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Custody Movie Script

Writer(s) : Eric Stuyvesant

Genres : Comedy

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                                  CUSTODY
          
          
          
                                 Written by
          
                              Eric Stuyvesant
          
          
          
                                                     FADE IN:
          
          EXT. AKRON'S CANAL PARK - DAY
          
          RICK STEVENS, thirty-six, is Middle America personified. He
          blends in at the crowded ballpark. Blue jeans, work boots, a
          ball cap and leather jacket complete his attire. He snacks on
          a bag of popcorn. The CRACK of the bat and the CROWD is on
          their feet. A BALL PLAYER slides safely into second with a
          double. JOHN SILVERSTEIN, thirty-three, business clad, talks
          on his cell phone. Calm and collected he appears unaffected
          by the cheering crowd. The sits with the crowd.
          
                              RICK
                    Helluva talent, that kid.
          
          John flashes a quick grin, never missing a beat in his phone
          call.
          
                              RICK
                    Probably be in the bigs in another
                    year.
          
          John nods, smiles and turns away from Rick to continue
          uninterrupted.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S HOUSE
          
          MELANIE SIMMERS, twenty-four, scurries around a sparse, but
          neatly adorned house getting dressed.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Zach? Are you ready? Mommy, can't
                    be late again.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          INT. MELANIE'S HOUSE - ZACH'S BEDROOM
          
          ZACH SIMMERS, six, sits on his bed in pajamas.
          
                                 ZACH
                    I'm ready.
          
          Melanie ENTERS.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Come on baby. Don't do this to
                    mommy. Not today.
          
                                                               2.
          
          
          
                              ZACH
                    I don't want to go. Melanie hastily
                    dresses her son.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Zach, do you want mommy to get
                    fired?
          
                                ZACH
                    Yes.
          
                              MELANIE
                    If I get fired we won't have the
                    money to go to Six Flags. Zach
                    quickly dresses himself.
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. AKRON'S CANAL PARK - DAY
          
          John still talks on his cell.
          
                              RICK
                    Must be something to have that kind
                    of talent. He's just a kid,
                    nineteen, twenty tops, and if he
                    stays healthy and he stays focused,
                    the world is his oyster. Guys like
                    you and me, we squandered those
                    opportunities long ago.
          
          John ends his call and turns back to Rick.
          
                                JOHN
                    You.
          
                                RICK
                    Huh?
                              JOHN
                    Guys like you...
          
                                RICK
                    And me...
          
                              JOHN
                    ... squandered opportunities. I, on
                    the other hand, knew where I was
                    going. I had that kind of drive, I
                    just never had the talent.
          
                              RICK
                    You knew where you were going?
          
                                                                  3.
          
          
          
                              JOHN
                    Absolutely.
          
                              RICK
                    At nineteen?
          
                              JOHN
                    Without question.
          
                              RICK
                    The only thing I knew for certain
                    was that I would run to the corner
                    store every day for beer.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          EXT. DAIRY MART - DAY
          
          Melanie pulls into a parking space and turns the car off.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Lock your door. I'll be right back.
                    Melanie opens her door.
          
                               ZACH
                    Mom?
          
          Melanie pops her head back in the car.
          
                               MELANIE
                    What?
          
                              ZACH
                    I'm not thirteen. It's against the
                    law to leave me alone in a car
                    until I'm thirteen.
          
                               MELANIE
                    Come on.
          
          Zach EXITS.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. AKRON'S CANAL PARK - DAY
          
          John's phone RINGS. He ignores the call.
          
                              JOHN
                    I had priorities. I understood what
                    it meant to have an attention span.
          
                                                                   4.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    You could focus?
          
                              JOHN
                    I was the King of Focus.
          
                              RICK
                    The Duke of Diligence?
          
                              JOHN
                    The Count of Concentration.
          
          Rick is still looking at John when he hears the CRACK of the
          bat.
          
                               RICK
                    Duck.
          
                               JOHN
                    Huh?
          
          Rick ducks. John appears perplexed. John's POV: A foul ball
          is screaming in his direction. Too late: The ball strikes
          John in the face knocking him out of his seat. Rick recovers
          and continues to snack on his popcorn.
          
                              RICK
                    The Polestar Prince.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAIRY MART
          
          Melanie carries a soda and a bag of chips. Zach stands at the
          cooler looking through the glass.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Did you decide?
                              ZACH
                    I want Coke.
          
                               MELANIE
                    Get one.
          
                               ZACH
                    No, Pepsi.
                        (A beat)
                    No, Seven-Up. Maybe root beer.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Make up your mind already.
          
                                                                  5.
          
          
          
                              ZACH
                    So many choices. A glance to her
                    watch.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. MAIN STREET - AKRON OHIO - DAY
          
          The game is over. Rick and John stand at the front gate. The
          exiting CROWD flows around them. John holds an ice pack to
          the side of his face.
          
                              JOHN
                    I'm just saying grow up. You can't
                    keep drifting.
                              RICK
                    I thought I did grow up...
          
                              JOHN
                    When you got married?
          
                               RICK
                    Yeah...
          
                              JOHN
                    You matured a little.
          
                              RICK
                    It's a process.
          
                              JOHN
                    No Bueller, it's a decision. One
                    you need to make. You can't keep
                    running without direction. If you
                    don't know where you're going
                    you'll never get what you want.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAIRY MART
          
          Melanie and Zach stand at the counter. The CLERK rings them
          out. Zach grabs the bottle from the counter.
          
                              ZACH
                    I want Sobe.
          
          Melanie snatches the bottle back.
          
                               MELANIE
                    Too bad.
          
                                                             6.
          
          
          
          An impatient LINE OF CUSTOMERS waits.
          
                              ZACH
                    I don't want Coke. I want Sobe.
          
          Melanie puts the bottle back on the counter.
          
                              MELANIE
                        (To clerk.)
                    We'll take the soda.
          
          Zach stomps his feet.
          
                              CLERK
                    Two dollars and...
                              MELANIE
                    Hold on a minute. Please?
          
                              CUSTOMER
                    Come on lady.
          
          A beat as Zach and Melanie exchange glares.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Get your Sobe.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. MAIN STREET - AKRON OHIO - DAY
          
          The crowd has waned.
          
                              RICK
                    I thought I got direction...
          
                              JOHN
                    When Cindy had kids?
                                 RICK
                    Yeah...
          
                              JOHN
                    They gave you purpose. But purpose,
                    my friend, is not direction.
          
                                 RICK
                    East.
          
                                 JOHN
                    Huh?
          
                                                                  7.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    My direction is east. I parked in
                    the deck.
          
                              JOHN
                    I'm right around the...
          
                               RICK
                    Corner?
          
                               JOHN
                    Yeah.
          
                              RICK
                    We're always going in different
                    directions.
                              JOHN
                    Mine are much more productive.
          
                              RICK
                    And much less adventurous.
          
                              JOHN
                    Well, I'm gonna...
          
                               RICK
                    Go?
          
                               JOHN
                    Yeah.
          
                               RICK
                    Then go.
          
                              JOHN
                    That's what I'm going to do.
                    Responsibility calls.
          John turns and heads south. Rick takes a bite of popcorn,
          looks to the sky for a moment, grins, and heads off
          Northeast.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S CAR - DAY
          
          Zach takes a long swig of Sobe.
          
                              ZACH
                    Sobe sucks. I want Coke.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                          8.
          
          
          
          EXT. MAIN STREET - AKRON OHIO - DAY
          
          John jogs up behind Rick.
          
                              JOHN
                    You want to...
          
                              RICK
                    Get a beer?
          
                              JOHN
                    Yeah.
          
                              RICK
                    Can't.
                              JOHN
                    Can't?
          
                              RICK
                    Gotta get home.
          
                              JOHN
                    Why?
          
                              RICK
                    Family, my man. Take time off for a
                    ballgame ya should probably tend to
                    the family too. You should try it
                    sometime.
          
                              JOHN
                    In the grand scheme of things
                    family is a liability, not an
                    asset. Rick continues on.
          
                              JOHN
                        (Calling out.)
                    Do you even know what you're doing
                    or where you're going?
          
                               RICK
                        (Yelling over his
                          shoulder.)
                    East.
          
                              JOHN
                    East leads nowhere, my friend. You
                    should be heading south. The bar is
                    south. East takes you places you
                    don't want to go.
          
                                                                     9.
          
          
          
          Rick reaches the corner and darts across the street.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. CAR DEALERSHIP
          
          Melanie stands in front of her BOSS (20's).
          
                              BOSS
                    You're late.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I know, but...
          
                              BOSS
                    No buts. You're late.
                                MELANIE
                    But...
          
                              BOSS
                    It's the third time this week Mel.
                    You put me in a rough spot here. My
                    boss wants me to let you go. His
                    boss wants me to let you go. I
                    gotta let you go.
          
                                MELANIE
                    But...
          
                              BOSS
                    If a person isn't responsible
                    enough to be prompt to their job,
                    they're not responsible enough to
                    work for me.
          
                                MELANIE
                    But...
                              BOSS
                    You're fired Mel. Just get your
                    things and go.
          
          A beat as Melanie turns to leave.
          
                              BOSS
                    We still on for dinner?
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. POLICE CRUISER - DAY
          
          TWO OFFICERS parked on Main watch Rick cross the street.
          
                                                                 10.
          
          
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Is that...?
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    You think...?
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Naw...
          
          Officer's POV: A WANTED POSTER of Rick Stevens.
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    Can't tell from here...
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Too far away. Let's roost him.
                              OFFICER TWO
                    Call it in.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. AKRON'S BUCHTEL AVE - DAY
          
          Rick walks East on Buchtel as Police cruiser creeps behind.
          
          INT. POLICE CRUISER - DAY
          
          Officer's POV: Slowly driving past, the officers recognize
          Rick.
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    It's him... get him, get him, get
                    him. They curb the car in front of
                    Rick.
          
          EXT. AKRON'S BUCHTEL AVE - DAY
          Rick appears dumbfounded as the officers exit the cruiser
          with guns drawn. Officer One remains stationary. Officer Two
          circles behind Rick.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Get em up. Up I said... up.
          
                              RICK
                    Huh?
          
                               OFFICER TWO
                    Get `em where we can see `em
                    slimeball.
          
          Rick raises his hands, dropping his popcorn.
          
                                                                    11.
          
          
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Oh, we got ourselves a litterbug
                    here.
          
                               RICK
                    What?
          
          Placing his pistol back in his holster Officer Two grabs Rick
          by the collar and throws him against the cruiser. Officer One
          remains drawn on Rick. His hands shake with nervous
          anticipation.
          
                              RICK
                    What's going...
          
                               OFFICER ONE
                    Shaddup!
          
          Officer Two cuffs Rick. Leaning in, he speaks in Rick's ear.
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    You know your rights, cretin, but
                    just in case you don't...
          
                              RICK
                    What the hell? Officer Two spins
                    Rick to face him.
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    You have the right to shut the hell
                    up. Do you understand this right?
          
                               RICK
                    Yes.
          
          Officer One appears very eager to discharge his weapon.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Shut him the hell up, Jimmy.
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    If you don't shut the hell up my
                    partner might exercise his right to
                    shoot you. Do you understand?
          
          `Yes' begins to form on Rick's lips. A quick glance at
          Officer One and he decides to nod.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    He's looking at me funny, Jimmy.
          
                                                                 12.
          
          
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    You have the right not to look at
                    my partner in any way that might be
                    construed as `funny' which could
                    result in harm to your person. Do
                    you understand this right?
          
          Rick nods again.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    He twitching?
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    Really? I don't think he is. Are
                    you twitching boy?
                                RICK
                    No Sir.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Look at him, he's twitching.
                    Nothing pisses me off more than
                    twitching and talking. If he
                    doesn't stop I'm gonna waste him.
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    You have the right not to twitch or
                    shiver or make any other odd
                    movements that might encourage my
                    partner to discharge his weapon, do
                    you understand?
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. CAR DEALERSHIP
          
          Melanie grabs her stuff.
                              BOSS
                    You never answered about tonight.
          
                              MELANIE
                    You're making a huge mistake.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          EXT. BUCHTEL AVE. - DAY
          
          An unmarked car pulls on scene. The door opens. Low in on
          walking feet and pan up to reveal DETECTIVE JOHNSON, (50's),
          a gruff man in tweed.
          
                                                                 13.
          
          
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    What do we got here boys?
          
                              OFFICER TWO
                    It's him. We got him.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    He's a twitcher... a twitcher and a
                    talker. Boy, I tell you, if he'd
                    twitched one more time I would've
                    deposited large amounts of hot lead
                    in his ass.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    I'll take it from here boys.
                              OFFICER TWO
                    Report too?
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    No, that's your job.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    If we have to write the report I
                    say I get to shoot him.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    No one's getting shot today, Bobby.
          
                              OFFICER ONE
                    Can't I just wing him or something?
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Jimmy; get him out of here.
          
          Officer Two moves to his unwilling partner and helps him
          place his weapon in his holster. Officer One's hand is still
          clenched to his gun as Officer Two drags him around the car
          and forces him into the cruiser.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S CAR - DAY
          
          Melanie drives.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Tell me I'm not responsible...
                    asshole. I have a kid. He has a
                    goldfish. I have my dignity.
                              (MOR E)
          
                                                                 14.
          
                              MEL ANIE (cont'd)
                    He has a brown ring on his collar.
                    He's nothing more than a turd with
                    feet.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. UNMARKED CAR - DAY
          
          Rick is restless in the back seat. Johnson glances in the
          rear view mirror.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    You don't want to piss Bobby off.
                    He's a little unstable.
          
                              RICK
                    A little? He represents your force?
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Affirmative action. We have to hire
                    our fair share of disabled ---
                    Quota thing.
          
                               RICK
                    His psychosis doesn't appear
                    disabling.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. HOUSE - DAY
          
          MRS. NELSON, (60's), prepares a snack.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Where's Zach?
          
                              MRS. NELSON
                    Fired again?
                              MELANIE
                    I don't want to talk about it.
          
                              MRS. NELSON
                    The first thing I learned when I
                    retired was that time management is
                    an asset.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                                 15.
          
          
          
          INT. AKRON POLICE DEPARTMENT - LINE UP ROOM
          
          FIVE diverse MEN, including Rick, stand against the wall. On
          the other side of the mirror Detective Johnson sits with THE
          LADY IN BLACK (30's). A black veil streams from her hat
          covering her eyes, circa 1930's.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Take your time, Ma'am. We need you
                    to be certain.
          
                              LADY IN BLACK
                    Can I see their profiles?
          
          Detective Johnson keys a microphone.
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Turn to your left. The men follow
                    their instruction.
          
                              LADY IN BLACK
                    I just... I just don't know...
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Back to front.
          
          Three men turn to face forward. The other two turn to face
          the wall.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    All of you face forward. The two
                    turn forward.
          
                              LADY IN BLACK
                    Number three...
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Are you sure?
                              LADY IN BLACK
                    Could you have him step forward?
          
          The Detective keys his microphone again.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Number three take two steps
                    forward.
          
          Rick steps forward and the lights dim on the other four.
          Caught in the spotlight, Rick squints from the brightness.
          The lady in black shifts in her seat. A long beat.
          
                                                                    16.
          
          
          
                              LADY IN BLACK
                    That's him.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    You're positive?
          
                              LADY IN BLACK
                    I'm positive. That's the man that
                    needs to be in custody.
          
          The detective keys his microphone once again.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Okay number three step back. Rick
                    does as he's told.
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    Turn to your right --- all of
                    you...
          
          The group follows the detective's instruction.
          
                              DETECTIVE JOHNSON
                    ...and exit.
          
          One by one the men filter through the door. Rick EXITS.
          
                                                    DISSOLVE TO:
          
          INT. THEATER - CONTINUOUS
          
          Rick ENTERS on stage. The entire theater is cast in shades of
          gray. The stage is barren. There is no audience. He looks
          around for a moment and as he reaches center stage is once
          again flooded with the spotlight. Rick uses his arm to shade
          his eyes. SFX: A SOFT DIN OF VOICES. Looking stage left Rick
          realizes TWELVE JURORS have appeared in their box. A small
          AUDIENCE has congregated. SFX: THE DIN SWELLS TO A QUIET
          CHAOS. A RAPPING of a gavel and Rick's attention swings to a
          white haired JUDGE (70's).
          
                              JUDGE
                    Order in the court.
          
          The noise level wanes, but not completely. Another RAP of the
          gavel.
          
                              JUDGE
                    Order in the court, I say.
          
          Focused on the Judge, Rick doesn't notice THE PROSECUTOR
          approaching from stage right.
          
                                                                   17.
          
          
          Carrying a folding chair in one hand, notes and manila
          folders in the other, he sets the chair behind Rick.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    Have a seat.
          
                              JUDGE
                    Do you know why you're here today,
                    Mr. Stevens?
          
                              RICK
                    Why am I here?
          
                              JUDGE
                    Are you being rhetorical?
          
                              RICK
                    Are you asking me?
          
                              JUDGE
                    You stand here today an accused
                    man.
          
                              RICK
                    Accused? Accused of what?
          
                              JUDGE
                    You have been placed in custody of
                    your children.
          
                                 RICK
                    Huh?
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    Your children, Mr. Stevens. You do
                    realize you have children, don't
                    you?
          
                              RICK
                    Yes, but...
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    But nothing Mr. Stevens, either you
                    have children or you don't.
          
                                 RICK
                    I do.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    So, you accept responsibility for
                    bringing young life into the world?
          
                                 RICK
                    I guess...
          
                                               18.
          
          
          
                    PROSECUTOR
          There's no guessing, Mr. Stevens,
          either you're responsible for
          siring offspring or you aren't.
          
                    RICK
          I am, but I'm not sure it was
          responsible.
          
                    PROSECUTOR
          A crime of passion, Mr. Stevens?
          How convenient.
              (A beat)
          And you accept the consequences of
          said actions?
                    RICK
          Why am I here?
          
                    PROSECUTOR
          Why are you here, Mr. Stevens? Why
          are you here? I'll tell you why
          you're here. Are you familiar with
          Ms. Cynthia Stevens?
          
                    RICK
          Yeah, she's my wife.
          
                    PROSECUTOR
          Was your wife, Sir. Was your wife.
          She recently filed for divorce.
          Were you aware of that?
          
                    RICK
          No, no I wasn't.
          
                    PROSECUTOR
          Well, she did. She also named you
          as her coconspirator in the act of
          having children. Were you aware of
          that, Mr. Stevens?
          
                       RICK
          Again, no.
          
                    PROSECUTOR
          Mr. Stevens, you just told the
          court that you aware you had
          children. You have also admitted
          that Ms. Cynthia Stevens was, in
          fact, your wife.
                    (MOR E)
          
                                                                    19.
          
                              PRO SECUT OR (cont'd)
                    On top of that you told this court
                    that you accepted the
                    responsibility of having said
                    children, did you not?
          
                              RICK
                    Yes, but...
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    Then why, Mr. Stevens, do you
                    continue to deny culpability in
                    this situation?
          
          Rick realizes the audience has swelled to nearly a full
          house. Beads of sweat form on his brow.
          
                              JUDGE
                    Answer the question.
          
                              AUDIENCE
                    Answer the question.
          
          Like a trapped animal, Rick looks for his escape.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    The question, Mr. Stevens.
          
                              RICK
                    How can you be sure it was me?
          
          The audience hisses. The Judge RAPS his gavel.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    She picked you out of a lineup,
                    Sir. What more do you need?
          
                              RICK
                    Time.
                              PROSECUTOR
                    Time is not an option, Mr. Stevens.
                    Time --- is not --- an option.
          
          A look of sad resignation crosses Rick's face.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    You don't deny being married to Ms.
                    Stevens, nor do you deny the act of
                    procreation. You seem to understand
                    that your actions bear consequence.
                    You seem to understand that with
                    parenthood, came responsibility.
                              (MOR E)
          
                                                                  20.
          
                              PRO SECUT OR (cont'd)
                    It seems to me, as it should to
                    anyone with the capacity for simple
                    deduction that you, Mr. Stevens,
                    did willingly and knowingly enter
                    into the commitments of parenthood
                    fully aware of the potential
                    pratfalls. Did you not?
          
                              RICK
                    Yes, yes I did.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    It's time to pay the piper, Mr.
                    Stevens.
                        (To the Judge)
                    It is the recommendation of the
                    State that Richard C. Stevens been
                    sentenced to the fullest capacity
                    allowed by law.
          
                              RICK
                    What about Cindy?
          
                                 PROSECUTOR
                    Excuse me?
          
                              RICK
                    My ex, Cindy, what about her
                    responsibilities to the children?
          
          The Prosecutor moves to Rick and whispers in his ear.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    She cut a deal, Rick. You were the
                    one we wanted. You were the one we
                    got. She took the plea. Sure, it
                    costs her financially. But what is
                    freedom worth?
          A CLAMOR begins to rise from the crowd as they talk among
          themselves. The RAP of the gavel.
          
                              JUDGE
                    I see no reason to extend this any
                    further. Mr. Stevens you have been
                    found competent by the State and by
                    this Court. You are completely
                    cognizant of your surroundings, and
                    you leave me no choice. This court
                    finds you guilty as charged.
          
                              RICK
                    Guilty of what?
          
                                                                 21.
          
          
          
                              JUDGE
                    You are hereby remanded to custody
                    of your children for no less than a
                    lifetime. This Court is adjourned.
          
          A GASP in the audience mixed with CHEERS. Rick appears
          dumbfounded. A BAILIFF approaches Rick and begins to lead him
          off stage. Rick scuffles and struggles. The Judge stands and
          begins to collect his files.
          
                              RICK
                    I can't do this alone. Don't make
                    me do this alone. I'll never make
                    it...
          
                              JUDGE
                    If you can't do the time, Mr.
                    Stevens, then don't do the crime.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. HOUSE - DAY
          
          Mrs. Nelson ENTERS the kitchen carrying a book. She hands the
          book to Melanie.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Highly Effective Strategies of Time
                    Management for the Single Parent?
          
                              MRS. NELSON
                    Learn it. Live it.
          
                              MELANIE
                    It was written by a man... a
                    married man.
          
                              MRS. NELSON
                    Lots of single parents are married.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL - CELL
          
          Rick sits alone, his head hung low. A JAILER, (40's)
          approaches leading THREE YOUNG CHILDREN to the cell. KRIS,
          (8), is followed by PHILLIP, (6), and NICHOLAS, (4). The door
          swings open. The children run to their father.
          
                              KRIS
                    Daddy!
          
                                              22.
          
          
          
                     RICK
          Hi guys.
          
                    PHILLIP
          I love you daddy.
          
                    RICK
          I love you too, Phillip.
          
                    NICHOLAS
          I love you more.
          
                    RICK
          I love you more.
          
                    NICHOLAS
          I love YOU more.
          
                    KRIS
          Daddy, how come you're in jail?
          
                    PHILLIP
          Is this where we live?
          
                    KRIS
          When can we see mommy?
          
                    RICK
          Come here guys. I want to talk to
          you. The boys gather round.
          
                    PHILLIP
          What's wrong Daddy?
          
                    RICK
          I don't know when we're going to
          see your mom again.
                    KRIS
          Is she okay?
          
                    RICK
          She's kind of mad at daddy.
          
                    NICHOLAS
          Mommy mad at me too?
          
                    RICK
          No, baby, not at all. Your mom
          needs time to work through some
          things. So, for awhile, it's just
          going to be us...
          
                                                                 23.
          
          
          
                              KRIS
                    What's she need time for?
          
                              RICK
                    To figure out who she is, where
                    she's going, what she wants.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I miss mommy.
          
                              RICK
                    She misses you too, baby. And this
                    isn't permanent... we're going to
                    fight this... we're going to
                    appeal. We'll take it to the
                    Supreme Court if we have to.
                              KRIS
                    You don't want us either?
          
                              RICK
                    Of course I want you. I just don't
                    think I should have to do this
                    alone.
          
          The jailer still lingers in the doorway, leaning against the
          bars.
          
                              JAILER
                    I feel for you, I really do, but
                    I've seen your kind before. You're
                    a lifer. Whether it's fair or not.
                    Whether justice was served. It
                    doesn't matter. You're here for the
                    duration.
          
          The boys cling to their father. The CLANK of the door being
          closed. The Jailer WHISTLES a sad spiritual as he walks away.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
          
          Melanie sits on her couch and cries. Zach ENTERS.
          
                              ZACH
                    What's wrong mommy?
          
                               MELANIE
                    Nothing.
          
                                                                 24.
          
          
          
                              ZACH
                    Why are you crying? Did I do
                    something wrong?
          
                              MELANIE
                    Nothing at all baby.
          
                              ZACH
                        (Pulling a book from an
                         end table)
                    Tell me a story?
          
          The camera pulls back to reveal that the room is really a
          well furnished cell.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Once upon a time, a very long time
                    ago...
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL - CELL
          
          Kids and toys are strewn across the floor. Rick wears a heavy
          shade of facial growth. He reads The Genealogy of Morals. The
          Jailer stands at the cell door.
          
                              JAILER
                    Get yourself cleaned up.
          
                              RICK
                    Huh?
          
                               JAILER
                    You have visitors... in the
                    courtyard.
          
          EXT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL - COURTYARD - DAY
          Shaved and wearing sunglasses, Rick approaches his parents.
          He reaches his FATHER, (60's), first.
          
                              FATHER
                    Quite the pickle you've got
                    yourself in.
          
                              RICK
                    So it seems.
          
          Rick's MOTHER gives him a big hug.
          
                                                                 25.
          
          
          
                              MOTHER
                    She was no good for you. I knew it
                    from the start.
          
                              RICK
                    Mom, don't... okay?
          
                              MOTHER
                    Just saying...
          
                              RICK
                    I know, but what's done is done.
          
          The children notice their grandparents and run to greet them.
          They tackle their grandfather's legs.
                              FATHER
                    There's my boys.
          
          BOYS IN UNISON
          
          Grandpa. Rick and his mother sit at a picnic table while the
          boys play with their grandfather.
          
                              MOTHER
                    You're dad and I are here for you.
          
                              RICK
                    I know mom.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Are you eating?
          
                              RICK
                    Yeah, I guess.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Do you need anything? Food? Money?
                              RICK
                    Watch the kids one night? I could
                    use some time to myself.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Um... Yeah... okay... I suppose
                    that would be all right... we'd
                    have to ask your father, but I
                    don't see why that would be a
                    problem.
                        (a beat)
                    Other than that everything's okay?
          
                                                                    26.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    We're okay...
          
                              MOTHER
                    Because it doesn't have to be like
                    this. Mary Ryan, a friend of mine,
                    her son had the same thing happen
                    to him. Wife just up and left with
                    no warning at all. He didn't waste
                    a day. No sir, he was up and at `em
                    almost instantly. You can leave
                    here, you know? Mary Ryan's son
                    did.
          
                              RICK
                    I like it here, mom.
                              MOTHER
                    What's to like? It's dingy and
                    filthy. It's no place to raise
                    children.
          
                               RICK
                    It's home and it's stable. The one
                    thing the boys need right now is
                    stability.
          
                              MOTHER
                    You can't keep hiding forever.
          
                              RICK
                    It's been five days, mom. I'm not
                    hiding. I just need time to adjust.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Mary Ryan's son thinks you're
                    hiding.
                              RICK
                    Do I know this guy?
          
          Rick's mother slides a business card across the picnic table.
          
                              MOTHER
                    No, but I think you should. I hate
                    that woman. How can a mother
                    abandon her kids? How could she do
                    this to my babies?
          
          Rick looks to a blue sky.
          
                                                     DISSOLVE TO:
          
                                                                 27.
          
          
          
          EXT. FAIR - DAY
          
          CU. on a wad of blue cotton candy. Pull back to reveal Cindy
          and her new beau, SCOTT, (30's) and leather clad. Danger
          personified. Cindy walks, focused on her cotton candy. She
          doesn't realize that Scott has stopped to watch a HOTTIE walk
          past. The two exchange a flirtatious glance.
          
                              CINDY
                    Scott? Scott?
          
                               SCOTT
                        (Catching up)
                    Yeah baby?
          
                              MOTHER (VO)
                    I hope she's living in hell too.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S HOUSE
          
          Melanie looks through the want ads. Some jobs are already
          circled.
          
                              ZACH
                    What ya doing?
          
                              MELANIE
                    Looking for a job.
          
                              ZACH
                    I know what you could do.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What's that?
          
                              ZACH
                    You could stay home with me.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What do you pay?
          
          Zach reaches deep in his pocket and pulls out a few coins. He
          counts them.
          
                              ZACH
                    Sixty-five cents.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    A day?
          
                                                                 28.
          
          
          
                              ZACH
                    A week.
          
                              MELANIE
                    You can afford that?
          
                              ZACH
                    If it keeps my mommy home with me.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. FRANK RYAN'S OFFICE - DAY
          
          Rick sits across the desk from FRANK RYAN, (40): An uncouth
          Italian man who seems content to stuff his face with a
          submarine sandwich and speak through his mastication.
                              FRANK
                    So, needless to say, I understand
                    your situation. My old lady, she
                    took off and left me with the kids
                    five years ago. That bitch. But I'm
                    not bitter or anything. I found me
                    a good day care and moved on with
                    my life. You should too.
          
                              RICK
                    It's hard...
          
                              FRANK
                    Of course it's hard, sometimes
                    feels like you're in prison, but
                    you gotta be a man... stand up for
                    yourself... provide for your
                    family.
          
                              RICK
                    And you can help?
                              FRANK
                    Me? I'll put ya to work. Some long
                    hours, but it all pays off. Keeps
                    you off the welfare system if ya
                    know what I mean.
          
                              RICK
                    Yeah.
          
                              FRANK
                    I'd rather pay you than pay the
                    government to pay you. You can
                    start Monday.
          
                                                                   29.
          
          
          
          Rick stands to leave.
          
                              FRANK
                    Here's the number to the day-care.
                    Tell them you know me, they'll cut
                    you a break.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. CAR - EARLY MORNING
          
          The clock reads 5:45 when Rick pulls into the day-care
          parking lot.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          INT. DAY-CARE
          
          Rick and the boys follow MS. HEATH on the guided tour.
          
                               MS. HEATH
                    And when school starts we have a
                    bus service that will take the two
                    oldest to and from school. We have
                    story hour at Eleven, lunch at
                    noon, and nap time at Twelve-
                    thirty. Rest assured our programs
                    are designed to be nurturing,
                    caring environments that provide
                    the parental guidance your children
                    need in those hours you can't be
                    with them. So, are there any
                    questions?
          
                              RICK
                    No, you seemed to cover everything.
                    Ms. Heath bends down to the kid's
                    level.
                              MS. HEATH
                    You're going to like it here.
          
          The kids grab Rick's leg. Nicholas cries.
          
                              KRIS AND PHILLIP
                    No, daddy, don't leave us here.
          
          Ms. Heath looks up to Rick.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                        (Reassuringly)
                    They'll be just fine.
          
                                                                   30.
          
          
          
          INT. BUILDING - DAY
          
          Rick pushes a broom as the clock unwinds.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          Melanie sits in front of her FIRST INTERVIEWER.
          
                              FIRST INTERVIEWER
                    I'm sorry. It would be really nice
                    to have you on board, but you're
                    just a little too qualified.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          INT. DAY-CARE
          
          The children are into everything. There appears to be
          absolutely no rules.
          
          INT. BREAK ROOM
          
          Rick eats his lunch.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAY-CARE REST ROOM
          
          The children are engaged in a food fight.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          Melanie sits in front of her SECOND INTERVIEWER.
                              SECOND INTERVIEWER
                    Too Qualified.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT
          
          Rick fumbles with his keys as he unlocks his car door.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          Melanie sits in front of the THIRD INTERVIEWER.
          
                                                                    31.
          
          
          
                              THIRD INTERVIEWER
                    Over qualified.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAY-CARE
          
          The children run around in their underwear, Nicholas in
          diapers, as the PROVIDER launders their clothes.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          Melanie sits in front of the FOURTH INTERVIEWER.
                              FOURTH INTERVIEWER
                    You're just not qualified.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. DAY-CARE PARKING LOT - NIGHT
          
          The clock reads 7:55 as Rick shuts off his car and opens the
          door.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          Melanie sits in front of the FIFTH INTERVIEWER.
          
                              FIFTH INTERVIEWER
                    I don't think I've seen such a
                    perfect candidate.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          INT. DAY-CARE REST ROOM
          
          The provider is hurriedly scrubbing the children's faces and
          hands.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. DAY-CARE - NIGHT
          
          TRACKING BESIDE, Rick reaches the door and opens it.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                                 32.
          
          
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          Melanie leans forward in her seat.
          
                               MELANIE
                    Really?
          
          INT. DAY-CARE REST ROOM
          
          The children are crying.
          
                              PROVIDER
                    You are bad, bad children.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          INT. DAY-CARE HALLWAY
          
          Rick approaches the room. STEDICAM on Rick's face
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          CU. on Fifth Interviewer.
          
                              FIFTH INTERVIEWER
                    Education level. Work experience.
                    You really fit the billet.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAY-CARE ROOM
          
          As Rick ENTERS the children run to him.
          
                              RICK
                    So, did everything go okay?
                              PROVIDER
                    They were angels.
          
                              RICK
                    Did you have fun boys?
          
          The boys look to the provider who has a nasty scowl on her
          face.
          
          BOYS IN UNISON
          
          We love it.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
                                                                  33.
          
          
          
          EXT. DAY-CARE PARKING LOT - NIGHT
          
          Rick loads the kids into the car.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. CAR - NIGHT
          
          The boys GIGGLE as they rough house in the back seat.
          
                              RICK
                    Get those seat belts on. The kids
                    reluctantly comply.
          
                              RICK
                    So, how was your day?
          BOYS IN UNISON
          
          We're hungry.
          
                              RICK
                    Didn't they feed you? They said
                    they would feed you. The brochure
                    said meals provided.
          
                              KRIS
                    We didn't eat nuffin.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Daddy, I'm hungry.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE
          
          CU. on Melanie. She appears relieved.
                              FIFTH INTERVIEWER
                    Unfortunately we filled the
                    position earlier today. WHIP PAN to
                    cell doors slamming closed.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. FAST FOOD RESTAURANT - NIGHT
          
          Rick pulls through the drive-thru, takes his order from a
          smiling EMPLOYEE, and doles out the grub the as he drives
          off.
          
                                                                    34.
          
          
          
          INT. CAR - NIGHT
          
          The kids aren't interested in eating. French-fries are flying
          everywhere.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. FRANK RYAN'S OFFICE - DAY
          
          Rick stands in a doorway. Frank fingers through a file
          cabinet.
          
                              FRANK
                    So, how was your first week?
          
                              RICK
                    Thirteen hours a day doesn't leave
                    me much time for my kids, But a
                    job's a job, right?
          
                              FRANK
                    Now you're talking.
          
          Frank finds Rick's check and smiles as he hands him his
          laurels.
          
                              RICK
                    Two hundred and fifty bucks?
          
                              FRANK
                    Pretty good, huh?
          
                              RICK
                    Two-hundred-and-fifty-bucks?
          
                              FRANK
                    Don't spend it all in one place.
                              RICK
                    I give you sixty-five hours of my
                    time and you give me two hundred
                    fifty bucks?
          
                              FRANK
                    It's the American way. This country
                    was founded on low paying, back
                    breaking, long hour jobs. Why, work
                    like this makes you a bona fide
                    patriot. Ya gotta love it.
          
                                                                 35.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                        (Mumbling as he EXITS)
                    What's not to love?
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAY-CARE - NIGHT
          
          Ready to leave, the boys goof in the hallway. In the office
          Rick waits patiently as Ms. Heath tallies up the weekly
          totals.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    That will be two hundred seventy-
                    five dollars and thirty-six cents.
                              RICK
                    I'm a little short.
          
          Rick takes the money from his pocket and hands it to Ms.
          Heath.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    We take checks too.
          
                              RICK
                    Checks?
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    Those things you use when you don't
                    have money.
          
                              RICK
                    I'm sorry, I'm clueless. My wife
                    handled the checks.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    Ah.
                              RICK
                    Does it help that I know Frank
                    Ryan? He told me to mention his
                    name.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    You know Frank?
          
                              RICK
                    I work for him.
          
          Ms. Heath looks back to her books.
          
                                                                  36.
          
          
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    That changes everything.
          
                                 RICK
                    Great.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    Two hundred ninety-five dollars and
                    thirty-six cents.
          
                                 RICK
                    Huh?
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    Frank owes me money and one way or
                    another, I will collect.
                              RICK
                    So, I'm forty-five dollars short...
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    And thirty-six cents. Don't worry
                    about it. It's your first week. You
                    didn't know, so, we'll let it ride
                    and just add it to next week's
                    balance. A beat as Rick turns to
                    leave.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    You know there is a way you could
                    save quite a bit of money.
          
                                 RICK
                    Really?
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    Potty train the toddler.
          Ms. Heath pulls some literature from her desk drawer.
          
                              RICK
                    Potty train? Nicky?
          
                              MS. HEATH
                        (Handing Rick the
                         pamphlet)
                    The toddler.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S HOUSE
          
          Melanie sits at a computer.
          
                                                                   37.
          
          
          
                                 ZACH
                    Mommy?
          
                                 MELANIE
                    Yes, baby?
          
                              ZACH
                    When are we going to have a normal
                    life.
          
                              MELANIE
                    We do have a normal life... for us.
          
                              ZACH
                    I mean when are we going to be like
                    other people?
          She pulls a flyer from the printer. CU. on flyer: BABY
          SITTING
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL CELL
          
          Rick and Nicholas sit on the cot. Rick reads to himself.
          Nicholas looks at the pictures.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Big boy go potty.
          
                              RICK
                    Are you a big boy?
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Huge-mong-gus.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. GROCERY STORE
          Rick and the boys are in the baby isle. Rick picks up a pack
          of Pull-Ups studies it for a moment and throws it in the
          cart. On a community bulletin board he sees a flyer for baby
          sitting. He pulls the flyer, folds it and stuffs it in his
          pocket.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL CELL - LATER
          
          Rick sets Nicholas on the potty.
          
                                                                 38.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    Big boys go potty on the potty,
                    Nicholas. Nicholas go potty on the
                    potty?
          
          Nicky shakes his head no.
          
                              RICK
                    You're brothers go potty on the
                    potty. Daddy goes potty on the
                    potty. Nicholas go potty on the
                    potty?
          
          Nicky shakes his head again no again.
          
                              RICK (CONT'D)
                    Daddy will buy Nicky a toy from the
                    store.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Okay.
          
                              RICK
                    If Nicky goes potty on the potty.
          
          Nicky shakes his head no and begins to cry.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I want a toy!
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. WALMART
          
          Rick and the boys are in the toy isle. Nicholas has a huge
          grin on his face and a big toy in his hand. Rick takes the
          toy and tosses it in the cart.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL CELL
          
          Nicky stands in front of his father.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I have to go potty?
          
          Rick sits up abruptly.
          
                              RICK
                    Really?
          
                                                                 39.
          
          
          
                                NICHOLAS
                    All done.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. DAY-CARE - NIGHT
          
          Rick is in Ms. Heath's office again.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    How's the potty training coming?
          
                              RICK
                    I think we're making progress.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    Three hundred forty and...
          
                              RICK
                    Seventy-two cents. Here's two-
                    fifty.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    You're still short.
          
                              RICK
                    I know and I'm working on that.
          
                              MS. HEATH
                    May I remind you that we're not a
                    charity? If you need credit go to a
                    bank. I run a reputable business
                    and I need the balance by next
                    Wednesday, or maybe you should
                    consider other arrangements.
          
          Phillip runs into the office crying. Blood streams down his
          head. Kris follows close behind.
                              KRIS
                    I didn't do it.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM
          
          Rick, Kris and Nicky sit patiently. Rick's Mother and Father
          BURST through the doors.
          
                              MOTHER
                    What happened? Where is he? Is he
                    going to be okay?
          
                                                                 40.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    He's going to be fine. They're
                    working on him now. From what they
                    told me it's just a few stitches.
          
                              FATHER
                    Boys will be boys. A NURSE peeks
                    out.
          
                              NURSE
                    Mr. Stevens can you come back? The
                    doctor could use your help in
                    calming the child down.
          
                                 RICK
                    Mom?
                              MOTHER
                    Just go. I'll watch these two.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. HOSPITAL SUTURE ROOM
          
          Phillip is in a halo. The DOCTOR appears perplexed as he
          stands near the child. Rick ENTERS.
          
                                 DOCTOR
                    Thank God.
          
                              RICK
                    How can I help?
          
                              DOCTOR
                    Well, I need to give him a local so
                    that I can sew the laceration, but
                    he's not cooperating. Maybe hold
                    his hand and distract him?
          Rick moves to Phillip.
          
                              RICK
                    Hi little buddy.
          
                                 PHILLIP
                    Hi Daddy.
          
                              RICK
                    I need you to be a good boy, okay?
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Okay daddy.
          
                                                                 41.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    So, did you have fun today.
          
                               PHILLIP
                    Uh huh.
          
                              RICK
                    Did you play with all your friends?
          
                               PHILLIP
                    Uh huh.
          
          The doc injects the child.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    That fuckin' hurts!
                               RICK
                    Phillip!
          
                              PHILLIP
                    But daddy, it does.
          
                              RICK
                    That's a big people word. You're a
                    little people, and little people
                    don't use big people words.
          
                               PHILLIP
                    Okay.
          
                               RICK
                        (To Doctor)
                    I'm sorry.
          
          The doctor offers a smug smile and begins to sew the cut.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Do that again and my daddy's going
                    to kick your ass.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. HOSPITAL EMERGENCY AREA
          
          Phillip runs down the hall with a huge butterfly bandage on
          his head. He stops to chat with all the NURSES. Rick walks a
          few steps behind carrying his coat. The doctor hurries to
          catch up with Rick.
          
                              RICK
                    Look I'm really sorry.
          
                                                                 42.
          
          
          
                              DOCTOR
                    Can I ask you something?
          
          Rick shifts uncomfortably.
          
                              RICK
                    Sure, I guess.
          
                              DOCTOR
                    My son's a wuss. He cries over
                    hangnails. My wife and I have tried
                    everything to toughen him up, but
                    nothing works. I was wondering if
                    our kids could play together. Maybe
                    some of Phillip's "boy" would rub
                    off on Junior.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM
          
          Rick stands at the counter. The boys rough house with their
          grandparents in the background.
          
                                 RICK
                    Insurance?
          
                              RECEPTIONIST
                    Yeah, Insurance. That thing that
                    covers medical emergencies?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't think I have any.
          
                              RECEPTIONIST
                    Everybody has insurance.
          
                              RICK
                    I don't think I do.
          
                                 RECEPTIONIST
                    Okay.
          
          The receptionist slides a bill across the desk. From Rick's
          POV: the bill he holds shows a balance due of
          
          $637.50
          
                              RICK
                    Can I run a tab?
          
                                                                 43.
          
          
          
                              RECEPTIONIST
                    You don't have a check?
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. HOSPITAL - NIGHT
          
          Rick walks with his mother. The boys and their Grandfather
          are a few steps ahead.
          
                              RICK
                    I'm not even responsible for
                    myself. How am I suppose to raise
                    three kids?
          
                              MOTHER
                    It can be done.
          
                              RICK
                    I don't see how.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Find a way. Everything happens for
                    a reason. God doesn't abandon his
                    children, and neither will you.
          
                              RICK
                    God doesn't pay day-care.
          
                              MOTHER
                    There are other things out there...
                    less expensive ways.
          
                              RICK
                    Could you watch them?
          
                              MOTHER
                    Oh... uh... well... I don't think
                    your father is willing to do that.
                    We raised our kids, Rick.
          
                              RICK
                    How `bout tonight, so I can catch a
                    breath?
          
                              MOTHER
                    What? My watching them while you
                    were in there with Phillip wasn't
                    enough? Make me feel guilty.
          
                              RICK
                    I'll just ask God to watch them. He
                    never abandons his children.
          
                                                                 44.
          
          
          
          Rick's mom reaches in her purse and pulls some bills from her
          wallet.
          
                                 MOTHER
                    Take this.
          
                              RICK
                    I don't want your money mom.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Take the money.
          
          As Rick puts the money in his pocket he finds the flyer.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL CELL
          
          Nicky sits on the potty.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I can't do it Daddy.
          
                              RICK
                    You can do it.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I can't do it.
          
                              RICK
                    Would you do it for a nickel?
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I can't do it.
          
          Rick lifts the child from the toilet.
          
                              RICK
                    Watch daddy.
          
          Rick stands in front of the toilet and relieves himself.
          Nicholas watches by his side. He finishes and zips himself
          up.
          
                              RICK
                    Daddy go potty in the potty.
          
                                 NICHOLAS
                    Daddy?
          
                              RICK
                    Yes, Nicky?
          
                                                                 45.
          
          
          
                                 NICHOLAS
                    I peed.
          
          Rick's POV: A puddle on the floor. A RAP on the cell door.
          Rick turns around to find MELANIE (24) looking in.
          
                                 RICK
                    Hi.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'm Melanie... The baby-sitter...
          
                              RICK
                    Oh, right, I'm glad you could...
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    My daddy has a big pee-pee.
          
                              RICK
                    I was just demonstrating the art
                    of...
          
                              MELANIE
                    It's okay. I saw.
          
                              RICK
                        (Mumbling)
                    Great.
          
          Melanie ENTERS the cell followed by Zach.
          
                              RICK
                    You have a kid.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    So do you.
          
                              RICK
                    Not criticizing, just surprised. I
                    don't believe anyone at their old
                    day-care had kids. If they did they
                    kept them in a closet and only
                    brought them out on special
                    occasions. Christmas, Easter, an
                    occasional birthday, and maybe when
                    they had friends over for dinner,
                    but only as a status symbol. It was
                    like they'd say, "Here's the white
                    picket fence. Here's the SUV.
                    Here's the dog. Oh yes, here's the
                    2.5 children. Kids you can get back
                    in the closet now."
          
                                                                 46.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    You'd could make a fortune with a
                    Renta- Kid business.
          
                              RICK
                    That has potential.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I've often thought of renting mine.
                    Why pay for a baby-sitter when
                    thousands of people would pay good
                    money to set your kid on the mantle
                    for a few hours?
          
                              RICK
                    So, what's his name?
                                ZACH
                    I'm Zach.
          
          Rick drops to a knee and extends his hand.
          
                              RICK
                    Hello Zach. I'm Rick.
          
                              ZACH
                    You're old.
          
                              RICK
                    You got me there. I am old.
          
                                ZACH
                    How old?
          
                              RICK
                    Older than dirt. When I was a kid
                    we didn't have dirt. We had rocks
                    and we had hammers. If we wanted
                    dirt we banged a few rocks with
                    really big hammers, and then we had
                    dirt.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Worked the chain gangs?
          
                              ZACH
                    You're too old for my mom.
          
          Kris and Phillip who have been sitting in the corner realize
          they have visitors and spring to greet them.
          
                                                                 47.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    This is Kristian. This is Phillip,
                    and the little guy from the potty,
                    is Nicholas. Guys, this is Zach
                    and...
          
                              MELANIE
                    Mel.
          
                              RICK
                    Mel.
          
          The four boys run OS to play.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Beautiful kids.
                              RICK
                    Thanks. So's your's.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Ever try Cheerios?
          
                              RICK
                    Huh?
          
                              MELANIE
                    For potty training. Give him
                    something to aim at. Drop a Cheerio
                    or two in the toilet and let him
                    pee away.
          
                              RICK
                    I'll have to try that. So, any
                    questions about the job? Melanie
                    moves towards the boys.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'm going to go talk to them for a
                    little bit. I'll let you know.
          
          Melanie crouches to the boy's level. They appear to take a
          real shine to her. Nicholas hands her a book, and the four of
          them move to the cell cot. The boys gather round.
          
                              ZACH
                    My mom tells great stories.
          
                              KRIS
                    We don't have a mom.
          
                              ZACH
                    That's okay, I don't have a dad.
          
                                                                  48.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    Once upon a time...
          
                                                   DISSOLVE TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          The cot morphs into a sofa. The dingy cell morphs into a well-
          lit room. Rick watches from a doorway.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    The end...
          
                              BOYS IN UNISON
                    Read it again. Read it again. Read
                    it again.
                              MELANIE
                    I'm gonna talk to your dad.
          
                                 BOYS IN UNISON
                    Please.
          
                              MELANIE
                    We'll read another one in a little
                    bit.
          
                              RICK
                    You have a real knack there.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Not a knack really. It's just about
                    finding hope in places there should
                    be none.
          
                              RICK
                    Whatever it is, I've never seen
                    them take to a woman like that.
                    Melanie smiles.
          
                              RICK
                    You want the job?
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'd like that.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                 49.
          
          
          
          INT. BUILDING - DAY
          
          Rick is pushing his broom when a gorgeous blond WOMAN walks
          past. They exchange long flirtatious looks.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie is fixing the boys sandwiches.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. BUILDING LUNCH ROOM DAY
          
          Rick and the woman sit eating lunch.
                              WOMAN
                    You're really funny... and kinda
                    cute.
          
                              RICK
                    Maybe we should...
          
                              WOMAN
                    Go out sometime? I'd like that.
                    When?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't know... maybe...
          
                                WOMAN
                    Tonight?
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          Melanie on the phone.
          
                              MELANIE
                    No problem.
          
          The boys run to her as she hangs up.
          
                              KRIS
                    Who was that?
          
                              MELANIE
                    That was your daddy.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    I love daddy.
          
                                                                    50.
          
          
          
                              KRIS
                    Is he coming home?
          
                              MELANIE
                    No, he's going to be late. He has a
                    date.
          
          They all snicker.
          
                              MELANIE
                    So, I guess you have to deal with
                    me a little while longer.
          
                                BOYS IN UNISON
                    Yeah!
          Melanie chases them in circles. They fall in a pile and
          wrestle.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. LUIGIS - NIGHT
          
          Rick picks at his food. The woman has barely touched her
          plate.
          
                              WOMAN
                    You're a single father? That's
                    wonderful. So many men refuse to
                    accept any responsibility for their
                    kids. So, how many do you have?
          
                              RICK
                    Um... three.
          
                              WOMAN
                    That's amazing. I'm sure they're
                    just angels.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          The boys jump on a bed.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. LUIGIS - NIGHT
          
          Rick appears completely devoid of the conversation.
          
                                                                 51.
          
          
          
                              WOMAN
                    My sister has three. She said when
                    the second one was born it doubled
                    the work. She didn't realize the
                    third would double the work load
                    would again. And to think you do it
                    all by yourself.
          
                              RICK
                    Um... kinda.
          
                               WOMAN
                    You're a terrific man. Did I tell
                    you I love kids? They love me. It
                    just comes so instinctively even
                    though I've never had kids myself.
                    I get lots of practice with my
                    nephews though. So, when can I meet
                    your boys?
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - RICK'S DAYDREAM
          
          Kris stands with arms crossed and scowling. His posse of
          brothers does the same. Kris POV: Looking up at the Woman
          crouching down to him and smiling.
          
                              KRIS
                    You're not my mom.
          
                                 PHILLIP AND NICKY
                    Yeah!
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. LUIGIS - NIGHT
          Rick motions for the check.
          
                                 RICK
                    You can't.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. LUIGIS - NIGHT
          
          Rick flees on foot. The Woman gives chase.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                                 52.
          
          
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie tucks the boys into bed.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
          
          Rick sits with WOMAN 2.
          
                              WOMAN 2
                    A guy like you is so hard to find.
                    I think I love you and I think you
                    need to love me too.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          EXT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
          
          Rick jumps into his car, locking the doors behind him. Woman
          tugs at the door handle as he drives away.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie pours two glasses of wine.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. WOMAN 3'S HOUSE - NIGHT
          
          Rick and WOMAN 3 are engaged in a deep kiss. They fumble
          through the door.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          Melanie lights a candle on a table set for two.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. WOMAN 3'S HOUSE BEDROOM - NIGHT
          
          Rick and woman 3 tear off each other's clothes.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                    53.
          
          
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie finishes eating alone and blows out the candle.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. WOMAN 3'S HOUSE BEDROOM - NIGHT
          
          Woman 3 rests her head on Rick's shoulder.
          
                              RICK
                    That was incredible.
          
                              WOMAN 3
                    Yeah.
                              RICK
                    I know I haven't known you very
                    long, but I there's something I
                    need to say...
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. WOMAN 3'S HOUSE - NIGHT
          
          The woman, wrapped in sheets, runs down the street. Rick gets
          to the door and catches himself in the jamb.
          
                              RICK
                        (Calling out)
                    Was it something I said?
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie washes the dishes.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. CAR - NIGHT
          
          Rick drives home in silence.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie's asleep on the sofa. Rick kneels beside her. He
          lightly runs his fingers through her hair stirring her
          slumber.
          
                                                          54.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    Did you have a good time?
          
                              RICK
                    Yeah, it was good... kinda okay...
                    pretty much sucked.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What happened?
          
                              RICK
                    Why can't I find a woman like you?
          
                              MELANIE
                    You're trying too hard.
                               RICK
                    I feel bad for the boys. They don't
                    have a "mom". She'll always be
                    their mother, but she'll never be
                    their mom.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Quit trying so hard. You're forcing
                    issues that can't be forced. Relax.
                    Everything happens when and how
                    it's suppose to. It's about spirit
                    and finding the will to love again,
                    for you and the boys.
          
          Melanie sits up and puts on her shoes.
          
                              RICK
                    You want to stay and...
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'm going to get...
                                RICK
                    Going?
          
                                MELANIE
                    Yeah.
          
                                RICK
                    You sure?
          
                                MELANIE
                    Positive.
          
          A beat as they study each other's eyes.
          
                                                                 55.
          
          
          
                              NICHOLAS (OS)
                    Daddy, I have to potty.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'll see you tomorrow.
          
                                 RICK
                    Ok.
          
          Melanie EXITS. Rick turns to tend to Nicky. He stops for a
          moment then heads to the kitchen for a handful of Cheerios.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. BATH ROOM
          Rick is on his hands and knees wiping the floor around the
          toilet.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Nicky almost do'd it.
          
                              RICK
                    Almost, baby boy. Almost.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. MAIN STREET - AKRON OHIO - DAY
          
          Rick walks against the flow of the CROWD. As if in a dream,
          everywhere he looks he sees Melanie. Every woman has her
          face.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT
          
          The lights STROBE in rhythm to the music. Rick sits with John
          and his wife CARRIE SILVERSTEIN.
          
                              CARRIE
                    Finally had to grow up?
          
                                 RICK
                    Yeah, I...
          
                              JOHN
                    You've got direction.
          
                              RICK
                    I suppose. I don't know if you'd
                    call it direction, but there's a
                    definite sense of purpose.
          
                                                                 56.
          
          
          
                              CARRIE
                    Good for you.
          
                              RICK
                    Yeah, but is it good for the kids?
          
                              JOHN
                    Do the kids have direction?
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - RICK'S DAYDREAM
          
          Kris is in pushup position. Rick is dressed as a Gunnery
          Sargent.
                              RICK
                    Only two kinds of people make it in
                    this world, boy; Those that are
                    smart and those that are strong. If
                    you don't want to be smart and do
                    your homework then you can be
                    strong and do pushups.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT
          
          Rick stirs to reality.
          
                              RICK
                    I'm probably not as demanding of
                    them as I should be.
          
                              JOHN
                    You have to instill a sense of
                    direction at a very early age.
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. RICK'S PARENT'S HOME - RICK'S DAYDREAM
          
          The entire family sits eating dinner. Rick's Mother looks to
          Phillip.
          
                              MOTHER
                    So, Phillip what do you want to be
                    when you grow up?
          
          Phillip studies Rick for a moment. Rick nods an approval.
          
                                                             57.
          
          
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Daddy says I can do three things
                    when I grow up.
          
                              MOTHER
                    And what are those? Phillip takes a
                    deep breath.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    I can go to college and move the
                    hell out of his house. I can join
                    the military and move the hell out
                    of his house, or I can get a job
                    and...
          
                              RICK
                    ... move the hell out of my house.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Rick!
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. NIGHT CLUB
          
          Rick shakes his head.
          
                              RICK
                    Ya gotta let them be what they're
                    going to be.
          
                              JOHN
                    No, you have to mold them early. If
                    you don't mold them they'll grow up
                    to be Democrats.
          
                              RICK
                    And you do this with your kids?
                              JOHN
                    That's not the point, is it,
                    Carrie?
          
                              CARRIE
                    I think Rick is doing a wonderful
                    job.
          
                              RICK
                    It's a struggle, going at it alone,
                    but...
          
          Carrie stands.
          
                                                                 58.
          
          
          
                              CARRIE
                    Excuse me, gentleman, I need to
                    powder my nose.
          
          Carrie walks off.
          
                              JOHN
                    I can't believe you.
          
                              RICK
                    What?
          
                               JOHN
                    Whining about being single. Married
                    men would kill to be in your
                    situation!
                              RICK
                    I'm just saying it's hard.
          
                              JOHN
                    You have your sons to raise without
                    feminine interference. Do you
                    understand the significance of your
                    situation? Do you understand the
                    power in your circumstance?
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick and the boys play baseball with an empty wrapping paper
          roll and a dirty sock.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT
          Rick takes a swig of his beer.
          
                              JOHN
                    Men, all over the world, would kill
                    for that kind of power.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick and the boys head out the door with fishing poles in
          tow.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                 59.
          
          
          
          INT. NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT
          
          John isn't letting this soapbox go.
          
                              JOHN
                    You have the kids and she pays
                    child support... and you sit here
                    and whine about things being hard?
                    Give me a break.
          
                              RICK
                    It does have its advantages, I
                    suppose.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick and the boys sit in front of the TV watching football.
          Rick has a beer in his hand. The boys drink root beer from
          beer mugs.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          INT. NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT
          
          John realizes the beer bottles are empty.
          
                               JOHN
                    Another?
          
                               RICK
                    Uh...
          
                               JOHN
                    On me.
          
                               RICK
                    Sure.
          
          John heads to the bar. Carrie approaches the table.
          
                              RICK
                    He went to grab a couple beers.
          
                              CARRIE
                    You know Rick, someday some girl is
                    going to realize what a good man
                    you are.
          
                              RICK
                    Carrie, I don't even have the funds
                    to buy my own beer.
          
                                                                 60.
          
          
          
                              CARRIE
                    Love isn't about money. Love is
                    about truth and selflessness and
                    discovering who you are and who'll
                    be. Someday, someone will find you.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - NIGHT
          
          Melanie talks on the phone. Rick pulls her from her seat.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'll call you back.
          
          Melanie fumbles the phone.
          A beat as they look into each other's eyes.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What?
          
          Rick pulls her in for a kiss.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What was that for?
          
                              RICK
                    For finding me.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - RICK'S BEDROOM - MORNING
          
          Rick and Melanie sleep in each other's arms. Nicholas stands
          at the bed.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Have to potty, daddy.
          
          Rick stirs.
          
                              RICK
                    Go potty, buddy.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - BATH ROOM
          
          Nicholas holds the box of Cheerios.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                  61.
          
          
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - RICK'S BEDROOM - MORNING
          
          Rick sits straight up to the sound of Nicky's CRY and
          
          RUNNING WATER.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - BATH ROOM
          
          An empty box of Cheerios on the floor and Nicky ankle deep in
          water.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. FRANK RYAN'S OFFICE - DAY
          Frank sits at his desk.
          
                              RICK
                    I thank you for everything, but
                    it's time to move on.
          
                              FRANK
                    Where are you going? What will you
                    do?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't know, Frank, but I'm worth
                    more than this.
          
          Rick places his paycheck on Frank's desk and EXITS into the
          hall. The corridors ECHO as Rick walks away.
          
                              FRANK (OS)
                    You'll never make it without me!
          
                                                   DISSOLVE TO:
          INT. OFFICE BUILDING
          
          Rick is strutting his way into a new job. He's dressed well.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. OFFICE BUILDING - CUBICLE
          
          Rick sits at his new desk arranging a few personal. He leans
          far back in his chair and clasps his hands behind his head.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                 62.
          
          
          
          EXT. PARK - DAY
          
          Melanie, Rick and the boys fly a kite on a summer's day.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. PIZZA JOINT
          
          Melanie, Rick and the boys are eating pizza. Tears stream
          down Phillip's face.
          
                              RICK
                    Phillip, what's wrong?
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Well, I wanted that piece and Kris
                    took that piece, and I really,
                    really wanted that piece.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What's so important about that
                    piece?
          
                              KRIS
                    It's bigger.
          
          Zach grabs the pizza and stuffs it in his mouth. Phillip
          wails louder. Kris reaches for a pitcher of soda. A tussle
          ensues.
          
                              RICK
                    Easy on the drinks guys.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Arriving home Rick grabs an envelope that is taped to the
          door. Kris bolts through the door and heads to the bathroom.
          Phillip is crying again.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What's wrong, Phillip?
          
          Rick opens the envelope and pulls out a note.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    I gotta pee and Kris...
          
                              RICK
                    We're not going to fight over the
                    bathroom.
                        (Calling out)
                              (MOR E)
          
                                                                  63.
          
                              RIC K (cont'd)
                    Kris, your brother has to go too.
                    Share!
          
          Kris mopes back into the room. Phillip sticks his tongue out
          at Kris. The boys EXIT.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What's that?
          
          Rick looks up from his reading.
          
                              RICK
                    Huh? Oh, this? Nothing!
          
          Rick balls the note and sticks it in his coat pocket.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - BATH ROOM
          
          Phillip and Kris stand side by side over the toilet. A beat
          as Phillip looks at his brother.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    This time mine's bigger.
          
          Kris begins to cry.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. COZY CAFE - DAY
          
          STEDICAM on face as Rick ENTERS. Rick's POV: Cindy sits at a
          table in the back. CU. on Rick as he approaches the table.
          
                              CINDY (OS)
                    I'm really glad you could make it.
          
                                                   DISSOLVE TO:
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL
          
          Rick seats himself at the visitor's window. Can't really
          discern who sits on which side. He picks up the phone.
          
                              RICK
                    I took off work to be here.
          
                                 CINDY
                    Thank you.
          
                              RICK
                    So, what do you want?
          
                                                                 64.
          
          
          
                              CINDY
                    I want to see your boys.
          
                              RICK
                    I don't think that's a good idea.
          
                              CINDY
                    I'm their mother.
          
                              RICK
                    You forfeited that obligation,
                    remember?
          
                              CINDY
                    That's not fair!
                              RICK
                    You abandoned your kids!
          
                              CINDY
                    I did not. I left them in the care
                    of their loving father. There's a
                    difference.
          
                                RICK
                    Is there?
          
                              CINDY
                    I just want to see the boys.
          
                              RICK
                    You think they even know who you
                    are?
          
                              CINDY
                    I'm their mother.
          
                              RICK
                    You keep saying that.
          
                              CINDY
                    I know things can never go back to
                    the way they were before.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. APARTMENT - RICK'S FLASHBACK
          
          Rows of MEN are lined up outside the bedroom door. A MAN
          buttons his shirt and EXITS.
          
                                MAN
                    Next...
          
                                                                 65.
          
          
          
          Cindy lies in bed smoking a cigarette.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL
          
          Cindy appears impatient.
          
                              CINDY
                    Rick? Rick? Rick?
          
                               RICK
                    Huh?
          
                              CINDY
                    Let's keep the attorneys out of
                    this and settle things like civil
                    adults.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick watches Melanie and the boys play NINTENDO.
          
                               RICK
                    Hi guys.
          
          BOYS IN UNISON
          
          Daddy! The boys run to their father. Melanie moves to Rick
          and gives him a kiss.
          
                              MELANIE
                    This is a surprise. Leave work to
                    spend the day with us?
          
                              RICK
                    Come on guys. Someone is here to
                    see you.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Rick?
                        (A beat)
                    Rick?
          
          Rick leads the boys out the door. From Melanie's POV: Looking
          out a window as Rick loads the boys into their mother's car.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                             66.
          
          
          
          EXT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - DAY
          
          Cindy closes the car door.
          
                                 CINDY
                    Thank you.
          
                              RICK
                    Three hours.
          
                              CINDY
                    They'll be here.
          
          Rick's POV: He watches Cindy back out and leave.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie packs her things.
          
                              RICK
                    Where are you going.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Anywhere you're not.
          
                              RICK
                    What about the boys? What about me?
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'm all about second chances, but
                    not when I come in second place.
          
                              RICK
                    What are you talking about?
          
                              MELANIE
                    Why was she here? What was that?
          
                              RICK
                    She's their mother.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Mother? I've been more of a mother
                    than she ever was.
          
                              RICK
                    She's their mother.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Who willingly walked out of their
                    lives.
          
                                                                 67.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    She's their mother.
          
                              MELANIE
                    You keep saying that.
          
                              RICK
                    You think this is easy? You think
                    raising these boys is something I
                    want to do alone? Every day is like
                    a prison sentence. Every thing I
                    do, every decision I make is
                    directly affected by the boundaries
                    of my responsibility. I have three
                    children, but I have no me.
                    Everywhere I go people stare at
                    me...
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. CITY STREETS - DAY
          
          Dressed as dirty paupers, Rick and the boys hold tin cups out
          to the PASSING BY.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick continues.
          
                              RICK
                    They stare at me, and I know what
                    they're thinking...
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. CITY STREETS - DAY
          A PEDESTRIAN drops a coin in ricks coffer.
          
                              PEDESTRIAN
                    You poor, poor man. You poor, poor
                    children. How unfortunate to only
                    have your father. How terrible it
                    must be not to know your mother.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Melanie finishes packing her suitcase.
          
                                                                 68.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    What about Zach? How noble of you
                    to be the only single parent in the
                    world. How stoic you are... so
                    concerned with the best interests
                    of your children. Too bad. Their
                    best interest is walking out the
                    door.
          
          Melanie EXITS, SLAMMING the door behind her.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          EXT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - DUSK
          
          Against a burning sky, Rick waits in the drive. Cindy
          arrives. Her hair is strewed. The boys pile out of the car
          and gather round their mommy. She kneels to their level.
          
                              KRIS
                    When can we see you again?
          
                                 CINDY
                    Someday.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Is someday tomorrow?
          
                              CINDY
                    Someday is someday, baby.
          
                              RICK
                    Give your Mom a hug, guys, then get
                    in the house.
          
          The boys hug their mom and then run to the door. A tear wells
          in Cindy's eye.
                                 CINDY
                    I'm sorry.
          
                                 RICK
                    For?
          
                              CINDY
                    I thought things had changed.
          
                                 RICK
                    But?
          
                              CINDY
                    I am who I am, Rick. I'm not cut
                    out to be a mommy.
          
                                                                 69.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    I could have told you that.
          
                              CINDY
                    I had to give it a shot. Rick turns
                    to walk away.
          
          Rick's POV: Sees the boys looking out the door. Rick turns
          back around to Cindy.
          
                              RICK
                    At whose expense? Huh, Cindy? At
                    whose expense? Who's going to dry
                    their tears tomorrow when they
                    realize your never coming back?
                    Who's going to rock them to sleep
                    at night when they ask why mommy
                    doesn't love them?
          
                              CINDY
                    You are, and you wouldn't have it
                    any other way.
          
          A furious PULL BACK
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL
          
          ZOOM to Cindy standing in front of a door marked SOLITARY.
          She steps in. The door SLAMS behind her.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - MORNING
          
          Rick is donned in crisp business attire. He and the boys sit
          at the breakfast table.
                              PHILLIP
                    Is Mel coming today?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't know, buddy.
          
                                 NICHOLAS
                    Daddy?
          
                                 RICK
                    Yes Nicky?
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I love Mel.
          
                                                                 70.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    She loves you too.
          
          The clock unwinds.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - MID-DAY
          
          Rick sits on the sofa his remote control in hand. Unkempt, he
          has a rough growth on his face.
          
                              KRIS (OS)
                    Daddy... Daddy... Dad!
          
                              RICK
                        (Yelling)
                    Don't you yell! If you have
                    something to say, come here and
                    tell me.
          
          Kris ENTERS.
          
                               KRIS
                    Dad?
          
                               RICK
                    Yeah?
          
                              KRIS
                    Phillip's in the closet
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - BED ROOM
          
          Rick unlocks the closet door and lets Phillip out.
                              RICK
                    What were you doing in there?
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Being Daddy.
          
                              RICK
                    Who locked the door?
          
                              KRIS
                    Wasn't me...
          
                                                                 71.
          
          
          
                              PHILLIP
                    I did.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick on the sofa. The boys gathered at his feet. He has a
          heavy growth of facial hair. He shirt is unbuttoned. His
          shoes have been discarded. He stares blankly forward. The
          boys lay sleeping at his feet. One by one PEOPLE show up and
          begin to remove the furnishings. An open door allows SERVICE
          PROVIDERS to ENTER and disconnect. First the gas, then the
          telephone. CLOSE UP on a running faucet that slows to a
          trickle, then a drip, then dry. Rick's Mother and Father
          ENTER. She sits by her unresponsive son. Father lingers at a
          distance.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Rick?... Rick?... Rick?
          
          She stuffs a few dollars in his pocket as the CABLE GUY shows
          up. The reception on the TV turns to snow.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Take care of my babies.
          
          Rick never acknowledges her. She kisses him on the forehead
          and LEAVES.
          
          INT. RICK'S PARENT'S HOME - BEDROOM
          
          Close in on a bed where Rick's parents lay.
          
                              FATHER
                    What are you giving him money for?
          
                              MOTHER
                    To help him through the hard times.
                    He's a good father, just having a
                    rough go.
          
                              FATHER
                    I've never met a good father that
                    couldn't support his kids.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                 72.
          
          
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          A MAN ENTERS to repossess the TV. PEOPLE continue to ENTER
          the house taking Rick's belongings.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. RICK'S PARENT'S HOME - BEDROOM
          
          CU. on Rick's mom.
          
                              FATHER (OS)
                    You could watch the boys while he
                    works.
          
                              MOTHER
                    I'm too old for that. The better
                    side of life has passed me by. What
                    if they fall? I don't hear like I
                    used to. What if one of them was
                    seriously hurt and I didn't hear
                    their cry? I hate that the only
                    thing I feel competent to do is
                    give them money. I love my son and
                    I love my grandbabies, but how
                    would I live with myself if
                    something happened to those
                    children?
          
          Slowly pulling up and away reveals another cell.
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          A REPRESENTATIVE from the electric company stands in front of
          Rick.
          
                              REPRESENTATIVE
                    Sir, you're 3 months behind on your
                    electric bill.
          
          Rick reaches in his pocket and pulls the funds his Mother has
          given him. The Rep. takes the cash.
          
                              REPRESENTATIVE (CONT'D)
                    It's a start, but not nearly
                    enough.
          
          The Rep. EXITS shutting off the lights behind him. The STRIKE
          of a match, and a candle is lit. In the flicker of the flame
          Rick has a look of desperation. He holds a gun. Rick's POV:
          Looking down on his sleeping children.
          
                                                                 73.
          
          
          The HOWL of the wind and the candle is extinguished. A WAIL
          pierces the darkness and then a GUNSHOT.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL CELL - DAY
          
          A BANG against the bars wakes Rick and the boys.
          
                              JAILER
                    I always knew you were a lifer.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. ADOPTION AGENCY
          
          Rick sits across the desk from an ADOPTION AGENT.
                              ADOPTION AGENT
                    Because of their age it may take
                    awhile. We'll start them out in
                    foster care, but eventually they'll
                    all be placed in loving, nurturing
                    environments.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. ROSS PARK - DAYDREAM
          
          The boys are loaded in a wagon and pulled away from Rick by
          an unrecognizable COUPLE. A small, hand-painted, sign that
          hangs from the back of the wagon reads: BON VOYAGE. From
          Rick's POV: The boys move further and further away. Kris
          tries to christen the wagon with plastic bottled water. From
          the boy's POV: Their waving father fades in the distance.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. ADOPTION AGENCY
          Rick snaps back from his daydream.
          
                              RICK
                    They'll be together though, right?
          
                              ADOPTION AGENT
                    Mr. Stevens, I wish I could make
                    that promise, but the odds of an
                    adoptive family willing to take
                    them all is astronomical.
          
          Rick stands.
          
                                                                 74.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    Come on guys we're out of here.
          
                              ADOPTION AGENT
                    Mr. Stevens?
          
                              RICK
                    I'm sorry, I made a mistake.
          
                                                      CUT TO:
          
          EXT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL - COURTYARD - DAY
          
          Rick sits at the picnic table reading a book. The boys are
          off playing. Kris falls. He grabs his knee and cries. Rick
          drops his book and runs to the child. GUARDS on duty pay no
          attention. Rick reaches the child. The injury appears rather
          serious.
          
                              RICK
                        (Calling out.)
                    Can I get some help here.
          
          His calls go unanswered.
          
          A tear forms in his eyes. Months of frustration boil in his
          face. A CONVICT passing by kneels by Rick.
          
                              RICK
                    Can you help me?
          
                              CONVICT
                    Can you help him?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't know.
          
                              CONVICT
                    What does he need?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't know.
          
                              CONVICT
                    He needs a father, not a book
                    reading baby-sitter.
          
                              RICK
                        (In a hushed rage)
                    I can't fucking do this.
          
                              CONVICT
                    Yes you can.
          
                                                                 75.
          
          
          
          The convict runs his hand over the child's leg and everything
          appears healed.
          
                              CONVICT
                    Use your mind and your heart. It's
                    different than it ever should have
                    been... but different isn't wrong.
          
                                RICK
                    But I...
          
                              CONVICT
                    Use what you have. There is a vein
                    of wealth inside you just waiting
                    to be mined. Think differently than
                    you have ever thought before.
                    Worker harder than you ever thought
                    you could. Love these children like
                    they've never been loved before.
          
                                RICK
                    How?
          
                              CONVICT
                    The answer lies within. Quit
                    worrying about how these misguided
                    events have torn your life apart.
                    Quit dwelling on all of your
                    misgivings. Look around you. You're
                    not alone. But you, and you alone,
                    will make the difference.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL - HALL
          
          Rick notices his cell door is unlocked. He steps into the
          corridor. Rick's POV: Walking past cells he sees people he
          knows. His mother and father appear very old. Melanie is at
          Mrs. Nelson's house. Zach clings to her leg. Carrie's angry.
          John talks away his phone.
          
                                                   FADE TO:
          
          INT. WELFARE OFFICE
          
          Rick and the boys wait for their caseworker. A pregnant WOMAN
          and her TWELVE CHILDREN sit a few seats away. Her face and
          clothes are as dirty as her children's. Rick looks at his
          watch, and then at her, and then back to his watch. He slips
          the watch off his wrist and hands it to her.
          
                                                               76.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    It's not worth a lot, maybe a few
                    hundred bucks, but it might keep
                    you in soap for a year.
          
          A CASEWORKER comes to Rick.
          
                              CASE WORKER
                    Mr. Stevens, I can see you now.
                    Rick and the Pregnant Woman lock
                    eyes.
          
                              PREGNANT WOMAN
                    I ain't some charity case. I know
                    what you think when you look at me.
                    You think; Look at that poor, poor
                    woman. Look at those poor, poor
                    children. How unfortunate it must
                    be that they only have a mother.
                    How terrible it must be not to know
                    their father.
          
                              CASE WORKER
                    Mr. Stevens?
          
                              RICK
                    I didn't mean it like that?
          
                              PREGNANT WOMAN
                    No one ever does.
          
                              CASE WORKER
                    Mr. Stevens?
          
          Rick and the woman continue their stare.
          
                              CASE WORKER
                    Mr. Stevens? I can see you now.
                              RICK
                    I'm sorry, I'm going to have to
                    reschedule.
          
                                 CASE WORKER
                    Excuse me?
          
                              RICK
                    Responsibility calls.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                                 77.
          
          
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL CELL
          
          Rick is reading from a large textbook and jotting in a
          notebook. He wears his glasses. His boys come to him. Taking
          a break from studying he lays his glasses on the table. The
          boys pile into his lap. Nicky holds a storybook.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Please daddy? Please? Rick opens
                    the book so all can see.
          
                              RICK
                    Once upon a time...
          
          The cell once again transforms into a small suburban house.
          One by one, things lost, are replaced.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick is eating pizza and looking through the want ads. A few
          ads are already circled.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Daddy, I'm hungry.
          
          Nicholas pulls his shirt up to reveal his stomach.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    It's very, very empty.
          
          Rick hands him what's left of his pizza. He takes a swig of
          beer.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Daddy, I'm thirsty.
          Rick takes a long look at his beer.
          
                              RICK
                    Get your coats on.
          
                              KRIS
                    We're leaving guys.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. GROCERY STORE
          
          Rick has a cart full of groceries at the check out line. An
          OLDER WOMAN stands behind him. The CLERK rings up a final
          total.
          
                                                                 78.
          
          
          
                              CLERK
                    Thirty-two hundred and fifty-six
                    dollars.
          
          Rick looks dumb founded.
          
                              OLDER WOMAN
                    Think it's bad now? Wait til
                    they're teenagers.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick loads boxes of cereal, Kool-Aid, Spaghetti-O's, loaves
          of bread and numerous other things into a trough. The boys
          dance in excitement.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. MAIN STREET - AKRON OHIO - DAY
          
          Rick and his mother walk along.
          
                               RICK
                    Mom, I have an idea, but I need
                    your help.
          
          Rick's mom reaches in her purse.
          
                              RICK
                    Put your checkbook away. What I
                    need you can't buy.
          
                              MOTHER
                    What do you need.
          
                              RICK
                    For you to believe in me.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - DAY
          
          Rick, his parents and the boys pound a sign into the front
          yard that reads: "MOW `EM AND GROW `EM LAWN CARE 555-1616"
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                 79.
          
          
          
          INT. STORE
          
          Cindy is pushing a grocery cart when Melanie and her new
          BOYFRIEND pass. Melanie stops in her tracks, turns around and
          after a brief beat, approaches Cindy.
          
                                 MELANIE
                       I know you.
          
                                    CINDY
                       Excuse me?
          
                                 MELANIE
                       Rick's ex-wife?
          
                                 CINDY
                       And you are?
          
                                 MELANIE
                       Can I ask you a question? What is
                       Phillip's favorite color?
          
                                    CINDY
                       Huh?
          
                                 MELANIE
                       Blue. His favorite color is blue.
                       How many teeth has Kris lost?
          
                                 CINDY
                       I don't know. Why?
          
                                 MELANIE
                       Four. Two on top and two on bottom.
                       He got a quarter for the first one,
                       fifty cents for the next two and he
                       parlayed the last into an even
                       dollar. Nicholas cries at night
                       because he thinks the house is
                       filled with ghosts. Kiss him once
                       on the forehead, once on the cheek
                       and sing The Cradle Will Rock and
                       he'll sleep the whole night
                       through. Kris' favorite subject is
                       math. He loves to read and write,
                       but he doesn't do so well in social
                       studies. He knows how to ride a
                       bike. Why? Because I taught him.
                       Phillip wants to learn but he's
                       always afraid he'll fall. Nicky
                       just likes to Flintstone his
                       tricycle. Phillip's favorite
                       cartoon is Tunenami.
                                 (MOR E)
          
                                                               80.
          
                              MEL ANIE (cont'd)
                    He's afraid of the dark and cries
                    himself to sleep at night saying
                    his mommy doesn't love him.
          
                              CINDY
                    What's your point?
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'm more their mom than you'll ever
                    be.
          
                              CINDY
                    So, why are you here with slick and
                    not with "your" kids?
          
          A beat.
                              MELANIE
                    Things change.
          
                               CINDY
                    Yeah... yeah they do. Now if you'll
                    excuse me I need to find the
                    asparagus.
                        (A beat)
                    I couldn't do it, ya know?
          
          Melanie turns back around.
          
                               MELANIE
                    Do what?
          
                              CINDY
                    I always thought I wanted to be a
                    parent, and I was really good at
                    being pregnant, but I sucked as a
                    mom. I know that now. I don't have
                    what it takes.
                              MELANIE
                    I don't think I've ever felt as
                    much pity for anyone as I do for
                    you right now.
          
                              CINDY
                    Take care of my boys... all of
                    them.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                                 81.
          
          
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          Rick and the boys stand by the river looking up a huge
          embankment. There appears to be no permanent trail. Looking
          up, scattered PEOPLE sit at different levels on the climb.
          
                              RICK
                    Well, guys, I guess this is it.
          
                              KRIS
                    We can do it daddy.
          
                              RICK
                    Yes we can.
          
          Rick stretches out. The boys jog in place. Rick cracks his
          neck. The boys crack their knuckles. In SLOW MOTION they
          begin their ascent, running wildly up the incline. Rick falls
          flat on his face. The boys all trip over him, leaving them
          all in a pile. Rick bounces up and dusts himself off. The
          boys do the same and away they go.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. A LARGE ESTATE IN BATH - DAY
          
          Rick and the boys are on their hands and knees with hand
          trimmers snipping away at the lawn.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          Rick caries the boys. Phillip is draped across his shoulder.
          Nicholas hangs around his neck. Kris clings to Rick's leg and
          is dragged with each step. They pass a weary CLIMBER who has
          taken a moment to catch his breath.
                              CLIMBER
                    You can do it.
          
                              RICK
                    Yes we can.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. A LARGE ESTATE IN BATH - DAY
          
          Rick is using a push mower on this huge estate. Nicholas
          follows behind with a bubble mower.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
                                                                   82.
          
          
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          The boys are dragging Rick up the hill.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          EXT. A LARGE ESTATE IN BATH - DAY
          
          Rick and the boys are crowded onto the seat of a large
          commercial mower.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          The boys' do a victory dance at the top of the hill, their
          arms extended far above their heads. Kris stops for a moment
          and then tugs at his father's shirt. Rick tries to ignore the
          child but then stops mid-dance.
          
                              RICK
                    What is it, Kris?
          
          Kris points up.
          
                              KRIS
                    Look daddy.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick is looking through college literature, insurance
          applications, and YMCA programs.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          Rick holds a college pamphlet. Rick's POV: He looks at the
          pamphlet then up to see they aren't even close to the top.
          They have just reached a plateau along the way.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    We can do it.
          
                              RICK
                        (Through a weary voice.)
                    Yes we can.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
                                                                    83.
          
          
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - LIVING ROOM
          
          Rick wears his painter's pants. The boys are armed with an
          assortment of paintbrushes. Paint cans and ladders adorn the
          room.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          Rick and the boys continue their climb. The breaths are
          heavy, but they march steadily upward.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. THE CHAPEL - DAY
          Rick and the boys, hand in hand, walk toward the church.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME - LIVING ROOM
          
          Rick stands back and looks at one finished wall. Kris mimics
          his father, backing up to have a look for himself.
          
                              RICK
                    Kris!
          
          Too late, Kris has tripped over a can of paint. As he sits on
          his butt a look of fear crosses his face, a tear forms in his
          eye. Rick takes his paintbrush and dots Kris on the nose.
          
                              KRIS
                    Hey!
          
          Phillip and Nicholas are quickly engaged in painting each
          other and a full-blown paint war ensues.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. THE CHAPEL
          
          A CHOIR of voices sings.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. CAR - NIGHT
          
          Melanie and her boyfriend sit in silence. A beat.
          
                              BOYFRIEND
                    What's wrong? What did I do?
          
                                                                 84.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    Not you, it's me.
          
                                 BOYFRIEND
                    What then?
          
          Melanie looks her boyfriend square in the eyes, runs her hand
          down his cheek.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    I'm sorry.
          
          Melanie EXITS the car and runs down the street.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          Rick and the boys stop to rest. Kris throws a rock while Rick
          is looking away. Rick looks up to find Phillip picking up a
          stone.
          
                              RICK
                    Put the stone down.
          
                                 PHILLIP
                    But...
          
                              RICK
                    No buts: Put the stone down.
          
          Off Screen SFX: A huge thud and someone rolling down the
          hill.
          
                              RICK
                    I knew this was a hard climb,
                    but...
          A RESTING CLIMBER appears.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    Long way up.
          
                                 RICK
                    Yeah.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    Long way down for that matter.
          
                                 RICK
                    That too.
          
          A beat.
          
                                                               85.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    So, what's your point.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    No point, just an observation.
                    Drink?
          
          The climber holds out a canteen.
          
                                RICK
                    I'm okay.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    For the boys.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    Daddy, I'm thirsty. Rick studies
                    the climber for a moment.
          
                                RICK
                    Go ahead.
          
          The climber hands the boys the canteen.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    You know, if you stop here, halfway
                    between a long way up and a long
                    way down you really haven't
                    accomplished much, have you?
          
                              RICK
                    We're not stopping. We're just
                    resting.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    That's what I said, fourteen years
                    ago. Rick looks toward the top.
                              RICK
                    We can do this.
          
                              RESTING CLIMBER
                    Yes you can.
          
          A reinvigorated Rick hops to his feet.
          
                              RICK
                    We can do this!
          
                              BOYS IN UNISON
                    Yes we can!
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
                                                             86.
          
          
          
          INT. THEATER
          
          Rick is back on the stage. The audience is full.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    What is so important Mr. Stevens
                    that you would burden this court
                    with convening today?
          
                              RICK
                    I just needed clarification.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    On what, Mr. Stevens? On what?
          
                              RICK
                    I know if I have to, I can do this
                    alone, but do I have to do this
                    alone? A hushed MURMUR rises in the
                    audience. The Judge RAPS his gavel
                    on the bench.
          
                              JUDGE
                    Order in this court! A beat as
                    things quiet down.
          
                              JUDGE (CONT'D)
                    Your inquiry, Mr. Stevens? Is it in
                    the best interest of the children
                    or in the best interest of you?
          
                              RICK
                    I don't know.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    He doesn't know. He just doesn't
                    know.
                              RICK
                    I don't know.
          
                              JUDGE
                    Then this court sees no reason to
                    amend the original verdict. The
                    order stands.
          
                              RICK
                    But...
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    Tell it to someone who cares, Mr.
                    Stevens.
          
                                                                 87.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    I have. I have laid my heart out on
                    the line time and time again, only
                    to walk away empty handed. This
                    love, this caring, this sharing of
                    life, it's a sentence and my heart
                    has been condemned. It doesn't
                    matter who I've told, what's in my
                    heart is never quite enough. The
                    people I have cared for most have
                    shunned me in life and in love.
                    Unanswered phone calls... Unnoticed
                    displays of affection... A rose
                    that withers on the doorstep... No
                    matter what I do, it's never
                    enough. Just once, just one fucking
                    time, I want to be enough.
          
                              PROSECUTOR
                    Your only condemnation is self-
                    pity. You have people that care all
                    around you, but you're too blind to
                    see them. If you don't pull
                    yourself together soon, my friend,
                    they soon will all be gone.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. PARK - DAY
          
          In B&W SLO-MO: Rick stands watching his sons play. The wind
          blows the leaves of a tree. The boys run further and further
          out until they are out of sight. Rick calls out to them.
          Slowly, across the field, three young adults return. Rick is
          now an old man, hunched over and aged with wrinkles. The
          three young men walk beside their elderly father, supporting
          him with each step.
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. MELANIE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
          
          Rick is holding flowers. The boys have an assortment of
          "instruments" to add a serenade. The music is a mishmash of
          odd notes that could only be construed as music to a parent's
          ear. Melanie stands on the front porch, her arms crossed.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What do you want?
          
                              RICK
                    I'm a proud man, sometimes foolish.
          
                                                                 88.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    Go on.
          
                              RICK
                    I have a long way to go before I
                    could ever be the man you need me
                    to be.
          
                              MELANIE
                    And?
          
                               RICK
                    And I got confused between what I
                    should have done and what I thought
                    was right.
                              MELANIE
                    Yes you did.
          
                              RICK
                    I put you on a pedestal and then I
                    knocked you down. It wasn't fair.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Life's not fair Rick.
          
                              RICK
                    You were more a mother to my boys
                    than they have ever known. You were
                    more a woman to me than I have ever
                    deserved.
          
                              MELANIE
                    You're right.
          
                              RICK
                    You're not going to make this easy,
                    are you?
                              MELANIE
                    Cut the bullshit, Rick.
          
          Rick wraps his arms around Melanie and pulls her in for a
          hug.
          
                              RICK
                        (In Mel's ear)
                    I can live my life alone. I can
                    raise my kids alone. I can walk
                    this path alone. I'd much rather do
                    it with you.
          
                                                                 89.
          
          
          
          Grabbing him by the collar she's torn. Melanie shakes her
          head.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    I can't.
          
          She turns to go inside.
          
                                 RICK
                    Can't?
          
                              MELANIE
                        (Turning back around.)
                    I won't.
          
                              RICK
                    I shouldn't have come here.
          
                              MELANIE
                    No, you shouldn't have.
          
          Rick turns to leave.
          
                              MELANIE
                    You just don't get it do you?
          
                                 RICK
                    Get what?
          
                              MELANIE
                    You're here for you, you selfish
                    prick.
          
                                                    CUT TO:
          
          INT. MELANIE'S HOUSE - NIGHT - DAYDREAM
          
          Melanie lays in bed covering her ears.
                              MELANIE (VO)
                    Days go by when I lose me. There
                    are nights when I lay in bed and I
                    can hear Zach through the walls.
                    He's crying out for me, and I lay
                    there motionless, wishing I was
                    anyone but me, anywhere but here,
                    thinking that somewhere, sometime,
                    there has to be room for me. But
                    that someday never seems to come.
                    You're dangerous. Loving you means
                    I lose me. And I will never lose
                    let that happen.
                              (MOR E)
          
                                                                   90.
          
                              MEL ANIE (VO) (cont'd)
                    So, don't come knocking on my door,
                    asking for my heart, if you don't
                    have room for me.
          
          Melanie ENTERS the house closing the door behind her. Rick
          tosses the flowers on the porch, turns and walks away. The
          boys follow behind.
          
                              KRIS
                    I could have looked sad.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    I can look sad too.
          
                              KRIS
                    But I look sadder.
                              NICHOLAS
                    I sad.
          
          Nicholas starts to cry.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          Rick falls flat on his face. He lays there motionless.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    Don't quit, daddy.
          
          Rick pounds the ground, pulls himself up, dusts himself off
          and with a determined look starts back up the hill.
          
                              KRIS
                    Daddy doesn't quit.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          INT. NIGHT CLUB
          
          Rick and John sit at the bar.
          
                              JOHN
                    You love her?
          
                              RICK
                    I think so... I don't know.
          
                              JOHN
                    If you think you're in love you
                    are.
          
                                               91.
          
          
          
                    RICK
          I suppose I am.
          
                    JOHN
          Does your heart skip a beat when
          she walks by?
          
                    RICK
          She's my best friend... or was.
          
                    JOHN
          Does your heart skip a beat when
          she walks by?
          
                       RICK
          Yes.
                     JOHN
          Do your palms sweat when you think
          about her?
          
                       RICK
          Yes.
          
                    JOHN
          Does she inspire you?
          
                    RICK
          With music and poetry.
          
                    JOHN
          And is there passion?
          
                    RICK
          There's fire.
          
                    JOHN
          And have you ever told her this?
                       RICK
          She knows.
          
                    JOHN
          Have you ever told her this?
          
                       RICK
          No.
          
                    JOHN
          Don't you think you should?
          
                    RICK
          It only confuses things.
          
                                                                   92.
          
          
          
                              JOHN
                    Loving your best friend confuses
                    things? I can't think of a love
                    more lucid. Rick stands to leave.
          
                              JOHN
                    You know I'll never forgive you for
                    this, don't you? You had the power
                    and the dream at your fingertips
                    and you're giving it all away.
          
                              RICK
                    You didn't marry your best friend?
          
                                JOHN
                    No.
                              RICK
                    I thought you had things all
                    planned out.
          
                              JOHN
                    Affairs of the heart and those of
                    the mind are two different things.
          
                              RICK
                    It's not too late, you know?
          
          With a shrug John drops to one knee in front of Rick.
          
                              RICK
                    Go Home, John. Go home and talk to
                    your best friend the way you talk
                    to me.
          
          INT. PARENT'S HOUSE
          
          Rick BURSTS through the front door. His mother appears
          aghast.
          
                              RICK
                    I need you to watch the boys.
          
                              MOTHER
                    But you're father...
          
          Rick's Father ENTERS.
          
                              FATHER
                    Woman, enough.
          
                                MOTHER
                    But...
          
                                                                 93.
          
          
          
                              FATHER
                    No more excuses. It's time to live
                    life and enjoy our grandkids.
                        (To Rick)
                    Go. The boys will be fine.
          
                              MOTHER
                    Can't we just give him money to pay
                    for a baby-sitter?
          
          Rick BOLTS out of the house.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. RESTAURANT
          Melanie is working as a waitress. She's pouring coffee when
          she sees Rick.
          
                              MELANIE
                        (To herself)
                    Oh shit.
          
                               CUSTOMER
                    Whoa!
          
          The cup has nearly reached the brim.
          
                               MELANIE
                    Sorry.
          
                              CUSTOMER
                    Pay attention, would ya?
          
          Rick reaches her.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What do you want?
                               RICK
                    To talk.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I'm working.
          
                               RICK
                    I know.
          
          Melanie is at the next customer who early awaits a refill,
          but she doesn't pour.
          
                              MELANIE
                    So, where are the boys?
          
                                                                 94.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    They're at my parents.
          
                              MELANIE
                    What? Not going to use them to try
                    to persuade me with guilt?
          
                              RICK
                    Is that what you thought?
          
                              MELANIE
                    I have a son of my own. I know when
                    people are using their kids.
          
                              CUSTOMER 2
                    Ma'am.
                              RICK
                        (To Customer 2)
                    Excuse us for a moment okay?
          
                              CUSTOMER 2
                    I'd just like some coffee.
          
          Melanie walks off. Rick grabs a cup from a recently vacated
          table and sets it in front of the patron.
          
                              CUSTOMER 2
                        (Calling out.)
                    Excuse me, Miss?
          
                              RICK
                    What is your problem?
          
                              CUSTOMER 2
                    Cold.
          
                              RICK
                    What?
          
                              CUSTOMER 2
                    The coffee, it's cold.
          
          Rick picks up the cup, pulls a lighter from his pocket and
          runs it several times under the mug.
          
                              RICK
                        (Setting the cup back
                         down.)
                    Quit your bitching.
          
          Rick moves to Melanie.
          
                                                                 95.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    I can't believe you came here.
          
                              RICK
                    I can't believe you're a waitress.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Beats chasing around after snot
                    nosed brats all day.
          
                              RICK
                    I thought you liked my kids.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I was talking about you.
          Melanie moves on. Rick gives chase. He catches her and spins
          her around spilling coffee all over the floor.
          
                              RICK
                    I deserved that.
          
                              MELANIE
                    So, what do the kids need? A
                    babysitter? A surrogate mom?
          
                              RICK
                    This isn't about the kids.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Then what's it about?
          
                              RICK
                    It's about me, the selfish prick.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    About you?
                              RICK
                    Hear me out, okay?
          
                              MELANIE
                        (Looking at her watch.)
                    You have 15 seconds.
          
                              RICK
                    Okay, okay.
          
                                 MELANIE
                    Ten.
          
                                                          96.
          
          
          
                              RICK
                    Melanie, there is a grace about you
                    that reminds me how clumsy I am.
                    There is an honesty about you that
                    reminds me how deceitful I can be.
                    There is a beauty in your eyes that
                    reminds me how ugly I've become.
                    There is a kindness in your voice
                    that contradicts my coarseness.
                    There is a glow around you that
                    illuminates my dullness. There is
                    spirit in you that challenges my
                    laziness, but most of all, there is
                    a woman in you, that sparks my
                    desire, a desire to be graceful and
                    honest and beautiful and kind. A
                    desire to be better than I am or
                    ever thought I could be.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Go on.
          
                              RICK
                    I think my ten seconds are up.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Who's counting?
          
                              CUSTOMER 2
                    Miss... My coffee?
          
          Melanie sets the coffee on a nearby table.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Get it yourself.
          
                              RICK
                    I love you.
                              MELANIE
                    I don't think I heard you.
          
                              RICK
                    If I give you my heart will you
                    promise to treat it softly? Kiss it
                    when it hurts? Put it in a box and
                    know that it belongs to you?
          
                              MELANIE
                    That's not what you said.
          
                              RICK
                    I said I love you.
          
                                                                 97.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    As brutal as that can be?
          
                              RICK
                    I love you. I love you, I love you,
                    I love you.
          
                              MELANIE
                    I kind of like you too.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          EXT. GORGE PARK - DAY
          
          Rick comes to another plateau and finds Melanie waiting for
          him.
                              MELANIE
                    I never thought you'd make it.
          
                              RICK
                    Been waiting long?
          
                              MELANIE
                    I never thought you'd find me.
          
                              RICK
                    I had to find me first. I hope you
                    plan on walking, cause I'm not sure
                    I can carry you.
          
                              MELANIE
                    So, how do we do this? The two
                    begin the ascent together.
          
                              RICK
                    One step at a time?
                              MELANIE
                    Side by side?
          
                              RICK
                    Maybe you could carry me?
          
          Rick jumps in Melanie's arms. They tumble to the ground under
          his weight.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. SMALL SUBURBAN HOME
          
          Rick packs his things in boxes. A knock at the door and the
          room morphs back into the cell.
          
                                                                 98.
          
          
          
          INT. SUMMIT COUNTY JAIL - CELL
          
          Rick turns around to see the jailer standing at the door.
          
                              JAILER
                    Getting out of here, huh?
          
                              RICK
                    It's time to move on.
          
                              JAILER
                    If you leave don't ever come back.
          
                              RICK
                    Not even...
                              JAILER
                    Not even on a visit. You're a very
                    ugly man. I'd hate to explain to
                    the other guards why you'd come to
                    visit me.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. RICK'S PARENT'S HOME
          
          Rick's Mom and the boys are playing.
          
                                 KRIS
                    Grandma?
          
                                 MOTHER
                    Yes, Kris?
          
                              KRIS
                    Grandma I love you.
          
                              PHILLIP
                    I love her more.
          
                              NICHOLAS
                    I love her the whole universe.
          
                              MOTHER
                    I love you all the whole universe
                    plus one.
          
                                                     CUT TO:
          
          INT. THEATER
          
          Rick and Melanie walk across the stage.
          
                                                                 99.
          
          
          
                              MELANIE
                    So, this is where it all happened.
          
                              RICK
                    It's funny, the tricks the mind can
                    play on you... but the Judge, he
                    sat right over there... and the
                    jury sat right there... and the
                    audience was filled with all these
                    people who didn't really give a
                    shit about me.
          
                              MELANIE
                    A bunch of innocent bystanders?
          
                              RICK
                    And they all sat passing judgement
                    on me, not knowing the situation,
                    just staring over their schoolmarm
                    spectacles and pointing their
                    crooked fingers.
          
                              MELANIE
                    All the world's a stage.
          
                              RICK
                    Always casting dispersions.
          
          Rick walks off leaving Melanie at center stage. She looks
          around. The faint echo of a Judge's gavel can be heard in the
          distance.
          
                              JUDGE (OS)
                    Guilty as charged.
          
                              MELANIE
                    Did you hear that?
                                 RICK
                    Hear what?
          
                              MELANIE
                    Nothing... nothing at all.
          
                                                   CUT TO:
          
          INT. CANAL PARK - DAY
          
          PAN reveals: Rick, Melanie, the boys, and John sit watching a
          ball game.
          
                                                                   100.
          
          
          
                              JOHN
                    The secret of life, Melanie, is to
                    always pay attention...
          
          A pregnant Carrie returns to her seat carrying a box of
          hotdogs and drinks.
          
                              JOHN
                    ... always be prepared for what's
                    right around the corner. The CRACK
                    of the bat.
          
                              RICK
                    Duck!
          
                              JOHN
                    Huh?
          
          John's POV: A foul ball is screaming in his direction.
          
                                                   FADE TO BLACK.