As the Fire Board Turns

A Treatment

So Ana and Juana turn around and amble back down the hall. (Dramatic music intensifies.) But instead of exiting, Ana turns and dashes up a flight of stairs to the public-information office. Ana's mother rushes after her. Lloyd chases them.

Ana gets what she came for. A clerk provides her with a copy of the videotape while Lloyd chills. Then the former cop demands that Ana sign a receipt. She refuses.

Now things become just a little crazy. Ana's mom starts to hyperventilate and grasps her chest. Lloyd grabs a telephone. Then for some strange reason Ana and Lloyd struggle over the receiver. "You bastard!" Ana screams at him. "If anything happens to my mother, I'll kill you!"

"CHIEF PAULISON"
Michael Marko
"CHIEF PAULISON"

A fire rescue unit soon arrives and the crew wheels Juana into the truck. It speeds off toward South Miami Hospital, siren blaring. (You've seen it a million times on ER, so I suggest cutting right to the hospital scene.) While Juana is in the emergency room, Ana calls Miami-Dade Police and reports that Lloyd has assaulted her mom. Three county cops soon arrive at the emergency room.

Now check out this classic reversal, dude. Ana, accompanied by her brother and grandmother, appears relieved when the cops arrive. She reports that Lloyd grabbed Juana by an arm and shook her, causing her to collapse. After she finishes her account, the officers read Ana her Miranda rights and, WHAM! They clap on the cuffs and shove her into the back of a squad car. Her grandmother and brother stare in disbelief as the cruiser speeds off. At MDPD's Kendall station Ana is booked for battery on a law-enforcement officer, a crime that could land her in the slammer for five years. "What officer did I hit?" Ana demands. You see, Roberto-Jack, Lloyd called the boys in blue before Ana. He reported that the five-feet two-inch-tall, 145-pound Ana had assaulted him. We leave Ana at the station answering questions. It is now night. I'd recommend a shot of the building from across the street. (Commercial break, amigo. May the revenue roll in!)

When we return from the Grape-Nuts or Chevrolet interlude it is daytime and Marcia is putting her $57,713 annual salary to good use. She is assembling a 40-page document to bolster her recommendation for Ana's termination. Marcia accuses her charge of "lateness, absenteeism, being argumentative," and engaging in other "inappropriate behavior." (We could embellish on this potentially dull office action. This is, in part, why I suggested the dazzlingly beautiful Salma for the Marcia role. Salma could just banter on the phone and people would watch raptly. Then again, as long as we're paying Salma rates, why not throw in a phone-sex scene?)

Next Marcia (i.e., Salma), begins a little detective work of her own. She calls her husband JORGE MORIN, the Miami police sergeant, and requests a favor: Hop on the cop-shop computer and bring up Ana's driver's license record. Marcia wants to prove that Ana filed a false license number on her county job application. Jorge wisely refuses. (Now you could go a couple of ways with the dialogue here. "I can't run a background check on one of your colleagues, baby," Jorge could say, sweetly. "You can't use public resources for a private vendetta." Or try this on for size: "Oh my God, you idiot! You can't use public resources for some private vendetta!")

Marcia presses on with her investigation, hoping to discover other ways Ana might have lied on her job application.

CUT TO: Eddy's wife ORCHID BALLESTER at home. She is opening a manila folder with no return address. She pulls out the contents: the missing photographs of her husband. This, old chap, is what Hitchcock would call a mulligan, a mysterious little event. Who sent the photos? Marcia? Ana? A third person? And that, I dare say, would be a good place to leave the masses en la lurch and end episode I.

AS THE FIRE BOARD TURNS,
Episode II

Now we shift into a kind of L.A. Law mode. People are going to start suing up the wazoo.

Ana is at home tending to Juana, who was released from the hospital on a regimen of Xanax and heart medicine after fainting during the videotape incident. Ana, who also has a heart condition, is on the phone with her lawyer DONNA BALLMAN, recapping her stay in police custody.

"One of the officers kept coming in and saying, 'You're going to be rich. You're going to be rich.' I have no idea what he meant," Ana recounts. Then she explains that the battery charges against her were dropped.

CUT TO: the lawyer's office. Donna hangs up and starts typing a letter to the fire board. The camera gives a classic closeup of the typewriter making the oh-so-hackneyed clack-clack-clack sound. Viewers follow along as Donna refutes Marcia's charges against her client. The lawyer accuses Marcia of falsifying Ana's time sheets.

CUT TO: the fire board office. It is another glorious Thursday. Marcia and her underlings are preparing for another semimonthly meeting. Ana is still on administrative leave. The commissioners are God knows where. ("Why the heck should I be there? They won't even reimburse me for mileage!" one could say on the phone from his law office.)

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