Screenplay: magical pineapples and a modern day vision quest of accidental proportions.
|“THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE MAGICAL PINEAPPLES”
EXT. DESERT – SUNRISE
BEN lies on the cracked dry desert floor. An empty bottle of Jose Cuervo is duck taped to his bare stomach. A wooden crate full of Pineapples sits unopened next to Ben. As the sun rises his eyes become visible. His eyes stare forward as if he is dead. His lips are cracked. After a few moments he blinks and his eyes move about.
Ben sits up and dusts himself off. He looks around then grabs his box of pineapples. The camera pans around. A car has been sitting off-screen.
INT. CAR MORNING
Ben drives on a busy interstate. The Pineapples sit next to him in the car. The bottle is still taped to his chest. He opens his glove compartment and takes out his phone. Dials.
Eloise, I need you to call my wife and tell her that you found me in my office this morning and that I had fallen asleep while working on a bill. Tell her it was something to do with homeless children. Also bring a clean suit to the truck stop off exit 15.
INT. PARKED CAR – MORNING
Ben pulls the bottle off his chest, wincing with pain. He throws the bottle into the backseat. Ben gets out of car and closes the door. He pauses, opens the door again, then grabs the pineapples and closes the door again.
EXT. TRUCK STOP PARKING LOT
Ben walks behind the building where there is a dumpster and closed wooden double doors that lead to a cellar. The truck stop is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Ben knocks on the doors using his foot. A latch is undone. He bends over and pulls open the doors.
INT. CELLAR ROOM
THE PRIEST is an indiscernible shape in the foreground. The room is incredibly smoky and golden Inca objects decorate the space. A light is piercing the smoke and Ben steps down into the space.
Close the door.
Ben closes the door and sits on top of his pineapple crate. The priest is an old white guy with long white hair and a huge white beard. He is wearing full Inca headdress and a tie-dye t-shirt. During a long silence Ben rubs his eyes and nose, irritated by the smoke.
At this time yesterday where were you?
Yes. You came to me for a reason. Have you forgotten the reason?
And it is. . . ?
To find truth or. . . a religious experience. . . to really live. . .
Yes, but you have gone astray. Many go astray all their lives. You have started to understand.
The Priest waves dismissively at Ben. Ben starts to leave.
You are forgetting your children.
Ben turns around and grabs his pineapples, bowing slightly.
EXT – PARKINGLOT – MORNING
Ben puts his pineapples in the trunk of his car. A car pulls up and ELOISE gets out. She is an attractive young woman.
I don’t even want to fucking know.
Eloise hands Ben his suit.
Hurry up, you have a vote to make at three thirty.
Do. . .
Yes, unless you want to alienate half of your constituents.
At this point. . .
It doesn’t matter if you care. We care. I’m not letting you fuck this up.
Eloise pushes Ben toward the truck stop.
Try to have an affair or something. None of this existential crisis shit.
Ben walks out of the truck stop in a clean suit. Eloise has left. He checks his trunk before he gets into his car and drives off.
INT – BEN’S HOUSE – AFTERNOON
The house is large and clean, the living room is empty except for a sofa, coffee table and a large TV. RACHEL sits on the sofa chain smoking cigarettes. Ben walks in with his box of pineapples. Rachel doesn’t notice. Ben opens the empty coat closet and puts his pineapples in then closes the door.
The Price is Right. It’s Tivoed.
I’m really sorry about last night. I just lost consciousness right on the spot.
Oh really it was nothing.
I just thought you might have been worried and everything.
No really, I understand. I’m really not bothered.
Good, good. Tonight we should, eat something.
Yes. Of Course.
INT – KITCHEN OF BEN’S HOUSE
Ben walks in and opens refrigerator. Half of the fridge is filled with unopened cartons of cigarettes the rest has a few scattered food items. Ben pulls out a teddy bear of honey and squirts some in his mouth then puts it back. On the kitchen counter is a pile of bills. One of the bills reads “Doctor Smith.” Ben opens the letter. The bill charges for 75 hours of house call. Ben puts the bill and envelope in the pocket of his jacket.
Ben confronts Rachel in the living room.
Who’s this Doctor Smith guy?
Knock on the front door.
Who the hell?
Ben opens the door. OFFICER GNOWLES and OFFICER DOUGLASS stand in the front door.
Good Afternoon, I’m Officer Gnowles and this is Officer Douglass. We have a warrant to search the premises.
Who the fuck would have given you. . . What do you. . . What for?
We’re awfully sorry mister senator, especially on such a nice day, but we are going to have to ask you to step aside and let us in.
Who’s the mother fucker trying to dig up dirt?
Ben glances back at Rachel. She’s still on the couch smoking. She notices his look and seems to wake from her daze.
Darling, let them in. It’s all prescription anyway.
Ben’s confused, but still angry.
Just tell me who sent you. How’d you get a warrant. I’m a damn senator of the state of New Mexico. I voted to increase your salaries for God’s sake.
Darling please, the gardener quit yesterday. I’m sure someone bought him.
Ben turns back to Rachel and allows the cops to enter.
You have a drug problem and the pool boy knows more than I do?
Ben looks at his watch.
INT. CAR – INTERSTATE
INT. BEN’S HOUSE
Ben busts in through the front door. The police officers are looking under the couch cushions. Rachel stands by smoking. Ben gets the pineapples out of the closet and exits through the front door.
INT. CAR – INTERSTATE
Ben’s phone rings continuously. He doesn’t answer it.
INT. STATE CAPITOL ENTRANCE WAY
Senators mill about. Some patting each other’s back and some angrily arguing. Ben is hugging his crate of pineapples. Eloise comes out of the crowd of senators. She slaps Ben in the face and starts hitting him.
You fucking had time to go to the farmers market, but you couldn’t make the most god damned important vote of your worthless life. You are a piece of shit. . .
Ben drops his crate and covers himself with his arms as Eloise continues the assault.
You’re fucking dead. Your career is dead. I quit. I’m going to go work for Alonso or someone. If you had been here, if this had passed, you would have been the god damned Governor of the state within a year.
The room has become silent as everyone watches. Eloise exits. Ben grabs his crate of pineapples. Everyone applauds as Ben exits.
INT. BEN’S HOUSE – EVENING
Ben enters through the front door. Rachel and DOCTOR SMITH are having sex on the sofa. The room is dark and jazz fusion plays loudly.
Ben drops the pineapples loudly on the floor.
Holy. . .
Doctor Smith jumps off Rachel, covers himself with his clip board, and dashes out of the room.
A flame flickers from sofa as Rachel lights a cigarette.
Rachel rises up smoking.
I told him you wouldn’t care, but he still runs.
Of course. . . who. . . I care.
Rachel looks at Ben. Smokes.
Baby, I fucked up today. I’m going to lose my job. Everyone hates me.
You lost your job? I’m leaving with Doctor Smith. We love each other.
Ben picks up an empty prescription bottle and examines it. He pulls the bill out of his jacket and waves it.
Well at least he’s rich. . . You know, I loved you.
Rachel continues to stare without emotion.
Yeah, you’re right.
Doctor Smith peeks into the room through the kitchen. He’s still holding the clipboard.
You can leave when you’re ready. I will take the house. I assume since you’re losing your job we can get an actual divorce. That is, if either of us ever feel like it. . . and don’t tell me you loved me. It’s cliché and probably a lie.
Right, right. . . I’ll just. . .
Ben picks up his pineapples and leaves.
INT. CELLAR ROOM
From behind the priest’s shoulder Ben sits cross-legged on the floor with his pineapples before him.
I should be sad or angry shouldn’t I? I should want to binge drink all night long. Isn’t that what people do?
Yesterday you saw everything and had nothing. Now you see nothing and have nothing.
Come tomorrow to my house and you will start your journey.
The Priest hands Ben a folded piece of paper with an address on it.
INT. CHEAP HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT
Ben sleeps on top of the bed with the pineapples next to him. He is still in his suit.
EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD – MORNING
Ben pulls up to a small ranch style home with un-mowed grass.
Ben, with his pineapples, rings the doorbell and enters.
INT. THE PRIEST’S HOUSE
The house is dirty and many of the objects are covered in aluminum foil. Long strings with bells on the end hang from the ceiling, some almost all the way to the floor. A few cats run across the floor. A bong is on the coffee table.
The Priest moves across the room to the kitchen and motions Ben to follow.
Ben is a little stunned by his surroundings. He sees The Priest’s gesture and follows.
INT. KITCHEN OF PRIEST’S HOUSE
Bottles, cups, beakers, and test tubes cover the counters. They are all filled with different colored liquids. The Priest sits at the kitchen table and eats a plate of eggs and toast.
Ben moves over to the table and sits. He stares hungrily at the food.
The Priest picks up a glass from the mess. It has a small slice of cactus floating in it. He pulls out the cactus and smells the water. He drinks it.
The Priest stands up.
Now we train.
EXT. THE PREIST’S BACKYARD
The backyard is surrounded by a high privacy fence. It is small and covered in sparse weeds.
Ben follows the Priest out of the backdoor with the box of pineapples. The priest is still carrying the cactus water.
Soon you will be reformed into your true self. You will no longer live in confusion and wander the deserts of human achievement.
The Priest motions toward the pineapples.
Take two out.
Ben reaches into the box and pulls out two pineapples.
Now hold your arms out like this.
The Priest takes the pineapples. He moves Ben’s arms into a free-falling position with his palms up.
And hold these.
The Priest places a pineapple in each of Ben’s hands. After only an instant Ben’s arms start to lose strength. Ben sweats.
The Priest starts to dance around Ben in a circle doing a Native American-esque chant.
Ben starts to laugh.
What the fuck am I doing?
Ben drops one of the pineapples. He takes the other one over his head and smashes it on the ground.
The Priest flinches and stops his dance.
Am I training to be a ninja? What the hell. I don’t even know your name. I’m so fucking thirsty.
Ben picks up the half drunken glass of cactus water off the ground and chugs the remainder of it.
Shit. That shit’s nasty.
The Priest stands by silently with his head bowed.
Ben walks back into the house.
INT. BEN’S CAR – MID-DAY
Ben leans over the wheel squinting at the road. He’s driving through a Mexican neighborhood. He rubs his eyes and grunts. He blinks hard.
What the fuck.
Ben grabs the rearview mirror. He looks at himself. He starts staring and forgets to look back at the road.
EXT. MEXICAN NEIGHBORHOOD
Ben’s car is in the center of the road. Another car serves to miss it and honks its horn.
INT. BEN’S CAR
Ben swerves back into his lane. Ben pulls over to the side of the road. He starts to touch his body and then becomes really interested in his fingers.
I need some water.
Ben pushes open the car door. He tries to get out of the car, but still has his seat belt on.
He undoes his seat belt and wanders out into the street.
Two Mexican children stand in a yard across the street. They play with a jump rope. One is wearing a bright purple dress and one is wearing a neon green dress. Their laughing sounds like horses neighing.
Ben starts coughing. He keeps staring at the two little girls who are now both wearing red dresses.
Ben sits down against one of his car’s tires.
The little girls notice him staring and run away.
THE GARDENER walks up the Ben. He is wearing a striped shirt and the stripes are shaking up and down.
I’m really thirst. . . uhhh. . .
Ben holds his throat with his hands
Tengo sed, tengo sed.
You want some water or something.
Si, yes yes.
Come to my house, man.
The Gardener pulls Ben up by the hand.
INT. THE GARDENER’S KITCHEN
Ben sits at the table. He stares intently at a wind chime outside.
The Gardener brings him a glass of water.
Ben starts to bring the glass to his mouth then puts it back down before he drinks.
How do I know this water isn’t poisoned?
The Gardener looks at Ben questioningly.
You are my gardener. I know you. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. You screwed me once already so how do I know they didn’t hire you to kill me.
I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.
Tú eres mi jardinero esé?
Man you’re fucking crazy. Drink the water.
Ben looks down at the water. The glass has little pineapples painted all over it. Ben turns it around and inspects all the pineapples.
Ahhh I see. It’s all right, it’s all right.
He picks up the water and drinks it all.
Someone knocks on the door.
The Gardener goes to answer the door.
The Gardener and The Priest walk back into the kitchen
Ben turns around and sees The Priest.
You! You did this to me you dirty ass hippie.
Ben keeps pointing to his chest. Then he picks up the pineapple glass.
But. . . but the. . . pineapples. How did you. . . you knew.
The Priest nods. The Gardener’s confused.
And you gave me the cactus water. . . so that I would trip. . . then go to this house. . . and see the pineapples.
You have come far.
EXT. BEN’S HOUSE – FRONT LAWN – SUN SET
The Priest drives Ben’s car. They park in front of the house and get out. Ben is distracted by the sky and stops and lies down in the lawn to stare at it. The priest leans over Ben.
Go in and find the most precious object you own. Bring it with you.
The Priest pulls Ben up to his feet and Ben goes inside while the Priest lights up a joint.
INT. BEN’S HOUSE – EVENING
Ben bumps against the couch as he moves through the house into the kitchen.
He looks around the kitchen and notices a light blinking on the telephone. He pushes a button in the phone.
Hey Rach, you might be asleep or something, but I wanted to know if you wanted to go to the grocery with me. I was going to make some pasta for us tonight. Call me back if you get this. I might come by anyway to see if you are home. Ok, bye.
Ben walks over to the fridge and opens it up. He grabs the honey bear.
EXT. BEN’S HOUSE – FRONT LAWN – EVENING
The Priest throws his roach on the ground and snubs it with his foot.
Ben holds the honey bear.
I’ve got it.
Ben smells the honey.
I was thinking we could go to the grocery store. I just. . . I really can’t remember how a pickle tastes and I want to know.
Our bodies need worldly food before they can partake of the greater food.
INT. GROCERY STORE – EVENING
The Priest and Ben walk into the store. Ben is still tripping.
Now, remember our mission. You must not stray.
Ben puts a gallon jar of pickles in the cart.
The Priest throws in some packets of ramen noodles.
Ben seems distracted by something.
Rachel and Doctor Smith are at the end of the aisle picking up a bottle of olive oil. They argue over which brand to buy.
Ben starts to wander toward them
Ben stands behind Rachel and Doctor Smith as they argue
That one smokes when you sauté. I just can’t use it.
Whatever, it doesn’t really matter to me.
Rachel sighs and turns around.
Oh my God, Ben. You smell.
Listen, Rachel. . . you have. . . we’ve always. . . when I first saw. I need to tell you what has happened because you are one of the. . .
You’re really drunk aren’t you?
No, I’m not. . . I have never cared about anything, not even myself, but now I do. I care about you and him, (puts his hand on Doctor Smith’s shoulder) even though he looks like a fox right now. I just care about shit right now. He, (points at The Priest) showed me the pineapples and I even care about him now.
Look, I know you have a thing with the pineapples now, but you can’t tell me you care about me and expect me to give a fuck. . .
I know, know, just. . . okay, yeah. I’ve got to continue on. . . it’s the journey.
The Priest walks up and leads Ben away.
You have to stay focused.
They walk through the aisles picking up potato chips, carrots, and cans of beans.
INT. THE PRIEST’S HOUSE
The Priest and Ben sit on his couch surrounded by bells. They take hits from the bong and pass it. Ben eats pickles with honey on them.
The moment has arrived.
EXT. DESERT – LIT BY MOONLIGHT
The Priest and Ben ride bicycles through the desert. Ben’s bike is attached to The Priest’s by a string. The box of pineapples is on a sled, tied to the back of Ben’s bike.
The Priest stops his bike and Ben almost crashes into it.
This is the spot.
Ben gets off his bike and looks about. He looks up to the full moon.
You must finish before daybreak.
Ben picks up the crate and walks a little way from the bikes.
He starts to dig a hole in the dirt with his hands.
He drops a pineapple in the hole.
He buries the pineapple.
He digs another hole.
Buries the pineapple.
He buries a total of 8 pineapples in a circle with a 10 foot diameter. The priest stands in the center and watches him.
Ben buries his bottle of honey in the center of the circle.
Ben fills the last hole with dirt and looks at his hands. He can see blood dripping from his fingers in the moonlight. Ben stands up and brushes off his suit.
Now lie in the center of it.
Ben lies in the center of the circle.
Watch the moon until it’s overpowered by the sun.
Ben looks at the full moon.
The Priest starts to chant again and dance around the perimeter of the circle.
EXT. DESERT – SUNRISE
The sun breaks over the horizon. A fly lands on Ben’s nostril. It flies away. The sun wakes him.
Ben coughs as he opens his eyes.
He is surrounded my eight mounds of dirt. A track has been worn in the dirt from The Priest’s dance.
He looks down at his fingers. They are caked with brown blood and dirt. He tries to rub the dirt out of his eyes but there isn’t any part of him that isn’t dusty.
He turns around franticly. The bikes and sled are gone.
Ben starts to wander around more franticly, looking at the ground.
No fucking tracks.
Ben looks up at the sky. It’s a cloudless day.
The sun rises in. . . East. . . but. . .
Ben points East and then West. He gives up and sits in the dust.
Ben feels his pockets pulls out his wallet, keys, and a pen. He coughs.
A plane is heard overhead.
Ben looks up and sees the plane. It’s headed West and descending.
Ahhh. . .
Ben starts walking in the direction of the plane.
EXT. MEXICAN NEIGHBORHOOD – MORNING
Ben’s car still sits on the street. Ben is burnt and dirty. He walks up to his car and gets in the front seat. He puts his hands on the wheel and sighs.
A HISPANIC MAN is watering the lawn next to Ben’s car. He notices Ben in the car. He comes over and knocks on the window. Ben rolls down the window.
Hey man, I’ve got lots of water here if you need it.
Uh. . . I’m good.
Alright, have a good day, loco man.
Ben rolls the window back up. He starts the car and drives off.
INT. BEN’S CAR – DAY
Ben is driving down the interstate. He opens his glove compartment and pulls out his cell phone. He dials.
Eloise. . . I know. . . I wouldn’t answer the call either. . . yes, the most worthless. . . what did Alonso say. . . ? Listen Eloise no more of this shit, I mean, my shit, I promise. . . Yes it’s all out of my sys. . . never another crisis. . . and yes double pay. . . see you there.
Ben hangs up the phone.
INT. BEN’S CAR
Ben is stopped at a stoplight. He is whistling to himself. He looks off screen at something and stops whistling. He puts on his turn signal and turns right.
INT. ANTIQUE STORE
Ben hands the cashier money for something off-screen.
CLOSE – THE PASSENGER SEAT IN BEN’S CAR
We hear the sound of the driver’s door opening and closing and Ben buckling his seat belt.
Ben drops a pineapple lamp onto the passenger seat.
EXT. TRUCKSTOP – DAY
Ben sits in his car with his pineapple lamp. Eloise pulls up in a car next to him.
Ben gets out with his lamp in his hand.
I don’t think you’ve ever looked worse in your entire life.
I got this lamp for my office. What do you think?