Andie Mock

Writer, choreographer

15

14

No Good Deed

TEXT CHOICE - I chose a contemporary setting for story number 7 in Pastures of Heaven. It's a (mostly) female cast. I lived in a converted chicken coop on foodstamps in my late teens and jump at this chance to give a voice to the unseen rural poverty as Steinbeck did so excellently.

The story is about the "respectable" women's jealousy over two sisters, Rosa and Maria Lopez--plump, poor and mildly pretty. The sisters love and care for each other, and in doing so, snatch happiness from the jaws of abject poverty while living in their small Monterey County town.

After their dad dies the sisters open "Spanish Cookings" in their converted chicken coop home making dishes like Mamacita used to make. The business fails until they "encourage" customers who order at least three of their dishes. Afterwards, they beg forgiveness from Our Lady of Guadalupe and never, ever exchange sex purely for monetary gain. 

In town, the respectable women speak coldly to the sisters and send the sheriff to close their business when Maria offers a ride to a bus stop (the "good deed" of the title) to an ape-like man whose wife is "a woman whose system required jealousy properly to function."

The sherrif says he must close down "Spanish Cookings" because a complaint as been registered that they are running a "bad house"  and he "is the servant of the people who make complaints".

To survive, the sisters have no choice but to leave the small town to become genuinely "bad women" who give themselves to men in San Francisco.

In the final scene, Rosa, the stronger of the two sisters, sees this look of determination depicted in a mural in SF's Mission District. Maria follows her sister's lead.

ACTION SCENE LIST

1. Rosa and Maria pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe on the dashboard of their old car. 

2. Rosa explains to a foodstamp intake person why since their padre died the bills can't be paid. The intake person reduces their household food stamps when she learns the padre dies.

3. In front of their converted chicken coop R & M place a pine board sign "Tortillas, Enchiladas, Tamales and some other Spanish Cookings, R & M Lopez."

4. The sisters thrill when a customer orders a dish. They don't see that he leaves with a belly ache, shaking his head. We see the chicken coop in middle of nowhere as in the distance, Maria sets jackrabbit traps to catch meat for their tamales.

5. When the foodstamps arrive in the mail, Maria leaves for Salinas to buy cheaper corn husks. While she is gone a customer comes in and orders three enchiladas. Rosa's heart breaks open when he pays. Their eyes meet. She is so grateful she takes the customer into her bedroom and gives herself to him.

7. Maria returns. Rosa says to survive, she will now "encourage the customers." Maria weeps and says it is a good thing what Rosa did. She will "encourage the customers" too, but they must beg forgiveness from Our Lady of Guadalupe each time.

8. The satisfied customer returns bringing a friend who at first orders two enchiladas but his friend urges him to order the magic number of three dishes. 

9. The floor shows signs of wear from all the kneeling in front of the little shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the hallway.

10. In the moonlight musicians play traditional music and the sisters dance the Mexican hat dance. All is gay until one customer says he can't eat three and would gladly just pay the money. Rosa rips him a new one for offering "the money of shame". He leaves with his tail between his legs.

11. During a shopping trip to Salinas, the sisters purchase new clothes but are treated rudely by the respectable women.

12. Maria takes the old jalopy again to Salinas. She offers a ride to bus stop the ugliest man in the valley with a wife who everyone knows is extremely jealous. A neighbor sees them and jokes that he'll spread the word that Maria is running off with the ugly fellow.

12. Maria returns to find the Sheriff has a complaint they are running a "bad house". The respectable women of the valley surround the house forcing the sheriff's hand. Rosa says it's a lie they never take money for sex, only to encourage the customers, but the sherrif has no choice.

13. When everyone leaves, Rosa declares she'll go to San Francisco to be a real bad woman and make a lot of money. 

14. Maria cries and can't belive Our Lady would allow these bad things to happen . She smashes the statue and declares she will be what Rosa is. She will be a bad woman too.

15. Last scene in the Mission District in San Francisco looking at woman in a mural that has a hardened look of determination to survive.

NEXT STEPS

Wow. Fifteen scenes. Next I will use my trusty Scene/Sequel method to analyze each scene then (hopefully) compress the action and emotional story lines.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Rosa is the older sister, a little taller. She initiates the changes. Maria is the more feeling sister and little plumper. Maria changes the most. She's the protagonist. The sisters love each other so much they can stand against the external world, even against the Virgin Mary. Together they cross the threshold of respectability in order to survive.

The sheriff is sympathetic to the sisters plight being seen as having partaken of the hospitality of Spanish Cookings but he's the "banality of evil" bureaucrat doing his job.

The poor area's towns people are characters, antagonists that force the sisters to change. The jealous wife is psycho.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is depicted as Anglo in contrast to the sisters' dark-skinned, Indian features.

SCENE/SEQUEL ANALYSIS

SCENE 1. 

Goal: Get an increase in foodstamp allotment.

Conflict: Father died. The foodstamp regulations call for a decrease.

Disaster: The sisters are surviving hand to mouth as it is. They will be unable to keep their property, a converted chicken coop.

SEQUEL 1.

Reaction: Maria prays to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Rosa runs through their burgeoning plastic bag of unpayable bills.

Dilemma: If they take a low-paying wage job they will be cut off foodstamps and can't pay their bills.

Clever Decision: They will open Spanish Cookings - tortillas, tamales, enchiladas.

SCENE 2. 

Goal: Attract customers by cleaning and painting yard and chicken coop.

Conflict: They are so far out of town no one comes.

Disaster: A customer finally comes and orders one tamale. No nearly enough to keep going and the food they've bought and prepared spoils.

SEQUEL 2.

Reaction: Rosa catches small animals and keeps them in cages for tamale meat. Maria says they can buy tamale husks in Salinas for cheaper.

Dilemma: Do they keep trying to make tortillas and hope their Spanish Cookings catches on or let the county foreclose.

Clever Decision: When Maria is gone and a customer comes and orders three dishes and pays and tips, Rosa is so overcome with gratitude she takes the customer into her bedroom to encourage his return. 

SCENE N. 

Goal: Maria needs gas to get home from Salinas.

Conflict: She's run out of foodstamps but still needs to buy cornhusks. Should she buy corn husks or gas? She splits the difference. 

Disaster: She knows she's running out of gas and how if she does get home will she ever buy gas to go buy food again. She coasts down the hills to save gas but runs out and ends up pushing the car down the hill to chicken coop home. 

SEQUEL N.

Reaction: Maria usually will spin each disaster into a funny story but instead finds Rosa very quiet. Maria sits by sister.

Dilemma: Rosa debates in her mind whether to tell Maria or keep it a secret. She shows Maria the money. Maria cries. Insists that Rosa did the right thing.

Clever Decision: Maria says Rosa will feel better if she begs Our Lady's forgiveness. Rosa says she already has. She did it immediately. Maria says in that case, if they immediately ask forgiveness, she will also "encourage the customers."

SCENE N. 

Goal: To enjoy life the sisters dance the traditional Mexican dances with their customers and local musicians as a giant moon comes over the hill. 

Conflict: Business is now going well but know it's only a short time before 

Disaster:

SEQUEL N.

Reaction:

Dilemma:

Clever Decision: 

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