Chicago, IL

Would You Want to Read More?

Sherry McGuinn

Your honest opinion, please, of a project in the works

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A few years ago, I wrote a screenplay called “Dead Tired” that was inspired by my husband’s struggle with chronic insomnia. It’s a female-driven thriller that I liken to a vampire tale without an actual vampire.

Here is the logline, or “elevator pitch.”

A lifelong insomniac inadvertently discovers that killing…can lead to a killer night’s sleep.

During this time, through much hard work and an insatiable desire to get “Dead Tired” produced because I did and still do believe that the story is highly relate-able considering the legions of people who would practically “kill to get a good night’s sleep,” I found a producer.

The guy, who was Executive Producer of the Matthew McConaughey vehicle, “The Dallas Buyers Club,” and a bit of a nutjob, loved the script and presented me with a contract. A shitty one. The usual, “You need me more than I need you,” type of deal. At the time, I didn’t have a manager or an agent to represent me.

I did have a lawyer in L.A. but the entertainment industry wasn’t his bailiwick, yet we moved forward regardless. I attached — not the producer, whose task this would normally be — a talented Indie director who would still work with me should a miracle occur and I find another production company. I say “another” because my guy decided to take his company in a direction whereby he’d only finance truth-based projects.

So my option fell apart and the script’s rights reverted back to me. Now, it’s tough enough for an emerging screenwriter to get a project green-lit, but during a pandemic? Don’t ask.

With that said, my husband suggested that I turn the script into a novel, which makes a crazy kind of sense because if it was to take off, and Hollyweird expressed interest, I already have a screenplay.

Admittedly, because I’ve been busy on this platform and elsewhere, I haven’t done much with it. But I need to stop futzing around and get serious.

A few weeks ago, I threw together an opening and would love to get your feedback. It’s rough, but I’d like to know if it sufficiently grabs your interest in that you’d want to read more. And I can’t think of a better platform, or, a more honest bunch of scribes than y’all to ask.

Now, as a rule, I don’t post fiction, but this is my publication, so what the hell. I’m going for it.

So, without further ado, and with much gratitude in advance for your comments and suggestions, here is Chapter One of “Dead Tired.”

Chapter One: It Begins

Two weeks earlier.

Chicago’s downtown area, or the “Loop,” as it is most often referred to, is busy this time of day. It’s rush hour, and the offices are emptying out, spilling dazed-looking cube dwellers onto the streets, on their way to commuter trains, busses, car parks, bars. The lucky ones, the ones who can afford it, walk home to their trendy condos and apartment buildings in neighborhoods where you’d better have a fucking good job in order to live there.

Traffic along Michigan Avenue, the “Magnificent Mile,” is moving at a good clip, in spite of jaywalking pedestrians with death wishes.

We can’t help but notice a white Subaru, weaving in and out of traffic, windows down, music blaring.

Danica “Dani” Knox, the driver, squints against the blinding sunlight ricocheting off the windshield. Her hands grip the wheel. She blinks sweat from her eyes. She grabs a tissue from a box on the passenger seat and swipes at her sweaty palms.

She cranks the radio. “White Stripes” blaring.

Just in time, she notices the red light and rockets to a stop. Breathing hard, she snatches a tissue from a box on the passenger seat and swipes at her palms.

She cranks up the music, unaware that a driver in the next lane, a man watches, fascinated, as her head starts to droop, giving the man ample time to study her as the throngs of pedestrians file by like cattle on a drive.

He notices her long, slender neck, the rather lackluster brown hair fanning over her cheeks, and the rise and fall of her breath as she literally sleeps behind the wheel.

The light turns green yet Dani doesn’t move. A horn blares behind her, once, then twice, and then a whole barrage of car horns wrenches her awake. Her head snaps up and she slams down on the gas.

Two blocks away, on the corner of Ohio and Michigan, and just as Dani gives pedal to the metal, a young man, face obscured by a hoodie and clutching a woman’s bag, leaps over the curb and into traffic.

Heedless of how fast she’s driving and sweating profusely now, Dani looks at the empty tissue box next to her and in that half-second looks back up to see the guy frozen in the middle of the street as cars and busses whiz around him. As he sees Dani coming straight for him the look on his face verges on the comical: “What the fuck did I do?”

Eyes wide with horror, Dani stomps the brake but it’s too late. Her mouth opens in a silent scream as she barrels into him.

The bag slips from his hands.

There is a sickening, wet THUMP and the sound of breaking glass as the guy is propelled head-first into Dani’s windshield.

All around her, drivers slam to a stop, horns once again, blaring.

If the reader was to be viewing this as a movie, they’d be treated to a macabre and bloody vision: Dani is unconscious, eyes closed, her left cheek resting on the steering wheel, face partially obscured by her hair, while the guy’s cheek rests on top of her head, his shattered face trickling blood into Dani’s hair, his eyes, wide open.

To be continued…I hope. And, thank you for reading

© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL
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