Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 177: “Is this a dagger which I see before me?”

I’m missing delinquency and wrong doing, not in my own life, thank God, but on the page, on my trusty laptop’s screen, the “dagger of the mind” that Macbeth spoke of.

It’s TIME for some CRIME.

One hundred and seventy-seven days ago, I began this blog with ambitions of writing a screenplay over the six months, that began back then, arriving at my destination (next Thursday) with 110 pages complete and done, of a script called Jerusalem. Here’s my opening gambit of that story:

In the forests of a wintery New South Wales, a corrupt detective - DRAKE- unable to
see his way back to a decent life, sets out into the Barrington Tops National Park, with
his dog (his lifelong companion), a shotgun, two cartridges and a suicide note safety-
pinned to his coat for easy identification. Intending to kill his dog and then himself, the
dog bolts after a paddymelon, which leads to a two hour chase deep into the forest,
where the man finds his dog impaled and in pain. As he loads the shotgun with the cartridges, the paddymelon loiters nearby in the trees, refusing to move despite
the shooing-away of Drake. His conscience won’t allow him to kill a defenceless creature under the watchful gaze of another, Drake is given the smallest window of sanity and
shoots off the two shotgun cartridges into the air; the paddymelon is then happy to
leave. Drake sets about freeing his injured dog. The animal is caught on a piece of metal
in the undergrowth and as the ex-cop peels back the tangled scrub to free him, so the fuselage and wreckage of a light aircraft is revealed. Even his detective’s sensibility is unable to make sense of the human remains left in the carnage. He snaps off a couple
of quick pictures of the wreck and it’s number on his mobile phone’s camera and, picking
up his dog, begins the long struggle back out of the forest to his car.

The ex-cop wakes the town’s vet, for help with the dog, and then reports the wreckage discovery to the police station in the local one-horse town. There is just one duty-sergeant on, dealing with the a drug-affected youth. The index number of this plane registers:
this is a plane that infamously disappeared in this wilderness, near this town, over twenty years ago, they both know that. The duty officer officer also knows who Drake is: the
bent detective responsible for another young cop’s death, the detective who was ushered
out of the force in disgrace. Drake points out that the skeletal reamins in the aircraft indicate
only one person, when in fact, two men went missing in the crash. Treated like a pariah, his suppositions seemingly of no interest to the sergeant, Drake is told to leave his phone with
the photo’s, to be downloaded when someone more techno-savvy comes on duty.

On returning the next day to check on the progress of their follow-up enquiries and
collect his phone, Drake is met with blank stares and told that they have no record of
his report nor evidence of the written statement he made and that the sergeant who
had been on duty the night before is now on long-term leave, uncontactable, abroad;
it’s as though Drake never came to the police station. But Drake remembers that there
was a third person in the police station, a youth, who could verify his story.

Hours later making his own enquiries to find the drug-afflicted young man, Drake learns
of a body that’s washed up in the run-off channel of the local dam; it’s that of adolescent,
the one other person who could vouch for what took place the night before.

And so I have the rough beginning of a story from the film super-genre that is CRIME. My story is one of the twelve sub-genres of crime, the DETECTIVE story. This short opening stanza gives me a protagonist of a ex-cop, corrupt and kicked off the force, a man also at the bottom of his life, on the brink of looking for a way out, maybe a candidate for redemption. He’s in a small town where everyone knows who is is and is loathed for what he’s done.

My protagonist’s world is then knocked out of balance: he discovers a crime scene that doesn’t add up, with a body count that makes no sense and reports it; the report and any evidence of him lodging it vanish into thin air and the one person who could witness this turns up dead. My protagonist suspects this is murder and, in the words of one of the witches from Macbeth:

“By the pricking of my thumbs
Something wicked this way comes.”

Day #177 Tip: “What’s ‘appened before, may ‘appen again”
I have the feeling that I’ve shared that opening of Jerusalem with you before, back in the early days of this Blog, which is symptomatic, to me, of the risk that I am running into the disease or repetition; I’m running out of things to say, this time around.

But there’s something actually nice about that and hence I’ve quoted the inimitable Bert (from Mary Poppins) to title today’s tip. You see, early on in the adventures at Cherry Tree Lane, Bert is practicing is one of his crafts - as a pavement artist (a screever[sic]) - when Mary Poppins arrives and Bert predicts what has gone before and what might be to come; it’s all very mysterious and yet exciting.

There’s whispers on the wind, for me too, that I might be heading back into the detective land of a project that I’ve been on for six years now, and, should that come to pass, then the whirligig of time will have swung around once again.

When I get to the end of six or seven months on a screenplay, almost as soon as I “put the pen down” on one story, I must pick it up on another, hence why I wanted to remind myself of Jerusalem, of where this Blog started, as I near it’s destination. I’m not sure that I’m making sense today, I’ll endeavour to do better tomorrow.

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