The Checkerboard Wars

February 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

T H E    C H E C K E R B O A R D    W A R S

Screenplay by Marcus Allen Steele


Kids’ VOICES, LAUGHING and JOKING. Drawers and cupboards OPENING and CLOSING, the CLINK of a knife in peanut butter and jelly jars. Bread EMANCIPATED from cellophane, PLOPPED in a toaster. Plates and glasses SET on the table. A refrigerator door exuberantly SLAMMED shut.




A whirlwind of movement. Three children prepare their lunch. SARAH and SAM PACER, 13 and 12, are sister and brother who actually get a kick out of one another. They’re white. KATE, 13, the last of the fearsome threesome, is Sarah’s best friend. She’s black. They all sit down.


Sammy, let Kate grab the first one.

Sam is reaching, but stops short.


I’m starving.

(to Sam)

You must have worms.


It’s okay Sarah, you go first.


Awright already. Where’s the juice?


I got it.

Sam heads for the refrigerator…

FATHER (O.S. – off screen)

Sam! Get your butt in here.

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The End of Man

April 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

T H E  E N D  O F  M A N

Screenplay by Marcus Allen Steele


When I decided to post my screenplay The End of Man for this blog, I was asked if I had any experience writing screenplays.

For a short time I lived in Hollywood living the life of a starving artist. During that period, I wrote my first screenplay. Ultimately, that effort landed me representation by the head literary agent at one of the top agencies in the world. And in time, we had an Academy-award winning producer attached to make my movie. But it never got made–typical–and I needed to get back to work. Therein the tale of many who try to make a go in a brutal business.

But I have to admit I miss those creative moments of linking scenes to ultimately tell a story.


So what is The End of Man about? Within the context of a murder mystery, I touch upon important issues of our time–geopolitical intrigue, fanaticism, space exploration, war,  and Middle Eastern oil dependency among others.

But most importantly, this is one man’s journey. Our hero, who’s spiritually bankrupt in the beginning, develops a spiritual awareness as the plot progresses. As events unfold and he encounters the genius of God, he ultimately becomes a man of faith.

How long does it take to read a screenplay? It’s actually equivalent to watching the movie itself–less than two hours.

A few administrative notes. A screenplay is a succession of scenes. The scenes are either exterior (EXT.) or interior (INT.) and they identify a location. Every now and then you’ll see an abbreviation in the scene, when first presented I’ll define it. Within the scene there’s narrative and dialogue. The narrative has its own concise way of furthering the story but the character dialogue is the driver.

So stick with me on this experiment–this movie wrapped in a blog–you might be surprised.

I hope you enjoy THE END OF MAN



A rock formation rises up two hundred feet from the barren white ice. An accumulation of snow over the ages has nestled against one side creating a gentle slope. At the top of the slope are two men. One is carefully pointing a sled downhill.

The other man isn’t helping. He’s sitting on a snowmobile adjusting the hood on his jacket. Although it’s sunny, he’s cold, the temperature a minus 10 degrees F.

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Out of control–in stormy instrument flight conditions with broken navigation gear, overwhelmed by vertigo not knowing up from down and plummeting toward the concrete ocean–Diamond knew how this was going to end.

AV8 Aerial Refueling - USMCIt was an impossible situation. He would crash into the Pacific 1,500 miles away from family and home. In the best situation, his “tombstone” would be scattered debris from a Harrier jet; flotsam for a bar-tailed godwit to perch and rest on his own transpacific journey from New Zealand to Alaska.


To a rookie naval aviator, Diamond seemed larger than life. I have one standout memory. My squadron had participated in a major air combat exercise near Las Vegas and a group of us Marines decided to feast on the garish temptations along the Vegas strip. Later on that evening, we ran into Diamond at Caesar’s Palace.

He was a distinguished combat veteran, the squadron’s operations officer and was loudly exhorting the dice as they tumbled across the green felt of the craps table. Wearing a silk shirt, drinking his fair share, sweating the yet to be revealed number and chatting up the blonde to his side, he was a piece of work. A terrific fighter pilot but a wild man nonetheless. I didn’t know him well but he could have been a character out of The Great Santini.

He was complex, no doubt, and driven by what, who knows, but it wasn’t God.

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Radical Surrender

August 11, 2013 — 3 Comments

Yep, I’m guilty of staring into space. Why? Because I spend a lot of time wandering around the maze of my mind picking up relics of memories.

CumulusI blow the dust off, feel their weight in my hands and try to imagine the emotions, smells and circumstances that might have accompanied their placement in my archives. In many cases, it can be quite fun–this daydreaming.

My God, those moments playing hide and seek at 25,000 feet in the billows of cumulus were other worldly. But then, under a stack of pleasantness, I occasionally find recollections that are just plain bad. Truly awful. And I’m reminded of how trying life can be.

It really is a test.

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Dead Baby Talking

July 5, 2013 — 10 Comments

A poem. A song. A scream toward heaven. Anything, something. A way for me to communicate the sorrow and shame I feel for the monumental regret of my life.

Dear child, if only I could sacrifice the god of I to the God of Mercy who is blessedly with you, comforting you. To bring you back. On behalf of all those who killed innocence in the womb.


You are my father and you abandoned me. Why?

“You weren’t important. I had other priorities. Hell, you weren’t even a ‘you’.”

But I am, you know. We all are. It’s undeniable.

“That, dear love, was an inconvenient truth that I couldn’t handle.”

I was inconvenient?

“You were responsibility, commitment, disruption, expensive, awkward, burdensome, enslaving. Unwanted things.”

And my mother felt the same way?



“I don’t know what your mother was thinking. I’m only assuming. I barely knew her.”

I don’t understand.

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A Father’s Outrage

April 13, 2013 — 1 Comment

I’m still in the process of getting used to a new job, new city and new life. So my blogging life has slowed considerably. But I expect to be able to pick it up in earnest soon. I have so much to be thankful for and my gratitude is primarily directed toward God. As well as some folks who are in my prayers.

A friend of mine shared a letter with me that no doubt represents the concerns of many fathers. I’d like to share parts of it. His anguish is real and heartfelt but very well articulated. He’s clearly identified one of America’s many problems that are emblematic of our decline.

He wrote the letter to the president of USC.

I am a Trojan (BS Business ’86), a self-made entrepreneur, father of four children and a freedom loving American who employs 50 people in California and Arizona, who earned his way through USC on the way to earning an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In our polarized world of real-time politics streaming from every digital means, I could not help but to read the news story (see weblink below) concerning political science Professor Sragow from my alma mater.

On a busy day at the office where we are struggling to find productive investments in a slow growth economy in the least competitive State in the United States in order to provide opportunity for our teammates and positive returns for ourselves and our investors, I wish I had not read and heard what I did but I encourage you to do the same. My love of liberty, freedom of thought and expression and my heartfelt desire for my children to have the opportunity that I did to get a phenomenal education and become great citizens and independent thinkers motivates me to write to you today. What I heard from the mouth of a professor and a military veteran (for which I have great respect) was nothing short of stupefying and endemic of our no-holds-barred world of unchecked temerity, devoid of intellectual curiosity.

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The duality of life never ceases to amaze me. We live in a universe of good and evil where virtue and savagery constantly compete for man’s passion. As a child, a tarantula frightened me yet it’s a flawlessly engineered creation.

Cross and MeadowAnd most remarkably, in God’s plan for man’s salvation, He walked among us as the Incarnate Word nevertheless He was rejected, vilified and mocked by scores.

His reward as the Redeemer was crucifixion.

I’m in my favorite leather chair, my legs and feet comfortably resting on the ottoman. My dog Lani is positioned as usual, snuggled between my legs. I’m looking out at the spectacular vista beyond my windows. I love these moments with her. They’ll be part of my memory forever.

She stirs and moves to another of her favorite locations, the couch. She looks over at me for an okay and climbs on up. Three spins, situating herself perfectly, her eyes rolling back in her head, my beautiful black Lab slowly exhales and sleeps.

The quiet allows me to think. I seem to be on two paths; survival in this world and preparing for the next. I guess one could technically prepare for Hell, but I’m aiming more North. To be with Him.

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The Journey Continues

March 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

Hi folks. This will be brief.

I have a new job in Northern California and I’m very excited about this next stage of life. I also can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for all the wonderful people who have prayed for me. It’s been a tough road but a necessary one.

It will take me a bit of time to get acclimated but I will start-up my regular blogging shortly. See you soon.

May God bless all of you!