Shadow Friend

Years and years ago I worked for a great company that was owned and operated by a fellow named Tim, from Devon. He’d been in Australia since 1977, but he was still as British as they come. This was my first real job and it gave me the wrong impression of what the workforce was really all about because Tim was lots of fun and very idiosyncratic. Lunch time always involved wine. I didn’t always partake, but the opportunity to drink every day at work was there.

Tim had a lot of British friends too. In my last few years at the company, it was just Tim and I,  and Mike from Liverpool. Mike was an ideas machine. Every day he would come up with a new concept. It might be a film or TV idea, a blueprint for a franchise restaurant or some sort of gadget. The three of us became great friends and would often spend lunch time drinking and sharing ideas. I came up with an idea for a short, animated film and Mike was very encouraging and told me to write it down. I scribbled it down on paper and kept it for years.

Now I have typed it up, and here it is:

Sport is a mangy old dog; faithful companion of Old Jim, a homeless man who sleeps most nights in the cemetery where he is relatively safe and protected from the elements.

One morning, Sport is killed by a hit and run driver while he is out walking with Old Jim. Devastated by the loss of his only friend, Old Jim buries Sport in a secluded spot in the cemetery. But as Old Jim struggles to dig the hole while his dead dog lies in the shade of a tree, he doesn’t notice that Sport’s shadow struggles to separate itself from its dead host body and hides behind a tree.

Sport’s shadow watches the touching funeral ceremony with a cocked head and continues to follow Old Jim around the cemetery as he beds down for the night. Several times Old Jim thinks that he’s seen Sport’s shadow bounding along beside him, but he puts it down to a trick of the mind (or whatever it is that he’s clutching in that brown paper bag!).

Over the next few days, Sport’s shadow follows Old Jim around and tries to find a way back into the old mans life. Outside the bottle shop, Sport’s shadow has a fight with the shadow of a bulldog tied up to the corner post. Sport’s shadow also frolics with the shadow of a little child (as only children are observant enough to notice a rogue shadow).

At night, Sport’s shadow cuddles up to the sleeping figure of Old Jim. Sport’s shadow is feeling dejected and then it notices that the edges of the shadows in the cemetery are amorphous…almost undulating. Sport goes closer to inspect and slowly it is revealed that the darkness is actually composed of thousands of shadows huddled closely together…they are the shadow-souls of all the people buried in the cemetery. In a beautiful scene, the shadows walk slowly out and separate from their mass to non-verbally invite Sport’s shadow into their fold.

The next morning, Sport’s shadow does not try to engage with Old Jim the person…but with Old Jim’s shadow.

The shadow of Old Jim embraces the shadow of Sport with open arms, and in the final scenes we see the shadows of Old Jim and Sport meld into one – their spirits are reconnected in shadow.

The last vision we have is of Old Jim stumbling down the road, his shadow trailing behind him…with the wagging tail of a dog!


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