Tree-planting is Life

EXT. DAY.

Davis plants slowly, stops and stares off into the grey sky. He rips a piece of flagging tape, ties it off, counts three paces for the next tree, throws the shovel into the ground and plants a tree. He swats at the mosquitoes, which swarm all over his face, and wipes at the sweat dripping down his neck and face, as he continues to plant, wearily and mechanically. He plants along the edge of the forest again, looking up into the darkness.

CUT TO:

INT. NIGHT.

Davis sits slumped forward, his face down, at the bench in the Quonset hut. It looks as if his face might actually be in his food. A chant begins behind him.

TREEPLANTERS: Fuck this fish! Fuck this fish!

One of the treeplanters throws a plate of food at another. A food fight ensues. Timor, camera in hand, runs amongst the screaming planters, filming the scene like an action picture. Davis never raises his head, not even when the cook comes out screaming with a fire ax.

COOK: Out of my tent! Out! OUT!!!

The mob stampedes out of the Quonset hut. Davis remains slumped over.

CUT TO:

EXT. DAY.

Davis plants slowly up a steep slope. He grabs a branch to pull himself over a pile of slash and throws the shovel in, dropping a tree into the hole, kicking it in, and continuing up, kicking hard through the brush.

DAVIS (Half signing Cordelia by The Tragically Hip):It takes all your power to prove that you don’t care.(Pause)I’m not Cordelia, I will not be there.

He continues to wearily yet determinedly plant trees. He looks up and sees Max fifty yards away, his tree-planting bags hanging at his side, standing on a tree stump. A crow sits on a fallen tree above, cawing at him.

MAX: Flee from me, you monster! Flee!

The crow moves back and forth, still cawing, on the branch. Max suddenly leaps off the stump and runs wildly away, appearing in and out of the slash, the crow paying little attention, until he suddenly stumbles and vanishes out of sight with a hard thud. Davis drops his bags and, as the crow flies lazily off, runs over to find Max sprawled out face down in the muck.

DAVIS (Kneeling beside Max): Max.

MAX (Groaning, face covered in mud): Did you see that Grizzly, man?

DAVIS: It was a crow, Max.

MAX (Pause): You have anything to drink? A martini. That’s what I am thinking.

EXT. NIGHT.

Davis sits in the hot tub with a small group, including Max, Graham, Cindy, Emily and three other treeplanters. Allan, wearing his Baller hat as usual, arrives, drops his towel and climbs into the tub.

ALLAN (Opening a bottle of beer): You guys hear about the Grizzly?

CINDY: Girlfriend in town?

ALLAN: Three people mauled. (Guzzling his beer) They just radioed Tony twenty minutes ago.

MAX: I was mauled by a raven.

ALLAN: You were mauled, man? By a raven?

MAX: Well, not ‘mauled’ mauled.

ALLAN: These people were actually fucking mauled.

CINDY: (Mocking him) They were mauled, man.

ALLAN: Ask Tony.

CINDY: You know what my problem is with you?

ALLAN: That you can’t have me.

CINDY: You’re what’s wrong with this place, Allan. You just keep talking and talking. When all you’re supposed to do is plant trees, just that. (Pause) You just don’t stop. And you’re not going to stop, are you?

TREEPLANTER #1: Is that, like, Schopenhauer?

TONY (Walking by the hot tub, a load of fire axes over his shoulder): How’s the water, kiddies?

ALLAN (Almost in falsetto): Tell them about the Grizzly, Tony.

TONY: Mauled three.

ALLAN: What did I tell you?

TONY: How are your numbers, Cindy Lou?

CINDY (With contempt): What do you think, Tony-O?

TONY (To TREE-PLANTER #1): You crack a thou?

TREE-PLANTER #1: 900.

TONY (Nodding at Graham): What about this guy? You balling it or what?

GRAHAM: I got in eight and a half.

MAX (Muttering to Davis): Why doesn’t he say eight hundred and fifty, like a normal person?

TONY: You hear what this guy’s doing, Davis? You got that in you? (Turning to Max) Who’s this guy? You still even on my fucking crew?

Max stares back at him.

TONY: Clock’s ticking, buddy. You got me? Plant or walk. Got it?

Max stares back, expressionless. Tony walks away.

GRAHAM (Reciting from The Power of Myth):The conquest of the fear of death is the life’s joy. Life in its becoming is always shedding death and on the point of death. The conquest of fear yields the courage of life.

ALLAN: Yeah, man. It’s a good day to die.

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