Take Eight (A short screenplay)

BEER BOTTLES & USED NEEDLES are strewn around the floor.

RENATO, 32, hungover, hits alarm clock, and gets up frantically, looking at phone.
TEXT that says “Left without you, find another way there.” Renato groans, gets out of empty bed.
He is showing signs of aging mostly in his bloodshot eyes, wearing boxers.
Renato clumsily puts on sunglasses, dark jeans, & a black blazer over a gray shirt; turns off TV playing reruns of a show starring a much younger Renato.


Renato stumbles down street, smoking a cigarette. He waves to sweeping shop owner.

SHOP OWNER, an old man, groans and turns away from Renato.

A SMALL GROUP OF FANS whisper across the street. One walks over and asks Renaldo for an autograph.

FAN runs back over to group.

FAN (mouthing): So retro.

In a SPARSE CROWD, Renato orders black coffee.  
BARISTA, an older woman, uses one finger to tap her temple.
Renato sighs and takes off his sunglasses. He looks around the room cautiously, then sits down at the coffee bar.

CELEBRITY, who looks an awful lot like a younger Renato, walks into coffee shop.

PAPARAZZI,one photographer & one journalist, immediately get up from a table and hound celebrity.

Renato rolls his eyes and groans, puts his sunglasses back on, takes coffee, and leaves angrily.


Renato is walking, lights up another cigarette. He starts walking across the street, hotter than before.
A speeding car almost hits Renato, honking at him.
Renato is alarmed, but then flips the car off, remembering to puff his cigarette concurrently.  
Renato runs across to the other side, stands & looks at crosswalk he’s at. He sees a church.


a small sign reading “Alcoholics Anonymous – Sundays at 9 AM.”


Renato is standing there, looking in the window.
Sparse crowd is inside, faint music is playing.  



Renato holds his cigarette in his mouth and looks at his phone. It reads 12:05 PM. There is a picture of a young girl smiling with a backpack on, slightly resembling Renaldo.
Renato sighs and downs the rest of his coffee. He walks towards the bar, throwing away his coffee in a trash can by the door. He takes one last deep puff of his cigarette while grabbing the door. He hears the bartender LAUGH loudly. Renato stops & looks up.

RENATO’S POV: through a window into the bar. A small TV is playing Renato’s old show, the same one that was playing on his own TV earlier that a.m.


Renato, looking through window, lets go of the door; mouths “Fuck.”

He takes a step back, throwing his cigarette down and putting it out with his feet.

Renato looks over to the church, frowning.
Two people walk into church, nudging each other in a friendly manner and smiling.
Renato puts his hands in his jean pockets, empty-handed.
Renato sighs and walks towards the church as the church bells ring to signify it is 2 PM.


human connection

An invite from you,
that new year’s eve.
We had been long time, no see;
that night, we were so much of us to see,
and no time. Time stopped.
3 a.m. and we were whispering, giggling, on your friend’s couch.
We left, secret in the morning dark
Walking barefoot to my house, I drove the getaway car.
Tension, pausing and replaying, co-owned by our separate silence.

I opened the door to our new apartment-
or did you open the door?
The memory is slipping away.
The carpet was freshly vacuumed,
our connection freshly polished.
We had one mattress, my twin-sized answer
to your question.
That night, we didn’t close our eyes for more than a minute.
So much time, and no sleep.
There was too much to do together;
too much to think about, to dream about, to laugh about,
to keep to ourselves.
Our floors, our doors that stuck from the paint,
our place to house all the silenced desires,
to stoke all the short-phrased fears.

We were sitting opposite each other in wicker chairs, or were they wood?
You were wearing a yellow shirt,
Or was it blue?
All the memories are slipping away.
My hair was tied up with a scrunchie that you let me borrow
(later, you would throw all those borrows in my face)
But for now, we picked up our forks and talked about
Human connection. And our perfectly cooked eggs.
Your lips were consistently curved up, seducing mine to do the same.
Your eyes would explode every time I said something that echoed inside you,
Something just for you to hear.
My eyes would blush in their own way, looking down and away from you –
So much was in you.
So much of me.

It was midnight, or near it.
Fresh out of the shower, I was sleeping naked and covered by a thick bed sheet.
You knocked on my door and came in,
Tears knocking on your bottom eyelid.
You sat on the end of my bed.
“What’s wrong?”
You responded by laying next to me, your silhouette
Tracing the curvature of my own,
Only a blanket and your big t-shirt between us.
Your boyfriend is in the other room, or did he leave already?
You were holding onto me, and I was holding onto my breath.
We were both holding onto the moment, the veiled connection.

Present day, I’m sitting on my mattress, on the floor we don’t co-own.
We don’t co-own borrows, favors, gifts, apologies, fights, touches anymore.
We don’t talk anymore, don’t connect anymore.
It ended in silence, we ended in silence, in avoidance.
We avoided lifting up the veil, lifting up that blanket, lifting up that shirt.
You would push, I would push back, but we never met in the middle.
Never merged into the middle lane.
Instead, I found this new carpeted floor. This floor we don’t co-own.
We don’t co-own anything anymore.


swerve, then steady

I left the front door wide open, swinging on hinges.
Breath, mine, rapid, blending in with the fog, this weird red fog.
Driving down I-44
Diving down and down on I-44
Looking for smooth gliding, looking for straight driving-
Bloodshot eyes, mine, almost crash into a clown car in the next lane-
I swerve, then steady.
Clown car? Whatever, I made it.
Then, there are giant spiders, purple and blistery.
White knuckles on the gray steering wheel, mine, swerve then steady.
Safe. Made it.

Then, a rabid four-headed snake, taking up the entire highway.
Blue fingertips, mine, swerve, then steady.
All good. Made it.
Bloodshot eyes, heavy enough to close,
Mine? I’ve gotta make it.
Gotta make it back home. Gotta make it to home.
I left home, I left home. Door swinging on hinges, I left it like that.
Bloodshot eyes, not mine, but a red face that covers up my windshield.
I’m blinded by this red, bug-eyed fog of a face-
I feel a scream, but it doesn’t come out – it stays in bed, stays at home.
Dirty and unclipped nails, mine, swerve, then steady.
Whew. Made it.
Driving down the I-44.
Maybe smooth sailing, maybe straight nailing.
Wait, what? Nailing, railing, bailing – I should bail.
Bail back home.
The black road, yellow lines, tick-tick-ticking under tires, mine.
Tick-tick-ticking, from what? Never heard that before.
Dark driving, 3 a.m. No more spiders, no more snakes, no more fa-
There’s another face.
Eyes more bloodshot than mine, more bloodshot than my mother’s after a night of talking to monsters.
Mother, she’s home, she’s so afraid of snakes. I left home.
The face, the eyes!
These eyes, I see them in my rearview mirror, floating above my backseat,
Floating in my backseat, like a child I forgot about, a child with a monster face.
It’s red, I thought I swerved this! I thought I steadied this!
No, different face, different blood, feels the same though.
Breath, mine, catching, telling my hands to move, to fix it.
I can’t swerve, I can’t steady, it’s in my car.
Bloodshot eyes, mine, dart from street to face to street to face.
The face is smiling, keeps smiling, keeps whispering something, repeating it,
What is it? Ears, mine, straining. Like when the pastor, like when my mother, told me how to redeem my unworthy soul, I’m straining.

Tick tick tick, tick tick tick

The whispers from the face keep me racing racing racing,
Down the I-44, driving in the fog.
Hot tears, mine, on my cheek, I whisper back
I gotta make it home, gotta make it home
Like a plead to this face, a plead to its monsters it sent for me to swerve, then steady away from.
I see my exit.

Tick-tick-tick, it just smiles.

I see my exit and I really gotta, really otta, never go back home.
The red fog face in my backseat keeps smiling, keeps ticking me along to red fog highway.
Like an instructional lullaby, the ticking makes me listen, says shut up about gotta make it home.
From under my eyelids, red fog, black fog, red fog. Smiling, me.
White knuckles, blue fingertips, those unclipped nails, I can’t see them when they unclaw from the steering wheel, unhinge themselves like a door swung wide open.

tick         tick          tick

it’s slower, no more racing racing racing,
no more gotta make it home, I can’t see yellow lines from inside my red fog eyelids.
I left home. Steering wheel, absent of hands, it swerves,
it steadies.