Mary

Based on:
The Passing of Mary of Egypt

EXT. SMOKEY CITYSCAPE – NIGHT
Cold moonlight illuminates black skyscrapers. Scattered
Gothic crucifixes top scattered roofs. WE PULL DOWN pass the
windows, some lit, others dark. At the street level, suited
men, hands shoved deep in pants pockets, toss cigarettes
into the street. Steam rises from dingy gutters.

SUPER: “Jordan”

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
Mary? Heh… Yeah. I knew Mary.

The theme from “Chinatown” swells.

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
It was about 344 or 421 BCE. Hard
to remember that far back. A
Tuesday I think. Yeah…

One of the cigarettes sits still smoking in the gutter. The
whine of a police siren wanes in the air.

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
Hard to believe, but I was on the
force once. Back in Palestine. I
was a kid then. Played it by the
books. Kept my nose clean. And you
know, it paid off. I was at the top
of my game. Better than most. The
best. Everything was going just
about–

HARD CUT TO:

INT. POLICE CHIEF’S OFFICE – DAY
A young, fresh ZOSIMUS sits as the POLICE CHIEF towers over
his desk, bringing his FIST down on it with a bang.

CHIEF
–perfect! You think you’re so
damned amazing. What, the rules
don’t apply to you? Is that it?
Huh!

ZOSIMUS
Chief, it’s not like that–

CHIEF
Everyday it’s something else with
you, Zosimus! Day in, day out.
Every goddamn day, and frankly I’m
at my end here.

ZOSIMUS
It’s not true, Chief! I’m out there
on the beat every night! I’m out
there til dawn. I know every inch
of this city. I do the procedures,
I know the rights, I–

CHIEF
(snorts)
What are you, a goddamn monk? Gimme
a break. You know what your problem
is, kid? You think you got nothing
left to learn. Well lemme tell you
somethin. You ain’t seen nothin.
You work this beat year after year
like I have, and Lord willing–
this city’ll surprise you. By God
she will. That’s why, kid, I’m
suspending you.

ZOSIMUS
What?!

CHIEF
–Indefinitely! And I don’t wanna
hear any argument outta you. We’re
done here.

Zosimus slowly stands, trying to keep his composure. He
turns, placing his fedora back on his head. He turns the
door handle, but before he leaves, he faces the Chief.

ZOSIMUS
Isn’t there anything I can do,
Chief? Anything at all?

CHIEF
(laughs)
It’d take a miracle, kid.

EXT/INT. ZOSIMUS’S PI OFFICE – NIGHT
The police sirens in the distance wail wildly. WE PULL
THROUGH a third story window of a dark brick building and
past the fire escape–

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
And that’s how I ended up in
Jordan. Ugly pit that it is. There
was a lot of ritual there I had to
work out. This place had a psalm or
two to tell, I can tell you that
much. Little did I know I’d already
passed the river Jordan years and
years before…

–to wind down a stark, prim hallway. At the end is a door
with a glass window, bearing thick, arching white letters:
“Abbot Zosimus” and below it: “Private Eye”.

The door swings open and we see a different Zosimus seated
at his desk. He wears a faded grey suit and a crumpled tie.
He grimaces as a cigarette hangs from the corner of his
mouth, his gaze distant, and his face scratched with
stubble.

Zosimus tosses his fedora onto his desk and pulls out a
bottle of scotch and pours himself a glass. He slammed it
back in one go. He pours himself another.

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
Yes, things weren’t as enlightened
as I woulda wished, all in all.
Times were stuff. Sin was at an
all-time high. I was a dead-end
mug, in a dead-end joint, with no
leads and nowhere to go but down.

Pause.

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
But that’s. When she walked in.

The office door swings open. Zosimus looks up from his desk.
His eyes go wide. The cigarettes drops from his mouth.
He sees a naked, atrophying old woman with wrinkling
leathery brown skin hunched in the doorway: MARY.

She appears to have trouble standing up completely straight
and her impossibly long greasy hair dangles nastily about
her thin, starving frame.

Mary leans on the door frame, one hand against it, one
sensually at her hip. She peels her lips back over her teeth
in a awkward attempt to make a coy, seductive smile.

Sexy saxophone music plays.

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
She was pure sex. A bombshell in
the flesh. Legs, face, smile. The
works. Though there was danger in
eyes… And her thighs…

Mary, broken-backed, sanders over Zosimus’s desk.

ZOSIMUS
(under breath)
Why, you handmaid of God…

MARY
(sultry)
Abbot Zosimus. Have pity on me. For
God’s sake… I beg you.

Mary sits on his desk, legs crossed, facing away from him.
Zosimus, not breaking his gaze from her, opens a silver
cigarette case and offers it to her. Mary carefully takes
one. He lights it.

ZOSIMUS
Well. What’s a saint like you doing
in a life like this?

Mary drags deeply and flutters her eyelashes, then coughs
aggressively. She starts to shiver and Zosimus takes off his
coat and drapes it over her shoulders. Mary pulls it tightly
around herself.

MARY
O Zosimus. Thank you.

ZOSIMUS
How… how do you know my name? I
don’t believe we’ve met, or that
I’d heard tell of you before.
Perhaps… it’s maybe just
possible… you’ve had some sorta.
Enlightenment of divine foreknowledge
of me? …eh? …baby?

He leads in romantically and dramatically.

MARY
It was on the door.

He stops abruptly.

ZOSIMUS
Oh. Right.

MARY
Why o Mr. Zosimus–

ZOSIMUS
Please. Call me Zossty.

MARY
Alright. Zossty. You might ask. Was
there so great a need for you to
see me, a sinful woman, or what do
you wish to have from me or to
learn?

ZOSIMUS
Dollface, with talk like that you
make me wanna prostrate. And I
could prostrate all night long.

MARY
(sighs)
You’re a good man, Zossty.

ZOSIMUS
(grins)
Ahem.

MARY
(giggles)
You really know how to make a girl
float on air.

ZOSIMUS
I could stare slack-jawed at cha fly
all day, toots. But why don’t ya
level with me down on Earth.

Pause.

MARY
Well. I know, sir. Zossty. I am a
sinful woman. I’ve been running a
long time. And I’m tired of runnin.
I’ll tell you everything.

Mary weeps. Zosimus produces a handkerchief and hands it to
her.

MARY
Thank you, Zossty. You are very
kind. But you see. It happened so
long ago. All the way off in Egypt,
where my family is from. In the
twelfth year of my age it shames me
now to recount how in the beginning
I first defiled my maidenhood and
how unceasingly and licentious I
lay enslaved to the vices of
desires for sin.

ZOSIMUS
Twelve? Holy molly. Hey, I believe
in gettin up early in the morning,
but jeez. Impatient much?

MARY
Have pity on me. For all of
seventeen years I roamed openly
through the crowd of the
population, lying in the fire of
promiscuity.

ZOSIMUS
Seventeen years? And it took you
*this* long to find me?

MARY
But I didn’t want to stay. I had
big dreams! I wanted to see the
world, Zossty! I just knew it would
be so big and wide and full of
wonderful people! But I had no
fare-money to go. So I used what I
could. I did what I… had to…

ZOSIMUS
Sounds like quite a trip for
everyone involved. Now forgive me,
sugar tits. I ain’t tryin to be
rude. But if you had no
“fare-money”. And were sleepin
around like you were, why not just
choke it up to the world’s oldest
profession and charge for what you
were doin. Just imagine the dough.

MARY
I desired that they might rush to
me the more numerously without
payment, my purpose being to
satisfy the more easily the
disgraceful desires of my sexual
depravity.

ZOSIMUS
Oh. I uh. Well. …damn.

MARY
I marvel how the sea endured and
put up with those wicked lusts of
mine. I who led so many souls into
the trap of perdition.

ZOSIMUS
I wouldn’t so hard on yourself. It
really doesn’t sound all that bad
to be honest.

MARY
And when I finally reached my
destination in Jerusalem, the
church doors! They refused to move
for me. And I was shut from their
entry.

ZOSIMUS
Also. Doesn’t really sound all that
bad.

MARY
I have been living a meager life
since. I roam the streets. Alone.
Leading me to cross the river
Jordan…

ZOSIMUS
(distantly)
The river Jordan…

MARY
I panhandle by the freeway. There I
received three pennies, with which
I bought myself three loaves. From
that time until this day, I have
kept apart, always fleeing from
people, since they may be the ones
trying to eat my brain if I let
them get too close. Just waiting
and hoping for my God, who delivers
from the danger of this world all
those who turn to him.

ZOSIMUS
How many years have you been living
on the streets, then?

MARY
It has been forty-seven years,
according to my reckonings.

ZOSIMUS
Really. Uh. Huh. And what could you
find for yourself to eat, or with
what things did you feed yourself
until now?

MARY
Uh. The *loaves.* I had like. Three
of them. Remember?

ZOSIMUS
Oh right. Yeah.

MARY
So for seventeen years, I–

ZOSIMUS
Or. forty-seven.

MARY
…what?

ZOSIMUS
Forty-seven years.

MARY
No, seventeen years. I’ve told you
already.

ZOSIMUS
But I thought you said–

MARY
–It’s all the same, Zossty? Don’t
you get that. Things are different
here. …past the Jordan river.

ZOSIMUS
(distantly)
The Jordan river…

Mary stands.

MARY
Yes, Zossty. And as precious as our
time has been together. I must go.
I’m sorry.

Mary turns and makes for the door.

ZOSIMUS
Wait! …I didn’t catch your name.

Mary looks over her shoulder with one eye.

MARY
(sultry)
I never gave it.

Mary exits, leaving Zosimus staring outwardly, as wide-eyed
and gaping-mouthed as when she walked in.

The Chinatown theme starts to swell.

We PULL AWAY through the window to the cityscape.

ZOSIMUS (V.O.)
I never did see her alive again.
But there were rumors. I tracked
down everything I could about her.
Every scrape of information I could
find in any back alley or dive bar or
jive babble. Some said she was just
crazy. Others said she was divine.
Still others said a lioness came
and dug her a grave by padding
around in the sand for a while. But
it doesn’t really matter. Sarge was
right. The world’s just too big for
a little man like me. Forever
something beyond you. But I’ll
always remember her passing.
Mary… Yeah, I remember Mary.

EXT. CHINATOWN STREET – NIGHT
Zosimus stands looking whimsically and sad off into the
distance. A RANDOM NOIR DUDE walks over to him, placing a
hand on his shoulder, and walking Zosimus away.

RANDOM NOIR DUDE
Forget it, Zosimus. It’s
hagiography…

They stop walking.

ZOSIMUS
…who the hell are you?

Random Noir Dude shrugs. They walk off down street together,
passing a sign that reads “Jordan River ->” and disappear into the distance.

ROLL CREDITS

chinatown

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