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The Seven Hopes of Preston Dirges, Castaway

We left Preston Dirge’s office saga with Preston forced to drive Valerie home. His intoxicated subordinate demands that Preston joins her for a nightcap. Will a few drinks loosen lips?

Int. Valerie’s Studio Apartment – Night

Valerie flicks the light switch as they enter. The light does not go on.

VALERIE: The bulb, the bulb. Hold on a mo.

Valerie scuttles across the room in darkness. She bangs her foot. She switches on a spot lamp then rubs her toes.

VALERIE: There’s vodka and coke in the fridge. Bring them in, will you? I’m going to recount my toes.

Valerie puts on music, then sits on the floor, with her back to her sofa. Preston returns with vodka, coke, and glasses.

VALERIE: Glasses? Good. Very sophisticated. Now pour, goddamn you.

Preston pours. They clink glasses and drink.

VALERIE: (Sings along with the music) I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.

PRESTON: You’re too young to know The Smiths.

VALERIE: Blame my last boyfriend.

PRESTON: I don’t judge strangers. Only everyone I meet.

VALERIE: It’s nice that Tina’s dad waits up for her, don’t you think? Saying that, I was glad to move out. Living at home is so suffocating. Do you have family, Preston?

PRESTON: Two daughters.

Preston pulls out his wallet and shows Valerie a photo of his daughters. They are young girls, Japanese in appearance.

VALERIE: Wow. You didn’t say anything. They’re so pretty, Preston.

PRESTON: The photo is a few years old. They live with their mother, in Tokyo.

VALERIE: Why are they in Tokyo, when you’re here?

PRESTON: I used to work there. Boy meets girl, girl gets pregnant, boy loses job, has to leave. The end.

VALERIE: Have another drink.

She refills their glasses.

PRESTON: Don’t – I’ve got to drive home.

VALERIE: No you don’t.

PRESTON: Excuse me?

VALERIE: Stay here. I’m not letting you drive all the way home in this weather. The weatherman said it might freeze tonight. Stay. This sofa pulls out into a sofa. I mean a bed. Stay, and drink.

PRESTON: Drinking’s not a solution. Trust me, I’ve tried to solve problems that way.

VALERIE: Drink, I said, goddamn you.

PRESTON: I don’t think you should work for me. I’m not bossy enough to be your boss.

VALERIE: I shouldn’t work for you. Not that I’ve done any work yet.

PRESTON: Get used to it. I’ve not done any real work in six years. Just pushing paper.

VALERIE: If you don’t want me working for you, how do you plan to get rid of me?

PRESTON: I’ll give you a good review, but not too good. People who do a bad job are punished by not being allowed to change job. People who do a really good job are rewarded by being given a job they’re incompetent at. (Pause) Or I could solve the problem by leaving. Then they’d close down Certification Compliance.

VALERIE: Compliance Certification.

PRESTON: Same thing.

VALERIE: If you left, what would I do then?

PRESTON: Marketing, I suppose.

VALERIE: I don’t want to do marketing. I want to be creative.

PRESTON: You’ll survive. Give it ten years and you might find yourself doing something you mildly enjoy.

VALERIE: You’re a great motivator. So what happened to your wife in Tokyo? Why did she leave you?

PRESTON: We weren’t married. And strictly speaking, I left, though it was because I didn’t have permission to stay any longer.

VALERIE: Why didn’t she follow you?

PRESTON: Family. She wanted to be near them.

VALERIE: But you’re her family.

PRESTON: She decided otherwise.

VALERIE: Is she one of those people who suffer from – what’s that thing you were talking about? – from confirmation bias?

PRESTON: No, I really don’t think she does. She made a bad choice sleeping with me, but didn’t compound it by marrying me.

VALERIE: We are a couple of sad sacks. As The Smiths won’t oblige, you’d better give me a reason to go on living.

PRESTON: A reason to go on? I can give you seven good reasons.

He holds up the photo of his daughters.

Ext. Japanese Garden – Day

Preston’s girls run around, laughing, amidst cherry blossom.

PRESTON (V.O.): 1. Laughter.

Int. Valerie’s Studio Apartment – Night

Valerie puts her hand on Preston’s arm.

Ext. Japanese Garden – Late Afternoon

The girls cast long shadows as they twirl their parasols.

PRESTON (V.O.): 2. Sunlight.

Int. Valerie’s Studio Apartment – Night

Rain spatters the window.

Ext. Japanese Garden – Twilight

An abrupt shower creates ripples in the pool. Their mother dresses the girls in pac-a-macs, and hurries them home. Rainwater trickles down the leaves. The girls splash in puddles, annoying their mother.

PRESTON (V.O.): 3. Growth.

Int. Japanese Car – Evening

The girls sit in the back of a car. One watches raindrops on the window, and buildings going by. The other sleeps.

PRESTON (V.O.): 4. Going home.

Int. Japanese Kitchen – Night

The mother prepares a meal and the daughters try to help. They examine the ingredients, smelling and tasting them.

PRESTON (V.O.): 5. A real kitchen, and the time to enjoy it.

Int. Japanese Bathroom – Night

The girls are wrapped in towels; the mother dries them off.

Int. Japanese Bedroom – Night

The mother reads stories to the girls as they lie in bed.

PRESTON (V.O.): 6. Feeling clean, warm and dry.

Int. Valerie’s Studio Apartment – Night

Close up of Preston’s face, talking to camera.

PRESTON: And finally – 7. The possibility of meeting someone who understands.

Preston turns to Valerie. She is asleep on his shoulder.

PRESTON: Well, you keep on hoping.

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