Sunday, April 1, 2007

My THIRD Excerpt from "The Angels of Highway 7"

Okay, true believers. The following excerpt is (I think) pretty cool. Except that you MIGHT talke a dim view of one of my favorite characters, Doctor Vincente. He's an awesome character. But during this one telephone call, he and David discuss Catholic theology. I don't want to offend any of my Catholic friends out there, but I fear I might. Taking this one scene all by itself, it might be easy to think badly of Doctor Vincente. But if I gave you ALL of the prior Doctor Vincent scenes, I think you'd like him a whole lot better. Anyway, I'm gonna take a risk here and post this excerpt and hopefully I will NOT offend any Catholics who might read it. But I do encourage people to comment about it, most especially the Catholic ones.

[David gets a call from Father Lorenzo, urging him to come down to the medical clinic. When he arrives he finds Father Lorenzo is there, as is Marissa the town nurse, Carl the local fire chief, and Lydia the owner of the General Store.]

INT. MEDICAL CLINIC - WAITING ROOM SUNDOWN

DAVID
What hapened?

Father Lorenzo nods at Lydia. She explains:

LYDIA
It's Jazmelia. She went out to play after supper. When she came back her clothes were ripped. She was bleeding.

David's eyes widen. The others watch his reactions closely.

DAVID
Bleeding where?

LYDIA
Her arm. A terrible gash on her arm. I asked her if someone had hurt her.

DAVID
What'd she say?

LYDIA
She said no. She said she just fell.

DAVID
Do you believe her?

LYDIA
I don't know. I brought her here right away.

DAVID
Is she okay now?

MARISSA
She'll be fine. She didn't need stitches. Just a tetanus shot and some butterfly bandages. She's lying down in one of the wards right now.

DAVID
Does she seem at all traumatized?

MARISSA
No. But when I asked what happened, she said she was riding her bike and fell through a hole in the ground.

DAVID
What hole?

CARL
Looks like an old well in their back yard. Drove out with some of my guys from the station. We found boards covering it, but they were rotted. It's a wonder this didn't happen sooner. We saw the bike at the bottom.

DAVID
How deep was it?

CARL
Over 40 feet. We temporarilly covered it over again. And tomorrow we're going back with ropes and ladders to get the bike out. Then we'll seal it up the right way. Meanwhile we also found a piece of Jazzy's ripped shirt fluttering on the edges of the boards. So she really did fall in.

DAVID
How'd she get out?

LYDIA
She told me there was a man in there with her. She says he carried her out of the well.

DAVID
What man?

The whole room is silent. A few glances are exchanged.

DAVID
What man???

FATHER LORENZO
David, I think you should talk to her yourself.





CUT TO:

INT. CURTAINED EMERGENCY WARD - MOMENTS LATER

David, Lydia, and Father Lorenzo walk through the curtains. JAZZY, 6, is sitting up in bed, BLANKETS up to her waist, BANDAGES on her arm. She colors a PICTURE. As they all enter, she looks up and smiles.

FATHER LORENZO
Hi, Jazzy, how you doing now?

JAZZY
Okay. I'm almost done with the picture.

FATHER LORENZO
Miss Marisssa said you can go home in a bit. Until then can you tell Pastor David the same story you told me?

JAZZY
Everybody keeps asking. It's getting kinda boring.

FATHER LORENZO
I know, sweetheart, but Pastor David wants to hear it to.

DAVID
Hey, Jazzy. There was a man in the well?

JAZZY
Yeah.

DAVID
What was his name?

JAZZY
I asked him that. But he just said "My name isn't important."

DAVID
What did he look like?

JAZZY
He was really big.

DAVID
How big? Bigger than me?

JAZZY
Yes. Bigger than you. Bigger than Mr. Carl. He was even bigger than my dad. But don't tell my dad that. I don't want him to feel bad.

DAVID
How did he get in the well?

JAZZY
He was already down there.

DAVID
What was he doing down there?

JAZZY
I don't know.

DAVID
What happened to your bike?

JAZZY
It fell a really long way. I think it's broken but Mr. Carl said he'll try and fix it.

DAVID
How did your clothes get ripped?

JAZZY
I was riding my bike, and then the ground cracked and I fell and my shirt got stuck on the pointy parts. And it scratched a long line on my arm. And it really hurt.

DAVID
I'm sorry. Does it still hurt?

JAZZY
Not anymore.

DAVID
So your bike fell down a really long way. All the way to the bottom. Did you fall all the way to the bottom too?

JAZZY
No. The man caught me. He didn't catch my bike though. Just me.

DAVID
When he was in the well, was he standing on something?

JAZZY
I guess so. But I couldn't see what he was standing on.

DAVID
What are you drawing here?

She turns the crayon picture to him.

JAZZY
I'm not done yet. Father Lorenzo asked me to draw what happened.

It shows a well shaft, a bike at the bottom, and jagged boards up top. Mid-way down, two smiling stick-figures hover in mid-air: one a smiling girl, the other a very tall smiling MAN. David flips over the drawing and finds on the back a head-n-shoudlers portrait of a smiling MAN. His hair squiggling curls of orange. His eyes saphire blue.

DAVID
Is this what the man looked like?

JAZZY
Kinda. He had such pretty blue eyes. And his hair was really orange.


DAVID
What else did he say to you?

JAZZY
He told me to go in the house and show my arm to my mom. And then he disappeared.

DAVID
What does that mean: he disappeared?

JAZZY
He just disappeared.

DAVID
What did his clothing look like?

JAZZY
Kinda brown with lotsa speckles. And he smelled so nice.

DAVID
What did he smell like?

JAZZY
Like the desert after the rain.

David's eyes widen in unbridled shock.





CUT TO:

INT. PARSONAGE STUDY - NIGHT

David phone-talks to Doctor Vincente. We cut back and forth between David and Doctor V for this phone call.

DAVID
Those were her exact words: like the desert after the rain.

Doctor Vincente holds color FAXES of the crayon drawings.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
I just got done showing the pictures to my wife. According to her training, she says the little girl likes this man, trusts him, and considers him a friend. As for the story itself, my wife commented that children will often dream up elaborate fantasies about make-believe playmates or even make-believe rescuers. But that there are a few details of this child's account which point toward it being a real incident and not a figment of her delightful, child-like imagination.

DAVID
Such as?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
First, when a child manufactures a make-believe persona, the child will invariably invent a name for this pretend acquaintance. And yet, rather than making up a name for him, Jazzy claims he refused to give his name. What's more, claims he used a rather grown up word as part of his refusal: the word "important". "My name isn't important." While a 6-year-old has no problem grasping the meaning of that word, it's not one most small children prefer to use, especially during pretend play. So my wife is hard-pressed to imagine Jazmelia made up that bit of dialogue herself. Second, my wife asserts that while it's certainly true that children will often fabricate visuals like hair color and eye color, even sounds and tactile sensations, research shows that children rarely or never make up a smell. Most adults won't even go so far as to fantasize about a smell. So if Jazzy says this man smelled like the desert after the rain, she really did smell that smell.

DAVID
I too have smelled that smell.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Yes. I recall your telling me about it. Twice in fact.

DAVID
I thought it was only once.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
It happened once, but you told me twice. You told me 22 years ago about the three "mystery soldiers" in Thailand and the distinctive scent they left behind in your "humble jungle abode." You said at the time you couldn't place it. But that it was very clean, mildly fragrant, and that if you ever smelled it again you'd know it in an instant. Then you told me 5 years ago about the very first rainfall you experienced since relocating to Harksville and how "the smell of the desert after the rain" was exactly the same as that morning in Thailand.

DAVID
You remember more about our conversations than I do.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Our conversations tend to be more memorable than most. Meanwhile, the collaborative testimony of your local fire chief is also quite compelling.

DAVID
Father Lorenzo is frantic. If this was a real angelic encounter, he's obligated to tell his Bishop. And from there, things can get very messy for Jazmelia. He told me she might be subjected to a formal inquiry by a panel of priests from the Diocese.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Good God! She's only 6 years old!

DAVID
Exactly! And then it just gets worse! If they determine it was real, Father Lorenzo says in his experience, total strangers will endlessly stalk Jazzy out of curiosity. Or else to secure a blessing from her believing she'll be named a saint one day. She'll never have a normal life again!

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(Sounds like one downside to being a Catholic.) Is there any way Father Lorenzo can AVOID telling his Bishop?

DAVID
Only if he believes it wasn't a genuine encounter, or else if Jazmelia wasn't a Catholic and in his parish.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Any chance of successfuly converting this "wee little lass" in the next 24 hours?

DAVID
Not likely.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
(What a pity.) So, is Father Lorenzo waiting for YOUR verdict on all this?

DAVID
Unofficially and off the record, he is.


DOCTOR VINCENTE
So if you told him that you called me, and I said it was bogus, and you agreed it was bogus, and then you unofficially and off the record told him it was bogus, would he then officially and on the record declare it to be bogus himself?

DAVID
.............. Something like that.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Well then that settles it. In my opinion the man in the well was nothing but a figment of Jazzy's imagination.

DAVID
But that's a lie.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Well if it is a lie, it is my lie. NOT yours and NOT Father Lorenzo's. And therefore it is MY eternal soul that is in peril and no one else's.

DAVID
That poor little girl is now going to be told she's a liar when she knows full well that she's not.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
In light of the alternative, I'd say that will be far less traumatizing.

DAVID
She knows what she saw. Just like I know what I saw.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
She's probably not the only one, David. How many angelic sightings have occurred in Harksville in the past 4 weeks? How many were delusions, and how many were the genuine article?

DAVID
Only God knows that.

DOCTOR VINCENTE
Have you even bothered to try and find out? You said your wife has already amassed four spiral notebooks --and counting-- full of angel phone calls. How many sincere members of your flock whose names are in those notebooks are waiting "on pins and needles" for you to declare whether or not you believe their stories? And why is it that it took a crisis involving a little girl from someone else's parish to prompt you to call me for advice? You freely admit that you continue to remain silent on the subject of angels. Week after week, the members of your congregation dutifully arrive at your church eager to hear the word of God from you. And especially eager to hear if you're going to preach a sermon on the one thing they all have on their minds of late. And yet week after week you pretend the topic of angels doesn't even exist, even though those 4 notebooks clearly demonstrate that a small refresher course on the correct theology of angles is more than in order at this time. And need I remind you, David: there are over 400 verses in the Bible having to do with angels. I'd say that alone warrants "a sermon or two" from your pulpit on the subject during the course of your lifetime. And now would be an ideal occasion for you to embark upon "angel sermon number one" of your career.

DAVID
But what if I get it wrong?

DOCTOR VINCENTE
David! You are a shepherd! You have a flock to tend. Start. Tending it.

David sits frozen in terror. He slowly bows his head in shame until Doctor Vincente adds in a much gentler tone:

DOCTOR VINCENTE
And who knows, but that perhaps you have been brought to this position for such a time as this?

David shoots his head up at that in a new found awe.

No comments: