Sunday, June 7, 2009

Afterword (written with Thomas Beck)

This was the first script I ever (co-)wrote. Tom and I worked well together, and there is no way to tell who did what. We both came up with ideas, cut lines, trashed each other's lines, trashed our own lines, and - at times - came up with the exact same bits of dialogue. This can't even be broke down as to who did what draft. We did first draft, second draft, and we did the rewrites. It's completely shared, feels like me, and feels like him, too. It's one of my favorite pieces. I hope someone, someday takes a shot on this. It's long - about 25 printed pages, but due to the dialogue, it reads very quickly.

Yes, I know it's not formatted to script specs, but I haven't yet been able to do that in a blog form. I've tried to make it so it is easy to read.


FADE IN:

INT. HALLWAY

A person walks into a hallway. It is typical for an largish office building, poorly lit by fluorescent lighting. This person walks slowly down the hallway, footsteps echoing slowly and somberly, giving the impression that this is a man. He continues walking, his eyes like a camera, until he comes to a small room.

INT. SMALL ROOM

He enters a room the size of a large closet with what appears to be a two-way mirror that looks into another room. There is an MAN and WOMAN in here who look at the newcomer as he comes in, greeting him with a nod. They are dressed in somber suits, and appear to be in their fifties. He joins the two, turning to the window to see:

INT. ROOM

This is a fairly large room, bereft of any type of decoration. The walls are all stark white and there is one door on the right hand wall. The only furniture in the room is a rectangular, wooden, medium-sized table with two chairs that face each other from opposite sides. The table is not in the center of the room, but more towards the right hand side, as if the table is used as an office desk.

Sitting at the left-hand chair at the desk is CATHY STEVENS. She is disoriented, looking around the room trying to understand where she is.

MR. MICHAELS comes in the door, closing it behind him. He is carrying a heavy, closed-front clipboard. He sits down in the empty chair, looking at Cathy. He flips open the front of the clipboard, consults it for a moment, then shuts it.


MICHAELS

----Hello, Mrs. Stevens. You are married, aren't you? It is Mrs., isn't it?

The door Mr. Michaels walked in from disappears unnoticed by Cathy.

CATHY

----What?

MICHAELS

----It is Mrs. Stevens, is it not? You are married?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Good. What is your husband's name?

CATHY

----Martin.

MICHAELS

----Do you live together?

CATHY

----Yes. Where am...

MICHAELS

----Do you have children?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Their names, please.

CATHY

----Jason and Melissa.

MICHAELS

----Good. Nice names.

CATHY

----Thank you.

MICHAELS

----Do you consider yourself a good person?

CATHY

----Pardon?

MICHAELS

----Do you consider yourself a good person?

CATHY

----I don't know.

MICHAELS

----I see. How old are your children?

CATHY

----Jason is nineteen months; Melissa is three.

MICHAELS

----And you are?

CATHY

----Are what?

MICHAELS

----Your age, Mrs. Stevens.

CATHY

----Thirty-eight.

MICHAELS

----And your husband, Martin, I believe you said?

CATHY

----Martin is also thirty-eight.

MICHAELS

----That's unusual, isn't it?

CATHY

----What?

MICHAELS

----Having children this late in life?

CATHY

----That's none of your business. And just who are...

MICHAELS

----I am Mr. Michaels. How long have you been married?

CATHY

----Eleven years.

MICHAELS

----Are you happy?

CATHY

----Yes. Martin's a wonderful husband.

MICHAELS

----Really.

He opens the clipboard, takes a pen from inside, and makes a note. She cannot see what he writes.

CATHY

----And a good father.

MICHAELS

----I'm glad to hear that. Do you own any guns?

CATHY

----What?

MICHAELS

----Do you own any firearms?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Are they yours, or Martin's?

CATHY

----Martin's. He keeps one for protection.

MICHAELS

----Where?

CATHY

----In the nightstand. Why are you asking?

Michaels makes another note in the clipboard, then seems to peruse it for a moment.

MICHAELS

----Do you know a Lester Mayhew?

CATHY

----Who?

MICHAELS

----Lester Charles Mayhew.

CATHY

----No.

Michaels makes another note on the clipboard, then closes it.

MICHAELS

----Are you happy?

CATHY

----What do you mean?

MICHAELS

----You. Are you happy?

CATHY

----I suppose so.

MICHAELS

----Do you consider yourself a good person?

CATHY

----I
(beat)
----I don't know.

MICHAELS

----Your husband. What does he do for work?

CATHY

----He's a vice-president for a telecommunications company.

MICHAELS

----He's a good father?

CATHY

----Yes. I've already told you so!

MICHAELS

----Are you a good mother?

CATHY

----I believe so.

MICHAELS

----So, you're good parents.

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----But you keep a gun in the nightstand.

Cathy does not answer. She seems a bit confused, and a bit guilty.

MICHAELS (CONT'D)

----Don't you, Mrs. Stevens?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Is it locked?

CATHY

----No.

MICHAELS

----No gun lock? No lock on the drawer?

CATHY

----No.

MICHAELS

----And it's loaded, isn't it?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----For protection.

CATHY

----Yes. Martin often works late. He got it for us, to be safe.

MICHAELS

----I see.

He stands, and sits on a corner of the table.

MICHAELS (CONT'D)

----Mrs. Stevens, do you consider yourself a good person?

CATHY
(excitably)

----Why do keep asking me this?

MICHAELS

----Do you work, Mrs. Stevens?

Cathy pauses a moment to process the change of direction.

CATHY

----Not at the moment. I stopped working when Melissa was born.

MICHAELS

----What did you do before then?

CATHY

----I was in public relations, for a hospital.

MICHAELS

----Did you find that satisfying?

CATHY

----Well, honestly...no.

MICHAELS

----Why?

He stands, and goes back to his seat, sits.

CATHY

----There were too many lies, and too many half-truths.

MICHAELS

----It bothered you to lie?

CATHY

----Of course. Doesn't it bother everybody?

Michaels stares at her, encouraging her to elaborate.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----We told people that our hospital was the best. We advertised that we were, when we weren't. We swept lawsuits under the rug and used the budget to hire lawyer and run ads. We should have hired better people, bought better equipment. The lies just got to be too much.

MICHAELS

----You said you were not working at the moment. Are you planning to change fields?

CATHY

----I don't know, but I know I don't want to do that anymore.

MICHAELS

----You quit your job when you had your daughter?

CATHY

----No, I had quit working about a year before I got pregnant.

MICHAELS

----Planned?

CATHY

----Yes. Martin and I decided we wanted a family.

MICHAELS

----Did that make you happy?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----You like being a mother?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Are you a good mother?

CATHY

----I'd like to think so.

MICHAELS

----Were you happy when Jason was born?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Have you been planning on having another child?

CATHY

----No.

MICHAELS

----Why not?

CATHY

----I...we decided two was right.

MICHAELS

----And that makes you happy?

Cathy pauses a moment before answering.

CATHY

----As you said, most women my age aren't having children.

MICHAELS

----Actually, I asked you if it was unusual to be having children this late in life. I asked. I did not state.

CATHY

----You're right.

MICHAELS

----Does your family attend church?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----How often?

CATHY

----Once a week. Sunday mornings.

MICHAELS

----Regularly?

CATHY

----My husband says religiously.

She has a slight smile on her face as she looks at Michaels. He just looks at her.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----I suppose it's not very funny.

MICHAELS

----Not really. Are you raising your children in the church?

CATHY

----I think so. They come with us, but they're not really old enough to understand it yet.

MICHAELS

----What would you do if your children grew up and decided to leave the church?

CATHY

----I suppose I'd want them to make their own choice.

MICHAELS

----Would that make you happy?

CATHY

----As long as my children are happy, I'm happy.

MICHAELS

----You base your happiness on the emotions of others?

CATHY

----I don't know what you mean. Could I have some water?

Michaels stands up and starts to pace.

MICHAELS

----You allow the emotions of those around you to determine your level of happiness?

CATHY

----I don't really understand. Don't all parents do that?

MICHAELS

----If your child is hurt, does it make you unhappy?

CATHY

----Of course!

MICHAELS

----Does your unhappiness then affect your child? Do your emotions change the way they feel?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----­So you make them feel worse when they are already unhappy?

CATHY

----No!

MICHAELS

----How do you avoid it?

CATHY

----I don't let them know I'm unhappy.

MICHAELS

----You repress your emotions to keep others happy?

CATHY

----Not all the time.

Michaels sits again on the edge of the desk.

MICHAELS

----With your children?

CATHY

----Only now. They're young. They don't understand yet that mama cries, too.

MICHAELS

----Why do you cry?

CATHY

----When they are hurt.

MICHAELS

----That's when. I asked why.

CATHY

----Why?

MICHAELS

----Why do you cry?

CATHY

----I...It's an emotional release. Look, I don't like these questions. I don't understand...

MICHAELS

----Do you repress your emotions for your husband?

CATHY

----Not all...no!

MICHAELS

----Honestly please, Mrs. Stevens. You repress yourself to keep others happy, do you not?

CATHY

----Everyone does that to one extent or another.

MICHAELS

----They do?

Michaels sits back down in his chair.

CATHY

----Certainly. Not everyone can wear their heart on their sleeve at all times. You have to edit yourself. Suck it up, my father would say.

MICHAELS

----Isn't that dishonest?

CATHY

----No!

MICHAELS

----Repressing how you feel and fooling others about your emotional state isn't a lie, or a half-truth?

CATHY

----No, it's not. It's a sign of emotional maturity.

MICHAELS

----You're emotionally mature?

CATHY

----I am.

MICHAELS

----Does that make you a better parent?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Does that make you a better person?

CATHY

----I don't know.

MICHAELS

----Are you a good person?

CATHY
(angrily)

----I don't know!

MICHAELS

----Why not?

Cathy pauses a moment, thinking about her answer.

CATHY

----It's not right to judge for yourself if you're good or bad.

MICHAELS

----Then who judges?

CATHY

----What do you mean?

MICHAELS

----Do you know why you're here?

CATHY

----No! Why?

MICHAELS

----You say you don't know Lester Charles Mayhew?

CATHY

----I've already told you!

MICHAELS

----So you have. Are you quick to anger, Mrs. Stevens?

CATHY

----No!

MICHAELS

----Prone to acts of violence?

CATHY

----Of course not!

MICHAELS

----Do you spank your children?

CATHY

----Yes.
(beat)
----But only if they deserve it.

MICHAELS

----Who decides if they deserve it?

CATHY

----I do. Or Martin. But I only...

MICHAELS

----Does Martin spank them?

CATHY

----Yes...

MICHAELS

----Yes, but, Mrs. Stevens?

CATHY

----He doesn't like to do it.

MICHAELS

----Do you enjoy it?

CATHY

----No!

MICHAELS

----So you decide what's right or wrong. You judge.

CATHY

----I have to. They're my children. They're not old enough. They don't know they've misbehaved.

MICHAELS

----You punish them when they don't understand what they've done.

CATHY

----Of course they don't understand. They're young.

MICHAELS

----You believe in discipline?

CATHY

----Yes. But it's not often. They're good kids. And it's never more than a swat on the rump.

She pauses as she processes this experience.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----Am I in trouble?

MICHAELS
(coolly)

----Mrs. Stevens, you took a life.

CATHY

----What?

MICHAELS

----You took a human life.

Cathy is speechless, but tries to stammer.

MICHAELS (CONT'D)

----What is the last thing you remember?

He opens his clipboard again.

Cathy tries to put her thoughts together.

CATHY

----Thunder.

MICHAELS

----Elaborate.

CATHY

----I remember thunder. Jason crying.

MICHAELS

----What else?

CATHY

----I can't remember. Do I need a lawyer?

MICHAELS

----No. Do you remember Lester Mayhew?

CATHY

----No. Can I have some water?

MICHAELS

----Focus, Mrs. Stevens. You haven't answered the question yet.

CATHY

----I didn't kill anyone.

MICHAELS

----Mrs. Stevens...

Cathy is beginning to get agitated.

CATHY

----It's that Lester. You think I killed that man.

MICHAELS

----Mrs. Stevens...

CATHY

----What's on the clipboard? What are you writing?

MICHAELS

----Are you happy?

CATHY
(angrily)

----I want to see the clipboard!

MICHAELS

----What else do you remember?

CATHY
(angrily)

----What are you writing?

MICHAELS

----Are you a good person?

CATHY

----Shut up!

She leaps up, grabbing the clipboard from across the table, and throws it across the room. She faces Michaels and screams at him with hatred,

CATHY (CONT'D)

----Stop asking me that!

Michaels regards her calmly, unaffected by her hysterics.

MICHAELS

----I see that you lied earlier.

CATHY
(angrily)

----What?

MICHAELS

----You said you were not prone to acts of violence.

Cathy stares at him, then begins to sag.

Michaels stands.

MICHAELS (CONT'D)

----Mrs. Stevens. Sit. Down.

Cathy sits back down.

Michaels sits back down.

MICHAELS (CONT'D)

----What do you remember besides thunder?

CATHY

----The crying.

MICHAELS

----Where were you?

CATHY

----At home. It was raining, I think.

MICHAELS

----Go on.

CATHY

----I was in the kitchen. It was raining. Not hard, but it was threatening to get worse. I was alone. I heard Jason crying.

MICHAELS

----Has he started the "terrible twos?"

CATHY
(confused)

----No. Not yet.

MICHAELS

----Did Melissa get through them?

CATHY

----Yes, she did. She discovered "no", then discovered stomping her foot.

She seems relieved at the change of conversation, and allows herself a slight smile.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----For months, everything we said, she would shout "no" and stomp. "Bath time, Melissa." "No!"

She stomps the floor, mimicking her daughter.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----"Time for dinner." "No!"

She stomps.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----Even "Want some ice cream?" "No!"

She stomps.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----After missing out on ice cream several times, she stopped saying no to everything.

MICHAELS

----You spanked her rarely?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----Martin didn't spank her?

CATHY

----He doesn't like to. He doesn't believe in it.

MICHAELS

----He does sound like a good father.

CATHY

----He is.

MICHAELS

----You said he often works late?

CATHY

----Two or three nights a week, usually, and sometimes he has to work on the weekend.

MICHAELS

----That's too bad.

CATHY

----It comes with his job. But, you know, he is an excellent provider, and he loves me and the
children.

MICHAELS

----You love him.

CATHY

----Completely.

MICHAELS

----He's a good husband.

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----A fine father.

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----A good person?

CATHY

----Yes.

Michaels watches her a moment.

MICHAELS

----You were alone.

CATHY

----Yes...no! Melissa was in the kitchen, playing on the floor. I remember she had a toy car, rolling it back and forth, going "brrrrm." She would do that for hours. It was night, wasn't it?

MICHAELS

----Yes.

CATHY

----Was it last night?

MICHAELS

----Where was your husband?

CATHY

----He was not home. He was working late. Jason was crying. He was in his crib, crying.

MICHAELS

----Where is his crib?

CATHY

----His room. Melissa and I were in the kitchen.

MICHAELS

----It was raining.

CATHY

----Yes. It was starting to get worse. It was thundering hard. Jason was crying.

MICHAELS

----Were you making dinner?

CATHY

----No, we'd already eaten. Tuna, in a casserole. Where am I? Where are my children?

MICHAELS

----They're safe.

CATHY

----They're at home?

MICHAELS

----Yes.

CATHY

----I broke a dish.
(beat)
Jason was crying. I remember glass breaking. I broke the casserole dish.

MICHAELS

----There was thunder.

CATHY

----Yes. There was a storm coming. Jason doesn't like thunder. I went to check on him.

MICHAELS

----In his room?

CATHY

----Yes.

MICHAELS

----What did you hear?

CATHY

----Thunder, Jason crying, glass breaking.

MICHAELS

----Glass?

CATHY

----Yes! I broke a dish!

MICHAELS

----Where was Melissa?

CATHY

----I told her to stay in the kitchen.

MICHAELS

----Why?

CATHY

----The glass.

MICHAELS

----Where was the glass broken?

CATHY

----In Jason's room.

MICHAELS

----Did you break the glass?

CATHY

----No. I broke the dish.

MICHAELS

----Who broke the glass?

CATHY

----I don't know.

MICHAELS

----Yes, you do.

Cathy stares at Michaels, finally understanding.

CATHY

----Lester Mayhew. Where am I?

MICHAELS

----Where do you think?

She pauses a moment, then continues.

CATHY

----The window was broken. Rain was blowing in. There was a man in the room.

MICHAELS

----Go on.

CATHY

----Jason was crying, scared. That was Lester Mayhew, right?

MICHAELS

----Yes.

CATHY

----Who is he?

MICHAELS

----You don't know him.

CATHY

----I screamed, he yelled. Somebody yelled. He pointed at me.
(beat)
I don't know what he wanted.

MICHAELS

----What did you do?

CATHY

----I hit him.

MICHAELS

----With?

CATHY

----The dish. The casserole dish.

MICHAELS

----You had been washing dishes?

CATHY

----Yes. I was drying it. It's heavy glass, you know.

MICHAELS

----I know.

CATHY

----It broke. Glass went everywhere. Blood went everywhere.

MICHAELS

----Where did you hit him?

CATHY

----The face.

MICHAELS

----What did he look like?

CATHY

----I don't know. Broken.

MICHAELS

----And then?

A clear glass pitcher of water and two glasses appears on the desk, off to the side. Cathy does not seem to notice.

CATHY

----There was thunder.

MICHAELS

----Was it thunder?

CATHY

----It sounded like thunder.
(beat)
But it wasn't.

MICHAELS

----No, Mrs. Stevens, it was not. Are you a good person?

CATHY

----Are my children safe?

MICHAELS

----They are with their father. Would you like some water?

Cathy looks over at the pitcher.

CATHY

----Yes.

Michaels pours both glasses full of water, then sets one glass in front of her.

She picks the glass up.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----You know,

She takes a sip of the water.

CATHY (CONT'D)

----I am a good person. I'm a good mother, a good wife. I'm honest. I love unconditionally. I'm not perfect, but there's nothing I've done in my life that I can't forgive myself for.

MICHAELS

----Nothing?

CATHY

----Nothing.

Two doors appear side by side, in the wall behind her.

MICHAELS
(gently)

----Mrs. Stevens -- Cathy -- it's time for you to leave.

He points to the wall behind her, and the doors.

She turns to look at them.

CATHY

----Which door?

MICHAELS

----Which feels correct to you?

CATHY

----This one.

She points to the door on the right.

MICHAELS

----Yes.

Cathy stands, starts toward the door. She turns back to face Michaels.

CATHY

----Martin, will he be all right?

MICHAELS

----He will be a very sad man for many years, but he will be happy again. And he will always be a very good father.

CATHY

----Thank you. The man -- Lester Mayhew -- he's been here?

MICHAELS

----I saw him before you.

CATHY

----Which door did he choose?

­Michaels takes a sip of his water before answering.

MICHAELS

----You chose the right door. He took the door that was left.

Cathy nods, goes to the right door, and exits.

FADE OUT:

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