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Current Episode
113. Mourning After
Story by Angel Dean Lopez
Teleplay by Ethan Reiff
& Cyrus Voris
To the opening notes of “Walking Away” by the Ben Swift Band, we find Stone standing outside of a small store.  A woman exits, and he glances at her briefly before turning his attention to the window display.

It’s decorated for Valentine’s Day, with heart shaped boxes filled with candy and a red teddy bear devil holding a heart that proclaims, “I love you.”  The clerk inside sees him and smiles.  But Stone’s focus on a series of snow globes, and one in particular.  It shows a bride and groom cutting the first slice from their wedding cake.  Written on it in dark block letters is the single word ‘FOREVER.’

Stone focuses on the globes for a moment, and recalls a memory of his life with Rosalyn. 

In black and white, we see Rosalyn working in a kitchen, unpacking pots and pans.  From off screen, Zeke calls, “Hey.  Hey?”  He struggles in the front door, carrying three boxes on top of each other.  “Help.”

The top box begins to fall.  “Oh no, watch it, watch out!”  Rosalyn runs forward and catches it. 

“Got it?” Stone asks.

“Yeah.”  She kneels on the floor to see if the contents of the box are damaged. 

“Thanks,” he says, peering around the other boxes.  He sets them down.  “Tell me there is an air conditioner in this box.”

“No,” she says, smiling.  She gets up from the floor.

“Oh my God,” Stone groans, collapsing onto their couch.  “You couldn’t have found an apartment on the first floor, huh?”

“Well, it was your idea,” Roz says, reaching into the fridge.

“Oh, I chose it now?”

“Yeah.”  Roz returns with an ice cold bottle of beer.  “Don’t say I never gave you anything.” 

“Oh, bless you.”  Stone holds the bottle to his forehead.  “What’s in the box?”

“What?”

“What’s in the box?”

“Nothing.”

“… that you grabbed so desperately?” Zeke continues.

“It’s none of your business.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not important,” Roz insists.

“What in the world?”  Stone puts the beer down.  “Let me see.”

“Please don’t.”

“What are you doing?” he laughs.

“It’s personal, okay?”

“It’s personal?”

“Yes.”

“Let me see?”

“Please don’t.”

“Come on, I’m a cop, I need to know.”  Stone tickles her, moving her away from the box.

“Please don’t.  Please,” Roz pleads.  “Please don’t.  Please.”

“I need to know what’s in the box.”  The black and white Stone reaches into the box, and withdraws a colorful snow globe with a carousel horse inside.  He smiles.  Rosalyn plucks it from his hands as he pulls a second out, also in color.  Her expression is guarded, waiting to see what he will think.  Stone laughs.  He holds up the third globe.  “Cute.”

“You really mean that?” Roz asks hopefully.

“No.   I mean…”  He’s still chuckling.

“Fine.”  Roz says, snatching the globe from him.  She knocks him to the ground, telling him,” I’m gonna kick your ass.”

Stone is still laughing as she climbs on top of him.  “You’re gonna kick my ass?”

“Yes.”  They play fight for a moment, Roz pinning his arms back.

“All right, all right.  You know what?”

“What?”

“You can kick my ass anytime you want to,” Zeke tells his wife.  Still laughing, they kiss, reflected in the color of the globe.

We fade back out to Stone outside the store, and color returns to our world.  A bell chimes as someone exits the store.  Stone steps back as watches the figure walk down the street.  They carry a shopping bag, and wear a hat, making it impossible to tell anything about them.

Stone follows the person home, where they enter and turn on the lights.  Silhouetted against the curtains, we see them remove the hat, and release their long hair.  It’s a woman, that much is sure now.

Stone stands in the bushes, continuing to watch.  When the porch lights come on, he ducks back into the shadows.  Has he been noticed?  But it’s only the owner, coming out to check her mailbox.  For the first time we get a glimpse of the woman… it’s Rosalyn Stone.  She returns inside.

Stone continues to observe from outside, when a commanding voice barks at him, “You there, Peeping Tom!”  Stone whirls to see the Devil approaching him, dressed in black, with a stocking cap on his head, exactly the kind of thing a stereotypical burglar would wear.  “Oh, I see,” the Devil says, as Stone recovers from his shock.  “Peeping Zeke.  Lurking outside your ex-wife’s house like a common voyeur, eh?”

“She’s not my ex-wife, she’s my wife,” Stone says.

“Your widow.  I thought you’d faced this rather elemental fact some time ago.  It’s very touching, in a saccharine kind of way.  This little detour of yours, believe me, it’s not healthy.  It can only mess up your mind, which was in bad enough shape to begin with.  I don’t hire the handicapped, you know.”

“Ssh, ssh, please.  She’s going to hear you.  You’re the last thing she needs to see.  You’re the last thing anybody needs to see.”

The Devil laughs.  “A new Stone.  A more defiant Stone.  A fiercely independent Stone.”

“Whatever.”

“Okay, so what’s your plan?  What are you going to do?  Pop in through the bathroom window and yell, ‘Lucy, I’m home!’”  The Devil imitates Ricky Ricardo.  “’Oh, honey-pie, let’s hit the sack.  Fifteen years is a long time.’”

“Stop, stop,” Stone tells him.  “Stop.” 

“Sensitive soul.  Tell me your plan, tell me what you’re going to tell her.”

“The truth.”

“Suit yourself.  Have it your way.  A word to the wise… don’t say I didn’t warn you.”  The Devil raises his eyebrows, then gasps, turning to look at Rosalyn’s window.  Stone follows his gaze, and the lights go out.  The Devil disappears. 

Stone sighs, realizing he’s missed his chance again.  He’s so close… but still so far away.  There is a rustling in the space previously occupied by the Devil, and Stone sees a snake there, a hooded cobra writhing toward him.  He moves back, but the serpent strikes, sinking its fangs into his hand.  “Ow!” Stone exclaims, massaging his wrist.

                           
B R I M S T O N E

          I was a cop...
          Then my wife was raped.
          I caught the guy who did it,
          And I killed him.
          Two months later I died,
          And went to Hell.
                       (evil laughter)
          113 of the most vile creatures escaped.
                       They think they’ll beat the Devil
                       Nobody beats me.
          So, how am I supposed to them back?
                       The eyes, windows to the soul.
                       Destroy the eyes, and the damned get a one-way ticket back home to Hell.
                       But it’s not Hell you should be scared of --
                       It’s losing your second chance at life on Earth.
          Time to give the Devil his due.

ACT ONE

In the Hotel Irondell, Maxine is vacuuming the lobby when Stone comes in.  “Hey,” he says.

“Hi,” she replies, raising her voice over the roar from the vacuum. 

“That’s got to be the oldest vacuum in existence,” Stone says, walking past.

“What?”  Maxine hits the off switch with her foot.

“I said…”  The whirring stops.  Stone passes it off, and presses the button for the elevator. “Okay.”

“What’s with the hand there?” Maxine wonders.

“Oh, I was, uh, I was attacked by a cobra.”  Stone flexes the wounded hand.

“God, I hate it when that happens.”  She laughs.

“What’s with the present,” Stone asks, still waiting for the elevator. A small box is sitting on the front desk.

“Oh, it’s nothing.  Just a Valentine’s gift from my new boyfriend, Rod.”

“Rod?”

“Careful…” she warns him, picking it up and fiddling with it. 

“What’s in it?  You haven’t opened it.”  Stone takes the box and examines it.

“I’m not gonna open it.  I’ve had my share of Valentine’s Day disappointments, trust me.  Ever since I’m a little girl, you know what I get every year?  Them little stupid candy hearts.  ‘Love Me,’ ‘Hug Me.’  Bite me.”

Stone shakes the box gently.  “I don’t think this is filled with little candy hearts.  Why are you so cynical?”

“Oh, you ever been in love, Stone?”

“Have you?”

“Pfft… thousands of times, too many to mention.”

“Well, I don’t think so.  I mean, loving somebody is totally different than being in love, and, you know, it’s blinding, euphoric, but it’s torture, and it hurts, but you don’t want it to stop.”

“Wow, you’re Mr. Full-Of-Surprises today.”  Max retrieves his mail from behind the desk, and holds it in her hands.

He looks at it.  “Give me this,” he tells her.

“Yes, they’re yours,” she says.

“Give me that.” Stone takes his mail from her and scans through it as he walks away.  “Junk, junk, junk.”

“Hey, Stone, wait, wait,” Maxine calls, catching up to him as he presses the elevator button again.  “Stone, I want to ask you something.  Come here.”

“What?”

“Come here.”  She leads him to a couch as the elevator finally dings its arrival.  “Sit down with me, please,” she says.  “Who was it?”

“Who was what?”

“Who was it… who… who… who was the woman who made you feel like that?  She must have been someday pretty special.”

“My ex-wife.  Well, not actually ex-, we didn’t divorce, we just, were uh, separated.”

“Hmm.”  Maxine thinks about it.  “Sounds complicated.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, how long ago was it?”

“Fifteen years.”

“Fifteen years?”

“Mm-hmm,” he agrees.

“You’ve been carrying a torch for this woman for fifteen years?” She laughs. “You carry that thing much longer, Stone, and you’re going to set yourself on fire.”  She thinks again.  “Stone, call her.”

“No.”

“No, yeah, yeah, yeah, just go to the phone, don’t think about it, don’t think about it, just call her up, apologize to her or something.”

“No, she’s probably forgotten about me by now.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t bet on that.  You’re not really the forgettable type.”

With that, Stone gets up, slapping her knee gently with his mail.  They exchange a smile as he leaves.

*

Alone in his bathroom, Stone rethinks the idea of contacting Roz.  He beats his head against the doorjamb, frustrated.  Looking into the mirror, he practices what he might say.  “Hi, Roz.  It’s Zeke.  I’m back.”  He sighs, torn and undecided.

*

The next day, he revisits the store where he saw Rosalyn the night before.  His gaze is drawn to a small snow globe, the one with the word ‘FOREVER’ on it.

*

In Rosalyn’s neighborhood, a gardener is hard at work trimming some hedges.  Stone strides down the sidewalk, his jaw set, his face determined. 

The gardener turns and calls to him.  “Well, good afternoon, Mr. Stone.”  It’s none other then the Devil, and he’s wearing plaid.  “You’re more stubborn than Job was, you know that, don’t you?  But, looking on the brighter side, not quite as… righteous.”

“I thought you had me confused with Eve in the Garden of Eden, after last night’s stunt.”

“What stunt would that be?” the Devil asks, the picture of innocence.

“The snake, with the sharp teeth.

“What snake, Detective?”

“All right, deny it all you want, but I’m still going to go see her.”

“And you’re going to… what?  See her?”

“Yeah,” Stone insists.  He’s made up his mind.

“This is sheer folly, you know?”

“People take insane chances all the time.  I can’t come this close to her and not do anything.”

“Aren’t you forgetting one minor detail?  You’re dead.”

“My feelings aren’t dead.  They’re alive.”

“You surprise me, Mr. Stone.  I always took you as a man of the hard and fast, with an unshakeable grounding in reality, but this flight of fancy you’re on is utterly ridiculous.”

“Maybe so.”  Stone walks away. 

The Devil calls after him, determined to get the last word.  “Fairy tales can be rather ‘Grimm’, sometimes, you know, Mr. Stone?”  He gets back to work with the hedge clippers.

*

That night, Stone waits outside Rosalyn’s house.  A car pulls into the driveway.  A man gets out and retrieves a bag of groceries from the back seat, then walks toward the front door.

Stone springs into action.  “Excuse me,” he says, walking across the lawn.”

“Yo.  What can I do for you?”

“I’m looking for Rosalyn. Rosalyn Stone?”

“You’ve got the right place.  She’s at work right now, but she’ll be back soon.  Can I help you?”

“Uh, yeah… yeah, if you don’t my asking… who are you?”

The man smiles and extends his hand.  “Barry – Barry Ceniza.  Rosalyn’s boyfriend.”  Stone is stunned, his face dead, trying to comprehend.  “And you would be…?”


ACT TWO

“So, you’re a detective?”  Barry Ceniza has invited Stone into the house, and he sets the groceries down in the kitchen.

“Ah, yeah.  Yeah.  What do you do?”

“Real estate.  Where did these reports of suspicious activity come from?  I’m sorry, what did you say your name was?”

“Uh… Gonner… Detective Gonner.  One of Mrs. Stone’s neighbors called it in.”

“We’ll have to keep a lookout then.  And that’s okay, because Rosalyn and I are both homebodies.  God, in my business, there are some people that are totally consumed with their work.  But not me.  You spend too much time running the race, you lose sight of the finish line.”  Stone spots some pictures of Rosalyn and Barry together; Barry sees him looking. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”

He hands a picture to Stone, showing them against a white SUV.  “Yeah… yeah, she’s beautiful,” Stone agrees.

“Here, look at this one.”  Roz and Barry are embracing on a gazebo.

“Looks like, uh, somebody I used to know.”

“Yeah?  Then we’re both lucky men.”  Barry pats him on the shoulder.

“So, uh…  How long have you two been going out?” Stone wonders.

“Not long, really.  I was just scouting for properties in the neighborhood, we met, we clicked… sometimes you just know.”

Stone has heard enough.  “Yeah.  Listen, I gotta get back…”

“If you want to wait for Rosalyn, she might be able to help you out.  She’s really active in the community watch program.  She was married to a cop.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, you guys probably speak the same lingo.”

“Yeah, probably.  No, you guys have a nice evening.  I’ll, uh… thank you very much.  Thanks for your help.”

“All right.  Nice to meet you, detective.”

“Yeah, you too.”  Stone closes the door behind him on his way out.  Barry watches after him for a moment, then turns to prepare dinner.

*

Read the Deleted Scene

*

Stone is in a bar with Maxine.  Music is playing in the background, and we can hear pool balls clacking together on a table.  They both slam down their shot glasses, adding to the two that are already there.

"Dos mas, por favor," Maxine says to the Bartender, who quickly fills her request.

"What did I think?" Stone wonders. "She'd run off to a convent?"

Maxine takes a swallow from her beer bottle. She leans over Stone's shoulder, gets next to his left ear. "It's not like you've been Mr. Faithful Guy for the last fifteen years."

She looks at Stone, who has a difficult time returning her stare. He finally looks into her eyes. His expression says it all: Yes, I have.

Maxine puts a hand to her head. "...Sheesh..." She laughs in disbelief.

Stone pleads his case. "Well, I mean...I mean, what -- the vows are until death do us part. After that, all bets are off."

"Stone, I don't want to shock you or anything..." She leans on his shoulder again, whispers into his ear. "You're not dead." She giggles, feeling the effects of the alcohol.

"Right. Whatever. So how’s Rod?”

“He’s angry.  Because I won’t open his stupid present.”  She slams the gift in question onto the bar, then admits, “We had a fight about it.”  They laugh.  Max puts her head on his shoulder, and tries to drunkenly articulate things.  “The problem is… Rod is a good guy… and it’s getting a little bit late in the day for me to be getting choosy, if you catch my drift.”

“You’re drifts are never very hard to catch.”

Max takes another drink.  “Damn.  I’m getting messed up.”

Stone raises a glass for a toast.  “To Valentine’s Day, Max.”

“To Valentine’s Day.”  They clink glasses twice.  “Okay, go.”  They both down the shots.  “Oh, do you know what?  I heard this story.  You know the women in Italy, on Valentine’s Day, they wake up before the sun rises… and they stand in the window and they look out, and they watch.  And they watch for a man to pass by ‘cause they believe the first man who passes by on Valentine’s Day will marry them within a year.”

“So who’s the first guy you saw pass by today?”

Max thinks it over, then looks at him seriously.  “You.”  The friends stare at each other for a long moment, their faces only a foot apart.  Finally, Max laughs, and says, “Good thing we’re not Italian!”  Stone laughs with her, two good friends enjoying each other’s company.

*

In an apartment building, the elevator door opens.  “Seventh floor,” Stone tells Max.  She’s trashed, and he’s helping her stand up.  He’s also carrying her present and purse.

“Seventh floor.  Everybody off!” she calls out, giggling. 

“What number are you?”

“Seven three zero and stop trying to change the subject, Stone.  Listen to me, we have things we have to work out.  I have to call Rod… first open the heart box, and call Rod and tell him that I’m sorry.  And then… then you have to march to the ex-wife’s house,  Stone, and tell her how much you lover her, Stone.”

“Nice thought, Max, it’s not that simple.”

“Are you sure about that?”  Maxine gets her door open.

Stone hands her the heart shaped box.  “Here you go.”

“These are mine… this is mine…”  Maxine sways drunkenly in the hall, clutching her present and her purse.

“The thing is,” Stone says, “I can’t just ask her to pretend the last fifteen years didn’t happen, you know?”

Max turns green.  Without another word, she rushes into her apartment, and we hear her retching. 

Stone walks off, his mind still thinking about Rosalyn.  “Can I?”  He gets into the elevator.

*

In the elevator, he hears a hissing sound.  Looking up, he sees snakes coming down through the ceiling.  Red ones, green ones, even white, they fall through into the compartment.  One lands on him and he brushes it off.  Some of the snakes on the floor are as big around as his arms. 

Two serpents begin to coil around his neck.  Staying calm, he continues to fight them off.  Another serpent lowers itself from the ceiling and darts towards his face… he grabs it and holds it back.

The elevator comes to a halt, and the doors open.  An old man with a white beard is there, watching, as Stone fights with an imaginary snake.  Then, it becomes apparent to Stone that it was all an illusion.  Even the floor is empty. 

The old man decides to wait for the next elevator.  He scratches his beard as the doors close again, and the elevator continues down.  Stone sighs.

*

“Listen, Roz, I’m sorry.  I know you don’t like it when we talk about him.”

In Rosalyn’s living room, she’s sitting on her couch, with Barry Ceniza in the chair next to it.  He’s talking to her, holding her hand in his, and she has a wine glass in the other.

“You know what?  No, no, no, it’s all right, just forget about it.”  Rosalyn doesn’t want to have this conversation.

Ceniza tries again.  “It’s just that I think that after all this time maybe we could…”

“Barry, please,” Rosalyn interrupts. 

Barry presses on.  “Rosalyn, I know you still love him, and it’s okay.”  He waits still holding her hand, giving her a chance to speak.

“He’s… he’s the kind of man you just… don’t forget.”  Rosalyn finally gets it out. 

“I know…  and I’m not asking you to forget anything.”  Rosalyn looks a little relieved; it’s exactly what she needed to hear.  Barry takes the wine glass from her, setting it on the table and moves next to her on the couch.  “I am just asking you… to remember where you are, and who you’re with… right now, and not fifteen years ago.”  He touches her hair gently.

“Maybe I…”

“No, maybe is not going to be enough for you, or for me.”

Searching his eyes, Roz comes to her decision, and leans in to kiss him.  He kisses her back firmly.

*

Outside, through the window, Stone is watching.  He sees Barry and Rosalyn kissing passionately.  His face is blank, trying to hide the pain.  Should he go and interrupt?  Is she really happy with Barry?  Watching the couple, he sees Rosalyn put her hand around Barry’s neck, drawing him closer to her.

Stone looks away… it’s too much.  He lets out a deep breath.  On the ground, however, is something interesting.  It’s a snake skin.  He picks it up, and glances around, wondering where it came from.


ACT THREE

It’s daylight out, and we’re looking at a picture in a frame.  It’s Roz and Zeke, with their arms around each other.  Roz rubs her thumb against Zeke’s image.

“Boy, you do still love him, don’t you?”  Barry, in a t-shirt and blue boxers, crawls onto the bed where Rosalyn sits. 

Roz puts the picture back in the drawer next to her bed.  “Look, I’m sorry,” she says.

“Sorry about what?” Barry says, gently rubbing her thigh with his knuckles.

“Just, just sorry,” Roz says.  She looks away from the drawer ant to him.  “Don’t make me get more specific, okay?”  Barry’s hand slows, and she grabs it, holds it.  “I don’t want to hurt you.”  She stands up.

Barry gets out of bed and stands before her.  He’s not willing to let this go, any more than she’s willing to let go of Zeke.  “But what?” he repeats.

Roz begins to make the bed, something to focus on.  “But… um… last night was a lot of fun.”  She offers him a smile as she walks around to the other side of the bed, careful not to brush against him.  “It.. it just… it was a mistake.”

Barry comes close to her, and reaches out to touch her, to comfort her.  But Roz shies away from his touch.  “Please don’t,” she says.

Barry sighs.  “It’s still him, isn’t it?” he asks.

Roz can’t even look at him.  “Yeah,” she admits, her voice heavy with frustration.  “Yeah, it’s still him.”  Barry stands there waiting, and she gives him a quick glance, but makes no move to patch things up. 

*

In the bar, Max finds Stone with a bottle in his hand.  Four empties are lined up in front of him.  “Hi, sailor.”

“Hey, Max.”

“Hey, you think you got enough there?”

“Trust me, it’s never enough.”

“Come on, I thought we had this licked.  Remember? I was going to call Rod.  You were going to call your ex.  You were going to go in there fighting.”

“You ever daydream?”

“Yeah, sure, all the time.”

“Did you ever have a daydream that was strong that it’s not a dream any more—it just, you know, turned real, kind of takes you over?”  Max makes a noncommittal noise.  “And, then, every moment, every waking moment, it’s what keeps you going.  And then suddenly, one day, something happens.  You realize it was never real.  It’s just, it’s just nothing.”

“Zeke,” she says softly, concerned, wanting him to talk to her.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Max.”  He holds his bottle out, proposing a toast.  She clinks the bottle with her knuckles.

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”  Stone finishes his beer and sets it down.  He stands up.  “Where are you going?” Max asks.

Stone peels off money for his tab and throws it on the bar.  “I got to get back to work.”

“You all right?”  Stone doesn’t answer, and she sighs.

*

At the County Department of Animal Control, Stone meets with a woman there.  “The venom samples from the bite victims led me to posit that there’s an Egyptian cobra on the loose in Highland Park.”

“So, what’s an Egyptian cobra doing in Highland Park?”

“Eh, has to be an exotic pet that got away from its owners.  Two years ago, tracked down a runaway badger.  Damn thing had been terrorizing the toddler playground over at Windsom Crescent.  Ooh, it was an crazy time for all of us, let me tell you.”

“Do you know where the other snakes attacks took place?”

“In Highland Park,” she says, stating the obvious.  Stone still looks lost, so she spells it out for him.  “It’s a snake, it can’t take a bus across town.  Besides, your naja naja’s a territorial little elapidae.”

“A what?”

“Snake… with an inflatable neck hood.”

“So, uh, it’s from Egypt, huh?”

“Natural habitat includes most of North Africa and the Mid East.  But, Southern California will do in a pinch.”

“Do you think you could get me the names and addresses of the other victims of these snake attacks?”

“Sure.”

*

Cutler Realty is an office on the first floor, with a nice view of the street outside, the floor to ceiling windows allowing plenty of the afternoon California sun inside. Stone steps inside, glancing around.  He starts to say something to the receptionist, who is on the phone, but someone else approaches first.  “Can I help you?” a woman asks.

“Oh, yeah.  Detective John Gonner.”  He holds out his badge, but snaps it shut before she can look closely.  “I’m looking for Barry Ceniza.”

“I’m Melinda Richmond.”  She holds out her hand.

He shakes it.  “Hi.”

“One of Barry’s associates.  I’m afraid he just left for lunch, is there something I can do for you?”

“Yeah… maybe, maybe.  I’m, uh, you know those houses… the recent problems with those houses in Highland Park… the snakes?”

“Oh, yeah, tell me about it.  What a nightmare, huh?” Melinda says.

“Well, I’m trying to contact the owners, but it’s strange, it seems like they’ve all changed hands since the attacks.”

“Hmm, It is too bad you missed Barry,” Melinda says cheerfully. “He’s handled every sale we’ve had in Highland Park in the last month, including all three of these houses.”

“He sold all three houses where the snake attacks happened?”

“Sure did.  You know, he just moved here from somewhere down south.  He’s doing so well, he’s just about to close a deal on one of those Highland Park properties for himself.”

“Which one?” Stone wants to know.

“Hang on.  452 Euclid.  In fact, it’s right across the street from his girlfriend.”

*

That night, Stone pays a visit to 452 Euclid.  The house is dark, and Stone makes his way inside.  Muddy footprints lead him to a door, and he carefully opens it, gun drawn.

It’s the stairs to the basement, and it’s clear where the mud is coming from.  Someone has knocked a hole in the wall and has dug a hole in the dirt.  Stone steps in… it’s full of snakes.  “From down south, huh?” he mutters.  Behind him, Barry peers into the opening as snakes wind their way around Stone’s feet.

“They kind of like it down here, Zeke,”  Barry says, his southern accent stronger than usual.  “Well, me, you know, I prefer the sunshine, but after all those years in Hell, I’m sure you can relate to that.”

Stone draws his gun and fires.  Barry kicks in a support, just inside the opening, and the ceiling collapses.  Dirt rains down on Stone, and Barry, laughing gleefully, runs up the stairs.  Stone is trapped in the bowels of the earth again.

*

In her bed, Rosalyn tosses and turns, troubled by something we can’t see or hear.  She can’t seem to wake up.  But a single word escapes her lips, a name from what she thinks is her past. “Zeke…”

*

Barry exits his house, and crosses the street.

*

Underground, Stone has retrieved his flashlight.

*

In her bed, Rosalyn can’t find peace, still moving restlessly.

*

Barry enters Rosalyn’s house.  He makes his way up into her bedroom, where she is still sleeping.  Cracking his neck, he walks into the bathroom, and closes the door behind him.

*

Stone is digging at the loose dirt that holds him down.

*

In the bathroom, Barry has taken off his shirt.  He stares at himself for a moment in the mirror.  The camera pans down to a small mirror, showing his smiling face… but as we watch, the face changes, morphing into that of Ashur Badaktu, still smiling, looking just like the blond haired Detective Ash that Stone knew so well.


ACT FOUR

Stone is moving now, inching his way toward the surface.

*

Rosalyn stirs at the sound of a faucet turning in her bathroom.  She turns on the lamp and sits up.  Making her way to the bathroom door, she tries the knob, but it’s locked.  “Barry?” she asks, “Is that you?”

There is no answer from inside, but the door opens.  It’s Barry Ceniza standing there, dressed again.  “Gee…” Rosalyn says.  She seems dazed, as if drugged, and stumbles her way back to the bed, sitting on the edge.  “What are you doing here?”

“Look, I’m sorry, Roz.”  He sits next to her on the bed.  “It’s just that, after last night…”

“Okay, wait a minute,” she interrupts.  “We’ve already had this discussion, remember?”

“I know we have.”

“How did you get in here?” Roz asks.

“The front door—you left it unlocked,” Barry lies.  “You’re lucky it’s me.”

“You know what?  I really think you better go.  Okay?”

“Roz, please. There’s something I really want to talk about.”  Roz waits patiently.  “I was really hoping that we had a future together.”  Slowly, he leans in to kiss her.  His lips move toward her ear, where he continues in a whisper, “After last night… I was hoping that I could take you away from him.”  He moves to kiss her again; Roz does not protest.  “I wanted to break his heart, like he broke mine.  But I can see now that’s just not going to happen.”

Rosalyn’s confused.  “What are you talking about?”

Barry moves in to kiss her again, but when he pulls away, his masculine features have softened into the familiar feminine form of Detective Ash.  “Zeke, baby.  I’m talking about Zeke.”

Rosalyn is stunned!  Where did this woman come from?  Ash gives her little chance to react, just hauls back and slaps her.  Roz falls off the bed, tumbles to the ground and lands at the base of the wall.

*

In the lawn of 432, Zeke’s hand tears upward through the green grass.  Then his other hand, carrying his gun.  Finally, his head emerges, and he sucks in fresh air.

*

A knife, an ornate blade like the ones we saw in ASHES, slices through a palm.  Blood drips down, collected in a cup held there beneath the hand. 

*

Stone has finally freed himself from the earth.

*

Two fingers, dipped in blood.  Rosalyn closes her eyes as a single stripe is painted over her left eye.  When she reopens them, they stare sightlessly straight ahead.

*

Stone climbs the stairs of 432 Euclid, approaching the front door.

*

Using a mirror, Ash makes a vertical line of blood over her right eye.

*

Stone reenters the house.  A faint light can be seen coming from the back bedroom.  Gun drawn, Stone pushes the door open. 

Rosalyn stands there, ramrod straight, arms at her side.  Dressed in her white gown and candles flickering in all the corners, Stone knows something is wrong.  But he still tries to wake her, calling her name as she did his not long ago, “Roz?”

Slithering around her bare feet is a snake, an Egyptian cobra.  It hisses at Stone’s intrusion.  Stone points his gun, ready to kill it, but it’s suddenly gone.

“Oh, be careful, Zeke.  No, you don’t want to hurt Rosalyn.”  Barry Ceniza steps up behind Rosalyn, carrying the cobra in his hand. 

Stone has figured out the illusion.  “Hey, Ash,” he says dryly, still pointing his gun in his direction.

“Sexy and smart,” Ceniza replies.

“Yeah, there are too many snakes.”

“You know, Zeke, I finally understand something that I never understood until now,” Barry says.

“And what’s that?”  Stone shifts, not sure what is coming next, but trying to be ready for anything.

Barry kisses Rosalyn gently at the base of her neck, the cobra watching the whole thing.  “This is why you’re so…” Ash’s real voice rises, “obsessed with this woman.”  Now the rest of her changes too, and she stands behind Roz, each woman with a stripe of blood on their face.  “I understand intimately,” Ash continues.  “We both heard that little moan she makes, just before sh…”  Ash stops, smiling impishly.  “You know what I’m talking about.”

“Let her go,” Stone demands, “Now.”

Ash wraps her arm around Rosalyn, the one not holding the snake.  At her command, the snake lunges and bites into her wrist.  She moans with pleasure at the attack.  “I don’t think so,” she replies, nuzzling against Roz’s cheek.

Stone fires once, striking the snake in the head and killing it.  As it falls, Rosalyn goes limp, and Ash catches her.  She holds her knife to Roz’s throat.  “Damn it, Zeke, you’re ruining it.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“For us.”

“Us?  There is no us, Ash, there never was.”

“But there could be,” she says craftily.

“What do you mean?  You just tried to bury me alive.”

“No, Zeke, that’s the point.”  Ash is a little ticked by noncomprehension.  “You’re dead, like me.  She’s alive and you can never have her again.  I know you love Rosalyn…” she brushes her face to Roz’s, inhaling her scent, “mmm… and so I’m going to become her.  And the two of us can finally have what we both want.”

“No!”  Stone points his gun at her eyes.  Ash jerks her head back at this reaction she’s never imagined in her fantasy.  “You just don’t get it.”

Ash stares at him, trying to gauge if he’s serious.  The unwavering gun finally convinces her.  “I could be her, Zeke,” Ash pleads, “I could.”

“Never.”  Stone lowers his weapon, tired of the game.

With a grunt, Ash shoves Rosalyn’s limp body forward and turns away.  Stone catches her as Ash jumps through the window, shattering the glass.  She lands in a crouch on the lawn below.

Stone comes to the window, still clutching Rosalyn.  He aims at her, but doesn’t fire.

Ash’s eyes glow green, and her form collapses.  Her naked soul, a sparkle of blue light, moves off the lawn and away from here.  Stone watches her go.

Rosalyn is nestled against him.  He pockets his gun, leaving his hand empty.  He reaches for her, about to touch her shoulder, but stops.  He hesitates, have dreamt of this moment for so long.  Finally he caresses her hair, and pulls her head into his chest.


*

Outside, he carries Rosalyn in his arms back to her house.  He kicks her door open and brings her inside.  On the red couch, he lays her down and gently covers her with a blanket.  He brushes the hair out of her eyes, tucking it behind an ear. 

“You almost died, because of me, Roz,” he says slowly.  He bends and kisses the corner of her mouth

“I can’t risk that again.”  He struggles with his next words, but knows they must be said.  “Good-bye, Roz.”  He places a small box into her hands, a present wrapped with a bow.  Then he stands and exits the house, closing the door behind him and walking away.

‘Walking Away’ by the Ben Swift Band begins again as Rosalyn stirs, perhaps awaking from the kiss delivered by her true love.  She touches her face, feeling the blood there, already tacky.  And she lifts the box.

*

On the street, Stone is greeted by his employer.  “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  The Devil bears an oversized heart shaped box.  “Well, I called it, didn’t I?”

“So you were right.”

“As usual.  And you’re still wearing Ash’s name, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“Third time’s the charm?”

“It will be.”

“If it means anything, I’m sorry,” the Devil says.  “Sort of.”  His face wrinkles in disgust.  “Well, no, I’m not.”  Stone says nothing.  Behind them, Rosalyn steps out onto her porch, looking to see who is there.  “Look, there she is.”

Stone takes a long look at his wife, not knowing if he’ll ever see her again.  A garbage truck rolls by, and as it passes in between them, Stone grabs the handle on the back, hitching a ride.  He turns, trying to keep her in sight for as long as he can.

Rosalyn removes the bow from the box, then opens the lid.  She gasps when she sees what is inside, and the tears begin to flow.  The box falls to the ground and she clasps the snow globe with both hands.  It’s the one from the store with ‘FOREVER’ printed on it, a bride and groom cutting their wedding cake.  She sobs now, feeling the smooth curves of the plastic.

Stone’s face is hard as he leaves her behind.

Rosalyn clutches the globe to her, and looks into the night, wondering, wishing, and hoping against all odds.  Could it be him?

Stone stares at the stars in the night skies, hoping they can provide an answer for him.  Is there anyway that he can reunite with his love now?  The infinite number of lights give no response, but their existence is a monument to possibilities.  The time and space he’s crossed to reunite with his Rosalyn is nothing compared to the journey undertaken by the starlight; yet after traveling years, the light reaches them both him and Rosalyn at the same time.  Surely, the odds of that must be less then the chances of rejoining his wife.

Anything’s possible, he thinks, and we fade to black.
Continue to Season Two