"The Snake"


        THORNE STERLING, 40's, is a flamboyant, filthy rich, real-estate tycoon with an ego as big as The Sterling Palace -- his 50-story, luxury apartment building in downtown Manhattan.

        Thorne has been married for three years to JESSICA STERLING, 30, blonde, beautiful, but not the vapid, trophy-wife one might expect.  She's unpretentious, kind, compassionate; traits which -- she's finally coming to realize -- have little in common with her husband.

        Thorne owns a beach estate in the Hamptons, which is where the story opens; the Sterlings entertaining guests on their yacht.  The estate is nearly deserted as we meet the third person in the triangle, RICHARD LONG, 30's, the 'dashing-and-daring' cat burglar who is in the process of penetrating the fortress.

        He steals cash from a safe, an original Renoir, and a personal videotape (Thorne and Jessica in compromising positions).  Adding insult to injury, Richard manages to drive away in Thorne's Rolls Royce.

        When Thorne learns of the heist, he explodes.  Jessica is furious when she hears about the videotape.  And they're both a little shaken when they discover the "calling card" Richard has left behind.  In their bed.  Under the covers:  A snake!

        Thorne wants to keep this episode a secret.  But "The Snake" has already alerted the media:  the Rolls Royce can be found in Harlem, stripped and dismantled.  And the Renoir, "touched up" with moustaches drawn on the women, is on display in a subway station.

        Back in the city, Thorne finds himself the talk of the town... and the butt of the joke.  He vows to snare the culprit.  Richard calls a reporter and boasts "the Snake will strike again".

        As Thorne departs for a business trip to China, a gift (supposedly from his business associates in China) is delivered to the Sterling's apartment:  A life-size statue of a meditating Buddha.  But it's Richard meditating inside the statue, peering out the eyes, watching Jessica.

        In the middle of the night, wearing a mask that covers half his face, he takes Jessica by surprise, binds her to the bed.  Her fear subsides as she realizes he's not there to harm her, but to excite her, speaking only in a whisper, encouraging her "to feel a man's slow, soft touch."

        Richard makes a spectacular getaway, skydiving off the high-rise, and after a thorough inspection by the authorities, it seems nothing was stolen.  Jessica, however, knows exactly what he was trying to steal.

        Two days later, she hosts a charity auction.  A handsome stranger outbids everyone for a jewelry box donated by Jessica.  She's suspicious, wants to know his name.  When he whispers in her ear, "just think of me as someone who will always treasure your possession", she knows it's him.  And she's hooked.

        They begin a passionate affair.  She admits that her marriage to Thorne is on the rocks, and mentions divorce.  Richard encourages it, shows her some photos he's taken of Thorne with his mistress.

        Jessica wonders, who is this guy?  Why is he playing this insane game with her husband?  He's given back to her that (X-rated) videotape in order to gain her confidence.  He claims to be in love with her.  But can she really trust him?

        She poses an ultimatum.  Give up the game.  Right now.  And "run away" with her.  But he's not ready to quit just yet.  Jessica begins to doubt his sincerity, decides to undertake some investigative work on her own.

        We almost believe Richard could be her knight-in-shining-armor, until we find out he's murdered Thorne Sterling's mistress.  Thorne discovers the gruesome scene, panics.  Will he be implicated in her death?  The stakes have been raised, and they're both out for blood.

        Unaware of these latest developments, Jessica secretly follows Richard to his "cabin hideaway".  When he leaves, she goes inside, searches for a clue to his identity, finds it in some old newspaper clippings.  She suddenly catches sight of a big SNAKE moving slowly toward her.

        Then the sound of a car.  He's back!  Jessica ducks inside a closet, realizes the snake has followed her when she feels it moving up her leg.  She somehow manages to escape unnoticed, but she's seen enough.  It's time to put an end to all of this.  Now.

        She's merely a pawn in their foolish game.  So she'll set them up, turn them loose on each other, step in at the right moment, and dethrone -- if not emasculate -- the high-and-mighty kings; one of them financially, and the other, a bit more literally.