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Corporate Jungle (Ch 8) The Help

April 2, 2011

            CORPORATE JUNGLE

A Novella

By

Yoly Solis 

             Inside Janice’s El Cheapo Hotel room…
 
             José sits, beer in hand.
 
             Chuck and Janice face off…
 
                                      JANICE
                           They said they would call.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           They’re not going to call.
 
                                      JANICE
                           My caseworker was very
                           concerned. He wants to help.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Your caseworker was sipping
                           tequila. He told you what you
                           wanted to hear so you’d get the
                           hell out of there.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Why are you so cynical?
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Look. Your plane leaves in an
                           hour. If we leave now–
 
                                      JANICE
                           No.
 
             Chuck’s jaw percolates.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Fine. You’re on your own. When
                           you’re arrested, don’t call me,
                           don’t talk to me…don’t even
                           look at me.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I didn’t call you anyway, José
                           did.
 
                                      CHUCK
                                (points to José)
                           José, no matter what happens to
                           her, I don’t want to know about
                           it.

                                      JOSÉ
                           Si, Señor.
 
                                      CHUCK
                                (points to Janice)
                           That crazy Gringa is not my
                           responsibility.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           Si, Señor.
 
                                      CHUCK
                                (stabs the air)
                           She’s an uptight corporate
                           lackey.
 
             Her jaw drops.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           Si, Señor.
 
             Chuck slams the door on his way out.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           I think he like jou.

                                  **
            
             The dense jungle screams as if in agony…

             A speck appears inside the ocean of green…

             A jungle clearing.         

 
             Blindfolded, gagged and tied to a chair, Horatio MOANS.
 
             Armed Guerrilleros surround him. Generalisimo plows through
             the crowd.
 
                                      GENERALISIMO
                           Quítale la venda.
 
             A Guerrillero unfastens Horatio’s blindfold, rips duct tape
             off his mouth.
 
             AHHHH!
 
                                      GENERALISIMO
                           Welcome, Señor Yankee Doodle.
 
             Horatio scans his surroundings, pulls at bound arms and
             legs…
 
                                      HORATIO
                           Who are you? Where am I?
 
             Generalisimo rubs his hands together…a fierce emerald
             ring–which match his eyes–display protruding stones.

                                      GENERALISIMO
                           You are in one of the most
                           beautiful places on earth. I am
                           your host.
 
                                      HORATIO
                           This place looks like a mud
                           pit. And you look like a Che
                           Guevara wannabe. Do you know
                           who I am? Untie me…now.
 
             A sinister grin…Generalisimo approaches…
 
             SLAP! A hard back-hand with his ring–deep
             scratches scar Horatio’s perfect features. Blood drips down
             his face.
 
             Horatio gasps.
 
                                      HORATIO
                           What do you want? Money? Name
                           your price. Just let me go.
 
             Another sinister grin…Generalisimo nods to his men.
             Guerrilleros untie Horatio. He massages his bandaged
             wrists…touches his bleeding face.
 
                                      GENERALISIMO
                           You are free to go, Señor
                           Yankee Doodle.
 
             Horatio stands, scans the guerrilleros…They seem anxious,
             clutch their weapons.
 
                                      HORATIO
                           Just like that? You’re letting
                           me go?
 
                                      GENERALISIMO
                           Of course. We are nothing if
                           not hospitable.
 
             Horatio searches his surroundings…endless jungle.
 
                                      HORATIO
                           Can you point me to the nearest
                           road?
 
             Generalisimo grins. Guerrilleros point in every direction.
 
             Horatio stumbles back, turns…sprints into the jungle.
 
             Guerrillero lynch mob follows.

                                          **
             Moonlight reflects off El Sequestro Hotel’s façade
             
             Janice and José stand outside the lobby doors…
 
             She’s wearing a maid’s outfit.
 
                                     JANICE
                           I want you to stay in the car
                           with the engine running, okay?
                           Don’t go anywhere.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           This no going to work.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I have to save Horatio.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           But jou Spanish no good.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Mi Español es muy, muy bueno…
 
             WHACK!
 
             Blinded Capitán turns the corner…walking stick slaps the
             sidewalk.
 
                                      JANICE
                           …yo lo puedo hacer.
 
             Capitán stops. Realization hits. Shock. Awe.
 
                                      CAPITÁN
                           I can hear you, you crazy lady.
                           Where are you?
 
             He slaps walking stick like sword in every
             direction…WHACK, WHACK, WHACK!
 
             SPLAT! Chico Pedestrian is slapped to the ground.
 
             Janice and José freeze.
 
                                      CAPITÁN
                           I know you are here. You cannot
                           hide from me!
 
             Janice slips into the hotel…
 
             José races back to the VW.

                                      CAPITÁN
                           You crazy, annoying lady! You
                           butcher of the Spanish language!
 
             He reaches for his gun…BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!. Pedestrians
             dive to the ground. The last bullet slams into a store’s
             picture window, shatters the glass, blows a mannequin’s
             head off.
 
             Later, inside the hotel…
 
             Janice tip-toes across a plush hallway…
 
             Leans her ear against a hotel room door.
             Sounds drift…
 
                                      AMERICAN
                           No! No!
 
             Two armed men drag an American out of a room…
 
             Janice panics, jiggles a hotel room doorknob; door
             opens…she disappears inside.
 
                                      AMERICAN
                           No! Please, no!
 
             Armed men unsuccessfully shove him inside the
             elevators…the American fights every step of the way.
 
             Pepe, hotel concierge, races to the scene.
 
                                      PEPE
                           Please, Señor…you must go now.
 
                                      AMERICAN
                           Pepe, Pepe…I can’t go home. I
                           don’t wanna go home…I’ve got
                           teenagers–they’re awful.
 
                                      PEPE
                           I am so sorry, Señor. You are
                           welcome to come back and visit
                           some other time.
 
                                      AMERICAN
                           My wife…she’s sooooo mean.
 
                                      PEPE
                           I am sure they miss you very
                           much. They will be happy upon
                           your return.
 
             American grabs his shirt.

                                      AMERICAN
                                (sobs)
                           I hate my job. My boss is Satan
                           reincarnate. I hate my life.
                           Please, Pepe…let me stay.
                           I’ll do anything! I’ll pay you
                           anything you want.
 
                                      PEPE
                           I am very sorry, Señor. Your
                           credit score does not qualify
                           you for an extended hostage
                           stay.
 
                                      AMERICAN
                           I…I can work here, at the
                           hotel…I can cook, scrub
                           toilets–
 
                                      PEPE
                           Please, Señor…do not make
                           this any more difficult than it
                           has to be. The limousine will
                           take you to the airport. You
                           will be reunited with your
                           family and friends.
 
             The American releases one last desperate moan, concedes to
             his fate, trudges inside the elevator in defeat.
 
                                      PEPE
                           Thank you for staying at El
                           Sequestro Hotel. Would you be
                           so kind as to complete a survey
                           on your way out, Señor?

            Inside Room 618…
 
             A Fat American lounges in a bathrobe, faces away from the
             door.
 
             Janice stands like a statue against the door.
 
                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           Is that you, my hot tamale?
 
                                      JANICE
                           Uh…Si, Señor.
 
                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           My feet await your soft hands.
 
             He wiggles naked, chubby toes. Janice grimaces.

                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           See if you can scrape off that
                           bunion.
 
             Silence. He turns around.
 
                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           Don’t be shy, I don’t bite–not
                           hard anyway.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Uh, I think I’m in the wrong
                           room.
 
                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           Crap. An American? You’re not
                           somebody’s wife are you?
 
             She peeks beyond the door…
 
             Armed guards roam the halls. She slams the door shut.
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m looking for Horatio Samson.
 
                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           You his wife?
 
                                      JANICE
                           I’m his assistant.
 
             He eyes her carefully.
 
                                      FAT AMERICAN
                           Yeah…I think I met him at the
                           meet-and-greet hostage cocktail
                           party. Is he that good-looking
                           guy from R.D.S. Industries?
 
                                      JANICE
                           Yes, yes. Where is he?
 
             He winces; sucks air through clenched teeth.
          
                                     **
 
             Janice storms through the front door of Chuck “Chocolate” Cantina
             still wearing her maid outfit. José trudges behind.
 
                                      JANICE
                                (to Chuck)
                           What did you mean, Horatio is
                           being set up?

                                      CANTINA PATRONS
                                (toast)
                           Yanice!
 
             Chuck rolls his eyes; José heads for the bar.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           The mop’s in the storage room, lady.
 
                                      JANICE
                           What possible reason could
                           there be?
 
                                      CHUCK
                           The same reason that motivates
                           every corrupt bastard: money.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Doesn’t make any sense. The
                           company has to pay the ransom.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           You sure about that?
 
             She drops into a chair, thinks…
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Any interesting meetings going
                           on at the office? Promotions,
                           demotions, firings? Strange
                           paperwork?
 
                                      JANICE
                           Paperwork. There’s a kidnap &
                           ransom policy. There’s…life
                           insurance. Tons of life
                           insurance.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           It’s worse than I thought.
 
             She stares at him.
 
                                      JANICE
                           But it doesn’t make any sense.
                           What would the kidnappers gain
                           by killing a hostage? But
                           McGregor–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           Why don’t you fly home, get
                           some rest, update your resume.
                           Don’t get involved in this.

                                      JANICE
                                (eyes water)
                           I’m already involved. Besides,
                           they took Horatio away. He’s
                           not at the hotel anymore. He’s
                           in the jungle.
 
             Chuck’s face pales…He grabs her arm, leads her out.
 
                                      CHUCK
                           You’ve got to go. Now.
 
                                      JANICE
                           But–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           José, por favor, take her to
                           the airport. Lo antes posible.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                                (gulps his beer)
                           Si, Señor.
 
                                      JANICE
                           But–
 
                                      CHUCK
                           But nothing.
 
             He shoves her out the door. She disappears.
 
             He reaches for a phone resting on the bar…
 
                                      CHUCK
                                (into phone)
                           Hey, Larry…Chuck Tanner.
                                (pause)
                           Yeah, it’s been a while. Larry,
                           I need a favor. Need some info
                           on R.D.S. Industries.
 
                                     **
 
             Janice steps out of the VW, shields her eyes against the
             morning sun to read a dilapidated sign posted over a warehouse’s
             roll-up doors.
 
             Tiny, semi-abandoned. No sign of life. She pops her head
             back inside the car.
 
                                      JANICE
                           José, this can’t be the right
                           address.

                                      JOSÉ
                           Chocolate will not be happy jou
                           are here.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Does Chocolate pay you?
 
             He shakes his head. She hands him a sheet of paper.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           San Benito calle, entre Isidro
                           and San Sebastian. Jess, this
                           is place.
 
             Hens squawk, peck the dirt. She heads for the entrance,
             searches for a doorbell. Lightly knocks on the aluminum
             roll-up door. Nothing.
 
             She knocks again, this time harder.
 
                                      MAN 
                           Espera!
 
             Roll-up doors slide open. Hens disperse.
 
             Warehouse hombre pops his head out.
 
                                      JANICE
                           Hola, soy Janice Johnson.
                           Represento–
 
                                      WAREHOUSE HOMBRE
                           Que?
 
             José appears…
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           Ella trata de hablar.
 
                                      WAREHOUSE HOMBRE
                           Tiene un impedimento físico?
                                (Does she have a
                                 physical
                                 impairment?)
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           Tambien un impedimento mental.
                                (She also has a
                                 mental impairment.)
 
                                      JANICE
                           I habla very well as a matter
                           of fact.

                                      JOSÉ
                                (to Hombre)
                           Vez?
                                (You see?)
 
                                      JANICE
                           I need to see your jefe.
 
             He leads them inside the warehouse…
 
             Two workers sit at a table, glue slabs of thin wood
             together.
 
                                      JANICE
                           This is the entire
                           manufacturing plant? This is
                           the big deal we were supposed
                           to close?
 
             They sport a blank look.
 
             Warehouse Hombre holds up a plaque, hands it to Janice…
 
             Etched in brass lettering…
 
                    “R.D.S. INDUSTRIES…EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH”
 
             José chats with the workers.
 
                                      JOSÉ
                           They have big order. One for
                           every month of jeer.

             To be continued

*No part of this novella may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the author.    
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