TRIP AND TRAP SAVE CALIFORNIA
Dorian Scott Cole
Copyright © 1994 by Dorian Scott Cole
Notice: This story outline is copyrighted and is not public domain. Anyone can use any portion of this story outline, or all of this story outline, simply by putting "Idea created by Dorian Scott Cole" with the author's credits on the first page. Changes to the story or outline are welcome and encouraged. If this outline prompts you to create a different story, that is even better, then no credit is required (even if it is similar).
Story Media: This story outline is intended to work for screenplays, novels, and stage plays. It is not likely to work well for a short story. If written for stage, there are only four stage settings with few scene changes, and the settings and changes are indicated. I recommend using a bare stage area for the desert scenes with a scrim in the background covering paintings of military tanks, etc. Some of the outdoor action may have to be described by others either as it occurs, or afterwards in tense scenes about what has occurred. While scenes for modern screen typically average two minutes (about two pages in screenplay format), scenes for plays are typically ten minutes and much longer for a one and a half to two-hour play.
Example downloads:Respect for others: Humor and disrespect (laughing at ourselves and making fun of others) are two different things. While individual actions may be amusing, the actions of individuals usually don't reflect on nations of people or agencies. Please respect our national Native American heritage which is part of us all, and our US government agencies, and others, by not making disparaging remarks about groups of people or government agencies, or any individual's limitations or heritage. (No one will use stories with hurtful remarks anyway.)
Thrown off a ship for their antics, two immature, funloving pranksters consider settling down... Nah, no fun. They decide on an ambitious plan to make it rain in California and end up saving a town from drought.
Trip and Trap (or Tripp and Trapp) like to have fun. If fun isn't happening, they instigate fun. But they also find they have a desire to do something meaningful and good for other people. What better place than drought ridden California? At first bragging to impress some ladies, they hit upon an idea to bring water to a town collapsing from lack of water. But the government and the environmentalists are both their friends and their enemy in their quest, at one moment for them, the next opposing them. The town can't quite take them seriously and has a little fun at their expense. They can't quite take themselves seriously and have a little fun at the town's expense. When they finally overcome all obstacles and prove to the town that they are determined and have a workable plan, a government official with a grudge blocks their way. Discouraged, they leave town, but the town rallies to their side because they tried so hard for them. They approach the military base which formerly opposed them and get their cooperation on the project.
Part I, opening to show main motivation and main plot
On ship, Trip and Trap are recreation stewards
who are tired of feeding the Captain's gold fish and organizing dull shuffleboard
games and watching dead romances. They manage to anger all the passengers
and the crew by dropping gold fish in ladies' bikinis, dumping Jell-O in
the swimming pool, putting horseshoe magnets in the shuffle board pucks,
putting alum in the cafeteria drinking water, and inflating a life boat
in the steam bath.
The Captain throws them off, while all the passengers glare at them. When they learn they are in L.A., they run back up the ramp terrified, screaming, "You can't leave us here! California is plagued by earthquakes, mud slides, highway shootings, forest fires, drought, and the Redwood forest." "Redwood forest?" the passengers ask. "What's wrong with Redwood forest?" "That's where our crazy Aunt lives."
Then, while riding east on the back of
a farm truck with a hog, a dog, and two chickens, thinking about settling
down and making their mother proud of them, they decide the best thing
they can do is to make it rain. It will stop the forest fires, drought
and highway shootings, and maybe the earthquakes. The mud slides may get
They arrive in the (fictitious) town of
Twin Dry Lakes, CA, population 10,000, where people are having to leave
because of the lack of water. Desperate for hope, the people are willing
to try or believe anything in order to keep their homes. Trip and Trap
meet two local women. Trip likes Amy, the Mayor's daughter, Trap likes
Lisa, the daughter of an undertaker and city council member. (One of the
two twins could also be female.)
Trip and Trap boast that they are alchemists on summer break from the UCLA Alchemy Science Department, and are there studying rain making. They claim that as twins, they not only have unusual rapport with each other, they have unusual rapport with the earth. They are about to complete their investigation and report to the weather bureau about conditions for making rain.
Amy and Lisa know the two are bogus, but decide they are fun and will play along with them for a while.
They see a crowd gathered around City Hall
and a man about to hang himself from the balcony. When he jumps, Trip and
Trap catch him and break his fall, nearly killing both Trip and Trap and
him. His feet can touch the ground - it is a symbolic hanging, not a real
one. He is losing his landscaping business because of the drought, and
the city government is voting in closed session at this moment on unincorporating
the town so they won't have to provide water. Trip and Trap take pity on
the entire city, confess to the ladies that they aren't alchemists and
that their charade is totally inappropriate. They decide they must do something
for real to try to find a way to fill the lake.
The Mayor hears all the ruckus outside and he and his panel of expert consultants come out to calm the crowd. One consultant tells them the cost of running a small pipeline from the closest source of water is about fifty-million dollars. The bonds to cover it would cost each city family twenty-thousand dollars a year in new taxes, which no one can afford. However, the other cities are so short on water that no one will let them do it anyway. A Geologist reports that the ground water level is so far down that it's unreachable. The Mayor says the city won't be able to supply water and the only solution is to unincorporate the town and let the residents move elsewhere. They will file for disaster relief, but probably not get it.
Trip and Trap tell the Mayor that he can't unincorporate. He can't give up on the entire town and let the people lose their homes and businesses. They talk to the crowd, telling them that they can solve the water problem if they rely on themselves for the answers. The meeting becomes flooded with crazy ideas forgetting water, angering the Mayor. The meeting is over.
Part II, middle (longest section) with three/four obstacles or movements, ending in discouragement and then hope
Obstacle/movement 1, the challenge
Next day, the Mayor consults a used car
salesman and asks if he can get rid of Trip and Trap before they cause
trouble for the town or his daughter. He says, "I'm a used car salesman,
I can sell them on anything." He and another salesman get Trip and Trap
to agree to drill in the lake for water, then give them shovels, a ten
inch auger, twenty, ten foot sections of pipe, and set them to digging.
They can't afford power tools, but according to "experts," there is a "geological
formation" under the lake, a spring, that can provide water. The hole they
dig will fill up with water after they drill down far enough. The businessmen
leave, laughing with each other about not having given the two a ladder
to get out of the hole.
Lisa gets her father to loan Trip and Trap
the hearse when they need transportation, so they have a way to the desert.
After a week, they have dug a hole twenty feet wide by ten feet deep, and
in the bottom of it they have drilled a ten inch hole 200 feet down with
the small auger. The town is buzzing about their activity, and the businessmen
and Mayor are surprised that the two have stuck with it so long, having
figured them to be lazy drifters.
An old Indian has been observing their
progress, each day moving his lawn chair a little closer and shaking his
head, watching them go round and round turning the auger. Having run out
of pipe, Trip and Trap start toward the hearse to return to town. Pointing
to the hearse, the Indian asks what they are going to bury in the hole.
They tell him a two hundred foot rattle snake tried to swallow two water
buffalo and choked to death. The Indian laughs and invites them into his
shanty where the two spot a peace pipe hanging on the wall. They ask to
smoke it. The Indian has no tobacco, so he turns his back, opens a tea
bag and fills the pipe. Trap chokes on the smoke, sending a volcano of
burning embers onto them and all over the shanty, catching the shanty on
fire. They rush outside, furiously brushing the glowing embers off themselves.
The Indian grabs a bucket of water from outside and puts the fire out.
But as they watch, it bursts again into flames and the Indian grabs his
possessions from inside.
As they stand together watching it burn,
they want to know where he gets the water. It's an Indian secret; Indians
always know how to find water in the desert. Then he angrily orders them
to leave. Instead of leaving, Trip and Trap hide and watch to see where
he gets his water. Hours later he goes to a hole and pulls out a bucket
Excited about having found water at the
Indian's place, they go back to town and tell the businessmen they have
found the spring. The men are astonished and rush to see the water. They
immediately begin digging and discover a leak in the city water pipe. They
have it fixed and the Indian is out of water, and a home. Trip and Trap
feel sorry for him and invite him to live with them. Having no alternative,
he reluctantly moves in.
Obstacle/movement 2 - beaten, humiliated, and jailed
Trip and Trap decide that Indians are mystical
people - they do rain dances - and coupled with the their natural mystical
powers, they should be able to solve the water problem. They decide to
have a mystical engineering meeting, and ask the Indian what he thinks.
He wants nothing to do with the two and he sarcastically says, "Ask the
moon." They take him seriously. They wait until the moon is visible and
try to go into a trance. Trip thinks of the ocean. Trap puts moon and ocean
together and thinks of waves. Moon, ocean, waves, sun, they're onto an
idea. They devise a plan to use wave power, the sun, and cold ocean water
to convert ocean water to clean water and pump it to the city. They tell
their idea to some local residents and some local environmentalists, and
get their support.
No one in the city government will believe
them or cooperate, so the two tell their story to the press and it is put
on the air on an L.A. newscast as a human interest story. The Mayor is
interviewed, calling them, "Crackpots at minimum, mad scientists at best,
and mostly meddling mischief makers." He is embarrassed to confirm his
daughter is seeing one of them. They also interview the Captain of the
ship they were thrown off, and interview a scientist who says, "Their method
is hardly worth investigating. Their quest is a lost cause that the best
modern scientists have yet to conquer." But the citizens interviewed are
unquestionably behind the Trip and Trap, including some environmentalists
who make bold statements about their water purifying method being pure
Every special interest group in California is alerted and responds.
A nearby military base orders them to stop
because of "national defense priorities" (the lakes have always been dry
and water would cut off their access to the town, which is the only sane
place around for military personnel to go or to live. The two react to
the military threat by setting up "Sacred Indian Burial Ground" signs on
the road across the lake bed. The Indian refuses to get involved until
they bribe him by promising to erect a Tee Pee for him to live in. Military
jeeps appear, stop and return to base. Next day, an Indian Affairs man
talks to the Indian and takes down the sign.
Trip and Trap then place radioactive danger
signs in the lake to keep the military from crossing. They borrow a backhoe
and dig up the lake bed to make it look like dumping is taking place. The
military shows up in radioactive suits and checks with Geiger counters,
then rolls in tanks and uses the signs for target practice. They chase
Trip and Trap down with the tanks, terrorizing them. They cuff them, throw
them behind bars and try to coerce them into enlisting. After twenty-four
hours, they release them, after gaining an agreement that the two will
not impede the lake crossing.
Obstacle 3, Family, community, the military, and everyone in the world is against them.
Some environmentalists have discovered a den of endangered fangless coyotes, the only ones known, are living in the lake bed and file injunctions against them.
Two town thieves see all the commotion
around the lake and believe something must be going on. They surmise there
must be valuable minerals in the lake bed and become prospectors. They
kidnap Trip and Trap, question them about their real purpose, and leave
them to dry in the desert. While the prospectors dump Trip, Trap places
a magnet behind the compass on the prospector's car, so they go off with
Trap in the wrong direction.
Trip makes it back to town. He tells the
local sheriff what happened, but he won't go looking for Trap because Trip
made it back and technically Trap isn't a missing person until he has been
missing forty-eight hours. Trip calls the FBI, but they won't do anything
because Trap wasn't kidnapped over state lines.
So Trip calls the State Police and asks if they have seen his brother. They reply, "No, is there some reason we would have seen him?" Trip, "Yes, he's been driving without a license." Police, "Hmmm. Is there any other reason we might have picked him up?" Trip, "Of course, the package of cocaine he was carrying. But it was only three pounds. He's also carrying a gun without a license, and he has quite a lot of stolen money on him, and those two-hundred dollar boots he is wearing he stole from a boot store, and the military is looking for him." "Why is the military looking for him?" "He's AWOL from the Navy." "Why is he AWOL?" "He sank one of their ships. It was only a supply ship, but they got real upset about it." "Don't worry, Sir, we'll find your brother. Oh, is there any reason we might be looking for you?" "No. I've never done anything wrong in my entire life."
While walking across the desert after being
dumped by the thieves, Trap stumbles on a group of archaeologists who are
checking for archaeological ruins to prevent them from filling the lake.
He spends the day helping them dig, and finds they don't really have anything
special they are looking for, they just think that in the next hundred
years they might find some civilization or some missing link had lived
in the lake bed and they don't want it covered with water so they can't
investigate. After all, Sumeria is under water and mud, so they can't investigate
it, and they can't investigate Atlantis because the columns off the coast
of Florida are under water. Trap wanders into town and Trip tells him the
State Police are looking for him. "What for?" "Nothing much, just a little
The EPA brings in three mobile laboratories
full of scientists. They have a press conference/town meeting and announce
they are beginning an environmental impact study that will take ten years.
Asked about the cost, the EPA rep. states the cost at five-hundred-million
dollars. He is informed by the crowd that the cost is ten times the estimated
cost of running a pipeline from the coast. Why doesn't the government just
run a pipeline. They respond that the government wasn't threatened by a
pipeline, it was threatened by a lake.
While at the EPA announcement meeting, the State Police arrive and approach Trap. When asked if he is Trap, he points to Trip. Just then an odd looking woman with a patch over one eye thrashes into the meeting creating a big commotion. She announces loudly that there are Sasquatch footprints in the lake and nobody had better do anything to the lake or they will have to face her. Trip and Trap both run. She sees Trap and follows him, with the police on her heels.
Their lady friends catch Trip and Trap
at the door and want to know what is up. "That's our crazy Aunt from the
Redwood forest. And that's the State Police on her heels." "What kind of
trouble are you two in?" "It's all just a misunderstanding with the Police,
but if our Aunt catches us, we're in big trouble." "Why?" "Because she
doesn't know we are twins, and that's how we avoid seeing her when she
visits. Ever since she bounced out of her jeep, and landed on her head,
she's been crazy, and she follows Sasquatch footprints all over California.
If she finds out we are twins, she'll kill us. And worse, she'll make us
drive the jeep with her, tracking Sasquatch."
Having Trapped Trip and Trap, the Aunt yells, "Trap," and goes and hits Trap. The Police move in. Trip has disappeared behind a policeman. As the police cuff Trap, she hits him, saying, "You outlaw! What have you done now besides trying to ruin my Sasquatch footprints? Take the bum away." Trap asks, "You're always mean to me. Why did you always hate me?" She replies, "Because you selfish little pig, you always want two of everything. Every Christmas it's, 'Send two of everything, just alike." Trip is strangling with laughter behind the policeman.
Trip gets Trap out of jail, but they are
demoralized because of all the problems. Their lady friends encourage them
and help them find ways around the problems. Amy and Lisa organize realtors
who will want to sell lake front property. The Realtors buy the mineral
rights to the lake for $50.00 and chase off the prospector/thieves.
A high school science teacher is impressed
with Trip and Trap's idea and their determination. Trip and Trap get the
local high school science club to prepare a new habitat for the fangless
coyotes with the understanding that the habitat will be part of a nature
course that will protect them.
They all four convince the old Indian to
go on local TV by telling him the future of the town depends on him. On
TV, he traces his ancestry all the way back to the beginning of time. He
tells ancient tales of when the lake was full, with a tear running down
his cheek, saying it is in their best interests to restore the bounty of
the land. Community support solidifies against those trying to stop the
filling of the lake.
After the show, Trap introduces his Aunt to the archaeologists who were looking for Indian ruins. They go off together looking for "Sasquatch Indian ruins."
Next morning, a woman shows up saying, "They have been looking everywhere for her father, the old Indian. They live in L.A. where they have a costume shop, and he's been getting senile and imagining things. He was born in L.A. and has lived there all of his life, but he remembers TV westerns as his past. All he can talk about is dying like an Indian." He breaks the peace pipe and angrily throws it at Trip and Trap's feet, saying, "All I wanted was to die in peace, then I have to run into double trouble. I haven't had a peaceful minute since they arrived. Let's go home."
The four of them locate investors who will want to build recreation areas on the lake. The investor group calls the President about how water and economics both need to "trickle down "in California. The President can't talk because he has a spoon stuck sideways in his throat, trying to prove he can do anything President Bush can do. So the President calls Bush wanting to know how he does the spoon trick. Bush says "Now (Billie), you're not supposed to swallow the spoon, you just pull your neck out on each side to make it look like you did." The President says, "Georgie, you know you are supposed to brief me in advance on these things." Bush makes a self satisfied smile. The President tells Bush that Bush owes him one for tricking him and asks him to call off the EPA. Bush agrees.
As the EPA caravan of scientists leaves
town, the group leader vows, "This is war. We shall return."
But Trip and Trap's worst problem is that
they are running out of money and have to go to work. Against his judgment,
the Mayor is coaxed by his daughter into giving them a job painting lines
on the city streets. Soon the two get sidetracked by their own ideas of
highway engineering and the entire town becomes an unfathomable maze of
lines. Parallel parking is eliminated, as are one way streets, so angle
parking is in the middle of the street and cars drive on each side. All
stop signs get painted over as yield signs. Traffic signals get painted
over and drivers can't see the lights. Some of the citizens form a lynch
committee, and trip and Trap are escorted out of town by the Sheriff.
The two are sobered by their experience and want to get back to their ladies and the water project. With the help of the science teacher, they make a working model of their water plan with the little money they have left.
The Mayor and City Council are voting on unincorporating the town. The local military commander is present. When asked why he is there, he says it is classified information and he is representing the military's interests. The government EPA representative also sits quietly, looking sinister and obstinate. Trip and Trap show up, accompanied by jeers and threats. They apologize for their shortcomings, show them their working model, and win their approval.
But the EPA representative decides the concentrated ocean water discharge would pollute the ocean. Trip argues that, "It came from the ocean, why can't it return to the ocean?" The EPA man responds, "Even though it came from the ocean, it's concentrated, and it's a whole new issue. The President's order doesn't apply. You can't build the water supply." He looks victorious. The meeting adjourns.
Feeling defeated and shamed, Trip and Trap
pack their things and walk out of town at night. A friend returning to
town passes them, then talks to the Mayor. The Mayor hasn't seen his daughter
so alive as when Trip was around. He likes the two, in a round about sort
of way, and he begins laughing about the street painting incident. The
Mayor, their lady friends, and several residents go after them, telling
them that they are heroes because they tried their best and that's all
anyone can ask. Trip and Trap return to town with them.
Part III, climax
The next day, Trip and Trap and Amy and Lisa are sitting around talking about where to move. Trap raises a question.
"Why isn't the military leaving? They must
have water!" So they talk about confronting the military and getting some
of their water. If the military will see them after already having two
encounters with them. But they are desperate.
The military commander refuses to meet
with them. So they sneak onto the base at midnight in the back of the hearse
with Lisa driving. The main gate allows them through with no problem. They
enter various barracks dressed as spooks and sit on bunks and tickle feet
until the men sit up, frightened. Then they run.
Soon the entire base is after them. But when the guards catch Trip, Trap appears behind them, distracting them. They find various uniforms and switch them frequently, letting themselves be seen wearing different uniforms or as spooks. After an hour, the entire base is in chaos and anyone who looks remotely like Trip and Trap is under lock and key. Meanwhile, Trip and Trap enter the Commander's office, leave a note for him, and exit in the hearse with Lisa driving.
The next day the Commander shows up at
the Mayor's office looking worn and haggard. The base has been on alert
half the night looking for spooks, and most of the base is in jail. He
was in jail himself, accused of being a spook until someone could identify
him. He asks angrily what Trip and Trap want. They ask about the base water.
He says that is classified. Trip asks him if running around half the night
chasing ghosts is also classified. He knows some reporters. The Commander
reports the Army is just as concerned about water as they are. The Army's
wells are only a little deeper, and they are beginning to show signs of
losing their supply. They are rationing water and may have to close the
base. The Army Corp. Of Engineers is going to be on the base the next day
to assess the situation. The Commander tells them they just might be interested
in their idea.
The Army Corp. Of Engineers representative shows up and wants to look at their plans. The Army's wells are dry and they will have to close the base if they don't find water. They can handle the EPA. They want to experiment with Trip and Trap's plan because it is less expensive and environmentally sound, and they can get emergency funding to get it done.
They aren't going to get any money for
their idea, so they are once again at loose ends. Trip wants to move on
to another project, a fountain of youth he has heard about from the prospectors.
But Trap feels it's better to freeze people who have terminal illnesses
and wants to pursue that. The ladies don't care what they do, even if it's
painting streets, as long as they do it in their town. The ladies have
INT. SHIP CORRIDOR - DAY
Marching down the corridor two by two comes the business group, led by Sam, who is determined to form his sales group into a cohesive union of team players. Sneaking down the corridor behind them are Trip and Trap, who have watched their silly exercises for days. Trip and Trap join their ranks, marching after them with their fingers up their nose.
They march through a door into a locker room. Sam swings open the steam room door.Today is our biggest step toward
Sam begins opening a valve marked steam. One by one the men enter the steam room. Trip and Trap exchange mischievous glances and disappear. Steam fills the room so the men can't see each other.All right men, remove your clothes.
OK, Mark, tell us what you don't
Jim is OK. He's a real likable guy.
Well, if you had to choose
MARKI don't want to say. He's my friend.
Trip and trap return carrying a box. They look through the door window, seeing only steam. They give each other thumbs up. They take an inflatable rubber dingy from the box.It's OK. Friends can take it.
But he's my only friend. If I
It's OK, Mark. I'll still be
You trample all over my feelings,
You're a wimp, Mark, and I never
Well, that's honesty.
Hellllllp! It's getting me!
JIMIt's got me! It's pinning me
SAMI feel it! It's coming to get
MARKGet on the floor! It's not on
SAMI can't! I'm pinned to the wall!JIMWhat is this thing? We're all
You finish it: Mark gets them to work together as a team, and rescues them all.
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