Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Healing Road - unfinished teleplay - Part I

For any RUSH fans what follows is an unfinished piece of writing that came about after I finished reading Neil Peart's book, Ghost Rider: Travels On the Healing Road.


Needless to say, I was moved greatly by Neil's story.  And as a writing exercise for myself, I looked to find a way of adapting his book for the television.  In my mind, I saw the book as a mini-series - not unlike the series Empire Falls which I believe I had been watching at the time this was written.  Indeed, I believe I had Ed Harris in mind as I wrote the main character of David.


My intentions were never to write a biopic.  I would never know anything at all about the private life of Neil or his family.  So instead, what developed was more of a fictionalized version of the book.  Many of the sentiments/emotions and situations were mirrored, but instead they are attributed to a family of my own creation.


Here is part one.  I hope you enjoy reading. 


P.S.  To my writing/actor friends - I know the formatting may seem a bit off, but trying to cut and paste from my original script written in Word  and putting it here in Blogger seemed to has made it all a bit wonky.  Sorry about that.




******************************************************************
PREMISE/TREATMENT:

The thread that is sewn throughout this teleplay is of the “ghost chorus” of characters similar to Neil’s wife and daughter.  Through his book, Ghost Rider, Neil mentions of how he thought often during those days of healing, of Selena and Jackie, and their responses to the situations he was facing, how he would speak to them, etc . .  . 

Through this film I intend to use my versions of Jackie and Selena as a type of Greek chorus for him.  Their frequent appearances as well as the replay of memories will help the story of grief and healing unfold. 

This will be a non-linear script, in that it will depend a great deal on flashbacks.

As with the book, we start off with the main character leaving to begin “the healing road”.  And as his journey commences through out the film, the audience learns of the reasons of why he must keep moving.

The large problem was whether or not to make this a true biopic (ie Ray, Kinsey, Beyond The Sea).  I am not that presumptuous enough to say I know enough about Neil Peart or of the true dynamics of his various relationships, other than what little was written about in his book to write a true biopic. 

Because of this, the main characters are re-named and this is in fact a fictional character, whose story is paralleled if not heavily based upon the experiences of Neil and his family as he recounts them in his book.


“Dedicated to the future, with honor to the past.”
Peart, Neil, Ghost Rider, pp.460.





THE HEALING ROAD

**** BASED ON THE BOOK ****
"GHOST RIDER: TRAVELS ON THE HEALING ROAD" BY NEIL PEART



“And some of those memories I was now trying to hide from, escape from, ride away from.
I could ride — but I couldn’t hide.”

Peart, Neil, Ghost Rider, pp. 24




PART I: REMEMBERING


BLACK SCREEN.

SOUND OF LIGHT RAIN FALLING.

FADE IN:

1.) EXT- HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  JUST BEFORE DAWN.

The day is grey and overcast.  The world seems silent, except the sound of rain falling on leaves.  A light fog hovers over the lake.  A wooden cabin sits there, solitary, alone.  A wooden pier stretches out into the lake.  Empty.

2.) INT – HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  DAVID’S BEDROOM.

An alarm goes off, buzzing loudly.  An EXTREME CLOSE UP of DAVID’S eyes as they blearily open.  They slowly turn to stare at the clock.  4AM.    He reaches over to silence the clock in one easy motion. He turns over to his back to stare at the ceiling, noticing, dreading the silence.

DAVID slowly gets out of bed.  He sits there, perched on the edge of the mattress, shoulders slumped, staring into the air.  It's harder now, as it has been to get out of bed.  He stops, drops his head as he massages his shoulders with his hands.

The sound of laughter, the sound of breakfast noises, plates being put on the kitchen table, pots banging causes him to raise his head.

3.) INT – SAME. HALLWAY OUTSIDE DAVID’S BEDROOM.

LAURA, DAVID’S wife, is in the hallway outside of the bedroom doorway. She appears amused, calling to someone downstairs:

LAURA
(in a loud whisper)
Annie!  What are you doing?  
Your father's still asleep! 
(She breaks out in laughter) 
What happened? 

We hear ANNIE, DAVID’S daughter, respond from downstairs:

ANNIE
(laughing as well)
Sorry, Mom.  
Didn't mean to wake you up.  
I, uh, . . maybe you should 
just stay upstairs for awhile. 
A LONG while.  I'm thinking forever.

LAURA
(turning to DAVID, smiling)
Sorry, sweetheart. Go back to bed.



4.) INT – SAME.  DAVID’S BEDROOM.

DAVID sits there, for a moment, staring at his feet, thinking, and then quietly, he slowly rises.  LAURA is no longer in the hallway.  The noises from downstairs have stopped.  The house is silent again, but for the shuffling of his feet and the sound of the rain outside. Camera pans to bedroom window, and the sight of the falling rain.

CUT TO:

5.) INT – SAME.  BATHROOM SHOWER.

EXTREME CLOSE UP of a shower head, water streaming down.  DAVID is in the shower, eyes closed, letting the water beat mercilessly down on his face.  He sighs.  LAURA is outside the shower, brushing her teeth at the sink.

LAURA
Off again.  Another trip.

DAVID
Yeah.  Another trip.

LAURA
When will you be back this time?

DAVID
Dunno.

She peeks around the shower curtain to look at him, concerned.

LAURA
Be careful, David.  Please.


DAVID pushes the curtain aside and steps out of the shower, drying himself.  LAURA is gone.


6.) INT – SAME. KITCHEN.

DAVID fixes himself a light breakfast.  He eats over the kitchen sink, drinks his coffee silently and stares out the window. ANNIE, DAVID’s 19 year old daughter, is perched on the counter next to him, smiling as she also drinks her morning cup of coffee. 

ANNIE
Hey there, Papa Bear.

DAVID grunts in reply.

ANNIE
(sarcastic)
Well, good mornin' to you too.

DAVID looks at her out of the corner of his eye, a grin playing around the corners of his mouth. ANNIE sticks her tongue at him, grinning, making silly faces. DAVID tosses a dishtowel at her.  She bats it away with her hand.

ANNIE
Where are you off to now?

DAVID
Not sure.


ANNIE
The road just keeps stretchin' out ahead - no end in sight?

DAVID
No end in sight.

ANNIE
That's always the best part, isn't it?  
The great adventure - not knowing what's out there?

DAVID
I used to think so.  
Now - well, now I'm not so sure anymore.


DAVID places his mug in the sink.  He turns to leave the kitchen.  Camera pulls back to reveal that ANNIE is gone.

7.) INT – SAME. VARIOUS ROOMS AND FOYER.

Dolly Shot: Close up on DAVID'S feet as we follow him throughout the house.   He walks through the halls, shutting off lights, checking windows, looking in the empty rooms.  We see him pass a drumset, sticks laid across a stool behind them.  He passes them without a thought.  He walks by a table full of pictures, mostly of him, LAURA and ANNIE.  All the pics, show a loving, happy family, enjoying life, vibrant, laughing, smiling.  DAVID pauses for a moment at the door, but does not look back, picks up his bags and walks outside.

8.) EXT- SAME. DRIVEWAY IN FRONT OF HOUSE. 

DAVID goes to a motorcycle, idling outside.  He places his bags on them, fiddles with various mechanisms on the bike.  He swings his leg over the saddle of the bike, stops a moment to adjust the strap on his helmet.

Rack focus shot:  As the camera pulls back, we see that behind him, LAURA is perched on the railing of the cabin’s porch, wrapped in a sweater, watching him silently.

After a few moments:

LAURA
(softly)
Don’t forget.

DAVID
(to himself)
That’s the problem.  I can’t.  I just . . .can’t.

DAVID puts his helmet on.  He turns to look at the lake.  There on the end of the pier is ANNIE, smiling, waving to him.

ANNIE
Bye, Dad!  Love you!

DAVID turns away, a look of pain quickly crosses his face.  He turns back again, ANNIE is gone.  She was never really there.

Medium close up of DAVID.  Brow furrowed, trying to hold in a host of emotions, DAVID looks ahead, torn between leaving everything behind him and taking off into the unknown.  Behind him we see LAURA, still watching him intently.

He gives a last backwards glance over his shoulder to the cabin.  As he does, we see that LAURA is gone as well, like ANNIE.  Memories of lost ones.  Ghosts of the past still linger, even if only in his mind.

CUT TO:

EXTREME CLOSE UP of the tail end of exhaust pipe/rear wheel from DAVID's motorcycle.  He guns it and takes off, a flurry of leaves and dirt spray as

OPENING CREDITS ROLL

9.) EXT - OPEN ROAD.

Various images of POV of DAVID riding his bike inter-cut between credits.  DAVID speeds along the road.  Camera dollies along side, following every turn, switching periodically to DAVID’S POV. 

Camera moves in to an EXTREME CLOSE UP of DAVID'S eyes.  A lump growing in his throat, he stares ahead, focused on the road, yet at the same time we can tell he is troubled.   Painful memories can't help but come back to him.  Determined to outstrip all of these thoughts, DAVID leans into the bike as he accelerates, speeding out of camera frame.

CUT TO:

10.) INT – HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  DAVID’S BEDROOM.  TWO YEAR'S PRIOR. 

It is two years earlier.  Late summer/early fall. The early morning is bright, warm, inviting.  An alarm goes off, buzzing loudly.  An EXTREME CLOSE UP of DAVID’S eyes as they open.  They slowly turn to stare at the clock.  6 AM.    He reaches over to silence the clock in one easy motion. 

He turns over and sees LAURA, asleep next to him.  He grins, sleepily throws an arm around her waist and pulls her to him.

LAURA
(not a morning person)
What time is it?

DAVID
Six.

LAURA
And remind me again why I 
ended up with an early riser?

DAVID
It’s not that early.

A noisy crash occurs from downstairs.  LAURA's and DAVID's eyes both open at the same time. LAURA groans.

LAURA
I can’t believe she’s up too.  
You know, it’s all your fault.

DAVID
What do you mean my fault?  
What’d I do?

LAURA
She’s your kid.  I blame your genes.  
She certainly didn’t get it from me.

DAVID chuckles as LAURA slowly gets out of bed.  DAVID tries to grab her to drag her back under the covers.  She evades him and tosses a pillow at him.  He sits, perched on the edge of the bed and watches as the earlier scene plays out before him.

LAURA
(amused, calling downstairs in a loud whisper)
Annie! What are you doing?  Your father's still asleep!
(After a moment, she breaks out in laughter) What on earth happened? 

ANNIE
(voice only, from downstairs)
Sorry, Mom.  Didn't mean to wake the two of you up. 
I  .uh, . . maybe you should just stay upstairs for awhile.  
A LONG while.  I'm thinking forever.


LAURA
(turning to DAVID, smiling)
Sorry, sweetheart. Why don’t you go back to bed. 

DAVID
Nah, I'm awake.  You go to sleep.   
I'll see what she’s up to.


11.) INT – SAME.  KITCHEN.

DAVID goes downstairs.  ANNIE is standing with her back to him, surveying the mess she has created.  Despite the chaos, the table itself is set and neat.  Breakfast is laid out.  Coffee is brewing.  The rest of the kitchen does look like a disaster area.  Hand on her hip, dusted w/ flour, smeared with pancake batter, ANNIE is proud of herself.  She sips a cup of coffee as she takes a break.  DAVID comes up from behind her and takes the coffee cup out of her hand.

DAVID
Quit drinking coffee, Annie.  
It'll stunt your growth.

ANNIE
Hey there, Papa Bear.  Mornin’ to you too.
 (takes the cup back from him)
All my growin' is done and over with. 
Besides, I need that to think straight during the day.

DAVID
(to himself, as he pours another cup of coffee)
Yeah, you're my kid alright.

ANNIE
Hmmm?

DAVID
Nothing.  Just something your mother and 
I were talking about.
(surveys the mess)
Thanks for the breakfast.  But what did you do?  
Work with your eyes closed?  
It looks like a bomb went off in here.

ANNIE
Hey, I call it “lived in.”

DAVID
Yeah, well I think your mom 
would have a few other words for it.

DAVID goes over to look out of the kitchen window and gets lost in thought. ANNIE sits herself atop the counter next to him. She quietly sips her coffee and watches him for a few minutes.

ANNIE
(softly)
Where are you now?

DAVID
(brought out of his reverie)
What?  I'm sorry.

ANNIE
Where were you?  
Planning the next great escape?


DAVID
Well . . .
(he smiles)
I've got to occupy my time, right?  
You won't be around for me to annoy.  

DAVID throws a dishtowel at her.  She bats it away.  The relationship is close.  ANNIE is DAVID's pride and joy - and only child. They are close, openly affectionate - often joking, teasing each other.

ANNIE
So you admit it!  
You are going to miss me!

DAVID
Course, kid.  The house is too 
quiet when you're not around.

Why are you up so early?  
I thought you'd want to sleep in 
today before heading to school.

ANNIE
Nah.   I’ve got energy to burn.  
Come on. Let’s go out.

DAVID
And leave this mess 
for your mom to deal with?

ANNIE
We’ll be back before she even wakes up.

DAVID
What’s the hurry?  You should relax, Annie. 
There’s plenty of time to do everything.

Camera pans to DAVID’S open window.

CUT TO:

12.) EXT – OPEN ROAD – PRESENT.

DAVID continues down a stretch of highway, the landscape being dark and dreary, mirroring his current mood.  The rain continues down, steady, with no signs of stopping.  We hear his thought process as he rides on.

DAVID
(V/O)
Time.  What fucking meaningless concept.

What do they say? 

“Enough time in the world.”
“Take your time.”
“Everything in due time.”

Therein laid the problem.  
I thought there was always time to spare.

Whenever I could, I filled it with anything and everything
 - with books, with music, with writing. 

What was that other one?

“Time heals all wounds.”

 Yeah, right.

DAVID pulls up to a roadside diner. 

13.) INT – ROADSIDE DINER. MORNING. PRESENT.

DAVID slides into a booth in the corner of the diner.  He orders a cup of coffee.  Busy breakfast crowd. Patrons mull about.  DAVID does not notice the shuffle.  Is preoccupied with staring out the window.  After a few moments, he pulls out a small, worn journal, opens to a page and starts scribbling.

DAVID
(V/O)
Rain, rain and more rain. Fitting start to this trip.
Dark, dismal and depressing. Like my mood. 

Day one of the road.   Probably is good I am doing this solo. Not good company for anyone now.

DAVID pauses to watch the rain drops streak down the window pane.  He looks over to the booth in front of him, his expression softening. A LITTLE GIRL, 6 or 7 years of age, is tracing the path of the rain drops down the window pane with her finger.  She looks up at him, noticing that she was being watched.  She shyly smiles and waves to him. Her MOTHER, who is sitting next to her, looks up.

MOTHER
(to DAVID)
I’m so sorry.
(gently, to LITTLE GIRL)
Sit down, sweetheart.  Stop bothering the nice man.


DAVID nods to her and returns to his journal.  The sight of the two can’t but remind him of ANNIE and LAURA. A little flustered, he continues writing.


                              DAVID
                              (v/o)
First stop.  
Am at a moderately tolerable greasy spoon where . . .

DAVID’s pen runs out.  Frustrated, he attempts to get it to work.  He gives up and searches for another when in front of him, a hand holding a pen appears.  He looks up, a WAITRESS is there, with a nod and a small smile gives her pen to him.   She quietly, leans over and refills his cup.

As she leans over, we see ANNIE sittings there on the counter, drinking a cup of coffee, looking at DAVID.  The WAITRESS stands and momentarily obscures ANNIE from DAVID’s view.  The WAITRESS walks away to attend to other customers.  As she passes, we see ANNIE is no longer on the counter.

DAVID
(continuing w/ journal entry)
 . . .service is very attentive, but not prying. 
The “lost ones” are always on my mind.  
I need to keep moving. 

DAVID throws some money on the table and leaves. Camera tracks his feet as he walks outside, steps on a puddle, causing ripples in his image reflected in it.

CUT TO:

14.) EXT. – WOODS AROUND HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  PAST.

EXTREME CLOSE UP of surface of water.  As the camera pulls back from the image shattered in the water, we see DAVID and ANNIE are taking a hike.  A beautiful idyllic day.  Out of breath, they reach a scenic lookout.  They both stand in silence, appreciating the view and each other’s company.

ANNIE
(breaking the silence)
I’m going to miss this.

DAVID
It is kind of nice – like a corner of paradise.


ANNIE
Better than the daily grind, right?

DAVID
Ain’t it the truth.  
But hey, we’ll be back for Christmas.

ANNIE
I know.  I guess I just don’t want to go.

ANNIE pauses for a moment, judging that this might be the right time.

ANNIE
(nonchalantly)
So . . Dad, are you?

DAVID
Am I what?

ANNIE
Planning your next trip?

DAVID
(curious)
Why do you ask? Planning to skip 
school and tag along?

ANNIE
Well?

DAVID
Yes.   Matter of fact I have been 
thinking about it lately.  Why?

ANNIE
(rushes to get her thoughts out)
I was thinking.  Don’t get me wrong.  
It’s just that . . . Well, you’ve been out 
on the road recently.  You just got back 
a few months ago from the last tour.  
And a lot of times when you are here, 
you’re holed up in your office writing.  
And with me going back to school and -

DAVID
And what?

ANNIE
I dunno.  Maybe you could give it a 
little time before you get up 
and start moving again?

ANNIE pauses to wait for his reaction, which she assumes may not be good.

DAVID
Your Mom understands why I need 
to get away sometimes.

ANNIE
Hey, I do too.  Don’t get me wrong.

DAVID
OK.  I know there’s a “BUT” coming up.

ANNIE
But -

DAVID
See.

ANNIE
Stop being so smug.

DAVID
Who, me?

ANNIE
(trying to be serious)
Dad!  Mom missed you a lot these past few months.  
I think a little more than before.  
It’s not that she said anything to me.  
You know she never would.  
But, it’s just something I kind of noticed.

DAVID
And how about you?

ANNIE
(teasing)
What? Me?  Miss you?  Yeah, right.

DAVID lunges at her and traps her in a bear hug.  ANNIE laughs.

ANNIE
Just think about it.  
Maybe you could put off 
the next great adventure?  
For a little while at least?

ANNIE looks hopeful.  DAVID, looks at her, takes a moment to mull it over.  After a short time:

DAVID
(mock reluctance)
OK.

ANNIE
(surprised)
Really?

DAVID
Really.  I’ll postpone it for 
a little while . . . but just a little while.
(sighs and shakes his head) 
You know, it really isn’t fair.  
You got me wrapped around your finger.

ANNIE
(mock innocence)
Who me?

DAVID
Now who’s being smug. 

ANNIE
You won’t regret it.  And don’t tell her 
I put the idea in your head.


DAVID takes stock of the situation, and smiles.

DAVID
You’re really something, you know that?

ANNIE
You think so?

DAVID
Yeah.  I’m very proud of you, kid.

ANNIE
And with good reason.  I am your offspring.

DAVID
(amused)
Well, I see modesty skips a generation.

ANNIE
Should we be heading back?  What time is it?

CUT TO:

15.) EXT – OPEN ROAD. PRESENT. NIGHT

Quick cut to a EXTREME CLOSE UP of DAVID’s watch.  It is fogged over and rain spattered.  With one hand, he wipes the rain away from the helmet visor.  He has pulled over to the side of the road, DAVID curses under his breath as he tries to read it.   He looks around.  Down the street there seems to be something ahead, the lights glowing softly through the rain. He glances across the street.  LAURA is there staring at him, through the rain.  As a passing car speeds by, she disappears.  DAVID continues to look at his watch, trying to determine what to do next.  LAURA walks up next to him.

LAURA
You’re getting soaked.  Go get a room.

DAVID ignores her.

LAURA
There are basic necessities.  
You remember them, right?  
Sleep, food.  Hell, even dry socks. 
You’re pushing it, David.  
Even you have limits.  
Don’t run yourself into the ground.

DAVID
I don’t think you have any say 
in what I do or don’t do anymore.


LAURA doesn’t respond.  DAVID guns his bike and rides off toward the lights.

16.) EXT – CABIN/HOTEL – RURAL CANADA. PRESENT.

DAVID pulls up to a massive log cabin/inn structure in the woods. Dark and imposing, set back into the woods, hidden. Where no one can hear you scream.  Hunting lodge feel.  In fact there are a few RVs/Vans w/ game already strapped to it in the parking lot. Fatigue and the damp has won, for tonight anyway.

17.) INT – MAIN HOUSE OF HOTEL, LOBBY – RURAL CANADA. PRESENT.

DAVID wearily checks in and makes his way out to a smaller cabin on the outskirts of the property.  He lugs his luggage cases in to the room.

18.) INT – CABIN.  RURAL CANADA. PRESENT.

The room is strewn with DAVID’s wet gear.  He has changed and is toweling off his head.  He tosses the towel onto the floor and reaches into his bags.  He pulls out a flask and pours himself a small bit of whiskey.  He settles onto the bed, rests his head against the wall and closes his eyes for a moment.

We see a pair of feet walk up to the towel on the floor pick it up.  It is LAURA.  She tosses the towel at DAVID and it lands squarely on his head. Close up of DAVID as he pulls the towel off.

CUT TO:

19.) INT – HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  DAVID’S BEDROOM.  PAST.

DAVID is on his bed, looking at LAURA, who is tossing various articles of wet and dirty biking equipment at him that is strewn about the bedroom. Bicycle shorts here, wet socks there.  Disgusted, she picks up a pair of muddy shoes by their laces and dangles them in front of DAVID’s nose.

LAURA
 Disgusting.

Without blinking, DAVID grabs LAURA’s wrist and pulls her onto the bed. She laughs as they wrestle.



DAVID
Come on, admit it, you missed me.

LAURA
Yes, you . .um, but not this, particularly.

LAURA waves a pair of dirty boxers in her husband’s face.

DAVID
Love me, love my filth.

LAURA
You know, I don’t recall ever agreeing to that.

DAVID
Fine print.  You must have missed it.

DAVID leans in and kisses her.  LAURA, content to be there with him returns the kiss.  A thought crosses her mind.  Suddenly she pulls away for a moment, and looks up into his face.

LAURA
How long this time?

DAVID
What?

LAURA
How long do I have you this time?

DAVID
Why do you ask?

LAURA
I’m curious, that’s all.  
I can’t seem to nail you down for long.

DAVID
I’m here now.

LAURA
You know what I mean, David.

DAVID sighs and gets up off of the bed.

DAVID
Laura, why do you want to 
get into this again?

LAURA
What?  I’m not “getting into anything.”

DAVID looks skeptical.


                              LAURA
I’m not.

DAVID does not look convinced.

                              LAURA
And what do you mean “again?”  
I think it’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask.

DAVID
Why do you say it like that?

LAURA
Come on, David. Your past track 
record hasn’t been stellar.

DAVID
And what the hell is that supposed to mean?

LAURA
Well, I’m just saying that –

DAVID
Oh, I know what you’re saying.  
You’re making it sound like -

LAURA
Would you let me finish -   

DAVID
 - I up and abandon you and Annie.

LAURA
That’s not what I said.

DAVID
But that’s how you feel.

LAURA
No, that’s not true.

DAVID
Then what is it?

LAURA
I don’t want to pick a fight with you, David.

DAVID
You started this.  I want to know.  
What is it you want me to say?

LAURA
(making light of her earlier question)
Look, forget it.  Just forget it.  
Forget I said anything.

LAURA goes and picks up DAVID’s drink from the bedside table and hands it to him. She kisses him softly on the cheek. She sweeps up all of the offending wet clothing and goes to leave.  But before going out of the door, she turns to him.

LAURA
I’m just glad you’re home.

She leaves.  DAVID, stands there in thought, sipping his whiskey silently.  Camera pulls back to reveal:

20.) INT – CABIN.  RURAL CANADA. PRESENT.  NIGHT.

DAVID rubs his eyes. Memories keep flooding in: good, bad, unwanted. DAVID is craving contact with life, but is still nursing too many wounds. He wants something - anything to soothe the hurt.  Noticing his stomach grumbling, he picks up his jacket and steps out into the rain to walk up to the main house. 

DAVID
(to himself)
Basic necessities.  Right.

21.) INT – MAIN HOUSE OF HOTEL, DINING AREA/BAR – RURAL CANADA. PRESENT. NIGHT.

DAVID sits in the dining room/bar, off sitting by himself.  Animal heads/game trophies decorate the dark room.  He tries to eat a quiet meal.  3 or 4 loud patrons are off in the corner – hunters, re-living today’s game.  An elderly couple eats together at another table talking softly.  A very drunk woman sits talking to herself and periodically berating a young waiter for getting her drink order wrong.  He watches them, taking time and again to write in his journal.

DAVID
(v/o)
Out in the woods. Cabin/hotel hunting lodge feel.  
Am staring at animal heads. Morbidly ironic.  
Death staring me in the face.  
What were these things thinking 
when their lives were cut short? 

Feeling very lonely. Lonely and sad. 

Those are the words of the day.

Loud, loud woman sitting a few tables away. 
Drowning or should I say pickling 
her problems in gin.  Been there, done that.  
She is irritating, demanding, obnoxious.  
Have I been the same?

Poor waiter, young, man, probably new
 to job is getting reamed by this one.  
Not his fault, unsympathetic bitch. 

Am walking a tightrope, balancing 
- not wanting to fall into that “deep dark hole.”

I don’t like where I am and where I’ve been.   
But how the hell do I get out?

And why am I the one left behind? 

The ELDERLY COUPLE finish their dinner, and get up to leave.  They walk by DAVID.  The MAN, pauses for a moment as they pass DAVID’s table.

ELDERLY MAN
You’ve been quiet tonight.

ELDERLY WOMAN
Not like them.

She nods off in the direction of the loud patrons.  DAVID, not wanting to talk, but also not wanting to be rude, searches for an answer.

DAVID
A lot on my mind.

The ELDERLY WOMAN pats DAVID’s hand as she leads her husband off.

ELDERLY WOMAN
Don’t think about it too much.  
Sorry if we bothered you.

DAVID watches them walk off together, a lump growing in his throat.  He gathers his journal and walks out of camera frame.

CUT TO:

22.) INT – CABIN.  RURAL CANADA. PRESENT. NIGHT.

DAVID sits on his bed, staring at the phone on the bedside table. After making a few attempts, he picks up the reciever and dials.  We hear only the muffled voice of a WOMAN on the other end.

DAVID
Uh, hi.  It’s me.

WOMAN
(v/o)
David?

DAVID
Yeah.

WOMAN
(v/o)
How are you?

DAVID
As well as can be expected, I guess.

An aerial shot from above, as DAVID gets up off the bed and starts to pace the room, as far as the telephone line will allow.


WOMAN
(v/o)
Still towing the company line?

DAVID
It’s easier that way.  
Are you sick of hearing the answer yet?  
Cause, I’m starting to get sick of giving it. (beat)  
I’m sorry.  Is this a bad time to call?

WOMAN
You know better than to ask that.  
Where are you calling from?

DAVID
The edge of nowhere.  
Or at least it seems like that.

WOMAN
Really?

DAVID
Somewhere out in the backwoods.

WOMAN
What’s it like?

DAVID
(looking out of the window)
Right now.   We have the three “D”s.  
It’s dark, damp and pretty much depressing.  
Great start to the trip, don’t you think? 

DAVID sighs and rests his forehead on the cool glass of the window.


DAVID
Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

WOMAN
I’m glad you called.  
I was thinking about you today.

DAVID
Thought about you too.  And them.

As DAVID peers out into the darkness, a reflection appears in the window.  LAURA and ANNIE are standing behind him in the room. 

DAVID
I’m always thinking about them.

He turns around to find the room empty.

DAVID
Oh, shit . . .

DAVID slowly sinks to the floor, overcome with emotion, fighting again with that hurt that doesn’t seem to go away.  There is an emptiness, like a weight around his heart, his shoulders, his life, that is too overwhelming.

DAVID
(to himself)
This is too hard, too fucking hard. . .

WOMAN
(wanting to comfort him)
David.

DAVID
It’s just that - I wanted to hear your voice.

Someone that I . . . something real, familiar.  
I don’t know.  I can’t even explain it.

DAVID quickly switches subject, trying to gain composure.  His voice still wavering he continues, wanting to reassure himself more than the WOMAN.

DAVID
I’m getting by.   I’m on the move.   
And I wanted you to know that I didn’t fall 
off the face of the earth.  Though from the looks
 of everything here.  It’s close to it.

WOMAN
I miss you.  We all miss you.

DAVID
I know.  Look, it’s late.   I should go.  
I’m heading out early in the morning.

WOMAN
Love you.

DAVID
(quietly)
Love you too, Ma.  Tell Dad I called.

DAVID hangs up the phone.  He sits silently for a moment, looking at it. For a moment there, that connection, albeit brief, with his mother still leaves him feeling even more empty.  DAVID stands up and places the phone on the bedside table.  He grabs his pack of cigarettes and walks out of the cabin.

CUT TO:

23.) EXT – HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  PAST.  NIGHT.

DAVID walks out onto the porch.  He stops to light a cigarette.  He exhales, watching the wisps of smoke float upward into the clear night sky.  LAURA approaches behind him.  He does not hear her, for he is lost in a contemplative moment.  Wrapped in a sweater, she clasps her arms around herself against the chill evening air.  LAURA sits on the porch railing watching him silently.  A few moments go by, and then DAVID notices her staring at him.

DAVID
Sorry.  Didn’t hear you come outside.

LAURA
You were far away again.

DAVID
Just thinking.

LAURA
(shrugs her shoulders and matter-of-factly)
I’m used to it.

DAVID
(putting out cigarette)
Yeah.  I know I can be a bit-

LAURA
Distant.

DAVID
Am I that bad?

LAURA
It’s who you are.  It’s OK.  
I know you’ll always come back.

DAVID
You’re sure?

LAURA
(smiling)
So very sure.

DAVID sits on the railing opposite her. He takes her hand in his, and thinks for a moment as he plays with her wedding band, twisting it around her finger.

DAVID
Got a crazy idea.  
What, will you being doing in, 
let’s say a couple of weeks?

LAURA
(feigned shock)
Oh my, sir.  I can’t believe you are 
trying to pick me up.  Don’t you know 
I’m already spoken for?

DAVID
How bout it, beautiful.  You and me.  
Someplace nice, warm, sunny.  
No work. I promise - just us.

LAURA
What about your trip with Mike?

DAVID
It can wait.  So what do you say?  
Want to run off together?

LAURA smiles and pretends to mull over the proposition.  She looks around, as if to see if anyone else may be listening, when she leans in close to whisper:

LAURA
I think I may take you up on that offer.


DAVID
(whispers back)
What about that guy of yours?

LAURA
I think he’ll understand.  
He’s good like that.

DAVID
Lucky man.

As LAURA leans in closer to kiss him, a bright flash of headlights causes her to pull away.  Both she and DAVID glance up as a car comes down the driveway.  They shield their eyes with their hands as the car gets closer and the lights brighter. Close up on DAVID as he lowers his hand.

CUT TO:

24.) EXT – CABIN.  RURAL CANADA. PRESENT. NIGHT.

DAVID watches as a car comes down the road toward his cabin.  It veers to the right and takes a fork in the road to another cabin.  DAVID finishes his cigarette and goes back inside.

25.) INT – CABIN.  RURAL CANADA. PRESENT. NIGHT.

DAVID flops down on the bed, exhaustion finally kicking in.  He falls sleeps, restlessly.  He has fitful dreams, of LAURA and ANNIE, hearing their voices, but not seeing them.   He runs through the house on the lake, searching the rooms and eventually the grounds around it for them. He awakes in the middle of the night only to stare at the empty ceiling and the clock.

26.) EXT – CABIN.  RURAL CANADA.  PRESENT.  EARLY MORNING.

DAVID brings his bags outside and prepares to leave.  He swings his leg over the saddle.  He pauses.  He knows he has to get going, but for some reason, just can’t. 

Camera close up to DAVID’s waist.  We see two arms wrap around his waist.  DAVID looks back to see that it is ANNIE, perched on the seat behind him.
ANNIE
What’s next, Papa Bear?

DAVID
Annie, I can’t.  
I don’t think I can do this.

ANNIE
Of course you can, Dad.  
I know you can.

DAVID
I don’t know.  
Maybe I should just go back home.

ANNIE
And do what?  Sit in the dark?  
Since when have you ever been able to sit still?

DAVID
It’s different now, you know that.

ANNIE
No excuses, Dad.  
Isn’t that what you’ve always told me?

DAVID
Yes.

ANNIE
You can’t go back.  And you can’t stay here.  
So, what’s next?

DAVID
Whatever is out there, I guess.

ANNIE
The next great adventure.


DAVID
Not quite sure I’d use the word “great” there, kid.

ANNIE
Never said it’d be easy.  
Didn’t you always tell me that too?

ANNIE gives DAVID’s waist a squeeze.

ANNIE
Come on, Dad.  Let’s go for a ride.  
Let’s see something.  DO something.  
Find out what’s out there.

DAVID puts on his helmet, starts the motorcycle.  He looks over his shoulder.  ANNIE is gone.

DAVID
(partly to himself, partly to ANNIE)
Thanks.

27.) EXT – OPEN ROAD.  PRESENT.  EARLY MORNING.

DAVID pulls out onto the open road.  It is early morning.  Twilight.  The sky is a patchwork of colors, pinks, purples.  No rain forecasted for the day, so DAVID is pleased at that. Once on the open highway again, DAVID has become more Zen like.  It is all about being one with the machine, balance, awareness of the road, keeping an eye on the surroundings.

As the morning progresses, the ride gets better. DAVID accelerates at break neck speed down a stretch of road that is empty.  Just road and achingly clear sky. EXTREME CLOSE UP on speedometer of the bike.  We see it rise slowly.

Suddenly, DAVID spies in his side mirror the flashing lights of a police car.  He curses under his breath as he pulls over to await the confrontation.  DAVID takes off his helmet and earplugs and sits patiently, looking forward.

Close up of the door of the police car and the feet of the officer as he walks toward DAVID.  The sound of the car door closing and the officer’s feet on the gravel triggers another memory.  As the officer gets closer, close up on DAVID’s face as the sound of the footsteps gets louder.
 
CUT TO:

28.) EXT – HOUSE ON THE LAKE.  QUEBEC, CANADA.  TWO YEAR'S PRIOR.  NIGHT.

Similar EXTREME CLOSE UP of a car door closing and feet walking on gravel.  The camera pulls back to reveal a lone figure slowly approaching the house.  

CUT TO:

29.) INT – SAME. FAMILY ROOM.

DAVID is sitting on the couch, watching a television program, the volume down low.    LAURA is also in the room, tidying things up around him. She spots one of ANNIE’S sweaters draped over the couch.

LAURA
(shaking her head)
Annie forgot this again.  Her favorite one too.

DAVID
I’ll drop it off to her when we get back.

LAURA
I was busy in the backyard 
and didn’t hear the phone ring.  Did she call?

DAVID
Not yet.  She probably just forgot 
– too busy getting settled and all.

At the sound of a car door he looks up from the TV. Curious to see who has arrived, DAVID leans over to turn off the TV. Before it shuts off we hear:

TV PROGRAM NARRATOR
(v/o)
 “The only reason I am alive is because I could not die.”

DAVID goes to the window, pushing away the curtain.  As LAURA comes up behind him, folding ANNIE’S sweater.

LAURA
Who is it?  
I didn’t know anyone was coming over tonight.

CUT TO:

30.) EXT – SAME.

We see that the figure approaching the house is BOB, town police chief, looking grim, a paper in hand. 

31.) INT – SAME.  FAMILY ROOM

DAVID
(peering through the window)
It’s the police.  Looks like it’s - it’s Bob, I think.

When hearing who iss outside, LAURA has a sinking feeling.

LAURA
(whispering)
Annie. . .

DAVID turns to her.  LAURA has gone pale and is clutching ANNIE’s sweater tightly.

DAVID
What?

LAURA
It’s Annie.

DAVID wordlessly goes to the front door, shaking his head, not believing LAURA.  LAURA follows him outside, grasping DAVID hand.

LAURA
(quietly)
She hasn’t called, David.  She said she’d call.

32.) EXT - SAME. PORCH.

DAVID and LAURA go outside and meet BOB on the porch.
        
BOB
Evening, David.  Laura.  
Sorry to bother you this late.

DAVID
Not at all, Bob.  
Anything we can help you with?

BOB
Actually, um.  
I - Could I come inside for a bit?

DAVID
Sure.

BOB follows DAVID and LAURA into the house.

33.) INT – SAME.  FOYER.

Camera pulls back and remains outside as the scene commences.   Through the window we see all three of them stand in the foyer for a few awkward minutes.  BOB looks extremely uncomfortable.  As a reflex, DAVID wraps his arms around LAURA.

We cannot hear exact dialogue, but only muffled parts of the following exchange:


BOB
I thought I should be the one to come over.  
I think -  maybe you should sit down.

DAVID
What is it?

There is an uncomfortable pause as BOB searches to find the right words.


LAURA
It's about Annie, isn't it.

BOB
This fax came in from the Ontario Provincial Police. 
There's been an accident.

LAURA and DAVID are stunned.  DAVID's arms tighten around LAURA as BOB continues to talk.

   DAVID
How bad?  Where is she?

BOB
(shaking his head)
David.  I'm sorry. 

He doesn't say any more.  LAURA grows very silent.  As she internalizes the news, her body starts to shake.  DAVID tries to hold her tighter and tighter, but she starts to fight him, struggling, wanting to hit him, hit BOB, wanting to hurt something - to cause as much pain as she is feeling.  Slowly tears start coming, which turn into sobs that rack her body.  Her knees give out from under her and she and DAVID fall to the floor together.

BOB kneels next to them, trying to help DAVID calm LAURA, trying to ward off their dog who has started barking wildly.

CUT TO:   

34.) INT – SAME.  UPSTAIRS HALLWAY.

Through the bedroom doorway we see LAURA lying on the bed, clutching a picture of ANNIE and sleeping.  A DOCTOR gets up from her bedside and approaches DAVID who is watching from the hallway.

DOCTOR
I’ve given her some Ativan to calm her down.

DAVID
Richard, thanks . .

DOCTOR
It’s nothing.  I don’t know what to say.  
I’m so sorry, David - for you both.

DAVID silently nods and starts to walk the DOCTOR downstairs. 

DOCTOR
How are you doing?  Do you need anything?

As the DOCTOR pulls him aside, DAVID gives another glance to the bedroom. 

DAVID
(numb)
I - No, nothing.  Not right now.

35.) INT – SAME. STAIRWAY

DOCTOR
Just call me if you do.

DAVID
Thanks.

DOCTOR leaves.  As he watches the DOCTOR drive away, DAVID suddenly notices the silence in the house.  Camera tracks DAVID as he slowly makes his way through the rooms shutting lights off.

36.) INT - SAME. LIVING ROOM.

In the darkness of the house he makes his way slowly to the living room.  DAVID glances at the table of photographs, and turns away, pained, suddenly, not wanting to see any of those pictures. He starts pacing, wandering about the room, needing to go somewhere, but not sure where. Lost, but searching at the same time.

37.) INT – SAME. OFFICE.

DAVID makes his way upstairs to his office.  He goes to his desk and sits down, numb.  Noticing a message light blinking on the answering machine, he presses a button on the machine.  ANNIE has left the message.

  ANNIE
(v/o)
Hey Dad - just me.  
Forgot to tell you before
 - I walked the dog before I left, 
so you don’t have to. I guess I’ll see 
you next weekend for that lunch you owe me.  
I know just the place we can go.  
Call you when I get to school.  
Love you.  Bye.

DAVID stares at the answering machine for a moment.  He hits rewind to listen to the message again.  He turns up the volume.

ANNIE
Hey Dad - just me.


DAVID stops it, rewinds.  Plays the tape again.

ANNIE
Hey Dad - just me.


DAVID stops it again, rewinds.  Hits play.

ANNIE
Hey Dad -

DAVID stops the tape, rewinds briefly but before he can press play:

ANNIE
Dad -

DAVID looks up to see ANNIE standing next to him.  For a moment he stares at her.  He turns and walks away as she continues the message, following him out of the office.

ANNIE
Forgot to tell you before
 - I walked the dog before I left, 
so you don’t have to.

DAVID stops to look down the hallway to look at LAURA clutching ANNIE’s picture.
                   
ANNIE
I guess I’ll see you next weekend 
for that lunch you owe me.  
I know just the place we can go. 

DAVID goes to the staircase, unable to decide where to go.  Finally, the situation has hit him.  As the silence of the house is pierced with the sound of ANNIE’s voice, he sits on the top step, puts his head in his hands and cries.

ANNIE
(v/o)
Call you when I get to school.  
Love you.  Bye.


Camera pulls back to reveal DAVID is in silhouette, alone, the light fading.   EXTREME CLOSE UP on his eyes as he raises his head. They are distant and full of pain.

CUT TO:

38.) EXT – OPEN ROAD.  PRESENT.  EARLY MORNING.

EXTREME CLOSE UP of DAVID’s eyes now – not much has changed. That shadow of sadness still lingers, ever present behind them.

POLICE OFFICER
Can I see your license and registration?  
You were going a little fast there.

DAVID, shaken out of his memory, fumbles in his belt pack for the information. He silently gives the officer his cards. 

DAVID
Sorry, officer, wasn’t paying attention.

The OFFICER takes down information from the license.

OFFICER
It’s early and no one’s on the road, 
but that’s not an excuse.

DAVID
I know.

The OFFICER scrutinizes the license, comparing the information on it with DAVID’s countenance.

POLICE OFFICER
Aren’t you a musician?

DAVID pauses for a moment. 

DAVID
Used to be.

The OFFICER regards him with curiosity and he writes DAVID out a ticket.


DAVID
(to himself)
Used to be a lot of things.

As the camera pulls back, we see DAVID leaning against his motorcycle as the POLICE OFFICER drives off. 

DAVID pulls out his cigarettes, lights one up.  He looks back down the road from where he came.  The sun has risen.  We can see the heat/bright sun reflecting up off the road. 

Far off in the distance we see 2 figures – not clearly – like mirages, rising from the road, walking slowly toward him.  They might be female, we think. 

DAVID rubs his eyes: the figures disappear.  He looks to the road before him: a long, empty road stretches out as far as he can see, heading into the mountains/forest.  Shadows are cast upon the road ahead.  DAVID finishes his cigarette, puts on his helmet and speeds down the road.

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