Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Flake" synopsis

Cole Porter Woodall, 54, hasn't pitched competitively since he was 25, but lately he has been waking up in his Tarrytown, New York apartment with his right arm feeling like he has just pitched nine innings of baseball. This confusing development adds yet another wrinkle to an already troubled marriage ravaged by Cole's drastic mood swings. A man who has been in a coma twice in his life, Cole was at one time a blue-chip baseball prospect until a beaning in a college game shattered his skull and his promising future. Formerly an amnesiac, now Cole is a narcoleptic, which his soon-to-be ex-wife, the former soon to be once again Claire Morganstern, believes is related to his sore arm in the morning. When unusual inquiries for Cole begin arriving by mail, phone and email, Claire believes Cole is leading some kind of double life involving paranormal phenomena. But pitching?

Because the couple's marriage is on the skids, Claire doesn't hang around Cole's new apartment, nor does she sleep with him anymore, which she is considering doing only to observe her soon to be ex-husband so that he doesn't hurt himself. What she discovers about his past, Cole's mother's past, and Cole's mysterious biological father, whom Cole never knew, stuns Claire so badly she hires a second therapist. Then Claire finds steel balls, large ball bearings, the size of a small tennis ball in a satchel in the old barn of their former home. The satchel bears the logo of the New York Yankees, the team for which the former Jesuit ministerial student at Fordham would have pitched had he not been injured.

Cole's failed attempts to become a priest have finally sent him into early retirement. Cole's hobbies vary, because of his keen intelligence, but he most enjoys playing the banjo, driving his model trains and lately planning trips South to research his distant Native American roots and visit Virginia and Tennessee where he lived for brief periods with his mother as a youth. Claire decides to put off the divorce, take two weeks vacation from her job in New York City ... and accompany her husband south to find out what the fuck is going on. When Claire meets an unusual young man who is an assistant to her husband, whom Cole swears he does not know, Claire isn't sure she wants to know what the fuck is going on. As it turns out, Claire discovers that Cole and his young assistant are on their way to becoming heroes, but not before she experiences the supernatural, otherworldly scare of her life, involving, of all things, the things she hates most in the whole world ... puppets!

"Aa, they're a distraction don't pay any attention to them," says Cole of the puppets given to him which appear to have come alive.

"Well, fuck yeah they're a distraction," Claire responds, her hands shaking. "Did you marry me to satisfy some weird urge to make people become like you?"

"No, but some pet owners end up looking like their pets."

"We're not talking about happy, playful little frisky puppies, Cole," Claire says on the verge of screaming. "We're talking about pieces of freaking wood and string coming alive! I wouldn't call that a distraction, Cole. That sounds like to me two people sharing a fucking nervous breakdown."

Cole shook his head, holding up his banjo next to his ear and plucking a string. "That's just it, puddin'. They puppets aren't alive."

"I saw one on the toilet this morning," Claire said. "And ... the little freaky bastard waved at me."

"How did he wave without falling in?"

Claire was searching her pocketbook, looking for her pills. "Dr. Matthews told me that I don't have to even help you, though you need it ... if you are freaking me the fuck out. And you know what, bupkiss? I'm hurtling out of control straight for the little window on the Twilight Zone."

"Is bupkiss a Jewish word?" Cole asked, beginning to play.

"It means nothing," Claire said. "And it's Yiddish, you putz. I think."

"If it means nothing, Claire, why are you using the word?" Cole was making a fair stab at "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."

"I going to go be sick, if you don't mind, in your bathroom, maybe all over your bed in the more haunted portion of this charming abode de la hell. But before I do ... tell me why these puppets, which are standing, not sitting, on the toilet and waving are not alive."

"The spirits in Purgatory have them."

"So, we're in Purgatory, here, in this apartment, are we, Cole? Huh, Purgatory? You don't have a number for Ghostbusters or Exorcists R Us or anything like that? Why are you not freaking out, Cole? What do you know that I don't know?"

"Shit, Claire," Cole said blowing his nose on a shirt tail. "I've been seeing this kind of thing all my life."

"You're not only a flake," said Claire, heading out the door, "You're a gold-plated one, with Flake engraved on it, with diamond studs."

"You see, you're getting paid back, sweetie ... for all the times you've tortured me. If you'll play ball with me, I'll explain everything."

"And of course playing ball with you, means ... playing with your fucking balls, right?"

"You don't have to play with them, not if you don't want to ... just love me."


"Isn't that the only kind of love?"

"If you're ... twenty-five years old."

To which Cole replied, "Well ..."