1Scene 7

INT. TESS' LIVING ROOM - DUSK (ONE WEEK LATER)

Tess and Mrs. Rogers are in Tess' living room. Tess is curled up on couch (sad, silent) and Mrs. Rogers gets up to leave. Mrs. Rogers opens the door, looks back at Tess, and leaves. Tess stays sitting for a moment, then quietly gets up, sets the table and checks the oven. Door bangs open and Jason storms in, Tess swings her head to look up at the sound.

JASON

(sarcastic, snide)

Oh, so you finally notice me? What changed?

TESS

(quiet, confused)

What?

JASON

You know exactly what I am talking about. Ever since we graduated and came here, you don't even look at me. I came out to this middle-of-nowhere, back-country, (searches for word) village for you and you totally ignore me! We have been together how long? A year? And the second we come out here, you start smiling and making puppy eyes at some "deputy" who can't make enough of a life for himself to leave this hell-hole. You need to get your priorities straight, and while you do, I am going back to San Diego.

TESS

(looks down)

You know that isn't fair. My father, (chokes on a sob) it's only been a week.

JASON

Do I? I gave up all of the comforts of today's civil society to come out back to the Sticks with you. I'm sick of being laughed at and made fun of because the clothes that I wear are less than ten years old and I can't count at least five Bubbas within the past two generations of my family tree.

TESS

(getting defensive)

Well, you haven't exactly been Mr. Agreeable yourself since you got here. They were just having a little fun with you and you take it as a personal insult to your (air quotes) manliness or something. You have been acting like some kind of cry baby whenever something doesn't go your way. Maybe you leaving for a while is a good idea, I won't stop you. I mean, name anyone here and I can guarantee that they have treated me better in the past weeks than you have.

JASON

(working himself up, sneers)

Yeah, I know. I can see what's going on. (ambles closer, slowly) Right when we get here, I see you and him, (spits name) John. Smiling and laughing, hanging all over him. It was disgusting, and right in front of me. You make me sick.

Jason reaches Tess, back-hands her. Tess falls into the table, knocks dishes and silverware to the floor.

JASON(cont.)

(furious)

What, did you think I didn't notice, didn't see? Think I was just going to let some other guy put his hands all over you?

Tess starts to get up. Jason kneels in front of Tess, looks her in the eye, puts his hands on her shoulders and keeps her from getting up.

TESS

(looking defiant, out of breath)

Well, (looks down at his hands) he would be the first man to touch me since my father died.

Jason becomes absolutely furious. Jason grabs Tess' forearms and shakes her.

JASON

(yells)

You whore!

Jason back-hands Tess again.

INTERCUT: EXT. TESS' FRONT PORCH

John walks up the front steps, he is still dressed in his uniform. He raises his hand to knock when a crash is heard from inside. John quickly lowers his hand.

JOHN

(hesitant, shout)

Tess!

There is no answer, but more sounds can be heard from inside.

JOHN

(speaking into his radio)

This is Deputy Brown. I am at the Wayne Ranch. I need immediate backup.

John puts his radio away and after drawing his gun, tries the door. It is locked. He backs up and kicks the door in, quickly entering the house. John enters, sees Jason near Tess.

JOHN

(yelling, authoritatively)

Jason! Let go of her!

Jason ignores John.

JASON

(screaming in Tess' face)

You couldn't take a real man? Is that it? Huh? Is that it?

JOHN

Jason! Let go of Tess and step back with your hands up!

Jason continues to ignore John. John holsters his gun and runs at Jason. John grabs Jason and hauls him away from Tess. John slams Jason against the wall and wrenches his arms behind his back. Sirens are heard approaching as John takes out his handcuffs and shackles Jason's hands behind his back. Jason continues his accusations, but is now smiling.

JASON

You are really something! First you steal my girlfriend, then you arrest me? I thought small towns were supposed to show hospitality. But the first thing that happens when we get here? My girlfriend hooks up with some wanna-be cop who can't even pay for his bus ticket out of a small town.

JOHN

(whispers menacingly)

I warned you about hurting my little sister, you didn't listen. Life is about to get a hell of a lot harder for you.

An officer rushes in the door, John gives him a thumbs up.

JOHN

(to the officer)

It's all clear. Here, take him to the station and get him through booking.

OFFICER

(nods)

Yes sir.

The officer takes Jason by his cuffed hands and leads him to the door. John hears a noise and turns just in time to catch Tess as she runs for Jason, eyes filled with hatred and a wooden baseball bat in her hand. John grabs her gently around the waist and ducks his head to avoid the swinging bat. His hold turns into a hug as Tess relinquishes her hold on the bat into John's hand and melts into angry tears. John drops the bat and starts rubbing her back. John makes soothing noises into Tess' ear as she cries into his shoulder. John turns to look over his shoulder at the officer and Jason who had stopped to see what was happening. Jason is smiling.

JOHN

(angrily)

Get him out of here!

The officer again started to lead Jason out.

JOHN

Oh, and officer.

The officer stops and turns to look at John.

JOHN(cont.)

(nods head indicating Jason)There is no need to be gentle.

OFFICER

Yes sir.

The officer turns and yanks on Jason's manacles, dragging him through the door as John sat Tess on the couch and whispered in her ear.

JOHN

There, it's okay. I'm here now, there, see? It's alright.

Tess snuggles up to John and continues crying.

JOHN

Come on now, everything is alright now.

Tess looks up at John, then pushes herself up and wipes at her eyes.

TESS

No, its not... It's just that... (sighs) I can take care of some city boy who thinks that he is man enough to hit a woman, but... Oh God, John, (puts her head on John's shoulder) I miss him so much.

JOHN

(stroking her hair)

I know, I know. We all do.

SCENE 8

INT. COURT ROOM - MORNING

The judge's gavel peals throughout the courtroom three times for silence. The noise dies down and the bored JUDGE HAWTHORNE surveys the muted courtroom. Jason sits on one side of the aisle with his lawyer and Tess with the PROSECUTOR on the other. Tess has a black eye and a cut lip and has a look that could kill directed at Jason. Jason is lounging in his seat seemingly carefree and acting as if this were a joke. The judge addresses the courtroom.

JUDGE

(bored)

Quiet down, lets get this over with. Okay, charges?

The officer steps forward and clears her throat.

OFFICER

Yes Your Honor. The defendant is accused with assault in the second degree.

JUDGE

(looking at Jason)

And how do you plead?

Jason's lawyer stops him from answering with a sharp look.

JASON'S LAWYER

Not guilty your honor.

The judge looks expectantly over at Tess and the prosecution.

JUDGE

And what do you say to this?

PROSECUTOR

(formally)

The people ask for hold without bail, Your Honor.

JUDGE

(raises eyebrows in surprise)

That's quite steep, don't you think?

PROSECUTOR

No, Your Honor. The defendant comes from a wealthy family in San Diego with many connections.

JUDGE

I still don't see how that warrants no bail in a second degree assault case.

PROSECUTOR

(to Tess)

Show her. (Turns back to judge as Tess begins to take off her jacket to reveal a tee-shirt underneath.) Your Honor can see what was done to her face (indicating eye and lip), but look at what else was done.

Tess stands next to the prosecutor without the cover of her jacket. With her arms bare, large black and blue bruises clearly defined in the shape of hands are shown on her forearms. Tess stands there strongly and almost defiantly as the judge looks at the injuries with a barely composed face, though a hint of horror and disgust show.

JUDGE

(clears throat)

I see. Well, I am sorry, but I cannot hold without bail with these charges, but bail is set at $10,000.

The judge struck the stand with her gavel three times as simultaneous outbursts from the benches in front of her nearly blast her eardrums.

JASON'S LAWYER

(simultaneous #1)

$10,000! Your Honor, please! That is a bit excessive, don't you think?

TESS

(simultaneous #2)

#10,000! That's nothing to him! He will be out before I even get home!

JUDGE

(after gaining attention with gavel)

This is my decision, I am sorry to disappoint you, but here, it is law. That means no if's, and's or but's about it. Do we understand each other?

Tess, Jason, and Jason's lawyer all grudgingly nod their heads or murmur their agreements.

JUDGE

Good, next! (raps gavel once on stand)

Jason is lead out by the officer and smiled wickedly at Tess as her passes her. Tess gives him a venomous glare and, once he has exited, turns and walks out with a hard, decisive look.

SCENE 9

INT. POLICE STATION

The officer walks into the police station with a cup of coffee in each hand to find John hunched over his desk, writing, alone. John looks up as the officer walks in, smiles and stretches.

JOHN

Hey, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be watching Jason?

OFFICER

Oh, well, not anymore. He paid his bail, so I got out and headed over for some coffee. Here, I got you some also. Cream, no sugar, right?

John stands quickly, knocking over his chair.

JOHN

(hastily)

What?

OFFICER

Oh, was it sugar, no cream? Sorry, here take mine, I'll...

JOHN

No! What you said before. Jason is out?

OFFICER

Oh, yeah. He was released because he paid his bail.

John looks around frantically, then talks while grabbing his coat and his gun belt.

JOHN

How long ago was this?

OFFICER

(confused)

I don't know, an hour maybe? I stopped for coffee and well, those doughnuts just called to me, then some of the guys were there so ... Hey, where are you going?

JOHN

Wayne Ranch, come on.

John heads towards quickly towards the door, the officer follows, carefully carrying the coffee.

OFFICER

What are you getting so worked up about? Even if Jason heads there, there are a bunch of guys working there, he can't touch her.

JOHN

It's not her I'm worried about, it's him.

SCENE 10

EXT. WAYNE RANCH - DAY

Tess pulls in to her driveway, returning from court. She still has the same hard look on her face as she steps out of her car and goes into her house. She goes into the dining room and takes the shotgun off of the wall, as well as the ammunition sitting beside it. Tess goes to leave the house, but before she walks out the door, she picks up the hat beside the door, brushes it on her knee, and puts it on her head. Once outside, she checks the gun, then loads it. Once finished, she leans against the house and waits for Jason to arrive. Within seconds, a car is heard coming up the driveway. It parks, Jason gets out and starts walking toward Tess. After a few steps, Tess raises the gun and aims it directly at Jason. Jason's step doesn't falter as he smiles.

JASON

(mockingly)

Oh please, put that down, you would never shoot me. You know it.

Tess moves the gun slightly and shoots, missing Jason by inches. Jason stops, but then moves forward again, his cocky smile lost. Tess aims the gun again and Jason stops, getting angry.

JASON

Tess, you put that gun down right now, or so help me God, we are over!

TESS

(mockingly)

If you haven't figured out that we are over already, then you are more stupid than my dad thought.

Ranch hands quietly line up and stand back, not interfering. Summoned by the gun shots, they quietly stand back and watch what is going on. Jason gets even angrier at this and starts toward Tess again, but is stopped as she once again raises the gun.

TESS

(menacingly)

Don't come near me. No one touches me like that. If you know what is good for you, you will get the hell out of here as fast as your pansy, city boy legs will take you.

JASON

I would very much like to see you make me.

TESS

(indicating gun)

This is me making you.

Jason pales and takes a step back.

JASON

You're crazy!

TESS

You've got no idea.

Jason turns and begins to walk away. Once his back is to her, Tess shoots at his feet.

JASON

Hey!

Tess laughs as she watches Jason scramble to his car.

RANCH HAND

(jokingly, to the hand next to him)

Hoo boy, look at him go! Ha, never seen anyone run so fast since Uncle Bernie raced Bubba for that last burger at last year's barbeque!

Ranch hands all laugh as they watch Jason scramble away. Tess smiles as Jason drives away as fast as he can. The hands all quiet down and look at Tess.

TESS

(feeling better, good mood, jokingly)

Well, what are you all looking at? Get back to work! I'm not paying you to stand around all day, am I?

The hands laugh and disperse. Once mostly gone, Tess leans the gun against the house and sits down. John pulls up and jumps out of the car, looking around as he approaches the house.

JOHN

(eying the gun)

Tess? Tess, where is he? What did you do to him?

Tess laughs and smiles at John, in an almost sad kind of way.

Gunpowder And Lead by: Miranda Lambert

TESS

Oh, nothing. Do you trust me so little? (sigh) He's gone, he isn't coming back.

JOHN

(looks serious, then smiles)

Didn't do anything you will regret, did you?

TESS

(smiling)

Regret? No. I'm pretty happy with myself actually.

JOHN

(squeezes Tess' shoulder)

That's my girl. Back only a few weeks and already all hell is breaking loose. Again. It was way to quiet these past few years, you know that?

TESS

Well, it's great to be home.

JOHN

It was never the same without you.