In earlier days, I wrote comic scripts from time to time. It was good work, if you could find it. Eventually, I couldn't quite get my foot in the door and went back to short stories and novels.
In my quest to expand the range of what I was selling to the comics industry, I wrote some true-story type things and some humor scripts. This one, "Screwdriver Throat" is both: based on an actual event related to me by an ambulance driver who worked that job in the 1960s.
I don't submit comic scripts anymore, so this is likely the only place I'll ever publish this. Take a look.
James Robert Smith
Panel One: Outside shot of an ambulance, circa 1959. An old Corvair.
Panel Two: Cab shot of the two occupants. POV from front looking in? We need to see their faces. There's Jimmy, wearing sideburns, black hair brylcremed back, trying to look like Elvis but too creepy to achieve anything approaching the right feel. (Looks kind of like a redneck Frankenstein monster). He's riding. The driver is Eddie, light-haired, taller, leaner, cleaner cut, normal looking guy.
Panel Three: Closeup of the dashboard. There's a police band radio in there. Eddie's hand can be seen adjusting the volume.
Radio: Attention! Suicide attempt at 118 Cranberry Lane. Male, 17 years of age. Proceed.
Panel Four: Close-up of Jimmy, smiling. We can see that he has at least two teeth missing.
Jimmy: Yee-HA, champ! Somethin' to do!
Panel One: Outside shot of the ambulance, lights flashing. Speed marks.
Panel Two: Inside the cab with Eddie and Jimmy. Eddie doesn't look as happy.
Eddie: Shit. I hate suicide attempts. I feel like we're wasting our time. You know?
Jimmy: Whatchoo mean? Suicide or accident or medical emergency, it's all the same to me.
Panel Three: Eddie is driving with one hand and gesticulating with the other, pointing with some force at Jimmy who's flinching back, against his door.
Eddie: Bullshit! These dumbasses try to kill themselves and we have to run off and see to them, when we could be helping some poor kid who's been hit by a car or someone who's got hurt at work. But instead, we're out here running after some loser who can't take it anymore.
Panel Four: Jimmy has his hands up, as if to shield himself from Eddie's pointing finger.
Jimmy: Whatever you say, Buddy.
Eddie: And stop calling me "Buddy". I ain't your buddy!
Panel One: Outside shot again of the ambulance. They're really tearing down the street. They're obviously in a notsogood neighborhood. (Everything circa late 50s.)
Panel Two: Jimmy has a map out, looking at it. Eddie seems to be glancing at Jimmy.
Eddie: Where the hell is it, Jimmy?
Jimmy: Shit. I should have known.
Eddie: Oh, no. Don't tell me. Don't say it.
Panel Three: Close-up on Jimmy's face. He appears to be uttering these words with some amount of insane glee.
Jimmy: Branford's Trailer Park! Yee-HA!
Panel Four: Side shot from driver's side, looking toward Jimmy. Eddie actually has loosened the steering wheel and has his face buried in his hands. Jimmy is staring at Eddie, eyes-a-popping.
Eddie: Shit! I hate that place! It's nothing but trouble! Last time we were there I got cut!
Jimmy: Grab the wheel! Jesus, Eddie!
Panel One: Shot of the ambulance veering off the street and into a late 1950s era trailer park. A bad trailer park. Maybe the worst trailer park you can imagine.
Panel Two: Eddie is hunched over the steering wheel, peering ahead, squinting. They're at a kind of shitty dirt road intersection with trailers all crammed in together.
Eddie: What does that one say? Is that one Cranberry Lane? Jesus. Why do they give them these nice sounding names? They ought to call them Shit Road, or Crime Avenue or Fuckstick Way. Not Cranberry Lane! Bastards!
Panel Three: A ground level shot of an ambulance tire splashing into a pothole. We can see the trailer park's roads are all dirt.
Panel Four: Cab shot. Jimmy is pointing.
Jimmy: There it is! Cranberry Lane! I've been here! I thought it sounded familiar.
Eddie: You've been here? Why the hell would you come here?
Jimmy: Me and Mary almost moved in here. But I didn't like the trailer that was for rent. There was shit smeared on the bedroom wall.
Eddie: Give me a break!
Panel One: The ambulance is pulling up in front a trailer that has a big crowd standing around it. Trailer trash, circa 1959. A lot of them look like Jimmy. Lots of little kids around, with bikes, fingers up their nostrils, etc.
Panel Two: Jimmy and Eddie are out of the ambulance, Eddie with his little emergency first aid kit. Eddie is addressing a fat woman standing there, baby in one arm, foot in a puddle.
Jimmy: Lady, do you know who needs our help? Who needs aid?
Panel Three: The fat lady is pointing toward a male figure who seems to be staggering out of the crowd around him. We can see his denimed legs and bare feet, but his face is obscured by fat lady's pointing hand.
Panel Four: Half body shot of the guy. We see him from waist up. I guess we can also see some people in the background. The guy's head is tilted back and there's a HUGE, heavy duty screwdriver sticking handle up, out of his mouth, which is held wide open to accommodate the screwdriver handle jutting out.
Caption: That's him. Dickey Wayne Crump!
Panel One: Eddie is standing there looking at the guy who, though his head is tilted at this crazy angle, is giving Eddie a really nasty stare.
Eddie: Can you sit down, sir? Can you sit down so I can help you?
Dickey Wayne: Uck oo! Uck oo! Uck e-ee-un!
Panel Two: Eddie is being shoved back by the guy.
Dickey Wayne: UCK OO, AN! UCK OO, AH ED!
Panel Three: Eddie is sitting on his ass in the mud. The guy standing over him.
Dickey Wayne: Uck oo.
Panel Four: Jimmy and Dickey Wayne in this panel. Jimmy has approached screwdriver-throat, his hands up in supplication, smiling his gap-toothed smile, his Elvis sideburns showing. Screwdriver-throat is looking at Jimmy, but no glaring at him.
Jimmy: Shit, man. That screwdriver looks like it hurts. Why don't you let us get that damn thang out your throat, man. Then you can tell us what's goin' on around here. How about it?
Panel One: We see Jimmy and Eddie sitting down on the front step of the trailer, the guy in between them.
Jimmy: We're going to get that thing out of your throat, now. Okay?
Guy: O Ay.
Eddie: You hold the back of his head, and I'll get that thing out of him. Hold tight, now. One. Two.
Panel Two: We see the guy's head. We can see Jimmy's hands holding the guy's skull. Eddie has a good grip and is pulling back. The screwdriver is already halfway out in this shot. Kind of sloppy, I would assume. (Some blood around the guy's mouth, etc.)
Sound effect: Skuk! (or some similarly attractive noise)
Panel Three: Eddie is putting the screwdriver in a plastic bag, while the guy and Jimmy are still sitting there on the step.
Eddie: We're going to take you downtown to the hospital, man. What's your name? Dickey Wayne Crump, right?
Dickey Wayne: Fuck you, man. I ain't going anywhere.
Eddie: Well, you're going with us, like I said.
Panel Four: The guy has stood, hands like claws, an insane expression on his face, eyes wide as platters. Eddie is jumping back, Jimmy is half standing.
Guy: I'm gonna kill myself! I hate my fucking brother! I'm gonna kill myself if I can't kill him! You hear me! I hate my brother! I hate him! I'm gonna kill myself if I can't kill him!
Panel One: Long shot. Eddie is actually running back toward the ambulance. Jimmy seems to be standing coolly by while Dickey Wayne waves his arms wildly and looks like a crazy man.
Panel Two: Half shot of Dickey Wayne and Jimmy. Jimmy is smiling, his eyes actually half shut, as if almost bored.
Jimmy: Shit, man. I hate my brother, too.
Dickey Wayne: Huh?!
Panel Three: Jimmy has his arm around Dickey Wayne's shoulder, and Dickey Wayne is looking at Jimmy with some trust, blood trickling out of his mouth.
Jimmy: Yeah, I hate my stinking brother. He's a complete asshole. I'd like to kill him. He messes up my whole life. Now, how about goin' with us down to the hospital. So the doctor can take a look at your throat.
Dickey Wayne: Yeah! I know what you mean! That sounds just like my brother!
But I ain't goin' to no hospital until I can kill my brother.
Jimmy: Well...what if I help you kill your brother?
Panel Four: Jimmy and Dickey Wayne are climbing into the back of the ambulance, the doors of which Eddie is holding open for them.
Jimmy: I've thought about killing my brother many a time. I'd be happy to help you kill your brother.
Dickey Wayne: Really? You'd really help me kill that bastard? I'd really appreciate it, man. What's your name?
Dickey Wayne: Man, Alan. You're my friend! Yeah, I'll go with you to the hospital. We can talk about killing my damn brother on the way. Okay?
Panel One: The ambulance is pulling up to the hospital. Emergency entrance.
Panel Two: We see the two ambulance drivers and Dickey Wayne. Back shot as they walk down a corridor. Some nurses, doctors in the background.
Dickey Wayne: You think it would be easier to kill him with a rope? I don't think that would be easy, at all. I think we ought to use a gun. I wish I had a shotgun. My dad had a shotgun, but he took it with him when he lit out on us. I was only twelve when he done that. Left us, I mean.
Jimmy: Nah. Gun makes too much noise. Rope's much better. Make a trap that can choke him when he comes up the stairs.
Dickey Wayne: The stairs?
Panel Three: Dickey Wayne is lying in a hospital bed. The nurse is wrapping tape around his wrists, taping them to the metal rails around the bed.
Dickey Wayne: What about stabbing him? I was gonna stab him with that screwdriver.
Jimmy: I don't think they're gonna give that back to you, man.
Panel Four: Jimmy seems to be eyeing Dickey Wayne's wrists, which a nurse is still taping to the bedrail.
Panel Five: Inset. Very close-up shot of Dickey Wayne's wrist with the tape around it.
Panel One: Jimmy is addressing the nurse, who has finished taping Dickey Wayne's wrists and is looking at a chart in her hands. Dickey Wayne seems to be zoned out. Eddie is standing there, too.
Jimmy: (whispering) Ma'am. I don't think that tape is goin' to hold that boy down. He's right agitated.
Panel Two: The nurse, a pretty but snooty bitch, is giving Jimmy a withering glare.
Nurse: That tape has held men much larger than this young boy. I think you should keep your comments to yourself unless you know what you're talking about.
Panel Three: Close-up of Jimmy's face. He's fuming! He's really pissed. Eddie is standing behind him, kind of sneering at Jimmy.
Eddie: Yeah, man. She knows what she's doing. Mind your own business. Sometimes I can't figure whey they put me with a dumbass like you.
Panel Four: The nurse and Eddie are leaving the room. Jimmy still looks pissed.
Panel One: Jimmy is standing at the foot of Dickey Wayne's bed. Dickey Wayne's eyes are shut.
Jimmy: Dickey Wayne?
Dickey Wayne: Hunh? Whu? Whut izzit?
Panel Two: Dickey Wayne's eyes are half opened, and he's looking at Jimmy.
Jimmy: Dickey Wayne. You couldn't kill your brother, even if you tried.
Panel Three: Close-up shot of Dickey Wayne's face. Eyes wide. Mouth a frozen grin, all teeth showing. Spit flying.
Dickey Wayne: AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!
Panel Four: Dickey Wayne is shooting up out of the bed, the tape like so much air. Jimmy is scooting out the door.
Panel Five: Jimmy is running down the hallway, Dickey Wayne in pursuit, orderlies and the nurse chasing Dickey Wayne.
Nurse: Catch him! Oh, catch him!
Jimmy: It's held bigger men eh? Hoo hoo!
Dickey Wayne: I'll kill you!