Commercial

by Steven Carter

 

 

†††††††††††

EXT. A BUCOLIC LAKE SCENEóDAY

A bright, but not brilliant sun shines from its noonday perch.A thick forest surrounds the lake except for a rim of grass at the waterís edge.A dirt road cuts through the forest.A MAN and WOMAN are sitting on a blanket on the grass as if having a picnic, although they have no food, no hamper.Their station wagon is parked a few yards away, and their children, a BOY seven and a GIRL six, play near the waterís edge.The childrenís tentativeness makes it obvious they cannot swim.

††††††††††† ANGLE ON the MAN, mildly handsome, casually dressed, in his early thirties, and the WOMAN, pretty, six months pregnant.

WOMAN

††††††††††† You know, the wagon just isnít big enough anymore.

MAN

††††††††††† The wagonís fine.

WOMAN

††††††††††† It wonít be when this one comes along.

She smiles, touches his arm, leaves her hand there.

MAN

††††††††††† Honey...

WOMAN

††††††††††† We need a van.

CUT TO:

The MAN running through an unfamiliar desert landscape.The sun is incessant, brutal.CLOSE ON his face, strained and sweating profusely.He looks over his shoulder, speeds up his pace.

CUT TO:

The MAN and WOMAN.She is still touching his arm, her smile beatific.

WOMAN

††††††††††† We need a van.For the childrenís sake.

MAN

††††††††††† What about a truck?Iíve been thinking about getting a truck.

CLOSE ON the WOMANís face.She is still smiling, but now it seems frozen, ceramic.

CUT TO:

A horrifically neat neighborhood.A van is parked in the white concrete drive of each house.The WOMAN shuffles through this neighborhood, distraught, swollen beyond belief with pregnancy.Then she comes to her house, the one with the truck.

CUT TO:

The MAN and WOMAN.

WOMAN

††††††††††† Trucks are nice.

MAN

††††††††††† Theyíre really versatile.

WOMAN

††††††††††† But where would we put the children?

MAN

††††††††††† We could get one of those with the big cab.

CUT TO:

The BOY and GIRL, standing in dirty knee-high water in the lake.From their expressions it is obvious they are frightened.

CUT TO:

The MAN and WOMAN staring at each other.Then, we hear the loud ROAR of an unseen vehicle coming up the dirt road.The ROAR echoes.A FOUR WHEEL DRIVE JEEP RANCHERO, red with gold trim, bursts out of the woods and comes to a screeching halt beside the station wagon.Upbeat music floats from the JEEP RANCHEROíS open windows.The engine dies, but the music keeps playing, and an absolutely beautiful SECOND WOMAN steps out.The SECOND WOMAN smiles, waves to the MAN and WOMAN.She is wearing a conservative two-piece bathing suit.She makes for the lake and jumps in.She swims well.

CUT TO:

The BOY and GIRL, staring forlornly at the SECOND WOMAN swimming.

CUT TO:

The MAN and WOMAN.She is staring at the JEEP RANCHERO.The MAN, like his children, is staring at the swimming SECOND WOMAN.

WOMAN

††††††††††† A Jeep Ranchero.It might just do the trick.

MAN

(smiling)

††††††††††† I think youíre right.

DISSOLVE TO:

A white screen.Centered in the middle of the screen, in small black letters:

Jeep Ranchero.

The perfect compromise.

FADE OUT

 

*†† *†† *

 

INT. AN UPPER MIDDLE CLASS LIVING ROOM

It is late afternoon.Long shadows darken the room and through a picture window we see snow spitting, a large backyard rimmed by woods.The room is lit only by the blaze in the fireplace.The fire CRACKLES.A MAN, early forties, sits on a couch in front of the fireplace.He is obviously depressed.His shoulders slump, he stares at the fire as if in a trance.He wears a thick white fishermanís sweater.His short neat hair, graying at the temples, is a touch ruffled.The whole look of the man tells us he is a mid-level executive on the rise; he has carved out a comfortable place in the world.But now something is deeply wrong.

††††††††††† A WOMAN enters the room and stands near the fireplace, rubbing her gloved hands together.The MAN notes her briefly, returns his gaze to the fire.The WOMAN is flushed, her breath short and quick.She wears a fashionable running suit, black Lycra tights, a brightly colored top, a pink ear band.The CRACKLE of the fire fills the silence in the room.

WOMAN

††††††††††† Itís getting cold out there.

ANGLE ON the MANís face.He nods.

WOMAN

††††††††††† Itís all right though.I like running when itís cold.

ANGLE ON the MANís face.He nods again.

WOMAN

(perturbed)

††††††††††† Look, you may not believe it, but this hurts me too.

CUT TO:

A wooded scene.Strong, bass-heavy rock music is playing.A trail cuts through the woods and we see the WOMAN running.Her expression is determined.She is dressed as she was in the living room.She starts up a short hill, and we get an ANGLE ON her TRAILRUNNER X2 running shoes, the insignia clearly visible.Then DISSOLVE to a swirl of images.The WOMAN in a business suit striding through the cavernous lobby of an office building, the WOMAN lifting weights in a dark, grungy, high-ceilinged room, the WOMAN walking on a beach at evening.

CUT TO:

WIDER ANGLE on the living room.Now we see the MAN and WOMAN, the fireplace, and also in the far corner of the room a Christmas tree.Lights blink on the tree, and underneath it lay a pile of opened gifts, boxes and paper strewn everywhere.

MAN

(staring at the floor)

††††††††††† I canít believe you waited until now to tell me.Who does such a thing on the day after Christmas?

WOMAN

††††††††††† It had to be done.

MAN

(suddenly looking up at her)

††††††††††† But after all these years...and the children.God, Alisa.Why?

WOMAN

††††††††††† I donít know.Because thatís just the way it is, I guess.

 

MAN

(distraught)

††††††††††† Thatís no kind of answer.Thatís no answer at all.

WOMAN

(pulling off her ear band, tossing her hair free)

††††††††††† Itís the only answer Iíve got, Roger, so just pull yourself together.Just snap out of it.

DISSOLVE TO:

A black screen.Centered in the middle of the screen, in small white letters:

Trailrunner X2.

Just snap out of it.

FADE OUT

 

*†† *†† *

 

INT. A BUSY RESTAURANT

A FATHER and SON sit at a table.Gauzy sunlight falls through a curtained window at their backs.We hear the indistinguishable CHATTER of the lunch crowd.A WAITER and then PATRONS walk behind the FATHER and SONís table, creating a sense of bustle.FATHER and SON are both dressed in conservative tie and blazer.The FATHER has the air of a successful man a only a few years from retirement, while the SON has the air of a young lion on the rise.However, the searching expression on the SONís face lets us know he is here, at this lunch, for wisdom.

 

FATHER

††††††††††† You could buy life insurance.But itís not the greatest investment in the world.

SON

††††††††††† Didnít you have it?

FATHER

††††††††††† When your mother and I were married, yes.When you were little, yes.

SON

††††††††††† So Iím married.And Judyís expecting.Why shouldnít I buy the policy?

Neither FATHER nor SON speaks for a moment.The CHATTER of the lunch crowd intensifies.The SON watches the FATHER for an answer, while the FATHER gazes thoughtfully into the distance.††

FATHER

††††††††††† Youíll get a better return on a stock fund.Over the long haul.

SON

††††††††††† I know.But my family wonít be protected.

FATHER

††††††††††† Yes, they will.The money will be there.And if things ever changeó

SON

(interrupting)

††††††††††† Whatíd you mean?If things change?

FATHER

††††††††††† I mean sometimes things change.And if they do, a life insurance policy wonít leave you with much equity.Itíll be harder to start over again.

 

SON

But I donító

FATHER

(interrupting)

††††††††††† Look.You asked me what I thought.I told you.

The FATHER reaches for his water glass, takes a sip, sets it down again.Both FATHER and SON stare at the table thoughtfully.The SON gives the slightest of nods.Then the WAITER passes behind their table again, and the CHATTER of the lunch crowd intensifies.

DISSOLVE TO:

A white screen.Centered in the middle of the screen, in small black letters:

Ecco Mutual Funds.

Because sometimes things change.

FADE OUT

 

 

 

**

Steven Carter's novel, I Was Howard Hughes, was recently published under the Tin House Books imprint of Bloomsbury USA.His short fiction has appeared in over twenty magazines.

 

 

Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/prose/carters_comm.htm