Yeah, I know... this is going up late. I also haven't posted anything to this blog all week. The day job has been quite the thorn in my side lately, and it's been difficult to find time to write anything at all. But I vowed to myself that I'd finish at least one of these one word scripts a week, and now that I'm nearly a fifth of the way there I don't want to lose my momentum. The word for this week was root. There were a lot of things I could have written about, but this story just crept into my brain and I decided to run with it. I'm not really sure how well I pulled this off. The use of pictures in the panels might backfire from an artistic standpoint (frames within a frame, if you will), but I kind of like the story, and I like the fact that I was able to incorporate a couple of splash pages as well.
Panel 1. A man named Boyd is sitting at a desk in a room in his home. The room has been converted into a personal office. Boyd has pulled the chair he is sitting in very close to the desk, and is hunched and slouching in it, so all we can see of him is from the middle of his chest upwards. He’s looking down at a picture he is holding in one of his hands. In his other hand is a bottle of whiskey. There is a glass of it that has spilled onto the desk. Behind Boyd, on the wall, is a shelf or case displaying a number of framed pictures. There are also plaques and framed documents (newspaper articles, certificates, etc.) hung up on the wall.
It’s who I am. I can’t change it.
Panel 2. We’re looking at one of the framed pictures on the shelf. It is a picture of Boyd as a young boy, around 13 or so. He is with his father in the picture. His father is dressed in the uniform of an officer of the law--a sheriff. The father is massive in comparison to Boyd, and has a bit of a gut. He’s wearing large mirrored glasses and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat.
My daddy was a lawman—one of the best this county ever had.
Panel 3. Another framed picture on the shelf. Boyd is an infant in this picture, and is being held by his father. His father is younger and thinner in the picture, dressed in a police uniform and excited to start his career in law enforcement. He’s shaking hands with an older man, Boyd’s grandfather, dressed in the same sheriff uniform that the father was wearing in Panel 2. Boyd’s grandfather appears very worn down physically, although there’s pride in his eyes at his son’s accomplishment.
His daddy was a lawman before him. It’s been that way for generations. Never had much of a choice. I had to do the same.
Panel 4. Boyd is eyeing the bottle of whiskey he’s holding in his hands. The glass of whiskey that spilled is near.
Had to be a drinker too.
Panel 5. Boyd takes a deep slug of whiskey straight from the bottle.
The drinkin’ I’m good at. The law…
Panel 1. We’re looking at one of the framed newspaper articles hanging on the wall. The headline reads “Culver trumps Boyd” with a picture of a slick, clean-cut man with a 100-watt smile beaming out at us.
Not so much.
Panel 2. Another newspaper article. This time the headline reads “Deputy Boyd in traffic accident” with a picture of a police cruiser wrapped around a telephone pole, and Boyd sitting on the curb nearby with his head in his hands.
Never really took the time to put two and two together. Those things don’t mix.
Panel 3. A final newspaper article. This one is much smaller, it is dwarfed by the frame, and the headline reads “Deputy Fired”. There is no picture.
So when I lost my position as deputy sheriff I wasn’t ready to blame myself. I decided to blame her instead.
Panel 4. We finally see the picture that Boyd is holding in his hand. It is a picture of his wife, a beautiful woman named Sally. She is smiling openly at the camera, pleased and comfortable with having her picture taken.
Panel 1. Another framed picture on the shelf. In this one, Boyd and Sally are high school kids dressed in clothing for their senior Prom. Boyd is wearing a tuxedo that doesn’t fit him very well with a frilly shirt and a large bowtie, and he’s somewhat angular and gangly in it. Sally is wearing a dress that fits her much better, and she’s a vision.
Prettiest thing I ever saw. Fell in love with her and it stuck. She was my high school sweetheart and I married her first chance I got--just like my daddy did with momma, and his daddy before that.
Panel 2. We’re looking at another framed picture on the shelf. In this one Boyd and his pregnant wife Sally are looking at cribs in a store. They’re holding hands and very much in love. Sally has a slightly swollen belly.
I loved her unconditionally. She could do no wrong in my eyes.
Panel 3. Boyd is taking another bitter slug of whiskey.
I didn’t even blame her after the first miscarriage. Not even when we found out she’d never be able to bear children. Never give me my own son.
Panel 4. Another framed picture on the shelf. This is a picture of Boyd and Sally sitting together in a posed “Sears-style” shot. They’re not smiling very convincingly, don’t seem happy at all, and each of them is looking not at the camera, but at some distant point off in space.
I guess that’s where it started to fall apart.
Panel 5. Another framed picture on the shelf. Boyd is a teenaged boy in this picture, and he’s with his father. There is a police cruiser in the photo, and its hood is open. Boyd and his father are both hunched over the open hood of the cruiser, examining the inner workings of the engine.
You see, I had no legacy. No wisdom to impart to my son like my daddy had to me, and his daddy had to him.
And that was a hard thing to live with. My daddy always told me that the strength of a family wasn’t in what you did, but what you left behind after you were gone. The stronger the roots, the stronger the family tree.
Panel 2. Another picture. Boyd is a young boy wearing a cowboy costume. He has a toy holster, six-shooter and a red cowboy hat with white stitching.
I wanted my son to be a lawman like his daddy and his grandpa and his great grandpa before that.
Panel 3. Boyd is holding the whiskey bottle out in front of him, looking at it as his eyes drift off into memory.
I wanted him to carry that tradition and pass it on to his own son someday. But that was never going to happen, because I’d never have a son to call my own.
Panel 4. Boyd is holding the whiskey bottle in the exact same way in this panel, only he’s somewhat younger now and less morose. He’s wearing his deputy uniform, but the shirt is partially tucked out and the uniform itself is wrinkled. The emotion he has now is one of fury. He’s looking past the bottle at Sally, and yelling angrily at the top of his lungs. Sally is yelling back at Boyd.
So I fell into the bottle, and I could never quite bring myself to climb out again.
Panel 5. Sally is pulling at Boyd’s arm, trying to get the bottle away from him.
Sally tried to help, god bless her.
Panel 1. Boyd is striking Sally.
But I didn’t want her help.
Panel 1. Boyd is crouched down next to Sally. Sally is on the ground, huddled up in a near fetal position, cradling her face. Boyd is trying to soothe her with his words, and he seems very distressed by what he’s done.
I regretted it the first time, and told her it’d never happen again--and she forgave me like any good woman would.
Panel 2. Boyd is gripping Sally by the shoulders, and he’s yelling vehemently into her face. Sally is very frightened by Boyd. This is taking place days or weeks after the first incident of abuse, so they should be dressed differently, but Sally still has remnants of bruising from Boyd’s first attack.
But we were fooling ourselves.
Panel 3. Boyd is in the bathroom of his house, hunched over the sink and staring at himself in the mirror. Vomit is clinging to his lips and bits of it are running down his chin. His eyes are bloodshot and bleary. His shirt is stained with vomit in a ring starting at his collar.
It went on like that. For longer than I care to remember. And I came to loathe what I’d become. I wasn’t like my daddy, or his daddy before him. I was something else. Something I could barely stand to look at.
Panel 4. We’re seeing Boyd back at his desk again. He is pouring the bottle of whiskey out on his desk.
I have plenty of regrets. Sally never deserved what I did to her, and maybe if I could have controlled my drinking I might have made a fine lawman sometime down the line.
Panel 5. The bottle of whiskey shatters on the hardwood floor of the office.
But the biggest regret I have.
Panel 1. Boyd has finally leaned back in his chair. He is gutshot, and blood is seeping from the wound in his stomach. His shoulders are slumped, and his hands have dropped to his sides. The broken glass of the bottle is underneath one of his hands. We see that the blood has flowed down onto the floor and leaked out from underneath the desk. It has made a tree shape on the hardwood floor as it spreads out away from him.
Is that I allowed my roots to wither and die.