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Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1998, Dorian Scott Cole
The Challenges





Screen Novel
Enhanced screenplay - reads like a novel


D. Scott Cole

Based on characters and ideas from

the novel

Priest of Sales

By D. Scott Cole








Gina is seated in a comfortable armchair. TYLER, a hypnotist, is seated near her.

Tyler is barely able to contain himself. "You can actually put yourself in a trance?"

Gina is anything but interested in his interest in her unique abilities. "Yes, all I have to do is concentrate on an image," she says as if it was the most common thing in the world.

"Anyone that adept at self hypnosis is very rare," Tyler marvels.

"I've been called rare, and a number of less kind names."

Tyler excitedly repositions himself in his chair as if preparing for a flamingo dance. "Well, then, let's get started. Gina I'm going to take you into your.... dream and have you tell us what it means."

Gina responds as if he is finally going to do her the favor. "Thank-you."

"Make yourself very comfortable. Watch the light. It's going to change color, and as the colors grow deeper and softer, you're going to become more and more relaxed." He pauses for a moment and lets her concentrate on the slowly changing light. " Now you see pink. Let the pink wrap around you... and as it fades to scarlet then purple... surrounding you with warmth and love. Imagine a sunset... a restful time... be at peace. Now green... a very pleasant green... very relaxing... like a deep forest, drawing you into it... very still... very peaceful. Now blue... a very dark blue... like the sky at night, bringing you closer to night and deep restful sleep.

"Close your eyes, Gina, and listen to my voice... let my voice guide you, take you within yourself... Bring to mind your dream... Let it take form... See the people... their faces... your surroundings... Where are you now?

"I'm lying in a casket."

"I want you to stand up and tell us what you are afraid of?"


Gina slowly stands up in the casket and looks at Kenrick. Kenrick smiles at her.

"Lay down, Gina. There's no escape; it's your time." Kenrick seems very happy to explain this to her.


Kenrick laughs at her, but it is an evil laugh. "Who do you think you are?"

He begins to chant:

"Don't you laugh as the hearse goes by
for you may be the next to die."

Gina reaches down and takes the shovel from beside the casket. With growing anger she hits him with the shovel, then enraged, continues hitting him mercilessly even after he falls to the ground. She puts his body in the casket and buries him.


Tyler is studying Gina, who seems troubled in her hypnosis.

"Gina, what are you doing?"

"I.... I killed him. I'm burying him." It is obvious from her head turning this way and that, that she is both doing some physical activity in her dream and she is disturbed by it.

"Why did you do that?" the psychologist inquires in a non-judgmental intonation.

"I'm tired of him singing that stupid song and burying me."

The psychologist is all smiles, pleased with himself. "Gina, as I count backwards from three you'll awaken. You'll remember everything and you'll feel very refreshed and at peace. Three, two.... one. Open your eyes."

Gina opens her eyes and stretches.

"Congratulations, you're cured," Tyler says proudly.

"What did the dream mean?" Gina asks anxiously.

"I have no idea. It's no longer important, you killed the demon. You're cured."

"I don't want to be cured! I want to know what the dream means!"


Gina speaks into her tape recorder. I want to know what the dream means. I want to know what I'm afraid of."

She turns on the computer and a picture of a casket is reflected around the mirrored room. Gina sits complacently looking at it. As she speaks, nothing hits home.

"Death," she suggests to herself. "Eternal damnation. Graves. Six feet of dirt. Evil spirits. Bah, humbug."

She waits, thinking, and finally shrugs. She speaks again into the tape recorder, trying again to form some association that will lead her into her own psyche.

"I'm not afraid of the casket... not the grave... not of death. Is there something in life I'm afraid of?... life?... to live?... not living? Not living." She turns the phrase over in her head, musing about the meaning, and she begins to smile.

"Afraid of not living. I'm afraid of not.... having lived... not having done things. Well, well, well. Progress at last." Here at last she feels she has a clue to her mystery. It is not fear of dying - no death is just an ending - a big fat zero - it is nothing to fear. It isn't death that she fears at all. There is so much life in her. So much to do. So much passion that needs to be spent in living. Death puts an end to living, and it is killing her a little bit every day. One day there will be nothing left.


Several club managers including Travis, Mark and Arabella, are sitting around the room. Gina enters, bubbly and bright, full of enthusiasm.

"Hi everyone! Things are looking bright! I've got all kinds of great news that's going to resolve a lot of our problems and increase your sales. Want to hear it?"

"Yeah," they mutter as if she were offering them a death march.

"Do I ever accept a response like that? No, I'm Gina, and it has to be good. C'mon now, we work for a great company in one of the best professions around. You can't help but be up, seeing all these beautiful people around you. Nowc'mon, say "yes" and let me feel it."

"Yeah," they mutter a little louder, as if they have just dragged themselves slightly off the bottom.

As Gina talks she walks around the room, putting her hand on people's shoulder, commiserating, consoling, making them laugh.

"What are you guys so down about? Oh, I know, things are going so bad and you feel guilty and you're just nursing all that guilt like little children nursing a sucker. Well suckers will make your tongue red." She sticks her tongue out at them and goes from person to person letting them look at her tongue. They begin to smile.

"OK, Let's get the guilt out and bury it! If you didn't do well this week, don't let it get you down. If you suck that guilt sucker, it will just keep you from doing well next week. What do you keep that guilt sucker for, Mary? Plant fertilizer? How about you, Garr? Are you savoring it? It's not sweet, it's an old sour pickle! Take your shovel and throw dirt on it." She acts like she is shoveling, and if they don't smile, she dumps dirt on their heads.

"Sharon, want me to get you a shovel? I know you've been busy and you're getting burned out. But we've been working on solutions, and I have some tonight. The future has so much potential it's getting crazy. That's why I brought you these!"

She begins throwing funny hats at them. They put them on, everyone looking like a clown, they can't help but laugh at each other. The mood is lightening, and is infectious.

"Anyone else have a problem?" Gina asks, picking up a shovel full of dirt and preparing to dump it on someone.

"I hear someone is picking up new responsibilities," Laura says, challenge in her voice.

"That's part of the news. Isn't it great!?" Gina says enthusiastically. "Do you know what this means?"

"Yes, and I think some of us have a problem with that." Laura is determined to be a wet blanket. Laura looks at Mark and Arabella. They have obviously discussed this among themselves and it is an issue. The light atmosphere is beginning fall like the rain.

Gina is not to be shaken, and not to let an ugly problem dominate the meeting. "OK, see me after the meeting. Nowc'mon people, let me feel it. Do you want the good news?"

"Yeah!" Everyone says, anticipation in their voices.

"Number one. Arabella is now Club Manager in Petersburg. Let's here it for Arabella!"

"Yeah, Arabella!" They cheer enthusiastically, everyone beaming at her good fortune.

Gina's enthusiasm raises even more to deliver the next news, hoping to avoid the gloom that she knows could settle over them if she isn't careful now. "Number two. Travis is picking up a lot of my responsibilities so I can do more planning and get this organization out of the pits. We've bottomed out. We're on the way back up! What do you think, is that great or what?"

"Or what!" A few mutter. They can't overcome their feelings in spite of themselves. Then they laugh at themselves, embarrassed with Travis sitting among them. Their attitudes could be all a joke.

"You guys!" Gina scolds. "Let's hear it for Travis."

 They work up some spirit. "Yeah, Travis."

Gina quickly moves on, trying to keep the enthusiasm from draining away. "Now, here's the new promotion that starts THE END OF THIS WEEK! YEAHHHHHHHH!"

A short time later the meeting ends and people are filing out, including Travis, and people are politely shaking hands with him. As Mark leaves, he shakes Gina's hand. He lingers with her hand in his, gives her a smile, a peck on the cheek, and leaves. Laura waits until the room is clear except for Gina.

"Have I done something wrong?" Laura asks.

"No, not at all," Gina replies, surprised.

"Then why is it that this guy who breaks company rules, gets promoted instead of fired," she complains.

"It wasn't my decision. We need managers giving a hundred fifty percent, and we need new people desperately."

"Well, I won't work with the slime ball, so don't send him around my club. You know, it might have been wiser to give me the position since I have the club here in town, and wiser to leave the gigolo in his hen house!"

Laura fumes out. Gina watches her go.



Travis is standing in Mark's office, waiting for Mark, staring at a picture of two opposing teams of horses trying to pull a ball apart. Mark comes in.

"Travis. How's the world treating you?" Mark greets him.

"More than fair. What is this picture about? Some sarcastic commentary on teamwork?"

"That was a scientific experiment. The ball is under vacuum. To test how strong a vacuum is they pumped all the air out. But all the kings horses couldn't pull the ball apart."

"So, just what is a vacuum?" Travis asks, curious.

"It's just the pressure of the air around you. You know when you dive in water, the deeper you go the higher the pressure? Well, the air around us is miles deep. It puts a lot of pressure on us. So much that several horses can't pull it apart. Kind of like the business pressure we're under." With that, Mark takes the picture off the wall and dumps it in the trash.

Travis is puzzled, unsure where to turn. Mark has a history of doing bizarre things. He decides he can't ignore Mark's actions - it must be meant to tell him something.  "Why did you do that?" he asks.

"When something keeps hurting you, you get it out of the way," Mark explains, strong feelings swarming just below the surface.

"Why is it hurting you?" Travis continues, having no idea where this is going.

Mark sits down and rubs his eyes with the palms of his hands as if he is weary of work and life. After looking weary for a very long pause, he finally answers. " I always wanted to be a scientist. It's never going to happen."

"Why not?" Travis asks innocently.

"No chance. I started in this company my sophomore year of college - had to leave college - no finances. That's the way my life goes." Travis doesn't immediately respond, so he continues. "I wasn't born wealthy - wasn't born with a golden spoon in my mouth - not born with... opportunity. I... just wasn't born with it."

"You're not married. Go for it." Travis responds, as if marriage was the only anchor in life that might hold someone back.

"It's too late. I owe too much. I'm thirty four - no one stays in this company past thirty - and it's too late to go to college. I'm a manager working to be a has been. I'll probably sell shoes the rest of my life."

Travis stands against the wall, speechless. He has had no preparation to counter Mark's attitude, so fatalistic, so negative, so... incomprehensible to Travis.

"Why don't you go to night school or something?" The words tumble accusingly from his lips before he can stop them.

Mark snorts at this. "I have so much time and energy togo to night school" he says deridingly. "This business runs you ragged." Mark seems to decide he has extracted his measure of sympathy and seemingly frees Travis. " Don't let me depress you, Travis, nothing in my life has ever worked out. Not even love."

Their eyes lock for an instance and then both look away. Mark hasn't freed him - all this talk about loss was only coming to one point - Gina. Mark had once had Gina in his life, and now Mark suspects there is something going on between he and Gina - even if it is only business, it is better than nothing.


Margo is helping Tracy put up a beauty poster. Travis enters. Tracy hastily leaves.

"Time for a facial," Travis says, obviously hurt and discouraged.

Margo glances after Tracy, then says, "Sure, sit down. I'll do it."

Travis sits in the chair. Margo puts a gown around him and begins the scrub. "How's the testosterone blocker working?"

"Excellently. I haven't seduced a woman since I went on it. I don't even smile at them. In fact, I don't think I can even get aroused. I think maybe you cured me, Margo," he says sincerely.

Margo is disbelieving. "You and Gina belong together. You both believe in miracles."

"What? I suppose now you're going to tell me there's no Santa?"

Margo laughs. They share a look and a smile. Margo begins with the face mud. While she is spreading mud, she asks, "I'm curious, if you don't mind talking about it. Just what is it you do to women?"

"Oh, I just treat them right. That's why I can't figure out why everyone gets so mad at me. I mean, I give a woman a wonderful evening. I satisfy her in bed like she's never been satisfied before. What's to get upset about?"

"You satisfy women in bed every time?" Margo's curiosity is piqued.

"Oh, several climaxes. Always," Travis says, as if this was no small feat.

Margo's interest deepens, "What about yourself?"

"I have plenty of fun. That isn't important."

"Come again?"

Travis puts his hand on her arm, preventing her from putting more mud on. He looks up at her and smiles seductively, continuing to hold her arm.

"It's important to me to satisfy her. How interested are you? I could show you. Might be fun."

Margo is intrigued. Taken.

"Dinner. Dancing." Travis's expression is an open invitation.

Margo suddenly sours, realizing what is going on. She wipes the mud from his face, her strokes with the towel clearly showing her agitation. "You're damned good, Travis. Go see Gina. Now!" She orders. She walks over to her phone and dials.


Travis is just easing tenuously into a chair. Gina is pacing.

"Margo? You tried to seduce Margo? I can't believe this, Travis, you really have balls."

"I thought I had it under control. I had no idea I was going to do that. Look, Gina, I tried to tell you it wouldn't work. I'll save you the trouble of firing me." He quickly launches himself from the chair toward the door.

Gina raises her voice. "Travis, sit down! I've been reading up on this." As Travis eases back toward the chair, she continues, explaining to him, " You're not a gigolo. You have a  problem and we're going to work on this."

Travis snorts, "You're a woman. Can you really understand about my sex life?"

Gina gives him a "Buddy you got it coming look." She pushes Travis to the chair and makes him sit down. She takes a straight chair from the side, turns it around backwards and sits on it, resting her arms on the chair's back.

"I'm going to refresh your memory about something. Remember Mark and I? We were making love every night. We got it under the desk here. Once in the broom closet. We didn't know everyone was hearing us through the ventilator."

They both laugh.

She continues, "We were the scandal of the office and we finally ended in war. Remember, that's when the no intimate contact rule went into effect and Mark was transferred to a lower position."

Travis nods his head.

Gina continues, "When men looked at me, the only thing they thought about was that steamy romance. And I wasn't thinking of much else either. It almost ruined my career, so I put an end to that." Gina pauses for effect. Travis understands the difficulty of ending a romantic relationship.

Again Gina continues explaining, "You see, Nature plays a cruel trick on us. A man starts out horny as a spring hare, and goes downhill. Women go uphill. At about thirty, thirty-five, their libidos cross. Now, you see I have the raging hormones you had when you were nineteen. So, hot nuts, you think I can maybe understand your problem?"

Travis smiles and nods his head.

"I can't spend all day talking to you about this. I want you to meet me tonight. And don't get your hopes up, I can guarantee you, you won't be screwing me.

"You're not afraid of me?" Travis asks, surprise in his voice.

Gina evaluates him for a moment, then shakes her head. "You actually think you're helping women."

Steeped in curiosity at this beautiful woman who is not intimidated by someone who sexually uses women, Travis asks, "What are we going to do?"

"I'll help you with your problem, you help me with mine."


Gina and Travis exit her car. The stores are closed. She goes to the bank machine to get cash, talking to Travis as she does so.

Gina continues the conversation from the car. She is talking about her life. "Actually, I think my mother couldn't stand me. She said I was too precocious and irrepressible. Too... bizarre - and I think she was being nice. She tucked me away in a nice safe Catholic School. "She puts her card in the ATM and pokes numbers.

"Why did she think you were bizarre?" Travis asks.

Gina's look asks if he is putting her on - she is obviously not perfectly normal. "I was.... excitable. Sometimes I fell into a trance and had visions."

"I've heard that. Are your visions religious?"

Gina turns toward him, close, more intimately. "Rarely. Lately they're variations of the same theme, same as my dream. They're about impending death - mine. And they're getting worse."

Travis eyes grow wide. "You're not...." He chokes on the word. "Psychotic.... are you?"

"My mother had me tested by a doctor to make sure I didn't have epilepsy. I'm clean, harmless. The doctor labeled me a hysteric. I hated that label. I'm actually an ecstatic. But people get really uncomfortable with that. They don't really want mystics to exist."

Gina takes the cash from the machine. "C'mon, let's walk."

Travis is intrigued and satisfying his inflated curiosity about her. He continues questioning. "What does your father do?"

"I don't have any idea what he does." She pauses, then says solemnly, "He's dead. He killed himself when I was in college." She continues seriously, "Do you believe God puts people who kill themselves in limbo? Kind of like a purgatory?" This is obviously something that really bothers Gina.

Travis shrugs. He has no ideas about this touchy subject. He asks gently, "Why did he kill himself?"

"He was a commercial artist and he didn't make it. He seldom had a job. He hadn't worked for years when he finally did it."

Travis stops on the sidewalk and looks into her face. "What a thing to have to live with. How do you stay up?"

It's Gina's turn to shrug. She dismisses the question with a little smile and asks. "What about your Dad?"

"My Dad was a Navy Flier. He still lives in San Diego with my mother. He's.... hard to live with."

They have reached a fountain splashed with colored lights. They sit and watch the water silently for a moment.

Gina sighs, relaxing. "I love color. I come here often  late in the evening after work and  just sit and watch the water splash colors all over the fountain."

"It's a beautiful place. Peaceful. Romantic." He stops and quickly looks toward her. "And I don't mean anything by that."

Gina isn't so sure. She has a question she has to know. "What's the deal with Tracy?"

"Probably the biggest screw up of my life," Travis says miserably. "I felt really comfortable with her. I like her a lot. She's exquisite, and when she looks at me there's no doubt she likes me - or she did."

"You talk about Tracy like she turns you on. These other women you seduced, they don't turn you on?"

"Well, they do, but it's not the same."

Gina is perplexed. She wants to know how bad this problem is. "What would happen if, say, I took you to a prostitute tonight and she did everything you could imagine?"

"I wouldn't let her touch me."

"What if it wasn't a prostitute. Maybe some girl who liked you at college, or at the fitness club. Someone who just wanted to crawl all over you."

"Nope," Travis says with certainty.

"Why?" Gina is mystified.

"I don't like charity. It has to be fifty fifty."


"You like that word why," Travis accuses - feeling agitated. He quickly overcomes his agitation and continues, " I give something of value. She gives me back something of value."

"Is that what sex is about? Value?" Gina asks, trying hard to understand.

"Why?" After a moment Travis smiles. "Gotchya."

They both smile, but Gina's smile fades quickly as she asks, "You come along and sweep these women off their feet. The next day your gone and they're left with a blob of semen and an empty spot where love should be. Where's the fair trade value in that?" Gina demands.

"I try my best to give them a wonderful time." Travis asserts. He doesn't not know what he does, and he won't apologize for it. "When I leave, they feel good about themselves!"

Gina is having difficulty controlling her anger. "No! You feel good about yourself! For a day or so. Then you have to do it again and again and again. It's called a Casanova Complex, and you leave behind a trail of women who thought they were getting a wonderful relationship but woke up to an empty bed. How did it feel when you woke up without wonderful Tracy?"

Gina has hit home, acquainting Travis with the pain he is causing. Travis stares sullenly at the fountain.

Next: 5 Hope

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