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The Fool's Errand

Year: 2017

Synopsis: George Dickerson’s fictional screenplay of his real life experiences in Beirut is based in part on the author’s own short story, “The Man Who Loved Butterflies” (first published in Penthouse, Dec.1985). It is a drama of a lost era that explores the sometimes comic, often tragic, exploits of an American trying to adapt and survive in an Arab garden of sensual delights.

The last thing Eric Johnson expected was to find himself kidnapped, pulled from his car by a Lebanese gunman and held hostage in a mud-brick hut. Eric had gone with his wife and young son to a peaceful Beirut in 1973 on what he thought was a humanitarian mission working as Head of Press and Publications for UNRWA, the UN agency that provides aid for refugees. Then it turned dark.

The Lebanese Civil War erupts in April 1975. Shocked that he would be assigned to security detail to help protect the lives of 2000 UN staff and family in Beirut, at first it seemed a lark-- he would merely assess the course of the fighting and drink with his journalist buddies. When asked to investigate why one of UNRWA’s architects was bayoneted to death, Eric is suddenly drawn into the very texture of the war. Soon he finds himself caught in fierce fighting with gunmen in an attempt to free hostages, develops his own espionage ring of informants, is shadowed by the PLO, and enmeshed in the machinations of an old friend’s C.I.A exploits. Meanwhile, Eric is haunted by a past love-- a mysterious Palestinian guerrilla leader-- and is bedeviled by a free-spirited young Irish journalist who threatens his marriage. Far from the humanitarian mission expected, Eric discovers in Beirut a place where a kind of madness is the norm.

Escaping his kidnappers and his romantic entanglements, Eric returns to the U.S. But upon arriving discovers no safe home-- he cannot escape the war that still rages within and the blood lust he discovers inside himself. Interrogated by the CIA and struggling to emotionally reconnect with his family, Eric is forced to face the culmination of his madness--nightly stalking the woods of his family’s Connecticut hideaway, Eric plots to ambush a killer he believes is coming for revenge. Ultimately, a final confrontation brings unexpected salvation to a man in desperate search for light in the dark maze of his soul.
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