Am I reckless? Zoom the camera in on Bud driving on the freeway, as he thinks of what Rachel had called him the day he had nearly plunged to his death.
Cut to Bud, 10000 feet up in the air, his legs dangling over the edge of an airplane. He has done this dozens of times before. He takes a deep breath and jumps.
Take in the panoramic view. Feel the air drag on your body. You should have opened your chute earlier but you are taking in the beauty and at roughly 1000 feet pull the parachute cord … and nothing. The parachute doesn’t deploy. No need to panic yet. You pull the backup chute and it doesn’t fully unfold either. Now you panic. You are hurtling to certain death and frantically tug at the chute and miraculously manage to untangle and open it. You are too close to land but it’s still enough distance for the chute to catch and let you land safely.
Focus on Bud heaving on the ground. Still dazed. He looks at the severed cord to his main chute.
When he gets home, still shaky, he sees his son Bodie looking at him. Something is not right with the child. He is five but seems to act like he were two. Bud has tried to raise him with love which slowly turned to frustration as his patience ran out.
Bodie is grinning strangely. In his hands he is clutching some yellow fabric. Bud recoils in horror as he realizes it’s not fabric but a small piece of nylon rope, possibly from his chute cord. Bud asks Bodie where he got that and raises his voice when he doesn’t get a response. That’s when Rachel walks in to the room.
Cut back to Bud on the road. He shivers a bit at the memory. He runs his hand on his unkempt hair and scratches his scraggly beard. The last few days have been a haze. Bud is returning home now but he is not sure when he moved out. He is not sure how long he has lived in motels, miles away from home. His credit has maxed out and he has no option but to return home. He does long to see Rachel and tell her he is sorry. Sorry for walking out on her. And Bodie? He is scared of meeting his son.
Cut to Bud screaming in the middle of the night. He is lying in Bodie’s bedroom. He has a knife in his hand, and is bleeding slightly from his abdomen. Bud doesn’t know what happened. He remembers going to bed but doesn’t know how he got to Bodie’s bedroom. And it seems like he woke up trying to carve himself up. Bodie is looking at Bud, from a corner of the room, with that same grin from two days back when Bud had found him with his chute cord. That is the first time Bud feels scared of his son. Images of him calling his son a retard and hitting him flash through his head.
Rachel comes running to the bedroom and is horror struck at the sight. Bud has no explanation for what happened. Rachel dresses the wound and tells him it’s all right but he can see the fear in her eyes.
The next reel again has Bud on the road. But this is before his time in the wilderness. He is clean shaven and dressed for work. This is the day after he woke up trying to puncture his intestines. He is driving on the freeway. He thinks he sees something up in front of him. Close in on the look of horror on his face when he sees it is Bodie standing with one hand out, palm spread in a stop sign.
He brakes hard and the car fishtails wildly. He is lucky there is no one behind him. However there is a big rig on the lane next to him and from the corner of this eye he can see it rumble toward him as his car has skid, the front half in that lane. The big rig swerves and narrowly misses Bud’s car. Other cars pass by, some honking and glaring at him. Bud is shaking. He looks around them on the road. There is no sight of Bodie or anyone else.
He drives up to his home. He is not prepared for what greets him. Focus the camera on long weeds growing in the yard and spider webs on the walls. The house looks abandoned. He stands in the driveway for a long time. He takes a deep breath and unlocks the front door. He calls out his wife’s name but the house is empty.
It is not until he steps into the backyard and looks at the filthy pool that the flashback hits him. Close in on Bodie splashing in the pool for dear life. Bud is standing by the pool, looking a little bemused. Rachel is screaming as she runs out from the house and jumps into the pool. Fast forward through scenes of Bodie coughing out water, Rachel yelling at Bud, Rachel packing her bags, Rachel moving out. No, wait. That was when he said he was sorry and drove. He left them and didn’t come back. Till now. And he has no idea where they are or what has become of them.
Electricity and water has been cut off in the house but he decides to spend the night there regardless. He just sits on a recliner in the family room, smoking cigarettes with one hand and a bottle of Jim Beam in the other, staring into space. It is past midnight when he hears the front door open and shut. Then there are soft footsteps toward the family room. A face peeks in, followed by the rest of the body.
“Hello, Bodie,” Bud says without moving, still staring blankly into space and blowing a cloud of cigarette smoke in front of him. Bodie walks in front of him, into his vision. In a sliver of moonlight the camera catches a glimpse of a child clutching a teddy.
“Daddy is sorry. Come to Daddy,” Bud spreads his arms wide.
Bud thinks he sees Bodie shake his head. Then he feels something soft and wet smack against his face. The teddy.
“You stupid fuck,” Bud yells. He tosses his bottle of whiskey at Bodie. Bodie sidesteps and the bottle smashes on the floor next to him. When did his retarded son get so coordinated?
Bud stands up but he is drunk and stumbles. He hears Bodie giggle but can’t see him. He fishes for his lighter in his pocket. He flicks it on in his third attempt and holds it up. He sees Bodie looking at him with that stupid grin of his, standing in the midst of pieces of a broken whiskey bottle.
“I should have done this long back,” Bud whispers.
He takes a step toward Bodie and then tosses his lit cigarette at Bodie’s feet. As soon as the cigarette lands on the floor flames leap up into the air, all around Bodie. Bud takes a step away from the flames and turns and is about to run out when he hears a single word. “Papa.”
Bud turns back and sees Bodie standing his ground, with an imploring look and with an arm reached out. “Shit,” Bud mutters and steps toward the spreading flames and grabs Bodie by his arm. Flames burn Bud’s hand and he screams. But he pulls Bodie up and into his arms. He wants to turn and run but his legs give away and he falls. He clutches Bodie and crawls into a fetal position as the fire engulfs him. And then there is nothing for the camera to focus on.
That’s how the firefighters find his corpse. In a fetal position, holding on to a charred table lamp.