10/05/2016

Apologetic? Part I


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Welcome to book 4 of The DSU. If you want to download and own this in full as an ebook, please follow the links...



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This is a story in 4 parts, links will be provided forward and backward top and bottom. Comment below or tell me what you think at:



Let's keep introductions short with a quick synopsis and then jump straight into things...

A western inspired fantasy about Ben and Tom who, as children, find two guns that never run out of bullets and never have to be reloaded. Raised to live a relentless life of crime we re-join them years later. The two have separated, but will be journeying across the desert to meet again as Tom has unknowingly killed Ben's wife.


Before we start...

This is a story told in the rough form of a screenplay - a movie.

If you've never read a screenplay, you'll need to know the following:

EXT - Exterior. Found in scene headers to indicate we are outside.

INT - Interior. Also found in scene headers, but to indicate we are inside.

(O.S) - Off screen. Found next to character names.

(V.O) - Voice over. Also found next to character names.

(CONT'D) - Continued. Used to indicate continued speech next to character names.

SUPER: - Superimpose. To indicate text is seen over images.

The rest should be self-explanatory.

Enjoy...

FADE IN:

EXT. DESERT - DUSK

A serene desert lit by a crimson sky. Breeze displaces the sand ever so slightly but everything remains untroubled.

Face down in the sand are two bodies twenty feet from one another. Their blood saturates the sand.

From the vast backdrop come two small figures, timid and slow moving.

Each of their steps is taken in both peril and excitement.

As they come closer to the bodies they slow to a snail's pace, their timidity growing, their curiosity failing. Still they press on.

They approach a body, mesmerised by the destruction of life and the serenity of the crime scene.

They come ever closer allowing their faces to come into focus...

Two boys in their early teens, TOM and BEN, both scrawny, dressed in rags and filthy.

They reach one of the bodies.

The sand around it indicates a slow struggle. Its disheveled clothes are stained with blood, some its own, some not.

Ben picks up the man's hat and wipes the sand out of it.

Tom walks a few paces away from the body and picks up a GUN.

It's a revolver like nothing he's seen before. It has a tainted silver frame, long black barrel and a worn brown grip.

He holds it up to his face, looking down the sights. He carefully pulls out the cylinder.

The gun is fully loaded.

He tries to empty the cylinder by turning the gun up, but the bullets don't budge.

He cautiously taps the cylinder to get the bullets to fall. Still they don't move.

Tom tentatively clips the cylinder back into place, holds the gun in his two hands and gawps.

Ben walks up behind him, looking over his shoulder.

He gasps.

Ben runs across the sand, stumbling and kicking up dust as he makes his way to the other body. Without any hesitance, he reaches it and begins looking for a gun.

He finds one just out of reach of the body's outstretched hand and picks it up.

It's identical to the one Tom found. Tainted silver frame, long black barrel, worn brown grip.

Cradling the gun in his hands he runs over to Tom, showing him what he found.

They smile at each other in disbelief.

TOM

These are ours and always will be. As long as we have them we will be brothers.

They walk away.

EXT. JARODD PLEASANT - MORNING

Ben and Tom walk into a miniscule town made up of wooden shacks and sand. There are no major buildings, just houses and gates marking simple lonely homes.

The town is encompassed by a desolate horizon, its only hues are blue and yellow, the only features of this world are sand, sun and sky.

It's early morning so the town quietly sleeps.

BEN

The well.

They both head over to the well in the centre of town.

Tom drops the bucket down then brings it back up full of crystal blue water. He takes a handful to drink then leaves the bucket on the wall for Ben.

After quenching their thirst, they both sit in the shade of the well with their backs against the cool stone wall.

Both have their guns wrapped in pieces of cloth that used to be their jackets.

Tom unravels his and places it on his lap, still finding it hard to believe that the gun is real.

A door creaks open and knocks shut.

Tom covers his gun up.

Footsteps make their way over to the well...

Thunk...

Thunk...

Thunk...

They stop.

FOOTSTEPS

Err, hello?

Tom and Ben stand up to see an old man dressed in a dusty suit holding a cup.

BEN

Hello.

FOOTSTEPS

People call me Jay.

Ben and Tom only fidget.

JAY

Now don't worry, you can drink from the well. I've seen you here before. What are your names?

They're both reluctant...

TOM

I'm Tom, he's Ben.

JAY

You boys hungry?

They nod.

Jay fills his cup and walks toward his small house. Hesitantly, the boys go after him.

INT. JAY'S HOUSE - MORNING

The house is two stories high but only has two rooms: downstairs and upstairs.

Downstairs, Jay beckons the boys over to a table near the back of the room.

Jay then opens the door to a metal stove, taking out a sheet of bacon. He sets it on the table and takes a seat.

JAY

You two can take some. There's more than enough.

Ben and Tom take a few pieces and chew on them.

JAY

A pretty desolate place here... but that doesn't mean there's no food or water. There's always been enough to go around this place. Take that well you two were at, it's never been dry. And the food, never been without it. There's a story people tell each other around here. You want to hear it?

The boys nod.

JAY

It's said that many years ago this desert was cursed, home to the devil or some evil. No man nor woman would come near it, not to pass through, not even to take a piss. But here we are, in the desert, so who was the first to go where no man would? A child. Two children in fact. Two boys, one named Jarodd and the other Mason. They were sons to nobody and nobody would take them in, so, to survive, they stole. This obviously got them in a bit of trouble, but what matters is that they were never caught. Going from town to town, taking what they had to, got harder with each stolen apple or loaf of bread though. Jarodd and Mason eventually couldn't find a town to get into without someone recognising them and chasing them out. To find somewhere new where they could scratch their living they decided they should cross the desert. And so they tried. Without a second thought. No hesitation. They walked for days and days not knowing whether to turn back or press on or even if they were walking with any direction. Eventually, Mason fell in the sand, dead. Jarodd lost hope and laid in the sand beside his friend, waiting for death. He stayed there until night fell and the ground grew cold, until Mason's body disappeared into the sand. Jarodd searched for him, digging frantically, afraid to be left alone, to die without a friend. He dug until morning, until his fingers touched stone. Out of this stone came what some would call the devil, but what Jarodd would call a saviour. He took pity in this near dead boy and promised him life. He raised a well made of the very stone he came from and he gave Jarodd a crate. The saviour then said to him that the well will never be empty and the crate will forever be full of food. He then disappeared. But, Jarodd never ate nor did he drink, for each time he opened the crate or looked into the well he saw the skeleton of Mason. He died. Years later, another child, also named Mason, found himself in the desert. He came across the bones of a boy about his size, a well and a crate. By some miracle of course. How had the sand not hidden it all? But, the boy ate and the boy drank, but when he slept he had the worst nightmare. The bones he buried in the sand came back to life by stealing his soul. The next morning he woke up sobbing, yet not knowing why. Later he would recall the dream, that the bones stole his soul and that they were called Jarodd. Mason went on to found this here town. But was plagued with nightmares, memories that weren't his, those he claimed belonged to the bones he buried. Most people thought him crazy, the story ridiculous, and others stayed away from the desert entirely--most still do to this day. I guess that's why this is such a lonesome place...

(thinks a moment)

... you boys finished there?

They nod.

Jay takes the tray off the table and sets it back in the stove. As Jay walks back over to the table there's a...

KATHUNK

... the sound of metal hitting wood.

Tom bends under the table to pick up the gun.

JAY

What have you got there?

Ben and Tom freeze.

JAY

A secret then.

Tom brings the gun up, placing it on to the table, fear plastered across his face.

JAY

A gun.

Ben puts his gun next to it.

JAY

Two guns. Where did you get them?

BEN

We found them out in the desert.

JAY

Well... then I guess they're yours to keep.

Both boys snatch the guns off the table and put them back on their laps.

JAY

Do you boys even know how to shoot?

They shake their heads.

EXT. JAY'S BACK GARDEN - DAY

Jay sets up some glass bottles on his fence, the endless desert beyond.

JAY

Ok, boys. I'm going to show you how to shoot. Just know I'm not the best, but that I've also never shot myself in the foot.

He pulls a worn down silver revolver from his belt, stands with his feet in line with his shoulders, checking as he does so, and looks down his sights toward the bottles at the bottom of the garden.

JAY

The important thing is to take your time and only touch the trigger when you have the shot. Don't be touching it at any other point. Stay calm and loose, but be ready for the shot and the recoil. And make sure you don't stiffen your elbow otherwise it ain't going to be working for you for a while.

The boys nod, taking it in.

Jay takes a moment, a deep breath, then...

BANG

... he shoots, the boys flinch...

SMASH

... a bottle explodes into hundreds of glistening pieces.

JAY

These are not tools of destruction. They do not kill people, boys. Remember that and you won't fear them. You are in control, you command the gun, do not let fear or misjudgment control you.

(the boys nod along)

Sounds stupid. But only because it's obvious. You got ammo?

(the boys nod)

They loaded?

(the boys nod)

And you dropped that gun?

Tom looks down at his feet. Jay just shakes his head.

JAY

All right. Both of you aim your guns and spread your feet just like I did. When you raise your arms lean forward a little whilst bending your knees.

The boys step up, doing as Jay says.

JAY

Ok, now concentrate on lining your sights up and seeing only what they show you.

The boys do.

JAY

Find a bottle. Your guns are heavy, but don't tense up. Feel the weight and breathe. Remember, you are in control. Make sure you keep your fingers away from the trigger and away from the cylinder. You don't want to hurt yourselves or anyone else.

Their sights search for targets.

JAY

When you're ready and when you feel relaxed, make sure you have your shot and then take it.

All is silent.

The boys arms hover about in front of them, straining to stay up.

They fidget slightly, shifting their weight from side to side.

There's a long silence before...

B-BANG

... the boys shoot at the same time.

Not one bottle smashes.

JAY

That was good. You listened to what I said and done it perfectly. Shooting, once done right, is all about precision. If you practice and you stick to your craft it'll become your art. You two keep going. I'll go get you some more ammo.

Both boys return to form. Jay walks into his house.

INT. JAY'S HOUSE

He makes his way over to a set of drawers near the oven.

B-BANG

He rummages through the drawers.

B-BANG

Not finding anything he makes his way over to the stairs.

INT. UPSTAIRS

B-BANG

He makes his way up the stairs and over to his bed.

B-BANG

He kneels down beside the bed and pulls out a box from below.

B-BANG

Jay gets to his feet and then sits on the bed, opening the box. It's overflowing with hand written letters that spill onto the floor as he goes through.

B-BANG

He picks out a small box of bullets and starts picking up the letters, placing them back.

B-BANG

He closes the box then stands, noticing that one letter remains on the floor. He picks it up.

It's folded up so that the only words visible are:

TO MY JAY,

B-BANG

Jay slots the letter into his breast pocket.

EXT. JAY'S BACK GARDEN

Jay walks out the back door and looks up at the sky.

B-BANG

The last of the glass bottles smash.

JAY

How many shots did you take?

BEN

We got them all eventually.

They both drop their arms.

Jay approaches, scratching his head with the box of bullets.

JAY

Would you hand me one?

Ben hands Jay his revolver.

Jay puts the box of bullets down and carefully unclips the cylinder.

It's still fully loaded.

He tries to empty it.

No bullets come lose.

JAY

Well, look what we have here... something unexplainable. Guess you won't be needing these any time soon.

Jay taps the bullets on the floor with his foot.

JAY

I suppose you better carry on then. I'll get some more bottles.

He gives Ben his gun back.

INT. JAY'S HOUSE - LATER

Ben and Tom are at the table with Jay, drinking water from metal cups.

BEN

Why did Jarodd call the devil his saviour?

JAY

Because he didn't call him the devil first and foremost.

TOM

But, didn't he torture him with food that he could never eat?

JAY

Of course he could have eaten. He could have drank too to be honest.

TOM

But he died.

JAY

Boys often do. Especially those out in this desert. I--

BEN

The devil made Jarodd see Mason instead of food.

JAY

Fine... Fine... But, there isn't always a devil to blame. To tell you the truth I never could blame the devil for any evil I've seen. All evil in this world is the doing of people, good, bad, sad, lonely, brave, fearless... it all depends on the story being told.

BEN

What about the well?

JAY

Never been empty. Just like my stomach. That's what makes an old man around here.

EXT. JAY'S BACK GARDEN - NIGHT

The boys sit in the dust, chatting quietly.

Jay sits by the back door, drinking from a steaming cup, the folded up letter in his hand.

EXT. DESERT - DAY

A horse approaches a town from the desert, off the main road, heading toward the back gardens of a cluster of small homes.

The rider brings his horse to a halt about twenty metres out from the gardens, dismounts and whispers into its ear so it gallops off.

The rider draws his gun.

It has a tainted silver frame, long black barrel and a worn brown grip.

Tom, grown into a man, trudges toward the town, eyes hard.

EXT. VALENTINA - BACK GARDENS

A woman steps out of her back door, dragging a thin rug out with her, and throwing it over a rope line she has set up at the bottom of her small garden.

She picks up her wicker beater then starts hitting the carpet, coughing as dust and sand billow away from it.

Her next door neighbour comes out of her back door, also dragging a rug with her.

NEIGHBOUR

Hey, Jill.

JILL

(coughs)

Claudia.

The neighbour, Claudia, throws her rug over a rope and starts beating it.

JILL

How's that painting coming along?

CLAUDIA

Ugh. I'll give up soon.

JILL

You're better with people. I liked the one you did a few weeks back.

CLAUDIA

Mm. A landscape sits still though. And it doesn't moan.

They laugh, continuing to...

THUMP

THUMP

THUMP

... beat the rugs.

JILL

The kids?

CLAUDIA

What's that?

JILL

How the kids doing?

CLAUDIA

Just fine. Had the two youngest pulling out each others teeth yesterday. They were hiding out by the corner, jealous of Trish.

JILL

I thought I--

BANG

Jill stumbles backward then drops.

Claudia...

CLAUDIA

AAAAHHH!

... screams.

BANG

A bullet rips through her rug, into her chest, blood exploding from her shattered spine.

THUMP

She hits the floor...

THUMP

... the carpet falling on top of her.

Tom jumps Jill's fence, knocking her rug away, stepping past her dead body, toward her back door.

Neighbours start peeking out, stepping into back gardens.

B-B-BANG

All but one manges to run back inside.

BAM

Claudia's back door bursts open.

An eleven year old girl stands horrified.

TRISH

MUMMY!

She runs out to the body below the carpet as Tom steps into:

INT. JILL'S HOUSE

Gun at his side, unphased, he jogs through to the staircase, going...

INT. UPSTAIRS

... to the closest window at the front face of the house, peering out seeing the town bank on the corner of the road.

Men with rifles and pistols start pouring into the street from an intersection the opposite end of the road to the bank.

Tom runs to the back of the house, popping a window open, climbing out to:

EXT. VALENTINA - DAY

He pulls himself onto the roof of the house, keeping low, running toward the bank across the slanted rooftops.

Tom's quickly on the end of the row of adjoined houses.

People start to feed into Jill and Claudia's gardens.

Tom passes over the roof, to the other side of the street, jumping, grabbing a hold of a lamppost and dropping down...

THUMP

... straight in front of the bank.

A few people spot him, but most of the crowd is down the other end of the street with the band of men trying to control the situation and organise a search party.

Ben jogs across the street into:

INT. THE BANK

A short bespectacled TELLER bumps into Tom on his way in.

TELLER

Sir, I think we're closing.

Tom brandishes a knife and, before the Teller can react, jams it into his gut.

BAM

He falls to his knees, gripping onto Tom's jacket, dropping his keys.

Tom stabs him in the back, puncturing a lung, leaving him on the floor, gasping, trying to call out for help.

The bank is otherwise empty.

Tom picks up the Teller's keys, passing through the open security gate, locking it behind him, going into the back room...

INT. BANK VAULT ROOM

B-BANG

... shooting the security guard with his hands all over the young CLERK.

She throws herself away from the dying body, about to scream.

TOM

(gun pointed)

I dare you.

She suppresses all sound, on the verge of hyperventilation.

He grabs her wrist, lifting her to her feet, gun pressed to her side, leading her to the vault.

TOM

You know the combination. I will kill you.

CLERK

Please...

Tom throws her wrist toward the combination locks, putting his arm around her throat and squeezing so she can't breath.

Tears streaming, she extends a shaky hand and starts spinning.

Tom has his gun pointed toward the door, waiting for footsteps.

The clerk makes the first two turns on the first lock, but stops for the third to tap Tom's arm, panicking, face turning red.

Tom squeezes harder.

She splutters, eyes bulging, fingers working the combination as best as they can.

BANG-BANG-BANG

Someone beats on the security gate.

MAN (O.S)

You're surrounded! Throw out your weapon and unlock the gate!

The Clerk works the second combination on the second and last lock before dropping her hands to her sides, knees going weak, passing out.

Tom loosens his grip, shaking her awake and then slamming her face against the door.

She cries out:

CLERK

AHH!

MAN (O.S)

Let her go or we'll start shooting!

Tom whispers into her ear:

TOM

It's me or them. Open the vault.

MAN (O.S)

Nora, you're fine, hun! We're getting you out!

The Clerk raises her hand to the lock, simply quivering.

Tom puts his gun to her temple.

She starts spinning.

THUNK

Tom draws her away, spinning the hand wheel and pulling the door open.

MAN (O.S)

Don't you go in that vault, boy!

BANG

A shot is fired into the ceiling in the other room.

Tom starts dragging the Clerk toward the room door, away from the vault, using her for cover.

But, no longer held open, the vault door starts closing.

TOM

Shit.

He drags her back, catching the door with his foot.

MAN (O.S)

You have until the count of three or I blasts this lock off and all hell rains down on you, boy!

Tom sighs, holstering his gun, drawing his knife.

The Clerk whimpers.

INT. THE BANK

The room is filled. About twenty men have rifles and pistols at the ready, aimed through the cage.

The SHERIFF speaks to Tom:

SHERIFF

Boy, you hear me? Let the girl go and we arrest you. Harm one hair or force our hand and we torture your ass! Boy!?

Silence...

SHERIFF

I said three! I'm counting, boy!

The men fidget, most fearful. The Sheriff cocks his gun.

SHERIFF

(quietly, to the men)

No one shoots. I'm gonna scare him. Nora's not gonna to die for this.

The men nod, some withdrawing their weapons.

SHERIFF

One!

He puts the muzzle of his gun between one of the chain linked holes.

SHERIFF

Two!

He shifts in his place, finger coming close to the trigger.

SHERIFF

I said I shoot on three, boy!

Silence...

The Sheriff glances to the men around him.

There's movement toward the door.

SHERIFF

That's right. Keep coming.

Silence again.

SHERIFF

I said two! Don't make me say three!

Nothing.

SHERIFF

Just keep coming!

Nothing.

SHERIFF

(to himself)

Shit.

He aims to the top of the door.

SHERIFF

Th--

BANG

The Sheriff drops backwards, blood splatters, his gun getting caught in the cage.

B-B-B-BANG

Shots continually blast through the door.

The men...

B-B-B-B-B-BANG

... fire back blindly, dropping to the ground and going for cover...

B-B-B-B-B-BANG

Soon the only shots being fired come from Tom.

EXT. VALENTINA - DAY

A group of about ten more men listen to the shooting, waiting for them to stop, astounded.

Men begin crawling out of the door and past them.

INT. BANK VAULT ROOM

BOOM

Tom kicks the door open...

INT. THE BANK

B-B-BANG

... still shooting, catching the half dozen scurrying men in the backs as they run for the door.

Silence.

Tom steps through the open cage door (its lock blasted off) toward the bank's entrance.

He speaks with control, calmly:

TOM

You clear the way. You drop your weapons. You let me leave. Otherwise, the girl and everything I can't take goes.

Silence.

TOM

I want to hear you moving away.

Footsteps back away from the bank outside.

Tom backs toward the security cage...

INT. BANK VAULT ROOM

He comes through, stepping over the Clerk's dead body that props the door open, to get into the vault.

INT. THE BANK - LATER

Tom steps toward the door, two bags of coins around his neck, held together with detonating wire.

He also holds a length that runs back through into the vault room.

He stops, thinking.

He turns back to the counter seeing a bottle of lemonade with its top blasted off.

EXT. VALENTINA - DAY

Pointed guns wait in anticipation outside the bank.

The rest of the town crowds at a distance.

The bank door opens.

Fingers come to triggers.

A hand holding wire comes out of the door frame.

TOM

Detonating wire! TNT in the vault with the girl!

KATSHH

Tom lights a match, holding it so all can see.

TOM

Two more packs in my pocket! Drop the guns!

The match is blown out.

INT. THE BANK

Tom hears a dozen or so guns dropped.

Gun drawn, he steps out to:

EXT. VALENTINA - DAY

A few guns are still raised, but don't remain there long.

TOM

Gasoline. I shoot it, it goes up.

He points his gun to the wet patch in the doorway that the wire runs through.

Everyone cranes their neck to see.

TOM

(pointing out men)

You, the cart. You, here.

A scrawny man with one arm goes for a wheelbarrow near one of the nearby houses whilst a fat man trudges toward Tom.

EXT. VALENTINA - LATER

The one armed scrawny man circulates with the wheelbarrow, collecting guns.

Tom has taken the fat man's shirt off and used it to tie his wrists to one of the bank posts. He's also taken off his trousers, tied one leg to his ankle and the other to the detonating wire.

Tom tugs on the trousers, pulling the wire tight.

TOM

It's good stuff. You won't be able to break it.

The fat man just lays there, half humiliated, half terrified.

Tom sniffs, pulling his matches.

TOM

You been drinking? It smells like it's all over you.

FAT MAN

Please, it spilled when we rushed. Don't light me up.

Tom just stands, eyebrows raised, exhaling a short laugh.

The one armed man has collected all the guns.

TOM

You run your retarded ass that way.

He points down the road, out of town. The small crowd standing there immediately clear when they see Tom's gun pointed their way.

TOM

Move.

The one armed man starts running, having a hard time about it, but going nonetheless.

B-BANG

Tom fire two shots past his ears.

The one armed man screams, shaking his head, deafened.

He runs harder.

Tom chuckles, lighting a match and dropping it on the fat man's trousers.

WOOOOOF

They're ablaze instantly.

Tom steps back, shocked.

The fat man's immediately screaming, pulling at the wire, but stuck.

TOM

Anyone moves. I start shooting.

He walks through the parting crowd, toward the row of houses opposite the bank, bags of money...

CLINK

CLINK

... clinking as he goes.

The crowd watch him pass as the fire spreads across the trouser legs, the fat man screaming, the manic one armed guy sprinting, wailing, leaving town as fast as he can.

CLINK

CLINK

CLINK

Tom stops in the door of one of the houses, a second before...

PFFFFFFFFFFFFF

... the fire hits the detonating wire, fizzling down, toward the bank.

Tom steps into the house.

Everyone runs, some toward the one armed guy, some away from the threat of explosion, some of the braver toward the bank and fat man.

Immediately someone takes a knife to the shirt tying him to the post.

The fat man then snatches the knife away and slices at the the ablaze trousers, getting lose, staggering away from the bank.

Some men try to stomp the detonated wire out or even shoot it, but before they manage anything the spark snakes into the bank.

MAN

Run!

Everyone clears the area, diving into cover.

EXT. BACK GARDENS

Tom bursts through a back door, whistles sharply, running out into the desert with the bags of money.

His horse runs to meet him.

EXT. VALENTINA

In town everyone's braced, waiting for the explosion...

PFFFFFFFFFFFFFT

Silence...

Nothing...

It takes a while after the sizzling wire goes quiet for everyone to pop out of cover.

INT. BANK VAULT ROOM

The burnt out wire is tied to the wheel on the vault door, still propped open by the dead Clerk.

Men tentatively pile in, crowding around, stood in a vacuum of silence.

MAN

Shit...

EXT. DESERT

Tom rides hard, the town distant.

EXT. VALENTINA

The deaf one armed man still runs for his life, refusing to look back to the trailing men trying to catch him up.

EXT. DESERT - NIGHT

Tom still rides, Valentina fallen off the horizon, not a worry on his face.

EXT. LONA SOD RISIO - DAY

Ben rests up against the back of a wooden building, his hat over his eyes, grimy, coated in a layer of alcohol and sweat.

HISSSSS

A snake.

Ben stands up haphazardly, catching his hat as it falls from his head.

The snake springs at Ben, biting into his leg just above the boot.

He yells out in shock, kicking the building, knocking the snake off his leg...

BOOM

BOOM

BOOM

KASPLAT

... stomping it dead.

He picks it up and walks around to the front of the building, a small pharmacy with dirty windows and a creaky door.

INT. LONA SOD RISIO PHARMACY

The interior of the building is just as filthy as the outside, glass bottles line the walls but their contents and labels are hidden by the dust.

Ben slams the snake on the counter. Blood splatters.

He looks at the concerned CLERK.

CLERK

How can I help?

BEN

This bit me. What do I do?

CLERK

When a snake bites you there's not much to do. But, you don't need to worry. I think this is a Hognose. There's a nest out back.

Ben looks down at the snake.

CLERK

Is there anything else?

BEN

I'm not going to die?

CLERK

Nah, this thing will play dead or bite you. It's not venomous enough to kill... in fact I don't think it's venomous at all.

Ben stares at the snake not sure what to think.

BEN

Matches.

CLERK

Only got flint.

BEN

Some flint then.

The Clerk reaches for a small box on a shelf behind him, placing it on the counter.

Ben picks it up and turns toward the door.

CLERK

Err, that would be--

BEN

You got blood on it.

He pushes through the door leaving it ajar.

The Clerk can say nothing until...

CLERK

Your snake.

Ben walks back in the door and picks up the snake.

He stands looking at the Clerk a moment.

He fidgets, shrinking.

Ben leaves.

EXT. LONA SOD RISIO

Ben strolls out of the store holding the box of flint and the snake by the head.

A woman struts past in front of him. Ben looks down at the snake then casts it to the side.

INT. BROTHEL - ROOM - LATER

Ben sits on the end of a bed, putting his boots back on.

A young PROSTITUTE sits with her back to him, wet cheeks, blinking tears away, slowly sipping from a glass of water.

She sniffs.

Ben tuts, flicking the hair away from her shoulders, looking at the numerous red marks around her neck.

BEN

You're fine. Stop making that fucking noise.

She speaks hoarsely:

PROSTITUTE

That's your time. You're supposed to leave--

BEN

I'm going.

He gets his boot on and throws a coin on the bed before leaving.

INT. BROTHEL - DOWNSTAIRS

A fat woman, the OWNER, sits by the door. Ben comes down.

OWNER

You pay?

Ben dismisses her.

BEN

When did they start crying? It's pathetic.

The Owner huffs, moving away from Ben as he leaves, then trudges up the squeaky staircases.

Not long after she's gone is the prostitute upstairs crying out, being thrown around the room.

EXT. LONA SOD RISIO

Ben comes out of the brothel, heading toward the hitching post across the road.

A man wearing a WHITE SUIT rides toward Ben on his horse, his head down.

Ben watches as he comes down the dirt path, the horse stopping just in front of him.

WHITE SUIT

Ben?

BEN

What?

WHITE SUIT

I work for Charlotte. She wanted me to invite you to her home on the other side of Risio.

BEN

What's the message?

WHITE SUIT

There is no message other than the invite.

Ben starts trudging past the Suit.

WHITE SUIT

It's your wife. She's dead. Murdered.

Ben stops, no emotional response.

BEN

Who?

WHITE SUIT

People say Tom.

Ben keeps on past the Suit to the hitching post, unhitching his horse and then riding out of town.

The suit watches him go, confused.

EXT. OUT OF TOWN - DAY

Ben rides until Lona is small. He then steps down from his horse.

Keeping a tight grip on the reins with one hand he pulls his hat over his face.

He pushes the horse on a little so he stands alone, his head bowed and face hidden.

He falls to his knees.

Ben begins to sob in to the hat, suppressing all sound.

EXT. OUT OF TOWN - LATER

Expressionless, Ben is back on his horse and making his way toward Lona Sod Risio.

INT. BROTHEL - DOWNSTAIRS

Ben walks in, met by the owner again.

BEN

The same one.

She nods, making her way up.

OWNER

She won't cry this time. I'll tell you that.

EXT. KEATON PIKE - DAY

Tom comes out of a store with a pack of food. He stuffs it into his horse's saddle bag then leads her down the thin road between two rows of homes.

Men and women stand at their porches watching him go, keeping their children near.

An OLD MAN steps out of a dilapidated wooden shack into the middle of the road.

Tom walks toward him, stopping about three feet away.

OLD MAN

Asshole, you fucking stand before me!

No quarries, Tom lets the reins lose and stands nose-to-nose with the man.

The Old Man stares hard, trying to catch Tom's eye.

Tom keeps his eyes on the ground.

OLD MAN

Because of you, I have no family. You shot each and everyone of my brothers. And now, now you ride past my house?! You stand in front of me and you don't even look me in the eye? I come before you without a gun and stand with a promise of vengeance. You, boy, are going to die.

(to bystanders)

This boy! Is going to die!

The men and women push their children into their homes and shut the doors.

They all look on at the Old Man standing in Tom's shadow.

OLD MAN

I tell you this now because in two minutes I'm going to be aiming my revolver at your skull. You will know who kills you, and so will the rest of this town!

In one fluid motion Tom takes a step back, pulls the knife out from his belt and...

SLASH

... slices the Old Man's throat.

Tom stands to the side as blood gushes from the man's neck.

THUMP

The Old Man falls.

Tom steps back up on his horse, leaving the scene as he entered - no quarries.

The town watches, unmoving, as the Old Man bleeds to death in front of his own home.

EXT. OUTSIDE TOWN - LATER

Tom lays against his horse in the sand, watching an overloaded cart approach.

He bites his fingernails, spitting little pieces into the sand. The cart gets closer, coming into focus.

A boy sits on the cart encumbered with wood of all sorts, of various sizes ranging from twigs to near tree trunks.

Lead by a near dead mule it crawls to Tom's position.

Tom stands in wait as the cart groans to a halt before him.

He pats the mule's head but it's unresponsive.

BOY

What is it, sir?

Tom hands the sunburned boy a silver coin and gestures for some wood.

The boy takes the money. Tom picks a handful of twigs off the back of the cart then sits down by his horse.

The boy nods a thank you, whips the mule and the cart continues on to town.

EXT. OUT OF TOWN - LATER

Tom has set up a fire with the twigs and is scorching a few scraps of meat.

He turns around to pick up something from the saddle bag on his resting horse when he sees a figure coming from town.

Tom keeps his eye on the figure as he takes a sip from a canister.

Before sitting down Tom gives it a moment's more glance.

TOM

(to his horse)

How about you keep an eye on that... What? You won't... Why?... Because you're tired? Well, last time you said that you got us both shot at. So how about you do us both a favour...

The horse just snorts.

He pokes at the flames and turns the scrap of meat hanging over the small fire.

TOM

Man, this smells like shit. Let's see what you got.

He reaches in the saddle bag behind him again and produces an apple, he pulls out three more.

TOM

What's stopping me from trading these apples for my meat?

He brings them to his nose and inhales.

TOM

Don't smell like much, but then again, they don't smell bad. Here.

He feeds his horse the apples one by one.

A man dressed in light blue jeans and a BLACK SHIRT rides up on a grey horse.

BLACK SHIRT

Hey.

Tom nods.

BLACK SHIRT

So you had to get out, eh?

Tom flashes a smile.

BLACK SHIRT

I know people would call me crazy for not riding past here and letting you be, but I don't know. I've had enough of that town and seeing you leave today made me feel like I should be on my way too.

TOM

I was never in town long.

BLACK SHIRT

People remember the last time you were here though.

TOM

So?

BLACK SHIRT

Getting people real scared.

Tom turns away from him.

BLACK SHIRT

There isn't anyone who pays respect to a man in this place. All they pay attention to is a gun they have pressed against their head or the dead bodies who once did.

Tom stabs his knife into the sand.

BLACK SHIRT

And you, well, you keep them quivering with a knife. I'd hate to see you with a gun in your hand.

TOM

Are you stupid?

There's a moment of silence as the horses shift in the sand.

BLACK SHIRT

Well, I've left town so I'm just going to keep on going. Maybe hit a few more towns out in the desert. Maybe run into you sometime?

TOM

Maybe not.

BLACK SHIRT

Maybe not... well... bye.

The man kicks the horse and gallops off.

TOM

(to his horse)

Fucking people. Always want to talk. Always need to be heard.

His horse whines.

TOM

Yeah, I know.

EXT. LONA SOD RISIO - CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - DAY

Ben walks up to a wooden home similar to all those around it. He lifts his arm to knock on the door but it swings open.

A rifle is pressed against his chest.

CHARLOTTE

You!

Ben grabs the barrel and, stepping to the side...

BOOM

... kicks Charlotte in the stomach, simultaneously pulling the rifle from her hands.

She doubles over and falls into the house.

Ben throws the rifle out on to the road, stepping in the house and slamming the door behind him.

INT. CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE

Ben leans against the door and watches Charlotte get to her feet, a tear rolling down her face.

Once stood she looks him in the eye and then squares up to him. Ben looks right back.

She tears the hat off his head and...

SMACK

... slaps him across the face.

He keeps his head turned away.

She spits in his hat, throws it at him then walks out of the hall through a door to her left.

The White Suit stands at the end of the hall, not sure what to do.

Ben turns his head, red eyed. He pulls at his nose, sniffs and then walks after Charlotte.

INT. CHARLOTTE'S LIVING ROOM

Charlotte calmly sits on a once white couch.

Ben walks into the room holding his hat to his chest.

CHARLOTTE

Don't you come in here without my gun. You can go pick it up from the street.

He walks back out the room.

CHARLOTTE

Fucking animal.

She fidgets in her seat a moment, holding her stomach, taking a breath.

The White Suit comes to the doorway.

WHITE SUIT

Are you ok, Miss--

She dismisses him. The White Suit backs away.

Ben walks back in holding her rifle, hat back on his head.

CHARLOTTE

Set the gun down where you are and take a seat.

Ben leans the rifle up against a wall then takes a seat on the sofa opposite her.

She waits for him to take his hat off before speaking...

CHARLOTTE

You never loved her and she knew that. She was with you all those years because you were never bad to her. I'll tell you now, you weren't much good either. She merely tolerated you and so I don't have any other reason to be talking to you right now apart from the obvious. Tom killed her not more than a few days ago. He probably didn't know who she was, but it's done. She was my friend and your wife. He should die.

BEN

Big words for--

CHARLOTTE

For what? A woman who will happily come and give you another slap, you fucking piece of shit. You're lucky I let you sit down.

Ben puts his hat back on.

CHARLOTTE

We're not done here.

BEN

Oh?

CHARLOTTE

That's right. Take the hat off.

He looks her straight in the face, standing up.

BEN

If it were Tom, I'll deal with it. If not, then so be it. When she comes in, you will make arrangements for the funeral. I can't be there.

He walks out the living room. Charlotte takes the moment to reflect.

CHARLOTTE

(sympathetic)

Ben.

The front door knocks shut.

EXT. LONA SOD RISIO

Ben walks down the middle of the road looking on out of town. He whistles.

His horse comes to his side. He takes hold of the reigns and keeps walking.

People walk past but keep their distance and their eyes to the road.

He continues to lead his horse down the sandy street until he reaches the end. Here he gets on his horse and canters on.

Charlotte stands at her open door, leant against the rifle, watching him go.

EXT. OUT OF TOWN - LATER

Ben slowly trots away from Lona.

A horse fast approaches behind him. Ben stops. The White Suit again.

WHITE SUIT

Charlotte sent me. This time with a letter. She forgot...

He hands it to Ben and turns back.

Ben folds it up tight and puts it in his breast pocket.



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