Cast: John Carter Cash, Ana Cristina Cash, Eric Hamilton, Joseph Cash, Jamey Johnson
Crew: Producers: John Carter Cash, April Kimbrell – Screenwriters: John Carter Cash
In the wilderness of Oregon territory in 1875, Sherriff Lamberic White is drunkenly beating his one-time friend Spiney Shamblins to death. Young and idealistic Deputy Abel Cross is aghast and fearful, knowing the Sherriff’s drunken rage may lead to death. The Wood brothers, Deputies Dicky Joe and Earnest, sit in the rocks behind watching the mortal battle, passing around a bottle of whiskey. The Sherriff takes the bottle, turns it up and drinks deeply. He smashes it on a rock, then stumbles in for the kill. Deputy Cross pulls his gun and aims it at his superior, demanding the Sherriff put the bottle down. The other two deputies rise and put their hands on their pistol stocks, reading themselves with nervous appraisal. Lamberic, once a Colonel in the Civil War, is now an old and hardened lawman. He is far too familiar with facing guns. Showing no fear of his young deputy, he speaks softly and walks directly towards the barrel of the shaking gun. He takes the pistol and tosses it to the fast-handed Dicky Joe Wood. Spiney, bloody and bruised, laughs in delirium. His consciousness fades… The sign outside the Church reads “The Congregation of the Holy Bones, The Reverend Bill Miller residing”. Inside, the attending rise, joining in a chorus of “Bringing in the Sheaves”. One man, Spiney Shamblins, does not rise. It is clear he is drunk in Church, nearly falling from his pew. His wife watches in disgust. She is overly pregnant, yet bruised from her husband’s abusive hand. As the song finishes, the drunken man stands, berating and accusing the congregation. Lamberic White sits close by, Deputy Dicky Joe Wood beside him. Spiney is forced into his chair by the strong hands of a wizened old farmer and finds himself face-to-face with the Reverend Bill Miller. With commanding voice and wise eye, the pastor reads a scripture from the book of Ezekiel to Spiney. “…and the bones came together, bone to bone!”, recites the reverend. “You don’t have a chance in hell, boy,” he says. “In fact, you’re already there…” Spiney stands, stumbles, then falls. Four farmers rise immediately. “I’ve got this one Sherriff,” says the same farmer who forced Spiney into his seat. Hoisting the body, the able-bodied men carry the limp form out the door. The Reverend attends to the somewhat shocked congregation as they exit the church, Veronica Shamblins holding her stomach in evident pain. The last to leave is Sherriff Lamberic White. “I’m sorry about my friend, he’s been through a lot,” apologizes Lamberic to Reverend Miller before quickly hurrying off. Veronica sits uncomfortably in a quiet room, a friend tending to her. Sherriff White enters the room and cautiously removes his hat. The attending friend leaves and White kneels beside Veronica. He has a great concern and care in his eyes. There is something between them long hidden, and Lamberic leans closer, Veronica’s eyes filling with tears. White promises he will take care of her. “… and I will take care of him,” he promises. Spiney Shamblins awakes in an empty place, the burned out forest around him empty of life and inhospitable. Voices and conversations from his past go through his clouded mind, Veronica and Lamberic’s voices speak from his past, taunting him. He wanders on, and eventually comes to a barn, pushing his way through the door and into the darkness. Within is a strange light, and music being played. This is no place or time he has ever seen, and he finds himself stumbling through a barroom, the patrons eyeing him suspiciously, his dress as strange to them as theirs to his. In shock, Spiney moves through the room. He sees her. It’s Veronica, sitting at the bar, her hair perfect, a contented smile on her face. He begins to go to her, to reach for her, but suddenly he is stopped by a man he knows all too well. It is Lamberic White, yet now the Sherriff is different, his dress is from an age Spiney does not know. The same two deputies who were not long before drinking whiskey in a stony quarry, watching as Spiney was beaten to death, are there also. Spiney, in fearful confusion, runs. The Sherriff and his deputies pursue him up the back stairs of the bar and outside. Spiney moves fast ahead of the Sherriff, He moves fast into the dusty road just as a large metal vehicle, its source of power unknown to Spiney slams into him, knocking him hard to the ground. Spiney fades, fades, fades… The hood is pulled from Spiney’s head and he is now on the back of a horse. A noose is pushed down hard around his neck. Lamberic and the deputies are there, and once again Spiney is back in the wilds of Oregon. Spiney is resolved to his fate. He looks to his one-time commander. “…there’s a fear and a horrible passion,” he says. Standing a few paces away, Deputy Cross watches on. “This is the way,” he says, directly to Sherriff White. Lamberic slaps the horse’s ass, causing the animal to run… the rope falls from the tree and Spiney falls to the ground. It is clear the men had decided it best to teach him a lesson, and also that there must now be a great change in authority, and an end to many things for Lamberic. “Go home, Spiney,” says White. “You’ve found your way, maybe I’ll find it. Go home, Spiney.” He walks away, tossing his badge towards Deputy Cross, telling him to remove his tin badge and to wear the brass badge of a Sherriff. The Deputy picks up the badge and calls to the other Deputies, who ride away. Now, Spiney is alone. He reaches into the pocket of his shirt, finding a sheet of paper there. It is a page from the Bible, the same scripture the Reverend Bill Miller had read to him. “… and the bones came together, bone to bone…” There is hope in the scripture, and the promise of new life coming from what had seemed long dead. Yet as the day ends, memories of conversations from Spiney’s past still whisper to him… “There’s a rumbiling in my belly,” whispers Spiney. “That’s that dragon again,” responds Lamberic’s voice across the years, across the mountains, across time. “You have a dragon in you…” the two men whisper to one another…
David McClister is a photographer and filmmaker.