By Dan Burns (read the full Saving Zero series as we are running it here.)
We see a closed door with a sign, “NEUROTHERAPY – PRIVATE.” The door swings open and we see ZERO lying back in the neurotherapy lounge chair, barefoot, feet up. Electrodes are attached to his forehead, his ear, and the back of his head. He is massaging DASHER, his dog, snuggled beside him.
SLOOPY is calibrating the neurotherapy monitor and control panel. There are two monitors: Zero's and Sloopy's. On Sloopy’s monitor we see a color transparent profile of a human head with various parts of Zero's brain lighting up, glowing in a variety of colors, and dimming and blossoming in turn. Over the profile, three electroencephalograph (EEG) lines (alpha, theta, delta) trace parallel wave-forms left to right. On Zero’s monitor we see a choice of virtual reality landscapes.
SLOOPY: Now which interactive video landscape do you want to walk through?
ZERO: Mmmm “Dark City.”
SLOOPY: Too scary. How about Yosemite Paths? Or …
On Sloopy's monitor, two of the EEG lines cross.
SLOOPY: Zero, you’re making love to that dog!
ZERO: Are you weading my X-waited mind?
SLOOPY: (looking at monitor) Yes. I have to calibrate the system. Everyone responds to a different optimal frequency, so I’m testing them on your brain. How do you feel?
ZERO: A little bettah.
Sloopy turns a dial, lowers the frequency.
Zero lifts up DASHER, looks into his eyes. Dasher licks Zero’s face.
ZERO: Ha ha.
ZERO: Ha ha ha ha ha. Moh.
All three EEG lines cross and uncross in increasingly jagged wave forms.
SLOOPY: I've never seen anything like this.
ZERO: I am Japanese samurai wah-ya.
SLOOPY: (looks at monitor, fiddles with dials) Your delta trace is off the chart. You're a neurologic anomaly.
ZERO: (in a trance) I am Ninja. Espionage, sabotage, infiltwation …
Sloopy turns the dial frantically, trying to bring Zero back to reality. He straightens out in his chair, his back arched. His toes curl.
ZERO: … Assassination!
Dasher yelps. Zero falls out of his chair. An alarm buzzes. Sloopy turns off the system.
SLOOPY: Sorry, Zero. You okay?
ZERO: Yeah. I feel gweat. (climbing back into chair) Let's do it again.
SLOOPY: Another time. I'll slow it waaay down.
SLOOPY: (calling out to next room) Annie?
ANNIE: (from next room) Coming, Ms. Sloopy!
END OF SCENE.
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN – “MISTY’S GREAT IDEA”
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
MISTY: (holding phone) Angela, Josh, listen to this.
JOSH: (busy on the computer) Not now.
MISTY: (to Josh) Hang on. (into phone) I’ll call you back.
JOSH: What’s up?
MISTY: That was an old friend. From school. She's a residential coordinator with the Texas Department of Disability Services.
MISTY: So she wants to know – get this – she wants to know if we can take more residents.
JOSH: What did you tell her?
MISTY: We’re not ready.
JOSH: You told her we’re not ready?
MISTY: No, I’m telling you.
ANGELA: Thanks, Misty. That could be our motto here. “We’re not ready.” (in a fake Misty voice) Not ready for what, Angela? (in a fake Angela voice) Dinner. The credit card bill. The state inspectors.
JOSH: And this stu-pendous idea. “Certification.”
ANGELA: Sounds like a government strait jacket.
MISTY: We’d have an abundant and endless stream of residents and a reliable source of income.
JOSH: Great. We’re not ready.
MISTY: We could whip this ranch into shape.
JOSH: Sure! But we won’t. You know why?
MISTY: ‘Cause we’re not ready?
JOSH: And it’s not our dream.
ANGELA: Right. We'd lose our freedom to pick and choose residents.
JOSH: Our charity tax status – our 501c3.
ANGELA: Our private pay. Our independence.
JOSH: Say goodbye to our jobs program.
ANGELA: Adios to our horses, chickens, and goats.
MISTY: We’d get vacations. Insurance. Night staff. Weekends off. Medical benefits.
JOSH: Inspections. Rules. Fines.
MISTY: Security. And … matching fund retirement accounts. 401Ks!
NATE comes in with ARTIE. NATE silently counts the change in the tip jar.
JOSH: What about our film project?
MISTY: More to film.
JOSH: Our plan to build a network of ranches?
MISTY: We’ll have a new, replicable model.
JOSH: We’d be state employees, wage slaves, and low pay ones at that.
MISTY: I know what we can do!
NATE: (talking over her) This here twenty-four dollars and eighty six cents will buy ya a nice bottle of Evan Williams Whiskey.
ARTIE: Wow. A man with big ideas.
NATE: Or a bottle of Frontier Bullet Bushwhack.
ARTIE: (snarky, to Nate) Why not both?
MISTY: You got it. Both! We run two group homes. One state funded -- do it their way. And one private pay -- do it our way!
ANGELA: And share resources. Hmmm.
MISTY: Cash flow from the state group home would see us through tough times. And we could run the ranch the way we like. (proudly) It’s my Master’s thesis.
NATE: Horses are fed. It’s our turn to eat.
JOSH: I’ve got the hay.
Josh pulls a STRAP OF BILLS out of his pants pocket.
JOSH: Thank you, Zero’s dad, we love you. Texas Road House, here we come.
END OF ACT TWO