by Carmen Smith, adapted from the novel by Alexander Wisniewski

THE CITY DIFFERENT: is a novel that uses crime to tell a story about a unique but provincial city and its surrounding area, its culture, some of its history, and its politics. Parts of this novel may be considered to be controversial.

Although a work of fiction, much of it is based upon actual events – the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Rebellion in 1967, the unsolved murder of a priest in 1982, the unsolved murders of female tourists in the 1980’s, the drug culture of a nearby community, the 1993 massacre of several people including police officers, and the corrupt politics that had plagued the area for decades. The characters are fictitious, but a few are based upon real people. For the sake of fiction, the murder cases are brought to a conclusion, and the political unrest is broadened to fit the novel.

Though the focus is on the unsolved murders of a priest and female tourists, THE CITY DIFFERENT is a story about the good and the bad of its people, its cultural and social values, its politics, its beauty and its charm.

The city is left in a state of chaos after the brutal murder of a priest is followed by the deaths of female tourists. Are these thrill-kills or serial murders? Uncertainty puzzles state police officials, a female homicide detective, and a district attorney. Complexities set in when the detective and the district attorney become lovers. They increase when she comes to suspect him of being part of at least one of the crimes.

Meanwhile, a power-seeking separatist is vying for the mayor’s seat. A powerful state senator known to sanction illicit drug deals supports him, and the outcome of the mayoral race could affect the political and cultural make-up of the city. A middle-aged businessman and an elder represent the conscience of the city and philosophy in general. One does it by his deeds and his opinions, and the other through his experience and by simple wisdom. Through the elder, a brief history of the area is given.

MAIN CHARACTERS (Author's Descriptions)

SAM DAWES: Mid 40’s. Originally a Mid-Westerner, medium height and weight, brown hair & blue, more or less a modern-day Brad Pitt. Tireless and carrying worker, faithful to his beliefs and to the people he likes.

EDUARDO “CAP” GUITERREZ: Mid 30s Latino, about 5’11”, solidly built, black hair and deep brown eyes. Tends to be quiet and a good listener, very intelligent, caring, family-oriented, a good leader. Quietly commands respect and gives it. Always a neat appearance.

MIKE SHANNON: 40ish, about 5’10”, slightly barrel-chested, shaved head, brown eyes. Can be mellow. Always quick-witted, sometimes to make a point. A ‘Brooklyn’ air about him which says “Let’s get things done!” Cares about people but will not hold back in telling them off. There is no starchiness in his appearance or in his manner.

JOSEPH “JO JO” ARRAGON: Latino, wavy black hair, round face and body, 50’s, average height but slightly heavy. Ambitious. Antsy. Believes in his culture and ‘his’ people. Does not like outsiders. A civic leader and a multi-business owner, a modified separatist who wants to become mayor and eventually see his people control at least the northern part of New Mexico. Always dresses in southwest attire – jeans, shirt with a bolo tie, and sometimes A hat. Will compromise, even with people he dislikes if he gets what he wants.

RUBEN GONZALES: An aging high ranking politician in his mid-seventies. Close to six feet, thin long face. Always alert to everything political, has his hands in illegal drugs and other things but is well organized and has others get their hands dirty for him. Likes cigars. Will support a separatist movement if he benefits from it.

TOMMY TRUJILLO: Always at the side of Ruben Gonzales, and is the latter’s sounding board. A bit portly and in his sixties. Loyal. Tends to be a heavy cigarette smoker.

ALEX DOMBROWSKI: Ex-Brooklyn, New Yorker, in his mid-40’s to early 50’s, slight build, brown hair, and eyes. Small business pest control owner. Intelligent and opinionated. Not afraid to let someone take the lead, but will act on his own when necessary. Lives a moderate but comfortable life. Has his own respectable ethics and values, and follows his conscience. Is sometimes referred to as “The Professor” because of his opinions.

ELOI VALDEZ: Older frail man in his eighties who lives next door to Alex. A life-long New Mexican who has seen and experienced a lot there. He represents a conscience for NM, and through him, we get a bit of its history.

WILLIAM JOHNSON: A tall lanky ex-Chicagoan who has adopted Santa Fe to make money with his illegal dealings. He is close to Ruben Gonzales with business and will donate to JoJo's mayoral run with the expectation of gaining a city permit to erect an art gallery.

FRANCESCA MADRID: A native of Albuquerque and a police sergeant who transfers to SFPD to escape sexual harassment within her local department. Dark hair with brown eyes, about 5’6, slim. Sharp minded and detail-oriented. Does not have a love interest until she meets Sam.

MARCO TESSA: An average Santa Fean who is a captain on the SFPD. He’s Francesca’s boss and allows free reign on different murder investigations.

EMILIO BACA: About 5’8”, lean, in his late twenties/early thirties. Basically a small-ranch boy who was In a local community college. Strongly anti-Anglo and is a separatist. Has a large secret to guard.

JESUS BACA: About 5’10”, a combatant’s body, and an irrational mind. He is a follower unless he is alone, then he acts in tough and violent ways. He is in a way Steinbeck’s George with Emilio being Lenny. The difference is that he acts more out of rage as opposed to feebleness. He does love and respects his brother.

MARY ELIZABETH ARRAGON: JoJo’s wife in her forties. Comes from a fairly wealthy background. Although she supports her husband, she is not afraid to criticize or even mock him if she deems it necessary.

EVONNE ARRAGON: JoJo’s younger daughter. Average height but with the body of a female wrestler. Despite her opportunities, she is basically uneducated and jumps from job to job. Follows her father’s beliefs. Is foul-mouthed and not normally attractive. Determined that she’ll do it her way regardless of the outcome. Becomes close to the Baca brothers and shares secrets.

YOLANDA ARRAGON: The older sister of Evonne and has the same kind of appearance. She is more docile, and she allows her sister to lead her. She is drawn to Jesus Baca in a platonic relationship.

DENNIS PARDON: Native American who lives within the city of Santa Fe. In his 40’s. Average height and weight. Shares beers and conversations with Mike, Sam, and Alex at a local bar.


ONE: ‘Father Midnight’ Father John Carrol Serrano is brutally murdered out in a snowstorm while going to give comfort to a dying man. His murder goes unsolved. Then Sam Dawes is elected DA. A bachelor married to the job, Dawes has more than the priest's murder to contend with – there is the string of killings of female tourists, as well as the recent assassination of the former mayor, Philipe Chavez, who championed for the indigenous culture and harbored racist feelings toward Anglos. A registered Democrat who ran as an independent, Dawes also has to deal with the politics involved with the position he now holds, in addition to the gangs, crime, and other issues the city faced. Then there is Captain Eduardo ‘Cap’ Guiterrez. He dearly wants to solve the Father's murder. Joseph Aragon is another story entirely – he's committed to saving his people from what he believes is the bondage of capitalism, a la Che Guevara, whose writings he's studied. A former Tan Panther, a group founded in the mid-70s and patterned after the Black Panthers, Aragon is dedicated to equal rights for his people. JoJo, as he's called, wants to run for mayor and he's determined to win, as such a victory would enable him to get his separatist views out in the open where it would gain more support. Little does he know that there are those who wish to use him to further their own agenda.

TWO: ‘The City Indifferent’ Alex Dombrowski is encouraged to run for school board by one of his clients. But he's hesitant due to the influence of JoJo Aragon, whose disdain for those who don't share his heritage is well known. Then there is the murder of Georgina Becaud, who makes the mistake of stopping in Santa Fe on her way to Los Angeles for a new job. Detective Sergeant Francesca Madrid is new to the SFPD – she hails from Albuquerque – yet rather than transitioning more slowly to her work environment, she is thrust into this sad case. Francesca meets with Cap and the others to go over the case, along with other female tourist killings. At a pub later, one of the cops – Mike Shannon – along with Dawes and Dombrowski, has a conservation during which Dombrowski relates what he went through on a pest control call late at night. And one of JoJo's children – his son, Thomaz – has been arrested for a DUI. This could hurt his campaign, of which his daughters immediately remind him. Their mother begs to differ. We take care of our own, is her motto.

THREE: ‘Among Friends’. JoJo's supporters – after an offer of ten grand to his campaign from big city William 'Bill' Johnson, an Anglo despised by JoJo – encourage the mayoral candidate to get his son Thomaz to plead guilty to the drunk driving charge, as they feel this will make him look better in the eyes of the people. An elderly man, Emmanuel Montoya, is threatened by three younger males while out fishing. Montoya, an outsider in a city that abhors them, has plans to launch a new political party and there are those who are not exactly thrilled by this notion. A Sergeant Cruz is dispatched to handle Montoya's complaint, but he does little to ease the old man's mind; indeed, his attitude is one of blithe dismissal. Mike and his wife Teri throw a dinner party – an Italian feast, even though he's Irish American – and those present (Cap, Dawes, Francesca.) get into a discussion on a few of the goings-on in Santa Fe, including the drug dealing. Enter the Baca brothers, Emilio and Jesus. The latter has beat a Mexican illegal into a coma, and the consequences of the former fear from that. They are both avid admirers of Antonio Jose Mondragon, whose desire for a Hispanic nation is in line with their own. Along with JoJo's daughters Evonne and Yolanda, they talk of one day having a land to call their own. JoJo himself is a supporter of Mondragon, and there are others who have him in their thoughts too, though Ruben Gonzales sees the man as more of a threat than an idol.

FOUR: 'Another Murder' Mike Shannon interrogates a Native man on a reservation, about the Serrano case and is handed a stole that a Hispanic female may have given the man. Shannon thinks the stole may have belonged to Father Serrano. Sam Dawes and Francesca Madrid have a brunch date, and then a stroll around downtown Santa Fe while Dawes shows her the sights of the city. Later, the two meet to talk about the Serrano case, and the electricity between them is undeniable. Then a woman named Karen Daughtrey, visiting with family in the area, is relaxing at a spa. She is suddenly attacked from behind by an unseen person, and though she fights with the attacker, Karen loses the battle eventually. Even though the homicide is not a 'city matter', Francesca is invited to the crime scene by Shannon, and is allowed to have a look at the body. They compare the two tourists' deaths, part ways. Shannon goes into the office, where he has a discussion with Guiterrez about a couple of dope busts and Ruben, whom they both hope to nail for his dealing of illicit drugs. A meeting is held during which citizens voice their displeasure that law enforcement is not doing their job, and Cap reminds that they, even as civilians, must do what they can as individuals to remedy the problems the area faces. What Cap says enrages the Baca brothers, who attend the meeting, but they do agree that they must distance themselves from those who are selling drugs in the community. Emilio admonishes Jesus too, about telling everything that the brothers do. They are on the verge of a revolution, and he doesn't anything to screw that up.

FIVE: 'Cathouses & Spiders' Dombowski and Shannon, with fellow barhoppers, have their fun at the pub, playing darts, drinking, and of course, shooting the shit about women and brown recluse spiders. Dawes and Francesca have become lovers, and spend more time together than apart. They speak of past relationships while affirming their commitment to each other, at least for the time being. Joseph Aragon is incensed about the way things are going, and especially an article written by some 'ignorant' reporter who lauds Anthony Duran, one of his opponents, while taking jabs at Aragon about suppressing his own people, being a racist, and ‘a disrupter of civility, peace, and harmony’. Aragon is consoled by Sheriff Tico Talavera and Magistrate Judge Julio Maestas, as well as Ruben Gonzales. Aragon is quite pleased when he receives even more good news from the judge… Then his daughter Evonne comes home with a young man dying to meet him - Emilio Baca. Emilio pledges his admiration and support for Aragon, which is all JoJo needs to hear. He is happy that his daughter has finally brought home a man who is not a waste. But Aragon's not happy later when he approaches a well kept mobile home during a house to house 'tour' of his constituents. The man behind the screen door lights into him for preaching separatism, racist ideals, comparing Aragon to Hitler, Bin Laden, and the like. The mayoral candidate is stunned, and leaves eventually but not before the irate man gets in the final word.

SIX: 'Moi chevalier sans peur et ians reproche' Mariachi music blares as JoJo Aragon gets ready to address the crowd at a rally, and he's a bit surprised when his daughters show up, with the brothers Baca… Aragon is not interested in French-speaking followers – they should speak Spanish! He breaks away to give his speech, noting the many Anglo faces in the crowd which sways him into giving the speech in English rather than Espanol. JoJo gives his speech, and the crowd listens with enthusiasm. Francesca interviews several officers who worked on the cases before her, including some that have retired and one who was terminated. This Manny Madrid – no relation to Francesca – tells her of a suspect they had, one Chuck Gentry of Texas. Allegedly, Gentry had made overtures to Julie Fletcher, one of the victims, and she'd turned him down. He could have murdered her in retaliation. Jake Sarabia is off on vacation, so she can't speak to him. When she tries to get with Jim Webber, he is rather hostile and even makes sexist remarks to the woman detective. He lets her know in no uncertain terms that he was resented because he was a 'white guy from back East', and that she won't solve the cases because her fellow officers will treat her just as badly because she's a woman. Matt Abeyta, on the other hand, gives Francesca a bit of information that she finds very interesting and useful. Cap and Shannon discuss the stole, and what the implications are to the Serrano case – whether or not the woman who gave it to Cornelius Toohey was involved

SEVEN & EIGHT: ‘Love & Games’ and 'Busted' In the final two episodes, there is more romantic interplay between Dawes and Francesca that should take up at least half of one episode. Dombrowski, Shannon, and their friends play darts and discuss Aragon, the cases, and politics – including Dombrowski's favoring Libertarianism. He gives his buddies a long discourse on republicanism, democracy, Socrates, ancient Greece, modern politicians, and the elite. With the final episode of the season, at a celebratory party hosted by Bill Johnson, he is busted by the DEA – this is a shocking development for the wealthy businessman as well as his guests. State Police Chief Ebner is not happy that his office wasn't informed of the bust beforehand, and the way things had to go down has to be explained to him by DEA lead agent John Dorset, as well as Cap and Shannon. JoJo freaks out when he learns of the bust and has to be reassured by Gonzales that this won't affect Aragon and his chances for becoming mayor. Two drug dealers (apparently they'd worked for Johnson) are shot, their bodies set afire in their vehicle, by a pair of snipers and this act brings Season One to an end.

SEASON TWO & FRANCHISE POTENTIAL: One unique structure of The City Different is that the novel has enough going on where it can be divided into at least two seasons, and the story can keep going through many more seasons with the cast of characters introduced by the novel. Even though the goings-on within the novel will conclude with Season Two, that does not mean the storytelling has to end. Murder is an ongoing problem, in Santa Fe or any other city. Season Two will revolve around the last couple of chapters of the novel, and perhaps even bring more stories during the latter half of the season. Because this show will be a typical hour-length teleplay, there is the potential for several seasons' worth of interplay between the various characters that the novel gives birth to.