"Eleven Thousand Virgins" 6-page sample

by Aniků J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird   [return to synopses]

                    "ELEVEN THOUSAND VIRGINS"

                          Screenplay By

                  Aniků J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird

                                    Registered WGAw
                                    © Aniků J. Bartos &
                                      Alan C. Baird
                                    e: HotTip [at] Gmail.com
                                    w: www.9TimeZones.com

. . . EXT. NAPA VALLEY FIELD - DAWN Thirtyish, long-haired, bearded ALEX helps unfold a large expanse of nylon material which will eventually grow into a hot-air balloon. LARS HOLSTRUM, a camera around his neck, also helps; RICK SHEEHAN, a balloon pilot, directs the logistics. NICOLE BOISVERT hugs Alex, then hesitantly plucks at a mass of nylon sitting on the ground in front of her. REVEREND CLYDE HIXSON, a Baptist preacher, stands well away from the hubbub, cradling a well-worn Bible. RICK Nicole, walk the envelope out downwind. LARS (Teutonic accent) Are you certain this balloon will hold all of us, Rick? RICK (drily chuckling) Last week, I took up a hefty group of five Weight Watchers. Lars, Nicole and Alex join his LAUGH somewhat nervously. Rev. Clyde's eyes venture skyward as his lips move slightly. It's threatening to rain. Rick sets up an industrial-sized, gasoline-powered fan next to an elaborately woven wicker basket that's large enough for six. Propane tanks and flexible tubes line the basket, culminating at the apex, which supports a huge stainless steel burner. Five feet away, Rick pull-starts the FAN, and directs Lars to suspend a fold of nylon in front of it. The blowing air gets under the fold of nylon, and a nylon bubble slowly expands. MONTAGE - JUMP CUTS - CONTINUOUS Throughout this scene, we will jump-cut to compress time a bit; the largest of these jumps will only be five minutes or thereabouts. As Rev. Clyde stands apart, everyone else lends a hand in stretching out the nylon, running inside the growing nylon bubble to check for rips in the envelope, and clowning around inside the circus-tent-like structure that's growing by leaps and bounds. It's huge, it's colossal; it's certainly bigger than a breadbox. Rick finally orchestrates everyone out of the envelope, and has them help him tip the woven basket on its side. He STOPS the fan, and FIRES UP the burner; while the fan was loud, this burner is deafening. The effect is awesome, as the flame jumps out sideways a good five or six feet; it's hot blue on the underside of the flame, shading away to yellow on the top. Everyone stands back, suitably impressed. Another ten minutes pass in JUMP CUTS, while the burner heats the air inside the envelope. As the nylon takes shape, it gradually forms into a Gothic cathedral. The balloon/cathedral swells on its side and slowly drifts upright, standing easily eight stories tall. Rick keeps the burner pointed inside the nylon opening, letting the woven basket be pulled up from its side by the growing lift in the balloon. ANGLE ON ALEX AND LARS They stand at some distance from the balloon and the ROAR of the burner. Rev. Clyde stands an equal distance on the other side. LARS (indicates Rev. Clyde) Where did you find that guy? RICK We set the whole thing up over the phone. I guess not too many preachers are willing to go up in a balloon to perform a wedding. Nicole joins them, rubbing her ears from the noise. NICOLE (French accent) I asked the minister to keep it short. Alex bends over to pick up two bottles of MoŽt champagne, and the group heads toward the balloon. ALEX Since you can't control the direction of these monsters, you take along two bottles of champagne - one to apologize to the farmer when you land in his field, and one to drink while you wait for your ground crew to pick you up! Everyone LAUGHS as they walk, but the DIN of the burner quickly drowns them out. The basket, with Rick in it, is finally in an upright position again - and Rick nervously checks the clouds. He shuts off the burner, and our ears ring from the sudden SILENCE. RICK (shouting) Can everyone still hear? Lars? LARS (holding his ears) I think I've gone blind. LAUGHTER all around. Rick points up at the sky. RICK The weather's not cooperating. We won't be able to go free-flying today. GROANS from everyone except the good Reverend. He starts walking toward his car. RICK (continuing) But... we can get you married in a balloon today, if you don't mind bobbing at the end of a hundred-foot rope tether. ALEX (to Nicole) Today's your birthday... NICOLE (to Alex) ...and we wanted to do it on the year's shortest day... ALEX (to Rick) ...so let's go for it! A CHEER from everyone - except Rev. Clyde, who looks disapprovingly over his shoulder, then walks glumly back to the group. Rick directs everyone to climb into the basket, as he arranges the tether rope. RICK Now we have to build up some lift. Rick pulls on the chain that fires up the burner with a mighty ROAR. JUMP CUT - A FEW MINUTES LATER Rick is still yanking on the burner chain as he leans over to drop a burlap bag of sand ballast outside the basket. The basket shudders and rises a few inches. Rick motions everyone to heave a sandbag over the side, and as they do, the balloon/cathedral rises smoothly into the damp morning air. When the balloon is bobbing gracefully at the end of the tether rope, Rick releases the burner chain. The SILENCE and the fog-shrouded view of the Napa Valley are almost mystical. RICK It's all yours, Reverend Clyde. REV. That's Reverend Hixson to you. (gathering himself) In the beginning was the Word, and... The Reverend CONTINUES in this vein, reading from his Bible in a Fundamentalist hellfire-and-damnation theme. Alex and Nicole slowly, discreetly snatch looks of incredulity at each other, with raised eyebrows, shrugged shoulders, etc. Lars stops snapping pictures to get a load of this weirdo. LARS (whispers to Alex) I thought we were getting the version without the extended drum solo. Alex nearly loses it, smothering a laugh into a COUGH. The Reverend is oblivious to everyone's smirks. Lars goes back to taking pictures. JUMP CUT - A FEW MINUTES LATER The balloon is CREAKING, and seems to be settling somewhat - the once-taut tether rope hangs with several feet of slack in a looping curve, and Rick checks it nervously every few seconds. Finally, he gets up the nerve to interrupt the Reverend's RANT: RICK I'm sorry folks, but we're losing altitude, and I have to fire up the burner again. The Reverend gives Rick a disdainful look, but closes his Bible with his finger in it to mark the spot. Alex and Nicole stifle grins as Rick pulls the burner chain again - the burner THUNDERS. Alex takes a picture out of his pocket to show to Lars - on the back are the words "WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT - TIMES SQUARE ELECTRONIC BILLBOARD - NIGHT." He turns the picture over, and sure enough, there's the billboard in stark black and white, with the glittering lights of New York City providing a backdrop. In letters that must have been four feet high in the original are spelled the words "AFTER SIX YEARS OF LIVING IN SIN, ALEX AND NICOLE FINALLY TIE THE KNOT!" Nicole and Alex hug and rub each other's back, while Lars beams hugely and gives a thumbs-up sign. Lars peers around them to glance at the Reverend, who is facing away from the group. Lars holds his hands in front of him like he's wringing out an imaginary washcloth. Yep, agree Alex and Nicole, he's one of the more twisted human beings they've ever met. Everyone silently laughs under the burner's ROAR, including Rick, who has eavesdropped this visual interchange. The Reverend continues to look out over the fields, ever oblivious. JUMP CUT - YET ANOTHER FEW MINUTES LATER The tether is taut, the burner is OFF, and the Reverend is AT IT AGAIN. He sounds like he's in the middle of Leviticus, headed straight for Deuteronomy. He's a man with a mission, he's on a roll, and he's wailing, so to speak - he sees it as his job to make sure these irreverent heathens are good and married, by God. The Reverend is in the Zone: he's Jimi Hendrix with an electric guitar, he's Wayne Gretzky with a hockey puck, he's Steven Spielberg with a Holocaust. Everyone else in the balloon is marking time, just waiting for their cues. JUMP CUT - STILL ANOTHER FEW MINUTES LATER Rick pulls and tugs at his collar - he looks hot and confined, even though he's wearing a loose teeshirt on a cool day. He tries throwing a sandbag overboard in the middle of the Reverend's SPIEL, to no avail. The tether droops loosely. The Reverend is in a world of his own - he's surprised only when the ROAR of the burner interrupts him in mid-scripture. His mouth continues moving for a few seconds as he looks up at the burner, then accusingly at Rick. Rick avoids his gaze, and stubbornly holds onto the burner chain. JUMP CUT - A FINAL FEW MINUTES LATER This is a WIDER SHOT of the balloon basket; the burner's OFF, and if we look closely, we see what seems to be a couple of legs dangling below the far side of the basket. Everyone is leaning over that side. CLOSER ANGLE - LOOKING DOWN OUT OF THE BASKET The Reverend's white knuckles are barely gripping onto the outside edge of the basket, and Alex is holding the Bible over his knuckles, threatening to give them a sharp rap: ALEX Say the words, Reverend. REV. (terrified, but grudging nonetheless) Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? ALEX (smiles at Nicole) I do. REV. Do you take this... (chokes it out) ...man... to be your lawfully wedded husband? NICOLE (smiles at Alex) I do. REV. I now pronounce you husband and wife. (at the end of his patience) Will you please get me back inside the basket now? As the ceremony has been taking place, Lars has been lowering the balloon by pulling on the tether rope and coiling it outside the basket. Rick now grabs onto the rope with Lars, nods to Alex, and Alex SMACKS the Bible down onto the Reverend's knuckles. With a SCREAM, the Reverend lets go of the basket. Since the basket has been lowered to within a few feet of the ground, he merely stumbles backwards, unharmed. The balloon, however, shoots dramatically upward from the loss of his weight, as Lars and Rick release the tether rope. Alex drops a check over the side, and it flutters madly in the strong, WHOOSHING updraft of air. ALEX There's your fee, Reverend. ANGLE ON REVEREND The Reverend comically chases the swooping, gliding check as it descends to the field. While he runs, he breathlessly yells upward: REV. What about my Bible? ANGLE ON BASKET Lars breaks open the champagne for a smiling Rick, Nicole and Alex. Accepting a glass of bubbly from Lars, Alex holds the Bible over the side of the basket between his thumb and index finger, then negligently drops it. . . .

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