Friday, October 24, 2014

Published on Amazon

Take a look at it. I'd appreciate comments. It does have adult content but nowhere is it lurid.
This is my second novel in a series of historical fictions. The next one is soon to be finished titled Adrienne.
http://www.amazon.com/Book-Job-Revisited-Taxi-Romance-ebook/dp/B00NY2JQYC





My first novel, A Time Ago and Then, of this series was originally published on smashwords.com but is now available on Amazon. The two novels are connected but stand on their own:
 http://www.amazon.com/Time-Ago-Then-McGee-Book-ebook/dp/B00NY5F8Q4/

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On to Asturias

Sleeping… hung-over… soothed by the lullaby rhythm of steel wheels on steel tracks… chunk-cat-clack…chunk-cat-clack… chunk-chunk… Then noise: a whistle… awake… another town… steam hissed… exploded from pistons, escalated by the chatter and clamoring of another group of volunteers boarding. Alesandro peered through half-shut lids to watch the eager new ones standing in the aisle, falling against each other whenever the train jerked to a start. He’d been crammed into a seat on the wooden bench of the car, shoulder to shoulder, with young men… young or younger than he. Their voices were, from the start in Madrid, loud and boisterous… songs of the revolution… “A Las Barricades!” Bravado smothered fear and anticipation, driven by the cheers of crowds alongside the tracks. Red and black flags on “la locomotora del destino” chugged their cars away from the station and from the safety of homes and chalkboards of classrooms.
After this disruption of not-thought, his attention turned to the changing Castilian landscape that passed his window… images flashed by. The train wound its way towards Asturias; another country on the far side of Spain. Some aboard were CNT labor unionists, veterans of street fighting, but most were volunteers: metropolitan boys with pink hands. The propaganda posters depict men; masculine men with chiseled chins and muscled forearms, fists thrust skyward over the barricades... men, not boys… boys who hoped to be greeted with cheers and welcomed by the calloused hands of miners holding firm at the barricades of Gijón and Oviedo, they would be heroes; heroes alright, dead heroes.

The train that left Madrid was loaded up with untrained young and eager faces armed by little more than the enthusiasm and the naivety of youth. Only a few had seen blood from more than a scratch before and were unprepared for what awaited them in the mining towns in and above Oviedo or Gijón on the Biscay coast. From Madrid they crossed north through the heartland of Castile-Leon and into a region of rugged mountains. Towns and stations that prominently posted the red and black flags of the Revolucion flashed by Alesandro’s window like in a dream. The rails were controlled by the anarchist labor union, the CNT, most sympathetic to the cause. But, this was an irony of a civil war full of ironies that, in cooperation with the new Republic in Madrid, the same union trains, controlled by the same union, would fill its cars with experienced and hardened Moroccan troops. Regular Army troops of Colonel Yague and General Ochoa, steamed towards Basque Country under orders of the Generals of the Republic in Madrid, Francisco Franco and Manuel Goded. Sent to quell the miners’ general strike that had crippled most of the country. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Shake My Cage


Chapter 9: Mad Max

Shake my cage and free me from it.
There he was again, in County jail. Max’s life was looking like an old country song, “I’m in the Jailhouse Now.” He tried to decipher the confusion… thoughts ran wild… “Pardon me, Hank Williams, but I don’t want to be in one of your songs at this moment, eh?” He thought he’d broken that cycle when he got sober but here he was, thinking “Surely, I ought to be able to get out on O.R. first thing in the morning… no outstanding warrants or fines… living pretty clean too…what does all this have to do with a cosmic plan?”
A newly familiar calm came over him as he sat on the bunk once all the noise of the concrete and steel settled down after lights-out. Max was at peace and it felt as though a hand was on his shoulder. He turned to look but no one was there. So he sat with his back to the wall of the cell… Hell, he was given a private cell, isolation they call it, and he waited there while his mind leafed through old catechism stories… thinking again, “Would an angel appear before me, shake my cage, and unlock it?” The gentle hand on his shoulder assured him and he fell into a deep sleep.
            The next morning Max still had the feeling of that hand and everything became clear... all this shit. He didn’t know how it would turn out or what motives and powers were behind it but he knew for sure that he was to play an important part in some sort of cosmic drama. It was a cosmic drama that made perfectly clear what his next step would be. He hadn’t known such clarity since that day in the hooch with Kuka a decade before.
He slept and every night a dream, or vision, of a Kachina Jaguar... sometimes with Kuka’s face... danced around him singing a chant... “you are back in the tall grass”. About a week later that he was awakened at three in the morning, “McGee, roll it up, you’re goin’ home.”
“What… Someone bailed me out?”
“I don’t know… just roll it up!”
Three in the morning: What the hell? He didn’t like the feel of it. “Was I out? I could get a ride home from another cab driver, but shit,” he noticed that Richards was parked at the far end of the parking lot. Just for the hell of it he walked over to the squad car. When Richards opened his window, Max asked, “Don’t suppose you could give me a ride into town… eh?”
“I don’t think so. You know you’ve been snitched out by your junkie friends.” Richards rolled up his window and pulled away.
The cab finally arrived; his sponsor, Jim, behind the wheel. They’d been on the road for a good five minutes before Jim asked, “So, what did that cunt do to get you in jail this time, Max?”
At that moment he had a newfound distaste for the “C” word… especially when applied to Adrienne. He glared, “Drop the ‘C’ word, Jim.”
“Yeh, yeh, okay,” Jim grinned, pleased at this change in attitude. “It was on the front page of the News Suppress… but I wanted to hear your side.”
“I can’t believe it Jim, but, back there in my cell, a calm came over me and I felt a hand…” he gave Jim all the details.
“The Hand of Gawd, eh?”
“Something like that. I told you about Kuka. She came to me in dreams.”
“Awe, c’mon, Max. Don’t go psychedelic on me.”
“No, Jim, it is just that I now know there is a cosmic dance going down here and I’m in the middle of it.”
“The center of the universe, eh.” Jim scowled, “You know where that bullshit takes you.”
“Yeh, maybe you’re right...” Max admitted, “But there was this peace and clarity in knowing.”
 “Most of us didn’t think you did it and you still have your shift on the roster at the cab company.” Jim assured him, changing a subject that gave him the creeps.
“I have to check and see if the city hasn’t pulled my license,” Max would’ve been surprised if they hadn’t.
“I’m sure you can still dispatch if they did… you got everyone in the office behind you.” Jim had one eye on his rearview mirror, “A cop is tailing us.”
Sure enough, Richards was following the cab, making no attempt to make his presence unknown all the way back into town. He even parked at the end of the cul-de-sac just past Max’s place.
“Did the company bail me out?
Jim hesitated before he answered, “Naw… Sue is too tight with the cash to do that,”
“Well then, have you heard anything about Adrienne’s condition?” Max wondered if Adrienne might’ve…
“Say, you ain’t still in love with that bitch, are you?” Jim asked as Max opened the door.
Max sat back down a few minutes as though he was going to say something before Jim continued, “Y’know, maybe you’re right. You got some karma with that chick. She comes all the way to Santa Barbara… across an ocean and the whole damned continent to hook up with you. It is cosmic… it is what it is, damned karma.”
Max tried to sleep but couldn’t nod out while thinking of Adrienne… of Ryan; of Richards out there, and wondering what those damned S.O.B.’s were up to. The clarity he’d experienced in the jail cell clouded up once more.

Adrienne didn’t bail Max out. All charges against him had been dropped. The DA saw no chance for a conviction once she became able to communicate through her own lawyer. She’d also lifted the restraining order on Max. No one was charged with her beating either. It was very unusual for charges of spousal abuse or assault against any woman to be dismissed so easily. The State usually pursues charges even if the victim doesn’t want to. Max was curious about this lapse and suspected it to be a covert corruption of the justice system. He seriously wanted to know but he decided it was best to leave it be.

It was his powerlessness over it all that bugged him the most. He was damned if he was going to do nothing about her beating. Hadn’t he just spent a week in jail without an apology or a howdy-do from the law? But, he already knew that the justice system rarely, if ever, apologizes for its mistakes. Once they sink their teeth into you, no matter whether you are guilty as charged or as innocent as the baby Jesus, an ambitious prosecutor will comb the books to hit you with anything to get a conviction… unless you have connections and Max thought that he didn’t have any.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Adrienne (cont...) Danang

Chapter 8: Patrick Ryan

Ryan stood by the water cooler oblivious that he was smoking in the non-smoking police station. It was a new rule: first it was restaurants… then bars… and, even before the jails, the police station. He hadn’t read Max his rights for two reasons. One: because he Knew Max wasn’t guilty, and Two: because he hoped Max would talk more freely and give him something useful... something other than what he knew already about Nick.
Richards approached him waving the smoke aside and coughing… “What do you think?”
“He didn’t do it.” Ryan blew smoke in Richard’s face.
“What do you mean, he didn’t do it? Nick saw him coming up the hill on his motorcycle…”
“You mean, Mr. Baker?” Ryan didn’t like Richards… a sloppy cop that was too enthralled with the power a badge gave him. Ryan knew Richards had a bone for Max and he also knew Richards had another bone in his pants for Adrienne. “Then how did McGee drop her off at the hospital in his taxi?” He glared at Richards now, “Don’t piss me off, Dan. The receptionist at the ER witnessed that much and we already know Mr. Baker is a damned good liar.”

Ryan thought of himself as a good cop. He looked forward to starting each day with a good case to investigate.  Most cases were as simple as putting together a kindergarten picture puzzle. However, he hated cases where influence, old debts, and favors, filtered into his judgment… the pieces of the puzzle get smaller and it takes on three or four dimensions. He didn’t know what to do about Nick Baker because Nick Baker was a part of that kind of a puzzle. Now we had this Max McGee getting entangled in this mess with Richards pissing on the case files.

Ryan had served in the Brown Water Navy on swift boats out of Qui Nhon in Viet Nam where he met Nick's dad, Harry Baker. Harry Baker wasn’t in the Navy. He wasn’t in the Army. He wasn’t in the Marines or the Air Force either. At first Ryan thought Harry Baker was C.I.A. or maybe O.N.I. but soon learned Harry Baker was one of many contractors hired by the services to do jobs... well, jobs that were, off the record. Harry Baker was one of those people you had to work with in the services that you respected but wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with off the job. Ryan’s crew had dropped off this mysterious man in places no one but Charlie would venture into and then pick him up a hundred klics down-river. Nothing was ever said about these missions.

A year or so later Ryan had been transferred to the O.N.I. and stationed at the Saigon Embassy. Ryan was in his room when there was a knock on his door. He hated these knocks on the door. He hadn’t slept a full night in a week and he had been looking forward to hitting the sack for so long he’d stopped counting the hours, “Go away!” He shouted from his pillow, “I’m off duty.”
However, the way it works with the intelligence services, there is no such thing as off duty. His team had been investigating a case about the China White that was being stuffed into the guts of those GI’s in aluminum coffins before being shipped from Da Nang to Travis Air Force Base. Harry Baker wasn’t instrumental in uncovering who was exporting it and to whom it was imported but he was involved in taking care of the problem. Ryan’s team had uncovered the problem and, at the head of the list under the magnifying glass was Ryan’s brother.
Bonds that aren't easily broken...
“Ryan, open the door or I’ll kick it in.”
Ryan had been expecting Baker... he’d looked him up and made contact through a friend of a friend so he got off his cot and opened the door.
Ryan’s work was supposed to be about investigating and accumulating evidence to be turned over to Hoover’s suits for prosecution stateside. But for independent contractors such as Harry Baker, it was about eliminating the problem altogether. There was no official need for Ryan to bloody his gloves over a personal problem like his brother. This was, after all, a very personal problem for Ryan. His brother was stationed in Da Nang…William Ryan, Spec-4, at the Mortuary Affairs Unit. The O.N.I. boys had pulled the covers on most of those involved in the smuggling racket. William Ryan’s part was that of an amateur, way over his head in it.
“So what do you want me to do?” Harry Baker’s motives were oftentimes vague to Ryan but, suffice it to say, that he always knew what strings to jerk, how hard to jerk them, and how to use what he knew to some future advantage. The then Chief Warrant Officer, Patrick Ryan, liked Harry Baker’s ability to get things done but his likes and dislikes didn’t interest, or were of little influence, on him.
Look, I’m up for promotion. My brother...” Ryan was embarrassed to admit his motive but he was up for a promotion and the fact that his own brother might be involved in smuggling heroin made him particularly vulnerable. “I don’t want you to harm him beyond fuckin’ him up enough...”
“...enough to have him shit his pants out of this racket.” Harry paused a minute. He liked Ryan and had seen him in action. Whatever corruption he might be involved in was covered by the fact that he was good under fire. “You know you’ll owe me for this one.” 

The China Beach Surf Club
Harry met with Willy Ryan at the China Beach Surf Club. It was a casual meeting in front of the beer stand. Surf boards leaned against the beer shack, GI’s in knee length cut-off baggies hung around with bottles in hand, waiting for a set: it could have been from an Instamatic picture of any scene in Baja California or anywhere else every surfer dreams of. The surrealism of a war going on just a few klics away didn’t escape anyone’s consciousness. That is what the beer, the rum, the vodka, the gin or the pot, heroin, and for some… some are even said to chew on a taste of C-4 to get a kick assed mother-fuckin’ trippin’ high… that’s what all of that was for… to blot out the faces of smiling gooks from out of the dark of a hootch or the thump of mortars and the AK’s staccato clack of caps busted... decapitations… punji sticks, legs and limbs… bloody shit and guts spilled out… all of it that was surely awaiting the next patrol. The chances that the award for service, beyond getting fucked up in one of the above aforementioned  ways, was very likely to be in one of those aluminum boxes Army Specialist William Ryan had been packing up to be shipped back to Travis for the past six months.
Reaching out a hand to greet Harry, Willy offered, “Ya fuckin’ wanna Tiger Piss?”
Harry put a hand forth, wrapping his huge paw around the un-calloused hand of a man who’d not done a lick of work in several years. “No thanks, I’ll stick with a Schlitz.”
“Pat told me you’re some kind a skivvy honcho… got some fuckin’ Mo-Jo of some sort, eh?”
The word, fuck, Harry never did like it…, no matter where there were GI’s in Vietnam everything was fuckin’ fuckin’… mother fucker…, fucked-up, fucked-over and fuckin’ this or fuckin’ that. No offense was meant by the term and no offense was taken but Harry just wanted to get on with his business and get it fuckin’ over with.
“I want you to listen real close to me,” Harry paused long enough to make sure the kid was listening.
“I’m all fuckin’ ears,” Willy’s brain was in high gear wondering, who the fuck did my brother send over here behind these pilot’s sunglasses?
“You have a choice… You need a change of scenery,” Harry pulled out a manila envelope. “Read ‘em.”
Willy held the papers away from the sunlight for longer than it would have taken him to read them twice… … a lateral transfer to the Marines… report to Camp Schwab… rank and all. He knew the training camp in Okinawa… he’d stuffed enough of the Corps’ corpses to know what the line at the bottom of the form meant… Marine Recon units were trained there.
“Okinawa? What the fuck? A Marine recon unit? Who the fuck are you?” The papers trembled in his grip. “Shit, I ain’t being trained for fuckin’ recon… I ain’t never even been through grunt fuckin’ boot camp! How can I…?”
“Your question ought to be, what is my choice?”
“I don’t fuckin’ get it.” Like a rat in a maze… Willy’s mind had no idea where it was being led. It hit on the idea that this had to do with an O.N.I. investigation, or something like that… maybe his brother was tipping him off by sending this guy. “You got fuckin’ nothing on me. Even if you fuckin’ did, I’d take the Stockade at Presidio over humpin’ the paddies like a pig-fuckin’ grunt.
“No one said anything about Fort Mason.” Harry took off his shades so that there was no doubt left at all about his steel grey eyes.
“Hey, does the lieutenant know about this?”
“No, you’re in the clear… just another body-bagger that can’t take it anymore.”
Willy tried to stay composed but he was damned near shittin’ his pants, “Let me get this straight, you ain’t talkin’ stockade?”
“No, I’m not talkin’ prison.”


Peculiar things happen in life that turn a guy like Willy around. His first tour in Recon gave him a taste of blood… he loved it… loved it so much that he re-upped… loved it so much that, after he recovered from shrapnel wounds in Okinawa, a couple Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, he went civilian contractor for the P.R.U. He took his bullet in Cambodia or Laos… no one says… no one cares… he was a civilian and the body counts are for G.I.’s. He never got to go home in one of the silver caskets either… his newfound honor bought him a hole in the red clay. In spite of that, CWO Patrick Ryan was beholden to Harry Baker because, in a way, he’d saved his brother and, well, these are the bonds that aren’t broken very easily.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Adrienne: The Sequel to The Book of Job


The Asturias Miners Strike of 1933

The manuscript I'm working on now is written as two parts. In part one I was drawn into a history lesson on the Spanish Civil War, the Post WWII Franco Regime and the French Resistance. These were the parents of the people in part two: where they got their start and so on.

At present a plebiscite for Catalonia's autonomy is climaxing after a century of struggle by the people of Northeastern Spain. The results of which are overshadowed by Scotland's drive that just recently failed. Over on the West end of the Pyrenees another people whose language and culture were suppressed with equal ferocity by the Franco regime is often skipped over.

I'd read Hemingway and Orwell (mostly about Catalonia) and seen several documentaries and movies that covered what had gone down during that period. It was, however, difficult to find sources about the Basque people in English.... not even documentaries. The suppression of the Basque language by Franco is partially responsible for this but what sources I did find were rich with a spirit that is skipped over by the pro-Stalinist or Marxist Anarchists of Barcelona and Madrid. The libertarian Basque nationalism that the first spark that lit the flames of the Spanish Civil War begins in Asturias and still fetsers today. Asturias is where my story begins.

From Part I: The Maquisard

Chapter 2: Asturias

A group of villagers were huddled at the side of the tracks leading into a mining town nestled between steep hills. A woman patted a young girl on the head and slipped the girl behind her skirts as the Guardia Civil ordered the group to line up. The girl scurried away and down into the arroyo behind. The woman raised her fist in the air as a distraction and a last gesture of defiance with a shout, “Viva la Revolucion!”
 A man joined her with raised fist, as did the others in the group. “Viva la…” 
The girl scurried away down into the arroyo before some of the bodies, neighbors she had known since she was born, fell after a loud volley of Mausers. Then there was then a horrible silence except for a restrained moan, a few pops and cracks of pistols. She watched from her hiding place under a boulder as the refrain from an old lullaby passed softly from her lips: “Los pollitos dicen los pollitos dicen pío, pío, pío cuando tienen hambre tienen frío.” Tears clouded her vision. It would be the last time she afforded tears to wash her face for over thirty years.
            In English the whole verse is: “The little chicks say pio, pio. pio when they are hungry... when they are cold. The hen looks for the corn... gives them food, and provides them shelter. Under her wings sleeping chicks huddle together to hasten another day!”

Sleeping… hung-over… soothed by the lullaby rhythm of steel wheels on steel tracks… chunk-cat-clack…chunk-cat-clack… chunk-chunk… Then noise: a whistle… awake… another town… steam hissed… exploded from pistons, escalated by the chatter and clamoring of another group of volunteers boarding. Alesandro peered through half-shut lids to watch the eager new ones standing in the aisle, falling against each other whenever the train jerked to a start. He’d been crammed into a seat on the wooden bench of the car, shoulder to shoulder, with young men… young or younger than he. Their voices were, from the start in Madrid, loud and boisterous… songs of the revolution… “A Las Barricades!” Bravado smothered fear and anticipation, driven by the cheers of crowds alongside the tracks. Red and black flags on la locomotora del destino chugged their cars away from the station and from the safety of homes and chalkboards of classrooms.
After this disruption of not-thought, his attention turned to the changing Castilian landscape that passed his window… images flashed by. The train wound its way towards Asturias; another country on the far side of Spain. Some aboard were CNT labor unionists, veterans of street fighting, but most were volunteers: metropolitan boys with pink hands. The propaganda posters depict men; masculine men with chiseled chins and muscled forearms, fists thrust skyward over the barricades... men, not boys… boys who hoped to be greeted with cheers and welcomed by the calloused hands of miners holding firm at the barricades of Gijón and Oviedo, they would be heroes; heroes alright, dead heroes.
The train they rode left Madrid was loaded up with untrained young and eager faces armed by little more than the enthusiasm and the naivety of youth. Only a few had seen blood from more than a scratch before and were unprepared for what awaited them in the mining towns in and above Oviedo or Gijón on the Biscay coast. From Madrid they crossed north through the heartland of Castile-Leon and into a region of rugged mountains, passed towns and stations that prominently posted the red and black flags of the Revolucion. The rails were controlled by the anarchist labor union, the CNT, most sympathetic to the cause. But, this was an irony of a civil war full of ironies that, in cooperation with the new Republic in Madrid, the same union trains, controlled by the same union, would fill its cars with experienced and hardened Moroccan troops, Regular Army troops of Colonel Yague and General Ochoa, under orders of the Generals of the Republic in Madrid, Francisco Franco and Manuel Goded, to quell the miners’ general strike that had crippled most of the country.
Next to Alesandro snored the fledgling journalist; his brother by adoption and Euskara blood.  Euskara blood knows no nation but the Basque Country of the coastline and mountains along the Bay of Biscay and the Pyrenees Range of Southern France and Northern Spain.  Their bond, however, was stronger than the fraternity of blood. Alesandro Otxoa was orphaned at five years of age by the pistoleros of the Guardia Civil. Alesandro Otxoa had been embraced and given a home near Biarritz by Marcel’s half-Basque father out of loyalty to the Otxoa family. It happened during the general strikes at La Canadiense in 1919. One of his earliest memory was that of a door being kicked in… of his father’s shouting… his mother’s cursing… screams… both taken out the door… the sound of clap-crack pistol retorts… their bodies lifeless on the street.
Alesandro took his secondary level education at the Lycée Militaire and thus had an inkling of military experience: little more experience than to know how to load and shoot a rifle, to march in drills, and to study rudimentary military history on his own in the school’s library. Therefore he felt responsible for, and protective of, Marcel, whose military ambitions were next to nil and who wasn’t supposed to be on this train in the first place.
The storm clouds forming in the atmosphere over the Second Republic of Spain were dark with foreboding: a civil war of which the life of Alesandro (Gotson) Otxoa would be entangled, from his first taste of combat in this one week in October of 1934, until his imprisonment in Carabanchel in the mid nineteen-fifties.
Alesandro was determined, and obligated by his heritage, to leave the comfort and safety of Bayonne at twenty years of age to join the CNT of the anarchist movement rising up in Barcelona. There in Madrid, as soon as he heard the news of the strike, he tried to bid farewell to Marcel over wine in a café alongside of other boys eager to become men.
“You aren’t going without me,” Marcel protested.
“There is too much going on here, Marcel. The people need your voice. Someone has to keep an eye on the political wrangling of Euro…” Alesandro rattled off his argument staccato knowing his words were falling on deaf ears.
“I won’t have it Alesandro, the hottest story in all of Spain is in Asturias.”
Taking a sip, holding the bottle to his lips without mocking, he said sincerely, “You’re an academic, Marcel. How well would you… would you be able to kill a man?”
“Ha, I can. Just as well as anyone. Hell, we are all amateurs!” he argued.

The brothers got drunk… so very drunk that Alesandro barely remembered agreeing to board the train singing what would be the anthem of the revolution, “La Rhumba La Carmella,” and chanting “¡Unidad, Proletaria Hermanos!” with the others. His stomach sick, he came to and swore to himself that he’d never get drunk again. It was an oath that he kept except for an occasional toast or to wash down stale bread. Alesandro knew from the time he awoke aboard that train he was going to keep his vigilance guardedly; for, one afternoon, his guard was down and his drunkenness nearly cost the life of his little brother.

The Book of Job Revisited is written in the recent past that prepares the way for the third book Adrienne: Part I. The Maquisard, and Part II.The Chaos of Obsession. If my reader hasn't done so yet, check out this link for the Book of Job Revisited and leave a comment... even if you hate it!
www.amazon.com/Book-Job-Revisited-Taxi-Romance-ebook/dp/B00NY2JQYC


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Screenplay: A Taxi Romance (excerpt)

FADE IN:

EXT. HEAVEN - BRIGHT LIGHT ABOVE - ETERNAL DAY

NARRATOR
Max had read the Book of 'Job' describing heaven, the  throne of god:  white light: Angels zip about.  The Satanic entourage approaches. Lucifer steps forward, leans with one hand on the left arm of the throne.

THE LORD
(casually)
From where do you come?

LUCIFER
From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down on it.

THE LORD
Have you considered my servant 'Job', that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God and eschews evil?  And still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved against him, to destroy him without a cause.

LUCIFER
Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.

THE LORD
Behold, he is in your hands now, but save his life.

EXT. EARTH - BIBLICAL TIMES - CITY DUMP - NIGHT

'Job' sits in rags with boils over his whole body.  Job's wife, in fine silks, adorned with jewelry, approaches him, and whispers in his ear

JOB'S WIFE
Do you still retain your integrity? Why don't you curse God and die?

INT. HEAVEN - LOWER LEVEL - CUBICALS INTO ETERNITY - MORNING

Angels sit on Oriental Rugs in a Bedouin Tent of God way up on high; while, in a dingy cubical, one of an eternity of cubicles that stretch out for an infinity, several levels down, sits a lower-level angelic bureaucrat. He reads from a large screen.

ANGEL
(Mutters)
Shit, his troubles have only begun.  Max, he's no 'Job', but is alone with or without, new, or, old friends.  He has a loving family that would have nurtured him but he will disappear from their sight for several years. Like a cat, he's gone away to lick his wounds.  Hoping that everything would be back to normal someday, someday always will be after the one he's in.  And, that reality is one he lives in for over a decade.

A nasty little imp, Lucky, enters the angel's cubical.

LUCKY
Wha cha upta, old boy.

Angel cancels the page, spins around, sees the visitor is the Imp, Lucky, with a black cat, turns back to the monitor, and fakes looking busy

ANGEL
(mildly sarcastic)
Oh, Lucky!  Did the cat drag you in?  I'm busy with some new directives on venial sins.  Some are shifting, you know.  Like eating meat on Fridays and all that.  What have you been up to old boy?

LUCKY
(puffs up its chest)
Oh, I've been tagging along with the Master Satan.  You know, Numero Uno, the Big S, to and fro, and all that.  What were you reading?

Angel turns its back to the screen and scrolls down the page, comes back to Max's name, opens the file

ANGEL
(yawns)
Lookie here.  This guy, Max?  Looks like you've been at him.

Lucky peers over Angels shoulder. Angel leans away from the smell.

LUCKY
Vaguely.  Oh yeh. Just a few days ago I smacked him down a notch or two.

ANGEL
Seems okay. Pretty good guy.  Some black marks but, well, he's human.

LUCKY
He's a damned drunk.

Angel pulls out a pint labeled Heavenly Nectar from a drawer, takes a toke, and passes it to his friend.  Lucky guzzles it down until it is empty.

Lucky points to the floor

LUCKY
(seriously)
Ah!  We don't get much of this stuff down there unless one of you guys get busted, or switch sides, smuggles a case in through the back door:  know what I mean?  All we get is rot-gut.

ANGEL
(reads consul and comments)
Yes, Max has his faults, marriage on the rocks.  She dumped him and married again. No real fault of his.  He did try to mess around back then but his heart wasn't in it. Didn't have much luck there. Good to his daughter though. Pays double the going rate for support.  Volunteered at that!  He likes his work and the inmates he helps with writing poetry, painting, sculpture, and, ah yes, even a fledgling or two with novels.

LUCKY
(bitter)
Yeh, but hey, this ego-maniac.  This A-hole has some protection goin' for him.

ANGEL
Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?

LUCKY
He has his health, his career and his wits about him.  He is a drunk but a happy drunk.  Say, give me a chance, lift that fence a bit and let me at him.  Suppose we put a case of Nectar on it.

ANGEL
Have at him if you're bored. It might be interesting to see what he is made of. I say he'll come out smelling like roses.

NARRATOR
Where's that Imp ever going to get a case of Nectar when he loses.

LUCKY
I've seen these types before.  They can be moral: all good and happy as long as they don't have to go out of their way too much for it. Let's say you let me take away his creative drive and see what happens to our happy-go-lucky chap after I'm done with him. Even the Big Kahuna won't recognize him.

Angel speaks at the screen after he watches Lucky leave

ANGEL
I've also seen cases like this before. They can't get so bad that the Big Kahuna doesn't recognize them.

FADE OUT:

FADE IN:

INT. VISION - DARK BAR - NIGHT

Bearded San Juan De la Cruz sits at a table in the back of the bar. The bar looks empty but for a prostitute at the bar, the balding barkeep and a neon Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall.

SFX: clacking of pool balls o.s. on the break with intermittent clicks and clack of each shot

SAN JUAN
(reads under his breath)
Sluts,  Dykes,  Whores, and Saints:  These are the women I've given my heart. Madonna Saint; Hard core slut; all unavailable; no contest. I fall in and out of love with a purity and intensity that confounds me. It never fails. The more they reject this unconditional love the more I crave them. Such subservience can be depended upon.

The neon Virgin of Guadalupe comes off the wall and opens her robe suggestively.

SAN JUAN
(shouts)
Senoras de la noche oscura: Masochist!  Absolutely! Absolutely!

LUCKY
(as barkeep)
Hey, knock it off or your gone!

SAN JUAN
Okay.  Right.

SAN JUAN
(low voice)
The purity of passion and intensity is astonishing, purging. This my friends is no playground masochism of leather costumes, whips and chains.

PROSTITUTE
Say, what are you reading anyway,  PORN?

San Juan stands with the book in his hand as if a preacher

SAN JUAN
(proclaims)
This here is the Big Tent, out of the donjons, an open-air variety of being led about on a leash of unfulfilled aspirations, and submitted to the sting of the whip of labored love lost!

LUCKY
Dammit, John!  Outa here!

SAN JUAN
Such a pathetic waste of time!

NARRATOR
The old junkie wasn't so far off.  Max had found his self bouncing around in the limbo of a private purgatory for so long that he'd begun to accept that San Juan de la Cruz's condition was going to define the rest of his life.


FADE OUT: