Anathema Pt. 8

INT. IN THE CAR OUTSIDE THE BORDER STATION. NOT QUITE DAWN.

Thad is driving the car very hard as GUN SHOTS ring out in

the background and smoke grenades fill the darkness with a

thick fog. Jack reaches into his pocket and produces the

Canadian’s pipe. He places the pipe draw between his lips

and proceeds to light it and begin smoking. Thad looks at

Jack through the rear-view mirror and CHUCKLES. Jess is

leaned over against her door, using the window as a

headrest. Thad elbows Jess in the arm gently. Jess looks at

Thad inquisitively and Thad motions toward Jack with his

head. Jess turns to look at Jack who is sitting in the back

leisurely, smiling away and smoking the Canadian’s pipe.

Jess looks confused. Jess turns her head sharply to Thad.

JESS

Is that…?

Thad smiles and nods his head. Jack keeps on staring into

oblivion, smiling. Jess turns back in her seat, facing

forward.

JESS

You really are a scoundrel, ya know
that, Jack?

Jack continues puffing away on the pipe and grinning as if

he’s just played the funniest practical joke anyone ever

saw. Thad and Jess are both smiling and shaking their heads.

The moment passes and Thad begins to show his fatigue behind

the wheel by yawning. Jess lays her head back against the

window and closes her eyes. The road continues on ahead of

them, the dawn somewhere to the East, creeping over the

Atlantic.

INT. CAR JUST OUTSIDE A SMALL GAS STATION. NEARLY DAWN.

The car is parked outside of a small gas station. Inside the

car, Jess is asleep against her window and Jack has propped

himself against some of the stuff in the backseat and has

fallen asleep as well. The driver’s seat is empty. It’s

still early — maybe 4 or 5 A.M. The only people up and about

are FARMERS and FIRST SHIFT WORKERS from a local factory.

Thad OPENS THE DRIVER’S SIDE DOOR and sits a thermos full of

fresh coffee in-between the front seats and then pulls a box

of donuts off of the car roof and sits them on the dash

before sticking the keys in the ignition. Jack instinctively

wakes up and cranes his head in-between the front seats.

Thad doesn’t even acknowledge Jack’s action, he simply

reaches into the box of donuts while unfolding a map with

his other hand. Thad grabs out a donut and stuffs it into

Jack’s mouth without looking. This action looks like a

practiced ritual — they get along like Dick and Jane. Jack

takes hold of the donut and lays back down. Thad studies the

map for a moment before he STARTS THE CAR and SHIFTS into

reverse.

INT. CAR ON THE HIGHWAY. THE VERY EDGE OF DAWN.

Out of the windshield, past Thad’s arm holding coffee, the

early morning sky reveals a sign that says “Niagara Falls”.

The car follows the direction signaled by the sign.

EXT. NIAGARA FALLS BLUFFS. DAWN.

The car pulls up to a small parking lot positioned on the

bluffs of one of the falls. Thad nudges Jess awake and she

WAKES WITH A STARTLE. Thad motions for her to look out the

window at where they are. Jack is already awake and has made

his way out of the car and is digging in the back for a lawn

chair that he quickly produces. While Thad and Jess make

their way out of the car and toward the open trunk, Jack

sets up his lawn chair toward the front of the car and sits

down. Jack reaches into his pocket for his smokes and

produces the Canadian’s pipe. Jack looks into the pipe and

then BLOWS OUT THE STEM, blowing a puff of ashy dust into

the air. Jack does a “whatever” face and tosses the pipe

away into the the grass somewhere. Thad and Jess bring their

chairs from the trunk and set them up next to Jack’s. Thad

is pouring coffee from the thermos into small cups. Thad

passes a cup of coffee for Jack to Jess at the same time as

Jack passes the cigarettes for Thad to Jess. Jess crosses

over her arms and hands each of the men what the other one

had passed. The coffee and cigarettes get distributed to all

three. The trio sit, watching the sun slowly rise over the

top of the falls. Thad assumes a philosophical persona.

THAD

Ya know, this sunrise is kind of
like the allegorical culmination
of…

JESS

(interrupting)

It’s a sunrise, Thad. Nobody needs
your exposition for a sunrise.

Thad bites his lip slightly without looking at Jess and then

nods.

THAD

Fair enough.

The trio sit there for a moment, just drinking coffee,

smoking cigarettes, and taking in what they all know to be

the most beautiful sunrise they have ever seen.

A little while later, the trio find their cups empty and

their cigarettes down to the nub. Thad turns to Jess.

THAD

Well, now’s as good a time as any,
I guess. Do you have the zip-lock
with the note and the money?

Jess nods and reaches into her coat, producing a gallon-size

zip-lock bag with a hand-written letter and an envelope in

it. Thad nods. Jack looks over.

JACK

Quick question — who gets to hold
the bag?

THAD

Well, I was just gonna hold on to
it…

JACK

I’m just asking cause of the whole
riot thing or whatever. I just
wanna make sure they know who’s who
or whatever.

JESS

Well, maybe I should just hold on
to it, I mean, just so nobody comes
along and steals my corpse or
anything…

THAD

Ok, maybe we should just… wait a
second, “steals your corpse”,
really? That’s your bid for
carrying the bag?

JESS

Happens all the time. You wash up
on shore naked and pirates come and
steal your body… they do stuff to
it.

Thad shakes his head in frustrated disbelief.

THAD

…uhn… We’re at Niagara Falls,
I’m pretty sure we’re safe from
corpse-stealing pirates.

JESS

You never know, you just never
know.

THAD

Somehow, I’m still amazed when you
say crazy shit.

JESS

You say crazy, I say genius — we’ll
agree to disagree.

Thad rolls his eyes and looks at his watch.

THAD

They should be here any moment
now… maybe they hit traffic on
the one-ninety…

Jess and Jack nod their heads. Jack’s face lights up.

JACK

Wait! What time is it?

THAD

Ten twenty-three. A full eight
minutes later than I had expected
them to get here. Maybe they got a
flat?

JACK

Yes! I’ll be right back!

Jack RUNS off screen. Thad hardly notices, still trying to

figure out why their pursuers are running late. Jess watches

Jack’s off-screen activities with happy curiosity. After a

moment, Jack re-enters the frame rolling a very large cask

in front of him. Jess elbows Thad to get his attention. Thad

looks at Jack and his giant cask curiously. Jack seems very

proud his giant cask.

JACK

(explaining)

It’s the biggest one they make,
it’ll even fit three people!

THAD

It does seem rather large. How, may
I ask, did you know there was a
cask shop up here?

JACK

Well, when you said we were going
to Niagara I was still planning on
killing myself, so the whole barrel
over the falls routine fit into
that pretty well. They open at ten
fifteen on the weekend. You sparked
my memory.

THAD

(slightly put off)

Happy to have helped.

JESS

I’m assuming you intend for us to
get in the barrel with you?

JACK

Exactly! And then when they show
up, we just rock ourselves over the
edge and fall to our deaths in
peace.

Jess shrugs in acceptance of Jack’s plan. Thad doesn’t look

thrilled, but smiles anyway.

THAD

I guess it’s better than being
tortured… very well, let’s get it
to the ledge.

EXT. INSIDE THE BARREL. 10:27 A.M

The trio sit inside the barrel as a MOTORCADE OF CARS ARRIVE

at the scene. CAR DOORS OPEN and SOLDIERS SURROUND THE

BARREL at a distance of fifty feet away.

JACK

My mom’s gonna get a kick outta
this!

THAD

I think your mother might be a
little preoccupied with the fact
that you’ve taken part in a group
suicide, Jack.

JACK

Eh, she knows I’m a mess. At least
I didn’t knock anybody up!

JESS

That’s a valid point! Honey, we
didn’t get knocked up either -
pretty good, right?

Thad CHUCKLES and then SHUSHES Jess and Jack. They all

strain to hear what’s going on. A POLITICAL EXTREMIST SHOUTS

into a megaphone.

POLITICAL EXTREMIST

Egalitarian leaders of the
terrorist cell SubVersus: You have
been charged with the assassination
of Father Sam, our one true leader.
You will now be brutally tortured
and shot for your offenses.
Surrender willingly and we promise
not to waterboard you.

THAD

Alright, you guys ready?

Jess and Jack nod with pretend confidence.

THAD (CONT.)

Ok, let’s go.

THAD

Ready? 1…2…

JESS

(interrupting)

Wait!

Jess closes her eyes and bows her head. The men show

reverence.

JESS

Dear God, please forgive us for
littering and please let the
clean-up people get all our stuff
out of the water so no little ducks
choke on it…

Thad opens an eye to see if Jess is done.

JESS (CONT.)

Oh ya, and please forgive Thad for
leaving the trunk open and running
down the battery for whatever
homeless person decides to live in
there.

Thad frowns.

JESS (CONT.)

Amen. P.S. Please keep the
corpse-stealing pirates away from
my corpse, I’ve got garlic in my
pockets, but it never hurts to
double up.

Jess winks up at the sky.

THAD

Again with the pirates! By the way,
garlic is for vampires, not
pirates.

JESS

You don’t know, you didn’t even
know they existed a minute ago.

THAD

They don’t!

Jack begins reverently.

JACK

Dear God or higher power,

Thad and Jess stop arguing and look at Jack.

JACK

If it is your will, please allow my
body to strike a very sharp rock on
our way down, preferably hitting me
in the head or upper spine, killing
me instantly. If it happens to be
your will that I make it to the
water alive, please let the impact
kill me so that I don’t have to
drown. Your will be done, in a
manner that closely resembles my
will. Amen.

POLITICAL EXTREMIST

Um, excuse me terrorists: we would
very much like it if you could come
out now.

Thad rolls his eyes and rushes Jess and Jack.

THAD

Ok, ready 1,2…

JESS

Wait, you didn’t say a prayer!

Thad looks impatient.

THAD

You know, I don’t think God takes a
whole lot of requests for people
participating in group suicides.

Jess does a puppy dog face to Thad. Thad rolls his eyes.

THAD

Fine. Dear God: sorry I fucked up,
I won’t do it again, that’s for
sure! Amen.

JESS

Thaddeus! Is that how your mother
taught you to pray?!

Thad SWALLOWS HARD and SIGHS.

THAD

Dear Father in heaven,

Thad looks over at Jess for approval. Jess smiles and nods.

THAD

Please forgive us for what we are
about to do. We’ve lost our way. We
live in a world that doesn’t give a
damn…

JESS

(interrupting)

Thaddeus!

THAD

What?! It says “damn” like a
hundred times in the bible!
Jess frowns in disapproval.

THAD

We live in a world that doesn’t
care.

Thad looks at Jess for approval again.

THAD

I’ve done a lot of bad things in my
life, but I tried to do my best and
nothing ever seemed to pan out.
Please be with our families and
console them, and please give them
some kind of way to understand what
we did and why. More than anything,
Lord, I ask that you would make the
world a better place after we’re
gone. A place where you don’t get
screwed so much and a place where
you get rewarded for working hard
and keeping your nose clean. Thank
you for Jess and Jack… I guess
that life really isn’t worth living
without good people by your side
and these two are a couple of the
best you’ve ever made… In your
infinite wisdom and mercy, please
grant us a quick and relatively
pain-free death. In the name of
your Son, amen.

They all open their eyes. Jess and Jack smile at Thad.

JESS

That was beautiful, Thad.

JACK

No joke, man. Good prayer.

THAD

Thanks, guys.

Thad leans in and kisses Jess. Jack looks sad that he has no

one to kiss, so Thad leans in and Eskimo kisses with him -

the one where you rub your noses together. They ALL CHUCKLE

and take a DEEP BREATH.

THAD

Alright… ready?

Jess and Jack nod seriously.

THAD

Jack, you start the countdown.

JACK

One.

JESS

Two.

THAD

Three.

POLITICAL EXTREMIST

Why are they counting? Why are you
counting, terrorists?

The trio rock back and forth, ROCKING THE BARREL up on its

edge.

POLITICAL EXTREMIST

Oh shit! They’re gonna drop that
atom bomb they’re in into the
falls! Everybody get back in the
cars!

The Political Extremist and the Soldiers all RUN back to

their cars. The barrel is ready to tip over.

THAD

Here we go!

The barrel finally tips past the breaking point and cascades

over the cliff, down the falls.

EXT. BOTTOM OF THE FALLS. 10:30 A.M.

The Falls rage in the near background as the giant barrel

floats away from the chaos, bobbing up and down in the small

waves. The giant barrel begins to tip over, revealing the

motionless trio still inside. The barrel slowly tips too far

and starts filling with icy cold water. Thad and Jess AWAKE

WITH A STARTLE and recoil from the cold water. In trying to

move away from the water, Thad and Jess squish into Jack,

waking him up. Jack WAKES UP GENTLY, assuming he would be

awakened by the Almighty on some pleasant celestial plane.

Jack quickly realizes that he is not quite dead yet and that

they are all in danger of drowning inside the capsizing

barrel.

JACK

Aw, fuck this! I didn’t survive the
Falls just to drown ten feet from
the shore!

Jack quickly swims out of the barrel and Jess and Thad

follow. The trio swim up to the shore and collapse onto the

beach lying next to each other. They lie there for a moment

in silence with blank expressions.

JACK

Ya know… I don’t think I wanna
kill myself any more.

Thad and Jess both look at Jack. Jack’s expression slowly

turns into a smile and Thad and Jess both start LAUGHING.

Thad takes a DEEP BREATH.

THAD

I could really go for some seafood
right now — somethin’ with some big
ass tentacles on it! I think
there’s a crab shack right down the
beach a ways.

JESS

I’m in. As long as they have rum,
lots and lots of rum!

The trio stand up haggardly. Thad stands in the middle,

wrapping his arms around Jess and Jack’s shoulders. They

start the long walk down the beach toward the highway.

THAD

(jokingly)

I really need to find better
friends, you guys are always
getting me in trouble.

JESS

Just stop talking. By the way,
you’re paying for lunch.

JACK

I don’t even like seafood…

THAD

Well Jack… it’s like the wise man
once said, life sucks and then you
die.

They all LAUGH. The trio continue walking down the beach in

their warm embrace. On a nearby bench, a SCHOLARLY MAN with

glasses setting at the end of his nose is sleeping soundly

with a paperback copy of Votaire’s “Candide” spread open

across his belly.

THE END.

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