THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN
INT BATHROOM NIGHT
Natty moves to a small metal door halfway up the wall near the sinks.
She opens the door and pry at the casing inside which secures a locked wire mesh over an opening.
Natty jabs hard at the casing and the spoon breaks in two pieces.
Natty jabs again and the wooden casing pulls loose. With a smile of satisfaction, she takes it off and lifts out the wire mesh.
She hoists herself into the opening and turns back. Twinkie stands in the doorway, staring at her.
Hey. . .
Twinkie wants to protest, to talk Natty out of it, but instead she shrugs and manages to find a smile.
Twinkie hurries out of the bathroom as she hears the Matron approaching.
INT LAUNDRY ROOM NIGHT
Natty smiles at Twinkie then squeezes through the opening and slides down the laundry shoot.
Natty lands with a BANG at the bottom of the laundry chute.
She pulls herself up from the pile of o1d sheets and dirty towels, and searches the room. She sees a small window high up in the wall.
She turns a hamper on its end on top of a table and crawls up it to the window. She checks carefully outside then pushes open the window and squeezes through.
EXT YARD NIGHT
Natty moves stealthily across the yard, hugging the shadows, hiding from the guards at the front gate.
She races to the parking lot, crawls under a fence and streaks to the Ford coup she picked out from above.
Quickly she pulls open the rumble seat, slips inside and closes it again.
The clock tower CHIMES the hour and the door to the Staff Room pops open.
GUARDS and ATTENDANTS spill out of the room and cross the yard toward the parking 1ot.
Rita waves to a friend, then moves to her Ford coup.
Natty listens from her hiding place in the rumble seat as the car door opens and closes and the engine ROARS to life.
Rita slips the car into gear, drives to the gate and stops.
Natty tenses as she hears the Gate Guard, GE0RGE, approach the car, and walk around it, peering into the shadows.
Take me with you Rita.
Sure George. Hop in the back.
They laugh and George reaches for the latch of the rumble seat. Natty sucks in her breath and shuts her eyes tight.
But George changes his mind and lets go of the latch.
Wish I could.
He winks flirtatiously at Rita and waves her through the gate.
See you Rita. Tip one for me.
I’ll do that George.
Natty sneaks a peek from her hiding place in the rumble seat as the coup travels down the road, away from the Greely County Industrial School. She can see George, the Guard, checking the next car on its way out of the reformatory.
EXT CAFE NIGHT
Rita’s Ford pulls up to the OK CAFE, a well lit, country night spot on the end of town. Natty listens from her perch in the rumble seat as Rita parks, puts on lipstick and enters the cafe with its noisy HONKY TONK MUSIC.
Natty waits until the closing of the cafe door muffles the sound of the music, then carefully opens the rumble seat and hops out.
She pulls her cap low over her eyes, approaches a COUPLE leaving the cafe and asks them a question. The man points down the road.
Natty nods her thanks and hurries off.
EXT CHARLIE’S NIGHT
Natty crawls on her belly through the bushes and trees which surround an old log cabin with a sloping, sod roof. The place seems dark, except for a kerosene lamp flickering inside, and frightening, almost like a haunted house.
Natty gathers her courage and moves stealthily forward, toward the large, old barn in back with the sign painted on its side. . .CHARLIE LINFIELD – BLACKSMITH.
INT BARN NIGHT
Natty slips inside the barn and hides in the shadows. She looks around with wide eyes. There are tools hanging from the beams and rafters…hammers, tongs, anvils… exotic, evil looking implements.
And there’s Charlie Linfield standing at the far end, working at a huge forge, a towering furnace that casts hard, dark shadows on the ground.
Again and again he raises a thick metal hammer and SMASHES it down on a red hot piece of metal. Sparks fly and metal CLANGS against metal with each blow.
Natty swallows hard. She crouches low and sneaks across the barn to Charlie’s truck.
She peers anxiously into the wooden cage that held The Wolf, but nothing’s there, only a dark, empty space.
Her hand closes around a metal shovel. She cocks it back over her shoulder. There’s fire in her eyes and a hardness in her voice as she turns to face the hulking, shadowy figure of Charlie Linfield.
She SCREAMS through the barn.
Where is he?!
Charlie turns. He points a menacing, red-hot poker straight at Natty and moves toward her, the earth trembling under his step.
He walks into a shaft of moonlight and Natty GASPS. She sucks in a deep, sharp breath and stares in disbelief and fear.
Charlie Linfield’s face is a wretched mass of scar tissue. The right side is pulled back in a horrible, frozen grimace.
His voice booms out like a cannon.
Who are you?
Charlie stares down at her, his look filled with raw power. Natty’s knees shake, but she won’t yield. She sets her jaw.
Where’s the Wolf?
Charlie stares hard at Natty, delving deep inside her, then he turns and lumbers across the barn.
Natty races across the barn after Charlie, the shovel clutched tightly in her hand like a weapon.
EXT CHARLIE’S NIGHT
Natty trails after Charlie who moves toward the cabin.
She whispers a hoarse, angry threat as he steps onto the porch.
If you’ve done anything to
him. . .
Charlie stares at Natty, then pulls open the cabin door.
The Wolf bounds out. He leaps across the porch and heads straight for Natty.
She drops the shovel and sinks to her knees, burying her head and her wide, surprised, thankful smile in the fur around The Wolf’s neck.
END Part 19
Part 20 Monday. (Hopefully, maybe Tuesday!)
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.