[What follows is a scene from LOVE MONSTER, the screenplay for FLB's haunting new novel BEYOND THE PALE MOTEL, written by C. N. Blakemore and Francesca Lia Block. - cnb]
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INT. CATT'S HOUSE IN SILVER LAKE
Catt already looks calmer.
Thanks. I might. See you tomorrow.
She sets her phone down and sits up in bed.
She thumbs through a magazine, throws it down. Bored.
Clicks through channels on the TV. Bleech.
There's noise from the street, two people yelling angrily. The male voice takes on a threatening tone, though we can't make out any of the words.
A loud, sharp bang. Then silence: a deep, foreboding silence.
A light in her hall flickers, then dies. Catt starts to shiver again.
Picks up the phone, clicks to Recent numbers. Right at the top, after Shana and Bree: Jarell Hardin. After thinking for a second, she punches in a text.
INT. CATT'S HOUSE - LATER
The lights are all extinguished, save for a modest few that contribute to the desired mood. She is draping a floor lamp with a rose-colored scarf when she hears a knock on the door. She hurries to answer.
Jarell is there, leaning on the doorjamb, a half-smile on his face. Catt's relief is palpable.
Nice place, godmom.
It just got a whole lot nicer.
Careful or I'll get the wrong idea.
Come in and we can get the wrong idea together.
Jarell laughs, a big, rolling laugh from his core.
I have water and water. And tea. Which is mostly water too.
Jarell sits on the couch. She stops at the door to the kitchen to watch him.
I'll take whatever has the least water.
Can it wait?
She sits beside him. He sees her mala beads on the table and rolls them in his palm.
Don't make fun! I love meditation.
Me too, me too. It was one of my favorite ways to get ready for a game, back in the day.
You know, I don't think you ever said what it is you do now.
Did you ever ask?
She makes a face, acknowledging his point.
I'm a cop.
Catt throws her hands up dramatically.
Not that type of cop. Nothing so interesting. I work in the neighborhood outreach program. Helping at-risk kids and families.
You are too good to be believed!
My ex-wife might disagree.
Yours and everybody else's.
EXT. CATT'S BACK PATIO – LATER
Jarell sits at a wrought iron table with the sounds of the night all about him, smoking a doobie.
To one side, a hammock hangs between two poplars; to the other there's a grape arbor strung with little skeleton lights.
It's a warm, dark night in late spring. Someone's having a party on the other side of the hill. Distant chatter and music, occasionally a woman's scream, which is most probably exaggerated laughter.
Catt comes out with a frosted pitcher and he stubs out his spliff. She sets the pitcher down beside two highball glasses and holds up a lemon.
Look what I found.
If you close your eyes and think impure thoughts, these can become mojitos.
Is that how you [think]-
God no. My thoughts are always pure.
He watches her for a minute. She seems more relaxed than she was earlier, her smile sincere.
You know what? I believe you.
Oh I assure you!
He reaches into his pocket and tosses a coin on the table.
All right then, a penny for them.
That's a quarter.
You can owe me. What were you thinking just now?
She draws a deep breath.
I was thinking... what other things you might have done to get ready for a game.
Well, I've heard that some guys –
Jarrell reaches across the table and pulls her mouth to his. A long, hot kiss follows.
What was all that about 'pure thoughts'?
Catt kisses him again, even more passionately. When they break:
Can we play now?
You wanna play?
He unbuttons the top two buttons on her blouse, but as it is taking far too long, she wriggles out of the damn thing and tosses it aside. Then her hands are on his belt and pants buttons. Both are undone.