BLOCK: Pilot “THE HUMAN EQUATION”
EXT. HOLLYWOOD BLVD – DAY
Clayton “Clay” FORRESTER wears a modern desert fatigue jacket with a Marine Corps badge, jeans, aviator shades and cowboy boots. His last name is stenciled above his jacket’s front pocket and across its back. He’s built like a cowboy, lean. He takes long strides, but keeps his fists balled up in his pockets. He’s into his thirties, but his hair has already begun to grey at the temples. His face is handsome, changing from stoic, stone-set jaw, to “aw shucks” charm.
If he walked down the street in any American neighborhood, you’d peg him as a survivalist and try to avoid conversation. But here he blends right in with the rest of the freaks: tourists in loud Disney shirts, guys dressed as Superman, women dressed as Marilyn Monroe in the white dress, X-men and Storm-troopers, junkies, hippies, street performers, tour guides, the occasional ‘incognito’ celebrity, and a dozen other wannabees walking down the street full of people past ‘Old Hollywood’ hotels in varying states of decay or gentrification, garish store fronts and souvenir shops.
CLAY (V.O.) People ain’t born in this town. They all just kinda pour outta the sticks and crap towns. Drain here like a giant toilet. Wanderin’. Looking for somethin’, someone, anyone to notice. Stand out from the herd. Show them the way.
INT. CLAY’S RENTED ROOM – EVENING
A toilet FLUSHES. Clay sits down at an old formica-top table in his Spartan, shabby rented room. All his gear is stowed in a sea-bag with his name stenciled on it. The tiny bed is made to military precision, a military-issue handgun by its side. He looks like he could move out in a minute. He pours some cheap brandy into a bottle of chocolate milk, shakes it up and chugs it down.
Before him lies a sketchbook, pencils and a set of Rapidiograph pens. He has sketched out a page of panels, as in graphic novels, depicting himself on the street amid the sea of people and his room as already seen. He inks in a panel of himself sitting alone at his table with this caption:
CLAY (V.O. as he works) There was this poem we learned back in school. ‘I am nobody. Who are you? Are you nobody too?’ Hey, I’m nobody…
Clay’s writing trails off. He leans back in his chair and closes his eyes.
EXT. VENICE BEACH – NEXT DAY
Clay, in his get-up, stands out from the crowd by how much clothing he is wearing. In a place where everyone is showing off their body, their tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, etc. he looks as though he had been dropped into the scene from some other world.
He watches a legless Vet begging from a distance. A VOICE CALLS HIM back to the world.
MAN’S VOICE (O.S) Forrester! Forrester! Yo, Clay!
Clay turns and focuses his eyes on MIGUEL, a young man about Clay’s age wearing cargo shorts and combat boots. Miguel approaches Clay, who still seems lost. Clay submits to a ‘bro-hug’.
MIGUEL Clayton Forrester, what da fuck?
CLAY Aw, hell. Rodriguez? Miguel? Jeez, I thought I was seein’ stuff.
MIGUEL Well there’s no mistaking your dumb, hick ass.
CLAY Yeah, I guess.
MIGUEL So, what landed you in this shit-hole?
CLAY I dunno. I got stuff…things, ya know.
MIGUEL No man, I got no fucking idea what you’re saying, as usual, right? Come on. Let’s get a beer.
INT. BAR – LATER ON
Clay and Miguel sit at a darkened bar having some beers.
MIGUEL You just dropped off the earth, Clay. Med-vacced out. Shipped home. Fucking Keyser Soze-ed, just, poof, disappeared.
CLAY Yeah, I had some…
CLAY Yeah…spent some time out ‘Twenty-nine Stumps’.
MIGUEL Just what you needed, more desert.
CLAY Don’t I know it. It was ‘observation’ and all that. Half-way between here n Vegas. Figured I try my luck here.
MIGUEL Your family?
Clay shakes his head.
MIGUEL Sorry dude. I hate to say it, but I had the same idea as you.
CLAY Oh, yeah? What’s that?
MIGUEL Combat engineer, right? Thought I could like be some kind of military adviser or do pyrotechnics for the movies. Turns out you need all kinds of civilian certifications and shit. Besides, well hell, you know what it’s like. The looks, like they think you’re gonna have some kinda Nam flashback any second. ‘But thank you for your service.’ Assholes.
MIGUEL So at least I figured I got the Bill, right? I never cashed out my benies. So now I’m going to college.
CLAY That so? Good for you.
MIGUEL So, how you doing?
CLAY I can’t afford where I’m stayin’. Seems like you can’t find no place to stay here that’s decent that don’t cost a million dollars.
MIGUEL Huh. That’s funny.
MIGUEL Nothing, I just heard someone I know on campus say just the opposite.
CLAY Oh, yeah? What’s that?
MIGUEL That she found a decent place cheap, put down the security and all, but can’t find someone to split the rent with her.
CLAY I could.
Miguel turns quiet.
MIGUEL I don’t know, Clay.
CLAY Why not? There something wrong with her?
MIGUEL Not really. She takes a lot of non-requireds. Out of the way stuff. Nerdy, I guess. Sticks to herself.
CLAY To tell the truth, quiet and nerdy seem about right to me just now.
MIGUEL Yeah, well, you don’t know CK Block.
CLAY Why? She some crazy chick? Guys? Drama? All that stuff?
MIGUEL CK? No way, man. She’s just kinda…weird n’ …
CLAY Stuff? Well, I guess I’m ‘weird n’ stuff’ myself. Set up a meet.
MIGUEL Alright, I’ll text her. But whatever happens is on you, got it?
CLAY I got it. Always were a jumpy sonofabitch, ya know that?
EXT. CAMPUS TEA & COFFEE SHOP – SAME DAY
Clay sits waiting on a bench. Miguel shows up.
MIGUEL Glad you found it OK.
CLAY Got here faster’n you.
They walk towards the entrance to the shop. Miguel stops and turns to Clay.
MIGUEL Man, I gotta just tell ya. She beat a dead pig with a baseball bat.
MIGUEL In the Criminal Science lab.
CLAY Well maybe it was like school stuff…homework. Just quit making excuses n take me to see her. Can you do that?
MIGUEL Right on. But I warned ya…
CLAY I know, wash your hands an’ all that…may we?
INT. TEA & COFFEE SHOP – CONTINUOUS
The bright, smartly decorated shop is full of students talking, studying, playing on tablets. Clay takes off his shades. Miguel points to a high, long bar-table against the far wall.
MIGUEL There she is.
Clay moves through the crowd with Miguel following. CATHERINE KINCAID BLOCK has her back to him. She has several cups of tea lined up in front of her on the bar. She studies them intently. Miguel steps up behind her and taps her on her shoulder.
MIGUEL Hey, CK. This is Clayton Forrester? The guy I texted you about?
A pale but animated face turns towards them. CK Block is diminutive with short hair, dressed in vintage/thrift store cast-offs. She has sharp features and an ageless, pixie look. Her eyes are intense and beaming.
CK I have found it! Here. Take a sip.
She pushes one of the cups of tea into Clay’s hands. Clay gives his ‘aw shucks’ smile, shrugs and drinks some.
CK That’s enough. What do you taste?
CLAY Tea? Some kinda orangey flavor?
CK That’s bergamot. Anything else?
CK Thank you! I have to send a quick text.
CK whips out her phone and dashes off a text. As she finishes, Clay mindlessly raises the cup to his mouth again. CK’s hand darts out and grabs the cup from him.
CK I wouldn’t do that.
CLAY Why not?
CK Nothing. Not to worry. Unless you’ve been drinking.
She takes a sip of the tea, smiles, and sits it down on the table.
CK I’m sorry. It’s just impossible for the average individual to poison another anymore. Homeland Security and all that…and the lily of the valley. But you…I’m sorry, who are you?
MIGUEL This is the guy I texted you about the apartment.
CK hops from her stool, wipes her hand on her shirt, and extends it to Clay. He towers over her.
CK Catherine Kincaid Block. I think people call me CK.
Clay takes her hand.
CLAY Pleased to meet you. You can call me Clay…
CK quickly withdraws her hand from the embrace.
CK (interrupting) Lance Corporal Clayton Forrester. US Marine Corps, Combat engineer, specializing in Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Battlefield Clearance. Three tours in Iraq. Diagnosed PTSD. Divorced. (in response to Clay’s questioning look) You should change your social media passwords. ‘Monkey’ is one of the most common, and a fair bet if you use one as your profile pic.
CLAY Hold up now, you hacked…?
CK’s face doesn’t register having committed a violation.
CK When Miguel texted me, I thought it prudent to learn who I’d be living with. Let’s see, you’ll want to know about me: I use an e-cigarette,spend a lot of time on my work. If you find me lying on the sofa not speaking, don’t worry, it’ll pass. I like music. The place has two bedrooms and two baths. I already moved in, but we can swap rooms if you’d like. All you need is half month’s rent, and you can move in tomorrow. Sound good?
CLAY Half month’s rent. Sounds good.
CK Then it’s settled. Give me your number, and I’ll text you the address.
They exchange numbers.
CK Until tomorrow then. Oh, love the Travis Bickle look.
CK turns back to her ‘tea’ before Clay can respond. Clay and Miguel turn towards the exit.
CLAY She just poisoned me.
MIGUEL I’m sorry, man. I’ll make up some excuse for you.
CLAY Why? I’m taking the apartment.
MIGUEL You’re kidding, right?
CLAY She’s the first stranger in this town who’s even looked at me twice. Besides, it’s half-rent.
Clay puts his shades back on as they exit into the sun.
Block: The Human Equation, TV Pilot WGA registration: I267101
Jessica Lakis, 2015