INT. HOUSE - NIGHT

WILLA sits on the edge of the couch. CHARLIE flips through channels, landing on Fox News. 

A kitchenette connects to the living room, separated by a bar. There, SHIRLEY fries up some sausages -- CIGARETTE in hand.

Shirley, 55, is a once-attractive blonde whose unhealthy habits make her look at least 10 years older.

Shirley lets the food cook, gulps her rum & coke, and takes a puff. All while reading a trashy paperback thriller, "Permanent Fix".

Willa watches, disgusted.

WILLA

I don't want any cigarette in my dinner, Stepmother.

CHARLIE

Don't mind the dangler. Shirley is a gourmet chef. Trust me.

SHIRLEY

(still reading)

The best in the West.

On the TV, flashing news coverage of the war entrances Charlie. But it makes Willa nervous.

NEWS ANCHOR

Today in Afghanistan 60 civilians were killed by US Forces when they received false intelligence from rival tribes. The government is investigating.

WILLA

That happened to us. 

CHARLIE

Well, that's war. At least they were just...

WILLA

Women and children.

CHARLIE

Well, what about my baby boys? They were there to liberate. But those camel cowboys murdered em'. 

WILLA

It's complicated. I went there to honor my brothers. And you.

CHARLIE

You're lucky you survived, young lady. They shouldn't let women on the battlefield.

Willa contains her anger. Slouches deeper onto the couch in the glow of the TV.

Charlie pays no attention. But Shirley sees Willa is in a SILENT PANIC.

SHIRLEY

You need a drink. Come here darlin'. What's your pleasure?

WILLA

You got Bourbon?

SHIRLEY

What kind of a question is that? 

Shirley puts a bottle of Bourbon and a glass on the bar. 

Willa pours herself a large glass and takes a sip. It calms her down.

WILLA

That's better. But this doesn't mean I condone your drinking, Stepmother.

Shirley laughs.

WILLA

How long have you been with daddy now?

SHIRLEY

Charlie and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary.

WILLA

I lost track. Probably because you eloped! Would have been nice to be at the wedding.

CHARLIE

Stop picking on your mother!

WILLA

Step-mother.

SHIRLEY

Evil Stepmother.

Willa scratches Shirley's head lovingly.

WILLA

Evil Stepmotherrr.

Shirley smiles, puffs, and gets back to her book.

Excerpt From "Masters of The Fall". Enquire For Funding Opportunities.

All Rights Reserved - Middle Cloud Media, Limited

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