The following was one of many stories scripted for a client summer of 2020. I was asked to write something that included teenage romance and drama. They chose not to use this story as the project moved forward, so this was the only scene that was scripted. I may possibly complete the rest of it one day.
Kelly and Brenda stand near their lockers,preparing to go home at the end of the day.
Have you decided if you’re coming to Cool Beans, (coffee shop) tonight?
Hmm…I don’t know. I really should try to climb this mountain of homework.
You have three days left to finish that! Besides, you never know who you might run into there…Oh hi Jordan!
Jordan,Brenda’s crush walked up just as Kelly was finishing her sentence.
Hey Kells. Hi Brenda. What’s up?
Just trying to get Brenda the Bookworm here to have come fun with us at CB’s tonight.
Brenda’s cheeks turn red.
Yeah! You should come out with us tonight,Brenda. Even the soccer team is taking a night off for fun.
Jordan jovially pats Brenda on the shoulder.She does her best to hide her excitement.
Look at that Bren! Even the guy with the fastest feet on the team is slowing down to come out.You should too.
I never said I wasn’t coming! Just that I was thinking about it. I have a life outside of homework ya know.
Are you having trouble with your assignments? Maybe we can help each other out.
Brenda mutters. She is embarrassed,but doing her best to be polite.
Uh sure.I think that will be fine.
Sounds awesome. Maybe we can find a table and compare notes,if you come.
Jordan Winks and walks away. Brenda tries to hide her reddened face behind her books while giving a meek reply.
Yeah. See you there J.
Well,I better get going.Text me if you come out?
Sure thing. Later Kells.
Kelly closes her locker and walks away. Brenda turns around to close her locker,with an armful of books. She doesn’t see Eli walk up ,and as she turns around they collide,making the books fly everywhere.
Ohh,I’m sorry Bren, I was in such a rush.Let me help you grab these.
Eli helps Brenda scoop up her books,and they talk for a second. Eli is clearly anxious about something.
Thanks Eli. Where are you off to?
I was trying to catch…well,I guess it doesn’t matter now. Say,is there any chance you check out Cool Bean’s tonight?You and Kelly?
If everyone else goes.Maybe I’ll just come for a minute and see who’s there.
They both stand awkwardly for a minute.
Let me walk you home. Since we live on the same street and all haha.
Eli laughs nervously,as they both turn to exit the school.
After a few minutes silence as they make their way down the sidewalk,Eli musters up the courage to ask a question.
Do you have plans for the weekend?
This weekend? Not that I can think of.Why?
Oh,I was just wondering.
They walk for another beat,and Eli continues.
If you went out this weekend,with a friend,a guy friend,what would you want to do?
I don’t know,maybe…maybe I’d want to go dancing.
Dancing? Do girls like good dancers?
A guy who’s fast on his feet is always impressive.
They make it to Brenda’s house.
Do you think you could maybe teach me?
You want me to dance with you?
Eli feels like he may have crossed a line,but nervously attempts to salvage things.
Just as sorta practice.Just so I can kinda sorta figure out how girls like to dance.
Brenda isn’t sure if she wants to do this,but she gives Eli a moment of consideration.
Well,I really do need to study. How about if you see me tonight at Cool Beans,I can give you a quick lesson then. Deal?
Yeah…sure. That’d be great haha. See you around Brenda.
Eli skips off.He seems to be a bit more cheered up.
INT. COOL BEANS.DUSK
Cool Beans is clearly the teenage hangout. It’s styled like a college town’s coffee shop,but more colorful,with flyers about youth sports and activities. There are scattered groups of people talking.Some are dancing. Music is playing over the store’s public address system.
Brenda comes through the door and looks around nervously. Kelly walks over to greet her.
Look who made it out.
I decided to study another day. Who else is here? Anyone I know?
Kelly raises an eyebrow with a smirk.
If you’re looking for Jordan,he’s around. He was looking for you.
Look,I think your boyfriend is waving at you.
Brenda looked over towards the corner. Jordan looked up from a table to hail Brenda and Kelly over to where he and his friends were sitting.
Jordan scoots over to make space for Brenda to sit next to him.Kelly,ever the social butterfly, entertains the rest of Jordan’s friends.
I’m so glad you made it.
I guess I did need a break from my homework after all.
I took a night off from running soccer drills.It’s good to recharge sometimes.
Jordan smiles.Brenda smiles back.
How do you like it here?
It’s actually my first time here.The music they’re playing is nice.
It is. We should dance!
Brenda blushes.She wants to dance with Jordan,but is doing her best not to appear too eager.
Yes,that would be nice.
Jordan escorts Brenda over to where other people are dancing.Jordan attempts to coach Brenda through dancing in an attempt to put her more at ease.
That’s it.Don’t think too much,just listen to the music.
A great athlete AND a dancer.I guess you’re talented all around.
It’s not too hard.Here,just let me help you.
Jordan puts arms around Brenda to lead her.
Wow. Soccer keeps you strong.
And you’re beautiful.
Brenda leans against him as they dance.
At the doorway of the shop, Eli has just walked in.He sees Brenda with Jordan,and turns and walks back out.
In addition to writing, I am also a voice actor. Here are a few samples of my work.
In a crowded movie theater auditorium, Forrest and Seth sit amidst an excited murmuring crowd. Forrest is pumped. Seth sits in mute protest of the buzz generated around him.
“MAN, after ten years ,TEN YEARS, we are minutes away from the wrap-up,” Forrest exclaims to his unimpressed companion.
“Yeah,” is all Seth has to offer in return.
Forrest does his best not to give in to the sullen energy beside him. “ Infinity War played with my emotions real bad.I NEED to see this movie!”
Forrest gives Seth a momentary side-eye. “Come on ,” he implores. “Now I know you wanna see this movie as bad as I do.” Seth opens his mouth to offer a rebuttal,but Forrest intercepts his attempt , “…and I don’t care how anti you try to act, when you know seeing Black Panther die kicked you in the feels too.”
“When he died? Whatever Breh.” Seth folds his arm,as if shielding himself from the possibility of excitement. “ You know Cash Cow and none of the other toy mascots are dead.”
Forrest gets impatient and annoyed with Seth’s cynicism . “Why you always got to spoil the fun with yo wet snuggie ass?! Yes I know they’re coming back for more movies,but the characters aren’t aware ,and that’s what ma-”
Seth cuts him off. “I’m just sayin.Mickey Mouse is gone secure that bag. The white glove is stronger than the gauntlet. “
Forrest is not letting Seth ruin any of the hype for him. “ We talking Mickey,or Micheal? ‘Cause nothing is gone take down Thriller ! Unless Disney buys that too. “
“Unlike Peter Parker ,MJ actually is dead, “ says Seth with his sustained snide tone.
“WOW,okay. You savage tonight.”Forrest sits back and puts on his 3D glasses with a flourish like they were fashionable frames. He reclines, giving up improving Seth’s mood and embracing his own.
A theme starts,barely audible as the crowd cheers,signaling the start of the film.
The crowd applauds. The house lights come up to a den of conversation as the audience stands and exists. Everyone is thrilled,with one notable exception : Seth.
“WOOOO MAN.Now that…” Forrest gestures in wild enthusiasm in the hall ,” THAT was it! That’s how you do a superhero movie!”
“That’s definitely how they did a superhero movie,” Seth counters , affirming his sour view of the franchise.
Forrest stops in his tracks . “Now I KNOW you ain’t try to act like that wasn’t every kind of epic.” The mere thought of anything to the contrary makes Forrest shake his head. “Nope, I’m not gone let you play me, or yourself . like that. “
“Oh? But you can sit there and watch Disney jerk off on the screen like that?! Chris Evans literally checked out his own cakes!”
Making their way through the parking lot,Forrest moves over a half a foot. He refuses to even be geographically associated with Seth’s nonesene. “You ain’t got no taste. Do you even know what fun is?”
This is when Seth has had enough. “I just watched a mangy-ass racoon fight Aladdin’s genie for a bedazzled oven mit!! How am I supposed to be invested in that?!”
“And you just saw a man who once made weapons of mass destruction sacrifice himself for the universe.” Forrest claps with each word. “The Universe Seth!”
“I think I just saw a one-percenter Anglo-Saxon get his after a lifetime of war-mongering.”
Forrest does his best not to snap…no pun intended. He measures each word with all of the patience he can possibly muster. “It..,is called..a character arc . He needed to start off bad and let us see him grow. Classic redemption arc.”
“How am I supposed to relate to a rich white dude in a bootleg gundam suit? “
Forrest starts to offer a rebuttal but is shut down.
“And don’t bring up Black Pander!” Seth counters. “ I had to act like Steve Rogers being in love with the damn 40s and segregation was inspiring ,and they throw one version of Lion King on Broadway to us near the end of phase 1 .and I gotta act like It’s reparations. At least Man of Steel made Superman-”
Forrest is not having it.“What you not gone do is act like DC is beating Marvel on any day!” Forrest says the last part with his whole chest. “ Not on any day!”
Stopping at the back of his car,Seth shrugs at Forrest. “I’m just sayin, I can understand wanting to beat a mofo down in the street. I don’t know nothing about a damn mind gem though. DC might make questionable films but they have better characters.”
“You saying the Spear Babes are better than Wonder Woman n nem? “
“Hell to the yes! Black girl magic all up and through.”
“Michone don’t want none of Diana, Forrest!”
“Okoye made a rhino stop rhinoing!! Did you not see that??!”
Seth turns around and heads towards the driver side door,leaving with a facetious “Sounds like Okeydoke needs to be working at the Universoul Circus herding animals.”
“Bye. Bye. I’m so done bye.”
“But you rode with me though.You coming with to get this pizza or nah? “
Forrest mimics Seth in a nasaly delivery “yOu CoMiNg To GeT tHiS piZzA oR nAh? Negro drive and shut up. I’ma need 6 slices and abeer to put up with the blasphemy I just heard.” Forrest gets in and slams the door as his last demonstration of conflict.
Cinematography for an interview with pop music performer Kenny Pahina
Based on the Artwork of Justin Ransburg @ransburgart
It’s an honor to be here,really, but I wish it weren’t just me. Ever since I was given the Light, I’ve been on my own. The Ancestors are a collective,great for them ,but I’m out here carrying the whole mission. I always gotta bring the rock home for the score. Call me Steph Curry I guess. Most wars get an army. Most wars get publicity. Right now, it’s just me.
Sometimes they’re there,on the sidelines. The Ancestors appear in the most glorious glow. Whenever something goes down, poof, they vanish like they owe me money or something. I mean,I get they left me with a little something to handle business,but I could use the guidance,or the company.
My goal was to protect my community. If I’m being real with you,I had to protect myself too. Too many of us were being picked off. Men ,women,and even kids,all taken down like prey. Nobody believed what was happening for the longest. When I first heard Deion and Isaiah talking about the Night Dwellers being out there, I thought it was some illuminati conspiracy stuff. You know how dudes talk. “ My cousin saw one before! They pop up after dark ,that’s why you ain’t see them.” Yeah,cool story bruh. Weird stuff was going down at night,but who would’ve thought it was monsters?
But it’s another thing to see it. It didn’t hit home,but getting one of my neighbors was close enough. Seeing Isaiah crying over the body of his sister…with gashes in her back. I mean,who do you call when monsters hunt you for sport? Bless him for trying,but being the boy who cried monsters ate my sister got him the side eye from more than a few folks. Sure,some of us knew the truth, but some were too scared to speak up. What do you say when no one believes you? No one ever believes us…
Isaiah…wow.I haven’t talked to him in forever. Once I received the power,I wasn’t sure what to say anymore. I couldn’t exactly share my “blessing” with him. He gave me my space. I guess I did seem like I was acting funny. He was a good friend,when I still had any.
Not even trying to be anti,but the isolation may be all on me. People wanna boost me up. I did my best to keep what happened to me a secret,but when you go around blasting monsters at night,word gets around. They don’t know my name, or my face,but they know my reputation.
They don’t know my guilt though! Yeah I helped some folks out ,but what about the ones I didn’t? Is one life worth more than nine I can’t get to? I don’t like that ratio. It’s not like I can be everywhere. I’m not really a hero,just damage control. All that hope talk is just hype.
It was pretty much my routine to go out at night now. That’s when they liked to strike. I got the feeling their translucent skin (it’s as gross as it sounds) wasn’t too compatible with natural light.
I used to stay in to avoid the danger. No use in risking my hide. After all,I only asked for the Light to stay safe,not to go deep diving for trouble( I did mention I’m not a hero, right?) , but even when I avoided a rumble,the noise always came to me. For real ! It’s like I can always hear calls for help. The word on the street is I “hear prayers”, but really it’s more like the Ancestors gave everyone a direct line to my ear canals.
The cries seemed to get louder the closer I got to Henry Park ( how I hone in on a crisis) . There they were. The Ancestors were surrounding the park. When I got close, they were gone,like always. That definitely meant I found trouble.
And sure enough,there were two of them advancing on a mark. I never got used to how nasty they are. The Night Dwellers all had ridges on the back of their heads like a triceratops. Their arms and legs were all lanky ,with claws. All six of their fingers were more lethal than ten of yours. Their mouths opened wider than ours. These things must not have cheeks. I can never tell because their mouths are always open and dripping spit. I think I hate that part the most.
I heard it from behind me. The sour milk smell hit me before it hit me.
That blow landed solid on my left jaw. I tended to get over it pretty fast when I was hurt,but it still sucked to get hit. I learned to adapt just as quick too. Getting caught by those claws makes you learn…plus I’d already had enough of my best fits ruined by these beasts.
The two on the playground left their target ,hiding under the slide,to come after me since I was down on my knees and out in the open. They get distracted easy. I guess because they’re kinda stupid. I sprang up to my knees and extended my hand. The illumination that burst from my hand was palpable, but only enough to scorch one. It stepped back in mild pain. It was scared enough to back off a step. I guess they aren’t that stupid.
The moment’s hesitation was all I needed to collect my bearings. I clasped my hands together to perform my favorite trick. The energy exploded out of me. As they reached forward to grab whatever bit of me they could, they recoiled,but too late. They were consumed by the energy of the flare that erupted from me like I was the wick of a candle.
The claws that were inches away from my face disintegrated,along with every bit of flesh attached to them. I was only surrounded by the burst of light around me. The flash trick always works,but once a night. Makes me a little tired. At least we were safe now.
…that’s right,we! Buddy from the slide was still there. I turned to check on him. That’s when I realized I messed up . One got the drop on me. I must be stupid too. That knock had me face down in the dirt. Not a good look. I knew I’d go out sooner or later,and this was the time.
So why was it screeching in pain ? I felt a thud as it hit the ground near me. I did the dumb thing and looked up. There was a whole chunk of wood sticking outta the thing’s chest. Ol’ dude from the slide speared the monster with a stick.
It was Isaiah . Awkward.
“Ar-are they -g-g-gone?” he stammered.
“Yeah,uhh,looks like it”
We just stood there.
“W-w…where’d they come from?” he finally asked. “This like,an alien thing happening?”
“Naw. They always been here. People just don’t talk about it. I guess that’s how they keep getting us,” I explained. People think the monsters aren’t real til they see them. I know I didn’t.
“So you …You always …you f-fight them.I saw. You have superpow-“
I cut him off .I didn’t need to hear anything past super.
“I did what I had to. It ain’t that deep,”
“Well it’s not what I could do. Tha-that light! I felt safe. Man,you saved my life.”
He gave me a hug before I could stop him.Double awkward.I patted his back,ready for him to get up off me.
“Yeah well,let’s not make that news, ” I requested. “Besides,you helped me out too.”
“I was scared…but I couldn’t let you go out like my…like”
We both knew who he was talking about. I wanted to change the subject.
“Man,no. You saved my life.”
He stared for a moment. Then he smiled.
I walked him home.He was still shaken. He made it to the door of his house,and looked back at me at the bottom of the steps.
“I still hoop there ,at Henry Park.If you come we can shoot together .It’d be safe for us if you came too.”
I looked up at him,and gave a slight smile in spite of myself. ” I come through there a lot. Maybe we can.”
He went in the house. I walked on. Out of the corner of my eye I saw them. Luminous. Peaceful. Strong. The ancestors were lining my way like beacons to match the streetlights. They showed themselves to me. I started to think. Had they led me to that park tonight? Did they see it all? The light of my flare was uncannily similar to their glow. Me. Them. Isaiah. All I knew was,I wasn’t alone anymore.