Dersu, the Hunter
Dersu, the Hunter – Pecan Street Press
Lubbock ● Austin ● Fort Worth – Dersu, the Hunter
Dersu, the Hunter is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Alan Nafzger
All rights reserved.
DERSU THE HUNTER
Written by Alan Nafzger
Dersu, the Hunter
EXT FOREST – far eastern Siberia WINTER
Dersu, the Hunter
It is 2014 and DERSU is trying to stay alive. He is an Eastern Russian and a professional hunter. He may be mixed race Nanai and Russian. His features aren’t entirely Russian. However he is a very old man, an older man with inner-strength. He is thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles and his stamina is almost gone. DERSU has gnarled hands and is swimming in the tide water of his sixth or seventh decade.
Dersu, the Hunter
The snow and the subfreezing whiteout conditions are making DERSU’s day miserable. There is a little snow falling, but the ground is completely covered with thick snow, diffused lighting from overcast clouds has caused almost all surface definition to disappear.
DERSU is being followed by an Amur tiger.
POV of the tiger. As DERSU walks through the woods he frequently stops, listens and smells, he slowly turns. He feels the tiger’s presence. When DERSU stops, the tiger stops.
POV of DERSU. His vision is seriously diminished. He is very hungry. He does manage to see a sika deer.
POV of the tiger. Despite the tiger, DERSU manages to fire a shot but it only frightens the deer. Firing the weapon seems to startle the tiger; the camera careens back one foot and stops. DERSU may be starving to death.
DERSU walks very fast through the snow, muttering a very old Russian song.
In the islands, the hunter
Roams all day long.
But no luck for him
And he curses himself
What’s he going to do
How is he to serve
He cannot be cheerful
So what he’s try to aim better
So the hunter goes to warmer waters
Where the fish are frolicking
in the beautiful weather
There on the shore
DERSU smells smoke and then scans the horizon for it. He senses the direction and panics. He runs through the thick snow. The tiger’s chase instincts are triggered. It is a race.
DERSU drops and abandons the furs that he has collected.
As the chase develops, DERSU stops and fires his rifle at the cat. However, the cat ducks into cover of the forest. As DERSU begins to run again, the tiger emerges and follows.
DERSU now sees a conservationist’s winter cabin. It is maintained by BORIS ZARUBIN of the Wildlife and Hunting Department. Smoke is drifting out of the chimney. DERSU fumbles through his pocket and looks to take something out. DERSU runs harder but he is almost exhausted. The tiger is only yards away and it is ready to make the kill.
A hunting knife in his hand, DERSU falls exhausted into the snow. He rolls, knife in hand; he is ready to fight the tiger. Suddenly the conservationists steps out of the cabin and fires a shot into the air. The tiger stops dead in his tracks and then retreats.
Five minutes later…
INT. conservationist’s winter cabin
DERSU is at the table rapidly eating bread and hot soup. There is a fire. There is a business card on the table. It is a very old and worn card of a politburo member, Viktor DEMICHEV. The words, “Please extend every courtesy to my very good friend, Dersu.”
How did you know a politburo member?
DERSU doesn’t understand the question. ZARUBIN holds up the card.
Viktor was here many years ago.
DERSU does not stop eating. He is famished.
I saved his life.
It was a tiger?
No, it was wolves.
You know there isn’t a politburo any more. Right?
Thank you for not killing the tiger.
We try not to shot tigers but I must admit I almost had to. He was almost on you.
ZARUBIN looks into a dark corner of the room. There is a man. He is a reporter, ANTON DOROKHOV. The reporter leans forward; his face is now lit by the laptop computer that he is working with. He is a Moscow reporter writing about the conservation efforts and tigers.
What’s the name on the card?
The reporter’s eyes become enlarged.
This is Anton Dorokhov he is a reporter here doing a story on the tigers and the conservation efforts.
He is still alive. The last of the Brezhnev gang. It is impossible to speak with him. I’ve tried. What a story! It is rumoured that he knows were the bodies are buried, so to speak. Perhaps literally. He will not answer the door.
Did you phone?
Well, yes. There was a signal, two rings hang up and then call back. And he answered. Well, I told him who I was and he hung up. They changed the code.
He never leaves?
He used to play chess at tables outside his apartment and go for walks. But no one has seen him in 10 years. Daughter brings him food. She won’t let me talk to him.
The conservationist nods to DERSU, who is feverously still eating.
Take him with you.
Thank you. I will go.
The men think DERSU means Moscow. But he takes up his gun and is about to leave the cabin. But the men stop him.
Why don’t to go with me to see Demichev?
I don’t know who that is?
I can’t see. My eyes will not work in the city.
I will be run over by a wagon.
We won’t let anything happen to you.
I am a hunter.
Come on. You are not happy here in the winter. Come and visit with Viktor and in the spring you can come back here.
What kind of food is there in the city? I will take my gun.
How about if I keep it here for you?
Several days later…
INT. TRAIN CAR
DERSU sits hours (days) at the window looking out and watching Russia pass by. There are furs stacked up near DERSU.
EXT. MOSCOW TRAIN STATION
DERSU and the reporter exit a first class train car. DERSU takes in Moscow. He is awed by the hustle and the bustle of the crowds and the noise. As they walk to the taxi cabs out front, DERSU studies it all.
EXT. HOUSE ON THE EMBANKMENT
A taxi arrives with DERSU and DOROKHOV.
INT. HALLWAY OF THE HOUSE ON THE EMBANKMENT
DERSU and DOROKHOV reach the door of the apartment. DOROKHOV knocks and we hear a rustling about but there isn’t an answer.
Hand me your card again.
So he will open the door.
DERSU feels this is silly.
Open the door Viktor, it is your friend DERSU. It is cold out and I would like to have some soup.
The door opens slightly; DEMICHEV is afraid it is a trick by reporters, or even worse, historians. But then the door is opened all the way.
Viktor DEMICHEV is a man much older than DERSU. Fringe of grey-white hair around balding, mottled scalp. Wizened face. Back slightly hunched. Thick, groomed moustache, wide forehead with numerous lines. Resigned. Contorted arthritic hands.
When he sees his old friend DERSU, we learn that he is surprisingly agile. He is elated to see his friend and gives him a big hug. The reporter is ignored.
DERSU hands him the card.
Oh I’ve not seen one of these for years.
DEMICHEV examines the other side and smiles. He remembers it all very well.
DEMICHEV flashes back the wolves who almost killed him.
DEMICHEV gives DERSU the card back to keep. DERSU and DEMICHEV walk into the apartment and shut the door.
The reporter must knock on the door. DEMICHEV reluctantly lets him in, but he was hoping the man would go away.