Writing Reality

Julian Winter

508-904-8319

julian@julianwinter.com

Note: Due to the nature of a web page some of the standard screenplay formatting is lost.




FADE IN:

INT. A PERFORMANCE STAGE - NIGHT

A MAGICIAN performs the 'swords though the box containing a beautiful woman' act. He inserts the final sword and encounters resistance. His attractive ASSISTANT's smile changes to concern.

With a powerful thrust he forces the sword through the box. The assistant screams as something red glistens on the emerging sword tip. It drips ominously onto the stage.

He flings open the doors to see her impaled by the sword. Her head flops listlessly. Her limbs hang limp. He throws his cape over the box to hide her lifeless body.

EXT. A DEPARTMENT STORE DISPLAY WINDOW - NIGHT

A homeless man's face reflects in the plate glass window. He watches the magic show on a TV within the display.

From behind comes the screech of tires and roar of a car engine. Without warning he's struck by a dark car and forced under the wheels as it crashes through the glass.

ON THE TV

The stage lights dim as the performance is canceled.

WITHIN THE STORE DISPLAY

Another car squeals to a halt and a GOOD GUY jumps out. He confronts the DRIVER, trapped against the steering wheel.

The driver swears and the good guy punches him, then handcuffs him to the steering wheel. Job well done.

An attractive FEMALE HOSTAGE scurries out and steps over the bleeding homeless man. She clings to the good guy's buffed biceps.

The homeless man, mortally wounded, gazes at the TV.

ON THE TV

The stage is dim as medics rush in. The magician lingers despondent at the box. Beneath the cape comes a movement.

He motions the lights up. With a flourish he sweeps the cape away. His lovely assistant stands resplendent beside the box, unscathed. The audience breathes a sigh of relief.

WITHIN THE STORE DISPLAY

News reporters rush to interview the good guy. An obviously important man heads from a limo to congratulate him.

The homeless man lies ignored, dying. He motions to the good guy, then whispers into his ear. The good guy's smile fades to a frown.

The image fades to black,

INT. MOVIE THEATRE - NIGHT

BARRETT, late 30's, a Midwest boy too far from home, and SONYA, early 30's, New York attractive, watch what is now seen to be a movie.

The homeless man dies. The good guy returns to the limelight. The movie fades to black.

The credit "Written by Barrett Rawson" scrolls by. Sonya kisses him.

A young GIRL, within Barrett's earshot, turns to her MOTHER.

GIRL
Anybody could write that junk. A real
story with heart, that's hard.

MOTHER
Dear, it's just entertainment. This
isn't Shakespeare.

GIRL
Shakespeare was entertainment,
but it had a story.

Barrett eyes the girl and looks to Sonya.

BARRETT
What do you think of the story?

SONYA
The movie's going to do great.

BARRETT
But the story?

SONYA
I loved the effects.

BARRETT
Right.

He glances back and catches the girl's eye as she exits.

EXT. THE MOVIE THEATRE EXIT - NIGHT (TROPICAL)

A blind HOMELESS WOMAN, her eye sockets empty and gnarled, solicits exiting patrons. Her cane taps the pavement like a keyboard.

Barrett walks toward her absent-mindedly, eyes downcast. Sonya steers him around the unpleasant looking woman.

HOMELESS WOMAN
C'mon. A couple like you got change.

Sonya keeps walking, but Barrett turns to the woman.

HOMELESS WOMAN
Spare a little.

He walks back.

SONYA
Barrett...

He has no change so turns to Sonya. She refuses.

SONYA
Because she's blind?

He pulls out his billfold. The woman fixes her empty sockets on Sonya.

HOMELESS WOMAN
I see just fine, Missy.

Barrett hands the woman a twenty. Sonya shakes her head.

SONYA
Aren't you going to 'God bless us'?

HOMELESS WOMAN
You don't need any blessings, your
lives are just fine.
(giving Barrett a toothless grin)
God bless you. You'll need it.

Sonya grabs his arm to escort him away.

HOMELESS WOMAN
It's not the light of day one has
trouble seeing.

He twists his head enough to meet her blind gaze. She winks at him with one eye socket as her cane taps rhythmically.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

The surf pounds rhythmically. Sonya and Barrett lie in bed. She wants to make love, he doesn't. She turns away angrily.

As she sleeps he walks onto the balcony to consider the night. A swimmer strokes through the moonlit waves.

The tapping of keys on a keyboard comes from within the room. It stops when he steps toward the sound.

EXT. ON THE BEACH - DAY

Barrett and Sonya sunbathe. Surfers ride. Luxurious waves lap ashore. He notes a swimmer out beyond the breakers.

SONYA
We're on vacation to be together.
I'm on the beach, where are you?

BARRETT
My movie... it isn't that good.

SONYA
It's another blockbuster. Lighten
up and enjoy yourself.

She runs to the surf. Barrett spies a sunburned, very OLD MAN attempt to roll his wheelchair over the beach sand, unsuccessfully. Barrett walks over.

BESIDE THE OLD MAN

BARRETT
Could you use a hand?

OLD MAN
Push me to the shade. I'd be grateful.

BARRETT
These don't work too good in the
sand. Why'd you come down here?

OLD MAN
Grandkids parked me here and took
off. Be nice to spend time with
them, but I just get in their way.

Barrett wheels the man into the shade and stands beside him. An old-style sundial stands nearby.

IN THE SHADE

A tray attached to the wheelchair holds a jigsaw puzzle
with the pieces face down. The man turns a sand egg-timer and works the puzzle.

OLD MAN
Whaddya do for a living?

He tries a piece, the wrong one. He tries another, it works.

BARRETT
Movies.

He adds another. Must be luck.

OLD MAN
Ever see Casablanca?

Barrett nods and watches one more piece go into place.

OLD MAN
Hitchcock?

He nods again, then points toward the puzzle.

BARRETT
Uh...?

The old man ignores his question. He flips the timer.

OLD MAN
Do stuff like that?

Barrett's cell phone rings. He answers it.

TAG
Time to get back to work.

Tag is a mid 30's hotshot agent.

BARRETT
I'm on vacation.

Another piece fits. Barrett can't believe his eyes. He looks off toward the surfers.

TAG
Only a few more days. I have your
next project lined up.

BARRETT
I'm on vacation.

TAG
Gabriel wants Thug Two and I have
feelers out on your latest outline.

The surfers ride in perfect balance. Yet another piece.

BARRETT
(musing)
Right on the edge of danger.

TAG
What?

BARRETT
Surfers. The waves could pound them
to death. Why do they risk it?

TAG
Surfer dudes, evil waves. Brilliant.
Let's see... haunted waves kill the
surfers. Nobody knows it's the waves.

This is better than the other gigs.
I'll have something on this when
you get back. Damn genius you are.

Barrett closes his cell phone while Tag rambles on.

BARRETT
(to the old man)
No, I don't do anything like that.
Why do you-?

OLD MAN
Easier that way.

BARRETT
But you can't see the picture.

OLD MAN
It's a distraction. See, the pieces
already fit.
(smiling slyly)
It's all in the wrist.

Barrett shakes his head, not comprehending.

OLD MAN
You try.

Barrett hesitates.

OLD MAN
Come on. It's child's play.

Barrett tries. It doesn't fit. The man rummages the pieces.

OLD MAN
This one.

Barrett shakes his head. He notices the man's binoculars.

BARRETT
Could I-

Barrett scans the breakers and locates the swimmer, stroking briskly. He watches her a few moments, then returns them to the old man as he snaps the final piece.

The old man looks through the binoculars seemingly oblivious to Barrett. He turns to leave, then pauses, looking long at the old man, who doesn't even lower the binoculars.

OLD MAN
The trick is to have all the pieces.

Barrett looks from the puzzle to the surfers, the swimmer and back to the puzzle.

INT. BARRETT'S CONDO, HIS HOME OFFICE - DAY

Barrett pulls out an old script. Sonya glances over, drying her just polished nails.

BARRETT
My first story. I almost gave up
writing because of it.

He flips to a series of penciled hash marks on the back.

BARRETT
Rejections. I stopped counting.

He blows dust from the cover and thumbs through the pages.

BARRETT
I couldn't get it right. The
ending eluded me.

She drums her perfect nails on the table, testing them.

SONYA
What is it?

BARRETT
A love story.

She stops drumming her nails to stare.

SONYA
Tag said you have some projects.

BARRETT
Yeah, projects.

He tosses the unfinished screenplay next to his keyboard.

LATER, STILL AT THE DESK

Barrett stares into space. The phone rings, he answers it.

TAG
Killer Surf is a go. Got my packet?

The unopened packet lies in the garbage can.

BARRETT
Yeah.

TAG
Well?

BARRETT
Yeah.

TAG
I squeezed Gabriel for a big
advance. I smell huge money here.
Send me something when you have it.

Barrett hangs up the phone.

BARRETT
Right.

END OF DAY, STILL AT THE DESK

Sonya comes in from work. Wads of paper lie in the garbage.
She eyes him, then steps up to massage his shoulders.

BARRETT
I can't do it anymore.

SONYA
You're still on vacation. Give it a
few days.

She notes his old script lying open next to the keyboard.

SONYA
That isn't what Tag sent you.

BARRETT
I want to get it right.

LATE AT NIGHT, AT THE DESK

Barrett taps away at the keyboard. Sonya, in satin pajamas, looks in on him.

SONYA
That tapping is keeping me awake.
Come to bed.

He looks up, disoriented from intense concentration.

BARRETT
Not yet, I'm trying something.

SONYA
Barrett, give it a rest. I'm not
getting my sleep.

BARRETT
The girl was right. I can't write.

She shakes her head and shuffles off. He crumples another sheet and tosses it in the garbage.

EVEN LATER

Barrett nods off in front of the computer. It beeps and a banner ad pops up from a gambling site. He rubs his eyes and randomly plays a few hands. He quickly loses $500.

EXT. ON THE STREET - NIGHT

Barrett takes a walk. A disheveled HOMELESS MAN steps from the alley shadows, startling him.

HOMELESS MAN
Spare some change?

Barrett finds his pockets empty and shrugs apologetically.

HOMELESS MAN
What're doing out at this time of
night without money?

Barrett looks at his Rolex, not realizing how late it is.

BARRETT
Too tired to sleep.

He glances from the Rolex to the homeless man's grubby wrist. He slips off the Rolex.

BARRETT
Will this do?

HOMELESS MAN
Oh yeah.

Barrett walks a few steps and turns back.

BARRETT
Why you up so late?

The homeless man glances around.

HOMELESS MAN
I sleep during the day when he
doesn't come around. Then my people
can keep an eye on me.
(peers into the shadows and shivers)
He doesn't let me sleep at night.

Barrett looks for someone in the shadows, but finds nothing.

HOMELESS MAN
Oh, you won't see him unless he wants
you to. Then it's too late.

Barrett nods humoring the man's delusion.

INT. TV ROOM OF BARRETT'S CONDO - NIGHT

Barrett surfs late night TV like a zombie. He stops to watch a TELEVANGELIST panhandle away.

THE TV

EVANGELIST
There is no time like the present to
get right with God.

He notes the chart showing the fund-raising progress.

EVANGELIST
Help us reach our heavenly target.

The sound of keyboard tapping comes from Barrett's office. He rubs his eyes, shakes his head and it stops. He nods off with the TV on and remote in hand.

LATER

Barrett wakes to the sound of keyboard tapping again. The TV is off. He looks to his hand, empty, then sees the remote sitting on the TV. He heads toward his office.

BARRETT'S DESK

Nothing amiss in his office. Barrett locates a charity web site and donates $10,000. He panics and clicks cancel, too late. His eyes widen with a blend of panic and delight.

He falls asleep at his desk.

INT. BARRETT'S DESK - (NEXT) MORNING

Sonya peeks in to find Barrett asleep. She studies him and walks away. She returns to set a coffee beside him, then sits and waits. He stirs.

BARRETT
Morning?

SONYA
Is that a question or a greeting?

BARRETT
Both.

SONYA
What'd you get done?

His desk is empty. The computer displays the charity contribution. He shrugs.

SONYA
I'm heading to work. Remember tonight.

BARRETT
Right.

EXT. THE CITY PARK AT THE POND - DAY

Barrett sits on a bench looking onto a pond. A young couple flirts several feet away. He speaks into a tape recorder.

BARRETT
Let's see... something like this,
Exterior, beach, dawn.
The woman shakes her hair dry,
then accepts a towel the man
extends to her.

WOMAN: Beautiful day.
MAN: Do I know you?
WOMAN: Not yet.
MAN: What do I call you?
WOMAN: Loren.

He replays a portion.

TAPE RECORDER
MAN: What do I call you?
WOMAN: Loren.

Barrett replays one word.

TAPE RECORDER
Loren.

He nods approvingly.

INT. BARRETT'S DESK - DAY

Barrett works at the computer wearing the same clothes and unshaven. Sonya walks in from work.

SONYA
You're not ready for the party.

BARRETT
Too tired.

SONYA
We planned this months ago. Don't
pull this too tired on me.

BARRETT
How about, I don't want to go, then?

He motions to the day's work in the garbage can.

BARRETT
I've lost it.

SONYA
Damn it, Barrett. This party's
important to me.

INT. THEIR BEDROOM - NIGHT

Sonya talks on the phone. She peeks out the door at Barrett working at his desk.

SONYA
He's worked hard, but not like this.
He's obsessed.

GIRLFRIEND
How's sex?

SONYA
Infrequent.

GIRLFRIEND
That's it. You two should get away.

SONYA
We just came back from vacation.
I'll give him time to work it out of
his system. A little more lack of
sleep and he'll snap out of it.

GIRLFRIEND
I saw his new flick. Nice.

SONYA
Yeah.


INT. BARRETT'S DESK - NIGHT

The old screenplay lies open on his desk. Barrett looks out the window toward the alley where the homeless man lives.

OUT THE WINDOW

The homeless man faces the alley darkness, gesturing wildly.

BARRETT'S DESK

Barrett punches up a charity site to donate another sum.

THE WALK-IN CLOSET IN THEIR BEDROOM

Sonya sleeps as Barrett pulls clothes from the hangars and folds them into a box. He lingers on a nice silk tie and an expensive suit before folding them as well.

He catches the scent of a perfume. He looks toward the sleeping Sonya.

MEDICINE CABINET

Barrett searches Sonya's perfumes looking for the scent.

BARRETT'S DESK

Barrett types away with the screenplay beside him. He pushes the play button on the tape recorder.

TAPE RECORDER
(Barrett's voice)
Let's see... something like this,
Exterior, beach, dawn.
The woman shakes her hair dry,
then accepts a towel the man
extends to her.

Then Barrett hears a woman's voice on the tape, not his.

TAPE RECORDER
(woman's voice)
Beautiful day.

Barrett slams his hand to the tape recorder hitting the rewind button. He pushes play.

TAPE RECORDER
(woman's voice) Beautiful day.
(Barrett's voice) Do I know you?
(woman's voice) Not yet.
(Barrett's voice) What do I call you?
(woman's voice) Loren.

Barrett rewinds repeatedly.

WOMAN'S VOICE
Loren... Loren.

He examines the tape, then stares at the tape recorder.