THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN
EXT ROUNDHOUSE NIGHT
Natty can hear the crowd well before she reaches it. There are SHOUTS and SCREAMS above the overall DIN, like the noise of an angry crowd at a prizefight.
And mixed with the other noises are bone chilling GROWLS and SNARLS, like the sounds of wild dogs attacking each other in a fight to the death.
Natty stands on her tiptoes then bends to the ground, trying to see over the shoulders or through the legs of the NOISY, THICK CROWD 0F MEN in front of her.
But she can only see snatches, pieces…a dog’s lip curled back in a vicious snarl…a fierce, razor sharp fang…a pair of high, black boots and a long, leather whip that lashes out with a CRACK. Through another set of legs, she sees more pieces…claws ripping into fur…dark, thick blood spilling onto the ground.
Suddenly a fight breaks out in the crowd. The violence quickly erupts and spreads. . .fists SMASH into faces. . . bodies CRASH to the ground. Natty tries frantically to stay out of the way as the crowd surges back and forth.
One of the fighting animals, THE WOLF, breaks free. He leaps to a ledge high overhead and springs through the air, sailing over the crowd.
He lands almost on top of Natty. She GASPS in horror. He’s the most powerful, frightening creature she’s ever seen.
For an instant their eyes lock.
He glares at her with his ferocious, yellow eyes…eyes more wild and angry than anything Natty could imagine.
And then quickly he takes off again.
SNAKE, the evil looking man with the leather whip and the high, black boots, pushes through the crowd and chases after The Wolf. A handful of men follow Snake.
Natty scrambles to her feet and races after them.
INT ROUNDHOUSE NIGHT
Natty runs to the door of the roundhouse and pauses to catch her breath.
On the far side of this empty barn-like structure, Snake and his men have The Wolf cornered.
Snake strikes out with his whip, lashing The Wolf harder and harder, again and again and again. CRACK, CRACK, CRACK. The sound cuts into Natty like a knife.
The Wolf stares back at Snake with defiant, unbeaten eyes and a threatening SNARL. Then suddenly he takes off. He pushes through the men and streaks across the roundhouse.
He rushes to the door and disappears through it, brushing past Natty.
Snake and the others follow with angry SHOUTS. Their path takes them straight toward Natty.
Defiantly, she steps in their way and pulls the door closed, blocking their route, helping The Wolf escape.
She stares up at the evil Snake with a look of satisfaction…of right triumphing over wrong.
For an instant, Snake stares back at her, not moving. Then he lifts his arm in the air and swings it down. It lands with a THWACK against her cheek.
Natty falls to the ground. She tries to get up but can’t. Her body goes limp and her eyes close.
INT ROUNDHOUSE LATER THAT NIGHT
Natty blinks her eyes open. She rubs her hands over her temples. Her head throbs. She sits up slowly. It’s quiet in the Roundhouse now, empty. She drags herself to her feet and walks to the door.
EXT ROUNDHOUSE NIGHT
Natty stops at the doorway. There’s no sign now of the crowd in that was here earlier. The quiet seems strange, eerie.
She starts down the yard, toward the train cars waiting on the tracks.
EXT RAIL YARD NIGHT
Natty makes her way down the tracks, past the rows of waiting boxcars. The moonlight makes it almost like day, casting strange nightime shadows on the ground.
She stops outside the only car with a partially opened door and moves up to it quietly, cautiously.
INT BOXCAR NIGHT
Natty pulls herself into the boxcar and moves out of the shaft of moonlight, into the deep shadows of the corner.
She waits for her eyes to grow accustomed to the dark. It seems empty in here – except for her.
Then a quiet sound begins to fill the car. Natty listens fearfully. She feels her heart pounding rapidly.
The quiet sound builds in intensity until Natty finally recognizes it as the LOW, GRUMBLING, GROWL of The Wolf. She swallows hard, frightened.
Suddenly The Wolf LUNGES forward into the light, SNAPPING and SNARLING and baring his vicious fangs.
A startled, unconscious SCREAM escapes from Natty. She throws herself back into the corner and hugs the wall of the boxcar.
The Wolf glares at her. He’s poised like a spring, lips curled back, ready to strike if he has to, and to shred her to pieces with his massive, powerful jaws.
In the moonlight, Natty sees the wound in his shoulder. His matted fur is ripped back and his flesh is exposed. It’s raw, open. Blood oozes and drips down his leg. He must be weak from the loss of so much of it.
Slowly, step by step, her eyes never leaving The Wolf, Natty eases herself toward the door of the boxcar. The Wolf watches her threateningly, but allows her to inch away and slip outside.
The Wolf’s GROWL grows quieter and quieter and he almost disappears as he steps back into the shadows. Only his intense, yellow eyes are illuminated by a strip of moonlight filtering in through a crack in the wall.
Natty’s hand appears at the door of the boxcar, stretched high above her head. It shoves a tin of water and then a chunk of salami across the floor of the car, and then disappears.
EXT GAS STATION NIGHT
Sol stands at an outdoor pay phone at a back country gas station. There’s a large truck with canvass sides waiting at the pumps. It’s raining and Sol pulls up the collar of his jacket but the water still streams down his face. He looks anxiously at the truck and turns back to the phone, impatient but excited.
Come on…Come on…Sally?
Is that you? I can hardly hear
you…Where’s Natty? Did she
get the letter?…What?…I
can’t hear. Talk louder.
Sol is practically shouting into the phone.
The horn BEEPS on the truck. The driver leans out and gestures angrily.
Come on Gann. We’re waiting on you. Move it.
He BEEPS the horn again.
Sol signals the Driver to wait then turns all his attention back to the phone.
She wouldn’t just run away
Sally. What the hell happened?!
Sol’s face grows ashen. His jaw bone grows taut. The muscles stand out on his neck. There’s an obvious fury building inside him.
You’re lucky I’m not there
Sally. Because if I was I’d
tear you into little pieces and
personally feed you to the
river. …They damn well better
find her Sally. If they
don’t…Just make sure they do!
Sol slams the receiver down and stares furiously at the phone. The rain rolls down his face.
The horn BEEPS again and the truck starts to roll slowly out of the gas station.
Sol returns to the present and pulls himself together. He runs for the truck and a helping hand reaches out from the back and pulls him aboard.
END PART 9
Part 10 Monday, 1/21/12
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.