In Between The River

Katie and her brother Kyle think their unique life is normal but their dad hides a devious secret that separates the family and influences their fates. Loosely based on the writer's formative years.

The first act features the Jones' family moving to different towns with different cars (4 total) and the kid’s age sets the time frame. Donald, the self absorbed patriarch, loses his job or finds new ones (a hint) Judy, the traditional matriarch, buys his excuses but wonders why they keep moving. Kyle the oldest hates it the most and is by far the most sensitive of the family. Katie, a year younger than her brother, is an athletic dreamer and for her it offers adventure. Their dialogue sets their personalities and the stage for future conflict.

As the kids become Tweens, two decisive events drive a wedge of mistrust between Kyle and Katie. The first is a sledding accident and the second is the disappearance of Donald when he fails to return from a fishing trip. The tension affects the dynamic with Judy on edge, and Katie and Kyle reacting in different ways to the possibility their father is dead. Six months later, Donald calls and admits to a nervous breakdown. Judy accepts him back but with conditions and the band plays on.

Back together after another move, Katie participates in sports to deal with Kyle ignoring her for his friends. The move backfires on Kyle when Donald and Judy go to Katie’s games and become fans. Finally, Donald takes Kyle on a camping trip but when they return, Kyle is moody and avoids everyone. Katie tries to find out why but Kyle shuts her out and Donald tells her Kyle’s in a rebellious puberty phase. Katie moves on and excels in sports until Donald talks the family into a big city move.

The city move is a disaster as Kyle drops out of school and Katie gets kicked off the team her senior year by a controlling coach who lies about the circumstances. Barbara (Katie’s closet crush) tapes the truth but makes Katie promise not to use it. When Donald hears the tape he demands Katie turn it in but she destroys it. Then Katie gives Barbara and friends a ride to a party and backs into the car of a popular football player, who wants to settle with no police then fixes other dents in his car. A court case ensues and the Judge rules against Donald and Katie. Donald breaks and decides to shoot the judge but Judy, Kyle and Katie pull together, find him before he attempts it and convince him to leave his stressful job

The breaking point arrives when Donald is severely beaten after cruising a young gang oriented male. (Katie and Judy think it's a mugging). While Judy discusses end of life with the doctor, Kyle reveals the truth to Katie about his rebellion. Not sure how to handle the information, Katie breaks her promise to Kyle by telling Judy that Donald sexually abused Kyle and many others. Judy is devastated which also devastates an embarrassed Kyle who is at his lowest point and commits suicide after Katie returns to college. Faced with the consequences of her decision, Katie realizes they’re all stuck in between the river due to Donald's lies and action. In the end, Katie fights back to the surface instead of drowning from remorse and vows to live a positive, ethical life in honor of her brother.

Script Excerpt
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Author Bio:
When my high school drama teacher suggested I write instead of act because I changed the lines to get a laugh, I took her advice. However, back in the eighties, it was hard to get a screenplay read so I took a break to gain true life experience by writing a community golf column, fighting wildfires, trying every sport imaginable, working in an ER, playing professional drums and oil painting until I realized what was missing and that was my original screenwriting passion, so I started again and realized, I'm here to stay.

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Contest Results:
Filmmatic Drama (Finalist) [2019]
Scriptapalooza Features/Shorts (Quarterfinalist) [2019]
StoryPros International (Quarterfinalist, newest/favorite version) [2020]
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