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.” Continue reading