Sample Work

An excerpt from the original 2007 short story version of Tiger Poppy, first of The Brandt Essex Adventure Series and included in upcoming Vol. I of Selected Short Stories – 

Tiger Poppy

(Excerpt)

Before them lay a rough terrain of many boulders and few, if any, trees.

“We only have this one canyon to cross, then climb the other side and we should reach sight of Azar,” Adel said, “His camp is heavily armed and he has at least twenty men with him. There will be sentries, so you and Dr. Zimmerman will have to wait while we find the best place to infiltrate his camp.”

“Right. No argument here,” Brandt said. Beverly nodded in compliant exhaustion.

The valley floor seemed to have a tiny river babbling through it. Brandt thought, as they climbed down, how nice it would be to climb in for a dip to cool off. He couldn’t have been more mistaken. The babbling brook quickly became a raging rapid as they approached, making their descent. The water was ice cold. He looked up at Adel with worry and contempt for the whole mess.

“The Himalayas are full of glaciers and snow capped peaks that melt. This forms torrential rivers and even causes some horrible floods each year. This water was ice probably just a few hours ago. That is why it is so cold. We have another set of clothes to change into and waterproof bags to cross with. As my associate and I cross, we will take a guide rope with us. You will send your packs over next. Then the professor will have to hold on to you as you cross holding the rope. Do not let go even for an instant, or the current will sweep you away,” Adel warned.

“There’s no other way?” Brandt asked. Adel shook his head and turned to head toward the water’s edge.

Beverly looked at Brandt and said, ”I used to do this all the time with my brothers in Northern England along the Scot border. I loved it.” When she said this, she smiled again. This time it didn’t seem so dainty.

They stripped off their packs and watched as the two Pashtuns went from rock to rock across the swift current. Soon, the men made it to the other side. Now it was Beverly and Brandt’s turn. She took off the vest and coat and stuffed them into one of the packs. They wrapped the packs in plastic and tied them to the rope as Adel pulled it all across.

“Hurry Brandt, I’m freezing,” Beverly shouted. He motioned for her to climb on his back and they started to get in the water. The icy chill on Brandt’s feet was starkly contrasted with Beverly’s warm breasts pressed up against his back. They waded into the rushing water. Brandt’s knuckles were white from holding the rope. Beverly held on for dear life.

The water rushed around them and Brandt could feel the current tug at his pockets. He had his satellite cell phone in one of them. It was waterproof, but the current was too strong. Brandt had to decide between taking one hand off the rope and risking losing both of their lives or letting their only means of calling in a ride out of this impossible terrain slip away forever. Either choice was a death sentence.

With his grip being around the rope and Beverly, there was little he could do to hold the phone as he felt their only line of communication slip away from them.  Now, they really were at Adel and nature’s mercy. They had no way to call for help or assistance.


Here’s a short excerpt from Todd’s first film script, the 2013 crime thriller short film …  A Piece of Bread –

A Piece of Bread

(Screenplay)

FADE IN:

INT.  SANCTUARY  –  ST. ANTHONY  CATHOLIC  CHURCH – LATE AFT NOON

Altar is in view and a soft creak of a door is heard. A woman exits a confession booth, footsteps are heard as she walks away. A boy, 9, CHARLIE, gets up from the neighboring pews and opens the door to the same booth, enters booth.

Fade to:

INT.  CONFESSION BOOTH W/PRIEST – LATE AFT NOON

Screen to booth w/boy seen past profile of FATHER ERNESTO, 55, lightening as he enters, darkening as boy closes door. Top of head of boy seen through dim light of screen. Profile of the face of priest, light illuminating collar.

FATHER ERNESTO

Let us pray. In the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

cut to:

INT CONFESSION BOOTH W/CHARLIE – LATE AFT NOON

Front of Charlie, screen obscuring F. Ernesto face, face flush, having done something exhausting, tearing slowly but steadily looking down. Crossing himself, silently mouthing the words as Father Ernesto says them to the prayer.

CHARLIE

Bless me Father for I have sinned.

cut to:

INT.  CONFESSION BOOTH W/PRIEST – LATE AFT NOON

Subtle certain tension hint of humor on F. Ernesto profiled face hearing word (sinned) from combination of an expectation of something very minor and concern for Charlie being too young to have done anything too serious.

FATHER ERNESTO

How long has it been since your last confession, my son?

CHARLIE V.O.

This is my first, Father.

FATHER ERNESTO

What brings you here today?

fade to:

INT CONFESSION BOOTH W/CHARLIE – LATE AFT NOON

CHARLIE

I think I killed a man.

fade to:

A look of horror and shock comes over the priest, turning to disbelief, furled brow. Expecting to chastise the boy for a prank and lecture of the importance of the Sacrament of Penance. Ernesto looks at Charlie through the screen, not recognizing him.

FATHER ERNESTO

Young man, this is a confessional. I will not take kindly to a prank. If this . . .

CHARLIE V.O.

Father, I know he is dead. I saw him. I think I killed him.

(Beat)

FATHER ERNESTO

Where is the man?

CHARLIE V.O.

I have no idea where they took him, but the police and an ambulance came. I had already left. There was some blood and (sniffling) . . . he was in a black bag.

FATHER ERNESTO

Who was he, son?

CHARLIE V.O.

It was the corner store owner from just down the street.

FATHER ERNESTO

When did this happen? Today?

CHARLIE V.O.

This morning, I was trying to get something to eat. I was so hungry.

fade to:

INT GRANDFATHERS APT – EARLY MORNING

Charlie is seen looking waking up, clinching stomach.

fade to:

INT.  CONFESSION BOOTH W/PRIEST

Ernesto look becomes slightly more grave and concerned

FATHER ERNESTO

My son, now listen very carefully to me. It is very important you tell me exactly what happened this morning to Mr. Oriniega, and try not to leave anything out. Be as precise as you can.

cut to:

INT CONFESSION BOOTH W/CHARLIE – LATE AFT NOON

CHARLIE

Okay, I can try.

fade to:

INT GRANDFATHERS APT – EARLY MNG

Charlie seen getting up from previous stomach clinching (overlap from previous apt scene) Searching apartment for food in cabinets, fridge. Finding nothing but empty beer and liquor bottles, looking more frantic and desperate.

CHARLIE V.O.

I woke up this morning and I was so hungry. I didn’t have any food in two days and all my grandpa had was beer and liquor bottles all around.

fade to:

EXT – STREET IN FRONT OF APT – MNG

Charlie walks out of apt bldg, heads towards store, occasionally clutching stomach as he walks up the street toward the corner store.

CHARLIE V.O.

As soon as it was light out, I went to the corner store to get something, anything to eat. I had no money, so I had to just take it. So I waited outside the store.

FATHER ERNESTO V.O.

Go on, my son.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s