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The Sweet Hereafter Movie Script

Writer(s) : Russel Banks, Atom Egoyan

Genres : Drama

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                                THE SWEET HEREAFTER

                                         By

                                    Atom Egoyan







                               Based on the novel by

                                   Russell Banks













                                                     Final revised draft
                                           Copyright c1997 Ego Film Arts
                                                     All Rights Reserved
 






	FADE IN

	INT. SUMMER COTTAGE -- DAY

	A young family together in bed.  It is a bright summer
	morning.  Father, mother, and a three year old girl are
	still asleep.  They are naked.  A light breeze drifts into
	the room.  The scene is serene and softly suspended.

	Head credits appear over this idyllic image.  The little
	girl turns in her sleep.  A dog barks outside.

							  CUT TO

	INT./EXT.  CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	From the peaceful tableau of the sleeping family, the scene
	shifts to a vehicle entering a car wash.  The image is shot
	through the windshield, from the driver's point of view.

	The car enters the lathered world of spinning felt wheels
	and gushing water.

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	Inside the car MITCHELL STEPHENS, a man in his mid-fifties,
	listens to a stirring piece of music.  The sound of the car
	wash is filtered out by the strains of music.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

	The phone booth is located in a rundown area of a large
	city.  A young woman, ZOE, enters the booth and lifts the
	receiver.

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL STEPHENS is going through the wash.  The automatic
	mops and buffers embrace his car with water and suds.  The
	cellular phone in the car rings.  MITCHELL picks it up.

				MITCHELL
		Yes?  Yes, I'll accept the charges.

							  CUT TO

	INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT
 






	ZOE is on the phone.  There's a figure outside the booth
	waiting for her.

				ZOE
		Daddy, it's me...How are you doing?
		That's great...Where are you?
		What's that sound?

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL in his car, playing with the volume on his radio.

				MITCHELL
		I'm in a car wash.

							  CUT TO

	INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

				ZOE
		A car wash!  Wow, I've never talked
		to you when you've been in a car
		wash.  Make sure you've got the
		windows closed.

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

				ZOE
				(over the phone)
		Remember that time we were having
		the car washed and I started playing
		with the automatic window?  How old
		was I, Daddy?  Five or six?  I got
		absolutely soaked, remember?

				MITCHELL
		Why are you calling me, Zoe?

							  CUT TO

	INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

				ZOE
		Why am I calling you?  You're my
		father.  I'm not supposed to call
		you?  What's the matter with wanting
		to talk to you, Daddy?

							  CUT TO
 






	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

				MITCHELL
		Nothing's wrong with trying to talk
		to me, Zoe.

				ZOE
				(over the phone)
		So what's the problem?

				MITCHELL
		The problem is I have no idea who
		I'm talking to right now.

				ZOE
				(over the phone)
		'Cause you think I'm stoned, Daddy?
		'Cause you think I've got a needle
		stuck in my arm?  Is that what
		you're thinking, Daddy?

	Pause.  MITCHELL doesn't respond.

							  CUT TO

	INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

				ZOE
		Are you wondering if I scored,
		Daddy, and I'm calling you for
		money?  That I'm begging?  God, I
		don't fucking believe it!

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL is emotionally stunned by ZOE'S voice.  She is
	heard over the phone.

				ZOE
				(over the phone)
		Daddy!  Are you listening to me,
		Daddy?!

	The music that MITCHELL has been listening to becomes louder
	as he stares at the spinning felt wheels of the car wash.

				ZOE (CONT'D)
		DADDY!!!

				MITCHELL
		Yes.
 






				ZOE
		Why can't you talk to me?

				MITCHELL
		I...I just need to know what state
		you're in so I know...how to talk to
		you...how to act...

	MITCHELL is in pain.  He closes his eyes.

							  CUT TO

	INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

	The phone booth is deserted.  ZOE is nowhere to be seen.

	Over this image, the sounds of a band playing a blues
	number.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. FAIRGROUND -- DAY

	The blues number continues as the camera cranes down to the
	bandstand of a country fair.  A local band is rehearsing.

	Around the practising band, various carpenters and
	technicians are making final preparations for that evening's
	big event.

	One of the people watching the band is SAM BURNELL, a man in
	his early forties.  He watches his daughter, NICOLE, as she
	sings into the microphone.  NICOLE is sixteen.

	NICOLE stares at her father as she sings.

	ANGLE ON

	SAM looking back at his daughter.  He is intensely proud of
	her.  SAM is a carpenter, working on at the fair site.  He
	gets back to his work, hammering a supporting beam into the
	grandstand.

							 CUT TO

	INT. AIRPORT. WASHROOM -- AFTERNOON

	CLOSE UP of a three year old girl, staring up into the lens.
	Her face is full of sweetness and trust.

	ANGLE ON
 






	MITCHELL STEPHENS in a crowded airport washroom, watching a
	young father, PETER, trying to change the diaper on his
	three year old daughter.

	MITCHELL stares at the little girl, his face registering a
	wistful smile.  PETER is having a hard time trying to find
	the towel from the toddler's bag and keeping an eye on her
	at the same time.

				MITCHELL
		Need a hand?

				PETER
		Sure, it you could find a towel in
		this bag.  I know my wife packed one
		in there...

	MITCHELL comes forward and searches through the toddler's
	bag.

				MITCHELL
		You always think you're prepared for
		these things.

				PETER
		Tell me about it.

				MITCHELL
		How old is she?

				PETER
		Almost three.

				MITCHELL
				(finding a towel)
		Is this it?

				PETER
		Perfect.

				MITCHELL
		Here we go.

				PETER
		Thanks.

	PETER lays the towel across the counter, and dries the
	little girl.  MITCHELL watches as PETER puts a new diaper on
	her.  The toddler stares up at MITCHELL, her eyes are
	playful.

	MITCHELL stares at the girl's face.

							  CUT TO
 







	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	TIME CUT back to MITCHELL honking the horn of his car,
	trying to get someone's attention.  No response.  MITCHELL
	picks up his cell phone, and dials the operator.

				MITCHELL
		Yes, operator, I'm in a strange
		situation.  I'm calling from my car,
		and I appear to be stuck in a car
		wash...A car wash, yes...Is there
		anyway you
		could...Hello?...Hello?...

	The line has died.

	MITCHELL searches for an umbrella, finds one, and tries to
	get out of the car without getting soaked.

	ANGLE ON

	MITCHELL as he leaves the car, trying to protect himself
	from the onslaught of water with his umbrella.  He is
	immediately soaked by a large mop.  The camera watches
	MITCHELL as he makes his way towards light at the end of the
	wash.

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL walks into the office of the car wash.  No one is
	there.  There is an ominous buzz coming from another room.

	MITCHELL moves towards the garage of the car wash/auto
	repair establishment.  He moves into a larger room, full of
	discarded auto parts.  The buzzing noise is coming from an
	electric guitar, which has been left on, and is on the verge
	of screeching feedback.

	Someone was just here.  They are nowhere to be seen.

				MITCHELL
		Hello?

	No response.  MITCHELL picks up the guitar, which begins to
	produce a terrifying electronic feedback.

							 CUT TO

	EXT. FAIRGROUND -- DAY
 






	SAM and NICOLE wander through the fairground.  Various rides
	and concession stands are being set up.  SAM has his arm
	around NICOLE.

				SAM
		That was great.

				NICOLE
		Really?

				SAM
		You're going to blow everyone away.

				NICOLE
		You mean it?

				SAM
		Of course.

				NICOLE
		You don't sound like one hundred
		percent absolutely sure.

				SAM
		I am.  Really.  It was awesome.

	NICOLE assesses SAM.  Sensing his sincerity, she throws her
	arms around him in a gesture of unabashed excitement.

				NICOLE
		I'm so happy, Daddy.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- DUSK

	MITCHELL STEPHEN'S car pulls into the parking lot of this
	run-down roadside motel.  In the fading light, a magnificent
	mountain range is seen in the background.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- EVENING

	MITCHELL enters the reception area, and rings a bell on the
	desk.  After a few moments RISA WALKER appears.  She is an
	exhausted looking woman in her mid-thirties, once attractive
	but very run-down.  RISA stares at MITCHELL'S soaked
	clothes.

				MITCHELL
		Hello.

				RISA
 






		Is it raining outside?

				MITCHELL
		No, I...had an accident.

	Pause.  RISA stares at MITCHELL, her expression somewhere
	else.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		Do you have a room?

				RISA
		Will you be spending more than a
		night?

				MITCHELL
		Hard to say.  I might have...some
		business here.

	A voice is heard from the darkness beyond the desk.

				WENDELL
		Are you a reporter?

				MITCHELL
		No.

	WENDELL WALKER, RISA'S husband, appears from the darkness.

				WENDELL
		You here about the accident?

	MITCHELL stares at WENDELL'S haunted eyes, then looks back
	at RISA.  He immediately knows their story.

				MITCHELL
		Yes.  I'm a lawyer.  I realize this
		is an awful time, but it's important
		that we talk.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. FAIRGROUND -- DAY

	A group of men are setting up the ferris wheel for the
	country fair.  SAM and NICOLE walk into the shot, eating ice
	cream cones.  SAM waves at someone he recognizes in the
	distance.

				SAM
		Let's sit down.

	NICOLE nods, her mind elsewhere.
 






							  CUT TO

	EXT. FAIRGROUND -- DAY

	SAM and NICOLE are sitting at an outside table, finishing
	their cones.

	A school bus pulls up into the fairground.  NICOLE watches
	as young children spill out of the bus and gather outside.

	NICOLE smiles at this scene.  SAM notices, turns around to
	see the children, then turns back to NICOLE.

				SAM
		What's so funny?

				NICOLE
		Just the way Dolores gets so excited
		about bringing the kids to check out
		the animals.  It's like the biggest
		thing in her life.

	ANGLE ON

	DOLORES DRISCOLL, a warm and cheery woman in her forties,
	leading the young children into the large exhibition barn on
	the fair site.

				DOLORES
		Alright, kids.  I want you all to
		listen to me.  Rule number one  No
		one is allowed to stick their
		fingers into the cages.  I don't
		care how cute some of these animals
		may be, the fact is they don't like
		being here, no matter how many
		ribbons some of them have won...

							  CUT TO

	INT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- EVENING

	MITCHELL STEPHENS is having a meeting with WENDELL and RISA
	WALKER in their livingroom behind the reception area.
	MITCHELL has a pad of paper and is taking notes.

				WENDELL
		Kyle Lambston's a drunk.  Nobody
		likes him.  He's a nasty piece of
		work.

				MITCHELL
		In what way?
 






				WENDELL
		Been drinking since high school.
		Fucked himself up.  Used to be smart
		enough.

				MITCHELL
		Any criminal record?

				WENDELL
		Probably half a dozen traffic
		convictions.  Drunk driving.  Lost
		his licence.  That's why he don't
		work no more.

				WENDELL
		Can't get off that shitty dump they
		live on.  What little money comes in
		goes to booze.

				MITCHELL
		How does the family survive?

				WENDELL
		Don't know.  Food banks, welfare,
		church charity.  They scrape by.

	MITCHELL looks at RISA, who has remained silent.

				MITCHELL
		What about Doreen?

				RISA
		She...she was a friend of mine.

				MITCHELL
		When?

				RISA
		At school.  She fell for Kyle just
		before we graduated.  Got pregnant,
		and...went to live in a trailer up
		on a woodlot Kyle's dad used to own.
		Kyle started spending more and more
		time at the Spread Eagle...

				MITCHELL
		That's the local bar?

				RISA
				(nodding)
		...coming home drunk and I guess
		feeling trapped by his life and
		blaming her for that...and...
 






	RISA hesitates.

				WENDELL
		Taking it out on her.

	MITCHELL stops taking notes, and looks at the WALKERS.

				MITCHELL
		He beat her?

	RISA nods.  MITCHELL crosses the LAMBSTONS off of his list.
	He looks up at RISA and WENDELL.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		You see, to do this right, to
		actually have a chance at winning -
		of getting some money to compensate
		you for the loss of your boy - we
		need folks like you.  Sensitive,
		loving parents.  People with no
		criminal background or history of
		trouble in town.  Do you understand?

	The WALKERS nod.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		Now, of all these parents you've
		told me about whose kids were
		killed, who would you consider to be
		good upstanding neighbors?

	RISA stares hard at MITCHELL.

				RISA
		What do you mean?

				MITCHELL
		People who will help our cause.

	Pause.

				RISA
		Well, there's the Hamiltons.  Joe
		and Shelly Hamilton.

				WENDELL
				(caustically)
		Yeah, right.

	Beat.  MITCHELL looks at WENDELL, waiting for an
	explanation.

				WENDELL (CONT'D)
 






		I mean, everyone knows Joey steals
		antiques from summer cottages.
		Resells them to dealers in the city.
		He's been doing that for years.

	MITCHELL regards WENDELL with a slight smile of admiration.

				MITCHELL
		That's great, Wendell.  That's the
		sort of thing I need to know.  So it
		doesn't come back to haunt our case
		later on.

				RISA
		There's the Prescots...

				WENDELL
		That sonofabitch owes thousands to
		the bank and half the businesses in
		town.  He's about to lose his house
		and car.

				RISA
		But Charlene...

				WENDELL
		Charlene's over at the Spread Eagle
		every other night.  Sleeps with
		whatever she can get her hands on.
		She'll go down for a pat on the head
		and a fistful of peanuts.

	MITCHELL is taking notes.

				WENDELL (CONT'D)
		Don't even think of the Bilodeaus or
		the Atwaters.  They're all inbred.

				RISA
		The Ottos.

	Pause.  MITCHELL waits.  No response from WENDELL.

				MITCHELL
		Tell me about the Ottos.

				RISA
		Wanda and Hartley.  They lost Bear.
		He was their adopted son.  A
		beautiful boy.  Indian.

				MITCHELL
		Indian?
 






				RISA
		Yes.

				MITCHELL
		That's good.  Judges like adopted
		Indian boys.  Tell me more about the
		Ottos.

	As RISA talks, MITCHELL takes notes.

				RISA
		They're smart.  Been to college.
		They moved here from the city about
		a dozen years ago.

				MITCHELL
		What do they do?

				RISA
		Crafts.

				MITCHELL
		Crafts?

				RISA
		Wanda does these photographic
		things.  That's one of her pictures
		on the wall.

				WENDELL
		Yeah, well, they probably smoke
		weed.

				RISA
		You don't know that.

				MITCHELL
		Have they ever been busted?

				RISA
		No.

				WENDELL
		You don't know is what you mean.

	MITCHELL regards the tension between RISA and WENDELL as he
	continues to make notes.

	MITCHELL'S cell phone rings.  He answers it.

				MITCHELL
		Yes, I'll accept the charges.

	MITCHELL stands up.
 







				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		Do you mind if I step outside for a
		moment?  It's a private call.

	The WALKERS nod as MITCHELL moves outside.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- DUSK

	MITCHELL speaks into his cellular phone.

				MITCHELL
		Zoe...Zoe, where are you?

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- DAY

	A newscaster is giving a report on the television screen of
	a first class airplane cabin.  The image is silent.

	This scene takes place two years after the accident.

	MITCHELL STEPHENS is playing with his headset, which doesn't
	seem to be working.  He summons a STEWARDESS over.

				MITCHELL
		I'm not getting any sound.

	The STEWARDESS checks the headset and confirms the problem.

				STEWARDESS
		I'll find you another pair.

	The STEWARDESS leaves.

	A young woman seated beside MITCHELL hands him her headset.

				ALISON
		You can have mine.

	MITCHELL takes ALISON'S headset.  Their eyes lock for a
	moment.

				ALISON (CONT'D)
		Yes, we do know each other.  I'm
		Alison Jones.

				MITCHELL
		Alison Jones.

				ALISON
 






		I was a friend of Zoe's.  We went to
		school together.  I used to come to
		your house.

				MITCHELL
				(pretending to
				remember)
		Yes.

				ALISON
		Ally.  That was my nickname.

				MITCHELL
		Ally.  That's right.

				ALISON
		How are you?

				MITCHELL
		I'm just fine, Ally.  What about
		you?

				ALISON
		I'm fine.  Still working with my
		father.

				MITCHELL
		And what does he do again?

				ALISON
		He used to work with you.  Until you
		found out he was having an affair
		with your wife.

	Pause.  MITCHELL finally remembers ALISON JONES.

				MITCHELL
		Ally Jones.

				ALISON
		How is Mrs. Stephens?

				MITCHELL
		We're...not together.

				ALISON
		I'd heard that.  But she's well?

				MITCHELL
		Yes...fine.

				ALISON
		And Zoe?  How's Zoe?
 






	Pause.  The STEWARDESS comes back with a new headset.  She
	notices the set that ALISON has given him.

				STEWARDESS
		Oh, you've beaten me to it.

	The STEWARDESS hands the headset to ALISON.

				STEWARDESS (CONT'D)
		Here.

	The camera has remained fixed on MITCHELL'S face.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. ROADSIDE -- MORNING

	WANDA and HARTLEY OTTO are waiting for the school bus with
	their adopted son BEAR.

	The bus arrives, and the door opens to reveal DOLORES
	DRISCOLL, who is driving.

				DOLORES
		Good morning, Wanda.  Hi, Hartley.

				WANDA
		Hi, Dolores.

	DOLORES watches as WANDA and HARTLEY OTTO affectionately say
	goodbye to their boy.  WANDA gives BEAR a photograph, which
	has strong psychedelic influences.  BEAR shows it proudly to
	DOLORES.

				WANDA (CONT'D)
		What do you think?

				DOLORES
		Well, it's certainly what you'd call
		interesting.

				WANDA
				(laughing)
		You hate it.

				DOLORES
		I didn't say that.

				WANDA
		I could wrap it up.  Protect the
		other kids.

				DOLORES
		I'll just strap it on the roof.
 







				WANDA
		It's for the school bazaar.

				DOLORES
		Oh, it's bizarre alright.  C'mon
		Bear.  Let's get you out of here.

				WANDA
		Away from your crazy Mom.

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		The Ottos always waited for the bus
		with Bear.  They were the only
		parents who did that, together like
		that.  I guess they're what you
		might call hippies.

				MITCHELL
				(voice over)
		What do you mean by that, Mrs.
		Driscoll?

							  CUT TO

	INT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	DOLORES and MITCHELL are in the modest livingroom of
	DOLORES'S house.  The conversation continues from the
	previous voice over.

	In the corner of the room sits ABBOTT, DOLORES'S husband.
	ABBOTT has suffered a massive stroke, and seems to be
	completely paralyzed.  His presence, however, is intense and
	powerful.

	MITCHELL frequently looks over to ABBOTT during his
	conversations with DOLORES.  ABBOTT is always watching him
	like a hawk, making MITCHELL uneasy.

				DOLORES
		Dolores.  No one calls me 'Mrs.
		Driscoll'.

				MITCHELL
		What do you mean by that, Dolores?

				DOLORES
		About the Ottos?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.  What do you mean by 'hippies'?
 






				DOLORES
		I mean, the way they look.  Their
		hair and clothing...

				MITCHELL
		Do they have any reputation for
		drugs?

				DOLORES
		No, nothing like that.  The Ottos
		are what I'd call model citizens.
		They're regular at town meetings.
		They give their opinions  in a
		respectful way.  They always help
		out at various fund-raising bazaars
		in town , though they aren't church
		goers.

				MITCHELL
		And they loved Bear.

				DOLORES
		Oh yes.  Like I said, they always
		came out together to see him off to
		school.  It's like he was their
		little treasure.  He was such a
		beautiful boy.  That's a picture of
		him on the wall there, behind
		Abbott.

	MITCHELL turns around to find the picture of BEAR.

	It is right behind ABBOTT'S head, so MITCHELL has to divide
	his attention between the cute PHOTOGRAPH of BEAR clutching
	a prize rabbit at last year's county fair, and ABBOTT'S
	glaring eyes.

	ANGLE ON

	The PHOTOGRAPHS of various children with their pets.  Some
	have ribbons.

				DOLORES (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		Those are all from the fair last
		year.  Abbott and me were judges at
		the pet show.

				MITCHELL
		For rabbits?

				DOLORES
				(nodding)
 






		Abbott used to breed them 'til he
		had the stroke.  Bear won first
		prize.  Just look at the smile on
		his face.

				DOLORES
		He was one of those children that
		bring out the best in people.  He
		would have been a wonderful man.

	ANGLE ON

	MITCHELL as he stares at the photo of BEAR.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING

	The camera is outside the bus, looking at BEAR as he
	finishes waving to his parents.

	ANGLE ON

	BEAR'S P.O.V. of WANDA and HARTLEY disappearing as the bus
	pulls away.

							  CUT TO

	INT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING

	The camera moves inside the crowded bus, peering at the
	childrens' activity as they play with each other in the bus.

	ANGLE ON

	JESSICA and MASON ANSEL are seated at the back of the bus,
	looking out the rear window, waving at someone.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING

	JESSICA and MASON are seen waving at...

	BILLY ANSEL, driving behind them in his pick up truck.  He
	waves back at his children.

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		Billy Ansel started honking at us up
		around Upper Hat Creek.  He always
		started to do that when he caught up
		to the bus.  He'd wave at his kids,
		Jessica and Mason, who always sat at
 






		the back.  Normally, he followed us
		the whole distance over the ridge
		towards the school.

							  CUT TO

	INT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	The conversation between MITCHELL and DOLORES continues from
	the previous scene.

				MITCHELL
		So Billy was driving behind the bus
		at the time of the accident?

	DOLORES nods.  Her expression is distant.

				DOLORES
		Billy loved to see his kids in the
		bus.  They always sat in the back,
		so they could wave to each other.
		It comforted him.

				MITCHELL
		From what?

				DOLORES
				(confused)
		From what?

				MITCHELL
		Did he have any particular problems
		that you knew of?  Financial
		pressures...run-ins with the law...

				DOLORES
		No, nothing like that.  Billy's
		wife, Lydia, died of cancer a few
		years ago.  He took over raising the
		children by himself.  It was obvious
		how much he missed Lydia.

				MITCHELL
		You talked about it?

				DOLORES
		No.
				(beat)
		I saw it on his face.

	Pause.  DOLORES stares at MITCHELL.

							  CUT TO
 






	EXT. BILLY'S PICK-UP -- MORNING

	Through the windshield, the camera fixes on BILLY'S face as
	he stares at his children.

	ANGLE ON

	Inside the cab of his pick up, BILLY dials a number on his
	cell phone.  He continues to wave at his children as he
	speaks into the phone.

				BILLY
				(into the phone)
		Hi...Can you talk?  I'm on my way to
		work...I'm waving at them
		now...What's that noise?

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- MORNING

	RISA is on a cordless phone.  She has just finished cleaning
	a room.  WENDELL is hammering in the background.

				RISA
		Wendell's working on the roof.  He
		thinks he's fixing a leak.  As far
		as I'm concerned he's just punching
		in a few new holes.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BILLY'S PICK-UP -- MORNING

	BILLY smiles as he continues the conversation.

				BILLY
		Nicole's coming over to look after
		the kids tonight.  She'll be there
		around six.

				RISA
		Billy, that's too early.

				BILLY
		She said she's got to be home by
		nine.

				RISA
		Can't you make it later?

				BILLY
 






		Look, I'll be waiting in the room.
		You get over as soon as you can.
		Okay?

				RISA
		I guess.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. ROAD. -- MORNING

	HELICOPTER AERIAL SHOT

	The bus and the pick-up are travelling through a beautiful
	mountain pass.

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- DAY

	MITCHELL continues his conversation with ALISON as they eat
	dinner.

				ALISON
		I'm glad to hear that Zoe's okay.

				MITCHELL
		Are you still in touch?

				ALISON
		Not really.  The last time I saw her
		was at that clinic.  That was a long
		time ago.

				MITCHELL
		Which one?

				ALISON
		Which one?

				MITCHELL
		Which clinic?

				ALISON
		I don't remember the name.  It was
		near a beach.

				MITCHELL
		Sunnyridge.  That was a long time

		ago.

	Beat.  ALISON proceeds cautiously.
 






				ALISON
		So there were others?

				MITCHELL
				(as he eats)
		Other clinics?  Oh sure.  Clinics,
		half-way houses, treatment centers,
		detox units...

				ALISON
		Then...when did she get better?

				MITCHELL
		She didn't.

				ALISON
		But you said...

				MITCHELL
		That's where I'm going.  To see her.

				ALISON
		She's in trouble?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.
				(beat)
		Do you find there's something
		strange about this meat?

	ALISON stares at her plate.  MITCHELL summons the
	STEWARDESS.

				STEWARDESS
		Some more wine?

				MITCHELL
		I'm afraid this meat is overdone.

				STEWARDESS
		I'm sorry about that, Mr. Stephens.
		Would you like to try the fish?

				MITCHELL
		What is it?

				STEWARDESS
		Poached salmon.

	MITCHELL considers this.  He is polite, but slightly edgy.

				MITCHELL
		Do you have a cold plate?
 






				STEWARDESS
		We do.

				MITCHELL
		Is there shrimp on it?

				STEWARDESS
		Yes.

				MITCHELL
		If you could pick the shrimp off, as
		well as anything that touches the
		shrimp...

				STEWARDESS
				(smiling)
		I'm not sure if that will leave much
		on the plate.

				MITCHELL
		Well, let's see what we get.

	The STEWARDESS leaves with MITCHELL'S food.  MITCHELL gets
	up.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
				(to ALISON)
		If you could excuse me for a moment.

	ALISON nods.  MITCHELL leaves.  ALISON picks at her meat
	undecidedly.

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- DAY

	In the mirror of the tiny washroom of the plane, MITCHELL
	washes some water on his face.  He stares at his reflection
	in the mirror.

							 CUT TO

	EXT. THE OTTOS HOUSE. -- DAY

	MITCHELL approaches the house of HARTLEY and WANDA OTTO.  He
	gets out of his car and knocks on the door.

	WANDA OTTO answers.  She has been crying.  The two stare at
	each other.

				MITCHELL
		Mrs. Otto, my name is Mitchell
		Stephens.  The Walkers told me you
		might be willing to talk to me.
 







	Pause.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		I'm sorry for coming over
		unannounced like this, Mrs. Otto,
		but the Walkers said you would
		understand.  I know it's an awful
		time, but it's important that we
		talk.

				WANDA
		Who are you?

				MITCHELL
		I'm a lawyer.

				WANDA
		You can't come here.

				MITCHELL
		Please, let me explain.  I'll only
		take a moment of your time.

				WANDA
		No.

				MITCHELL
		Please.

	WANDA pauses, stares at MITCHELL, then lets him in.

							  CUT TO

	INT. THE OTTOS HOUSE. -- DAY

	MITCHELL walks into the OTTO residence.  It is a large two-
	storey space divided into several smaller chambers with
	sheets of brightly colored cloth - tie-dyes and Indian
	madras - that hang from wires.

	On a low brick platform in the centre of the main chamber is
	a large wood-burning stove.  A few feet from the stove,
	sitting on an overstuffed cushion, is HARTLEY OTTO.

	HARTLEY is listening to music on his headphones.  He is very
	stoned.  WANDA moves over, and pulls the headphones off her
	husband's head.

				WANDA
		We have a guest.  What did you say
		your name was?

				MITCHELL
 






		Mitchell Stephens.

	MITCHELL hands them a card.  HARTLEY reads it with
	deliberation.

				WANDA
		The Walkers sent him by.

	HARTLEY rises up.  He stares at MITCHELL.  A tense pause.

				HARTLEY
		You want a cup of tea or something?

				MITCHELL
		A cup of tea would be nice.
				(beat)
		Would it be alright if I sit down
		for a few minutes, Mrs. Otto?  I
		want to talk to you.

	WANDA stares at MITCHELL.  No response.  MITCHELL waits a
	beat, then seats himself rather uncomfortably on a large
	pillow.  He is unsure whether to cross his legs, or fold
	them under his chin.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		The Walkers spoke very highly of
		you.

				WANDA
		You've been retained?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.

				WANDA
		Their child died, and they got a
		lawyer.

	Pause.  MITCHELL assesses WANDA'S energy.

				MITCHELL
		It should be said that my task is to
		represent the Walkers only in their
		anger.  Not their grief.

				WANDA
		Who did they get for that?

				MITCHELL
		You are angry, aren't you, Mrs.
		Otto?  That's why I'm here.  To give
		your anger a voice.  To be your
 






		weapon against whoever caused that
		bus to go off the road.

				WANDA
		Dolores?

				MITCHELL
		It's my belief that Dolores was
		doing exactly what she'd been doing
		for years.  Besides, the school
		board's insurance on Dolores is
		minimal.  A few million at the very
		most.  The really deep pockets are
		to be found in the town, or in the
		company that made the bus.

				WANDA
		You think someone else caused the
		accident?

				MITCHELL
		Mrs.  Otto,  there is no such thing
		as an accident.  The word doesn't
		mean anything to me.  As far as I'm
		concerned, somebody somewhere made a
		decision to cut a corner.  Some
		corrupt agency or corporation
		accounted the cost variance between
		a ten-cent bolt and a million dollar
		out-of-court settlement.  They
		decided to sacrifice a few lives for
		the difference.  That's what's done,
		Mrs. Otto.  I've seen it happen so
		many times before.

	HARTLEY returns with the tea.

				HARTLEY
		But Dolores said she saw a dog and
		tried to...

				MITCHELL
		How long has Dolores been driving
		that bus, Mr. Otto?  How many times
		has she steered clear of danger?
		What went wrong that morning?

	MITCHELL takes the cup of tea.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		Someone calculated ahead of time
		what it would cost to sacrifice
		safety.  It's the darkest, most
		cynical thing to imagine, but it's
 






		absolutely true.  And now, it's up
		to me to make them build that bus
		with an extra bolt, or add an extra
		yard of guard rail.  It's the only
		way we can ensure moral
		responsibility in this society.  By
		what I do.

	Pause.

				WANDA
		So you're just the thing we need.

				MITCHELL
		Excuse me?

				WANDA
		Isn't that what you want us to
		believe?  That we're completely
		defenseless?  That you know what's
		best?

				MITCHELL
		Listen to me, Mrs Otto.  Listen very
		carefully.  I do know what's best.

		As we're sitting here the town or
		the school board or the manufacturer
		of that bus are lining up a battery
		of their own lawyers to negotiate
		with people as grief-stricken as
		yourselves.  And this makes me very,
		very mad.  It's why I came all the
		way up here.  If everyone had done
		their job with integrity your son
		would be alive this morning and
		safely in school.  I promise you
		that I will pursue and reveal who it
		was that did not do their job.

				MITCHELL
		Who is responsible for this tragedy.
		Then, in your name and the Walkers'
		name and the name of whoever decides
		to join us, I shall sue.  I shall
		sue for negligence until they bleed.

	Pause.

				WANDA
		I want that person to go to jail.
		For the rest of his life.  I want
		him to die there.  I don't want his
		money.
 







	MITCHELL nods sympathetically.

				MITCHELL
		It's unlikely that anyone will go to
		prison, Mrs. Otto.  But he or his
		company will pay in other ways.  And
		we must make them pay.  Not for the

		money or to compensate you for the
		loss of your son.  That can't be
		done.  But to protect other innocent
		children.  You see, I'm not just
		here to speak for your anger, but
		for the future as well.
				(beat)
		What we're talking about is an
		ongoing relationship to time.

	Pause.  HARTLEY looks at MITCHELL'S teacup.

				HARTLEY
		I didn't ask if you wanted milk.

				MITCHELL
		No.  A little sugar though.

				HARTLEY
		We've only got honey.

				MITCHELL
		I'll...take it straight.

	MITCHELL maintains his eye contact with WANDA.

				WANDA
		Are you expensive?

				MITCHELL
		No.

				MITCHELL
		If you agree to have me represent
		you in this suit, I will require no
		payment until after the case is won,
		when I will require one third of the
		awarded amount.  If there is no
		award made, then my services will
		cost you nothing.  It's a standard
		agreement.

				WANDA
		Do you have this agreement with you?
 






				MITCHELL
		It's in my car.

	MITCHELL gets up.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		I'll just be a minute.  Anyhow, you
		should discuss this all without me
		before you make any decision.

	MITCHELL moves to the door.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. THE OTTOS HOUSE. -- DAY

	MITCHELL leaves the house and moves to his car.  He gets
	inside and closes the door.

	Once inside, MITCHELL opens his briefcase and takes out an
	agreement for the OTTOS.  Something inside the briefcase
	catches his attention.

	ANGLE ON

	A photograph of ZOE.

	MITCHELL stares at this photograph.

				MITCHELL
				(voice over)
		I've done everything the loving
		father of a drug addict is supposed
		to do...

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- EVENING

	MITCHELL and ALISON have finished dinner.  MITCHELL is
	drinking a triple scotch.

				MITCHELL
				(continuing from
				voice over)
		...I've sent her to the best
		hospitals, she's seen all the best
		doctors.  It doesn't matter.  Two
		weeks later she's on the street.
		New York, Vancouver, Pittsburgh,
		Toronto, L.A.  The next time I hear
		from her, it's a phone call scamming
		for money.  Money for school, or
		money for a new kind of therapist,
 






		or money for a plane ticket home.
		'Oh Daddy, just let me come
		home...Please, Daddy, I have to see
		you...'  But she never comes home.
		I'm always at the airport, but she's
		never there.  Ten years of this, ten
		years of these lies, of imagining
		what happens if I don't send the
		money, of  kicking down doors and
		dragging her out of rat-infested
		apartments, of explaining why that
		couldn't be my daughter in a porn
		flick someone saw...well, enough
		rage and helplessness, and your love
		turns to something else.

				ALISON
				(soft)
		What...does it turn to?

				MITCHELL
		It turns to steaming piss.

	Pause.  ALISON is shocked by MITCHELL'S intensity.  He
	collects himself.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		I'm...so sorry.

				ALISON
		That's okay.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BILLY'S HOUSE. -- LATE DAY

	BILLY is chasing his kids around the yard of their house.
	NICOLE appears, and watching BILLY play with JESSICA and
	MASON.  BILLY notices her, and runs up breathlessly,

				BILLY
		Hi, Nicole.

				NICOLE
		Hi, Mr. Ansel.  Hi, Jessica,
		Mason...

				BILLY
		They just finished supper.

				NICOLE
				(to the kids)
		Was it good?
 






	The children shake their heads.  NICOLE and BILLY laugh.

				BILLY
		I'll be back around nine.

				NICOLE
		Okay.

							  CUT TO

	INT. GAS STATION -- DUSK

	BILLY is playing his electric guitar in the same garage that
	MITCHELL walked into at the beginning of the film.

	This is the gas station/repair shop/car wash that BILLY
	runs.

	BILLY checks his watch, and takes his guitar off.  He leaves
	the garage.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- DUSK

	BILLY is walking along a path behind the hotel, making sure
	that he is not seen.  He sneaks into Room 11.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- EVENING

	BILLY is sitting in a chair in Room 11, smoking a cigarette.
	The room is dark.  After a while, RISA enters through the
	door and slips inside.

				RISA
		Have you been waiting long?

				BILLY
		A while.

				RISA
		Billy, do you have to smoke?
		Wendell can smell if someone's been
		smoking.

	BILLY gets up to put out his cigarette in the toilet.  He
	notices some work tools in the washroom.

				BILLY
		What's all this?

				RISA
 






		Wendell put some fresh enamel on
		that break in the tub.

				BILLY
		Does this mean I can't take a
		shower?

				RISA
		No.  It should be dry by now.

	BILLY nods.  He turns around, looks at RISA, and begins to
	unbutton her shirt.  RISA stops him, smiles, and kisses
	BILLY.  After a moment, she pulls away, unbuckles her belt,
	and slips off her jeans.  She moves to the bed.

				BILLY
		What time's he coming home?

				RISA
		When the game's over, I guess.

	BILLY moves to the radio and turns it on, tuning into a
	hockey game.  RISA laughs.  He lowers the volume.  RISA
	takes off her shirt, and moves behind BILLY, kissing his
	neck.  BILLY closes his eyes.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BILLY'S HOUSE. -- EVENING

	JESSICA and MASON, BILLY'S children, are being read to sleep
	by NICOLE.  She reads from Robert Browning's THE PIED PIPER
	OF HAMELIN.

				NICOLE
		The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
		By famous Hanover city;
		The river Weser, deep and wide,
		Washes its wall on the southern
		side;
		A pleasanter spot you never spied;
		But, when begins my ditty...

				MASON
		What's a ditty again?

				NICOLE
		It's like a song.

				MASON
		Oh.

				NICOLE
 






		When begins my ditty,
		Almost five hundred years ago,
		To see the townsfolk suffer so
		From vermin, was a pity...

				MASON
		What's vermin again?

				NICOLE
		Rats!
		They fought the dogs and killed the
		cats,
		And bit the babies in the cradles,
		And ate the cheeses out of vats.
		And licked the soup from the cook's
		own ladles,
		Split open the kegs of salted
		sprats,
		Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
		And even spoiled the women's chats,
		By drowning their speaking
		With shrieking and squeaking
		In fifty different sharps and
		flats...

				MASON
		Nicole?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				MASON
		Can I sit beside you on the bus
		tomorrow?

				NICOLE
		Don't you usually like to sit at the
		back?  To wave at your Dad?

				MASON
		I want to sit beside you tomorrow.

				NICOLE
		Okay.

	NICOLE covers JESSICA, and gets up to leave.

				MASON
		Nicole?

				NICOLE
		What, Mason?

				MASON
 






		Did the Pied Piper take the children
		away because he was mad that the
		town didn't pay him?

				NICOLE
		That's right.

				MASON
		Well, if he knew magic - if he could
		get the kids into the mountain - why
		couldn't he use his pipe to make the
		people pay him for getting rid of
		the rats?

				NICOLE
		Because...he wanted to them to be
		punished.

				MASON
		The people in the town?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				MASON
		So he was mean?

				NICOLE
		No.  Not mean.  Just...very angry.

				MASON
		Oh.

				NICOLE
		Should I keep reading?

				MASON
		Okay.

	NICOLE smiles at MASON.  JESSICA is already asleep.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- EVENING

	Room 11 at the Bide-A-Wile.  RISA is naked, sitting cross-
	legged on the bed.  BILLY has just gotten into the shower.
	RISA stares at BILLY through the semi-transparent curtain.

	RISA stands up and walks to the window.  She looks across
	the parking lot.

	ANGLE ON
 






	RISA'S P.O.V. of the rain-glistened concrete.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BILLY'S HOUSE. -- NIGHT

	NICOLE is in BILLY'S bedroom.  She has some womens' clothing
	laid out on the bed, and is staring at the selection of
	blouses and summer dresses.  The camera slowly glides to a
	picture that BILLY has beside his bed.

	ANGLE ON

	The photograph.  It shows BILLY and his deceased wife,
	LYDIA.

	Back to NICOLE, selecting various items of LYDIA'S clothing,
	and placing them over her body, seeing how she looks in the
	mirror.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- DAY

	RISA'S DAYDREAM.  A montage of various events, watched from
	the window in Room 11.  RISA is seen talking to BILLY on her
	cordless phone (Scene 34), as well as going through various
	activities.  Finally, RISA is seen putting her son, SEAN,
	into the schoolbus.  As the bus pulls away, RISA waves
	goodbye.  RISA turns around and walks to the camera.  She
	stops in front of the lens and stares into it, her
	expression calm and serene.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- EVENING

	Present time.  Night.  RISA is sitting on the bed, naked,
	her legs crossed.  She looks to the side, lost in thought.

	BILLY is behind her, putting on his clothes.

				BILLY
		What are you thinking?

				RISA
		Tomorrow I'm going to put Sean on
		the bus.  He won't want to go.  He
		never does.  He'll cry and want to
		hold on to me.

				BILLY
		That's because he misses you.
 






				RISA
		Yes.

				BILLY
		It's natural.

				RISA
		Your kids never cry.

				BILLY
		Well, maybe that's because they know
		I'm going to follow them.  Behind
		the bus.

				RISA
		They can look forward to that.

				BILLY
		Sure.

				RISA
		Just like we look forward to this.

	BILLY looks at RISA and smiles at her with affection.  He
	moves to the door.

				RISA (CONT'D)
		You're leaving.

				BILLY
		I better get back.

	RISA nods.

				RISA
		Good night, Billy.

				BILLY
		Good night.

	BILLY leaves.  RISA, still naked, moves to the washroom.
	She stares into the tub, noticing that the white enamel that
	WENDELL has applied has been washed away from BILLY'S
	shower.

	RISA picks up a tube of the enamel, and begins to re-apply
	it.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BILLY'S HOUSE. -- EVENING

	NICOLE shows BILLY the clothes she has chosen.  BILLY stares
	at the selection.
 







				NICOLE
		Are you sure?

				BILLY
		Yeah.

				NICOLE
		It just seems...kind of weird.

				BILLY
		Why?

				NICOLE
		I don't know.

				BILLY
		Nicole, I'm just going to pack all
		this stuff and give it to the church
		for charity.  Don't feel bad.
		Unless you feel strange about
		wearing it.

				NICOLE
		No.  I mean, I remember Mrs. Ansel
		wearing some of this stuff, but...I
		don't feel funny about that.  I
		really liked her.

				BILLY
		And she really liked you.  She
		would've given you all this if she'd
		outgrown it, or...

	BILLY trails off, suddenly consumed with sadness.

				NICOLE
		What do you mean 'outgrown it'?

				BILLY
		I'm not sure.

				NICOLE
		Oh.
				(beat)
		Right.

	NICOLE turns to leave, taking the clothes with her.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		Goodnight, Mr. Ansel.

				BILLY
		Goodnight, Nicole.
 







	NICOLE leaves the house and walks towards the car where her
	father is waiting.

							  CUT TO

	INT.  SAM'S CAR. -- DUSK

	NICOLE gets into the car beside her father.

				SAM
		What took so long?

				NICOLE
		Nothing.

	SAM stares at the bundle of clothes on NICOLE's lap.

				SAM
		What's that?

				NICOLE
		Mrs.  Ansel's clothing.

				SAM
		Does it fit?

	NICOLE nods, staring ahead, as SAM starts the car and drives
	away.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BURNELL HOME -- NIGHT

	SAM drives up the driveway to the Burnell home.  He opens
	the door, and takes a blanket from the back.  NICOLE gets
	out as well.  The two walk towards the barn.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		Once more he stept into the street,
		And to his lips again
		Laid his long pipe of smooth
		straight cane;
		And ere he blew three notes
		such sweet soft notes as yet
		musician's cunning
		Never gave the enraptured air -
		There was a rustling, seemed like a
		bustling
		Of merry crowds justling at pitching
		and hustling,
		Small feet were pattering, wooden
		shoes clattering,
 






		Little hands clapping and little
		tongues chattering,
		And, like fowls in a farm-yard when
		the barley is scattering,
		Out came the children running.
		All the little boys and girls,
		With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
		And sparkling eyes and teeth like
		pearls.
		Tripping and skipping, ran merrily
		after
		The wonderful music with shouting
		and laughter...

	Inside the barn, SAM and NICOLE are engaged in a sexual
	embrace.  The camera glides past them as NICOLE's voice
	continues to read from the poem.





				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		When, lo, as they reached the
		mountain-side,
		A wondrous portal opened wide,
		As if a cavern was suddenly
		hollowed;
		And the Piper advanced and the
		children followed,
		And when all were in to the very
		last,
		The door in the mountain-side shut
		fast...


							  CUT TO

	INT. BUS -- DAY

	CLOSE-UP of NICOLE in the bus as it makes it's way to
	school.  She seems to be listening to her own voice as it
	reads from the poem.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		Did I say, all?  No!  One was lame,
		And could not dance the whole of
		the way;
		And in after years, if you would
		blame
		His sadness, he was used to say,-
		'It's dull in the town since my
 






		playmates left!
		I can't forget that I'm bereft
		Of all the pleasant sights they see,
		Which the Piper also promised me.
		For me led us, he said, to a joyous
		land,
		Joining the town and just at hand,
		Where waters gushed and fruit-trees
		grew,
		And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
		And everything was strange and
		new...

	On this last line, NICOLE's lips begin to move, as she
	repeats the line out loud to herself.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		Everything was strange and new.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. ROAD. -- MORNING

	A HELICOPTER shot of the schoolbus making its way through
	the winter terrain.  DOLORES' voice is heard over this
	sweeping panoramic shot.

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		By the time I reached the bottom of
		Bartlett Hill Road, I had half my
		load, over twenty kids, aboard.

							  CUT TO

	EXT.  WINTER ROAD -- MORNING

	The bus comes to a stop where a couple of children in bright
	snow suits are waiting by the side of the road.  DOLORES
	opens the door and the kids climb in.

	OMITTED

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		They had walked to their places on
		the main road from the smaller lanes

				DOLORES
		and private roadways that run off
		it.  Bright little clusters of three
		and four children - like berries
		waiting to be plucked.
 






							  CUT TO

	INT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	DOLORES is continuing her conversation with MITCHELL.

				DOLORES
				(smiling to herself)
		That's the way I thought of them
		sometimes.

				MITCHELL
		Berries.

				DOLORES
		Yes.  Like I was putting them into
		my big basket.  Clearing the
		hillside of its children.

	Pause.  MITCHELL stares at DOLORES, disturbed by this image.
	DOLORES looks back at him.

				DOLORES (CONT'D)
		Abbott and I used to do a lot of
		that in the spring.

				MITCHELL
		Berry-picking.

				DOLORES
		Yes.  The old-fashioned way.

				MITCHELL
		And what's that?

				DOLORES
		With our hands.

	MITCHELL nods, stealing a glance ABBOTT, who stares at him
	intensely.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- MORNING

	The bus pulls up across the road from the Bide-A-Wile Motel.
	DOLORES watches as RISA walks her little boy, SEAN, across
	the road to the bus.

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		Anyhow, my next stop was across from
		the Bide-A-Wile, which is owned and
		operated by Risa and Wendell Walker.
 






		Risa walked her little boy, Sean,
		across the road, which was
		customary.  Sean had some kind of
		learning disability.

				DOLORES
		He was behind all the other kids his
		age in school and was too fragile
		and nervous to play sports.

							  CUT TO

	INT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	DOLORES continues to talk to MITCHELL, who takes notes.

				DOLORES
				(smiling)
		A strange little fellow, but you
		couldn't help liking him.  He was
		close to ten but seemed more like a
		frightened five or six.

				MITCHELL
		Were his parents...attentive to him?

				DOLORES
		What do you mean?

				MITCHELL
		You mentioned that he had a learning
		disability.

				DOLORES
		That's right.

				MITCHELL
		Did his parents attend to that?

				DOLORES
		What do you mean?

				MITCHELL
		Did they give him special care?

				DOLORES
		The Walkers loved Sean.  He was
		their only child...the object of all
		their attention.  I mean, Wendell's
		a withdrawn sort of man.  That's his
		nature.  But Risa, she's still got
		dreams.

							  CUT TO
 







	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- MORNING

	DOLORES opens the door for SEAN.  RISA is wearing a down
	parka over her nightgown and bathrobe and is wearing
	slippers.

				RISA
		Morning, Dolores.

				DOLORES
		Hi, Risa.  Aren't your feet
		freezing?

	RISA looks down at her slippers.

				RISA
		I guess they are.

	SEAN gets to the landing of the bus, then turns around and
	looks at his mother.  He extends his hands like a baby
	wanting to be hugged.

				SEAN
		I want to stay with you.

	Pause.  RISA stares at her son with great intensity and
	feeling.

				RISA
		Go on now, Sean.  Go on.

	SEAN turns away and looks into the bus full of children.

				NICOLE
		C'mon, Sean.  Sit next to me.

	MASON is sitting beside NICOLE.  NICOLE whispers something
	to him, and he makes his way for SEAN.

	MASON goes to the back of the bus and sits beside his
	sister, JESSICA.  SEAN moves tentatively towards NICOLE.

	ANGLE ON

	Back on DOLORES and RISA.

				DOLORES
		Is he okay?

				RISA
		I don't know.

				DOLORES
 






		Temperature?

				RISA
		No.  He's not sick or anything.
		It's just one of those mornings, I
		guess.

							  CUT TO

	INT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	DOLORES continues her conversation with MITCHELL STEPHENS.

				DOLORES
		But I never had 'those mornings'
		myself.  Not so long as I had the
		schoolbus to drive.  Not so long as
		I had my kids.

	DOLORES is lost in this memory, realizing she will never
	drive the children again.  A tear runs down her cheek.

	ABBOTT, sensing his wife's mood, activates his electric
	wheelchair and maneuvers himself towards DOLORES.

	MITCHELL watches as DOLORES grasps ABBOTT'S hand.

							  CUT TO

	INT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING

	NICOLE is seated in the bus next to SEAN.  She is staring at
	the large speedometer on the front panel.

	ANGLE ON

	The speedometer reads 51 miles an hour.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING

	JESSICA and MASON, BILLY'S children, wave at their father
	from the back of the bus.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BILLY'S PICK-UP -- MORNING

	BILLY waving back at his children.  His expression suddenly
	changes as he sees...

							  CUT TO
 






	EXT. ROAD. -- MORNING

	From BILLY'S point of view, the schoolbus smashes through
	the guardrail and the snowbank.  It plummets down the
	embankment to the frozen-over pond.

	Still upright, the bus slides across the ice to the far
	side.  The ice lets go and the rear half of the yellow bus
	is swallowed at once by the freezing water.  The sound of
	the ice breaking is terrifying.

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		It emerged from the blowing snow on
		the right side of the road.  It
		might have been a dog or a small
		deer or maybe even a lost child.  It
		might have been an optical illusion
		or a mirage.  Whatever it was, for
		the rest of my life I will remember
		that red-brown blur...

	An eerie silence as the camera stares at the scene of the
	accident.

							  CUT TO

	INT. SUMMER COTTAGE -- MORNING

	The camera is high above the bed, looking down on a sleeping
	family.

	This is the same image as from the beginning of the film.

	A FATHER, a MOTHER, and a THREE YEAR OLD GIRL, naked in bed.

				MITCHELL
				(voice over)
		Every time I get on one of these
		flights to rescue Zoe, I remember
		the summer we almost lost her.  She
		was three years old.  It happened in
		the morning, at this cottage we used
		to rent.  We were all sleeping
		together in bed.  It was a wonderful
		time in our lives.  We still thought
		we had a future together, the three
		of us.  Did you ever visit the
		cottage?

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- NIGHT
 






	MITCHELL is telling the story to ALISON.

				ALISON
		I...don't think so.

				MITCHELL
		I woke to the sound of Zoe's
		breathing.  It was laboured.  I
		looked over and noticed she was
		sweating and all swollen.  I grabbed
		her, rushed to the kitchen, and
		splashed water on her face.

				ALISON
		What happened?

				MITCHELL
		I didn't know.  I was in a panic.  I
		guessed she'd been bitten by an
		insect, but there was no doctor.
		The nearest hospital was forty miles
		away, and Zoe was continuing to
		swell.  Klara took her in her arms
		and tried to breast-feed her, while
		I dialed the hospital.  I finally
		got a doctor on the line.  He
		sounded young, but cool.  He was
		confident, but there was a
		nervousness.  He have been an
		intern.  This was the first time he
		ever had to deal with anything like
		this.  He wanted to seem like he
		knew what he was doing, but he was
		just as scared as I was.

	ALISON stares at MITCHELL, taken by his need to chronicle
	and detail this irrelevant stranger.

							  CUT TO

	INT. SUMMER COTTAGE -- MORNING

	FATHER (YOUNG MITCHELL) is on the phone.  The camera is
	behind his head.

	In front of him, MOTHER (KLARA) is breast-feeding the THREE
	YEAR OLD GIRL (ZOE).

				MITCHELL
				(voice over)
		He surmised that there was a nest of
		baby black widow spiders in the
		mattress.  He told me they had to be
		babies, or else with Zoe's body
 






		weight she'd be dead.  He told me I
		had to rush her to the hospital.  He
		was alone.  There was no ambulance
		available.  'Now you listen', he
		said, 'There's a good chance you can
		get her to me before her throat
		closes, but the important thing is
		to keep her calm.'  He asked if
		there was one of us she was more
		relaxed with than the other.  I
		said, 'Yes, with me.'

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL continues telling the story to ALISON.

				MITCHELL
		Which was true enough, especially at
		that moment.  Klara was wild-eyed
		with fear, and her fear was
		contagious.  I was a better actor
		than she was, that's all.  Zoe loved
		us equally then.  Just like she
		hates us both equally now.
				(beat)
		The doctor told me that I should
		hold her in my lap, and let Klara
		drive to the hospital.  He asked me
		to bring a small, sharp knife.  It
		had to be clean.  There was no time
		to sterilize properly.  He explained
		how to perform an emergency
		tracheotomy.  How to cut into my
		daughter's throat and windpipe
		without causing her to bleed to
		death.  He told me there'd be a lot
		of blood.  I said I didn't think I
		could do it.  'If her throat closes
		up and stops her breathing, you'll
		have to, Mr. Stephens.  You'll have
		a minute and a half, two minutes
		maybe, and she'll probably be
		unconscious when you do it.  But if
		you can keep her calm and relaxed,
		if you don't let her little heart
		beat too fast and spread the poison
		around, then you might just make it
		over here first.  You get going
		now', and he hung up.

							  CUT TO
 






	INT. CAR -- MORNING

	A little girl staring innocently into the lens as a male
	voice sings a lullaby to her.

	It is now recognized as MITCHELL'S voice, singing to his
	daughter as she is driven to the hospital.

				MITCHELL
				(voice over)
		It was an unforgettable drive.  I
		was divided into two people.  One
		part of me was Daddy, singing a
		lullaby to his little girl.

				MITCHELL
		The other part was a surgeon, ready
		to cut into her throat.  I waited
		for the second that Zoe's breath
		stopped to make that incision.

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- NIGHT

	ALISON stares at MITCHELL as he finishes his story.

				ALISON
		What happened?

				MITCHELL
		Nothing.  We made it to the
		hospital.  I didn't have to go as
		far as I was prepared to.  But I was
		prepared to go all the way.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. ACCIDENT SITE -- DAY

	An open sky.  BILLY ANSEL'S face appears in the frame,
	looking down at the camera.

	ANGLE ON

	The camera is staring down at BILLY as he identifies the
	bodies of his two children.

	The camera is at a great height.

	As BILLY walks away, the camera floats down, slowly moving
	on his face.

							  CUT TO
 







	EXT. WOODS -- DAY

	BILLY's P.O.V. of his wife, LYDIA, tugging a sled through
	the snow.  JESSICA and MASON are on either side of her.

	The three figures are seen from behind, trudging their way
	through the winter landscape.

	This image has a ghostly quality to it.  It is filmed in
	slow motion.

	Suddenly, a snowball enters the frame and hits LYDIA on the
	back of the head.  She turns around, laughing into the
	camera.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- EVENING

	EXTREME-CLOSE-UP

	BILLY in his chair in Room 11 of the Bide-A-Wile.  He is
	alone, smoking a cigarette.  A slight faraway smile on his
	lips.

	After a moment, the door opens.  It is RISA.

	They stare at each other.  Silence.

				RISA
		I knew you'd be here.

	RISA sits on the bed.  Pause.

				RISA (CONT'D)
		Are you going to the funeral?

	Pause.

				BILLY
		I stopped by the station a while
		ago.  I stared at the bus.  I could
		almost hear the kids inside.  There
		was a lawyer there.  He told me he'd
		gotten you signed up.  Is that true?

				RISA
		Something made this happen, Billy.
		Mr. Stephens is going to find out
		what it was.

				BILLY
 






		What are you talking about?  It was
		an accident.

				RISA
		Mr. Stephens says that someone
		didn't put a right bolt in the
		bus...

				BILLY
		Risa, I serviced that bus.  At the
		garage.  There's nothing wrong with
		it.

				RISA
		...or that the guardrail wasn't
		strong enough.

				BILLY
		You believe that?

				RISA
		I have to.

				BILLY
		Why?

				RISA
		Because I have to.

				BILLY
		Well I don't.

	BILLY gets up to leave.

				RISA
		Is it true that you gave Nicole one
		of Lydia's dresses?  That she was
		wearing it when the bus crashed?

				BILLY
		Yes.

				RISA
		Why did you do that, Billy?

				BILLY
		You think that caused the accident,
		Risa?  That it brought bad luck?
		Christ, it sounds to me you're
		looking for a witch doctor, not a
		lawyer.  Or maybe they're the same
		thing.

	RISA is crying.  BILLY opens the door.
 







				BILLY (CONT'D)
		You know what I'm going to miss?
		More than making love?  It's the
		nights you couldn't get away from
		Wendell.  It's the nights I'd sit in
		that chair for an hour.  Smoking
		cigarettes and remembering my life
		before...

	BILLY stares at RISA painfully, then leaves.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. GAS STATION -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL is videotaping the bus with a portable camcorder.

	The bus is badly damaged, though essentially intact.  Most
	of the windows in the rear have gone.  There is a ghostly
	quality to this image, as though the video light is
	searching through the remains of an ancient shipwreck.

	MITCHELL turns off the camcorder and stands in the silent
	night, absorbing the disturbing energy of the bus.  He hears
	a truck approaching the garage from the distance.  It's
	BILLY ANSEL.  MITCHELL retreats to his parked car as BILLY
	stops his truck in front of the bus and steps out of the
	truck.

	BILLY leaves his headlights on, and they cast dark shadows
	over the inside passenger seats.  BILLY stares at the bus a
	long time.  MITCHELL approaches him.

				MITCHELL
		I'm here about your children, Mr.
		Ansel.

	BILLY takes a moment, then turns around to face MITCHELL.
	The two men stare at each other.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		My name is...

				BILLY
		Mister, I don't want to know your
		name.

				MITCHELL
		I understand.

				BILLY
		No you don't.
 






				MITCHELL
		I can help you.

				BILLY
		Not unless you can raise the dead.

	MITCHELL hands BILLY a card.

				MITCHELL
		Here.  You may change your mind.

	BILLY looks at the card.

				BILLY
		Mr. Mitchell Stephens, Esquire,
		would you be likely to sue me if I
		was to beat you right now?  Beat you
		so bad that you pissed blood and
		couldn't walk for a month.  Because
		that's what I'm about to do.

				MITCHELL
		No, Mr. Ansel.  I wouldn't sue you.

				BILLY
		Leave us alone, Stephens.  Leave the
		people of this town alone.  You
		can't help.

				MITCHELL
		You can help each other.  Several
		people have agreed to let me
		represent them in a negligence suit.
		Your case as an individual will be
		stronger if I'm allowed to represent
		you together as a group.

				BILLY
		Case?

				MITCHELL
		The Walkers have agreed.  The Ottos.
		Nicole Burnell's parents.  It's
		important to initiate proceedings
		right away.  Things get covered up.
		People lie.  That's why we have to
		begin our investigation quickly.
		Before the evidence disappears.
		That's why I'm out here tonight.

				BILLY
		I know Risa and Wendell Walker.
		They wouldn't hire a goddamned
		lawyer.  And the Ottos wouldn't deal
 






		with you.  We're not country
		bumpkins you can put a big city
		hustle on.  You're trying to use us.

				MITCHELL
		You're angry, Mr. Ansel.  You owe it
		to yourself to feel that way.  All
		I'm saying is let me direct your
		rage.

	BILLY stares at MITCHELL with a cold intensity.  The cell
	phone in MITCHELL'S car begins to ring.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		That's my daughter.  Or it may be
		the police to tell me that they've
		found her dead.  She's a drug
		addict.

				BILLY
		Why are you telling me this?

				MITCHELL
		I'm telling you this because...
		we've all lost our children, Mr.
		Ansel.

				MITCHELL
		They're dead to us.  They kill each
		other in the streets.  They wander
		comatose in shopping malls.  They're
		paralyzed in front of televisions.
		Something terrible has happened
		that's taken our children away.
		It's too late.  They're gone.

	The phone continues to ring, as BILLY stares at MITCHELL.

	MITCHELL turns to look at the ringing phone.

							  CUT TO

	INT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	MITCHELL is getting ready to leave.  DOLORES is still
	grasping onto ABBOTT'S hand.

				DOLORES
		I have a question for you, Mr.
		Stephens.

				MITCHELL
		What's that, Dolores?
 






				DOLORES
		I told you that I was doing fifty
		miles an hour when the accident
		happened.  That's how I remembered
		it.  But the truth is, I might have
		been doing sixty.  Or sixty five.
		And if that's true, that I was over
		the limit when the bus went over,
		what would happen then?

				MITCHELL
		That would complicate things.

				DOLORES
		Because I'd be to blame, right?

				MITCHELL
		Billy Ansel will insist that you
		were driving fifty-one miles an
		hour.  Just like you've done every
		morning for the past fifteen years.

				DOLORES
		He knows that?  Billy?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.  He does.

				DOLORES
		Billy said that?

	MITCHELL nods.

				DOLORES (CONT'D)
		You've talked to Billy?

				MITCHELL
		I did.

				DOLORES
		And Billy told you that he'll tell
		that to...

				MITCHELL
		Mrs.  Driscoll, if Billy Ansel does
		not volunteer to say so in court, I
		will subpoena him and oblige him to
		testify to that effect.

	Pause.  MITCHELL plans his next step.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		But in order to do that, you must
		let me bring a suit in your name
 






		charging negligent infliction of
		emotional harm.  That's what I'm now
		asking you to consider.

	Pause.  DOLORES is lost.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		It's clear to me and other people
		that you have suffered significantly
		from this event.

				DOLORES
		What other people?

				MITCHELL
		Excuse me?

				DOLORES
		Who's been talking to you about what
		I'm feeling?  Who should care about
		what I'm feeling?

	MITCHELL stares at DOLORES.

				MITCHELL
		Dolores, people have to know that
		you've suffered too.

				MITCHELL
		And they won't understand until you
		let me clear your name - your good
		name - once and for all.  Will you
		let me do that?  Will you let me do
		my duty?

	Suddenly, ABBOTT says something.  He twists his face around
	his mouth, purses his lips on the left side and emits a
	string of broken syllables and sounds.  After this outburst,
	DOLORES looks at MITCHELL, a comforted smile on her face.

				DOLORES
		You heard what Abbott said?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.

				DOLORES
		Anything you didn't understand?

				MITCHELL
		There might have been a word or two
		that slipped by.  Maybe you could
		clarify it for me, just to be
		absolutely sure.
 







				DOLORES
		Abbott said that the true jury of a
		person's peers is the people of her
		town.  Only they, the people who
		have known her all her life, and not
		twelve strangers, can decide her
		guilt or innocence.  And if I have
		committed a crime, then it's a crime
		against them, so they are the ones
		who must decide my punishment.

	MITCHELL stares at ABBOTT, who stares back.

				MITCHELL
		That's what he said, is it?

				DOLORES
		Yes.  Abbot understands these
		things.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. DOLORES'S HOUSE -- DAY

	MITCHELL leaves the DRISCOLL house, watched by DOLORES.

	INT. HOSPITAL -- MORNING

	NICOLE BURNELL is in bed.  A doctor, DR. ROBESON, is
	touching her forehead.  NICOLE'S family (SAM, her mother
	MARY, and her little sister JENNY)

				DR. ROBESON
		The mind is kind.

	The camera fixes on NICOLE'S expression as she stares ahead.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		They say I'm lucky because I can't
		remember the accident.

				SAM
		Don't even try to remember.

				MARY
		You just think about getting well,
		Nicole, that's all.

	The camera is always fixed on NICOLE'S face when her voice
	over is heard.

				NICOLE
 






				(voice over)
		I know I'm as well as I ever can be
		again.  So shut up, Mom.  To stay
		like this, to live like a slug, I'm
		going to have to work like someone
		trying to get into the Olympics.

				SAM
		Just wait till you see what we've
		got waiting for you at home.

							  CUT TO

	INT. HOSPITAL -- DAY

	NICOLE, in a wheelchair, is being led down a hallway with
	her family.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		It's an incredible relief to be
		leaving the hospital.  I'm so sick
		of looking at my doctor, listening
		to Frankenstein ask me stupid
		questions about what I was
		feeling...

							 CUT TO

	INT. HOSPITAL. LOBBY. -- DAY

	NICOLE is being wheeled to the front door of the hospital.

				NICOLE
				(voice over,
				continuing)
		He thought it was cute when I called
		him Frankenstein.  It wasn't.  I
		feel like his monster.

				MARY
		Isn't it a lovely day?

				NICOLE
		What happened to summer?

				MARY
		Summer's over.  It's fall.

				NICOLE
		And winter?

				MARY
		Well, winter's far behind us now.
 







				NICOLE
		How was it?

				MARY
		We had a terrible winter last year,
		didn't we, Sam?

	SAM nods.

				NICOLE
		Good thing I was in Florida.

	MARY doesn't know quite what to make of NICOLE'S joke.  SAM
	flashes NICOLE a smile.  She doesn't return it.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BURNELL HOME -- DAY

	NICOLE arrives at home.  The car pulls up in front of the
	modest house.

	SAM opens the door and puts the wheelchair up next to it.
	He points out the ramp he has built for NICOLE.

	The ramp is painted green.

				SAM
		How do you like it, Nicole?

				NICOLE
		The ramp?

				SAM
		Pretty slick, eh?

				NICOLE
		Very slick.

				SAM
		Do you like the colour?

				NICOLE
		It's okay.

				SAM
		And I had to widen a few doors.
		You'll see.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME -- DAY
 






	Inside the house.  The interior of the house is dark and
	somewhat tawdry.  The BURNELL'S are almost poor.

	But SAM then leads NICOLE into the special room he has built
	for her.  It seems like another world.  Every detail has
	been lovingly attended to.  No expense has been spared to
	make this room as attractive and inviting as possible.

	A room that a guilty, abusive father might dream up for his
	crippled daughter.

				SAM
		What do you think?

	Pause.  NICOLE wheels around, trying to control her emotions
	as she inspects the room.  A phone rings in the background.
	MARY goes to answer it.

	NICOLE fixes her gaze at the back of the door.

				NICOLE
		The door needs a lock.

				SAM
				(taken aback)
		Sure.  I'll fix it right away.

	SAM goes to get his tools.  JENNY stares at NICOLE.

				JENNY
		Can I come and visit you here?

				NICOLE
		You better.  And you can sleep in my
		new bed with me too.

	NICOLE grabs her sister's hand, and JENNY moves in close to
	her.  SAM comes back with the tools.  He starts to screw in
	the hook.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		That's too high.  I'll never reach
		it.

				SAM
				(nervous)
		Oh.  I better get some spackle.

	SAM leaves again.

				JENNY
		Mommy says you need to lock the boys
		out.
 






				NICOLE
		What boys?

				JENNY
		I don't know.

	NICOLE stares at JENNY, as MARY comes back into the room.

				MARY
		So do you like your new room?

				NICOLE
		It's interesting.

				MARY
		Your Dad spent all his spare time in
		here.  He wanted to make it
		absolutely perfect.

				NICOLE
		I feel like a princess.

	SAM comes back and begins to work on the door.  NICOLE
	watches him.  She notices a new computer on a desk.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		Is this mine?

				MARY
		Yes.  It's a present.

				NICOLE
		From you?

				MARY
		No.  From Mr. Stephens.  That was
		him on the phone just now.  He was
		calling to see how you were.

				NICOLE
		Who's Mr. Stephens?

				SAM
		He's a lawyer.  He's our lawyer.

				NICOLE
		You and Mom have a lawyer?

				SAM
		Well, yes.  He's your lawyer too.

				NICOLE
		My lawyer?  Why do I need a lawyer?
 






				MARY
		Maybe we shouldn't be talking about
		this just now, with you barely home.
		Aren't you hungry, honey?  Want me
		to fix you something?

				NICOLE
		No.  What's this lawyer business?

	MARY turns to JENNY.

				MARY
		Jenny, why don't you go and play
		outside?

	JENNY looks at NICOLE.

				JENNY
		He's given me some stuff too.  Toys,
		and some books...

				MARY
		Jenny.

	JENNY turns to leave.  When she's outside, MARY continues.

				MARY (CONT'D)
		He's a very kind man.  And he knew
		that you'd need a computer for doing
		schoolwork.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BURNELL HOME. PORCH -- DAY

	NICOLE wheels her chair to the exterior porch, where she
	watches her sister climb a tree.  SAM follows her outside.



				SAM
		It's because of the accident,
		Nicole.  Most people in this town
		whose kids were on the bus have got
		lawyers.  A lot of people...well,
		people in this town are very angry.
		Us included.

				NICOLE
		But you didn't lose me.

				MARY
		No, honey.  And we will thank the
		Lord for that every day and night
 






		for the rest of our lives.  But you
		almost died, and you were badly
		injured, and you won't be...you
		can't...

				NICOLE
		I can't walk anymore.

	ANGLE ON

	NICOLE'S P.O.V. of JENNY playing on a tree branch.

				SAM
		You're going to need special care
		for a long time to come.  It's not
		going to be easy.  Not for you, not
		for any of us.  Because we love you
		so much.  And it's going to cost
		money.  More than we can imagine.

				NICOLE
		What about insurance?  Doesn't
		insurance pay for these things?

				SAM
		Partly.  But there's a lot the
		insurance doesn't cover.  That's one
		of the reasons we have a lawyer.  To
		make sure the insurance gets paid
		and to help us look after the rest.

				NICOLE
		How will he do that?

				SAM
		Well, Mr. Stephens is representing
		several families.  The Ottos, the
		Walkers, us, and I think a couple
		more.  Mr. Stephens is suing the
		town for negligence.  He's sure that
		the accident could have been avoided
		if they had done their jobs right.
		He's a very smart man.

	NICOLE stares at her sister who's at the top of the tree.
	JENNY turns to look back at NICOLE.

	There's a tension, as it seems as though JENNY is going to
	let herself fall.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		That's the first thing I heard about
		you.  That you were a smart man.
 






		That you  were so smart that you
		were going to sue the town, then
		make us all feel better...

							  CUT TO

	EXT. GAS STATION -- NIGHT

	FLASHBACK to the scene outside the gas station between
	MITCHELL and BILLY.

	The cell phone in MITCHELL'S car has begun to ring.  The two
	men stare at each other.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		You're good at that.  Good at
		getting people to believe you could
		do something for them.  Something
		they could never do for themselves.

	MITCHELL breaks the silence.

				MITCHELL
		That's my daughter.  Or it may be
		the police to tell me that they've
		found her dead.  She's a drug
		addict.

				BILLY
		Why are you telling me this?

				MITCHELL
		I'm telling you this because we've
		all lost our children, Mr. Ansel...

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL stares at the sleeping figure of ALISON.

				MITCHELL
				(voice over)
		They're dead to us.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. GAS STATION -- NIGHT

	Back to the scene between BILLY and MITCHELL.  The cellular
	phone is ringing.  MITCHELL breaks the stare with BILLY and
	moves to his car.
 






	The camera follows him, as BILLY moves back to his truck in
	the background.  MITCHELL gets in his car and picks up the
	phone.

				MITCHELL
		Yes, I'll accept the charges.

				ZOE
		Daddy?

							  CUT TO

	EXT. PHONE BOOTH -- AFTERNOON

				MITCHELL
		Yes.

				ZOE
		I'm calling because I've got some
		news for you, Daddy.  Some big news.

				MITCHELL
		News?

				ZOE
		Don't you want to hear?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.  Give me your news, Zoe.

				ZOE
		You always think you know what I'm
		going to say, don't you?  You always
		think you're two steps ahead of me.
		The lawyer.

				MITCHELL
		Tell me your news, Zoe.

				ZOE
		Okay.  I went to sell blood
		yesterday.  That's how it is.  I'm
		in this fucking city where my father
		is a hot shit lawyer, and I'm
		selling my blood.

				MITCHELL
		That's not news, Zoe.

				ZOE
		No.  But this is.  They wouldn't
		take my blood.

							  CUT TO
 







	INT. CAR -- DAY

	Image of ZOE as a little girl in MITCHELL'S lap.  Her face
	is swollen.  She is being driven to the hospital.

	MITCHELL is singing her a lullaby.

	MiTCHELL's conversation with ZOE continues over this image.

				ZOE
		Do you know what that means, Daddy?
		Does it register?

				MITCHELL
		Yes.

				ZOE
		I tested positive.

				MITCHELL
		Yes.

				ZOE
		Welcome to hard times, Daddy.

	Pause.

				MITCHELL
		What do you want me to do, Zoe?
		I'll do whatever you want.

				ZOE
		I need money.

				MITCHELL
		What for?

				ZOE
		You can't ask me that!  Not anymore!
		You asked me what I wanted.  Not
		what I wanted it for.  I want money.

				MITCHELL
		Do you have the blood test?

				ZOE
		You don't believe me?  You don't
		fucking believe me?

				MITCHELL
		Of...course I do.  I just
		thought...I could get you another
 






		test.  In case the one you got...was
		wrong.

				ZOE
		I like it when you don't believe me,
		Daddy.  It's better you don't
		believe me but have to act like you
		do.

	Pause.

				ZOE (CONT'D)
		I can hear you breathing, Daddy.

				MITCHELL
		Yes.  I can hear you breathing too.

	ZOE begins to cry over the phone.

				ZOE
		Oh God, I'm scared.

				MITCHELL
		I love you, Zoe.  I'll be there
		soon, and I'll take care of you.  No
		matter what happens.  I'll take care
		of you.

							  CUT TO

	INT. AIRPLANE. FIRST CLASS CABIN -- NIGHT

	MITCHELL is still staring at the sleeping figure of ALISON.

	ALISON'S blanket has fallen to the side.

	MITCHELL lifts the blanket, and covers the sleeping figure
	of the young woman.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BURNELL HOME -- DAY

	MITCHELL drives up to the BURNELL home.  He gets out of his
	car and walks to the front door.

	SAM has repainted the ramp.

	It is now red.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME.  KITCHEN -- DAY
 






	MITCHELL meets NICOLE.  SAM and MARY are also seated at the
	table.

	The meeting takes place in the kitchen/diningroom.

				MITCHELL
		Well, Nicole, I've been wanting to
		meet you for a long time now.  Not
		just because I've heard so many good
		things about you, but because, as
		you know, I'm the guy representing
		you and your mom and dad and some
		other folks here in town.  We're
		trying to generate some
		compensation, however meager, for
		what you have suffered, and at the
		same time see that an accident like
		this never happens again.  You're
		central to the case I'm trying to
		build, Nicole.  But you'd probably
		just as soon let the whole thing
		lie.  Just get on with your life as
		quickly and smoothly as possible.

	NICOLE nods.  Pause, as MITCHELL waits for her to go on.

				NICOLE
		I don't like thinking about the
		accident.  I don't even remember it
		happening.  Besides, it just makes
		people feel sorry for me, and...

				MITCHELL
		You hate that.

	NICOLE nods.

				SAM
		What she means, Mitch...

	MITCHELL silences SAM with a gesture of his hand.

				MITCHELL
		People can't help it, you know.
		They really can't.  When they see
		you in this wheelchair, knowing what
		your life was life eight months ago,
		people are going to feel sorry for
		you.  There's no way around it,
		Nicole.  You and I just met, and
		already I admire you.  Who wouldn't?
		You're a brave tough smart kid.
		That's obvious.  And I didn't know
		you, know how exciting and promising
 






		your life was before the accident.
		But listen, even I feel sorry for
		you.

				NICOLE
		You can only feel lucky that you
		didn't die for so long.  Then you
		start to feel...unlucky.

				MITCHELL
		That you didn't die?  Like the other
		children?

				NICOLE
		Yes.  Like Bear and the Ansel twins
		and Sean and...

				MARY
		Nicole!

				NICOLE
		It's the truth.

	MITCHELL regards MARY with calm authority, as though he's
	telling her the time.

				MITCHELL
		It is the truth.

	Pause.  MITCHELL looks back at NICOLE.

				MITCHELL (CONT'D)
		It would be strange if you didn't
		feel that way.

				NICOLE
				(after a slight
				pause)
		What do you want me to do for you,
		Mr. Stephens?

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME.  LIVINGROOM. -- DAY

	TIME CUT fifteen minutes forward.  The scene shifts to the
	livingroom.

	MITCHELL and NICOLE are alone in the room.  SAM comes back
	from another room, as MARY appears from the kitchen with a
	plate of cookies.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
 






		That got you talking about
		depositions and lawyers.  By the
		time Daddy came back from the
		washroom and Mom came in with her
		tea and cookies, you were going on
		about how tough it would be for me
		to answer some of the questions
		those other lawyers would ask .

				MITCHELL
		They work for the people we're
		trying to sue.  Their job is to try
		to minimize damages.  Our job,
		Nicole, is to try to maximize them.
		You have to think of it that way.
		As people doing their jobs.  No good
		guys or bad guys.  Just our side and
		their side.

				NICOLE
		I won't lie.

				MITCHELL
		I don't want you to lie.

				NICOLE
		The truth is that it was an
		accident, and no one's to blame.

				MITCHELL
		There's no such thing as an
		accident, Nicole.  Not in a
		situation like this.

				NICOLE
		You seem very sure about that.

				MITCHELL
		I'm absolutely positive.

	NICOLE turns to face SAM.  She stares at him.

				NICOLE
		No matter what I'm asked, I'll tell
		the truth.

	SAM looks back, expressionless.

				MITCHELL
		That's fine.  I want you to be
		absolutely truthful.  And I'll be
		right there to advise and help you.
		And there'll be a court stenographer
		there to make a record of it, and
 






		that's what'll go to the judge,
		before the trial is set.  It'll be
		the same for everybody.  They'll be
		deposing the Ottos and the Walkers,
		the bus driver...

				NICOLE
		Dolores.

				MITCHELL
		Yes.  Dolores...and even your mom
		and dad.  But I'll make sure you go
		last.

				NICOLE
		Why?

				MITCHELL
		So you can keep on getting well
		before you have to go and do this.
		It's not going to be easy, Nicole.
		Do you understand that?

	NICOLE nods.

				SAM
		When do they award damages?

				MITCHELL
		Depends.  This could drag on for
		quite a while.  But we'll be there
		at the end, Sam.  Don't you worry.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		At that moment, I hated my parents -
		Daddy for what he knew and had done,

				NICOLE
		and even Mom for what she didn't
		know and hadn't done.  You told me
		it wasn't going to be easy.  But as
		I sat there, staring at Daddy, I
		knew it was going to be the easiest
		thing in my life.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BIDE-A-WILE MOTEL -- MORNING

	REPLAY of the scene of SEAN WALKER entering the bus.  He
	turns around to face his mother.

				SEAN
 






		I want to stay with you.

				RISA
		Go on now.  Go on.

	SEAN hesitantly turns to face the inside of the bus.  He
	sees NICOLE BURNELL, who pats the seat beside her.

	MASON leaves his place beside NICOLE to make way for SEAN.

				NICOLE
		C'mon, Sean, sit next to me.

	ANGLE ON

	DOLORES as she watches SEAN move towards NICOLE.

							  CUT TO

	INT. COMMUNITY CENTRE. -- DAY

	DOLORES gives her deposition.  A stenographer takes notes.
	MITCHELL listens, along with SCHWARTZ, the opposing lawyer.

				DOLORES
		He never took his eyes off his
		mother, even as he moved to sit
		beside Nicole.  He looked
		frightened.

				MITCHELL
		Why would he be frightened?

				DOLORES
		I don't know.  But it was weird in
		terms of what happened next.  Sean
		was still watching his mother.

				DOLORES
		I shut the door with one hand, and
		released the brake with the other,
		and waited for a second for Risa to
		cross in front of the bus.  There
		was a sixteen wheeler behind me, and
		I heard his air brakes hiss as the
		driver chunked into gear.  I looked
		into the side view mirror, and saw
		him move into line behind me.  Then
		suddenly Sean shrieked...

							  CUT TO

	INT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING
 






	SEAN leaps to the front of the bus.

				SEAN
		Mommy!

				MITCHELL
				(voice over, from
				the court chamber)
		What happened then?

				DOLORES
				(voice over)
		Sean was all over me, scrambling
		across my lap to the window.  I
		glimpsed  Risa off to my left,
		leaping out of the way of a red Saab
		that seemed to have bolted out of
		nowhere.

	The scene is horrifying, as SEAN watches his mother just
	missing a terrible accident with the speeding vehicle.

				DOLORES (CONT'D)
		Sean!  Sit down!  Your Mom's okay!
		Now sit down!

	SEAN sits back down beside NICOLE.  DOLORES slides open her
	window, and speaks to RISA.

				DOLORES (CONT'D)
		You get his number?

	RISA is stunned.

				DOLORES (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		She was shaken, standing there with
		her arms wrapped around herself.

				DOLORES
		She shook her head, turned away, and
		walked slowly back to the office.  I
		drew a couple of breaths and checked
		Sean, who was seated now but still
		craning and looking after his
		mother.

							  CUT TO

	INT. COMMUNITY CENTRE. -- DAY

	The deposition continues.

				DOLORES
 






		I smiled at him, but he only glared
		back at me, as if I was to blame.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. SCHOOL BUS -- MORNING

	AERIAL VIEW of the bus as it makes its way through the
	mountains.  NICOLE'S voice is heard reading The Pied Piper
	from the scene with the ANSEL children.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		For he led us, he said, to a joyous
		land,
		Joining the town and just at hand,
		Where waters gushed and fruit-trees
		grew,
		And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
		And everything was strange and
		new...

							  CUT TO

	INT. SCHOOL BUS -- DAY

	A montage showing the faces of the various children in the
	bus.  These images are intercut with DOLORES'S deposition.

							  CUT TO

	INT. COMMUNITY CENTRE. -- DAY

	The deposition.  DOLORES is trying to control her emotions.

				DOLORES
		I remember wrenching the steering
		wheel to the right and slapping my
		foot against the brake petal.  I
		wasn't the driver anymore.

				DOLORES
		The bus was like this huge wave
		about to break over us.  Bear Otto,
		the Lambston kids, the Hamiltons,
		the Prescotts, the teenaged boys and
		girls from Bartlett Hill, Sean,
		Nicole Burnell, Billy Ansel's twins,
		Jessica and Mason...all the children
		of my town.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME -- NIGHT
 







	SAM and JENNY are watching television.  Lumberjack log-
	rolling.

	NICOLE, in her wheelchair, is reading a book off to one
	corner.  MARY comes into the room.

				MARY
		That was Billy Ansel on the phone.
		He wants to come over to talk to us.

				SAM
		Did he say what about?

				MARY
		No.

				SAM
		Was he drinking?  Could you tell?

				MARY
		Jenny, it's time for you to go to
		bed.

				JENNY
		Mom...

				SAM
		Come on, Jen.  I let you watch your
		nature show.

	JENNY reluctantly kisses her father goodnight, then NICOLE.
	As she leaves the room, MARY starts clearing the table.

				SAM (CONT'D)
		Is he coming over now?  Right away?

				MARY
		That's what he said.

	SAM is anxious.  He looks over to NICOLE.

				SAM
		What are you up to, Nicole?

				NICOLE
		Nothing.

				SAM
		Nothing good on your T.V.?

				NICOLE
		As opposed to this T.V.?
 






	NICOLE stares at SAM.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		Besides, I'd like to see Billy.

	NICOLE stares at the television.

	ANGLE ON

	On the television screen, an image of a studio audience
	applauding.  The image is silent.  The T.V. is on MUTE.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		That wasn't true.  I didn't want to
		be seen by anyone whose kids had
		been killed by the accident.
		Especially not Billy Ansel.

	NICOLE turns her attention back to her parents.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		Actually, now that I think about it,
		I'd just as soon stay in my room.

	NICOLE shoves her wheelchair towards her room, as the camera
	remains on her face.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		I remembered all the times I had
		tucked Jessica and Mason into bed.
		How they loved to have me read to
		them before they slept.  There was
		nothing for me to say to Billy,
		except I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that
		your children died when my parent's
		children didn't.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. BURNELL HOME -- NIGHT

	BILLY pulls up to the BURNELL home.  He gets out of his pick
	up and approaches the house.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME -- NIGHT

	From her room, NICOLE watches as BILLY approaches the house.
 






	He leaves her view as a knock is heard at the door.  NICOLE
	wheels over to the door and presses her ear to the door so
	that she can hear the conversation.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME.  KITCHEN. -- NIGHT

				SAM
		Hey, Billy!  What brings you out on
		a night like this?  C'mon in.  Take
		a load off.

				MARY
		Would you like a cup of tea, Billy?
		There's a piece of cake left.

				BILLY
		No.  No, thanks, Mary.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME.  KITCHEN/LIVINGROOM -- NIGHT

	SAM leads BILLY into the livingroom.

				SAM
		So what brings you out tonight?

				BILLY
		Well, Sam, I might as well tell you
		the truth.  It's this lawsuit you've
		gotten yourself all involved with.
		I want you to drop the damned thing.

	Pause.

				SAM
		I don't see how that concerns you,
		Billy.

				BILLY
		It does concern me.

				SAM
		Well, I don't know why it should.
		There's a whole lot of people in
		town involved with lawsuits.  We're
		hardly unique here, Billy.  I mean,
		I can understand how you feel.

				BILLY
		How?
 






				SAM
		Well, it being so depressing and
		all.  But it's reality.  You can't
		just turn this off because you
		happen to think it's a bad idea.

				BILLY
		Why not?

				SAM
		Because it's what we have to do.

				BILLY
		Well I don't want a damned thing to
		do with it.

				SAM
		Okay, fine.  So...stay out of it.

	Pause.  BILLY stares at SAM.  Tension.

				BILLY
		I've tried to stay out of it.  But
		it turns out that's not so easy,
		Sam.  You've gone and got yourself
		this lawyer.  Mitchell Stephens.
		You and Risa and Wendell and the
		Ottos.

				SAM
		So?  I mean, lot's of folks have got
		lawyers.

				BILLY
		But yours is the one who's going to
		subpoena me, Sam.  Force me to
		testify in court.  He came by the
		garage this afternoon.  Gave me this
		piece of paper.

	BILLY reaches into his pocket and shows the paper to SAM.

				MARY
		Why would he do that?  You didn't
		have anything to do with the
		accident.

				BILLY
		Because I was driving behind the
		bus, Mary.  Because I saw it.  I saw
		it happen...

	BILLY is harrowed by this image.  SAM and MARY stare at him,
	frightened by his intensity.
 







				BILLY (CONT'D)
		If that bastard does subpoena me, if
		he forces me to go over this again,
		then all those other lawyers will
		line up behind him and try and do
		the same thing.

				SAM
		That won't happen, Billy.  Mitch
		Stephens' case is small, compared to
		some of those other guys.  The way
		he told me, all he needs is for you
		to say what you saw that day,
		driving behind the bus.  I know it's
		a painful thing to do, but it'll
		only take a few minutes of your
		time.  That'll be the end of it.

				BILLY
		That's wrong, Sam.  You know that.
		We'll be tangled up in this thing
		for the next five years.  This is
		never going to go away...

				SAM
		C'mon, you know that won't...

				BILLY
		We've got lawyers suing lawyers
		because some people were stupid
		enough to sign on with more than one
		of the bastards.  We've got people
		pointing fingers, making side deals,
		and dickering over percentages.
		Yesterday, I heard somebody wants to
		sue the rescue squad.  The rescue
		squad.  Because they didn't act fast
		enough.

	ANGLE ON

	NICOLE listening from her door.

				BILLY (CONT'D)
		If you two dropped the case, then
		the others would come to their
		senses

				BILLY
		and follow.  You're good sensible
		parents, you and Mary.  People
		respect you.
 






	Pause.

				SAM
		No, Billy.  We can't drop the
		lawsuit.  You know how much we need
		the money.

				BILLY
		Why?  You got money from Dolores'
		insurance with the school board.  We
		all did.

				SAM
		It's not enough.  For hospital
		bills.  For Nicole.

				BILLY
		I'll help pay for Nicole, if that's
		what you're really talking about.
		I'll even give you the money I got
		for my kids.
				(beat)
		That's what we used to do, remember?
		Help each other.  This was a
		community.

				SAM
		I'm sorry.

	BILLY stares at SAM.

				BILLY
		I used to like it here.  I used to
		care about what happened.  Now I
		think I'll sell my house and move
		the fuck away.

				MARY
		Billy, please.  The children.

				BILLY
		The children.

	BILLY looks at SAM and MARY, s strange smile on his face.
	He moves to leave.  He pauses at the door of the kitchen.

				BILLY (CONT'D)
		How is Nicole?  Is she around?

				MARY
		She's resting.  In her room.

				BILLY
		Say hello for me.
 







							  CUT TO

	EXT. BURNELL HOME -- NIGHT

	BILLY walks to his car.  SAM and MARY watch him from the
	porch/ramp.

				SAM
				(calling out)
		We're getting on with our lives,
		Billy.  Maybe it's time you got on
		with yours.

	BILLY turns around, looks at SAM one final time, then moves
	to his pick up.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME -- NIGHT

	NICOLE is watching BILLY from her window.  She is crying.

	ANGLE ON

	NICOLE'S P.O.V. of BILLY driving away.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BURNELL HOME.  NICOLE'S BEDROOM. -- NIGHT

	NICOLE is lying in her bed.  A knock at the door.  SAM
	enters the dark bedroom and sits on the bed beside her.

				SAM
		Are you sleeping?

				NICOLE
		No.

				SAM
		Nicole, tomorrow Mr. Stephens wants
		you to make your deposition at the
		courthouse.  I thought I'd take you
		over.

				NICOLE
		Great.

				SAM
		You seem...I don't know...well,
		distant, I guess.  Hard to talk to.

				NICOLE
 






		We used to talk a lot, didn't we,
		Daddy.  About all the things you
		were going to do for me.

				SAM
		What do you mean?

				NICOLE
		I mean I'm a wheelchair girl now.
		It's hard to pretend I'm a beautiful
		rock star.  Not like you used to
		tell me.  Remember, Daddy?  All the
		people that were going to discover
		me?  Where are they now?

	SAM turns away from NICOLE.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		He couldn't look at me.  But I
		looked at him.  Right at him.  His
		secret was mine now.  We used to
		share it.  But not anymore.  Now, I
		owned it completely.

				SAM
		Well, okay.  I'll take you about
		nine-thirty in the morning.  That's
		okay with you?

				NICOLE
		Great.

	Silence.  SAM gets up to leave the room.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		Before, everything had been so
		confusing.  I never knew who was to
		blame.  But now I know.  He's just a
		thief, a sneaky thief who had robbed
		his daughter.  Robbed me
		of...whatever it was that my sister
		still had and I didn't.  And then
		the accident robbed me of my body.

							  CUT TO

	INT. CAR -- DAY

	SAM and NICOLE are driving to town.  They don't exchange a
	word.

							  CUT TO
 







	EXT. COMMUNITY CENTRE. -- DAY

	SAM is carrying NICOLE up the stairs of the community
	centre.

	There is no ramp, so the wheelchair is left at the bottom.

	He is having difficulty, because NICOLE is keeping her body
	stiff and won't hold on to him.

							  CUT TO

	INT. COMMUNITY CENTRE. -- DAY

	NICOLE is wheeled across the floor of the community centre
	to a table where the depositions are being made.  MITCHELL,
	SCHWARTZ, and the STENOGRAPHER are waiting for her.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		The last time I was in the community
		hall was for the big Christmas party
		almost a year ago.  It hadn't
		changed.

							  CUT TO

	INT. COMMUNITY CENTRE. -- DAY

	The deposition.  SAM watches his daughter as she speaks
	confidently into the microphone.  The STENOGRAPHER takes
	notes.

	NICOLE is answering questions from the opposing lawyer.
	MITCHELL is also taking notes.

				SCHWARTZ
		Now on that morning, did there come
		a time, Nicole, when you left your
		parents' house?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				SCHWARTZ
		What time in the morning was this?

				NICOLE
		About eight-thirty in the morning.

				SCHWARTZ
		Was anyone waiting for the bus with
		you?
 







				NICOLE
		No.  I was alone.  My sister Jenny
		was sick and stayed home that day.

				SCHWARTZ
		Was there anything unusual about the
		driver, Dolores Driscoll, or the bus
		that particular morning?

				NICOLE
		Like what?  I mean, I don't remember
		a lot.

	ANGLE ON MITCHELL

				MITCHELL
		I object to the form of that
		question.  Note that.

				SCHWARTZ
		Was the bus on time?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				SCHWARTZ
		And where did you sit that morning?

				NICOLE
		My usual place.  On the right side.
		The first seat.

				SCHWARTZ
		And according to your recollection,
		there was nothing unusual about the
		drive that morning?

				NICOLE
		Until the accident?  No.
				(beat)
		Yes, there was.

	ANGLE ON MITCHELL

	Worried about this new information.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		It was when Sean Walker got on.  He
		was crying and didn't want to leave
		his mother.  Mason Ansel was sitting
		beside me.  I asked him to move, so
		I could quiet Sean down.  When the
		bus started up, a car came around
 






		the corner and almost hit Sean's
		mother.  She was okay, but it really
		scared Sean, because he watched it
		out the window.

				SCHWARTZ
		And was this incident caused in any
		way by anything the driver of the
		bus did?

	Pause.  MITCHELL is nervous.

				NICOLE
		No, she hadn't even started to move
		the bus.  It was the car's fault.

	MITCHELL is relieved.

				SCHWARTZ
		There was nothing reckless in Mrs.
		Driscoll's behavior?

				MITCHELL
		I object to that form of question.
		Note that.

				NICOLE
				(answering the
				question)
		No.

				SCHWARTZ
		Did there come a time when all the
		children had been picked up?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				SCHWARTZ
		You remember that much?

				NICOLE
		As I'm talking, I'm remembering more
		about it.

	MITCHELL is worried.

				MITCHELL
		Note my objection.  She said, 'As
		I'm talking.'

				SCHWARTZ
		Did there come a time when the bus
		turned off Staples Mill Road onto
 






		the Marlowe Road at what's called
		Wilmot Springs?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				NICOLE
		There was a brown dog that ran
		across the road up there, right by
		the dump, and Dolores slowed down
		not to hit him, and he ran into the
		woods.  And then Dolores drove on
		and turned onto the Marlowe road, as
		usual.  I remember that.  I'm
		remembering it pretty clearly.

				SCHWARTZ
				(eyebrows raised)
		You are?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				MITCHELL
				(worried)
		Note that she said 'pretty clearly'.
		Not 'clearly'.

				SCHWARTZ
		And what was the weather like at
		this time?

				NICOLE
		It was snowing.

				MITCHELL
		Unless the report from the National
		Weather Bureau for the district on
		January 23 goes into the record, I
		will object to that question.

				SCHWARTZ
		I will offer that report.  Well,
		then, now that your memory seems to
		be clearing, can you tell us what
		else  you observed at that time?

				NICOLE
		Before the actual accident?

				SCHWARTZ
		Yes.

	NICOLE stares at her father as she responds.
 







				NICOLE
		I was scared.

				SCHWARTZ
		Why were you scared?

				SCHWARTZ
		This is before the accident, Nicole.
		Do you understand what I'm asking?

				NICOLE
		Yes, I understand.

				SCHWARTZ
		Why were you scared?

				NICOLE
		Dolores was driving too fast.

	Silence.  MITCHELL is watching his entire case crumble.

				SCHWARTZ
		Mrs.  Driscoll was driving too fast?
		What made you think that, Nicole?

				NICOLE
		The speedometer.  And it was
		downhill there.

				SCHWARTZ
		You could see the speedometer?

				NICOLE
		Yes.  I looked.  I remember clearly
		now.  It seemed we were going too
		fast down the hill.  I was scared.

	NICOLE looks at MITCHELL, who stares back.

				SCHWARTZ
		How fast would you say Mrs. Driscoll
		was going?  To the best of your
		recollection?

				NICOLE
		Seventy-two miles an hour.

				SCHWARTZ
		Seventy-two miles an hour?  You're
		sure of this?

				NICOLE
		Positive.
 







				SCHWARTZ
		You believe that the bus driven by
		Mrs. Driscoll was going at seventy-
		two miles an hour at this time?

				NICOLE
		I told you I was positive.  The
		speedometer was large and easy to
		see from where I was.

	ANGLE ON

	The speedometer from NICOLE'S P.O.V.  It reads fifty-one
	miles an hour.

				SCHWARTZ
				(voice over)
		You saw the speedometer?

				NICOLE
		Yes.

				SCHWARTZ
		Did you say anything to Mrs.
		Driscoll?

				NICOLE
		No.

				SCHWARTZ
		Why not?

				NICOLE
		I was scared.  And there wasn't
		time.

				SCHWARTZ
		There wasn't time?

				NICOLE
		No.  Because the bus went off the
		road.  And crashed.

				SCHWARTZ
		You remember this?

				NICOLE
		Yes.  I do now.  Now that I'm
		telling it.

				MITCHELL
				(defeated)
 






		She said, 'Now that I'm telling it'.
		Note that.

				SCHWARTZ
		What do you remember about the
		accident?

				NICOLE
		I remember the bus swerved, it just
		suddenly swerved to the right, and
		it hit the guardrail and the
		snowbank on the side of the road,
		and then it went over the embankment
		there, and everyone was screaming
		and everything.  And that's all.  I
		guess I was unconscious after that.
		That's all.  Then I was in the
		hospital.

	SCHWARTZ smiles and makes some notes in his pad.  He talks
	to MITCHELL without looking up.

				SCHWARTZ
		Do you have any questions, Mr.
		Stephens?

	MITCHELL stares silently at NICOLE for a long time.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		Daddy was leaning forward in his
		chair, his mouth half open, as if he
		wanted to say something.  Like what,
		Daddy?  Like 'What about my money?'

	NICOLE and SAM stare at each other.

				MITCHELL
		I have no questions.

				SCHWARTZ
		Thank you, Nicole.

	NICOLE wheels herself away.  She passes MITCHELL.

				MITCHELL
				(in a low voice)
		You'd make a great poker player,
		kid.

	NICOLE wheels herself over to her father.

				NICOLE
		Let's go, Daddy.
 







	EXT. COMMUNITY CENTRE -- DAY

	NICOLE is in the car in front of the community centre.  She
	stares at SAM as he argues with MITCHELL on the steps.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		Daddy took a long time.  I guess he
		wanted to have a few words with you.
		He must have tried to tell you that
		I was lying.  Then you would tell
		Daddy that it didn't matter if I was
		lying or not, the lawsuit is dead.

	As NICOLE'S words are heard, her point of view of SAM and
	MITCHELL arguing is seen.

	The movement of their lips is in sync with NICOLE'S voice
	over.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		Everyone's lawsuit is dead.  Forget
		it.  Tell the others to forget it.
		It's over.  Right now, Sam, the
		thing you've got to worry about is
		why she lied.  A kid who'd do that
		to her own father is not normal,
		Sam.

	SAM comes down the stairs and enters the car, sitting down
	at the driver's seat.  NICOLE stares at him as he starts the
	car.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(voice over)
		But Daddy knows who lied.  He knows
		who the liar is.  He knows who's
		normal.

	SAM stares ahead, not knowing what to do next.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
				(speaking to SAM)
		I hope he lets us keep the computer.

	SAM turns to look at NICOLE.

				NICOLE (CONT'D)
		I'd like an ice cream.

							  CUT TO
 






	INT. AIRPORT. -- MORNING

	MITCHELL is at the baggage section of the arrival area,
	waiting for his luggage.

	He watches PETER, the man he met in the washroom changing
	his daughter, playing with the little girl.

	PETER is full of love as he swings the little girl into the
	air as she laughs.

	MITCHELL is caught in a daydream, smiling at the happy image
	of father and daughter.  ALISON approaches him.

				ALISON
		Well, it was nice meeting you again,
		Mr. Stephens.

				MITCHELL
		Mitchell.  It was nice to see you
		again, Ally.

				ALISON
		Alison.

				MITCHELL
		Alison.

				ALISON
		Say hi to Zoe.

				MITCHELL
		I will.

				ALISON
		I hope she gets better.

				MITCHELL
		I'll tell her that.

	ALISON shakes MITCHELL'S hand, and leaves.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. FAIRGROUND -- DAY

	SAM wheels NICOLE along a path away from the same concession
	stand that was seen at the beginning of the film.  NICOLE is
	licking an ice-cream cone.  Around them, people are setting
	up the bandstand.

				NICOLE
		Daddy, can we come to the fair?
 






				SAM
		Yes.

				NICOLE
		How about Sunday night?  That's
		always the best time.

				SAM
		Okay.

	NICOLE looks at a team of men constructing a ride.  A school
	bus pulls up, and a group of children spill out.  NICOLE
	watches as the driver tries to form them into a group.

				NICOLE
		What's going to happen to Dolores?

				SAM
		I don't know.

				NICOLE
		Will the police do anything to her?

				SAM
		It's too late for that.  She can't
		drive the bus anymore.  The school
		board saw to that right off.

				NICOLE
		She'll move away.

				SAM
		There's talk of that.

				NICOLE
		Someplace where no one knows her.
				(beat)
		Someplace strange and new.

	SAM is frozen.  NICOLE smiles to herself.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. AIRPORT. -- MORNING

	At the airport, in the arrivals bay, MITCHELL waits for his
	limousine.

	Across the road, a hotel minibus is parked.  The driver is
	DOLORES.  The camera settles on her face as she stares at
	MITCHELL.

	MITCHELL catches her gaze, and the two stare at each other.
 






				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		As you see each other, almost two
		years later, I wonder if you realize
		something.

	MITCHELL'S limo arrives.  He gets inside.

							  CUT TO

	INT. LIMOUSINE -- MORNING

	CLOSE-UP of MITCHELL as he stares ahead, lost in thought.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		I wonder if you realize that all of
		us - Dolores, me, the children who
		survived, the children who didn't -
		that we're all citizens of a
		different town now.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. GAS STATION -- DAY

	BILLY watches as a crane lifts the demolished schoolbus onto
	a flatbed truck.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		A town of people living in the sweet
		hereafter.

							  CUT TO

	EXT. CAR -- AFTERNOON

	NICOLE and SAM driving home from the fairground.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		Whether others defend us, protect
		us, love us or hate us - they do it
		to meet their own needs, not ours.

	The camera leaves the car to look up at the sky.

							 CUT TO

	EXT. FAIRGROUND -- DUSK

	Sunday night at the fairground.  NICOLE is staring at the
	ferris wheel.  In her imagination, the swinging cars of the
 






	slowly turning wheel are full of children.  The laughter and
	noise is haunting.

	NICOLE smiles as she stares at this private apparition.

				NICOLE
				(voice over)
		This is what I learned.  This is
		what I found out.

							  CUT TO

	INT. BILLY'S HOUSE. JESSICA AND MASON'S BEDROOM. -- NIGHT

	NICOLE has just finished reading a story to JESSICA and
	MASON.  The children are asleep.  NICOLE puts the book down,
	and kisses the two sleeping children on the cheek.

	NICOLE gets up to leave the bedroom, leaving the door
	slightly open.

	Light spills in from the hallway.







	The End					October, 1996