Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Mission:
We are never really sure of why we live until we are tested. This difficult time has tested me in a way that is truly oppressive. I cannot sleep well and my body is aging more rapidly now. I believe more than ever, that my sense of morality is far more important than anything or anybody. I am a Catholic with an atheist philosophy. Sounds crazy doesn't it?

Yet Catholicism has given me a strong moral sense despite the fact that it has also given me the burden of a nonsensical after life. More than ever, I believe we die and that's it. Jesus was so right on so many issues but so wrong about death and heaven. We are no more valuable to this universe than a leaf or a flower or a bird or a fish. And it is exactly that, the essence of being true to oneself that is the most valuable. If, after all, we finally come to the realization that no one human being can live forever, we are free to explore the possibilities. It is only then that we truly appreciate the value of a bird or a flower or a tree. It is only then that we realize how closely tied to the earth we will always be. By accepting the true nature of our mortal existence, we are able to see the amazing value of ordinary life.

That is why I am determined to fight for the right side of morality while I am still breathing. I am determined to make sure everyone knows where our destiny has lead us. That destiny is a clean and secure future with a growing middle class and a more responsive government. It may take a revolution. It may take some kind of catastrophic natural event. It may take some kind of damning revelation about the privileged classes. But this log jam we are currently experiencing is a direct result of my boomer generation expressing its ignorance. As we relinquish control to more progressive forces, the tide will finally flow as it should.

In the process we must proclaim today's notion of conservatism to be false. We must make people realize that what is passing for conservatism is thinly veiled regression. The Tea Party is dominated by backward thinking bigots. And we must expose them for what they are. Real conservatives like Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower are a stark contrast to cartoon figures like Ted Cruz and Joe McCarthy. Brilliant conservatives like David Brooks will only become powerful when the radical elements are run out of the party. When George Bush ran for the nomination in 1980 he knew that he must disavow the actions of the John Birch society. Every time they take over the Republican Party, they damage the party and the country. Unfortunately, Newt Gingrich brought them back when he teamed up with the Christian Right and a generation of dirty politics was born. Since Newt, the politics of the party trumps the best interests of the U.S. Citizen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Last Sunday, Trish and I had our wedding vows reaffirmed in the Catholic Church. We did not do this because we needed to be accepted by the Church. We did it as a symbol of our acceptance of the Church in our lives.

We go to church about once a month. Trish goes a lot more often than that. I usually end up on my bike communing with nature on the greenway in Nashville while she rattles off a few prayers at Mass. She gets what she needs and I get what I need.

But in the process of doing that, I met Father Joe Breen. Here is a priest who has actively fought for liberal causes throughout his career in the Catholic Church. He has been criticized mightily for his stand on divorce, Communion and gay politics. Most intelligent Catholics felt that they had a strong ally fighting for them in Father Joe. The conservatives kept trying to silence him. Thank God that the new pope has validated this great man.

I go to church mostly to affirm Trish. I go to support her belief system. I go to give her hope and validation. There are times when I sing along or pray along but mostly I use the time for introspection. I have had to do a lot of that lately. Many of my dreams have come true in one way or the other. But financial peace has plumb evaded me.

I have always been careful with money. That is not the issue. If you could come visit me in my little condo you would see just how frugal I have been. But the crash of 2008 left deep scars in my cash box. We lost our life's savings and fell into debt as both of us drifted from job to job. We still struggle with income despite working three jobs between us.

I work six days a week and sometimes seven. You would think that I could sock away a lot of cash doing that but it barely pays the bills. And we are trying hard to pay back 17 thousand dollars worth of medical bills in the process. Fortunately, I bought the condo on a 15 year note and we are nearing the end of that payout. But in the process we have let a lot of house maintenance issues stack up. Our cars are nearly twenty years old. Our garden window is leaking like a sieve. The carpet is almost completely worn out and the attic needs insulation. Add badly fogged front windows to that and the debt soars beyond 30 thousand.

So we just keep our heads down, working as hard as we can, grateful for every minute of leisure time we get with each other. And all the while, retirement looms less that ten years away. I will have to work well beyond 65 years of age just to pay off the debt. Then I hope to have no house note. Even Medicare seems impossibly expensive. It will probably cost us more than the current house note just to carry the Medicare supplements. So it looks like dog food and frigid winters ahead.

We fell out of the middle class and we are not alone. Not by a long shot. America has lost its sense of decency. It has embraced greed and vilification of the poor. And as a result, the middle class has begun to disappear. What's worse is that economists predict a dire future as the boomers weigh down the system with their health care needs and the medical moguls line their pockets with the last few dollars we have.

So my last big hope is that my writing may save the day. I am writing a book that is unlike anything you have ever read. It is as much a philosophy for saving America as it is a novel about our future and a prediction about the economy. I will leak bits of it as I write it. But I will also return to this blog periodically to let you guys note the progress. There is a slim chance I can still save myself and my wonderful wife. Hang with us.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fundamentalism Runs in the Family:

Fundamentalists often attack Catholics because they don't use the bible as their primary teaching resource. Of course, any objective examination of that “fact” proves that it is laughable. Although Catholics do not obsess over ancient irrelevant passages, Catholics lace all of their rituals with heavy doses of Biblical wisdom.

My fundamentalist friends have a very real sense of loyalty. They are loyal to their families. They are loyal to their tribe. Fundamentalist beliefs are tied in with familial love. They confuse their admiration for their parents or spouses with their faith. And their parents often make the acceptance of their faith a condition of their love. They make independent religious thought virtually impossible.

So how can a loyal child possibly spurn the faith of a beloved parent? That parent or spouse needs desperately to see their religious ideas confirmed by their family. It is a warm, safe cocoon for them. It is little wonder, therefore, that ancient beliefs survive beyond the logical confines of progress.

What ends up happening is an accidental partitioning of the brain. The religion centers are sequestered from the practical ones. This creates a tug of war between logic and fundamentalism.

Bright children will eventually realize that Santa Claus is a ruse. But they will also willingly participate in this deception because of the promise of reward. The same thing happens when logic tells them they are mortal but tribalism promises them immortality. Not only is it best not to make waves in the family, choosing fundamentalism promises a huge reward!

The bright child sees no future in straying from the belief system of the tribe, so sharing doubt with another family member becomes impossible. The very act of praying about this dilemma reinforces self delusion. The brain is seeking harmony so it settles back. The natural philosophical curiosity about immortality is thus suppressed.

There is no better example of this familial coercion than the yoking metaphor. Couples are warned that both must believe fully in the program so that they behave as a team, like evenly yoked oxen. In this way, they insure that the bloodline will remain inbred and free of “dangerous” ideas.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I am sure of how the future will unfold. I am impatient to see it happen. I will be long dead before it does. But I am no less sure of it.

The world will change and certain things will happen despite all efforts to stop them. Religious superstition will give way to spiritual enlightenment. Hell, heaven and salvation will be relics of ancient wilting texts. Logic, kindness and the search for truth will eventually subvert the sick minded ideas of our past.

Science and religion will complement each other. The tug of war will become an undulating tide of heart and reason.

Solar technology will eventually make all other power sources needlessly expensive and dangerous. We will learn to make our own electricity in our own homes without a need for centralized power systems. And it will be very very cheap.

Fossil fuels will be nearly eliminated and relegated exclusively for the manufacture of plastics.

Nuclear technology will be all but abandoned as the economic issues become better known.

Progressive politics will eventually be shown to make the most fiscally sound economic platform. Unions will be protected and reformed. Workers will be given wages that are fair and corporations will be forced to embrace an ethical existence. The gap between the rich and poor will shrink as more and more corporations become centers of interdependence. Capitalism and socialism will merge into a kinder, more ethical system of wealth accumulation.

Mass transit will replace automobiles as the dominant form of movement. Government will return to taxing the rich as disproportionately as the rich exploit their workers.

All of this will happen as sure as the sun rises every morning. But I wonder why it has to take so long. If only the people who cling to the past would just let go of their superstitions and prejudices, life would be so much easier so much sooner.

So as long as I live, I will rail against those who champion the rich, mock the poor and glorify capitalism in the name of a Nazarene who would be disgusted by their actions. I will always fight for the little guy. And I will do so without tolerance for backward thinking, avowedly ignorant people.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Are you in sales? Jesus, I am so sorry. Let me ask you something. Is it not the shittiest and the greatest job in the world? I mean don't you love calling someone and pretending to chitchat......

Hello? Elmer? It's Rod. Yeah …. again....hey I just thought of somethin...

(then you scramble around with your notes looking for some small talk topic that Elmer loves to talk about)

You know the last time we talked ( You find something scribbled on a pad that looks like bball.)
Seems like you told me you were a huge basketball fan.

Long pause.

I mean baseball fan. What? What? Oh yeah! Bocci ball! How could I forget that? I knew that.

Did I tell you about my New York.....oh.....I did.

Yes yes yes I understand.....I'm busy too! (They tell you to say you're busy even tho you've been trying to chitchat aimlessly and he knows this is a fucking sales call)

Huh? No, hell no. This is NOT a sales call. (They tell you to lie about it as if the guy on the other end is a complete moron.)

Definitely NOT!

Huh? Why was I calling? Uh......I was wondering if we could get together for some coffee..... on me!
(They always tell you that coffee saves if they are incapable of having coffee without sitting across from a fucking salesman....and the whole “I'm buyin'" shit is supposed to disarm them.)

What? don't drink coffee......well how don't drink tea either. Why do I want to meet with you?  Uh....

Now you really are desperate, having hauled out the ace card, the coffee card. Your instinct is to fold but for some reason you hang on,,,,,hoping for divine inspiration.

Is there some kind of bocci channel on TV? No? I see. Well there sure as hell should be one don't you think? ….... No No Definitely NOT a sales call.

So when can we get together?

What do you mean “what for?” Suddenly, you go off script.

Pussy man! I need a wing man. Huh? What? You are? Oh I'm so sorry. I didn't mean....No, I had no idea......who? Me? Why would you think? ….... Oh......OH! Yeah. I get it. Yeah. I am so sorry.
Yeah. Hey I understand.
You have to get big deal. Hey before you go could I ask one more question? Do you mind if I check back in a week or two.....(click)

How do you like that! The sonofabitch hung up on me!

Let me tell you something. Salesmen do not think you are stupid. Sales managers think you are stupid. They think everybody is stupider than they are. They are narcissistic egotistical megalomaniacs. They write these ridiculous scripts for you because they think their way is the only way.....despite the fact that every fucking salesman uses the same lame script every fucking time he calls someone. And they have been to a hundred sales seminars that sell the same baloney to the same gullible sales managers hoping to get rich off the same old, brand new, never before revealed high pressure sales techniques. Guaranteed!

Such incredible assholes!

Now don't get me wrong. I have a manager that does not believe this horse shit. He is a great guy and his team is outperforming all the others who try to use that horse shit. But he is the exception to this rule. He is a genuinely nice guy and he has lots of customers who buy from him because they trust him. And they trust him because he doesn't shovel horse shit. But believe me....he is the exception to the rule.

Which brings me to my theory of selling.  Here it is.  You ready?  Get them to like you by being straight with them.  Answer their questions directly.  Don't obfuscate.  (Look it up, asshole!)

Take a genuine interest and commiserate with their hardships.........

Monday, September 9, 2013

Syria and Peace

I haven't written in the blog for a long time. I have been trying hard to make a living, working two and three jobs at a time and helping Trish as much as possible. Lately, I have been itching to get back to it and the turmoil over Syria is a good place to start.

If you believe, as I do, that America should stop trying to be number one all the time and find a little humility, you are unwilling to allow our politicians to get us into another war. As a staunch supporter of President Obama, I am reluctant to say this, but it is true. We have no business whatsoever going into Syria. Obama is wrong on this issue.

Much to my surprise, there are millions of Republicans who have suddenly found their consciences and converted to the Christian view of peace! I would feel extremely happy for them if I didn't also believe that they are hypocrites..changing their views to make it impossible for Obama to act decisively. I never saw a war that Republicans didn't love until this one. So excuse me while I scoff at their new found meekness.

However, I wish everyone would stop and think for a moment. Imagine what the outcome would have been if France and Germany decided to intervene in America's civil war. I doubt it would have made a bit of difference. We still would have continued killing one another until their was a decisive military victory. Nobody could have stopped us from having our war. So what makes us think we can influence the war in Syria? Or Egypt? Or Libya?

We need to take a lesson from the fictional members of the Federation in Star Trek and keep our hands out of the affairs of distant worlds with less advanced civilizations.

I love you, President Obama, but you are dead wrong about intervening in Syria. Dead Wrong!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The following is a script I am writing which will be integrated into Fallen Catholic.  The formatting is messed up.  That will be fixed when it is formatted to publish.

The Atheist and the Priest

A Catholic Priest comes to a crossroads in his life when his bishop retires him early because of his liberal ideas. His life-long friend, an atheist, comes to his aid. As the story progresses we learn that the atheist, Mick, has a truly great love for his wife and that his priest friend, Sean, has turned his back on his chance for happiness with a good woman. Sean moves in and we begin to see how both men are tortured. But it isn’t until Mick’s daughter comes to visit that we realize that Mick has been living a fantasy; that his wife has been dead for months. The two men must confront their demons and find a way to go forward.


Father SEAN SULLIVAN walks into MICK BURNS’ horse barn. SEAN is a thin, good looking man in his 50s. MICK is a stubby, unkempt man in his 50s. MICK recognizes his old friend but ignores him as he walks in. MICK is smoking, putting up the tack as SEAN walks in. They trade insults…


You still fooling around with your clients’ wives?


(without looking up)

You still molestin’ 10 year old boys?

All the friendly ribbing and hugging ensues and MICK throws a muckrake at SEAN.


Make yourself useful. How long has it been since you’ve done any honest work?

SEAN sets it aside.


Got any whiskey?


Oh shit. One of those talks.

They stare at each other after SEAN digs the bourbon out of a dirty desk drawer. He pours the whiskey into a coffee cup…a dirty one.


Okay, go ahead, I know you’re dying to ask.


I only have one question. Just one.”


The answer is no.


How do you know what the question is?

They stare at the floor.


No, they didn’t find out about RUTH? Or no, they didn’t fire you.

They smile at each other.


Best woman in the whole damn world and you pissed all over her.

SEAN gulps down the bourbon and pours another. MICK gets up and starts dancing around.

MICK feigns an Irish brogue.


Well if you’ve come to ask me opinion. I’m sure gonna have to tink about dat one for a minute.

Sure as peaches I am.

MICK waits for an anwer. No answer. MICK pours another whiskey for himself. Looks at SEAN with a scowl. Downs the liquor.


How are you, Mick? Are you okay?


Never better! Hey let me call Elizabeth and tell her you’re here. She’ll fix up a nice supper.

(yelling out the door)

Hey Elizabeth. Sean’s come to see us! Elizabeth?

SEAN has a sad look on his face.


Look, Mick, I need some time to lick my wounds. I need to think.


(tosses his cigarette, gets up and grabs a feed bucket)

What's to think about? Marry Ruth and ditch the church. If you wanna hang around here

for a few months it's okay with me. I know Elizabeth will be thrilled. She thinks your shit

don't stink. Speakin' of which, you need to ditch that collar and shovel horseshit for a while if

you wanna hang out here. I need a hand. You up to workin' for me? Room and board and

all the pleasures of bein’ with your best friend. Damn. I wish somebody would offer me that



I’d rather work in the salt mines.


(grabbing a halter off its nail)

There's a mare in the meadow up front. Bring her in and take those two bales of hay out to

the arena. The keys are in the four wheeler.

(tosses the harness)

You CAN tell the difference between a gelding and a mare.

SEAN looks at the harness and smiles. He pours another whiskey and downs it before heading out the door.


SEAN fumbles with the halter, putting it on the horse upside down.

WE CUT to a wide shot, SEAN, in the distance, struggling with the halter. A car drives up in the foreground. Our POV is waste down. The wheel of the car stops full frame and we hear someone get out of the car. As she steps into frame we BOOM up and see MARY BETH for the first time, a beautiful young woman in her early twenties. Large eyes, jet black hair, tight jeans and a half buttoned shirt. She peers out into the field and waves. WE cut to SEAN’s POV and see her waving. The horse walks away. WE SEE her get onto the four wheeler and start it.



Need some help?


Mary Beth?

MARY BETH guns it and heads out towards SEAN. WE CUT to a shot of MARY BETH’S HANDS deftly placing the halter on the horse. WE PAN to a CU of her face as she talks.


He’s already got you out here workin’? How long you been here? Why did you park the 4 wheeler so

far away?


Less than ten minutes...not counting the time it took to get out here and realize I didn’t know

what I was doing.


He’s gonna have a lot of fun bustin’ your balls.

They hug. They start to walk the horse back to the gate, leaving the 4 wheeler behind.


God it’s good to see you. You are so pretty. Look at you!


I got away for a few days. Tommy got a gig in Murfreesboro.


He still in school?


Finishes his internship in May.


Then what?


How the hell should I know?


That mouth. God it’s good to see you. How is your Dad?

SHE looks out back toward the barn. Her mood suddenly darkens.


(with a deep sigh)

A lot worse.

She stops and looks back toward the barn, thinking for a beat then looks down at the ground.


It’s scary, Sean.

MARY BETH leads the horse and points back at the 4 wheeler. SEAN runs back and hops on. He comes next to MARY BETH and she gets on sideways while holding the halter.

They drive slowly back. She reaches over and kisses him on the cheek.

WE CUT to MICK’S perspective. WE see him dab his brow with a handkerchief as he watches them from a distance. He drives a post hole digger into the ground. We see him watch them for a few seconds before returning to his work. The ground is very hard and the post hole digger barely makes way in the rocky clay soil.


A small garden trowel works the rich black soil. ELIZABETH is thin and attractive with big green eyes and full lips. We can see that she must have been a stunning woman when she was younger. A kitten lounges nearby. Birds frequent the feeder, gold finches feed upside down. A robin fluffs its wings at the bird bath. ELIZABETH is wearing blue jeans and a brightly colored blouse. She has a red scarf on her head.


Hey Mick! Could you get me some water?



MICK walks into the house and returns with a glass of water.




I spit in it.


That’s nice.


I spit in it after I stuck my dick in it.


(takes a long drink)

Tasty dickwater. The spit really takes the edge off. Makes a nice oaky flavor.


You aren’t wearing any panties, are you?


Now, let’s watch our mouth, Micky. We don’t want the neighbors to hear that kind of language

coming from my garden. Would you like to sit down here and join me?




That’s nice. You can plant to the left of the stepping stones and I’ll handle the right side.


I don’t want to. I hate you.


Don’t worry. You’ll get over it. Now hurry up and get moving or I’m going to get the fly swatter

and wear you out.


Okay. Let me get my britches off.

ELIZABETH puts down the shovel and stands up, putting her hands on her hips.


You are a nasty boy.



He crouches down in a wrestling stance and hops around her.


Come on, ya pussy. I’ll wrestle ya and put you in a hold you won’t be able to break.

She starts to laugh as they lock up and hop around. He growls, reaches for her leg and she screams. He laughs and lets go and then lays on the ground and laughs while she pummels him.

SCENE 4 EXT. Day - The field next to the barn.

We return to the yard, present day, as MICK continues to pound away with the post hole digger. He pauses and stares at the ground. Then he returns to digging. MARY BETH and SEAN walk up.

MICK hugs his daughter and offers a shovel to SEAN.


What brings you home? Out of money again?


I love you too, Dad.

SEAN gives MARY a knowing look.


So what? You two think I can’t see those sneaky looks? Are you still in love with my daughter?

SEAN smiles.


You still hangin’ on to that asshole God of yours, FATHER Sean?




Just let him say it.


Did I ever give you my holocaust theory, Shamus? So here’s the thing. You’re God and you have a

an affinity for a certain group of people, we’ll call them....oh I don’t ‘bout calling them your chosen ones? And just for the sake of clarity, let’s call them Jews. Okay?

SEAN is digging with more and more purpose.


Now stay with me. Let’s say there’s a war and your chosen people are suffering terribly at the hands of an evil shithead named Adolf. Let’s just imagine 6 million of your favorite folks wallowing in

poverty and crawling in their own excrement. Now picture this. Every day they get down on their

knees and pray to you, oh God, to save them from their misery. But you are too busy with more

important details elsewhere to even give them a short explanation of your perspective.


I am not standing here.

MARY BETH turns and walks toward the house.


Not only do you refuse to answer their prayers in any way that is meaningful, you watch as your buddy Adolf systematically starves them to death. If you believe in that God then I don’t have any respect for your messed up religion. Your God is a sadistic bastard. He doesn’t pass the smell test for decency. Now please. Enlighten me, Father. Tell me how anyone can find love in their hearts for an asshole like that?


Why do you always have to blaspheme when you talk about religion? Can’t you keep a civil tongue

in that mouth of yours? Jesus, Mick. Can’t you show just a little bit of respect for the collar I am



No hell no. I have no respect for that notch. I have respect only for you. You Christians neatly forget that atheists do not share your ideas about blasphemy. And I wonder why a smart

guy like you believes those lies.


(still walking away, saying this only to herself)

Maybe it’s because you are so much smarter than the rest of us.


Faith, Mick.


Faith. You know what Mark Twain said about faith? Faith is believing in something....


That’s not true. Faith is believing in something that ain’t true. I know. Hell Mick.

What do you want me to do? I can’t just turn my back on all the people who believe...


Believe? Believe in you? Or in God? Jesus Sean! Are you going to throw your only chance to be

happy away? Just so your people won’t be disappointed? Just so the God you barely believe in is

satisfied? You have no idea what it means to love someone. No idea. And you wanna

know why? You wanna know why you don’t have a clue what it means to love someone?

Huh? Huh? Because you have no idea what it means to BE loved. And you know why you have

no idea what it means to BE loved, Father? Because the God you love doesn’t love you. And as long

as he is your ideal love, you will never know true love because HE DOESN’T EXIST.

MICK throws down the post hole digger and sits on the ground. He begins to weep. SEAN keeps digging for a few seconds. MICK continues to weep bitterly. SEAN goes back to digging in earnest. He walks over to console MICK but MICK shoos him away. SEAN drops his shovel and takes off his shirt and collar.

WE CUT to an extreme wide shot of the two men as seen from the farmhouse over Mary Beth’s shoulder. WE CUT TO a close up of MARY BETH. She stands at the kitchen door with tears in her eyes.

SCENE 5 INTERIOR. NIGHT - In the kitchen. It is a large kitchen with lots of pots and pans and friendly country decor. There is a large kitchen table and MICK, MARY BETH and SEAN sit around drinking beer from bottles. There are scraps of food on the table.


So Dad gives me the keys and kisses me on the forehead and I tell him I won’t be too late. But I go

out with my buds and we start having fun and before too long it’s getting really late. Now I knew that

Dad was cool with me staying out but I didn’t want him to worry. So I rushed home without calling

hoping that I wouldn’t wake him or Elizabeth when I got home.


Yeah, and I hear her come in the door and in my half awake stupor did not remember giving her the

keys. So I hear all this noise coming from downstairs and I froze. All I can think of is that somebody

is breaking in my house. And then I pick up a pillow to protect myself.



Yeah. He’s up at the top of the stairs with this pillow. And I see him walk to the first step with

this wild look on his face.


And as I get to the top of the stairs, I see something move at the bottom of the stairs in the dark.

And I just about shit my pants. All I can get out is a shaky, “Who are you!”

All three start laughing.


Yeah, he’s standing there shaking like a little girl with this pillow, holding it at me like a weapon

and he says, “Who are you?” So I say, “Dad! It’s me! Mary Beth! You can drop your pillow!”


Even when she started talking, my brain was still half asleep. And I could not get a focus. Then

I suddenly realize who it is and I try to when you realize you have made

a fool of yourself and you try to act nonchalant? Well I tried to be completely calm and act like I

wasn’t scared. But I knew I didn’t sell it because Beth starts laughing.


And then Elizabeth calls out from the bedroom and says, “Honey? Are you okay?”


And Beth says, “He’s okay, Liz. He’s got the pillow!


And Dad comes unglued and nearly falls

down the steps laughing. Then Liz gets out of the bed and sees me and Dad laying on the stairs

laughing and I was laughing so hard I started crying. Oh my God. And Liz stands there with her

hands on her hips and in that real high voice she uses when she’s excited she says, “What are you two


MICK starts laughing uncontrollably.


Oh no. Here he goes again.

MICK laughs and everyone follows suit. He rolls on the floor. Then he turns on his back and suddenly stops laughing. He covers his face. MARY BETH and SEAN look at each other.


I loved her so much. She was Dad’s guardian angel.


I heard that.

SCENE 6 FLASHBACK Interior Kitchen. MICK AND ELIZABETH sit at the kitchen table together. ELIZABETH puts some potatoes on MICK’S plate then she bows her head and takes his hand in hers.


Dear God, we thank you for another day. We pray that you bless this food and our marriage. We...


And we pray that you stop worrying about silly shits like us and pay attention to what’s going on in

Afghanistan for crying out loud.


And we pray that you forgive Dad for his language and teach him to be more tolerant. We also thank

you for letting us find each other.


Amen to that.

MICK pulls her closer and buries his face in her neck, kissing her.


This is a beautiful meal, Lizzy. You really did a good job. Damn you’re pretty.


Did you think I wouldn’t find it?


What porn?


I didn’t say anything about porn. What possessed you to hide it in under the mattress?


What porn?


Why are you so nasty?


Because you like it nasty?


I’m being serious. That stuff hurts me, Micky.

MICK stirs his tea with his finger.


Okay. I’ll never look at porn again. I swear to God. I’ll put my dick in a jar so you can keep it

away from me when you aren’t around. I might miss it for a few days but then my Alzheimers will

will kick in and it will all be nothing but a faint memory. My name will be Ken. Just call me smoothy.


Not funny.


Look, honey. I love you more than anything on this earth. But I am a good man. I am faithful to

you. I never look at another woman....real real life. But the point is I cannot be a woman.

I want you to be a woman. And I will always be a man. My other wives didn’t understand that. They

thought they could cut off my dick and use me like a door mat. They thought they could tell me what

to do and when to do it. But you don’t try that shit. You understand me. You want me to be a man.

That is why you married me. I don’t understand why your idea of sex is so narrow. You don’t

understand porn. The difference between our marriage and other people’s marriages is that you don’t try to change those things and I don’t try to change the things that make you so wonderful. I am not

going to stop being a man. Just don’t try to change that and we will do great.


It still hurts.

They stare at the table and continue eating for a moment.


Find a better hiding place.


I can do that.


You are so nasty.


I love you too.

SCENE 7 INTERIOR DAY - SEAN is at a church. It is a large, ornate old Catholic church. A nun is kneeling in one of the pews. A group of old ladies are cleaning the floor and polishing the pews. A beautiful woman comes in and sits down next to him. She is a middle aged red head with a curvy figure wearing blue jeans.



What are you doing?


(in a whisper)

I came to make a confession, father.


Jesus, Ruth.


Is it okay to confess a sin if you know you are gonna do it again as soon as possible?


I cannot do this.

One of the old ladies looks up from her chores and peers at SEAN.



You have to leave now.

(then conspicuously loud)

Thanks, Ruth. You can talk to Sister Mary Ellen about those new missals.

She makes all those decisions.

The old lady looks knowingly at the other.


Come on Ruth. Get out of here.



How long do you think this is going to last?


Not now.


No now. How long do you think I can wait for you to find your balls?

An old lady walks up from behind and hears this last part. We see the shock registering on her face.


(turning to the back in the pew)

Oh, Miss Patsy. Have you met Mrs. Walters?


It is a pleasure, Miss Patsy. Father SEAN was just talking to me about the basketball team. Are

you a basketball fan, Ma’am?

There is a long pause.


Is there something I can do for you, Miss Patsy?

Another awkward pause.


Miss Patsy?


Father, is it alright if I ask Sister Agnes to be on our quilt team. I heard she was looking for

something to do with her time.


Well that is a fine idea. She just seems lost once the chrysanthemums die off. Winter is a hard time

for her. Don’t you agree?

RUTH reaches into SEAN’S crotch as she says the word “hard.” SEAN flinches.


Winter is hard on a lot of us, Miss Ruth. Do you think I could maybe join too?


(ignoring RUTH)

Have a good day, Father.


Thank-you. Please give my best to Paul, would you?

MISS PATSY looks at SEAN, then eyes RUTH, then walks away muttering. RUTH begins to snicker.


I am dead. I am a dead man. Thanks Ruthie. Thanks so much.

MISS PATSY stops and turns back.


You better hope he doesn’t.

RUTH and SEAN look at each other then at MISS PATSY.


Doesn’t what, Miss Patsy?


Find his balls.

She smirks and turns away.

SEAN puts his hand on his forehead. RUTH’S mouth drops then she stifles a laugh.

SCENE 8 EXT. - The pasture at Mick’s house. Mick is cinching the girth and teaching MARY BETH a few fine points.


Now look, this is not that mare you used to ride. This horse will work you like a marionette if you don’t

ride her. Can you handle her?

MARY BETH kicks and clicks and off goes the horse leaving Mick in a puff of dust.


Goddammit. Keep her under 60!

WE ride along with MARY BETH as the hooves pound the soft grass and she settles into a fast gallop.


Come on baby. Let’s see what you got.

As she kicks the horse and whips it’s rump with her reins, the camera dollies back and cranes up following in a helicopter shot that widens to show the beautiful countryside.

MICK runs over to the barn and runs inside. He comes out a few seconds later on the four wheeler. He goes after MARY BETH. We see in a wide shot that he is hopelessly far from her. It is a beautiful shot close to sunset and we see a glow around her as she runs off into the distance. The dog, Faust, leads the chase.

WE CUT back to a close shot of MICK flying across the bumpy field on the four wheeler.


Goddammit. STOP!

MARY BETH has a big smile on her face. She takes off her hat and swirls it around her head like a cowboy then puts it back on. It promptly flies off and blows to the ground.


Yeeeee Haaaa!

SCENE 9 EXT. Inside the barn.

Mary Beth pulls off the saddle as Mick broods, drink in hand, staring at the floor.



MICK stares at the floor.


Daddy. Look.

MICK puts his hand up in the air. He downs the last of his drink and puts the dirty coffee cup on the window sill. He walks into the stall and examines the horse.

MARY BETH follows him.


I know. I know. I am sorry. But I never got a chance to ride a horse like that before. I never got a

chance to ride such a wonderful horse. How can you be mad at me? Really.

MICK puts a rope around the horse’s neck and leads him out of the stall and over to the washing stall. MARY BETH stands still, the bridle in her hand. He lifts a halter and puts it on the horse, then snaps the ties to the lead ropes. With the horse teathered from both sides, he fetches the hose and starts dousing him in water.


I promise. I will never do that again. I promise, Daddy.


You don’t have to promise. You won’t ever get another chance to ride this horse. So don’t bother.

MICK continues to wash the horse and MARY BETH storms out of the barn, hurling the bridle against the wall. She passes SEAN as she stomps toward the house. SEAN stops and watches her for a moment then turns his attention to the barn. He walks into the barn and sits in a dirty director’s chair just outside the stall where MICK is washing down his horse.

There is a long silence while MICK works.


What was that?

MICK ignores the question.


Mick! What the hell?

No answer.


Look Mick, we have to have a talk. We need to talk about … all …..all this shit.

WE CUT to a close shot of MICK who seems to be completely unable to hear anything. He works as if no one is in the barn.


I … I... I need to talk to you about....about....Liz.

MICK stops working and stares at SEAN. He walks over to the spigot and turns it off. He picks up a squeegee and starts to rake it across the horse’s back.


Liz is dead, MICK. She is gone. You know that. Right. I mean I don’t want to sound harsh but

there it is. She died six months ago and you are still acting like she’s over there at the house cooking

dinner for all of us. She’s gone, Mick. She’s gone.

MICK stares blankly into space.


Is there something I can help you with?

SEAN watches as MICK puts down the squeegee and walks over to him. MICK stands over SEAN menacingly. He kicks the chair out from under SEAN. As SEAN recovers and picks himself up, MICK reaches down and picks up SEAN’S hat. He hands it to SEAN.


Is there anything else?

SEAN dusts himself off and walks out of the barn. WE linger on the shot, a silhouette of SEAN walking out of the barn and into the sunlight.

SCENE 10 The kitchen table. Dirty dishes lie about. MICK gets up from the table. MARY BETH puts up her hand. SEAN gets up and walks over to a stool that sits next to the sink.


Daddy. I need you to sit down for a minute.

MICK looks over at SEAN.


Don’t worry, Sugar. I won’t hold no grudge. You’re forgiven. But I meant what I said.


Please Daddy. Sit down and shut up.

MICK’S eyes narrow but he obliges grudgingly.


We need you to stop this shit about Liz. It is fucking you up.


No need to beat around the bush. Just spit it out.

MICK glares at SEAN. SEAN smiles stupidly and waves gingerly ala Stan Laurel.


I’ve got horses to feed. Did you put her up to this?

SEAN looks around and points to himself as if to say, “Who me?”


Goddammit Daddy. You gotta climb up out of that hole while there’s still someone reaching down to

help you. I cannot take this.

MICK tries to get around her but she steps in his way. He slowly pushes her out of the way, taking care not to hurt her.


Running away, mate?

MICK stops in his tracks.


I thought you were a tough guy. Why are you running away?

MICK picks up a plate and hurls it against the wall. SEAN has to duck to keep from being hit,


Missed. Maybe you should get your shotgun.


Maybe you should shut your mouth.

MICK walks over to SEAN and tries to grab him. SEAN sidesteps him and he falls on the floor. The melee that ensues is strangely funny.

He jumps up and attacks SEAN, grabbing his shirt and slamming him against the wall. MARY BETH jumps into the fray, slapping MICK on the back. WE CUT to an exterior shot of the stoop next to the kitchen door. We can hear the commotion in the kitchen. We see the bare legs and sandals of a woman stepping up to the door. Then we cut back inside.


Stop it. Stop. Stop it, Daddy.

They spin around the room knocking down chairs. We CUT BACK OUTSIDE to a shot of the door as a female hand raps on it. But with all the noise inside, it is clear that no one hears the knock. WE CUT back inside as they continue to struggle.


Let him be, Beth. He won’t hurt me. Get away.

Suddenly, MICK stops. Everybody relaxes. MARY BETH takes a deep breath. MICK lets go of SEAN and turns towards MARY BETH. She punches him in the nose.


Ow! Jesus Christ! Why’d you have to do that?


Stop. Everybody just relax. Let’s all just calm down.


It’s bleeding. Goddammit Sean. She broke my nose.

MARY BETH winces and lurches for the sink. She starts the water and opens the fridge, pulling out the ice tray.


I’m so sorry, Daddy. I’m so sorry.


Wow. Can I play?

Everyone stops and looks at the door. Ruth stands with her hand still on the knob.


What did I miss?

Mary Beth rushes over to greet RUTH. SEAN stands back sheepishly.

MICK walks over and hugs her and BETH squeals with delight, kissing her repeatedly. RUTH keeps her eyes on SEAN as everyone fawns over her.

SCENE 11 INT. - The kitchen table.


So I grabbed Bootsie and a couple of pairs of jeans and said good-bye to Bowling Green.


It is so weird that we both ended up here at the same time.


(mocking SEAN)

Ooo! So weird.


What has got you two after each other’s throats?


These two are conspiring against me.


Bullshit paranoid crap.

(winking at RUTH)

Anybody wanna play Trivial Pursuit?

RUTH picks up on the hint.


Oh man! That would be so much fun! Mary Beth and me will take you guys.


What the fuck? You just got here.


I’ll go get the board.

MARY BETH runs out of the room and returns with a game box.




(walking over to the fridge)

Wanna beer, Mick? Ruth? Beth?


Wait. Jesus.

SEAN tosses a beer to MICK, who nearly misses. He hands a beer to RUTH and they stare at each other for a moment. Then he kisses her on the cheek. She seems to be holding back.


It’s good to see you.



She stares at him and narrows her eyes.


You’re wasting your time, Ruthie. That dog won’t hunt. He’s been fixed.


Shut up, Dad. Haven’t you done enough harm for one day? He is so clueless.


What have I done? Oh yeah, I thrusted my nose against your downy soft fist.

SCENE 12: INT. - The Barn at Night FLASHBACK

SEAN and RUTH sit in the tack room. RUTH is wrapped in a blanket. SEAN pours a cup of coffee.


Why are you a priest?


Why are you a biologist?


Because I believe I can make a big difference doing my job.


There you have it. Could not have said it better.


(taking a sip of coffee and reaching for the whiskey)

You don’t believe what you are selling.


(after thinking for a moment, walking over to the door)

I don’t look at it that way.

RUTH stares at him, expecting more.


Most priests don’t believe what the Bible says. Most of the smart ones anyway. The Bible is

the very smallest part of why I am a priest. The Bible is just like any ancient text. It is just as

full of bullshit as it is full of wisdom. Trouble is, you can’t separate the good from the bad. It’s

a lot like any other book you might read. But the people who focus on that don’t understand

people like me. People like me are not here to answer questions. We are here for something

far more important. We are here to help people let go of their fears.


You do not really believe that, Sean. You cannot tell me you really believe that.


Ruth, there are very few things I know for sure. But that one I am sure about. And that is what

I live for. That is why I am sitting here right now.


Whose fear are you trying to get rid of? Mine or yours?

SEAN stares down into his coffee.


Mine. I am trying to find a way to do what I was sent here to do. And I am not even sure that I

have a firm grasp on that. But, Ruthie, you and I are on a parallel course. Your compassion

is palpable. You care about people. You nurture them every day of your life. I wish to do that

too. But I also have to protect them. It isn’t enough for me to feed their bodies. I have to find a way to get to their hearts. I have to find a way to help them find their own sense of purpose.

And sometimes they spend their entire lives avoiding the very thing that will give them the

satisfaction they crave. Sometimes they spend so much time being successful that they lose sight

of the fact that they are not here to help themselves. They must accept that they are primarily here to help others. If they can embrace altruism. If they can escape their most selfish desires, they can be of enormous service to those less fortunate.

(He stares at her.)

I want to make a difference. I want to be able to say I helped someone, anyone get to a better life.


You have no idea why you are sitting here, do you?

RUTH gets up and walks across the room away from SEAN. She closes the door and walks slowly back over.


You are here to make love to me. That is why you are here. That is why I am here. But

you are so afraid to act, you sit there frozen like a damn teenager, afraid to kiss me.


I am not afraid to kiss you. I am afraid that if I kiss you, I will never stop kissing you.

SEAN drops his coffee and kisses RUTH. They squeeze each other passionately and hold each other’s faces in their hands. RUTH begins to take her shirt off. SEAN tries to stop her. They struggle with each other before they return to kissing. RUTH begins to cry. SEAN touches her tears with his lips.

He begins to remove her shirt and holds her breasts in his hands. He kisses them and they embrace.

WE CUT TO A CLOSE SHOT of the wood stove in the corner of the room. The fire flickers through the tiny louvres in the doors. We SEE their shadows playing against the wall as the light dances across them. WE FADE.

SCENE 13 INT. - Kitchen


Dr. Kildare.




That’s it. That’s the right one. Richard Chamberlain. Right?


That is absolutely correct. Roll again.


Who the hell is Richard Chamberlain?


Jesus Christ, Beth. Are you that young? Remember? The Thornbirds?

MARY BETH pretends to remember.


The priest who fell in love. And the woman who could never love another. Sickening.


I thought he was the sexiest man alive.


Oh! The cardinal! Right? The guy who was in love with a ranch lady. Oh my God he was so

beautiful. Usually men that pretty are gay.


Jesus, Mary!


He was a red blooded pervert. A disgusting lustful sinner, like me pard, Sean. Eh bro?


That’s exactly right. I am the the worst scumbag I ever met.


That’s my man.

MARY BETH gets up and goes to the fridge.


Anybody want another?


Just bring Mick two. Save a trip.


Ruthie you have no idea how badly I have missed you.


(passing him a beer from MARY BETH)

I live to serve you.

(she grabs his neck and kisses him on the lips then smacks her lips as if tasting the kiss)

Ah yes, the familiar taint of skank beer and potato chips.


What do you mean? My breath is sweet as a baby’s breath. Ask Lizzy.

(he calls out)


Lizzy? What the hell is keeping her?

Everyone stops and looks at Ruth.




(She hustles Ruth out of her chair)

Hey Ruthie, I’ve gotta show you something. Get up.


What the fuck?


Come on, get up.

RUTH is baffled. She is lead away to another room.


(looking around, confused)

Did you fart?


Of course. Don’t I always fart at the most awkward moments? Remember that sermon

I gave on creative farting?

SEAN gets up and starts rifling through the cabinets.


Where are the Cheetos. You always have Cheetos.

(finds a half eaten bag)


SEAN opens the bag and grabs a handful. Then sits back down. MICK reaches for the bag but SEAN pulls it out of reach.


Get your own.


Those ARE mine.


Not any more.

SCENE 14 EXT. Night. A flashback

A moonlit lake surrounded by trees and rocks. Ruth takes off her clothes as SEAN watches.

She looks back at him before jumping in.


(half whispering)

Come on!

SEAN smiles but stays in place. He watches as she swims about in the crystal clear water. She swims back to him and reaches up for him.


Ruthie, we can't do this. There are campers all over the place. We are going to get caught.

RUTH swims away thrusting her ass high up in the air as she swims. SEAN smiles then takes a

deep breath and starts to pull off his clothes. Just as he gets his pants off, someone approaches.

SEAN has to jump into the water with his socks still on.

A young couple walk over to the shoreline across from where SEAN has entered the water.

The begin to kiss passionately, removing their clothes as they go. SEAN sneaks over to RUTH

and they watch the two lovers embrace. RUTH begins to kiss SEAN and they abandon themselves to their instincts. Suddenly the young couple in the distance freeze and look towards SEAN and RUTH. They realize they are not alone. The girl calls out.


Who's there?

RUTH begins to snicker. SEAN is appalled and tries to hold his hand over RUTH'S mouth.


There's somebody in the water over there. Hey, you guys?

SEAN dives under the water and disappears. RUTH is left searching for him. The kids lose interest and go back to making out. RUTH hides close to her clothes and waits for the young couple to leave then she pulls herself out of the water and begins to dress.


(while a hushed whisper)

Sean? Are you there? Sean? Goddammit Sean. You big fucking pussy.

RUTH puts her clothes back on and trudges back into the woods. As she walks through the woods, she continues to call for SEAN. Suddenly SEAN jumps out from behind a rock, still naked. He grabs RUTH and begins to rip her clothes off. She is startled but submits eagerly and they rip and tear at one another recklessly.

The moon is partially obscured by slow moving clouds. RUTH's hand lays on SEAN'S cheek. She cuddles next to him as he looks up at the stars.


When are we going to get caught?


It was great for me too, asshole.


I am so sorry, what I meant....


Jesus Christ, Sean. I'm beginning to understand why you became a priest. You are absolutely

inept at after glow love talk. What the fuck did we just do?


We … we... we...Jesus! That was amazing.


Yes! Very good! Yes, yes, yes! It was increda fucking burgible is what that was, Father

Dickydoo! My God, you are perceptive!

They both begin to laugh. Then they calm down and sigh together. Both of them stare at the sky. After a moment of silence, SEAN whispers.



What if this is all there is? What if there is no God at all? What if we just … just... go.


Isn't this enough? I mean think about it. Life is a wonderful gift. Why should we ruin it by

insisting that it goes on forever? I mean, why worry about death at all? When it comes, it

comes and there's not a Goddamn thing we can do about it, is there?

They stare up at the stars. An asteroid streaks across the sky.


I just realized. I just realized why you are always so sad.

(she pauses and thinks for a moment)

You don't you?


(after a long pause)



I mean, you don't believe at all. It's not just the Christian God. You don't believe in God at all.

Do you Sean?


(thinking before he responds)

I thought if I tried hard enough I would finally...


Faith is no gift, judging from the ones who have it. Half of them are dimwitted

and the rest aren't being honest with themselves.

A tear streams down RUTH'S face.

WE CUT to an extreme wide shot. The night sky is full of stars. We fade.

SCENE 15 INT. - The kitchen table.

WE CUT back from the flashback to the moment we left SEAN and MICK.


I want to build some bleachers. We need some bleachers and some shade. This place

is miserable in the heat.


There. That's it. We start tomorrow. You don't know shit about building and I don't know

shit about horses. I'll have a sketch for you before lunch tomorrow. And we are going in

to town in the morning to get a backhoe with an auger bit. I am tired of watching you rip your

hands up on that post hole digger.


I cannot afford a backhoe.


Cheap bastard.

RUTH and MARY BETH enter.


Can we go? There's a little landscaping shop next to the Tractor Supply. I'm gonna

plant some pentas and put out some milkweed. We need to get the butterflies back.


No. I didn't ask for help with the garden. Liz does that.

WE CUT to muted reaction shots from Ruth and Mary Beth.



Whatever you say, Dad.

SCENE 16 EXT. - Hardware Center...medium size small town. A montage. Sparce instrument musical accompaniment. (banjo or dobro and snare drum with brushes)

WE SEE SEAN examining a backhoe. There is a rental sign on it. A sales person walks up and starts talking to him. Mick is looking at fence hardware and shoos a clerk away. The girls are shopping in the nursery next door. They wave at SEAN as he helps the clerk put the backhoe on his truck. MARY BETH picks up a penta flower and examines it. RUTH looks at hummingbird feeders. A young shy, skinny clerk is helping MARY BETH and she is flirting with him. RUTH notices and is amused. MICK pays at the checkout and we can see him bitching about the price. The clerk is annoyed and shakes his head. SEAN winks at the clerk. They all congregate at the truck and pile in. As MICK gets into the truck, a cigarette is hanging out of his mouth. MARY BETH grabs it and tosses it out before he can stop her. He lights up another. They pull off and as soon as he turns onto the main road, she grabs his cigarette again and flips it out the window before he can react. SEAN winces and RUTH's eyes widen but MICK does nothing and MARY BETH smirks.