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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…

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