The next taping was in a health club. The foreign men stare at tall, muscled, blonde women working out.
The personal trainer finished showing the tour. "...and the Stairmasters are on the upper level. Just take the elevators over there," he said.
Kim practiced martial arts against a punching bag. It swung back and knocked him out.
Maria emerged from the swimming pool. A small crowd of men admired her figure. Then José emerged from the pool. A large crowd of women admired him.
The contestants tried in a spin class, riding a line of bikes. Last in line Fatima pedaled in her burka.
The contestants tried racquetball, including Fatima in her burka.
The contestants tried an aerobics class, including Fatima in her burka.
Melissa and Maria found an anti-globalization protest on a downtown street.
"Are they protesting your government?" Maria asked.
"That's right," Melissa said.
"Let's join them," Maria said.
The speaker said to the rally, "Corporations are selling Big Macs to starving third-world countries."
Maria cheered. "The Cuban people are starving! We want Big Macs! And fries!"
People glared at her.
The next speaker said to the rally, in a French accent, "The people of Europe are united against globalization."
"Hell, yes! Keep the damn Europeans in Europe!" Melissa yelled. People glared at her. "That's what I don't like about anti-globalization rallies. Too many foreigners," Melissa said.
Chapter Nine: The MilitiaEdit
"Today we're visiting the Freemen Militia," Roger said.
Fariq blasted an automatic weapon at an American flag.
"Can you tell us more about your group?" Roger asks.
"We're freedom-loving Americans dedicated to overthrowing the government," the militia leader said
"Not so loud-what if the secret police hears you?" Fariq warned.
"Don't worry, the United States doesn't have secret police," the militia leader said.
"You can say anything you want?" Fariq asked.
"Yep. Freedom of speech is the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights," the militia leader said.
"But you have all these weapons-surely the government will find you," Fariq asks.
"We're allowed to own these weapons. That's the Second Amendment," the militia leader said.
"But the barracks, the training area-the military could take it over," Fariq said.
"Can't. Third Amendment," the militia leader said.
"Are any weapons illegal in the United States?" Fariq asked.
"Well, I'm not sure..." the militia leader hinted, winking and nodding at a rocket launcher.
"The government could come in and seize that, and throw you in prison!" Fariq said.
"Nope, the Fourth Amendment prohibits unlawful search and seizure," the militia leader said.
"But if you were arrested for something else, the government could force you to say that you have illegal weapons," Fariq said.
"I'd plead the Fifth Amendment," the militia leader said.
"What if they hold you in prison forever without a trial?" Fariq asked.
"Sixth Amendment guarantees speedy and fair trials," the militia leader said.
"What if the judge is on the side of the government?" Fariq asked.
"The jury would hear my side. Seventh Amendment," the militia leader said.
"You could still be convicted as an enemy of the government, and then they'd torture you," Fariq said.
"Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment," the militia leader said.
"You have so much faith in your Bill of Rights! It is just a piece of paper! Your government can do anything it wants!" Fariq said.
"Ninth and Tenth Amendments give the federal government only powers enumerated in the Constitution, and reserve all other powers to the States and the people," the militia leader said.
"This is a great country!" Fariq said.
A car drove up. Nyamekye has returned from Mecca. He's changed his hair, clothes, glasses. He no longer looks like Huey Newton, but instead looks like Malcolm X.
Fariq waved Nyamekye over. Melissa stopped shooting and held a huge rifle at port arms as Nyamekye approaches. Fariq offered a rifle to Nyamekye.
"No, brother, I will not fire that weapon," Nyamekye said.
"Too small for you? I'll get you something bigger," Fariq said.
"No, I renounced violence to the alter of Mohammed's enlightenment," Nyamekye said.
"But-but what about the revolution? Overthrowing the government? Enslaving white people?" Fariq said.
"The Koran says that we are all brothers and sisters. Violence begets only more violence. The Koran says that we are to live in peace," Nyamekye said.
"Well, that's one interpretation." Fariq said.
José lay in a hayloft with the militia leader's daughter. Rebekah was a freckled, plain-looking farmgirl in an old-fashioned dress. She held José in a motherly embrace.
"So many women want me. Cuba, North America, wherever I go. But they don't see my soul. They don't see my suffering," Jose said.
"You have a wounded soul," Rebekah said.
"I came here to be like Che Guevara. I wanted to drive a motorcycle on all the dirt roads of this continent. I wanted to experience the soul of the people. I wanted to share with them the spirit, the call of freedom," Jose said.
"You're on a quest," Rebecca said.
"But what am I questing for? I feel the call, but I don't see the path," Jose said.
"You're on a quest to find the meaning of your life," Rebecca said.
"I dread that I will die before I find that meaning," Jose said.
"You must die to find your life's meaning. Then you'll be reborn," Rebecca said.
Chapter Ten: A Nightclub, an Election, and a CampusEdit
In a shoe store, Maria tried on a pair of platform Mary Janes.
"These are good shoes, but I have to ask my mommy if I can have them," Maria said.
The next scene is in a hip-hop nightclub. Boris dances with Cheryl. When their dance finishes, Cheryl turns to the camera.
"Boris is quite a dancer! Let's see how the other contestants like American nightlife!" Cheryl says.
In the next scene, Fariq and Jalal stand defensively in front of Fatima. Paramedics carry away Roger on a stretcher.
In the next scene, Maria teaches Kim to hip-hop.
"No, on the third beat you rock step. That's a step forward and then back, so it's two beats," Maria is saying.
"I don't understand," Kim says. Then he gets an idea. "Let me draw this dance on paper...First beat, left foot step forward...second beat, turn...third beat, rock step to fourth beat...uh-huh...uh-huh..."
Kim spreads paper over the floor, drawing a complicated technical schematic. Then he compiles the papers into a neat sheaf and stands. "I understand now," he says. He takes Maria's hand and leads her in spectacular, romantic swings, spins, aerials, etc.
The next scene is in a senior center, with voting machines. All the voters are white-haired and dressed for golf.
"We're here on election day, to show our contestants how American democracy works. First, you to register to vote," Cheryl says to the camera.
"Unless your right to vote was revoked because you and millions of other black men were convicted of felonies," Nyamekye says.
"Or if you're a green card immigrant worker," Jose says.
"OK, so most Americans register," Cheryl says.
"Half of Americans register to vote," Nyamekye says.
"OK, half of eligible Americans register to vote. On election day, they go to polling places --" Cheryl says.
"Less than half of registered voters bother to vote," Nyamekye says.
"All right, all right. That leaves, uh --" Cheryl says.
"Somewhat less than a quarter of Americans," Nyamekye says.
"-- who go to polling places like this one to vote," Cheryl finishes.
"Who chooses the names on the ballot?" Kim asks.
"Anyone can run for President. In the 2000 election, we had a choice of the son of a President, the son of a Senator, the son and grandson of five-star Navy Admirals, and the son of a wealthy banker," Cheryl asks.
"Who was also a basketball star. Sometimes we vote for actors, too," Roger says.
"Or professional wrestlers," Melissa says.
The next scene is outside the condos. Jose drives up on his dusty BMW motorcycle (Che Guevara drove a BMW motorcycle), with Rebecca on the back.
"How was your drive?" Cheryl asks.
"The Central Valley is beautiful. The migrant workers are beautiful people. Rebecca is teaching me to play guitar. I wrote some songs," Jose says.
"Will we get to hear your songs?" Cheryl asks.
"Someday, maybe. Maybe when I finish my journey, when I reach my destination," Jose says.
"Where are you going?" Cheryl asks.
"It is an inward journey," Jose says.
The next scene is in Fatima's condo. It's beautiful, like a Martha Stewart showroom. Fatima is wearing an elegant black burka with gold jewelry.
"This is beautiful!" Roger says.
"Can you come over and decorate my apartment? Oh, I just love the bedroom," Cheryl says.
"The carved wood bed is painted Crescent Moon white. Its paneled head and footboards are curved at the top and edged with simple, carved molding. The fine Damask bedding was traditionally the linen of choice for European royalty during the Renaissance. This elegant collection is patterned with a mix of graceful flowers and foliage in a luxurious blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton. It's woven on Jacquard looms and the figured fabric has a subtle sheen and single hemstitch design," Fatima says.
"We should get her a TV show: "FATIMA KHAZAN LIVING," Roger says.
"And maybe a Fatima Khazan Living line at K-Mart," Cheryl says.
"Please come outside and see my garden," Fatima says. The garden is spectacular.
"You didn't invest in any biotech stock, did you?" Roger asks.
The next scene is on a university campus.
"Today we're touring California State University at Laguna Beach. Our contestants will see that every American has the opportunity for an excellent education," Cheryl says to the camera.
They walk past a booth with a banner reading, "GOING BACK INTO THE CLOSET DAY."
"Do you want to go back into the closet?" a student asks.
"Uh, I'm not sure," Cheryl says.
"Monday was 'Coming Out of the Closet Day.' If you came out of the closet on Monday, but you're going home to see your parents for the weekend and they'll stop paying your tuition if you have green hair or pierce your tongue or something, today you can go back into the closet," the student explains.
"Or like me," a second student says. "I've been a lesbian since second semester freshman year, but I never liked to, you know, get physical with girls --"
"But she's really good at showing support for subjugated classes," the first student says. "Plus she's the best girlfriend to go shopping with for queer clothes!"
The second student air kisses the first student. "Thanks. Now I'm about to graduate and go to work for Morgan Stanley, so I'm going back into the closet."
"Plus she really likes to suck dick," the first student says.
The second student blushes. She turns to the camera and says, "Can you leave that part out?"
"Don't worry," Roger says, "I always say that it ain't queer if your lips don't touch." He then blushes and says to the camera, "Can you leave that part out?"
In the next scene, Nyamekye, Melissa, Fariq, and Fatima sit in Fatima's beautiful garden.
"So you're saying that Islam isn't about violence and destruction?" Melissa asks.
"Twelve hundred years ago, the Arabian peninsula was wracked by wars between neighboring kings. Mohammed preached that they should end their fighting and worship one God," Nyamekye explains.
They continue to talk. Melissa grows to like Nyamekye.
In the next scene, Maria and Kim are in shoe store. Kim tries on bunny slippers. He hops a little, wiggles his nose.
Maria tries on tiger slippers. She stalks and growls. She leaps over a bench to Kim.
Maria chases Kim around store. She makes hungry growling sounds.
Kim leaps into a wastebasket, covers his feet with scrap paper. He looks scared as Maria prowls around him.
"Where'd those bunnies go?" Maria growls.
A sales clerk leads Maria away, saying "Bad kitty..."
The next scene is in bondage sex club.
"Tonight we're trying something far out. We're at a sadomasochism bondage club. I can't believe what I'm seeing people wearing -- and doing. I've never been anywhere like this!" Cheryl says. She looks to Roger.
"Uh -- me neither," Roger says.
Fatima doubles over in laughter.
"Let's see what our contestants think of America's incredible sexual freedom," Cheryl says. She holds a sheet of rules, and says, "Now does everyone understand the rules? No edge play, scarification, or cutting allowed. No extreme play such as choking, suffocation or breath control. Body modifications must first have the approval of the Head Dungeon Master. Single tail whip use must have informed consent. Scat, water sports, golden showers, blood sports, and enemas are prohibited...
As Cheryl reads, the sheet of rules unfolds longer and longer, until it's five or six feet long. "Well, anything goes here, except what's prohibited on this list," Cheryl says, waving the list.
In the next scene, Cheryl observes an off-camera scene. Sound of whipping, screams, and moans off-camera.
"How can he whip her butt like that?" Cheryl says.
Roger shakes his head, "Cheryl, your butt is so cute I could never whip it. You have a very cute butt."
Cheryl turns to Roger, "Why, thank you, Roger."
"Your face, on the other hand..." Roger jokes lamely.
The camera pans away from Roger and Cheryl. Off-camera sounds of Cheryl punching Roger.
"Ow! The rules say you can't do that here!" Roger says off-camera.
In the next scene, Boris and Natasha watch an overweight couple walk by. Natasha says, "Can we handcuff them to exercise bikes and flog them until they lose thirty pounds?"
In the next scene, Melissa and Nyamekye look around the club.
"I just noticed -- everyone in here is white," Melissa says.
"Black people in America already have enough experience with handcuffs," Nyamekye says.
In the next scene, Maria and Fatima observe a woman tied up and suspended.
"And what is it you are doing?" Maria asks.
"I'm a 24-7 slave. I do whatever my master tells me to do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have sex with him whenever he wants. I have no life of my own," the woman says.
"You would like Afghanistan!" Fatima says.
"How can American women accept that life?" Maria asks.
"Millions do. Then they divorce and get the house and the sports car," the woman says.
The next scene is in an art museum. Boris and Cheryl walk together.
Cheryl says to the camera, "Boris Aleksandrov came to the United States two months ago to spy on American military and industrial secrets. Can you tell us how the spying is going?"
"Being a spy has fulfilled my dreams," Boris says.
"What have you been doing as a spy?" Cheryl asks.
"I started with Armani," Boris says.
"You spied on Georgio Armani?" Cheryl asks.
"I bought Armani. I have Armani formal wear, sports wear, and business attire," Boris says.
"And then where did your spying take you?" Cheryl asks.
"To the Sharper Image, to buy night vision goggles, a combination digital camera and MP3 player, and a back massager," Boris says.
"Sounds like essential spy equipment. Where have you been spying?" Cheryl asks.
"Every night I go where the international spies meet. The Hollywood Athletic Club, The Coconut Club, The Conga Room," Boris says.
"Living a life of danger, I see. What other spying have you been doing?" Cheryl asks.
"Driving sports cars and speedboats. Skiing at Lake Tahoe. I went on a cruise to Mexico," Boris says.
"Is there anything else that you need to be an international spy?" Cheryl asks.
"I've met many beautiful women, but I haven't met a beautiful woman who also has the intelligence, education, and drive for success an international spy can appreciate," Boris says.
They stop to look at a beautiful sculpture. Boris turns to Cheryl, and says, "I haven't met another woman like you, Cheryl." He kisses her. Cheryl waves at the camera to go away.
The next scene is in Natasha's condo. Fariq comes in, looking tired and dirty. Natasha is working at her computer.
"All five hundred bombs are in place on the San Andreas Fault," Fariq says. He picks up a black box with a big red button. He pulls out its radio antenna. He continues, "All we have to do is drive to Arizona and push this button --"
"Shut up, I'm almost finished with the calculations...There, that's it! Forget about the San Andreas Fault. We can build a Doomsday Bomb. One bomb that will wipe out humanity. We'll build it on a secret island. Then we'll blackmail world governments. We'll rule the world!" Natasha says.
Chapter Eleven: What Jalal Has Been Doing In His Spare TimeEdit
The next scene is in Fatima's beautiful condo. The contestants watch the television news. The news reporter says, "Police still have no leads on the Suzanne Martin case, the Disneyland Haunted House cast member abducted nearly two months by a Middle-Eastern man driving a black sport-utility vehicle..."
Everyone looks at each other.
"Where's Jamal? Has anyone been in his condo in the last two months?" Cheryl asks.
Everyone shakes their heads.
In the next scene, Roger knocks on Jamal's door. Jamal opens it a crack. Roger pushes his way in.
"What is the meaning of this?" Jamal asks.
Roger opens doors, looks into closets. Jalal yells something about Roger acting like the Ayatollah's secret police.
Roger opens Jamal's bedroom closet and finds Suzanne tied up. Her clothes are disheveled, her hair is a mess.
Roger and Fariq carry her to the bed. A half-eaten pomegranate is on a plate next to the bed.
Suzanne's eyes roll back. She speaks in a foreign language.
"What's she saying?" Roger asks.
"It sounds like Farsi, She's speaking in an archaic dialect of Farsi," Fariq says. He translates:
- "The way of love is not a subtle argument.
- "The door there is devastation.
- "Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it?
- "They fall, and falling, they're given wings."
"It's Rumi. She's speaks Rumi's poems," Jalal says. He picks up a book of Rumi's poetry from the nightstand. Suzanne continues speaking in Farsi. Jalal flips through the book, hands it to Fariq, pointing to a poem.
"She's reciting the poem word for word, in ancient Farsi," Fariq says.
"She's recited every poem in the book. Plus some more poems that aren't in the book. I wrote them down," Jalal says.
Fariq reads the new poems. "These are incredible!" he says.
"Scholars say that a book of Rumi's poems was lost in the fourteenth century. All that's known is some of the titles: 'The Sacred Dance of Love,' 'The Three Doves,' and 'The Wished-For Song of Life'," Jalal says.
"These are the lost poems of Rumi!" Fariq says.
"Oh, great, I can see the headlines now: "L.A. Goth girl channels nine-hundred-year-old Persian poet'," Roger says skeptically.
The next scene is titled, "Three months later. Tehran, Iran." It opens with a close-up of a newspaper headline, in Farsi. A subtitle translates the sign: "L.A. Goth girl channels nine-hundred-year-old Persian poet."
The camera zooms out as someone carries the newspaper past a mosque. Hundreds of people are going into the mosque.
The next scene is inside the mosque. Suzanne sits on the dais, before thousands of people. Jalal introduces her in Farsi. Her eyes roll back, and she starts speaking in ancient Farsi (with subtitles):
"God is the population of the world, and every object as well. There is no room for hypocrisy. Why use bitter soup for healing when sweet water is everywhere?"
The audience members lean forward, intensely listening to every word.
"Lovers think they're looking for each other, but there's only one search. Wandering this world is wandering that, both inside one transparent sky. In here there is no dogma and no heresy."
The ayatollahs whisper and nod to each other.
The next scene is a newspaper headline: "MID-EAST PEACE! L.A. GOTH GIRL WINS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE!" Below the headline is a photo of Suzanne.
Below the fold is a smaller headline: "NEW TERRORISM THREAT? SHADOWY FIGURES MAY HAVE DOOMSDAY BOMB." Pictures show Natasha and Fariq.
The next scene is a television studio, made to look like a beautifully decorated home. Roger and Fatima sit on stools. Fatima wears an elegant burka. The title scrolls: "FATIMA KHAZAN SMARMY LIVING"
"I'm Roger Smarmy, and this is my beautiful wife, Fatima Khazan Smarmy," Roger says to the camera.
Fatima laughs, then recovers her composure. She says to the camera, "This week we'll show you how to make delightful, decorated holiday cookies..."
The next scene is another television show. A stage with hip-hop dancers, and the title: "NEW SONDZ LOUNGE, with Maria and Kim"
Maria says to the camera, "Welcome to this week's New Sondz Lounge. Later we'll have an interview with hip-hop star Soul Action. But first Kim will teach you this new dance."
Kim dances a cool new dance.
The next scene is a political rally. A banner reads "RAINBOW COALITION." Melissa and Nyamekye are on stage. Melissa says to the crowd, "Do you want your voices to be heard in the halls of government? Let's hear your love for greatest man ever to run for the United States Congress..."
Her words are drowned out in applause as Nyamekye steps to the microphone.
In the next scene, Boris and Cheryl are lying in bed, watching Melissa and Nyamekye on television.
"And that just leaves Jose. I wonder where he is now?" Cheryl asks.
"Somewhere on the road," Boris says.
The final scene is a dirt road somewhere in rural America. A dusty motorcycle slowly approaches. Jose and Rebecca drive away into the sunset.
-- 30 --
One day, he visited her office with a sour look on his face. "Is there a problem?" she asked. "I'm feeling awful," he says in his most hillbilly accent. "My whole family is upset." She probed deeper. Finally, he told her a cousin of his "married outside the family and brought in this new blood and everyone's in an uproar."
I wrote this story on January 1 and 2, 2003. I stopped working on it because the premise is that there are terrorists in Iraq (and other countries) who hate Americans. In March, 2003, we invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and I assumed that my premise would soon be "history," as Iraqis (and the rest of world) would soon love Americans. It's now 2006 and I've dusted off this screenplay. :-)
About the CharactersEdit
I based the characters on the Greek god/goddess archetypes. Such characters naturally "resonate" with readers. Each archetype has an opposite sex ideal partner, so the fourteen characters are seven couples. Of course, opposites attract so at first each character can't stand his or her ideal partner, and then as the plot unfolds the characters grow and fall in love. This is the formula of all romantic novels. You can read more about these archetypes in Jean Shinoda Bolen's books "Goddesses in Every Woman" and "Gods in Every Man," or in my book "Hearts and Minds: How Our Brains Are Hardwired for Relationships." I'll also put in links to relevant Wikipedia artcles. The characters are:
Boris -- Russia -- Zeus
Cheryl -- American -- Hera
Fariq -- Iraqi -- Poseidon
Natasha -- Russia -- Athena
Jalal -- Afghanistan -- Hades
Suzanne -- American -- Persephone
Nyamekye -- American -- Apollo
Melissa -- American -- Artemis
Roger -- American -- Hermes
Fatima -- Afghanistan -- Hestia
Maria -- Cuba -- Aphrodite
Jose -- Cuba -- Dionysus
Rebekah -- American -- Demeter
What's Needed NowEdit
This story is about forty pages. It needs about eighty more pages of "fleshing out" to be a screenplay, or about 160 more pages to be a novel. I wrote this as mostly dialogue, with minimal setting and "direction" lines. This makes it easy to convert the novel into a screenplay.
Mostly the story is about how weird America is to foreigners. The simplest way to add material is to think of something bewildering Americans do, add an ironic twist, and send the characters there to see it.