The Circle Unbroken

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


FADE IN:

EXT. GUTHRIE - NIGHT

Guthrie, Oklahoma. 1880s. Deputy Marshal Bill TILGHMAN rides through the quiet streets.

EXT. GROCER'S WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

Tilghman rides up to a warehouse, dismounts, and walks to a dark open doorway.

INT. GROCER'S WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

Continuous. Darkened grocery warehouse. Tilghman enters

TILGHMAN
Marshal Nix?

Tilghman's not even sure he's in the right place.

TILGHMAN (CONT'D)
Marshal Nix!

Marshal E.D. NIX comes out of the darkness by an office door.

NIX
You must be Tilghman.

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir. I got your letter.

NIX
And?

TILGHMAN
I'm int'rested.

NIX
Come in and sit down, Mr. Tilghman.

Nix re-enters his office and lights a lamp.

NIX (CONT'D)
Until last month, I was the biggest wholesale grocer in the Oklahoma and Indian territories. Take off your hat, Mr. Tilghman.

Tilghman takes off his hat.

NIX (CONT'D)
Now I'm their biggest marshal, too.

Nix waits for Tilghman to respond.

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir.

NIX
Mr. Tilghman, I'm not a lawman. I like being a rich grocer too much to ride around on a horse and get myself shot at. I expect my deputies to get shot at for me.

Nix waits for a reaction and Tilghman waits him out.

NIX (CONT'D)
Will you do that for me?

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir.

NIX
Then you can be my first deputy. Hire a posse, men you already trust - I'll pay.

Nix hands Tilghman a messy sheaf of wanted bills and warrants.

NIX (CONT'D)
Here's the Doolins. Bill Doolin is trying to make a name for himself by robbing the biggest banks he can find. We can't have that, can we Mr. Tilghman?

TILGHMAN
No, sir.

NIX
Lock them up. Will you do that for me?

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir.

NIX
You don't say much, do you, Mr. Tilghman?

TILGHMAN
No, sir.

Tilghman waits for Nix to say more.

TILGHMAN (CONT'D)
I'd best get started.

NIX
You'd best get results. Wait: here's one more.

Scoops another wanted bill off his desk; on it is Little Dick West. Little Dick's picture becomes--

INT. BANK - DAY

--LITTLE DICK in a bank robbery in Spearville, Oklahoma. Bill DOOLIN and ARKANSAS TOM are inside with him. Doolin is a handsome, fame-hungry, and pleasant outlaw. Arkansas Tom is a kid thrilled just to be here.

LITTLE DICK
Look out, Dool!

Dick shoots down a bank guard.

EXT. BANK - DAY

Continuous. TULSA JACK and RED BUCK Waightman are outside the bank holding off the locals.

RED BUCK
Hurry it up, Doolin! I ain't riskin' my life out here for nothin'!

INT. BANK - DAY

Continuous. Little Dick has his gun on two clerks as Doolin backs them into the vault.

DOOLIN
Just hold 'em off, Red!

LITTLE DICK
We could go, Dool. We got enough.

DOOLIN
Not until we have it all, amigo. We don't get ourselves in the papers doin' things halfway.

One of the clerks is hyperventilating.

DOOLIN
Relax, gentlemen, we don't shoot men who cooperate. If you'll just step into the vault, we'll be gone.

Doolin ushers the clerks into the vault.

DOOLIN (CONT'D)
Take the bags, Tom.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Up the street from the bank, shouts, shots. Armed citizens gathering.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. MAYOR approaches and collars a shouter.

MAYOR
We've got ears! Now quiet down all of you and do what I tell you. Have the station wire the new marshal in Guthrie.

One man runs off towards the telegraph office.

MAYOR (CONT'D)
Those of you that hate thieves and are carrying sidearms, follow me.

INT. BANK - DAY

Doolin is wasting time, glorying in the take. Red Buck appears in the doorway.

RED BUCK
Come on, Dool. This town's shooting back--

DOOLIN
They're what?

RED BUCK
--and I don't get paid for dyin'. Let's go or I'm leavin'.

DOOLIN
(To Dick.)         
What's with Red?

EXT. STREET - DAY

Red Buck and Tulsa Jack are coming under stiff fire. They return fire with their pistols. Tulsa's horse is wounded. Doolin comes out.

RED BUCK
I'm leaving here, Doolin!

DOOLIN
You wait for us. Come on, Tom.

Wooden post by Doolin's face is splintered by gunfire.

DOOLIN (CONT'D)
All right. That's enough of that.

Doolin calmly shoots the mayor and the citizens scatter.

DOOLIN (CONT'D)
Now we're leaving, Red.

Doolin mounts.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. Doolins ride away from gunfire.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Down the street in the direction the Doolins are headed. A father and teenage son move to join in the fray.

FATHER
Come on, son.

Father and son shoot from cover at approaching riders.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. Doolin's POV. Doolin shoots father. Son emerges suddenly into Doolin's view and, firing a big revolver over and over, drops Doolin's horse.

DOOLIN
Jeezus H--

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. Son's POV. Son closes with Doolin, firing. As Doolin struggles to free himself from the fallen horse, Little Dick, on horseback, appears suddenly bearing down on the son with revolver leveled.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. Son's POV. Dick rides the son down, glancingly, and as the son falls, Little Dick holds the son's eyes with his own and keeps the gun pointed in the son's face.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. Dick's POV. Dick's horse sweeps by. But he does not shoot the young man.

EXT. STREET - DAY

Continuous. Doolin frees himself from the horse and Dick rides up to him.

DOOLIN
That boy ruined my horse.

LITTLE DICK
Forget it, Dool. I've got you; swing up.

Doolin cuts his bag of money loose from the horse and climbs up behind Dick.

EXT. RAILROAD - DAY

An engine with one cattle car, is steaming down the rails. Through the open door of the car, Tilghman, his six men, and their horses - all crowded together - are visible.

EXT. WOODS - DAY

Ad hoc posse from Spearville is in pursuit of the Doolins down a trail through the woods.

EXT. WOODS - DAY

Two ambushers are hidden just off the trail.

EXT. RAILROAD - DAY

Marhsal's short train slows into Spearville.

EXT. WOODS - DAY

The posse from Spearville is ambushed and easily driven off by two riders. As the posse leaves, we see the ambushers are women: Cattle ANNIE and LITTLE BRITCHES.

ANNIE
How was that?

They walk back to their horses.

LITTLE BRITCHES
Alright, Annie. That was alright.

ANNIE
I told you this would be fun.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DUSK

Tilghman and his posse plunge from the train.

EXT. ROAD - DUSK

Wide spot in the road. The Doolins have gathered and are splitting the Spearville take.

TULSA JACK
Those storekeepers almost ruined my horse.

ARKANSAS TOM
All they shot were horses.

DOOLIN
Must like big targets.

LITTLE DICK
Dool, there's over eighteen thousand dollars here.

ARKANSAS TOM
That's more than the James and Youngers ever got. And every paper in Oklahoma is gonna be talking about how we did it.

DOOLIN
Tom, I don't want to be compared to the James boys. We're going to keep robbing the banks biggest banks we can find until the papers start comparing the James Gang to us.

Two riders approach.

DOOLIN (CONT'D)
Evening, ladies.

Annie and Little Britches approach.

DOOLIN (CONT'D)
Who's your friend, Annie?

ANNIE
This is my good friend Jennie.

Doolin tips his hat while the others gawk.

DOOLIN
Miss Jennie.

Little Britches smiles in return.

ANNIE
I finally talked her into leaving Hot Springs.

DOOLIN
Anyone behind you, Annie?

ANNIE
Not any more. We talked them into giving up within three miles of the bank.

DOOLIN
That was ladylike of you.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DUSK

Tilghman and the marshals ride behind Chris MADSEN, who tracks the Doolins. Madsen was Danish and looked like a big, dumb farmer. Posse: Jim MASTERSON, Ed HOUSTON, Lafe SHADLEY, Reed LUCAS.

EXT. WOODS - DUSK

Continuous. Little Dick and Red Buck have been watching Little Britches. She ignores Red and then openly returns Dick's attention.

LITTLE BRITCHES
Hi ya.

LITTLE DICK
I'm Little Dick.

LITTLE BRITCHES
Little Britches.

Dick hesitates.

LITTLE BRITCHES (CONT'D)
Me. Not you.

Dick checks out her britches.

LITTLE DICK
They sure become you.

Screenplay truncated at 500 lines.