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MAJOR TAYLOR

Written by
P W Valentine

Based on Major Taylor


"The Fastest Bicycle Rider In The World",
A biography by Andrew Ritchie

PAUL@PWVALENTINE.CO.UK
07707588752 (UK)

OVER BLACK
Far away sounds. A brass band play Dixie. A thousand voices
come and go, indiscernible shouting and hollering.
Cutting through it all - a low rumbling thunder.
CUT TO:
BICYCLE WHEELS
Through the blur of spokes, twisted faces of the frenzied
AUDIENCE zip by like a nightmarish zoetrope.
INT. MADISON SQUARE GARDENS VELODROME
TITLE: 1896, Madison Square Gardens, Six Day Race.
Air thick with cigarette smoke and the steam of hot bodies.
The yellow pine track is illuminated by low-hung electric
lights. It surrounds the infield, where the BRASS BAND play,
OFFICIALS keep score, and TRAINERS patch up resting CYCLISTS.
Several cyclists circle the banked track, dog-tired, like
theyve been going for days. A Victorian ROLLERBALL on bikes.
MAJOR (18)
Crouches low over his bars with a stillness and grace that
escapes his rivals -- But his eyes are glazed -- And his head
lolls autonomously -- A heart beat away from exhaustion.
He struggles to hold his line -- swings up the severe slope
of the track -- passes a rider on the bend.
Eyes shift to the manual scoreboard -- His name moves up,
maybe in to eighth -- Not sure -- eyes back on the track.
C R A S H !!!
Three riders morph into a mangled mess of steel and bodies -Majors adrenalin kicks in -- swerves round the wreckage.
He pulls off the track into the central
INFIELD
A chicken run of derelict rider encampments.

2.

A burly white man, with a handlebar moustache under his beak


of a nose, catches Major. This is BIRDIE MUNGER (31).
He holds up Majors bicycle, pushing him along to their
HOLDING AREA
A mess of pots and pans, bottles and lotions, scraps of food.
Birdie plonks Major on a chair. Puts a kettle on a gas stove.
Major wretches violently into a bucket. Birdie rushes back,
rubs his back. Major lifts his head, delusional and panicked.
MAJOR
I cant go on in safety. Theres a
man chasing me round and round with
a knife.
Birdie has a look - just trainers and frazzled riders.
Major vomits again. Birdie rushes out and paces around
TRACKSIDE
Scans through the audience of drunkards and degenerates.
HOLDING AREA
Major sits, punch drunk, eyes misty... Drifting... Away. The
kettle ejects steam, emits a high-pitched wheeeeeiiiiii.
Birdie rushes back in...
BIRDIE
I cant see anyone with a knife.
Youre seeing things.
Stopped in his tracks by comatose Major. Shakes him.
BIRDIE
Major! Hey, wake up!
Majors eyes... close. Wheeeeeeiiiiii.
The crowd love it. Joining in. Mocking. A hundred voices:
CROWD
WAKE UP!

Wheeeeeeiiiiii...

BIRDIE (PRE-LAP)
Wake up.

3.

INT. BEDROOM - DAWN


TITLE: Indianapolis, 1886
Wind and rain lashes his window, as Major (8) jolts awake.
GILBERT TAYLOR (30s) edges open the door, candle in hand.
GILBERT
Wake up.
Major clambers out of bed, pulls on a shirt and dungarees.
INT. KITCHEN - DAWN
A modest, working class, farmhouse. Major slumps down by the
kitchen table where his father waits.
Major hungrily paws at a piece of bread. A spider scuttles up
his arm. Gilbert reacts, but Majors quicker, and cusps it
Gilbert opens the kitchen door, motions outside.
GILBERT
Go on.
Majors unsure, but throws the spider out.
MAJOR
Wont it come back?
GILBERT
It want hurtin no one. We got an
advantage bein so big n all.
Always play the game fair, see?
A look confirms the lesson is learned. Major sits back down.
Gilbert unfolds a piece of paper. Checks theyre still alone.
GILBERT
Ya wanna come work with me, right?
Major nods, chewing on some bread now.
GILBERT
I gotta show ya somethin. Its
important. Dont scream or nothin.
Ya know what a lynchin is?
Major swallows hard. Stops eating. Looks down at the table.
Gilbert gently lifts Majors head. Holding each others gaze.

4.

He holds up a halftone photo: white men stood around a black


boy, not much older than Major, hanging from a tree.
Major is scared stiff, but Gilbert is dead serious.
GILBERT
Its what white folks do to colored
folks for stealin, cheatin,
cussin, fightin. Or jus lookin
at em wrong. Thats a lynchin.
Gilbert folds the paper back up. Majors eyes tearing up.
GILBERT
Sorry. But ya gotta know, in their
world, playin the game fair means
doin it their way, and nothin
else. Aint right. Jus how it is.