EARL approaches the Emporium and lurches into a MAN coming toward him. They collide and EARL spins around and faces the way he'd been going.
He raises his cane and barks at his unseen assailant who stops and looks on wonderingly as EARL threatens empty space.
Hey! Why don't you look where you're
going, buddy? Why, for two cents I'd
give you a shot…!
Muttering, EARL turns and starts off the way he'd come and the MAN shakes his head, takes him by the arm and turns him around.
You were going the other way, pal.
Huh? Oh, yeah. Thanks.
He flexes his shoulders as if he'd just routed a would-be attacker and heads for the store. As he enters BETH looks up from the table where she's opening a key of Vancouver Haze.
Oh, it's you. I thought you were a
Nope. If I was a customer I'd have
to buy something.
If Grandpa depended on you as a
customer he'd be living on his Social
Impossible. Nobody can do that.
I know. I tried.
Gramps not in yet?
He has a doctor's appointment.
Just routine, right?
I think so. He said something about
a prostate exam.
(sits at table)
How old is Gramps?
I don't know. Close to eighty?
He's lucky he's still got a prostate. A
lot of guys that age had it taken out and
now they can't get it up anymore.
If a man's eighty years old he shouldn't
care if he can't get it up.
That's easy for you to say.
Yeah, it is, isn't it?
Sounds like age discrimination to me.
The door opens and two TOURISTS wander in. They're seniors and naïve.
See, Molly? Just like a regular store.
Well, it is, isn't it? I expected to see
a lot of derelicts with hollow stares and bad b breath.
I think she's looking for you, Earl.
Who says I've got bad breath?
The regulars don't show up till after lunch,
Well, we're sorry we missed 'em.
Anyway, welcome to Grandpa Ganja's Emporium,
L.A.'s version of Lourdes. We've got medicine t that's as old as antiquity and as new as yesterday.
Hear that, Molly? Maybe I can stop taking
What? You didn't tell me you had a bad
heart! What will I do with an old fool
who has a bad heart?
We just came from Vegas. We got married
Oh, congratulations! This calls for a
c celebration! Have a cookie on the house.
(offers plate to Molly,
then pulls back)
Oh, I almost forgot. You need a doctor's
letter to get marijuana, you know.
BOB and MOLLY exchange looks and shrug.
We don't have letters…
Uh, well, uh, may I ask how old you are?
Bob's 79 and I'm 85.
What!? You said you were 76! Why would I w want an old bat almost 100 years old?
Because I'm good in bed.
Yeah, well, there is that.
She's got a point, Bob.
Hey, you two are made for each
other! Anybody can see that!
I can't see it.
Look, if you're a senior citizen
there's got to be something wrong with
you. So, that means you qualify for medical m m marijuana. Here. Have a cookie.
She thrusts the plate at them and both take cookies. EARL
cocks an ear as he follows the plate's progress.
You know, Beth, I think a cookie
about now would raise my spirits and
give me a new lease on life but…
(he feels pockets)
I seem to have left my wallet…
Say, let me buy you a cookie, sir!
Ah, you're too kind. I'll pay you back the very next time I see you.
That's the truth.
You are kind, sir, and Earl's as good as his word, but his credit is good with Grandpa.
(hands EARL a cookie)
When does it start working?
Just as soon as I get you some hot
coffee. Here, have a seat.
As BETH seats BOB and MOLLY several more people arrive and she and EARL hustle to wait on them. All look robust and brimming over with good health. PETE and SID, bodybuilders on their way to Venice Beach, step up to the counter.
Well, Pete and Sid. Haven't seen
you guys in two, three weeks.
We were in Vegas.
For the Mr. USA contest.
I signed up for that myself but they
rejected me on racial grounds.
How did they know you're black?
I sent 'em my picture.
Everybody stops and looks at him.
I think you're right, the picture
kept you out but it wasn't because
All mutter agreement.
"That's gotta be it." "Yeah, that explains it." "No wonder."
Oh, yeah? Just wait'll I tell Al
Sharpton about this.
(to Pete & SID)
So, how have you been?
Good, I'm good, except for my back,
Of course. And how's your neck, Pete?
Okay, except for the constant pain, of
Of course. What can I get you? We've got
a special on Kentucky Blue. Only 10 bucks
Any Panama Red?
Not a gram. It goes out as fast as we
get it in. In fact, we just had a
delivery yesterday and…
(EARL starts out)
Do we have any extra Panama Red?
That depends on what you mean by extra.
You put some aside, didn't you?
That depends on what…
Earl, go get it. Anybody can see these
poor guys have chronic pain…
(both rub neck & back
…and they need their medicine.
Well, what about me? Panama Red helps
me see better. I smoke that stuff and
I can see the world as it really is.
Why would you want to do that?
Yeah, I didn't know you liked horror
What horror stuff? What are you smoking?
The world's not a horror picture; it's a
g goddamn comedy. Politicians are clowns when
they're not busy stealing things. Our
generals are idiots, our admirals can't s swim, the last veep was as crooked as a dog's hind l l eg, Gore was robbed, the Iraq
war was a lie and so is the Afghan war…
(looking at her)
Yes, it is. You're…different somehow.
Your eyes are different colors.
Contact lenses. I've got another pair
just like these at home.
There they go.
Two more satisfied customers.
Have you got any chips?
Yeah, chips would be good.
Sorry. The bikers next door ran out
and they stole ours.
How do you know it was the bikers?
Easy. They were still partying when I
They don't have any chips. The bikers
Wait! I near sirens! It's the police!
You'll never take me alive, copper!
Relax, they're not coming here.
(goes to window,
Jesus, there are five police cars out
(hurries to window)
Let me see!
Everybody peers out at flashing lights, cop cars and cops with guns drawn, crowds in the background. GRANDPA slips in and tries to close the door but can't because somebody's jammed in behind him.
Hey, what the…?
(points at door)
Look out! He's got a gun!
No fool, GG jumps back and a man tumbles into the room and kicks the door shut behind him. He rolls to a sitting position and points the gun in a sweeping manner to assure everyone that he has one.
(nodding at MOLLY)
Uh, if you're going to shoot somebody
you should start with the oldest one
because she's lived the longest.
Well, it just seems fair…
Nobody's going to shoot anybody.
(to the gunman)
You. What the hell's going on? Are
those cops after you?
JUAN scrambles to his feet and half-crouches as he goes to the window and peers out. He is twenty-six, slim and neat in clean jeans and khaki shirt, and scared.
Man, what'd you do? Shoot the goddamn
He looks like a terrorist to me.
(gazing about in wonder)
Wow, this stuff is amazing! It's
like they're making a movie with me in
the middle of it!
Listen! I'm innocent! I didn't do
What's with the gun, then?
(looks at gun)
It's not a real gun. It's my kid's.
(he throws it down,
So, why are half the cops in LA after
It's not my fault. Look, I got two kids
two and four. I'm a citizen and my kids
were born here but my wife isn't a citizen and they w want to deport her!
A bullhorn voice interrupts.
We are the police. We have you surrounded.
Come out with your hands up or we'll shoot!
I think he means you, man.
Hey, don't I get to make a phone
call before they shoot me?
Not according to the Patriot Act.
What's your name?
Juan Lopez. I'm a substitute teacher
and I'm a junior in law school.
This is your last warning! Come out or
That's our last warning!
I'm almost sure they're bluffing.
Earl, go out there and shake your
fist at them and call their bluff.
Do what, Gramps? I told you before and
I was right. Put Vaseline on your hair and
your mind will slip. Why don't I put a target on m my chest just to taunt 'em a little extra?
Say, that's not a bad…
Is everybody going nuts, for god's sake?
What are we going to do about the SWAT
Teams out there? How about you, Juan?
I say you should fight for your family,
Juan. Stand your ground. Look 'em right in the eye a and tell 'em to go to hell.
(white handkerchief out
and starts for door)
And I think all that should start right
after I'm gone.
Wait! You haven't heard my plan.
He has a plan?
I knew it!
I'll bet we're in it.
Look, this is a marijuana dispensary,
right? So, pot's called the sacred herb
It says so right in the Bible.
So, you keep sacred things here and that
makes this like a church, a holy place.
Isn't this a movie set?
Wait a minute. What did you do to make
the cops want to shoot you?
Nothing. I want down to the Immigration
office to see about getting an extension
and the guy told me to get out or he'd
have me arrested. That's when the gun
fell out of my belt.
You dropped your gun?
Yeah, it just fell out and the guy went
loco. He started yelling for security and
saying I had a gun and I ran. The cops
stopped me five blocks from here and I
took off. And that's when I made my plan.
This is the police! This is our final
warning! Come out with your hands up or w we'll open fire with tear gas! We mean it
What's your plan? Should we rush 'em?
The cops are bringing up a battering
ram. Looks like they're going to do
And your plan is?
Sanctuary! I'm claiming legal sanctuary
in Grandpa Ganja's Emporium and nobody can
arrest me as long as I'm in this holy
I'm not sure the cops will buy that.
JUAN reaches out and takes EARL'S white handkerchief and goes to the door. He opens it and waves the signal and cops tentatively raise their heads while looking through rifle sights.
Who are you?
I'm Juan Lopez. Who are you?
I'm Captain Sam Browne… Never mind who I am. Are you surrendering?
I want a priest.
A priest. I'm claiming sanctuary in a holy
place and you're not allowed to enter
here to arrest me.
Sanctuary? Are you nuts? This isn't
the goddamn 15th century, for Christ's
sake. If you don't surrender when I
count to three I'll open fire. One!
Hey, man, I know my rights. If you don't
get a priest I'll report you to the
Vatican and you'll be excommunicated.
At this juncture a figure advances from the crowd and goes to the CAPTAIN. He's the police CHAPLIN and looks it.
Oh. Padre. Just in the nick of time.
Tell this bozo there's no such thing as sanctuary and we're coming in after him.
I can't do that, Sam. It's in the Old
and New Testaments and the Church made
it official in 509 AD. It's a sin in the C Catholic Church for armed men to enter a
holy place and most secular governments
still honor it in their laws.
But this isn't a church! It's a goddamn
pot store full of wacky dope smokers
who are all in cahoots with the Devil!
And that's why I need a priest!
I want justice and that makes me
one of the good guys, man.
(sticks head out)
And we demand more warnings! Nobody
only gets two warnings! You think
Hey, I was counting to three! Each one
is a new warning. Two and a half!
Don't shoot! I have an infernal machine, Sam!
A bomb. It goes off if my pulse gets
too slow. Shoot me and the whole block
You can't make a bomb like that.
No, but he doesn't know that.
Send the chaplain in or else!
He says he's got a bomb.
You think he has?
Hell, no. I'll just I'll call his
You're a brave man, Sam.
(adjusts his belt)
It's my job, Padre. I'm the leader and
the leader has to set an example for
his men no matter the risk.
(calls a nearby cop)
Sergeant, the guy claims he's got a
bomb but I say he's bluffing. Go on
in there and arrest his ass.
Wait! What if he really does have a bomb?
Bystanders could be hurt.
(gestures to others)
Stand back, folks. Clear the area. We
don't want innocent folks hurt.
What about innocent sergeants?
But there are people in there! They'll
be hurt if he does have a bomb.
Fuck 'em. They don't count. They're
just dopers and lowlifes. Who needs 'em?
(stung into action)
I'm going in, Sam!
No! It's too dangerous!
It's okay. I'll be safe.
I win even if I lose.
The PADRE strides purposefully toward the store. GG, watching from the window, turns to the others.
He's coming! Everybody light up! Smoke something!
BETH hands out joints and everyone quickly puffs away and the ambient air starts clouding up. The PADRE enters and GG
slams the door shut behind him. JUAN crosses himself.
Thanks for coming in, Padre. You're
a brave man.
(smiles offers hand)
I'm safe because I'm wearing my St.
It didn't help St. Christopher. They
burned his ass at the stake in the 3rd century.
(offers hand to JUAN)
I'm Fr. Ortiz.
Juan Lopez, Padre.
I'm Grandpa. You from the Blessed
Bleeding Stigmata parish, Padre?
We do a lot of business with them.
No, I'm a freelance priest. I just
go about doing good works here and
What does a job like that pay, Rev?
I depend on the Lord to provide for me.
I know a guy tried that. He lives under a b bridge.
Just how generous is the Lord, Padre?
Very. He provided me with a trust fund.
It's a miracle!
God is a financial planner now?
I think we're in the wrong movie.
Maybe we should go.
No, wait. We can't go now. We have to see
the end. Will the padre save Juan from
the evil immigration cops? Will Captain
Sam ever fire the tear gas? Will Juan's
wife be deported and his family made
homeless? Will we get out of here alive?
I think the furniture's moving!
Here, Padre, have a seat How about some
coffee and a cookie?
BETH is already putting coffee and cookie on the table and the smoke builds up. GG steers the priest by the elbow to the table.
(sits, picks up cookie)
How long is the sanctuary good for,
(sits, takes cookie)
Days, weeks, even years.
Look, the question is, can Juan get
away with this sanctuary stunt? Or
is his wife a goner and he gets
20 years for disturbing the peace?
The bullhorn sounds again.
Padre Ortiz! Are you safe? Has he
agreed to come out? If you don't reply
I'll fire the tear gas and order the SWAT
squad to attack!
(jerks door open)
Will you shut the hell up? The man's trying to t think in here. Why don't you go play cop
somewhere else and give a citizen some peace?
(turns to AIDE)
Get the city attorney down here. I'm
gonna check that sanctuary crap and get
a legal answer.
He's already here. He saw us on TV. He's
talking to the chief now.
Get him here. Quick!
The AIDE leaves and the CAPTAIN scowls. Moments later, Sneed at his side, the CAPTAIN bellows again.
Hold your fire! I'm coming in with
the city attorney!
He's bringing a lawyer?
I wonder whose side he'll be on?
I'll get the door.
GG opens the door and the CAPTAIN and CITY ATTY SNEED enter. Both look like and are assholes.
Humph! They look like assholes to me.
Don't mind Bob, Cap'n. He's got Tourette's
Syndrome. He can't help speaking the
truth when he sees it.
(fans smoke from face)
See here, Mr. Ganja, this is no laughing
matter. This man is armed and dangerous
and a disturber of the peace.
All I want is my wife to stay here
with my kids! I'm a citizen, don't I
have any rights?
Not anymore, you don't. The man took
'em away. Ask José Padilla.
The smoke is now thick and having its way with the receptors in everyone's brain.
You're under arrest, buddy.
And you may go to Hell under canon
law for violating a holy place!
Sneed, tell 'em about this sanctuary crap.
I It's an illegal act. Felons who flee
from the authorities cannot take refuge
in a church and claim sanctuary.
Juan's not a felon.
He's never even been arrested.
Say, Gramps, you're defending this
guy. You could get jail time for
Try some of our coffee, Captain. It's
arabica mocha and often served at the
Well, thanks. I love good coffee.
(aside to BETH)
The White House?
I made it up. The man's an idiot.
Have another cookie. The first one
always tastes like another one.
These are good, Sam. This may be the
best cookie I've ever tasted.
(looks at BOB)
Do I know you?
I don't know. Do you?
We just got married yesterday.
Knocked her up, did you?
Say, we're forgetting Juan. His wife
will be across the border before we
can form a committee at this rate.
Look, I'm not a criminal. I got my
gun at Toys R Us. I…
What about your infernal machine?
I lied. I don't have a bomb. I only
want to get an extension so my wife
can stay here. Nobody will listen,
it's all red tape and bullshit.
Everybody is pretty well stoned by now and things proceed accordingly.
I'm going to call the Cardinal!
He's practicing bird calls?
He's calling in the big guns. The
Cardinal could excommunicate every
asshole out there.
Why, that would be half of the
When do I go on?
So, Sneed, what's the verdict?
They're delicious! I'll bet you could
sell these for $5 apiece!
Or even more.
Is it legal or not?
Is what legal?
Uh, what were we talking about?
Uh, you were saying how unfair it is
that my wife is being deported.
Yeah, and she should get a green card,
too. That's what you said, man.
You got any more of these cookies?
EARL leans over and blows a mighty draught of pot smoke into the CAPTAIN'S face. He blinks.
Cap'n, maybe you haven't noticed, but
everyone outside there is Mexican. Juan
is Mexican. You want to deport Juan's
wife, also Mexican, with a million
Mexicans watching on TV. Very tricky.
Arrest Juan and get a million enemies
on the spot or give his wife an extension and make a a million friends. Your call.
If you're gonna arrest him give me a
head start before you tell the crowd.
Is there a back way out?
Why don't you give Juan a head start?
And his wife, too!
Look, Cap'n, this isn't right and everyone
knows it. You're breaking up a family
here. It's about justice and fair play
and doing right and that's what that crowd out t there is pissed about.
Let me go home with my wife and kids,
Captain. Help us get the extension from
Immigration Office so we can appeal the
order. America is our country and it's
Rosa's country, too, and we want to stay
But there are a million Rosas in this town
and if we let 'em all in they'll ruin us!
You mean like the Irish and the
Italians and Brits and Germans
and Jews and Asians and all those
other immigrants who were going to
You know what? There's something funny
g going on here. I think we're running
out of time.
Yeah, I don't know how they did it
b but they made time slow down.
You've only been in here for ten minutes.
No, I mean time its self. I can't remember
what time it is or how much of it we have l left.
It's the pot. It makes you smarter. Every
time you smoke the stuff your IQ jumps
h heavy thoughts like are we running out of time
20 points and you start thinking really
o or whatever happened to Judge Crater.
Say okay, Captain. Let Rosa stay.
This is our last chance?
The PADRE wanders in and closes his cell phone en route.
Any luck with the Cardinal, Padre?
No. Someone said he should sell
some of his jewels to help the poor and
he had a stroke. Four Cardinals tried to
help him and they all had strokes, too.
Maybe God's trying to tell 'em
(waves everyone off)
Okay. Enough bullshit. It's a done
deal! Juan, you're free to go. Tell
Rosa we're delighted to have her and
her family in our city.
JUAN jumps up and claps his hands and runs to the door, throws it open, and waves to the onlookers to come on in. In no time dozens of joyous well-wishers fill the Emporium and all turn out to be exponents of deep breathing exercises. Somebody sends out for pizzas and GG tosses cookies hither and yon and a great time is had by all.
Evan Keliher ©2009