Two Ships Passing in the Night

Two characters approximately the same age 35-40.  Both very successful and extremely competent in what they do as well as highly respected by everyone around them.  One is an executive in an advertising agency in Manhattan; the other is a Roman senator around 117 A.D.

First scene shows the advertising executive in his office negotiating an ad campaign with a client — both are dressed in expensive tailored suits.  It is clear from the advertising executive’s interactions with others that he is well respected, competent, and on top of his game.  The client becomes more and more excited with each suggestion made by the advertising executive.  Ultimately, the client enthusiastically shakes hands with the advertising executive — thanking him profusely — and departs; and the advertising executive takes a moment to peer out his skyscraper window, thoughtfully, at the spectacular view of mid-town Manhattan — his kingdom.

Next scene is the floor of the Roman Senate.  The Roman senator is having a private conversation with a fellow senator concerning possible candidates to replace the current emperor who has failing health.  They are discussing two possible candidates, and are in a serious conversation but take care not to be overheard by others who pass by them in the Senate chamber.  They are discussing from a purely self-interested point of view which candidate would be best for themselves.  The Roman senator gives a balanced and penetrating analysis of the two alternatives, and the other senator, nodding,  is won over and clearly impressed.  The impression given is that the Roman senator is a man of the world, an accomplished wheeler dealer who can lead others through the force of his intellect and a thorough grasp of any situation.  Not someone to be trifled with.

Next scene shows the advertizing executive navigating his way home from the office, beginning with just catching a crowded elevator, to making it through the swirl of Grand Central, to being ticketed on the commuter train, to being picked up by his wife at the local train station, and whisked away from the crowd to an affluent but understated estate.  They kiss in the car, and make small talk about his day.  It is clear that his wife, from her eagerness and attentiveness, adores him.

Next scene, the Roman senator makes his way from the Senate across Rome to a villa just outside the city limits.  As the Roman senator makes his way through the streets of Rome and ultimately to his villa, one can clearly see the high stature that he enjoys among the common people.  He carries himself with a certain air of privilege as well as competence.  The world is his oyster.

His wife meets him as he enters his villa.  One can see in the villa the typical Roman décor, etiquette and behavior within a residential setting.  The Roman senator’s wife also clearly adores her husband, and they make small talk about the day.  Then he confides in her his choice for  the next emperor and the politics involved.  She listens with rapt attention to every word and then says something reassuring.

The advertising executive and his wife are in bed in their modern bedroom in the semi-dark, and just before relaxing to fall asleep, the wife whispers into her husband’s ear, “I love you so.”  A simple and honest statement.  Moved, he kisses her gently on the forehead.  They embrace and make love.  They fall asleep.

The Roman senator and his wife are in bed in their somewhat more Spartan bedroom in the semi-dark, and just before relaxing to fall asleep, the wife whispers into her husband’s ear, “I don’t know how I could live without you.”  She is slightly tearful with all the emotion she is feeling.  They embrace and make love.  They fall asleep.

The advertising executive wakes up with a start before his wife wakes.  With a quizzical expression, he jerks himself up in bed to better inspect the room – he clearly does not recognize anything in the room, for he finds himself in the Roman’s bedroom.  The Roman senator wakes up with a start before his wife wakes.  With a quizzical expression, he jerks himself up in bed to better inspect the room – he clearly does not recognize anything in the room, for his finds himself in the advertising executive’s bedroom.

Both wives awake, but when each faces her altered husband, she doesn’t see anything wrong.  For each wife, he is still her familiar husband, so the wives do not react in any unusual way at all — for them, nothing has changed.  But for the husbands, the two ships passing in the night, everything has.

Your challenge: Finish the story.

9/11 — Coming Down the Stairwell

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