Gordon Bowers was awarded Third Place in Drama in the 2018 Prison Writing Contest.
Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. On September 13, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Break Out: Voices from the Inside.
The view is of Earth and the moon with the sun just slipping behind the Earth, leaving the planet dark except for the glow of city lights.
Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin” plays as the view slowly zooms in on Earth. It slowly becomes obvious by the pattern of city lights that it is nighttime in North America that we are seeing. The lights of major cities clearly mark their locations. The view continues to zoom in on the northeastern seaboard as the song ends and the DJ begins.
(Very laid back, Man)
Well, Boston, it’s cold and
wet out there, downright dreary
you could say… so even the
weather fits my mood tonight,
and the mood of the show. My
last one, Man… I’ve been
going on about it for days and
you’re probably sick of it,
but it’s finally here and I
guess you won’t have to listen
to this depressing, old man,
whine about it much more.
As Jim speaks, the view continues to close in on the northeast, now obviously cloud-covered.
I know I’ve been doing a lot
of talking tonight, but when
things get final it kinda gets
a guy thinking, Man, and I
guess it put me in a stream
of consciousness mode tonight.
That’s maybe getting too deep,
But it’s the last few minutes
of my last show and I think
I’m allowed, Man.
Do you ever think back on the
choices you’ve made in life?…
When I was a kid, Man, every-
thing was possible, life was
amazing … and then I started
making choices. Back then there
were so many options, I could
pick and choose the ones I
wanted and just let the rest of
them slide, Man. And look where
that gets you. It’s like you’ve
been climbing a tree, heading
out on branches and twigs, and
finally you’re sitting on the
tip of a leaf, Man, and you
can’t go forward, and when you
look back, Man… Whoa! You
picked the tree, Man.
I guess I picked the wrong
tree, and, if I can’t go back,
I’m just gonna have to jump.
The view continues to zoom in towards Boston, through rain clouds, until city lights appear and the view flies over downtown Boston toward a tall broadcast antenna on top of an office building. The view enters the tip of the antenna, traveling down copper wire, twisting and turning, finally exiting into a small radio broadcast booth, flying past JIM’s bearded chin as he talks.
The booth is small, really meant for only one occupant. JIM sits in front of a small control board, one turntable off to the side is jury-rigged into the board with cables. A Deep Purple album is spinning on the turntable with the stylus raised off of it.
JIM is sitting in a wheeled office chair, speaking into an old-school, chromed, broadcast microphone. JIM is 60-ish, tall (at least six feet), medium frame with a a bit of a belly. He has long, graying hair in a ponytail, a scraggly goatee, and a mustache. He is wearing baggy cargo shorts and an oversized, multi-colored beach shirt, with crocs and no socks.
Now don’t worry, old Jim’s not
gonna do anything stupid, Man.
I’m gonna make like one of them
monkeys or lemurs, and I can
see another tree just right
over there, and maybe these old
legs got just enough left in
them to make that jump, and
then maybe make some better
JIM flicks a switch and slowly turns a large knob on the control panel. The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” fades in.
The Stones, Man. Now they made
a few bad choices, but they
picked a tall tree, Man, and
they’re still climbing.
JIM flicks another switch, sits back in the chair and sighs heavily, his arms hang down. He looks exhausted. The Stones play in the background.
Well, Jimmie, better pack up,
time to go.
JIM slaps his knees with both hands a few times before he slowly stands. JIM groans as he stands, stretching his back. As he begins packing his few LPs, microphone, and turntable into their cases, his relief DJ (JACK) enters the booth.
JACK is young, about twenty-five, starting out as the overnight DJ. He is tall, lanky, has long, straight hair and lots of tattoos. He is dressed in well-worn jeans and a PHISH t-shirt.
The booth is crowded with both men in it and they have to maneuver around each other as JIM packs up and JACK sets up for his show.
Great show tonight, Jim. I
loved the whole tree analogy.
JIM closes his last case and gets ready to leave. He briefly looks at JACK, a small smile on his face.
For a change, right?
(looking and sounding hurt)
Awe, c’mon Jim, I don’t deserve
that. You got me this job, and
I owe you a lot, but not fake
praise! I really mean it. Great
Thanks, Man. It’s just my inner
demons coming out, I guess.
There is an awkward silence as JIM stands at the door, ready to leave, his hand on the doorknob.
Look, Jim, nobody likes the way
the big guy…
Man, I don’t blame ‘im. Like
Zep said, “It’s nobody’s fault
JIM opens the door and walks out of the booth.
(over his shoulder as the door closes)
Take ‘er easy, Jack. Look me up
if you ever come out west.
The Rolling Stones comes up as the camera follows JIM through an empty office. A man, vacuuming, stops what he is doing and exchanges a few words with JIM. We only hear the music. They exchange a biker shake and JIM continues to the elevators. The scene ends as JIM enters the elevator and the doors close on him. The music continues into the next scene.
INT. UNDERGROUND PARKING GARAGE, END OF JIM’S SHIFT
Elevator doors open and JIM steps out into the parking garage. The garage is all gray concrete and dim lighting, and is mostly empty. The camera follows JIM to the end of a row where a late model, short box, 4X4 pick-up is parked. The truck is in pristine shape and spotless. Expensive but not flashy, it is black with some chrome, but not too much.
JIM unlocks the truck and carefully places his bags in the back seat. He gets in, starts the truck, and turns up the radio as the Stones’ song ends.
Wow! After that I got nothin’.
Good luck on that jump, Jim.
This one’s for you.
(Led Zeppelin’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” begins to play)
(Laughing and shaking his head)
You’re a real son of a bitch,
Jack. A real son of a bitch.
The camera follows JIM’s truck as he backs out, then drives through the deserted garage and pulls out into an empty and wet downtown Boston. The camera peels away from the truck and begins flying over the sleeping city. Led Zeppelin fades into the sound of falling rain as the camera nears a large condo building overlooking downtown Boston.
The camera floats across a wide balcony/terrace and enters an upscale condo through open French doors. The condo interior is very dimly lit. The camera floats through a shadowy, barren looking living room towards the front door. Rain is still audible as we hear a key in the lock and the door opens. We briefly seen JIM by the hallway light as he enters, before he closes the door behind him. He is dressed as he was when we last saw him, but he has been rained on. His clothes and hair are damp. He does not carry any cases.
JIM kicks off his crocs before he closes the door and the condo becomes dark again.
The camera follows JIM as he walks through the condo to the living room where he snaps on a small, gooseneck lamp. The lamp spills a small pool of light on and around an expensive Riga turntable that sits on a shelf in a built-in wall unit that contains thousands of vinyl LPs. The rest of the living room is barely lit by the small lamp, and we see that the walls are bare and the only furniture is a single, modern-style chair in the center of the room facing the wall unit and a large pair of hi-end stereo speakers. Boxes of packed LPs are scattered around the floor.
JIM turns on the stereo amp and turntable, then selects a Doors album from among the shelves. He meticulously, almost ritually, removes the plastic sleeve, then removes the album from the dust sleeve, setting the dust sleeve on the album cover, all the while handling the vinyl only by its edges and center label. He puts the album on the already spinning turntable and lowers the stylus. He turns up the volume and the sound of rain outside merges with the rain and thunder from the beginning of “Riders on the Storm.”
JIM picks up a small, carved wooden box and half a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon from a shelf and drops into the chair, setting the bottle on the floor and the box in his lap as he does so. He opens the box and begins to roll a joint. Again, his movements are calculated and ritualistic, smooth and efficient. He has done this a few times before. A lighter from the box lights the joint and JIM inhales deeply as he sets the box on the floor and picks up the bottle. JIM seems to melt back into the chair as his body relaxes.
(as he exhales a huge cloud)
Oh yeah, baby!
JIM spins the top off the bottle one-handed with his thumb, the joint in his other hand, and drinks deeply from the bottle, the top falling onto the floor.
The music comes up as the camera begins to roam around the gloomy condo. Other than a few moving boxes strewn about and a sleeping bag in a bedroom, the condo is empty. The camera finally passes by JIM again on its way to the French doors and settles on the view of Boston as the music ends or fades out with the scene.
INT. JIM’S CONDO – 6:45 AM
JIM is walking through the condo, he is wearing the same clothes from the night before. His hair is nearly pulled back in a ponytail, his goatee still scraggly. JIM has obviously finished packing and has moved everything out. He is going from room to room, double-checking closets, drawers, etc. for anything he may have missed. JIM is wearing earbuds plugged into a phone in his shirt pocket. We hear the radio morning show he is listening to.
RADIO D.J. (V.O.)
Well, Boston, it’s a beautiful
morning out there after last
(D.J. goes on with typical morning show banter)
(then Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” plays)
Sunlight streams into the condo as JIM finishes his walkthrough. Once done, JIM enters the kitchen on his way to the door and drops a set of keys on the counter next to a few sheets of legal-sized paper. He begins to move towards the door again but then pauses for a moment, deep in thought. Finally he removes his wedding ring and drops it on the legal paper before leaving the condo and closing the door.
The camera follows JIM down a couple of flights of exterior stairs, we continue to hear Boston in the background. JIM emerges from the stairs into a parking lot bathed in bright, morning sunlight under deep, blue skies, his truck is parked along the curb with a large, dial-axle U-Haul trailer hooked to it. JIM walks around the truck and trailer, checking the tires, the trailer’s doors and lock, and the hitch, before getting into the truck. A large, well-worn duffel bag sits on the back seat along with the cases JIM took from the radio station the previous night.
JIM removes the earbuds and the radio stops for a moment before he starts the truck and turns the volume up on the stereo. “Don’t Look Back” drowns out everything as JIM dons a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses and pulls out the parking lot, headed west out of Boston.
EXT. U.S. HWY 20, WESTERN M.A. – 9:30 AM
The camera is above and behind JIM’s truck, following him as he drives through western Massachusetts on Hwy. 20. The camera swoops down upon the truck and enters the back of the cab, the view is now the back of JIM’s head and shoulders and the view out the windshield. “Don’t Look Back” continues to play while JIM tokes on a roach held in a roach clip. A feather dangles from the clip by a short leather thong. Through the windshield we see “Welcome to Springfield” and “US Hwy 20” signs. The music continues through the next scene.
INT. TRUCK CAB – 11:00 AM
Same interior shot of JIM driving. The roach clip is attached to the passenger visor, a dark-brown stain on the visor indicates it is usually kept there. Through the windshield we see a “Welcome to New York State” sign. JIM takes a swig from a pocket flask then replaces it in the console. “Don’t Look Back” fades out as the scene ends.
INT. TRUCK CAB – 12:30 PM
Same interior shot of JIM driving. Scene begins at the end of a weather report on the radio.
… and that’s the weather. So
it’s a beautiful day here in Albany and
northeast New York.
(Red Rider’s “Lunatic Fringe” begins playing)
JIM turns up the volume as the music begins. Through the windshield we see a mileage sign to “Syracuse, NY 86 miles.” Farms or sparse residences line the highway. JIM is following and catching up to a semi with an enclosed trailer. The semi suddenly brakes hard and immediately jumps up off the road as if it has run over something big. JIM reacts by braking hard, the anti-lock systems groan as the truck slows.
The tractor trailer jackknifes, flips onto the passenger side and the slides crosswise down the highway before coming to a stop, blocking both west bound lanes. The nose of the tractor rests in the median ditch while the back of the trailer rests in the other ditch. JIM’s truck stops 20-30 feet from the semi. The camera follows JIM as he leaps from his truck and jogs toward the overturned tractor. Red Rider fades out as JIM leaves his truck.
JIM stands beside the overturned cab, facing the destroyed undercarriage. The front wheels sit at odd angles, the axle broken, and the transmission and drive shaft are torn up. JIM looks up to where the driver’s door is, looking for a way to climb up the underside of the truck.
Hey, Man!… Hey! Are you alright
The camera follows JIM as he works his way around the nose of the tractor in the ditch. The bumper and lower portion of the grill are caved in and the fiberglass cowling and fenders are shattered. JIM looks in the windshield and sees the driver suspended by his seat belt and beginning to stir. Airbags hang limp from the steering wheel and the door panels.
(banging on the windshield)
Hey, Man, are you alright?
There is still no response from the DRIVER and JIM rushes to the front of the tractor and begins to climb the destroyed grill. The camera zooms out and flies up to show the entire accident scene. Westbound traffic is backed up and some people are beginning to gather near JIM’s truck. A couple of men are approaching the tractor as JIM scrambles onto the side of the hood and works his way toward the DRIVER’s door on the broken fiberglass. Eastbound traffic has slowed as drivers rubberneck, and it is beginning to back up.
Hang on man, I’m coming.
The camera zooms in and looks down on JIM as he reaches the DRIVER’s door and looks down into the cab. The DRIVER is now moving and trying to get out of the seat belt. JIM lifts the door open.
Are you alright?
(voice shaky, fumbling to get out of seat belt)
You see that thing?
What I hit! Jesus, it was big.
It’s gotta still be there.
I don’t know what you hit,
Man, but it’s still not
anywhere. Let’s get you out of
there first and then we can
figure out what happened.
Whatever it was really fucked
up your truck, Man.
JIM and the DRIVER work together to get the DRIVER up and out of the cab. The DRIVER is only shaken up. A couple of other drivers on the ground help JIM and the DRIVER down from the cab.
A small crowd has gathered 15 to 20 feet from the semi by the time JIM and the DRIVER climb from the cab. Snippets of conversation can be overhead.
-Did you see what happened?
-All I saw was the back of that black pickup.
-My wife lost it when we came around that last corner.
JIM and the DRIVER stand below the driver’s door examining the underside of the tractor. The DRIVER is pale and beginning to shake a little. The DRIVER is shorter than JIM, and stocky, with a trucker’s gut. The DRIVER turns around and looks back, down the highway. Finally he points to a spot about 200 feet behind JIM’s truck on the north side of the road, his hand visibly shaking.
(voice is weak and confused)
It came right outta them trees
back there, like it was flyin’
(turns back to his rig)
It makes no sen you din’ see
(gestures to the underside of his truck)
I mean, look what it’s done. It
was plumbhuge! You musta seen
(shaking his head)
I sure didn’t see it, Man. All
I saw was your rig jump up
like it ran over something.
Then you went sideways and I
was trying to save my own bacon.
JIM and the DRIVER walk to the front of the truck as sirens become audible, approaching from far off. The driver inspects the front of the truck, running his hand along the grill and bumper, a puzzled expression on his face.
There ain’t nothing. No hair,
no skin, no blood! It’s like
I hit some invisible boulder
or somethin’! I just can’t see
what coulda done somethin’
The camera flies up, showing the entire area around the accident scene as two state police cars arrive. In addition to the stopped and slowed traffic, we also see a house about 100 yards north of the highway and 100 yards behind the accident.
EXT. US HWY 20, EASTERN NY STATE – EARLY EVENING
View is of the same location as previous but there is no accident scene. It is very early evening and there is normal traffic flow. A car pulls off the highway and drives up the long gravel drive toward the house that we saw prior to the dissolve.
The camera floats down the house, ducking into the shrubs at the front of the house under a large picture window. The camera peers through the window into an unoccupied living room before it slowly moves around the house, away from the garage. The camera pauses occasionally to peer into other windows.
As the camera begins to round the back corner of the house, it sees a young girl (SARAH), 10 years old, running toward the house. SARAH is carrying a beach sand pail, covering the top with a piece of cardboard. The camera pulls back around the corner a little, when it sees SARAH and watches her from behind a shrub as she runs into the house, the screen door slamming behind her.
Mama, Mama, look what I caught
in the garden!
It’s dinner time, Sarah. Go
The voices come through the screen door and open windows. The camera eases around the corner and approaches the door as the conversation continues.
It’s a frog, Mama. Look!
Eww! In that case, wash twice.
Your father just pulled in and
he will want to eat right
Awe! I want to show Daddy.
We will look after dinner,
Sweetie. Now scoot and wash up.
The camera eases along the back of the house and peers into the kitchen though the screen door as SARAH races out the kitchen. We can now hear a radio playing music low in the background as the camera approaches the door. The WOMAN is rushing around getting dinner on the table.
The WOMAN is about 35, 5’9”, light-brown hair, attractive, perhaps even sexy in skinny capri pants and blouse. She has a very “Laura Petri” look going on. Also has an apron tied snugly around her waist.
(raising her voice to reach upstairs)
Donald… go wash up for
dinner with your sister. Your
father is home.
HUSBAND enters the kitchen through a door to the garage. HUSBAND is 40ish, 6’, blonde, wearing dressy Dockers, dress shirt, tie, and sport coat. He is carrying a classic two latch, hard-sided briefcase in one hand, and two plastic grocery bags in the other. HUSBAND sets his briefcase on the floor and the groceries on the counter and then embraces WOMAN.
(kissing WOMAN and squeezing her ass)
Hey, Baby. Daddy’s home.
(giggles and slaps his hand away)
The stop button’s broke, but
maybe we can pause ‘til lights
Okay, pause. What happened to
(her arms around his waist, leaning back, blushing)
(holding her the same way)
You happened. A long time ago.
I was just thinking about
that first night at the lake…
SARAH and DONALD race down the stairs and into the kitchen. DONALD is about 8 years old. HUSBAND and WOMAN break their embrace.
SARAH & DONALD
(simultaneously as they hug their father)
Daddy, daddy, daddy!
(herding the children to the table)
Sit, sit. Dinner’s ready.
As Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” begins playing on the radio, WOMAN turns the radio down a little before she sits at the end of the table with her back to the screen door. The children sit across from each other. SARAH chatters about the frog she found in the garden.
HUSBAND is about to sit at the far end of the table when he glances at the screen door. The camera pulls back away from the door, back into the shrubs so that it is no longer looking into the kitchen.
Is that Davis’ dog again?
(his voice gets louder as he moves to the door)
I swear, that animal will
destroy the garden if he
doesn’t keep it locked up!
The screen door opens and we see HUSBAND’s legs step out. The camera leaps up at HUSBAND, knocking him onto his back on the kitchen floor. We hear SARAH, DONALD and WOMAN screaming and chairs scraping back and falling over. The camera flashes to a look of terror on HUSBAND’s face, and then to a gaping wound in his chest. “Enter Sandman” becomes louder, drowning out all other sounds.
The camera turns toward WOMAN, silently screaming, facing the camera with her arms spread wide, shielding her children who are running away. The camera leaps at WOMAN who falls backwards as her husband did, then the camera moves quickly into the living room where DONALD’s body flies across the room, leaving a bloody smear where it strikes the wall.
The scene is chaotic, but not graphic, not showing the wounds being inflicted, only the aftermath.
The camera now moves back through the kitchen, swinging back and forth as if trying to pick up a scent, the music raging now. We see blood on the kitchen floor and walls as the camera moves to the stairs, searching. Finally the camera finds SARAH upstairs in her bedroom closet, crouched in the corner, screaming. The camera lunges at SARAH. The scene goes black and the music ends suddenly.
INT. KITCHEN – MIDDAY
Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman”
The scene opens black with the radio in the background. Then we see the kitchen as if through the opening eyes of something laying on the kitchen floor (as in shutters opening). Sunshine pours through the windows and we see WOMAN’s legs sticking out from behind a couple of overturned chairs. There is a lot of blood on the floor, walls and cabinets. A large frog hops a couple of times near WOMAN’s legs.
The camera’s view suddenly jerks up and swings left and then right, tilting a little as if it were a dog that has heard or sensed something. The camera moves into the living room, whose windows are shaded by trees outside, and we see a glow outside the windows, moving away from the garage. The camera moves back through the kitchen to the screen door that is hanging by one hinge. The view peers out the back door toward the corner of the house. The shrub at the back corner of the house begins to be illuminated by a glow from around the corner.
The camera view turns suddenly and bounds through the kitchen and living room, obliterating the closed front door as it exits the house. A loud, nerve-shattering wail sounds as the view bounds across the front lawn toward a line of tall pines. We can no longer hear the radio. The camera streaks through the pine trees and down an embankment toward a highway.
As the camera view reaches the highway it is instantly jarred, and tumbles. We hear sounds of a collision, wrenching metal and shattering fiberglass. We see tumbling views of semi-wheels and the underside of a semi-tractor trailer.
The camera flies up to look down on the accident scene. It is late afternoon, a wrecker is just now towing the semi-tractor away. A trooper is directing traffic as it moves slowly around the wrecker. The view zooms down toward JIM’s truck and trailer parked on the shoulder of the highway behind a state trooper’s cruiser. TROOPER is talking with JIM in front of the cruiser.
… and you have our number,
Mr. Travers. If you think of
anything else, please be sure
I will, Man. I am sorry I
couldn’t help you more, but I
didn’t see anything. I don’t
know how it could be, it’s
just like there was nothing
You have been very helpful,
Mr. Travers. Thank you for
sticking around, and be safe,
(turning toward his truck)
I will. Thanks, Man.
The camera follows JIM back to his truck. As he reaches the door he sees a figure standing on top of the embankment about 100 yards back of his truck. The figure appears tall and to be wearing odd looking clothes, but the individual is hard to make out at that distance. Long, straight hair falls over the individual’s shoulders and down its chest. The sun, low in the west, shined directly on the figure, causing its light-colored hair to almost glow. It appears that the individual is staring at JIM, and JIM ponders this for several seconds.
(looks confused, shakes off the heebie-jeebies)
That’s fucked up, Man.
(he climbs into his truck)
JIM shuts the door and checks his mirrors, then double-checks them when he sees that the figure is gone from the embankment.
(wrinkling his brow)
That really is fucked up, Man.
JIM starts the truck and turns up the radio. Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone” plays loud as he heads west. JIM checks his mirrors for troopers before lighting a roach. The camera pulls up and away from the truck. JIM drives away from the camera as the scene ends.
INT. CHEAP MOTEL ROOM – LATE EVENING
The motel room is small and dingy. The carpet is worn, faucets drip, there is a gaudily-colored spread on the bed with large, reproduction artwork screwed to the wall above the bed. The T.V. is on in the background. JIM is half-watching the Buffalo late local news as he lays on the bed, thumbing through the contact list on his phone. JIM is wearing only sweatpants, we see a few tattoos, pot leaf, peace sign, etc. A bottle of bourbon and a half-full glass are on the night stand beside an ashtray with a half-burned joint. There is a breaking news story on the T.V. about a horrific murder of a family near Albany. Not much information has been released yet, but officials are horrified by the brutality and violence. JIM glances from his phone to watch the news story.
(raising his eyebrows and muttering)
Humph! I must have driven
right past that.
JIM looks back to his phone. “SHARRON” is the highlighted contact. JIM stares a long time at her name, his thumb hovering over the call button.
JIM glances at the clock by the bed that read 11:10 PM, he sets the phone on the nightstand, picks up the glass and takes a long drink. He leans his head back against the headboard, closes his eyes and lets out a heavy sigh.
INT. JIM’S CONDO – EVENING
JIM is standing in the living room, which is fully but sparsely furnished in a modern style. Nothing looks inexpensive. JIM is in his typical shorts and beach shirts and bare feet. He is in a heated conversation with his wife, SHARRON.
SHARRON is an attractive, statuesque blonde, 40ish (think Shannon Tweed). She is wearing a professional-looking, above the knee, skirt and two-inch heels. She would look quite professional in most situations, just not right now. Her hair is disheveled, her makeup smeared, and she is crying and very angry. She just found out that JIM was caught with his boss’s daughter.
JIM is standing near his record shelves when SHARRON picks up and throws a heavy glass ashtray across the room, narrowly missing both JIM and his records. The ashtray leaves a dent in the wall and falls to the thick carpet, unbroken.
(shouting, face flushed)
You son of a bitch! You
promised, Jimmie, you
(pacing, waving her arms, sobbing)
It’s the only reason I came
back. I can’t believe I fell
for your bullshit again.
(moving away from his precious LPs)
C’mon, Baby, it’s really not
Really not like what, Jimmie?
Really not like you slept
with the girl? Another “girl”
Jimmie? God, I am so stupid!
(really sobbing now)
(moving toward SHARRON, pleading)
It’s not like that, BABY.
(backing away, screaming)
Stay the FUCK away from me!
It’s bad enough that you
slept with your boss’s
daughter, but HE caught you…
And in HIS bed! You can’t tell
me it’s not like that, BABY,
because it’s exactly like
that. It’s exactly like it’s
always been, except now you
have finally lost everything,
Jimmie. You blow every cent
you make, you’ve lost your
job, probably your career,
and now you’ve lost me! You’ve
got nothing left, Jimmie.
You’re just an old, fucked up
has-been that can’t tell the
truth or pass up pussy to save
(over her shoulder as she heads for the door)
Don’t bother calling ‘til
(leaves the condo, slams the door)
JIM stands in the middle of the living room, shell-shocked, expressionless. He eventually walks to a cabinet and jerks a bottle of Maker’s Mark out and carries it to his chair, falling into it, arms draped over the chair’s arms. JIM spins the top off the bottle with his thumb and drinks deeply from the bottle.
The scene is back in JIM’s motel room. JIM stares blankly at the T.V. which is now showing the local sports. JIM empties the glass.
INT. JIM’S TRUCK CAB – MORNING
Familiar view from behind JIM as he drives on a highway. There is a large, paper coffee cup in the console cup holder that JIM drinks from occasionally, in between tokes off a joint. JIM is listening to the news on the RADIO. He is wearing different shorts and beach shirt than the previous day, and his sunglasses.
… and police say that the
gruesome murders in the
Buffalo suburb last night are
too similar to those near
Albany two days ago to be
unrelated. However, authorities
in neither jurisdiction are
ready to release details to
the public. A spokesman for
the New York State police says
that some information may be
released later today or
tomorrow. In other news…
JIM turns the radio off, picks up his phone and thumbs to SHARRON’s name. He looks at the clock, 7:52 AM, sets the phone down and drives on. A “US Hwy 20” sign and mileage signs for Ohio (15 miles) and Toledo (159 miles) flash by as the scene ends.
INT. JIM’S TRUCK CAB – LATER THAT MORNING
JIM is driving on U.S. 20, his phone in his hand. He taps SHARRON’s name and puts the phone in a cradle on the dash. We hear the phone ring three times and the call is disconnected. JIM sighs heavily, taps the redial button. After five rings SHARRON answers.
What the fuck do you want,
Jimmie? I am super busy.
I’m gone, Baby. You don’t have
to worry about me anymore,
I’m gone. I left yesterday.
No shit, Baby. I’m… I’m
gone. The papers are on the
kitchen counter and the few
things you had moved back are
in the bedroom closet.
So, if you’re gone, where
I’m not sure, somewhere in
Ohio. I was in Buffalo last
(beginning to believe)
You’re really gone?
What are you going to do,
There’s a thing in California
that might turn into some-
thing. It’s temporary right
now, but they said if I can
get my shit together it could
be long term.
(then almost lovingly)
Look, Jimmie, I hope it works
out for you. I really do. But
… you know you have to make
a real change, right? And I’ve
been waiting for that for ten
Thanks for that “huge” dose
of confidence in me. Not
that you ever really had any.
That’s not fair, Jimmie! If
you were being honest you’d
admit I once had more
confidence in you than anyone.
And I gave you more chances
than you deserved, but I’m not
going to fight with you now.
I really do hope you get your
life turned around.
Be safe, okay, Jimmie?
I will, Babe.
SHARRON ends the call. JIM drives as if in a trance for a minute then retrieves his flask from the console. He opens it and looks at it a long time before emptying it into the coffee cup. JIM turns on the radio in time to catch the beginning of Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again.” He cranks up the music and lights a roach.
Canned Heat plays over the following series of scenes.
INT. JIM’S TRUCK CAB – 11:30 AM
Familiar view of a highway out of JIM’s windshield as seen from behind JIM. A Toledo, Ohio exit sign flashes by, JIM is eating a burger as he drives, a fast food shake sits in the cup holder.
INT. JIM’S TRUCK CAB – 1:30 PM
Same view as above. JIM driving. We see a “US Hwy 24” sign and a mileage sign, “Logansport, OH 72, Illinois border 132.”
INT. JIM’S TRUCK CAB – 6:00 PM
Same view as above. JIM is again eating a fast food meal as he drives. A mileage sign shows “Peoria, IL 5 miles.”
INT. JIM’S TRUCK CAB – 8:30 PM
Same view as above but it is getting dark. As we see a “Welcome to Quincy, Illinois” sign the camera backs out of the truck cab, moving up and letting the truck pull away a little until we see the back of the trailer come into view under the orange lights of an exit ramp. As the truck takes the exit, we see that the trailer doors are slightly ajar and a piece of fabric is hanging out from beneath them, flapping in the wind. The camera continues to slow and the truck pulls away into the distance as Canned Heat ends and fades out as the scene ends.
EXT. MOTEL PARKING LOT – 9:15 PM
JIM’s truck is parked along a curb across a parking lot from a motel, about 50 feet from the motel and an open room door. The parking lot is not well lit and is mostly empty. JIM is closing the trailer doors.
Bastards! Breaking shit and
fucking with my life.
As JIM closes the doors we see that the latch on the door is partially broken. JIM wraps a chain around the latching mechanism and locks it with a padlock. For good measure he adds two U-shaped bicycle locks.
(still muttering as he admires his work)
Didn’t take anything though,
did ya? I guess my shit’s not
good enough for ya. Well, you
won’t do that again.
The camera follows JIM across the parking lot to the open room door and into the room. The motel is obviously inexpensive by the look of the exterior and interior. The T.V. is tuned to the news on the local Quincy, IL station. The bottle of bourbon and a three quarter full plastic cup are already on the nightstand. JIM stands by the bed, looking down at the liquor, obviously deciding whether he needs a drink or not. He is definitely conflicted about the options. Something catches JIM’s ear and he turns up the T.V. volume and sits on the end of the bed to watch it.
…and recapping our top
story, some details have been
released concerning the murders
near Albany, New York and in a
suburb of Buffalo over the past
two days. Four are dead near
Albany and another six in
Buffalo in what authorities are
calling grizzly attacks that are
likely related. The FBI have
been called in, and until they
and local authorities agree the
time is right, no further
details will be released.
Citizens in northern New York
State are being advised to keep
doors and windows locked and to
be wary of strangers.
In weather, we expect more
of the same…
JIM turns down the volume and changes into a pair off sweats, no shirt, and crawls into bed. He surfs the channels until he finds an old movie that he liked and lays back, toking on a joint that he lights, the glass of bourbon in his other hand.
INT. JIM’S QUINCY, IL MOTEL ROOM – 2:18 AM
The camera is tight on the LED clock on the nightstand. It reads 2:18 AM. The T.V. is the only illumination in the room.
The view pulls back to show JIM passed out on his back on the bed. The bottle on the nightstand is less than half-full.
A loud banging and wrenching of metal outside wakes JIM with a start. JIM lays still for a few moments, his eyes open and searching for something, not sure where he is. The sound of rattling chains and the creaking of trailer springs causes JIM to leap out of bed. Wearing only sweats, JIM throws open his room door and rushes across the parking lot toward his truck and trailer.
A shadow slips around the back corner of the trailer, moving away from JIM. JIM edges around the trailer, following the shadow, but finds nothing. He circles the truck and trailer, sometimes spinning around to look behind him, but again he finds nothing. Finally JIM drops to his knees and peers under the trailer.
C’mon, Man, where the hell are
When JIM rises to his feet he notices that the trailer doors are unlatched and ajar as much as the lock will allow, a couple of inches at most.
Damn it! What the hell is it
about U-Hauls that everyone
(raising his voice, looking around)
Leave it alone bastards.
There’s nothin’ you want in
(under his breath)
JIM closes the trailer doors and latches them as best he can, checks the locks, and moves to his truck. JIM retrieves a mini Louisville Slugger from under his seat and returns to his room, closing the door on the camera.
EXT. OUTSIDE JIM’S MOTEL ROOM DOOR – 3:00 AM
The view is a tight shot of JIM’s motel room door, exact view that ended the last scene. The door flies open and JIM rushes out with the bat in his hand. JIM is angry and it shows on his face. He stops just outside his room and looks at his truck and trailer.
C’mon, Man. I just got back to
sleep. Stop fucking with my
JIM rushes across the parking lot to the back of the trailer and again finds the doors ajar.
Where are you bastards?
(leans forward to peer between the doors)
You can’t be in there, can you?
As JIM’s face nears the crack between the doors, and speaks the last few words, his breath condenses in small puffs. JIM shivers involuntarily and moves back a step, looking shocked and a little puzzled.
What the fuck?
Now there is no visible breath when he speaks. JIM again leans toward the slightly open doors then exhales heavily. A large cloud forms and JIM leaps back.
Jesus Christ! What the fuck
is going on here?
JIM reaches out with his free hand until he can feel cold air flowing out of the trailer. He moves his hand around the top and bottom of the doors and feels the same thing. JIM backs up several feet and looks around, very worried.
(speaking into the night)
I don’t know what you’re up to,
but you leave my shit alone, Man.
You can’t get in anyway.
JIM walks a wide circle around the truck and trailer, looking around and under, before going back to his room, again closing the door on the camera.