By in Erath County


R. Earle Harris
All rights reserved (c) 2015 (rearleharris@tuxfamily.org)

FADE IN:

EXT. CANADIAN RIVER - NIGHT

Wide, dry, flat red earth, cut by silver threads of water. Keith Urban's Better Life rises up out of the ground, shakes the air. Run titles. Enjoy the music. Then --

Title Over:
I have digged and drunk strange waters,  
and with the sole of my feet  
have I dried up all the rivers.                     
-- 2 Kings 19:24  

INT. TRAVEL TRAILER - NIGHT

Cut music. Dark narrow bed. Clawing out of nightmare sleep, JOE LON Trueno, sixty-plus-year-old Native American, retired Texas Ranger, pops his sleeping pitbull, LOSER, on the nose. Loser assumes the worst.

JOE LON
Hush, Loser. It's alright. It's alright.

Loser barks to wake the dead.

JOE LON (CONT'D)
For crying out loud, dog, shut up.

Joe Lon swats Loser across the nose. Dog shuts up. Joe Lon, in boxers and t-shirt, gets his bearings in the little trailer.

JOE LON (CONT'D)
Home, sweet home. Come on, Loser. Let's get some milk.

By the bed: a .41 Magnum Vaquero, an old Texas Ranger star.

INT. TRAVEL TRAILER - NIGHT

Fridge light, tiny bare kitchen. Joe Lon stumbles over the dog.

JOE LON
C'mon, dog. Give me some room. What do you feel like?

INT. FRIDGE - NIGHT

Junk food from grocery store. Remaindered cellophane food from convenience store.

INT. TRAVEL TRAILER - NIGHT

Joe Lon opens up a sandwich, gives it to Loser, who inhales it.

JOE LON
Slow down, babyhead. One is all you get.

By the light of open fridge, Joe Lon sits on floor, pets dog, drinks off a quart carton of milk.

JOE LON (CONT'D)
Alright. That should keep the nightmares down.

Joe Lon gets up.

JOE LON (CONT'D)
Come on, Loser.

Joe Lon closes the fridge. Darkness.

EXT. TRAVEL TRAILER - NIGHT

Hint of dawn. Headlights hit trailer, engine switches off, boots approach the trailer.

INT. TRAVEL TRAILER - NIGHT

Joe Lon lurches awake to the barking of Loser, the banging of the door.

INT. FRONT DOOR - NIGHT

Joe Lon in boxers, t-shirt, Ruger Vaquero.

JOE LON
Who is it?

WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
I'm here about your son. Dammit.

JOE LON
Linda? I'm not dressed.

WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
You answer this door, Joe Lon Trueno.

JOE LON
Just wait.

EXT. FRONT DOOR - NIGHT

Joe Lon, jeans, no gun. LINDA Trueno, his ex-daughter-in-law, mid-thirties, in the porchlight.

JOE LON
Linda.

LINDA
Joe Lon.

INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Joe Lon beckons Linda in, closes the door.

LINDA
I'm going to shoot your damn son.

JOE LON
Last time we talked, you said you wouldn't do that.

LINDA
I said I was afraid I'd hit my truck.

JOE LON
So what's changed.

LINDA
Miguel set my truck on fire, my beautiful blue truck. Burned it right down to the Firestones.

Joe Lon can't help smiling.

LINDA (CONT'D)
Goddamit. You think it's funny? I see Miguel again, I swear to God I'll shoot him.

JOE LON
If you feel that way -- and I'm sure you do -- what are you doing here?

LINDA
I'm hiding from your son, Joe Lon. I'm afraid he's going to shoot me first.

EXT. POST OAK COUNTRY - DAY

Just after dawn. South Texas oaks, hills, travel trailer and the burned-out shell of a double-wide. Linda on tailgate of Joe Lon's old blue pickup. Joe Lon brings two coffees.

LINDA
Your sister-in-law Imelda told me you burned this trailer down when Margareta died.

JOE LON
You didn't believe her?

LINDA
Oh, I believed her. Like father, like son.

Joe Lon frowns, hands her the coffee.

JOE LON
You call the sheriff?

LINDA
I did.

JOE LON
And?

LINDA
Said he'd lock Miguel up soon as he caught him.

JOE LON
Miguel really set your truck on fire?

LINDA
It was the gas tank exploding that woke me up this morning, Joe Lon. Miguel was standing there waiting for me to look out the window. Goddamit.

Coffee in silence.

LINDA (CONT'D)
I loved that old truck.

JOE LON
Baby blue--

LINDA
--and chrome, lots of chrome.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Washing their cups in the sink.

JOE LON
You going home now?

LINDA
No, Joe Lon, I told you. Miguel is scaring the shit out of me right now. I'm staying here.

JOE LON
I don't exactly have a guest room, Linda.

LINDA
Imelda said that little couch makes into a bed. This is her trailer.

JOE LON
You're not sleeping on my little couch.

LINDA
I'm not sleeping in your bed, Joe Lon Trueno. The couch will have to do.

Phone begins to ring. Joe Lon watches Linda, lets it ring. But it won't stop.

LINDA (CONT'D)
I'll get it, Joe Lon.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR of Texas, capitol building in Austin, talking into the phone.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Are you living with a woman, Trueno? I thought your wife just died.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Joe Lon shakes his head. Linda watches him.

JOE LON
Sir.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Lieutenant Governor sits, hands shaking, voice not quite strong.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
I don't know what kind of ... mess ... is about to hit the fan, Trueno, but a storm cloud of it is coming and I don't need any scandal on your end.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Joe Lon looks up at Linda and waves her out.

JOE LON
My end of what?

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Lieutenant Governor's voice shaking now.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
This investigation. My eldest step-daughter.

He breaks down and has to hang up the phone.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Joe Lon answers the ringing phone.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR (O.S.)
I'm sorry, Joe Lon. This isn't like me ... like that.

JOE LON
It's all right, sir. Just tell me what you need me to do.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Lieutenant Governor steadier.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
It's DFW. Dallas. My step-daughter. Her name was Dallas Frances Wilson. Her body's been found ... in high water.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Joe Lon confused.

JOE LON
Your step-daughter drowned ... died in the water?

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Lieutenant Governor pulls himself together.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Yes. No. I'm sorry. Dallas was found in a creek, Skull Creek, near Stephenville. Just outside a little town called High Water. I want you to look into it.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Joe Lon shakes his head.

JOE LON
Sir. I don't even have a badge anymore.

Lieutenant Governor's voice louder.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR (O.S.)
I'll get you a God-damn badge, Ranger Trueno. Listen to me. They only found half of her.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Lieutenant Governor shaking again.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
They cut my baby girl in half.

INT. BATHROOM - DAY

Joe Lon pulls stuff from medicine cabinet. Linda stands in the bathroom doorway.

LINDA
You're not leaving me here on my own.

JOE LON
You're already on your own. You're a big girl. You're not even married anymore. Which is something I wish my damn son would figure out.

Joe Lon turns, faces her, bottle of hair oil in his hand.

LINDA
Hair oil?

JOE LON
It's an Indian thing.

LINDA
What kind of Indian uses Brylcreme?

Joe Lon packs a little suitcase, stuffing bathroom stuff in any which way.

JOE LON
Beat's hell out of me. What are you looking at?

LINDA
Don't you own a Dopp kit? I thought all men owned a Dopp kit.

JOE LON
A what kit?

LINDA
A little waterproof thingie. Keeps the toothpaste out of your underwear.

JOE LON
It's usually hair oil gets in my underwear. And I don't know that hair oil and underwear are proper topics for me to be discussing with my daughter-in-law.

LINDA
Ex-daughter-in-law.

JOE LON
If you're an ex, shouldn't you be out of here?

LINDA
That's what I keep asking Miguel, Joe Lon. Which brings me to the point. Until you rein your son in, you are not leaving me here alone.

Joe Lon Trueno smiles.

JOE LON
I am not taking you with me.

EXT. OLD PICKUP - DAY

Joe Lon stops grinding the starter, climbs out of his truck.


Screenplay truncated at 500 lines.