Short Story In Dramatic Form: “This Is The Way”

short story

BLACK EMPTINESS

A loud ringing noise begins to slowly build, eventually reaching a crescendo…

INT. A SMALL BEDROOM – DAY

There is a young man lying in bed underneath his covers, staring up at the ceiling.

This is JOHN.

The clock strikes “6:00AM” and the alarm sounds.

THE ALARM CLOCK

John reaches his hand in and turns the alarm off.

A KITCHEN COUNTER

There are two pictures of a young woman, a sealed yellow envelope and some keys on the counter.

KITCHEN

John puts his keys into his pocket and tucks the picture into his shirt’s breast pocket. Then he grabs the envelope and walks towards the back door. 

EXT. JOHN’S HOUSE – FRONT – DAY

Over John walking out his back door. He gets into his car and starts it.

John drives out from the back and into the distance.

AN OVERPASS – DAY

John walks up and stops. He takes a look around, quickly realizing that he’s going to have to wait.

So he leans back against a pillar and does just that.

Another man walks up from the opposite direction. Without saying a word, John hands the envelope to the other man and both continue off in the directions they’re headed.

EXT. A DINER – DAY

John walks up and into the diner. 

INT. THE DINER – DAY

John is sitting at a table, sipping from his water glass while he waits for his waiter.

John’s friend JOEY walks up with coffee and cream. He hands it to John and then sits across from him. Joey is John’s waiter.  

JOEY: You did say cream, right?

JOHN: You ask me that every time.

JOEY: I like to be sure of things.

Joey notices John’s watch.

JOEY: Nice watch.

JOHN: (Realizes): Oh, yeah…

JOEY: Been a while since I’ve seen you wear that.

JOHN: I got tired of looking at it sit there on my dresser.

 JOEY: Good. It’s just a watch, Johnny.  

JOHN: Yeah, I know.

JOEY: Anyway, what are you eating today?

JOHN: I was thinking French toast.

JOEY: French toast, always good. You want something with it? Bacon, sausage, something?

JOHN: Strawberries actually.

JOEY: Alright, strawberries it is.

JOHN: Oh, and do you have like chocolate sauce or something? 

JOEY: Chocolate sauce? Look at you.

JOHN: Is that a yes?

JOEY: Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. Shouldn’t be long but I gotta check on my other tables.

JOHN: Go ahead. I’ll be here.

JOEY: Alright.

Joey walks off.

John takes his coffee and empties a creamer into it.  

JOHN’S COFFEE

We watch as the creamer swirls around, mixing with John’s cup of joe.

MUSIC CUE: The score swells.

JOHN’S TABLE – DAY

John’s meal is set down on the table in front of him. He looks it over and then begins to feast.  

AN EMPTY PLATE

Joey reaches in and grabs the plate. 

JOHN’S TABLE

John is sitting in his seat looking very full and rather spent. Joey drops the check and passes off the plate to a passing coworker to dispose of.

JOEY: So where you headed after this?

JOHN: Not really sure. I was actually hoping you weren’t working a double.

JOEY: No such luck, sir. I’ll be here until about ten tonight.

JOHN: That’s unfortunate.

JOEY: Tell me about it. My brother’s home though. You can go blaze up with that fuckin’ bum.

JOHN: Cool, I’ll give him a call.

JOEY: I’d prefer to stay and hang out but unfortunately I have to go serve a bunch of jerkoffs. Text me later, we’ll go get a drink. I like seeing you out. Let’s keep it that way.

JOHN: I’ll try.

JOEY: Good. Later Johnny.

JOHN: Bye Joey.

They fist bump and Joey walks off. John takes a second and then gets up to pay his check.

EXT. THE DINER – DAY

John walks out, dialing a number on his phone as he does. The call connects right as he reaches his car so he stops and leans against it.  

JOHN: Kevin, what are you up to? (Beat) Nothing. Surprising. Wanna hang out? (Beat) Word, I’ll see you soon.

John hangs up the phone and gets into his car.

EXT. KEVIN’S HOUSE – DAY

John arrives to find Kevin sitting outside his house, staring blankly ahead at the passing traffic. Once he notices him, Kev shoots a look over at his friend. John reacts accordingly. 

INT. KEVIN’S HOUSE – DAY

The two friends spend a day together, smoking, playing video games, having a sword fight with a microphone pole and a wiffleball bat, etcetera.

John is basically using his time with Kevin to revert as far back as he can, in regards to his mental age (from 28 to about 19 and Kev…well, Kev’s not much younger than John, but his mental age stayed put at 17).  

EXT. KEVIN’S HOUSE – DAY

John leaves, off to continue his day. 

NOTE: Here is some test footage we shot for the Kevin/John portion of the film, as well as the final scene with John and the man you’ll come to know as Michael…

A DOORWAY – DAY

The door opens, revealing a beautiful young woman smiling a brilliant smile. This is ROSE, the escort in the pink dress.

She grabs John by the hands and pulls him inside her house.

INT. ROSE’S HOUSE – DAY

Rose gives John the girlfriend experience. They watch a movie, eat dinner, Rose has a drink or two, they play with the cat, etc, etc…

NOTE: The score builds the whole time getting more and more bubbly, something very befitting of the romantic implication of the sequence.

INT. ROSE’S BATHROOM – DAY

John is vomiting profusely into the toilet. He finishes and rolls off to the side.

The door opens slowly and Rose pokes her head in.  

ROSE: John, are you ok?

JOHN: Yeah, I’m ok. I’m sorry about this.

ROSE: No, don’t be. I’m actually sorry. I hate to do this-

JOHN (checks his watch): My time’s up. It’s ok Rose. Thank you for letting me come by. The dress is beautiful, by the way.

ROSE: Thank you John.

JOHN: Anytime.  (Pulls himself up) Do you mind if I just clean myself up?

ROSE: Of course not. Take your time.

JOHN: Thank you.

Rose backs out of the room slowly. John walks over to the sink and starts to clean up, eventually catching his own gaze in the mirror.

EXT. A CEMETERY – SUNSET

John drives past the cemetery in his car.

A GRAVESTONE – SUNSET

The camera slowly slides off to the side, revealing John walking towards the gravestone.

He stops and begins to speak to his dearly departed.

NOTE: The dialogue will be improvised. The point to get across is that John hasn’t been the same ever since he lost someone close to him. 

INT. JOHN’S CAR – NIGHT (PARKED)

John gets in and starts the car. He doesn’t start driving right away. Rather he falls to tears after what he just did. He collects himself eventually and begins to drive.

NOTE: We don’t cut. Instead we stay on this same shot as he drives for as long as possible.

 EXT. JOHN’S HOUSE – NIGHT

John drives up, parks, and walks into his house.

 INT. JOHN’S HOUSE – NIGHT

 John walks into the house. He puts his keys back on the counter, grabs a glass, and walks into the back room.

THE BACK ROOM – NIGHT

The man from the underpass is sitting and waiting for John. There is a bottle of liquor and cigarettes on the table.

This man will go by the name MICHAEL.

John walks in and sits down without saying a word.

MICHAEL: I brought what you asked.

JOHN: Thank you.

 John sits up and takes a cigarette. Michael lights it for him.

JOHN: Thank you again.

MICHAEL: It’s no problem.

John takes a big first pull and exhales. He then sits back.

JOHN: You ever do something like this?

Michael looks over at John.

JOHN (Off the look): If you’ll indulge me please, I’ll be dead in a few minutes.

MICHAEL: I have.

JOHN: How many people have you killed? Just ballpark it.

MICHAEL: I’d rather not.  

JOHN: All right, you have every right.

John sits up and grabs the bottle of liquor.

JOHN: This has gotta be a new one though, right?

John starts to pour himself a drink. 

MICHAEL: Yeah, this is definitely a first.

JOHN: And you aren’t curious why?

MICHAEL: Why’s not really any of my business. I figure someone who’s gone to the lengths you have has a reason.

JOHN: How are you gonna do it?

Michael removes a gun from his belt and puts it on the table.

JOHN: Efficient.

MICHAEL: It usually does the job.

John pounds the rest of his drink.

JOHN: Good to hear.

MICHAEL: You ready?

John takes one more pull of his cigarette and then puts it out.

JOHN (Exhaling smoke): Yeah. Just give me a second.

MICHAEL: Take your time.

John removes the picture from his breast pocket and begins to study it.

Michael picks up his heater and clicks the safety off. He stands up across John.  

A slight smile creeps across John’s face.

JOHN: I just don’t work without her.

John looks up to Michael and nods. 

EXT. JOHN’S HOUSE – BACK – NIGHT

Michael walks out and closes the door behind him. He stops to light a cigarette and then walks off.

THE END

Barry Ford
Drunkensailor1243@gmail.com