To recap, Mark and Roque are 24 year old roommates. Roque’s a pudgy computer geek and Mark’s a shy, introverted, but cute unemployed chemistry major. Mark befriended Bridget, a 36 year old surgery nurse when he stopped to help her change a flat tire. As an expression of gratitude, Bridget took Mark to a secret swing party and disappeared into the crowd. Mark freaked, wanted to leave, and met a girl his age named Amy who offered to drive him home. Amy also happened to be a friend of Bridget’s… and a psychic, and tattooed, with stud and ring piercing everywhere.
Bridget called Mark again when she needed a second emergency ride to the animal hospital. This time, her old dog died. Deeply saddened, Bridget asked Mark to stay the night and as they shared their tragic childhood stories, a deeper level of intimacy ensued. Hence, they ended up making love. This segment begins with the “morning after”.
STOPPING THE LOVE – and waiting for paint to dry [Part 7 of 12]
A rippling mane is threaded through fingers and brush, veiling a sad morning face. It’s Bridget’s, and she has just shut off the dryer, her eyes still moored to her mirrored reflection. “What have I done?” she asks the woman in the glass. “There’s no way this can work. You’re going to get hurt. He’s going to get hurt. Stop it, Bridget. Cut it off now.”
Ten minutes later she’s dressed and walking past her second bedroom. “Mark?” she says at the door. “You okay in there?”
“Out in a minute,” comes from inside.
Mark is dressed, lying face up on the bed, floating, smiling.
Mark’s still beaming. It’s a I’m-feeling-good-about-everything Snoopy-faced grin. Bridget however, is dousing the mood. As she drives him home, her anxious pout exposes concern. No, actually it’s dread, a sulky dread. And Mark, turning his head to her now, is feeling it. “You okay?” he asks.
“I was thinking,” she responds.
“About last night…”
“What about it?”
“We were both pretty down.”
“Really? Even later?”
Her eyes whip to the young man. He’s not hearing her. She restarts, looking back to the road. “What we did… It was really about…” She can’t finish. This is a break up, and a denial, and a lie.
“Yeah?” he asks, patiently waiting.
“It was more about…” She slows the car. A signal’s up ahead.
“More about what?” He’s a deer in the headlights.
“More about…” She exhales, and stopping for a light, she turns to face him. He looks so innocent, so vulnerable. He’s Bambi in the bushes. And he’s giving her a look of unquestioned trust, like Valentino did up to the moment he died. “The sex we had,” she continues, “was more about how special you made me feel.”
His smile returns. She feigns one herself. She didn’t lie, but ‘special,’ is not what she feels now. The signal turns green.
Mark’s in the shower. It’s a long one, as usual. Roque moseys to the bathroom door and yells to his roommate under water. “So did ya hook up or not?” The answer to that, comes back as the sound of the shower turning off. No matter. Roque’s persistent. He wants answers and he ain’t movin’ ‘til he gets’em. He fires again. “So did ya?”
“She was bummed,” come through the door. “We talked.”
“C’mon!” Mark shouts back. “I gotta an interview in forty minutes!” The door unlocks. Donning a robe, Mark heads for his room. Roque traces his steps.
“Did ya see her naked? She’s hot, man. I’d do her.”
Mark escapes into his room, closing the door in Roque’s face. Undeterred, Pudge Boy yaks to wood panels. “You never tell me anything!”
“Ya know you’re the most boring roommate! Ever since your mom…” Roque stops, his hand flying to his mouth. “Shit!” he whispers. He almost said the “D” word. “D” for died.
There’s a squeak. Roque knows it’s Mark’s sock drawer being pulled, and a second for his underwear. “Hey!” Roque shouts again, “Ya gotta open up, Dude! If you don’t talk, who’s gonna hire you?”
On the other side of the door Mark has frozen his motion, his thumbs tucked under his jockeys around his waist. Brother Roque got through. ‘If you don’t talk, who’s gonna hire you?’ is lingering in his mind, followed by Bridget’s words in the coffee shop, ‘You don’t talk much.’
Mark’s job interview? It’s a cattle call with thirty people of all shapes, sizes, color, ages, and sexes seated in folding chairs lined up against four walls of a bare white cubical. This room has two doors; a white one where people enter and leave, a black one that opens for a ten minute talk. A middle aged woman with plain brown hair tied back in a bun, wearing plain glasses, a plain skirt and plain blouse, steps into this plain room. Mr. Sidwell?” she announces, glancing down to the clipboard in her hands. “Is Mr. Mark Sidwell here?” No one responds. Nor does Mark, asleep in his chair, his jaw slack, his head dropped to the side.
“No Mr. Sidwell?” she asks again. Everyone looks right and left. Who would dare not to show up for this job? She crosses out Mark’s name. “Ms. Travers?”
A portly woman, maybe fifty, lifts her wide behind from the chair and waddles toward the hallway leading to much needed employment.
Mark’s alone now, still asleep against the wall. The black door opens again, revealing the lady with the clipboard. She crosses to Mark. “Young man, wake up.” Mark looks dead, like a mummy on a bad day. She tries again. This time louder. “Wake up! We’re closing.” Mark’s lids flutter.
“We’re leaving the office.”
“But you didn’t call my name.”
“I called everyone’s name.”
He looks around the room, now realizing what happened. “But Ma’am, I didn’t hear it!”
“I’m sorry about that, but the interviews are over.”
“They can’t be! I waited three weeks for this. I filled out all the papers! See?” He raises them, a foot from her face.
“You fell asleep.”
“I know! I was up all night with a lady and her dying dog. Please! I really need a job! I gotta get a job! Please can you let me in there?”
Mark steps into a drab office with drab metal furniture lit by drab florescent lights. Behind the drab desk is a drab older man, probably sixty, wearing a drab brown suit with a drab brown tie. He’s clearing his desk, which has three neatly stacked piles of papers, a vintage pen holder and a CRT computer monitor from the nineties. Like the waiting room, there are no windows in this chamber, nor decoration hanging on the walls. It’s drab.
Clipboard lady makes the introduction. “Mr. Wells, would you have another five minutes for this young man?”
“It’s after five, Ms. Dudley. You told me we finished all the applicants.”
“I fell asleep,” Mark confesses, blurting it out. “Really bad stuff happened last night but I got here anyway.” Mark extends his papers like he did with Ms Dudley. And he holds them there, before the man’s eyes.
Mr. Wells looks at the papers in Marks’ hand, goes past them to pleading eyes, shifting to Ms. Dudley standing behind Mark’s back. She silently mouths, “Just talk to him.”
Mr. Wells takes her advice. “All right, Mr…”
“Sidwell,” Mark adds. Papers move from hand to hand.
“Take a seat.”
Mark sits, and waits, as Mr. Dudley looks over his application and school transcripts. After a moment, Dudley sits down himself, addressing the applicant before him. “Your grades are impressive. But you dropped out of graduate school.”
“My mom had cancer. I had to come home and take care of her.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. How is she now?”
Mr. Dudley clears his throat, and returning to Mark’s application. “I don’t see a letter of recommendation from your previous employer.”
“I got fired.”
“You got fired? Why?”
“My old boss, he drinks a lot. But it’s his company so gets to do it. And he has a bad temper, and I think he’s on something else. Pain killers maybe.”
Dudley scribbles notes. Mark continues.
“Three weeks ago I was driving to work and I see a woman with a flat tire, and she’s like, really scared, ‘cause her dog’s sick and she’s on her way to the vet’s, and she can’t wait for a taxi. So I drove her and the dog to the pet hospital, and when I called into work, my buddy Len tells me that Pete didn’t come in either, and so we were both fired.”
Dudley’s brows raise. “For one time being late?”
“Well, it was both of us at once, and Pete, he’s been late a lot. So I got booted with him.”
“And why were you late to this interview?”
“I wasn’t. I fell asleep. ‘Cause that same lady, she called me last night for the same thing, to get her dog to the pet hospital. But this time, the dog died, and she didn’t want to be alone after that. So I hung out with her into the morning. And then I came here.”
Mr. Dudley scratches his chin, perusing again Mark’s application and transcripts. He turns them over, reading everything. Finally he drops the papers onto his desk. “Do you know what we do here, Mr. Sidwell.”
“You think you could find that interesting? Or would this be a fill in job?”
Mark’s brow furrows. He’s thinking. Finally… “I don’t know. I’d have to see.”
To be continued…10/28/2011
For this segment, I’d like to talk about some basic questions authors must ask themselves before writing each scene. The first one I ask is: WHAT NEW INFORMATION WILL THIS SCENE DELIVER? The second: HOW DOES THIS EVENT, OR CHANGE OF ATTITUDE, AFFECT THE DIRECTION OF THE PLOT? The third: WHO’S SCENE IN THIS? The forth: WHAT IS THE INTENTION OF THE SCENE?
So let’s go through this list for each part of this segment.
Bridget talks to herself in the mirror and then drives Mark home: NEW INFORMATION? She intends and then tries to reverse her relationship with Mark. PLOT SHIFT? She has downgraded the relationship in her own mind even though Mark doesn’t realize it. WHO’S SCENE? It’s Bridget’s. THE INTENTION? To show Bridget’s conflicted approach to life and establish motivation for her later rejections.
Roque questions Mark as he readies for his interview: NEW INFORMATION? Mark’s mother’s death inhibited him from expressing feelings. Before that, he was different. PLOT SHIFT? Roque got Mark to think about opening up. WHO’S SCENE? Although Roque is active and Mark is reactive, it’s Mark’s scene. He changes his attitude. THE INTENTION? Mark begins his character arc. He will open up.
Mark sleeps through his interview slot and then makes it happen: NEW INFORMATION? Mark is now deathly honest, holding back nothing. PLOT SHIFT? Too early to tell. If he gets the job, it will change the course of the story. WHO’S SCENE? Mark’s. THE INTENTION? To show how Mark’s behavior is changing. He is exiting his shell. But beyond this structural information…
Do you think Mark will get past Bridget’s resistance to his attraction?