Carv's Thinky Blog I'm an author with a focus on satirical sci-fi and agnostic commentary.

Big Questions

FADE IN:

THE STUDIO LOGO

LIGHTNING strikes...

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM

SEAN RILEY (20) gazes out the window at DIMMING SKIES. He's
stocky, with a wide expressive face. THUNDER rolls, and a
few light patters of RAIN tick against the window.

An English professor, DR. LANTZ, paces the room.

DR. LANTZ
The movies are about what people do, but
a novel is about what people think, how
they feel. And for the writer, that's a
far more self-revelatory challenge...
Are we boring you, Mr. Riley? Mea culpa.

SEAN
(distracted)
Huh? No, I'm sorry, Dr. Lantz. I just
realized there's a storm coming in.

THROUGH THE WINDOW:

DARK CLOUDS rear over a small wooded CAMPUS outside.

BACK TO SCENE

DR. LANTZ
It's early spring in Oklahoma, Sean.
What did you expect, a Polynesian luau?

The CLASS titters. Sean smiles, a bit sadly, and returns to
taking notes.

CUT TO:

INT. STUDENT UNION SNACK BAR

Sean sits alone, distractedly munching a PIZZA POCKET--which
splits, plopping warm tomato sauce all over his sweater. He
grunts and dabs at the sauce with a napkin. Now he needs to
wash his hands, so he lurches toward a water fountain--

--almost colliding with a pretty coed, MELANIE CAMERON (19).
If she smiled, beams of light would seem to shoot from her
face; but unfortunately, she's not smiling right now. In
fact, she looks more like she's seen an ex-boyfriend.

SEAN
Oh, excuse me, I--

MELANIE
Oh!

SEAN
Melanie! Uhhh--

MELANIE
Sean. Hello.

SEAN
Hi. Uh...How ya been?

MELANIE
Oh, you know, okay, all things
considered. How are Dylan and Ben?

SEAN
Same as always. You know.

MELANIE
Yeah. Well--

SEAN
Right.

MELANIE
You uh, got a spill there, on your shirt.

SEAN
Yeah, I know, I...gotta...clean it.
(indicating restroom doors)
So I uh...guess I better go do that.

He rubs in a handful of water from the water fountain, then
rolls up his sleeves.

MELANIE
Yeah. Hey, maybe I'll call you some
time.

SEAN
That'd be cool.
(unsure)
Uh, maybe we could--

MELANIE
What?

SEAN
(after a beat)
Never mind. I guess I'll see you around.

MELANIE
'Bye.

Sean nods and ducks into...

INT. MEN'S ROOM

...where he leans against the door.

SEAN
Argh, my heart!

He regards the blood-red stain on his chest.

SEAN (CONT'D)
She got me again.

A TORNADO WARNING SOUNDS. It's a slow, ascending-descending
wail, the bane of all Midwestern trailer park denizens. Sean
reacts with a roll of his eyes, more annoyed than concerned.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Oh, what now?

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY - DARK AND CLOUDY

Sean trots up to his friends DYLAN (22) and BEN (19).
They're all over this story, so for now I'll just say this:
Dylan is well-dressed and chain-smokes Marlboro Lights, while
Ben is cute-short with an easy grin. Oh, and one more thing:
Dylan is a Mensan. Ben...isn't.

SEAN
Dylan. Ben.

DYLAN
How goes it?

Dylan indicates the pizza stains on Sean's shirt.

DYLAN (CONT'D)
Shaving your nipples again?

SEAN
Yeah, I just can't help myself.
Pizza pocket got away from me.

DYLAN
Very smooth. And I take it you've come
to join us in the time-honored Okie
tradition of watching twisters go by?

SEAN
Nah, it's not like we'll ever get hit.
We're in a valley; they hop right over
us.

BEN
I don't know, man. Y'know that weather
guy for Channel 9 who does those lectures
on tornadoes?

SEAN
Yeah, isn't he speaking here tonight?

DYLAN
His helicopter took off about fifteen
minutes ago. He was here long enough to
lean out, mumble "not for a million
dollars," and get the hell out of Dodge.

SEAN
That's encouraging.

BEN
Maybe the college forgot to pay him.

SEAN
It's as good an explanation as--

DYLAN
(pointing skyward)
Wait, look over there.

SEAN
Is that what I think it is?

BEN
Looks kinda like a funnel.

DYLAN
That's because it's a funnel cloud, Ben.

SEAN
Riiiight. And funnel clouds, if I'm not
mistaken--

DYLAN
Make tornadoes, yes. We may be in for a
spot of inclement weather here.

BEN
Ohhh, shit. I'm outta here.

SEAN
See ya.
(as Ben jogs away)
Maybe Ben has the right idea for once.

DYLAN
That's impossible. He's got the brains
of a retarded cockatiel.

SEAN
I know, but--

DYLAN
Shhh. Do you hear that?

SEAN
(as the sky ROARS)
You mean that scary locomotive noise?

DYLAN
That's the one.

SEAN
Yeah, I hear it, but--that isn't coming
from the funnel cloud, it's coming from
right over--
(noticing Dylan has run away)
Huh.

Sean's eyes suddenly WIDEN IN UNMITIGATED FEAR. We don't
know what he sees (yet), but it's BAD.

He staggers back a step.

Suddenly notices his arm hair is STANDING UP.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Melanie!

Turns to run for his life. But before he can take three
steps, a brilliant pulse of ELECTRIC FIRE punches into him,
flipping him end over end. He smashes into the ground.

As the TRAIN NOISE reaches a crescendo, we take a closer look
at Sean. Crimson BURNS paint his right arm, and his PUPILS
are two different sizes. He twitches once, then lays silent.

THE SKY DARKENS.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
(after a beat)
They say your whole life passes before
your eyes, but all I could see was a few
months' worth, a delirious flashback to
the Time of Big Questions...On the plus
side, I can now speak in voice-over
narration.

As Sean's pupils fill the screen, we...

FADE TO:

BLACK

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Perhaps I am about to die. The Grim
Reaper doesn't care about happy endings.

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY

Beautiful late autumn sunshine. Sean walks across campus in
different clothes; he carries an armload of books.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Return with me now to those thrilling
days of yesteryear...well, last year, to
be precise, my junior year at SCSU.

INT. COLLEGE LIBRARY

Sean burns the mid-afternoon oil.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
As an English major, I knew eighty-seven
eloquent ways to say "I love you," but
had no one to say them to. Er...to whom
I might say them. But then I saw...her.

Sean rubs the bridge of his nose to forestall a headache.
Squints and opens his eyes to see--

Melanie.

All else FADES into irrelevance.

Her long hair tied in a ribbon. Reading glasses accentuate
her cute button nose. We can almost smell floral perfume.
And bless her heart, she is reading to a FOUR-YEAR-OLD GIRL.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Melanie Cameron. Wow. She was, in form
and grace, inarguable proof of the
divine. Angels wept to espy their better
...This lady was hot.

Sean has stars in his eyes. He reaches out as if to touch
her, run his fingers through her hair, stroke her skin.

INT. COLLEGE LIBRARY - CHECK-OUT COUNTER

Sean dumps twelve thick tomes on the counter. A beat later,
Melanie gets in line behind him, her arms full of books. He
turns at the movement and does a double take.

SEAN
You're reading Snow Crash. I can't
believe you're reading Snow Crash.
That's my favorite novel ever.

MELANIE
No, I'm re-reading Snow Crash.

A few more STUDENTS get in line behind Melanie.

SEAN
You...But...you...it's...cyberpunk, and
you're...I just saw you reading Little
Women to that kid!

MELANIE
(giggling)
She was four.

The CHECK-OUT LADY finishes stamping all Sean's books.

CHECK-OUT LADY
Here's your card, sir.

SEAN
Thanks.
(awkwardly; to Melanie)
I'm Sean Riley.

MELANIE
Melanie Cameron.

CHECK-OUT LADY
(after an awkward beat)
Other patrons are waiting.

SEAN
Will you go out with me? Soon?

MELANIE
I beg your pardon?

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
It was love at first check-out.

CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - THE MAGIC HOUR

A college town so small you could bike across it in thirty
minutes...which helps, since that's exactly what Sean has to
do. He struggles with an enormous backpack. A jaw-breaking
smile divides his face.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Hello, Abilene Sam's Barbecue Burgers 'n'
Brew! Hello, China Queen Restaurant!

Sean cruises past an "E-Z Mart" convenience store.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Hello, Sleazy Mart, for all your quasi
beef jerky and silo-sized beverage needs!
(as the real Sean gasps)
Only twelve more blocks to go. I have a
car, but it hardly ever works, ergo I
still have to bike my sad ass all over
town. No hunk I, but I've got legs like
frozen briskets.

CUT TO:

INT./EXT. THE PIT - GARAGE - SUNDOWN

Sean's front bicycle tire rolls past a nearly-new MAXIMA in
the garage and comes to rest against a workbench. He
dismounts. Drops the kickstand.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Welcome to chez nous, The Pit, thusly
called because I'm the only guy in it who
ever cleans anything.

He slaps a wall switch to close the garage door and opens the
kitchen door into...

INT. THE PIT - KITCHEN

You would not want to eat off this floor...or that table.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Now before you say anything...

SEAN
(looking around; aghast)
Dylan?!

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
...those aren't my dishes.

DYLAN (O.S.)
Talk to Ben!

SEAN
Is he here?

DYLAN (O.S.)
Where else would he be?

SEAN
(under his breath)
Good point.

Sean crosses into...

INT. THE PIT - SHORT HALLWAY

...and up to a bedroom door. That's Sean's room, and on the
door is a huge Almost Famous poster. He tosses his backpack
inside. We get a quick impression of a movie geek's inner
sanctum. Then he continues into...

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

Welcome to the low-rent zenith of undergraduate crash pads.
Rickety card table. An unwieldy old couch the Salvation Army
would scoff at accepting, hereafter referred to as The
Crouch. Maxim magazines. Paperbacks. CDs and videos piled
on computer games. The TV blares a trivia game show.

DYLAN
Hey, Sean, y'up for a Scrab?

Dylan sits on a "bucket seat" TV chair; Ben's splayed out on
the half-dead Crouch.

SEAN
(utterly unsurprised)
Ah. Ben's here. Surprise. Dylan: Yes.
Ben: That soapy stuff in the bottle
under the sink is called liquid
detergent. We use it to clean dishes.
Dylan: I'm in love now. Ben--

BEN
That pan in there is yours.

DYLAN
Who's in love?

SEAN
Yes. It is. That is my pan. However,
the fossilized remains of the tuna
casserole which are inside the pan are
yours. I am asking you as patiently as I
can to please, please remove them.

DYLAN
Love's a marketing tool used to hoodwink
feeble-minded adolescents.

BEN
I don't even live here. Why should I
wash your dishes?

SEAN
(to Dylan)
It is not. You're a cynic.

DYLAN
Your point being?

SEAN
(to Ben)
If you don't live here, Ben, then why...
Get your feet off The Crouch!

DYLAN
Sean, you know you're gonna wash the damn
dishes anyway, so why not lay off the
whining? You're wasting your time. Whip
his monkey ass at Scrabble, then taunt
him with your mental superiority.

SEAN
Some taunt.

BEN
You guys got any ice cream?

SEAN
That depends. You got any money for
rent?

BEN
(condescendingly)
I don't live here.

DYLAN
You said something about a chick you
wanted to drill?

Sean takes a moment to try to get his bearings.

SEAN (CONT'D)
I'm in love. I met...Her today. The
One.

BEN
Hey, you're blocking the TV.

Sean makes a grandiose show of clearing Ben's view of the TV.

SEAN
Is this better?

BEN
Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to--

SEAN
Shut the fuck up.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Welcome, my friends...

CUT TO:

INT. ABILENE SAM'S (RESTAURANT)

A bustling Western-themed steak joint with a T-shirt and key
chain concession. Corn-fed SERVING GIRLS walk by in snug
"Sammy's" T's. Sean and Melanie saw away at enormous slabs
of cooked cow.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
...to Abilene Sam's.

MELANIE
So he's not the monogamous type.

SEAN
No, Dylan's more of a serial fornicator.

MELANIE
You don't seem to like him very much.

SEAN
I like him fine. That's just how he is.

MELANIE
Yeah: A jerk. Why do people say that?
If he's like that, then isn't that
exactly what he is?

SEAN
Head...exploding...

MELANIE
I mean, how does he being "like that"
make his actions or opinions any less
deplorable?

SEAN
I don't know.

MELANIE
I'm asking too many questions.

SEAN
Nah, it's true, the guy can be a problem
sometimes, but he's funny, so it's worth
it. Besides...we have word games.

MELANIE
Word games?

SEAN
Yeah. Like...okay. Hi.
(holding out his hand)
How ya doin'? I'm Orson.

MELANIE
You are?

SEAN
My name is Orson...Orson Carriage.

Silence.

SEAN
You get it?

MELANIE
Of course I get it.

SEAN
You're not laughing.

MELANIE
A justifiable response.

SEAN
No, but...come on! "Orson Carriage!"

MELANIE
(smiling now)
That's the stupidest joke I ever heard!

SEAN
It's efficient! It's a knock-knock joke
without all the annoying build-up!

MELANIE
No, I get what it is, it just isn't
funny. This is funny: Knock, knock.

SEAN
Who's there?

MELANIE
Interrupting Cow.

SEAN
Interrupti--

MELANIE
Moooooo.

SEAN
(exploding in laughter)
You didn't make that up just now.

MELANIE
No. But it's funnier than your joke,
isn't it?

SEAN
Yes. But it doesn't meet the rules of
the game.

MELANIE
Okay.
(holding out her own hand)
Hi. My name is Jacqueline.

SEAN
(expectantly)
Yeah?

MELANIE
Jacqueline Hyde.

SEAN
You didn't make that up, either.

MELANIE
Yes, I did.

SEAN
Just now? You're kidding.

MELANIE
No, I had it ready for just such an
occasion.

SEAN
Okay: Hi! I'm Erasmus.

MELANIE
(laughing)
"Erasmus?" Does that even count as a
name?

SEAN
Yes, it does. Erasmus.

MELANIE
Okay.

SEAN
Erasmus B. Huge!

Melanie laughs, a loud, sexy laugh that makes diners around
her hide grins behind napkins.

MELANIE
(still laughing)
I think the middle initial is cheating.

SEAN
You made cow noises.

MELANIE
Mooo.

SEAN
Look, there's something I really ought to
warn you about. We have this...prank war
going on at the house right now, and if
anything should happen that's...well...
weird...that would probably be that. I
mean him. Dylan. Getting back at me
for...stuff.

MELANIE
What'd you do?

SEAN
He started it!

MELANIE
I don't doubt that. But I take it you
were the last to score a point?

SEAN
Yeah, I convinced the last girl he took
out that he was a Mormon.

MELANIE
So?

SEAN
Mormons can't have sex 'til they're
married.

MELANIE
I see.

SEAN
Right, so every time he tried to bring
her home, I'd leave a big picture of
Jesus and a Bible open to Psalm 37 on his
bed.

MELANIE
I would've thought the Book of Mormon
would be more appropriate.

SEAN
Yes, but not as evocative.

MELANIE
Gotcha. So you think he might be poised
to retaliate?

SEAN
Almost definitely yes. Just be ready for
anything, okay?

MELANIE
You sound sure I'm going home with you
tonight.

SEAN
(genuinely startled)
Huh? No, I didn't mean to--

MELANIE
No, that's fine, I can't wait to meet
this guy...but just for a minute, okay?

SEAN
(with mixed emotions)
Yeah, of course.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - KITCHEN / HALL - DARK

We hear the sound of worn-out BRAKES. The GARAGE DOOR closes
outside. CAR DOORS open and shut.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
This is where things get a little blurry.

The door to the garage cracks open slowly. Sean pokes his
head in and turns on a light. The kitchen is now spotless.

SEAN
Uh-oh.

MELANIE
(behind him)
What's the matter?

SEAN
Shhh. I can't tell if anyone's here.
You remember what I told you, right?

MELANIE
Sure.

SEAN
I don't like this. The kitchen's still
clean from when I cleaned it this
afternoon.

MELANIE
So?

SEAN
This kitchen's never clean.

MELANIE
That's encouraging.

SEAN
Plus Dylan left me the garage. He never
does that. He says my car lowers our
property value. And we're renting!

MELANIE
(tongue in cheek)
He's a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
(on Sean's look)
I'll keep my thoughts to myself.

SEAN
Just stay close, will ya?

They move deeper into the darkened house, turning on lights
as they go.

SEAN
Guys? Hello?

Sean notices:

SEAN (CONT'D)
Damn. Dylan's door is locked.

MELANIE
(still behind him)
How can you tell?

SEAN
Because it's padlocked.

MELANIE
Quirky.

SEAN
Let's go into my room.

Sean opens his bedroom door and flips on the LIGHT SWITCH.

WHAT HE SEES IN HIS ROOM is revealed in a series of FLASHES,
as if photos were being taken to reside in the album of his
mind for all time:

All his furniture is gone, leaving only a MATTRESS in the
middle of the floor. No sheets. A dingy old pillow.

All his posters are down. Even the light fixture has been
taken away, so his BARE LIGHT BULB hangs at face height.

PORNO MAGAZINES scattered on the floor.

Wadded TISSUES.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Note the dish soap all over the tissues.
The Devil is in the details.

His room is now a troubled loner's den of iniquity.

Sean's mouth widens to emit a SQUALL of incoherent rage.

He runs past Melanie to Dylan's padlocked door. In a single
mighty yank he tears the door OFF ITS FRAME and flings it
aside. Still bellowing, he steps into...

INT. THE PIT - DYLAN'S ROOM

...and flips on the light. This room is more businesslike,
but it does contain a modest waterbed and a bulky stereo
surrounded by wires. Sean grabs a screwdriver from behind
the stereo and stabs Dylan's waterbed mattress repeatedly.

Melanie watches from the hall, her face blank and unreadable.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Would it surprise you to learn I got a
second date?

CUT TO:

INT. ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Sean and Melanie laugh over pasta.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I remember everything about that date,
the most fantastic of my life. I
remember the food. I remember Melanie,
an angel with putanesca on her cheek...

Sean indicates the dollop of sauce, which Melanie laughs
about and wipes away. Sean grins into his vino.

CUT TO:

INT. MOVIE THEATER

He glances at Melanie. She stares up at the screen,
entranced.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I remember the movie. I remember losing
all contact with my left arm about half
an hour in...but still leaving it around
her shoulders 'til the end credits
rolled.

Sean does "the move" and subtly puts his arm around Melanie.
She leans into him. Smiles. Throws a kernel of popcorn up
into his face. He laughs.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
The film was indie, low-budget, but it
had a happy ending. Four thumbs up, the
feel-good hit of the season.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT PORCH

Sean and Melanie lean in close, her hair backlit by the
living room window. The air sparkles.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I remember the fireflies. There couldn't
have been fireflies, but I remember there
were fireflies. And I remember...

Sean moves to kiss her. She jerks back unexpectedly.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
...how my heart stopped when she broke
off that kiss. But then...

She suddenly lunges toward him. Their lips meet.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Our better selves made love in that kiss.

Silhouettes merge.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
No first kiss better. No fear.
Transcendental.

Two shadows blend into one.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - THE NEXT DAY

Dylan and Ben play video football. Sean lurches in, a man
drunk on love. Crashes face-down on The Crouch.

DYLAN
Oh, shit. You're gonna say something
intensely gay now, aren't you?

SEAN
I'm in love, man, for real.

Ben leans to the side, still concentrating on his game.

BEN
What, did she blow you?

SEAN
No, and I am so deep in love I am willing
to let your boorishness slide for once.

BEN
Hey, don't do me no favors.
(to Dylan, re the game)
Oh, you butt raper!

SEAN
Nice. That seemed gayer than what I
said.

Ben leans to his left side, then his right.

DYLAN
(to Ben)
What the hell are you doing?

BEN
What am I doing? I'm schooling your punk
ass, foo'!

DYLAN
You're down by seventeen points, retard.

BEN
(leaning over again)
Yeah, well, not for long.

DYLAN
What're you--Why do you keep leaning over
like that?

BEN
I'm getting the angle, biznatch!

DYLAN
What angle?

BEN
The angle for the pass!

DYLAN
How does leaning help?

BEN
It's so I can see my receiver behind the
tackle!

After a long, astonished beat, Sean sits up slightly.

SEAN
What?

DYLAN
You mean you're looking around your
offensive line?

BEN
Yeah!

SEAN
You can't do that.

BEN
Why not?

SEAN
Ben!

DYLAN
Because it's not three-dimensional, you
dullard!

BEN
The hell it isn't!

SEAN
It's a TV screen, Ben. It's a two
dimensional surface. Come on.

BEN
Look, do you see those guys blocking the
receiver or not?

DYLAN
Yes!

BEN
Well, there you go, three dimensions.

DYLAN
That doesn't prove anything!

BEN
Just get ready to eat some yardage here,
bitch.

DYLAN
In your fat mama's ass!

BEN
My mom ain't fat.

DYLAN
Shut up, moron! Just bring it!

BEN
(as his QB passes)
Uh-huh...Bam!

DYLAN
Yeah, bam--Interception! Eat that, ass!

SEAN
Could you guys crank it down a notch?
I'm trying to be in love over here.

DYLAN
An adolescent fantasy, nothing more.

SEAN
Oh, there you go again, "adolescent
fantasy." Gimme a break.

DYLAN
(reaching for a cigarette)
It's true.

SEAN
Oh, Lord.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Any time Dylan pulls out his Zippo he
turns into an armchair philosopher.

DYLAN
Chicks are all interchangeable.

Dylan opens his Zippo with a familiar metallic FLINK!

DYLAN
Y'see, Sean...
(lighting his cigarette)
Women, in my experience,...
(inhaling)
...are like pizza.

Dylan exhales. The master of all he surveys.

BEN
(laughing)
Pizza? What kinda women you dating?

DYLAN
Shut up and put the game on pause. Even
you might learn something.

BEN
Yeah, you keep talking. I'll be over
here strategizing, foo'.

DYLAN
(laughing; sarcastic)
Yeah..."Okay."

SEAN
How are women like pizza?

DYLAN
Glad you asked. What's your favorite
kind of pizza?

SEAN
I don't know. Supreme, I guess.

DYLAN
Mmmm-mm. I sure do love me a big ol'
supreme pizza. Deep dish, extra cheese,
maybe a side of buffalo wings, I'm liable
to pass out from sheer happy joy. And
make no mistake about it, there are some
women out there who are just like that
deep dish supreme.

SEAN
Yeah, like Melanie. She's awesome.

DYLAN
Fine. You say so. But y'know what? If
I can't get hold of a deep dish supreme,
I'll eat a microwave pizza roll. And
I'll be happy I've got it in the fridge,
too, because gentlemen, it all tastes
like pizza.

SEAN
I don't follow you.

DYLAN
We can't buy into this myth about "The
One," because we men weren't built for
monogamy. This is simple anthropology
and must not be tampered with. We males
are the pollinators. Females incubate.
We have to shag our fool heads off, they
learn to cook.

BEN
Now you're talkin'.

SEAN
Gimme a break, man. It's not like I'm
planning to marry her--

DYLAN
It doesn't matter what you're planning,
because the females are planning, too.
Believe me, I've fallen through those
palm leaves into the man trap before, and
it hurts. I'm just trying to save you
knuckle-thumpers the grief.

SEAN
(thinking it over)
Huh.

Sean turns over on his back and stares at the ceiling.

The phone RINGS. Dylan answers it nonchalantly.

DYLAN
Yello.

BEN
Oh, shit, please tell me it ain't Linda.

SEAN
(pirate voice; a reflex)
Arr, Lindarr, the Sexual Barbarian!

DYLAN
Dylan Barker? I'm not sure. Lemme
check.

BEN
(whispering)
I'm not here!

DYLAN
Hey, guys...
(shaking his head "no")
Is Dylan in his room?

BEN
No!

SEAN
I don't think he is. One second.

Sean doesn't get up from The Crouch, but after a beat, he
talks as if from a distance.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Nope, I don't see him.

DYLAN
(into the phone)
Oh, I'm sorry, sir, I think you just
missed him. Should I give him a
message?...Really? I had no idea it was
that serious...Well, I'll certainly give
him the message, then. Thanks for
calling, though...'Bye.

Dylan puts down the phone and returns to his video game.

BEN
Man, you're gonna wind up in jail.

SEAN
Which credit card was it this time?

DYLAN
I don't know. I wasn't listening.

Dylan crosses his legs nonchalantly. He's in top-dollar
slacks and Italian loafers.

SEAN
(slowly)
Prison.

DYLAN
Nah, I'm cool. Serves 'em right, the
pushy bastards, for harassing me in my
own home. They'll get their money when
I'm good and through with it.

Ben snorts and leans over to "get the angle" again.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
For all I know, they're still waiting.

CUT TO:

EXT. FAMILY ACRES MINIATURE GOLF COURSE - DAY

Friendly windmills. Sean lines up on an easy par three.

SEAN
Blasphemer!

MELANIE
Oh, I see, so it's blasphemy now.

SEAN
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a perfect work
of art, and to say otherwise is not only
very, very wrong but an offense against
the Lord God of Hosts Himself.

MELANIE
Sean, my sweet, it's a movie.

SEAN
Yeah, a movie co-starring God!

MELANIE
Well, then maybe He should've patched up
all those plot holes.

SEAN
Oh, you pagan!

MELANIE
The Ark of the Covenant is made of solid
gold, correct?

SEAN
You bet.

MELANIE
You know how much that thing would weigh?

SEAN
So what?

MELANIE
Sean.

SEAN
You don't think Indy and Marion could
lift an empty golden box between the two
of them?

MELANIE
Gold is heavier than lead, Sean. How'd
they get it off the island?

SEAN
My love, you're missing the point.

Melanie notices the "L word."

MELANIE
Which is?

SEAN
Harrison Ford works for God.

MELANIE
Then explain Random Hearts.

SEAN
(defeated)
You don't--ugh! That's not--

MELANIE
(her trump card)
Or Six Days, Seven Nights.

SEAN
(slumping)
A regrettable lapse into the demimonde of
romantic comedy.

MELANIE
Demimonde. Wasn't she in a couple of
romantic comedies, too?

SEAN
(not laughing)
Oh, ha ha.

MELANIE
And what exactly do you have against
romantic comedies, anyway?

SEAN
Chick flicks!

MELANIE
Oh, you want to get hit now.

SEAN
Bring it, baby.

Melanie swats him on the butt with her putter. A MOTHER
frowns at her grandly as a FAMILY plays through.

MELANIE
(to the Mother)
Sorry.

SEAN
I guess When Harry Met Sally was kinda
fun, but the thing is, they're all the
same.

MELANIE
Romantic comedies.

Sean putts. He's terrible.

SEAN
Yeah. Neurotic Everyman enjoys a "meet
cute" with Angelic Woman, who's really
just the objectification of his
adolescent male ideal.

MELANIE
You got it.

SEAN
Then he has to slay his inner demons
before chasing her down in some airport
or bookstore or Jiffy Lube. Then we all
drive home feeling like crap because we
don't have Drew Barrymore waiting at home
pining for the fjords.

Putts again.

MELANIE
What a cynic you are.

SEAN
Thank you so much.

Putts again.

MELANIE
What is this, a par three?

SEAN
You destroy my concentration.

MELANIE
I know.

He putts again.

SEAN
'How'd they get the Ark of the Covenant
off the island'...You think the Lord God
Almighty couldn't call Fed Ex?

MELANIE
Sure, but in 1936?

Sean misses the hole by a North Dakota mile.

SEAN
And you call me a cynic.

MELANIE
Par three, love.

SEAN
I heard you.

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY

Students hustle past in bulky coats. A thin wind blows.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
It was Mark Twain who said, "If you don't
like the weather in Oklahoma, just wait a
few minutes." Okay, so actually he said
it about New England, but you get the
point...

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM - DAY

Melanie's on the bed reading; all Sean's furniture has been
restored to its rightful locations. He takes a break from
typing a paper to sip hot cider and look out his window at
low, heavy skies.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
If our weather was unpredictable, at
least Melanie and I settled into a
routine. She'd come over and read, or
we'd do homework together...

Melanie steps up behind Sean and rubs his shoulders.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Then before too long I'd cop a leisurely
feel...

Sean smiles to himself. He turns to kiss her.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
And after a few hours of that, I'd get
rambunctious and she'd push me away...I
mean gently, but still.

After a few seconds his hand creeps toward her breast, only
to be deftly nudged away.

MELANIE
(smiling)
You.

She points a warning finger in his face, and he sighs.

SEAN
(trying not to be offended)
Sorry.

EXT. THE PIT - SEAN'S WINDOW

Sean and Melanie turn to look out as a thick RAIN begins to
fall. After a few beats, they gaze at each other
meaningfully, and she leans in to kiss him again.

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM

They're now entwined on the bed, kissing madly. Sean's hand
caresses Melanie's butt for a moment, then moves under her
jeans. She rolls over on her back to block his efforts.
Unseen by her, his fingers claw at the air in frustration.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I think it was around the seventh date I
wondered if Melanie'd pledged to remain a
virgin for Jesus.

MELANIE
(panting)
I should go.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM

Looking in through Sean's window, we see Melanie leave.

Sean walks over, lost in thought, to look out his window.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I stared out at the rain for what seemed
like hours. I decided to whine, I mean,
vent my frustrations to my roommate.

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Sean enters, rubbing his neck in frustration...and there sits
Melanie on the couch, chatting pleasantly with Dylan.

SEAN
(unpleasantly surprised)
Uhh...Hiya.

MELANIE
We wondered how long you were gonna sit
in there and brood.

SEAN
Yeah, I'm one for the brooding, all
right. You two getting along?

MELANIE
(to Sean, re Dylan)
You never told me this guy's hilarious.

SEAN
Yeah, I did. Those word games, remember?

MELANIE
I think he's better at 'em than you are.

SEAN
(peeved)
Thanks.

DYLAN
(laughing)
Word games.

MELANIE
Moooo.

Dylan and Melanie laugh. Sean manages a weak smile...

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Interrupting Cow, indeed.

...but the smile is completely missing from his eyes.

CUT TO:

INT./EXT. THE PIT - GARAGE - DAY

Dylan works on the cooling system of his Nissan Sentra. Sean
is "helping," though without any skill or attention. (Mostly
he's just holding an oily rag and some screwdrivers.)

DYLAN
Gimme the three-eighths.

SEAN
(complying)
I guess my question is, why am I getting
such a weird vibe off this relationship?

DYLAN
It's because you're not getting any
pootie tang, cowboy.

SEAN
Nah, it can't be that simple, because I'm
not that horny.

DYLAN
Aren't you?

SEAN
(after a beat)
Okay, well, yes, yes, I am, but it's
gotta be more than that.

DYLAN
And it is.

SEAN
Well?

DYLAN
Gimme that rag. This is important.

Sean does so. Dylan wipes his hands carefully, then reaches
back under the hood...and withdraws his Zippo and a
cigarette, which he lights and puffs contentedly.

SEAN
Come on, homebody. Share the wisdom.

DYLAN
Your woman's got emotional problems.

SEAN
(sarcastic)
That was subtle. I feel you're holding
something back.

DYLAN
You say she ain't giving it up, and
that's one thing. But she was drawn to
me like Orson Welles to a chili dog
stand, and we all know I don't keep women
around for their conversational skills.

SEAN
(dreading the answer)
So you're saying she was flirting with
you?

DYLAN
No. Well, I mean, no more than could be
expected given my undeniable phallic
magnetism.

SEAN
Did you touch her?

Dylan stares him down. Exhales nicotine and scorn.

DYLAN
No. But I could have. And if I
could...this chick is bad news, my
friend, word to your mother.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Damaged goods. A fixer-upper.

SEAN
So what's your diagnosis, Doctor?

DYLAN
Diagnosis: She's been messed with, a
lot. Prognosis: Grim.

SEAN
Trichinosis...

DYLAN
You gonna cry now? 'Cause you seem like
the kinda guy who might. Effeminate,
kinda.

SEAN
Merci. I'm just worried.

DYLAN
Have some rough 'n' unprotected and a
cigarette. You'll feel better.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

A CARTOON CHARACTER's animated face gets kicked in.

VIDEO GAME VICTIM VOICE
UNNNGGGGHHHH!

VIDEO GAME ANNOUNCER VOICE
Your kung fu is a joking for the
shameful!

Sean plays the kung fu game from the "video chair," while
Dylan and Ben spar for semi-real behind him.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Dylan fancies himself a martial artist.
Ben, on the other hand, is a masochist.

Dylan blows past a block and KNOCKS Ben out of frame. He's
still basking in his triumph when LINDA, a shrieking
brunette, lands on his head from the other direction. He
falls to the ground in a massacre of hair-pulling and eye
gouging. Sean barely notices. Takes a hit off a Big Gulp.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
That's Linda. Linda, aka Lindarr the
Sexual Barbarian, was harder to get rid
of than herpes, and rare was the day
Dylan and I didn't fantasize about de
programming Ben from her clutches.

Dylan staggers to his feet. Linda grabs the video game
CONTROLLER away from Sean and tags Dylan in the eye with it.

DYLAN
Ow, my cornea!

Dylan staggers into the kitchen to nurse his wounds.

SEAN
Hey, you syphilitic wingnut, I'm trying
to--

Linda stares Sean down. He quickly relents.

SEAN
Nothing.

VIDEO GAME VICTIM VOICE
UNNNNGGGGGHHHHH!

DYLAN (O.S.)
You bitch!

FEMALE VIDEO GAME VOICE
Hahhhh!

A FEMALE VIDEO GAME CHARACTER stands over the battered body
of her MALE OPPONENT. She punches the air triumphantly.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
All right, that's it. Mr. Nice Guy is
now officially Mr. Bad to the Bone.

VIDEO GAME NARRATOR VOICE
Your embarrassing skills are defeat!

Sean scowls.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - LATER

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree; just two feet tall but
cheerful. Melanie adjusts the star as Sean turns off the
lights. Together they smile down at the miniature plastic
tree they've assembled on a video cabinet. A gentle
Christmas kiss, turning randier as tongues get involved.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
(singing)
O Holy Night...

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM

Still kissing, Sean and Melanie stagger over to the bed. She
seems every bit as into it as he is. Four weeks of self
denial and lust combine in a passionate pas de deux.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
(still singing)
...if I can just get her jeans off...

Suddenly, without any warning, Melanie YELPS! She pushes
Sean away and LEAPS across the room to huddle shivering in a
corner. Sean is, not surprisingly, startled and confused.

SEAN
Hey. Hey! You okay, hon?

Melanie's as dazed as if she were in post-traumatic shock.

MELANIE
I'm--What? Huh?

SEAN
Are you okay? You...I went to touch you,
and you...Did I do something wrong?

MELANIE
(after a long beat)
No. No, I...should go.

SEAN
I didn't mean to upset you.

MELANIE
I should go. I'm very sorry.

SEAN
Will I see you again before Christmas
break?

MELANIE
(after another long beat)
I'll call you.

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Melanie grabs her purse from The Crouch and flees. Sean has
followed her into the living room. Ben and Dylan glance up
from their video football, Dylan more interested than Ben.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I know, I know: Warning sirens. If I
had any common sense whatsoever, I'd
break it off and cut my losses.

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT PORCH - NIGHT

CAR LIGHTS retreat across his face, plunging him into
physical and emotional darkness.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Unfortunately, I have no common sense
whatsoever. My romantic fate was thereby
sealed.

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

Sean comes back in and slumps on The Crouch.

DYLAN
Bad night in the Arena of Pleasure?

SEAN
Not bad, just...Weird.

DYLAN
Estrogen is a mind-altering drug.

Ben laughs; Sean's heard the joke before.

SEAN
Y'know what I can't figure out?

DYLAN
What's that?

SEAN
If Yoda can lift a spaceship out of the
mud, why is his house in the mud?

DYLAN
And where'd they get the steel to build
the Death Star?

BEN
I never got into Star Trek.

After a long, astonished beat, both Sean and Dylan throw
various items at Ben.

BEN (CONT'D)
Ow! Dicks!

SEAN
(after another beat)
So, Ben, how it goin' with Lindarr?

BEN
It's cool. She bought me this candy jar,
like, and every time we have sex, she
puts another marble in it.

SEAN
So what do you get when you fill the jar?

BEN
I don't know. More sex, I guess.

DYLAN
She's a true aristocrat.

SEAN
Nothin' wrong with a girl who likes sex.

DYLAN
No, indeed.

SEAN
(to Dylan)
I thought you and The Stork were going
out tonight?

DYLAN
We went to her place earlier.

BEN
(porn music)
Bow chicka bow bow...

SEAN
You could've just brought her here. I'd
have left you alone.

DYLAN
(meaningfully)
For some reason my door won't lock.

SEAN
How's she liking that duct tape all over
your bed?

DYLAN
Ah, I bang her into the headboard a
couple of good times, and her complaints
tend to dwindle.

BEN
You so rock.

DYLAN
That's the buzz on the streets. That's
what the kids are saying.

BEN
So how is she in the kit?

DYLAN
Who, The Stork? Tad naive. An amusing
young vintage. The other night I got her
to join the oral majority for the first
time.

SEAN
You don't say.

DYLAN
Yeah, a touching little story, as it
were.
(lighting another cigarette)
Bittersweet.

BEN
Kick the ball first, will ya?

DYLAN
Put the game on pause there, Dopey.
You'll appreciate this story.

BEN
Just kick me the ball!

DYLAN
All right, here.
(stabbing controls)
You happy?

BEN
(after a beat)
Shit.

DYLAN
Now pause the game. A'right. So it gets
to the time, right, and she's doin' the
thing.

SEAN
Seein' how many licks it takes to get to
the center of your Tootsie Pop.

DYLAN
No no no, not that thing, the preceding
thing, the kissing down my happy trail
thing.

SEAN
Ah, right, gotcha.

DYLAN
And after a few minutes of that, she
tells me to close my eyes and I'll get a
big surprise.

BEN
(laughing)
Awww, yeah, baby.

DYLAN
(exhaling nicotine)
So, long story short, it's not all that
good, but I figure, what the hell, maybe
it's her first time or something. And
I'm willing to give her a learner's
permit and teach her on the road.

SEAN
Fair enough.

DYLAN
So I open my eyes and look down to see
wha's up, y'know wha'm sayin'?

SEAN
I feel ya, dawg.

DYLAN
But Ol' Girl has the sheet over her head.

BEN
Why over her head?

DYLAN
I don't know, she was shy or something.

SEAN
No eye contact?

DYLAN
None. It was like meeting Casper, the
Extremely Friendly Ghost.

There's a brief flurry of video game activity, favoring Ben.

BEN
Oh, yeah! Forty yards, baby! Suck on
that!

DYLAN
Even Sean gets lucky sometimes.

There's an awkward silence.

DYLAN (CONT'D)
Sean? You are getting lucky, right?

SEAN
Hey, check out the pretty Christmas tree!

DYLAN
I have no roommate.

SEAN
What're you getting Lindarr for
Christmas, Benny Ben Ben?

BEN
Some stuffed animal.

SEAN
You bought her a stuffed animal? That's
so cute.

BEN
Nah, I found it.

SEAN
What?

BEN
You know, on my floor.

SEAN
You found a stuffed animal on your floor.

BEN
Some chick left it.

SEAN
You gave her some other conquest's
stuffed animal?

BEN
Hell, yeah!

DYLAN
(sincerely)
Little Ben, I have never been prouder.
You may have Sean's old room.

BEN
Hey, thanks!...What the--

VIDEO GAME VOICE
Touchdown!

Ben hurls his controller at the floor as the crowd goes wild.

BEN
Fudgepacker!

CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - SUNDOWN

Sean coasts down a long hill. Car traffic in Anderson is so
light he can bike without ever touching the handlebars.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Melanie's chastity notwithstanding, I
could never complain about her cooking.
So when she invited me over for calzone
one night, I was only too happy to accept
her invitation.

He coasts into a parking lot beside Married Student Housing,
a two-storied row of nondescript brick apartments. Pulls up
to a bike rack.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Her apartment was in Married Student
Housing. I never figured out how she
managed to pull that one off.

EXT. MARRIED STUDENT HOUSING - CONTINUOUS

Sean jogs toward Melanie's apartment as the sun sets. A
LIGHT goes on in a bedroom window, and Sean glances over.
There stands a WOMAN in a towel, with another wrapped around
her hair. She catches him staring, GASPS, and immediately
turns out the light. He blushes, looks down and jogs on.

INT. MELANIE'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS

Tastefully decorated, an apartment in which you'd like to
take off your shoes, crack a good book, and stay a while.

Melanie finishes setting the table as she adjusts her hair,
puts on some music, and lights two CANDLES, all in the space
of about five seconds. The doorbell CHIMES.

MELANIE
Coming!

CUT TO:

INT. MELANIE'S APARTMENT - FRONT DOOR

It opens, revealing a still-distracted Sean. He catches one
glimpse of her, and his face breaks into a delighted grin.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I've said it before, and I'll say it
again...

Melanie smiles back at him. She is his feminine ideal.

MELANIE
Entres-tu.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Yowza.

SEAN
Oh, my God. It smells like I've died and
gone to Italian Heaven.

INT. MELANIE'S APARTMENT - DINING ROOM

Melanie barely touches her calzone, but watches Sean through
candlelight instead. There's a party in his mouth.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
The calzone was phenomenal. Her
apartment was always clean. She did
needlepoint. She left candy dishes out
for the kids she baby-sat two nights a
week. This was not a normal human female
person. If she ever developed any
interest in sex of any kind, I might have
to marry her. Plus sometimes it felt
like she could read my--

MELANIE
You like the calzone?

SEAN
I uh--How can I put this?

MELANIE
It's okay, you don't have to spare my
feelings.

SEAN
I've had sex I enjoyed less than this.

MELANIE
(smiling)
You have a one-track mind.

SEAN
That's not true. I know I've got at
least two in there somewhere.

MELANIE
Hmm.

SEAN
Y'know, we...

MELANIE
Yes?

SEAN
Nothing.

MELANIE
Uh-huh.

INT. MELANIE'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM

They sit on opposite ends of the couch, legs slightly
intertwined. Melanie holds a bag of MARSHMALLOWS.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
But sure enough, rather than diving into
sexualympics after dinner, we retired to
the couch, where we talked about our
relationship instead and I pretended I
wasn't the horniest man in America.

SEAN
So...No, I get this...What you're saying
is...What are you saying, exactly?

MELANIE
(munching a marshmallow)
I'm saying there's a lot about me you
don't know.

SEAN
Okay. What exactly are you trying to
tell me I don't know?

MELANIE
It's what I'm trying not to tell you.

She slowly crushes a marshmallow in her hand.

SEAN
You haven't told me anything.

MELANIE
Good.

SEAN
Okay. Then what are you doing?

MELANIE
With you?

SEAN
With that poor marshmallow.

MELANIE
You've never done this?

SEAN
Sat and tortured an innocent snack food?

MELANIE
It makes 'em squishy-delicious.

SEAN
Why don't you just--

MELANIE
Here, grab a 'mallow.

SEAN
(confused)
I don't--

MELANIE
Here. You ready? Now watch.

SEAN
This is the weirdest conversation I've--

Melanie has mashed three large marshmallows into a viscous
blob. She holds the blob over her head and lets it droop
toward her mouth.

SEAN (CONT'D)
(suddenly fascinated)
--ever...

His voice trails off as the marshmallow goo extends into a
long, cylindrical mass, all of which pours deep into
Melanie's throat. On a "1 to suggestive" scale, this is way
damn far over onto the suggestive end. She swallows it all
with a greedy slurp and lecherous wink.

SEAN (CONT'D)
(his jaw hanging open)
Unh.

MELANIE
I should probably get to bed.

SEAN
(after a long, stupid beat)
Huwuh?

MELANIE
I have class in the morning. Call me
next time you want to get together.

CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - NIGHT

Sean pedals home slowly, frustrated as hell.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Man, there ought to be a law.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT PORCH - NIGHT

Sean goes to unlock the door and finds only change in his
pocket.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
And worse yet, I forgot my keys, so I had
to climb over the fence and come in
through the back door, with Dylan's dog
barking her ass off the whole time.

Sean hauls himself up onto the six-foot-high fence.

EXT. THE PIT - BACK YARD

Sure enough, the dog, a black Lab named NATASHA, mistakes
Sean for a burglar and starts BARKING like crazy.

SEAN
Settle down, 'Tash...'Tash, it's me, you
retarded...Goddamnit...Hey, knock it off,
you're--Hey!

Natasha leaps at Sean's legs, and he SLIPS, falling off the
top of the fence. He's now stuck against it, pinned by his
shirt with his arms stuck out, legs hanging awkwardly. He
tries to disentangle himself but is stuck fast.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Oh, man...
(as Sean looks around)
I gotta find some less obvious symbolism.

Sean is pinned on a metaphorical cross. He laughs and shakes
his head. Only now does he notice how uncomfortable he is.

SEAN (CONT'D)
(laughing sadly)
Ow.

CUT TO:

INT. ABILENE SAM'S (RESTAURANT)

A good-sized CROWD listens to two college-aged FOLKIES on a
makeshift stage. Sean sits with one arm around Melanie and
the other holding a beer. Dylan and THE STORK (a woman, 26,
who looks a lot like a stork) sit near Ben; all grin widely
and joke (MOS).

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Look, I don't want to give you the idea
it was all just sexual repression and
migraines. Far from it. We cooked--

INT. THE PIT - KITCHEN

Melanie sits in amazement as Sean runs past with a pan full
of chicken ON FIRE. Then she stands nervously as he runs
past her again (in the other direction), this time with his
arm in a BURNING POT HOLDER.

INT. ABILENE SAM'S (RESTAURANT) - BACK TO SCENE

The folkies wave beers at Sean and Melanie.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
A couple of my musically-inclined friends
were playing at Abilene Sam's.

Sean waves back gleefully and cheers.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
We're all young. We're all in college
and friends. We do what all young
friends in college do, namely, drink and
scrape by in all of our classes.

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - DAY

Sean rubs his eyes and attempts to focus on what we think are
his notes. He yawns, then puts pencil to paper.

A different ANGLE reveals he's drawing SKETCHES of Melanie.

INT. ABILENE SAM'S (RESTAURANT)

The folkie concert has ended.

Sean and Dylan play quarters with Ben and The Stork. Melanie
watches from behind Sean. Leans to yawn into his shoulder.
He turns and kisses her on the forehead.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
It was like I had ninety percent of a
wonderful girlfriend.

MELANIE
Hey.

SEAN
Gettin' sleepy?

MELANIE
Yeah, these straight eights are killing
me. I'm gonna call it a night.

SEAN
Okay, I'll see you this weekend.

MELANIE
Hey. I dreamed you were drawing me last
night.

SEAN
I was drawing you. I gave you the
drawing.

MELANIE
No, I mean...you were drawing me...out of
thin air. Creating me. Your hands were
giving birth to me.

SEAN
Are you okay?

MELANIE
(nodding)
Yeah, I'm just tired.

SEAN
Get some sleep.

MELANIE
Okay. I'll see ya.

SEAN
G'night.

She gives him a quick kiss on the cheek and goes.

DYLAN
No "I love you?"

SEAN
Neither of us has said that yet, and I'm
not gonna be the first.

THE STORK
(sincerely)
She's very pretty.

SEAN
Thank you. I think so, too.

BEN
She doesn't seem much like the freaky
deaky type.

SEAN
I wouldn't know if she's freaky or deaky.

DYLAN
You mean you still haven't gotten a piece
o' that action? Oh, that hurts me, Sean.
You've darkened my evening, again.

SEAN
I've been trying not to push the issue.
I think...I don't know, I just get this
vibe that I need to give it more time.

BEN
How much time?

SEAN
Several decades, apparently.

BEN
(laughing)
You suck ass.

THE STORK
I think it's sweet. Dylan and I waited
weeks before we made love.

Ben snickers; Dylan cringes.

DYLAN
Listen, Ben--Why don't you two head back
to The Pit? I'll join you there in a few
minutes.

BEN
I wasn't ready to--

DYLAN
Yes, you were.

BEN
(sighing heavily)
Okay, fine. Come on, Sto--I mean, uh-
What's your name again?

THE STORK
Oh, I'm sorry, I guess we've never been
formally introduced. It's...

Ben and The Stork recede into the crowd.

DYLAN
Sean. Now, listen hard, amigo. You've
got to get a hold of yourself.

SEAN
What do you mean?

DYLAN
You're right, come to think of it: You
need to stop getting a hold of yourself
and start getting a hold of her.

SEAN
I admit it's been a matter of some
concern.

DYLAN
Some concern, my ass. It's a matter of
deep personal humiliation to me. I don't
want to wake up and find your sexual
dignity on the back of a milk carton.

SEAN
That isn't fair. We've only been going
out for...

DYLAN
How long?

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Two months.

SEAN
A month.

DYLAN
Two months!

SEAN
Seven weeks!

DYLAN
You have to take this seriously, Sean. I
will not have you lowering our team
average here. Now listen.

Dylan grabs a pack of MATCHES from the table.

DYLAN (CONT'D)
This is a ritual to ensure you take me
seriously. You paying attention?

SEAN
Yes.

DYLAN
(solemnly lighting a match)
All right, then: This is your torch.
Use it wisely. Use it well. I am
passing you this torch.

Dylan hands the match to Sean, who gazes at it sadly.

SEAN
What am I supposed to do with--?

DYLAN
It's a symbol, you idiot. Do whatever
you want with it, just get some balls and
grab her groceries. Be a man, for God's
sake.

Sean watches the match burn toward his fingers, then at the
last possible second blows it out.

CUT TO:

DARKNESS

Then, gradually...

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - NIGHT

One by one, the STARS come out.

Sean and Melanie lie on a blanket on the roof of The Pit and
gaze up at those stars. After a few long beats, Sean closes
his eyes, draws upon some hidden reserve of strength, and
moves in to kiss her. Bit by bit she responds...

Then draws back.

MELANIE
(whispering)
What if I--

SEAN
Shhh. It's okay, babe, I promise I won't
hurt you.

MELANIE
I don't want to disappoint you.

SEAN
Baby, I just want to know who you are.
You understand?

She nods slowly. Opens her mouth to say...But then he kisses
her neck, and all the fight trickles out of her, replaced by
another emotion entirely.

She responds to his touch. They embrace passionately, the
town of Anderson spread out below them; stars in their hair.

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM

Sean and Melanie fall into bed. His RADIO plays. She pulls
his shirt from his pants. He pulls her shirt up and kisses
her stomach, then over her soft lacy bra. Her chest heaves.
She seems to want this even more now than he does.

SEAN
Ah, beautiful...

MELANIE
Yes, if I--Sean, could you--Wait!

The sound of her voice seems to slap him. He jerks back.
Realizes the radio is playing "The Crying Game." Turns it
off with an angry snap.

SEAN
For what? I was kissing you.

MELANIE
Yes, I know it...Listen...Sean, it's hard
to explain.

Sean stands and tucks in his shirt.

SEAN
(losing self-control)
I don't imagine it's all that hard to
explain. You don't want to have sex with
me. Period.

MELANIE
No, it's not that I don't want to, it's--

SEAN
What?

She flinches.

MELANIE
Hard to explain.

Sean stares at her angrily, past his wit's end.

SEAN
I don't think I want to see you anymore.

MELANIE
Why not?

SEAN
Why not? Melanie...You are so damn
amazing. You're out of my league, but
I'm an adult now, and I want an adult
relationship. I want monogamy, I want us
to...

MELANIE
You want us to have sex.

SEAN
Well, yeah, of course, but--

MELANIE
Fine.

SEAN
(firmly)
No, that's not all. There's
something...else. We never talk about--

MELANIE
I said I'd go. There's no reason to tear
open old wounds.

SEAN
What are you talking about?

MELANIE
You want sex, I'll give it up.
(taking off her blouse)
Here, go on, take it. I don't have any
will of my own.

SEAN
(appalled)
What is wrong with you? I'm not gonna
rape you. That's disgusting. I just
want us to be happy, and I don't know if
we can do that together.

Melanie twitches, her body a twanging guitar string of
tension.

MELANIE
Do you love me?

SEAN
I think so.

MELANIE
Why didn't you say something earlier?

SEAN
I didn't think it would matter.

They stand on opposite sides of the room.

MELANIE
Do you want me to spend the night?

SEAN
I don't want you to do anything you find
so repellent.

MELANIE
That's not fair. Don't be cruel to me,
please.

SEAN
Melanie, I don't understand any of this,
but the last thing I want is to be cruel
to you.

MELANIE
Thank you. And the first thing you want?

SEAN
I don't know how to answer that.

MELANIE
I can't explain this...Just know I've
wanted to be with you since the first
night we went out.

She moves toward the door. Sean takes a quick step to block
her escape. Pause. She looks at him.

RUNS TO HIM. They KISS, all hands and tongues and young
libido. The young lovers move out of FRAME.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
If I ever get so old I forget the thrill
of that night, I hope my loved ones pull
the plug.

And on a soft female WHISPER of lust, we...

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - DAYS LATER

Ben watches a video, fascinated by what we quickly infer to
be porn. Dylan half-watches, half-reads. Sean walks in with
a sketch pad and draws from a PHOTO of he and Melanie
together.

SEAN
You guys know hardcore pornography is
illegal in this state?

DYLAN
Yes, by all means, Ben, please, turn it
off.

BEN
I don't think so.

DYLAN
Hey, Ben, explain your bullshit
scientific theory to Sean here.

BEN
Bullshit, nothing, it's the truth and you
know it.

SEAN
Do I really want to hear this?

DYLAN
You can't wait. Tell him, Benny.

BEN
Don't call me Benny!

DYLAN
Benny Ben Ben.

BEN
Screw you!

SEAN
Dylan, why are you teasing Ben? I
thought you wanted a challenge.

DYLAN
You bawl when I tease you. Benny Ben Ben
is made of sterner stuff.

BEN
Aw, man.

SEAN
It seems a rather silly nickname.

DYLAN
Yes, it certainly does.

BEN
You shut up!

DYLAN
And yet it is what Lindarr calls him.

BEN
Only sometimes!

DYLAN
In bed.

SEAN
Benny Ben Ben.

BEN
I said shut your goddamn mouth!

SEAN
She looks up at you with those big
psychotic eyes and says--

DYLAN
"Oh, Benny Ben Ben, you rock my insanely
deluded view of the world!"

BEN
I'm gonna kick you guys both in the nuts.

DYLAN
See, you're pouting now.

SEAN
Don't get your knickers in a bunch, Ben.
Any guy whose parents named him "Ben
Waugh" should be grateful for any
distraction.

Pronounced "Ben Wa."

BEN
What's the matter with "Ben Waugh?"

SEAN
I beg your pardon?

DYLAN
No, he really doesn't know.

BEN
What are you babbling about?

SEAN
(changing the subject)
So...this science debate?

BEN
What? Oh, yeah. Well, Dylan's trying to
make me confused.

SEAN
An unnecessary task.

DYLAN
That's what I said. It's a gas, Ben.

BEN
It's a solid!

SEAN
Could we turn off that porn? I'm finding
it difficult to concentrate.

Ben shuts off the video.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Thank you. Now. What's a solid?

BEN
Air is!

SEAN
Air is not a solid, Ben, it's a gas.

DYLAN
I tried to tell him, but you know how he
gets.

BEN
How I what? How I get? Screw that! You
guys don't want to admit, even once, that
I'm right. Air's a solid!

DYLAN
Can you tell me how that could possibly
be, Ben? Does your minuscule brain even
possess that kind of imaginative skill?

BEN
Up yours, you arrogant son of a bitch.
What is air, anyway?

DYLAN
It's a gas, you Neanderthal!

BEN
Eat me!

SEAN
Hold on, Dylan. Maybe Ben can explain.

BEN
Hell, a chemist would back me up on this.
Think about it. What's in air? Sean,
you tell him.

SEAN
It's mostly nitrogen, with oxygen, CO2,
various trace kinds of compounds.

DYLAN
Which are all, say it with me, Ben,
gases!

BEN
No, they're not. Sean, help me. In
among those other things, there's like,
particles, right? Of smog?

SEAN
In some places, there are, yes.

BEN
In all places. There's dust and like,
emissions and shit.

DYLAN
Uh-huh?

BEN
Those are solids. You can't have a gas
that has solids, you can only be one
thing. Plus there's water.

DYLAN
That's a liquid!

BEN
(patiently)
But it acts like a solid. It's in
molecules.

An astonished beat passes.

DYLAN
What the Christ are you talking about?
It's all made of molecules!

BEN
Well, there you go.

Ben folds his hands in his lap and basks in the afterglow of
rhetorical victory.

DYLAN
(finally)
Just put in some John Madden Football.
Goddamn, am I gonna kick your junky ass
this season.

BEN
Whatever.

Sean resumes drawing. He isn't bad.

Ben boots up a computer football game, which he and Dylan
play under the following.

DYLAN
Sean, I noticed Miss Melanie has started
spending the night.

SEAN
She has. Is that okay?

DYLAN
It's not a problem at all.
Congratulations. However--

SEAN
Oh, God, here it comes.

DYLAN
I was wondering, has she managed to leave
anything in your room?

SEAN
(shocked)
How'd you know that?

DYLAN
Sean, how much sex have you had in your
life?

SEAN
An insufficient amount. Why?

DYLAN
I've had more than my share. And if
there's one thing I know about women,
it's the more of 'em you meet, the more
you realize they're all the same person.
Of course, I know many more than one
thing about women.

BEN
Throw the ball.

DYLAN
(to Ben)
Here's your ass, Ben.

BEN
(on a first down SOUND EFFECT)
Damnit!

SEAN
She left an earring on my bed.

DYLAN
You mean where someone could've found it?
Like, oh, say, another woman?

SEAN
Well...I found it.

DYLAN
Okay, then.

SEAN
(setting down his drawing)
Okay, what?

DYLAN
She was staking her claim.

SEAN
Her claim to what?

BEN
She was doin' a leave-over.

SEAN
(to Dylan, re Ben)
Oh, geez, you mean he knows and I don't?

DYLAN
She was marking her territory, like a dog
making liquid on a fence. If another
bitch came along, sniffing in her yard,
the earring would show Contestant Number
Two who was big dog on the lot.

SEAN
Well, I put her stuff in a drawer, so
it's a moot point.

DYLAN
Oh, I see. So there's more than one
Melanie item in the drawer?

SEAN
Just a bra she left in the closet one
night. I keep telling her to come by and
pick it up, but...

Sean trails off.

DYLAN
Congratulations, dummy. Your lady has a
drawer.

SEAN
Well, this just pisses me off! What am I
supposed to do, make her undress on the
porch and stay naked 'til she leaves?

BEN
Now you're thinkin'!

DYLAN
I suggest an alternative. Go get me the
stuff she left.

SEAN
You mean all of it?

DYLAN
Every solid, liquid, and gaseous
molecule.

Bewildered, Sean gets up and heads toward his room.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE PIT - DRIVEWAY - DAY - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Dylan's car sits in the prime parking spot; Dylan, Ben, and
Sean walk past it to a patch of bare asphalt. Dylan takes
the EARRING and BRA from Sean along with a HAIR CLIP and a
Johanna Lindsey NOVEL. Dylan unlocks his car, reaches in,
and produces a large Craftsman HAMMER.

DYLAN
(around his cigarette)
You may wish to avert your eyes.

Dylan smashes the earring and hair clip into powder.

SEAN
(yelping)
Awk! What the hell are you doing?

DYLAN
Tough love.

BEN
Kick ass!

Dylan stubs out his cigarette, lights a new one, and applies
his Zippo to the novel, then uses the book to ignite the bra.

DYLAN
Hitler chose the wrong books to burn.

SEAN
(stammering)
Do...I...Can you kindly explain to me
what the purpose of this is?

DYLAN
Simple. I am standing in the way of a
dangerous invasion. That woman is
inching her way into the substance of
your life. It's insidious. You don't
want that. You're getting what you want,
so it has to stop there.

SEAN
But you--!

DYLAN
Listen. You have to do this every time.
Every time! And if she asks you what
happened to her stuff, you go stupid.
You never saw it. Is she absolutely sure
she left it here?

SEAN
Does this not seem at all to you like it
might be overkill? You can't possibly do
this to all of your conquests.

DYLAN
Sean, Sean, Sean...We must never
negotiate with terrorists.

Dylan and Ben go back inside as Sean falls to his knees next
to the pathetic little Melanie pyre.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM - NIGHT

Soft feminine curves under a rumpled sheet.

Melanie sleeps, with Sean spooned up behind her. He uses a
small night stand light to read a Nick Hornby paperback.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
She kept stopping in the middle of
telling me something. Our sex life was
okay but infrequent, and sometimes when I
went to kiss her, she still flew across
the room as if I shot her.

Melanie flinches in her sleep. Sean notices.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
And then there were the dreams.

Melanie inhales sharply. Sean grabs a bookmark from the
night stand.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Some people talk in their sleep, and yes,
Melanie did that, but mostly she ran.

Sean sets down the paperback and kisses Melanie's shoulder.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I could tell she was having terrible
nightmares, and this was every night.
I'm an insomniac myself, so I'd usually
wake up and soothe her out of it.

Melanie thrashes wildly, then runs in her sleep. Sean tries
to calm her down without waking her.

SEAN
It's okay...Shhh...

MELANIE
Ungh!

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I think the greatest gifts I ever gave
her were those nights I stayed awake so
she could sleep.

Melanie jerks and flails. He has no idea what to do.

SEAN
Melanie, baby, it's okay.

She sits bolt upright, eyes darting about wildly.

MELANIE
Wait!

SEAN
It's okay, babe, it's me. You're all
right now.

Melanie turns slowly and looks him straight in the eye.

MELANIE
Why do you do that, when you know how
much it hurts me?

SEAN
(quietly; stunned)
What? What'd I do?

Melanie closes her eyes and lays back down. She's been
asleep the whole time.

Sean's face loses color. Tears well up in his eyes.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Of course I knew what had happened to
her. And in that moment, asleep though
she was, there was something in my own
eyes that reminded her...of his.

Sean weeps silently so as not to wake up Melanie.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - KITCHEN

Melanie and Ben sit quietly eating bowls of Cap'n Crunch.
Sean enters rubbing his eyes.

MELANIE
Good morning, sleepyhead.

SEAN
Morning, Melanie. Morning, Ben.
(looking closer)
That's my cereal, Ben.

BEN
What, d'you want it back? Biznatch.

SEAN
Riiight.
(to Melanie)
How'd you sleep?

MELANIE
(cheerful)
Like a dream. And you?

SEAN
Peachy.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
She had no idea.

He grabs the cereal box from Ben, who's been struggling with
a kids' crossword puzzle on the back.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Give me that.

He looks at the puzzle, which is only half done, then glares
at Ben.

BEN
Yeah?

SEAN
This is a children's crossword puzzle.

BEN
So?

SEAN
On the back of a cereal box.

BEN
What's your point?

SEAN
And it's beating you.

BEN
The pictures don't always look like
they're supposed to. Like here. I know
that's supposed to be a fruit, but what
kind of fruit?

SEAN
It's a six-letter word that starts with
O.

BEN
I haven't gotten to that one yet.

MELANIE
(playing along)
It kinda looks like a nectarine.

BEN
That doesn't start with O.

SEAN
(to Melanie)
He's got you there.

BEN
Well, shit. I must've gotten the word
that crosses it wrong.

SEAN
(rubbing a headache away)
Yeah. Hey, where's Lindarr, Ben? I
haven't seen her in...gosh, hours. What,
is she away celebrating Samhain?

BEN
No, she's away at some flag squad
convention.

Sean pours himself a heaping bowl of cereal.

MELANIE
(astonished)
Wait. She's on the flag squad?

BEN
Damn right.
(to Sean)
Hey, don't hog all the Cap'n Crunch, ass!

SEAN
Sorry, Ben.

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY - OVERCAST

Sean hustles to class, gripping his coat against the cold.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Finals were tough that semester. I had
Algebra II, and let's just say writers
aren't known for their mathematical
prowess.

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM

Sean struggles manfully through the math test from Hell.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
My Lit professor says all good drama
arises from conflict and confrontation,
but this was real life, okay? The last
thing I wanted was a conflict with
Melanie, so I didn't mention her dreams,
and we acted like people in love without
saying the words.

Sean looks over at an Asian-American STUDENT, who points at a
question on the test.

STUDENT
(mouthing the words)
What'd you get for number five?

Sean makes a face that admits he has no earthly idea.

INT. COLLEGE STUDENT UNION SNACK BAR

Sean crams for his next test, books and notes scattered over
his table. Melanie comes by wearing an apron. Puts a hot
pizza pocket in front of him.

SEAN
(intensely grateful)
Thank you.

MELANIE
Study!

Sean nods and goes back to work.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I promised myself if I got a C in that
math class, I'd kiss the professor.

Sean tries to take a bite out of the pizza pocket, and it
splatters onto his notes.

SEAN
Damnit!

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I could never get the hang of those.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Sean and Melanie lie entwined, postcoital. They look fathoms
deep into each other's eyes, drinking great gulps of each
other's souls and finding each other within.

Lovely Melanie, fragile and small, draws a shivering breath.

SEAN
What's the matter?

MELANIE
Oh, Sean...Can you see us together in ten
years?

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
And what I wanted to say, of course, was
Yes, Yes, a thousand times, Yes. But
instead, brilliant fool that I was, I
decided to play it safe--

SEAN
I don't know.

She gazes at him, trying to read his mind, then reaches out
to touch his cheek. Nestles into his chest. He leans in to
kiss her forehead, hold her close, fold her body into his.

CUT TO:

INT. COLLEGE HALL

Sean trudges up to a posted GRADE SHEET, which he scans for
his name. He finds it: "Riley, S. Final Exam Grade 72.
Final Class Grade 69.8 - C."

SEAN
Yes!

A burly Armenian math professor, DR. KAZANJIAN, walks by.

SEAN (CONT'D)
(taking a step toward him)
Dr. Kazanjian!

Dr. Kazanjian stops and looks at Sean curiously.

DR. KAZANJIAN
Yes?

SEAN
(after a very long beat)
Merry Christmas.

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

Dylan and Ben play video football. Sean enters and crashes
happily on The Crouch to read the last few pages of High
Fidelity.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Having miraculously passed all my
classes, I settled into a welcome three
week break between semesters.

DYLAN
Pleased to meet you. Name's Michael.

SEAN
I got twenty pages left.

DYLAN
Michael Loneyhasafirstname.

SEAN
(laughing)
Kudos.

BEN
I don't get it.

DYLAN
Of course not.

SEAN
(his nose in the book)
All right: Owen.

BEN
Owen what?

SEAN
Owen DeSaintsgomarchinin.

DYLAN
Cute.

Ben thinks about this for a long moment.

DYLAN (CONT'D)
(to Ben)
You want to run a play before we get old
and die?

BEN
Wait a minute. I think I might be
figuring this shit out.

DYLAN
Loan me that book when you're finished,
will ya, Sean? I can put two kids
through college by the time this cheese
mold figures anything out.

BEN
No, wait...My name is...Ben.

SEAN
(laughing)
Oh, my God!

DYLAN
Your name is Ben.

BEN
I know. My name is Ben...Ben Andjerry.

SEAN
(looking up from the book)
Holy shit.

DYLAN
Say that again.

BEN
My name is Ben...Ben Andjerry.

DYLAN
Hallelujah. That's the closest he's ever
come to getting it right.

SEAN
Which isn't very.

DYLAN
The joke did suck.

SEAN
Beyond question.

The DOORBELL rings.

BEN
Come on in!

SEAN
You don't live here, Ben!

BEN
Oh, right, like you wanted to stand up
and get it.

SEAN
Point taken.

Melanie pokes her head in the door.

MELANIE
Hello, boys.

SEAN
Hey, come on in!

MELANIE
I brought you a little something. Hey,
Dylan. Ben. Merry Christmas.

DYLAN
Aw, look, it's Santa's looniest little
elf.

SEAN
(warningly)
Dylan.

Melanie hands Sean a wrapped GIFT.

MELANIE
Who you callin' loony, Dr. Evil?

DYLAN
(re Sean)
You must be a loon to date this peasant.

SEAN
Thanks. What'd I get?

MELANIE
Open it!

So he does. Inside is a deluxe edition of SCRABBLE.

SEAN
Hey, hey!

MELANIE
Since you're so incredibly awful at video
games, I thought this'd give you
something to do over the break.

The PHONE rings.

SEAN
(kissing Melanie)
Aw, baby, thank you so much. You rock.

DYLAN
(answering the phone)
Ahoy-hoy...Yeah, I don't know. Hold on a
second.

Dylan covers the receiver.

SEAN
Let me guess, Discover Card Services?

DYLAN
Nah, it's for Benny Ben Ben.
(to Ben)
You here?

BEN
That depends. Who is it?

DYLAN
Who do you think?

BEN
(after an angry beat)
Yeah, I'm here.
(grabbing the phone)
Linda, what did I...How did you...No, I
said I'd...Whoa! Who you callin'
a...Bite me!
(slamming the phone down)
Bitch!

DYLAN
Oh, no, you didn't just slam my phone.
Do it again, I'll kick your ass.

BEN
All right, fine!

Melanie curls up with Sean on The Crouch.

MELANIE
What'd Linda want?

BEN
I don't know, same thing she always
wants, to make sure I ain't--Oh,
goddamnit, how's she know where I am all
the time?

SEAN
Maybe she's having you followed.

BEN
(reluctantly)
Yeah, I think she might've a coupla
times. Why, is that weird?

MELANIE
To have you followed?

DYLAN
This psycho bitch is tailing you?

SEAN
Of course it's weird, Ben!

DYLAN
For Christ's sake, you're pathetic.
She's using you, dipshit, and you just
roll over and take it.

BEN
Aw, she ain't using me.

DYLAN
The last two dozen times you went out,
who paid the bill? She was here all last
weekend, so you're both using me. Parks
her shitty-ass car in my driveway, uses
up all my hot water.

SEAN
(to Dylan)
I do live here, too, y'know.

DYLAN
(to Ben)
Yeah, yeah, so you're getting your deck
swabbed, big deal. What do I get? At
least Melanie brings over Scrabble and
cookies.

MELANIE
I live to serve.

BEN
You go too far, man. That shit's way out
of line.

DYLAN
Oh yeah? Bring it, you don't like it!

BEN
Eat a dick!

Sean turns to Melanie.

SEAN
Hey, maybe we should take this party into
my room, you think?

Melanie looks at him; she knows what he wants. And she'd
like to, she would, but...

MELANIE
I think I'd probably better go.

Sean cringes.

SEAN
Fine.

DYLAN (O.C.)
(to Melanie)
Oh, for God's sake, will you please screw
him again before the Pope declares him a
monk?

SEAN
Dylan, please!
(quietly, to Melanie)
Will I see you this weekend?

MELANIE
Come by the snack bar. I work Saturday
morning and Sunday after three.

SEAN
All right.

She kisses his nose. He isn't happy.

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT PORCH

Sean watches as Melanie's car pulls away.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
This was getting old fast. I needed to
do something to grab her attention.

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM

Sean looks at the DRAWING of Melanie and himself, now
completed and pinned to his bulletin board. He comes to a
decision. Grabs his KEYS from the dresser.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
For my lady, I resolved to create the
greatest Christmas present since O. Henry
invented the candy bar.

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

He walks straight past Dylan and Ben, who have returned to
their game without further incident.

DYLAN
Where are you going?

SEAN
I'll be back.

Slam.

BEN
(a la Ahnold)
He'll be bahk.

DYLAN
Shut the fuck up.

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT YARD - DAY

Sean marches ahead purposefully, keys in hand.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Behold: This is my car, the Boomerang.
A Ford Thunderbird, '79. Gold, or at
least it was once upon a time. Two low
tires; and on the trunk, a wide CB
antenna that really does resemble a
BOOMERANG. If crap had wheels, it would
look like this car.

The car door swings open, creaking on its hinges. Sean
tosses school books and music cassettes into the back seat.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Once a bad-ass American driving machine,
now a decomposing deathtrap the size and
shape of Rhode Island.

INT./EXT. THE BOOMERANG

Sean mouths a silent prayer. Inserts the key. Gives it a
twist. Somewhere deep inside the Boomerang's broad hood,
there is a flutter and COUGH.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
A hundred and eighty-five horsepower...if
and when she starts.

He tries again. This time, SUCCESS.

SEAN
Oh, thank God.

He kisses the steering wheel. Cranks up the TUNES.

EXT. THE PIT - CONTINUOUS

Hi-ho, Boomerang, away!

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Care is needed, as for all intents and
purposes, the Boomerang has no brakes.

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - DAY

Sean's deathtrap cruises toward the edge of town.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Filmmakers don't seem to "get" Oklahoma,
but at least they know one thing: If
you've seen Where the Heart Is, then you
know true Oklahomans cannot live without
a Super Center Wal-Mart.

The huge car skids off into a super-sized Wal-Mart parking
lot, careens through a few bizarre maneuvers, then bumps to
an uncontrolled stop against a parking stile at the back of
the lot. Sean isn't kidding about those brakes.

INT. THE BOOMERANG - CONTINUOUS

Flop sweat pours from his forehead.

SEAN
(gasping in fear)
Holy Mary, Chuck Berry.

CUT TO:

INT. WAL-MART

Sean pushes a CART through the aisles of Midwesterners'
favorite consumer paradise.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
One of the things I found most soft and
endearing about Melanie was the candy she
always kept around her apartment for the
kids she baby-sat.

Sean roams the CANDY aisles, tossing bags of candy hearts,
M&M's, and chocolate miniatures into the cart.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Unfortunately, she didn't own a candy
dish, so the candies were stacked in a
stolen motel ashtray. Not a good thing.

He grabs a squarish mason JAR, the kind with the wire loop to
lock it shut, and sets it gently in the "seat" of the cart.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
This would be a gift for the ages, a gift
that would reflect her most individual,
lovable nature.

He rifles through a row of waterproof PAINTS and brushes.
Then a children's coloring book catches his eye.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
We have a winner.

He grabs the coloring book, a satisfied man.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT YARD

The Boomerang skids into an awkward park. SCREEEECH!

INT./EXT. THE BOOMERANG

Sean gasps in relief and rests his dripping forehead on the
steering wheel.

SEAN
(gasping)
Shit.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

Sean pokes his head in. Looks around carefully. Moves
quickly with his bag full of goodies toward his room.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I was in unmitigated wuss mode, so I
couldn't get spotted by Dylan or Ben.

INT. THE PIT - SEAN'S ROOM

He slips in and carefully shuts and locks his door. Goes to
the bed and pulls items from the bag: Candy, the mason jar,
brushes, paints, the coloring book, and a green tea.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Time for the master artist to do that
voodoo that he do.

Sean flips through the coloring book.

Preps the paints.

Wets a brush.

Eyes the mason jar carefully.

Stabs his finger down on an appropriate coloring book page.

Dips the brush in white paint.

We watch through the jar as he sketches a happy clown.

Takes a hit off the green tea. Wipes his forehead with his
sleeve.

The project slowly takes shape.

On one side, a smiling clown holds a handful of balloons.

Sean blows on the paint to dry it. Surveys his handiwork.

SEAN
(smiling)
Not too shabby.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Little by little, I gave birth to my most
inspired and sincere objet d'art.

On the side of the jar left of the clown, he paints a bouquet
of roses.

Gently flicks his wrist to sketch a fluttering petal.

Sets the brush down. Grabs a PHONE and a PHONE BOOK.

Skims the Yellow Pages under "Florists."

Seven BEEPS. RING and CLICK.

PHONE VOICE
Thank you for calling Anderson Florists.

SEAN
Hi. I'd like to get a price on a dozen
roses, please, wrapped.

CUT TO:

SAME - A FEW MINUTES LATER

He blows on the finished bouquet painting.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Two down, two to go.

Spins the jar.

Left of the bouquet, he eyes fresh greenish glass.

Searches through the coloring book.

Cleans his brush.

Stabs it into brown paint.

We watch him work through the happy clown side.

Sean labors furiously. A genius at work.

Blows on the jar. Sets it down.

A fuzzy tubby teddy bear holding out a candy heart: "LUV."

Sean wipes a single tear from his own eye, he's so proud.

SEAN
Ohh--Single tear.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
One side left.

He cleans his brush.

Dips it into red paint. Quickly sketches...

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
A simple calligraphy job, eight letters
and a space: "Take Some." As easy as...

Sean looks at the finished jar.

SEAN
Damnit!

The jar does now say "TAKE" and "SOME," but the words are too
far apart.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Huh. Should've planned that better, I
guess, but no problem. I can either
scrape the paint off and start again,
or...

Sean paints two letters quickly between "TAKE" and "SOME."

Regards the jar, which now reads, "TAKE YA SOME."

He tilts his head and frowns.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
"Take ya some." What I hoped would be an
idiosyncratic invitation now seemed more
like a lecherous come-on.
(sigh)
Oh, well.

He fills the jar with candy and attaches the lid.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
She'd learn to love it. Now to put it in
the gift bag from Hallmark, which...

Sean looks around.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Damnit, I must've left it in the car.

He stands, still blowing on the painted mason jar.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I could've left the jar there when I went
to get the bag. I should've left it
there...but I didn't.

INT. THE PIT - HALLWAY

He steps out toward the living room and is immediately
spotted by Ben, who's returning from the kitchen with a bag
of Sean's chips and a can of Sean's soda.

BEN
Hey, whatcha got there?

SEAN
Ben! It's a...well...it's a...

Dylan appears behind Ben and stares at the candy jar.

DYLAN
Crack pipe. How charming.

BEN
(reading)
"Take ya some?"

Sean sighs heavily and opens his mouth to explain.

SEAN
I just--

FREEZE and

CUT TO:

INT. COLLEGE STUDENT UNION SNACK BAR

Sean stands before Melanie, who's in her snack bar apron
behind the counter.

SEAN
--wanted to wish you a merry Christmas,
so I got you a little something to
express my...affection.

MELANIE
(uncomfortable)
Um, yeah, I got the flowers already.
They were great. Thanks.

SEAN
Not a problem.

A few dozen HIGH SCHOOLERS in BAND UNIFORMS come filing into
the snack bar.

MELANIE
Oh, dear.

SEAN
Who are all these guys?

MELANIE
Some kind of band camp. We were warned
they might be coming.

The band members laugh and cut up. They're moving toward the
counter.

SEAN
Well, I'd better hurry up, then. Here
you go.

He hands her the gift bag.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Merry Christmas, Melanie.

She extracts the candy jar and looks it over.

MELANIE
(ambiguous)
Oh, that's really cute. "Take ya some."
Huh. You do mean candy, right?

SEAN
Yeah, well, it was...kind of a typo. I
meant candy. Long story.

The band members, complete with tall puffy hats, file into
line, joshing and clowning.

MELANIE
Sean...

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I awaited her praise and adoration.

MELANIE
...I don't think we should see each other
as a couple anymore.

Sean, and even the high school FRESHMAN behind him, FREEZE.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Emotionally speaking, I was thrown
through the windshield and into a barbed
wire fence. Doctors were baffled as to
how I survived the sudden crash.

FRESHMAN
(unfreezing)
Dude, that's harsh!

SEAN
Did you...Huh?

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
My tongue became shoe leather.

MELANIE
No, you don't understand.
(to the Freshman)
He doesn't understand.
(to Sean)
This probably wasn't the best time.

SEAN
Who nuh?! Huh!

MELANIE
(to the Freshman)
I have issues with timing.

FRESHMAN
It's a rough thing to master.

Sean grabs the candy jar back.

MELANIE (CONT'D)
Hey!

SEAN
Why today?!

MELANIE
I guess I don't get to keep that?

A pretty high school SOPHOMORE girl pipes up.

SOPHOMORE
It is pretty.

The Freshman nods in agreement.

SEAN
Goddamnit, this is insane!

SOPHOMORE
(quietly)
Language.

SEAN
I did everything right! I was the
perfect boyfriend! I wish I went out
with me!

FRESHMAN
Gay, dude.

SEAN
Will you get outta my face?!

FRESHMAN
(to Melanie)
So are you, like, single now or what?

SEAN
What could I have possibly done wrong?

MELANIE
It isn't you, Sean, it's me. Look, I'm
going through a difficult time right now.

SEAN
Oh, I'm so sorry! I was hoping maybe
dumping me would cheer you up!

MELANIE
Please stop yelling. This is already
difficult.

FRESHMAN
Yeah, man, don't be a dick.

Sean starts to scream in frustration.

SEAN
Ahhh--

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE STUDENT UNION

Sean and Melanie argue in a more secluded corner.

SEAN
--Ahhh!

MELANIE
Will you please let me try to explain?

SEAN
I'm awaiting your explanation with bated
breath.

MELANIE
Thank you. There are things you still
don't know about me--

SEAN
(ominously)
Don't I?

MELANIE
--things I don't feel comfortable telling
you or anyone else, crazy things. I know
it's hard for you to understand--let me
finish!--because you want to take care of
me, and that's not your job. I don't
want that. I don't need some kind of
knight in shining armor.

SEAN
Hold up! Are you telling me I was too
nice?

MELANIE
No, I love that you're nice,
(as Sean rolls his eyes)
but Sean, you've got to understand I'm a
mess...
(finally)
I don't want you to have to come down to
where I am.

Sean glares at her, fully prepared to yell at her, call her a
bitch, but instead:

SEAN
Ah, Jesus, Melanie...

She starts crying. Tries to stop but fails miserably.

MELANIE
So sorry...baby...

He hangs his head, with no idea what to say.

CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - EMPTY ROAD - NIGHT

Sean and Ben walk along the side of the road, hands in
pockets. Their breath frosts in December air.

BEN
Yeah, Sharon Kane. Some freshman.

SEAN
I think I met her. Theatre major?

BEN
Yeah, that's her. I got invited to this
party, and she was there. We got drunk,
and...you know.

SEAN
Sure. You banged her like a screen door.

BEN
Exactly.

SEAN
You worked her over like a Chinese
dissident.

BEN
We were drunk.

SEAN
Good for you, Ben.

BEN
I cheated on Linda.

SEAN
Ben, you gotta know she treats you like
shit.

BEN
I know.

SEAN
So why do you let her?

BEN
(very small)
I guess I must kinda like it.

Sean exhales: Whew.

BEN
I kinda do, kinda don't. I don't know
why. Dude, this shit's gotta stop. I
gotta break up with Linda. You and Dylan
can't stand her. I can't stand her. No
human being can stand her.

SEAN
She is a bitch.

BEN
Yeah...Her dad used to hit her.

SEAN
Shit. I guess that's a reason.

BEN
Aw, I don't give a shit! I mean I do,
but geez, get over it, y'know? I got hit
all through high school. You don't see
me gettin' all freaked out about it.

SEAN
You like this Sharon person?

BEN
Nah, I hardly even know her. She'll tell
Linda...We'll break up. And after all
that...I don't know. Life goes on, I
guess.

SEAN
So how was she?

BEN
Who, Sharon?

SEAN
Yeah.

BEN
Like stirrin' a cup of warm water.

After a long pause, the guys break up in sad laughter.

SEAN
That's messed up.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
We spent two weeks in an orgy of holiday
depression. Melanie came by The Pit a
few times, each time weirder than the
last.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - DAY

Sean opens the door. There stands Melanie, who seems happy
enough; but then she says--

MELANIE
Hi. Do you know where I can buy a gun?

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM - A DAY LATER

Sean opens the door. There stands Melanie, who's been
crying; but then she says--

MELANIE
Hi. I brought you some cookies.

She holds out a plate of chocolate chip COOKIES. They look
yummy...home-baked.

SEAN
Well, thank you!

MELANIE
Yeah, okay...'Bye.

SEAN
(confused)
G'bye.

Slam.

Sean holds the dish out to Ben, who's playing a video game.

SEAN
Want a cookie?

BEN
(emphatically)
No, thanks.

SEAN
What, you don't want any food someone
actually offers you?

BEN
You ain't really gonna eat those, are
you?

SEAN
Of course I am. Why not?

BEN
(laughing)
Because she's probably poisoned 'em.

Sean stops with a cookie halfway into his mouth. She
wouldn't poison him...Would she? He doesn't chew.

CUT TO:

INT. ABILENE SAM'S (RESTAURANT)

Sean and Dylan chow down on enormous barbecue burgers.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Dylan's in his last year as a psych
major, and despite all his misogynist
meditations, I will say this for him: He
understands people as well as anyone I
ever met. By night he even works as a
counselor at the local mental hospital.
It's a shame he uses his powers for evil.

SEAN
Look, I know she's a nut, but I care
about her. I want to know she's okay.

DYLAN
That's how they hook you in, by sympathy.

SEAN
Right.

DYLAN
It works at first, but then we realize we
never respected them.

SEAN
You mean girlfriends?

DYLAN
No, women in general.

SEAN
(amused)
Oh, I don't know, I think Mother Teresa
did a few respectable things in her time.

DYLAN
And my answer to that is Mother Teresa
was not a real woman. You ever look at
that bitch? Really look? Ah, women.
You can't live with 'em...

SEAN
Can't live without 'em?

DYLAN
No, I was finished.

SEAN
Aha. So you're contending that Mother
Teresa was really a man?

DYLAN
No, I'm contending she was sexless. She
removed from herself all those quirks of
behavior and cosmetics that'd identify
her as a woman. No more makeup, no more
crying jags or tantrums--

SEAN
Is it "tantrums" or "tantra?"

DYLAN
May I finish?

SEAN
Adjectival form "tantric"...Sorry, go on.

DYLAN
Thank you. Now, we could name plenty of
women off the top of our heads who've had
minor successes: Margaret Thatcher,
Janet Reno, Joycelyn Elders, Camille
Paglia, even Hilary Clinton. But they
are all, in some fashion or another,
sexless. Or they're lesbians, so they
don't count anyway.

SEAN
What about actresses? Jodie Foster?

Dylan simply raises his eyebrows.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Right, I gotcha. Sigourney Weaver?

DYLAN
Grotesquely tall, man-faced, freak of
nature.

SEAN
Ouch.

DYLAN
I gotta call 'em like I see 'em.

SEAN
So what you're saying, I think, is that
in order to succeed in a way men would
consider a success, a woman has to
suppress her feminine nature...

DYLAN
Precisely.

SEAN
...and act like a man. Am I following
you at all?

DYLAN
You are following me impeccably.

SEAN
I think you're oversimplifying.

DYLAN
Not at all, and here's why. A guy wants
his business to make as much money as
possible, right? So let's say some hot
chick comes in for an interview, and he
gives her a shot. She's so hot, in fact,
that when she blathers off some female
idea about running a business, he decides
to give it a try. It's a sexually
motivated scenario that's been played out
in a thousand different companies, and
y'know what the results have been?

SEAN
Happier office parties?

DYLAN
Try ignominious defeat. Not a single
successful business on this planet is
being run like it was run by a woman.
And why not? Because you can't run a
business using tantrums and persuasion.

SEAN
(skeptical)
Well, I don't--

DYLAN
It's all about the bottom line, my
friend, mathematical reality. And the
ladies...they just ain't built to deal
with that, because estrogen, as I often
say...

DYLAN AND SEAN
...is a mind-altering drug.

DYLAN
Exactly.

SEAN
(pondering this)
Y'know, I'm not sure, but I think you
might be...warped.

Dylan shrugs.

SEAN
Which brings me back to my original
question: What to do about Melanie?

DYLAN
Oh, that's easy: Nothing. Cut her
loose.

SEAN
I don't think I want to do that.

DYLAN
That's why I haven't bothered telling you
before. I got it all figured out, my
friend. Let those who have ears listen.

Sean takes a bite of his hamburger and chews thoughtfully.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Here comes the bad part.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

Sean sits alone on The Crouch and reads.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
In the movies it's always raining when
people's lives fall apart, but this was a
cold, clear night, December twenty-third.
This time she didn't ring the bell...

KNOCK, KNOCK...

EXT. THE PIT - FRONT PORCH

Sean opens the door. Melanie stands outside looking awful.

SEAN (CONT'D)
(confused and concerned)
Hey, how ya doin'? I thought you went
home for Christmas already.

MELANIE
(snickering; a private joke)
Home...You got a few minutes? I could
really stand a walk-and-talk.

SEAN
Sure. Let me go grab my jacket.

She nods sadly and waits.

CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - NIGHT

Sean and Melanie walk down deserted winter streets past
windows merrily decorated for the holidays.

They talk quietly under the following:

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
It began pleasantly enough, with about an
hour of inane dialogue that had nothing
to do with what she really wanted to talk
about. I found myself jonesing to sweep
her into my arms and kiss her as if our
relationship had never been a joke.

We see this longing in his face, and he leans toward her as
they walk. She keeps on talking, apparently oblivious.

MELANIE
...I was lucky to pass all my classes.

SEAN
You sleeping any better now?

MELANIE
Better than when?

Since we were together...

SEAN
Since last semester.

MELANIE
No. How 'bout you? Now that I'm not
there to kick and punch you all night, is
it easier to get up in the morning?

SEAN
I sleep okay. I miss you...You know.

MELANIE
Yeah. But it's better, I think...I need
to be by myself for a while.

SEAN
Well.

MELANIE
I need some me time, you understand that?

SEAN
No. I don't understand why you think
it'll be easier to get your head together
on your own.

MELANIE
I need a change, not a friend.

SEAN
I just wish you weren't shutting me out.

MELANIE
I've been shutting myself out.
(suddenly intense)
I have shit in my life you can never
understand. You shouldn't have to
understand.

SEAN
I know more than you think I do.

MELANIE
Really? You've got it all figured out?
So what exactly do you think it is I
haven't told you?

SEAN
For starters, you haven't told me why we
broke up.

MELANIE
Oh, for God's sake--

SEAN
What?

Melanie stops in the middle of the road. She and Sean are in
the darkness on the edge of town, with only businesses closed
for the night on all sides.

MELANIE
(anguished)
You're forcing me!

SEAN
(at wit's end)
Forcing you? This is forcing you? I've
been following your lead this whole time!
You need help, y'know that, Melanie? Do
you know you need serious professional
help?

MELANIE
I do? And who doesn't? You?

SEAN
(intensely)
You think everybody else is as messed up
as you are? 'Cause they're aren't. They
haven't been through the kinda shit you
have. And no one including me'll be able
to help you until you accept some
limitations.

MELANIE
Psychobabble.

SEAN
Accept you're hurting other people.

MELANIE
You're being mean. Stop it.

SEAN
And accept we love you and understand
what you've been through.

MELANIE
You understand? Do you really? 'Cause I
see pictures. Do you understand the
pictures?

SEAN
What pictures?

MELANIE (CONT'D)
I hear screaming in my sleep, and the
voice sounds familiar.

Sean throws his hands up in defeat. Walks away.

MELANIE (CONT'D)
And there's a hall in the pictures, in a
sunny old house, and a room at the end of
the hall. That's when I hear the girl
screaming.

That stops Sean in his tracks.

FLASH CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY

We get a glimpse of what she sees in her mind.

MELANIE (O.C.)
I can look down the hall and see into her
room.

FLASH CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - NIGHT

She gazes out through lost eyes.

MELANIE
The door is open. There's a monster
inside.

SEAN
(quietly)
Your father.

MELANIE
(emphatically)
A monster.

FLASH CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY

Through the door, a diffuse glow surrounds moving shadows.

MELANIE (O.C.)
I should run, but I can't. I should help
her, but I can't.

FLASH CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - SAME

She shakes her head from side to side.

MELANIE
I should leave, but I can't.

SEAN
It's okay. He isn't there anymore.

MELANIE
(distant)
Oh, I know, but this was back when she
was young. I still dream about the room
sometimes. He still comes in to get her.

SEAN
Wait, get "her?" Who is "her?" I don't--

MELANIE
Listen...There's a girl.

FLASH CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY

Coming up on the door now. A little GIRL, perhaps 5,
resolves from the shadows. She faces away from us.

MELANIE (O.C.)
A girl in her prettiest, bestest pink
outfit. And now she's trapped in her
room with the monster.

And as a much larger shadow resolves into the shape of a MAN,
the bedroom door SLAMS SUDDENLY SHUT.

MATCHING FLASH CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON, OKLAHOMA - SAME

Melanie jerks back and shudders. Nods to herself solemnly.

MELANIE
(as if to herself)
She asks the monster to stop, every time,
but he won't. And what a pretty little
girl she'd be, if she could only stop
crying.

Of course Sean trembles. He's a witness to obscenity now.

SEAN (V.O.)
She keeps thinking, if she learns how to
love him the right way, the monster won't
hurt her anymore.

SEAN
That's all over, I promise.

MELANIE
He still hurts her, because he chases her
and finds her alone in her dreams. And
he takes her to the dark place and
touches her. Terrible things. There are
monsters in the dark.

SEAN
(whispering)
I can see them...

Against his will, Sean now begins to weep.

SEAN (CONT'D)
...but I can't fix this.

MELANIE
It's a story. Just a story about a girl
at the end of a hall. I can see her. I
want to help her. She keeps on screaming
and she wants me to help her, make the
monsters go away, but I can't reach her.
I don't know how to get there.

SEAN
I want to help you...We need somebody
else.

Now Melanie, too, begins to lose it. Her voice becomes a
jagged sob.

MELANIE
You've got to help me.

SEAN
I don't know how to fix this, baby.

MELANIE
She was taken to a place...days and
nights...Can't remember. Must have gone
on for years. They should have helped
her. She was screaming and screaming.

SEAN
Melanie, this is...You've been terribly
abused, and now it's fucking up your
life. You have to let me, I don't know,
find you some help.
(as gently as possible)
Your abuser...the monster...babe, I know
he was your father.

Melanie nods, very slowly, in the manner of a small child.

MELANIE
He called my uncles to come over. They
took turns.

SEAN
Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Melanie, baby.
I promise I...Baby, I'm not qualified to
help you. We have to find someone
qualified, a professional who--

MELANIE
(a cry of the heart)
Fucker! They were monsters, goddamn
monsters--Help me, Sean! Make the
monsters stop hurting her! She's been
good!

SEAN
Melanie, please, I have to find someone
smarter. We can--

Her face contorts to unleash a SCREAM that would terrify the
Devil himself. She whirls and claws at the air, then
collapses into a sobbing knot of terror on the curb. She
rocks back and forth, muttering incomprehensible curses.

Sean is helpless. Sits down weakly on the opposite curb.

A moment passes. Another moment.

Then Melanie looks up, no more crying, and stands. She walks
calmly toward the corner of a nearby realtor's OFFICE.

It is an office that has very large WINDOWS.

Sean stands up quickly, chilled by a horrible premonition.

Melanie disappears around the corner of the office.

There is a CRASH of broken glass, followed by a SCREAM that
only vaguely sounds human.

Sean holds his breath and cannot move.

SEAN (CONT'D)
(whispering)
Why would Melanie--?

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Of course. She broke a window to cut her
wrists. I had to run around the corner
now and save her. She was dying...

He stands frozen, his eyes wide pools of liquid horror.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
...but I couldn't. I didn't want to hold
her body in my arms as it leaked out her
substance to the pavement. I didn't want
to watch her eyes go blind and cold.

Sean gets up and forces himself to turn the corner...

Melanie sits, hunched over, shaking, but otherwise unharmed.
Broken glass twinkles on concrete behind her.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
She couldn't kill the monster by
attacking herself. She couldn't make
this never have happened.

Melanie rises, an unexpected display of dignity.

MELANIE
So, you coming or what?

She takes off in a march down the street. He looks after
her, staggered beyond even the compulsion to understand.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE PIT - LATER

Melanie unlocks her car. Sean follows, but still keeps what
he hopes is a respectful distance.

SEAN
Are you okay to drive?

MELANIE
Of course I'm okay to drive. Like I'm
some kind of psycho! What's with all the
weird looks? I swear to God, Sean,
sometimes I think you're more neurotic
than I am. Go inside, relax, finish your
book.
(pushing his arm gently)
Go.

SEAN
I don't think you should be driving right
now, Melanie. You should probably see a
counselor, or a--

MELANIE
Damnit, Sean, I'm fine! I promise.

He knows...we know...that she isn't.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
So I stood there saying nothing as she
drove into darkness.

Once again the lights retreat across his face.

CUT TO:

INT. COLLEGE HALL

Dylan stands outside a classroom door as Sean walks out.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
It was three or four weeks later. The
spring semester had begun.

DYLAN
We've got to talk.

SEAN
Oh, man, what now?

Dylan leads Sean into a corner as students fill the hall.

DYLAN
It's about Melanie.

SEAN
I haven't seen her in weeks.

DYLAN
That's because she's been out of it for
weeks, and this morning, she checked
herself into Quiet Oaks.
(meaningfully)
Where I work.

SEAN
Shit.

DYLAN
It was either that or a friend was gonna
have her EOD'ed.

SEAN
"EOD'ed?" What does that mean?

DYLAN
It means Emergency Order of Detention.
It means committal.

SEAN
I need to see her.

DYLAN
I know.

CUT TO:

INT. QUIET OAKS MENTAL CLINIC - COMMON ROOM

Inoffensive, institutional pink. Beat-up couches. Two
PATIENTS play Ping Pong. Sean enters quietly and finds
Melanie watching Springer on an old Curtis Mathis TV.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
She was still in her pajamas, and she
hadn't washed her hair in several days.
She never moved, just watched the freak
show on the tube without blinking...and I
left without saying a word. She was
doing what I told her to do, but I didn't
feel so wise anymore.

Sean slips out as quietly as he entered.

Melanie stares at the TV.

CUT TO:

INT. THE PIT - LIVING ROOM

Sean comes in, dejected as hell. Ben plays a video game and
eats straight out of a container of ice cream.

BEN
'S'up, dawg?

Sean sits down on The Crouch.

SEAN
Not much, "G money." That my ice cream?

BEN
How should I know? I don't live here.
Hey, listen up. My name is Dylan.

SEAN
Uh-huh?

BEN
(proud of himself)
Dylan Andjerry.

SEAN
Dylan And--? No, that's not--Couldn't
you at least have gone with Tom?

We gradually become aware of a rhythmic POUNDING.

SEAN (CONT'D)
What the hell is that noise?

BEN
Aw, it's just Dylan and The Stork. She
came over a few minutes ago.

SEAN
And what exactly are they doing?

BEN
What do you think, foo'?

The pounding has now ramped up to the point that it's
knocking over objects in the living room.

BEN (CONT'D)
Whoa, hey, I think my chair just moved.
(yelling)
Give her hell, D money!

Sean buries his face in his hands.

CUT TO:

EXT. ANDERSON PARK - DAY

Bare trees rise out of sparse pastel flowers: Spring is
springing.

Sean jogs past in sweats and sneakers.

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I only jog when I'm incredibly depressed,
and it shows. But surprisingly enough,
The Stork asked me if she could tag
along.

The Stork runs several paces ahead.

SEAN
Hey, wait up, your legs are longer than
mine. I'm amazed you can run at all
after...

THE STORK
(pointedly)
Yes?

SEAN
(catching up to her)
Never mind. Anyway, I'm glad you came
along, 'cause I could use your feminine
insight on a problem I'm having.

THE STORK
Okay. What problem?

SEAN
Dylan's probably told you about Melanie.

THE STORK
I know she went into Quiet Oaks.

SEAN
Yeah, that's her, all right.

THE STORK
It's not your problem, though. She
already broke up with you.

SEAN
I could've stopped her. Besides, that's
just it. I've been wondering if I gave
up too easy, and if that's why she's in
the shape she's in now.

THE STORK
That had nothing to do with you.

SEAN
I just wanted to help. And I still have
all these questions about it, important
ones, and I don't think they'll ever got
answered now.

THE STORK
Such as?

SEAN
Like is it better to be strong and
protect yourself, or be good and stick
your neck out for somebody else?

THE STORK
I think you have to find a balance.

SEAN
I don't know if that was possible this
time.

THE STORK
Well, then, maybe you did the right
thing.

SEAN
Maybe so. But...
(embarrassed)
What exactly is your name?

THE STORK
You don't know?

SEAN
No one's ever introduced us.

THE STORK
Yeah, but surely Dylan's talked about me
before.

SEAN
Uhh...Yeah, but he uses a lot of
pronouns.

THE STORK
(shrugging)
It's Jennifer.

SEAN
(shaking her hand)
Thank you, Jennifer. Good to meet you.

THE STORK
Same to you.

SEAN
So how do you and Dylan make it work? I
mean, he can't be the easiest guy to get
along with.

THE STORK
You get along with him.

SEAN
Yeah, but I don't have as much invested.

THE STORK
Who says I've got anything invested?
Between you and me and that fence post,
I'm just killing time before law school.

SEAN
(astonished)
Aha.

THE STORK
Don't ever think you know people, Sean.
Not me, not Dylan, nor Ben or Linda or
anyone. Most people don't even know
themselves.

SEAN
And Melanie?

THE STORK
(quietly)
She's in a different world from you. She
can't find yours, no matter how hard she
tries, and believe me...

Something dark crosses Jennifer's face.

THE STORK (CONT'D)
...you don't want to go to hers.

They jog on.

CUT TO:

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - WEEKS LATER

Sean tries to pay attention, but he's distracted by the
worsening weather outside. Deja vu.

DR. LANTZ
...and we imagine ourselves, in our
moments of daring, as the pilots of the
time-travelling vessels of our lives, and
we may even imagine we influence the
trajectories of others. Well, it's a
crock, as any Calvinist could tell you,
and that's exactly what Milton and Bunyan
were trying to work their minds around.

Sean sketches Melanie's face in his notebook as he listens.

DR. LANTZ (CONT'D)
Predestination. At least Bunyan could
believe his life was guided by God.
But in our modern age, we often
experience our lives as unguided, as if
the future were a tunnel but that tunnel
is dark. We reach out in that darkness
to our fellow passengers, but inside we
all know we're just bracing for the
inevitable crash.

There's a long solemn moment, then a few female giggles.

DR. LANTZ (CONT'D)
What a drag, huh?

A few students chuckle, releasing the tension.

DR. LANTZ (CONT'D)
That's why you don't see many Calvinists
these days. We'd all rather believe in
free will.

Sean considers this as THUNDER ROLLS.

His new DRAWING of Melanie seems to MORPH into that of a
scared little girl.

CUT TO:

INT. STUDENT UNION SNACK BAR

We've come back to where we started, second verse, same as
the first. There's a pizza pocket stain on Sean's chest as
he stutters at Melanie.

SEAN
(unsure)
Uh, maybe we could--

MELANIE
What?

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
Go out again! Maybe we could--!

SEAN
Never mind. I guess I'll see you around.

CUT TO:

INT. MEN'S ROOM

...where he leans against the door.

SEAN
Argh, my heart!

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I can't do this. It's too much risk.
It's too hard!

He regards the blood-red stain on his chest.

SEAN (CONT'D)
She got me again.

A TORNADO WARNING SOUNDS. Sean reacts with a roll of his
eyes, more annoyed than concerned.

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY - DARK AND CLOUDY

We finally see what Sean sees, his eyes WIDENING IN
UNMITIGATED FEAR:

A WHIRLWIND, its VOICE the chug of a runaway train, bears
down on us from across the open lawn.

Papers spin around the F1 TORNADO, a black curtain of WALL
CROWD sweeping in behind it. The twister, now forty yards
away and closing, nudges a full-sized SUV out of its way.

Sean stands frozen in his tracks before the raging tornado.

It occurs to him suddenly that his arm hair is STANDING UP.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Melanie!

He turns to run for his life. But before he can make it
three steps, a brilliant pulse of ELECTRIC FIRE punches into
him, flinging him end over end to smash into the ground.

Thunder CRACKS! and we...

SMASH CUT TO:

BLACK

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I know love is the great randomizer. I
know there are forces I cannot control...
but I have decided to make my stand
nonetheless. This is my life--my life!-
and I'll be damned if I'm gonna turn into
some thirty-year-old shmuck who writes
novels about the one who got away.

DYLAN (V.O.)
Hey, wake up!

NARRATOR SEAN (V.O.)
I'm through talking now. It's time to
move forward.

BEN
Yeah, get up, foo'!

SLOW DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY

Cold rain. Dylan nudges Sean's shoulder.

Sean's right arm is painted in crimson burns, and his pupils
are two different sizes. He twitches once, then sits up
sharply. His pupils return to normal.

SEAN
What was that?!

BEN
Dude, you got totally struck by
lightning!

DYLAN
I'd have pegged that as my fate.

Sean jerks in pain and lays back down.

SEAN
Argh, my arm.

BEN
Did you blow a load? I heard it makes
people--

DYLAN
Shut up, Ben.
(to Sean)
You're burnt pretty bad. You want me to
call for an ambulance?

SEAN
Nah, I'll go see the nurse in a minute.
Help me out of this rain.

He sits up.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Wait. I can't. I need to...Help me up,
will you? My legs don't seem to be
working.

BEN
He's fuckin' paralyzed! How cool is
that?!

Sean hops in place to wake his legs up, then very gently
rolls his sleeves down to cover the burns on his arm.

SEAN
I don't think--ow, that hurts. Do you
guys smell hair burning?

BEN
Sha-weet!

DYLAN
(not particularly concerned)
You're a mess, man.

SEAN
Yeah, but at least my symbolism's
improving.

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE STUDENT UNION - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Sean charges forward as it stops raining. He's a man on a
mission...and soaking wet.

INT. COLLEGE STUDENT UNION SNACK BAR

STUDENTS return to their normal lives now that the storm has
passed. Many are excited or upset about the tornado.

Sean looks around. Doesn't see her anywhere.

EXCITED STUDENT #1
I heard it killed a guy!

EXCITED STUDENT #2
No way!

SEAN
Come on, Melanie. Where are you, baby?

He checks the bookstore.

The video game arcade.

Nada.

SEAN (CONT'D)
Damnit! Wait...That's got to be it.

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY

A hint of sunlight peeks out through the clouds. Sean runs
full-speed into...

INT. COLLEGE LIBRARY

...where he glances into Periodicals. Nothing. Then the
check-out counter. Nope.

SEAN
Have you seen her?

CHECK-OUT LADY
Who, your lady friend?

SEAN
Yeah. Melanie!

CHECK-OUT LADY
I know her name. She's only in here
about five times a day.

SEAN
(frantically)
Have you seen her?!

CHECK-OUT LADY
She's in there.

The Check-Out Lady indicates a room labelled Children's
Literature.

CHECK-OUT LADY (CONT'D)
She came in to ride out the storm. What
happened to you?

Sean thinks for a minute before he answers.

SEAN
The unexpected.

CHECK-OUT LADY
(sarcastic)
Oh, that.

Sean still seems disoriented.

CHECK-OUT LADY (CONT'D)
(finally)
So go get her, ya dope.

SEAN
Good idea.

He charges inside.

INT. COLLEGE LIBRARY - CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

She rifles sadly through Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince.
Sean appears at the end of the aisle.

SEAN
Melanie.

She doesn't look up at all.

MELANIE
Dish-washing liquid.

SEAN
What about it?

MELANIE
It cleans pizza stains. Try cold water
and dish soap. It should come right out.
Did you see the tornado?

SEAN
Yeah, I did. But that's not what I came
in here to talk about.

MELANIE
Sure, big deal, a tornado, right? I
heard it fried a guy's head off.

SEAN
No, it...What're you doing tonight?

She still hasn't looked up from her book.

MELANIE
Why do you ask?

SEAN
Because I want to ask you out. I want to
see you again. I know it's crazy, and I
know we have a lot to work through, but I
don't want to sit around like a loser
while our whatever-we-have fades away.

MELANIE
Our whatever-we-have.

SEAN
Our relationship, Melanie. Please. I
love you. I love you so much it makes
everything else seem trivial by
comparison.

MELANIE
I see.

SEAN
Look at me, Melanie. You think I'm
taking this lightly?

She finally looks up, though not at him.

MELANIE
I think there are problems and there are
problems, Sean.

SEAN
But even that, Melanie. Even that is
less important than this. Because what
if we only feel like this way once in our
lives?

MELANIE
You should know by now, Sean, I'm not
always sure what I'm feeling.

SEAN
Feel in love, Melanie. Please. I know
fate may want to see us break up, but if
that's the case it never should've
brought us together in the first place.
You're my fate. You...You're The One.

MELANIE
(after a beat)
I can't do this.

Sean goes limp. It's all over.

SEAN
(he's dying)
Okay.

MELANIE
I mean, I'm busy tonight.

SEAN
I understand.

MELANIE
I'm baby-sitting Mrs. Guinn's two-year
old daughter.

SEAN
(like he cares at this point)
Who's Mrs. Guinn?

MELANIE
The check-out lady outside. Will you
call me tomorrow?

Say what?

SEAN
About what?

MELANIE
About this dating idea of yours. I'm not
that busy tomorrow night.

SEAN
You want to go out?

MELANIE
No, not really.

Oh. You got him. Very funny.

SEAN
Okay.

MELANIE (CONT'D)
I'd rather stay in, watch a movie. Maybe
Raiders of the Lost Ark; I hear that's
pretty good.

And in Sean's world, it's a very merry Christmas at last.

SEAN
I was thinking a romantic comedy.

MELANIE
Even better.

Beat.

MELANIE
Do you believe in happy endings?

Sean thinks about that for a minute.

SEAN
I don't know if I believe in endings.

Unseen by Sean, Melanie finally allows herself a little
smile.

MELANIE
Then I'll see you tomorrow night.

SEAN
I love you. And now I'm going to the
doctor.

MELANIE
Beg your pardon?

She turns around, finally, but Sean has already exited the
room.

MELANIE (CONT'D)
Sean?
(to herself)
What a crazy, crazy man.

Melanie looks back inside The Little Prince...

MELANIE (CONT'D)
(reading)
"But if you tame me, then we shall need
each other..."

...and smiles.

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY

Sean exits the library and rejoins Dylan and Ben. They walk
off toward healing balms, salves, and ointments.

BELLS are playing, the chimes of SCSU's clock tower.

Students go about their daily business as sunlight finally
bathes the quad, and I say...

It's all right.

FADE OUT.

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