EXT. ROAD - MORNING
A BLACK WOMAN, ALMA, walks towards us, hauling a BUNDLE
of newly cut CANE. And then --
She spots a DOG.
The dog GROWLS at her. This gives her pause, until...
She begins to GROWL right back at it.
And then the dog starts to BARK.
So she starts to BARK too.
There’s some distance between them, but here they are,
barking. It’s loud and strange and just this side of
surreal. Until -The
dog gives in. The woman wins.
The dog sits, panting. And then -The
dog turns and trots down the road. Surprised, Alma
watches him go, craning her neck until she sees...
A GRAND CARRIAGE
Pulled by TWO HORSES, stopped by the side of the road.
A frail, old CARRIAGE DRIVER sits atop.
The dog stops next to the carriage. Sits.
Alma approaches, cautious, until -A
From the carriage.
A WHITE WOMAN, PRUDENCE, bursts from the carriage,
running like a banshee. Her FINE CLOTHES are undone,
cascading around her body.
The DOG takes off after her, BARKING.
Alma watches her run, and then -BANG!
Prudence falls to the ground, DEAD.
The dog stops barking. Sniffs the body.
Alma shifts her gaze back towards the carriage, where she
can just make out the TIP of the BARREL of a GUN through
the open door.
And lowering his still smoking pistol, a MAN emerges from
the carriage in the uniform of a UNION SOLDIER.
He tucks his shirt into his unbuttoned pants.
This is HENRY. He’s slick and young and has the eyes of
an animal. It’s unclear if he knows right from wrong, or
if he even cares.
Casually, he buttons his pants.
Now the Carriage Driver sees Alma. A momentary look of
FEAR passes between them. And then Henry notices Alma,
she starts to back away, until -CLICK.
A SECOND UNION SOLDIER comes up behind her. A GUN pointed
at her head.
And before she can even scream --
He shoots her in the head. She falls down, DEAD.
This is MOSES.
He has the kind of good looks that are always getting him
into -- and out of -- trouble. For a man capable of such
cruelty, his eyes are surprisingly warm.
No one would call Moses a bad man, but they wouldn’t call
him a good one, either.
The Carriage Driver closes his eyes and looks away.
Henry smiles and takes an OLD FLASK he’s found in the
carriage. He takes a SIP and winces at the unexpected
taste of brandy.
And then -
He pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket, stuffs it into
the neck of the flask, looks up at the Carriage Driver...
And LIGHTS it, throwing it into the carriage. Henry has
his fun UNTIL --
The Carriage Driver GRABS the reigns and hits the horse,
who takes off -Moses
tries to stop the carriage, stepping IN FRONT of
it, but he is forced to get out of its way --
Air whips around the carriage, fanning the FIRE -Moses
raises his RIFLE -The
Carriage Driver keeps the horse running as the flames
begin to ENGULF the carriage and -BANG!
The Carriage Driver SLUMPS OVER. Dead.
But the horse and carriage continue to run.
Henry walks over to where Moses stands. They watch it as
I coulda’ used a horse.
Moses looks in the direction of dead Prudence. He makes
sure Henry knows he could have had her first, for
I coulda’ used a woman.
He tosses his now spent cigarette and the soldiers
continue down the road, followed by their dog.
IN THE DISTANCE:
The BURNING CARRIAGE is pulled crazily along by the
And then, our title:
THE KEEPING ROOM
EXT. FARMHOUSE - AFTERNOON
Still. Spare. Yellow. Brown.
The SOUND of HOES hitting dirt as images come in and out:
-- Some old TREES.
-- A FARMHOUSE, small but proud and in the middle of