Phishing for Phoebe

Similar to “Beaches” (loyal friendships)  & “The Big Fish” (Searching for a parent)

Background:  Elizabeth Phoebe Lee has a single trailer, a small menagerie of pets, and works as a dishwasher at the Tumbleweed. Every night she leans her head against a closed door in her trailer where she houses mementos of a past life. She entertains her fellow workers with the claims of phishing emails. Her circle of friends warns her against phishing emails and are afraid for her safety when she responds to one. 


The protagonist, novelist Robert James Gregory, who just finished his third highly publicized divorce, very much wants to locate the woman who changed his life, one Elizabeth Lee.  Battling a terminal illness, time is of the essence.  Everyone in his employ is engaged in the task.

His ex-wife, drama queen-TV star, Melissa Marquand, discovered their ranch was in a trust for a woman with whom she claims Robert had an affair while they were married, one Elizabeth Lee. Out to get damages, she shows up at the Tumbleweed with a process server and reporter and the goal of denying Elizabeth Lee even one dime.

Robert’s Attorney Kevin Garcia also believes he has found the woman, sends an email, then shows up at the Tumbleweed with the outrageous claim that Elizabeth Lee has a sizable trust in her name.  When he is run out of the Tumbleweed at gunpoint, he manages to find a friendly local who will talk who him.  He is attracted to Phoebe and her little farm.  A mutual attraction holds him back from ruining the moment by asking for details about where to find Elizabeth Lee.

The cast of colorful locals is astounded at the claim that their dishwasher, known to locals by her middle name, Phoebe, was having an affair.  They believe all parties must have the wrong Elizabeth Lee because their Elizabeth is too boring. However, since their Phoebe is much loved, the community collectively runs defense as they slowly realize, that even though Elizabeth Phoebe Lee has been part of their community for years, no one really knows anything about her.

When Melissa shows up at Phoebe’s single wide, demands entry, and refuses to leave, a neighbor, shoots out Melissa’s tires one by one. The gunshots attract Robert and his Attorney Kevin who happen to be at The Tumbleweed.  Kevin is confused to find Melissa at Phoebe’s trailer and surprised to discover that Phoebe is Elizabeth Lee.

Robert recognizes Elizabeth Lee, but she doesn’t recognize him. She never heard of the famous writer Robert James Gregory.  

The crew of the Tumbleweed gather round and the story unfolds.

 When her two children and husband were killed in a terrible traffic accident, Elizabeth, feeling guilt, could never bring herself to use the insurance “Blood Money” for herself. Over the years she secretly gave it away to members of her community.

When Robert could not find Elizabeth after his first book was published, he set up a trust - 15% of all proceeds for her.  After three divorces, it was all he had left.  Everything in his life that was good came from Elizabeth Lee. And everything good he did in his life was because of Elizabeth Lee.

When Kevin brings in an old and well-used Osborne 1 (first portable computer). 

Elizabeth finally remembers “Bobby,” the homeless aspiring writer with whom she had shared many lunches and to whom she has given the Osborne.

At long last, Robert presents Elizabeth with the well-worn manuscript, inscribed with heartfelt thanks, he had been carrying around for thirty years. 

  • Suzanne Birrell
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Dramedy, Mystery
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
  • WIKI
    Santa Barbara, CA
    May 15, 2023
  • NYC International screenplay contest
    NY, NY
    March 21, 2021
    Semi Finalist
  • Table Read my ScreenPlay
    Atlanta, GA
    August 26, 2021
    Semi Finalist
  • Unique Voices

    May 20, 2021
    Quarter Finalist
  • The Script lab Free Screenplay Contes

    April 8, 2022
    quarter finalist
  • TMFF
    London, England
    February 27, 2021
    Quarter Finalist
Writer Biography - Suzanne Birrell

Suzanne Birrell started her career in the entertainment business as a child when she wrote, produced, and directed comedy skits for the neighborhood kids. She stumbled into the professional world as a bareback and gymkhana rider where she landed doing stunts in Hollywood and fell in love with the movies.

Raising a family took her out of California into rural America and primitive life on a farm: cutting logs, hauling them with a horse to the saw mill, building a house with a hammer and saw. No electricity, gravity fed water, wood heat, farm raised food, making bread and wine, canning and slaughtering. Meanwhile she punched out stories on an old Remington and got involved in local theatre where she apprenticed as a director.

Later she went on the road as a bass player/singer with a traveling band, lost her brakes on a high Colorado mountain, was a main witness for a national murder trial, and started writing scripts.
After landing in San Francisco, she worked production manager with the Fringe of Marin and honed her skill as a scriptwriter by seeing her words up on stage.

A writer needs to experience life and Suzanne has lots to write about. She continually re-invents herself: as a bartender, camp cook, wrangler, baker, waitress, hotel maid, taught Intro to Opera and Shakespeare at Junior College, naturally certified paralegal, artist in residence on the Navajo Nation, jailed as a political activist and took the case pro-se to the state supreme court. Back in rural New Mexico, she the currently teaches middle school band and hosts a screenwriter/actor group.

An avid backpacker, she has trekked through southern Europe, Suzanne has been face to face with a mountain lion and almost knocked off a cliff by a large white owl. Survived going over a waterfall. Sailed lakes and oceans. SCUBA through kelp and sunken vessels. History is also a hobby and she loves listening to stories people tell about their own lives and families.

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Writer Statement

Suzanne likes a good mystery, satirical comedies, and tear jerking dramas. Her focus is on character pieces for ensemble casts, with strong roles for women. Coming from a multi ethnic background [2nd gen. Sicilian, 2nd gen. Scotch, 3rd gen. German, & Pottawatomie (not registered) ]she brings a unique perspective to her scripts.