– By Richard Bonte
c 2005, registered WGA, w No. 629193
AGAINST NATURE (WASTE.6)
DARK SCREEN, then the SQUEAL of tires and CRUNCH of metal as cars SLAM together.
EXT LOS ANGELES: VIEW FROM HILLS ABOVE HOLLYWOOD FREEWAY – DAY
SILENCE. Traffic at a grinding halt. Heat. Cars stuck for miles, stalled in stagnant, yellow air. Everywhere.
Helicopters have moved in quickly and hover overhead; they lower paramedics and fire fighters to the scene. A Volkswagen has been completely demolished; five other cars lie piled up around. The paramedics go to work on the victims, the fire fighters on the cars.
Stretchers carrying the victims are loaded into one helicopter. It sweeps away and another takes its place. On the ground, fire fighters are spraying water over, and cutting into the mangled wrecks.
We move away from the immediate scene: all around the freeway is an information and advertising nightmare: big signs, little signs, murals; signs on cars, tires, billboards, human beings. Everywhere.
VARIOUS ANGLES ON DIFFERENT CARS
away from the immediate crash: everybody starts working inside their bubbles on wheels. No time to lose. Almost in unison, people pick up their cellular phones, send faxes, put on makeup, turn on their portable videos. Why? Because they’re not moving. Anywhere.
CLOSE on one nearby car with its windows open and radio on:
‘SUNNY’ RADIO VOICE
“…Just in, this hour’s KXJY’S “Be Alert” tip: Heavy traffic on the Eastbound Hollywood due to a double fatality near the Sunset off ramp…and now this…”Start your morning with “Bongo’s” cereal: crunchy, scrumptious, nutritious…”
Now, the WHIR of other helicopters drowns out the voice. These dart up and around a huge billboard which stands out from the others and features: a skimpily-dressed MODEL, her beautiful face protruding out of the billboard and long legs wrapped around a “Drof” sports car. The MESSAGE: “GET DROFFED! GET DRIVEN!”
From behind a tree steps a MAN wearing a gas mask and carrying two cases. SKEETER THOMAS, thirty-seven, quirky, intense, very much on his own, takes off the mask, then pulls out a long-nosed camera, focuses on the billboard sign–we see a close-up of the stunning model’s head in the lens. CLICKS the camera.
Now he opens the other case. There is a high-powered rifle inside. Quickly and expertly he assembles it. Again, CLOSE-UP of model’s head on billboard sign: this time through the RIFLE LENS. Takes aim. SILENT POP: he blows her head off. Picks up the camera again, and takes a picture of the headless billboard. Quickly but carefully disassembles gun and camera. Disappears.
EXT BUS STOP, HOLLYWOOD HILLS – DAY
SKEETER, gas mask back on, waiting in line for a bus. A LARGE FAT MAN dressed in polyester lights a fresh cigarette with the butt of the old one, then stamps it out. Skeeter bends down and picks up the butt; places it in a nearby waste basket, then stares at the man.
You got a problem, guy?
Traffic moves by at an extremely slow pace. In the yellow haze, a bus belching fumes out the back, pulls up in front of them. FAT MAN moves to get in first but Skeeter slips through.
Skeeter now assails the BUS DRIVER.
When are you going to do something about those fumes?
Skeeter begins scribbling on what looks like a parking ticket.
I told you yesterday, Bud, the Smog Board’ll take care of it.
And I didn’t tell you yesterday? I am the Smog Board.
Skeeter flashes his BADGE from the Southern California Smog Board, then hands the ticket to the bus driver. In surprise and anger, the bus driver begins BLASTING his horn at an illegally stopped car next to a painted red curb. The DRIVER of this vehicle is on his cell phone.
Why don’t you lean on bozos like that?!
(yells out the window)
The offender gives Skeeter the FINGER and goes on talking. The bus barely creeps by as Skeeter jots down the car’s LICENSE NUMBER.
That’s what I mean!
Those people are the problem, not the bus company!
Skeeter sits down directly behind the driver. Pulls out the “Metro” section of the Los Angeles Times and reads the following title: “ROAD VS. RAIL: NO CONTEST”. Then, underneath in smaller letters: “Road lobby jubilant as rail companies back off”.
The bus picks up speed and a great black cloud of smoke billows up behind. Gesturing wildly at the smoke, Skeeter BANGS on the glass behind the driver.
EXT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SMOG BOARD (SCSB) – DAY
A large warehouse-type building with huge fans along the roof. Noxious, yellow exhaust fumes escape through these into the atmosphere.
INT SKEETER’S OFFICE – DAY
SKEETER saunters into a small office he shares with another inspector, JIM REED. Jim has his nose buried in the paper.
Skeeter goes to the fridge, pours some milk into a saucepan, then heats it up on an electric hotplate.
You’re late –
What do you expect? The bus was caught in too much traffic.
Boss says employees of the Smog Board are never late.
Not only are these busses late. They’re stinking up the place, Jim! What are we
supposed to be doing here?
I knew I should have taken my bike.
Why don’t you take your Electric Vehicle?
And add to traffic congestion?
He shows Jim the violation he gave the bus driver.
As well as this other clown.
He takes a sip of his hot milk and hands JIM the other ticket.
There’s the license number. This polluter was double-parked. Blocking our bus from getting through. Son of a bitch gave me the finger. So let’s hit him with the max.
Skeeter then sits down at his desk and stares somberly at the framed photo of a THIRTY-SOMETHING WOMAN AND YOUNG GIRL ABOUT SIX OR SEVEN.
Christ! Man doesn’t even wait ’til work before he starts issuing tickets.
Skeeter picks up the picture to look at it more closely. His eyes glass over as his hands begin to tremble.
I just saw a terrible accident.
Jim gives him a friendly pat on the back.
I’m sorry you had to, buddy.
INT SMOG CONTROL AREA
A large area with all sorts of smog control emissions machines. Cars are lined up in front of these; INSPECTORS talk to DRIVERS, and vice versa.
JIM AND SKEETER move to their neighboring stations. Two cars are awaiting them. As they’ve done a thousand times, they open the hoods of their respective cars, then go round the back and attach colorless hoses to the exhaust pipes of the two cars.
I hear Mayor Right’s backing the road-building campaign. Supposedly eliminate traffic congestion.
Their respective CLIENTS each start their engines at the same time and drown out the end of Jim’s remark.
A huge burst of yellow-black exhaust shoots into the hose of Skeeter’s client’s car.
(to his CLIENT)
Holy Jesus! When was the last time you had this thing tuned up?
Skeeter pulls out a screwdriver and starts fiddling under the hood.
Come on, man, if you try and regulate it, it’s not gonna even run.
Hey guy, I know you gotta do your job, but come over here.
Tries to slip Skeeter $50, but there is no taker. Skeeter chuckles as he sticks his face in the client’s and barks back:
For starters, you got no catalytic converter, a ten-year-old muffler, an engine that leaks oil and exhaust that makes my shit look good.
Skeeter shuts off the man’s engine, removes the clear hose and waves the guy away quietly:
Do yourself a favor. Get this thing junked as soon as you leave. Have a swell day!
EXT WORLD ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN (WOW) – DAY
WOW headquarters: an impressive new one-story building with a woman’s fist inside the circle and cross symbol painted on the wall.
INT WOW HEADQUARTERS
JILL GOWER AND MYRA ROBERTS, WOW leaders in their mid-thirties, are standing by a podium and are about to address hundreds of their constituents. Two policemen from the L.A.P.D., CRANTZ AND STERN, late thirties, approach and draw them off to one side:
I’m Stan Crantz and this is my associate, Bud Stern, from the Los Angeles Police Department. We thought you or your constituents might know something about an incident of billboard vandalism, especially since it involves a high profile fashion model for the new Drof sports car?
This was on the news this morning?
Why don’t we ask them?
Without waiting for an answer, GOWER steps up to the podium, rings a bell and gets everyone’s attention.
Just a minute, hold on!
She addresses both the officers and the crowd in a loud voice.
Step up here into the limelight, Officers!
Embarrassed, only Crantz does as he’s told.
These fine officers from the LAPD want to know if we’ve taken any potshots at that sexy Drof Motor Company billboard, or decapitated any models? Now, would any of us really want to do such a thing?
There is general LAUGHTER all round. Away from the podium, Stern grabs ROBERTS’ arm,
You and your friend want a good laugh? Our forensic people will be down to do a
thorough check on every member of this organization.
Come on, Stan.
The two cops leave to the sound of STIFLED SNICKERS.
INT BUS – SOME TIME LATER
SKEETER gets on the same bus as before. At least, he has the SAME DRIVER. Skeeter peers out the back of the bus, notices no black smoke, then returns his attention to the driver.
I see we got the job done today?
Driver says nothing but stares straight ahead.
EXT HOLLYWOOD HILLS – DAY
Skeeter gets off in front of a low-rent futuristic café. A GROUP OF YOUNG PEOPLE, inside, sitting round a table in a cloud of smoke. To attract their attention, Skeeter RATTLES his gas mask against the window: in exaggerated fashion, he starts coughing and spitting and imitating their SMOKING.
He moves on, almost running into four more YOUTHS wearing loud T-shirts with signs like, “Do the Job”, “Fuck me”, “Your Mother” and “Lick me, suck me, fuck me all night long”.
Skeeter shakes his head, then takes a side road and stops in front of…
HIS NEIGHBORS’ HOUSE
A low-slung, Spanish-style bungalow. A series of metal garbage cans, all filled beyond capacity, line the walk. The garden is in disrepair, clothes are scattered around. Skeeter knocks each lid off its can and lets it CLANG against the ground. TWO BARE-CHESTED MEN appear at the window.
ONE OF THEM
You don’t have to do that every week, Skeeter!
When are we gonna clear this shit up!
Skeeter turns into his gate and walks up to his front door. The yard is spotless–separate shiny, metal garbage cans for “glass, wood, plastics, E-mail paper vouchers, pure garbage”, etc., a lush green lawn with a sign, ‘Kept green with recycled water only’. Everything is squeaky clean in contrast to the neighbors’.
THE OTHER MAN
The TWO MEN disappear behind the curtains as Skeeter’s door closes shut.
INT SKEETER’S HOUSE: LARGE OPEN FRONT ROOM
The inside is like the outside. With everything in place. Skeeter removes his shoes and places them next to an immense air purifier. Flips on the TV: musicians playing quiet classical MUSIC come on.
On one wall, we see another picture of the WOMAN we saw in his office: here, the 35-year-old WOMAN is smiling and receiving a large trophy from “Friends of the Earth” for “Green Photography & Green Service to the Earth – Thank You, Janet Thomas
The TV switches to the news:
“…And now for today’s top stories…Police are looking for a mysterious “Billboard Shooter” who perpetrated a, quote, ‘…act of symbolic violence against the exploitation of women in advertising…,’ unquote. A billboard image of Daphne DuPont, top fashion model and daughter of Drof Motor Co. magnate, Glen DuPont, was shot down this morning and major women’s groups, including WOW, are being questioned- ”
He picks his camera out of his bag, then disappears into his dark room.
We stay outside and PAN AROUND the room. Neatly-placed GLOSSY PHOTOGRAPHS of — traffic jams, gridlock, pollution scenes: dirty air, dirty water, forests being cut down, people dying in poor, overcrowded areas — line ONE WALL of the room.
ANOTHER WALL shows pictures of nature scenes and beautiful lakes, flowers and trees; beautiful, wholesome people with smiles stroll by.
Skeeter reemerges with a large glossy photograph of DAPHNE DUPONT but stops to stare at the TV: Democrat Mayoral Candidate “WIN”, WINTHROP WILLY, 52-a weak-looking East Coast intellectual type with long, greasy hair and buck teeth, stares back at us:
It’s obvious that Los Angeles County needs an extended bus system and full-fledged subway network. The fact is the automobile industry- which my opponent supports unconditionally – has turned Los Angeles, the top-producing farm country in the United States just sixty-five years ago in
the early forties, into an area where seventy percent of L.A. is now devoted to cars! Seventy percent, folks! And now the “beast”-which we used to call the locomotive-and its roads have not only displaced the rail trolley and bus transportation system that used to efficiently serve all of Los Angeles into the late 1950s, but isn’t it true that the “beast” has been fighting off all competitors since?
PULL BACK TO REVEAL
Willy’s opponent, RICHARD RIGHT, 59, incumbent Republican Mayor of L.A. He is all high cheekbones and massive square jaw:
I don’t know about you people,
but I like my car. Why, I was
just driving my convertible down
P.C.H. the other day over at
Malibu. It was great feeling the
wind in my hair…
Skeeter plugs in a VHS cassette and begins to record:
“…Look, I’ve been around since you
all elected me in ’04 and frankly,
L.A. is not only OK, it’s great!
That’s because we’ve let business-
YOUR PRIVATE business-take care of business!
And when private business-like Glen
DuPont, CEO of Drof Cars-combines with
your state-approved road project, then
we’ve hit the jackpot! In a jingle,
good roads plus good cars make good
business and good transportation.
And that’s why I want you to all give
a vote to business: vote for the
road bond issue on November 3rd…
Skeeter lets the tape continue but turns off the sound. He then hangs Daphne DuPont’s picture over that of Janet Thomas. Stares at it. Daphne’s eyes lock with those of SKEETER. Mesmerized for a long time, Skeeter finally turns to a video telephone screen and presses a button on his console.
CU ON SCREEN
He looks up momentarily into Daphne’s eyes.
VOICE ACTIVATED COMPUTER
Brentwood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood: Models
Registered. All of the above?
A list of modeling agencies appears on the screen. Skeeter presses a button, then speaks…
Hello?…”Anima? Anima Models?”…Hi, I’m a friend of Daphne DuPont’s and I’d like to leave a message for her…You don’t have a Daphne DuPont?…Well, where can I find her?…You don’t…
(to Daphne’s image)
Don’t worry, puppy.
He presses another button.
Hello?…”Beautiful Image”?…Hi! I’m a friend of Daphne DuPont’s and I’d like to leave a message for her…You don’t have a Daphne DuPont? Well,…