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Folklore

By
Tyler McLaren

© Tyler McLaren

416-662-7213 81 Roy Drive
Mississauga, ON, Canada L5M1A6
tylerbmclaren@gmail.com

ate with some of the boys. TOM McCULLOUGH (50s) kneels beside the fence and hammers away on a loose board and post. a metal nail held in his mouth. YOUNG MAN That’s that Preacher Man. He takes a swig from his canteen and pulls at the board. YOUNG MAN Mr. McCullough. a man is setting up camp. A cluster of barns and stables is visible in the distance. clearing his throat loudly before getting close. Says we’ll have an early start tomorrow.DAY A wood fence stretches across a broad landscape. seeing that it’s secure. It gives a little. YOUNG MAN Yessir. TOM Tom would be better. he looks in TOM’s direction. Boss says we’re done for the day. TOM That right? TOM HAMMERS the nail into the board. His face is lean and haggard. Came into town this morning. on account of the heat.FADE IN: EXT. his back to the ranch. son. As he unpacks. Some distance beyond the fence line. TOM is looking back. his arms thin and sinewy where the sleeves are rolled. THE RANCH . YOUNG MAN Said he’d be staying a few days for those seeking expiation. A YOUNG MAN (20s) approaches TOM from behind. TOM That’s fine. a white straw hat on his head. on the path leading from the ranch into town. hands in his pockets. sir? TOM pulls the nail from his mouth. (CONTINUED) . sweating and squinting from the beating sun. Tom. TOM sighs. I mean.

ISAAC (4) make a mess of his stew. brings it closer by just an inch. Isaac grasps his bowl in both hands and. LUCY looks down at her stew. We’ll start early tomorrow. (CONTINUED) . Isaac. THE MCCULLOUGH HOME . They say God don’t look kindly on laying with the savages. sighing. Isaac sits between them. LUCY How is the work? The heat’s been so awful I had a mind to keep Isaac from school. INT. YOUNG MAN (CONT’D) Figure maybe I’ll tell him about laying with that Indian girl last month. stupidly. You reckon that’s true? You gonna confess something? TOM looks back at the YOUNG MAN who smiles innocently. LUCY Bring the bowl closer.DAY TOM sits across a small table from LUCY (30s). TOM SWINGS the hammer down. looking at TOM’s. LUCY Good. anyway. then turns back to the fence. LUCY is comely. avoid the worst of it. The YOUNG MAN scratches at the back of his neck. her hair wrapped in a bun and her soft features in stark juxtaposition to Tom’s leathery. The boy would play himself to death with his friends. worn face. TOM It’s fine.CONTINUED: 2. TOM It’s hot. You’ll spill less. both stirring and sipping from a bowl of something hot. She is smiling warmly watching their son. making sure it’s no closer to the edge of the table than TOM’s. TOM HAMMERS away. sniffing as though his nose was running. Already told half the town.

You leave the discipline to his father. but after a quick glance. LUCY (CONT’D) He was fighting again today. anyway. TOM Used to be. . SIPPING from his spoon. but Johnny Creeley was telling everyone you was a bad man! Said youTOM It don’t matter what he said. and then he shakes his head. boy? ISAAC Yes. LUCY Well. It ain’t for you to make right. TOM’s face softens. can’t seem to look at the boy. TOM And didn’t you tell her last time was the last time? ISAAC Yes. TOM SIPS from his spoon. he’s the foreman’s boy. TOM Is your mother speaking true. TOM Ira Creeley don’t have orders for me at all. and ISAAC’s cherub face turns red with shame as he hangs his head. TOM’s face is cold. TOM eyes the boy down. Eyeing LUCY. ISAAC. sir. Suppose now he finds cause to run your father ragged tomorrow.CONTINUED: 3. Sends his boys out to give them when he does. used to be that Tom McCullough didn’t take well to orders. sir. almost lifeless. watches TOM from the corner of his eye. LUCY On top of that. most days. pulling his bowl closer to himself and then doing the same for ISAAC’s.

He picks a small wooden gun up from under his knee. INT. The door opens. (CONTINUED) . The wooden toy has been carved to loosely resemble a revolver. beads of sweat run from TOM’s face to his pillow. his loud boots cutting through the new silence. TOM sleeps on his side. then gets up to leave. INT. looking forward. and gets up. TOM’s eyelids flutter. All eyes are on him. kneeling beside Isaac as quietly as he can.4. wide-eyed and startled. her pretty hands resting atop the sheets at her waist. TOM reenters the room.NIGHT LUCY still sleeping soundly. He sniffs. INT. almost in prayer.NIGHT In bed. where a growing stain circles his head. and most of the chairs have been onto tabletops with the floors beneath streaked from mopping. a lantern burning dully on a bedside table casting a faint light on the young boy’s sleeping face. IRA takes a big sip from his glass. ISAAC’S ROOM . having knelt on something. TOM lets go of a heavy breath. He places the wooden gun inside next to a faded and dusty wide-brimmed Stetson hat and folded up clothes stacked on top of one another. TOM Boss. his back to LUCY. the door left open. IRA CREELEY Tom McCullough. short and stocky with thick forearms and a potbelly sits hunched over. is near empty. TOM AND LUCY’S BEDROOM . INT. He gulps. drunk and half-asleep on his stool. and studies it for a moment. IRA straightens up.NIGHT The bar flipped a fresh propped nearby. Those that remain are crowded by the bar up on stools with half-empty glasses held in hand or IRA CREELEY (50s). TOM AND LUCY’S BEDROOM . and in walks TOM. He awakens. THE TOWN BAR .NIGHT TOM enters his son’s room. small enough for a child’s finger. LUCY sleeps on her back. a hole bored into it where the trigger would be. TOM sits down. then sits up with his feet on the floor. He grimaces. TOM approaches the bed. quietly opening the bottom drawer of a cabinet.

THE PREACHER It is not often I find a sober man up at this hour. it’s uh. a slight man with a clean shave dressed in black. really. THE PREACHER (30s). IRA CREELEY Evening. THE PREACHER Hello. TOM offers up no response beyond an obnoxious sniff of his nose in his usual way. TOM gives IRA the same sort of cold stare he gave ISAAC. it’s Hell on Earth. then relieved. (CONTINUED) . TOM Bad dreams. sits next to TOM. then places it down clumsily. THE PREACHER I don’t mind it. here. IRA CREELEY lifts his drink up for another gulp. ain’t it? TOM Suppose it is. IRA CREELEY (CONT’D) This heat. Find it makes most folks talk more than they should. IRA looks startled. Suppose it does. THE PREACHER(CONT’D) Makes a man more forthcoming with his transgressions.CONTINUED: 5. not noticing the glass is empty. then? After an honest day’s work? TOM I don’t drink. IRA CREELEY Will you have a drink with me. IRA CREELEY Right. well. Reverend. at a bar no less. Tom. I don’t believe you’ve met Tom.

IRA. and his eyes are the same. puzzled. TOM My dreams are all the same. "We have had dreams. He’s got my old clothes and my old hat on and my gun too. Ira. TOM gets up and makes for the door. He is waving for them to sit around the fire where a pot boils. His arms are wide in welcome. TOM breathes in deep. THE PREACHER And what do you think it means? TOM Don’t know. wiping sweat from his face with the back of his hand. Tom. INT. THE PREACHER watches. a book clasped in one hand. TOM watches as several men and women from town approach the solitary figure dressed in black. Between the strikes of his hammer." And Joseph said to them. gets up from the bar and heads for the door. "Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me. leaving.CONTINUED: 6. inside of his camp. THE PREACHER. and they oblige. There’s a man on horse. LUCY You have been a particularly awful sort of quiet lately.DAY TOM and LUCY are again sitting across the table from one another. THE MCCULLOUGH HOME . riding hard.DAY TOM is once again repairing a section of worn fencing. but his face is different." TOM Best head home. THE RANCH . with LUCY eating and TOM stirring his full bowl. THE PREACHER They said to him. (CONTINUED) . Reckon that belongs to God. EXT. Foreman wants us up early. TOM walks out of the bar. and there is no one to interpret them. puzzled. and he’s looking at me.

TOM’s face turns to a scowl. LUCY What are you doing? Leave the boy alone. TOM moves toward ISAAC and grabs him roughly in both hands. TOM Just the heat. boy? ISAAC. I’m taking him to see that preacher. spotting Isaac. THE MCCULLOUGH HOME . and he’s been fighting again. Tom.DAY TOM steps out from the house and. startling LUCY. TOM He will. He walks out of the house. TOM Who are you supposed to be. covering his eyes. EXT.CONTINUED: 7. TOM gets up. TOM Who are you supposed to be? LUCY Tom! Stop it! TOM looks back to see LUCY standing on the porch and ISAAC takes the opportunity to make a run for the house. Stepping off of the porch. Lucy. his teacher says. his face sinks. crouching. Not so keen on rules. brandishing his wooden revolver with his father’s cowboy hat sliding back and forth on his head. frightened. begins to cry. but TOM tugs him back. Isaac runs around the McCullough home. LUCY And you’re sure that’s all it is? TOM Did you call the boy in? LUCY I did. Feels like my head’s come to boil. He don’t understand. TOM pulls his hat from ISAAC’s head and takes the toy from him. It’s past time he knew what sort of man his father is! (CONTINUED) . He hasn’t come.

TOM Well then I made right in marrying you.. THE PREACHER’S CAMP . THE PREACHER(CONT’D) Sit. THE PREACHER’s smile to ISAAC is warm. He looks up and sees TOM and ISAAC standing several feet from him. I sleep little. (CONTINUED) . I married a decent man who loves his family. tugging ISAAC along behind him. I don’t need God to tell me that. and late.. THE PREACHER sits on the ground near the fire reading from a plain-faced book.NIGHT THE PREACHER’s Camp has only the bare essentials: a small campfire. ISAAC glances at both men. Tom. TOM and ISAAC sit next to THE PREACHER. TOM stands up. THE PREACHER No. Lucy.CONTINUED: 8. confused. TOM fidgeting with the old cowboy hat in his hands. TOM I hope you weren’t near to turning over. THE PREACHER So it is. please. a pack and cookware strewn about. TOM and ISAAC walk off. no. still tugging ISAAC along. EXT. but God’s telling me something different. a tent that has seen better days. LUCY (CONT’D) Was! Let them prattle on in town all they like. TOM This is my son. TOM turns from LUCY. TOM (CONT’D) And I best go see to it. still holding his hat.

but fails. TOM I know it. Honoring me is what’s got us here. She knows Tom McCullough used to ride with outlaws. only the names was different. What about your wife? TOM reaches into his pocket.CONTINUED: 9. THE PREACHER So she knows. pulling out the wooden pistol. Preacher man. (CONTINUED) . then back at TOM. neither. and she has forgiven you for it." TOM Don’t deserve no honor. The Lord might spare him the same fate. TOM Lucy knows it as the papers tell it. Never honored mine. THE PREACHER You believe your dreams are about your boy. THE PREACHER "Honor thy father and thy mother. used to have his picture drawn up in front of the sheriffs’ in towns north of here. THE PREACHERS peers at ISAAC. again and again. THE PREACHER How can I help? ISAAC looks to his father. and yet you worry you’re already too late. But the boy’s too young to understand. ISAAC smiles and tries to spin it. and places it in ISAAC’s hand. If I could justTHE PREACHER If you could just tell the boy what you’ve done. TOM I fear my son loves me more than he ought to.

TOM (CONT’D) She thinks I did as needed.CONTINUED: 10. over to his pack and supplies. looking into eyes that mirror his own. THE PREACHER(CONT’D) You’re asking that the Lord might forgive you and help you on the way to forgiving yourself. startled. a big black hat on his head. He firing so many (MORE) (CONTINUED) .. pointed at my family. riding alongside his gang. instead. and sniffs harshly. I believe you have paid your penance in nightmare and memory. and he’s firing. TOM looks deep into THE PREACHER’s eyes. frozen. Preacher. and the boy calms. THE PREACHER turns back to TOM.. THE PREACHER stands up and walks away from Tom. TOM She don’t get to forgive it! ISAAC looks up. but she’s never seen it. ISAAC stops twirling his pistol. a pistol in his hand. THE PREACHER And so you’re here to ask God. You only need to watch a man die once to know there ain’t never need for it. TOM That right? THE PREACHER I see a man on a horse. THE PREACHER But I have bad dreams of my own. TOM I’m not asking for nothing. and I believe the Lord will do just that. THE PREACHER Of course you are. but TOM places a gentle hand on his head. Tom McCullough. He has a six-shooter on him too.

No difference at all. but it doesn’t get you right with me.. adjusting it so that the rim sits just over his eyes. Tom? He looks just like you. TOM’s face crumples up and he looks away from THE PREACHER’s eyes which are wet with tears. (CONTINUED) . THE PREACHER (cont’d) times you’d think he’d aimed to kill them twice.. running his thumbs along the rim. TOM hangs his head low. casting them further into the dark. TOM Do you know the way home. TOM It is dark. TOM Well.CONTINUED: 11. TOM places his old hat on his head with one hand. but you’ve got that pistol. TOM You even a real preacher? Or were you just playing at it? THE PREACHER You’re the only one playing. Tom.. then to his father who sits in a quiet melancholy studying his black hat. Isaac? ISAAC Yes. playing at being a decent man. like your daddy. papa. ISAAC is hesitant. Your mother will be up waiting.. his voice cracking and shaking. Tom. But its’ dark. looking at THE PREACHER’s pistol pointed at his father. THE PREACHER(CONT’D) And you know what. ISAAC turns. and runs. Playing at ranching. don’t you? You just be brave now. eyeing the black stetson hat cradled in his hands. playing at tending cattle. You thought selling off your six-shooter for a hammer and nails and putting your boy in school was enough to get you right with God? It might.

. You’re half right though. TOM (CONT’D) I wish I could say I dreamed of your family. and tired. THE PREACHER So you didn’t. then he steels himself. Preacher Man.. the fire down to embers and the lantern dwindling. THE PREACHER(CONT’D) What have you got on yours besides that old pistol and a rotten soul? TOM (Sniffs) Gumption. I always wanted different for my boy. TOM brushes back his duster. THE PREACHER (upset) Is that all you have to say? TOM You prefer I ask after your health? How you been keeping all these years? That make it easier for you to pull on me? THE PREACHER I don’t know. THE PREACHER pulls back the hammer on his revolver. TOM (CONT’D) But I never did sell my six-shooter.CONTINUED: 12. and there’s been so many good folks to dream of. You’re old though. . The camp on the edge of town is silent and cold. THE PREACHER’s eyes widen for an instant. revealing the holster and hilt of a revolver at his side. Tom. TOM It don’t. Preacher. and I still have the righteous and guiding hand of the Lord on my side. but there’s only so much time for dreaming.

a pale hand gripped tightly to his wooden pistol. TOM DRAWS fast. .13. and two shots ring out in the night while the young ISAAC runs home.