Interior, Building Department, Day. Jason and Farid place the model against the wall. Cary grabs a number. He gets 644. He looks up at the television screen. They’re at 573. He sighs.
Interior, Building Department, Later. The number on the screen is 642. Cary’s knee bounces nervously, his eyes glued to the screen. Jason and Farid check out the women walking the floor.
FARID: Hi. My name is Farid. Have you met my pet hamster?
JASON: I want to schmeckel you.
Cary checks the screen: 4:25 p.m. A customer leaves the counter. Plan checker,
ERNESTO, 45, calls out.
ERNESTO, 45, calls out.
ERNESTO: 643. 643? Last call, 643.
Cary looks around. No one is answering. He starts to get up. Suddenly a striking bleached-blonde, PETRA CRUZ, mid-30s, swoops in, a milk crate filled with drawings trailing behind her.
PETRA: Ernie, hi. (slipping into the chair) I know it’s not my turn, I just have a quick little thing.
ERNESTO: Petra, it’s always your turn.
CARY: (turning to his colleagues) Did you just see that?
JASON: A vanilla milkshake.
FARID: Blonde, smooth, and delicious.
CARY: Hey. (approaching the counter, livid) It was my turn.
ERNESTO: Are you 643?
CARY: 644, but she doesn’t even have a number.
ERNESTO: Doesn’t matter. It’s not your turn.
CARY: (frustrated, huffing before sitting back down) Who does she think she is?
JASON: A sweet honey muffin, that’s who.
FARID: A nibble is all I ask.
Petra stands up, leaves, glancing at Cary, smiling.
PETRA: You’re up. (she looks back to the counter) Thanks Ernesto.
ERNESTO: Always a pleasure.
Cary drags his drawings as Jason and Farid set the model on the counter.
ERNESTO: Did I call your number?
CARY: No, but we’re next.
ERNESTO: We’re closed.
CARY: But it’s 4:29. We still have one minute.
ERNESTO: Not according to my watch.
CARY: But the screen...
ERNESTO: (shrugging) Sorry. (he stands)
CARY: Oh no. No way. We have to submit this project today or we’re totally fucked.
ERNESTO: What can I say? You should have made an appointment or come in earlier.
CARY: I came in two hours ago. Maybe if you guys worked a little harder…
Ernesto smiles at the insult, walks toward his office behind the counter.
CARY: Who’s your supervisor? (almost vibrating with frustration) Look. I know the damned Mayor! Maybe I’ll just give him a call.
ERNESTO: (amused, turns back to Cary) That’s a great idea. Hey, maybe you can even submit your project to him. (snickering as he disappears into his office) Cary stands open mouthed as his door CLICKS shut. Petra Cruz suddenly appears as Cary’s side.
PETRA: It’s not who you know, it’s who you get.
CARY: What’s that supposed to mean?
PETRA: Watch and learn. (She passes behind the counter and goes to Ernesto’s office, tapping gently) Ernesto?
The door opens and Ernesto’s head appears.
ERNESTO: What is it, my dear?
PETRA: There is just one more thing...
The door swings open. Petra casts a knowing smile to Cary before disappearing inside.
Exterior, The Edison, Sunset. A retro bar at the base of a downtown LA office building.
Interior, The Edison, Continuous. Camera pans along the bar stopping at Jason and Farid, who talk up Candace, a twenty-something hipster.
FARID: Have you ever slept with a guy who giggles during sex?
CANDACE: (furrowing her brow) Can’t say that I have.
JASON: Would you like to?
Candace smirks, then turns away. Jason and Farid share a shrug, then look around. Cary and Petra are sitting at a booth.
CARY: I think there should be a law that developers who want to demolish a building have to prove to a jury of their peers that what they’re putting up is better than what they’re tearing down.
PETRA: Yeah. (sipping her Negroni) Good luck with that one.
CARY: Yeah, maybe not. (he drops his eyes sheepishly, then looks up) Seriously though. How’d you do it?
PETRA: Do what?
CARY: At the building department.
PETRA: I’m an expediter. It’s what I do.
CARY: I’ve always wondered.
PETRA: What was that you submitted?
CARY: Just this project. For a competition. They want to fix up the area around the old plaza next to Olvera street. (in his best Spanish accent) La Placita.
PETRA: That explains the huge model. Think you have a chance?
CARY: Doubtful. Our submission is pretty out there.
PETRA: This is LA. Everything is out there.
CARY: It’s based on this idea. Urban succession. You know, that a city evolves kind of like a forest, with particular building species dominating during economic expansions. (off her glazed look) You know, so in time a city becomes an archive of successive economies? (off her silence) Never mind.
PETRA: Building species. I like that.
CARY: I know. Pretty crazy. But it kind of makes the city more legible.
Petra, nodding, returns to her drink, taking a long, slow sip. She smiles flatly.
PETRA: (pausing) Nothing.
CARY: No, really. What?
PETRA: It’s just… It’s a cute theory.
CARY: Cute? Cute?
PETRA: Cute isn’t the right word. Underdeveloped, maybe? I mean, the city as an archive of successive economies? It just doesn’t work for every city. Paris, for instance.
CARY: Paris is a great example of urban successionism.
PETRA: Really? Didn’t they outlaw wooden structures within the city at some point? I mean, how many building species were lost when that happened?
CARY: (sighing) Whatever. It works for LA, that’s all I know. (as he takes a long drink of his beer, Petra watches him, thinking)
PETRA: I don’t know. Maybe it just needs some elaboration. For instance, is there a specific mechanism that induces speciation?
Cary perks up, leaning forward.