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IN THE RUNNING "Pilot"

Written by K.C. Skeldon

kcskeldon@gmail.com (781) 507-4995


COLD OPEN INT. WESTVILLE HIGH HALLWAY - MID-MORNING The off-white walls, scuffed-tile floor, and battered lockers of Westville High sit silently for a beat. Then, a DIGITAL BELL sounds. Students begin pouring out of classrooms. The male students are loud and rowdy, wearing baggy jeans and sports jerseys. The female students group together in yoga pants-dense gaggles, purses and hobo bags swinging. We begin to follow one student: MEL, 17, dodges these clumps, anxiously squeezing the straps of her beat-up backpack. A large water bottle in her bag’s side pocket is labeled with her name: MEL STEWART. She turns down a new hallway. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS Mel continues on, walking with purpose. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH BAND HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS Mel starts down the band hallway, maneuvering around students removing instrument cases from large wooden lockers. A couple students turn to wave at her; she shoots them nods. She reaches a row of doors and enters one. CUT TO: INT. BAND HALL PRACTICE ROOM - CONTINUOUS MATT, 17, stands by a piano, sorting sheet music. MATT So you made your escape. MEL That I did.


2. As they talk, other students, mostly 15/16-year-old boys, begin entering with trombones. MATT Missed you before homeroom. MEL Senior lot was full. I had to park on Oak. Mel reaches into her bag and pulls out a packet of pills. Matt turns to look at her, and we see, in a rare turn of events, that he’s a good-looking band geek. MATT Little early to be popping pills, don’t you think? Mel rolls her eyes and dry swallows a tablet. Matt pretends to be impressed. MEL I just had long block calc, so my mold allergy’s acting up. He gives a sad nod. MATT Drumline Ed’s mom dropped off muffins. He pauses. Mel begins taking folders out of her bag. Matt reaches over to his bag and pulls out a muffin. MATT (CONT’D) I saved you one. Mel looks up and smiles. MEL You’re too good, Matthew Griffin. Matt shrugs it off as Mel bites into the muffin. He is about to say something else, but is interrupted. TROMBONE GEEK 1 Why does your girlfriend always come to sectionals? MEL/MATT I’m not his girlfriend/She’s not my girlfriend. They pause, avoiding each other’s eyes.


3. A new female voice comes in from offscreen. KELLY (O.S.) You overscheduled little music geeks don’t know this, but study hall is a nightmare. KELLY, 17, has a hint of crazy. KELLY (CONT’D) You see, while you nerds take your special music kid summer gym class and fill up your blocks with choir and band and orchestra— TROMBONE GEEK 2 And a cappella. Kelly steps further into the room and glares at him. Matt and Mel share a smile. TROMBONE GEEK 2 (CONT’D) (timdly) Sorry. KELLY Anyway, the rest of us have to go to study hall. And they don’t separate the honors kids from the college prep kids. She stares the scared nerds down. KELLY (CONT’D) And you’re stuck in this madness for forty-seven minutes, four to five times a week. And try as you might... She approaches one of the geeks, and in doing so, we see that she’s by far the shortest person in the room. KELLY (CONT’D) ...you won’t be able to get a bathroom pass. She steps back, satisfied. MEL What’s up, Kelly?


4. KELLY Could I grab the list of court cases for Gov from you? No idea where mine went. Mel rolls her eyes and reaches into her bag. She hands Kelly the sheet. Kelly begins to sit down. MEL Woah, dude, you’re not staying. Get up. I’ve got Virgil to do. Kelly furrows her brow. KELLY You’re gonna do these virgins? Mel rolls her eyes. MEL Latin, man. Right.

KELLY

She pauses. KELLY (CONT’D) It’s really lame they canceled the program. Mel shrugs. MEL I’d almost be okay with it if they’d let me teach myself somewhere quiet instead of throwing me in study hall. Matt begins leading the trombone players in scales. Kelly grimaces. KELLY You want some Adderall? I could spare a couple. MEL I’m good, thanks. One of the trombone players looks out the door. TROMBONE GEEK 3 Mr. Lipton’s coming!


5. Perfectly coordinated, Matt and two of the trombone players rotate the piano so the keyboard side is against the wall. As they move the piano, Kelly and Mel position themselves between wall and the foot pedals, hiding in the nook under the piano. Mr. Lipton, 50s, hair sacrificed to generations of high school musicians, enters. MR. LIPTON Sounding excellent this morning! Is there anything you wanted to go over with me? MATT I think we’re fine, but I’ll let you know if— TROMBONE GEEK 1 (with a degree of malice) Mr. Lipton, the triplets in measure eighty of the march you gave us on Tuesday are killing me. Mel and Kelly roll their eyes at each other. MR. LIPTON Well, let’s see here... Kelly resignedly reaches for a chunk of Mel’s muffin. END OF COLD OPEN


6. ACT ONE INT. HALLWAY - AFTERNOON A handwritten sign on a classroom door reads “Room reserved for quiz bowl.” CUT TO: INT. CLASSROOM - CONTINUOUS Mel and three fellow QUIZ BOWLERS, all 15-16, sit at desks in a tight circle. A fifth desk remains empty. QUIZ BOWLER 1 Should...we get started? Mel sighs. QUIZ BOWLER 2 Sarah got really mad when we started without her last time. QUIZ BOWLER 3 We could just do some homework. The three Quiz Bowlers pause, then reach into their backpacks. Mel watches them. QUIZ BOWLER 2 Have you guys outlined the history essay yet? QUIZ BOWLER 3 Yeah, but I think I want to reorder my paragraphs and add in a bit about the Frontier Thesis. QUIZ BOWLER 2 Good call. Leonards loves the Frontier Thesis. Mel stands up. MEL I’m so sick of waiting around. This is our scheduled time, and I don’t care that Sarah has Habitat for the Manatees—


7. QUIZ BOWLER 2 She has recycling club on Thursdays. Mel glares at Quiz Bowler 2. MEL Quiz bowl matters. We’re the only competitive non-music or sports representation this school has. Our school may be an academic joke, but we don’t have to be. And just because Sarah has the need to take over every club and then half-ass all of them— She is cut off by the aggressive head-shaking of Quiz Bowler 1. She turns to look in the doorway, where Sarah, 17 and preppy, stands. MEL (CONT’D) (coolly) Thanks for joining us. Sarah struts in with a curt smile. Her voice is grossly sweet. SARAH I was just making some copies of last year’s preliminary round questions. MEL We finished those last week. After you left early for newspaper. Oh.

SARAH

She looks down at the sheets. SARAH (CONT’D) Then who is the only individual to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes? MEL Linus Pauling. SARAH The only sitting House member to be elected president?


8. MEL (increasing in intensity) James Garfield. SARAH (coolly) The literary device which refers to the inversion of word order? MEL (nearly shouting) Anastrophe! SARAH (whining) Will you let one of them answer? MEL THAT’S NOT HOW QUIZ BOWL WORKS! The three Quiz Bowlers look on as Mel and Sarah de-escalate from their standoff. QUIZ BOWLER 2 (shyly) I remembered the one about Garfield. CUT TO: INT. MEL’S LIVING ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON Mel walks into her house: cluttered, cramped, lived-in, suburban. Fading sunlight illuminates how mismatched all the furnishings are. Hell-oooo?

MEL

No answer. Mel shrugs and flops down on the couch. She rests for a moment, and begins to close her eyes... CUT TO: INT. MEL’S LIVING ROOM - LATER A door shuts and Mel jerks awake. It’s fully dark now. Mel’s brother, ADAM (12), stands in the doorway with a cello case.


9. ADAM I need the TV now. Mel rubs her eyes. MEL Okay, okay. The door opens again and Mel’s sister, JULIA (14) enters in a huff. JULIA Move it, Ad-dumb. She pushes Adam aside and runs upstairs. Adam makes a face. He walks over to the couch and grabs the remote. The door opens again and Mel’s mother, EILEEN (45) enters, carrying a backpack. EILEEN (to Adam) Forget something? Adam rolls his eyes and goes over to take it from her. EILEEN (CONT’D) (to Mel) I think you’ll be on your own for dinner tonight; we’re all getting fast food on the way to the ice rink for Julia’s rehearsal, and then Adam and I are going to the mall to get him new dress slacks for orchestra. You had something on the calendar for tonight, right? Mel blinks. Oh, shoot.

MEL

She checks the time on her phone. Crap.

MEL (CONT’D)

She grabs her things and runs out the door. ADAM (staring at the TV) Can you sign my science test?


10. Eileen sighs. Mel runs back in. MEL You’re parking me in. Oh, shoot.

EILEEN

They both run out. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH THEATER TECH BOOTH - NIGHT Mel hurries into the tech booth and throws herself into a chair behind a desk, upon which sits a large lighting board. Above the desk, a glass window separates the booth from the auditorium. Mel hits a few buttons, turning on a pair of monitors. BRAD (O.S.) There you are. BRAD, 35, pops into the booth. He wears a press badge from the local TV station. He looks like he’d spend his adulthood living in his mom’s basement and working for local access. BRAD (CONT’D) I’ve been waiting; we need to see how this looks. Mel sighs. MEL Brad, it’s the same setup as two weeks ago. Which is the same as two weeks before that. Need I continue? BRAD I just need to make sure it looks good on camera. MEL Brad, it’s school committee. Brad doesn’t react. MEL (CONT’D) Never mind. Sure. Brad exits.


11. Mel fiddles with the board a little. Footsteps. MEL (CONT’D) Brad, if your camera is on the same spikes as last time, it’ll be fine. She waits for a reaction, then looks up. It’s not Brad, but DAVID, 17, awkwardly smiling. He’s at a school committee meeting on a Thursday night, and he’s not unhappy about it. DAVID I thought you said you were going to quit? MEL Oh. Hey, David. No, I realized I’d be guilted into training someone else to work the board, and we both know the limitations of my patience. DAVID Ah, yes. I recall the National Honor Society Tutoring Catastrophe of ‘16. MEL Do you donate to the survivors’ fund? DAVID I bought the little ribbon pin but I keep forgetting to mail in the check for my monthly pledge. Silence. DAVID (CONT’D) Did you study for Gov tomorrow? Mel shrugs. Sort of?

MEL

She remembers something. MEL (CONT’D) Damn, Kelly has my court case list.


12. DAVID You can borrow mine, if you like. Or I can go make a copy. Mel smiles and shakes her head. MEL I’ll just grab it back from Kelly tomorrow morning. Besides, I don’t think he actually grades based on quality as much quantity, so I figured I’d just sort of “peas and carrots” it. David nods. Good move.

DAVID

MEL Yeah, I’ve learned actual academic merit doesn’t get you very far here. Speaking of which, shouldn’t you be home studying for the Gov exam, thus procuring your valedictory throne? He rolls his eyes. DAVID Sarah’s ahead. Mel frowns. How?

MEL

DAVID She’s taking online AP Psych. Mel stares at David. MEL She is the worst. He nods. Mel fiddles with the board. DAVID My dad is trying to get me into online Calc BC. It won’t, like affect my GPA or anything, but...you know, college. Mel nods.


13. MEL That’s cool. David stares at her. He’s more sure of himself, miles away from his previous awkwardness. DAVID No, it’s not. It’s unfair. And you hate it. MEL (changing the subject) Your dad’s having a ball. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH AUDITORIUM - CONTINUOUS Like the rest of the school, the auditorium has seen better days. On the stage, two long folding tables have been set up, three folding chairs behind one, four behind the other. The school committee members, all 40-60, all white, six men and one woman, mingle at the audience level. We focus on one, David’s dad, STEVE, late 50s. He’s the dad who brings oranges to soccer matches even after he’s pulled his kid off the team over concerns about the dangers of youth soccer. He stands in a group of moms, listening raptly. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH THEATER TECH BOOTH - CONTINUOUS DAVID Wanna get dinner with us afterwards? MEL Yeah, mayb—what is Ian Kent doing here? David squints through the glass window separating the booth from the auditorium. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH AUDITORIUM - CONTINUOUS We see the back of a blondish head, turned to schmooze with a much older man.


14. DAVID (O.S.) Didn’t he graduate? CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH THEATER TECH BOOTH - CONTINUOUS MEL I thought he did. DAVID All because of you letting him cheat off you in bio. MEL (brushing his comment off) He was going to get his way. I didn’t see any point in trying to stop him. She pauses. MEL (CONT’D) He was such a scumbag. She looks out the window. MEL (CONT’D) Your dad’s female fanclub is sitting down; I think they’re about to get started. She pauses, then turns back to face David. MEL (CONT’D) You should go sit near Ian. David smirks. DAVID Your inner Harriet the Spy is showing. He exits. White, male SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER 1 begins speaking. SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER 1 I’d like to thank you all for coming out tonight...


15. Mel sighs and pulls out a textbook. DISSOLVE TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH THEATER TECH BOOTH - LATER The meeting continues. Mel’s textbook is open, but she’s falling asleep. Mel’s phone buzzes. She picks it up. DAVID (TEXT) Meet me in the faculty bathroom! She types. Now? Yes!

MEL (TEXT) DAVID (TEXT) CUT TO:

INT. WESTVILLE HIGH FACULTY BATHROOM - A FEW MINUTES LATER David stands in the spacious single stall, pacing. A knock. He opens the door and lets Mel in. MEL I didn’t realize you actually meant inside. What will people think? DAVID (breathless) He’s running. What?

MEL

DAVID Ian’s here because he’s running for school committee. Mel looks baffled, then angry. She opens her mouth to say something, and then— END OF ACT ONE


16. ACT TWO INT. CHAIN RESTAURANT - NIGHT Mel, David, and Steve sit at a booth. STEVE You two both had a class with this guy? MEL Just me. Honors bio, freshman year. Well, he was a sophomore. DAVID He was the worst. MEL I mean, in the scheme of things... David nods. DAVID Okay, not the worst. MEL He skipped class, never did the homework— DAVID And copied off her on exams. Steve pauses. STEVE And you really think he’s running? DAVID That’s what he told Drumline Ed’s mom. STEVE Any idea why? MEL He’s a white male who doesn’t have any other skills, so I guess this just seemed like the natural progression of things. She pauses, then looks at Steve.


17. MEL (CONT’D) Sorry, Mr. Rosner. Steve shrugs. STEVE It’s just a hobby. DAVID What do you think his odds are? Of actually winning? STEVE Well, there are two seats up for election. And Andy’s youngest graduated last spring, and I haven’t heard him mention anything about running. DAVID And you haven’t heard anything about anyone else? STEVE It’s still early. DAVID Elections are in April, right? STEVE Yeah, so we won’t really know until mid-winter. He smiles. STEVE (CONT’D) You thinking of running? MEL Be kinda tough, with you going away to school. David looks uncomfortable. I dunno.

DAVID

He pauses. DAVID (CONT’D) We don’t know for sure that I’ll go away.


18. STEVE But probably. David shrugs. DAVID Just wondering. He pauses. DAVID (CONT’D) Seriously, what’s his deal? Silence. STEVE Amelia, how’s quiz bowl? Mel sighs. CUT TO: EXT. WESTVILLE HIGH SENIOR PARKING LOT - THE NEXT MORNING Mel drives a beat-up grandma sedan. She turns the corner and spies an empty spot...and a girl in an SUV takes a sharp turn and beats her to it. Mel sighs and pulls out of the lot. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH BAND HALLWAY - LATER Mel walks in, out of breath. She reaches the end of the hall, where David and Matt stand. Oak?

MATT

Mel nods. Oak.

MEL

MATT You made it, though. DAVID I told Matt about Ian.


19. MEL Oh. Yeah. Weird, right? MATT Yeah. Didn’t that guy try to spend as little time as possible physically here during high school? DAVID Guess he’s doing the same thing but for Landham State right now. MATT Oh, that’s where he went. He nods, thinking. MATT (CONT’D) Makes sense. Kelly walks over, cup of coffee in hand. KELLY You guys talking about Ian? MATT How do you know about that? David looks away. KELLY I just know things. ANYWAY— MEL Oh, dude, can I get my court cases back from you? Kelly swings her backpack off and opens it. KELLY Is this officially David’s first campaign strategy meeting? I brought coffee. Well, a coffee. DAVID (quickly cutting in) And you’re definitely not supposed to be drinking that while you’re on amphetamines. He picks up the coffee. Mel looks at David, smirking slightly.


20. MEL You’re gonna do it? DAVID (sheepish) I was thinking about it. Matt makes a whooshing air “bad idea” noise. MATT Can’t think too much, man. Bad for your political career. The digital bell dings. Matt makes eye contact with Mel as they gather their things and stand. MATT (CONT’D) (quietly) Talk later? Mel nods. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH GIRLS’ BATHROOM STALL - LATER Mel enters the handicapped stall and hops onto a ledge built into the window side. She takes out her phone and begins tapping. The bathroom door opens. SARAH (O.S.) I’m so sorry you can’t make it to the jazz band fundraiser! We had to move it to that Saturday because of the marching band competition. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH GIRLS’ BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS Sarah stands at a sink next to a SHORT BLONDE GIRL. BLONDE GIRL Urgh, the seventeenth is such a busy day!


21. We cut back to the bathroom stall, where Mel is piecing something together... SARAH (O.S.) Urgh, tell me about it! I’m gonna try to make it to a couple other things, but, like, jazz band is always my priority. Mel bursts out of the bathroom stall. Sarah and the blonde girl turn and stare at her. MEL That’s quiz bowl preliminaries. Silence. MEL (CONT’D) I let it go when you wormed your way into the captainship by bringing Mr. DeMasi coffee during his smoke breaks. I didn’t care so much when I ended up doing all of the research and preparing for all of our practices. But now you’re just blatantly disrespecting the tenets of quiz bowl. She pauses. MEL (CONT’D) I can’t deal with this. I’m done. She’s about to leave, and then: MEL (CONT’D) The worst thing is, you weren’t that bad before you became a slave to the Common App. Sarah and the blonde girl stare as Mel leaves. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH CAFETERIA - MOMENTS LATER Mel comes charging into the overcrowded chaos of the cafeteria. She heads straight for a table by a wall where Matt and Kelly sit. Hey.

KELLY


22. MEL I just quit quiz bowl. Kelly looks shocked; Matt, ever-chill, doesn’t react. MATT Well, that’s probably for the best. He hands her his phone. She begins reading the screen. MEL Ian’s official statement. She looks up at Matt. MEL (CONT’D) I was just looking for this. Read it.

MATT

She glances down again. MEL First of all, I think he means “excited,” not “exited.” MATT Keep reading. She does. She looks up. MEL He specifically mentions supporting athletics and music. Nothing about clubs. Matt shrugs. MEL (CONT’D) Music and sports have school money and crazy booster parents who do stupid amounts of fundraising! Meanwhile, quiz bowl has a budget of twenty-two bucks. For the year. (MORE)


23. MEL (CONT’D) I have to drive us to all of our events, and my radio doesn’t work and I have no way to plug in a phone and the only cassette I currently have is by Suzanne Vega and songs about child abuse are not good academic knowledge tournament pump-up songs! MATT Well, good thing you’re not doing that anymore. Mel looks back at the phone. MEL And I hate this bit about “cultivating an environment of success and compassion.” KELLY He didn’t clarify which kind of success. MATT His imitation of Sam Spellman’s lisp was pretty successful. MEL And nowhere in here does it say anything about actual academics. Though, I suppose he wouldn’t realize what it’s like to have actual academic ambition and have to go here. I suppose he doesn’t know that we offer classes here. She pauses. And—

MEL (CONT’D)

She is stopped. For a tense few seconds, she fights a tense battle with a sneeze before giving in. KELLY He also doesn’t bring up the mold problem. Mel sighs and sits down.


24. MATT If only there were someone who had an inside view of the issues really affecting the high-achieving, albeit, quite jaded, student population of Westville High, and the future, high-achieving, soon-tobe jaded student population of the Westville School District. KELLY David? Jaded? He gets excited over the free pencils the SAT people send to the guidance office. Mel stares at Matt. MEL You’re ridiculous. MATT I’m just saying, you’ve got nothing better to do if you’re no longer serving as the unsung savior of quiz bowl. He pauses. MATT (CONT’D) And you know what would really interest me in an applicant for my college? Drive, perseverance, a willingness to work outside of one’s comfort zone, and maybe seeing her name on a yard sign. Mel sighs. Kelly follows this like a tennis match. MEL It’s David’s thing. MATT It’s David’s dad’s thing. MEL He’d be mad. MATT He doesn’t get mad. Or maybe he’d try it for once. Trying something new would be good for him.


25.

I’d lose.

MEL

MATT Or you’d win. He pauses. He leans in closer to Mel. MATT (CONT’D) And you could bring back Latin. END OF ACT TWO


26. ACT THREE INT. AP GOVERNMENT CLASSROOM - AFTERNOON Mel sits at a desk in the front corner of the room. Like everyone else, she is writing furiously. She pauses and looks around. She looks at Kelly, then looks at Sarah. She then scans the rest of the room; the other ten students are male. She looks at David. CUT TO: INT. WESTVILLE HIGH HALLWAY - A FEW MINUTES LATER The digital bell rings. Students flood out, Mel and Kelly and David appear after most of the surge has passed. KELLY Is Griswold the sick chicken one? DAVID No, that’s Schechter v. U.S. KELLY Dammit. I always get those two mixed up. MEL (to David) Hey, does your family still have the same landline? DAVID Uh, yeah. Why? Mel shrugs. MEL Uh, better go catch it? David stops. DAVID What are you doing? Mel sighs.


27. MEL I want to talk to your dad. Why?

DAVID

KELLY She wants to run for school committee. Mel looks at Kelly. David furrows his brow. KELLY (CONT’D) We’re not going the secrets route. We don’t do that. She pauses and thinks. KELLY (CONT’D) It is really screwed up that I am currently our moral compass. Two hours ago I bought Vicodin off a sophomore who just got his wisdom teeth out. She pauses. KELLY (CONT’D) He still kinda looked like a chipmunk. Seriously?

DAVID

Mel nods, tentatively. MEL I’m Ian’s opposite. I do homework, I go to AP classes, I have an extracurricular that looks good on college applications and I don’t have any substance abuse problems— She looks at Kelly. MEL (CONT’D) No offense. KELLY None taken.


28. DAVID All of that describes me, too. MEL David, there’s one woman on the school committee. One. One woman, representing a district in which female students are actually a majority because the only private schools around here are all-boys’. I think we need someone else on that board who knows that you can’t just throw a tampon at an elevenyear-old and expect them to go back to class, totally fine, and I actually get that because I have a vagina. David’s expression softens. Kelly nods. KELLY Can confirm. But not in, like, that way. Like, I’d maybe try it someday, but Mel is my friend, and that’d be weird. Like me and you dating, or Mel and Matt dating. Awkward pause. David looks away. KELLY (CONT’D) Anyway, you don’t have the extracurricular anymore. David looks at Mel. MEL Oh, yeah. I quit quiz bowl. DAVID But you’re so good at it. MEL I can’t take the politics. She realizes what she’s just said. David opens his mouth to point it out— MEL (CONT’D) Maybe I should rephrase that. I can’t take Sarah. She pauses.


29. MEL (CONT’D) I just hate when people half-ass things, and I’ve spent way too long just being quiet about it. This district is a shining example of half-assery. Kelly, the alphabet mural at our elementary school still only goes to “N.” David, remember all those wrapping paper fundraisers we did in seventh grade to get the middle school microscopes? My brother says that they bought them but they can’t plug them in because the school doesn’t have an extension cord. She pauses. MEL (CONT’D) This whole system is just really— She begins to fight off a sneeze. And actually wins. Moldy?

KELLY

MEL I was gonna say screwed up. But yeah, moldy works. David begins to break away. DAVID I’ve got jazz band. He hurries down the hallway. KELLY Stop being the male Sarah! David hears this, and stops. He looks back, a little confused and hurt. Mel gives Kelly a look. What?

KELLY (CONT’D)

MEL That was unnecessarily harsh. KELLY But kinda true.


30. Mel shrugs and nods in agreement. CUT TO: INT. KELLY’S ROOM - LATER Mel and Kelly sprawl on Kelly’s queen-size bed. Kelly has a copy of Beowulf in one hand and her phone in the other, on which she’s playing a game. Mel is on a large, noisy laptop. MEL I could totally go to college nearby and do this. Kelly looks up from her game. KELLY Can you be on a school committee and have a tattoo? MEL (still looking at her screen) I don’t have a tattoo. Kelly stares at her. KELLY Mel. Our deal. Mel looks up and blinks. Oh, duh!

MEL

She smiles. MEL (CONT’D) They’re not gonna know. KELLY We’re still good? MEL Still good. March first, we are getting inked. Kelly thinks and nods.


31. KELLY I think it’s even more important now than ever, if you’re going to be doing this and risk utter lameness. Mel opens her mouth to protest. Her phone starts to ring. Hello?

MEL CUT TO:

INT. WESTVILLE HIGH BAND HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS Sarah stands in the hallway, which is crowded with students packing up instruments. SARAH Mel, I need you. The following lines cut back and forth between locations as needed. Mel groans and mouths “It’s Sarah” to Kelly, who rolls her eyes. Mel puts Sarah on speakerphone. MEL (coolly) Yeah? Yes.

SARAH

She pauses. SARAH (CONT’D) I’m sorry I’ve been such a “slave to the Common App.” It’s just that if I don’t have all of these extracurriculars, I have no shot at Harvard. On the other end, Mel starts mouthing along, to Kelly’s enjoyment. SARAH (V.O.) In the past ten years, no one from Westville has gotten in— She pauses. She actually looks scared and vulnerable, and, for the first time, we kind of like her.


32. SARAH And I just want to be able to say that I tried. Mel stops mocking her and looks serious. Yeah.

MEL

Silence. SARAH Mel, I want you to take over as captain. Mel raises her eyebrows. SARAH (CONT’D) I just ask that you allow me to stay on the team. Mel thinks. Mel? Yeah. Yeah?

SARAH

(V.O.) (CONT’D)

MEL SARAH

MEL Yeah. Just— She wants to say something, but stops herself. MEL (CONT’D) Just relax a bit, yeah? I don’t think you’ve done that in a while. Sarah smiles. SARAH It’s a deal. Oh, Sarah? Yes?

MEL SARAH

MEL Did David put you up to this?


33. Pause. Sarah looks a little tense. No.

SARAH

Mel looks suspicious. MEL Okay. Well, I’ll put you down as our alternate for the seventeenth. But if one of those dweebs miraculously gets mono, you’re up. Agreed.

SARAH

MEL Talk to you later. Bye!

SARAH

Mel hangs up. KELLY I don’t believe her. MEL Neither do I. She pauses. MEL (CONT’D) I’m gonna go make another call. Mel leaves. Kelly taps on her phone and holds it to her ear. It rings; the other end picks up. Kelly takes a deep breath. KELLY Rosner, I want to make you an offer, which, should you choose to accept, would mean taking me to prom instead of one of those sophomore clarinet dorks, and, may I add, I don’t have a curfew. She pauses and waits.


34. She smiles. CUT TO: EXT. ROSNER HOUSE - NIGHT Mel stands on the doorstep of a Victorian house. It’s modest for a Victorian, which is to say it’s leagues above all of the neighboring houses. She pauses, then knocks. Steve comes to the door. STEVE Amelia! Come in, come in. CUT TO: INT. ROSNER KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER The Rosner’s house doesn’t have the family feel that Mel’s home does. It feels lived-in, but if the individuals doing the living were a couple of middle-aged academics and maybe a Siamese cat. Mel and Steve sit across from each other at a wooden table. STEVE I think you’ve got a strong case. Yeah?

MEL

Steve nods. Mel smiles. STEVE I don’t think we’ve ever had a current student in the district run, but there’s nothing preventing it. Mel nods. She pauses. MEL You really think I could do this?


35. STEVE Sure! I think you’ve got a shot. Mel pauses. MEL What about David? STEVE David, running? I think he and I both would feel a little odd about that. Plus, college. Northwestern’s a bit of a commute. He pauses. STEVE (CONT’D) Of course, you were planning on going to school far away as well, right? I think David’s mentioned Middlebury? Mel shakes her head. MEL Not really sure if they’ll even read my essay after looking at my transcript, given that I won’t officially have a full four years of Latin, and languages are their thing. Mel shrugs. MEL (CONT’D) Might not even matter, in the long run. The door opens. STEVE Oh, that’ll be David. Mel looks a little worried. David enters. Hey. Hey. She pauses.

DAVID MEL


36. MEL (CONT’D) Did you bribe Sarah? What?

DAVID

His expression is blank. MEL Quiz bowl. Did you bribe Sarah? To get me back on the team so I wouldn’t run for school committee? David continues to look confused. MATT (O.S.) That would be me. He enters, holding a pizza box. MATT (CONT’D) And I did it because quiz bowl is the only competitive non-music or sports representation Westville has, and without you, we just look even dumber. He pauses. Mel smiles. MATT (CONT’D) And I didn’t bribe her so much as hint that you might be entering into a position of power, and it would be in her best interest to align herself with you. DAVID So, now you really have to run, or else Matt looks like a liar. Mel makes eye contact with David. He gives her a small smile back. MATT Steve, in your professional experience, does the pizza qualify this as an official meeting? STEVE I want to reiterate, this is just a hobby. Matt nods.


37. MATT I’ll take that as a yes. Mr. Rosner the Younger, will you take minutes? Aye.

DAVID

Matt turns to Mel. MEL Guess we should get started. END OF ACT THREE


38. TAG EXT. WESTVILLE HIGH SENIOR PARKING LOT - MORNING Mel turns into the lot. She hunts fruitlessly for a spot. She turns, about to give up. And then... Matt stands in a spot, holding a hand-written sign reading “RESERVED FOR COMMITTEEWOMAN AMELIA ‘MEL’ STEWART.” He backs up onto the sidewalk. Mel parks. She gets out and rolls her eyes. Matt smiles, proud of himself. What...?

MEL

MATT I got you something. He reaches into his pocket and hands Mel something small. She looks at it. It’s a cassette tape of Born to Run. She smiles. END OF EPISODE


In the Running