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The Barking Spider

When Joe’s 39 year-old addicted and pregnant daughter appears on his doorstep, his sedentary life is about to disappear forever.

This drama is about an unlikely bond that develops between Joe, and his granddaughter, Lana. Joe appears lifeless after his wife dies, and his son, Steven, provides the only human contact for an otherwise sedentary existence. Joe’s crankiness dominates his will and the only thing that matches his dwindling spirit is his declining retirement fund. Steven manages his IRA and, based on a stock tip, Joe has Steven invest his entire retirement in a company who creates special effects for movies. Bad choice. The only revering spirit Joe has is his desire to go to France. Joe’s wife always wanted to go to Paris but he was forever finding excuses why not to go, which ran the gambit from not being able to afford it, to accusing the French of spitting on Americans. He now regrets his obstinacy for not fulfilling his wife’s dreams, and wants to go to Paris to dump his wife’s ashes in the Seine River, an act, he hopes, that will help him sleep better at night. But his addicted and pregnant daughter, Dixie, appears on his doorstep and his life becomes … well, complicated. Once Lana is born Joe must make room in his life for rearing a baby girl. He has neither the patience nor desire to do so, but something happens to Joe when he first lays eyes on Lana. It might’ve been her smile, or the way she flashes her eyes at him. Joe doesn’t quite know what, or exactly when, it hit him, but an unusual and strong bond develops between the old man and Lana. It lessens the pain of diaper changing – or ‘re-training’, as he might call it. His retirement fund is dwindling, but Lana provides a lot of hope in his life, and escape as well. His daughter continues to drink and drug, so Joe files for custody of Lana and kicks Dixie out of the house for being a bad influence. Now, he must go it alone. Lana gets sick, and with all emergency vehicles taken because of a fire in town, he must rush her to the hospital himself and corner a doctor to help her. He introduces her to the trees, the birds, and the wind, everything there is to see and feel. He takes her everywhere. Lana learns the value of ‘twinkle thinking’ and cherishes heroes like ‘thing one’ and ‘thing two’ who help her grow up. Joe tutors her during their evening meals, and tells her fake stories of how he became a champion boxer in the service. She takes dance classes, plays basketball and runs track, and Joe sees to it that there are more to these activities than just developing a talent. Life’s lessons are found in everything she does. Even when she farts, there’s humor in blaming the barking spider. In return, Joe’s life becomes full of love and hope, and it doesn’t matter that his retirement fund keeps falling. Money, all of a sudden, doesn’t have the same meaning as it did in the past. But the new company signs a 10 picture movie deal with Disney and he becomes a multi-millionaire in the process. Just when he learns of his good fortune, as fate would have it, he has a stroke and becomes paralyzed and unable to talk, or take care of himself. Dixie comes back into the picture and files for custody of Joe – or more to the point, custody of the new multi-million dollar estate. Lana, now 16, faces the problem head on and after a failed attempt to get custody of Joe herself, she takes Joe to Paris for the trip of his lifetime. She also finds a doctor in France who, as it turns out, may just find the treatment Joe needs to declare himself independent, the very quality he has valiantly taught Lana, our real hero, who adds a new meaning to the adage all’s well that ends well.

Script Excerpt Interviews
Format:
Screenplay
Genres:
Starring Roles For:
Harrison Ford
Hillary Swank
Dustin Hoffman
Posted:
09/19/2012
Updated:
09/23/2020
Author Bio:
Lois just joined her husband in writing this script - her first credit - a tribute to our great-granddaughter, and a tribute to Lois efforts as the consummate editor. 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:
Winnipeg Real to Reel (First Place) [2017]
American Movie Awards (First Place) [2017]
Filmmatic Short (Finalist) [2020]
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