Monday, December 31, 2012

Coming Back to Leave

When I first had my book published, in 2011, it was the realization of a long held dream.  I had always wanted to write, but never felt like it would come to be something that I could actually accomplish.  Due to a total upset in how I thought my life was to play out, I found myself back in North Carolina, and happened upon a group called "Writers in Motion" which sought to foster the creativity of those who WANTED to write.  Belinda Guyton, the leader of this group, was always enthusiastic, always ready to guide us to make the dream come true for ourselves.  (Her first book, "I Shall Live and Not Die" is a personal story about her own life.)  I recalled having created a "vision board" at one time and on it was "I am a published author" and "I am a screenwriter" as well as some other goals/dreams.  After having my book published, I reaffirmed my intention to write a screenplay, and through circumstances, met a film-maker who challenged me to write a script for him to review.  He gave me just a few guidelines and elements that we was working with, and I was free to come up with the crux of the story.  Long story short, he and his team liked what I had written and with a few of his own changes, he actually filmed the story.  As ecstatic as I was to be part of something else that had actually come to fruition, I was blown away by the fact that the short, "Canonize Me" was also selected to be in the Court M├ętrage (Short Film Showcase) for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.  To me this was a major accomplishment.  After that, I was challenged again to write another short, and the only parameters given me was that it should be a one-actor piece and be about 10 minutes long.  One of the stories I had begun writing years earlier came back to me, and I challenged myself to condense the emotion of it into these parameters.  The team again liked what I had written and it is now in production.

I am so energized by the past two years in particular that I have formed a production company, "Bits and Peaces Productions, LLC" to further my intention of continuing to write, and to write screenplays, and someday SOON to have my own stories brought to a larger audience.  What I wanted to do with this blog entry is actually share the most recent script I had written for you to read.  I am currently working on a spec script which is a comedy, but after that I will expand this script into a full story.  I welcome any questions and feedback.  Let me know what you think.  And thank you for taking the time to read it.  (note:  the working title has changed a few times, and currently I am referring to this work as "Coming Back To Leave.")

Coming Back to Leave
(introductory short)
©2012 Brian Todd Barnette

Interior - small bungalow: morning: present day

fade IN

telephone ringing




interior - same house - kitchen - continuous.

Shift focus to notice man in mid 30's drinking coffee at  wooden table in a modest kitchen. He gets up and crosses room to the phone on small telephone-table, he stops and looks at it while it continues to ring.  Then it stops. He pauses then returns to kitchen table and sits back down, toying with a pen as he  stares at a blank note pad on the table.

panning out.

He looks around and we see more of the kitchen. It is clean, with traditional cabinets and just a few appliances and knick-knacks on the counter. The man sets down the pen, and we hear his thoughts, in a vague, almost matter-of-fact tone.  Not cold, but no real hint at depth of any emotions.

I can't believe what I'm doing.  I am going to actually leave you.  It's like I am the last one to really get it.  After such a long time of trying my best, I can't fix this.

He stands up and begins to wander around the house as we continue to hear his thoughts.

interior - same home- living room - continuous.

Man walks into living room from kitchen.

It's strange.To think we lasted as long as we have.  Even our friends said we were mismatched early on.

He touches several objects in the living area as he reflects; a small framed pair of theater tickets, two sea-shells, a plaster of a dog's paw-print.

You were the one who wanted to get married someday.  You always said you would convince me.  I thought I may reconsider, but I know I will never get married.  I am convinced it wouldn't last.  Especially now.

He walks into a short hallway.

interior - same home - bedroom - continuous.

Man walks into bedroom from hallway.

He walks through bedroom to closet  and opens closet door. He pulls a suitcase from a shelf, takes it back into the room and opens it on the bed.

interior -same home- closet - continutous.

He returns to the closet.  It is neatly arranged with all men's clothing.  He slowly begins choosing various articles of clothing.  His hands move slowly over the clothes stopping occasionally on some articles; a pair of jeans, a novelty  T-shirt, several colorful ties from a tie hanger.

...So different...and yet we wore each others clothes.  What's mine?  What's yours?  Does it matter?  Are these your T-shirts and jeans?  Are these my short sleeved shirts and khakis?  Does that matter?  I could buy a whole new wardrobe and still look the same on the outside.  It's the inside that has changed ...broken.  I can't dress that up.

interior - same home- bedroom - continuous.

Man returns to the bed with items of clothing; jeans, pants, shirts, etc.  He begins to fold several articles of clothing into the suitcase.  he goes to a bureau and chooses socks, under garments from the drawers and a wrist watch from the top of the bureau.  He fingers a few other items of jewelery on the top of the bureau.

Things I always thougt but never asked... which one of us had the sunnier disposition?  Who makes better jokes?  Now it's different questions.  Which friends will treat me the same?  Who really likes "me" and not just "us?"  Do I even care?

The phone rings again and he stops and listens but still does not move to answer it.


Telephone rings a few more times then stops.

He finishes packing the suitcase with the clothes and wanders into the bathroom.

interior - same home- small bathroom - continuous.

There are two different toothbrushes, two different types of razors, two different colognes.

Were the odds against us anyway?  You believed in God and went to church, I never could.  You belived in a lot more than I did.  What does your faith say aobut what I am doing?  Do you still love me?  Do I still love you?  I'm sure I do, but I have to block that out or I couldn't do this.  And I have to.

Man returns to bedroom.

Interior - same home- bedroom - continuous.

He has brought one of each item from the bathroom and puts them into the side of the suitcase.

I Know it's not your fault.  I know its not "MY" fault.  Hell, it's not anyone's fault.  Still, I wonder if I could just be angry.  Or hate you.

Man walks out of bedroom carrying suitcase.

interior - same home - living room- continuous.

He brings the suitcase into the living area sets it down.  He walks toward to the kitchen he passes a small table and he looks down at a grouping of pictures in various frames.  Our vantage point is from behind the frames as he looks down, slowing as he passes.

interior - same home - kitchen - continuous.

Entering the kitchen he glances at the silent phone.  He then moves to the table and picks up the coffee cup from which he had been drinking, washes it in the sink, dries it and sets it onto a small shelf with only one other coffee cup on it.  The two cups are different in color and design.

No, it wouldn't be easier to hate you.

Close up of man adjusting the two coffee cups, moving them closer together with handles facing the same direction.

I'd never be able to do this unless I loved you.  Completely.

Now his cell phone rings as we see it on the small table in the kitchen.  He picks it up and looks at the caller ID.  We see the name "Patti."  He answers it.  We only hear his portion of the conversation as he moves back into the living area.

Hey Patti-O.  (Pause)  Yes, I am about to leave.  (pause) No, it isn't easy... this is what he wanted.

Man exits kitchen back to living room.

interior - same house - living room - continuous.

He moves to a box that is on a table and pulls out an urn.  We see that it is a simple funerary urn that would hold ashes of cremains, and a label on the box reads "Martin Funeral Home."

Yeah, it was nice.  That's what you say right?  That's what everyone says.  It was nice.  (Pause)  More for them than for me.  (Pause)  He wanted to be taken to the lake.  I owe it to him.  (voice cracks)  I'm leaving him there.

No, I coldn't leave you unless I loved you.  I'd want you with me always.  Even like this.  There was just no time to change our minds.

He sets the urn down with his back to the camera.

Camera view begins to widen out slowly.

Man return to phone conversation as scene begins to WHITE OUT.

I will see you when I get to Chicago.  I can finish things here any time.  (Pause)  I just can't believe I'm doing this.

Muted conversation continues as scene becomes completely white.

Fade to white


Sunday, December 30, 2012

For me, being "spiritual" is a quest to reconcile within my self, the awesome unimaginable, and UNDEFINABLE totality of ALL that is, both physical and trans-physical, making from this experience a personal relationship with this Power. "Religion" is a fractured, egotistical, maybe sincere but definitely flawed and limited way in which we try to "share" our viewpoint with others. God help me to increase my SPIRIT and let go of my RELIGION.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Recently my step-father passed after a sudden diagnosis of advanced Leukemia.  He lived just about a month after finding out.  I guess that is one of those “blessings” you hear about after someone passes.  He had time to say things of importance to his loved ones, he was able to make peace with not only his coming death, but his life.  And he really didn’t have prolonged pain and suffering. 
A local pastor asked my step-fathers adult children to meet and discuss their thoughts and memories of him so that the eulogy would be as personal as possible.  I joined my mother with them to share our thoughts and feelings.  It occurred quickly to me that any handful of people may have varying ideas and memories about the same person and about the same events shared in their own lives.  We each view the world through a particular lens that is defined by our own circumstances and our unique perspectives on events.  I won’t share their personal recollections but I wanted to consciously choose the manner in which I would remember my step-father. 
To me, he was always very pleasant and supportive.  He was a nice guy with a pretty good sense of  humor, and he obviously cared for my mother and my brothers and sisters and their families.  That’s always a plus.  He and I did discuss once that it was a LOT easier to be a Grandfather or Uncle that it was to be a parent.  As I have no kids of my own, I do appreciate that.  
His appearance brings to mind the phrase “weathered” as he spent a lot of time in the sun.  He was an avid golfer and outdoors type of guy for sure.  First impressions may make you think of him as gruff as he maintained the bearing of a retired Air Force veteran.  But the memory I chose of him showed a different aspect.
He loved so sit outside and enjoy the day.  He especially loved the birds that can be found here in the sandhills area.  He maintained several bird feeders in the yard and was especially fond of the hummingbirds that came every summer.  He would comment and remark on them practically every day during the summer before they migrated back to Central and South American.  It is his love and admiration for these small creatures that informs my idea of him.
Once, last summer, while mowing the yard and maintaining the flower beds, he found s small dead hummingbird.  He made a mention of it with a slight edge of what I would now call sadness.  Not overwhelming, not obvious, but that slight change in a persons voice that they might get when discussing a sad childhood memory.  A tinge of wistfulness edged with sorrow.  Contrary to what one might think of a man like him, he didn’t just pick it up with a shovel and throw it into the garbage can.  He actually made a small hole in the ground in one of his tended flower beds and gave this small creature a proper burial.  It was a small act of honor for these birds that brought him such pleasure.  The idea of it lodged in my mind and was awakened by the exercise of choosing the memories we would have of him. 
I didn’t share that memory at our meeting with the pastor.  Something about it seemed almost too personal to mention at the time.  I was using the opportunity of his passing to evaluate my own life in a way which I think is natural and necessary.  It allowed me to give gratitude for all that he had done for me and my family.  I share it now because of a conversation I had with a friend just yesterday.
We were discussing how to fully open ourselves up to our talents and why its important to live a life that allows our true  individual gifts to be brought forth.  I think that its important to choose everyday to consciously live your life with the intent to try and nudge the world even just a fraction closer to Heaven.  It isn’t easy but not being able to do it every day is not a reason to not try.
However much time I have left myself on this Earth, or in this particular life is not known to me.  I do realize that I have much to be thankful for.  But should anyone have the opportunity to choose a memory of me at this point.  I hope I have done something that is worthy of a good thought.  If not, let me know.  I will do better.