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Summary of Edifice Wrecked

by Barbara McQuain
edited by Angela Stockton


["I guess I had a picture of what success would be like," Rick says in an opening black-and-white, "only the closer I get, the picture keeps changing. Now I see how it isolates you, how it makes your heart race ... keeps you up at night."

"Success," Rick says in an exasperated tone and in black-and-white interspersed with scenes of him reading a newspaper in his office, "is a near death experience. And we who are about to die ... (he chuckles) ... I'm kidding," he confesses, but the look on his face indicates otherwise. ]

In his office late at night, Rick wearily reads a newspaper. Putting down the paper, he sees on the desk a small bronze turtle that has been standing watch. As he rises, he snatches the turtle up.

In a flashback to three days earlier, Rick is talking to Ralph, a construction foreman, at the Atlantor site. Miles approaches, asking for a copy of the site plan, and Rick replies that David has it in the construction trailer. Imperiously, Miles asks, "Isn't the advantage of a partnership that one can be in one location while one's partner is someplace else?" Rick grudgingly goes to the trailer to retrieve the site plan himself.

Inside the trailer, David asks Rick if he has read that day's paper. Rick says no, assuming that it contains yet another attack on the Atlantor project as "inhumane," and deriding everyone involved for changing the skyline and doing their jobs. David says that according to the story, A Better Place, a youth shelter which the project is to displace, was the first studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. He predicts that this is what Karen will use to shut them down. Miles enters and joins the discussion while David again points out the Frank Lloyd Wright connection. "A fascinating bit of trivia," Miles snipes, "if you believe what you read."

Ralph enters and Miles asks him if he has seen his turtle. Miles pulls a bronze turtle from his pocket and explains that it is from sixteenth-century Tibet, and that the turtle is thought to bestow longevity and to be indestructible. He suggests that those prone to fear spread it. David rolls his eyes and abruptly leaves. Miles turns to Rick and asks, "You're not frightened of what they print in the paper, are you?"

Lily and Christie browse a card rack in a coffee shop, Lily shopping for Rick's Valentine's Day gift while Christie grumbles that she's alone and doesn't need an entire day to remind her of the fact. David enters the shop and greets Lily, who introduces him to her boss. Christie recalls having met David at Judy's BookLovers opening. Although at first David doesn't remember, he and Christie are quickly smitten with each other. At his request, Christie gives David her business card with explicit instructions to "never call." "That's the plan," he answers, as they eye each other.

When Lily arrives home, she finds Grace, Zoe and Carla making paper valentines at the kitchen table. Just as Lily remarks that she ought to make one for Rick, Zoe happens to read his name in one of the newspapers spread protectively under the craft supplies. The story about Atlantor and A Better Place intrigues Grace, who asks for more information. Carla explains that A Better Place is a youth shelter and credits it with saving a friend of hers from becoming a prostitute. Grace can't believe anyone would tear such a place down "just to build Rick's building."

"It's not Rick's fault," Lily reminds her.

"Whose fault is it?" Grace retorts.

In her living room, Karen talks to a volunteer about an anti-Atlantor demonstration that is to take place the next day. Rick enters with Jessie. Karen thanks Rick for picking Jessie up, noting that she has been busy; eyeing the posters, he replies coolly, "I can see." He's discomfited when Jessie mentions that a protest group will be meeting at the house the following night.

Rick asks Karen for the last bill from Dr. Rosenfeld. While she's searching for it, Karen is distracted by a message on her pager, "Hearing set for fourteenth." She's struck by the irony of having to battle her ex-husband in court on Valentine's Day and forgets about Dr. Rosenfeld's bill. Unwilling to wait any longer for her to find it, Rick leaves empty-handed.

Back at his office, Rick finally reads the Atlantor story in the newspaper. [In black and white, Rick and David fondly recall the start of their partnership. "I was a wreck. I lived in fear," Rick says, recalling that David never seemed to notice how close they were to failure. David claims that because he knew Rick, he knew they'd succeed.]

Rick tosses the paper aside and brainstorms with David about what to get Lily for Valentine's Day. Recalling his gift of a cricket the previous year, he complains, "I can't keep showering her with insects." Their friendly bickering about who deserves credit for the cricket -- Rick bought it, but it was David who explained to him its significance -- is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger who, they quickly realize, is a process server. She hands them copies of an injunction to cease and desist work on the Atlantor project and states that a hearing on the injunction is set for February 14th.

Next day, Lily enters the coffee shop and spies David and Christie seated together in a booth, playfully sharing a muffin. She quickly exits before they can see her.

At her office, Karen discusses the injunction with someone on the phone, mournfully saying, "We're building our house on sand." Jessie chats with her mother's assistant, Saj, and accepts his offer of a banana. When Rick arrives to pick up Jessie, he seems ill at ease in "enemy" territory. Although Karen tells him that she has Dr. Rosenfeld's bill, Rick brusquely declares that he has to get back to the office and again refuses to wait for her to find it.

That afternoon, Jessie and Eli are in their dad's apartment when Grace, Carla and Spencer drop in. Carla tells Eli that A Better Place is "being torn down by money-hungry white males." A debate starts with Spencer (whose mere presence somewhat puzzles the others) playing devil's advocate. Spencer cites many positive improvements that have come about as a result of tearing things down, while also noting the hypocrisy of those who criticize the destruction yet readily partake in the fruits of progress. "Oh, you'll go to a mall but white males shouldn't build it?" he scoffs, to Grace's annoyance.

Carla pushes Eli to form an opinion on the subject. Eli asks to speak privately to Grace, but she's disappointed when he wants only to ask her about a Valentine's Day present for Carla. When Carla re-enters the room, she playfully wrestles with Eli and proposes that they go to A Better Place.

From work, Lily and Rick talk by phone to each other. Lily tells Rick about David's meeting with Christie, and both find it odd that David has not mentioned it. Rick tells Lily about the injunction. Seconds later, she hears a staff writer ask for the spelling of "Atlantor" and quickly hangs up. As Lily starts to read the reporter's Atlantor story, "Divorced Couples from Hell," off a computer monitor, Christie takes her aside to explain that she purposely did not tell Lily about the story to "protect" her. Christie adds that if Rick comes off as a Type A "nightmare" in the story, it is because she is presenting one side only. "Why not present more sides?" Lily suggests. "You're kidding," Christie answers dismissively. When Rick comes to Lily's house for dinner that night, she shows him a copy of the "Divorced Couples" story. Grace and Zoe come to the dinner table, Grace bringing a notebook. Lily tells Grace to put her notebook away, but Grace says she is writing an article on A Better Place.

"Of course you are. Who isn't," Rick says exasperatedly. He insists he has nothing to hide and invites Grace to question him. She immediately asks his reaction to the newspaper story, but he admits he has not read it. He tries to make a case for progress, but his on-the-spot comparison of the Atlantor complex to the Empire State Building does not impress Grace, who conspicuously puts her notebook away without asking any more questions.

Over breakfast the next morning, Eli asks Rick if he will be at the Atlantor site that day. Rick answers that he has a meeting with a lawyer. "You know I admire your mother and what she is doing." Rick says, but his children are clearly uncomfortable at being caught up in their parents' battle.

At the Sammler & Cassili office Rick, David, and Miles meet with Wilton, the lawyer, to talk about the injunction. The lawyer stresses the positive of Atlantor -- revitalizing a blighted urban area and Atlantor's willingness to relocate people whose homes and businesses will be displaced. Wilton notices Miles playing with the turtle and asks what it is. "Am I the only one here who thinks we have a real serious problem?" David wonders aloud. "As opposed to the make-believe kind?" Miles snidely replies. He launches into a story about an old woman who foolishly thought the world to be flat and resting atop an endless stack of turtles. "People refuse to accept reality," he says. "They form their foolish, irrational opinions and stick to them." He predicts that in spite of "huffing and puffing," the Atlantor development will be built. "The question is, what are you willing to do?" he asks.

"To fight this injunction?" Rick asks.

"For greatness," Miles replies.

Fuming, David leaves, saying he needs to get back to the site. Rick is mortified when David sarcastically "thanks" Wilton for the pep talk and Miles for the turtle anecdote.

[In a black and white, Rick and David fondly recall one advantage of a partnership: that partners keep each other honest and grounded.]

Grace, Eli and Carla arrive by bus at the Atlantor site. Eli and Grace are especially taken aback by the sight of so many protestors harassing construction workers and loudly chanting. The scene seems to infuse Grace with a rush of adrenaline and purpose.

Meanwhile, at BookLovers, Lily discusses the pagesAlive article with Judy. Judy says the article is not that bad, but that Rick comes off as ambitious. Lily says it makes him sound as if he has no conscience. Judy mockingly responds, "Who cares how he comes off? You know he has one ... somewhere ... probably."

"So you don't trust him?" Lily asks.

"Do you? That's what matters," Judy replies.

The two discuss Valentine's Day, Lily saying at first that she doesn't trust Rick, then correcting herself: because of her broken trust in Jake, she doesn't trust herself to trust Rick.

At her office, Karen laments to Saj that she has nothing to go into court with. Commiserating with her, Saj offhandedly mentions an oral agreement which A Better Place had obtained to buy their building. Although he doesn't understand the significance of his own comment, Karen is elated and orders him to tell her everything he knows about the agreement.

Back at the Atlantor site, Eli and Carla have lost interest in the ongoing protest, Carla complaining that she thought it would be more fun. They kiss and snuggle while waiting for a bus, and Carla asks Eli if he has lost all respect for his father. Eli says he respects Rick, and that if he himself were offered money to design a project that would take the place of existing urban blight, he would do it in a heartbeat, for no money even. Meanwhile, Grace's interest has grown as she interviews demonstrators, and when Eli and Carla leave, Grace opts to stay.

Late that afternoon, Lily tries unsuccessfully to write something on the red paper heart she has cut for Rick. She gets only as far as "Dear Rick" when she draws a blank and puts the marker down.

That night, Rick arrives at the Atlantor site and makes his way past the entrance where demonstrators are still camped en masse and deriding him. He enters the construction trailer, where David is working late. He tells David that while they are both under pressure, he didn't appreciate him just leaving the meeting.

"You think I actually care at this point whether or not you appreciate something or not?" David calmly states.

"What is this, David?" Rick asks in confusion.

Bitterly, David replies, "This is me being as clear as I know how to be with you."

"This is you making a point. This is you taking a stand," Rick says angrily. "Well, how courageous of you. Go ahead! How gutsy. Stand up for the homeless kids we are offering a bigger and better home."

"We know bigger is better?" David retorts defiantly. "No, I'm standing up for myself. I quit."

"Right now? Today?" Rick asks in shock.

"Yes, that's it, Rick. It's over," David declares. "Maybe it was Wilton talking about urban blight, maybe it was that last turtle anecdote that pushed me over the edge. I've had enough. That's all. I don't believe in what we're doing, I don't believe we should be doing it. And to paraphrase e. e. cummings: there is just some excrement I will not eat."

"So that is why you sold me out to Christie?" Rick snaps.

"Actually, no," David replies. "I mainly did that to hurt you. You see, that's the part of this equation you just don't get -- how disappointed I am in you."

"David, I can't do this alone!" Rick pleads.

"Rick, you've been doing it alone," David reminds him, and walks out.

When Rick leaves the trailer, he is stunned to see Grace among the demonstrators. He asks her if Lily knows where she is, to which Grace admits, "Not exactly." Just as Rick offers to take her home, Lily calls him on his cell phone. Rick asks her if she knows where Grace is, and when Lily answers that she's at Carla's house, he informs her that she is right there, protesting.

Lily asks to speak to Grace. When he calls to Grace at the far end of the picket line, Grace defiantly yells, "You are NOT my father!"

"I realize that!" Rick shouts back, and hands her the phone. A short time later, Rick delivers Grace to Lily's. As soon as she enters the house, Grace throws her backpack on the floor and runs upstairs, flinging her coat over the railing. "You realize what this is," Rick says. "It's the perfect way for her to get at me."

Lily thinks there is more to it than that, saying that Grace had a right to be there and obviously has strong feelings about the subject. Rick points out that Lily didn't even know where her daughter was, because Grace didn't tell her the truth. "That's between her and me," Lily says, and gently suggests that he leave. As he picks up his coat, she wishes him luck at the hearing.

Next day at the hearing, a tense and apprehensive Rick observes while Karen pleads her case. He is caught up in the stress of the moment and his admiration for Karen, her dedication and courtroom presence. After both parties' presentations are concluded, the judge declares a fifteen-minute recess.

As the judge returns to the courtroom, Miles hands Rick the turtle, murmuring, "Take this for luck." Finding that the building has no historical significance and that an unwritten contract is unenforceable, the judge denies Karen her injunction. Later, Rick visits Karen's office, where he sees Jessie wearing an A Better Place T-shirt. Jessie explains that she is only wearing it to make Karen feel better, reasoning that Rick has someone and Karen doesn't, and she thought someone should be on Karen's side. Karen enters and, on her guard, asks what Rick is doing there. She tells him she does not need his sympathy, that he only got lucky in court and it is not over. Rick quietly tells Karen he is only there because she was excellent and "I just wanted to say that."

At their office, while David packs his belongings, he informs Rick that he has told the employees. Rick asks what he can say to change David's mind. "Nothing," David answers.. The partners hug, then David leaves.

[In black-and-white, David and Rick again talk fondly about partnership. "We left out the other reason why you need a partner," Rick says -- "so there's someone to blame when things go wrong." "Exactly," David adds, laughing with Rick.]

As the flashback ends, Lily is awakened late at night by a ringing phone. At 2:20 a. m., she sleepily opens her door to Rick. He reaches into his pocket and, thinking he is retrieving his Valentine's Day gift for her, Lily turns to get her paper heart for him. Confessing that she didn't quite finish it, she turns back to Rick who has, instead, pulled the turtle from his coat pocket.

"Oh no, this isn't ..." Rick explains, seeing her bewildered expression. "This is just supposed to bring good luck." He reaches into his pocket again and takes out a jeweler's ring box. "This is what I really wanted to ... umm," he says. "We can pretend it's still Valentine's Day, can't we?"

"Is this ....? .... Are you ...?" she stammers, and opens the box..

Rick tells her she can exchange the ring if she doesn't like it. "It's beautiful," Lily tearfully insists. "I would never choose another one."

"This is where you throw your arms around me," Rick prompts her lightheartedly as he opens his arms, ready to embrace her. To his embarrassment, Lily does not immediately respond. She wants to say yes but something is holding her back. "What about this whole problem with Grace?" she asks.

"This is how we figure it out." Rick answers, explaining that Grace has a problem with him personally, but that once he and Lily are married, Grace will accept him. When Lily still does not answer, he pleads, "Lil, why are you making this so hard?"

Lily senses that there is more going on with Rick. She asks him what happened at the hearing. "Nothing, we won," he says. He then admits that David quit.

"Please don't ask me to marry you like this," Lily says, her emotions a jumble. "I want you to want to marry me because you want to spend your life with me. Not because you're scared to be alone."

"I'm not scared to be alone," Rick says, defeated. "I am alone."

Lily embraces him and tries to reassure him that she loves him. A tearful Rick, however, can take no comfort, saying, "I'm not scared of it at all. I'm used to it." Rick leaves the open ring box on the table. As he turns to leave, with head bowed and shoulders slumped, he adds, "There was no Saint Valentine. It's all made up."

Lily notices he has forgotten the turtle sitting on the counter. She picks it up and, wiping her eyes, asks, "And it brings you luck?" As they embrace, he replies, "Not tonight."

"It must have cost a lot," Lily says as she gazes at the turtle.

"Too much," Rick whispers. He pockets the turtle again and quietly leaves.

Lily hears him close the door and walks out of the kitchen, leaving the engagement ring on the counter beside the unfinished paper heart.

The End.



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