1. EXT: DAY. ELEVATED SUBWAY TRAIN
Against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, we see an elevated
subway train heading toward Brooklyn.
After a moment, we begin to hear voices. An animated discussion is
taking place inside the Brooklyn Cigar Company.
2. INT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
The cigar shop from within. Displays of cigar boxes, a wall of
magazines, piles of newspapers. cigarettes, smoking paraphernalia. On
the walls, we see framed black-and-white photographs of people smoking
cigars: Groucho Marx, George Burns, Clint Eastwood, Edward G. Robinson,
Orson Welles, Charles Laughton, Frankenstein's monster, Leslie Caron,
Words appear on the screen: "SUMMER 1990."
AUGGIE WREN is behind the counter. Somewhere between forty and fifty
years old, AUGGIE is a scruffy presence: unkempt hair, a two-day
stubble of beard, dressed in blue jeans and a black T-shirt. We see an
intricate tattoo on one arm.
It is a slow hour. AUGGIE is flipping through a photography magazine.
Near the counter are the three OTB MEN. These are local characters who
like to hang out in the store, shooting the breeze with AUGGIE. One is
black (TOMMY) and the other two are white (JERRY and DENNIS). DENNIS
wears a T-shirt with the following words printed across the front: "If
life is a dream, what happens when I wake up?"
I'll tell you why they're not going anywhere.
Yeah? And why is that?
Management. Those guys are walking around with
their heads up their asses.
They made some great deals. Tommy. Hernandez.
Carter. Without those two, there never woulda
been no World Series.
That was four years ago. I'm talking about now.
(Growing more intense)
Look who they got rid of. Mitchell. Backman.
McDowell. Dykstra. Aguillera. Mookie. Mookie
Wilson, for Chrissakes.
(Shakes his head)
And Nolan Ryan. Don't forget him.
Yeah. And Amos Otis.
Okay, joke about it. I don't give a shit.
Jesus, Tommy, it ain't science, you know. You
got your good trades and your bad trades.
That's how it works.
They didn't have to do a thing, that's all I'm
saying. The team was good, the best fucking
team in baseball. But then they had to screw it
They traded their birthright for a mess of
(Shakes his head)
A mess of porridge.
The bells on the door jangle as someone enters. It is AUGGIE'S protégé,
JIMMY ROSE, a mentally retarded man in his late twenties. He has been
sweeping the sidewalk outside the store and holds a broom in his right
How'd you do out there, Jimmy?
Good, Auggie. Real good.
(Proudly thrusts out broom)
It'll never be finished.
That's how it is with sidewalks. People come,
people go, and they all drop shit on the
ground. As soon as you clean up one spot and
move on to the next, the first spot is dirty
(Trying to digest AUGGIE'S comment)
I just do what you tell me, Auggie. You tell me
to sweep, so I sweep.
The bells on the door jangle again, and a customer enters the store: a
middle-class man in his early thirties. He walks to the counter as
JERRY teases JIMMY. In the background, we see him talking to AUGGIE.
AUGGIE pulls some cigar boxes out of the display case and puts them on
the counter for the YOUNG MAN to inspect. In the foreground we see:
Hey, Jimmy. You got the time?
(Turning to the SECOND OTB MAN)
You still have that watch Auggie gave you?
(Holds up left wrist showing
cheap digital watch. Smiles)
So what's the time?
(Pause, marveling as
the numbers change)
(Looks up, smiling)
A sudden outburst is heard from the area near the counter.
The focus of the scene shifts to AUGGIE and the YOUNG MAN.
They don't come cheap, son. These little honeys
are works of art. Rolled by hand in a tropical
climate, most likely by an eighteen year old
girl in a thin cotton dress with no underwear
on. Little beads of sweat forming in her naked
cleavage. The smooth, delicate fingers nimbly
turning out one masterpiece after another...
And how much are these?
Seventy-eight dollars. The girl who rolled these
was probably wearing panties.
Fifty-six. That girl had on a corset.
Forty-four. They're on special this week from
the Canary Islands. A real bargain.
I think I'll take them.
(Takes wallet from his pocket
and counts out $50 which he
hands to AUGGIE)
A good choice. You wouldn't want to celebrate
the birth of your firstborn with a box of
stinkers, would you? Remember to keep them in
the refrigerator until you hand them out.
It'll keep them fresh. If they get too dry,
they'll break. And you don't want that to
happen, do you?
(Putting cigar box into a bag,
ringing up sale on the cash register)
Tobacco is a plant, and it needs the same
loving care you'd give an orchid.
Thanks for the tip.
Any time. And congratulations to you and your
wife. Just remember, though, in the immortal
words of Rudyard Kipling: "A woman is just a
woman, but a cigar is a smoke.
What does that mean?
Damned if I know. But it has a nice ring to it,
At that moment, we hear the bells on the door jangle again. Cut to the
door. Another customer enters the store: PAUL BENJAMIN. He is in his
early forties, dressed in rumpled casual clothes. As he approaches the
counter, the YOUNG MAN brushes past him and leaves the store. The OTB
MEN and JIMMY look on as PAUL and AUGGIE talk.
Hey, Auggie. How's it going?
Hey, man. Good to see you. What'll it be today?
Two tins of Schimmelpennincks. And throw in a
lighter while you're at it.
(Reaching for cigars and lighter)
The boys and I were just having a philosophical
discussion about women and cigars. Some
interesting connections there, don't you think?
I suppose it all goes back to Queen Elizabeth.
The Queen of England?
Not Elizabeth the Second, Elizabeth the First.
Did you ever hear of Sir Walter Raleigh?
Sure. He's the guy who threw his cloak down
over the puddle.
I used to smoke Raleigh cigarettes. They came
with a free gift coupon in every pack.
That's the man. Well, Raleigh was the person
who introduced tobacco in England, and since he
was a favorite of the Queen's -- Queen Bess, he
used to call her -- smoking caught on as a
fashion at court. I'm sure Old Bess must have
shared a stogie or two with Sir Walter. Once,
he made a bet with her that he could measure
the weight of smoke.
You mean, weigh smoke?
Exactly. Weigh smoke.
You can't do that. It's like weighing air.
I admit it's strange. Almost like weighing
someone's soul. But Sir Walter was a clever
guy. First, he took an unsmoked cigar and put
it on a balance and weighed it. Then he lit up
and smoked the cigar, carefully tapping the
ashes into the balance pan. When he was
finished, he put the butt into the pan along
with the ashes and weighed what was there.
Then he subtracted that number from the
original weight of the unsmoked cigar. The
difference was the weight of the smoke.
Not bad. That's the kind of guy we need to take
over the Mets.
Oh, he was smart, all right. But not so smart
that he didn't wind up having his head chopped
off twenty years later.
But that's another story.
(Handing PAUL his change and putting
cigar tins and lighter in a paper bag)
Seven eighty-five out of twenty.
(As PAUL turns to leave)
Take care of yourself now, and don't do
anything I wouldn't do.
I wouldn't think of it.
(Waves casually to the OTB MEN)
See you around, fellas.
AUGGIE and the OTB MEN watch as PAUL leaves the store.
(Turning to AUGGIE)
What is he, some kind of wise guy?
Nah. He's a good kid.
I've seen him around. He comes in here a lot,
Couple of times a week, maybe. He's a writer.
Lives in the neighborhood.
And what kind of writer is he? An underwriter?
Very funny. Some of the cracks you make. Tommy,
sometimes I think you should see a doctor. You
know, go in for some wit therapy or something.
To clean out the valves in your brain.
(A little embarrassed. Shrugs)
It was just a joke.
The guy's a novelist. Paul Benjamin. You ever
hear of him?
That's a stupid question. The only things you
guys read is the Racing Form and pages of the
He's published three or four books. But
nothing now for the past few years.
What's the matter? He run out of ideas?
He ran out of luck.
Remember that holdup out here on Seventh Avenue
few years back?
You talking about the bank? The time those two
guys started spraying bullets all over the
That's it. Four people got killed. One of them
was Paul's wife.
The poor lug, he hasn't been the same since.
The funny thing was, she stopped in here just
before it happened. To stock up on cigars for
him. She was a nice lady, Ellen. Four or five
months pregnant at the time, which means that
when she was killed, the baby was killed, too.
Bad day at Black Rock, eh, Auggie?
Close-up of AUGGIE'S face. Remembering.
It was bad, all right. I sometimes think that
if she hadn't given me exact change that day,
or if the store had been a little more crowded,
it would have taken her a few more seconds to
get out of here, and then maybe she wouldn't
have stepped in front of that bullet. She'd
still be alive, the baby would have been born,
and Paul would be sitting at home writing
another book instead of wandering the streets
with a hangover.
(Pensive, his expression suddenly
turns to one of alarm)
Cut to white youth in the corner of the store, shoving paperback books
into the pockets of his tattered army fatigue jacket.
Hey! What are you doing there, kid? Hey, cut
AUGGIE scrambles out from behind the counter, pushing his way past the
OTB MEN as the kid takes off and runs out of the store.
3. EXT: DAY. SEVENTH AVENUE
AUGGIE chases the BOOK THIEF down the street. Eventually, he gets
winded and gives up. He pauses for a moment to catch his breath, then
turns around and heads back in the direction of the store.
4. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT. A BROWNSTONE BUILDING IN PARK SLOPE
Shot of a little brown cigar, burning in an ashtray.
The camera pulls back to reveal PAUL at his desk. He is writing in
longhand, using a pad of yellow legal paper. An old Smith-Corona
typewriter is also on the desk, poised for work with a half-written
page in the roller. Off in the corner, we see a neglected word
The workroom is a bare and simple place. Desk, chair, and a small
wooden bookcase with manuscripts and papers shoved onto its shelves.
The window faces a brick wall.
As PAUL continues to write, the camera travels from the workroom into
the larger of the two rooms that make up his apartment.
This larger room is an all-purpose space that includes a sleeping area,
a kitchenette in one corner, a dining table and a large easy chair.
Crowded bookshelves occupy one wall from floor to ceiling. The bow
windows face front, looking down onto the street. Near the bed, we see
a framed photograph of a young woman. (This is Ellen, Paul's dead
The camera travels back into the workroom. We see PAUL at work. Fade
Fade in. We see PAUL at his desk, eating a TV dinner while still
writing in the pad. After a moment, he inadvertently knocks the food
off the desk with his elbow. He begins to bend over to pick up the
food, but as he does so a new idea suddenly occurs to him. Instead of
cleaning up the mess, he turns back to his pad and continues writing.
5 EXT: DAY. IN FRONT OF THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
We see PAUL walking out of the cigar store. JIMMY ROSE is on the
corner, observing him throughout the scene. PAUL takes three or four
steps, then realizes he has forgotten something. He goes back into the
store. During his brief absence, JIMMY remains on the corner, imitating
PAUL'S gestures: patting in pockets, looking puzzled, realizing that he
has forgotten the cigars he just bought.
PAUL comes out again a moment later, holding a tin of Schimmelpenninck
cigars. He pauses, takes a cigar out of the tin, and lights up. He
continues walking, obviously distracted. He stops briefly at a corner,
then steps out into the street, paying no attention to the traffic. A
speeding tow truck is rushing toward the intersection. At the last
second, a black hand reaches out, grabs PAUL by the arm, and pulls him
back to the curb. If not for that timely move, PAUL would surely have
been run down.
We see PAUL'S rescuer: it is RASHID COLE, a black adolescent of sixteen
or seventeen. He is tall and well built for his age. A nylon backpack
is slung over his left shoulder.
Watch out, man. You'll get yourself killed like
(Badly shaken, still
clinging to RASHID'S arm)
I can't believe I did that ... Christ. I'm
walking around in a fog ...
No harm done. Everything's okay now.
(Looks down and notices that he and
PAUL are still gripping each other's
arms. Tries to pull away)
I've got to be going.
(Still rattled. Begins to loosen grip,
then grabs hold of RASHID'S again)
No, wait. You can't just walk off.
You saved my life.
I just happened to be there. The right place
at the right time.
(Relaxes grip on RASHID'S arm)
I owe you something.
It's okay, mister. No big deal.
Yes it is. It's a law of the universe. If I let
you walk away, the moon will spin out of orbit
... pestilence will reign over the city for a
(Mystified, amused. Smiles faintly)
Well, if you put it that way...
You have to let me do something for you to put
the scales in balance.
(Thinks, shakes his head)
That's all right. If I think of something, I'll
send my butler over to tell you.
Come on. At least let me buy you a cup of
I don't drink coffee.
On the other hand, since you insist, if you
offered me a cold lemonade. I wouldn't say no.
Good. Lemonade it is.
(Pause. Extends right hand)
Rashid. Rashid Cole.
(Shakes PAUL'S hand)
6. INT: DAY. GREEK DINER IN PARK SLOPE
PAUL and RASHID are sitting in a booth. The restaurant is nearly empty.
We see RASHID finishing his second lemonade.
(Watching RASHID drink)
Are you sure you don't want some food to go
along with it? It might help to absorb some of
that liquid. You don't want to slosh around
too much when you stand up.
That's okay. I've already had lunch.
(Looks at clock on wall)
You must eat lunch pretty early. It's only
I mean breakfast.
(Studying RASHID closely)
Yeah, sure, and I bet you had lobster last
night. Along with two bottles of champagne.
Just one bottle. I believe in moderation.
Look, kid, it's okay with me. You don't have to
play games. If you want a hamburger or
something, go ahead and order it.
Well, maybe just one. To be polite.
(Turning to WAITRESS. She comes)
Cocktail hour is over. The young man would
like to order a hamburger.
How do you want that cooked?
Medium rare, please.
(Looks at PAUL. PAUL nods)
Lettuce and tomato?
(Looks at PAUL. PAUL nods)
(Pointing to RASHID'S empty
You want another one of these, too?
Yeah, give him another one. And I'll take a cup
of coffee while you're at it.
Hot coffee or iced coffee?
Do you have real iced coffee, or do you just
pour hot coffee over some ice cubes?
Everything is real in here, honey.
As real as the color of my hair.
PAUL and RASHID look at her hair. It is dyed bright red.
I'll take the iced coffee.
You only live once, right?
If you're lucky.
Then again, it depends on what you call living.
(She walks off)
I don't mean to pry, but I see a kid walking
around with a big knapsack on his back, and I
begin to wonder if all his worldly possessions
aren't stowed in there. Are you in some kind of
trouble or what?
(Keeping up his pose)
You don't have to tell me if you don't want to,
but I might be able to help.
You don't know me from a hole in the wall.
That's true. But I also owe you something, and
I'm not sure that buying you a hamburger is
going to do the job.
What is it? Family problems? Money problems?
(Imitating white upper-class accent)
Oh no. Momsie and Popsie have oodles.
And where do Momsie and Popsie live?
East Seventy-fourth Street.
Of course. Where else?
Then what are you doing in Park Slope? It's a
little far from home, isn't it?
(Beginning to relent)
That's where the what comes in.
I've kind of run away from home, you see.
It has nothing to do with my parents or money.
I saw something I wasn't supposed to see, and
for the time being it's best that I keep myself
out of sight.
You can't be more specific than that?
RASHID looks at PAUL, hesitates, then lowers his eyes.
(Pause. Decides not to press him)
So where have you been staying in the meantime?
Here and there. Around.
Uh-huh. One of those cozy bed and breakfast
Yeah, that's right.
Except that there's no bed, is there? And no
The material world is an illusion. It doesn't
matter if they're there or not. The world is in
But your body is in the world, isn't it?
If someone offered you a place to stay, you
wouldn't necessarily refuse, would you?
People don't do that kind of thing. Not in New
I'm not "people." I'm just me. And I do
whatever I goddamn want to do. Got it?
Thanks, but I'll manage.
In case you're wondering, I like women, not
little boys. And I'm not offering you a
long-term lease -- just a place to crash for a
couple of nights.
I can take care of myself. Don't worry.
Suit yourself. But if you change your mind,
here's the address.
(Takes out a pad from his pocket and
scribbles down the address. Tears
sheet from the pad and hands it to
The WAITRESS arrives with their orders.
One burger medium rare with lettuce and tomato.
(Setting down plate in front of RASHID)
One order of fries.
(Setting down plate)
(Setting down glass)
And one dose of reality.
(Setting down iced coffee
in front of PAUL)
PAUL looks on as RASHID picks up hamburger and takes his first bite.
7. INT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
A slow hour. AUGGIE is sitting behind the counter, looking through a
magazine and eating a slice of pizza for lunch. VINNIE enters the
frame. He is the owner of the store: a large man in his fifties.
Okay. I think everything's set.
(Lights up cigar)
You've got the number for Cape Cod, right? Just
in case something goes wrong.
(Chewing pizza; not looking
up from magazine)
No problem, Vinnie. Everything's under control.
(Finally looking up)
I could run this store in my sleep.
How long you been working for me, Auggie?
(Shrugs, looks down at magazine again)
I don't know. Thirteen, fourteen years.
Something like that.
It's pretty crazy, don't you think? I mean, a
smart guy like you. What do you want to hang
on to a dead-end job like this for?
I don't know.
(Turns pages of magazine)
Maybe because I love you so much, boss.
Shit. You should have been married to someone
by now. You know, settled down somewhere with a
kid or two, a nice steady job.
I almost got married once.
Yeah, I know. To that girl who moved to
Ruby McNutt. My one true love.
Sounds like another one of your stories to me.
(Shakes his head)
She upped and married some other cat after I
joined the navy. By the time I got my
discharge, though, she was divorced. Her
husband poked out her eye in a domestic
(Puffing on his cigar)
She made a play for me after I got back, but
her glass eye kept interfering with my
concentration. Every time we got into a clinch,
I'd start thinking about that hole in her head,
that empty socket with the glass eye in it. An
eye that couldn't see, an eye that couldn't
shed any tears. The minute I started thinking
about it, Mr. Johnson would get all soft and
small. And I can't see getting married if Mr.
Johnson isn't going to be in tiptop shape.
(Shaking his head)
You don't take anything seriously, do you?
I try not to, anyway. It's better for your
health. I mean, look at you, Vincent. You're
the guy with the wife and three kids and the
ranch house on Long Island. You're the guy with
the white shoes and the white Caddy and the
white shag carpet. But you've had two heart
attacks, and I'm still waiting for my first.
(Takes cigar out of his mouth
and looks at it with disgust)
I should stop smoking these damn things is what
I should do. The fuckers are going to kill me
Enjoy it while you can, Vin. Pretty soon,
they're going to legislate us out of business
They catch you smoking tobacco, they'll stand
you up against a wall and shoot you.
Tobacco today, sex tomorrow. In three or four
years, it'll probably be against the law to
smile at strangers.
Speaking of which, are you still going ahead
with that deal on the Montecristos?
It's all set. My guy in Miami said he'd have
them within the next few weeks.
Are you sure you don't want to go in with me?
Five thousand dollars outlay, a guaranteed
ten-thousand-dollar return. A consortium of
Court Street lawyers and judges. They're just
drooling to get their lips around some genuine
No thanks. I don't care what you do, but just
make sure you don't get caught, okay? The last
I heard, it was still illegal to sell Cuban
cigars in this country.
It's the law that's buying. That's what's so
beautiful about it. I mean, when was the last
time you heard of a judge sending himself to
Suit yourself. But don't keep the boxes around
They come in, they go out. I've got it planned
to the last detail.
(Looking at his watch)
I've got to get moving. Terry will bust my
chops if I'm late. See you in September,
Okay, my man. Love to the wife and kids, et
cetera, et cetera. Drop me a postcard if you
can remember the address.
VINNIE leaves. AUGGIE turns back to his pizza and magazine.
8. EXT: EVENING. FACADE OF THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
A shot of the darkening sky. A shot of the cigar store. We see the
lights go out. AUGGIE comes outside, locks the door, and begins pulling
down the metal gate in front of the windows. Cut to:
A shot of PAUL running down the street toward AUGGIE.
(Out of breath)
Are you closed?
You run out of Schimmelpennincks?
Do you think I could buy some before you leave?
No problem. It's not as though I'm rushing off
to the opera or anything.
AUGGIE lifts the gate and the two of them go into the store.
9. INT: EVENING. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
PAUL and AUGGIE enter the darkened store. AUGGIE turns on the lights
and then goes behind the counter to fetch PAUL'S cigars. PAUL, on the
other side, notices a 35-millimeter camera near the cash register.
Looks like someone forgot a camera.
Yeah, I did.
It's mine all right. I've owned that little
sucker for a long time.
I didn't know you took pictures.
(Handing PAUL his cigars)
I guess you could call it a hobby. It doesn't
take me more than about five minutes a day to
do it, but I do it every day. Rain or shine,
sleet or snow. Sort of like the postman.
Sometimes it feels like my hobby is my real job,
and my job is just a way to support my hobby.
So you're not just some guy who pushes coins
across a counter.
That's what people see, but that ain't
necessarily what I am.
(Looking at AUGGIE with new eyes)
How'd you get started?
It's a long story. I'd need two or three drinks
to get through that one.
A photographer ...
Well, let's not exaggerate. I take pictures.
You line up what you want in the viewfinder and
click the shutter. No need to mess around with
all that artisto crap.
I'd like to see your pictures some day.
It can be arranged. Seeing as how I've read
your books. I don't see why I shouldn't share
my pictures with you.
(Pause. Suddenly embarrassed)
It would be an honor.
10. INT: NIGHT. AUGGIE'S APARTMENT
AUGGIE and PAUL are sitting at the kitchen table, opened boxes of
Chinese food pushed to one side. Most of the surface of the table is
covered with large black photograph albums. There are fourteen in all,
and the spine of each one is labeled with a year -- ranging from 1977
to 1990. One of these albums (1987) is open on PAUL'S lap.
Close-up of one of the pages in the album. There are six
black-and-white photos on the page, each one of an identical scene: the
corner of 3rd Street and Seventh Avenue at eight o'clock in the
morning. In the upper right-hand corner of each photo, there is a small
white label bearing the date: 8-9-87, 8-10-87, 8-11-87, etc. PAUL'S
hand turns the page; we see six more similar photographs. He turns the
page again: same thing. And again: same thing.
They're all the same.
That's right. More than four thousand pictures
of the same place. The corner of 3rd Street and
Seventh Avenue at eight o'clock in the morning.
Four thousand straight days in all kinds of
That's why I can never take a vacation. I've
got to be in my spot every morning. Every
morning in the same spot at the same time.
(At a loss. Turns a page,
then another page)
I've never seen anything like it.
It's my project. What you'd call my life's
(Puts down the album and picks up
another. Flips through the pages and
finds more of the same. Shakes his
head in bafflement)
(Trying to be polite)
I'm not sure I get it, though. I mean, how did
you ever come up with the idea to do this ...
I don't know, it just came to me. It's my
corner, after all. It's just one little part of
the world, but things happen there, too, just
like everywhere else. It's a record of my
(Flipping through the album,
still shaking his head)
It's kind of overwhelming.
You'll never get it if you don't slow down,
What do you mean?
I mean, you're going too fast. You're hardly
even looking at the pictures.
But they're all the same.
They're all the same, but each one is different
from every other one. You've got your bright
mornings and your dark mornings. You've got
your summer light and your autumn light. You've
got your weekdays and your weekends. You've
got your people in overcoats and galoshes,
and you've got your people in shorts and
T-shirts. Sometimes the same people,
sometimes different ones. And sometimes the
different ones become the same, and the same
ones disappear. The earth revolves around the
sun, and every day the light from the sun hits
the earth at a different angle.
(Looks up from the album at AUGGIE)
Slow down, huh?
Yeah, that's what I'd recommend. You know how
it is. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, time
creeps on its petty pace.
Close-ups of the photo album. One by one, a single picture occupies the
entire screen. AUGGIE'S project unfolds before us. One picture follows
another: the same place at the same time at different moments of the
year. Close-ups of different faces within the close-ups. The same
people appear in different pictures, sometimes looking into the camera,
sometimes looking away. Dozens of stills. Finally, we come to a
close-up of Ellen, PAUL'S dead wife.
Close-up of PAUL'S face.
Jesus, look. It's Ellen.
The camera pulls away. AUGGIE leans over PAUL'S shoulder. We see PAUL'S
finger pointing to Ellen's face.
Yeah. There she is. She's in quite a few from
that year. She must have been on her way to
(Moved, on the point of tears)
It's Ellen. Look at her. Look at my sweet
11. INT: NIGHT. PAUL'S APARTMENT
We see PAUL scribbling furiously in his legal pad, lost in his work.
Behind him, we see ten or twelve index cards pinned to the wall. The
cards are covered with writing. One of them reads: "The woman with
brown hair and blue eyes." Another one reads: "The mind is led on, step
by step, to defeat its own logic." A third one reads: "Remember the
PAUL stands up from his desk, goes over to the wall, pulls off one of
the cards, and studies it as he returns to his desk. An instant later,
he begins writing again.
The intercom buzzer sings loudly in the other room. PAUL continues to
work, oblivious to the noise. The buzzer sounds again. PAUL puts down
(Under his breath)
(He stands up from his chair, walks
to the other room, and presses the
"talk" button on the intercom)
Who is it?
VOICE FROM THE INTERCOM
VOICE FROM THE INTERCOM
Rashid Cole. The lemonade kid, remember?
(Without much enthusiasm)
Come on up.
(Pushes "door" button the intercom)
PAUL walks to the door and opens it, peering into the hall as he waits
for RASHID to arrive. A moment later, RASHID appears -- dressed as
before, the backpack slung over his shoulder. He appears awkward, ill
I didn't expect to see you again.
(Making the best of it)
Same here. But I had a long talk with my
accountant this afternoon. You know, to see how
a move like this would affect my tax picture,
and he said it would be okay.
PAUL studies him with a mixture of bafflement and curiosity, but
doesn't answer. RASHID puts down his bag and begins looking around the
apartment. After a moment:
That's it. Just the two rooms.
(Continuing to study
his new surroundings)
This is the first house I've been in without a
I used to have one, but it broke a couple of
years ago and I never got around to replacing
I'd just as soon not have one anyway. I hate
those damn things.
But then you don't get to watch the ball games.
You told me you were a Mets fan.
I listen on the radio. I can see the games just
fine that way.
The world is in your head, remember?
(Smiles. Continues to walk around. Sees
a small pen-and-ink drawing hanging on
the wall above the stereo cabinet: the
head of a small child. He stops to
Nice drawing. Did you do that?
My father did. Believe it or not, that little
baby is me.
(Studying the drawing more carefully.
Turns to look at PAUL, then turns
back to the drawing)
Yeah, I can believe it.
It's strange, though, isn't it? Looking at
yourself before you knew who you were.
Is your father an artist?
No, he was a schoolteacher. But he liked to
Twelve, thirteen years ago.
Actually, he died with his sketch pad open on
his lap. Up in the Berkshires one weekend,
drawing a picture of Mount Greylock.
(Studying the picture, nodding
his head. As if to himself)
Drawing's a good thing.
Is that what you do? Draw pictures?
(Shrugs, as if suddenly embarrassed)
I like to dabble, too.
12. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
Two hours later. We see PAUL writing at his desk in the workroom. After
a moment, he stands up and opens the double doors a crack. From PAUL'S
POV: we see RASHID sitting at the table in the main room, head resting
on his arms, asleep. The backpack is still where he put it down in the
13. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
8:00 in the morning. PAUL is sitting at the dining table drinking
coffee. He looks at his watch, puts down the cup, walks to the workroom
door, opens it, pokes head inside. Shot of RASHID asleep on the floor;
shot of the typewriter and legal pad on the desk. PAUL closes the door,
sighs, returns to the other room and pours himself another cup of
coffee. Looks at his watch. Close-up of the watch: dissolve from 8:05
to 8:35. PAUL puts down the cup, stands up, walks to the workroom door,
Time to wake up.
(Waits, listens, knocks again)
Hey, kid, time to wake up.
(Waits, listens, knocks again)
(Opens door. RASHID is
groggily opening his eyes)
Up and out. I have to work in here. The slumber
party is over.
(Sitting up, rubbing his eyes)
What time is it?
(Appalled by early hour)
You'll find juice and eggs and milk in the
refrigerator. Cereal in the cupboard. Coffee
on the stove. Take whatever you want. But it's
time for me to get started in here.
RASHID stands up, embarrassed. He is dressed in underpants only. He
rolls up the sleeping bag and pushes it to one side, then he gathers up
his clothes and hustles out of the room.
14. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
Twenty minutes later. PAUL is sitting at his desk, staring at his
typewriter. A loud noise comes from the other room: the clatter of
dishes being put into the sink. PAUL stands up, walks to the door,
opens it. He sees RASHID, now fully dressed, picking up the telephone
next to the bed. He sees RASHID'S knapsack opened; a brown paper bag is
sitting next to it. He watches RASHID dial a number.
(In a low voice)
May I speak to Emily Vail, please? Yes, thank
you, I'll wait.
(Silence, three or four beats. RASHID
fiddles with a pillow on the bed)
Aunt Em? Hi, it's me. I just wanted you to know
(Pause, as he listens. The response from
the other end is an angry one)
I know, I'm sorry.
(Pause, as he listens)
I just didn't want you to worry about me.
(Silence, as he listens. Begins to show
irritation with Aunt Em's hostility)
Just cool it, okay? Take it easy.
(Click on the other end. He stares at the
receiver for a moment, then hangs up)
PAUL closes the door quietly. RASHID does not know he has been
observed. Cut back to PAUL in workroom. He sits down at his desk,
thinks for a moment, then begins typing.
15. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
Several hours later. With the sounds of PAUL'S typing continuing to
come from the workroom, we see RASHID stand on a chair next to the
bookcase in the larger room and deposit the brown paper bag behind the
books on one of the upper shelves.
16. INT: NIGHT. PAUL'S APARTMENT
A shot of RASHID asleep in PAUL'S bed. Lying next to him on the bed is
an open, half-read copy of one of PAUL'S books: The Mysterious
Barricades by Paul Benjamin.
Cut to a shot of PAUL sleeping on the floor of the workroom.
17. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
PAUL is in his workroom, sitting at his desk, typing. We see more index
cards pinned to the wall. PAUL hears a loud crash from the other room.
He pops up from his desk, exasperated, then walks to the door and opens
it. Shot of the other room: RASHID is standing there, looking down at
Jesus, do you make a lot of noise. Can't you
see I'm trying to work?
I'm sorry. They just... they just slipped out
of my hands.
A little less clumsiness around here would be
nice, don't you think?
I'm a teenager. All teenagers are clumsy. It's
because we're still growing. We don't know
where our bodies end and the world begins.
The world is going to end pretty soon if you
don't learn fast.
(Pause. PAUL reaches into his pocket and
pulls out his wallet, then removes a
Look, why not make yourself useful? I'm just
about out of smokes. Go around the corner to
the Brooklyn Cigar Company and buy me two tins
of Schimmelpenninck Medias.
(Hands the bill to RASHID)
(Taking the bill)
Twenty dollars is a lot of money. Are you sure
you can trust me with it? I mean, aren't you
afraid I might steal it?
If you want to steal it, that's your business.
At least I won't have you around here making
It might be worth it.
RASHID, visibly hurt by PAUL'S remark, puts the money in his pocket.
For once, he is unable to come up with a quick retort.
RASHID walks out of the apartment. PAUL watches the door slam. Slight
pause, then he bends down and starts picking up the broken dishes.
18. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
The workroom. A few minutes later. PAUL returns to his desk and begins
to type. Almost immediately, the ribbon jams. He lets out a groan, then
opens the typewriter to inspect the damage.
19. EXT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO., AS SEEN FROM ACROSS THE STREET
Eight o'clock in the morning. We see AUGGIE on the corner, getting
ready to take his daily photograph. Cut to the corner as seen through
the lens of the camera. Hustle and bustle, people on their way to work.
Automobile traffic, buses, delivery trucks. We hear the shutter click.
The picture freezes.
20. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
The workroom. PAUL is sitting at his desk, writing. A loud crash from
the other room punctuates the silence. He jumps in his chair.
He stands up, goes to the door, opens it. Shot of RASHID standing
precariously on the arm of a chair, his right hand groping behind the
books on the top shelf of the bookcase. Several books have already
fallen to the floor.
Jesus Christ. Are you at it again?
RASHID turns at the sound of PAUL'S voice, momentarily losing his
balance. As he grabs hold of the bookcase again to steady himself, more
books fall off the shelf and come tumbling to the floor. An instant
later, he lands on the floor as well.
What is it with you, anyway? You're like a
human wrecking ball.
(Climbing to his feet. Ashamed)
I'm sorry. I'm really sorry... I was trying to
reach for one of the books up there ...
And then, I don't know, the sky fell on top of
(With growing irritation)
It just won't do, will it? I go two and a half
years without being able to write a word, and
then, when I finally get started on something,
when it looks as though I might actually be
coming to life again, you show up and start
breaking everything in my house. It just won't
do, will it?
I didn't ask to come here. You invited me,
If you want me to leave, all you have to do is
How long have you been here?
And how long did I tell you you could stay?
Two or three nights.
It sounds like our time is up, doesn't it?
(Looking down at floor)
I'm sorry I messed up. You've been very kind to
(Walks toward the bed, picks up the
backpack from the floor, and begins
stuffing his things into it)
But all good things have to come to an end,
No hard feelings, okay? It's a small place,
and I can't get my work done with you around.
You don't have to apologize.
The coast is probably clear now anyway.
Are you going to be all right?
Absolutely. The world is my oyster.
Whatever that means.
(He looks up at the bookshelf, studying
the spot where the bag is hidden. He
makes a quick, resolute decision to
leave the bag where it is)
Do you need some money? Some extra clothes?
Not a penny, not a stitch. I'm cool, man.
(Hoists the backpack over his shoulder,
begins walking toward the door)
(a little stunned by
Take good care of yourself, okay?
You too. And make sure the light is green
before you cross the street.
(Reaches for the doorknob, opens
the door, hesitates, turns around)
Oh, by the way, I liked your book. I think
you're a hell of a good writer.
(Without waiting for a response, he
opens the door again and leaves)
Shot of PAUL standing alone in the middle of the room. He walks to the
window and looks outside. Shot of the street below. After three or four
seconds, RASHID emerges from the building. Without glancing back, he
begins walking down the street.
Cut to PAUL standing at the window. He lights up a cigar. Cut back to
the street. RASHID has disappeared. An instant later, a blind man
comes walking around the corner, tapping his white cane on the
21. INT: NIGHT. AUGGIE'S APARTMENT
The windows are open and traffic noises can be heard from the street
AUGGIE alone. Jazz is playing on his tape machine. He takes a TV dinner
out of the oven, then sits down at the kitchen table and begins to eat.
Fade in. The meal is over. AUGGIE pours himself a shot of bourbon. He
drinks it down in one swallow and smacks his lips, exhaling loudly.
Stares blankly ahead of him for a moment. Then he reaches for a
paperback copy of Crime and Punishment open on the table. As he finds
his place in the book, he lights a cigarette. After one or two puffs,
he begins to cough: a deep, rattling, prolonged smoker's cough. He
pounds his chest. It doesn't help. He stands up, banging the table as
the coughing fit continues. He begins to stagger around the kitchen,
cursing between breaths. In his rage, he sweeps everything off the
table: glass, bottle, book, remnants of the TV dinner. The cough
subsides, then starts up again. He grabs hold of the kitchen sink and
spits into the basin.
22. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
The main room. We hear the sound of PAUL typing. A loud, insistent
banging is heard at the front door. Cut to PAUL opening the door.
RASHID'S AUNT EM is standing in the hall. She is a black woman of about
forty, dressed in clothes that suggest she works in an office.
Is your name Paul Benjamin?
What can I do for you?
(Barging into the apartment)
I just want to know what your game is, mister,
(Horrified. Watching her as she
charges around the room)
How the hell did you get into the building?
What do you mean, how'd I get in? I pushed the
door and walked in. What do you think?
(Muttering to himself)
The damn lock's broken again.
(Pause, as he returns
AUNT EM'S glare. Louder)
And so you just barge in on strangers, is that
what you do? Is that your game?
I'm looking for my nephew, Thomas.
Thomas? Who's Thomas?
Don't give me any of that. I know he's been
here. You can't fool me, mister.
I'm telling you. I don't know anyone named
Thomas Cole. Thomas Jefferson Cole. My nephew.
You mean Rashid?
Rashid? Rashid! Is that what he told you his
Well, whatever his name is, he's not here
anymore. He left two days ago, and I haven't
heard from him since.
And what was he doing here in the first place?
That's what I want to know. What's a man like
you messing around with a black boy like
Thomas for? Are you some kind of pervert, or
Look, lady, that's enough. If you don't calm
down. I'm going to throw you out. Do you hear
me? Right now!
(Getting a grip on herself)
I just want to know where he is.
As far as I know, he went back to his parents.
His parents? Is that what he told you? His
That's what he said. He told me he lived with
his mother and father on East Seventy-fourth
(Defeated, shaking her head)
I always knew that boy had an imagination, but
now he's gone and made up a whole new life for
Do you mind if I sit down?
(PAUL gestures to a
chair; she sits down)
He's been living with me and his uncle Henry
since he was a baby. And we don't live in
Manhattan. We live in Boerum Hill. In the
He doesn't go to the Trinity School?
He goes to John Jay High School in Brooklyn.
(Beginning to show concern)
And his parents?
His mother's dead, and he hasn't seen his
father in twelve years.
(Softly, almost to himself)
I shouldn't have let him go.
Which brings me back to my original question.
What was he doing here in the first place?
I was about to get run over by a car, and your
nephew pulled me back. He saved my life.
I sensed he was in trouble, so I offered to put
him up for a few days. Maybe I should have
pressed him a little more, I don't know. I
feel pretty stupid about it now.
He's in trouble, all right. But I don't have
any idea what it is.
(Sits down in a chair, lets out a sigh,
thinks for a moment. Turns to AUNT EM)
Do you want something to drink? A beer? A glass
No thank you.
(Lapses into thought again.
After a moment)
Has anything happened lately? Anything unusual
Well, one thing I suppose, but I don't think it
has anything to do with this.
A friend of mine called about two weeks ago and
said she'd spotted Thomas's father working at
some gas station outside of Peekskill.
And you told your nephew about it?
I figured he had a right to know.
And nothing. Thomas looked at me straight in
the eye and said, "I don't have a father. As
far as I'm concerned, that son-of-a-bitch is
Those are pretty hostile words.
The camera slowly closes in on her face as she speaks:
His father walked out on his mother a couple of
months after he was born. Louisa was Henry's
younger sister, and she and the baby moved in
with us. Four or five years go by, and then one
day Cyrus shows up out of the blue, tail
between his legs, wanting to patch things up
with Louisa. I thought Henry was going to tear
Cyrus apart when he saw him walk through the
door. They're both big men, those two, and if
they ever started to tangle, you'd see some
teeth jumping on the floor. I guarantee it ...
So Cyrus persuaded Louisa to go out with him to
talk things over in quiet. And the poor girl
never came back.
You mean she just ran off with him and left her
little boy behind?
Don't put words in my mouth. What I'm saying is
she drove off in Cyrus's car and went to the
Five-Spot Lounge with him for a drink. What I'm
saying is that he imbibed too much in the way
of alcohol and that when they finished their
little talk three hours later and got back in
the car, he was in no shape to drive. But he
drove the car anyway, and before he could get
her back to where she lived, the damn fool ran
a red light and went straight into a truck.
Louisa got thrown through the windshield and
was killed. Cyrus lived, but he came out of it
a cripple. His left arm was so mangled, the
doctors had to cut it off. Small punishment for
what he did, if you ask me.
Jesus had nothing to do with it. If He'd been
involved. He would have seen to it that things
worked out the opposite from what they did.
It can't have been easy on him. Walking around
with that on his conscience all these years.
No, I don't suppose it has. He was broken up
like nobody's business in that hospital when he
found out Louisa was dead.
And he's never tried to get in touch with his
Henry told Cyrus he'd kill him if he ever
showed his face around our house again. When
Henry makes a threat like that, people tend to
take him seriously.
PAUL and AUNT EM look at each other. Cut to shot of the kitchen sink.
Water is slowly dripping from the faucet. Hold for two or three beats.
23. EXT: DAY. A COUNTRY ROAD OUTSIDE OF PEEKSKILL
Early morning. Trees, shrubs, twittering birds. We see RASHID trudging
down the road. Dissolve to:
The same road, a mile on. RASHID looks up. Cut to:
24. EXT: DAY. COLE'S GARAGE
The garage is a ramshackle, two-story building. Over the main door is a
clumsily executed hand-painted sign that reads: COLE'S GARAGE. Two
Chevron gas pumps stand alone in the front: weeds sprout through the
macadam. To one side of the station is a grassy area with a
weather-beaten picnic table.
The double garage doors are open. We see a man in there working on the
engine of an old Chevrolet. The hood is up, which obscures the man's
face, but we can see that he is wearing mechanic's overalls and that
the color of his skin is black.
He is a large, burly man of about forty. Once he appears from behind
the hood, we see that his left hand is missing. A metal hook juts out
of his sleeve.
This is RASHID'S father, CYRUS COLE.
25. EXT: DAY. THE SIDE OF THE COUNTRY ROAD, DIRECTLY OPPOSITE COLE'S GARAGE
We see RASHID sitting on the hood of a rusted car across the road from
the garage. He is motionless, hugging his knees and gazing intently in
the direction of the camera. Hold for three, four beats.
26. INT: DAY. COLE'S GARAGE
A bit later. CYRUS, still busily at work on the Chevrolet, glances up
and sees RASHID across the road. He studies him for a moment, then
returns to his work.
27. EXT: DAY. THE SIDE OF THE COUNTRY ROAD, DIRECTLY OPPOSITE COLE'S GARAGE
An hour later. We see RASHID sitting on the hood of the car, as before.
This time he has his sketch pad propped against his knees and is doing
a pencil drawing of the garage across the way.
28. EXT: DAY. OUTSIDE COLE'S GARAGE
An hour later. We see CYRUS emerge from the garage carrying a brown
paper bag. He walks over to the picnic table, sits down, and takes out
his lunch from the bag: a ham sandwich, an apple, a can of iced tea. As
he chews and drinks, he studies RASHID across the road. Every now and
then, a car or truck passes by.
The camera cuts between RASHID and CYRUS. RASHID, working busily on his
drawing, pretends not to notice he is being watched.
At last, CYRUS finishes his lunch. He crumples up the paper bag, gets
to his feet, and tosses his garbage into a rusted metal trash can next
to the picnic table. Instead of going back to work, he crosses the
29. EXT: DAY. THE SIDE OF THE COUNTRY ROAD, DIRECTLY OPPOSITE COLE'S GARAGE
Master shot. As CYRUS approaches, RASHID looks up, meeting the man's
eyes for the first time. Before CYRUS can get close enough to see the
drawing, RASHID closes the sketch pad and presses it against his chest.
He makes no attempt to stand up.
You going to sit here all day?
I don't know. I haven't decided yet.
Why don't you pick some other spot? It gives a
man the creeps to be stared at all morning.
It's a free country, isn't it? As long as I'm
not trespassing on your property. I can stay
here till kingdom come.
(Approaching the car. RASHID jumps
off the hood as CYRUS draws closer)
Let me give you some useful information, son.
There's two dollars and fifty-seven cents in
that cash register over there
(gestures with his hand to the
garage across the road)
and considering all the time you've put in
casing the joint so far, you won't make but
about fifty cents an hour for all your pains.
However you slice it, that's a losing
I'm not going to rob you, mister.
Do I look like a thief?
I don't know what you look like, boy. As far as
I can tell, you sprouted up like a mushroom in
this spot last night.
(Pause. Studies RASHID more closely)
You live in this town -- or on your way from
here to there?
Just passing through.
Just passing through. A lonesome traveler with
a knapsack on his back plops himself across
from my garage to admire the view. There's
other places to roam, kid, that's all I'm
saying. You don't want to make a nuisance of
I'm working on a sketch. That old garage of
yours is so rundown, it's kind of interesting.
It's rundown, all right. But drawing a picture
won't improve the way it looks.
(Zeroing in on the sketch pad
pressed against RASHID'S chest)
Let's see what you did, Rembrandt.
It'll cost you five bucks.
Five bucks! You mean you're going to charge me
five bucks just to look at it?
Once you look at it, you're going to want to
buy it from me. That's guaranteed. And that's
the price: five bucks. So if you're not willing
to spring for it, you might as well not bother
to look. It'll just tear you up inside and make
(Shaking his head)
Son-of-a-bitch. You're some piece of work,
I just tell it like it is, mister.
If I'm getting on your nerves, though, you
might want to think about hiring me.
Do you have eyes in your head, or are those
brown things bulging out of your sockets just
marbles? You've been sitting here all day, and
how many cars have you seen drive up and ask
Not a one.
Not a one. Not one customer all day. I bought
this broken-down shit-hole of a place three
weeks ago, and if business don't pick up soon,
I'm going straight down the skids. What do I
want to be hiring someone for? I can't even pay
my own wages.
It was just a thought.
Yeah, well, do your thinking somewhere else,
Michelangelo. I got work to do.
CYRUS begins to leave. We see him crossing the road, shaking his head.
Halfway there, he suddenly stops, turns, and shouts at RASHID:
Who do you think I am, the fucking State
30. EXT: DAY. THE SIDE OF THE COUNTRY ROAD, DIRECTLY OPPOSITE COLE'S GARAGE
Half an hour later. We see RASHID sitting on the hood of the car, as
before. This time he is eating a sandwich, chewing slowly as he gazes
31. EXT: DAY. COLE'S GARAGE
We see CYRUS at work on the Chevrolet. Every now and then, he glances
up to look at RASHID.
CYRUS finishes the job he has been doing. He slams the hood of the
Chevrolet shut. Quick cut to:
32. EXT: DAY. THE SIDE OF THE COUNTRY ROAD, DIRECTLY OPPOSITE COLE'S GARAGE
CYRUS enters the frame and hoists himself onto the hood of the car --
right next to RASHID. A long silence.
(Trying to be friendly)
I'll tell you what. You want to work. I'll give
you a job. Nothing permanent, mind you, but that
upstairs room over there
-- the one above the office -- is a hell of a
mess. It looks like they've been throwing junk
in there for twenty years, and it's time it got
(Playing it cool)
What's your offer?
Five bucks an hour. That's the going rate,
(Looks at his wristwatch)
It's a quarter past two now. My wife's picking
me up at five-thirty, so that'll give you about
three hours. If you can't finish today, you can
do the rest tomorrow.
(Getting to his feet)
Is there a benefits package, or are you hiring
me on a freelance basis?
You know, health insurance, dental plan, paid
vacation. It's not fun being exploited. Workers
have to stand up for their rights.
I'm afraid we'll be working on a strictly
(Long pause, pretending
to think it over)
Five dollars an hour?
I'll take it.
(Cracking a faint smile.
Extends his right hand)
The name is Cyrus Cole.
Paul. Paul Benjamin.
They shake hands.
33. INT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
It is a slow hour in the middle of the afternoon. AUGGIE is sitting on
a stool behind the counter, reading his paperback copy of Dostoyevsky's
Crime and Punishment. JIMMY ROSE is working in silence near the far
wall on the other side of the counter, diligently and awkwardly
straightening the stacks of newspapers and magazines.
The bell on the front door rattles, signaling the arrival of a
customer. Shot of JIMMY stopping his work to look up in the direction
of the door. From JIMMY'S POV: a woman enters the store. She is RUBY
McNUTT (AUGGIE'S old flame). Mid-forties, wearing a sleeveless summer
dress, her face registering a tumult of anxiety, determination, and
self-consciousness. She wears a black patch over her left eye.
Shot of JIMMY looking in wonder at the patch. Shot of RUBY looking in
the direction of the counter. Shot of AUGGIE sitting behind the
counter, still immersed in his book, not bothering to glance up.
Close-up of RUBY'S face: she is looking at AUGGIE. Her lips are
trembling. She is obviously moved, but she is too afraid to speak. With
the camera fixed on RUBY'S face, we hear:
(No response. Pause)
Auggie, I think there's a customer.
Close-up of AUGGIE glancing up from his book. We see his expression
change from one of indifference to recognition and astonishment.
Close-up of RUBY looking at him. She smiles tentatively. As they talk,
JIMMY studies them with rapt attention.
Shot of AUGGIE'S face: he is still too amazed to speak.
It's really you, Auggie, isn't it?
Christ, Ruby, it's been so long. I figured you
Eighteen and a half years.
Is that all? I thought it was about three
You're looking good, Auggie.
No I'm not. I look like shit. And so do you,
Ruby. You look just awful.
(Pause, with increasing bitterness)
What's with the patch, anyway? What'd you do
with that old blue marble -- hock it for a
bottle of gin?
I don't want to talk about it.
If you really want to know. I lost it. And I'm
not sorry I did. That eye was cursed, Auggie,
and it never gave me nothing but grief.
And you think it looks better to go around
dressed up like Captain Hook?
(In a low voice, trying to maintain
her composure and dignity)
You always were a son-of-a-bitch, weren't you?
A little weasel with a quick, dirty mouth.
At least I've stayed true to myself. Which is
more than I can say about some people.
(Again, she tries to shrug it
off. Takes a deep breath)
I've got something to talk to you about, and
the least you can do is listen. You owe me that
much. I drove all the way from Pittsburgh to
see you, and I'm not going until you've heard
Talk away, lady of my dreams. I'm all ears.
(Glancing around the store.
Sees JIMMY studying her)
This is private, Auggie. Just between you and I.
(Addressing JIMMY with
You heard her, pipsqueak. The lady and I have
private business to discuss. Go outside and
stand in front of the door. If anyone tries to
come in, tell 'em we're closed. You got that?
Sure, Auggie, I got it.
The store's closed.
And when do I tell them it's open?
When I tell you it's open. It's open when I
tell you it's open!
Okay, Auggie, I got it. You don't have to yell.
JIMMY goes outside and posts himself in front of the door.
(Looking closely at RUBY as
he lights a cigarette)
All right, sugar, what's on your mind?
Don't look at me like that. Auggie. It gives me
Like what you're doing. I'm not going to eat
I need your help, and if you keep staring at me
like that. I might start screaming.
(With an edge of sarcasm)
Help, huh? And I don't suppose this help has
anything to do with money, does it?
Don't rush me, okay? You're jumping to
conclusions before I've even said anything.
And besides, it's not for me.
(Pause. Realizing she's let the cat
out of the bag. In desperation, she
It's for our daughter.
(Shocked, growing belligerent)
Our daughter? Is that what you said? Our
daughter? I mean, you might have a daughter,
but I sure as hell don't. And even if I did --
which I don't -- she wouldn't be our daughter.
Her name is Felicity, and she just turned
She ran away from Pittsburgh last year, and now
she's living in some shit-hole here in Brooklyn
with a guy named Chico. Strung out on crack,
four months pregnant.
I can't bear to think about that baby. Our
grandchild, Auggie. Just think of it. Our
(Waving her off, impatient)
Stop it, already. Just stop all this crap right
(Pause. Changing the
subject. With contempt)
Was that your idea to call her Felicity?
It means "happiness."
I know what it means. That still don't make it
a good name.
I don't know who else to turn to, Auggie.
You've suckered me before, darling, remember?
Why should I believe you now?
Why would I lie to you, Auggie? You think it
was easy to come here and walk into this place?
Why would I do it if I didn't have to?
That's what you told me when I shoplifted that
necklace for you. You remember, baby, don't
you? The judge gave me a choice: either go to
the can or enlist. So, instead of going to
college, I wind up in the navy for four years,
I watch men lose their arms and legs, I nearly
get my head blown off, and you, sweet Ruby
McNutt, you run off and marry that asshole,
You didn't write to me for more than a year.
What was I supposed to think?
Yeah, well, I lost my pen. By the time I got a
new one, I was clean out of paper.
It was over with Bill before you ever came
home. Maybe you don't remember it now, but you
were pretty hot to see me back then.
You weren't so lukewarm yourself. At least at
It fizzled, baby. That's the way it goes. But
we had our times, didn't we? It wasn't all bad.
A couple of moments, I'll grant you that. A
second or two snatched from the jaws of
And that's how Felicity came into the picture.
During one of those two seconds.
You're conning me, sweetheart. I ain't
responsible for no baby.
Then why do you think I married Frank? I was
already pregnant, and I didn't have much time.
Say what you like, but at least he gave my kid
Good old Frank. And how is fat Mr. Grease Monkey
Who the hell knows?
He dropped out of sight fifteen years ago.
Fifteen years ago?
It won't wash, pumpkin. No mother waits fifteen
years to tell a man he's a father. I wasn't
born yesterday, you know.
(Her lips start to tremble. We see
tears falling from her one good eye)
I thought I could handle it. I didn't want to
bug you. I thought I could handle it on my own,
but I couldn't. She's in real bad, Auggie.
Nice try, old girl. I'd like to help you out.
You know, for old time's sake. But all my spare
cash is tied up in a business venture, and I
haven't collected my profits yet. Too bad. You
caught me at the wrong time.
You're a cold-hearted bastard, aren't you?
How'd you ever get so mean, Auggie?
I know you think I'm lying to you, but I'm not.
Every word I told you is the God's honest
Pause. Then cut to the store entrance. The door suddenly bursts open as
an IRATE CUSTOMER pushes his way past JIMMY. We see JIMMY futilely
trying to hold him back.
(Shouting at customer. Beside himself)
The store's closed! Didn't you hear what the
kid told you? The goddamn store is closed!
34. INT: DAY. THE UPSTAIRS ROOM OF COLE'S GARAGE
We see RASHID working diligently. The place is a pigsty, cluttered with
all sorts of debris: rusty bicycles, rags, automotive parts, a female
mannequin, broken radios, shower curtains, etc. One by one, RASHID
drags or carries these things toward the door. At one point, he finds a
small, portable black-and-white TV hidden under a rug. The rabbit ears
are broken, the casing is covered with dust, but other than that it
seems to be in reasonably good shape.
35. EXT: DAY. OUTSIDE COLE'S GARAGE
RASHID and CYRUS are carrying the debris from the upstairs room and
throwing it into the back of an old red pickup truck. Once they get rid
of a load, they go back inside for more. Since RASHID is faster, they
are working out of phase: when one is outside, the other is inside.
They work in silence. CYRUS begins to huff and puff from going up and
down the stairs. Eventually, after a number of trips, he drops a load
into the truck and stops. He leans against the truck, pulls out a
large, cheap half-smoked cigar from his shirt pocket, and lights up.
Close-up of the hook as he strikes the match. After one or two puffs on
the cigar, RASHID appears with another load and tosses it into the
Time for a pause.
Without further ado, RASHID promptly sits down on the rear bumper of
the truck. He does it so quickly, the effect is comical. He watches
CYRUS smoke. Two or three beats.
I don't mean to be nosy, but I was wondering
what happened to your arm.
(Holds up his hook and
studies it for a moment)
An ugly piece of hardware, isn't it?
I'll tell you what happened to my arm.
I'll tell you what happened.
Twelve years ago, God looked down on me and
said, "Cyrus, you're a bad, stupid, selfish man.
First of all, I'm going to fill your body with
spirits, and then I'm going to put you behind
the wheel of a car, and then I'm going to make
you crash that car and kill the woman who loves
you. But you, Cyrus, I'm going to let you live,
because living is a lot worse than death. And
just so you don't forget what you did to that
poor girl, I'm going to rip off your arm and
replace it with a hook. If I wanted to, I could
rip off both your arms and both your legs, but
I'm going to be merciful and just take off your
left arm. Every time you look at your hook, I
want you to remember what a bad, stupid,
selfish man you are. Let that be a lesson to
you, Cyrus, a warning to mend your ways."
(Impressed by the sincerity
of CYRUS'S speech)
And have you mended them?
I don't know. I try. Every day I keep on trying,
but it's no easy task for a man to change his
I'm off the booze, though. Haven't had a drop
in six years. And now I've got me a wife.
Doreen. Best damned woman I've ever known.
And a little boy, too. Cyrus Junior.
So things have definitely improved since I got
fitted with this hook. If I can just turn this
goddamn garage around, I'll be in pretty good
You named the kid after yourself, huh?
(Smiling at the thought of his son)
That boy's one in a million. A real tiger.
Cut to close-up of RASHID'S face. He seems to be growing more and more
And what about you, kid? What's your story?
Who, me? I don't have a story. I'm just a kid.
36. EXT: DAY. OUTSIDE COLE'S GARAGE
Late afternoon. RASHID and CYRUS continue loading debris into the back
of the truck. We see the black-and-white portable TV sitting on the
ground outside the office.
After a few moments, a ten-year-old blue Ford pulls up next to the
truck and stops. It is driven by CYRUS'S wife, DOREEN. She is an
attractive, self-possessed woman in her late twenties. CYRUS JUNIOR is
sitting in a child-restraint seat in the back. He is two years old.
CYRUS'S face lights up when he sees the car. DOREEN cuts off the engine
and gets out, smiling at her husband. RASHID, suddenly forgotten by
CYRUS, watches the exchange with keen interest.
Hi, baby. How'd it go today?
If I have to wash one more old lady's hair, I
think my fingers would fall off.
(She kisses him on the cheek)
Busy, huh? That's good, because things around
here sure were sleepy today.
(Opening the back of the car,
unstrapping JUNIOR from his seat, and
picking him up in her arms)
Don't worry, Cy. It's early days yet.
(Addressing JUNIOR, but at the same
time catching sight of RASHID)
Say hello to Daddy.
(In his mother's arms, excited
at seeing his father)
(Taking the boy in his arms
and giving him a big kiss)
Hey there, little tiger. And what did you do
(Addressing RASHID as she
hands the baby to CYRUS)
(Noticing the exchange
between DOREEN and RASHID)
Jesus, I almost forgot you were here. Doreen,
this is Paul. My new assistant.
DOREEN extends her right hand to RASHID.
(Shaking DOREEN'S hand)
It's only temporary. On a freelance basis.
(Turning JUNIOR toward RASHID)
And this one, in case you haven't guessed, is
(Studying JUNIOR carefully. Mumbles
in a barely audible voice)
Hi there, little brother.
(To JUNIOR) Say hi to Paul.
Hi there, little brother.
He's helping me clean out that upstairs room.
Might as well get this place looking good,
I guess that's it for today, sport. Come back
tomorrow morning at eight, and you can pick up
where you left off.
(Starts walking to the office
with JUNIOR in his arms)
We see him through the window: opening the cash register, pocketing the
money, turning out the lights, then coming out and closing the garage
doors. In the foreground, we see RASHID standing with DOREEN. He looks
down at the ground, too shy to say a word to her. She studies him with
a mixture of curiosity and amusement. When CYRUS is finished closing
up, he walks toward them and says to RASHID:
Do you want me to pay you now, or can you wait
Tomorrow's fine. There's no rush.
37. EXT: EARLY EVENING. OUTSIDE COLE'S GARAGE
A little later. We see RASHID sitting next to the TV outside the office
door. He is utterly still. Hold for two, three beats.
38. INT: EARLY EVENING. INSIDE THE OFFICE OF COLE'S GARAGE
We see a pencil drawing being slid under the door. It is an excellent
rendering of the garage as seen from across the road.
The camera moves in on the drawing until it occupies the entire screen.
Hold for two, three beats.
39. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
PAUL opens the door. RASHID is standing in the hall, holding the
black-and-white TV in his arms. The knapsack is on his back. His
clothes have become a little shabbier since the last time we saw him.
Hey, it's you.
I wanted to give you this as a token of my
Appreciation for what?
I don't know. For helping me out.
(Eyeing TV suspiciously)
Where did you get that thing?
I bought it. Twenty-nine ninety-five on sale at
Goldbaum's TV and Radio.
(Hands TV to PAUL, who takes it
in his arms. RASHID smiles)
Well, that just about takes care of it, I
guess. You'll be able to watch the ball games.
You know, as a little break from your work.
(Begins to leave)
Where the hell do you think you're going?
Business appointment. I'm seeing my broker at
Cut it out, will you? Just cut it out and come
(Looking at his watch. Shrugs)
I don't have much time.
(Returns to the doorway,
enters the apartment)
(Puts TV on the stereo cabinet)
Close the door.
(RASHID closes the door)
Sit down in that chair.
(Points. RASHID sits down in the chair)
Now listen carefully. Your Aunt Em came here a
couple of days ago. She was sick with worry,
out of her mind. We had an interesting talk
about you, Thomas. Do you understand what I'm
saying? Your aunt thinks you're in trouble and
so do I. Tell me about it, kid. I want to hear
all about it right now.
(Realizes he is trapped. Shrugs. Smiles
weakly. Looks down at floor to avoid
PAUL'S gaze. When he dares to look up
again, PAUL is still glowering at him.)
You don't really want to know.
I don't, huh? And what makes you such an
authority on what I want or don't want?
It's all so stupid.
There's this guy, see. Charles Clemm. The
Creeper, that's what people call him. The kind
of guy you don't want to cross paths with.
I crossed paths with him. That's why I'm trying
to stay clear of my neighborhood. To make sure
I don't run into him again.
So that's the something you weren't supposed to
Close-up of RASHID, becoming more animated as he talks.
I just happened to be walking by... All of a
sudden, the Creeper and this other guy come
running out of this check-cashing place with
masks on their faces and guns in their hands...
They just about ran smack into me. The Creeper
recognized me, and I knew he knew I recognized
him... If the guy from the check-cashing place
hadn't rushed out then screaming bloody murder,
he would have shot me. I'm telling you, the
Creeper would have shot me right there on the
sidewalk. But the noise distracted him, and
when he turned around to see what was
happening, I took off... One more second, and I
would have been dead.
Why don't you go to the police?
You're joking, right? I mean, that's your way
of trying to be funny, right?
If they put this Creeper in jail, then you'd be
The man has friends. And they're not likely to
forgive me if I testify against him.
What makes you think you'll be any safer around
here? It's only about a mile away from where
It might not be far, but it's another galaxy.
Black is black and white is white, and never
the twain shall meet.
It looks like they've met in this apartment.
That's because we don't belong anywhere. You
don't fit into your world, and I don't fit into
mine. We're the outcasts of the universe.
Maybe. Or maybe it's the other people who don't
Let's not get too idealistic.
(Pause. Breaks into a smile)
Fair enough. We wouldn't want to get carried
away, would we?
Now call your aunt Em and let her know you're
40. INT: EVENING. PAUL'S APARTMENT
PAUL and RASHID are watching the Mets on television. They are both
smoking little cigars. PAUL puffs on his calmly; RASHID coughs after
each puff of his. He is clearly not used to smoking. The television
has a defective tube, the reception is poor, and every now and then one
of them stands up and bangs the top of the set to bring the picture
back into focus. They watch the ball game in silence. Close-up of the
TV screen: the batter swings. An announcer's voice is heard describing
41. EXT: LATE AFTERNOON. THE CORNER IN FRONT OF THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
AUGGIE is alone, closing up shop, looking particularly scruffy and
unshaven. Just as he finishes pulling down the last metal gate, a car
with Pennsylvania license plates comes speeding down Seventh Avenue and
brakes to a sudden stop in front of the store. It is a ten-year-old
Pontiac in rather sorry shape: belching smoke, with a defective muffler
and a dented body. AUGGIE, distracted by the commotion, turns and looks
at the car.
From AUGGIE'S POV: we look into the car and see that the driver is RUBY
McNUTT. She leans out the open window and addresses AUGGIE in an
Get in, Auggie. I've got something to show you.
You don't give up, do you?
Just get in and shut up. I'm not asking you to
do anything. I just need you to come with me.
Dammit, Auggie, don't ask so many questions.
Just get in the car.
AUGGIE shrugs. RUBY opens the right front door of the car, and he
climbs in. They drive off.
42. EXT: EVENING. THE STREETS OF BROOKLYN
We see RUBY'S car as it travels through the Brooklyn evening, making
its way down Seventh Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, then turning onto
Eastern Parkway and gliding past the Public Library and the Brooklyn
Museum as it penetrates the slums of Crown Heights and East New York.
I told her she was going to meet her father.
It was the only way, Auggie. Otherwise, she
wasn't going to let me see her.
I think you'd better stop the car and let me
Relax, okay? You don't have to do anything.
Just go in there and pretend. It won't kill you
to do a little favor like that. Besides, you
might even learn something.
Yeah, like what?
That I wasn't bullshitting you, sweetheart. At
least you'll know I've been telling the truth.
Look, I'm not saying you don't have a daughter.
It's just that she's not my daughter.
Wait till you see her, Auggie.
And what's that supposed to mean?
She looks just like you.
Cut it out. Just cut it out, okay? It's
starting to get on my nerves.
When I told her I was going to bring her father,
she kind of melted. It's the first time
Felicity's talked nice to me since she left
home. She's dying to meet you, Auggie.
They drive on in silence for a few more seconds. By now they have
entered one of the worst, most dangerous parts of the city. We see
broken-down, boarded-up buildings, vacant lots strewn with rubble,
trash scattered on the sidewalks. RUBY turns down one of these streets,
then brings the car to a halt in front of a walk-up building with
spray-painted graffiti on the outer door: KILL THE COPS. AUGGIE and
RUBY get out of the car and start walking toward the building. Down the
street, in the distance, we see a black man pick up a metal garbage can
and throw it violently to the ground. It lands with a loud crash.
Nice neighborhood you've brought me to. Full of
happy, prosperous people.
43. INT: EVENING. FELICITY'S APARTMENT
Close-up of a scarred green door. A knocking is heard from the other
side. Pause. The knocking is heard again. After another pause, we hear
feet padding toward the door. A second later a shoulder enters the
frame. This is FELICITY from behind. She is dressed in a cheap flowered
Yeah? Who is it?
It's me, honey. It's Mom.
We see FELICITY'S hand reach out and unbolt the lock. The door opens to
reveal AUGGIE and RUBY standing in the hall. They both look nervous:
RUBY expectant and hopeful, with a forced smile on her face, AUGGIE
guarded and closed in on himself. Cut to a close-up of FELICITY'S face.
She is a very pretty blonde of eighteen. Her expression is hostile,
however, and there is a wasted look in her eyes. We see clumsily
applied rouge on her cheeks, a slash of red lipstick on her lips. She
runs her hand through her stringy, unwashed hair. Cut to a close-up of
AUGGIE'S face. It is impossible to know what he is thinking.
As AUGGIE and RUBY enter the apartment, the camera backs up to show the
room. It is a tawdry place with little furniture: a double mattress on
the floor (the bed is unmade), a rickety wooden table and two chairs
along the far wall (we see a box of Sugar Pops on the table), a hot
plate, and an enormous color television near the mattress. The
television is on, but the sound is off. Images of commercials flicker
in the background during the rest of the scene. The only decoration is
a large black-and-white poster of Jim Morrison Scotch-taped to one of
the walls. Clothes are strewn everywhere: on the floor, on the table,
on top of the television set.
By the time RUBY has shut the door behind her, FELICITY has already
retreated to the other side of the room and is lighting a cigarette
from a pack of Newports on the table. No one says anything. An awkward
silence as FELICITY glares at her mother and AUGGIE.
Aren't you going to say anything?
What do you want me to say?
I don't know. Hello, Mom. Hello, Dad. Something
(Takes a drag on her cigarette,
looking AUGGIE up and down. Then,
turning to RUBY)
I don't got no daddy, you dig? I got born last
week when some dog fucked you up the ass.
(Muttering under his breath)
Jesus Christ. This is all I need.
(Trying to ignore the viciousness
of her daughter's remark)
You told me you wanted to meet him. Well,here
Yeah, I might have said that. Chico told me to
see what he was like, maybe there'd be some
dough in it for us. Well, now I've seen him,
and I can't say I'm too impressed.
(Pause. Turning to AUGGIE)
Hey, mister. Are you rich or what?
Yeah, I'm a millionaire. I walk around in
disguise because I'm ashamed of all my money.
(To FELICITY. Imploringly)
Be nice, sweetie. We're just here to help you.
Help? What the fuck do I need your help for?
I've got a man, don't I? That's more than you
can say for yourself, Hawkeye.
Hey, hey, don't talk to your mother like that.
(Crushing out her cigarette on the
table. Ignoring AUGGIE'S remark,
to her mother)
You're telling me you actually went to bed with
this guy? You're telling me you actually let
him fuck you?
(Mortified, struggling not
to lose her composure)
You can do whatever you want with your own life.
We're thinking of the baby, that's all. We want
you to get yourself cleaned up for the baby.
Before it's too late.
Baby? And what baby is that?
Your baby. The baby you're carrying around
Yeah, well, there ain't no baby in there now.
You dig? There's nothing in there now.
What are you talking about?
An abortion, stupid.
I had an abortion the day before yesterday. So
you don't have to bug me about that shit
(Laughs again. Defiantly,
almost to herself)
(Taking hold of RUBY'S arm. RUBY is
about to break into tears)
Come on, let's get out of here. I've had enough.
RUBY shrugs off AUGGIE'S hand and goes on looking at her daughter. As
FELICITY speaks, the camera closes in on her face.
Yeah, that's right, you better go. Chico'll be
back any minute, and I'm sure your boyfriend
doesn't want to mess with him. Chico's a real
man. Not some scuzzy dickhead you find in last
month's garbage. Do you hear what I'm saying?
He'll chop up Mr. Dad here into little pieces.
That's a promise. He'll kick the living shit
out of him.
44. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
It is morning. RASHID is preparing a pot of coffee in the kitchenette.
PAUL stumbles out of the bathroom, wiping his face with a towel. He has
just woken up and is still groggy. He approaches the table.
Ah, coffee. Smells good.
(Handing him a cup)
One sip of this stuff and your eyes will blast
(Taking the cup and sitting down)
(Begins to drink)
What time did you get to bed last night?
I don't know. Two or three. It was pretty late.
You work too hard, you know that?
Once a story gets hold of you, it's hard to let
Besides, I'm making up for lost time.
Just so you don't overdo it. You don't want to
die of sleep deprivation before you finish.
(Almost to himself. Looking up at
the photo of Ellen on the wall)
If you don't sleep, you don't dream. If you
don't dream, you don't have nightmares.
That's logical. And if you don't sleep, you
don't need a bed. Saves you money, too.
So what's this story you're working on, anyway?
If I tell you, I might not be able to finish it.
Come on, just a little hint.
(Smiling at RASHID'S eagerness. Pause)
Okay, just a little hint. I can't tell you the
story, but I'll tell you what gave me the idea
Yeah, right. The inspiration. It's a true story
anyway, so I don't suppose it can hurt, can it?
All right. Listen carefully.
(The camera slowly moves in
for a close-up of PAUL'S face)
About twenty-five years ago, a young man went
skiing alone in the Alps. There was an
avalanche, the snow swallowed him up, and his
body was never recovered.
No, not the end. The beginning.
His son was just a little boy at the time, but
the years passed, and when he grew up, he
became a skier, too. One day last winter, he
went out by himself for a run down the
mountain. He gets halfway to the bottom and
then stops to eat his lunch next to a big rock.
Just as he's unwrapping his cheese sandwich, he
looks down and sees a body frozen in the ice --
right there at his feet. He bends down to take
a closer look, and suddenly he feels that he's
looking into a mirror, that he's looking at
himself. There he is -- dead -- and the body
is perfectly intact, sealed away in a block of
ice -- like someone preserved in suspended
animation. He gets down on all fours, looks
right into the dead man's face, and realizes
that he's looking at his father.
Cut to RASHID'S face. We see him listening intently.
PAUL (cont'd) (OFF)
And the strange thing is that the father is
younger than the son is now. The boy has become
a man, and it turns out that he's older than
his own father.
The camera holds on RASHID'S face. After a moment:
So what are you going to do today?
Read, think, do some drawings if I get in the
He points to the coffee table: we see the sketch pad and a paperback
copy of Shakespeare's Othello.
But tonight I'm going to celebrate. That's
Celebrate? What for?
It's my birthday. I'm seventeen years old
(looks at wristwatch)
as of forty-seven minutes ago, and I think I
should celebrate having made it this far.
(Raising coffee cup)
Hey, hey. Happy birthday. Why didn't you tell
I just did.
I mean earlier. We could have planned something.
Close-up of RASHID'S face.
I don't like plans. I prefer to take things as
45. INT: LATE AFTERNOON. THE BOOKSTORE
A small, cluttered independent bookshop.
The scene begins with a close-up of the clerk's face: APRIL LEE, a
Eurasian woman in her mid- to late twenties. She is sitting behind the
front counter with an open book before her. Her expression is puzzled,
searching, as if she has just remembered or recognized something, but
can't quite figure out what it is. We see her looking toward the back
of the store, straining to listen in on PAUL and RASHID'S conversation.
Here we are.
Rembrandt's drawings. Edward Hopper. Van Gogh's
Pick two or three. Now that the coffers are
open, you might as well take advantage of me.
As PAUL and RASHID start walking back in the direction of the counter,
APRIL lowers her gaze and pretends to be reading. We see PAUL and
RASHID enter the field of the camera from behind. PAUL puts a small
pile of art books on the counter.
We'll take these, please.
APRIL looks up: her eyes meet PAUL'S. They study each other for a brief
moment -- a significant exchange that does not escape RASHID'S notice.
Will that be cash or charge?
(Taking out his wallet
and looking inside)
Better make it charge.
(Removes the credit card
and hands it to APRIL)
(Looking at he card, smiles)
I thought I recognized you. You're Paul
Benjamin the writer, aren't you?
(Both pleased and surprised)
I keep waiting for the next novel to come out.
Anything in the works?
(Butting in, with enthusiasm)
It's coming along. At the rate he's going,
he'll have a story finished by the end of the
Wonderful. When your next book is published,
maybe you could come into the store and do a
signing. I'm sure we could get a lot of people
to show up.
(Still staring at APRIL)
Uh, actually, I tend to shy away from that kind
Excuse me for asking, but you aren't married,
Perhaps I should rephrase the question. What I
mean to say is, are you married or seriously
involved with a significant other?
(Still astonished. Bursts out laughing)
No! At least I don't think I am!
(Smiling with satisfaction)
Good. Then may I have the honor of extending
an invitation to you?
Close-up of PAUL, listening to the exchange between RASHID and APRIL.
Yes, an invitation. I apologize for springing
it on you at the last minute, but Mr. Benjamin
and I are attending a celebration tonight, and
we would be most pleased if you chose to
(Looking at PAUL)
Isn't that right, Mr. Benjamin?
(Breaking into a broad smile)
Absolutely. We would be honored.
And what's the occasion of this celebration?
It's my birthday.
And how many people will be attending this
I wouldn't actually call it a party. It's more
along the lines of a dinner in celebration of
The guest list is quite restricted. So far,
there's Mr. Benjamin and myself. If you accept,
that would make three of us.
(Ironic. With a crafty smile)
Ah-hah, I see. A cozy dinner. But aren't
threesomes a little awkward? How does the
Three's a crowd. Yes, I'm aware of that. But I
have to keep an eye on Mr. Benjamin wherever he
goes. To make sure he doesn't get himself into
And what are you, his chaperone?
(With a straight face)
Actually, I'm his father.
APRIL bursts out laughing, amused by the mounting silliness of the
It's true. Most people assume I'm his father.
It's a logical assumption -- given that I'm
older than he is and so on. But the fact is,
it's the other way around. He's my father, and
I'm his son.
Close-up of APRIL'S face. She is still laughing.
46. INT: EVENING. CHINESE RESTAURANT IN BROOKLYN
In the background, we see a number of other customers. At one table, a
Chinese family is celebrating a birthday. Toward the end of the scene,
they all get up to pose for a group photograph. PAUL, RASHID, and
APRIL are sitting together at a round table. They are in the middle of
So your mother grew up in Shanghai?
Until she was twelve. She moved here in
And your father? Is he from New York?
Muncie, Indiana. He and my mother met as
students. But I'm from Brooklyn. My sisters
and I were all born and bred right here.
Just like me.
Like me, too.
I once read somewhere that one quarter of all
the people in the United States have at least
one relative who has lived in Brooklyn at one
time or another.
No wonder it's such a screwed-up place.
And the bookstore? Have you been working there
It's just a summer job. Something to help pay
the bills while I finish my dissertation.
Your dissertation? What subject do you study?
American literature. What else?
What else. Of course, what else? And what are
you writing about for your thesis?
(With mock pomposity)
Visions of Utopia in Nineteenth-Century
Wow. You don't fool around, do you?
Of course I fool around. But not so much when
it comes to my work, it's true.
Have you ever read Pierre, or the Ambiguities?
It's been a while.
That's the subject of my last chapter.
Not an easy book.
Which explains why this hasn't been the easiest
summer of my life.
All the more reason to let 'er rip tonight,
You know, go for the gusto.
APRIL clinks her glass with RASHID and laughs merrily as PAUL looks on
and smiles. Cut to:
47. INT: NIGHT. A BAR IN BROOKLYN
A noisy, crowded blue-collar hangout. APRIL, PAUL, and RASHID are
standing together, looking rather tipsy. They are engaged in animated
three-way conversation, but we can't hear their voices over the din.
A song is playing on the jukebox ("Downtown Train," by Tom Waits).
APRIL asks PAUL to dance. He agrees. As they dance, RASHID looks on.
Even though the rhythm of the song is fast, PAUL and APRIL dance
slowly, tentatively, not quite sure how to behave with each other.
After a moment, AUGGIE emerges from the back room with VIOLET, his
flashy girlfriend, hanging on his arm. They are both plastered.
Hey, man, good to see you.
This is April Lee, Auggie. April, say hello to
Hello, Auggie Wren.
(Affecting the voice of a cowboy,
tipping an imaginary hat)
Howdy, Miss April. I'm right pleased to make
(Turning to VIOLET)
And this pretty little lady here is Miss
Vi-o-let Sanchez de Jalapeño, the hottest chili
pepper this side of the Rio Grande. Ain't that
Ees so, Auggie. And you not so cold, neither.
PAUL, APRIL, and RASHID nod hello to VIOLET.
So, what brings you to a dive like this?
(Gesturing with thumb to
RASHID; addressing AUGGIE)
It's his birthday so we decided to whoop it up
How old, kid?
Seventeen? I remember when I was seventeen.
Christ, I was one little whacked-out
son-of-a-bitch when I was seventeen. Is that
what you are, son? One little whacked-out crazy
(With feigned seriousness, nodding)
Definitely. I'd say you've hit the nail on the
Good. Keep it up, and maybe one day you'll grow
up and become a great man like me.
(Bursts out laughing)
PAUL puts his arm around AUGGIE, addressing him in quieter tones. As
they talk, APRIL and VIOLET look each other up and down, smiling
awkwardly. RASHID strains to hear what PAUL and AUGGIE are saying to
Hey, Auggie, I've just been thinking. You
wouldn't need some help around the store, would
you? Some summer help while Vinnie's gone?
Help? Hmm. It's possible. What did you have in
I'm thinking about the kid. I'm sure he'd do a
good job for you.
(Looking up and studying RASHID)
Hey, kid. You interested in a job? I just got
word from your employment agency that you're
looking for a position in retail sales.
(Pause. Looks at PAUL)
I definitely wouldn't turn down a job.
Come around to the cigar store tomorrow morning
at ten o'clock and we'll talk about it, okay?
We'll see what we can work out.
Ten o'clock tomorrow morning. I'll be there.
(Patting AUGGIE on the back)
I owe you one. Don't forget.
48. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
Morning. PAUL and RASHID sitting at the table, eating breakfast. RASHID
is wearing a red T-shirt with the word "FIRE" emblazoned on the back in
white letters. We catch them in mid-conversation.
It's 1942, right? And he's caught in Leningrad
during the siege. I'm talking about one of the
worst moments in human history. Five hundred
thousand people died in that one place, and
there's Bakhtin, holed up in an apartment,
expecting to be killed any day. He has plenty
of tobacco, but no paper to roll it in. So he
takes the pages of a manuscript he's been
working on for ten years and tears them up to
roll his cigarettes.
His only copy?
His only copy.
I mean, if you think you're going to die,
what's more important, a good book or a good
smoke? And so he huffed and he puffed, and
little by little he smoked his book.
(Thinks, then smiles)
Nice try. You had me going for a second, but no
... no writer would ever do a thing like that.
(Slight pause. Looking at PAUL)
You don't believe me, huh?
(Stands up from the table and begins
walking to the bookcase)
Look, I'll show you. It's all in this book.
PAUL stands on a chair and reaches for a book on the top shelf. In
doing so, he catches sight of the paper bag RASHID planted there in
Scene 15. He studies it in bewilderment, then picks it up and dangles
it in the air as he turns toward RASHID.
(Squirming with embarrassment)
I don't know.
Is it yours?
Yeah, it might be.
(Shrugs, not wanting to
make an issue of it)
PAUL tosses the bag in RASHID'S direction. The bag breaks open in
midair, and a shower of twenty-, fifty-, and hundred-dollar bills rains
down from the ceiling. PAUL is stunned; RASHID is watching the world
crumble before his eyes.
49. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT (LATER)
Fade in. A few minutes later. PAUL and RASHID are sitting at the table
again, the money stacked in neat piles between them. Again, we catch
them in mid-conversation.
So you're saying it wasn't like that at all.
Not exactly. I mean, there was more to it than
I told you.
Christ. You didn't just see what happened.
They dropped the package on the ground and you
picked it up.
Yeah, I picked it up.
And started to run.
And started to run.
That's just it. I didn't think. I just did it.
You have one hell of a knack for getting into
trouble, don't you?
(Pause, gesturing to the money)
So how much does it come to?
Six thousand dollars. Five thousand eight
hundred and fourteen dollars, to be exact.
(Shaking his head, trying to
absorb this new turn of events)
So you robbed the robbers, and now the robbers
are after you.
That's it. In a nutshell.
Yeah, well, you have to be nuts to do what you
did. If you want my opinion, you should give
this money back to the Creeper. Just give it
back and tell him you're sorry.
(Shaking his head)
No way. There's no way I'm giving that money
back. It's my money now.
A lot of good it will do you if the Creeper
That money is my whole future.
Keep up with that attitude, and you won't have
Seventeen is a hell of an age to die. Is that
what you want?
Close-up of RASHID'S face. Fade out.
50. INT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
We see RASHID mopping the floor. He finishes up and carries the mop to
the bathroom behind the cash register and puts it in the bucket that is
sitting in the sink. He turns on the tap and rinses the mop. Just to
the side of the sink, there are two open cardboard boxes on the floor.
We catch a glimpse of the contents: boxes of Montecristos (Cuban
cigars). AUGGIE'S shipment from Miami has arrived.
RASHID turns off the tap, but the water continues to trickle out in a
small stream into the bucket. RASHID doesn't notice.
RASHID returns to the counter. AUGGIE is standing by the door getting
ready to go out. For the first time, he is clean-shaven, his hair is
combed, and he is wearing dress-up clothes: a bright red plaid sports
jacket, white slacks, etc. The effect is strange, laughable.
I'll be back in about an hour. Watch the
register while I'm gone, okay?
Sure thing. See you later.
AUGGIE waves goodbye and leaves.
Cut to the bathroom. Close-up of the bucket in the sink. The water is
overflowing, spilling onto the boxes of Cuban cigars.
Cut to the store. RASHID is sitting behind the counter, studying a
picture of a naked woman in Penthouse magazine.
Cut to bathroom. Close-up of water inundating the Cuban cigars.
Cut to store. Close-up of RASHID gaping at the photograph. We hear him
(Muttering to himself)
Jesus God, save me.
The jarring noise of the door opening. RASHID hastily closes the
magazine and stashes it under the counter. AUGGIE enters the store with
two middle-aged men in dark, pin-striped suits: his lawyer-customers
for the Cuban cigars.
(Addressing the TWO LAWYERS as they
enter. He is obviously keyed up. His
manner is jovial, ingratiating)
It might be illegal, but it's hard to see where
the crime is if there's no victim. No harm
This is what it must have felt like to go to a
speakeasy during Prohibition
Forbidden pleasures, eh?
Much business while I was gone?
A little. Not much.
(To the LAWYERS)
This way, gentlemen. Let's retire to my office,
He points to the bathroom behind the counter.
The camera stays on RASHID as AUGGIE and the LAWYERS disappear. A
second later, we hear AUGGIE explode with rage.
What the fuck is going on here! Look at this!
The goddamn place is flooded! Holy fucking
shit! Look at this! Look at this goddamn mess!
51. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
Close-up of RASHID'S face. He is in tears.
So you lost the job. Is that what you're
telling me? He just up and fired you?
(Scarcely able to speak)
It was more complicated than that. There was a
It wasn't my fault.
If you don't tell me what happened, how do you
expect me to know that? I need facts, not
(Struggling to speak,
fighting back the tears)
The water was dripping, see... I turned it off,
but it was still dripping, and then Auggie had
to go out, and so I left the back room ... And
later on ... well, later on ... when Auggie
came back ... the whole place was flooded. His
Cuban cigars got all messed up ... You know,
soaked through ... just when he was about to
sell them ... to these rich guys in suits....
Shot of PAUL standing in the middle of the room looking at RASHID, who
is sitting on the bed.
Cuban cigars. You mean he had some hanky-panky
going with those guys?
I suppose so. He never told me about it.
No wonder he was angry.
He was out five thousand bucks, he said.... He
kept saying it over and over.... Five thousand
bucks down the drain.... He wouldn't stop....
Five thousand bucks, five thousand bucks....
He was like out of his mind with those five
Silence. PAUL paces about the room, thinking. He sits down in a chair
by the table. Thinks some more.
Here's what you're going to do. You're going to
open up your backpack, take out your bag of
money, count out five thousand dollars, and
hand it over to Auggie.
What are you talking about?
You can't be serious.
I'm serious, all right. You've got to square it
with Auggie. Since you won't give the money
back to the Creeper, you can use it to make
things right with Auggie. That's probably
better anyway. Better to keep your friends than
to worry about your enemies.
(Stubbornly. Fresh tears
falling down his cheeks)
I'm not going to do it.
You'll do it, all right. You fuck up, you've
got to undo the damage. That's how it works,
buster. If you don't do it, I'm going to throw
you out of here. Do you understand me? If you
don't pay Auggie what you owe him. I'm finished
I pay Auggie, and I've got nothing. Eight
hundred bucks and a ticket to Shit City.
Don't worry about it. You've got friends now,
remember? Just behave yourself, and everything
will work out.
52. INT: NIGHT. A BAR IN BROOKLYN
AUGGIE is sitting alone at the bar, smoking a cigarette and drinking a
beer. He looks disgusted: muttering to himself, swearing under his
breath. Business is slow, and the place is almost empty.
PAUL and RASHID enter and approach AUGGIE at the bar. RASHID is
carrying a brown paper bag. AUGGIE gestures with his head for them to
follow him into the back room. Cut to:
The three of them taking their seats at a table in the back room. A
long, awkward pause.
The kid's sorry, Auggie.
(Scowls, fiddles with the
napkin on the table)
Yeah, well, I'm sorry too.
It took me three years to save up those five
thousand bucks, and now I'm broke. I can't
hardly pay for this beer. Not to speak of
having my credibility destroyed. Do you
understand what I'm saying? My credibility.
So yeah, I'm sorry, too. About as sorry as
I've ever been in my whole fucking life.
He's got something to tell you, Auggie.
If he's got something to tell me, why don't he
tell it to me himself?
Without saying a word, RASHID lifts the bag off his knees and puts it
on the table in front of AUGGIE. AUGGIE eyes the bag suspiciously.
It's for you.
For me? And what am I supposed to do with a
(Taking a peek inside)
What is this, some kind of joke?
No, it's five thousand dollars.
Shit. I don't want your money, you little
(Peeking inside the paper bag again)
It's probably stolen anyway.
What do you care where it comes from? It's
And why the hell would you give me money?
So I can get my job back.
Your job? You've got five thousand bucks. What
do you want a piece-of-shit job like that for?
To look at the dirty magazines. I can see all
the naked women I want, and it doesn't cost me
You're a dumb, whacked-out little fuck, do you
Auggie pushes the bag toward RASHID. Without hesitating for a second,
RASHID pushes the bag back toward AUGGIE.
Don't be an ass, Auggie. He's trying to make it
up to you, can't you see that?
(Sighs, shakes head,
peeks into bag again)
No, he's not. You are.
(Shrugs. Begins to crack a smile)
You're right. I just wasn't sure you knew.
It's written all over you like a neon sign.
Now say something nice to Rashid to make him
(Peeking into the bag again. Smiles)
Fuck you, kid.
(Beginning to smile)
Fuck you, too, you white son-of-a-bitch.
(Pause. He laughs. Then, slapping
his hands on the table)
Good. I'm glad that's settled!
53. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
PAUL is alone at his desk, typing. The keys suddenly stick, jam up.
(Spreading his hands in front of his
face and addressing his fingers)
Pay attention, boys. Look sharp.
54. INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
Several hours later. As before: PAUL alone at his desk, typing. A loud
knocking is heard at the door. PAUL continues typing. Another loud
knock on the door. PAUL sighs, stands up from his desk, and leaves the
workroom. Shot of PAUL walking through the big room and opening the
front door. Two black men are standing in the hallway. One is very
large, in his mid-thirties; the other is small, in his twenties. They
are Charles Clemm, THE CREEPER, and his sidekick, ROGER GOODWIN.
Mr. Benjamin, I presume?
Before PAUL can respond, CREEPER and GOODWIN push their way past him
into the apartment. GOODWIN slams the door behind him. PAUL backs up
nervously. He positions himself by the windows that look down at the
You got a security problem in this building,
you know that? The lock on that door downstairs
Not a good idea in these troubled times. You
never know what kind of trash might wander in
off the streets.
I'll talk to the landlord about it tomorrow.
You do that. Don't want no unpleasant
surprises, do you?
(Looking them over)
And who do I have the pleasure of talking to
I wouldn't call this pleasure, funny man. I'd
say it's more in the nature of business.
It doesn't matter. I know who you are anyway.
You're the Creeper, aren't you?
(Whipping out a .45 automatic
and pointing it at PAUL)
Ain't nobody calls Charles by that name to his
(Grabs PAUL'S arm and puts
him in a hammerlock)
(Grunting in pain)
Sure, I understand.
Before GOODWIN can do any real violence, the CREEPER waves him off. At
that moment, PAUL glances out the window. Shot of RASHID down on the
street, approaching the building. Shot from RASHID'S POV: We see PAUL
upstairs with his back to the window, moving his hand with a shooing
gesture, trying to warn RASHID of the danger. Another shot of RASHID'S
face, puzzled. Another shot from RASHID'S POV: the CREEPER'S head
enters the picture. Another shot of RASHID: he takes off, running down
the street. As all this happens we hear the following:
Let me tell you the business we're here about.
We want your cooperation in helping us locate a
certain party. We know he's been staying here,
so we don't want no denials about it, understand?
What party are you looking for?
Little Tommy Cole. A homeboy with a brain the
size of a pea.
Tommy Cole? Never heard of him.
By now, RASHID is gone. Shot of PAUL'S face. He glances over his
shoulder at the street below. Shot of the street: no sight of RASHID
anywhere. Followed by a shot of PAUL, CREEPER, and GOODWIN standing in
I'm not sure you heard me the first time. We
know that boy's been here.
You might think you know, but you've got the
wrong information. I never heard of anyone
named Tommy Cole.
(Strolling about the room. Sees
RASHID'S sketch pad on coffee table)
Lookee here, Charles. Ain't cousin Tommy fond
He picks up the pad, flips through it, and then starts ripping up the
drawings and tossing them on the floor.
Hey, what the hell are you doing?
Before GOODWIN answers, CREEPER comes close to PAUL and without any
warning delivers a fast, powerful punch to his stomach. PAUL doubles
over in pain and falls to the floor.
So what's it going to be, funny man? Do you
cooperate, or do we send you to the hospital?
(Walking toward the bookcase,
addressing PAUL over his shoulder)
Hope you got some good Blue Cross, baby.
GOODWIN suddenly starts pulling books off the shelves and sweeping them
violently onto the floor.
55. EXT: DAY. IN FRONT OF THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
AUGGIE is standing with his arm on JIMMY ROSE'S shoulder. We catch them
in mid-conversation. AUGGIE is talking; JIMMY is doing his best to
follow him: looking down at the ground and nodding, surreptitiously
picking his nose. As they talk, we see PAUL walking down the street in
their direction. He is limping: one side of his face is bandaged, his
left arm is in a sling.
... If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't,
it doesn't. Do you understand what I'm saying?
You never know what's going to happen next, and
the moment you think you know, that's the
moment you don't know a goddamn thing. That's
what we call a paradox. Are you following me?
Sure, Auggie. I follow. When you don't know
nothing, it's like paradise. I know what that
is. It's after you're dead and you go up to
heaven and sit with the angels.
(About to correct JIMMY when he
spots PAUL approaching the corner)
Jesus, man, you're one fucking mess.
It could have been worse. If the cops hadn't
come, I might not be standing here now.
Cops? You mean they nabbed those cruds?
No. The ... uh ... the Bobbsey Twins lit out
when they heard the sirens. But at least they
stopped playing that marimba duet on my skull.
(Studying PAUL'S wounds)
Fuckus my assus. They did some number on you.
For once in my life I managed to keep my mouth
shut. There's something to be said for that, I
JIMMY, who has been watching PAUL intently since his arrival, gently
and hesitantly raises his hand and touches PAUL'S bruised face. PAUL
Does it hurt?
Of course it hurts. What does it look like?
I thought maybe he was pretending.
You haven't heard from Rashid, have you?
Not a peep.
I spoke to his aunt a couple of days ago, but
she hasn't heard from him either. It's
beginning to get a little scary.
That could be a good sign, though. It could
mean that he got away.
There's no way of knowing, is there?
56. EXT: DAY. A BROOKLYN STREET
We see PAUL walking down the street, returning home. He spots a young
black man from behind. He is wearing the same red "FIRE" T-shirt that
RASHID was wearing in Scene 48. PAUL, growing excited, limps forward to
catch up with him. Once he gets close enough, he taps the young man on
(Wheeling around as if he
had been attacked. Angrily)
What the fuck you want, mister?
I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else.
I ain't someone else, got it? You can go fuck
yourself with your someone else.
57. INT: NIGHT. PAUL'S APARTMENT
PAUL, sitting in his easy chair, continues to work on his story by
hand. The apartment has more or less been put back in order, but
several traces of the CREEPER'S visit remain: bits of broken furniture,
a pile of destroyed books in one corner, etc.
After a few moments, PAUL gets up from his chair, walks over to the
television set, and turns it on. We hear the crowd noises of a baseball
game, the voice of the announcer describing the action, but there is no
image: Only a single white line across the black screen. PAUL mutters
under his breath and pounds the top of the TV. An image jumps into
view: a baseball game in progress. PAUL backs up to watch. The moment
he steps back, the image vanishes. Once again we see the white line
across the black screen. PAUL steps forward and pounds the TV again.
Nothing happens. He pounds again, and still the white line remains.
The camera moves in slowly for a close-up of the TV screen. The camera
travels through it, into the darkness. After a moment we hear the
clicking of PAUL'S keyboard. The sounds of typing resonate in the void.
58. EXT: LATE MORNING. THE BROOKLYN PROMENADE
Sunday, late morning, brilliant sunshine. Against the backdrop of lower
Manhattan, we see the summer weekend crowd along the Promenade: old
people on benches reading newspapers, young couples out with their
babies, girls on roller skates, boys on skateboards, bag ladies, bums.
Traveling camera. Amongst the bustle of bodies and colors, we see the
Brooklyn Bridge off to the right, a spider web of cables set against
the buildings of upper Manhattan; to the left we see the expanse of New
York Harbor, the Staten Island ferry, the Statue of Liberty. AUGGIE and
RUBY are walking along the promenade, deep in conversation. AUGGIE is
clean-shaven, his hair is slicked back, and he is wearing his white
pants and a bright red Hawaiian shirt. RUBY is wearing sunglasses,
black toreador pants, and spike heels.
So you're just going to give up and go home?
I don't have much choice, do I? It's pretty
clear she doesn't want me around.
Still, you can't just write her off.
Yeah? And what else am I supposed to do?
There's no baby anymore, and if she wants to
throw away her life, that's her business.
She's just a kid. There's time for more babies
later. After she grows up.
Dream on, Auggie. She'll be lucky to make it to
her nineteenth birthday.
Not if you got her into one of those rehab
I'd never be able to talk her into it. And even
if I could, those things cost money. And that's
just what I don't have. I'm flat out dead broke.
No you're not.
Are you calling me a liar? I'm telling you I'm
broke. I don't even have insurance on my
(Ignoring her remark)
Remember that business venture I was telling
you about? Well, my tugboat came in. I'm flush.
Bully for you.
No, bully for you.
He reaches into his pocket, pulls out a long white envelope, and hands
it to RUBY.
Why don't you open it and find out?
(Opens the envelope. It
is filled with cash)
Jesus God, Auggie. There's money in here.
Five thousand bucks.
And you're giving it to me?
It's all yours, baby.
(Moved, to the point of tears)
(Now crying in earnest)
I can't believe it. Oh God, I can't believe it.
(Pause, to catch her breath)
You're an angel, Auggie. An angel from heaven.
She tries to put her arms around him, but AUGGIE squirms away.
Fuck this angel shit. Just take the dough,
Ruby. But no bawling, okay? I can't stand
people who blubber.
I'm sorry, baby. I can't help it.
RUBY pulls a handkerchief from her purse and blows her nose, honking
loudly. AUGGIE lights a cigarette. After a moment they start walking
There's just one thing I want to know.
Anything, Auggie. Just name it.
AUGGIE stops walking.
She's not my daughter, is she?
Long pause. Close-up of RUBY'S face.
I don't know, Auggie. She might be. Then again,
she might not. Mathematically speaking, there's
a fifty-fifty chance. It's your call.
Close-up of AUGGIE'S face. After a moment, he begins to smile. Fade
59. EXT: DAY. SEVENTH AVENUE
We see PAUL walking down the crowded street with a manila envelope
tucked under his arm.
60. INT: DAY. THE BOOKSTORE
We see APRIL behind the counter. She is ringing up a sale for a
CUSTOMER, an Indian woman dressed in a sari.
PAUL enters the store and approaches the counter. When APRIL looks up
and notices who it is, her face brightens -- then instantly shows alarm
at the sight of PAUL'S wounds and bandages. She completely forgets
about the customer.
Jesus, what happened to you?
(Shrugging it off)
It looks worse than it is. I'm okay.
I'll tell you all about it...
(Glancing around the store)
... but not here.
It's been a while. I thought maybe you'd be in
Yeah, well, I've sort of been out of commission.
Almost done. A week or ten days, and I'll be
Miss, could I have my change, please?
Oh, I'm sorry.
(Hands the woman her change)
And my book.
(She slips the book -- Portrait of a Lady
-- into a bag and gives it to the woman)
The CUSTOMER leaves, glancing over her shoulder with a disapproving
look at APRIL and PAUL.
(Extending the manila envelope to APRIL)
I finished my story. I thought you might want
to take a look at it.
(Taking the envelope -- and at the same
moment understanding the significance
of PAUL'S gesture. She begins to smile)
I'd love to.
Good. I hope you like it. It was a long time in
(Glancing at her watch)
I get off for lunch in ten minutes. Can I treat
you to a hamburger?
Uh ... actually, it might be better if you read
the story first. Call me when you're finished,
(A bit mystified, but putting a
good face on her disappointment)
Okay. I'll read it tonight and call you
(Weighing the envelope in her hand)
It doesn't seem to be too long.
Another CUSTOMER -- a young white man of about twenty -- appears at
the counter with a copy of On the Road. PAUL begins backing toward the
You won't forget to call?
I won't forget. I promise.
61. INT: NIGHT. PAUL'S APARTMENT
The telephone rings -- two, three, four times -- but no one is there to
answer it. Cut to:
62 INT: NIGHT. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
Shot of the empty store. We hear a telephone ringing in the distance.
63. INT: NIGHT. AUGGIE'S APARTMENT
AUGGIE is sitting alone at his kitchen table, removing recently
developed photographs from a yellow Kodak envelope. The 1990 album lies
open on the table before him. One by one, AUGGIE affixes a small white
label to the lower-right-hand corner of each image, carefully marking
the date on each label with a pen: 7-30-90, 7-31-90; 8-1-90; etc. Then,
one by one, he slips each photo into its appropriate place in the
album. AUGGIE smokes a cigarette, hums a song under his breath, sips
from a glass of bourbon. He looks like a beachcomber: unshaven, tousled
hair, bare-chested, wearing a pair of baggy shorts.
The telephone is ringing. Not to be rushed, AUGGIE slides another photo
into its place, takes a sip of his drink, and then, finally, answers
Bureau of Missing Persons. Sergeant Fosdick.
Well, blow me down. Peter Rabbit's alive.
Yeah, that's cool. No problem.
Danzinger Road, Peekskill.
Yeah, I got it. I don't need no pencil.
How the hell do I know? I can't help it if he's
not answering his phone.
So you're the one who called the cops, huh?
Yeah, I mean it. Good work. It probably saved
You got that right. Bad. You owe him a lot,
No, not tomorrow. I have to work, chuckle
brain -- remember?
No, not Saturday either. Sunday.
Yeah. Right. Okay.
Yeah, and kiss my ass, too.
(Pause. Listens. Smiles again)
(Hangs up the phone)
64. EXT: DAY. PAUL'S STREET
Sunday morning. PAUL and AUGGIE are walking together on the sidewalk.
PAUL is carrying RASHID'S backpack.
So what did he say when he called?
Nothing much. He said his socks and underpants
were dirty, and would we mind driving up with
Fucking kids, huh? They take you for granted
AUGGIE stops in front of a car parked at the curb: a fifteen-year-old
red Coupe de Ville.
Nice machine, Auggie. Where'd you find it?
It's Tommy's. The sucker owed me a favor.
AUGGIE unlocks the door on the passenger side, then walks around the
car to unlock the door on the driver's side.
(Opening the door)
It's not a long drive. An hour, an hour and a
half. We'll be back in time for dinner.
We'd better be. I haven't spent a night out of
Brooklyn in fourteen years, and I'm not about
to break my record now. Besides, I've got to be
on my corner at eight sharp tomorrow morning.
They both climb into the car. AUGGIE starts up the engine. Cut to:
65. INT/EXT: DAY. PEEKSKILL. COLE'S GARAGE
We see RASHID painting the walls in the upstairs room. The room has
been transformed since the last time we saw it. It is entirely bare now
and neat as a pin. With each touch of white paint that RASHID applies
to the walls, the look of the place improves. He works with care, proud
of what he has accomplished so far.
Suddenly: the noise of a car down below. RASHID goes to the open window
and looks out. Cut to:
From RASHID'S POV: We see CYRUS, DOREEN, and JUNIOR pull up in the blue
Ford. They get out. DOREEN is carrying a large picnic cooler. CYRUS
opens the back door and unbuckles JUNIOR from his seat.
(Mumbling, alarm in his voice)
Oh, Jesus. What are they doing here on Sunday?
(Waving up to RASHID)
Hi, Paul. We decided to have a picnic. Want to
Cut to RASHID at the window:
Uh, yeah, sure.
Just a minute. I'll be down in a minute.
Cut to RASHID in the upstairs room. He crouches down, puts the brush he
has been working with on top of the open paint can, and begins wiping
his hands with a rag when, suddenly, the noise of another car is heard
down below. RASHID stands up to have a look. Cut to:
From RASHID'S POV: We see the red Coupe de Ville limping into the
station with a flat tire. The car stops. PAUL and AUGGIE climb out.
Close-up of RASHID, looking out the window. His face registers panic,
He begins running toward the door, hoping to get downstairs to PAUL and
AUGGIE before CYRUS can reach them. In his haste, he kicks over the
open paint bucket.
The scene ends with a close-up of white paint oozing over the bare wood
66. EXT: DAY. IN FRONT OF COLE'S GARAGE
Shot of CYRUS, DOREEN, and JUNIOR by the picnic table, unpacking their
lunch. The camera pans from CYRUS -- beginning to walk toward PAUL and
AUGGIE -- to PAUL and AUGGIE, who are standing by the gas pumps. We see
PAUL and AUGGIE looking in the direction of the office, smiles
beginning to form on their faces. At the precise instant CYRUS gets to
them, RASHID enters the frame, panting hard from his dash down the
(Looking at PAUL'S wounds and
bandages. He is shocked)
Wow. They sure did a job on you.
Research. I worked the scene right into my
That makes the medical bills one hundred
percent tax deductible.
(Under his breath)
Try selling that one to the IRS.
(Watching the exchange with a
confused look on his face. To RASHID)
You know these men?
(Gesturing to the flat tire)
I thought we had some customers.
Yeah, he knows us. But you've also got some
(Wheels around and kicks
the Coupe de Ville)
Fucking Tommy. Leave it to him to drive around
with bald tires.
We came here to deliver some clean laundry.
It's all right. I really do know them.
(Still confused, but
trying to be friendly)
I'm the owner here. Cyrus Cole.
(Extends his right hand to AUGGIE)
(Shaking CYRUS'S hand)
CYRUS extends his right hand to PAUL.
(Shaking CYRUS'S hand)
Cut to close-up of RASHID'S face. The sky has just fallen on top of
(More confused than ever.
Turning to RASHID)
That's funny. His name is the same as yours.
(In a panic)
Well, you and Junior have the same name, too,
Yeah, but he's my son. Nothing strange about
that. He's my own flesh and blood. But here
you got the same name as this man here, and
you're not even the same color.
That's how we met. We're members of the
International Same Name Club. Believe it or
not, there are 846 Paul Benjamins in America.
But only two in the New York metropolitan area.
That's how Paul and I got to be such good
friends. We're the only ones who show up at
You're full of crap, kid. Why don't you just
come clean and tell the man who you are?
By now, drawn by curiosity, DOREEN has come over to where the four men
are standing. She is carrying JUNIOR in her arms.
(Turning to PAUL)
What the hell's going on, mister?
(Shrugs, gestures to RASHID)
You better ask him.
Yeah, Rashid baby, spill it.
(In a loud voice)
Sometimes. It's what you'd call a nom de
(More and more confused)
What the hell are we talking about?
Come on. Tell him your real name. The name on
your birth certificate.
Close-up of RASHID'S face. His lower lip is trembling. Tears are
beginning to form in his eyes.
Paul. Rashid. Thomas. Which one is it?
Come on, come on, you yellow belly. The whole
thing. First name and last name.
(Trying to stall. Tears begin
to slide down his cheeks)
What difference does it make?
If it doesn't make any difference, why not just
(To PAUL, his voice breaking)
I was going to tell him ... but in my own time.
In my own time... .
No time like the present, man.
(Blinking back the tears.
Looking at CYRUS)
Thomas Cole. My name is Thomas Jefferson Cole.
Are you making fun of me? I won't be mocked. Do
you hear me? I won't let no punk kid stand
there and mock me!
(Reaching out to CYRUS)
(Standing his ground)
Like it or not, Cyrus, that's my name. Cole.
Just like yours.
Now ask him who his mother was.
I don't like this. I don't like it one bit.
Louisa Vail. Remember her, Cyrus?
You shut your mouth! You shut your mouth now!
Unable to control his rage, CYRUS hauls off and slugs RASHID in the
face. RASHID falls to the ground.
Hey, cut it out!
AUGGIE takes a wild swing and clips CYRUS in the mouth. DOREEN, seeing
her husband attacked, gives AUGGIE a quick kick in the shins. AUGGIE
lets out a yell and starts hopping up and down in pain.
Damn you. There'll be none of that on my watch,
you dumpy bag of shit.
DOREEN puts down JUNIOR. The little boy immediately runs over to PAUL
and whacks him on his bad arm. PAUL howls in pain and drops to the
ground. The whole scene is quickly degenerating into chaos.
In the meantime, RASHID has climbed back to his feet. He lines up
CYRUS, rushes toward him, and tackles him to the ground. The two of
them roll around on the macadam, fighting with all their strength.
After a moment, it looks as though CYRUS is getting the better of the
struggle. AUGGIE tries to pull them apart, but to no avail.
(Pounding CYRUS on the
back with her fists)
Stop it! Stop it! You'll kill him, Cyrus!
DOREEN'S shrieking voice brings the fight to a momentary halt. CYRUS
rolls off RASHID and stands up. RASHID stands up as well. But the
hatred between them has not subsided. CYRUS raises his hook.
He's your son, goddammit! He's your son! Do you
want to kill your son?
Suddenly: CYRUS stops. He lowers his arm and buries his face in his
right hand. A moment later, he breaks down and weeps. His sobbing makes
a terrible sound: pure, animal misery. He staggers around, then falls
to his knees, unable to stop the tears.
Cut to RASHID. He stands there without moving, watching CYRUS. He drops
his arms to his sides, unclenches his fists. Tears are pouring down his
cheeks, he is breathing hard. Close-up of his face.
67. EXT: DAY. THE PICNIC TABLE OUTSIDE COLE'S GARAGE
Some time later.
Long shot. We see everyone from the previous scene sitting at the
picnic table eating lunch: fried chicken, lemonade, potato chips, etc.
The image has the effect of a still life.
DOREEN is sitting next to CYRUS. RASHID is holding JUNIOR in his arms,
gently rocking him as the child drinks milk from a bottle with his eyes
closed. AUGGIE and PAUL are sitting next to each other, eating chicken
and listening to DOREEN (who is the only one who has the energy to
talk). CYRUS looks sullen, defeated. Every once in a while, he steals a
glance at RASHID. RASHID, however, pretends to ignore him, keeping his
eyes fixed on the sleeping JUNIOR.
At first we hear nothing. Then the camera moves in for a closer shot
and we can begin to make out what DOREEN is saying. As she speaks, we
see Paul reach into his pocket and take out a tin of his little cigars.
He leans forward and offers one to CYRUS, but CYRUS reaches into his
own pocket and offers PAUL a big cigar. Paul accepts and lights up.
CYRUS then lights up one of his own.
... It might not have been the smartest
investment, but it didn't cost much, and if
Cyrus can make a go of it, we'll be able to
take care of our needs. The man knows his way
around cars, I'll tell you that, but the
problem is this road is too far off the beaten
track. Ever since they put in that mall, the
traffic hasn't been too heavy around here. But
you take the good with the bad, right? You do
your best and hope that things work out...
Music begins to play. Cut to:
68. BLACK SCREEN
The music continues. After a few moments, the following words appear on
the screen: "THREE MONTHS LATER."
69. EXT: DAY. ELEVATED SUBWAY, BROOKLYN
The music continues to play. We see an elevated subway train snaking
along the tracks in the dim November light.
70. INT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
AUGGIE is behind the counter, wearing a flannel shirt. The three OTB
MEN are there with him, as in Scene 2. JIMMY enters the store and
places a paper bag on the counter in front of AUGGIE, then slides
around the counter and takes a seat beside AUGGIE. JIMMY studies his
watch. AUGGIE removes a cup of take-out coffee from the bag. He lifts
off the cover and steam rises from the cup. In the meantime, we see and
hear the OTB MEN talking.
Of course there's gonna be a war. You think
they'd send five hundred thousand troops over
there just to lie in the sun? I mean, there's
plenty of beach, but not a hell of a lot of
water. Half a million soldiers. It ain't no
seaside holiday, you can bet on that.
I don't know, Tommy. You think anyone gives a
rat's ass about Kuwait? I read something about
the head sheik over there. He marries a
different virgin every Friday and then divorces
her on Monday. You think we want to have our
kids dying for a guy like that?
That's one way of upholding American values,
Laugh all you want. I'm telling you there's
gonna be a war. With things in Russia falling
apart, those slobs in the Pentagon'll be out of
work unless they find a new enemy. They got
this Saddam character now, and they're going to
hit him with all they've got. Mark my words.
PAUL enters the store wearing a scarf and leather jacket. The OTB MEN
stop talking and study him as he approaches the counter.
Hey, man, how's it going?
Without waiting for PAUL to ask, AUGGIE turns around, pulls out two
tins of Schimmelpennincks from the cigar cabinet, and places them on
Uh, better make it one.
You usually get two.
Yeah, I know, but I'm trying to cut down.
Somebody's worried about my health.
(Twitching his eyebrows playfully)
PAUL shrugs with embarrassment, then slowly breaks into a warm smile.
And how's the work going these days, maestro?
(Still grinning. Absentmindedly)
(Pause. Pulling himself together)
Or it was until a couple of days ago. A guy
from The New York Times called and asked me
to write a Christmas story. They want to
publish it on Christmas Day.
That's a feather in your cap, man. The paper
Yeah, great. The problem is, I have four days
to come up with something, and I don't have a
You know anything about Christmas stories?
Christmas stories? Sure, I know a ton of 'em.
Good? Of course. Are you kidding?
I'll tell you what. Buy me lunch, my friend,
and I'll tell you the best Christmas story you
ever heard. How's that? And I guarantee every
word of it is true.
It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be
(Turning to JIMMY ROSE)
Take over the register while I'm gone, okay,
(Begins to extricate himself
from behind the counter)
You want me to do it, Auggie? You sure you want
me to do it?
Sure I'm sure. Just remember what I taught you.
And don't let any of these kibitzers cause
(Gestures to OTB MEN)
You got a problem, you come and see me. I'll
be down the block at Jack's.
Jack's is fine.
PAUL and AUGGIE leave the store together.
71. INT: DAY. JACK'S RESTAURANT
A cramped and boisterous kosher delicatessen with sports photographs on
the walls: old Brooklyn Dodger teams, the 1969 Mets, a portrait of
Jackie Robinson. PAUL and AUGGIE are sitting at a table in the back,
studying the menus.
I have to pee. If the waiter comes, order me
a corned beef on rye and a ginger ale, okay?
You got it.
PAUL stands up and leaves to go to the men's room. Alone at the table,
AUGGIE glances down at the empty chair next to him and sees a copy of
the New York Post. The paper is open to an article with a headline that
reads: "SHOOTOUT IN BROOKLYN." AUGGIE bends over to inspect the article
more closely. Close-up of the article. We see photographs of CHARLES
CLEMM (the CREEPER) and ROBERT GOODWIN and their names in the captions.
A secondary headline reads: "ROBBERS KILLED IN JEWEL HEIST." In the
meantime, as AUGGIE continues to study the article, the WAITER arrives
to take his order. He is a round, balding, middle-aged man with a weary
expression on his face.
What'll it be, Auggie?
(Pointing to PAUL'S empty place)
My friend over here would like a corned beef on
rye and a ginger ale.
Shot of WAITER holding pencil and order pad.
And what about for you?
(Reading the paper again. Suddenly
remembers the WAITER is there)
What about for you?
I'll have the same thing.
(Looks down at the article again)
Do me a favor, will you?
(Glancing up again)
What's that, Sol?
Next time, when you want two corned beef
sandwiches, say, "Two corned beef sandwiches."
When you want two ginger ales, say, "Two
What's the difference?
It's simpler, that's what. It makes things go
(Mystified. Humoring the WAITER)
Uh, sure, Sol. Anything you say. Instead of
saying, "One corned beef sandwich," and then,
"Another corned beef sandwich," I'll say, "Two
corned beef sandwiches."
Thanks. I knew you'd understand.
The WAITER leaves. AUGGIE looks down at the article again. PAUL returns
and sits down in his chair across from AUGGIE.
So. Are we ready?
Ready. Any time you are.
I'm all ears.
You remember how you once asked me how I
started taking pictures? Well, this is the
story of how I got my first camera. As a matter
of fact, it's the only camera I've ever had.
Are you following me so far?
(Close-up of AUGGIE'S face)
So this is the story of how it happened.
It was the summer of 'seventy-six, back when I
first started working for Vinnie. The summer of
A kid came in one morning and started stealing
things from the store. He's standing by the
rack of paperbacks near the front window
stuffing skin magazines under his shirt. It
was crowded around the counter just then, so I
didn't see him at first....
AUGGIE'S face dissolves into PAUL'S. Black-and-white footage begins: we
see AUGGIE acting out the events he describes to PAUL. This scene
exactly duplicates the events shown earlier in Scenes 2 and 3 -- with
one difference. The thief is now ROGER GOODWIN, the same person who
beat up PAUL in Scene 54, the same person whose picture AUGGIE has just
noticed in the newspaper. The events unfold in silence, accompanied by
AUGGIE'S voice-over narration.
But once I noticed what he was up to, I started
to shout. He took off like a jackrabbit, and by
the time I managed to get out from behind the
counter, he was already tearing down Seventh
Avenue. I chased after him for about half a
block, and then I gave up. He'd dropped
something along the way, and since I didn't
feel like running anymore, I bent down to see
what it was.
We see AUGGIE chasing the kid, giving up, and bending down for the
wallet. He starts walking back to the store.
It turned out to be his wallet. There wasn't
any money inside, but his driver's license was
there, along with three or four snapshots. I
suppose I could have called the cops and had
him arrested. I had his name and address from
the license, but I felt kind of sorry for him.
He was just a measly little punk, and once I
looked at those pictures in his wallet, I
couldn't bring myself to feel very angry at
We see AUGGIE examining the pictures. Close-ups of the pictures.
Roger Goodwin. That was his name. In one of the
pictures, I remember, he was standing next to
his mother. In another one, he was holding some
trophy he got from school and smiling like he
just won the Irish Sweepstakes. I just didn't
have the heart. A poor kid from Brooklyn
without much going for him, and who cared about
a couple of dirty magazines, anyway?
Cut to Jack's Restaurant. The WAITER arrives at the table with their
Here you go, boys. Two corned beef sandwiches.
Two ginger ales. The fast way. The simple way.
(Putting mustard on his sandwich)
(Taking a sip of his drink)
So I held onto the wallet. Every once in a
while I'd get a little urge to send it back to
him, but I kept delaying and never did anything
(Puts mustard on his sandwich)
Then Christmas rolls around, and I'm stuck with
nothing to do. Vinnie was going to invite me
over, but his mother got sick, and he and his
wife had to go down to Florida at the last
(Takes a bite of the sandwich, chews)
So I'm sitting in my apartment that morning,
feeling a little sorry for myself, and then I
see Roger Goodwin's wallet lying on a shelf in
the kitchen. I figure what the hell, why not do
something nice for once, and I put on my coat
and go out to return the wallet... .
Cut to black-and-white footage: the housing projects in Boerum Hill. We
see AUGGIE wandering alone among the buildings, bundled up against the
cold. At the same time, we hear:
The address was over in Boerum Hill, somewhere
in the projects. It was freezing out that day,
and I remember getting lost a few times trying
to find the right building. Everything looks
the same in that place, and you keep going over
the same ground thinking you're somewhere else.
Anyway, I finally get to the apartment I'm
looking for and ring the bell...
Shot of AUGGIE walking down a corridor in the housing projects;
graffiti on the cinder-block walls. He stops in front of a door and
pushes the buzzer.
Nothing happens. I assume no one's there, but I
try again just to make sure. I wait a little
longer, and just when I'm about to give up, I
hear someone shuffling to the door. An old
woman's voice asks, "Who's there?" and I say
I'm looking for Roger Goodwin. "Is that you,
Roger?" the old woman says, and then she undoes
about fifteen locks and opens the door....
Shot of a very old black woman, GRANNY ETHEL, opening the door. A
rapturous, expectant smile is on her face. Even though the scene
unfolds in silence, we see AUGGIE and GRANNY ETHEL mouthing the
dialogue that AUGGIE repeats to PAUL.
She has to be at least eighty, maybe ninety
years old, and the first thing I notice about
her is she's blind. "I knew you'd come. Roger,"
she says. "I knew you wouldn't forget your
Granny Ethel on Christmas." And then she opens
her arms as if she's about to hug me.
We see AUGGIE hesitate for a second. As he reports the next little part
of the story, we see him giving in, opening his arms, and hugging
GRANNY ETHEL. The hug is then repeated in somewhat slower motion, then
again in slow motion; then again, in very slow motion: then again in
motion so slow that it appears as a sequence of still photographs.
I don't have much time to think, you understand.
I had to say something real fast, and before I
knew what was happening, I could hear the words
coming out of my mouth. "That's right, Granny
Ethel," I said. "I came back to see you on
Christmas." Don't ask me why I did it. I don't
have any idea. It just came out that way, and
suddenly this old woman's hugging me there in
front of the door, and I'm hugging her back. It
was like a game we both decided to play --
without having to discuss the rules. I mean,
that woman knew I wasn't her grandson. She was
old and dotty, but she wasn't so far gone that
she couldn't tell the difference between a
stranger and her own flesh and blood. But it
made her happy to pretend, and since I had
nothing better to do anyway, I was happy to go
along with her....
AUGGIE and GRANNY ETHEL enter the apartment and sit down in chairs in
the living room. We see them talking, laughing. Meanwhile, we hear:
So we went into the apartment and spent the day
together. Every time she asked me a question
about how I was, I would lie to her. I told her
I'd found a good job in a cigar store. I told
her I was about to get married. I told her a
hundred pretty stories, and she made like she
believed every one of them. "That's fine,
Roger," she would say, nodding her head and
smiling. "I always knew things would work out
The camera pans slowly through GRANNY ETHEL'S apartment, lingering
momentarily on various objects. Among other things, we see portraits of
Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, family photographs, balls of
yarn, knitting needles. By the time this visual tour is completed, we
see AUGGIE entering the apartment again, wearing his coat and carrying
a large bag of groceries. As described in the simultaneous narration:
After a while, I started getting hungry. There
didn't seem to be much food in the house, so I
went out to a store in the neighborhood and
brought back a mess of stuff. A precooked
chicken, vegetable soup, a bucket of potato
salad, all kinds of things. Ethel had a couple
of bottles of wine stashed in her bedroom, and
so between us we managed to put together a
fairly decent Christmas dinner....
We see AUGGIE and GRANNY ETHEL at the dining-room table: eating the
food, drinking the wine, talking.
We both got a little tipsy from the wine, I
remember, and after the meal was over we went
out to sit in the living room where the chairs
were more comfortable...
We see AUGGIE leading GRANNY ETHEL by the arm and helping her into a
chair. Then AUGGIE leaves the living room and walks to the bathroom
down the hall.
I had to take a pee, so I excused myself and
went to the bathroom down the hall. That's
where things took another turn. It was ditsy
enough doing my little jig as Ethel's
grandson, but what I did next was positively
crazy, and I've never forgiven myself for
We see AUGGIE in the bathroom. As he pees, we see the boxes of cameras,
just as he describes them.
I go into the bathroom, and stacked up against
the wall next to the shower, I see a pile of
six or seven cameras. Brand-new, thirty-five
millimeter cameras, still in their boxes. I
figure this is the work of the real Roger, a
storage place for one of his recent hauls.
I've never taken a picture in my life, and I've
certainly never stolen anything, but the moment
I see those cameras sitting in the bathroom, I
decide I want one of them for myself. Just like
that. And without even stopping to think about
it, I tuck one of the boxes under my arm and go
back to the living room....
We see AUGGIE return to the living room with the camera. GRANNY ETHEL
is sleeping soundly in her chair. AUGGIE puts the camera down, clears
the table, and washes the dishes in the kitchen.
I couldn't have been gone for more than three
minutes, but in that time Granny Ethel had
fallen asleep. Too much Chianti, I suppose. I
went into the kitchen to wash the dishes, and
she slept on through the whole racket, snoring
like a baby. There didn't seem to be any point
in disturbing her, so I decided to leave. I
couldn't even write a note to say good-bye,
seeing that she was blind and all, so I just
left. I put her grandson's wallet on the table,
picked up the camera again, and walked out of
the apartment... .
We see AUGGIE bending over the sleeping GRANNY ETHEL and deciding not
to wake her. We see him put the wallet on the table and pick up the
camera. We see him walking out of the apartment. Shot of the closing
And that's the end of the story.
Cut to PAUL'S face. PAUL and AUGGIE are sitting at the table, eating
the last bites of their sandwiches.
Did you ever go back to see her?
Once, about three or four months later. I felt
so bad about stealing the camera, I hadn't
even used it yet. I finally made up my mind to
return it, but Granny Ethel wasn't there
anymore. Someone else had moved into the
apartment, and he couldn't tell me where she
She probably died.
Which means that she spent her last Christmas
I guess so. I never thought of it that way.
It was a good deed, Auggie. It was a nice thing
you did for her.
I lied to her, and then I stole from her. I
don't see how you can call that a good deed.
You made her happy. And the camera was stolen
anyway. It's not as if the person you took it
from really owned it.
Anything for art, eh, Paul?
I wouldn't say that. But at least you've put
the camera to good use.
And now you've got your Christmas story, don't
Yes, I suppose I do.
PAUL looks at AUGGIE. A wicked grin is spreading across AUGGIE'S face.
The look in his eyes is so mysterious, so fraught with the glow of some
inner delight, that PAUL begins to suspect that AUGGIE has made the
whole thing up. He is about to ask AUGGIE if he has been putting him on
-- but then stops, realizing that AUGGIE would never tell him. PAUL
Bullshit is a real talent, Auggie. To make up a
good story, a person has to know how to push
all the right buttons.
I'd say you're up there among the masters.
What do you mean?
I mean, it's a good story.
Shit. If you can't share your secrets with your
friends, what kind of friend are you?
Exactly. Life just wouldn't be worth living,
AUGGIE is still smiling. PAUL smiles back at him. AUGGIE lights a
cigarette; PAUL lights a little cigar. They blow smoke into the air,
still smiling at each other.
The camera follows the smoke as it rises toward the ceiling. Close-up
of the smoke. Hold for three, four beats.
The screen goes black. Music begins to play. Final credits.
Screenplay by Paul Auster