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Friday, September 9, 2016

Masquerade - A Film Treatment

FADE IN:

Night. Porsche convertible, racing at high speeds; headlights scour the winding road, engine roaring. Man behind the wheel drives with intensity. Thick wavy hair ripples in the wind, eyes crazed. Beside him, RACHEL. She looks worried; the winding turns coming way too fast.

A damsel in distress being snatched away by a crazed, good-looking scoundrel?

That’s the vibe we get.

Soon, flashing lights on their tail. Sirens. The police. Rachel’s anxiety worsens. But scoundrel ignores them. Italian handmade shoe mashes on the pedal, the Porsche roars away.

Now, lights up ahead. A HOSPITAL. Emergency room entrance. The car whips around a sharp corner, cops close behind, sirens wailing. An ambulance sits with flashing lights, doors open. The scoundrel hops out, unconcerned about the cops pulling up behind him. A DOCTOR appears, intercedes on his behalf: “It’s okay, officers. He’s a doctor…” then ushers the scoundrel inside, Rachel on his heels. The officers stand breathless, confused. Pissed.

Scoundrel turns out to be plastic surgeon MILES DAMON. He’s hot-shit and knows it.

The hospital doc gives him the run-down. Teenage girl, traffic accident, face a pile of goo. Hands him the x-rays. Then he adds, “Here’s a high school photo her mother supplied…”

“Think we can do better than that,” Damon says, passing the photo to Rachel. “Let’s get prepped…”

Hours later… Locker room. Damon exhausted, covered in sweat. Rachel unties his scrubs, pushes them past bare shoulders, towels his glistening back. He turns, grabs her hands, the euphoria of the operation still in his bloodstream. He kisses her passionately.

Rachel resists, “Miles. What about your wife?”

“Fuck Evelyn.”

“I’d rather not.”

Damon pulls back, grins at her. “You don’t find her attractive?”

“Miles, stop.”

“Teasing you, darling.” He’s a rogue. Peter Pan in a man’s body; the talent of a plastic surgeon with the swagger of a pirate. He kisses her cheek, grabs her hand. They leave together.

SAME NIGHT

DAMON’S CASTLE. A stone mansion on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

He enters. Noticeably absent is his roguish air. He tiptoes up the stairs to the master bedroom, peers in on the woman sleeping soundly, mask covering her eyes. The look on Damon’s face says it all.

Damon creeps to his office two doors down. Pours a stiff drink, looks at glossy photos from a large envelope, is visibly pained. His wife in the arms of a blond-haired scoundrel half her age.

Suddenly EVELYN appears at the door, eye mask pushed to her forehead.

“I assume you performed another one of your miracles tonight?”

Damon shows her the photo. “Why do you dislike me so?”

“I don’t dislike you darling. I despise you. There’s a huge difference.”

She turns, leaves. Damon falls back in his chair, confused, demoralized. He flings the photos from his desk, reaches for the open bottle of scotch…

THE NEXT DAY

Rachel, at the upscale office, giving a woman botox injections. She’s skilled, professional. She looks up, sees a disheveled Damon shuffle by.

Later, she appears at Damon’s office door, sympathy in her eyes.

Damon confesses: “I can’t go on like this. She knows I won’t divorce her. She’s conditioned me to a certain lifestyle and she knows I’ll never give it up. She enjoys torturing me.”

Rachel says: “I’ve been thinking about it and I think I have a solution. Come by later tonight…”

LATER

Damon, pacing, head in his hands.

“Murder?”

Rachel sits calmly on the sofa.

“The perfect murder,” she corrects him. She patiently goes over the plan:

“We find a suitable candidate to take Evelyn’s place. Height, age, general proportions. She agrees to surgery. We make her into the spitting-image of Evelyn, right down to the birthmark on her ass. She acts the part of Evelyn and when no question remains as to who she is, she’ll agree to a public divorce and leave you everything.

Damon considers, “But… why would she agree to this?”

“Why else? Money. A new identity. A fresh start on life. Just leave the woman to me.”

“And if she goes to the police?”

“Why would she, Miles? To get herself arrested and thrown in jail? Not likely...”

Damon thinks it over… “Murder.” The word lingers on his lips and Rachel’s eyes shine. “But is it possible…” he wonders.

Rachel grabs his hands. Skilled, talented hands. “You have the skill, darling. You know these gifted fingers can do it. Why not put your talents to use and create the future you deserve? The future we both deserve.”

He looks into her eyes. She’s very convincing. Suddenly he scoops her up into his arms and kisses her passionately. Looks like he’s made up his mind…

So…

They plan how they’re going to kill Evelyn. The easiest is sodium thiopental, while the woman sleeps. But when Damon goes to perform the injection, he has a change of heart, and instead descends downstairs to get drunk. Rachel shows up expecting to see a dead wife, but Evelyn confronts her, ridicules her for wanting Damon. Rachel calmly picks up a golf club and bashes his wife’s brains in right then and there. Done.

Next comes disposing of the body. They wrap Evelyn in cellophane and haul her to the dock where Damon’s twenty-foot schooner sits anchored. Choppy water at night makes the task arduous, but they manage to weigh her down and dump her overboard. Step two complete.

As the days following Evelyn’s murder wear on, Damon appears frazzled. People are asking about her. He’s worried the lie about her sudden disappearance is wearing thin. Rachel eases his nerves: “I found her!”

She introduces Damon to the woman who will become the new Evelyn: DAISY. Rachel explains how she found the poor woman at a battered woman’s shelter. “She’s the perfect candidate! Perfect height, age, hair color, eye color!”

Damon’s confidence returns. YES! He can do this. He can make this woman into the spitting-image of his dead wife. Elated, he schedules the private surgery…

Hours pass as the doctor painstakingly reconstructs Daisy’s face to match the numerous angles of Evelyn’s profile on the various monitors. Rachel assists, her body tense.

Finally, the surgery is complete. It’ll take weeks before the scars heal and the bandages come off. Damon insists the patient recuperate at his castle. As the days pass, a fondness for the woman grows in Damon’s heart.  You could almost say, an attraction...

And Rachel notices…

The bandages come off. Daisy IS Evelyn, down to every detail! Their plan is a complete success!

But...

Rachel can’t help notice how close the two have become.

Damon takes pride in caring for his new wife, who has all of Evelyn’s beauty and none of her flaws.

When Rachel catches the two of them sharing a tender moment, it’s the first realization her plan has a fatal flaw: she didn’t account for Damon’s attraction to this phony surrogate!

When Rachel floats the idea of ‘getting rid of loose ends’, Damon is appalled.

He’s soon confronted by the reality that he’s fallen in love with this woman, fallen in love with his wife. “It’s not safe for you here,” he tells Daisy/Evelyn. “We’ve got to leave, get away from here. Together…” Daisy/Evelyn agrees and she confesses her love for him. Damon’s heart soars...

Without Rachel’s knowledge, Damon plans their escape. As a sign of good faith, Daisy suggests putting his profitable practice entirely in Rachel’s name. Damon hesitates - its represents a sizable income - but if it means appeasing Rachel, he’ll do it. He makes immediate plans to have his lawyer draw up the paperwork...

But Rachel’s no dummy. With the knowledge that Damon’s away in the city, she drives out to the isolated castle on the cliff. Out to where a defenseless Daisy waits patiently for the good doctor’s return. In Rachel’s hand, a loaded revolver. In her eyes, fierce determination.

Damon, driving those same winding roads, gets a feeling something ain’t right. He tries calling the mansion. No answer. Worried, he spins the car around, mashes the pedal. Hopes he isn’t too late.

He pulls up the circular drive, sees Rachel’s car. Panics. He rushes in, races up the stairs, bursts into Evelyn’s room, sees Rachel with the gun, lunges for her.

A SHOT rings out across the expansive estate.

Back in the bedroom, gunsmoke clears.

Rachel stands over Damon’s prostrate body. She turns the gun on Daisy, whose face has turned ghastly white…

And then her fingers drop the gun and Rachel races into Daisy’s arms, and the two of them embrace. THEIR PLAN WORKED!

Later, police cruisers, ambulance, the whole nine yards. A DETECTIVE compares notes with his partner.

“The wife says the nurse entered the bedroom just as the good doctor was about to pull the trigger. The two grappled and the gun went off.”

“Looks like she got here just in time…” the partner adds.

As the ambulance with Damon’s body leaves, Rachel and Daisy stand on the front steps, looking on, just two ordinary women having shared an extraordinary, horrific ordeal. But hidden from view, behind their backs, two hands clasped tightly and lovingly together.

THE END

Monday, August 29, 2016

Excerpt from Reno Nevada: How Harlan Lost His Hand

   Harlan laughed hard. What a pleasure it had been, kicking Nevada off his perch high aloft the shaft and into the black pit below. Now he could be with his poor, beloved horse all he wanted, provided that he survived the fall, which was unlikely, considering the distance.
   He looked at the parchment in his hand. Now he had the map and the wonderful realization he didn’t have to share its treasure with anyone. But something was happening. He felt a jolt somewhere within the cavern, then heard the tick! tick! tick! of  a mechanism moving, and he quickly took up the position Reno had vacated, leaning over the edge, peering into the darkness.
   “Reno!” he shouted.
   He waited for an answer but none came.
   Gears were turning in the dark and then his body jumped at the sound of a rapid succession of gunshots reverberating in his ears, and just as he realized what the gunshots were, the sluice gate above him slammed shut in a gunshot of its own, and before he could jump clear, the gate had turned into a guillotine.
   It severed his extended arm clean off at the elbow.
   He cried out in pain, grabbing the bloody stump where his hand had been – the hand clutching the map – and blood gushed through his fingers. In a panic, he ripped the bandana off his neck and wrapped it around the wound as tears of sweat and pain filled his eyes.
   Heaving in great gulps of air and fighting off a wave of nausea and shock, he rested his great hulking mass against the cubby hole wall.
   Getting out of here wouldn’t be easy and he knew he had to make his way to a doctor before he bled to death. The only comfort was the knowledge of where the map had fallen. He could picture it now, in his mind’s eye, lying in the pit alongside Reno’s broken body and the dead gargantuan stallion.
   Wrapped tightly in the fingers of his own severed hand.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Excerpt: Reno Nevada Rides To Hell

   The front door of the cabin burst open and Eve spun around in response, her heart leaping to her throat. The Preacher jumped to his feet as Long Hawk instinctively drew his blade.
   In the open doorway, covered in dust and sweat, looking bloody and disheveled, stood Reno Nevada.
   In one hand he held the Preacher’s rifle, its muzzle still smoldering. In the other: a massive, winged creature – about three times the size of an eagle – its face a grotesque mask of death. A long thick tongue lolled from its gaping mouth.
   Eve let out a gasp as the Preacher and Long Hawk stood frozen in astonishment.
   Reno tossed the creature on the floor at the old man’s feet. It landed with a sickening thud. A moment of silence fell upon them before Reno broke it.
   “So when do we ride to Hell?”
   The Preacher, startled, swallowed hard as he tried to regain his composure. His gaze was still glued to the dead creature splayed out on the wooden floor at his feet.
   “Three, uh, three days from now,” he said, stroking his chin absentmindedly.
   Reno relaxed his shoulders and Eve noticed the color return to his cheeks.
   “Okay, ” he said, nodding his understanding. “Three days from now. I can handle that.”
   Her eyes met with his again and they held each other’s gaze a long moment. Then he nodded goodbye, tipped his too-small hat to her and exited the house, shutting the door behind him.
   Eve turned to her father who lifted his uncertain gaze toward hers. Their long-awaited journey was about to begin.

Grab the book on Amazon today!