Sunday, July 10, 2016

Loose Cannon, Part III

Summary of Part II: Brandon continues posting videos under his alias, Loose Cannon, but is suspicious of the low view totals he's seeing.  He talks to an analyst at the hosting service and discovers his suspicions are well founded and offers the analyst a hefty bonus to come clean.   A group of young veterans, meanwhile, rips him for what they see as an anti-American campaign.  In a middle-of-the-night moment of doubt, Brandon calls his good friend Rob and asks him what he thinks of his videos.  Rob tells him they're a waste of time.  Since JFK the power in government resides in the national security state, which is not dependent on voters.  But he understands why Douglas needs to go ahead with his mission.  

Rob also warns him about the government's penchant for eliminating troublemakers -- even a cheap video-maker like Loose Cannon.


PART III, FADE IN:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

EXT - DRIVEWAY - DAY

Brandon and Rosey are washing their trucks.  Brandon seems lost in thought, but Rosey is having a good time.  He dances almost continuously.  Brandon finally notices.


BRANDON
You always jump around when you wash a truck?

ROSEY
Always dance when I want to feel good.  

BRANDON
Well—

ROSEY
Can’t feel bad and dance at the same time.

BRANDON
You might’ve missed your calling.  You’re pretty good.


Rosey laughs and continues dancing.


EXT - WASHINGTON, D.C. - DAY - ESTABLISHING

A grandiose government edifice with people coming and going.


INT - CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS

Garrison Green and Karen Walsh walk down a bright corridor together and stop before an unmarked door.  

Garrison presses a button on the wall outside the door, a buzzer sounds and they enter the room.


INT - ROOM - MOMENTS LATER

At one end of the room is a large TV screen, currently off.  Fronting it is a conference table that would seat 20 but which has only two people sitting at the moment: BRAD ROMNEY and a superior, MR. WILLIAMS.

Romney looks as tense as the guests who have arrived.  Only Williams smiles.


ROMNEY
(to Green and Walsh)
This is Director Williams.

WILLIAMS
(shakes hands with each)
My pleasure.


They sit, with Williams at the head of the table.  Williams picks up a report but looks at his guests with a smile.


WILLIAMS
I don't know about anyone else but I feel a little like Alice in Wonderland.

GARRISON
How's that?

WILLIAMS
This whole Loose Cannon thing.  It's bizarre.  Unreal.  I can't get my head around it.

GARRISON
We were hoping he'd just fade into the sunset.

WILLIAMS
But he talked to one of your boys instead.

GARRISON
One of our ex-boys.

WILLIAMS
And the numbers?

GARRISON
They're real.

WILLIAMS
 (shakes his head)
Real.  Sixteen million people have liked his latest video.  As of this morning.

GARRISON
We're not happy, either.  But he's got a substantial following now.

WILLIAMS
He's bringing shiploads of visitors to your website.  And you're saying you're not happy?

GARRISON
We don't like the way he's doing it.  His message borders on treason.

WILLIAMS
Oh, he's crossed that border, I assure you.  What's your next move?

GARRISON
I was hoping your organization could give us some pointers.  We're in unfamiliar waters.

WILLIAMS
Well, let's do what we can not to drown, shall we?

GARRISON
Yes.

WILLIAMS
First off, the records say Douglas is suicidal.  Maybe he'll solve the problem for us.
(Off Garrison's look)
We're just talking, okay?  Put the conspiracy stuff away.

GARRISON
We thought of getting a celebrity to offer a strong counter-argument.  Someone with a good reputation who speaks well.  

WILLIAMS
You want to turn this into a debate?

GARRISON
Maybe.  Right now he has no video opposition.  I think it would help.

WILLIAMS
Using a celebrity -- yes, it might help.  Have anyone in mind?

GARRISON
A tough-guy movie star.

KAREN 
Or maybe even a former president.

WILLIAMS
A former president.  Maybe two formers, one from each party.  One alone would not work.  Agree?

KAREN
Agree.

WILLIAMS
The problem with a real debate is the prospect of losing.  You don't want to lose.  And if you lose, we lose.

Here's a thought.  Get a celeb to sing the national anthem.  Preferably a female with a hot body.   She really believes in what she's singing.  When she sings the anthem the audience cries.  Run this automatically after each of his posts.

GARRISON
The national anthem. 

WILLIAMS
The national anthem.

GARRISON
That's it?

WILLIAMS
That's it.  Anything else?


INT - HOUSE - LATER

Jeesee looks at her computer tablet, glances at a tense Brandon, then extends the tablet to him.


BRANDON
(reads the screen)
We're viral.
 (shouting)
We're viral!


He flings the tablet across the room onto the couch.


JEESEE
Looks like we're going to Atlanta.


EXT - PIEDMONT PARK - DAY

Strangers greet Jeesee with bubbly enthusiasm, giving Brandon perfunctory attention.  

Rosey and VERNON, another large bodyguard, are close at hand, with Vernon grinning and carrying a sign saying “Are you a loose cannon?”

A crowd begins to build.  

A girl, early 20s with long blonde hair, coasts her bicycle to a stop near Brandon.  He seems grateful for the attention.

20SGIRL
Hi.

BRANDON
Hello.

20SGIRL
I think your videos are really cool.

BRANDON
Great.

20SGIRL
But I get confused.  I want to vote for you but you're not running for office.

BRANDON
I get that way myself, sometimes. Did you give my videos a thumbs-up?

20SGIRL
Yeah.

BRANDON
Then you did vote for me.  And I thank you.  We're both another vote closer to freedom.


A young man with a backpack picks up on this.


20SBACKPACK
If it only worked that way.

BRANDON
Fill me in.

20SBACKPACK
I like your idea, but it's too idealistic.  It'll never work.  Government will always be on our back and in our pockets.

BRANDON
So what's the use of trying?

20SBACKPACK
Yeah.  I mean, you can't get rid of it by ignoring it.

BRANDON
Have you tried?

20SBACKPACK
No, but . . . you'd have to get too many people to do it.  Almost everyone.  How're you going to do that?

BRANDON
By trying.


Then--


TRAVIS
(to 20sbackpack)
Get lost, sonny!  Your mama's calling.


Brandon turns to be confronted by the 57th Fighting Group vets, led by Travis Roden.  Sam is not among them.  Dress code: boots and camouflage.

Brandon stays the backpacker with an outstretched arm.


BRANDON
(to Travis)
Who are you?

TRAVIS
(menacing)
Your worst nightmare.  Vets who love their country.


The other vets pretty much surround Brandon.


BRANDON
Then we have something in common.  I love this country, too. 

TRAVIS
Oh, yeah?  You’re a lying SOB.  

BRANDON
Do you like the way this country is governed?  I don’t.  The only way I see to change it is to take a principled opposition to voting.

TRAVIS
Where’d you get that sicko idea?

BRANDON
By looking at the number of people who don’t vote.  They’ve always outnumbered the voters.  Maybe there’s a reason why.

TRAVIS
And you’re gonna tell me you found the reason.

BRANDON
A lot of people can’t bring themselves to vote for evil, even if it’s less evil than other choices.

TRAVIS
A lot of people need to grow up.  We’re always gonna have crooked politicians. 

BRANDON
Only if we continue to vote for them.

TRAVIS
Tell me, genius, by not voting what do we get?    Besides empty voting booths.


His buddies find that amusing.


BRANDON
A protest.  A protest the politicians will notice. 


Rosey and Vernon bump their way into the group.


ROSEY
(to Brandon)
Who you got here, boss?

BRANDON
(to the vets)
These are a couple of friends of mine.  You’d never guess but they’re into the arts — dance and music.  Choreographers.


With broad smiles, Rosey and Vernon aggressively extend their hands to Travis, who is stunned at their size and sudden appearance.


ROSEY
Pleased to meet you, sir.  My name's Rosey.

VERNON
A pleasure, sir.  The name's Vernon.  And yours?

TRAVIS
Travis.

VERNON
I had an uncle named Travis.  Maybe we're related.
(laughs)  
He was married to two women at once.  When they found out, one of them shot him dead.  Maybe they both did.  
(laughs)  
Ain’t that a bitch?


He hands Travis the loose cannon sign.


VERNON
Hold this, Mr. Travis, while I shake with your pals. 


They continue their aggressive introductions with the other vets.


BRANDON
(to Travis)
Graceful, aren't they?

Furious, Travis tosses the sign on the ground.  He and his buddies start to meander away.


BRANDON
Wait!  Don’t go.  I have something to show you.
(They stop, then)
See if you can spot some patsies in these scenes.   Give me five minutes.  Maybe less.


He works his smartphone.  The vets gather around him to watch.


ON THE SMARTPHONE,

INT - BUSH NEWS CONFERENCE - STOCK FOOTAGE

Fourteen-second excerpt: "Nothing," says George W. Bush in answer to a journalist's question, "What did Iraq have to do with the attack on the World Trade Center?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41O0jKPH8Ac


EXT - BOMBING FOOTAGE - NIGHT - STOCK FOOTAGE

Ten-second clip of the "forces of freedom" shocking and awing Bagdad during President Bush's 2003 invasion.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NktsxucDvNI


EXT - SOLDIERS KILLING IRAQIS - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

Ten-second excerpt of soldiers whooping it up after killing Iraqis in the streets from behind a wall on the rooftop of a building.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRumnAOPNxs


EXT - POST-INVASION IRAQ - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

Ten-second clip of Iraqi ruins 10 years after the US-led invasion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkcogjQok-E


INT - VETERAN TESTIMONIALS - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

52-second excerpt: Veterans of Iraq invasion describe their experiences.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-8C-rs8Jh4


INT - LIMO - NIGHT

Karen is showing Garrison a video on her tablet as the driver takes them down an expressway.


KAREN
This is perfect.  Beyoncé singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.  We can automate it to follow any video Douglas posts, without a cancelation delay.

GARRISON
God, that's made to order

KAREN
Who's going to turn her off?  The video's already viral.  It's perfect.

GARRISON
(points to screen)
What's this other one over here?  Middle school kids singing the national anthem at the 9/11 memorial.  Let's follow up Beyoncé's with that.

KAREN
Won't work.

GARRISON
Why not?

KAREN
The security guard stopped them because they didn't have permission to sing.


INT - OLD PICKUP  - DAY

Brandon drives, Jeesee rides.  His cell phone rings.  Jeesee answers it.


JEESEE
You have reached the phone of Brandon Douglas.  How may I . . . He's driving his truck right now.  Can I take a message? . . . Tomorrow night?  One moment please.


She presses the phone against her chest to muffle her voice.


JEESEE
(to Brandon, excited)
It's Lyman Lovett's secretary.  She wants to know if you're available for a live interview tomorrow night on his show.

BRANDON
Where?

JEESEE
(to caller)
Where would this . . .?  Okay, hang on.

JEESEE
(to Brandon)
New York City.

BRANDON
Tell them I agree but only if they hold it at a place of my choosing.

JEESEE
(to caller)
He'd like that but not in New York.  He wants to pick out a place. . .
(to Brandon)
Lovett's on the line.  He wants to know what place.

BRANDON
Seriously?  Okay, Colette's lemonade stand.  She's usually there around four.

JEESEE
The little girl--?

BRANDON
Right.  The little girl we pass on the way to Ingles.

JEESEE
(to Lovett)
He would prefer holding the interview at a local lemonade stand, around four.


She lowers the phone.


JEESEE
(to Brandon)
He said go to hell.


Brandon digests that comment.


BRANDON
Colette doesn't stay open in the evenings.  Lovett would have to tape his show.


Moments later the phone rings.


JEESEE
(to caller)
Hello? . . . Okay . . . Okay, great.  I'll let him know. Bye.

JEESEE
That was Lovett.   He and his crew will be here tomorrow.

BRANDON
Here.  You mean in Barnesville.

JEESEE
Yup.  Barnesville.

BRANDON
I guess we better get on home.


He keeps driving.


BRANDON
Lovett said he doesn’t know where Barnesville is.  Let’s make sure he never forgets.

JEESEE
Roger that, soldier boy.

BRANDON
Speaking of tape, I need to order some.  Have them overnight it.  Hate to pay the shipping, but I think it'll be worth it.

JEESEE
What kind of tape?


EXT - RESIDENTIAL STREET - DAY

COLETTE HARPER, 9, smiles behind a card table set up near the road that fronts her house.  On the table are two pitchers of lemonade, some paper cups, and a kitty for collecting tips.

Surrounding the setup and engulfing the entire front of the property is yellow crime scene tape, the last part of which Brandon is securing to a skinny tree.

Townsfolk and college students have descended on the spot, as have Lyman Lovett and a TV crew.  Rosey stands by with camera ready.

Lyman and Brandon take positions on either side of Colette.

Jeesee and a YOUNG WOMAN watch from the front of the crowd.  The woman's proud smile suggests she's the girl's mother.


LYMAN LOVETT
(to Brandon)
Can we get started?

BRANDON
Fire away.

LYMAN LOVETT
(talking to camera)
We're doing our show today from Barnesville, Georgia about a two-hour drive south of Atlanta.  We're standing outside the home of young Colette Harper, a fourth-grader and also a seller of lemonade.  Am I right so far, Colette?


She shrugs.


LYMAN LOVETT
I'll take that in the affirmative. We're here at the request of another Barnesville resident, mega-lottery winner Brandon Douglas, who some of you may know by his alias.


The crowd hoots and applauds lightly.


COLETTE
I don't sell it.

LYMAN LOVETT
Excuse me?

COLETTE
It's free.  People can leave tips, though.

LYMAN LOVETT
I have been corrected.

BRANDON
She'd be a criminal if she tried selling it.

LYMAN LOVETT
And this tape is your way of getting that point across, I assume.

BRANDON
If we're here long enough the cops will make the point even better.  Probably arrest us too, for encouraging the delinquency of a minor.  You ready to go to jail?

LYMAN LOVETT
I'm not ready for it to snow in July, either.

BRANDON
Colette, would you pour us some lemonade?


She smiles and goes about it.


LYMAN LOVETT
(to Brandon)
As you know, I'm here to get--


Colette offers him a cup.


LYMAN LOVETT
No, thanks.  I don't drink on the job.

BRANDON
Show a little respect, man.


Lovett, annoyed, accepts the cup.


LYMAN LOVETT
(to Colette)
Thank you.  You're very sweet.
(to Brandon)
I forgot I was in the South, where the law takes a back seat to manners.

BRANDON
 (raising  his cup)
To freedom.


Younger members of the crowd shout "Freedom!" in response.  As Lovett fails to raise his cup the crowd begins booing.  Rosie captures it all with a camera.


LYMAN LOVETT
Your antics are certainly popular with the home folks, Mr. Douglas. To freedom.


He raises his cup quickly and takes a sip.


BRANDON
Since when is toasting freedom an antic?


Lovett opens his mouth to respond but Brandon cuts him off.


BRANDON
Could it be that your masters forbid you to use that word?

LYMAN LOVETT
Let's talk about your video campaign, okay?

BRANDON
And that they’ve turned nine-year-olds into criminals and college students into debt slaves.


The young crowd applauds in appreciation.  Lovett struggles to get his temper under control.


LYMAN LOVETT
Okay, you've made your points--

BRANDON
And thousands of young adults into killers for the power elite.

LYMAN LOVETT
And if it weren't for those killers, terrorists would be taking over the country.

BRANDON
They are taking over the country.  Haven't you heard of the Patriot Act or the NDAA?  How about the NSA monstrosity that even spies on flag wavers like yourself?--

LYMAN LOVETT
Most people regard those measures as--

BRANDON
You hide behind a thick shell of cynicism but you're a faithful waver.  A cynic sees problems but has no solutions.  And he castigates anyone who offers them.  But you're a needed functionary.  If you were a Boy Scout waver where would the country's cynics look for catharsis?

LYMAN LOVETT
I think someone's feelings are hurt.  I pick on everyone to the degree they deserve it.

BRANDON
Always with the gloves on.

LYMAN LOVETT
I'm an entertainer as well as a journalist.

BRANDON
You're also gutless.

LYMAN LOVETT
Right.  As if it didn't take courage to give a screwball a national audience.
(waves to film crew)
Cut it off.  Pack it up.

BRANDON
I think someone's feelings are hurt.

LYMAN LOVETT
Pack it up!

BRANDON
Don't leave.  We were just getting started.

LYMAN LOVETT
If you had half a brain you'd realize the opportunity you've squandered.


Police sirens and flashing lights suddenly sweep onto the scene.


BRANDON
Maybe not.


Within seconds, police are rushing Lovett with cuffs.


LYMAN LOVETT
What is this?

OFFICER
(reading Miranda)
You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions.

LYMAN LOVETT
What kind of a stunt is this?!  Get away from me!

OFFICER
Do you understand?


Lovett resists but police easily subdue and cuff him.


LYMAN LOVETT
(Re: Brandon)
What about him?  What's the charge?

OFFICER
Patronizing an illegal establishment.

LYMAN LOVETT
Oh, get serious!

OFFICER
And encouraging the delinquency of a minor.

LYMAN LOVETT
This is no longer a joke.  Let me go!


They shove him up to the the back door of a squad car.


INT - HOUSE - LATER

Brandon and Jeesee are watching the video of the Lovett scene on a laptop.


ON LAPTOP,

LYMAN LOVETT
This is no longer a joke.  Let me go!

BRANDON
(waving his arms)
Okay, guys!  Cut!  Fun's over!  Thanks, Lyman, for your greater-than-hoped-for assistance.


But Rosie keeps the camera rolling.  Lovett glares at him.  The crowd laughs and applauds.


BRANDON
These "police" are war vets who lost their jobs when Wall Street imploded.  They needed the money, and I needed their assistance.

LYMAN LOVETT
You'll hear from my lawyers.  Tomorrow.

BRANDON
Good.  I'll hire them.  You called me a standup comic.  That could pass for libel.

LYMAN LOVETT
And by the way, you're a marked man.  Hear me?  A marked man.  Sleep on that tonight.


Lovett's aides rescue him from the "police."

END VIDEO.

Jeesee turns to him.


JEESEE
You know, baby, all I ever wanted was a peaceful life.  Raise kids, grow my own vegetables.  Family reunions.  Birthday parties.  Vacations at the beach.

BRANDON
Baby, they asked for it.   They started the fight when they took away our first freedoms.  Trouble is, we didn't fight back until now.

JEESEE
You're going to post the video?

BRANDON
It's posted.


Jeesse glances at the ceiling.


JEESEE
How soon, do you think?

BRANDON
Before the roof falls?  Forty-eight hours.  Tops.

JEESEE
And this because you don't want people to vote?

BRANDON
I want to live in a free society.   Casting a vote means I won't.

JEESEE
What does not voting mean?

BRANDON
That you refuse to support an institution that forbids us from living in a free society.

JEESEE
Is there an easier way to say it?

BRANDON
Yeah.  With a picture.  I need an artist.

JEESEE
You also need a T-shirt.

BRANDON
You're a genius.


Jeesee eases into an uncertain smile.


EXT - FRONT YARD - DAY

Jeesee tears open a package that a departing FedEx truck has just delivered.  Rosey and Vernon are tossing a football on the grass.

She pulls out a very large blue T-shirt, examining the graphic on the front.


JEESEE
(to Rosey and Vernon)
Hey, y'all!


EXT - FRONT LAWN - MOMENTS LATER

The two men pull the new T-shirts on, as does Jeesee.  The image on front depicts a tough-looking guy with a boot raised on the barrel of a cannon.

His right hand grips a cannon ball bearing the inscription, "Don't vote!"


JEESEE
Do you like them?

ROSEY
Y'know, not sure I agree with the sentiment.  Voting gave black folk a voice.

JEESEE
(sudden realization)
Yeah.  And they weren't the only ones!


INT - DINING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER

The three of them confront Brandon who's writing something by hand at the table.  He is disheveled, unshaven.


JEESEE
We've got a problem, CANNON.


He looks up.


BRANDON
Great shirts!

JEESEE
Wrong!  Voting gave us a foot in the door.
(Gestures to herself and other two)
Us!  Y'know?  Now you're saying it's no good.

BRANDON
It wasn't your foot that got in the door -- it was your neck.

JEESEE
What's that supposed to mean?

BRANDON
You can't politicize freedom.

JEESEE
Will you for once talk straight?!


Brandon sets his pen down.  He stands and looks quietly at them.  They wait.  He collects himself.


BRANDON
Are you three among the many who use national politics to get even?  Then by all means vote.  Get the politicians in Washington to pass laws that will give you the life you so richly deserve.  All they have are guns, but they can do wonders with guns.  With their guns, voting can move you from the bottom of the food chain to the top.  As long as the tax revenue doesn't run out.

But wait -- government revenue will never run out, will it?  Will it?  The government has provided itself with an independent printing press that will print all the money it needs to keep all the promises it has made.  An economy powered by a counterfeiter!  Only the counterfeiter's counterfeiting is called monetary policy by the bought economics profession.  It's so ingenious it puts a lump in my throat.  How did Keynes put it?  Not one man in a million can see through it.

Did the government free you, Rosey?  Why did it keep you enslaved in the first place? Vernon, has voting removed racial bias from your life?  Whatever advantages you think you have because of the vote, Jeesee, just remember who pulls the levers of power.  Is it the little guys in debt up to their ears, savaged by the government's war on savers?  A war conducted through monetary policy?  I don't think so.

You can't vote government off your backs.  They won't allow it.  Without a host, any parasite will perish.  But the irony is, you can vote government off your backs by not voting, if enough people take a stand.


ROSEY
You've got some good points but we're less enslaved now than we once were.  By a lot.  We're people now, instead of chattel.

JEESEE
Ditto.

ROSEY
And voting got us here.

BRANDON
Have you been brainwashed?  You were always people.  All of you.

ROSEY
It took a change in government to gain the recognition.  Now that we've got it--

BRANDON
--You can join the pack that supports a criminal gang.

ROSEY
We can support leaders that are on our side.

BRANDON
They're not on your side.  They're using you.

ROSEY
That they are.  But it's the best deal we're gonna get.

BRANDON
No, it isn't.  Freedom is the best deal you can get.  And it's within your reach.  Don't play their game.  Shut them down.  Don't vote.


Brandon looks from one closed face to the other.


JEESEE
I'm with them.  We need the vote.


He drops into his chair.


BRANDON

Well, shoot me.

END OF PART III

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