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Screenplay Part Two

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CUT TO:
EXT. ELLISON HOME, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
We begin the shot with a ten gallon bucket erupting.  It’s pretty torn up, full of tiny holes.
John is holding an old fashioned double barrel shot gun tightly against his shoulder.  It’s the most at ease we’ve ever seen John.  This is his world.  This is the norm for him.  He fires again.
The torn up ten gallon bucket spins backward, dust rising around and behind it as the pellets strike the ground.
John casually unloads the gun and sets it down.  He tosses the spent shell casings into another bucket like the one he was shooting that rests in the grass near his feet. 
CUT TO:
INT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
We see, through the sliding-glass back door that someone is watching John.  John walks casually toward the bucket he was shooting at. 
CUT TO:
EXT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
John picks the ravaged bucket up and we see that Jimmie is the person watching through the sliding-glass door. 
As John stands back up, he turns and notices Jimmie watching him from inside the house.  He freezes before he stands all the way up.  Both of them lock eyes and John slowly rises the rest of the way up, never losing eye contact with his son.  He doesn’t move for a few moments.  He just stands there, watching as he is being watched.
CUT TO:
INT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
Back with Jimmie we see John as he walks out of frame.  Jimmie stands there for a few moments and then opens the door slowly.  He doesn’t go out, but he slides the door open anyway.  He’s terrified of his father, but intensely drawn to him.  Here’s the war hero he always dreamed of, shooting a gun, being the tough guy he had fallen in love with through his fantasies.
John comes back into frame with a new bucket in his hand.  He isn’t looking at Jimmie anymore.  He seems to be going out of his way to keep his line of vision away from the house.
CUT TO:
EXT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
John walks slowly out to where the first bucket had been.  He turns and looks back at the house where Jimmie is watching him through the now opened door.  He watches Jimmie for a moment before he sets the fresh bucket down, twisting and pushing down on it so that it stays in place.
He slowly stands back up, much like before when he was picking up the ruined bucket.
CUT TO:
INT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
John walks back to where the shot gun is and Jimmie starts to slowly walk toward him.  We hold on this shot for a long time, looking through the open sliding-glass door.
Jimmie stands a little away from John, still weary of being close to him, especially since he has a gun near him.  But he can’t help his interest.
Both of them are silent.  John picks up the gun and breeches the barrel.  He glances back and forth between what he is doing with the gun and Jimmie, who watches him nervously as he loads the gun.
John shuts the gun and turns toward the bucket in front of him.  He raises the gun to his shoulder and holds it tightly against his shoulder, taking what seems like a long, long time to fire.  When we’ve made up our minds that he’s not going to shoot, he fires, the sound cutting through the silence like a thunderclap. 
Jimmie jumps a little.  He’s not used to guns. 
John quickly unloads the gun and throws the spent shells into the bucket.  He walks back by where Jimmie is standing to get more shells.  He re-loads and stands beside Jimmie for a few moments.
Jimmie doesn’t know what to make of this.  He wants to be with his father, wants to share in what he’s doing and seems to have so much ease in doing, but at the same time he’s scared to death of what his father, who obviously has something wrong with him, might do to him.
JOHN
Ever.... 
Jimmie jumps again when his father speaks to him.  He looks up at John and both of them look quickly away when they make eye contact.
JOHN (CONT’D)
Ever fired a gun before?
JIMMIE
(hesitant, scared to tell his father the truth because of what he might think of him)
No.
John looks down at the gun in his hand and then back up at Jimmie.  He holds it up to him.  Jimmie stares at it nervously, not taking it.
JOHN
Go ahead.  It ain’t gonna bite you.
JIMMIE
Mom says...
JOHN
Mom ain’t here.  Go ahead.
Jimmie stares at it a little longer, unsure.
JOHN (CONT’D)
Go ahead.
Jimmie takes the gun.  It’s heavy to him.  He’s not used to this at all.  His mother always kept his father’s guns locked up and out of sight.  He’d never seen them before. 
JOHN (CONT’D)
Shoot that bucket out there.
Jimmie looks down at the gun for a moment before he raises it to his shoulder.
JOHN (CONT’D)
Hold it tight against your shoulder.  It kicks like a mule.
Jimmie raises the gun, taking his time trying to aim.  He fires, missing.  The shot hits the dirt about a foot in front of the bucket.  He fires the second barrel, missing again.
JOHN (CONT’D)
Close.  Not bad for your first time.  Wanna try it again?
Jimmie looks up at him and nods.
JOHN (CONT’D)
Good.  This time make sure you’re holding the gun up, holding the bead on the end of the barrel together with the bucket.  Okay?
JIMMIE
Okay.
John hands Jimmie two more shells.  Jimmie slowly breaks the gun down and pulls out the shells.  John takes the spent shells and tosses them in the bucket.  Jimmie loads the gun and struggles with closing the barrel.  He raises the gun again and holds it against his shoulder.  He tries to do what John told him.  He fires one barrel again, missing again.  Frustrated, he fires the second barrel, missing worse than the first three times.
JOHN
Now, you’re not doing what I told you.  You’re gonna have to hold that barrel up to get the kill.
JIMMIE
I don’t want to kill anything.
JOHN
You have to.  When you shoot, you’ve gotta shoot to kill, boy.
JIMMIE
Mom says...
JOHN
(screamed)
Goddammit, your fuckin’ momma ain’t here. 
Jimmie drops the gun and runs inside, slamming the sliding-glass door behind him.
John stands facing away from the house.  He picks the gun up and looks at it, turning it over and over in his hands.  Not the kind of gun he carried in the war, but a gun none the less.  Still accomplishes the same thing.  Killing.  So much killing.  So much death.  It seems to surround him, squeezing him until he can’t breathe.  Too much reminds him of things from before.  From back in the war.  Little things.  Smells, loud sounds, these things take him back to the war instantly.  He has to force himself to stay where he is.  No drifting around.  Not around Jimmie.  He has to make amends with him.  He has to erase the image his wife left of him.  But after moments like this, he’s going to have a hard time.
He re-loads the gun and looks up at the bucket.  He puts the gun to his shoulder and goes to pull the trigger, but he can’t.  He stares down the end of the barrel and he just can’t do it.  He unloads the gun and puts the shells in his pocket.  He sets the gun down and sits down on the ground beside it.
CUT TO:
INT. ELLISON HOME, EVENING, CONTINUOUS.
It’s almost dark when John finally decides to come back inside.  Right as he walks in, Helen is on him and she’s ready for a fight.
HELEN
What the fuck is your problem?
John doesn’t answer.  He stares blankly at her with the shotgun over his shoulder.
HELEN (CONT’D)
What was that out there?  Waht’s the matter with you?  Are you fucking crazy?  Is that what it is?
John still doesn’t answer.  The gun is getting heavy on his shoulder, but he doesn’t move it. 
HELEN (CONT’D)
Why were you letting him shoot a gun?  What’s gotten into your head?  You think just because you shoot people for a living, he’s gonna wanna do the same?  Is that what you think?  Jesus fucking christ, John.
John looks around, walking past Helen, pushing her aside.  This infuriates her even more.  She has a look on her face like she’s just been slapped.
HELEN (CONT’D)
Where the hell do you think you’re going?
John looks into the living room and the kitchen.  He walks down to Jimmie’s room.  He’s not there.
HELEN (CONT’D)
Goddammit, don’t you walk away from me!  Where are you going?
JOHN
Where?
HELEN
Where?  Don’t play these games, John.  Where are you go...
JOHN
Where is he?
HELEN
Jimmie?
John doesn’t answer, he just looks at her.
HELEN (CONT’D)
I let him go to his friends house.  The way you treated him out there, I’m surprised he’s not hiding in his room under his bed.
John gives her an icy look and walks back into the living room, pushing past her once again.
HELEN (CONT’D)
Oh, don’t give me that!  You’re like the boogeyman to him.  To all of us.  You’re like a goddamn ghost walking around.  Why did you even come back here?  Is this just another one of your stunts?  You know, this shit worked when I was a dumb teenager, but that’s not me anymore.  I’m not gonna put up with your intantile bullshit.  You got that?
John pulls the gun from his shoulder and slams the barrel up with one hand and Helen is silent for a few moments.  She stares down at the gun and back up at John.  After a moment or two, she snaps out of it and goes back into it.
HELEN (CONT’D)
Oh, is that supposed to scare me?  Is that what you’re trying to do?  I’m not Jimmie, John.  I’m not a little fucking boy.  I’m not gonna put up with this shit.
John pushes past her once again, heading for their bedroom in silence.
HELEN (CONT’D)
Goddammit, quit doing that!  Your stupid stunts aren’t funny!  You’re not nineteen anymore.  Jesus, I wish you’d grow up.  Christ, I knew it, this is just some big stunt.  You just came back here to ruin my fuckin’ life, didn’t you?  As if leaving me on my own while you were out there, in god knows where for all those years wasn’t enough.  You had to come back here, after all that time and ruin my life just a little bit more, didn’t you?  Why didn’t you stay there?  You think you feel bad?  How do you think I feel?  How do you think it felt having to put up with all the shit I had to put up with while you were gone?  Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a job down around here being a single mom?  Do you?  Do you have any idea how hard I had to fight with the goddamn employment office just to try and get some help all times I was in between jobs?  No, you don’t, because you were gone.  Christ, I’d almost forgotten about you.  Why’d you have to show back up?  You shouldn’t have come here.  You should have just faded like a bad dream.  GODDAMMIT, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?
CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
We’re now at church.  There aren’t very many people here, but John, Helen and Jimmie are here.  They say nothing.  This means nothing to them.  They’re only here because it’s just a ritual.  It’s something they can’t break the habit of.  Perhaps it’s even gone beyond ritual.  Perhaps these people only go to this place because they have to keep up their image in the town.  What would the townsfolk think if you didn’t go to church at least once a month?  You have to keep up that public image, or everyone will talk about you, start rumors, whispers will start.  They’ll start looking at you funny when you’re in town to buy groceries or if you’re going to the post office.
None of the people at the church look comfortable.  They look like the kind of people you see in most churches.  They’ve all done something horrible the night before, but it’s okay now.  They’re in church.  God will forgive them.
John and Helen sit side-by-side.  They don’t look any different than any other couple you’d see in a church.  Painful silence fills the air as the preacher at the front of the congregation (who we never see) begins to mumble some nonsense he doesn’t care about or understand.  Jimmie is bored and looking around at the other people in the congregation.
CUT TO:
EXT. TOWN, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
John drives into town to see his parents graves and make sure they’re being taken care of.  As per usual, there isn’t much traffic on the road in the town during the day.  Almost everyone that lives in the town works elsewhere, at factories or supermarkets in towns that can support things like that. 
CUT TO:
EXT. GAS STATION, TOWN, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
John stops at the local gas station (the same one O'Connor and Thompson eat at all the time) to fill up.
The gas station looks fairly new.  It has a gravel parking lot, three pumps, two of which don’t work, an outdoor soda machine (can only, thirty-five cents for off-brand cola), a run-down looking fireworks stand that’s being set up for the fourth of July in a few weeks and a garage next to it where several greasy people are working on a beat up pick up truck.
The man who comes out to pump gas for John is someone he went to school with.  His name is James.
JAMES
Hey, man.
JOHN
Hey.
JAMES
You doin’ all right, man?
John doesn’t say anything to this.  He just shrugs his shoulders.
JAMES (CONT’D)
I know how that is, man.  I know how that is.
They stand there for a few moments in awkward silence, neither of them being that good at conversation, especially small talk.  Cars pass, people go in and out of the gas station.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Well, I’m glad you finally made it back, man.  Big war hero, now.
John smiles, but says nothing.  A small smile.  It’s barely there.
JAMES (CONT’D)
I wish I’da done something with my life more’n’ this, I’ll tell you what.  Hell, thingser a lot different after high school, man, and that’s for damn sure.  Hell, I wisht I was back there now....  Hell, life ain’t been too good to me.  But then again, I ain’t been too good, so I guest I kinda deserve it.  I lost my job back at the bait shop when a storm came through and blew the houseboat away.  I didn’t havea  job for a while.  I’s gettin’ kinda desperate.  My wife was supposted to be gettin’ a disability check, but they’d been fuckin’ ‘er over on it for years.  She finally got the back pay check on it and I...  I uh, I took it.  I wishta god I hadn’t done it.  She left me after that.  Guess I can’t blame ‘er.
John doesn’t say anything to this, either.  He has no idea why this man who he hasn’t seen in years is suddenly spilling his guts to him.  He’s done with the converstation, but it’s going to keep going, the way conversations like this usually go.  He just wants to leave.  He wants to go see his parents graves and then go back home, maybe go for a walk, or maybe go for a drive.  But he can’t, because James won’t give him any gas.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Ah, hell.  What do you care, right?  Been off fightin’ in the war.  I’m glad you’re back, man.  I really am.
JOHN
Thanks.
JAMES
No problem, man.  No problem....  So, how’s your wife?  I haven’t seen her in a while.
JOHN
I don’t really wanna talk about it.  Can I just get some gas?
JAMES
Oh, shit!  I’m sorry, man.  I got carried away and wasn’t even fuckin’ thinkin’ about it.  Hey, you know, we should go have a drink sometime.
JOHN
Sure.
JAMES
How much you want?
JOHN
Hmm?
JAMES
How much gas?
JOHN
Oh, fill it up.
JAMES
Okay.
He starts pumping the gas.  John gets out of his car and walks away for a second, looking at his car all around, trying to make it look like he isn’t just trying to get away from James.
Not too far away from where they’re standing, someone starts welding something in the garage where they’re working on the beat up pick up.  The smell drifts over to where John and James are standing and John begins to feel uncomfortable.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Man, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that weldin’ smell.
John starts to sweat, pulling at the collar of his shirt.  He’s finding it difficult to breathe.  The sound of the welder becomes extremely exagerated on the soundtrack.  Someone closes a car door loudly and someone shouts and John’s heart begins to race and his thoughts are going by at ninety miles per hour.  His breathing becoming labored and he feels like he’s choking and that’s when James notices that he’s not doing well.
He yells at John, but John doesn’t seem to hear him.  The soundtrack is getting louder and louder, filling with ambient noises, thundering cars going by, different sounds blending together to create a manic sense of tension and dread.
John can’t seem to focus on anything.  He’s going back somewhere he doesn’t want to go.  Somewhere he doesn’t need to go.  He can’t go back there.  He can’t do it.  He has to keep control of himself.  He can’t lose it here.  Not now.  He has to keep control.  Not for himself.  Not for James.  Not for Helen.  Not for anyone else in the town, or the country, or the world.  And by now, we know who the person is.  But he can’t.  The smell.  The smell of burned metal.  It’s taking him right back where he was.
James is still yelling at him.  He puts his hand on John’s shoulder and says his name again.  We hear it really, really loudly on the soundtrack and John snaps out of his trance.  He doesn’t completely snap out of it, but he snaps out of it enough to at least know he’s at home and there isn’t anyone about to shoot at him.  Fear is in his eyes.  Deep, cold fear.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Jesus, man.  You okay?
Jon doesn’t say anything.  He’s still too shaken up.  He’s sweating and still breathing laboriously.  He blinks his eyes heavily and slowly.  He’s coming back down, but it’s happening very slowly.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Shit, man.  What the hell was that?  Are you okay?
JOHN
I don’t know.  Don’t touch me.
He steps away from James.  The memory is still there, rearing it’s big ugly head, flashing it’s teeth.  He can smell it’s breath.  He puts his palms against his forehead, running his fingers through his hair.  He sighs a deep, shuddering sigh.
JAMES
Jesus, man.  Hey, let’s go get that drink we were talkin’ about, okay?  You up for that?
JOHN
Sure.
JAMES
Okay.  Let’s go, man.
John starts to get into his car.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Hey, man.  I don’t think that’s a good idea.  Let’s just walk over there.  It’s a short walk.  Okay?
JOHN
Yeah.  Yeah, you’re right.
He gets out of his car and follows James to the bar.
CUT TO:
INT. BAR, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
The name of the bar is the Brown Jug.  There’s nothing special about the place.  It’s just like any other bar in America.  There aren’t that many people inside, but there’s enough to show us it’s at least doing well enough to stay open. 
We see two men sitting at a bar.  They’re two people we’ve never seen before.
MAN #1
You think he knows?
MAN #2
Man, I don’t know.  I wish you hadn’t said anything about it.
MAN #1
Well, I had to say something to somebody.
MAN #2
No you didn’t.  Now I know.  I don’t wanna know shit like that.  Every time I see Dale now, it’s all I’m gonna be able to think about.
MAN #1
Don’t say anything to him about it.
MAN #2
I’m not making any promises.
Man #2 looks at his watch.
MAN #2 (CONT’D)
We’ve gotta get back.
MAN #1
Man, please don’t say anything to him once we get back.  I watched him kick the shit out of a man for talkin’ to her.
MAN #2
That’s your problem, not mine.  You do that shit with the bossman’s wife, you’ve gotta expect to have problems like that.  Come on, let’s get back to work.
MAN #1
Dammit.  Why do I let myself get into shit like this?
MAN #2
Beats the fuckin’ hell out of me.
He gets up, throws some money down on the bar and they walk off to the door.
As they walk through the door, we go out with them and John and James walk in as they exit and we go back into the bar with the two of them.
They walk over to a table in a corner and sit down.  A girl walks up to take their orders.  She’s young, but wear and tear are starting to show.  Her clothes look like they should have been thrown out about two years ago.
GIRL
What’ll it be, guys?
JAMES
But for me.  John?
John doesn’t answer.  He’s far away, distant.  He just has that same cold and silent stare.  He doesn’t even seem to be in the same room with everyone else.  He seems to be barely breathing.
JAMES (CONT’D)
John, you okay, buddy?
He’s not there.  He’s gone for the time being.
JAMES (CONT’D)
Fuck.  Uh, just make it two Buds.
GIRL
Okay.
JAMES
Thanks, dear.
She walks away and James turns back, trying to figure out what’s wrong with John.  He’s got an idea of what might be wrong.  He’s seen his share of movies and he knows that people are fucked up sometimes when they come back from wars.  He’s seen Rambo.  He knows how bad this could get.  He also knows that he has no idea how to help John out of this, so he just sits silently and waits.
After a while, James gives up watching John and starts looking around, sipping his beer.  John has been silent the whole time.  James keeps looking down at his watch.  He knows his boss is going to be pissed at him for leaving like he did.  But that’s not important to him.  It is, but he’s forcing himself to believe otherwise.  He doesn’t even know John that well.  He just went to school with him.  It was a really small school, so everyone there knew everyone else.  But that’s all he knew, really. 
He knows John’s wife.  Pretty much the same there.  He’d had a fling with her one night.  They were both drunk.  They never talked about it (or to each other, except for awkward conversations when he pumped gas for her).  He prayed to god that John didn’t know anything about it.  He knows he can take care of himself, but John is a big guy and he’s had training.  James knows this.  He can see it, as clear as day, John beating the living shit out of him in the bar, then he can’t go back to work and he loses his job again.  He doesn’t have a disability check to steal this time.  He can’t let that happen.  Not again.
Then John finally says something.  It jerks James out of his trance.
JOHN
I’m...I’m really sorry about that back there.
JAMES
Hey, that’s okay, man.  Are you okay?
JOHN
I don’t know.
JAMES
What the hell was that back there, man?
JOHN
The smell.
JAMES
The smell?
JOHN
The smell of the metal.  The welding.  Burning metal.
JAMES
Oh.
James has no idea what John is talking about, but he’s going to humor him.  He sips his beer slowly, keeping his eyes on John.
John is silent for a few moments more, trying to think straight.  He looks around the bar and laughs a little.
JOHN
I hate this bar.  I always have.
JAMES
We can leave if you want, man.
JOHN
No, it’s okay.  It’s not the bar itself.  It’s just...I don’t know, it seems like, before the war, every time I came in here, I’d run into like fifty people I knew, people I went to school with.  It was like a horrible, drunken high school reunion.
JAMES
Tell me about it.  I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone we went to school with yet.
JOHN
Yeah.  I quit coming here not long before I went to...Over there.
He’s silent for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts and failing.
JOHN (CONT’D)
I really am sorry.  Sometimes, I just can’t keep control of it.  It’s just too much sometimes.
JAMES
It’s okay man, you don’t have to talk about it if you...
JOHN
Oh christ.
He takes a big swig of his beer.
JOHN (CONT’D)
It was...  We had a helicopter strike called in at a place where crates of enemy ammunition were supposed to be, you know, being carried in.  It didn’t take long.  It never did.  When it was over, we didn’t hear anything for a while.  We figured it was all over.  But then, later on, we started hearing the cries and screams coming out of the place.
He pauses for a moment before he can continue.
JOHN (CONT’D)
It wasn’t what we thought it was.  We heard the cries and screams.  Children.  Drifting out of the place.  We didn’t know.  They weren’t supposed to be there.  It, it was the most horrifying thing.  The most horrifying thing you could ever hear.
He pauses a  beat again.
JOHN (CONT’D)
Happened.  Happened all the time.  After a while, you, you just become numb to it.  After.  After you see so many dead people, dead children, you start to forget they’re kids at all.  You, you see one, three, maybe, maybe four years old, lying dead i nthe street, it moves you less than, less than if you saw a dead dog in the same place.
He’s silent for a few moments, staring off, not seeing what’s there, seeing something else.  Something he doesn’t want to remember.
James doesn’t say anything.  He doesn’t know what to say.
JOHN (CONT’D)
What’s, what’s really bothered me, is that I was so numb to it.  The whole time, it didn’t matter.  They were just, just the enemy.  I never thought about it until I got back here and saw my, saw my son.  I held him, hugged him and I knew something wasn’t right.  I thought about, about those kids I saw, those kids with their heads blown open and...
He falls silent, tears coming from his eyes.  He knows he shouldn’t be here.  Nothing feels right.  He shouldn’t be around.  Not around his wife, not around this town, not around his son.  He knows that he’s just going to ruin his relationship even more if he stays.  He’s dying.  He’s a doomed man.  He’s a damaged, broken man with no hope or faith left anymore.  He gets up and walks out of the bar, leaving James sitting there.
CUT TO:
EXT. TOWN, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
John walks out of the bar and back down to the gas station.  As he drives off, we see O'Connor and Thompson drive up.  We stay with them. 
Current Mood:
sick
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