Ann’s Friends


throw-a-kiss-to-the-sea painting by Nolan Winkler

ANN’S FRIENDS: a screenplay for a short movie

The film begins in black and white.

Dusk. The exterior of a small café seen from across a two-lane street in a commercial district of a city. A few cars go by in the foreground.

The camera tracks closer as Jon, a middle-aged man wearing a long coat, arrives at the front door of the café and goes in. The camera holds on the closing door as the name JON appears in the lower right hand corner of the frame and remains for five seconds as the scene slowly dissolves to the interior of the café where Jon takes off his coat and sits down at a small table with a wood-paneled wall behind him.

The film slowly changes from black and white to color.

Jon’s long-sleeved shirt becomes rose-colored. A waitress brings Jon an espresso in a small black cup on a red saucer. Jon nods his thanks, takes a sip of the coffee, and looks into the eye of the camera.

Jon: I was crazy about Lisa. I felt so good being with her. We’d been madly in love for eleven months and I was just about to ask her to marry me when everything fell apart.

Dissolve to Lisa framed exactly as Jon was framed. An attractive middle-aged woman, she is wearing a black dress, her hair falling to her shoulders. She is sitting on a small sofa in a living room with a colorful abstract painting on the wall behind her. The name LISA appears in the lower right hand corner of the frame and remains for five seconds before slowly dissolving.

Lisa: Jon and I were involved for a few months, but it was painfully obvious that he preferred younger women. (looks away for a moment before returning her gaze to the camera) He was a decent lover and I think he genuinely liked me, but whenever we went out, he couldn’t keep his eyes off other women, younger women especially, and after a while I just… I couldn’t stand it.

Dissolve to Carol framed exactly as Jon and Lisa were framed. Considerably younger than Jon or Lisa, Carol is sitting on a park bench. She is wearing a summery dress, her hair in a ponytail. We hear the sounds of children playing nearby as the name CAROL appears in the lower right hand corner of the frame and remains for five seconds before dissolving.

Carol: I met Jon at a party at Ann’s studio. (turns to observe the children before returning her gaze to the camera) Ann is my very best friend. She’s a painter. Does mostly abstracts. Gorgeous things. She loves turquoise and green and magenta. Jon was at the party with Lisa and he was so crazy in love with her it never entered my mind he might be interested in me. You know… romantically. And he wasn’t. Nor was I particularly interested in him that way either. Which is why I was so surprised by what happened when Ann introduced us. Jon had his arm around Lisa, gazing at her like she was some sort of miracle, and suddenly she pushes him toward me and says, ‘Here you go, Jon. Get her number. She’s just what you’ve been looking for, isn’t she?’ And poor Jon was stunned and embarrassed and says to her, ‘No, darling, you’re what I want.’ And Lisa smiles this vicious smile and says, ‘Come on now. Get her number. You know you want it.’

Dissolve to Jon in the café.

Jon: (muses for a moment) I was upset, of course, but I didn’t think it was anything serious because we were getting along so well and there had been a few other times when she’d gotten mad at me for no apparent reason, at least not apparent to me, and nothing had come of those episodes, so when we were driving away from Ann’s, I said, ‘Shall we go to my place?’ and she gave me this hateful look and said, ‘Just take me home. I never want to see you again.’ And I… I couldn’t believe it. I had the ring in my pocket, the ring I was going to give her when she said Yes after we made love, but we never made love again because she wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t tell me what had changed for her.

Dissolve to Lisa in her living room.

Lisa: Oh he pretended to be upset, but I knew he wanted her. He called me a few times after that, begging me to meet with him, saying he loved me, which, of course, only meant things weren’t working out with Carol, so…

Dissolve to Jon in the café.

Jon: I called her every day for the next two weeks and went by her place every couple of days to leave notes and flowers. I couldn’t believe this was happening. We were so in love, so open to each other, and then… nothing. Made no sense to me and seemed so wrong and… I thought I was going insane.

Dissolve to Carol on the park bench.

Carol: About a month after Ann’s party, out of the blue, my boyfriend Harry told me he’d met somebody else and wanted me to move out of our apartment as soon as I could. We’d been together for three years. As far as I was concerned we were married. We were planning to have a baby and then a wedding, or a wedding and then the baby, and then bam… he tells me to move out. So I did. I moved in with Ann and lay on her sofa for a month. Could hardly move. If Ann hadn’t made me eat, I’d have starved to death.

Dissolve to Jon in the café.

Jon: I think it was about two months after Lisa ended things. (muses) Yeah. Two months. And I was in this very café trying to regain some semblance of sanity, when Ann came in with Carol and the three of us shared a table. Ann said she’d heard I’d broken up with Lisa, and I said, ‘Just so you know, she broke up with me. I sure didn’t see it coming.’ And Carol looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, that just happened to me, too. Didn’t see it coming. Feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.’

Dissolve to Carol on the park bench.

Carol: And he nodded and said, ‘No time to brace yourself for impact.’ And then Ann left, and Jon and I stayed on talking, and it really helped me to talk about what had happened with Harry and how wrecked I was and… Jon’s a great listener, you know, but… I didn’t particularly want to see him again. I liked him, but… he’s twenty years older than I am and…

Dissolve to Jon in the café.

Jon: I liked Carol. What’s not to like? She’s funny and smart and sexy, but she’s twenty years younger than I am and I was never interested in younger women. I’ve always preferred women my own age or a little older. Like Lisa. So when Carol and I said goodbye that day, I didn’t get her number and she didn’t ask for mine.

Dissolve to Carol on the park bench.

Carol: A couple weeks later, I went with Ann to a poetry reading at a bookstore and it turned out Jon was one of the three poets reading. He was so glad we came because almost everybody in the audience had come to see the other poets. He gave me a hug and looked into my eyes and said, ‘I can see you’re getting over him. Good for you.’ And then he got up in front of the audience and read his poems, which I thought was so brave of him, and I just loved his poems. One of them has a line that goes, ‘In the wreckage of his life he found a picture of himself as a happy boy dancing on the beach, and remembering the feeling of his dance, he began his reconstruction.’

Dissolve to Jon in the cafe.

Jon: The next day, Carol called me and asked if I’d like to go out for Mexican food. I’d been craving enchiladas and I was so grateful to her and Ann for coming to my poetry reading, I met her for Mexican and everything blossomed from that.

Dissolve to Carol on the park bench.

Carol: Now here we are nine years later with two kids. Tony is eight and Bea is six. (turns to look in the direction of the playground) So two weeks ago, Jon and I left the kids with my folks and went to the coast for a romantic getaway, and we were walking on the beach on a beautiful morning, when who should come walking toward us, but Lisa and another woman.

Dissolve to Lisa in her living room.

Lisa: Carol looked fine. Quite a bit fatter than when Jon was ogling her at Ann’s party, but healthy, you know. Robust. But he looked dreadful. Haggard and beaten down, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s what you wanted. A younger woman. Ran you ragged, didn’t she?’ I wasn’t going to say hello, but Carol called out to me, so we had to stop and talk. Jon hardly said a word. He kept trying to make eye contact with me, but I refused to look at him. I imagine he wants to have an affair with me. Sad old man.

Dissolve to Carol as she rises from the park bench to greet Jon as he comes into the frame. Their embrace is long and heartfelt. Now they sit down together on the bench, holding hands. A moment passes and they are joined by an eight-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, the boy squeezing in between Jon and Carol on the bench, the girl sitting on Jon’s lap, the four of them gazing at the camera as we slowly dissolve to darkness.


Todd’s Mystery Music Box

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