The Tedium of a Pessimist
© 2003 Ryan Kerr
kerr@bgnet.bgsu.edu

FADE IN

EXT. DESOLATE FIELD – DAY

SOUND OF WEEDS RUSTLING IN THE WIND
Alone in the middle of a field overgrown with weeds sits a lone rusted out coffee can. A single tree stands in the distance.

The feet of ED COUPLAND pass through the frame extremely slow, careful not to trip over the weeds.

Ed’s feet walk out of frame as we focus on the coffee can.

SOUND OF RUSTED METAL BEING HIT BY TWIG

A weed taller than all the rest sticks out from the middle of the coffee can. Sun filters through the rusted out holes creating awkward shadows in the surrounding field.

Camera circles around the can revealing its age and deterioration, and then SLOW PAN away from the coffee can and across the field, stopping once again at the feet of ED walking slowly through the underbrush.

SOUND OF CARHORN IN THE DISTANCE

ED’s FACE as he jerks his head around to see what direction the car is coming from. The sweat dripping down his face reveals the heat that surrounds him, as he sneezes violently.

ED sniffles and wipes his nose on his sleeve and is revealed to be a middle aged man, unshaven, and emotionless.

ANGLE on patches of sand interspersed between weeds, and in the middle of a larger patch of sand are the remains of a campfire.

LOW ANGLE of ED’S FEET entering into the campfire, his brown boots are tattered and torn and covered with the dust that he is kicking as he walks.

His feet come to an abrupt pause next to a wooden carton. Charred logs, twigs, and debris, have created a black spot in the field, and the overturned wooden carton rests next to the spot.

SOUND OF SAND BEING KICKED OVER A FIRE

ED as he struggles to pull a pack of cigarettes from
his jeans. Slowly he removes what appears to be the last cigarette from a crushed soft pack and then shoves his hand into his shirt pocket to find matches.

ED squints out over the horizon, searching the road.

CLOSE UP of a match being struck by ED. Ed begins to mutter to himself.

ED is coolly taking a drag from his cigarette, exhaling through his nose. The cigarette dangles from his lips as he continues to look out over the horizon.

PAN away from ED across the field and pause on a water tower that sits at the top of a hill right next to a dirty gravel road, a cloud of dust is unfurling in the distance.

ED JERKING TO HIS LEFT.

SOUND OF CAR KICKING UP GRAVEL/SOUND OF WOODEN CARTON BEING KICKED OVER

TRACKING SHOT of a car barreling down the road. A wave of dust washes over the field.

LOW ANGLE POV: ED hidden below the weeds. We see the campfire and the wooden carton and a clear blue sky, the sun sifts through the cloud of dust created by the passing car.

As the dust clears Ed stands up and brushes himself clean.

SOUND OF DISTANT TRAIN WHISTLE
Reaching underneath the wooden carton Ed pulls out a tattered copy of The Fool’s Progress by Edward Abbey. Flips to the middle ofthe book and looks up at the tree he is sitting under.

A solitary leaf slowly falls to the ground and lands next to the outstretched legs of Ed. The leaf is half decayed and filled with holes.

Ed picks up the leaf and HOLDS IT UP TO THE SUN, watching the light as it filters through for A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. Ed takes the leaf and marks his place in the book.

CLOSE UP of ED as he looks up at the sun, squinting, and a smile creeps across his face. He takes one last look at the camp he has made and trudges off into the weeds.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DUSK.

Ed is walking down the road with the book neatly tucked underneath his armpit and a cigarette still loosely hanging from his lips.
His feet shuffle along the pavement as Ed is in no apparent hurry.

SLOWLY FADE IN AND OUT OF FOCUS

Ed clutches his head in pain as the SOUNDS AROUND HIM ARE GARBLED.

Slowly things come back into focus and Ed shuffles into town, rubbing at his head.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

INT.CONVENIENCE STORE - NIGHT

Ed stumbles into a convenience store saturated with fluorescent light, a lone teenage clerk stands behind the counter and immediately recognizes Ed.

CLERK
Hey Ed! How are things at the Diner?
I’m guessing it’ll be the usual tonight?

The clerk slams down three backs of Lucky Strikes on the counter before Ed can even answer his questions.

ED
What’s your name again son.I can never
remember.

CLERK
Been coming here for three years and
you can never remember my name. It’s
a tough one, I know, it’s John.

ED
Right, right, John, I’ll remember that
for sure this time. Get me some aspirin
would ya?

Ed clutches his head in pain as the image of the convenience store slowly fades in and out. John is saying something but the sound is garbled to Ed.

CLERK
You don’t look so hot Ed, you gonna be
alright, should I call Gloria?

ED
No, for God’s sake,not Gloria,I’ll see
you tomorrow.(PAUSE)Jason

CLERK
It’s John,I just told you that no more
than a minute ago.

Ed is visibly frustrated, not making eye contact with the clerk, his feet tapping, and rubbing his hands together violently.

ED
So you did,I guess I have trouble
remembering things that don’t really
matter.

Ed slams down a handful of wadded up bills and takes the Lucky Strikes and the Aspirin off the counter.

The clerk stares as Ed shuffles listlessly out of the store.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

INT. ED’S LIVING ROOM – LATE NIGHT.

Ed is sitting in a tattered blue recliner, cigarette hanging loosely from his lips, and a lone lamp without a lampshade standing to his left.

The book he was reading in the field lies in his hands. Ed flips through the final page and slams the book shut with authority.

Ed turns out the light and continues to sit in the chair, smoking his cigarette and listening to the incessant ticking of an apparent clock.

SOUND OF A WOMAN SNORING FAINTLY

FADE OUT

FADE IN

INT. SMALL APARTMENT - EARLY MORNING.

SOUND OF ALARM CLOCK GOING OFF

A pile of books lays scattered over a cluttered coffee table that sits in the middle of an otherwise empty room.

A recliner sits next to a makeshift end table made of discarded milk cartons, and a cigarette lies burning in an overfilled ashtray.

There is a single window through which little sun gets through the drawn curtains, and a fluorescent overhead light glows silently above.

SLOW PAN through the rest of the apartment.

SOUND OF WATER DRIPPING IN BATHROOM.

The kitchen appears unused accept for a large pile of dishes that lie in the sink.

A single over-filled ashtray sits in the middle of a fold out kitchen table.

The SOUND OF THE ALARM CLOCK gets louder as we enter into the bedroom.

ED is sitting on the corner of the bed with his head in his hands staring at the alarm clock.

The alarm clock appears distorted to Ed as he looks up and slams down the snooze bar.

As Ed stands up we see that he is still fully dressed in the clothes from yesterday and apparently has not slept.

A woman lies in the bed next to him, awake, and staring at Ed quizzically.

Silently Ed leaves the room and shuffles towards the bathroom where he splashes his face with water and downs a large amount of painkillers.

As he stares up at the flickering fluorescent light, A BLACK OUT OCCURS.

ED panics but is able to feel his way back to the bedroom. He sits down with his back to Gloria.


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