Westerly Point (2004)
By Eilis Mernagh.
We see A WIDE SHOT looking down at a huge, beautiful expanse of beach, in the very early morning of a summer day. The tide is out and the sand stretches out for miles away from shot, into a hazy horizon. A tiny black spot moves into frame from the bottom, moving in a haphazard way along the beach. It stops, wheels around and moves back towards a larger spot, which follows it at a much slower pace.
EX CU of a young man’s face: very early twenties, sun-tanned face,
and very blue eyes that look tired. His hand moves into frame, shading his eyes from the brightness of the morning sun. This is Matt.
While still in his CU Matt speaks for the first time in the picture. He has a soft American accent.
Jack! Jack, get over here!
A small, wire-haired mongrel is stalking something in the sand two hundred yards away. It seems oblivious to everything except the area immediately in front of it. Suddenly it runs forward and begins to snarl and tear at a pile of flotsam, kicking a cloud of sand up behind it.
MATT’S VOICE (OFFSCREEN)
Jack! Get over here right now! Come on! Now!
The little dog takes no notice and carries on its assault on the rubbish.
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EX CU of MATT: He sighs.
Jack, I am way too tired for this shit.
EXT. BEACH - DAY
We zoom quickly out of his eyes as he begins to walk over towards the dog. The camera stays on him, but this is a longer shot, with his whole frame in view. He is tall and lean, wearing jeans, boots and an American college T-shirt. As he walks, the expression on his face shifts from exasperation, through curiosity, through to unease. He stops. Something is not quite right, but we don’t know
what it is, and neither does he. He seems to get a grip on himself
and resumes walking. After another ten seconds he stops short.
The little dog is still scrabbling around the bundle in the sand. We can see pieces of driftwood, an oilcan washed clean of paint, a broken crate. And a pile of rags. Jack stops and turns towards us, panting, pink tongue hanging out. He begins to bark madly.
(Really pissed off now)
Jack what in hell’s name is wrong with you?
He moves forward slightly, and the dog runs past him, still barking. As Jack moves out of frame and Matt moves closer, we notice a cloud of flies moving over the pile of rags. There is a slight hum from them.
EX SHOT of MATT: He is now quite uneasy. He takes a deep breath and takes a step forward.
The bundle of rags consists of an old black overcoat, apparently draped around a log. We see Matt’s hand moving, reluctantly but inexorably, towards it. He hesitates for a moment, then pulls the
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log towards him. As soon as he does so his hand jumps back as though he has had an electric shock.
EX CU of MATT: He is completely white and gasping for breath, shock stamped on his face.
EX medium shot of what he sees. The log is a man’s body. The face
is completely destroyed, obliterated by a blow. The flies circle in a cloud around what is left of it. The rest of the body is dressed in a nice dark wool suit; shirt and silk tie, all spattered with dark patches, with a black overcoat on top. All are water damaged and encrusted with salt. The man’s hands – weathered
hands – are flung open, covered in lacerations. He is wearing a signet ring on his right little finger.
EX CU of right little finger. The ring has a curious design of five white spots on a black background.
This is the last thing MATT sees for a while, because there is a sudden bone crunching noise, followed by a rapid fade to black.
EXT. BEACH – DAY
EX CU of MATT’S eyes, shut tight. WE can hear seagulls in the
background and a faint sound of lapping waves.
MAN’S VOICE (Offscreen)
Hey, can you hear me? Hallo?
MATT’S eyelids flicker. His eyes suddenly pop open and he lets out a gargle, as if air has been trapped at the back of his throat.
EX CU of what MATT is seeing: two men, staring down at him anxiously. One is about forty, sandy haired, lean and taciturn, dressed in a gardas’s uniform. This is GARDA O’CONNOR. The other is a young man about MATT’S age, tall and gangly with dark curly hair and a wide smile. This is PETER SHAUGHNESSY.
(Speaking again, this time to Peter)
Okay, help me lift him up
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EX MEDIUM SHOT of the two men helping MATT to sit up. They prop him up against a rock, where he remains slumped, struggling for breath. There is blood trickling down his forehead and more congealed blood in his hair.
EX CU of MATT.
I’m Garda O’Connor. Can you tell me your name?
(Trying to focus)
Matt. Matt Ryan.
You Nora Ryan’s relative? From America?
EX SHOT of O’CONNOR and PETER. Both their expressions become friendlier with recognition, although you would barely know it from O’CONNOR, who remains largely impassive.
EX CU of MATT
The dog? No idea. My guess is it went home. After you hit your
head off that rock.
He suddenly remembers the body. His face goes white again and he looks like he’s going to faint.
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(Almost to himself)
I must have passed out when I saw it……
(Impassive, still off screen)
MATT stares up at him
The body. There is a fricking dead man on this beach, and Jack
brought me right over to him….
EX CU of O’CONNOR and PETER trading glances.
EX WIDE SHOT of the huge, empty strand. There is nothing visible apart from their three figures and some tiny patches of flotsam.
EX MEDIUM SHOT of the three men.
Was there anyone else down here when you found him?
No. No one.
Then O’CONNOR leans down towards MATT. His attitude is sympathetic mixed with ‘don’t fuck with me’.
You have a pretty nasty gash on your head and you’ve been unconscious for quite a while. I’ve sent word up to Dr. Clarke and
I think you should see him before you say any more.
EX CU of MATT. He swallows, opens his mouth and pauses. He seems to be desperately trying to think, but under the circumstances, he can't.
I swear I didn’t imagine it. It’s right over there…
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He turns slightly and looks around at the beach behind him, shielding his eyes from the sun. There is nothing there.
See? There’s no one else here.
MATT is embarrassed and confused.
I don’t understand…
He catches O’Conner’s steely gaze.
Okay. Maybe you’re right. I should get something for this cut.
INT EXTREME CU of MATT’S Eye. The iris looks very bright blue. He blinks and the iris becomes duller as the torch is switched off.
Okay, it looks fine. Let’s take your blood pressure.
INT medium shot of MATT, sitting upright on a bed in a small, compact surgery. He has a small bandage on his head and his forehead has been cleaned up. Beside him DR. CLARKE, a small, spare man in his fifties with a white beard is fixing up the blood pressure pump.
So Matt. When did you get here?
Well, let’s see: my plane got in this morning at half five. Aunt
Nora picked me up and we got here about a quarter past seven.
And you went for a walk? Right away?
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Yeah, I slept a lot on the plane. I just wanted to stretch my legs after such a long flight and Nora said Jack could do with a walk.
Jesus, I should have gone to bed instead.
You think being tired caused your accident?
(After a pause, thoughtfully)
If it was an accident…
MEDIUM SHOT of DR. CLARKE, frowning, paused.
You think it wasn’t?
MEDIUM SHOT of the two men. MATT hesitates, trying to gauge whether or not to say anything. Then he seems to make a decision.
I know this sounds crazy. Completely crazy. But right before I blacked out, I saw a body on the beach. Now, I know what you’re
going to say; I’m jet-lagged, I imagined it.
He leans forward.
But I’ve never even seen a dead body in real life before. How could I imagine something like that? It was so real – the guy was
lying there in this suit, wet, as if he’d been in the water, and……… he had no face. I remember thinking he looked stupid, you
know, because he didn’t look human anymore. He was like a shop
mannequin in a suit……… I’m not making any sense, am I?
MEDIUM SHOT of DR. CLARKE. He seems to be thinking. He pulls off his sterile gloves and goes over to the sink.
(While he is washing his hands, drying them and walking back over) Matt, first of all, I’ve been a doctor for nearly thirty years and
I’ve heard everything. You’d be amazed what the human mind can conjure up when it wants. Secondly, I’m a logical man, so let’s
look at this logically. If there was a body, who was it? And how could it be moved in such a short space of time without leaving
any evidence? It just doesn’t make any sense.
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MEDIUM SHOT of MATT, sitting on the bed in the middle of the room. He looks tired and suddenly vulnerable. We can see him thinking back over what he saw this morning. He shrugs slowly and we – and
DR. CLARKE – can see that he is conceding defeat.
I think we should get you back to your aunt’s house so that you
can rest for a while. Get some sleep, but not too much. You’ve had concussion, so you should be woken up at regular intervals over
the next twenty-four hours.
EX. SHOT OF STREET – DAY.
Outside it is a bright morning in early summer. We see a quiet, small town street, with no one around apart from a small girl with a skipping rope, hanging about at the other end of the road. PETER is slouched against his car across from the surgery, smoking a cigarette. Wearing sunglasses and staring up at the blue sky, he looks the picture of contentment. As the camera pans over him, he looks down and takes off the dark glasses.
All okay? Garda O’Connor asked me to stick around and see if you
EX. MEDIUM SHOT of MATT. He looks disorientated, shading his eyes from the sun’s glare. He smiles as he recognises PETER. We can see in this scene that he is trying to get back to normal, convincing himself that the body was all in his imagination.
Not too bad. A bit of sleep and a bite to eat and I’ll be just
EX MEDIUM SHOT of both.
(Reaching behind him and opening the car door)
Grand. Hop in – I’ll give you a lift home.
You sure? You won’t be late for work or anything?
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I’m the boss, so there’s no such thing as late! My family owns the
Cove Hotel - it’s on the road near the beach. I went out for a walk this morning and saw in the distance what looked like someone
asleep on the beach – that’s how I ended up finding you.
Thanks for this – I really appreciate it.
EX Medium SHOT of Peter, taking a last drag and throwing away his cigarette.
(Dry but good-natured)
Not at all. We can’t have you finding any more dead bodies, can we?
EX WIDE SHOT from above of PETER and MATT, driving in PETER’S car along a twisting, flat country road. The countryside looks beautiful – green fields on one side, with green and brown patches of bog on the other. Just visible to the far side of the screen is the sea in the near distance.
INT. CLOSE SHOT of the two boys in the car.
Look, I just want to say that what happened this morning isn’t normal behaviour for me. I’m not some kind of nut who goes around
Sure, don’t worry about it. You’d come a long way and had no sleep.
These things happen. Usually after a heavy night on the piss, but
He smiles and MATT grins despite himself. Then grimaces.
Does your head hurt?
It’s okay, just concussion. I’ve had that before from playing
football, so it’s no big deal.
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