NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge: Round 3

> My third script (here’s the first, and here’s the second) for the New York City short screenplay challenge.

After the first two rounds, I needed to place in the top five in my group to go through to the next round (where the actual competitions begins) and I placed… fifth! Over the moon.

My new genre/location/prop were…

• Comedy
• University Cafeteria
• Bat

…and the following screenplay is what I came up with.

 

BACK TO SCHOOL

by

Laurie Cansfield

Two divorced forty-something men make a fresh start and enroll at university, but one of them hasn’t quite finished his midlife crisis yet.

FADE IN:

 

EXT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS CAR PARK – DAY

 

BERNIE (47) takes a sports jacket out of the back seat of his car and closes the door. He pauses a moment to take in the busy campus as students arrive for classes. He puts on the jacket and takes a deep breath.

 

BERNIE
Second time lucky.

 

INT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS CAFETERIA – DAY

 

FRESHMEN gather around various society stalls. SENIORS hand out flyers to social events.

 

ERNIE (47) sits at a long table, alone. He wears thick rimmed glasses and an ill fitting white shirt, with a walkie talkie attached to the breast pocket. Bernie enters and joins Ernie.

 

BERNIE
No wonder they divorced us Ernie.

 

ERNIE
We’re nerds now, my friend.

 

BERNIE
Nerds?

 

Ernie takes a large duffle bag from under the table and produces a variety of outdated gadgets – a CB radio, a Sony Walkman, a huge beige computer keboard, and another walkie talkie which he hands to Bernie. Bernie doesn’t take it.

 

ERNIE
Chicks love nerds.

 

Bernie looks around the cafeteria at his fellow students, almost all of which have an iPhone, tablet and smartwatch.

 

BERNIE
Everyone’s a nerd now, my friend.

 

Ernie scans the cafeteria and frowns, briefly. He rumages in the bag, pulls out a brand new varsity jacket and puts it on.

 

ERNIE
I can do jock too. Watch.

 

A CUTE FRESHMAN GIRL timidly walks by, carrying a tray of avocado toast and a bottle of orange juice with a straw.

 

Ernie smashes the tray from below and whoops as the contents scatter and the tray hits the girl in the face.

 

Bernie looks stunned. Ernie looks thrilled. Cute Freshman Girl runs away screaming with a straw poking out of her eye.

 

Ernie looks around to check if he’s impressed any females.

 

RANDOM FEMALE STUDENT
Wanker.

 

INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE VICE-CHANCELLOR’S OFFICE – LATER

 

Bernie sits on a bench waiting for Ernie. Ernie emerges from the office, looking sheepish. He quickly snaps out of it.

 

ERNIE
Skip class?

 

BERNIE
What? It’s our first one.

 

ERNIE
I didn’t come to university to sit around listening to some guy who thinks he knows more about the world than the rest of us do.

 

BERNIE
That’s exactly why people come to university.

 

Ernie rolls his jacket around his fist, smashes the office window, and runs down the hall slamming people into lockers.

 

ANOTHER RANDOM FEMALE STUDENT
Dickhead.

 

The VICE-CHANCELLOR opens the door and looks at Bernie, still sitting on the bench. Bernie is speechless.

 

INT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS CAFETERIA – LATER

 

Bernie stands in the lunch line holding a sandwich and a Coke. He pays for it, then looks around the room for Ernie.

 

A group of HOT FRESHMAN GIRLS are gathered around a table. Bernie walks by, interested. He recognises Ernie’s voice.

 

ERNIE
Obsidian, yes. Like the volcanic rock. What can I say ladies, my parents had an unconventional taste in names.

 

The Hot Freshman Girls giggle. Bernie nudges his way through the group and sees Ernie sat at the table, dressed in a black velvet suit and purple ruffled shirt. He’s wearing eyeliner.

 

ERNIE
Ah, my associate. Dear fellow, you’ve arrived just in time. Would you be so kind?

 

Ernie motions towards the duffle bag on the table. Something is squirming inside it.

 

Bernie looks bemused for a moment, but unfastens the bag anyway. A live FRUIT BAT is inside.

 

Ernie reaches over to take it. He strokes the bat. The Hot Freshman Girls giggle.

 

ERNIE
A vampire bat, ladies. Don’t worry, he won’t harm any of you when I’m around.

 

The fruit bat starts to thrash its wings around wildly. Ernie struggles to keep hold of it.

 

Cute Freshman Girl walks across the room from the direction of the lunch line, wearing an eye patch, eating a banana.

 

The fruit bat breaks free from Ernie’s grasp and darts straight towards the girl. She shields her face as the bat frenziedly bites and claws at her hands. She drops the banana and runs away screaming.

 

The bat calmly nibbles the banana. The Hot Freshman Girls look at Ernie, disgusted. They leave.

 

A HOT FRESHMAN GIRL
Prick.

 

Bernie looks at Ernie, bewildered.

 

BERNIE
Obsidian?

 

EXT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS CAR PARK – LATER

 

Bernie carries a pile of textbooks to his car. He places the books on the roof and searches his pockets for his keys. A skateboard runs into the side of the car.

 

Bernie looks up. Ernie, wearing a marijuana leaf t-shirt and a pair of baggy shorts with a chain, picks up the skateboard.

 

ERNIE
Sorry dude. Come hang if you want to. Like, whatever.

 

Ernie awkwardly skates to the other side of the car park, with one foot on the board and the other one pushing him along.

 

He approaches a shady looking DRUG DEALER and hands over some cash in exchange for a small plastic bag.

 

Bernie looks worried and walks over to Ernie.

 

BERNIE
What’s in the bag?

 

ERNIE
Chill, narc. It’s all good.

 

Ernie turns to a group of COOL FEMALE SKATERS and smirks, nodding towards Bernie. They ignore him. He looks irritated.

 

ERNIE
Watch this, dudettes.

 

Ernie walks up a flight of concrete steps and continues a little further up the walkway. He mounts the skateboard and propels himself towards the steps as fast as he can manage.

 

Cute Freshman Girl, with her hands wrapped in bandages, crosses the car park and approaches the bottom of the steps.

 

The board flies past her face, making her jump. She breathes a sigh of relief, then takes the first step. Ernie tumbles down the steps like a boulder and knocks her clean off her feet.

 

The Cool Female Skaters roll their eyes, unimpressed.

 

ERNIE
Heroin, anyone?

 

INT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS CAFETERIA – EVENING

 

Ernie and Bernie sit at a table. Ernie is still wearing the t-shirt and shorts, looking fed up.

 

BERNIE
Come on, man. This was supposed to be a fresh start for the two of us.

 

Ernie carries on sulking.

 

BERNIE (CONT’D)
Why not stop trying to impress these college girls and just get into your studies? That’s why we’re here, right?

 

Ernie nods.

 

BERNIE (CONT’D)
So no more outfits and no more girls, okay? And no more endangered animals.

 

A CUTE FRESHMAN WOMAN (40) walks into the cafeteria, and orders a coffee at the counter. Ernie’s eyes light up. He begins to stand, then notices how he’s dressed.

 

Bernie looks at the woman, then looks at Ernie. He pauses a moment, then takes off his sports jacket and hands it over.

 

ERNIE
Thanks Bernie.

 

Bernie nods. Ernie walks over to Cute Freshman Woman.

 

CUTE FRESHMAN WOMAN
What a first day. I need a real drink. Will you come have a drink with me?

 

Ernie is taken aback. Before he can answer, the woman starts walking towards the exit.

 

Ernie turns to Bernie, who gives him the thumbs up, and he follows the woman out through the door.

 

CUTE FRESHMAN WOMAN
Do you mind if I drop my daughter at home first? She’s a freshman here too.

 

EXT. UNIVERSITY CAMPUS CAR PARK – EVENING

 

Ernie follows Cute Freshman Woman to her car. Cute Freshman Girl is leaning against it, with her foot in a plaster cast and a pair of crutches propped against the passenger door.

 

The girl smiles faintly and waves to the woman, who looks perplexed. Then she notices Ernie and begins to frown.

ERNIE
Oh, fu–

 

FADE OUT.