The Valley of the Tools Episode 35

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Robert and Imogen throw a pod party for their official wedding, an outdoor ceremony where every participant is required to have submitted proof that they tested negative on a COVID test and isolated for two weeks beforehand. Rob and Imogen feud over the Chinese direction he’s taken the decoration of their home. Whitney becomes obsessed with saving their Beijing office, even though production on Miles’ movie has been suspended for five months over COVID. McKenzie and Kevin work through their trust issues, but it doesn’t help that she keeps catching Kevin in compromising positions.

THE VALLEY OF THE TOOLS

 

“GRASS STAIN”

 

TV-MA DLS

 

“An obsession with the past is like a dead fly, and just a few things are related to the ‘old times’, where we did believe in magic and we did die. It’s not my words that you should follow, it’s your insides”

  • Noah B. Lennox

 

(We open on a Zoom conference, with only Whitney. She’s sitting in her apartment in Los Angeles, sipping an iced coffee. Her bedroom is a bit messy- unmade bed, closet door agape, clothes on the floor. A window pops in reading “Miles Grothman is in the waiting room”. Whitney presses admit, and he pops up. He’s on his back porch with a hot tea)

 

MILES: What up.

 

WHITNEY: Hey, thanks for coming on time. You don’t even work here and you’re timelier than these people.

 

MILES: Must be stuck in traffic, on their way back from an orgy.

 

WHITNEY: How’ve you been holding up without weird, homeless orgies by the way?

 

MILES: Love is a drug, Whitney, so you get withdrawals.

 

WHITNEY: You look at these orgies as acts of love?

 

MILES: Oh, I love every participant with my whole heart.

 

(McKenzie pops in. She’s in her living room, with a cup of hot coffee)

 

MCKENZIE: Sorry I’m late, I had to help Kevin with this puzzle he’s been working on for three months.

 

WHITNEY: You had to?

 

MCKENZIE: Being the only income earner in this household has made shit awkward, the least I can do is pretend like the challenges of his life matter.

 

MILES: Is Kevin in the house?

 

MCKENZIE: No, he’s in the backyard- (McKenzie sighs) finishing a model airplane.

 

MILES: Cool, so we can talk shit about him?

 

WHITNEY: Thank God.

 

MCKENZIE: No! Why would we do that?!

 

(Rob pops in)

 

ROB: We talkin’ shit about Kevin?

 

WHITNEY: You bet your ass we are!

 

ROB: Dude’s beard is so scraggly it’s like he lost it an accident and they had to graft his pubes onto his face!

 

(Everyone but McKenzie goes “ooooooooh!”)

 

MCKENZIE: You guys better knock it off, he’s coming to Rob’s party.

 

(Luther, Evelyn, Alec and Noel all pop in)

 

LUTHER: What about Rob’s party?

 

MCKENZIE: Kevin is coming. (Groans all around) Hey! Quit it, guys!

 

WHITNEY: I still don’t understand why you gave him a second chance.

 

MCKENZIE: Because I love him. Hillary gave Bill a second chance, and now they have a special on Hulu, so. Success is in our future. Please be nice to him, he’s been working hard in couple’s therapy to be better.

 

ROB: Ugh. Fine.

 

WHITNEY: Sure.

 

EVELYN: Okay.

 

WHITNEY: We should talk about business-

 

ROB: BUT FIRST! Pleasure.

 

MILES: I’m listening.

 

ROB: Everyone tested negative for COVID, so, congratulations.

 

(Everybody Applauds)

 

MILES: I fail to see how that’s sexy.

 

ROB: And I e-mailed you all a release form, and if you sign it, you are swearing, under the threat or perjury, that you have isolated yourself for the last two weeks, and thus, you are allowed to attend Imogen and I’s wedding reception at my house this Saturday.

 

MCKENZIE: Are gifts required?

 

ROB: Send all the gifts you got to us to a COVID-19 relief charity, or a Black Lives Matter organization, please.

 

WHITNEY: I got you a knife holder, what the fuck would a BLM charity do with that?

 

(Rob shrugs)

 

ROB: Might need it for the break room, I don’t know. Anyway. The theme is “Nights in Shanghai”, so kimonos and tunics are encouraged.

 

(Rob winks)

 

LUTHER: I hope that wink means that we don’t really gotta do that shit.

 

WHITNEY: Speaking of China-

 

(McKenzie checks her phone)

 

MCKENZIE: Harris is VP, by the way.

 

ROB: YES!

 

(Rob pumps his fist)

 

WHITNEY: Whatever.

 

ROB: I can’t believe I actually lived to see a black woman as a Vice Presidential nominee, and to think it’s a black woman that I happen to be close friends with! (Rob clutches his heart) This is a watershed moment for me.

 

LUTHER: She has a really problematic record as California Attorney General, though-

 

ROB: Congrats, Luther. You should call your mom after this, man. Actually, do it now, and we’ll record the meeting, see if we can’t go a little viral-

 

LUTHER: Fuck no.

 

WHITNEY: Guys! We’re focusing on business right now. Business is obviously in dire straits. We ceased production on everything five months ago. Rob and I left China, and our offices in China have a skeleton staff, and our financiers Yang and Li are threatening to cut off our money supply, forcing us to close our Beijing branch and destroying Miles’ movie.

 

MILES: I worked VERY- well, not hard, but I worked on that piece of shit movie, and I will see it through to completion! I always finish!

 

WHITNEY: Okay, enough of that. Anyway, they want a return date for production within the next few days, or we are cut the fuck off.

 

ROB: Why is he being so arbitrary? We’re not the ones causing huge COVID spikes across the world.

 

WHITNEY: He’s saying that COVID is not as bad in China anymore, and so it shouldn’t be a problem, but the cast and crew disagree.

 

EVELYN: Why don’t we simply threaten to terminate the cast and crew, so that we may intimidate them into doing what we want?

 

WHITNEY: Uhhhh, I wouldn’t go right there.

 

EVELYN: Curious. Well. You are my superior.

 

WHITNEY: Yes. Alec, schedule a call with Li and Yang for Friday at noon.

 

ALEC: Okay, but I think that’s like 3am Saturday for them.

 

WHITNEY: Right. Well. Schedule it for 4pm Saturday then, so like, 8am Sunday morning for them.

 

ALEC: Got it.

 

ROB: Wait, but, then you’ll have to leave my party early, so you can get up in the morning.

 

ALEC: Also, why are you scheduling it for the weekend anyway?

 

(Whitney sighs)

 

WHITNEY: …Fine. Just make it Thursday at whatever the fuck time means 4pm for them.

 

ALEC: 1am Thursday morning, it is.

 

WHITNEY: Fine. Fuck it, I’ll do that.

 

(Cut to Imogen chopping up celery in the kitchen. Rob walks over and starts kissing her on the neck from behind. Imogen smiles)

 

IMOGEN: What are you doing…

 

ROB: Performing my duties as husband…

 

(Imogen scoffs and turns to Rob)

 

IMOGEN: Don’t you have work to do?

 

ROB: Don’t you have movies to be, movie-ing in? (Imogen smiles and starts making out with Rob. Then, the doorbell sounds. Rob breaks away from Imogen and his eyes light up) It’s here!

 

(Rob runs to the door)

 

IMOGEN: What is, love?

 

(Rob opens the door and finds a big box, and a masked postal worker walking back to his truck. Rob turns to Imogen)

 

ROB: Imogen, babe, it’s finally here.

 

IMOGEN: What are you talking about?

 

(Rob rips the box open and pulls out a long, red, traditional Chinese Dragon costume. He puts it on his head and dances towards Imogen, as it unfurls behind him)

 

ROB: Watch, Imogen, as its beautiful red body gyrates in the dance of its people, or should I say- (Rob comes up to her and removes the dragon head) its dragon… people.

 

IMOGEN: …What the hell is this for?

 

ROB: It’s for the party.

 

IMOGEN: What?!

 

ROB: Yeah, the theme is “Nights in Shanghai”. Before you say anything, it’s not cultural appropriation, because we lived in China for THREE whole months!

 

IMOGEN: But we agreed on a vintage theme!

 

ROB: For our wedding reception! This not the wedding, or the reception, this is just a party. The Wedding will happen when all of our relatives can actually come and not be at risk of, you now, dying.

 

(Imogen gives a start)

 

IMOGEN: I still would’ve liked some input.

 

ROB: You have the food down, babe.

 

(Imogen turns to the kitchen, and walks over to the counter and picks up several recipes)

 

IMOGEN: I was gonna make shrimp and steak and fucking deviled eggs, it’s not on theme now!

 

ROB: Don’t worry about that- (Rob walks over to a cabinet. He bends down and reaches into it) I’ll balance it out with- (Rob pulls out a wok full of wrapped fortune cookies from Panda Express) all these fortune cookies I saved, the past few months.

 

IMOGEN: Why in a wok!?

 

ROB: To keep it even more on-theme! Now, let’s hang this Chinese Dragon up in the backyard. \

 

(Imogen scoffs)

 

IMOGEN: Whatever, fine.

 

(Doorbell)

 

ROB: Ooh! It just keeps getting better!

 

(Rob runs to the door and opens it up. Two postal employees in masks wheel in a big gong)

 

IMOGEN: Are you fucking kidding me!?

 

(The postal worker hands Rob the gong mallet. He whacks it, creating the classic gong hum)

 

ROB: Nope! Not a joke, at all.

 

IMOGEN: Have you thought about how this might offend our Asian guests? If we… had any…

 

 (Postal service guy hands Rob the clipboard)

 

POSTAL EMPLOYEE: Sign here.

 

(Rob signs the clipboard, and they leave)

 

ROB: Think of how much fun this thing will be, Imogen! If somebody cracks wise, BOOM! We hit the gong! Every experience is emphasized with just one WHACK!

 

(Rob whacks the gong once more. Imogen holds her ears and recoils)

 

IMOGEN: Stop!

 

ROB: Okay, but just prepare yourself, because this thing is gonna be a hit. Now, where were we?

 

(Rob walks over and starts making out with Imogen again. She lets her guard down once more. Rob reaches behind the kitchen counter and pulls up a Kimono. Imogen clocks it and pulls away from him)

 

IMOGEN: What the fuck is that!?

 

ROB: Relax! It’s for me.

 

(Cut to early Thursday morning, at around 1am. Whitney looks tired as hell, sitting on the couch in her living room with a phone to her ear)

 

WHITNEY: …Hello… (Whitney shakily brings a cup of coffee to her lips and sips it) …I’d like to speak to Li Qiang Min and Zhang Jun Yang, please.

 

(Cut to a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Chinese secretary at the Tingua Wanmei Studios office in Beijing. It’s around the late afternoon there. She’s drinking tea and wearing a bright pink blouse and a bright smile. Intercut between them)

 

SECRETARY: (Thick accent) Oh, that’s wonderful! They are such great people, aren’t they?

 

(Whitney rubs her eyes)

 

WHITNEY: …Yeah…could you put me through to them, please?

 

SECRETARY: They’re a little tied up right now, but I can keep you company until they get back!

 

WHITNEY: They’re not even there? What are they doing?

 

SECRETARY: They’re getting tied up by hookers in hotel room.

 

WHITNEY: Oh, so they’re literally tied up.

 

SECRETARY: Yes. Don’t you just love the late summer? Not quite Summer, not quite fall, it’s a little sweet spot.

 

(Whitney is grinding her teeth)

 

WHITNEY: …Yeah.

 

SECRETARY: Somebody complimented my necklace today! Don’t you love it when a stranger totally makes your day-

 

WHITNEY: Didn’t they know about this meeting?

 

SECRETARY: Yes, but they said it could be pushed if possible. I found a flower on my windshield this morning-

 

(Whitney angrily hangs up. She swallows her coffee whole and throws it on the coffee table. She picks up a bottle of whiskey and pours a little into the coffee cup, takes the shot, sets it down, lies her weary head on the pillow and pulls a blanket over herself. Cut to McKenzie’s house, that next morning. She’s in her home office, reading a script. Kevin walks in, with heavy stubble, a flight school t-shirt and sweatpants on. He’s holding a model 747)

 

KEVIN: Hey, can I borrow some cash, the card reader at the model store is broken-

 

MCKENZIE: What broke it?

 

KEVIN: I BROKE IT! Sorry, I broke it. But I need a runway for this bad boy to fly on to.

 

MCKENZIE: I don’t just have unlimited cash for this, admittedly adorable hobby, Kevin.

 

(Kevin sighs)

 

KEVIN: …Fine. I’ll make my own runway. Maybe I can use the sidewalk, assuming that dumbass kid isn’t still out there, playing with chalk.

 

(Kevin goes to leave)

 

MCKENZIE: Kevin. (Kevin steps back in) Remember, when you go to Rob’s party, be normal. Don’t be, like this.

 

KEVIN: I know. I got it.

 

MCKENZIE: Remember, they don’t like you right now.

 

KEVIN: I understand.

 

MCKENZIE: They think I should’ve broken up with you, after Beijing.

 

KEVIN: I got it, Kenz! Thanks.

 

MCKENZIE: Remember what Dr. Kaine says? Trust means doing what you promise. And you promised you’d tone things down.

 

KEVIN: I know, but I’m still gonna tell jokes.

 

MCKENZIE: Sure.

 

KEVIN: We all saw what happened last time we had a party and I couldn’t tell jokes, we got trapped in our own house.

 

MCKENZIE: I don’t think that had anything to do with- (Kevin leaves) alright. Buh-bye.

 

(McKenzie goes back to reading her script. Cut to Imogen in the kitchen taking “yin and yang” cupcakes out of the oven and putting them on the counter. She takes off her mitts)

 

ROB: (Muffled, in the distance) You’ve betrayed me, Jing! (Female voice) No, I have only followed mine own heart! Who among us has any choice, but to give into its flutters?

 

(McKenzie furrows her brow and starts heading upstairs)

 

MCKENZIE: Rob?

 

(McKenzie walks up to the second floor, and walks along the catwalk toward the spare bedroom)

 

ROB: (Muffled, OS) You will never get away with this, you wench! He is but a beast! (McKenzie walks up to the door of the spare bedroom and opens it. He finds Rob operating terrifying Chinese puppets with rods- a Geisha, a Samurai and a Dragon. Imogen screams and leaps back) Look, ho! It’s a woman hailing from the desert lands south of the equator!

 

(Rob gets closer with the samurai puppet. Imogen cowers in the corner)

 

IMOGEN: STOP!

 

(Rob holds the samurai puppet in her face and makes him bow)

 

ROB: I will protect you with my every act, my Empress.

 

(Imogen pushes the samurai away)

 

IMOGEN: ROB, STOP IT!

 

(Rob furrows his brow and puts the puppets down)

 

ROB: What?!

 

IMOGEN: What the fuck are you doing?!

 

ROB: I’m gonna do a little puppet Chinese puppet show, for the party!

 

IMOGEN: Rob, samurais and geishas are NOT even Chinese!

 

ROB: Well, I’m sorry if stories about farmers and bureaucrats aren’t nearly as thrilling.

 

IMOGEN: Rob, those are the creepiest fucking things I’ve ever seen. I don’t want them at our wedding party!

 

ROB: Imogen, I’ve spent this ENTIRE quarantine practicing my puppetry! You can’t just pull the oriental rug out from under me and let me fall through a Shanghai trap door!!

 

IMOGEN; You’ve been practicing this for MONTHS?!

 

ROB: Yeah!

 

IMOGEN: How the fuck did I not notice?!

 

ROB: I wanted it to be a surprise, so I only practiced while you were sleeping. But now, with so little time left, I have to practice even more, so I thought maybe you wouldn’t hear.

 

(Imogen sighs. Imogen gets up and looks Rob in the eyes)

 

IMOGEN: Fine. You can do your puppet show, but forgive me if I go to the bathroom while it’s happening.

 

ROB: What’s your issue with the puppets?

 

(The camera pushes in on Imogen, as she gives a thousand-yard stare)

 

IMOGEN: …I hate puppets…

 

(Imogen walks away swiftly. Rob looks after her, concerned. Cut to Saturday evening, outside Rob’s house. Cars are parked out front. Cut to inside, where we see Rob, Imogen and a man in a gray suit named Mr. Duplois. They’re all wearing masks. The house is decked out with Chinese decorations, wall runners made of Chinese characters, the gong, a Genghis Khan pinata, rice bowls, fortune cookies and sea food)

 

ROB: Imogen, meet Mr. Duplois, he assisted me with planning this shindig.

 

MR. DUPLOIS: (Southern accent) Marcus Duplois, Valley Event Planning.

 

(Duplois bumps elbows with Imogen)

 

IMOGEN: Pleasure to meet you. Why have you been a secret this whole time?

 

MR. DUPLOIS: Mr. Altmire wanted to keep tight-lipped about the whole thing.

 

IMOGEN: Of course, it’s only our wedding party.

 

ROB: Ah, you love it. (Rob gives Imogen a side-hug) Open the flood gates, Mr. Duplois!

 

(Mr. Duplois walks to the front door and opens it to see a line of people- Whitney, Bonnie, Miles, Alec, Tara, Luther and Evelyn, all wearing masks. Mr. Duplois jams the temperature taker on Whitney’s forehead)

 

WHITNEY: Oh. Thanks for warning me.

 

(The temperature comes up “98.6”)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: Looks good. Come on in, now.

 

(Whitney walks in and bumps elbows with Rob and Imogen. Bonnie walks up and Duplois shoves the temperature reader onto her forehead. It comes in at “99.3”)

 

BONNIE: Don’t worry, I run a little hot. Plus, I just scarfed down a bucket of hot wings in my car.

 

ROB: Let her in. (Duplois nods, and Bonnie walks in. Cut to just a few minutes later when everybody has been admitted and people are socializing. Rob and Imogen are in the kitchen. Imogen has a glass of wine and Rob has a cup of tea. Rob puts his down) Good a time as any.

 

IMOGEN: Please don’t.

 

(Rob puts on his kimono, grabs his bong mallet and thwacks the gong, so everybody turns their focus to him)

 

ROB: Ni Hao, everyone, and thank you for coming to our “Nights in Shanghai” themed wedding reception, I hope you enjoy the tea, egg rolls and calamari sliders.

 

(Cut to Kevin eating a calamari slider next to McKenzie)

 

KEVIN: These are great.

 

MCKENZIE: That southern guy who took our temperature kind of hurt my forehead-

 

ROB: I want to thank everyone for taking a COVID test and isolating for two weeks, so we could all be together. But let’s not be stupid. Keep your masks on unless you’re drinking! (Mild laughter) And let’s try not to touch anybody else, except our significant others. That means you, Kevin! (Nervous laughter. Kevin just grimaces) Come on, man, it’s just a joke.

 

KEVIN: (Annoyed) No, yeah, it’s good.

 

ROB: Alright. Well. We’ll be having some surprise activities and performances later, but first, I’d like to raise a glass to my wife, Imogen Poppy Deckland. (Rob raises his glass of tea. Everyone else raises their glasses. Imogen smiles) We got married by a Justice of the Peace last week, and even though we expected a bigger ceremony, with more celebrities, and possibly future Vice President Kamala Harris, we know that day will come at some point, but I think we’d both agree, we’d marry each other in the Bang Bus if we had to.

 

IMOGEN: He did scout that location.

 

ROB: As long as we get to spend the rest of our lives together. Ganbei.

 

(Rob raises the glass, and drinks it. Everyone else follows suit and repeats numerous misheard variations of “Ganbei”. Rob walks over and kisses Imogen on the mouth, causing attendees to cheer and applaud. Cut to a shot of Noel and Alec playing ping-pong in the upstairs game room. Cut to Evelyn in the kitchen, counting all of the straws, while Luther socializes with McKenzie. Cut to Miles sitting down on the couch and pulling his gym socks off, near Bonnie and Whitney. They’re pretty disgusted. Cut to Rob and Imogen speaking with Kevin and McKenzie in the living room. They each have a glass of wine, except for Rob who sticks with tea)

 

ROB: All joking aside, I really respect you guys for giving it another go.

 

MCKENZIE: Thank you-

 

KEVIN: Well, technically, it’s all one go. We never stopped going. It’s been three years of straight going.

 

MCKENZIE: Kevin, relax.

 

IMOGEN: I think what Rob is trying to say is it’s a testament to your love that your relationship has been able to survive Kevin’s infidelity.

 

MCKENZIE: And we thank you!

 

(Kevin bites his lip and nods, with his veins bulging)

 

KEVIN: Yep, yep, yep. Do we want to talk about other places I’ve put my dick? I’ve got a story about my high school gym socks I’ve been rearing to tell.

 

MCKENZIE: Kevin, take a walk.

 

KEVIN: Yes, ma’am.

 

(Kevin walks away)

 

MCKENZIE: Maybe lay off of him, guys.

 

ROB: As long as he stops laying on other women-

 

MCKENZIE: HE HAS.

 

(Rob nods respectfully and lowers his mask to sip his tea. Cut to Whitney speaking with Bonnie)

 

BONNIE: I really don’t mean to offend but leaving Stone Productions was a gift. My OnlyFans is skyrocketing in popularity, especially now. I’m pumping out content like a goddamn chicken nugget farm.

 

(Whitney checks her phone)

 

WHITNEY: Yeah?

 

BONNIE: What are you doing.

 

WHITNEY: I’m listening, I’m just keeping an eye on some work e-mails I’m expecting-

 

BONNIE: Just fucking go and make your call.

 

WHITNEY: Thank you! (Whitney runs away. Bonnie shakes her head. Cut to Whitney in Rob and Imogen’s bedroom on the phone) Hi- yes, yes, no, Luan, I don’t want to hear about the puppy that said “hi” to you this morning, I want to speak with Li and Zhang please, thank you! (Whitney puts her hand across her face) I didn’t mean to yell, please don’t cry…

 

(Cut to Li in his office, with his feet on the desk. He picks up the phone)

 

LI: What did you do to my secretary?

 

WHITNEY: Hi, Li, nothing-

 

(Cut to Zhang in a separate office, standing up. Intercut between all three of them)

 

ZHANG: What kind monster would hurt that delicate flower? I mean, her name literally means orchid!

 

WHITNEY: I’m sorry, you guys, I just needed desperately to talk to you. I will send a gift if it will repair the offense caused by this, latest faux pas.

 

ZHANG: One of many. Don’t send orchids, by the way, it’s tacky. The last seven people who have offended her sent those.

 

WHITNEY: Got it. Well. Can we talk business?

 

LI: Yes, sorry we missed the last meeting, we got tied up.

 

WHITNEY: No, I know, you don’t need to go into anymore detail. Look. I know you want to return to production as soon as possible, but a lot of our actors and crew are uncomfortable with going RIGHT back to production-

 

LI: (Mocking child voice) Oh, are they scared?

 

WHITNEY: Um-

 

LI: (Mocking child voice) Scared they gonna get sick? Hmmm?

 

WHITNEY: Yes, yes, they are.

 

LI: It’s the U.S. that’s fucking up this virus response, okay!? We’re fine over here. Tell them to sack up and come back.

 

WHITNEY: When do you suggest?

 

ZHANG: November 5th at the latest.

 

(Whitney sighs)

 

WHITNEY: …I’ll see if I can sell that.

 

ZHANG: Call us back.

 

(Whitney hangs up. Cut to the backyard. There’s a sumo wrestling ring set up, and Miles is wearing nothing but the sumo wrestling mawashi loincloth. Rob, Imogen, Luther and Evelyn stand by, watching)

 

MILES: COME ON! WHAT MANNER OF FOOL WANTS TO CHALLENGE ME!?

 

IMOGEN: I once again want to point out that this sport is exclusively Japanese, not Chinese.

 

ROB: I looked up sports in China, okay?! They like Badminton and Soccer, it’s honestly a bit of a boring country!

 

EVELYN: Luther, you’re the largest person here, probably closest to Miles’ weight, why don’t you fight him?

 

LUTHER: Do I gotta wear that diaper?

 

MILES: OF FUCKING COURSE, WHAT DO YOU THINK WE ARE, AMATEURS?!

 

(Whitney walks over)

 

WHITNEY: Miles- wow. Okay. Miles, a word?

 

(Miles shrugs and dismounts the Sumo ring. They walk inside)

 

IMOGEN: This also isn’t socially distant, at all.

 

ROB: Fine, go ahead and burn it.

 

EVELYN: Okay.

 

(Evelyn takes lighter fluid out of her jacket and starts squirting it on the sumo platform. Luther grabs her wrist)

 

LUTHER: Evelyn!

 

(Cut to Whitney and Miles walking into Rob and Imogen’s bedroom)

 

WHITNEY: Li and Zhang want to go back to shooting by November 5th, at the latest. If they take all precautions, can you direct under those conditions?

 

MILES: November 5th? Nah, I have a long-scheduled Zoom brunch with John Waters that day.

 

WHITNEY: Fine, you can have your Zoom brunch with him in China!
 

MILES: It wouldn’t be brunch for him, Whitney! Try to keep up.

 

WHITNEY: UGH. When are you comfortable returning?

 

MILES: Whenever we get a vaccine. I’m gonna knock over them old women and get to the front of the goddamn line, you know that.

 

WHITNEY: Vaccine!?! That could be eight months to a year from now, or even longer! You were JUST challenging people to a Sumo match, but you’re not comfortable filming until there’s a vaccine?

 

MILES: Humans are inconsistent, what can I say? Listen, would you relax? This is a party, not a work function. Go have some fun, in fact, and if you need help, go ahead and research “fun” if you need to. Weigh the pros and cons of different ways to have fun. Alright? Love ya, mean it.

 

(Miles walks away)

 

WHITNEY: Miles!

 

(Whitney sighs deeply. Cut to Kevin drinking a bottle of Hitachino while speaking with Luther)

 

LUTHER: So, Frontier cut you loose, huh?

 

KEVIN: Yeah. Nobody wants to fly places if you can believe it.

 

LUTHER: So, you been looking for other jobs?

 

KEVIN: I’ve been trying. But airlines aren’t really hiring, so I started applying other places, but not even Ellen gave me an interview.

 

(Luther quietly exhales)

 

LUTHER: That’s funny.

 

(Kevin smirks awkwardly)

 

KEVIN: …Thanks.

 

(Kevin sips his beer and scans the room)

 

LUTHER: You at home all the time, then, huh? (Kevin nods) McKenzie works from home, so you really got a close eye on you, don’t ya?

 

(Kevin sighs)

 

KEVIN: Oh, you mean, so I can’t go out and fuck other people because she’s always there?

 

LUTHER: Nah, dude-

 

KEVIN: I’m gonna, go away, from here.

 

(Kevin walks away)

 

LUTHER: Evelyn stares at me while I sleep, dude, I’m just tryin’ to relate!

 

(Cut to Kevin walking upstairs. She sees Bonnie, leaning against the wall, with her mask tugged down, holding a glass of red wine in the game room. She’s watching Noel and Alec playing Ping-Pong. Kevin goes over and stands next to her)

 

BONNIE: Hey.

 

KEVIN: Hi.

 

(Noel whips the ping pong ball past Alec)

 

NOEL: Too easy! TOO easy!

 

(Alec picks up the ball and serves it)

 

ALEC: Fuck off, I don’t know this game.

 

(Alec serves and Noel whacks it past Alec again)

 

NOEL: Yeah, clearly!

 

BONNIE: Watch your ass, Noel, or I’m gonna start rooting for Alec.

 

NOEL: Wow, Bonnie, what are you, Italy? Switching sides?

 

KEVIN: You realize that makes you the Nazis, right?

 

NOEL: What, no, I didn’t mean-

 

(Alec serves the ball and it flies past Noel. Bonnie and Kevin laugh)

 

NOEL: I was distracted! Screw this.

 

(Noel tosses his paddle aside and walks out of the room, followed by Alec)

 

BONNIE: Those sweet little boys. Their balls have barely descended.

 

KEVIN: I think I’m like, three years older than Alec.

 

BONNIE: I know, but. Noel is not even twenty-one. We could all be arrested for providing him alcohol.

 

KEVIN: You’re right. I’m gonna do the right thing and call the LAPD. (Kevin takes out his phone) Somebody hide Luther.

 

(Bonnie laughs and pushes Kevin’s phone down. In the process, her wine glass shakes and some spills on her gray shirt)

 

BONNIE: Fuck.

 

KEVIN: Oh, shit. Sorry.

 

BONNIE: No, you didn’t do anything. There’s a closet in the hallway, there might be a tide stick in there or something. (Bonnie hands Kevin her glass of wine, so he sets it down on the ping-pong table. He follows her into the hallway. Bonnie opens up the closet, which has some cleaning supplies in it. Bonnie gets on her knees and searches for a Tide stick. Kevin stands behind her) Can you be my eye in the sky?

 

(Kevin gets closer, behind her, and looks around)

 

KEVIN: I need to get closer, I can’t see.

 

(Kevin gets down on his knees behind Bonnie and looks over her shoulder, as Bonnie paws around.

 

BONNIE: I can’t see shit.

 

KEVIN: That’s fine. Just cover it up with my jacket-

 

(Kevin takes his jacket off, just as McKenzie comes up the stairs and sees Kevin taking his jacket off right behind Bonnie)

 

MCKENZIE: What the fuck is going on!?

 

(Kevin turns around and sees McKenzie)

 

KEVIN: Oh, Jesus, you scared us.

 

(Bonnie turns around)

 

BONNIE: What’s up, Kenz.

 

MCKENZIE: What was just going on!?

 

KEVIN: Oh- no! No, no, no- Bonnie spilled wine on her shirt- (Bonnie points at the stain) so, she was looking for a Tide stick, and I was helping her, but we gave up, and I was gonna let her have my jacket so she could cover it up.

 

BONNIE: Yeah, we weren’t dry humping in the threshold of the supply closet.

 

(McKenzie takes a deep breath)

 

MCKENZIE: Okay. You’re right, sorry.

 

(Kevin gets up and puts his hand on her shoulder)

 

KEVIN: It’s alright, Kenz, it was an amusing series of coincidences.

 

BONNIE: Can I still get my jacket?!

 

(Kevin throws Bonnie his jacket, and McKenzie and Kevin walk together downstairs. Cut to McKenzie and Kevin talking to Rob and Imogen in the kitchen)

 

MCKENZIE: It was fun pretending to be manager while you were gone, I was honestly really upset when you and Whitney came back.

 

ROB: I was sad to come back! I only did so to tend to the voters in CA-25, and I wound up just barely losing.

 

IMOGEN: It was not at all close.

 

ROB: IT WAS CLOSE- (Rob clears his throat) it was close if you account for fraud.

 

KEVIN: So, Rob, you liked living in China?

 

ROB: Yeah! Sure, there was a lot of pollution, but L.A. has that, too. It felt good to be a stranger, you know? Unlike here, where everyone recognizes me all the time, ugh, it’s so annoying.

 

IMOGEN: He once asked our waiter if she wanted an autograph, unprovoked.

 

ROB: She knew who I was, she was just trying to keep her cool.

 

IMOGEN: To be honest, I was not huge on living in China. I had to teach English to Chinese people when I didn’t know mandarin. I had to learn mandarin, AS I was teaching English.

 

MCKENZIE: How’d you do it?

 

IMOGEN: I had to point to a lot of stuff. We really only got through the classroom and body part units, successfully.

 

ROB: But, Imogen, some of those cafes were really cool-

 

IMOGEN: While they were open! COVID-19 broke out almost as soon as we moved there. Plus, once lockdowns started, the government send these trucks mounted with big speakers- blaring warnings to stay inside across the entire neighborhood, it was terrifying!

 

ROB: I don’t know, Imogen, they helped me fall asleep. It’s like living in a house near the train tracks, you get used to the ambient noises of the neighborhood, and you just let them lull you to sleep.

 

(Imogen scoffs, and pulls out her phone. She brings up a video of a snowy street in Beijing. A drone equipped with a speaker flies down and gets in Imogen’s face)

 

DRONE: (Chinese accent) Excuse me, white girl, what in the name of Heaven are you doing outside? Take your lily-white bottom back to your place of residence, close the door and stay inside.

 

IMOGEN: (OS) Who is controlling you-!?

 

DRONE: You didn’t even wear a mask, you dumb bitch. Please, it’s too cold outside anyhow, go home and let your husband keep you warm. Put your phone away, for the love of goodness. That’s it, commencing water projectile.

 

(The drone sprays Imogen with water. She screams and runs away. The video ends and she puts her phone away. Everyone looks freaked out, except for Rob)

 

MCKENZIE: Jesus Christ! That’s so creepy!

 

IMOGEN: Right?! I mean, I should’ve been wearing a mask-

 

KEVIN: Definitely.

 

IMOGEN: But it was February, I didn’t know how bad this was gonna be! Could they have made conceived a creepier and more alienating way to do this!?

 

ROB: One of those things flirted with me. I, of course, backed them off, because I was taken, but they aren’t always super mean like that.

 

(McKenzie and Kevin nod, while Imogen shakes her head)

 

MCKENZIE: I’m gonna hit the bathroom.

 

(McKenzie kisses Kevin on the cheek and walks away)

 

KEVIN: Can I smoke outside?

 

ROB: Go ahead, but I’m gonna stay inside. Cigarette smoke ruins the Chi of this place.

 

IMOGEN: Finally, something actually Chinese.

 

KEVIN: Did you quit?

 

ROB: Yeah. Figure if I’m gonna be sober, better go all the way.

 

KEVIN: I feel ya. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve embarrassed myself while drunk on nicotine.  (Kevin pats Rob’s shoulder) Be right back. (Kevin walks outside. Cut to the side yard. Evelyn is smoking. Kevin walks over with a cigarette in his mouth and his mask tugged down) Confusing time to be a smoker, huh? (Kevin lights his cigarette and exhales smoke) Yet another respiratory illness to be worried about.

 

EVELYN: I do not worry much.

 

KEVIN: And why’s that?

 

EVELYN: Worrying is useless. You either do something to change your material circumstances, or you don’t. Worrying is a vestigial product our amygdala has left us with. It’s that stutter-step before action. So, if I want to quit, I can. Worrying does me no good.

 

KEVIN: I’ve tried before, so has Kenz. It’s not that easy.

 

EVELYN: Doesn’t make worrying any less useless.

 

(Kevin ashes in the grass)

 

KEVIN: That’s true. (Beat) Evelyn, can I ask you a question? I’ll understand if you don’t want to talk about it.

 

EVELYN: Doubtful, but proceed.

 

KEVIN: I take it that you have a disorder on the autism spectrum?

 

EVELYN: High-functioning ASD. Formerly called Asperger’s. Diagnosed when I was a child.

 

KEVIN: What were the first signs?

 

EVELYN: Usual stuff. Limited eye contact, no social skills, different than other children. But also, obsessive. (Evelyn takes a drag) During the summers, my parents would be at work, and I would climb on their bed, studying the wrinkles in the sheets, every imperfection, every crease, going over them, feeling them. Sometimes for hours. (Kevin tilts his head curiously) Our maid got concerned, and she told my parents. Our Uncle was BTK, so they were really worried that if I didn’t develop normally, I’d become like him.

 

KEVIN: Your uncle was the BTK killer?!

 

EVELYN: No, our uncle was Brian Terrel Kelly, he did a series of stick-ups in Sacramento in the early 90s.

 

KEVIN: Okay, just for future reference, nobody who hears “BTK” is gonna think about your shithead uncle.

 

EVELYN: Duly noted. Anyhow, since I was banned from the bedroom, I would go into the yard, out of the maid’s eyeline, and inspect the grass. (Evelyn gets on her knees and allows a ladybug to crawl onto her finger) Studying the flora and fauna, every type of mite, bug and garden snake. In the neighborhood, I came to be known as “Grass Stain”, due to the inordinate amount of time I would spend in the front yard. I was later told this was an insult, but I decided to market it.

 

(Evelyn lets the lady bug crawl up onto her arm)

 

KEVIN: You had a mind for business, even then.

 

EVELYN: I would charge the local kids five dollars to watch me roll around in the grass until I became filthy. I would then allow them to hose me off, which was their favorite part.

 

KEVIN: Naturally.

 

(Evelyn feels the grass)

 

EVELYN: I still like the feel of grass…

 

(McKenzie walks over, and sees from behind Kevin standing with Evelyn on her knees in front of him)

 

MCKENZIE: Jesus!

 

(Kevin turns around)

 

KEVIN: What?

 

(Evelyn looks up)

 

EVELYN: Hello, McKenzie.

 

MCKENZIE: I know nothing is going on, but you need to better realize when your positions seem compromising.

 

KEVIN: My bad.

 

(Kevin throws his cigarette down and stamps it out)

 

MCKENZIE: It’s okay. Rob has some stupid shit planned, let’s go.

 

(Kevin walks with McKenzie, toward the house, while Evelyn finishes her cig. Imogen quickly runs by, wearing a bikini and pulling her cut-off jean shorts off. She throws the shorts at Kevin)

 

IMOGEN: Not before I do a cannon ball!

 

(Imogen leaps into the pool, and Kevin drops the shorts and puts his hands up)

 

KEVIN: Thanks, Imogen! Appreciate this.

 

(Rob walks outside)

 

ROB: Everybody, listen up! (Rob opens the sliding glass doors and beckons for everyone inside to come outside) Come on! This is the crux of this party, get out here!
 

(Everyone shuffles outside. Whitney is on the phone, but Miles drags her outside)

 

WHITNEY: Hold on, hold on, Luan, I’m being literally dragged-

 

MILES: Come on. (Miles takes the phone) She’ll call you back.

 

(Miles hangs up the phone and hands it back to Whitney)

 

WHITNEY: Miles, you have to be careful with her, she’s very sensitive.

 

ROB: Shut up! Everybody! For it is time- honey, can you join us?

 

(Imogen climbs out of the pool, soaking wet. She puts her mask back on)

 

IMOGEN: I’m here.

 

ROB: Come over here. (Imogen walks over and holds her hand) In celebration of our love, which dances across the sky, much like a… dragon. (Mr. Duplois walks out of the house wearing the long Chinese dragon outfit, as Rob presses play on an Amazon echo, which starts playing ancient Chinese-sounding music. Duplois bounds around the front yard, with the rest of the costume dragging behind him. Everyone is perplexed) Go on, everyone! Help Mr. Duplois form the rest of the dragon! (Everyone stares at Rob) Uh, fine! I’ll go first!

 

(Rob runs over and gets under the dragon costume, placing himself right behind Duplois)

 

IMOGEN: The things we do for love.

 

(Imogen goes and gets in behind Robert)

 

MILES: Fun sometimes means doing things you don’t want to do, at all.

 

WHITNEY: If we must.

 

(Miles drags Whitney to the dragon, and they get in behind Imogen, as the dragon makes circles around the pool. Alec and Tara shrug, and go in behind Miles and Whitney)

 

ROB: (Muffled) Yes! YES! COMPLETE THIS DRAGON, MY FRIENDS! MAY THEY HEAR OUR ROARS FOR CENTURIES! ROAR, FRIENDS!

 

WHITNEY, IMOGEN & TARA: (Muffled) NO!

 

ROB: (Muffled) Okay!

 

NOEL: You doing it, Bonnie?

 

BONNIE: Fuck no. Last time I was in a dragon was the Game of Thrones porno I shot, “Game of Bones”, and I’m not doing it again.

 

NOEL: Fine, more for me.

 

(Noel runs over and gets in)

 

EVELYN: Luther?

 

LUTHER: Nah, babe, you go ahead. It’s 95 fuckin’ degrees out here.

 

EVELYN: I will be back in about fifteen seconds, when everyone grows tired of running in a circle.

 

(Evelyn runs over and joins. McKenzie looks over at Kevin)

 

MCKENZIE: You wanna?

 

KEVIN: Run around under a rubber blanket in 100-degree weather with eight other people? For sure.

 

(Kevin and McKenzie run over and join. Cut to inside the costume. McKenzie is in front of Kevin, then Evelyn, then Noel, and so on. They’re running around the pool, sweating, and only able to see where they are based on their view of the ground)

 

MCKENZIE: People in China do this for fun!?

 

ROB: (OS) YES! They are a somewhat rich culture! Not as rich as the Japanese, but still, a lotta cool stuff!

 

(Evelyn keeps looking down)

 

EVELYN: There’s a lot of Beetles in this backyard.

 

KEVIN: Evelyn, you shouldn’t look down so much-

 

EVELYN: Is that a scarab beetle-

 

(Evelyn bends down, which causes Kevin and McKenzie to trip and fall over her, pushing all of them, including Noel, and everyone else, into the pool. Everyone outside of the costume laughs and roars heartily. Cut to inside the pool. Kevin is floating in the pool, with McKenzie behind him. Kevin looks over at Evelyn, whose eyes are closed and is pawing around for the side of the pool. She paws at Kevin’s junk, and Kevin is forced to swim over to McKenzie and hold her. McKenzie paws around too and tries to escape Kevin’s grasp. Pan over to Whitney, trying to wade her way to the surface. Noel is at the bottom of the pool, and Whitney accidentally steps on his stomach with her shoes. He recoils in pain, and Whitney opens her eyes and sees him, so she carries him to the surface. Pan over to Rob and Imogen. Rob grabs Imogen’s hand, and carries her to the surface. We see him grabbing onto the side of the pool and pulling Imogen up with him. She grabs onto the side)

 

IMOGEN: How could we have foreseen that?

 

(Imogen pulls herself out of the pool, just as everyone else is. Rob gets out, too)

 

ROB: I don’t know.

 

(Imogen stands up, and helps Rob to his feet)

 

IMOGEN: Running blind around a pool, what could go wrong?

 

ROB: I wasn’t blind, Imogen, Doctors have told me I have amazing Kinesthetic senses. I’m like a bat.

 

(Pan over to Whitney getting out of the pool and pulling Noel up out of it)

 

WHITNEY: Noel, I’m so sorry I stepped on you, I’m so sorry Rob did this stupid dragon shit, please don’t sue the company- I can’t DEAL with that right now!!

 

NOEL: Whitney! (Whitney starts crying. Noel hugs her) No, I’m not gonna sue anyone. Shhhhhh….

 

KEVIN: I’d like to reserve that right.

 

MCKENZIE: Kevin, shut up.

 

(Evelyn walks by)

 

EVELYN: That was kind of fun thought, was it not?

 

KEVIN: NO! (Kevin composes himself) I don’t think it was.

 

(Everyone has gotten themselves out of the pool, including Mr. Duplois)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: Sorry about that, ladies and gents. That don’t happen at the vast majority of parties where the dragon costume is used.

 

ROB: But this HAS happened before?

 

MR. DUPLOIS: Certainly. This is how North West was conceived.

 

ROB: Alright, guys, let’s move inside.

 

TARA: Are we gonna get a change of clothes?

 

ROB: I don’t think that’s very sanitary, given the current situation.

 

IMOGEN: We were all just directly behind each other in a sweaty, rubber Dragon costume before falling into a pool, that ship has sailed. Anybody who likes to is invited to raid our closets and dressers. Just make sure that we get back whatever you change into after your next load of laundry.

 

MILES: This is gonna be incredible.

 

IMOGEN: Miles, you can’t change into my clothes.

 

MILES: Well, fuck, I’ll wear Whitney’s wet clothes, then.

 

WHITNEY: No!

 

(Miles scoffs and goes inside. Everybody starts migrating inside. Cut to Rob and Imogen in their bedroom, taking off their wet clothes)

 

IMOGEN: I told you this Chinese shit was a bad idea.

 

(Rob pulls off his wet pants)

 

ROB: Don’t get into an argument with me while you’re getting undressed, it’s unfair!

 

(Imogen takes off her panties and underwear. She squeezes her tits together in mocking fashion)

 

IMOGEN: (Girly voice) Oh, I’m sorry, big American daddy, I don’t mean to pressure you!

 

(Imogen lets go of her tits and glares at Rob. Rob rolls his eyes and removes his underwear as Imogen puts on a new bra and panties)

 

ROB: I try to do a nice thing…

 

IMOGEN: YOU DIDN’T ASK ME!!

 

(Rob pulls on a fresh pair of jeans)

 

ROB: I didn’t think I needed to!!! I thought you ENJOYED our time in China together!

 

(Imogen pulls on a Disney Land Shanghai t-shirt)

 

IMOGEN: WELL, I DIDN’T! (Imogen dials it back) I did, but not because we were in China, because I was with you! China was a nightmare.

 

(Rob pulls on a T-shirt labeled “Beijing Municipal Prison” in both Mandarin and English)

 

ROB: Well, I thought it was GREAT! Even when we were thrown in jail for five days for running a red light! At least we were together!

 

(Imogen pulls on a pair of jean shorts and hops on the bed, sighing heavily)

 

IMOGEN: I’m sorry, I can’t control how I feel.

 

ROB: It was an adventure! I thought you were the adventurous type, you moved here for God’s sake!

 

IMOGEN: It wasn’t an adventure for you, it was an escape. It had nothing to do with me! (Imogen wipes away a tear) You didn’t intend to, but you used me! And I’m sick of being back, while your mind’s really somewhere else. It’s just gonna lead to relapse.

 

(Rob looks struck by this observation. He leans on the dresser and starts thinking)

 

ROB: …I’m sorry… (Imogen looks up, hopefully) …that you feel that way-

 

IMOGEN: Ugh. Close enough.

 

ROB: I’m doing well, by the way. Not close to backsliding.

 

(Imogen nods)

 

IMOGEN: You’re right.

 

(There’s a knock at the door. Rob sighs)

 

ROB: Come in.

 

(Imogen walks over and kisses Rob, as Evelyn, Kevin, McKenzie, Mr. Duplois, Tara and Alec walk in with their soaking wet clothes on)

 

IMOGEN: Have at it.

 

(Rob and Imogen walk out, as the guests start wandering into the closet and opening drawers. Kevin walks into Rob’s closet, grabs a Guns & Roses t-shirt and shows it to McKenzie, who has grabbed a blouse from the dresser)

 

ROB: It goes down past my dick, but it turns you on, right?

 

(McKenzie smirks)

 

MCKENZIE: Borrow some of Rob’s cologne, too. Complete the illusion. (Kevin smiles and grabs some jeans. He notices Evelyn removing her wet t-shirt in the middle of the room, now only wearing jeans and a bra. Kevin’s eyes widen and he quickly leaves the room. McKenzie looks after him) Kevin?

 

KEVIN: (OS) I’ll change in the foyer bathroom!

 

(McKenzie shrugs, as Evelyn pulls on a green blouse)

 

EVELYN: I had the chance to speak at length with Kevin, he’s very nice.

 

(McKenzie smirks. Evelyn undoes her jeans)

 

MCKENZIE: Thanks. I’m glad someone’s giving him a second chance. Besides me, anyway.

 

EVELYN: I guess I had never given him a first one.  (Evelyn pulls on a pair of Imogen’s jeans) See you out there.

 

(Evelyn walks out of the room. McKenzie looks after her, a little perplexed. Cut to Whitney sitting in the spare bedroom, with her phone in a bag of rice on the bed, still in her wet clothes, pacing around. Miles walks in, wearing an “Altmire for CA-25” t-shirt and jeans way too long and baggy for Miles’ short and stocky figure)

 

MILES: Whitney, what are you doing? You’re gonna catch a cold in those wet clothes, which will be made even worse by the covid we’ve all gotten today.

 

(Whitney rubs her eyes)

 

WHITNEY: My phone got wet, and it won’t turn on! I NEED to call Li and Zhang back right now!!

 

MILES: Use my phone, it got out okay!

 

(Miles takes out his phone)

 

WHITNEY: NO! I just- it’s not the only thing I need to do on there.

 

(Miles sits on the bed)

 

MILES: What is it, then, honey? What’s really going on?

 

(Whitney sits down on the bed, and wipes away tears)

 

WHITNEY: …It’s…it’s so dumb…. I…FUCK! I need to look at Instagram.

 

MILES: Why?

 

(Whitey takes a swallow)

 

WHITNEY: …I need to know where John Whitney is right now…

 

(Miles nods)

 

MILES: …I see…

 

WHITNEY: He does Insta-stories a lot and I don’t feel good unless I know where he is.

 

MILES: …This is your first party since that incident, huh?

 

WHITNEY: More or less.

 

(Miles puts his hand on hers)

 

MILES: He’ll have to get through us, first. (Whitney nods) What was the last thing you proposed to Li?

 

WHITNEY: …February 1st, with all crew members tested beforehand. But they don’t wanna pay for the tests. So that’s the sticking point. It’s like 25,000 dollars in total.

 

MILES: Ask Rob! He’s rich as fuck!

 

(Whitney smirk and nods. Cut to Rob pouring sake shots in the kitchen. Whitney walks up to him)

 

WHITNEY: Rob.

 

ROB: Whitney! What’s up? We’re about to have sake shots, well, except for me, I’m having Diet Coke in a goddamn shot glass.

 

WHTNEY: Yeah, in a second, but listen, we’re gonna restart production on Miles’ movie early next year, as long as we can find a way to pay for tests for cast and crew. It’s like twenty-five grand. Can you loan the company that amount? I can pay you back.

 

ROB: Fuck that, no need to pay me back. I have an obscene amount of money. (Rob turns to Whitney, as he finishes pouring Sake shots) One thing I learned in China, Whitney, is money is a vulgar thing. I mean. I like vulgar things, pornography and whatnot-

 

WHITNEY: Right.

 

ROB: But, as I’ve found out during quarantine, there’s such a thing as too much pornography. (Rob pats Whitney on the back and smiles) So don’t worry about it.

 

(Whitney smiles and hugs Rob, which surprises him. He hugs her back)

 

WHITNEY: Thank you.

 

ROB: You’re welcome. (Whitney lets go of Rob, and Rob comes out into the living room, where everyone is gathered, and places the Sake shots on the coffee table) Everybody, please, join us in taking a shot of sake. (Imogen walks over to Rob, who puts his arm around her shoulder, as she holds up her shot of sake. Everybody grabs one. Rob holds up his shot of Diet Coke) Well, I have Diet Coke, but we bought it in China.

 

IMOGEN: Ew, is that why it’s so flat?

 

ROB: Let’s raise our glasses to the resilience of love, for it can withstand even choppier waters than those in my pool.

 

(Laughter, as everyone takes a shot. Mr. Duplois stands up in the back)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: WAIT! (Everyone turns around and stares at him) Before you imbibe further. During the hum of conversation preceding this blessed toast, I could not help but overhear somebody in this group mention that they had gone to the mall “about a week ago”.

 

(Duplois gasps, and he then beckons everybody else to gasp, which they then reluctantly do)

 

ROB: Wait a minute. Did you say (Bobby Schmurda voice) “’Bout a week agooooo, week ago? Fuck with us and then we tweakin’, ho”-? (Everyone stares) Nobody? Bobby Schmurda?

 

MCKENZIE: No, Rob, we remember, but like, wow. Might as well have dropped a Nyan Cat reference.

 

ROB: This is serious, guys!

 

LUTHER: So serious, you made a Bobby Shmurda reference?

 

ROB: We ALL could be at risk if even ONE person didn’t completely self-isolate! Masks up!
 

(Everyone puts their masks up)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: So, who did it? Better to fess up now, y’all don’t want to see my detectin’ skills in action.

 

IMOGEN: I thought you were a party planner?

 

MR. DUPLOIS: SLASH detective! It’s on my cards.

 

(Rob pulls out Duplois’ card and inspects it)

 

ROB: No, it’s not.

 

MR. DUPLOIS: It’s invisible ink, obviously, I’m a detective. Gotta keep my identity secret.

 

WHITNEY: You’re thinking of a spy.

 

MR. DUPLOIS: I’m thinking that YOU might have been the quarantine-breaker.

 

WHITNEY: No, I’ve been self-isolating, working from home, ordering in. I live alone.

 

MILES: Plus, just between you and me, she’s in no state to be going much of anywhere right now.

 

WHITNEY: You realize saying “just between you and me” doesn’t work in a group of like, fifteen people, right?

 

(Miles shrugs)

 

BONNIE: Why doesn’t everybody just go home?

 

ROB: Because! We could all be infected unless we isolate the individual who broke quarantine and test them. We don’t want to risk the health of the public.

 

BONNIE: Fine! What did the person’s voice sound like?

 

MR. DUPLOIS: A little feminine, but gritty enough that it could’ve been a feminine man.

 

(Everybody turns to Noel)

 

NOEL: First of all, I don’t take this as an insult, second of all, how dare you all.

 

LUTHER: Well, a high-pitched voice rules me out, I sound like Denzel Washington’s chain-smoking cousin.

 

EVELYN: And he’s never even smoked, trust me, I have tried to get him started.

 

ROB: If this person was talking to another person, that means that person is currently protecting someone else. Show yourself!

 

MR. DUPLOIS: Which two are the closest? Who would protect the other?

 

WHITNEY: COUPLES! We should focus on couples. In fact, we all know Kevin likes to “step out”, why don’t we ask him!?

 

MCKENZIE: Whitney!

 

KEVIN: Whitney, what the fuck? That doesn’t even make sense, why would I be telling McKenzie of my OWN infidelity? WHICH IS NON-EXISTENT, BY THE WAY!

 

WHITNEY: Fine, you could’ve been telling one of your “boys” about some hot tail you caught, and they’re protecting you because of (mock bro voice) “bro code” or whatever the fuck.

 

MCKENZIE: Listen, nobody should be questioning my boyfriend’s faithfulness!

 

KEVIN: Thank you!

 

MCKENZIE: Only I can do that! Kevin, are you fucking around?

 

KEVIN: NO! Remember, this person said they went to the mall!

 

MILES: Maybe to fuck somebody.

 

(Everyone grumbles in agreement)

 

KEVIN: Oh, my God!

 

ROB: Kevin, empty out your pockets and wallet, I wanna see if you have receipts from the mall.

 

KEVIN: No, why would that even work, I wash my pants, I wear different pants all the time-

 

MCKENZIE: That’s not true, he hasn’t washed his pants in weeks, come on, Kevin, empty those pockets.

 

KEVIN: No!
 

ROB: Why not? What are you hiding?!

 

KEVIN: What are you guys, the NSA?! This is an invasion of privacy!

 

ROB: This is our HEALTH on the line! Duplois, get him!

 

(Duplois walks over and sticks his hands in Kevin’s pockets. Kevin pushes him off but it’s too late, Duplois has a receipt)

 

KEVIN: The fuck off me, man!

 

ROB: READ IT!
 

KEVIN: This is insane!

 

(Duplois unwraps the receipt, and everyone leans in with anticipation. Duplois reads it, as Kevin stands by, embarrassed. McKenzie looks especially anxious)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: …It’s a McDonald’s receipt, but it’s from a month ago. (Mumbles of confusion) McChicken, two orders of fries.

 

TARA: You haven’t washed those pants in a month?

 

MCKENZIE: Why would you conceal that?

 

(Kevin snatches the receipt back)

 

KEVIN: Because it takes a hella depressed man to stoop to that level, I hope everybody’s happy with their public shaming of me. Turns out I am stepping out, to get a fuckin’ double order of fries.

 

ROB: Then who is it?!

 

IMOGEN: Oh for fuck’s sake, it was me!

 

(Gasps)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: Oh, NOW the gasps are timely.

 

(Rob turns to Imogen)

 

ROB: Imogen, why?!

 

IMOGEN: Listen, I was in the army, and I’ve grown to resent direct orders. But more than that, China had our asses locked down, FOR REAL. We could not go outside, or we’d be harassed by the authorities. Nothing like the pussy-ass lockdowns you have here in the states. So, I got stir crazy, I went to the Galleria in Sherman Oaks, with a mask on, keeping my distance, and I picked up clothes, and I came back. Couldn’t have been more than thirty minutes.

 

WHITNEY: You put all of us at risk.

 

IMOGEN: I know. I’m sorry. Go ahead and test me again, and I guess you guys should go into isolation until we know the results, in about 24 hours.

 

ALEC: I thought it took two weeks?

 

ROB: I’m rich.

 

ALEC: Ohhhh.

 

MR. DUPLOIS: …So that’s it? Mystery solved? I was hoping to bring in Chinese Water Torture to stay “on theme”.

 

ROB: Won’t be necessary.

 

(Duplois sighs)

 

MR. DUPLOIS: (Dejected) Alright…

 

(Duplois trudges away. People start talking amongst themselves, as Kevin turns to McKenzie)

 

KEVIN: Kenz, I know what I did last year is forever etched into your brain matter, but. I still need you to give me the benefit of the doubt, sometimes.

 

MCKENZIE: I know, babe. Don’t worry.

 

(McKenzie hugs Kevin from the side, and he throws his arm around her shoulders)

 

ROB: Alright. Well. Sorry for the interruption. But I hope what’s next more than makes up for it. (Rob pulls a black sheet off his collection of Chinese puppets. Everybody screams when they see them) Guys! Relax! Jesus! You’ll be screaming with joy, in just a second!

 

BONNIE: If I had a nickel for every time I heard that…

 

(Rob gets down on his knees and takes a Samurai puppet and a Geisha puppet and puts them behind a parchment screen, creating mere silhouettes)

 

ROB: In the year 1419, Ming Dynasty China, a tall, handsome, not-fat samurai met a beautiful, young, Australian geisha. (Rob turns to Imogen) You’re not leaving?

 

(Imogen shakes her head “no”. Rob smiles, and goes on. “Peacebone” by Animal Collective comes in as we focus on Rob’s ridiculous puppet show. Everyone is basking in the absurdity of this performance. The song leads us into the credits)

 

THE END


Submitted: August 17, 2020

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