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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Promotional Intro to SURRENDER

 July 5, 2020

  They picked a hell of a day for a revolution.
  Phoenix heats up in the summer. Prior to this day, the regional all-time high had been 124F, back in 1994, when Sky Harbor Airport had closed due to fear the runway surfaces would blow the tires off airplanes. As undiscouraged revelers from the previous night’s Independence Day celebration staggered towards their cars for the winding rides home, the nighttime temperature had been a humid yet dusty 115, even before the morning sun peeked in to further bake  Camelback Mountain. Monsoons remained a predictable phenomenon in the desert city, typically in late August and early September. What this year’s local TV meteorologists called early monsoons were referred to by the nationals as a derecho, a wind swath exceeding 240 miles in width, full of giggling microbursts and hysterical downbursts. The local stations eschewed such jargon, fearing its use might panic the local citizenry.
   When the first reports of gunshots came into the police precinct dispatch stations at 8:15 that morning, the sky had mutated from a high brown to an odd low violet swirled with shadows made of rain matched in force by hail and spiraling wind, the latter clung to by brittle sands. Parades of noise--some deafening, others ancient whispers--strutted and goosesteped from the mountain precipices, charged down trails long-abandoned by weekend hikers, vaulted over dry washes and halted with an eerie abruptness as counterwinds met their assault. Unexpected as the derecho was, it made good cover for the insurgency. The better part of Phoenix didn’t know what had happened until their device of choice told them it was all over.
  In the case of what came to be called the Phoenix Invasion, “It’s all over” was something of an optimistic embarrassment.
  Patrons inside Old North Vegan, sobering from the strains and rigors of mixing wine and whisky late into the night before, stopped nattering and strained to make out the sound that had buckled the tinted window looking out onto Scottsdale Road. The waiter thought it might have been a cherry bomb--it wouldn’t have been the first time someone had put leftover fireworks to use. The bartender suspected a car backfiring a bit close to the tavern. A customer with shades and a spiked haircut wondered if somebody had fired off a gun. But that was ridiculous. This was the civilized part of the valley. Gunfire only happened in the minority sections. He adjusted his sunglasses and went back to work on his Bloody Mary. The woman across the table tittered without quite knowing why.
  The shot had been fired from near the summit of the Camelback Mountain range, the tallest of the mountains surrounding what the locals called the Valley of the Sun.
  The Old North Vegan was not the only place to experience gunfire that Sunday morning.
  Ray Trent was teaching his son Arnie how to drive the family’s classic Oldsmobile 98. Because of the bad weather, Ray had wanted to try another day, but Arnie had insisted and eventually his father acquiesced. With Ray riding shotgun, the younger Trent was backing the car out of their curved driveway when they both heard what the elder Trent was certain had been a rifle shot. A veteran of the first Iraq War, Ray told police the shot had missed the car but might have lodged in the neighbor’s front yard. According to what Trent later told the city newspaper, “The dispatcher told me they’d check it out as soon as possible.”
 
  The shot that missed the Trents had been fired from a perch near the top of Piestewa Peak, the second highest range in the Valley. The type of gun that fired this shot, the one at Old North Vegan, and the hundreds of others throughout the Valley that morning was the British-made Accuracy International AXMC rifle. An ideal weapon at distances of up to one mile in clear weather, these bolt-action rifles were on the list of preferred sniper weapons by NATO soldiers. The shots this morning had not been fired by those soldiers. And the weather had been anything but clear.
  Far across town, interrupting the emerging housing projects sprouting up throughout Ahwatukee and Chandler, reclined the battered expanse known as South Mountain. Once the hiking location for the lower and working classes, South Mountain had of late been ripped into by city governments and developers intent on expanding a freeway loop. To the good fortune of the workmen involved in this project, they were not required to dig on weekends, yet no one had bothered to remove the cones and barricades that usually backed up morning traffic for miles, leaving the makeshift highway lightly traveled this Sunday. The Ahwatukee side did not share in this relief, however, so that by the time the shooting had ceased, dozens of homes suffered more damage than even the derecho itself could have caused.

  By the conclusion of the first assault at a few minutes before nine, thirty-seven people had been wounded. No fatalities resulted, although that fact did not discourage some internet media companies from speculating that it was likely the police simply had not discovered those unable to speak for themselves. To that end, immediate speculation as to who the perpetrators were ranged from one end of the political spectrum to the other. Depending on one’s preferred source of information, suspects ranged from members of the Black Lives Matter movement to enthusiasts of the Sovereign Citizens brigands. The reality during the first few hours was that city, state and federal law enforcement were trying to figure a way to approach the origin points of the assault and had not had time to worry about who was behind it all. No press conference was scheduled, although TV news programs across the world broadcast constant updates, mostly fed in from the three local affiliates. The Phoenix Police Chief warned everyone within Metro Phoenix to stay indoors, that the police were questioning anyone they saw out of doors, and that the people involved in this psychotic action would be brought to a “swift and proper justice.”

  Wilson Ratner, the Officer in Charge of the State of Arizona’s Office of Field Operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, arrived at South Mountain with nineteen support agents just before noon. Military assault helicopters had been positioned above this and the other three target locations for hours, but except for the sudden scampering of javelina and bobcats, no activity had been reported. As Ratner climbed out of his Jeep G503, he almost lost his balance from the buffeting winds. Ignoring the binoculars hanging on his neck, he scanned the south valley. A brown rain was forming over Camelback and a hail storm battered the west Valley. How many mornings had he sweated out the traffic on his way to the downtown headquarters? Today nothing moved but the weather.
  Twenty years earlier, a young Will Ratner had testified before a Congressional hearing investigating the annual “Good Ol Boy Round-Up” certain white agents had been hosting for years. While his testimony had shed much light on the racial tensions within the ATF itself, resistance had been fierce and Ratner had been assigned to most of the hotbeds of racial combustion in the country, finally landing in Phoenix five years back. His years in the Valley of the Sun had been easy ones, largely administrative in nature, while most of the White Axis back in Washington had either retired or resigned. Today he was forty-five. And while he knew his physical condition fell something short of his younger charges, he had kept his mind sharp as a pair of alligator shoe tips.
  “You won’t believe this, Commander.”
  Ratner lowered his binoculars and turned toward Dwyer, the Special Agent and Ratner’s second in command.
  “Well? Try me.”
  Dwyer said, “Holes. Tunnels. Dozens of them.”
  The Sebastian Barricade, a stretch of three-quarters of a mile near the northern summit, was what Dwyer meant.
  From Ratner’s Confidential Report to ATF Headquarters:
Following negative results of thorough electronic scanning of contained area, Special Agents determined fire zone had been positioned with twelve AXMC rifles, these being confiscated by the Agents and transported to SID for processing. Preliminary observation indicates suspects kept weapons buried several feet below the so-called Sebastian Barricade for undetermined time and retrieved them for use the morning of the incident. Also found at the South post was a  rain-soaked book of paintings.

  While the people of Phoenix remained dutifully inside their homes, many locals reached out to one another via social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter. The FBI was already coordinating with these and other social giants for any suspicious type of chatter that might suggest advanced knowledge of the attacks. Aside from obvious keywords such as “shooting,” “rifles,” “AXMC,” and the names of the various mountain foothills, the electronic surveillance officers were looking for emotionally charged language, including such words as “hate,” “bully,” “disgusting,” “outrage” and “avenge.” They also paid close attention to posts and tweets within the Phoenix area composed in potentially hostile languages.
  Some people, affixed to their local and cable news outlets for constant updates, were quick to blame foreigners, especially those from the Middle East. And while in the light of various attacks over the years, such suspicions were not altogether unfounded, the reality turned out to be a bit closer to home.
  One man, who claimed to work construction along the expanded 202-East, told his Facebook friends that for weeks now he had observed a bunch of “long-hairs in military fatigues” “traipsing up and down” the near side of South Mountain, “acting crazy” and occasionally toting what the man said looked like rifles. Asked by the two local FBI agents who visited him that afternoon what he had meant by “acting crazy,” the man had been unable to describe what he meant, only saying that the half dozen or so people he had seen looked out of place, even in an area prone to attracting what he called “weirdos.” Already nonplussed by this encounter, the agents lost all interest when they spoke with the man’s foreman, who told them the man was unreliable, often coming to work intoxicated, and would have been fired already if he weren’t the project director’s nephew.
  Around this same time, another pair of FBI agents interviewed a local Somali taxi driver whose cell phone communications were actively monitored by the authority of a FISA warrant. That morning agents had overheard the driver tell a relative in Mogadishu that following a routine drop-off before the early morning storms he had witnessed “several men and maybe women going up Camelback Mountain off the trails and behind rich houses.” The reason he gave the Agents who spoke with him about the reason for the conversation was, as the Somalian himself put it, “I drop off young white women at this house many times. They party. They come home. I never before see these other people sneaking around.” Unable to give other details than that the six or seven people he saw were more than a thousand feet away from him and moving in the general direction of the top of the mountain, the driver was released.
   That same day agents from the FBI and ATF interviewed dozens of other “witnesses,” their investigations by mid-afternoon resulting in little more than a mass of disjointed splurges of speculation. The derecho broke apart and its offshoots of whipping winds and muddy skies dissipated. As what would have been a late afternoon rush hour came and went, a bizarre silence gripped the valley in a glove of isolation. From inside one’s house, alone or with family, a peek out the door revealed little except for the site of neighborhoods with no children playing in the streets, no teenagers racing their cars, no parents coming home from work, no barbeques, no loud arguments. I jumped when my landline phone rang just before six that evening.
  The only person who had that phone number was my assistant. I recovered in time to answer it before the voicemail kicked in.
 “Yeah, Janey. What’s the story?”
  “Kevin, I just checked the office messages.”
  “Aren’t you the ambitious one? Anything that won’t wait?”
  She cleared her throat, something I’ve noticed she does whenever she thinks I’m missing the point. She said, “How about a confession?”
  I automatically sat down and began slipping into my shoes. Something in Janey’s tone of voice made me suspect I might feel better with them on.
  “What do you have to confess, darling?”
  Ignoring my lame attempt at civility, Janey said, “A man calling himself Al Vance left a message.”
  “Who is Al Vance?”
  “If you’ll please just let me tell it? Okay?”
  I began to think I would need my jacket and tie as well. “Go ahead, Janey.”
  “The message was that he was Al Vance. He wanted to talk with Kevin Friar. He wants to confess to the shootings this morning.”
  “Might be a crackpot.”
  “I realize that.”
  “No way that one person did all those shootings.”
  “I get it, Kevin. He went on to say that while he thought he knew what he was doing, that things are going very fast and he needs to slow the other people down and that what he really wants right now is the advice of a good defense counsel. He expects you to call him back.”
  I was going to need that jacket and tie for sure. “You check him out?”
  “I waded through all the area Al Vance listings on social. Nothing you would call an exact match up or even close. Phone number isn’t registered with any major carriers. And before you ask, I did check our old and active client lists to see if the name was cross-referenced. No soap.”
  “Darling, you do good work.”
  “Gee, thanks, boss. You want the phone number? You know you can’t leave your house? Only people still on the roads are law enforcement.”
  “No law against video conferencing. If this amounts to anything.”
  She cleared her throat again.
  “I’ll be careful,” I told her, unaware as I was as to what that statement might even mean.

  As any street patrol officer will admit, it is one thing to issue an order akin to Martial Law. Quite another thing indeed is it to enforce such an edict. The presence of any type of uniformed law enforcement officers on every street corner in and of itself would have ignited more disorder than it quelled. Likewise, even the random shakedown of every two-bit ne'er do well or derelict with a personality disorder and pants as thin as notebook paper would have wasted everyone’s time. So the people who even on a typical day popped in and out of cracks in the sidewalks, holes in the store fronts and shadows in the alleys went about their businesses largely unimpeded by the muscles and minds of the law.
  A local tavern of my acquaintance thrived from the largesse of just such clientele. Marti, after whom the bar was named and whose arms possessed the musculature of two (or maybe three) pythons wrapped together,  had never been a slave to state or local ordinances. When Arizona banned smoking in public places, she gave away free packs of Camels at the door and told her patrons to light up. If you were a little under legal age and looked to Marti as if you needed a  beer, she would serve you what she thought you could handle. But if you wanted trouble, Marti was not above cupping your head in those pythons and hurling you face first into the street with the admonition to “Come back tomorrow! No harm done!”
  Eight to ten patrons sat at the bar when I walked in, none of them paying me the slightest attention. All eyes--except Marti’s--were fixed on the TV news that hung on the wall.
  “Mr Friar! Johnny Walker Black with soda tonight?”
  I nodded and she mixed. “I’m meeting somebody,” I said, looking around. “Guess he’s not here yet.”
  She made a point of touching my hand as she served the drink. “Table five’s open, if you want it. Waitress didn’t come in tonight. Cook neither. No surprise. You want anything to eat, I can still cook you up something.”
  Marti made the best chili I have ever had in my life. It took self control to pass on the offer. I could see she wanted to get back to the television, so I thanked her and waited at table five.
  Lester Holt was breaking in to announce a press conference by the President when Al Vance walked into Marti’s.
  He cut quite the dash. Standing just shy of five feet six, his left shoulder hung a tad lower than its mate. Though clean-shaven, he wore his dark brown hair nearly to his waist. A camouflage field jacket was opened over his bare torso, his jeans were black and his hiking boots matched one another. His black eyes seemed just a bit small for his face.
  No one paid him attention as he slid into the seat across the table from me.
  He talked about the Arizona Diamondbacks starting lineup. He gave a monologue about the vile nature of cooking oil. He proffered a mini-dissertation regarding the uses to which picnic tables could be put. He opined that marijuana was the opium of the masses. He made liberal use of quotes from William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and Boz  Scaggs. He talked about all these matters in what I can only describe as a loud whisper, accompanied as it was with incongruous hand gestures and facial quirks which I imagine he thought emphasized whatever his points were.
  When I returned to the table with my second drink, Vance got down to business.
  “Correct me if I’m wrong, Mr Friar. A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent that client from committing a criminal act. True?”
  “That is true. We call it the ‘future crimes’ clause of our professional ethics.”
  “That come up much in your line of work?”
  “It tries to come up. I usually stop the client from getting to that point, both in terms of disclosure as well as deed.”
  “You sure do talk like a lawyer, don’t you?”
  “Whereas you just--talk. A lot.”
  He sat back against the booth as if trying to decide whether to be offended or amused. While he made up his mind, I continued. “If you want to consider this chat a consultation with me, that’s fine. The we can decide if you will be a client. In the meantime, we can agree that any remarks you make to me at this preliminary conversation are off the record.”
  “You ever heard of the Identity Caucus, Mr Friar? I’m just gonna guess you haven’t.”
  I held up a hand to silence him. “They are an anti-tax, anti-Muslim, anti-gay, anti-immigrant organization in the Southwest.”
  “They is we. They is me.”
  “Congratulations. I don’t represent hate groups.”
  He laughed. He laughed loud enough that heads turned from the bar. Marti turned up the TV volume and Vance and I resumed our conversation.
  “Right. You only represent liberal hate groups. But you’d say that if they’re liberal, they can’t be hate groups. I keep forgetting.”
  I was beginning to dislike this Al Vance person.
  “What is it that you want?”
  “I came up with the idea for today’s shooting spree, Mr Friar. Fifty-seven armed soldiers from the American Border Patrol, United Families, Vinlanders, Soldiers of Odin, some holdouts from the Sovereign Citizen Movement. I walked among them all a year ago and today brought it all down to show this fair city and the rest of this country what could happen if they don’t wake up to what is really going on.”
  “Sorry, Al. I’m due back on Earth.”
  “Funny. Yeah, a real funny guy. Well, try this out, funny guy. Those were British-made weapons used this morning. We dug tunnels that led us to the firing points. And someone left a book of Escher drawings up at the South Mountain post. Think I picked all that up from television?”
  I did not think that. I did not know quite who I was dealing with.
  I said, “So far, you are confessing to an officer of the court about a hundred federal crimes.”
  “Off the record, remember?”
 “What the hell do you want?”
 “The Identity Caucus is my idea, start to finish. Maybe there’s a couple guys I brought into this, a couple guys who think maybe this was all their idea. Guys who maybe want to do more than just scare people. If we’d wanted to off a bunch of civilians, we could have done it. Sheep. Ducks. Waiting to be slaughtered while they try to remember where they left that box of ammo. That was the point of the exercise. Civilians give away their freedom to a bunch of sissy politicians and so-called law enforcement types. This kind of action on our part, Mr Friar, scares people. Maybe wakes them up. But maybe now a couple guys with no self control, no discipline, maybe these guys want to take it to the next level.”
  “What’s the next level, Vance?”
  “Unconditional surrender.”
  “Huh?”
  “Your side. The status quo. The liberals. The police. The whole damned government unconditionally surrenders. Maybe some bombs go off sometime tomorrow or the day after. Maybe some buildings burn. Maybe some real target practice. These two guys I’m maybe thinking of might be power tripping on a whole wild level. What I didn’t count on when I set this up was how our group might get all crazy with thinking that the whole town was just sitting there waiting to be mowed down or blown to hell or whatever. These two guys have lots of charisma, Mr Friar. I don’t scare easy myself. These two guys scare me some. Maybe a lot.”
 I had a few questions. “Where did you get the weapons?”
 “If you mean specifically, I’m not going to tell you that right now. I will tell you that some people in other countries agree with our aims. Being pro-American isn’t just for Americans, you know.”
  “You mentioned fifty-seven people. Is that just some number you made up?”
  “Fifty-seven people operating in the field this morning. We’re a lot bigger than that. But those in the know, including myself and maybe these other two guys, yeah, right, that’s a real number.”
  “You have some kind of clubhouse or what?”
  “Again with the funny guy thing. Look, I made the rounds the last year. There’s pissed off people everywhere. There’s people who get it. Some of those people who get it have money. Some have motivation. Some have training. I have all three. What I also have that these maybe two guys don’t have is brains. Vision. Self-discipline.”
  He was persuasive. There was no getting around that. If he was telling the truth and if his “maybe two guys” existed, the people of Phoenix were in considerable danger.
  “What is it you want me to do, Vance?”
  “Go to Homeland Security, ATF, FBI--whoever it is--and make a deal for me.  I’ll tell them everything I know and I skate on all charges. Saving lives, Mr Lawyer man. Mr Funny Guy. Mr Friar. What do you say?”
  “I have your number. I’ll call you later tonight.” I turned toward the bar. “Marti?”
  “Yes, Mr Friar?”
  “I believe this gentleman needs to be thrown out of your bar.”

  “Right away, Mr Friar.”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

SIGNS OF LIFE

                                   

May 2018

Oh, twiddle-dee-twat. Some third generation droppings from Oswald Mosley is wedding his childhood pederast fantasy while looming in the saddle, looking for all the world as if he wants to say to his bride, "Oh, rather, dear. Dont me whiskers make you want to ride the pogo stick of joy?" To which she replies, "'Ow mooch ya reckon we could geet for this horse?"


Give or take accessibility to weapons, is it possible that the pressures on students these days are too much for some folks to handle? In my day, you just spiked the aggressor's coffee or punched him out and would probably be friends with the dude by day's end. I was reading an FBI report from 2001 recently and that report claimed that 25% of all high school students fit the profile for potential school shooters (disaffected 17 year old white males with behavioral issues, lousy home lives, etc). Statistics in this regard are kind of pointless, I suppose. But what is not pointless is that this problem is not going away. I was talking with a guy attending a high-end college prep academy this week and he went on about not having any friends here and how snotty everyone was. All I could think to tell him was that nothing that happens in high school will matter a year after graduation, that he should just try to ride it out, which was pretty lame on my part. But damned if I have any answers.


I live in the city, where cars zoom and roar all the time, where buildings go up and roads get crumpled and all that jazz. But every morning a bunch of birds sing in the tree right outside my front door. Every morning Cody sticks his wet nose against my back. Lolo mews/meows for food. Gilligan and Blue bang on their cages. The urn on the mantle stares back at me. I smile and a new day flickers into life. Good morning, y'all!


In this ahistorical land of idiocy, certain words no longer have any meaning at all. Such words include "deposit," "sports bar" and "loft." A deposit, by definition, is something you get back minus any damages that are your fault. You will never ever get back a deposit so forget it and dont call it that. Call it a "moving in penalty." There is likewise no such thing as a sports bar. Your bar has alcohol, at least one patron who likes sports and at least one TV. All bars have these things and no argument. Therefore, all bars are sports bars. As to "loft," this used to mean an elevated apartment with open space and few walls. Today it means an apartment, probably one that used to be used to shoot heroin before the slumlords realized that most people will believe anything and just get all oozy inside when they hear the word "loft." If you have a root cellar, call it a loft and rent it to junkies for $1350 per month. Tack on a deposit. Tell the renters it used to be a sports bar.


I'd like to say thank you to Corporate America for quickly devolving into a gangster class similar to that of the 1920s. We already have the New Warren Harding in office. We have men in Italian suits strutting and flexing. We have a Hearst-like media empire that sensationalizes the corruption while pretending to condemn it. We have an economy based on illegal drug use (rather than alcohol). We have a massive chunk of wealth possessed by a vicious elite. And we have a glaringly vacuous social culture. I thank you today because--having seen this movie before--we know that your days are winding down.


Along with the rest of the universe, I have no idea who Bethany Kennedy is and her manifest insignificance on this oblivious planet would not concern anyone were it not for her inclinations towards censorship. She has reported a post I made on Nextdoor and wishes to have it removed. You see, I chased away a guy who was looking to break in to a neighbor's house and thought it might be wise to alert the neighborhood on Nextdoor. In the course of describing the culprit, I referred to him as "mulatto" because I have always felt stupid saying "Swirly." Ms Kennedy argued that my use of the word was racist. She is wrong. Just because some people choose to interpret the word incorrectly does not make the word a bad one. I could have said "A man who is the obvious result of generational miscegenation" but that would have been an unnecessary distraction in a post about a possible break-in. I could have said "a light-skinned black," but that might have been inaccurate. I could have said "A man of color influenced by Indo-European imperialism" but I would not have known what that meant. So I said "mulatto." Nextdoor is now reviewing the post at Bethany Kennedy's request to see if it violates their terms of service, which I assure you I have never read and never shall. I have my own terms of service which include trying to protect the people of this neighborhood from unwanted intrusions from the money-grubbing industrialists as well as the homeless drug addicts, both of which groups prey on a struggling inner city population. So Bethany Kennedy may drop her panties and piss on that if she likes. In the long run, no one will remember her for being anything but an idiot. BTW, here is the top definition from the Urban Dictionary: Nick for a person of mixed heritage..namely of black and white...can be construed as a racist term but its not nearly as racist as the insecure fuckheads who try to force people of mixed heritage to identify as one or the other...as if our society is really that "black and white", so to speak.


Several people took me to task for my recent comments about the local walkout. The tasking took the form of unfriending and the occasional PM calling me, among other things, a counter-revolutionary tool of the elites and a Trotsky-ite pig. Hey, I was impressed they even knew who Trotsky was, so I couldnt take that much offense. Here is my point. This is Facebook, the least reliable of all social media, upon which I voiced some contradictory opinions in the least constructive manner imaginable. While I am pleased that anyone would value my opinions enough to become upset by them, I am nonetheless concerned that anyone took my remarks with that much seriousness. I say this with no humility, I assure you. I am writing now to urge each of you to please for God's sake remember what a wise man (probably the Philharmonic Orchestra) once said: The medium is the message. Nothing that happens on Facebook is inherently real. It might be accurate, it might be baloney. But under no circumstance should you assume that it de facto reflects reality no matter who is posting.
To come to the point, at long last: I believed then as I do now that the recent teacher walk-out lacked many factors of a legitimate job action. I further implied that many of my youthful experiences with educators left me dissatisfied. So what? Who cares what a disgruntled oldster says about such things on FB? If anyone believes I have been unnerved by the messages I received, I will quote Bugs Bunny: "They dont know me too well, do they?"


I didnt have much use for babysitter/thought police (teachers) when I was a kid and nothing much has changed. Here are the reasons you will lose, even if you think you win.
1. No integrity: Blocking people's driveways, parking in small business parking lots so real customers can't, throwing your trash in people's yards? Fuck you.
2. No guts: You wont call it a strike because you might get in trouble? You are supposed to be teachers. Read a history book. Better people than you struck for their rights. But those people had dignity, which brings me to point #3.
3. No fashion sense:Your shirts are ugly and honking a horn is not political commitment.You think this action is about being seen. Put down your fucking phone for five seconds (that's called alliteration) and do some looking of your own.
4. No brains: One of your group called me an idiot yesterday because I suggested you go to the governor's house instead of the capitol. Hey, teach! Read a book instead of twitter.


April 2018

Tale from the Crib: Walking Cody in greenbelt I spied a woman minutes ago pleasuring a man in an oral capacity. Not wanting Cody to ask me about it, I hurried him inside and called the police dispatcher. With some delicacy, I explained the woman was fellating the man. "She's hitting him?" No, she is fellating him. "I dont understand." OK, I said, she is polishing his knob, sharpening his pencil, ensuring a happy ending, kissing his crotch, using her head without a license--in short, she is giving him a blow job! "Oh! I see. Can I get a description?" Yes, she is the one with the head bobbing and he is the one lying on his back! "We'll send an officer right out."


The next time you order something from Amazon, you should talk to someone who packs the boxes. She will tell you how she worries about keeping up with the pace, how her back hurts, how bored she is. The next time you order a venti sugar-free non-fat vanilla soy double shot decaf no foam extra hot Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with light whip and extra syrup from Starbucks, take a second to ask yourself what kind of shit that guy has put up with today so you can feel superior. The next time you fast forward through movie credits so you dont have to be bothered acknowledging the craftspeople who worked their brains out so you could yuk it up at some moronic romantic comedy (then bitch about the cost of the popcorn), dont forget to fuck yourself. Some day the people you delight in ignoring may find your middle class lifestyle vaguely offensive and take it from you without permission. Or you could try to be a human being, if it's not too much trouble. These people are some of my friends and they are smarter and one hell of a lot nicer than I am (most people are, of course). All I am asking is that you consider the real, often hidden cost of CheapFastEasy.


Tomorrow morning I shall be happy to take the idiot urban bicycle someone left in my yard and hurl it through the window of the nearest Dutch Bros coffee shop while screaming the word "Diversity" with rich sarcasm. Anything that claims to make your life easier is messing with you. Life is not easy. Life is crawling naked up a saguaro cactus in a hail storm with bombs going off all around you. It may be interesting, but it is never easy, except for idiots who make bikes to be left in my yard, which, as I say, is a matter I will make "not easy" for some poor schlep first thing in the morning.


March 2018


Here is a lesson in safe logic. I picked up a young woman at a Safeway today. She was going less than one-tenth mile and had no groceries. Because I had driven 20 minutes to reach her, I was a bit curious. Then I saw she was going to the Planned Parenthood offices and I noticed this because of the protesters outside the office. I said to the woman, "You wanted a bodyguard, didn't you?" She didnt say anything, but she did try to smile. So I opened the car door for her and was escorting her to the front door when some young guy with pamphlets tried to talk to her. I put myself between them and when he kept talking at her I popped him in the nose. No serious damage was done but the woman was able to get into the building without further harassment.





Here is my point: The rights of the demonstrators dont mean shit to me. Laws passed by elitist thugs mean even less. If you think this woman deserved to be hassled by total strangers while she was getting information (or whatever) about a very hard decision (again, she was ALONE), then we cannot be friends any more. We have no rights that we are not prepared to defend. Her right to control her own reproductive system outweighs the indefensible rights of a bunch of anti-social sanctimonious hypocrites who want her to birth a child they themselves will later resent.


So pacifism took a holiday this morning. Now, to be fair and to avoid looking like too much of a do-gooder myself, the guy I punched was a puny little runt and his nose bleed stopped before I even got back in the car. But it did feel satisfying to place the needs of one of society's less fortunate members over the "rights" of people unable to mind their own damned business.






Judas H Priest, what a day. You want a fun-filled story? Here it comes. Took some poor bastard from uptown America all the way to Gilbert this aft. Silly fool kept making suggestions which riled me a bit (take this route, turn down the A/C, gimme HOV, etc), but I didn't press the EJECT button. We arrive at his Gilbert home and as he is getting out, a graying biker roars up and gets nose to nose with my guy. I so hate helping people I dont like, but I did tell Biker Man to back off. Son of a bitch! He got back on his wheels and amscrayed outta there. Musta been part of a sissy club. Then! Then! Then! Feeling like a hot shot mofo myself, I started blaring the J Geils version of the song "Land of 1,000 Dances" at max vol and while at a red light I was shouting right along with it when this Gilbert cop pulls up beside me and tells me that this is Gilbert and to turn it down. So I turned it down so he could hear me do my best Brando impression and I said (from "Mutiny on the Bounty") "Go home and pray to whatever pig you pray to!" The light changed, he was committed to a left turn and I got the hell out of there. Why am I not in jail? Why have I not been locked away? Clearly, someone is not paying heed to my dirty deeds--done dirt cheap.




After my evening meal of grapefruit with a side of blueberry yogurt, I was ready to listen to Cody's oral presentation of his book report (the book was Why I Love Cats by Professor Herman Meow), when my dog stopped in the middle of it all and made such a keen observation that I must share it with all of you. Cody said, "You are pushing sixty, Master. Has it occurred to you that from this point forward, your life is analogous to riding a bicycle backwards? There is always the chance that you might get to where you are going, but you are more likely than not to go flying ass over tea kettle, you bloody wretched human."
I pondered this a moment and finally sent the cur to bed with the admonition that if I caught him staring at the cat pictures with a flashlight under his blanket that I would set fire to the book. He snarled contemptuously and exited the room, leaving me to dwell on his bicycle theory.
I may have reached the point where I am riding backwards on a metaphoric two-wheeler with an eye more on where I have been than on where I am going. But I am still moving forward, even if I have my back facing it.


Dec 2015

I suspect that very good music can save your soul in ways that neither politics nor religion can do. For me, it's rock n roll. For you perhaps it's some mutation of acoustic hip hop electronica bong blowing. It doesn't matter. If the songs are played with passion, abandon and maybe a minor amount of skill (the least important ingredient), then you can be liberated from the tortures of banality, duplicity, betrayal and apathy.



We had a very unpleasant girl fight in the neighbs this evening. Four girls beating on one girl, the whole scene ugly and stupid. Many calls to 911 brought the popos while Lisa Ann and some other neighbors broke it up, likely saving the victim's life. Very proud of Lisa Ann Goodrich Terzo. I went chasing after two of the girls and one of them turned to me and said, "You want some too?" Fourteen year old girl! I could hardly believe it. Cars stopped along the road so people could watch. The cops body slammed the girl who asked me that, cuffed her and threw her in the cop mobile. What a repulsive incident.




Sunday, March 18, 2018

THE ANARCHIST MEETS THE GANGSTER

    I am not writing this on a Sunday afternoon to bitch about such petty matters as how often things stink on ice. The reason I am writing it is to convince you to engage in the violent overthrow of the capitalist system. I might be joking, but only if the justice department gets tired of pursuing the gangster class. I'm no gangster. What I am is a revolutionary mofo, a dashing daredevil of a roustabout who thinks "Wild Thing" by the Troggs represents the complete and total spirit of life on this madly spinning orb, who believes in love as the ultimate force for change, who had the unearned privilege of spending the important part of his life with Lisa Ann, who has squandered most of his other privileges over the years (including some--let's face it--considerable writing talent, long-winded though that magnificent gift might be; never met a sentence yet I couldn't elongate with a semi-colon or two), and who loves those he loves with a sacred intensity and mentally disembowels those who cross him with evil intentions (and if you doubt this last point, check with a former high school English teacher, a former manager at American Express and a former Hertz employee, to name only a very few). 
   To repeat, I came from some degree of economic privilege, perhaps not in the same stratum as a well-known real estate fraud turned politician, but until I blew my largesse on wine women and song, I never wanted for anything. Being a proud underachiever, if not a card-carrying pragmatic anarchist, then certainly a member of a shrinking group of fifty-somethings whose liberal arts education led them to suspect that everything everyone from Walter Chronkite to Lester Holt ever said was nothing more or less than a meaty tranquilizer, I have come to have faith in the concept that each woman and man has a responsibility to prove John Donne's meditations correct when he wrote 

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.    

The bells are clanging in all their tintinnabulating glory. Open your windows, play Woody Guthrie, bring Robert Altman back from the grave (little bit of danger in that last point because it was the Lazarus miracle that got Jesus killed, after all, and as Bob Dylan pointed out, you ain't Him) and in essence wake the fuck up. The bells are going mad. It's just hard to hear them over all the purposeful distractions the gangsters bang in our ears.
    I haven't the time to worry over symbolic bullshit such as Trump and Putin because real as they very well may be, they remain figureheads for a more severe malaise and its name is gangster capitalism, a term coined and misapplied by Michael Woodiwiss in his book by that name. Admittedly, as figureheads go, these two wield more power than Queen Elizabeth, a lovable and simpleminded wretch if ever one lived. But Putin and Trump, murderers both, are just freaks of nature, soulless imps whose skins hold back mountains of puking maggots. 
   The real gangsters are not on cable news. The real gangsters are cable news. The real gangsters own the music business. The real gangsters own your favorite ride sharing company. The real gangsters own the GMOs and drugs you buy to get healed from the effects of the GMOs. They own the trees and the water and the air that we breathe. 
    I should say, they think they own these things. The reality is that we own them by virtue of our virtue. They own them by right of their wealth and the limited smarts to know how to use it. We own them by virtue of our virtue. 
   But virtue is not virtue unless from time to time it slams up against vice. 
   That is where I come in quite handy.
   You reading this (for which I do thank you--these words mean nothing without you perceiving them, and while I'm about it, thanks to Descartes as well) know which camp you live in. You may have been imbued with the glow from whatever brand of spiritualism caught you in dire need. You may have inspired yourself from readings of suffrage or the Wobblies. You may tell jokes in a nightclub act while wondering if anything matters. You may have lost everything in this stinking rotten sinkhole of a world that ever mattered to you and wile away the hours trying to decide between a Phil Ochs hanging and a Marilyn Monroe overdose. I have done all of those things and more and I'm not even half as good as you. 
   But as you lie back loving the shit out of such pathetic self pity, you could decide which side of the battle you are on. As I see it, three sides exist.
   Side one: The virtuous side, those whom I presume will inherit the earth after sides two and three have wiped one another out. These are the adherents of the non-revisionist New Testament Jesus, of Gandhi, of King, and of thousands more whose names have washed away with the changing of a TV channel.
   Side two: The vice side, those who will perish in whatever conflagration comes from such beauty as the repeated bombing of Chicago's Haymarket statue (the city finally had to hide the damned statue to keep people from blowing it up); the early labor organizers who beat the bile out of the white cops who were doing their job even though their job was against their own best interest and therefore in these parts had every stitch coming; the women of the early 20th century who defied their own fears and faced down unimaginable ridicule for the right to vote in meaningless elections; the Nat Turners, the John Browns--in short, the people who make the work of the Jesuses and Gandhis and Kings possible. 
   Side three: the people whose souls get gobbled up by the gangster capitalists. Around here we call these people idiot consumers, those who fight for their right to party, those who may be irked by the status quo but who, when the rubber meets the diaphragm, will sell you out for a prime spot in line at Wal Mart on Black Fucking Friday.
   You have some kind of special talent yourself. You can do one or more things better than other people. That's great. Congratulations. What matters is using it, be it virtuous or vicious in its implications. While you're deciding, Exxon is melting the ice caps. And they think it's funny.

Monday, February 26, 2018

SELF ASSESSMENT

Pro: Very kind and gentle with women, children, dogs, cats, horses  and birds.
Con: Is not super fond of reptiles, amphibians, mountain-dwelling felines and rats.

Pro: Knows more about American movies released between 1939 and 1992 than both Siskel and Ebert ever did.
Con: Will prove this point if permitted.

Pro: Extraordinarily hard worker.
Con: Wants you to know this and occasionally praise him for it.

Pro: Has memorized every popular song recorded between 1954 and 1985.
Con: Struggles to insert this knowledge into inappropriate conversations. A wop bop a lu bop a wop bam boom. 

Pro: Can learn new things quickly.
Con: Has not bothered to learn most advantageous things such as driving a stick or most other automotive niceties.

Pro: Will try any kind of new food.
Con: Obsesses over this.

Pro: Remains an excellent writer. Considers himself one of the best.
Con: Tends to snipe inappropriately at other excellent writers.

Pro: Does not smoke. He vapes.
Con: Rather intolerant of those who do smoke.

Pro: Can make damn near anybody laugh without effort.
Con: Can piss off the very same people without trying.

Pro: Has survived horrific life experiences which would have killed a normal man.
Con:  Brought many of those horrific experiences on himself.

Pro: While he eschews the label "intellectual," he is very much an analytical and critical thinker who can apply historical antecedents to contemporary scenarios.
Con: Does not  give a shit about most contemporary matters, except for the fact that he is zeroing in on sixty years of age, a fact which distresses him.

Pro: Is faithful.
Con: Remains unrealistic in expecting reciprocity in matters of the heart.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

BABY BLUE EYES

 Baby Blue Eyes

by Phil Mershon

i. Overhead establishing shot of a city darkened by an impending storm. The nattering of crickets far below is shattered by a lightning strike that coincides with the lights twinkling on in a large hospital. The word "Dignity" flickers an obscene orange that attempts to brighten the smattering of cars in the parking lot.

ii. A Dodge Durango swings into the drive-up in front of the hospital. A man of about fifty emerges, rattled, worried, confused--yet with a determined pace. As he emerges, he kills the engine, uses the fob to lock the door, double checks it, then checks it again. We follow him as the electronic glass door slowly opens. The man, with some impatience, grabs the edge of the door and tries to force the door to open quicker. Match-cut to:

iii. PHIL entering hospital in considerable haste. The overly bright lights inside the building jar us a bit in contrast to the darkness outside a few seconds earlier. We follow PHIL from the front as he ignores voices that inquire "Sir, may I help you? Sir? Sir? Someone call security." He pulls himself one way and another, finally finding an elevator, then disregards it for a stairwell. He slams open the stairwell door which slams back at him. He responds with a violent kick and huffs up the stairs, disgorging himself into a hallway replete with nurses who are speaking into telephones. No doctors are present. Seeing someone he recognizes, he stops.

iv. BETTY stands outside a patient room with her husband JERRY. Both carry the weight of exhaustion borne of prolonged fear.

                                   PHIL
Have either of you seen her doctor?

JERRY shakes his head;  BETTY does likewise.


                                  BETTY
Her nurse talked to her. Lisa didn't want us in there, but you know me.

                                    PHIL
They're kicking her out?

                                    JERRY
They say now that she's stable--

                                   BETTY
She's still sick, Phil.

                                   PHIL
I was just here two hours ago. This is crazy. Who is her nurse?

                                   BETTY
Her name is Sheila. She's over at the station.

We follow PHIL as he spins and approaches the nurses' station.


                                  PHIL
Which one of you is Sheila?

All three nurses look up. From the left we see the shadow of an approaching security guard. 

                                  SHEILA
You must be Phillip. You will be taking Ms. Terzo home this evening, I understand?

                                  PHIL
She's not going anywhere. I don't know if you noticed, but there's one hell of a storm outside--

                                  SHEILA
Her doctor has already signed her discharge papers. We were just waiting for you.

                                  SECURITY GUARD
Everything all right, Sheila?

                                  SHEILA
I think so, Carl. Phillip, Ms. Terzo met with our social worker a few minutes ago and they discussed the post-release options available to you--

                                  PHIL
We--I have been through this bullshit half a dozen times at other hospitals. She comes in close to death from alcohol withdrawal. You give her benzos and monitor her until you think she won't die, then you kick her out, she comes home and she has two choices: she can start drinking again or she can start having seizures again. Which would you pick? 

                                   SHEILA
As we explained to your wife, if she does begin to seize up, you should call 911 immediately.

                                    PHIL
Or you can write her a script for some kind of benzo so that doesn't happen.

                                   SHEILA
Only her physician of record can do that and since he has already signed her discharge--

                                   PHIL
Get him out here right now.

                                   SHEILA
I can page him. He has left for the evening.

                                   PHIL
We're not going anywhere. You page that bastard. I want to see you page him.

                                  SECURITY GUARD
Sir, maybe you should try to calm down.

                                 SHEILA
I'm paging him right now.

                                 PHIL
Looking at Security Guard: We're not going anywhere.

v. PHIL, BETTY, JERRY enter LISA's room together. We see a woman in her mid-forties, very groggy, but trying to sit up. 

                                 LISA
Well, babe, here we go again, huh?

                                 PHIL
I'm going to try to get you some medicine so you don't get sick after we get back to the house.

                                LISA
Mom says it's raining?

                                 PHIL
It aint dry, that's for sure.

                                 BETTY
She still cant walk.

                                 JERRY
We called a bunch of facilities to see if we could get her some help, but they won't take her--

                                 LISA
They say I'm not ambulatory so they wont take me.

                                 PHIL
Cocksuckers.

                                 DOCTOR NELSON
Someone here asked to speak with me.

vi. DOCTOR NELSON is a human poster for the word "no."

vii. Inside Durango, PHIL drives as LISA rides shotgun, clearly in some discomfort. The wipers sweep the torrential rain, wind buffets the large SUV. Both PHIL and LISA are smoking.

                                   LISA
Are the dogs freaking out?


                                   PHIL
I dont know. It hadnt really started raining much when I left. They're fine. It's you I'm worried about.

                                   LISA
I can get to the house. 

                                   PHIL
Hey, if I need to carry you, that's what I'll do. Dont worry about that.

                                    LISA
You cannot carry me.

                                    PHIL
No, probably not. 

                                    LISA
We'll be okay.

                                    PHIL
Yes. Yes. We will. 

                                    LISA
I'm very sorry.

                                    PHIL
You dont have one damned thing to be sorry about.

                                    LISA
I have to quit drinking. It's killing me.

                                    PHIL
You're doing more than your share. These doctors are all just scum. All they care about is their insurance payments. Keep little Blue Eyes til she's stable, then kick her to the curb.

                                    LISA
The dogs are okay?

                                    PHIL
They're good. They missed you.


viii. Twenty-seven years earlier. LISA emerges from an old orange El Camino and steps into a vast parking lot that surrounds American Express. She sports a snazzy purse over one arm and carries a briefcase from the other. She looks at the enormity of the building she is about to enter and sighs. 

                                     LISA
Well, kiddo. This is the first day of the rest of your life.

ix. Interior. Human Resources office. LISA meets with DAHLIA, the HR manager.

                                     DAHLIA
I am confident you will be impressed with the professionalism of the Credit Authorization's department here at American Express. As you and I discussed during your orientation, this is a very high pressure job. You will learn to make decisions that directly affect our Cardmembers and Service Establishments at the point of sale, but despite the pressure, you will learn to appreciate the value of a professional demeanor. 
                     
x. Interior--Credit Authorizations Department. Ten trainees, including LISA, are seated in front of CRTs awaiting instructions from a long-haired young man wearing a bright red sports jacket, James Dean necktie, jeans and sneakers. His wardrobe contrasts wildly from those of everyone else in the large room.

                                         PHIL
All right, fellow babies! It is time to get wild with those phones and computers. I'm sure we have lots of customers waiting--(shouting) Jeff! How many calls in queue?

                                        JEFF
(From control desk across the room) Thirty-seven!

                                        PHIL
Good God in heaven. Well, everybody key in those magical numbers--Who remembers the numbers to make yourself available? Lisa?

                                        LISA
Sixty-six?

                                       PHIL
Oh yeah! Give that woman a gold star! Who has the gold stars?

KAREN comes running from across the room and sticks a gold star on LISA's computer.

                                        PHIL
I know you're all scared and that's good! Let's rock and roll all night--

                                       ALL TEN
And party every day!

                                      PHIL
God, that's why I love you! Sixty-six those bad ass machines!

xi. Interior. PHIL's apartment. JEFF, KAREN, LISA and PHIL drinking beer from cans.

                                      JEFF
I was monitoring some of your calls yesterday.

                                      LISA
Mine? Why?

                                      JEFF
Part of the job, schweetheart. Part of the job. Like I told Karen and Phil, you just let everything slide off your back. Listen, she was picking up a card from some deadbeat, ninety days passed due, guy had been told not to use the card ten minutes earlier. She's very nice to the guy: "Sir, I have no choice but to have the merchant return your  card to American Express." He screams at her and she just listens politely and finally the guy wears himself out and hands the phone back to the sales clerk. Lisa just smiles and gives her the address. Anybody else just starting out would have freaked.

                                         KAREN
She had a good trainer.

                                         PHIL
Naw, there's something special about our Lisa Ann. You really are amazing. You just never get rattled.

                                         LISA
If I don't get home soon, Brian is liable to get rattled and I don't need to come to work tomorrow with a black eye.

                                        KAREN
Of course, you're joking.


                                        LISA
Of course, I'm not.

                                        PHIL
Well, Jeff. What do you think?

                                        JEFF
She definitely doesn't need a black eye.

                                        PHIL
Let's break her out of there.

                                        JEFF
I don't know.

                                         LISA
Break me out? What're you talking about?

                                        PHIL
You like being a prisoner in your own home? You like being scared all the time?

                                        LISA
I don't have any place else to go. How would I move my stuff?

                                        JEFF
You could move in here with Phil. Right?


                                        PHIL
Um. . .Yes! You could move in with me.

                                        KAREN
Or with me.

                                        LISA
Do you know karate?

                                        PHIL
Is that a prerequisite for cohabitation these days?

                                       LISA
Brian does. He's a black belt. So are his friends.

                                       PHIL
Okay, so while I distract Brian, the three of you can sneak her stuff into the trunk.

                                       LISA
How are you going to distract him?

xii. Tight shot of BRIAN punching PHIL in the face, knocking him down the outdoor staircase. BRIAN's friend, who resembles a sumo wrestler, lifts PHIL under the arms and BRIAN delivers a series of blows to PHIL's chest and face. A car horn honks and we pivot to see LISA and KAREN inside LISA's car. They are motioning for PHIL to hurry up.

                                     PHIL
I'll--be--right--there.

BRIAN gives PHIL a couple more love taps and we cut to:

xiii.  LISA dabbing iodine on PHIL's face. He winces. 


                                     LISA
You know, I have to go back.


                                     PHIL
That's. . . insane.

                                     LISA
I didn't get my cassette tapes. I have to get them back.

                                     PHIL
Tapes? What are you talking about?

                                     LISA
I left my Cheap Trick tapes. I need them back.

                                     PHIL
I will personally buy you everything Cheap Trick ever recorded. I'll get you a meeting with Bun E. Carlos. You are not going back.

                                      LISA
Are you sure about that?

                                      PHIL
I am positive.

                                      LISA
Okay. If you say so. Now, what about the sleeping arrangements?

                                      PHIL
If you have to ask, that means I'll be sleeping on the couch and you get the bed.

                                      LISA
You don't mind?

                                       PHIL
I'll just take another in a series of cold showers. It's fine.

                                        LISA
Karen has a crush on you, you know?

                                       PHIL
It's never gone beyond the "crush on me" stage.

                                       LISA
If you say so.

                                       PHIL
I do say so. 

                                      LISA
But you have dated other employees.

                                       PHIL
I have not, however, invited any of them to live with me.

                                        LISA
Or rescued them from an abusive relationship?

                                        PHIL
Correct. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to collapse now. Over there. On the sofa.

                                        LISA
Good night. I do love you.

                                        PHIL
Love you too, Baby Blue Eyes.

xiv. A few days have passed. Interior PHIL's apartment. Evening. The walls are plastered with Cheap Trick posters and"Surrender" is blasting from the stereo speakers. LISA and PHIL are dancing. LISA is  holding a beer, PHIL a Coke.

                                       PHIL
Did I tell you about the Lead position that's opening?

                                        LISA
Isn't that your job?

                                     PHIL
They're adding another one. I was talking with Jeff and he thinks you'll get it if you apply.

                                      LISA
No kidding.

                                       PHIL
I never kid.

                                       LISA
You kid all the time.

                                      PHIL
I thought you'd be more excited.

                                      LISA
I'm sure it's a great opportunity. Did I ever tell you about Greg?

The record ends, as does the dance.

                                       PHIL
You did not.

                                        LISA
I thought I did.


                                       PHIL
I think you didn't.

                                        LISA
He's this great guy I used to know back in Iowa. 


                                       PHIL
I hope you're not moving back to Iowa.

                                        LISA
He's moving here. He got a job with Sprint. 

                                        PHIL
Well, hey, well, hey.

                                        LISA
We were, you know, good friends in Iowa.

                                        PHIL
I see where this is headed.

                                        LISA
You and I agreed when you let me stay here that this was just temporary, that we were going to be just friends.

                                       PHIL
I'd say the "just friends" went out the window a few nights ago.

                                       LISA
Phil, that was just--

                                       PHIL
Yep, that was just--

                                        LISA
You didn't let me finish.

                                        PHIL
What I know is that once in a life time, if a person is very lucky, he meets someone who makes him understand himself, who gives him a reason to be better than the day before.

                                        LISA
Look, you already know how great you are. There are so many girls at American Express who would--

                                        PHIL
And none of them come close, dammit. Okay. Look, no strings, just like we agreed. No strings. When does this Craig person get here?

                                         LISA
Greg. His name is Greg. He got here two nights ago. He signs the lease on the apartment tomorrow. I'm giving notice to the company the day after.

                                        PHIL
Wow. Well, the mature thing would be for me to wish you all the best.

                                        LISA
Thank you. I know you'll like him. I've told him all about you.


                                        PHIL
But I never was all that mature.

We hold on LISA as she studies PHIL's face. FADE.

xv. Exterior. Rocky Point beach front. Evening. KAREN, JEFF, LISA and GREG are sitting around a campfire laughing, drinking beer, except for LISA, who is sipping a Coke.

                                         GREG
How are things at American Express these days?

                                         JEFF
Forty in queue, deadbeats screaming, everyone needs an emergency card replacement yesterday.

                                           KAREN
And we all miss Lisa Ann.


                                        LISA
I am quite content being a house wife.

                                       GREG
Technically, a house girlfriend. But that will be changing.

                                       KAREN
Oh really? Do I hear wedding bells?


                                        LISA
You may have noticed I'm not drinking?

                                        JEFF
I noticed.

                                       KAREN
Yep. Noticed that.

                                      GREG
You're dying to tell them. Go ahead.

                                      LISA
Greg got a promotion.

                                       GREG
And. . .

                                       LISA
And we're having a little baby.

                                       KAREN
Wow! Congratulations! That's great!

                                        JEFF
Better than having a grown up. Damn, that would hurt.

                                      KAREN
When?

                                       LISA
End of October.

                                       GREG
Right. We're hoping not on Halloween.

                                       KAREN
That would be scary.

                                       JEFF
I was gonna say that!

                                        KAREN
A baby! That s just wonderful.

                                        LISA
So we are getting married and you all have to promise to visit us all the time.

                                        JEFF
I just love babies.

                                        LISA
Don't say anything to Phil, okay? I want to tell him myself.

                                        KAREN
Greg, have you ever met Phil?

                                        GREG
Yeah! He used to visit once in a while. Haven't seen him in a few months, though.

                                         LISA
How is he doing?

                                        KAREN
Still hyper. Still crazy. Just. . .

                                        JEFF
He's fine.

                                        LISA
I thought since he hasn't been around that he might be seeing someone.

                                        JEFF
No. He tells me whenever that happens. Nope. Just working lots of  overtime. Pissing off the bosses.

                                        KAREN
Do you know if it's a girl or a boy?

                                         GREG
We want to be surprised.

                                         LISA
We were already surprised.


                                          JEFF
Yeah. Hey, let's have some more hot dogs. I'm gonna be an uncle, I'm gonna be an uncle.


xvi. PHIL's apartment. Dining room table. DAHLIA and PHIL are drinking coffee.

                                             DAHLIA
 I wanted you to hear it from me. The company is bringing in some new leadership. Management leadership. Three women who worked together at Nabisco. They call them Change Elements.

                                             PHIL
You don't look all that happy about it.

                                             DAHLIA
I'm HR. It won't affect me.


                                             PHIL
You're saying it will affect me?

                                             DAHLIA
I'm saying they will find your approach to authority discomforting. These three women--they favor leaders with jackets and ties.

                                             PHIL
I wear a jacket and tie.

                                              DAHLIA
They like things a bit more conformist. 

                                              PHIL
I will need a new career, it seems. You know, if I could be a thing instead of a person, I'd love to be a train. You know, taking people from one city to another, connecting long lost lovers, commuting people to work.

                                             DAHLIA
How do you know you wouldn't be  a train taking Jews to Auschwitz? 

                                               PHIL
What  the hell do you mean by that?

                                               DAHLIA
What I mean--What you need to understand--is that the present management has been using you. Sure, they've turned a blind eye to your eccentricities. But only because your weirdness gets people to work harder. The employees work hard for you because they think you defy authority. The bosses let you get away with it for just that reason. These three women--they just won't care about that. They would rather tank the department than suffer your insolence.

                                               PHIL
I hate them already. (Phone rings. PHIL answers)

                                               LISA
How have you been? I've missed you!

                                               PHIL
Me too. Where are you?

                                               LISA
We are packing. Greg got transferred to Michigan. Lauren and I are meeting him there first of the week.

                                              PHIL
I need to see you.

                                              LISA
Why don't you take us out for pizza?

                                              PHIL
Remember that place on 7th Avenue?

xvii. This scene is a montage of current and then-future images that bring us to a new present tense. [Note: While the sequence and details of these events are not necessarily chronologically accurate or specifically accurate, it is hoped that they retain the proper flavor of real events.]1. LISA, LAUREN (age three) and PHIL in a pizza joint. LISA and PHIL are eating pizza, laughing, as LAUREN playfully looks on with some contentment at how comfortable the two grown-ups are together. 2. LISA in a hospital giving birth to  GERRIT, her second child. 3. A nine-year-old LAUREN learning to play the violin; a six-year-old GERRIT watching the movie Wayne's World, while LISA and GREG argue in the background, while BETTY and JERRY try to ignore the argument. 4. A teenage LAUREN taking karate lessons while GERRIT rides his skateboard. 5. LISA and GREG signing a divorce settlement. 6. PHIL being walked out of American Express as "the three women" nod with smug approval. 7. LISA starting a new job at Red Rock--the people there nodding in delighted approval. 8. PHIL driving a taxi with confused and not-altogether-happy passengers in the back seat. 9. LISA getting the keys to her new home. 10. LISA reading dunning notices from the mortgage company. 11. LAUREN marrying ADRIAN at an Elvis chapel in Las Vegas with LISA,  GERRIT, BETTY, JERRY, GREG and others in attendance. 12. PHIL getting assaulted by several men outside a  closed coffee shop on Christmas Eve. FADE.

xviii. Hospital room. PHIL is waking up badly bruised from the attack. We see his confused reaction as he recognizes the person standing beside his bed: LISA.

                                       PHIL
Blue Eyes! What--

                                        LISA
The hospital called me. My number was in your wallet. You've been--The nurse says you're going to be in some pain for a little while. Christ, man! You were beat up.

                                       PHIL
I was--

                                       LISA
A police officer was in to see you an hour ago. You were out of it.

                                       PHIL
I don't really hurt.

                                       LISA
You're on a morphine drip. You probably don't feel much. 

A social worker enters.

                                      SOCIAL WORKER
Mr. Mershon! I'm Gladys, a social worker from Maricopa County!

                                       PHIL
Why are you shouting?

                                       SOCIAL WORKER
Your nurse made our office aware of what happened to you and I am here to guide you through the process of receiving the services you need to better understand what happened to you.

                                       PHIL
No, thank you.

                                       SOCIAL WORKER
Excuse me, is this Mrs. Mershon? (Indicating LISA)

                                        LISA
(Starts to say "No" but is cut off)

                                        PHIL
My wife, yes. You may speak freely.

                                        SOCIAL WORKER
According to the police report, you were last evening sexually assaulted by an undetermined number of men at 8211 West Union Hills Drive. Is that correct?

                                         PHIL
And if I were, what makes you think I would want to discuss it with some trainee who won't even be in this job in two years? Get out of here.

                                        SOCIAL WORKER
Sir, I certainly understand--

                                         PHIL
You don't understand anything. Sal de aqui. Sors d'ici. Raus hier. Get out of here. 

Social Worker exits.

                                          LISA
So I'm your wife, huh?

                                         PHIL
You always were, Blue Eyes. You just didn't know it. I want you to come live with me.

                                         LISA
You don't know what you're offering.

                                         PHIL
Sure, I do.

                                          LISA
No, you don't. I have a big dog, two parrots and rooms full of stuff. Plus, I drink.

                                         PHIL
Okay, so maybe I don't have room for all that. We'll get a new place together. 

                                          LISA
Did I mention the dog and the birds?

                                          PHIL
You did.

                                           LISA
All my stuff?

                                         PHIL
Yep.

                                          LISA
I'm an alcoholic.

                                         PHIL
I don't care.

                                         LISA
I can't even work. I hate to leave the house. I'm--not in great shape emotionally.

                                        PHIL
I won a suit against American Express for wrongful termination. Got myself a pissed off attorney who eats corporate fucks for breakfast and picks his teeth with rusty chains. Don't get me wrong. I'm not rich, but I've got about twenty-five grand saved up.

                                       LISA
We could rent a house.

                                       PHIL
Absolutely.

                                       LISA
Lauren could help us find a place.

                                       PHIL
Then that's a yes?

                                       LISA
I guess it is.

                                       PHIL
Whoo-hoo! Then get me the hell out of here, will you?

xix. Tight shot on sign that says Quartros 2. As we pull back, we see this is an old town home community that has likely seen better days. Down a winding road we see the Durango pull in with LISA at the wheel, Cody the Dog to her side, as if guiding her, and boxes of belongings in the rear of the vehicle.

xx. Moving van is already  parked in front of the Durango. Two men are unloading a piano, hope chest, two cages of parrots.

xxi. Interior of their town home. PHIL carrying boxes up the stairs, LISA arranging the bird cages, Cody sniffing everything.

xxii. LISA and PHIL sleeping in sleeping bags next to the front door. He is dead to the world. Her eyes are open wide.

xxiii. LISA on telephone with a prospective customer.

                                         LISA
Yes, Mr Remington, I agree. But that has nothing to do with building your website. Our staff will have your beautiful new website up, running and ready to make money for you within forty-eight hours. Pardon me? No! No, those other companies are ripping you off. We only charge ninety-nine dollars for one full year. What I need to get from you now is the Visa or Mastercard you will use to pay for this. Pardon? I see. Would you prefer oatmeal or chocolate chip? Well, since you are being childish, I thought cookies might be good before your nap time. What's that? Okay. Your number is 5426. . .

PHIL enters room and he and LISA exchange a high five.