Sharing Air

I would like to share with my readers a short film script I little over two years ago that has yet to be shot. Hope someone out there enjoys it, that’s more than it can do sitting in my hard-drive…

 

SHARING AIR

 

A Short Film Written by

 

Matt Waters

 

FADE IN:

 

EXT. PARK — NIGHT

 

A drunk slumps against a peeling green park bench. His name is Drew Jefferson. Drew is alone.

 

Drew is 24 years old. He is scribbling onto the pages of a small black notebook, making quick strokes with a cheap pen, biting on his lower lip. He is a short man, a physically unimposing individual, wearing a leather jacket. Broken autumn leaves collect near his feet.

 

Drew gasps, choking for a moment, before catching his breath and having a laugh. He wears faded grey jeans over an old school pair of red Chuck Taylor sneakers. His short, brown hair hangs downward in a wild clump. Drew is clean-shaven.

 

He scrawls with his pen relentlessly.

 

DREW (mumbling)

A void. Avoid. Avoid a void. Avoidance. Avoid a void using avoidance. A void dance. Dancing in a void. Avoid a void using a void dance. I need to dance. Dance, dance, dance, otherwise…

 

Drew peers around the empty park, which streetlights bathe

in a dark orange tint. He closes the notebook, sighs, bowing violently lurching forward, phlegm dangling from his mouth.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

Who am I kidding? I’ve got no rhythm…

 

Drew closes the notebook, shoving it into his jacket-pocket, from which he produces a flask.

Footsteps, arriving from the far right, catch his attention.

 

FADE TO:

 

INT. CENT ANNI RESTAURANT — NIGHT — FLASHBACK

 

Cent Anni is a quaint Italian eatery, wide booths lined against a wood wall adjacent to a fully equipped bar.

Drew sits in a corner booth across from SHELLEY MICKENS.

 

They are in rapt conversation.

 

Shelly is 30, a very petite blonde wearing loosened business attire. The collar of her white, buttoned-down shirt has been unfastened, and a tiny, black vest is wrapped around the back of her chair.

Drew is dressed as he was in the park, but his hair is neatly combed backward, general disposition far more refined.

 

Both Drew and Shelley are sipping wine. A white, lit candlestick is placed in the center of their table.

 

DREW

Do you like lawyering, at least?

 

SHELLEY

I liked the idea.

 

Drew takes hold of Shelley’s left hand, caresses. She gives him a glance askance. He pulls away, scratching the back of his head.

DREW

Hey… Shelley, I really respect your work. It’s righteous. Someone has to prosecute scum. That’s a noble calling. Should help you sleep at night. Know what I’m saying?

 

Shelley slides her left hand under the table, smile forming.

 

She lowers her eyes at Drew, focusing on him.

 

SHELLEY

That’s exactly what I told myself. Years ago. But ideals can set you up for disappointment… like…

 

DREW

Dreams?

 

SHELLEY

Yeah. What was yours?

 

DREW

I wanted to be a writer. So that’s what I do. Freelancing. Which can be another way of saying something less prestigious…

SHELLEY

Ah. Another disillusioned soul. We should get along great.

 

Drew chortles.

 

DREW

Sure. I wanted to be William Shakespeare. But I don’t have a steady job. Not even close, in fact. Which is hard for me to admit. Because I figure someone beautiful such as you has certain expectations.

 

Shelley shakes her head, finishes her glass.

 

SHELLEY

Well… I haven’t quit yet. I just don’t want to be around cynical washouts. So long you haven’t fallen that far–

 

DREW

Fuck nihilism.

 

Shelley grins. She taps the table with her fist. Other patrons stare.

 

SHELLEY

I’ll drink to that!

 

Drew tugs at his collar, momentarily, before offering his glass for a toast.

 

EXT. PARK — NIGHT

 

Drew is thrown out of his seat, slamming onto the ground.

 

The flask also goes flying.

 

Drew lays prone on his back.

 

He finds himself surrounded by two intimidating teenagers, who loom over him, side by side.

 

GARY JENSEN is 17, white. He wears a black, straight rim hat, sans logo. His face is pimpled and pocked, fishlike eyes reddened.

 

JEFF COVERT is 17, black, wearing a white shirt and shorts. The shirt hangs low. He also sports a stylish pair of glasses, and a nasty cut on his lower lip.

 

GARY

Who the fuck are you, and what the fuck you doing in my park?

 

SMASH CUT:

 

Drew groans. Gary kicks him in the stomach.

 

GARY (CONT’D)

Answer me!

 

 

DREW

Who… what…

 

Gary kicks Drew five times in succession. Jeff peers into the distance, eying the streets.

 

 

JEFF

Let’s be out, punk is crunk. Must be lost. There’s no reason–

 

GARY

Stop being a pussy!

 

Gary pulls Drew up by the collar of his jacket. Drew can barely stand, totally wasted, beaten down.

 

JEFF

This is foul, G. We should let him go.

 

Gary shoves Drew toward Jeff. Drew latches on to Jeff, nearly collapsing, grabbing hold of his shirt for support.

 

Drew looks into Jeff’s eyes.

 

DREW

Can you just help me? Just help me. I’m lost, man.

 

JEFF

How am I supposed to do that? I don’t understand…

 

DREW

Please understand… I just want to go home…

 

Gary tears Drew off Jeff, sending the former sprawling once more onto the concrete.

 

SMASH CUT:

 

INT. CENT ANNI RESTAURANT — NIGHT — FLASHBACK

 

The couple’s table is littered with empty glasses, remnants of red liquid dotted inside. Drew is slightly hunched over, right fingertip pressed on his chin.

 

Shelley wipes her mouth with a napkin, gaze trained on Drew, eyebrows arched. The place is way less crowded, thinned out.

Shelley rocks backward in her chair. She is smoking a cigarette.

 

Drew takes a deep breath, scanning the place.

 

DREW

What do you think of all this?

 

SHELLEY

What?

 

DREW

Where we are.

 

SHELLEY

The service was a little slow. But other than that, it’s a pretty charming place.

 

DREW

No, you misunderstand me.

 

SHELLEY

Oh. Thought you just struggled changing subjects.

 

DREW

Maybe I should have.

 

SHELLEY

Hey, you looking for a philosophical discourse? I’m game.

 

DREW

I don’t doubt it. Just may be a little heavy for a first date, no?

 

Shelley takes a long drag from her cigarette.

 

SHELLEY

You want my take on everything?

 

DREW

Everything. The moon, the stars, the sun, the shit. Lay it on me.

 

SHELLEY

It all happens for a reason.

 

Drew flips a spoon in the air. It drops onto the table with a clank.

 

DREW

Oh… never mind… you’re one of those…

 

Shelley frowns.

 

SHELLEY

Is that condescension I hear?

 

DREW

Don’t take it personally. You seemed more… enlightened.

 

 

SHELLEY

Excuse me? What happened to the ‘fuck nihilism’ guy? He was here just a half-hour ago.

 

 

DREW

Not a nihilist. A realist.

 

SHELLEY

Oh, nice, I see what you did there… that rhymes. Real cute. Catch any good movies lately?

 

DREW

Too late to stop now… A rock floats

in a space nobody understands. Nothing is revealed. The trip eventually ends. Curtains close.

 

Shelley’s eyes dart toward all the empty wine glasses.

 

 

SHELLEY

Maybe we should have cut off. With the wine…

 

DREW

Hey, what kind of lawyer are you? Where’s a rebuttal?

 

SHELLEY

Are you satisfied with a faith free existence?

 

DREW

I’m an evidence oriented individual.

 

SHELLEY

I feel sorry for you.

 

Drew laughs, eyes intense.

 

DREW

People like you naturally assume everything fits into a grand predetermined plan. Because your life must have made some kind sense. You press that belief on other people who weren’t so blessed. Blessed with what? Faith? Try luck, sweetheart.

 

SHELLEY

I press my beliefs on other people?

Who started this conversation? I think people like you hate looking in mirrors.

 

Silence. Shelley ashes her cigarette.

 

 

DREW

Wow. I’m sorry. I’m drunk. That got

out of hand.

 

SHELLEY

Don’t apologize Drew. I’m not a

frail flower. Is that how you’d prefer seeing me? Cute little clueless catholic…

 

DREW

Oh, you’re catholic? So am I… well… was…

 

SHELLEY

It’s been nice meeting you.

 

Shelley begins to stand. Drew takes hold of her hand, once more.

 

DREW

Look, I do think good things can happen. But my life…

 

SHELLEY

What?

 

DREW

I don’t mean to keep you.

 

 

Drew takes out his his wallet, removing a business card, handing it to Shelley.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

Nice meeting you, too.

 

Shelley turns and departs.

 

DREW

Well done, Drew, you fucking idiot.

 

Drew turns around in his chair, seeing if he can catch one more glance of Shelley. He does not. He tips an empty wine glass toward the exit.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

Strong convictions.

 

EXT. PARK — NIGHT

 

SMASH CUT:

 

With Jeff watching a few feet away, Gary shatters a bottle of malt liquor over Drew’s head.

 

Drew is knocked flat unconscious, a puddle of blood forming under his head.

 

GARY

Time to snatch.

 

EXT. LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD — DAY

 

FADE TO:

 

Drew stands at home plate, decked out in a fine business suit, hair combed neatly, not bleeding, not a scratch on him.

 

He looks around, confused, but seems at ease, struck by a sense of wonder.

 

This is a small diamond, the fence a mere two hundred feet from home plate, naked wooden pines towering beyond the playing field. Wooden bleachers are visible behind both dugouts.

 

The sunlight is strong, surroundings dripping in a dreamlike hue.

 

DREW

How did I get here…

 

Drew glances toward center field, where a figure approaches, image washed within the park’s otherworldly luminosity. As the figure draws nearer, his features become clearer. It’s a man, also in a perfectly tailored suit. He has jet-black hair, slicked and shiny. A blue hankie is visible in his left breast pocket. His eyes are sleepy, a glazed, peaceful expression on his face. This is JOSEPH JEFFERSON. He is 28 years of age, and smiles broadly upon seeing his befuddled brother.

 

Joseph halts in front of Drew, who is nonplussed.

 

JOSEPH

You don’t recognize me?

 

DREW

Joey… But you’re grown-up…

 

JOSEPH

Let’s talk, bro. I see you’ve wandered off the trail. Just a bit.

 

DREW

It’s not possible. You’re… you know.

 

JOSEPH

Dead? Only technically, Drew.

 

Drew hugs Joseph, still in disbelief. They separate.

 

DREW

Only technically? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

 

EXT. BASEBALL FIELD, BLEACHERS — DAY

 

Drew and Joseph sit side by side, halfway up the bleacher set. The sky above is cloudless and clean, unpolluted blue.

 

DREW

Why here?

 

JOSEPH

I wanted to remind you of a time when you weren’t so closed to possibilities. Dreams came true here, for both of us.

 

DREW

Didn’t last.

 

JOSEPH

In the moment. Remember when we

wrote our names in that wet cement on Atlantic Avenue? I was ten… you were so small… the marks are faded, but still there. I think you’ve forgotten what really does last.

 

DREW

It’s not fair what happened to you.

Everything feels like some kind of accident. Universe doesn’t give a flat fuck about what’s positive and negative to some life-forms on a little blue planet.

 

Joseph gives Drew a pat on the shoulder.

 

JOSEPH

Ever consider how I felt? You try living with that kind of death. I had such high hopes for us. But you are still doing special things. Which you give yourself absolutely no credit for.

 

DREW

Such as?

 

JOSEPH

Your poetry, for one.

 

Drew recoils.

 

DREW

Who knew death bought out such optimism in a person? You used to rip pages of poems out of that

notebook Uncle Bill gave Christmas. Used them for toilet paper.

 

Joseph grimaces.

 

JOSEPH

Regrets, I have a few…

 

Drew smiles. Joseph holds out his hand.

 

DREW

We going to teleport?

 

JOSEPH

No.

 

DREW

Too bad. That would have been killer.

 

EXT. BASEBALL FIELD, CENTER FIELD — DAY

 

Joseph and Drew stroll together through the grassland.

 

DREW

You know, I have trouble even seeing your face anymore. Without a picture. And that sickens me. But what I really can’t accept is the constant memory of that feeling…

 

JOSEPH

Tell me…

 

DREW

When you got hit by that car…

 

Drew stops walking. Joseph does as well.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

I panicked, running around, screaming for help. And something about that emotion always… mocked me. Because I realized, you know.

 

JOSEPH

Realized what?

 

DREW

I felt like an animal. A scared animal. And I hear these people talk about angels and saints and destiny and divinity, thinking they know something that I don’t. Makes me laugh. The real truth is that I know something that they don’t. Seeing you dying in that street… I would have given the world to save you. And you’re just this beat- up piece of flesh and I’m helpless. That was my revelation. Nothingness. I remember gasping for air, at the hospital. After I found out you were gone. I’ve seen so many days and nights, since then. But I never caught my breath.

 

Joseph puts his right hand on Drew’s shoulder.

 

JOSEPH

Something I learned about this feeling called fear. Really, it’s just the restriction of options. A strong emotion. So we assume it reveals something about our base. But that day didn’t define my life. And it doesn’t define yours. You’ve taken in your share of air, since I went away. And that’s a gift, never a guarantee. Every breath is priceless. Like a winning lottery ticket, understand?

 

DREW

How would you feel? To live every moment of life feeling like you were closer to death than everyone around you? Like they’re all living oblivious to some truth staring you in the face? I’m alone.

 

JOSEPH

No. You’re forgetting your options.

 

DREW

Bullshit, man, bullshit! You’re forgetting how hard this is! You say that like some asshole behind the desk at a pharmacy!

 

Joseph explodes with laughter.

 

JOSEPH

Yeah! I love it! I just want you to remember, Drew.

 

DREW

What?

 

JOSEPH

Who you are.

 

Joseph grabs Drew by the arm.

 

JOSEPH (CONT’D)

It’s time to resume.

 

DREW

Wait, what was the point of this?

 

JOSEPH

You’re asking questions again. But the listening part, you still need a lot of work on. Here’s the game. The only way you’ll ever remember this conversation is by listening very closely to your heart. Create connections with people. Write your names on the wind.

 

Drew steps away.

 

DREW

Nice. You read that on a postcard, bro?

 

JOSEPH

Fuck you, little man.

 

Joseph hugs Drew, whispering something in his ear.

 

FADE TO:

 

 

EXT. CENTRAL PARK — DAY

 

Drew sits on a bench, wearing a cream colored fleece, writing in a little black notebook, a varied cluster of New Yorkers passing by, roller bladers and runners, businessmen checking the time.

 

He has company, a hipster named BRAD. Brad, 23, is seated beside Drew, wearing baggy sweatpants and a long sleeved Bob Marley shirt. Brad has a black, bushy perm and scraggly facial hair.

 

BRAD

Real warm for November, don’t you think?

 

DREW

Let me ask you a question, Brad.

 

BRAD

Shoot.

 

Drew stops writing.

 

DREW

You ever wake up completely sure of something, but you didn’t know what? Like knowing the answer to a question you forgot?

 

Brad thinks.

 

DREW

It happened to me. Once. After that date with Shelley.

 

BRAD

Ah, yes, Shelley. The Brooklyn lawyer. Thought you two would really hit it off.

 

DREW

This realization… it was after I woke up. From getting beat down. Maybe I was just happy to be alive. Lucky.

 

BRAD

That was the same night? Never put it together.

 

DREW

Stunning from a storyteller of your caliber.

 

BRAD

Hey man, you really need to stop insulting me. Writing partners should respect each other, real talk.

 

DREW

I got to run. Let’s finish the comedy later tonight. Even though something feels off about it.

 

BRAD

We must need to tone down the subtlety.

 

Drew shakes his head, amused, before standing and beginning to walk away. Brad calls out to him. Drew does a 180.

 

BRAD (CONT’D)

This whole epiphany deal… maybe your date had something to do with it? Shelley’s a rare one. A real lottery ticket.

 

Drew rocks slightly backward, as if tapped by an invisible force.

 

DREW

Maybe.

 

Drew spins around, resumes walking.

 

BRAD

Where you going, anyway?

 

DREW

There’s something I wanted to do today! Back home!

 

EXT. ATLANTIC AVENUE — DAY

 

Drew walks down a crowded street featuring a front of restaurants, many specializing in Middle Eastern delicacies.

 

His eyes are lowered toward the sidewalk, as he accidently bumps into pedestrians. Finally, after a few more paces, he finds what he is searching for, crouching down for a closer look, smiling widely at the cement.

 

DREW

Unbelievable… you can still see the names…

 

Drew is distracted from reverie by a pair of high heels, stopped directly in his line of sight. He stares up and can hardly hide his surprise upon seeing Shelley, who is equally incredulous at his presence.

 

She is wearing her work clothes, grey business vest and slacks.

 

SHELLEY

Drew? What are you doing in Brooklyn?

 

Drew takes a moment to collect himself, rising upright.

 

DREW

This is my home.

 

SHELLEY

I thought you lived in the village?

 

DREW

Right. Sorry. This was my home. When I was growing up.

 

SHELLEY

Oh.

 

DREW

You on lunch break, or something?

 

SHELLEY

No. I was feeling stressed. Took a walk.

 

DREW

Some kind of coincidence. You never called, Shelley. Guess I can’t blame you.

 

Shelley looks away.

 

SHELLEY

I heard about what happened to you. I felt responsible. Because we were having a great time and I cut it short. Then you almost get killed. We were drunk, shooting our mouths off… it’d been so good up until then.

 

DREW

I was. Drunk. And shooting my mouth off. It wasn’t your fault. None of it.  So… any plans at the moment?

 

 

 

INT. SHELLEY’S APARTMENT — DAY

 

Shelley’s place is modestly sized, but lavishly decorated, walls covered with abstract artwork. No television is present, a packed book-shelf propped across the leather living room couch.

 

Shelley is sitting on the couch, Drew walking around, checking out the paintings, particularly captivated by one comprised of scribbles.

 

DREW

Who did this?

 

SHELLEY

It’s an imitation Gorky.

 

DREW

Imitation Gorky? Sounds like a good punk band.

 

 

SHELLEY

What brought it out of you?

 

DREW

I don’t get–

 

SHELLEY

The anger. That night.

 

DREW

It wasn’t me.

 

SHELLEY

Didn’t think so. But how often does the other guy visit?

 

Drew shakes his head.

 

DREW

Maybe we should drop it. Move on.

 

SHELLEY

My dad was a cop who got killed on the job. That’s why I became a prosecutor. Not because my life always made sense. Because it never seemed to, not after that. Reason is something I look for everyday. I pray because I have to pray. I never met someone living who had an answer that made sense.

 

DREW

I lost my big brother. He was hit by a car. We were just kids.

 

SHELLEY

I’m sorry.

 

DREW

I’m sorry too. About your dad. About saying your life made sense.

 

SHELLEY

It’s OK, Drew. Just breathe with me a second.

 

They each take a breath, staring at each other. Drew races over to Shelley, and they kiss, falling backward on the couch, holding on to each other.

 

INT. SHELLEY’S APARTMENT — NIGHT

 

Drew and Shelley are nestled together, under a white blanket, on the couch. Shelley has her head on Drew’s shoulder, neither clothed.

 

 

DREW

While we were walking here, I noticed a stationary store. Across the street from your apartment.

 

Shelley bursts out laughing.

 

SHELLEY

So? What are you talking about?

 

DREW

Listen. Are they still open?

 

SHELLEY

Why?

 

DREW

It’s not midnight, yet. And I’m feeling lucky. I’m going to put my pants on and play lotto.

 

SHELLEY

God. You are out there, Drew.

 

DREW

I’m feeling the universe. In the flow. For real. Going by instinct.

 

SHELLEY

Yes, the place is open. Pick me up some candy. Any kind, I don’t care.

 

DREW

Sure. It’ll go good with our fortune.

 

 

SHELLEY

Oh, so it’s ours? In that case, what are you still doing here? Get moving!

 

DREW

Right away.

 

They kiss.

 

INT. STATIONARY STORE — NIGHT

 

Drew walks into the modest abode in high spirits, unable to conceal a grin, miniature bell above the glass entrance signaling his arrival. The store is lit with fluorescent lights, hung from the ceiling and humming. The white floor tile is sullied near the entrance, by dirty shoe prints. The aisles are closely packed together. Drew surveys the scene, quickly whirling toward the checkout counter, which is stocked with candy and decorated with lottery advertisements. He immediately looks down, toward the candy shelved on tiny racks.

 

The cashier has his back turned, adjusting a neon sign near the front window.

 

DREW

Hey buddy, how’s it going tonight?

 

Drew picks out some taffy for Shelley, placing it on the counter near the register, next to a fishbowl filled with bubble gum.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

Listen, I feel like buying a Lotto ticket. But I want to pick my own numbers, you know, none of this randomness shit, if you’ll excuse my–

 

The cashier turns around, returning to his post near the register. It is Jeff. He is wearing a nondescript work outfit, shirt covered by a green apron.

The two notice each other simultaneously.

 

JEFF

Oh–

 

DREW

You. You and your friend–

 

JEFF

Wait–

 

DREW

I don’t remember everything. But your face…

 

 

JEFF

I was trying to help. It got out of hand. You have to–

 

Drew swipes aside the fish bowl, sending gum flying all over. He grabs Jeff by the collar.

 

DREW

Who did you think I was, huh? Some fucking yuppie you could just leave bleeding in the street? You know where I grew up, you piece of shit?

 

JEFF

Stop! Please!

 

DREW

Why did you do it, man? Why did you do it?

 

JEFF

I didn’t do anything!

 

Jeff pushes Drew backward, with a forceful shove.

 

JEFF (CONT’D)

I mean… I really didn’t do anything. I watched him hurt you. And I should have stopped it. But I didn’t. Because…

 

Drew breathes heavy, a little hunched over, spent after all his yelling. He stands up straight.

 

DREW

You were scared?

 

Jeff swallows hard.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

I was scared too.

 

JEFF

I don’t know what I was thinking.

Fuck, I don’t even know what I’ve been doing. I don’t know the people I’ve been hanging with. I don’t know anything anymore.

 

DREW

You must be forgetting.

 

JEFF

Forgetting?

 

DREW

You have a choice.

 

JEFF

I swear to God, man. I didn’t lay a hand on you. But do what you’re going to do.

 

Drew approaches the counter, reaching into his fleece pocket. He slams down two dollars.

 

DREW

I’m paying.

 

Jeff rings up the purchase. He holds out Drew’s change.

 

JEFF

I think about it, everyday. That night. I can’t take it back. I can only ask for forgiveness.

 

Drew grabs Jeff by the hand, leans in closer.

 

DREW

You didn’t have to ask.

 

Jeff is stunned. Drew moves Jeff’s arm, up and down. They are shaking hands.

 

DREW (CONT’D)

My name is Drew.

 

JEFF

I’m Jeff.

 

DREW

Yeah? Remember that. Keep the ticket.

 

Drew turns abruptly, separating from Jeff, exiting the store without looking back, bell clanging behind him.

 

FADE TO BLACK.

 

[Roll credits. Song: The Waterboys — Universal Hall]

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About mw2828

I am a writer currently working out of the New York area. https://mythandmist.wordpress.com/ View all posts by mw2828

2 responses to “Sharing Air

  • manhattanscreenwriter

    i really liked it. i think it needs some tightening up and put into the proper format, but real potential. good job. keep writing.

    • mw2828

      thanks man, I appreciate that. The formatting is a little wonky because I had to cut and paste the document from pristine .PDF to Microsoft Word, and from there it was a matter of approximating what a screenplay should look like. ‘ppreciate the feedback

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