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Steve
07-26-03, 06:41 PM
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jul-27-03 AT 06:55 PM (EST)]FADE-IN: Hewson Elementary School in Tampa, Florida.

CLOSE-UP ON - Calvin Carlton being tossed across the screen. His body hits the ground with a hollow thud.

PULLBACK TO REVEAL: Joey Melton and Calvin Carlton in a makeshift wrestling ring. Melton in classic attire, Carlton dressed in tight black tights and a black tank top. For emotional support Carlton sports knee and elbow pads, and pair of old Air Jordans (an EBAY purchase three months ago.)

To the left of the ring a large group of First and Second Graders kneel five feet from the ring, uninterested. They’re out of class, but last Friday a mobile petting zoo parked on the soccer field. Six hours grazing over the field suspiciously examining a donkey, llamas, Shetland sheep, piglets, bunnies, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, and pygmy goats. After lunch the real treat of the afternoon, the children raced cows. No bulls, female cows only. In groups of four, willing kids saddled on top of their gamer and contested the quickest mile. Marshall Williams rode “Don’t Look Ethel” to the line first in exactly 11:45.

So a handful of kids were sick after the petting. Outside entertainment is rarely hygienetic. Unless Melton was about to pull a pygmy goat out of a hat and walk it around the gym, these kids were nearing a revolt.

Back in the ring, Carlton gamely tries to get to his feet, he reaches weakly out to Joey to stall for time, but Melton whips him back-first into the nearest turnbuckle. As Carlton hits, and the air fires out of his lungs not wasting a second thought, Melton gives a fist pump to the kids, screams excitedly and hops in place in rapid-fire succession.

Joey: YEAH! COME ON!

(Small reaction from kids. Last year’s Career Day guest was much cooler.)

Melton grabs Carlton by the throat, leans in and whispers into Calvin’s ear.

JOEY: I’ve always wanted to be a face. Tell me afterwards if this is too much.

(Melton cocks his right hand back)

JOEY: YOU MURDERED MY PARENTS, RAPED MY SISTER, SET FIRE TO FLUFFY, AND SHAMED MY FAMILY NAME FOR GENERATIONS TO COME. YOU PAY FOR YOUR SINS TODAY!

(Joey nails Carlton with a right hand, then gets Calvin in a headlock and fires a series of short right hands)

Calvin stumbles out of the corner...before he can fall, Melton delivers a right hook.

Carlton goes down in a heap. Momma said there’d be days like this.

The kids stand and ROAR with approval.

Only in America can civilized children be won over by a violent act. Perhaps Tipper Gore was right.

Ah.

We’ll let another generation waste before addressing the issue with some moderate sincerity.

JOEY: (to Kids) LET’S GO! IS IT TIME?

KIDS: YEAH!

JOEY: I said....IS IT TIMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?

KIDS: YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

(A minute ago these students were bored beyond belief, eyeing one another, short looks questioning Melton’s hire as career day speaker. He had to have something on somebody. Who among the faculty has committed the sin of adultery? Which one secretly works for a reality-TV show? But as Carlton’s eyes start to swell, the insanity becomes justified.)

JOEY: HAMMER TO FALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

(Melton bounces off the ropes, leaps in the air, and crushes Calvin’s chest with a nasty elbow drop)

The students high-five each other in amazement, one day they’ll look back and hate themselves for doubting.

Joey again leads Carlton into a corner.

(Knife-edge chops)

KIDS: WHOOOOOOOOO!

(More chops. Carlton’s eyes roll back into his head.)

KIDS: WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!

(Headlock. Melton signals a thumbs up to his adoring crowd, then executes a picture perfect bulldog.)

KIDS: FOUR! FOUR! FOUR! FOUR! FOUR!

(Chanting like a cult now are we? These children’s parents better hope converting to Satanism isn’t this easy.)

(Melton holds up four fingers.)

JOEY: Four? YOU WANT IT? HUH?!!

KIDS: YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

(Why are they finger-painting when physically breaking a man is presented as so much more fun? Not all of them are artistic. Melton seems to understand that.)

JOEY: Hewson Elementary...LET ME HEAR IT!

KIDS: FOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUR!

(Joey beats his chest then slaps on the Figure Four. Carlton cries out in pain. This is all too real. Working up close and personal with MISTER MELTON sounded harmless when the trade was put through.)

(A few kids run over to Carlton’s side of the mat, just tall enough to look him in the eye, and begin to taunt him. Joey leans back for leverage, head shaking violently to sell the move. Theatrics; a sense of the moment, a trait that can be learned but the great ones insist it’s born.)

(Finally, Carlton taps out.)

(Hewson Elementary ERUPTS.)

(Joey poses for the kids, gives a ‘Jimmy Connors’ like fist pump and salutes the audience.)

(Lined against the wall Hewson Elementary faculty stands in disbelief. The program discussed had Joey giving a thirty-minute speech with the option to field a few questions afterwards. The last speaker to adlib woke the next morning with a Horse’s Head next to his wife’s pillow.)

JOEY: (elbows on the top rope facing the kids, who sit attentively. BEST GUEST EVER.) Please. Settle down. That’s too much. First let me thank Mr. Cohen for inviting me here today to speak. I know I’ve strayed from the outline I faxed in, but this is P.R. work. Joey Melton’s not getting paid for this. So, we kill two birds with one stone. Get my morning workout in and show you wee ones a career man in action.

(Silence.)

(Joey looks back at Carlton who’s convulsing in the ring.)

I told you in the car that wasn’t funny...

(Attention back to the wee ones.) The reality is I’m only going to reach some of you. One of ten in this room will take something from today and use it to better themselves. The rest of you will know the hells of a credit limit. I’d like to inspire. Who wouldn’t? But securing your futures can’t be done in an hour. Most of you here are going to need your hand held for the next ten years of schooling. Great as I am, my range isn’t that deep.

Some of you won’t even finish. One or two (Joey eyes a raven-haired girl seated as far from the group as teachers will allow), may take your child to the senior prom, and others...have already hit your sexual peak.

(Points to a kid) You may be the one currently renting out your dad’s porn to turn a buck. (Motions to all of class) Eight years from now he’ll be the capitalist you turn to, to buy illegal drugs.

Your roles have already been defined. My presence is too late. There’s not much I can do but be brutally honest as my mentors were to me. I once was in your shoes being warned about high interest rates and minorities. My goal today is to open a few eyes and lower unrealistic expectations.

(A pin drops. Joey climbs through the ropes and sits on the outside edge of the apron to nurse the cut. He’s lost momentum and knows it.)

Every last one of you is sure you’re the one out of ten. That’s why dreamers are great. Your futures will sort out the losers caught in denial.

For now, in theory, you all have a chance. And nothing could be better for you than to get an inside look at a man working in a multi-million-dollar professional. A man born one of the ten.

I leave the floor open for questions.

(Carlton clutching his knee, and lying flat on his back makes a great effort to clap his hands. A select few brave souls join in.)

(Silently the kids pray they’ll never have an odder moment than this one. Why not a fire-fighter or a DEA Agent like Jerry’s dad? After career day, only homecoming stands to look forward to. Joey’s almost ruined this one. If he’s the DJ at the homecoming dance half of them will transfer.)

(A blonde haired girl in pigtails raises her hand.)

JOEY: (Wiping sweat from his forehead. More out of tradition than anything.) You there.

PIGTAILS: Mister Melton you’re a seven-time CSWA Intracontinental Champion, does it bother you the belt was never retired in your honor?

JOEY: Awww. You’re a sweetie. (coughs) Yes it does. (The tone of the program now takes on an Inside The Actor’s Studio vibe) In many ways I’m not surprised Merritt has never moved to truly acknowledge the contributions I made to the CSWA. You see, I was the one he didn’t handpick in 1988. It was an accident I showed. Chad, in my opinion, to this day regrets that. I was worked harder than any other Heavyweight champion, and when I lost the World Title to Degadeth in Greensboro I was never allowed a rematch. To give a company credibility and then have my own undercut was a severe slap across the face. I complained very little though. I was the one who took any match any time. I was the one who agreed to any stipulation given in the name of selling seats. They call Hornet the franchise, but Joey Melton was the Team Player. So yes...to answer your question I do feel I’m owed thanks for constantly working at a high level. When you’re existing with two strikes against you, becoming a 7-time IC champion warrants at the least a ticker-tape parade.

(A cute black girl raises her hand and calls on herself)

BLACK GIRL: Mister Melton...what size shirt does Hornet wear?

JOEY: I know the answer to that, but out of principle I refuse to say. Thank you.

(An overweight red-haired boy in jeans and a Devil Rays #00 jersey throws his meaty hand up, Melton looks around for other hands, then reluctantly points to chubs.)

FAT KID: Mister Melton you’re known as having immaculate skin. Which do you take more pride in, skin care or the titles to your name over the years? And a second part to that, what’s your secret for chasing off blackheads?

JOEY: Great question. (Surprised that extra layers of fat apparently multiply brain cells. Joey of course reserves the notion that this is a rare case.) The first part of that, it depends on the day honestly. Both are the fruits of hard work. The last bit...I wash my face three times a day with filtered mountain water. Not that bottled crap...but good, filtered water. Recognizing what you’re washing with is of the utmost importance. So is a balanced diet.

(An Asian kid in slacks and a t-shirt is called on. He stands, mouth open reaching for the courage to speak.)

SHY KID: Mister Melton what’s your greatest career win?

JOEY: Wow. (laughs) This may be surprise a lot of you but I’m going to say Little Voltron. Six months ago for the World Junior title in front of 70,000 people in Japan I beat the lil bugger in a 90-minute Iron Man seven falls to four. I wouldn’t trust the man with my daughter as far as I could throw, but inside that ring he was a God. The language barrier has hurt his crossover appeal, but if you get a chance go to amazon.com and order my BEST OF DVD. I dare you to come away from watching that match NOT being a fan of Vol’s. Can’t be done.

(A chubby black kid, in shorts and a DragonBall Z t-shirt, stands. Melton didn’t raise his hand to speak why should he?)

CHUBBY BLACK KID: Wrestling is fake!

JOEY: (He was warned kids were evil, but Joey chose not to listen.) Excuse me?

CBK: I said wrestling is fake.

JOEY: (Raised voice.) Bet you won’t say that to my face.

CBK: Bet I will.

JOEY: (Floored. Who IS this kid?) Bet YOU won’t.

(The kid walks up to Melton.)

CBK: He (points to Carlton, who’s worked himself to both knees.) knows how to fall. You didn’t hit him...you did like this.

(The kid throws a punch at Joey, stopping an inch from Melton’s right arm. As the punch ‘lands’ the kid makes an audible noise. Half the students laugh. Taking a cue from the laughter the kid smiles and ‘hits’ Joey several more times. As the class laughs with more enthusiasm Melton’s blood pressure rises.)

CBK: (to a tearful Carlton) Get up man. You ain’t hurt.

(More laughs. Joey surveys the room in horror. Several faculty members are amused. This kid is Melton’s problem now.)

JOEY: (Tense) What’s your name son?

CBK: It ain’t son. (smiles.) It’s MAR-CUS. (Marcus ‘kicks’ Joey in the shin several times.)

(Joey, the cruel laughter filling the room taunting him, snaps. He grabs Marcus, lifts him in the air and holds the pose.)

JOEY: HOW FAKE YOU THINK THIS IS NOW?!

(Melton drops the kid over his knee. Students SCREAM and faculty rush over to stop the lawsuit in action. Carlton bravely to one leg, laughs.)

(MISTER MELTON is mean.)


LATER - IN PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE

Joey Melton, Marcus, and Calvin Carlton supported by crutches sit on Mr. Cohen’s couch. Cohen, hands on desk leaning over his calendar book.

MR. COHEN: I’m not sure I know what you want me to do Mr. Melton?

CARLTON: (on crutches) MIS-TER!

JOEY: I want this kid publicly beaten to set an example. One look at this school and I can see you’re not ruling with an iron fist.

MR. COHEN: Mr. Melton spanking children hasn’t been accepted since you were in school.

JOEY: (looks at Carlton) Did he just make a crack about my age?

CARLTON: (Red-faced) Turning forty isn’t a death sentence! Look at than man’s facial pores! Hardly looks or feels a day over thirty!

MARCUS: You old.

(Joey lunges at Marcus, stopped only by a game Carlton.)

MR. COHEN: MR. MELTON!! Leave Marcus alone! He’s a child! Frankly you’re actions here today have disgusted me. You should be ashamed, and if I thought I could pull it off, brought up on charges!

JOEY: Well if you won’t do anything perhaps this child’s parents will! What’s your home number kid?

MARCUS: Not supposed to give that out to strangers. (Marcus shakes his head. Didn’t Joey go to school to learn this too?)

JOEY: (Humbled.) Wow that’s good.

CARLTON: (Equally impressed.) I’d send my kid here. Wasn’t forced at all. He KNEW the score.

JOEY: Without a doubt...Mr. Cohen...bravo.

(Cohen sighs.)

COHEN: I think we’re all done here. Mr. Melton I trust you can show yourself out. Thanks for a WONDERFUL day. Come on Marcus...I’ll walk you back to class.

(Cohen throws his left arm around Marcus and escorts him to the door.)

MARCUS: FAKE!

(Joey jumps, but again is held back by Carlton.)

JOEY: KEEP TALKIN’!

(Cohen hurriedly ushers Marcus out of the room. A second after they’re gone, Carlton shuts then locks the door.)

CARLTON: Are you thinking what...

JOEY: Oh yeah. Find that kid’s personal file. I wanna know where his daddy works. If Cohen won’t correct Marcus’ behavior I will. Nobody steals Joey Melton’s thunder and gets off clean!

CARLTON: (Devilishly pleased) NOBODY!

(Continued in "Breakout.")