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Chapter 2: Sloppy Yoes

July 1, 2012

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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…

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