Synopsis for Working Tacoma by Rod Tipton



Working Tacoma is a 93-page feature length screenplay set against the backdrop of The City Tacoma, 1994. The City is focused on the task of cleaning-up it’s image. For the strip club owner, BILLY MIALARET, business has been good. He is planning his second club but there are licensing difficulties. 

Leaving a party, Billy finds his ex-girlfriend Carmen, a former stripper turned prostitute, dead of a heroin overdose in the backseat of his car. Billy feels he is sinking and offers two small-time hustlers, the HARLAN BROTHERS, a thousand dollars to deal with Carmen’s body.

FRANK and RED Harlans’ only resources are an inherited junkyard and jobs picking up corpses from State and County “homes”. The stress of methamphetamines, poverty, and their constant exposure to each other is raising a boil on both of them.

The two remaining women in Billy’s life are at crossroads. It does not take much imagination for GEN, his current girlfriend, to see her fate tied to Carmen’s. ANGEL, a waif from a dead-end mountain town dances at Billy’s club. She is beautiful, fragile, and an easy target for the predators of the sex business. Angel needs protection and everyone who sees her knows this. 

Billy survives by acting in his own self-interest. He will never completely abandon those he’s loved, but he will always stray toward beauty and whoever and whatever makes him feel good.

Driven by a mixture of the need for vengeance and a need to know what happened, Billy searches for the person responsible for Carmen’s death. When the Harlans’ relationship explodes the deadly shockwaves reach out for Billy. 

poetry-excerpts from the book "turn on the lights"

Bar Music

something charming

on the piano

a rolling tune

to make you think

of a small circus

a slender woman

on the rope

agile, balanced

wraps her leg

like a snake

and hangs

in arched glory

at a dangerous height

then snaps and twists

and lowers herself

uncurling her body

onto the stool

next to yours

“bravo” you shout

and quickly check

your wallet

hoping you have enough

to buy her a drink

Hard Times

when it rains gasoline

the fires burn

you become

used to the sight

of cardboard signs

held on the corner

asking for work

and invoking god


or the guy sitting on the grass

blanket pulled over his head

sucking on the urge

to destroy himself

a hundred small cuts

already on his fingers

and hands

his friends are still

by his side and watch

him like he’s on a trapdoor

that’s about to open

they smell the smoke

and feel the flames

but stand fast

and there’s nothing

else they can do

How Fast They Go


the ambulance driving

up the street

has got a neighbor

loaded in back

rolling slow

no swirling lights

no panicked siren 

all the time in the world

a block down

the old folks home

is a constant source 

of late-night visits

a tall building full

of people coming to terms

for them the ‘moment’

is almost over

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Seattle, WA 98107, US