On The Line – My Experiment With Script Writing

FADE IN:

INT.
DUNCAN’S Living Room – Day

 

DUNCAN, the OLD VILLAGE MILKMAN,
PACES around his living area ALONE, REHEARSING. The room is CRAMMED with
MEMENTOS, CHINA FIGURES, and OLD TOURIST LEAFLETS.

 

DUNCAN

Hello – Hi,
Mister Smith – Hi, Gary…No – Mister Smith, I believe you made a grave error…a big
mistake…erm…I was hoping to encourage you to come back as I believe it is really worth your money.

 

DUNCAN’S BONY hand HOVERS over the
phone receiver.

 

His attention is BROKEN when he
spots a small AMMONITE FOSSIL in the Cotswold Stone fireplace. How did he not
see this before? He traces the spirals of the shell – fascinating.

DUNCAN

How long
have you been there, old fella?

 

He FORCES his focus back onto the
telephone.

DUNCAN

Really? Is
there nothing I can do that can persuade you, Gary? I’ll even throw in a
special discount because I see you as my friend.

(pause)

Bloody
hell! Fuck‘m! “Very delicate
financial situation.” Bollocks!

 

 

DUNCAN throws open a book logging
all his customers. Most rows have been scribbled out. GARY SMITH’S is an island
amongst a stormy sea.

 

DUNCAN

You’ll be
losing me a lot – losing us a lot.
The blame is on you Gary, not me. I have worked hard – very hard – to
save it. It could have been done – it really could – I’m sure of it. All you
had to do was make sacrifices.

 

GARY’S entry is scribbled out TOO
HARD by DUNCAN, breaking through the paper. DUNCAN SMILES and SHRUGS.

 

The sun begins to set, leaving the
room in a delicate amber light.

 

DUNCAN

(to the
fossil)

What happened
to your family?

(to
himself)

Where did
they all go? The old folk. Does anyone remember them? How they spoke, their
favourite colour, or even favourite food?

     (pause)

Is it just
me left?

 

DUNCAN moves towards the window,
unlatching it, GAZING out towards the village. His forehead shines in the HOT
waning sunlight.

DUNCAN

It still
looks the same, but these new folk – ha – they don’t value it. All these lot do
is pity me. ‘Look at him, look’ or ‘There goes that poor old man, why doesn’t
he just retire.’ What an absurd suggestion: “just retire.” They barely know my
name and would struggle to even dedicate a word to me after I pass. Nothing
more than a shake of the head saying, “what a shame, oh well.”

(beat)

Heh, you
know, there was a woman I remember. Gosh, I’d see her standing by her window at
the most ungodly hours. She was waiting for something, I presume, because her
eyes were always so distant. My god, if you ever saw her, you’d have thought
someone left a mannequin in the window, you would. I didn’t know her story, but
all I know is she never left that window.

(pause)

I tried to
find out more about her, I did. Spoke to the village. They told me she was some
old widow. Turned out they knew not much more than me.

     (swallows)

Anyway, the
strange thing I found was sometimes her gaze broke. No one in the village saw
it but me. It’d be five in the morning, and I’ll be strolling up the path, eyes
firmly forward – out of respect, of course – but…from the corners of my eyes I
could see her smiling, a glimmer of hope on her face.

 

A moment of realisation hits him
HARD. He looks out to his front porch with REGRET and SHAME.

 

DUNAN moves towards the record
player placed on top of a cabinet holding the sleeves of fifty-ish records. DUNCAN pulls out his GLEN CAMPBELL single Wichita Lineman, placing it onto the turntable. He SIGHS.

 

DUNCAN

It always
damns me to think how many more times my ears will be graced with his voice, it
does.

 

DUNCAN LIMPS towards his lounge
chair, by the window, DROPPING himself into it.

 

DUNCAN

I can’t
even remember her bloody face. Ha, I can only see a bloody mannequin.

 

DUNCAN EXAMINES his DRY hands and
clenches them into a FIST. How much time had really gone by?

 

DUNCAN

I’m just
tired…this is all I’ve ever known.

 

The line “And I know I need a small vacation” can be heard in the background
through the speakers, then fades to the background again.

 

DUNCAN

For how
much longer?

 

Winces at a pain in his calves.

DUNCAN (CONT’D)

None of
them – those from back then – would have turned their backs on this place.
Everyone knew each other.

 

DUNCAN tries to look SURE, but he
knows this isn’t entirely TRUE.

 

DUNCAN (CONT’D)

And what
fight will these lot put up? As soon as the buildings begin to crumble, their
bags would be packed and start a new life in something concrete – lifeless.

 

 

He wipes the sweat from his brow.

 

DUNCAN (CONT’D)

I should
hope, if this comes true, that I haunt this place.  It’ll be only spirit it’ll have left, won’t
it?

(sighs)

Where did
they all go? I miss them

(hums)

“And I need
you more than want you/

And I want
you for all time/

And the
Wichita Lineman/

Is still on
the line.”

 

Whilst the sound of the record
fades, outside the window a GOLDEN sun settles down beneath the Cotswold
countryside. This spectacle gives way for a tender navy blue and violet, which
in turn succumbs to the stars. The village remains deadly, silent; a faint
trembling light compared to the bright dome of the nearby town.

FADE OUT.

 





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