THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN
EXT COLORADO TRAIN DEPOT DAY
A dispirited Sol boards a train. The Rock Island, his face a mask of indifference and swallowed emotions.
As the last PASSENGERS climb on, the CONDUCTOR signals the ENGINEER and The Rock Island jerks forward, chugging out of the station heading west, her name stenciled clearly on all her cars.
EXT COLORADO COUNTRY DAY
The Rock Island RUMBLES through picture postcard, Rocky Mountain countryside, white, thick smoke plumming from her engine.
INT CHARLIE’S TRUCK DAY
Charlie pulls up to the train depot at River Bend and parks across the street.
He takes a leather satchel from under the seat and hands it to Natty.
There’s food in here. And money
for a ticket.
Don’t tell me no. Just take it.
He hands her the satchel and she smiles back at him in thanks.
She leans in close and places a kiss on his badly disfigured cheek.
He blusters to hide his emotions.
Go on. Get out of here.
Natty and The Wolf climb out of the truck.
You watch out for her John Henry.
Charlie stares at Natty and the Wolf as they head across the street toward the depot. Then he throws the truck roughly in gear and pulls away, before his emotions get the best of him.
INT RIVER BEND DEPOT DAY
Natty walks into the small one-room train station, The Wolf walking anxiously by her side.
She approaches HECTOR, the man behind the ticket counter.
How much to Seattle?
Hector peers over the counter at her. His glasses slide down his nose.
On the Rock Island? 10 dollars
and 50 cents.
Natty sets the leather satchel on the counter and paws through it. She finds 11 one dollar bills, just enough.
She pushes the money at Hector. He stares hard at her.
He disappears behind a walled partition.
Natty moves to the map on the side wall and studies it while she waits.
She catches a glimpse of Hector peering around the partition, staring at her.
There’s something not right about this.
INT TRAIN DEPOT OFFICE DAY
Hector leans into the wall phone and talks softly,
It’s Hector at the depot. That
girl you’re looking for? I got
Hector nods his head excitedly as he listens to the other end of the phone conversation.
INT RIVER BEND DEPOT DAY
Hector returns to the ticket window with a cat-that-swallowed-the-canary grin on his face.
You’ll have to wait until…
The grin falls from Hector’s face. He searches the room anxiously. He leans far over the counter and looks to the right and left.
Hello girl? Girl?. . .
But it’s no use. The only thing left in the room besides Hector, is the leather satchel. Natty and The Wolf are gone.
EXT RIVER BEND DEPOT DAY
As Natty and The Wolf scurry away from the station, and disappear into the safety of the woods. The Rock Island pulls into the River Bend Depot and glides to a stop.
There’s a man sitting in one of the windows, a cap pulled low over his eyes. He turns and watches vacantly as the CONDUCT0R lowers the stairs for the few departing and arriving PASSENGERS.
He stares out the window through empty eyes as the ENGINEER TOOTS the WHISTLE and the train picks up speed again, pulling away from River Bend.
EXT HIGHWAY DAY
Natty walks along the edge of a deserted highway, the road stretching far off in either direction like an asphalt ribbon. The Wolf is at her side. Her cap is tucked into her back pocket and her hair hangs down.
Suddenly The Wolf turns and peers down the road. The hair on his neck stiffens.
It takes another moment before Natty sees the approaching truck. The Wolf SNARLS. Natty wraps her hand around the loose fur on his neck, then turns to face the truck and stick out her thumb.
The Ford truck rumbles toward them and slows to a stop. The driver, BUZZ SHORE, a round faced, bland looking traveling salesman leans out the window.
Need a lift?
The Wolf curls his lips and GROWLS. Natty manages to throw a smile at Buzz and to nod her head as she struggles to keep The Wolf under control. Buzz eyes The Wolf hard.
What about him?
He won’t be any trouble.
Buzz sends her a reluctant look then shrugs his shoulders.
END Part 21
Part 22 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.