What are the holidays without random gunfire and sex on a dining room table?
Snow falls on Christmas Eve for the first time in seven years and Joe Kelly thinks his moment
has finally come. It’s not just the weather; a few weeks earlier, he received the stunning word
that a certain movie star’s production company offered to option his first, forgotten novel. The
evidence of a dream has come true, in the form of a fat check, has just arrived.
Joe has managed to keep the amazing news secret from his wife Mariel and their two children,
but as night falls, he’s ready to spring the surprise, remake his standing as a hopeless
dreamer, revive his marriage, and change their lives forever. The final piece of his happy plan
is the purchase of a rare pendant, an antique called an Epiphany Star that has a special
meaning for Mariel but that he could never afford.
Meanwhile, across town, Nicole Weaver is praying that Christmas will arrive without any
trouble for her and her daughter Malikah from the crazed mother of Terry, the boyfriend
she met in rehab. At the same time, Franklin Callum, the reverend of a storefront church,
heads out on a mission to transport souls who have lost their way in the cold and dark to
Joe brings the Epiphany Star home to begin the celebration of his good luck and the holiday.
That luck changes in a raw shock when he gets there and finds Mariel in the lurid embrace of
another man. Devastated in what was going to be a moment of glory, he escapes the house and
sets out on a long night’s journey.
At his first stop, a lonely tavern, he encounters a woman he knew in high school. She invites
him back to her apartment. The heat rises and he is tempted to stay when an odd happenstance
changes his mind and he leaves her to venture on. At the house across town, a furious
argument ends with Terry’s mother casting Nicole and Janelle out into the frigid night.
Joe gets lost, travels down the wrong street, and is accosted by two muggers. It’s turning mean
when Reverend Callum appears to interrupt the crime and carry Joe back to his humble
church where he finds quiet sanctuary - until the phone rings, that is, and the tale takes
another turn. It’s Nicole calling, desperate for help. Joe drives the church van to collect them,
but the rescue is complicated when he gets into a scuffle with Terry, pouring his fury over his
wife’s betrayal on the sick wreck of a junkie.
He carries Danielle and Amber to a shelter, but when he sees what a bad, sad scene it is, insists
they leave with him. They arrive back at the church to find that the reverend is not pleased.
He warns Joe that he’s now responsible for mother and child.
After a bit of soul-searching, Joe decides to carry them – and the reverend – to his house for
Christmas morning. They’ve just begun this last leg of the night’s journey when violence
erupts, and Joe, Reverend Callum, Nicole, and Janelle find themselves bound together in a way
none of them ever imagined.
The novella and the screenplay under the title "Bethlehem" by LA Times Book Prize nominee
and Shamus Award winner David Fulmer.
Copyright © 2016
WGA Registration No. 1460786
|The Night Before
by David Fulmer