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ALL SCRIPTS


     ADAPTATION
                by

Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman

       adapted from the book

      THE ORCHID THIEF

                by

           Susan Orlean




                                     September 24, 1999
                                          Second Draft

EXT. ROCKY TERRAIN - DAY

Endless barren landscape. No sign of life. The atmosphere
is hazy, toxic-looking. Volcanoes erupt. Meteors bombard.
Lightning strikes, concussing murky pools of water. Silence.

INT. LARGE EMPTY LIVING ROOM - MORNING

SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD, CA, FOUR BILLION AND FORTY YEARS LATER

Beamed ceilings and ostentatious fireplace. A few birthday
cards on the mantel, two of them identical: "To Our Dear Son
on His Fortieth Birthday." Charlie Kaufman, a fat, balding
man in a purple sweater with tags still attached, paces the
room. His incantational voice-over carpets the scene.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I am old. I am fat. I am bald. My
          toenails have turned strange. I am
          repulsive. How repulsive? I don't know
          for I suffer from a condition called Body
          Dysmorphic Disorder. I am fat, but am I
          as fat as I think? My therapist says no,
          but people lie. I believe others call me
          Fatty behind my back. Or Fatso. Or,
          facetiously, Slim. But I also believe
          this is simply my own perverted form of
          self-aggrandizement, that no one really
          talks about me at all. What possible
          interest is an old, bald, fat man to
          anyone? I am repulsive. I have never
          lived. I blame myself. I --

EXT. STATE ROAD 29 - DAWN

A lonely two-lane highway cutting through swampland.

                    BRITISH NARRATOR
          As natural selection works solely by and
          for the good of each being, all corporeal
          and mental endowments will tend to
          progress towards perfection.

Suddenly, a beat-up white van barrels around a curve.   It's
followed closely by an old green Ford.

SUBTITLE: STATE ROAD 29, FLORIDA, FIVE YEARS EARLIER

INT. WHITE VAN - CONTINUOUS

John Laroche drives. He's a skinny man with no front teeth.
The van is piled with bags of potting soil, gardening junk.
A Writings of Charles Darwin audio cassette case is on the
seat next to Laroche.

                                                  (CONTINUED)

                                                              2.
CONTINUED:


                    BRITISH NARRATOR
          It is interesting to contemplate an
          entangled bank, clothed with many plants
          of many kinds, with birds singing...

Laroche tries to contemplate the plants and birds whizzing
by. Almost too late, he spots the Fakahatchee Strand State
Preserve sign and makes a squealing right onto the dirt road
turn-off. The cassette case flies from the seat and half-
buries itself in an open bag of peat.

INT. GREEN FORD - CONTINUOUS

Nirvana blasts. Russell, Vinson, and Randy, three young
Indian men, pass a joint and watch the erratic van ahead.

                    RUSSELL
          Laroche is asleep at the wheel.

                    RANDY
          Crazy White Man is now Drowsy White Man.

They share a stoned laugh.

EXT. NEW YORK APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT

SUBTITLE: NEW YORK, TWO YEARS LATER

Late night street. The click-click of typing. We move
slowly up the building to the only glowing window.

                    ORLEAN (O.S.)
              (wistful)
          John Laroche is a tall guy, skinny as a
          stick, pale-eyed, slouch-shouldered and
          sharply handsome despite the fact that he
          is missing all his front teeth.

In the window, lit by a single desk lamp, a woman types.

INT. APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS

We glide over the desk piled with books about orchids, past a
photo of Laroche tacked to an overwhelmed bulletin board, and
come to rest on a woman typing. It's Susan Orlean: pale,
delicate and blond. We lose ourselves in her melancholy
beauty. She turns to the camera and talks to us.




                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              3.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN
          Two years ago I went to Florida to meet
          Laroche after reading a small article
          about a white man and three Seminole men
          arrested with rare orchids they'd stolen
          out of a place called the...

INT. RANGER'S TRUCK - MID-MORNING

Tony, a ranger, drives along a dirt road past the Fakahatchee
Strand State Preserve sign and enters the swamp. He sees the
white van and Ford parked ahead, spots a Seminole license
plate on the Ford. He pulls over down the road, and whispers
into his C.B.

                    TONY
          We got a Seminole, or Seminoles, in the
          swamp. I'm on Janes Scenic Drive just
          east of Logging Road Twelve. I repeat,
          Indians in the swamp.

Tony waits for a response.   Nothing.

                    TONY (cont'd)
          Indians in the swamp.

Nothing still.   Tony clears his throat into the radio.

                    RADIO VOICE
          I don't know what you want me to say.

                    TONY
          Barry, Indians do not go on swamp walks.
          If there are Indians in the swamp, they
          are in there for a reason.

No response. Tony glowers, gets out of the truck, watches
the vehicles through binoculars. Nothing. He straightens
his cap. Mosquitoes land on his neck, his nose, his lips.

INT. L.A. BUSINESS LUNCH RESTAURANT - MIDDAY

Kaufman, wearing his purple sweater sans tags, sits with
Valerie, an attractive woman in wire-rim glasses. They pick
at salads. Kaufman steals glances at her lips, her hair, her
breasts. She looks up at him. He blanches, looks away.

                     KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I'm old.   I'm bald. I'm repulsive.

                    VALERIE
          We think you're just great.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                                 4.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
              (with studied modesty)
          Oh, thank you.

Valerie absently rubs her nose.      Kaufman self-consciously
rubs his nose in response.

                       VALERIE
             And we're thrilled you're interested.

Valerie rubs her nose again. Kaufman pulls at his nostril.
A rivulet of sweat slides down his forehead. Valerie watches
it. Kaufman sees her watching it. She sees him seeing her
watching it. She looks at her salad. He quickly swabs.

                       KAUFMAN
             Oh, thanks, wow. That's nice to hear.

                       VALERIE
             You have a really unique voice.

                       KAUFMAN
             Well, thanks. That's... I appreciate
             that.

                       VALERIE
             Very talented. Really.

                        KAUFMAN
             Thanks.   Thank you.   Thanks.

                       VALERIE
                 (looking up)
             So --

Kaufman's brow is dripping again.      He smiles, embarrassed.

                       KAUFMAN
             Sort of hot in here.

                       VALERIE
                 (kindly)
             Yeah, it is a bit. So, why don't you
             tell me your thoughts on this crazy
             little project of ours.

In one motion, Kaufman swabs his forehead and pulls a book
entitled The Orchid Thief from his bag.

                    KAUFMAN
          First, I think it's a great book.



                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                                   5.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    VALERIE
          Laroche is a fun character, isn't he?

Kaufman nods, flips through the book, stalling. There's a
smiling author photo of Susan Orlean on the inside back
cover.

                    KAUFMAN
          And Orlean makes orchids so fascinating.
          Plus her musings on Florida, orchid
          poaching. Indians. Great, sprawling New
          Yorker stuff. I'd want to remain true to
          that, let the movie exist rather than be
          artificially plot driven.

                    VALERIE
          Okay, great, great. I guess I'm not
          exactly sure what that means.

                   KAUFMAN
          Oh. Well... I'm not sure exactly yet
          either. So... y'know, it's...

                         VALERIE
          Oh.    Okay.     Great.   So, um, what --

                    KAUFMAN
          It's just, I don't want to compromise by
          making it a Hollywood product. An orchid
          heist movie. Or changing the orchids
          into poppies and turning it into a movie
          about drug running. Y'know?

                    VALERIE
          Oh, of course. We agree.        Definitely.

                    KAUFMAN
          Or cramming in sex, or car chases, or
          guns. Or characters learning profound
          life lessons. Or characters growing or
          characters changing or characters
          learning to like each other or characters
          overcoming obstacles to succeed in the
          end. Y'know? Movie shit.

Kaufman is sweating like crazy now.       Valerie is quiet for a
moment.

                    VALERIE
          See, we thought maybe Susan Orlean and
          Laroche could fall in love during the
          course of --


                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                               6.
CONTINUED: (3)


                    KAUFMAN
          Alienated journalist writes about
          passionate backwoods guy and he teaches
          her to love. I mean, it didn't happen,
          it wouldn't happen. It's Hollywood.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, THREE WEEKS EARLIER

The office is decorated with potted flowers, Audobon posters,
lots of books. Kaufman, nervous and sweaty, watches
Margaret, a soulful development executive, unpack boxes.

                    KAUFMAN
          So anyway I just wanted to stop by to
          congratulate you on your promotion.

                    MARGARET
          Well, thanks again.   It's all so stupid.

                    KAUFMAN
          I think it's great. Your photo in the
          trades and everything. Pretty cool.

                      MARGARET
          Anyway.    Yeah. So what's up with you?

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm considering jobs. Mostly crap.
          There's one you might like, about
          flowers.

                     MARGARET
          Flowers?   Really? What is it?

                    KAUFMAN
          They want me to do an adaptation of a
          book called The Orchid Thief.

                    MARGARET
          Oh my God! You're kidding?    I read that!
          I loved that book!

Kaufman is thrilled; he's scored. Margaret pulls a copy of
The Orchid Thief from her bookshelf.

                    MARGARET (cont'd)
          See, see, see! I'm not lying to you!

                    KAUFMAN
          I loved the book.


                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                             7.
CONTINUED:


                    MARGARET
          Oh, Charlie, orchids are the most amazing
          flowers. So complex.

Margaret plops onto the couch next to Kaufman.

                     KAUFMAN
          I know.   They're really great.

                    MARGARET
          You should take this job. Doesn't it
          sound exciting, to immerse yourself in a
          real subject and learn everything about
          it? Blake wrote about seeing heaven in a
          wild flower. And after you learn all
          this stuff, you can teach me!

                    KAUFMAN
              (thrilled but controlled)
          That'd be fun.

                    MARGARET
          God, they're such beautiful flowers.    And
          so sexy. Y'know?
              (whispering)
          Did you know that orchid means --

                       KAUFMAN
          Testicle.     I just read that.

                    MARGARET
              (shrieks with delight)
          Testicle! Can you believe it!

Margaret giggles happily.    Kaufman giggles weirdly.

                    MARGARET (cont'd)
          I swear, it'd be fucking great for
          someone to have the testicles to make
          that book into a movie, man. Instead of
          this bullshit all the time. Something
          not about sex and violence and car chases
          and love stories, people learning
          profound lessons. Jesus, isn't nature
          enough?

EXT. SWAMP - MORNING

Hot, dirty, miserable. Laroche leads the Indians through
waist-high black water. He points out a turtle on a rock.




                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                              8.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE
          Pseudemys floridana. Did you fellas know
          you fellas believe the world rests on the
          back of a turtle? Not you fellas
          specifically. Although, maybe you fellas
          specifically. That I can't speak to.

The Indians ignore him. They trudge. Laroche spots
something else, a dull green root wrapped around a tree. He
stops, circles the tree. His eyes widen in reverent awe.

                        LAROCHE (cont'd)
                        Polyrrhiza Lindenii.
             A ghost.

The Indians come around. Laroche stares at a single
beautiful, glowing white flower hanging from the tree.   He
tenderly caresses the petals. Then, business-like:

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Cut it down, Russell.

Russell pulls out a hacksaw, begins sawing through the tree.

INT. RESTAURANT - MIDDAY

Kaufman still sweats as he talks to Valerie.

                    KAUFMAN
          ...plus I love the idea of learning all
          about orchids. I really admire those
          guys who know everything about ants or
          fungus or whatever. I'd like to be more
          like that. See, I tend to write self-
          involved, self-loathing... even
          masturbatory stuff.
                    VALERIE
          And it's wonderful, by the way.

                    KAUFMAN
          Thanks. That's nice to hear. But I need
          to challenge myself as a writer. I've
          arrived at an age where I want to think
          about the world in a different way.

                    VALERIE
          Adapting someone else's work is certainly
          an opportunity to think differently.




                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                                   9.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          Yes. And I welcome the challenge of
          taking a small subject, like orchids,
          something that would never draw people
          into a theater and making that
          fascinating. I want to show people
          heaven in a wildflower. As Blake wrote.

INT. PET STORE (1972) - DAY

SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI, TWENTY-SIX YEARS EARLIER

A serious ten year old boy walks from cage to aquarium,
studying the inhabitants. He turns to his frumpy mother,
who's been following at a respectful distance.

                    BOY
          Any one at all, ma?

She nods sweetly. The boy returns to his search.        He stops
at a small turtle in an aquarium.

                       BOY (cont'd)
             I want this then.

                    MOTHER
              (hugging him)
          A wonderful choice! And spiritually
          significant! Did you know that Native
          Americans believe the whole world rests
          on the back of a turtle?

                        BOY
             Cool!   I can't wait to tell the guys.

EXT. SWAMP - MORNING

As Laroche supervises, Randy, Russell, and Vinson saw through
tree branches supporting lovely flowering orchids. They
unceremoniously stuff the flowers into bulging pillowcases.

INT. ROMANTIC RESTAURANT - EVENING

Kaufman eats with Margaret.     Margaret raises a glass.

                       MARGARET
             To a fucking awesome assignment, man.

Kaufman, pleased, clicks glasses.     He takes a breath.

                       KAUFMAN
             Hey, I'm going to an orchid show Sunday?
             For research? Maybe you'll come?

                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                               10.
CONTINUED:


                    MARGARET
          Absolutely. I think David, this guy I'm
          seeing, would enjoy it, too. He's a real
          naturalist. Okay if he comes along?

                    KAUFMAN
              (covering heartbreak)
          Yeah, of course. Sure.

                    MARGARET
          He wants to meet you anyway.     All I do is
          tell him how great you are.

                    KAUFMAN
          Oh, thanks. That's nice to hear.

                    MARGARET
          You'll like him. He's so honest and
          smart. It's rare to find someone in this
          town who thinks about things other than
          this fucking business, y'know?

                       KAUFMAN
          Yeah.     That's great.   He sounds great.

                       MARGARET
             Like the other day we were in bed
             discussing Hegel. Hegel! In bed! It
             was fucking amazing. Have you read much?

                       KAUFMAN
             Y'know, a long time ago.   A bit.   Y'know.

                       MARGARET
             Well, anyway, David and I were discussing
             his Philosophy of History and I was...

The entrees arrive.

                    MARGARET (cont'd)
          ... struck by his notion that history is
          a human construct...

Kaufman begins the laborious task of getting through his
plate of food. He can no longer look up at Margaret.

                        KAUFMAN
          Yeah.

                    MARGARET
          ... that nature doesn't exist
          historically, but rather cyclically.
                    (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                           11.
CONTINUED: (2)
                    MARGARET (cont'd)
          So whereas human history spirals forward,
          building upon itself, nature...

INT. BARNES AND NOBLE - DAY

Kaufman pulls a bunch of orchid books off the shelf, carries
them to the register, along with a book on Hegel, which
features an engraving of the philosopher on the cover.
Kaufman waits in line and watches the tattooed female cashier
flirting with the handsome guy ahead of him. He studies
their interaction, the way she looks at him. Her eyes, her
lips. The guy leaves and the cashier waves Kaufman over. As
she rings him up, she expresses no interest in him. He's
hurt and fixates on a sexy flower tattoo on her arm. She
catches him, pulls down her sleeve.

EXT. JANES SCENIC DRIVE - MORNING

Tony waits, sweaty and mosquito bitten.   The radio crackles.

                    RADIO VOICE
          How's that Injun round-up going, Tony?

                    TONY
          Fuck you, Barry, you fuckin'...

Rustling near the parked cars. Tony tenses. Laroche steps
from the swamp with the Indians, who haul the pillowcases.

                    TONY (cont'd)
          We got poachers.
              (into the radio, pleased)
          We got fuckin' poachers, Barry.   Ha!

Tony jumps into the truck and turns it around.

INT. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Orlean types. Her delicate fingers move with a pianist's
grace across the computer keyboard.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          Orchid hunting is a mortal occupation.

EXT. TROPICAL RIVER - DAY

SUBTITLE: ORINOCO RIVER, ONE HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER

An overturned boat and uprooted orchids float on the river.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          The Victorian-era orchid hunter William
          Arnold drowned on a collecting
          expedition.

                                                            12.



EXT. CLIFF - DAY

SUBTITLE: SIERRA LEONE

A man lies at the bottom of a cliff, clutching a flower.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          Schroeder fell to his death.

EXT. FIELD - DAY

SUBTITLE: RIO HACHA

A man lies face down near an unplucked orchid.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          Endres was shot dead in Rio Hacha.

EXT. RIVER - DAY

SUBTITLE: YANGTZE RIVER

An emaciated, limping, wheezing man with a makeshift bandage
wrapped around his head, docks his boat.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          Augustus Margary survived toothache,
          rheumatism, pleurisy, and dysentery...

Someone steps from behind a bush, stabs him, steals his boat.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          ... only to be murdered when he completed
          his mission and traveled beyond Bhamo.

The murderer sails down river.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          Laroche loved orchids but I came to
          believe he loved the difficulty and
          fatality of getting them almost as much
          as he loved the orchids themselves.

EXT. JANES SCENIC DRIVE - MORNING

Tony steps out of his truck.   Laroche smiles warmly.

                    TONY
          Morning. May I ask what you gentlemen
          have in those pillowcases?

                    LAROCHE
          Yes, sir, you absolutely may.

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                                13.
CONTINUED:


Laroche goes back to directing the Indians.    Tony's confused.

                       TONY
             Okay, I'm asking then.

                    LAROCHE
          Oh, Okay then! Let's see...
              (peeking in bags)
          Five kinds of bromeliad, one peperomia,
          nine orchid varieties. About a hundred
          and thirty plants all told, which my
          colleagues have removed from the swamp.

                       TONY
             You're aware that it's illegal to remove
             plants or animals from state owned land?

                       LAROCHE
             And don't forget these plants are all
             endangered, sir. Every one of them.

                       TONY
             Exactly. Well, that's exactly the issue.
             This is a state preserve.

                       LAROCHE
             Yes, sir, it is.
                 (afterthought)
             Oh, and my colleagues are all Seminole
             Indians. Did I mention that? You're
             familiar, I'm sure, with the State of
             Florida v. James E. Billie.
Tony nods, even though he has no idea.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             So you know that even though Seminole
             Chief Billie killed a Florida panther,
             one of, what, forty in the entire world?

Laroche looks to the Indians for confirmation.       They give it.

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          The state couldn't successfully prosecute
          him. Because he's an Indian and it's his
          right. As repugnant as you or I as white
          conservationists might find his actions.

                       TONY
          But --




                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                             14.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    LAROCHE
          Not to mention the failed attempts on
          three separate occasions to prosecute
          Seminoles for poaching palm fronds,
          which, I believe, they use to thatch the
          roofs of their traditional chickee huts.

Laroche again looks to the Indians for confirmation.

                    RUSSELL
          He's right. That's exactly what we use
          them for. Chickee huts.

Tony looks at the Indians.

                     RANDY
          Yeah.

                     VINSON
          Yeah.

                     RUSSELL
          Yeah.

                    TONY
          Yeah, but I don't... I can't let you
          fellas go yet. Just hold on while I...
              (into radio)
          Hey, Barry, can I get some help? Barry?

INT. RENTAL CAR - DAY

We watch Orlean as she drives out of the Miami Airport
parking lot, onto the freeway, past congestion and
billboards. Her mournful face glows beautifully,
dramatically with golden sunlight. She talks to us.

                    ORLEAN
          Nothing in Florida seems hard or
          permanent. The developed places are just
          little clearings in the jungle, but the
          jungle is unstoppably fertile, everything
          is always growing or expanding. At the
          same time, the wilderness disappears
          before your eyes.

Orlean gets quiet.   Her eyes tear.

EXT. SUBURBAN BACKYARD - DAY

SUBTITLE: AKRON, OHIO, THIRTY YEARS EARLIER



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            15.
CONTINUED:


Lush color. A seven year old girl is gleeful as her parents
push her on a swing. She watches from the air as her mother
and father, deeply in love, kiss between pushes.

EXT. BIG SPANISH-STYLE HOUSE - DAY

Kaufman gets out of his car with his books. Two teenage
girls walk by. Kaufman watches as one whispers to the other.
He thinks he hears the word "Fatso." The girls giggle.

INT. EMPTY HOUSE - A COUPLE OF MINUTES LATER

Kaufman passes a hall mirror, regards himself glumly, and
climbs the stairs.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I am fat. I am repulsive.   I cannot bear
          my own reflection.

At the landing Kaufman comes upon Donald, his identical twin
brother, on his back in pajama bottoms, opening a gift box.

                    DONALD
          Did you open your present from mom yet?

                    KAUFMAN
          What's with you?

                     DONALD
          My back.

Kaufman nods vaguely, continues down the hall. Donald pulls
a purple sweater from the box, calls after Kaufman.

                    DONALD (cont'd)
          Hey, Charles, you'll be glad, I have a
          plan to get me out of your house pronto.

                    KAUFMAN
          A job is a plan. Is your plan a job?

                    DONALD
              (big build up)
          I'm gonna be a screenwriter!   Like you!

Kaufman doesn't respond, enters his bedroom.

                    DONALD (cont'd)
          I know you think this is just one of my
          get-rich-quick schemes. But I'm doing it
          right this time. I'm taking a seminar!

                                                            16.



INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Kaufman lies face down on his mattress on the floor.

                    DONALD (O.S.)
          It's only five hundred bucks!

                    KAUFMAN
              (muffled by pillow)
          Screenwriting seminars are bullshit.

Kaufman pulls a copy of Variety, open to a photo of Margaret,
from under his pillow. He gets lost in the picture.

                    DONALD (O.S.)
          In theory I agree with you. But this one
          is highly regarded within the industry.

                    KAUFMAN
          Donald, don't say "industry."

Donald, now in the sweater, appears on all fours in the
doorway. Kaufman puts the paper back under his pillow.

                    DONALD
          I'm sorry, I forgot. Charles, this guy
          knows screenwriting. People from all
          over come to study his method. I'll pay
          you back, man. As soon as I sell --

                    KAUFMAN
          Let me explain something to you.

                    DONALD
          Yeah, okay.

                    KAUFMAN
          Anybody who says he's got "the answer" is
          going to attract desperate people. Be it
          in the world of religion --

                    DONALD
              (indicating his back)
          I just need to lie down while you explain
          this to me. Sorry. I apologize.
              (lies down, stares at ceiling)
          Okay, go ahead. Sorry. Okay. Go.

                    KAUFMAN
          There are no rules to follow, Donald, and
          anybody who says there are, is just --



                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                             17.
CONTINUED:


                    DONALD
          Not rules, principles. McKee writes:
          "A rule says, you must do it this way.   A
          principle says, this works... and has
          through all remembered time."

                    KAUFMAN
          The script I'm starting, it's about
          flowers. No one's ever done a movie
          about flowers before. So, there're no
          guidelines, and that's good because --

                    DONALD
          What about Flowers for Algernon?

                    KAUFMAN
          That's not about flowers.    And it's not a
          movie.

                    DONALD
          Oh, okay, I never saw it.    Go ahead.

                    KAUFMAN
          My point is, those teachers are dangerous
          if your goal is to do something new. And
          a writer should always have that goal.
          Writing is a journey into the unknown.
          It's not building a model airplane.

Donald stares at the ceiling, fuming. Kaufman waits.
Getting no no response, he pulls out his Hegel book and
reads:

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Each being is, because posited, an op-
          posited, a conditional and conditioning,
          the Understanding completes these its
          limitations by positing the opposite...

Kaufman's head is spinning. He puts the book down. Both
brothers stare at the ceiling. Donald finally speaks

                       DONALD
             McKee is a former Fulbright scholar. Are
             you a former Fulbright scholar, Charles?

INT. KITCHEN (1972) - EVENING

The young boy eats with his family. His father wears a
backbrace, his sister is weak and anemic. Only his sweet
mother pays attention as he chatters excitedly.



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             18.
CONTINUED:


                    BOY
          Turtles are of the order Testudine!

                      MOTHER
          Really?    Testudine?

                    BOY
          Yeah. And they're found on every
          continent! Except Antarptica!

                       MOTHER
             Antarctica. Every continent, huh?

                    BOY
          Uh-huh. The turtle shell has remained
          unchanged for two hundred million years!
          And there's all different kinds, Pelusio
          gabonensis, Phyrnops rufipes, Chitra
          indica, Dermochelys coriacea coriacea...
EXT. SWAMP - LATE MORNING

Ranger, sheriff, and state police cars are parked near the
van and Ford. Lots of sweating, uniformed people. The
pillowcases have been emptied, the plants lie on black
plastic sheets. A guy sprinkles water on them. Laroche
enthusiastically helps Ranger Mike Owen catalogue the
flowers. The Indians lean against their car, bored and
smoking. Nirvana seeps tinnily out the car window.

                    LAROCHE
          ... and what we have here, my friend, is
          ... thirteen Encyclia Cochleata... four
          Encyclia Tampensis --
                    MIKE OWEN
          I'm sorry, Encyclia what?

                    LAROCHE
              (pointing to each)
          Coch-le-ata. Tem-pen-sis.
              (checks Owen's spelling)
          Okay, let's see, twenty-two Epidendrum
          Nocturnum. A very good haul. Two
          Catopsi Floribunda. Three Polyrrhiza
          Lindenii, the ghost orchid. What I
          really came for. These sweeties grow
          nowhere in the U.S. except in your swamp.

                    MIKE OWEN
          That true? Boy, you really know your
          plants, Mr. Laroche.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             19.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE
          Yeah. I do. I'm one of the world's
          foremost experts. But that'll all be
          revealed at the hearing.

INT. EMPTY DINING ROOM - DAY

Kaufman sits at a card table, picking at a salad and reading
an orchid book. Donald lies on the floor, chomping a hoagie
and reading a copy of Story by Robert McKee.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          The Orchidaceae is a large, ancient
          family of perennial plants with...

Kaufman, bored, looks over at Donald, whose cheeks are
stuffed with food.

                    DONALD (V.O.)
          The most memorable, fascinating
          characters tend to have not only a
          conscious but an unconscious desire.
          Although these characters are unaware of
          their subconscious need...

                    KAUFMAN
          Maybe you should watch what you eat,
          Donald. Did you ever consider maybe
          you're a bit fat? Does it ever occur to
          you, you kind of represent me in the
          world? That people look at you and
          think, he's Charlie's twin, therefore
          that's what Charlie must look like?

                    DONALD
          By the way, mom's paying for the seminar.

                    KAUFMAN
          Did you even hear what I said?

                    DONALD
          Yeah. Anyway. I pitched mom my
          screenplay --

                    KAUFMAN
          Jesus, don't say "pitch."

                    DONALD
          Sorry. Anyway, she loved my... telling
          of my story to her. She said it's like
          "Silence of the Lambs" meets "Psycho."



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              20.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          Hey, maybe you and mom could collaborate.
          I hear she's really good with structure.

                    DONALD
          You think you're so superior, Charles.
          Well, I'm really gonna write this. And
          you'll see. And, and... you suck, okay?

The two glare at each other.   They go back to their books.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Florida is a landscape of transition...

                    DONALD (V.O.)
          Do not proliferate characters; do not
          multiply locations. Rather than
          hopscotching through time, space, and
          people, discipline yourself to a
          reasonably contained cast and world...

INT. RENTAL CAR - DAY

Orlean drives on State Road 29, past prefab housing, into
swampland. She talks to us.

                    ORLEAN
          Florida is a landscape of transition and
          mutation, a hybrid of unruliness and
          orderliness, nature and artifice.

She brushes a wisp of hair from her face and tucks it behind
her small, pretty ear. We linger on the ear, which grows
pink with sunlight. Orlean catches us and smiles shyly.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - DAY

Kaufman traces a stubby, nail-bitten finger along State Road
29 along a Florida road map. He turns to his typewriter, and
types in a clumsy hunt-and-peck style.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          We open on State Road 29. A lonely
          stretch of road cutting through untamed
          swampland. Suddenly a beat-up white van
          barrels around a curve. It's driver: a
          skinny man with no front teeth...

INT. COURT ROOM - DAY

The proceedings are in progress.   Orlean hurries in, sits in
the back.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             21.
CONTINUED:

Laroche, in a Miami Hurricanes cap, wrap-around Mylar
sunglasses, and a Hawaiian shirt, is on the stand. Alan
Lerner, the tribe's lawyer, questions him.

                    LERNER
          Finally, Mr. Laroche, what is your
          experience in the area of horticulture?

                    LAROCHE
          Okay, I've been a professional
          horticulturist for twelve years. I've
          owned a plant nursery of my own which was
          destroyed by the hurricane. I'm a
          professional plant lecturer. I've given
          at least sixty lectures on the
          cultivation of plants. I'm a published
          author, both in magazine and book form.
          I have extensive experience with orchids,
          and the asexual micropropagation of
          orchids under aseptic cultures.   This is
          laboratory work, not at all like your
          nursery work.
              (grins)
          I'm probably the smartest person I know.

                       LERNER
          Thank you.

                    LAROCHE
          You're very welcome.

INT. BARNES AND NOBLE - DAY

As she rings up his books, Kaufman admires the cashier's
flower tattoo. She catches him and smiles with red, wet,
pierced lips. She unbuttons her blouse and shows him a breast
with a heart tattoo. A sweet heartbeat turns to knocking.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman, in bed masturbating, looks up at the closed door.

                       KAUFMAN
          What?!

The door opens.    Donald stands there for a moment in shadows.

                    DONALD
          Look, you wanna hear my pitch, or what?

                      KAUFMAN
          Go away.    God damn it.



                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                               22.
CONTINUED:


                     DONALD
              (lost)
          Y'know, I'm just trying to do something.

Kaufman squints at his brother, sits up, waits.

                    DONALD (CONT'D)
          Hey, thanks a lot, man. Cool.
              (flicks on light, then in pitch
               mode:)
          Okay, there's this serial killer, right --

Kaufman groans, lies down, pulls the covers over his face.

                    DONALD (CONT'D)
          No, wait. See, he's being hunted by a
          cop. And he's taunting the cop, right?
          Sending clues who his next victim is.
          He's already holding her hostage in his
          creepy basement. So the cop gets
          obsessed with figuring out her identity,
          and in the process he falls in love with
          her. Even though he's never even met
          her. She becomes, like, the
          unattainable, like the Holy Grail.

                       KAUFMAN
                 (through a blanket)
             It's a little obvious, don't you think?

                    DONALD
          Okay, but there's a twist. See, we find
          out the killer suffers from multiple
          personality disorder. Okay? See, he's
          really also the cop and the girl. All of
          them. It's all him! Isn't that crazy?

Donald waits, proud.    Kaufman pulls off the covers.

                    KAUFMAN
          Look, the only idea more overused than
          serial killers, is multiple personality.
          On top of that you explore the notion
          that cop and criminal are really two
          aspects of the same person. See every
          cop movie ever made for other examples of
          this.

                    DONALD
          Mom called it psychologically taut.




                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                             23.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    KAUFMAN
          The other thing is, there's no way to
          write this. Did you consider that? I
          mean, how exactly would you show a
          character holding himself hostage?

                    DONALD
          Trick photography?

                    KAUFMAN
          Okay, that's not what I'm asking. What
          I'm asking is in the reality of this
          movie, if there's only one character,
          right?... Okay? How could you... What
          exactly would the scene... How...

Donald waits blankly.   Kaufman gives up, gets out of bed,
dresses.

                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          I agree with mom. Very taut. Sybil
          meets.. I dunno, something very taut.

Kaufman exits.

EXT. COURTHOUSE - DAY

Orlean exits the courthouse and watches Laroche in a huddle
with Lerner, Vinson, and Buster Baxley, vice-president of the
tribe's business operations. They're all smoking intently.

                    LAROCHE
          They're gonna fucking crucify me.

                    BAXLEY
          I'll go into the Fakahatchee with a
          chainsaw. I swear to God.

                    LERNER
          Buster, for crying out loud, I reminded
          her the Indians used to own Fakahatchee.
          Look, we'll deal with all this at trial.

Buster waves a dismissive hand at Lerner, walks away. Vinson
shrugs, stubs his cigarette, follows Buster. Lerner and
Laroche stand there a moment. Lerner walks off. Laroche
cracks his neck. A charmingly shy Orlean approaches.

                    ORLEAN
          Mr. Laroche?

Orlean smiles, apologetic for the intrusion.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             24.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN (CONT'D)
          My name's Susan Orlean, I'm a writer for
          the New Yorker. It's a maga --

                    LAROCHE
          I'm familiar with the New Yorker. The
          New Yorker, yes, the New Yorker. Right?
                    ORLEAN
          Right. So I was interested in doing a
          piece about your situation down here.

Laroche scowls, smokes furiously, then, a test:

                    LAROCHE
          Yeah? Put this in: I don't care what
          goes on here. I'm right, and I'll take
          this all the way to the Supreme Court.
          That judge can screw herself.

Orlean scribbles on her pad. Laroche twists his head to see
that she's writing "Judge can screw herself."

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          That for real would go in?

Orlean nods.   Laroche smiles his toothless smile at Orlean.

EXT. FIELD - MORNING

MUSIC: lush, profound orchestral piece.

A glorious orange, large-petalled orchid blooms in dramatic
time-lapse. We slowly, lovingly circle the flower.

                    SENSUOUS FEMALE NARRATOR
          The Orchidaceae is a large, ancient
          family of perennial plants with one
          fertile stamen and a three petalled
          flower. In most orchid species, one petal
          is enlarged into a lip and is the most
          conspicuous part of the flower.

INT. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - DAY

Kaufman, in a booth, reads his orchid book, takes notes.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          The Orchidaceae is a large, ancient...

He's bored, looks up, watches a waitress with glorious,
orange hair, pouty lips, soulful eyes, and a voluptuous form
turning slowly around, scanning her station.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              25.
CONTINUED:

She sees Kaufman, approaches, and smiles warmly down at him.
Her badge reads: Alice, Arcadia, CA. Kaufman sweats.

                    ALICE
          So what looks good today?

                    KAUFMAN
          Um. Hi. Thank you. The key lime pie,
          please. A small slice. I'm watching
          my... And a coffee, please. Skim milk.

                    ALICE
              (sees book)
          Orchids! I absolutely love orchids.

He goes blank.

                     KAUFMAN
          Yes.   They're really great.

He flinches at his response.    A small awkward pause.

                    ALICE
          So, I'll be right back with your pie.

She smiles warmly again and leaves.    Kaufman is humiliated.

EXT. ORCHID SHOW - DAY

Alice the waitress and Kaufman walk hand-in-hand, inspecting
sexy orchids together. She smiles warmly at him.

                    ALICE
              (I love you)
          I absolutely love orchids.

INT. EMPTY ROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman finishes jerking off.   He lies lonely in the dark.

INT. SUBURBAN BACKYARD - EVENING

Dark and muted. The seven year old girl is pushed on the
swing by her father. From the air she sees her mother, tiny
and lost, sitting across the yard smoking.

EXT. HOTEL PARKING LOT - MORNING

Orlean leans against a car and smokes. A tiny, lost figure.
There's a honk. Orlean snaps out of her reverie to see
Laroche screeching to a stop in his banged-up van.




                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                              26.
CONTINUED:


                       ORLEAN
                 (to camera)
             A few days after the hearing, Laroche
             took me to an orchid show in Miami.

She opens the passenger door.

                        ORLEAN (cont'd)
             Hi.   Thanks for picking --

                       LAROCHE
             I want you to know this van is a piece of
             shit. When I hit the jackpot, I'll buy
             myself an awesome car, maybe an Aurora.

Orlean nods, climbs in, and tries to rearrage some of the
junk on the front seat so she'll have a place to sit.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             Sit on top of that. You won't hurt it.

She situates herself on the seat.     Laroche lurches off.

INT. VAN - DAY

Laroche drives manically. Orlean watches the road and holds
one hand against the dashboard.

                       LAROCHE
             The thing you gotta know is my whole life
             is looking for a goddamn profitable
             plant. And that's the ghost.

                       ORLEAN
             Why the ghost orchid?

                       LAROCHE
             The sucker's rare. Collectors covet what
             is not available. I'm the only one in
             the world who knows how to cultivate it.

He looks at her and smiles. Orlean smiles back and
indicates, with a small jerk of the head, that he might want
to watch the road. He doesn't take the hint.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             The plan was, get the Indians to pull it
             from the swamp. I researched it. As
             long as I don't touch the plants, Florida
             can't touch us.   Then I'd clone hundreds
             of them babies in my lab, sell 'em, and
             make the Seminoles a shitload of change.


                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                                27.
CONTINUED:


In handwriting made jerky by the bouncing van, Orlean writes
"shitload of change" on her notepad.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             And I stop future poaching by making the
             flowers readily available in stores.
             Then I give a big speech at the trial
             about how the legislature should get rid
             of loopholes smart people like me can
             find. I'm a hero. The flowers are
             saved. Laroche and nature win.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Old black and white footage, taken from up high, of two 19th
century men leading a horse drawn cart full of poached
orchids.

                       ORLEAN (V.O.)
             Men from Florida dominated the orchid
             hunting scene. Hunters in the
             Fakahatchee hauled out thousands of
             orchids in horse-drawn flatbed carts.

The camera swoops down, close to the men. As it does, the
image transforms. It turns to color, the men become
mannequins, the horse becomes papier-mache: it's a display.
A live man in modern work clothes is arranging actual orchids
in the cardboard cart.

INT. CAR - DAY

Kaufman drives slowly past Barnes and Noble, squints in the
window, sees the tattooed cashier. He passes Burger King,
sees a pretty employee, the same at Starbucks. Glassed-in
women on display, different types, different attitudes.
Kaufman stops in front of the California Pizza Kitchen.
Alice and her orange hair glow through the window. He
hesitates, then drives off.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - MORNING

Kaufman sits on the floor and types.

                       KAUFMAN (V.O.)
             A beautiful orange orchid blooms in time-
             lapse --

Donald enters. Kaufman ignores him, continues typing.
Donald dawdles, picks up The Orchid Thief, flips through it.




                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                         28.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          The camera circles it, revealing how
          lovely and perfect and sweet and inviting
          and delicate and...

                    DONALD
          Cool.

                    KAUFMAN
          What do you want, Donald?

                    DONALD
          Nothing. I just read about that Swamp
          Ape that supposedly lives in the swamp?
          Like bigfoot? You should put that in
          your script, like, killing people or
          something. That'd be very, very cool.

                    KAUFMAN
          Why are you in here now?

                    DONALD
          Nothing, I was just... Oh, one thing, I
          need a cool way to kill people. Don't
          worry! For my script! Ha ha!

Kaufman stares at Donald, rubs his eyes, then:

                    KAUFMAN
          Um, okay, killer's a literature professor
          who cuts off little chunks of his
          victims' bodies until they die. He'd be
          known in the tabloids as "The
          Deconstructionist."

                    DONALD
          That's kinda good.   I like that.

                    KAUFMAN
          See, I was kidding, Donald.

                    DONALD
          Oh, okay. Sorry. You got me! Heh-heh.
          Do you mind if I use it, though?

INT. BOY'S BEDROOM (1972) - NIGHT

There are now many turtles in aquariums. Many turtle books
and posters. The boy, in a turtle T-shirt, looks out the
window into the darkness. His eyes are troubled.

                                                            29.



INT. LIVING ROOM (1972) - CONTINUOUS

The boy comes downstairs. His father, in his backbrace,
watches TV; his sister lies on the couch, semi-conscious,
more pale than before. His mother pats the girl's head with
a damp cloth. There's a little Hindu altar with candles.

                    MOTHER
              (praying softly)
          For certain is death for the born/And
          certain is birth for the dead/Therefore
          over the inevitable/Thou shouldst not
          grieve. Sweet, sweet Diane.

The boy surveys the sad scene.    His mother looks up, smiles.

                    MOTHER (CONT'D)
          A slice of pie for my turtle expert?

The boy beams with pride, then gets solemn.

                    BOY
          Mom, there's something I feel I have to
          do. I don't know how to do this, but I
          feel in my stomach that I have to.

                    MOTHER
          What do you have to do, honey?

                     BOY
          Collect one of every turtle in the world.
              (beat)
          It's a long list, ma. Cuora
          galbinifrons, Graptemys versa, Callagur
          borneoensis, all the Galapagos species,
          people think there's only one, but that's
          hardly the case. Cycloderma frenatum,
          Cuora pani...
              (sighs)
          I don't think my life is worth living if
          I can't do this.

The boy and his mother look at each other.

                    MOTHER
          Well, we'd better get started, huh, baby?

The boy nods his head solemnly.

INT. VAN - DAY

Laroche drives, solemnly nodding his head. Orlean studies
him for a moment, her sad eyes wet and glistening.

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                              30.
CONTINUED:


                       ORLEAN
             Wow, that's some story. So how many
             turtles did you end up collecting?

                       LAROCHE
                 (matter-of-fact)
             Oh, I lost interest right after that.

                       ORLEAN
             Oh.

                       LAROCHE
             I dropped turtles when I fell in love
             with Ice Age fossils. Learned everything
             about them. Collected the shit out of
             'em. Fossils were the only thing made
             any sense to me in this fucking world.
             Y'know?

They drive in silence.    Orlean watches a flying heron.

                       LAROCHE (CONT'D)
             Then fossils were over when I found
             lapidary, which I just adored.

                       ORLEAN
             Okay, now what is lap --

                       LAROCHE
             Ditched lapidary for resilvering old
             mirrors. Did that with my mom for a
             while. We had the largest collection of
             19th Century Dutch mirrors on the planet.
             Perhaps you read about us. Mirror World
             October '88? I have a copy somewhere...

Laroche fishes through junk as he drives.

                       ORLEAN
             So, did you ever miss the turtles? The
             only thing that made you ten year old
             life worth living?

                       LAROCHE
             I'll tell you a story. I once fell
             deeply, profoundly in love with tropical
             fish. I had sixty goddamn fish tanks in
             my house. I'd skin-dive to find just the
             right ones. Anisotremus virginicus,
             Holacanthus ciliaris, Chaetodon
             capistratus. You name it. Then one day
             I say, fuck fish. I renounce fish.
                       (MORE)

                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                               31.
CONTINUED: (2)
                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          I vow to never set foot in the ocean
          again, that's how much fuck fish. That
          was seventeen years ago and I have never
          since stuck so much as a toe into that
          ocean. And I love the ocean!

                       ORLEAN
              (beat)
          But why?

                    LAROCHE
              (shrugs)
          Done with fish.

INT. THERAPIST'S OFFICE - DAY

Kaufman sits in silence across from his female therapist.

                       THERAPIST
          So --

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm still obsessed with that girl.

                    THERAPIST
          The Burger King girl? Dimples and sparkly
          eyes?

                    KAUFMAN
          California Pizza Kitchen.

                      THERAPIST
          Oh.    Red hair and nice?   Likes orchids?

                    KAUFMAN
          Yeah. She's really nice. I feel pretty
          certain she likes me maybe.

                    THERAPIST
          So do you think you'll talk to this one?

INT. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - DAY

Kaufman, hair combed, sits nervously in a booth, watching
Alice. He tenses as she comes up to him. She smiles warmly.

                       KAUFMAN
          Hi!

                      ALICE
          Hey!    Some key lime pie for ya today?




                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                                 32.
CONTINUED:


                      KAUFMAN
                (thrilled she remembered)
            Okay, yeah! That sounds great!     Yeah!

                      ALICE
            I'll pick you out an extra large piece.
            Preferred customer.

She winks at him.   He's so in love.

                         KAUFMAN
            Thank you.     That's really sweet of you.

                      ALICE
            Still reading about orchids, I hope.

                      KAUFMAN
            Yes, I am, in fact!    Beautiful flowers.

                      ALICE
            A friend of mine has a pretty little pink
            one, grows right on a tree branch.

                      KAUFMAN
            That's what's called an epiphyte.

                      ALICE
                (pointing at him excitedly)
            Right! Boy, you know your stuff, huh?

                      KAUFMAN
            Not really. I'm just learning.
            Epiphytes grow on trees, but they're not
            parasites. They get all their
            nourishment from the air and rain.

                      ALICE
            Well, I'm impressed.    That's great.

Awkward pause.

                      KAUFMAN
            There are more than thirty thousand kinds
            of orchids in the world.

                      ALICE
            Wow, that's a lot, huh? Okay, then, so
            I'll be right back with a nice big slice
            of key lime pie for my orchid expert.

He beams.    She smiles and turns to leave.    Kaufman blurts:



                                                         (CONTINUED)

                                                                 33.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    KAUFMAN
          But, so, anyway, I was also wondering...

Alice turns back, still smiling.

                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          I'm going up to this orchid show on
          Saturday in Santa Barbara and I --

Alice's smile slips away.    Her warmth dissipates.

                    ALICE
          Oh, um, well --

                       KAUFMAN
          I'm sorry.     I apologize.   I'm sorry.

                    ALICE
              (nodding)
          So I'll be right back with your pie then.

He nods, watches Alice walk away and say something to another
waitress. The other waitress looks over at him. He sweats.

                       KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I am fat.     I am old. I am repulsive.

The other waitress brings his pie.      He smiles a thank you.

INT. NEW YORK APARTMENT - MORNING

Orlean sits at her desk and talks to us.

                    ORLEAN
          There are more than thirty thousand known
          orchid species. One species looks like a
          German shepherd...

EXT. SANTA BARBARA ORCHID SHOW - DAY

Kaufman walks alone among the crowd of orchid enthusiasts,
past a Santa Barbara Orchid Society sign. He tries to study
the flowers. They are dull. He forces himself to look.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          ... one looks like an onion, one looks
          like an octopus. One looks...

Kaufman finds his attention drifting from orchids to women:
all different shapes, colors, personalities, some in subtle
clothing, some in garish clothing, all glowing.



                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                             34.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          ... like a school teacher, one looks like
          a gymnast, one looks like a Midwestern
          beauty queen, one looks like a New York
          intellectual with whom you'd do the
          Sunday Times crossword puzzle in bed.
          One looks like that girl in high school
          with creamy skin. One has eyes that
          dance. One has eyes that contain the
          sadness of the world.

He is sick with adoration for the women, who pay him no mind.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          Nothing in science can account for the
          way some people feel about orchids.
          Those love them, love them madly.

One by one the women turn to the men they're with: a whisper
in the ear, a shared look, an arm slipped through an arm.
Kaufman is alone in this sea of people and flowers.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Teenaged Laroche and his mother tromp through the swamp. He
carries a camera on a tripod. They spot a beautiful flower.
Laroche is in awe.

                       TEENAGED LAROCHE
             Encyclia tempensis. The butterfly.
Laroche sets up the tripod, focuses on the flower.    His
mother almost cries at the flower's beauty.

                    MOTHER
          "You will find something more in woods
          than in books. Trees and stones will
          teach you that which you can never learn
          from masters." Saint Bernard said that.

                    TEENAGED LAROCHE
          That's pretty, ma.

                    MOTHER
          Diane would've loved this flower, Johnny.

                    TEENAGED LAROCHE
          Maybe somehow she can see it.    Y'know?

                     MOTHER
              (beat)
          So... after this one how many, honey?


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              35.
CONTINUED:


Laroche snaps the photo, makes a check in his notebook.

                    TEENAGED LAROCHE
          Only one hundred and seventeen more.

                    MOTHER
          And you have to have a photo of every
          single type of orchid in Florida?

                    TEENAGED LAROCHE
          I have to, ma. You know that.

She smiles at him, rubs his neck.

INT. THERAPIST'S OFFICE - DAY

Kaufman talks to the therapist.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm successful, right? I mean, I could
          say to a woman, I'm a screenwriter and
          she'd look at me differently. I could
          get laid. But I want someone to like me.
          For me. Y'know?    The way I like them.
          The way I'd do anything for that woman
          walking down the street. A million women
          walking down the street. I don't need to
          know what their jobs are. No one will
          ever love me like that. Like I love
          almost every woman I see.

Kaufman glances down at his therapist's breasts. He does it
fast and unintentionally. He quickly shifts back to her
face. His therapist wraps her shawl around her.

INT. SHOW HALL - DAY

Crowded with orchid lovers. Noisy chatter and calliope
music. Elaborate displays include orchids on a ferris wheel,
plastic clowns, and a booth that looks like a circus big top.

                    LAROCHE
          Once you get the sickness, it takes over
          your life. I started out just
          photographing 'em. Now look at me.
              (dramatic pause)
          It'll happen to you. You'll see.

                    ORLEAN
          I don't think so.     I'm not prone to --

Laroche runs over to a flower.


                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                              36.
CONTINUED:


                     LAROCHE
           Angraecum sesquipedale! Beauty! God!
           Darwin wrote about this one. Charles
           Darwin? Evolution guy? Hello?

                     ORLEAN
               (annoyed)
           I know who Darwin is.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

A depressed Kaufman fishes on his floor through an ever
increasing pile of books: books about turtles, mirror
resilvering, tropical fish, Hegel, etc. He picks up The
Portable Darwin. The cover features a daguerreotype of
Darwin. Kaufman paces and reads.

INT. BOOK-LINED STUDY - NIGHT

SUBTITLE: ENGLAND, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE YEARS EARLIER

Sepia.   A sickly Darwin writes at his desk.

                     DARWIN (V.O.)
           Therefore I should infer from analogy
           that probably all the organic beings
           which have ever lived on this earth have
           descended from some one primordial form,
           into which life was first breathed.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman looks off into space, thinking. Silence. Suddenly,
he grabs his mini-recorder and paces like a caged animal.

                     KAUFMAN
           Okay, opening of movie. Four billion
           years ago. Life has not begun. Endless,
           barren terrain. Silence. Silence.

EXT. SHOW HALL - DAY

Blasting music.   Crowds.   Laroche shows the flower to Orlean.

                     LAROCHE
           See that nectary all the way down there?
           Darwin hypothesized a moth with a nose
           twelve inches long to pollinate it.
           Everyone thought he was a loon. Then,
           sure enough, they found this moth with a
           twelve inch proboscis -- proboscis means
           nose, by the way -- and --


                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                              37.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN
          I know what proboscis means.

                    LAROCHE
          Every one of these flowers has a specific
          relationship with the insect that
          pollinates it. There's an orchid that
          looks exactly like this particular
          insect. So the bug humps the flower and
          gets covered with its pollen. Thusly...

Laroche mimes humping.

                      ORLEAN
          I get it.

                    LAROCHE
          That's called pseudo-copulation. These
          flowers are smart! You gotta fall in
          love with them. Once you learn anything
          about orchids, you'll devote your life to
          learning everything about them.

Orlean looks around: people sniffing flowers, feeling petals,
staring deep into nectaries. People jabber passionately,
people buy plants, people carry boxes of purchased plants.
Orlean looks deeply into various flowers, at a dizzying array
of colors and shapes, but remains detached.

INT. APARTMENT - EARLY EVENING

Orlean stares at photos of orchids on her bulletin board.
She can't find a way in. She looks over at her husband
reading. He smiles at her. She smiles back, but there's a
terrible distance between them. She looks at us sadly.

                    ORLEAN
          I wanted to want something as much as
          people wanted these plants but it isn't
          part of my constitution.

Orlean stares out the window at the empty street below.   A
plastic bag dips and rises in the breeze. She inhales.

                    ORLEAN (cont'd)
          I suppose I do have one unembarrassed
          passion.
              (beat, looks back at us)
          I want to know how it feels to care about
          something passionately.

                                                            38.



EXT. SUBURBAN BACKYARD - NIGHT

The seven year old girl swings sadly by herself. From high
up she sees her mother in a window at one end of the house,
her father in a window at the other end. Both stare blankly
in opposite directions. The swing completes it's arc and the
girl descends, losing sight of her parents.

INT. LARGE EMPTY LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman types furiously.   He's a sweaty mess.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          ... then, after the entire history of
          life on the planet, in the last seconds
          of the montage, we see the whole of human
          history: tool-making, hunting, farming,
          war, lust, religion, self-consciousness.
          Yearning. Then, bam! cut to Susan Orlean
          writing a book about orchids. And the
          story begins. It's perfect! It's
          circular! It's everything!

He reads back what he's written.

                    KAUFMAN (CONT'D)
          I'm an idiot. I'm fat. I hate my--

The front door bursts open and Donald charges in.

                    DONALD
          McKee is a genius! And hilarious! He
          just comes up with these great jokes, and
          everyone laughs! But he's serious, too.
          You'd love him. He's all for
          originality, just like you! But he says,
          we have to realize we all write in a
          genre, so we must find originality within
          that genre. See, it turns out there
          hasn't been a new genre since Fellini
          invented the mockumentary!

                    KAUFMAN
              (sadly, quietly)
          You and I share the same DNA. Is there
          anything more lonely than that?

INT. ORLEAN'S KITCHEN - EVENING

Orlean eats a silent dinner with her husband.

                    HUSBAND
          You want to do something tonight?

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                            39.
CONTINUED:


                     ORLEAN
           I should work. I've got stuff...

He nods.   She smiles, picks up her dish, puts it in the sink.

INT. ORLEAN'S STUDY - EVENING

Orlean looks at the photo of Laroche, sits sadly for a
moment, then types.

                     ORLEAN (V.O.)
           Laroche is an optimist. That is, he sees
           a profitable outcome in every situation.
           When he was a young man he worked in
           construction.

EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE - DAY

SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI, TEN YEARS EARLIER

A younger Laroche, in a hard hat, walks atop a half-built
house. He spots a flower in a backyard across the street.

                       LAROCHE
                 (pleased with himself)
             Asclepiadaceae. From thirty yards.   Yes.

He loses his footing, falls two storeys, lands on his back.

INT. DINER - DAY

Laroche talks.    Orlean takes notes.

                     LAROCHE
               (laughing)
           ... I broke my back. Exactly how my dad
           did. Isn't that a psycho coincidence?
               (far away)
           Y'know, the way I see it, we're a family
           of ailments and pain.
               (suddenly excited.)
           But, anyway, it was a godsend.

Laroche scarfs his pie.    Orlean watches him.

                      ORLEAN (V.O.)
           Laroche once spilled toxic pesticide into
           a cut on his hand. It resulted in
           permanent heart and liver damage. Most
           people would consider this a terrible
           accident. Laroche considered it a
           success...

                                                             40.



INT. SUBURBAN SUN ROOM - DAY

A prim woman reads a magazine article by Laroche entitled,
"Would You Die For Your Plants." There's a smiling photo of
a frail, emaciated Laroche next to his byline.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          ... because he sold an article about it.

INT. DINER - DAY

Laroche talks, mouth full of pie.    Orlean takes notes.

                    LAROCHE
          I consider the broken back -- in three
          places, by the way. I have x-rays --
              (fishes through bag)
          -- a stroke of goddamn luck. I got
          disability, married the sweetest woman in
          the world. And me and my lovely new wife
          -- my now ex-wife, the bitch -- got to
          open our nursery.

EXT. NURSERY - DAY

Laroche and his wife, in wedding clothes, stand outside their
nursery The Bromeliad Tree posing for an auto-timed photo.
Laroche wears a cumbersome back brace. The camera flashes.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman types tentatively. Off-screen we hear Donald's
enthusiastic typing and giggling.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Movie opens with Susan Orlean typing.
              (refers to Orchid Thief)
          "John Laroche is a tall guy, skinny as a
          stick...
              (stops, flips through book)
          Movie opens with a young boy picking out
          his first pet...
              (stops, flips through book)
          Movie opens with...

Kaufman stops, scratches his head.    His hand is covered with
loose hairs. He whines.

INT. DINER - DAY

Laroche talks to Orlean.



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              41.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE
          People started coming out of the
          woodwork, to ask me stuff, to admire my
          plants, to admire me.

INT. THE BROMELIAD TREE - DAY

Lots of lonely-looking customers admiring orchids. Laroche
is in the midst of them, happily chatting with whomever
approaches him. One guy pulls Laroche aside.

                       CUSTOMER #1
             John, what is this? It's so beautiful.

                    LAROCHE
          Catasetum tenebrosum. From Peru. It's
          neat 'cause its dimorphic, which means...

Customer #2 enters with a creepy, dark flowered orchid.

                    CUSTOMER #2
          Johnny baby!

                    LAROCHE
          Henry! Look at that Dracula vampira!
          It's gorgeous, man.

Other customers gather around.

                    CUSTOMER #2
          Take me in to the Fakahatchee. Show me a
          ghost in bloom, and it's yours.

                       LAROCHE
          Cool.

                    CUSTOMER #3
          Mr. Laroche, would you be able to --

Laroche picks up a ringing phone. Customer #3 continues to
try and get his attention while he talks.

                    LAROCHE
          Bromeliad Tree. Hey, Dora! Good, good.
          Well, sure, you gotta watch the
          temperature. Don't want an odontoglossum
          above seventy-five. Uh-huh, that should
          be fine. Yeah, damp it down. Oh, I'm
          doing well. She's fine, too. Sure...

INT. VAN - NIGHT

Laroche drives.    Orlean looks out at the dark night.

                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                                42.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE
          I believe some folks'd call me up to talk
          and just talk because they were lonely.

Orlean looks at him.     After a long silence, Laroche muses:

                     LAROCHE (cont'd)
          You know why I love plants? Because
          they're so mutable, so adaptable.
          Adaptation is such a profound process.
              (beat)
          Adaptation means you figure out how to
          survive in the world. People aren't too
          good at that sometimes.

INT. AGENT'S OFFICE - DAY

Kaufman sits with his agent Jerry in a glass-walled office.

                       KAUFMAN
             I don't know how to adapt this. I
             should've just stuck with my own stuff.
             I don't know why I thought I could --

                        JERRY
             See her?   I fucked her up the ass.

Jerry waves at a passing beauty. She waves back, keeps
walking. Kaufman follows the girl's ass with his eyes.

                       JERRY
             Just kidding. Hey, maybe I can help.
             What's the problem, buddy?

Kaufman looks at Jerry.     Will he accept help from an agent?

                       KAUFMAN
             It's about flowers.

                       JERRY
             It's not only about flowers. It's got
             that crazy plant nut guy. He's funny,
             right?

Kaufman pulls out a folded newspaper clipping, reads:

                       KAUFMAN
             "There is not nearly enough of him to
             fill a book," blah blah blah, so Orlean
             "digresses in long passes" blah blah blah
             "no narrative really unites these
             passages." Blah blah blah blah blah.
                 (looking up defiantly)
                       (MORE)
                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                          43.
CONTINUED:
                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          New York Times Book Review. I can't
          structure this. It's that sprawling New
          Yorker shit.

Jerry gets distracted by another sexy woman walking by.

                     JERRY
          Oh man.   I'd fuck her up the ass.

                    KAUFMAN
          There's no story. The book has no story.

                    JERRY
          So make one up. The book's a jumping off
          point. No one in town can make up a
          crazy story like you. You're the king.

                    KAUFMAN
          I didn't want to do that this time. It's
          someone else's material. I have a
          responsibility... Anyway, I wanted to
          grow as a writer, do something profound
          and simple. Show people how amazing
          flowers are.

                    JERRY
          Are they amazing?

                    KAUFMAN
          I don't know. I think they are.

                    JERRY
          Look, what I tell a lot of guys is pick
          another film and use it as a model. I
          always thought this one could be like
          Apocalypse Now. The journalist spends
          the whole movie searching for the crazy
          plant nut guy -- what's his name?

                    KAUFMAN
          John Laroche.

                    JERRY
          She has to travel deep into the darkest
          swamps to find the mysterious "Laroche."

                    KAUFMAN
          I need you to get me out of this.

                    JERRY
          Charlie, at the end of the day, I think
          it would be a terrible career move.

                                                          44.



MONTAGE

Jumble of images: Laroche talking, flowers, Indians, Orlean,
the trial. The rapid fire click-click of typing.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Okay, okay, we open with Laroche. He's
          funny. Okay, he says, okay, he says, I
          love to mutate plants, he says, mutation
          is fun... Okay, we show flowers and,
          okay, we have to have the court case.
          Okay we show Laroche, okay, he says, I
          was mutated as baby, that's why I'm so
          smart...that's funny. Okay we open at
          the beginning of time...no, okay, we open
          with Laroche driving into the swamp...

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman awakes with a start. Enthusiastic off-screen typing.
Kaufman peers through the darkness at the books, papers
coffee cups, and dirty plates all around.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Black and white. It's dark, tangled with foliage, and
foreboding. Two pioneers slog waist-high through the water.
Alligators regard them menacingly.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          The pioneer-adventurers in Florida had to
          travel inward, into a place as dark and
          dense as steel wool. They had to
          confront what a dark, dense, overabundant
          place might have hidden in it.

The scene turns into color. The men turn into mannequins.
The floor is covered with black cellophane representing swamp
water. The swamp turns to cardboard, with real orchids
hanging from the trees. A guy carrying some orchids walks on
top of the cellophane, past the mannequins.

INT. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

The room is dark, lit only by the light of the TV Laroche's
father watches. Laroche and Orlean sit on the couch.

                    LAROCHE
          The nursery was going well, but sometimes
          bad things happen. Darkness descends.




                                                  (CONTINUED)

                                                             45.
CONTINUED:


Laroche glances at his father, who just stares at the TV. On
the TV set are two framed photos: one of Laroche's sister and
one of Laroche's mother.

INT. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM - DAY

SUBTITLE: NORTH MIAMI, NINE YEARS EARLIER

Laroche ushers his wife, mother, and uncle out of the house.
His father watches TV. There's only a photo of Laroche's
sister on the TV set now.

                    LAROCHE
          Sure you don't want to come, dad?

His father doesn't respond.

INT. LAROCHE'S CAR - A FEW MOMENTS LATER

They pile into a nice new American car, his wife in front,
his mother and uncle in back. Laroche pulls into traffic.

                    UNCLE JIM
          Nursery business good, Johnny?

                    LAROCHE
          Everything's good, Uncle Jim. This last
          year's been a dream, I'm telling you.
          We're finally pulling out of this debt.

                    MOTHER
          Amen, honey. Praise Allah, Buddha,
          Vishnu. And all the rest of 'em.

Laroche smiles back at his mother. A screech of tires and
another car crashes head on into theirs. Laroche's face
smacks against the steering wheel, his front teeth fly in all
directions. His mother rockets forward smashing through the
windshield. His uncle hits Laroche's wife in the head,
jerking her forward and landing on top of her.

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

Banged-up and missing his front teeth, Laroche stands amidst
a group of mourners at a double funeral.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

Laroche, in his mourning suit, sits by his comatose wife.

                                                            46.



EXT. SEMINOLE DISCOUNT CIGARETTE STORE PARKING LOT - DAY

It's a busy street full of discount cigarette stores.
Laroche and Orlean step from his van, head toward the store.

                    LAROCHE
          She divorced me soon after she regained
          consciousness. Then the hurricane
          destroyed my greenhouse. Everything. I
          knew it would break my heart to start
          another nursery, so when the Seminoles
          wanted a white guy, an expert, to get
          their nursery going, I took it.

INT. DISCOUNT CIGARETTE STORE - CONTINUOUS

Laroche pulls about ten Marlboro cartons off the shelf.

                    LAROCHE
          But I wasn't gonna give them a
          conventional little potted-plant place.
          So I came up with the "ghost" plan.   I
          was gonna give them something amazing.

INT. PARTY HOUSE - NIGHT

Kaufman, beer in hand, stands off in the corner of a room
crowded with young Hollywood types. He talks nervously to a
pretty young woman

                    KAUFMAN
          ... see, Laroche researched it and found
          that Indians have the legal right to take
          endangered plants off state lands.

                    WOMAN
          What an amazing opening! So then it's a
          courtroom drama. A Few Good Men! And
          all those Indian rights issues are so
          complex. There are valid arguments on
          both sides. I mean we took their land!
          We gave them smallpox!

                    KAUFMAN
          Well, actually, there wasn't much of a
          trial. Florida got 'em on a
          technicality, about cutting down non-
          endangered trees. Even the Indians
          aren't allowed to do that. They all
          plead no contest. Laroche got fined five
          hundred bucks and banned from the
          Fakahatchee for six months.


                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                                 47.
CONTINUED:


                        WOMAN
          Oh, wow.      So, like, then what happens?

                    KAUFMAN
          Nothing much. That's what I like. I
          mean, most people's lives don't include a
          lot of drama and I wanted to sort of be
          compelling without having to resort to
          big, um... Y'know what I mean?

                    WOMAN
              (glancing distractedly around)
          Absolutely. I absolutely do.

                    KAUFMAN
          It's, like, Blake talked about seeing the
          world in a grain of sand and heaven in a
          wild flower. Y'know? Or like Hegel?

The woman smiles, but she's somewhere else entirely.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - BEDROOM

Kaufman stares at his typewriter.        There's a big pile of
papers next to him.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I am a failure. I'm a poseur. I have no
          ideas. I wanted to do something great.
          There's no story. I'm fat. I'm repuls--

The phone rings.

                         KAUFMAN (CONT'D)
             What?

                        VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
             Charlie?   It's Valerie.

                         KAUFMAN
             Oh, hi.    Hi. Hey!   Hi!

                       VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
             Sorry to bug you. We were just talking
             about you, how excited we are.

                       KAUFMAN
             Yeah, me too.

                       VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
             So it's coming along good?



                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                               48.
CONTINUED:


                       KAUFMAN
             It's good. It's complicated what I'm
             trying to do, but it's going very well.

INT. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT - EVENING

Orlean looks at a book called The Native Orchids of Florida.
She comes to a photo of the ghost orchid glowing white on the
page. Orlean's husband walks by with a cup of coffee,
caresses her shoulder. She tenses slightly, smiles up at him
apologetically. He smiles back sadly. She returns to the
photo. A line of text catches her eye: "Should one be lucky
enough to see a flower all else will seem eclipsed." Orlean
closes the book, sits there. She dials the phone.

                       LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Yeah.

                    ORLEAN
          Hello, John? It's Susan.

                       LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Susie-Q!

                    ORLEAN
          So I was thinking it'd be good for the
          article for me to go into the Fakahatchee
          to see a ghost. Would you take me?

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          I'd love to, but, hey, I'm banned for the
          next six months. Goddamn crucified me.
          Get one of them monkey-suited rangers to
          take you. 'Course, they wouldn't be able
          to locate a ghost, if it climbed off a
          tree and shoved itself up their ass.
          Hey, put that in the article.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - MORNING

A hollow-eyed Kaufman is zipping up a suitcase.

                    KAUFMAN
              (calling off-screen)
          Travelling into the Fakahatchee, Donald,
          is a perfect metaphor for writing. I'm
          stepping into the confusion of the
          unknown. I'm taking the big risk here.

INT. EMPTY LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Donald types cheerily on a lap-top computer at an ergonomic
desk. Kaufman descends the stairs with his suitcase.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                                49.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          It's dark, dangerous, as dense as steel
          wool. I don't know if I'll come out
          alive, but if I do, I'll have something
          true to give the world. That's the
          difference between writing and aping some
          moron's "principles."

Donald looks up from his work.      He hasn't been listening.

                       DONALD
             Hey, Charles, I'm thinking of putting a
             song in. Y'know like when characters
             sing pop songs in their pajamas and dance
             around. I thought it might be a nice way
             to break the tension. So, try to think
             of a song about split personality...

INT. AIRPLANE - MORNING

Orlean sits in her seat and addresses the camera.

                       ORLEAN
             You would have to want something very
             badly...

INT. AIRPLANE - NIGHT

Kaufman reads The Orchid Thief.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          ... to go looking for it in the
          Fakahatchee Strand.

He can't concentrate, closes the book and watches a
stewardess tending to another passenger.

INT. STUDIO APARTMENT - NIGHT

Kaufman fixes a salad in the kitchenette. The door opens and
the stewardess enters dragging her luggage on a little cart.

                      KAUFMAN
          Hey!    How was Denver?

                    STEWARDESS
          Oh, God, sweetie, I'm so glad to be home.

She kisses him, looks lovingly at him.

                    STEWARDESS (cont'd)
          Can I get you something to drink?

                                                             50.



INT. AIRPLANE BATHROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman finishes jerking off, stands, pulls up his pants,
adjusts himself, and exits the bathroom.

INT. AIRPLANE - CONTINUOUS

Kaufman steps out of the bathroom. The stewardess is there
talking to another stewardess. She regards Kaufman blankly,
then goes back to her conversation. He heads up the aisle.
One of the stewardesses laughs. He tenses, takes his seat.

INT. AIRPLANE - MORNING

Orlean watches the hundreds of square miles of black, wet
Florida swampland pass by below.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          An early surveyor made this entry in his
          field notes...

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

SUBTITLE: FAKAHATCHEE, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS EARLIER

A surveyor scribbles in a notebook.   The pond is alive with
alligators.

                    SURVEYOR (V.O.)
          A pond surrounded by bay and cypress
          swamp, impracticable. Full of monstrous
          alligators, counted fifty and stopped.

INT. HOTEL - NIGHT

Orlean lies in bed, wide awake and anxious.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          Whatever isn't wet in the Fakahatchee is
          blasted. The grass gets so dry that the
          friction from a car can set it on fire,
          and the burning grass can engulf the car
          in flames. A 1940's botanist noted:

EXT. PRAIRIE - DAY

A botanist, in a hot, arid field, writes in a notebook.

                    BOTANIST (V.O.)
          Most impressed by the area's variety of
          squirrels...



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             51.
CONTINUED:


A car drives by on the dirt road. It begins smoking. The
driver jumps out of the car just as it bursts into flames.

                    BOTANIST (cont'd)

          ... and charred automobiles.

We pull back to see the area filled with abandoned, burned-up
old cars.

INT. MIAMI AIRPORT CAR RENTAL BOOTH - DAY

Kaufman watches the pretty clerk working on the computer.
She looks up, he looks down, studies his road map.

INT. RENTAL CAR - EARLY MORNING

A charmingly bedraggled Orlean drives on a road surrounded by
swamp. She talks to us.

                    ORLEAN
          The swamp's darkness and denseness can
          rattle your nerves. A sailor on a pluma-
          collecting expedition wrote in his diary:

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

SUBTITLE: FAKAHATCHEE, ONE-HUNDRED AND THREE YEARS EARLIER

A luggish sailor sits in the distance on a stump, crying.

                    SAILOR (V.O.)
          The place looked wild and lonely. About
          three o'clock it seemed to get on Henry's
          nerves. We saw him crying, he could not
          tell us why, he was just plain scared.

EXT. STATE ROAD 29 - EARLY MORNING

Orlean drives onto the dirt road past the Fakahatchee sign
and talks to us.

                    ORLEAN
          The swampy part of the Fakahatchee is hot
          and wet and buggy and full of cottonmouth
          snakes and diamond back rattlers and...

INT. RENTAL CAR - MORNING

Kaufman drives down the same road surrounded by swamp.




                                                  (CONTINUED)

                                                             52.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          ... alligators and snapping turtles and
          poisonous plants and wild hogs and...

EXT. RANGER SHACK - MORNING

Orlean gets out of the car, knocks timidly on the shack door.
Ranger Mike Owen answers.

                       MIKE OWEN
          Charlie?

It's Kaufman standing there.

                    KAUFMAN
              (tremulous)
          Yes. Hi.

EXT. SWAMP - MORNING

The sky is overcast. Mike Owen leads Kaufman through a cool
swamp, which is completely dry. The two men walk easily on
peaty ground. Kaufman, slathered with sun screen and covered
head to foot in unnecessary protective clothing, tries to be
interested in Owen's lecture.

                    MIKE OWEN
          So the whole ecosystem is six thousand
          years old. Five to six thousand years
          old. About that. Five or six.

                       KAUFMAN
          Okay.

                    MIKE OWEN
          Now the Fakahatchee is the largest of all
          the cyrpess strands, probably in the
          world. I don't know of any cypress
          strand bigger. It's about twenty miles
          long, or nineteen, nineteen to twenty,
          nineteen... and right here it's about
          five miles wide, four and a half, five.
          So, again, it's twenty miles long, three
          to five miles wide. And over here --

EXT. SWAMP - LATER

Mike Owen holds a handful of peat.   Kaufman looks at it.

                    MIKE OWEN
          The oldest carbon dating they've done on
          any of the peat out here is fifty-seven
          hundred years. That's with carbon-14.
                    (MORE)
                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                               53.
CONTINUED:
                    MIKE OWEN (cont'd)
          That's in the right age where you can
          really date things accurately with carbon-
          14, because it's half-life is fifty-five
          hundred years, so they must have found
          have of it gone and figured that...

                       KAUFMAN
             Why isn't it wet? Orlean wrote about
             wading through black, corrosive water.
             She said it was the scariest experience
             of her life. And when I spoke to you on
             the phone, you said wear heavy boots,
             long pants and...

                    MIKE OWEN
          There's usually water. We've been going
          through a bit of a drought. Say, have
          you seen that movie, Medicine Man?
          That's a good movie about protecting
          nature. It shows there could be
          something important in a rain forest we
          don't even know about, like a cure for
          cancer.

                    KAUFMAN
          It's not even hot. I was expecting it to
          be awful. Sun beating down, wading
          through water, looking out for snakes,
          wild hogs. I was thinking it would be
          dramatic. Alligators. Something!

                     MIKE OWEN
          The alligators are over by the lakes.
          The temperature's a blessing for us.
          This time of year can get uncomfortably
          hot.
               (pointing excitedly)
          Green anole. Florida's most common.

Kaufman looks down and sees a plain-looking little lizard
hanging on a tree. Mike Owen jots it down in his notebook.

                    MIKE OWEN (cont'd)
          I try to keep a log of sightings.

INT. TRUCK - DAY

Mike Owen drives.    Kaufman stares out the window at boring
trees.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          It had been a hard day and I hadn't seen
          what I'd come to see. Maybe the ghost
          orchid was a ghost after all.
                    (MORE)
                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                             54.
CONTINUED:
                    ORLEAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          There are certainly ghosts in the
          Fakahatchee -- ghosts of rangers who were
          murdered years ago by illegal plume
          hunters, and of loggers who were cut to
          pieces in fights, and for years there has
          been an apparition wandering the swamp,
          the Swamp Ape, which is said to be seven
          feet tall and seven hundred pounds and
          have the physique of a human, the posture
          of an ape, and the body odor of a skunk.

EXT. RANGER SHACK - DAY

Kaufman and Owen stand by Kaufman's car.

                    MIKE OWEN
          What Laroche did was wrong. Those
          flowers belong to all of us, all 250
          million of us -- 250? I think it's up to
          270 now -- And belonging to all of us
          means they belong to none of us. Nobody
          has a right to take them. Not me, not
          you, not John Laroche, not...

Kaufman is desperate for something else.    He blurts:

                    KAUFMAN
          Listen, um, Susan Orlean wrote about a
          legendary creature called a Swamp Ape.
          Have you ever heard stories or --

                    MIKE OWEN
              (pissy)
          Tourist garbage! I don't know why people
          need to invent silly creatures to make
          nature fascinating. Isn't nature amazing
          enough?

                    KAUFMAN
              (shamed)
          I just asked because she mentioned it.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

Orlean, still dirty from the swamp, holds a phone to her ear
and talks to us. She has cute little dirt smudges on her
face.

                    ORLEAN
          That night I called Laroche.

                       ORLEAN
                 (into phone)
             I didn't see anything but bare roots.
                       (MORE)
                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             55.
CONTINUED:
                    ORLEAN (cont'd)
          And I had this thought. Maybe the ghost
          orchid only blooms in the minds of people
          who've walked too long in the swamp.

INT. ORLEAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Orlean types. It's pouring and sheets of rain beat against
her window. She glances at her husband, across the room
reading a book. She sighs, continues typing.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          What I didn't say to him is that life
          seemed to be filled with things that were
          just like the ghost orchid -- wonderful
          to imagine and easy to fall in love with
          but a little fantastic and fleeting and
          out of reach.

INT. RENTAL CAR - EVENING

Kaufman drives down a Florida strip-malled highway. He
passes a Barnes and Noble, a Burger King, a Starbucks. He
parks in front of a California Pizza Kitchen.

INT. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN (FLORIDA) - EVENING

Kaufman watches the waitresses. One approaches his booth.
Her name badge reads: Caryn, Tampa, FL. She smiles at
Kaufman as she looks right through him.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

A morose Kaufman sits on the bed reading The Orchid Thief.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          What I didn't say to him was that life
          seemed to be filled with things that were
          just like the ghost orchid -- wonderful
          to imagine and easy to fall in love with
          but a little fantastic and fleeting and
          out of reach.

Kaufman is deeply moved. He hi-lites the passage, then looks
at the smiling photo of Orlean. He finds himself lost in it.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

Orlean, dirty from the swamp, is on the phone.

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
              (beat,clears throat)
          Jesus Christ, of course there are ghost
          orchids out there! I've stolen them!
                    (MORE)

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                                56.
CONTINUED:
                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE) (cont'd)
              (beat, a cleared throat)
          You should have gone with me.

CLOSE-UP OF MAGAZINE

The line: "... then he cleared his throat and said: 'You
should have gone with me.'"
                    VALERIE (O.C.)
          Beautifully written. A really unique
          piece.

PULL BACK TO:

INT. RESTAURANT - MIDDAY

Busy lunch crowd. Valerie sits at a table with Orlean and an
open New Yorker magazine.

                        ORLEAN
          Thank you.      Thanks very much.

                    VALERIE
          We're big fans.

                    ORLEAN
          Oh, thank you.

                    VALERIE
          And Laroche is such a fun character.

                    ORLEAN
          Yeah, John's a character all right.

                    VALERIE
          It's funny and fresh.     And sad in a way.

                    ORLEAN
          Well, thanks. Thank you.

                    VALERIE
          So we were wondering, what's next?

                    ORLEAN
          Oh, um, Random House wants me to expand
          it into a book. So I'll be doing that.

                    VALERIE
          And there'll be more of Laroche?

                        ORLEAN
             Yeah.   More John, more orchids.



                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                            57.
CONTINUED:


                    VALERIE
          Y'know, we'd really like to option it.

                    ORLEAN
              (laughing)
          You want to make this into a movie?

                    VALERIE
          Laroche is such a fun character.   So...

INT. VAN - DAY

Laroche, wearing a Cleveland Indians T-shirt, drives crazily
thorugh the Hollywood Seminole reservation. Orlean holds on.

                     LAROCHE
          No shit I'm a fun character.
              (beat)
          Who's gonna play me?

                    ORLEAN
          I've got to write it first. Someone's
          gotta write the screenplay. Most things
          never get made. It's premature to --

                    LAROCHE
          I think I should play me.

Laroche swerves into a parking space in the nursery lot.

EXT. SEMINOLE NURSERY   - DAY

Laroche and Orlean get out of the van.

                    LAROCHE
          I've got all the right qualities. While
          you write, I'll take an acting class.

A few young Indian guys are hauling bags of potting soil.
They look at Laroche sourly. Laroche indicates the giant
cartoon Indian on his T-shirt.

                    LAROCHE
          I wear this just to screw with 'em.

INT. TRAILER - CONTINUOUS

Laroche enters his office, looks at some papers on his desk.

                    LAROCHE
          Most of them don't even bother calling me
          John anymore. It's "Crazy White Man"
          now.
                    (MORE)
                                                  (CONTINUED)

                                                            58.
CONTINUED:
                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          "Crazy White Man" is a good title for the
          movie. Call the book "Crazy White Man."
          Or, I don't know, "Collector of Hearts"
          or something.

Before Orlean can respond, Laroche picks up the phone and
dials an impossibly long number. He waits, gestures for
Orlean to sit on a chair piled high with junk.

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          You won't hurt anything.

Orlean moves the junk over, shares the seat with it.

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
              (Yelling into phone)
          Hello? Hello? Hi? This is John Laroche
          from the Seminole Nursery. Sem-ih-nole!
              (to Orlean)
          How do you say Seminole in Spanish?
              (into phone)
          That's right, yes! Yeah, I want to order
          some more of those pink string beans!
          Pink string beans!
              (yelling)
          Pink String Beans! Pink String Beans!

Buster appears in the door.

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
              (into phone)
          I'll call back.
              (hangs up)
          Hey, Buster.

                    BAXLEY
          John.

                    LAROCHE
          I was trying to order some pink string
          beans from Argentina.

                    BAXLEY
          No kidding.

                    LAROCHE
          I figure just because Project Ghost
          Orchid is dead, we're not closing shop.

                    BAXLEY
          Listen, John --




                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                              59.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    LAROCHE
          We'll get into plant multiplication. Buy
          little ones, turn 'em into big ones, sell
          'em at a profit. Simple plant
          multiplication for the masses.

                    BAXLEY
          John, we're thinking maybe now's a good
          time for you to take a few weeks.

                    LAROCHE
          I don't need a vacation, Buster.

                    BAXLEY
          It's a good time.   Things are slow.

Laroche stares at Buster.   Buster stares back.

                    LAROCHE
          Y'know, the guys on my crew here, all
          they do is smoke weed all day. I been
          meaning to talk to you about that. So if
          it's a question of productivity --

INT. VAN - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Laroche weaves through traffic.   Orlean holds on.

                    LAROCHE
          They're gonna fire me. Goddamn politics.
          Crazy White Man's bad publicity.
              (pounds steering wheel)
          I can't believe I'm dealing with this!
              (pounds steering wheel)
          Like I could give a damn. If they fire
          me, I'll sue. I already did some legal
          research on this when I was doing the
          other shit. They can't fire me. And I
          ain't going to quit.

MONTAGE

Gray skies. Kaufman drives his rental car: he looks at the
Seminole Nursery, the Collier County Courthouse, Laroche's
house. He drives through swampy terrain. He walks around at
an orchid show, he attends a slide-show orchid lecture. It's
all dull. He ends up sitting on a bench on an empty beach,
staring out at the ocean.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Orlean dials the phone.   It rings for a long time.    Finally:


                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                             60.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
              (groggy)
          Yeah?

                    ORLEAN
          John, it's Susan.
              (waits for response)
          Orlean.
              (waits)
          So, I was just wondering if you might be
          willing to talk some more.

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          What about?

Orlean rolls her eyes.

                    ORLEAN
          C'mon, John, I'm trying to put together a
          book. Don't just abandon me down here.

                    LAROCHE
          I'm no longer interested in orchids. I'm
          pursuing other avenues. I apologize for
          any inconvenience this might cause you.

Orlean is silent, taps her fingers on the bedside table.

                    LAROCHE
          Thank you for your time.

Laroche hangs up. Orlean sits there for a moment, flips
through her list of orchid collector names.

EXT. EMPTY BEACH - DAY

Kaufman sits on the bench, looking out at the ocean. An
attractive, spandexed couple skate by, chatting in German.
He watches the woman, hoping for a look, for something. He
doesn't get it. They're gone. A tan older man sits on the
bench, lights a cigarette. Kaufman continues to look at the
ocean, even though he feels the guy's eyes on him. He
doesn't want to engage.

                    GUY ON BENCH
          We could use the rain, huh?

Kaufman nods, looking at the ocean.      Pause.

                    GUY ON BENCH (cont'd)
          So you from around here?

Kaufman shakes his head "no."   Pause.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             61.
CONTINUED:


                    GUY ON BENCH (cont'd)
          So where then?

                    KAUFMAN
          California.

                     GUY ON BENCH
              (excitedly)
          Yeah? I'm moving to L.A. I just wrote a
          screenplay. I sent it to a lot of
          agents. But if they turn me down, I'll
          go there and market it myself. I used to
          be in marketing in New York, so I know
          exactly how to sell this thing.
              (beat)
          Where's a nice place to live if you don't
          have a car?

                    KAUFMAN
          You kind of need a car. I guess West
          Hollywood would be okay.

                    GUY ON BENCH
          So you recommend West Hollywood then.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm not recommending it.

Pause.

                    GUY ON BENCH
          I moved down here for a change, and I
          wrote the screenplay. Just like that.
          It's a great idea.

The old guy waits for a response.    He gets none.

                    GUY ON BENCH (cont'd)
          It's about a mob guy, but it's not your
          regular mob story. There's a twist. A
          cop tells this mob guy's wife that the
          mob guy's cheating on her. But the truth
          is, the cop's lying because he wants her
          for himself. See, they used to go
          together in high school.
              (waits for response, then:)
          You know anything about screenplays?

Kaufman shakes his head.




                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             62.
CONTINUED: (2)


                     GUY ON BENCH (cont'd)
          Well, the object is to make people think
          you're going in one direction, then you
          twist it to keep 'em surprised. I came up
          with all these amazing twists out of
          nowhere. Well, not nowhere.
              (beat)
          I'm a born again Christian.
              (beat)
          You have faith?

                       KAUFMAN
          No.     Not really.

                    GUY ON BENCH
          You don't believe in anything?

Kaufman shrugs.

                    GUY ON BENCH (cont'd)
          I don't know how you can look out at this
          beautiful ocean and not believe there's
          an intelligence that created it.

                    KAUFMAN
          I don't know.

                    GUY ON BENCH
          Well, you can't know until you experience
          it. That requires accepting Jesus Christ
          as your Lord and Savior. Believe me.
          Lookit, if I was to show you a bottle of
          clear liquid and told you it was vodka,
          how would you know if it really was or if
          it was water? There's only one way.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'd smell it.

                    GUY ON BENCH
              (annoyed)
          No. You can't smell vodka.    You'd have
          to taste it, right?

                    KAUFMAN
          It could be poison.    I don't know you.

                    GUY ON BENCH
              (angry)
          Look, let's go with the analogy I'm
          drawing here. It's not poison. Okay?
              (resuming control)
                    (MORE)

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            63.
CONTINUED: (3)
                    GUY ON BENCH (cont'd)
          So you'd have to taste it to know.
          Right? That's my point.

                    KAUFMAN
          Right.

                     GUY ON BENCH
          That's all I'm saying.
              (beat)
          So West Hollywood, huh? I think I'll
          make it out this year. Because how long
          can you look at an ocean, y'know?

MONTAGE

Susan Orlean talks to various orchid enthusiasts, visits
nurseries, sits in lecture halls, attends orchid shows, sits
in the library reading orchid books. She is bored and
distracted.

INT. AIRPLANE - NIGHT

A stewardess places a cup and an airline-sized bottle of
vodka down in front of a lost Kaufman. He smiles at her.    No
response. He opens the bottle and smells the vodka.

INT. LIMO - NIGHT

Kaufman sits in the back seat and stares out the window. The
driver looks at him a couple of times in his rearview mirror.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I have failed. I have nothing to say.    I
          am fat. I am not a writer.

                    DRIVER
          Mr. Kaufman, do you mind if I ask what
          type of work you do for Sony?

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm a writer.

                    DRIVER
              (impressed)
          A song writer?

                    KAUFMAN
          No, I'm a screenwriter.

                    DRIVER
          Oh, wow! Good for you. You mind if I
          ask what your movie's about?



                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                             64.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          It's about flowers.

No response.   Kaufman tries to make it interesting.

                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          It's about this poacher who steals
          orchids out of a swamp.

                    DRIVER
          I heard about that!   Drug flowers, right?

                     KAUFMAN
          Yeah.   That's it.

                    DRIVER
          I heard about that! That's great!
          Action-adventure is my favorite genre.

INT. EMPTY HOUSE - NIGHT

Kaufman enters with his bags and heads to the stairs.
Donald, typing furiously at his desk, looks up.

                    DONALD
          How was Florida, man?

                    KAUFMAN
              (climbing the stairs)
          Okay.

                    DONALD
          Cool! Hey, my script's going amazing!
          Right now I'm working out an Image
          System. Bob calls it an invaluable
          asset. Because of my multiple
          personality theme, I've chosen the motif
          of broken mirrors to show my
          protagonist's fragmented self. Bob
          teaches that an Image System greatly
          increases the complexity of an aesthetic
          emotion.

                    KAUFMAN
          You sound like you're in a cult.

Kaufman disappears upstairs.

                    DONALD
          No, it's just good writing technique.
              (types, then:)
                    (MORE)


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            65.
CONTINUED:
                    DONALD (cont'd)
          Oh, I made you a copy of McKee's Ten
          Commandments. I've posted one over both
          our work areas.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Kaufman tears down MCKEE'S TEN COMMANDMENTS. Donald appears
backlit in the doorway and seems oddly threatening.

                    DONALD
          You shouldn't have done that.

They look at each other.    Donald breaks the tension, smiles.

                    DONALD (cont'd)
          'Cause it's extremely helpful.
              (lies down on floor)
          Hey, any sign of that Swamp Ape?

                       KAUFMAN
             There is no Swamp Ape. It was invented
             for people who can't find the actual
             world fascinating. Y'know?

                    DONALD
          Oh, okay. I didn't know that. Sorry.
          Hey, I got a song! "Happy Together." I
          was worried about putting a song in a
          thriller, but Bob says, Casablanca, the
          greatest screenplay ever written, did
          exactly that. Mixed genres.

                    KAUFMAN
          I need to go to bed, Donald.    I haven't
          slept in a week.

                       DONALD
          Okay.

Donald remains on the floor.

MONTAGE SEQUENCE

Mishmash of images: alligators snapping, Laroche jabbering,
Orlean typing, 19th century orchid poachers slogging, orchids
blooming, Mike Owen lecturing.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          ... so we open the swamp... okay,
          flashback to young Laroche had turtles...
          Okay, Susan says What Is Passion? And
          okay we open on a swamp and suddenly a
          white van comes tearing around...

                                                             66.



INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman lies half-awake in bed, sweating, his eyes darting
back and forth. He looks over at the clock. It's 3:32.

                     KAUFMAN
          Damn it.

Donald snores happily off-screen.   Kaufman switches on a
lamp, pulls The Orchid Thief from his bag, flips through it.
There are now many yellow hi-lited passages. He reads one.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          There are too many ideas and things and
          people, too many directions to go. I was
          starting to believe the reason it matters
          to care passionately about something is
          that it whittles the world down to a more
          manageable size.

                    KAUFMAN
          Such sweet, sad insights.   So true.

Kaufman flips to the glowing, smiling author photo.

                    KAUFMAN
          And you're... I like looking at you.

He stares at the photo.   Its smile broadens.    It talks.

                    ORLEAN PHOTO
          I like looking at you, too.   Charlie.

The photo smiles warmly at him.   Kaufman begins to jerk-off.
He closes his eyes.

Then: Kaufman and Orlean are in his bed together, making
love. She smiles at him throughout. They finish.

Then: Kaufman is alone in bed, heaving. He looks at the
still smiling photo. It somehow seems sleepy now.

                    KAUFMAN
          I don't know how to do this. I'm afraid
          I'll disappoint you. You've written a
          beautiful book. I can't sleep. I'm
          losing my hair. I'm fat and repulsive --

                    ORLEAN PHOTO
          Shhh. You're not. Whittle it down,
          focus on one thing in the story, find the
          thing you care passionately about and
          write about that.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              67.
CONTINUED:


Kaufman studies her delicate, melancholy face.      He's in love.

                    ORLEAN PHOTO (cont'd)
              (sweet, flirty smile)
          I figured there might be something...

INT. KITCHEN - MORNING

Kaufman paces and talks animatedly into his mini-recorder.

                    KAUFMAN
          We see Susan Orlean, delicate, fragile,
          beautiful, haunted by loneliness, typing
          at her desk. She looks at the camera and
          talks to us: "John Laroche is a tall guy,
          skinny as a stick, pale-eyed, slouch-
          shouldered..."

Donald enters in his underwear, pours coffee.

                       DONALD
          Morning.

                       KAUFMAN
          Hey, hey.

                    DONALD
          You seem chipper.

                       KAUFMAN
          I'm good.     I have some new ideas.

                    DONALD
          Cool. Me too. I'm putting in a chase
          sequence now. The killer flees on
          horseback with the girl. The cop is
          after them on a motorcycle. It's like a
          battle between motors and horses.

                       KAUFMAN
             They're all still one person, right?

                       DONALD
             Yeah, hey, that's the big pay-off.

                     KAUFMAN
              (nice)
          Well, it sounds exciting.

                    DONALD
          Thanks, man. Thanks.

                                                             68.



INT. CAR - DAY

Orlean drives through swampy landscape.   She talks to us.


                    ORLEAN
          I suppose what I'd been doing in Florida
          was trying to understand how people found
          order and contentment and a sense of
          purpose in the universe by fixing their
          sighs on one single desire. Now I was
          also trying to understand how someone
          could end such intense desire without a
          trace.

Orlean stops at a payphone and dials.   It rings for a while.

                     LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
              (groggy)
          Yeah what?

                    ORLEAN
          Hello, John, it's Susan.

                     LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Yeah hi.

                    ORLEAN
          So, how's everything going?

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Great! I'm training myself on the
          internet. It's fascinating. I'm doing
          pornography. It's amazing how much these
          suckers will pay for photographs of
          chicks. And it doesn't matter if they're
          fat or ugly or what.

                    ORLEAN
          That sounds good.

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          It's great is what it is.

                    ORLEAN
          So I've been meeting a lot of orchid
          people, going to shows, I thought you
          might want to hear about it.

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Sorry. I am officially no longer
          interested in orchids or the losers who
          are still interested in them. The end.

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                            69.
CONTINUED:


Laroche hangs up.   Orlean looks off into the flat distance.

                    ORLEAN
          If you really loved something, wouldn't a
          little of it always linger?

She turns to the camera.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman holds The Orchid Thief open with one hand and types
with the other.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Susan Orlean drives. The golden light of
          the afternoon sun caresses her sweet
          face. She talks to us.
              (copying from book)
          "Florida is a landscape of transition and
          mutation, a hybrid of ..."

Kaufman's hand slips, the book shuts. He opens it to the
wrong page and sees an About The Author paragraph. The last
line jumps off the page: "She now lives in New York City with
her husband."

EXT. L.A. STREET - NIGHT

Kaufman wanders the street, distraught.   A passing woman
snickers.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman types.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Susan and her husband eat dinner in
          silence. A dying relationship. Husband:
          You want to do something tonight? Susan:
          I should work. Y'know. I got stuff...

INT. EMPTY LIVING ROOM - DAY

Kaufman and Orlean move furniture into the room. It now
looks warm and inviting. Orlean wears a bandana kerchief.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm so thrilled I get to adapt your book,
          get to merge my thoughts with yours. I
          love that. It's intimate, like a
          marriage.



                                                   (CONTINUED)

                                                              70.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN
          Not like a marriage.

                    KAUFMAN
          Maybe what marriage could be.

Her eyes tear up.    She kisses him.

                    ORLEAN
          Isn't it ironic? You adapting my book?
          My three years in Florida meditating on
          my inability to experience passion
          resulted in my finding it with you.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - MORNING

Kaufman paces with his mini-recorder.    Off-screen typing.

                    KAUFMAN
          ... and in the final sequence Susan as a
          young girl swings alone in the backyard.
          From high in the air she sees her parents
          in separate rooms staring blankly in
          opposite directions. This symbolizes the
          profound scarring their waning passion
          has had on the girl's psyche, how she
          became afraid to ever really love
          something because it would go away.

Kaufman is immensely pleased.    He smiles at Orlean's photo.

                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          This is good. I'm finding you.

The phone rings.

                       KAUFMAN
          Yallo?

                    VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
          Hi, Charlie. It's Valerie. Just bugging
          you again. How's everything going?

                       KAUFMAN
          Good.     I think really good now.

                      VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
          Great.    So I spoke to Susan yesterday.

                     KAUFMAN
              (beat)
          Oh. Uh-huh, uh-huh.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                              71.
CONTINUED:


                    VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
          I told her you were making terrific
          progress and she's really excited to read
          the script.

Sweat appears on Kaufman's brow.

                        KAUFMAN
          Oh.   Good.

                    VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
          And she said she'd love to meet you.

All color drains from Kaufman's face.

                    KAUFMAN
          Um, well, y'know, for me it's distracting
          to... or confusing to discuss what I'm
          exploring in the screenplay at this
          point... before I finish... it. So...

                    VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
          That's fair. I'll let her know.

                    KAUFMAN
          Tell Susan I'd be very happy to meet her
          at a future date. As she sees fit.

                     VALERIE (PHONE VOICE)
          Okay.   Good enough.

                    KAUFMAN
          And tell her how much I love her book.
          Say I think she's such a great writer.

                     VALERIE (cont'd)
          Will do.   Just keep us posted, Charlie.

                     KAUFMAN
          Okay.   Nice talking to you.   Okay then.

Kaufman hangs up and looks at the photo of Orlean. It's
still smiling, but not at him. It's not glowing. Maybe it's
even smirking. Kaufman paces frantically, holding his
stomach. Donald's off-screen typing grows louder.

INT. EMPTY LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Donald types at his desk on his computer.    Kaufman storms in.




                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                             72.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          You can sit here and pretend to be a
          writer, mocking the seriousness of what I
          do, like some kind of fucking funhouse
          mirror version of me! But let me tell
          you, you don't know what writing is!

Kaufman grabs his stomach, doubles over.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY

Kaufman is on a gurney and hooked up to an IV. He watches a
slightly haggard woman with a bandaged head sitting in a
small room across the hall. She glances over in his
direction. He smiles. She looks through him.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          She thinks I'm repulsive.

He lies there for a moment, then his eyes light up.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - DAY

Kaufman types passionately on his computer.

                     KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Movie opens.: Charlie Kaufman, fat, old,
          bald, paces the room. His voice-over
          carpets the scene. "I am old. I am fat.
          I am bald. My toenails have turned
          strange. I am repulsive. How repulsive?
          I don't know for I suffer from a
          condition called Body Dysmorphic
          Disorder."

INT. AGENT'S OFFICE - DAY

Kaufman, looking tired and wild-eyed, sits with his agent.

                    JERRY
          ... we need to talk about the orchid
          script. Valerie called yesterday.
          They're getting antsy.

                    KAUFMAN
          I think I've got it on track now.

                     JERRY
          Good.   She said you sounded weird.

                    KAUFMAN
          No Hollywood bullshit. Just raw truth.
          Sometimes that takes a while to find.

                                                   (CONTINUED)

                                                            73.
CONTINUED:


                      JERRY
          Okay.    What's the time frame here?

                    KAUFMAN
          It's goddamned honest, Jerry.   It's true.

                    JERRY
          Oh, hey, my friend sent me this fucked-
          up internet thing. It's a girl taking a
          shit, but a trout comes out. You got e-
          mail yet? I'll send it to you.

                    KAUFMAN
          This is more honest than anything
          anyone's ever done before in a movie,
          I'll tell you that. The only truth we
          can offer is the truth that's our own
          experience of the world. "The great
          poet, in writing himself, writes his
          time." T.S. Eliot.

                    JERRY
          It sounds good, buddy. But we do need to
          give Valerie a ballpark --

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm sick of their constant harassment!

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Black and white shot of Laroche and the Indians slogging
through Fakahatchee. The camera swoops down and the scene
turns into a mannequin version.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          On December 21, 1993 John Laroche and
          three Seminoles illegally removed one
          hundred and thirty rare plants from the
          Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.

INT. MIAMI CONVENTION CENTER - DAY

It's an enormous hall filled with people setting up elaborate
displays.   Martin Motes and his assistant work on the
Laroche display. Orlean watches them. Motes looks up.

                    MOTES
          You've been checking out the displays?

                      ORLEAN
          Yeah.



                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                             74.
CONTINUED:


                    MOTES
          It's the Miami centennial, we're supposed
          to illustrate something about Florida
          history.

                   ORLEAN
          Right. Now Laroche is part of Florida
          history. As a mannequin.

                    MOTES
          It's a world of words to the end of
          it./In which nothing solid is its solid
          self. You'll have to forgive me, I'm a
          reformed poetry professor.

Orlean is moved by the quote.

                    ORLEAN
          Who is that?

                    MOTES
          Wallace Stevens.

INT. BARNES AND NOBLE - NIGHT

Orlean stands in the poetry section and reads a Wallace
Stevens book.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          The greatest poverty is not to live/In a
          physical world, to feel that one's
          desire/is too difficult to tell from
          despair.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman is on the floor typing.   His mini-recorder is on.

                    KAUFMAN'S VOICE (ON RECORDER)
          Kaufman sits across from Valerie, a
          pretty film executive. He eyes her as
          she picks at her salad. She looks up and
          he looks down. He sweats. She
          compliments him on his work. She rubs
          her nose. He pulls at his nostrils. He
          tries to sound like he knows what he's
          talking about. He's full of shit.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

Orlean dials the phone.



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             75.
CONTINUED:


                      LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Yeah.

                    ORLEAN
          John, it's Susan.

                      LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          I know.

                    ORLEAN
          I went to the Orchid Society Show a
          couple of days ago.

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          I'm not interested.

                    ORLEAN
          There was a display of you stealing the
          ghost orchids. You're famous.

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          I'm not involved in that world now.

                    ORLEAN
          So, look, John, I still haven't seen a
          ghost. And I was wondering --

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Yeah, yeah. I'll take you in.

                     ORLEAN
          Really?   Thank you so much!   I just...

                    LAROCHE (PHONE VOICE)
          Tomorrow. Pick me up at 5:30 am or it'll
          get too hot. I'll buy all the supplies
          we'll need.

INT. EMPTY BEDROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman types.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Kaufman jerks off to the book jacket
          photo of Susan Orlean.

Donald appears in the doorway with a script.

                      KAUFMAN
          What?!    What do you want?

                    DONALD
          I finished. My script.    I'm done.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            76.
CONTINUED:


Kaufman stares at his typewriter, doesn't say anything.

                    DONALD (cont'd)
          So would you show it to your agent?

Kaufman grabs Donald's script and throws it on his bed.

                    DONALD (cont'd)
          Thanks. Also, I wanted to thank you for
          your idea. It was very helpful. I
          changed it a little. Now the killer cuts
          off body pieces and makes the victims eat
          them.   It's, like, I once saw this
          picture of a snake swallowing it's tail --

Kaufman collapses, puts his head in his hands.

                    KAUFMAN
          Ourobouros.

                    DONALD
          I don't know what that means.

                    KAUFMAN
          The snake is called Ourobouros.

                    DONALD
          I don't think so. But it's cool for my
          killer to have this modus operandi.
          Because at the end when he forces the
          woman, who's really just him, to eat
          herself, he's also eating himself to
          death.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm insane. I'm Ourobouros.

                    DONALD
          I don't know what that is.

                    KAUFMAN
          I've written myself into my screenplay.
          It's eating itself. I'm eating myself.

                     DONALD
          Oh.   That's kinda weird.

                    KAUFMAN
          It's self-indulgent. It's narcissistic.
          It's solipsistic. It's pathetic. I'm
          pathetic. I'm fat and pathetic.



                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                             77.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    DONALD
          I'm sure you had a good reason, Charles.
          You're an artist.

                    KAUFMAN
          The reason is I'm too timid to speak to
          the woman who wrote the book. Because
          I'm pathetic. Because I have no idea how
          to write. Because I can't make flowers
          fascinating. Because I suck.

                    DONALD
          Hey, am I in the script, too?

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm going to New York. I'll meet her.
          That's it. That's what I have to do.

                    DONALD
          Don't get mad at me for saying this,
          Charles, but Bob's got a seminar in New
          York this weekend. So if you're stuck --

Kaufman shoots Donald a look.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - LATER

The lights are off.   Orlean is in bed, sleeping fitfully.

INT. PLANE - NIGHT

Kaufman reads Ann Landers's column in a paper dated July 4th.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Give yourself a reality check. Phoniness
          is transparent, and it is tiresome. Take
          pleasure in the beauty and wonders of
          nature. A flower is God's miracle.

Out the window he sees colorful fireworks far down below,
like small flowers blooming on the black earth. His eyes
well with tears.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman sleeps fitfully.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Orlean walks through alone, panicked. All the vegetation is
greener and crazier-looking than we've seen before. Things
slither by in the water, brush up against her.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            78.
CONTINUED:

She tenses, steps into a sinkhole, flails, gets tangled in a
vine, which wraps around her leg as she attempts to extricate
herself. She falls face forward into the black water.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Orlean snaps awake, bedcovers tangled around her legs. She
heaves, looks at the clock. It's 3:30. She stares at the
ceiling. She looks at the clock again. It's 3:30. She
looks at the clock again. It's 4:10. She closes her eyes.
She opens them, looks at the clock, the room is filled with
murky water, the bed an island of dryness. An alligator
pokes its nose out of the water, begins to climb onto the
bed. Orlean jumps back, hits her head on the headboard. The
room is back to normal. The clock reads 4:23. She closes
her eyes. The alarm goes off.

EXT. LAROCHE'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING

Orlean pulls up to the curb where Laroche stands, dressed in
a short sleeve shirt, thin pants, and his Miami Hurricanes
hat. He opens the door and climbs in.

                    ORLEAN
          Where are our supplies?

                    LAROCHE
          Got everything I need right here.

Laroche pulls a new pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.
Orlean turns off the ignition and stares at the steering
wheel. Laroche shrugs.

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Look, don't worry about it. We'll get
          crap at the Indian trading post on
          Alligator Alley. Hey, want me to drive?

INT. CAR - A BIT LATER

The sun has come up strong. It looks hot. Laroche speeds
along with one finger on the wheel, paying little attention
to the road. The car veers onto the shoulder, he lazily
corrects it. Orlean is tense.

                    LAROCHE
          I remember one time when I was a kid,
          fifteen or so, my mother and I came to
          the Fakahatchee to look for a ghost to
          photograph. We walked for hours, through
          the most intense heat I'd ever felt.   We
          couldn't find one. I wanted to turn
          back. But my mom said, no.
                    (MORE)

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                             79.
CONTINUED:
                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          She said, John, if you keep searching for
          something past doubt, past hopelessness,
          past the absolute certainty that you'll
          never find it, if you keep searching past
          that, there it'll be. So we walked. I
          had goddamn bloody blisters on my feet.
          And we found ourselves in this charred
          prairie, desolate, sun blasted, y'know.
          And there in the middle of it was this
          one gorgeous, snowy Polyrrhiza lindenii.

They drive in silence for a little while.   She watches him.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Orlean types at her desk.   She turns to us and talks.

                    ORLEAN
          He made it sound like a Bible story, the
          hopeful journey through darkness into
          light. I never thought many people in
          the world were like John, but I was
          realizing more and more that Laroche was
          an extreme, not an aberration -- most
          people in some way or another do strive
          for something exceptional, something to
          pursue, even at their peril, rather than
          abide an ordinary life.

EXT. MIDTOWN NEW YORK CITY STREET - DAY

Kaufman, sweaty and anxious, walks along. He arrives at the
New Yorker building and enters with steely determination.

INT. BUILDING - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Kaufman waits for the elevator, sweating even more profusely.
The elevator doors open. People get off, people get on, the
elevator doors close. Kaufman still stands there.

EXT. SWAMP - MORNING

Laroche and Orlean step off the levee into black water. They
sink to their knees. The ground is soft; it's a struggle to
pull their feet up to walk. Things slither past in the
water. Something big runs by in the distance. Bees, and
dragonflies hover. Gnats and mosquitoes bite. Birds
screech. Frogs croak. Laroche points to a yellow flower.

                    LAROCHE
          Here we go. Encyclia tempensis.

Laroche lights a cigarette.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             80.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Nice little sucker, isn't it?

Orlean examines it from a distance.

                      ORLEAN
          Cute.

Laroche continues walking and Orlean attempts to keep pace.
He points at a tiny orchid on another tree.

                    LAROCHE
          Clamshell orchid. You know that.

                      ORLEAN
          Uh-huh.

                    LAROCHE
          See, I found you two already. I'll show
          you every orchid you want today. I'll
          find you a fucking ghost if it kills me.
              (pointing to another orchid)
          Rigid Epidendrum. That's an ugly-ass
          orchid. But I'm no snob. I'm interested
          in all orchids. Not just pretty ones.

INT. COFFEE SHOP - A FEW MINUTES LATER

A miserable Kaufman sits in the window, sipping coffee and
watching the New Yorker building across the street. He
steels himself, exits the coffee shop.

INT. ELEVATOR - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Kaufman rides up in the crowded elevator. It stops a few
times; people get off and on. Kaufman sweats. The doors
open. The New Yorker logo is painted on the wall opposite
the elevator. Nobody gets off or on. The doors close. The
elevator continues up. Kaufman hates himself. Soon the
elevator is emptied out with the exception of Kaufman. It
begins its descent and stops once again at the New Yorker.
This time Orlean gets on. Kaufman is absolutely panicked.
Orlean looks at him blankly, presses "lobby", and faces
front. Kaufman sweats, studies the back of her head. The
elevator arrives at the lobby. Orlean gets out. Kaufman
hesitates, then follows.

EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREET - DAY

Orlean walks along.   Kaufman follows her.

                                                              81.



EXT. SWAMP - LATE MORNING

The sun is much higher in the sky. Orlean is a sweaty mess,
frizzed hair, anxious, scraped, dirty.

                    LAROCHE
              (peppy)
          They're right nearby.    Just follow me.

INT. RESTAURANT - DAY

Orlean sits by herself, reading Vanity Fair. Kaufman sits a
few tables away. He scribbles in his notebook.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Reads Vanity Fair. Funny detail: New
          Yorker writer reads Vanity Fair. Use!

A waitress brings a tuna sandwich and an ice tea to Orlean.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          Likes tuna, drinks ice tea. Good
          character details. Good stuff!

Orlean looks up from her magazine and smiles at the waitress.

                     ORLEAN
          Thanks.   Could I get some lemon please?

The waitress nods and leaves.   Kaufman scribbles.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          Likes lemon in tea and her voice is not
          at all what I imagined. Interesting!

EXT. SWAMP - NOON

Orlean follows Laroche. She watches him start off in one
direction, stop, start off another direction, then go
straight ahead. Orlean seems depressed.

                    ORLEAN
          Laroche, can I ask you a personal
          question?

Laroche turns and scowls at her.

                    LAROCHE
          We're not lost.

EXT. NYC STREET - DAY

Orlean window shops at a shoe store.   Kaufman takes notes.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                               82.
CONTINUED:


                       KAUFMAN (V.O.)
             Eyeing Stuart Weitzman pumps.    Okay.

Orlean heads down the street. Kaufman follows. She enters
the New Yorker building. Kaufman waits outside.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

The sun is hot. Laroche is twenty feet ahead of Orlean. She
watches him march forward with great authority. She massages
her eyebrows, leaving a residue of dirt on her face.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

Kaufman reviews his notes.       He is sweaty and wild-eyed.

                       KAUFMAN (V.O.)
             I have nothing. I am nothing.     I am fat.
             I am over. I am lost.

EXT. SWAMP    - LATER

The sun is high. Orlean and Laroche sit on dry ground. She
stares at him. Laroche won't look at her. He busies himself
opening the backpack and pulling out food. Finally, Laroche
speaks without looking up.

                       LAROCHE
             We're not lost.

Laroche takes out a cigarette, lights it.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             I'm just turned around a little.

He looks up at her, sees her staring at him. He pokes around
on the ground for something, comes up with a straight twig.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             A sundial. I'll just set this up, wait a
             few minutes, and we'll be able to tell
             which way the sun is moving. We want to
             be heading southeast.

Laroche sticks the twig into the ground, stares at it.

                        LAROCHE (cont'd)
             This is no big deal. You should eat
             something.

Orlean takes a cracker. This relaxes Laroche. He stretches
his legs, knocks over the twig. Without looking at Orlean,
he puts the twig back.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                            83.
CONTINUED:


                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             So do you collect anything?

                       ORLEAN
                 (non-responsive)
             Not really.

                       LAROCHE
             Well, y'know it's not really about
             collecting the thing, it's about --

                       ORLEAN
             The sundial isn't working.

Laroche looks down at it.

                       LAROCHE
             It is so working.

Orlean stares at the twig in the ground. She looks at
Laroche. Laroche smiles sheepishly at Orlean. Rage and
panic sweep across her face, her fists clench into balls.
Her eyes become wild, some dark fantasy plays out in her
brain. Laroche seems unaware.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             The thing about computers. The thing I
             like is that I'm immersed in it but it's
             not a living thing that's going to leave
             or die or something. I prefer having the
             minimum number of living things to worry
             about in my life.

Orlean's anger softens.    She looks sadly at Laroche.

                       ORLEAN
             So, John...

                       LAROCHE
             Okay, fuck the sundial. We'll just go
             straight and eventually we'll get there.

They rise.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
             What I mean is we'll get somewhere. Out
             of here. I mean, logically, we have to
             get out as long as we walk straight.

Laroche points them in a direction and they walk.

                                                             84.



INT. HOTEL ROOM - MORNING

Kaufman is sleeping. It looks like it's been a rough night.
The phone rings. He reaches for it.

                        KAUFMAN
          Hello?

                    JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
          Hey, it's Jerry. I woke you?

                    KAUFMAN
          No, it's okay.

                    JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
          How's it going? Has it been helpful to
          talk to the writer? What's her name?

                      KAUFMAN
          Yeah.    Susan Orlean.

                    JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
          Well, I mean, are you making headway?
          Valerie's breathing down my neck.

                    KAUFMAN
          You can't rush inspiration.   Y'know?

                    JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
          Okay, fine. Um, the other reason I'm
          calling is to tell you Me, Myself, and I
          is just amazing.

                    KAUFMAN
          What the hell is Me, Myself, and I?

                    JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
          Your brother's script. It's tight,
          inventive. A smart, edgy thriller. The
          best spec script I've read this year.

                        KAUFMAN
          Oh.   Good.

                    JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
          I'm gonna sell it for a shitload. Two
          fucking talented guys in one family.
          Y'know, maybe you could bring Donald on
          to help you finish the orchid thing.

                    KAUFMAN
          Jerry, don't say that.   I mean --


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             85.
CONTINUED:


                       JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
             Just a thought, buddy. He's really
             goddamn amazing at structure.

                       KAUFMAN
             Jerry, I gotta go. I have an
             appointment. I gotta go.

                       JERRY (TELEPHONE VOICE)
             Adios, buddy. Finish! Finish!

EXT. NYC STREETS (MONTAGE) - MORNING

Kaufman wanders. He eyes other sad-looking, balding,
overweight men wandering the streets also.

                       KAUFMAN (V.O.)
             I am fat. I can't write. I am
             repulsive. I am old. I have
             accomplished nothing. I am just one more
             old, fat, bald man on the street.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Laroche leads the way. There's a sadness, a sense of defeat
and humiliation that he tries to conceal. Orlean is stony.

                       LAROCHE
             I've done this a million times. Whenever
             everything's killing me, I just say to
             myself, screw it, and go straight ahead.

Laroche leads Orlean back into the brush.

EXT. NYC STREET - MORNING

Kaufman sees a white school building ahead, glowing in the
sun. He walks toward it.

INT. LOBBY - MORNING

The lobby of an auditorium, crowded with enthusiastic people
signing up for something. Kaufman waits in line.    He
watches the handsome guy ahead of him flirt with an
attractive female registrar. The guy moves on and the
attractive registrar looks without interest at Kaufman.

                       REGISTRAR
             May I help you?

Kaufman averts his eyes from her cool gaze; they come to rest
on a pile of McKee's book Story next to her.

                                                            86.



INT. AUDITORIUM - A BIT LATER

Kaufman sits in the packed room.   McKee paces the stage with
a mic clipped to his lapel.

                    MCKEE
          Years from now you'll be standing around
          a posh cocktail party congratulating
          yourself on how you spent an entire
          weekend locked in a room with an asshole,
          an opinionated arrogant asshole, for your
          art.

The audience laughs, except for Kaufman who looks pained.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I am pathetic. I am a loser.    I am fat.

                    MCKEE
          So... what is the substance of writing?
          Nothing as trivial as words is at the
          heart of this great art, my friends.

McKee continues to talk but his voice goes under.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          I have failed. I am panicked. I am fat.
          I have sold out. I am worthless. I...

                    MCKEE
          Literary talent is not enough. First,
          last, and always, the imperative is to
          tell a story.

Kaufman watches with disdain as people take notes.

                    MCKEE
          Twenty three hundred years ago, Aristotle
          said, when storytelling goes bad in a
          society, the result is decadence.
              (deadpan)
          Well, just look around you.

Everyone, except Kaufman, laughs giddily at McKee's joke.

                    MCKEE (cont'd)
          Aristotle also said: A story must have a
          beginning, a middle, and an end.

The students nod in appreciation at this profundity.

                                                            87.



INT. AUDITORIUM - LATER

McKee scribbles a diagram onto a transparency in an overhead
projector. It's some kind of complicated time-line with act-
breaks and corresponding page numbers indicated. The
audience members take copious notes. Kaufman sweats.

                    KAUFMAN (V.O.)
          It is my weakness, my ultimate lack of
          conviction that brings me here with all
          these desperate idiots lapping up
          everything this bag of wind spouts. Easy
          answers. Rules to short-cut yourself to
          success. And here I am, because my jaunt
          into the abyss brought me nothing. Well,
          isn't that the risk one takes for
          attempting something new. I should leave
          here right now. I'll start over --
              (starts to rise)
          I need to face this project head on and --

                    MCKEE
          ... and God help you if you use voice-
          over in your work, my friends.

Kaufman stops, looks up, startled.    McKee seems to be looking
at him.

                    MCKEE
          God fucking help you! It's flaccid,
          sloppy writing. Any idiot can write
          voice-over narration to explain the
          thoughts of a character. You must
          present the internal conflicts of your
          character in image, in symbol. Film is a
          medium of movement and image.

Kaufman looks around at people scribbling in notebooks. "Any
idiot..." writes the guy on one side of him. "Flaccid..."
writes the guy on the other side.

                    MCKEE (cont'd)
          Okay, one hour for lunch.

EXT. NYC STREET - A FEW MINUTES LATER

Students exit onto the street in small groups. Kaufman
wanders by himself. His face is troubled. There is no sound.

                                                           88.



INT. AUDITORIUM - LATER

McKee lectures. Kaufman sits and listens. A copy of
Aristotle's Poetics sits on his lap. The book features a
bust of Aristotle on the cover.

                    MCKEE
          You want your writing to be original.
          You want to have an original voice like
          Neil Simon or Nora Ephron. Well, let me
          tell you something, my friends. The key
          to originality is not eccentricity.

A guy behind Kaufman gives an appreciative "mmmm."

                                                 DISSOLVE TO:

INT. AUDITORIUM - LATER

It's late. The audience is tired, but still attentive. Now
Kaufman takes serious notes. McKee, energetic as ever, wears
his sweater tied around his shoulders. We stay firmly
planted on his face as he talks and talks.

                    MCKEE
          Long speechs are antithetical to the
          nature of cinema. The Greeks called it
          stykomythia -- the rapid exchange of
          ideas. A long speech in a script, say a
          page long, requires that the camera hold
          on the actor's face for a minute. Look
          at the second hand on your watch as it
          makes one complete rotation around the
          clock face and you'll get an idea of how
          intolerable that would be for an
          audience. The ontology of the screen is
          that it's always now and it's always
          action and it's always vivid. Life is
          rarely vivid. And that's an important
          point. We are not recreating life on the
          screen. Writers are not tape recorders.
          Have you ever eavesdropped on people
          talking in a coffee shop? Then you know
          how dull and tedious real conversation
          is. Real people are not interesting.
          There's not a person in this world -- and
          I include myself in this -- who would be
          interesting enough to take as is and put
          in a movie as a character.

                                                 DISSOLVE TO:

                                                             89.



INT. AUDITORIUM - LATER STILL

McKee faces the audience, holding a cup of coffee.

                    MCKEE
          Someone asked me recently, Bob, do you
          think Michelle Pfeiffer is pretty.

He pauses theatrically, sips his coffee, then:

                    MCKEE (cont'd)
              (deadpan)
          Michelle Pfeiffer is proof, my friends,
          that there's a fucking God.

The overtired audience breaks into uproarious laughter.
Kaufman, with dark circles under his eyes, giggles a little.

                    MCKEE (cont'd)
          Okay. That's it for tonight. Remember,
          there'll be a Q and A tomorrow morning
          before class starts.

INT. HOTEL - NIGHT

Kaufman tosses and turns in bed.

                                                    DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. DREAM-LIKE FIELD - DAY

The daguerreotype Darwin, the Aristotle sculpture, the Hegel
engraving, and the Orlean book jacket photo are alive and in
the middle of brutal and bloody fist fight.

INT. AUDITORIUM - MORNING

Kaufman, bleary-eyed, sits in the back.   McKee paces.

                    MCKEE
          Anyone else?

Kaufman timidly raises his hand.

                     MCKEE (cont'd)
          Yes?




                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            90.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          You talked about Crisis as the ultimate
          decision a character makes, but what if a
          writer is attempting to create a story
          where nothing much happens, where people
          don't change, they don't have any
          epiphanies. They struggle and are
          frustrated and nothing is resolved. More
          a reflection of the real world --

                    MCKEE
          The real world? The real fucking world?
          First of all, if you write a screenplay
          without conflict or crisis, you'll bore
          your audience to tears. Secondly:
          Nothing happens in the real world? Are
          you out of your fucking mind? People are
          murdered every day! There's genocide and
          war and corruption! Every fucking day
          somewhere in the world somebody
          sacrifices his life to save someone else!
          Every fucking day someone somewhere makes
          a conscious decision to destroy someone
          else! People find love! People lose it,
          for Christ's sake! A child watches her
          mother beaten to death on the steps of a
          church! Someone goes hungry! Somebody
          else betrays his best friend for a woman!
          If you can't find that stuff in life,
          then you, my friend, don't know much
          about life! And why the fuck are you
          taking up my precious two hours with your
          movie? I don't have any use for it! I
          don't have any bloody use for it!

                    KAUFMAN
          Okay, thanks.

EXT. NYC STREET - NIGHT

The last of the students are filing out. Kaufman waits,
leaning against the building. McKee emerges, carrying his
brown leather bag. A shaky, tired Kaufman approaches him.

                       KAUFMAN
          Mr. McKee?

                       MCKEE
          Yes?

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm the guy you yelled at this morning.


                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                           91.
CONTINUED:


                    MCKEE
              (trying to recall)
          I need more.

                    KAUFMAN
          I was the one who thought things didn't
          happen in life.

                    MCKEE
          Oh, right, okay.    Nice to see you.

                    KAUFMAN
          I need to talk.

                    MCKEE
          I make it a rule not to give private
          tutorials to my seminar students. It
          wouldn't be fair to the others.

                    KAUFMAN
          Mr. McKee, please. My even standing here
          is very scary. I don't meet people well.
          I'm self-conscious and timid. But what
          you said this morning shook me to the
          bone. What you said was bigger than my
          screenwriting choices. It's about my
          choices as a human being. Please.

McKee hesitates for a moment, then reaches out and puts his
arm around Kaufman.

                    MCKEE
          I could use a drink, my friend.

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Laroche and Orlean slog through the water with purpose,
looking only straight ahead. As they walk the sounds and
colors become subdued. Soon there is silence.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          We turned to the right and saw only more
          cypress and palm and sawgrass

They turn left and see metal flashing in the sunlight.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
          So we turned to the left, and there, far
          down the diagonal of the levee, we could
          see the gleam of a fender. We followed
          it like a beacon all the way to the road.

Orlean and Laroche walk toward the car.

                                                               92.



INT. BAR - NIGHT

Kaufman and McKee sit at a table with beers.   Kaufman reads
from his copy of The Orchid Thief.

                    KAUFMAN
          ... We followed it like a beacon all the
          way to the road.

Kaufman closes the book.   There's a pause.

                    MCKEE
          Then what happens?

                    KAUFMAN
          That's the book. I wanted to present it
          simply, without big character arcs or
          sensationalizing the story. I wanted to
          show flowers as God's miracles.   I
          wanted to show that Orlean never saw the
          blooming ghost orchid. It's about
          disappointment.

                    MCKEE
          I see. That's not a movie.     You must go
          back and put in the drama.

                    KAUFMAN
              (pause)
          I've got pages of false starts and wrong
          approaches. I'm way past my deadline. I
          can't go back.

                    MCKEE
          Ah, the everpresent deadline. Yes, I was
          doing a Kojak once and... it was hell.

McKee sips his beer, eyes Kaufman.

                    MCKEE (cont'd)
          Tell you a secret. The last act makes
          the film. You can have an uninvolving,
          tedious movie, but wow them at the end,
          and you've got a hit. Find an ending.
          Use what you've learned this weekend.
          Give them that and you'll be fine.

Tears form in Kaufman's eyes.

                    KAUFMAN
          You promise?

McKee smiles.   Kaufman hugs him.   McKee recognizes his bulk.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                                93.
CONTINUED:


                       MCKEE
             You've taken my course before?

                       KAUFMAN
             My brother did. My twin brother Donald.
             He's the one who got me to come.

                       MCKEE
             Twin screenwriters. Julius and Philip
             Epstein,who wrote Casablanca were twins.

                       KAUFMAN
             You mentioned that in class.

                       MCKEE
             The finest screenplay ever written.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

A drunken Kaufman paces, tries to read Story. McKee's Ten
Commandments are taped to the wall. As is a photo of
Michelle Pfeiffer ripped from a magazine.

                       KAUFMAN (V.O.)
             Climax. A revolution in values from
             positive to negative or negative to
             positive with or without irony -- a value
             swing at maximum charge that's absolute
             and irreversible.

Kaufman is lost.       He rubs his temples.   He dials the phone.

                       DONALD (PHONE VOICE)
             Great writers residence.

                         KAUFMAN
             Donald.

                       DONALD (PHONE VOICE)
             Hey, how's the trip? Gettin' it on with
             that lady journalist? You dog you!

                       KAUFMAN
             Yeah. Listen, I'm calling to say
             congratulations on your script.

                       DONALD (PHONE VOICE)
             Isn't that cool? Jerry says he can make
             me, like, high-sixes against a mill-five.

                       KAUFMAN
             That's great, Donald.


                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                             94.
CONTINUED:


                    DONALD (PHONE VOICE)
          I want to thank you for all your help.

                    KAUFMAN
          I wasn't any help.

                    DONALD (PHONE VOICE)
          C'mon, you let me stay in your place and
          your integrity inspired me to even try.

                    KAUFMAN
          Well, look, I've been thinking, maybe
          you'd be interested in hanging out with
          me in New York for a few days.

                    DONALD (PHONE VOICE)
          Oh my God, yes! I'm flattered!

INT. HOTEL ROOM - MORNING

Donald lies on his back on the floor intently reading the
script. Kaufman paces. Donald finishes, is quiet.

                    KAUFMAN
          So, like, what would you do?

                    DONALD
          Script kind of makes fun of me, huh?

                     KAUFMAN
          Sorry.   I was trying something.   I --

                    DONALD
          Hey, I don't mind.   It's funny.

                      KAUFMAN
          Okay.    So, what would you do?

                    DONALD
          You and me are so different, Charles.
          We're different talents.

                    KAUFMAN
          I know. Just for fun. How would the
          great Donald end this script?

                    DONALD
              (giggling)
          The great Donald.
              (serious)
          Well, I mean... do you need the whole
          court case?


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             95.
CONTINUED:


                   KAUFMAN
         Uh, it's what happened to Laroche.   It's
         kind of important.

                   DONALD
         It's boring. No offense. A courtroom
         scene should be dramatic. Stick the
         ruling in a line of dialogue, maybe.

                       KAUFMAN
         Um.   Okay.

                   DONALD
         Too much about orchids. Get rid of it.
         Pare that stuff down to a minimum.
         Frankly, I'd focus more on the
         relationship between the brothers. I
         think that's the gold here. No one cares
         about orchids.

                   KAUFMAN
         The book's about orchids.

                   DONALD
         That's a problem. But don't let it ruin
         the movie. I mean, for example, use the
         orchids in a more dramatic way. Have
         some kind of bang-up, crazy action
         sequence in the swamp. Use the swamp
         better. It's a tremendous fictional
         world. A setting of great dramatic
         possibility.

                    KAUFMAN
          That's true. But --

                   DONALD
         And put some twists in. Reveal some
         surprising thing about Laroche. God,
         what am I doing giving suggestions to
         you? I mean you're like a seasoned
         professional. You're an artist.

                   KAUFMAN
         C'mon, you're the "mill-five" kid.

                   DONALD
             (enjoying this)
         Shut up!
             (thinks)
         I love the Laroche porno web-site stuff.
         Is that real? Maybe make a bigger deal
         of that. I don't know.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            96.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    KAUFMAN
          I think it's real.   I haven't actually
          seen the site.

                    DONALD
          It's sex, man! Incorporate it.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

The front door opens and Kaufman enters. The lights are off,
but the room is aglow with light from Donald's laptop
computer. Kaufman sees a silhouetted Donald masturbating in
front of the computer. Donald looks up, caught.

                    DONALD
          Oh, hi, I was doing some research.   I
          found Laroche's site and... I'm
          embarrassed.

                    KAUFMAN
          Jesus, Donald.

Kaufman passes Donald, glances at the grainy nude on the
screen. He's stunned. It's Orlean smiling at him.

                    DONALD
          What? She's kinda cute. You don't like
          her? I dunno, I think she's okay. It's
          not like I'm marrying her.

Kaufman shows Donald Orlean's book jacket photo.

                     DONALD (cont'd)
          Oh, wow.   That's kind of a twist, huh?

                     KAUFMAN
          Jesus.   Jesus!

                    DONALD
          I think this is maybe a good thing for
          the script. Go ask her about this.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm not gonna ask her about this.

                    DONALD
          You want me to? I don't mind.

                    KAUFMAN
          No, I don't want you to.

                    DONALD
          I could easily pretend I'm you.

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                                97.
CONTINUED:


                       KAUFMAN
          No!    No!

INT. NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING - DAY

Donald, dressed like Kaufman, waits by the elevators. Orlean
emerges. He's about to talk to her, when she pulls out a
cell phone and dials. Donald decides to be a spy and follows
her out of the building.

EXT. NEW YORK OFFICE BUILDING - CONTINUOUS

Orlean talks on the phone.       Donald trails close behind her.

                       ORLEAN
             So you'll pick me up?    Yeah, tomorrow.

Orlean stops to look in a shoe store window. Donald stops
and looks in the window also. Orlean doesn't notice him.

                       ORLEAN (cont'd)
             Ten-twenty. TWA. Yes, of course I will.

Donald walks off.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

Donald is focused on the computer. Kaufman sits in a chair
in the corner. Both men are in pajamas.

                       KAUFMAN
             What was she wearing?

                       DONALD
             I don't know. Like a dress maybe.

                       KAUFMAN
             Did she look at me?    At you?

                    DONALD
          Finally! Da-da-da-daaaaah! S. Orlean,
          TWA flight 651. Arriving Miami 10:20
          tomorrow morning.

Donald turns and smiles across the room to Kaufman.

                    KAUFMAN
          I don't want to do this, Donald.

                    DONALD
          We'll go together.       It'll be good.



                                                        (CONTINUED)

                                                             98.
CONTINUED:


Kaufman looks squeamish. Donald picks up a hairbrush, holds
it to his mouth. He starts to sing "Happy Together."
Kaufman smiles sheepishly, shrugs Donald off. Donald
persists. Finally Kaufman joins in. They do the whole
number and fall laughing into each other's arms.

EXT. MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - DAY

Orlean waits with a suitcase outside the terminal. The beat-
up white van pulls up. Orlean gets in, the van speeds off.
Another car pulls away from the curb and follows it.

INT. CAR - A BIT LATER

Donald drives, keeping up with the van, which speeds and
swerves through traffic. Kaufman is sweaty, nervous.

                     KAUFMAN
          It's so weird to actually see that van in
          real life.

                    DONALD
          So you want to build the symbolic charge
          of the story's imagery from the
          particular to the universal. Okay?

                    KAUFMAN
          Okay, but when you're creating an image
          system, how do you know --

EXT. SUBURBAN STREET - LATER

The van pulls into the driveway of a neat, middle-class
house. Kaufman and Donald drive by, in time to see Orlean
and Laroche emerge from the van. Orlean seems different now:
more exotic. She's wearing some kind of sexy sarong. Donald
drives up the street, parks, gets out of the car, and watches
as Laroche lugs Orlean's suitcase into the house.

                    DONALD
          I'll get a closer look.   You wait here.

                    KAUFMAN
              (momentously)
          No, I want to go. I should go. I mean,
          it should be me, right? I mean...

                    DONALD
          Go for it, bro. You the man.

Kaufman gets out of the car. Donald gets in, peruses
Kaufman's script. Kaufman walks past the house, trying to
peer in windows. He sees nothing. He slinks around back.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                               99.
CONTINUED:

In the yard, Kaufman finds a greenhouse.    It's filled with
row upon row of ghost orchids.

                       KAUFMAN
          Holy...

There's movement in a window in the house.    Kaufman ducks.

                    LAROCHE (O.S.)
          Darlin', I dunno what's come over you!

Kaufman crawls over to the house, lifts his face to the
window. Orlean and Laroche are laughing, kissing, groping,
and undressing each other. Kaufman is heartbroken but
transfixed. Suddenly Laroche locks eyes with Kaufman.

                    ORLEAN
          Don't stop, Johnny.

Laroche jumps up and runs naked to the back door.

                    ORLEAN (CONT'D)
          Johnny! Where are you going?

Kaufman makes a mad dash around the side of the house.
Laroche cuts him off, grabs him, drags him into the house.

INT. HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

Laroche throws Kaufman down into a chair. The chair slides
across the floor, tips over. Orlean seems uninterested. She
kisses Laroche's leg.

                    LAROCHE
          Who the hell are you?

Kaufman notices Laroche has a set of beautiful, white teeth.

                    KAUFMAN
          I just... nobody, I just --

Laroche shakes Orlean off his leg, kicks Kaufman in the gut.

                       LAROCHE
             Who the fuck are you?

                       KAUFMAN
             Um. I'm just. I was at the wrong house.
             I'm looking for the Johnson family.

                       LAROCHE
             I got your Johnson family right here.



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                                100.
CONTINUED:


Laroche kicks Kaufman in the head.     Orlean kisses Laroche's
back. Kaufman whimpers.

                    ORLEAN
          Honey, come back to bed.

                    LAROCHE
          Who the hell sent you?      Rudy?

                       KAUFMAN
          I'm not --

Again Laroche kicks Kaufman in the head.      His scalp bleeds.

                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          I'm the screenwriter.

                    LAROCHE
          What the fuck does that mean?

                     KAUFMAN
          I'm the guy adapting her book.      Her book
          about you.

This registers with Laroche.

                    LAROCHE
          Jesus Fucking Christ.
              (then, trying to make sense)
          Why the fuck were you in my backyard?

                    KAUFMAN
          I was, um, trying... I don't know.

Orlean is unforgiving.

                    ORLEAN
          Who's the bloody fat guy?

                    LAROCHE
          This is the fellow adapting your book for
          the movies, darling'.

                    ORLEAN
              (excited)
          Really? I wanted to meet --
              (realizing)
          Oh. What does he know?

                       KAUFMAN
             I don't know anything.   I swear.



                                                         (CONTINUED)

                                                            101.
CONTINUED: (2)


                    LAROCHE
          He knows about the greenhouse.
              (to Orlean)
          We can't have this appear on the silver
          screen.

                      KAUFMAN
          It won't.    I don't even under --

                    ORLEAN
          Johnny, I'm so tired now.

Orlean lies down.   Laroche paces.   Donald peers, unseen, into
the back window.

                    LAROCHE
          He needs to be gotten rid of.

                      KAUFMAN
          What?!

Donald's eyes widen. Laroche paces. Orlean watches Laroche,
fascinated by his every muscle movement.

                    LAROCHE
          Small article in newspaper.

Orlean snaps out of her muscle fixation, becomes fixated on
his voice, his lips.

                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Screenwriter doing research for movie
          about notorious orchid poacher was found
          drowned in the Fakahatchee after
          accidentally slipping and hitting his
          head on a rock. End of story. Is that
          credible from a journalistic standpoint?

                    ORLEAN
          Johnny, come lie on top of me.

                    LAROCHE
          Focus, darling'. Is this credible?

                     ORLEAN
               (concentrates)
          Um, oh... this screenwriter was killed
          doing research in Jamaica a few years
          ago.
               (to Kaufman)
          Screenwriter, you have a car?



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            102.
CONTINUED: (3)


                    KAUFMAN
          I, um, no, I --

Laroche gets ready to kick him again.

                    KAUFMAN (cont'd)
          A rental, a rental.

                    ORLEAN
          We drive his car there, leave it on the
          side of the swamp. That works.

                     LAROCHE
          Good.   I like that.

                    ORLEAN
              (to Kaufman)
          Sorry.

                     KAUFMAN
          Please.

Donald disappears from the window.

INT. RENTAL CAR - BEFORE DAWN

Kaufman drives. The headlights shine on Laroche's van ahead.
Orlean, no longer stoned, sits next to him, holding a gun.
She skims Kaufman's screenplay.

                     KAUFMAN
          I thought I had a sense of you from your
          book.
              (beat)
          I had a little crush on you, to tell the
          truth. You're different than I thought.

                     ORLEAN
          Huh.

                    KAUFMAN
          Look, I don't care what you two are you
          doing.   Please don't kill me.

                    ORLEAN
          Hey, here's one of my lines.
              (mockingly reading from screen)
          "Isn't it ironic? You adapting my book?
          My three years in Florida meditating on
          my inability to experience passion
          resulted in my finding it with you."



                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            103.
CONTINUED:


                    KAUFMAN
          I was trying to do something.

                    ORLEAN
          Well, it's kind of pathetic, dontcha
          think?

They drive in silence.    Orlean reads more of the screenplay.

                    ORLEAN
          Here's me! Here's me again!
              (mocking)
          "I wanted to know what it's like to care
          about something passionately."

Orlean laughs derisively.

                    KAUFMAN
          You can laugh, but I didn't make that
          line up. That's a quote from your book.

                    ORLEAN
          Yeah, I know, Charlie-boy. Chill. I'm
          laughing at who I used to be. It's sad.

                    KAUFMAN
          So now you learned about passion.
              (jealous)
          From Weirdo Laroche. Bully for you.

                    ORLEAN
          You can't learn about passion. You can
          be passion. And it wasn't John who made
          me passion. It was orchids.

                    KAUFMAN
          I thought you didn't even like orchids.

                    ORLEAN
          I lied about what happened at the end of
          the book. On the way out of the swamp...

EXT. SWAMP - DAY

Laroche leads Orlean through the swamp. He spots something
on a tree, circles it, and stands there, awestruck. Orlean
comes around and sees a beautiful ghost orchid hanging from
the tree.

                       LAROCHE
             The jewel of the Fakahatchee.

Orlean looks at it, tries to feel some passion for it, can't.

                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             104.
CONTINUED:


                    ORLEAN
          I still don't get it. I mean, there it
          is. I can see it's pretty, but --

                    LAROCHE
          You'll get it.

Laroche pulls a saw from his bag and cuts the branch.

INT. BASEMENT - DAY

There's a makeshift lab. Laroche is extracting some gooey
substance from the nectary.

                    ORLEAN (V.O.)
          Back in John's basement he explained his
          real plans for the ghost. He'd
          discovered a chemical inside with
          psychoactive properties. His plan had
          always been to clone the flower and make
          a fortune marketing this drug. It was
          Laroche's kind of plan, it wasn't a
          controlled substance because the
          government didn't know it existed.

INT. LAROCHE'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Orlean nervously snorts some green powder off the coffee
table while Laroche watches. She talks to the camera.

                    ORLEAN
          The first time I tried it, the split
          second it took effect, I understood
          orchids. I loved them with a passion I'd
          never felt for anything. For anyone.

The drug takes effect and Orlean turns away from us, becomes
fixated on the ghost orchid sitting on the table before her.
She smells it, caresses it, cries at its beauty.

INT. RENTAL CAR - BEFORE DAWN

                       ORLEAN
             Isn't it curious? An orchid made me
             passionate about orchids.

                       KAUFMAN
             You're throwing the truth away for a
             chemical confusion of your synapses --

                       ORLEAN
             With this powder I am passionate about
             everything.
                       (MORE)
                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                              105.
CONTINUED:
                     ORLEAN (cont'd)
          I'm alive in a profound world now. It
          sizzles with beauty and horror and sex.
          Now writing is -- words are -- a way to
          remove yourself from passion. So I'm
          done with writing. John and I are making
          a fortune with this extract. It's big in
          the Miami club scene. We call it
          "Passion."
              (giggles)
          Isn't that cute?

Up ahead, Laroche turns off the road at the Fakahatchee sign.

                    ORLEAN (cont'd)
          Follow him, please.

EXT. JANES SCENIC DRIVE - A LITTLE WHILE LATER

Laroche parks. Kaufman parks behind him. Orlean gestures
with her gun for him to get out. As Kaufman comes around the
car, he sees Donald on the floor of the back seat. Laroche
emerges from his van with a flashlight and a rifle slung over
his shoulder. Orlean prods Kaufman to follow him. Kaufman
shakes and whimpers as they all step down into the thigh-high
water. They slog through silently. Laroche stops.

                    LAROCHE
          This spot looks good.
              (thinking aloud)
          Now how do we do this? Hit him in the
          head with a rock first? Keeping in mind
          we can only hit him once and only with as
          much force as would be created by him
          slipping and falling onto the rock.

Laroche paces. Orlean finds a place to sit on a hammock.
She unwraps a small square of paper and snorts something out
of it. Kaufman shivers. Orlean's drugs kick in.

                       ORLEAN
             Holy Jesus. Holy...   Hey, baby, hey...

Orlean trails off.    Laroche talks to the spaced out Orlean.

                       LAROCHE
             Should we drown him, then hit him on the
             head? Uh-uh. A body bleeds different if
             the heart's stopped. These new forensic
             guys are very smart. We really have to
             know our corpses to stand a chance: rigor
             mortis, lividity, putrefecation, ocular
             changes.
                       (MORE)


                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                                106.
CONTINUED:
                    LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Maybe you think we hit him on the head
          and force water into his lungs after he's
          dead? No, darlin'. They'll know he
          didn't drown. See, contrary to popular
          belief, the lungs do not -- do not --
          fill with water in a drowning. What
          happens is, choking causes an irritation
          of the mucous membranes. This creates a
          shitload of mucus in the windpipe.
          Efforts to breathe turn the mucus into a
          sticky foam which may or may not mix with
          vomit. It's the presence of this white
          foam that indicates drowning. There's a
          lot to be aware of, Susie. Shoeprints,
          hair, microscopic fibers. Tire tracks.
          They all tell a tale to today's forensic
          scientists.
              (to Kaufman)
          What do you think? You're a writer. How
          would you do it? What's a good way to
          kill somebody?

                    KAUFMAN
          I don't write this kind of bullshit.

                    LAROCHE
          Don't get all huffy, I was simply --

Suddenly Laroche gets whacked in the back, flies forward into
the water. Orlean looks up, spaced.    She's confused by a
second Kaufman standing there with a bag of potting soil.
Donald grabs Kaufman and they run back toward the road.

Laroche pulls himself from the water.

                       LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Fuck!

                       ORLEAN
                 (receptively)
             Yeah, let's, baby.

She staggers moonily toward Laroche.      He pushes her away.

                       LAROCHE
             Not now. We got to kill that guy. And
             now I guess that other guy as well.

                       ORLEAN
                 (disappointed)
             Ohhh.

                                                            107.



INT. CAR - CONTINUOUS

Kaufman and Donald speed along the swamp road.

                    KAUFMAN
          For Christ's sake, why didn't you do
          something while we were in the car?

                    DONALD
          My back had seized.     I couldn't move.

Laroche's van pulls close to them and rams them from behind.

                    KAUFMAN
          Shit!

It rams them again, this time sending them down into the
swamp. The van stops. Donald tries to back the car onto the
road; the wheels just spin. Laroche steps out of the van.

                    DONALD
          We've gotta ditch this thing.

                    KAUFMAN
              (hysterical)
          It's a rental! It's a rental!

                    DONALD
          Now!

Kaufman and Donald climb from the car, make their way deep
into the swamp. Laroche follows them in on foot, dragging
Orlean, who is admiring all the plant life.

                    ORLEAN
          That's beautiful! What's that, Johnny?
          What's that one called? I just so want
          to fuck that flower, don't you?

                    LAROCHE
          Asclepias lanceolata. Red milkweed.
          Extremely fuckable. But we don't have
          time.

Laroche shoots at the brothers.    Kaufman whines.

                    LAROCHE
              (to Orlean)
          What's his name?

                    ORLEAN
          Um, y'know... Charlie or something.


                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                           108.
CONTINUED:


                    LAROCHE
          Charlie! Listen, let's talk! This pie
          is big enough for four people!
              (to Orlean)
          Why are there two of him?

Orlean shrugs.

                    ORLEAN
          Identical twigs?
              (laughs crazily)
          Did I say twigs? I meant twins.

Kaufman and Donald run through a colony of sawgrass. It
slices them like razor blades. Kaufman yells in pain. Blood
oozes through their shirts and pants.

                    LAROCHE
          Cladium jamaicense, guys. Sawgrass. You
          want to watch out for that. That's some
          evil shit. Cut you up.

                    KAUFMAN
          Fuck you, Laroche!

                    LAROCHE
          Just tryin' to be helpful. Walk with us
          and I'll be sure you avoid all the
          pitfalls. I know these swamps forwards
          and backwards. There's alligators and
          poisonous snakes, fellas. Wild hogs.

Kaufman and Donald are stopped by a large body of water.
Nowhere to go. Laroche and Orlean close in. The brothers
run along the periphery of the lake. Donald stops.

                     DONALD
          Wait.   Do you hear something?

Kaufman stops, hears a distant galloping and squealing.

                    KAUFMAN
          Donald, that sounds bad.

The brothers run in the opposite direction. The galloping
gets louder. It's wild pigs. Donald spots an airboat on the
shore. They jump onto it, search hysterically in the dark
for bow to start it.   The pigs get closer. Laroche and
Orlean get closer. Donald finds a button, presses it, the
engine starts. They pull away from the shore just as the
pigs catch up. One pig leaps on board, squealing. Kaufman
kicks at it as Donald attempts to steer the boat. A kick
connects and the pig flies into the water.

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                           109.
CONTINUED: (2)

Laroche stands at the shoreline and fires his rifle. It
nicks the boat. Donald looks back and the boat heads for a
cypress stand.

                    KAUFMAN
          Watch out, watch out, watch out!

Donald gets the boat back on course. Laroche and Orlean have
been left far behind. Donald slows the boat.

                    DONALD
          I think we're okay.

Suddenly Laroche's van comes tearing around a corner and
speeds along the road at the water's edge. Orlean shoots at
the boat from the van window.

                      DONALD (cont'd)
          Hold on!

Donald speeds up. The van keeps up, the shooting continues.
Bullets whiz. Kaufman puts his head in his hands. A bullet
hits the airboat's gas tank. It explodes in a ball of flame,
illuminating the whole swamp. Kaufman and Donald are thrown,
along with flaming pieces of debris. Donald treads water,
looks all around for Kaufman.

                      DONALD (cont'd)
          Charles?!    Charles?! Where are you?

Underwater. A dazed Kaufman tries to get his bearings. The
murky lake bottom is lit a dim orange by the fire on the
surface. An alligator appears. Kaufman panics, surfaces.

On the surface, Donald spots Kaufman pop out of the water,
then get jerked back down. Donald dives.

Underwater. The alligator violently shakes Kaufman by the
leg. Donald surfaces, comes back down with a broken
propeller blade. He hacks the alligator's head off, grabs
Kaufman, and brings him to the surface.

Donald swims to shore with Kaufman in tow.    Another shot is
fired. It skims the water near Kaufman.

                     KAUFMAN
          Fuck!   Fuck, Donald, we're dead.

                    DONALD
          We're okay. How's your leg?

                    KAUFMAN
          I don't know. How's your back.


                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                           110.
CONTINUED: (3)


                       DONALD
          It's fine.     My back is fine.

Laroche and Orlean circle the lake in the van, shooting.

Mike Owen, in pajamas, leaves his house, jumps in his truck
and agitatedly drives toward the noise and flames.

Donald makes it to shore. He climbs out and is helping
Kaufman, when he gets hit by a bullet and falls.

                       KAUFMAN
          Donald!

Kaufman sloshes to shore. His right leg is bloody and
mangled. He lifts his brother's head onto his lap.

                    KAUFMAN
          You're gonna be okay.

                    DONALD
          No.  But don't let them get you, too.
              (weak smile)
          You got a fucking awesome third act.

                    KAUFMAN
              (crying)
          Donald, this is an awful, bizarre thing
          to say and an awful time to say it, but
          I'm sorry I didn't get to know you
          better. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.

                    DONALD
          It's really... You've been really nice.

                    KAUFMAN
          See, it's just I thought I knew you
          already. I thought you were me. And I
          hated me.

Donald touches Kaufman's face. Kaufman looks at his brother.
Donald's face glows radiantly in the fire light.

                    DONALD
          Well, don't do that anymore.      Okay?

                       KAUFMAN
          Okay.

Donald dies. Kaufman screams heavenward. The van appears
out of the bush, barreling for them. Kaufman rolls his
brother out of the way, and limps off into a slough. The van
follows, smashes into a tree, and comes to a halt.

                                                    (CONTINUED)

                                                                 111.
CONTINUED: (4)

Smoke pours from the grill and is lit by the headlights.         Out
of the smoke, Laroche and Orlean appear with guns. They
follow Kaufman into the swamp.

Mike Owen pulls next to the disabled van. He gets out,
surveys the mess, sees bloody Donald on the ground.

                    MIKE OWEN
          Jesus, that writer guy.

Owen grabs his C.B., tries to radio for help. It's broken.
He lifts Donald into the back of the truck and speeds off.

Kaufman limps through the dark water.       Laroche and Orlean
follow the sound of his sloshing.

                    ORLEAN
          Water sounds so sparkly. Like lemon
          plastic jewels plopping onto a silver
          trampoline! Dontcha think?

                    LAROCHE
          Darlin', please.

                    ORLEAN
          Can we fuck now, baby?    Fuck like lemons?

Owen tears along the dirt road. Up ahead, Kaufman limps out
of the swamp, into the truck's headlights. Owen is confused.
He checks the back to see if Donald's body is still there and
skids off the road into the swamp. Kaufman hurriedly limps
over to the disabled truck. Owen climbs out.

                    KAUFMAN
          You gotta help me.    You gotta help me.

                    MIKE OWEN
          What the hell is going on here?

                    KAUFMAN
          They're after me. They've got guns.
          They killed my brother.

                    MIKE OWEN
          Who's got guns? What are you --

Before Owen finishes, his truck is flipped over. Donald's
body flies into the water. There, staring Kaufman and Owen
down, is a giant man-like beast. It's repulsive, covered in
algae-matted fur.

                       MIKE OWEN (cont'd)
          Holy shit.


                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                            112.
CONTINUED: (5)


The two men turn and run.

                       MIKE OWEN (cont'd)
          It's real!     I can't believe it, I never --

The creature grabs Owen and snaps his neck like a toothpick.
Kaufman screams as he runs, watches over his shoulder. He
runs right into the arms of Orlean.

                    ORLEAN
          Hey, it's the screenwriter!

                    KAUFMAN
          There's a thing back there!    You don't
          want to be here.

Kaufman, Orlean, and Laroche look back. Nothing there.

                    LAROCHE
          You're right, I don't want to be here.
          I'm tired, let's get this over with.

Laroche puts the gun to Kaufman's head. Kaufman tenses.
Orlean studies Laroche's gun. Her nose is practically
touching the barrel.

                    ORLEAN
          I love your gun, baby.    Can we trade?

                    LAROCHE
          Stand back, sweetness.

Laroche reaches for Orlean's arm to pull her away. Suddenly
the creature grabs Laroche, pulls him into the swamp.

                     LAROCHE (cont'd)
          Susie!   Susie!

Orlean looks around.

                    ORLEAN
          Where'd Johnny go?

                       LAROCHE (O.S.)
          Susie!

Orlean, agitated and disoriented, fires repeatedly into the
darkness. Something slumps forward in the water. Orlean
steps cautiously over, keeping her gun on Kaufman. The
creature is dead, so is Laroche.




                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                            113.
CONTINUED: (6)


                    ORLEAN
              (crying softly)
          Oh, Johnny.

She sits next to Laroche and pets his head.   Kaufman watches
her. The sun is coming up.

                    KAUFMAN
          I'd just stare at your picture, and you
          looked so sweet. I read your words and I
          thought you were smart and maybe lost and
          lonely like me. And the way you wrote
          about Laroche. You said he was handsome
          even though he had no front teeth --

                    ORLEAN
          Oh, Johnny. Johnny's teeth.     Oh...

                    KAUFMAN
          I figured you could look at me and see
          something, even with all my flaws you
          could look at me and find something, you
          could maybe someday write a description
          of me that would be nicer than the one I
          write day in and day out in my head.
              (hopefully)
          Would it be?

Kaufman takes Orlean's chin in his hand and directs her gaze
to him. She stares at him for a long while, then:

                    ORLEAN
          You're really so wonderful.

                    KAUFMAN
          Really?

                    ORLEAN
          So wonderful. I can see inside your
          soul. It glows with orange sadness.
          It's raining inside you. I want to run
          through your dripply dripples. It's so
          beautiful. I love you. I do.

Kaufman lets go of her face and sits on a rock.

                    KAUFMAN
          It's the drugs.

Orlean stands and walks toward Kaufman.




                                                     (CONTINUED)

                                                             114.
CONTINUED: (7)


                    ORLEAN
          No, it's me. It's the real me. Look at
          you. I just want to hold you and -- Oh,
          crap, it's wearing off. Crap!

She paces, unfolds her little square of paper.

                       ORLEAN (cont'd)
          I'm out.     I'm fucking cleaned out.

Kaufman watches her for a moment.

                       KAUFMAN
          Okay, bye.

                    ORLEAN
          I can't let you go, fatty.    I can't let
          you make this public.

Kaufman keeps walking.

                    ORLEAN (cont'd)
          You hear me? You pathetic, fat, bald...
          You don't even know how to write! You're
          not even... You're not leaving here!
              (screaming, crying)
          I need a fix! Everything's so ugly!

Orlean screams in anguish. Kaufman keeps walking. Orlean
shakily aims the gun at his back. She shoots. Kaufman
falls, gets up, keeps walking. She aims again through her
tears. Suddenly she's pounced on by a bloody, soaking wet
figure. Kaufman turns.

                       KAUFMAN
          Donald!

Kaufman limps back.    Donald and Orlean roll on the ground.

                    DONALD
          My brother is not fat. He's not bald.
          My brother is a great writer! He was
          trying to do something important!

The gun fires. Orlean slumps over Donald. Kaufman arrives.
Both Donald and Orlean are dead. Kaufman falls to his knees.

EXT. SWAMP - MORNING

The sun is high. Fires smoulder. A tow-truck extricates one
of the crashed vehicles. State police cars, ambulances,
ranger trucks abound. Kaufman is wrapped in a blanket.


                                                      (CONTINUED)

                                                              115.
CONTINUED:

He is with a cop and pointing to the bodies spread on a black
plastic tarp.

                    KAUFMAN
          That's Mike Owen. John Laroche. Susan
          Orlean. I don't know what that is. I
          think it might be a Swamp Ape. And
          that's Donald, my twin brother. He saved
          my life.

Kaufman cries a little.    The cop waits sympathetically, then:

                    POLICE OFFICER
          You two really look alike.

                    KAUFMAN
              (proudly)
          Yeah. Yes, we do.

INT. CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - DAY

Kaufman sits in a booth, working longhand on a legal pad.
He's a little scraped-up, a little tougher. A copy of Story
by McKee is among his reference material. Alice, the
waitress, walks by and glances at the table.

                    ALICE
          Oh, I love McKee!
              (recognizes Kaufman, gets
               reserved)
          Oh, hi. Haven't seen you in a while.

                      KAUFMAN
          Hi.    Yeah, I've been away.

                    ALICE
          So you studying screenwriting?

                    KAUFMAN
          I'm actually finishing one up.

                    ALICE
          Good for you! Me too. God, it's so hard
          to get in, huh? Everyone and their
          brother is writing a screenplay.

                       KAUFMAN
             Yeah. Actually I'm writing this one for
             Sony Pictures.

                        ALICE
             Really? Wow. Really?   That's so cool.
                 (beat)
                        (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

                                                           116.
CONTINUED:
                       ALICE (cont'd)
             Wow! So what's it about, if you don't
             mind my asking?

                       KAUFMAN
             That's tough. Let's see... about being
             yourself, maybe. It's about learning
             that if you can't love yourself, you
             can't really love anyone.

                       ALICE
             That's true. God, that's so true.     It's
             such an important message, y'know?

                       KAUFMAN
             See, my twin brother was murdered
             recently --

                         ALICE
             Oh God!    I'm sorry.   That's so horrible.

                      KAUFMAN
             Thanks. Like part of me ripped away.
             Forever. It was a wake up call.

                       ALICE
             I'm so sorry. You poor man.

                       KAUFMAN
             Anyway, it helped put things in
             perspective. Life is a miracle. All
             life, from the flower to the human being.
             You. Me. And I want to show people
             that. For my brother. For everyone.

There's a pause.       Alice just stares at him, in awe.

                       ALICE
             Listen, do you mind if I sit for a sec?

                       KAUFMAN
             But you're working.

                       ALICE
                 (shrugs)
             It's a stupid job, y'know.    I'm Alice.

                         KAUFMAN
             Charlie.

                       ALICE
             I like that name. Charlie. I've always
             really liked that name. Charlie.

Alice smiles, sits.      The two of them begin to talk.

                                                         117.



EXT. SPACE - NIGHT

SUBTITLE: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, FIVE BILLION AND FORTY YEARS
LATER

An enormous chunk of rock, dimly lit by faraway stars, floats
by. Silence.

                                                FADE TO BLACK.

WHITE TEXT ON BLACK SCREEN:




    "Let me have men about me that are fat;
    Sleek-headed men and such that sleep o'
    nights."
                        - William Shakespeare



       In Loving Memory of Donald Kaufman




                     THE END


Adaptation



Writers :   Charlie Kaufman  Donald Kaufman
Genres :   Comedy  Drama


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