The Pale

frame-19

I don’t always talk about records.  Sometimes I do actual writing.  Here is a short screenplay I wrote about a year ago.  I apologize in regards to some of the formatting.

The Pale

FADE IN:
INT. HOME OFFICE - DAY
JEFF HENNIG, mid-twenties, gangly and sloppily dressed, sits
typing on a computer.  His son, RONNIE HENNIG, 5, with
shoulder-length blonde hair and tall for his age, bounds
into Jeff’s office.  He wears a red-and-blue baseball
uniform.  In his hand is an Iron Man figure.

RONNIE

Gotta go!

                    JEFF
          Hey buddy!  Just hang tight a

minute.

Jeff rolls his office chair quickly past his son, tousling
his hair in the process.  Still seated, he pokes his head
out of the door of his office.
                    JEFF
          Honey!  I know it’s my turn to
          drive but I’m really behind on this
          project, can you take Ronnie to
          practice today?
RENEE HENNIG, late twenties with olive-skin and the striking
features of an actress, walks into Jeff’s office.  She gives
his chair a playful bump as she enters the room.
                    RENEE
          What’s up with my two men?
Ronnie bounces from foot-to-foot animatedly.  He looks up at
his mother.
                    RONNIE
          Mommy!  Gotta go. Go go! Baseball!
                    RENEE
          Come on, monkey.
Renee shoots a sideways glance in Jeff’s direction as Ronnie
yelps with delight.
                    JEFF
          Thanks honey.  I’ll make dinner.
          Chicken sound good?
                    RENEE AND RONNIE
          We love chicken!

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2) 2.

Renee leads Ronnie out of Jeff’s office.  Jeff can hear them
rustling around in the living room.  Jeff hears the door
shut.  He puts his head down and goes back to typing.
Momentarily, he gets up and wanders into the living room.
He sees that the front door is unlocked. He mumbles
something to himself as he locks the door.
EXT. DRIVEWAY - DAY
The red Dodge minivan’s back window is covered with
stickers, all superheroes in action poses, but the van still
looks shiny and recent.  Renee buckles Ronnie into the
backseat.  Renee shuts the back door and gets into the
driver’s seat of the van.
INT. MINIVAN - DAY
The van moves quickly down the lightly trafficked four-lane
road.  Renee smiles, glancing at the scenery speeding by.
Ronnie is in the backseat, playing with his Iron Man toy.
                    RONNIE
               (softly)

Uh oh.

Ronnie’s toy slips out of his hands and rolls under the
front passenger seat.
                    RENEE
          Looks like we’re gonna be early,
          little man.
EXT. HIGHWAY - CONTINUOUS
The minivan moves down the road as traffic passes by on the
opposite side of the yellow dividing lines.  A white Ford
F-150 pickup truck approaches from the opposite lane.  The
truck suddenly crosses the centerline and hits the drivers
side of the van. The minivan lifts slightly and then lands
with a thud, rocking back and forth as it settles.
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
One year later, Jeff, now too-thin with visible bags under
his eyes, sits down at a kitchen table across from Renee.
Renee is still attractive despite the new visible lines on
her face.  She has a large scar running the length of her
left forearm.  Jeff drinks Diet Coke from a can.  Renee has
whiskey in a tumbler.
                    JEFF
          It’s early for that.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:  (2)

3.

                    RENEE
               (slurred speech)
          It’s cocktail hour somewhere.
                    JEFF
          You’re drinking too much lately. I
          need to ask you something.
                    RENEE

What?

                    JEFF
          I never told you but the day of the
          accident I noticed you forgot to
          lock the front door when you left.
                    RENEE
          What?  Who cares?  You were right
          down the hall working.
                    JEFF
          It’s not that.  It’s just...you get
          forgetful when you’re rushed. Did
          you...
                    RENEE
          Did I what?
                    JEFF
          Did you forget to buckle Ronnie in?
                    RENEE
          Fuck you!  I never forget to check
          Ronnie’s seatbelt!
Jeff screws his face up, grabs his plate, and walks down the
hallway into his office.  Renee watches as Jeff retreats
from the kitchen.  Renee begins to weep quietly.

OFFICE

Jeff tosses his plate of food violently into the garbage
can.  Jeff sits down in front of his computer and begins
typing.
INT. GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT
The clock on the wall in Jeff’s bedroom shows 1:17 AM. Jeff
is sitting up in bed staring at the clock.  He stands up and
exits the bedroom and walks down the hall to his son’s room.
RONNIE’S BEDROOM

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2) 4.

Ronnie’s room has toys strewn about - a baseball bat close
to the window, three different superhero figures on the
brown lacquer 4-door dresser, and a still newish baseball
glove on the nightstand next to the bed.
The bed is covered in Iron Man sheets and blankets. Ronnie’s
Iron Man figure is on the bed close to the pillow, it’s left
arm missing since the accident.  Jeff sits down on the bed
and runs his fingers over the figure.
The air crackles.  The light coming in from the window dims.
Jeff tilts his head up and down and side to side. All light
disappears from the room.  The area above the bed begins to
glow a dull whitish-green.
                    JEFF
          I’m ready.
A shape takes recognizable form above the bed.  It is
Ronnie’s ghost.  Jeff tilts his head upwards and stares into
Ronnie’s face.
                    JEFF
          Why do you come to me?  What does

it mean?

Jeff is cut off by Ronnie, who picks up a book, and settles
onto the bed next to Jeff.  Ronnie points at words.
INSERT: "keep", "trying"
After a few moments of this, Ronnie disappears.  Jeff, with
a stunned look, lies down on the floor beside his son’s bed.
INT. MASTER BATHROOM - DAY
The next morning, Renee brushes her teeth.  She bends over
the sink to spit but suddenly stops.  Her eyes jerk and she
draws her head to the top of the mirror. She reaches her
right hand out towards the mirror.  She stands like that for
a moment and then shakes her head. She goes to pick up her
toothbrush but it is not by the sink where she left it.  She
looks around the bathroom and sees that the toothbrush is
now in the brush holder. Renee’s confused
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
Jeff and Renee are seated in the kitchen.
                    JEFF
          I called a counselor and explained
          our situation.  Maybe we should go
          talk to her?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:  (2)

5.

                    RENEE
          Does it even matter?  Nothing I do
          is ever right.
                    JEFF
          She said we need to deal with our
          grief.  I just need to know if we
          can go back to the way we were.
                    RENEE
          I don’t know.  Can we?  You tell
          me.  Not going to call me a killer
          today?
                    JEFF
          That was once!  I was hurt!  I said
          I was sorry.  It was mean of me to
          say that.
                    RENEE
               (sarcastically)
          You meant it.  Don’t you think I’m
          hurt?  Don’t you think I blame
          myself?
                    JEFF
          I don’t blame you.
                    RENEE
               (screaming)
          You do!
Renee turns away from Jeff.
                    JEFF
          I’m going for a walk.
Jeff exits the kitchen.  Renee watches him leave, then
begins to make a sandwich.  Behind her, a fork that is
sitting on the counter next to the stove lifts into the air
and hovers.  After a moment, it drops to the ground with a
metallic clang.  Renee spins around quickly, scanning the
kitchen.  She sees the fork on the floor and picks it up.
INT. GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT
Jeff is sitting up in his bed, and turns to look at the
green neon-backlit clock on the wall. The time reads 1:17
AM.  Jeff stands up and exits the bedroom.

HALLWAY

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2) 6.

Jeff’s slippered feet make little noise in the hallway. Jeff
pokes his head into his son’s room.  He looks at the bed,
not noticing that the Iron Man figure is gone. He then
stares out Ronnie’s bedroom window at the tree outside for a
moment, then continues towards the staircase.

KITCHEN

Jeff opens up the cabinet above the refrigerator and takes
out a bottle of whiskey, placing it onto the kitchen island.
He opens the freezer and grabs the ice tray and places it on
the island next to the bottle.  He walks over to the
cupboard next to the sink and takes out a tumbler.  Walking
back to the island, Jeff steps on something that makes him
jump.
                    JEFF
               (quietly)
          Ow!  Son of a bitch!
Jeff puts the tumbler on the island.  He bends down and
picks something up off the floor. It’s his son’s Iron Man
figure.
RONNIE’S BEDROOM
Jeff drops the figure onto Ronnie’s bed.  Jeff lays down on
his son’s bed.
INT. MASTER BEDROOM - DAY
Later that morning, Jeff walks into the master bedroom.
Renee is sitting up in bed, reading.
                    JEFF
          No work today?
                    RENEE
          I took a sick day.
                    JEFF
          Another one?
                    RENEE
               (curtly)
          Yes, another one.  I’m doing some
          research.
                    JEFF
          What kind of research?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:  (2)

7.

                    RENEE
               (curtly)
          I’m looking for a divorce lawyer.
Jeff’s face contorts in concern and worry lines form on his
forehead.
                    JEFF
          I don’t think we’re there yet.
          Listen...Renee, has anything weird
          happened to you?
                    RENEE
          Like what?
                    RENEE
          I don’t know.  Anything strange.
Renee’s face changes slightly.  Her eyes darken.
                    RENEE
          There was something...no.  What
          aren’t you telling me?
                    JEFF
          Never mind.
INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT
That evening, Renee is in bed in the dark reading.  The
light from her iPad illuminates her face.  She looks at the
clock on the iPad and it reads 1:17 AM.  She turns to put
her iPad on the nightstand when Ronnie’s ghost materializes
above her.  Renee lays there stiff, staring up at the ghost
hovering above her head.

RENEE

          Jeff!
               (screaming)

Jeff!

                    JEFF (O.S.)
          What’s going on?  Are you okay?
                    RENEE
          Jeff!  Get in here, help me please!
Jeff crosses from the guest bedroom and stands in the door
frame.  Jeff looks at Renee and then follows her gaze
upward.  He sees Ronnie floating above Renee.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:  (2)

8.

                    JEFF
          Renee, Renee.  It’s Ok.  This is
          what I was trying to tell you
          about.
                    RENEE
          What do you mean, tried to tell me

what?

                    JEFF
          About anything strange.
                    RENEE
          Uh-uh.  No.
Renee bolts out of bed and runs past Jeff into the hallway.
Jeff looks up at Ronnie.

HALLWAY

Renee crumples in the corner.  Jeff bends over her. Renee
looks up at Jeff.
                    RENEE
               (hysterical)
          What is that?  Did you see that?
                    JEFF
          Shh.  I tried to tell you.
                    RENEE
          What?  This is more than something
          strange.  Is that Ronnie?
Renee struggles in Jeff’s grip but Jeff leads her back into
the bedroom.  Ronnie has disappeared.  Renee looks at Jeff
in confusion.  Jeff moves to hug his wife. Renee is stiff
but then lets Jeff hug her.
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
Jeff and Renee sit at the kitchen table.  The plates of food
haven’t been touched.  Renee looks sad and confused.  Jeff
looks contemplative.
                    JEFF
          I understand you have questions.
                    RENEE
               (growing agitated)
          Questions?  Like what?  Like, "gosh
          Jeff, how long have you known our
          dead son was visiting our house at
          night?"

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2) 9.

Renee violently pushes her plate of food away from her.
                    JEFF
          You would have said I was crazy.
                    RENEE
          I’m still not convinced you’re not.
          How can I explain last night?
                    JEFF
          We could both go to Ronnie’s room
          tonight.  He always seems to appear
          at 1:17 AM.
                    RENEE
          Why my room last night?
                    JEFF
          I don’t know.
                    RENEE
          How many times have you seen him?
                    JEFF
          Does it matter?

RENEE

Yes.

                    JEFF
          Humor me.  Tonight?
Renee stands up.  As she does, her fork falls off the edge
of the table onto the floor.  Jeff stands up suddenly.  The
couple look at each other across the expanse of table.
                    JEFF
          You’re sure nothing strange has
          happened to you?
Renee turns and walks away from the table.
                    RENEE
          It was a fork!  Let it go!
INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT
Jeff sits on the edge of Renee’s bed.  The clock ticks over
to show 1:17 AM.  Jeff grabs Renee’s arm, and they both get
up and walk out of the bedroom.
INT. RONNIE’S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Jeff and Renee enter Ronnie’s room.  Ronnie appears above
his bed.  He looks in the direction of his parents.  He
smiles.  Jeff and Renee look up at their dead son with
wonder and confusion. Ronnie floats downwards until his feet
meet the floor, and holds out his hands.  Jeff reaches for
Ronnie’s left hand.  Renee stands motionless.
                    JEFF
          Take his hand.
                    RENEE
          What’s going to happen?
                    JEFF
          Take it.  Find out.
Jeff takes Renee’s hand and moves it towards Ronnie. Ronnie
grabs her hand, and both Jeff and Renee go stiff.
INT. MINIVAN - DAY - FLASHBACK
It is the day of Renee and Ronnie’s accident, seen from
Ronnie’s point of view.  Ronnie is playing with his Iron Man
figure, flying it around in front of his face.  The car
bumps slightly, and Ronnie drops the doll onto the floor of
the van.

RONNIE

Uh oh.

Ronnie unbuckles his seatbelt and hops off the seat onto the
floor.  He deftly grabs the doll from under the passenger
front seat, tosses it up onto his seat, and begins climbing
back onto his seat.  He is working on getting his seat-belt
back on.  His hands slip.
                    RENEE
          Looks like we’re gonna be early,

little man.

Just then, the white Ford F-150 hits the van, which knocks
Ronnie head-first into the passenger-side back window, which
cracks from the impact.
                    RENEE (V.O.)
               (screams)
          Oh god!  No!
BACK TO SCENE
Jeff turns from Ronnie and looks at Renee.

10.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:  (2)

11.

                    RENEE
          Oh, no, no, no.
                    JEFF
          I understand now.
                    RENEE
          Understand what?
                    JEFF
          It wasn’t your fault.
                    RENEE
          It was my fault!  I’m his mother!
               (sobbing)
          I was supposed to protect him!
Jeff opens his mouth and then shuts it again.  Ronnie lets
go of his parents’ hands.  Renee’s voice hitches and she
reaches her hands out to Ronnie, who is fading away.
                    RENEE
          No!  Don’t go yet!  Not now!
Ronnie fully fades away.  Renee drops to her knees and
begins to sob uncontrollably. Jeff kneels down and caresses
her hair.  Ronnie’s Iron Man figure has disappeared from his
bed.
INT. RONNIE’S BEDROOM - DAY
Fourteen months later, Renee and Jeff are looking into a
crib and smiling at a chubby infant girl dressed in pink. It
is Ronnie’s bedroom but most of the room has been
rearranged, and instead of Ronnie’s bed, the crib is now in
the center of the room, beneath a picture of Ronnie in his
baseball uniform.  Renee leans into the crib to pick up the
baby, removing the baby’s blanket as she does so.  Renee
stops suddenly and stares at her daughter.  In the infant’s
hand is Ronnie’s Iron Man figure with the missing left arm.
Just then Jeff glances down and also sees the figure in his
daughter’s hand. Renee hugs Jeff, then looks around the room
and smiles.

THE END

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s