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QUEST FOR MEANING IN THE MOJAVE A Screenplay By Edith Cory Cooper Copyright 2012 This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author. FADE IN: EXT. CITY STREET - LATE AFTERNOON In the industrial area of a city, workers are leaving their jobs, hurrying along sidewalks or waiting at bus stops. At the entrance to a mini storage yard, MILDRED, 42, appears from inside the yard, pulling a wheeled cart filled with pots, pans, and kitchen paraphernalia. Mildred, small, dark- haired, and attractive, walks with a noticeable limp. She is wearing a heavy coat and sturdy walking shoes. She passes CHARLIE, 75, at the entrance to the storage yard. He is talking with a young man who is behind the wheel of an old SUV, the inside piled with furniture. Charlie is tall and thin, his white hair thinning. His expression is serious, to the point of being stern. As he hands the man a key and waves him into the yard, Charlie turns to see Mildred walking away down the sidewalk. He stands watching her until a truck pulls up beside him. EXT. RESIDENTIAL CITY STREET - 10:00 P.M. Mildred, wearing the same heavy coat and sturdy walking shoes shoes but now with a scarf over her head, disembarks from a city bus on a quiet, residential street. As the bus pulls away she stops under a street light to adjust her purse and a shopping bag, carrying both in one hand. Moving on, she walks slowly. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - A FEW MINUTES LATER The room is a large family kitchen, old-fashioned but efficiently organized. A long table, able to seat eight, fills the center of the room. A collection of backpacks is hanging from pegs on one wall. JAMES, a thin, knobby boy of ten, with a crown of light brown hair flattened over his head, is alone in the room, seated at one end of the table, books and papers spread out around him. Mildred enters quietly. Deftly, although one arm hangs uselessly, she removes her coat, revealing a thin body clothed in a cotton dress and sweater. James looks up, then quickly looks down. Laying her coat over a chair, Mildred removes her head scarf, folds it, then places it inside her purse. Although her face is attractive, with a warm expression, she appears to be exceedingly tired. JAMES (mumbling) Hello-- 2. She takes the shopping bag to the refrigerator, placing several items on a shelf. MILDRED (turning on a burner beneath a tea kettle) That's it . . . ? Just "Hello"-- JAMES Hello, mother. MILDRED You're up late, James. An uncomfortable pause follows. JAMES Why aren't you home anymore? MILDRED (turning, eyebrows raised) I AM here . . . every day-- JAMES (grudgingly) Maybe. But late . . . After everybody's gone upstairs. MILDRED I work, James. JAMES Dad says you don't have to. MILDRED Some things your father doesn't understand. JAMES Like what? MILDRED Like I enjoy working where I do. (then softly, almost to herself) Like I DON'T enjoy being irrelevant. James looks up, puzzled. 3. MILDRED (continuing) That's what I am now . . . Irrelevant in my own house. (to James) Some day you'll know what that means. JAMES (impatiently) Why can't you tell me now? She stops, nodding her head slightly. MILDRED All right. "Not needed" . . . "Pushed aside." That's what it means. JAMES Oh. MILDRED What am I needed for? Your grandmother cooks. She cleans. She gets you all off to school. She even goes to your teacher conferences. JAMES Not mine, she doesn't. As he pauses, she gives him a penetrating look. MILDRED I DID remember, you know. (pause) You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? She waits for his response. MILDRED (continuing) When I wasn't here for supper, that's what you thought. JAMES (softly) Maybe. 4. MILDRED Well, I didn't forget. But let's say, shall we, if . . . For some reason . . . I wasn't able to see your teacher tomorrow, your grandmother could go in my stead-- JAMES No, she couldn't. MILDRED Why not? JAMES Because she doesn't much like me. That's why. MILDRED Oh, James . . . That's not true. Opening the refrigerator, she turns to James. MILDRED (continuing) Would you like a sweet roll? I brought some from the church. James shakes his head. JAMES Well, anyway . . . She likes the others better. Especially Donny. MILDRED Donny was just a baby when she came here. So naturally they're attached to each other. And being the youngest-- JAMES Being the youngest, he has lots of E.S.T., which I don't have any of. MILDRED E.S.T.? JAMES Adam is the oldEST, which gives him the most E.S.T. That's why he gets to boss the rest of us around. Bruce is the smartest-- (pause) which I wish I was. And Henry's the cutest. 5. James and his mother exchange a smile. JAMES (continuing) Only he gets mad if you call him cute. He says he's the handsomest. James' expression turns pensive. JAMES (continuing) Then here I come in the lineup, with no E.S.T. MILDRED Who says so? JAMES They all do . . . Except Donny. But someday, when he's older, he'll start telling me, just like the rest, that I haven't got any E.S.T. MILDRED James, really, you mustn't say things that-- JAMES (interrupting) But I made up an E.S.T. for myself. "The determinedest." Which they say isn't a word at all, and even if it was, it would be too hard to say. But I tell them I don't care, it suits me just fine, thank you. She studies him thoughtfully for a moment. MILDRED "Honest" is an E.S.T. word. So is "quickest." (pause) And don't forget that "Best" is an E.S.T. word, too. Short and sweet. Easy to say. For a moment James grins broadly, pleased, but his face suddenly grows serious as FRANK enters the room. Frank is fifty, tall and husky, his hair and beard dark but beginning to gray. He's wearing a worn bathrobe over pajamas. 6. FRANK Jiminy, your mother and I need to talk. MILDRED His name is James. FRANK I KNOW what his name is. And I also know that everybody calls him Jiminy. MILDRED Not everybody. FRANK Almost everybody. MILDRED Only because his brothers do, which they shouldn't. We gave him a perfectly fine name. JAMES Mother, I don't mind. Jiminy-- (pause) And when you say "Jiminy Crimini"-- MILDRED WHO says "Jiminy Crimini"? JAMES Well . . . People, I guess. It's a kind of mushroom. MILDRED I know what it is. But who told you? James pauses, uncertainly. FRANK Mildred-- JAMES Well, Gram, I guess. But she was just talking about mushrooms, you know, naming them when she was cooking. And Adam . . . Well, he said, with my hair-- He runs his hand across the top of his head. 7. JAMES (continuing) Maybe I do look like a mushroom. Kind of. And crimini rhymes with Jiminy. And it makes people laugh. MILDRED (quickly) Don't EVER let people laugh at you. NOT EVER. JAMES (abashed) I'm sorry. FRANK Jiminy, will you go to bed-- Quickly James gathers his books and papers and goes into a room next to the stove, leaving the door slightly ajar. The room is furnished with a cot, and pushed against the cot is a small table serving as a desk. Empty shelves line two of the walls. As James turns to look into the kitchen, he sees his father striding across the room toward him. Suddenly the door is closed from the outside, plunging the room into darkness. As James turns on a small table lamp, the door is opened part way, and James can again see into the kitchen. Mildred is standing near the door. MILDRED He needs air. FRANK He shouldn't be sleeping there in the first place. It's nothing but a closet. MILDRED A pantry. A large pantry. FRANK A closet. With no window. Just a cot and a makeshift desk. He hangs his clothes on nails, for God's sake. MILDRED It's a pantry. Which we don't need. (more) 8. MILDRED (cont'd) (pause) Who needs a place to store groceries when your mother shops every day? Rain or shine . . . She shops every day. FRANK Is something wrong with that? It saves you the trouble-- MILDRED It wouldn't be trouble. It never WAS trouble. FRANK And now you're gone all day-- MILDRED Not every day. FRANK Most days. And he waits up for you. When he should be asleep like his brothers and in a bedroom, not a closet. MILDRED He likes to study late, and they complain-- FRANK He SHOULDN'T be studying late. The others don't, and they do all right. MILDRED He wants to do better than "all right." FRANK And tell me, if you can, why he goes to a special school. MILDRED It's a public school. A magnet public school. FRANK Still special. 9. MILDRED Only because they concentrate on writing. He loves to write. And study. You should be grateful. FRANK I AM grateful. I wish all my boys were as good in school. MILDRED Our boys. FRANK Are they? MILDRED Are they what? FRANK OUR boys-- MILDRED (offended) What makes you say things like that--? FRANK They're hardly YOUR boys if you're never around for them. MILDRED I've told you . . . I'm not needed here. FRANK Aren't you? MILDRED The boys don't need me. YOU don't need me. FRANK I don't? MILDRED Who needs a wife when you've got-- She stares at him during a long pause. FRANK (controlling his anger) If you're so set on working, at least get a job that pays. 10. MILDRED I work where I'm needed. Unseen by Frank and Mildred, GERTRUDE appears at the open doorway. A stout woman of seventy-five with loosely hanging grey hair, she is wearing a chenille bathrobe over a flannel nightgown. FRANK And you're not needed here . . .? With five boys? MILDRED I'm irrelevant. FRANK What's THAT supposed to mean? Gertrude enters the room. GERTRUDE She means me. FRANK (turning) Oh. Mother. You shouldn't have heard that. GERTRUDE I just try to help. MILDRED You do everything. There's nothing left for me-- FRANK You should thank her . . . Instead of complaining. MILDRED I WOULD thank her, if she didn't do EVERYTHING. GERTRUDE But it's hard for you . . . Surely. MILDRED Why would it be hard for me? GERTRUDE Well-- MILDRED Well . . . What? 11. FRANK Please, Millie-- MILDRED I seem to have managed until you came. GERTRUDE But five boys-- MILDRED Five isn't much more than four. So why DID you come? GERTRUDE You know that . . . To help. MILDRED Because Frank's father died and you needed a place to live . . . So I got pushed aside. FRANK You shouldn't begrudge her wanting to live with family. MILDRED I don't begrudge her. I resent her. There IS a difference. I resent her taking over. Mildred glances at Gertrude, then looks away. GERTRUDE I'll try, Mildred. I'll try. Really I will. MILDRED And Frank . . . What about you? FRANK What about me? MILDRED I think you know. He turns and leaves the room. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - MORNING Mildred is preparing breakfast, moving between the stove and refrigerator. Five places have been set. 12. BRUCE, 14, dark haired and tending toward heaviness, enters first, followed closely by HENRY, 12, thin, blond, and good- looking. They're puzzled. BRUCE Where's Gramma? Mildred turns around, smiling. MILDRED 'Morning-- BRUCE Where's Gramma? MILDRED (turning back to her cooking) Sleeping in. The boys, exchanging glances, sit down at the table. HENRY Is she sick? MILDRED No. Just resting. ADAM, 15, enters. He is blond and thin like Henry but taller, and his features are angular, less attractive. ADAM Who's resting? MILDRED Your grandmother. ADAM Why? MILDRED (at the stove) Why does anyone rest? The three boys exchange glances. As Adam looks at Bruce and gestures with his head, Bruce gets up and leaves the room. ADAM Where's dad? MILDRED He left for work. 13. ADAM You had a fight-- James enters from his room on the left, hair tousled, sleepy- eyed, clothes carelessly arranged. HENRY Jees! Look at Jiminy Crimini! Something the cat dragged in-- MILDRED Henry! JAMES We don't have a cat. James goes to the sink and begins running water. HENRY Like a rat then. Bet you have rats in your pantry. Like bats in your belfry. MILDRED Henry! HENRY Hey, Guys . . . Jiminy DOES have E.S.T. The rattiest. The battiest. MILDRED Henry, did you hear me? HENRY Well, look at him-- Mildred walks to the sink, where James is washing his face. As she hands him a towel, Bruce returns, with DONNY in tow. Donny is five, with a cherubic face, a pudgy body, and a babyish voice. BRUCE She's not sleeping in. She's dressed and sitting in her room. DONNY Gramma says she's coming down later. MILDRED (to Donny) Scrambled eggs? 14. DONNY (shaking his head) Gramma makes me breakfast. Mildred takes a pan of biscuits from the oven. MILDRED Who wants biscuits with their eggs? ADAM Why are you making breakfast? MILDRED If you remember, I made your breakfast for years. BRUCE That was before Gramma came. MILDRED (looking from one to the other) Do you mind . . . Any of you? ADAM Did you and Gramma have a fight? James, towel in hand, turns from the sink. MILDRED No. ADAM Yes, you did. Like the fights you have with dad. (turning to James) Didn't she, Jiminy? MILDRED JAMES. His name is James! JAMES No. She didn't fight with anybody. ADAM LIAR-- MILDRED Adam! ADAM His name is Jiminy, and he's a liar! 15. Mildred, holding back tears, limps hurriedly from the room. HENRY (calling after her) What about our lunches? JAMES You always make her feel bad-- (pause) all of you. DONNY (babyish chirping) Not me! I don't-- James looks at Donny, opens his mouth to speak but doesn't. BRUCE What did WE do? ADAM It's not our fault if she takes things the wrong way. JAMES Why couldn't you just eat breakfast and keep your mouths shut? ADAM (belligerently) Is there a law says we can't know what's going on? JAMES NOTHING'S going on. If she wants to make breakfast once in a while, what's wrong with that? HENRY Maybe we like things the way they are. JAMES You hurt her feelings. BRUCE Well, we didn't mean to. JAMES She embarrasses you. ADAM Cut it out, Jiminy-- 16. JAMES She's pretty, and she's smart. That's what I think. (pause) And I don't mind about the other. Adam, opening his mouth to respond, is grateful to see Gertrude appear in the doorway. GERTRUDE (looking at the boys) I saw your mother going to her room. DONNY Grammy, can I have a waffle? GERTRUDE Of course, sweetheart. Going to the stove, she sees Millie's unfinished breakfast preparations. GERTRUDE (continuing) You haven't had breakfast? Any of you? JAMES She started to, but-- BRUCE (interrupting) She didn't make our lunches either. JAMES (mumbling) So who gave her a chance? GERTRUDE Did something happen? ADAM No. (looking at James) I guess she wasn't feeling so good. James goes into his room, closing the door loudly. EXT. BUS STOP - 7 O'CLOCK THE SAME MORNING James and his mother arrive on the outskirts of a crowd of school children waiting for buses. Adam, Bruce, and Henry are at a distance, laughing and joking with other children. 17. The boys see James and their mother and with brief nods acknowledge their presence. INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY - 8 O'CLOCK THE SAME MORNING At the open door to an empty classroom, James and his mother are standing with James' teacher, MRS. PETERSON, a tall, thin woman of thirty-five. MRS. PETERSON I wish all my students were as motivated and could write as well. It's a pleasure to have James in my class. MILDRED Thank you. James smiles. MRS. PETERSON I'm happy to have met you, Mrs. Chappell. Good-bye. James and his mother turn to leave as Mrs. Peterson enters the classroom, closing the door after herself. JAMES Thank you for coming, mother. MILDRED She likes you. That's good. JAMES Are you going home? MILDRED No. JAMES Why not? MILDRED I have work to do at the church. JAMES What church? MILDRED Just a church. You wouldn't know it. (pause) There's a rummage sale next week. 18. JAMES Will you be home for dinner tonight? MILDRED I'll try. (pause) I really will. JAMES Promise? MILDRED Yes. I promise-- He nods as she smiles and starts down the path to the bus stop. EXT. BUS STOP - A FEW MINUTES LATER James is surreptitiously following his mother. Close to the bus stop he watches from behind a parked truck as she boards a bus. When the bus has pulled away, James approaches a man waiting at the stop. JAMES What number was that bus? The man shrugs. WOMAN (approaching, out of breath) It was a twenty-two. JAMES Are you sure? WOMAN I'm sure. It was my bus. Now I'll be late. JAMES Thanks. And I'm sorry you missed your bus. James turns to go back to the school. He stops and addresses the woman. JAMES (continuing) Where does the twenty-two go? 19. WOMAN The East Side. INT. CITY BUS - THIRTY MINUTES LATER Mildred is sitting on a crowded bus, looking out the window. As the bus enters the industrial district, it stops across the street from the mini storage yard. Mildred watches Charlie as he stands in front of the storage yard talking with two men. They enter the office as the bus moves on. INT. CHURCH KITCHEN - LATE AFTERNOON In the church kitchen Mildred is working at the stove, cooking on several burners. The kitchen is cheerful and well- appointed, but the appliances have seen years of use. AGNES, 70, short and thin, is washing vegetables at the sink. She stops to watch Mildred. AGNES Those kitchen things you brought from storage yesterday-- Mildred looks up. AGNES (continuing) It was quite a load. You should have let me bring the car around. MILDRED I like walking . . . Gives me time to think. Plan the meals. AGNES (smiling) How you keep so many things going all at once, Mildred-- (shaking her head) On the stove. In the oven. MILDRED I like cooking here . . . It's-- (pause) Well, pleasant. Relaxing. AGNES And not at home? MILDRED My husband's mother-- (pause) Well . . . It's complicated. 20. Agnes hears a tone in Mildred's voice and turns back to working at the sink. AGNES Now me . . . You'd think I could have learned to cook. Raising my own kids and foster kids. (smiling) As soon as they could reach the stove, they took over, one after the other. But watching people eat, that I love to do. The kids . . . Especially watching kids eat. (shaking her head) It's kids going hungry that gets to me. Especially the little ones. It cuts me all up inside. Mildred nods. AGNES (continuing) My parents . . . Well growing up, we were poor. But we always had enough to eat. I can't imagine being so hungry . . . Like the kids who come here. Can you? When Mildred doesn't answer: AGNES (continuing) Mildred? MILDRED When my parents separated, my mother and I were poor. Very very poor. As poor as you can imagine. I had a piece of bread in the morning. AGNES Oh, Mildred-- MILDRED No butter. No jam. And nothing else until school lunch. A free lunch. But no seconds. AGNES And supper--? 21. MILDRED Supper? (shrugging, she shakes her head) My mother cleaned houses all day. At night she cleaned offices. She needed to eat, more than I did, so I told her I ate a big lunch at school. But I was always hungry. For years I was always hungry. AGNES But your father-- MILDRED He and my brother disappeared. Before the divorce was final, they vanished. We never saw them again. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EVENING Gertrude is apportioning food onto plates and setting the plates on the table, as Adam, Bruce, and Henry, who is holding Donny by the hand, straggle in and take their places. James enters, out of breath and taking off his backpack. He stops, looking at Gertrude. JAMES Where's mother? GERTRUDE (shrugging) I haven't seen her. (turning to the boys) Have you? JAMES She said she'd be home-- ADAM I thought she went to see your teacher. JAMES She did. Then she got on a bus. ADAM Well, maybe she's riding around the city. JAMES She was going to work. 22. BRUCE So, whizzo, you answered your own question. She's working. James takes the plate of food Gertrude has put at his place on the table and goes to his room, closing the door. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - LATE THE SAME EVENING James, alone, is seated at the kitchen table, homework spread out around him. The dishes have been washed, the kitchen cleared. Mildred comes in, tired, takes off her coat, which she lays over a chair. After a surreptitious glance, James keeps his head bowed over his homework. MILDRED I'm sorry, James. But-- JAMES (interrupting) You promised-- MILDRED What did I promise? Mildred takes two mugs from the cupboard. JAMES (head still down) You promised you'd be here. For dinner. MILDRED I promised I'd try. JAMES A promise is a promise. Mildred begins heating milk in a saucepan. MILDRED You need to listen to what's being promised. She takes a tin of cocoa from the cupboard. JAMES (mumbling) Maybe YOU need to be home more. As she pauses in her work of spooning cocoa into the cups, her body seems to shrink. James looks at her, then down at his homework. 23. JAMES (continuing; contritely) There's leftovers. Mildred returns to spooning cocoa. MILDRED I ate at the church. (pause) After work. (turning) Where's dad? JAMES I haven't seen him. MILDRED Didn't you eat? JAMES In my room. MILDRED You should eat with the others. James does not respond. MILDRED (continuing) And try to be happy. James continues to stare down at the table. MILDRED (continuing) Because that's what life is all about. Being happy. She pours milk into the two mugs, stirs the cocoa mixture, and places one of the mugs in front of James. She sits down, wrapping both her hands around the second mug. MILDRED (continuing) And it's about forgiving. James looks at her and slowly nods. MILDRED (continuing) OK? 24. JAMES OK. MILDRED It's late . . . Isn't it? Nodding, he gathers up his papers and books. Balancing his cup of chocolate on top, he goes into his room, leaving the door ajar. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING Frank enters the kitchen, dressed in work clothes. Mildred is sitting at the kitchen table, much as she was when James left her. FRANK Where did you sleep last night? MILDRED I didn't. FRANK All right then. Where did you spend the night? MILDRED Here. FRANK You sat here all night--? MILDRED Pretty much. I checked on the boys. (pause) And I heard you sleeping. Actually, talking in your sleep. Frank sighs, shakes his head. FRANK Where's it going to end, Millie? (pause) WHEN is it going to end? He waits for a response. FRANK You owe me an answer. MILDRED Do I? 25. FRANK And a lot more. MILDRED Like marrying me in the first place. Whatever could you-- FRANK (Interrupting) DON'T. MILDRED Whatever could you been thinking of? FRANK I wasn't thinking of anything. I loved you. After a long silence: MILDRED We're having a rummage sale. FRANK Who is? MILDRED The church . . . Where I work. FRANK The mystery church. MILDRED Don't start in-- FRANK There's a church two blocks away. MILDRED I go where spirit directs me. FRANK (shugging) Really. And couldn't spirit direct you to the church here? In your own neighborhood? MILDRED Would that make you happy? Feeling the way you do about churches . . . All churches. She waits for him to respond. When he doesn't: 26. MILDRED (continuing) If you'd let the boys go to services-- She searches his face, her expression pleading. MILDRED (continuing) They need something . . . Something to believe in. A faith. FRANK I'm talking about CHURCHES. You don't need a church to have faith. MILDRED We tried that, if you remember. Praying at home. Reading the Bible. You thought it was a waste-- (pause) Good churches do good things. FRANK All right. Tell me where this church is. I'd like to see some of these good things. MILDRED And go there to fight with me. FRANK Tell me, or I'll find it on my own! So help me--! MILDRED Don't do this, Frank-- FRANK You'll probably start sleeping there! MILDRED What difference would it make? FRANK None! Not one little bit--! MILDRED You're right, of course. 27. FRANK You should be here . . . With your family. Not with a bunch of pious . . . Whatevers . . . taking advantage of you! You should be with the boys-- She picks up her coat and begins putting it on. FRANK (continuing) Millie! Don't! Don't leave this house! She looks at him defiantly. FRANK (continuing) If you do . . . Don't come back--! Ever! With a stricken look, Frank watches Mildred pick up her purse. FRANK (continuing) Not ever! She leaves the room. Soon an outside door is heard to close firmly. FRANK (continuing) I loved you, Millie. (his voice catching) I love you . . . Still. INT. BEDROOM - AFTERNOON Although not large, the bedroom accommodates a bed, a bureau, and a dressing table. The door to a hallway is partly ajar. James is standing at a closet door, looking inside. Gertrude walks into the room carrying an armload of folded clothes. Startled, James turns. GERTRUDE You shouldn't be in your dad's room . . . Going through things. JAMES I'm not touching anything. And it's mother's room, too. 28. GERTRUDE Well, it's not YOUR room, is it-- She waits for him to respond. GERTRUDE (continuing) So what, exactly, ARE you doing? JAMES Nothing. GERTRUDE Doesn't look like "nothing" to me . . . Not with the closet door open. JAMES Just looking. GERTRUDE Looking for what? JAMES She hasn't been home in a week, and everything's still here. Even her heavy sweater-- GERTRUDE So--? JAMES Well . . . What's she wearing? I mean, except for the clothes she had on-- GERTRUDE Clothes can always be got. JAMES Why would she get different clothes? GERTRUDE To start over . . . A fresh start. James looks at her, opens his mouth as if to speak but doesn't. GERTRUDE (continuing) People do funny things. 29. JAMES Somebody should look for her. (pause) The police-- GERTRUDE She'll come back when she's ready. That's what they'd say. JAMES Why doesn't dad look for her? She turns away and begins putting clothes in bureau drawers. GERTRUDE He has. I asked him. INT. CITY BUS - LATE AFTERNOON James is sitting in the first row of the bus, near the door. He has his head down, studying a book on his lap. His backpack is on the floor at his feet. The bus slows and stops. The door opens, and after several people disembark, others begin getting on, handing tickets to the driver. Suddenly the driver turns toward James, moving his head to see past the passengers boarding. DRIVER James! James looks up. DRIVER (continuing) James! Look there--! JAMES What? DRIVER That woman with the cane--! JAMES (looking) Oh-- (disappointed) Not her. DRIVER No--? JAMES My mother's not that old. And she doesn't use a cane. 30. DRIVER Ah. JAMES But thanks. (pause) And she might be using a cane, now. Who knows. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - LATE EVENING James has finished his homework and is putting books and papers into his backpack. As his father enters, James looks up. FRANK Jiminy, we need to have a talk-- (pause) But maybe you'd rather I call you James? JAMES (warily) No. Jiminy's okay. Mother minded . . . But-- FRANK It's ABOUT your mother-- JAMES (quickly) Is she all right? FRANK Well, it's not that. I don't know if she's all right. I don't even know where she is. JAMES (disappointed) Oh. FRANK We ALL miss her, Jiminy. Looking away, James shrugs, shaking his head slightly. Frank suppresses the anger that flashes across his face. FRANK (continuing) I know I miss her. And your brothers miss her. They just don't show it. 31. James does not respond. FRANK (continuing) You're spending a lot of time away from home. Staying at school? JAMES Sometimes. FRANK And other times--? JAMES I just ride buses. FRANK Why? Frank waits. JAMES I keep having a dream . . . The same one-- (pause) I keep dreaming that I'm riding a bus, and I see mother. FRANK Dreams don't mean anything. James nods. FRANK (continuing) School's more important than riding around on buses because you have a dream. JAMES (defensively) But it's okay. I study on the buses. FRANK (skeptically) Do you? JAMES I've got good at tuning things out. People talking. Radios. Cell phones. 32. FRANK You can't study and look for mother at the same time. Can you? James hesitates, biting his lip. JAMES The drivers are mostly very nice. Frank looks puzzled. JAMES (continuing) They say if they see her, they'll call out-- FRANK How would they know her? He suddenly realizes the answer. FRANK (continuing; a bit sharply) I'm not sure I like you riding all over the city. JAMES Just the East Side. FRANK Why there? James shrugs, looking away. FRANK (continuing) I didn't mean what I said, you know. When I told her not to come back. Ever. James nods, turning his gaze back to his father. JAMES Maybe she's in a hospital. FRANK They'd have told us. JAMES Maybe somebody stole her purse. Maybe they don't know who she is, and she can't talk. Maybe you should tell the police. 33. FRANK I did. JAMES Oh. FRANK They think she went away because she wanted to. JAMES She DIDN'T want to. I know she didn't-- FRANK Jiminy-- (pause) There's something else I need to talk to you about. After a long pause: FRANK (continuing) It's something we have to face. (pause) The fact is, she might not come back. James bites his lip to keep the tears back. JAMES You should have made her stay. FRANK Jiminy-- JAMES You should have made her be happy. INT. CHURCH THRIFT SHOP - AFTERNOON Mildred is in a room cluttered with used objects: piles of clothes, garden tools, kitchen utensils, dishes, toys. Mildred and several other women are sorting and pricing, working quietly, intently. Soon Mildred picks up a pile of clothes that have been folded and stacked neatly. She walks to JOLENE, a short, stocky woman with spiky hair. MILDRED Jolene-- The woman looks up. 34. JOLENE Yes--? MILDRED I'd like to buy these. JOLENE Oh, Mildred, no-- Mildred looks abashed. MILDRED I understand. They're needed for the sale. JOLENE What I mean is you needn't pay for them. Not with all the work you do here. MILDRED Oh, I couldn't. JOLENE You most certainly can. You take those and not another word. MILDRED But-- JOLENE Not another word. MILDRED Thank you. I appreciate your kindness. As Mildred turns to walk back to her work station: JOLENE Mildred, I've been meaning to ask-- MILDRED Yes--? JOLENE You're here so much. And your boys-- MILDRED They're fine. JOLENE Surely-- 35. MILDRED My mother-in-law is there. JOLENE But surely it's not the same. MILDRED They're big boys . . . With friends, school, soccer-- JOLENE But the youngest-- MILDRED He's much attached to his grandmother. Having reached an impasse, neither seems to know how to end the conversation. JOLENE Maybe if you talked with someone. MILDRED About what? JOLENE About you being away from home so much. MILDRED There's no need. JOLENE If you're sure. MILDRED I'm sure, Jolene. I'm sure. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - LATE EVENING Gertrude is alone in the kitchen, finishing cleanup. Frank hurries in, dressed in work clothes. FRANK Sorry I'm late. The truck broke down. Gertrude turns to him, nods, and begins taking food from the refrigerator. FRANK (continuing) What's wrong? 36. GERTRUDE (truculently) Nothing. She pauses in her work, waiting for him to pursue the matter. When he doesn't, she turns to face him. GERTRUDE (continuing) Jiminy had one of her oatmeal bars. Puzzled, Frank looks at her. GERTRUDE (continuing) The kind that's his favorite. FRANK So? GERTRUDE Where did he get it? Frank nods toward Jiminy's door, which is ajar. FRANK Please . . . Keep your voice down-- GERTRUDE (without moderating her voice) I'll TELL you where he got it. Frank gets up, closes James' door. GERTRUDE (continuing) He took it out of his backpack. I saw him. FRANK Well, what's wrong with that? Squirreling it away. GERTRUDE He was SURPRISED. I saw his expression. And he tried to hide the bar. FRANK (amused) She sneaks in here and cooks? Is that what you're saying? 37. GERTRUDE Of course not. Wherever she's LIVING, she's cooks. FRANK So you think he sees her-- GERTRUDE No, I don't think he sees her. Otherwise she would have just given it to him, not hide it in his backpack. (pause) She's coming here at night . . . When we're asleep. Bemused, Frank shakes his head. GERTRUDE (continuing) I'm sure of it. As he smiles: GERTRUDE (continuing) It's not funny. You need to change the locks on the doors. FRANK No. GERTRUDE It's dangerous. Somebody sneaking around. FRANK You're afraid of her? GERTRUDE I'm AFRAID that somebody could get hold of her key. Sighing, Frank does not respond. GERTRUDE (continuing) Well, do as you like. But you put a lock on MY bedroom-- FRANK What if you got sick in the night? 38. GERTRUDE Donny could unlock the door. FRANK (shaking his head) If you must . . . Prop a chair against the door. But no lock. GERTRUDE Find out what's going on. FRANK I will. GERTRUDE Either YOU have a talk with Jiminy. Or I will. FRANK (testy) Don't interfere-- She leaves the room, without preparing his dinner. FRANK (continuing; calling after her) Mother . . . You hear what I'm saying? INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING Frank, dressed in work clothes, is drinking coffee at the kitchen table. He looks toward James' closed door. FRANK (calling out) Jiminy-- James appears in the doorway, wearing pajamas. FRANK (continuing) You heard what your grandmother said last night? James nods. FRANK (continuing) How did the cookie get in your backpack? 39. JAMES I don't know. FRANK Do you think your mother's coming here at night? James shrugs. FRANK (continuing) You don't see her? Hear her? JAMES No. FRANK Don't know where she is? JAMES No. As he sips his coffee, Frank studies James. FRANK I believe you. JAMES It's true. Frank nods. EXT. ENTRANCE TO CHURCH COMMUNITY ROOM - EVENING Mildred, standing at the covered entrance to the church community room, is pulling a scarf over her head as Agnes comes outside. They both stand watching heavy rain washing down the steps toward them. AGNES Mildred, I'll give you a lift. MILDRED It's not far, Aggie. Just two blocks to the bus stop. AGNES Far enough to get soaked. Starting up the steps, Agnes calls over her shoulder. 40. AGNES (continuing) I'll bring the car around! You wait-- MILDRED Really, Agnes-- AGNES Two minutes! While Mildred is waiting, two women come out of the community room and stop briefly next to Mildred. MAXINE You okay, Mildred? MILDRED Agnes is giving me a ride. Waving, the two women run up the steps, sharing an umbrella. When a car drives up and stops at the curb, Mildred hurries to the car and gets in on the passenger side, nodding to Agnes. They drive through pelting rain until they arrive soon at a bus stop that is across the street in front of several lighted shops. AGNES I'll wait till your bus comes, Mildred. MILDRED Oh, no, Aggie, I'll just stand in the deli entrance. I'll be fine. AGNES You're sure--? Smiling, Mildred gets out, crosses the street, and waves good- bye to Agnes. Waving back, Agnes drives away. When the car is out of sight, Mildred crosses back to the other side of the street and continues walking in the direction the car had taken. INT. BUS - EARLY AFTERNOON James is again sitting in the first row of the bus on the aisle seat. He is deeply absorbed in a magazine. The bus is crowded, and people are standing. The driver turns briefly toward James. DRIVER James! JAMES! 41. When James does not respond, the driver directs his words to the passenger sitting next to James. DRIVER (continuing) Would you give him a nudge-- The passenger taps James on the arm. JAMES (to passenger) What? The passenger beckons toward the driver. DRIVER James . . . Two stops and you need to get off. Time to pack up and go home. JAMES Oh! Thanks-- James begins zipping up his backpack. The driver shakes his head, as he stops to let passengers off and on. DRIVER How you can study . . . With all this noise-- JAMES I don't know. I just do. PASSENGER Wish I could. The driver nods. PASSENGER (continuing) Then I wouldn't hear my wife yelling at me. James gets up, slinging his backpack over one shoulder. Clutching the magazine in one hand, he holds onto a post near the door with the other hand. JAMES Not hearing things . . . It feels good. Like being someplace else than where you are. So you can't worry. 42. DRIVER You don't give up easy, do you, James? JAMES No. DRIVER You must know every bus schedule by heart-- JAMES Only the East Side. DRIVER (surprised) You're sure about the East Side? JAMES I'm sure. (pause) Well, almost sure. DRIVER How long you been looking now? JAMES Since January. DRIVER Winter. Spring. And now summer soon. JAMES I know. DRIVER Still be looking? James nods. DRIVER (continuing) Must have a lot of things you'd rather do than ride buses-- JAMES No. I like buses. DRIVER Better than baseball? Girls? Video games? 43. JAMES When I grow up I'll travel all over. South America. Asia. Europe. Africa. DRIVER (smiling) By bus? JAMES Maybe some. DRIVER You have a plan to pay for all that? Marry some rich girl--? JAMES Write articles for magazines-- (waving the magazine in his hand) Like this one-- DRIVER Hope they pay good. The bus stops, and James jumps down the steps onto a dark street. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EVENING Frank is sitting in the kitchen, drinking coffee, as Gertrude washes dishes. James hurries into the room, breathless. FRANK I thought I told you, home by dark-- Gertrude dries her hands. JAMES I know. FRANK By DARK-- James nods, as he hangs his backpack on one of the pegs. Gertrude, after taking food from the refrigerator, goes to the stove. FRANK (continuing) It's not safe. 44. JAMES I'm sorry. But it's just now dark-- FRANK And you make extra work for your grandmother. JAMES (to Gertrude, whose back is turned) Really, it's okay. I'll eat it cold. GERTRUDE (turning to look at James) You will NOT. FRANK Mother-- As she turns back to the stove, James sits down anxiously at the table. INT. CITY BUS - LATE AFTERNOON James is seated in his usual place at the front of the bus, with his head down, studying a book. The bus is crowded and noisy. DRIVER James! JAMES . . . Out the window! That the lady you're looking for? Could it be? James looks out the window, pushes the book into his backpack, and jumps off the bus at the next stop. JAMES (calling back to the driver) Thanks! EXT. CITY STREET - CONTINUING James sees his mother limping along the crowded sidewalk. She is wearing her old coat, and with her good arm she is carrying a cloth bag with worn handles. James follows her, keeping well back. As the crowd thins, he stays close to the buildings, moving from one doorway to another. 45. Eventually, as dusk begins to turn into darkness, the storefronts end, and the area becomes one of car repair shops and small manufacturing shops. He passes a body and fender shop, beyond which is a wrecking yard filled with old cars. Next to the old cars is a small house, and beyond that is the enclosed mini storage yard. Seeing his mother stop, he ducks into the wrecking yard. After waiting for a minute, he cautiously leaves his hiding place. Looking ahead, he hesitates, puzzled, unable to see her. He begins walking hurriedly along the sidewalk in the direction she had taken. With nothing except barren lots beyond the storage yard, which is locked, he slowly backtracks, his eyes searching. Stopping at the small house, where lights have been turned on, darkness having fallen, he hesitates, then begins making his way down a narrow woodchip walkway beside the house. A wooden fence abuts the mini storage buildings on one side of the walkway, and on the other side a chainlink fence prevents access to the wrecking yard. Small trees and shrubs line both sides of the woodchip walkway. James follows the walkway the length of the storage yard, until access beyond is barred by another chainlink fence. Looking through the fence, he sees, by the light of a full moon, a long dog run with a large doghouse at the far end. Beside the large doghouse is a smaller one. An open field can be seen through the chainlink fence that runs the length of the dog run on the far side. Seeing or hearing nothing, he retraces his steps until he again approaches the house. There Charlie stands watching him. His face is stern. CHARLIE What's that you're doing? JAMES Sir--? CHARLIE I SAID what's that you were doing back there-- JAMES (after a pause, stammering) Lo . . . Looking for m . . . My dog. Charlie shines a flashlight on James, studying him. Then he grunts. 46. CHARLIE Didn't find him-- JAMES No, sir. CHARLIE This walk, in case you're interested, is on private property. James studies the house, as if trying to see into the lighted interior. CHARLIE (continuing) What's that you're staring at? JAMES It's just-- CHARLIE Just what? JAMES I thought I saw somebody go in there. CHARLIE (gruffly) Did you really? And who would that have been? Somebody stealing your dog? James shrugs. CHARLIE (continuing) Well, be on your way. James begins to walk away, as Charlie turns toward the house, taking a fistful of keys out of his pocket. CHARLIE (continuing) You can be sure nothing but me goes in this house . . . Neither two-legged or four-legged. Nobody but me lives here. And nobody but me has a key. Turning onto the sidewalk James looks over his shoulder to see Charlie go into the house. 47. EXT. SIDEWALK - LATE AFTERNOON Late in the afternoon, the sun having gone down, James is again approaching the car repair shop, his backpack slung over one shoulder. He sees, farther ahead, Charlie standing by the entrance to the mini storage yard, his back turned as he talks to a man in an idling pickup truck. Quickly James disappears among the old cars. He is still waiting as dusk begins to fall. Finally, still concealed, James sees his mother slowly limping down the street in his direction. Before reaching James' hiding place, she slips beside the office of the body and fender shop, now closed, just a few yards from James' hiding place. She sits down on some cast-off car cushions, as if she is accustomed to doing this. After the truck has driven into the storage yard, Charlie continues to stand by the entrance. Later, in near darkness, the pickup truck drives out with boxes piled high in the back. Finally, when it is fully dark, Charlie pulls the gate closed, padlocks it, and goes into the house. When lights come on in the house, James sees his mother emerge from beside the office and walk along the sidewalk toward the house. Quickly leaving his hiding place, he follows her, watching as she turns onto the woodchip walkway beside the house. She stoops over as she passes a lighted window. After she has disappeared beyond the house, James follows her from a distance. He sees her push through a thin stand of shrubbery, and hearing a faint noise he carefully moves closer. He sees that she has parted loose fence boards and is slipping through into the storage yard. From inside the storage yard, the boards are pushed back in place. James hurries to where she has slipped through and carefully pushes aside one of the boards. As he looks through the small opening, he sees a figure dimly outlined in the moonlight and then recognizes his mother as she passes under a bright security light. He watches as she raises the overhead door on one of the storage units. When she steps inside and pulls the door closed from the inside, James is alarmed. JAMES (calling softly but stridently) Mother, no! You can't breathe in there! Shaking, he stands up and takes several deep breaths. 48. JAMES (continuing) Okay. Think about it, Jiminy. It's no different than your bedroom. You don't have any windows there, do you? He hunkers down again, and for a long while he crouches, staring through the fence. Finally, pushing the loose board back into place, he emerges from the shrubbery and slowly walks away. INT. CITY BUS - EARLY MORNING Night has not yet turned into dawn, and rain is pounding the windows of the bus as James climbs on. Holding out a card for the driver to punch, his hand shivers. He is wearing a rain slicker and carrying his backpack. DRIVER Well, James . . . Early for you to be out, especially on a rainy Saturday. JAMES (trying to control his excitement) I FOUND HER-- DRIVER (with a brief glance at James) Really--! (pause) Talk to her? JAMES Not yet. DRIVER Maybe today. JAMES Maybe. The driver hands James a thermos. DRIVER Better have some of this. Perk you up a bit. 49. EXT. OLD CAR LOT - DAWN James has again hidden himself among the old cars, in a place where he can see the house and mini storage yard. The rain has turned into light drizzle. As the sky lightens toward daybreak, Charlie emerges from his house and walks to the storage yard, where he unlocks the gate and pushes it open. As he is doing this, James' mother slips out of the side yard and hides herself beside the body and fender office until Charlie has returned to his house. Then she begins hurriedly limping away. James follows her at a safe distance. After a few blocks he sees her approach a large brick church. At the side of the church she edges her way through a group of waiting people. He sees her walk down a few steps, holding onto a rail. At the bottom, she knocks on a door and is let in. James loiters around the outskirts of the group, until a man and woman with a couple of children about his own age join the group. He sidles close to them. When the door opens, James keeps close to the two children. The boy is about James' age, the girl a year or two older. When they are inside he can see that all these people have come for a free breakfast. James waits in line, taking a tray and picking up a knife, fork, and spoon. When he sees his mother, as she brings food out from the kitchen, he keeps his eyes down. Someone reaches out and places a plate of scrambled eggs and a slice of buttered toast on his tray. Farther down the line, he picks up a small container of orange juice. Then he follows the children and their parents to the far side of the room, where he sits down at their table and starts to eat. The parents look at James suspiciously. JAMES (to the children) My name's Jiminy-- They continue eating. JAMES (continuing) Not my real name. My name is really James. Do you have nicknames? The boy looks at the girl, then both shyly shake their heads. 50. JAMES (continuing) I do some of my homework on buses-- (pause) What grades are you in? The boy and girl look apprehensively at their parents. JAMES (continuing) Where do you go to school? Their father leans across the table toward James. FATHER You ask too many questions. Embarrassed, James eats silently. After the family has eaten, they get up without a word and leave. Raising his eyes slightly from time to time, he glances at his mother. At one point he catches her looking at him and realizes that she has seen him. There is no longer a line, and the women behind the counter are cleaning up. James' mother takes a cloth and plastic bin and comes to his table. She puts the plates and utensils in the bin and wipes away crumbs and bits of food before sitting down opposite James. MILDRED How are you? JAMES Okay. MILDRED I miss you. (pause) Is everyone all right? JAMES (shrugging) I guess. MILDRED Are you mad at me? James shakes his head. JAMES I just wish you were home. (pause, thinking) Do you come to the house at night, sometimes? When we're asleep-- 51. MILDRED Not anymore. JAMES Do you mind if I come here? (pause) I mean . . . sometimes-- MILDRED I'd like that. James nods. MILDRED (continuing) Does your father know where I am? JAMES No. (pause, thinking) I mean . . . I guess not. MILDRED I wish you wouldn't tell him. James nods again. MILDRED (continuing) I like working here. I like helping poor people. (pause) Does dad talk much about me? James blushes and looks away, not knowing how to respond. MILDRED (continuing) That's all right. Really. JAMES He did talk about you once. To me. She looks at him questioningly. JAMES (continuing) He said you might not come back. Ever. (then, hoping to please her) And he said maybe he should call me James now. Like you did. (more) 52. JAMES (cont'd) (pause) I mean, like you do. MILDRED (after a long pause) Would you like to come for church service tomorrow? James nods. MILDRED (continuing) It's a good church. The minister's a lady-- James looks surprised. MILDRED (continuing) Church is at eleven. (pause) But before you come here . . . You'd better have breakfast at home. Dad might wonder-- She stands up to leave. MILDRED (continuing) James, I'd like to know . . . how you found me here. JAMES I saw you when I was riding a bus. MILDRED (raised eyebrows) That bus was a long way from home. James nods. JAMES I like riding buses. I even do my homework there. She looks at him as if she understands his long search. MILDRED Now that you've found me, maybe you should stop riding the buses so much. Maybe you should come here for breakfast on Saturdays. (more) 53. MILDRED (cont'd) How would that be? And Sundays for church. James bites his lower lip, looking uneasy. MILDRED (continuing) You don't have to worry. I'll be here. Really I will. Tentatively James nods, his apprehension somewhat eased. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EVENING Adam, Bruce, Henry, and James are sitting at the table with Frank, as Gertrude washes dishes. Donny is on a stool beside Gertrude, wiping dishes. HENRY I wish every night was Friday night. FRANK (to the older boys) Anything special tomorrow? ADAM Carnival at school. DONNY (turning) Can I go? ADAM No. FRANK Adam-- ADAM Well, in half an hour he'd be whining to come home. FRANK Then bring him home and go back. Adam nods grudgingly. FRANK (continuing) James, are you going? James shakes his head. 54. FRANK (continuing) Why not? JAMES Maybe in the afternoon. BRUCE Jiminy takes off every Saturday. Early. HENRY Big secret. JAMES I eat breakfast with someone. That's all. FRANK Oh? Where's that? A long pause follows, as James looks down, embarrassed. JAMES Her place. ADAM HER place--? JAMES Well, sort of her place. And we go over homework . . . Things I'm having trouble with. BRUCE (singsong) Jiminy's got a girlfriend-- The other boys take up the refrain. HENRY What's her name? JAMES None of your business. BRUCE (chanting) What's her name? What's her name? The other boys take up the chant. FRANK Okay, boys. Let it be. 55. BOYS (chanting) What's her name? What's her name? What's-- FRANK (loudly) I SAID, let it be--! EXT. SIDEWALK - EARLY MORNING Mildred and James are walking along the sidewalk near the mini storage. MILDRED Did I hurry you at breakfast? JAMES No. It's okay. (pause) What's wrong? They stop in front of Charlie's house. MILDRED The man who owns the storage yard lives here. He's an old man. His name is Charlie-- (correcting herself) Mr. Palinovich. (pause) I use one of the storage sheds. James nods. MILDRED (continuing) He's always around. But I haven't seen him since yesterday morning when he opened the gate. He didn't close the gate last night, and his house was dark-- Embarrassed, she turns to look at James. MILDRED (continuing) I'm often around here at night. Getting things I need. JAMES Maybe he went to see someone. 56. MILDRED He never goes anywhere. They begin walking around the perimeter of the house, peering in windows when they can get close enough. Reaching the back porch, Mildred cups her hands against a window next to the door, trying to see inside. James leans over the porch railing, looking to the side of the house. JAMES There's a tree close to the house. I think I can climb it. James hurries down the porch steps and begins climbing a tree at the side of the house. Hanging out on one limb, he looks inside. JAMES (continuing) I can see a bed. (pause) If I can get a little closer-- Mildred comes from the porch to stand underneath the tree. MILDRED Be careful-- JAMES I can see someone. MILDRED Is it him? JAMES I think so. James leans a bit farther toward the house. JAMES (continuing) Yes. He's on the floor beside the bed. MILDRED Does he look awake? JAMES He's face down. He's not moving. Mildred begins hurrying down the walk. 57. MILDRED We need an ambulance! I'll find someone! (calling back to James) Careful getting down! EXT. WALKWAY - A FEW MINUTES LATER Mildred and James are standing at the bottom of the porch. From the back door, which is open, two paramedics emerge carrying a stretcher on which Charlie lies, a blanket covering him. He tries to talk, but his mouth just opens and closes without sound. When the stretcher reaches the bottom of the stairs, Mildred leans toward Charlie and follows for a few steps. MILDRED Don't worry! I'll look after things-- Charlie begins thrashing around. When he succeeds in throwing off the blanket, the paramedics pause to retrieve it. Charlie reaches clumsily into his pocket and extracts a set of keys, which he holds out to Mildred but accidentally drops. After stooping to pick up the keys, she follows the paramedics, talking to them as they load the stretcher in the ambulance. James comes to stand beside her. JAMES What will you do? MILDRED Lock the house. Lock the storage yard tonight. Unlock it in the morning. The ambulance pulls away, leaving them standing at the curb. JAMES How much does it cost? MILDRED Cost? JAMES To rent a storage unit . . . Like the one you rent. MILDRED The church rents it. JAMES Why? 58. She looks warily at James. MILDRED For things they don't have room for in the church. INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - AFTERNOON Mildred is leaning over the bed on which Charlie lies, his eyes closed. James is standing uneasily in back of his mother. MILDRED Mr. Palinovich . . . Can you hear me? Startled, he opens his eyes. MILDRED (continuing) It's Sunday. You've been here since yesterday . . . In the hospital. He tries to speak but cannot. His surprised look turns to anger. MILDRED (continuing) I've locked your house. And I'll lock the yard at night and unlock it in the morning. He closes his eyes and turns his head away. MILDRED (continuing) And your garden . . . I'll water the plants. (pause) Should I let someone know? Family? A friend? (pause) Mr. Palinovich . . . ? When he makes no response, she turns to look at James, shrugging her shoulders. INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - AFTERNOON SEVERAL DAYS LATER Mildred and James are again in Charlie's hospital room. James is standing next to his mother. Charlie is awake, his eyes focused on the ceiling. 59. MILDRED You ARE better. They said you were-- Charlie directs his gaze at Mildred, then lets it rest on James. CHARLIE Who's that? MILDRED James . . . My boy. CHARLIE Where does he live? MILDRED With his father. CHARLIE I thought he must. MILDRED Yes. CHARLIE With his father. Somewhere-- MILDRED Yes. In another part of town. CHARLIE That's good then. Charlie continues to look at James. CHARLIE (continuing) I've seen him around. MILDRED (surprised) Have you? CHARLIE When he loses his dog. Puzzled, Mildred turns to James. JAMES (shrugging) It's okay. I'll tell you about it. 60. MILDRED (to Charlie) We've brought your mail. (looking at James) James-- James hands a plastic grocery sack to Charlie, who flings it to the floor. CHARLIE Junk. James picks up the sack, places at the end of the bed. CHARLIE (continuing) Terrible-- MILDRED (puzzled) What's terrible? CHARLIE Terrible place, this-- (pause) Always waking you up for something. Pills. X-rays. People gawking at you. And the food. Garbage. MILDRED I'll bring you some food tomorrow. What would you like? CHARLIE Hamburger. Chocolate shake. MILDRED I'll cook something. CHARLIE I've got money. MILDRED That's all right. CHARLIE (testy) I TELL you . . . I've got money. In my house. In the freezer. Take one of the "soybean curd" containers. Look inside. Mildred laughs. 61. CHARLIE (continuing) What's so funny? Who would steal soybean curd? MILDRED Maybe somebody who knows you don't freeze tofu. Charlie snorts derisively. CHARLIE Soybean turd . . . That's what they'd think it spells. Wouldn't mess with it. James tries to conceal a smile. CHARLIE (continuing; to James) And what strikes YOU so funny? JAMES Nothing. MILDRED Should we let someone know you're here? Family? CHARLIE No. MILDRED No one? No family? CHARLIE No family. Mildred nods, without responding. CHARLIE (continuing) I had a wife once. (looking at James) And a boy. Charlie pauses for a long time, remembering. CHARLIE (continuing) Then she died. And when the boy was sixteen he took off. (more) 62. CHARLIE (cont'd) (remembering) That was the last I saw of him. A long time ago. Long long time-- His voice trails off, and his eyes close. Soon his breathing becomes heavy and regular. JAMES (quietly) Why did he say that . . . ? (looking at his mother) I mean, why did he say it's good I live with dad--? MILDRED (as if to herself) I didn't know he knew. JAMES Knew what? MILDRED Oh. Nothing. For a moment Mildred is silent, thinking. MILDRED (continuing) Well, you see, James . . . I live in a-- (pause) Well, some people would say I live in a strange way. I didn't think anyone knew . . . Least of all him. JAMES I know. MILDRED (surprised) You do? JAMES I followed you. Before you saw me at the church. Mildred smiles, shaking her head. INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - AFTERNOON Charlie is awake, watching Mildred set out food on his beside table. 63. CHARLIE Where's my hamburger? My chocolate shake? MILDRED Try this. CHARLIE (testy) Looks like hospital food. MILDRED Something I made. She hands him a fork, and he begins eating. CHARLIE Okay. Better than hospital food. But not like a hamburger. What's in it? MILDRED Different things. CHARLIE Cost more than a hamburger? You find the money? MILDRED I didn't need money. I cook for the church . . . People who are hungry and can't afford-- CHARLIE I can afford. MILDRED Good. When you're well, you can give a donation. INT. CHURCH DINING ROOM - MORNING Women are cleaning up after the breakfast crowd has left. Mildred is sitting opposite James, who is finishing his breakfast. MILDRED I brought Mr. Palinovich home yesterday. JAMES How is he? 64. MILDRED Cranky. And he has to use a cane. They exchange a smile. MILDRED (continuing) But he did say I took good care of everything. And he gave me a donation for the church. (pause) And he asked me-- JAMES What? MILDRED Well, first he TOLD me . . . She shakes her head, sighing. MILDRED (continuing) He told me to stop living in the storage unit. He said he couldn't look the other way anymore. JAMES (softly) Where will you go? (eyes pleading) You could come home. MILDRED No, James. I don't think so. Not while things-- (shrugging) Not yet anyway. (pause) But Mr. Palinovich did say I could live in his house and help him. James nods. JAMES And will you? MILDRED Well . . . Living in a house again. With windows. And a bathroom. JAMES So you won't ever come home again-- 65. MILDRED I don't know, James. I really don't. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON James is sitting at the kitchen table reading a book, while Mildred stands at the sink cleaning vegetables. She glances around occasionally to look at James. MILDRED James-- He looks up. MILDRED (continuing) I've talked to Mr. Palinovich-- (drying her hands) And he says-- James waits for his mother to continue. MILDRED (continuing) He says it would be all right if you might like to live here. I mean, with Mr. Palinovich and me-- James starts to speak, hesitates. A long pause follows. MILDRED (continuing) It's all right. I understand. You'd miss your father and brothers. JAMES I'd rather live here . . . With you. She smiles. INT. JAMES' ROOM OFF THE KITCHEN - EVENING The door to James' room is open. He is sitting on his bed, looking apprehensive. Voices can be heard in the kitchen. James stands up and walks to the door, where he sees his father and brothers. JAMES Dad. Could I talk to you? 66. FRANK Sure. What is it? JAMES I mean . . . In here. His brothers stop talking. When his father enters the small room, James closes the door. FRANK What's wrong? JAMES Nothing . . . Really. But I wanted to tell you something. FRANK Okay. JAMES It's just-- (pause) I know where mother is. FRANK (eyebrows raised) Do you? James hesitates. FRANK (continuing) And where is she? After a long pause: JAMES She asked me not to tell. Shrugging his shoulders, Frank looks away. JAMES (continuing) But that was before-- (pause) So it's okay now. I'll tell you. FRANK Only if you want to. JAMES The thing of it is . . . She said I could come live with her . . . Where she is. 67. FRANK I see. They stand for a long moment looking at each other. FRANK (continuing) And will you? JAMES Only if-- FRANK If what? JAMES If you think it's a good idea. FRANK How would I know if it's a good idea? JAMES I mean, it's a nice enough house. It's small . . . But that's all right. It's this old man's house, and she helps him. He has one of those mini storage places. And when she isn't helping Charlie, she cooks at a church-- Frank shrugs his shoulders. JAMES (continuing) So I'd like to-- (pause) I mean . . . I'd be sorry to, you know . . . Leave-- James stops lamely, unable to finish the sentence. FRANK I know you don't get along with your brothers-- JAMES Well, sometimes. FRANK And what about school? 68. JAMES I can still go to the same school. Take a bus . . . Just a little longer. FRANK I'd have to know where you are. James extracts a small piece of paper from one of the books on his bed. JAMES So you don't mind? James hands the piece of paper to his father, who looks at it, then folds it and carefully puts it in his shirt pocket. JAMES (continuing) I'll come back sometimes. To see you. And everybody. Frank nods. JAMES (continuing) You won't . . . I mean . . . Come to this old man's house. FRANK Not unless I'm invited. Which doesn't seem likely. After a pause: FRANK (continuing) Well, we'd better tell your brothers and grandmother. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - MORNING James and his brothers are in the kitchen. James is wearing his backpack and carrying several plastic sacks. Donny comes to James and wraps his arms around James' leg. JAMES You can come see me . . . Anytime. All of you-- Donny releases James, who walks toward the door. 69. EXT. STREET NEAR CHARLIE'S STORAGE YARD - EARLY EVENING Millie and James are walking toward Charlie's house, each carrying several grocery sacks. Charlie can be seen locking the storage yard. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE EVENING Mildred, James, and Charlie are seated at the kitchen table, eating. When James has finished eating, he takes his empty plate and glass to the sink. Charlie continues to eat while Mildred drinks a cup of coffee. MILDRED Charlie, I'm just wondering-- (pause) When you cooked for yourself-- He looks up. MILDRED (continuing) What food did you eat? CHARLIE Didn't cook. Picked up a hamburger, maybe chicken, at the fast food. Sometimes bought a frozen pizza at the store. Smiling, James leaves the room. MILDRED Vegetables? Salad? CHARLIE Lettuce in hamburgers. Tomatoes sometimes. MILDRED Breakfast? CHARLIE Coffee, toast. MILDRED So . . . Where'd you get the tofu containers . . . The ones in your freezer? CHARLIE Found them in garbage cans. 70. MILDRED Did you ever taste tofu? CHARLIE You kidding? Smiling, Mildred shakes her head. CHARLIE (continuing) I know this is extra work, you bringing food from the church and have to heat it up for me. MILDRED It's okay. You can't leave the yard until you lock up. (pause) Maybe Sunday breakfast. You could eat early at the church, before you open the yard. He shrugs. INT. CHURCH DINING ROOM - MORNING In the church dining room that is filled with people eating, Mildred and James are sitting next to each other, facing Charlie across the table. They are finishing breakfast. MILDRED (to Charlie) Did your family go to church? Charlie shakes his head, looking at the MINISTER, who is circulating among the tables. She is forty-five with an angular, sensitive face. MILDRED (continuing) Your wife . . . Son? CHARLIE Wife went to church, when she got sick. For all the good it did her. MILDRED How do you know? Maybe it did her good. The minister, having reached their table, stops, directing her attention to James. 71. MINISTER So this is--? MILDRED James, my next to youngest. MINISTER I'm happy to meet you, James. MILDRED And Charlie you know. From the mini storage. MINISTER Of course. It's good to see you here, Charlie. Called away to another table, she leaves. CHARLIE James . . . Too formal for a kid. Jimmy, that's what you should call him. Then, when he's grown, he can call himself Jim. Pushing his plate away, he stands up. CHARLIE (continuing) Time to open up the yard. He leaves, wending his way through the tables to the door. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - MORNING Charlie is seated at the kitchen table, drinking coffee, scraps of toast left on his plate. Mildred and James arrive. Nodding to Charlie and smiling, James leaves the room as Mildred begins taking food from the refrigerator. Opening a cupboard, she takes out a child's plastic lunch box. MILDRED (Running her hands over the cupboard door) Beautiful cupboards. CHARLIE Kenny made them all. Everything in the house, everything that's wood, he made. Cabinets, beds, dressers-- 72. MILDRED You taught him? CHARLIE No. The boy had a gift. MILDRED You mean he made everything, all this? But he left home young, you said. Sixteen. CHARLIE He started making things at eleven, the time his mother got sick. I bought him tools, wood. He kept himself busy, all those years she was sick. MILDRED Did he take woodshop in school? CHARLIE He never went to school. Oh, first grade. One year. Then she taught him at home. Taught him good, I'll give her that. Won't give her much else, though. MILDRED Why? CHARLIE An alley cat . . . That's what she was. Coming home night after night bruised, beaten, sometimes so badly-- (pause) Even after she got sick. MILDRED Oh. CHARLIE But for all that she thought she was too good for me. Because she was educated. Her father a banker. A decent man, though. He lent me money to buy this place. MILDRED Still . . . she married you. CHARLIE I was available. 73. MILDRED Available? CHARLIE To marry her when she was pregnant. MILDRED Oh. (pause) So Kenny--? Charlie nods. MILDRED (continuing) Did Kenny know? CHARLIE Not until she was dying. Then she told him. MILDRED Oh. I'm sorry. Why would she do that? Charlie shakes his head. CHARLIE He was all mixed up then. Poor kid. He didn't know whether to call me "dad" anymore. And when she died, he left. After I'd raised him, just as much as she did. MILDRED Maybe he went looking-- (pause) Did he know who--? I mean, his father-- CHARLIE (shrugging) If SHE even knew. I just wonder where he is-- Mildred nods. 74. CHARLIE (continuing) What kind of life he's had. (sighs, heavily) Maybe someday I'll go looking for him . . . Find him, if I'm lucky. INT. KITCHEN IN MILLIE'S HOUSE - MIDDAY James is seated at the kitchen table with his brothers, father, and Gertrude as they eat lunch. GERTRUDE It's good to have all my boys here. (to James) Maybe you could come every Saturday for lunch. I'll make something special. JAMES I'll try. When everyone has finished eating, Gertrude gets up to begin clearing the table. ADAM (standing up) Can we go, dad? Hockey practice. FRANK Jimin-- (pause) James, want to go with them? JAMES No. Thanks. Adam, Bruce, and Henry gather up backpacks and hockey sticks and leave. Donny is helping Gertrude with the dishes. FRANK (to James) You doing all right? JAMES Fine. FRANK Mother doing all right? James nods. 75. FRANK (continuing) School? JAMES It's okay. Good. Yes, good. FRANK Longer bus ride. (pause) You like living at this place, the storage yard? With the old man? JAMES (nodding) I have my own room. It was Kenny's. FRANK Kenny? JAMES Charlie's son. He left a long time ago. FRANK And your mother? She has her own room? Gertrude stop working to listen. JAMES (nodding) It was Kenny's mother's, before she died. FRANK And where does this Charlie sleep? JAMES He has his own room, too. FRANK You like Charlie? JAMES He's okay. Sometimes he gets cranky. But he's funny, too. (pause) And he cheats at cards. (smiling) He doesn't think we know. 76. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE EVENING Mildred, Charlie, and James are seated at the kitchen table, playing cards. Mildred and Charlie sip occasionally from cups. James is drinking a glass of milk. As the game ends, Charlie begins gathering up the playing cards. CHARLIE (winking, to James) Hey. Maybe you win next time. JAMES (smiling) I doubt it. MILDRED Homework? James stands up. JAMES Not much. Did most of it on the bus. (with a slight wave) 'Night. He leaves the room. As Mildred gets up, Charlie waves her to sit back down. CHARLIE You don't have to be working all the time. Sit. Rest. MILDRED (sitting down) I like being busy. Useful. CHARLIE But don't you get tired? MILDRED Of course. Everyone does. CHARLIE I mean, your arm . . . Your leg. It takes more effort, surely. MILDRED (touching her unusable arm) I wouldn't know. I was born this way. 77. CHARLIE You do very well. Getting up, Mildred removes the cups from the table, takes them to the sink. CHARLIE (continuing) Does James miss his brothers? MILDRED Probably. (pause) In a way. But they teased him. CHARLIE I never had brothers or sisters. MILDRED Neither did Frank. I had a brother, but we weren't close. Then he went with my father, and I stayed with my mother, when they separated. CHARLIE It must be good, sharing thoughts with somebody. MILDRED You didn't with your wife? CHARLIE Thoughts? No. Argued a lot. MILDRED About what? CHARLIE Everything. Kenny not going to school. She not home nights. Being a lousy cook. Never cleaning the house. (pause) You and Frank argue? MILDRED Not much. Well, not in the beginning anyway. CHARLIE Talked though? Shared thoughts? 78. MILDRED We used to. Nodding, Charlie looks away, preoccupied. CHARLIE Where? Sitting at the table after dinner? Relaxed-- MILDRED Well, yes. CHARLIE Laying in bed? MILDRED Sometimes, yes. CHARLIE Laying in bed. Relaxed. Feeling . . . connected. Close to somebody. After a long pause: CHARLIE (continuing) So would you? Mildred turns to study Charlie. MILDRED Would I what? CHARLIE I wouldn't touch you. I'm too old . . . Too far in the past for that. Not that I ever-- (pause) Anyway-- Mildred raises her eyebrows. CHARLIE (continuing) Not share at night. Just lie side by side sometimes. When James isn't home. Not every day. Just talk. 79. MILDRED Oh, Charlie . . . I don't know. (Slowly, after a long pause) Well, yes. We could do that, I suppose. What harm would it do? CHARLIE No harm at all. INT. CHARLIE'S BEDROOM - EARLY AFTERNOON Charlie and Mildred are lying on their backs side by side on a double bed, in a sparsely furnished bedroom. They are several inches apart, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. CHARLIE You've been happy? I mean with your husband? MILDRED Yes. (pause) Until-- CHARLIE Until his mother came to live. Mildred sighs, shakes her head slightly. MILDRED To be honest, before that-- Charlie turns his head briefly to look at her. MILDRED (continuing) There was a woman. And when it was over, he was sorry. Truly sorry. He begged me to forgive him. And I did. I thought . . . These things happen, even in happy marriages. And we did have a happy marriage. He worked hard. We had a nice home. Wonderful boys. We had good times, all of us. But-- CHARLIE But? 80. MILDRED But then there was another. And another. Nothing that lasted long. Still . . . I had to think . . . Why? (pause) Why? (a longer pause) And when I thought long enough, when I thought hard enough, I knew why. I knew it was my fault-- Charlie turns his head sharply to look at her and continues to study her. MILDRED (continuing) I loved him, you see. Yes, I did love him. But not enough. Never madly, never with my heart pounding in my ears, thinking of no one, nothing else. Never consumed thinking about him. And somehow, he knew that. So he went looking . . . Elsewhere-- CHARLIE And betrayed you. MILDRED Did he? I guess you'd have to call it that. And I was angry, of course. I still am. But I'm sad, too. Very sad. For him . . . As well as for me. Charlie turns back to stare at the ceiling. MILDRED (continuing) Well, I don't know if you've ever been madly in love . . . The kind that sweeps you away, like a tidal wave . . . Lets you think of nothing else. She turns briefly to glance at Charlie. MILDRED (continuing) It happened to me once. Long before I met Frank. 81. CHARLIE Lucky . . . This long-ago man. MILDRED Boy, really. We were teenagers. CHARLIE And this boy then . . . How did he feel about you? MILDRED He didn't know I existed. But, somehow, I could never forget him. Even when I lost track of him. When I had no idea where he was. Silly really. Just one of those things that happens, I guess. Happened to me . . . That you don't have control over. But you keep looking and looking-- CHARLIE I know. MILDRED Do you? Mildred sits up, wearily, and stares out the window, as Charlie watches her. MILDRED (continuing) And finally you meet someone. Someone good and steady. And you settle for him. Who wasn't this boy you'd been crazy over. Long before. Long, long before. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON Mildred has just poured two cups of coffee and sits down across the table from an elderly man. He is dressed rather flamboyantly, like an aging hippie. He has thick, dark hair, almost shoulder length, and a full, dark moustache. James comes in from outside, backpack over his shoulder, carrying a book in his hand. JAMES (seeing his mother and the stranger.) Oh. I'm sorry. MILDRED It's all right, James. 82. JAMES Where's Charlie? MILDRED Around. JAMES Around where? James looks at the stranger, puzzled. MILDRED Close by. James puts his backpack down on the counter, lays the book on top. JAMES If he's locking up, I'll help-- Turning to go outside, James sees the man touch his moustache, smooth it, then begin peeling it away. Astonished, James watches as the man slowly touches his hair and begins sliding a wig away from his head, revealing Charlie, laughing. James smiles, shaking his head. Charlie gets up, does a few dance steps around his cane. MILDRED Charlie, why do you still carry the cane? You don't need it. CHARLIE Going on the stage, I am. MILDRED Oh? CHARLIE (to James) So. Jimmy, you're supposed to say, "What stage?" JAMES (shrugging) Okay. What stage? CHARLIE (laughing) First stage out of town. 83. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING The three older boys are seated at the table, talking amiably while Gertrude cooks, with Donny sitting on a stool near the stove. When a wall phone rings, Adam gets up to answer it. ADAM Gram, it's for you. Surprised, wiping her hands on her apron, Gertrude walks to the phone. GERTRUDE (to Adam) Watch the hotcakes. As Adam goes to the stove, she picks up the phone, listens. GERTRUDE (continuing) Dorothy, I can't understand a word you're saying. Please . . . Slow down. (pause) That's better. Frank enters, dressed in work clothes. He looks at Adam, who shrugs. GERTRUDE (continuing) Oh, Dorothy. Sweetie, I'm so sorry . . . I can't believe-- She listens. GERTRUDE (continuing) Yes, of course I will. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - A FEW MINUTES LATER Mildred is hanging up the phone. James and Charlie are seated at the table, watching her. MILDRED (to James) That was your father. His Uncle Joe died, and your grandmother has to leave for a while. CHARLIE How long? 84. Distracted, she doesn't answer immediately. JAMES Mother? How long? MILDRED Well, I don't know. But a few days at most, I would think. Maybe a week. JAMES Will we go home? As Mildred nods, James looks at Charlie. JAMES (continuing) Maybe I stay here? CHARLIE Why not, Mildred? JAMES Would that be okay, mother? MILDRED Well, I don't know-- CHARLIE I might even show him how to win at cards. Maybe see how he looks in a moustache and wig. JAMES (smiling) Mother? CHARLIE We can go to church for dinner. MILDRED His school lunches? CHARLIE We can manage. MILDRED Well, I suppose. But dad will be disappointed. JAMES I can come visit maybe. After school. Charlie can come with me. 85. CHARLIE (gruffly) NO. Most certainly not. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING The three older boys are finishing breakfast, while Mildred sits at the table drinking coffee. Donny is fiddling with his breakfast. MILDRED When your gram's back, you all can come visit. Have lunch with us. James misses you. BRUCE We will. Thanks. The boys get up one after the other and take their backpacks from the pegs on the wall. Waving, they start for the door. MILDRED Your lunches-- They turn and pick up lunch sacks from the counter. ADAM See you, mom! They leave, as Frank enters. DONNY (to Mildred) Mama, why can't I go to school? MILDRED You do, Donny. DONNY Not a real school. MILDRED Well, it's a start. You're learning to spell. FRANK (to Mildred) And what about US, Millie? MILDRED What ABOUT us? 86. FRANK Can we make a start . . . Try to begin over? Mildred gets up and takes her coffee cup to the sink. FRANK (continuing) It's like old times . . . Just you, me, and the boys. Mildred looks at him, without answering. MILDRED Have you heard from your mother? FRANK Not today. (pause) Will you think about it? MILDRED I don't know. (pause) Yes, I'll think about it. Of course. FRANK Church has been getting along without you, has it? MILDRED I never said I was indispensable. FRANK No. You never did. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON Mildred is working in the kitchen. The table has been set. She stops to listen as a door opens and closes. Frank and Gertrude enter, Frank in work clothes, Gertrude in street dress. MILDRED Frank? (pause) Gertrude, I didn't know-- FRANK Mother will explain. (to Gertrude) I'll bring the boxes upstairs. 87. Frank leaves the room. MILDRED Boxes? What's going on? Frank didn't tell me-- GERTRUDE He didn't know-- MILDRED Know what? GERTRUDE And neither did I. (pause) I won't be coming back, Mildred. MILDRED Why not? Because of me? What I said? GERTRUDE (tears springing to her eyes) No. MILDRED Oh. (pause) Your sister-- Gertrude regains her composure. GERTRUDE She's in the hospital. MILDRED I'm sorry. GERTRUDE She had a stroke. MILDRED Oh! GERTRUDE She'll never be . . . Never be able to live alone. And I couldn't put her in a nursing home. I couldn't do that. MILDRED No. 88. GERTRUDE And it's best for you-- Suddenly Donny bursts into the room, wearing street clothes, carrying a child's lunch pail. DONNY Grammy! Grammy! GERTRUDE (hugging him) How's my boy? DONNY You're back! GERTRUDE Only for a while, sweetie-- (as he looks puzzled) Do something for me, will you? DONNY What? GERTRUDE Go up to our room . . . Yours and mine, and help daddy. DONNY Do what? GERTRUDE He'll show you. Will you do that? Nodding his head but obviously still puzzled, he leaves the room. GERTRUDE (continuing; to Mildred) I'm sorry we couldn't have been friends. I often wondered why you didn't like me. I just tried-- MILDRED Maybe . . . Maybe because of the way you looked at me. (as Gertrude appears puzzled) Not pity exactly. Though that was part of it. You were always wondering, I thought-- (pause) Well, it doesn't matter. 89. GERTRUDE Wondering? What was I wondering? MILDRED Why couldn't he have done better. Embarrassed, Gertrude looks away. GERTRUDE I'm truly sorry that I forced you away. MILDRED It wasn't you, Gertrude. Not entirely-- GERTRUDE (surprised) But you said-- MILDRED You were interfering. That's what you were doing. And I resented it. But even more I resented, well . . . something else . . . Something with Frank. GERTRUDE If you mean the women-- Mildred raises her eyebrows in surprise. MILDRED I didn't think you knew. GERTRUDE They were nothing, Mildred. MILDRED Weren't they? GERTRUDE Nobodies. MILDRED I wish I could be sure. I wish-- (pause) Still. Whatever they were . . . It's hard to forget. They stop talking as a door slams, and the raucous voices of the older boys are heard. 90. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - LATER THAT DAY The table is cluttered with the remains of dinner. Frank and Donny are seated at the table, as Mildred begins clearing away dishes. DONNY Won't we ever see her again? FRANK Of course we'll see her. We'll go visit her, in fact. It's not that far. DONNY When? FRANK When Aunt Dorothy is feeling better. MILDRED Donny, would you help me with the dishes? Donny gets up and begins helping to clear away dishes. FRANK (to Mildred) It will be better now, Millie. Without mother. Mildred shrugs. FRANK (continuing) I promise. (pause) I won't interfere with your church work. I know it's important to you. (pause) And the boys can go to church. (pause) As for me, I'll take a solemn oath-- (pause) About the other. Mildred studies him for a long moment. As she nods, Frank begins helping to clear the table. 91. FRANK (continuing; to Donny) Aren't we happy to have mother back? Nodding, Donny smiles timidly and looks at Mildred. INT. JAMES' BEDROOM AT CHARLIE'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON Mildred and James are standing in James' bedroom, with Charlie watching them from the doorway. MILDRED James, you can have Gram's room. JAMES But what about Donny? MILDRED Would it be so bad sharing? JAMES No. I guess not. MILDRED He goes to sleep early. Nothing wakes him up. It will be almost like having your own room. You'll see-- JAMES What about my old room? MILDRED Dad doesn't like you sleeping there. And he's right. You should have a proper room, with windows. And a bathroom nearby. INT. MILDRED'S BEDROOM AT CHARLIE'S HOUSE - A FEW MINUTES LATER Mildred and Charlie are alone in the room, as Mildred packs her belongings in boxes. CHARLIE Once, a long time ago, when I was adrift in life, I was on a train, for what reason I can't remember after all these years. As I looked out into the darkness, all I knew was that we were racing along in the Mojave Desert. (more) 92. CHARLIE (cont'd) Then, about two in the morning, an earthquake struck. A large one, 7.6, and you suddenly have this definite feeling that the train has left the tracks. And as we bumped along wildly, wheels on the desert sand, I thought, "Just like this train, my life has left its tracks." Mildred looks up from her packing. CHARLIE (continuing) As we waited for rescuers to come . . . Not able to walk around because the train might tip over . . . Sitting . . . Waiting all those hours, I searched my mind, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong . . . How I could make things right. MILDRED (shaking her head) I'm sorry, Charlie. I understand. CHARLIE So when the chance came, I married. And we raised Kenny, who's out there somewhere, God willing. Maybe a grandfather now. Smiling, Mildred returns to her packing. CHARLIE (continuing) So that was over . . . That part of my life over. And I started searching again. Hoping. Looking . . . For you. Which I should have done in the first place. Puzzled, Mildred looks up. MILDRED Charlie, what are you talking about? 93. CHARLIE All these years, I looked for you. I waited and hoped and then, when I thought . . . nothing will change . . . I'll be here alone until I die-- MILDRED Charlie, I'm asking you-- CHARLIE Just listen. I'm trying to tell you-- MILDRED Tell me what? CHARLIE That I can't let you go. Mildred shakes her head. MILDRED Really, Charlie, you don't have any choice in the matter. CHARLIE Well, you're wrong there. MILDRED You're going to choose my life for me? CHARLIE You chose to live here, a peaceful life. Right? MILDRED And now I choose to live with my family. CHARLIE So here I am, at seventy-five. I've finally found you, and I'm shaken to my roots. More even than on that train . . . Sent off its tracks in an earthquake. MILDRED I have a family, Charlie. A family that needs me. 94. CHARLIE You walked in here. Hiding, thinking I didn't notice-- MILDRED You need to let go, Charlie. Some things you just have to let go of. CHARLIE No. MILDRED We'll be friends, Charlie. Always. We'll see each other-- CHARLIE What I feel for you-- MILDRED Don't, Charlie-- CHARLIE Something I thought I'd never feel. MILDRED We'll see each other. I promise. CHARLIE I want you here. Living here. MILDRED You know I can't. Not now. Not leaving my boys without someone to look after them. Charlie sighs, shaking his head. INT. JAMES' BEDROOM AT CHARLIE'S HOUSE - A FEW MINUTES LATER Mildred and Charlie have entered James' room, where he is gathering his clothes in plastic bags. A box, partly filled with books, sits nearby. MILDRED Oh, James . . . Not finished. JAMES No. Sorry. MILDRED That's all right. You can stay and finish. I've got things to do at home. 95. CHARLIE THIS is your home, Mildred-- MILDRED (to James) Then tonight, when your dad's home from work, we'll come back-- CHARLIE Don't bring him here! I warn you! That scumbag! MILDRED Charlie! Please-- CHARLIE I mean it! MILDRED All right, Charlie. James and I can manage-- (to James) Just pile your things by the kitchen door. I'll call a friend when we're ready to leave. INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - LATER THAT DAY The table has been set and preparations for dinner have been started. As Mildred is putting on her coat, Adam enters. MILDRED Tell your dad James and I'll back by five-thirty. Tell him-- (pause) Well, just be sure he doesn't come over to Charlie's house. Adam nods as Mildred leaves. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON Charlie is sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee, as Mildred enters from the outside. She looks around the room. MILDRED I don't see his things. She starts toward the hall, calling out. MILDRED (continuing) James! 96. CHARLIE He's not here. MILDRED (turning back) Where is he then? CHARLIE Maybe he's gone to the church. MILDRED Why would he do that? CHARLIE (Shrugging) To say goodbye? Mildred goes to the phone, dials. MILDRED (speaking into the phone) Agnes, this is Millie. Is James there? (pause) Oh? No, but thanks. Puzzled, she turns to Charlie. MILDRED (continuing) He's not there. He hasn't been there. CHARLIE (shrugging) Oh, well, just playing around somewhere. MILDRED Playing around? When he knew we were leaving? Charlie, what's going on? Are you and James up to something? CHARLIE What would we be up to? MILDRED It's so unlike him. I don't understand. CHARLIE You worry too much. 97. MILDRED Why shouldn't I be worried? CHARLIE Because he's fine. MILDRED How could you know that? CHARLIE I just know. That's all. Mildred looks at him suspiciously. MILDRED I asked you . . . How could you know? CHARLIE I told you . . . I know. Plain and simple. MILDRED It's not plain. And it's not simple. CHARLIE You need to tell that husband of yours that you aren't coming back to live with him. MILDRED We're talking about James. CHARLIE Yes. I know what we're talking about. Sudden realization crosses Mildred's face. MILDRED You know where James is. Don't you? CHARLIE You need to tell your husband-- MILDRED I've already told him I'll be coming home. James and I. CHARLIE Well, you just have to tell him you've changed your mind. 98. MILDRED This is crazy, Charlie. CHARLIE Go see the scumbag. Go now. The sooner the better, and tell him-- MILDRED No. YOU tell ME. You tell me where James is. Now! This minute! CHARLIE I can't do that. Not until you agree-- MILDRED Agree, Charlie? How can I agree? CHARLIE It's a simple thing, Mildred. So don't get excited. Charlie crosses the room to pour coffee into an empty cup. MILDRED You know where James is, and you're keeping him . . . Somewhere. CHARLIE You're acting badly, Mildred. Have a cup of coffee. You'll feel better. MILDRED Tell me now! This minute! Where James is! CHARLIE You need to tell your husband-- MILDRED Stop saying that! I want my boy! CHARLIE I need assurance. MILDRED You wouldn't lock him in one of the storage sheds! You wouldn't! CHARLIE Check them . . . every one. You know where the master key is. 99. MILDRED It won't work, Charlie. It's crazy. You can't keep me here. Unless-- As he approaches her holding out the coffee cup, she pushes him away. MILDRED (continuing) You're not going to let him go. Are you? CHARLIE I will. Of course I will. You couldn't think that. MILDRED How can I believe you? CHARLIE I'm an honest man. You know that. MILDRED (another thought) And once James is with me-- (pause) What would keep me from leaving--? During a long pause that follows, each waits for the other to speak. CHARLIE You have other boys-- MILDRED (softly) Oh, God. CHARLIE So you see-- MILDRED Yes, Charlie. I see. CHARLIE Good. MILDRED But right now . . . It's James. I don't even know if he's all right. Charlie hands her a pen and paper. 100. CHARLIE Here. You ask him something. When you come back, you'll have James' answer. Hesitantly, standing at the counter, Mildred writes a few words on the paper and hands it to Charlie. CHARLIE (continuing) And don't bring the scumbag here. I'll have a weapon . . . And you never know-- INT. KITCHEN IN MILDRED'S HOUSE - LATER THAT DAY Adam, Bruce, and Henry are seated at the kitchen table talking as Mildred stands at the stove, cooking. When Frank enters in his work clothes, the boys look up and smile. Mildred turns to face the boys. MILDRED Boys, would you wait upstairs until dinner. It won't be long. Puzzled, the boys leave, as Frank looks at Mildred. MILDRED (continuing) Frank, I'm sorry, but I've decided-- She stops, shakes her head. FRANK Decided what? MILDRED Decided this isn't going to work. FRANK What isn't? MILDRED That I come back here. Puzzled, Frank stares at her. FRANK Why, Millie? I don't understand. MILDRED I'm happy there. 101. FRANK And not here? I thought you were happy to be home. I thought we were happy . . . you and me . . . together . . . the boys. MILDRED It wasn't easy . . . to decide. But I have to do this. To live away. FRANK And how am I supposed to manage. Without you . . . now that mother-- MILDRED You'll find someone to move in. Some friend . . . a woman friend. FRANK I HAVE no women friends! MILDRED Oh, Frank-- FRANK Nobody who's meant anything to me. Nobody I want to live with . . . raise our boys with. They were just-- MILDRED Just . . . what? FRANK Just someone to fill the gap. The distance that came between us. After a pause: FRANK (continuing) And James? MILDRED He'll stay with me. He's happy there, too. FRANK I need to hear it from him. MILDRED Don't make trouble, Frank. Please. 102. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON, SAME DAY Charlie and Mildred are standing in his kitchen as he hands her a piece of paper. She reads. CHARLIE So . . . does James sound all right? Slowly she nods. CHARLIE (continuing) Didn't I tell you he's all right. MILDRED He's NOT all right as long as he's hidden away somewhere. From a drawer he removes a folder, which he hands to her. She opens the folder and glances at the papers inside. CHARLIE Look at them. See what they are? Deed to the house, the storage yard. Everything. All for you. She tries to hand the folder back. When he won't take it, she lays it on the table. CHARLIE (continuing; taking papers out of the folder) See. They're in your name. All legal. Notarized. MILDRED I don't want them! CHARLIE If anything happens to me, they'll be here. You'll find them. MILDRED I just want James. CHARLIE And you will. Soon. Just be patient. MILDRED For how long? 103. CHARLIE Not long. Just until things get back to normal. MILDRED Normal, Charlie? What's normal? What will ever be normal? CHARLIE Normal like before. With the three of us together. Happy. MILDRED Happy? CHARLIE We were happy. (his tone slightly threatening) Say we were happy, Mildred. Say it. MILDRED (reluctantly, feeling pressured) Yes. We were happy. CHARLIE And we will be again We've just had a little bump in the road. Hearing a car door slam, Mildred hurries to the side window. Then: MILDRED Oh, God! It's Frank! CHARLIE Send him away--! Mildred starts to walk across the room, but before she can reach the door, Frank bursts into the room, with Donny trailing behind. MILDRED Frank, please--! He glances angrily at Charlie before approaching Mildred. FRANK (to Mildred) I've come to get Jiminy! 104. MILDRED No, Frank-- FRANK He needs to grow up with his brothers! Not way out here . . . in the middle of nowhere. No other kids. Repair shops. Old dilapidated yards. Rotten neighborhood to live in. And a long way from school. MILDRED We'll talk later, Frank. We'll work it out. FRANK No! We won't talk later! We'll work it out now! So just call him-- MILDRED He's not here. FRANK So where is he? School was out hours ago. MILDRED He's just . . . Not here. FRANK I don't believe you. (calling out) Jiminy! As he pushes past her toward the hall, Charlie takes a long pipe wrench from next to the refrigerator and holds it in a threatening manner. CHARLIE Like Mildred said, he's not here! And this is not your house! So just get out! Mildred moves to stand between Frank and Charlie. MILDRED Frank! Please-- DONNY (to Mildred) Can I go outside? Mother? You're all yelling. Can I? 105. MILDRED (without turning) All right, Donny. But stay on the porch. FRANK So where IS James? As Donny goes outside, Mildred is able to urge Frank to move a few feet from Charlie. CHARLIE As I've told Mildred, he's fine. FRANK So where IS he? CHARLIE I told you. He's fine. FRANK What's that supposed to mean? OK, what's going on here? Millie? CHARLIE He's gone away for a bit, that's all. FRANK Gone where? CHARLIE Well, that's for me to know, isn't it? FRANK What are you saying, dammit! When Charlie doesn't answer, he turns to Mildred. FRANK (continuing) Millie--? Where's Jiminy? MILDRED (her voice catching) I don't know. I don't know, Frank. FRANK (to Mildred) Are you saying . . . Are you saying--! (to Charlie) 106. FRANK (continuing) Good God! You've taken him! Millie, call the police! Frank takes a few steps toward Charlie, who threatens to hit him with the pipe wrench. But before Charlie can strike a blow, Frank grabs the pipe wrench and holds it, threatening Charlie. FRANK (continuing) You tell me this minute! CHARLIE Okay, scumbag! Knock me over the head! FRANK I JUST MIGHT! CHARLIE But think about it, scumbag! I know where he is! Only me! FRANK (to Mildred) Millie! For God's sake, call the police! CHARLIE And what good will that do? You think they can make me talk? What if they lock me up? Poor boy. Only I know where he is. Think twice, Frank! FRANK (to Millie) So that's why . . . That's what this is all about . . . All this "It won't work, Frank, my coming home." CHARLIE And it won't. She's happy here. Jimmy has been happy. FRANK Millie, what can we do? She shows him James' note, which he reads quickly. 107. MILDRED Frank, please . . . just go home. FRANK Home! How could I go home? MILDRED Because, I'm sure, in a few days-- FRANK A few days--! MILDRED Please. He wouldn't hurt James. FRANK Just keep him hidden. Does he have food? Water? Is he tied up like some animal? CHARLIE Is that what you think? You think I'm some monster? MILDRED It won't be for long, Frank. I'm sure. CHARLIE AM I?! Am I a monster?! Donny returns from outside. DONNY Mommy-- MILDRED Please, Donny-- DONNY Can I see the dog? MILDRED What dog, Donny? He points to Charlie. DONNY His dog. MILDRED Donny, not now-- 108. DONNY Mister, can I-- FRANK Donny, please, we're talking. Go back outside. DONNY (to Charlie) Mister, can I see your dog? CHARLIE I don't have a dog. DONNY But-- MILDRED Donny-- DONNY But I-- CHARLIE No. I told you. I don't have a dog. (turning to Frank) Here's something-- He picks up the manilla folder from the table and holds it out to Frank. CHARLIE (continuing) Like I told Mildred . . . This is a deed to the property. In her name-- DONNY D-O-G. Spells "dog." I learned that in school. Didn't I, mommy? FRANK (ignoring the paper Charlie tries to give him) So now we're into bribery! Kidnapping isn't enough! DONNY Mister, there's a place for a dog. A sign says something-- 109. CHARLIE Little boy, please! It says, "Beware of dog!" DONNY There's a yard and a doghouse. Two doghouses. A big one and a little one. A really really big doghouse. CHARLIE (to Frank) I want Mildred to have this. A good business. A good piece of property. FRANK And I want my son! Now! DONNY A big doghouse. Really really big. Charlie looks distractedly at Donny. Finally, in the silence, he answers. CHARLIE We had a big dog. Two dogs. One big, one small. My son's dogs. They left with him. So now will you just-- DONNY (interrupting) But I heard noises. CHARLIE Kid. There are lots of noises around here. Rats. Mice. Other people's dogs. MILDRED Donny, please-- DONNY I know rats and mice . . . I've heard them-- FRANK Donny, you heard what your mother said. 110. DONNY Daddy, I know mice. Remember when-- MILDRED (interrupting) Donny, we need to talk to Mr. Charlie. DONNY But the noises. Funny noises. Inside the doghouse. The big doghouse. CHARLIE Don't be a pest, little boy! Go outside and play! DONNY Mama-- Mildred and Frank exchange glances. FRANK What kind of noises, Donny? DONNY I don't know. Something. He taps on the pipe wrench Frank is holding. DONNY (continuing) Like something metal. FRANK Donny, where's this doghouse? DONNY (pointing) Way back there. FRANK Can you show us? CHARLIE Later, for heaven's sake! We'll all go out later! Frank looks closely at Charlie. 111. CHARLIE (continuing) We'll look--we'll all look--after we've finished talking. What we have here is a litle boy with a big imagination. FRANK No. I think we'll look now. CHARLIE An old doghouse . . . Rotting away. That's all. What we need right now is to talk. Still carrying the pipe wrench, Frank starts walking toward the door. CHARLIE (continuing) Stop! This minuite! You hear me?! As Frank opens the door, he beckons to Donny. FRANK Donny. Show us. Donny walks past Frank onto the porch and starts down the stairs. Mildred follows Frank to the door. CHARLIE You have to pay attention! To listen to what I'm saying! Frank and Mildred look back at Charlie. CHARLIE (continuing) I'm going to get angry, and when I get angry I stop talking. Is that what you want? MILDRED (hesitating) Frank-- FRANK (walking out the door, to Charlie) I think we'll take that chance. Mildred follows Frank out the door and down the steps. They hurry to follow Donny along the woodchip walkway toward the rear. 112. CHARLIE (yelling after them) You'll regret this! I swear you will! As they overtake Donny, he turns to Frank. DONNY Daddy, can I have a dog? Just a little dog. I'll take care of it. I promise. FRANK Later, Donny! We'll talk later! CHARLIE (calling after them) One last time! Leave this property! Or I call the police! FRANK (over his shoulder as he continues walking) Good! You do that! Mildred stops, looking back. MILDRED Oh, Frank. I don't know-- FRANK Come on, Millie! Together they continue hurrying down the side yard as Charlie watches them from the porch. When they near a chainlink fence that blocks their path, Charlie turns back into the house, slamming the door. EXT. REAR OF CHARLIE'S HOUSE - CONTINUING Frank and Mildred are standing with Donny, who has stopped at the padlocked gate to the chainlink fence. The fence encloses a long dog run. At the far end of the dog run, they see two beautifully built doghouses, a small one and next to it a very large one. The small doghouse looks like a miniature garden cottage. The large one has a covered porch, a closed door, and stairs at the side leading to a roof deck. FRANK (turning to Mildred) What do you make of those? 113. MILDRED His son loved woodworking . . . Making things. DONNY Maybe Mister Charlie will give us the small doghouse. Then we can get a dog. FRANK Donny, where'd you hear noises? Donny begins walking along the fence, with Frank and Mildred following. He stops at the far end of the fence near the doghouses. DONNY Can't we, daddy? Get a dog? FATHER Donny, the noise you heard-- DONNY Here. The noises were here. They listen. FRANK I don't hear anything. (to Mildred) Do you? She shakes her head. DONNY I called the dog. That's when I heard it. FRANK I don't see a dog. He says he doesn't have a dog. DONNY (calling loudly) Doggy! Here doggy! They listen. As Frank begins to shake his head, they hear a faint metallic noise coming from the large doghouse. DONNY (continuing) See-- 114. As the noise continues, Frank hands the pipe wrench to Mildred and begins climbing the chainlink fence. Almost at the top he slips and falls to the ground. Taking the wrench from Mildred, he limps hurriedly to the gate and begins hitting the lock with the wrench. After several blows, the lock breaks free and falls to the ground. Frank opens the gate and hurries to the large doghouse. Mildred and Donny follow him. The door to the doghouse has been secured with a wooden latch, which Frank easily removes, allowing the door to be opened. He peers into the dark interior, listening. He hears a muffled sound and the same metallic noise heard from outside the fence, only louder. Standing behind Frank, Mildred also listens. DONNY (continuing) I told you. Didn't I? Mildred turns to quiet him as Frank inches his way inside, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. As his eyes adjust even more, he sees a large, metal cage built to confine animals. The cage is rocking back and forth. FRANK My God! MILDRED Frank! What is it? FRANK (calling into the darkness) Jiminy! As he rushes to the cage, Mildred follows him, stumbling. MILDRED I can't see! (stopping) Frank--? FRANK Jiminy! Are you okay?! A muffled sound comes from the cage. MILDRED Frank, where is he? FRANK In a cage! A goddam cage! 115. Mildred approaches Frank, who is rattling a padlock that secures the cage door. MILDRED (now able to see) James! She kneels close to the cage, near where James is sitting, a gag over his mouth. Frank begins hitting on the lock with the pipe wrench. It breaks open as had the lock on the chainlink fence. Rushing inside, he grabs James in his arms. James mumbles through the gag, which Frank removes. JAMES Dad! Frank begins bringing James out of the cage. FRANK Locked up like an animal! MILDRED Frank! Please! Bring him outside! Frank half carries, half pulls James outside. James sinks to the ground, throwing his arm across his face. Frank and Mildred kneel beside him, as Donny stands a few feet away. MILDRED (continuing) James? What's the matter? JAMES It's just the light. It's so bright. FRANK Are you hurt? JAMES No. I'm okay. Really. Tentatively James removes his arm from his face. FRANK Can you stand up? Frank and Mildred help James as he slowly rises to his feet. JAMES I'm okay. I wasn't in the cage all the time. Not much, really. 116. FRANK Anytime was too much! JAMES He said it wouldn't be for long. Mother would make it all right. MILDRED I was trying, James. JAMES Most of the time I was just locked in the doghouse, not in the cage. Frank, shaking his head angrily and without a word, turns and begins walking rapidly away. MILDRED Frank-- FRANK I'll kill the bastard! MILDRED No, Frank. Please! Limping severely, she follows Frank, trying to catch up. MILDRED (continuing; calling) Frank! Wait! Donny approaches James, and together they begin walking toward the house. DONNY Lucky I heard you. Wasn't it? JAMES Very lucky, Donny. Very lucky. (smiling) I'm the luckiest. DONNY Jiminy, can I ask you something? Donny tugs at James' arm. JAMES Sure. DONNY Where'd you go potty? 117. JAMES I'll tell you later. If you do something-- DONNY What? JAMES Don't call me Jiminy anymore. Call me Jimmy. Just plain Jimmy. Can you do that? DONNY Okay, Jimin-- (stops) Jimmy. (continuing under his breath) Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - CONTINUING Mildred is alone in the kitchen, standing at the table reading papers she has removed from the manilla folder. Nodding to James and Donny as they enter the kitchen, she puts the papers back in the folder. Opening the regrigerator she looks into the freezer compartment. At that moment Frank hurries in from the hall. FRANK He's not in the house! Hiding somewhere! Storage yard probably. (to Mildred) Millie, come and help me. Mildred closes the freezer compartment and begins removing food from the refrigerator. MILDRED In a minute. As soon as I make James a sandwich. Frank, about to protest, turns instead and goes outside. After he has left, Mildred again opens the freezer compartment and takes out tofu packages, which are empty. James watches as she throws the cartons in a garbage container under the sink. INT. CHARLIE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUING Standing in the doorway, Mildred scans the room, seeing the open closet door and the window half open. As she closes the window, she sees the screen lying on the ground outside. 118. Then, turning from the window, she sees that the clothes Charlie was wearing have been discarded and are lying in a heap beside the bed. Next to the clothes lies Charlie's cane. She kicks the clothes and cane out of sight under the bed. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATER Frank is standing near the open door to the porch, next to a uniformed policeman who is writing in a notebook. Mildred and James are sitting quietly at the kitchen table, James with an uneaten sandwich in front of him. Donny can be seen walking in circles on the porch, bored. FRANK He'll get away-- POLICEMAN Sir, we've got everything covered. Bus depot, trains, cars-- FRANK He didn't have a car. POLICEMAN Hitchhiking maybe-- FRANK Oh. POLICEMAN Is there anything you can add to his description? (reading) "Blue shirt, heavy material." MILDRED Worn. Very worn. The policeman nods. POLICEMAN (reading) Faded jeans. Work shoes. Thinning gray hair, clean shaven, mid-seventies--" MILDRED Walks with a cane. The policeman jots this in his notebook, snaps it shut. 119. INT. BUS LEAVING DEPOT - LATER Charlie, dressed in clean, pressed clothes, is seated toward the rear of a half-filled bus, an oversized backpack lying on the seat beside him. He is wearing his fake moustache and wig. As he stares out the window, he sighs deeply and shakes his head, almost imperceptibly. INT. KITCHEN IN CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON Mildred and Frank are sitting quietly at the kitchen table drinking coffee as they watch James eat. Donny is playing with cards on the floor. Mildred gets up to pour more coffee into Frank's cup. JAMES You know, dad, it wasn't so bad. FRANK Tomorrow you'll think different-- JAMES Worst thing was he talked a lot. I kept falling asleep. MILDRED Did you have your books? JAMES No. But we played cards. (smiling) He showed me how he cheats. With a disgusted look Frank shakes his head. JAMES (continuing) Last night we watched the stars from up on the roof. The roof of the doghouse. He knows a lot about stars. He said his son had a telescope. MILDRED (to Frank) His son went missing a long time ago. Left after his mother died. JAMES (to Mildred) Charlie . . . Will they catch him, do you think? 120. MILDRED I don't know. Maybe not. (to Frank) Would that be so awful? When Frank doesn't answer: MILDRED (continuing) He's not a criminal, you know. Not a bad person. Just-- FRANK Crazy. MILDRED Just someone who lost his way. It happens. Could happen to anybody. Frank shrugs as he picks up his coffee cup. MILDRED (continuing) Then something happens . . . Making you think . . . And think. Something as explosive as an earthquake in the desert. Or as quiet as letting go-- (pause) Letting go of old wounds . . . Old loves. That maybe were never much to begin with. Studying Mildred, Frank holds his coffee cup without drinking. Mildred goes to the sink with her cup and empties the contents. MILDRED (continuing) We'd better be getting home. She crosses the room and takes a key from inside a cupboard. MILDRED (continuing) Storage yard needs locking up. (pause) Our yard, now. FADE OUT THE END
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