Shot Gun

INT. CAPTAIN DURRAN’S OFFICE- MID-AFTERNOON.

CAPTAIN DURRAN, 50, overweight, balding sits behind a desk
covered in neat piles of paperwork. He reads a paper and
loosely holds a thick black fountain pen while PRIVATE JOHN
GARROT, 25, stands at attention in the middle of the room.
CAPTAIN DURRAN sighs, and taps the end of the pen sharply
against the wood desk once, to prepare.

CAPTAIN DURRAN:

I did not want to have to issue
these, Private.

CAPTAIN DURRAN looks up at JOHN GARROT then slides the
papers on the desk across to JOHN. JOHN steps forward, picks
the papers up without looking at them, and then steps back
into attention.

CAPTAIN DURRAN CONT’D:

However, considering Dr. Bergler’s
report on your progress, and the
fact of the three eye-witness
accounts- The Court Martial has
found you guilty. On three
accounts. They’ve issued you the DD
Form 214, Section 8,
effective immediately.

PAUSE. JOHN GARROT stares stiffly above CAPTAIN DURRAN’s
head. DURRAN looks away and taps his fountain pen, frowning
uncomfortably.

JOHN:

Permission to speak, Captain?

PAUSE

CAPTAIN DURRAN:

Permission granted.

JOHN GARROT:

Captain, I was- AM a good soldier.
I have only ever served this
country, served the military-

CAPTAIN DURRAN:

Stop. This isn’t up for discussion.
It’s¬† been decided.

JOHN GARROT:

But, dishonourable-

CAPTAIN DURRAN:

Private! Considering your
circumstances…

(CAPTAIN DURRAN pauses and looks JOHN over.)

CAPTAIN DURRAN CONT’D:

John. They want me to send you back
to Dr. Bergler for further
treatment. You are, after all, an
exemplary soldier. However,
consider that there are other ways
to serve… Go home, get your head
together. Get a wife, some kids, a
good job- heck, get a dog! Just get
out of here.

JOHN GARROT blinks, chin clenched and looks away.

CAPTAIN DURRAN CONT’D:

Dismissed.

EXT. END OF JETTY OVER THE BAY OF SUNNY-BY-THE-SEA, SUNSET.

The sound of construction and a crowd can be heard over the
calls of gulls. JOHN GARROT stands in uniform at the end of
the jetty with his duffel bag by his feet. He holds some
creased papers.

JOHN lifts the papers and reads them.

JOHN GARROT:
(MUMBLES LOWLY WHILE HE READS)
…21 February… found guilty of
three acts perverse- DIShonourable.

PAUSE. JOHN looks across the water. A wind ruffles the
papers lightly.

He rips the papers in half deliberately, discarding one half
into the water. Squatting, he digs through his bag. He finds
a pencil and writes with it on the leftover paper, balanced
on his thigh.

In the water the half of papers thrown away slowly sinks,
reading “Dishonorable Discharge.”

JOHN GARROT stands, picks up his bag and hangs it over one
shoulder. He turns away from the sunset, his face falling
into shadow, and walks towards the boardwalk as he folds and
tucks the papers into his shirt pocket.

In the distance a crowd erects a Ferris Wheel inside of a
nearby carnival grounds while TOWNSFOLK gather. JOHN turns
in the opposite direction to the crowd. He passes a sign
reading “SUNNY-BY-THE-SEA” and walks into the darkened
streets of the town.

EXT. BOARDWALK IN FRONT OF CARNIVAL ENTRANCE. NIGHT-TIME.

ALICE PULTON, 16, a plain girl with no hips and in a pink
dress walks amongst a TOWNSFOLK crowd at night with ANNA
PULTON, 60, her grandmother.

ANNA PULTON:

Watch out for the carnival people,
Alice. There will be no leaving my
side, understood. We are here to
see Mrs Carter and her lot- not for
you to lolly-gag around and get
your skirts dirty with these
…people.

ALICE smoothes her dress down and frowns, looking away from
ANNA.

ANNA PULTON (CONT’D):

And no running off with the Callum
boys, do you hear me? That Wendy
Polland, she’s a bad influence.
Always floozing around with that
Garth Callum, showing her ankles…
(FADES AWAY).

ALICE and ANNA move off into the TOWNSFOLK crowd and through
the carnival entrance. JOHN GARROT, wearing a clean blue
shirt, a plain brown tweed jacket and brown pants, his hair
wet, walks through the TOWNSFOLK crowd. He looks around with
a deep frown, brow furrowed. JOHN edges around various
townsfolk, staring fixedly towards the carnival entrance,
and passes beneath it.

EXT. INSIDE CARNIVAL ENTRANCE, BEGINNING OF SIDE SHOW AREA.

JOHN slips beneath a sideshow tent and looks out from the
shadowed place.

(ACROSS CROWD) GIRL 1, 20, claps and cheers while leaning
over a partition of the “STRONG MAN” sideshow. She talks
with GIRL 2, 20, and together they gesture at the “STRONG
MAN”. The STRONG MAN, 30’s, wearing only tight leather
pants, lifts a barbell into the air. JOHN stiffens and leans
forward, face intent.

(ACROSS CROWD) BOY 1 and BOY 2 walk up to GIRL 1 and GIRL 2,
holding drinks and food. The girls turn, smile at the boys,
and accept the food. The four walk off together in couples.
JOHN GARROT frowns and turn away. He walks away into the
carnival.

INT. INSIDE A PRODUCE TENT, WHERE A CAKE COMPETITION IS
HOSTED.

ALICE fiddles with a program while ANNA stands away a bit
and talks with a WOMAN.

ANNA:

Oh, you simply must introduce your
Thomas to Alice. Alice, dear-

ALICE looks up, frowning, and walks towards ANNA. Behind her
JOHN GARROT walks past the tent entrance.

WOMAN:

Thomas’ is recently affianced,
actually. Harriet would adore your
Alice, though, I’m sure. Perhaps a
lunch date… (FADES AWAY)

EXT. INSIDE CARNIVAL AMONGST RIDES.

JOHN GARROT stops amongst the crowd, causing TOWNSFOLK to
swear and push past. JOHN GARROT glares around at the
TOWNSFOLK but does not move. He looks fixedly at-

EXT. BESIDE A SIDESHOW IN CARNIVAL GROUNDS.

GIRL 3, 20, voluptuous- faced away, talks to a CARNIVAL MAN,
gesturing towards a novelty toy. The CARNIVAL MAN retrieves
the toy and hands it to GIRL 3. GIRL 3 turns away, revealing
a large bust and intensely feminine face.

EXT. INSIDE CARNIVAL AMONGST RIDES.

JOHN GARROT recoils, scowls, turns and walks behind a nearby
tent.

EXT. COTTON CANDY VENDOR, CARNIVAL. LATER.

ALICE PULTON watches the COTTON CANDY PROPRIETOR roll a huge
stick of the sweet. Her eyes are wide and she is smiling.

ALICE:

LAUGHS How big does it get?

COTTON CANDY SELLER:

As big as you want it to be!

ALICE claps as the stick of cotton candy grows huge. ALICE
turns to ANNA, who is standing a few feet away at a CORN ON
THE COB VENDOR.

ANNA:

This price is just ridiculous! I
could buy the seeds and grow them
myself for-

ALICE:

Grandma An! Can I have a cotton
candy?

(In background) JOHN GARROT walks from behind a crowd,
pauses and looks closer at ALICE. He smiles.

ANNA:

What?

ANNA turns towards ALICE and then glances at the cotton
candy.

ANNA CONT’D:

Don’t be ridiculous, Alice.

ANNA returns to yelling at the CORN ON THE COB VENDOR. ALICE
looks disappointed. JOHN GARROT steps up beside ALICE.

JOHN:

Hello, there. ALICE jumps in
surprise, looking up at JOHN.

ALICE:

Oh! Hello.

JOHN:

Would you like some? It matches
your dress.

ALICE:

Yes! Yes please!

JOHN GARROT:
(to the COTTON CANDY SELLER)
We’ll take it.

COTTON CANDY SELLER:

What? All of it?

JOHN:

Of course!

JOHN takes the cotton candy and passes it to ALICE. He hands
money to the COTTON CANDY SELLER.

JOHN:
(TO ALICE)

My name is John Garrot. I’m new
here.

(IN BACKGROUND) ANNA catches sight of ALICE and JOHN
talking.

ALICE:

Oh! Thank you, John. I’m Alice,
Alice Pulton-

ANNA:

Alice!

ANNA marches over to ALICE and pulls her arm, intending to
drag her away. ALICE drops the cotton candy.

ANNA CONT’D:

What did I say about lollygagging,
Alice! Talking to strange men- and
in public! What if Mrs Carter had
seen you-

ALICE attempts to pull away from ANNA. ANNA pulls her along
into the crowd.

JOHN waves ALICE goodbye and ALICE looks crestfallen.

JOHN GARROT’S face turns stony as ALICE moves out of sight.

INT. CAFETERIA TENT IN CARNIVAL.

ANNA pulls ALICE through into the tent area and straightens
her dress and hair roughly.

ANNA:

In my day, girl, you would get a
beating for talking to such a rough
sort!

ALICE:

He seemed fine…

ANNA:

(Dismissively) Stupid girl. -Put
some colour into those cheeks, much
too pale…

ANNA rubs briskly against ALICE’s cheeks, turning them red.
ALICE pulls away, grimacing, and rubs her cheek.

ANNA CONT’D:

He was a man of the worst kind-
much too old, anyway- and you,
girl, flirting with him and making
all my friends think you’re a right
tart-

ALICE:

(Stubborn) I liked him.

ANNA ignores ALICE and sees a group of old women further
into the tent, sitting around a large table. She waves at
them.

ANNA:

There’s Mrs Carter! Come, Alice.

ANNA grabs ALICE’s arm again and hauls her over to the table
of old women. She shoves ALICE away into a nearby chair and
then sits amongst the gossiping group.

ANNA:

Ladies! You’d never guess how much
these criminals are charging for
the corn- (fades away)

ALICE rubs her arm and sulks.

(TIME LAPSES AS PEOPLE COME AND GO FROM THE TENT). ALICE is
slumped on her chair looking bored. She watches a GROUP OF
YOUNG GIRLS walk by, laughing.

ALICE scowls.

JOHN, standing by a tent pole just outside the cafeteria
tent, gestures to get ALICE’s attention. ALICE sees him,
sits up straighter in sudden interest and waves back.

JOHN:
(MOUTHS) Come here!

ALICE looks towards ANNA, who is still deeply involved in
her conversation. She looks back at JOHN and shakes her
head.

JOHN holds up a stream of tickets for rides.

ALICE bites her lip, hesitating.

JOHN gestures again, holding out his hand.

ALICE looks at ANNA again.

ANNA:
(TO HER FRIENDS)

Who- Alice? The child hasn’t got a
lick of sense-

ALICE sets her chin and looks back at JOHN. She gives a firm
nod, then carefully stands and edges away from the chair.

ANNA does not notice. Edging closer towards JOHN, ALICE then
breaks into a short run, stumbling into his arms.

She laughs while JOHN watches ANNA continue her conversation
over ALICE’s shoulder. He smiles. Pushing ALICE back
slightly, he grins towards her.

JOHN GARROT:
Come on.

JOHN and ALICE run off into the carnival.

EXT. CARNIVAL RIDE. NIGHT-TIME.

JOHN and ALICE sit on a ride, his arm around her and he
holds her hand with his free one. The ride starts and ALICE
falls closer into JOHN. He smiles stiffly and pulls her even
closer.

EXT. AMONGST SIDESHOWS IN THE CARNIVAL. LATER

JOHN and ALICE, laughing, come up to a games booth. ALICE
points towards a huge bear.

ALICE:

OH, John! It’s adorable. Please,
win it for me?

JOHN shakes his head, noticing that the game is a shooting
game. He glares at the army-like shot gun. ALICE looks
crestfallen, her shoulders slump and she kicks at the
ground. ALICE slowly pulls away, walking towards another
ride. JOHN looks after her, then fakes a smile.

JOHN:

Wait, Alice. Just for you.

JOHN accepts the gun, throwing coins at the CARNIVAL MAN
running the game.

ALICE turns around, face lighting up.

JOHN quickly aims and shoots rapidly, knocking down several
stacks of bottles. The CARNIVAL MAN grunts but hands over
the bear to ALICE.

ALICE cheers.

JOHN and ALICE kiss. Their faces are silhouetted by the
carnival lights. ALICE grips the bear close and stands on
tip-toes to reach JOHN, who bends to meet her.

EXT. CARNIVAL (GENERAL). LATER.

JOHN leads ALICE through a dance. Lights turn off around
them as the carnival empties.

ANNA (O/S):

Alice! Alice!

JOHN and ALICE stop dancing.

ALICE looks around, concerned, and attempts to break away
from JOHN.

ALICE:
(WHISPERS)

Grandma- JOHN stops ALICE, holding
onto her arms. He turns her to face
him.

JOHN:

Don’t go. Stay with me.

JOHN kisses ALICE.

ANNA (O/S):

Alice! Where are you?

ALICE breaks away the kiss, searching JOHN’s eyes.

JOHN:

Marry me.

ALICE:

I-

JOHN kisses ALICE again.

ANNA: (O/S

Alice! You wretched girl! Get here,
now!

ALICE tenses, PAUSE, then relaxes into the kiss. After a
moment the two break apart.

ALICE:
Yes.

EXT. OUTSIDE A COUNTRY CHURCH, MIDNIGHT

JOHN and ALICE laugh, hand in hand, and run into the Church.

INT. INSIDE CHURCH, MIDNIGHT

JOHN holds ALICE, who is wearing a cheap wedding veil.

Behind them a PRIEST and a MAN stand, the MAN pockets a lump
of cash, while the PRIEST looks worried. JOHN and ALICE
kiss.

ALICE:

I love you, John. Promise, you’ll
never leave?

JOHN smiles blandly and kisses her again.

EXT. TENTS OF THE CARNIVAL. NIGHT-TIME.

ANNA, alone, wanders the empty carnival.

ANNA:

Alice- Please, Alice…

PAUSE.

ANNA begins to cry.

INT. TRUCK DRIVING ON ROAD. NIGHT-TIME.

JOHN drives. He indicates, pulling up to the side of an
empty, beaten road.

EXT. ROADSIDE. NIGHT-TIME.

JOHN’S car sits alone by the road, in the dark, hazard
lights on.

INT. TRUCK PARKED BESIDE ROAD. NIGHT-TIME.

JOHN grips the steering wheel, staring into the dark. He
emotionlessly takes a folded paper out of his shirt pocket,
unfolds it, and smooths it flat across the steering wheel.
The paper is a list of objectives. He takes a pencil from
the dashboard, draws a line through “GET MARRIED”. The next
item on the list it “HAVE CHILDREN”. JOHN looks to the
passenger seat, where ALICE is curled up asleep,
unconsciously sucking her thumb.

END.

By Danielle K. Day

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