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Honeydripper Movie Script

Writer(s) : John Sayles

Genres : Drama, Musical

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                             HONEYDRIPPER




                              Written by

                             John Sayles




                                                          6/18/2006

    We hear a strange, single, BENT NOTE.


1   EXT. SHARECROPPER SHACK - ECU FINGERS - LATE AFTERNOON        1
    We follow a small boy's FINGERS on a strange contraption-


    WIDER

    SCRATCH, 10 years old, has a `DIDDLEY BOW', a piece of baling
    wire nailed to the side of the unpainted shack so it is
    stretched taut. He moves an old corn cob under it as a fret
    and makes TWANGY, pitch-shifting NOTES as he plucks the wire.

    His friend LONNIE stands moving his fingers over a BOARD he
    has laid on the side of the porch floor. A few scrawny
    CHICKENS run around in the yard behind them-

                        LONNIE
              Leave off with that, Scratch.

                        SCRATCH
              Aint bothering you.

                           LONNIE
              Yes it is.     That aint no kind of
              music.

    We see that the board has PIANO KEYS drawn across it and that
    Lonnie is pretending to play a song on it-

                        SCRATCH
              Least I make a sound.

                        LONNIE
              Yeah and it's a nasty one.

    Lonnie looks at the sky-

                        SCRATCH
              You want to try again tonight?

    Lonnie sits on the edge of the porch, gauging the time from
    the setting sun-

                        LONNIE
              Might as well.


2   EXT. 1ST COTTON FIELD - LATE AFTERNOON                        2
    SLIDE GUITAR plays. A tuft of RAW COTTON bobs on the stem
    and we begin to scroll OPENING CREDITS-
                                                              2.



    We TILT and RACK to look over a FIELD OF COTTON, the bolls
    plumped out and ready for picking, blowing in the breeze.

    A HARVEST HAND steps into the shot, looks toward the setting
    sun, wipes his face with a bandanna then stoops to pick the
    row in front of him. We PULL BACK to see other PICKERS, men
    and women in denim coveralls, old gingham dresses and hard
    work shoes, wearing straw hats against the sun and trailing
    LONG WHITE SACKS between their legs and behind them.

    The boys walk down between them in the opposite direction-


3   EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - PINEY WOODS - LATE AFTERNOON                3
    MUSIC CONTINUES.   We see the boys walking on a PATH through
    the PINES-


4   EXT. COUNTRYSIDE, RAILROAD TRACKS - AERIAL SHOT - LATE         4
    AFTERNOON

    MUSIC CONTINUES. We float over RAILROAD TRACKS cutting
    through flat, piney woods, catching up the boys, who walk on
    the ties-


5   EXT. ARMY BARRACKS - EARLY EVENING                             5
    MUSIC CONTINUES. The boys stroll past white buildings of an
    ARMY BARRACKS. SOLDIERS, black and white, DRILL on the
    grounds-


6   EXT. RAILROAD BRIDGE, RIVER - EARLY EVENING                    6
    The river rolls past us in the FG as the boys cross a
    RAILROAD BRIDGE. We SUPERIMPOSE-

                          ALABAMA   -   1950

    OPENING CREDITS END




7   EXT. HONEYDRIPPER LOUNGE - NIGHT                               7
    We hear PIANO MUSIC as we CRANE DOWN toward the HONEYDRIPPER
    LOUNGE, a ramshackle wooden roadhouse at a rural crossroads.
                                                             3.



    BLUE-colored light bulbs (a few broken) FLICK ON and OFF
    erratically around the HONEYDRIPPER SIGN as we TRACK toward
    and then THROUGH it on the way to the entrance, catching up
    with Lonnie and Scratch.

    The boys step under the door-light, frantic with insects, and
    go up on their toes to peek in through a window-


8   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - NIGHT                                     8
    An OVERHEAD ANGLE of long fingers on piano keys-


    SINGER

    A woman in her late 50's, early 60's, BERTHA MAE SPIVEY,
    leans into a MICROPHONE from where she sits on a stool on a
    little makeshift stage, a glass of whiskey in hand, and SINGS-

                        BERTHA MAE
              I know a gal name of Betty Sue
              Shook it so much
              She got the German flu
              No matter how she done it
              No matter how she done it
              No matter how she done it
              She done it just the same

    As she sings we PAN and TRACK, moving through the large, near-
    empty COUNTRY ROADHOUSE-

                        BERTHA MAE
              You women don't worry
              About your life
              She made Jack the Ripper
              Throw away his knife-


    Only a few die-hard REGULARS are scattered at the tables and
    bar stools. A pretty young woman in her late teens, CHINA
    DOLL, is behind the bar, head held in her hands, listening
    aimlessly.

                        BERTHA MAE
              No matter how she done it
              No matter how she done it
              No matter how she done it
              She done it just the same

    Lonnie and Scratch step in, cautiously looking around, hoping
    that nobody will notice and tell them to leave.
                                                         4.


They plant themselves next to the piano, Lonnie intently
watching the long fingers work the keys- we TILT to see
TYRONE `Pinetop' Purvis, proprietor and piano player, in his
50's. He acts as if the boys aren't there, concentrating on
the music. We SHIFT to include Bertha Mae as she wraps up
the song-

                    BERTHA MAE
          A copper brought her in
          She didn't need no bail
          She shook it for the judge
          He threw the cop in jail
          No matter how she done it
          No matter how she done it
          No matter how she done it
          She done it just the same

SLICK, a pretty, sharply-dressed man in his late 40's at the
bar, and MACEO, who sits at a table near the bandstand
smiling throughout, APPLAUD. The sound makes the room seem
more empty.

Ty stands, nods to METALMOUTH SIMS, a slight, worried-looking
harmonica player who sits behind Bertha Mae-

                    TY
          You take it for a while.

As Ty crosses to the bar we hear RECORDED MUSIC booming from
outside-

                    BERTHA MAE
          They makin all that racket again at
          Toussaint's.

                    TY
          Yeah. And all them people over
          there buying drinks and throwing
          their money after them dice and
          whatnot. Lucky we got none a that
          here.

Metalmouth launches into a HARMONICA INTRO. Ty pauses at the
counter next to Slick, who is attentively watching Bertha Mae-

                    BERTHA MAE
          You can drink your liquor
          You can drink your cold can beer-

                    SLICK
          She sounding good, huh?

                    TY
          Sounds fine.   Always has.
                                                           5.



                    BERTHA MAE
          You can drink your good whiskey
          You can drink your cold can beer-

                    SLICK
          Not much of a crowd.

                    TY
          Not a crowd at all. Just some
          stiffs who want to drink theirself
          to sleep without the music wakin em
          up.

                    SLICK
          You ought to advertise. Got an
          attraction like Bertha Mae-

                    BERTHA MAE
          You can lay up with your sweet gal
          But Poppa don't you leave me here

                    TY
          Singin is one thing, Slick.
          Whether people want to look at you
          while you do it is another.

                    SLICK
          (defensive) You saying something
          about-

Maceo arrives to join them, interrupting-

                    MACEO
          Got quite a number over to
          Toussaint's place tonight.

                    TY
          Sounds like it.

                    MACEO
          Lots of young folks. Come to
          listen to that box of his.

China Doll brings Ty a glass of whiskey.    He gives her a sad
smile-

                    TY
          Thanks, China Doll.

We FOLLOW as Ty crosses to the door-
                                                           6.



                       MACEO (O.S.)
             Don't see why we don't just turn
             our box on and let folks feed it
             nickels like they do.

                       SLICK (O.S.)
             The lady is singing.

                       MACEO (O.S.)
             But didn't nobody come to listen to
             her, Slick.

Ty looks out the door at-


POV - EXT. ACE OF SPADES CLUB

-the RED-lit ACE OF SPADES CLUB across the road, PEOPLE
hanging out in front, LAUGHTER heard from within-


HONEYDRIPPER

Ty reacts.    Behind him, Maceo indicates the near-empty room-

                       MACEO
             Like the man say, you can't argue
             with failure.

STOKELY, a bitter drunk who holds on to the end of the bar,
calls out to them-

                       STOKELY
             You know why Slick here is like a
             preacher?

Slick tenses, used to this-

                        STOKELY
             Cause he does all his best work on
             his knees.

Stokely almost chokes with laughter-

                       MACEO
             Never mind him, he just a drunk-

                       STOKELY
             I hear she put a ring through it
             and use it to yank him around the
             house.

Slick starts to rise but Maceo puts a hand on his arm-
                                                             7.



                    MACEO
          You know Tyrone don't allow no
          scufflin here, Slick.

                    STOKELY
          I oughta get me a old woman too,
          take care of the groceries. Just
          got to sweet-talk her some, give
          her a good poke now and then-

                    MACEO
          You gonna drink, Stokely, or you
          gonna lay out back recoverin from
          that busted head you about to get?

                       DELILAH
          Gentlemen-

They all turn to see DELILAH, Ty's wife, coming out from the
back of the club. She is dressed for church-

                    SLICK
          (doffs his hat)    Miss Delilah-

                    DELILAH
          Let's behave ourselves. (sees)
          What are you boys doing in here?
          Out!

Lonnie and Scratch, busted, hurry out.   Delilah turns her
attention to China Doll-

                    DELILAH
          And what are you doing behind that
          bar?

                    CHINA DOLL
          It's just for a minute.

                    DELILAH
          That's sixty seconds too long.
          Maceo, you get back there and take
          that child's place.

China Doll mopes as she steps out from behind-

                    DELILAH
          You bring people their food. Don't
          you be messing with their liquor.

                    CHINA DOLL
          Nobody's eating.
                                                          8.



                    DELILAH
          That's cause nobody's here but
          these couple lost souls, haven't
          had an appetite since they give
          over to the devil.

Maceo gets behind the counter as Delilah heads for Ty at the
door-

                    BERTHA MAE
          At Pinetop's Honeydripper
          That's where I get my cold can beer
          At Pinetop's Honeydripper
          That's where I get my cold can beer-

Maceo reluctantly moves down to take the order of NADINE, a
large, handsome woman with a prominent gold tooth who has
just stepped in-

                    NADINE
          Evenin, Maceo. You lookin good
          tonight.

                    MACEO
          Likewise, Miss Nadine.   What can I
          do for you?

                    NADINE
          (flirting) You know what you can
          do for me, sweet man.

Maceo tries to slip the hook and be polite at the same time-

                    MACEO
          What would you like to drink?


DOORWAY

Ty watches the CROWD in front of the Ace of Spades.   Delilah
comes up to join him, indicates his drink-

                    DELILAH
          How many is that tonight?

                    TY
          Don't dog me about that, baby.   Not
          tonight.

                    DELILAH
          I don't want China Doll behind that
          bar.
                                                 9.



                    TY
          She got to help out.

                    DELILAH
          Not there she doesn't. You know
          she's not sposed to get excited-

                    TY
          Not much chance of that in here.
          (wistful) Harvest hands all been
          crowdin into Toussaint's place.
          The young ones.

                    DELILAH
          You'll get some of them.

                     TY
          They stick their noses in here, get
          one little sniff of the music, and
          they gone.

                     DELILAH
          (joking)   Maybe that's the wages of
          sin.

                    TY
          (bitter) Aint no sin happenin here
          tonight, baby, and there sure as
          hell aint no wages. Your God wants
          to chastise some sinners He best
          move on over to Toussaint's, got a
          whole barroom crowded with em.

                    DELILAH
          He isn't `my God'.   He's
          everybody's God.

He looks at his wife-

                    TY
          How that tent meeting went tonight?

                    DELILAH
          Viola Underwood found the Lord.

                    TY
          I thought she found Him last year
          when they come through.
                                                        10.



                    DELILAH
          (smiles) Well, she must have lost
          Him again between then and now,
          cause she come down that aisle
          tonight hollering in tongues.

                    TY
          The Spirit didn't move you, though?

                    DELILAH
          (thoughtful) Not yet.   Might be
          too late for me.

Delilah surveys the room-

                    DELILAH
          I can't believe you're serving
          Alton Stokely.


STOKELY

Stokely has to use two hands to keeps his glass steady as he
drinks-

                    DELILAH (O.S.)
          That poor man-

                    TY (O.S.)
          Toussaint cut his credit off.
          Either he gets it here-



TY AND DELILAH

                     TY
          -or he drinks that paint-peeler
          Willie Pettigrew cooks up back in
          the swamp.

                    DELILAH
          He's gonna drink himself to death
          in here.

                    TY
          Least he won't go blind first.

Delilah shakes her head and heads out the door-

                    DELILAH
          Imonna go home and say a prayer for
          that man.
                                                         11.



                     TY
          (calling after)   Say one for me
          too, baby.


STAGE

Bertha Mae is singing straight to Slick now, as Metalmouth
backs her up on the harmonica-

                    BERTHA MAE
          Come here sweet Poppa
          Let me whisper in your ear
          Come here sweet Poppa
          Let me whisper in your ear
          Go back to Alabama
          But don't you leave your Momma here

Only Slick applauds-

                    SLICK
          That was outstandin, baby.   You
          still got the voice.

Bertha Mae, a little unsteady, holds onto Slick's arm as he
helps her off the stage-


                    BERTHA MAE
          You think so?

                    SLICK
          Sent a chill down my spine to hear
          you.

Bertha Mae looks to Ty as he steps back in-

                    BERTHA MAE
          I might be a little late Saturday,
          Tyrone.

                    TY
          (mutters, embarrassed) Don't need
          to come in if you don't want to.

She stops dead.   Stares at him till he has to let it out-

                    TY
          I've made other arrangements.

                    BERTHA MAE
          Other arrangements-
                                                            12.



                        TY
              Try something new in here.

                        SLICK
              You can't do that!

                        BERTHA MAE
              It's his place, darlin, he can do
              whatever he want.

    Bertha Mae nods to Ty, holding onto her dignity for all it's
    worth-

                        BERTHA MAE
              You know where to find me if you
              need me.

    Bertha Mae pulls Slick out the door. China Doll watches
    after them, troubled, while Ty pours himself another drink-

                         MACEO
              (softly)   I put the box on now, Ty?

                         TY
              Yeah.   Put the box on.

                        MACEO
              Imonna crank it up some, see if we
              can draw a little life in here-

    Maceo crosses and plugs an ancient-looking tabletop JUKEBOX
    in.

    The jukebox sputters to life, LIGHTS FLASHING ON and MUSIC
    BLARING for a moment, then the LIGHTS FLICKER and all the
    POWER in the club goes OFF!


9   EXT. HONEYDRIPPER - NIGHT                                     9
    The Honeydripper SIGN is the last to FLICKER and DIE.

    Lonnie and Scratch watch from under the streetlight-

                        LONNIE
              There it go again.

                        SCRATCH
              Lectricity don't like that jukebox.
                                                               13.




10   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - NIGHT                                   10
     DARKNESS.

                           MACEO
                 Damn.

                           TY
                 China Doll?

     A MATCH is struck, FLARES as China Doll lights a KEROSENE
     LAMP she's pulled from under the bar-

                           CHINA DOLL
                 Got to get the power company in
                 here-

                           TY
                 No you don't. They turned my juice
                 off last month- don't want them
                 sniffin around that splice job
                 Maceo done.

                           MACEO
                 Must be a short circuit in the juke
                 here-

     He yanks the plug out of the wall as Ty steps up to reassure
     the few patrons-

                           TY
                 Don't worry folks, bar's still
                 open.

                           NADINE
                 It's nice like this.   Kind of
                 romantic.

                           MACEO
                 Imonna have to go out back, wiggle
                 some things around.

                           NADINE
                 Don't be wigglin nothin round less
                 I'm there to see it.

     Maceo rolls his eyes as he passes Ty on the way out with a
     FLASHLIGHT. He freezes in his tracks as the FLASHLIGHT BEAM
     hits a FIGURE standing in the doorway-

     It is SHERIFF HIRAM PUGH, large and in charge.    Pugh strolls
     into the club as if he owns it.
                                                        14.



                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Evenin, folks.

                    TY
          Evenin, Sheriff.

Sheriff Pugh looks around the near-empty club-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Your lights gone out.

                    TY
          Looks like it.

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Don't know but that be a vilation
          of somethin or other.

Ty has played this game before, trying to hold his ground
without pissing off the white man with the badge-

                    TY
          We just about to close up here.

Pugh sniffs the air-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Your wife been cookin?

                    TY
          Not tonight.   Went to the revival
          tent.

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          (grins) I stood by there a while.
          Them nigras was singin up a storm.

Ty doesn't respond. Sheriff Pugh stops right next to
Stokely, giving him a dead-pan stare as he speaks. Stokely
won't meet his eyes-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          I just come out here to look in on
          Toussaint- had that shooting two
          nights ago.

                    TY
          Lot's of fighting in there.

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          There is that. But me and Old
          Toussaint got us a greement.
                    (MORE)
                                                        15.
                    SHERIFF PUGH(cont'd)
          You get these field hands suckin
          down that whiskey, hop em all up
          with music, there's gonna be some
          razors drawn. He only call me if
          it's a fatality.

                    MACEO
          Never been a killin in here.   Them
          youngbloods know better-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          -than to mess with Tyrone Purvis.

He turns his attention to Tyrone-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You got quite the reputation round
          here, Tyrone. Say you put some
          poor black boy in the grave.

It gets very quiet, the HISS of the KEROSENE LANTERN growing
tense and insistent.

China Doll looks from Sheriff Pugh to Ty's face, searching
for a flicker of evidence. Ty stays deadpan-

                    TY
          Just people talkin.

The Sheriff steps to put his face very close to Ty's, an edge
of menace in his voice when he speaks softly-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You remember that this is my
          county, Tyrone. What goes on goes
          on cause I let it. Don't want to
          get too big for your britches out
          here.

Ty holds Pugh's eyes for an agonizingly long moment, then the
sheriff turns and heads for the door-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You folks have a pleasant evening,
          now.

They all wait for him to clear the door before they exhale.

                    STOKELY
          A nigger aint shit in this world.

Maceo snatches the whiskey bottle from Stokely-
                                                               16.



                         MACEO
               Speakin for yourself.

                         STOKELY
               You didn't have this club, Tyrone,
               what you think you be?

     We TIGHTEN on Ty's face.   He has been thinking about this
     very thing-

                          STOKELY (O.S.)
               Wouldn't be nothin. And if that
               aint true then grits aint
               groceries.

     A long TRAIN WHISTLE echoes outside-


11   EXT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - NIGHT                              11
     Bertha Mae pauses as she climbs the FRONT PORCH of her two-
     story wooden HOUSE, the nicest in the neighborhood, listening
     to the TRAIN WHISTLE with a troubled look on her face. Slick
     waits for her with the door open-

                         BERTHA MAE
               That is a terrible noise.

                         SLICK
               Just the northbound from Talledega.
               Sounds like it always does.

                          BERTHA MAE
               Like a soul bein carried away from
               this life.

     ANOTHER WHISTLE-

                         SLICK
               Come on in, darlin.     You catch your
               death out here.


12   EXT. RAILROAD STATION - NIGHT                                12
     We hear the TRAIN WHISTLE again as the WHEELS ROLL and the
     TRAIN strobes past us, picking up speed as it pulls out from
     the yard-

     When it clears we see a LONE FIGURE standing across the
     tracks. He steps forward and catches a bit of light--
                                                           17.



SONNY BLAKE, 20's, rumpled from hard travelling.   He carries
a GUITAR CASE and something bulky in a SACK-

SHACK THOMAS, an older man in a PULLMAN PORTER'S UNIFORM
stands under the moth-addled light on the tiny STATION
PLATFORM, watching Sonny-

                    SHACK THOMAS
          Lucky the high-sheriff aint here to
          see you crawl outta that boxcar.

                    SONNY
          He come round here much?

                    SHACK THOMAS
          Only when he's bored.

Sonny reaches Shack at the platform-

                    SONNY
          You working that train?

                    SHACK THOMAS
          Kansas City to New Orleans.

                    SONNY
          What you get off here for?

                    SHACK THOMAS
          I growed up here. Still got
          people. How bout you?

                   SONNY
          (shrugs) Got tired of sleepin in a
          boxcar. Listen, is there a place
          to-

                     SHACK THOMAS
          (points) Switchman's shed, right
          over there, has got a cot. Don't
          mind the rats none, less you got
          food on you- and I can see you and
          a good meal has been strangers for
          some time.

Sonny looks at the shed, unenthusiastic-

                    SHACK THOMAS
          You get into town tomorrow an need
          somethin, tell em Shack Thomas sent
          you. They know who you talkin
          about.
                                                             18.



                           SONNY
                Thanks. Hey, what's the name of
                this town?

     Shack points to the SIGN hanging down from the lip of the
     platform roof-


     SIGN

                          HARMONY
     The sign reads-


                          SONNY (O.S.)
                Name like that, must be a good
                place for musicians.


     PLATFORM

     Shack laughs as he heads away-

                          SHACK THOMAS
                Only night I ever spent in jail was
                a town called Liberty. Sun comes
                up, you'll see where you landed.
                And you best be out of that shed by
                first light.


13   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - LATE NIGHT - CU MONEY                    13
     A few wet, crumpled BILLS and dirty COINS are spread out on
     the bartop-

                          MACEO (O.S.)
                It's just a weekday night-


     WIDER

     Still operating by LANTERN LIGHT, Ty and Maceo look at the
     night's dismal take, as China Doll lays chairs on top of
     tables-

                          TY
                I owe the chicken man, I owe the
                ice man, I owe the liquor man-

                          MACEO
                Least you don't owe the electric
                company.
                                                         19.



                    TY
          (indicates the dark room)    Yeah,
          that's a big relief.

                      MACEO
          (worried)    You thinkin bout closing
          down?

Ty frowns, reaches under the counter and brings up a POSTER.
He spreads it out on the counter top. It reads-

                      SPECIAL ATTRACTION

               New Orleans Singing Sensation

                        `GUITAR' SAM

                    TY
          What you think?

                    MACEO
          Biggest act in New Orleans, got him
          a hit on the radio-

                    TY
          He's playing here Saturday night.
          Figured I'd wait till Bertha Mae
          was gone to put this up.

Ty turns to look for the right spot to fix the poster-

                     MACEO
          Here?   You mean like in this room
          here?

                     TY
          You know the Tomcat Club in
          Texarkana?

                    MACEO
          Big Jim Jamison's place-

                    TY
          Just went out of business.

                      MACEO
          Damn-

                    TY
          And since Sam is giggin his way
          over to Tulsa, that means he got
          the date open-
                                                              20.



                         MACEO
               But you aint never had a guitar pl-

     Ty gives Maceo a warning look, which China Doll notes-

                         TY
               I'm having one now.

                         MACEO
               What you gonna pay the man with?

     Ty glances at China Doll, uneasy-

                         TY
               You just worry about gettin these
               hung up everywhere in the county
               tomorrow. Payday come Saturday, he
               gonna draw alla them cotton pickers
               and soldiers boys in here, get us
               back in the black.

     Ty looks around at the empty club-

                         TY
               They gonna take me down, it won't
               be without a fight.

     Maceo holds the poster up to the lamplight, warming to the
     idea-

                         MACEO
               Guitar Sam at the Honeydripper.
               Man, this joint is going to jump!


14   EXT. COUNTRY ROAD/1ST COTTON FIELD - EARLY MORNING           14
     SUNRISE. An OLD MAN in coveralls leads a MULE along the side
     of the road.

     A TRUCK carrying two dozen PICKERS in its open bed approaches-


     TRUCK

     One of the pickers, DEX, turns to look back at the man and
     mule-

                         DEX
               Aint seen no mule in a long time.

     The other pickers, men and women, don't look interested or
     even fully awake yet-
                                                        21.



                    DEX
          I knew this was Alabama, but that's
          the Stone Ages, man.

One of the other men, HAM, looks him over. Dex is little and
combative and has a nasty-looking SCAR on his face. Ham is
big and morose, with a deep, grumpy voice-

                    HAM
          Where you from, boy?

                      DEX
          Memphis.

                    HAM
          Down on you vacation?

A few snickers-

                    DEX
          Got in a piece of trouble up there
          with the white folks, need to bide
          my time for a spell.

JUNEBUG, a local man with a nervous air, jumps in-

                    JUNEBUG
          You bide any time in these fields,
          bossman gonna fire your ass for
          takin up space.

                    DEX
          Aint no worry bout that.   I'm a
          cotton-pickin fool.

                    HAM
          You a fool, all right.

More snickers and the truck stops at the side of a COTTON
FIELD. Somebody lets the tailgate down and they begin to
climb off-

                    DEX
          And where you from, Brother Bear?

                      HAM
          Missippi.

                    DEX
          Then this a real step up for you.
          Folks round here has discovered
          fire and whatnot-
                                                           22.



                    HAM
          That trouble you in have anything
          to do with runnin your mouth?

The pickers unroll the sacks they pick up from the pile
that's been left and begin to spread out at the base of the
unpicked rows-

                    DEX
          Had to do with somebody get on my
          nerves and I had to deal with him.

                    HAM
          Must of been somebody kind of puny.

Dex turns to face the much larger Ham-

                    DEX
          As I recall he just about your
          size.

The two men stare at each other for a long moment. Way too
early to fight. Dex breaks eye contact and moves toward a
row-

                    DEX
          What's this place we at?

                    JUNEBUG
          Nearest town is Harmony.    This Mr.
          Silas Tugwell's place.

He nods toward Dex's row-

                    JUNEBUG
          You better get pickin.

                    DEX
          Cotton aint goin nowhere.

                    JUNEBUG
          More you get first thing when the
          dew still on it, the more it weighs
          when it tip that scale.

Dex's gaze falls upon a tall, strong-looking young woman
starting down the row next to his-

                    DEX
          You live here too?

She gives him a weary look-
                                                                23.



                           DEX
                 (shakes his head)   You got my
                 sympathies.


15   EXT. TOWN - TRAIN TRACKS - EARLY MORNING                     15
     A WIDE SHOT of the TRACKS that cut the town in two.


     CLOSER

     Sonny stands on the tracks just as the SUN RISES, pondering-
     which side of the tracks is for white people, which for the
     colored.

     He hears GUITAR MUSIC to one side, steps cautiously toward it-


16   EXT. MAIN STREET - GENERAL STORE - EARLY MORNING             16
     Sonny wanders down the street lugging his sack and case,
     moving toward the sound of a SLIDE GUITAR being played
     expertly-

     An irate-looking WHITE LADY glares at Sonny as she picks up
     the milk bottles from her stoop, steps inside and slams the
     door. Sonny moves ahead, uneasy-

     We TIGHTEN on his face as he stops to listen, the MUSIC
     ECHOING, seeming to come from here, then from there, then
     suddenly from right behind him-

     He turns-

     POSSUM, blind, with his chair tilted back against the not-yet-
     open GENERAL STORE, PLAYS expertly on a beat-up old GUITAR.
     Sonny lays his case down to listen for a moment, watching the
     man's fingers-

     Possum gets a whiff of him.     He keeps playing as he speaks-

                           POSSUM
                 Somebody slept in the railroad
                 yard.

     Sonny watches the blind man's fingers move on the strings-

                           SONNY
                 Yall can play that thing.

                           POSSUM
                 Been doin it near forever.
                                                         24.



                    SONNY
          (looking around) Listen, which
          side of the tracks am I-

                    POSSUM
          The wrong side for you.

                    SONNY
          What you doing here then?

                    POSSUM
          White folks look right through me.
          How much mischief an old blind
          spook like me gonna get up to
          anyhow?

Sonny surveys the street-

                    SONNY
          Where our people go for music
          around here?

                    POSSUM
          There's a couple places just a
          little bit out of town. At the
          crossroads.

                       SONNY
          Long walk?

                    POSSUM
          You in a hurry?

Possum finishes his song-

                    SONNY
          How old is that box you playin,
          Pops?

                    POSSUM
          (smiles) Second one that ever was-
          an the devil's got the first. How
          bout yours?

Possum gently nudges Sonny's case with his toe.   Sonny is
surprised at the blind man's perception-

                       SONNY
          Brand new.     Made it myself.

                       POSSUM
          (whistles)     Made it hisself-
                                                             25.



                         SONNY
               That's right. So these clubs-

                         POSSUM
               Old Toussaint, owns the Ace of
               Spades, don't feature live music.
               And Pinetop Purvis, owns the
               Honeydripper Lounge? He don't care
               bout no guitar. Won't have one
               under his roof.

                         SONNY
               That don't make sense.

     Possum scratches his head-

                          POSSUM
               Yeah- when a musician put his hand
               to murder, nine times outa ten it's
               a drummer done it. But Pinetop a
               piano man-

                         SONNY
               He killed somebody?

                         POSSUM
               That's the story.    Might be true,
               and it might not.


17   EXT. HONEYDRIPPER - MORNING - TY                          17
     Ty is tacking one of the Guitar Sam POSTERS on the front of
     the building.

                         POSSUM (V.O.)
               But if you meet the man, you damn
               well don't be askin him about it.

     A CRACKLE and a curse from the side of the roadhouse-

                         MACEO (O.S.)
               Damn!

     Ty looks up-

                         TY
               What's the matter?

                         MACEO (O.S.)
               I got a shock.
                                                        26.



                    TY
          Thought you used to work for the
          power company.


SIDE OF ROADHOUSE, MACEO

Maceo wrestles with the jury-rigged WIRES that run out from
the battered, rusting POWER BOX-

                    MACEO
          I drove a supply truck.

                    TY (O.S.)
          Guitar Sam aint gonna play by no
          candlelight.

                      MACEO
          (sniffs)    I smell bacon.

                    TY (O.S.)
          You must of burnt your porky ass
          with that lectricity.

                    CHINA DOLL (O.S.)
          Breakfast ready!


FRONT OF ROADHOUSE

China Doll has stepped out from the club-

                    TY
          Where's your mama?

                    CHINA DOLL
          Already over to the Mayor's. She
          told me to come here and make sure
          you eat something fore you start
          runnin around.

Maceo comes around from the side-

                    MACEO
          That is a sweet woman you got.

                    CHINA DOLL
          You got one waitin for you if you
          want her.

Maceo makes a face-
                                                                27.



                         MACEO
               You mean Nadine?


18   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - MORNING                                  18
     They step into the club. Plates of bacon, eggs and biscuits
     sit on one of the tables-

                         CHINA DOLL
               (teasing) Come in here every night
               makin them cow-eyes at you-

     Ty and Maceo sit-

                         MACEO
               She seems like the kind could
               smother a man-

                         CHINA DOLL
               She makes all her own clothes.

                         TY
               (smiles) Darlin, that's not the
               kind of thing a man cares about
               from a woman.

     The LIGHTS that went out last night suddenly FLICKER ON-

                         MACEO
               Hey, I fixed it!

                         TY
               You didn't do no such thing. It
               just decided to come back on.

                          MACEO
               Decided.

                         TY
               Just like it decided to switch off
               last night. You not even in the
               conversation.

                         CHINA DOLL
               Miss Nadine makes some good money
               too, sewing for people.

                          MACEO
               That woman scares me. Last ole boy
               that give her a tumble, Nappy
               Carpenter?
                          (MORE)
                                      28.
          MACEO(cont'd)
She cook for him, fixed him up all
kinds of nice new clothes, kept him
in gin and poker chips-

          CHINA DOLL
Don't see no problem with that.

          MACEO
Well, come four, five months, a man
starts to- sorry, China Doll, but
this just the way it is- a man gots
needs.

          TY
Nadine look like she can take care
of those, too-

          MACEO
You eat chicken every morning, noon
and night for five months, you get
a taste for some different kind of
meat, right? (looks to China Doll)
Maybe I shouldn't be-

          CHINA DOLL
Aint gonna tell me something I
haven't heard worse.

          MACEO
Well, Nappy goes out and has him a-
a porkchop or two, let's say- and
he comes back from Toussaint's one
night feeling no pain, smelling
like- like porkchops- the way a
man will- and he falls out on
Nadine's couch and commences to
snore. Wake up the next mornin,
finds she had took all his clothes
off without him knowin it-

          TY
Man was dog drunk-

          MACEO
Miss Nadine come in with a skillet
in her hand, hot grits bubbling in
it, says "Baby, I got your
breakfast." "Not this morning,
Nadine," he says, sittin up, "don't
think I could eat a thing." "Well
then," she says, "we can't let this
go to waste, can we?" and she dump
that whole hot bubblin mess right
in the man's lap.
                                                        29.



                      TY
          (wincing)    Owwww!

                    MACEO
          Then she got busy with that hot
          iron on his head. Screams didn't
          bring the neighbors in, she would
          of killed that man.

They are all quiet for a moment, contemplating-

                    TY
          You got to admit it, though- woman
          is an artist with that Singer
          machine.

                      SONNY (O.S.)
          Scuse me?

They turn to see Sonny standing in the doorway-

                    SONNY
          Which one of you is Mr. Pinetop?

Ty's eyes fix on Sonny's face for a moment- something
familiar there- then go down to the guitar case at his feet-

                    TY
          We aint hirin.

                    SONNY
          I can play anything-

Ty indicates the Guitar Sam POSTER hanging behind the bar-

                    TY
          Already got me a professional.

Sonny looks a little shaky-

                    SONNY
          Guitar Sam really coming all the
          way out here?

                    TY
          That so surprising?

                    SONNY
          No, no-- uhm, Mr. Shack Thomas
          said that if I was to-

                    TY
          You know Shack?
                                                           30.



                    SONNY
          We uh- we travelled together-

Ty gives him a once-over-

                    TY
          When's the last time you ate solid
          food, young man?

Sonny has to think-

                    TY
          (to China Doll) Take him back and
          fix him somethin, China Doll.
          Standin there all hungry-eyed, puts
          me off my breakfast.

                    SONNY
          That's real kind of you-

Sonny pulls his hat off as he follows China Doll, who is
suddenly quiet and self-conscious, back to the kitchen-

                    MACEO
          Must of come in on the northbound
          last night.

                    TY
          Look like he got cooties, too.
          Straw in them boxcars is full of
          em.

                    MACEO
          Never cared to travel that way.

Ty grows somber, reminiscing-

                    TY
          I was out there ridin them rails
          between the wars. Seem like half
          the country headin west rolled past
          the other half comin back east.
          (musing) Every one of us scrapin
          for the next meal-

                    COOL BREEZE (O.S.)
          This is the place.

They turn to see COOL BREEZE, a hard-looking, sharply-dressed
character, leading the prosperous looking MR. SIMMONS into
the club as if they aren't there-
                                                          31.



                       COOL BREEZE
             Yall can tear things down, put
             things up- got a lot of potential.

                       MR. SIMMONS
             Looks bigger in here than it does
             from the outside.

                       TY
             I help you gentlemen?

                       COOL BREEZE
             Just showing the man gonna run this
             place what he's got.

Ty stands-

                       TY
             This is my place.

A frozen moment.    Then Maceo stands as well, backing up his
friend.

Cool Breeze puts one foot up on the chair next to Ty, licks a
finger and dabs at his shoeshine with it-

                       COOL BREEZE
             You the piano player, right?

                       TY
             Name's Tyrone- call me Pinetop
             Purvis.

                       COOL BREEZE
             Pinetop Purvis who owes two hundred
             dollars to Lucky Hardaway up in
             Little Rock-

                       TY
             He's gonna get his-

                       COOL BREEZE
             Pinetop who missed last month's
             rent-

                       TY
             After this weekend-

                       COOL BREEZE
             After this weekend you gonna be the
             same raggedy-ass piano player can't
             pay his debts off and Mr. Simmons
             here gonna be the new proprietor.
                                                       32.



                    TY
          Lucky give me two weeks-

                    COOL BREEZE
          Lucky got a better offer.

He nods toward Mr. Simmons-

                    TY
          He can't do that.

Cool Breeze takes his foot down and gets up in Ty's face. He
lets his jacket fall open so the butt of his .44 PISTOL is
visible-

                    COOL BREEZE
          You don't think so?

                    MACEO
          (trying to defuse) What if we got
          our payment for him Monday?

Cool Breeze doesn't take his eyes off Ty's-

                    COOL BREEZE
          Saturday night.

                    MACEO
          We can do that-

                    COOL BREEZE
          Not just a taste- the whole two
          hundred.

                    TY
          And I throw in a twenny-five cent
          tip for his messenger boy.

                    COOL BREEZE
          I'll be here.

                    TY
          In the meantime, we not open yet.
          Which means yall are trespassin.

Cool Breeze grins, still locking eyeballs with Ty-

                    COOL BREEZE
          You seen enough, Mr. Simmons?

                    MR. SIMMONS
          I believe I have.
                                                           33.



Cool Breeze breaks eye contact, strolls out, followed by
Simmons-

                    COOL BREEZE
          Yeah, somebody could make something
          out of this place. Wouldn't take
          much work at all.

Ty and Maceo wait till the men are gone before they speak-

                    TY
          We cleared over two hundred that
          one weekend-

                    MACEO
          Couple years back-

                    TY
          And we didn't have no Louisiana
          guitar wizard playin neither.

                    MACEO
          Yeah, they say he draws em like
          flies.

                    TY
          That's what they say.

An awkward pause.   Both men are shaken.   Ty sits back down to
think-

                    MACEO
          They say first thing he does is go
          to the man that owns the joint,
          sticks out his hand and wants that
          cash money put in it.

                    TY
          I already sent fifty to his
          manager.

                    MACEO
          How much you payin him all out?

                    TY
          Another hundred.

                    MACEO
          We'd have to clear three hundred-

                    TY
          I figure we charge folks two
          dollars to get in, then drinks-
                                                               34.



                         MACEO
               (shakes his head) What I'm sayin
               is, less he sees the green up front
               the man won't get off the train.

     A TRUCK HORN honks outside-

                         MACEO
               What's that now?

     Ty, mind working, looks desperate as Maceo exits to see who's
     honking-


19   EXT. HONEYDRIPPER - MORNING                                 19
     A battered TRUCK sits in front of the club. ZEKE, a taciturn
     white man, and his black loader step out as Maceo approaches-

                         MACEO
               (calls out) Bout time you fellas
               run by. We just about dry here.

     The loader lets down the tailgate to reveal CASES OF BEER AND
     LIQUOR. He begins to pull them out and pile them on the
     ground-

                         ZEKE
               Your boss in?

     Maceo shouts back into the club-

                          MACEO
               Tyrone!   Whiskey wagon come by!

     Ty steps out of the club carrying one of the Guitar Sam
     posters-

                         TY
               Y'all a day late.

     Ty nods at the Ace of Spades club across the way-

                         TY
               Old Man Toussaint gonna chew you
               out.

                         ZEKE
               Toussaint went over to another
               supplier upstate. We just got you,
               then we headin down to the army
               base, officers' club needs
               servicin. This fifty-six dollars-
                                                        35.



                    TY
          (weak grin) My credit no good
          anymore?

Zeke only has to look at the loader, who starts to put the
cases back onto the truck-

                    TY
          Whoah, whoah- what's your hurry?

                    ZEKE
          Nobody that's right in his head
          sell liquor on credit. Specially
          not to no darktown roadhouse.

                    TY
          Well this is like a special case,
          see- we got the harvest coming in,
          soldiers at the base gonna be let
          out on leave- Saturday night. Aint
          enough hootch in this truck to
          satisfy what we gonna sell-

                    ZEKE
          You pay as you go.   That's bidness.

Zeke walks toward the cab of the truck, Ty following him,
desperate, waving the poster-

                    TY
          You can come by Monday, get paid
          and take back every damn drop I
          aint sold! We got Guitar Sam lined
          up, you know what that means?!

Zeke steps in and slams the door, the loader doing the same
on the other side of him-

                    TY
          I'll pay you extra- penny a bottle
          on the beer and a nickel on the
          whiskey!

The truck engine coughs-

                    TY
          (desperate) What if I throw in
          five dollars up front, just for you
          fellas- ?

 Zeke pulls away-
                                                          36.



                    TY
          Come on, man, everybody give
          credit, that's the American way!

But the truck is gone down the road.   Maceo comes up beside
Ty, watching forlornly-

                    MACEO
          Maybe we could buy some busthead
          from Willie Pettigrew.

                    TY
          With that sheriff sniffin around
          every night? Land my black ass in
          jail for good.

Another TRUCK pulls around the bend from the opposite
direction-

                    MACEO
          Then what we gonna do?

The new truck slows to a stop by them.    The DRIVER pokes his
head out-

                    DRIVER
          Got a liquor delivery for a Mr.
          Lucien Toussaint?

                    MACEO
          That's-

                    TY
          That would be me.

Maceo bites his tongue.   Ty plays it through-

                    TY
          I trust they got my check all
          right?

                    DRIVER
          Don't spose I'd be here if they
          didn't.

Ty glances over to the Ace of Spades, then points behind the
Honeydripper-

                    TY
          Pull it around to the back- we'll
          help you unload.
                                                                 37.



     The driver nods and wheels the truck past them.   Maceo's
     smile fades and he looks to Ty-

                         MACEO
               Man, this better be some Saturday
               night.


20   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - KITCHEN - MORNING                         20
     A little kitchen built onto the back of the bar. Sonny sits
     wolfing down eggs and toast as China Doll watches him from
     the stove-

                           SONNY
               Arkansas.    How bout you?

                         CHINA DOLL
               We come here just after Mama met my
               step-daddy.

                         SONNY
               Not much happenin, little town like
               this.

                         CHINA DOLL
               (shrugs) They started up the
               training base again-

                         SONNY
               That right?

                         CHINA DOLL
               You been in the Army?

                           SONNY
               Uh-huh.

                         CHINA DOLL
               You shoot people?

                         SONNY
               Fixed radios.

                          CHINA DOLL
               They say this new war gonna be a
               short one.

                         SONNY
               Might be, might not.    I was to
               Japan.
                                                        38.



                   CHINA DOLL
          Yeah? What's the people like
          there?

                     SONNY
          Small.

                     CHINA DOLL
          Yeah?

                    SONNY
          (holds a hand up) Bout that high.
          And they speak Japanese.

                    CHINA DOLL
          You been to California?

                     SONNY
          (nods)   Los Angeles.

                    CHINA DOLL
          Where they make the movies.

                    SONNY
          You go to the movies?

                    CHINA DOLL
          I been once.

He sits back and looks her over-

                    SONNY
          Fine-looking girl like you, ought
          to been all kinds of places.

                    CHINA DOLL
          I'm going to em. First I'm going
          to beauty school when Mama saves up
          the money and then I have a
          portable skill-

                    SONNY
          Like playin music.

                    CHINA DOLL
          My step-Daddy says that aint a
          skill-

                    TY (O.S.)
          -it's an affliction.

Ty sticks his head in, Maceo behind him with a case of liquor
in his arms-
                                                             39.



                         TY
               Come on, China Doll. Got some
               bidness in town you gonna help me
               with.

     Ty gives Sonny a distrustful look-

                         TY
               And you, young man, want to point
               yourself west down that highway.
               Bout three miles you see a mess of
               people working in the fields- it's
               harvest time. If you can stoop and
               pull, they got a job for you.

     He steps out the back door-

                         TY
               And wash up them dishes before you
               go.


21   INT. MAYOR WINSHIP'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING            21
     Delilah is washing breakfast dishes, SINGING a gospel song as
     she works-

                         DELILAH
               I see four and twenty elders
               Down on their knees
               I see four and twenty elders
               Down on their knees
               Well they all turn together
               Standing to greet the rising sun
               I see four and twenty elders
               Down on their knees

     AMANDA WINSHIP, the mayor's pretty, high-strung wife, enters
     and hovers uneasily-

                         AMANDA
               Your biscuits were wonderful this
               morning, Delilah.

                            DELILAH
               Thank you.

                         AMANDA
               Of course, they always are.   I
               don't know how you do it.

                         DELILAH
               Just cook em.
                                                               40.



                         AMANDA
               When I married Floyd I swear I
               couldn't even boil water. Might be
               why he insisted I needed help
               around the house. He used to come
               to the dinner table with a sense of
               dread.

                         DELILAH
               Anybody can learn to cook. Just
               have to put your mind to it.

                         AMANDA
               Maybe you could show me some of
               your secrets some time.

                         DELILAH
               No secrets to it. Imonna fix some
               ham with yams and greens today, you
               want to learn how.

     Amanda thinks about it, smiling all the while, sighs-

                         AMANDA
               Maybe some other day.

     Delilah isn't surprised by the response-

                         DELILAH
               You just say the word, Miss Amanda,
               I have you cookin in no time.

     Amanda nods, uncomfortable but not leaving.   She can't
     exactly offer to help with the dishes-

                         AMANDA
               I just don't know what I'd do
               without you.


22   EXT. MAIN STREET - GENERAL STORE - MORNING                  22
     Ty, Maceo and China Doll approach the general store.    A WHITE
     COUPLE enter from the front-

                          TY
               What I need is for you to go get
               friendly with Luther, then I just
               happen in-

                         CHINA DOLL
               We can't just ask Mr. Skinner?
                                                        41.



                      TY
            Mr. Skinner don't want nothin from
            colored folks but they buy his
            goods and shine his shoes. You go
            on ahead, now-

Maceo and China Doll cut around toward the back of the store.
We TIGHTEN on Ty as he unrolls the posters he carries, looks
across the street for another likely place to hang one-

                      POSSUM (O.S.)
            It was early
            Friday evenin
            Hounds began to bark

Ty turns-   how did Possum get there, chair and all?

                      POSSUM
            Stackolee an Billy Lyons
            Was squabblin
            In the dark

Ty frowns at the lyrics-

                      POSSUM
            Stackolee said
            To Billy Lyons
            "What you think bout that?
            First you takes all my money
            Then you spits in
            My Stetson hat."

                      TY
            I hate that damn song.

Possum keeps playing but stops singing-

                      POSSUM
            How you keepin, Tyrone?

                      TY
            (wary) Just tryin to hold it
            together.

                      POSSUM
            Got your beautiful young daughter
            with you this mornin-

                      TY
            Don't you be studyin her.
                                                               42.



                         POSSUM
               Heard you gone put on a guitar man
               out your place.

                         TY
               Where you hear that?

                          POSSUM
               (grins)   Oh- the breeze.

                         TY
               Well this time the breeze know what
               it's blowin about.

                         POSSUM
               Better be careful, Tyrone. You
               know what them guitar players are
               like.

     Ty glares at Possum-

                         TY
               Be careful yourself.

     Ty stalks away around toward the back of the store.   Possum
     grins and sings again-

                         POSSUM
               Well he shot him
               Three times in the shoulder
               Three times in the side
               That was the last time he shot him
               Cause Poor Billy
               Up and died


23   EXT. REAR OF GENERAL STORE - MORNING                        23
     A quartet of WORKMEN and DELIVERYMEN lounge on piled up
     shipping crates as Shack Thomas stands addressing them-

                         SHACK THOMAS
               The time is ripe and the bill is
               past due. Roosevelt would of done
               it already, only he died and they
               don't listen to Miss Eleanor no
               more. But Mr. Truman startin to
               bend, specially now that we got a
               war heatin up. As Brother Randolph
               says-

                         TY (O.S.)
               Here it comes-
                                                       43.



Shack looks to see Ty joining the others-

                    TY
          -the gospel accordin to A. Phillip
          Randolph.

                      SHACK THOMAS
          (pleased)    Tyrone! How you doing,
          man?

                    TY
          Got my nose above the waterline.

                    SHACK THOMAS
          And here's my baby- how's your mama
          doing, China Doll?

He gives China Doll a hug and kiss-

                    CHINA DOLL
          She's doin fine, Uncle Shack.

                    SHACK THOMAS
          Just tellin the boys here how
          Brother Randolph pushin through
          this deal where our boys gonna be a
          full part of services- already got
          the Navy and the Air Force, and the
          Army is-

                    TY
          I carried a rifle in the Great War,
          Shack. Boys get in the middle of
          this Korea mess they aint gonna
          thank you for your efforts.

                    SHACK THOMAS
          We want our due in this country, we
          got to go whole hog-

                    TY
          Black folks shooting yellow folks
          to keep the white folks happy?

                    SHACK THOMAS
          It's time to move on from that kind
          of thinkin.

Ty starts in through the back entrance of the store-
                                                             44.



                         TY
               You go ahead and move right on,
               Shack. Then come back and tell the
               rest of us how it is.

     He steps in.   Shack turns to China Doll-

                         SHACK THOMAS
               That is a hard-headed man.


24   INT. GENERAL STORE - MORNING                              24
     LUTHER, the head clerk, arranges boxes on the back wall and
     shoots a nervous look up front-

                         LUTHER
               I'd have to ask Mr. Skinner.

                         TY
               Of course you would. While you at
               it, remind him how one of the
               reasons colored folks come in here
               is to get the lowdown on what's
               happening in--

     Luther brightens as China Doll steps in-

                         LUTHER
               China Doll!

     Luther is clearly smitten-

                         CHINA DOLL
               You gonna let us put these posters
               up, aint you Luther?

                         LUTHER
               Oh-- I don't think that be any
               problem at all.

                         CHINA DOLL
               (beaming a smile) That's awful
               nice of you, Luther.

                         LUTHER
               You lookin special today.

                         CHINA DOLL
               That's sweet of you to say.
                                                                45.



                         TY
               Maceo, go on with the man and he
               show you where you can put em up.
               Come on, darlin, we got more stops
               to make-

     China Doll spreads a parting bit of sunshine-

                         CHINA DOLL
               Nice to see you, Luther.

     Luther smiles and waves as Maceo hooks his arm and pulls him
     back into the store-


25   EXT. RAILROAD TRACKS/RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD - MORNING      25
     Ty and China Doll hurry down the tracks and cross to the
     black side of town-

                         TY
               You got that boy eatin out of your
               hand.

                         CHINA DOLL
               Luther's the only one didn't pull
               my hair when he sit behind me at
               Sunday school.

                         TY
               Well I hope you got a little that
               sugar left, cause we got to spread
               some on Miss Bertha Mae Spivey-

                         CHINA DOLL
               You gone ask her to come sing
               again?

                         TY
               Imonna ask her for money. Word is
               she got a whole pile of it
               squirreled away.

     China Doll stops, breathing heavily, bends to put her hands
     on her knees-

                         CHINA DOLL
               Daddy-

                         TY
               Come on, girl, we in a rush here-
                                                               46.



                         CHINA DOLL
               I got to rest.

     Ty softens, walks back to stand beside her-

                         TY
               I'm sorry, baby.   You catch your
               breath.

     China Doll smiles weakly-

                         CHINA DOLL
               So- why Miss Spivey gonna give you
               money, you don't let her sing at
               the club any more?

                         TY
               Gonna make her a partner.

                         CHINA DOLL
               Partner in what?

                         TY
               In the Honeydripper.

                         CHINA DOLL
               But all you ever say it's just a
               hole you pour good money into-

                         TY
               That don't matter.     Imonna make her
               a proprietor.

                          CHINA DOLL
               `tress'.   Like waiter and waitress.

                         TY
               Proprietress. She got to like the
               sound of that.


26   EXT. MAIN STREET - GENERAL STORE - WINDOW, POSTER           26
     One of the GUITAR SAM POSTERS appears in the front window as
     Maceo tapes it up-

     A trio on teenage girls stop to look at it as they pass
     (Possum is nowhere to be seen)-

     Maceo steps out to join them, eager to close the deal-
                                                               47.



                         MACEO
               Lovely ladies out to make a
               purchase-

                         OPAL
               That the same Guitar Sam is on the
               radio?

                         MACEO
               The very one.

                         OPAL
               What's he look like?

                         MACEO
               Fine lookin man. Real lady killer
               from what I hear. Got that New
               Orleans style to him.

                         OPAL
               You ought to have a picture up
               there.

                         MACEO
               Oh, we'll be gettin some of those
               when he comes in on the train. The
               main thing is, the man is
               electrified- and you know what
               that means.


27   EXT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE                                     27
     Formerly a fairly grand house, Bertha Mae's hasn't been
     painted for awhile and the yard could use some work. Ty
     coaches China Doll as they climb the stairs-

                         TY
               We make like we just come by to see
               how she's keepin, and then I'll
               kind of mention how I been thinking
               of bringing her on as a partner-

                         CHINA DOLL
               Left the door open.

     China Doll pushes the front door all the way open. We can
     hear Bertha Mae's VOICE singing on a scratchy old RECORD.

     China Doll peeks in to see-
                                                                  48.




28   INT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - FRONT PARLOR                         28
     -Slick, sitting at the bottom of the STAIRS that lead to the
     second floor, looking lost and bewildered-

                            SLICK
                  She's gone.

                              TY
                  Oh.

     Ty frowns.    He was all geared up for the siege-

                            TY
                  When she gonna be back?

                            SLICK
                  She's just gone.   Woke up beside
                  her and--

     He can't go on, tears forming in his eyes.       China Doll and Ty
     trade a look-


29   INT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - BEDROOM                              29
     We start on the RECORD PLAYER, needle down on the spinning
     song, then RACK to see Bertha Mae, laying DEAD in her bed.

                              TY
                  Aw, damn.

     We RACK again as Ty and China Doll step in. Slick appears in
     the doorway behind them. He's been drinking-


                            SLICK
                  Fourteen years.

                            TY
                  China Doll, you go find your Mama.
                  She know how to fix up the body.

                            SLICK
                  People make jokes and all, but I
                  been with that woman fourteen
                  years. That's a good part of my
                  life.

                            TY
                  And stop by Beauchamp's and tell em
                  they got a customer.
                                                               49.



                         SLICK
               She gimme the only home I ever had.

     He looks at them, devastated-

                         SLICK
               What I'm gonna do now?


30   EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY                                     30
     Sonny walking along. He has left his guitar and sack back at
     the club. He slows, seeing-


     POV - SHERIFF'S CAR

     The SHERIFF'S CAR is sitting at the side of the road, a
     COUNTRY SONG playing on the radio-


     SONNY

     He decides to brave it, walks ahead with his eyes fixed
     straight ahead. We he gets even with the car we see Sheriff
     Pugh sitting in the driver's seat, watching him-

                         PUGH
               In a hurry, boy?

     Sonny stops, looks to the Sheriff-

                           SONNY
               Naw, sir.

                         PUGH
               Take your hat off.

     Sonny takes his hat off. He meets the Sheriff's eyes, trying
     to strike a balance between defiant and submissive-

                         PUGH
               Where you headed?

                         SONNY
               Lookin for work.

                         PUGH
               You're not from here.

                           SONNY
               Naw, sir.
                                                             50.



                         PUGH
               Stranger wanderin around, no job-
               that would make you a vagrant.

                         SONNY
               But I'm lookin-

                         PUGH
               I got a job for you.   Get in the
               back.

     Sonny doesn't even think about running away.


31   EXT. 1ST COTTON FIELD - DAY - WORKERS                     31
     Black PRISON LABORERS pick cotton, watched over by an armed
     DEPUTY-

                         GATLIN (O.S.)
               I can always use another hand.

     We SHIFT to see GATLIN, a white planter who chews and spits
     tobacco, looking Sonny over as Sheriff Pugh stands by-

                         PUGH
               Caught this young fella in flagrant
               violation of the statutes. Gawkery
               with intent to mope.

                         GATLIN
               What's he gonna run me?

                         PUGH
               Three dollars a day plus you feed
               im lunch. Now the sentence- that
               depends on how long you gonna need
               the help.

     Sonny decides to speak up-

                         SONNY
               I don't get any trial?

                         SHERIFF PUGH
               Sure you do, boy. And a speedy
               one, too. (points) Meet Judge
               Gatlin.

     Gatlin spits-

                         GATLIN
               Grab a sack.
                                                               51.




32   EXT. PINEY WOODS - CROSSROADS - AFTERNOON                   32
     Maceo nails a Guitar Sam POSTER to a tree, looks over his
     handiwork.

     An ARMY PLATOON trudges into the crossroads, sweat-soaked and
     footsore-

     Maceo watches, pleased, as the black soldiers check the
     poster out as they pass-

                         MACEO
               Saturday night, fellas! Every fine-
               looking colored woman in the county
               gonna be there- don't want to miss
               it!

     A white LIEUTENANT passes, giving Maceo a dark look.   Maceo
     salutes-

                         MACEO
               Afternoon, sir.   Nice lookin bunch
               of soldiers.


33   INT. MAYOR WINFIELD'S HOUSE - DINING ROOM - DAY             33
     Delilah sits at the dining room table with a sandwich she's
     made herself. We hear PERRY COMO on a RECORD somewhere in
     the house. She hasn't gotten two bites down before Amanda
     wanders in, crossing to the liquor cabinet-

                         AMANDA
               Oh dear, I believe it's about that
               time-

     She pulls out a DECANTER OF WINE-

                         AMANDA
               Would you care to join me?

                         DELILAH
               No thank you.

     Amanda pours herself a glass of wine-

                         AMANDA
               Of course you won't join me, you
               don't partake. That was
               thoughtless of me.
                                                52.



                    DELILAH
          That's all right.

                    AMANDA
          So you don't take spirits and- what
          else? In your church?

                    DELILAH
          I'm sort of between churches right
          now. I been thinking about
          changing over to the Holiness, but
          I- I haven't been sanctified yet.

                     AMANDA
          Ah-

                    DELILAH
          There's been a minister in this
          week-

                    AMANDA
          The tent out by the fairgrounds.

Delilah nods.   Amanda takes a drink-

                    AMANDA
          The church I grew up in- we were
          Pentacostals- they wouldn't have
          anything but the human voice inside
          the church. And dancing- any kind
          of dancing, music, card playing--
          well, it was very strict. They
          took up serpents.

                    DELILAH
          I've heard of that.

                    AMANDA
          I tell Floyd these stories and he's
          horrified. They've always been
          Methodists, Floyd's family.

                    DELILAH
          They're good people too.

                    AMANDA
          When I married Floyd-- oh, it was
          quite a scandal among my relatives.
          As if I'd taken up with somebody in
          a cult.
                                                        53.



                    DELILAH
          It can be a trial, married folks
          differ in their religion.

                    AMANDA
          And your husband is a--- ?

                    DELILAH
          Unaffiliated.

                    AMANDA
          Unaffiliated. I see.    He has his--
          social club-

                    DELILAH
          The Honeydripper.

                    AMANDA
          Such a colorful name.

                    DELILAH
          Yes.

                    AMANDA
          He must devote a great deal of his
          energy to it.

                    DELILAH
          It's just him and Maceo Green runs
          it, and then I go over and cook
          some when I get off here.

                    AMANDA
          That's very- supportive of you.
          Considering the sort of-
          environment-

                    DELILAH
          (defensive) I been in those
          barrooms most of my life, Miss
          Amanda.

Amanda realizes she has probed too deep, tries to back up-

                    AMANDA
          I see-

                    DELILAH
          I was a singer. I met Tyrone in
          the Paradise, down in Shreveport,
          China Doll was only two-

Delilah considers, struggling to express who Ty is-
                                                            54.



                    DELILAH
          I was just kind of livin along, you
          know, drinking more than I ought--
          then Tyrone. It was like a light
          come into my life.

Delilah turns away, embarrassed to have revealed so much-

                    DELILAH
          People think things because he owns
          the Lounge, but they don't know
          him.

                    AMANDA
          Small minds are never in short
          supply.

She crosses to look out a window-

                    AMANDA
          The people in this town---

She catches herself, smiles-

                    AMANDA
          I suppose they expected that Floyd,
          being from a prominent family- as
          prominent as is possible here in
          Harmony- would have chosen somebody
          more--

She fades away again, empties her glass-

                    AMANDA
          My people were very devout, but
          they weren't- financially
          successful.

                    DELILAH
          No shame in that.

                    AMANDA
          In school, if you didn't have shoes-

She frowns at the memory, sighs-

                    AMANDA
          Oh, I forgot--

Amanda is up and out of the room.   Delilah frowns at the
decanter, hurries to put it away.

Amanda comes back in holding a DRESS for a young girl-
                                                           55.



                    AMANDA
          I was going through Emily's old
          things the other day, and I thought
          this would look just darling on
          your China Doll-

Delilah examines the dress, which is clearly for a little
girl-

                    DELILAH
          Oh- I don't think it would near fit
          her, Miss Amanda.

                    AMANDA
          (disappointed) How old is she now?

                       DELILAH
          Seventeen.

                     AMANDA
          (shocked) Oh my- I must have lost
          track somewhere along the line.
          Seventeen.

She sits, still holding the dress, sneaks a look over to
where the wine decanter was-

                    DELILAH
          It was a very nice thought.

An awkward silence that Perry Como fills inadequately. A
KNOCK at the back door, then China Doll steps in, not seeing
Amanda right away-

                     CHINA DOLL
          Mama?   They need you at-

Delilah shifts her eyes to indicate-

                    CHINA DOLL
          Oh, I'm sorry, Miss Amanda.   I
          didn't know you was home.

                     AMANDA
          (smiles) China Doll! We were just
          recalling-    you used to play right
          here under this table.
                                                               56.




34   INT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - BEDROOM                            34
     Ty sits staring, mind working overtime, staring at the dead
     woman on the bed. He barely hears Slick talking to the
     undertaker behind him, busy filling out forms-

                         SLICK
               There isn't any cash money I know
               of. She sold a good deal of the
               furniture, but there's still a nice-
               lookin sofa in the parlor. Only
               thing she cared for anymore was
               singin out to Pinetop's place-

     Ty looks at a large RING on Bertha's Mae's cold gray hand.
     He touches it with a finger-

                         SLICK
               You welcome to look around the
               house- if there's anything your
               Missus might like-- long as it's
               not something personal to me and
               Bertha Mae-

     Ty draws his finger away from the ring as if burnt-

                         SLICK
               It's just- she got to go out in
               style, is what it is. The best you
               got, all the trimmins- lay it out
               for her. That's the way she lived
               it- that's the way she ought to
               leave it.

     Ty closes his eyes and buries his head in his hands-


35   EXT. 1ST COTTON FIELD - AFTERNOON                            35
     Blazing hot.    Cotton chaff in the air as the prison WORK GANG
     bend to their   task, dragging long sacks behind them like
     snakes. Even    the DEPUTIES are sweating rivulets as they
     stand by with   their SHOTGUNS in hand.

     Sonny is way behind the others, not dressed for the work,
     wincing as he pricks his fingers for the umpteenth time.
     NED, a little prisoner picking his way back in the opposite
     direction in a parallel row, takes pity on him-

                         NED
               Y'all never done this job before.
                                                57.



                    SONNY
          Can't say I have.

                    NED
          You want to set your pins out wide,
          bend over from the hip-

Sonny widens his stance-

                    NED
          -and don't be bobbin up and down
          all the time. When you up, be up,
          but when you on the row, stay down.

Sonny digs in and keeps low-

                    NED
          But most important, you got to get
          you a rhythm. Everything in this
          life got a rhythm to it- even
          pullin cotton off the plant.

                    SONNY
          Lay it out for me.

                    NED
          Not my rhythm- your rhythm. That's
          between you and the day and the
          work you got before you. Once you
          on it, don't let nothin and nobody
          push you off it.

                    SONNY
          I'm going so slow.

                    NED
          You gettin paid by the pound or by
          the hour?

                     SONNY
          I'm not gettin paid at all.   None
          of us are.

Ned cackles-

                    NED
          Then I suggest you work that into
          your rhythm too.

A DEPUTY calls out-
                                                             58.



                         DEPUTY
               Let's see more pickin and less
               talkin over there!

                         NED
               Gettin right on it, Boss!

     Ned picks his way behind Sonny. Sonny starts to rock
     slightly, looking for a rhythm of movement he can maintain-


36   EXT. 1ST OPPOSITE COTTON FIELD                            36
     The free pickers sit on and around the truck that brought
     them, eating lunch. Dex watches the prison laborers across
     the road as he SHUFFLES a battered DECK OF CARDS, sitting
     with a couple of the other men-

                         DEX
               Them boys fryin over there.

                         JUNEBUG
               That Judge Gatlin's gang- he work
               them people from can until can't,
               ever damn day, and when his fields
               is picked he bid em out to the
               neighbors. Harvest time comes
               round here, you sign up with
               somebody fast or you stay outa
               sight.

     Dex waves flies away from his face, spits-

                         DEX
               Ate a peck of dust today.

                         JUNEBUG
               Take some water.

                         DEX
               Only thing wash the dust out is
               whiskey.

                         JUNEBUG
               (smiles) Aint enough whiskey in
               this world wash out what I
               swallowed in my life.

     Dex riffles the cards-

                         JUNEBUG
               What we playin for?
                                                           59.



                    DEX
          Two bits a hand.

                    JUNEBUG
          That's kind of steep-

Dex laughs and starts to deal a card at a time to the players-

                    DEX
          Hell, I member playin this game one
          night- Memphis is Boss Crump's
          town, folks is gamblin before they
          can walk- ten dollars a hand. I
          caught a winnin streak that cleaned
          out half the sportin men on Beale
          Street. Got up from that table, my
          money was as long as train smoke-

                    JUNEBUG
          What happen to it?

Dex raises his voice so the woman he checked out in the
morning can hear-

                    DEX
          Spent it all on fine-lookin women.

He calls to where Ham stands in knee-high grass, a heavy
stick in his hand, staring intently at the ground-

                    DEX
          Yo, Missippi-

                    JUNEBUG
          His name Hamilton.

                     DEX
          Hambone!   You want in on this?

He raises a matchstick in his fingers-

                    DEX
          Settle up on payday.

                    HAM
          That your deck of cards?

                    DEX
          What if it is?

                    HAM
          I stay clear of it then.
                                                        60.



Dex stops dealing to stare at Ham, insulted-

                    DEX
          You sinuatin?

                    HAM
          Just sayin I don't want to play.

There is a sudden RUSTLING at Ham's feet and WHAP! he brings
his stick down hard. He pulls up a RABBIT, dead, by its hind
legs-

                    JUNEBUG
          Looks like dinner.

                    DEX
          Rabbit is a rodent. Man eat a
          rabbit, might's well eat a rat.

Dex snorts, disgusted, then finishes dealing. He lays the
top card face up and slaps down the rest of the deck-

                    DEX
          (mutters) Simple country nigger,
          fraid to sit down an lose his
          little handful of change--

                    JUNEBUG
          He awful big to mess with.

                    DEX
          Don't scare me none. I'm a steppin
          razor, man, I'm trouble on two
          legs.

We hear a CAR APPROACHING, SLOWING DOWN-

                    DEX
          Your draw, Junebug. And don't be
          drippin sweat on my cards.

                    MACEO (O.S.)
          Excuse me, folks-

They turn to see Maceo leaning out of the window of Ty's old
Ford, a Guitar Slim POSTER taped to the side of it-

                    MACEO
          Yall heard about the show we puttin
          on at the Honeydripper Saturday
          night?
                                                               61.




37   EXT. PURVIS HOUSE - NIGHT                                    37
     A very modest wooden house with a porch.    LIGHTS on inside-


38   INT. PURVIS HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT                          38
     Ty and China Doll sit as Delilah lays dinner on the table.
     She is dressed to go out-

                         DELILAH
               I expect there'll be a nice turnout
               for Bertha Mae tomorrow.

                         TY
               Folks who wouldn't have nothin to
               do with her when she was alive.

                         DELILAH
               Some of them, maybe. You still got
               to pay your respects.

                         TY
               Slick gonna have to find him a new
               ride.

                         DELILAH
               That's a terrible thing to say-

                         TY
               That's how the man gets over, is
               all, sugarin up to some woman got a
               job or a bankroll-

                         DELILAH
               It's no way to live.

                         TY
               Just how it is out in the world,
               baby- man got to walk through the
               gates of Hell to get a piece of
               cheese.


     He stares moodily, unnoticing as she lays his plate in front
     of him-

                         TY
               You're not so young any more, lose
               hold of what little you got-

     He just shakes his head-
                                                          62.



                    DELILAH
          If you lose the club I'm sure
          you'll find something else.

                    TY
          In this town?   Like what?

Delilah proceeds cautiously-

                    DELILAH
          You know anytime you want I could
          get Miss Amanda to ask her husb-

                    TY
          "Watch yo feet, Mr. Mayor, I done
          just mopped the flo! "

Delilah tries to ignore this-

                    DELILAH
          You work so hard at the Lounge, and
          what it brings in-

                    TY
          Isn't even as much as what you make
          polishin that white lady's silver.
          I know.

                    DELILAH
          I didn't say that.

                    TY
          You didn't have to.

Delilah gives up, knowing he's set on his mood-

                    DELILAH
          It'll just have to work out, then.

A strained silence.   Delilah crosses to the back door-

                    DELILAH
          Meetin gonna start without I'm
          there.

                    TY
          Your soul not the one needs savin,
          baby.

She gives Ty a lost look, steps out.   The screen door slams.
China Doll sees how worried Ty is-
                                                              63.



                            CHINA DOLL
                  It's all gonna be fine, Daddy.
                  Everbody in town talkin bout Guitar
                  Sam comin to Harmony.


39   EXT. REVIVAL TENT - NIGHT - WIDE SHOT                      39
     A CHOIR sings at the front of the LANTERN-LIT tent, a
     CONGREGATION of salvation-seekers filling the benches-

                            CHOIR
                  Mother died-
                  Yes she died and left me
                  It was long- long time ago
                  Oh but I searched
                  Searched her record over
                  I found mother just had to go


     UNDER TENT

                            CHOIR
                  Oh she cried son,
                  Son don't you worry
                  Oh you know the Lord
                  Always fix a way

     Delilah arrives at the rear of the tent, finds herself a spot
     on a bench-

                            CHOIR
                  She left me standing
                  Standing along the highway
                  Oh wondering- which way I must go!

     REVEREND CUTLIP watches his singers, clapping out time with
     his big hands-

                            CHOIR
                  As I walked-
                  All along the highway
                  I was seeking my Lord each day
                  She left me standing
                  Standing along the highway
                  Just wondering- which way must I
                  go!

     `Amens' and other sounds greet the end of the song. Reverend
     Cutlip steps to the center of the platform and looks around
     at the souls gathered-
                                                        64.



                    REVEREND CUTLIP
          The Highway of Life, Brothers and
          Sisters, will twist you and turn
          you, it will run you this way and
          that way, it will tempt you with
          many a detour-- for the Highway of
          Life, Brothers and Sisters, is
          designed to lead us astray!

He gets an `Amen!' from someone in the crowd-

                    REVEREND CUTLIP
          It meanders away from the Light and
          into the Darkness, it tires our
          legs and whittles away at our
          spirits!

The congregation start to get into it, RESPONDING, rocking
with the rhythm of the sermon, flapping their PAPER FANS that
advertise Beauchamp's Funeral Home in the hot night--

                    REVEREND CUTLIP
          It snares us with the thorns and
          thistles of wickedness, it is paved
          with the black deeds of sinners and
          laid out on a crooked plan! That's
          not the road we want to be on,
          Brothers and Sisters, that's not
          the path we need to follow!

The Reverend picks up speed-

                    REVEREND CUTLIP
          We got to get on that other road!
          The one that leads to salvation!
          The one that leads to glory! The
          one that leads to the right hand of
          God! Praise His name!

                    CONGREGATION
          Praise the Lord!

                    REVEREND CUTLIP
          The thoroughfare I'm talking about,
          the righteous path we got to tread,
          is called the Highway to Heaven,
          and by the great Lord above it is
          straight and it is narrow!
                    (MORE)
                                                               65.
                         REVEREND CUTLIP(cont'd)
               Keep your eyes on the prize and
               your feet on the street and you
               won't ever make a mis-step, you
               won't ever falter, you won't ever
               stumble, because Jesus will show
               you the Way!

     Several people in the audience are up and SHOUTING now,
     getting into the Spirit. Reverend Cutlip shifts gear,
     filling his voice with a sense of dread and warning-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               But you got to pay attention to who
               it is walking beside you, Brothers
               and Sisters, got to be wary against
               those who will hold you back from
               your journey! There's many a loved
               one got to be left behind! Cause
               you either on the road or you lost
               in the wilderness!


     DELILAH

     We TIGHTEN on Delilah as she listens, upset, taking this all
     very personally-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP (O.S.)
               You either headed for glory or
               doomed to damnation! You either in
               with the Lord or you in with the
               Devil- and they aint no in-between!


40   INT. JAIL - NIGHT                                           40
     We TRACK past CELLS full of black PRISONERS-

                         KING (O.S.)
               Tulsa aint so bad but for the smell-

                         NED (O.S.)
               Got them stockyards near the jail-

                         KING (O.S.)
               That's right- and the flies.
               Course, I had me in a cell in
               Georgia once, six other men, didn't
               have no window atall.

                         NED (O.S.)
               Must of got caught on one a them
               freights.
                                                       66.



Sonny is in a big COMMON CELL with the other conscripted
LABOR GANG. He hangs on the bars as behind him men pitch
pennies, while Ned and another veteran jailbird, KING,
compare lodging experiences-

                    KING
          Yeah, aint no free ride allowed
          through Georgia. And the food
          there-

                    NED
          Paltry-

                    KING
          Paltry aint the word for it.
          Breakfast was a joke, lunch was a
          rumor-

                    NED
          -and dinner was a anecdote.

                    KING
          (laughs) Spose you been locked in
          that box.

                    NED
          Or one just like it.

Sonny begins to SING softly, almost to himself-

                    SONNY
          Well you wake up in the morning
          Hear the bing-bong ring-
          Walk up to the table
          And see the same damn thing
          All Imonna tell you
          Knife, a fork and a pan
          If you say a thing about it
          You're in trouble with the Man

The men join him on the chorus-

                    ALL
          Let the Midnight Special
          Shine its light on me
          Oh let the Midnight Special
          Shine its ever-lovin light on me-

Sonny turns to face them-

                    NED
          You a singer, young man?
                                                                67.



                         SONNY
               Singer, guitar player- Imonna be on
               the radio some day. People gonna
               know my name.

                         NED
               (chuckles) Keep thinkin that way,
               young man. Judge Gatlin don't
               choose to work you into your grave,
               you just might do it.

     Sonny ponders this, looking back out through the bars,
     singing more moodily now as we TRACK AWAY from the cell-

                         SONNY
               If you ever go to Houston
               Don't you stagger don't you fight
               Cause the Sheriff will arrest you
               You're in the cooler for the night-


                                                   FADE TO BLACK.


41   INT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - MORNING                    41
     We hear the slow BLUES DIRGE Bertha May as we see China Doll
     applying polish to Bertha Mae's fingernails-


42   INT/EXT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - MORNING                          42
     MUSIC CONTINUES. We TRACK BACK through the house, looking at
     PHOTOGRAPHS and POSTERS of her singing in her glory days,
     finally TRACKING out onto the PORCH where Slick sits glumly
     on the steps and the undertaker stands in his black suit,
     looking at his watch as MOURNERS begin to pass into the house-


43   INT. BERTHA MAE'S HOUSE - PARLOR - MORNING                     43
     MUSIC CONTINUES.   MOURNERS pass the OPEN COFFIN-


44   EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - MORNING                                    44
     MUSIC CONTINUES. Ty and Maceo help carry the coffin down a
     dirt road, Slick walking at the head of the mourners
     following it-
                                                                68.




45   EXT. CEMETERY - MORNING                                      45
     MUSIC CONTINUES as-

     Hands grip ropes as the coffin is lowered into the HOLE-

     Reverend Cutlip speaks a eulogy-

     Slick tries to keep it together-

     Scratch and Lonnie watch the ceremony from a tree branch-

     Ty looks at his watch, slips away from the funeral party.
     Delilah notices, frowns. Reverend Cutlip takes note as well-

     A shovel digs into piled dirt-

     Dirt is tossed down upon us and the screen goes BLACK.


46   EXT. RAILROAD STATION - MORNING                              46
     Ty waits for a train, still in his mourning suit. We TIGHTEN
     on his face- tense, preoccupied with his schemes to save the
     club-

                         POSSUM
               Hear tell Miss Bertha Mae passed.

     Ty whirls around-- somehow he didn't see Possum, sitting on a
     bench behind him, guitar in his lap.

                         TY
               That's right.

                         POSSUM
               She lived it how she sang it.

     Ty tries to ignore him, looks down the rails-

                         POSSUM
               Waitin for somebody.

     Ty is silent.

                         POSSUM
               Aint nobody on that train gonna
               change your luck, Tyrone. Gonna
               have to save your own self.
                                                                69.



                              TY
                  (annoyed)    What you know about
                  anything?

                            POSSUM
                  Oh, nothin much.

     Ty steps away.    Possum speaks quietly-

                            POSSUM
                  But I know you from way back.

     Possum starts PLAYING, a dark, moody, slide-guitar blues.

     Ty looks toward Possum, not happy he's there, then looks
     away. The MUSIC gets LOUDER, FASTER, Possum MOANING and
     WHOOPING, stomping his foot-

     We TIGHTEN on Ty's face, tighter, tighter, then DISSOLVE TO:


     INT. BAR - NIGHT - FLASHBACK
47                                                                47
     We're in a   BAR ROOM- smoke, heat, packed bodies- Possum's
     SONG grows   more intense as we TRACK IN on GUITAR MAN- young,
     with slick   hair a moustache and tons of attitude. He sneers,
     flicks his   cigarette almost straight at us.

     We TRACK IN on YOUNG TYRONE, also swearing, stepping away
     from his piano-

     Guitar Man hands his guitar to one of the eager MEN standing
     close, hoping for a fight-

     A PRETTY GIRL stands to one side, looking scared and excited,
     covering her mouth with her hands-

     Young Tyrone steps in to meet him, the CROWD around almost
     pushing them together-

     Guitar Man pulls out a KNIFE! Young Tyrone grabs for it and
     they grapple, face to face, struggling in a terrible dance-

     A TRAIN WHISTLE breaks the spell!


     EXT. TRAIN YARD - MORNING - PRESENT
48                                                                48
     Possum stops playing and cocks his head to listen-

     The WHISTLE again as the TRAIN APPROACHES.

     Ty takes a deep breath, hoping-
                                                                70.




49   EXT. COUNTRY ROAD/2ND COTTON FIELD - DAY                     49
     Mourners are walking back down the country road where we saw
     the coffin carried.

     Reverend Cutlip sidles up to Delilah-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               A mournful end for a wayward
               sinner.

                         DELILAH
               She always seemed at peace with
               herself.

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               The company she kept, the life she
               led-

                         DELILAH
               I never knew Bertha Mae to do hurt
               to a living soul.

     The Reverend is not too pleased with Delilah's forgiving
     attitude-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               We're all hoping to see you get
               over and accept the Lord tonight,
               Delilah.

                         DELILAH
               I'm hoping so too.

     Cutlip nods toward the FIELD as they pass the PRISON LABOR
     GANG, picking cotton under guard-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               You been lingering at the threshold
               long enough, Sister. Time to step
               ahead.

     Delilah tries not to show how shaken she is by this
     challenge. She passes out of frame and we see China Doll
     bringing up the rear of the funeral party, lost in thought.
     She looks over into the cotton field-


     POV - SONNY, PRISON LABOR GANG

     Sonny bends his back with the other laborers, picking and
     sweating-
                                                                   71.




     CHINA DOLL

     China Doll pauses, frowns as she sees it is Sonny working, a
     DEPUTY strolling past him, shotgun in hand. Sonny sees her,
     lowers his head in shame-


50   EXT. TRAIN STATION - LATE MORNING                               50
     The TRAIN has just pulled into the station.       A pair of
     PULLMAN PORTERS step out--

     But nobody else.

     Ty feels his heart sink. Shack Thomas comes up behind him,
     carrying an overnight bag-

                            SHACK THOMAS
                  Tyrone- got somebody gettin off
                  here?

                            TY
                  Supposed to be.

     He halts by Ty for a moment, watching.      Nobody else is
     stepping out-

                            SHACK THOMAS
                  What's the party's name?

                            TY
                  Sam- Guitar Sam-- don't know his
                  birth name-

                            SHACK THOMAS
                  (impressed) He's comin here?

     He calls to the porters further up the platform-

                              SHACK THOMAS
                  Yo, Nat!    Guitar Sam get on this
                  train?

                            NAT
                  Naw, man. He's in the hospital
                  back in Little Rock.

                              TY
                  Hospital?
                                                              72.



                         NAT
               You know music folks- whatever he
               was doin, he must have done too
               much of it.

     The porters LAUGH. Shack, realizing this must be a setback
     for Ty, pats his shoulder before he steps onto the train-

                         SHACK THOMAS
               Well, brother- maybe he be in
               tomorrow.

     We FOLLOW Ty away from the train as Nat calls `All aboard!'
     and the engine gathers power.

     Possum sits listening to the single SLIDE NOTES he plays, as
     if tuning his guitar-

                         POSSUM
               Somebody didn't show up.

                         TY
               (grim) Wish they'd made you dumb
               instead of blind.

     We HOLD on Possum, cackling darkly, as Ty walks away.   The
     train WHISTLE BLOWS-


51   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - DAY                                       51
     A torn and crumpled Guitar Sam POSTER lays on the bar
     counter.

     FINGERS move on the keyboard.

     Ty sits drinking, brooding, PLAYING and SINGING softly at the
     piano. Maceo is at the bar-

                         TY
               Well I had my fun if I
               Don't get well no more
               Well I had my fun if I
               Don't get well no more
               My head is spinnin
               And I'm goin down slow-

                         MACEO
               Man don't take care of hisself- out
               drinkin and jazzin the women every
               night-
                                                          73.



                    TY
          Don't make any difference now.

                    MACEO
          Got so bad, I heard there was some
          ole boy goes around pretendin to be
          Guitar Sam, fill out the gigs he
          misses. Does pretty well for
          hisself, what I hear-

Ty pauses on the keyboard-

                    TY
          Somebody we could find?

                    MACEO
          (shrugs) Hell, I don't know.     Just
          a story I heard.

They both go back to brooding.   Ty takes a drink.   He stares
at the keyboard-

                    TY
          There must have been a first one.

                    MACEO
          First what?

                    TY
          Back slavery days, they had the
          ones that worked in the big house.
          Might not of had shoes always, but
          their pants didn't have no holes
          and they didn't pick no cotton.

                    MACEO
          House niggers.

                    TY
          That's how they called em. They
          must of had all their African kinda
          instruments- drums, shakers, some
          kind of banjo thing- but the piano-

                    MACEO
          Didn't bring no piano over on them
          ships from Africa.
                                                74.



                    TY
          The piano was just sittin there in
          the white folks' big room, all
          polished up-- and I figure this
          one boy, he goes past fifteen,
          twenty times a day, running the
          corner of his eye over it. And
          he's there when they play, the
          masters, doin all their minuets and
          whatever-

Ty PLAYS something like a MINUET-

                    TY
          -him standing there with a tray of
          white people food pretendin not to
          have a thought in his head, might
          be only some dust hangin in the air
          for all they know- but he's
          watchin the fingers, see, watchin
          them keys work. This old boy, the
          first one, he can play alla them
          Africa kinda instruments, he can
          play mud if you give him the key
          and the tempo, he's got music in
          his head, in his heart, in every
          damn piece of him there's music.

                    MACEO
          Down to the bones--

                    TY
          And one day the masters is away,
          huntin foxes or some rich white
          people thing they get up to, and
          he's alone in the room with that
          piano and he comes over and sits
          down on the bench-

                    MACEO
          Watch out now-

                    TY
          -and he spreads his fingers out the
          way he seen the minuet player do-
          and he-

Ty hits a MINOR CHORD, lets it decay-

                    TY
          And he thinks- `Lord help me, I
          could do some damage with this.'
                                                        75.



A silence.    Maceo is moved by the scene-

                       MACEO
             Would have liked to been there. I
             mean to hear the cat play, not none
             of the rest of it.

Ty gets up and crosses the room with his drink in his hand,
distraught. This is the end for Ty, no strategies left,
nothing but the bitter taste of total defeat-

                       TY
             Mace, Imonna lose my club.

                       MACEO
             Old Man Toussaint finds out you
             stole his liquor, you like to lose
             more than that-

                       TY
             I got no more cards to play-

                       MACEO
             Maybe if you was to go down, see
             Lucky Hardaway in person-

                       TY
             (angry) I aint kissin up to no
             cokey-nose, conk-headed-

WHAP! He kicks Sonny's guitar case, left sticking out under
a table, and sends it spinning across the floor till it
CRASHES into the bar and flips open. Ty and Maceo stare at
the contents-

                       TY
             What the hell that sposed to be?

Maceo pulls out a home-built SOLID BODY GUITAR, a painted
white rectangle with a complicated PICKUP jury-rigged over
the strings and yards of ELECTRICAL CORD hanging off it-

                       MACEO
             Some kind of guitar.

                       TY
             A guitar has got a hole in it,
             that's where the sound comes from.
             That boy must be bout three bricks
             shy of a load upstairs.

China Doll rushes in, upset-
                                                        76.



                    CHINA DOLL
          They gone and arrest him!

                    TY
          Arrested who?

                    CHINA DOLL
          Sonny. The high Sheriff arrested
          him and sold him over to Judge
          Gatlin.

                    TY
          Who's Sonny?

                    CHINA DOLL
          Sonny that was here yesterday
          morning.

                    TY
          Sonny that got a screw loose is why
          they arrested him. Maceo, make a
          noise on that-

Maceo plucks a string.    Not much of a sound-

                    MACEO
          It's electric-

                    TY
          I plug a chunk of stove wood into
          the wall I get more music out of it
          than that mess gonna make.

                    MACEO
          Naw, man, it don't work unless it's
          hooked up to the juice, see? You
          got the juice, you don't need the
          hollow inside the box, the music
          just runs straight from the strings
          through this wire and comes out-

He dumps the sack Sonny brought out and outs falls a mass of
tubes and wires, also home-modified-

                    MACEO
          -your amplifier. Which is what
          this thing must be.

                    CHINA DOLL
          Sonny said he fix radios in the
          Army.
                                                77.



                    TY
          Sonny didn't do nothin but feed
          bedbugs in anybody's Army, and some
          of em crawled in his head.
          Surprised if that boy got the wit
          to pick cotton. Judge Gatlin
          bought himself a droolin idiot.
          What you want to amplify a damn
          guitar for anyway?

                       CHINA DOLL
          Daddy-

                    TY
          Less you gonna sit over on your
          chair and play them little Charley
          Christian kind of riffs-

                       MACEO
          A sideman-

                    TY
          Sit over there and be all clean and
          polite. Guitar hasn't been up
          front since them old piss and moan
          blues shouters, sit their blind
          asses on the corner hollerin for
          pennies-

                    MACEO
          Old time music-

                    CHINA DOLL
          Daddy, Sonny didn't do nothin to be
          arrested for! He was just lookin
          for work.

                    MACEO
          They hung colored boys for less
          than that, darlin. Least on the
          work gang they feed em, keep their
          strength up.

                    CHINA DOLL
          But he doesn't belong there!

Maceo turns the guitar over in his hands-

                    MACEO
          You know, Guitar Sam plays him an
          electric, but I don't think it's
          this no-hole kind of deal.
                                                          78.



                       TY
             I hope he plugs it in the wrong
             socket some night, lectrocutes his
             sorry no-show ass!

Ty has a thought.    He looks over at the guitar in Maceo's
hands-

                       TY
             (thinking out loud) Now if he did
             show up here-- and our power was to
             go out again while he was playing-

                       MACEO (O.S.)
             I think I fixed it good this time,
             Ty.

Ty smiles-

                       TY
             So he come out and plugs his ax in-

                       MACEO
             He come out lookin good, from what
             I hear. All kind of spangly pants
             and jacket, got his name spelled
             out on the back-

                       TY
             Clothes, right-

                       MACEO
             Hair all slick and shiny, flash
             some gold teeth at them gals, got
             his sax man behind him, maybe a
             piano, harmonica, drums-

                       TY
             You remember that night the lights
             went out in the Esquire Club in
             Mobile?

                       MACEO
             (smiles) And somebody took off
             with the gate? Stole the whole
             damn register off the counter-

                       TY
             They didn't hold it against Reggie
             Porter, did they?
                                                             79.



                         MACEO
               Naw- it was his place that got
               robbed.

                         TY
               Didn't hold it against him, didn't
               expect no money back for the show-

                         MACEO
               They all too busy diving on the pot
               of that tonk game got interrupted-

                         TY
               And nobody suspected it might be
               Reggie Porter hisself that pulled
               them lights, did they?

     Maceo begins to see where Ty is leading-

                         MACEO
               Aw, no, Ty, we can't-

     Ty claps his hands together, jumps up and heads for the door-

                         TY
               China Doll, you mind the place
               while we're gone! (to Maceo) Come
               on, man, we got work to do.

                         CHINA DOLL
               Where you going, Daddy?

                         TY
               I promise the people Guitar Sam,
               they gonna get Guitar Sam!


52   INT. SHERIFF'S OFFICE                                     52
     We start on a portrait of Governor Big Jim Folsom on the
     wall, then TILT DOWN to Sheriff Pugh, feet up on the desk, a
     table-top FAN pointed at him, looking up at Ty-

                         SHERIFF PUGH
               Why you interested in this boy?

                         TY
               Got a job for him.

                         SHERIFF PUGH
               Must be doin pretty good for
               yourself out there, Tyrone, you
               hirin new people on.
                                                80.



                    TY
          Passing well, yeah-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          But this boy-

                    TY
          Name is Sonny-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          He's payin off his debt to society
          right now, and if I was to pull him
          out of the field it would cost the
          county-

                    TY
          Judge Gatlin payin three a day for
          prison labor.

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You gonna pay me four for the
          duration of his sentence?

                    TY
          Which might be- ?

                      SHERIFF PUGH
          -as long as I care to make it.

                    TY
          Well, I was counting on more of a
          one-time deal- if I could just rent
          him out for the weekend-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Fifty dollars.

Ty looks stricken-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          It's not just the money. There's
          legalistic principles involved
          here. Public safety issues-

                    TY
          I pay you Sunday morning?

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You pay me now or you forget about
          it.

                    TY
          I don't have it now.
                                                        81.



                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You think you too smart for the
          rest of us, don't you, Tyrone?
          Think you can go it by yourself.

He puts his feet down and sits forward, drilling Ty with his
eyes-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You'd rather eat roofin nails than
          come to me for a favor-

                    TY
          It's not a favor if I got to pay-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Oh, you gonna pay all right. You
          don't hand me that money Sunday
          mornin, you got yourself a new
          partner. Same deal as I got with
          Toussaint. How'd that be?

Ty considers.   He doesn't have any options-

                      TY
          (deadpan)    You'll get the fifty.

                      SHERIFF PUGH
          (smiles)    And that wife of yours-

                     TY
          (wary)   Delilah-


                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Them fried chicken sandwiches- if
          I was to come by, now and then,
          check up on my interests-

                    TY
          She be happy to fix you whatever
          you want.

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          My wife's cookin would gag a
          maggot.

                    TY
          Different people got different
          kinds of talents.

Sheriff Pugh heaves himself to his feet-
                                                             82.



                         SHERIFF PUGH
               Lurleen aint discovered what hers
               is yet. Let's go fetch that boy.


53   EXT. 2ND COTTON FIELD - DAY - SHOTGUN                        53
     A SHOTGUN in a deputy's arms-


     POV - PICKERS

     Faces dripping sweat, prison gang pickers stoop to their work-


     TY

     Ty stands by his beat-up old Ford at the side of the road,
     watching, remembering.

     A few of the PRISON LABORERS look up, curious, as Sonny is
     led over-

                         DEPUTY
               This the one?

     Ty nods, looks to Sonny-

                         TY
               You got any ideas about turning
               rabbit on me, you best get rid of
               em now.

                         SONNY
               You payin my way out?

                         TY
               Till Monday.

                           SONNY
               How come?

     They get INTO THE CAR-

                         TY
               You like draggin that cotton sack?

                           SONNY
               No.

                         TY
               Then don't ask questions.
                                                                83.



     Ty pulls away, leaving the less fortunate stooped in the
     field-


54   INT. SEWING ROOM - NADINE                                    54
     MUSIC plays on the RADIO as Nadine masterfully works her
     SEWING MACHINE and Maceo stands by uneasily. He holds up the
     denim jacket Sonny left at the club-

                         MACEO
               This size, right, but it's got to
               shine.

                         NADINE
               And when you need this?

                          MACEO
               Tonight.

                         NADINE
               (considers) That's a tall order.

                         MACEO
               It's got to happen.

                         NADINE
               (fishing) You know, I do my best
               work, my fastest work, when I'm
               happy.

                         MACEO
               Yeah, I spose you do-

     Nadine looks up at him from the sewing machine-

                         NADINE
               You gone make me happy, baby?

     Maceo nervously makes for the door-

                         MACEO
               Uhm- you come by the club tonight,
               we havin a special show. Tell em
               at the door you my guest-

                         NADINE
               Food aint the only thing a woman
               needs three times a day.

                         MACEO
               (mutters) Wouldn't hurt you to
               skip a few meals.
                                                             84.



                         NADINE
               What's that, baby?

     Maceo turns at the open door-

                         MACEO
               Boy's gonna need time to try that
               jacket on- see how it feels.
               Later, Nadine-

     He is gone-


55   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - DAY                                   55
     Ty and China Doll stand looking at Sonny as he sits on a bar
     stool-

                         TY
               You got to do somethin with this
               boy's head, darlin. They might not
               know what the real Sam look like,
               but it aint this.

                            CHINA DOLL
               I can try.

     China Doll looks through the beauty products she's piled up
     nearby-

                         SONNY
               And what exactly I'm supposed to
               do?

                         TY
               You gone stand up there with that
               contraption you got an play Guitar
               Sam numbers.

                         SONNY
               Hell, I do that with my eyes
               closed.

                         TY
               We could get the audience to close
               theirs we be better off.

                            MACEO (O.S.)
               Ty-

     Maceo pops his head in the front door-
                                                        85.



                    MACEO
          I tracked Mr. Trenier down-

                    TY
          Let's hit it.

Ty leaves to join Maceo-

                    CHINA DOLL
          Bye, Daddy.

China Doll is a little nervous to be left alone with Sonny.
She puts her comb in her hand and walks around Sonny,
examining his hair while he examines her face-

                    SONNY
          You know what you're doing?

                    CHINA DOLL
          I fix Mama's hair all the time.

                    SONNY
          But you aint been to that school
          yet.

                    CHINA DOLL
          You go to school to learn your
          guitar?

                     SONNY
          (laughs)   No.

China Doll steps behind the bar-

                    CHINA DOLL
          I might pick up some new things at
          beauty school but mostly it's for
          my certificate, and that is `a
          ticket to adventure'- that's what
          it says in the brochure. People
          lookin for beauty all over the
          world.

Sonny sees the LOOSE WIRES that come through the wall behind
the bar. China Doll searches around-

                    SONNY
          You want to watch out for them
          wires sticking down- don't look
          safe.
                                                           86.



                    CHINA DOLL
          (shrugs) Yeah- power's always
          going out, people getting shocks
          and whatnot-

                    SONNY
          Somebody ought to fix it.

She searches under the counter for something-

                    CHINA DOLL
          `A career in beauty is like money
          in the bank.' Says that in the
          brochure too. Plus it isn't
          physically taxin.

                    SONNY
          Yeah, I can't see no pretty thing
          like you behind a plow.

                    CHINA DOLL
          I had the rheumatic fever when I
          was little, left me with a weak
          heart.

                    SONNY
          Oh. Mine been actin funny too-
          since I laid eyes on you.

She acknowledges his flirting with a little smile and comes
up with a MASON JAR full of clear LIQUID-

                    SONNY
          What's that?

                    CHINA DOLL
          Just some ole moonshine they keep
          around.

China Doll crosses back to Sonny-

                    SONNY
          (concerned) What you gonna do with
          it?

                    CHINA DOLL
          They always joke about how this
          stuff'll straighten your hair right
          out-

She twists the lid off, sniffs the liquid, reacts to its
strength-
                                                             87.



                         CHINA DOLL
               Imonna just make yours relax a
               little.


56   INT. PARLOR                                               56
     TIME TRENIER, an older musician with a permanently stoic
     expression, sits watching his pupil, a YOUNG BOY, torture the
     SCALES with a CORNET. He glances up at Ty and Maceo, trying
     not to plug their ears as the boy continues to PLAY-

                         MACEO
               Mr. Time Trenier- that's a name to
               be reckoned with.

     Time doesn't seem to react to the flattery-

                         MACEO
               Story goes that you used to play
               with Buddy Bolden.

                         TIME
               Played with most all of em down
               there.

                         MACEO
               And King Oliver-

                         TIME
               One band falls apart you find
               yourself another one. Never any
               shortage of bands, down New Awlins.

                         TY
               I didn't know you was givin
               lessons.

                         TIME
               Pays the rent.   Almost.

                         TY
               You interested in a playin job?

                         TIME
               Your place?

                         MACEO
               (tentative) It's uhm- backin up a
               man on the electric guitar?
                                                             88.



                       TIME
          (shrugs)     If you can pay, I can
          play.

                    TY
          Got to dress sharp.

No need to say this to Time Trenier.       You could cut yourself
on the creases on his pants-

                    MACEO
          It aint like a all-night thing- you
          just start out and there's gonna
          be a accident-

Ty shoots Maceo a look-

                       TIME
          Accident.

                    TY
          Sudden loss of power.      Lights out.

                    TIME
          (shrugs again)      It's your gig, man.

                    TY
          Eight o'clock. This aint colored
          people time and it sure aint New
          Awlins time. I mean eight o'clock
          on the money.

                    TIME
          If you got the green I'm on the
          scene.

                    TY
          That's a deal then.

                    MACEO
          You know any drummers?

                       TIME
          (nods)     I'll bring you one.

                    TY
          Nothin fancy, he just got to keep
          time-

                    TIME
          Time is my name.

Ty and Maceo wince as the kid hits a particularly SOUR NOTE-
                                                              89.




57   EXT. COUNTRY ROAD, 2ND COTTON FIELD - LATE AFTERNOON        57
     The free pickers are lined up at the side of the road-


     CLOSER

     A white CLERK sits behind a wooden table in front of the
     transport truck and pulls cash from a METAL BOX, consulting a
     thick LEDGER in front of him as he pays the pickers off.
     Sheriff Pugh observes, his patrol car parked nearby.

     Ham has come to the head of the line, Junebug behind him-

                         CLERK
               Twenny-four, twenny-five, twenny-
               six, twenny-seven, twenny-eight.
               Make your mark here-

                          HAM
               (softly)   Owe me thirty.

                         CLERK
               Book says twenny-eight.

                         HAM
               Dollar fifty every hundred pound,
               and I picked-

                         CLERK
               Two dollars deducted for stones.

                         HAM
               I didn't put no stones in the sack.

                         CLERK
               We mill the cotton, there's always
               stones.

                         HAM
               But there wasn't none in my sack-

                         CLERK
               We take off two dollars a week,
               always have. Aint that right,
               Junebug?

     Junebug knows it's useless to complain-

                          JUNEBUG
               Yes suh.   Been that way my whole
               life.
                                                           90.



Ham is furious but has nowhere to go with it-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          You gonna take your pay, son, or
          give it up to charity?

Ham swipes his pay off the table, stalks away.    Sheriff Pugh
glares after him.

We FOLLOW Ham as he crosses to the rear of the truck.    Dex
sits on the tailgate, grinning at him-

                    DEX
          Wouldn't let nobody mess with my
          money like that.

                    HAM
          They took the same two dollars off
          yours.

                    DEX
          Yeah, and you could pave a highway
          with the rocks I threw in that
          mess.

He catches the eye of Lucille, standing nearby-

                    DEX
          You country nigros let the crackers
          run you like dogs-

SNATCH! Ham grabs Dex by the shirt front and yanks him
close, hissing in fury-

                    HAM
          That sheriff wasn't here I'd snap
          your neck, boy.

                    SHERIFF PUGH (O.S.)
          Don't let me stop you.

Ham turns to see Sheriff Pugh standing behind him, a wry
smile on his face-

                     SHERIFF PUGH
          But first you gonna sign that
          ledger like you sposed to. Don't
          want nobody cryin they didn't get
          their due.
                                                               91.




58   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - DAY                                      58
     Ty is repairing the little STAGE with hammer and nails-

                         SONNY (O.S.)
               Mr. Purvis?

                         TY
               (doesn't look up) People call me
               Ty or they call me Pinetop. Mr.
               Pinetop to you.

                         SONNY (O.S.)
               I just wanted to tell you- I
               preciate the opportunity.

     Ty looks up to see Sonny with his hair pressed under a tight
     cap made from an old STOCKING-

                         TY
               Right.

                         SONNY
               I know ever one of Guitar Sam's
               songs- know the chords, know the
               words-

                         TY
               That's fine.

     Sonny begins to stroll around the edge of the club, looking
     at PHOTOS and SHOWBILLS on the walls-

                         SONNY
               China Doll said how you was famous
               once.

     Ty is pleased at his step-daughter's bragging, but doesn't
     show it-

                         TY
               I was known, but I was never what
               you call famous.

                         SONNY
               How'd you get your start?

     Ty sighs, sits back from his work-
                                                         92.



                    TY
          Down in Mobile there was an old
          cathouse professor name of Joe
          Dudlow, had had a stroke on one
          side, curled him all up- but he
          kept on pluggin. I used to come
          out and play his left hand for him.

                    SONNY
          How old you were?

                    TY
          (shrugs) Thirteen, fourteen. This
          one night it was goin hot and heavy
          and Joe just passed, right there at
          the piano, in the middle of Black
          Bottom Stomp. They propped him up
          at the bar, stuck a drink in his
          hand, and told me to keep poundin
          them ivories. (shakes his head)
          There was a meanness hanging over
          them juke joints, there was murder
          in the air. You stopped playin for
          a minute, it come down like a flock
          of crows.

Sonny stops by a poster for the `REGINALD ERSKINE BAND
featuring Tyrone "Pinetop" Purvis'-

                    SONNY
          This is you-

                     TY
          Big band days, on the road. If a
          railroad train run through it, we
          played it.

                    SONNY
          (reading) `Reginald Erskine'.
          Don't believe I ever heard of him-

                    TY
          Big tall light-skin fella out of
          Carolina, said he's part Cherokee.
          Couldn't play nothin, but he waved
          his little stick and had this long
          greasy hair he throw around like
          Cab Calloway.

                    SONNY
          And you were the piano man.
                                                             93.



                         TY
               Piano man, arranger, you name it.

                         SONNY
               That must of been somethin, see the
               country first class.

                         TY
               I don't know about first class, but
               we seen the country.

                         SONNY
               How come you stopped?

                         TY
               (shrugs) Got tired of carrying
               another man's water. Didn't want
               to die in no colored hotel some
               night in Who-Knows-Where Arkansas.

     He bangs the last nail in-

                         TY
               Met Delilah and wanted something of
               my own.

                         SONNY
               Well you don't have nothing to
               worry about, Mr. Pinetop. I won't
               let you down tonight.

     Ty looks at Sonny, considers telling him what the plan is-

                          TY
               No-   I don't spose you will.

     Ty gets up and goes into the back.

     Sonny crosses to the tangle of wires coming out of the wall
     behind the counter and snaking off in every direction. He
     grabs hold of one, thinking-


59   INT. PURVIS HOUSE - KITCHEN                                  59
     Delilah is in her kitchen, HUMMING a GOSPEL SONG to herself,
     apron on as she begins to make a pie. She pulls a METAL
     FLOUR CANNISTER down from the shelf, flips the lid off- about
     half full.

     She starts to scoop flour out from it and something falls out-
     a small CLOTH PURSE. She picks it up to put it aside, then
     frowns at the way it feels. She shakes flour off, unzips it-
                                                             94.



     Nothing inside.


60   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - BACK ROOM                             60
     Maceo loads bottles of beer into the ICEBOX, wincing as the
     sounds of a SCREAMING ARGUMENT blast in from the bar-

                         DELILAH (O.S.)
               How could you do that?

                         TY (O.S.)
               Imonna put that back and double-

                         DELILAH (O.S.)
               You don't go gamblin with my baby's
               money!

                         TY (O.S.)
               I had to send off the advance pay
               or the man don't come and play-

                         DELILAH (O.S.)
               I don't care what you took it for,
               I saved that money up for China
               Doll-

     Delilah bursts through the swinging door into the back room,
     pursued by Ty, trying to explain-

                         DELILAH
               -and you got no business puttin
               your fingers on it!

                          TY
               China Doll don't need any school,
               baby, she could walk into one of
               them shops right this minute and
               get a job!

                         DELILAH
               There's got to be some line you
               won't cross, some thing you won't
               do-

                         TY
               The world starts throwin me breaks,
               woman, maybe I'll catch religion
               and walk the straight and narrow
               like them Bible thumpers you sit up
               with, but till that day, I-
                                                             95.



                         DELILAH
               Reverend Cutlip is right about you!

     WHAM! Delilah slams the back door as she storms out. Ty
     turns and CRACK! kicks an empty crate halfway across the
     floor before stomping out to the bar. Maceo opens a beer
     with the church-key hanging from the icebox handle, takes a
     gulp and sits to ponder this new development-


61   INT. BEDROOM - OPAL - EARLY EVENING                         61
     We hear the revival meeting CHOIR SINGING an upbeat number as
     Opal, dressed for Saturday night, checks herself out in a
     spotted, cracked MIRROR and works on her make-up-

                         CHOIR (V.O.)
               You got to choose
               Got to choose tween the fire and
               the Light


62   EXT. TOWN - LUTHER - EARLY EVENING                          62
     MUSIC CONTINUES. Luther struts around a corner in the black
     section of town, dressed up to party. Behind him we see a
     half-dozen other YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN, all decked out, moving
     toward the railroad tracks-

                           CHOIR (V.O.)
               You   got to choose
               Got   to choose tween the fire and
               the   Light
               All   you sinners
               Got   to choose tween the fire and
               the   Light


63   INT. ARMY BARRACKS - EARLY EVENING                          63
     MUSIC CONTINUES. A trio of BLACK PRIVATES share a mirror,
     spiffing up their uniforms to go out on leave-

                         CHOIR (V.O.)
               No earthly love
               Is gonna make it right!
               You got to choose-
                                                              96.




64   INT. WORKERS HOUSING - EARLY EVENING                       64
     MUSIC CONTINUES. Dex, dressed to go out, pulls a SHOEBOX out
     from under the cot he sits on. He lifts the lid to reveal an
     old .38 PISTOL-

                           CHOIR (V.O.)
               Got   to choose tween the world and
               the   Lord
               You   got to choose
               Got   to choose tween the world and
               the   Lord


65   EXT. WORKERS HOUSING - EARLY EVENING                       65
     MUSIC CONTINUES. We TRACK toward the barracks-like housing
     for itinerant workers as PICKERS come out, cleaned up and
     ready to celebrate-

                         CHOIR (V.O.)
               All you sinners
               Got to choose tween the world and
               the Lord

     Ham walks alone. We see him stuff his ROLL of single dollar
     BILLS into one pocket, tuck a FOLDING KNIFE into the other.
     He passes a telephone pole and we HOLD on the Guitar Sam
     POSTER tacked up on it-

                         CHOIR (V.O.)
               Train is leavin
               Better jump on board!


66   EXT. REVIVAL TENT - EVENING                                66
     Delilah arrives at the revival tent, the CHOIR already
     SINGING-

                         CHOIR
               You got to kneel
               Got to kneel for the Savior and
               pray
               You got to kneel
               Got to kneel for the Savior and
               pray
                                                             97.




67   EXT. HONEYDRIPPER - EVENING                                 67
     MUSIC CONTINUES. The BLUE LIGHTS of the SIGN come on.
     PEOPLE fill the yard in front, heading into the Honeydripper.
     Metalmouth collects COVER CHARGE at the door, MONEY passing
     hands-

                         CHOIR (V.O.)
               All you sinners
               Got to kneel for the Savior and
               pray
               Aint no hidin
               From the Judgement Day!


68   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - EVENING                                 68
     Maybe fifty people are in the club already, mostly LOCALS and
     HARVEST HANDS, with more arriving all the time-

     Ty stands watching the crowd, tense, not at all confident
     that any of his scheme is going to work-

     A group of twenty of the black SOLDIERS from the base step in-

     Maceo comes over and lays a hand on his shoulder-

                         MACEO
               Natives gettin restless.

                         TY
               How we doing?

                         MACEO
               We gonna be full up.   But the food-
               Delilah comin in?

     Ty's expression gives him the answer-

                         TY
               What if I lost her?

                         MACEO
               She won't let you down, Ty-

                         TY
               This aint gonna work, is it?

                         MACEO
               We just got to play it out and see-
                                                             98.



                           DEX
               (calling)    Guitar Sam!

     They look out at the growing crowd.   Ty is grim-

                         TY
               See if you can push another round
               of drinks while I stall em.

                         MACEO
               Then you gonna bring him out?

     Dex is joined by several OTHERS in the club, calling out-

                         DEX AND OTHERS
               Sam! We come to hear the guitar
               man play! Guitar Sam!

                         TY
               You be on those wires. Give him
               three bars and then you pull it.

                         MACEO
               I got a baseball bat under the
               counter, but you out here all alone-

                         TY
               Just get the liquor movin, Mace,
               and keep that money where you can
               run with it.


69   EXT. REVIVAL TENT - NIGHT                                   69
     Reverend Cutlip holds forth under the LANTERN LIGHT-

                          REVEREND CUTLIP
               The Lord don't want nobody to sit
               back suffering! He wants you to
               stand up! He wants you to rise up!
               He wants you to step forward! He
               wants you rush down into the
               merciful arms of His eternal
               salvation!

     Many of the congregation are up on their feet, clapping and
     testifying-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               Is there anyone out here tonight
               gonna answer His call? Is there
               anyone out here tonight gonna come
               forward and be saved?
                                                                99.




     DELILAH

     Delilah is standing, tears running down her cheeks, filled
     with the emotion of the moment-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               The fire is heatin up, Brothers and
               Sisters, and Judgement Day is nigh!
               Aint no time to hesitate, you got
               to come on down and take Him into
               your heart!

     Delilah starts to walk down the aisle-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               That's right- come on down! They
               no turning back now- feel the
               Lord's hand at your back- got to
               leave all them sinners behind!

     Delilah stops in the middle of the aisle, trembling, unsure-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               (sees her) You got a voice in your
               heart, Sister- that's the Lord
               talking! You hear him?

     Delilah starts to nod her head, weeping-

                         REVEREND CUTLIP
               That voice telling you where you
               need to be right now! You just got
               to move your feet and get there!


70   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - BACK ROOM - NIGHT                        70
     China Doll fusses with Sonny's hair after he hangs his
     guitar, dangling with electrical hookups, over his head-

                         CHINA DOLL
               You look good.

     Ty steps back in with them, wiping sweat from his forehead
     with a handkerchief. He looks Sonny over- his hair slick
     and shiny, the outfit Nadine sewed up for him tight and
     sparkling-

                         TY
               (impressed) Damn-
                                                       100.



                    CHINA DOLL
          He looks good, doesn't he Daddy?

                    TY
          Honey, I want you to get right by
          that front door and take over
          collectin the cover charge. And if
          anything should happen- like go
          wrong or something- you just step
          out and walk away from the club,
          hear?

                    CHINA DOLL
          What's gonna go wrong?

                    TY
          Oh- our Guitar Sam here gets them
          soldier boys jumping it could get a
          little rough- just be on your toes,
          that's all.

                    CHINA DOLL
          Okay.

She starts away-

                    TY
          China Doll-

                    CHINA DOLL
          Yeah?

                    TY
          You know there aint a thing in this
          world I wouldn't do for you. Even
          if I mess up sometimes, you know
          that, right?

China Doll looks at him, not sure what brought this on, but
pleased to hear it. The CALLS for Guitar Sam grow LOUDER
from the floor-

                    CHINA DOLL
          I know that, Daddy.

                    TY
          You go on, now.

China Doll exits and Ty looks back to Sonny-

                    TY
          Well, you look like something might
          of come outa New Orleans-
                                                           101.



                         SONNY
               I forget to tell you- I fixed your
               hook-up.

                          TY
               My what?

                         SONNY
               Where the electricity comes in?    It
               was all-

                          MACEO (O.S.)
               Ty!

     They turn to see Maceo stepping in, concerned-

                         MACEO
               We got a situation out there-

                         TY
               You don't think I know that?

                         MACEO
               Got the law in the house.


71   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - BARROOM                              71
     Sheriff Pugh stands near the piano, putting a considerable
     damper on the mood in the room. Ty hurries out to him, with
     a panic-stricken smile on his face-

                         TY
               Didn't think we'd be seeing you so
               soon!

                         SHERIFF PUGH
               (looking around) Got a nice crowd
               in here tonight, Tyrone. See them
               army uniforms-

                         TY
               Yeah, well we got ourselves this
               special attraction, see, and-

                          SHERIFF PUGH
               Chicken.

                          TY
               Huh?
                                                       102.



                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Them ribs outside smell real good,
          but I got my heart set on some of
          your Delilah's fried chicken.

                    TY
          Right-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          She made it last Saturday at the
          mayor's but ole Clayford Gentry was
          up from Eufala and he got the
          drumsticks.

Sheriff Pugh is distracted for a moment as Opal and the girls
from the store step in, dressed to the nines, drinking up the
eyeball action from the pickers and soldiers-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          I'm partial to dark meat.

                    TY
          See, the thing is-

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          She is back there cookin, aint she?
          Our agreement was-

                    TY
          The situation we got, Sheriff, what
          with this special guest come up
          from Louisiana- what it means is-
          uhm-

Ty has nothing, the crowd is starting to CHANT for Guitar Sam
again. He wipes his forehead-

                    TY
          Maybe if you were to come back in-

                    DELILAH
          Regular or spicy?

Delilah is there, smiling at Pugh, pulling her coat off-

                    DELILAH
          They both take the same time to fix
          up, I just got to know which.

Ty and Delilah exchange a long look-
                                                          103.



                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Have to make mine regular. I like
          the spicy fine but it always come
          back to nip me later.

She shoots a look to Ty-

                    DELILAH
          It's important not to bite off more
          than you can chew. (to Pugh) Yall
          just make yourself at home.

She kisses Ty on the cheek and heads for the kitchen-

                    DELILAH
          Good luck tonight, baby.

                    SHERIFF PUGH
          Slap some maynaise on it!

Ty smiles, his nerves all gone now-

                    TY
          (pointing) Might want to wait over
          there, Sheriff. Don't want to
          scare off the customers-

A CHEER from the crowd.    Sonny has wandered uncertainly out
onto the stage!

                     TY
          Oh Lord-

Ty runs up to his microphone, shoots a look to the bar-

Maceo is pouring a scotch with one hand, the other wrapped
around the wires coming out of the wall. He nods to Ty-

Sonny starts to hook his guitar up with a thick COIL OF WIRE,
then into the dented AMP sitting on a wooden chair beside him
and pointed out at the crowd. Metalmouth Sims looks on
uncomfortably. Ty puts on his biggest grin, easing behind
the keyboard-

                    TY
          So here's what you all been waitin
          for, people, the noted performer
          and recordin star-
                                                          104.




ENTRANCE - TIME AND YOUNG HENRY

Time Trenier strolls in with his sax still in its case, hat
on his head, exuding his no-sweat attitude. Beside him is
YOUNG HENRY, a kid who can't be more than 14, wearing a
fedora-

                    TY (O.S.)
          -direct from New Orleans, Louisiana-


STAGE

                    TY
          -Guitar Sam!!!!

A TERRIBLE SQUAWK emits from the amp as Sonny makes the
connection-

Sheriff Pugh cover his ears-

The girls from the store cover their ears, making pained
faces-

Sonny pulls his guitar away from the amp and the SQUAWK
settles to a FUZZY BUZZ. Sonny frowns at the amp-

                     SONNY
          Sorry, folks- must of got kicked on
          the train.

The audience is stone-faced.   Could this really be the man?

Young Henry steps up and sits behind the DRUM KIT, pulling
sticks from inside his shirt-

Ty closes his eyes, begins to shake his head in defeat-

China Doll looks worried, collecting another cover charge at
the door-

Delilah steps out from the kitchen and looks to the stage,
worried-

Sonny holds his arms out wide, shifting his body to get the
BUZZ under control-

Dex leans to talk in Junebug's ear-

                    DEX
          What's this fool playin at?
                                                       105.



Maceo isn't going to wait to find out. He grabs the wires
with both hands, yanks- they hold firm! He looks to the
stage, panicked-

-as Sonny brings his fingers to the strings and the amp
BLASTS the room with a long, trip-hammering, spine-shivering,
ELECTRIC GUITAR INTRO!

Ty stands at the piano with his mouth hanging open-

Sonny WHOOPS and leans into his microphone-

                    SONNY
          Gonna hold may baby as tight as I
          can
          Tonight she'll know I'm a mighty
          man!
          Have you heard the news?
          There's good rockin tonight!

Sonny looks over to Ty, who catches himself and begins to
play along. Young Henry is impassive as he plays a fast
shuffle on the skins-

Ty looks over to Maceo, half-climbing the wall as he tries to
pull the wires out. Maceo sees Ty, who waves him off-

                    SONNY
          Have you heard the news?
          There's good rockin tonight!

Delilah smiles and presses her hands together, shooting a
look upward-

                    DELILAH
          Thank you, Jesus.

Time Trenier has his case open now, the gleaming instrument
in one hand, squinting at the mouthpiece as he holds it up to
the light with the other-

                    SONNY
          Meet me at midnight behind the barn
          Don't you worry I'll do you no harm

The crowd is already CLAPPING and STOMPING in time with the
song. Henry starts to hit the two and the four beat hard to
keep time-

                    SONNY
          Make sure to bring my rockin shoes
          Tonight I'm gonna rock away all of
          my blues!
                                                            106.



     Time Trenier screws the mouthpiece on, puts his horn to his
     lips and BLOWS right on the beat to take the sax break,
     walking through the parting crowd to the bandstand!

     Junebug grabs Opal's hand and they begin to DANCE a modified
     jitterbug, people spreading to give them room-

     Sheriff Pugh, hands still over his ears, sits in a corner
     paying special attention to Opal's hip action-

     As Time continues to blow, stepping up onto the stage, Sonny
     keeps urging Metalmouth Sims to come closer to his microphone
     with the harmonica. Sims is hesitant but Sonny keeps waving-
     closer, closer-

     Metalmouth shoots a nervous look to Ty, who nods from the
     piano, so he butts his harp smack against the microphone,
     takes a deep breath and HONKS his soul out, grabbing the
     break from Time!

     The audience goes wild, a half-dozen couples dancing now,
     others clapping and finger-popping and jumping to the beat
     where they stand. Sonny shakes out the long CORD attached to
     his guitar-

     China Doll is trying to keep collecting from the new
     CUSTOMERS pressing in the door and dance at the same time,
     thrilled by the music. Lonnie and Scratch sneak in behind
     her as she turns toward the bandstand-

     Metalmouth wraps up his break and Sonny takes over with the
     guitar again, making it WAIL as he hops off the stage, steps
     up on a chair, then onto the bar counter!

     He walks the length of the bar, playing his ass off, hops
     down at the far end, grins at China Doll and heads out
     through the door, dragging extension cord behind! Lonnie and
     Scratch hurry to pull slack for him as he steps out into the
     NIGHT-


72   EXT. ACE OF SPADES - NIGHT                                   72
     Ham and a few other pickers stand outside Toussaint's, beers
     in hand, staring across toward the Honeydripper as Sonny
     steps out PLAYING with a CROWD behind him-

                         HAM
               What the hell is that?

     Sonny steps out into the middle of the crossroads and plays,
     a CAR stopping short of running him over.
                                                            107.


     He hops up on the hood and keeps playing, a TRUCK from the
     other direction stopping to blast him with its HEADLIGHTS.

     Sonny indicates with his guitar neck to the CROWD emptying
     out of Toussaint's that he wants them to follow, then hops
     down onto a big picker's back and is carried back in to the
     Honeydripper, still playing-

                         HAM
               We got to check that out!

     A couple dozen patrons move away with him. We HOLD on the
     doorway as OLD MAN TOUSSAINT comes out to look, puzzled and
     angry-


73   INT. HONEYDRIPPER - NIGHT                                    73
     Time and Metalmouth SING into the same microphone as Sonny
     plays his way back up to the stage-

                         TIME AND METALMOUTH
               Have you heard the news?
               There's good rockin tonight-
               Have you heard the news?
               There's good rockin tonight-

     We FOLLOW as Maceo hustles back and forth, trying to keep up
     with orders for ribs, bring cold beers out from the icebox,
     etc. He suddenly stops in his tracks-

     Nadine stands before him, looking fatally sexy in a SATIN
     DRESS she no doubt made herself.

                         MACEO
               Oh my soul.

                         NADINE
               Don't tire yourself out, Poppa.
               You an me got bidness together.

                         MACEO
               I believe we do.

     He hurries past with his arms full of beer, pivoting to check
     her out from another angle-

     Dex sees across the room, frowns-

     Ham is talking to Lucille at the bar, leaning in close to be
     heard over the music-
                                                          108.



                    SONNY
          I heard the news-
          There's good rockin tonight!

Sonny finishes with a squawking chord and the joint goes wild-
CHEERING, WHISTLING, STOMPING!

                    SONNY
          Alla you men grab hold of a woman!
          You can't find a woman, just grab
          hold of yourselves- we gonna play
          this one slow and tight.

Sonny goes into the intro for Louis Jordan's Blue Light
Boogie. Time lays down a steady rock beat with his sax and
Ty joins in at the piano-

                        SONNY
          They   did   the boogie real   slow
          With   the   blue lights way   down low
          They   did   the boogie real   slow
          With   the   blue lights way   down low

Ty joins him-

                    SONNY AND TY
          They did the boogie real slow
          With the blue lights way down low

Ty takes the verse-

                    TY
          I went to a party
          With a bobby sox
          I started swingin
          All she would do was rock

As they join in the chorus, Ty sees-

Cool Breeze, strolling in, checking out the action with a
proprietary air.

Ty looks to Maceo, getting back behind the bar.     Maceo sees
as well, tightening up-

Cool Breeze nods to Ty.

A slow, sexy SAX BREAK comes up and Ty leaves the piano to
cross to the bar. When he gets there Maceo is already
counting out a huge pile of BILLS-
                                                          109.



                    MACEO
          Hundred forty-two, forty-three,
          forty-four, five, six, seven,
          eight, nine- hundred fifty. And
          they's another fifty in here-

Maceo thunks a heavy CLOTH SACK full of change onto the
countertop-

                    MACEO
          Lucky Hardaway don't mind some
          change, does he?

Cool Breeze doesn't even glance at the money, hard-eying Ty
instead-

                    COOL BREEZE
          What if Mr. Hardaway was to say let
          the chumps keep their change, he
          wants the club back one way or the
          other?

Maceo looks to Ty, who remains impassive, mind working-

                    COOL BREEZE
          How'd that be?

                    TY
          Well- he'd have to take it up with
          my bidness partner.

Ty shifts and we RACK FOCUS to see across the room to Sheriff
Pugh, receiving his sack of chicken and white bread from
Delilah. Ty smiles and waves-

Cool Breeze reconsiders his terms-

                    COOL BREEZE
          That sheriff your partner?

                    TY
          (sighs) Yeah, and he's twice as
          mean as he is ugly.

Cool Breeze grins, scoops up the bills on the counter-

                    COOL BREEZE
          You must want this club awful bad,
          brother.

Cool Breeze hefts the sack of change, shoots a look to the
stage and leans over to speak into Ty's ear-
                                                        110.



                    COOL BREEZE
          You maybe know this already, but
          that aint no Guitar Sam.

He steps away just as the song ends to APPLAUSE, Ty taking a
deep sigh of relief. Sonny steps up to the microphone to
introduce the next song-

                    TOUSSAINT (O.S.)
          You is a lie!

A shocked silence.

The audience makes way for Old Man Toussaint to come
tottering up to the foot of the stage. He points a bony
finger at Sonny-

                    TOUSSAINT
          You is a lie, boy! I known Sammy
          since he's drinkin mama's milk,
          hell, I known his Mama herself when
          she live up to Plaquemine- and you
          aint him!

The audience looks to Sonny for his defense-

Ty holds his breath.   Maceo brings the baseball bat up from
behind the bar.

Sonny just smiles-

                    SONNY
          That's Creole Guitar Sam you talkin
          bout, Pops. I'm Delta Guitar Sam.

Toussaint ponders this a moment, then huffs-

                    TOUSSAINT
          As long as we straight on that.

                    JUNEBUG
          Get on outa there and let the man
          play!

A CHORUS of CRIES to the same effect, and Sonny crosses back
to his microphone-

                    SONNY
          Imonna play you one I come up with
          today while I was havin my hair cut-

He starts into a bouncy INTRO that Metalmouth joins in with,
then starts to SING as the crowd starts to dance and clap-
                                                       111.



                    SONNY
          Oh China Doll
          Can't get you offa my mind!
          Oh China Doll
          I can't get you offa my mind!
          If you be my baby
          Gonna leave all them others behind!

The front row is all girls goggling at Sonny, instant
groupies- but we RACK to China Doll, transfixed, as she is
drawn toward the stage-

                    SONNY
          Oh China Doll
          Think about you day and night!
          Oh China Doll
          I think about you day and night!
          Can't forget you baby
          Oh when you gonna treat me right?

Time Trenier steps in for a growling SAX BREAK-


TY

Ty looks around the crowded, rocking room-


POV - SHERIFF PUGH

The Sheriff makes his way through the crowd and out the door.
The last person he passes turns toward Ty-

Possum?

But then DANCERS cross in front and he is gone.


TY

Ty frowns, troubled. Under the sax now we hear a dissonant
SLIDE GUITAR, the haunting notes Possum was playing at the
train station. Ty searches the crowd-


POV

The SLIDE GUITAR continues underneath as we PAN across the
crowd dancing-

There's Possum again, at the bar, face turned toward Ty.
                                                              112.




     TY

     We TIGHTEN on TY.   Why is he here?


     POV - POSSUM

     Possum turns his head slowly, fixes on something, and we PAN
     to see Dex and Ham standing toe-to-toe, snarling into each
     other's face.

     We PUNCH IN tighter and tighter on the young men, body
     language telling us a fight is about to break out-


     ECU TY

     Ty desperately pushes his way across the crowded floor to
     reach them and the FLASHBACKS come again, the SAX MUSIC
     growing echoey and menacing-


     INT. BAR - NIGHT - FLASHBACK
74                                                               74
     The shaky perspective and over-saturated colors again, tight
     on the men struggling, the Girl cowering, then Young Tyrone
     twisting the Guitar Man's wrist and thrusting, again and
     again, hugging close to him, then pulled away and the-

     -KNIFE falls to the floor, BLOODY, and the-

     -Guitar Man falls to his hands and knees, his stomach a
     bloody mess, crawling on all fours and HOWLING and Young
     Tyrone watching in horror as he is held back by many arms and
     the Girl SCREAMING-


     INT. HONEYDRIPPER - NIGHT - (PRESENT)
75                                                               75
     -which becomes Time BLOWING HIS SAX into the microphone-

     -and Dex reaches for his pistol-

     -and Ham reaches for his knife, but-

     -a huge, strong hand clamps down on Dex's wrist-

     -and another huge hand grabs Ham's wrist!

     Ty is there, clamping onto them with a grip of iron.
                                                        113.



A lighter, bouncier ELECTRIC GUITAR RIFF has replaced the sax
now. Ty looks deep into the eyes of the two surprised
pickers-

                    TY
          Yall in my house, here, gentlemen.
          Don't have no fightin, don't have
          no killin, don't have none of that
          dismal nonsense in my house.
          Understand? What's your name son?

Dex is shaken by the strength of the grip on his arm-

                    DEX
          Dex- Dexter Moncrief.

                       TY
          And you?

                    HAM
          Hamilton Drinkwater.

                    TY
          Well, gentlemen, this is the night
          there won't be no pitiful song
          written bout you two killin each
          other. Don't nothin rhyme with
          `Moncrief' anyhow.

Maceo is there now, holding a cardboard BOX in one hand and
the BASEBALL BAT in the other-

                    MACEO
          Got a problem here?

                    TY
          These young men seem to brought
          something in for our collection.

                     MACEO
          (to Dex)   Yours first.

Ty gently takes the pistol from Dex, regards it grimly before
laying it in the box. He turns his attention to Ham-

                       TY
          Now yours.

He takes the knife from Ham, tosses it in the box-

                    TY
          Yall still need to mess with each
          other, you go outside and do it.
                                                               114.



     Ty lets go of their wrists-

                         TY
               This world is full of people got no
               use for us, like to see us in the
               grave. We don't need to give em
               any help.

     The two give each other a final dirty look and move away into
     opposite corners-


     STAGE

     Sonny keeps playing-

                         SONNY
               Oh China Doll
               Got to let you into my heart!
               Oh China Doll
               Got to let you into my heart!
               I surrender darlin
               I loved you from the very start!

     Ty rushes to the piano, joins in jamming with the other
     players-


76   EXT. CEMETERY - NIGHT                                         76
     Slick sits on a tomb, drinking wine, MOONLIGHT spilling over
     Bertha Mae's fresh-dug GRAVE. He listens to the MUSIC in the
     far distance-

                         SLICK
               Sound like the music movin on
               again, darlin. The way it always
               do.

     He listens for another moment, sighs-

                          SLICK
               Time to make room for whoever comin
               next.

                                                  FADE TO BLACK.
                                                            115.




77   EXT. HONEYDRIPPER - MORNING                                  77
     The SUN RISES next to the Honeydripper sign. We hear the
     CROW of a distant ROOSTER. The parking lot is empty but for
     Ty's old Ford-

     Ty, exhausted but happy, steps out front. He pastes a SNIPE
     that says HELD OVER! across the Guitar Sam poster-

                         POSSUM (O.S.)
               That boy can play some.

     Ty turns. Possum is on the road, guitar strung over his
     shoulder, feeling his way with a red-tipped CANE.

                         TY
               You leavin?

                         POSSUM
               Aint needed round here no more.

                         TY
               Where you headed?

                            POSSUM
               (smiles)     Oh-- down the road.

     Ty watches the blind man move away for a moment.

                            MACEO (O.S.)
               Tyrone-

     Ty turns as Maceo steps out, equally tired and unshaven-

                         MACEO
               Who you talkin to out here?

     Maceo looks down the road, but Possum is nowhere to be seen.
     Ty shrugs-

                         TY
               Just myself.


78   EXT. SHARECROPPER SHACK - EARLY MORNING                      78
     Scratch and Lonnie are set to pretend to play music again.
     Lonnie spreads his fingers over the keys he's drawn on the
     board-

     -and begins to PLAY!    Fast, rhythmic boogie piano-
                                                       116.



  Instead of a Diddley bow, Scratch is pretending to tune the
  two strings on a `guitar' made of a plank of wood and baling
  wire. He carefully takes a length of clothesline rope
  leading from the guitar, tacks the end of it to the wall of
  the shack, plugging himself in. He looks to Lonnie, who
  nods, and then-

  -he begins to PLAY in time with Lonnie.

  We CRANE UP and away from them, the MUSIC spilling out over
  the field-

  It sounds a whole lot like rock and roll.


                             THE END