Original Sins

Original Sins(OPEN CLOSE on Jonathan Frayne, speaking into a radio microphone. Sweat beads his upper lip. He is quietly expressive, yet reserved, as if holding inside a dark secret.)

FRAYNE: My name is Jonathan Frayne and I have a confession to make. … I’ve never done this before. It’s hard to say something you’re ashamed of to a stranger. (He hesitates, at a loss.) When I was a kid, ten or eleven years old, I took another kid into the basement of an abandoned house and locked him in a refrigerator. (He takes a sip of water, then picks up his narrative.) He was about my age but not mentally all there. He got scared, started screaming and by the time I opened the door to let him out, he was in the middle of a seizure. (Frayne sits so close to the microphone he almost brushes it with his mouth. His voice is intimate, hypnotic.) I didn’t know what to do, so I ran away. He never told anyone, and I was afraid to come forward and say it myself. Until tonight. You see, I enjoyed scaring him. I’m ashamed of that. If I could make up for it in some way, I would. … If anybody out there has something to get off your chest, give me a call at 555-WPOV. I won’t judge, I’m just here to listen.

THE STORY:

A radio talk-show confessor gets a call from a repentant murderer. But there’s a problem – the murderer won’t identify himself, and his blood-spree is just beginning.

THE BACKSTORY:

Frayne, it turns out, is a priest taking a long leave of absence. He’s come to Boston and gets a job as a talk-show confessor. Someone calls in to confess a murder (this opening speech is intercut with the finding of the body) and we’re off and running.

I wrote this script around the same time as I wrote my play Voices in the Dark – they’re both quite similar in concept, though the stories and execution are quite different. This was a spec idea I sold, and was partnered by my agent with a producer also represented by the same agency. This would be my first venture into a producer’s shoes, and I looked forward to having more control over the process and the final product. Sadly, this was far, far from the case. My partner, without my knowledge, completely re-wrote the script over the Christmas holidays and then presented it to me as a fait accomplis. Naturally he wasn’t allowed to do that, and it was a long and difficult battle to return the script to something resembling what it once was. He then hired a director who had no experience or understanding of what it was to shoot a thriller (I’d been spoiled by my work with Tom Holland), and what could have been an edge-of-the-seat ninety minutes turned out to be something less. It turned out okay (my sister loved it) but I will always know what it could have been and to this day find it difficult to watch.