A Novel

      Based on the Novel by John W. Austin
      Contact: James Clois Smith Jr, Sunstone Press / (505)988-4418
      Log Line: While reminiscing about his life, an old man keeps coming back to a strong desire to tell his story to a grandson. He is also puzzled at times with questions about his own existence and the way his life has played out with his high school sweetheart and their family. Sections consist of various coming of age scenes, which constitute the heart of the movie, with scenes from later in life also interspersed throughout the film.
      ACT 1.
      Pete is shown leaving his seven one-room school students at “Punkin Center” to walk along an old dirt road through the woods and across the Little Missouri River to meet the daily mail car, driven by Uncle George (his brother-in-law). He catches a ride to Lodi where Mildred has gone into labor at her parents’ house, and he finds that the doctor has also arrived and soon thereafter, John arrives. {Music playing in background as Pete is walking and riding in the mail car…Chet Atkins “The Hat”} [Voiceover by young boy speaking as “:John” telling about Pete’s young adult life; (1) his baseball brush with the big leagues; (2) his stint in the CCCs; and (3) how he has had a hard life coming through the depression after his father died when he was 10 years old and his mother was left with a 120 acre farm and three children.]
      After John is born, Pete rides on to Murfreesboro (with the doctor) to take his teacher’s exam so he can finally be paid. After watching him stand in awe as a stack of $20 bills is laid before him, the family begins a series of moves to different one-room schools and houses at (1) Punkin Center; (2) Boto; and (3) Langley. While John and his sister Judy are in Texas with their mother, visiting relatives, the school house at Langley burns down, resulting in the construction of a new school. Pete drives the school bus and John rides along on some interesting adventures, such as (1) crossing the low water bridge over the Little Missouri River during flooding; (2) John’s first driving lessons in Pete’s lap on the school bus; and (3) the wild third-gear-only return drive through Langley at top speed. [Voiceover by young John]
      The family finally moves back to Pete’s childhood homestead farm and begins a major part of John’s growing years living there. John’s grandparents move into the house with the family after both parents have to work to make a living, and two more sisters are born. John begins to learn how to work on the farm under his “Papa Dock,” but also finds time for many fun activities. Fishing trip to Rock Creek with grandparents while staying home from school with the chickenpox, for example. Show scenes from the “mystery fish” incident. {Background music… “Forever Young” by Joan Baez] [Voiceover by young John]
      Fade to:
      ACT 2
      An older couple are sitting on their deck in an old yellow glider in Baker City, Oregon drinking their evening coffee and talking about their lives as almost gone. They reminisce about their happiness from the dream wedding and honeymoon out West to their time in West Texas and especially their life as a young family moving to Taos, New Mexico in the late 1960s. {Flashback to scenes from wedding and the honeymoon trip to NM, Grand Canyon, SLC, and Seattle World’s Fair, including scenes from “Lonely Are the Brave.”}
      He talks about his desire to tell his story to a Grandson. He is shown very distinctly in these scenes while she is somewhat blurry and indistinct.
      They laugh about their experiences in Taos, from their old adobe house to their many camping trips and {Show the wild horse chase story in its entirety} [Background music for chase scene… “Good Ol’ Boys Like Me” by Don Williams]
      Cut to:
      Columbia River scene near Arlington, Oregon, an older man is standing in an abandoned section of highway off the Interstate, looking at the weeds growing through the remaining pieces of pavement. He remembers a time long ago when he was here, or at least close, and thinks about that time when he crossed the river on a ferry in the bright moonlight with his parents on a trip from Wenatchee back to their home in Arkansas. He crosses the right of way fence and gets back into a car where a woman is waiting. She asks him if he thought he knew for sure that he had been here before and he answers that, yes, he knew he had been. But he says he isn’t sure that he was here today. [Background music… “Down the River of Time” by Michael Martin Murphey]
      Cut to:
      Later as they sit in a hot tub sipping their wine and watching the Perseids meteor shower they talk about how he still needs to talk to his Grandson about his story. She says he should tell all of the grandchildren, not just the grandson, but he explains why he wants to tell him first. [Background music for hot tub scene… “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” by Glen Campbell]
      Fade to:
      Act 3:
      Going back to John’s early life (narrated by young boy), John is shown roaming the fields and woodlands of the farm with childhood friends Nolan and Albert. John and Nolan hunt squirrels and trap along the creeks near the farm, while John and Albert find their fun riding their bikes. John and Albert lay an elaborate plan to steal some of Leander Cowart’s prized watermelons, after watching them ripen all summer, only to get caught red-handed and find themselves staring straight up into Leander’s double-barrel shotgun.
      Cut to:
      One night John catches the school but to ride up to the school house for a showing of the Saturday night movie. The week’s feature is “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman,” and by the time the movie ends, John is faced with the reality of having to get off the bus where the road leads to his house and walk through half a mile of full moon lit woods, with the fresh memory of the Wolfman standing behind every pine tree along the way. The “walk” turns into a “jog” soon followed by a blinding headlong sprint. [Background music… “Theme from Deliverance” from soundtrack, starting slow and gradually speeding up as John speeds up]
      Cut to:
      John then travels to Wenatchee, Washington for the annual apple harvest with his parents and the Crump family, seeing many sights along the way including snow on Monarch Pass in June and the Great Salt Lake. After spending the summer in a migrant camp in East Wenatchee, Pete buys the family’s first car, a 1941 Chevrolet Businessman’s Coupe, and the three of them are soon on their way back home. One particular scene sticks in John’s mind: The moonlit ferry ride across the Columbia River near Arlington, Oregon
      Cut to:
      Pete uses his new car to campaign for and win a seat to the Arkansas Legislature and John joins him in Little Rock for his first term. John roams the hidden reaches of the State Capitol Building and the streets of downtown Little Rock at night while Pete is holding “strategy sessions” back in the Marion Hotel. One night John goes to see a movie, “High Noon,” with Gary Cooper. He has also planned to go to the local wrestling arena after the movie to watch a “death match” between his hero and the “good guy,” Andre Drapp, and the nasty villain and “bad guy,” Gorgeous George. {Show scenes from “High Noon” and the clock on the wall as it ticks down to the time when John has to leave if he wants to make the wrestling match, which he does}
      John does make it to the arena in time to see Andre Drapp prevail and save the world from the villainous George. [Background music… “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin’ by Tex Ritter]
      Cut to:
      Soon after he comes back home to the farm, the family finds that they have to move to another school and John begins life at Kirby High School. He experiences his first real date with the sultry Donna Sue, only to be scared back out of puberty upon the untimely arrival of Donna Sue’s boyfriend, the ominous Buddy Morphew.
      Foregoing the urge to date for the rest of the year, although still looking around for the perfect “one and only,” the school year ends as the family deals with the terminal illness and death of John’s Grandmother. When “Granny” dies the family knows they will never be able to return to the farm.
      John is shown in the house with his grandmother on her death bed, and then going into the room where he has built so many memories. He then goes out of the house and wanders through the fields and farm scenes that meant so much to him, knowing that he will never return to this place to live again. [Background music… “This House” by Miranda Lambert]]
      Fade to:
      Act 4
      A woman and her three adult children, Claire, Tilly, and Jimmy are attending a funeral at a small rural cemetery in Southwestern Arkansas. The woman’s husband, James, has died and they have come back to Arkansas from their homes in North Carolina to bury him near where she and her husband were raised. As the graveside service concludes, the siblings walk back up toward the chapel but the woman leaves them and goes down to an isolated corner of the cemetery. They watch as she stands before a small grave marker for a long time. She then rejoins them and they get into their car to travel back to catch a plane out of Little Rock.
      They travel in silence for some time, then one of the daughters, Tilly, asks her Mother what she was looking at back at the cemetery. The woman doesn’t answer right away, and then quietly tells them that it was nothing, that she just needed to be alone for a while. She says to herself that she knows she needs to tell them but that it will have to wait for another time.
      Cut to:
      Back in their hotel in Little Rock they discuss their memories of their father and husband, and the children ask their mother what her plans are for the future. She says she wants to travel some, probably go out West. And she says she has heard that Taos, New Mexico is beautiful and she thinks she would like to visit it. They also discuss their plans to come back to Arkansas in a few months to look at the headstone they have picked out for the husband. [Background music… “In the Garden” traditional hymnal during funeral service.
      Fade to:
      Act 5
      Back to John’s senior year in high school at Kirby, he is playing on the basketball team and on a bus trip home from Murfreesboro a friend, Linda Kennedy, tells him that one of her girlfriends has broken up with her boyfriend and that she wants to go out with John. He is ecstatic and after their first date he feels he has found “the one.” They date steadily during the rest of the school year.[Background music…”My Prayer” by The Platters]
      Cut to:
      John also begins to race his family’s new car, a 1954 Plymouth Belvedere, every weekend with one of his high school buddies, Billy Golden. They are seen racing full speed along the highway between Kirby and Daisy, then turning around and racing back. [Background music during racing scenes… “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes van Zandt]
      Cut to:
      Toward the end of the school year John is on the baseball team and the coach schedules their final game at Mineral Springs, Arkansas, a town much larger than Kirby and about 50 miles away. The team travels to the game in three cars; one driven by the coach and two driven by boys, including John in the Plymouth. [Background music…”Minor Leagues” by Greg Brown]
      There is some minor speeding on the way to the game, at which Kirby gets soundly thrashed by Mineral Springs (the final score is something like 30-0). On the return trip, John and the other young boy driver start racing at top speed. Along the way there is a minor skirmish between two of the boys and an older guy in Nashville, which is broken up by the coach. Then John and the other driver race toward Murfreesboro and about 5 miles out of town, with John in the lead and traveling at least 90 mph, they round a slight curve just as they come up to an old narrow bridge across the Little Missouri River. John sees a horrible sight immediately in front of him. There are some young boys parked on the bridge in an old pickup, and they are in John’s lane.
      He has no chance of stopping or even slowing down, so he does the only thing he can do. He swerves hard to the left and almost misses the pickup, just clipping the left fender with the right side of the Plymouth. But as he hits the side of the pickup he see County dump truck coming head-on in his lane, only a few feet away now. He jerks the steering wheel hard back to the right and hopes he has enough room to miss the big truck. Then he hears the sound of his car hitting the truck and everything goes blank.
      Cut to:
      All the other boys are now standing outside the car as it has veered off the end of the bridge, and John wonders why he is still sitting inside the car. He also wonders why he has experienced something else that he doesn’t understand. Instead of seeing his past flash before his eyes during the wreck, he is surprised to see what appears to be his future life playing out. [Background music playing during future life scene… “We Only Have These Times We’re Living In” by Kate Wolf]
      Fade to:
      Act 6
      An older man is back in Oregon and is sitting on the deck alone talking to someone on the
      phone. Soon he is seen driving the highway again from Oregon to New Mexico. He travels over Soldier Summit, past Moab and the Canyonlands, and on past the old Ranger Station at Gobernador. He notices the sign pointing toward Carracas Mesa and recalls the wild horse chase. Up over the road past the Brazos Box and Hopewell Lake, and finally across the flats between Tres Piedras and Taos. He checks into the Kachina Lodge in Taos. [Background music playing during the road trip… “Lonely Feeling” by Robert Earl Keen]
      Fade to:
      Act 7
      As the mother and her three adult children travel along the road back to the little cemetery where their husband and father is buried, they discuss her plans to travel out West after they have looked at the new tombstone they have picked out. [Background music during drive to cemetery and while family is looking at tombstone… “Chiseled in Stone” by Vern Gosdin]
      After they lay flowers on the grave of James, they join others under the shade of the oak trees for lunch and visiting with extended family and friends of the families. As they prepare to leave, with the siblings and mother going their separate ways, they see that she has gone to her car and removed a dozen red roses from the trunk. They watch as she walks down to the small grave that she has visited before, where she lays the roses on the small headstone.
      While she is standing there looking at the grave, she notices the others now standing behind her, and she knows it is time to tell them who he was. She explains that he was a young boy she once knew, and that she had loved him a long time ago.
      As they leave the cemetery, they turn left toward Little Rock and she turns right toward the West. [Background music as she leaves the cemetery and heads toward Taos… “I Know You By Heart” by Eva Cassiday]
      Fade to:
      Act 8
      (NOTE: This scene cuts back and forth between the woman traveling through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico and the man in Taos).
      She is shown stopping to the night in El Reno, Oklahoma, where she again has a dream about being with someone from long ago. Then as she drives through Amarillo, she thinks she sees and old house with two small boys playing on a swing set in the back yard. After another stop for the night in Tucumcari, she rises early and is going over the mountains toward Taos.
      Cut to:
      The man is shown standing on the high bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge at sunrise, drinking coffee and looking down at the muddy brown river far below. He then goes out to Taos Pueblo to visit an old friend, Joe David Marcos, and they talk about how their lives have played out. As he comes back to town he sees the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and wonders what happened to Dennis Hopper (show DH gravesite in Ranchitos).
      He finds a bench on the Plaza and is drinking another cup of coffee when he senses that she is there. He sees her coming toward him across the Plaza, and he stands to meet her. They embrace and he tells her he has been waiting for her for a long time. She says she knew he would be.
      Pan to:
      Pan to old adobe house on Carabajal Road, then up to Taos Mountain.
      Background music beginning with intro just before he sees her coming across the Plaza and continuing through closing credits… “Jen’s Song” by Jennifer Watkins.
      NOTE: All background music ties directly to chapter in book which details music experienced by characters.