WHERE WE LEFT OFF: Staci, a journalism student, has convinced her friend Leon to shoot a documentary about apparent political corruption in a small town called Garretsburg. They interviewed a girl named Lisa who lived in this town. Her dad ran for mayor and, when he started asking too many questions, their house caught on fire and burned to the ground.
WHERE WE PICK UP:
Leon has already turned on his camera and is filming Staci packing their stuff in the back of the van. He makes some comments about them going off on their grand adventure that causes Staci to smile and roll her eyes. Leon then looks around the parking lot.
“So where’s Bethany? She is coming, right?” he asks.
“Don’t worry about it. She said she needed some time away from campus, and she seemed really excited when I talked to her about it last night. I’m sure she’ll be here any minute. Relax!” Staci says.
Sure enough, Bethany arrives. Bethany is a cute girl, dressed nicely, and has a bag slung over her shoulder. She smiles at Staci but then scowls at the camera. “Is that thing going to be going the whole time we’re gone?”
“Well, not always, but we are filming a documentary,” Leon says.
Bethany interrupts him. “Because I’m really hoping for some privacy while we’re gone.”
Staci frowns. “Why?”
Bethany looks over her shoulder and a guy walks up to her and puts his arm around her waist. “I asked Ray to come with us.”
The camera droops in Leon’s hand. It shifts as he turns to face Staci. “Staci, a word.”
They go off to one side. “I thought you said that Bethany broke up with Ray,” Leon says.
“I thought she did too!” Staci replies. “Last I heard, anyway. They must have gotten back together yesterday or something.”
Someone walks up to them. Leon angles the camera to reveal that it’s Bethany. She fixes Leon with a toxic look and turns to Staci. “Look, Ray and I need this time away from campus. I want to rekindle the romance, y’know?”
“This isn’t a vacation, Bethany,” Staci says. “We’re going to be doing some serious work while we’re gone.”
“Oh, I get that, but we’re not going to be working the whole time, right? There will be some time for fun. That’s what I’m hoping for. Ray won’t get in the way of your little film thing, don’t worry.”
“We going or not?” Ray shouts.
Leon turns to see Ray toss his bag into the back of the van, along with Bethany’s bag.
“I guess so,” Leon says, his voice bitter.
Bethany scoots over to Ray and throws her arms around him.
“Look, I know this isn’t what I promised,” Staci said. “But look at it this way: Ray’s a complete tool. Now Bethany can get to know you better and see what a great guy you are. Then you’ll be there for her when things go south again.”
“Great, so I can reserve my spot in the friend zone, huh?”
“C’mon, let’s go.”
The camera cuts to shots of the van driving along the highway, past farm fields and clumps of trees. Then it jump cuts to footage of Garretsburg, little snippets of sites we’ve already seen: the park, city hall. At one point, the van slows to a crawl next to a vacant lot. Staci reveals that this was where Lisa’s house stood before the fire. There’s no evidence that it was ever there. Leon wonders if they should go check out the property Lisa’s dad wanted to buy. Staci decides not to because it’s getting late.
Instead, they pull into the motel parking lot and Staci goes in to get their rooms. Leon and Ray have one, Staci and Bethany another. Leon puts his stuff in his room, only to hear a knock at the door. It’s Staci. She’s apparently been chased out of her room and needs a place to crash. Leon offers the other bed. Staci suggests they shut off the camera for the night, because their investigation starts in the morning.
So there we go. We have our four intrepid (and ultimately doomed) college kids. I’m trying to be a bit better about describing how I visualized a lot of this. As always, let me know what you think.