SHELTER EPISODES 1-5

Foreword by Stan Lerner: “Shelter “combines comedy and drama in an effort to bring us all a little closer to understanding and bringing to an end the tragedy of homelessness in America.

SHELTER EPISODE 1

The Malibu mansion, poised atop a cliff’s edge, with a one hundred and eighty degree view of the vast Pacific Ocean, truly had no equal. Inside, this particular evening, yet another lavish fund-raiser was in progress. The usual high pomp and circumstance flowed from magnificent room to still more magnificent room, all crowded with the crème of Los Angeles society—mega-players all.

JB Boldwell a handsome, distinguished gentleman of seventy, stood alone on the terrace looking through the impressive window, smoking a cigar and observing the goings on. So many people, so engaged, in he did not even remember what purpose—he felt nothing, but sadness, a sense of being lost and empty.

“Why aren’t you inside, Grandpa? It’s your party,” asked Felicity, JB’s adorable eight-year-old granddaughter, who unbeknownst to JB had been standing behind him.

JB smiled. “They don’t care if I’m in there, sweetheart. They just want a party.”

Felicity furrowed her brow. “Why don’t they want you?”

JB cleared his throat; yet spoke in a subdued tone. “I don’t think they like me very much.”

“Well, maybe you should try and be a nicer person,” suggested Felicity, truly wanting to help her grandfather.

JB did his best to conceal that the words of an eight-year-old had just cut into him like a knife. “What do you mean?”

“I just think you’d really like it if you could go to your own party,” answered Felicity.

These words exploded in JB’s head, causing a type of shock, the likes of which he had never known. “Maybe,” he muttered staring in at the people. And then looking down at Felicity, through a fog that seemed to role in faster than was possible, he spoke words that he could not hear. “Better go inside dear—it’s too cold for you out here.”

JB stared for several more minutes at the people who seemed to move further and further off into the distance—although neither he nor they had moved at all. And then they were gone because he was walking out of the gates that secluded his life from the outside world—boulevards, stoplights, cars, people, sights, sounds, and smells, all of which, he had not experienced in almost half a century, because he had been rich for a very long time.

The black and white police cruiser slowed down and the officer who was driving nodded toward the tuxedo clad, older gentleman walking down the street toward Skid Row. “What do you make of this guy?” he asked his somewhat bemused partner.

“Dressed like that, down here… Probably trying to score drugs,” answered the cynical partner.

The officer behind the wheel shook his head. “What a shame. We better intervene.”

The car came to a stop and the officers exited, but the older gentleman in the tuxedo seemed to be oblivious to their presence.

“Hey there, big guy, don’t you think you’re a little overdressed for Skid Row?” asked the cynical officer. But the man just kept walking.

“Buddy. We’re talking to you,” shouted the officer who had been driving.

“If I felt like talking gentleman, I’d still be conversing with the three hundred guests at my thirty million dollar mansion in Malibu,” offered the man they suspected of being in some kind of drug stupor.

The officers exchanged a glance of mutual agreement and then the cop that had been driving walked onto the sidewalk cutting off any possibility of forward progress. “Thirty million dollars…Right. Sir we’re going to have to ask you to come with us.”

The central station downtown could not under any circumstance be called a cheery place, but the graveyard shift presented a particularly melancholy environment—as it became a place of last chances gone by. And it was in this gloomy place that the man in the expensive tuxedo found himself sitting on a bench amidst the dregs of society.

The desk sergeant, who had seen everything, did after a busy hour or so take an interest in the strange sight of the man who seemed completely unresponsive to the hectic activity all around.

A plainclothes detective wandered up to the man and snapped his fingers in front of his face, to no avail. He turned to the desk sergeant. “What’s up with him?”

“Couple Unis picked him up earlier, think he’s some kinda catatonic big shot. Mental Health’s on their way down to check him out,” answered the desk sergeant.

The detective grinned and snapped his fingers in the man’s face again. “Probably drugs. No ID on him?”

“None, nada, zilch,” answered the sergeant.

“You know…he kinda looks like that billionaire real estate guy, JB something or other. Owns the basketball team.”

“The Rippers? Yeah, right,” said the sergeant. But before he could comment further a commotion from the street outside came through the front doors.

“I demand my rights!!!” shouted Steve Mahoney, an unkempt, overweight, fantastic disaster of a human being in his forties—as he was pushed through the doors in handcuffs. Steve, while obviously bright and well educated, had been a longtime fixture of the homeless community as he also suffered from profound delusions of grandeur.

So while it did not strike the desk sergeant as strange to have an irate Steve Mahoney brought through the doors—the two sheriff’s deputies that followed him, also in handcuffs and escorted by two LAPD officers—certainly did, very strange indeed.

“You guys are making a big mistake,” said the first sheriff deputy to come through the doors to the two LAPD officers.

“You have no idea, sunshine,” chimed in Steve. “I know the mayor, we do pilates together. This time tomorrow all four of you will be giving out parking tickets in South Central.”

The desk sergeant rolled his eyes as he turned his attention towards the detective. “Better tell Mental Health to step on it, it looks like it’s going to be one of those nights.” And then the sergeant turned to face the whole bunch as they approached making a considerable racket. “Alright, quiet down. Whatta we got?”

The LAPD officer who stood at the front of the pack pointed at the two sheriffs. “We caught these guys trying to dump their little vagrant problem onto our jurisdiction.”

“I resent the term ‘vagrant,’” interjected Steve. “In the contemporary vernacular it’s come to carry deeply derogatory connotations. I prefer ‘Itinerant-American.’”

“Whatever,” responded the cop, clearly fed up.

The detective didn’t want to get involved, but realized that he had no choice. “Thought you could just dump him off on Skid Row and be done with it?” he asked the sheriffs.

“He told us he lived there,” protested the sheriff’s deputy, who thus far hadn’t uttered a word.

Steve forced a loud laugh from his throat. “An outright fabrication! I said no such thing.”

“You said you were homeless,” said both deputies simultaneously.

The tone of Steve’s voice reverberated with a high-octane mixture of haughtiness and sarcasm. “So you just assumed that meant I lived on Skid Row. Talk about profiling. I smell a civil rights lawsuit!”

The LAPD officer taking up the rear sniffed the air. “That’s not what I smell.”

“Very funny,” quipped Steve. “Since it’s your ass that’s going to get burned, maybe it’s bacon you smell?”

“Enough!” said the detective, thinking that the whole situation really could turn into a mess if he didn’t get it under control. “What’s your name?” he asked starting with the person he considered to be at the crux of the matter.

“Mahoney. Steve Cornelius Vanderbilt Mahoney. And I want my phone call.”

“So do we,” demanded the deputy standing right behind Steve.

The LAPD officer at the head of the pack shook his head. “Sorry phone’s broken. It’s gonna be out all week, so why don’t you take Mr. Mahoney here back to your jurisdiction in fancytown and you can all use the phone there.”

“Take him back?” asked the deputy who stood behind Steve, truly mortified by the thought. “That’s all right, we’ll wait here—book us.”

The LAPD officer standing in front shrugged. “Fine have it your way.” He began to lead the deputies away.

The detective had seen enough. “ Stop. Nobody’s locking up anyone.”

Steve wasn’t satisfied. “I demand you arrest them! They violated fundamental law enforcement ethics and procedure, not to mention countless civil liberties granted me by the Constitution of this great Republic of California. I demand an audience with my local assembly person!”

The detective turned to Steve. “Do you even know who that would be?”

“Either Consuela Valle or Shorty Ebersole, depending on which district I decide to sue first.”

The Detective pulled a hundred dollar bill out of his wallet. “How about I give you this just to get out of here?”

“Are you trying to bribe me, detective?” asked Steve, his resolve both icy and threatening, if you could actually take him seriously.

The detective didn’t flinch. “I’d prefer to think of it as helping you…get out of my jurisdiction.”

Steve thought for a moment. “I’m going to need more help than that.”

Both of the sheriff’s deputies immediately went for their wallets, although substantially hindered by their handcuffs.

“Somebody get my wallet out. I got another hundred bucks,” said the one closest to Steve.

“Me, too,” said his partner.

The LAPD officers decided to facilitate the sheriff’s deputies’ efforts and they each put in a hundred dollars of their own, which the detective gathered up and extended toward Steve.

“Unbelievable!” said the LAPD officer as he uncuffed Mahoney.

“You’re lucky I’m inclined to travel to the beach for the weekend,” said Steve as he grabbed the cash and put it into his pocket quite ceremoniously. “Which means my day in court will have to wait.”

“You mean, you’re still not happy?” asked the LAPD officer.

Steve straightened his posture and puffed out his chest. “I’m not going to be happy until the system supports fair and equal treatment for all of its citizens, including the economically-impaired, so you can stop harassing guys like me. I’m not going to be happy until someone actually rises to the occasion and does something to create a place where people who can’t afford a place to live have somewhere decent to go!”

The older gentleman, dressed in the tuxedo, who had gone unnoticed by the group and been forgotten about by the desk sergeant and the detective—stood. “I believe that someone would be me.”

Steve thought of himself as a solo act, so he didn’t appreciate the new guy on his stage. “And who the hell are you?”

JB had regained his senses completely. “I’m JB Boldwell.”

Steve had seen JB in the papers a thousand times. “The guy who owns the L.A. Rippers? Mr. Gentrification himself, who’s knocked down every affordable building in the city, you’re going to solve the homeless problem? You’re the one who caused it in the first place.”

JB nodded. “Maybe so. But I have an idea…”

SHELTER EPISODE 2

BOLDWELL BUILDING DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

JB stood at the podium, overlooking the immense lobby of the Boldwell Building, feeling better about life than he had in many years. Large presentation boards showing architectural renderings, models, and blueprints had been set up on each side of the stage, showcasing a luxury condo complex named “Platinum Place”.

“Thank you all for coming,” JB said, addressing the packed audience, which as one might expect, was the Who’s Who of Los Angeles, all of whom had come to hear the “Big Announcement”. JB continued, “Platinum Place, originally conceived of as a mid-week haven for affluent commuters away from their primary dwellings in outlying areas, will provide the perfect setting for Boldwell Ventures’ new Homeless Reintegration Shelter, devoted to easing the need of our city’s growing number of homeless. But don’t let the fancy trappings fool you; Platinum Place will be all about results. It is my intention to make ours the most effective working shelter in the country, which means residents will be provided skill refinement programs and hands-on professional training. The same innovation that’s brought us success around the globe will be very much a part of this new undertaking. And now I’ll take a few questions.”

Hands shot up all around the room. JB pointed at an attractive, young, blonde reporter in the back.

“Are you telling us that this shelter is to be a non-profit enterprise?”

JB’s tone was filled all patronizing charm. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’ve had the pleasure of interviewing me before. What’s your name?”

“Lori Nichole with APT. I just got my M.A. in journalism from Brown.”

JB nodded. “Good school, there’s a building with my name on it there. Top shelf. But in answer to your question: this venture will be decidedly not-for-profit. The success of an undertaking should never be measured in monetary terms alone, especially at an innovative new facility like Platinum Place, where profits will be counted not in dollars, but human triumph—in the number of recycled lives given back to society and the work force.”

Polite, scattered applause came from the bewildered crowd and hands once again were raised.

“When will you be ready to begin operations?” asked an uptight correspondent from The Times.

“Just as soon as the City Council grants us the required permits and zoning adjustments,” answered JB.

A corpulent, but distinguished-looking gentleman in a fine suit raised his hand— the disagreeable Councilman Ferris Getchell. “If we grant them, you mean.”

JB smiled, but the councilman’s comment had thrown him off for a moment. “Ah, Councilman Getchell, glad you could make it,” said JB regaining his composure.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, JB.”

The two men glared at each other for a moment—there would be war.

CONFERENCE ROOM BOLDWELL EXECUTIVE OFFICES

In the massive, state of the art conference room several flat screens showed the thunderous applause from the audience at the press conference, which was drawing to its conclusion in the lobby 80 floors below. Seated around the conference table were a dozen stunned Boldwell executives—all complexions could be described as ashen.

“A homeless shelter?” questioned one of the executives—a male in his mid thirties.

An attractive female executive in her late twenties dropped the Montblanc pen she had been clutching. “This is a joke, right?”

“To be a joke, JB would actually have to have a sense of humor,” responded another of the male executives—obviously a veteran at Boldwell, given his understanding of JB.

“Maybe it’s a publicity stunt,” suggested the woman that served as in house counsel.

“Platinum Place has a waiting list a mile long—it doesn’t need publicity,” said Walter “Trip” Bennington, with the arrogance befitting a twenty-five-year-old junior executive, corporate climber whose zealous ambition had him wound so tight he could go over the edge at any moment. “It’s a waste of money is what it is. The old man’s getting soft.”

Sitting at the head of the table was Dennis Johnston a quiet, collected, refined and reserved man of fifty, who knew JB better than anyone. “Relax, Walter. JB has more money today than he did yesterday, and tomorrow he’ll have more money than today.”

“But not as much as he could!” Interrupted Bennington. “Don’t you see? Where’s the greed?”

Dennis was unruffled, he’d seen the Bennington’s of the world come and go. “Perhaps you should ask JB that yourself,” he suggested, calmly.

“You think I wouldn’t, Dennis? Is that what you think? You think I’m afraid to tell JB what I think?”

The door to the conference room slammed open. “Tell me what you think about what, Bennington?” asked JB, blowing into the room like the force of nature that he was.

Bennington let out a slight yelp—like a girl, but managed to say, “About your brilliant new vision for Platinum Place, sir.”

JB stared at him for a moment, sighed, then turned to Dennis. “Johnston. My office. Now!”

JB exited the room through the large double doors that led to his office. Dennis stood slowly so that he could give Benington a wink and a nod before following the boss into a meeting for grownups. As he walked out of the room he could hear the rousting begin.

“Brilliant new vision, sir,” said one mocking voice.

But Bennington was prepared to hold his ground. “I’ll be running this place one day,” he announced to the group—his tone so confident that it did give the others pause.

SHELTER EPISODE 3

JB’S OFFICE

Rather than sit behind his massive desk JB had opted for the comfortable, but equally formidable, club chair in the rear seating area of his office. By the time Dennis appeared JB was already sitting calmly smoking a cigar, as if the uproar surrounding his recent news conference had not happened. JB pointed to the red leather sofa next to his chair. “Have a seat, Dennis, we need to talk.”

With an admiring chortle, Dennis sat. “That was some announcement you made, JB. I’m assuming there’s a tax angle?”

JB shook his head. “No angle. How long have you been working for me now, Dennis? Ten years? Twelve?”

“Twenty-eight,” Dennis corrected, knowing that JB knew exactly how long he had been working for him, but always kept even his closest associates off balance.

JB flicked the ashes from his cigar into a solid gold ashtray that used to belong to Teddy Roosevelt. “Indeed. We’ve seen some marvelous things happen at this company together. Over time, you and me.”

“Yes, we have, JB”

“Now, I could tell you some sentimental nonsense like I couldn’t have done it without you, but let’s face it—I could have.”

Dennis smiled. “Thanks JB, that might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me…or anyone, for that matter.”

JB held up his hand. “That’s not to say that you’re not the best COO in the industry, you are.”

“You’re scaring me, JB. Are you feeling alright?” asked Dennis, lighthearted, but thinking this was straying from their usual banter.

“I’m not dying, if that’s what you mean. But let’s face it: at my age… I never gave much thought to the poor, the weak, the liberals. But what type of world am I going to be leaving my granddaughter?” asked JB, completely serious.

“One with some very luxurious residences,” answered Dennis, with his usual candor.

“Great, my headstone will read, ‘Bad husband to three wives, terrible father of four, and developer of luxury residences.’ I can’t leave a legacy like that to Felicity, Dennis. I just can’t…”

“And so you’re turning Platinum Place into a homeless shelter?”

JB let out a laugh. “Me? Of course not.”

Dennis was actually confused. “But you said…”

“You are!” said JB, cutting him off.

There was an uncomfortable pause in their conversation as Dennis attempted to mentally process JB’s words.

“I don’t understand?” said Dennis, finally able to come up with something.

“You’re going to head the new Platinum Place Rehabilitative Facility for Itinerant-Americans. Congratulations,” said JB, always preferring to make things crystal clear as quickly as possible.

“Me?”

“You know as well as I, you’re the only man for the job.”

“But I thought you…”

“I’ve got no stomach for the weak, the downtrodden. I’m just not very good with people!”

“I promise I’ll find you the best in the field, JB.”

“If the best in the field were any good, would the problem be this bad? We don’t need the best in the field! We need,” JB paused dramatically, “top shelf!”

“Top shelf?”

“The very top! I’m entrusting you with the thing I care most about it in this world…I need you, Dennis.”

“You do?”

“It’s settled then. I hereby accept your resignation as Chief Operating Officer of Boldwell Ventures.” JB rested his left hand, which wasn’t occupied by a cigar, on Dennis’s shoulder.  “I can’t tell you how much I admire the sacrifice you’re making. Lord knows I couldn’t.”

“But…”

“First order of business:” JB was on a roll, “I want Felicity on the board of directors. She’ll like that.”

“Your granddaughter? You’re kidding…”

JB laughed. “Of course I’m kidding. What kind of man puts an eight-year-old on a board of directors? But I want her to feel involved, and extremely aware of all the good her grandpa is doing in the world. Make her proud. Don’t disappoint me, Dennis.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, JB,” stammered Dennis, knowing that once JB’s mind was made up there was no changing it. In shock he stood up and began walking to the door.

“Oh, and one more thing: The City Council isn’t going to like my change of plans, so you have to make sure your team is…top shelf!”

Dennis sighed. “Top shelf.”

“That’s right…Your team.” JB was making yet another point.

“My team?” questioned Dennis. “What team?”

“The one you’ll be putting together before the Council meeting next week.”

“Oh…” muttered Dennis, trying to imagine how he was going to tell his wife the news that he had just been fired from his COO position at the largest real estate development firm in the country, but he had been fortunate enough to be given charge of a homeless shelter.

SHELTER EPISODE 4

DENNIS’ MAKESHIFT OFFICE AT PLATINUM PLACE

There had been no time to decorate, when JB wanted something done—his expectation was always yesterday, not tomorrow. Dennis’s new office was still mostly boxes and folding chairs, but the interview process had begun. Flanked by his faithful, longtime secretary Gail Honeymaker, an unflappable woman of fifty Dennis had already met with a dozen hopeful applicants—all qualified, but none “top shelf.” Until…

Eric “Rico” Abrams, a classic thirty-something, over-anxious, underachieving, New York Jew took the hot seat.

“What made you want to work with the homeless?” asked Dennis.

“Jealousy—I still live at home with my overbearing Jewish mother.”

“Reverse psychology. I like it!” Dennis said, enthusiastic to have found his first employee.

Six not “top shelf” candidates later, Nessa Kashaini, a seriously beautiful, twenty-five-year-old with a Master’s Degree and a passionate idealism for helping the less privileged sat in front of Dennis and Mrs. Honeymaker….

“I used to think I could save the world. Now I know I can,” said Nessa.

Dennis and Mrs. Honeymaker exchanged smiles of agreement.  Dennis turned back to Nessa, “I like your confidence.”

Aaron Johnson, a tough as nails, fifty-five-year-old African American, ex-LAPD officer seemed to be the perfect candidate for head of security at Platinum Place.

“I was a cop and a drunk for thirty-four years,” said Aaron, in a tone that indicated what little personality he had once had, had been consumed by the bottle, which he had tossed out on the trash heap of life’s regrets. “I have absolutely zero tolerance for anything.”

“Sounds a little tough, Mr. Johnson,” Dennis commented, more than asked.

Aaron stood up from the chair. “That’s why I’m a security guard not a social worker.”

Dennis took in his considerable size and vacuous of personality demeanor. “I see your point.”

Gary Rapparort, at all of thirty-years-old, was far too young to have ever been an actual hippie, but he certainly tried his best. Strangely, his attempt at hippieness came across as a cool camp counselor vibe, reeking of incense and Zen therapy.

“And how do you think you’ll be able to relate to the residents at Platinum Place?” asked Dennis, not so sure about this far out candidate.

“With total harmonic convergence, Daddy. Our mutual states of longing for love and oneness will fuse in totality.”

“I dig it!” said Mrs. Honeymake. The comment drew a curious glance from Dennis. “I do. I really do—” And Dennis would never go against a Mrs. Honeymaker case of intuition.

A former marine drill sergeant sat teeth clenched, his entire body hummed with hostility; and next to him sat Ernie Barrios, an elaborately tattooed, thirty-two-year-old ex-cholo gangbanger with street cred.

“Those sorry leeches are a burden to society. The iron fist of discipline is what they need,” said the drill sergeant, explaining his approach to rehabilitating broken lives.

Dennis turned to Ernie. “And your philosophy?”

“My philosophy?” Ernie nodded toward the drill sergeant. “I wouldn’t work anywhere that would hire this guy.”

Dennis turned to the drill sergeant. “You go.” He turned back to Ernie. “You stay.”

Mrs. Honeymaker processed the new hires with her usual efficiency. And then brought her exhausted boss his afternoon coffee.

“Thank you, Gail,” said Dennis, reaching across his cluttered desk for the much-appreciated cup of Joe. “You’ve been the best secretary anyone could have asked for in the last 28 years…I’m going to miss you.”

“Well, Mr. Johnston, I think you’ve hired a fine staff.”

“They all seem qualified, but I’ll never find anyone that can manage an office the way you can, Gail.”

Mrs. Honeymaker let a second pass before answering, “I know.”

“I mean I wouldn’t think of asking you to sacrifice a dream job on the Westside to come down here and work with…You know what I mean. I’ll probably have to get some college kid to do an internship.”

“An intern to run the office at Platinum Place? That won’t do. Rebuilding people’s lives is a job for a mature adult; someone with life experience, Mr. Johnston.”

“I looked through a thousand applications, not one qualified office manager—other than that girl from that reality show.”

Mrs. Homeymaker was horrified. “Reality show? I’m sure JB won’t mind if I stay on for awhile—just until you find someone…If you want me to, that is.”

JB was a mere sentence away from finishing off this small coup when two movers appeared in the doorway carrying a massively heavy desk.

“Where do you want this antique? It’s heavy.”

Mrs. Honeymaker stared at the desk for a moment. “That’s my desk…”

The mover gave her a sarcastic nod. “Really? We mistook it for a much lighter object.”

“What are you doing with my desk?” asked a puzzled Mrs. Honeymaker, sensing a scheme.

The mover tried his best to shrug. “Oh, we had nothing else to do so we decided it might be a kick to carry it up thirty flights of stairs because it’s too big to fit in the elevator.”

The whole matter became perfectly clear in Mrs. Honeymaker’s mind—it took a moment because trickery at Boldwell was usually JB’s domain. She turned to her boss. “Dennis?”

Busted, he turned beet red. “I thought you might want it.”

“I should have known…” It was her nature to be touched not mad.

“Take your time…don’t rush. In fact, go have lunch and think about it. We’ll just wait here til you come back and tell us where to set it down,” quipped the smartass mover.

“Right outside of my door. You can put it there,” said Dennis, thinking that the mover might have missed his calling—acerbic, abrasive, demanding, perhaps as an executive in the entertainment industry.

Mrs. Honeymaker smiled and gave Dennis her familiar nod. “I’ll tell the staff you’re ready.”

SHELTER EPISODE 5

MEETING ROOM PLATINUM PLACE

Dennis walked to the front of the swanky meeting room, which had been built to accommodate the social functions of the rich and richer, and stood facing his just hired staff. “Although we only have a temporary occupancy permit—our benefactor JB Boldwell wants us to begin the process of filling Platinum Place.”

“Daddy, this place is so cool, I’ll stay here myself,” Gary practically shouted, every bit the enthusiastic hippie.

“No. Any other ideas?”

Ernie raised his hand to signal Dennis that unlike Garry he had something serious to say. “I used to work for the county, they have extras—I can call over and they’ll send us some.”

Dennis shook his head. “Business as usual, JB will never go for that.”

“I’d like to go out and identify those most at risk and pull them off of the street,” said Nessa, already passionate about making as much a difference as humanly possible.

“Not safe,” responded Dennis. “I can’t have you out there roaming the streets.”

“I’ll go with her,” volunteered a smitten Eric “Rico” Abrams.

“Ha!” laughed Security Officer Johnson. “Now that’s reassuring.”

Laughter spread around the room.

“Go ahead and laugh. Maybe you have a better idea,” said Eric defensively.

“Hey I’m just a security guard, but given the fact our benefactor owns half the billboards in the city, why don’t you just advertise?”

Dennis smiled. If life had taught him one thing, it was that good ideas could come from anybody, anywhere, anytime. “That’s a very business like approach…JB will like that.”

BILLBOARDS OF PLATINUM PLACE with SHAM WOW! GUY (Vince Shlomi) in the foreground, heralding the amazing new opportunity for the homeless: WOW!! Came to five hundred billboards in Los Angeles literally over night. Because when JB Boldwell wants to make something happen it happens—and JB liked this idea.

COUNSELOR OFFICES PLATINUM PLACE

Gary’s first interview was a well-dressed man in his 40’s, Tucker Bergamont IV an old money wasp-turned-homeless-guy, still stunned by the cruel twist of fate that got him there.  “I joined White, Shirt & Brown fresh out of Yale. There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for that firm. And a lot of things I shouldn’t have.” He buried his face in his hands and sobbed. “A lot of things.”

“It’s alright, man,” assured Gary. “You just need to chill here with us for a while.”

Next door in Nessa’s office sat Jerome James a fast-talking, young, white trash drug addict—the resilient and optimistic type. “I’ve been on my own and getting high since I was in third grade. I’m a twenty-time loser so if you don’t give me a place to stay it’s all right. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t even let me stay and I’m me.”

Nessa took a moment to assess the young man, not so much younger than her. “You can stay.”

Before Eric “Rico” Abrams sat Ginger Rogers a seasoned hooker with a heart of gold and still a believer after all these years. “When I saw your billboard my heart just soared. I knew my ship had finally come in, my real ship—not like that Navy kind I’m still taking penicillin for.”

Eric smiled. “So you have military experience?”

“So your husband just left you with no money and two kids?” Ernie asked Maria Melendez an attractive single mother in her early 20’s. Her two children David (8) and Ophelia (6) played a few feet away in the sitting area of Ernie’s new office.

She nodded, sadly. “But we’ll be okay, won’t we..?”

“Sure, you’re gonna be okay,” answered Ernie, knowing that immediate reassurance was required in such cases.

“It’s okay if we’re not,” said Ophelia from the couch, melodramatically stoic, “because we’re used to disappointment and hardship.”

David put his hand over his sister’s mouth. “Don’t listen to her…Who wrote all over your neck?”

Ernie smiled, no filter on kids. “Someone stupid. Me.”

CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER

JB and Dennis took their seats before the City Council. The entire Platinum Place staff sat in the crowded public galleries above the chamber.

“I now call this meeting of the City Council to order,” said the City Council President with a loud bang of his gavel. “Our first and only item of business is the purposed change of use of the luxury residential development known as Platinum Place. Who will be addressing the council?”

JB stood from his chair. “I’m JB Boldwell, owner and Chief Executive Officer of the proposed Platinum Place Rehabilitative Shelter for Itinerant-Americans. I believe our request for change of use is fairly straight forward.”

Councilman Getchell looked over the top of his round glasses at JB. “Perhaps not as straight forward as the people in my district would like. You see esteemed members of the council and Mr. Boldwell, the permit to build Platinum Place was granted for the purpose of improving the neighborhood. And its tax base.”

JB’s expression was stern and admonishing. “Providing housing for the people of your district that don’t have housing is the greatest possible improvement that can be made to the neighborhood.”

“It does nothing for our tax base,” responded Councilman Getchell.

“I already pay more taxes than everyone in your district combined…”

“But not in our district,” interrupted the councilman. There was a stunned silence, then murmurs throughout the vast hall. JB looked pale; he sensed Getchell was moving in for the kill—he was right. “I urge the council to deny this request. Our constituents already have an address, and we are first and foremost responsible to them.”

The president looked from face to face, the council members seemed to be in agreement with Getchell. “If nobody has anything else to say, I am prepared to call a vote on this matter.”

The very real possibility of losing brought a distasteful frown to JB’s face—he hated losing and he really hated losing to a useless bureaucrat like Getchell. Getchell, on the other hand was relishing the triumph now seemingly so close at hand, when suddenly the familiar and dreaded voice boomed out from the far end of the hall.

“I have something to say!” shouted Steve Mahoney, the homeless, homeless advocate / activist.

Getchell rolled his eyes. “Mahoney, not you again.”

“Yes, me again.”

“The votes been called for Mr. Mahoney, you’re too late,” said the president.

“Rule 1146 paragraph A12. A vote is not called for until the gavel’s first strike, which had not taken place before I entered and stated my intention to address the council, as is my right.”

Councilman Getchell turned his attention to the president. “This is highly irregular.”

“I’m irregular? You’re irregular! This whole council is irregular!” Steve put his hand to his stomach. “But nothing a high fiber diet won’t fix.”

“Okay, Mr. Mahoney, try just this once to keep it short and to the point,” said the president overruling his own ruling.

Steve lumbered up to the stand, taking a position next to JB. “Better let me take it from here.” And then he turned his attention to the council. “I’d like to begin by saying this man is a champion of civil rights, whose selfless courage and fearless transformation from foul social bane to bona fide hero should be an inspiration to the whole council!

JB and Dennis exchanged glances. JB shrugged and it seemed as though inspirational background music had begun to play.

Steve looked up to the gallery, including the people in his cause. “Ladies and gentleman, I have a dream. I dream of the day when all God’s children will have a roof over their heads and food on the table. From the mansions of Malibu to the Los Angeles River no man, woman, or child, should be without food and shelter.” Several council members were obviously deeply moved. Steve continued, “And I say to you that it is better that we die here on the floor choking on our own blood than give up the fight to protect the less fortunate. It’s time councilmen and councilwomen to ask not what your districts can do for you, but what you can do for your districts. And we know this truth to be self-evident. Everybody join hands.” And the audience did actually join hands, which caused the council members to do the same. Steve continued, “Just say yes to housing for the homeless. Just say yes to Platinum Place. Just say yes. Just say yes.” The whole chamber joined Steve in his chant and added a thunderous clap to it. Even the council members joined in. And finally the president of the city council brought his gavel down again.

“I call the vote! All those in favor?”

The entire council raised their hands except for Councilman Getchell, who was stared at by all as the chant continued causing the pressure to mount.

“Come on, Councilman Getchell,” shouted Steve. “Be on the right side of history, a troubled and afflicted mankind looks to you.”

Getchell pulled a handkerchief from his suit pocket and dabbed at the perspiration on his forehead.

“It pleads with you,” continued Steve, “to keep our rendezvous with destiny. Help each individual in our nation learn the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, be responsible to liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.”

Finally, Getchell’s head tilted forward and began to nod. “Okay, okay, yes. I vote yes!”

The room erupted in hugs and love. JB and Dennis shook hands. And Steve turned to JB, opening his arms wide for a hug.

“Not a chance,” said JB.

“Didn’t think so,” replied Steve.

“But thank you, for what you did here today. If there’s ever anything I can…”

“Well, I still need a place to live.”

Not anymore, Mr. Mahoney. From now on your address will proudly read: Platinum Place.”

Steve let out a yelp of joy and then turned to hug the closest person, which quite hilariously happened to be Councilman Getchell. Getchell, being watched closely by all, had no choice but to reciprocate. And as reality, albeit a better reality, came back to the room the two separated.

Councilman Getchell brushed the front of his suit, dislodging some Cheerios that had been errantly transferred from Steve’s shirt. “Well, good day to you, Mr. Mahoney.”

Steve smiled, missing a few teeth. “Same to you councilman. Maybe now that we’re neighbors, we could meet up for some coffee or yoga or something…”

But Councilman Getchell was already on his way to another important meeting!

STAN LERNER’S BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AS EBOOKS FOR KINDLE, NOOK, KOBO, IPAD, EREADER AND ON SMASHWORDS .COM

“STAN LERNER’S CRIMINAL”

HOLLYWOOD BOOK FESTIVAL GRAND PRIZE WINNER

An intense page-turner based on the author’s true-life experiences.

“Stan Lerner’s Criminal” is the graphic and shocking account of the rise to power of the world’s most calculating and dangerous criminal…Sam Noah.

Sam Noah was handsome, intelligent, and charismatic. He came from a good family, had the perfect girlfriend, and attended UCLA where he ranked at the top of his class.  Noah could have made anything he wanted to out of his life. But crime came naturally to him.

The story begins in 1984. The Cold War is at its height and the CIA is looking for still more funding for its covert operations around the world. Powerful men decide that there must be a go to guy. A man that will do whatever is necessary to finance the wars that Congress cannot be made aware of.

Sam Noah takes a job at a popular nightclub where he runs a smalltime ticket scam — and he begins to recruit the ruthless men that will help him build a narcotics empire.

When the FBI becomes a gathering threat to Noah, he forms an alliance with the CIA. His innovations — the crack house and the drive-by shooting — not only bring an unprecedented level of violence to the streets of America. They assure the powerful men who have engaged his services that Noah is indeed capable of doing the unthinkable.

The sale of cocaine makes him rich. His willingness to commit murder ensures that he will remain so.

Not since Hannibal Lecter has there been such a horrifying yet engaging mastermind of evil.

“Stan Lerner’s Criminal” transports the reader into the darkest of all places: the criminal mind.  This is an unforgettable journey into the psyche of Sam Noah — the man behind some of the most brutal sins against humanity.

By the end of this unflinching tale, what may shock the reader the most is how he or she will ultimately identify with and root for this ruthless but brilliant “Criminal”.

To sample or purchase “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” please visit:

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“IN DEVELOPMENT”

“In Development” is a hilarious account of a day in the life of Stan Peters—Hollywood’s most powerful and scummiest producer.

The day begins like any other day—a superlative, five-star breakfast at The Peninsula Hotel. However, the shocking news that there has been a change at the very top of the studio means that the perfect world of Stan and his closest associates could come to a sudden end—especially with a movie like “Two Jews and a Blonde Psycho” in development. The subsequent call from Brad, the new studio boss, confirms their greatest fear—their movie is in danger of being put in turn-around. A day of sex, manipulation, lying, betrayal, blackmail, and murder ensues — otherwise known in Hollywood as a happy ending.

To sample or purchase “In Development” please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/7633

BLAST

To sample or purchase “Blast” please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8050

IMPACT

To sample or purchase “Impact” please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8271

GET CHICKS 101

To sample or purchase “Get Chicks 101″ please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8281

GET THE RIGHT GUY

To sample or purchase “Get The Right Guy” please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/7846

NINETY- NINE POSTS

To sample or purchase “Ninety-Nine Posts” please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9380

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stan Lerner is an award winning-author whose diverse credits include the novels “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, “Blast”, “In Development,” and the children’s book “Stanley The Elephant.” Stan Lerner is also the creator of the Las Vegas music spectacle “Night Tribe” and the writer, director, producer of the hit motion picture “Meet The Family.” Mr. Lerner was born in Montebello CA and has lived in downtown Los Angeles for the last fifteen years.

For more information about Stan Lerner please visit his author profile at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stan

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