A tired, unhappy middle-aged man discovers a late night transit train that can take him back in time and allow him to change things early in his life to alter his future, a gift he discovers makes his present life worse every time he returns to his past.
Synopsis: This is a story of regret, rebellion, rebirth, recklessness and renewal. It focuses on Michael Davidson, a 48-year-old married man with two grown children who manages a restaurant in San Francisco and lives in the suburban community of Concord. In Act One, we see Michael struggle with life as he skids through middle age. He’s dissatisfied with what’s he accomplished. He’s bored when he’s at home and he’s hassled when he’s at work. Everything seems to irritate him from people ordering coffee to people using ATM machines. One night, Michael works late and closes up the restaurant with the night manager. As they sit alone in the darkened bar, Michael talks about his despair. He tells the night manager about a basketball game his senior year of high school. It was for the conference championship. His team was down by a point. Two college scouts were there. Michael had a last-second chance to make a game-winning shot, but instead he passed the ball to a teammate. He says if he just taken that shot, perhaps his life would be different. Michael then rushes off to catch the last BART train leaving San Francisco at 12:30 a.m. In the transit station, Michael has a desperate need to urinate. The only bathroom is closed for repairs. No one is around, so Michael forces the restroom door open. Inside, he relieves himself, then passes out from alcohol and fatigue. He awakes at 2 a.m. to find himself locked inside the BART station. A “ghost train” pulls in. Michael is hesitant but goes inside and sits. A console with a computer and keyboard slides from the shadowy walls. It asks him for a destination. He types in “Concord.” It asks him for a date. When he puts in that day’s date, the computer rejects it. So, Michael shrugs and types in “March 2, 1979.” In Act Two, we follow Michael’s travels. First, he returns to his high school basketball game, where he takes and sinks that shot. He is mobbed by his classmates, including Angie, the head cheerleader he always had a crush on. Outside, a scout from UCLA asks him to come to their summer basketball camp. When Michael returns to the locker room, the ghost train awaits. The train returns him to present day, where Michael discovers he is a music producer who lives by himself in a condominium in San Francisco. Michael finds Angie’s number in his cell phone and goes to see her sing at a night club that evening. The blonde beauty admits she had a crush on him in high school. That night, Michael sneaks into the BART station again. At 2 a.m., he catches the ghost train once more. It takes him to March 3, 1979. He finds Angie home alone and the two teen-agers have sex. The ghost train awaits Michael outside Angie’s house. It returns him to present day, where Michael discovers he got Angie pregnant that fateful day and he is now married to her and they have four children. Michael hitches a ride on the ghost train again. He discovers the train won’t let him type in a date before September 24, 1977. So, he orders the vehicle to take him to July 2, 1979. There, the teen-age Michael convinces Angie to have an abortion. Her father, a police officer, finds out about the procedure and attacks Michael. In their struggle, Angie’s father is accidentally shot and killed. Michael escapes on the ghost train but is deposited in San Quentin’s death row. In Act Three, Michael must figure a way out of this dilemma and return to the life he thought he hated. First, Michael learns he is scheduled to be executed in less than 48 hours for the murder of Angie’s father. He meets with his attorney and, among other things, asks her to look up the big news stories from September 24, 1977. That evening, she returns, telling Michael they’ve lost all their appeals. She also informs him the biggest event on 9/24/77 was a train wreck on BART’s southern line. The only person on board was the driver, who was killed. Michael believes he has discovered the key to the mystery. The “ghost train” arrives minutes before Michael’s scheduled execution. He hops in and asks to be taken back to September 24, 1977. In Oakland, Michael finds the train and boards it. He talks to the driver through a speaker box and discovers the lonely, frustrated man is committing suicide by driving the train into a wall. Michael talks the driver into giving life a second chance. He stops the speeding transit vehicle. Michael is transported back to the present day and his previous life. He comes home and finds his wife asleep. He wakes her and apologizes for the way he’s been acting. The final scene is Michael and his wife slow-dancing in their family room.
This latest draft has made sleeker a screenplay that already has placed in the top 10 of a screenwriting contest several years back. "The Late Train" is a fast-paced ride that has surprises around every turn.