For those of you who have just joined us, Mark Sidwell is the closest thing to a virgin without being one, and has just escaped from a secret sex party in Hancock Park. A girl he met there, Amy, volunteered to drive Mark home, and he’s still weirded out by all the sex.
Roque is Mark’s obese but super geek roommate and long time best friend. Roque never physically leaves the house. He doesn’t have to. He treks the world on line, stopping periodically at dating sites and “something else” soon to be revealed.
WHEN FAVORS AREN’T ENOUGH – and your cheese smells [Part 5 of 12]
Mark steps into his apartment living room. Roque is where he left him – on the couch eating flick food – caramelized popcorn and peanuts. This is Roque’s dinner. But then again, junk is always Roque’s dinner.
The video? It’s YouPorn streaming into his laptop, and then onto the flat screen. Roque cranes his head over the couch. “Home early?”
“It was boring.” Mark hoofs it into their kitchen.
“Figures. A lady who has to pick up a guy? She’s gotta be lame.” Roque returns to his 1080p, 240Hz edge-lit sex. “Ya think those babes are doin’ it for money? Or they’re that way in real life?”
Mark’s not listening. He’s treasure hunting the fridge for sandwich stuff, which he finds and puts on the counter. Back in the living room, responses are not required for a Roquian conversation.
“Wonder how ya get into the business. Hooking up with all those babes, two, three at a time. How cool is that!”
Mark grabs a plate and throws bologna and cheese onto slices of stale bread. He opens a jar and looks inside. “Hey! Roommate!”
Roque rotates, brows raising.
“You finished the mayo and didn’t replace it!”
“Oh… Sorry.” End of remorse. Fat Man presses his controller, fast forwarding to a boy-girl-girl scene. “You gonna see her anymore?” he shouts back into the kitchen.
“No.” Mark pours milk into a glass, which hopefully will wash down this dry dinner, sans mayonnaise. Plate and glass in hand, he ambles into the living room behind Roque on the couch.
“Whoa!” Roque freezes the image. “Dude! Check this out! Look what she’s doin’!”
Mark stops, looks at the video frame, shakes his head, and walks down the hall into his bedroom.
“It’s getting’ juicy! C’mon back!”
“Marko!” Roque woofs. “Are you gay? Or what?!”
More silence from down the hall.
Roque shrugs, presses PLAY, and he’s back to porn, peanuts and popcorn. Yes, life is good.
Mark’s room is dark, except for the faint glow of a digital clock face on the side table next to the bed. It shows 3:11a.m. A phone CHIMES lying next to the clock. Nothing moves in bed. Not for the first ring. Not for the second, or the third. Finally, a limp hand slowly rises from under the blanket to feel around for the source of the sound. Once found, Mark’s head appears with the phone docking to his ear. “Yeah…”
“I’m so sorry to wake you,” comes through the tiny speaker. “I didn’t know anyone else to call!” The voice sounds distressed. It’s a woman’s voice. Still, eyes stay shut.
“Who is this?”
“It’s Bridget!” Eyes fly open. “Val’s sick again. But this time it’s worse. Much worse! His urine’s filled with blood. And he can’t walk anymore!”
“Oh… Is that bad?”
“Will you help me get him to the animal hospital. I can’t lift him myself.”
“Can’t ya call an ambulance?”
“They don’t come for dogs!”
Mark’s hand drops onto a big flaccid arm clutching a stuffed yellow bunny. It’s Roque’s arm. And it’s Roque’s bunny, in Roque’s bed, in Roque’s room, which is dark,‘cause it’s 3:15 in the morning.
Mark shakes him again. “Wake up. We’ve got a mission.”
“Later…” Roque rolls under his pillows.
“No. Now. We gotta help Bridget.”
Any female name will slap Roque awake. And now he is, head lifting from under the pillow. “Bridget who?”
Her bell chimes. Bridget scampers to the door and frantically swings it open. Mark and Roque are waiting outside. Well, sort of waiting. Roque’s asleep, standing up, eyes shut, wearing a pajama top dangling over jeans and ratty slippers.
“Oh! Thank you! Thank you for coming!’ Bridget exclaims, near panic. Mark elbows Roque in the ribs. His sagging lids flutter open, taking in Bridget’s face, down to her breasts, her waist, hips, legs, back to her breasts. Testosterone kicks in. He’s up and running; the First Responder.
“Where’s the dog, Lady?” he booms, taking command.
Bridget points to the kitchen.
Big Boy fast-tracks to Val in his bed. Seconds later Roque has lifted an eighty pound pouch and is carrying the beast out the front door. Bijou springs into Bridget’s arms and five bodies quickly load into First Responder’s van.
Generally a waiting room is where people sit and wait, unless you happen to be a man and his dog sleeping across six chairs. Bijou has nestled herself onto Roque’s pudgy tummy. Both look pleased about this. They’re both snoring.
On the other side of the room, too stressed to nap, sit Bridget and Mark. He checks his watch. “What is it?” she asks.
“I think this is the end,” she laments. “He’s gone through so much.”
“He’s been sick a lot?”
“He’s my old, old pal, in and out of this place for years. You know why he stuck around this long?”
“He knows I love him.”
Mark bobs his head, his standard affirmation, letting the room fall into a hush.
Something catches Bridget’s attention. She scans the room. “What’s that odor?” she asks, raising her hand to cover her nose. “Smells like something died.”
“It’s feet,” Mark tells her.
“Roque’s toes. He took his shoes off when he nodded out.”
“Oh my god, they stink.”
“That’s why we call him Roque. It’s short for Roquefort. ‘Cause his socks smell like cheese.”
“That’s awful! Is he employable that way?”
“He works from home, filing stuff for Walgreen’s.”
“I’m a regional reporting Analyst,” Roque articulates from his slumbered position, eyes still shut. “I design and maintain reporting databases and applications with MS SQL Server programming,T-SQL,VBA and shit like that.”
Mark turns to Bridget. “Well… There you have it.”
A nurse comes into this room through the double doors. “Miss, Cerbin?” Bridget jumps to her feet. “The doctor would like to speak to you. He’s waiting with Valentino.”
“Will Val be coming home?”
“The doctor’s going to talk to you about that.”
Bridget slumps, and turns her head to Mark. “I’ve worked in surgery long enough to know what that means.” She follows the nurse to the examining rooms.
Everyone’s quiet in Roque’s van. Even Bijou, securely balled up in Bridget’s arms. Valentino did not come home, and even the terrier understands that. A tear from Bridget’s cheek falls onto her little dog’s head. Bijou looks up, sees the sorrow above him, and licks her master’s wrists.
Roque pulls his van into Bridget’s town house driveway and parks. Dawn is graying the sky, giving enough dull light to see the path to Bridget’s front door. Bijou scoots out of the van first, scampering to the front steps to wait there for her master. Bridget however, weighted with grief, takes her time to leave the car. Slowly she slides off the seat, and with feet planted on grass, starts rummaging through her purse under the pale glow of the street lamp. Mark watches from his place next to Roque. He can see that her search is pointless. She can’t think. So he joins her to find what she’s looking for. “Missing something?” he asks.
“My house keys. I thought I put them in here when we left.”
“Can I, look?”
She hands him her sack. He pulls a fob from the side pocket. The keys were clearly visible. She rolls her eyes. “God, I’m a mess,” she exhales. And taking two steps to the young man, she embraces him. “Will you stay with me tonight?” she quietly asks.
“Will you stay with me, today? I’m calling in sick.”
He pulls away. “But I gotta…job interview, at three.”
“I’ll drive you there. Please stay.”
Her gaze won’t uncouple. Wrapped in a vacuum of loss, she’s severely hurting. He can see that in her mournful eyes, her limp stance, and hear it from the quiver in her voice. No. He can’t leave. He calls out to Roque waiting behind the wheel. “I’m stayin’.”
“Figured you would,” comes from the van. Roque shifts into reverse and backs out of the driveway.
To be continued…10/14/2011
We have a lot going in this segment – seven scenes expressing character development, back story and plot advancement.
Scene #1 focuses on character portrayal and employs comic irony and contract: Roque’s obsession with pornography is accentuated by Mark’s private (and secret) experience of the real thing. Mark could have bragged about the sex party, even exaggerated it. He didn’t, because he chose to protect Roque’s self esteem instead of stroking his own ego. Mark was written to be kind, and hence, sympathetic.
Scenes 2, 3 & 4 are plot transitions to get Bridget and Mark back together. The motivation had to come from Bridget, in as much Mark was overwhelmed by her open sexual life style. So a sick dog was written into the story to do just that – return Mark to her life. Bridget’s attachment and kindness to dogs also serves to expose her suppressed love, compassion, and need for a connection to people (and men).
Scene 5 (in the waiting room) is expository revealing Roque’s back story and his denied love of animals, as well as the attachment pets have for him. (He can’t be totally gross!) But as noted before, an expository scene usually plays flat unless it’s also pushing the plot forward. Consequently, the possibility that Val will die ends this scene, asking the dramatic question, WILL Val die?
Scene 6 resolves that question and transitions into…
Scene 7, which is a teaser setting up the entire next segment. We are now asking the dramatic question:
Will Bridget and Mark come together? Will their relationship turn romantic? What do you think?