Don Gately's Books & Screenplays
"Daddy, tell me a story". There was a time, not so long ago, when that was a bedtime ritual. The story often started with "Once upon a time..." When I grew up, I thought, that's what I want to do - tell stories. Only my stories would be for grown-ups.
When I was working for Yamaha (motorcycles) in the mid-sixties, Bill Quinn, the publisher of CYCLE GUIDE, gave me an opportunity to write a monthly column for the magazine. We decided the title of my column would be OVER THE HANDLEBARS. Some of my monthly stories turned out to be short stories, and eventually I sold other short stories to other motorcycle magazines. I loved it - seeing something that came out of my imagination in print for others to share.
Then, in 1975, my friend Sud, offered to publish a collection of the best of my musings in book form, and so OVER THE HANDLEBARS, the book, was born. In 2006, I upgraded it, adding more stories and articles, and that book is now available from Amazon.com.
Having a book published encouraged me to write more stories. Maybe I could become a successful novelist or screenwriter.
My first effort was a novel about motorcycle racing in the 1960s on the American Motorcycle Association's championship series. At first, I called it 'LET IT ALL HANG OUT", which was an expression of riders going all out at that time. But my agent didn't like it, so we came up with the title "THE NEXT BEST THING TO SEX". The idea was that motorcycle racing was the next best thing to sex. Besides, the novel had plenty of sex.
That one didn't sell, so I decided to write another one. That turned out to be A WAY WITH WOMEN, which was the tale of an unscrupulous rogue who went from short order cook in Missassippi to the head of an advertising agency in Los Angeles by using women. This book has many sexual passages - because I can fantasize about living the life of my protagonist, and because I enjoy writing about sex.
I went on to write six screenplays, all described below. The bottom line is, I am getting old and I am still waiting to be discovered and to become rich and famous, but even if I never sell anything more, writing is its own reward. I no longer have to say "Daddy, tell me a story", because I can create one for myself.
So, let me tell you about these two books and six screenplays.
The next best thing to sex - First a novel, then a screenplay
“THE NEXT BEST THING TO SEX” is a novel I wrote a long time ago. It is about motorcycle racing, which lots of guys (and a few gals) consider to be the next best thing to sex. Having been a life long motorcyclist, and having worked in the industry for a few years - during the 60s, I believe this is a pretty authentic story of how things really were, and although it is fiction, some of the incidents described are based on actual events.
Here is a brief idea of what it is about:
Deacon Rhodes and Jerry Klien are partners in a Harley-Davidson shop in Los Angeles during the sexy sixties. Best friends since they raced against each other as teens, they embark on a round-the-country journey to compete in the American Motorcycle Association’s national championship series.
They’re “privateers” who must pay their own expenses while racing against
factory sponsored riders.
The “circuit” they compete in consists of both road racing, such as the famous Daytona Beach race, and dirt track racing, epitomized by the mile race in Sacramento. There are short track races, TT races, flat track events - and in order to score high in the overall standings, a rider must be proficient in all of them. Scoring high enough by season’s end could mean a “factory ride” the next year.
Barely out of California on their way east, they pick up Karen in Las Vegas and persuade her to travel with them. What they don’t know is that Karen is a run-away teenager. Immediately, a competition develops between the two buddies for Karen’s love.
Along the way - drugs, wild parties, impromptu midnight races through city streets, skinny dipping, an outlaw gang, a race in the brand new sport of motocross, and a detective hunting for Karen.
A WAY WITH WOMEN - FIRST THE NOVEL, THEN THE SCREENPLAY
A Way With Women
It’s the “sexy sixties” – a time of change. The birth control pill, “free love”, “hippies”, communes, war protests, folks singers and protest songs, drugs, nude beaches, civil rights demonstrations.
Rob White is out to savor it all. He’s a short order cook in Mississippi who “borrows” money from an older woman, a paramour, to move to California, promising to send for her as soon as he is settled.
Hitchhiking to California, he meets three hippies who invite him to join them in their commune. He does, and discovers a world of drugs, free love and nude beaches. While there, he meets Trudy, a flight attendant, and they decide to move into an apartment at a singles building together.
Rob and Trudy have a stormy romance. While she is out of town, Rob dallies with a married neighbor.
Rob lands a job as a “shagger”, delivering type and art to advertising agencies. By charming a secretary, and lying about his background, he lands a job at the agency where she works. Then, by becoming a lover to a client, an older woman, his career at the agency advances. Eventually, he marries the boss’s daughter, who he does not love, and moves to the head of the agency.
An affair with his baby sitter, results in her pregnancy, and is the beginning of his downfall.
While driving drunk, Rob is in an accident and a woman is killed. He goes to prison for a short while. When he is released, no one in the Los Angeles advertising community will give him a job. So, he reverts to a job “shagging”, where he meets a vulnerable, lonely woman charms her. Obviously, Rob is up to his old tricks – after all, he has always had “a way with women”
HIKERS - my latest screenplay
Jan, a timid nurse, and Marilyn, an adventurous teacher, in their . twenties and single, go for a hike in the mountains near Los Angeles, without telling anyone where they are going or when they will return.
The weather turns bad – a blinding storm, cold rain. They become lost and must take shelter against a tree for the night. Coyotes come and scare Marilyn but Jan drives them away by throwing rocks at them.
In the morning, still lost, they strike out. They encounter a rattlesnake that scares Marilyn but Jan assures her they are not in danger.
Motorcyclists pass nearby. Jan and Marilyn jump and shout, trying to attract the bikers’ attention. But, in the frenzy of the moment, Jan loses her balance and falls off a steep cliff. Marilyn tries to reach her but cannot. In the effort, Jan falls further down the cliff. Marilyn must go for help. She marks the trail on her way, hoping it will help her find the way back.
Marilyn comes across Clay, who is growing marijuana, and asks him for help. He refuses and restrains her, waiting for his older brother, Charlie, to return so they can decide what to do with her.
Charlie, more evil, more desperate, a two-time prisoner, who faces 25 years in prison if he is arrested again, tells Clay they must kill Marilyn because she can identify them. If they let her go their names and descriptions will be on wanted posters all over the country.
A coworker of Jan’s worries about her because she has not shown up for work. She reports her missing. Later, a ranger finds Jan’s vehicle and the search and rescue team is brought in. Jan’s boyfriend, Kevin, a doctor, who is in Mammoth on a ski trip, learns that she is missing from a TV newscast and rushes to aid in the search.
With the help of volunteers and a dog, Jan is found. She is unconscious on a small shelf, old snow accumulated on her. A daring rescue by the sheriff’s helicopter crew saves her. She is rushed to a hospital, Kevin at her side.
Meanwhile, Clay stops Charlie from killing Marilyn by shooting him in the foot. Then, taking Marilyn with him, he drives madly to a hospital to save Charlie’s life. He leaves Charlie there.
Charlie’s foot is amputated. Jan recovers from a broken leg and other injuries. Clay keeps Marilyn prisoner, where she overhears him on the telephone telling his sister he will meet Charlie at an uncle’s house. Clay leaves Marilyn tied hand and foot and gagged to go out for food. But there has been a blackout and the motel has left a candle for light. Marilyn bravely, and painfully, burns the ropes off and escapes.
Marilyn visits Jan in the hospital – a wonderful surprise for Jan, who thought she was dead. Here, Marilyn meets Don, a handsome, charming doctor.
Charlie and Clay meet to sell the marijuana but in a fit of revenge, Charlie shoots Clay and leaves him for dead. Police have staked out the uncle’s home, follow Charlie and arrest him when he sells the marijuana. Clay recovers.
Jan and Kevin, and Marilyn and Don have a double wedding in the mountains.
My First Screenplay - ROBERTO
Although this would undoubtedly be controversial after Arizona's law concerning illegal immigrants, when I wrote it this was not so much of a problem. I wrote it, and still think of it, as a love story.
Roberto is a semi‑literate but brilliant young peasant in southern Mexico who yearns to ernigrate to the United States. But when his older brother is dying, Roberto promises to take care of the brother's wife and children, preventing him from leaving his village.
Roberto marries the widow and accepts responsibility as head of the family.
But in time, an opportunity presents itself to go to America. Roberto strikes out on foot, promising to send money and eventually send for the family.
Roberto soon meets Victor, another young man intent on a new life in California. They quickly become close friends. When they reach the border they enlist the service of a "coyote" ‑ a man who will help them illegally cross the border.
After an unsuccessful attempt, and with most of their meager funds gone, Roberto and Victor try again. This time, Victor is shot and killed by Ku Klux Klan members, who were only intending to scare them.
Finally, Roberto succeeds. While hitch‑hiking, he is given a ride by a sympathetic Mexican‑American, Don. Don takes Roberto to his home in the San Fernando Valley, feeds and shelters him, and refers him to a friend on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley who gives him a job.
Roberto meets Delores, the Mexican‑American daughter of the foreman (Don's friend). She is engaged to a well‑to‑do caucasian lawyer, but is attracted to Roberto. He is eager to learn English, and she was educated to be a teacher. She offers to tutor him.
Roberto makes an extraordinary effort to learn English, going to the library every night after long hours in the fields.
Roberto and Delores fall in love. Against her parents' strong opposition, she breaks up with the lawyer and moves in with Roberto.
Roberto becomes a leader among the farm workers, joins Cesar Chavez's union and is on a fast track to become a leader with Chavez.
A plague hits Roberto's village. His father dies. His wife is deathly ill. Forced to choose between the woman he loves and his duty to his family and village in Mexico, Roberto must return to his village.
He resumes his life as the head of the family and tries to forget Delores. After some time, his wife has a relapse and dies.
Delores shows up at his farm. The village priest had written her of Roberto's wife's death. She says Cesar Chavez wants to arrange for Roberto and his two stepchildren to become American citizens. Then she introduces Roberto to his strongest reason to return to California ‑ their son. The entire population of the village attend their wedding, performed by the village priest.
EXTREME FUN - My Only Effort at Comedy
Greedy politicians want to turn city land into a dump. Motocross riders place garbage there to convince citizens that would be a mistake.
To show how much fun their sport can be - for spectators as well as participants - the motocrossers stage a race in which anyone and everyone can participate - even the oldest, and youngest, riders with the funkiest contraptions to be found. Those citizens who attend, love the spectacle.
The politicians bring outlaw motorcyclists to town to convince citizens bikers are undesirable, but the citizens end up liking the bikers.
To raise money to keep the field open for motocross and other extreme sports, the motocrossers put on a naked moonlight motorcycle ride.
The politicians hold a town rally to present their proposal for a dump, but the motocrossers slip marijuana into the refreshments. The townspeople get high and the rally is a failure.
The football coach realizes extreme sports could bring much needed revenue to the town and joins forces with the motocross group.
Other extreme sports participants join in the effort to have a true extreme sports venue. A major event is held, attracting top pros from all over the country. Enough money is raised to build a new senior center.
TRADE OFF - A screenplay
Todd Wilson is an outstanding high school athlete. He plays quarterback and his coaches consider him to be “the next John Elway”. His parents, professions who spend little time with their children, assume he will go to college and pursue his football career on into the pros.
Todd has a different plan. He loves the brand new sport of snowboarding (in 1984) and is determined to forego college and become a professional snowboarder. His grandfather believes having a passion for what you want to do in life is the most important thing, and agrees to lend Todd enough money to chase his dream.
Todd gets his girlfriend, Wendy, pregnant. Still intent on his goal of becoming a professional snowboarder, he works two jobs - one for her father, one for his grandfather - and they live with her parents to save money.
At a ski show, Todd meets Sharon, a very attractive young woman who works for a ski and snowboard clothing manfacturer. They are attracted to one another, but he passes on the opportunity to bed down with her, preferring to remain faithful to Wendy.
After years of struggle, and two children, Todd finally lands a spot on a pro team. But by now, because of the amount of time he has had to spend traveling, and because he has not made money from the sport, his marriage is in trouble.
When one of his team mates is paralyzed, Wendy begs Todd to drop his career, get a job at home, and spend time with and their kids. But Todd refuses. He has finally started to reach his goal and won’t quit now.
Wendy begins an affair with Todd’s best friend. Todd meets Sharon again and this time they do go to bed.
Todd is injured and loses his position on the team. The company offers him a desk job. Wendy wants a divorce because she is now in love with Todd’s best friend.
At an office Christmas party, Todd looks at his trophies, a picture of him on a magazine cover, the memories of his days of stardom, then looks at a picture of Wendy and the children. He has reached his goal of stardom and now it is gone. Fame is fleeting. And the trade-off was losing the woman he loves and his children.
As an alternative, if a happy ending is preferred, Wendy tires of her romance and Todd returns home. They begin to rekindle their lost love.
OVER THE HANDLEBARS
If you enjoy nostagia, and if you like motorcycles, you would probaby enjoy my book, OVER THE HANDLEBARS, First published in 1975, then updated and enlarged in 2006, it is a collection of short stories and articles about all aspects of motorcycling. It is available from Amazon.com. I also have written two other books about motorcycling availalbe from Amazon.com. You can read all 3 of them on your computer for just $2.99 each. Go to motorcyclenostalgia.com.