Custody Movie Script
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.