Archive for category Screenplays

Drill

[This was a collaborative work with Erica Ricardo. To find out more about Erica Ricardo, visit here and here]

INT. PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE – DAY

A small spartan medical examination room, ugly but clean: sink, desk, rolling chair at the desk, shitty folding chair next to it. Exam table, drop ceiling. Poster of human anatomy. Skull and brain in cross-section. The open window looks out on Chicago’s North Side. Periodically we hear a gutteral, indistinct NOISE from downstairs.

The psychiatrist LINDA (40) sits at the desk with a giant to-go cup of coffee. When she’s not writing or talking she takes long sucking pulls from it. GOPHER (23) sits in the folding chair. She faces the wall, he faces the room, and neither quite faces the other.

                      LINDA

So! What brings you in here today?

                     GOPHER

I have hand tremors. Had them since

I was a kid. My therapist said if I

took beta blockers it might stop.

Not the anxiety but the physical

response.

She stares at his hands for a long time. They fidget, try to hide, and then play dead.

                     LINDA

Where do you work. Do you work?

                     GOPHER

I work at a coffeeshop. That’s why

I want the beta blockers. Cus I

have to use my hands. And people

will be watching.

                     LINDA

People will be watching…

She writes this down.

                     GOPHER

When people are looking at me I

fear that my hands will tremble and

then that makes them tremble.

                     LINDA

Are you in school?

                     GOPHER

I graduated.

                     LINDA

What did you study?

                     GOPHER

Philosophy.

                     LINDA

Philosophy …

She writes this down, too.

                     GOPHER

… and that might be part of the

problem. That I think too much.

                     LINDA

How is thinking a problem?

The SOUND from downstairs suddenly much louder. The next few lines, they’ll have to SHOUT.

                     GOPHER

Do you hear that tuba player?

Gopher cuts Linda off, indicates floor.

                     GOPHER (CONT’D)

It’s like that tuba player. When

he’s playing his scales, he can’t

think about the note. Otherwise he

can’t play it.

                     LINDA

Yes, those drills have been going

for weeks now.

The NOISE suddenly stops.

                     GOPHER

When they’re practicing drills or

whatever, they can’t think too

much. Otherwise they can’t act.

                     LINDA

Do you ever have visual or auditory

hallucinations? Do you ever hear things

other people don’t hear?

                     GOPHER

I did when I used drugs.

                     LINDA

Marijuana?

                     GOPHER

The occasional psychedelic.

She writes this down.

                     LINDA

Psychedelics can cause

hallucinations. So can flashbacks.

                     GOPHER

Heh, but do those really happen?

Linda looks up, deadly serious.

                     LINDA

They do.

                     GOPHER

What should I do if I get a, um,

flashback?

                     LINDA

I suggest you find a safe place.

Maybe some good people to be

around. Wait it out.

                     GOPHER

So basically the what I did the

first time.

                     LINDA

Have you ever been suicidal?

                     GOPHER

Mmm, nope. Never.

Linda’s pen poised but not moving.

                     LINDA

Really?

                     GOPHER

Really.

Beat. Gopher gives a tight-lipped smile.

                     LINDA

What else are you seeing a

therapist for?

                     GOPHER

Existential … issues.

                     LINDA

Such as?

                     GOPHER

How to live a worthwhile life.

                     LINDA

 Making any progress?

                     GOPHER

Unclear. Right now I’m a highly

trained individual, utterly useless

to society…

                     LINDA

…. hence working at a coffeeshop…

                     GOPHER

… right. But, figuring out what is a worthwhile

life is itself- for now- a worthwhile pursuit.

                      LINDA

Have you ever been depressed?

She takes an especially long gulp of coffee.

                     GOPHER

Yes.

                     LINDA

Depressed how? What did you do?

                     GOPHER

Not much!

She writes this down.

                     GOPHER (CONT’D)

Uh. I didn’t leave the room. Slept

a lot. Like 13 hours a day. Every

day seemed to get away.

                     LINDA

You were withdrawn.

                     GOPHER

Yes.

                     LINDA

I’ll write you a prescription for

Xanax.

                     GOPHER

I don’t need a prescription for

Xanax.

                     LINDA

Xanax will help your anxiety. It’ll

keep you from getting down.

                     GOPHER

Oh, I just drink St. John’s wort

tea.

                     LINDA

If St. John’s wort is ingested with

certain foods it can lead to high

blood pressure. How much do you

know about it?

                     GOPHER

I talk to my herbalist. He also

taught me the do-nothing technique.

He sets his hand out in front of himself and freezes. His

hand is still, then trembles. He grips his knees.

                     GOPHER (CONT’D)

That’s basically it. You do it for

as long as you can.

                     LINDA

Any allergies?

                     GOPHER

No. I’ve been tested.

                     LINDA

Most allergy tests are scams. They

prick you and charge a thousand

dollars. By and large they’re not

accepted by Western medicine.

                     GOPHER

Really!

                     LINDA

I recommend a food-elimination

diet. Pick out a few

things–lactose, gluten, what have

you–remove them one at a time, and

watch how your body reacts. You can

do that for free.

                     GOPHER

Wow. Ok.

She gets out a prescription pad and scrawls.

                     LINDA

Meanwhile, here’s a prescription

for beta blockers and Xanax.

                     GOPHER

I don’t want a–

On Linda’s LOOK.

                     GOPHER (CONT’D)

I’ll hang onto it.

                     LINDA

Take the beta blockers 15 to 20

minutes before work or as needed.

She TEARS off the prescription and hands it to him. The NOISE from downstairs returns even louder than before.

                     GOPHER

Alright doc. Thanks a lot!

                     LINDA

It’s been a pleasure!

                     GOPHER

What?

                     LINDA

Pleasure!

                     GOPHER

Likewise!

They shake hands.

SMASH CUT TO INT. ELEVATOR – 1 MINUTE LATER

Gopher on the elevator going down, rocking on his heels, scrip in hand. Elevator stops on the floor below. A CONSTRUCTION WORKER (32) with a hugely oversized drill and a TUBA PLAYER (18) in a formal black dress enter. Gopher shakes his head. Squints his eyes shut. Opens them. They’re both still there. The construction worker GRUNTS impatiently, and hits the “L” button several times. The tuba player looks back at Gopher like, “what’s this guy’s deal?” Gopher smiles. Elevator doors close.

BLACK

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