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Chapter 3, Scene 1: America

Chapter 3, Scene 1:  America

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Mitch sits at the small kitchen table, staring at his laptop. The apartment is mainly dark, with the laptop screen serving as the only source of light.

INSERT: Laptop screen, displaying coverage of the 2017 Inauguration:

INTERCUT THE COVERAGE WITH MITCH’S STUNNED, DISMAYED REACTIONS

… Donald Trump taking the Oath of Office.

… Trump’s Inauguration speech.

Over the various clips and snippets of coverage, the HOST is heard interviewing a PUNDIT.

       PUNDIT
With President Trump’s references to “America First” and reminders of violence and struggle in America’s inner cities, the tone of the address did not sound like that of the unifying victor, rather much more of an incendiary call-to-arms.

… Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell congratulate the new President.

       HOST
Who do you think he’s talking to there?

       PUNDIT
It certainly was NOT the progressives, not even the moderates he said he wants to represent, but clearly the base of voters that pushed his victory –

       HOST
– the blue-collar, mainly white-male contingent –

       PUNDIT
Of course. He knows if he doesn’t keep them fired up and on the edge of their seats, his entire political empire fails to take root.

… Vice President Pence congratulates his new boss.

… The rest of Trump’s team… Bannon, Conway, etc. display confident smiles.

       HOST
And the alt-right factions rising in the ranks?

       PUNDIT
Well, yes, obviously this speech has Bannon’s fingerprints all over it.

Mitch has finally had enough and swiftly closes his laptop.

       MITCH
Ugh!

Now in a darkened room, he stands and flips on the light in the kitchen. He notices how cold, how dreary the apartment feels.

He moves to another nearby lamp and turns it on. He steps to the opposite corner and turns on the overhead light next to the front door. He continues throughout the rest of his apartment, turning on every light possible.

He sits back down at the kitchen table and ponders opening the laptop again.

Instead, he grabs a pocket-sized journal, a pen, and his keys, and heads toward the front door.

INT. BED BATH AND BEYOND STORE – NIGHT

Mitch stands in line, waiting on the next checkout clerk. He holds two new table lamps with corresponding light bulbs in his hands.

He checks his cell phone, pulls up more news articles about the Inauguration and the opposing protests across the country.

He shakes his head, furrows his brow, clearly upset over the events of the day.

EXT. UPPER WEST SIDE – CITY STREETS – NIGHT

Mitch moves along Broadway, north, back toward his apartment, carrying the large Bed Bath and Beyond bag of his purchases.

His gait has lost its normal long, purposeful stride.  Instead, it’s more of a gentle stroll, suitable for someone with no destination in mind, merely a wanderer, soaking in his surroundings, looking for some sense of comfort.

He notices people that pass on the sidewalk, all going about their business, their lives, their current methods of pretending they aren’t equally shaken as he feels.

He steps past Cleopatra’s Needle, a Mediterranean restaurant and jazz club. He stops, looks inside, and notices a trio of musicians in the corner, fronted by a female singer.

INT. CLEOPATRA’S NEEDLE RESTAURANT – NIGHT

The mid-sized restaurant is active, but not busy, especially for a Friday night. The place feels like it gets hopping later, after the dinner crowds leave and the real jazz lovers crowd around and in between the tables.

Mitch sits at the bar, nursing a bottle of imported beer as he listens to the music.

The jazz is melancholy, haunting, and deep. The singer croons in a language Mitch can’t quite make out… maybe Greek, maybe Hindi, maybe Arabic.

He takes out his journal and begins making notes.

       MITCH
(written in journal)
Still so completely stunned. And fearful for this country. It’s not Trump. It’s not even Bannon, although he appears to be the architect of our demise. Fractured at our foundation — of what “America” really means.

He stops, gazes into nowhere.

The musicians finish their song. A smattering of respectful applause drifts up from mostly random, dis-engaged patrons.

Mitch returns to his journal.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
(written in journal)
We forgot how we got strong through diversity. We allowed the word “American” to be hijacked…  molded into a narrow image — like the white-skinned, light-haired Jesus they needed to believe in. So many giving up their right to the truth, in favor of the easy out — convenient to belong to something they don’t have to think about, just accept the rhetoric — even when it’s not true. Now ripe for a madman to use it all against them, against all of us — using “America” without defining it. Now “America” doesn’t relate to ideals of brilliant men that formed its tender beginning. Now a dangerous slogan, a banner, an icon on a hat, built on fear.

The trio begins another tune, although Mitch can’t easily distinguish it from the last song. He zones out a bit and returns to his journal.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
(written in journal)
And all of this… terribly disturbing. But what do I do? Where do I turn? Who do we turn to for reason, truth, and decency? When there is so much anger, distrust, and hatred? How does virtue triumph?

After a few more scribbles, something in the music catches his attention.

The singer has yet to express any lyrics, but something about the melody starts to sound strangely familiar — maybe in a minor key, with the somber, jazzy, dark tone of the previous song, but Mitch definitely makes out the song… America the Beautiful.

And then she sings…. In the same language used earlier.

       JAZZ SINGER
(in Arabic)
Oh beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

The singer’s strong emotional expression spreads over the restaurant. The patrons who had been barely listening, eating their Moussaka and Tabouleh, are now mesmerized by the rendition.

The moment hits Mitch like a wrecking ball. He fights back a more visible reaction, but a stray teardrop manages to break through.

       JAZZ SINGER (CONT’D)
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
My God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

The song ends, and the crowd is stunned into silence. Even the wait staff, bartender, and hostess are still and reverent.

Applause would seem too jovial. Cheers would seem too jubilant.

Mitch stands from his barstool.

Folks around him look at him, not sure what he’s about to do.  The singer looks directly at him, and she lightly smiles.

He clasps his hands together in front of his chest, gives a little shake as a symbol of solidarity.

Still silent, others in the crowd follow suit, standing and clasping their hands, many with tears on their faces as well. A woman of obvious Middle-Eastern heritage sitting at a table next to the stage, steps up and hugs the singer, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Mitch places the two new lamps in the living room, flipping their switches on.

The extra light helps him feel more settled, and he nods to himself in affirmation.

He returns to the kitchen table and opens his laptop.

He clicks and types, clicks and types, and then we see the website where he landed:

INSERT: SHOT OF LAPTOP SCREEN ON WEBSITE:
https://dailyaction.org with the title: “RESISTING EXTREMISM IN AMERICA, ONE PHONE CALL AT A TIME”

He adds his phone number and clicks ‘Submit’

END OF SCENE

Chapter 2, Scene 5: Back Home

INT. LAGUARDIA AIRPORT – GATE C3 – DAY

Mitch and Ron sit in the waiting area before Mitch boards his plane. Mitch’s BACKPACK is stacked on his rolling carry-on SUITCASE.

       RON
Pick me up something that you can only get in Kentucky.

       MITCH
Where are you going to keep it?

       RON
You’ll keep it for me.

       MITCH
I’m not building a shrine to Kentucky in my apartment.

       RON
What about all those pictures of your daughters?

       MITCH
That’s different.

An announcement over the PA:

       GATE AGENT (O.S.)
We’ll begin boarding flight forty-one sixty to Louisville shortly. Please make sure to have your boarding pass ready.

Mitch pulls up his boarding pass on his CELL PHONE.

       RON
The Cats played in Madison Square Garden the other night. That Monk kid is spectacular.

       MITCH
I must have missed that.

       RON
This side of you is… strange.

       MITCH
Because I don’t bleed blue anymore?

       RON
Nineteen ninety-three, Maui Invitational, against Arizona, who was ranked number one at the time

       MITCH
Ron.

       RON
We sat there in the Ultimate Sports Grill in Dallas and watched Jeff Brassow tip in the winning shot at the buzzer.

       MITCH
(smiles)
Yeah. But I had to stand on my chair so I could see the screen.  The place was nuts. God, what a rush that was.

       RON
That kind of attachment doesn’t die so easily.

       MITCH
Who said it was easy?

       RON
Pitino at Louisville, and Calipari at Kentucky. Is that it?

       MITCH
Not really. Let’s just say my connection with U.K. Basketball lost it’s luster after living in Lexington.

       RON
What luster are you going to lose by living in New York?

Mitch doesn’t answer.

After a beat, Ron changes the subject.

       RON (CONT’D)
Maybe some bourbon balls. I like those.

EXT. LOUISVILLE AIRPORT – TAXI STAND – CONTINUOUS

Mitch approaches the cab at the front of a short line. EARL, early 60s, white guy, gets out and takes Mitch’s luggage.

       EARL
Where you headed?

       MITCH
Pewee Valley. Oldham County.

       EARL
Did you leave home, or are you coming home?

       MITCH
Something like that.

INT. EARL’S CAB – MOVING – DAY

Mitch gazes out the window, seeing familiar landmarks along the Watterson Expressway.

… a sign for Bellarmine University — Mitch’s alma matter

… the Kaden Tower, a Frank-Lloyd-Wright-inspired building standing tall above the area around it — where Mitch once worked.

… the exit to Interstate 64, headed east toward Lexington.

… the Pewee Valley/LaGrange Road exit from Snyder Freeway

… and now we’re in Oldham County, riding along a narrow road in the country. They pass a small convenience store/gas station where a crew installs outdoor Christmas decorations.

       MITCH
Just over the next hill.

EXT. PEWEE VALLEY, KY NEIGHBORHOOD – DAY

The cab pulls into a subdivision, lined with upper-middle class homes, with good elbow room between the houses.

Canopies of tall trees surround each home. Most have dropped enough leaves to allow some rays of sunshine to penetrate their protective cover.

       MITCH
Hold on… stop here for a second.

The cab stops in front of a wide, rustic-looking house.  Weathered cedar siding and pair of tall, vaulted A-frame style sections with large windows give it a mountain-cabin feeling.

       EARL
Is this it?

       MITCH
No. Just give me a minute.

Mitch gazes at this house, looking over every detail from one end of the house to the other:

… the Japanese Maple at the front-right corner, which he planted many years ago

… the front door, with a beveled-glass center, surrounded by a dark-burgundy frame, which he painted

… through a large front window at the center, a custom light-fixture, made of wood, iron, and steel cables, which he designed and built

… then he lingers on the detached garage. The siding is less faded than the rest of the house, its roof shingles less worn and tattered, its trim paint less peeled. He stares at the double-sized garage door, as if by staring so intensely he could burn a hole right through it. Something inside that garage…

       EARL
Should I pull into the driveway?

       MITCH
No. Sorry. Two houses down on the left.

EXT. CARPENTERS’ HOUSE – PEWEE VALLEY, KY – DAY

The cab arrives at a country-style estate, much older and larger than Mitch’s more contemporary former home up the street.

INT. EARL’S CAB – CONTINUOUS

       EARL
Sixty-eight fifty.

       MITCH
Ouch… Jesus. Are you serious?

       EARL
Yes, sir.

Mitch hands him a CREDIT CARD.

       MITCH
A thirty minute cab ride from LaGuardia in New York is only forty bucks.

       EARL
Well, we ain’t in New York City.

He hands Mitch the RECEIPT and a PEN. Mitch adds a tip and signs.

INT. CARPENTERS’ HOUSE – PEWEE VALLEY, KY – DAY

FOYER:

Mitch opens the front door on his own.

       MITCH
Hello!

No one answers. He moves toward the back of the house.

IN THE KITCHEN:

ANN CARPENTER, 45, with her hair up in a pony-tail, runs a HAND MIXER through a bowlful of cooked potatoes. We also see the beginnings of a traditional Thanksgiving feast: a huge TURKEY, wrapped in foil, in a ROASTING PAN; an ANTIQUE SERVING DISH full of cranberry salad; a platter of roasted BRUSSELS SPROUTS, a sweet-potato CASSEROLE, etc…

With her back to the entrance to the kitchen, she’s fully engrossed in the task of mashing the potatoes.

Mitch enters.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Knock, knock!

Ann jumps in her skin.

       ANN
Oh, my god!

Mitch laughs.

       ANN (CONT’D)
What the hell? I thought you were coming in later this afternoon.

       MITCH
Nope. Here I am.

She gives him a quick hug.

       ANN
It’s been crazy busy already.

       MITCH
Looks great. Thanks again for having us. And postponing your Thanksgiving dinner to today.

       ANN
Oh, it worked out fine. We went to Mark’s sister’s yesterday. Nice to let someone else do it all for a change.

       MITCH
Where is the man?

       ANN
Are you kidding? Working retail on Black Friday. He had to go in at four a.m. Won’t be back until seven. Ugh. When do your girls get here?

       MITCH
Five-thirty.

       ANN
That’s must have been what I was thinking… for when you were coming in. Well, you know where everything is. You’re not a guest anymore, you’re family, so you get treated like it… Basically take care of yourself.

They both smile at this warm and comfortable reality.

INT. REBECCA’S CAR – MOVING – DAY

Rebecca drives her reliable economy car with some hard-rock playing over the speakers. She wears a blue University of Kentucky SWEATSHIRT.

Chelsea sleeps in the front passenger seat, her neck bent to nearly a 90-degree angle.

They enter the Pewee Valley subdivision. Rebecca stops in front of the cedar-sided mountain chalet house she once lived in. She takes a long gaze at it, just like her old Dad had done.

She looks at Chelsea, tempted to wake her, but decides to not disturb her at this bittersweet moment.

LATER

They pull up in front of the Carpenters’ house.

Rebecca nudges her sister awake.

       REBECCA
Chelsea… we’re here.

Chelsea grumbles a bit.

       REBECCA (CONT’D)
You need to get your stuff.

       CHELSEA
I know. I will. I’m just so tired.

EXT. CARPENTERS’ HOUSE – PEWEE VALLEY, KY – CONTINUOUS

As Rebecca exits the car, Mitch bounds out the front door to greet them.

       MITCH
You’re here!

Rebecca grabs her bag from the trunk as Mitch hugs her — one of those “I haven’t seen you in weeks” hugs.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
How was the drive over?

       REBECCA
Boring. She slept the whole way.

       MITCH
That’s okay… you did a good job.

       REBECCA
Thanks.

Rebecca proceeds into the house.

Mitch opens the passenger door. Chelsea is still asleep. He squats down, gently touches her arm.

       MITCH
Hey Jack-rabbit.

She opens her eyes and yawns.

       CHELSEA
Hey Flapjacks.

       MITCH
It’s so great to see your pretty face.

Chelsea smiles.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
I hope you’re hungry. I think Ann got an ostrich by mistake.

       CHELSEA
That’s bad, Daddy.

       MITCH
Come on… you have to get out so I can get some hugs. Got a lot of catching up to do.

She rustles out of the car.

CUE MUSIC: Imagine Dragons: Every Night

       IMAGINE DRAGONS
I’m coming home to you.
Every night, every night, every night, every night.

INT. CARPENTERS’ HOUSE – NIGHT

The music continues over…

IN THE DINING ROOM:

Friends and family sit gathered around the large dining table, which is a collage of several tables stuck together to handle such a big group.

       IMAGINE DRAGONS
I’m the colorless sunrise
That’s never good enough
I’m the wind that’s in your head
It ruffles you up
You could find the reason
You could let me know
I won’t blame you
I’ll just turn and go

Ann and her husband MARK, Ann’s sister DEBRA and her boyfriend JACK sit with Mitch. All the teenagers: Rebecca and Chelsea, Ann’s daughters FRANCINE and DAPHNE, and Debra’s three kids hang out at the other end of the table.

Surrounded by plenty of laughter and free-flowing conversation, the adults catch up on the goings-on of life while the youngsters compare social-media feeds and relate them to their growing experiences.

LATER

The big plates have been cleared. A few empty dessert plates linger amidst a few empty wine GLASSES. The crew sits at the table playing CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY.

One of the girls reads an obnoxious response card, blushes beet-red, and the whole table erupts in laughter.

       IMAGINE DRAGONS (CONT’D)
I’m coming home to you
Every night, every night, every night, every night
Coming home to you
Every night, every night, every night, every night
My mind is made up
My feelings changed and
I’m coming home to you
Every night, every night, every night, every night

LATER

IN THE GAME ROOM:

The party has moved to the Carpenters’ front room, where Mitch and Rebecca play a game of pool. Mark and Ann play a game of DARTS.

Rebecca takes a shot at the pool table, which initially misses, but another random ball goes in. She looks at her Dad and smiles. He shakes his head, smiling, and she continues on to take another shot.

Chelsea, Francine, and Daphne bounce into the room, giggling like the teenage girls they are, and approach Ann, asking some question.

While Ann explains the details to Francine, Chelsea turns to look at Mitch, flashing a comfortable, happy smile.

       IMAGINE DRAGONS (CONT’D)
Search to find myself
And all I find is you
I could hardly stand myself
So what am I to you?
You could find a reason
You could let me know
I won’t blame you
I just didn’t go

With his family and friends gathered here, Mitch soaks in the love that permeates the room.

The music fades.

INT. GUEST ROOM – CARPENTER HOUSE – NIGHT

Mitch looks in on his daughters. Rebecca is curled into the bed under the blankets and sleeping soundly.

Chelsea, wearing her pajamas, sits at a desk, with a TEXTBOOK and NOTEBOOK open in front of her. A small LAMP gives her just enough light.

       MITCH
Hey… what are you doing?

       CHELSEA
I have so much homework.

       MITCH
Ugh… over Thanksgiving?

       CHELSEA
They don’t care about that.

       MITCH
That’s a drag. But I understand.

He leans down and gives her a kiss on her forehead.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
I’ll let you get back to it. Don’t be up too late, okay?

       CHELSEA
Tonight was fun.

       MITCH
Yeah.

       CHELSEA
It was like the old days.

       MITCH
I know.

       CHELSEA
Do you miss it?

       MITCH
Of course I do. But things change.  They changed a lot, even before the “old days”.

       CHELSEA
You mean… the older days.

       MITCH
Right.

       CHELSEA
Like, ancient old days.

       MITCH
Okay.

       CHELSEA
Before you cut your hair and grew a beard?

       MITCH
Hey… don’t push it.

       CHELSEA
Do you miss those days?

       MITCH
I miss watching a few minutes of TV with you before taking you to school in the morning. I miss doing laundry and having these tiny shirts and shorts and socks to fold. And I miss the hell out of tucking you in every night, and singing you songs, and telling you
“bear stories”. But I missed all those things for so long. Maybe now I just miss how much I used to miss them.

She closes her textbook and notebook.

       CHELSEA
Will you tell me a bear story now?

       MITCH
Sure… I think I can muster one up.

She climbs into bed. Mitch sits on the side next to her.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Once upon a time, there was a bear named… Earl.

       CHELSEA
Earl.

       MITCH
Yeah. And Earl was a cab driver in New Bear City, and he drove the other bears around the city, all day. All kinds of bears… polar bears, grizzly bears, brown bears, black bears… Teddy bears, gummy bears

She laughs a little.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Then one day, this young lady bear got into his cab, and her name was… Wilma.

       CHELSEA
Wilma? Really?

       MITCH
Yeah… I’m going with that. Well, Wilma was from the country and was visiting some family for Christmas.

       CHELSEA
Uh-huh.

       MITCH
She wanted to see all the city had to offer, all the Christmas decorations, so she asked Earl to give her a tour. They started at Rocka-Bear Center, and she went skating under the big tree, and the EmBear State Building, all lit up, and …

As Mitch continues to improvise the story, the music returns.

       IMAGINE DRAGONS
I’m coming home to you
Every night, every night, every night, every night
Coming home to you
Every night, every night, every night, every night

CROSS FADE:

EXT. LOUISVILLE AIRPORT – DEPARTURE DROP OFF – DAY

Mitch grabs his LUGGAGE from the back of Rebecca’s car.  Rebecca and Chelsea stand outside the car.

       MITCH
Twenty-six more days. I’m already counting them.

       CHELSEA
I’m so excited.

       REBECCA
I’ll be excited once I get through finals.

       MITCH
It’ll fly by. And then you’ll fly up, and we’ll be reunited at a different airport.

       CHELSEA
Newark.

       MITCH
Lovely Newark.

       REBECCA
Will we cab in from there?

       MITCH
Maybe. I’ll look at the train options.

       REBECCA
You know, Uber’s a lot cheaper.

       MITCH
I like ’em yellow… Old school.

       REBECCA
Like the short bus you rode as a kid.

       MITCH
Funny. You know, you used to be such a lovely child.

       REBECCA
Now I’m a lovely adult.

       MITCH
Yes, you are. You both are.

       CHELSEA
I don’t want to be an adult just yet.

       MITCH
I know, sweetie. You can be a kid all you want when you’re in New York.

He hugs them… now it’s the “I won’t see you for weeks” hug… hard to tell the difference.

EXT. LAGUARDIA AIRPORT – TAXI STAND – NIGHT

Mitch waits in the long line for a cab. MALIK, one of the taxi-stand attendants walks up and down the line, working to get folks on their way as quickly as possible.

       MALIK
Where to?

       MITCH
Upper West Side.

       MALIK
I got someone else for that up the line. You want to share? Split the fare?

       MITCH
Sure.

INT. NYC TAXI – MOVING – NIGHT

Mitch rides in the back with NANCY, 50s.

       NANCY
Were you visiting family for Thanksgiving?

       MITCH
Yeah. My daughters.

       NANCY
That has to be tough.

       MITCH
Tough to leave ’em. Time’s always way too short.

       NANCY
I’ll bet.

       MITCH
How about you?

       NANCY
Yeah, no kids, though. Just my brothers and their families. And it was NOT tough to leave them.  They live in their insulated world.  Never got out of Central Illinois.  Same jobs. Same Friday-night fish dinners. The same stories.

       MITCH
Yeah. That could the secret to happiness, though.

       NANCY
What? Boredom?

       MITCH
No. Knowing where you belong.

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT

Mitch enters, dumps his BACKPACK on the couch along with a STACK OF MAIL.

He wheels his rolling LUGGAGE into his bedroom.

He returns to the couch, starts unpacking the backpack. He pulls out a small BOX of MAKER’S MARK BOURBON BALLS, plopping them down on the coffee table in front of the couch.

His cell phone dings from an incoming text message.

INSERT: CELL PHONE, with a text message from “Mom”

       MOM (VIA TEXT)
Did you make it back?

He types his response.

       MITCH (VIA TEXT)
Yep… I’m back home.

He looks at the box of bourbon balls, thinks about it for a second, then grabs them and opens the box.

He pops one of them in his mouth. As he chews, his expression shows just how delicious the damn things are.

His cell phone dings again from his Mom’s latest message.

       MOM (VIA TEXT)
HOME? Not a word you use often.

He types one more message.

       MITCH
Gotta start somewhere.

And our Imagine Dragons song returns:

       IMAGINE DRAGONS
No matter, no matter
No matter what we’re facing
It don’t matter, it don’t matter
‘Cause the reason that I’m here
Is the same through all these years
Not changing, not changing anything at all

I’m coming home to you (I’m coming home)
Every night, every night, every night, every night
Coming home to you (I’m coming home)
Every night, every night, every night, every night

END OF SCENE

 

132rosswoodsface

 

Chapter 2, Scene 4: Molly

INT. MUSIC CLUB – WILLIAMSBURG/BROOKLYN – NIGHT

A gritty, industrial atmosphere with concrete floors, infrequent lighting, and a musty smell that has lingered for at least 100 years.

A crowd of about 100 people stands in front of a short stage, enjoying, or perhaps enduring, the loud, discorded, techno-funk-alternative-rock music blasting from VILLE NOIR, a local NYC group.

A tall, thin woman in her late 30s, with long black hair streaked with flashes of silver, leans on a microphone stand while singing a mixture of words and hauntingly deep ‘oooohhhs’ and ‘aahhhs’. Her metallic-flaked pants and jacket, slightly too big for her frame, complement the fedora hat drawn down low on her forehead.

The rest of the band rounds out an eclectic mix of styles, from the grunge-honoring lead guitarist to the hair-band leftover on bass to the nerdy-looking black kid working two laptop computers and a keyboard. The drummer is a spot-on double for Dennis the Menace at 30 years old.

The concert-goers represent a cross section of this hip, artistically-inspired section of Brooklyn. Most are in their 20s or 30s, ethnically diverse, and slightly on the better side of the privilege curve.

We pan over these music fans with their subtle shoulder and head movements, grooving to the musical vibe, to find Mitch, sitting on a tall BARSTOOL in the corner, leaning back on the walls.

The WAITRESS drops off a MIXED DRINK. Mitch gives her the empty GLASS from the previous one.

A small group to his right decides to move on to their next spot. That clears a big spot on the floor along with two barstools next to Mitch.

An older couple, 60s, notices the empty stools and moves to the corner. The husband puts his drink on the small wall shelf next to Mitch’s. They both politely smile at Mitch and say Hi. Mitch returns the greeting.

The three of them together stand out from the rest of the crowd, but it doesn’t appear to matter to any of them.

LATER

The band takes a break. A good portion of the audience heads outside for a smoke, others line up at the bathrooms on the other side of the room.

The lead singer makes her way to the old-folks corner and embraces the older couple — obviously her parents.

She and Mitch make eye contact, more than just a quick glance. Then she returns to the conversation with her folks.

Before she goes back to the stage, she turns her attention back to Mitch.

       LEAD SINGER
I hope you’re enjoying the show.

       MITCH
It makes me all warm and happy on the inside.

She laughs and moves back to the stage.

The OLDER HUSBAND looks at Mitch, not sure how he should take Mitch’s comment.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
I’m serious… they’re great.

       HUSBAND
Sixteen years of classical piano lessons, and eighty thousand dollars at Cornell… That’s what it’ll buy you.

       WIFE
Felix!

       FELIX
What?

       WIFE
Stop saying that.

       MITCH
Look at it this way, Felix. She could have ended up much worse… as an investment banker or political consultant, or…

       WIFE
Or an attorney.

She points to Felix and laughs.

       FELIX
Public defender.

Felix laughs as well, a good sport about it all.

Mitch extends his hand, Felix does the same, and they shake hands.

LATER

The band strikes it’s final chord of the night, met with plenty of grateful applause from the audience.

Mitch begins to put on his COAT. Felix turns to him, says something we can’t hear and points to something outside.

INT. 24-HOUR DINER – WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN – NIGHT

Mitch, Felix, and his wife, MARGO, sit in a booth chatting up the night.

       MARGO
And she wouldn’t learn to drive — still doesn’t know how, at thirty-six years old.

       FELIX
What teenager doesn’t want to drive?

       MARGO
So we drove three hours from Albany to Ithaca to pick her up every weekend. Through ice and snow a few times.

       FELIX
What are you going to do?

       MITCH
You do what you have to do, am I right?

       FELIX
You’ll find that out, too. Right?  Two daughters?

The waitress brings a fresh pot of coffee around. Margo slides her cup out, the international sign of ‘yes, please’.

       MITCH
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m right there with you.

The waitress then gestures to Mitch.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
No thanks. If I have caffeine right now, I won’t sleep for days.

The lead singer, YVONNE, enters the diner and approaches the
booth.

       FELIX
Hey, there she is.

       YVONNE
Sorry it took so long. We didn’t have any help.

       FELIX
You going to sit with us for a minute?

       YVONNE
No… I’m sorry, the producer’s throwing an after-party. Part of the deal.

She looks at Mitch.

       MITCH
Hi, I’m Mitch.

       YVONNE
Yeah. Mr. Warm and Happy.

       MITCH
Right.

       MARGO
He just moved to New York. He’s a filmmaker.

       YVONNE
Is that right?

       MITCH
I’ve done one short. It’s not much, just something I thought your folks would like.

       YVONNE
So you’re artsy, is that what you’re saying?

       MITCH
Artsy. Fartsy. Take your pick.

       YVONNE
You should come to the after party.

Mitch holds eye contact with her for a few beats, calculating the pros and cons of her invitation.

Finally…

       MITCH
Sure… yeah… where is it?

       YVONNE
Just come with. I’ll show you.

Mitch grabs his coat and starts getting out of the booth.

Felix’s “dad instincts” kick in. He stares down Mitch with a bit of a scowl.

       MITCH
Uh – oh. I know that look.

       FELIX
What?

       MARGO
Oh, for Pete’s sake. You guys go have fun.

       FELIX
(to Yvonne)
You’re coming by the hotel in the morning for breakfast, though.

       YVONNE
Yes, of course.

Felix looks back at Mitch.

       FELIX
Not you.

       MITCH
Felix, you’re a man after my own heart.

       YVONNE
Dad. Be cool.

       MARGO
Felix.

And with that, Yvonne and Mitch take off.

EXT. WILLIAMSBURG STREETS, BROOKLYN – NIGHT

Yvonne and Mitch walk along Bedford Avenue. The sidewalks are mostly empty, with only a few other stray walkers passing by.

       YVONNE
You’d think so.

       MITCH
What, no Daddy issues?

       YVONNE
Not even close. Mommy either.

       MITCH
So where does all the creative angst come from?

       YVONNE
Unresolved homosexual curiosity.

       MITCH
Of course.

She laughs as she takes out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

       YVONNE
It would make so much more sense to them if that were the case. Some explanation as to my unreasonable choice to live alone.

She offers Mitch a cigarette.

       MITCH
No thanks.

       YVONNE
Doesn’t mean I stay lonely.

She lights her own cigarette.

       YVONNE (CONT’D)
Don’t smoke?

       MITCH
Nope.

       YVONNE
Weed?

       MITCH
Nope.

       YVONNE
Never have or never will?

       MITCH
Never have.

       YVONNE
Before New York?

       MITCH
Before anything.

       YVONNE
Time for something new?

       MITCH
It’s one o’clock in the morning. I certainly don’t need anything that’s going to put me to sleep.

She leads him over to a doorway in front of a hair salon. She reaches into her purse and pulls out a small plastic bag containing a few pills.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Wait, I didn’t mean –

       YVONNE
It’s just a little Molly. Think of it as some Sudafed with plenty of love for everyone.

She takes two pills out of the bag.

       MITCH
Thanks for the offer, but it’s not really my thing.

       YVONNE
Mitch.

She puts one of the pills in her mouth.

       MITCH
I stay plenty busy abusing alcohol, I don’t need to –

And she boldly kisses him, grabbing him behind the neck with a passionate lock. He doesn’t resist.

After an extended time of this kiss, she finally breaks it off.

Mitch moves his jaw around. The pill has been shuttled to him during the kiss.

She smiles at him.

       YVONNE
You’re going to want that. Trust me.

He ponders it for a few more seconds.

She pops the other pill into her mouth.

He swallows.

       YVONNE (CONT’D)
Now we’ll see how warm and happy you get on the inside.

They resume walking on the street. She gives him a playful slap on the ass.

INT. LOFT APARTMENT – WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN – NIGHT

Mitch and Yvonne dance at a crowded party held in a large loft in this converted-warehouse-to-luxury-apartments building.

The music here is just as loud as the club, but more tribal, with a strong beat and a thumping, grinding, forceful energy.

Both of them move freely and energetically, with no reserve or inhibition. Mitch has shed his coat, and Yvonne has peeled off the suit jacket – only a tank-top undershirt keeps her from being topless.

Mitch’s POV: the lights dance in a psychedelic explosion of color and electric fun.

They keep dancing, moving to the driving beat:

… she grabs the sides of his waste and moves closer

… she spins around and backs up to him, her arm wrapping around the back of his neck.

… Mitch puts his hands high in the air, leans his head back

… both of them work up a good sweat

… she raises her chin up and kisses him.

EXT. LOFT APARTMENT – WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN – NIGHT

Mitch sits with a few people, mostly 30s and 40s, outside on the patio overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Yvonne talks with some fans nearby.

It’s nippy out there, and Mitch has his coat back on, but plenty of propane lamp-style heaters knock off the chill.

He’s locked in a conversation with one guy, dressed very hip and stylish – one of the music producers for the band.

Mitch’s mannerisms are all hyped up – his hands are overactive and he pumps his right foot, making his knee bounce up and down.

       MITCH
I’ve been thinking of pitching it as a pilot, right? – take the senior-citizen angle, set it in – um, one of those, those assisted living facilities, you know – not a nursing home, but for retired people who still function – and it hits family issues and, and um.. life challenges – but funny and dark – kind of like a Parenthood meets Golden Girls – but with some grit to it, you know… not just pancakes and syrup.

       MUSIC PRODUCER GUY
That could work, I think. Not much coming out to target that market.

The producer keeps looking around, not deeply into the topic.

       MITCH
Right… and don’t set it in Florida… I mean… Right? Put it here in Brooklyn or Queens.

       MUSIC PRODUCER GUY
This is where it’s at.

       MITCH
Who should I be talking to? You know, just an introduction… that would be freakin’ fantastic.

       MUSIC PRODUCER GUY
I don’t run in those circles.

       MITCH
Well if you’d like to read something –

       MUSIC PRODUCER GUY
I wouldn’t be the right person for that. Talk to Yvonne. She knows lots of people across the business.

Producer Guy gets up from his chair.

       MITCH
Yeah, yeah, yeah… right. Sure… hey congratulations on the new album.

       MUSIC PRODUCER GUY
Thanks. Glad you’re enjoying the party.

INT. LOFT APARTMENT – WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN – NIGHT

Mitch bounces back into the apartment. The music has switched to something more mellow and transcendent, back closer to the amorphous sounds of VILLE NOIR.

The crowd has thinned as well, and it’s starting to feel like the party might be winding down.

Mitch checks his phone: 2:55 am, but he’s still zinging along, nowhere near ready for sleep.

He wanders through the remaining crowd, looking for Yvonne.

He approaches the massive island in the open kitchen, finds a large, clean glass, fills it with water, and chugs it.

He resumes the search, moving toward the opposite side of the big open room to a narrow corridor which leads to some bedrooms.

As he passes the bathroom, the door opens and a DRUNK GIRL, 20s, stumbles out and nearly falls into Mitch. He catches her, getting a strong whiff of weed and whiskey on her breath.

       DRUNK GIRL
Oh, fuck!

       MITCH
I got you, I got you.

       DRUNK GIRL
Where’s Shawn?

       MITCH
I don’t know Shawn.

She tries to stabilize on her feet. Mitch still holds her arm. She pushes his hand away.

       DRUNK GIRL
Hey… no touching.

       MITCH
Fine. Fine.

She stumbles away, back toward the open part of the loft.

       DRUNK GIRL
Creepy perv.

       MITCH
Skank.

IN THE BATHROOM

Mitch steps into the bathroom and closes the door, moves in front of the toilet, and prepares to empty his bladder.

He stands there, at the ready, but nothing happens.

A KNOCK ON THE DOOR

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Hold on… I’ll be out in a sec.

And now the pressure really mounts – he needs to pee, but can’t.

After a few more beats, there’s another KNOCK ON THE DOOR.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Okay… Jesus.

He gives up, zips up, and turns to the sink. He quickly washes his hands and splashes some water on his face.

He puts his hand to his neck, checks his pulse, his heartbeat racing.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Shit.

BACK IN HALLWAY

Mitch walks back toward the loft. The music is muffled with the sound of Mitch’s heartbeat pounding in his ears.

He emerges from the hallway and looks around, agitated, trying to find some clue of Yvonne’s whereabouts.

He peers out the windows that border the patio. From there he can see Yvonne, out on the patio, kissing some younger guy, much hotter than Mitch.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Good grief.

And with that resolved, Mitch bolts out the front door.

EXT. WILLIAMSBURG STREETS, BROOKLYN – NIGHT

Mitch bounces down the sidewalk toward the subway entrance.

He puts his earbuds and tries to attach the cord to the jack on his phone. His hands are shaking so much he can’t get it in there.

He stops, closes his eyes, and takes a couple of big cleansing breaths. That centers him enough to attach the cord to the phone. He swipes through his song list, then finds one.

       MITCH
Ah… perfect.

CUE MUSIC: James Brown, I Got the Feelin’

And once again, he’s a bundle of energy gliding down the sidewalk.

       JAMES BROWN (SINGING)
I got the feelin’
Baby, Baby,
I got the feeling’

INT. SUBWAY STATION – 14TH STREET AND 7TH AVENUE – NIGHT

CONTINUE OVER MUSIC

       JAMES BROWN (SINGING)
You don’t know… what you do to me
People are heavy, down in misery

Mitch exits the L train onto the platform and climbs the steps, two or three at a time toward the waiting area for the #2 train.

He continues to move to the music and begins singing and dancing.

       MITCH AND JAMES BROWN (SINGING)
Hey, yeah, alright
Hey, hey, good lord

He punctuates the funky syncopated rhythm of the song with sharp shoulder, head, and hip movement.

The handful of other travelers give him a wide berth, but are content just to watch the show.

He moves like a man possessed, athletic, confident.

       MITCH AND JAMES BROWN (SINGING)
(CONT’D)
I got the feeling, alright
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby

The dancing and singing continues. At one point, he slides near the edge of the platform, getting a little too close to falling down onto the tracks. He doesn’t let it affect his moves.

       MITCH AND JAMES BROWN (SINGING)
(CONT’D)
I got the feeling, baby
Baby, sometimes I’m up
Sometimes I’m down
My heart, I’m around the town
I’m level with the ground, baby
I said level with the ground
Well, baby, you treat me bad

A few more bystanders have gathered, all absorbing the unexpected display of energy from this poor fool.

       MITCH AND JAMES BROWN (SINGING)
(CONT’D)
No, no, I know no, you don’t mean it now
Sometimes, I roam
But I’ll be coming back home
Sometimes, I seem to be fly
I just don’t know when to say bye bye

Finally, the song comes to an end. Mitch tones it down from his animated dance to merely some nervous hand and shoulder movement.

After waiting for a short while more, he looks down the tracks to see if a train might be approaching. Then he looks at the subway map and decides he’ll just walk home from there.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE – NIGHT

Mitch strolls through the middle of Times Square with the giant screens blazing. It’s just after 4:30 am, and the activity there buzzes along as if it were 8 pm.

He doesn’t break stride, but makes it a point to offer greetings to everyone he passes.

       MITCH
Hey… how you doin?

What’s up, dude?

How are you?

Good to see you, my friend.

I like that hat, my dear!

And just as he crosses 47th street, still zipping north on Broadway, he stops and turns back to the glitz of Times Square. He thrusts his arms into the air.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Thank you, New York! You’ve been great!!!

EXT. RIVERSIDE DRIVE – NIGHT

Daylight silently creeps into the eastern sky.

As Mitch treks north, he glimpses the hint of the coming sunrise through the apartment buildings that run along 91st, 92nd, and 93rd streets.

He stops on the corner of 95th, across from his apartment building, to wait for some cars to pass.

While he waits, he feels his breathing slow, his hands calm down, and he yawns, the widest and longest yawn of his life.

One last glance up 95th, to the east, above the horizon at Amsterdam, with the golden edge of the sun, pushing into a new day.

And then it hits him. An urge… nature’s unmistakable calling.

He dashes across the street and into the entrance to his building.

INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE MITCH’S APARTMENT – CONTINUOUS

Mitch steps back and forth from one foot to another as he juggles his keys, finally finding the one he needs, and opens the door.

INT. ENTRANCE – MITCH’S APARTMENT – CONTINUOUS

He bursts through the front door and lunges into his bathroom.

We hold on a shot of the entrance.

We hear the sounds of Mitch wrestling with his belt and pants, and then finally a firm and steady stream flowing into his toilet.

       MITCH
Ohhhh…. Thank you, New York… you’ve been great.

INT. BEDROOM – MITCH’S APARTMENT – CONTINUOUS

With the sound of the flushing toilet in the background, Mitch wearily steps into his bedroom, peels his coat off, and falls onto his bed.

END OF SCENE

 

molly

Chapter 2, Scene 3: The Bronx

INT. CORPORATE OFFICES – ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

60th FLOOR @ 30 ROCK. We see clean, modern offices lined around the exterior with large, open workspaces on the interior — not the typical image of crammed cubicles and drab lighting.

PAN SHOT TO: A pair of glass doors on the right, seeing through to an elevator bank in the center of the building.  Past the elevators is another set of glass doors that lead to a mirror image of offices on the other side of the building.

An elevator opens and Mitch steps out in his dress shirt and tie.

He looks to and fro, unsure which doors to enter, then walks to the opposite side from our camera.

He swipes his ID BADGE on a pad on the wall, but the doors won’t open.

He reverses toward our camera and tries the same at the nearer set of doors. Still no entry.

An attractive PROFESSIONAL WOMAN, early 40s, walks by and sees him standing on the other side of the glass doors. She looks at him with a curious expression.

He flashes his badge, and she opens the door. As she reaches for the door, Mitch steals a glance at her left hand.

INSERT SHOT: Her LEFT HAND with no ring on her third finger.

       PROFESSIONAL WOMAN
Are you looking for someone?

       MITCH
That’s an understatement.

       PROFESSIONAL WOMAN
Excuse me?

       MITCH
Sorry. Yes, Heather Erickson, in HR?

She points to a corner — opposite of the direction in which she was walking.

       PROFESSIONAL WOMAN
Back down there.

       MITCH
Thanks.

INT. HEATHER ERICKSON’S CUBICLE – DAY

HEATHER ERICKSON, mid 20s, searches through a BOX of company logo T-shirts while Mitch waits.

       HEATHER
Yeah, we’ve done several projects with them over the years. It’s a great organization, and they really make a difference.

       MITCH
And this is at a school?

She hands him a NEW BLUE T-SHIRT.

       HEATHER
Yeah, it’s an elementary school up in the Bronx. Most likely some painting projects, cleaning up, anything the school staff can’t get to during normal hours.

       MITCH
Sounds good.

       HEATHER
And if you can get a picture with some of the other volunteers, you know, definitely wearing your shirt, that would be great. Get some of the kids, too, if you can.

       MITCH
No problem.

       HEATHER
You sure? You’re taking your phone, right?

       MITCH
I was planning on it.

       HEATHER
Right. I mean, it’s kind of important to get the picture, if you can take your phone.

       MITCH
Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure.

INT. BISTRO – UPPER WEST SIDE – NIGHT

Mitch sits with 5 friends in the front patio section of Cafe Tallulah — 71st and Columbus — for Happy Hour. The wide French doors stand open to a splendid autumn evening in NYC.

Mitch sits next to HELEN, 60, a warm and bubbly lady. EDGAR and SONYA, a married couple in their 50s sit across from them, and TAMI, an attractive Vietnamese woman in her early 40s sits at the end of the table to Mitch’s right.

       EDGAR
That was back in the late seventies, when the Village was sort-of under the radar or written off as too weird for normal people.

       SONYA
Now it’s expensive and “eccentric”.

       MITCH
I looked down there. Love that area, but anything even remotely close to my budget was the size of a phone booth, fourth or fifth floor walk-up, and no laundry in the building.

       HELEN
I said something about a phone booth recently, and one of the interns at work asked me, “What’s a phone booth?”

       SONYA
When Helen and I had our apartment down there, we were young party girls, hanging out at Studio 54 –

       HELEN
– I met Andy Warhol!

       SONYA
We had this other roommate, Arturo.

       HELEN
A true West Village Queen.

       SONYA
Only knew about twenty words in English.

       HELEN
He only spoke Italian because it
made him more exotic.

       EDGAR
Exotic was never his problem.

       SONYA
And then he got shot walking down
thirteenth street.

       EDGAR
I remember that.

       TAMI
Shot? And killed?

       SONYA
No… He came home and told us… “I’m-a walk-a down-a street. No do nuttin… Hear-a da gun-a go bang… down-a on da ground.”

       HELEN
And then he holds up his little black book… you know, the kind of phone book men carried in their back pocket in those days.

       EDGAR
Yeah, Arturo had several of them.

       SONYA
And it had a bullet stuck in it!

They all laugh.

       TAMI
That’s incredible.

       EDGAR
It gets more incredible every time they tell it.

       HELEN
You see, Mitch, you’re living in a
much safer city now.

       TAMI
Unless you live in the Bronx.

       MITCH
Actually, I’m going to the Bronx tomorrow morning to volunteer at a school.

       TAMI
What part?

       MITCH
I don’t remember exactly. I’ve never been up that far. I think it’s up around a hundred and seventy second street. Just off the six train.

       TAMI
Oh, you’re fucked.

       MITCH
Really?

       EDGAR
You’re probably fine.

       SONYA
Are you going by yourself?

       MITCH
Yeah, to get there, but it’s a big group project with some non-profit.

       HELEN
What time are you going?

       MITCH
Probably eight. Get there by nine.

       TAMI
Don’t take your phone, or credit cards. And only enough cash to catch the train back.

       EDGAR
That’s a bit much.

       SONYA
Just be smart.

       HELEN
Oh, he’s smart.

       MITCH
It’s fine.

As much as he wants to seem unfazed by this warning, we can tell it has him thinking.

INT. LIVING ROOM – MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Mitch sits on his couch, watching a scene from the Netflix series The GetDown, set in the south Bronx in the late 70s.

The cold open sequence features a current famous hip-hop star, rapping about his experience back then.

       MR. BOOKS
I came from the city… The most dangerous city… maximum crime… the Bronx … writers on the rubble while buildings around us would crumble… nothing would find me but trouble.

OVER THE RAP: Scenes of burning buildings and city blocks where other buildings are already decimated… gang violence… public housing projects… graffiti-clad trains.

It’s not the reassuring image Mitch needs at this moment.

INT. BEDROOM – MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Mitch lies awake, his frontal cortex zinging. He checks the clock on the bedside table.

INSERT: Digital clock, displaying 2:12

He gets out of bed.

INT. LIVING ROOM – MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Mitch sits at a small table being used as a desk, typing at his laptop. We see THE SCREEN, with an email he’s composing to Heather Erickson.

He types: “Heather, I hate to cancel, but I’ve come down with a bug.”

He stops and deletes that, begins typing again: “Heather, I just heard from my family back in Kentucky and I need to leave tomorrow for an emergency.”

Once again, he stops. Shakes his head. He stares longer at the screen. He glances to a side shelf where several framed photos sit. He looks at pictures of Rebecca and Chelsea, and then focus on his picture of Ron Smith.

       MITCH
This would be a good time for you to clue me in.

He waits for a bit, lets out a big sigh, then closes his laptop and turns off the desk lamp.

INT. BEDROOM – MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

Just after sunrise and Mitch is still awake in bed, agitated and frustrated, both from his ambivalence over going to the Bronx and the lack of sleep.

He throws the covers off, and jumps out of bed.

       MITCH
Fuck it, I’m going.

LATER

Mitch dresses in his shabbiest WORKSHOP CLOTHES, covered in paint stains, some few holes, etc. He slips on some old TENNIS SHOES that have plenty of grass stains from mowing his former yard.

He grabs the company T-SHIRT and stuffs it into the pocket of his plaid FLANNEL COAT.

IN THE LIVING ROOM:

He’s ready to walk out the door and starts to grab his IPHONE 6S+ and EAR BUDS. He looks at the phone again, then puts it back down on the shelf near the front door.

He goes back into…

THE BEDROOM:

He filters through a jar of loose CHANGE, and grabs a handful of quarters, and returns to the…

LIVING ROOM:

Once again, he ponders taking the phone. He takes his ID out of the phone case and puts it in his front pants pocket along with the change.

The phone and ear buds sit on the shelf as Mitch is out the door.

CUE MUSIC: GRANDMASTER FLASH & THE FURIOUS FIVE, The Message.

EXT. NUMBER 6 TRAIN – SUBWAY ENTRANCE – DAY

CONTINUE OVER MUSIC: It’s a chilly, rain-soaked morning. Mitch, with the hood of his coat up, shrouding his face, approaches the entrance and descends the steps.

INT. NUMBER 6 TRAIN – SUBWAY STATION – DAY

Mitch rounds the corner and heads toward the turnstiles.  When he gets there, he realizes he doesn’t have his normal MetroCard.

He goes back to the ticket machine, feeds it with ten QUARTERS, and gets a ONE-TIME CARD.

LATER – ON THE PLATFORM

He looks for the SIGN for the Bronx-bound train. He follows that to the platform where a few dozen other people wait for the same train.

Mitch is the only Caucasian among them.

He keeps his hands in his coat pocket and his eyes forward, focused on the empty train tracks.

       GRANDMASTER FLASH (SINGING)
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
how I keep from goin’ under.

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
how I keep from goin’ under.

INT. NUMBER 6 TRAIN – MOVING – DAY

Mitch sits at one end of the car as the train pulls into the 125th street station, its final stop in Harlem before heading north into the Bronx.

A bigger crowd of mostly black and Latino people board the train, filling it to near capacity.

No one in the docile crowd gives Mitch a second thought.  Most are on their way to work or returning from night shifts.

Nevertheless, Mitch maintains high awareness.

       GRANDMASTER FLASH (SINGING)
Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
‘Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car.

The train CREAKS and sways side-to-side and descends deeper underground as it prepares to pass under the Harlem River.

It eventually levels out and begins to climb, and soon ascends from the underground tunnel and begins traversing an elevated track, passing above the streets of the Bronx.

Mitch gazes out the window at remnants of some graffiti covered buildings. The scene is certainly not clean and modern, but the surroundings are not as desolate as the war zone-like images he had prepared for.

EXT. ST. LAWRENCE AVENUE TRAIN STATION – DAY

Mitch exits the train to the elevated platform and makes his way down the stairs to the street level.

The rain has given way to a mist, but the cloudy skies still cast a gray, dismal feeling over the mostly empty streets.

Mitch pulls a PIECE OF PAPER from his pocket where he has sketched a map to guide him to the school.

He looks around to get his bearings and takes brisk steps to the north toward the school.

EXT. BRONX NEIGHBORHOOD – CONTINUOUS

Mitch passes a corner convenience store with thick, strong bars on the windows. Mitch glances through the door and exchanges a quick glance with an elderly black man behind the counter, reading a NEWSPAPER.

       GRANDMASTER FLASH (SINGING)
Don’t… push… me… cause…
I’m… close… to… the… edge.
I’m… trying… not… to…
lose… my… head

He walks along a bank of windows fronting a large LAUNDROMAT that extends much of the short block. About 20 people — men and women and a few kids deal with practical living.

A NYC TAXI DEPOT stands opposite the laundromat. A cab pulls out of the depot, beginning its shift.

Mitch continues, then turns a corner and sees the front facade of the school at the end of the block. He stops.

At short set of concrete steps leads to the school’s bank of 4 large windowless steel doors.

A tall iron fence, with tight vertical bars runs in both directions away from the entrance. Matching bars cover the tall, slender windows that extend the length of the first floor.

Other than the heading over the door “P.S. 47 – John Randolph”, it could easily be mistaken for a prison.

Mitch surveys the scene around him, expecting to see a sign or other proof the non-profit group is working there today.

He looks back from where he arrived, seeing the stairs that lead back up to the train platform.

He looks forward to the school. Still no activity, no lights in the windows, no indication of an organized project in the works.

He proceeds toward the school, sticking to the plan.

EXT. P.S. 47 – JOHN RANDOLPH SCHOOL – FRONT STEPS

Mitch climbs the steps to the front door. He tries to open one of the four doors, but it’s locked. All of them are locked.

He notices a security pad off to the side and presses the button.

He turns around to keep an eye on the street. He waits.

       GRANDMASTER FLASH (SINGING)
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
how I keep from goin’ under.

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
how I keep from goin’ under.

The damp, clammy air and the absence of any activity send a shiver through his bones. Maybe he has the wrong date, or time, or maybe this is not the right place.

After another few beats, he decides it might not be the best idea to stick around. He starts to take the first step when one of the doors opens.

APRIL LYONS, 35, cute, perky, strawberry blonde, greets him.

       APRIL
Hey, sorry to keep you waiting. We’re still setting up. I didn’t expect anyone this early.

An extremely-relieved Mitch smiles and shakes her hand.

       MITCH
Really, what time is it?

       APRIL
Oh, it’s not quite eight thirty.

       MITCH
I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get here.

       APRIL
First time?

He nods.

       APRIL (CONT’D)
Come on in.

She smiles and escorts him into the school.

INT. FOYER – P.S. 47 – JOHN RANDOLPH SCHOOL – DAY

Mitch enters to find a small team of coordinators busily setting up the REGISTRATION TABLE, getting their PROMOTIONAL ITEMS ready, and staging dozens of GALLONS OF PAINT in a kaleidoscope of colors.

The foyer is decorated in bright happy colors with positive images of diversity, inclusiveness, and hope.

He takes off his coat and places it behind the tables where others have stashed their coats as well.

KAJHE, 22, a young African woman, wearing a beautiful TRIBAL HEAD WRAP, organizes NAME TAGS on the registration table.

       KAJHE
May I help you find your name?

Mitch looks over the name tags and finds it, very professionally done, with his company’s logo on it.

       MITCH
That’s me.

       KAJHE
Terrific, Mitch, we’re so delighted
to have you.

       MITCH
I’m honored to be here.

He smiles at her. All is well.

INT. STORAGE ROOM – P.S. 47 – JOHN RANDOLPH – DAY

Mitch and several other younger men move some DESKS and CRATES OF BOOKS around to organize the room. A couple of younger women SWEEP and gather GARBAGE to throw away.

A MOUSE runs out from under a pile of debris.

One of the girls SHRIEKS.

Her friends all get a good laugh about it.

       MITCH
Don’t bother the pets, now.

INT. CAFETERIA – P.S. 47 – JOHN RANDOLPH – DAY

Mitch and at least 20 other college-age kids work together to paint a huge mural on an expansive wall in the cafeteria. It’s the largest paint-by-numbers project he’s ever seen, and he’s right in the thick of it.

The other volunteers, all millennials, are as diverse as New York City itself.

Mitch carries a cardboard SIX-PACK CARRIER holding plastic CUPS filled with a mix of paint colors. A few BRUSHES hang from his back pocket.

The group is lively and gregarious. Mitch tells them stories of growing up in rural KY, of his own college days, and takes every opportunity to work in some Dad jokes.

BROCK, 19, from the Philippines, stands next to Mitch painting his section. He smoothly moves his brush from his right hand to his left to reach a small section of the mural.

       MITCH
Look at this kid paint… I would give my right arm to be
ambidextrous like that.

They all laugh.

LATER

The team has just finished the mural. April passes through with a CAMERA.

       APRIL
Wow, that looks fantastic, guys! Everyone get together and let’s get a picture.

They gather in front of the mural. Mitch dashes out of the room toward the foyer.

       MITCH
One second.

INT. FOYER – P.S. 47 – JOHN RANDOLPH – CONTINUOUS

Mitch zips into the foyer and finds his coat. He grabs the corporate T-shirt, looks at it for a thoughtful second, then stuffs it back into the coat pocket.

INT. CAFETERIA – P.S. 47 – JOHN RANDOLPH – CONTINUOUS

Mitch rejoins the group. They open a spot right in the center for him. He slides in, and with smiles all around, the photo is snapped.

INT. NUMBER 6 TRAIN – MOVING – DAY

Mitch heads back home, sitting on a side seat. He takes in more views of the Bronx neighborhood from the elevated track.

The train is once again filled with people of color, and like before, they simply ride along in silence. But Mitch is more relaxed, in fact, his eyelids fall slowly in a drowsy attempt to stay awake.

The train makes a stop in south Bronx, with a steady exchange of riders. Mitch is nearly asleep and doesn’t notice who gets on or off. He feels someone sit next to him — someone a little on the heavy side who encroaches into his space.

       RON’S VOICE (O.S.)
Well, that was rather heartwarming.

Mitch wakes up briskly to find Ron Smith sitting next to him.

       MITCH
Ron, you gotta stop popping in like that. Scares the shit out of me.

       RON
You know I don’t control any of that.

       MITCH
Right.

       RON
What you did was downright honorable.

       MITCH
What I did was almost chicken out.

       RON
You think those school kids will see that mural and wonder if it “almost” didn’t get painted?

       MITCH
It was ridiculous… letting all that get to me.

       RON
Don’t be so hard on yourself.

       MITCH
But I did, Ron. I looked at these people differently, all because of someone else’s fear.

       RON
You didn’t know what to expect.

       MITCH
Bullshit. I did know. I knew it was what I was supposed to do — to show up as myself and simply do some work. Not because I have some connection to them. I don’t. Not because it makes me a better white guy. It doesn’t. I don’t know these folks. I don’t know their life. I respect that this is the life they’re destined to live, just like I’m destined to live mine. I got caught up in the hype around it… all the layers of expectations and false reality. I knew better than to pretend to be familiar, with these stupid raggedy clothes trying to look like I fit in. God, what an asshole I am. Stupid, foolish, white asshole.

They ride along in silence for a few beats.

       RON
I’ll tell you a secret. In about ten years, one of those kids that you worked with today – one of the black ones – is going to become a nurse and will be transferred to hospital in Macon, Georgia. And he’s going to be in a tough situation. Things are going to get much tougher in this country for black people — I can’t tell you why, but you’ll see that soon enough. He’s going to be on trauma duty late at night, a night where a protest gets violent, really violent, and plenty of injured people will be brought to his emergency room. It’ll be a tense moment with the other doctors and nurses, most of whom are white.

Mitch turns to face Ron so he can watch and listen better.

       RON (CONT’D)
And in the midst of all that, that young kid will remember you, and how gracious you were, and when one of the doctors has to reach across in an awkward way with his left hand, this kid’s going to tell that same joke you told about giving your right arm, and it will make one of his white coworkers laugh, and that will open the door for them to become friends, and it will make all the difference in both of their lives.

As Mitch listens to this, tears well up in his eyes. He checks to see if anyone else is watching, but all the other riders keep to themselves.

       RON (CONT’D)
You don’t have to know them to love them.

INT. LIVING ROOM – MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

Mitch sits at his desk, typing on his LAPTOP.

A DING signals the arrival of a new email message.

Mitch opens his inbox and sees a message from april.lyons@nycares.com. It thanks him for his participation and invites him to sign up for their newsletter.

Attached to the email is one of the photos taken with the group.

Mitch opens the photo.

INSERT SHOT: PHOTO OF THE GROUP.

CU SHOT: Zoom on Mitch and a young black kid standing next to him.

Mitch looks closely at the picture. He leans back in his chair, lets out a long exhale, and brings up the smallest of smiles.

END OF SCENE

 

ps-47

Chapter 2, Scene 2: Cook Along With Mitch

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

A straight-on angle to Mitch’s tiny kitchen from the living room.

CUE MUSIC: The opening theme to the Sing Along With Mitch show from the 1960s.

Mitch faces the camera, standing behind a four-burner stove set atop a cabinet sticking out from the wall, acting as a small kitchen island. Behind him, we see a few cabinets, a small refrigerator, and a microwave inset to one of the cabinets.

A graphic appears on the screen: “Cook-Along with Mitch” in a colorful, happy font.

An obviously-fake applause track signals the end of the intro music.

Mitch wears a chef’s coat, speaking directly into the camera.

       MITCH
Welcome back to the show. Today we’re showcasing the diversity of New York markets with some tasty dishes, all based on locally-sourced ingredients.

He catches himself.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
And when I say “locally sourced” I mean stuff I’ve picked up here at the many stores on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

He grabs a stainless steel bowl and holds it at angle so we see some ground meat that’s been browned.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
We have our ground meat mixture that we browned up earlier in the show with some oregano and rosemary. It’s mostly beef, but with some turkey and some Italian sausage. That’s good protein to make this really hearty.

He sets the bowl down on the counter behind him.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Of course, that came from the Fairway down on seventy-fifth at Broadway. Very popular, and if you go on Saturday, you can count on it being packed.

FLASHBACK:

INT. FAIRWAY GROCERY STORE – DAY

Mitch stands in line along with at least twenty other people lined around the butcher station. The place is replete with meat. He holds a grocery basket in one hand and a paper number ticket in the other.

INSERT: CU SHOT OF TICKET, with number ’81’.

From O.S., we hear the butcher call the next number.

       BUTCHER (O.S.)
Fifty-two.

Mitch shifts his weight from one foot to the other… patience.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

       MITCH
And we have our spaghetti squash roasting in the oven down here. That’ll give us a bit of a starchy feeling, but still keeping in Paleo and gluten-free! That came from the Whole Foods, much closer, over on Columbus at ninety-seventh.

FLASHBACK:

INT. WHOLE FOODS GROCERY STORE – DAY

Mitch stops at the display of various gourds, squashes, pumpkins, etc, looking at the spaghetti squash.

INSERT: CU SHOT OF Price Sign ‘Organic Spaghetti Squash: $4.29 / lb.’

Mitch looks at the next sign:

INSERT: CU SHOT OF Price Sign ‘Conventional Spaghetti Squash: $1.89 / lb.’

He shakes his head in mild disbelief and takes 2 of the conventional squash.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

He grabs a large platter with a variety of vegetables:  green, red, and yellow peppers, zucchini, mushrooms.

       MITCH
And we have our veggies for our primavera sauce.

He sets that down.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
These came from the WestSide Market up here on Broadway at ninety-eighth.

An AMBULANCE SIREN howls as it passes Mitch’s apartment outside, much louder than we might expect, blaring through an open window in Mitch’s kitchen.

Mitch waits for it to pass, looking at the camera with a slightly embarrassed and wry smile.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
So.. WestSide is a comprehensive market, with lots of top-quality stuff. Pretty gourmet, actually. But to be clear, that’s the only time you’ll hear me say the word ‘gourmet’.

Although I just said it again.

He resets.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
It’s the creme of the crop, I think. Nothing against Whole Foods, but they’re from Austin, Texas. Come on. This is a New York cooking show, right?

FLASHBACK:

INT. WESTSIDE MARKET – NIGHT

Mitch stands before a heaping wall of fresh produce, checking out the bell peppers. A cornucopia of produce is stacked high on the wall. Leeks, radishes, exotic lettuces and herbs complement the standard cucumbers, carrots and cauliflower.  The grocer has crowded as much as he can into a small space.

A WIDER SHOT shows just how cramped the store is. Several other shoppers carry plastic grocery baskets as they maneuver through the stuffed aisle.

An OLDER JEWISH LADY pushes a small grocery cart. She runs it into the back of Mitch’s legs. He turns to see her.

       MITCH
Oh, excuse me.

She pays him no attention and steps on down the aisle.

Mitch takes one of each color of bell pepper, places them in his basket, and moves on.

LATER

Mitch stands in a long line of customers which extends down the beer and prepared foods aisle. At the end of the aisle, we see the small check-out stations. Ten of these tiny booths are crammed along both walls along the narrow exit.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

       MITCH
So, yeah, the Westside market is definitely one of New York’s gems.

He sets the platter of veggies down on the counter, and then reaches down ….

       MITCH (CONT’D)
And of course, there’s Costco.

… to pick up a large bag of onions. And by large, we mean, crazy huge. He plops the bag down on the countertop, rattling everything else in the kitchen.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Some of you may surprised that a Costco even exists here in Manhattan. I mean, who has room for all that toilet paper?

INSERT: SHOT of Mitch trying to stuff a super-sized PACK OF TOILET PAPER into the upper section of his closet.

BACK TO KITCHEN:

       MITCH (CONT’D)
But they put one in Harlem. It’s a symbol of the New York attitude. No matter how big, we can cram it in. That’s the thing I love about this city… the belief that nothing is impossible.

He takes a moment of introspection, with a genuine look of hope and determination on his face.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Nothing is impossible.

After a couple of beats, he takes a couple of onions from the bag.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
In fact, watch this.

With the onions, he reaches for the platter of veggies, and turns his back to the camera. As he turns, we see him also grab a chef’s knife from a magnetic rack mounted to the wall.

Now with his back to the camera, we hear the obvious SOUND EFFECT OF RAPID CHOPPING.

Then via a very obvious cut in the video, the sound effect stops, and Mitch turns around to face the camera with all the vegetables chopped and sorted.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Presto!

He sets the platter back down on the counter.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Now, let’s get this going.

He side-steps toward the window and stands on a STOOL to reach a POT RACK mounted on the wall, high above the window.  He pulls down a medium-sized POT from the rack and steps off the stool, but something outside gets his attention.

He leans toward the window and speaks to someone outside.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Hey, I’ve already asked you not to smoke out there.

A male voice responds in a thick Indian/Pakistani accent.

       SMOKER GUY(O.S.)
It’s not bothering you.

       MITCH
The hell it’s not. Come on, man, we finally get a nice weekend to open up the windows, and you have to do that shit, right there?

       SMOKER GUY(O.S.)
Don’t sweat on me, man.

       MITCH
It’s “don’t sweat me”, okay, and I’m trying to cook in here, you know, with food, for humans.

The smoker starts jabbering in his native language.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Move it on down the street, will ya?

The babbling continues, but his voice diminishes in volume as he moves away from the window.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Thanks.

       SMOKER GUY(O.S.)
(from a distant)
Asshole.

Mitch turns back to the camera.

       MITCH
Sorry about that.

He puts the pot on the stove. He rakes the chopped onions off the platter into the pot, fires up the burner, and drizzles in some olive oil.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
We’ll sweat these onions for a while to soften them up.

He draws in the smell of the sizzling onions.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
These onions will be for the special complement to the entree dish. It’s a delicious recipe for some kale greens, with a special kicker — we’ll get to that in just a minute, but first we need to get the primavera sauce going.

He turns back to the pot rack, takes a large skillet off its hook, and puts it on the stove.

He rakes the rest of the chopped vegetables into the skillet, adds the meat, and pours in a liberal amount of olive oil.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Two final ingredients for this.

He reaches into the fridge and grabs a container of marinated sun-dried tomatoes and another container of fresh, peeled whole garlic cloves.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
These go right in there. ‘Cause, you know, it’s big and bold, full of aromatic flavor, just like this great city.

The entire mixture fills the skillet nearly to the rim and begins to simmer on the stove.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
The thing about this kale recipe, though… a dear friend tipped me off to it years ago, and I’ve probably made it a hundred times since then.

He reaches into the fridge and grabs a large bowl of kale greens, with the leaves already pulled from the stalks.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
It’s, um… always a big hit.

He looks at the stack of greens in the bowl.

FLASHBACK:

INT. MITCH’S KITCHEN AT HIS HOUSE IN KENTUCKY – DAY

4 YEARS AGO:

Mitch takes a bowl of kale greens from the fridge and sets it next to the stove.

We hear the FRONT DOOR open and close from the other room, and the voices of REBECCA, at age 14 and CHELSEA, at age 11.

       REBECCA (O.S.)
We’re here.

       CHELSEA (O.S.)
Daddy! Daddy!

       MITCH
In the kitchen!

The girls dash into the kitchen with their backpacks across their backs, carrying their weekend-bags full of clothes.

       CHELSEA
Are you making kale greens?

       MITCH
You know it.

       CHELSEA
Yes!! What else?

He hugs them, pulling them all together into a tight group.

       MITCH
Steaks are on the grill and potatoes in the oven.

Rebecca opens the oven door to check on a roasting pan full of red-skin potatoes, coated with rosemary and garlic.

       REBECCA
Dope.

       MITCH
Rebecca, honey, will you go flip the steaks, please?

       REBECCA
Sure.

She exits the kitchen toward the outside deck.

Chelsea steps to the stove and stands over the onions, drawing in the smell.

       CHELSEA
So good.

Mitch adds some water to the pot, turns up the heat and dumps the kale greens in there.

       CHELSEA (CONT’D)
How long ’till we eat?

       MITCH
Twelve minutes.

       CHELSEA
Is it ready for the secret sauce?

       MITCH
Yep.

She opens the fridge and grabs a bottle of Allegro Hickory Smoke Marinade.

       CHELSEA
Now?

       MITCH
Hit it.

She pours some of the marinade into the pot.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
That’s good.

       CHELSEA
This is my most favorite meal.

Mitch smiles at the joy shining from her face.

       MITCH
Yeah… me too.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

With everything prepared now, Mitch spoons some cooked kale greens onto a plate.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
So, just to recap, we have these smokey-good kale greens, our meaty primavera, …

He takes a good portion of the meat dish onto the plate.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
… And some spaghetti squash that I sauteed quickly with some butter and garlic.

He dollops a bit of the spaghetti squash onto the plate.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
And voila… here’s a healthy meal you can prepare for your family.

He positions the plate for optimal camera viewing and addresses the camera directly again. He flashes a camera ready smile.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
So, thanks for tuning in, and I look forward to cooking along with you again soon!

We hold on this for a bit, then we –

CUT TO:

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS

No longer doing the show, Mitch places his plate on the other side of the island in front of the bar stools.

CUE MUSIC: ERIC CLAPTON’s Hard Times.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING)
My mother told me,
‘Fore she passed away,
Said son when I’m gone,
Don’t forget to pray.
‘Cause there’ll be hard times.
Lord, those hard times.
Who knows better than I.

[action continues over music]

Mitch steps out from behind the stove into the living room, to a small antique cabinet, and opens a lower door, retrieving a bottle of wine. He pours a glass and sits on the bar stool.

After a long sigh, he picks up his fork to start eating.

But with the next breath in, he smells something he doesn’t like. His expression shows a frustrated “Not again”, and he shakes his head as he cranes his neck to look out the window.

Mitch starts to stand, ready to engage the Smoker Guy in another round of negotiation, but he takes a look at his plate, and takes a longer look at the heaping amount of food spread in front of him on the stove… well more than anyone would cook just for one person.

CUT TO:

EXT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

WIDE SHOT from across the street:

SMOKER GUY, 40s, of Indian/Pakistani heritage, clearly struggling to make it in America, stands under Mitch’s window, reading from a pamphlet of some sort, with a cigarette in his other hand.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING)
Well I soon found out
Just what she meant
When I had to pawn my clothes
Just to pay the rent.
Talkin’ ’bout hard times.
Lord those hard times.
Who knows better than I?

Mitch exits the building and approaches him.

We can’t hear the conversation, but from far away we see Mitch talking with his hands, and Smoker Guy shaking his head.

Mitch’s animated gestures mimic the cooking — chopping, stirring, etc., and pointing up and down the street.

Smoker guy waves the hand holding the cigarette and his head moves around as he replies.

The conversation is clearly a lively one.

Then Mitch is done. He simply puts his hands on his hips and waits to see what Smoker Guy will do.

Smoker Guy looks Mitch in the eye for a few beats… it appears to be a stand off.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING) (CONT’D)
I had a woman
Who was always around
But when I lost my money
She put me down.
Talkin’ ’bout hard times.
Lord, those hard…  
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I.

Finally, Smoker Guy drops the cigarette to the ground and steps on it.

Mitch nods in approval and motions with his right arm toward the front door of the building. Smoker Guy steps toward the direction Mitch points to and enters the building, with Mitch trailing behind.

CUT TO:

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

Mitch and Smoker Guy each sit on a bar stool at the kitchen island, each with a plate of food, each with a glass of wine.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING)
Lord, One of these days
There’ll be no more sorrow.
For when I pass away
And no more hard times.
No more hard…
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I.

Their conversation continues over the meal.

FADE OUT.

cookalongwithmitch

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2, Scene 1: Heat

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

We see the dark living room in the middle of the night.

We hear the steady sound of a LOUD WINDOW A/C UNIT.

The street lights manage to sneak some light in around the blinds covering the 2 small windows. We’re barely able to make out a COUCH, the PIANO, and a small TABLE being used as a makeshift desk in the corner where all of this used to be stacked to the ceiling.

From that same POV, we see a brighter light appear from off-camera, switched on from the bedroom. Then Mitch comes into view, wearing only his underwear. He makes a bee line to the window to check the A/C unit.

He bends down to look at the settings but can’t see them.

He steps to a small TABLE near the couch and turns on a LAMP.

Back at the A/C unit, he still can’t make out what it says.

He leaves the room. After a few beats, he returns into view with his READING GLASSES in hand.

With vision restored, he inspects the controls on the unit.

INSERT: CONTROL PANEL OF UNIT, SET ON 65 degrees.

But a closer shot shows moisture on Mitch’s brow.

He moves to the nearby kitchen, takes some ICE out of the freezer, and fills a GLASS with ice-water.

As he swirls the ice in the glass, he slides the BLINDS away from the window slightly and looks outside.

He watches a small group of younger Hispanic people, mostly 20s or early 30s, sitting on the steps across the street near the entrance to a walk-up apartment building. They pass JOINTS around with each other — simply escaping the heat and hanging out in a gentle manner.

He chugs the water and puts the glass in the sink.

Then he moves one end of the couch around so it sits directly in front of A/C, even if it’s not that cool.

He adjusts a few PILLOWS on the couch, then lies down, propping up his torso seeking relief and some sleep.

He settles into the repose, closing his eyes, feeling the air flow around his face.

After a few beats of this solitude, an AMBULANCE SIREN SCREAMS down the street outside, overwhelming the soothing sound of the A/C unit.

Mitch’s eyes open again from the distraction.

He leaves the couch, then returns with his CELLPHONE and EARBUDS. He nestles himself back into position, inserts the earbuds, and cues up some music.

CUE MUSIC: Landing Cliffs by Explosion in the Sky

The ethereal music lulls him back to sleep.

We linger on this placid moment:

… Mitch’s breathing slows gradually …

… His shoulders sink …

… Then his head falls to the side as gravity eventually convinces his muscles to give in.

CUT TO:

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

The alarm clock on Mitch’s phone gives him an explosion in his ear.

He jolts awake and jumps from the couch.

RAPID SHOTS OF

… Mitch pulling an electronic SHAVER across the reflection of his yawning face in his bathroom mirror.

… Shampooing in the shower

… Half-dressed in undershirt, underwear and socks, cooking BACON AND EGGS for breakfast

… FLOSSing his teeth.

… Choosing a dress SHIRT from his closet, the light blue one, to match his eyes.

… Grabbing his BACKPACK and KEYS from a small SHELF by the front door.

EXT. 95TH STREET – MANHATTAN – DAY

Despite the disrupted sleep, Mitch strides up the sidewalk with a chipper and energetic gait, dressed in SUIT and TIE, with the backpack slung across his shoulder.

He approaches a garbage truck stationed in the same spot where he recently slept overnight in the U-Haul truck.

Two GARBAGE MEN rapidly hoist garbage bags into the truck from a tall pile of bags, longer than a graduation speech, stacked on the sidewalk. In addition to the mountain of bags, we see discarded MATTRESSES, COUCHES and DRESSERS.

As Mitch passes the truck, the smell hits him. He recoils from the stench as it bounces off the hot city pavement.

EXT. STREET – SUBWAY STATION ENTRANCE – DAY

Mitch approaches the street-level entrance to the subway.  The wall of heat hits him as soon as he descends the steps.

INT. SUBWAY STATION – DAY

Mitch waits for the train amongst a crowd of commuters. A short woman, 50s, fans herself with a NEW YORK POST.

Mitch wipes the sweat from his forehead.

The woman drops the newspaper and we see the cover:

INSERT — COVER: THIRD HEAT WAVE — LAST ONE?

Mitch picks up the paper and hands it to her.

       SUBWAY WOMAN
Thanks.

       MITCH
Sure, sure.

He offers her a polite smile. She returns it halfway… Half-grateful and half-guarded against creeps on the subway.

He checks his phone:

INSERT SHOT OF PHONE: 7:55 a.m.

The train approaches the station. The lead car zips past Mitch and his fellow travelers passing only a couple of feet from where they stand. The blowback air blasts their hair and clothing away as the train nears its stopping point.

The crowd on the train prepares to exit. Mitch stakes out the best spot to get on the train.

The train riders depart. The vacuum left behind is quickly filled, with Mitch included. His reward includes the much cooler air on the train from it’s onboard A/C. He raises his face to the air duct just above his head.

       TRAIN CONDUCTOR
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.

The broadcast system DINGS, the doors close, and the train is once again zipping along as swiftly as it arrived.

INT. SUBWAY TRAIN – DAY

Mitch stands holding an upper railing for support. The train is crammed with people, shoulder to shoulder, in this metal box, deep underground.

The train brakes suddenly and the entire crowd lurches forward, caught off-guard, but taking it in stride.

Then the train does the lurching forward, and the crowd holds on so they don’t fall backward.

       TRAIN CONDUCTOR
Fifty-ninth street next. Transfer to the A, B, C, D trains.

The train approaches the station, and Mitch can see another large crowd waiting on the platform.

The train stops. The doors open. The herd on the train jostles for a path to get off the train as the throng of folks on the platform position themselves for the best “getting-on” slot.

In all of this bustle, no one ever says a single word to anyone else.

INT. LOBBY – ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Mitch scans his ID badge on the turnstile under the watch of five different security guards.

       MITCH
Good morning.

None of them return the greeting.

INT. CUBICLE BANK – OFFICE BUILDING – CONTINUOUS

Mitch walks through a sea of office cubicles. About half are empty, and the other half are mostly occupied by young men from India or China.

He reaches his assigned workspace, sets his backpack on the floor, and takes off his suit coat. His shirt is drenched with big splotches of sweat showing from his underarms.

He picks at the shoulders of his shirt, trying to get some air in there.

ANTHONY VITALI, late 40s, a co-worker, Caucasian, life-long New Yorker notices from his nearby cubicle.

       ANTHONY
Frigin’ hot out there, right?

       MITCH
Like a witch’s cauldron, man.

       ANTHONY
Shit’ll get to you, won’t it?

       MITCH
Are you kidding? I love it.

       ANTHONY
Yeah. Wait ’til you been here a few years. You’re still on your New York honeymoon.

       MITCH
Let’s hope this one ends better than the first one.

Mitch takes a seat in his chair and turns on his computer.

       ANTHONY
Don’t get too comfy. We gotta go
see Helen.

       MITCH
What does she need?

       ANTHONY
She’s not callin’ in to wish us a
cheery good morning, if that tells
you anything.

Mitch exhales a big breath.

       MITCH
I’m not going in there until I have my first cup of coffee.

INT. ELEVATOR – ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Mitch and Anthony ride up to the 68th floor of 30 Rock.

       ANTHONY
Yeah, they got so frigin’ close. They went into Fenway and swept the Red Sox. Nobody thought they’d be in it as long as they were. Shit, they traded away their talent to build for the future, but Girardi’s a hell of a manager, and they made a run at it.

       MITCH
So they’re out?

       ANTHONY
Yeah. The Mets are in, though. I’m trying to get tickets to the first game.

       MITCH
I haven’t been to a Major League game since nineteen ninety-six — the last time they went on strike.  I got so pissed. Those guys are like spoiled children. But it would be great to be part of that October fever in Yankee stadium.

       ANTHONY
They’ll be back in it next year.

       MITCH
Maybe I’ll give it another chance.

       ANTHONY
I’m just sick those Boston bastards are in it.

Mitch chuckles.

       ANTHONY (CONT’D)
I’m serious. I hate those guys.

The elevator DINGS.

INT. HELEN’S OFFICE – 30 ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Helen, early 60s, sits at her desk, pointing at her computer monitor as Mitch and Anthony stand behind her, watching.

Her office is immaculate, organized, and sterile. Dressed in a navy-blue business suit, she’s crisp and polished, hair in a tight bun, but at least forty pounds overweight.

       HELEN
And when I add the meeting to his calendar, it’s supposed to show up on this list over here, but it
doesn’t.

       ANTHONY
It just takes some time to work through the system.

       HELEN
Well, it’s too slow.

As Anthony tries to placate their user, Mitch takes in the view from Helen’s window over Central Park.

The sun beats down over the blanket of green, with a layer of haze sitting just above the horizon.

       ANTHONY
We’re working with Microsoft to tune it. But everything runs in the Cloud now, so it’s out of our hands.

Mitch gazes at the few puffy clouds that accent the sky. He points to one.

       MITCH
See, I think I see your transaction right there.

She turns around, not amused at his pun.

       HELEN
I don’t care about Clouds, or servers, or any of that. When Frank is out at a client and needs to see his schedule, if it’s not right, I get to hear about it.

       MITCH
We’re fixing that with the new system.

       ANTHONY
Yeah, Mitch is the man on that.

       HELEN
When’s that going to be ready?

Mitch thinks… decides on how much to commit to her.

       MITCH
Right after the first of the year.

       HELEN
That does me no good. This sucks.

Mitch and Anthony exchange a glance.  The meeting went pretty much the way they expected.

INT. LOBBY – 30 ROCKEFELLER CENTER – DAY

Mitch and Anthony exit the elevator. They turn a corner and get a full view of a huge mural of NBC’s legacy of prime-time TV shows.

PAN OVER the vast mural, with specific focus on images from:

30 ROCK

FRIENDS

SEINFELD

Mitch gazes over these icons of modern media.

CONTINUE PAN:

CHEERS

CHIPS

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE

IRONSIDE

Then we stop on a small image of MITCH MILLER with the banner/logo from Sing Along with Mitch

Our Mitch smiles at the more famous Mitch.

       ANTHONY
My mother loved that show.

       MITCH
Never seen it.

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

The door opens and Mitch enters at the end of the workday.

He carries his COAT over his arm. He’s loosened his TIE, unbuttoned the top of his shirt, and rolled up his sleeves. And still, the sweat shows through.

He drops his KEYS, coat, and BACKBACK on a CHAIR, then plops down on the couch, still positioned to receive maximum airflow from the A/C, which is working as hard as it can.

       RON (O.S.)
Good gracious, son, you’re wrung out.

Mitch looks up to see Ron sitting on a BAR STOOL next to the kitchen cabinet.

       MITCH
Did you bring Hell with you?

       RON
There’s no such thing as Hell. You know that.

       MITCH
If there were, it would be jealous.

       RON
It barely hit ninety-eight today.

       MITCH
It’s not the heat, it’s the humid– oh, shit, now I’m spewing cliches.

       RON
Reminds me of my first summer in Dallas. Nineteen seventy-five. I had never felt heat like that.

       MITCH
Didn’t kill you though. And this isn’t going to kill me.

       RON
I’ll remind you of that in six months when it’s twelve degrees with howling wind.

Mitch sits up.

       MITCH
That’s what I love about this city. It’s like “weather-shmeather”. Doesn’t matter if it’s hot as hell
or cold as hell. This city hums along. A foot of snow? Plow that shit and keep on going. Heat index of one-ten? Wipe the sweat and keep on going. It’s ten million people that just don’t give a shit. Not about the weather, not about the traffic, not about how expensive it is. Every person has their own shit to deal with– somewhere to be, something to get done, somebody else they need to talk to.

       RON
Sounds lonely.

       MITCH
Show me a place on Earth that’s not lonely. At least here, there’s a communal loneliness, and it’s what makes it all okay without having to stop and talk about it. Live your life, see a fantastic show, eat great food, get over yourself.

       RON
Wow. That didn’t take long.

       MITCH
For what?

       RON
For you to sound like a real New Yorker.

       MITCH
Nah… New Yorker in training.

END OF SCENE

newyorkheatwave

 

Chapter 1, Scene 4: Friends

INT. SET OF “FRIENDS” – MONICA’S APARTMENT – DAY

MONICA, RACHEL, and JOEY sit at their small kitchen table eating from a PIZZA BOX.

Joey grabs another slice. Rachel slaps his hand away.

       JOEY
But I’m twice the size of you guys. Come on, you know you don’t actually eat this stuff.

PHOEBE bursts through the front door.

       PHOEBE
Oh, good, you’re home! You guys!
Oh, this is so great!

She waves her hands like a kid who can’t wait to tell the secret.

       MONICA
What is it, Pheebs?

       PHOEBE
I just met the sweetest guy down in the coffee shop.

       RACHEL
That’s great, sweetie.

       PHOEBE
He’s coming up to meet the rest of you.

       MONICA
Like now?

       PHOEBE
Yeah.

Monica begins to tidy up the kitchen. Phoebe opens the front door, leans into the hall, and motions for him to come on in.

       PHOEBE (CONT’D)
It’s fine… Yeah, I told them.

Monica and Rachel move toward the door to see their new FRIEND.

Mitch walks through the door, dressed in the same shorts, t-shirt, and BALL CAP he’s been wearing on his trip.

       PHOEBE (CONT’D)
Guys, this is Mitch.

Monica and Rachel reach out to shake his hand.

       MITCH
Nice to meet you.

       MONICA
Monica.

       RACHEL
Rachel.

       MITCH
Wow, this is surreal, actually.

Joey walks up behind them, carrying a piece of PIZZA. He wipes his hand on his pants and sticks it out. He has a full mouth of food.

       JOEY
(muffled)
Joey.

       RACHEL
Joey!

       PHOEBE
Guys, come on, let’s sit down.

They move to the sitting area. Rachel and Phoebe hang back.

       RACHEL
(aside to Phoebe)
He’s cute, Phoebe, but he’s a bit old, don’t you think?

       PHOEBE
Yes, but his soul is so much older.

AT THE COUCH:

       MONICA
So, Mitch, do I detect a little accent there?

       MITCH
I just moved to New York from Kentucky.

       MONICA
How exciting. What brings you to New York?

       PHOEBE
He wants to be a writer… for TV shows!

       RACHEL
Television… Eh.

       MITCH
Not just TV. Film and theater, too. I mean, I have a full-time gig as an IT Architect, but that’s just to pay the bills.

       MONICA
Hey, Joey’s an actor, maybe he can introduce you to some folks.

       MITCH
Yeah, I know.

       PHOEBE
Mitch knows so much about all of us already. I think he’s psychic, in a Carl-Sagan-Cosmos kind of way.

       MITCH
I wouldn’t say that.

       MONICA
Really? What can you tell us?

       MITCH
Phoebe writes these intriguing songs and pretends that she can’t sing that well, although she actually has a beautiful voice.

Phoebe blushes.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Monica’s a control freak, but only because she cares so much for all of you. In fact, she has the biggest heart of anyone you’ll ever meet.

       MONICA
Aawww.

       MITCH
And Joey doesn’t share food.

Joey smiles and nods.

       RACHEL
What about me?

       MITCH
Oh, honey. You’re so pretty, and much more talented than you show… But so spoiled, truly a narcissist.

       RACHEL
Hey, bud!

       PHOEBE
He’s right, Rachel.

       RACHEL
Okay, well.

       MONICA
How do you know so much about us?

       JOEY
Yeah, do you sit in the back of the coffee shop and just watch us all the time?

       MITCH
Something like that.

       PHOEBE
I think it’s sweet.

       MONICA
What makes us so interesting?

       MITCH
Because you guys broke the mold. My generation had a pattern set for us: college, job, marriage, kids.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a wonderful vision… heavenly, really… and it worked for a long time. But the “two-by-two” plan hasn’t shown the best of results. Divorce rates are insane. People get this wanderlust. Vows don’t mean much.

The Friends exchange a glance of discomfort.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
“Immediate” is the new “forever”.

       MONICA
That’s not how we feel.

       MITCH
I know. You guys built a different model. “Friends First!” Young and hopeful, fearless, living in the center of the universe, independent, but more like “inter-dependent”.  You gave us all a tight-knit unit to emulate, based on a social bond stronger than the traditional coupling model.

       JOEY
I don’t know. There are plenty of models I wouldn’t mind coupling with.

He smiles at Rachel.

       RACHEL
Joey!

       PHOEBE
See, guys. What’d I tell you?

       RACHEL
You know, I think he’s onto something. I mean, that whole thing must have been what I was feeling when I left Barry at the alter.

       MITCH
Rachel, this is not about you.

       MONICA
Ok, Mitch. We get it. I mean, it sounds like we are it, so getting it is like, built in or something.

       JOEY
Hey, I like that.

       MONICA
But that doesn’t explain why you’re here.

Mitch thinks for a second.

       MITCH
To have an authentic New York experience.

       PHOEBE
Well, we’re definitely that.

ROSS and CHANDLER enter.

       CHANDLER
Hey, you guys need to come down and check this out. There’s an old guy in a big U-Haul truck parked outside with his flashers on, blocking traffic. He’s sleeping in the cab.

       ROSS
I think he’s been sleeping there all night.

       CHANDLER
Or he’s dead.

       MITCH
Oh, no, that’s me.

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – DAY

Just after dawn, a hint of sunshine starts to brighten the cab of the truck. Mitch rests in that same position, leaning against the door, legs stretched out, asleep.

We hear a loud TAPPING on the window.

Mitch startles himself awake.

       MITCH
Phoebe!

An OLD MAN stands outside.

       OLD MAN
You need to move so I can get out!

       MITCH
Yeah, no problem. Sorry.

Mitch wipes the sleep from his eyes and tries to orient himself after the dream.

He starts the truck and puts it into gear.

INT. COFFEE SHOP – UPPER WEST SIDE – DAY

Mitch takes a bag of pastries from the clerk along with two large coffees in a cardboard carrier.

       MITCH
Thank you!

The clerk pays no attention and is on to the next customer.

Mitch hustles out of the coffee shop.

EXT. 95TH STREET – MANHATTAN – DAY

Mitch shuffles briskly down the sidewalk toward the U-Haul, still in its same spot, still with FLASHERS ON.

As he nears the truck, we see ANGELICA RAMON, 26, a beautiful Brazilian woman, sitting behind the wheel of the truck, talking on her cell phone.

       ANGELICA
(thick Brazilian accent)
It’s a one-bedroom, with lots of windows. Five floor walk up, but close to the park. It will be gone by this afternoon…

She smiles at Mitch as he hands her one of the coffees and the bag of pastries.

       ANGELICA (CONT’D)
… I can show you in a couple hours … so you let me know.

She mouths the words “Thank you” to Mitch and continues with her phone call.

       ANGELICA (CONT’D)
No, no, no, no, no… that’s no problem. You call this guy and he’ll come install two new A-C units. He has the license.

Continuing her call, she reaches for some PAPERWORK and hands it to Mitch, then gives him a PEN. He looks over the lease.

       ANGELICA (CONT’D)
(into phone)
But I’m telling you that will not be a problem. Trust me on that, will you? … It’s normal … for the tenant to bring the A-C units … six, maybe seven hundred … no, no, no, no … for each one.

She points to the signature lines as Mitch signs the lease.  He gives her the signed DOCUMENT, and she hands him the KEYS.

Just then, another large truck with ‘HUDSON VALLEY MOVING & STORAGE’ painted across the side, pulls in behind the U-Haul.

       MITCH
Right on time.

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

SHOT FROM INSIDE the small apartment, empty, with a tiny kitchen, painted hardwood floors, and stark white walls.

The front door swings open, and Mitch enters, just a few feet, then stops.

Looking around, he takes a huge breath in and lets it out fully. This is his place now.

He steps into the room as if walking into church, taking it all in, even though there’s not that much to take in.

The moment lingers. A few streaks of sunlight leak in through the window in the living room, and all is quiet.

       MOVER GUY 1 (O.S.)
Hey! Mister?

The voice is loud, gruff, and very Russian.

       MITCH
In here!

The two husky, hairy, meat-eating movers, MOVER GUY 1 and MOVER GUY 2 bring in a BOOKCASE-SHELVING UNIT as the unloading process gets underway.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Okay… that goes over there in the corner.

IN FAST MOTION, SHOTS of the movers bringing in BOXES, the BAR STOOLS, another BOOKCASE, and the PIANO… all of it being stacked into the corner, packed in tight like it was in the truck.

IN THE BEDROOM, STILL IN FAST MOTION: they bring the MATTRESS, HEADBOARD, FOOTBOARD, stacking them against the wall.

BACK IN THE LIVING ROOM: The movers bring in another stack of boxes and finish off the pile.

       MOVER GUY 1
OK… down to last thing.

       MITCH
Ah… Boomer.

EXT. 95TH STREET – MANHATTAN – DAY

Mitch and the movers walk past the cab of the truck, with Angelica still sitting in there, again on her phone, talking in Portuguese — something obviously has her all fired up.

Mitch passes her without stopping, turns around the end of the truck, and sees the last item in the truck.

SHOT FROM MITCH’S POV: A bright red, 1994 Honda Magna MOTORCYCLE, strapped to the back wall of the truck.

       MITCH
Ok, boys. You’re done. I’ve got
it from here.

He tips both of the movers with some cash. They climb into their own truck and take off to their next job, talking in Russian and laughing at an apparent joke.

WIDE SHOT FROM SIDE OF U-HAUL. We hear Mitch start the bike and REV THE ENGINE. Then the bike, with Mitch riding, appears from the back and rolls down the ramp to the street.

LATER:

Mitch pulls the door down on the truck, closing it up one last time. Angelica walks up to him.

       ANGELICA
So, Mitch. All is done, no?

       MITCH
All is done. Thanks for your help.

       ANGELICA
It was a long search. I’m glad we found this one.

       MITCH
They say the three hardest feats for a human to accomplish are hitting a major league pitch, landing a fighter plane on an aircraft carrier at sea, and finding an apartment in New York City.

       ANGELICA
And you did one of them!  It’s a tireless job, let me tell you… Do you need anything else?

       MITCH
No. Thanks again for sitting in the truck.

       ANGELICA
I do it all the time.

       MITCH
I have to take this truck in. Can I drop you off anywhere?

       ANGELICA
No, no, no, no… I am taking the train down to the Village. This woman, she’s so crazy, she wants a two-bedroom with a dishwasher in the Village for under four thousand. I have to go. Best of luck, and take good care.

She smiles, twirls her backpack up to her shoulder and walks back up 95th street toward the subway station.

CUE MUSIC: New Sensations by Lou Reed

As the long lead-in to the song rolls, Mitch cracks a smile, shakes his head, and climbs into the cab of the truck.

CROSS FADE

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

The lead-in to the song continues over Mitch’s action.

LIVING ROOM: Mitch looks at the huge pile of boxes in the corner. Where to start?

       MITCH
The first thing to do to get life back on track? Make the bed.

BEDROOM: He starts to put the bed frame together and realizes he needs a wrench.

BACK IN LIVING ROOM: He opens one box, looking for his tools, but only finds some BOOKS. He moves a couple of boxes to get to a PLASTIC TOTE BIN.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Ah… here we go.

As he digs into the bin to get the WRENCH, he sees another box to his side labeled “FRAMED PHOTOS”. He opens that box, and takes out a few PHOTOS, unwrapping the PAPER around them.

The first one he finds is a picture of Mitch with several friends from a previous job. He smiles at the memory.

Then he unwraps two similar frames with individual pictures of Rebecca and Chelsea. He places them on an open spot in a bookcase.

Then he notices the corner of one frame sticking out of its wrapping. He unwraps that one to show a picture of RON, sitting at an outdoor table, next to the San Antonio Riverwalk.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Never far away, are you, my friend?

He places Ron’s photo back in the box, leaving it open, grabs the wrench and heads back to the bedroom.

IN THE BEDROOM:

Mitch works on getting his bed put together…

       LOU REED
(singing)
I don’t like guilt, be it stoned or stupid
drunk and disorderly, 
I ain’t no cupid.
Two years ago today, I was arrested on Christmas Eve.
I don’t want pain, I want to walk, not be carried.
I don’t want to give it up, I want to stay married.
I ain’t no dog tied to a parked car.

Ooohhh, new sensations.
Ooohhh, ooohhh, new sensations.

Talkin’ ’bout some new sensations.
Talkin’ ’bout some new sensations.

FADE OUT

END OF SCENE

friends

Chapter 1, Scene 3: George Washington Bridge

EXT. MANHATTAN SKYLINE – DAY

A FAR-AWAY LONG SHOT of the City.

CUE MUSIC: Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind

The drone-mounted camera moves toward the city, starting with the STATUE OF LIBERTY, then pushes past her toward the southern tip of MANHATTAN with the FREEDOM TOWER proudly reaching to the sky.

The drone moves over the downtown financial district showcasing other giants of American commerce.

       B. JOEL (SINGING)
(over action)
Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the neighborhood,
Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood.
But I’m takin’ a Greyhound on the Hudson River line;
I’m in a New York state of mind

The camera pans to the north, and we catch a glimpse of other iconic landmarks… the CHRYSLER BUILDING, the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING, and ROCKEFELLER CENTER.

It continues its northern track, passing mid-town and the colossally bright screens of TIMES SQUARE.

Next into view is the vast green “ocean” of CENTRAL PARK, bordered on all sides by the “sails and tall masts of moored ships”.

       B. JOEL (SINGING) (CONT’D)
(over action)
I’ve seen all the movie stars
In their fancy cars and their limousines,
Been high in the Rockys under the evergreens.
I know what I’m needin’,
And I don’t want to waste more time.
I’m in a New York state of mind

Still moving north, the camera begins a 360-degree sweep, starting to the right:

… covering the BRONX in the distance

… then over to QUEENS and LAGUARDIA airport

… back toward the southeast and BROOKLYN

… and once again the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan.

       B. JOEL (SINGING) (CONT’D)
(over action)
It was so easy livin’ day by day,
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues.
But now I need a little give and take:
The New York Times, the Daily News.
It comes down to reality,
And it’s fine with me cause I’ve let it slide.
I don’t care if it’s Chinatown or on Riverside.
I don’t have any reasons,
I left them all behind.
I’m in a New York state of mind

The camera spans over the Hudson River to the urban landscape of New Jersey before returning to focus on its target: THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE.

We push in, and as the bridge gets closer and closer, we see the crowded roadway stacked with lines of CARS and TRUCKS on the New Jersey side waiting to pay the toll and cross into the northern tip of Manhattan.

The drone glides down over these vehicles moving deeper into the waiting line.

Soon, we notice the familiar facade of a U-Haul truck, and eventually our seasoned traveler, Mitch, bright-eyed at the wheel.

END MUSIC

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – CONTINUOUS

Mitch examines the wide spread of ROAD SIGNS that direct traffic.

SHOTS OF:

– One sign that says: “Upper Level” with arrows to the left, and the “E-Z Pass” logo.

– Another sign says: “Lower Level” with arrows to the right, and both the “E-Z Pass” and “Cash” logos.

He sets the turn signal to the right and looks into the right side mirror.

EXT. GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE – CONTINUOUS

The truck makes its way to the right, having to nudge into the adjacent lane, cutting in front of another car as traffic slowly rolls forward.

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – CONTINUOUS

Mitch cranes his neck to try to see what’s going on in the mirror.

A loud HONK from the other car’s horn blares.

       MITCH
Sorry! I can’t see shit in this thing.

EXT. GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE – CONTINUOUS

The truck finally moves fully across another lane and passes under the ‘Lower Level’ sign. It veers down the ramp toward a bank of toll booths.

Still in the left-most lane, Mitch pulls up to the toll booth, and smiles embarrassingly at the TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT, a chunky woman in her 20s.

She looks straight out of the booth, back toward the approaching traffic, and doesn’t look at Mitch. She speaks loudly into a SPEAKER PHONE with a Jamaican accent.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT
Truck on de Lower Level!

       MITCH
Are you talking to me?

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT
(to Mitch)
You can’t cross on dis level.

       MITCH
I’m sorry, I didn’t realize –

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT
– You have to go on de upper level.

       MITCH
And how do I do that?

She points to the right side of the road.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT
You see dat Haz-Mat sign dere?

Mitch turns to see a red square on a wall, next to a driveway that leads away from the toll plaza — all the way across six lanes of traffic.

       MITCH
Over there?

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT
Yes.

       MITCH
How am I supposed to get over there?

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT
Drive dat ting.

He shakes his head and starts to hand her a TWENTY DOLLAR BILL for the toll. She doesn’t take it.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT (CONT’D)
You pay on de upper level.

Mitch pulls forward a few feet. The truck clears the toll booth, and he turns hard right, once again nudging his way across the heavy traffic, nearly at a 90-degree angle.

A symphony of HONKS erupt from all the cars he cuts off.

He moves at a snail’s pace, unable to see what’s coming at him from his right because of the size of the truck.

       MITCH
I’m coming through, people!!

WIDE SHOT: The truck inches its way through a quagmire of angry drivers.

Finally, he gets to the edge of the toll plaza, clear of the traffic and into the alley the Haz-Mat sign points toward.

After weaving through more turns, he ascends to an entrance to the UPPER LEVEL. He merges into a line waiting for the toll booth two hundred yards ahead.

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – CONTINUOUS

Mitch looks back to Heaven

       MITCH
I’ll bet you’re enjoying this, aren’t you, Ronnie.

LATER

Mitch at the toll booth. TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT 2, another Jamaican lady, much taller and thinner, looks at him and starts laughing.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
I see my reputation precedes me.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT 2
Oh, yes. Entertaining, you are.

       MITCH
Thanks.

He hands her the twenty.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT 2
Dat’s forty-two dollar.

       MITCH
What? I thought it was fifteen.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT 2
Truck cost twenty-one per axle.

Mitch reaches into his pocket. He pulls out another twenty.  He reaches into another pocket… nothing.

       MITCH
All I have is forty.

       TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT 2
I do the forty. Two dollar worth the show.

He hands her the cash. He drives away from the toll plaza and onto the bridge.

He lets out a huge sigh, having survived the ordeal.

       MITCH
I’m going to be so fucking glad to get out of this truck.

Just at that moment, he passes under the sign for the “New York State Line”.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.

EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREETS – MANHATTAN – DAY

The truck makes its way down Riverside Drive along Riverside Park, bordering the Hudson River.

Moving south past the upper 160s, Mitch notices the mostly-tattered buildings to his left along side this part of Riverside Drive.

The street is stuffed with PARKED CARS all along both sides.

Crowds of people enjoy the Labor Day holiday in the park, with BLANKETS, PICNIC TABLES, CHARCOAL GRILLS, and plenty of kids and dogs running around.

The sun lingers just above the horizon across the river into New Jersey, signaling the impending close to the holiday, and Mitch’s long haul.

As Mitch gets below 120th street, the condition of the buildings and the overall feel of the area make a noticeable improvement. He finally crosses 100th street, and turns left onto 95th street.

       MITCH
Ah… home, sweet home.

But in similar fashion, the street is lined with cars, crammed into every available square foot of space.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Uh-oh.

He eases up 95th Street, hoping for a break, but there’s nothing available.

He tours around the adjacent streets: down West End Avenue, back on 93rd Street to Riverside Drive, up 94th Street, even up to Amsterdam and along 96th Street.

Nothing.

He returns to 95th street, in front of his apartment building, and pulls over to the right side of the passable street, just inches from the parked cars. He puts the truck into park, turns it off, and activates THE FLASHERS.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Okay… we wait.

EXT. 95TH STREET – MANHATTAN – NIGHT

3 hours later. Mitch’s hunch that many of these parked cars would be leaving from the Labor Day festivities was clearly wrong.

The truck still sits there, flashers shining on the street signs ahead.

       MITCH (O.S.)
That sounds like fun.

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – CONTINUOUS

Mitch, with his EARBUDS in, talks on the PHONE.

INSERT: Cell phone with active call to REBECCA

       REBECCA (VIA PHONE)
It was so hype. Of course, most of the kids there were stoned, but what do you expect when you’re holding a pancake breakfast at midnight on a Friday for a bunch of college kids.

       MITCH
We had White Castles for that.

       REBECCA
That’s just gross.

       MITCH
No way. The grease and all the other carcinogens combat the alcohol.

       REBECCA
And you were allowed to father children.

       MITCH
Hey… you turned out okay, I mean, for a UK student, at least.

       REBECCA
Hey!

He laughs.

       MITCH
You know I’m teasing.

       REBECCA
Yeah, it’s Gucci.

A short pause.

       MITCH
Hey, guess what?

       REBECCA
What?

       MITCH
You’re in college now.

       REBECCA
I know.

Mitch can feel her beaming on the other side of the phone.

       MITCH
So… how does it feel?

       REBECCA
It sort of feels like — you know when you ride in a car for a long time, and then you stop and get out and stretch, and it’s like you’re stretching your arms and legs for the first time in your life.

Mitch looks at his legs, still in the same cramped position they’ve been in for the last few hours. Then he looks around at his new neighborhood.

       MITCH
I think I can relate.

       REBECCA
It’s kind of like that.

       MITCH
Well, you were born to be a grown-up.

She sighs a little bit, like that resonates deeply.

       REBECCA
Thanks.

The moment lingers just a bit.

       REBECCA (CONT’D)
So you’re just sitting in the
truck?

       MITCH
Yeah… no parking spots anywhere
nearby, especially for this beast.

       REBECCA
So what are you going to do?

       MITCH
The only thing I can, sit here with my flashers on until my realtor gets here at eight-thirty in the morning.

       REBECCA
All night?

       MITCH
Yeah. I can’t leave it unattended or I’ll get a New York Ticket.

       REBECCA
What’s a New York Ticket?

       MITCH
The same as any other parking ticket, except three-times as expensive, and the fact that they’ll write the ticket at three o’clock in the morning.

       REBECCA
Wow. Sleeping in the truck.  Sounds like something a bunch of college kids would do.

       MITCH
All part of the adventure, or as
you would say… It’s “Gootchie”.

CROSS FADE

EXT. 95TH STREET – MANHATTAN – NIGHT

Another WIDE-SHOT OF THE TRUCK, unmoved, but much later.

Cars pass carefully in the narrow space still available.

A short Asian man on a BICYCLE rolls down the street toward the truck. He wears a bicycle HELMET and a bright orange VEST over his t-shirt. On the back of this bike, in a CARGO BASKET is a PAPER BAG wrapped in a PLASTIC BAG.

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – CONTINUOUS

Mitch leans against the door, with his legs stretched out to the passenger seat. The window is rolled down, letting in the sounds and smells of the city.

He checks the time on his phone.

INSERT SHOT OF PHONE: showing the time as 11:14 pm.

Mitch watches the guy on the bike get closer, then stop, dismount the bike and grab the bag from the cargo basket. He starts to enter the building near where Mitch is parked.

       MITCH
Hey!

The delivery guy pays no attention.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Hey! Delivery guy!

The guy stops and turns back to Mitch.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
You from Opai Thai?

The guy looks at the ticket stapled to the bag.

       DELIVERY GUY
Meeetch?

       MITCH
That’s me.

The guy brings the food over and hands it to Mitch through the window of the truck.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
We’re all set, right? I paid
online.

       DELIVERY GUY
Yeah.

And the guy takes off as quickly as he arrived.

Mitch takes the FOOD out of the bag, finds a BOTTLE OF WATER, and opens it and guzzles some of that.

He finds a pair of chopsticks and digs into the Pad Thai.

       MITCH
Oh, sweet Lord, this is so good.

END OF SCENE

gw-bridge-2

 

 

Chapter 1, Scene 2: Park Avenue

INT. HOME DEPOT – ALLENTOWN, PA. – DAY

Mitch stands in front of a wide array of PAINT SWATCHES, comparing what seems like thousands of different colors, most of which look about the same.

The place is crowded with do-it-yourselfers, all loading up on materials for their Labor-Day projects.

Mitch takes a sampling of the swatches, and holds them up, trying to envision what it might look like on a wall. He even looks through a couple of the SUGGESTIVE BROCHURES, complete with their designer furniture.

       MITCH
(to himself)
Bedroom suits to sell the paint.
Paint to sell the bedroom suits.

After a bit more deliberation, still with no clear choice, he notices a tall, attractive woman at the end of the aisle helping a couple pick out their colors. This is KATE, mid 40s, with short auburn hair, and although she does not wear the typical orange HD apron, she’s clearly the paint expert.

Mitch casually makes his way down the aisle toward them, and gets close enough to overhear their conversation.

       KATE
(to the couple)
No, but if you just do one wall in
something like this…

She reaches for a swatch with shades of a salmon color.

       KATE (CONT’D)
… it won’t flood the room, and it
helps give it some depth, makes it
seem a bit bigger.

       PAINT CUSTOMER – WIFE
Oooh, I like that.

Her husband’s look of dismay signals that he’s not on board.

       PAINT CUSTOMER – HUSBAND
It’s pink.

       PAINT CUSTOMER – WIFE
You wouldn’t know ‘pink’ if it was
staring you in the face.

The husband is stunned with embarrassment.

Kate’s eyes grow wide and she blushes.

       MITCH
(to himself)
Ouch.

       PAINT CUSTOMER – WIFE
(to husband)
Oh, grow up.
(to Kate)
We’ll take that one.

       KATE
Okay, I’ll get that mixed up for
you.

Kate slides behind the counter and starts to enter the specs into the computer.

Mitch approaches her.

       MITCH
Can I be next on your list?

       KATE
Sure.

       MITCH
Don’t worry. I’m not looking for
anything pink.

Kate blushes again.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Oh, that didn’t come out right.

Now Mitch blushes from embarrassment.

       KATE
It’s ok.

LATER:

Mitch and Kate look over a set of swatches spread across the counter.

       MITCH
Yeah, it’s just a bit clinical in
there right now… I mean, it feels
like a hospital room… in a mental
ward. And it makes it hard to
sleep in there.

       KATE
You need to have some earthy tone
to warm and soften that.

She points to several examples of greyish-taupe.

       MITCH
(still uncertain)
Yeah.

       KATE
If you stay with these others that
are too blue or even silver-looking,
it’s still going to feel cold.

He looks off in the distance to imagine it in his mind.

       MITCH
Actually, can I show you my
bedding?

       KATE
Excuse me?

       MITCH
Shit, I did it again… it’s been a
long day. I’m sorry. I have my
bedspread in the truck. Um… it’s
along story, but I think I can get
to it and bring it in.

Kate isn’t quite sure what to make of this guy, but her curious half-smile indicates she just might think he’s a charming goofball.

       KATE
Okay. I’ll be here.

He holds his hand up, giving her a ‘5’ signal.

       MITCH
Five minutes.

He takes off toward the exit.

EXT. HOME DEPOT – ALLENTOWN, PA. – DAY

Mitch lifts the rear door on the U-Haul truck. Once again, we see how fully it’s loaded.

He gets a look of “Hmmm… now where is that bedspread?”

He climbs into the back of the truck and starts moving things around, but it’s clear it’s not going to be that easy.

QUICK SHOTS from INSIDE THE TRUCK:

– He grabs a few BOXES to move them.

– He moves a SHELVING UNIT.

– He picks up one of the BAR STOOLS.

– He opens another BOX – no luck there.

– He struggles to slide the UPRIGHT PIANO to get around it.

WIDE SHOT OUTSIDE THE TRUCK: We now see a bunch of things sitting outside on the ground, making a small mess of the parking lot. We hear Mitch still moving stuff from inside the truck.

       MITCH (O.S.)
Ah-Hah!

He jumps out with a smokey-blue/silver-gray BEDSPREAD and starts back into the store, but then realizes he can’t leave all his stuff sitting out. He sets the bedspread down and begins re-loading the truck.

INT. HOME DEPOT – ALLENTOWN, PA. – DAY

Mitch approaches the paint counter again, carrying the bulky bedspread. Kate mixes some paint at the workstation. She sees him and breaks out with another laugh.

       KATE
Five minutes?

       MITCH
I didn’t say it would be five
consecutive minutes.

She rolls her eyes.

Mitch dumps the bedspread in a nearby empty shopping cart.

Kate takes a closer look at it.

       KATE
Yeah, this is really blue, but with
the silver accent in there, we can
warm that up a lot with this one.

She places a swatch of taupe on the bedspread.

       MITCH
Alright, I see that. Which one is
that?

       KATE
It’s called “Park Avenue”.

       MITCH
Oh, that’s an appropriate name.

       KATE
Why’s that?

       MITCH
I’m actually on my way to New York
City… moving there… got the
rental truck full of all my stuff.

Is that a hint of disappointment in Kate’s face?

       KATE
Wow… that’s a big move.

He smiles with an eager expression.

       MITCH
Yeah, the biggest.

       KATE
I’ll get this mixed up for you.

       MITCH
Okay, great. I’ve got a few more
things to pick up.

       KATE
I’ll be waiting for you here.

       MITCH
How long?

She hesitates for a bit, then holds her hand up showing ‘5’.

       KATE
Five minutes.

He chuckles.

       MITCH
Nice.

And he’s off toward another section of the store.

EXT. HOME DEPOT – ALLENTOWN, PA. – DAY

Mitch walks toward the truck pushing the shopping cart.

Along with a GALLON of PAINT and bedspread, he’s found a few items for his new place: a couple of strings of those old-school LIGHT BULBS on a long black cord (like restaurants hang on their patios); a new SHOWER CURTAIN; and some of those high-tech PLASTIC HANGING HOOKS that don’t put holes in the wall.

He loads it all into the truck and then takes a long, pensive look back at the front of the store.

He returns the cart to the rack in the middle of the lot, and looks again at the store, really pouring over something in his mind.

Finally, he decides and starts back toward the front of the store.

INT. HOME DEPOT – ALLENTOWN, PA. – DAY

Mitch arrives back at the paint counter, looking around for Kate, but can’t find her. He moves to the adjacent aisle and peers all the way down the aisle. Still nothing.

He moves over one more aisle, and sees her at the far end, looking through the stains and polyurethanes.

After another moment of deliberation, he approaches her.  Just as he gets close, she looks up and notices him, and smiles — a pleasant, unexpected-surprise kind of smile.

       KATE
Hey… Did you get your paint?

       MITCH
I did. I just wanted to say…
thanks again.

       KATE
No problem. Is that all?

He hesitates, and then does that thing where he tries to talk, but he also needs to swallow, and it’s all an awkward mess.  He finally gets it out.

       MITCH
Yeah. I think so.

She gives him another smile… more subtle, slight, and innocent.

       KATE
Good luck in the big city.

       MITCH
Thanks.

EXT. PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE – DAY

The truck chugs up the road.

INT. U-HAUL TRUCK – CAB – CONTINUOUS

Mitch drives. He’s still mulling over things in his head.

WIDE SHOT from outside the front of the truck: Mitch behind the wheel.  RON sits in the passenger seat.

BACK TO CAB:

       MITCH
Come on, Ron, she’s in Allentown.
That’s three hours from the city.

       RON
She liked you.

       MITCH
She likes selling paint.

       RON
You should have at least asked her
what her name was.

       MITCH
Her name is “Long-distance”.

       RON
No, it’s “Kate”.

       MITCH
Of course, you’d know that.

Ron pauses for dramatic effect.

       RON
She’s a lesbian, though.

       MITCH
Jesus, Ron. Then why are you
busting my chops?

       RON
It’s fun.

Mitch looks up, as if speaking directly to Heaven.

       MITCH
Can you send somebody else? That
Clarence fella, or maybe Shoeless
Joe Jackson? Hell, I’d even take
Ray Liotta.

He smiles back at Ron.

They both look ahead as the truck passes under the Welcome to New Jersey sign.

END OF SCENE

 

parkavenuepaint

 

Chapter 1, Scene 1: Red Clay

EXT. U-STORE-IT UNIT – LEXINGTON, KY – DAY

MITCH FIELDS, 49, stands behind an open 16-foot U-HAUL RENTAL TRUCK, peering into the loaded cavity. Mitch is tall and lanky but not slender, honest but not blunt, wandering but not homeless, and experienced but not wise.

We see some FURNITURE, several BOXES, a pair of BAR STOOLS, the end of a SMALL UPRIGHT PIANO, and a handful of POTTED PLANTS, all packed in, tight and efficient.

The late-summer sunshine has already warmed the asphalt beneath Mitch’s feet. Some distant ROAD NOISE floats in from the background to accent what may appear to be a moment of calmness.

His brow, dappled with beads of sweat mixed with dust, shows a tired but accomplished expression from underneath his well-worn BALL CAP.

He surveys the rows of concrete-block buildings, built to maximize the square footage on the lot while allowing efficient flow of trucks, minivans and gooseneck trailers.

He checks the time on his CELL PHONE – 11:17.

He takes the SUNGLASSES that hang from his similarly sweaty and dirty t-shirt and puts them on. He inserts EARBUDS into his hears and hits a button on the phone.

CUE MUSIC: FRANK SINATRA’S VERSION OF THEME FROM NEW YORK, NEW YORK.

He puts the phone in his pocket and pulls the rear door down, closing in the sum of material representations of his life.  He puts a PADLOCK on the latch.

WIDE SHOT: TRUCK PULLING AWAY FROM THE STORAGE UNIT.

       SINATRA (SINGING)
Start spreadin’ the news.
I’m leaving today.
I want to be a part of it.
New York, New York.

EXT. HIGHWAY – MOVING – DAY

The song continues as we see more SHOTS of the truck:

… ROLLING ONTO INTERSTATE-75

… THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS OF NORTHERN KENTUCKY

INT. FRONT CAB OF U-HAUL TRUCK – CONTINUOUS

Mitch spies a RED-TAIL HAWK soaring high above him, just ahead. He leans forward to watch it through squinting eyes.  He smiles.

EXT. HIGHWAY – MOVING – CONTINUOUS

The truck merges onto the PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE.

INT. FRONT CAB OF U-HAUL TRUCK – CONTINUOUS

Mitch drives the truck. The earbuds still pump Frank’s voice into his head as he sings along.

       SINATRA / MITCH (SINGING)
These little-town blues
Are melting away.
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York.
And… If I can make it there,
I’ll make it –

A RINGTONE cuts the music off abruptly.

He glances at the screen.

INSERT: CELL PHONE SHOWING CONTACT – “MOM”

He squeezes on the earbud cord to answer the call.

       MITCH
Hey.

       MOM
Well, how far have you got?

       MITCH
Almost to Harrisburg.

       MOM
Where’s that?

       MITCH
Pennsylvania

       MOM
Oh, you’re making good time.

       MITCH
I got out sooner that I planned.
Couldn’t sleep and I figured
instead of laying there thinking
about it, I might as well get it
done. So I was there about four
thirty this morning.

       MOM
Good lord.

       MITCH
I know.

Mitch notices another RED-TAIL HAWK perched on a tree branch off the side of the road as he passes by.

       MOM
Well, you be careful. Don’t fall
asleep driving.

       MITCH
I’m all caffeine’d up.

       MOM
In that big truck.

       MITCH
It’s fine. This ain’t my first
rodeo.

       MOM
I know. I’ve seen you drive them
things away before. You know.

       MITCH
Yeah.

       MOM
Surely you’re not driving it all
the way through tonight.

       MITCH
No. I’m about to get off and find
a room here soon.

       MOM
Good. I hope you can rest.

       MITCH
I can use it. Plus I want to drive
across the George Washington Bridge
in the clear light of day tomorrow.

       MOM
Lord, I wouldn’t even know where
that is either.

       MITCH
I know, Mama. It’s alright.

EXT. MEXICAN RESTAURANT – RURAL PENNSYLVANIA – NIGHT

The U-Haul sits outside of the ‘Su Casa, Su Casa’ restaurant.

INT. MEXICAN RESTAURANT – RURAL PENNSYLVANIA – CONTINUOUS

Mitch sits at the bar eating dinner. No one else sits at the bar, and the darkened restaurant is nearly empty. A half-full Margarita glass complements the dish.

The TV above the bar displays a soccer match; the Spanish speaking announcer calls the match over the boisterous crowd.

He sips from the Margarita and tunes into the soccer match.  The referee issues a red card to an enraged player. The offending player slings animated gestures at the referee as his teammates attempt to restrain him.

Mitch chuckles at the scene.

       MAN’S VOICE (O.S.)
He’s in a mood, isn’t he?

       MITCH
Yes, he is. Hot blooded, I guess.

Mitch turns to find RON SMITH, early 60s. Ron is a bit heavy-set, but jolly in every aspect of his appearance.  His smooth white hair frames his round, warm face.  His voice is deep and velvety smooth, and with just the right amount of genuine Kentucky accent to put anyone at ease.

       RON
Just like the thoroughbreds. It’s
all about the blood.

       MITCH
I must have seen about a dozen
hawks today, so I figured it was
about time you showed up.

       RON
You know I’m never far away.

       MITCH
Please. I’m sure there are plenty
of other souls out here you’re
looking over. I’d imagine they
keep your dance card pretty full.

       RON
Not at all. You must be needing to
talk.

       MITCH
A little reassurance wouldn’t hurt.

       RON
When I was fresh out of college, I
was driving Senator Cooper around
eastern Kentucky with his campaign,
and – have I ever told this?

       MITCH
Only about a hundred times.

Ron flashes a gleaming smile.

       RON
It’s worth telling again. I was in
line for a staff job, either in
Lexington, or maybe even in
Washington. Life was all planned
out for me. But somewhere deep
down, I knew my future wouldn’t be
in politics, and it wouldn’t even
be in Kentucky. When I gave him my
resignation letter, he said
something that I’ll remember
forever.

       MITCH
You’re dead, Ron. All you have
left is ‘forever’.

       RON
It was both the easiest and yet the
hardest decision I ever made. And
he knew that. He shook my hand,
put his other hand on my shoulder
and said, “Ronnie, no matter where
you go, you know you’ll never get
that red clay off your boots.”

       MITCH
He was right. I brought a big
handful of that red Kentucky clay
all the way to Dallas and threw it
in the open grave before they
lowered you down into it.

       RON
I know. And I imagine he knew
you’d do that too, even back then.

       MITCH
Is this some kind of “time folds
back onto itself” thing?

       RON
You tell me. Is that what’s
bothering you? Time?

       MITCH
It’s been almost eight years.

       RON
Flew by, didn’t it?

Mitch shakes his head.

       MITCH
Shit, Ron. That seems like an entire
lifetime ago.

       RON
Then there’s your answer. How many
lifetimes are you going to get?

       MITCH
Only one more. Back to square one,
I suppose.

       RON
I wouldn’t say that. You’ve got a
couple of bright, beautiful squares
to show for it.

       MITCH
Yeah. Good squares.

       RON
And remember, they have their
lifetimes, too. In fact, they’re
both pretty good at it, so far.

       MITCH
It’s been a lot to overcome.

       RON
That’s what I miss so much about
being here: the challenges.

       MITCH
Yeah? Well, I’m up for a big one
now, my friend.

       RON
What’s a climber without a
mountain?

       MITCH
Yeah. A good mountain.

Mitch smiles.

Ron stands from the bar stool and moves to Mitch’s side. He places his left hand on Mitch’s shoulder.

       RON
I know you’re not a red-clay kind
of guy, but you have your own
version… or should I say, you
have two of them. And they’ll
always be on your boots.

Ron’s smile widens again, and he winks at Mitch.

WIDE SHOT OF THE BAR, and we see only Mitch sitting there, gazing off into the distance.

He picks up his cell phone and punches up the text-messaging app, which shows a previous group-message conversation with REBECCA and CHELSEA. He types up a message.

       MITCH (VIA TEXT)
Good night, my sweet girls. Talk
to you soon.

And hits SEND.

INT. MOTEL ROOM – NIGHT

The door opens from the outside, and Mitch enters, tosses his keys on the side table. We see his small suitcase and backpack on the bed, with a few items already unpacked and lying around.

NEXT: Mitch, in a t-shirt and pajama pants, brushes his teeth at the sink.

NEXT: He plops down on the bed, grabs the remote and turns on the TV. The movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry has just begun. He shows a slight smile of acceptance, maybe even peace, and he lets out an exhale which allows his shoulders to relax.

NEXT: The movie still plays, somewhere in the later half, and we see that Mitch has fallen asleep.

END OF SCENE