A blinding white light. A gunshot. A body falls over the side of a massive crevice in the land.
Carter King, thirties, sweeps a red clay tennis court around in a wide circle like he’s creating a giant bull’s-eye.
Inside the pro shop, a semi-retarded tennis pro, Stew Golden, about the same age as Carter, but strangely retro, like Stan Smith, strings a wood racquet with no paint job.
Carter walks in and grabs a bottled water out of the fridge.
“Another new stick, Stew?” Carter says.
Stew is supremely focused on what he is doing and does not look up.
An outdoor party packed with the rich and powerful. Carter and RJ, short for Ray James, nineteen, also a tennis pro, show up together in Carter’s Range Rover. Carter leaves his door open for a valet in the driveway. Carter turns to RJ and rhetorically asks:
“What do you give a man who owns half of Los Angeles?”
RJ isn’t sure if Carter expects an answer.
“Respect, RJ. Respect.”
They weave through the crowd for the bar set up near the pool, where real estate magnate Gray Golden is holding court. Standing at Gray’s side is his lawyer and longtime bagman, Burt Ratner. Ratner’s wife, an aging botox queen, stands behind them. Carter steps past Ratner to shake Gray’s hand.
“Happy birthday, boss,” Carter says.
“Have fun, boys,” Gray says.
Talking all around comes to a stop as Silly (Sylvie) Golden wheels out a huge cake with sixty candles on it that reads HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAY!
Silly, a former child star turned Hollywood bad girl turned rehab/relapse queen, prepares to give a toast. The crowd squeezes in around the pool.
“Every year around this time I ask my daddy what he wants for his birthday, and every year he says, Silly, all I want from you is to see you happy.”
Gray is beaming, listening to Silly. Carter is next to him and can’t take his eyes off her. Stew, sporting a white Lacoste sweat suit, is sitting at a table off by himself making sketches of wood tennis racquets on a napkin.
“But this year, after I told him I’ve never been happier, he said, well in that case, sweetheart, why don’t you throw me a party.”
The crowd erupts with hoots and applause.
“So how about taking care of these candles, Daddy, and getting this party started.”
Gray blows out all the candles after several tries. The crowd roars after he gets the last one. Carter works his way toward Silly along the side of the pool, while RJ scans the party for women his own age.
“Hey, Silly,” Carter says.
Carter is bitter. “Where’s your guru?”
“Damien couldn’t make it.”
“Off saving another soul?”
“Enjoy the party, Carter. Daddy loves you.”
Silly signals the DJ to turn it up and starts to dance as she walks away. Carter grabs a glass of champagne from a server walking past him and kills it like a shot. The DJ cranks up the volume.
Sun creeps up over the hills. RJ, super fit, runs lines with a racquet in his hand and his wrist heavily taped. He slides into his stops like a hockey player, kicking up red clay. Carter drinks coffee and does some paperwork on a patio near RJ’s court. He has a massive hangover. RJ bangs the net with his racquet in a semi-rage as part of his punishing workout.
Stew sits behind his desk in the corner of the pro shop sanding one of his wood racquets. A plate on his desk reads DIRECTOR OF TENNIS.
Dina, sixteen and Asian-American, is trying to thread the strings through another wood racquet just like it behind the front desk. She is dressed in a tight tennis dress and bent over the stringing machine.
RJ is now practicing serves. Cones are lined up three in each service box. He picks the first two off on two tries. Four old ladies waiting to play doubles on RJ’s court applaud every time he hits a cone. When he misses one after a couple tries the applause stops.
“Fuck me!” RJ says. He misses again. “Fuck me in the ass!”
Carter gets up from his table with his coffee and paperwork and walks up to RJ behind the fence.
“I gotta get back on tour,” RJ says.
“Bend over a little longer here until the suspension is over, and then you’re back in the ring,” Carter assures him.
“Bend this over.” RJ fires another serve and sends a cone up into the air.
Silly and her yogi-to-the-stars lover, Damien, are doing yoga on Silly’s expansive deck overlooking the ocean. It is early in the morning and she is reaching up into the sky, as if in prayer, as he adjusts her posture. The pose they are striving for, however, quickly evolves into sex.
RJ is giving Gray a private tennis lesson at his massive hillside estate. He’s working the old man pretty hard. They take a break and sit down during the changeover. A servant brings them a pitcher of ice tea and some fruit.
“You’re being too easy on me,” Gray tells RJ.
“This is real sweat in case you weren’t sure,” RJ says.
“Just hit the fucking ball, kid. I’m not footing the bill for you to get back out there and play like some teenage bitch.”
They return to the court. Gray serves and RJ crushes a return winner right past him.
Gray smiles. “That’s more like it.”
Stew and Carter are hitting a few balls. Stew is testing out another prototype of his new wood racquet. Stew is a decent player, but hits in an old school way from the 1970s. Carter is totally modern and world class.
“How’s it feel, Stew?”
“Still too heavy,” Stew says.
They hit some more easy shots back and forth before Carter unloads a monster forehand that knocks the racquet out of Stew’s hand.
“Guess so,” Carter says.
Dina makes change for a club member buying a can of balls in the pro shop. RJ is looking over the courtsheets and entering things into his iPhone. He sees Dina artfully shortchange the club member, but he doesn’t say anything. The member leaves. Dina slips the stolen cash into her tennis panties under her dress like an extra ball.
“Retard hasn’t scared you off yet?” RJ asks.
“Stupid don’t scare me,” Dina says.
Damien is conducting a private yoga session with two hot blondes obviously under his spell. One of the blondes starts to proposition him as he touches her lower back to adjust her posture.
“Why don’t we all—
Damien gently places two fingers from his free hand across her lips.
“No words, please,” he says. “Only each breath.”
Carter is hitting with his agent, Brad Cohen. Cohen has on a ridiculously outdated Nadal outfit complete with muscle shirt and Capri pants. They try to rally backhands crosscourt, but Cohen keeps shanking them everywhere.
“Fucking shit!” Cohen screams.
“Keep your head down,” Carter says.
“All you ever say. Keep your fucking head down,” Cohen counters.
“Do it and I’ll say something else.”
Cohen pulls his head up too early again, framing the ball and sailing it over the fence. “Fucking shit-fuck!”
“Get a drink,” Carter says.
They meet at the water cooler by the side of the court. Cohen pulls another racquet out of his huge Babolat touring bag. It’s way too much gear for someone his level.
“Piece of shit-fucking-backhand,” Cohen says.
“Keep your head down,” Carter says.
“Big fucking help you are,” Cohen says. He towels off his grip and drinks some more water. His shirt is soaked. Carter has yet to break a sweat.
“Had a chance to look at the BestDirect material?” Cohen says.
“I’m not doing an infomercial,” Carter says.
“Did you look at the material?” Cohen says.
“A hard-on herb?” Carter says.
“The product,” Cohen says.
Carter shakes his head.
“It’s no different from a pharmaceutical campaign,” Cohen says.
“What happened to the pilot about the zoologist?” Carter says.
“A natural alternative to Viagra that also promotes female ejaculation. No prescription. No side effects. You stay hard as a horse while she squirts all over your balls. Are you kidding me, bro? Major fuck you money.” Cohen can’t contain his excitement.
“What about the pilot?” Carter says.
“The zoo thing’s on hold.” Cohen grabs another racquet out of his bag and gives it a few practice swings. He knocks over his Gatorade, which spills on the clay next to his bag. “Shit fuck,” Cohen says.
“I’m not Jack,” Carter says.
“Jack from Sideways,” Carter continues. “That’s not me, man. That will never be me.”
“Of course not,” Cohen says.
Gray is dining on an outdoor terrace with Ratner and two associates. They have come to the end of the meal and are smoking cigars over coffee. Gray has a prophetic look in his eye.
“Fault lines,” he says.
Gray’s minions listen intently.
“Let’s step inside.”
As they get up, a light goes on from a separate guesthouse on the estate.
Stew then opens his front door to let in a servant carrying some sandwiches. Stew is wearing protective goggles, and he is covered in sawdust.
Gray’s dinner party has moved inside to his den. Maps, drawings, and photos of a sprawling real estate development are laid out on a large table in front of them.
“The State of California, through its incompetence and antiquated system of assessing earthquake risk, has declared this beautiful stretch of desert unsafe for residential development.” Gray pauses to sigh and shake his head. “But we, gentleman, with help from some friends in Sacramento and the best geologists money can buy, know better.”
Nods from Ratner and the two associates.
“Where others see nature’s mistakes, we see inherent value and untapped potential. It is our job to honor that value and potential by developing it and bringing it to market.”
Stew’s goggles now rest atop his head as he tears into a PBJ and Mountain Dew. He has converted his living room into an amateur woodshop. All manner of clamps, saws, files, and anything else required to build a tennis racquet by hand are scattered about. Posters of old players with wood racquets adorn the walls: Borg, McEnroe, Vilas, Laver, Smith, Newcombe, Nastase. One wall, however, sticks out. There is a single framed picture of a beautiful French woman standing next to Stew, age eight, with her arm around his shoulder. The woman is Stew’s mother. She is wearing a sparkling diamond tennis bracelet around her wrist. Stew is dressed in white tennis clothes and his shoes and socks are red from playing on clay. He’s holding on to a Jack Kramer Autograph wood racquet. A dashing younger Gray stands behind them. The red clay court and background indicate that they are at Roland Garros.
Ratner raises his glass to toast: “To another winner from The Golden Group.”
Silly sits in the middle of an AA circle.
“Hey, everybody,” she says.
“Hey, Silly,” they answer back.
“So I’m happy to report that the birthday party I threw my daddy was a big hit.”
“Damien couldn’t make it, which had me worried I might not be able to get through it alone, but I did! I got through the whole night without the thought of taking a drink or anything else.”
“Way to go, Silly,” someone says.
Silly blushes. “Thanks. It just felt really good not to make a fool out of myself again. Just felt good not to screw something up.”
Staff meeting in progress. Carter, Stew, RJ, Dina, and five other pros are sitting outside on the patio. Carter conducts the meeting. He pretends to be speaking on behalf of Stew.
“And, as to ongoing requests to change the dress code for pros to reflect current tour standards, there will continue to be no sleeveless shirts at Golden Hills Tennis.”
RJ rolls up his sleeve behind Stew’s back and flexes his bicep so Carter can see it. His bicep has a tennis ball surrounded by flames tattooed across it.
“Lastly, Stew continues to refine his new racquet design and has two demos here that he would like to get some feedback on. Please take a few minutes to hit with one of the new frames and fill out a player report.”
There are two wood racquets on the table in front of everyone with his player reports. The pros look at them and each other like it’s some kind of joke.
Carter stands up again. “OK, then. Any questions?”
“Thanks, guys. Back to work.” Carter reaches for one of the racquets as a courtesy to Stew. He swings it a few times and pretends to be interested.
RJ and Gray are playing tennis again. RJ is running him from side to side during a rally like a puppet on a string. Gray suddenly turns beet red and collapses. RJ is stunned and frozen. A gardener nearby sees what’s happened. He drops his hose and runs to Gray’s side.
“El Medico! El Medico!”
RJ snaps out of his daze. He rushes to his racquet bag, finds his cell, and dials 911.
Carter and RJ step out of an elevator. RJ is carrying a cheesy floral arrangement. They see Silly and Stew at the end of the hall talking with Ratner, Ratner’s wife, and a doctor.
Inside his hospital room, Gray is awake but fading. RJ stays back in the corner of the room holding on to his flowers. Carter approaches the bed.
“Hey, boss. You look good.”
Gray stares directly into Carter’s eyes, as if to say don’t bullshit me. He knows it’s almost over.
“Good to see they’re taking good care of you.”
Gray’s voice is strained as he tries to respond: “You done right by me, Carter. You done right by the Golden family.”
“You’ve spoiled me, boss.”
“Trusted you,” Gray says. “You earned my trust. In the end, trust is all we have.”
“I’ve trusted you with my daughter. I’ve trusted you with my son.”
Carter tries to prop up Gray in his bed. “Let me help you.”
“All I ever wanted was to protect them,” Gray says. “To keep them away from the wolves.”
RJ is looking for somewhere to set down the flowers, but every inch of tabletop in the room is covered. Ratner slips into the room behind him.
“And you have,” Carter assures Gray.
“Silly. Don’t give up on Silly. She’s a good girl. Maybe I just made life too much for her. All that attention too early. I should have never let her mother do that to her.”
“Still love her. You know I do,” Carter says.
“So many wolves. Just tried to keep them away from the wolves.”
“I know,” Carter says.
Ratner removes a larger and more tasteful set of flowers from a table to make room for those RJ is holding.
“Especially Stew. Wires got crossed somewhere with that one in the womb. The world ain’t kind to those who can’t think on their feet. Tried so hard to protect that one. And you have done this for me. I hope you can continue to keep an eye on him for me.”
Carter grasps Gray’s hand.
“You have my word.”
Gray is fading.
“So many wolves. Just tried to keep them away from the wolves.”
Ratner’s wife is now standing next to him, impatiently. She is holding RJ’s flowers.
RJ drives down a highway at dusk in his Jeep. He passes the massive crevice in the desert off in the distance, eventually pulling into a depressed strip mall seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It is on the opposite side of the highway from the area of desert marked for development. He parks in front of a small pet store: The Desert Pet.
Nate, a high school kid, is at the register when RJ comes in.
“What’s up, Nate?”
“Kinda always the same,” Nate says. “Your mom’s in the back.”
“I’ll wait out here,” RJ says.
RJ pokes around the store. It looks more like a rescue operation than a viable business. Mrs. J, RJ’s mom, eventually comes out with a woman about the same age, Candy.
“Candy, this is my son Ray. Just drove out for the night from Malibu.”
“Nice to meet you,” RJ says.
“OK, Candy. So we’ll touch base same time next week. We’re getting that home business started!”
“I’m ready to roll!” Candy says. “Bye, guys.” She shakes her ass at RJ while walking out the door.
“There goes a live one,” Mrs. J says.
She sets her folder full of vitamin brochures down on the front counter. RJ’s face suggests the material is a source of unspoken tension between them.
“Nate, I think we can close up on our own if you’d like to cut out early.”
“Yeah, OK, Mrs. J. Thanks.”
“Thanks, Nate. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Later, Nate,” RJ says.
“See ya,” Nate says, and leaves.
“How’s business?” RJ asks his mom.
“We’ll be OK,” she says.
“Help with anything?”
Mrs. J looks around the store. “You can help me with the new rabbit.”
“OK. What else?”
“Start with the rabbit,” she says. “And be careful of its foot.”
RJ removes a desert jackrabbit from its dirty cage and places it in an empty one. The rabbit has a bandage around one of its feet. He changes the newspaper lining the dirty cage and replaces the food and water. He’s clearly done it before. Mrs. J counts the money and receipts in the register. It’s not much. RJ tries not to notice. He looks around the rest of the store. He sees a box of more vitamin stuff stacked against a wall. There is a BestDirect logo on the side of the box.
Carter sits at his kitchen table staring at a BestDirect brochure on the table. It’s like he’s afraid to touch it. The kitchen is a mess with take-out empties scattered about and dirty dishes backed up in the sink.
Silly and Damien are at Gray’s bedside. Gray’s eyes are open, but he appears oblivious to his surroundings.
“Think he knows we’re here?” Silly wonders.
“We always know when love is near,” Damien says.
The loud whine of a power saw accompanies Stew working alone in his woodshop. He is cutting large pieces of wood down to size for his racquets. The photo of Stew at the French Open is sprinkled over with sawdust.
Dina replaces the water in a vase of flowers next to a large picture of Gray in the pro shop. She’s singing to some gangsta rap song on her phone and trying her best to be ghetto. She changes out of her tennis clothes into jeans and a T-shirt. She straightens a few more things, including setting a freshly strung wood racquet on Stew’s desk. She turns around to head for the door. Her T-shirt reads: I MAKE MY OWN MONEY. She turns off the lights and leaves.
Silly enters The Golden Group Corporate Tower.
Ratner is inside concluding a meeting with the two associates who celebrated the project just days earlier at Gray’s house. A scale model of the development sits on the table.
“This project was conceived by one man, but has been the work of many. We will continue as planned while I take care of the necessary Golden Group restructuring to ensure we break ground on schedule.”
Silly steps into an elevator in the lobby.
Ratner leads his associates out of the conference room and down the hall.
Silly is finally escorted into the office by a secretary. She takes a seat in front of her father’s desk. Ratner comes in a second later.
“Good morning, Silly.”
“Got any green tea?”
“Somebody back there probably drinks the stuff. Milk and sugar?”
“It’s green for a reason, Burt.”
The secretary, having registered the request, is already out the door in search of Silly’s tea.
“Right,” Ratner says. “So how are you holding up?”
“The doctors won’t tell me anything,” Silly says.
“I don’t know that anything significant has changed.”
“He could talk the first day they brought him in. Now he’s a vegetable. I’d call that significant.”
Ratner concedes the point with a sad nod. “It’s complicated.”
“Is Daddy brain dead or not?”
“We believe there is a chance he can recover.”
“He would never want to live like this.”
“Until the experts tell us otherwise, we believe it is in the best interest of your father and all that he has built to—
“Daddy is all that matters.”
“Silly, there are other things to consider. It’s too soon to talk of removing life support. Doing so could look bad for everyone involved.”
“Who’s everyone?” Silly says.
“Silly, you do not want to look like you and your brother are in a hurry to inherit your father’s estate.”
“Do you believe that, Burt?”
“Of course not.”
“Then why are you worried that others might?”
“It’s my job to worry on your father’s behalf.”
The secretary brings Silly her tea. She takes a sip.
“Is it OK?” Ratner asks.
“It’s green tea.”
Silly takes another sip. Ratner moves behind Gray’s desk and sits in his chair.
“And how is it that you seem to be the one in charge here, Burt?”
“Silly, as I think you know, I’ve been corporate counsel for The Golden Group from its incept—
“I’m not talking about the company.”
“What exactly are you talking about?” Ratner asks.
“I’m talking about his medical condition. I’m talking about decisions that are being made. I’m his next of kin and no one is telling me anything.”
“I’m just trying to keep the company on sound footing while the doctors decide how best to treat your father.”
“I don’t care about the company.”
“I understand that, Silly. But your father would expect nothing less from me, and it would be a disservice not to tend to business.”
Silly removes her teabag and places it in her napkin.
“Now, since we are talking about the business, let me explain why I asked you to come in,” Ratner says.
“I called you, Burt. To talk about daddy’s condition. Not the business.”
Ratner pauses, trying to figure out where to go with Silly.
“Right. Well, as we’ve already discussed, it’s too early to say anything definitive about his condition. One, thing, however, is clear. And that is your father has entrusted with me specific instructions about seeing that his children’s interests are protected in the event that something happens to him.”
“I didn’t come here to talk about his will either.”
“Of course not, but like most smart individuals in our day and age your father also put forth a set of instructions should a situation arise such as this, where he becomes incapacitated.”
“Speak English, Burt.”
“Silly, you know how proud your father has been with the way you’ve recently turned your life around.“
“He’s been generally supportive, aside from Damien.”
Ratner senses an opening.
“Well, I think you may be surprised at his recent change of heart there,” he says.
“Daddy called him a faggot yoga teacher.”
“Men of our generation can sometimes be slow to come around.”
“Around to what? He called him a faggot.”
Ratner shakes his head.
“Silly, a lot of people know how to give folks what they want. Your father’s greatest gift has always been knowing what they WILL want before they do.”
“I WANT to know what the doctors are telling you.”
Ratner has found his groove.
“Americans have spent the last few decades finding infinite ways to numb themselves. Detach from reality. Entertainment, drugs, whatever. And guess what, Silly, as you know too well, it didn’t work. Your father believed, I’m sorry, believes, partly by watching you, that people want to open their eyes and start seeing things the way they really are, imperfections and all. Damien, from what he could tell, is in the business of such things, and he envisioned a place for him in this organization.”
Like all great pitchmen, Ratner is starting to believe his own story.
“People want to feel things again, Silly. Take risks. They are tired of living behind gated walls and hiring private security. People crave authenticity.”
Ratner gets up from his seat behind Gray’s desk and moves back toward Silly.
Silly looks at him like he’s crazy.
“What are we talking about here, Burt?”
“Freedom, Silly. Not more protection. Freedom inside and out. Your father saw it coming first. We owe it to him to follow through.”
Carter sits next to Cohen at a long table in the BestDirect Media Center. A sexy assistant, Trish, prepares a huge flatscreen TV on the wall for a presentation.
Carter turns to Cohen to whisper something under his breath.
“I’m not Jack.”
Trish overhears him so Cohen feigns a cough.
“I think I will take that coffee if you don’t mind.”
Trish gets up, leaving just Carter and Cohen.
A BestDirect logo lights up the TV.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“I’m not!” Carter says.
“Of course you’re not. Now shut the fuck up and listen to what everyone has to say.”
“Don’t do this to me.”
“Do what? Make you enough money so you don’t have to babysit that slow learner for a living?” Cohen is genuinely pissed. “Save this Sideways shit for the ride home while I handle these assholes.”
Trish comes back in carrying two coffees. Another assistant tails behind her carrying two BestDirect totebags stuffed with promotional brochures.
“I’m super sorry to report that Brad just called from The Lab and is afraid he won’t be able to make it in to The Media Center this morning. He would like to reschedule for later this week.”
Carter breathes a sigh of relief. Cohen is even more pissed but offers up a fake agent smile.
“Later with Brad would be fantastic. Carter can educate himself even further about the company in the meantime.”
Cohen takes both coffees and shoves the tote bags across the table to Carter.
Stew is using one of his wood racquets to feed balls to Ratner. Ratner is totally uninterested in the tennis. He’s only using the lesson as an excuse to talk with Stew in a friendly setting. Stew’s focus on making sure he feeds Ratner every ball perfectly is touching, but Ratner is too busy talking to appreciate it.
“We still don’t know what is going to happen with your father, Stew, but I’d like to share with you a conversation we had just prior to his falling ill.”
Stew keeps feeding the balls.
“Now do not mistake me in hearing me say that we believe your talents have not been fully utilized here. It is through no fault of your own. I think your father was just too busy to see that you are up to the challenge of fully exercising the responsibilities that go with your title of Tennis Director.”
Stew lets the next ball drop without feeding it.
“Director of Tennis.”
Stew feeds the next ball. Ratner catches it and approaches the net. Stew walks up to the net from the other side.
Carter is sitting on the floor in his living room surrounded by BestDirect brochures, DVDs, and supplement samples that came from inside his tote bag.
Carter’s apartment looks like he just moved in.
He reaches for a glossy one-sheet for a new product called CannonPlus.
Only the hum of machines is keeping Gray alive. His doctor walks in tailed by three medical students.
“Classic vegetative state brought on by a blow to the head resulting from a minor stroke. It was not the stroke itself that lead to the vegetative state, but the trauma of the fall.”
The doctor moves a penlight in front of Gray’s eyes.
“As you can see, he appears responsive to stimuli, but the patterns are actually random upon closer examination. He simply has no awareness of his surroundings.”
“Chances of recovery?” one of the med students asks.
“None. Unless you believe in miracles,” the doctor says. “I don’t practice those, but I’m not in the business of abandoning hope either. The best we can do is provide the family with as much information as possible and leave decisions of this nature to them.”
Ratner is in a hard hat looking through a survey camera at the development site. Damien and Silly are standing a few feet away in matching hard hats.
“Damien, how about you first?”
“Sylvie first,” Damien says.
“By all means,” Ratner says, reaching his hand out for Silly to join him.
Silly walks over to Ratner. He shows her how to look through the camera. It takes her a few attempts to figure out how to do it right. Once she does, she is absolutely blown away. She pulls her head up like she’s had an epiphany and then looks through the camera again.
Damien then takes a turn looking through the camera, and sees Silly dangerously close to the edge of the crevice. Cathartic tears of joy are running down her face.
RJ is working out against two other pros. They are pushing him hard, but RJ’s superior talent shines through.
Carter and Stew watch from the side of the court.
“Your dad has a good feeling about him,” Carter says. “Tough kid who caught a bad break. Thinks it has made him even more hungry to win.”
“What about his wrist?” Stew says.
“He knows he has to play with the pain this time. No more drugs to fight it or he’s done.”
Silly sits in the middle of an AA circle.
“It was like I just looked over the edge into the abyss and all that my life has ever been was beneath me. Damien kept saying how he couldn’t even see the bottom and that we better not get too close to the edge, but I wasn’t afraid of getting too close because I could see it. I knew where the bottom was. There is nothing to fear from the bottom when you’ve already been there. He grabbed my arm to pull me away from the edge, but I suddenly felt so strong that I pulled him towards me instead and we stood there together looking into the giant scar in the land, and I told him I loved him and that this is where our future begins.”
“That is so amazing, Silly,” a group member says.
“Awesome, Silly. What did Damien say?” another asks.
“He said he loved me, too, and that’s why he wanted to pull me away from edge because he was afraid I would fall, and he didn’t want to lose me down there.”
Silly is beaming.
Damien is in a private session with an extremely buff woman in her early forties. He demonstrates a headstand. Then he sets her up in one just like it, spotting her carefully. Once she seems to have found her balance, he lets go of her legs and her neck snaps.
She dies instantly.
Carter and Cohen are in a meeting with the CEO of BestDirect, Brad Cannon.
“I believe, Brad,” Cohen says, “that you already are aware of Carter being a former Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champion, but he was also ranked as high as 62 on the ATP Tour as a singles player.”
Carter smiles, as if resigned to his fate.
“We sponsor the pro event out at Indian Wells every spring and let me tell you it’s a week-long pussy farm,” Cannon says. “You must have busted one big global nut out there on the tour.”
Cohen knows he’s just landed Carter a deal.
“Carter can tell you some insane groupie stories, Brad. Makes Hollywood look like a junior high circle jerk.”
“Had to shit-can our last spokesman when he suggested on satellite radio that folks would be well served by drinking their own urine for its powerful antioxidant effects.”
“Could see how that might be a problem, Brad,” Cohen says.
“Said they’d be even better off drinking his,” Cannon says.
“Don’t think Carter will be pissing down anyone’s throat.”
“Listen,” Cannon continues. “I got nothing against fun and games my new friends, but we have to be very careful about bogus health claims.”
Cohen nods. “Understood.”
“Piss and shit on who ever you want in private, just don’t say it will cure cancer if you’re working for me.”
Damien pisses nervously by the side of his Prius. He keeps shaking his cock, only to piss a little more and then repeat himself until he’s finally done. He pops the rear hatch and lifts out the body rolled up in yoga mats. He carries it to the edge of the crevice and tries to unroll it so only the body will disappear to the bottom.
Damien looks up at the full moon after he pushes the body over the crevice.
Silly is bathed in the moonlight as she dives into her pool naked and does a full lap underwater without coming up for air. When she does surface, her chocolate lab is waiting for her poolside and gives her a big sloppy kiss on the mouth.
The moon is high as RJ is feeding himself lobs up in the air and then running over to the other side of the net to practice overheads. It’s an advanced drill only a professional player could pull off. Dina watches him without his knowing it, while she sneaks a few hits off a joint. She is moved by his focus and determination.
Silly is making green tea in her kitchen when Damien comes in after just waking up.
“Everything OK, baby?” she says. “I never get up before you.”
“Had a dream I couldn’t let go of,” Damien kisses Silly on the top of her head.
“I love those,” Silly says.
Cannon is yelling into the phone.
“What part of she’s missing don’t you understand?”
He starts pacing.
“She’s my wife and she didn’t come home last night.”
He continues to pace, listening impatiently.
“Fine. You do that. You send someone to the house. But be discrete.”
Cannon pounds the phone down on his desk and kicks over his waste can.
“Fucking idiot cops!”
He barks at his assistant in the hall. “Trish, call my car!”
Cannon pulls up to his Malibu McMansion in his chauffeured car. He yells at a servant as he walks through the kitchen.
“Can you make some coffee and donuts or something?”
An unmarked car pulls into the driveway with two sheriff’s detective insides, Miller and Cox. They get out and approach the front door.
Cannon, Miller, and Cox are sitting down at a table back by the pool, which is closer to a faux lagoon with waterfall. The backyard, like the rest of the house, is grossly over-designed and tasteless.
“Ada! Coffee and something to eat!” Cannon yells. He turns back to Miller and Cox. “Her schedule? Pilates. The Gym. Yoga. Back to the gym? I don’t know her schedule.”
“When was the last time you saw your wife, Mr. Cannon?” Miller asks.
“Like I said on the phone,” Cannon says. “I left for the office around eight yesterday.”
“And did you speak with her after that?” Miller says.
“Didn’t I say no on the phone?”
“It wasn’t us you to spoke to, sir,” Cox says.
“Don’t you people talk to each other?” Cannon says.
“Who might know her schedule yesterday?” Miller says.
“Can you think of anyone that might want to cause your wife harm, Mr. Cannon?” Cox says.
“Cause her harm?”
“Or yourself?” Cox says.
“Personally, or perhaps professionally?” Miller says.
Ada, the servant, comes out with a tray of coffee and sweets.
“The officers would like to ask you a few questions about Ginger’s schedule. What her day might have been like yesterday?”
“How about you let us ask the questions, if you don’t mind?” Miller says.
Miller and Cox don’t like Cannon’s controlling attitude, especially the way he treats the help.
“Let’s stay with you for a second, Mr. Cannon,” Cox says. “Someone who might want to cause you harm?”
Cannon snaps his fingers at Ada to pour him a coffee.
RJ sits on the couch covered in sweat with an icebag on his taped wrist. He looks angry. Dina is closing out the register. She stuffs a few more bills in her panties. RJ pretends not to notice again by working his wrist around in a circle to deal with the pain.
“Is it serious?” Dina says.
“It’s just sore.”
“Need some more ice?”
“I’m almost done.”
“Every time you play you have to do that?”
“It’s getting better,” RJ says.
“Maybe you’re just getting used to the pain?”
RJ ignores her.
Dina pushes the register shut. “You get used to it.”
Carter and Cohen check in at the registration table in a hotel lobby. A big sign above the table reads: WELCOME BESTDIRECT PARTNERS! Each receives a name tag and the same tote bag they received earlier at the BestDirect office.
Dozens of BestDirect partners are carrying their tote bags, sporting their name tags, and schmoozing with each other, as Carter and Cohen make their way down the hall into a larger ballroom. There is a buffet lining one of the room’s walls. The others are filled with promotional posters mixed in with other corporate goodies. A large screen behind the stage in the front of the room displays the BestDirect logo.
Carter aimlessly mulls about while Cohen sizes up the room like a pro. Suddenly the background music stops and the lights dim way down.
Cannon prepares to take the stage. Trish checks his headset and gives him a general once over.
“Nothing will be made public until the cops says so,” Cannon says to Trish. “I hear anything before then and you’re fired. Clear?”
“Crystal,” Trish says. “Remember not to step in front of the cannons.”
Cannon walks to the front of the stage to wild applause.
Mrs. J cheers Cannon from in front of the stage as he prepares to speak.
“FIRE!” Cannon shouts.
One of several fake cannons on the stage shoots fake dollars like confetti throughout the room.
Another cannon. Same result.
Carter, dollars in his hair, turns to Cohen in despair.
“Brad fucking owns these people,” Cohen says, in awe.
“Record sales! Record growth! And our first new product to bear my name!” Cannon continues.
Another cannon. Same result.
Everyone applauds again, including Carter and Cohen. Cannon acknowledges them both by pointing at them from the stage like a politician.
“This can’t be happening to me,” Carter mumbles to himself.
A video begins to roll on the screen behind Cannon: A bald eagle spreads its wings above Old Faithful in Yellowstone.
“Freedom!” Cannon says.
Old Faithful erupts as the eagle soars through the mist.
“Freedom!” the crowd cheers.
“Freedom to be your BEST!” Cannon shouts.
“BEST!” the crowd roars.
“But let me ask you, partners. Let me ask you to ask yourselves: What is your best? What would it mean to truly be your best? Think about that for a second and DO NOT mistake doing your best from being your best. DO NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE!”
Cannon pauses for optimal effect.
“Doing your best is NOT being your best!”
“Gentleman: trying your hardest is NOT being your hardest. Ladies: trying to let go is NOT letting yourself go. “
Cohen is hypnotized. Carter horrified.
“Not everything is relative, friends. Not everything is about costs and benefits, pluses and minuses, safety and side effects – NO! Say it!”
“NO!” the crowd erupts.
“Moderation?” Cannon teases them.
“NO!” the crowd says.
“Of course not,” Cannon says, shaking his head. “There is no freedom in moderation. We know that. Being your BEST is an absolute. Say it!”
The video in the background now displays a phallic red bottle of CannonPlus.
“BestDirect Partners: Prepare for CannonPlus!”
Three more cannons go off. Fake dollars pour out into the ballroom from the stage like a blizzard.
Miller and Cox enter Damien’s studio. There is a gorgeous receptionist at the desk.
“Mr. Damien please?” Miller says. “And does he have a first name for our records?”
“Damien,” the receptionist says.
“Damien is his first name. OK then, last name?”
“His name is just Damien.”
“Damien Damien?” Miller says.
“Is he here?” Cox asks.
“He prefers not to be interrupted during his private practice,” the receptionist explains.
Cox flashes her his badge.
The receptionist interrupts Damien practicing yoga by himself. The room is an oven and he’s dripping wet. Damien closes his eyes, as she whispers to him that the cops are outside. He’s terrified, but continues to hold his pose. Sweat falls off his forehead on to his yoga mat.
Damien is sitting Indian style on the floor with no shirt on. Miller and Cox are stretched out on the floor a few feet away from him. Both are already sweating profusely.
“Don’t you have any chairs?” Cox says.
“We have nothing here that is not essential to yoga practice.”
Miller and Cox look at each other.
“Mr. Damien,” Miller says. “Can you describe your relationship with Ginger Cannon?”
“She’s a student.”
“Is that all?” Miller says
“Can you tell us the last time you saw her?”
“Is there a problem?”
“How about you just try to remember for us?” Miller says.
“She’s here often,” Damien says. “I believe she was in the other day. You can check at the desk to confirm.”
“When do YOU think she was last here?” Miller says.
“I don’t think yesterday, but I believe the day before.”
“So you are saying you last saw her here two days ago?”
“I believe I did, yes.”
“Did she seem out of the ordinary?”
“In what way?” Damien asks.
“In any way?” Miller says.
“Nothing out of the ordinary.”
Cox is dying in the heat and signals to Miller he’s had enough.
“And you’re not sure of the time?” Miller says.
“We can check in the front if you’d like.”
“Why don’t we do that.”
Damien sits up from the floor without using his hands. Both Miller and Cox struggle to get back on their feet.
Miller and Cox leave the building like they just stepped out of hell itself. They walk across the street to a trendy gym where they are parked.
“Hit the AC,” Cox says.
Miller starts the car and cranks the air conditioning.
“Why leave her car here in the lot?” Miller says.
“Another question for that asshole husband,” Cox says.
Both men continue to sweat heavily as they squeal out of the parking lot.
Mrs. J leads a meeting of her BestDirect sales force at The Desert Pet. Seven people are sitting in fold-out chairs. Puppies are yapping in the background.
“This is the first product from BestDirect that Brad Cannon has personally put his name on. Brad believes in the product that much,” she says.
“I want to try it!” Candy says.
“As soon as it ships, Candy. Just be careful not to make any anecdotal claims as part of your sales presentations. BestDirect has built its reputation on proven clinical results, and we don’t want to stray from what works.”
Carlos, an off duty cop, nods obediently.
“When can we expect it?” he asks. “My people are already placing orders.”
“Mine too,” Mrs. J says. “It’s crazy. You all know I’ve been with BestDirect from the beginning, but I’ve never felt buzz like this. PainAWAY was huge out of the gate and remains a strong seller. CannonPlus, though, is going to take us all to another level. Word is getting out, despite no free samples. Brad couldn’t give us an exact ship date yet, but he said they are putting everything they have behind CannonPlus in terms of partner support. I think he knows how big this is going to be and wants to make sure everyone is ready to take full advantage of this amazing opportunity. “
“I’m freaking out!” Candy says.
“I know! It’s so great!” another team member says.
“It’s exciting, people,” Mrs. J says. “We just all need to be ready.”
Carter is preparing for his first CannonPlus shoot on an infomercial set. Security is tight. A box with the BestDirect logo is brought in by two rent-a-cops. Cannon is right behind them with a porn star wearing street clothes, Pony Jones. He directs the rent-a-cops to a roped off area he has designated for them to guard the product.
“If even a single tablet escapes this studio you will be hunted down and shot,” Cannon announces to all.
Cohen talks with Trish while Carter has his make-up done.
“I love all this top secret stuff.”
“Brad’s not kidding,” Trish says.
Cohen turns around to check on Carter.
“How we doing?”
“Nobody said anything about a co-host?” Carter says.
They look at Pony Jones across the room with Cannon.
“The product is aimed at both sexes,” Cohen says. “That’s the genius here.”
“She looks like a stripper. And what is this set? What the fuck is going on here?”
They look around the set. There’s a black leather couch, a white fur rug on the floor, a stereo cabinet, and unlit candles everywhere.
“That’s Pony Jones,” Cohen says.
“You’ve never heard of Pony Jones?” Cohen can’t believe it.
“What the fuck?”
“Google her, bro.”
Cohen can’t stop looking at Cannon and Pony Jones.
“Brad. Hey, Brad.”
Cohen scoots over to Cannon and shakes hands. Cannon introduces Cohen to Pony Jones. Carter sees all this and starts to panic. He tries to get out of his chair, but the make-up guy isn’t finished yet. He pushes down on Carter’s shoulder to keep him still
“Hold on, sugar. Almost done.”
“Fantastic, Brad,” Cohen says to Cannon. “Carter wants to thank you again for the opportunity.”
Cohen grabs Pony’s hand.
“How about our two stars say hello.”
“Absolutely not,” Cannon says.
“What’s that, Brad?”
“Thirty minutes after ingestion and only once the cameras are rolling.”
Carter sits in his chair. Trish brings over a dish with a single pill on it and a paper cup of water.
“Ready, Carter? This is really special.”
“What is that?” Carter asks.
“Brad’s worked so hard to get here.”
Silly is looking over the model of the desert development. Damien and Ratner study it as well.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Ratner says.
“I love the way it’s so broken,” Silly says.
Damien is leaning over the table like he’s looking down into the crevice even though it’s just a model.
“It feels like kind of a wasteland,” he says.
“It feels like me,” Silly says.
Ratner lets her comment hang there. He pays careful attention to the dynamic between Silly and Damien.
“Authenticity, Damien,” Ratner says. “Silly and I spoke of it before. It’s everything we are trying to achieve here.”
“It’s interesting, baby. It seems so different from anything Daddy has done before,” Silly says.
Damien is still looking down into the crevice.
“It’s not for everyone,” Ratner says. “Originality never is. And that’s OK. Mr. Golden’s instincts here have drawn us to you. We don’t know precisely in what capacity yet. It’s just a hunch, if you will. He seemed to think you already inhabited the type of authentic aesthetic we are after here. Is it mere coincidence that Silly immediately connected with the land so strongly where she’s never taken interest in our work before? An accident? We don’t believe in accidents in our quest for creating value. And I suspect neither do you.”
Damien looks up at Ratner. “What exactly are you asking me?”
“I don’t know yet, Damien. Sometimes greatness is born by just putting the right people in the room.”
Stew meets with a sales rep from Wilson at his desk. Dina is busy removing some racquets from their racks behind the front desk. All the racquets they sell are from Wilson. RJ sits on the couch re-gripping a couple of his Wilson racquets and listening to his iPod. Dina and RJ are paying no attention to Stew’s meeting.
“Where’s Carter?” the Wilson rep asks.
“Carter is not here,” Stew says.
The rep seems confused, but rolls with it. He’s a salesman.
“Can I say again that everyone at Wilson was very sorry to hear about your father. He’s been a great friend to tennis for a long time in this area.”
Stew doesn’t respond, so the rep starts to pull some new frames out of his bag. He’s not sure how to handle Stew since he’s never dealt with him directly.
Stew stands up to signal the meeting is over.
Cohen is on the bike reading the trades, when he hears a piece on TV about Cannon’s missing wife. He stops reading and looks up at the TV.
“The wife of Vitamin King, Brad Cannon, Founder and CEO of BestDirect, has been reported missing. Ginger Cannon, 41, was last seen attending a yoga class in Malibu Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say it is too early to attribute her disappearance to foul play and are merely asking the public to report any information that may help locate her.”
Cohen calls his assistant on his cell.
“Get me Brad Cannon at BestDirect.”
Cohen waits and keeps spinning. His cell beeps.
“Yeah. OK. Put her through.” Cohen waits, then: “This is Brad Cohen at CMA calling for Brad.”
Trish is on the other end of the phone.
“Hi, Brad. Brad’s not here.”
“Listen, I just heard and I know he must be overwhelmed. But can you tell Brad I think I can help. It’s important we speak right away.”
“OK, Brad. I’ll tell Brad it’s urgent. “
“Tell Brad I can help. I’ll wait for his call.”
“Give my best to Brad.”
“Brad will appreciate that, Brad.”
RJ, Carter, and two other pros are dinking volleys back and forth, each using one of Stew’s wood racquets. No one is letting the ball hit the ground.
“I’m not teaching with this two-by-four,” RJ says. “Not a chance.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Carter says.
“He’s like that nut in North Korea after pops left him the keys to the kingdom,” one of the other pros says.
“Think about what he’s going through with Gray. He’s just confused,” Carter says.
RJ is having none of it.
“I’ve got enough problems without worrying about this retard.”
“RJ, if you want this club footing the bill for your return to the tour I wouldn’t antagonize him.”
“You run this place,” RJ says. “What are you talking about?”
“Look, guys, officially he’s always been in charge. The only difference now is I can’t make a call to Gray when necessary. It’s Stew’s club on paper. The old man built it for him before I got here.”
“Fuck me,” RJ says. He throws the wood racquet into the net and storms off the court. Carter and the other two pros keep volleying back and forth without him. The ball has yet to hit the ground.
“Roid rage,” the second pro says.
“Hope not,” Carter says.
“You think he’s clean?” the same pro says.
“I think he won’t make the same mistake twice.”
“He told me it wasn’t steroids,” the first pro says.
“Tested positive for steroids,” Carter says.
“Says it was some kind of all-natural thing,” the first pro says.
“All natural dumb ass,” the second pro says, pointing to RJ, who is now hanging from the fence on a nearby court and doing a set of angry wide-armed pull-ups.
Cannon, Cohen, and Joe Rose sit in Cannon’s living room. Rose is a celebrity private investigator from TV.
“How about you just tell me who I have to bribe in this town to find my wife?” Cannon says to Rose.
“If necessary, Brad. But we can do much better that,” Cohen says.
“I’ve got a new product to launch and this isn’t helping.”
“That’s where you could be wrong.”
“Come again?” Cannon says to Cohen.
“So far there is no evidence of a crime, so it’s not unusual they are dragging their feet,” Rose says.
“Joe, not yet. Let me lay it out for him first,” Cohen says.
“Lay what out?” Cannon says.
“Look, Brad, I brought Joe up here to help you find Ginger. It’s what he does. But let’s not miss an opportunity to help him succeed and add value to the BestDirect brand at the same time.”
“What kind of shit you two selling?”
“I’m not here to sell shit, Cannon,” Rose says. “You got that? But you need to understand the longer she stays missing the more likely they are to turn their attention on you.
Cannon knows Rose is right.
“Joe, please,” Cohen says. “Now, Brad, I saw what you did with your people at the Partner’s Meeting. I defer to Joe Rose on all things related to investigative work, but I know talent when I see it. You want to find Ginger, play to your strengths. Joe’s right, the cops probably figure either you killed her or she ran away with the pool boy by now. Don’t surrender to that small thinking. Don’t waste time while others do their best when you can be your best. Be your best, Brad. Let me put you on TV.”
Silly is watching TV in Gray’s room when Carter walks in. Both are surprised to see each other.
“Sorry, Silly. I didn’t know you’d be here.”
Silly has been crying. “It’s OK.”
“Nobody will just say the obvious.”
“Maybe it’s still soon to—
“Look at him, Carter. You think he wants this?”
They both look at Gray helpless in his bed.
“I’m sorry,” Carter says. “I’m so sorry.”
Silly loses it. Carter wants to hold her so bad, but restrains himself. She calms down a little and reaches out to him. He cradles her in his arms as she cries softly into his shoulder.
Silly and Carter are now drinking tea across from one another in the cafeteria. Silly has pulled herself together.
“Stew has started to make some changes at the club,” Carter says. “Says Burt Ratner told him it was OK.”
“Have you forgotten I could give two shits about that place?” Silly says.
“It’s not about the place, it’s about your brother. I know you still give a shit about him. And so do I.”
“Isn’t he busy building a racquet or something?”
“That’s the problem,” Carter says.
Silly sighs. “Carter, it’s always been so hard for him.”
“That’s the only reason I bring it up. I’m worried about him.”
Silly reaches out and touches Carter’s hand. It’s like magic for Carter.
“Whatever went wrong with us, I want to thank you for still taking care of him.”
“Damien’s what went wrong, Silly. It’s no mystery.”
“It’s not that simple,” Silly says.
“It’s painfully simple.”
Silly tears up. “He takes me seriously.”
“I took you seriously,” Carter insists.
“You took how you felt about me seriously. It’s not the same.”
Carter struggles for something to say.
“Try living your life with everyone laughing at you since you were young. See how that feels. You think that’s all I ever wanted to be? Funny little rich girl. Silly the clown from TV.”
Carter can only listen and sip his tea.
“Do you know he’s the first guy to ever call me Sylvie? He said it suited me. He never heard of Silly Golden when he met me and still has never seen the show. It’s like he doesn’t even know what planet we’re on sometimes. Think about how great that is for me. Think about, Sylvie this and Sylvie that. Think about, how are you, Sylvie. Think about, you’re beautiful, Sylvie. Think about, I love you, Sylvie. My mom called me Sylvie, Carter. Think about what music that must be.”
RJ comes in covered with red clay from falling down on the court. He sees a stack of wood racquets waiting for Dina to string as he gets an ice pack.
“He said to string yours first,” Dina says. “Guess that means you’re the best.”
RJ grabs an ice pack from the fridge and presses it against his wrist. He grimaces with pain.
“Somebody should shoot that retard.”
“He’s not that bad.”
“Just shoot him,” RJ says.
“What if your mom abandoned you?”
“It was my old man that split.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t—
“Yeah. I guess you didn’t.”
“But I know the feeling,” Dina says.
RJ looks at the stack of racquets again.
“He’s a fucking retard.”
Carter is hitting with Cohen outside. Cohen is dressed like Nadal again, only his outfit is a different color.
“When do I get paid?” Carter says.
“The first check didn’t clear?”
“I’m talking about PAID! Fuck you money, I think you called it?”
“That’s the spirit.”
“I’m serious.” Carter says.
“As soon as it hits the air,” Cohen says.
“When Brad buys the national time. Still getting his distribution ducks in a row in case this thing totally blows out. This missing wife thing hasn’t helped.”
“Who are these people?” Carter says, disgusted.
“Brad Cannon is going to make you rich. That’s who they are.”
Cohen sees one of Stew’s wood racquets in Carter’s bag.
“What’s that thing?”
“Is that fucking wood?” Cohen says.
“Mr. Wood. That’s me.”
Cohen busts out laughing.
“Bro, that’s some funny shit right there. What you just said.”
“Mr. Wood. I fucking love that.” Cohen almost keels over. “Carter King. Mr. Wood.”
Carter doesn’t find it so amusing.
“You wanna hear something else funny?” he says.
“Can’t be better than Mr. Wood.”
Carter pulls a phallic red pill bottle out of his racquet bag.
“Now that’s fucking funny.”
Cohen’s not laughing. In fact, he looks fearful.
“And you know what else? The shit actually works.”
“You can’t have that,” Cohen says.
“Tell your buddy, Brad, I’m going to need some more.”
Rose and a production guy wire up a hidden camera under Rose’s shirt in Rose’s production van. The production guy then shoots Rose walking across the street from the gym where the van is parked next to Damien’s yoga studio.
Rose now sits on a yoga mat across from Damien. He’s sweating even worse than Miller and Cox before him. He looks ill.
“You’re asking me the same questions,” Damien says. “I’m giving you the same answers.”
“Don’t play me Damien. DO NOT play me.”
“I don’t understand,” Damien says.
“Most cops couldn’t find their own dicks in the dark. I don’t care what you told the cops. You feel me?” Rose says.
“I can show you the book. She was here at 3:00 p.m.”
“She sign in?”
“We don’t have people sign anything.”
“So why show me the book? That doesn’t help me. How do you think that helps me find Ginger Cannon?”
“It shows she was here,” Damien says.
“You already said she was here. You saying I shouldn’t believe you? You saying your word is not enough? See, yogi man. You cannot play me that way.”
Rose is sweating so much he’s starting to get dizzy. He’s not making any sense.
“Can I get you some water?”
“Think water’s gonna help you play me?” Rose says.
“I’m going to get you some water.”
Rose passes out.
Damien hurries into the reception area to get some bottled water.
“Can you bring in some cold towels and the mister?”
The receptionist is now applying cold towels to Rose’s neck and forehead.
“What happened?” Rose asks.
“The heat takes getting used to,’ Damien says.
“Where am I?”
“We’ve already called you a car.”
The receptionist mists Rose in the face with a spray bottle.
Stew is wearing a mask over his mouth and spray-painting one of his wood racquets bright gold.
RJ is stopped at a light, waiting to turn into the strip mall. He sees that a California Highway Patrol car is parked in front of The Desert Pet.
Mrs. J is drinking coffee with Carlos, the off-duty cop from her BestDirect sales meeting. Carlos and Mrs. J walk out to his car. He hands his mug to her and then opens the door.
“Thanks, Carlos. Be safe,” Mrs. J says.
“You take care now.”
Carlos pulls out of the strip mall just as RJ pulls in.
RJ walks in and sees a Rottweiler cowering in a cage in the corner. Mrs. J is preparing a bowl of food.
“What’s going on?”
“They are such wonderful animals,” Mrs. J says. “It’s the monsters that do this to them that should be put to sleep.”
“He brought that to you? The cop?”
“He does what he can.”
“Is that legal?” RJ asks.
“Carlos is an angel.”
Mrs. J takes the food over to the cage and slides it in. The Rottweiler is too afraid to eat.
“Is he OK?” RJ says.
“She’ll be fine.”
Mrs. J carefully rubs the Rottweiler through the cage.
“Nate comes in on the weekends.”
“So it’s just you now?”
The Rottweiler eases up and starts to eat. Mrs. J continues to pet her.
“We’ll find you a good home,” she says.
A gorgeous sun sets over the ocean.
Silly and Damien walk hand-in-hand along the beach. Silly’s Lab trails behind them with a stick in his mouth. The Lab gets in front of them and drops his stick. Damien and Silly then split apart and toss the stick back and forth playing keep away. They move farther apart, making the Lab run even more. As the sun is about to disappear behind the ocean, Damien turns and throws the stick out into the waves. The Lab and Silly just stop and stare at him instead of the stick.
RJ’s Jeep is parked next to an old pickup truck in front of a double-wide trailer. He is inside and stares at the rescued Rottweiler in her cage. He is sitting at his mother’s kitchen table while she cooks dinner.
“I know there’s no one out there who’s worked harder than you,” Mrs. J says.
“A lost year is hard to make up for.”
“You’re nineteen, honey. You’ll be fine.”
“I’m not fine, Mom. It’s not fine!”
Mrs. J keeps cooking, her back to him.
“I’ve lost too many points,” RJ says. “I’ve lost too much time.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know how many ways to say it.”
“It’s not your fault, but don’t pretend it didn’t cost me.”
“All I tried to do was help. And it did help. And that’s why it’s so unfair.”
Mrs. J slams an empty pan into the sink and starts to cry. RJ’s face softens, showing just how much he loves his mother.
“When has anything for us been fair?” RJ says.
Ratner and two associates are showing a politician the development site. It’s clear the politician is being bribed.
“We simply know more than we did fifty years ago when these laws were put on the books,” Ratner says.
The politician is skeptical. “What is the current condition of Mr. Golden? All the press reports I’ve seen indicate he’s on life support.”
“I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you how the press is rarely to be believed,” Ratner says.
The politician is not convinced. “Are you saying he is likely to recover?”
“I’m saying it’s too early to make an accurate judgment either way. Mr. Golden,
as you would expect, is being cared for by a medical team second to none. Until they can speak with certainty to his condition I obviously cannot. It is, therefore, in the interests of Mr. Golden that we move forward as planned. And, may I respectfully suggest, should he ultimately not recover, we at The Golden Group would maintain the same position.”
One of the associates passes the politician a briefcase.
Miller and Cox are nursing drinks as the last few seconds of a commercial play on a TV above the bar. A bottle of PainAWAY and 1-800-THE-BEST scroll across a blue screen.
“Call now and receive a second bottle absolutely free. That’s ABSOLUTELY FREE. 1-800-THE-BEST. Next up: Real Time Crime With Joe Rose.”
Miller glances up at the TV.
“Real time tool, Joe Rose.”
Miller gets the bartenders attention.
“Mitch, two more when you can,” he says.
Mitch, who is helping another customer, acknowledges the request. Miller kills what’s left of his drink.
The graphics and generic lead-in to Real Time Crime With Joe Rose run on the TV above them, which Miller and Cox only half pay attention to.
But then Rose himself appears on TV.
“Brad Cannon, founder and CEO of America’s fastest growing natural supplements company, has always been a man on a mission.” Stock video of Cannon speaking to a group of people with the BestDirect logo on a large screen behind him now appears on the TV. “But that mission has changed.”
Miller and Cox stare at each other.
Cannon now speaks directly into the camera.
“Ginger and I shared a dream and CannonPlus is the realization of everything we set out to accomplish together nine years ago. That Ginger should disappear now, on the eve of our greatest achievement, is simply too much to bear.”
Cannon is then replaced by Rose on the TV: “It is also highly suspicious.”
Back to Cannon: “The authorities have no answers. They were originally receptive to the idea her disappearance could be related to the serious threat BestDirect poses to the pharmaceutical industry, specifically CannonPlus. It’s no secret these people have used every dirty trick available to try to stop us for years, all to no avail. Everyone knows our healthcare system is broken. And BestDirect products like PainAWAY have proven again and again that there is a safe and affordable alternative to the failed mainstream medical complex. Unfortunately, authorities have now turned their attention to less promising directions. I’m afraid it’s an idea just too big for them to take on.”
Rose: “America, Brad Cannon needs your help.”
“I’m going to bury this piece of shit,” Miller says. “I’m going to bury him and shit on his fucking grave.”
Miller gets up in a rage.
“Forget it, Mitch,” Cox says.
Cox throws some cash down on the bar and catches up with Miller, who is already on his way out the door.
Ratner’s wife is watching TV from a chair by the window, uninterested in anything else. Silly, Damien, and Ratner are standing around Gray’s bed with his doctor. The doctor is shining a penlight in Gray’s eyes.
“I know it can seem like that, but unfortunately everything is random.”
Real Time Crime With Joe Rose plays in the background.
Rose: “Ginger Cannon was last seen at an ultra-exclusive yoga studio in Malibu frequented by many celebrities and run by yoga master, Damien.”
Damien suddenly looks up at the TV.
“They are saying my name.”
“It’s just that woman who’s missing,” Silly says.
“They are saying my name up there,” Damien says again.
Damien points to the TV like it is the first time he has ever laid eyes on one. Everyone turns to look at it.
“It’s only the studio they’re talking about, baby, not you,” Silly says. She then turns to Ratner’s wife and the doctor. “Damien has no idea how popular he is. He doesn’t know how famous any of his students are either. That’s a big reason they love him so much. His studio and teachings are everything yoga is supposed to be. Not caring comes natural to him.”
“You know her?” Ratner’s wife asks Damien.
“Pardon?” Damien says.
“The missing woman?” she says again.
“Ginger Cannon,” Silly says to Damien.
“Yes,” Damien says.
“Any dirt?” Ratner’s wife asks.
“Dirt?” Damien says.
“Damien doesn’t gossip,” Silly says.
“Everybody gossips, dear,” Ratner’s wife says.
“He doesn’t know enough about any of his students to gossip. It’s only about the practice, like I said. You’d have to visit the studio to understand.”
“How special,” Ratner’s wife says.
“Authentic, Silly,” Ratner says. “That’s what we’ve been talking about.”
“I think I get it now, Burt,” Silly says. “I didn’t really know where you were coming from before.”
Gray has been rolling his eyes with no one seeming to notice.
Carter and RJ are playing out points. Carter wins a couple in a row with some amazing shots and pumps his fists at RJ.
“Who the fuck are you?” RJ says.
Carter is embarrassed by his sudden outburst of aggression.
“Just kind of feeling it,” he says.
“A lot of pent up energy.”
They play a couple more points, which Carter wins. Then RJ hits a big shot and drops his racquet.
“Maybe we should stop,” Carter says.
RJ is holding his wrist. “God-fucking-dammit!”
Back inside the pro shop, Dina steals some tennis outfits and puts them into her bag.
Damien is in bed watching TV. Silly comes in with tea from the kitchen.
“When did you start watching TV?” Silly says.
“You turned that on?”
“I wanted to know if they had any news about Ginger,” Damien says.
“Missing is all they say.”
“Sounds like she disappeared,” Silly says.
“People don’t just disappear, Sylvie.”
“They do, Damien.”
Damien remains glued to the TV as Silly walks out onto her deck, where she is illuminated like an angel by the sun.
Stew is swinging one of his new wood racquets, freshly painted gold, to test its weight when he accidentally hits the picture from the French Open hanging on his wall. The picture falls to the ground and shatters. Stew drops to his knees and tries to piece it back together.
Silly steps off her deck onto the beach. She stares out into the water.
Stew walks across the grounds from his guesthouse toward the majestic main house.
Silly puts her feet in the water.
Stew enters the house and makes his way through it. He comes to his father’s den and walks inside. A few photos of the desert development remain on a table, but Stew doesn’t pay any attention to them.
Seagulls fly overhead and appear to be circling something washed up on shore far enough away for Silly to not immediately know what it is.
It’s hard to tell if Stew knows what he’s looking for or if he is just searching through his father’s things in general.
Silly watches the seagulls as she walks toward them. It’s like she is being drawn to the object they are circling against her will.
Stew continues searching through his father’s things.
Silly gets closer.
Stew studies the pictures on the cabinet behind his father’s desk. There are none of Stew’s mother.
Silly gets closer as her Lab comes running after her down the beach from the house.
Stew picks up a picture in a gold frame. He carries it away carefully with both hands as he leaves the den.
Silly’s dog has raced in front her and has almost come upon the object.
Cohen and Rose are meeting in Rose’s studio office to review any leads. The office is a monument to Rose’s ego.
Cohen is looking over a printout. He’s not happy.
“It’s all we’ve got,” Rose says.
“I can’t go back to Brad with just the usual psychic bullshit and serial confessors.”
“He killed her. What else do you want?” Rose says.
“We don’t know that.”
“I’m telling you he killed her. It’s what I do.”
Cannon is being questioned by Miller and Cox.
“Hope you got a better lawyer than you do a private investigator,” Miller says.
“I know my fucking rights,” Cannon says.
Damien holds a pose with The Los Angeles Times spread out across his yoga mat. There is a frontpage story about Brad Cannon being considered a suspect, but Damien has moved on to the Entertainment section.
The receptionist pokes her head in.
“Angie’s girl called to apologize and said they won’t bet back from New Orleans until tonight.”
“Did you know Brad on Tuesdays gets twenty million dollars to be in a movie?”
“I know, Damien.”
Ratner and his survey team walk the parking lot studying the strip mall like it will soon be replaced by something better. Mrs. J watches them from inside her store with a snake around her neck.
Carter takes a pill from the CannonPlus bottle while he manically cleans his apartment. Tantric sex music is blasting in the background, and he’s so keyed up it looks like he might molest his vacuum cleaner.
Silly comes out of her closet in a kinky boots get-up holding a blindfold.
Damien is turned around with his head at the foot of the bed staring directly at the TV.
“Let’s play trust me, baby,” Silly says.
Damien doesn’t even look at her.
“Britney used to be a big singer,” he says, amazed.
“I know, Damien.”
“How come people always know, Sylvie?”
Silly drops the blindfold and walks back into her closet.
All the racks behind the front desk are empty. Dina is getting ready to put the first golden racquet on the rack as Stew watches proudly. Carter and two other pros stand behind him. Carter looks like he’s been on a week-long coke bender.
“Congratulations, Stew,” Carter says. “It’s what you’ve been working on. Guys.”
Carter applauds, prompting the other pros to do the same.
Outside, RJ feeds balls to himself and blasts forehands as hard as possible. He has no concern whether his shots go in and appears to be bent on hurting himself.
Carter and the other pros have stepped out of the pro shop and are now watching him.
“Guys.” Carter signals for them to back off and let him talk to RJ.
“What’s up, man?”
RJ ignores him and continues his drill.
“You know, you’re not the only one,” Carter says.
RJ pauses, but then starts going again.
“You think it’s only you?”
“You think you’re that special?”
“I think I keep getting FUCKED!” RJ finally snaps.
He times his “fucked” with the exact contact of a ball he launches into the parking lot.
“Go get it,” Carter says.
“You want their money, then go get it. GO FUCKING GET IT!”
“What are you doing?” RJ says.
“You think you got it so fucking bad, flunking a fucking drug test? That guy in there, he flunked the fucking life test the day he was born,” Carter says.
RJ is instantly ashamed.
“You don’t like his fucking racquet, fine. Neither do I. But don’t feel sorry for yourself. Not here. Now got get that fucking ball!”
RJ sets his racquet down and goes to get it. Carter stands in the middle of the court watching RJ and waiting for him to return. The two other pros discreetly slip away back into the pro shop to escape the scene.
Dina is actually kind of into it now that she’s got a half dozen golden racquets on the wall.
A club member checks out the scene and pats Stew on the shoulder.
“How much?” the member asks.
RJ brings the ball back and drops it in a basket next to Carter.
“Good. Now go in there and congratulate Stew on what he’s accomplished. You don’t have to mean it, but you should mean it. You should shake his hand and fucking mean it. And then one day soon, when you’re back out there making all that money, the first thing you should do is buy yourself a fucking clue.”
Carter walks away from RJ and leaves him standing there alone on the court full of practice balls.
The member has just bought the first golden racquet to hit the market and spirits are high. No one pays any attention to RJ when he walks in. They are not ignoring him on purpose. Rather, they are all genuinely happy for Stew, who is exhibiting a rare smile.
Cannon is kicking chairs over at Cohen in a CMA conference room. It’s just the two of them, but other agency employees can see what’s going on from the hall.
“It’s madness, Brad,” Cohen says.
“There’s no fucking body!” Cannon says.
“What’s Rose think? What about going back on TV?”
“Not after you’ve been named as a suspect. Says it could slow things down.”
“Being some jailbird’s bitch is gonna find my wife any faster?”
“He did his best, Brad,” Cohen says. “I’m not sure what else he can do.”
Cannon kicks another chair at Cohen. Cohen flees for the door.
Mrs. J’s BestDirect sales force is meeting again inside The Desert Pet. There are fewer smiles than last time and two of the previous seven people are missing. Candy is especially downbeat.
“But you said there was so much buzz?”
“There is so much buzz,” Mrs. J assures her.
“Buzz doesn’t pay the mortgage,” another team member says.
“At least you still have a mortgage,” Carlos the cop says.
“People, can we not panic, please, and stay positive. Can we be productive. No one is happy about the delay with CannonPlus, but some things are out of our control.”
“Who thinks Cannon killed his wife?” yet another team member says.
He raises his hand with two others, but Mrs. J quickly shuts the vote down.
“That’s enough, Tom. How does that help? Brad Cannon, like anybody, is innocent until proven guilty. And, if you are gonna bring it up, I find it suspicious that he would be suspected of murdering someone we still don’t even know is dead.”
“She’s got a point,” someone else says.
“Focus people,” Mrs. J says. “PainAWAY is being repackaged and we’ve still got plenty of other good product to work with.”
“I don’t have any pain,” Candy says.
“That’s not the way we work, Candy.”
“People are tired of PainAWAY,” the first team member says.
“Linda’s right,” team member two says.
Mrs. J has heard enough.
“What people, Linda? Tom? Tell me exactly what people you’re talking about.”
Silly sits in the middle of an AA circle.
“The doctors tell me not to mistake his facial expressions for any sort of awareness of what I’m saying, but when I talk to him I know he can hear me. I don’t care what the doctors say. They look at me like I’m just another symptom of a larger problem they can’t solve. Nothing they say makes any sense, but I know he’s listening to me and that he is talking back. I know his eyes are asking me to do something no one else will. I know he hears me. I know he hears me and he loves me and he is telling me I’m becoming stronger everyday. I hear those words, and they do give me strength.”
She stands up, but there is no applause. No one is cheering her on. It doesn’t matter. Silly is defiant, and talking about something altogether different than she has before.
“Those words give me incredible strength, and I promise myself this time I will not let him down.”
Dina pulls the clothes she stole earlier from her bag and puts them back on the rack. RJ walks in and sees her.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“I’m not doing anything.”
Dina continues to hang the clothes back up.
“I’ve seen you, you know,” RJ says.
Dina doesn’t stop. “You haven’t seen anything.”
“I haven’t said anything.”
Dina finishes with the clothes and returns to the front desk. The golden racquets hang on the wall behind her.
“Don’t you need more ice or something?” she says.
“And I wouldn’t say anything.”
They just look at each other.
“Do you want the ice?” Dina says.
“You did a good thing, helping him with the racquets,” RJ says.
She still doesn’t know where RJ is coming from, as he waves off the ice and looks at the stolen clothes back on the rack.
“Maybe you never get used to it,” RJ says.
Ratner’s wife is staring over at Gray with what seems like a lifetime of contempt.
“Look at him there. The great Gray Golden. Everything he touches turns to gold.”
“Is that really necessary?” Ratner says.
“At least neither of his idiot children are here. Look how special they are. No wonder their mother ran away.”
“Enough of what?” she says. “Enough of this family you can’t get enough of? This family you care more about than your own? Why did we ever adopt that little girl, Burt, when you’ve got these two winners to forever worry about? Taking me half way around the world because it was a nice thing to do? Because you wanted to be different? Because you weren’t man enough to give me one of my own?”
“I said stop.”
“Now dragging me here to look at this stiff. Like we didn’t see enough of him when he was alive. Pull the plug already.”
“So you can watch the kids get everything?” Ratner says.
“You couldn’t even fix that right.” Ratner’s wife walks up to Gray’s bed. “OK. You care so much then you should change his bedpan, Burt. Should I check it for you?”
She starts to pull up his sheets.
“What are you doing?” Ratner says.
“How about a sponge bath, Burt? I thought I smelled something funny. Or maybe that’s a bedsore. You know how dangerous those can be if they get infected.”
Ratner grabs his wife and pulls her away from the bed.
“Here lies the great Gray Golden,” she says. “Resting on a bucket of his own shit and lost to the world. And, look at you, Burt. You’re still nothing more than his little lapdog.”
Gray’s eyes settle intensely on Ratner’s wife.
“You’re pathetic,” she says.
A California Highway Patrol Car is parked at the development site. The rescued Rottweiler sniffs around where Damien pissed next to his car before dumping Ginger Cannon over the edge of the crevice. Mrs. J and Carlos take in the site in general. Both understand The Desert Pet is doomed.
“Thanks for filling me in,” Mrs. J says. “The world just keeps getting smaller.”
“I still don’t get it. There’s never been nothing here worth a damn.” Carlos is shaking his head.
“We’ve been here,” Mrs. J says.
The Rottweiler squats and shits in the same spot where she’s been sniffing.
Carter and Cohen are hitting again. Cohen sports yet another Nadal outfit. Carter is playing with a golden racquet and hitting the ball way too hard for Cohen to sustain a rally.
“You’re not Jack, OK,” Cohen says. “We’ve established that. Now give me a chance.”
Carter continues to toy with Cohen and make him look bad.
“You’re starting to piss me off,” Cohen says.
They begin another rally. Carter hits a short ball that lures Cohen to the net and then fires the next shot right at him causing him to duck and cover.
“You know what? Fuck you.”
“Gotta watch the ball, man,” Carter says.
Carter twirls his golden racquet like a gunfighter.
“Are you all right?”
“Mr. Wood has never felt better.”
“C’mon, bro. You still pissed about—
Cohen walks to the side of the court to regroup. Carter joins him.
Cohen takes a sip of water. “That’s what Pony said.”
“What did you say?”
“Pony Jones, bro. She said you’re the best.”
Carter’s eyes narrow and grow cold as Cohen mocks him. Carter grabs his golden racquet with both hands like a baseball bat, but Ratner doesn’t notice before it’s too late.
“Pony couldn’t get enough of Mr. Wood.”
Carter strikes Cohen viciously in the head.
Damien is in bed watching E! He channel surfs when it’s over until he comes to the start of an old rerun of SUPER SCHOOL. When Damien sees it stars Silly Golden as Katie “THE CLOWN” Brown, he leans forward like he’s entered another world.
Carter bludgeons Cohen to death with the golden racquet. Cohen falls down next to his huge Babolat bag near the net pole. Blood pouring from his head soaks into the red clay.
Damien remains mesmerized by the TV.
Silly, twelve, is sitting in a regular classroom when a special bell rings. She is suddenly transformed into Clown and her posse of three other kid super heroes undergo quick transformations into Magic, Speedy, and Brains. They race out of the room together while the rest of the regular kids in the class remain frozen until they return.
Carter is holding his golden racquet and looking down on the body.
Silly pulls into the driveway in her white Porsche.
Damien is still glued in front of the set. Two older boys are pushing a younger boy back and forth in the bathroom when the door flies open and Clown comes in walking like Charlie Chaplin and generally acting stupid. The two older boys burst out laughing so hard they are incapable of bullying the younger boy any further. He safely runs out of the bathroom into the arms of Magic. Damien laughs hysterically as Clown continues her routine.
Carter looks around to make sure know one is watching. He then dumps the contents of Cohen’s bag out on the court.
Silly walks up to the front door.
Carter stuffs Cohen inside the Babolat bag.
Silly steps inside to hear Damien howling along with the laugh track.
Carter puts Cohen’s things in his own racquet bag along with the golden racquet. Both bags are now secure, but there is still the bloodstained clay to deal with.
Silly walks into the bedroom to discover what’s so funny. When she sees what Damien is watching she becomes homicidal.
“It’s so funny!” Damien says. “You’re so funny!”
Silly rushes Damien and starts hitting him.
“Why didn’t you ever show me?”
“Get out! Get out! Get out!”
She hits him several more times, pushes the TV over, and starts ripping the room apart.
Carter sweeps new clay over the bloody area by the net pole.
Damien stands in the driveway near his car watching Silly throw his clothes out the front door.
Carter walks off the court with his racquet bag slung over his shoulder while pulling Cohen’s larger touring bag on airport wheels behind him.
A dog barks against the sound of waves hitting the shore. Five Malibu teens are walking along the beach drinking and smoking pot. They all seem gay, and Dina is among them. She alternates taking a hit off the joint and stopping to make out with the girl next to her. The teens get closer to the dog as the barking gets louder. It is Silly’s Lab, and he appears to have found something.
Silly is passed out with the waves washing over her. The teens run to pull her safely out of the water. One of the teens listens to her chest and nods. The Lab is still barking. The teen looks for some form of ID, but there is nothing. Silly is only wearing a light dress. A second teen tries to calm the Lab and sees that he has a tag with a number hanging from its collar.
“Give me a phone,” she says.
Dina passes the girl her cell. She dials the number on the tag.
Carter sits behind the wheel of his Range Rover in the parking lot. He’s still wearing the same tennis clothes from his beating of Cohen. His cell rings.
Carter runs down the beach as fast as he can. Silly’s Lab runs to him as soon as he sees him coming. The Lab jumps up on him and they run together to the teens circling Silly.
“Carter?” Dina says.
“What are you doing here?” Carter says.
“I live here,” she says. “Who is this?”
“It’s Silly. Help me get her home,” Carter says.
Dina is stunned.
Silly is still out of it, but conscious. Carter picks her up over his shoulder and carries her back to her house. The teens go with him until they get there. The Lab is no longer barking.
Carter turns to Dina in front of the garage door: “The code is 46663 then enter.”
Dina punches in the code and the garage door opens.
The teens stand outside.
“What should we do?” one of them says.
“Don’t say anything,” Carter says. He then asks Dina if she can stay.
Dina follows Carter into the garage. The garage door then comes down as the teens stand in the driveway. They are all stoned and start laughing.
The house is trashed, especially the master suite. Carter carries Silly to her bed with Dina right behind him.
“Can you start a bath?”
Dina goes into the bathroom.
“You’re OK, Silly. You’re OK.”
Carter sees a fifth of Vodka on Silly’s nightstand next to a bottle of sleeping pills. The Vodka is empty but the pill bottle is still full. Silly is shaking cold in her bed. Carter removes her dress and carries her into the bathroom. Dina has the water running and Carter sets her gently into the tub.
“Is she all right?” Dina says. “I didn’t even recognize her out there.”
“We’ve got to warm her up.”
Carter holds her up as the tub fills with water.
“Can you make some coffee or something?”
Dina is now in Silly’s kitchen pouring hot water into a large teapot. Carter comes in looking less concerned.
“I made tea.”
“I’ve put her to bed.”
“She doesn’t need the tea then?”
“I need it.”
Dina pours two cups and brings one to Carter at the kitchen table. She looks around the room.
“What do you think happened?”
“She had a bad night.”
Silly’s Lab comes over to Carter and puts a paw on his lap.
“That’s your dog?” Dina says.
“It used to be ours.”
Carter kneels down and hugs the Lab, letting him kiss his face.
Dina looks off the deck out onto the beach. The group of teens is sitting around a fire in the distance.
“Those your friends?” Carter says.
“You’re not going to say anything are you?”
“What do you think?”
“Thank you, Dina. You’re OK?”
“We’ll keep this quiet. You’ll tell them, too?”
“We can keep a secret, Carter.”
Dina walks down to the beach.
Carter is now sitting on the side of Silly’s bed. She’s barely awake and still not thinking straight. Her Lab jumps up on the bed
“I brought you some tea.”
“You had a bad night, Silly. But you’re better now.”
“I don’t remember.”
Silly fades off again.
“You can remember tomorrow,” Carter says.
Silly’s eyes close. Carter takes note of her sleeping pills on the nightstand again.
“It’ll be better tomorrow.”
Carter exits the house through the garage and beeps the door on his Ranger Rover in the driveway. He pulls open a compartment in the back. His Wilson racquet bag is next to Cohen’s Babolat bag. The Babolat bag is stained in places with blood.
Carter unzips his racquet bag. The golden racquet he killed Cohen with is mixed in with his other racquets. He reaches inside a side pocket then pulls out his bottle of CannonPlus.
Carter is back at Silly’s bedside. She is asleep with her Lab next to her. The Lab has his eyes open and watches Carter remove a pill from his CannonPlus bottle and wash it down with a sip of Silly’s tea. Carter pours out the bottle of Silly’s sleeping pills on her nightstand next to the empty Vodka bottle and replaces them with what’s left of his CannonPlus. He saves a few extra pills of CannonPlus for himself and puts them in the pocket of his sweatpants. He puts Silly’s sleeping pills in the other.
RJ is very close to the net holding a golden racquet. Two pros fire groundstrokes at him from the other side of the court for him to volley. The drill is a direct assault on RJ’s wrist, which seems to be the point. RJ volleys about ten balls in a row and then puts his racquet down to check for pain, spreading his hand out and moving his wrist around in a circle.
“Those volleys are money, dude,” one of the pros says.
RJ clinches his fist and feels no pain.
“I can’t believe it.”
Carter’s Range Rover moves through the desert kicking up tons of dust as it approaches the vast and empty development site. Nearing the crevice, Carter begins to weave through various stakes and markers that have been driven into the ground. Silly sits in the passenger seat, wearing big sunglasses that almost hide her entire face. The windshield is so covered with dust they can barely see through it. Carter kills the engine, but no doors open. They remain inside until Carter finally quietly says something.
“Is this it, Silly?”
Silly doesn’t respond.
“It’s twelve miles all the way to the bottom,” she says.
“That’s a long way down.”
“I’m gonna walk a little on my own.”
“I’ll be here.”
Mrs. J is on the roof of The Desert Pet looking out across the desert through a pair of binoculars. She has a hawk on her shoulder. She sees Silly get out of the Range Rover and zooms in on her walking up to the crevice.
Carter watches Silly from inside the car. It looks like she might jump. He nervously opens his door and gets out.
“I’ve been here before.”
Mrs. J watches Silly pull back from the crevice and start to walk out into the desert alone. Mrs. J stays with her through the binoculars until she is almost out of range. Mrs. J then turns her focus back to Carter. He now stands on the edge of the crevice trying to see what lies below. Mrs. J turns back to Silly who has all but disappeared. She puts her binoculars down and starts to exit the roof.
Carter opens the compartment in the rear of his car where the Babolat bag still is. He struggles to lift it out. When he has it on the ground he steps away to check on Silly. She has become a mere spec out in the desert.
Silly, in fact, has become one with it.
The birds. The lizards. The insects. A jackrabbit pops its head out of a burrow in the ground. It ducks back in to hide when it sees Silly coming.
Carter wheels the bag up to the crevice and then pushes it over the side.
Miller and Cox hover over Cannon in an interrogation room.
“First your wife, and now your agent is missing?” Miller says.
“I don’t have an agent.”
“Whatever he is, Cannon,” Cox says.
Silly is sitting across her father’s desk from Ratner. Ratner looks angry.
“I think we need to talk to Damien about this,” Ratner says.
“That won’t be necessary.”
“We both saw how much you were moved by it.”
“The way it is.”
“There’s nothing out there.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Burt.”
Ratner rubs his eyes.
“I don’t want to fight you on this, Silly.”
“We’re not fighting. I’m fully aware of Daddy’s final wishes.”
“Your father isn’t dead y—
“But this is his baby.”
“I’m his baby,” Silly says.
“We can’t just kill it off before we’ve started, Silly.”
Silly calmly sips her green tea.
“I’m sorry. I really am. But some things are better off dead.”
Ratner’s wife pulls her Mercedes into the parking lot. She is screaming into her dashboard/cell.
“Listen.” Ratner’s voice booms through the speaker. “I said I—
“I said fuck you, Burt! It’s your turn to take care of it.”
Dina has closed up the register for the night and is now finishing stringing a racquet for RJ.
“What’s in the dirt?”
“The clay,” RJ says. “That’s what they call it.”
“I never heard that.”
“My plan was always to start over again on the dirt. Guess I was sort of lucky that I found my way here.”
Dina ties off the final knot.
“I’m pretty good on it,” RJ says.
“You coming back?”
“Hope not. What about you?”
“Maybe next summer again when school’s out. I don’t think that far ahead.”
Dina unclamps the racquet from the stringer and hands it to RJ. He taps the strings against his hand to test the tension.
“Maybe he can make me some old school racquet presses next. The kind with screws in case I don’t already feel gay enough with this.”
“It’s not so bad,” Dina says.
“You’ll get used to it.”
Ratner’s wife sticks her head into the pro shop.
“Let’s go, Dina. I’ve warned you about making me wait and your father was supposed to pick you up.”
Dina cringes and then grabs her stuff while her mother stands in the doorway.
“Can you lock up?” she says to RJ.
“I don’t know why you want to work here anyway,” her mother says.
“No worries,” RJ assures Dina.
Silly empties her bottle of sleeping pills onto the kitchen counter. She runs them through a coffee grinder and then cooks the remains into liquid form using a serving spoon.
Silly sits down next to Gray’s bed. They quietly look into each other’s eyes. The hum of the machines is strangely calming. A nurse pokes her head in and smiles at Silly before continuing on her rounds.
Silly removes a loaded syringe from her purse and shoots it into Gray’s thigh, her thumb pushing it all the way in. It’s apparent she’s handled an instrument like this before. Silly puts the syringe back in her purse. She stands over Gray and kisses him on his mouth.
“I heard you, Daddy.”
They look at each other lovingly as if to say goodbye. Silly knows she’s finally done something right in her life.
And suddenly. . . .
Gray gets an erection beneath his sheets.
Silly doesn’t understand.
Gray then miraculously sits up.
Cannon is screening the CannonPlus infomercial with Trish.
“Carter was such a brilliant choice,” Trish says.
“Casting is everything,” Cannon says.
They both focus in on the TV. Carter walks around the frame lighting candles and speaking aloud to himself, horribly overacting.
“For years I tried my best, but I never became my best. For years I tried my hardest, but I never became my hardest. I made the same mistake we all make.”
Soft music plays in the background as Carter reaches for the phallic red bottle of CannonPlus.
“We’ve got to ship it!” Trish says.
“The timing is all wrong.”
“People need this, Brad.”
Back to the TV as Carter opens the bottle and places a single pill in the palm of his hand. Carter closes his eyes as he puts it in his mouth for dramatic effect.
Cannon has become extremely emotional.
“You know what?” he says.
Cannon turns to face Trish, who is pleading her case with her eyes alone.
“Let the whole world think I’m guilty. You’re right.”
RJ and Mrs. J are standing in front of RJ’s Jeep parked in front of The Desert Pet. She reaches out to hug him.
“So South America?”
“Quickest way to build up my points.”
Mrs. J fights back tears.
“I wish I could take the last year back,” she says.
RJ squeezes her with everything he has.
“Forget it, Mom. PainAWAY wasn’t your fault.”
He climbs in his Jeep and backs out as she waves goodbye. He turns out of the strip mall as a UPS truck turns in. The truck parks in front and the driver unloads a shipment of several boxes from BestDirect.
Damien sits in a plastic chair. He is holding a remote control and watching a TV on the floor. He surfs through the channels until he settles on something. Damien’s sweaty body is lit up by the light coming from the screen. He looks like he hasn’t moved for several days.
Cut to the TV.
Carter opens his eyes after swallowing a pill.
“Then I BECAME my best.” Pony Jones moves in behind him and places her hand on his shoulder. “And so can you.”
Pros are teaching on a few courts, and members are playing on the others, all using golden racquets. A new pre-manufactured building now rests on the edge of the property. It looks like a giant storage shed.
Racks of golden racquets line the walls inside the new building. There is an indoor backboard and a state of the art electric stringer. Some of the same equipment from Stew’s old workshop is inside, and he still builds alone, but there is now plenty of space for him to grow. His desk is tucked away in a corner. There is an industrial scale in the middle of it, with a freshly painted racquet perfectly balanced across the top. A single picture of his sister smiling also rests on top of his desk. The bright gold frame protecting it is safely propped up against the wall.
Silly sits in the middle of an AA circle.
“Sometimes I go home feeling the best after just listening to the stories of others. That’s been a big part of it for me, you know, just getting out of my own head for a while. Not thinking about MY life every second of every day. Not working on making MY life better. So I think there comes that time when you just know you are going to be OK. I don’t think it’s based on a calendar, like in years sober or anything like that. Maybe for some people it works that way, but for me it’s just like I stopped working on it. I got tired of recovering from my old life and started to live a new one. Maybe it was all that stuff with my daddy. Maybe it was everything in the desert. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter anymore. I just want to thank you guys for being here.”
Carter and Stew stand up to applaud with everyone else.
A blinding white light.
A black Escalade pulls up to the development site. All of the stakes and markers are gone. Gray and Ratner get out. Ratner, on the driver’s side, pulls a barefoot woman with a hood over her head out of the back. Ratner drags the woman away from the car towards the crevice.
“You know how I feel about trust,” Gray says.
“It wasn’t about me,” Ratner says.
“They were both strong,” Ratner says.
“It makes me wonder if I did the right thing all those years ago,” Gray says.
“You did what you had to.”
The barefoot woman falls down and Ratner bends down to force her back up on her feet. All three keep walking.
“I seemed so certain at the time, but the years can make things less clear.”
“Keep fucking moving!” Ratner screams at the barefoot woman.
“All this crazy talk of Stew turning pro one day, not to mention what she did to Silly with the TV show.”
“She wasn’t realistic,” Ratner says.
“His condition was always too much for her to handle.”
“She wasn’t well.”
“She would have found a way to kill them both.”
“You couldn’t take that chance,” Ratner says.
They’ve come upon the crevice.
“Hold still!” Ratner screams at the barefoot woman.
“Silly cried when she saw it?” Gray says.
“There was an instant connection.”
“I don’t even know how to get my head around that. What made you bring her here again?”
“Can’t say exactly,” Ratner says. “It just seemed like she needed to get involved in something outside herself. “
“Motives don’t matter,” Gray says.
“We are what we do,” Ratner agrees.
“Take the hood off.”
“You sure?” Ratner says.
“And give me the gun.”
Ratner pulls a gun from his belt and hands it to Gray.
“I want her to see who shot her,” Gray says.
Ratner removes the hood to reveal his wife with a gag in her mouth. Gray takes aim and shoots her between the eyes. She falls backward into the crevice. The body falls twelve miles down until it lands next to a rotting Ginger Cannon and the Babolat bag.
A set of old bones is sticking up through the dirt a few feet away. One is an arm with a diamond tennis bracelet around the wrist.
Gray and Ratner walk away from the crevice with their backs turned.
“You didn’t have to do it,” Ratner says.
“Call us even, Burt.”
Gray starts to hand the gun back to Ratner, but then shoots him in the head instead.
“Let’s go home.”
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