Monday, April 14, 2008

Timon of Athens Pt. 1

The first installment of TIMON OF ATHENS, my original prose, modern dress adaptation of possibly Shakespeare's most obscure play. Here, I start in typical b-movie fashion my moving one of the most interesting scenes to the front and adding some balls-out action. We also meet Timon's childhood pal Apemantus, who I envisioned as a skatepunk, and Timon's loyal assitant Flavia, who had a gender change to make some of her slavish devotion have a subtext in this modern interpretation. In this opening salvo, we see how Timon's dotcom success led to his free spending ways.

BLACK. An ALARM begins, growing LOUDER.

Suddenly, FIVE SHOTS ring out; each is punctuated with a letter: T I M O N.

A SIREN begins to HOWL, growing LOUDER as we read CREDITS and watch an eventual fade up from black to see two bandits, BLEPSIAS and GNIPHON, running down an alley. They have masks and weapons and are clutching bags stuffed with cash.

THEME MUSIC BLASTS as we see them sprint into a narrow parking lot between tall buildings and briefly touch fists before getting into their car and PEELING OUT.

We see their low-slung slab of Detroit steel purring down the streets, the SIRENS and ALARMS fading away.
We see Blepsias clutching the steering wheel and bearing down on the gas.

The sedan Blepsias is driving is leaving the city behind.
We see their masks fly out the window and land unceremoniously on the side of the road.

The pair of bandits is beginning to look more relaxed as they make their way through the rolling hills and countryside.
Before long Blepsias points out the window, then guides his car to the side of the road near a woods. The engine growls once more and is shut off.
Both bandits emerge, carrying their bags of loot, and turn to the trunk.
Gniphon lifts a shovel out of the trunk, and both of them head for the woods.

We see that Gniphon has made pretty good headway turning over dirt for a good-sized hole. He glances up at Blepsias, wiping sweat, who is idly watching with his pistol tucked casually in his pants. Blepsias inclines his head as if to tell his partner to keep working. He has his foot resting on the bags of loot. Both pairs of eyes stray there.
Gniphon grits his teeth and keeps going.
When we next see the hole, he's made good time. Blepsias stands with his feet on the edge, peering over, gauging its worthiness.
Gniphon takes a half-step back and, in a swift move, brings the flat of the shovel down on the back of his partner's head with a mighty THWACK.
Blepsias stumbles and turns, and Gniphon swings for the bleachers and nearly twists Blepsias' head around with his second blow. His nerveless fingers reach for his gun as he falls into the hole.
Gniphon drops the shovel quickly and lopes over to sweep up the ill-gotten gain in his arms.
We see Blepsias' shaking hand rise up, pistol in his grip, sighting for his betrayer.
Gniphon gets shot between the shoulder blades and drops to his knees, stunned.
The loot spills out onto the grass, and, caught by the wind, flies away, in singles and bunches.
We watch the bills float lazily this way and that, get caught in branches and bushes on their new path, spreading out through the woods.
Suddenly, a hand plucks a bill from a tree and looks at it.

We see TIMON, young and handsome, but dirty and bedraggled, as if he has been living out of doors for some time. His face cracks into a wide, cold, smile. He grasps the money in his fist and looks into the distance. His voice comes out slowly, a rasp, then begins to build in force.

Matrons...turn incontinent. in children. Slave and fools, pluck the grave wrinkled senate from the bench, and minister in their steads! Convert of the instant, green virginity, do it in your parents' eyes! Bankrupts, hold fast; rather than render back, out with your knives, and cut your trusters' throats! Bound servants, steal! Large-handed robbers your grave masters are, and pill by law. Maid, to thy master's bed; thy mistress is of the brothel! Son of sixteen, pluck the crutch from thy old limping sire...with it beat out his brains! Piety, and fear, religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth, domestic awe, night-rest, and neighborhood...Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades, degrees, observances, customs, and laws, decline to your confounding contraries, and let confusion live!

Timon slinks back into the woods as the rest of the CREDITS ROLL.

A huge glass-and-chrome building, dominating the cityscape.

We see a fresher, brighter-looking Timon, in crisp professional dress, striding down an office hall. Timon looks like the young, newly-rich CEO of a suddenly booming tech start-up, which he is. Trying to keep up is FLAVIA, his young assistant, also dressed professionally but with a trendy air. She is juggling sheaves of papers, he is tucking his sleek cell phone away.

Imprisoned is he, say you?

Ay, my good lord; five talents is his debt, his means most short, his creditors most strait: Your honorable letter he desires to those who have shut him up; which failing, periods his comfort.

Noble Ventidius! Well, I am not of that feather to shake off my friend when he must need me. I do know him a gentleman that well deserves a help.
Which he shall have. I'll pay the debt, and free him.

Your lordship ever binds him.

Commend me to him; I will send his ransom; and being enfranchised, bid him come to me. 'Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support him after. Fare you well.

All happiness to your honor!

Timon and Flavia enter and see VARRO, an older, distinguished man, a venture capitalist and a member of Timon's board of directors; SERVILIUS, one of Timon's tech gurus; and an attractive young woman, Varro's daughter EVANTHE, all waiting paitently in a well-appointed anteroom. Varro stands up.

Lord Timon, hear me speak!

Freely, good father.

Flavia peels off and sits at her desk, picking up the phone, while Timon nods at the trio and ushers them through the heavily-paneled door beyond Flavia's little desk.

We see Timon's lush, dark-wooded and tastefully-furnished inner office. It features a bar, a wide-screen plasma TV, nice furniture, muted but expensive-looking paintings.
Timon takes his place behind a massive oak desk and kicks his feet up, nudging an XBox off to the side.
Servilius and the young woman smile, but Varro looks flustered.

This fellow here, Lord Timon, this thy creature, by night frequents my house. I am a man that from my first have been inclined to thrift; and my estate deserves an heir more raised than one which holds a trencher.

Timon glances back and forth between Servilius and Varro.

Well, what further?

Only one daughter have I, no kin else, on whom I may confer what I have got. The maid is fair, o' the youngest for a bride, and I have bred her at my dearest cost in qualities of the best. This man of thine attempts her love. I prithee, noble lord, join with me to forbid him her resort; myself have spoke in vain.

Timon seems surprised.

The man is honest.

Therefore he will be, Timon. His honesty rewards him in itself; it must not bear my daughter.
Timon looks steadily at the young couple.

Does she love him?

She is young and apt. Our own precedent passions do instruct us what levity's in youth.
Timon looks directly at Servilius.

Love you the maid?

Ay, my good lord, and she accepts of it.

If in her marriage my consent be missing, I call the gods to witness, I will choose mine heir from forth the beggars of the world, and dispossess her all.

Timon raises an eyebrow.

How shall she be endowed, if she be mated with an equal husband?

Three talents on the present; in future, all.

This gentleman of mine hath served me long; to build his fortune, I will strain a little, for 'tis a bond in men. Give him thy daughter what you bestow, in him I'll counterpoise, and make him weigh with her.

Varro is stunned, as is the young couple.

Most noble lord, pawn me to this your honor, she is his.

Timon stands up, grinning, and offers Servilius his hand.

My hand to thee; mine honor on my promise.

Humbly I thank your lordship; never may the state or fortune fall into my keeping, which is not owed to you!

Varro, his daughter, and Servilius all exit, the younger people beaming, the elder less so.

Servilius bids his farewell to his future bride and father-in-law at the door of Timon's massive glass-and-chrome building, then turns to go back to work with a wave.

APEMANTUS, a handsome but hot-blooded radical, roughly Timon's age, comes strolling down the sidewalk, handing out pamphlets to passersby. He is bearded, has an old army jacket on, ragged jeans, faded t-shirt.

Varro catches him out of the corner of his eye and his face clouds, but he doesn't lose a step.
Apemantus stops in front of the imposing front of Timon's office.

From Apemantus' POV we look up, and up, and up, at Timon's spire, reaching into the bright blue sky.

Timon strides past Flavia, a dress coat draped over one arm, a briefcase swinging from the other. Flavia is talking on the phone, but cups the receiver and calls out to Timon.
'Tis Alcibiades, and some twenty horse, all of companionship.
Timon's face breaks into a wide smile.
Pray, entertain them; give them guide to us.
Timon strides out.

Apemantus looks gloomily at Timon's building.
He fishes in his ragged pants and pulls out a snapshot.
From Apemantus' point of view, we see it is an old photo of a younger Timon and Apemantus, in full skatepunk regalia, boards over their shoulders, giving the camera the thumbs up.
A moment later, Timon--driving a flashy sportscar--roars out of the parking garage adjacent and zooms past.
Apemantus watches Timon's taillights disappear.
A gust of wind in the car's wake blows a newspaper against Apemantus' leg. He absently plucks it off, but then the headline draws his attention.
From his POV we see the headline: ATHENS-OS FLOATS IPO TODAY. Below it, a subheading reads: "CEO Hosts Celebration Tonight."
Apemantus, thinking, carefully folds the newspaper and tucks it in a pocket; then follows down the sidewalk in Timon's wake.

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