First Novel in a Trilogy
Based on the novel by Michael Scofield
LOG LINE: In a three-ring circus of black humor and offbeat sex, a bunch of dysfunctional Santa Feans deal with the terror of their own lives while our country attacks Iraq.
It’s March, 2003, six days before American forces bomb Baghdad. Neoconservative mortgage broker RON KIRKPATRICK’s wife LILA grows sexually hot watching TV coverage of Air Force techs loading missiles onto Stealth jets.
Next week she’ll try to smash into the SUV owned by Ron’s mistress. But tonight, after coping with tiles springing up in the bathroom, she and Ron trade sexual favors. She ends the evening in a tirade against for Ron treating her like dirt.
In the dark, next-door neighbor and high-tech writer MANNY BARNES lets air from a rear tire of Ron’s Cadillac. Manny sneaks back home, where girlfriend JOYCE HUNT objects to what he’s done. To justify his version of peace activism, Manny cites a warmongering document, Rebuilding America’s Defenses. Joyce wonders if she should marry him, accusing him of flirting with Ron’s wife. Though Joyce wants to make love, Manny says he’s too tired.
CPA and peace activist CHUCK RIDLEY proposes morning sex with wife HELEN. Wondering if he’s gay, he wants to try wearing her brassiere. The beefsteak tomatoes he’s filled it with explode when, lunging for her, he hits the bed’s footboard. Later in his office, preparing signs for tomorrow’s peace march, he asks lesbian assistant ALEXIS DAHL what gayness feels like. She confirms his intuition.
At noon, Chuck, Ron, realtor MAXINE MORGAN, and Silicon-Valley CEO BRET WILKES meet to discuss Bret’s wish to buy a Santa Fe vacation home. Chuck, who is Bret’s CPA, cautions Bret but the others urge him on. Jealous of Maxine’s flirtations with Bret, Ron hurls hot pinto beans onto Maxine’s dog.
While Ron is lunching . . . Lila resolves to have her first affair. She picks Maxine’s handyman VICTOR VALDEZ, come to appraise the Kirkpatricks’ popped bathroom tiles. A Vietnam vet, Victor discusses the pros and cons of war. This emboldens Lila to grab him. But he cuts open his forehead on the doorjamb. After Lila and next-door neighbor Joyce scream at each other across their greenbelt, Lila again asks Victor to bed her. But Ron arrives home early.
Chuck, Alexis, and Manny join three hundred others on a peace march. Activists spray a peace symbol onto the dirt by vomiting up castor oil. Five homeless men ask Chuck and Manny for handouts; Alexis asks Manny to stop propositioning her. Manny slugs one of the drunks who attack two homeless musicians. The drunk slams his fist into Manny’s belly.
Manny manages to drive home only to discover Joyce laughing with workman STU FISHER. Jealous, Manny angers both her and him.
Meanwhile . . . Ron bursts into Maxine’s downtown office to offer Bret a low-cost loan. Ron threatens to sue her when Maxine throws him out. In the parking lot, too-fat Ron suffers an angina attack.
That night . . . Ron promises Lila that they can return to Fort Worth, swearing that Maxine and he are not having an affair. Lila confesses her attempt to bed Victor Valdez. She proposes sex to appease Ron’s fury. But as she kneels in front of him, he sees not his wife but Maxine.
In the town house next to Ron’s and Lila’s, a soak in the hot tub prompts Manny to suggest that he and Joyce make love. Upstairs, he comes naked to bed but she rolls away, claiming all she can see is Alexis and him marching that morning. Joyce ends the evening on the sofa downstairs.
Though his gut still hurts from yesterday, Manny is next door at Lila’s to help her and Chuck’s wife, Helen, prepare publicity for the music festival. Lila answers the bell to discover Victor Valdez leering at her. He’s brought tile-repair-cost estimates. She says that her husband’s home and besides, they’re both returning to Texas.
Minutes later, Helen confesses that she and Chuck are moving to Vermont to get as far from Los Alamos as possible. Manny blurts that during yesterday’s peace march, Chuck told him that he’s remaining in Santa Fe. Helen gasps. Just then Ron bursts out of his home office to tell Lila to follow him inside.
Ron reveals that Maxine has just invited him to lunch. He says she doesn’t want him to tell her husband GIORDY about love affairs she’s had. “Good news,” Ron tells Lila; “we don’t have to sell.” “I’ll kill the bitch,” Lila screams.
That afternoon . . . Bret visits Manny and Joyce to learn the pluses and minuses of moving to Santa Fe. Workman Stu is at their town house repairing the hot tub’s railing. Manny’s jealousy and intestinal pain return. He wants to help Bret and Chuck jump-start a company to help small New Mexican businesses thrive. Joyce thinks Chuck is cracked in the head.
Joyce asks her best friend, Alexis, to lunch. She wants to discover if Manny has been trying to seduce Alexis. Maxine arrives at the same restaurant for her rendezvous with Ron.
While Maxine and Ron get high on martinis, Alexis wonders if she’s bisexual because at a peace vigil last night, she fell not for Manny but for the workman, Stu.
Mid-afternoon . . . Chuck, Alexis, Bret, and Manny discuss how they can best start their new company. Later, Manny seeks advice from his friend, the retired New York Times Middle Eastern correspondent, DIRK PELLINGTON. Dirk shares why he thinks helping New Mexican businesses grow is a lost cause. He then confirms the insanity of invading Iraq and praises Joyce’s quietism.
That evening . . . Maxine visits Dirk, who wants to sell his house and move south, to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. He says he wants to learn how not to act like a human being. After he signs Maxine’s listing form, he inveigles her into bed. When she asks him to hurt her, he obliges by breaking her ring finger; she relishes the pain.
Lila can no longer get sexually excited by watching preparations for war—she sees too many scenes of torture. Upstairs, hungover from his lunch with Maxine, Ron tells Lila they should split up. The furious Lila storms Maxine’s office, causing Victor Valdez to fall off his ladder. Dirk tries to restore peace.
Based on Dirk’s advice yesterday, Manny again has asked Joyce to marry him. That night they try to make a baby. Manny promises her to cancel plans to deflate the tires of cars sporting neoconservative bumper stickers. But early the next morning, reading news of America’s invasion of Iraq, he feels compelled to break his promise.
Lila chops off her hair and plots to demolish Maxine’s Range Rover. Her scheme runs afoul of three loose dogs—instead of broadsiding the SUV, she smashes into a statue of Santa Fe’s founder, Don Pedro de Peralta. Lila ends up in the Emergency Room where Ron ogles her doctor.
Later . . . in despair because Manny broke his word—and wondering if she’s pregnant—Joyce contacts her mother in Silicon Valley, asking if she can move in with her.
Meanwhile . . . Manny starts letting air out of tires downtown. His gut cramps and he vomits outside the city library. A homeless man calls an ambulance.
In a gated community that night, Ron visits Maxine at home while her husband, Giordy, plays poker with Victor Valdez and a few others. In her and Giordy’s bedroom, Maxine hangs a faux Native American war hammock with a hole in the bottom. She and Ron trade sexual favors in and below it until a flashbulb goes off outside the window. The shock of seeing Victor taking photos gives Ron a heart attack.
Ron underwent an angioplasty last night at St. Vincent Hospital. This morning Maxine brings him his robe as an aide wheels in a sedated Lila. Maxine berates Lila even though Lila’s mind is gone.
Unknown to Ron, separated by a curtain, Manny awaits intestinal surgery. Joyce updates him about America’s bombing raid on Baghdad. When Manny tells her he feels so beside the point, she softens and says she may still marry him.
Maxine leaves Ron to meet Victor Valdez in Victor’s mother’s room; yesterday his mother broke her hip. When Joyce goes to find Manny’s surgeon, she sees Chuck and Bret in the hallway holding hands. With them is Alexis, who takes the weeping Joyce in her arms. Dirk also arrives; he explains that he’s meeting Maxine to sign the contract to sell his home.
While Victor’s mother sleeps, Victor confronts Maxine with the blackmail photographs. She tells him to show them to whomever he wishes—-tonight she’s going to inform her husband that she is following Dirk down to the Bosque del Apache to learn how to live. She tosses her diamond ring into a biohazard bin and taunts Victor that if he dares to pull the ring out, it’s his.
Seeing husband Giordy coming down the hall with flowers for Victor’s mother, oh, what the hell, she thinks, I’ll tell him now that I’m leaving. Doing it here feels safer than at home.
Slow reverse zoom down hall of hospital . . . to skyline of Santa Fe. Fast fade.