Archive for March 17th, 2011

Thursday March 17 2011 @ 1:11 pm

Yesterday, I was online while on an airplane (which was so exciting because folks rarely let me on airplanes anymore…). As I Tweeted high above the clouds, Bespin-style, I received this Tweet…

Via @xbigteex “how big of a role are u writing for John Goodman in Hit Somebody?”
He plays Buddy’s first & last coach. Wrote him monologue about hockey that he’ll CRUSH. Gimme a sec and I’ll put a little piece of the scene for you to read here…

We landed before I got a chance to post the scene, and when I got home, there was a big meeting, and the intent-to-post was lost. Sorry it’s late, but here it is.

Before you read it, however, a few DISCLAIMERS…

This is a work-in-progress, not the final script, or even the final version of the scene. When all’s said and done, there’s a good chance this scene might not even make the final draft, left alone the first cut. Consider it more of a sketch than anything else: an impression of what I’m going for in HIT SOMEBODY. I left a blank space in one section of Blue Jay’s dialogue to conceal a plot point.

This scene takes place about 60 pages into the current draft of HIT SOMEBODY. It’s 1961 and our lead character, Buddy McCracken, is 11. Buddy’s suffering from a personal loss when he’s visited on his family’s Saskatchewan farm by the man who’ll be his first hockey coach, Blue Jay Jennings (written for John Goodman).


Blue Jay Jennings climbs out of his truck, carrying a bag.

Close on the side of the barn, as a puck rockets through it. Then another. There are LOTS of holes, dents, or embedded pucks in the side of the barn today. BLAM! Another puck just misses Blue Jay as he steps near the barn, arms raised.

Don’t shoot.

Buddy mean-mugs Jay as he studies the barn damage.

Well… we know you can hit the broad side of a barn.

I was aiming at your car.

Jay looks to where his car is – far, far from the barn. Can the master spin this one?

Y’know, it’s pretty windy out today…

What do you want?

A less lippy tone’d be nice, for starters. I never met a hockey
player who wasn’t polite and respectful out of a sweater.
Speaking of which…

Jay pulls a hockey sweater from the bag he’s carrying, holding it up for Buddy to see. The BUCKOS is the team name.

This is yours.

Buddy eyes the jersey, now sullied. He heads over to the barn and pulls a few pucks out of the wall, ignoring Jay. Jay sighs, reaching into his coat. He cracks open a beer.

I’ll tell you one thing: you can’t be a hockey player with a temper
like that. Every hockey player I know that didn’t die in
a car wreck lived to be eighty years and died peacefully in their sleep.
That might mean nothing to a kid like you, but the older you get, the
more a peaceful death starts sounding pretty sweet.

Suddenly: a small hint of interest from Buddy. Fisherman Blue Jay feels a tug at his line.

You know what a heart attack is?

Buddy shrugs “kinda”.

When you’re an adult, life’s not very fun anymore, kid. They expect
productivity. And the pressure that comes with expectation
of any kind – the stress and the anger and the jealousy…
Over a lifetime?
(mimes a heart attack; then)
But that doesn’t happen to hockey players. Know why?

Buddy shakes his head. Blue Jay points to the barn.

Hockey players are allowed to beat people up.

Buddy’s taken back by this. Blue Jay nods.

They take out their troubles on the ice. They take it out on the
puck, or some sumbitch ain’t got his head up. For two minutes,
all that stuff us mere mortals gotta deal with as thinking
organisms on a cold rock in space that doesn’t care whether we
hang on or spin off into the Milky Way? The stuff most people call
“real life”? For two minutes , a hockey player gets to skate
it all away. You can’t drop gloves on life, kid – but in The Game? They’ll
cheer you if you do. Because they all know what a struggle…
what a fight life can be. And when they see you take a swing –
with your stick or a good right hook – they feel like you’re taking a swing for
them. And lots of people will tell you that ain’t right. But brother?
There ain’t nothin’ righter.

Blue Jay winks and smiles widely at Buddy. Buddy melts further, smiling back. Blue Jay sees the opening.

I’m not out here because of what happened with _________ ,
and I’m not out here because I’m short any players. I’m out here
because you’re a pip of a fighter. And everyone’ll tell you fighting’s
not part of The Game, but it is – second only to scoring
goals. The team I’m putting together’s gonna need fighters, so
whadya say, sport?

Buddy won’t answer. Blue Jay eyes the boy.

My Dad died when I was nine.

Buddy looks to Blue Jay, sympathetic.

Heart attack. While he was on our roof.


Jay’s Father suffers a heart attack while hanging a BLACKHAWKS flag near the chimney. He grabs his chest, losing his balance. But rather than fall forward off the roof, he’s caught on the flag pole. After a moment, he dies, sorta standing, arm up.

Worst part was nobody knew it right away. So my Dad hung up
on that roof ‘til dark. The whole neighborhood just waved at him.

People are passing by on the neighborhood street: Post Man, Woman with Stroller, even the Milk Man. Each wave at Blue Jay’s dead father on the roof.


Back to Jay and Buddy on the backyard rink.

(ruefully, sotto)
Goddamn the overly-polite Illinois suburbs…
(shakes it off)
When he died, it left a hole in me I wanted to climb inside and never
come out of. I’d cry myself to sleep every night.

(cautiously engaged)
You’d cry?

Sure. He was my Dad.
But then I remembered why my Dad was on that roof: he loved his
Hawks. My ol’ man never picked up a stick in his life, but he loved
The Game. Drove us to see the Junior B out in the Soo every season.
One time, we even went to Maple Leaf Gardens. Leafs and Hawks.
Not a great night for the Hawks, lemme tell ya’. I’ll betcha nobody who
played in the Gardens that night probably even remembers that game…
But I know I’ll never forget it.

Buddy smiles warmly. Jay’s got him on the ropes.

And I started thinking that, by playing hockey, I’d have my Dad back
in some little way. Not back, y’know – just… around.
Kinda. So I threw myself into The Game. And whenever I’d play, I’d
feel closer to my Dad. And even better? The crying stopped. Know why?

Buddy wants to know. Blue Jay closes.

Once I got on that ice? I let it all go. All that anger, all
that sadness? I skated it out. I scrummed it away. I became a scrapper!

Blue Jay puts the sweater in Buddy’s hands.

I’d like to give you the chance to do the same. On my team.

- Copyright Kevin Smith