Script – Gifts

INT. LOWER DECK ON THE LEVIATHAN – EVENING

The lower deck is lit by a plethora of hanging lamps, but is largely shadowed. Evening light filters in from the staircase to the upper deck. A variety of barrels and crates are stacked throughout the space. The lamps and other hanging goods sway with the rhythmic rocking of the ship.

A group of CHILDREN huddle in a corner, hiding behind and shielding each other in equal measure.

HART, the oldest of the children, stands slightly apart from them. His eyes are squeezed closed, his fists and jaw clenched. A loud SMACK echoes through the room, the sound of an open-handed slap.

There is a beat of stunned silence, then the WAILING of a child.

Hart forces his eyes open.

Another SMACK.

Hart winces.

CAPTAIN WARD is a weathered, middle-aged man dressed in the livery of a pirate captain. He is standing over RHOADES, the youngest of the children, holding the terrified boy by the front of his shirt. Ward’s open hand is upraised.

WARD
How many times have I fucking told you?

Ward SLAPS Rhoades again.

Rhoades wails.

WARD
You come back successful or you don’t come back at all!

Ward SLAPS Rhoades again. Rhoades falls silent now.

WARD (cont.)
A pirate that can’t steal is useless. Uselessness is death. Do you want to die?

Hart’s hand goes to his NECKLACE as he looks on, horrified. The necklace is a simple pendant on a leather cord.

EXT. Port sumter docks – day (Flashback)

The docks are alive with people milling about, loading and unloading ships, trading, fishing. The group of CHILDREN are gathering around Hart on the dock, showing each other the trinkets they’ve managed to steal.

RHOADES comes scrambling down the deck, holding a NECKLACE aloft.

RHOADES
I did it! I stole something!

HART
You did not.

RHOADES
(indignant)
I did so! Swiped it right off a stand. Look, look, it’s beautiful!

Hart scoops Rhoades under the arms and spins him, whooping. The children cheer, giving general congratulations. After a few spins, Hart sets Rhoades down on the dock.

RHOADES
(breathless, grinning)
You should have it, Hart.

The group of children grow quiet suddenly, looking to one another. Hart looks concerned.

HART
W-what?

CHILD #1
You can’t! You have to turn it in with the rest. You know what’ll happen.

RHOADES
(his lip quivering)
But I don’t want to turn it in with the rest. (turning to Hart) I want you to have it. You’re the one that taught me, not… him. Please, Hart.

Rhoades holds out the NECKLACE to Hart. Hart hesitates. He knows Rhoades will be in trouble if he doesn’t bring back a share. There always is. Rhoades holds the necklace out more insistently and Hart finally takes it.

INT. LOWER DECK ON THE LEVIATHAN – EVENING

Ward is holding Rhoades in his grasp, his hand held high to deliver another slap. The boy is nearly limp now.

Hart darts forward and grabs Ward’s upraised arm.

HART
Stop! (pause, then quieter) Please just stop.

Ward stops and slowly turns to look at Hart. Hart holds his gaze; he’s determined but terrified. Without a word, Ward stands, lets Rhoades fall to the deck, and leaves.

As Ward disappears up the steps to the top deck, the group of children swarms Rhoades. Seemingly from nowhere they pull bandages and salves and dress Rhoades’ wounds.

Hart stands defensively between the children and where Ward disappeared up the stairs.

INT. BUNKS ON THE LEVIATHAN – Evening

Hart carries Rhoades gingerly to a hammock. The necklace thumps against his chest with every step.

EXT. FOREDECK OF THE LEVIATHAN – NIGHT

Hart sits alone on the deck, staring up at the swath of STARS.

Ward appears, a bottle of BOOZE in his hand, and takes a seat next to Hart before he can protest. Ward ruffles Hart’s hair gently. Hart visibly relaxes.

They look at the stars together for a beat.

WARD
You think I didn’t notice your new piece of jewelry? You can’t hide things from me, boy.

HART
(grabbing the necklace)
I found it.

WARD
If you’re going to lie to me, do a better job than that.

HART
(softly)
Please don’t take it.

Ward stands and dusts off his coat. He takes a long drink from the booze bottle and sets it down next to Hart.

WARD
You better take care of it. He paid for it in blood.

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