During the #coronavirus pandemic, I am regularly posting stories and selections from my published collections and novels. Read for free! Reading is the best at this time!
This is the sixth free offering: The beginning of “Summer Love,” an original screenplay published in 2008.
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 September.
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 won't catch.
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, cut- off 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 mild shock.
(to himself) Serena Fisher?
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.
EXT. HARBORMASTER'S BUILDING - DAY
Ben struggles with a large aluminum trunk containing his cameras. He is interrupted by STEVE MCAFFERTY, harbormaster and dear old friend, a happy-go-lucky sort. McAfferty is Ben's age. He is standing in the doorway to his office, identified by a sign: HARBORMASTER.
Need a hand?
Ben, old buddy! You're early. Your e-mail said not to expect you for another couple of weeks.
Last-minute change. Business on the mainland is slow -- the economy, you know. The only reason to stay was Steph, and I hardly ever see her these days. She's set to start the biggest trial of her career.
The Granatino murder case.
That's the one.
It's been all over the news. Grisly shit, those gangland killings.
She's pretty sure she can get the bastard the chair.
Let's hope so.
It's been a bitch for her to prepare. Fifteen-hour days, seven day weeks, four prosecutors, you get the picture...
Together, the two men get the trunk up the stairs and into the studio.
INT. BEN'S STUDIO - DAY
Steve sits at Ben's desk, while Ben unpacks his cameras and lenses. His business may not be booming, but his equipment is the finest money can buy.
I heard about your father. How is he?
It's into his liver. All they can do for him now is morphine.
I'm sorry, Ben.
(unemotionally) No one lives forever.
Is he at home?
Yes, with nurses around the clock. He wanted to come out here, but the doctors nixed that. As strong- willed as he is, he couldn't get them to give in. My sister's in from Chicago. Me -- well, I...
I know how hard it must be.
But enough of the gloom. Have have you been?
Town council still won't give me that assistant I need, but other than that, I can't complain.
I finally got my new sign. And they gave me the money to renovate the second floor. I live here now.
Cool. How long have you fought for that?
Only six or seven years. I guess politicians are like fine wine. They take time.
A SERIES OF SHOTS
Of Ben driving across Block Island to his family's summer house. The Houghton residence is on the shore of magnificent Mohegan Bluffs, on the island's south end.
EXT. SUMMER HOUSE - DAY
The house is a rambling, vine-covered, shingled building with shutters, chimneys, porches, and balconies. Old money. A driveway dividing an enormous, impossibly green lawn leads past a carriage house to the front door. Having just finished with the lawn, two salty old CARETAKERS are loading mowers onto their pickup truck.
Good morning, Mister Houghton.
Morning, boys. Lawn looks great.
Thanks. Water and electricity's all on. Wood's stacked by the main fireplace. The market guy stocked the 'fridge. And we got the float in the water.
Boat, too. The yard repainted her over the winter. She looks pretty as a summer dream.
She always does.
Well, see you next week. You need anything, you know where to call.
INT. SUMMER HOUSE - DAY
The inside has cozy old furniture and ample windows affording stunning views of the ocean. The dominant motif is BEN'S FATHER, known to most by his nickname, Houghtie.
Houghtie's presence is everywhere -- on the mounted swordfish above the fireplace, golf trophies, photographs of him at the wheel of his motorboat, etc. In these photos, he is a distinguished looking man in his late sixties with a full head of silver hair and Brooks Brother attire.
As Ben brings his gear into the house, he pays no attention to any of this. He throws all of the windows open.
EXT. SUMMER HOUSE - DAY
Ben leaves the house by way of the oceanfront porch, crosses the lawn, and descends a set of weather-beaten stairs that lead down the bluffs to a dock.
EXT. HOUGHTON DOCK - DAY
Tied to the dock is Houghtie's boat: a classic 1930 Chris- Craft triple-cockpit runabout named HOUGHTIE'S GLORY that has been meticulously maintained. It's the old man's pride and joy. A race float, flags flying, is anchored out in the water a distance.
Ben seems inclined to take the boat for a spin. The building SOUNDTRACK is The Motels' Suddenly Last Summer.
WIDE ANGLE: Of the stairway and bluffs.
CLOSE ON: The top of the stairway. Serena Fisher is standing there.
CLOSE ON: Ben's face.
(to himself) It can't be her.
CLOSE ON: Serena's face. She's smiling.
She doesn't answer.
Ben is off and running, taking the stairs two at a time, but when he gets to the top, Serena has vanished. Nothing in sight but the summer house and vast, empty lawn.
Ben stands, hands cupped to face, calling for her. But his voice competes with the rising sounds of WIND and SURF.
Serena! Come back!
(Should you wish to purchase any of my collections and books, fiction or non-fiction, visit www.gwaynemiller.com/books.htm)