Monday, June 24, 2019

Research My Life - The Teenage Bodyguard Screenplay

This is odd.

I have searched for over five years now for a real person from my true crime screenplay, The Teenage Bodyguard. A pivotal character. I've searched over the years through my stuff for his last name. I was unsure of the spelling of his first name as he has one of those where the first letter can be one or the other letter.

The Teenage Bodyguard is a true crime biopic from my past about a time when I was 18 when a woman asked me to arm myself and protect her for a week until she could escape the local mafia in Tacoma, WA.

It's an interesting story I am not turning from a drama with thriller elements in it, into a full out thriller with the help of a producer in Hollywood. Today we are having a phone call to begin that process of rewriting and shortening the story into a very sellable and producible project.

This actually leaves me with the current form of my screenplay where one day I may be able to see it produced as the original drama and biopic that it is. Still, it got me to this point to be producing a film I wrote and I certainly have no complaints.

I had wanted to write it as a thriller originally, but I found too many issues from my wanting it to be as 100% accurate as possible. Knowing full well that pursuing a sale of it as a drama would cripple, or at least hamper my ability to sell it.

In the end right now, I would prefer to sell and see produced a film I wrote. I'm still building my name as a screenwriter and film producer. And we all have to start somewhere. As it is now I have just begun production on a film I am directing from my own screenplay titled, "Gumdrop". It is a short horror film based on a short story of my own ("Gumdrop City") published years ago, which was based on a highly disturbing true crime.

Then yesterday, after all this time, I found the correct spelling of his first name in an old HS yearbook. I then found his last name after searching on by putting in his first name and the name of every high school in Tacoma Washington, where I was born.

For all I knew he may even have attended school outside of Tacoma. He had been my best female friend's boyfriend through high school. In my sophomore yearbook, I found my friend's comments which took up half a page. I cannot now remember when we met, or how.

This boyfriend had already graduated. Not unusual at our high school. Many of my male friends were frustrated that most of the girls we wanted to date were already seeing guys out of high school, in college, or in the service. Mostly the Air Force as McChord AFB (and Ft. Lewis Military Training Base are both) is just outside of Tacoma. Both together now known as Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

This affected my friends and I to the point that we all swore when we graduated high school we would never date a girl in high school as it was so unfair to guys still IN high school. And we didn't want to be, "those guys" who dated girls still in school. It was something that later affected me in another relationship that lasted through my college years and slightly beyond. But that, is another story.

He, let's call him, Tom (his name in the screenplay, as names have been changed to protect the guilty) was a drug dealer. He was my drug dealer, for a time. A big guy, older than us as I said. We had graduated in 1973. He, in 1970 as I have now discovered. But I wasn't even sure of that for a while.

And then, I hit on a name that was familiar. I've come to believe completely not, that it is him. I've been trying to remember his name for decades really, just for the heck of it. But as he has a pivotal role in my screenplay, it became more important to me for purposes of background for the story. And the curiosity to see what he's up to today.

I know it is him now because of the name of the author of a sci fi book I had read in high school. They had similar last names and this new name I've found fits that. Also, I found ONE photo of him on Facebook and I can see him from back then in his face now. Even though he is much older and a lot heavier now.

My point in bringing this up is this. When I found him on Facebook I reviewed his mostly secured page. But his posts are open. Friends aren't, most photos aren't. Is he paranoid? A holdover perhaps from his drug dealing days in the 70s?

Fears (still?) of the mafia who had been dismantled in the late 70s as detailed in my screenplay? I've heard recent rumors they are still active through the younger generation of those original members. Those original OG types being all dead now.

What I found so interesting is that he is a conservative now (is that where drug dealers go?). And apparently for a long time now. He is also a die-hard Trump supporter. Delusional as they do tend to be. I'm not surprised as I had discovered in researching my screenplay story, that he had used me to block the Tacoma mafia seeking a murder witness he was familiar with, by using me as a cut-out.

He may have rationalized I would be safe. Maybe.

I only realized what he had done once I women I took from where she was staying at his house, to a new location he knew nothing about. There she opened up to me. He hadn't wanted to know where she was going. That seemed very important to them both. And they made that weirdly clear to me.

In these recent times, I became upset with him when I realized it what he had done. I deluded myself into thinking we were friends as we had known one another for years. But it appears it was very one-sided. I was just, a customer. Knowing now that he is a full blown conservative nut, it makes sense.

The next time, a while later, after the week with that women, I looked him up. Probably, I was looking for some weed. But he and his roommate had both moved. Gone. I never saw them again. Well once. I did see him one more time. A year later at the Tacoma Mall. I was walking along and there he was, plain as day. I went up to him and said hi. He reacted oddly, almost a frightened look in his face. He was with a very beautiful, tiny woman holding a baby. His baby. It was his new wife.

We talked briefly, I caught his consternation. I assumed he didn't want me to blow his cover as a previous drug dealer. I assumed he had never told her about it. Now that I reflect back on it, I have to wonder if he was worried not that I might blow his cover, but that I might be pissed off, and blow him away entirely, with a gun. But I was happy to see him in my utter and sheer ignorance. Perhaps that too confused him.

But I'm a gentleman. I was gracious. I let him go and he hurried her away. I thought it odd she didn't get what was going on. But when we are fully ignorant of something like that, why should we notice anything odd? I watched them walk away that day in 1975, and never saw them again. Until Isaw his photo on Facebook.

Overall The Teenage Bodyguard is an interesting story, as is the screenplay I have written. It's not a documentary. It's a fictionalized account of a piece of my life.

One I hope and believe, we will be bringing to the screen in the next year or two. And that I have and will continue to make great strides to achieve.

Just as a caveat, beware researching your past. You never know what you might dredge up.

On the other hand, you may just find that you have a very good motion picture on your hands.

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