Which is easier to write? Story or a screenplay? I’m not talking about the formatting and differences, just the creative freedom allowed. Seems to me screenplays have a lot more leeway in PoVs and jumping from scene to scene to skip the boring bits. Also, leeway in narration – How loosely should a writer break from the character PoV to insert his presence into the narration, perhaps just to explain certain things or make quick quip.
Lemme know what you think of the intro I’ve written below.
- 3 scene, breaks represented by a space (no transition, just break and start again somewhere else)
- One sudden change in PoV from intro character to main guy. I plan to play between the 2 PoVs later on.
- Random dialogue from sub-characters.
- Random insertions from a narration stand-point.
Too messy? If you don’t notice of the above, that means I’m doing something right. Cheers.
Doctor, Help me!
When old man Kingsley barged into the clinic complaining of bloody runs, the good doctor Prescott thought nothing about it. “Take these pills once in the morning and again at night,” he instructed. “And make sure to get plenty of water and rest.”
The old man looked at the one-liner written on his prescription and groaned. “But doctor, I ain’t feeling so good. It’s not just pissing shit, I feel something… something inside.” The old man lifted up his shirt to show his belly, a bloated lump of hairy fat.
The doctor was not amused. Kingsley had no money, not enough for a prescribed treatment anyway. An endoscopy just to find the problem would cost north of a thousand dollars. There was no way this whining drunkard reeking of piss could afford it.
“And oh, I got bit in my sleep,” Kingsley continued, paying no mind to the disdainful look Prescott was throwing him. He bent over in the creaking chair to roll up the end of a trouser leg. “Must be some damn rodent hiding in the pipes or something, I got it last year too, and…”
Prescott narrowed his eyes. Kingsley was not the type of patient he wanted hanging around. He was bad for regular business, the kind that paid for the convertible Porsche, and his French-Chic Riviera apartment on the Upper East Side. He needed to speak to Johnson about sending such patients here again. He interrupt the ramblings of the man with a cough.
“Ah…Nurse?” Prescott pushed down on the red button on his intercom. “Pencil in Mr Kingsley here for a follow up appointment.” He glanced at bleary face of the old man breathing into his face. “Make it say… next month?” He coughed as he tried not to retch from the sour fumes emitting from the man.
“Next month?” Kingsley sputtered. Fleshy palms covered in grim and snot slammed down on Prescott’s sterilised table. “I’ll be dead by then,” Kingsley pleaded as red-rimmed eyes stared back at the doctor. On his face, an unkempt carpet of scraggly hair bobbed along with his agitated breathing, giving the man the appearance of a savage red baboon.
“Calm down Kingsley,” Doctor Prescott muttered, reassuring the burly man. He looked down in disgust at the blackened nails scratching against his table and made a mental note to get it scrubbed. Gingerly picking up the prescription sheet squashed beneath Kingsley hand, he held it up to his face. “Trust me, these pills will clear up your belly nicely. You’ll be down sharing stories in the pub again in no time.”
Kingsley was not convinced. “But Doctor, I…”
“I’m the doctor here, so I suggest you listen to me.” Prescott said, sliding the prescription gently back in Kingsley’s hand. “I’ll update Doctor Johnson about your situation and see you again in a month.” In the back of his mind. he was hoping this angry giant will take his problems back to Johnson. That was where his kind belonged after all. He turned on his intercom again, cutting off Kingsley’s endless protest. “Send in my next patient please,” he ordered, hoping the vagabond would get the hint and go.
Kingsley sighed. Not overstaying your welcome was a lesson he had learned quickly from the angry barkeeps who bounced him from the pubs. They also taught him that nobody really gives a shit unless you got the money to pay for your booze. In the case of Doctor Prescott, he was just another barkeep with medicine as his booze. Kingsley got up and walked out of the room, the delicate piece of prescription crushed in his hand. Who knows, the good doctor might be right. Rude, but right.
“… Oh thank God he’s gone.”
Kingsley heard the voice exclaiming in mock relief as he stood behind the door, his hand still on the knob. “Thank God indeed doctor,” he muttered. This would be the last time he would bother Doctor Prescott again.
Down the brightly-lit hallways of the hospital, Kingsley was vaguely aware of the gawking as he shambled by, eyes shifting upwards at the disheveled beast. Somehow, the irrepressible need to judge dictated all forms of human behaviour.
He turned a corner, and saw a famous face wheeling by, the nurse behind quickly giving him a wide berth.
‘Nurse, who was that man, is he a patient here?”
“I’m not sure Miss Hilton.”
“If Peter is here filming another one of his monster shows, I’ll love to meet him.”
“I’ll find out right away miss.”
Tucked behind the private walls of this hospital, Kingsley caught a glimpse of the system enjoyed by a privileged few, the celebrities, trust-fund brigade and techies that kept this facility pumped with their silly cash. Away from drug-crazed addicts and whores that flooded the public clinics, Kingsley felt keenly out of place. He was surprised that Doc Johnson had sent him over.
“Pardon me nurse,” Kingsley said to a woman in white, visibly cursing her luck when the red-haired giant addressed her. “Do you know where I can get my pills? Doctor Prescott asked me to…”
The nurse clicked. “Take the stairs down to first.” She pointed down the corridor. “It’ll be on your right.” With that curt reply, she scuttled away before Kingsley could give his thanks.
“Stuck up bitch.” Kingsley continued along on his way, eager to get out of this place.
“That’ll be thirty-four seventy-five please.” The pharmacist said, sliding a plastic orange cylinder of pills through the hole. Kingsley was breathing so hard now, he was fogging up the glass, saving him from the look of irritation on the pharmacist’s face.
“What?” Kingsley blinked. “Ain’t my meds free?” He took out his healthcare card from one of his pockets and plastered it against the window. “Ma’am, if you’ll read this, it says here I’m entitled to free healthcare.”
The woman raised a side of her face, rolling her eyes with impatience. “Pills are free sir,” she mumbled. “That figure is just for the taxes and service.” She turned her register towards Kingsley to show him the breakdown.
“Six bucks for the bottle?” Kingsley exclaimed. “Hell, just wrap them up in a bag will ya.” Sticking his hands into the side-pockets of his pants, he pulled out his crumpled notes and a fistful of coins. “I have…” He squinted his eyes counting his money. “ Eight dollars and eighty-three cents. What would that get me?”
“Well, I could give you a week’s supply?” The pharmacist volunteered. “You can always come back for more.” The look on her face said she knew Kingsley was never coming back.
“Sounds good to me.” Kingsley was about to hand her his money when he felt the rumbling in his stomach. “How about five bucks?”
The sky was getting dark when Kingsley opened the doors to his home, a tiny dilapidated hut north of the East River. The street he trudged on to get home everyday had no name, existing just beyond the boundaries of the city limits. How the uptight urban-planners had missed this squalor, he will ever know. But for the old man at least, it was home.
Feeling the pain throbbing away inside his belly, he popped the entire pack of pills in his mouth, crunching them up with his few remaining teeth. He was indifferent to the nauseating bitter cloy that stuck to his tongue, but Kingsley found it difficult to swallow without chewing. Pills just felt so unnatural to him.
“To you Kingsley,” he said, lifting the bottle high. “Get well soon.” He took a massive swig to wash away the bitterness in his mouth, pulling back only when beer threatened to stream out of his nose. “Ahhh…that hit the spot” He stuck his tongue out and smacked his lips, feeling the chalky taste lingering. The thirst was coming back. “Why the hell not? He chuckled, “Might help with the pain.” He lifted the bottle again and swallowed, until bottle one stood empty.
The pharmacist at the dispensary had told him not to take the pills without food. But when it came to a choice between a sandwich and two bottles of bud, he made the obvious one. Hopefully, barley and malted wheat fell into the definition of food.
Balancing the other bottle on top of a upturned carton, he watched warily as its weight sunk the bottle into the damp cardboard, weakened by spilt drink only the night before. Aside from a derelict shelf that came with the house, all Kingsley had were boxes like these scattered around the house. They were his table, his bed and his pillow. Everything a man needs to live for another day.
Kingsley laid down on his cardboard mattress and tried to sleep, wincing away at the pain eating him from the inside. This was it for him, his lot in life. A straggler living in the illusion at the end of a bottle. If he was lucky, he might even dream of beer.