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Latino Heart Project’s MEXICAN HEART…ATTACK!

November 4, 2012

Forties up, pleeze! The Latino Heart Project’s MEXICAN HEART…ATTACK! BLOG has won the National Council of La Raza/Democracy for America/Netroots Nation Scholarship, giving our blog exposure to cruise through cyber barrios around the world! Gracias for smiling with us, hugging us, choppin’ it up with us, karate kickin’ it with us & running from La Migra with us…From our hearts to yours.

Hello, my name is Elsa and I’d like to welcome you to the Screenwriter Consortium’s LATINO HEART Project.

Our blog’s mission: Call attention to the lack of entertaining, English-speaking, Latino-centric feature films.

‘Bout time, wouldn’t you say?

MEXICAN HEART…ATTACK!

From our hearts to yours.

Hang out with us on Facebook… if you dare.

You can also follow us on TWITTER:  http://twitter.com/ @LatinoHeartProj

Or email us at screenwriterconsortium@gmail.com

PLEASE SHARE THE LINK TO THIS INK…Unidos venceremos.

Don’t nobody say it better than Pancho & Spooky…

Please check in daily for your fresh dose of salsa picante. From our hearts to yours.

LA HOODRAT Chapter 6: Chasing Beans

November 4, 2012

A fly lands on a leaf, rubs its wings furiously as if expecting a delicious meal. It buzzes in anticipation, alert to an internal dinner bell, zooms through the air, and lands…SNAP!…

Inside the mouth of an alligator.  The alligator shows off his crooked grin…and the comatosed  fly stuck in its front teeth.

**

Inside Novus’ kitchen…

Eida and Novus face off at the kitchen table. Socorro sits nearby, deadly purse at the ready.

NOVUS:  No.

EIDA: Is that the only word you know? (stabs forehead) Think outside the coconut.

NOVUS: Huh?

Socorro stabs her forehead, too.

Eida shuffles paperwork…

I’ve reviewed your financial-ability.

NOVUS: My what?

EIDA: You’re drowning in the quicksand of debt.

NOVUS: What’s with all the metaphors?

EIDA: You probably owe money to the metaphors, too.

SOCORRO: Jess.

Grunt.

EIDA: Somebody’s gotta look after your Mom while you’re at work. Socorro will be her caregiver.

SOCORRO: Jess.

EIDA: We won’t charge Socorro and her three kids rent–

NOVUS: Rent? What? She’s not moving in.

EIDA: Tell your Mom the HMO sent her–home health care is covered under the health insurance.

NOVUS: It is?

Eida flips through a notebook…

EIDA: You’re in the hole for over sixteen thousand dollars–and that doesn’t include penalties, late fees and all that other piled on crap. Every month that goes by, you’re in the quicksand for another nine hundred bucks. Lucky for you…

(waves hand ala Price is Right)

This place is a gold mine.

Socorro nods in agreement. Novus’ eyes search the run-down kitchen…

NOVUS: Gold mine?

EIDA: Like we agreed, I get twenty percent of everything, understand?

NOVUS: Twenty percent…of this? Sure, why not?

DING, DONG…

EIDA: That’s for me…

She races out of the kitchen. Novus follows her into the…

LIVING ROOM

NOVUS: Wait, don’t open the…

Eida whips open the door. Half-a-dozen CHICOS & CHICAS, accompanied by assorted CHILDREN, storm inside, check out the place…SPANISH CHATTER…

EIDA: Children are half-off, the garage chicos pay less cause they got no bathroom–

NOVUS: Whoa, whoa…wait–

EIDA: Doctor Chuy will pay us per patient–

NOVUS: What? Doctor? What doctor?

EIDA: Doctor Chuy, the dentist. He’s the best dentist in Miami. But he doesn’t speak enough English to pass the State dental exam.

Novus plops into a chair.

EIDA: They almost caught him, too. Sent an undercover cop to his house posing as a patient. He figured it out before the raid. He’ll pay us five dollars per tooth.

NOVUS: This is…this is illegal.

EIDA: That’s one opinion.

SOCORRO: Si.

NOVUS: There’s no way–

SOCORRO: (to Eida) : Es hora de bañar la Señora Cindy.

(Time to bathe Mrs. Cindy)

EIDA: Si, bien.

NOVUS: What did she say?

EIDA: She’s going to give your mom a bath. Hey, how did you give her a bath? That must be weird.

NOVUS: I never gave my mom a bath.

EIDA: You’re a crappy caregiver. Let’s hope you’re a better roofer.

NOVUS: Roofer?

EIDA: You’re going to work with the garage chicos tomorrow–six bucks an hour.

NOVUS: Forget it. I don’t know anything about–

EIDA: Be ready tomorrow morning at six. Oh, and wear a baseball cap or something to cover your face and that…hair. You gotta look like an immigrant or you’ll scare off the construction bosses.

She’s out of her freaking mind…

NOVUS: I’m not going to–

EIDA: Manuel! Manuel, come here, por favor?

NOVUS: Who’s Manuel?

EIDA: He’s one of the garage chicos. He’ll show you the ropes of the roofing business.

MANUEL, barely five-feet tall, separates from the chatty group–a baseball cap hides most of his face, but not his wide smile.

EIDA: Tomorrow morning at six.

MANUEL: Si…sex.

**

Heat vapor rises over a sun scorched roof…

Novus and chicos scrape roof-paper off a two-story home. Beyond the fence, The Everglades glisten…

Eida stands on the front lawn, positions a blow horn over her mouth…

EIDA: Too slow. Pick up the pace!

Novus grunts, his cheeks flush glowing red under the searing sun, sweat pours into his eyes. He steps forward on the slanted roof. Rubber soles stick to gooey tar. He slips…

NOVUS: Whoa!

Manuel grabs hold of Novus’ collar, saves him from a nasty fall.

EIDA: Focus, focus, focus!

NOVUS: (to Eida) Would you leave me alone!

MANUEL: Jou put feet like this…

(walks sideways)

Comprendes? Jou must–

NOVUS: (wipes his eyes) Yeah, yeah, I get it.

Manuel shrugs, heads back to his patch of roof. Novus catches his breath, heads for a bright-yellow water cooler; bends over to take a thirsty sip and…

Dust plumes over a winding dirt road…two white sedans race towards the house.

Eida turns…oh crap!

EIDA: MIGRA! MIGRA!

Novus looks up, forgets to angle his foot. His foot slides, he clutches the thermos…

NOVUS: Whoa!

He skids across the sticky tar, thermos flies out of his hands, water splashes…

Working Chicos lunge to reach him…miss…

Both feet fly in the air…loses control…he rolls…rolls…feet swing over the ledge. At the last second, he reaches, grabs hold of the roof’s hot, sticky edge…

A strip of unsecured, aluminum flashing slices into his forearm. He swings side to side, side to side…

The sedans screech to a halt…Armed, burly men race out. Panic erupts. Chicos scramble, skid down ladders, climb down ropes.

EIDA: Run! Run!

Eida tosses blow horn, disappears behind the house.

Manuel grabs Novus’ arms, pulls him up, which causes naked metal’s edge to dig in–a deep, bloody cut in the forearm…Blood splatters his shirt.

He’s pulled to safety, rolls back on the scorching roof, gasps for breath. Manuel tears a sweaty bandanna off his head, wraps it around the wound…

MANUEL: Yump on my back…

Novus does. Manuel races up the roof, disappears beyond the roof’s pitch.

BACKYARD:

Novus straddles little Manuel–he’s strong as an ox. Manuel skids down a rope. Novus jumps off. They race into…

THE EVERGLADES

**

Later…

Novus & Eida sit at a picnic table surrounded by working chicos…

A sign sits above them: Miccosukee Indian Tribe Adventure Park.

Novus readjusts his makeshift bandage; Eida & fleeing roofers stare intently at…

A larger-than-life Native American, LONELY BEAR, wrestles an alligator inside a muddy pit. Alligator doesn’t have a chance.

NOVUS: (to Eida) Why are we here?

EIDA: MIGRA can’t go into an Indian reservation.

Lonely Bear duct-tapes the alligator’s elongated jaws, stomps out of the muddy pit.

EIDA: (points to wound) We better get you to a hospital.

NOVUS: I had to cancel my coverage off my Mom’s health insurance–too expensive. I get worker’s compensation, right?

EIDA: Do you have a clue what illegal worker means?
NOVUS: I’m not illegal.

EIDA: Course not. All fifteen-year olds work construction. Not that you did any work. How  the hell are you going to make any money? Worst.Employee.Ever.

NOVUS: Hey, I’m bleeding here.

EIDA: Drama queen. Don’t worry, Doctor Chuy will take care of it.

NOVUS: Doctor Chuy. The dentist? No way.

EIDA: Or we can duct tape it shut–that should stop the bleeding.

Manuel sits next to Eida…

EIDA: Are they still out there?

Manuel shrugs.

EIDA: I’m surrounded by incompetence.

MANUEL: Si.

NOVUS: I’ll get another job. A better paying job.

EIDA: Yeah, right…your resume speaks volumes. Don’t talk, you’re messing with my concentration.

Eyes closed, she tilts her head back, rubs tiny fingers against her temples.

Eye roll.

EIDA:  Don’t roll your eyes at me. I can still see you.

LONELY BEAR: Sup, Eida? Haven’t seen you for a while. Immigration after you guys again?

EIDA: Hi, Lonely Bear. Nah, MIGRA’s not after me. I got the best fake green card ever–it’s fool-proof…

She glares at Novus; he smirks.

EIDA: They’re after the construction chicos.

LONELY BEAR: (points to Novus) Him, too?

EIDA: Don’t know why he’s here–he just started running.

NOVUS: You told me to run.

EIDA: (to Lonely Bear) See what I gotta deal with?

LONELY BEAR: We’re frying up some alligator tail.

Novus grimaces…

Construction chicos reach inside their pockets, slap bottles of hot sauce on the table in chorus line unison. They’re ready to chow down.

Eida taps her temples, goes back into money trance…

LONELY BEAR: I gotta head back to the casino. Scary Wolf is here if you need anything.

Eida flips opens her eyes…

EIDA: Casino? Hold up, Lonely Bear, I’ll walk with you.

She races off…

SCARY WOLF (he looks it) tosses a loaded plate of fried alligator tail at Novus.

Novus stares at the plate…cringe. Scary Wolf GROWLS…Novus swallows hard.

BACK IN THE EVERGLADES…

An unmarked S.U.V. sits on a remote, mud road–occupied by two IMMIGRATION AGENTS. The driver peers through binoculars, enjoys a clear view of Novus. The agents share a look.

To be continued…

LA HOODRAT Chapter 5: Birds of a Faux Feather

August 12, 2012

Perched atop the ceiling’s beam, a pigeon shakes furiously. Its beak opens–a lion’s roar erupts. An abandoned feather floats downward unto…

The crowded, loud school cafeteria.

The feather lands on a half-finished plate of cafeteria slop.

Carlos sits next to Novus…

CARLOS: I don’t know why we steal cafeteria food, man–tastes like shit.

Novus eats like he hasn’t eaten in a week.

CARLOS: Why you eating so fast?

NOVUS: (mouth full, gibberish)

Eida plops down next to Novus.

EIDA: Got your stand-in lined up.

Big swallow…

NOVUS: My what?

EIDA: You have an appointment today.

GIRLY GIGGLES float towards them…

Carlos nudges Novus, juts his chin…

CARLOS: Check it out.

Cheerleaders sit huddled together at a neighboring table…Eida sports her meanest Dirty Harry.

Leader of the pack, NANCY, and a small ENTOURAGE stand, strut in their direction…Nancy flicks long blonde locks a la retro Farah Fawcett in slow-mo.

Carlos and Novus sit hypnotized…

CARLOS: I’m in love.

NANCY: Hi, Novus.

NOVUS: Uh…uh…Hi, Nancy.

GIGGLE, GIGGLE…Nancy’s eyes drift to Eida.

NANCY: Oh, look…it’s Dora the Explorer. Can I have your autograph, Dora?

GIGGLE, GIGGLE.

EIDA: Don’t you have some pom-poms to shake?

GIGGLE, GIGGLE…they head back to pom-pom clique…

EIDA: I’m gonna ram a pom-pom right up her butt.

CARLOS: Can I watch?

EIDA (to Novus): No fraternal-izing with the enemy.

NOVUS sits dazed, stares at Nancy: Huh?

CARLOS:  Homie, you better hit that.

EIDA:  I’m gonna hit you if you don’t shut up, Carlos.

CARLOS:  Why you trippin’?

EIDA: This fool has to focus. We’re running a business.

NOVUS (still dazed): Huh?

                                                               **

The school hallway sits silent, void of foot traffic.

Eida stands in front of Principal Stanley’s office…an arm wrapped around SOCORRO, (40’s), sweet, hefty chica. Socorro smiles, accentuating several chins.

EIDA: Meet Socorro–your new mom.

SOCORRO: Si.

Gawk…

NOVUS: Hell.To.The.No.

EIDA: Who’s gonna meet with the Principal?

SOCORRO: Si.

NOVUS: She doesn’t even speak English.

SOCORRO: Hmmp. I spick berry good.

Gawk some more…

NOVUS: How do we look like family?

EIDA: You look like Socorro’s grandfather–he came from Ireland.

SOCORRO: Si.

NOVUS: Forget it.

EIDA: You want the Principal going to your house? He’s gonna find out about your…situación.

NOVUS: I won’t answer the door. He’ll go away.

EIDA: What if he comes back…again and again, bobo? What will you do then?

Blank stare.

EIDA:  Thought so.

                                                             **

Later…

Principal Stanley growls behind his desk at Novus and Socorro.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: So… you’re Mrs. Williams?

SOCORRO: Jess.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Figures.

NOVUS: I look like my father.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Where is your father?

Novus is about to say…

SOCORRO: Mi marido berry, berry bad…he run away con una puta sinvergüenza–

(My husband ran off with a shameless whore)

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Uh…We’re here to talk about Novus, aren’t we?

SOCORRO: Jess.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Mrs. Williams, I’m concerned that Novus may be headed down the wrong path–

Socorro seizes her overstuffed purse; slams it across Novus’ head…BOINK!

NOVUS: Ouch! Why did you do that?

SOCORRO:  He berry, berry bad boy. I punich him.

Principal Stanley slides back in his chair, surprise lights up his eyes…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I like your style, Mrs. Williams.

SOCORRO: Sank jou berry much.

Novus rubs his head….

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: About the suspension…

SOCORRO: Ech-you-me?

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Novus’ behavior would normally require me to suspend him.

She nods, but doesn’t understand a damn word he’s saying.

SOCORRO: Eh…jess.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: However, these extenuating circumstances behoove me to reconsider my position on the matter.

Socorro ain’t getting it–at all.

SOCORRO: Eh…jess.

NOVUS: It’s okay, Principal Stanley, you can suspend me.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Listen up, young man…I’m talking to your mother.

BOINK! Purse slams again.

NOVUS: Ouch!

SOCORRO: Compórtate, mijo!

(Behave, boy!)

Principal Stanley grins…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I must say, Mrs. Williams, your parenting skills are exemplary.

Socorro bats her eyelashes, blushes a little…even though she has no clue what he said.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Under the circumstances–because of your very special parenting skills, Mrs. Williams…

Socorro giggles. Novus rolls his eyes.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Novus is welcome to stay in school.

SOCORRO: Eh…no. He no more school here. We go to Alabama.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Alabama?

SOCORRO: Jess. Miami too many immigrant.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: (sarcastic) Really?

SOCORRO: Mucho competition.

Pause…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Alabama, huh? Maybe I’ll swing by, look you up.

SOCORRO: (indignant) I no go with strange hombres.

Novus moans…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: No…no, I’m not looking to–

SOCORRO: (stands) Jou berry fresh…

(to Novus)

Vamonos mijo…

BOINK! Slaps purse against Novus’ head again…

NOVUS: Ouch! What did I do?

To be continued…

LA HOODRAT Chapter 4: Purdy Pedal Pusher

July 22, 2012

The moon’s glow sears into the horizon, grows small…smaller…spins until it spits out of the velvet sky, its white fire lands, cools…and becomes a single pearl of Eida’s necklace.

Novus blinks furiously.

CINDY leans on a cane at the front door.

I thought I heard your voice, Novus.

She glances at Eida, smiles.

You brought a friend home from school. Hi, come in.

NOVUS: She’s not my friend.

CINDY: Novus!

NOVUS: She’s leaving.

Novus shoos Eida away. She ducks under his arm,enters the…

LIVING ROOM

EIDA (to Cindy) My abuela has a cane, too. Aren’t you kinda young to have a cane?

Cindy smiles. Novus frowns.

CINDY Are you going to introduce me to your friend, Novus?

Growl…

EIDA He’s so moody. How do you put up with him?

CINDY He’s moody, but also very cute.

EIDA Meh.

CINDY Introduce me to this lovely young  woman, Novus.

Eida grins; she’s flattered.

EIDA (bats eyelashes)  I look better with my eyelashes.

NOVUS (big sigh) Her name is–

EIDA Eida Eugenia Maria de los Santos Gutierrez.

CINDY Oh. Well, Hi Eida…I’m Cindy.

EIDA You’re pretty, too–even without makeup.

Novus shoves Eida out the door…

NOVUS She’s got to go.

Eida breaks free.

EIDA Nah, I can hang out a while.

To Novus’ astonishment, she sits.

CINDY So Eida, do you go to school with Novus?

EIDA Yeah. But I hang out with the smart kids.

Novus grunts.

EIDA So what’s your story? Did you get into a car accident? Slip and fall? Are you suing somebody?

CINDY No, I have MS…multiple sclerosis. It comes and goes.

EIDA Multiples, huh? Gonna sue the doctor? I got an attorney you can use if you give me a cut.

Cindy smiles, which turns into a wince…

NOVUS Mom, you’d better get to bed.

He throws her arm over his shoulder, heads to the hallway…

CINDY: Nice to meet you, Eida.

They disappear. Eida looks the house over with calculating eyes.

**

Novus holds open the front door.

NOVUS: Bye.

Eida sits. She ain’t going nowhere.

EIDA: Looks like your Mom could use these…

She points to tiny liquor bottles lined atop the coffee table.

NOVUS: Actually, uh, they’re for me.

EIDA: Uh-huh.

NOVUS: Uh, thanks…uh, I gotta go drink now.

He wags the open door…

EIDA: I’ll put it on your tab.

NOVUS: I’m not paying you for that fake I.D.

EIDA : Wanna bet? I’m guessing you couldn’t get her medication so you tried to steal little bottles from the liquor store…like this stuff is gonna help.

Stunned Novus shakes his head.

NOVUS: Get out of my house.

EIDA: Won’t be your house for much longer, will it? How you gonna pay the mortgage?

NOVUS: How did you–

EIDA: Eida knows everything.

NOVUS: We’re done.

EIDA: I don’t think so. I know your secret.

Novus’ eyes widen. A confused pause.

NOVUS: You don’t know anything.

EIDA: I think you and I can do some business.

NOVUS: Business?

EIDA: Yeah. But first, let’s get your mom her medicine.

Surprised stutter…

NOVUS: How are we gonna do that?

**

Salsa music pulses inside the overstocked family-owned pharmacy…

Eida navigates through the narrow aisles, heads to the rear of the store. Novus trails behind.

A line, six deep crowd the counter…Eida waves him over.

EIDA: Your mom got insurance?

NOVUS: Yeah, but I don’t think this pharmacy is covered.

EIDA: Give me her insurance card and the prescription.

He hands them over. Eida cuts to the front of the line.

EIDA: Oye, Pepe…you take this HMO?

PEPE, (70’s), peeps at the ID card over his glasses, shakes his head.

NOVUS: What am I supposed to do?

EIDA: We’ll figure it out. How much money you got?

Novus digs inside his pocket…

EIDA: Pepe, how much for each pill?

PEPE THE PHARMACIST: Eight dollars.

EIDA: What are you, loco? I’m a regular. My abuela buys all her medicine here.

PEPE THE PHARMACIST: Okay. Six-fifty.

NOVUS: All I got is six dollars.

Sigh, eyeroll and condescending stare all at once.

Eida dials her phone; chats in Spanish. Novus shuffles from one foot to another under the glare of pharmacy patrons.

EIDA (to Pepe): Zoraida, Dr. Felipe’s nurse, is faxing you a prescription for my abuela tomorrow morning. But you need to give me the pills tonight–a month’s supply.

Pepe hesitates…eyes Novus suspiciously.

EIDA: What are you waiting for, viejo?

Pepe shrugs, fills the prescription as ordered. Novus’ eyes widen with amazement.

EIDA: I’ll add it to your tab.

NOVUS: But you’re not paying for the meds.

EIDA: Oh, so I should tell him not to fill the prescription, Mr. Cheap-ass?

NOVUS: Um, no, that’s okay. Yeah, put it on my tab.

EIDA: Thought so.

**

Later, back in Novus’ living room…

Eida sorts through mail scattered on the coffee table…Novus appears from the hallway, snatches mail out of her hands.

EIDA: You got collection notices up the butt.

He grunts, shoves paperwork in a drawer.

EIDA (sits): Your Mom took her medicine?

NOVUS heads for the front door: Yeah….thanks for the meds. I hope she’ll sleep tonight.

EIDA: You can’t do this on your own. You need me.

NOVUS: Uh, noooo.

EIDA: How you gonna pay me?

NOVUS: I’ll get a job.

EIDA: I’ll get you a job. We can help each other.

NOVUS: What are you–a crooked politician?

EIDA:  I‘d make a great politician. I’m very polished and well-spoken. I’ll consider it once I get my paperwork straight.

NOVUS: Paperwork? Are you illegal?

EIDA: I’m an expat.

NOVUS: A what?

EIDA: Do you live under a bridge? Oh, yeah, you will be soon. Expatriate, you fool.

NOVUS: You aren’t an expatriate…a bridge?

EIDA: When an American chooses to live in another country, he’s an ex-pat. But when someone from another country chooses to live in America, they’re an immigrant. Homeless people live under bridges…duh.

NOVUS: You’re delusional.

EIDA: No, I’m not. I’m an expatriate.

Smirk.

EIDA: Are we gonna talk business or what?

NOVUS: I’m not paying you for that fake ID.

EIDA: Oh, yes you will.

(infomercial voice)

You need me…I’m here to help.

NOVUS: Uh…noooo.

EIDA: Listen, bobo, there’s no way you can pay the bills, take care of your mother and escape that nasty school principal–

NOVUS: How did you–

EIDA: You went coco loco in public–everybody’s talking about it. Not to mention…if the Department of Children and Family Services finds out, you’ll be torturing innocent Foster parents.

Jaw percolates, red blotches engulf his cheeks…

NOVUS: You blackmailing me?

EIDA: I ain’t black. I’m roasted chestnut caramel.

Pause…

NOVUS: What do you mean by twenty-percent?

To be continued…

Chapter 3: Little Miss Sun-Chine

July 8, 2012

LA HOODRAT

CHAPTER 3

Little Miss Sun-chine

A wall clock hangs high. Its oversized second hand rounds the PM time track, bitch slaps the minute hand. Move out the way…

Principal Stanley (50’s), chubby, bald–save for three way-too-long strands sliding down his scalp–sits at his desk, tears off eyeglasses…

Novus sits across from him, mutilates a paperclip.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: You’re missing a lot of school, your grades have dropped substantially, and now you’re shopping for a drug dealer.

NOVUS:  Uh, that was just a dare, a joke. I’m really not looking–

PRINCIPAL STANLEY:  You fit the profile. You’re withdrawn, you don’t participate in class, you–

NOVUS: I don’t take drugs, Principal Stanley.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I should suspend you.

NOVUS: Okay.

Pause…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I tried calling your mother.

NOVUS: Yeah…there’s a problem with the phone line.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I need to see her.

Novus focuses on his paperclip.

Principal Stanley leans into Novus…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY:  I think I know what’s going on.

NOVUS:  Uh…you do?

PRINCIPAL STANLEY:  It’s tough being in the minority, isn’t it?

NOVUS: Huh?

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: That’s why you’re acting out, isn’t it?

Confusion…confusion.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: If it makes you feel any better…I’m in the minority, too.

More confusion…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I know your frustration…I live it everyday…here, under Miami’s  sun-chine.

Novus’ eyes bug out…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Okay… because of the extenuating circumstances, I’ll postpone any action until I meet with your mother.

NOVUS: Uh, you don’t have to do that, you can suspend me now.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY:  Tell your mother to meet me Tuesday at 3:00 P.M.

He hands Novus a note…

We’ll talk about it then.

NOVUS:  Uh, she can’t take time off work, she–

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: If she doesn’t show up, I’m going to your home to speak with her personally. Make sure she keeps the appointment.

Crap.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: I look forward to meeting your mother, Novus. There’s too few of us left. We must stick together.

                                                             **

Novus tentatively opens the door of Madre Mia Liquors, peeks inside. KLING…KLING….Copper bell rings.

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA sits behind the register, engrossed by a Vanidades magazine.

His eyes search the liquor store, void of patrons. He heads for the counter, drops a box of school-issued chocolates on its surface. Looks around one more time…

NOVUS: Would you like to buy chocolates for my school?

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: Chocolates? Hmm. I don’t know…I’m on a very strict diet.

She digs her hands inside the box anyway. Novus spots miniature liquor bottles sitting on the counter.

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: How much?

NOVUS: Uh…a dollar.

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: Each? Look at how small they are.

NOVUS: It’s for a good cause.

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: Since when is stealing my money a good cause?

KLING…KLING…Copper bell rings. Two semi-smashed CHICOS stumble through the door.

SEMI=SMASHED CHICO #1: Oye, mi gorda…got any rum?

(Hey, my fat woman)

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: Of course I got rum–you know where it is.

SEMI-SMASHED CHICO #2: Jou show us…and then jou show us jou hot masas de carne.

(hot meaty morsels)

Double-wide giggles, struts away from the counter. Hips sway side-to-side, nearly knocks over vodka aisle. Trio heads to the back…

Novus looks around, reaches for miniature liquor bottles sitting on the counter…

RRRRRING, RRRRRING…bike chime sings…Crap. He freezes; hands floats over the bottles, he turns…

OUTSIDE MADRE MIA LIQUOR STORE…

Eida parks her shiny, pink bike next to Novus’ beaten-up, worn bike. She spews an ugliest-bike-ever look.

A HOMELESS GUY sits sprawled on the ground, wrestles an empty paper bag…

EIDA: What’s wrong with you? Get a job.

BURP!

She scowls, clutches a pink bag half her size, reaches for the door…

Novus reaches for the tiny bottles, lifts them in the air and…

KLING! KLING!…copper bell rings…

Startled Novus drops merchandise…bottles scatter on the countertop, tumble to the floor.

Eida crosses her arms, rolls her eyes…

Novus trembles–he might go into convulsions. Suddenly, he races out the door…KLING, KLING!

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: Hey, where’s my chocolate?

Too late. Chocolate boy has left the building.

DOUBLE-WIDE CHICA: (to Eida) What’s wrong with that boy?

EIDA: He’s weird. I’ll help you pick up this mess…

Eida proceeds to pick up bottles…Double-wide reads her magazine. Eida sets a few bottles on the counter, shoves half a dozen or so inside her bag–along with a fistful of beef jerky.

Eida struts out of the liquor store, bottles clang in her bag…

EIDA: (to homeless guy) Here…

(tosses beef jerky)

Eat something…

(tosses a business card)

Call me. I can use another bum on the payroll.

She hops on her bike…RRRRRING, RRRRRING…peddles away.

With one eye shut, he reads the card. BURP!

**

Novus’ squeaky bike wheels peddle up his neglected driveway…His eyes widen…

Eida blocks his path–arms crossed, cheeks sucked-in–the chica warrior stance. Even her pink bike looks angry.

EIDA: Time’s up.

Novus cocks his head…How did she get there so fast?

NOVUS: Forget it.

He marches past her.

EIDA: Excuse me?

NOVUS: You heard me…Little Miss Sun-chine.

EIDA: What are you talking about?

He stops, faces her.

NOVUS: Florida is the Sunshine State…not the Sun-chine State.

EIDA: What’s the difference?

He pulls out his keys…

EIDA: Everybody spells it like that.

NOVUS: Not in this country.

EIDA: Ah-ha! You think you can take advantage of a poor immigrant, eh?

NOVUS: Yeah, right.

EIDA: I don’t appreciate your attitude. Besides, you think a little typo is going to get you out of paying me?

NOVUS: Hell, yeah.

EIDA: That was Tío Gustavo’s best work. Nobody stiffs Eida…nobody.

NOVUS: Why do you refer to yourself in the third person?

EIDA: Hey! There’s only two of us, moron. How do I talk to three people?

Eye roll; he inserts the key.

EIDA: Pay me now or I’ll kick your ass.

NOVUS: Go for it.

He grasps the door handle. She whips out her phone…

EIDA: I’m calling my posse. You’ll regret the day you ever messed with Eida.

Novus turns, about to say…

Door swings open…

CINDY: (leans on a cane) I thought I heard your voice, is everything okay?…

Cindy glances at Eida, smiles. Eida smiles back. They turn to Novus, await their respective introductions…

Novus sighs…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Chapter 2: Sloppy Yoes

July 1, 2012

Image

LA HOODRAT

Semi-rusted bike wheel spokes grate metal as they furiously turn into the empty parking lot of Booker Miami high.

Novus brakes hard, shoves the bike inside massive bushes.

He looks around; jumps up on an air conditioning unit, slides open a small window….shoves himself up…lands inside…

SCHOOL CAFETERIA

The massive seating area is dark except for a light glowing from inside the kitchen.

He points a flashlight, beams it around the empty space, heads for the…

CRASH!

A beam of light hits Novus in the face. He squints.

Shit, man…why don’t you signal or something? You scared the menudo out of me.

NOVUS: Sorry, Carlos, I didn’t know you were in here.

Carlos flips off his flashlight, attacks the guts of an open refrigerator.

CARLOS: My sister loves baked beans. I don’t get it…who eats sweet beans, man? Tastes like dessert.

NOVUS: I never thought about it.

CARLOS: You should, it’s a major cultural divide. Real beans should be spicy, preferably hot, real hot.

Novus opens another refrigerator, snatches a brick of made-in-China artificial cheese.

CARLOS: Hey, there’s leftover Sloppy Joe’s.

NOVUS: We should avoid anything with meat in it.

CARLOS: You think it’s cat meat? Dog meat? Rat meat?

Novus swoops up eggs, bread, a tub of chocolate pudding…

NOVUS: Who knows what’s in it.

Carlos sniffs Sloppy Joe sludge, shrugs, shoves it inside his shopping bag anyway.

CARLOS: Hey, I found chips.

He jumps on the counter, rips open a bag, stuffs his face. Novus plucks a liter of milk.

CARLOS: (chomp,chomp) I think you take more food than I do and I’ve got a family of twelve to feed–they’re pigs, too.

Novus slams the refrigerator shut. Out of nowhere…

Eida looms over him, a flashlight beams over her face, distorts her features–zombie chica!

NOVUS: Whoa!

His back slams against the counter, stolen groceries tumble to the floor…

EIDA: That’s right. I wanna see terror in your eyes.

He sighs, picks up groceries…

CARLOS: (chomp, chomp) Hi, Eida.

EIDA: Don’t  ‘Hi, Eida’ me. Who said you could take cafeteria food?

NOVUS: It’s getting dark, I’ve got to get going…

EIDA: You ain’t going nowhere. We got business to discuss. If you aren’t paying for groceries, you can afford to pay me.

NOVUS: Sssh. You’re making too much noise.

EIDA: No one shush-es Eida.

CARLOS: (chomp, chomp) Fat security guy’s asleep.

Novus drags his bag of groceries, heads for the window…scoots a chair against the wall, climbs up…

EIDA: Get your Casper-ghost-white butt back over here…

BOINK!

Cafeteria door bangs against the wall…flashlight beam slashes the darkness…Beer-belly SECURITY GUARD stumbles inside…

SECURITY GUARD: Who’s there! Who’s there!

Novus stands frozen at the window, stolen groceries in hand.

SECURITY GUARD: (massages the wall) Where’s that damn light switch…

CRASH! Metal pans smash against the kitchen floor.

SECURITY GUARD: Come out right now!

Silence. Security Guard shuffles tentatively towards the…

KITCHEN

WHOOSH! Carlos ducks, zooms past Security Guard. WHOOSH! Eida zooms by a split second later–shadows cross Security Guard’s path…

SECURITY GUARD: Holy shit! That’s it, this place is haunted. I’m quitting…

He crosses himself, wobbles out as fast as bloated belly permits.

Silence…Novus squeezes out the open window.

**

The night saturates Novus’ humble home…

Novus parks his bike, drops stolen groceries on the porch…

Slinks to the side of the house, bends over…drags an extension cord across the lawn to the neighbor’s house…

Wraps exposed wires into a makeshift electrical outlet…

THROUGH NIGHT VISION GOGGLES…

Novus races inside.

NORMAL VIEW…

Lights flicker on.

ACROSS THE STREET…

Eida peeks over an antique pair of night vision goggles–a relic from the Bay of Pigs invasion. She smiles.

Inside the home, Novus opens a bedroom door.

Dingy, sparse, unkept…a haze of despair lingers.

Novus enters carrying a tray…

With effort, Cindy sits up.

CINDY: Smells good, baby.

NOVUS: Sorry, omelets again–store ran out of meat.

CINDY: (winces) No, baby…I’m the one who’s sorry.

Novus snatches a wine glass, pours NyQuil.

CINDY: What’s the occasion?

NOVUS: The pharmacy ran out of your pills.

She nods knowingly, swallows a long sip…COUGH, COUGH.

CINDY: Hmmm…a nice Merlot. Did you try to call the doctor?

He nods.

He said I have to come in for an appointment, huh? It’s okay, baby, I can try to ride the bus.

NOVUS: Yeah, we can try that, but we can’t get an appointment until June. Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out.  

She plays with her food, hesitates…

CINDY: Did you read your grandmother’s letter?

(pause)

What can it hurt?

NOVUS: She hates us.

CINDY: No baby, she doesn’t hate us…she just misses your Dad, that’s all. She’s your grandmother, she loves you.

NOVUS: She’s, she’s…

FLASHBACK: A stern-looking Abigail Williams (60’s) reaches for Novus–she expects a kiss. Cringe. Her wrinkled, sagging face looms close, a wild chin hair comes alive…snake-like, a la Medusa…it wants to poke his eye out…

END FLASHBACK

Novus shivers from head to toe.

NOVUS: Mom, we won’t be separated.

CINDY: The bills, we can’t possibly–

NOVUS: I got it under control. Trust me. Please?

They share a long look.

Cindy sighs, gulps NyQuil cocktail, smacks her lips.

CINDY: So how’s school? Making friends?

Shrug.

She swipes a mop of reddish brown hair off his eyes.

CINDY: You need a haircut.

NOVUS: I’m going for that Bohemian look.

CINDY: If you’re going for Bohemian, you’ll need an earring, maybe two.

NOVUS: No thanks.

CINDY: Well, at least get a tattoo; otherwise, your look is not cool.

NOVUS: Eat your dinner.

Mutual smirk.

CINDY: Now that we have electricity–compliments of Mrs. Gonzalez–why don’t you put on some music?

Novus flips on a portable radio…“Love Will Keep Us Together” sings.

**

The school hallway bustles with puberty-ridden residents…

Novus spots Carlos, associate cafeteria thief…

NOVUS: Hey, Carlos…you know where I can get a job?

CARLOS: A job? Like work? Why would you want to do that, man?

NOVUS: I need money.

Slams the locker…

CARLOS: Who doesn’t?

NOVUS: Carlos, it’s serious.

CARLOS: You owe the mob or something?

NOVUS: Just bills. Do you know anybody I could ask?

CARLOS: You see me working? I don’t know, ask Eida, she knows everybody.

Eida peers from behind a locker door…listens in on the conversation…

NOVUS: No way. She’s a psycho.

She snarls…

CARLOS: Good point. Hmm. I know…You can sell your food stamps–that’s how I bought my I-Pod.

NOVUS: We don’t qualify for food stamps, we own a house.

Eida’s little face suddenly lights up, she…grins?

CARLOS: Shit man, you’re rich. Just sell the house.

NOVUS:  We owe more than the house is worth.

CARLOS: Ay, I feel a headache coming on. You Gringos are way too complicated.

CUTE CHICA bats her fake eyelashes at Carlos…

CUTE CHICA: Hi, Carlos…

Carlos grins, pumps up his narrow chest.

NOVUS: You know where I can get some painkillers?

Carlos gives him a WTF look?

NOVUS: For my Mom.

Eida rolls her eyes. Carlos loses interest…

CARLOS: Lolita is sooo hot–

NOVUS: C’mon, tell me.

CARLOS: Hey, just cause I’m Latino doesn’t mean I’m a drug dealer. You’re feeding a racial stereotype.

NOVUS: Carlos, I’m serious.

Indignation over.

CARLOS: I don’t know, man…call Medicaid.

NOVUS: We don’t qualify, we own a–

CARLOS: Yeah, you and your real estate holdings. I don’t know…I guess I can check my abuela’s medicine cabinet–she’s got a Walgreen’s in there.

NOVUS: Do you know which ones are painkillers or for inflammation?

CARLOS: Uh, no… I know, I’ll get you a pill out of each bottle–you can figure it out.

Eyes drift to cute chica…

NOVUS: That won’t work. I can’t tell which pill is which. What if I give you the names of the prescriptions, can you match them to your grandmother’s pills?

CARLOS: You crazy? That’s way too hard. Little bottles, big words, little letters…no way, man. Too much reading, too much time, too much…too much…

Eida slams her forehead against the locker door…

Cute chica edges away…

CARLOS: (to cute chica) Hey, girl, wait up a second…

He struts like Tarzan in search of Jane…on a cold night.

NOVUS: Carlos…Carlos!

He’s gone.

Novus stands alone, invisible…throngs of students rush past him…CHATTER, CHATTER…

He clenches his fists. Breathes deep…deeper. Heartbeat thumps…loud, louder. Cheeks glow crimson red. Sweat droplets glide down his face…uh-oh…

Eida heads towards him…she’s about to…

NOVUS: (way too loud) Doesn’t anybody sell drugs in this school?!

Chatter ceases…crowd freezes, gawk at Novus and…

PRINCIPAL STANLEY, who stands behind him.

Eida spins in the other direction, turns the corner.

PRINCIPAL STANLEY: Novus, I’d like to see you in my office…please.

TO BE CONTINUED…

La HoodRat: Chapter One

June 24, 2012

CHAPTER 1

NOVUS & EIDA

A spinning Sherwin Williams sample paint wheel comes alive as it melts over the homes of this ethnic-tinged suburban street.

A Miami-Dade school bus screeches to a halt in front of a crappy, single family home…

NOVUS WILLIAMS, age fifteen, hops off the bus…

He projects classic geek, yet handsome features confound the stereotype.

He adjusts his backpack, heads for a teetering mailbox…digs a hand inside, shuffles a stack of envelopes…tears open a “Final Notice” envelope…

RRRRRING, RRRRRING…RRRRRING, RRRRRING…

Hey!

EIDA, also age fifteen, rides a hot-pink bike, rings its chime…attached to the handlebars, pink & white tassels sway in the balmy breeze.

Eida hops off a pink glitter bike seat, slams down the kick stand…and stomps forward…

She’s petite; bangs frame a cute doll-face, which highlight her innocence, her sweetness, her…

EIDA: You avoiding me or what?

NOVUS: How did you find me?

EIDA: You think I do business with people and don’t know where they live? You think I just got off the boat? You think I got sand between my toes? You–

NOVUS: You’ll get the money next week.

He clutches keys, heads for the front door.

Hell-of-an-attitude mini-chica follows. If only she’d smile.

EIDA: You think I’m an imbecile. I’m connected, man. No one messes with Eida. If you don’t–

NOVUS: Okay, I’ll have the money tomorrow–I promise.

She looks him over; wrinkles her itty-bitty nose, twirls faux pearl necklace. She scans the house.

EIDA: This place is a dump.

NOVUS: Thanks. Look, I got to go.

EIDA: I need collateral. I’ll go in with you, see if I find something.

NOVUS: Tomorrow.

She crosses her arms, taps a tiny foot.

EIDA: Listen, Novo–

NOVUS: Novus.

EIDA: Huh?

NOVUS: My name is Novus.

EIDA: What kind of name is that?

Shrug.

EIDA: Okay, Novus…I’ll give you until tomorrow ’cause I’m a generous on-tow-pennure.

Confusion…

EIDA: (wags finger) If I don’t get my money, you’ll never work in this town again.

NOVUS: Uh…I don’t work.

EIDA: Exactly.

Confusion…

EIDA: And don’t even think of leaving town.

NOVUS: Okay.

EIDA: No one messes with Eida.

Little chica sucks in her cheeks; circles him like a hyena stalking prey, looks him over, up and down, up and down…

Novus suppresses an eye roll.

NOVUS: Are we done?

She hisses…sports one last dirty look, hops on girly bike, peddles away…

RRRRRING, RRRRRING…RRRRRING, RRRRRING…

EIDA: That fool better not screw me over. I’ll kick his butt, teach him a lesson. No one messes with Eida…

Novus can still hear her rant.

He waits until she turns the corner, unlocks the front door…disappears inside.

.                                                      **

The Living Room…Dark, sparse…second-hand, Rooms-to-Go style furniture. Novus gawks at the crumpled letter in his hands…

Novus?

He shoves paperwork inside his pocket.

A woman, draped in a shadow, sits half-lying, half-sitting, on a sofa.

NOVUS: Mom, why aren’t you in bed?

CINDY WILLIAMS (30’s) forces a smile through pain streaked, flawless features. She clumsily sits up, winces, pats short, chestnut hair in place.

CINDY: How was school, baby? Did you have a nice day?

Wince.

Novus spots her fisted hands, points…

NOVUS: What’s that in your hands?

CINDY: Hmmm?

NOVUS: Can I see, please?

Cindy reluctantly obliges–a prescription bottle sits inside her palms. Novus shakes the empty bottle.

NOVUS: How could you run out? It was a 30-day supply.

CINDY: Uh…

NOVUS: Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.

CINDY: But–

NOVUS: Mom, I said I’ll take care of it. C’mon, you need to lie down.

He wraps her arm over his shoulder; lifts her up…

CINDY: Did you see your grandmother’s letter? It’s addressed to you.

NOVUS: Yeah. I’ll get to it later.

                                                       **

Novus faces a grumpy, 50’s male PHARMACIST. CHICA CASHIER works the register.

NOVUS: Is Maria here?

PHARMACIST: We let her go.

NOVUS: Huh?

PHARMACIST: Yeah. Now I’m stuck here, in this store, where no one speaks a lick of English…

Glares at chica cashier…

Or pretends not to–until we can find a new pharmacist.

Chica cashier rolls her eyes.

NOVUS: Oh.

PHARMACIST: What can I get for you, kid?

Novus hands him the prescription.

I need a refill.

PHARMACIST: Is this prescription in our system?

He taps the keyboard before getting an answer.

NOVUS: She has an appointment with the doctor, so–

PHARMACIST: This is a controlled substance. She’s not due for a refill for another twenty days.

NOVUS: Well, you see…

PHARMACIST: Even if I could refill the prescription, I can’t sell it to you–you’re a minor.

NOVUS: Maria always gave it me and uh…I’m eighteen…

Whips out his wallet. Pharmacist frowns, snatches driver’s license,holds it up to his nose…

NOVUS: Uh, you can see the date of birth–

Chuckle, chuckle…

NOVUS: Wha-what’s so funny?

PHARMACIST: Next time you buy a fake I.D., make sure the forger can spell.

NOVUS: What?

PHARMACIST: Florida is the Sunshine State–not the Sun-chine State–an ‘S’ not a ‘C’.

Novus gawks at the misspelling…

CHICA CASHIER: That no how jou spell sunchine?

PHARMACIST: See what I gotta deal with?

NOVUS: Look, my Mom really needs the medication, she’s in a lot of pain–

PHARMACIST: Those are the rules, kid.

Pharmacist hands Novus the prescription; goes back to business.

Chica opens her palms in what-an-asshole solidarity.

RRRRRING! RRRRRING! Bike chime rings. Crap.

Novus snaps his head back, frustration clouds his face until…He turns, lumbers down the aisle, snatches a couple of bottles of NyQuil, a bottle of Tylenol.

To be Continued…