The Valley of the Tools Episode 36

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

Whitney commissions Rob and McKenzie to influence the Democratic National Convention's message on China, at the behest of their new Chinese business partners. Luther argues with Evelyn over whether her father was a bad person because he was a cop. Hannah debates whether or not to notify Xandra of an embarrassing photo she found.

THE VALLEY OF THE TOOLS

 

“DEATH UNDER THE DEMOCRATS”

 

TV-MA L

 

“So, you tell me that your last good dollar is gone and you say that your pockets are bare. And you tell me that your clothes are tattered and torn, and nobody seems to care. Now don't tell me your troubles. No, I don't have the time to spare. But if you want to get together and fight, good buddy that's what I want to hear”

  • Phil Ochs

 

(We open on the Wisconsin Center, a brown-brick convention center in Milwaukee, with a spire atop it. The streets are largely desolate. There are a few signs advertising the Democratic National Convention. A tumbleweed blows by, inexplicably. Cut to Rob standing in his backyard, with his fingers nervously tapping against his pant leg, bringing a mug of coffee to his mouth with the other hand. Imogen walks out, appearing into the blurry background)

 

IMOGEN: You have that meeting in a minute.

 

ROB: (Irritably) I know! (Rob composes himself and turns to Imogen) Sorry. Quitting is hard.

 

IMOGEN: So is shitting. Which you’ve been doing a lot of, since you have like, six coffees a day.

 

(Rob rubs his forehead)

 

ROB: I have immense and impressive willpower, but, I also need to be addicted to something. Alright, fuck it.

 

(Rob pours the rest of his coffee into the pool)

 

IMOGEN: Rob!

 

ROB: It’ll drain. I gotta have a clear head for this meeting.

 

(Rob walks into the house)

 

IMOGEN: That does NOT explain what you just did!

 

(Cut to Rob sitting in his home office. His desk is covered in pictures of himself at various red-carpet events, one of Rob and Kimberly at Altmire Racquetball and one of Rob and Imogen being married by a Justice of the Peace, all wearing masks. Rob clicks a Zoom link in the Stone Productions Slack channel. We cut to Rob popping into the Zoom meeting, which includes Li, Zhang, Whitney, McKenzie and Miles)

 

WHITNEY: Nice of you to join us, Robert.

 

ROB: Sorry, all this coffee runs through me like Niagara Falls.

 

WHITNEY: Rob!

 

ROB: Sorry, Li, Zhang, the coffee runs through me like, uh, the Yangtze River!

 

MCKENZIE: Well, we shouldn’t waste any more time, huh? Let’s get to it.

 

WHITNEY: Yes, we reached an agreement to return to production on December 28th. A month earlier than we originally wanted, but we made a compromise, and the cast and crew agreed, as long as testing takes place- which Rob graciously offered to pay for, out of his own pocket book.

 

ROB: I’m more than willing to cut checks for whoever wants ‘em. I’m in a generous mood, and I have a lot of dollars.

 

MCKENZIE: Yeah, I’ll take some money.

 

(Rob rips a check out of a checkbook)

 

ROB: How much?

 

WHITNEY: GETTING BACK ON TRACK. Li, Zhang, you called this meeting, you have the floor.

 

LI: Yes, well, as you might know, the Democratic National Convention starts tonight.

 

MILES: Tonight? Damnit! The World Championship of nude bowling starts tonight...

 

MCKENZIE: Nude bowling?!

 

MILES: I have a lot of money riding on Jeff Crimson.

 

ZHANG: We’ve come to find out that two of you are California delegates.

 

ROB: That’s right, I’m a Warren delegate, Kenzie’s a Bernie delegate.

 

MCKENZIE: What about it?

 

LI: The Trump Administration has come down hard on TikTok and our country overall, and the DNC hasn’t shied away from tough rhetoric either. We prefer Biden win, but we want them to ease up on China.

 

ZHANG: If you could urge them in that direction, we’d appreciate it. If not, well. Maybe Alien AIDs and Human Slaves wasn’t meant to be.

 

LI: The world might be better off, ultimately.

 

WHITNEY: But of course, we don’t the world to be better off. We’ll get it done, guys.

 

ROB: For you, anything.

 

(McKenzie purses her lips uncomfortably)

 

ZHANG: Well. That’s all we had. We’re gonna go back to bed.

 

LI: Good night.

 

WHITNEY: Oh, I’m sorry guys- (Li and Zhang leave the meeting) fuck. We’ve gotta start getting that time difference right. ALEC! Get over here!

 

MCKENZIE: You know you’re not in the office, right? He can’t hear from your home in Brentwood.

 

WHITNEY: That’s right, Jesus, you’d think after five months, I’d be used to this. I’ll scold him over text in a second, but first, let’s talk DNC.

 

MCKENZIE: I feel uncomfortable using my position as a Bernie Sanders delegate to lobby on behalf of a corporation.

 

WHITNEY: You’re lobbying on behalf of OUR corporation, by way of Tingua Wanmei. We need to hang on to everything we have, or else we’re done. And tens of valuable people lose their jobs. You want that on your fragile leftist conscience, Park?

 

(McKenzie scoffs)

 

MCKENZIE: Whatever. Fine. Just don’t see how this fits into my job description as President of Sales & Distribution.

 

WHITNEY: We’re gonna SELL and DISTRIBUTE this movie eventually, unless we fuck this up. Be sure to get some commitment out of somebody. Understood?

 

(McKenzie nods)

 

ROB: I didn’t even need that pep talk, I’m ready to bend and/or break arms, if necessary.

 

MCKENZIE: Is there a meeting you can both hop on where China might be discussed?

 

MCKENZIE: The Foreign policy caucus meeting tomorrow. I was gonna talk about Palestinian human rights, but advocating for China’s business interests? Fuck it, why not.

 

ROB: Let’s do it.

 

MILES: Can I get an invite?

 

ROB: Sorry, Miles, delegates only. Let me know who wins the Nude Bowling Trophy, though, buddy.

 

MILES: It’s actually a ring. A, uh…

 

MCKENZIE: Cock ring?

 

MILES: Yeah.

 

WHITNEY: On that note, Miles and I will leave you two to plan.

 

(Whitney leaves the meeting)

 

MILES: Good luck, guys.

 

(Miles leaves)

 

MCKENZIE: Okay, so, I think this is actually an opportunity to do some good. I don’t want a Cold War with China like the hawks in both parties do.

 

ROB: But how do we sell it?

 

MCKENZIE: Trump’s been hard on TikTok, right? We can say we’re trying to differentiate ourselves from him.

 

ROB: I love it.

 

MCKENZIE: Great. So, you’re gonna be a team player here?

 

ROB: Hmm?

 

MCKENZIE: You’re not gonna go off-script? You have a tendency to go rogue.

 

ROB: No, no, Kenz, you’re mistaken. I’ll be on the straight-and-arrow. (Rob puts his feet on his desk) I promise.

 

(McKenzie just stares nervously)

 

MCKENZIE: …See you later, then.

 

(McKenzie leaves the meeting. Rob gets up from his computer)

 

ROB: IMOGEN! WHERE’S MY TUX?

 

(Cut to Luther pushing a grocery cart through a Vons, with Evelyn walking by his side. They’re both wearing masks. They reach the dairy section and Luther reaches for a half-gallon of 2% and throws it in the cart)

 

EVELYN: You know, the Food and Drug Administration allows for 750 millions pus cells in every liter of milk?

 

LUTHER: What?

 

EVELYN: Many dairy cows suffer from mastitis, causing their milk to contain blood and pus.

 

LUTHER: Jesus, Evelyn, I didn’t need to hear that- (A crying toddler runs by) and I’m pretty sure you upset that kid.

 

EVELYN: If you want happier milk facts, I’m more than willing to provide.

 

LUTHER: I’m good on milk facts, babe.

 

(Luther and Evelyn turn into the bread aisle, as we see a Latina mom chasing that toddler)

 

LATINA MOM: Pedro! La bruja estaba mintiendo!

 

(SUBTITLES: Pedro! The witch was lying!)

 

(Cut to Luther and Evelyn shutting both back doors to Luther’s 2011 Nissan Altima, which has a “Black Lives Matter” sticker on the back, alongside a Chicago Bulls sticker. Luther pulls out of the space and out of the parking lot. Cut to the two of them driving on the road. NPR is on)

 

NPR: Senator Bernie Sanders and former First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to headline night one of the Democratic Party’s virtual convention this year. Senator Sanders will be aiming to convince his stubborn shithead supporters that Joe Biden will welcome their dumbasses with open arms. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama will be scolding young people for being too idealistic and not falling in line. Plus, former Ohio Governor John Kasich will be making a speech about how Biden is palatable to Republicans. In this reporter’s opinion, if Bernie supporters don’t turn out for Biden, they should be deported.

 

(Luther angrily changes the station)

 

EVELYN: I was listening to that!
 

LUTHER: I don’t want to listen to political shit, not right now. Change it yourself. (Luther leave the dial alone. Evelyn changes the station to classic rock. “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi is playing. Luther sees flashing blue and red lights in his rearview and hears a few whoops of a police siren) Motherfucker.

 

(Luther pulls over onto the side of the road. The cop pulls up right behind him)

 

EVELYN: Remain calm. You can charm your way out of this.

 

LUTHER: Sure, I’ll regale him with a funny hunting story.

 

EVELYN: Just be polite, and it’ll be fine.

 

LUTHER: Or it won’t.

 

(The LAPD officer, a tall white man with a buzz cut, sunglasses and a mask that depicts the “Thin Blue Line” flag. Luther and Evelyn pull up their masks, and Luther rolls down his window and smirks at the LAPD officer- whose nametag reads “OFFICER FELIX”)

 

OFFICE FELIX: Evening, sir, evening, ma’am.

 

EVELYN: Evening, Officer, how are you?

 

OFFICER FELIX: Oh, you know. Mondays.

 

(Evelyn laughs unnaturally)

 

EVELYN: I also dislike Mondays.

 

LUTHER: Can I help you, Officer?

 

OFFICER FELIX: Yeah, I noticed you were going forty-five in a forty. Care to explain why?

 

(Luther’s teeth press down on his mouth, barely masking his contempt)

 

LUTHER: Guess I’m just in a rush to go home. You know how you go on Auto Pilot when driving sometimes.

 

EVELYN: Especially on Mondays.

 

LUTHER: Yep. Mondays.

 

OFFICER FELIX: Can I see your license and registration, please? (Luther nods and retrieves his wallet, pulls out his license and registration and hands them to Officer Felix, who looks at them) Gonna have to run these. Can I see your ID too, ma’am?

 

LUTHER: Why do you need to-

 

EVELYN: Sure.

 

(Evelyn hands Felix her ID as well. Luther sighs, irritated)

 

OFFICER FELIX: Just gonna check missing persons. New policy.

 

LUTHER: I bet it is.

 

OFFICER FELIX: I’ll be right back.

 

(Felix walks back to his car. Luther sighs and rests his head on his hand)

 

LUTHER: If this motherfucker gives me a ticket for going five over, I’m gonna…quietly stew about it.

 

EVELYN: True, but hopefully this compels you to pay attention to the speed limit going forward.

 

LUTHER: Come on, Evelyn. We knew he just pulled me over because of my Black Lives Matter sticker.

 

EVELYN: Or maybe he’s by-the-books.

 

LUTHER: Bet he’s never read a book in his life. Dumbass pig.

 

(Evelyn shifts uncomfortably and pulls a cigarette from her purse. She lights it, rolls down the window and blows smoke out of it)

 

EVELYN: Would you call my father something like that?

 

(Luther looks over at Evelyn)

 

LUTHER: Your dad’s a security guard?

 

(Evelyn shakes her head “no”)

 

EVELYN: Maybe that’s what you wanted to hear.

 

(Before Luther can respond, Officer Felix returns with Luther’s ID and registration. He hands it to Luther)

 

OFFICER FELIX: You’re all good, Luther. (To Evelyn) And you’re nowhere to be found in the missing persons database, and trust me, I searched hard.

 

LUTHER: You hear that, Evelyn? I didn’t kidnap you.

 

EVELYN: Thank Goodness.

 

OFFICER FELIX: I am going to write you a ticket for the speeding infraction, however. (Felix hands Luther the ticket, which he takes reluctantly. Felix shows Luther a digital interface, where he can sign his ticket with a stylus) Go ahead and sign this, it’s not an admission of guilt, just an acknowledgement that I caught your ass. (Luther glares at the officer as he signs it) You get her home safely, alright?

 

LUTHER: We live together, man.

 

(Felix nods)

 

OFFICER FELIX: Remember, ma’am, call a cop if you have any problems.

 

EVELYN: Yes, sir.

 

(Felix walks back to his car. Luther starts the car and drives off)

 

LUTHER: How’s it taste?

 

EVELYN: How does what taste?

 

LUTHER: The boot.

 

(Evelyn furrows her brow)

 

EVELYN: What boot?

 

LUTHER: Why were you being so nice to that asshole?

 

EVELYN: Maybe I didn’t want to get a ticket, Luther, had you considered that?

 

LUTHER: But even after he gave me a ticket, you were polite.

 

EVELYN: I suppose that’s how I was raised.

 

LUTHER: You have no filter, you always say what’s on your mind, when we ran into William H. Macy and you told him he was your second favorite ugly actor, behind Steve Buscemi?

 

EVELYN: No matter. Let us just sit quietly and continue this argument as soon as we get home. (Cut to Luther and Evelyn walking into their apartment) What if cops hadn’t existed when- (Evelyn points toward the window at the far end of their living room) Rainstorm murdered Ashton Delay on THIS very carpet?! He’d be walking free right now!
 

LUTHER: It was detectives who figured that out, we’re talking about beat cops, who respond to everything from noise complaints to reports of shots fired. People like me often end up dead when they show up!

 

EVELYN: You know what? I don’t wish to speak of this any longer. I would like to catch Michelle Obama’s speech, I heard she’s expected to use emotion.

 

(Evelyn sits down on the couch and turns on the TV. It goes right to Michelle Obama, mid-speech. Luther sighs and walks into the kitchen)

 

MICHELLE OBAMA: Because of a virus that this President downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people-

 

(Cut to Hannah Delaney sitting in her backyard, drinking tea. Hannah’s sister Olivia walks outside. She’s wearing a light-yellow blouse and jean shorts, and neat red hair)

 

OLIVIA: Dad wants you go and say “goodnight” to him.

 

HANNAH: I’ll text him.

 

(Hannah takes out her phone. Olivia sighs and takes a seat in a patio chair right next to Hannah’s)

 

OLIVIA: You know he hates texting.

 

HANNAH: I’m comfortable out here, okay, I don’t feel like going upstairs. (Hannah types a “goodnight” text and sends it to her dad) There. Relationship preserved.

 

OLIVIA: Dad is trying.

 

HANNAH: He still resents me, he always will.

 

OLIVIA: So why do you continue to live here? Why don’t you go join a coven, or what have you?

 

HANNAH: Lesbians are not witches, you need to stop listening to dad.

 

OLIVIA: I don’t have a problem with your lifestyle choices, my Pastor is gay, and his deacon is transgender, and our pianist is Liberace.

 

HANNAH: Liberace is dead.

 

OLIVIA: Oh, well…he’s a good impersonator, nonetheless.

 

HANNAH: I get you attend one of these woke Hollywood churches, but dad is not like that. Ever since he moved here, he’s gotten more zealous, almost as a reaction to Hollywood.

 

OLIVIA: Then why are you still living here? Why don’t you move back to Nevada, live with mom and her wife, or get your own apartment in LA?

 

HANNAH: I want to stay I the industry, first off, but I’m afraid if I go out on my own, I’ll fuck up again.

 

OLIVIA: Well, if you need something to keep your grounded-

 

HANNAH: Olivia.

 

(Hannah stands up and walks forward)

 

OLIVIA: I’m just saying, St. Woke’s doors are always open. Except right now, and for the foreseeable future.

 

(A muscular dude in a sleeveless shirt walks into the backyard, holding a pair of eighty-pound weights)

 

MARCUS: Hannah’s too good for that shit, now. You’re a scientologist these days, right, sis?

 

(Marcus puts the weights down on the concrete)

 

HANNAH: And you’re a Mormon, right? I mean, it would explain all the girlfriends you have, obviously Helen knows about them, right?

 

(Olivia stifles her laughter)

 

OLIVIA: Oh, my Goodness.

 

MARCUS: That’s real smart, but it’s also a lie, and you better not be saying shit to Helen about that.

 

HANNAH: I wouldn’t think of outing a cheater before they’re ready, Marcus, that’s a really personal journey for anyone.

 

MARCUS: Fuck you, Hannah. (Marcus gets down and lifts his weights over his head) I can’t believe I’m being judged by a Godless Atheist Lesbian. (Marcus puts the weights down) My condolences ahead of time for when Trump wins, again.

 

(Hannah sits down)

 

HANNAH: You know, sometimes I wonder why I turned out to be a lesbian, and right now is not one of those times.

 

(Olivia giggles. Cut to Hannah logging into a Zoom call with ten men and women, wearing Bernie and DSA shirts. Anella Carpenter is included, and she’s wearing a Green Party shirt)

 

ANELLA: Welcome, everyone, to our virtual #MarchOnDNC planning session, once again, the oligarchs, war profiteers and lizard people have chosen a demented war criminal as the Democratic nominee, so it’s our responsibility to make them pay. Of course, we have to protest virtually, so I’m willing to field ideas as to how we should go about that-

 

(Xandra pops into the meeting)

 

XANDRA: Hey, sorry I’m late-

 

HANNAH: Holy shit.

 

XANDRA: Whoa. Hannah.

 

HANNAH: Xandra. How are you?

 

ANELLA: Thanks for joining us, Xandra, anyway, does anybody have any-

 

XANDRA: I’m good, I mean, as good as you can be, considering.

 

ANELLA: Guys. Let’s focus up.

 

HANNAH: I’m glad to hear that, are you with anybody right now-? Or?

 

ANELLA: Guys, this is a Zoom call, can we delay the “awkward ex” conversation until later-

 

XANDRA: Not really, had a few dates online, but not really any “relationships”.

 

HANNAH: That’s cool, yeah, that makes sense.

 

ANELLA: Oh, my God.

 

(Cut to the next morning. Hannah is in the kitchen placing a small lamp on the kitchen counter, with the shade decorated with a collage of 90s and 2000s pop culture, including various pictures of Hannah and her family and friends growing up. Carter walks in and starts brewing a cup of coffee)

 

CARTER: What’s that, Hannah?

 

HANNAH: Little art project of mine. (Carter turns toward it) Basically, it’s what I think about when I think of my childhood.

 

(Hannah turns toward Carter)

 

CARTER: …I see pictures of me a few times, but it looks like SpongeBob and Zack and Cody take up a hell of a lot more room on that thing.

 

HANNAH: Well, that’s kind of the point, children aren’t always capable of having perspective on what’s important, plus, they’re drowned in media for their entire childhoods, so it inevitably becomes a core part of who they are.

 

CARTER: But you said it was from YOUR perspective now, as an adult. Not as a kid.

 

HANNAH: Why are you cross-examining me?

 

CARTER: There’s no Jesus on there, either.

 

HANNAH: Yeah, there is. (Hannah rotates the lamp and points out a tiny Jesus on the bottom of the shade) See? (Carter glares at her) Sandy is more responsible for who I am then Jesus, alright?

 

CARTER: Because Sandy the Squirrel was a lesbian?

 

HANNAH: Obviously!

 

(Carter scoffs and grabs some mail off the kitchen counter. He hands Hannah an envelope and a pamphlet)

 

CARTER: One of those is for you, it’s renewing your subscription to “Maps Monthly”, some kinda, map delivery service?

 

HANNAH: New maps every month, it’s pretty sweet.

 

CARTER: And then there’s a Trump pamphlet for Marcus.

 

HANNAH: Ugh. (Hannah looks at the pamphlet. It shows President Trump flashing a “thumbs-up” and the logo “TRUMP 2020: Keep America Great”. Beside that, it’s a picture of a diverse crowd of Trump supporters- black, latinx and- Xandra?!) Xandra is clearly photoshopped in, she’s holding a sexy pose and a Trump sign has been added to look as if she’s holding it) What the fuck?

 

CARTER: Hey! What’d I say about every other word being a cuss?

 

HANNAH: Sorry, it’ just… my ex is on this pamphlet? (Hannah shows Carter) Looks like it’s photoshopped.

 

CARTER: Or she came to her senses.

 

HANNAH: Yeah, maybe by being a Trump supporter, she became so white that even shadows couldn’t darken her.

 

(Hannah points to Xandra, and Carter sees she’s much brighter than everybody else in the photo)

 

CARTER: …I can see why they wanted to put her in, Good Lord.

 

(Hannah rolls her eyes and takes the pamphlet back. Cut to a Zoom meeting, featuring Sanders, Biden, Warren and Bloomberg delegates- nine altogether, including McKenzie Park. The caucus chair, a middle-aged white woman, speaks up)

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: Alright, welcome to the Foreign Policy Caucus meeting, everyone, I think we can all agree that the REAL First Lady of the United States had a brilliant speech last night.

 

BIDEN DELEGATE: I bet Melania was taking notes!
 

(Hammed up laughter)

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: That’s what I was thinking!

 

MCKENZIE: I liked Bernie’s speech, too.

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: I don’t know, when he said he had some disagreements with Joe Biden, I was like, how much did Putin pay you to say that, Bernie?

 

(The Bernie delegates scoff, but the Warren, Biden and Bloomberg delegates nod in agreement)

 

BERNIE DELEGATE: He’s thrown his full support behind Biden, but regardless, we’re here to talk about Foreign Policy. I wanted to start with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians-

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: We’re actually gonna start with China, but we’ll get to your thing, Lolita, what was it? Something about paleo?  I’ll write it down, and we’ll get to it. (The caucus chair writes it down, as Lolita sits there and stews) Great, so, McKenzie Park, Bernie Sanders delegate from California, you requested the floor, so you may have it.

 

MCKENZIE: Thank you, Francis, I’m actually waiting for a Warren delegate friend of mine to come in-

 

(Rob pops in, wearing a Tuxedo and holding a bottle of non-alcoholic wine)

 

ROB: Good afternoon, fellow passengers on the train of life.

 

MCKENZIE: What the fuck.

 

ROB: I hope I haven’t found you at an inopportune time. (Rob pops open the bottle of virgin wine and pours it into a wine glass) I figured this meeting was HYOBAH. “Have-Your-Own-bottle-at-home”.

 

(Rob chuckles heartily)

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: Well. We didn’t mention anything about alcohol in the invite, but uh, thank you for joining us.

 

MCKENZIE: That’s also clearly non-alcoholic wine-

 

ROB: McKenzie, you are such a card!

 

MCKENZIE: Rob, what the hell are you doing?

 

ROB: What? I am simply trying make my guests feel comfortable! Does anyone have a brilliant little anecdote about summering in the Seychelles? Because I have twelve.

 

MCKENZIE: ROB, PLEASE! First off, these aren’t your guests, secondly, let’s turn our attention to the topic at hand.

 

ROB: Do go on, Kenz, I could listen to the sound of your voice for eons, I joke, but I really could.

 

MCKENZIE: Great. Thanks. Sino-American relations have been strained, especially for the past four years. If we’re going to run against Trump, truly, we have to go all the way. So, I propose- (Rob takes out a turntable and places a record on it) we adopt a less confrontational approach to- (Rob starts playing the record, it’s Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon”) Rob, what the hell are you doing dude?

 

ROB: McKenzie, I am simply adding some ambience to the occasion, what, do you not like vocal pop from the 40s? I have plenty of Nina Simone if you prefer!

 

MCKENZIE: I prefer silence! Okay?

 

ROB: Dear, dear Kenz, silence does nothing but remind me of the inevitability of death! Life is about filling our days with distractions, is it not?

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: So true.

 

ROB: In fact, enough yakking, yammering, and stammering-

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: Hey! Doug has a stammer!
 

ROB: Sorry, Doug, my mistake. All I mean to say is talk is cheap, dumb and hard, Hell, I couldn’t do it until I was five. So, enough talk! Let’s speak to the man himself, Joe Biden.

 

MCKENZIE: Okay, so it sounds like talking is still involved.

 

ROB: Not necessarily, I could seduce Joe Biden into backing off China simply with the flutter of my surprisingly long eyelashes. (Rob flutters his eyelashes. Everybody except McKenzie nods and moan with approval) So, who has Uncle Joe’s digits?

 

DOUG: I actually have B-b-b-Biden’s number, he g-g-g-gave it to me, when I met him, because he used to have a stutter l-l-like I do.

 

MCKENZIE: Oh, shit. That’s great.

 

ROB: What a sweet moment. DM me those digits, son.

 

DOUG: Sure.

 

(Doug starts typing)

 

MCKENZIE: Have you called him?

 

DOUG: No, I’m more of a B-b-b-Bernie guy.

 

MCKENZIE: Same here, bud. Alright. Thanks, man.

 

ROB: We’re gonna hop off if that’s alright.

 

CAUCUS CHAIR: We just started.

 

MCKENZIE: Yeah, well, this is an exercise in futility anyway. So.

 

ROB: Thanks for your hospitality, Chair. See ya around.

 

(Rob smiles, and both him and McKenzie leave the Zoom meeting. Cut to Rob and McKenzie joining a new Zoom meeting just between them)

 

MCKENZIE: Robert Altmire.

 

ROB: Yes?

 

MCKENZIE: What the fuck and why the fuck?

 

ROB: It worked, didn’t it?

 

MCKENZIE: Yeah, but it could just have easily not worked.

 

ROB: Anybody can rattle off policy. But here’s what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand, that you lefties don’t. Charm wins all battles. Policy wins nothing.

 

MCKENZIE: That would explain why the first night of the convention was completely devoid of policy, and full of Cialis ads starring John Kasich and a singing Dracula dancing to dad rock.

 

ROB: What do we do with Biden’s number?

 

MCKENZIE: We gotta ask Whitney. Loop her in.

 

ROB: I’ll send her the Zoom link.

 

(Rob starts typing)

 

MCKENZIE: …Do you find that our antics are less visually interesting when they’re mostly over Zoom?

 

ROB: Hmm?

 

MCKENZIE: Nothing, just an observation.

 

ROB: Sent.

 

(They wait a few moments)

 

MCKENZIE: Kevin and I started watching Disney Plus’ Hamilton-

 

ROB: How is it?

 

MCKENZIE: It’s not bad- (Window pops up reading “Whitney Stone has been admitted to the waiting room”) oh, thank God.

 

(McKenzie presses “admit”, and Whitney pops up)

 

WHITNEY: How’d it go?

 

ROB: We got Joey’s digits.

 

WHITNEY: What? You got Joe Biden’s number?!

 

MCKENZIE: Yeah, you know how he gives it out to people? Because he “cares”?

 

WHITNEY: Holy shit.

 

MCKENZIE: What do we do with it, though? We can’t just call Joe Biden out of the blue, can we?!

 

ROB: Why not?! I’m good friends with Kamala, I’ll just tell him that.

 

WHITNEY: You keep saying that, but you’re not. You met her once.

 

ROB: She said it was “nice speaking to me!” And she gave me her office number!!

 

MCKENZIE: That is, fully public information.

 

WHITNEY: We need a different tactic, here.

 

MCKENZIE: …What if we…called Joe Biden pretending to be Obama? I do a MEAN Obama. (McKenzie affects a deeper, halting voice) Uhhhhh, let me be clear. Uhhhhhh, the American people-

 

WHITNEY: Stop.

 

ROB: Whitney’s right, we need to pretend to be somebody he hasn’t heard from in a long time, so he doesn’t recognize that we’re imposters. Maybe his dad.

 

WHITNEY: His dad is dead.

 

ROB: Yeah, precisely, we pretend to be his dad and go like “OoOoOoOoH! SoOoOoOoN! Take it easy on China or I’ll hAaAUuUuNT YOuUuUU!”

 

WHITNEY: Jesus!
 

MCKENZIE: Aren’t you a Biden supporter? That’s a really cruel thing to do to someone, especially someone whose lost their wife and two of their children!

 

ROB: Yeah, you’re right, they shouldn’t be a close relative, how about Corn Pop’s ghost? He was afraid of him! Remember, Corn Pop was a bad dude.

 

MCKENZIE: I can get behind that.

 

WHITNEY: NO! Out of the question! Now that I think about it, if we call him to pressure him into backing off China, we’re playing with fire. What if Republicans next year start their own Mueller Investigation, but for the Biden campaign, regarding China?

 

(Rob and McKenzie shrug and nod)

 

ROB: So, what do we do then?

 

WHITNEY: Hold on to the number just in case, but let’s try to contact the Biden campaign through official channels first.

 

ROB: Laaaaaaame.

 

WHITNEY: What was that?

 

ROB: Laaaaa- goooooood! Le Good. It’s a French restaurant, we should get it for, le lunch.

 

WHITNEY: Goodbye.

 

(Whitey leaves the meeting)

 

MCKENZIE: Is that a real place? Because I could fuck up some gross soups.

 

(Cut to Evelyn sitting in the living room, on her laptop, mid-day. Luther walks in and stretches. He walks over to the adjoining kitchen and opens his Keurig and sticks a K-cup inside. Evelyn puts her laptop on the coffee table and stands up)

 

EVELYN: I ate lunch early, would you like to have intercourse during our lunch hour?

 

(Luther walks into the living room and leans against the kitchen counter)

 

LUTHER: Nah, I’m good. Thanks, though.

 

EVELYN: …I’m confused. You usually value our afternooners.

 

LUTHER: They’re called “nooners”, Evelyn, and I’m just not up to it today.

 

(Evelyn tilts her head to the side)

 

EVELYN: Would this have anything to do with our argument last night?

 

LUTHER: Don’t be silly.

 

EVELYN: I’m NOT being silly. Listen. A lot of cops are bad. Way too many cops. That murderer Derek Chauvin is one of them. But claiming they are all bad is overly simplistic, no?

 

LUTHER: What is a good cop, Evelyn? A good cop is someone who not only doesn’t use excessive force but reports other cops who DO use excessive force. Which amounts to almost none of them. There may be good cops, but not enough to matter, because good cops often get fired. Because they’re not “team players”. Maybe your dad was one of the rare good ones, but the odds are against it.

 

EVELYN: What if I told you that my dad was the one who arrested your dad?

 

(Luther furrows his brow)

 

LUTHER: What?! That’s so unlikely, there’s no way that’s true.

 

EVELYN: It’s not, but what if I told you that?

 

LUTHER: It wouldn’t matter, Evelyn. This is how I feel. Too many people who look like have been killed by cops, only for no other cop to come forward and testify against them, for me to think that a significant number of them can be good. That’s just how I feel.

 

EVELYN: A lot of them are stressed out because they see traumatizing events on a weekly basis!

 

LUTHER: That don’t give them permission to brutalize and kill people!
 

EVELYN: I know, but are you saying that my dad- (Evelyn pulls out her wallet and reveals a photograph of her father, a tall man with a goatee in a Sacramento police uniform, with his hand on the shoulder of a four-year-old Evelyn, circa 1990) who I spent my ENTIRE LIFE looking up to, and who I haven’t seen in 28 years, is some kind of monster!?

 

(Luther pauses)

 

LUTHER: Wait, 28 years? Evelyn, was your dad killed in the line of duty?

 

(Evelyn sighs and puts the picture away)

 

EVELYN: No, he just…abandoned us when I was six. (Luther is taken aback and confused) Last time I heard, he works a force in Richmond.

 

LUTHER: …Doesn’t that maybe make you rethink the idea that some cops are good people? (Evelyn grinds her teeth, grabs her face and starts moaning) Babe! No! (Luther runs over and holds her) Babe, o, I’m sorry…it’s okay, I’m sorry…

 

(Evelyn softly moans into Luther’s shoulder. Cut to Evelyn lying down on the bed in their bedroom. Luther walks in with a bowl of soup, which he places on her bedside table)

 

EVELYN: What is this?

 

LUTHER: Some soup I ordered from Le Good, a French place in the palisades.

 

(Evelyn shrugs)

 

EVELYN: French food is too rich. Can you concoct a soup out of soylent and floating pieces of cauliflower? I prefer my foods to be all one color.

 

LUTHER: Maybe later, okay? (Beat) Why didn’t you tell me your dad was a cop earlier?

 

EVELYN: Why did you never ask?

 

LUTHER: I thought since you never talked about your dad, you must’ve had a good reason. So, why?

 

EVELYN: …Because I knew how you felt about police officers, and how your dad is in prison, and I did not want you to think less of me.

 

LUTHER: …Evelyn, no offense to your dad, but I think you’re a much better person than he is.

 

EVELYN: …You’re correct in your evaluation, Luther. I admit it. He abandoned us because he hated all the work that goes into raising an autistic daughter. He was a deadbeat.

 

LUTHER: But you looked up to him?

 

EVELYN: Yes, because I thought, for the longest time, that I did something wrong, that made him leave, so I wanted to be more like him. I almost pursued a career in law enforcement. But my mom told me it would be hard for someone on the spectrum.

 

LUTHER: So, you chose-?

 

EVELYN: Real Estate, precisely.

 

(Luther nods, and slides into bed, holding Evelyn)

 

LUTHER: I love you.

 

EVELYN: I also love you. (Beat) Don’t we have to return to work in a few minutes?

 

LUTHER: Nah, they’re just gonna assume we fell asleep after having sex. You tell them every time we do it, anyway.

 

EVELYN: I don’t see the point of dishonesty.

 

(Cut to Hannah showing Olivia the Trump pamphlet with Xandra on it, in Hannah’s room)

 

OLIVIA: Oh, dear. That top is awfully revealing.

 

HANNAH: That’s what you’re focused on?!

 

OLIVIA: Well, are you going to notify her about this?

 

HANNAH: I don’t know! My sponsor made me cut enablers out of my life, so I deleted her number, blocked her on all social media, but the problem is, she messaged me her number on Zoom!

 

OLIVIA: But I don’t think it’s likely that she consented to this use of her image.

 

HANNAH: Yeah, I think that’s safe bet.

 

OLIVIA: Ask your sponsor, then.

 

(Hannah nods)

 

HANNAH: Damnit. Okay. You’re right.

 

(Hannah takes out her phone, and starts scrolling through it)

 

OLIVIA: …What are you doing?

 

HANNAH: Looking up a voice modulator.

 

OLIVIA: Hannah!

 

HANNAH: FINE! (Hannah puts her phone away) I guess I’ll let her know it’s me…

 

(Hannah walks away. Cut to Xandra sitting in her apartment. It’s trashed, red solo cups, cigarette butts and crumbs on the ground. Dirty mirrors on her coffee table, and assorted pill bottles. Her laptop is open on her coffee table. She’s settled into her couch, wrapped in a blanket and looking like a zombie, as she watches Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s DNC speech)

 

CONGRESSWOMAN OCASIO-CORTEZ: A movement striving to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia. And to propose and build reimagined-

 

(Xandra gets a Skype call from Hannah, and she jumps out of her blanket burrito to answer it, and bumps her knee on the coffee table in the process)

 

XANDRA: FUCK!

 

(Hannah shows up on screen)

 

HANNAH: Hey, are you alright?

 

XANDRA: Yeah, I just- fucking hit my knee. What’s up, girl?

 

HANNAH: I, just wanted to- wait, are you having parties right now?

 

XANDRA: No, I, uh…just haven’t had a chance to clean up from my last party.

 

HANNAH: Your last party…five months ago?

 

(Xandra nods)

 

XANDRA: …I’ve been busy. So, uh…why’d you hit me up?

 

HANNAH: Well. It’s nothing really, I just-

 

XANDRA: Drop the act, I know why you reached out. You been missing me.

 

HANNAH: Xandra, don’t do that thing where you ignore me and jump to conclu-

 

XANDRA: Let’s meet at that diner on Vermont, with the outdoor seating. Fred 62.

 

HANNAH: Xandra, just listen.

 

XANDRA: Noon, tomorrow. Bring your mask, AND your ass.

 

HANNAH: Xandra, a picture of you- (Xandra hangs up) is featured on a- goddamnit.

 

(Hannah sits back in her office chair, in her room. Totally exasperated. Marcus peeks his head in)

 

MARCUS: Your lesbian lover hung up on you?

 

HANNAH: Yeah. Did your ‘roid dealer hang up on you? Your quads look a little thin.

 

(Marcus scoffs, and looks at his quads)

 

MARCUS: I know you’re just being a bitch, but like…do they really?

 

(Cut to Hannah standing on the back porch, on the phone)

 

HANNAH: So, is it okay to meet with her under those circumstances?

 

(Cut to a middle-aged blonde woman in a white dress shirt, sitting in her living room, on the phone. Intercut between them)

 

LAURA: Sorry, what are the circumstances?

 

HANNAH: I have to tell her about this photo she’s in.

 

LAURA: But, you guys ran into each other on a Zoom meeting, where the topic was protesting the DNC?

 

HANNAH: …Yeah?

 

LAURA: Why would you protest the DNC, do you want Trump to win?!

 

HANNAH: …No, we just think that Biden’s policies aren’t sufficient to address the problems of our time-

 

LAURA: Why don’t you grow up, put those gripes aside until after the election, and-

 

(Hannah hangs up and rubs her eyes. She moves toward the side of the house as if attracted by a magnet and screams into the wall. Cut to Hannah, mask on, walking down Vermont Avenue, toward Fred 62, which is surrounded by outdoor seating. Xandra is sitting at an outdoor table, with her mask pulled down, as she enjoys a mimosa. Xandra flags down Hannah. Hannah smirks and walks over to the table. She sits across from Xandra)

 

XANDRA: Oh my God, it’s so good to see you! Get a mimosa, they’re on me.

 

(Xandra tries to flag down a waiter, but Hannah holds up her hand)

 

HANNAH: No, Xandra, really, I can’t stay.

 

XANDRA: Like Hell you can’t, that’s why you called. (The waiter, who’s wearing a face shield, walks over) She’ll have what I’m having.

 

HANNAH: Actually, I’ll take a water, thanks.

 

WAITER: Alright, which one is the real order?

 

HANNAH: The one that the actual person who the order is for said.

 

XANDRA: Fine, I’ll get a second mimosa. (To Hannah) And you can have it if you want.

 

(Hannah sighs, as the waiter nods and walks away)

 

HANNAH: Xandra. This is not a romantic visit.

 

XANDRA: But I’ve been missing you, red.

 

(Xandra sticks her leg out under the table, and tries to brush it against Hannah’s but Hannah bucks at her leg, and moves back)

 

HANNAH: Two months ago, when I tweeted about my Zoom birthday party, you commented that you couldn’t imagine something “less fun”.

 

XANDRA: I know. (Xandra rests her hand on her cheek and sips her Mimosa) I’m a bitch. But I’ve had a shit ton of time to reflect the last few months, and I realized that I only lashed out at you because I was bitter that you left me.

 

HANNAH: It took you months to figure that out?

 

XANDRA: I did a deep, deep dive. (Xandra runs her hand down her chest and makes a slicing noise with her mouth) Like, John Oliver type shit. (Xandra pulls an imaginary orb out of her chest) This is what I found. The essence of my bitchiness. Hold it in your hand. Here.

 

(Xandra hands the orb to Hannah. Hannah regards it with a grimace)

 

HANNAH: What the fuck are you talking about?

 

XANDRA: I want you to know I’ve changed. Dr. Blum makes me hold my problems in my hands like they’re real objects. But I want you to feel the weight of my bitchiness.

 

HANNAH: I’ve felt it already, thanks.

 

XANDRA: Hold it. (Xandra inches it closer to Hannah. She rolls her eyes and picks it up) What does it feel like?

 

HANNAH: It feels like I’m curling my fingers upwards to accommodate a non-existent orb. That’s what it feels like, Xandra. (Pause) Look. What we had was insane. It was a 24-hour carousel of madness.

 

XANDRA: Thank you.

 

HANNAH: It’s not a compliment. I mean- I enjoyed it, for a while. You allowed me to do something I had never let myself do before, live. But the life I lived was, empty. Just a growing snowball of distractions.

 

XANDRA: …Fine. Maybe you don’t want to go back to me. But I’ll tell you, I got a COVID test in preparation for us meeting. I’m clean.

 

HANNAH: Good for you.

 

XANDRA: So. If you want to have sex one last time-

 

HANNAH: Oh, my God.

 

XANDRA: I am more than ready to leave without paying.

 

(Hannah glares at Xandra. Hannah takes out the Trump pamphlet and places it in front of Xandra)

 

HANNAH: That’s why I reached out. Literally just that.

 

(Xandra looks down and sees the pamphlet)

 

XANDRA: …I’m confused, you’re with Trump now?

 

HANNAH: NO! Look at the picture!
 

(Xandra takes a second look, her eyes widen, and she looks up)

 

XANDRA: What the fuck?

 

HANNAH: My shithead brother got that in the mail. Figured I should let you know about it, before he took it to the bathroom with him.

 

(Xandra shakes her head)

 

XANDRA: …I guess I have to call the Trump campaign…why would they even use my picture, I’m not a minority…

 

(Hannah stands up and places a few bills on the table)

 

HANNAH: Maybe they needed more cup size diversity.

 

XANDRA: You’re going?

 

HANNAH: This why I reached out. Okay? Please accept that.

 

(Hannah walks away. Xandra sits back, in a state of shock. The waiter walks over with the second Mimosa)

 

WAITER: Alright, here you are- (Xandra knocks the mimosa out of his hand, and it comes crashing to the floor, in a flurry of glass) oh my God!

 

(Xandra takes out a few bills and throws them on the table)

 

XANDRA: You can bill me.

 

WAITER: I will! (Xandra walks away) PEOPLE COULD STEP ON THIS, YOU KNOW!
 

(Cut to Rob and McKenzie in a Zoom meeting with California candidates, like Chris Bubser, and others. Rob is still in his tuxedo)

 

ROB: So, the second time I met Tom Selleck was in his front yard, when I crashed into his mailbox, and he was a perfect gentleman about it-

 

(Christy Smith joins the meeting)

 

CHRISTY: Oh. Hello, Rob.

 

MCKENZIE: Fuck. Is that why we’re here?

 

ROB: Christy. Nice to see you.

 

CHRISTY: Chris, I take it you invited them?

 

CHRIS: He ran against you, I thought we’d present a United Front, of sorts.

 

CHRISTY: Well. No problem, I know it was a tough campaign, but it’s good to see you, Robert.

 

MCKENZIE: Remember, Rob, we have a specific purpose here-

 

ROB: No, Kenz, I know. I can stay on task.

 

MCKENZIE: Good.

 

ROB: Christy, I’m sure you can use your influence as a sitting Congresswoman to influence policy regarding-

 

CHRISTY: Rob. Are you really doing this?

 

ROB: Really doing what?

 

CHRISTY: I’m not a sitting congresswoman, and you know it.

 

ROB: You’re not? (Faux shock) Wait, Mike Garcia didn’t win, did he!?

 

CHRISTY: YOU KNOW HE DID, ASSHOLE! You know what?! Gloat all you want, I was gonna take the opportunity to ask for your endorsement, but fuck it!

 

ROB: Wait!

 

MCKENZIE: What?! Why?!

 

CHRIS: Can I go? I have a whole itinerary to get through, the first topic is “Restoring America’s Promise”, the second topic is “The Soul of America”-

 

MCKENZIE: THESE ARE NOT TOPICS! THEY’RE PLATITUDES WITH THE WORD “AMERICA” AFTER THEM! SHUT UP!

 

(Chris Bubser gets scared and leaves the meeting)

 

ROB: Christy, are you seriously open to an endorsement?

 

CHRISTY: Yes. Most of the celebrities who campaigned for me forgot that I existed after I lost, because they didn’t know I would have another shot at this in November. Plus, Garcia won the creep vote by 8%, so I need someone like you in my corner. As long as nobody knows that I asked for it.

 

MCKENZIE: He’ll do it, but we need you to issue a statement of reconciliation toward China.

 

CHRISTY: What? Why?

 

ROB: We have business interests in China, and to appease them, we need to bring them something. You don’t have to actually follow through, but at least shake hands with a Chinese-looking businessman or download TikTok or something.

 

MCKENZIE: OR just release a statement saying you hope to work with China towards a more peaceful world- maybe? See, Rob, I’m just offering another option. But thanks for your, suggestions.

 

CHRISTY: I’m not gonna appease China just for your endorsement, I don’t need it THAT badly.

 

ROB: Fine, don’t complain to me when you’re conceding to Garcia.

 

CHRISTY: You think he wouldn’t POUNCE the moment I signaled weakness on China?

 

MCKENZIE: He might, but he would definitely pounce if he found out you begged for Rob’s endorsement.

 

CHRISTY: I didn’t beg, I asked- and how would he know? (Rob gasps. Christy’s eyes widen) You bitch!

 

MCKENZIE: That’s right, Smithy, I recorded the Zoom. You never know when it might come in handy.

 

ROB: Who’s Smithy? Is my old butler on the Zoom?

 

CHRISTY: You can’t just do that!

 

MCKENZIE: Just one statement, Christy, that’s all I want. It’ll be BURIED in the convention coverage.

 

(Christy Smith sighs and taps her fingers impatiently)

 

CHRISTY: …And you’ll make an endorsement video for me?

 

ROB: I’ll put my whole heart into it. Maybe the rest of me, too.

 

CHRISTY: I want a rough cut.

 

ROB: Whoa! I thought you didn’t ask for it, why would you have veto power? (Christy grimaces) What do you think, Kenz, for a filming location? Strip club?

 

MCKENZIE: Perhaps one of Simi Valley’s fine meth dens?

 

CHRISTY: …Fucking fine, just get it done.

 

MCKENZIE: As soon as you release the statement, we will.

 

CHRISTY: Pricks.

 

(Christy leaves the meeting. Rob and McKenzie start laughing)

 

ROB: Holy shit.

 

MCKENZIE: Oh, my God. Should I feel bad about that?

 

ROB: Maybe!

 

(Cut to Rob sitting in a bubble bath, with a glass of virgin champagne at his side. Imogen is standing behind a video camera on a tripod right in front of him. She presses record)

 

ROB: Hello, hello, my friends and family in California’s 25th district. I know this year has been hard on all of us. (Rob takes a sip of virgin champagne) A lot of people are struggling right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s why we need to stick together more than ever. That’s why I thank my landscape every time I see him, for doing the essential work we need. But we need leaders who care. That’s why I’m proud to endorse-

 

IMOGEN: Rob.

 

ROB: What? You just ruined a perfect take!

 

IMOGEN: Rob, don’t you think this setting is maybe a bit, tone-deaf? Considering the economic hardship millions are going through?

 

(Rob reflects for a second and nods)

 

ROB: You’re right. (Cut to Rob, McKenzie, Miles, Luther, Evelyn, Alec and Noel in a Zoom meeting. Rob is screen-sharing, as they watch a cut of Rob’s endorsement video. Rob is standing near his pool, overlooking the Hollywood Hills, and he’s drinking a can of Coors) I, like you, Clement Q. Averageman, like Coors beers. And I like Christy Smith, just the same. Vote for her on November 3rd, and let’s bring America back to common sense, Simi valley values.

 

(Rob smiles. The ad fades out, and Rob ends screen-share)

 

ROB: Don’t worry, that beer was filled with water.

 

MILES: Just like regular Coors.

 

WHITNEY: Alright. Well. Terrible video aside-

 

ROB: Excuse me?!

 

WHITNEY: You got Smith to release a statement on China, and I think it’s enough to appease Li and Zhang. So, good job, you guys.

 

ROB: Thank you, on behalf of both of us.

 

MCKENZIE: I can talk, thanks. Thank you, Whitney.

 

ALEC: Alright, do we wanna move on to film financing?

 

EVELYN: Let’s not, Luther and I took a long lunch so we could have longer sex.

 

(Luther sighs)

 

ROB: Yeah, before we move on, Whitney, are we sure that statement is gonna be enough?

 

(McKenzie gives Rob a glare)

 

WHITNEY: Yes, Rob, trust me, all they want is a symbolic gesture. They know we can’t drive the policy direction of the potential next President.

 

ROB: But what if we could? Like, say, if we have his number?

 

WHITNEY: Robert. No. Please, just take “yes” for an answer.

 

EVELYN: But you just said “no”.

 

WHITNEY: No, I didn’t mean- this meeting is over. Push everything else until tomorrow.

 

(Whitney leaves the meeting, and eventually everyone leaves, but Rob and Luther are the last ones. Luther is about to leave)

 

ROB: Luther, stay!

 

(Luther looks up)

 

LUTHER: What?

 

ROB: Stay for a bit, I wanna try something with you.

 

LUTHER: Look, man, I don’t want any trouble.

 

ROB: What? Are you a nervous black dude in an old movie? Just let me try something with you.

 

LUTHER: Yeah, man, see, that kinda talk makes me nervous.

 

(Rob starts typing and presses enter)

 

ROB: I just sent you Joe Biden’s phone number. I want you to call him and pretend to be Corn Pop.

 

LUTHER: Man, what the fuck are you-

 

ROB: I’ll pay you 25,000 dollars.

 

LUTHER: …Alright, let’s do it.

 

ROB: Just say you’re Corn Pop’s ghost, and that you want him to go easy on China, or you’ll haunt him. Have fun with it.

 

LUTHER: I’m playing a cruel prank on a senile old man, but I’ll try to muster some fun, I guess.

 

ROB: Go ahead.

 

(Luther takes out his phone and starts dialing. Cut to Vice President Joe Biden sitting in his basement, with his campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon and a speechwriter. They are going over paper copies of his keynote speech)

 

JEN: So, I thought we should touch on the theme of “building back better”-

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Why do I say “public option” right here?

 

JEN: …You’re just laying out your policies, sir. You ran on a public option.

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Okay. Well, maybe we should cut that, just for the sake of time.

 

JEN: It’s like, twenty-five minutes, but alright, sure. We can cut it.

 

(Jen, Joe and the speechwriter mark their speeches with sharpies. Joe’s cell phone rings)

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Hold on.

 

(Joe takes out his phone and looks at it)

 

JEN: Who is it?

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: It’s a 708 area code, I think that’s Chicago.

 

JEN: Don’t answer it-

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I give my number out to a lot people, is all-

 

JEN: I know, I keep telling you to stop doing that-

 

(Biden answers the phone)

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Hello?

 

(Jen drops her head in exasperation. Cut to Luther in his home office, on the phone with Biden, in a Zoom call with Rob. Intercut between them)

 

LUTHER: YO, JOE!

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes? This is Joe, who is this?

 

LUTHER: Motherfucka, this the ghost of Corn Pop!  

 

(Rob smiles broadly)

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Okay, tough guy, who is this really?!

 

LUTHER: Man, I got a lotta homies dealin’ with gangs in China, you better not fuck with them niggas, ya got it?

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Real funny, buster. You got me.

 

JEN: Joe, hang up.

 

LUTHER: I’m dead-ass, nigga, ‘member when you pussied out at that pool in Wilmington when I was preparing to kick your white ass? That’s what you best be doin’ with China, or I’ll haunt you, on my mama, motherfucka.

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: You wouldn’t dare, Corn Pop. I thought you changed, man.

 

JEN: JOE! Hang up!

 

(Vice President Biden angrily hangs up)

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Goddamn crank callers.

 

(Cut to Luther hanging up the phone on the Zoom call)

 

LUTHER: Holy fuck.

 

ROB: I can’t believe you did that.

 

LUTHER: Can we retroactively make it $50,000?

 

(Rob nods)

 

ROB: Sure. You think that worked?

 

LUTHER: …I tried to sound like an old white dude’s worst nightmare of a scary black dude, so, hopefully.

 

(Cut to Vice President Biden, wearing a mask, speaking to reporters in front of his house in Delaware)

 

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Listen, President Trump has let China get away with murder! They manipulate our currency, they steal our intellectual property, they’re bad dudes doing bad things in the South China Sea! No longer, under a Biden Administration! I don’t care what Corn Pop says, it’s time to get tough on China!

 

(We zoom out from a clip of this statement, to see it’s being played by Whitney over screen share, in a company-wide Zoom meeting. Whitney pauses the video)

 

WHITNEY: So, this has been trending all morning. Someone want to explain why?

 

MCKENZIE: What the fuck?

 

MILES: I think maybe I can explain- he’s a 77-year old man who’s losing his mind, running against a 74-year old man who is also losing his mind. Did I get it right?

 

WHITNEY: GUYS. If I don’t get an explanation THIS INSTANT, I will lose it. Don’t tell me it’s a coincidence!

 

(Luther is about to speak up, but Rob gets there first)

 

ROB: It was me. I thought we could get more out of Biden, so I called pretending to be Corn Pop’s ghost. It was stupid. And I’m sorry.

 

(Luther puts his hand down and smirks gratefully)

 

WHITNEY: Nobody else was involved? McKenzie?

 

MCKENZIE: I was not-

 

ROB: McKenzie was not involved. Trust me.

 

(Whitney sighs)

 

WHITNEY: Well, Rob, I’ve got Li and Zhang up my ass about this. So, it’s YOUR job to smooth this over.

 

ROB: Don’t worry about that.

 

(Rob pulls out a tuxedo on a hanger and a bottle of non-alcoholic wine)

 

WHITNEY: What are you doing?!

 

MCKENZIE: No, no, I get your skepticism, but this shit works.

 

(“That’s What I Want to Hear” by Phil Ochs comes in as we cut to Xandra sitting in her living room, with a line of cocaine on a mirror on her coffee table. Joe Biden is making his acceptance speech on TV. She’s staring at her phone, where Hannah’s contact page is staring her right in the face. Xandra takes a deep breath, and then a deep snort of cocaine, as the camera drifts towards Biden’s face on screen. Cut to Hannah smelling a scented candle in her living room. She’s there with her father, sister and brother, watching Biden’s speech. Marcus and Carter appear to be yelling at the screen. Hannah is staring at an unsent text to Xandra on her phone, reading simply, “Sorry if I”, so far. She puts her phone away. Cut to Luther and Evelyn sitting in their living room, watching Biden’s speech. There’s a little distance between them. Evelyn looks over at Luther, but he doesn’t meet her gaze. When he finally does, she looks down.  Cut to Imogen looking through the fridge. She finds Rob’s virgin wine and takes a taste. She nods and puts it back. Then she finds his virgin champagne and takes a taste. She nods and puts it back. She tastes his Coors, and the spits it out with disgust and throws it back. The camera pans back, to Rob, who’s standing in the dining room, looking at Imogen as she does this, looking disappointed. Cut to credits)

 

THE END


Submitted: August 25, 2020

© Copyright 2021 NEONETWORK. All rights reserved.

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