Nine Rings


Opening shot: worm’s-eye view of gravel parking lot of roadside country bar in upstate New York. In the foreground, the gravel is grooved where a car has skidded slightly from a sudden stop. The car is a convertible red Porsche 969. Focus shifts to neon sign over the cinderblock building in the background: Virgil’s Bar & Grill. AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” can be heard playing inside, just below the chirping of the crickets.


Inside, of course, the music is much louder. It’s a pretty generic bar and grill. The proprietor, VIRGIL, is working behind the bar, a cheerfully grizzled old coot in a plaid flannel shirt and jeans. He is listening to the only other person in the room, DANTE, maybe 40, dressed in a gorgeously understated (but rumpled) dark gray suit. He is sitting at the bar, taking a last sip of a martini.

Dante: GodDAM that is a good martini. Hit me again, will you? I wouldn’t have thought you’d even carry Asmodeus, and here you are using it in $5 cocktails.

Virgil [beginning to make another round]: Things are a little different once you get clear of the city, hm?

Dante: Damn straight. I go tearing over the bridge like a bat out of hell – just had to get out, you know? – and the next thing I know, the GPS goes on the fritz and I’m completely lost in this friggin’ forest…


  1. Rufus McCain says

    Splendid. Keep going.

    Onward and downward.

  2. Rufus McCain says

    This really ought to be set in the Pacific Northwest, though. Start out in Forks, WA (depressed logging country in the Olympic rainforest) and then work your way down the coast, eventually arriving in L.A.

  3. Rufus McCain says

    This has Coen bros. written all over it.

  4. mark thomas lickona says

    I think Rufus is right about the West Coast trajectory.

    Keep going!

  5. mark thomas lickona says

    BTW, JT is right about one thing: When it comes to dialogue, less is more. “GodDAMN, that is a good martini” is a great opening line. Let it sound by itself. Have a react from the bartender. Then go on, e.g., “Is this Asmodeus? Unbelievable!”

  6. geez you guys are harsh.

    He barely posts his first page and you all have it edited.

    Now that is what I call brotherly love. (does it come with punches, or shots of bourbon?)

  7. Quin Finnegan says

    Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
    esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
    che nel pensier rinova la paura!

    Good stuff. I like the Asmodeus thing … it may or may not be the Pacific Northwest (which makes me think of David Lynch), but I think that’s a vodka martini he’s drinking. With olive dregs. Or maybe that’s just me.

  8. Rufus McCain says

    He’s tough, angelmeg, he can take it. And, yes, it does come with shots of bourbon.

    BTW, I like the tie-in of this piece with, “You’re in the jungle, baby!” It occurs to me that could be the lead-in to a funk/metal musical version of the Inferno.

    The entire Commedia would make a great rock opera in fact.

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