Fade in: Sunny morning, Brownstone and tree-lined street in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn NY. On the corner, a group of 6, sharply dressed men and women are congregated. They are JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES. They huddle momentarily then split into two teams of three. One group crosses the street and, parallel to one another, both groups proceed up the block. At the first homes they come to, they climb the steps and ring the bells.
Cut to: A man sleeping peacefully in his queen-sized cherry sleigh bed. This is LOCO. He is mumbling gibberish in his sleep, smiling sardonically between breaths.
Camera Pulls back through the wall, a trick shot: Reveals that Loco lives in the brownstone to be visited next by the Witnesses. They climb his steps and ring his bell.
Camera returns to Loco’s bedroom, reverse trick shot, in time to see him startled awake by the bell. He glances at the clock…sees it’s early yet, and lays back down. Another ring of the bell jars him again. He rises.
Cut to Loco, bleary-eyed, opening the door, blinking at the sunlight pouring in. He rubs his eyes and opens them. In his face we can see he doesn’t so much know the people at his door as he knows what they’re about. And he isn’t thrilled.
JEHOVAH’S WITNESS: (Holding literature…a magazine with a message suggesting disaster approaches) We just wanted to know if we could interest you in some literature that can change your life.
Loco (Rubs his eyes, yawns): uh huh…
Witness: …we think everyone should know the truth and in that way they can know God Jehovah and salvation…
Loco: Does any of this require me spending any money, knocking on stranger’s doors or submitting to anybody’s God?
Witness: Well…you don’t get something for nothing in this world, now do you?
Loco (stops rubbing his eyes and stares at the speaker. He has heard something unexpected): I agree with that statement 100%.
Loco: Whoa! ok, the moment’s over…anyway, I’m already happy and I’m not in need of salvation at this time. Just a shower…and some toothpaste…and I could use some cream for my coffee cuz I’m fresh out. You wouldn’t have any cream on you, would you? I’ll let you in and have a chat over coffee if you have some cream on you.
Witness: Ummm…we should be going. Sorry to have disturbed you…
Loco- Sure you are. That’s the same thing I was told last week and the week before but you guys just keep doing it. What are you, hoping you might catch me off guard, weak and needy, and slip me some literature?
JEHOVAH’S WITNESS: No nothing like that sir, were just trying to spread the word to as many people as possible…Armageddon is coming. Time to repent.
Loco- Don’t you have a special list of people who just ain’t worth the effort? If you do, please put this house on that list. Trust me, I’m beyond redemption. Don’t make me have to prove it! Have a lovely day.
The door closes.
Fade to black.
Fade in: Caption: (6 years later, in Yokohama)
Overhead shot of a sunny afternoon in a park in Yokohama. Montage of various park scenes: many happy Japanese faces, teens playing baseball, some older folk playing ground golf, joggers chatting as they jog, dog walkers having a chat while their dogs frolic and lick one another, a man is feeding a hundred pigeons bread, a group of mothers are taking their respective children for a stroll in their strollers.
Camera pans across park, catching Japanese people in various activities, panning by a black man and several other Japanese people before freezing and panning back to the black man. He’s casually dressed, wearing jeans and a vest, smoking a cigar and drinking coffee from a can. It is LOCO again, older we can see in his greying whiskers and growing gut, and the grin he had as a younger man has become much more sardonic.
Cut to Loco’s POV: Kanji characters are appearing on the LED of a cellphone: Cars are passing by beyond it. One of these cars stops suddenly, audibly. The camera pans up to see the car reverse back to the entrance in front of Loco. Zoom in to see a white man hastily getting out of the car closing the door and coming towards the camera.
Cut to Loco’s face: wearing an expression of WTF!
Cut to approaching man’s face. Calm, nonthreatening, filled of inner peace and righteousness. He is GABRIEL. Pan down: He has a briefcase in one hand and what looks like a pamphlet in the other.
Gabriel: “So sorry to disturb you but can I interest you in some reading materials?”
loco laughs as if a funny joke had been told and it took him a moment to get it.
Loco: What, are you serious?
Gabriel: Of course. (He presents the material to Loco. Loco glances at it and recognizes it immediately: Jehovah’s Witness magazine AWAKE!) There is information in here that can change…
Loco: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute…Let me get this straight. You were driving along in your car when you came upon me standing here drinking coffee and smoking and you thought, “Now there’s a soul worth saving? Or “a soul that needs saving”?
Gabriel: What, uhhh, something like that…I guess, yes.
Loco: Well, damn…I don’t know if I should feel flattered or insulted.
Loco: You mean both.
Gabriel: No I mean neither. I see everyone the same way.
Loco: You must stop a lot, then.
Gabriel smiles. Loco glances at Gabriel’s car.
Loco: And, your cars idling, I see. Do you often proselytize by drive-by?
Loco: Not very ecologically sound down under, are you guys?
Gabriel: I’m actually from New Zealand.
Loco: Sorry…down under the down under.
Gabriel: Haha…you’re funny. Anyway, the way I see it…
Loco: You don’t have to explain…I get it! You’ll take saving a soul over saving the ozone any day.
Gabriel: Haha, yeah, something like that.
Loco: I ain’t got no qualms with that. I think most of that global warming malarkey is a hoax anyway.
Gabriel: I don’t…well, anyway, would you like to check out our…
Loco: You’re really a Witness???
Gabriel: Yes I am.
Loco: I didn’t know there were Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan.
Gabriel: There are many here. But how did you know I was one?
Loco: I’m from Brooklyn, New York.
Loco: Have you ever been to the Watchtower building in Brooklyn?
Gabriel: Yeah, several times. New York is awesome.
Beat. Awkward pause.
Loco: Anyway, sorry to have wasted your gas and time but I’m a practicing agnostic and don’t really see much reason to change my views.
Gabriel: I see…well thanks for…
Loco: And, if you don’t mind a little constructive criticism…I wouldn’t make a practice of rolling up on people like that. Hell, I thought I was in an episode of Cops in Yokohama.
Gabriel: Sorry about that…
Loco: Do you roll up on Japanese people like that, too?
Gabriel: Sometimes, but…
Loco: They don’t respond well to that tactic, do they?
Gabriel: Haha. No, they don’t. You’re absolutely right about that. Almost gave a poor woman a heart attack once.
Loco: The last white man who rolled up on me like that had a badge, a gun and a scary disposition. You have none of those, fortunately for me.
Gabriel: You’re funny.
Loco: I have my moments. But, seriously… there was an urgency in the way you did it…you must know that.
Gabriel: I didn’t mean to startle you. I just felt very strongly about doing it…you know, suddenly. Whenever I get an urge like that I feel like it’s divine intervention. That god filled me with the urgency.
Loco: Hmmm…Believe or not, I know exactly what you mean…and I’m a heathen. I get those urges all the time. I don’t always act on them, though. And, if I don’t, I often regret it afterward. I rarely regret acting on them, though.
Gabriel: Maybe god wanted us to meet.
Loco: Maybe He did at that, but I don’t think He necessarily had my soul in mind. Maybe he wanted me to challenge your resolve.
Gabriel: I guess that’s possible…He’s done that before.
Loco: He’s a mysterious one, ain’t He?
Gabriel: That He is.
Loco: Well, I’m sure we’re both up to the task so let’s just call it a stalemate and chalk it up to one of those mysteries that will either be resolved one day or on Judgment day.
Gabriel: That sounds good.
Loco: By the way, what’s your name?
Gabriel: It’s Gabriel.
Loco: Well, I’m Loco, and if you’re ever around here around this time, I’m usually in this park. I work at that school right there across the street.
Gabriel: It was really nice chatting with you, Mr. Loco, and I just might take you up on that.
“I can’t fathom that the things important to me are not important to other people and so I come off like a missionary, someone whose job it is to convert rather than listen.” David Sedaris