Written by Eric Christopher Jackson
WINNER | FALL 2011
Azusa Pacific University | 48-Hour Film Festival
Including Best Actor & Best Actress
EXT. CVS STORE – DAY
On a perfectly beautiful day in Azusa, CA. STEVEN JACOBS and his girlfriend KELLY PAUL are walking out of the department store. KELLY is reassuring Steven that meeting her parents for the first time is no big deal.
I think you should come on Sunday.
I really need the money, but I guess I can take the day off.
It’s just my brother, Steven.
Steven puts his hand to his ear.
Kelly, what? I hear static, I’m going through a tunnel.
Kelly pushes his arm down.
There’s nothing to be afraid of –
– I am not afraid of my meeting your brother. I talk to my brother all the time.
Kelly stops walking just before she reaches her car.
– Kelly –
– My mom is super sweet and my dad is like the nicest guy in the world. I mean, how often do they butt into our relationship?
That’s because I told ‘em not to.
Steven presses the “unlock” button on her key chain and quickly walks to open the driver’s side door.
You did not! You better not have!
Kelly walks over to the driver’s side of her car, throws the bag into the passenger seat, and turns back to look intently at Steven.
– Steven –
– I’m a man.
Kelly rolls her eyes. Steven keeps a stern look on his face.
Oh my gosh –
– I don’t get scared.
Kelly gives him a quick hug and gets in the car. Steven helps her close the door.
I have to go to class. Be careful going home from work.
Steven backs away from the car as Kelly cranks it up and backs out of the parking space.
Hey, I love the exercise!
Kelly frowns as she begins to pull away.
Steven, your car’s in the shop because you ran into a parking pole.
Kelly drives off. Steven looks at his watch in shock.
Oh, I can’t be late for work!
Steven takes off running.
INT. THE CAFE – NIGHT
Steven is in front of a flat grill casually flipping burgers around more for amusement than duty. He hears the CAFE MANAGER calling from the front area.
CAFE MANAGER (O.S.)
Steven, quit playing with those burgers and cook ‘em!
Steven frowns and turns abruptly.
But Steven turns back, and with a sly grin, begins hacking at the burgers with delight. The Cafe Manager yells.
EXT. CAFE BACK ALLEY – NIGHT
Steven is grumbling as he carries the trash quite a ways to the dumpster, knocking the bag against cans simply to make noise.
“Steven, flip burgers. Steven, wipe the tables. Steven, take out the trash,” blah, blah, blah.
Suddenly, Steven hears the sound from a trash can he didn’t make. He pauses to listen. The noise gets louder. He hears voices, then a sharp, abrupt scream.
Steven puts his back to the wall and slowly slides down to the ground behind a garbage can.
He peeks around the corner, wide-eyed, then realizes there’s two men at the end of the alley.
The light is only bright enough for him to see a little more than their silhouettes.
One of the men pulls his arm back three times and strikes the other man in the stomach.
That man lets out a few short grasps, slumps, and falls to the ground.
Steven turns around, back completely behind the garbage can. Steven hears garbage cans rattling, bags being emptied of their garbage, then more shuffling around.
A grunt is made followed by the sound of heavy footsteps.
Steven is breathing heavily, talking to himself silently in a panic. The man is coming this way. He shuts his eyes tight, still talking silently.
But he begins to hear the footsteps in front of him. He opens his eyes to see a man, with large bags put together over his shoulder, walking to the other end of the alley towards a car parked by one of the dumpsters pretty close to him.
Steven can see inside the car and notices what looks like a set of three foam shurikens hanging from the rear view mirror.
As the man begins to approach the trunk of the car, Steven moves to the other side of the garbage can.
Steven hears the trunk open, a thud, then the trunk closes.
The car in the alley cranks up. Steven peeks out from behind the can once more and catches a dim view of the man’s face.
Steven hides again as the car begins to drive towards, then by him without any headlights.
The car pulls out on the main road and goes silently into the night.
Steven covers his face with his hands and sits there for awhile, seemingly frozen, not about to move.
EXT. KELLY’S CAR – PARENTS’ HOME – EVENING
Steven is in the passenger seat of Kelly’s car with his hands covering his face. Kelly has been trying to figure out why he’s acting this way.
Are you listening to me?! We should be able to talk about anything and everything with each other!
Steven sits sits still. Silent.
We’ll talk about this later. They’re waiting for us.
Kelly gets out of the car. Steven follows. They walk up to the door together, Kelly rings the doorbell. Steven finally feels awful about the situation.
Kelly, I’m sorry.
Steven, what’s wrong?!
The other night, I thought I saw…
The front door opens, Kelly’s mom, MARGARET PAUL, and her dad, ELI PAUL, are there to greet them along with Kelly’s younger brother, DEREK PAUL.
Steven looks up to recognize Kelly’s dad’s face. It is the same face of the man he saw in the alley driving away.
Steven quickly spins around, fighting himself from going into a panic. He glances up to see the three foam shurikens hanging from the rear view window of her dad’s car.
Her parents look at him oddly, Kelly grabs him slightly around his arm, while trying to give a brief smile, while Steven considers leaving althogether.
Derek decides to speak up first.
Aww, don’t worry. My parents aren’t that bad!
Everyone begins to laugh. Eli speaks up.
Come on in, son. Dinner’s ready.
Steven stumbles passed Eli without giving him a second glance. Kelly walks by looking at her parents with a shy smile and look of confusion.
INT. – PARENTS’ HOME – DINNER TABLE
There are six chairs around a nice rectangle table in the dining room. There is plenty of food for everyone. Eli is at the head of the table, while his wife and son sit to his left. Kelly, then Steven sit to his right.
Steven has barely said a word. Margaret decides to break the ice.
So…you two met in college right, Steven?
You’re in the same major as well?
Derek looks around the table, eyebrows raised.
Wow. She didn’t tell us you were this creepy!
– Well he is!
Eli sits still, looking at his plate as he cuts his beef.
A silence falls back over the room before Derek breaks the ice again.
I checked you out before. Just to see who you were.
Steven finally looks up.
Don’t freak out man! I just ordered from “Have-A-Patty” one night! You were in the back flinging burgers around! Which was kinda funny by the way.
Steven sits up.
I don’t think that was me — !
– I told them him where you work because he kept bugging me about it.
I didn’t bug you!
Kelly, you told Derek, but wouldn’t tell me?!
Mom, please don’t start with –
– You probably saw someone else!
Eli clears his throat. The room falls silent again.
Eli gives at Steven with a stern look for a few moments, what feels like an eternity for Steven.
You work at this “Patty” place at night?
Steven looked down and away as Kelly frowned at him.
Well, I’ve been by there –
– Steven, what is wrong with you?!
Eli firmly puts his knife down on the table and glares at Steven, then looks at Kelly and back to Steven.
There’s an elephant in the room…and I think it’s you.
Book Excerpt of “Speak.”