Saturday, December 19, 2009

An afternoon with the kids.

(Open with Neil Young’s, “Campaigner”)

It’s a soft, sunny, August day. Not a cloud in the sky, just the chirps of the city, some birds and the buzz of the odd mosquito. We see a typical suburban neighbourhood, cookie-cutter houses, and all similar cars. We begin to focus on one house as a clean pick-up truck pulls in and up to it, parking crooked and assuming.
Sid rolls up the windows, gets out of the truck and straightens his self. Sid wipes his hands on his jeans, gathers some things and locks up; walks to the front door.
He knocks.

(The conversation is inaudible under the Neil Young song.)

Sid: Hi. I made it!

They exchange a brief hug.

Lacy: Hey there. We were worried about you. C’mon in!

We follow Sid and Lacy as they walk through the tidy, beautiful house towards the back and out the patio doors. Jim is manning the BBQ,, drinking beer and smiling warmly. We see their two boys, Josh and Stephen, playing, running around the huge maple tree in the centre of the yard.

Sid sits at the gestured request of Jim and opens a bottle of beer. Sid drinks long off of it and thanks Lacy and Jim with a nod and a tip of the bottle. They sit in content, appreciative silence. Jim has the local radio news on and the 14-day weather report is for sun and warmth.
We look away from the smiling, drinking trio and focus in on Josh and Stephen.

Josh: I’m going to get some juice.

Stephen: Me, too.

They race to the patio, equal. Josh is 1 year older than Stephen but Stephen, at 12, is bigger and looks older. They both see Sid and rush to greet him.

Sid: Hey guys…

Stephen: Sid, you’re back…

Josh: Sid!!! You were in a war?

Stephen: Afganesten(sic), dad told you not to ask about it.

Sid looks and smiles at Jim. Jim shrugs without looking up from the BBQ. Sid looks back over his shoulder and Lacy smiles, nods.

Sid: Yeah I went to Afghanistan. It’s war, that’s right.

Josh: You have a gun?

Sid: I had one, yes.

Stephen: Did you kill anyone?

Josh elbows Stephen in remind and Stephen blushes and gets a plate and dishes out some salad, turning from Sid.

(Neil Young’s #10, Time Fades Away)

(In Afghanistan) Sid remembers bunkers, playing sports, cleaning his rifle, checking his field gear, the green and black patch on his Kevlar, thick with the embroidered magnet and the pile of shit. Sid Hart, the shit magnet. In some barracks we see that patch being sewn on by giggling soldiers in their t-shirts and boxers. We see Sid getting shot at in various circumstances dozens of times, from an old Afghan woman’s hut to inspecting donkeys. Lastly, we see Sid shooting into an Afghan house, a woman crying and bloody stumbles out and falls to the ground. It’s silent.

Sid: I think I did kill someone, but it was an accident and I can’t sleep because of it. Were you guys playing war over there?

Josh: Oh. Was it a bad guy you killed?

Sid: No. No, I made a mistake…

Lacy interrupts with beverages and some hastily cut cheese.

Lacy: Have a snack, everyone!

Jim: Dinner’s nearly done, guys.

Josh and Stephen look at each other, then back to Sid.

Josh: We weren’t playing war, we were playing ‘sing-tag’. It’s like tag and if you get hit you have to sing a song.

Stephen: Yeah and it has to be loud, and a popular song we know. Dad sings old stuff and it sucks.

Sid: Is that right, Jim?

Jim: Yeah, the boys don’t like Neil Young…

Lacy: Maybe they would like it if you didn’t sing it.

Sid chuckles and puts down his beer. He stands up and addresses the boys, Josh and Stephen.

Sid: Let’s play this game, guys.

Stephen: Oh. You can’t play, Sid.

Josh: Yeah, sorry.

Sid: What? Why not?

Josh: Because you have killed.

Stephen: Yes, you do not respect the fleeting beauty that is life.

Sid: What?

Josh: You see yourself apart, separate from everything. This is why you shall live this life again, repeating mistakes until you learn that the defining moment is but yours to define.

Sid stares wide-eyed and drops his beer, it breaks in silence as Josh and Stephen slowly pose and morph into Siddhartha and Govinda; their clothes remain the same. Josh is Govinda, standing with his right arm up, bent at the elbow, tucked tight and only his index and middle finger, palm forward, extending from his closed fist.
Stephen is Siddhartha and is sitting cross-legged, silent, looking at Sid and smiling. Sid keeps staring, wide-eyed and motionless but for the tears streaming down his face.
Our focus shifts to Jim and Lacy, who hug and kiss in the foreground and hold the embrace.

Lacy: Do you think that Sid would be a good father?

Jim: Yes. I think he already is.

Lacy: I think so, too.

Jim: I love you.

Lacy: Good. I love you.

We pull back and reveal the entire back-yard. Everyone is laughing.


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