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A Serious Man Movie Script

Writer(s) : Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Genres : Comedy

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                                   A SERIOUS MAN



                                     Written by

                               Joel Coen & Ethan Coen


                                                            June 4th, 2007


          

          
          White letters on a black screen:
          Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.

          -RASHI

          

          FADE IN:

          AGAINST BLACK: SNOWFLAKES

          
          The flakes drift lazily down toward us. Our angle looks straight
          up.
          Now an angle looking steeply down: the snow falls not quite dead
          away to collect on a
          foreground chimneypot and on the little shtetl street that lies
          maplike below us.
          It is night, and quiet, and the street is deserted except for
          one man who walks away from
          us, his valenki squeaking in the fresh snow. He carries bundled
          branches on one shoulder
          and has a hatchet tucked into his belt.

          
          We cut down to street level. The man walks toward us, bearded,
          and bundled against the
          cold. Smiling, he mutters in Yiddish-the dialogue subtitled.

          

          MAN
          What a marvel... what a marvel...

          

          HOUSE INTERIOR
          As its door opens and the man enters.

          

          MAN
          Dora!

          

          VOICE
          Yes...

          
          The man crosses to the stove with his bundle of wood. The voice
          continues:

          

          

          

          

          2
          . Can you help me with the ice?
          The man dumps the wood into a box by the stove as his wife enters
          with an ice pick.
          . I expected you hours ago.

          MAN
          You can't imagine what just happened. I was coming back
          on the Lublin road when the wheel came off the cart
          thank heavens it was the way back and I'd already sold the
          geese!

          

          WIFE
          How much?

          

          MAN
          Fifteen groshen, but that's not the story. I was struggling to
          set the cart upright when a droshky approaches from the
          direction of Lvov. How lucky, you think, that someone is
          out this late.

          

          WIFE
          Yes, very remarkable.

          

          MAN
          But that's the least of it! He stops to help me; we talk of
          this, we talk of that-it turns out this is someone you know!
          Traitle Groshkover!

          
          His wife stares at him as he beams.
          He takes the stare as a sign that she can't place the name.
          . You know, REB GROSHKOVER! Pesel Bunim's uncle!
          The chacham from Lodz, who studied under the Zohar reb
          in Krakow!

          
          Still she stares. Then, quietly:

          

          WIFE
          God has cursed us.

          

          MAN
          What?

          

          WIFE
          Traitle Groshkover has been dead for three years.

          
          Laughter erupts from the man but, as his wife continues to stare
          at him, he strangles on it.
          Quiet.
          Wind whistles under the eaves.

          
          The man says quietly:

          

          MAN
          Why do you say such a thing! I saw the man! I talked to him!

          

          WIFE
          You talked to a dybbuk. Traitle Groshkover died of typhus
          in Pesel Bunim's house. Pesel told me-she sat shiva for
          him.

          
          They stare at each through a silence broken only by the sound
          of the quickening wind.
          A rap at the door.
          Neither immediately responds.
          Finally, to her husband:

          
          Who is it?

          

          MAN
          For some soup, to warm himself.
          The wind moans. He helped me, Dora!

          

          THE DOOR
          We are looking in from the outside as it unlatches and creaks
          in, opened by the husband
          in the foreground, who has arranged his face into a strained
          look of greeting. In the
          background the wife stares, hollow-eyed.

          

          MAN
          REB GROSHKOVER! You are welcome here!
          Reverse on REB GROSHKOVER: a short, merry-looking fellow with
          a bifurcated beard and a
          silk hat and spectacles. He gives a little squeal of delight.

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          You are too kind, Velvel! Too kind!

          
          He steps into the house and sees the wife staring at him.
          And you must be Dora! So much I have heard of you!
          Yes, your cheeks are pink and your legs are stout! What a
          wife you have!

          
          The husband chuckles nervously.

          

          MAN
          Yes! A ray of sun, a ray of sun! Sit!

          

          WIFE
          My husband said he offered you soup.

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          Yes, but I couldn't possibly eat this late, or I'd have
          nightmares. No, no: no soup for me!

          

          WIFE
          I knew it.

          
          REB GROSHKOVER laughs.

          REB GROSHKOVER
          I see! You think I'm fat enough already!

          
          He settles, chuckling, into his chair, but Dora remains sober:

          

          WIFE
          No. A dybbuk doesn't eat.

          

          

          

          

          5
          REB GROSHKOVER stares at her, shocked.
          The wife returns the stare.
          The husband looks from wife to REB GROSHKOVER, apprehensive.
          A heavy silence.
          REB GROSHKOVER bursts into pealing laughter.

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          What a wife you have!

          
          He wipes away tears of merriment; the husband relaxes, even begins
          to smile.

          

          MAN
          I assure you, REB GROSHKOVER, it's nothing personal; she
          heard a story you had died, three years ago, at Pesel
          Bunim's house. This is why she think you are a dybbuk; I,
          of course, do not believe in such things. I am a rational
          man.

          
          REB GROSHKOVER is still chuckling.

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          Oh my. Oh my yes. What nonsense. And even if there
          were spirits, certainly...
          He thumps his chest.
          I am not one of them!

          

          WIFE
          Pesel always worried. Your corpse was left unattended for
          many minutes when Pesel's father broke shiva and left the
          room-it must have been then that the Evil One-
          She breaks off to spit at the mention of the Evil One.
          -took you!

          
          REB GROSHKOVER is terribly amused:

          

          

          

          

          6

          REB GROSHKOVER
          "My corpse!" Honestly! What a wife you have!

          

          WIFE
          Oh yes? Look, husband...

          
          She steps forward to the Reb, who looks enquiringly up at her.
          They were preparing the body. Pesel's father shaved
          one check...

          
          As his eyes roll down to look at her hand, she draws it across
          his smooth right cheek.
          Then he left the room. He came back, and shaved the
          other...

          
          She reaches across to the other cheek, REB GROSHKOVER's eyes
          following her hand-
          You were already gone!

          
          -and drags her hand across. A bristly sound.

          
          REB GROSHKOVER laughs.

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          I shaved hastily this morning and missed a bit-by you this
          makes me a dybbuk?

          
          He appeals to the husband:
          It's true, I was sick with typhus when I stayed with
          Peselle, but I recovered, as you can plainly see, and now
          I-hugh!

          
          The wife steps back.
          REB GROSHKOVER looks slowly down at his own chest in which the
          wife has just planted an
          ice pick.
          REB GROSHKOVER stares at the ice pick.
          The wife stares.

          

          

          

          

          7
          The husband stares.
          Suddenly, REB GROSHKOVER bursts out laughing:
          What a wife you have!
          The husband can manage only a shocked whisper:

          

          MAN
          Woman, what have you done?

          
          REB GROSHKOVER again looks down at his chest, which again moves
          him to laughter. He
          shakes his head.

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          Why would she do such a thing?

          
          He looks up.
          I ask you, Velvel, as a rational man: which of us is
          possessed?

          

          WIFE
          What do you say now about spirits? He is unharmed!

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          On the contrary! I don't feel at all well.

          
          And indeed, blood has begun to soak through his vest.
          He chuckles with less energy.
          One does a mitzvah and this is the thanks one gets?

          

          

          MAN
          Dora! Woe, woe! How can such a thing be!

          

          REB GROSHKOVER
          Perhaps I will have some soup. I am feeling weak...

          
          He rises to his feet but totters.
          Or perhaps I should go...

          

          

          

          

          8
          He smiles weakly at Dora..
          One knows when one isn't wanted.
          He walks unsteadily to the door, opens it with some effort, and
          staggers out into the
          moaning wind and snow to be swallowed by the night.
          The wife and husband stare at the door banging in the wind.

          FINALLY:

          

          MAN
          Dear wife. We are ruined. Tomorrow they will discover
          the body. All is lost.

          

          WIFE
          Nonsense, Velvel...
          She walks to the door...
          Blessed is the Lord. Good riddance to evil and shuts it against
          the wind.

          BLACK
          A drumbeat thumps in the black.
          Music blares: the Jefferson Airplane. Grace Slick's voice enters:
          When the truth is found to be lies
          And all the hope inside you dies
          Don't you want somebody to love. . .

          
          An image fades in slowly, but even up full it is dim: some kind
          of round, dull white shape
          with a small black pinhole center. This white half-globe is a
          plug set in a flesh-toned
          field. The flesh tone glows translucently, backlit. We are drifting
          toward the white plug
          and, as we do so, the music grows louder still.

          

          AN EARPIECE

          

          

          

          

          9
          A pull back-a reverse on the preceding push in-from the cheap
          white plastic earpiece
          of a transistor radio. The Jefferson Airplane continues over
          the cut but becomes
          extremely compressed. The pull back reveals that the earpiece
          is lodged in someone's
          ear and trails a white cord.

          
          We drift down the cord to find the radio at its other end. As
          we do so we hear, live in the
          room, many voices speaking a foreign language in unison. A classroom,
          apparently.
          The radio is on a desktop but hidden from in front by the book
          held open before it. The
          book is written in non-Roman characters.
          We are in Hebrew school.

          
          The boy who is listening to the transistor radio-DANNY Gopnik-sits
          at a hinge-topped
          desk in a cinderblock classroom whose rows of desks are occupied
          by other boys and
          girls of about twelve years of age. It is dusk and the room is
          flourescent-lit.
          At the front of the room a gray-haired man in a worn suit and
          tie addresses the class.
          DANNY straightens one leg so that he may dig into a pocket. With
          an eye on the TEACHER to
          make sure he isn't being watched, he eases something out:
          A twenty-dollar bill.

          

          TEACHER
          Mee yodayah? Reuven? Rifkah? Mah zeh "anakim"?
          Efsheh mashooach ba-avodah?

          

          A BLINDING LIGHT
          At the cut to the light the Jefferson Airplane music jumps up
          full. The light resolves into
          a multi-flared image of a blinking eye.
          Reverse: the inside of a human ear. Fleshy whorls finely veined,
          a cavity receding to
          dark.
          Objective on the DOCTOR's office: the DOCTOR is peering through
          a lightscope into the ear of
          an early-middle-aged man, LARRY Gopnik.
          The Jefferson Airplane music continues.

          

          

          

          

          10

          DOCTOR
          Uh-huh.

          HEBREW SCHOOL
          Close on Hebrew characters being scribbled onto the blackboard
          as the TEACHER talks.
          The TEACHER, talking.
          A bored child, staring off.
          His point-of-view: a blacktopped parking lot with a few orange
          school busses, beyond it a
          marshy field, and distant suburban bungalows.
          Close on another child staring at something through drooping
          eyelids.
          His point-of-view: very close on the face of a classroom clock.
          We hear its electrical
          hum. Its red sweep-second hand crawls around the dial very, very
          slowly.
          DANNY Gopnik hisses:

          DANNY
          Fagle!.. .
          The TEACHER drones on, writing on the blackboard. DANNY's eyes
          flit from the TEACHER to
          the student sitting kitty-corner in front of him-a husky youth
          with shaggy hair. He
          hasn't heard the prompt.
          . Fagle!
          The TEACHER turns from the blackboard and DANNY leans back, eyes
          front, folding the
          twenty up small behind his book.

          TEACHER
          Ahnee rotzeh lalechet habait hakisai. Mee yodayah?
          Misaviv tamid anachnoo tamid...
          The clock-watching child, eyelids sinking, is beginning to drool
          out of one side of his
          mouth.

          DOCTOR'S OFFICE

          

          

          

          

          11
          The light again flaring the lens.
          Reverse: looking into a pupil.
          Objective: the DOCTOR looking through his scope into LARRY's
          eye.

          DOCTOR
          Mm-hmm.

          HEBREW SCHOOL
          A bored child is excavating a bugger from his nose.
          The TEACHER turns back to the chalkboard to circle something.

          DANNY
          Fagle!

          TEACHER
          Hamrah oomoh-
          He interrupts himself briefly to make a couple of phlegm-hawking
          sounds. He resumes:
          . Hamrah oomoh meshiach oomshel zal?

          DOCTOR'S OFFICE
          The DOCTOR palpates LARRY's midriff, digging his fingers into
          the hairy, baggy flesh.
          DOCTOR's Voice
          Uh-huh. We'll do some routine X-rays.

          HEBREW SCHOOL
          A young girl holds a hank of her bangs in front of her face,
          separating out individual hairs
          to examine them for split ends.

          TEACHER
          Ahnoo ahnoo mah? Mah? Talmidim? D'vorah?

          

          

          

          

          12

          D'VORAH
          Ahnee to yodayah.
          The TEACHER begins to pace the desk aisles, looking back and
          forth among the students.

          TEACHER
          Mee yodayah?
          The bugger-seeker, having succesfully withdrawn a bugger, carefully
          drapes it over the
          sharp end of his pencil, to what end we cannot know.
          DANNY, apprehensively eyeing the TEACHER, slides the twenty into
          the transistor radio's
          cover-sleeve.

          X-RAY CONE
          A huge white rubberized cone, pointed directly at us.
          We hear a rush of static and the DOCTOR's voice filtered through
          a talk-back:
          DOCTOR's Voice
          Hold still.
          Wider: LARRY is in his shorts lying on his back on an examining
          table covered by a sheet
          of tissue paper. The X-ray cone is pointed at the middle of his
          body.
          There is a brief sci-fi-like machine hum. It clicks off.

          HEBREW SCHOOL
          The clock-watching student's head is making descending bobs toward
          his chest.

          TEACHER
          Nefsheh shelach hamilamid-eh?!
          The TEACHER's circuit of the classroom has taken him around behind
          DANNY. DANNY's
          book lies face-down on the desk, covering the radio, but the
          white cord snakes out from
          under it up to his ear.
          The TEACHER yanks at the cord.

          

          

          

          

          13
          The cord pops out of its jack and the Jefferson Airplane blares
          tinnily from beneath the
          book of torah stories.
          The TEACHER lifts the book to expose the jangling radio.
          Outraged, the TEACHER projects above the music:
          . Mah zeh? ! Mah zeh? !
          Some of the students are singing along; a couple beat rhythm
          on their desks.
          . Shechet, talmidim! Anachnoo lo cam zeh b'bait sefer!
          Shechet bivakasha!
          Three other students join in a chorus:

          

          STUDENTS
          Shechet! Shechet bivakasha!
          The nodding student's head droops ever lower.
          Other students join in the chant:

          SHECHET! SHECHET! SHECHET BIVAKASHA!

          
          The nodding student's chin finally reaches, and settles on, his
          chest, and he gives a long
          snorfling inhale of sleep.

          

          DOCTOR'S OFFICE
          LARRY, now fully clothed, is seated across from the DOCTOR.
          The DOCTOR is looking at his file. He absently taps a cigarette
          out of a pack and lights up.
          He nods as he smokes, looking at the file.

          

          DOCTOR
          Well, I-sorry.
          He holds the pack toward LARRY.

          

          

          

          

          14

          LARRY
          No thanks.

          DOCTOR
          Well, you're in good health. How're Judith and the kids?

          LARRY
          Good. Everyone's good. You know.
          The DOCTOR takes a long suck.

          DOCTOR
          Good. Daniel must be-what? About to be bar mitzvah?

          LARRY
          Two weeks.

          DOCTOR
          Well, mazel tov. They grow up fast, don't they?

          TINTED PHOTO PORTRAIT
          The portrait, old, in an ornate gilt frame, is of a middle-aged
          rabbi with a small neat
          mustache and round spectacles. He wears a tallis hood-style and
          a phylactery box is
          strapped to his forehead. A plaque set into the frame identifies
          the man as Rabbi Minda.
          Wider shows that the portrait hangs in the Hebrew school principal's
          office, a white
          cinderblock room. It is quiet. The only sound is a deep electrical
          hum.
          Just visible behind the principal's desk, upon which is a low
          stack of books and a name
          plate identifying the occupant as MAR TURCHIK, is the top of
          a man's head-an old
          man, with a few whispy white hairs where his yarmulka is not.
          DANNY, seated opposite, pushes up from his slouch to better see
          across the desk.
          We boom up to show more of the principal. He is short. He wears
          a white shirt and
          hoist-up pants that come to just below his armpits. He has thick
          eyeglasses. He fiddles
          with the transistor radio, muttering:

          PRINCIPAL
          Hmm... eh... nu?

          

          

          

          

          15
          He experiments with different dials on the radio.
          DANNY nervously watches.

          DANNY
          You put the-
          The old man holds up one hand.

          PRINCIPAL
          In ivrit. (In Hebrew)

          DANNY
          Um...
          The old man looks down at the little earpiece pinched between
          two fingers. He examines
          it as a superstitious native might a Coca-Cola bottle.
          The source of the electrical hum: a wall clock whose red sweep-second
          hand crawls
          around the dial very, very slowly.
          The Reb continues to squint at the earpiece.
          DANNY sighs. He encourages:

          DANNY
          Yeah, you-
          The principal's tone is harder:

          PRINCIPAL
          In ivrit!
          This time his cold look holds until he is sure that the admonishment
          has registered.
          He looks back down at the earpiece.
          We hear the door open. The principal ignores it.
          An old woman walks slowly in with a teacup chattering on a saucer.
          She has thick
          eyeglasses. She wears thick flesh-colored support hose. She takes
          slow, short steps
          toward the desk. The principal is studying the radio.

          

          

          

          

          16

          PRINCIPAL
          Mneh...
          The old woman continues to take slow short steps toward him.
          The tableau looks like a
          performance-art piece.
          She reaches the desk and sets the teacup down. She summons a
          couple of phlegm-
          hawking rasps and turns to go.
          She takes slow short steps toward the door.
          The principal raises the earpiece experimentally toward his ear.
           Close on his hairy, wrinkled ear as his trembling fingers bring
          in the earpiece. The
          i f ngers push and wobble and tamp the earpiece into place, hesitate,
          and then do some
          more pushing and wobbling and tamping.
          The principal keeps DANNY fixed with a stare as his hand hesitantly
          drops from his ear,
          ready to reach back up should the earpiece loosen.
          .mneh...
          Satisfied that neither the student nor the earpiece are about
          to make any sudden moves, he
          looks down at the radio. He turns a dial.
          Faintly and tinnily from the earpiece we hear the compressed
          jangle of rock music. The
          rabbi stares blankly, listening.
          DANNY slumps, looking warily at the rabbi.
          The rabbi continues to stare down at the radio. The compressed
          rock music jangles on.
          The rabbi is expressionless, mouth slightly open, listening.
          Tableau: anxious student, earplugged spiritual leader.
          Muffled, from the outer office, the hawking of phlegm.

          CLASSROOM
          We are behind a man who writes equations on a chalkboard, shoulder
          at work and hand
          quickly waggling. Periodically he glances back, giving us a fleeting
          look at his face: it is

          

          

          

          

          17
          LARRY Gopnik.

          LARRY
          You following this?... Okay?.. So... Heh-heh... This
          part is exciting...
          Students follow along, bored.
          LARRY continues to write.
          . So, okay. So. So if that's that, then we can do this,
          right? Is that right? Isn't that right? And that's
          Schrodinger's paradox, right? Is the cat dead or is the cat
          not dead? Okay?

          BLEGEN HALL
          LARRY is entering the physics department office. The department's
          secretary wheels her
          castored chair away from her typing.

          SECRETARY
          Messages, Professor Gopnik.
          He takes the three phone messages.

          LARRY
          Thank you, Natalie. Oh-CLIVE. Come in.
          A Korean graduate student who was been waiting on a straightbacked
          chair rises.

          LARRY'S OFFICE
          He is flipping through the messages. Absently:

          LARRY
          So, uh, what can I do for you?
          The messages:
          WHILE YOU WERE OUT Dick Dutton
          OF Columbia Record Club

          

          

          

          

          18

          CALLED.
          REGARDING: "Please call."
          WHILE YOU WERE OUT Sy Ableman

          CALLED.
          REGARDING "Let's talk."
          WHILE YOU WERE OUT CLIVE Park

          CALLED.
          REGARDING: "Unjust test results."
          He crumples the last one.

          CLIVE
          Uh, Dr. Gopnik, I believe the results of Physics Mid-Term
          were unjust.

          LARRY
          Uh-huh, how so?

          CLIVE
          I received an unsatisfactory grade. In fact: F, the failing
          grade.

          LARRY
          Uh, yes. You failed the mid-term. That's accurate.

          CLIVE
          Yes, but this is not just. I was unaware to be examined on
          the mathematics.

          LARRY
          Well-you can't do physics without mathematics, really,
          can you.

          CLIVE
          If I receive failing grade I lose my scholarship, and feel
          shame. I understand the physics. I understand the dead cat.

          LARRY

          (SURPRISED)
          You understand the dead cat?

          

          

          

          

          19
          CLIVE nods gravely.
          But... you... you can't really understand the physics
          without understanding the math. The math tells how it
          really works. That's the real thing; the stories I give you in
          class are just illustrative; they're like, fables, say, to help
          give you a picture. An imperfect model. I mean-even I
          don't understand the dead cat. The math is how it really
          works.
          CLIVE shakes his head, dubious.

          CLIVE
          Very difficult... very difficult...

          LARRY
          Well, I... I'm sorry, but I... what do you propose?

          CLIVE
          Passing grade.

          LARRY
          No no, I-

          CLIVE
          Or perhaps I can take the mid-term again. Now I know it
          covers mathematics.

          LARRY
          Well, the other students wouldn't like that, would they. If
          one student gets to retake the test til he gets a grade he
          likes.
          CLIVE impassively considers this.

          CLIVE
          Secret test.
          LARRY wraps a hand wearily over his eyes.

          LARRY
          . No, I'm afraid-

          

          

          

          

          20

          CLIVE
          Hush-hush.

          LARRY
          No, that's just not workable. I'm afraid we'll just have to
          bite the bullet on this thing, CLIVE, and-

          CLIVE
          Very troubling.
          He rises.
          . very troubling...
          He goes to the door, shaking his head, as LARRY looks on in surprise.
          He leaves.
          LARRY stares at the open door. The secretary outside, her back
          to us, types on.
          LARRY. looks stupidly around his own office, shakes his head.
          He picks up the phone message from Sy Ableman-"Let's talk"-and
          dials. As he dials
          his other hand wanders over the papers on the desktop.
          There is a plain white envelope on the desk. LARRY picks it up
          as the phone rings through.
          A ring is clipped short and a warm basso-baritone rumbles through
          the line:
          Phone Voice
          Sy Ableman.

          LARRY
          Hello, Sy, LARRY Gopnik.

          SY

          (MOURNFUL)
          LARRY. How are you, my friend.
          LARRY picks idly at the envelope.

          LARRY
          Good, how've you been, Sy?

          

          

          

          

          21
          Inside the envelope: a thick sheaf of one-hundred-dollar bills.

          SY
          Oh fine. Shall we talk LARRY.
          LARRY reacts to the money.

          LARRY
          (into phone)
          What?! Oh! Sorry! I, uh-call back!
          He slams down the phone.

          . CLIVE!
          He rushes out the door, through the secretarial area, and into
          the hallway, and looks up
          toward the elevators.
          Empty.
          He looks at the stuffed envelope he still holds.
          He goes back to the departmental office. The secretary sits typing.
          She glances at him
          and, as she goes back to her typing:

          SECRETARY
          Sy Ableman just called. Said he got disconnected.

          BATHROOM DOOR
          A hand enters to knock.
          Man's Voice
          Out in a minute!
          SARAH, the sixteen-year-old girl who has just knocked, rolls
          her eyes.

          SARAH
          I gotta wash my hair! I'm going out tonight!

          VOICE
          Out in a minute!

          

          

          

          

          22

          SARAH
          Jesus Christ!
          She stomps down the hall.

          KITCHEN
          Judith, a woman of early middle age, is at the stove. SARAH enters.

          SARAH
          W is Uncle Arthur always in the bathroom?

          JUDITH
          He has to drain his sebacious cyst. You know that. Will
          you set the table?

          SARAH
          Why can't he do it in the basement? Or go out in the
          garage!

          BUS
          We are raking the exterior of an orange school bus as it rattles
          along. Hebrew characters
          on the side identify it-to some, anyway.

          INSIDE
          We are locked down on DANNY as the bus rattles like an old crate,
          squeaking, grinding
          gears, belching exhaust. DANNY and the children around him vibrate
          and pitch about but,
          from their lack of reaction, seem used to it.
          They raise their voices to be heard over the engine noise and
          the various stress noises in
          the chassis and a transistor radio somewhere that plays Jefferson
          Airplane.

          DANNY
          I had twenty bucks in it too. Inside the case.

          

          

          

          

          23
          Mark Sallerson
          Twenty bucks! How come.

          DANNY
          I bought a lid from Mike Fagle. Couple weeks ago. I still
          owed him twenty.
          Mark Sallerson
          He already gave you the pot?

          DANNY
          Yeah but a couple weeks ago my funding got cut off. Fagle
          said he'd pound the crap out of me if I didn't pay up.
          Howard Altar
          What funding got cut off? Where do you get your money?
          Another boy, with thick glasses, is Ronnie Nudell.
          Ronnie Nudell
          What happened?
          Mark Sallerson
          Rabbi Turchik took his radio. Had money in it.
          Ronnie Nudell
          That fucker!

          DANNY
          Yeah. I think he said he was confiscating it.
          Ronnie Nudell
          He's a fucker! Where do you get your money?
          Mark Sallerson
          Mike Fagle's gonna kick his ass. Last week he pounded
          the crap out of Seth Seddlemeyer.

          

          

          

          

          24
          Ronnie Nudell
          He's a fucker!
          Mark Sallerson
          Fagle? Or Seth Seddlemeyer?
          Ronnie Nudell
          They're both f ickers!

          BATHROOM DOOR
          A hand enters to knock.
          Uncle Arthur's Voice
          Out in a minute!

          SARAH
          Are you still in there?!
          Uncle Arthur
          I, uh.. . Just a minute!

          SARAH
          I've gotta wash my hair! I'm going out tonight, to the hole!
          Uncle Arthur
          Okay!

          OUTSIDE
          LARRY pulls into the driveway and gets out of the car. The purr
          of a lawn mower. He
          looks.
          His point-of-view: Gar Brandt, the next-door neighbor, is mowing
          his lawn. He has a
          buzz cut and is wearing a white T-shirt.
          Another noise competes with the lawn mower: rattling, squeaking,
          gear-grinding. The
          orange school bus with Hebrew lettering pulls up across the street.
          Its door opens with a
          pneumatic hiss to discharge a passenger.

          

          

          

          

          25

          DINNER TABLE
          LARRY sits in. His wife and two children are already seated.
          There is one empty place.
          LARRY projects:

          LARRY
          Arthur!
          A muffled voice:

          ARTHUR
          Yeah!

          LARRY
          Dinner!

          ARTHUR
          Okay! Out in a minute!

          LARRY
          We should wait.

          SARAH
          Are you kidding!
          They start eating.

          LARRY
          Mr. Brandt keeps mowing part of our lawn.

          JUDY
          Does that matter?

          LARRY
          What?

          JUDY
          Is it important?
          LARRY shrugs.

          LARRY
          It's just odd.

          

          

          

          

          26

          JUDY
          Any news on your tenure?

          LARRY
          I think they'll give me tenure.

          JUDY
          You think.

          LARRY

          (EQUABLY)
          Well, I don't know. These things aren't, you know.. .

          JUDY
          No, I don't know. Which is why I ask.

          LARRY

          WELL-

          SARAH
          Mom, how long is Uncle Arthur staying with us?

          JUDY
          Ask your father.

          BACK YARD
          Twilight.
          LARRY is stepping onto a hose as he unwheels it from the drum
          of a traveling sprinkler,
          laying out an are to cover the back yard. Intermittent thwacks
          from next door:
          Gar Brandt and his son, who also has a buzz cut and a white T-shirt,
          throw a baseball
          back and forth. Gar Brandt throws hard. The ball pops in the
          boy's mitt.

          MITCH
          Ow.
          LARRY walks over to the boundary defined by the fresh mowing.
          He sights down it.
          Gar Brandt looks over his shoulder at LARRY, looking. Gar Brandt
          is expressionless. He

          

          

          

          

          27
          goes back to throwing.

          MITCH
          Ow.

          INSIDE
          Evening. Lights on. LARRY sits at the kitchen table, a briefcase
          open on the chair next to
          him. Blue books-examination booklets-are spread on the table
          in front of him. He
          reads, occasionally making marginal scribbles, grading.
          From off, faint and dulled by intervening walls, rock music:
          somewhere in the house
          DANNY is listening to the Jefferson Airplane.
          The clink of teaspoon against china as LARRY stirs his tea. He
          looks up at a noise: JUDY
          enters.

          JUDY
          Honey.

          LARRY

          (ABSENT)
          Honey.

          JUDY
          Did you talk to Sy?
          Still absent, without looking up:

          LARRY
          Sy?-Sy Ableman!-That's right, he called, but I-

          JUDY
          You didn't talk to him.

          LARRY
          No, I-

          JUDY
          You know the problems you and I have been having.
          Sympathetic, but still absent:

          

          

          

          

          28

          LARRY
          Mm.

          JUDY
          Well, Sy and I have become very close.
          This brings LARRY's head up. He focuses on JUDY, puzzled. She
          elaborates:
          In.short: I think it's time to start talking about a divorce.
          LARRY stares at her. A long beat.
          At length, trying to digest:

          LARRY
          . Sy Ableman!

          JUDY
          This is not about Sy.

          LARRY
          You mentioned Sy!

          JUDY
          Don't twist my words. We-

          LARRY
          A divorce-what have I done! I haven't done anything-
          What have I done!

          JUDY
          LARRY, don't be a child. You haven't "done" anything. I
          haven't "done" anything.

          LARRY
          Yes! Yes! We haven't done anything! And I-I'm
          probably about to get tenure!

          JUDY
          Nevertheless, there have been problems. As you know.

          LARRY

          

          

          

          

          29

          WELL-

          JUDY
          And things have changed. And then-Sy Ableman. Sy has
          come into my life. And now-

          LARRY
          Come into your-what does that mean?! You, you, you,
          you barely know him!

          JUDY
          We've known the Ablemans for fifteen years.

          LARRY
          Yes, but you you said we hadn't done anything!
          JUDY suddenly is stony:

          JUDY
          I haven't done anything. This is not some flashy fling.
          This is not about woopsy-doopsy.
          LARRY stares at her.

          LARRY
          Sy Ableman!
          From down the hall, a knock on a door. A muffled voice:

          ARTHUR
          Out in a minute!

          JUDY
          Look, I didn't know any other way of breaking it to you.
          Except to tell you. And treat you like an adult. Is that so
          wrong?
          LARRY does not seem to be listening. His eyes roam the room as
          he thinks.

          LARRY
          Where do I sleep?
          JUDY narrows her eyes.

          

          

          

          

          30

          JUDY
          What?

          LARRY
          Arthur's on the couch!

          JUDY
          Look. Sy feels that we should-

          LARRY
          Esther is barely cold!

          JUDY
          Esther died three years ago. And it was a loveless
          marriage. Sy wants a Gett.
          This derails the conversation. LARRY stares, trying to pick up
          the thread.

          LARRY
          . A what?

          JUDY
          A ritual divorce. He says it's very important. Without a
          Gett I'm an Aguna.

          LARRY
          A what? What are you talking about?
          She turns to go, shaking her head, peeved:

          JUDY
          You always act so surprised.
          As she leaves:
          I have begged you to see the Rabbi.

          FADE IN
          LARRY has fallen asleep at the kitchen table, face-down in a
          pile of blue books. Cold blue
          light sweeps across him and he looks up.

          

          

          

          

          31
          A short, balding middle-aged man in flannel pyjamas and an old
          flannel dressing gown
          stands in front of the open refrigerator holding an open jar
          of orange juice. He tips the jar
          back to drink, his free hand holding a balled-up towel to the
          back of his neck
          LARRY stares at him.

          FADE OUT

          BLEGEN HALL
          LARRY enters the departmental office. His eyes are red-rimmed
          and dark-bagged. He has
          beard stubble.
          The department's secretary wheels her castored chair away from
          her typing.

          SECRETARY
          Messages, Professor Gopnik.
          He takes the two phone messages.

          HIS OFFICE
          LARRY looks at the messages:
          WHILE YOU WERE OUT Dick Dutton
          OF Columbia Record Club

          CALLED.
          REGARDING: "2°d attempt. Please call."
          WHILE YOU WERE OUT Sy Ableman

          CALLED.
          REGARDING "Let's have a good talk."
          A knock brings his look up.

          LARRY
          Yes-thanks for coming, CLIVE.
          CLIVE Park enters the office.

          

          

          

          

          32
          . Have a seat.
          LARRY uses a key to open the top left desk drawer. He takes out
          the envelope.
          We had, I think, a good talk, the other day, but you left
          something that-

          CLIVE
          I didn't leave it.

          LARRY
          Well--you don't even know what I was going to say.

          CLIVE
          I didn't leave anything. I'm not missing anything. I know
          where everything is.
          LARRY looks at him, trying to formulate a thought.

          LARRY
          Well... then, CLIVE, where did this come from?
          He waves the envelope.
          . This is here, isn't it?
          CLIVE looks at it gravely.

          CLIVE
          Yes, sir. That is there.

          LARRY
          This is not nothing, this is something.

          CLIVE
          Yes sir. That is something.
          A beat.
          . What is it.

          LARRY
          You know what it is! You know what it is! I believe. And

          

          

          

          

          33
          you know I can't keep it, CLIVE.

          CLIVE
          Of course, sir.

          LARRY
          I'll have to pass it on to Professor Finkle, along with my
          suspicions about where it came from. Actions have
          consequences.

          CLIVE
          Yes. Often.

          LARRY
          Always! Actions always have consequences!
          He pounds the desk for emphasis.
          In this office, actions have consequences!

          CLIVE
          Yes sir.

          LARRY
          Not just physics. Morally.

          CLIVE
          Yes.

          LARRY
          And we both know about your actions.

          CLIVE
          No sir. I know about my actions.

          LARRY
          I can interpret, CLIVE. I know what you meant me to
          understand.

          CLIVE
          Meer sir my sir.
          LARRY cocks his head.

          

          

          

          

          34

          LARRY
          . Meer sir my sir?

          CLIVE
          (careful enunciation)
          Mere... surmise. Sir.
          He gravely shakes his head.
          . Very uncertain.

          CLOSE ON A TONE ARM
          A hand lays it onto a slowly spinning vinyl record.
          Through scratches and pops, a solo tenor starts a mournful Hebrew
          chant.
          Close on the sleeve:
          Rabbi Youssele Rosenblatt Chants Your Haftorah Portion

          VOLUME 12
          Rabbi Youssele wears a caftan and a felt hat and has sad eyes.
          They peer out from the
          dark beard that covers most of the rest of his face like owl's
          eyes peering out of the
          woods.
          Wider, on DANNY, in his bedroom, evening. He lifts the tone arm
          on the portable
          turntable.
          He chants the passage.
          He drops the tone arm at the same place; Rabbi Youssele chants
          the passage again.
          DANNY listens, eyes narrowed. He lifts the tone arm and chants
          the passage again.
          He replays the passage again; before he can lift the tone arm
          to echo it his door bursts
          open. Rabbi Youssele continues to chant.

          

          

          

          

          35

          SARAH
          You little brat fucker! You snuck twenty bucks out of my
          drawer!

          DANNY
          Studying torah! Asshole!

          SARAH
          You little brat! I'm telling Dad!

          DANNY
          Oh yeah? You gonna tell him you've been sneaking it out
          of his wallet?

          SARAH
          All right, you know what I'm gonna do? You little brat? If
          you don't give it back?
          We hear the thunk of the front door opening. DANNY stands, calling:

          DANNY
          Dad?

          FOYER
          LARRY is entering with his briefcase. As he stows it in the foyer
          closet DANNY's voice
          continues, off:

          DANNY
          Dad, you gotta fix the aerial.
          Judith emerges from the kitchen.

          JUDITH
          Hello LARRY, have you thought about a lawyer?

          LARRY
          Honey, please!
          DANNY emerges from the hall.

          DANNY

          

          

          

          

          36
          We're not getting channel four at all.

          LARRY
          (to Judith)
          Can we discuss it later?

          DANNY
          I can't get F Troop.

          JUDITH
          LARRY, the children know. Do you think this is some secret?
          Do you think this is something we're going to keep quiet?
          SARAH enters.

          SARAH
          Dad, Uncle Arthur is in the bathroom again! And I=m
          going to the hole at eight!
          She hits DANNY on the back of the head.

          DANNY
          Stop it!

          LARRY
          SARAH! What's going on!

          DANNY
          She keeps doing that!

          LATER
          LARRY sits in a reclining chair in the living room, head back,
          listening to Sidor Belarsky on
          the hi-fi. On top of the music is a hissing-sucking sound. There
          is also the sound of a
          pencil busily scratching paper.
          We cut to its source: Uncle Arthur sits scribbling into a spiral
          notebook, his free hand
          holding the end of a length of surgical tubing against the back
          of his neck. The tube leads
          to a water-pik-like appliance on an end table next to him-the
          source of the sucking
          sound.
          After a long beat of listening to the music, LARRY speaks into
          space:

          

          

          

          

          37

          LARRY
          Arthur?
          Uncle Arthur does not look up from his scribbling.
          Uncle Arthur
          Yes.
          LARRY continues to stare at the ceiling.

          LARRY
          What're you doing?
          Still without looking up:
          Uncle Arthur
          Working on the Mentaculus.
          Long beat. Music. Scribbling.

          LARRY
          Any luck, um, looking for an apartment?
          More scribbling.
          Uncle Arthur
          No.
          The doorbell chimes.

          FRONT DOOR
          LARRY enters, glances through the front door's head-height window,
          and-freezes, one
          hand arrested on the way to the doorknob.
          His point-of-view: framed by the window, yellowly lit by the
          stoop light, a human head.
          A middle-aged man, a few years older than LARRY. A fleshy face
          with droopy hangdog
          features, a five-o'clock shadow, and sad Harold Bloom eyes.
          LARRY opens the door.

          

          

          

          

          38

          LARRY
          Sy.
          Sy, entering, thrusts out a hand. His voice vibrates with a warm,
          sad empathy:

          SY
          Good to see you, LARRY.
          He is a heavy-set man wearing a short-sleeved shirt that his
          belly tents out in front of
          him. In his left hand he holds a bottle of wine.

          LARRY

          (TIGHTLY)
          I'll get Judith.

          SY
          No, actually LARRY, I'm here to see you, if I might.
          He shakes his head.
          . Such a thing. Such a thing.

          LARRY
          Shall we go in the...
          He is leading him into the kitchen but Sy, oblivious to surroundings,
          plows on with the
          conversation, arresting both men in the narrow space between
          kitchen sink and stove, and
          invading LARRY's space.

          SY
          You know, LARRY-how we handle ourselves, in this
          situation-it's so impawtant.

          LARRY
          Uh-huh.

          SY
          Absolutely. Judith told me that she broke the news to you.
          She said you were very adult.

          LARRY
          Did she.

          

          

          

          

          39

          SY
          Absolutely. The respect she has for you.

          LARRY
          Yes?

          SY
          Absolutely. But the children, LARRY. The children.
          He shakes his head.
          . The most impawtant.

          LARRY
          Well, I guess...

          SY
          Of coss. And Judith says they're handling it so well. A
          tribute to you. Do you drink wine? Because this is an
          incredible bottle. This is not Mogen David. This is a wine,
          LARRY. A bawdeaux.

          LARRY
          You know, Sy-

          SY
          Open it-let it breathe. Ten minutes. Letting it breathe, so
          impawtant.

          LARRY
          Thanks, Sy, but I'm not-

          SY
          I insist! No reason for discumfit. I'll be uncumftable if
          you don't take it. These are signs and tokens, LARRY.

          LARRY
          I'm just-I'm not ungrateful, I'm, I just don't know a lot
          about wine and, given our respective, you know-
          He is startled when Sy abruptly hugs him.

          SY

          

          

          

          

          40
          S' okay.
          He finishes the hug off with a couple of thumps on the back.
          S'okay. Wuhgonnabe fine.

          SKEWED ANGLE ON PARKING LOT
          We are dutch on a slit of a view through a cracked-open frosted
          window: the Hebrew
          school parking lot.
          The last couple of busses filled with students are rolling out
          of the lot. It is late
          afternoon.
          A reverse shows DANNY in a stall, standing on a closed toilet,
          angling his head to peer out
          the bathroom window opened at the top.
          The bathroom outside the stall: Ronnie Nudell leans against a
          sink waiting, sucking a
          long draw from a joint.
          DANNY emerges from the stall. Ronnie Nudell offers the joint.
          Ronnie Nudell
          Want some of this fucker?

          HALLWAY
          The bathroom door cracks open in the foreground. DANNY peeks
          out.
          His point-of-view: the empty hallway ending in a T with another
          hallway. A janitor
          crosses, pushing a broom down the far hallway. He disappears.
          His echoing footsteps
          recede.
          DANNY and Ronny emerge from the bathroom.

          RABBI MINDA
          The photo-portrait on the wall of Mar Turchik's office lit by
          late-day sun.
          We hear a scraping sound.

          

          

          

          

          41
          Wider: Ronnie Nudell looks over DANNY's shoulder as DANNY, hunched
          at Mar Turchik's
          desk, fishes the end of a bent hanger into the keyhole on the
          top left drawer. After a beat,
          the hanger turns.
          They open the drawer. In it: squirt guns, marbles set to rolling
          by the opening of the
          drawer, a comic book, a Playboy magazine, a slingshot, a small
          bundle of firecrackers.
          Hands rifle the gewgaws: no radio.
          Ronnie Nudell
          Fuck.

          SANCTUARY
          We are behind the two boys who sit side by side on the last pew,
          staring at the front of
          the empty sanctuary. Its stained glass windows further weaken
          the late-afternoon light.
          In deference to the location, the boys wear yarmulkas.
          A long hold on their still backs.
          At length, some movement in DANNY's back, his head dips, and
          we hear him sucking on
          the joint. He holds it, exhales, and passes it wordlessly to
          Ronnie Nudell.

          SUBURBAN STREET
          We are pulling DANNY as he walks along the street, eyes red-rimmed,
          still wearing his
          yarmulka. It is dusk.
          After a few beats of walking, the front door of a house just
          behind DANNY opens. A
          husky, shaggy-haired youth emerges on the run.
          The sound has alerted DANNY. Seeing Mike Fagle, he too begins
          to run. He reaches up
          and grabs his yarmulka and clutches it in one of his pumping
          fists.
          Pursued and pursuer both run wordlessly, panting, feet pounding.
          Mike Fagle is closing. But DANNY is already cutting across the
          Brandt's front yard,
          approaching his own. He plunges into the house and slams the
          door.
          Mike Fagle draws up, panting, gazing hungrily at the house.

          

          

          

          

          42
          Lights are on inside. The house is a warm yellow citadel in the
          dusk.
          After a beat we hear, faint and dulled, the Jefferson Airplane.
          Mike Fagle slinks away.

          PUFFY WHITE CLOUDS
          A shockingly blue sky with picture-perfect clouds hanging in
          it.
          After a beat the top of an aluminum extension ladder swings in
          from the bottom of the
          frame and comes toward us.
          We cut to a side angle as the ladder clunk against a roof.
          It starts vibrating to the rhythmic clung of someone climbing.
          Hands enter. LARRY's head enters.
          He climbs onto the roof.
          He takes a couple steps away from the edge and stands tentatively,
          making sure of his
          balance. He looks around.
          His point-of-view towards the front. An unfamiliarly high perspective
          on the street and
          the neighboring houses, almost maplike. Very peaceful. Wind rhythmically,
          gently
          waves the trees.
          LARRY gingerly walks up to the aerial at the peak of the roof.
          We are hearing a rhythmic
          popping noise.
          LARRY reaches the peak and straddles it. He looks down at the
          back yard.

          MITCH
          Ow.
          Foreshortened Gar Brandt and Mitch are playing catch in their
          back yard. With each toss
          the ball pops, alternately in father's mitt and son's.
          Precariously balanced, LARRY reaches out for the aerial. He tentatively
          touches it. He
          grasps it. He twists the aerial.

          

          

          

          

          43
          Something strange: as it rotates the aerial creaks-a high whine
          as pure as the hum
          sounded from the rim of a wineglass.

          MITCH
          Ow.
          Faintly, under the wineglass sound, and clouded by static, a
          high, ringing tenor sings in
          an unfamiliar modality. Cantorial music.
          LARRY drops his hand. Inertia keeps the aerial rotating slowly
          til it dies, the sound drifting
          away into the sybillant shushing of trees.
          LARRY reaches out again to turn the aerial. The same crystal
          hum... cantorial singing...
          and now, layering in, the theme from F Troop.
          Music. Crystal hum. Wind.

          MITCH
          Ow.
          LARRY's look travels: his point-of-view pans slowly off the steep
          angle of father and son
          playing catch, travels across his own backyard, and brings in
          the white fence that
          encloses the patio of the neighbor on the other side.
          Gar (off)
          Good toss, Mitch.
          On the enclosed patio a woman reclines on a lawn chaise of nylon
          bands woven over an
          aluminum frame. She is on her back, eyes closed against the sun.
          She is naked.
          Mitch (off)
          Ow.
          LARRY reacts to the naked woman: startled at first, he moves
          to hide behind the peak of the
          roof. But as he realizes that the sun keeps the woman's eyes
          closed he relaxes, continu-
          ing to stare.
          She is attractive. Not young, not old: LARRY's age. Peaceful.
          After a still beat one of her hands gropes blindly to the side.
          It finds an ashtray on the
          table next to her and takes from it a pluming cigarette. The
          woman takes a puff and
          replaces it.

          

          

          

          

          44
          Mitch (off)
          Ow.
          F Troop. Cantorial singing.
          Blue sky and white puffy clouds.
          The sound of a pencil scratching against paper.

          NOTEBOOK
          A pencil scratches equations into a lamplit spiral notebook.
          Sidor Belarsky comes in at the cut. So does the spluttering suck-sound
          of Uncle Arthur's
          evacuator.
          Wider on Uncle Arthur, in his pyjamas, propped up on the narrow
          fold-out sofa, writing
          with one hand as he holds the evacuator hose to his neck with
          the other.
          Squeezed into the living room next to the fold-out sofa is a
          camp cot of plaid-patterned
          nylon stretched over an aluminum frame. On the camp cot is LARRY,
          lying half-in, half-
          out of a rumpled sleeping bag. He stares at the ceiling, a damp
          washcloth pressed against
          his forehead. His face is flaming red.
          Arthur speaks absently as he scribbles:

          ARTHUR
          Will you read this? Tell me what you think?
          LARRY continues to stare at the ceiling.

          LARRY
          Okay.
          Uncle Arthur glances up from the notebook, focuses on LARRY.

          ARTHUR
          Boy. You should've worn a hat.

          LATER

          

          

          

          

          45
          The lights are out. Very quiet. Uncle Arthur lightly snores.
          LARRY still stares at the ceiling. He shifts his weight. The
          aluminum frame of the cot
          squeaks. He shifts again. Another creak.
          LARRY fishes his watch from the jumble of clothes on the floor:
          4:50.

          KITCHEN
          LARRY, in his underwear, spoons ground coffee into the percolator.
          Uncle Arthur snores
          softly on in the other room.
          From outside, a dull thunk.
          LARRY pulls back a curtain.
          Next door, Gar Brandt is going down the walk, wearing camouflage
          togs and camo billed
          cap, a rifle bag slung over his shoulder. He is carrying an ice
          chest, its contents clicking
          and sloshing.
          The boy Mitch, also wearing camo clothes and cap and also with
          a rifle bag, has just
          closed the front door. He now lets the screen door swing shut
          behind him and follows his
          father down the walk to the car in the driveway.
          The twitter of early morning birds. Gar's voice, though not projected,
          stands out in the
          pre-dawn quiet:

          GAR
          Let's see some hustle, Mitch.

          CLOSE ON THE NOTEBOOK
          Its top sheet, densely covered by equations, has a heading:
          The Mentaculus
          Compiled by Arthur Gopnik
          After a beat LARRY's hand enters to turn the page. The second
          page is also densely
          covered with equations.

          

          

          

          

          46

          VOICE

          LARRY?
          This brings LARRY's look up from the Mentaculus. We are in LARRY's
          office. Standing in
          the office doorway is Arlen Finkle.

          LARRY
          Hi Arlen.
          Arlen Finkle
          LARRY, I feel that, as head of the tenure committee I should
          tell you this, though it should be no cause for concern. You
          should not be at all worried.
          LARRY waits for more. Arlen seems to need a prompt.

          LARRY
          Okay.
          Arlen Finkle
          I feel I should mention it even though we won't give this
          any weight at all in considering whether to grant you
          tenure, so, I repeat no cause for concern.

          LARRY
          Okay, Arlen. Give what any weight?
          Arlen Finkle
          We have received some letters, uh... denigrating you, and,
          well, urging that we not grant you tenure.

          LARRY
          From who?
          Arlen Finkle
          They're anonymous. And so of course we dismiss them
          completely.

          LARRY
          Well... well... what do they say?
          Arlen Finkle
          They make allegations, not even allegations, assertions, but

          

          

          

          

          47
          I'm not really... while we give them no credence, LARRY,
          I'm not supposed to deal in any specifics about the
          committee's deliberations.

          LARRY
          But... I think you're saying, these won't play any part in
          your deliberations.
          Arlen Finkle
          None at all.

          LARRY
          Um, so what are they...
          Arlen Finkle
          Moral turpitude. You could say.

          LARRY
          Uh-huh. Can I ask, are they, are they-idiomatic?
          Arlen Finkle
          I, uh...

          LARRY
          The reason I ask, I have a Korean student, South Korean,
          disgruntled South Korean, and I meant to talk to you about
          this, actually, he-
          Arlen Finkle
          No. No, the letters are competently-even eloquently
          written. A native English-speaker. No question about
          that.

          LARRY
          Uh-huh.
          Arlen Finkle
          But I reiterate this, LARRY: no cause for concern. I only
          speak because I would have felt odd concealing it.

          LARRY
          Yes, okay, thank you Arlen.

          

          

          

          

          48
          Arlen Finkle
          Best to Judith.
          LARRY answers with a wan smile. He looks down at the Mentaculus.

          HEBREW SCHOOL EXTERIOR
          Day. Somewhere inside the school a bell rings. Its doors swing
          open and children
          emerge.
          Our angle is down a line of school busses, each with the the
          same stenciled Hebrew
          lettering, waiting to ferry the children home.
          We are tracking toward the busses to steepen the rake. As children
          sort themselves out
          and climb into their respective vehicles, the track brings the
          nearest bus into the fore-
          ground. It noisily idles with its signature squeaks and stress
          sounds, its low coughing
          engine ominously rumbling. Children start climbing on.

          MINUTES LATER
          Inside the bus, now moving. Engine noise bangs in louder and
          air roars in through open
          windows.
          We are on the driver, a sallow man in a short-sleeved white shirt
          with earlocks and a
          yarmulke. He pitches about, stoically wrestling with the wheel
          and gear shift as the
          vehicle bucks.
          The pitching children. Somewhere, Jefferson Airplane plays.

          DANNY
          I gotta get my radio back.
          Ronnie Nudell
          Maybe the fucker lodged it up his fucking asshole.

          DANNY
          I gotta get it back. Or Mike Fagle's gonna pound the crap
          out of me.
          Ronnie Nudell

          

          

          

          

          49
          Way up his asshole.

          DANNY
          And I'll still have to get my sister the money back or she's
          gonna break four of my records. Twenty bucks, four
          records.
          Howard Altar
          How do you buy all those records. Where do you get your
          funds.

          CLOSE ON LARRY
          Standing in his yard. His eyes are darkly pouched. He is staring
          at something, it seems
          in distress. We hear a fluttering sound.
          His point-of-view: stakes are set out in the Brandts' yard. Red
          ribbon connecting them
          outlines a projection from the side of the house. The loose ends
          of the ribbon flutter in
          the breeze.
          Engine noise brings LARRY's look around. A car is arriving.
          It is the Brandts' car, oddly burdened. As it pulls into their
          driveway we see that there is
          a four-point stag strapped to the hood, its head lolling over
          the grille.
          Gar and Mitch get out of the car in their hunting fatigues. Blood
          is smeared on Gar's
          shirt.

          GAR
          Go scrub up, Mitch.

          LARRY
          Uh, good afternoon.
          This brings Gar's look around. Apparently he is unused to talking
          with his neighbor.
          There is a short beat before his response.

          GAR
          Afternoon.
          In the background of his angle is the dead buck, staring off
          through sightless eyes.

          

          

          

          

          50

          LARRY

          (LAMELY)
          . Been hunting?

          GAR
          Yep.

          LARRY
          Is that a, uh...
          He is indicating the staked area. Gar looks around at it, looks
          back at LARRY.

          GAR
          Gonna be a den.

          LARRY
          Uh-huh, that's great. Uh, Mr. Brandt-
          Gar barks at Mitch, who has lingered to listen to the grown-ups:

          GAR
          I said scrub up, Mitch!
          The child quickly goes. LARRY frowns.

          LARRY
          Isn't this a school day?

          GAR
          Took him out of school today. So he could hunt with his
          dad.

          LARRY
          Oh!
          He nods.
          . That's.. . nice.
          Gar stares at him with button eyes. Small talk is not his thing.
          LARRY clears his throat.

          

          

          

          

          51
          . Um, Mr. Brandt, that's just about at the property line,
          there. I don't think we're supposed to get within, what, ten

          FEET

          GAR
          Property line's the poplar.

          LARRY
          . the. ?

          GAR
          Poplar!

          LARRY
          . Well.. . even if it is, you're just about over it

          GAR
          Measure.
          We hear two pairs of pounding footsteps coming up the street.

          LARRY
          I don't have to measure, you can tell it's...

          GAR
          Line's the poplar.
          He indicates.
          . It's all angles.
          Gar Brandt turns and goes.
          LARRY turns, reacting to the pounding footsteps. One of the two
          pairs belongs to DANNY
          who arrives, slowing to a walk, panting, a bookbag over his shoulder.
          A half-block back the pursuing boy also stops running. Husky,
          shaggy-haired, he
          watches, scowling, as DANNY goes up the walk to his house.
          LARRY addresses DANNY's retreating back:

          

          

          

          

          52

          LARRY
          What's going on?

          DANNY
          Nothing.

          IN THE HOUSE
          As LARRY enters.
          Judith (ofj)

          LARRY?

          LARRY

          (PROJECTING)
          Yeah?
          Judith (ofj)
          Did you go to Sieglestein Schlutz?
          No, I-not yet.

          LARRY.
          Appointment Monday.
          The thud of a car door outside.
          SARAH heads for the front door, pulling on a jacket. LARRY is
          surprised.
          . Where are you going?

          SARAH
          I'm going to the hole.

          LARRY
          At five o'clock?
          He looks out the front-door window. Four girls of SARAH's age
          are coming up the walk

          

          

          

          

          53
          from the car. All have dark hair and big noses.

          SARAH
          We're stopping at Laurie Kipperstein's house so I can wash
          my hair.
          LARRY pulls open the door just as the doorbell rings. From the
          four dark girls:

          VOICES
          Hi, Mr. Gopnik.

          LARRY
          You can't wash it here?
          From somewhere in the house, Jefferson Airplane starts.
          As she brushes past LARRY:

          SARAH
          Uncle Arthur's in the bathroom.

          VOICE
          Out in a minute!
          Judith enters.

          JUDITH
          Are you ready?

          LARRY
          Huh?

          JUDITH
          We're meeting Sy at Embers.

          LARRY
          I am?

          JUDITH
          Both of us. I told you.

          EMBERS

          

          

          

          

          54
          LARRY has his arms pinned at his sides by hugging Sy Ableman.

          SY
          LARRY. How are you.

          LARRY
          Sy.

          SY
          Hello Judith.

          JUDITH
          Hello Sy.
          Once Sy releases LARRY, all seat themselves at Sy's booth, Judith
          next to Sy, LARRY
          facing.

          SY
          Thank you for coming, LARRY. It's so impawtant that we be
          able to discuss these things.

          LARRY
          I'm happy to come to Embers, Sy, but, I'm thinking, really,
          maybe it's best to leave these discussions to the lawyers.

          SY
          Of coss! Legal matters, let the lawyers discuss! Don't mix
          apples and oranges!

          JUDITH
          I've beamed you to see the lawyer.

          LARRY
          (teeth grit)
          I told you, I'm going Monday.

          SY
          Monday is timely! This isn't-please!-Embers isn't the
          forum for legalities, you are so right!

          JUDITH
          Hmph.

          

          

          

          

          55

          SY
          No, Judith and I thought merely we should discuss the
          practicalities, the living arrangements, a situation that will
          conduce to the comfit of all the parties. This is an issue
          where no one is at odds.
          LARRY isn't sure where this is leading:

          LARRY
          . Living arrangements.

          SY
          Absolutely. I think we all agree, the children not being
          contaminated by the tension-the most impawtant.

          JUDITH
          We shouldn't put the kids in the middle of this, LARRY.

          LARRY
          The kids aren't-

          JUDITH
          I'm saying "we." I'm not pointing fingers.

          SY
          No one is playing the "blame game," LARRY.

          LARRY
          I didn't say anyone was!

          JUDITH
          Well let's not play He said, She said, either.

          LARRY
          I wasn't! I. ---

          SY
          Aw right, well let's just step back, and defuse the situation,

          LARRY.
          LARRY glares at Sy.

          

          

          

          

          56
          Sy smiles at him, sadly. He reaches over and rests a hand on
          LARRY's hand.
          . I find, sometimes, if I count to ten.
          A beat.
          One... two... three... faw... Or silently.
          Long beat.

          JUDITH
          Really, to keep things on an even keel, especially now,
          leading up to DANNY's bar mitzvah-

          SY
          A child's bar mitzvah, LARRY!

          JUDITH
          Sy and I think it's best if you move out of the house.

          LARRY
          . Move out?!

          SY
          It makes eminent sense.

          JUDITH
          Things can't continue as they-

          LARRY
          Move out! Where would I go?!

          SY
          Well, for instance, the Jolly Roger is quite livable. Not
          expensive, and the rooms are eminently livable.

          JUDITH
          This would allow you to visit the kids.

          SY
          There's convenience in its fava. There's a pool-

          LARRY

          

          

          

          

          57
          Wouldn't it make more sense for you to move in with Sy?
          Judith and Sy gape at him, shocked.
          After a long beat:

          JUDITH

          LARRY!

          SY
          LARRY, you're jesting!

          JUDITH
          LARRY, there is much to accomplish before that can happen.
          Sy is sadly shaking his head.

          SY
          LARRY, LARRY, LARRY. I think, really, the Jolly Roger is the
          appropriate coss of action.
          He shrugs.
          It has a pool.

          IN BLACK AND WHITE: A BRAIN
          It sits in a large fishbowl filled with clear fluid.
          The brain, alive, pulses. Leads connect it to various pieces
          of gear outside the fishbowl.
          Brain and appurtenances sit on a dais of sorts dressed out with
          bunting.
          Oddly, the picture is scored with cantorial singing.
          The brain seems to be giving orders to people who wear imperfectly
          form-fitting 1950's
          uniforms of the future. After receiving their instructions the
          minions of the brain
          kowtow before it and leave. They are succeeded by two leather-helmeted
          thugs, big and
          heavy though lacking muscle definition, who escort a resisting
          handsome man before the
          brain. The handsome man, hands tied behind his back, gazes defiantly
          up at the brain
          which in some fashion addresses him.
          We hear blows and voices over the cantorial music:

          

          

          

          

          58

          DANNY
          Stop it!

          SARAH
          Creep fucker!

          DANNY
          Stop it! I'm getting it! I'm gonna get it!
          Wider shows that the brain is on television, which DANNY has
          muted while he plays the
          Cantor Youssele Rosenblatt record and drills his torah portion.
          He and SARAH are in a
          stand-off, hands tensed to either deliver or ward off blows.

          SARAH
          Brat!
          LARRY enters.

          LARRY
          What's going on?

          SARAH

          (LEAVING)
          Nothing.
          She closes the door behind her.

          LARRY
          What was that?

          DANNY
          Nothing.

          LARRY
          How's the haftorah coming? Can you maybe use the hi-fi?

          DANNY
          What?
          We hear the doorbell off. LARRY indicates the portable record
          player.

          LARRY

          

          

          

          

          59
          Can I borrow this? I'm taking some stuff. To, you know,
          the Jolly Rodger.

          DANNY
          Sure Dad.
          On TV, the handsome man shouts defiance at the brain.
          From off, SARAH projects:

          SARAH
          Dad. Chinese guy.

          ASIAN MAN
          A middle-aged Korean man, well groomed. He wears a nicely cut
          suit and a jeweled tie-
          pin.

          MAN
          Culcha clash.
          He bangs his two knuckles together, illustrating.
          . Culcha clash.
          He faces LARRY in the driveway. LARRY's car is half-loaded with
          open boxes that are
          haphazardly stuffed with clothing and effects.
          LARRY is leaning against the hood, arms folded, gazing at the
          man, unimpressed. A long
          beat.
          Finally he bestirs himself.

          LARRY
          With all respect, Mr. Park, I don't think it's that.
          Mr. Park
          Yes.

          

          

          

          

          60

          LARRY
          No. It would be a culture clash if it were the custom in
          your land to bribe people for grades.
          Mr. Park
          Yes.

          LARRY
          So-you're saying it is the custom?
          Mr. Park
          No. This is defamation. Grounds for lawsuit.

          LARRY
          You-let me get this straight-you're threatening to sue
          me for defaming your son?
          Mr. Park
          Yes.

          LARRY
          But it would-
          Gar Brandt
          Is this man bothering you.
          Gar Brandt stands on the strip of lawn separating the two neighbors.
          He is giving Mr.
          Park a hard stare.

          LARRY
          Is he bothering me? No. We're fine. Thank you, Mr.
          Brandt.
          Gar Brandt, not entirely convinced, withdraws, glaring at the
          Korean.
          LARRY turns back to Mr. Park.
          . I, uh. . See, if it were defamation there would have to
          be someone I was defaming him to, or I... All right, I...
          let's keep it simple. I could pretend the money never
          appeared. That's not defaming anyone.

          

          

          

          

          BL
          Mr. Park
          Yes. And passing grade.

          LARRY
          Passing grade.
          Mr. Park
          Yes.

          LARRY
          Or you'll sue me.
          Mr. Park
          For taking money.

          LARRY
          So.. . he did leave the money.
          Mr. Park
          This is defamation.
          LARRY stares at him.

          LARRY
          Look. It doesn't make sense. Either he left the money or
          he didn't
          Mr. Park
          Please. Accept mystery.

          LARRY
          You can't have it both ways! If
          Mr. Park
          Why not.
          LARRY stares.
          We hear Sidor Belarsky music.

          RECORD PLAYER

          

          

          

          

          62
          Sidor Belarsky's singing crosses the cut. The tone arm of DANNY's
          portable record
          player rides on a spinning LP.
          Wider shows LARRY grading bluebooks at a small formica table
          crowded into a corner of
          his motel room. It is a depressingly generic budget motel room
          of the mid-sixties with
          cheaply paneled walls, thin carpet, formica night tables, plastic
          lamps, and twin beds
          with stained nubby bedspreads.
          The phone rings.

          LARRY
          Hello...
          He brightens.
          . Fine, Mimi, how are you?... Uh-huh... No, it's not
          that bad... It's not that bad... There's a pool...
          Arthur emerges from an alcove in the dim depth of the room that
          has a dressing-room
          mirror and apparently connects to the bathroom. He has a hand
          towel pressed to the
          back of his neck.
          . Oh sure, that sounds great. . . Oh, great, then I'll bring

          DANNY...

          LAKE NOKOMIS
          The beach: families are crowded onto the small beach of a freshwater
          lake, children
          cavorting, adults lounging, much sun, few umbrellas. Red floats
          connected by red nylon
          rope define a swimming area; beyond it people dive from an anchored
          raft.
          Splashing and children's laughter slap off the surface of the
          lake.

          WOODS
          Above the lake. The beach noise has some distance. It also has
          a faintly bizarre canyon
          echo. There is a present, sybillant shushing of breeze in the
          trees.
          It is dark here with intense hot spots where sun sifts through
          the leaf cover. We are close
          on DANNY, who sits very still, leaning back against a tree trunk.

          

          

          

          

          63
          After a very long beat he slowly exhales, a small amount of smoke
          feathering out with his
          breath.

          VOICE
          Gimme that fucker.
          DANNY passes the joint to Ronnie Nudell, who sits opposite.

          PICNIC AREA
          On a woodless rise above the lake. Each of the separate picnic
          areas consist of a redwood
          table and benches placed next to a firepit.
          Here in the sun both LARRY and Mel Nudell, a man slightly older
          than LARRY, glisten with
          sweat. Mel, in the background, bounces a bag of charcoal briquettes
          to spill some into
          the firepit. LARRY sits at the table in the foreground with Mimi
          Nudell who alone seems
          unaffected by the heat-or by anything else in the physical environment.
          Her pale,
          gravely composed Giacometti face is shaded by a large-brimmed
          hat.

          LARRY
          No. Almost a year and a half since Touche Ross let him
          go. He's very good with numbers. I think his, his social
          skills have held him back.

          MIMI
          Such a sweet man though.

          LARRY
          Arthur has a good heart. And he never complains, unlike
          me. Sometimes I don't give him enough credit.

          MIMI
          He tried to tell me about this thing he's working on, this,
          um...

          LARRY
          The Mentaculus? He says it's a, uh. a probability map.
          Of the universe. He asked if I could help him publish it.
          Um, it was a little hard for me to evaluate.

          

          

          

          

          64
          A beat.

          MIMI
          Does he go out socially at all?

          LARRY
          He tries. He's been going to the singles mixers at Hillel
          House.-Well, I should talk, I'm not doing any better.

          MIMI
          How is Judith?

          LARRY
          Fine. She's fine. I'm the odd man out.
          Mimi smiles.

          MIMI
          Sometimes these things just aren't meant to be. And it can
          take a while before you feel what was always there, for
          better or worse.

          LARRY
          I never felt it! It was a bolt from the blue! What does that
          mean! Everything that I thought was one way turns out to
          be another!

          MIMI
          Then-it's an opportunity to learn how things really are.
          LARRY broods. Mimi softens.
          . I'm sorry-I don't mean to sound glib. It's not always
          easy, deciphering what God is trying to tell you.

          LARRY
          I'll say.

          MIMI
          But it's not something you have to figure out all by your-
          self. We're Jews, we have that well of tradition to draw on,
          to help us understand. When we're puzzled we have all the

          

          

          

          

          65
          stories that have been handed down from people who had
          the same problems.

          LARRY
          I guess.

          MIMI
          Have you talked to Rabbi Nachtner?
          Silence.
          Arthur is climbing the hill from the lake, dripping wet. He projects:

          ARTHUR
          Boy! The air out here is magnificent!
          Mimi, looking at LARRY, responds to his dark silence:

          MIMI
          Why not see him?
          Mel Nudell has finished spreading and lighting the coals. He
          now comes and sits next to
          Mimi, draping an arm over her shoulder. She strokes his hand,
          still looking at LARRY.

          LARRY
          What's the rabbi gonna tell me?

          MIMI
          If I knew I'd be the rabbi.
          He looks at her glumly. She laughs.
          . Life is beautiful, LARRY. Nobody's sick. Nobody died.
          You just need help remembering how to enjoy it.
          She rests her head against Mel's shoulder.
          . Where are the kids?

          MEL
          Woods. Exploring.
          Uncle Arthur approaches, swim trunks plastered to his thighs,
          hair dripping, one hand

          

          

          

          

          66
          pressing his towel to the back of his neck.

          ARTHUR
          If somebody could bottle this air they'd make a million
          bucks!
          A white title comes up:
          The First Rabbi

          SYNAGOGUE OFFICE ANTEROOM
          Day. LARRY sits waiting. A door opens and he rises.

          LARRY
          Oh-Rabbi Scott.
          Rabbi Scott Ginzler is the junior rabbi, a man in his twenties.
          Rabbi Scott
          Hello LARRY.

          LARRY
          I thought I was going to see Rabbi Nachtner.
          Rabbi Scott
          He was called away on an etz monim: Ruth Brynn's mother
          is in the hospital and she isn't doing well. Rabbi Nachtner
          asked me to cover for him-come on in.

          RABBI SCOTT'S OFFICE
          A few minutes later. LARRY sits tensely hunched forward facing
          Rabbi Scott.

          LARRY
          And she wants a Gett.
          A long silence. The hum of ventilation.
          At length:

          

          

          

          

          67
          Rabbi Scott
          A what?

          LARRY
          She wants a-
          Rabbi Scott
          Oh, a Gett. Uh-huh, sure.

          LARRY
          I feel like the carpet's been yanked out from under me. I
          don't know which end is up. I'm not even sure how to
          react; I'm too confused.
          Rabbi Scott
          What reasons did she give? For the rupture?

          LARRY
          She didn't give-reasons. Just that, oh, you know, things
          haven't been going well.
          Rabbi Scott
          And is that true?

          LARRY
          I guess. I don't know. She's usually right about these
          things.
          Rabbi Scott
          Mm-hm.

          LARRY
          I feel so... addled.
          Rabbi Scott
          Yes, I can see.

          LARRY
          I was hoping that... Rabbi Nachtner...
          Rabbi Scott
          That he would... yes?

          

          

          

          

          68

          LARRY
          Well, with the benefit of his life experience... no

          OFFENSE-
          Rabbi Scott chuckles.
          Rabbi Scott
          No, of course not. I am the junior rabbi. And it's true, the
          point-of-view of somebody who's older and perhaps had
          similar problems might be more valid. And you should see
          the senior rabbi as well, by all means. Or even Minda if
          you can get in, he's quite busy. But maybe-can I share
          something with you? Because I too have had the feeling of
          losing track of Hashem, which is the problem here. I too
          have forgotten how to see Him in the world. And when
          that happens you think, well, if I can't see Him, He isn't
          there any more, He's gone. But that's not the case. You
          just need to remember how to see Him. Am I right?
          He rises and goes to the window.
          I mean, the parking lot here. Not much to see.
          It is a different angle on the same parking lot we saw from the
          Hebrew school window.
          But if you imagine yourself a visitor, somebody who
          isn't familiar with these... autos and such... somebody
          still with a capacity for wonder... Someone with a fresh...
          perspective. That's what it is, LARRY.

          LARRY
          Um...
          Rabbi Scott
          Because with the right perspective you can see Hashem,
          you know, reaching into the world. He is in the world, not
          just in shul. It souunds to me like you're looking at the
          world, looking at your wife, through tired eyes. It sounds
          like she's become a sort of... thing... a problem... a
          thing...

          LARRY
          Well, she's, she's seeing Sy Ableman.

          

          

          

          

          69
          Rabbi Scott
          Oh.

          LARRY
          She's, they're planning, that's why they want the Gett.
          Rabbi Scott
          Oh. I'm sorry.

          LARRY
          It was his idea.
          Rabbi Scott
          Well, they do need a Gett to remarry in the faith. But this
          is life. For you too. You can't cut yourself off from the
          mystical or you'll be-you'll remain-completely lost.
          You have to see these things as expressions of God's will.
          You don't have to like it, of course.

          LARRY
          The boss isn't always right, but he's always the boss.
          Rabbi Scott
          Ha-ha-ha! That's right, things aren't so bad. Look at the
          parking lot, LARRY.
          Rabbi Scott gazes out, marveling.
          . Just look at that parking lot.

          EXTERIOR: GOPNIK HOUSE
          Our low angle looks across the lawn toward the front of the house.
          Someone's pounding
          footsteps approach and his feet enter just off the lens and he
          quickly recedes, cropping in
          as he races up to the house: DANNY.
          A beat later pursuing feet enter, slowing-for DANNY is already
          mounting the front
          stoop. DANNY's pursuer does not go deep enough to crop in but
          we might gather from
          the size eleven sneakers and the cuffed jeans that it is hulking
          Mike Fagle.

          

          

          

          

          70

          GOPNIK KITCHEN
          We hear the front door being flung open and slammed shut, and
          in the background foyer
          DANNY appears, panting heavily. He gives one glance back toward
          the front door and
          then looks at his mother and sister eating soup in the foreground.
          His sister has a towel
          wrapped turbanlike around her head. She holds it with one hand
          to keep it from tipping
          off when she tilts her head down for the soup.

          DANNY
          (still panting)
          We eating already?

          SARAH
          I'm going to the hole.
          DANNY enters the kitchen and sits at the setting across from
          his sister. He picks up his
          spoon.
          Some movement in SARAH's body; DANNY recoils from a kick.

          DANNY
          Ow! Cut it out!

          JUDITH
          What's going on?
          The siblings slurp soup, neither answering.
          After a couple slurps:
          . Isn't Dad eating?

          JUDITH
          He's at the Jolly Roger.

          DANNY
          Oh yeah.
          More eating.

          FADE OUT

          

          

          

          

          71

          SIEGLESTEIN, SCHLUTZ
          In a small windowless conference room lined by bookshelves filled
          with law reference
          books, LARRY rises to greet Don Milgram, entering.

          LARRY
          Don.

          DON
          How are you, LARRY, Jesus, I am so sorry to be seeing you
          under these circumstances.

          LARRY
          Oh, well...

          DON
          I always thought you and JUDY were rock solid. This is so
          terrible, LARRY. This is devastating.

          LARRY
          Well, the way I look at it, it's an opportunity for me to
          really sit down and figure things out, and, and, look at the
          world afresh instead of just, you know, settling for the
          routine, tired old way of looking at things.
          Don Milgram stares at him.

          DON
          . Really?

          LARRY

          (DEFLATING)
          I don't know. Maybe not.

          DON
          Well, legally, I have to warn you, it's never easy for the
          husband. Unless, of course, there's some question of the
          wife having violated the marriage contract.

          LARRY
          Oh no, nothing like that. She's planning to marry Sy
          Ableman, but they-

          

          

          

          

          72

          DON
          Sy Ableman!

          LARRY
          Yes, but they-

          DON
          Esther is barely cold!

          LARRY
          She passed three years ago.

          DON
          Well, okay, still-this changes the complexion, LARRY! Sy
          Ableman!

          LARRY
          Not in the sense that... there hasn't been hanky-panky. To
          my knowledge.

          DON
          Oh.

          LARRY
          No. I'm fairly certain this is not an issue. And in fact they,
          uh, Judith wants a Gett.
          Beat. Don stares blankly at LARRY.
          LARRY clears his throat.
          A ritual divorce.

          DON
          Oh.

          LARRY
          So that they can remarry in the faith-

          DON
          Uh-huh, sure, not really a legal matter. Okay. Well. My
          goodness. How are the children taking it?

          

          

          

          

          73

          LARRY
          Oh, they're very...
          He gropes.
          . resilient.

          DON
          Good. Well. On the other thing, the neighbor's property
          line, I've asked Solomon Schlutz to take a look. There's
          very little having to do with real estate that'll get by Sol.

          LARRY
          Okay. Good. How do you-I guess I'm a little worried,
          how do you, I have money pressures and-

          DON
          Our fee structure? We bill by the hour. Dave Sieglestein
          and Solomon Schlutz bill at a hundred and ten, the associ-
          ates, me for instance, bill at
          A secretary sticks her head in.

          SECRETARY
          A call for Mr. Gopnik. DANNY. At home.

          LARRY

          DANNY? !

          DON
          You can take it here.

          SECRETARY
          Oh-eight-oh-nine.
          LARRY punches a button on a row of four on the conference-room
          telephone.

          LARRY

          DANNY? !

          VOICE
          Dad?

          

          

          

          

          74

          LARRY
          Are you all right? Are you all-is everything-

          VOICE
          F Troop is fuzzy.

          LARRY
          . What?

          VOICE
          F Troop is still fuzzy.
          LARRY stares.

          DON
          Everything okay?

          DAWN AT THE JOLLY ROGER
          Wide on the motel room, dimly lit by weak sun starting to seep
          in around the curtain.
          LARRY sleeps in one of the twin beds; Uncle Arthur snores in
          the other.
          Uncle Arthur's breath snags and tangles on a snorfling inhale
          and it wakes him, gagging.
          He blinks, sits up, swings his legs out, gazes blearily around
          the room.
          He rises stiffly and heads for the bathroom.
          LARRY stirs. The sound of Uncle Arthur urinating. LARRY looks
          blearily around.
          LARRY stiffly rises. He takes the two steps across the room to
          the formica desk on which
          are spread papers for his class. As we hear the sucking sound
          of the neck evacuator in
          the bathroom, LARRY sweeps papers together and mechanically stuffs
          his briefcase.

          CAR
          LARRY is driving, hollow-eyed, to work.
          After a long beat of staring, the ka-ching of a bicycle bell.

          

          

          

          

          75
          LARRY's eyes widen and his head swivels, tracking as he overtakes
          and passes:
          The bicyclist. A young Asian man wearing a white traffic-mask.
          LARRY looks at him in the rear-view.

          LARRY

          CLIVE!
          He starts frantically pumping down his window, shouting:
          . CLIVE! You gonna send your mother next?! You little
          bastard! I wanna see you! I wanna-
          Crash.
          He has rear-ended someone.
          A blaring horn, a quick second crash: wrenching steel and spattering
          glass.
          He has been rear-ended in turn.
          The ka-ching of the bicycle. CLIVE Park cycles past without looking.

          BLEGEN HALL
          LARRY enters the outer office, hugging his paper-stuffed briefcase
          to his chest.
          The secretary is just crooking the phone into her shoulder.

          SECRETARY
          Oh-Professor Gopnik. It's Dick Dutton again.

          LARRY

          (BLANK)
          Dick Dutton.

          LARRY'S OFFICE
          He sits in and picks up the phone.

          

          

          

          

          76

          LARRY
          Hello?

          VOICE
          Hello, Mr. Gopnik, this is Dick Dutton from the Columbia
          Record Club. I'm calling because it is now, what, four
          months and we have yet to receive your first payment.

          LARRY
          I-there's some mistake. I'm not a member of the
          Columbian Record Club.

          VOICE
          Sir, you are Lawrence Gopnik of 1425 Flag Avenue South?

          LARRY
          No, I live at the Jolly Roger.

          VOICE
          Excuse me?

          LARRY
          No, I-well, yes, okay.

          VOICE
          Yes you are Lawrence Gopnik?

          LARRY
          Okay.

          VOICE
          Okay means...

          LARRY
          Okay, yes, Lawrence Gopnik, yes.

          VOICE
          Okay, well, you received your twelve introductory albums
          and you have been receiving the monthly main selection for
          four months now-

          LARRY
          "The monthly main selection?" Is that a record? I didn't

          

          

          

          

          77
          ask for any records.

          VOICE
          To receive the monthly main selection you do nothing.

          YOU-

          LARRY
          That's right! I haven't done anything!

          VOICE
          Yes, that's why you receive the monthly main selection.
          The last

          LARRY
          But I-

          VOICE
          The last one was Santana Abraxis. You-

          LARRY
          I didn't ask for Santana Abraxis!

          VOICE
          You request the main selection at the retail price by doing
          nothing. It is automatically mailed to you. Plus shipping
          and handling. You're about to-

          LARRY
          I can't afford a new record every month! I haven't asked

          FOR-

          VOICE
          You're about to get Cosmo's Factory, sir. The June main
          selection. And you haven't-

          LARRY
          Look, something is very wrong! I don't want Santana
          Abraxis! I've just been in a terrible auto accident!
          Beat.

          VOICE
          I'm sorry sir.

          

          

          

          

          78

          LARRY
          Well-thank you. But I-

          VOICE
          Are you okay?

          LARRY
          Yes. Yes, no one was hurt.

          VOICE
          Okay. Good. Well, you had fourteen days to listen to
          Santana Abraxis and return it if you weren't completely
          satisfied. You did nothing. And now you-

          LARRY
          I didn't ask for Santana Abraxis! I didn't listen to Santana
          Abraxis! I didn't do anything!
          The secretary is sticking her head in.

          SECRETARY
          Sir.

          VOICE
          Sir. Please. We can't make you listen to the record. We-

          SECRETARY
          Professor Gopnik, your son. He said it's urgent.

          LARRY
          Okay, look, I have to call you back, this is, this is I'm
          sorry.
          He irritably punches a button on the bottom row of four.

          DANNY?

          DANNY
          Dad!

          LARRY
          Did you join the Columbia Record Club?!

          

          

          

          

          79
          Silence.

          . DANNY?

          DANNY
          Um...

          LARRY
          DANNY, this is completely unacceptable. I can't afford to-

          DANNY
          Okay Dad, but you gotta come home.

          LARRY
          Is it F Troop?

          DANNY
          Huh? No no. Mom's real upset.

          GOPNIK HOUSE
          LARRY enters. We can hear weeping, semi-hysterical, from somewhere
          in the house.
          SARAH's Voice
          .Dad?

          LARRY
          Yes?
          She enters.

          SARAH
          Does this mean I can't go to the hole tonight?

          LARRY
          Does what mean-what happened?

          SARAH
          Sy Ableman died in a car crash.
          DANNY's Voice

          

          

          

          

          80
          Hey Dad!

          LARRY
          What?!
          DANNY enters.

          DANNY
          So are you coming back home? Can you fix the aerial?
          The weeping, off, grows louder and more hysterical.

          LARRY
          What?!

          DANNY
          It's still, you know...
          Loud wailing.

          BLACK
          After a beat in black, a white title:
          The Second Rabbi
          The title fades.

          RABBI'S OFFICE
          We are close on LARRY. He sits hunched forward, hands clasped
          in front of him, staring at
          the floor, sadly shaking his head.
          After a long beat:

          LARRY
          It seems like she's asking an awful lot. But then-I don't
          know. Somebody has to pay for Sy's funeral.
          Rabbi Nachtner, sitting opposite, nods.
          Rabbi Nachtner

          

          

          

          

          81
          Uh-huh.

          LARRY
          His own estate is in probate. But why does it have to be
          me? Or is it wrong to complain? JUDY says it is. But I'm
          so strapped for cash right now-paying for the Jolly Roger,
          and I wrecked the car, and DANNY's bar mitzvah... I...
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Something like this-there's never a good time.

          LARRY
          I don't know where it all leaves me. Sy's death. Obviously
          it's not going to go back like it was.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Mm. Would you even want that, LARRY?

          LARRY
          No, I-well yeah! Sometimes! Or-I don't know; I guess
          the honest answer is I don't know. What was my life
          before? Not what I thought it was. What does it all mean?
          What is Hashem trying to tell me, making me pay for Sy
          Ableman's funeral?
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Mm.

          LARRY
          And-did I tell you I had a car accident the same time Sy
          had his? The same instant, for all I know. Is Hashem
          telling me that Sy Ableman is me, or we are all one or
          something?
          Rabbi Nachtner
          How does God speak to us: it's a good question. You
          know Lee Sussman?

          LARRY
          DOCTOR Sussman? I think I-yeah.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Did he ever tell you about the goy's teeth?

          

          

          

          

          82

          LARRY
          No... I-What goy?
          Rabbi Nachtner
          So Lee is at work one day; you know he has the orthodontic
          practice there at Texa-Tonka.

          LARRY
          Uh-huh.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Right next to the Gold Eagle Cleaners.
          We cut to:

          SIGN FOR THE GOLD EAGLE CLEANERS
          It dominates a small suburban strip mall.
          Rabbi Nachtner continues in voice-over as we cut to a smoked
          glass door that identifies
          Leon Sussman, DDS.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          He's making a plaster mold-it's for corrective bridge
          work-in the mouth of one of his patients...
          A close shot of a man's mouth biting down on two horse-shoe shaped
          troughs-an upper
          and a lower-that overflow an oozing white goo.
          . Russell Kraus. He's a delivery dispatcher for the Star
          and Tribune with chronic mandicular deterioration.
          The grinding guitar solo from Jefferson Airplane's "Bear Melt"
          scores the narrative.
          The patient opens his mouth as a hand enters to grab the upper
          tray.
          The reverse shows Dr. Sussman, a balding middle-aged man, dressed
          in the the high-
          collared white smock of an oral surgeon. He carries the mold
          over to a drying table.
          Kraus is twisted over the side of the chair spitting into the
          water-swirled spit-sink.
          . Well, the mold dries and Lee is examining it one day

          

          

          

          

          83
          before fabricating an appliance...
          Another day: Dr. Sussman is sitting at his desk examining the
          lower mold. He notices
          something unusual.
          . He notices something unusual.
          Sussman reaches up for the loupe attached to his eyeglasses.
          There seems to be something engraved on the inside of the
          patient's lower incisors...
          He flips down the loupe. His eyes are hugely magnified as he
          stares.
          Sure enough, it's writing.
          Sussman squints.
          His point-of-view: Tiny incised Hebrew letters:
          sml�nn

          BACK TO RABBI NACHTNER
          He confirms with a nod.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          This in a goy's mouth, LARRY.

          BACK TO LEON SUSSMAN
          The Rabbi's narrative continues.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Tet resh nun lamed nun shin tsayin. What is that-tiranu
          linoshets? "Help me"? Is that what it says? Or is it a
          name? It's not Kraus's name.
          Sussman flips the loupe away and looks off, haunted. He rises.
          He checks the mold, just to be sure. Oh, it's there all

          

          

          

          

          84
          right...
          A dental mirror is dipped into the horse-shoe-shaped hardened
          paste of the mold. It pans
          tiny letters that stand out in relief, right-side around in the
          mirror:
          yw .rin
          Sussman leans back, thinking.
          He calls the goy back on the pretense of needing additional
          measurements for the appliance...
          Close on Kraus grinning as he shakes Sussman's hand in the reception
          area. Sussman
          gestures to invite Kraus back to the examination room.
          Sussman chats, affecting nonchalance.
          In the examination room, leaning over Kraus in the chair, the
          dentist is indeed chatting
          with seeming casualness.
          Notice any other problems with your teeth? Anything
          peculiar, et cetera?
          Sussman takes a dental mirror.
          No. No. No. Visited any other dentist recently?
          He looks in Kraus' mouth with the mirror:
          Ym nn
          Sussman frowns.
          There it is. "Help me"?
          He leans back.
          Sussman goes home. Can Sussman eat? No.
          Sussman sits at the kitchen table, untouched food in front of
          him. His wife chats volubly
          while Sussman stares into space.
          Can Sussman sleep? No.

          

          

          

          

          85
          Sussman is in bed, pyjamas buttoned to the neck, staring at the
          ceiling.
          What does it mean? Is it a message for him, for Sussman?
          And if so, from whom? Does Sussman know? Sussman
          doesn't know.
          Back in the dental office Sussman pulls boxes containing other
          molds off the shelf.
          Sussman looks at the molds of his other patients, goy and
          Jew alike, seeking other messages. He finds none. He
          looks in his own mouth...
          Close on Sussman in front of a mirror straining to see the reflection
          of a reflection of the
          dental mirror he holds in his own mouth.
          . Nothing. His wife's mouth...
          Sussman's wife lies asleep on her back, her mouth open, snoring
          softly. Sussman, in
          pyjamas but with his glasses on and loupe in place, lies over
          her in bed, supporting
          himself with one arm thrown across her body. He leans awkwardly
          in, carefully
          lowering a dental mirror into his wife's open mouth.
          . Nothing. It is a singular event. A mystery.
          The Jefferson Airplane guitar solo is heating up.
          But Sussman is an educated man. Not the world's greatest
          sage, maybe, no Rabbi Minda, but he knows a thing or two
          from the Zohar and the Caballah. He knows every Hebrew
          letter has its numeric equivalent.
          Sussman, still in his pyjamas is sitting at the kitchen table
          scribbling on a tablet of lined
          paper.
          Close on the paper: the Hebrew letters have been transcribed
          into their numeric

          EQUIVALENTS:

          496-2428
          Nachtner continues in voice-over:

          

          

          

          

          86
          Seven digits-a phone number maybe?
          Sussman reaches for the phone. He hesitates a moment, then dials.
          . Sussman dials. It rings.

          AN ELEVATED CUBICLE
          In a grocery store. A man in short sleeves reaches for the phone.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          It's a Red Owl grocery store in Bloomington. Hello? Do
          you know a goy named Kraus? Russel Kraus?
          The store manager is shaking his head.
          Where have I called? The Red Owl. In Bloomington.
          Thanks so much.
          The manager, puzzled, hangs up.
          Sussman thinks, am I supposed to go to the Red Owl, to
          receive a further sign? He goes...
          In the parking lot of the Red Owl Sussman, wearing a short-brimmed
          fedora, emerges
          from his car. It is an unremarkable grocery store in a suburban
          mall.
          It's a Red Owl.
          Inside Sussman, in his fedora, gazes around.
          Groceries. What have you.
          A service alley behind the store: dumpsters, wind-blown garbage,
          Sussman looking.
          On the wall behind the store, a stain...
          There is an old, rather nondescript stain of some liquid splatted
          against the back wall and
          long since dribbled away.
          . Could be a nun sofit... Or maybe not...
          The parking lot again: Sussman gets back in his car.

          

          

          

          

          87
          Sussman goes home. What does it mean? He has to find
          out, if he's ever to sleep again.
          Sussman again, in pyjamas buttoned to the neck, lies in his bed
          staring at the ceiling.
          He goes to see the Rabbi, Nachtner. He comes in and sits
          right where you're sitting now.
          Sussman is indeed sitting across from Rabbi Nachtner, just where
          we've seen LARRY
          sitting.
          What does it mean, Rabbi? Is it a sign from Hashem?
          "Help me." I, Sussman, should be doing something to help
          this goy? Doing what? The teeth don't say. I should know
          without asking? Or maybe I'm supposed to help people
          generally-lead a more righteous life? Is the answer in
          cabalah? In torah? Or is there even a question? Tell me,
          Rabbi-what can such a sign mean?
          Nachtner-not the narrating Nachtner but the Nachtner in the scene-nods
          and
          considers.

          LARRY
          Staring at the Rabbi. He waits a good beat.
          He prompts:

          LARRY
          So what did you tell him?
          The Rabbi seems surprised by the question.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Sussman?

          LARRY
          Yes!
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Is it. . relevant?

          

          

          

          

          88

          LARRY
          Well-isn't that why you're telling me?
          Rabbi Nachtner
          Mm. Okay. Nachtner says, look.. .
          We are back in the scene, narrated by voice-over, of the Rabbi
          silently advising the
          fretful Sussman.
          . The teeth, we don't know. A sign from Hashem, don't
          know. Helping others, couldn't hurt.
          LARRY's voice-over question plays over Sussman asking the same
          thing:
          LARRY (of])
          But is that what it meant?-tet resh nun lamed nun shin
          isayin, was it "Help me"? or a number? Or was it
          Rabbi Nachtner (off)
          We can't know everything.
          Sussman stares blankly at the Rabbi.
          A beat.
          LARRY (of])
          It sounds like you don't know Mthing!

          THE RABBI
          Smiling equably at LARRY. He reacts to the ejaculation with a
          shrug.
          LARRY scowls.

          LARRY
          Why even tell me the story?
          Rabbi Nachtner

          (AMUSED)
          First I should tell you, then I shouldn't.

          

          

          

          

          89
          LARRY, exasporated, changes tack:

          LARRY
          What happened to Sussman?

          SUSSMAN
          In his office. Working on different patients as the Rabbi resumes
          his voice-over.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          What would happen? Not much. He went back to work.
          For a while he checked every patient's teeth for new
          messages; didn't see any; in time, he found he'd stopped
          checking.
          Sussman, at home, chats with his wife over dinner.
          . These questions that are bothering you, LARRY-maybe
          they're like a toothache. We feel them for a while, then
          they go away.
          Sussman lies in bed sleeping, smiling, an arm thrown across his
          wife.

          LARRY
          Dissatisfied.

          LARRY
          I don't want it to just go away! I want an answer!
          Rabbi Nachtner
          The answer! Sure! We all want the answer! But Hashem
          doesn't owe us the answer, LARRY. Hashem doesn't owe us
          anything. The obligation runs the other way.

          LARRY
          Why does he make us feel the questions if he's not gonna
          give us any answers?
          Rabbi Nachtner smiles at LARRY for a beat.

          

          

          

          

          90
          Rabbi Nachtner
          He hasn't told me.
          LARRY rubs his face, frustrated.
          A last question occurs to him:

          LARRY
          And what happened to the goy?
          Rabbi Nachtner's forebearing smile fades into puzzlement.
          Rabbi Nachtner
          The goy? Who cares?

          EXTERIOR: THE SYNAGOGUE
          The modern synagogue grafted onto a patch of prairie.
          An echoing voice rings out:

          VOICE
          Sy Ableman was a serious man!

          RABBI NACHTNER
          In close-up he gazes around, weighing the effect of the words
          just delivered.
          After a long beat during which he seeks to establish eye contact
          with as much of his
          audience as possible:
          Rabbi Nachtner
          . Sy Ableman was a man devoted to his community...
          Wider shows Rabbi Nachtner up on the bema. He and the congregation
          face each other
          across a casket down at floor level.
          . to torah study...
          LARRY sits among the congregants, his gaze fixed on a point off.

          

          

          

          

          91
          . to his beloved wife Esther until, three years ago, she
          passed.. .
          LARRY's point-of-view: JUDY is visible from 3 behind. She sits
          a few rows ahead looking
          grimly up at the rabbi.
          . and to his duty, as he saw it. Where does such a man
          go? A tzadik-who knows, maybe even a lamid vovnik-a
          man beloved by all, a man who despised the frivolous?
          Could such a serious man... simply... disappear?
          The words echo.
          Again the rabbi gazes around, as if awaiting answer.

          THEN:
          . We speak of L'olam ha-ba, the World to Come. Not
          heaven. Not what the gentiles think of as afterlife.
          "L'olam ha-ba." What is L'olam ha-ba? Where is L'olam
          ha-ba? Well: it is not a geoaraphic place, certainly.
          Like-Canada.
          Murmured chuckles from the congregation.
          Nor is it the eretz zavat chalav ood'vash-the land flowing
          with milk and honey, for we are not promised a personal
          reward, a gold star, a first-class VIP lounge where we get
          milk and cookies to eternity!
          More chuckles.
          L'olam ha-ba... is in the bosom of Abraham. L'olam ba-
          ba is in the soul of this community which nurtured Sy
          Ableman and to which Sy Ableman now returns. That's
          right, he returns. Because he still inspires us Ableman
          returns. Because his memory instructs us Ableman
          returns. Because his thoughts illuminate our days and ways
          Sy Ableman returns. The frivolous man may vanish
          without a ripple but Sy Ableman? Sy Ableman was a
          serious man...

          

          

          

          

          92
          A sob echoes through the sanctuary.
          LARRY looks at Judith, who stifles further sobs with a handkerchief.
          . As you know, the mourner's kaddish does not mention
          the dead. It praises Hashem; it praises what abides. And
          Sy Ableman, whose spirit will continue to assist us in
          tikkun olam, is with us even now, a serious man who would
          say as we now say Yiskadal v'yiskadash sh'may rabah...
          The congregation begins to chant along but it and Judith's weeping
          are cut off by:

          A HAND RAPPING AT A DOOR
          The front door to the Gopnik home.
          LARRY, still in his suit from shul and wearing a yarmulka, opens
          the door. He recoils in
          surprise edged with fear.
          Reverse: two uniformed policemen.

          COP 1
          Arthur Gopnik?
          LARRY is momentarily dumb. Inside the house we can see a corner
          of a card table set up in
          the living room with food laid out on it. SARAH sits with her
          back to us, head wrapped by
          a towel-turban. Arthur, on the far side of the table, his balding
          head domed by a yarmul-
          ka, half-leans out so that he may sneak looks toward the men
          at the door without totally
          revealing himself. From somewhere down the hall come Judith's
          muffled sobs.
          . Are you Arthur Gopnik?

          LARRY
          I'm... Laurence Gopnik.
          Cop I
          Do you go by the name Arthur Gopnik?

          LARRY
          No.

          

          

          

          

          93

          COP 1
          Is that Arthur Gopnik?
          Arthur ducks away.
          From inside the living room:
          DANNY (off)
          Dad? What's going on?

          LARRY
          Can you tell me what's going on. We're sitting shiva here.

          COP 1
          You're what.

          LARRY
          A religious observance. We're... bereaved.
          The cop standing behind gazes in over his partner's shoulder.

          COP 2
          Who died?

          LARRY
          My wife's um... it's a long story.

          COP 1
          Look. Tell Gopnik-you know, Arthur Gopnik-he's
          breaking the law. We're not arresting him now but next
          time we will. Gambling is against the law in this state.
          That's just the way it is. All right. Go back to your...

          COP 2
          Sorry, sir.

          LIVING ROOM
          A minute later. The family-except for Judith, whose weeping continues
          off-sits
          around the card table. A long beat.
          At length:

          

          

          

          

          94

          DANNY
          Dad, we get Channel 4 now but not Channel 7.

          LARRY
          Arthur, how could you do that to this family. On Sy's...
          on Sy's-

          ARTHUR
          It's a victimless crime.

          LARRY
          That doesn't make it right! And you-

          DANNY
          He won a lot of money, Dad! The Mentaculus really
          works!
          LARRY's gaze swings onto his son.

          LARRY
          You knew about it?!

          DANNY
          Well, um...

          ARTHUR
          They must have finked me out. They knew I could just
          keep on winning, so a couple weeks ago they blackballed
          me, and now they've-

          LARRY
          What did you do with the money you won?
          Silence. Arthur sneaks a look at DANNY.
          LARRY looks back and forth between them.
          . What's going on?
          Arthur shrugs.

          ARTHUR

          

          

          

          

          95
          I didn't want it. DANNY said he could use it

          SARAH
          Unfair!

          LARRY
          What have you been-

          ARTHUR
          What's unfair is these guys saying I can't play in their card
          game!

          SARAH
          Why give him the money?! You know what he spends it
          on?

          LARRY
          (knowing nod)
          I know about the records.

          SARAH
          Records?! You think he buys records from Mike Fagle?
          Movement in DANNY's body; SARAH recoils from a kick.
          . Ow! Little brat!

          LARRY
          Hey! What's going on!

          DANNY
          At least I'm not saving up for a nose job!

          LARRY
          What?!

          SARAH
          Brat!

          LARRY
          Nobody in this house is getting a nose job! You got that?!

          

          

          

          

          96

          DANNY
          Ali!
          Struck by a thought he leaps up and bolts from the room.

          LARRY
          DANNY! You weren't excused! We're still talking!

          SARAH
          What a brat.

          LARRY
          What was this card game, Arthur?

          ARTHUR
          Some goys run a private game.
          We hear the TV go on down the hall and the theme from F Troop.
          I think they're Italians.

          LARRY
          DANNY, what's going on!
          He rises.

          BEDROOM
          LARRY enters to look down at DANNY's back. Beyond him F Troop
          flickers on the TV.

          LARRY
          DANNY! We're sitting Shiva!

          DON MILGRAM'S OFFICE
          LARRY, sitting across from Don, has his head buried in his arms
          on the desktop.

          DON
          She's retained Barney Silver at Tuchman, Marsh. This is a,
          uh--this is an aggressive firm, LARRY.

          

          

          

          

          97

          LARRY

          (MUFFLED)
          Uh-huh.

          DON
          These are not pleasant people. Judith is free of course to
          retain whoever she... I take it you don't talk to her?
          LARRY raises his head, squinting against the light.

          LARRY
          It's hard. I think she emptied our bank account. I tried to
          ask her about it, very civilly.

          DON
          Mm.

          LARRY
          She, uh...

          DON
          Yeah, yeah you better open an account in your name only,
          put your paychecks in there from here on out. Til we know
          where we stand.

          LARRY
          Can I?

          DON
          Oh, absolutely!

          LARRY
          That's not, um, dishonest?

          DON
          Oh, absolutely! You, uh-

          LARRY
          I hate to say this, but I think she's also been sneaking cash
          out of my wallet.

          DON
          Ouch. Well, yes, this is definitely, um, adversarial. The

          

          

          

          

          98
          first thing we-are you all right?
          LARRY is wincing as he rubs a forearm under his shirtsleeve.

          LARRY
          Just a sunburn. I've been spending a lot of time on the
          roof. For... perspective.
          He trails off and his head drops back down onto his arms. Don
          gives him an appraising
          look.

          DON
          . Have you seen the Rabbi?

          LARRY
          (muffled again)
          Talked to Nachtner.

          DON
          You should talk to Minda.

          LARRY
           They told me Minda doesn't do pastoral work any more.
          Just.. . ceremonial.

          DON
          Mm. Congratulates the bar mitzvah boy every week, so
          forth?
          LARRY nods miserably.
          . That's too bad. A very wise man, Minda.
          LARRY raises his head.

          LARRY
          Getting old.

          DON
          Very old.

          LARRY
          No, me.

          

          

          

          

          99

          DON
          LARRY, you're fine. It's a bump in the road. Was Nachtner
          helpful at all?
          LARRY gives a helpless shrug.
          Don rolls his eyes.
          . What-did he tell you about the goy's teeth?
          A knock on the door. Don projects:
          Yeah?
          The door cracks open. A pipe edges in, followed by a peeking
          face: Solomon Schlutz.
          . Oh, good! Sol, come on in.
          Solomon Schlutz is a large man in shirtsleeves and suspenders.
          He has the smooth
          impassive face of a sphynx with a pipe clenched in its teeth.
          He glides into the room, a sheaf of files tucked under one arm.
          . Sol has been looking into the property-line issues.. .
          Solomon Schlutz seats himself at the conference table and starts
          sorting and arranging
          the files into three piles.
          . It seems that you do have a real problem with the
          original survey. But Sol seems to think there's some kind
          of nifty way for us to-well, I haven't heard it myself, I'll
          let Sol map it out.
          Solomon Schlutz continues to arrange the files, his eye occasionally
          lingering on a
          specific page. When at length he is finished he carefully justifies
          the edges of the closest
          pile, takes the pipe out of his mouth, gives LARRY a smile that
          seems to take some effort,
          and then taps the pipe in a large glass ashtray.
          He looks up again at LARRY, this time shocked. His stunned look
          on LARRY holds for a
          long beat.
          LARRY returns a bewildered look.

          

          

          

          

          100
          Solomon Schlutz, staring at LARRY as if he were some sort of
          monster, emits one barking

          SYLLABLE:
          Solomon Schlutz
          Gah!
          His stare holds. He reddens.

          DON
          .Sol?
          Solomon Schlutz's face now passes from the red end of the spectrum
          to the purple.
          Solomon Schlutz
          Nnnnff!
          The pipe clatters out of his hand. The hand grabs at his own
          shirt front.
          . Glufffl...
          Now his head pitches back. His backflung weight and twisting
          body send his chair
          tipping over, one hand still clutching at his chest while the
          other frantically waves. He
          disappears behind the conference table and lands with a floor-shaking
          thump. His
          writhing and gurgling remain audible.

          DON
          Sol! Sol!
          Don Milgram has risen to look down at his fallen colleague; now
          he flings open the
          conference room door and bellows into the office:
          An ambulance! Quick! Somebody call an ambulance! A

          DOCTOR!
          A secretary looks in and screams.
          Solomon Schlutz
          Garf!... Nnlogl...

          BLEGEN HALL

          

          

          

          

          101
          LARRY walks into the outer office clutching his briefcase, eyes
          wide, shell-shocked. The
          secretary is at her typewriter but holding the phone, one hand
          covering its mouthpiece.

          SECRETARY
          Dick Dutton. Columbia Record Club.

          LARRY
          Call back.

          HIS OFFICE
          LARRY sits in heavily behind his desk.
          A beat.
          He opens the top left desk drawer. He withdraws the bulging white
          envelope and opens
          its flap.
          He runs a finger over the wad of bills.

          VOICE

          LARRY?
          He looks up, startled.
          Arlen Finkle stands in the doorway.
          . As you know, the tenure committee meets-are you all
          right?
          LARRY sits frozen with the white envelope in his hands.

          LARRY
          I'm... fine.
          Arlen Finkle
          I'm sorry. I know you've hit a rough patch.

          LARRY
          Thank you. I'm fine.
          He puts the envelope in the desk drawer and closes it.

          

          

          

          

          102
          Arlen Finkle
          Uh-huh. Well. As you know, the tenure committee meets
          next Wednesday to make its final determinations. If

          THERE'S-

          LARRY
          Arlen, I am not an evil man!
          Arlen looks at him, shocked.
          Arlen Finkle
          LARRY! Of course not!

          LARRY
          I am not-
          Arlen Finkle
          We don't make moral judgments!

          LARRY
          I went to the Aster Art once. I saw Swedish Reverie.
          Arlen Finkle
          It's okay, LARRY, we don't need to know! The Tenure

          COMMITTEE-

          LARRY
          It wasn't even erotic! Although it was, in a way.
          Arlen Finkle
          It's all right, LARRY. Believe me.
          LARRY calms somewhat.

          LARRY
          . Okay.
          Arlen Finkle
          Okay. Okay. We, uh, we decide on Wednesday, so if
          there's anything you want to submit in support of your
          tenure application, we should have it by then. That's all.

          LARRY

          

          

          

          

          103
          Submit. What. What do you-
          Arlen Finkle
          Well. Anything. Published work. Anything else you've
          done outside of the institution. Any work that we might not
          be aware of.

          LARRY
          I haven't done anything.
          Arlen Finkle
          Uh-huh.

          LARRY
          I haven't published.
          Arlen Finkle
          Uh-huh.

          LARRY
          Are you still getting those letters?
          Arlen Finkle
          Uh-huh.

          LARRY
          Those anonymous-
          Arlen Finkle
          Yes, I know. Yes.
          A beat. LARRY nods.

          LARRY
          Okay. Okay. Wednesday.
          Arlen Finkle
          Okay. Don't worry. Doing nothing is not bad. Ipso facto.

          LARRY
          Sure.

          

          

          

          

          104

          CLASSROOM
          We are close over LARRY's shoulder as he scribbles symbols onto
          the chalkboard.

          LARRY
          . and that means... so that... from which we derive...
          His glances back toward the class show that he is wearier, baggier-eyed,
          more haggard
          than ever. There is also something odd about his posture.
          He writes smaller and smaller so as to finish before hitting
          the right edge of the
          chalkboard.
          . and also.. which lets us... and...
          Wider as he finishes and straightens up, revealing that he has
          been stooping to write
          across the very bottom of the board.
          The equation covers every inch of the classroom-wide three-paneled
          chalkboard. LARRY
          is an off balance figure at the right edge of frame.
          Reverse on the class: staring.
          Okay?
          LARRY claps chalk dust from his hands.
          . The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever
          really know... what's going on.
          A bell sounds. The students start to shake off their stupor and
          rise. LARRY projects over
          the wallah:
          . So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure
          anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on
          the mid-term.
          The thinning crowd gradually reveals one person still seated:
          Sy Ableman.
          He wears a prayer shawl and yarmulka.

          

          

          

          

          105
          LARRY does not seem surprised to see him.
          . Did you follow that?
          Sy Ableman
          Of coss. Except that I know what's going on. How do you
          explain.

          LARRY
          Well, it might be that, in, you know, in L'olam ha-bah-
          Sy Ableman
          Excuse me. Not the issue. In this world, LARRY.
          He nods at the chalkboard.
          . I'll concede that it's subtle. It's clevva. But at the end
          of the day, is it convincing?

          LARRY
          Well-yes it's convincing. It's a proof. It's mathematics.
          Sy Ableman
          Excuse me, LARRY. Mathematics. Is the art of the possible.
          LARRY's brow furrows.

          LARRY
          I don't think so. The art of the possible, that's... I can't
          remember... something else...
          Sy Ableman
          I'm a serious man, LARRY.

          LARRY
          I know that. So if I've got it wrong, what do I-
          Sy Ableman holds up one hand to silence him.
          Sy Ableman
          So simple, LARRY. See Minda.

          

          

          

          

          106

          LARRY
          I know, I want to see Minda! I want to see Minda! They
          told me that oonh!
          Without our having seen him rise or cross the room Sy Ableman
          has body-slammed
          LARRY into the chalkboard. Now he grabs LARRY by the hair and
          whips his head against
          the equation. As he slams LARRY's head, again and again, the
          chalkboard chatters and the
          fringes on Sy's tallis dance.
          Sy Ableman
          See Minda! See Minda! I fucked your wife, LARRY! I
          seriously fucked her! That's what's going on! See Minda!

          LARRY
          Very close on his eyes as they open. His head is on a pillow.
          Dull early light. A hissing
          sound.
          LARRY looks blearily over.
          On the vanity table just outside the motel bathroom door sits
          Uncle Arthur's cyst
          evacuator. Its waggling hose snakes into the cracked bathroom
          door as the machine
          hisses.

          MEZUZA
          On a doorpost.
          A hand enters to knock. A long beat. The person knocking gives
          up and his footsteps
          start to go away just as the door opens to reveal an attractive
          woman the sunbathing
          neighbor, now wearing plaid shorts and a buttoned white blouse.
          Her point-of-view: LARRY, frozen halfway down the stoop, head
          turned back up toward
          the door.

          WOMAN
          Mr. Gopnik.

          

          

          

          

          107

          LARRY
          Oh. Hello, Mrs. Samsky. I knocked, and then thought you
          weren't here. I, uh...
          Mrs. Samsky's voice is soft and breathy:
          Mrs. Samsky
          It just took me a second to get to the door. I was out back.
          LARRY stands nodding.
          He seems to need prompting. Mrs. Samsky does:
          . Can I help you? Wanna come in?

          LARRY
          No, I-
          One hand on the door, she steps back.
          Mrs. Samsky
          It's cooler.

          LARRY
          Oh. Okay. I just wanted to let you know...
          He is entering.

          INSIDE
          After the outside glare the house does indeed seem cooler. LARRY
          looks around the living
          room, dim but neat. Wavering light sifts through closed vertical
          blinds which drift and
          click over floor-vented air-conditioning.
          Mrs. Samsky closes the door, shutting out all sound from outside.

          LARRY
          I've noticed that Mr. Samsky isn't around, and I-
          Mrs. Samsky
          He travels.

          

          

          

          

          108

          LARRY
          Uh-huh. Yeah, I never seem to see him, so I thought I
          should let you know, since you're somewhat new here, if
          you ever have, whatever, chores that you'd, um, or just help
          with something-I've decided to help others-you know,
          in a neighborly way...
          She gazes at him with the least hint of a smile and waits for
          the speech to dribble away to
          silence. In the ensuing beat, quiet except for the clicking of
          the blinds, she is perfectly
          still. Finally, only her mouth moves:
          Mrs. Samsky
          How thoughtful.
          LARRY shrugs off the compliment.

          LARRY
          Oh it's nothing. It's just good to know your neighbors.
          And to help. Help others. Although I don't care much for
          my neighbors on the other side, I must say.
          Mrs. Samsky lets another smiling silence pass before responding.
          Mrs. Samsky
          . Goys, aren't they?

          LARRY
          Mm. Very much so. Maybe it's not fair to judge; I have to
          admit I-
          Mrs. Samsky
          Won't you sit down?

          LARRY
          Oh! Um. Okay. Thank you.
          Mrs. Samsky
          Iced tea? I have some.
          She is already turning to the kitchen.

          

          

          

          

          109

          LARRY
          Okay.. .
          He watches her and reacts to:
          The backs of her thighs. The flesh retains the broad cross-hatch
          of her lawn chair.
          She disappears into the kitchen, but calls out:
          Mrs. Samsky
          I don't see you around much, either.

          LARRY
          Yes. Actually I haven't been home a lot recently, I, uh, my
          wife and I are, uh, well, she's got me staying at the Jolly
          Roger, the little motel there on-
          Mrs. Samsky is reentering with two tall glasses of iced tea beaded
          with moisture. The
          click of the ice cubes joins the clicking of the blinds.
          Mrs. Samsky
          You're in the doghouse, huh?
          She hands him a glass as she sits on the couch next to him, not
          invasively close, one bare
          leg folded onto the couch, the other draped over it.

          LARRY
          Yeah, that's an understatement I guess, I -thank you-I,

          UH-
          Mrs. Samsky
          Do you take advantage of the new freedoms?
          LARRY stares at her. Mrs. Samsky gazes back. Her look displays
          equanimity; his, not.

          FINALLY:

          LARRY
          . What do you mean.
          Her look holds for one more beat and then she swivels and opens
          the drawer of an end
          table.

          

          

          

          

          110
          She turns back with a joint.
          Mrs. Samsky
          It's something I do. For recreation.
          She lights it.

          LARRY
          That's... Marijuana?
          Mrs. Samsky
          Mm-hmm.
          She hands the joint over.
          . You'll find you'll need the iced tea.
          LARRY handles the bitty cigarette with trepidation.

          LARRY
          Is it. . well.. . okay...

          THE VERTICAL BLINDS
          Some minutes later. They drift and click in the air blown from
          the floor vents.
          LARRY stares at them.
          After a long beat:

          LARRY
          Maybe Rabbi Scott was right.
          Mrs. Samsky
          Who's Rabbi Scott?

          LARRY
          The junior rabbi.
          Mrs. Samsky
          The junior rabbi.

          

          

          

          

          111
          Another long beat. Neither person feels compelled to speak as
          the blinds click.
          The joint makes another trip back and forth.

          THEN:
          . What did he say?

          LARRY
          He spoke of.. perception. All my problems are just...
          just a... a mere..
          He trails off, listening.
          . Is that a siren?
          Mrs. Samsky
          No. Some people get a little paranoid when they... Holy
          cow... That is a siren.

          OUTSIDE
          The Samsky's door opens and LARRY stumbles out. He stares.
          The police car has stopped in front of his own house next door,
          lights still flashing. Two
          cops are going up the walk with Uncle Arthur between them in
          handcuffs.
          LARRY, stunned, walks woodenly toward his house.

          LARRY
          Hey!
          Neither the cops nor Uncle Arthur has heard. They have rung the
          doorbell and now
          disappear inside.
          LARRY projects louder-

          . HEY!
          -and starts to sprint. Mrs. Samsky has emerged from her house
          behind.
          LARRY takes the stoop steps two at a time. His door stands open
          and the theme from F

          

          

          

          

          112
          Troop issues from within.
          Just inside the two policeman stand with their backs to us and
          handcuffed Uncle Arthur
          in between. The three men face DANNY, who addresses them, projecting
          over the music
          from the TV.

          DANNY
          Sort of. He sleeps on the couch.

          LARRY
          This is crazy!
          This brings the cops' look around. Uncle Arthur also turns, shamefaced,
          to LARRY.

          COP
          Does this man live here?

          ARTHUR
          I didn't know what to tell them! They asked for my
          address.. .

          LARRY
          It's just mathematics! You can't arrest a man for
          mathematics!

          ARTHUR
          I didn't know whether to say I lived here or at the Jolly
          Roger.

          COP
          You know this man?

          ARTHUR
          I figured this would sound more... I don't know...
          Mrs. Samsky appears behind LARRY on the stoop.

          DANNY
          Dad, why is Uncle Arthur in handcuffs?

          LARRY
          It's all a mistake. I mean, not a mistake, a, a-

          

          

          

          

          113

          ARTHUR
          Hello, Mrs. Samsky.

          LARRY
          -a miscarriage-

          COP
          Does this man live here?

          DANNY
          He sleeps on the couch.

          LARRY
          Look! What did he do!

          ARTHUR
          Nothing! I didn't do anything!

          DANNY
          It folds out. Dad sleeps on a cot.

          LARRY
          You can't just-

          COP
          Sir, we picked this man up at the North Dakota.
          LARRY is brought up short.

          LARRY
          The North Dakota!

          ARTHUR
          But I didn't do anything!

          DANNY
          Dad, what's the North Dakota?

          COP
          Solicitation. Sodomy. Very serious.

          

          

          

          

          114

          LARRY
          . The North Dakota!
          We hold on LARRY's shocked reaction as we hear DANNY, off:

          DANNY
          What's Sodomy, Dad?

          DON MILGRAM
          He wears a black armband. He sits thinking, bouncing steepled
          fingers against his nose.

          FINALLY:

          DON
          What does Arthur say?

          LARRY
          He says he didn't do anything.

          DON
          Uh-huh.

          LARRY
          He says. . . he just went in for a drink.

          DON
          Uh-huh.
          Long beat.
          . Does Arthur drink?

          LARRY
          No.

          DON
          Uls-huh.

          LARRY
          . He says he was confused.

          

          

          

          

          115

          DON
          Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Well. The North Dakota. Well. You'll
          need a criminal attorney.

          LARRY
          Okay. Who's-

          DON
          Ron Meshbesher.

          LARRY
          Is he good?

          DON
          Ron is very good.
          LARRY's gaze wanders. He becomes wistful.

          LARRY
          I don't understand. He goes to mixers at the Hillel House.

          DON
          Mm.
          A beat.
          . I would call Ron Meshbesher.

          LARRY
          Is he expensive?

          DON
          Ron is not cheap.
          Don focuses on LARRY. Cheerful change of subject:
          . DANNY's bar mitzvah is... ?

          LARRY
          This week.

          

          

          

          

          116

          DON
          This shabbas! Great!
          He nods.
          . It'll be okay. Try to relax, LARRY. Try to relax.

          MRS. SAMSKY'S BEDROOM
          LARRY is making strenuous love to Mrs. Samsky.
          Mrs. Samsky
          So good... so good...
          She rolls on top of LARRY to straddle him and, still humping,
          she lights a mentholated
          cigarette. LARRY moans.

          LARRY
          Oh my God, Mrs. Samsky...
          Beyond her head LARRY can see the low cottage-cheese ceiling
          of the bedroom. Outside
          we can hear Gar Brandt mowing the lawn.
          Suddenly we hear muffled laughter and the front door opening.
          LARRY panics. He hisses:
          . Who is it?
          Footsteps are approaching along the hall. Mrs. Samsky doesn't
          react; she looks calmly
          down at LARRY even as the bedroom door opens behind her and CLIVE
          Park walks in
          wearing a traffic mask. LARRY is mortified:
          CLIVE, please! Wait outside!
          Mrs. Samsky blows smoke into LARRY's eyes. The screen goes black.
          Close on LARRY as he opens his eyes. A shadow falls across his
          face.
          His point-of-view: a wooden plank is just being slid into place
          over his head. The bang
          of hammer on nailhead. In the black:

          

          

          

          

          117
          Sy Ableman's Voice
          Nailing it down is so impawtant.
          We hear the chanting of Kaddish and the sound of dirt hitting
          the top of the coffin. It
          drums a steady rhythm. Grace Slick's voice enters: "Somebody
          to Love." In a break in
          the vocals right before the chorus:
          Mrs. Samsky's Voice
          It's something we do. For recreation.
          On the chorus downbeat, a crescent moon pops into the black.
          Gar Brandt traverses the
          sky, pushing his lawn mower. A cow flies the opposite way. Stars
          twinkle. Sy Able-
          man walks across the sky dressed like a shtetl elder, a bindlestick
          over one shoulder.
          LARRY bolts upright in bed.
          Sudden quiet.
          Uncle Arthur is snoring in the tatty motel room's other bed.
          A title burns in:

          MINDA

          LARRY
          He stands looking down in low shot. Above him is cheap Johnson-Armstrong
          dropped
          ceiling.

          LARRY
          Please. I need help. I've already talked to the other rabbis.
          Please.
          Reverse shows an elderly eastern European woman seated behind
          a desk, looking up at

          LARRY.
          . I won't take much of his time. I need help. I need
          Minda. It's not about DANNY's bar mitzvah. My boy
          DANNY. This coming shabbas. Very joyous event. That's
          all fine. It's, it's more about myself, I've... I've had quite
          a bit of tsuris lately. Marital problems. Professional. You
          name it. This is not a frivolous request. This is a serious-
          I'm a serious-I'm, uh, I've tried to be a serious man. You

          

          

          

          

          118
          know, tried to do right, be a member of the community,
          raise the, raise the, DANNY, SARAH, they both go to school,
          Hebrew school, a good breakfast. Well, DANNY goes to
          Hebrew school, SARAH doesn't have time, she mostly...
          washes her hair. Apparently there are several steps
          involved. But you don't have to tell Minda that. Just tell
          him I need help. Please. I need help.
          He lapses into silence, staring at the secretary.
          She stares inscrutably back.
          After a moment she rises, goes to the door behind her, opens
          it, shuffles into the dimness
          of an inner office.
          LARRY cranes to see past her. Her own body and the dimness interfere
          with a good view
          of the figure hunched behind the desk. The man is old and bent.
          His desktop is empty.
          Murmured voices in Hebrew.
          A clock ticks in the outer office. LARRY looks around, waiting.
          Mysterious Judaica adorns the outer office.
          The old woman is shuffling back. She closes the door on the motionless
          rabbi and sits
          down, heavily, behind her own desk.

          SECRETARY
          The rabbi is busy.

          LARRY
          He didn't look busy!
          As she starts shuffling papers:

          SECRETARY
          He's thinking.

          NIGHT
          Sidor Belarsky comes in at the cut.

          

          

          

          

          119
          We are booming down on LARRY, asleep in bed.
          We hear weeping, soft, suppressed.
          LARRY stirs. He opens his eyes.
          After a groggy beat he reacts to the weeping. He looks over.

          LARRY
          Arthur... ? Arthur?
          Arthur is a dim mound on the next bed. His weeping continues.
          For no reason LARRY continues to keep his voice to a whisper:
          . Arthur. What's wrong?
          No answer.
          . Arthur. It'll be okay. Arthur. We'll get Ron
          Meshbesher. It'll be okay-

          ARTHUR

          AAAHHHH!
          Shockingy loud, the scream is hard to interpret.
          Arthur flings off his bedclothes. He leaps from the bed and runs
          to the door. In boxer
          shorts and undershirt he flings the door open and runs out of
          the room.

          LARRY
          Arthur!
          LARRY leaps from his bed, also in his underwear.
          He goes to the door but pauses, peering cautiously outside. Satisfied
          that the courtyard is
          deserted, he plunges into it.

          COURTYARD
          The courtyard/parking lot is hardlit by ghastly mercury vapor
          lights. The pool,
          surrounded by chain-link fence, has been drained. Its white concrete
          interior is cracked

          

          

          

          

          120
          and weedy.
          Uncle Arthur is hunched weeping in a corner of the pool enclosure.

          LARRY

          (HISSING)
          Arthur!
          He opens the creaking gate and scurries over to Arthur.
          . You've got to pull yourself together!
          Arthur is suddenly angry. His voice bounces off the concrete:

          ARTHUR
          It's all shit, LARRY! It's all shit!

          LARRY
          Arthur. Don't use that word.

          ARTHUR
          It's all fucking shit!

          LARRY
          Arthur! Come on!

          ARTHUR
          Look at everything Hashem has given you! And what do I
          get! I get fucking shit!

          LARRY
          Arthur. What do I have. I live at the Jolly Roger.

          ARTHUR
          You've got a family. You've got a job. Hashem hasn't
          given me bupkes.

          LARRY
          It's not fair to blame Hashem, Arthur. Please. Sometimes
          -please calm down-sometimes you have to help your-
          self.

          ARTHUR

          

          

          

          

          121
          Don't blame me! You fucker!

          LARRY
          Arthur. Please.

          ARTHUR
          Hashem hasn't given me shit. Now I can't even play cards.
          He starts weeping again.
          LARRY looks around.

          LARRY
          Arthur. This isn't the right forum. Please. Not by the
          pool.
          Arthur weeps.
          Arthur... It's okay... It's okay...

          MORNING
          LARRY and Arthur are driving. We are looking at the two of them
          square through a
          windshield in which towering conifers stream by in reflection.
          It seems to be a glorious
          day.

          LARRY
          Is this it?
          Both men peer out.

          ARTHUR
          I think so... yeah... there...
          He indicates the road ahead.

          A SIGNPOST
          The old-fashioned kind with wooden fingers pointing the different
          directions.
          One points toward CANADA.

          

          

          

          

          122
          We tip off the sign as LARRY's car passes and recedes. There
          is a canoe strapped to its
          roof.

          BOUNDARY WATERS
          Beautiful, wooded, remote.
          The car is parked at water's edge, having backed down a lane
          of two tracks worn
          through the undergrowth. LARRY and Arthur are lowering the canoe
          into water.

          LARRY
          Okay.. .
          He straightens. Arthur straightens. LARRY hugs him.
          .Look...
          They separate and LARRY pulls a white envelope from his pocket
          and gives it to Arthur.
          . This'll help you get back on your feet.
          Arthur looks into the envelope.

          ARTHUR
          Oh my God. Where did you get this?

          LARRY
          Doesn't matter. When you-

          ARTHUR
          This is a lot of money!

          LARRY
          It should get you started.

          ARTHUR
          This is a lot of money! Are you sure you don't need it?

          LARRY
          Arthur, I'm fine. Come on, get in. When you're settled...

          

          

          

          

          123
          Arthur climbs into the canoe.
          . let me know how to get in touch.
          He helps push the boat off. Arthur is twisted around, looking
          back. As he drifts off:

          ARTHUR
          Are you sure this is okay?

          LARRY
          It's fine. It's fine...
          LARRY waves.
          Arthur waves bravely back, then turns to pick up the oars. A
          couple of strokes and he
          turns back again with a last thought. He calls:

          ARTHUR
          LARRY. I'm sorry. What I said last night.

          LARRY
          I know. It's okay.
          A lingering look from Arthur, and then he turns back to row.
          A gunshot.
          Blood spurts from the back of Uncle Arthur's neck.
          He slumps forward, dead.

          VOICE
          Good shot!
          LARRY looks wildly around. He sees:
          Gar Brandt and Mitch in their camo fatigues, hard to pick out
          in the foliage. They are
          looking off toward the canoe, Mitch just lowering his rifle.
          Gar Brandt's look swings around, into the lens. He points at
          us:
          There's another Jew, son.

          

          

          

          

          124
          Mitch swings his rifle toward us.
          He fires.

          LARRY
          Gasping awake in the motel room.
          He looks around.
          It is dawn.
          Arthur sits on the edge of his bed in his underwear, staring
          off into space, slackjawed,
          vacant-eyed, drained.
          LARRY gazes around the room, waiting for things to fall into
          place.
          Finally, blearily:

          LARRY
          Were we... out at the pool last night?
          Arthur, still staring off, responds in a flat, empty voice:

          ARTHUR
          Yes. I'm sorry.
          LARRY blinks sleep away.
          After a beat:

          LARRY
          It's shabbas.
          Another beat.
          Arthur heaves a deep sigh.

          ARTHUR
          I'll go drain my cyst.

          

          

          

          

          125

          RESTROOM
          Day. A two-urinal, two-stall men's room of old tile and yellowed
          fixtures.
          We are low. One of the stall doors is closed. Under it we see
          the dress shoes and dress
          pants of two young men standing inside.
          We hear a long sucking inhale.
          Ronnie Nudell's Voice
          Gimme that fucker.
          A loudly projected echoing male voice:

          VOICE
          Ya'amod hab'rayshit.

          SANCTUARY
          DANNY, seated in the second pew next to his parents and sister
          and Uncle Arthur, rises
          and shuffles along the row to the aisle. His eyes are wide and
          red-rimmed.
          The prelapped voice was his call to the torah. All eyes in the
          congregation, which fills
          the large sanctuary, are on him.
          In great echoing silence he walks to the steps on the right side
          of the bema and climbs.
          The right-side lectern is surrounded by a gaggle of old Jewish
          men. They busy
          themselves with the preparation of the pair of scrolls on the
          lectern, rolling them,
          pausing, rolling some more, muttering prayers, kissing the scrolls
          by means of their
          tsitsim. They pay DANNY no attention.
          DANNY takes his place centered behind the lectern. His chin comes
          up to the bottom of
          the reading platform.
          Men continue to mutter prayers around him. A pair of hands appear
          on his shoulders
          from behind. DANNY looks down at the strange hands. They pull
          him back.
          A foot drags a small riser out from under the lectern.
          Hands push DANNY up onto the riser.

          

          

          

          

          126
          Booming up on the torah scrolls, still being busily rolled.
          Beyond it, a sea of faces.
          The yad-a molded tin pointer-is thrust into DANNY's hand. The
          non-pointing end has
          a red silken tassel.
          DANNY looks at the bouncing tassel. He looks at the little pointing
          finger which is the
          business end of the yad.
          Men mutter around him, each a different prayer. They dip and
          doven.
          DANNY watches himself point the yad down at the scroll.
          The scroll is a dense swarm of Hebrew letters. DANNY squints.
          One voice separates from the murmurs around him. It chants, insistently,
          in a sotto-voce

          FALSETTO:

          VOICE
          Nefesh echad sheichayim, yitzeh gamor shel effashot...
          DANNY is still staring at the end of the yad against the parchment
          scroll.
          Someone's hand enters and moves the yad to a different place
          in the text.
          The voice repeats:
          . Nefesh echad sheichayim, yitzeh gamor shel effashot...
          DANNY looks up from the scrolls.
          In the congregation Ronnie Nudell sits hunched-shouldered and
          squished between his
          parents. He returns DANNY's red-rimmed slack-jawed stare.
          The insistent voice:
          . Nefesh echad shelchayim, yitzeh gamor shel effashot...
          DANNY looks over.
          From the surrounding scrum the prompter nods at him. He looks
          somewhat like Cantor
          Youssele Rosenblatt.

          

          

          

          

          127
          . Nefesh echad shelchayim, yitzeh gamor shel effashot.. .
          DANNY looks back down at the scroll. A hand enters to tap a pointing
          finger where the
          yad points.
          . Nefesh echad shelchayim, yitzeh gamor shel effa-
          DANNY suddenly erupts:

          DANNY
          Nefesh echad shelchayim, yitzeh gamor shel effashot. .

          PROMPTER
          Mm-hm.
          DANNY continues to boom out the torah portion. He moves the yad
          along the line of
          letters.
          In the congregation, LARRY and Judith watch. We hear DANNY chanting
          fluently and
          LARRY squeezes the hand Judith has laced through his arm.
          Juith whispers:

          JUDITH
          I'm sorry that... things have been so hard for us...

          LARRY
          It's okay.

          JUDITH
          Sy had so much respect for you, LARRY.
          He pats her hand.
          A beat.
          . He wrote letters to the tenure committee.

          LATER
          The congregation is loudly singing V'Zos Hatorah. A tallised
          man of late middle age

          

          

          

          

          128
          hoists the open scroll from the lectern and raises it high, turning
          his back on the
          congregation so that all may see it.
          DANNY has been ensconced in a highbacked chair upstage on the
          bema.
          His point-of-view of the man holding the torah is close and steeply
          raked. The man is
          sweating. The heavy scrolls vibrate slightly from his effort
          to keep them aloft. As the
          congregation continues to sing he mutters under his breath:

          MAN
          Jesus Christ.. .

          LATER
          DANNY stands behind the left lectern facing Rabbi Nachtner who
          holds a small kiddush
          cup out to him.
          Although Rabbi Nachtner seems to be addressing DANNY, he is projecting
          loudly.

          NACHTNER
          . taking your place as a member of our tribe. You will
          go and see Rabbi Minda after the service. You will cele-
          brate in a reception downstairs in Schanfield Hall. And
          then you will be a member of B'Nai Abraham and of the
          Nation of Israel. DANNY Gopnik, the Sisterhood makes a
          gift to you of this kiddush cup so that you will remember
          this blessed day on the next shabbas and the next, and on
          every shabbas of a long and fruitful life, and, until that
          wonderful day when you stand under the chupa, we say.. .

          CONGREGATION
          Amen.
          DANNY, still red-eyed, tries to focus.
          His point-of-view shows the kiddush cup large in the foreground,
          extended toward him
          by the Rabbi beaming above.
          His own hand rises into frame to grasp the kiddush cup.
          The congregation starts Adon Olam.

          

          

          

          

          129

          A DOOR
          Creaking open. The cut has snapped off the robust Adon Olam,
          leaving sepulchral quiet.
          DANNY, clutching his kiddush cup, hesitantly enters the dim study.
          Minda's elderly
          eastern European gatekeeper closes the door behind him.
          Minda is an old man staring at him from behind a bare desktop.
          His look, eyes
          magnified by thick glasses, is impossible to read.
          DANNY creeps to the chair facing the desk. He gingerly sits on
          the squeaking leather
          upholstery, self-conscious under Minda's stare.
          Minda breathes regularly through his mouth. It is the only sound
          in the room.
          A long beat. The two sit face to face.
          Minda smacks his lips a couple of times, preparing to speak.
          Another beat.

          FINALLY:

          MINDA
          When the truth is found. To be lies.
          He pauses. He clears his throat.
          At length:
          . And all the hope. Within you dies.
          Another beat. DANNY waits. Minda stares.
          He smacks his lips again.
          . Then what?
          DANNY doesn't answer. It is unclear whether the question was
          directed at him.
          Quiet.

          

          

          

          

          130
          Minda clears his throat with a loud and thorough hawking.
          The hawking abates. Minda sniffs.
          . Grace Slick. Marty Balin. Paul Kanta. Jorma...
          somethin. These are the membas of the Airplane.
          He nods a couple of times.
          . Interesting.
          He reaches up and slowly opens his desk drawer. He takes something
          out. He lays it on
          the bare desk and pushes it partway across.
          . Here.
          It is DANNY's radio.
          . Be a good boy.

          LARRY'S OFFICE
          LARRY is at his desk sorting through mail.
          Arlen Finkle (off
          DANNY was magnificent.
          LARRY looks up: Arlen is leaning in his accustomed spot in the
          office doorway.

          LARRY
          Oh. Thank you, Arlen.
          Arlen Finkle
          Mazel tov. It was wonderful.

          LARRY
          Yes it was. Thank you.
          Arlen Finkle
          Such a time of nachas, LARRY. He's your youngest. You
          have to savor it.

          

          

          

          

          131

          LARRY
          I do. I will.
          Arlen Finkle
          See you at the staff caf.

          LARRY
          Yes.
          Arlen shoves off to go, but hesitates.
          Arlen Finkle
          I just... I shouldn't tell you. I'm not telling you officially.
          The tenure candidates aren't notified til Monday.

          LARRY
          . Yes?
          Arlen nods.
          Arlen Finkle
          You'll be very pleased.
          LARRY stares at him.

          LARRY
          Thank you, Arlen.
          Over his back as he goes:
          Arlen Finkle
          I didn't say anything. Mazel tov.

          HEBREW SCHOOL CORRIDOR
          Distant thunder at the cut.
          We are tracking behind Minda's female Caliban as she walks down
          the hall, stooped and
          shuffling. She holds a stack of papers in one hand.

          LARRY'S OFFICE

          

          

          

          

          132
          Mail in front of him.
          He opens an envelope from RONALD MESHBESHER, ESQ.
          In it are two pieces of paper. Topmost is a letter headed RETAINER
          AGREEMENT.
          Underneath is an invoice. The amount: $3,000.
          Arriving rain begins to patter at the window.

          HEBREW SCHOOL CLASS
          The TEACHER, Mar King, leads the class in drill.
          DANNY has a book tilted towards him on his desktop. It hides
          his radio.
          The door opens and the elderly woman shuffles to Mar King's desk.
          She hands him a
          paper from off her stack of copies.
          Mar King puts on reading glasses and inspects it. As he reads
          thunder crashes, closer.

          LARRY'S OFFICE
          He fingers the invoice.
          Close on a printed detail: PAYABLE: and, typed underneath: Upon
          Receipt.
          Wind is whipping rain hard against the window.

          HEBREW SCHOOL CLASS
          Mar King taps on the desktop for attention.
          Mar King
          Chaverim, there's a tornado warning from the weather
          service. Rabbi Minda has decided to move us over to the
          basement of the shul.
          Hubbub in the classrooom.

          

          

          

          

          133
          . Shechet. Shechet. We're gonna form two lines. This is
          orderly. Hakol b'seder.

          LARRY'S OFFICE
          He is staring down at his desktop.
          Thunder.
          He reaches up and scratches his nose as he stares at his desk.
          On the desk: a ledger sheet with a list of students' names. Next
          to each name, a grade.
          LARRY drums his fingers.
          He picks up a pencil.
          He goes down to PARK, CLIVE. Next to it is an F.
          He waggles the pencil, eraser-end thumping the sheet.
          He erases the F. He enters a C.
          The pencil leaves frame. We hold for a beat on the new grade.
          The hand reenters. It puts a minus sign after the C.
          The hand withdraws.
          LARRY closes the file. Just as he does so:
          The phone jangles, very harsh.
          LARRY looks at it, frozen.
          He lets it ring a couple times.
          He reaches for it. He slowly picks it up.

          

          

          

          

          134

          LARRY
          . Hello?

          VOICE

          LARRY?

          LARRY
          . Yes?

          VOICE
          Hi, Len Shapiro.

          LARRY
          Oh. Hello Dr. Shapiro.
          Dr. Shapiro
          Listen, mazel tov on DANNY.

          LARRY
          Yes, thank you.
          Dr. Shapiro
          Listen, could you come in to discuss these X-ray results?
          LARRY sits frozen, phone to his ear.
          . Hello?

          LARRY
          Yes?
          Dr. Shapiro
          LARRY, could you come in and discuss these X-ray results?
          Remember the X-rays we took?

          LARRY
          . We can't discuss them on the phone?
          Thunder. Pattering rain.

          

          

          

          

          135
          Dr. Shapiro
          I think we'd be more comfortable in person. Can you come
          in?
          A beat.

          LARRY
          When?
          Dr. Shapiro
          Now. Now is good. I've cleared some time now.

          TALMUD TORAH PARKING LOT
          The students mill about. It is overcast dark, and extremely windy.
          Someone is fumbling with keys at the shul.
          DANNY still has his radio with the earpiece in.
          Everyone's clothing flaps.
          Ronnie Nudell shouts above the wind:
          Ronnie Nudell
          That fucking flag is gonna rip right off the flagpole!

          CAR
          We are looking through a windshield lashed by rain at LARRY,
          driving. His hands are
          clenched tight on the wheel. Wipers pump to keep up with the
          rain. The cars behind
          have their lights on. It has gotten quite dark.
          Passing streetlights rhythmically sweep LARRY's face, their light
          stippled and bent by the
          rain on the windows.

          TALMUD TORAH PARKING LOT
          DANNY is looking across the lot in which orange school busses
          are parked. His head bobs
          in time to the music. His hair whips in the wind. A building
          roar, very deep.

          

          

          

          

          136
          We hear, very compressed, the beginning of "Somebody to Love."
          DANNY sees a shaggy-haired youth among the milling students.

          DANNY
          Hey! Fagle!
          From behind DANNY, over his shoulder: we see a funnel cloud in
          the middle distance.
          A growing rumble. The tornado is approaching.
          At the first downbeat of its chorus the Jefferson Airplane song
          bumps up full.

          We cut to black, and credits.



                                    THE END