The Highwaymen- story by Adira Rotstein- art by Isabelle Melancon
Highwaymen: the screenplay
EXT. ROAD THROUGH A FOREST- NIGHT
TITLE: (AS IF WRITTEN BY HAND IN 18TH CENTURY STYLE CURSIVE) JULY 19TH, 1740
MICK REDON, (27) gallops down the narrow moonlit road like the devil himself is after him, terror on his face and blood upon his clothes.
My name is Mick Redon. In my years on this Earth I have been many things; thief, farmer, gambler, sodomite and highwayman, but I never thought I'd be a murderer, never until last night...
TITLE: May 30, 1740, One Month Earlier
EXT. DIRT ROAD THROUGH EPPING FOREST, 1743- DAY
Close on: A wooden sign at a fork in the road. One arrow reads "London" the other "Hampstead Heath."
Mick, a brown-clothed man on a brown horse, (Charger) approaches from the distance. His voice echoes through the woods singing an old folksong.
"Aye," said a little Leatherwing Bat
"I'll tell to him the reason that--
The reason that I fly by night
T'is because I've lost me heart's deligh--"
He stops mid-verse as he comes upon the signpost.
Up close, his skin is unfashionably tanned despite the cover of his tricorner hat. A scrap of velvet ribbon holds back his unwashed hair. He wears doe skin breeches, a dark silk vest, and knee-lenghth jacket; a gentleman's outfit that's seen better days.
He pushes his hat up on his head with a SIGH and says to Charger the horse:
MICK (cont'd) (cont'd)
Well, nothing for it.
Whistling the Leatherwing Bat tune he dismounts and leads Charger into a clump of trees by the roadside.
EXT. ROAD OUTSIDE LONDON- DAY
A coach with a liveried COACHMAN riding up front bounces down the road.
INT. COACH- DAY
A chatty OLD MARRIED COUPLE from the countryside, sit across from LORD ROBERT, a dour, irritated looking man in his mid-fifties holding a black portfolio in his lap. Beside him is SHORNEY, his manservant.
Almost in London and not a black mask to be seen!
There now, you know how old George is want to exaggerate. Though he did mention they've been cracking down recently.
Hiring more thief-takers and the like. There's been some sound about forming a police force, more Bowstreet Runners or some other such nonsense--
EXT. FOREST AROUND THE FORK IN THE ROAD- DAY
Camouflaged among the tree trunks, Mick wears a black eyemask and muffler pulled up over his nose.
He hears the SOUND OF A COACH IN THE DISTANCE.
His body immediately tenses. Hands trembling slightly he removes a pistol from his belt.
He fixes his gaze on the road.
INT. COACH- DAY
Capital nonsense! Another splendid continental idea I'll wager. Wasn't enough they had to foist paper money on us, but it's another way to raise taxes!
Lord Robert seethes inwardly. He wishes the talkative couple would just shut up. He shoots them an irritated expression, but the couple pay him no heed.
Met a Londoner at the tavern in Bedford. He said in London the one to fear now's not Jonathan Wilde, or even the Brothers Boyd--
No, the one to fear now's a Dutchman.
At the mention of "the Dutchman" Lord Robert suddenly loses it.
OLD MAN AND WOMAN
I'll have peace in this coach or I'll have you turned out!
Sir, we have no--
Tact, breeding, or brains, yes I know.
LORD ROBERT (cont'd) (cont'd)
Now if you'd kindly stop this chitter-cha--
(shouts with a French accent)
Stand and deliver!
Lord Robert looks out the window...
EXT. COACH- CONTINUOUS
...to see Mick with his pistol pointed at the COACHMAN.
The coachman methodically gets off his perch. This has obviously not been the first time he's been robbed at gunpoint.
Mick raps on the side of the coach with his riding crop.
Out of ze coach! Stand and deliver!
All the passengers get out of the coach.
Mick opens a sack and approaches the old man and woman. With shaking hands the old woman removes a thin silver ring and the old man hands over a half empty sack of coins.
MICK (CONT'D) (cont'd) (cont'd)
Zat's all you 'ave?
I swear sir. You can search me person.
He begins patting the old man down.
While this is going on the coachman reaches into his coat for a weapon.
Mick spots the coachman's movement out of the corner of his eye and pulls his pistol on the man.
Stop! Lay it down sir! Now!
The old woman and man scream.
P-p-please don't shoot.
Do not worry, sir.
The coachman trembling, removes a pistol and puts it down on the ground.
With his gun still trained on the coachman Mick bends down and picks up the coachman's pistol.
I have no intention to.
Mick rises and tips his hat at the old woman.
My regrets for the shock mademoiselle.
Mick goes over to Lord Robert and his manservant. Mick gestures towards Lord Robert's leather portfolio.
MICK (CONT'D) (cont'd)
Open that please.
You'll find naught.
Open it sir.
Lord Robert cooly opens the portfolio.
Mick goes through its contents tossing aside ledgers and other useless papers before coming upon something that sparks his interest: A huge sheaf of PAPER MONEY, each bill the size of a large sheet of paper.
Amazed, Mick removes a single bill to look at it... and realizes it has been cut in half.
Mick searches frantically through the rest of the portfolio removing bill after bill. All of them are missing the bottom half!
MICK (CONT'D) (cont'd)
Where's the other half?
Safe with my banker in London.
Mick throws the portfolio down on the muddy ground.
He mounts his horse, the coachman's pistol added to the old one at his waist and rides off at top speed.
MICK (CONT'D) (cont'd)
Damn. Damn. Damn.
The old woman and man and hug each other with relief. The coachman trembles as he brushes the dust off his breeches.
The paper bills lie on the ground at Lord Robert's feet.
Well what are you standing there for Shorney? Collect them!
And make sure you have all of them, or I shall whip you soundly when we arrive in London.
EXT. ROAD OUTSIDE LONDON- LATER
Mick rides Charger through the glen at a slower trot. Miserably, he wipes the sweat off his brow.
All that rhino and not a whit of use to anyone! Somewhere someone's having a good chuckle at our expense I warrant.
Charger nickers in response and Mick strokes his mane.
Almost did us t'death back there old boy-- the coachman. So afraid, eh? That's what does it, Charger. Fear makes a man do some awfully daft things.
Charger yawns in response.
Oh, I'm boring you am I? Well, what do you think the Dutchman will do to me in London, hmmm? Oh, he will be most pleased I assure you!
We may have to part company-- you and I...
Charger trots on, oblivious to the emotion in Mick's voice.
I don't want to, but what else can I do? It was Terry Van Eyk liked, not me.
And now Mick is the one who looks frightened.
EXT. REYNOLDS SQUARE, LONDON- NIGHT
Bustling square surrounded by pubs and houses of ill-repute.
A bunch of MALE PROSTITUTES,(Rent boys): BRIGHT, PORT, SELWYN, SMITH and FLETCHER lounge by a marble fountain of Apollo. Teenagers mostly, in skin-tight vests and breeches, identical expressions of boredom on their white-painted, scarlet lipped faces.
Hovering at the edge of the group is AUGY, a waifish boy of about fifteen, leaning on a crutch wrapped in rags, wearing a filthy greatcoat several sizes too big for his little body. Despite his beggarly, crippled appearance, his features are surprisingly delicate, his eyes over-large in his thin face, like those of a young child.
Augy sidles up to Port, the oldest member of the group, a syphilitic opium eater at 23.
Bright, the largest of the crew, watches Augy and Port converse in a bored manner.
Bright takes a fashionable pocketwatch on a slim silver chain out of his pocket and checks the time with a show-offy gesture, making sure all his fellows see his expensive watch. Then Bright polishes the watch to a high shine on his vest and puts it back in his pocket.
Port shakes his head "no." Augy moves on to Bright.
Bright keeps his eyes trained on the passing crowd, scanning for clients, fixedly ignoring Augy's approach.
Augy doesn't take the hint.
Finally, Bright is forced to acknowledge him.
I told you yesterday, forget it. Jonesy don't take cripples.
Augy doesn't move.
BRIGHT (CONT'D) (cont'd)
Beat it. You're scaring off the customers.
'pologies guv'. Be scooting off soon. Just wanting to ask you somefing...
Augy holds a clipped coin between a dirty thumb and forefinger.
Bright looks at it and snickers.
You looking for penny candy little boy?
Bright reaches to steal the coin from him, but Augy is faster and with a quick movement of his little hand, the coin disappears into one of his voluminous sleeves.
Any customers what seemed like men o'the road come 'round lately?
Bright narrows his eyes at him, trying to figure out Augy's game.
Highwaymen you mean?
None what come to me.
Augy hands him the coin. Bright pockets it without comment. Augy lifts his floppy brimmed farmer's hat.
Augy moves on to Selwyn, while Bright, eyes still scanning the people passing by, pulls on his watch chain and sees...no watch at the end of the chain!
AUGY (CONT'D) (cont'd)
So I was wondering if you've 'ad a client--
Augy is yanked up off his feet by the back of his coat. His crutch clatters to the ground.
Bright shoves his face into Augy's.
Where's me watch?
The other prostitutes are suddenly looking a lot less bored. They begin to cluster around.
Bright brandishes the empty chain in front of Augy's face.
Me silver pocket-watch you little shite!
I don't know anythi--
Nobody steals from us, whelp!
The other men descend on Augy. He disappears underneath them, blows raining down from all sides, hands grabbing at his coat.
Careful boys! Don't break it!
Port holds up the watch.
Fletcher pulls a fancy lace monogrammed handkerchief off Augy.
Those ain't your initials, Fletch.
Bright picks Augy up by the armpits. Selwyn grabs his feet.
Let me go!
They heave Augy back and toss him into the fountain.
Augy lands in the fountain and sits up, waist deep in dirty water.
Bright leaps in after him. Bright shoves Augy's curly blonde head down under the water.
You teach 'im Bright!
Augy's head pops up, spluttering.
Bright shoves him under again.
They all turn around to look.
(bowing, putting on a posh voice)
Good even' sir. Might one of us be of service?
Bright lets go of Augy and comes out of the fountain to talk to Mick.
Augy's head pops up from under the water coughing.
Poxy scum! I 'ope your jacks drop off!
The prostitutes look away awkwardly.
Would someone please remove that boy from the fountain?
Port and Smith grudgingly extend their hands to help Augy out of the fountain.
Augy spits at them.
Go to the devil you filthy bum-bangers!
Smith makes to smack him. Augy draws back out of reach and picks his hat out of the water.
Mick goes up to the fountain and extends his own hand to Augy.
Would you be so kind, sir?
Augy looks at Mick, trying to judge if he is putting him on or not. Hesitantly he gives Mick his hand.
Mick takes a dripping, humiliated Augy out of the fountain.
As Mick lifts Augy out, he happens to look directly in the boy's large eyes. Mick holds Augy's gaze and his soul seems to rock within him, it is that intense. Augy too appears moved.
Augy breaks the connection as his feet touch the ground and he must grip onto the lip of the fountain to steady himself.
God bless and keep you guv'nor.
Are you available for the hour?
The prostitutes break out in laughter.
Mick looks around uncomprehending.
Augy looks down blushing.
Uh, he don't pursues the trade sir.
Wot 'e means is he's just a cripple beggar, sir, 'e ain't a rent boy.
Although, an honest mistake to be sure...
Augy looks down.
Ah. Well, right then. Um...
Fletcher, the youngest and handsomest of the rent boys sashays over.
I'd be happy to be of service in his stead, sir.
Fletcher threads his arm through Mick's and Mick allows the young man to lead him off.
(as he's leaving)
And what's your name?
Adira Rotstein ||
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