Friday, 2 March 2007

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay - Part 4

Yes, I know.

Part 3 of my screenplay ended rather abruptly.

We followed Grundman (from a safe distance) across a mile of desert and watched while he littered the ground with beer cans, cigarette butts and a half-dozen saguaro corpses until he reached Ha:san. Then he and the story stopped dead.

No, our narrator didn’t walked out on us. I just wanted to add suspense. Hey, that’s show-biz.

(FYI. I may not be able to get Tom Selleck to narrate after all. He’s not returning my calls. Maybe Al Gore will agree to follow up his solid venture into film making with a guest spot in my movie. I’ll make a note to phone him. And there’s still been no word from anyone about a pet coyote.)

The narrator (Tom, Al, whoever) will next read three short sentences directly from the book upon which my screenplay is based. (pg. 192, Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink, Tom Miller)

“Finally David Grundman encountered Ha:san. A couple of rounds didn’t do it. Ha:san, 125 years old, remained erect.”

The camera will move in for a close-up of Grundman’s sweaty face as he surveys the damage he has wrought thus far.

Seconds slowly tick by. He casually takes a last swig of beer, a final draw on his cigarette and flicks the butt onto the bare soil.

We have time to ask ourselves, What’s he thinking? Is he going to wise up? Curse himself for doing so much damage to other living things? Go get a bigger rifle?

Grundman bends down, reaches for the box of shells sitting at his feet.

The narrator reads, “He moved slightly to another angle and pumped a few more slugs into the splendid 3,000-pound saguaro, but it refused to fall. He tried again from farther over.”

Though Grundman’s face registers frustration he is determined to best the cactus. So he picks up a saguaro rib from the ground and starts poking at Ha:san’s lowest arm, which has grown almost five feet in its 70 years.

(To those who are surprised by the man’s stubbornness or stupidity, or both, may I just say for the record that you shouldn’t be. Mankind has been doing much the same thing to the planet for the last 100 years in countless other ways. You should be used to it by now. Sorry, back to the screenplay.)

Grundman’s poking finally dislodges the arm, which rests about four feet above him and weighs close to 500 pounds.

I could stop right here to build more suspense but that’s so old, so been-there-done-that.

No. Instead, what follows will take place in ultra-slow-motion in true Sam Peckinpah-fashion.

The 500-pound arm falls to the ground. It breaks Grundman’s neck on the way.

Then Ha:san, suddenly unstable, starts wobbling, and falls onto the lifeless man as well, piercing his face and torso in hundreds of places.

As the movie screen gradually fades to black three things will happen simultaneously.

We’ll see the county medical examiner fill in Grundman’s toe tag with the following words; cause of death – external compression of the chest - 04/02/82.

We’ll hear the ballad Saguaro that contains the line “One mighty arm of justice came hurtling toward the ground”. (Michael Stevens, Austin Lounge Lizards)

And we’ll be asked by the film’s narrator, “How will mankind’s movie end?”

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