INT. LEO’S CAR — EARLY AFTERNOON, SEPT. 23
Leo drives an old red Saturn made out of some unknown material that isn’t metal — it’s probably a death trap, but it looks clean and athletic. The windows are heavily tinted, meaning that you can’t see the inside, which is every bit as aged and frayed as the outside is youthful and sleek.
Dirk pushes an old bag of chips out of a back seat before sitting down and attempting to buckle his seatbelt while Shelly stuffs her sign in the back of the car and takes the passenger seat. Leo gets in and casts half a smirk at Shelly before starting the car.
Are those your friends?
You don’t seem to eager to talk about them.
(skewing the subject)
So Bloomington for lunch?
I need to run
by Hannah’s house to give her back her book
before we go.
Shelly doesn’t see the flush flash through Dirk’s face, but Leo tosses a reflective smirk his way after catching a glimpse of him in the rearview mirror.
(half-addressed to Dirk)
Sounds good to me.
(trying to smooth over
the embarrassed wrinkles
in his voice)
Let’s do it.
Flori gives Dirk’s phone a buzz, which everyone hears and no one acknowledges, except for maybe Leo, who glances again into the rearview mirror; although that might be a bit paranoid to assume, since he is backing out of his parking place.
Leo turns his car out of the High School parking lot and onto 12th street — but instead of turning towards Highway 37, they turn right towards the looming smokestacks of the Lehigh Portland Cement Company and the rural lands beyond. Leo spins the radio to a pop-hits station, and Shelly pulls out the book Hannah loaned her. Dirk stares out the window and puts his hand over the phone in his pocket to quiet the buzzing.
They drive past the high school, past the ring of still well-kept but modest houses surrounding it and the old Emerson Elementary School, which sits like an abandoned prison sandwiched between N 9th Street and N 8th Street, out over the railroad tracks and into the haunt of wasted homes that sit propped on government checks and small pockets of illicit cash, past the baseball fields where Dirk and Leo played baseball and Shelly, who had a cannon for an arm, played softball, on beyond the sour shit smell of the waste treatment plant, and down one of the many state roads that leads to a gravel driveway in the middle of nowhere.
When Leo pulls into the drive and parks the car behind a beat-up green van from the turn of the millennium, Shelly unlocks her door and pauses.
(betraying her concern)
I won’t be long.
Shelly steps out of the car. Her sneakers crunch the sandy whiterock, and she walks up onto the front porch, where she knocks on a partially hidden front door. Someone opens the screen door, which looks like a broken beetle-wing, letting her in. Neither Leo or Dirk can see who.
Leo, wearing that same back-mirror smirk as before, only in full force, turns to Dirk after Shelly disappears. Dirk continues to press his hand over the pocket his phone is in, despite how the buzzing suddenly halts.
You miss a call?
(tense, like the knuckles
on his pressing hand)
Leo flips forward, faking a glance around the porch for Shelly. His hand turns on the steering wheel.
I almost couldn’t remember how to get
to Hannah’s house — it’s been so long since we
would come here after school. But then, I guess
I could have asked you for directions if
I got us lost, since you were always the one
who drove us here — back then? Or maybe someone
in your phone would know the way…
The front door opens, and Shelly walks out. Shelly, smiling, waves goodbye to someone standing in the door, and Leo starts the car.
(delayed, but most
assertively to Leo)
Shelly gets in the car. Her door won’t close at first, but she figures it out — she pulls the seatbelt up out of the way, and the door clicks shut. Leo puts the car in reverse. Gravel snaps like popping corn under the tires.
(out the opening window,
like he’s saying goodbye to
Hannah’s house, or maybe
telling it where to
meet him later)
(insightfully, to Shelly)
How was Hannah?
She said she’s glad I brought the book back, too,
because she needed it. She thought I took
another one. But she looked really tired —
you know how she can be when she’s got a thought
she feels like running down — she never stops.