The Valley of the Tools Episode 33

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
In the wake of the sudden resignation of Rep. Katie Hill, Rob becomes overwhelmed by the fact that he may have to compete for the seat for the seat much earlier than he expected, while still in the throes of recovery from alcoholism. Noel reveals he’s met someone his age to Bonnie. Miles’ Chinese experiment comes back a rousing success.

Submitted: November 08, 2019

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Submitted: November 08, 2019

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THE VALLEY OF THE TOOLS

 

“CULTURAL REVOLUTION”

 

TV-MA DL

 

“Why’re men great until they gotta be great? Don’t text me, tell it straight to my face. Best friend sat me down in the salon chair. Shampoo press, get you outta my hair”

  • Melissa Jefferson

 

(We start with a close-up of Rob, in exercise clothes, on a running trail, his hands on his knees, panting. He wipes his brow and starts coughing profusely. Suddenly, Imogen jogs into frame and stops)

 

IMOGEN: Oh, honey. (Imogen takes out a bag of Ricolas and hands one to Rob. Rob takes the bag and pours them down his throat) ROB!

 

(Rob starts spitting the still-wrapped Ricolas out)

 

ROB: Why don’t they come unwrapped?!

 

IMOGEN: Why don’t you quit smoking, so we don’t have to stop every five minutes?

 

ROB: Gerald said smoking is good, because it’s an addiction that ruins your health, but not your life!

 

IMOGEN: Well, good thing you don’t need that. Robert, we’re trying to do fun activities that don’t involve drinking, and as long as you smoke like a Russian hooker in the middle of winter, it’s gonna be tough.

 

ROB: Russian… (breath) SEX worker!

 

IMOGEN: Sorry.

 

(Rob straightens his back)

 

ROB: Alright, I’m ready let’s go. (Rob and Imogen begin running, but then Rob almost immediately trips over a hollow log and lands on his elbow) FUUUUCCK!!!!

 

IMOGEN: Oh my God!

 

(Imogen rushes over to inspect his scraped elbow)

 

ROB: WHY THE FUCK IS A HOLLOW LOG THERE?!

 

(Cut to Rob sitting on his couch with a bandage on his elbow. He’s clearly in pain as Imogen applies a bag of ice to the elbow)

 

IMOGEN: You scraped the shit out of it, but I don’t think it’s strained. But to be fair, my only medical experience is that my dad sells herbal supplements as part of a pyramid scheme.

 

ROB: Jesus CHRIST, you know what would soothe this pain!?

 

IMOGEN: I already gave you Advil- Rob, no!

 

ROB: Just a TEENSY little nip, Imogen, please, I have it under control! You can even get me that Foster’s garbage your people drink like water-

 

IMOGEN: No, Rob, remember, sobriety is worth it.

 

ROB: “Worth it” my ass, I couldn’t go to any of the Halloween parties this weekend because of it.

 

IMOGEN: Hey, we handed candy out to kids, it was fun!

 

ROB: I was pissed at all of the, and dunking on their costumes, because sobriety makes me cranky.

 

IMOGEN: Yeah, but besides that, it was…fun.

 

ROB: This has been so hard, Whitney is stressing me the fuck out with all the delegating she’s doing- it used to be she was the one who had the totally lopsided work/life balance, and I got to fuck around 70% of the day, now she has a great work/life balance, and I have to work! How is that fair?!

 

IMOGEN: That’s the definition of fair, dude.

 

ROB: Whatever. Just put something on, please.

 

(Imogen turns to the TV and brings up Netflix. She starts scrolling through the cue)

 

IMOGEN: What’d you want? Great British Baking Show? That weird puberty ghosts show? Some original called “Choking The Chicken”- a show about a guy who masturbates so much it becomes a problem? Jesus, they’re buying everything these days, huh?

 

ROB: Just put on whatever.

 

(Imogen puts on “Choking The Chicken”. It opens on a shirtless dude jerking off)

 

DUDE: This is becoming a problem.

 

(Rob gets a CNN notification on his phone- “Rep. Katie Hill Announces Impending Resignation in the wake of Investigations into multiple affairs and leaked nude photos”)

 

ROB: HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

 

IMOGEN: What?! (Rob drops his phone and gets up. He suddenly starts hyperventilating) What is it!? (Imogen looks a his phone) Oh, shit, she actually did it, huh?

 

ROB: …How am I gonna…

 

IMOGEN: She resigned for something you yourself did, what are the odds? (Rob starts hyperventilating more) Sorry! Sorry, that probably didn’t help.

 

(Cut to an establishing shot of the new office of Stone Productions. Cut to inside Rob’s office, located at the far-right corner, outside reception. McKenzie is sitting across from him at his desk. Rob is staring into space)

 

MCKENZIE: …So obviously we didn’t expect this-

 

ROB: YEAH!

 

MCKENZIE: Come on, the stuff about the nude photos came about a few days ago, we knew this was a possibility!

 

ROB: Why’d she resign, she admitted to sleeping with a staffer on her campaign, but not sleeping with someone on her congressional staff.

 

MCKENZIE: You think maybe she wasn’t being entirely honest? (Rob sighs and rubs his temples) You should be thrilled about this! You could be a Congressman within a few months now that a special election is coming.

 

ROB: But I have so much on my plate already! BeBitched, Susan B. Trippin’, my sobriety! I still need to fly to Vermont to pick up that mix CD I left at Kim’s house…

 

MCKENZIE: Didn’t you tell me your sister lives in NYC now?

 

ROB: FUCK! Who KNOWS where that CD went?!

 

MCKENZIE: Rob! Relax, okay? It’ll all be alright.

 

ROB: Alright!? We have to throw out ALL of our oppo research on Hill, which somehow managed to miss this, by the way! Plus, what about our ad?!

 

MCKENZIE: Well, I re-cut it, removed all references to Katie Hill, and here’s how it looks.

 

(McKenzie takes out her phone and plays the re-cut ad. It opens on a shot of the “Robert Altmire for CA-25” logo, with the slogan “Grace, Charm & Swagger for the Simi Valley”)

 

ROB: (OV) I’m Robert Altmire, and you know damn well I approve this message. (Cut to Rob at an LA Fitness, on a workout bench lifting seventy-five pounds. He does one rep and sets the weights down. He sits up and looks in the camera) Oh, hi, didn’t see you come in. I suspect you’re admiring me. Well. I’m glad. Because as you can see, only I have the- (He points up to the “LA Fitness” logo on the wall above him) “fitness” to represent LA in Congress. The part of LA county that includes Santa Clarita and the Simi Valley, that is. K-

 

(Cut to a shot of Imogen wearing American military fatigues, surrounded by other servicemen and women, smiling into the camera)

 

IMOGEN: (American accent) Look at his sinewy muscles!
 

(Cut to the “Robert Altmire for CA-25” logo again and then fade to black. McKenzie puts away her phone)

 

ROB: …I mean, it’s not bad-

 

MCKENZIE: YES IT IS! This whole campaign revolves around your personal animus with Katie Hill. Now we have to somehow redirect that to Christy Smith.

 

ROB: Who’s she?

 

MCKENZIE: State assemblywoman who already announced she’s running for the seat.

 

(Rob gives off a deep sigh)

 

ROB: …We can easily change our #KatiesOverTheHill to… (Rob shrugs) #ChristysOverTheSmith?

 

(McKenzie shakes her head)

 

MCKENZIE: Of course we can’t use that.

 

ROB: Fuck.

 

MCKENZIE: It’s also more than a bit awkward that Hill had to resign for the exact same thing TBS fired you over.

 

ROB: Hopefully it doesn’t come up at the debates.

 

MCKENZIE: Oh, I’m sure it won’t.  (McKenzie stands up) Let’s try to find what we can on Christy Smith. Also you might want to spend more time at that apartment you have in Santa Clarita that you never go to.

 

ROB: …I used to meet up with hookers there, if that counts.

 

MCKENZIE: It doesn’t.

 

(McKenzie leaves. Rob sighs, lies back and spins around in his chair. Cut to a film class at UCLA. A scruffy film professor is lecturing a large lecture hall about Italian Director Federico Fellini. A few titles are written on the board- “8 1/2, La Strada and Amarcord”. Noel is taking notes on his laptop)

 

PROFESSOR CROSBY: What you see in Fellini’s three most famous films are common, interwoven themes. They may seem different on the surface, but as the old cliché goes, directors make one film and keep making it over and over again. (Polite laughter) So what are the common themes between something like La Strada and 8 ½? (Long beat) Shall we watch them again? I have all day, of course. (Noel raises his hand. Crosby sighs) Yes, Noel?

 

(Noel lowers his hand)

 

NOEL: Well, I think that whenever somebody makes a series of films, the common themes aren’t even consciously inserted, they just take a story and make it into a film and their ideologies and biases seep through, you know it’s interesting how the human mind works in such a slovenly way, we’re always following the path of least resistance, whether it’s with stuff like confirmation bias or stuff like that, we sort of follow these avenues which reinforce what we already believe and don’t require us to think critically about-

 

PROFESSOR CROSBY: THANK YOU, Mr. Masterson, for another coke-fueled rant without the coke, anybody else?

 

(Noel smirks, embarrassed as he continues to take notes. He eyes a girl about his age named Jill, sitting in the far-left corner of the room, smiling at him. She’s white, petite and has strawberry blonde hair. Noel smiles back at her. Cut to after class, as students are funneling out. Noel and Jill are walking together toward the door to the outside. It’s evidently night time)

 

JILL: I thought you made a good point about authorship in films, the way he responded was dumb.

 

NOEL: I can always stand to be more concise.

 

JILL: Honestly, I like movies, but this class is too much for me. I still don’t know what “semiotics” are and I’ve skimmed the Wikipedia article several times.

 

(Noel chuckles)

 

NOEL: Maybe we should study together. That test is in about a week.

 

JILL: Yeah, let’s do that. When are you free?

 

NOEL: Oh God, almost never. I’m a full-time student and have a full-time job.

 

JILL: Jeez. So can we study at all?

 

NOEL: I guess I could squeeze you in on Sunday, from around 6:15 to 6:40 AM?

 

JILL: So, for like, twenty-five minutes early Sunday morning?

 

NOEL: Yeah, is that Gucci with you?

 

JILL: Yeah, I guess it’ll have to be.

 

(Noel smirks. Noel gives her his phone)

 

NOEL: Go ahead and put in your number.

 

(Jill nods and puts in her number. Cut to Noel pulling up into his driveway. He gets out of his car and walks in the front door. Cut to Noel walking into the living room to see Bonnie asleep on the couch, watching a murder mystery show on ID, featuring a grainy image of a seemingly happy young couple, a blonde woman and a black-haired man)

 

NARRATOR: Everything seemed at ease in Noah and Beverly’s suburban California home. He was a filmmaker. She was an adult film star. Until suddenly, one of them murdered the other. (The picture goes negative filter) Who killed who!? Find out after the-

 

(Noel turns the TV off. He walks over to Bonnie, sits beside her and shakes her awake)

 

NOEL: Bonnie?

 

(Bonnie stretches and yawns)

 

BONNIE: What is it, Jesus…

 

NOEL: It’s only 9pm, I didn’t think you’d be asleep.

 

BONNIE: I didn’t think you’d be waking me up to beg me for sex, yet here we are again.

 

NOEL: …I’m not gonna beg you-

 

BONNIE: Well, I’m tuckered out from the dudes I screwed on camera today, so, sorry.

 

(Noel sighs)

 

NOEL: Just go back to sleep.

 

(Noel gets up and walks into their bedroom. Cut to Noel sitting on the toilet in his bathroom, rubbing one out while using another hand to look at porn on his phone. He stops for a second, goes to Facebook, looks up “Jill Wright” and finds her profile. He goes to her pictures and finds one of her posing with her friends on Venice Beach. He begins jerking off again. Cut to Miles at a gay bar called “GUYZ GAYZ & GIRLZ”. The attendance is sparse as synth-heavy EDM plays over the loudspeaker. Miles is at the bar, drinking a martini while scrolling through his phone. Ricky Van Veen walks over with a beer in hand)

 

RICKY: Hey, Miles! What’s going on, man?

 

(Miles furrows his brow in utter befuddlement)

 

MILES: Ricky, what are you doing here?

 

RICKY: Well, I figured, now that I’m back on the market I need to put myself back out there.

 

MILES: Ricky, this is a gay bar.

 

(Ricky looks around)

 

RICKY: Exclusively?

 

MILES: …Yeah!

 

RICKY: But it’s called “Guyz Gayz & Girlz”?

 

MILES: Lesbians, dummy!

 

(Ricky shrug)

 

RICKY: I see. (Ricky sips his drink) Still could be bisexuals.

 

MILES: Still, why would it be your first choice?

 

RICKY: Speaking of my loneliness, why weren’t you at my divorce-anniversary party three or four weeks back?

 

MILES: …Because you didn’t invite me!?

 

RICKY: I know, but I thought sure you would be a plus-one to somebody at the company, considering those Chinese execs were there and everything. You should’ve seen that mess, by the way. What a disaster that party was, Rob embarrassed himself so bad.

 

MILES: Also, Whitney nearly got raped?

 

RICKY: Yeah, that was pretty bad too.

 

MILES: Wait, are you saying you allowed plus-ones?

 

RICKY: Fuck yeah, I did. Actually having a Halloween Party this Thursday that’s divorce themed, basically you dress as the object your dad threw during your parents’ worst fight.

 

MILES: Dick statue.

 

RICKY: Coffee machine. Wait, what was yours?

 

(Miles grimaces)

 

MILES: That pisses me off. She didn’t tell me about “plus-ones”.

 

RICKY: AWKWAAAAARD! (Ricky chuckles) You want to get blackout? Because I’m very sad.

 

MILES: Give me the numbers for those Wanmei execs. I think I can do better than Rob.

 

RICKY: That’s a bet you’re not terribly likely to fail if you…make…that…bet.

 

MILES: Nice. Just give them to me. Ricky pulls out his phone and scrolls through it. Cut to Miles on the phone outside “GUYZ, GAYZ & GIRLZ”) Come on, pick up…

 

(Cut to Zhang sitting at his desk in a massive office in Beijing. It’s the late afternoon there. He is scrolling through the news on an iPad- he sees a headline that reads “???????? ?????? ????????”,  which translates as “No Hong Kong News Today. And why would there be? Nothing of import is happening there”. Suddenly, he gets a call on his cell phone, and he recognizes it as being from America. He cautiously answers)

 

ZHANG: ???

 

(Cut to Miles on the phone outside the gay bar. Intercut between them)

 

MILES: Hello, honey bun, have I got a pitch for you.

 

ZHANG: I sorry, I do not understand this very well.

 

MILES: Right, my apologies, honey bun. (Miles clears his throat) I am sorry for how tall, chain-smoking dick-bag treated you at party in Los Angeles. I am smart, I know how to pitch, I made hundreds of movies over thirty years. All I need is meeting.

 

ZHANG: Surprisingly, I understood all that.

 

MILES: Good. Look, I know your audience is hard, I know the Xi regime is tough, but I would be willing to compromise everything in order to get this movie made. Profit is my only interest, as I’m sure it is yours.

 

ZHANG: Yes, it is.

 

MILES: Great! Should we make time for phone call?

 

ZHANG: …No.

 

MILES: Come on, sweetheart, I know you’re a softie- what will it take to break that crumb-cake exterior?

 

ZHANG: Okay, now I don’t understand.

 

MILES: Sorry, sorry, I get complicated when I flirt.

 

ZHANG: Let’s meet in China.

 

MILES: …Oh.

 

ZHANG: Yes. Come to Beijing and I will hear you out.

 

MILES: Absolutely! I just need to ask Whitney, she’d probably come too. Don’t worry, though, Rob won’t be there.

 

ZHANG: No, Rob should come.

 

MILES: What?! Why?

 

ZHANG: He embarrassed us, he need to apologize and seek our forgiveness. Then we know he will be reliable partner.

 

(Miles nods)

 

MILES: I can do that.

 

ZHANG: Thank you, Mister…what was your name?

 

MILES: Grothman…Miles Grothman. Proud Director of Alien AIDs & Human Slaves. Surely my magnum opus in the making.

 

ZHANG: We need to talk about that name.

 

MILES: Right, of course. (Cut to Monday Morning. Miles is angrily waiting in an elevator. He gets to the third floor of Stone Productions’ old building and rushes toward their suite. He opens the door to their suite and finds that it’s cleaned out. Completely empty) …Hello?!

 

(Miles wanders into Rob’s office, but only sees two homeless guys playing dice. They look up at him with paranoia in their eyes)

 

HOMELESS MAN: I’m just here for some AC and a dice game, dude, no harm, no foul.

 

(Miles sighs)

 

MILES: Would’ve been nice of them to tell me. (Miles gets down on his knee) I’ll stay for a couple games, then I’m gone.

 

(Cut to Whitney sitting in her new office, which is to the right of the creative lounge and to the left of Evelyn’s office and Rob’s office. She’s listlessly sipping on a smoothie while she watches a YouTube video  of a cat pawing at its mirror image. Whitney chuckles as Alec pokes his head in)

 

ALEC: Whitney, your 11am is here.

 

WHITNEY: I don’t have an 11am, Alec, I told you to pay close attention to the schedule-

 

(Miles walks in, seething)

 

MILES: I’M your 11am.

 

ALEC: Sorry, he seemed mad and I didn’t want him to yell at me. Have fun.

 

(Alec walks away. Whitney furrows her brow)

 

WHITNEY: What’s wrong?

 

(Miles sits down)

 

MILES: I know you intentionally kept me from Ricky’s party.

 

WHITNEY: Can we not talk about Ricky’s party?

 

(Miles takes a deep breath)

 

MILES: Honestly, it’s water under the bridge. But I spoke to Zhang on the phone, the guy who Rob shit his britches in front of. He wants to give us another chance. He wants you, me and Rob to meet him in Beijing.

 

(Whitney perks up)

 

WHITNEY: Beijing?

 

MILES: That’s right.

 

WHITNEY: Rob too?

 

MILES: Yes, they want him to…repent.

 

WHITNEY: …Wow…this is good work, Miles.

 

MILES: Thank you.

 

WHITNEY: McKenzie should come too.

 

MILES: You sure?

 

WHITNEY: She’s third-in-command. It’s about time we looped her in on this. (Miles nods) Jesus. It’d be so nice to leave LA for a while.

 

MILES: I know, it’s so polluted!

 

(Whitney chuckles. Cut to an establishing shot of a rinky-dink apartment complex called “Santa Clarita Luxury Hovels”. Cut to Rob walking up the stairs to the door of his second-floor apartment, 26B. He stares at it for a second, unlocks the door and pushes it open. It’s an empty apartment, filled with dust, and containing only a lawn chair and fridge. Rob walks over to the lawn chair)

 

ROB: Fucking on this was always so uncomfortable. (Rob gets a call from Whitney and answers it) What’s up? (Long beat) Are you serious!?

 

(Cut to Rob, Whitney, Miles and McKenzie in the new conference room, which now includes a couch area and coffee table adjacent to the long table. They’re seated around the coffee table)

 

MILES: So, the flights should be for a few weeks from now. All we need now is a cohesive pitch, we’re gonna need to all work together on it.

 

MCKENZIE: This is amazing, I’ve never even been to Mexico. (Beat) Oh God, I need to drive to Mexico or else I’ll feel like I’ve skipped over the basic stuff.

 

WHITNEY: What?

 

MCKENZIE: You think I have time to book a European vacay before we head to China?

 

ROB: The answer is no- this all seems very time-consuming.

 

WHITNEY: Your point?

 

ROB: No point, just saying, some people have a lot on their plates. Sobriety. Winning a seat in Congress. Suing Extenze for false advertising. Stuff like that.

 

(Whitney leans forward)

 

WHITNEY: Rob, at a certain point, you’re gonna have to choose what’s more important to you. This totally viable run for Congress, or this company.

 

(Whitney leans back. Rob nods solemnly)

 

MCKENZIE: You know what’s funny? Kevin’s flying to China in a few weeks. I wonder if we’ll be there at the same time. Maybe I won’t tell him. Surprises are fun, right?!

 

MILES: Honey, you are asking for trouble.

 

WHITNEY: No, she’s just on a bipolar upswing. Good for you, Kenz.

 

MCKENZIE: Thanks!!

 

(McKenzie beams. Cut to several days later. Rob and McKenzie sitting in Rob’s office, watching Katie Hill’s final speech on the House floor. McKenzie is dressed as a skinny Jonah Hill and Rob is dressed as Paulie from The Sopranos)

 

REP. HILL: I am leaving. But we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in board rooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all, in the Oval Office.

 

MCKENZIE: Gotta hand it to her, that’s pretty powerful.

 

ROB: Yeah.

 

MCKENZIE: Probably would be even more so if we weren’t wearing these costumes.

 

ROB: Probably.

 

(Imogen appears in the doorway and knocks on the door frame, dressed as Mrs. Maisel and holding a bag of Chik-Fil-a)

 

IMOGEN: Knock knock.

 

MCKENZIE: Hey, Imogen.

 

IMOGEN: Hey, Kenz! Any other neat facts you fancy dispensing about my boyfriend here?

 

(McKenzie forces a laugh and playfully punches Imogen on the shoulder, a bit too hard)

 

MCKENZIE: That’s good stuff!

 

IMOGEN: Ow.

 

MCKENZIE: Just real quick, Rob- (Rob stands up and kisses Imogen on the mouth) we still don’t know when the special election will be, but all we need to do is make sure Smith doesn’t get over 50% of the vote, and it’ll move to a runoff between the top two vote-getters. Just gotta make sure you’re one of ‘em. Something to keep in mind.

 

ROB: Thanks, Kenz.

 

IMOGEN: What are you, by the way, McKenzie?

 

MCKENZIE: I’m thin Jonah Hill. My boyfriend is fat Jonah Hill. Behold.

 

(McKenzie smiles and leaves. Rob grabs the bag, opens it, unwraps the chicken sandwich and goes to town)

 

ROB: Goddamn, thank you so much, babe.

 

IMOGEN: Babe, are you sure focusing on the election stuff is what you need right now?

 

ROB: Are you kidding? Even if I somehow don’t beat Smith’s ass in the special election, I could easily knock her off in the regularly scheduled general next November.

 

IMOGEN: But what about your sobriety? I don’t want to see you taking shots with Iowans, like 2008 Hillary Clinton.

 

ROB: How do you know that reference?

 

IMOGEN: The Daily Show, I think?

 

ROB: Trust me, there are no Iowans in the Simi Valley, thank God. (Rob finishes his sandwich) Tell no one I said that.

 

IMOGEN: Search me for a wire, if you’d like.

 

ROB: Oh, I’d like.

 

(They laugh as Rob takes Imogen by the hips and start making out with her. Cut to Rob and McKenzie sitting at a booth in a bar, sitting across from former California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman, a built, olive-skinned man in his very early 60s. Eric and McKenzie have beers, but Rob has a soda)

 

ERIC: Thanks so much for meeting me.

 

ROB: Well. You championed me during my first run. Until you abandoned me.

 

MCKENZIE: Rob, stay focused.

 

ROB: Anyway, Christy Smith, what have you heard?

 

ERIC: Nothing at all. She’s some Assemblywoman from Santa Clarita, seems solid. Can you please give me a job on your campaign?

 

(Rob and McKenzie exchange glances)

 

ROB: No!
 

MCKENZIE: Of course not!

 

ERIC: WHY!?

 

MCKENZIE: You were fired due to accusations of sexual misconduct, honestly, I was against meeting you to begin with.

 

ROB: And why did you insist on a bar? I told you I’m a recovering alcoholic.

 

ERIC: I just- I spend a lotta time here, I feel comfortable here, and I NEED- (Eric breaks down in tears) I need a goddamn job, okay?! I will do any job for you-

 

ROB: Okay, I think we should-

 

ERIC: I can’t stand for my kids to see me like this, I’ll do anything! I’ll be the intern!

 

MCKENZIE: We don’t have interns-

 

ERIC: I’ll scrub floors, I’ll shine shoes, I’ll- I’ll suck your dick, man-

 

MCKENZIE: I think that’s what got you in trouble to begin with, bud.

 

(Rob and McKenzie stand up)

 

ROB: Nice meeting you-

 

(Eric gets on his knees)

 

ERIC: I will lick your goddamn shoes, Rob-

 

ROB: What- WHAT BENEFIT WOULD I GET FROM THAT!?

 

ERIC: Please, just-

 

(Rob and McKenzie walk away as Eric sobs. Rob stops in his tracks as he hears a fresh beer being poured straight from the tap. He looks over at it)

 

MCKENZIE: Rob. Stay strong.

 

(Rob takes a deep breath)

 

ROB: …Mindfulness…

 

MCKENZIE: …What?

 

ROB: Sorry, Marianne used to tell me to say that whenever I got stressed.

 

(Cut to Rob pacing around outside their new office, smoking. McKenzie walks outside with a cigarette in her mouth)

 

MCKENZIE: Jesus, stop pacing, you’re making me nervous.

 

(Rob stops in his tracks)

 

ROB: Sorry. (McKenzie lights her cigarette and exhales the smoke) There’s a ton of stress right now, and nothing else I can put in my body to kill it. Kill the stress, I mean.

 

MCKENZIE: Right, you’re definitely killing it overall.

 

(Rob takes another drag)

 

ROB: …I don’t know if I can do this…

 

MCKENZIE: You’re just now realizing you may not be able to defeat a state assemblywoman for a Federal House seat?

 

ROB: No, I just…I don’t know if I have it in me to even try. The election seemed so far away and now it’s so close. We have NOTHING on Smith. And now I’m going to China. I mean, this will be the most controversial China visit since NIXON if I take it in the middle of this campaign.

 

(McKenzie takes a drag)

 

MCKENZIE: Doubtful.

 

(Rob sniffs the air)

 

ROB: I can’t even enjoy my cigarettes when that goddamn beer smell is in the air.

 

MCKENZIE: You chose this location!

 

(Rob angrily stamps the cigarette out under his foot and storms inside. McKenzie blows smoke out of her nose and stares off. Cut to Noel sitting in the assistant’s pool, studying his film textbook. Rob comes over with a stack of scripts and plops it on his desk. Noel looks up)

 

ROB: I’m pawning this shit off on you. I’ve got too much on my plate, you can understand.

 

(Rob walks away)

 

NOEL: No! No, I don’t understand! (Noel picks up a script and looks at the title- “Entourage Spec Script by Justin Shuffley”. Noel sighs heavily) Fuck. (Noel begins reading it. Cut to Michael and Julia sitting in the intern lounge, located at the front of the office, next to the kitchenette. They’re both reading scripts. Noel comes over with a stack of scripts and papers) Michael! Julia! What’s up, guys?!

 

MICHAEL: Not too much, man, how about you?

 

JULIA: You’re holding scripts, just get to the point.

 

NOEL: Not just scripts! Research!

 

(Noel dumps the stacks on the table)

 

JULIA: Oh, God, please no-

 

MICHAEL: How exciting!

 

NOEL: Read the scripts, do coverage and do research on female celebrities who might be comfortable with nudity. I know you can do it!
 

(Noel smiles and walks away)

 

MICHAEL: What a challenge!

 

JULIA: Fuck this.

 

(Julia picks up the pile of scripts. Cut to Rob in his office, sitting forward in his seat scratching his cheeks. Julia comes in and plops the pile of scripts on Rob’s desk)

 

ROB: What is this?!

 

JULIA: Noel pawned this on us and we have no idea what it is.

 

ROB: My God! I assigned him to look at naked celebrities, and he couldn’t even do that. (Rob stands up and walks out of his office. Rob walks over to Noel) Noel, you can’t dump shit on the interns without my say-so, dude. And you need written permission if you want to literally dump it on their heads.

 

(Noel turns around)

 

NOEL: I’m sorry, Rob, I just have this test next week and I need to study for it, very badly. I’m not doing great in this class because I’m a full-time student with a full-time job and a girlfriend.

 

(Rob sighs)

 

ROB: Fine, just go home for the day.

 

NOEL: You sure?

 

ROB: Yeah, go ahead.

 

NOEL: Thank you so much, Rob. (Noel grabs his backpack) Can I literally dump the scripts on Julia’s head before I go?

 

ROB: No, I’ll take care of that.

 

(Noel smiles and leaves)

 

JULIA: Don’t you fucking dare- (Rob takes the scripts and drop the papers all over her head. She stands there with an angry grimace) …you fuckers don’t even pay me.

 

(Cut to Noel in Jill’s dorm room. They’re sitting on her bed with textbooks and papers everywhere)

 

JILL: “Auteur Theory, derived from the concept of camera-stylo, or camera as pen, holds that the director is more of the author a film than the screenwriter”.

 

NOEL: Pretty straightforward.

 

JILL: Sure you don’t want to rant about it for ten minutes?

 

(Noel smirks)

 

NOEL: …Who’s your favorite auteur?

 

JILL: Well, I like Cuaron a lot. Very versatile.

 

NOEL: Is it just for Harry Potter, or?

 

JILL: No, asshole, it’s for his early stuff, too.

 

NOEL: Like Y Tu Mama Tambien?

 

JILL: Yeah! Who doesn’t like a good road movie about sexual discovery?

 

(Noel shrugs)

 

NOEL: It’s not everybody’s thing. I mean, I like it, but I prefer Bertolucci.

 

JILL: Last Tango in Paris? The movie about a widow in an anonymous sexual relationship-

 

NOEL: Yeah, exactly.

 

(Jill nods)

 

JILL: That’s a good one. (Noel nods and looks around awkwardly) Love Von Trier, too.

 

NOEL: Oh yeah, Melancholia and Antichrist are two of the most adventurous movies-

 

JILL: Eh, I prefer Nymphomaniac.

 

NOEL: Oh. You mean the one about-

 

JILL: Sex, exactly.

 

(Long beat as they stare at each other. They quickly start making out with each other. They go for several seconds, but Noel backs away)

 

NOEL: Hold on.

 

JILL: What?

 

NOEL: I can’t-

 

(Jill leans back in)

 

JILL: Sure you can-

 

(Noel backs away)

 

NOEL: No, I really can’t.

 

JILL: Why do you- oh. You have somebody, don’t you?

 

NOEL: …I do. Sorry.

 

JILL: …Does she go here? (Noel shakes her head) Where does she go?

 

NOEL: She went to…Juvy. Graduated from that in 2007. Graduated from High School three years later-

 

JILL: Wait. You’re dating a 30-year old?

 

NOEL: …She’s 28…we live together.

 

(Jill scoffs)

 

JILL: Good luck on the test.

 

(Jill takes her books and backpack and leaves. Noel looks after her)

 

NOEL: …This is your dorm room, you want me to leave?

 

(Jill comes back and sits down)

 

JILL: Yes, please go.

 

(Cut to Miles sitting in Whitney’s office several days later. Whitney is looking at a CNN article entitled “Top U.S. Diplomat Changes Testimony to Admit Quid Pro Quo on U.S. aide and Biden Investigation”. Miles shifts in his chair)

 

MILES: …So, I spoke with Zhang-

 

WHITNEY: One second, Miles.

 

MILES: Ah-okay.

 

(Whitney clicks over to an article entitled “Key Governor Races in Kentucky, Mississippi Today, Dems Fight for Majorities in VA House & Senate”)

 

WHITNEY: (Mumbling) …So I guess everyone just forgot about Northam’s blackface, huh?

 

MILES: Do you want me to wait outside?

 

WHITNEY: Just one more second, Miles.

 

MILES: Why did you tell me to come in?

 

(Whitney minimizes the window and looks at Miles)

 

WHITNEY: What’s up?

 

MILES: Spoke with Zhang, the meeting is set for the 22nd. That’s subject to change, but we should book the flights for around then.

 

WHITNEY: Terrific! You’re gonna need to do the bulk of the pitching on this, Miles. It was a mistake not to include you the first time.

 

MILES: Yeah, no shit!

 

WHITNEY: Hey! My bad! Jesus, get over it. (Miles frowns) You sure you’re up for it, though? This is a lot of money we’re looking at here.

 

MILES: I’m sure. (Cut to Miles sitting in his house, staring at the TV, while a transgender woman named Raquel, the one from VTEP1, kisses on his neck) I’m not sure about this China stuff, at all.

 

RAQUEL: You’ll do great, honey-

 

(Miles gets up and paces around)

 

MILES: I don’t know that I will! Remember when I used to make those docudramas back in the early 90s?

 

RAQUEL: I’m 21 years old.

 

MILES: Well, anyway, I filmed a documentary about Chinatown that was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Most Racist Documentary”.

 

RAQUEL: Well, at least you didn’t win?

 

MILES: ARE YOU KIDDING!? A Golden Globe would be great.

 

RAQUEL: Does that category really exist?

 

MILES: I’m honestly not sure, I was on a lot of drugs back then.

 

(Cut to Whitney sitting in her office, staring at the wall and enjoying a glass of wine. Rob comes in)

 

ROB: Jesus, Whitney, do you mind?

 

(Whitney puts the glass under her desk)

 

WHITNEY: Sorry about that, what’s up?

 

ROB: You know, AA has really helped me-

 

WHITNEY: Stop. Bring something else up or go.

 

(Rob sighs and sits down)

 

ROB: …I’m going to China.

 

WHITNEY: Why did you think you had a choice in this matter?

 

ROB: What is this, communist Chi-…uh, Britain? Communist Britain?

 

WHITNEY: Britain’s not communist…yet, anyway, of course you’re going to China. This deal will blow up the size of this company. And you are of the essence to it. Listen- AFM is going on right now in Santa Monica. We rented one hotel room and only have Evelyn and Luther in there. They’re probably just using it for sex, because couldn’t get that many meetings.

 

(Rob sighs)

 

ROB: We have no footprint in film.

 

WHITNEY: Not yet. But this will secure that.

 

ROB: …It’s not gonna be good for my campaign. Getting into bed with China, while this whole Hong Kong thing is going on?

 

WHITNEY: What Hong Kong thing?

 

ROB: I don’t know the specifics, but I know China and Hong Kong have beef.

 

WHITNEY: …I know. But we’re going to be, neutral on it. (Tense moment) It’s not great. But sometimes you have to lose who you are in order to become who you want to be.

 

ROB: Which is a rich person?

 

WHITNEY: Right!

 

ROB: …Maybe this is good. You know, forgive me if this sounds silly, but sometimes I suspect I never really wanted a seat in Congress. I just want to get back at Katie Hill to redress a grievance against you for taking my career down and to assuage me go. In many ways, it’s almost like Katie Hill took your place, she was an effigy for me to abuse in order to express my repressed resentment toward you for ending my time in the spotlight.

 

WHITNEY: …Jesus Christ, did you quote your therapist verbatim or something?

 

ROB: …Yeah, I know it’s stupid.

 

WHITNEY: I didn’t say that, I think it’s dead-on, my God, sobriety has made you more self-aware.

 

ROB: Book the tickets.

 

WHITNEY: I already did!

 

(Rob stands up and goes for the door. He stops and turns to look at Whitney)

 

ROB: Book the hotel room.

 

WHITNEY: Everything is booked! This is not the dramatic moment you think it is- (Rob walks away) and there he goes.

 

(Cut to Rob sitting in his office. He picks up the phone dials a number. He patiently waits. Cut to Katie Hill standing on a balcony. She gets a call from a number she doesn’t recognize and answers. Intercut between Rob and Katie)

 

KATIE: Hello?

 

ROB: WHASSSUUUUUUUp!?

 

KATIE: What in the fuck?

 

ROB: I have something serious to discuss, Katie.

 

KATIE: Then why did you do a super-dated reference to a beer ad?

 

ROB: Katie. You know who this is?

 

(Katie sighs)

 

KATIE: Give me one reason not to hang up.

 

ROB: Katie. I’m sorry. Not only for my occasionally unfair attacks on you and my personal animus, but also for the circumstances leading to your resignation.

 

(Katie looks down, licks her lips and looks ahead)

 

KATIE: Thanks, Rob. Is that all?

 

ROB: All those leaked photos, the revenge porn, it’s really disgusting that these people would do that to you.

 

KATIE: Get to the point, Robert.

 

ROB: I’ll just also say, I know how it feels to lose your job for sleeping with a subordinate.

 

KATIE: Please don’t compare the two of us.

 

ROB: We are practically blood, Katie! Both white, both from CA-25-

 

KATIE: You are NOT-

 

ROB: Both flawed. We both like women! We both lead extravagant lives full of sex and drugs! We both give and receive haircuts in the nude!

 

KATIE: Rob. I have one thing to ask of you, and this is me doing you a favor. Don’t embarrass yourself by running for CA-25 against Christy Smith. Drop out. It’ll save you a lot of grief going forward.

 

(Rob gives a deep sigh and hangs up. Cut to Rob in his kitchen, standing behind the island with a camera trained on him, manned by Imogen. He’s wearing a blue jean shirt and a hat that says “Altmire for CA-25”)

 

ROB: You ready, Imogen?

 

IMOGEN: …Just tell me when you’re ready.

 

(Rob nods)

 

ROB: Hello, people of California’s 25th. I’m Robert Altmire, but you might know me as “Santa Clarita’s Favorite Son”. Katie Hill is gone. Now, Christy Smith think she’s ENTITLED to her seat. But I’m here to tell you that she’s not. I, or my personally appointed representatives, have been to COUNTLESS cook-outs in Santa Clarita and the Simi Valley, and one thing that everyone agrees on is that establishment Democrats like Hill and Smith just don’t GET us! Oh, and we also agree that my- (Rob takes out a bowl of potato salad) potato salad is tops. (Rob smiles) The secret is using a whole cup of Mayonnaise instead of half a cup. That’s how my old man used to make it, except he added- (Rob looks at Imogen) what is this, a fucking cooking show?!

 

IMOGEN: YOU wrote this script!
 

ROB: Well, it goes off an unhinged tangent about goddamn potato salad from here!
 

(Rob angrily throws the potato salad into a nearby trash can)

 

IMOGEN: Hey! We could’ve eaten that!
 

ROB: No, we couldn’t have, it’s inedible. Turn the camera off.

 

(Imogen turns the camera and walks into the kitchen)

 

IMOGEN: Rob, what’s wrong?

 

(Rob smirks and walks over to Imogen)

 

ROB: …I’m going on a business trip in a couple weeks. Would you like to come with?

 

IMOGEN: I swear to God, if we’re going to D.C.-

 

ROB: No. (Rob inhales) I think I’m gonna take a break from the campaign.

 

IMOGEN: A break from the campaign you were just about to relaunch?

 

ROB: Yes.

 

IMOGEN: …Thank God! Where are we going?

 

ROB: (Trump impression) Chi-na.

 

IMOGEN: Gross.

 

ROB: Sorry.

 

IMOGEN: Why China?

 

ROB: It’s for business.

 

(Imogen smirks)

 

IMOGEN: I’d like to go to China.

 

ROB: Maybe we’ll stay there longer than we need to. It’d be nice to get away from LA for a while.

 

IMOGEN: Yeah, I suppose escaping the threat of “death by fire” would be nice.

 

(Rob smiles and kisses Imogen)

 

ROB: …I wish we could go right now.

 

IMOGEN: Well, we can’t get away from America right now, but we can get away from this house.

 

ROB: NOT another run!

 

IMOGEN: No, not a run. Let’s go on a hike!

 

ROB: …Hike?

 

(Rob shakes his head in confusion)

 

IMOGEN: It’s like a run, but with walking.

 

ROB: Oh, okay, cool. I’d be willing to try it!

 

(Cut to Noel sitting in his film class. He looks over and sees Jill walk by. She surreptitiously spots him, but quickly walks up the steps and sits several rows behind him. Noel puts on a depressed visage. Cut to Noel walking into his house. He sees Bonnie on the couch cutting her toenails. He walks over to her. She gets up)

 

BONNIE: Noel, I had a day off, so I think, you know, if you still want to…we can.

 

(Noel sits on the arm of a nearby chair)

 

NOEL: I don’t.

 

BONNIE: …What is this, dick-tag? When does a grown man not want to fuck? Have you gotten into porn too?

 

NOEL: I’ve BEEN into porn for a long time. I got into porn especially when I watched your stuff. Then I started dating you, and found you to be such a fascinating person. A person I love, but…you and I both know we can’t do this anymore.

 

(Bonnie gulps and sits down)

 

BONNIE: …You caught onto that, huh?

 

NOEL: I have. (Sigh) It’s the obvious things, we’re very different, it’s the age difference-

 

BONNIE: Jesus, Noel, I’m 27, I’m hardly a boomer.

 

NOEL: You’re a mid-Millennial. I’m one of the last millennials, arguably a zoomer. I have a Tik-Tok and a Twitch and I floss like a goddamn fiend.

 

BONNIE: What the fuck are you even saying?

 

NOEL: Exactly. Chasm of difference.

 

BONNIE: I floss, I have to, Saunders wants my teeth looking good for the camera-

 

NOEL: Stop. Okay? (Noel sighs and stands up) I feel like I must tell you, I found someone else. We haven’t done anything, but. I thought you should know that.

 

BONNIE: …Okay. (Catch in throat) I wish you two all the happiness your genitalia can provide.

 

(Bonnie stands up and hugs Noel, as tears collect in both of their eyes. Cut to Miles splashing water on his face in his bathroom. He looks into the mirror. He straightens his mustache and sniffs. Raquel comes in and hugs him from behind)

 

RAQUEL: You’re gonna do great in China, honey.

 

(Miles smiles and turns around)

 

MILES: And you’re gonna be a great leading lady.

 

(Raquel smiles)

 

RAQUEL: You think China is progressive enough to accept that?

 

MILES: They’re so progressive, they’re communist! (Raquel raises her eyebrows, like “seriously”?) They don’t need to know anything.

 

(Miles kisses Raquel. Cut to Jill walking out of her film class. Noel chases after her)

 

NOEL: Jill! (Jill turns to Noel as he skids to a stop in front of her) Jesus! I almost gave you a bloody nose-

 

JILL: Excuse me!?

 

NOEL: NO! I mean, like, because you stopped so suddenly! Christ no, not the other way!
 

JILL: What do you want?

 

NOEL: I broke up with Bonnie-

 

JILL: Well, I’ll have you know that I- what!?

 

NOEL: Bonnie and I are done. I wanna try us out.

 

JILL: …I was about to say that I started dating a male porn star out of revenge, but I have just now decided to break up with him.

 

(A hunky white guy in a tight t-shirt walks over)

 

PORN STAR: Hey, babe, you wanna-

 

(Jill pushes him away)

 

JILL: I don’t know you.

 

(Noel smiles and kisses Jill)

 

PORN STAR: Hey dude! S-stop that!

 

(Cut to Rob and Imogen hiking up the trail of a mountain overlooking the San Fernando Valley, carrying backpacks, sunscreen and wearing sunglasses. They make it to a plateaued point with a bench and a beautiful view of the Valley. Rob hugs his knees and has a coughing fit. Imogen grabs his arm and pulls him up as he clutches his mouth. Imogen rests her head on his shoulder as they admire the view)

 

IMOGEN: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

 

(Rob nods)

 

ROB: …Yes…

 

(A few lovely beats, but then Imogen perks up and begins sniffing)

 

IMOGEN: Do you smell that?

 

ROB: Yeah, is that…burning?

 

(Rob and Imogen look over and see a nearby brushfire)

 

ROB: oh, FUCK!
 

IMOGEN: LET’S GET THE FUCK OUT OF HEERE!
 

(Rob and Imogen run away. “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo plays as we cut to credits)

 

THE END


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