The Paper Route

A teenager about to turn 16 makes a discovery that could be his ticket out of his hellish small town life, but it means leaving his younger brother behind.

It's 1964. Paul Lackey, 15, spends his days trying to survive his harsh home life while watching out for his brother Brian, 11.

Paul has what looks to be a small problem – a paper route, and a customer who won’t pay his bill. But Paul’s problem isn’t so simple. His unemployed father makes his children pay rent when they reach 15. If they can't, he kicks them out.

Paul’s paper route is his only way to pay his father, and Paul is behind in his rent. Paul has four days -- until he turns 16 -- to raise the money or be kicked out.

Paul’s delinquent customer is Lester. Everyone in town knows Lester is a menace – he fires his rifle at neighbors for fun, keeps a drunken, mean-tempered monkey chained to a tree in his yard, and plants home-made nitro bombs around the neighborhood. It would be easier to collect from the Wicked Witch of the West.

Paul tries anyway, and his efforts lead to a series of conflicts with Lester. With help from Brian, his girlfriend, Barb, and an odd collection of locals, Paul stands up to his nemesis -- and in the process, wins from Lester a valuable old coin, easily worth enough to pay Paul's rent, but which also could be Paul's ticket out of town.

Paul finds a way to sell the coin, but now has to make a decision: if he leaves on his own terms, he’ll not only have to stand up to his father, he’ll have to make the even harder choice of whether to leave Brian in the clutches of their abusive father.

A dark coming-of-age story, The Paper Route has taken Grand or First Prize in five screenwriting contests and placed highly in over thirty contests, and was a semifinalist (top 30 scripts out of over 5000 entered) in this year's Nicholl contest. The Paper Route ranks in the top five on's list of contest winners.

Written by:
Author Bio:
I have written several scripts set in southern Indiana where I grew up. Two of them, VISIONS and THE PAPER ROUTE, have been semifinalists in the Nicholl competition. VISIONS was previously optioned by Michael Grais. I also have a podcast, "Tales from Southern Indiana", that features stories of small town life in the same vein of many of my screenplays. You can listen to this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and many more sites.

Contest Results:
PAGE International (First Place, Drama Category (2004)) [2004]
ScreenCraft Fellowship (Semifinalist) [2018]
NOVA Film Fest (Finalist, (2015)) [2019]
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