Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, April 24, 2015

More of MFD...

Continues from previous bit...
------
EXT. MARINA - DAY

By London City Airport. High-end yachts. A lock gate opens and a massive cabin cruiser powers into the harbor to stop by a quay. An open lot is beside it. MARC PLOMIER -- middle-aged but youth-obsessed -- hops out to tie up the mooring.

BEN (O.S.)
Uncle Marc.

He spins to find --

Ben approaching. His hair is blond.

MARC
Ben!?

INT. CRUISER CABIN - DAY

Pristine. Well-furnished. Marc pours tea for Ben.

MARC
(French accent)
What a surprise to see you. Where have you been? How did you know I am here?

BEN
Laurent wrote me; mentioned your new boat.

MARC
How was he able to find you?

BEN
He sent the letter to my old unit’s quartermaster. He held it for me.

MARC
My son is too secretive, at times. When did he do this?

BEN
Dunno. Year ago, maybe.

MARC
And only now do you reappear?

BEN
... I only just got the letter. You like London, then?

MARC
It is too expensive, but anyplace is better than Belfast. Do you know Archer is now Superintendent? Your parents and wife are killed, thanks to him, and he moves up the ranks. Le salaeu. And then ... you vanish. Where did you go?

BEN
Here and there. I had lots to think about. But I’m back, and it’s time to get things going, again. I hoped you could help.

MARC
Nothing will please me more.

BEN
Thanks. I’m staying at a B and B in Dartford and -- .

MARC
No, no, no, you will stay with us. I will tell Lauren you’ve returned. Laurent is on holiday so you may have his room.

He pulls out a mobile phone. Ben fights a smile.

BEN
Uncle Marc, I don’t want to impose.

INT. MARC’S HOUSE - DAY
Exquisite. Overlooking The Thames. LAUREN -- 40, looks 30, thinks she’s 20 -- holds her mobile phone.

MARC (O.S.)
Ben, please. You are my sister’s son. It would insult me if you do not have use of my home.

INT. MARC'S HOUSE - DAY
Lauren leads Ben down a hall. He has a duffel bag. She motions to a door.

LAUREN
(British)
I’d put you in Laurent's room, but we’ve more than enough space, and he’s rather particular about how his things are kept.

BEN
When’s he back from holiday?

LAUREN
Sunday. You only just missed him. Here you go.

She shows him a nicely furnished room overlooking the Thames.

LAUREN (CONT’D)
Why not freshen up while I make lunch? Would you like some wine?

BEN
No, thank you, Aunt Lauren.

LAUREN
Ben ... please, it’s just Lauren.

BEN
... Lauren.

LAUREN
I’m glad to see you’re all right. When we heard you were attacked ... and then you vanished ... well ...

He tightens.

LAUREN (CONT’D)
I ... I’ll get lunch started.

She hesitates. Exits.

He drops his duffel-bag on the bed. Pulls out clothes, a laptop computer, notebook, wad of cash, a GLOCK PISTOL with ammunition and 2 extra clips, and a belt holster.

He takes a worn black & white photo from the notebook -- of him, Irina, Isobel and Forrier in front of the Country Home.

EXT. IRISH COUNTRY HOME - DAY (FLASHBACK)
Forrier and Isobel stand stiff behind Irina, in white, and Ben in Full Army Dress. Vaughn sets up a camera on a tripod.

VAUGHN
Oh, no, Irina’s part of the family, now! That’s reason to celebrate!

ISOBEL
Here is my celebration face.

Forrier begins to chuckle. Irina loses it, too. Isobel swats at her husband, smiling.

ISOBEL (CONT’D)
(in French)
Can’t you be serious for one second?!

Ben laughs. Vaughn snaps the photograph.

INT. MARC'S HOUSE - DAY
In his room, Ben slips the photo into a corner of the dresser mirror. He pulls a slip of paper from the notebook; it reads: Nicholas Glyde, The Windwood, Sifford Heath, London RM22 1XP.

INT. SHAGGY APARTMENT - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)
Very low-rent. Packed with high-tech computer equipment. A NERDY DUDE passes a folder to Ben.

NERDY DUDE
Yeah. Hard to find, this one. Took me near an hour.

INT. MARC’S HOUSE - DAY
Ben shoves the paper in his pocket, clips the holster to his back belt, slips his pistol into it. His jacket hides it.

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
Ben drives past rolling hills.

EXT. GLYDE MANOR - DAY
Elegant. Overlooking green fields and surrounded by trees. Barbed wire atop the brick fence. The entry gate is guarded. Ben passes.

EXT. HILLSIDE - DAY
Ben parks. Gets a case out of the boot. Takes a tiny drone and remote control from it. Starts the laptop. Links the drone camera to the laptop. Gets it flying. It whispers away.

THE DRONE FOCUSES ON THE MANOR. A classic ASTON MARTIN CONVERTIBLE in perfect condition sits near the front door. Bodyguards stroll about. Security cameras are everywhere.

The DRONE’S CAMERA ZEROES IN ON A WINDOW OF THE HOUSE to find NICHOLAS GLYDE -- 45, big and never not in control -- talking on a mobile phone as he paces in his office.

Ben smiles. HIS CAMERA SHIFTS TO THE FRONT DOOR to catch --

AURELIA GLYDE -- 20, the epitome of every young man’s dream -- exiting. Her IMAGE FREEZES.

INT. MARC’S HOUSE - NIGHT
In his room, Ben sits before the laptop. Its screen shows the same image of Aurelia. He rewinds the image to Glyde in the window. Returns to Aurelia.

INT. SHAGGY APARTMENT - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)
Ben flips through Nerdy Dude’s folder.

NERDY DUDE
Bastard’s got two kids. Aurelia and Auric. Idiot names from an idiot.

BEN
Both names refer to gold.

NERDY DUDE
Well, they’ve lived golden lives.

INT. MARC’S HOUSE - NIGHT
Ben watches Aurelia move in SLOW-MOTION. His expression is cruel.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The opening for "Marked For Death"...

Back to work --

FADE IN:

EXT. IRISH COUNTRY HOME - DAY
Large, well-kept. A black SUV waits in the driveway, a silver SUV ahead of it. ARCHER, a wary silver wolf in a suit, waits with heavily-armed PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) OFFICERS.
A jaunty young CONSTABLE (in street clothes) exits the house, followed by GEORGE FORRIER, 50, urbane to the max.

FORRIER
(brogue)
Isobel, come along! We’re late.

ISOBEL, 50, the perfect mate to Forrier, strides out.

ISOBEL
(French accent)
It is Jamin who is late, by one day, and is the train ever on time?

A lovely young woman follows her -- IRINA FORRIER. She toys with a wedding ring on her finger.

IRINA
(brogue)
It will be, this time. And Ben’ll be waiting. Impatient.

FORRIER
Still loves his bride, eh? Wait till he’s married as long as me.

ISOBEL
George!

He kisses her, gets in the front passenger seat; the women are in the back. Archer and his cops get in their vehicle.

CONSTABLE
(to cops, brogue)
Want us to lead, lads?

The cops and Archer flip him off. Get in the silver SUV.

EXT. IRISH HILLSIDE - DAY
A powerful SCARRED MAN lies under a bush, with binoculars. Watches the SUVs leave the Country Home. He checks printouts of photographs -- sends a text on his mobile.

HIDDEN IN A GLEN
The text shows on a mobile phone -- black.

LEGION, a happy Irish sociopath, puts the phone away, turns on a small drone. Sends it flying.

EXT. IRISH COUNTRY HOME - DAY
The SUVs whip through an electronic gate onto a winding road. Another Constable waves them past.

IN FORRIER’S SUV
He motions back to the gate cop.

FORRIER
That’s what you get for puttin’ your nose in other people’s business.

CONSTABLE
You were right to do it, Mr. Forrier. Mr. Archer agrees.

FORRIER
I’m glad he thinks so. What about you, Irina? You think I’m a fool?

IRINA
I think you think too much, just like your son.

FORRIER
You don’t mind living in a cage?

IRINA
Won’t be forever.

FORRIER
One can hope.

ON THE ROAD
They speed on.

The drone whips behind Forrier’s SUV. Gets closer and closer.

The Constable notices.

CONSTABLE
Bloody hell ... ?

He hits the horn -- BEEP -- BEEP --

IN THE LEAD SUV
Archer looks around and BOOM!

EXT. RURAL TRAIN DEPOT - DAY
Empty. The sound of the explosion echoes. A strong, good-looking young man turns -- BENJAMIN FORRIER -- BEN, as clear-eyed and impish as his father. Army duffel bag beside him. He’d carved IRINA into a post. Smoke
rises in the distance.

EXT. AFGHAN HILLSIDE - DAY
Ben drops to behind some rocks, sniper rifle in hand. He wears desert combat fatigues. He sets up, scans a desert trail through the scope. A BRITISH PATROL heads down it. All very routine.
Ben catches sight of movement in the rocks above the patrol. He punches a mike on his shoulder.

BEN
(brogue)
Sarge, it’s Forrier. Think I saw something.

The patrol scatters for shelter behind rocks.

Ben sees A TALIBAN SNIPER sniper appear from the other side of some rocks -- take quick aim.

Ben centers him in his sites. FIRES. All in one move.

The Sniper collapses.

Ben scans for more movement. Sees nothing. Taps his mike.

BEN (CONT’D)
All clear.

VAUGHN (O.S.)
(British)
Where’s the body?

BEN
Two o’clock. About a hundred meters up the hill.

VAUGHN
Good lad. Pint’s on me, tonight.

EXT. BRITISH ARMY BASE, AFGHANISTAN - NIGHT
Deserted. Dark. Vaughn and Ben exit a canteen, drunk. Half-carry each other down the path. They sing.

VAUGHN AND BEN
When I was young I used to be
As fine a lad as you’d ever see, Till the Prince of Wales, he said to me,
Come join the British Army.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra-loo,
They’re lookin’ for monkeys up in the zoo,
And if I had a face like you,
I’d join the British Army.

Ben stumbles. Vaughn laughs.

BEN
(brogue)
Shite. I gotta piss.

He stumbles into a latrine. Vaughn continues to sing “Join the British Army.”

INT. LATRINE - NIGHT
Ben pees.

SCARRED MAN (O.S.)
Forrier?

Ben looks around.

BEN
Yeah?

SCARRED MAN
Infidel!

THE SCARRED MAN APPEARS FROM THE SHADOWS -- STABS HIM!

Ben cries out -- jolts back -- falls.

VAUGHN (O.S.)
Ben? Ben!?

Ben sees blood on his hands. Sees the Scarred Man wears an Afghan Army Uniform. Ben smiles. Snarls.

BEN
C’mon, arsehole ... finish it.

VAUGHN (O.S.)
Ben!

The Scarred Man darts into a shadow. Vaughn races in.

BEN
Vaughn? No!

He tries to get up.

The Scarred Man slits his knife through Vaughn’s throat!

Ben kicks the man down. Fights him. Guts him with his own knife. Blood flies. Ben pushes his body away. Bleeding. In pain. Crawls around.

BEN (CONT’D)
... Vaughn ... aw, Christ ...

He sees Vaughn’s lifeless body. RUNNING FEET AND VOICES ARE HEARD APPROACHING. Ben passes out.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dominoes...

One change begets another change begets another...and so on and so forth. Ben winds up in Afghanistan after his family is killed, which sets up actions later in the story much better. I'm still having some trouble with MFD's timeline of events, but they're not as obscure as they were.

I was reminded of a song I loved, back when I was in 8th grade -- Sukiyaki. The true title of it is Ue O Muite Arukou and the lyrics are elegant...if sad. The singer, Kyu Sakamoto, was so cute...and so tragic. He died in a JAL plane crash in 1985, the worst single-plane disaster ever.


Here's the original version...made in 1962 but not released in the US till 1963. The only Japanese song to hit #1 in Billboard's Top 100. I first heard it 3 years later, when we lived in El Paso.

God, that year was hell on earth, and may well be why I still do not like the desert. Because that's all El Paso is. This song was the only thing I remember as being nice...well, that and having a skunk as a pet. Sort of. Posey never was completely domesticated, and she loved to shit in corners of the closet, so I had to go in to clean it out. She finally ran away, one night. I was both sorry and not.

I also used to slip over to Juarez on the trolley with a friend of mine -- Danny? If you gave a guy a US dollar, he'd buy you beers and keep the change. That and real tamales, you were set. And my folks never knew. They thought I was going to the movies.

I did see a couple of good Godzilla films, in El Paso...and a Mothra. At a downtown theater. But for the most part my memories are of dealing with roving packs of bullies at school, teachers who didn't care or made fun of my still-British accent and spelling, and my first B in Art (I'd always had As before then). I was so glad to be leaving, even going to Grand Forks, North Dakota sounded good.

And it was; the base had a little theater group. And I joined. And then promptly got ripped away and sent back to San Antonio.

That's when I began to believe you really have no control over your life.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One change destroys...

I lost my ending to Marked For Death. A lovely shootout in a room full of computer servers. By shifting the story to London, it no longer made sense without me going through all sorts of explanations that would be boring, at best. So now I have to come up with a new ending that achieves the same goal.

This may be better because it'll have to be out in the open, no place to hide from a gunfight, with CCTV cameras all over. I'll need to be way more creative. As of now, I'm not quite there. Hell, I'm not even in the same postal code.

Ben's helping. One scene I'd set in a marina by London's City Airport didn't work till he and I went looking for something better. And found it. Now it makes total sense and helps explain one aspect of the story without a lot of exposition.

This is kind of odd...using a real man named Ben to model one of my characters, who's also named Ben. It's informing on him a bit. My Ben's father's Jewish but his mother's Catholic, so officially speaking he's not Jewish.

Ben Cohen's family name is Jewish but they haven't been for a couple generations. Which doesn't really surprise me; I knew a man named Markowitz in LA who was Catholic. Plus even though BC's a big buff rugby player (one mean-assed sport) he comes across as so tender and sweet and happy, you can't help but like him.

He's clinically deaf, so that may have something to do with his temperament. I've found people with partial disabilities tend to be more caring and understanding of the limitations of others. But also has a lot to do with his upbringing. His father was killed defending someone from an attack in the club he managed, in 2000.

I hope my Ben is worthy of Rugby Ben.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Hallelujah



A very second-rate version of Leonard Cohen's song is playing on KCRW, right now. It's one of the most beautiful ever written and does NOT need to be oversold. In fact, it's hurt if you take it into high emotion. This is Jeff Buckley's rendition...but the loveliest I ever heard was all but whispered, throughout. Broke my heart, it did.


"Hallelujah"

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music do you
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrough ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor (you know)
I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Progress proceeds, potentially pleasing...

MFD is enjoying its shift to London's east side. It's settled in the Royal Docks area, where London's City Airport now stands along with some massive business development, and I've worked in some political comment. The lead is now named Ben Forrier and he's a Protestant from Belfast, who married a Catholic woman and is out for revenge over the murder of both her and his parents.

It's funny, but the image I have in my head for Ben is Ben Cohen, once a British rugby star and now a straight ally of gay rights and no-bullying. He's in his 30s, while my Ben is still mid-20s, but I like the look of him for the character. He seems like he can handle himself.

I've got nearly 40 pages done and think I'll have a good draft done, this weekend. But what's best is, it's gotten me past the drought that was drying out my creative drive. I have a couple people in the UK film industry who are open to considering it so long as it won't cost 10 million pounds to make, so the changes I'm making are taking that into account.

I've trimmed back the number of locations, already, and simplified the through line, up to this point. Here's hoping it'll work out all the way through.

Yeah...still hoping...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rebuilding...

I did some writing, today. A script I wrote that was set in LA is being shifted to London, and it fits pretty well there, so far. It's a bit of a cheat, getting back to work this way...but anything that breaks the logjam of apathy is good, I guess.

Doesn't hurt that the day job is beginning to finally gear down, a little. Most of the dealers are home or en route, and I'm more rested, now. I actually got 7 hours sleep, last night, and may do that tonight. Normally I'm working off 6 and make it up on the weekends.

I've also decided to sit out the whole Presidential campaign, this time. Too many twerps are already saying that if I don't vote for Hillary Clinton, that's the same as voting for a Republican. Which only serves to piss me off. One woman on facebook has even started calling people like me, who question handing HRC the nomination, Non-Democratic. The meaning behind that snotty phrase is too damned obvious, even though she insists all she means is we're not Democrats.

Man, when the Left Wing Know-It-Alls starts using the same bullshit to excuse their insults as the Right Wing Assholes, it's time to let it go. I've got other things to worry about, stuff more immediate than an election that's a year and a half away. I've said my piece; let other people spit and snarl. I'll focus my bile and anger on my writing.

Wonder if that'll help the stories any.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I almost wrote, today...

One of my rules is, I have to write something at least once a day. Preferably on a book or script, but something. Even if it's just in a journal or notes for the story or something. But it's been over a week since I've done anything...and today was the first time I even began to notice it.

Normally, if I don't scribble at least something down, I go into a sort of withdrawal. But I've coasted through this week of artistic inactivity. Maybe it's because I was tired. My whole rhythm was thrown off for several days, getting up at 6:30 or 7am and working nearly non-stop at packing books. I worked 11 hours on Thursday, with only a salad for lunch. Then I drove home on Friday but didn't get in till nearly 8pm thanks to Toronto traffic (they're trying to out-do LA and doing a damn good job of it). Then I got up at 6am Saturday morning to hop down to NYC to look at another massive packing job, did a hell of a lot of walking around both the book fair and to and from the job's site, and I didn't get home till 1:30 the next morning. I'd like to think that's all it is.

But in the past when I've done stretches like that, I'd whine about it and then do a little something on a story. Even then, I needed to. Like a drunk needs a drink or a junkie a fix. Not this time. Instead, I've watched the first 12 episodes of Friends and the first 3 hours of Battlestar Galactica...and that's it.

Oh, I did get nudged a little. Don't even know by whom in which story. I sent off an e-mail to an associate DA in Riverside for some info for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, but I can't say that was it. Nor was it Carli's Kills or Underground Guy, despite thinking Carli'd be fun to take to the extreme and Dev's drifting close to crazy-as-hell. At least, I can't say for sure. I had another story I was working on, once, called Marked for Death; it sort of waved at me. Only nothing is slamming my head against the wall or brightening my ideas up or giving me the joy of putting words together.

All I know with any certainty is, I don't really feel the withdrawal symptoms of not writing, yet...and that scares me, a little.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Almost have my brain back...

I don't remember a great deal about the last three days except I worked them like crazy. I did a 4-day packing job in just over 2, not including driving to and from the Toronto area. It was one of those jobs where you're told to expect a minimal amount of work and suddenly it nearly quadruples in size...oh, and within the same time frame, OK? I got it done -- 73 boxes of books and 3 boxes of documents, but I'm not happy with the job I did.

In order to finish in time, I cut out two steps in my packing process. Normally, I wrap each book in tissue then stack them, by size, to fit a 16x14x12 inch box, lay bits of bubble between the books for cushioning and wrap them as a bundle, in bubble wrap. Then there's an inch of space on all sides, so the bundle of books is, effectively, floating in the center of the box surrounded by crumbled paper. So far as I know, I've never had a book show up damaged.

This time, however, I wrapped a couple books together in single sheets of tissue, and I didn't put bubble in-between the books unless it was really needed. They're still protected, but not as well as they should be. But here's the funny part -- the cataloguer who was picking the books whined that I was overpacking them. They didn't need to be tissue-wrapped or have so much padding around them. It actually slowed me down, doing it that way, and when he was gone I got back up to speed.

Today, I flew down to NYC to look at a collection that's even larger...and I'm going to be precise in what I will and will not do. But this is for a client who understands and doesn't whine about me overdoing it. I also spent some time at the NY Book Fair and saw some old friends and one British dealer I've got a major crush on.

I'm now at Jet Blue's Terminal 5 and I'm exhausted; cannot wait to get home and sleep all day, Sunday.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Damn the writing...


I'm watching Rear Window, again, because I read this lovely article about it.