Saint John the Divine in Iowa

by Lyralen Kaye

INT. REVEREND ALEX AND CHARLIE’S KITCHEN, THAT NIGHT
Reverend Alex leans against the kitchen counter, her eyes half closed, too exhausted to move. She holds the crucifix with her hand. Charlie enters. He looks at her hand, then up to her face, concerned.
CHARLIE
How was it?
REVEREND ALEX
Tom doesn’t talk to Tiff enough.
She drops the crucifix and turns to pull a vegan cookbook from where it stands on the counter. He takes it from her.
CHARLIE
I finished your list.
(Beat.)
Did you eat?
She shakes her head.
CHARLIE (CONT’D)
Sit down. I’ll bring you vegan whatever.
REVEREND ALEX
I want to make quiche. For Sarah.
He puts an arm around her, leading her into the living room. Where he undoes the back of her priest’s collar, and pulls it free of the cloth. He puts it gently on her lap.
CHARLIE
She’ll live without quiche.
He kisses her and exits to the kitchen. The sound of the refrigerator being opened, of plastic hitting the counter, of a plate being pulled from the cabinet, leak into the room. Alex leans back, her fingers wound around the collar, and closes her eyes. Within seconds, she is sound asleep.
INT. REVEREND ALEX AND CHARLIE’S KITCHEN, THE NEXT MORNING
Reverend Alex, hair still damp from a shower, mashes tofu in a bowl on the counter. Next to the bowl stand a box labeled, Tofu Scramble/Tofu Quiche, and a glass pie pan. She pushes a fork into the white block.
Charlie walks casually into the kitchen. He stops when he sees what she’s doing.
REVEREND ALEX
I don’t have to cook it. I just want it to be ready.
CHARLIE
Okay.
He puts his arms around her.
CHARLIE (CONT'D)
She’d know you loved her even if we had to get salads at McDonald’s.
She stops mashing and leans against him
REVEREND ALEX
I just...haven’t seen her since Easter. She didn’t come home all summer. And now she won’t even do Skype.
(Beat.)
And this no notice, and suddenly bringing home this friend-
CHARLIE
Alex.
REVEREND ALEX
Right. Another Alex. So Freudian.
She takes a deep breath. Straightens. And starts to mash the tofu again.
REVEREND ALEX (CONT’D)
(All business.)
We need to leave at 2:30 to get there by four.
CHARLIE
Yes, boss.
Charlie exits.
UPSTAIRS, MASTER BEDROOM
Charlie goes into the master bedroom with its queen bed, matching dressers, and wall to wall carpet. He opens the closet door. All the shoes he’s piled in fall out. He swears.
Then he reaches over the shoes to pull out a shirt, exactly the same as the one he now wears, only in a different color. He holds it up to himself in front of the mirror. Then he changes shirts.
DOWNSTAIRS, KITCHEN
Reverend Alex finishes the mashing. Opens the refrigerator door and pulls out a bag of vegan cheese, which she adds to the mix. Then she puts it in the pie pan, covers it with Saran wrap, and puts it in the refrigerator.
UPSTAIRS, MASTER BEDROOM
Charlie is on his knees, shoving shoes into the closet. Reverend Alex enters, takes one look, sighs, and exits the way she came.
UPSTAIRS, HALLWAY
Reverend Alex paces.
UPSTAIRS, MASTER BEDROOM
Charlie finishes putting the shoes in the closet. Then he looks down at his shoes, which are leather. He sits down on the floor, pulls out a pair of sneakers, and changes his shoes.
He stretches out his legs and looks at them. And then changes back.
Reverend Alex peeks in, sees what he’s doing, and groans.
She shakes her head and exits.
UPSTAIRS, DEN - CONTINUOUS
Reverend Alex enters the den, with its pictures of Harvard Divinity School and Desmond Tutu, its neatly organized file cabinets and alphabetized bookshelves, its tupperware containers labeled “pens,” “pencils,” “post-its,” “binder clips, small,” etc. She sits down at the computer, and fidgets. Occasionally, she looks back at the hallway.
REVEREND ALEX
(Calling.)
You ready?
Charlie makes an unintelligible grunting sound.
REVEREND ALEX (CONT’D)
(Calling.)
I don’t want to keep reminding you.

Alex waits. Finally she opens a her google calendar. And begins to work.
The phone rings.
She answers it. And listens.
REVEREND ALEX (CONT’D)
What was his blood level when they stopped him?
She listens.
REVEREND ALEX (CONT’D)
And they’re holding Evan, too?
As she continues to talk, she stands and leaves the den.
DOWNSTAIRS, KITCHEN
Charlie stands, hands in his pockets, jingling his change, jacket on, waiting.
UPSTAIRS, REVEREND ALEX AND CHARLIE’S BEDROOM
Reverend Alex has changed shirts, and is fastening her priest collar around her neck.
Charlie enters.
CHARLIE
I thought you said 2:30. It’s 2:45.
REVEREND ALEX
We have to make a stop on the way.
EXT. EVANSDALE POLICE STATION
The Camry pulls up next to a line of 3 police cars, and Reverend Alex jumps out. Charlie sits, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER
Reverend Alex exits the station, her arm around TRACY, 37, a pale woman with a yellowing bruise on her face, and EVAN, 11, scrawny and tall for his age, who walks slightly ahead, looking at the pavement in front of him.
They start down the stairs.
REVEREND ALEX
Don’t post bail, Tracy.
TRACY
He’ll call me.
REVEREND ALEX
Can you not answer?
Evan stops walking and looks at her.
EVAN
I can not answer.
He holds out his hand. Tracy looks at him and slowly, slowly, takes her cell phone out of her purse. He has to pull it out of her hand.
REVEREND ALEX
Evan-
EVAN
It’s better this way.
Reverend Alex clearly disagrees. But she looks up at Charlie, waiting in the car. Then back at Evan.
REVEREND ALEX
I’ll see you in church on Sunday?
Evan nods. And then he and Tracy walk to their beat up old Ford. Reverend Alex watches them go, worry creasing her face.
INT. CAMRY - CONTINUOUS
Reverend Alex gets in the car. Charlie puts it into gear and drives out of the parking lot. A little too fast.
REVEREND ALEX
I’m sorry.
Charlie doesn’t answer at first. He’s clearly stressed.
REVEREND ALEX (CONT’D)
The father was driving drunk with his son in the car.
CHARLIE
...Asshole.
REVEREND ALEX
It’s a disease, Charlie.
CHARLIE
Only if you don’t have to live with it.
Reverend Alex puts her hand on his arm.
REVEREND ALEX
I’m going to help that boy. I am.
He takes her hand from his arm and holds it. Then he brings it to his lips.
They drive.
EXT. WATERLOO AIRPORT - A LITTLE LATER
Reverend Alex and Charlie walk along the wide walkway outside the airport doors.
CHARLIE
How is it that we’re only ten minutes late?
Reverend Alex gives him the same little shrug she gave to Frances. Her, “I’m not going to answer,” shrug.
CHARLIE (CONT’D)
Did you do that thing where you tell me we have to leave way earlier than we have to leave?
She raises an eyebrow.
CHARLIE (CONT’D)
I hate that.
In front of them, the airport revolving door turns and SARAH, 24, pretty, dark-haired, wearing a hippie skirt and earrings, steps out.
Charlie and Alex’s faces light up with huge smiles, and they start walking faster.
Behind Sarah, dragging a suitcase, with a canvas pack on her back, YOUNGER ALEX, 27, gender queer, with a boy’s punk haircut, boy’s jeans and T-shirt, a pierced nose, pierced eyebrow and ear rim, a tattoo sleeve on her left arm and other tattoos on her neck and opposite wrist, follows.
Sarah turns, smiles, and reaches out a hand. Younger Alex takes it.
Reverend Alex and Charlie’s smiles fade. They stop in their tracks. And stare.
Younger Alex says something. Sarah leans over and kisses her.
CHARLIE (CONT’D)
(Lips barely moving.)
Is that a boy or a girl?
REVEREND ALEX
(Lips barely moving.)
Is that a bull ring in her nose?
CHARLIE
Her?
REVEREND ALEX
I told you Sarah was gay.
CHARLIE
That was when she was six.
REVEREND ALEX
Still gay, Charlie.
CHARLIE
And what about Republican Brian?
REVEREND ALEX
Smile, Charlie. And be glad.
Reverend Alex and Charlie paste big smiles on their faces and start to walk again.
Sarah sees them. She looks at her mother’s priest collar and frowns. Then she looks at Charlie, who holds out his arms. She runs and grabs him like a child.
Which leaves the two Alex’s looking at each other.
Reverend Alex abruptly stretches out a hand.
REVEREND ALEX (CONT’D)
Welcome to Iowa.
Sarah turns to them. She slides an arm around her mother’s waist.
SARAH
Alex, this is Alex.
YOUNGER ALEX
So Freudian.
CHARLIE
That’s what she (indicating Reverend Alex) said.
The two Alexes look at each other. There is an awkward pause.
CHARLIE (CONT’D)
(To Sarah.)
So, you’re gay.
Another awkward pause. Reverend Alex opens her mouth, then closes it. Younger Alex turns to Sarah.
YOUNGER ALEX
You didn’t tell them?
SARAH
I didn’t want to do it on the phone.
REVEREND ALEX
There’s this thing...
Younger Alex joins in and they speak together.
REVEREND ALEX AND YOUNGER ALEX
Called Skype.
They glance at each other, start to smile, then glance away.
SARAH
I’m gay. Or bi. Or pansexual. I don’t really know.
YOUNGER ALEX
Well, you’re definitely not straight. I can testify to that.
An awkward silence. Sarah ducks her head to hide her smile.
REVEREND ALEX
Charlie, why don’t you go get the car?


Writer's excerpt courtesy NYWIFT (NYWIFT.ORG)