No. 26: "Summer Love," a screenplay
Context at end of this excerpt
Other entries in #33Stories at the Table of Contents. See you tomorrow!
Writers Guild of America registration no. 1216149
ABOUT THE STORY: Ben Houghton is in his late 30s and living an artist's life made possible, in part, by his wealthy father. He spends summers at the family estate on Block Island, a place that holds many memories for him. The best is the one great love of his life: Serena Fisher, a beautiful young woman he met the summer after graduating college. She left him. Now she's back, not looking a day older. A story of passion and obsession... and a mermaid named Serena.
The opening of "Summer Love":
EXT. THE ATLANTIC OCEAN - TWILIGHT
An uncommonly handsome MAN, about 30, is with a beautiful
WOMAN, early 20s, on a small, 1950s-era motorboat a short
distance off the Maine coast. They are kissing passionately.
The sun drains from the sky as storm clouds approach. The
SOUNDTRACK is The Happenings' smash hit, See You in
The scene becomes increasingly erotic, as the man and woman
shed their bathing suits. See You in September fades as we
hear THUNDER and see the first LIGHTNING. The ocean is
beginning to churn.
We should head in.
Are you afraid, Bergie?
It's getting dangerous.
Don't be silly. The sea is our
friend. Nothing can come between us
here. Kiss me.
They resume their lovemaking as the waves continue to build.
Soon, the boat is in danger of being swamped. The man's lust
gives way to fear -- but not the woman. She is more
passionate than ever. The man breaks off.
We have to go.
He tries to start the boat's small outboard engine, but it
Come with me.
What on earth?
Don't you see? This is how it was
meant to be.
The boat slips under the water. The man starts to swim toward
the shore -- but the woman grabs his leg. An iron grip.
We'll live forever.
The man struggles to free himself as the woman drags him
under the waves.
The man is close to drowning -- but not the woman, who seems
strangely satisfied, even angelic. The man thrashes. He
finally escapes. As he heads to the surface, we see a FLASH
of what appears to be a fanciful fantail.
CUT BACK TO
EXT. THE ATLANTIC OCEAN - NIGHT
The storm is full fury. Near exhaustion, his energy almost
spent, the man paddles toward the shore.
EXT. THE BEACH - NIGHT
The man crawls out of the surf and collapses.
EXT. OLD HARBOR, BLOCK ISLAND - THE PRESENT DAY
A summer morning, sunny and warm, the ocean dotted with
sailboats. A picture postcard. Arriving from the Rhode Island
mainland, the Block Island ferry has pulled into the dock.
The SOUNDTRACK is Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.
Passengers disembark. Cars and freight are unloaded.
On the vehicle deck, BEN HOUGHTON is behind the wheel of a
beat-up old Jeep Cherokee. He is uncommonly handsome, tall,
in his late thirties, a man with a ponytail, sunglasses, cutoff
jeans, and tee-shirt. He sports a two- to three- days'
growth of beard.
Ben drives off the ferry, waving to several people he knows.
He stops to talk to an OLD DECK HAND, a grizzled man in his
sixties who has worked the docks forever.
OLD DECK HAND
As I live and breathe, Ben
Houghton! Did you order up this
weather for us, cappy?
Hank! How was the winter?
OLD DECK HAND
Mild -- one even you fair-weather
people could've muddled through, I
bet. You here for the summer?
Until Labor Day. Same as always.
OLD DECK HAND
You bring weather like this, you're
welcome 'til Christmas.
Ben continues in his Jeep onto Main Street, Old Harbor, a
small village with a few hotels, restaurants, and shops.
As Ben surveys familiar surroundings for signs of change in
the nine months he's been on the mainland, his eye is caught
by SERENA FISHER, who is standing, alone, on a balcony of The
Atlantic, a grand old wooden hotel. Serena is about 20, tall,
with an exotically beautiful face, red hair, and a slender
but not girlish figure. Unforgettable.
We NOTE that this is the same woman, still the same age, from
the opening scene.
Ben slams on the brakes. Serena is watching Ben intently. As
Ben returns her look, Serena raises binoculars to get a
better look at him. Ben's face registers skepticism, then
CLOSE ON THE HOTEL BALCONY
It's deserted. Serena has disappeared.
EXT. HARBORMASTER'S BUILDING - DAY
Ben drives into the parking lot of a sprawling old building
built on wooden piles. The harbormaster's office and
residence are here, along with a marine supply store, a
lobster pound, and Ben's small summer photo studio.
CLOSE ON THE STUDIO DOOR
A sign reads: BEN'S ISLAND STUDIO. PORTRAITS AND LANDSCAPES.
Attached to the inside of a window is a hand-lettered sign
that reads: HAVE A GREAT WINTER! REOPENING JULY 1! Ben
fiddles with the lock, finally letting himself in.
INT. BEN'S STUDIO - DAY
The studio is well-equipped, with a computer, printer,
lights, backdrops, lightboard, and a (rarely-used) darkroom.
The windows provide a magnificent view of the harbor.
Ben takes down the closed-for-winter sign, opens the windows,
dusts off his desk, checks his phone to confirm that service
has been restarted, and steps back outside...
-- 30 --
Like my novel “Memory” (coming June 1 in #33Stories), I began “Summer Love” in the late 1990s. Unlike “Memory,” which remains unfinished, I completed “Summer Love” and updated it a decade ago, when it was published by Harvardwood Books and Unlimited Publishing LLC. Harvardwood is a national organization of Harvard students and graduates with interest or careers in film, TV and other media. I served for a while as the group’s media director, working with founder Mia Riverton.
“Summer Love” was also published five years ago in “Vapors: The Essential G. Wayne Miller Fiction, Vol. 2,” from Crossroad Press.