Into the Arms of Angels, Part 5 of 14

Desk

I hope you enjoy the fifth installment of my feature-length screenplay,”Into the Arms of Angels” (© 2005, 2016).

For Part 4, please click here.

For Part 1 and a glossary of screenwriting abbreviations, please click here.

(Each installment concludes with a link to its successor.)

 

INT. JOE’S AND CHRIS’ HOME – WEDNESDAY MORNING – 2006

Joe knots his tie in front of a mirror in the master bedroom. Chris applies make-up down the hall in a bathroom.

CHRIS

You and Toby playing racquetball?

 

JOE

No, not this week.

 

CHRIS

Isn’t Wednesday your usual night?

 

JOE

Yeah, but Toby’s got to meet a fridge vendor for drinks tonight.

 

CHRIS

Ah. What do you suppose they’ll talk about?

 

JOE

I dunno. Refrigerators?

 

CHRIS

Yes, dummy. But how? Why? What is there to say about refrigerators?

 

JOE

Maybe that’s why they’re also having drinks.

 

CHRIS

Maybe.

 

JOE

Actually, Toby’s meeting them ’cause we need to replace a couple units. He’s seeing what they have in our price range.

 

CHRIS

And that, my dear Joseph, answers my question.

 

JOE

So we switched racquetball for a game of pool last night.

 

CHRIS

I see. And afterward you played a round of blame-the-wife.

 

JOE

Huh? Chris, what are you talking about?

 

CHRIS

“Joe says that because of you he didn’t get to go to New York.” So I am the reason you missed that crazy trip, when Gabriel –

 

JOE

Christine! I didn’t say that! You’re right, that’s what Toby said; but I told him I had to stay here to close on the house.

 

CHRIS

And that’s my fault?

 

JOE

It’s the fault of your work. That’s what happened. Or don’t you recall?

 

CHRIS

Yes, that’s how it went.

 

JOE

OK.

 

CHRIS

You picked Tuesday night to get your guy-fix early in the week?

 

JOE

No, Chris, I picked Tuesday because I couldn’t pick Thursday.

 

CHRIS

Why? Wasn’t Toby available for male bonding on Thursday?

 

JOE

I couldn’t pick Thursday because Thursday’s our anniversary. We have a reservation at L’Etoile. Or did you forget?

 

CHRIS

Actually I’ve been looking forward to Thursday quite a bit. What would you like me to wear out to dinner?

 

JOE

Whatever you want, hon.

 

CHRIS

But I’m asking you. In what would I be alluring and irresistible?

 

Joe pauses for a long time.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

You’re not answering.

 

Joe continues to straighten his tie.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

Joe – Suggest something.

 

JOE

Like I said, Chris, wear whatever you want.

 

CHRIS

You’re being impossible!

 

JOE

I mean it. You always look best in what you like best. I like the way you look when you’re, you know, relaxed.

 

CHRIS

Then why do I have a closet full of dresses?

 

JOE

Because you like them?

 

CHRIS

Hmm. Joe, you are such a guy.

 

JOE

I try to be.

 

CHRIS

At that, my dear, you succeed. I gotta run, honey. I’ll grab a Slim-Fast for breakfast.

 

JOE

You don’t need Slim-Fast.

 

CHRIS

To fit into my dress I do. See you for dinner tonight?

 

Chris heads down the stairs.

JOE

Yeah.

 

CHRIS

OK, then. Have a good one!

 

Chris exits the house. Joe remains in the bedroom.

 

EXT./INT. SCHUBERT’S RESTAURANT – 2006 – ESTABLISHING

Schubert’s is a charming mom-and-pop restaurant in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, about 10 miles south of County Dairy.

A wide window faces the Main Street. A glass door is decorated with local notices. A display case is filled with Norwegian pastries. A chalkboard menu hangs over an old fashioned malt machine.

A waitress emerges from the kitchen carrying a tray.

 

INT. SCHUBERT’S RESTAURANT – 2006 – WEDNESDAY LUNCHTIME

OTTO (O.S.)

…They know the majority’s in favor, but they’re sitting on it. And why? Just for politics. I mean, do they think they make friends when they do stuff like that?

 

Otto and Joe sit in a booth. The waitress arrives and sets down their plates. The men thank her. She leaves. Joe and Otto take a few bites in silence.

OTTO (CONT’D)

Oh, you might want to see this. Look what was in my email today.

 

Otto pulls a folded piece of paper from his pocket and hands it to Joe. Joe squints at the address on top.

JOE

Stephen dot Roberts. Name doesn’t ring a bell. Do I know him?

 

OTTO

He’s President out at Bongo Foods – was VP until five years ago. Maybe you didn’t deal with them much. Gabriel did –

 

JOE

Yes, I remember. Gabe was courting Bongo, and they almost decided to buy us. So what do they want now?

 

Joe hands the paper back to Otto.

OTTO

It seems they’re interested again – or at least they want us to visit.

 

JOE

That’s a surprise. How do you know?

 

OTTO

I phoned him back. I know I’m semi-retired, and it’s no longer my call, but I was so involved the last time…I was curious.

 

JOE

And…

 

OTTO

If I had to guess, I’d say Bongo’s back on its feet. They want to expand, and our name was in someone’s old Rolodex.

 

JOE

And they want to buy County? What did they say?

 

OTTO

To be honest, the guy sounded desperate. He kept saying again and again how he’d like us to come out for a “get-to-know-you” session.

 

JOE

“Get-to-know-us?”

 

OTTO

Maybe what he really said was, “refamiliarize concomitant offerings, product potentialities, and market fractionalization,” but jargon doesn’t stick in my mind anymore.

 

Joe laughs.

OTTO (CONT’D)

They want to review our selling points again, reopen the process Gabriel started.

 

JOE

Me, I’d rather rewind that process if it’s all the same to you. Seriously, though, with Pulaski going, we probably shouldn’t lead Bongo on. Maybe Bongo’d offer more money –

 

OTTO

Yep.

 

JOE

And market share. But Chicago’s closer than New York. If County sends folks down to Pulaski’s HQ, that’s only driving-distance. Bongo, on the other hand – folks’d have to fly; and we’d probably have more lay-offs.

 

OTTO

We don’t want Bongo to cost us even more of our friends.

 

JOE

Definitely not. We ought to write to Bongo and tell them no.

 

Otto refolds the paper and places it into his jacket pocket.

OTTO

Then I’ll give this to Phil.

 

JOE

Why Phil?

 

OTTO

He’s VP for Administration. Letter like that should come from him.

 

JOE

Right. A letter from Phil will scare Bongo off if nothing else will.

 

Joe picks up his knife and fork and resumes eating.

 

INT. A WEDDING DINNER IN A WHITE TENT – 1995

A knife and fork cut a chicken breast on a ceramic plate.

Inside a white tent, Gabriel stands at the middle of a long table which is covered with a white cloth.

Joe and Chris sit at Gabriel’s left elbow, Joe in a tuxedo with a large boutonniere and Chris in a wedding dress. Both Joe and Chris gaze up at Gabriel.

LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE rise from the assembled group.

GABRIEL

Joe and I were like that. I hatched the important schemes. Joe here made them happen, sometimes with disturbingly spectacular results. Somehow we shared the getting in trouble. Anyway, what followed that day you can easily imagine. Two boys. Mud. Projectiles. And ill-fated farming equipment. We completely forgot our plan to build a wall. If we’d been thinking, we’d have revised our mission to plastering mud all over, and under, and inside, Mr. Kleinschmidt’s tractors and combines. But were we thinking? Of course not! Then suddenly this enormous pair of leather boots appeared. Along with a rather imposing pair of legs. And wouldn’t you know, connected to those legs was Joe’s dad. Let’s just say he didn’t understand or appreciate our mission. Joe’s and my collaboration was halted that day, but not for long…For the last 15 months I’ve been honored to work with Joe for real, and for money, as we’re both finally part of our family’s business, County Dairy. Joe keeps me honest and well-fed (when I’m not home), and he always keeps me laughing. I can’t imagine working at County without him.

Gabriel raises his glass.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

Joe, it’s been my great honor and greater joy to be your friend and co-conspirator for all of your 24 years. I love you like a brother. Chris, I’m here to tell you that the man you’re marrying today is wise, and patient, and thoughtful, with a kind heart. And he’d darn well better be good to you or he’ll hear about it from me. To Joe and Chris, great happiness always. And may God bless and guide them on the days when we can’t do it ourselves.

Joe and Chris link their right arms before they toast.

Gabriel smiles at his wife LUCY in the crowd. Lucy (with long black hair and Native American features) smiles back at him.

 

INT. CHRIS’ AND JOE’S LIVING ROOM – THURSDAY NIGHT – 2006

Joe and Chris share a passionate kiss. Joe sits to Chris’ right.

Chris wears a cocktail dress. Joe wears jacket and tie.

The kiss is intense and lasts for several seconds.

They pause to breathe, arms wrapped around each other. Joe then nips the end of Chris’ nose. She laughs and kisses his chin, his right cheek, and finally his right ear, where she lingers.

When Joe can take this no longer, he grabs Chris and plants another passionate kiss on her lips.

They pause and gaze into each other’s eyes. Joe pushes a few strands of hair off Chris’ forehead and caresses her cheek.

 

JOE

So am I good to you?

 

Another short kiss.

CHRIS

Good to me? Mmmm…right now, I’d have to say yes.

 

Another kiss.

JOE

What about not right now?

 

CHRIS

Not right now? I can’t say. Right now is where I am…

 

Short kiss.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

Except the part of me that’s thinking about later.

 

Chris laughs and kisses Joe again. Joe grins.

JOE

And what might that…

 

Another kiss smothers the end of Joe’s question.

CHRIS

Why are you asking, anyway?

 

Joe leans back into the couch cushion.

On a coffee table are two champagne flutes, an open champagne bottle, torn wrapping paper, and a jeweler’s box. A dozen roses sit in a vase nearby.

JOE

Oh, I guess I just remembered something Gabriel said 11 years ago today.

 

CHRIS

He gave a beautiful speech, didn’t he, really wonderful?

 

JOE

Mmmm.

 

Joe reaches with his left hand and strokes Chris’ right arm.

CHRIS

Gabriel was such a stunning speaker. He knew exactly what to say, and how. I loved to watch him holding a room, everyone just transfixed by his words and gestures. And then with one line he’d have us in pieces, laughing our heads off. He did that at our wedding, didn’t he?

 

Joe nods. He takes Chris’ right hand and kisses her fingertips.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

He really knew how to connect with an audience. What a gift that was.

 

Chris smiles. Joe puts his left arm around her. With his right hand, he gently strokes the top of her thigh.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

He could just grab someone without using lots of words.

 

Chris takes Joe’s right hand in hers, stopping his caresses.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

I’ll bet he did just super presentations for County. Everyone must have loved them. Maybe if you spoke more like him you’d be pitching to big firms, too.

 

Chris slides onto Joe’s lap. She reaches up with both hands, takes Joe’s face, and plants a kiss on his lips. After a few seconds, Joe sits up straight.

JOE

Maybe I would. Though, as I recall, I missed out on one because of you.

 

Chris freezes and then slides back slowly away from Joe.

CHRIS

What are you talking about?

 

JOE

The sales pitch in New York.

 

CHRIS

New York? You mean the trip with Gabriel –

 

JOE

Yes.

 

CHRIS

when he –

 

JOE

Yes.

 

CHRIS

Joe, what – I mean – Why are you saying this?

 

JOE

You brought up Gabriel’s brilliant speaking skills and said I should be more like him. I didn’t get that chance in New York.

 

CHRIS

Well, neither did he, Joe. How again is any of that my fault?

JOE

It was your schedule that made me skip the trip.

 

CHRIS

That’s right. And that was bad?

 

JOE

I gave up any opportunity to make that big sales pitch –

 

CHRIS

Which never happened, for God’s sake, get real!

 

JOE

This is real, Chris. How I wish that it wasn’t.

 

CHRIS

Joe, please, let’s not do all of this again.

 

JOE

Do it all again? Oh, what I wish I could do again. But I can’t do anything. Gabriel is gone.

 

CHRIS

Sometimes it feels like you made that trip anyway. I feel like I lost you on that day, too.

 

Joe throws up his hands.

CHRIS (CONT’D)

Joe, I’m deadly serious.

 

JOE

Yes, I know you are. As you always are when you say that.

 

CHRIS

And I mean it! We’ve had almost five years of your shock, and your rage, and your grief; you’ve been running off to help Lucy, or scrambling to catch up at County, or just staring off into space. Finally, with God’s help you put yourself back together, but it seems you missed a piece, a big one, that used to be here for me.

 

JOE

I did my best!

 

Joe and Chris are pressed against opposite ends of the couch.

CHRIS

Yes, I can see that you did. I loved Gabriel too, you know.

 

JOE

Yes. That was always true. Too bad Lucy got there first.

 

CHRIS

What in the world are you talking about? Have you gone completely nuts?

 

JOE

No, I haven’t, but I might if you go back into worship-Gabriel mode. Why did you have to go on and on and on about him tonight?

 

CHRIS

He was your best friend. You loved him like a brother.

 

JOE

Some brother! So busy hatching a scheme to move himself up and get away from all of us Cheeseheads.

 

Chris jumps to her feet.

CHRIS

Just stop it! Now. You know he’d never have said that. Gabriel loved the hills and the trees out where you and he grew up. He loved Otto, and he loved you! If he were here right now he’d tell you –

 

JOE

Well, he’s not here now, is he? And just why is that? Could it be-

 

CHRIS

Joe, stop!

 

JOE

…his ambition and his greed?

 

CHRIS

No, it’s not! I can’t believe this, you of all people disrespecting Gabriel’s memory.

 

Joe stands up.

JOE

And who brought his memory into our living room tonight? Thank you so very much for that!

 

Joe and Chris are both near tears.

Chris straightens her skirt. She turns to walk toward the staircase. Joe does not move.

Two or three steps up the staircase, Chris stops and faces Joe.

CHRIS

Actually, Joe, it was you.

 

Chris disappears upstairs. The bedroom door clicks closed.

Joe picks up a piece of wrapping paper and crumples it into a ball while walking around the table to the couch. He sits down and stares straight ahead.

 

Please click here to read Part 6.

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4 thoughts on “Into the Arms of Angels, Part 5 of 14

  1. You’ve captured very well the dynamic between a couple married for 20+ years. I ought to know going as I am on my 23rd year LOLOL. Chris struck me as a little passive-aggressive in the opening scenes where she is quizzing her husband about his male bonding schedule. But she has my sympathies toward the end, eleven years later, when she’s speaking her mind, but her honesty is really not what her husband needs to hear. It is a heavy cross to bear for both. Good work, Tanner!

    Regards, Simmi D. Isaac (Sent from my iPhone)

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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