Unring The Bell [COMPLETE]

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5 - America


A commercial airplane lands at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Shang departs wearing a polo shirt with a Pokémon meme print.

DeShawn HARPER (29) leans on a car trunk watching Shang. His grin breaks his cheeks. Shang spots him waving her down.

DESHAWN

Do you know why I picked you out of the crowd?

SHANG

No.

DeShawn grabs her luggage and puts it in the backseat.

DESHAWN

Look at the sun. That’s the last time I want to see that sun with a gorgeous lady outshining it.

SHANG

I think you’re very sweet.

Her smile fades.

SHANG

More than sweet. Honestly, DeShawn.

DESHAWN

You left me.

He shakes his head in disbelief.

DESHAWN

You choose to do that.

SHANG

You understand why.

DESHAWN

Yeah, but it didn’t make it any easier.

She drops her head for a moment.

SHANG

How could I? You will always be...

DESHAWN

What?

SHANG

The father of my children will have to meet high expectations.

DESHAWN

What? Family? Sha’, you broke my heart.

SHANG

It was a mistake.

DESHAWN

Why? Cause of our jobs? Our cultures? You know there are success stories. Lifetime’s worth.

SHANG

Yes. No.

DESHAWN

Look. We can dance over it. It’s good. You are unique and beautiful. I smile at every thought of you.

SHANG

That’s sweet.

DESHAWN

All you have to say?

SHANG

No. My family wants me to marry. To have children.

DESHAWN

What do you want?

SHANG

To honor them.

DESHAWN

You can. By accepting genuine love. Not from a contract. Nor from a stranger.

SHANG

My tiles create corridors that bind me.

DESHAWN

That’s why when we...

SHANG

Went to dinner?

DESHAWN

Had a relationship.

SHANG

I want to not live with regret.

DESHAWN

That what you think?

SHANG

Yes.

DESHAWN

Do you regret what we did?

SHANG

Never. It’s complicated.

DESHAWN

Tell me about it. I’m a stateside man who got feelings for an exotic woman.

SHANG

I understand that. I do.

(pause)

How did you find me?

DESHAWN

I never stopped looking out for you.

She smiles. Deeply touched.

DESHAWN

Speaking of which. You didn’t go through the channels. Clear to enlighten me?

SHANG

I need to discuss something with someone.

DESHAWN

Cryptic. are you okay with me treating you to a meal before your appointment?

SHANG

I really couldn’t.

DESHAWN

You need to eat. Come on, peach blossom. You need your strength.

SHANG

Okay. But that is all you will get to do with me.

She wears a hidden smile that can trap a man. Chase her, pursue her, and value her. But the chase will not be easy.

DESHAWN

Alright. I got you covered.

SHANG

You’re my escort?

DESHAWN

Think of this as a long-term date.

He winks.

The following morning,

DeShawn checks out both rooms. Shang awaits in the parking lot. The “Wonder Woman” shirt she wears makes Shang radiates badass with her jeans.

He completes the transaction.

DESHAWN

Ready to go?

SHANG

Be more patient.

She taps on her smartphone.

DESHAWN

What does this “mystery someone” look like? Stay at?

SHANG

Only got a glimpse. He wasn’t what we expected.

DESHAWN

How did you see this, and we didn’t in our own backyard?

SHANG

You’re looking for strange people everywhere outside the fence. Do you remember the red thread of fate?

DESHAWN

For marriage?

SHANG

It can be more than that.

They enter a car and sit for a while.

SHANG

What if the ones I am seeking are connected in ways we do not see?

DESHAWN

One of our agencies would have heard that by now. are you thinking there’s a threat coming?

SHANG

I don’t know. What if there is more like what I saw in Africa?

DESHAWN

You didn’t tell me what you did there.

She realizes she said more than she should have. Damn her familiarity and comfort around this man,

SHANG

I’m hungry.

DESHAWN

I know of a spot. The wait is excruciating, but I haven’t been here in ages, but one cannot forget perfectly seasoned jerk chicken, well-flavored steamed cabbage, fresh beef patties, delicious jerk shrimp....my mouth is watering. And Oh My God, the sauce! The homemade sauce literally makes you want to cry. Not because it’s spicy, but because it’s so good.

SHANG

If it’s Thai or Chinese, I’ll smack you.

He chuckles.

DESHAWN

Jamaican.

She puts away her phone.

SHANG

Then, I can eat.

She smiles.

DESHAWN

Good. Cause I can definitely feed you.

His fingers touch her fingers that lay on her thigh. She gazes at them, then glances at DeShawn. He seems absentminded of his touch. Shang lets their fingers remain together.

Later in the day, the two agents drive along the side streets. WE SEE: racial segregation clear.

SHANG

De’, may I ask you something sensitive?

DESHAWN

Of course.

SHANG

Would you have the stamina and resilience to love me if we were back in my home?

He peeks over at her.

DESHAWN

You mean, can I handle racial anxiety and stereotypes?

SHANG

I think so.

DESHAWN

Ignorance ain’t something new to humanity. Mistaken beliefs that fuel racism can be a cause, not an effect. I have had my fair share of being an outsider.

SHANG

But what if--

DESHAWN

Sha’, look. I love you. Always have since I heard you speak at the symposium. Your intelligence and perspective were beautiful to me. That’s why on our first date I was hooked.

He gazes at her.

DESHAWN

You shared your thoughts, then your body. Damn woman, what you got is what a man needs and wants. In a tiny package. Like dynamite blows up the mountain inside his soul. When you left, I zoned off that passage into my mountain. It’s been reserved for you and only you. But I ain’t a fool. I go at the pace you are comfortable with. What if you make that hard choice to go for a black man like me rather than someone your parents choose?

SHANG

Yeah. That.

DESHAWN

Shang. I am on a leave of absence from my job to be with you. I’m not absent from the realities of your life. Humans can be dumb. Violent. Sadistic. And fearful of what they don’t understand. Whether it’s holding to their own identity, money, or partners. Trust, even with melatonin count in our skin, takes effort and time. Blood, sweat, and tears to journey together forge us. If your parents like me or not, the only opinion that matters to me is yours, Shang. Not the world. Not our families. But I know for you how deep family goes. I won’t put that burden on you.

SHANG

That’s my choice.

DESHAWN

Yeah, it iLikeike Wonder Woman on your shall I'm saying is t, we can fight for hope and love.

SHANG

So your Wonder Woman?

He laughs.

DESHAWN

Nah. I’m more an amalgam of Daredevil and Captain America.

SHANG

Promise I get to see that?

She is flirtatious.

DESHAWN

For your eyes only.

SHANG

You’re the best lover I ever had. You left me sore, not in only my body, but my heart.

He wears a wide smile.

They drive through an area that has never recovered from the 1968 race riots. They enter a residential street of two-story buildings, strolling senior citizens, and an empty Chicago Transport Authority bus stop covered in graffiti.

YOUTH stand in clusters, speaking tales of bravado. Tales of regret in silent corners. Lost loves. Hard lives.

Shang notices an oddity.

SHANG

Where are all the gates?

DESHAWN

What do you mean?

SHANG

No fences. No traffic signs. It’s as if this part of the city has gone back to the 1800s.

DeShawn peers around.

DESHAWN

That is so weird.

Peaceful PEOPLE congregate and move about in complete security.

DESHAWN

And for this part of Chicago, folks wouldn’t normally be out and about.

The car pulls onto a side street.

DESHAWN

Do you know where this person is? A description?

SHANG

Oh, I think you’ll know who it is when you see them. White hair, silver eyes.

DESHAWN

We drove past several folks that match that.

SHANG

Not for a twenty-something-year-old.

His eyes widen.

SHANG

Look there.

She stares at MEN, speaking with someone unseen. The voices grow heated. The ground beneath their feet wavers as if sunbaked. A wanna-be thug takes note and yipes. The louder men depart in haste. Two men remain.

WE SEE Sheridan (20). His silver eyes miss nothing. Long white curls drape down his back. His muscular physique leaves no doubt he can hold his own in a fight.

DESHAWN

One guess.

Shang smirk.

Two men standby as the two agents approach Sheridan.

DESHAWN

Hi. My name is --

SHERIDAN

No need for names. I felt you coming for a while now. You’re the Jade man and she’s the Phoenix woman. Fire and stone. You came to see if I’m dangerous.

SHANG

Are you?

SHERIDAN

To some. Not to others.

One man steps to DeShawn’s side.

DESHAWN

Noticed no more fences in the area. Things get quiet?

SHERIDAN

You could say that. War and peace. But now, there’s an archangel that patrols these streets.

SHANG

You must be something special.

SHERIDAN

Sister Phoenix, I was born special. I didn’t know how much until my dad and I had a conversation a couple of years back.

SHANG

My name is Shang Wi. This is my partner, DeShawn Harper.

The man to DeShawn’s side barks a laugh.

DESHAWN

Something you wanna add?

The man nods a negative.

SHERIDAN

Change is hard for some folks. You two wanna drink. Chicago heat ain’t nothing to joke with.

SHANG

Yes. Please.

The group walks along a clean sidewalk.

SHERIDAN

You’re here cause you want to know who I am?

SHANG

That’s right.

SHERIDAN

I understand the FBI. Why you?

SHANG

Despite what the public and politicians distort what China is about, we are really for all people. I was told to investigate unique people.

SHERIDAN

To see if I’m a threat to China?

SHANG

To the world.

SHERIDAN

And you?

Sheridan motions to DeShawn.

SHERIDAN

What dog do you have in this fight?

DESHAWN

I’m with her.

SHERIDAN

Man, a blind man can see you have the feels for her. You scream out you want to crown her to be a queen. Or is it empress in China?

Shang blushes.

SHERIDAN

It matters cause folks here have been good for a while. But some movements take that peace.

SHANG

Why?

SHERIDAN

Flambeed persecution complex. The men you saw, they vibe of great displeasure that envelops them. They see the world in blocks rather than a plate of spaghetti.

SHANG

I don’t understand.

SHERIDAN

Folks don’t always want other tribes to do better, to be better. They want to burn them. Make them less than a human and treat them as property.

They enter a house that has seen some weather.


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