LANCE (MAIN) – visitor
BRYAN (MAIN) – patient
BRYAN MCPHERREL is on that edge right now, for he is currently asleep in the hospital bed. Barely 30 years old, his service in the military in Iraq have aged him beyond his years. A clean-cut man, with short brown hair and equally brown eyes, the only tell-tale mark that he has been through some form of Hell right now is the scar that starts above his right ear and circles around to the back of his head.
LANCE BRIAR –his oldest and closest friend since childhood. After their teenage shenanigans, LANCE enlisted in the military with BRYAN and the served in the same unit in Iraq.
SCENE SETTING: A HOSPITAL ROOM in BANGOR, MAINE. It is just past MIDNIGHT, the sky is clear and the moon hangs outside (LEFT SIDE WINDOW) as if watching the occupants of this room. The steady beeping of medical instruments are normally a good sign for the patient, but are of little comfort to those who would know why he is even here right now. Because when the world comes crashing down, sometimes these chirps and beeps are the last thing one hears before the end.
SCENE OPENS: BRYAN is in the hospital bed (CUE LIGHTS-CENTER STAGE). BRYAN appears to be asleep (CURTAIN RISE COMPLETE: he awakens, then scans the area to figure out where he is, only to slump down in defeat once he figures it out)
VOICE IN DARK (LANCE): You know, you’re pretty heavy.
BRYAN looks to his LEFT to see the second person in the room, seated in the chair next to the bed. LANCE reaches over and lays a hand on BRYAN’s shoulder, as an old friend would do.
(SOFT SPOTLIGHT FADE ONTO) LANCE: But it’s okay, I forgive you.
BRYAN (surprised, but happy): Lance? That you? What are you…? How did…?
LANCE: You were expecting your Fairy Godmother, maybe? Sorry to disappoint, I don’t have the legs to wear heels. I just work the magic.
BRYAN then looks away from his friend and out toward the moon.
BRYAN: It’s good to see you again. Been, what, two years now?
LANCE leans back in his chair in a relaxed poise.
LANCE: Yeah, sounds about right. Ever since you left Charleston to come up here and take care of your mom. Wanted to come sooner, but I knew you were…busy.
BRYAN’s nods to himself, staring at nothing now.
BRYAN: She fought till the end. Wouldn’t have been her, otherwise.
LANCE: Yeah, she was a one tough dame all right. I kinda thought she and Dick Van Dyke drank from the same fountain, you know. Would’ve sworn that she was immortal. Or maybe a robot.
BRYAN smiles again at that, though with sadness.
BRYAN: Nah, just stubborn. You know she bought a Viper? A freakin Dodge Viper!
LANCE looks humorously stunned.
LANCE: No shit? Wow…that’s both awesome and terrifying. Then again, she didn’t wrap her old Mustang around a tree, did she?
LANCE cocks an eyebrow and BRYAN, who just laughs and shrugs at that.
BRYAN: Worth it. Just driving that ol’ pony taught me what it was to be a man.
LANCE: Yeah, how to scream like a girl and how to fail miserably at drifting. You’re lucky we couldn’t pull that shit in those steel death-machines we had in Mosul. We’d never have been able to explain you pulling that off again.
BRYAN turns pack over and “sternly” points at LANCE
BRYAN: Says the guy who drove his stepdad’s Suburban home with a tree though the windshield and out the back. How you explained that one, I’ll never know.
LANCE nods and shrugs himself
LANCE: Well, doing that convinced me to follow you into the Army, so it was for the best.
Both laugh at that.
BRYAN: You ever think about…
LANCE cuts him off, now looking out the window himself
LANCE: Every day. I still hear the explosion in my nightmares sometimes.
BRYAN: I thought we were all dead. Garcia went down so fast, then the Lt…
LANCE: Yeah. I don’t even think she got her rifle up after we bailed. Sombitches were ready for us. Hope the Devil had a nice warm firebrand for them after we sent them down.
There is a pause in the conversation, and while only a few seconds, it feels like the temperature suddenly drops (SHIFT SPOTLIGHT COLOR TO PALE BLUE. FOCUS ON CHARACTERS ONLY). LANCE folds his arms over his chest, and BRYAN rolls onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. There is a question on LANCE’s mind, one he doesn’t want to ask, but has no choice.
LANCE’s question comes softly
LANCE: Is that why you did it? Why you tried to kill yourself?
BRYAN winces at that and is silent for a moment, shifting his jaw back and forth
BRYAN: I didn’t think you’d find me. I didn’t think anyone would.
LANCE leans in
LANCE: Yeah, well, I wanted to surprise you with some real Carolina seafood. Not this ‘Nor’eastern’ slop. (His voice gets louder and more shaky)Instead I find your ass barely alive on the floor and covered in puke. I mean, Christ, man! Why?
BRYAN’s shoulders slump, and he shakes his head.
LANCE continues: After everything we’ve done, after we fought through Hell to make it back here, you just give up? No, I don’t buy that shit for a goddamn second. Something happened to you.
BRYAN turns over quickly to look at LANCE, tears in his eyes and yells:
(SPOTLIGHT ON BRYAN ONLY)
BRYAN: Don’t lecture me about who survived what and how! I had to watch my mom wither and die thanks to dementia and MS! Shit, I watched YOU (angrily points at LANCE) eat a chest-full of shrapnel! And now the docs say I got a goddamn tumor in my brain that they can’t touch! And I’m just supposed to skip around like La-De-Freakin-Da?! I…I just…
(SLOW FADE SPOTLIGHT BACK ONTO FULL SCENE)
The conversation breaks there. BRYAN is shaking now, with equal parts sadness and anger. LANCE is stupefied at the revelation.
LANCE: So you just gave up?
BRYAN rolls back onto his back, as he simply can’t face LANCE right now.
BRYAN: I’m, I’m sorry…I was scared…
Another pause in conversation as LANCE stands up (SPOTLIGHT FOCUS ON LANCE ONLY), walking to the window to look out into the night. He shudders a bit, whether from the chill in the room or his own sadness at his friend’s plight is not quite clear.
It is then that the idea hits LANCE and lights up his face. The plan begins to form.
LANCE: You still got the keys to the Viper?
BRYAN looks both confused and aghast at this question.
LANCE turns back to BRYAN with a smile
LANCE: Because we’re not going to let it just sit and collect dust. You and I are going on a trip.
BRYAN: To where?
LANCE throws his arms open wide
LANCE: Wherever the hell we want, man! We always talked about going cross-country in a badass car or two. Our own “Cannonball Run!” So that’s what we’re gonna do.
BRYAN smiles slightly at that, thinking back to when they were hard-charging teenagers and when this mission was created.
BRYAN: You know what? Why the hell not? My mom always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, or hit Vegas. It could be like taking a part of her with us.
LANCE is almost jumping with excitement.
LANCE: Now there’s the stubborn sumbitch I remember! Get a nurse in here so we can sign you out and you can put some damn pants on!
BRYAN pushes the call button.
(ENTER NURSE FROM STAGE RIGHT)
LANCE: Ma’am, could you please tell us where this guy can sign out so I can take him home?
The NURSE looks confused by this
NURSE: Ummm… I’m afraid I can’t do that. Since they brought him in as attempted suicide, there’s a mandatory 48-hour observation period now that he’s awake. Plus a consult with a psychiatrist hasn’t been scheduled yet. And then there’s…
LANCE waves a hand to cut her off.
LANCE: Yeah, yeah, okay. So, where do we start with that paperwork?
NURSE (looking down at her clipboard): Well, since no living relations have been contacted yet, I don’t think you are authorized to begin that process on his behalf.
BRYAN looks glum at that declaration.
LANCE: Alright then, how about I help you with that? I can make a few phone calls, see if I can get his sister over here.
BYRAN suddenly looks confused
NURSE: That would be fine, though I would ask you to do so from the main lobby (gestures to the door), please.
LANCE: Could you show me the way? I don’t think I came in the front door…(shy smile)
NURSE and LANCE leave (EXIT STAGE RIGHT)
BRYAN: But…I don’t have a sister.
LANCE returns from STAGE RIGHT
LANCE: Alrighty then, now where would they have put your shit? (starts looking around in various drawers)
BRYAN: Ummm, dude? What did you do?
LANCE (still rummaging): What do you mean? I’m trying to find your stuff so we can roll outta here. Unless you want to stay in that gown.
BRYAN: Hell no. But how are we going to leave? She just said…
LANCE: (stops and faces BRYAN)I signed you out.
BRYAN: Ummm, what?
LANCE: It was pretty easy, honestly. I just said I’d take care of you. Oh yeah, (he reaches into a pants pocket and tosses BRYAN a pill bottle), just in case you need them. (returns to the search while BRYAN examines the bottle)
BRYAN: Shit, man I can’t even pronounce these!
LANCE: Yeah, I didn’t think you would. That’s why I’m the smart one. (pulls up pair of jeans from cupboard near the bed) Ah-HA! Pants! (tosses them at BRYAN)
BRYAN: But you were only gone for about a minute.
LANCE: They were coming to give you these anyway. Supposed to help with the headaches, and we’re gonna need it on the road.
BRYAN: Handy. (pops the lid and takes one. Then he stands and pulls his pants up under his gown) You didn’t by chance find my…
LANCE jingle a set of keys
BRYAN: Well alrighty then. Lead the way.
LANCE and BRYAN leave (EXIT STAGE RIGHT)
(CURTAIN LOWERS FOR SCENE CHANGE. ON THE CURTAIN, A MAP OF THE UNITED STATES IS PROJECTED, WITH A STAR ON BANGOR. CUE THE TICK-TOCK OF A GRANDFATER CLOCK)
BRYAN (narrating): Hear that? That’s the sound of the beginning of the end. Honestly, between you and me, I have no idea if we can pull this off. But hell, what is there to lose?
(END SCENE ONE)
My second attempt at screenwriting, and one born from an idea I mentioned a while back. And with any luck, there will be more of this to come.
I hope you all enjoy.