A Cinematic Affair

Scottsdale's Steven McKay is an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter. His legal war with an ex-lover is as melodramatic as any B-movie.

Cut to McKay at home. He walks outside to get the mail. Camera zooms to a bill from the rental-car company. McKay walks inside, calls Meyers.

Split screen: McKay on the phone in his central Scottsdale home; Meyers on his car phone.

McKay: "Now, this car thing?"
Meyers: "Stop paying the fucking car, okay?"
McKay: "Because it expires on the eighth--"

Meyers: "Stop paying the fucking car. . . . We got a settlement now. Fuck her. Okay?"

McKay: "Okay. Bye."
Meyers: "Bye."

Cut to Baum's courtroom, April 1995.
This case is not over, Baum tells McKay.
Because the Jeep Cherokee was purchased after Caperonis filed for bankruptcy, it is not included in the settlement.

The case will now be sent back to state court, where the issue of the Jeep Cherokee--along with McKay's other postbankruptcy acquisitions--will be settled.

Then the judge announces he is holding McKay in contempt of court--and sanctioning him $1,000--for failing to make payments on the rental car.

Cut to McKay on the phone with Meyers, asking him to admit his mistake to Judge Baum. Meyers refuses. McKay fires Meyers.

Cut to close-up of first page of a lawsuit: Burch and Cracchiolo suing McKay for $27,000 in legal fees the firm alleges he has not paid.

Scene 16: A chorus of lawyers.

A dozen white men, dressed in dark suits, white oxford shirts and muted ties, stand in front of a wall of lawbooks, holding folders--as if in a choir.

One lifts his hand, as a cue, and together they sing, robustly,"No-oh-oh-oh-oh Commmmmennnnt."

The scene goes to black.

Scene 17: McKay sitting at his kitchen table, legal documents strewn around, a chunk of bialy left on the plate before him.

So that, he says, is my story.
Now, he tells the camera, Caperonis' lawsuit against him has been moved back to Maricopa County Superior Court. Just days ago, he received the latest word from the court: He still must pay for the rental car.

McKay picks up a document from the kitchen table and reads: "The court finds that any inequities which flow to defendant as a result of the amount of expense incurred are a result of defendant's decision to remove this matter to federal court."

McKay slaps the papers onto the table, disgusted, and tells the camera he's already paid almost $35,000 in rental-car fees and car insurance. The 1993 Jeep Cherokee only cost $15,000.

And still, his legal bills rack up. He has already paid Burch and Cracchiolo more than $75,000, not counting the $27,000 the firm says he still owes. Now he's paying another lawyer, Ken Schutt, to represent him in the lawsuit over those fees.

Looking at the camera, McKay vows to keep fighting, even though he knows he can't win.

"How do I win? Even if we had a summary judgment decision come down tomorrow that said, 'Okay, she was lying through her teeth, the law's on your side, you're all done now, you can go home,'--[it's] hundreds of thousands of dollars later and three years of my life."

And no--Oh, God, no--he's not obsessed.
"What in the hell do I have to be vindictive and bitter about toward her? I mean, I'm the one who tried to get rid of her. Who's obsessed here?"

He pauses, runs his hands over his hair.
"Obsessed? How am I obsessed by trying to simply get, I guess, what would be called a just end to it. I don't see that as obsessed."

When he ended the relationship with Caperonis, he says, he was only mad at himself--not her. He says he harbors no resentment against Caperonis, only the lawyers and judges who have wronged him.

To the end, McKay insists he'll never write a screenplay based on his real-life experiences. But just recently, he's started thinking that it would make a pretty good book.

And how would he end it?
McKay shrugs, laughs bitterly.
"Well, that's yet to be written. We don't know yet, do we?"

Scene 18: Credits roll. McKay gathers the papers on the kitchen table, and the camera follows him through the neat house to the room with the cluttered files. He busies himself, poring over documents.

The camera zooms in on his checkbook register and line after line of checks made out to lawyers and rental-car agencies. There are blank lines underneath, waiting to be filled in.

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