Redemption – Script Sample
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EXT. BOONE CREEK, MISSOURI – NIGHT
A foggy clearing in the trees. A ghostly fire CRACKLES and blazes against the night sky – a cabin ablaze.
Maybe, just maybe, SCREAMS can be heard from inside.
Maybe, just maybe, a baby CRYING.
And as the roof collapses and sparks fly into the foggy heavens a seventeen-year-old boy throws back his head and screams in agony–
JOHN WESLEY BRIDGES (O.S.)
EXT. WEST TEXAS – NIGHT
BOONE COULTER – a tortured man tired of living but too skilled a fighter to die – jerks up from his bedroll, shaking, sweating.
He clutches his stomach and rolls to his side. He clenches his eyes closed, and maybe, just maybe, we hear the faint CRACKLING of fire and SCREAMS.
INT. DORALEE’S ROOM – NIGHT
A young whore and a man asleep.
The man, SHERIFF CLAYTON DOUGHERTY, bolts upright. He’s a large, handsome man beginning to deteriorate from liquor and hard living.
Dougherty stares into the night.
And faintly … CRACKLE. … SCREAM.
EXT. WEST TEXAS – DAWN
INT. ELIZABETH’S BEDROOM – DAY
ELIZABETH DOUGHERTY, a Victorian woman wearing a high-necked nightgown tosses restlessly in bed. The sheets twist around her and her long blond hair tangles around her face and shoulders.
A rooster CROWS.
Elizabeth sits at the edge of the bed, chafing her arms.
A dog BARKS outside.
She rummages through her dressing table drawer and finds a small, brown glass bottle. She opens it, attempts with shaking hands to pour it into a glass. The bottle is empty. Desperately, she licks the rim.
The bottle falls to the tabletop. Trembling, she gropes through the drawer. Finally, she braces herself against the table and takes a deep, shuddering breath.
She pulls a photograph from the drawer, a picture of a handsome man. She touches his face.
The dog outside BARKS wildly, then YELPS in pain.
She panics, casts a desperate glance out the window.
The yelp fades into a pitiful HOWL then a WHIMPER.
Frantic, she thrusts the photograph and the bottle into the drawer and slams it shut.
She hovers by the door, listening.
She opens the door to findan empty hallway.
EXT. REDEMPTION, TEXAS – STREET – DAY
A dusty town. No building is over a few years old but there’s little paint or effort to maintain civic pride.
DEPUTY MICAH BRIDGES, eighteen years old and all angles and elbows, rides up, leading a small pack horse with Boone Coulter (the sick guy on the bedroll) slung across its back. His wrists and ankles are bound; his head hangs limply.
A SIX-YEAR-OLD BOY runs into the road ahead of him and points.
Ma! Micah killed somebody!
Coulter moves. The boy yelps. His MOTHER grabs him.
TWO IDLERS watch from the doorway of the saloon.
Can’t you leave a poor fella alone,
let him sleep off his drunk in private?
Micah dismounts, agitated.
Can’t handle a drunk by yerself?
Hell, no. If the feller weren’t drunk and disabled,
Micah couldn’t catch him by hisself.
INT. DORALEE’S ROOM – NIGHT
The whore and the man – still asleep.
The whore, DORALEE – blond, eighteen, dirty – sits up in bed when she hears HOOFBEATS below. She flips back the curtain and peers down on the street.
Dougherty grabs her arm.
What’s going on?
Micah brung somebody in.
What the hell …
He raises up to look out the window.
Who the hell’d he find to arrest?
EXT. REDEMPTION, TEXAS STREET – DAY
Micah darts anxious glances at Coulter as he ties the horses up at the jail across from the saloon.
The men in the saloon doorway fall aside as Dougherty emerges, dressed but disheveled.
I caught me an outlaw.
Who is it?
Dougherty grabs a fistful of Coulter’s hair and yanks his head up to look.
Dougherty steps back, stunned.
Coulter looks like hell, but is conscious.
Sheeyit! Micah, you couldn’t catch Boone Coulter
if he rode up and turned hisself in.
I reckon Micah’s the one’s drunk.
More men come pouring out of the saloon, followed by Doralee, buttoning her bodice.
Dougherty grabs Coulter and drags him off the horse.
Coulter lands on the ground in a heap, but manages to pull to a sitting position, his expression sending lethal messages he’s obviously unable to carry through. The crowd from the saloon presses forward.
What makes you so sure he’s Coulter?
He yanks his hat off his head and shows an ugly gash.
See what that wildass horse of his did to me?
They’re impressed. And beginning to take him a little seriously – especially Doralee – but not Dougherty, who can’t take his eyes off Coulter, nor Coulter him.
Something’s going on here, something nobody else notices.
Doralee dabs a bandanna at the oozing gash on Micah’s head. He tries to ignore her.
Somebody needs to stitch that up.
It was Coulter’s horse, I tell you –
black, with scars all over its haunches.
I tried to bring it in, too, but after it
did this to me, it took off like wild fire.
Everybody drops back, a little concerned. Even bound, Coulter strikes fear in them.
How the hell did you catch him?
I found him hunkered over a rock, takin’ a shit – sick as a dog.
NEW MALE VOICE:
Whattid he do when he seed ya’?
Micah thinks, scratches his nose, shrugs.
He just shat.
The crowd laughs. Micah spins and faces Dougherty.
Somebody’s gotta wire Fort Davis, Sheriff.
Let ’em know I got Coulter, so’s I can get my reward.
At the word “reward,” Doralee perks up.
First you’ve gotta get him behind bars, Micah.
Micah cuts the ropes at Coulter’s ankles, then pulls his gun and holds the barrel against Coulter’s neck.
Listen here, mister. Get up nice and easy, no funny business.
Coulter staggers to his feet and glares not at Micah, but straight into Dougherty’s insolent gaze.
INT. JAIL – DAY
The cell door CLANGS shut.
Coulter slumps against the wall at the front of the cell, his hands still bound.
Well, well, John Wesley. I always wondered what happened to you.
Coulter throws his head back at that name.
Who’s John Wesley?
Dougherty whirls to find Micah right behind him. He jerks his head toward the front door.
Get out of here. Get something to eat.
Micah starts to leave.
I’m proud of you, boy. You’ve done a man’s work today.
Thank you, Sheriff.
He smiles shyly and leaves.
Dougherty turns back to the cell. Coulter can barely force the words out, but his venom gives them strength –
John Wesley Bridges died that night at Boone Creek.
You’d best remember that.
EXT. STREET IN FRONT OF HOTEL – DAY
A loud CLOP-CLOPPING announces the approach of a buggy.
EXT. GENERAL STORE – DAY
The buggy is parallel to the plank sidewalk. Elizabeth climbs down from the buggy.
INT. GENERAL STORE – DAY
Elizabeth stands at the counter, dabbing her face with her handkerchief. MRS. JACKSON is assisting her.
About the –
Female remedy, Miz Dougherty.
We’re out of Dr. Kilmer’s Female Tonic.
If it comes in on next week’s stage…
Next week? I can’t wait that long.
Mrs. Jackson’s voice drops lower, more sympathetic.
I have something stronger. Some laudanum?
She offers a small vial for Elizabeth’s approval.
Mind you, the opium’s stronger than what you’re used to.
This isn’t an elixir. You only need five drops in a cup of water, if that.
I .. I think I’ll keep it with me.
Elizabeth wraps the bottle in her handkerchief and tucks it into her drawstring purse. Mrs. Jackson gathers her purchases – French soaps and embroidery thread – and wraps them in brown paper.
Isn’t that something about Micah?
Of all people – bringing in that killer.
Hard to believe isn’t it?
Is Micah all right?
The BELL JANGLES, announcing a customer. Mrs. Jackson huffs up as DORALEE enters and surveys the interior of the store with a sneer. She saunters to the counter.
I hope I’m not interruptin’ anything.
You know better than to come in here with decent folks,
Doralee. Go on, git out of …
Doralee and Mrs. Jackson both turn to stare at Elizabeth. Elizabeth looks away, embarrassed.
Please. Take care of your customer.
I’ll only be a minute, Miz Dougherty.
Scowling at Doralee, she bustles through the storeroom door.
Elizabeth studies Doralee.
Doralee fixes her kohl-lined eyes on Elizabeth, and smirks.
Well, now. I sure have heard a lot about you.
All true, too, I’ll wager.
Doralee begins to laugh.
You poor thing.
I – I beg your pardon?
You know exactly what I’m sayin.
You wanta please a man, maybe you
need to try what I’m tryin, and it sure ain’t soap.
You gotta be what a man wants you to be,
and that ain’t squeaky clean and uppity.
Elizabeth slowly arches her eyebrows.
Then it’s no wonder you please him so well.
I only have to please him a few hours at a time,
and only until Ifind a way out of this hell hole.
Please him or not, you’re stuck with him
for the rest of your days.
They exchange a long look.
Mrs. Jackson comes out from the storeroom with a brown paper-wrapped package.
I found your henna, and your other things,
Doralee. Now get out of here.
Doralee begins to retrieve a few coins from her pocketbook. She spills the contents on the floor.
Elizabeth hesitates, but after a moment, she drops to the floor with Doralee. Flustered, Doralee tries to scoop up her belongings.
You’ve missed some.
Doralee looks suspicious, but Elizabeth seems sincere as she presses the last coin into Doralee’s palm.
Elizabeth clutches her own pocketbook desperately to her body as she stands. She sways, grabs the counter.
Are you all right, ma’am?
I really must go.
She is halfway to the door when Ms. Jackson catches up, gives her the parcel.
Don’t forget your toiletries.
I’ll put them all on the sheriff’s bill.
Yes. Please. Thank you.
She stops, looking back at Doralee who still clutches her handful of change.
Put hers on his bill, too.
It’s his money any way you look at it.
The door slams behind her as Mrs. Jackson gasps.
EXT. GENERAL STORE – DAY
Elizabeth climbs into the buggy, trembling. She pulls away from the sidewalk, urging the horse faster.
Doralee bursts out of the store. Mrs. Jackson follows.
I don’t take charity offa nobody!
You hear me? Nobody!
She hurls her package. It hits the back of Elizabeth’s buggy and explodes.
French soaps and embroidery threads scatter in the dirt.
Doralee kicks more dirt over them, and bursts out laughing.
Well, Miz Jackson, you’d better put my shit
on the sheriff’s bill after all, cause I sure
as hell don’t give to charity, either!
But she picks up one of the soaps, sniffs it, and shoves it in her blouse. She flounces off.
EXT. ROAD OUTSIDE OF TOWN – DAY
Sweating, trembling, Elizabeth reins in the horses.
She fumbles with her purse until she finds the opium, then taps two drops into her mouth.
She grips the buggy seat and shudders.
INT. JAIL – NIGHT
Coulter slumps against the wall, hiseyes closed.
I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do with you.
Dougherty sweeps his hand across the desk and sends everything flying.
At that, Coulter opens his eyes and looks up at him. Coulter takes a pained breath. Each word is an effort.
I could have killed you years ago.
Brave words from behind bars.
Coulter raises hisbound hands and tries to flex them. When he looks back at Dougherty, his gaze is steady.
Brave enough to give everybody who comes
after me a fair fight, Dougherty. You wanta kill me –
let me out, say I tried to escape …
or are you afraid I will?
Dougherty walks slowly, warily to his desk and sinks into the chair. He steeples his fingers over the knife on the desk, hunches forward.
I don’t dare let you go to trial, cause …
well, we both know why, don’t we, John Wesley?
Don’t like me to use that name, do you?
Wouldn’t your daddy love thumping
his Bible over your sins? My, my,
how you’ve changed.
More than you think or you’d be dead already.
Coulter stares up at Dougherty.
Time finished what you started.
Dougherty picks up his knife, runs his thumb lovingly down the edge.
So are you. As soon as I figure out how to do it.
Their eyes meet in a silent duel. Coulter takes in a shuddering breath. His lips curl with the hint of a sneer and quietly, his voice the rustle of a rattlesnake ….
Why don’t you just burn down the jail…
with me in it?
We both know you’re good at that.
Dougherty flings his knife on the desk and hurtles across the jail. He unlocks the cell door and hauls Coulter to his feet.
I’m pretty damned good at this,
too, you son-of-a-bitch.
He lets loose with his fist – Coulter’s head pops back. Dougherty steps back as Coulter collapses on the floor.
Sunlight floods the room as the jail door opens. Micah hastily shuts the door behind him.
What’s happenin’, sheriff?
Dougherty backs out of the cell and SLAMS the cell door shut, fighting for control. Scowling, he averts his eyes from Micah.
Son-of-a-bitch insulted me.
Micah stands at the cell, peering in worriedly at Coulter’s limp body. Dougherty opens the jail door and leans against the jamb, heaving in great gulps of air.
I don’t want anybody in here.
Nobody talks to him, understand?
Dougherty slams out of the jail.
Micah closes the door and locks it. He prods Coulter through the bars with the toe of his boot.
You okay in there, mister?
Coulter groans. Micah takes his knife and, since the outlaw’s hands are near the bars, slices the rope.
Satisfied, Micah fetches a mug of coffee from the stove and sinks into Dougherty’s chair, propping his boots on the desk.
Must have been some derned insult.
INT. ELIZABETH’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Elizabeth taps three drops of opium into a small glass of water.
She stands at the window, sipping, and stares into the night, her hair loose and tangled. She opens a button at her neck, pulls a gold cross from within her nightgown, slides it back and forth, back and forth. A tear rolls down her cheek.
INT. SALOON – NIGHT
Dougherty pushes through the doors. SEVERAL MEN are at the makeshift bar, a long varnished plank stretched over several whiskey barrels. The BARTENDER sees Dougherty and hurriedly signals through a torn curtain.
Dougherty rounds the bar to wait by the curtain. Doralee emerges. Dougherty grabs her arm and yanks her to him.
Well, hello, sugar.
He shoves her back through the curtain.
INT. SALOON STAIRCASE – CONTINUOUS
Dougherty pushes Doralee up the narrow staircase. At the top, three crude doors are closed. He shoulders open the last one.
INT. DORALEE’S ROOM – CONTINUOUS
Dougherty thrusts Doralee inside, slams the door. She falls back on her elbows on the bed, and grins.
I figgered you’d be by to see me.
He bends over her and closes his hand around her throat. A thrill of nervousness flickers across her face. She closes her hand lightly over his and moves it to her breast.
I know just what you need.
He pulls his hand away.
What the hell happened at Jackson’s Store?
She slinks to her feet and sneers.
Don’t blame it on me –
it was that bitch wife of yours who –
You talked to my wife?
You dared approach my wife in public?
He raises his hand tostrike her.
The sound of LOUD LAUGHTER comes from downstairs. Dougherty looks from Doralee to the door.
He lowers his hand. The expression in his eyes is cold, deadly. Doralee oozes up to him, kisses his chin. Strokes the hair away from his eyes. He catches her hands.
It better not happen again, understand?
You don’t talk to my wife again. Ever.
Her face twists and she jerks away from him.
He pulls two silver dollars out of his pocket and tucks them into her bodice – one over each nipple. She smiles.
If you want more, make me happy.
He jerks her face up to his as he gropes her body with his other hand. She whimpers into his mouth, then bites his lower lip, drawing blood.
You son-of-a-bitch – I always make you happy.
Their mouths fuse in a hot kiss.
INT. ELIZABETH’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Elizabeth sits at her dressing table, brushing her hair. She’s in a dressing gown. Her brush strokes are long, languid, drugged. Before her are the empty water glass and the photo.
A door SLAMS downstairs. As FOOTSTEPS climb the stairs, she stumbles to close her bedroom door – Dougherty’s hand stops the door from closing. He shoves the door open. She falls back. He looms over her, leans against the doorjamb.
Don’t know why you bother to lock the door.
You could prance nekkid down the hall,
and I wouldn’t come after you.
You’ve been drinking.
And why the hell not? I’m married
to a dried up spinster who —
She slaps him – hard – jerks her hand away, horrified. She backs up a step.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have –
Clayton, I’ve decided to leave you.
His expression turns to stone.
I refuse to live this way any more.
What do you mean – this way?
I built you this goddamn house!
She paces away from him nervously.
It’s not the house – it’s not even your
philandering, it’s, it’s –
She whirls to face him, pleading.
It’s this life! I can’t survive in this place!
You think I’m going to let you leave?
After I took pity on you, married you, s
et you up in the finest house anybody in
these parts has ever seen –
and you think I’m going to let you leave?
For God’s sake, why do you care?
He grabs her face with both hands and squeezes, shoves her against the wall.
How do you think you’ll leave?
You think you can just step on that mail stage
to Marfa and I won’t haul you back off?
You think there’s a lawman in Texas
who won’t send you back to me?
She struggles. He grabs her necklace and pulls it tighter, tighter, until it snaps. The cross flies loose and hits the floor.
Micah gave that to me!
Just like Micah to give a whore’s necklace to a –
a dried up spinster bitch who cries over a dead man
because you don’t know what to do with a live one.
Then, drawing from deep inside –
A dead man – your brother – who could turn a
dried-up spinster into a woman on fire.
He explodes. Grabs a fistful of her hair and slams her head against the wall. She falls to the floor. Scrambles to the door.
He grabs the back of her dressing gown – the fabric sash rips loose – he yanks her to her feet – wraps the sash around her neck – pulls tighter – tighter —
Choking, gasping, she claws at his face, beats at his shoulders with herfists – as a last, desperate effort gropes wildly until her left hand grabs an oil lamp on the dressing table –
She smashes it against the side of his head.
Dougherty falls back, howling with pain, as kerosene runs down his face, burning into the jagged cuts.
Elizabeth clutches her throat, coughing, crying, as she scrambles to the door.
Dougherty roars and takes after her.
INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT
She flies down the hall, sobbing – runs faster, but he’s gaining on her –
She’s almost to the stairs, when–
He reaches out one bloody hand and yanks the sash around her neck –
She falls backward, throws herself at his feet in a clumsy tackle.
He flies forward, over her, down the stairs – CRASH! BOOM! -until he hits bottom – SILENCE.
Trembling, Elizabeth crouches at the top of the stairs and listens … fearfully creeps down, down, until she can see his body in the darkness –
His badge, glinting in the moonlight, rising, falling steadily.
INT. JAIL – NIGHT
Coulter sleeps in his cell. Micah dips several spoons of brown sugar into his coffee mug. A soft KNOCK comes at the door. He snaps to attention and crosses to the door.
Who is it?
It’s me, darlin, Doralee.
He cracks the door open.
The yellow lamplight pours out on Doralee and she smiles, clutching her shawl around her shoulders.
Sheriff ain’t here.
I ain’t lookin’ for the sheriff.
I’m lookin’ for you.
He stares her down. She plunges blithely on.
I just couldn’t sleep, it’s so hot tonight.
My nightgown is just plumb stickin’ to me…
She lets her shawl fall open to reveal a thin, clingy nightgown. After a moment, he steps outside with her, closing the door behind him.
INT. ELIZABETH’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Dressed, Elizabeth frantically packs items into her carpetbag – the photo from her dressing table, a leatherbound book, the parcel from Jackson’s. She sees the cross glinting in the moonlight on the floor.
She fumbles through a drawer until she finds a ribbon, then ties the cross around her neck. And is almost out the door when she remembers –
Grabs the opium and stuffs it into her pocketbook.
EXT. JAIL – NIGHT
Doralee plucks at the low neck of her gown.
Is Boone Coulter really in there?
What do you want?
I’m so proud of you, Micah.
She presses up against him and rests her cheek against his chest, and he’s having trouble standing still, not knowing where to put his hands, or where not to.
Is it true, you’re gonna get a thousand dollars?
Sweet temptation is in his arms and he can hardly breathe.
Two thousand dollars! Do you realize what
you could do, what we could do with
two thousand dollars?
I could make you happy, I swear
I could. There’s nuthin for either of us here.
But – but Doralee –
You’re a whore!
She slugs him – hard.
He grabs his shoulder.
I – I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.
How could I ever have expected you
to understand? You’ve always had it so easy.
She runs off, crying.
INT. ELIZABETH’S KITCHEN – NIGHT
Elizabeth flings more things into her carpet bag – a loaf of bread, a few tins of food, a rind of bacon wrapped in cloth.
INT. STAIRCASE – NIGHT
She stands above Dougherty’s body. She steels herself and reaches across him and takes the keys from his belt.
She grabs her cloak from the hall tree and doesn’t look back.
EXT. JAIL – NIGHT – A LITTLE LATER
From the shadows between the buildings, Elizabeth steps hesitantly into the street, then rushes to the jail.
Her cloak covers her head, and is fastened securely at her chin, covering her throat.
She edges toward the window and looks in – Micah is sitting at the desk, drinking coffee, studying a piece of paper with his back to her. She clenches her fists in frustration.
INT. JAIL – NIGHT
Micah pulls out a battered old pocket watch and checks the time – 2:00. He stands, stretches, straps on his gun. He shoves his hat on his head and unlocks the door.
He glances back at the cell. Coulter’s hat covers his face. Micah exits.
EXT. JAIL – NIGHT
Micah carefully locks the door, tests it, looks in the window – finally hurries down the plank sidewalk to the next building.
From the shadows, Elizabeth watches him test the next door, look around, keep going. When he disappears between buildings, she rushes to the jail door, key in hand, and fumbles with the lock.
INT. DORALEE’S ROOM – NIGHT
Doralee sits alone in her bed, drinking whiskey, staring sadly up at the moon. She picks up the bar of soap and sniffs it longingly.
INT. JAIL – NIGHT
Elizabeth closes the door and falls against it with a trembling sigh –
And sees Coulter stretched out on a pallet in the cell.
Eyes trained on him, she crosses to the desk and tries one of the keys in the desk drawer. It doesn’t fit.
She glances up at Coulter; he hasn’t moved. She fumbles with more keys until she gets the drawer open.
She reaches inside and pulls out a gun, breaks it open. It’s loaded. She slips it into her cloak.
She probes in the drawer again, this time finding the cashbox. She unlocks it, opens it – a few coins.
Desperate, she opens and shuts drawers – and finally covers her face with her hands.
Oh, Lord, what am I going to do?
Suddenly, she lowers her hands. She slams a drawer. He doesn’t move. She looks at the paper on the desk – Coulter’s wanted poster. She takes it to the cell.
Mr. Coulter. I know you’re awake.
He pulls the hat away from his face and rises slowly, his eyes clear.
You have killed seven men?
He doesn’t speak.
Two of them lawmen?
And, until today, you were never caught.
She lowers the poster and looks straight into his eyes. He stares back at her.
I have the key to your cell.
I’ll release you if you agree to my terms.
Swallowing hard, she raises her chin a notch.
I’m going with you.