Saturday, February 21, 2009

“The Fugitive Grandma” is a story I’ve worked on for the past 3 ½ years. Stella Valentine is a retiree who loses her pension, her home and the ability to afford the medicine that keeps her alive. Johnny is her young grandson, a lonely boy who dreams of being a hero. Together they become fugitives, stealing cash and prescription drugs, eluding capture by police, gangsters and operatives of a Draconian, mega-retail company.

The story explores a few subjects that I find fascinating:

1) Is access to life saving medicine a human right? Is it a privilege? Is it subject to the same constraints as other commercial products and services? In the US, this debate is going on constantly. The debate will only increase in volume and vehemence as the Baby Boomer demographic enters their 60s, 70s and beyond.
2) When is a crime justified? We see throughout history examples where the laws and conventional wisdom of the day were simply wrong or horribly unjust. Through the lens of the present we see the actions of “lawbreakers”, whether it’s Galileo or the runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad, as acts of heroism. What crimes in modern day America might be seen through the lens of the future as acts of heroism? What might future generations look back on as the great injustices? And how will health care and medicine factor into this?
3) The struggle in health care to reconcile advance medical technology, cost and the profit motive will only intensify. Medicine is both a service for the public good and one of the most profitable businesses in the world. How will we as a society reconcile the inherent conflicts around this?

Most importantly, the story is a tribute and remembrance to my own Grandma Emma Villanova Ragano, who died in 1991. Of course her own life and actions were nothing like the hero of my story, but she lived her life with spunk and a sense of adventure that the story tries to capture.

I’ll be posting the manuscript here and use this as a forum as the story develops.

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