Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Blue Night

How about another western tale?  I forgot about this one, but my wife helped come up with the story written in treatment form.  A deaf woman with Native-American heritage is tricked out of her beloved property by her evil brother and his unwilling accomplice.  Perhaps a metaphor for something or another.  I had a book of Native American poetry that was quite beautiful and was anxious to incorporate into as many scripts as I could (which ended up being two).  Sometimes I think all short films should automatically thank O'henry in the credits.

"The Blue Night"
by Aaron Rushin
Story by Kaori Maeyama & Aaron Rushin

The sun rises over the plains.  A lone FedEx delivery truck hustles down a barren stretch of road.  Music plays.  A woman recites a Navajo poem entitled All is Restored in Beauty, "The world before me is restored in beauty./The world behind me is restored in beauty,/The world below me is restored in beauty,/The world above me is restored in beauty,/My voice is restored in beauty./It Is restored in beauty./It Is restored in beauty./It Is restored in beauty./It Is restored in beauty."1

Inside a distant ranch house JULIE bustles about in the kitchen.  Julie is a woman with Native American blood, mid-thirties, beautiful.  She wears little makeup and dresses plainly in a T-shirt and jeans. She is making breakfast, chopping vegetables, whisking eggs, etc...  Music blasts from a boom box on the counter.  She moves to the music, but she glances out the window to see the delivery truck arriving.  She leaps towards the boom box, slamming it off.  She rushes to a mirror in her bedroom, fixing her hair, straightening her shirt. 

Suddenly, out of the shadows, Joseph grabs Julie and demands to know where the safe is.  Julie doesn't answer.  She doesn't make a noise as he shakes her.  He signs for her to speak.  He screams, "Speak!  Talk, goddammit!" He slaps her and asks her why she treats her brother this way.  She fights back, hitting him pretty hard.  Joseph laughs.  Just like old time.  The door bell rings.  Julie stares at Joseph.  Joseph blocks her way for a second.  He smirks, "What are you waiting for?  Answer it."  She walks past him and kicks him the groin.  Joseph falls to the ground.

Outside the house, NICK the FedEx guy, sets the package by the front door.  He lingers about for a second.  He peers through the window next to the door.  He shrugs and walks slowly away and then stops.  Finally the door opens.  Julie grabs the package and says "thank you" in sign language.  "Not a problem", Nick replies.  "Uh are you OK?"  She doesn't reply.  He remarks to her about what she's doing with all those packages, he's been delivering here.  She signs to him that she's a collector.  He shrugs, sighing that he can't understand her anyway.  He walks back down the driveway to the truck.  She closes the door and watches him from the window, peering around the curtain.  Nick climbs back into the truck and looks back towards the door.  He sees her looking through the window.  Neither one looks away.  Nick gets an urgent phone call from his bookie, he answers it, tells him to hang one a second and looks back towards the window, but Julie is gone.  "I'll be there in half and hour", he tells the bookie.  Nick speed off in his truck.

Julie standing near the door turns and sees Joseph sitting in a chair.  He asks her what's in the package.  She signs for him to fuck off.  He tells her he doesn't care what it is.  She signs for him to leave the house immediately.  That it isn't his property.  He tells her he needs a drink.

Julie carries the package towards her bedroom.  She opens the closet and neatly sets the package in with the hundred or so others that sit, neatly stacked unopened.  She falls back onto the bed and closes her eyes, her mind off in someone else's life.

In the middle of a meeting with, FLASH the bookie, Nick sits in the tiny little tavern across from Flash.  It's incredibly smoky in there, and Nick keeps coughing from large amount of smoke from Flash's tiparello. Nick tells him he can get the money.  He just needs a few days.  The bookie after describing Nick's horrible fate should he not pay, agrees to the extension.  He tells Nick that he's watching him.

Nick walks into a local diner in the one horse town.  Suddenly a man, Joseph, sits next to him.  Nick becomes upset and tells the stranger to leave him alone.  The stranger gives his name as Joseph and tells him he can help with his problem.  He proposes that Nick steal some papers from Julie's house and in return, he will give Nick the money he needs.  Nick declines.  To show good faith, Joseph hands him half of the dough.  Nick, unable to to say no to a wad of cash, agrees.  Joseph asks Nick if he has a gun.  Nick replies that of course he does.  A handgun not a rifle, Joseph replies.  Nick shakes his head. Joseph tells Nick to get one.

Julie sits in her bedroom.  She pulls out one of the boxes and sits down on her bed.  She begins to open up the box, but she stops.  She begins to cry and grabs some Scotch tape off her nightstand and tapes the box back over.

Nick dressed nicely, hair slicked back, wearing the nicest clothes he owns, shows up on Julie's doorstep.  Behind his back are some flowers.  In his pocket is a handgun.  He rings the bell and knocks on the door.

Inside, Julie sees Nick at the door and panics.  She rushes to a mirror and doesn't like what she sees.  She grabs a piece of paper and writes down, "Go away" on it.  She slaps the sign on the window next to the door.  Nick sees and begins to holler at Julie that he would like to take her to dinner.  That he couldn't phone since she could hear him, but Julie doesn't see him say this and the sound doesn't travel into the house. 

Nick, seemingly giving up, heads back to his truck.  He finds a piece of paper and a sharpie.  He writes, "I like you.  Come to dinner with me?" on it.  He walks around the house and sees Julie in the kitchen.  He bangs on the window, startling Julie.  She looks at the window and sees Nick's message.  She melts.  After a few moments, she signals to him to give her a minute. 

She answers the door with her hair in a ponytail and a writing pad and pen in her hand.  She writes, "please have a seat" and hands it to him.  She points towards the living room.  She locks the door behind him.  She takes his coat. He sits on the couch.  She sits next to him the couch placing his coat on the arm of the couch.  He tries to communicate with her by speaking to her, but she is too enamored with Nick actually being in her house to respond.  He writes on the note pad, if she would like to have some dinner in town?  She nods and signs, yes.  Nick tells her that if she wants to take some time to get ready to go ahead.  Suddenly there is pounding on the back door. It's Joseph.  He screams something about her actually locking the door.  Julie terrified, screams.  Nick is thrown for a loop and asks her if she is really deaf.  She ignores Nick's questions and tells Nick that her brother, her half-brother, Joseph, wants to take her land from her and sell it.  She tells him that Joseph killed her father.  Nick, in shock, walks towards the door.  Julie begs him not to.  Nick pushes her away, telling her he just wants to talk to him.  Joseph is screaming at them.  Nick opens the door and gets a right cross to the face, knocking him to the floor.  Nick asks Joseph what he is doing there.  Joseph continues to kick and punch Nick for a few more moments while telling Julie about his agreement with Nick.  She doesn't believe Joseph.  Joseph pulls the cash out of Nick's pocket for emphasis.  He punches Nick once more.  Julie runs back to the couch knocking the coat to floor.  The gun falls out and she slowly picks it up from the floor.  Joseph stands over Nick's body a gun outstretched pointed at Nick.  Joseph cries out to Julie, "Look familiar?"  Julie runs toward Joseph.  She shoots Joseph in the chest and falls backward to the floor.  Sitting on the floor, close to Nick who is groggy, but alive.  She holds back tears and shoots one, two, three, four, five bullets into Nick.  She continues pulling the trigger several more times as the gun clicks each time.

Similar music to the opening begins to play.  Julie doesn't make a sound.  We hear her voice recite the words:  2"How shall I begin my song/In the blue night that is settling?/I Will sit here and begin my song."

1&2Taken from, Earth Always Endures: Native American Poems, Ed. Curtis, Phillip: Viking, 1996.

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