Script Stories

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Eagle Man & the VIN FIZ        Prosperity, Texas        Wind Warrior

 

Eagle Man & the VIN FIZ

In the lobby of the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian hangs the legendary VIN FIZ which made the first transcontinental flight across America in 1911 piloted by Calbraith Perry Rodgers. This script story is based on that amazing story.

 

      It was a hot summer afternoon in Washington D.C., when I entered the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum and first witnessed the famous VIN FIZ, hanging from the ceiling and looking small and frail inside the massive entry hall. It was a Wright Brothersʼ Model B biplane fitted with two worn wicker seats.

      I read the information about the famous biplane and how it had crashed so many times that there was almost nothing left of the original that crossed America except for a few struts. The VIN FIZ seemed so insubstantial I could not get my mind around how such a contraption could fly all the way across the United States battling winds and fierce storms.

      But with Cal Rodgers as its pilot, it had become a part of American aviation history. I had never heard the epic story of the first transcontinental air crossing or of the famed flier. Aviation was in the very earliest stages of its infancy...but when Cal Rodgers finally set down in Pasadena, California, people all across our country were staying close to their radios waiting for news of his arrival and over ten thousand people were waiting anxiously at the landing field

      The more I read about this amazing flight, the more I wanted to know about it. When I returned to California, I looked in vain for a small bronze plaque in Long Beach that had been placed to commemorate the flight. I tracked down one of Calʼs descendants but she was very old and had forgotten much about her famed relative.

      I have yet to put the story into a novel, probably because I have always been too much in awe of the accomplishment. But I knew I had to someday write it into a screenplay and script story and so here it is at last as EAGLE MAN & VIN FIZ—A SCRIPT STORY. My fervent hope is that someday, someone might retell the epic and heroic story on the screen as is its due.

 

Prosperity, Texas

A naive and oppressed Wyoming girl and her brother dream of a better life, but when the rich son of a Texas cattleman seduces the sodbusterʼ daughter with the promise of marriage then mysteriously disappears, it forces the siblings to begin a long and dangerous journey all the way down to Prosperity, Texas.

 

      In the mid-1980s I was early in my career as a western writer and was driving down a country road outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, when I saw a young couple. He was tall and thin and carrying a Winchester rifle in one hand and had a burlap bag slung over his shoulder. His leather coat was worn and the collar was turned up. He wore a battered Statson and his head was bent forward giving me the strong impression that he was in a hurry to get somewhere.

      The girl wasnʼt even twenty, but also tall. Their physical similarity immediately told me they were almost certainly a brother and sister. She wore a long dress, a heavy denim coat and a western hat with a leather string tight under her chin. She was carrying a cheap and battered satchel and what looked like a single shot, bolt-action .22 rifle like one Iʼd owned as a boy.

      As my pickup approached, I expected them to turn and jack up a thumb for a ride, but they didnʼt. The air was cold, the wind hard from the north and it looked like a storm was coming so I pulled over and spoke to them through my rolled down window.

      They told me they were heading for Texas and a better life. I asked them if they wanted a ride and they said they were just fine. I wanted to ask them what they were doing walking to Texas and how on earth they thought they could go that far, but they just started walking again. I felt concern for them so far out in the country from shelter, but theyʼd made it clear that they didnʼt want or expect help...and in fact would prefer not to be distracted from whatever mission or plan they had solemnly undertaken.

      I drove away and left them that cold autumn day but I never forgot them. In fact, they preyed on my mind until I wrote them into what would become one of my favorite western novels originally published by Doubleday and Company as a Double D Western in 1988 titled Sodbuster, and I have always thought it would make a really fine western movie and I hope the pair made it all the way down to Texas.

 

Wind Warrior

      Many years ago while researching a big historical on the Grand Canyon, I became acquainted with the "People of the Tall Pines". . .the Hualapai. They have a large but sparsely populated reservation on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon just west of their ancestral neighbors, the Supai. During many conversations with the Hualapi, I came to learn about Indian Schools and their very serious and often detrimental effct on Native Americans. Moved by these stories, I decided to write a tribute to the thousands of children who attended American Indian boarding schools during the latter part of the nineteenth and the twentieth century. While it is true that some students voluntarily came to these institutions, typically they were forced into leaving their families, friends, culture and reservations.

      I repeatedly heard heart-wrenching stories of how families were torn apart and boarding school students were often changed in ways that prevented them from being comfortable adults either in the white society...or even in their own Native American societies. Today, many older Native Americans still recall their years in boarding schools with deep bitterness.

      Wind Warrior is an adaption of the novel River Thunder which was the recipient of the prestigious Western Writers of Americaʼs 2009 Spur Award for Best Western Audio Book.