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What Harm in a Kiss
by Robert Johnson
03/02/11
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FADE IN:

EXT. ABORTION CLINIC - DAY
ELIJAH, a 19 year old college student, decked out in jeans, a baseball cap, and a Jesus T-shirt, is standing in front of a Planned Parenthood building handing out pamphlets to passersby. He is near a group of others who are praying and some who are holding up signs that read "Need Help, call 555-HELP."

The group is challenged by a pro-choice group across the street that is chanting various slogans and epithets.

Reaction is mixed from cars driving by as some are honking their support and others are hurling insults.

As Elijah is handing out material, he sees MARY, an attractive, college-aged woman coming out of the facility with her head down. He stops and takes notice.

She is moving quickly as if trying to go unnoticed.

Elijah continues to watch Mary as she walks down the driveway. He then walks the short distance to catch up to her.

ELIJAH
Hi!

Mary looks at his T-shirt and gets a disgusted look on her face.

MARY
What do you want?

ELIJAH
I'm sorry! I saw you going in there a little while ago and I thought maybe you'd like someone to pray for you.

MARY
No thanks!

Mary speeds up her walk, Elijah follows after her.

ELIJAH
Can I at least show you something?

MARY
No, get lost you jerk.

Elijah stops dead in his tracks, closes his eyes and appears to whisper a short prayer.

ELIJAH
Please don't do it!

Mary stops dead in her tracks at her car and grimaces for a moment, but does not turn to face Elijah although it's clear she heard his plea. She sighs and drops her head for a moment and then gets into her car.

INT. CAR - DAY
Once seated in her car, Mary takes a deep breath, exhales slowly, and then sees Elijah still out on the street watching her. This infuriates her and she gets back out.

EXT. STREET - DAY
Mary sternly walks back over to Elijah. Elijah initially smiles in a warm and friendly manner, but as Mary continues to descend upon him, the smile quickly wilts away.

Mary gets in Elijah's face.

MARY
What do you care? You don't know me! What possible difference does it make to you or anyone else here what I do.

Elijah is speechless for a moment as Mary venomously stares him down, but Elijah does not shy away.

ELIJAH
I'm sorry, I know how hard this must be.

This infuriates Mary!

MARY
No you don't! How can you say that?

ELIJAH
I...!

MARY
You're not even a woman. Who are you to judge me?

Mary attempts to finish Elijah off with a scathing stare, but Elijah silently weathers the verbal barrage for a moment, all the while maintaining eye contact.

Then he very calmly speaks.

ELIJAH
I'm not judging you ma'am. I just asked if I could pray for you. And how do you know I'm a jerk?

Mary's scornful stare softens.

ELIJAH (CONT'D)
So can I?

MARY
Can you what?

ELIJAH
Pray for you?

This time Mary's expression turns to a look of confusion.

MARY
No thanks. I'm not interested in prayers.

Deflated, Mary turns and quietly walks away as Elijah watches her get into her car and drive off.

EXT. COLLEGE CAMPUS - DAY
Elijah is crossing the courtyard of a large building on the campus of State University. He has a full book bag slung over his shoulder and a campus map in his hand.

He glances briefly at the map and puts it in his pocket as he hastily makes it up the steps of the large building.

INT. OFFICE - DAY
Elijah enters the college counselor's office and steps up to the receptionist desk, where he is greeted by PHYLLIS, the receptionist.

PHYLLIS
Good morning, do you have an appointment?

ELIJAH
Yes, Elijah Hayes. 11:30.

Phyllis glances at her appointment book and makes a check by Elijah's name.

PHYLLIS
Yes! If you would like to have a seat, Mr. Morgan, will be with you in a moment.

Elijah leans on the desk counter and slings the book bag from his shoulder to look for something. Behind him is a set of glass-walled offices. One of the offices is empty, but the other is occupied by Mary, the girl who told him off at the clinic.

Mary is already seated and speaking to a counselor, MR. HUMPHREY. The door is closed, but both Mary and Mr. Humphrey are visible through the glass.

Elijah finds the paper he is looking for and, while looking at it, moves toward a chair that faces the office Mary is in. As he turns to sit down, his counselor, MR. MORGAN, enters the office.

MR. MORGAN
Is this my 11:30, Phyllis?

PHYLLIS
Yes, Sir!

Mr. Morgan stops in front of Elijah, blocking his view of Mary and, introduces himself. Elijah stands up and shakes his hand.

MR. MORGAN
Hello, I'm Glen Morgan. Sorry, I'm running a little late, c'mon in.

Elijah follows him into the office next to the one Mary is in and Mr. Morgan shows him a seat, which is backed up to the wall where Mary is sitting. When Elijah sits down, he and Mary are literally back to back separated by the wall.

Mr. Morgan closes the glass door.

INT. MR. MORGAN'S OFFICE - DAY
Inside the office there is little room for anything else, but the two chairs that Elijah and the counselor sit in and the desk which divides them.

Mr. Morgan looks down at his schedule to recheck who he is talking to.

MR. MORGAN
So Elijah, what can I help you with today?

INT. MR. HUMPHREY'S OFFICE - DAY
The office where Mary and her counselor sit is practically identical to the one Elijah is sitting in, but the mirror opposite. Mary seems already well into her appointment.

MR. HUMPHREY
Now, I know you can do this Mary, but twenty credits is an awful big load.

MARY
I know, but I really want to graduate after next fall semester, and this is the only way.

MR. HUMPHREY
You know, three of these credits have to be an additional science elective too, don't you?

BACK TO MR. MORGAN'S OFFICE

MR. MORGAN
So, you need to add a class.

ELIJAH
Yes sir, I have to maintain at least 12 credits to keep up my scholarship.

Mr. Morgan punches several keys on his computer, pauses for a moment looking closer, then punches a few more keys.

MR. MORGAN
It looks like you already have 12 credits.

ELIJAH
I know sir, but my scholarship is very specific that at least three of them have to be an upper level science class and I have to maintain at least a 3.0 in the class. I just misunderstood the details when I registered earlier.

BACK TO MR. HUMPHREY'S OFFICE

Mary is leaning over the desk looking at the computer with Mr. Humphrey.

MARY
What about Gunther's Anthropology class.

MR. HUMPHREY
I'm sorry Mary, I'm afraid all that's left is Mr. Tinsley's History of the Earth class.

Mary collapses back into her chair, in dramatic distress.

MARY
Oh, not Dr. Tinsley.

BACK TO MR. MORGAN'S OFFICE

Elijah is sitting forward in his seat looking through a catalog. Mr. Morgan is scanning his computer screen and typing.

MR. MORGAN
It looks like the only class still
open is Dr. Tinsley's History of the Earth. There are two seats le... Oh, someone else just took the other one. There's one seat left. Going once, going....

ELIJAH
Sign me up!

INT. LECTURE HALL - DAY
Elijah enters at the top of the large lecture auditorium near a couple of rows of empty seats. The instructor, DR. TINSLEY, a robust bearded man with an air of scholarly ego, has already begun his introduction.

Elijah casually makes his way down the steps toward the front row. He sits down and drops his bag and starts rustling through itto get a pen and a notebook.

Dr. Tinsley stops and waits until Elijah is prepared and looks up. On the board behind Dr. Tinsley is written "History of the Earth."

DR. TINSLEY
As I was saying, in this class we will learn about evolution from the Big Bang to the arrival of man. We will discuss how the theories of Darwinian evolution have evolved themselves and what modern scholars believe our future holds. Are there any questions?

In the sea of half-sleeping students, Elijah's hand goes up. Dr. Tinsley nods to him.

ELIJAH
Will we be discussing any theories of intelligent design, or Creation?

DR. TINSLEY
Now why would we do that?

ELIJAH
The course description said we were going to learn about the history of evolution and emerging theories.

DR. TINSLEY
Yes..., And....?

ELIJAH
Well, isn't it true that many scientists now believe that man must have been created because of the complexity of our bodies and other flaws in the evolutionary model?

DR. TINSLEY
Many scientists once believed the world was flat, too, but to answer your original question, no, we will not be discussing any of those opinions.

Dr. Tinsley very casually sighs, looks down, organizes his notes and walks toward the door and flicks a switch on the wall. A screen of white starts to come down from the ceiling and Dr. Tinsley walks back to the podium.

ELIJAH
But Dr. Tinsley, what about…?

Dr. Tinsley cuts him off.

DR. TINSLEY
What's your name young man?

ELIJAH
Elijah Hayes, Sir.

DR. TINSLEY
Elijah, are you a Christian?

ELIJAH
(proudly)
Yes sir, I am.

DR. TINSLEY
Well, to put it another way, we will not be discussing matters of faith, only science.

Elijah looks around the auditorium and sees that all eyes are now wide and alert and focused on him.

DR. TINSLEY (CONT'D)
Now then, where were we?

Elijah's hand goes back up. Dr. Tinsley stops again and looks at Elijah with raised eyebrows.

DR. TINSLEY
Yes, Mr. Hayes.

ELIJAH
Dr. Tinsley sir, did you actually see this Big Bang which supposedly created the universe.

DR. TINSLEY
Of course not!

ELIJAH
So in a way, you have faith that it occurred, and…

He is abruptly cut off by the professor.
DR. TINSLEY

Mr. Hayes! If you wish to engage in a debate, may I suggest law school. If you wish to learn better ways to inflict your religion on others, perhaps Bible college.., but if you wish to study science, please be quiet and let me get on with the topic.

Elijah shakes his head in understanding and sits back in his chair.

INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Outside the auditorium, Elijah is leaving class when he is stopped by two grungy-dressed students. These guys are straight out of the movie, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." In fact, their names are BILL & TED.

TED
Dude! You are out of control!

BILL
Yeah, wow! Do you really believe that stuff?

Amused by the comical pair, Elijah swings his backpack off his shoulder and starts to unzip it.

ELIJAH
Yee-up! God, creation, six days, the whole nine yards.

Elijah pulls out a book from his bag and hands it toward Ted, but Ted throws his hands back as if he were rejecting a hot plate.

TED
Whoa, slow down, Faith Ranger, I gotta digest.

Elijah shrugs his shoulders and puts the book back in his bag. Bill and Ted do an about face and start to leave. They are amused with themselves.

BILL
(to Ted)
Faith Ranger, Haaa! Where'd you get that? Too funny, my man.

Bill & Ted smack hands in a brisk high five as they laughingly leave the scene, impressed by their own humor.

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY
Elijah is leaving the building and heading toward a parking lot. Mary, coming up behind him calls his name.

MARY (O.C.)
Elijah!

Elijah doesn't hear at first.

MARY (CONT'D)
Elijah Hayes!

Elijah turns to face Mary. She's dressed in jeans and a tightly fitting t-shirt that's just short enough at the bottom to prominently display her belly-button ring. He doesn't recognize her at first.

ELIJAH
(surprised)
Hi!.. I'm sorry you look familiar, but..

MARY
It's okay. I was really rude to you when we met. I'm Mary.

Elijah looks at her as if the light of recognition just came on and he points to her.

ELIJAH
Oh! I remember you. You're the
girl from the clinic.

MARY
Yeah, sorry I blew up on you. No hard feelings I hope? I was just there getting some information for a friend and you caught me a little off guard.

Mary extends her hand to Elijah. Elijah slowly lifts his hand to shake hers in agreement.

ELIJAH
It's okay. I can imagine how difficult a decision it must be for your friend. If she ever needs to talk about it, I know some people.

MARY
Thanks, but it was a false alarm.

ELIJAH
Wow, praise God! That's good news.

They stand there looking at each other for a couple of moments of awkward silence. They smile.

ELIJAH (CONT'D)
Hey, How'd you know my name?

Mary thumbs back over her shoulder toward a building.

MARY
We were just in class together.
I was in one of the top rows.

ELIJAH
Oh! You saw that thing with the
Prof., huh.

Elijah humbly looks down.

MARY
Don't worry, I had him before. He just loves to give students a hard time.

Elijah smiles.

MARY (CONT'D)
Hey, if you'd keep our first meeting to yourself I'd appreciate it.

Elijah looks at her a little caught off guard by her forwardness.

ELIJAH
Sure. Hey, I gotta run, maybe I'll see you around.

Elijah smiles awkwardly and quickly walks off.

MARY
Yeah, sure.

Mary gets a smile on her face as she watches him walk off.

EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY
Elijah gets to the parking lot just about the same time as Dr. Tinsley. They are parked next to one another. Dr. Tinsley is in the last spot of Instructor parking and Elijah is in the first spot of student parking.

The bumper on Elijah's truck has a Jesus fish on it and the Bumper of Dr. Tinsley's Jeep is adorned with a Jesus fish with legs and the words "Darwin" written in the middle.

They exchange uncomfortable nods and both get in their vehicles at the same time.

INT. ELIJAH'S TRUCK - DAY
Elijah drops his book bag on the floor and sighs. He puts the keys in the ignition and sets back for a moment.

He picks up an open letter laying next to him. On the envelop the sender address reads, Republic of Congo. He looks at it.

ELIJAH (O.C.)
(quietly)
Dad said you wanted to talk to me?

INT. AFRICAN VILLAGE HUT - NIGHT
Elijah's mom, REBECCA HAYES is applying a cast to the arm of a semi-conscious African woman who is lying on a woven mat bed. Elijah is helping her.

REBECCA HAYES
Your father told me you want to go to a secular college.

ELIJAH
Yes, mom.

REBECCA HAYES
What about Bible College? I thought you were…

Elijah cuts her off.

ELIJAH
Mom!

EXT. AFRICAN VILLAGE HUT - NIGHT
Rebecca Hayes is cleaning her hands by a Jeep and packing her equipment. She's a little irritated at first.

REBECCA HAYES
One year! You said you'd do your first year at K-Christian.

ELIJAH
Mom, why did you and dad come to Africa?

Rebecca Hayes looks at her son with a look like she knows where he's going with this question.

ELIJAH (CONT'D)
What about Egypt, and Israel?

Rebecca Hayes stops packing.

REBECCA HAYES
Because we're missionaries.

ELIJAH
And what am I mom?

Rebecca Hayes continues to work. Elijah watches silently for a few moments.

ELIJAH (CONT'D)
Mom, I've been in Bible college half of my life. You and dad are walking Bible encyclopedias. How is me going to a secular college any different than you and dad coming here?

REBECCA HAYES
I know Elijah, but there are things in this world you might not be prepared for.

Elijah looks at her with bewilderment.

ELIJAH
Like what mom? Like being abandoned as a child and having a gun stuck in your face?

REBECCA HAYES
Elijah!

ELIJAH
Or how about hiding behind an overturned bus as terrorists shoot up the street?

Elijah starts to laugh and his mom struggles to hold it in. Rebecca Hayes nods and plays along.

REBECCA HAYES
Landing on one wheel on a gravel runway with a pilot suffering through a fit of malaria?

They laugh together and she puts her free hand on Elijah's arm and looks at him the way concerned moms do.

REBECCA HAYES (CONT'D)
(getting serious again)
I know you've been through a lot, but it's just that there are different kinds of dangers back in America. Girls and… well, girls.

ELIJAH
Mom, they're at Bible college, too.
They look silently at one another for awhile.

To be continued....

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