THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN
INT. ROOMING HOUSE LATER THAT NIGHT
Natty sits cross legged on the lower edge of a bunk bed in a sad and tired room. Magazine pictures of flagpole sitters and marathon dancers and President Roosevelt are taped to the torn and faded wall paper. There are cracks in the paint on the ceiling and a yellow stain where the water line has leaked into the wall. There’s a broken chair in the corner and a sorry old dresser with the knobs missing.
Sol dabs a wet towel delicately at the swollen places on Natty’s face. She winces and grimaces but fights back the tears.
Want to talk about it?
Natty shrugs and stares down at the floor. He nods and leans back to examine her scrapes.
I think you’ll live.
He carries the towel to the sink and rinses it. The water pipes MOAN.
Dad?…What’s a Commie?
Is that what you were fighting
Frankie says you’ll go to Russia
because you’re a Commie. Are you?
Going to Russia?
You know what I mean. Are you?
When your Mom was a girl, she
marched the streets to get
the vote. She used to say a
person person wasn’t any good
at all if they wouldn’t stand
up for what they believed.
I’m no Red. I believe in
America. I’m just standing up
You rea11y miss her, huh?
Becky? Yeah. Don’t you?
She was a lot like you. Nothing
could get her down.
Things would be different if she
was still here, huh?
Are you sorry you got stuck with
Sol looks at Natty, realizing nothing could be farther from the truth. She’s the only thing that keeps him going. He teases her.
Sorriest thing that ever
He tousles the top of her head jokingly and they laugh together, enjoying each other, until Natty remembers the right cross Frankie landed under her eye and she winces from the soreness. Sol continues laughing.
Next time don’t drop your left.
Natty nods and tries a smaller, less painful grin.
Did you practice?
Come on Dad. I don’t have to…
Sure you do. Otherwise you’ll
feel real stupid when we have
picket fence and a cocker
spaniel that can play circles
Natty rolls her eyes in disbelief.
Now go on. And no back talk.
Natty climbs up to the top bunk and flops open a tattered piano book. Reluctantly she begins to move her fingers across the keyboard printed on the page, imitating a person practicing their scales.
Sol crawls into his own bunk on the bottom, reaches under the bed and pulls out his box of important papers. He searches under the documents and letters for his money stash…all 2 dollars and 15 cents of it.
He anxiously turns the money over in his hand, worry filling his face.
Natty stops her silent practicing and spies down on Sol. Without lifting his eyes, Sol catches her.
Keep practicing, young lady.
Natty’s rolls her eyes again and returns to her piano book, a smile on her face. You can just never put one over on Sol.
INT. ROOMING HOUSE LOBBY MORNING
Sol and Natty walk down the stairs of the St. Ritz Rooming House. The St. Ritz is a place of faded glory come on hard times. The walls are dark from years of neglect and the carpeting threadbare. There’s not much left of what it used to be.
SALLY WAND sits behind the reception desk and greets them as approach.
Sally runs the place, more or less. Mostly she reads greasy magazines, listens to her radio and remembers the good old days. She’s a lot like the St. Ritz actually, a former beauty come on hard times, suffering from personal abuse and years of neglect.
She ritualistically hands Sol the classified section of the newspaper as he walks by the desk. He reads through it as he and Natty cross the lobby.
Sally calls after him.
Hey Sol. Did ya hear about the
golfer? It come on the radio.
Lightning struck his metal
shoes. Killed him. Shocking,
Sally’s LAUGH comes up like a roar out of nowhere and seems to shake the walls. She repeats the punchline to herself and laughs even harder.
Natty stares at Sally and grimaces. Sally catches Natty’s look of contempt, and her smile falls.
Hey Sol, shouldn’t that kid be
It’s summertime Sally. No
school in summer.
0h yeah. . .
Sol finishes the classifieds and drops the newspaper on the front table, the same as he does every day, then pushes through the door, Natty right behind him.
Sally watches them go and repeats the punch line of her joke, laughing again, amused at herself.
END PART 2
Monday, 11/29/ Part 3
A script analysis of her favorite childhood novel – written as a USC class assignment – led Jeanne Rosenberg to her first Hollywood writing assignment on The Black Stallion. Switching from documentary filmmaker to narrative screenwriter, Jeanne studied her craft while working as a script supervisor on numerous films before completing her first original screenplay, The Journey of Natty Gann. She has been writing as well as producing and directing ever since. In addition, Jeanne has taught graduate screenwriting at USC and National University.