Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fail.

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.
                                                                                         -Michael Jordan
 You may remember that last November I wrote proudly of my efforts towards two creative contests. The first I wasn’t likely to get, especially when I kept putting off the work until 3 hours before the deadline. I hastily finished and was surprised with the product. You can see it on my E{art}h page.
The second contest I really got into. I started to really enjoy working as a writer and felt that what I was working on was pretty good. I even got a little smug about it, though not too outwardly, I hope.


However, I received an e-mail last month titled "Screenplay Finalists," congratulating the winners of the 2014 New Mexico Women in Film winners and I was not on the list. I read it three or four times just to be sure, but of the 32 applicants, mine didn't make the top 3 (for better or for worse I wasn't notified what place I made). I suppose I really had it coming, after telling Amil that his feedback was even better than winning, thus jinxing the Universe. I guess I needed this humbling experience, despite how badly I wanted to win. I wish they could provide some feedback. I’d love to hear “great content but the format was wrong" (which is clearly the only reason I didn't place). In any case…my loss is your gain, because you have the opportunity to read my unchosen play for free right below these words. Enjoy. 

Singing & Screaming

SETTING
The outskirts of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Autumn 2010.


CHARACTERS

QUINN- 25, a youthful and idealistic music producer
JAKE- 31, Quinn’s partner, a student
JACIE- 28, Quinn’s best friend
DANIEL- 52, a professor of music theory in Berkeley
JEFFERY- 55, a bar-owner in Pittsburg

SCENE ONE- LIVING ROOM - DAY.
                  
Quinn is sitting on the floor in sweaty work-out clothing, stretching while heavy metal music plays in the background. She gets a text and glances at the phone, ignoring it for a moment while she holds a stretch. She looks around the room, and coming back to the phone, does a stretchy-sort of dance. She reads and makes a face.
                  
QUINN
Oh boy.
(She texts as she speaks)
Yes I’m happy. How ‘bout you?
(She looks at the falling leaves outside)
New season, Sam, I guess it’s time for a check-up.
(She scoffs and goes back to her stretching, keeping the phone beside her. As she makes a new pose, it goes off again, prompting an immediate check. She reads, “not as happy as I would be with you, my angel.” She sighs a half smile)
Jake enters.                                                 
JAKE
Hey.
(he kisses her)
Damn, can you turn that down, I feel like my brain is going to explode.
                  
QUINN
Sorry, I didn't know you'd be home so soon.
(She stops the music as it builds up to a heavy part)

JAKE
Class ended 2 hours ago.
                  
QUINN
Yeah, but then you go to the gym, and you always need “just one more set.”
(she mocks him)

JAKE
Well I have to work a lot harder now that you’ve got me off steroids.
(He smiles, then looks to the stereo and frowns)
I don't know how you can listen to that.
You're so sweet and caring and it's so aggressive.
Why do they have to scream everything? Why can't they just sing, like--
                  
QUINN
Singing and screaming are the same thing. They're just different ways to express passion.
(a beat)
Do you still need help with your English paper?
                  
JAKE
Heh- that’s the only way it’s getting done.
                  
QUINN
Then we better get on it. I think it’s time you graduate from the title “oldest undergrad on campus.”  
                  
JAKE
Heh, thanks. I’m gonna shower and play a round of Halo, then I’ll be ready.  

Jake exits. Quinn's phone rings- an upbeat, sexy tone. She looks after Jake to make sure he's left then looks at the phone. She looks concerned, then answers.
                  
QUINN
Hey girl. What's new?
                  
JACEY (voice)
He fucking cheated! I should have fucking known…

QUINN
What?! Oh god. Where are you? I’m on my way.  


SCENE TWO - CAR INTERIOR, DAY. LEAVES FALLING OUTSIDE                  
DANIEL
Okay, now I'm getting nervous.
 (he looks out the window for a several beats)
What do I even say to her? “Oh, Hi, remember me?”

                   JEFFRY
(shrugs)
How long has it been since you've seen her?
                  
DANIEL
Gosh...8...9 years now?
                  
JEFFRY
And you think she'll remember you?
                  
DANIEL
(Pause)
It's hard to say. I mean, we called each other soul mates. But it was only two short summers.  And she was just a teen then.
                  
JEFFRY
And you were an old perv.
                  
DANIEL
(scoffs)
Come on, Jeff. I did something no perv would ever do. I stepped back for years to let her grow on her own. I got ridiculed and lectured for emotions I couldn't control. I almost lost my job! I'm not going to sit here and listen to you spit this shit out, too. You and everyone else can just fuck off.
                  
JEFFRY
(After a long pause)
You think she's going to drop everything she has here and come back to Berkeley with you?
                  
DANIEL
…Yes.
                  
JEFFRY
And if she doesn't? What then? You ‘gonna move in with me and stalk her ‘til she gives in?
                  
DANIEL
No.
(long pause)
No- I'll...move on...keep distracting myself with making music and meeting reckless women. If she's happy...
(sigh)
I'd be a dick to interfere.
                  
JEFFRY
But you are interfering. That's the whole point of you calling me up randomly "for a favor" and flying across the country so we could drive across the state to see her...isn't it?
                  
DANIEL
Yes, but. Well fuck. I just couldn't stand it anymore. Wondering. Reliving the words we spoke, the plans we made and wondering...and wondering. And fucking wishing fate would have been kinder.
                  
JEFFRY
(after a long pause)
How did you find her?
                  
DANIEL
Facebook.
(they both laugh)

                       
SCENE THREE - EXT. PARK IN AUTUMN
                  
Leaves are falling, Quinn is sitting on the grass with Jacey. Throughout the conversation she is building a stick fort.
                  
QUINN
But are you okay?
                  
JACEY
Fuck no. I mean, I’m fine. What’s a man but baggage anyway? But- what a way to end it. Just yesterday he was calling me his angel and saying he would do anything for me. What a load of shit! …anyway… how’s Jake? He would never cheat. He wouldn’t know what to do without you.

QUINN
Ohhhh, Jakey. You know, he's so old and so young at the same time. He’s like a lost puppy finding his way through the world. I just want
a man who has found himself already.
JACEY
And needs a wild young woman to get him lost again?
(Quinn snickers)

QUINN
Exactly.

                  
A few yards away, Daniel and Jeffry meander along the path under the leaves. As they talk we see Jacey hug Quinn and leave. Quinn remains, looking up to the sky.
                  
DANIEL
Oh my god. I think that's her.
                  
JEFFRY
You're joking? Which one?
(Daniel nods toward Quinn)
Well, go ahead. Let’s get this over with.
                  
DANIEL
No. I can't do it here. I've thought it over and over in my mind and it has to be at her house, so I can see where she lives, who she has become.
(He pauses, looking around)
 This is too open. Not intimate enough.
                  
JEFFRY
A park can be pretty intimate, trust me. Do you want me to go talk to her? Ask her name, and make sure that it's her?
                  
DANIEL
No!
(pause)
Yes. Yes. Go chat with her about something… light. Tell me what she sounds like.
(Jeffry walks away before Daniel finishes)
                  
Jeffry approaches Quinn slowly, and Quinn continues to look up at the sky through the leaves. As Jeffry looks around for something to say, she starts the conversation.
                       
QUINN
Isn't it gorgeous?
                  
JEFFRY
The color?
                  
QUINN
The sound. The sound the leaves make. It's hypnotizing.
                  
JEFFRY
(looking up to the leaves, then down at Quinn. their eyes meet)
 I, uh, I haven't been here before. It is ...stunning.
                  
QUINN
I come here as much as I can. People consider it more of a landfill than a park because of all the graffiti and broken benches...but something about it inspires me.
                  
JEFFRY
…I'm Jeffry. Jeff.
                  
QUINN
Quinn …I like Jeffry. It sounds wise.
                  
JEFFRY
hah, well that's me. Old and wise.
                  
QUINN
(Pause. They look at each other, then away. She grabs her scarf and bag and starts to exit)
Well I hope you enjoy the park as much as I do, Jeffry.
                       
She scampers off, and he watches her go, a smile twitching on his lips. Daniel comes up to meet him.
                  
DANIEL
Well?
                  
JEFFRY
That's her alright. Quinn. It sounds cuter when she says it.
DANIEL
mmm.
(They both stare after her. Daniel makes short paces in front of Jeffry)
                  
JEFFRY
Oh, come on. It's a beautiful day.
(he smiles)
                  
DANIEL
I've got to settle my nerves. I'm going for a coffee. You want to come?
                  
JEFFRY
(looking up at the leaves and around the park)
You know, I think I'll stay here and breathe in the fresh air.
                  
With a nod, Daniel exits. Jeffry looks around the park, eying a bench but getting distracted by a woman walking her dog. Quinn comes up behind him, approaching hesitantly.
                  
QUINN
It’s hard to tear away, isn’t it?
                  
JEFFRY
Hmm?
(turning around)
Oh, Hi.
(he warms)
I thought you left. Indeed it is.
                       
A beat. Quinn smiles, as if to say something, as Jeffry opens his mouth to speak. Before either can get a word out there's a loud squawk from a crow flying overhead.  They both look up. Then back down at each other. She lets out a breathy chuckle.
                  
JEFFRY
What? What's funny?
                  
QUINN
(lightly laughing)
It’s just…you remind me of someone.
                  
JEFFRY
Your father? Heh.
                  
QUINN
No… My first love.
(She looks him up and down)
Maybe it’s just your posture.
Want to see my favorite place in the park?
                  
JEFFRY
Yes, sure. Definitely.
                  
QUINN
(smiling)
Follow me.
(They walk into a thicket of trees, where she drops down to her knees to crawl under a row of rose bushes)
Watch the thorns on that one.
             
JEFFRY
This is your favorite place?

QUINN
Yeah, just wait and see.
(She sees his hesitation.)
Trust me.
                  
JEFFRY
Okay.
(He slowly lowers to his knees, crawling stiffly behind her. He emerges from the tunnel to an enchanting enclosure of flowers and flora)
Oh wow.
                  
QUINN
In the afternoon the sun shines through that gap-
(she points upward)
-and it’s so cozy. It’s my way to get away from it all.  
(He looks at her and smiles. She shares the gaze, which they hold for a while)
                  
JEFFRY
What do you have to get away from?
                  
QUINN
Life. Hah. Well, I’m a music producer. Somehow living my dream. We just set up our studio, and we have all sorts of artists trickling in. It’s a slow start but I love it.
                  

JEFFRY
Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life?

QUINN
Who wouldn’t? Music is such a release. And I love putting my moods to music.

JEFFRY
What mood do you feel right now?

QUINN
Hmm, something—
(Her phone rings a whimsical, energetic tune. She pulls it out, embarrassedly. She sighs) Sorry.
(Answering the phone)
Hey hun.

JAKE (voice)
Hey! I just got a call from the loan office that you paid my balance! You’re an angel.
(Quinn shudders slightly, smiling at Jeffry)
Can I repay you with some dinner? Then we can work on my paper?

QUINN
(to Jake)
Sure! That sounds great. I’ll say ciao to Jacey and head home. You too. Bye.
(she hangs up and half-smiles at Jeffry)
                  
JEFFRY
Shit, I should let you go. I mean, I’ve got to go, too. I’m meeting someone.
                  
QUINN
Yeah.
(neither of them move. Then they both start out the tunnel at the same time. They laugh.)
You first.
                  
JEFFRY
No way- I’m not letting you watch me squeeze through there.
(Quinn laughs, and goes first through the tunnel. On the other side as he crawls through, she picks off some leaves, picking some off him as he stiffly stands up)

QUINN
Maybe I’ll see you again, Jeffry? I come here every week.
                  
JEFFRY
I wish I could. I actually live a few hours away.
                  
QUINN
Oh. Well, have fun with your ‘friend’.

JEFFRY-
(extending his hand for a handshake)
It will pale in comparison to your company.

QUINN
(She blushes, brushing past his hand and giving him a hug)
Thanks.
                  
Quinn disappears through some trees. Jeffry walks out of the thicket and back to the trail, where Daniel is pacing.
                  
DANIEL
(holding a disposable coffee cup)
 What the hell? I thought you ditched me.
                  
JEFFRY
(smiling and shaking his head)
Are you ready for this?

DANIEL
(Sigh)
Well I didn’t fly all the way out here for a shitty cup of coffee.
(They exit)
    
SCENE FOUR- INT. LIVING ROOM, NIGHT.

Quinn sits on the sofa, a laptop in her lap. Jake lays hunched over a book at the table. There is a knock at the door. Quinn glances at Jake, unmoving, and picks herself off the sofa toward the door. She opens it, staring outside, her mouth drops open.

THE END

It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.
                                                                                                  -Bill Gates

3 comments:

  1. Interesting story - and I think that it's Jeffrey, and I right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting story - and I think that it's Jeffrey, and I right?

    ReplyDelete