My Complete, Original Screenplay, “To Dream of Cities on the Moon”

To the screenplay “purists”: WordPress lost the original formatting of this, of course, but the essence is here. And, to all: Thank you for your reading and feedback, if you feel so inclined. It is well-appreciated!

 

“To Dream of Cities on the Moon”

 

Written by

 

Christopher Robideaux

 

©Copyright Christopher Robideaux, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

 

Fade In

As the credits roll, we hear heartsounds mixed with the score, including sounds of wild beasts, jumbo jets taking off, volcanoes erupting, etc. Strange whispers, music, and a child’s forlorn cries mingle as well. We see shots of strange abstract paintings, journal scribblings and poems, and interior shots of the home where much of the action takes place.

V.O.

Testing, testing. Voice notes of Alex Summerfield, first entry. What can the heart teach us? How do we instruct the heart? Do we live by love alone? And, aren’t we truly alone without love? Can we marry love with justice? And, if these two be married, who cannot be just who loves? And, what of the unjust in love? Surely, both love and justice are both alive in the world, and our hearts seek them in equal measure. To be blind to either one is surely to walk the path of intrepid folly, and, when the lions darken and the strange skies beckon – tragedy.

And now, some poetry. For Lilith, my ‘first and last woman’… (We see a montage of Lilith’s paintings in her empty house, bird’s eye views above the Summerfield home, lions on the Serengeti, birds of prey, wolves howling, volcanoes erupting, and other various images as Alex reads “Daydream Ulysses to His Inamorata”:

…but I fell at Circe’s garden gate, wanderer from the wars of men

To find this gentler sun, a requiem for tigresses who leapt too late
On prey lost to the twilight…whose tired eyes consume the prize

of this fight: with the cartoon cannons still lighting up my mind

I cross your fields, desperate for a petal of truth or serenade of abandon.

And there I revived and swam in your seas a while –

then midday on the whitewashed shore dined on

figs and wine and rested while others worked in the sun’s factory.

And you joined me in the cove on a blanket of blinding white

A pearly light, where we consummate the reasons

For these elder and disjointed seasons of deep desire…

She comes like sunlight in the prismatic morning,

takes my breath and blues away like a starling,

reigns over my days & nights & years,

pulls my soul-string like a girl kite-flying,

Lonely monarch – I am, too!

Where are we going? Let’s drown our fears,

One by one – here we go – I’ll catch the moon in my arms –

Defy wretched centuries & czars – hey lover try again!

Life is…

a desert of unknowns

a billion flowers growing and wilting per hour

love and art our only recourse from world-power,

love and art our sacred well of passions.

For you, my dear Lilith. Such fragile light and tenuous dreams. Such bright colors flung from your fighting hands…My heart still calls to you.

EXT – Day – The Serengeti

We are following a jeep on a rough road through the Serengeti in Kenya. Its occupants—a man, woman, and child of about ten years of age named Alex–are on safari. A pride of lions is spotted, and the jeep pulls to a stop. The man looks through field glasses at the beasts, as the child stands and tries to get a better view.

Man

Here, Alex, have a look, son.

Alex

(Gazes through the field glasses. We see several lions—a couple of large males and a few females, with cubs.) Are they like the ones we saw in the circus, Dad?

Man

No, son. These are wild beasts. Those were tame ones. But…lions, nevertheless.

Alex

Never the…Why do they tame them, Dad? And who tames them?

Man

The circus people. They tame them, Alex, so that they can perform for all the people. You never would have gotten to see them so up close if they hadn’t…

Alex

But this is up close, isn’t it?

Man

Only with the field glasses, son. We can’t really get any closer. And you were a lot closer at the circus than this.

Alex

(Hands the field glasses back to his father.) Why can’t we tame a lion? I want one.

Man

(Looking through field glasses) Because, son, lions aren’t pets. They’re wild beasts, who belong in the wilds.

Alex

Hmmm. I want to go with them. I want to be close to them.

Man

No, son. You can’t go with them. They live apart from us. They’re maneaters, Alex.

Alex

Then, why did we come all this way to see them?

Man

(Ignores Alex) Hey, that’s some pride. There must be 50 of them out there!

Woman

Alex! Alex!

We see Alex walking towards the group of lions, who are approximately 100 yards away. Although his father comes after him, the boy runs toward the group. Having just fed, the lions aren’t particularly concerned at first. Alex’s father calls after him, imploring him to return to the jeep, but the boy fearlessly approaches the animals, who now begin to focus their attention on him. Alex’s mother is screaming for him to return, and is bordering on hysterics.

Amazingly, one male lion trots slowly away from his pride towards Alex. They are walking toward each other at about the same pace. Alex’s parents are horrified, and are yelling for him to return. The driver of the jeep levels a rifle at the lion, but he is too close to the sight line of the child, and Alex’s father pulls the gun away with a minor struggle.

Jeep Driver

But sir! The child will certainly die if…

Man

I know! I know…

Sadly resigned to the fact that their child is about to die, Alex’s parents watch with great surprise as Alex reaches out a hand for the lion, who with a shake of his mane and a nonchalant look around him, seems to welcome the boy to the pride. For the next 5 minutes, the occupants of the jeep watch as Alex walks among the beasts, stroking their manes, and turning every now and then to smile and wave at his parents.

On the verge of a nervous breakdown and in great hysterics, Alex’s mother forces the jeep driver to get to a better vantage point and shoot the beasts, or at least get them to where they can make a rescue attempt.

Woman

My boy will not be killed—or raised–by lions! Get him out of there! Get the gun, Bob, and do something!

The driver maneuvers the jeep into position, and “Bob” reluctantly raises the gun, and gets a few of the beasts in his gun sights. But, they seem so peaceful, and the boy so joyful, that he cannot bring himself to shoot any of them, and instead shoots over their heads, which greatly startles the pride, making them more fearsome and on edge then they were before. Alex has hit the ground, and the lion he connected with stands protectively over him. Bob continues to shoot multiple times over the heads of the lions, finally succeeding in scattering them. When they are finally able to swoop in and rescue the boy, he is inconsolable—but not because of the supposed threat of the lions. He holds his arms over his face and head, and will not listen to his parents at all as they rebuke him for his actions.

Inside, Alex is emotionally shattered that his parents would want to kill, or separate him from his new friends. His innocence and naivete cannot reconcile with the adult world of man vs. nature, and laws and propriety. He only knows that his new friends were shot at—along with him, and he finds it unforgivable. His parents spend the next few days trying to disabuse him of his wrongful, childish notions that one can make friends with lions, but it is all for naught. Alex will not hear of it. Deep inside, he has broken with his parents, who he sees as fools for not joining him in his friendship with the lions.

INT – Night, A room in a safari lodge.

Man

(To Alex) That was very dangerous, son, what you did today. You absolutely should not have gone out there. Do you realize how easily you could have been killed? (Screaming.) You never, ever leave the jeep!

Alex is seemingly in shock, and unresponsive.

Woman

Leave him alone, dear. I think he’s had enough trauma for one day.

Man

Oh, really? It was traumatic for the rest of us, too, ya know!

Alex

He didn’t have to shoot him! (He is softly sobbing.)

Man

Didn’t he? You could have been killed, Alex! Eaten! Alive! Would you have preferred that outcome?!?

Woman

Bob, leave the boy alone. He’s had enough! (She grabs him, and he pushes her away, angry.)

Man

I’ll handle this!

Alex gets up and runs out of the safari hut and into the African night. His mother and father yell after him – his father runs after him, but the boy has disappeared into the night.

EXT – Daybreak

Alex is seen wandering the wild Serengeti looking for his friends the lions. He is wild-eyed and nearly frantic. He is suddenly calmed by some unseen force. He turns and sees a wounded lion, very placid, almost messianic – like a feline Christ dying for humanity’s sins. Alex approaches the lion, who is very calm and still, shining deep blue eyes back at the mesmerized boy. Alex touches the lion’s wound, and a golden light flashes. The lion puts his paw upon the boy’s arm and suddenly the boy sees out from the lion’s eyes, and feels his healing wound, as if inside the lion’s body.

A mystical vision ensues, whereby Alex sees and feels a time-lapse version of the lion’s entire life. He sees the lands he roamed, and feels the power of his roaring male lion energy alive on the ancient earth.

Alex

I can see…I can feel…the power. Thank you!

With that, the lion walks slowly away, turning back one last time before returning to his pride. After a long moment of absorbing and realizing the significance of this moment, Alex, too, wanders back to his pride – every fiber of his being fighting against it, but feeling that the lion was saying telepathically, “Return to your family and be strong, well, and wise.”

We see Alex walking through the bush as the sun comes up.

Fade to Black

EXT – Day – Saddle River, New Jersey

Alex is now 12 years old, and is regularly visiting the Bronx Zoo to see the lions. His parents want him to be a classical pianist like his uncle, or a doctor, like his father, but he wants to be a lion tamer. He is walking home from school, and is approached by a girl in his class named Emily Cantor, with long, blond hair.

Emily

Hi, Alex! What are you up to?

Alex

(In a downcast manner.) Hi. Nothin’.

Emily

Are you going to go see the lions again?

Alex

Yes. I have to get to a piano lesson now, though.

Emily

(Disappointed) Oh. I thought we could do our homework together tonight.

Alex

Tomorrow, maybe. I have to catch a bus now, Emily. (Continues walking.)

Emily

Alex? (Plaintively)

Alex

Yeah? (Preoccupied)

Emily

Do you…want to go see the lions with me?

Alex

Maybe…yeah. That sounds good. (Hint of a smile.)

Emily

(Beaming) Great! Can we go on Friday, after school?

Alex

Um…Sure. Gotta run, Emily. Bye! (He runs to catch a city bus as Emily watches him intently.)

INT – Bus, Day

We watch as Alex looks through a book on the wild beasts of Africa while riding to his piano lesson, and follow his restless gaze as he stares out at the passing landscape of city chaos and beauty.

Daydream Montage – Images of lions on the Serengeti commingled with images from Alex’s childhood like birthday parties, piano recitals, travels to National Parks, etc. We see Alex and Emily walking through the zoo, and observing the lions. They kiss. A lion roars and the sun sets.

EXT – Day, At the Zoo

Emily

Why do you like lions so much, Alex? (Looking up at him lovingly)

Alex

Well, I guess I feel I am a part of them. I was in Africa, you know? And we went on a safari there, and, well…it’s very hard to explain exactly, but it’s like I became one with them that day.

Emily

Which day? When?

Alex

(With faraway look in his eyes.) Oh, when I was ten. Two years ago. It’s like…no, it’s stupid.

Emily

No, what is it?

Alex

It’s like…I’m part lion now. I’m with them. They’re with me. (Sees her facial response.) See, I told you you would think it’s stupid. No one understands. (He looks down, dejected.)

Emily

No! I do…I mean, it’s just so…different? Incredible! Sorry!

Alex

Yeah, I know. I’m weird. I wish I’d never told you! Just forget it! (He runs off, leaving her looking stunned.)

Emily

Alex! Wait, Alex! (She is left gazing at the lions, who are strangely aware…of she and Alex? Of some rising force of higher consciousness in the world?)

Alex continues walking amongst the animals in their enclosures, and comes upon a pretty but frail looking, dark-haired girl who is looking at the wolves. Alex is immediately riveted by her presence, which seems almost supernatural to him. He approaches her.

Alex

Hi!

Girl

Hi. (There is a long pause after this exchange as they both watch the wolves.)

Alex

I’m Alex.

Girl

I know.

Alex

You…but how…?

Girl

(She turns to look at him with deep, knowing, sapphire eyes) I just know. (She looks back at the wolves.)

Alex

Wow. Do you go to Wilson?

Girl

No. Did you know that wolves are very intelligent, social animals, but are also very endangered?

Alex

No, not really. I like lions. Can you tell me how you –

Girl

I like cats, too. All animals are important, though. My totem animal is the she-wolf. I’m a good hunter, too. My uncle takes me. But wolves are being hunted down for no reason. Why do you like lions?

Alex

Well…I became interested in them two years ago, when my family went to Africa on a safari, and I kinda-sorta bonded with them.

Girl

Bonded? Cool. I want to take a trip out into the wilds!

Alex

Yeah, I want to go back, too. I feel like I belong in the wild, in nature. What’s your name?

Girl

Lilith.

Alex

That’s a nice name. Why do you like wolves so much?

Lilith

I don’t know. I guess it’s because they’re nomadic, but the packs are families. They are like humans used to be before…

O.C.

Lilith? Come on, we’re leaving!

Alex

Is that your mother?

Lilith

Yeah, I have to go now.  Bye, Alex! (She turns to go.)

Alex

Wait! You didn’t tell me how you knew my name.

Lilith

I just…knew. Bye!

Alex

I come here almost every Friday. I’ll see you here again!

(We follow Alex as he walks home. He sees a car and several people gathered out front of his house. Curious, he walks up to see what’s going on. He sees his dog, Prince, dead, with blood coming out of his mouth. Alex screams and runs inside, up to his bedroom, inconsolable.)

INT – Day – Alex’s Bedroom

Alex’s Mother

Oh, Alex, I’m so sorry, dear. Prince just ran right out in front of the car. (She consoles him.)

Alex

I was too late. It’s not fair. Death’s not fair. I want to save him. I’ll bring him back to life!(He runs downstairs to where they are removing his dog’s corpse. He rips it out of the arms an animal control agent and runs with Prince down to the Saddle River and sits and cries with him in his lap.) I’ll save you, Prince, then there will be no more death. You can be immortal, with me.

INT – Night

A man and woman are getting intimate in bed. Soft declarations of love pass between them. They make love almost furiously, then talk afterwards. This is Alex and his wife Lilith, who have been married for 14 years. It is 32 years after the previous scene, in which they met.

LILITH

Thank you for that.

Alex

(Kissing her shoulder and arm.) You don’t have to thank me.

Lilith

Alex?

Alex

Yes?

Lilith

It recently occurred to me that…well, we’ve been living in such a fog since…Dylan, and, well…

Alex

What is it, hon?

Lilith

It’s been years since our tragedy, which I know still grieves you as much as it grieves me, but it’s like…I haven’t seen the sun since that day. If ever.

Alex

Don’t say that. I thought we were making progress? Hasn’t the therapy worked? Do you need to switch medication? Therapists? Whatever it is…you’re worth it. Your happiness is worth it.

Lilith

(Genuine affection fills her face, radiant even in the darkness.) Oh, darling. You love me so well. Even if…

Alex

What? Even if what?

Lilith

I don’t get to see you much lately. (She looks implacable.)

Alex

You know I’ve had to work late on this Civic Center project, babe. No choice. It’s a big project. Manhattan. It’s a big time deal for us.

Lilith

I know, hon. I’ve just been…utterly alone lately, here with just Patti Smith and Sibelius and my paints. And my poetry. And these austere halls and rooms. And gray days.

Alex

Austere? We’ve made this our feathered sanctuary, I thought. Don’t forget Rufus and Hercules. And…has it really been that bad? You get to wake up late, do whatever you want, put on your music, paint, Skype with your friends, go into town and go shopping if you like…And what about your successful shows at the SoHo galleries? Keep painting, you’ve got such a luminescent life ahead! Plus, you’ve got the school twice a week. Those kids love you…you love them. I mean, life is good, isn’t it? You have the unique ability to just live how you want to live, and it seems you’re just…never satisfied.

Lilith

You’re right. I’m not easily satisfied. I’m never satisfied. It’s a problem. I should be more grateful. It’s something I’ve always had trouble with. I’ll try harder, dear. You are so very good to me. You spoil me! I’m sorry. It’s just…there’s still this big hole since he left us, and…I’m kind of…a lost ship in the fog.

Alex

Well, I must tell you that… for a lost ship you’re still incomparably beautiful in your sorrow, my dear. (Kisses her gently.) Maybe even more so.

Lilith

Sometimes I’m afraid that mourning suits me all too well.

Alex

What do you mean? (Looks at her sadly.) Fuck mourning! Let’s have a party! We’ll invite…everyone. (Laughs.) Your people from the poetry and painting groups, Daphne, your colleagues from the school. I’ll invite Gabe and Anne, Oz and Lucy…We’ll have a good old fashioned hoedown. I think we could use it. Whaddya say, love?

Lilith

I say…let the bacchanal fires burn, though ‘tis only January.

Alex

Hooray! And…maybe in the meantime we can…(He kisses her more stridently.)

Lilith

Can what? (He continues kissing her more passionately.) Can what, you madman?

Alex

Try again?

Lilith

(Looks at him uncomprehending.) Try what again?

Alex

For another…child?

Lilith

(Pulling away.) I’ve told you, Alex. I made it clear, I will NOT go through that again, ever. Period. I refuse to bring another child into this wretched world who may die…or, kill another, or himself, or get some horrid disease, or…or…

Alex

Well, I’m glad you’re thinking of someone other than yourself here. And, why would you assume he would kill himself? Or others?

Lilith

I don’t know! (Very distressed.) I just mean…it’s a world full of horrors, not the least of which is watching your child die. Anything can happen, and all too often does!

Alex

(Comforting) Okay, okay. Ssssh. It’s okay. Sorry. (Strokes her hand and arm.) I would, though, like to know why it is that you’re so fatally, finally, dead-set against it? It seems to me an unnecessary negative, when the positive of bright new faces that fill up our lives with joy may just be the best answer to our sorrows.

Lilith

(Rising from the bed and pacing the room. She picks up the remote from the TV stand and turns on the TV to IFC. La Dolce Vita is playing.) Ah, the sweet life, mi amore.

Alex

(Slightly exasperated.) Can we focus here? Please?

Lilith

Sure. I can be Sylvia, and you can be Marcello. We’ll focus on fun. Like you said.

Alex

I know what you’re doing here, Lil. You can’t just escape into fantasy every time we encounter an issue.

Lilith

I’m not escaping. I’m having fun. This is fun! This. (She is demonstratively playful, tickling Alex and bouncing up and down.)

Alex

Okay, fine. I’m Marcello.

Lilith

Ooh, goody! You make a fine Marcello, darling.

Alex

Darling, mi amore. I want to make love to you. Please, have-a my child.

Lilith

You’ll have to come find me first.

Alex

(Gazing intently at her.) Don’t go disappearing into your labyrinth again.

Lilith

(Coy and playful.) Too late! (She pulls the comforter over her head.)

(They wrestle in a passionate embrace. We jump cut to later, when Alex is asleep, and Lilith is insomniac and ponderous.)

You know…I look up at night, after you’re long asleep, dear, and I see cities on the moon, after dreaming of them. And many nights, when you finally get home, I play dead – asleep, that is – until you doze off, then I go walking. I go into the labyrinth, and I can hear the beast bellowing. I hear our dead son’s cries, which beat back my fantasies where the din of the wicked world dies. I see his poor face in the dead stare of the moon. I hear you snoring away as I paint my grim canvases, O my love. Then I clothe myself in moonlight and run with the hounds on the heath. I prowl the heart of the witching hour, in night’s dark, icy tower. And the next day, you ask me how my day was. Better to ask me how my night was!

Alex

(Groggily) What, dear?

Lilith

Oh, he doth stir…I was just saying how lovely the moonlight looks shining through our barren trees.

Alex

Oh, nice. Can’t sleep again, Lil?

Lilith

Sleep…is for the children of comfort. And I am an orphan.

Alex

Very poetic, Lil?

Lilith

Besides, I have too much to paint to waste the night. Too many poems to write.

Alex

Oh, I see. Well, write and paint well, hon. But you should try to get some sleep.

Lilith

Yes.

(Lilith rises, takes her journal and sits at her desk and writes out the following poem:

Dead-end dick

With his lightning prick

Nightly rapes my dreams

So I shaved my head

Pretended I was dead

But he just laughs

As I unleash a scream.

We see her reach into a drawer and open a bottle of pills, which she methodically downs, one after the other, until she passes out cold.)

EXT – Day – A Hospital

(Lilith is being wheeled into the ER, a frantic Alex running alongside her stretcher. She is grossly pale, and unconscious. We see her being attended to by ER staff, and we hear the sounds of medical staff in their call-and-response ballet. Alex is horrified, of course. He doctors pump Lilith’s stomach, and she is saved. Alex stays by her side through the night. She is released later the next day, and they decide not to tell anyone about the incident.

INT – Night – Lilith’s hospital room

Alex

Hey, babe?

Lilith

(Groggily) Yeah.

Alex

I think you’ll live.

Lilith

Oh. Great.

Alex

Hey.

Lilith

Yeah?

Alex

You never told me how you knew my name, when we first met at the zoo.

Lilith

What made you think of that?

Alex

I don’t know. It just came to me while you were sleeping. Well, how did you know?

Lilith

(She laughs a weak laugh.) Ha.

Alex

Well?

Lilith

Because I am all-powerful and all-knowing. It was just…fate, is all.

Alex

Yes, it was. Well, we’ll probably be able to go home in a few hours. But you really have to stop doing this to yourself. They’re ready to commit you, and so am I. You’re supposed to see a psychiatrist as part of your release. If you refuse, they can commit you indefinitely.

Lilith

Oh, wonderful. I expected as much. I’m not seeing a goddamned shrink!

Alex

Please, Lil. We can choose our own. My Dad’s friend Rory. He’s in town here. Great guy.

Lilith

Oh, alright. For you, anything.

Alex

No, for you. Sleep, now, and plant your gardens on the moon…

Lilith

I’d like to, but I was thinking about something. Woke up with it in my head.

Alex

What?

Lilith

That year I went to the Sorbonne…Sudden memories, things I hadn’t remembered about some…mission, or assignment, it feels like.

Alex

Yeah, to paint like Chagall.

Lilith

No, this is something about…diplomats. Some embassy, or something. Sneaking around alleys and corridors.

Alex

I think you’ve been reading one too many spy novels, babe.

Lilith

Maybe. But I was there. These are my memories.

Alex

I think you just need to rest now, Lil. Then we can go home and forget all this darkness and have a smashing soiree with our good friends.

Lilith

Sounds good. (She closes her eyes and drifts off. Alex’s face turns from happy to concerned.)

EXT – Night

Cars pull up in front of Alex and Lilith’s house for their New Year’s/Fuck Mourning party. We see their friends GABE, ANNE, OZ and LUCY being greeted at the door, and ushered inside. Faintly intelligible, desultory conversation takes place as coats are taken, and drinks and hors d’oeuvres are served. The mood is up and happy. The women split off into the kitchen, as the men gather around a 70” TV in the living room. Alex and Lilith are in their element holding court for their friends, of whom Gabe and Anne are their best.

Alex

Yeah, had to get this puppy, to complete my home theater. (He is proudly showing off his TV, flipping through the channels. He stops on a Discovery Channel special on Lions of the Serengeti.)

Oz

Great for those Sunday football games, too, my man.

Alex

Yep, those too. (He gazes over at the women, busy and chatty in the kitchen, as a large male lion stalks a female in the background, mating with her.)

Gabe

Very nice. Well, we got Super Bowl Sunday coming up in like, 2 or 3 weeks. Just sayin’…(Looks suggestively at Alex, grinning.)

Oz

Too bad the Giants just missed getting in. Bullshit calls. Fuckin’ refs must be on the Bears’ payroll. Hey, can we check Sports Center?

Alex

Well, yeah, we should do it here. There’s no alternative. Hmm? Yeah, sure, Oz. (He changes the channel and sets down the remote.) Pardon me, fellas, I want to get a refresher on my drink. You guys need anything?

Gabe

Nope.

Oz

I’m good.

Alex eyes Anne, who is particularly radiant this night. Next to his wife, with her pale skin and dark-circled eyes, she resembles a goddess, with her long, shining golden hair and perfect skin. He has never been so enraptured with her physical beauty before, though he has noted it in the past, never assailing or measuring his wife’s own beauty by it. Lilith notices this, and feels a little indignant, but hides her disgust.

Alex

So, Anne, I hear you and your beau are heading to the Cook Islands for a second honeymoon. Is this true?

Anne

Quite true, yes. In March.

Alex

Wow. That’ll be…exciting. Exotic!

Anne

Yes. As you may know, we’ve always wanted to get away to a remote South Pacific isle, and so…here’s our chance! (She smiles at Alex, and they gaze at each other perhaps a bit too long.)

Alex

Yes, well (To Lilith)…darling, we will have to follow suit. Too bad we couldn’t have planned a couples retreat. Would have been fun, don’t you think so, honey?

Lilith

Oh yes, of course! (She eyes the obvious electricity between her husband and best friend.) Perhaps just you two should go.

Silence fills the house but for ESPN, as the men look over, and the women, embarrassed, say nothing.

Alex

Oh, darling. How can you say that? I was just about to suggest that you and I do the same. Restate our vows in some exotic locale. (He throws his arm around her and kisses her neck and breast passionately.)

Lilith

Are you sure about that?

Anne

Trust me, Lil. You have nothing to worry about. I’ve seen Gabe look at you with the same kind of “engaged” look, and I don’t assume you’re about to run off and have an affair. How long have we all known each other?

Alex

Damn straight! Never been surer about anything else in my life, darling. Let’s do it, what d’ya say? (He looks intently into her disbelieving eyes.) I love this woman!!! Ya hear me?!

Laughter breaks the tension in the house. Lilith cracks a tiny smile.

Anne

It’s not too late to book for the Cook Islands. Two months out, you’d still get a good rate.

Lucy

Oz and I went to St. Kitts to this very high-end resort last year, and that was very nice. You wouldn’t have to travel so far. Very reasonable prices.

Alex

St. Kitts. That’s right, Oz you were talking about how nice it was there. Hmmm. Something to consider, for sure. I’ve been fascinated with New Zealand for a while now. Patagonia, too…

Lilith

You want to go everywhere, dear.

Alex

What’s wrong with that? It’s true. I want to see it all. Even Siberia.

Anne

Ewww. Too cold for me.

Alex

Well, in theory. I didn’t say we were booking the Tunguska Ranch for our second vows tomorrow, or anything. (Laughter) But, we do have our pick of places, pretty much. Where do you want to go, honey? (He lovingly strokes his wife’s chin, noting her own special beauty once again.)

Lilith

I don’t know. But, it’s something to think over, babe. (They kiss, as their friends cheer.)

Gabe

A toast! To all of us who are truly happily married. (He gazes at his radiant wife, who smiles buoyantly, then kisses him sensually.)

Alex

Yes, I think it’s just us, if the statistics are correct.

Boisterous laughter and the din of good friends having a good time fill up the room. Alex entreats Oz to turn off the boob tube, putting on his “party playlist” from his iPod. As the women prepare dinner, the boys go outside on the back deck with Alex’s dogs in tow. General “guy talk” takes place.

Alex

Excuse me, fellas. Gotta visit the boys’ room.

As Alex walks down the hallway to the bathroom, Anne is just coming out. They smile at each other as they pass. Anne reaches an arm out for him.

Anne

You look very handsome tonight, Alex. You know, if I wasn’t with Gabe…(closely, softly) it’d be you.

Alex

Well, thank you, Anne. You look…spectacular this evening, as well. Gabe is truly a lucky man. I love you both.

Anne

And, we love you. (She winks, and walks away. Alex can’t take his eyes from her.)

CUT to later in the evening, after dinner, when everyone is sitting around talking, sipping wine, or eating dessert.

Gabe

Marvelous dinner, Lil.

Lucy

Yes, really scrumptious!

Oz

You’ve really outdone yourself, Lil!

Anne

Where’d you find this recipe?

Lilith

It’s my own. I call it spicy chicken surprise, with a cranberry demi-glace.

Anne

You’re pretty lucky, Alex, to have a wife this talented.

Alex

I’ll say so. (Raises his wine glass) To Lilith! The love of my life, who keeps me so well fed.

(All raise their glasses and drink in tribute. The collective voices raise a high din for a while as everyone celebrates.)

Suddenly, a loud thump is heard, coming from down the hall toward the bedrooms. Everyone sits still for a long moment.

Gabe

Did you all hear that? Or, am I just imagining things?

Alex

I heard it.

Oz

What the hell was that, Alex? You got people doing construction on the place, or do you have a poltergeist, what?

Alex

Uh, no. Not that I know of. I’ll…go check it out.

Lilith

No! Don’t. I mean…it must have just been the wind banging on the eaves or something. Please don’t go, Alex.

Alex

(Gives her a quizzical look.) I don’t know…what this is. (Alex gets up to investigate. All are quiet as he walks slowly down the hallway towards the origin of the sound.)

Anne

Oh, God. I have a bad feeling about this. (She screams bloody murder.) Oh my God! (She is near-fainting, having turned ghost white.)

The ghostly apparition of a boy appears, pale-faced, naked, his eyes a bright, glowing sapphire. He smiles a beatific, almost rapturous smile. It is the ghost of DYLAN, Alex and Lilith’s son. All are in extreme shock.

Dylan

They killed me. Why, mommy, why?

Lilith

(Mortified) Oh my…God! Dylan? Who, honey?

Dylan

They control you, too. I wanted to save you… (The boy-ghost lets out a horrible wail and begins sobbing. He is clutching what looks like a weed flower of some kind.)

Lilith

(Approaching him.) Dylan, oh God, mommy’s here. Ssssh, it’s okay, mommy will take care of you.

Dylan

Don’t let them control your mind!

Alex

Dylan, it’s okay, buddy. We’re right here with you.

(Dylan’s ghost begins to fade out, and he begins to cry again. Lilith attempts to take his hand, and hers passes through his apparition. He then blinks out altogether as we hear an unearthly cry.)

Oz

My God…what does he mean by that? Why…

Lilith casts a look his direction that says “You couldn’t possibly understand, but neither can I.” She pretends to take the boy’s hand and walks him back to his room and, in a soothing voice, tells him it is bedtime.

Lilith

Mommy loves you very much, Dylan.

(Lilith closes the bedroom door, and looks back at the party guests with a horrified yet resolute look on her face. Alex suggests an ending to the night’s “festivities,” and apologizes. Their guests slowly file out, white-faced, concerned, and obviously traumatized.

Alex turns and looks to his wife with a haunted look of terror and concern. We zoom in slowly on his face, then hers, then fade to black.

Party guests have left. It is hours later.)

Alex

What’s going on here? What happened to our life together?

Lilith

Freemen. That’s so odd. My father was in a club named the Freemen, and…(She has a twisted, distraught look on her face.) Hmmm?

Alex

What went wrong? What happened to us?

Lilith

May just as well ask the moon what happened to us.

Alex

Okay, I’ll ask the moon…(he goes over to the window, pulls back the drapes) What do you think, you pale skull always staring down at us? What in the hell happened to us? To love? Tell us, evil orb!

Lilith

His phantom consumes me. I cannot escape him. I am Jonah, and he is the whale… my sweet boy.

(She opens her mouth and lets out a long, low scream or growl, as if possessed by the dead boy, or some other spirit.)

He is not dead! He lives! He lives in me! (She shrieks, sobs, convulses and collapses into Alex’s arms.)

Alex

I can’t figure any of this out. I mean, why his spirit is so troubled. I’m hearing and seeing him almost every night now, too. I can’t let him go, and wouldn’t want to.

Lilith

I see him every night in the witching hour, like…Hamlet seeing his dead father. And every morning now, too. And now that you all have seen him as well, I know that his ghost is true. It’s like he’s trying to tell us something. I mean, “Why, mommy, why?” – is he asking me “Why death? Why is my life over?” It’s unanswerable! (She sobs some more.) My flesh and bone bleeds for him! What justice is there for fallen children? It is in that world I walk…

Alex

At least you receive some measure of redemption by helping other children, Lil.

Lilith

And what a small and agonizing comfort it is, too! My God…

Alex

(Comforting her.) Sssh, it’s alright, Lil.

Lilith

No, it’s not alright. It’ll never be alright again. He is dead and gone, he is dead and gone (she sings this like Ophelia) and nothing will restore his little life, even as his tender heart beats within me…again.

Alex

(He holds her close.) All is not lost, my darling. We have our lives. We can always try again. We can live our lives. He would want us to…

Lilith

(In a mocking tone.) To live on. Soldier onward, right? Which agony is worse? To live on…with this, or to play death’s game, entertain his endless plague, that gallows human happiness as he strums his lyre?

Alex

(Annoyed) Okay, then. All is lost, Lil. Let’s just give up and play death’s game, then, shall we? We’ll make spells, curses, commune with the dead, fall into morbid melancholy, whisper unholy things and still see the sun, eh? Still have our lives to lead, rife with possibilities.

Lilith

I don’t want to live this way, like this. I’m not like this. This is not me.

Alex

Then, how do you live? Who are you, Lil?

Lilith

I don’t know. But, not this pathetic, grieving mother bit. Not this lost, confused, sad person I’ve become. I want to dance! Sing!

Alex

Then, dance! Let’s dance. (He takes her in a slow dance embrace, twirls her and sashays heartlessly a moment. She laughs a manic laugh and breaks away, dancing a wild dance to her own inner music. Alex watches her a while, concerned, then bemused, then goes back to bed.) Good night, dear.

Lilith

It’s just too much for you, isn’t it?

Alex

Sometimes. Good night, Lil.

Lilith

Pathetic.

Alex

Thanks for understanding.

Lilith

I don’t understand, but…whatever. (She goes down to her studio and paints a while. She is in a wildly manic state, listening to her iPod and gyrating, singing, flinging paint, etc.)

EXT – Day, The Bronx Zoo

We follow Alex as he strolls slowly down the zoo path, gazing at creatures of all stripes. When he comes around the corner and sees the lion’s den, he pauses, with a realm of uncanny emotion welling up in him. One large male lion is pacing the perimeter of the enclosure, looking out toward him, almost as if he were anticipating Alex’s arrival. Alex is instantly transported back to the African safari when he was 10 years old, and where the pride of lions forever came to inhabit his heart.

He and the lion stare for a long time at each other, until Alex receives the distinct impression that all hearts beat on the same frequency, everywhere, all creatures, and that he and the lion were one. Then, suddenly, he sees as if out of the lion’s eyes. He has been astrally displaced – or, replaced – into the body of this lion, but seeing as an intelligent being. He feels the trapped nature of the animal, and cries out, roaring at the passers-by.

Has the lion also seen from behind Alex’s eyes? It is visually illustrated for us that indeed he has.

INT – Day – Saddle River Special Needs School

Lilith is interacting with several students, including ANTON and CASSIE.

ANTON

Are you going to read us another poem today, Ms. Summerfield?

Lilith

I think we can do that, Anton. How about at the end of the day?

Anton

Cool! (He is beaming.)

CASSIE

(Gesturing to a picture on Lilith’s desk) Is that a picture of your son, Ms. Summerfield?

Lilith

Yes, Cassie.

Cassie

Why don’t you ever bring him to class, sometime?

Lilith

(Visibly shaken) Well, Cassie. He isn’t…with us anymore. But, he is in spirit. Do you have someone in your family who has but is still here in spirit?

Cassie

(Sadly) My dad. He died in the war.

Lilith

(Comforting the girl) It’s alright, sweetie. Love gives us strength and makes sure they’ll always be here with us.

Cassie

Yeah. I miss him a lot.

Lilith

Of course you do, sweetie. (Lilith excuses herself and goes to the restroom where she sobs uncontrollably. She seems to feel a presence.) Dylan, are you there? I feel you. (Nodding.) Yes. I’ll see you in my dreams again tonight, darling.

EXT – Night

A Mercedes sedan travels down a dark country road. We follow behind as it travels up a driveway and parks. A man – Alex – gets out and enters his large “modernist” style mansion.

INT – Night

The house is mostly dark. Alex turns on lights, sets down his briefcase.

Alex

Lilith? (He is looking from room to room.) Lil? Lilith, dear?

He enters their bedroom and finds her sitting on the bed, with candles lit.

Darling? Is something the matter? (She is unresponsive.) Lil? What’s wrong?

Lilith

I’ve been a bad witch. (Long pause as she looks up at him in the candlelight with haunted eyes.)

Alex

What…what do you mean?

Lilith

Working late again?

Alex

Yes.

Lilith

I used my magic…for my own ends. Out of sheer…desire…and desperation.

Alex

Just what is it you’re trying to say?

Lilith

I have woven a powerful spell. I’ve been very bad.

Alex

How so? (Dead silence. Candle flickers as a gathering storm tosses an elm tree around outside.) Darling? What happened? (He reaches out to stroke her hair, she flinches, and begins to sob.)

Lilith

You knew I wasn’t happy. All those late hours…all those spoiled dinners. All these years of…waiting.

Alex

Waiting? For what? And, what spoiled dinners? You’re a great cook.

Lilith

(Very angry.) Waiting for you! (She sobs heavily.) For you. (Softer.) And now, that’s all over.

Alex

Just what have you done, Lil?

Lilith does not speak, burying her head in her arms. Alex comforts her awkwardly, then goes to the kitchen and makes himself a drink. He wanders back to the bedroom to continue talking to his wife, but she is asleep. There is a bottle of prescription medication on the nightstand. Valium. There is also a brown leather notebook on his side of the bed, which he recognizes as hers. He picks up the notebook and takes it out to the living room, sits down, and begins reading. There are many diary entries explaining her state of mind, along with poetry, drawings, to-do lists, and other information, references to people and places he finds very strange and out of character. He stoically flips through the equivalent of his wife’s mind over the last few months, sipping his Scotch, as the storm throbs ethereally above him.

We see over his shoulder the entry for February 23: “Peter and I went to lunch together. His grey-blue eyes drew me in. We made love in his car, parked beneath an ancient oak in the rain, with a darkened sun trying to shed some light on us. Never experienced his kind of creativity and passion in a lover before.”

Poem on very next page:               Breezy edges descend

through tired swarms

heretics may recommend;

Pain’s temple fleshed out –

Until knowing stops.

Alex’s face is an unruffled exterior of calm and control, though by his eyes we see that he is holding off a mountain of hurt. He drops the journal and stares into the dark, then out at the gale, which is driving cold spring rain against the windows.

He continues flipping through the journal for a minute, coming upon another poem: “Digital Daughters”:

Digital daughters

engender wrath

in housed passivity

conformed to no wild wind

Nature’s laws broken blind

Now now, girls, follow my blood.

He is realizing the full scope of his wife’s artistic insights and fractious state of mind, and really drinking it in along with the whiskey and solitude. He has a flash of the blood his son vomited and thinks “Oh no. Couldn’t be” and dismisses the thought. It is overwhelming to a man who has been going through the routine of a marriage he’d not thought loveless—but rather just a victim of time and schedules and jobs, like any. He reads a bit more, then drops the book on the floor with a dramatic thud that resonates in his heart as the dropping of venerable marriage vows, of a planet, of the weight he gladly carried, all he worked for—for both of them; of twelve years together.

INT – Night

It is several hours later—the witching hour. Alex has fallen asleep on the couch. The storm has subsided, but a light rain still falls outside. He awakes abruptly from a nightmare — one in which Lilith drives them off of a very high cliff with a smile on her face.

Lilith

So, you stole my notebook, I see. (She stands silhouetted in the dark.) Find some good reading, did you?

Alex

(Startled) Uh…yeah. Sorry. You were asleep…

Lilith

It’s okay. There’s nothing to hide anymore. Read away. (She turns on a lamp, though he never sees her go near it.)

Alex

There’s some very good poetry in there.

Lilith

Gee thanks, professor. It’s not all poetry, though. Mostly pain, and various other privations.

Alex

Look, Lilith, I’m sorry for the late nights lately. You know with these New York projects I’ve had to take some late meetings…

Lilith

Yes, I am well aware of that, Alex.

Alex

With the Manhattan deal in the works and this Civic Center project that Oz is just being a dragonslayer about, I’m working overtime. It can’t really be helped, Lil. Believe me, if I could…

Lilith

(Dreamily) Acute realities descend…and devour.

Alex

I love you, Lilith, and always have. But you really need to get a grip on reality. If you’ve suspected me of anything besides being mired in these mostly boring meetings, then you’re wrong.

Lilith

I haven’t. I told you, it’s me. I wove the spell. I did it. (Turns to look at him.) I’m a much more powerful witch than I thought. But (pauses) I always thought it would be good magic, though.

Alex

(Goes to her.) Yes, you did. And it worked. On me. (Tries to kiss her. She turns her head slightly, but he kisses her anyway.) What’s the matter here? Have you just…lost that loving feeling? Just like that? I’m sorry I haven’t been…

Lilith

You’re sorry, yes.

Alex

Yes, I’m sorry, Lilith, that I haven’t been here, for dinner lately, for love, for you…(sweetly).

Lilith

You’ve been wrapped up in your own world. You go to your meetings, or do God knows what, then stumble in late-evening, drink your Scotch, watch your movies…then roll into bed at midnight. We awake as strangers now, go off to our jobs during the week, then maybe take a trip on the weekends into the city, if we’re lucky. But lately, I’ve been living alone.

Alex

Is it true?

Lilith

Is what true?

Alex

About you and…Peter.

Lilith

Looks like the cat’s out of the bag, I’m afraid.

Alex

But…why? How could you? And how can you be so heartless about it?

Lilith

Heartless? I assure you it’s still here. Still beating. Want to feel? (She takes his hand and puts it on her breast.)

Alex

I don’t mean literally…

Lilith

Do you know that we’re approaching the speed of light? That we’ll soon be in the fifth dimension – and beyond? Did you know that?(She turns away from him.)

Alex

What are you talking about?

Lilith

You see? Right there—you don’t even know me. Or yourself. You don’t know what this world is, the powers we all have, the reality of human life on this planet, our true history! (She is wild-eyed now.) Do you know how a flower unfolds in Iceland? Or…how a single wave can travel for thousands of miles across the sea? (Pauses.) Our hearts send out signals…electromagnetic signals that can travel for many miles beyond the confines of our bodies.

Alex

I hadn’t thought about it lately, but yes, I guess I knew…I am aware that there are powers we possess, and that are in this world far beyond what we have come to believe. What science and the powers that be teach us from birth, but which are exactly the opposite of the truth.

Lilith

Yes. When the paranormal is ascertained as normal, is what I mean. When we finally use all of our brain power. I mean a great delving into what it is we are doing here on this planet–and what our destiny is. And achieving an answer to that. Bringing the esoteric, the occult to the light of day, and healing our broken, befuddled lives with that sacred–yet profaned–knowledge. And utilizing it, creatively…that is where I am at, dear husband. And yes, I have faltered. Or, evolved, as it may be. I have found a new lover. Or, made a horrible faux pas. It is a lamentable stage in our joint odyssey, but…perhaps a needed one.

Alex

And, if not?

Lilith

If not what?

Alex

Needed.

Lilith

Then, perhaps there is hope for us if you can forgive an unneeded tryst, but…I don’t know.

Alex

(Takes her hand lovingly, kissing it.) You are my born love—as indigenous to me as my face, heartbeat, my childhood, or name. (Passionately.) More so than even my name. You are my eternal object of desire, and I would have no other, Lilith. True to your namesake, you are the first woman. Beauty for me has no other name. I can forgive, if we can find a way through this and grow together. Come to some new understanding of ourselves. But…I cannot forget. I mean, I don’t know yet. Time will tell. But, I will say that this is a hurt as deep losing my grandmother or dog when I was 12 years old. Or, when they killed the lions.(Pauses as a lightning strike echoes heavy thunder.) It’s bigger.

Lilith

(Noting his deep, heartfelt outpouring.) The lions. Yes. I have no doubt the feeling is there, darling. But, your actions speak louder than words ever will.

Alex

How about your actions!? How can you even compare being preoccupied, or ensconced in one’s work to infidelity?

Lilith

Have you never pondered sex with someone else? Anne? One of your cute secretaries, perhaps?

Alex

Well, there’s a safe diversion. Thinking about it and doing it are completely different. And, no, I have never seriously pondered sex or an affair with any other woman but you.

Lilith

Are they different?

Alex

Are you kidding me? If it were me who cheated, and I presented that weak “case” to you, would you not laugh me out of the room? Because all of us think of it and one time or another. Most times, we can’t even help the thoughts that land in our heads like owls in a tall tree. We censor our thoughts for fear, or moral capitulation, and cleave to the “righteous” road, rather than rock the boat of prudence.

Lilith

Feeling poetic tonight, dear?

Alex

You could say I’ve been inspired. Revolted and inspired. (He goes to the kitchen to refill his drink.) So, do you love this…Peter character? Or foresee anything long-term with him?

Lilith

(Ponderous.) It was just a tryst. Out of boredom.

Alex

Boredom? My God. (Laughs blackly, and takes a large swig of Scotch.) Is that what our marriage vows cost? A bit of boredom?

Lilith

How much whiskey does it take you to see into yourself and behold the truth?

Alex

Don’t avoid the question, Lil.

Lilith

I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Alex

You did say that he was passionate. That you had finally found passion in a lover, as you put it. You referred to it as ‘making love’ in your journal. Was that just wishful thinking?

Lilith

I don’t know. Maybe.

Alex

God, I think I’m going to be sick. (He runs to the bathroom, where he vomits repeatedly. There is a trace amount of blood in his regurgitation, and he is horrified at seeing it.) Ah, Jesus. Me, too.

(Lilith obviously has sympathy for Alex, looking worried and perhaps contrite about her indiscretion. She paces the hallway outside the bathroom, listening to her husband vomit and moan. She is distressed as she listens to him at the bathroom door.)

Lilith

Are you okay? Maybe ease up on the Scotch a little bit? I’m sorry.

(Door opens.)

Alex

(Bitterly.) It’s not the liquor, it’s you. And, I’ll decide when to put the bottle up, now.

Lilith

See, that’s the attitude that drives me into another man’s arms.

Alex spins and grabs her by the shoulders.

Alex

Don’t you dare make your convenient qualifications for betrayal, Lil, because I won’t hear of it! Just save it! You cheated, out of boredom. Don’t try and blame it on this isolated exchange. My meanness is ardor under duress. It’s reactionary to your vomitous deed.

Lilith

Don’t give me that Mr. Innocent routine. You have your vices. Your distractions. Enjoying your meetings with that new “office manager” of yours?

Alex

You’re right, Lil! I’m guilty! Guilty of being a loyal, dedicated lover; guilty of providing us a home, allowing you to work part time and be an artist; guilty, Ms. Prosecutor, of undying love for a cheating woman who even now chides me for my negligible vices. My drink. I drink because it doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t judge me. You know what the funny thing is, Lil? I’m not even an alcoholic, and you know it.

Lilith

Do I?

Alex

You do now.

Lilith

I’m tired. I’m going to bed. (She retires to the bedroom.)

Alex

That’s it…there’s that passive-aggressive hostility in action. That bemystifying apathy that arms itself with silence when explication is the only savior of love. (Under his breath.) Good night.

(Alex, setting his drink down on the coffee table, opens a photo album containing pictures from the last five years of his marriage. As he flips slowly through the pages, he gradually becomes aware of not quite feeling like he “was in his own life” as he later describes it.

He sits there until the first light of dawn appears, looking at the pictures and reaching out through space and time to discover what lay beyond his own life. One picture in particular startles him out of his transcendent interlude: one from a series of pictures of his African safari when he was ten years old. “How did this get in here?” he thought, and it jarred loose memories he had not had in many years, in a flood that seemed Biblical to him. All of those two weeks rushed back vividly, and he especially reminisced about his relationship with the pride of lions—specifically one lion, who seemed to protect him, to welcome him like an old friend. He marveled again at the phenomenon of it, the heat, the gunshots, and his parents who seemed after that much further from his heart than the lion who became his friend.

This reminiscence seems to steel his heart with courage, and he resolves to wake his wife up and confront her about her affair.)

Alex

(Switching the light on) Wake up, Lilith.

Lilith

I’m awake.

Alex

Good, because we’re going to have a little talk.

Lilith

Oh? What time is it? What’s on your mind, Alex? Something other than work?

Alex

(He smiles a joyless smile.) Work…yes. The work of love.

Lilith

The work of love…I like that. Can I use that?

Alex

Well, you stole my heart, so I guess you can have that too.

Lilith

(Rising, thinking. Biting her thumb like a Lady Macbeth and Ophelia combined in one body and soul.) Thanks. You know, I kept my heart in a box for you, even, when I could not love you, Alex. And there, your eyes ask why I could not love you…for the heart and mind distrust when they are ignored. And you became ignorant of me. (She pauses.) Yes, you had your work. And who knows? Perhaps you really were hard at work all those nights on your…buildings…how are we to really know anything, though?

Alex

Ah, how such dear love suspects. You’re paranoid. You’ve been watching too much TV.

Lilith

Perhaps I have. (Gives him a long look.) Perhaps it suspects where suspicion fits like a shining wedding band on a captive finger. (She gazes at her diamond-adorned ring finger.) Perhaps the heart suspects love of wounding with its unbearable weight, and flinches in protest…sending its owner into all manner of neuroses and proclivities horrific and merciless.

Alex

I gave myself a lion, for you gave me a toad.

Lilith

(Incredulous) A toad. Really?

Alex

For your witchcraft. But I didn’t want it.

Lilith

What? The toad, or the witchcraft?

Alex

Both.

Lilith

Thou art hallucinating, dear husband.

Alex

Dear…What about Dylan? You never really wanted him. You never did speak favorably about having kids…it was like you did it just to please me, or your parents.

Lilith

What?!? You actually blame me for…

Alex

Not directly, perhaps. But – don’t deceive yourself, Lil. Your so-called grief was quickly transformed into…

Lilith

What?!

Alex

Relief, vanity, forgetfulness, absence. That’s when you went away from me.

Lilith

Relief? Vanity? I assure you, O husband, that my sorrow is as fathomless as the South Seas, and more alive than us both.

Alex

Oh yes. As fathomless as you certainly are. As fathomless as the night…and more alive. I could never, ever understand you, for all of my efforts. (Suddenly angry) How did he get sick? (Grabs her by the shoulders) What happened, Lil? What did you do to our child? My son?!? Huh? Why did his apparition appear the other night and say, “Why, mommy?” (Long pause.) Answer me!

Lilith

(Turning away, shocked.) It was food poisoning, just like the investigation showed. (Turns back to him) It was exactly as it came out in the coroner’s report. Are you accusing me of something here? To say that I murdered our child is unconscionable! (She begins to cry.) I don’t believe you’re accusing me of this! I can’t go on with you!

Alex

Good! Go! Go to your diversion and hide with your nagging conscience. Go, and talk to our child’s ghost, abandoned to death as he was! Answer his cries! Go, and never return here. I’m going to be shrewd in the divorce proceedings, you can be damned well sure of it – should you seek a divorce. So, go be damned to your witchcraft alone, pale Hecate.

Lilith

(After a long pause.) Yes, I will go, and be with one who is actually there.

Alex

Would you like me to show you how much I am there, and have been here for you, sweet wife? (He grabs her, throws her on the bed, and falls upon her aggressively.) Can you feel how “there” I am, dear wife? Ohhh, you feel the same as always. With your pixie breasts peeking out, and your lowlands beckoning me in darkness, have I been there. (He grinds against her as she struggles, crying out for him to stop. Finally, she goes limp and emotionless.) Fine, Lilith. I’ll leave you to your craft and art and fantasy. It’s all you have. But I won’t finance it anymore.

Lilith

(Absently) Yes…it is. At least it’s there. Unlike an absentee husband.

Alex

An absentee husband. Really? I am here, every single night! An absentee husband, my dear, who is out, busy paying for your home and lifestyle, and ability to basically live how you want!

Alex’s iPhone bleeps, and he checks it. It is his friend Gabe sending pictures and messages from the Cook Islands, where he and his wife are enjoying a second honeymoon. Alex reads through the messages and looks at some of the pictures.

Lilith

One of your…girlfriends?

Alex

(Incensed) It’s actually Gabe, if you must know. Do you really want to know? See for yourself! (He sticks the phone in her face. She recoils.) Girlfriend. (Pauses.) Girlfriend, ha. Shows what you know. Jesus. (He goes to walk out of the room, but turns back.) Paranoid, much?

Lilith

Absence makes the heart grow…isolated, and quiet.  A loud, black, and roaring quiet. In your absence, I forgot it was even there.

Alex

Well, that’s just…fuckin’ sad, Lil!

Lilith

Yes! Yes, it is!

Alex

Learn the concept of abiding love sometime, why don’t you. We’ve been married for 12 years, last time I checked.

Lilith sits on the edge of the bed looking like a human Tower of Pisa. A ship in stormy seas listing to one side. She closes her eyes, realizing that perhaps she may be a tad paranoid after all. Maybe she was rationalizing her turning away from her loyal husband, a necessary fulcrum for her simple change in desires.

Alex goes to his dead child’s bedroom door, opens it as if he is unsealing some Pharoah’s tomb, and enters the dark room illuminated only by half-moon light. “It’s over,” he thinks, as he gazes at the belongings of his 7-year old son, now gone, thinking that he would now be the same age as he was when he was welcomed by the lions in Africa. He spies the large, stuffed lion on his son’s bed, picks it up and looks into its artificial eyes for signs of life. He also notes again the many drawings and paintings of a high artistic level his intelligent and talented son produced in his short lifespan.

Alex

Lazarus unraised. I never should have left you that day, my son. (He holds the lion tightly to him. Tears blur his vision, as he weeps a deep, inconsolable sorrow as fathomless as the South Seas.)

Fade to Black

INT – Night – The Kitchen

Alex fills a whiskey glass near full, takes a large drink, and sees something in the darkness. Moving from the kitchen into the living room in near total darkness, he switches on a lamp and stares at a new painting on his living room wall. It is his wife’s newest work, depicting a female figure riding on the back of a large wolf, who carries a child in its mouth, as a skull-like moon gazes down upon them. It is utterly chilling, yet fascinating in its fuchsias and scarlets and silvers and blue-blacks, and he cannot take his eyes off of it. Finally, he switches the light off in disgust, and gulps down the rest of his drink.

Alex

Fuck sorrow. Fuck heartbreak. Fuck all of this darkness…and bullshit! (He grabs a notepad and writes down the following words) Inauthentic living. Koyaanisqatsi – “life out of balance”!

(He messages Gabe that “maybe I should come join you guys…I’m so sick of all this doom and gloom business. I need the sun.”

He sits in the dark, soaking up the last of his drink, then texts “kidding. I wouldn’t feign to bother you two on honeymoon number two.” He sets his empty glass on the coffee table, thinking “That’s enough for me. I need something healthy. I want to get healthy.” He goes to the main floor bathroom and looks at himself in the mirror. He thinks, “I want to get away from this madness that’s kept us its prisoners. That’s made her crazy and me a drunk. Where did it all go wrong?” Alex notes the dark circles under his eyes, feels the growing paunch of his 44-year old belly, and resolves to get healthy right then and there.

Walking out to the kitchen table, he sees a section of the New York Times open to a story about the “Miracle Child” which he thought he’d heard some people at work talking about. He sits down and reads all about the child in Uganda who, apparently has every known major disease, and yet still walks and breathes and heals others – apparently anyone who has any of the diseases he carries. This list includes: Leprosy, AIDS, cancer, Lyme disease, rickets, lupus, epilepsy, and many others. How is it, journalists ask, that this child can still go on living with all of these afflictions, yet still find his way to healing and helping others? The picture is of his humble, emaciated little self, robed and smiling a beatific smile and holding out a ravaged limb to the photographer. The story goes on to speak of the child’s upcoming visit with the Dalai Lama to discuss the health of the world’s children and peoples, compassion, and spiritual healing in a digital age.

Finishing the story, Alex feels ashamed to think that he had any real problems, when this child was busy trying to heal the world while living with far more than his share of deadly diseases. Just then he feels something welling up within him that’s like his blood turning over, or that he’s being hit by an invisible laser beam. It’s as if he were being irradiated, vibrated, shaken up by some astral force trying to communicate through discomfort and malaise. Was this another panic attack? He goes to the couch and lies down, staring up at the white ceiling like a surrogate sky taunting him. Or, was it some cathedral’s apex calling him to pray now?

As he felt his body throbbing and vibrating out of control, he focused on the Virgin Mary of his youth and asked her to dispel the awful mental and physical pain he was going through. He closed his eyes, and it was as if he could see for the first time, with clear eyes and understanding. He could see through dimensions, into realms of light that he never thought could exist, but were now clear to his inner sight.

He feels himself soaring out across many dimensions, then the sensation of falling many thousands of feet. He feels he will inexorably crash into the earth at 1,000 miles per hour, and cries out as he awakes drenched in sweat on the couch, the first bare inklings of daylight flirting at the window.)

Miracle child, we need you…

INT/EXT – Car/Road – Day

Lilith and PETER, her co-worker, are driving in his car.

Lilith

O deathless bird,

To sing unsung,

To ring unrung;

To die, softly, in the sun…

PETER

That’s beautiful. And heartbreaking. You’re a poetic phenomenon, my dear.

Lilith

And you, good sir, are a paragon of manhood. Mmmm.(She reaches over and lazily strokes his crotch.)

Peter

Really?

(A cat darts in front of the car.)

Lilith

Look out!

(Peter slams on the brakes. The cat escapes unhurt.)

Peter

Wow, that was close! I hate when that happens.

Lilith

Thank you for stopping for kitty-cat, Peter. Meeeeoooww. (In affected cat voice) Thaaaank you, Peter. I wasn’t ready to go to that great ball of yarn in the sky just yet.

Peter

(Laughing.) You’re welcome, there, kitty cat. I didn’t want to kill you.

Lilith

Thou shalt not kiiiiilll me. Meoooow.

Peter

So, um, seriously, kitty cat, I mean…Lilith, where to for lunch?

Lilith

Reeeooowwwrrr (She pretends to scratch Peter). I’m your lioness, my dear. I scratch with love to obviate fear. (Puts her head on his arm and rubs affectionately.) You pick.

Peter

Will you…tell him today, kitty cat? Hmm?

Lilith

(Becoming serious.) If he had the right ears to hear, they’d have heard already.

Peter

Right or wrong, he must know, love.

Lilith

Right and wrong have forgotten themselves in this world, my love. (Looks down at his lap.) Oh, I see how thou art aroused by this noontime trysting. Wouldst thou do something about your…erotic enthusiasm?

Peter

Wouldn’t we? I know a spot so lovely, so leafy, so secluded… in which to make our love this day.

Lilith

Real love? (She gives him a playful, searching look.)

Peter

But of course, milady. (He kisses her hand, and she appears unmoved.)

Lilith

Something eats away at my soul, where I’d thought my soul ate. The light of day is brighter, yet more pale. Here’s a strange paradox.

Peter

What’s troubling you, my dear?

Lilith

I just told you. One may as well ask what troubles the moon, or the earth, rain…or fire. Nevermind. Let’s to romance.

(They exit the car and make their way into a leafy enclosure in a park with large trees and a stream running through it. They make love. Just as they finish, a loud churchbell tolls and Lilith, suddenly fearing, looks into Peter’s eyes and begins weeping. He attempts to console her, but she cannot be comforted.)

Lilith

O, I am black, full of blackness. My heart is like a stone. All swings toward death in flowery costume.

Peter

But…why, my love?

Lilith

I have had the sick seed in me for ages, which hath grown to a great tree, and which sprouts new tendrils, leaves, and limbs each year. I have done wrong. But my sun shines on the good side, and blooms my smiles. I am both and twain and neither. I am in the bottomless pit and chancred by a hollow sunlight…

(At this recitation, all Peter can do is hold her as she weeps uncontrollably. We zoom out slowly from the leafy greensward and up where a gothic cathedral stabs upward into the canopy above them.)

EXT – Day

Alex’s Mercedes pulls into the parking lot of an old and stately looking stone building. This is the location of the Saddle River architecture firm of Bryant, Summerfield, Cooper and Associates, where Alex works. Oswald Bryant is the head of the firm, and his boss/partner.

INT – Day – Alex’s office

Oswald “Oz” Bryant

Hey, buddy, feeling better?

Alex

Yeah, a bit. I guess.

Oz

They love the specs on the Manhattan project. Nice work.

Alex

Yeah? Great.

Oz

Nice job in particular on incorporating my triangulated courtyard with the obelisk.

Alex

Was no sweat. Just seems a bit…archaic.

Oz

Archaic…but powerful. Hey, how about joining us for a celebratory toast down at the Ivy?

Alex

Uh, well…

Oz

Come on, buddy, celebrate with us!

Alex

Yeah it’s celebration time, for sure. Well, Oz, if you’re really holding me and my work in high esteem, you can leave off the “buddy” as moniker, how about that? I find it very…demeaning, actually.

Oz

I didn’t know you felt that way about it, Alex, my boy. Done deal. No more buddy, though I hope we can still be buddies. What d’ya say?

Alex

To what?

Oz

To that drink? At the old Ivy? Our new receptionist will be there.

Alex

You know, Lilith is very ill, Oz. As I have been.

Oz

Oh. I’m so sorry, I hadn’t heard. (He looks shocked and saddened.)

Alex

It’s been rough lately. We’re kind of living separate lives at this point. And, I wanted to talk to you about something else –

Oz

I had no idea you two were even in trouble.

Alex

Neither had I, until rather recently. Just, out of nowhere I find out…she’s cheating with someone she works with at the school. We tried to…

Oz

It’s okay, Alex. You don’t have to explain. I completely understand.

Alex

No, I want to…talk about it. I need to.

(A young woman appears at the doorway. This is the new receptionist, named MONIQUE.)

MONIQUE

Oh, here you are, Mr. Bryant.

Oz

Here I am!

Monique

Here are those copies of the Civic Center specs you wanted, sir. And, I confirmed that eleven o’clock for you for tomorrow.

Oz

Great! Let’s celebrate. Come on, Alex, come with us.

Alex

Yeah, uh, I’ll be there. I’ll meet you down there. I just have to, uh, finish up something here. (He notices the almost cherubic smile and nubile beauty of the young woman, and smiles a weak smile back. They size each other up awkwardly.) Oz, I really need to talk to you, mano a mano…

Oz

Could you give us a minute here, Monique? Thanks. We’ll be right there. (He shuts the door.)

Alex

(Quietly.) She doesn’t know that I know. I found her journal under the bed, with detailed entries all about their… couplings.

Oz

Oh, God.

Alex

Yeah, and that’s not the half of it. Remember that night? The party? The noise, and the ghost of our child?

Oz

It’s something I won’t soon forget.

Alex

Well, what all of you don’t know is that he’s been banging around, making noises for months…leaving the bedroom window open, moaning in a faint wail, stuff like that. Real poltergeist type stuff, off and on, for months.

Oz

Jesus.

Alex

Yeah, I pray to Jesus or whoever might be listening to make it all stop, but it’s actually intensifying. And then…the other night, when Lilith was storming out in a rage…he shattered that large mirror in our bedroom and made a shrieking sound like…a banshee in hell, or something.

Oz

My God.

Alex

It’s very strange, Oz. He keeps wailing, “Why, mommy? Why?” and he, or something, painted “Free your mind” and other weird stuff on one of his unfinished canvases we left up. I need to talk to…

Oz

An exorcist, one of those voodoo house cleaners, or something.

Alex

Yeah. But, seriously, I’m really at my wit’s end with it, Oz. It’s very strange.

Oz

Hey, come over and stay in the guest house.

Alex

No, it’s okay, Oz, really. I’m fine.

Oz

You sure? Maybe you should take some time off.

Alex

Well…yeah, I need to. And now that this deal is done…and with my life suddenly torn apart, my wife gone mad, off with some co-worker…

Oz

By all means, partner. Take it. Find some peace, my God.

Alex

I pray to God for peace every day and all I get is hell on earth.

Oz

Someone told me once when you’re going through hell, to keep going.

Alex

(Laughs joylessly.) That’s good advice, Oz. Keep going. I mean we have to, right? (Laughs a slightly mad laugh.)

Oz

I really hope you can patch things up with Lilith…

Alex

I love her so much, it scares me, Oz. She scares me. I mean, I’m finding things out about my wife, and it’s like…I don’t even know the woman. I mean, you go along in your life thinking everything’s fine, and all of a sudden one day it’s like you’re in bed with a stranger, a ghost, or a demon.

Oz

(Gives Alex a level, sober look.) It’s frightening, I’m sure.

Alex

And if you can’t really know your wife…you can’t really know anyone else…am I right?

Oz

Well, I don’t know. I suppose that may be true for some.

Alex

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective, even on an intimate partner.

Oz

What are you trying to say, Alex?

Alex

I don’t know what to believe, Oz. But…you were there, you saw it. The apparition of our son. Is there anything you can tell me about…

Oz

About what, Alex?

Alex

Well, to be quite honest, Oz, she wrote some disturbing things about you in her journal some time back, and…

Oz

What is that supposed to mean? As you know, Alex, your wife does have a very dark side. Maybe she was speaking of the Wizard of Oz.

Alex

That’s good. No, she said something about you and some club, and her dad knowing your dad a long time ago.

Oz

Yes, her father and I were in the Freeman Society together before his untimely passing. Your point?

Alex

Well, it wasn’t just that – it’s the context in which she wrote some of that stuff. Very dark, talking about sacrificing babies, and witches, blood-stained animals, that kind of thing…

Oz

Wow, sounds like Lil has a very active imagination, Alex.

Alex

She does, yes. But, this is weird, Oz, especially with all of the phantom business with our dead son, her madness, and now a reckless infidelity. I don’t know.

Oz

Now, let me tell you something about your wife, Alex. (He rises.) You’re not going to like it, but it’s the truth. Yes, she’s been involved in some dark stuff. Mostly to do with her father and his involvement in the Freeman Society. Now, I’m not going to go into it more than that, but I can tell you that it goes back to her birth and childhood. Now, we have a young lady waiting for us across the street, so let’s go and have a good time and try to forget this dark stuff. What d’ya say, pal?

Alex

Forget? You’re changing the subject lightning quick, there. You’re asking me to just forget about a rather alarming revelation involving the woman I love!

Oz

Yes, it’s rather…alarming, isn’t it? Well, now you know. Better to know than remain in the dark, wouldn’t you say, Alex, my boy? (He gives Alex a very sinister, sober look, then smiles a big smile.)

Alex

What else do you know, Oz?

Oz

Nothing that a lack of discretion couldn’t garner disaster over, if you know what I mean. We Freeman keep our oaths, and insure them with the ultimate sacrifice, my dear boy.

Alex

Right. (Alex looks extremely pained. He is sweating, and holds his temples.)

Oz

Shall we away to celebrate?

Alex

No, Oz, I’m going home. I’m feeling ill.

Oz

Another anxiety attack?

Alex

Probably.

Oz

Suit yourself. But, I warn you again that indiscretion could be fatal in this case.

Alex

I won’t say a word. (Sickened, he leaves. Oz watches him leave, then smiles a supremely confident smile as he grabs his coat and walks out to meet his new secretary.)

EXT – Day – Gabe and Anne’s House

Alex knocks at his best friends’ door. Anne answers.

Anne

Alex! What are you doing here?

Alex

Hi, Anne. I really need to talk to Gabe, is he in?

Anne

Well, no, I’m afraid not. He’s tied up at the magazine till late. Want to come inside? (She gives him an irresistible smile.)

Alex

Uh, sure, Anne, thank you. I won’t stay long, I just wanted to leave a –

Anne

Nonsense. Stay, make yourself comfortable, by all means. Can I get you something? Beer, wine, iced tea? (She opens the refrigerator and gestures grandly.) Anything? I have a nice French wine.

Alex

Uh, no. That’s awfully nice of you, Anne. I just wanted to –

Anne

Let’s have a glass of Chardonnay and talk, hmm? (She is pouring a nice French Chardonnay into a glass. She hands him the glass and smiles a shatteringly beautiful smile.)

Alex

Uhh…God, am I in trouble. (He takes the glass and sips from it.)

Anne

What’s wrong, Alex?

Alex

Oh, it’s. Well…

Anne

You know that you can open up to me, Alex. We go how far back? Twenty years or more? I remember those raucous college nights when I was first dating Gabe. When you and he were in Delta Phi, and so much fun…and funny. (She approaches him.) What’s happened to all the fun, Alex? (She is just inches from him now, in a silk bathrobe, her brilliant, long blond hair wafting and catching the light.)

Alex

I don’t know. (He looks away, outside through the kitchen window.) We traded it for “stuff”. Occasional dinner parties and malaise. And dysfunction disguised as conformity, morality, propriety.

Anne

Mmm hmm. A lopsided bargain, for sure. (She turns away from Alex and struts slowly around her kitchen.) I want the good times back. Gabe and I fight almost every night now. I’m pretty sure he’s cheating on me, and –

Alex

Cheating? On you? Aphrodite? Why on earth would he do that? He’s a fool if he is.

Anne

(She turns and smiles at him.) Oh, you know. All those late nights, deadlines, meetings, et cetera. Just little things. Ignoring me.

Alex

Really? I thought you guys were in perfect shape.

Anne

Keeping up appearances. The great American pastime. And he gets busy with work, and I get busy, and we get to leading almost separate lives. Like almost any married couple, I guess.

Alex

(He sits down at the kitchen table.) That’s Lil and I. And…it’s far worse than that, now. As you know, with the ghost of Dylan literally haunting us now.

Anne

Oh, God. Alex, I know. That’s so horrible. (Her face is an image of ultimate sympathy.) Gabe and I, once. When I was at the modeling agency, we…

Alex

What is it? Anne? You can confide in me, you know that. (He takes her hand.)

Anne

I know. You’re like Switzerland, or the Rock of Gibraltar. Well, anyway…I got pregnant then, but…we didn’t want it, or just couldn’t, or wouldn’t. I don’t know. It wasn’t the right time for it. And I…got rid of it. (Looks at him with immeasurable sadness, and takes a big drink of her wine.) I just can’t imagine having my child die, let alone…Oh, God. Lilith. You both must be in such turmoil. Anything I can do, just call on me, okay?

Alex

You’re sweet, Anne. Thank you, so much. I hate to say it, but it’s…pretty bad. We hear him almost every night now. Lil is such a mess. She paints or writes through the night. Sometimes I wake up and she is still in her studio, or passed out on the couch, or…I think she’s just…lost it. (He looks into Anne’s close eyes with undisguised frankness and vulnerability. She stares back with understanding and empathy.) You know, Anne…

Anne

What?

Alex

I was so damned jealous of Gabe when he met you. All through college. There were so many times I wished you were mine. But I always thought, “I won’t betray my best friend”. I mean, he and I have gone through so much together. He’s my soul mate, in a way. I mean, even more than Lil and I in some ways. You know…

Anne

I know. It’s alright. I’ve been just as jealous of Lil.

Alex

Really? That’s so surprising.

Anne

Why?

Alex

Well, because you and Gabe are just so much the super-couple to me. Adonis and Aphrodite.

Anne

Thank you, but believe me, we have our all-too-human failings. Would you like a refill on that wine, good sir?

Alex

You read my mind. (She smiles and gets them both refills.)

Anne

Here you are. Please continue.

Alex

Thanks so much, Anne. Yeah, I’ve always thought of you two as the perfect couple. Untouchable. Such a paragon of how to live life. I never wanted to mess with that. So, eventually I gave up my jealousy and feelings for you, and vanquished them with my blessing at your wedding, and…that was that. Have a lovely life.

Anne

(She begins to cry, gently wiping tears from her cheeks. Alex reaches over and wipes one away, looks at it on his hand, then tastes it.) I don’t feel lovely. I feel like a monster.

Alex

What? Nonsense. I never tasted the tears of a goddess before. Definitely not monstrous. More like ambrosia.

Anne

Oh, stop it. I’m not a goddess. I’m just a broken fool, pretending, whose dreams are dead, and whose ghost just keeps walking through the world.

Alex

Now, stop it right now, Anne. You work at one of the most prestigious advertising agencies in Manhattan – in the world, might I say; you are the most devastatingly beautiful woman I’ve ever lain eyes upon; you are married to my best friend and a fantastic guy…I mean, right there, you’ve got just a few things worth jumping out of bed for every single morning…(Anne touches Alex’s face, then zeroes in and puts her fulsome lips to his. They share an awkward first kiss, but then kiss more passionately, before Anne pulls away.)

Anne

You know I love you, Alex. (Her eyes are fresh with tears and like those of a debutante flush in the throes of first love.)

Alex

(Rising) Oh, man. Uh…Oh, God. (He looks at her intensely.) If you only knew how I have dreamed of you, only to wake and kiss another woman. Who I thrust my parlayed feelings for you upon. Oh God, I’ve been living a big lie, Anne. And now, she’s finally sensed it, and is cheating with some guy from the school. Yes, I love you, too, Anne. I’ve adored you for so long, it seems like some holy relic to think of it.

(Anne slowly comes to Alex, touches him lovingly, kisses him again slowly and passionately, touches his manhood as she lets her silk robe fall open. They make their way to the living room couch where they make furious, anxious love. Afterward, they hold each other in a timeless embrace, as the sun falls down and the world around them fades away.)

What time is it?

Anne

I don’t care.

Alex

When did you say Gabe will be home?

Anne

I don’t care. (She strokes his chest, then the contours of his face, kissing him gently.)

Alex

This is so…unbelievable.

Anne

Why?

Alex

I just never thought this would come about between us. I always thought we would just live out our lives with our significant others, see each other at dinner parties, and whatever…fade into old age. And here I am, lying entwined with my secret goddess, my best friend’s wife, and suddenly my heart is alive, as if the Universe had suddenly awakened and was dancing.

Anne

Wow. And Gabe likes to think he’s the poet.

Alex

I feel joy again, after, well…never. Thank you, Anne. I do love you. I love you. Saying it is like a baptism. A great golden one of real fire, like a special comet flying in to take me home, away from this madness.

Anne

I’m so happy. I love you, too, Alex.

Alex

So, what do we do now?

Anne

You mean about our current situations?

Alex

Yes. I mean…Lil is in such a fragile state. She’s shattered already…

Anne

Yes, but you said she was having an affair. What should you care now that you have real love? (She turns his face to look at hers, and he gazes into her loving eyes, absorbing the fullness and truth of it, finally satisfied that it was indeed, real.)

Alex

Right. I know. I guess part of me feels responsible for her breakdown, but –

Anne

But, really, ultimately you’re not. We’re all self-responsible in this life, Alex. You’ve loved her as well as any man, through all of her shit. Taken care of her, given her a very nice life, where she might have just been a struggling artist. You can’t really feel responsible for her darkness.

Alex

Good point. So, what about Gabe? God, I hate thinking about him finding about us.

Anne

It feels so inevitable. Unavoidable. It’s written in our stars. Our charade has been going on for long enough. Plus, I’m about 90% sure he’s cheating on me.

Alex

Yet, you guys just went to the Cook Islands last month to renew your vows.

Anne

The things people will do to lie to themselves, or reinforce comfortable lies for those in their social circles.

Alex

Wow. I just…can’t believe this is happening.

O.C. – Hello? Anne? (They hear the front door shut. The living room light flicks on.)

Gabe

Oh, that’s why Alex’s car is in the driveway. Hi, Alex.

Alex

Jesus Christ. See, this is exactly what I wanted to avoid. (He goes to get up, and Anne stops him.)

Anne

Oh, relax, Alex. Hi, hon. Did you have a nice day – and night – at work?

Gabe

It was pretty spectacular, yes. I’ve been helping out some of our new staff members – stringers, fresh new faces – and getting my Donna Karan article finished. Alex, my man…why am I not surprised? You’ve been wanting to fuck Anne since our college days.

Alex

Gabe, you’re my best friend. I didn’t intend for this to happen. I came over here today to discuss something with you, and Anne was here, and, well…

Gabe

One thing led to another, did it?

Alex

So to speak, yes. (Alex sits up and begins putting his clothes on.)

Gabe

Well, good! (He makes his way to the kitchen and pours himself a glass of the same Chardonnay.) I’d always secretly feared she would do this. We’ve been faking it for years. I’m just relieved that it’s with you. Nobody else on earth I’d rather have it be, really. (He sits down across the coffee table from them in a plush leather chair.) I’m really surprised it’s been so long in happening.

Anne

Don’t act so sanctimonious. You’ve been having your little affairs here and there over the years, I know it.

Gabe

Who’s being sanctimonious? Not I. No, I’m being as truthful and forthright as possible when I say I’m actually glad to see you two together. I always saw you two as more of the ideal coupling than us, anyway. (He grabs a remote control and turns on some music.) So, now that it’s finally come to pass, it’s actually a relief.

Anne

Your blasé attitude just gives you away. (Anne sits up.) No big deal. I’ve had my affairs, you can have yours. But I’ve got news for you, Gabe, this is real love. Written in the stars. Not just some throwaway fuck!

Gabe

(Looks intently at them both.) I don’t doubt it. Congratulations! Really. Now, I have some work to do, so if you’ll pardon me…

Anne

You fucking smug asshole! You’re like some…emotionless robot. Don’t care that your marriage is ending?

Gabe

What’s wrong, darling? Angry I’m not boiling with rage, getting worked up and making a stink? Killing my best friend? I wouldn’t think of it. Especially when he’s got enough hellacious crap to deal with at home. No, why get worked up? We’re all one big happy family here. Besides, you don’t clean the house anymore, so in addition to all my extra work at the magazine with deadlines and managing newbies, I have to come home and do dishes, pick up clothes, et cetera. So, if you’ll both excuse me.

Anne

Hey, asshole. I work too, you know.

Alex

I should go. (He grabs for his coat.)

Anne and Gabe

No, stay!

Alex

Well, I’m going to call Lil and let her know I’ll be late, then. (He calls Lil, and it goes straight to voicemail. He tries the house phone and it rings and rings.) Goddammit, she’s not answering either phone.

Gabe

She’s probably just painting, or something. What d’ya say you stay, Alex, and we have that talk that you wanted to have earlier today, while I clean up and fix us some dinner?

Alex

Sounds good. Anne, is that okay with you?

Anne

(She is wrapped up tightly in her robe, sipping more wine, and sitting at the kitchen table.) Fine.

Gabe

So, good buddy, what’s going on? What did you want to talk about?

Alex

Well, Gabe…it’s about Lil. And Oz. But…it’s not really important now, in light of what’s just happened here.

Gabe

Sure, it’s important.

Alex

No. But in a nutshell, the darkness goes far deeper than just her madness and losing Dylan. I found out some stuff today that we can talk about, but now’s not the time.

Gabe

Really? Okay, well, you know I’m here for you when you want to discuss it, right?

Alex

Right! (He looks nervously and embarrassed at Anne, who smiles a weak smile back at him.)

Gabe

Well, here we are – just like the old days. It’s about time we three got together. God, has it really been over twenty years since we palled around Princeton like the Three Musketeers?

Alex

It’s amazing how time just flies away.

Anne

But love doesn’t. Heart and experience don’t.

Gabe

Well, love comes in many forms. It flies away, it morphs, it goes on hiatus…

Anne

True love doesn’t fly away. It’s as loyal as the sun.

Gabe

And how true – and loyal – is your love, sweetie pie?

Anne

I was true and loyal to you until you started fucking around.

Gabe

Then true love is weak.

Anne

(To Alex.) Notice how he didn’t say, “But, I never fucked around on you, dear.”

Gabe

Anyway, we’re glad you’re here, Alex.

Alex

So am I, Gabe.

Anne

I really hate you when you ignore and discount me, you jerk.

Gabe

Ah, love. You know, I’ve been taking advantage of some of this extra work time and have been working on my screenplay, Alex.

Alex

Yeah, that’s excellent.

Gabe

Yep, finishing it up. I’ve got a contact in Hollywood through our publisher who’s looking for fresh new scripts, and has said to polish it up and bring it on out.

Alex

To Hollywood?

Gabe

Yes. So, that’s exactly what I’m doing. She’s a particularly hot agent for a big studio. (Looks at Anne.)

Anne

So, you’re going out there to see her.

Gabe

When I get it finished up. You’re invited – both of you, of course.

Anne

(Anne goes to his briefcase and digs through, finding the script.) Is this it? I’ll be damned if you just fly off to a new life in Hollywood, if I can help it. (She tears up several of the pages, while Gabe laughs.)

Gabe

Good thing I emailed myself the file, and have it stored in cloud backup and everything. But, tear it up, babe, if it makes you feel better. Get busy doing something.

Anne

I hate you!!! (She screams and runs at Gabe, hitting him in the torso, arms, and head. She is in an uncontrolled fury. Alex helps get control of her, which takes a few minutes. Gabe and Alex get her to the couch, and Gabe gives her two Valium, dissolved in a glass of water, and watch as she drinks it down. In five minutes, she is out.)

Gabe

Good. Now we can really talk. Fuck, that hurt. She’s lost her fucking mind.

Alex

Apparently. Jesus, are they all nuts?

Gabe

Yep. Love is dangerous, my friend. Or should I say women are.

Alex

Yeah, so…

Gabe

I’m really taking myself to a new level, bro, with this –

Alex

Are you cheating on her, Gabe?

Gabe

Oh, come on, not you too? Most of it is harmless flirting. I work with all kinds of fresh-faced debutantes and idealistic young things who want that tutelage only an older man can give them. It’s fucking inevitable. You’d have to be made of steel not to get corrupted in some fashion. Jesus Christ, I mean, I had this girl one time walk right into my office, unzip my fly, pull it out and –

Alex

Thanks, I get the picture. What bugs me is you’re with an absolute goddess, and you still fuck other women.

Gabe

Do you hear yourself when you talk? I know you do.

Alex

Yeah, I do. So?

Gabe

So, beauty fades. Beauty is skin deep. Beauty is all too often anything but.

Alex

Yes, but Anne isn’t just some skin-deep superficial beauty queen. She’s got all of it – brains, beauty, heart…

Gabe

It’s a gorgeously conflicted mélange of contradictions and neuroses, to be sure. Try being married to her for sixteen years, then try to “set me straight” or whatever. Just like I can’t say, “Gee, Lil is beautiful, you must be so happy and have no problems.” Quite the opposite, as it turns out, right? They’re both beauties, but…more beauty, more problems. And more problems even if they’re plain Jane-looking. Every married, or live-in intimate situation is going to have its problems, it’s just unavoidable. Being morally upright is just self-sabotage in the meantime. Self-deceit is the worst kind of deceit.

Alex

Okay, I hear you. So, the choice is silently suffer, or explore your passions and contradictions, corruptions, and at least experience them, right?

Gabe

Yeah, something like that. Yeah, I have had various flings from time to time. Jesus, I’m a man. Wait, scratch that. Both sexes cheat, and hide it behind a fearful, Puritanical veneer of sanctimony. Where have all of our moral codices gotten us? The great silent, brainwashed, compliant majority. Marriage is the great opiate and regulatory body of the masses, invented by the church after they co-opted Christianity, edited the “word of God,” and saw the potential as a massive self-policing societal system of checks and balances.

Alex

So, why did you get married, then?

Gabe

Why do any of us tie the knot – Romantics, believers, Christians, Pagans, denizens of the modern world, whoever we are?

Alex

To conform to an imposed idea, a construct invented by the overlords who invent history and reality, and continuously distort that history and reality, to keep us their slaves?

Gabe

Exactly! Of course you know all this, Mr. Conspiracy Scholar. Want some brandy?

Alex

Yes, thank you. (Gabe pours them both some Remy Martin) So, go along with what mom and dad, the church, and society expect of you, so as not to be an outcaste, or pariah, right?

Gabe

It’s this massive dysfunction – groupthink – that pervades so much of modern society, that most can’t even see the other side. It’s just a blind sliding from school to marriage to kids to retirement and death, accepted like the sun rising and setting. Most don’t even endeavor to question why things happen the way they do, reality itself, authority, their own natures, or motives, origins, possibilities, et cetera. The very few of us that do have many more choices opened up to us. In fact, it’s the very people that have pulled back the curtain on all this shit long ago and who figured it out that now control us with their burning hypocrisies: the ones that sin and are most corrupted hand us down our moral codices, laws, conformist agendas, TVs that tell us how to live, brands of toothpaste, even presidents, celebrities, popes, cultural icons, and on and on. These ones are doing the most evil and preaching down to us to “behave, or else”.

Alex

I know, man. But all that still doesn’t explain why you got married, if you know all this.

Gabe

Because I found out too late, man. Can’t you see that?

Alex

Me too. (He laughs a maudlin laugh and sips his brandy.)

Gabe

I mean, she’s to die for, and I nearly have, in some of our blowouts. She fights like a drunken prizefighter. But to marry is so supremely selfish, if you examine it. “I take thee, you take me…” I own you. All we have or need is each other, in our little plush and comfortable bubble. No need to look or care about what’s happening “out there”.

Alex

All we need is our terrycloth towels, cutlery, dishes, TV shows, computers, economy cars, drapery, bedding, et cetera.

Gabe

Exactly. Everything except the most important things in life, which all that junk drowns out. It’s really fuckin’ sad that so many people consent to live that way. It’s because they’re not taught, or shown any better lifestyle options. We’re told from a very early age that “this is the way things are” and to deviate from that is to live an aberration, “alternative” lifestyle, or just to be seen as a complete failure in the eyes of family members who are tied to the flotilla of junk drowning them and their personal freedom and expansion.

Alex

Ha. No shit, man. Jesus, why do we live the way we do? And it’s not like it’s some solution to the problems of the world, or something. If it were, my God, there would be no wars, we would have a good educational system, our food wouldn’t be poison, our political leaders not criminals, etc. Living like that practically ensures those things. The more marriages, the worse the world gets! It’s a control mechanism on unity consciousness and true solidarity and progress, is what it is.

Gabe

But marriage is just one strain of the great dysfunction; one flaw – though a big one – on the gem that is life. There are other a priori weaknesses that pervade and predict disaster and personal tragedy.

Alex

Such as?

Gabe

Oh, come on. You know this, Alex. As an architect, surely you know, as a designer and builder of great structures, how and where systemic flaws get ingrained or introduced. Part of your job is to weed those out.

Alex

I know, I just wanted to hear your take on it. Well… heredity, how we learn, what we learn…but again, we’re trusting children when they suck us in, and by the time we figure out any better, we’re already tossed callously out into the steel trap-jawed world of smoke and mirrors and bullshit, that has no mercy, is unforgiving, corrupts absolutely…basically does everything opposite to what the good book and church tells us how we are, or how people should be, so we end up completely confused. Just try to go out into this world and be forgiving, trusting, uncorrupted, merciful – and get ahead and be successful in any kind of substantial way. The Vatican, the crowned heads of state, politicians, power-hungry corporate leaders – how did they get their positions? Not by abiding by what family tradition or what the church thinks, or what schools teach. It’s a massive satanic hegemony that holds sway over this world – and which is actually also controlling church and school indoctrinations at the same time! It’s abominable.

Gabe

You know it, brother. So let’s not try to fool ourselves with any of this pedestrian morality that comfortably hides everything of real substance under the stairs or in the attic, and which entertains all of our hypocritical programming, so that…another episode of Hopeless Housewives can be watched; another bottle of cheap wine can wash down deadly, addictive, legal drugs; so another loving couple who swore before friends, family, and clergy that they would love and take and hold one another for the rest of their short lives could spend another precious evening at each other’s throats? Give me a fucking break! This culture is sick beyond repair, unless a race of spiritual shamans has come to rescue us from this monumental apparatus we finance, and completely renew us in earnest, bathe us in the truth as never before, and turn us around on the spirit level. Bodies, minds, and souls permanently and irrevocably set back on the true cosmic path. But, I’m not holding my breath. I live the best truth I can, and try to be the best man I can – that’s all I can do.

Alex

The Golden Rule. Unfortunately, you default to a kind of operational or pragmatic cynicism, or removal of the rose-colored glasses, replaced by the agreed-upon looking glass. You have to realize all this esoteric stuff, but also be able to operate, and live your life and function in such a colossally messed up world.

Gabe

True dat. (He pours Alex some more brandy.)You can’t live by the illusions they create, nor can you live by the illusions of idealism that are forever calling forth upon or trusting in a Utopia that’s just MIA. We can’t afford to believe in their kind of truth, but we also can’t afford to forever fool ourselves. There’s a happy middle – or negotiable middle – for the creative, pragmatic individual who can cultivate self-knowledge, self-responsibility, et cetera, but who’s also objectively aware of the dark side and their programming, and who can unlearn it as they blossom in life.

Alex

Otherwise, the wisest just become poison-leafed – proud, but deadly – by allowing themselves to be inculcated by these…thugs in power.

Gabe

Lawyers are a good example.

Alex

Allopathic doctors. Banksters. Politicos. The “death and taxes” brigade and their poison swill that keeps us retarded as a species. See, I feel death and taxes are both unnecessary. I don’t believe in either. But the necessity of believing in them – their “war all the time” mentality – is key to their worldwide scam’s success.

Gabe

Cheers, brother. (Gabe clinks glasses with Alex.) Power to the people.

Alex

Amen. (He takes a drink.) So, what are you going to do?

Gabe

You mean about Anne?

Alex

Yeah.

Gabe

Well, if you two are indeed in love, then it’s kind of perfect. I can divorce her, move to Hollywood, write movies, and spend the rest of my life in the sun, reaping the rewards of my creativity. Or, whatever. Maybe we can all live as a happy quartet.

Alex

Sounds like a master plan, there, but isn’t that kind of, well, selfish?

Gabe

Selfish? I don’t think so. I mean, I’ll pay her whatever’s fair in a settlement, if indeed we do take that step, but I don’t feel like I owe her anything beyond that. I mean, do we really owe those who love us anything else besides fulfilling our best and wildest dreams, and living the best life possible?

Alex

Touche. Well…yeah, I do love her, man.

Gabe

Do you still love Lil?

Alex

I don’t know. It’s all extremely confusing. Not like I love – and have always loved Anne, as I just figured out today. But I still have a great amount of caring, and regard for her and her copious talent.

Gabe

Well, you have my blessing. It’s just, be careful. I mean, you’ve already gotten a glimpse of her special brand of madness here tonight. She’s sweet, she’s kind, she’s giving and loving – to a point – then she pulls back and dives into her self-loathing, fearful, childish, petty routine. She’s caught in that matrix of what I call “poor thinking”. Just what we were talking about, really. She has incredibly low self-esteem for such a beautiful woman who appears to have it all. That’s why she failed at being a supermodel, and fell back into the job as a project coordinator at the agency. I mean, whatever, I’m judging her a bit too harshly, I guess. She’s done the best she could do in this murder of a world.

Alex

And how far can you go as a supermodel, really. Perhaps she just saw the shallow futility of it, realized she had other skills, and went another route, to save herself the pain.

Gabe

Yeah, I mean, like I say, I’m probably being harsh here, or                unfair. Sometimes I look at life through her eyes and ask “what did she see in me that’s so special?” Maybe I’ve let her down with my cynicism. Maybe she needs more of a romantic idealist. I’m more of a pragmatic classicist, but besides that, I think I’ve brought my own failures and false beliefs and deceptions to the table here, so…it takes two to samba, for sure.

Alex

Well, hey man, I really appreciate your understanding, and point of view, and…your brandy. (They laugh.) I’m going to go home and see what’s in the dragon’s jaws tonight.

Gabe

Okay, and we’ll be okay. I have a plan. And she’ll be okay, either way. But, I do want to draw her out a bit and make sure she really loves you before I watch my best friend go through hell.

Alex

Thanks, man. But I already am. I’ll call you later.

(Alex leaves, and as the door shuts, Gabe slugs down the rest of his brandy, and says, “Life in the dragon’s jaws,” and walks toward his sleeping wife as we fade to black.)

INT – Day – Lilith’s Study

(Over her shoulder, we see her writing out the following poem:

To Dream of Cities on the Moon

Sickly, cyclic –

Identified reptoid, prong-tongued thing,

I send you fire.

I laugh you away with one scrying thought,

Then immerse myself in the black purse of

Night, where bandied treasures are hid

And the coaxed crawl back in again;

I enter your swarm of dark,

Then rise and dream of cities on the moon –

You’ve walked them, too. Here at the end

Of time, when pools of light die

In their inured entrances.

It is here where truth hides under glass,

Just like the planet that will make its

Next pass, above, blue thing drowning.

And below that we see written:

I saw you today. I was going to see if I could catch you at the park, where you said you were going to take the dogs for a walk. I wanted to see if we could recapture some of the carefree magic of days of yore. I finished early at Daphne’s shower, and really, really wanted to find you still there, but saw you pulling away, so I turned the car around and followed you to Anne and Gabe’s, where I watched you from down the way as Anne answered the door. Curious, I walked up after a while and peered through the window and saw you two making love on the couch. I know it’s stupid since I have already cheated on you, but I was extremely jealous, and realized that this can no longer work, so I grabbed my things and have moved in with Peter. I don’t know for how long, but I just feel freer and more open with him anyway, and can no longer handle our situation. Good luck with Anne and life. Please don’t try to contact me.

Goodbye,

Lilith

And then we see Alex’s hands grasping the note and its contents. As he grabs a glass of iced tea, he sifts through a pile of mail on the counter. One of the envelopes contains an invitation to dinner from Oz and Lucy Bryant. Alex attempts to call Lilith, in order to see if she will go to the dinner with him, but soon realizes the futility of this.)

EXT – Night – Oz and Lucy Bryant’s Home

We see Alex’s car pull up in front of a massive estate. He gets out and knocks on the door, and is met by the Bryants’ butler, who ushers him inside. The mansion is absolutely palatial.

INT – Night – A drawing or parlor room.

Oz

Good evening, Alex. I’m glad you could make it. It’s a shame that Lilith couldn’t come.

Alex

Yes, it is. She has moved out, as I said, so…

Oz

Tough times.

Alex

That’s an understatement.

Oz

Well, I have some very eye-opening and enlightening news for you and Lilith tonight, which I will be revealing after dinner. Won’t you please step into the banquet room?

Alex

Certainly. Is this going to be more stuff about my wife and secret societies, that kind of thing? (Oz doesn’t answer him.)

They sit at a huge dinner table, with Oz at one end and Alex at the other. A servant comes in and takes their drink orders, and the men resume talking.

Alex

Where’s Lucy?

Oz

She’ll be joining us soon. Man talk first. (Oz takes out a huge cigar and lights it, puffing smoke and watching it curl upward.)

Alex

Ah, yes, of course.

Oz

Well, I wanted to save the bulk of my…revelation until after dinner, but I did want to broach the subject a bit right now, if that’s alright with you.

Alex

I’m all ears, Oz. Burning with curiosity, actually.

Oz

Naturally. Well, I will say that what I am going to tell you is going to change yours and Lilith’s lives forever. For the better. You see…I’m dying, Alex. The old cancer bug bit me. Doctor says I have a good three months left, and, well, it can start a man doing some thinking. Reassessing. You see, I have lived an unrepentantly successful life which has brought me many material pacifications, but little in the way of spiritual satisfaction.

Alex

Mmm hmmm.

Oz

Facing death can turn everything upside-down. So, after a lot of thinking and soul-searching, I have decided to unburden myself.

Lucy

Ah, there he is. Hello, Alex, you look handsome as ever! (She kisses Alex on the cheek and he returns the gesture.)

Alex

So are you, Lucy. Thank you for having me over. House looks positively lovely. Lilith couldn’t make it.

Lucy

I know, dear. Always flattering, aren’t we? But, thank you, dear. Dinner will be served in a few minutes. (She exits.)

Alex

Let’s cut right to it, Oz. I didn’t much care for our last exchange, and –

Oz

Yes, that. Well, I have had a change of heart, as I said.

Alex

Well, I am all ears. Honestly, I wrestled with the idea of coming here at all, but the invitation seemed irresistible.

Oz

Irresistible, yes. Chateaubriand first, then some…friendly conversation.

Alex

Chateaubriand, is it?

Oz

I know you’re a man who enjoys the finer things in life, Alex. Your wife ever make you this?

Alex

I don’t believe so.

Oz

How long have I known you? Fifteen years? Why, I think you met Lilith the same year that you came to the firm –

Alex

Actually, we met at the zoo many years before that, but yes, as far as our adult rapport has gone, we rediscovered each other that year.

Oz

And not by mere coincidence, as you will learn.

Alex

Why does that statement disturb me so?

Oz

You will discover a great many things tonight that will answer that in a quite…satisfactory way. Ah, Lucy. Has Hector prepared our dinner service?

Lucy

Yes, dear. He’ll be right out. (She sits and drinks her wine.)

Alex

What do you mean by ‘not mere coincidence,’ Oz? Are you simply referring to it being fate?

Oz

Fate, and…something more.(Servants bring out dinner service.) Please, eat. Bon appetit.

Alex

(He hesitantly cuts into and tastes the medium rare cut) Mmmm. Tasty. But something impedes my digestion, Oz.

Oz

Eat, drink, enjoy yourself. I certainly am. I have looked into the eyes of death, and now everything tastes so exquisite. I hope you can learn this before you have to face the final curtain, Alex.

Alex

I’m not really hungry anymore, but thank you, Oz. Let’s get on to the ‘something more,’ part, shall we?

Oz

That’s the finest cut of steak there is, my boy. You don’t want it to go to the hounds, do you?

Alex

I don’t really care. Just tell me what’s been burdening you, Oz. I don’t want to play this game of intellectual cat and mouse.

Oz

Very well, then. No more games. Alex, remember how we spoke a while back about the fact that I am a member of the Freeman Society, as was Lilith’s father?

Alex

Sure.

Oz

And how there were some dark things that went back to her childhood?

Alex

Yes, I recall. Please get to the point, Oz.

Oz

Alex, your wife was selected as a mind control subject at around the age of five by our private think tank, initially for espionage training purposes. She had a brain implant put in at age seven. She was selected for a number of reasons, such as her already demonstrable parapsychological abilities, high IQ, and optimum genetics.

Alex

(Laughs.) Preposterous.

Oz

I assure you with all the veracity possible that it’s all true. I also assure you that this is the reason she has been bi-polar depressive, melancholy, and emotionally unstable all of her life. (He stands and walks towards a fireplace.) This is likely the reason for your marital difficulties, her suicide attempts, insomnia, et cetera. But, because of her encoding by our advanced weapons technology, she has also had glimpses into higher, and more occult, esoteric realms. Other worlds.

Alex

The cities on the moon she’s been obsessed with.

Oz

That, and the enhanced psychic, telekinetic, clairvoyant, and artistic powers all came from our encoding signals. We were interested in creating a superbeing, or superspy, if you will. But, one who was subservient to our needs in the area of espionage and occult activities. Remote viewing, ESP, that kind of thing.

Alex

And here all along I thought you were just some avuncular mentor with a Frank Lloyd Wright fixation. You put on a pretty good front, Oz, if indeed any of this is true. I mean, it would explain a lot.

Oz

I think you will find that it all rings true, Alex. It will explain everything.

Alex

Yes, but at the same time it’s quite unbelievable.

Oz

There’s more. Remember the day you met her at the zoo?

Alex

Like it was yesterday.

Oz

Well, that wasn’t just coincidence, as I previously alluded to. We specifically put her there, to be in that place and time…to meet you and establish the initial connection, interaction through a common interest. In this case lions and wolves – she the wolf, you the lion. The hunter, and the brave king of all beasts. We wanted the symbolism encoded in your psyche.

Alex

(Astonished.) What? For what reason? What the hell is this?!

Oz

You see, Alex, you too were selected by Project Moonchild, as we called it, only you didn’t get an implant. For your intelligence and superior genetics, mostly. It was also a matter of convenience and proximity. You lived two miles from her, so finding two subjects so close together who we could manipulate, monitor, study, and influence was of paramount importance.

Alex

But why? It sounds like some twisted, covert eugenics program, or Tom Clancy novel. You sick bastards. Illuminati, right? Jesus.

Oz

Sick, yes. And dying, now, from being outmoded. But, yes, eugenics was part of it, but that wasn’t our main goal. We needed subjects of high genetic profile to create…

Alex

What? Needless havoc and misery in innocent people’s lives? (He is apoplectic with rage now, shouting.)

Oz

A superbeing offspring.

Alex

(He turns pale white with horror.) Dylan.

Oz

Yes.

Alex

And you killed him when you couldn’t control him, right?

Oz

The world is an unfortunate place at times. But yes, your intuition serves you well, Alex.

Alex

You sick fucking piece of shit, I’m going to rip out your heart and feed it to you! (He storms at Oz in an instant, knocking him to the ground and beating him mercilessly.)

Lucy

(Screaming) No, Alex! Please! Please, Alex, let him explain it all. He’s dying already, Alex!

Alex

And you! (To Lucy) Complicit handmaiden to this evil, for decades! You’re just as guilty! (He gets up off of Oz.) You sick bastards are going to hell, and I will see to it.

(Alex continues beating Oz in a fury.)

Did you get your jollies off on controlling us? Our son?! Killing a helpless child? You motherfucker, I don’t care if you are dying of cancer…I’ll put you out of your misery!

Oz

Wait, wait, wait!

Lucy

Alex, please!

Alex

What? Gonna tell me you killed my dog, too? My mother?

Oz

(Bloodied and breathless) There’s more I…want to say…

Alex

Yeah, like a twisted Scheherazade, trying to save your skin and prolong the inevitable…except there’s no music or poetry in your hollow shell…buddy!

Oz

There’s a bank account you can access…in the envelope…Lucy…will you get it? And there’s more I want to tell about your wife and son.

Alex

Spit it out, you ghoul.

Oz

They’re together on a supernatural, spiritual level. Killing him only made their psychic and spiritual bond stronger. The cities on the moon are real. Our dreams are influenced by them. Resurrection is real. It’s all there in my confession. Lilith will benefit from the powerful encoding we gave her. Once the implant is gone, she will flourish. Our experiments uncovered many…incredible things over the decades. Humans are far more than just flesh and bone and soul. We are…

Alex

What?

Oz

…the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Alex

Yeah, I know. Thanks for dinner, you murdering scumbag. (He goes to leave.)

Lucy

Here’s Oz’s confession, Alex.

Alex

Trying to bribe my silence, Oswald? Won’t work!

Oz

No, it’s my full confession. (A spot of scaly green skin is showing on his neck and hand.)

Lucy

Here, Alex. It’s all in here. And, you’re right. I was complicit. Looked the other way while these unspeakable evils were happening. Can you forgive me? (She appears sincerely contrite.)

Alex

I don’t know. I find all of this monumentally unforgivable. (He takes the envelope, which contains a large sheaf of typed pages.) Enjoy going back to the fires of hell, demons. (He walks out, as Lucy attends to her fallen husband.)

Oz

There is a way to undo the programming, Alex. It’s in there!

(Alex leaves without responding.)

INT – Day – Saddle River Special Needs School, Office

Alex

Hi, I need to locate someone who works here. It’s very urgent, please.

RECEPTIONIST

Yes, and what is the name?

Alex

Peter…damn, I don’t even know his last name.

Receptionist

I’m sorry sir, we can’t give out that information, unless you are family, or it is work-related.

Alex

This is a life or death situation, ma’am, if you’ll just –

Receptionist

Again, sir, there is nothing I can do to help you. Good day.

Alex

Lady, if I don’t find my wife, who works here also, and who is with this Peter fellow, she will die.

Receptionist

Do I need to call security?

Alex

Goddammit! (Alex storms out clutching Oz’s confession, and the  receptionist watching him suspiciously.)

EXT – Day – The parking lot of the Special Needs School

(Alex sits in his car, surveilling the parking lot. He sees Peter and Lilith come out. He jumps out and approaches them.)

Alex

Lilith, I hold here in my hand all the reasons why you have been in such darkness your whole life! (Lilith and Peter stand astonished.) I had dinner with Oz, and he explained everything. The Freeman Society. Your father found out they had implanted you. Mind control! Oz is dying. He confessed the other night to everything.

Peter

Wait just a minute. Alex, you’re a bit worked up. Lilith isn’t feeling well…

Alex

Of course she isn’t feeling well, you twit! I should know, I’ve been married to her for fourteen years! She hasn’t really felt well that entire time! But I have the answer to why you are bi-polar depressive, suicidal, all of it! We can remove the implant and undo your programming, get away from here. Start over somewhere. I quit the firm. We can sell the house and start fresh, anywhere!

Lilith

Alex, I don’t know what this is you’re trying to pull in order to win me back, but – I saw you with Anne. I’m with Peter now, it’s no use. It’s over.

Peter

Come on, let’s go. (Peter and Lilith continue toward Peter’s car, but Alex stands in their way.) Alex, I don’t want any trouble here…

Alex

I need to talk to my wife, if you don’t mind. This is life or death, I have the means to take away her illness and restore her health!

Peter

Oh? That’s nice.

Alex

Please, Pete. This is between Lilith and I.

Peter

Time to go, Alex. (Peter attempts to forcibly move Alex, but Alex is bigger and stays put. Peter laughs, shrugs, takes Lilith’s hand and pulls her toward his car. Alex grabs the other hand, and they are, in effect, pulling her apart.)

Lilith

Stop it! Stop it! Let me go, both of you, Jesus Christ!

(She screams this and breaks free, running away, as Peter runs after her. Alex watches them running off, and then walks slowly back to his car, waiting to follow them to Peter’s house.)

EXT – Day – Peter’s house

Peter and Lilith pull into Peter’s driveway and go inside. Half a minute later, Alex drives by, getting the address.

EXT – Day – The Post Office

We watch Alex drop a copy of this in the mailbox, addressed to Lilith at Peter’s address.

INT – Night – Peter’s House

Peter

What’s that, hon?

Lilith

A package from Alex. Presumably what was in that envelope he was carrying the other day. Oz’s confession, or whatever.

Peter

You don’t really believe that X-Files stuff, do you?

Lilith

I don’t know, Peter.

(She pulls out the manuscript and reads, utterly floored and white with disbelief at its contents. Through time-lapse cuts, we learn she has read through the entirety of it.)

This life is beyond strange. It’s diabolical.

Peter

He could have typed this out himself. Maybe that’s what he was doing all those nights.

Lilith

Yes, but why? I give up. This is too hard. I’m so very tired. Of everything.

Peter

Hang in there, honey.

Lilith

I really don’t want to live this life anymore. Will you help me? (She looks imploringly into Peter’s eyes. Both sets of eyes are fraught with conflict and longing.) No? Then, I’ll do the job finally and irrevocably this time myself!

(She runs up the stairs and locks herself in the bathroom. Peter runs after her.)

Peter

Lilith! Don’t do it! Lilith!

INT – Day – Lilith’s Hospital Room

(Alex enters, to find Lilith’s mother RUTH and sister DAPHNE sitting bedside.)

Alex

Hello Ruth, Daphne. Any changes in her condition?

RUTH

No.

Alex

Why does she want to destroy herself so badly?

Ruth

Your absence in this marriage drove her to do this.

DAPHNE

Mom…

Alex

Are you quite sure of that? I know some things that will put that theory to rest.

Ruth

Alex, please don’t add your presumptive arrogance to this latest foible.

Alex

Always looking to blame someone else, right, Ruth? Lilith has been mentally ill for some time, and in fact has tried this on two other occasions. Once even before she met me. But for all of my love and ministrations, providence, caring, hoping, steadfastness…

Daphne

There’s no doubt that you love her, Alex. But sometimes love is not enough.

Alex

Nothing is enough, in this case! I have done everything I can. No, wait, there’s actually more I can do. (He produces the manila envelope with Oz’s confession.) According to this document, Lil has been under secret mind control. She has a brain implant. I know this, because I just had dinner the other night with the man responsible for it.

Ruth

That doesn’t surprise me.

Alex

My boss, Oz Bryant. Former friend and colleague of your husband, Jack Connelly, who died ‘mysteriously’. Would you like to know how Jack died, Ruth? They killed him, because he found out his brothers in the Freemen Society, led by Oz Bryant, were mind-controlling and manipulating his daughter. He found out, and was trying to expose them. He tried to save his daughter, and was killed for it. It’s all right here.

Ruth

This is all nonsense. Let me see that. (She takes the manuscript and flips through a few pages.) Ha. You could have written this yourself.

Alex

And why on earth would I do a thing like that?

Ruth

Because you’re in on this. Because you have an overly active imagination. You said yourself you just had dinner with one of them. Jack died of a diabetic seizure.

Alex

And if I was really part of this secret society, why would I come forward with this, then, Ruth?

Daphne

It sounds plausible to me, mom. It sure does explain a lot. I mean…Lilith is the one with the active imagination. Suicides, talk of cities on the moon, wolf paintings, melancholy, madness –

Ruth

Alright! Enough! My baby is in a coma. That’s all I know for sure. Alex, I think you need to leave now. Lilith and I have talked lately. She told me about your indiscretions. She was planning to divorce you and marry Peter. This is all just flummery, in my opinion. Smokescreen, so you can come in and sweep her up and be her savior. Well, it’s not going to happen. Please, Alex, just go. (Ruth collapses in her chair weeping.)

Daphne

Maybe it’s best, Alex. For now. (In an aside out of earshot of Ruth) I believe you. (She smiles at him.) I would like to read that.

Alex

If I let you borrow it…No.

Daphne

I promise you I will return it.

Alex

Specifically, there are instructions for how to destroy or neutralize the implant, and de-program her. I just hope it’s not too late.

Daphne

Me too. I will bring this back to you, Alex. But, you better go now. Mom isn’t well.

Alex

Okay. Thanks, Daphne, for your support. We can save her. (Alex takes a parting look at his wife, then exits.)

EXT – Day – Saddle Riverside

Crews dredging the river fish a body out. It is the body of Peter Kulic. A suicide note is found on him that reads: I am so sorry. Lilith, I love you.

INT – Day – The Summerfield House

Alex reads the story of Peter Kulic’s suicide the day before, and feels mixed emotions. He immediately makes for Lilith’s hospital room.

INT – Day – Lilith’s Hospital Room

Lilith has been in a coma for 10 days now. Alex enters, and is alone with his wife, but for one nurse, coming in and out.

Alex

(Pulling a chair up close to her bedside) You know, I don’t see you as this suicidal person at all, Lil. I choose to see the barefoot lady in the sun dress, laughing at the summer picnic, or during our backyard barbeques. This isn’t you, Lil. Please…come back to me. To us. I know the world has been a pretty awful place for you so far, but…I promise you it will be better. (He lays his head down beside her hand, amidst the mechanical breathing of the life support apparatus.) I’m so tired, Lil.

(It is perhaps an hour or so later, when a Daphne and Ruth enter.)

Ruth

Hello, Alex. You here to save Lilith from her coma? Gonna raise her up, like Lazarus?

Daphne

Mother…

Alex

(Sleepily) Oh, hello Ruth. Daphne. Did you get a chance to read that?

Daphne

Yes, I did.

Ruth

Your science fiction fantasy? Ha. You may be able to fool yourself, Alex, but you’re not fooling us.

Daphne

Actually, mother, I did read it, and it’s quite compelling. I find that it rings pretty true, from all that I know of my big sister. It does explain a whole lot.

Ruth

So what?

Daphne

So, I think it merits at least consideration. If it’s our only shot…

Alex

That’s if she awakens.

Daphne

We can’t deprogram her in the coma?

Alex

No, the subject either has to be put under hypnosis, or under anesthetic under the right conditions. It can’t be done in the comatose state.

Daphne

Well, let’s pour on the prayers until then, and not fight, huh?

(All three turn their attention to Lilith, and for a timeless moment they focus loving energy upon her. A nurse comes in and changes her bedpan.)

Alex

Did you see the story about Peter? (The two women don’t respond right away.)

Ruth

Huh?

Alex

I said did you see the story about Peter’s suicide? You’re probably going to say I provoked that one, too, eh?

Ruth

Where there’s a will there’s a way.(Alex and Daphne exchange confused looks.) I love you, sweetheart. (She strokes her daughter’s forehead, and sobs quietly.) I wish I could wake you up, and make all the hurt and betrayal go away.

Alex

Me too, dear.

(As all of them watch, Lilith’s hand moves. Then, a low, meek groan escapes her.)

She stirs! Nurse! Nurse! (Alex runs out to find the nurse. A nurse comes back in, checking on Lilith.)

Lilith

(Almost whispering.) I will, honey. I will. Mommy will see you again. (Her eyes flutter, and she awakens.)

Alex

Hi, hon.

Ruth

My baby! (She hugs her.)

Daphne

Oh, Lilith, you’re back!

Nurse

Please, try not to excite her. She’s going to be in a very weak state.

Lilith

Mom? Daphne? Alex? Where’s Peter?

Ruth

Uh, he couldn’t be here right now, sweetheart.

Lilith

Oh. Well, I saw the light. You were right, Alex.

Alex

How so?

Lilith

When I was on the other side, Dylan took me by the hand and showed me the truth of things.

Ruth

You mean you went to heaven, honey?

Lilith

I don’t know if it was heaven, exactly. For me, yes, since I got to hold Dylan’s hand. He…told me the same things you were saying, Alex. I’m so sorry I disbelieved you, and have caused you so much grief. (She takes his hand.)

Alex

It’s okay, sweetheart.

Lilith

I can see very clearly now. The whole thing. I feel so much love. And that Dylan is okay now. The nightmare is over, at last. I want to live.

Alex

My God. That’s wonderful. (Looks at Ruth.) Isn’t that wonderful, mother?

Ruth

It’s wonderful that I have my baby girl back.

Lilith

He didn’t die of food poisoning like the coroner’s report said. He wouldn’t have.

Alex

That’s what I was trying to tell them the other day.

Lilith

My precious child was aware of them and what they were up to. He was going to save his mother, just like his grandfather before him. That’s why he refused to go to school that day and wanted to stay with me, remember? That was just a couple of days before he was found dead. He was a genius. A true prodigy. I’m so proud of him. Of you both. Come here. (Alex bends down and they kiss.)

Nurse

Sorry, but visitor’s hours are over, folks.

Alex

Please, miss. Just a few more minutes. It’s very important.

Nurse

Okay, but she can’t have too much excitement right now.

Alex

We’ll be out in a minute.

Ruth

Yes, she’s had enough stress for one life.

Lilith

Yes, mother, I have. You know, if you had been a little more aware of things, maybe Oz and the Freemen wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did with their machinations.

Alex

Well, however it came about, and whoever’s to blame, they’re a dying breed. It’s over. Oz and his lot will be dead soon. Now, we have to get your implant removed.

Lilith

How do we do that?

Alex

(Looks at her, smiling.) Love.

INT – Night – Gabe and Anne’s house

Alex, Lilith, Gabe and Anne are having a dinner party.

Gabe

I thought there was something creepy about the guy right from the start.

Lilith

I never liked him.

Gabe

And now we know why. Jesus, controlling your thoughts. No wonder you were going crazy!

Lilith

It was all I could do sometimes to stop the voices in my head that were saying go here, do this, you have super strength, you’re crazy, kill yourself. I mean – yikes!

Alex

I’m just overjoyed that things are back to where they should be. No voices, no mind control, just our lovely Lil.

Gabe

Sounds like a poem right there.

Alex

She is. And so much more pleasant post-implant and programming.

Gabe

Like night and day. I’m glad that this has giving us all more perspective. I’ve been a selfish pig. We can’t take our loved ones for granted.

Anne

Damn right you have! Take me for granted again and kkkchhh! (She makes a throat-cutting gesture.)

Gabe

Wait a minute, don’t start that again! And what a story! I might as well throw away ‘Intimate Atrocities,’ and write this one. What do you think, pal? Could we collaborate on this?

Alex

Run with it. I – well, we – will consult. But I read your script. It’s great. Submit that in the meantime.

Gabe

Done deal. Hollywood will eat this up. They love all that spy thriller stuff. Cheers, to the Four Musketeers, having slain the dragon and brought back the fair maiden! (They all clink glasses.)

Alex

And with the $45 million Oz left us in his bank account, we can produce it ourselves, if we have to!

Lilith

That’s one movie I’ve definitely seen enough of. (They all laugh.) I’m glad for one thing he did, though.

Alex

What’s that?

Lilith

That he brought us together. My hero. (She gazes lovingly at Alex.)

Alex

Really? Even with all that pain and suffering?

Lilith

We’re worth it. I understand that now. There’s so much I see now that I couldn’t before.

Alex

(He embraces her.)

I’m so happy. I have my Lil back.

Lilith

Farewell, cities of the moon. Farewell, death. The truth is beautiful. The truth of my life.

Alex

And worth holding on to. (He embraces her again.)

BEGIN MONTAGE SEQUENCE AS CREDITS ROLL – WE SEE A NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ARTICLE TITLED, “ARCHITECTURAL ICON OSWALD BRYANT DIES, LEAVES ASTOUNDING CONFESSION OF CONSPIRACY”. WE SEE SOME OF OZ’S TYPED CONFESSION QUOTED IN THE ARTICLE. SHOTS OF GABE AND ANNE IN HOLLYWOOD WATCHING THE FILMING OF “FAREWELL MOON DYNASTY,” AND ALEX AND LILITH WALKING HAPPY, HAND IN HAND IN CENTRAL PARK, HER STOMACH SHOWING SIGNS OF PREGNANCY. SHOT OF ALEX AT HIS COMPUTER WRITING NOVEL, “BLIND LIONS”.

THE END

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