Living Proof

Adopted at infancy, a pro minor league ice-hockey player searches for his biological parents during a championship season where his dream of playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins hangs on a thread and a prayer. But his quest to find his birth parents is a little more disruptive to his life than expected and he finds himself more on a journey of enlightenment than discovery.

The story begins at an award ceremony where the MC gives praise to the next winner of the Opus Writing Award. PJ, our hero, sits in the audience and reminisces. This nostalgic ‘time out’ takes us on a journey. We see PJ as the captain of his minor league hockey team. He excels during the championship series. In game seven the opposing coach, Charles Petzinger, instructs Malecki, his star player, to take PJ out of action. A malicious check sends PJ to the hospital with a concussion and a broken jaw. Another championship lost. Another season without being brought up to the Pittsburgh Penguin camp. And now the doctor wants PJ to quit, and so do his parents.

PJ has always loved his adopted parents. Finding his birth-parents never interested him. But with the recent injury and championship loss, PJ develops a renewed interest to become a professional player - his only measure of success in life. He also wants to find his birth parents. He wants to tell them they made a mistake in giving him up for adoption. The problem is he has no idea who his birth parents are, and his caring and loving adopted father, William, appears hurt, angry over PJ’s sudden interest in his bloodlines. Still, PJ begins his investigation during a crucial season where his team hires Petzinger as the new coach and Malecki as the new captain of the team.

PJ soon finds himself competing with his nemeses, Malecki. PJ is relegated to second line. His insecurities mount, further increasing his desire to know why his blood parents didn’t want him. He begins to write his story secretly and shares his memoirs with his fiancée. She’s a teacher and will travel to France for several months. When she returns she wants PJ to make a commitment of marriage, an act he’s not willing to do until they are financially settled. More pressures on PJ.

While PJ and Malecki battle for the scoring championship, he finds out whom his blood mother is – a callous person who wants to be left alone. His birth father, a Canadian Hall-Of-Fame hockey player, never knew he had a son. Afraid of rejection, PJ does not confront him. Instead, he becomes more committed than ever to play hockey and become an NHL player.

The critical championship series comes and goes. PJ is the series hero, but the Penguins cut him anyway for medical reasons. Too many concussions. Too many hospital bills. Too old, perhaps. We end the story where we began – at the Opus Award Ceremony. William found a copy of PJ’s memoirs and secretly entered it into the contest. It won and as PJ talks at the podium about his story, Fred Harrnington, his birth-father walks in – an arrangement William made on the sly.

As we listen to PJ’s Voice Over from the award ceremony, we visually jump several years in the future. We watch through a video camera and we see PJ and his adopted son skating on a pond. PJ admits his unfocused goals of the past were based on superficial wants and desires, and he explains his realization of who and what he has become is a reflection of the love and hard work of his adopted parents. And he is one of the luckiest men alive to be loved by a woman like Lauren who skates into the frame and offers a kiss and a hug. As PJ talks about the new life and relationships, Fred and William pan into view. They frolic on the ice with hockey sticks and a puck … a little awkward from age, perhaps, but genuinely having fun. At last, PJ finds peace.

Script Excerpt Interviews
Written by:
Starring Roles For:
Denis Leary
Kiefer Sutherland
Author Bio:
Since retiring early in 1998, Robert has written 2 novels, 2 non-fiction books, 12 screenplays and 3 stage plays. His body of work has been recognized in over 300 festival, stage, book and screenplay competitions around the world (over 180 of those were finalist or better). The finalist or better placements include book, screen and stage play successes in Faulkner/Wisdom Creative Writing contest, Norumbego Fiction Award, Chesterfield, Writer's Network, Dana Awards, Frontiers in Writing, SFWP (Santa Fe), etc.

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Contest Results:
Screenplay Festival (Finalist) [2004]
Adapted Screenplay (Semifinalist, 2015) [2015]