INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
About thirty PEOPLE mingle in small groups or sit at the rows of tables. They are all wearing uniforms: If not the CONsent uniform, police, firefighter, or EMT uniforms. Michelle, Beks, Rider, and GABE, a bearded teddy-bear of a man, stand at the front of the room. Rider is setting up the conference station.
Can you hear me now?
We’re all set up here.
(to the room)
Ladies and gentlefolk, please take your seats.
Three or so JOKERS pick up their chairs and make as if they’re going to leave with them. Michelle snickers.
OK, guys. Welcome and thank you for attending this emergency counsel of the elder gods – I mean, emergency meeting of CONsent’ing adults. I’m sorry I was vague in my emails, but I couldn’t give much more information without all y’all signing NDA’s.
She looks around at the curious faces.
As I covered in the email, this new gig would require the agents relocating about six hundred miles away for at least a year. The move, room, and board are all covered, the pay is… wow, the insurance is grade-A, along with other benefits. Here’s the catch: It’s a classified location, car-free – it’s the size of a postage stamp, I think, maybe a matchbook – and moderate-to-high risk.
The faces in the audience range from very interested, to curious, to confused, and some look downright displeased. Michelle takes a deep breath.
I will be going, as will Beks and Rider. For those who are not interested, Gabe will be staying behind to oversee operations on the home front. For those who are interested, but have families, there is a family stipend, but given the nature of the community, I do not recommend bringing any children, small or otherwise…
EXT. RIDER’S DRIVEWAY – DAY
A private, unmarked bus is parked on the curb. Rider carries two large duffle bags and a back pack. He tosses the duffle bags in the luggage compartment. He places the back pack on the ground next to the bus door and turns toward his house, small, nice, with a well-kept yard.
MIKKI, a curvy and tough-as-nails Black woman, pushes TIMON, their preteen son, across the yard. Timon looks like he wants to be anywhere but here.
I’ll come back to visit as soon as I can. Y’all can even come down; There’s a lot of beaches within driving distance of us.
Please don’t be like that, Mik…
Like what, Ri? You dropped a bombshell on us, and now you’re just runnin’ away!
I am not running away! We need the money, and if anything, this will give y’all time to process. I am still the same man I’ve always been.
Timon scoffs and rolls his eyes.
Don’t you start, young man.
Nothing has changed just because I came out. My feelings for you haven’t changed. I never asked for a divorce – I don’t want one, or a… a hall pass, or anything like that. I just needed y’all to know.
Mikki looks away and wraps her arms around herself. Rider steps closer. Timon hedges away.
Now, I love you. I’ll call every day, and I’ll visit as soon as I can.
Rider leans forward to kiss her, but she turns her face away. Her lips tremble. He sighs and kisses her cheek as lovingly as one can kiss a cheek. He ruffles Timon’s hair and leans down to kiss his head. Timon jumps away and slaps his hand.
Don’t kiss me! I ain’t no queer!
Rider gawks at him, shocked.
Timon turns and runs. Rider stares after him, speechless. Mikki huffs and runs her hands over her face.
I’ll work on him.
Rider nods numbly. Taking a deep breath, Mikki steps forward and kisses the corner of his mouth. He turns and kisses her. She melts, closing her eyes tightly. Rider puts an arm around her, but she pats his chest and pushes him away.
Rider boards the bus. The DRIVER’S eyes follow him closely. Rider sits down next to Michelle with the cat crate between them. Michelle gives Mikki a wave. Mikki gives a sad smile and waves back.
INT. MICHELLE’S APARTMENT – DAY
The apartment is bare of furniture. Several boxes with STORAGE across the top sit in the middle of the living room. The cat sits in its open crate by the door. A rolling suitcase stands next to it.
Michelle stands before her bed. A large box sits on the floor at her feet. A smaller box sits on the bed in front of her, along with an open duffle and an industrial-strength trash bag.
Michelle pulls a t-shirt out of the box, spreads it, folds it back, and shoves it into the trash bag. She pulls out another t-shirt, spreads it out, folds it, and puts it in the bag. She grabs another t-shirt. A small silver frame falls from it.
Michelle’s mouth twitches between a smile and a frown. She picks up the frame. She, Rider, and Gabe are all hanging off a bearded, dark-haired man, RAFE VESPIRA. They are all wearing CONsent t-shirts and look like they are having the time of their life.
Michelle presses her face into the t-shirt and takes a deep breath. She sniffs it a few times, rubbing her face against it. Sniffling, she folds the t-shirt, slips the frame into it, and places them in the duffle.
Wiping her face, Michelle looks down at the box. Sighing, she grabs a large bundle of clothes and shoves it into the trash back. She does that with the remaining items in the box.
Michelle carries the smaller box and places it next to the other boxes going to storage. She returns to the bedroom and comes out with the duffle over one shoulder and dragging the trash bag behind her. She places it next to the boxes and tapes a note on it:
Closing the cat crate, Michelle takes one final look around her apartment. She takes the crate in one hand and the rolling suitcase in the other, and leaves.
EXT. SIDEWALK – DAY
Beks is waiting on the sidewalk outside the entrance, smoking a cigarette. She has several large pieces of luggage scattered around her.
Were you able to get all the equipment on last night?
Michelle nods. The bus pulls up.
EXT. STORAGE UNIT – NIGHT
The bus is parked in front of an open storage unit, containing several crates. The driver leans against the bus with Beks next to the door, savoring a cigarette. A small army of devastatingly-handsome MEN are moving the crates from the unit into the luggage department of the bus. CRAIG puts a crate down a little too heavily.
No! Oh! You guys be careful! That’s our radio equipment!
The men all cringe bashfully and begin to move slower, more carefully, as if they could hurt the crates. They load the last of the crates. WAYNE wipes his hands and high-fives JAY and VINCE.
This unit is empty!
Thank you so much!
She tosses her cigarette down and crushes it with her toe. The driver takes one last, long drag, tosses his cigarette, and climbs inside.
Look, guys, it’s been great, but…
I’m moving. I have to break up with you.
The men look dumb-founded, blinking with confusion.
You’re breaking up with us?
It’s been fun!
She waves at them and hops onto the bus. She continues to wave as it drives away.
Did she really just break up with us?
Didn’t she have the car keys?
They gape after the bus.
EXT. SIDEWALK – DAY
Beks nods, smiling at the memory.
Our driver is really nice.
Michelle bursts out laughing. They throw their bags into the luggage compartment and climb onto the bed. Beks makes eyes at the driver. He smiles smugly and pulls the door closed.