Sling Blade - by by Billy Bob Thornton
INT. A MENTAL HOSPITAL - DAY
A few patients sit around fumbling with themselves. One man
sits at a table scratching back and forth on a piece of paper
with a crayon. Another stands in a corner smoking a cigarette
and staring at the crayon guy. This is CHARLES. Another man,
KARL, sits in a chair staring at the floor and rubbing his
hands together. We cut back and forth between Charles staring
and Crayon Man scratching. After a moment, an attendant
You can't smoke in here.
Charles stares at him blankly for a moment and continues
smoking. He looks back to Crayon Man again for a moment then
looks over at Karl and then goes and sits down beside him.
A Mercury is a good car and that's
what I was driving that day. I've
owned a lot of cars. Different
kinds. Lots of different kinds of
cars. She was standing, this girl,
on the side of the street where
there was a chicken stand; not the
Colonel, mind you, but nevertheless
a chicken stand, and I pulled the
Mercury over and rolled down the
window by electric power. She was
wearing a leather skirt and she had
a lot of hair on her arms. I like
that. I like it a lot. It means a
big bush. I like a big bush. She
said, "Are you dating?" I said,
"yes," and she got in the car. We
pulled to a remote location, one
that she and I both felt
comfortable with and she said, "How
much can you spend?" I said, "What
it takes to see your bush. I know
it's a big one." She said "twenty
five dollars," which to a working
man is not chicken feed. I produced
the money and she put it in her
shoe and pulled up her skirt. There
before me lay a thin, crooked,
uncircumcised penis. You can
imagine how badly I wanted my
twenty-five dollars back.
INT. A HALLWAY - DAY
Two young women, MARSHA DWIGGINS, carrying a briefcase, and
THERESA EVANS, carrying two camera bags are being led down
the hallway by a GUARD.
I don't know why you're so weirded
out, this is not San Quentin, it's
just a nuthouse. Most of these
people don't even know where they
are, they're not gonna hurt you.
In a few minutes we're gonna be in
a room with a killer. That doesn't
Hey, you're the one that wanted to
major in journalism. Anyhow, wasn't
the guy something like twelve or
thirteen when he did it, it was
twenty-five years ago, he probably
doesn't even remember it.
(wrinkling her nose)
Do you smell shit?
They reach a door and the guard ushers them through.
INT. AN OFFICE - DAY
JERRY WOOLRIDGE stands up from behind the desk as they enter.
He's in his fifiles and looks like a school teacher, shop
class or perhaps eighth-grade science.
These are the people from that
Oh yeah, from the college?
Woolridge shakes hands with them.
My name's Jerry Woolridge.
Nice to meet you. I'm Marsha
Dwiggins and this is Theresa Evans.
She's here to take the pictures.
Y'all have a seat. Is this all of
I think there must have been a
little mix up. I told your sponsor
or teacher or whatever he is, there
couldn't be any pictures. It's
s'posed to be just a little story
or article or something, isn't that
Well, yeah, it's for the school
newspaper. But it has pictures. I
mean it's a regular paper, you
Karl's real sensitive about having
his picture made. He wouldn't even
be on the bulletin board for the
Melvin, would you get me a good hot
cup with two sugar substitutes? You
girls want some coffee?
No thank you.
The other thing is I told your boss
on the phone to send a man. Karl
won't talk to women.
INT. REC ROOM - DAY
CLOSE UP on Karl's face. Charles has started another
There was a young man named John
Liggit Hunter who was in the
filling station business and a good
filling station business. He was
one of those young men that we run
across so often in life. I'm sure
you've run across them, that didn't
deserve the things he had. One of
those things was his beautiful
bride, Sarah. She was a Georgia
Peach. As a matter of fact she
looked more like the picture I've
had in my head than any woman I've
ever seen. I took it upon myself to
take her away from John Liggit
Hunter, who didn't deserve her. I'm
not sure if I mentioned that he was
a Frenchman who claimed to be an
Englishman. It took some very
strong nylon cord to take her away
from him. She was a fighter as well
as a Georgia Peach.
INT. WOOLRIDGE'S OFFICE
The girls look confused.
I don't know what to tell you. I'm
sorry. I made myself pretty clear I
thought. He probably got busy and
wasn't thinking. I know how that
is. I used to teach shop and eighth
Well, what do we do? We drove all
the way out here.
Let's just go, Marsha.
No, we have to get this story.
I thought you'd be happy to leave.
Why won't he talk to women?
He has problems. You know. With all
that. He won't hardly talk to
anybody really. Just certain
people. He's very troubled.
INT. REC ROOM
(leaning in to Karl)
A shovel just makes too goddamn
INT. WOOLRIDGE'S OFFICE
(takes a drink of coffee)
I don't think he's talked to a
woman in twenty-five or so years.
That I know of anyway. That's why I
said to send a man. At least maybe
he'd answer a question or two for a
man. I'm all for helping the
college out, believe me. It might
be a real good article or story.
Can't you talk to him? Maybe talk
him into it. I'm a real good
interviewer. Just get me in the
room with him.
Melvin, go get Karl and take him
down to the old classroom.
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Woolridge and the two women walk down the hallway.
I'll talk to him and see what we
INT. CLASSROOM - DAY
Woolridge is opening a door. He enters and the women follow
him in. He flips on a light switch and very bright florescent
lights illuminate the room.
You see, Karl, growing up, only
knew that sex was wrong and that
people who did it should be killed
for it. He couldn't really read
but, well, neither could his
mother. But, his father made sure
that his mother knew what the Bible
said. And she made sure Karl knew.
You know he slept in a hole in the
ground under a toolshed, right?
I knew he slept in a toolshed.
His mother told him that he was
their punishment. Hers and his
father's; from God, for having sex--
Before they were married?
I don't think so. Just period, I
think. She told him... God gave
them the ugliest creation he could
think of. Karl has an entire book --
a notebook. On every page it says
"Franklin Chapter 1 Verse number
1." He wrote that a few years ago
after he'd learned to write. His
father's name was Franklin.
That's really strange. What does it
One of his Daddy's Bible lessons I
imagine. Y'all pull up a chair.
I'll go out and talk to him.
INT. REC ROOM
CLOSE UP on Charles's face.
You have to make something explode
to truly understand it. You have to
examine the tiny particles while
they're on fire.
Off screen we hear FOOTSTEPS approaching. We pull back and
see MELVIN the guard.
Karl, I gotta take you down to the
old classroom. Mr. Woolridge has
some people for you to see down
there. Come on. Let's go.
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Melvin and Karl walk down the hallway. Woolridge stands
outside the door of the classroom. They reach him and
Woolridge talks quietly to Karl.
Karl, you know, do you remember
when I told you about those people
from that newspaper?
They want to ask you some questions
about your release. They think it
would make an interesting story.
Will you talk to 'em? Get
Now, they're women. I think it
might be good for you to. You're
gonna be seein' all kinds of people
when you go on the outside. This'll
help you I believe.
INT. CLASSROOM - DAY
It's just Woolridge and the two women in the room.
Well, it surprised the dickens out
of me. He said he'll talk to you.
Marsha smiles and looks at Theresa.
But, here's the thing. He'll only
talk to you. He doesn't want you to
ask him anything. And you shouldn't
stare at him.
How am I going to conduct an
interview if I can't ask him any
It's the best you're gonna get. I'm
Can I ask you a question? If he's
so troubled, why are you letting
him out? What if he does it again?
It happens all the time.
He's free. His time's up. That's
the rules. He's been treated and
reevaluated. He doesn't show any
signs any more.
Homicidal signs. Oh, we're gonna
change the light in here for Karl.
I hope you can see to write.
Woolridge turns on a lamp on a desk and turns off the
overhead lights. He opens the door and Melvin brings Karl in.
In the semidarkness Woolridge pushes a chair up and motions
for Marsha to sit. Karl stands beside Melvin motionless.
Woolridge whispers to Theresa.
You'll have to step outside.
Theresa starts to protest.
Karl sits down in a folding chair near a lamp as Melvin
ushers Theresa outside into the hallway. Karl sits staring at
the floor. Rubbing his palms together and breathing
strangely, as usual. He sits silent for what seems like
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Theresa stands on one side of the door, Melvin on the other.
Can I just sneak in there? I won't
take any pictures, I promise. I
just want to listen.
No ma'am. I'm sorry you can't.
Theresa takes a cigarette from her purse and starts to light
You can't smoke in here. I'm sorry.
INT. CLASSROOM - DAY
Marsha is staring at Karl. Karl, still breathing and rubbing
his palms, starts to speak. His voice is low and raspy, but
not just low and raspy; strange.
Well, I reckon what you're a
wanting to know is what I'm doing
in here. I reckon the reason I'm in
here is 'cause I killed somebody.
But I reckon what you was a wanting
to know is how come me to kill
somebody. Well, I reckon I'll start
at the front and tell you.
(pause, heavy breathing)
I lived most of my life out behind
my mother and father's house in a
little old shed and my daddy'd
built for me. They didn't too much
want me up there in the house with
the rest of 'em. I mostly just set
around out there in the shed all
the time a lookin' at the ground.
It didn't have no floor but I had
me a hole dug out to lay down in
and a quilt or tow that I put down
(pause, more breathing)
My daddy was a hard workin' man
most of his life, not that I can
say the same fer myself. I most
just set around the shed and
tinkered around with a lawn mower
or two and went to school off and
on from time to time but the
children there made quite a bit of
sport of me, made fun of me quite a
bit. Some of 'em roughed me up
sometimes so mostly I stayed out
back there in the shed. My daddy
worked down at the sawmill there,
down there at the planer mill for
an old man named Dixon.
Old man Dixon was a very cruel
feller, he didn't treat his
employees very well, didn't pay 'em
much of a wage, didn't pay my daddy
much of a wage, just barely enough
to get by on. But I reckon he got
by all right, they come out one or
the other of 'em, usually my
mother, and fed me pretty regular.
At least I know he made enough for
me to have mustard and biscuits
three or four times a week. Old man
Dixon had a boy named Jesse Dixon.
Jesse was really more cruel than
his daddy. He made quite a bit of
sport of me and takened advantage
of the little girls around the
neighborhood quite a bit.
He used to say my mother was a very
pretty woman. He said it quite a
bit from time to time, when I was
at the school house. Well, I reckon
you want me to get on and tell you
what happened so I reckon I'll tell
you. I was settin' out in the shed
one evenin' not doin' too much,
just kindly starin' at the wall and
a waitin' fer my mother to come out
and give me my Bible lesson and I
heared a commotion up in the house
there so I got up and run up on the
screened-in porch there to see what
was a goin' on, and I looked in the
kitchen window and I seen my mother
a layin' there on the floor without
any clothes on.
And seen Jesse Dixon a layin' on
top of her having his way with her.
Well, I just seen red. I picked up
a kaiser blade that was a layin'
there by the screen door, some
folks calls it a sling blade, I
call it a kaiser blade. It's just a
long handle like a axe handle with
a long blade on it that's shaped
kind of like a banana. Sharp on one
edge and dull on the other. It's
what the highway boys use to cut
down weeds and whatnot.
I went in the kitchen there and I
hit Jesse Dixon up side the head
with it and knocked him off my
mother. I reckon that didn't quite
satisfy me so I hit him again in
the neck with the sharp edge and
just plumb near cut his head off.
Killed him. Well, my mother, she
jumped up from there and started
yellin', "What did you kill Jesse
fer? What did you kill Jesse fer?"
(pause, intense breathing)
Well, come to find out my mother
didn't really mind what Jesse was a
doin' to her. I reckon that made me
madder than what Jesse had made me.
I takened the kaiser blade, some
folks calls it a sling blade, I
call it a kaiser blade and hit my
mother up side the head with it an'
(long pause, breathing)
Some folks has asked me if I had it
to do over again would I do the
same thing. I don't know, I reckon
I would. Anyhow, they seen fit to
put me in here and here I've been
for a great long while. I've
learned to read some; took me four
years to read the Bible. I reckon I
understand a good deal of it. It
wasn't what I expected in a lot of
places. I've slept in a good bed
for a great long while. They've
seen fit to put me out now. They
tell me they're a settin' me free
today. Anyhow, I reckon that's all
you need to know. If you want any
more details I reckon I can tell
'em to you. I don't know if that's
enough for your newspaper or not.
Suddenly Marsha speaks from the darkness.
Will you ever kill anybody again,
This seems to startle the very room itself. Woolridge motions
for Marsha to shut up and Karl stops still. Very still. He
breathes hard for a moment then starts to calm down. He seems
almost at ease. He slowly looks up. From Karl's point of view
we barely see Marsha's face in the dim light. Karl is looking
straight at Marsha.
I don't reckon I got no reason to
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Woolridge stands just outside the classroom door with Marsha
and Theresa. Karl stands down the way a few feet with Melvin.
Is he leaving right this minute?
We've got some paperwork to take
care of. Pretty soon. Don't worry,
you won't run into him in the
I didn't mean that.
I hope the best for you, Miss
Dwiggins, with your school and your
paper and all.
Where will he go?
Wherever he wants to. I think he's
going back to Millsburg where he's
from. It's just about twenty miles
Will he be supervised?
As much as anybody else is, I
guess. Y'all have a good rest of
the day now.
Marsha and Theresa walk toward the exit. As they pass Karl he
speaks to Marsha.
(immediately extends her
Karl doesn't take her hand.
Karl continues to stare at the floor until the women exit.
I reckon I'm gonna have to get used
to looking at pretty people.
Yes, I guess you are.
I reckon I'm gonna have to get used
to them lookin' at me, too.
You better go get your things.
I ain't got nothing but them books.
You better go get 'em.
All right then.
Karl walks slowly down the hallway.
EXT. BUS STATION - MILLSBURG - DAY
Karl steps off the bus carrying a few books by a strap. He
stands there for moment staring at the bus station as the few
people around stare at him, then he starts walking.
A SERIES OF SHOTS
Karl standing in front of a barbershop looking through the
window at a man having his hair cut.
In front of the police station.
Staring at an empty school yard...
EXT. DAIRY QUEEN - DAY
Karl stands and stares at the building for a moment. He sees
a woman take a tray of food from the window.
When she's gone, he walks up to the window. A pimply-faced
TEENAGE BOY comes to wait on him.
Can I help you?
I was kindly wantin' somethin' or
Well, what did you want?
You have any biscuits for sale?
Naw, we don't have biscuits.
Karl stands in silence for a moment.
Did you decide, sir?
What you got that's good to eat?
Well, I guess it's all good.
What do you like to eat here?
French fries. I like to eat them
How much you want fer 'em? I'll get
some of them I reckon.
Sixty for small and seventy-five
Give me the big'uns.
Karl digs in his pocket for money.
EXT. LAUNDROMAT - DAY
Karl sits on a bench eating french fries. After a moment, a
twelve- or thirteen-year-old BOY comes out of the laundromat
wrestling three or four big bags of laundry. He can't seem to
get a plan together for carrying them all. Karl gets up and
goes over to him. The boy looks up at Karl, a little startled
by Karl's strange figure looming over him.
These dang things are heavy. Hard
to carry, too.
What you got in there, warshing?
Ain't you got no mama and daddy to
tend to it?
I got a mama, but she's at work
over at Ben's Dollar Store. My
He got hit by a train.
How fer you going with them sacks
full of warsh?
About a half a mile I think it is.
I'll help you tote 'em if I don't
give out first.
Okay. You don't have to though.
Karl picks up two sacks and they walk away.
EXT. STREET - DAY
They walk in silence for a while before the boy finally
My name is Frank Wheatley. What's
Karl's my name.
What's you last name?
What are all them books?
Different ones. One's the Bible.
One of 'ems a book on Christmas.
One of 'ems how to be a carpenter.
How come you're carryin' them
around with you.
Ain't got nowhere to set 'em down.
Don't you live somewhere?
I did live there in the state
Why'd you live there?
I killed some folks quite awhile
back. They said I wadn't right in
the head and they put me in there
in the nervous hospital instead of
puttin' me in jail.
They let you out?
They told me I was well. They had
to turn me loose.
Are you well?
I reckon I feel all right.
You don't seem like you'd kill
They reach a little white frame house and the boy turns up
This is my house. You can just set
those bags on the porch.
Karl sets the bags down and he and the boy stare at each
other in silence for a moment.
Do you like to play football?
I never was much count at it. I
never did get picked out fer it.
Me and the Burnett twins and some
boys plays down at the junior high
practice field all the time. If you
ever want to come by and play. We
ain't no good either. Well, I'll
see you later.
He goes inside leaving Karl staring at the front door.
INT. BUS STATION - DAY
Karl stands at the counter. A middle-aged man is selling
How does a feller go about gettin'
up to the state hospital?
You buy a ticket for fourteen
dollars and then set and wait for
the four-fifteen bus to Kelton.
All right then.
INT. MENTAL HOSPITAL - DAY
Karl walks down the hallway carrying his books. A couple
staffers give him 'Why are you still here' looks. He reaches
a door and goes in.
INT. WAITING ROOM - DAY
There is no one at the desk in the outer office, so Karl goes
into Woolridge's office.
INT. WOOLRIDGE'S OFFICE - DAY
Karl finds Woolridge doing paper work. Woolridge looks up
Karl, what in the world are you
I want to come back and stay here.
Well, you can't do that. You're a
free man. You've been let out to do
as you please.
I reckon I don't care nothin' about
bein' a free man. I don't know how
to go about it.
Well, you have to learn. It'll take
some time. Don't you know anybody
down there to help you out?
Your daddy's still livin' down
there from what you told me.
I guess he wouldn't help you any,
would he? I wasn't thinking. You
don't know anybody?
Naw. Never did know too much of
nobody. Not to he'p me out anyway.
Listen, Karl, the truth is I don't
know where they expect you to go or
what they expect you to do. If it
was up to me, I'd let you stay here
if that's what you wanted. I'm just
doin' my job.
(they sit in silence for a
You follow me?
Listen, I know an old boy that runs
a fix-it shop deal down in
Millsburg. He used to go to church
with me. You're good workin' on
small engines and things. If I put
my neck out for you with him, will
you work at it if he'll hire you?
I'm pretty handy I reckon on lawn
mowers and whatnot.
I know, I've seen it myself. Would
you give that a try?
I can't promise he'll hire you.
I'll have to tell him about your
I never was no good with history.
No, I mean your past. About why you
were in here.
I'll take you first thing in the
mornin'. You have anyplace you can
stay tonight at all?
I just can't let you stay here.
It's the rules. If something
happened well, I'd be liable.
I reckon I can just walk around
till the mornin'. Or set and read
me a book somewhere.
They sit and stare at each other for a moment.
INT. WOOLRIDGE DEN - NIGHT
Woolridge, his WIFE, his teenage SON, BUBBA, and teenage
DAUGHTER sit in various comfortable chairs looking extremely
uncomfortable and staring at Karl, who is sitting on the edge
of a chair looking at the floor. After a long creepy moment,
Karl, would you like a muffin?
No thank ye.
I understand Jerry is going to take
you somewhere else tomorrow.
I don't reckon I know nobody name
She's talkin' about me, Karl.
That's my first name.
He's a-carryin' me to look fer work
in Millsburg where I was borned.
Would you like some coffee?
Coffee makes me a might nervous
when I drink it.
Daddy, can I be excused to go to
Sure, honey. You sleep with Mama
tonight. I'll sleep with your
brother and Karl can take your
We have company. Now you go on.
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
It's an all-American girls room. Everything is pink. There
are stuffed animals everywhere and posters of pop idols.
Well, Karl, there's plenty of
blankets and things there.
Bathroom's right there in the hall.
We'll leave first thing tomorrow.
Karl stands in the middle of the room holding his books.
Woolridge closes the door.
INT. WOOLRIDGE KITCHEN - NIGHT
Woolridge walks into the kitchen where Mom and Son sit at the
Jerry, why didn't you give him
Bubba's room? Sister's is kind of
girly, isn't it?
Yeah, I thought about that. No
sense in moving him now I guess.
Daddy, don't you think one of us
ought to stay up all night and kind
of - guard or somethin'?
Why, hell no, son. What's wrong
Well, he's crazy. He's a nut ain't
'Isn't' he, Bubba. Don't say ain't.
INT. WOOLRIDGE DEN AND HALLWAY - MORNING
Woolridge, already dressed, walks through the den and down
the hallway. He knocks on the bedroom door.
Karl, you up?
Woolridge opens the bedroom door and sees Karl sitting on the
edge of the bed beside his books. The light is on, the bed
still as it was the night before.
Didn't you go to sleep at all,
Karl? You been sittin' there like
that all night?
Well, I guess we better hit the
INT. FIXIT SHOP - DAY
Woolridge's car pulls into the parking lot. He and Karl get
out and walk toward the shop.
INT. FIXIT SHOP - DAY
Two men, BILL COX, a large man in his forties, and SCOOTER
HODGES, a really country-looking guy in his thirties, look up
from behind the counter as Woolridge and Karl enter.
Woolridge goes to the counter, Karl stands by the door
looking at the floor.
Hey Jerry, how it's goin'. Good to
see you. Been a long time.
Good to see you, Bill. How's
Aw, pretty good. Kids are drivin'
me crazy and Phyliss is gonna put
me in the poorhouse. Can't complain
other than that. Wouldn't do any
good if I did.
Do you know Scooter, Jerry?
No, don't guess I do.
(he shakes hands with
Scooter who sort of
Scooter, good to meet you.
(Woolridge leans in and
This is him, the one I talked to
you about on the phone. Now like I
said, I'll understand if you get
nervous about it. I'm not gonna lie
to you now, he did get in that
trouble but then he was real young.
I remember it real well. Cut them
folks to pieces. His mama one of
And that ol' Dixon boy. Hell, I
always wanted to kill him myself.
Asshole's what he was. I remember
that ol' boy
(points to Karl)
too. Kind of retarded or somethin'
back in school.
Well, he seems pretty well-adjusted
these days. I don't think he'd ever
Don't look much like he could. You
say he can fix a small engine like
He's a regular whiz at it. That's
all he did when he was a kid.
Well, I ain't scared of him workin'
here. You know me. I'm a church
goin' man. Forgivin' man. When your
time's up the Lord's gonna come git
you. You seared of him, Scooter?
I don't guess. Can he talk?
Oh yeah. Listen I really appreciate
it. He needs the job. I don't know
what to do with him. He don't have
That old man of his still livin'
over there on Clark Street I
He won't have anything to do with
him. Now you say it's all right for
him to stay out here in the back?
Fine with me. If he steals
anything, I'll take it out of your
Bill slaps Woolridge on the shoulders and wheezes with
He won't steal. I'm tellin' you
he's a pretty good ol' boy. Keeps
Well, I've got a roomful of work
for him to do. Can't get Scooter to
do any of it.
Karl, come over here. I want you to
meet your new boss.
(Karl obediently shuffles
This is Bill Cox, runs this place.
Says you can work here and stay in
Good to know you, Karl.
Now it's minimal wage and there
ain't nothin' but a army cot and a
toilet back there.
Karl doesn't say anything.
That'll be fine. Karl, I'll go to
the car and get your books.
Woolridge exits. Bill and Scooter just stare at Karl and Karl
stares at the floor.
They say you're a whiz on fixin'
lawn mowers and things.
I've tinkered around on 'em a
We order from Dairy Queen at
noontime usually. We can buy your
lunch till you get on your feet a
I like them french-fried potaters.
Yeah, me too.
They make a good double meat
INT. SHOP WORKROOM - NIGHT
The place is cluttered with mowers, edgers, weed-eaters, and
other equipment, most of it in pieces. A small cot is in a
little clearing in the corner by the bathroom. Karl is
sweeping up oil with sawdust and a push broom while Scooter
puts some tools away. Bill comes to the door.
All right then, I'll see y'all
later. Karl you done a good day's
work. They right about you.
Scooter, he's gonna knock you out
of a job if you're not careful.
I'll see you tomorrow.
Wait up, I'll leave with you and
Karl, they's a blanket up in under
that cot and soap in the bathroom
to clean up with.
Now there's one more thing. The way
we lock these doors at night, you
can't get out. You didn't want to
go anywhere, did you?
I don't reckon.
If it works out and all, maybe
we'll get you a key so you can get
out at night if you need to. See
They leave Karl standing in the midst of the lawn mowers. He
sets the broom down and goes and sits on the cot. After a
moment, he gets back up and starts sweeping again.
INT. SHOP - DAY
It's lunch time and Bill, Scooter, and Karl are sitting in
folding chairs behind the counter eating from their Dairy
Queen to-go bags. Karl has french fries.
Scooter, did I tell about the two
old boys pissin' off the bridge?
I can't remember.
There was these two old boys hung
their peckers off of a bridge to
piss, one old boy from California
and one old boy from Arkansas.
Old boy from California says, "Boy
this water's cold." Old boy from
Arkansas says "Yeah, and it's deep
Get it? That's a goodun.
Yeah, that's a goodun. I believe
you did tell me that one before.
I've heard that a bunch. Long time
Well, yeah it's a classic. You
know, Karl, I got to thinkin' about
it last night and it's just not
Christian of me to not let you have
a key. I mean you been in lockup so
long, you don't need me keepin' you
locked up. You need to come and go
as you please. Here, take this key,
it'll get you in and out that back
(Karl takes the key and
keeps eating french
Them french fries good?
Yeah, they's good all right.
You got any money?
They give me fifty dollars when
they turned me loose. I spent up
some of it on ridin' the bus and
eatin' french-fried potaters.
Well, I'm gonna pay you today for
this comin' week, so you'll have
some walkin' around money. When you
get off this evenin' you better go
buy some toothpaste and cleanin' up
supplies to have back there. Some
hard candy and some magazines.
Somethin' to keep you busy at
All right then.
I'll let you off while it's still
EXT. STREET - DAY
Karl is walking down a residential street. He stops in front
of the house where the boy, Frank, lives and stares at the
house for a moment, then he walks up to the door and stares
at it. A curtain moves and the boy's face appears at the
window. He comes and opens the door.
Hey there. I thought I heard
somebody on the porch. Wasn't your
Yeah it is. Your name's Frank.
Yeah. What you doin' by here?
You told me to come by.
Did you want to play ball with us?
I ain't no good at it. I just come
Well, anyhow, I was just fixin' to
go see my mama down at Ben's Dollar
Store. She's workin' two till
All right then.
He starts to walk away.
Wait a minute. You want to go with
me? You can meet my mama.
I don't want to worry your mama
Aw, come on. You'll like her. She's
real nice. She'll give us somethin'
if we ask her to. Candy or
I was kindly needin' to do some
tradin'. Reckon they sell
They sell some of everything. Come
on let's go. I won't tell her about
you bein' in the state hospital for
INT. BEN'S DOLLAR STORE - DAY
Frank and Karl make their way through the fairly crowded
store. It's sort of a mini-version of a Walmart. They find
Frank's mother in her red smock talking to a guy in a red
Ben's knit shirt. They are laughing together and pricing some
mouthwash. LINDA WHEATLEY is a short, plain woman in her
thirties. The man, VAUGHAN CUNNINGHAM, is in his forties,
with a neat flattop hair cut, glasses, and a paunch hanging
over his belt. They eye Karl suspiciously, as the boys
Hey, Mama. Hey, Vaughan.
Hey, sweetheart. What you up to?
Let me guess. You want a bunch of
candy and a pop.
You're gonna rot your teeth that
way. But I bet I know what you
would like even better.
I put potted meat on special, four
cans for a dollar and they're not
moving very well. I'd sure let a
few cans go for free to the right
I don't like potted meat. Daddy
used to say it was made out of lips
and peckers and intestints.
Frank, don't talk that way. Who's
that strange lookin' man behind
you? Did he follow you in here?
Can I help you, sir?
Oh, that's Karl. I met him at the
laundrymat. Karl, this is my mama.
And Vaughan, Vaughan's the manager.
He lets mama off any time she feels
like it 'cause they're best
Nice to meet you, Karl.
(keeping his distance)
Pleased to know y'all.
There's an uncomfortable silence.
Frank come back here with me for a
She shuffles him away and leaves Vaughan staring at Karl.
I don't think I've ever seen you
Naw, I don't believe you have. I
don't reckon I never been in here.
This store didn't used to be here.
It's been here seventeen years. Did
you live here before or something?
I's horned and raised here up till
I's twelve year old.
What brings you back?
What's that you say?
Why are you here now?
They turned me loose from the state
Is that right?
Are you going to be staying here
I reckon Mr. Woolridge got me hired
on to work for Bill Cox's outfit.
Do you have family here?
Not really to speak of.
Linda and Frank return from the back.
Hey Karl, guess what. Mama said you
can stay with us. Out in the
garage. Our car won't fit in there
anyway. It's real neat.
Frank told me about your situation.
And Frank loves company. You know,
especially after his daddy passed
and all. There ain't no sense in
you stayin' in that old greasy
(to Vaughan, hushed)
He's mentally retarded, poor thing.
He just got out of the state
Can we get some candy and pops?
Sure, go ahead.
They walk off down the aisle leaving Vaughan a little
Are you sure it's safe to let him
around that guy?
Frank's just crazy about him. He
likes the way he talks. He helped
him carry home the clean laundry.
He's been in the state hospital a
long time, something must be wrong
He's retarded's all. You know he's
always after a father figure and
Lord knows Doyle ain't a good one
with his mean ass.
What about me?
I don't think he sees you as a guy
(wrinkles his brow)
Karl is a guy guy?
EXT. WOODED AREA - LATE AFTERNOON
Karl and Frank sit on stumps in a little clearing enjoying
the spoils of their Ben's Dollar Store visit.
This is what I call my secret place
'cause I come out here when I feel
like bein' by myself. I used to
come here with Karen Cross. She's
kind of like my girlfriend, or used
to be. She says she likes Jerry
Maroney now. But I'm gonna get her
back 'cause I love her. We used to
come here and hold hands and talk
and read books to each other with a
flashlight. She didn't want to have
anything to do with me in front of
other people 'cause I don't have
any money. Well, mama and me, I
mean. She seemed to like me a whole
lot when we were out here though.
She said she loved me, too. Out
here. Settin' right on that stump
you're on. See, her daddy's a
dentist so they're rich. So's Jerry
Maroney's daddy. He owns the ice
plant. Was your folks well off?
Naw. Didn't have too much. Enough
to scrape by on, I reckon.
They still around, your folks?
My mother's dead. My daddy's
s'posed to be around still. He
don't want to have nothin' to do
with me though.
How do you know?
He never did want to. I figure he
ain't changed his mind much.
How did your mama die?
You don't need to know all of that.
You're just a boy.
You need to think about good
thoughts while you're still a boy.
They'll be plenty of time for the
I've had a lot of bad thoughts
since my daddy died. Sometimes I
wish I was still real little and he
was still here. My mama's real
good, but I wish I had both of 'em.
When we went to Memphis one time in
the car, it was rainin' so hard we
couldn't see the road. But I wadn't
scared because I thought as long as
daddy was drivin' nothin' could
happen to us. I feel that way about
(he looks at the ground
for a moment)
Mama has a boyfriend now. His name
is Doyle Hargraves. He works
construction so he makes a pretty
good livin'. He still don't help
mama out with any money though. He
ain't no good. He's mean to her. He
don't like me at all. Mama says
it's because he's jealous I belong
to my daddy instead of him. He
stays with us all night sometimes,
but he's got his own house.
Somebody told me it's so he can
still have other girlfriends. I
like it on the nights when he ain't
at our house. I'm not so nervous
How come her to keep bein'
girlfriends and all with him if
he's mean to her?
She says it's for the times when
he's good to her. She's lonely
since daddy died. She said
sometimes she don't know why.
He threatened to kill her if she
ever left him. My daddy would kill
him if he was here and somebody was
mean to mama. Vaughan, he's real
good to mama. Vaughan that you met.
But he's not able to do anything to
Doyle, he's funny you know. Not
funny ha, ha, funny queer. He likes
to go with men instead of women.
That makes him not to be able to
fight too good. He sure is nice
though. He's from St. Louis. People
who are queer can get along better
in a big town. He got transferred
here to work. But mama said the
real reason he left is 'cause his
daddy hated him. For bein' the way
he is. I wish he liked to go with
women. I'd rather him be mama's
boyfriend than Doyle.
Pause as Frank looks at the ground again. He seems troubled.
You know when I said daddy got hit
by a train.
Yeah, I remember you a-tellin' me
It ain't the truth. He shot hisself
with a shotgun on purpose.
Why did he do that, reckon.
'Cause he didn't have enough money
to take care of us the way he
wanted to. That's what the letter
said. He got laid off from work and
had to just work odd jobs. I
thought he took care of us fine.
Karl, did you really kill somebody?
Yeah, I did.
Who did you kill?
Were they bad people?
I thought they was.
Maybe they needed it.
I growed up and got taught it ain't
right to kill nobody.
It's okay if you're lookin' out for
yourself. If it's self-defense. Was
Karl shifts around and makes a noise in his throat and
My daddy was good. I think too many
good people die. It ain't right.
That's what I think.
INT. SHOP - DAY
Karl is tying the strap around his books. His sack of
toiletries is on the bed. Bill Cox comes in.
Now, Karl, you sure you want to go
stay with these folks? You're
welcome to keep on stayin here.
It's workin' out real good.
That boy wants me to.
All right then. I'll see you bright
and early. How you comin' along on
that garden tiller?
I fixed it. Hit's a workin' pretty
You done fixed it? I'll be damned.
Scooter told me it couldn't be
'Course Scooter's about as shitless
as one poor son-of-a-bitch can be.
You done fixed it. I'll just be
damned. See you tomorrow.
INT. WHEATLEY LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
DOYLE is in the comfortable easy chair with adjuster handle
drinking beer. He's in his late thirties and dressed in his
construction clothes. Linda sits on the arm of the chair and
Frank stands before them.
Well, honey, I don't guess I give a
shit. I ain't here half the time
anyway. If you want a retard livin'
in the garage, I don't guess I
care. I've got a good tool box and
socket set out there I don't want
stol'd. I guess I could take it
home with me.
He's real honest. He wouldn't steal
Now son, I wadn't talkin' to you,
No sir's right. I'm talkin' to your
mama. This is your mama's decision,
not yours. I'm lettin' it go on
because she asked me, not you.
Now is this the kind of retard that
drools and rubs shit in his hair
and all that, 'cause I have trouble
eatin' around that kind of thing.
Just like I am about antique
furniture and midgets. I can't so
much as drink a glass of water
around a midget or a piece of
antique furniture. Same thing with
a droolin' retard.
Doyle, you're awful. You shouldn't
be that way.
I ain't sayin' it's right. I'm just
tellin' the truth. What was he in
the nuthouse for?
He's just mentally retarded, I
He had of went nuts and did
somethin'. They don't put you in
there for just bein' a retard.
They's retards all over the place
that ain't in the nuthouse. Do you
I ain't sure.
You might want to find out. He
might of hacked his family to
pieces with a hatchet or somethin'.
Yeah, that's right, Frank, you
better ask him. I mean, don't hurt
his feelin's or anything, but it
would be good to know. I'm sure
it's nothin'. He seems real sweet.
You sure are hung up on people
(takes a long pull on his
Speakin' of which, where's your
girlfriend? I thought he was comin'
by here for something.
He'll be here in a little while,
he's takin' me to get an ice cream.
Ain't that the sweetest thing. What
am I supposed to do about supper
with you traipsin' around with that
You're not crippled. Get in there
and make somethin'.
Boy, ain't you somethin' else.
Talkin' back and everything. It
kinda makes me horny when you talk
Frank, why don't you go off and
play in your room if Doyle's gonna
I want to watch T.V.
Yeah, honey, let the kid watch T.V.
Hell, let's all watch T.V. like a
family till your retarded friend
and your homosexual friend gets
EXT. PORCH - NIGHT
Karl is standing on the porch with his bag and his books
staring at the door. After a moment, we hear a car door slam
and footsteps on the porch. Then we hear Vaughan's voice.
Karl turns to face Vaughan.
So, you're really going to stay
That boy wants me to.
Did you knock on the door yet?
Naw, I ain't.
How long have you been standing
Quite a spell, I reckon.
Listen, before you get very used to
staying here, I think you and I
need to talk about a few things.
Can I take you to lunch?
I done et just a little bit ago.
I mean tomorrow or the next day.
I reckon I can stand to eat a
little somethin' or 'nother at
noontime tomorrow. Bill Cox
generally gets me a box of french
fried potaters. But I reckon he can
lay off doin' it tomorrow.
Okay, I'll come by Mr. Cox's and
get you at noon.
They stand therefor a moment. Vaughan doesn't really know
exactly what else to do, so he knocks on the door. After a
moment, Frank answers the door.
Hey. Y'all come on in.
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Vaughan ushers Karl in and they stand behind the sofa. Doyle
looks up and grins.
Hey, Vaughan. How are you, Karl?
Tolerable, I reckon.
(in a hurry to get out)
Karl, this is my boyfriend, Doyle.
Frank, why don't you and Karl go
out in the garage and fix him up a
place or play a game or somethin'.
Vaughan, you ready to go?
Sure, I guess.
Don't rush ever'body, honey.
She starts to get her things together.
Maybe you and Karl want to go with
Naw, I don't want to. Me and Karl
got things we need to do.
Hey, Vaughan, you know what I
heard? I heard you been puttin' it
to Albert Sellers that works over
at the funeral home.
I know Albert. We're friends.
I heard you was more than friends.
I heard Dick Rivers caught y'all
all bowed up and goin' at it in the
same room with poor, little, old
Mizz Ogletree and her dead as a
doornail layed out on a gurney.
That's ridiculous. That's just a
Let's go, Vaughan.
(they start for the door)
Frank, we'll be back in a little
while. I'll bring you back
somethin'. You're food's in the
oven warmin' over.
See, you made him somethin'. Hey
Vaughan, I was just goin' on with
you, jokin' around, buddy.
(smiles a little)
Yeah, I knew that. You're a card
Linda kisses Frank on the forehead and they leave.
So, Karl, come have a seat, talk to
Karl sits on the couch.
Come on, Karl, let's go out to the
Goddamnit, I'm talkin' to the man.
You set right there, Karl.
Frank leans on the sofa arm beside Karl.
What's in your bag?
This and that. Toothpaste and
What's all them books?
Different ones. The Bible's one of
You believe in the Bible?
A good deal of it, I reckon. Can't
understand all of it.
Well, I can't understand none of
it. This one begat this one and
that one begat this one and begat
and begat and begat and lo somebody
sayeth some shit or another. Just
how retarded are you?
Stop it, Doyle!
You be quiet, Frank, we're talkin'.
The adults are talkin'. Were you in
the lockup for cuttin' somebody up
with a hatchet?
I ain't never used no hatchet that
You're just crazy in a retarded
kind of way then.
It wouldn't matter to me if you did
do violence on somebody 'cause I
ain't afraid of shit. You think I'm
afraid for you to stay here. You're
just a humped over retard it looks
like to me. Not really, I'm just
jokin' with you. Welcome to our
humble home, buddy. Frank needs all
the friends he can get. Frank's a
real weak little kid. His daddy
taught him how to be a pussy.
Stop it, Doyle! Don't talk about
daddy, you hear me!
Don't talk about daddy. Y'all go on
to the garage and let me be.
Frank is crying now.
Come on, Karl.
They get up and walk away.
(yelling to Frank)
Don't tell your mama we had a
little spat. She don't need to be
worried with your ass.
INT. GARAGE - NIGHT
Karl sits on an old sofa and Frank sits on an upside down
paint bucket, still upset.
I'd like to kill that son of a
bitch. I hate him.
You ort not to talk that way.
You're just a boy.
Well, I hate him.
He ort not to talk that away to you
neither. He ain't no count. He's
mean to you and your mama.
Yore mama and that feller that's
carryin' me to get somethin'
d'eat's gonna be back here
Will you stay here with us for a
I reckon if you want me to.
I got some of that potted meat and
sodie crackers left over if you
I don't see how you can eat that
stuff with all those insides it's
made out of.
I reckon it tastes pretty good to
I like the way you talk.
I like the way you talk.
Karl starts to put together a cracker and potted meat delight
INT. HAMBURGER ESTABLISHMENT - DAY
Vaughan is carrying a tray of food as Karl follows him to a
table and they sit and immediately start to eat. After a few
bites, Vaughan starts to speak in an official manner.
Okay, Karl, the reason I brought
you here was to talk to you about
something that is on my mind.
(pauses for a response,
instead Karl eats french
fries and stares at the
I guess I'll put it right out on
the table. Where do I start. Linda
and Frank are very important to me.
They're like family. My own family
was never like family. They're
horrible people. As a matter of
fact I prayed every night for years
that my father would die. I finally
realized through a lot of therapy
that I was wasting my energy on
hating him. Now I just don't care.
You see, you and I are a lot alike,
strange as that may seem. I mean
not physically or even mentally
really, just well, maybe
emotionally or actually the hand
we've been dealt in life. We're
different. People see us as being
different anyway. You're -- well
you have your affliction or
whatever and I, well mine's not as
easy to see. I'm just going to say
it. I'm gay.
Does that surprise you?
That I'm gay. You know what being
gay is, don't you?
I reckon not.
Homosexual. I like men. Sexually.
Not funny, ha, ha, funny queer.
Well that's a very offensive way to
put it. You shouldn't say that. You
were taught that, weren't you?
I've heard it said that way.
Anyway, it's hard to live gay,
that's the right way to say it, in
a small town like this. I've wanted
to leave many times, but my love
for Linda and Frank and another
certain person that we won't go
into have kept me from it. Anyway,
I'm rambling. If you're going to
live in the Wheatly garage you need
to know that it won't be easy.
Doyle is a monster. Not just a
closed minded redneck, but a
monster. A dangerous person. I've
told Linda that one day that man is
going to really hurt her or that
boy. Maybe even kill one of them. I
see it in his eyes. I'm very in
tune, maybe even psychic. Doyle
will make your life hell. You're a
perfect target. When I first saw
you I was afraid of you. Not really
afraid, I guess, just taken aback.
But also, I felt a real sensitive
feeling from you. And for some
reason, Frank has adopted you. Much
like a stray animal. I'm sorry, I
didn't mean it like that. In a good
way. Anyway, I just want you to
know what you're in for. I have a
good feeling about you. You're good
for Frank. Maybe it's that he can
have an adult friend on a child's
I'm sorry, I didn't mean it in a
There's one more thing. It's none
of my business why you were in the
state hospital. Everyone has
something in their past, maybe you
tried suicide, maybe you did
something -- terrible. But what I
see before me is a gentle, simple
man. All I want you to promise me
is that you're capable of being
around Linda and Frank. You know.
You would never hurt them under any
circumstances, would you?
I wouldn't never hurt them.
That's what I thought. I hope I
haven't offended you in any way.
You seem like a thinker. You seem
to always be in deep thought. Tell
me something. What are you thinking
Karl looks up and stares for a moment.
I was thinkin' I could use me
another helpin' of these potaters.
Oh. How about before that?
Before that I was thinkin' it'd be
good if I could get another three
or four cans of that potted meat if
you got any extry.
INT. WHEATLEY KITCHEN - NIGHT
Linda, Frank, and Doyle are eating.
How come Karl won't eat here with
I don't know. He just said he'd eat
Well, I wouldn't let it get to you.
I just feel sorry for the poor
Who could eat with him settin'
there makin' that goddamn racket
with his throat.
He does make some funny noises.
I sure like the way he talks. It
sounds like a race car motor
idlin'. It makes me not be nervous.
I'm glad of it, honey.
What have you got to be nervous
about? You're a damn kid. You ain't
got any bills to pay or bidness to
run or old lady to stay on your ass
all the time.
I get nervous, that's all I know.
They eat in silence for a while. Linda and Frank know where
this conversation could lead and know when to leave well
You know what, by God?
You know what we ought to do
Please Doyle, don't.
Have a damn party! Call Morris and
them and get the band together and
just party our asses off. I'd like
to show that fuckin' Karl to the
guys. They'd get a kick out of
that. Don't you know they would.
Please don't. Not tonight. I'm not
up for it. They always stay till
mornin'. I'm just give out, Doyle.
You don't have to do anything but
pour some potato chips in a bowl
and bring beers out when we get
Last time you got mad and run
Morris and them off and said to
stay away from here.
That ain't none of your damn
bidness. Besides that's the way
friends do one another. Fuck it,
I'm gonna go call 'em. Honey, find
my guitar, I think it's out there
in the garage with that loony tune.
INT. GARAGE - NIGHT
Karl sits on his cot eating from the plate Frank brought him.
Frank and Linda come through the door. Frank comes and sits
beside Karl. Linda gets a guitar case down from a shelf and
comes over and stands in front of Karl.
Karl, now listen, there's gonna be
a party tonight here at the house.
Doyle's invited his music-playin'
buddies over to make a bunch of
racket out on the patio.
They ain't even no good. The only
one can play is Randy
Horsefeathers. He claims he's an
Indian. His real name's Randy
Collins and he works at the feed
mill. He can at least play guitar.
He's no more an Indian than I am
though. Anyhow, Doyle's gonna try
and tease you and be mean to you to
show off to his friends. Just like
he does to Frank and me sometimes.
You just ignore it. Or stay out
here away from 'em if he'll let
you. He's an okay guy till he gets
drunk but tonight he'll get drunk.
I guarantee it.
He ain't ever okay to me.
The garage door opens and Doyle appears. He seems really
Well, it's on! We're gonna rock.
Linda, call Vaughan. Tell him to
get over here. I'd like him to be
here. I owe him a good time.
No Doyle. Vaughan don't want to
come to a party with you.
Too late, Honey. Fooled you. Done
called him. He'll be here.
Or I'll go get him. Come on Karl, I
need you to help me ice down a tub
of beer, you and Frank.
INT. BACKYARD - NIGHT
White Christmas tree lights are strung above the patio. Karl
sits to the side in a kitchen chair staring at the ground
alongside Vaughan, Frank, and Linda. The "band" is set up on
the patio. The band consists of MORRIS, a heavyset guy in a
military uniform on tambourine, TERENCE, a skinny guy in a
wheelchair on bass, RANDY, a long haired younger guy who's
not an Indian on guitar, Doyle on a guitar which he can't
play and MONTY "The Johnson " Johnson, a large guy with a ZZ
Top beard on drums. A tub of beer is in front of them.
They're all hooting and hollering and drinking. They've
obviously been at it for a while. Doyle steps forward to
address the 'crowd.'
Okay ladies and gentlemen
(points to Vaughan)
or both. It's come to the time in
our show when we like to introduce
the band. Over here on lead guitar
Mr. Randy Horsefeathers. Come on
hit a hot lick, Randy.
(Randy plays a lick)
Well, come on, y'all are supposed
to clap now. Come on!
(they clap a little except
ANGLE ON LINDA
Karl, you better clap your hands or
he'll just keep on.
Karl claps his hands a little.
On the bass, give it up for Terence
"One Ball" Atkins.
(more half-assed clapping)
On the tambourine and lyrics Morris
Hobbs the fuckin' genius of the
On drums "The Johnson."
And last and most importantly,
Doyle Hargraves on rhythm guitar
and business affairs and the only
motherfucker with a truck big
enough to haul this outfit on the
next world fuckin' tour. Come on, a
big hand for these guys. They're
workin' their asses off here.
(pauses for a slug of
Okay I'd like to dedicate this next
one to some very special people in
our audience tonight. To my lovely
female companion Linda, her lovely
son Frank, our new boarder Karl -
what's your last name Karl?
Karl Childers just in from the
state facility. Make one of them
gruntin' sounds Karl or whatever it
is you do.
Oh well, Karl's a little retarded,
he don't know what the hell I'm
talkin' about. And to Vaughan who
fucks a mortician in the rear
entrance right in front of his
clients. Now that takes balls. Our
number one tune for the folks,
boys. Kick it off Johnson!
They play "Walk Don't Run" while the audience of four sits in
motionless silence. They finish the song and hoot and holler
and drink some more and say nasty things to each other.
You like that Vaughan?
Sure. It sounded like a number one
tune all right.
You enjoying yourself, Karl?
We hear the voice of an OLD MAN NEIGHBOR in the near
I wished you all would lay off for
tonight. I can't hear myself think
for that racket. It's nighttime,
now let folks be! I'll call the
I told you already three times, the
laws on my side. I play cards with
J.D. Shelnutt, chief' of police.
Get fucked you old bastard!
(to the party)
Okay now, Linda, you and the kid
clean up and get a tarpaulin over
this instruments. Me and the boys
are goin' to the county line.
We're out of liquor and beer. Come
on Karl, you and Vaughan are goin'
I'd better go on home now, it's
late. I have to work tomorrow.
Come on, don't be a pussy.
Everybody has to work.
He don't want to Doyle. Don't go
Vaughan if you don't want to.
You'll wreck Doyle, you're drunk.
But honey, I'll be good. I promise.
I love you sweetie. I'm just tryin'
to help these two be part of
INT. DOYLE'S TRUCK - NIGHT
Doyle is driving, Vaughan in the middle, and Karl by the
window. Doyle cranks up the truck and pops in a cassette
tape. The first few notes of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" play.
Are you sure you can drive? You've
really had a lot of alcohol.
Shhhh! This is the national anthem.
They take off, tires screaming on the pavement as the song
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
The truck fishtails into the night and we see the rest of the
"band" in the back of the truck trying to control Terence's
wheelchair as it rolls back and forth.
INT. TRUCK - NIGHT
(points to tape player)
Not that you afflicted sons of
bitches would know anything about
it, but this is art.
They are stopped by a red traffic light. A police car pulls
up beside them and Doyle looks over at the RED-FACED COP on
the passenger side and turns down the music.
Hey Freddy, what's goin' on boy. I
seen your pitcher in the paper for
catchin' that big-ass bass.
Yeah She was a big 'un. You ain't
drunk drivin' are you Doyle?
I figured that. Well you better be
careful with that cripple in the
back. You'll throw him out. Looks
like you got a wagonful.
We run outta somethin' to drink.
Goin' to the county line. You want
You know better than that. We're on
duty. Catch me in that Camaro next
week one night.
Catch you later Freddy!
Doyle peels out and the music blares again.
I bet you like sittin' between two
men in a dual wheel truck don't
Oh, yeah, I'm thrilled.
You know the boys in the band are
probably gonna stay over tonight.
We'd be glad to have you.
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Doyle slouches in his chair drinking whiskey from the bottle.
Terence and Morris are sitting facing Karl and Vaughan who
are on the sofa. Randy and The Johnson are sitting across the
room in straight-backed chairs drinking beer. They really
stocked up at the county line and beer and liquor bottles are
strewn everywhere. Morris is in the middle of a monologue,
which has obviously been going on for awhile.
Anyhow I'm not sure if you follow
me on those particular points, but
it's not really important in the
smaller picture, which is where
most people dwell anyway. Not that
being manager of Ben's Dollar Store
is insignificant. Or that making it
through years of incarceration in a
state supported facility is any
Morris, he's the only one in the
band that went to college.
I'm in junior college right now
over in Westfield.
That ain't no college, that's trade
school. Auto repair ain't ever made
a genius out of nobody.
Holidays are for campers.
What do you know about bein' a
genius, Johnson. You can't even
hardly keep a steady beat on that
high-price drum set.
I think y'all play really tight
together, Randy. Y'all shouldn't
throw off on one another.
Anything that has to be discussed
can't mean anything.
You got that shit right.
What exactly do you mean by that? I
Exactly the point, my young
I don't get it.
I rest my case.
Morris is real smart with
philosophies and things. That's why
him and me are the songwriting team
of our group. I make up good tunes
or melodies as we call them and
Morris is the lyrics.
Not unlike Gary Brooker of the
We don't ever play any songs that
y'all wrote. I never even heard one
of 'em. Y'all just talk.
We don't even play any songs with
words at all that I remember. We
ain't got no fuckin' microphone. Or
speaker set up.
We wrote one last night standin'
outside Mini-Mart. Morris called it
"Stuart Drives a Comfortable Car."
Then, you know, like on country
songs in parenthesis it says "There
is usually someone in the trunk." I
came up with a tune just humming.
See Vaughan, you shouldn't question
a genius. Morris is a modern day
poet like in the old days.
Our latest composition is as
"The Thrill" --
"I stand on the hill
Not for a thrill
but for a breath
of a fresh kill
Never mind the man
doing away with license plates
He stands alone anyway
Baking the cookies of discontent
By the heat of a laundrymat vent
Leaving his soul"
(Then like in poetry I have dot dot
dot then drop down to the next line
kind of off center.)
"Leaving his soul parting waters
Under the medulla oblongata
of (then dot dot dot again)
Silence for a moment as everyone in the room just stares at
something other than Morris.
I don't think that's right. I
believe dot dot dot come between
medulla and oblongata or something
(Morris stares at him)
Well it did. It wadn't before
mankind, I know that much.
The dots are where I say they are.
Melody and tune. That's your trade.
You're a tunesmith Terence.
I don't really understand the
meaning of the words.
If y'all don't shut up I'm gonna go
out of my mind. And plus you're
liable to bust a spring in Karl's
head. He's already off balance.
That wadn't the way you made it up
before, Morris. That's all I know.
We don't need fancy words, we need
to practice. We don't ever
We need some payin' gigs instead of
just messin' around on first one
patio and then another'n.
Morris, you should just be the
manager, you can't play nothin'
Doyle jumps up and throws his whiskey bottle through the
window. He has changed from groggy drunk to a wild-eyed
madman in a flash.
We don't have a goddamn band! Y'all
just shut the fuck up! We don't
need no practicin' or managers
cause we ain't no fuckin' band!
Morris ain't no genius and the rest
of you are just losers. Am I the
only one sane human bein' around
here? Just get the hell out of my
house and don't come back!
It's not your house, Doyle, it's
I'll kill you, you fuckin' faggot!
You mind your own business. Now get
out! Now, before I get too mad to
What about our instruments?
Doyle grabs the handles of Terence's wheelchair and pushes
him right out the screen door. We hear the chair clatter down
the steps and a cry of pain from Terence.
They all file out the door except Vaughan and Karl who sit
frozen on the sofa.
You ain't right Doyle. Somethin's
wrong with you. Nobody needs your
(stops at the door)
The dots just look good on paper.
You don't sing 'em anyway. You're
showing your true Aries colors now.
Get out of my goddamn face, you
He slams the door and turns to see Vaughan and Karl on the
sofa and Linda and Frank, in their nightclothes, standing in
I thought I told everybody to get
out of my house. That includes
cocksuckers and retards. Get off
your asses and go.
This is not your house, Doyle. This
is my house and I'll say who stays
and goes. You've got a house, why
don't you go get one of your
girlfriends and go home to it.
You know better than to talk like
that when I'm hurtin'. Don't make
me knock the piss out of you.
Doyle, don't you lay one hand on
You go to bed and take snot nose
Linda walks up to him with Frank close behind. Vaughan gets
up also. Karl stares at the floor rubbing his hands together.
You're not stayin' here tonight. Go
get sober before you come back. I'm
tired of my child seein' this. Now
you get yourself straight or I'll
lock your ass out of my life for
You know what I told you, you even
think of leavin' me, I'll kill you
dead as a doornail.
That might be better than this.
I'm a witness. I heard you threaten
I thought I told you to keep out!
Don't tell me what to do.
Don't tell me what to do.
Don't tell me what to do.
(an inch from her face)
Don't tell me what to do.
She shoves him in the chest and he slaps her hard in the
face. Vaughan starts looking for a weapon and Frank goes
wild. He starts throwing anything he can find at Doyle. Empty
cans, bottles, a lampstand.
He connects with an encyclopedia to the head. Doyle goes to
the door. His face has changed from angry to sad, almost
Okay, I'll leave and sober up.
Everything's botherin' me, that's
all. I'm hurtin' Linda. I love you.
I hate you!
Well, I hate you, too. No I don't.
I love your mama. Nobody
understands what I go through. I'll
leave. You bunch of freaks have
fun. I'll call you tomorrow honey.
I'm sorry. You can kiss my ass,
You ever hit me again you little
bastard and I'll make you sorry
your daddy ever squirted your
little ass out.
He leaves and slams the door. Frank goes to Linda's side, as
You all right, Mama?
I'm fine, honey. Let's just try and
forget about tonight.
We don't need to think bad
thoughts, do we Mama?
No, honey, we don't.
I'll make some coffee and start
cleanin' up this mess. Karl, you
want some coffee, huh?
No, ma'am. Coffee kindly makes me
nervous when I drink it.
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Linda cleaning up the last of the mess. Frank comes in sleepy
eyed in his pajamas.
What are you doin' up again, Frank?
You need to get a little sleep.
Did Vaughan go home?
Yeah, he has to go to work in a
little while. I do too.
Did Karl go to bed?
I guess. He went to the garage.
Poor thing, he's probably never
seen such a crazy mess. He probably
wants to go back and live in Mr.
I bet he don't. Karl likes me.
I know he does.
Is everything gonna be all right
someday? I just stay nervous all
the time just about.
Yeah, honey, someday everything's
gonna be all right.
Doyle wouldn't really kill you,
I promise we're gonna get away from
him. The time has to be right,
that's all. I'd rather him get
tired of me and leave me. Then he
wouldn't want to hurt me. He
wouldn't care then. We'll be fine.
I promise. You go to bed now.
(she hugs him)
I love you.
I love you, too, Mama.
He goes to his room.
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
Linda goes into the kitchen and pours a cup of coffee and
sits at the table. After a moment, she looks up and is
startled to see Karl in the doorway.
You scared me.
I didn't aim to.
Want to sit down? Did you need
Karl just keeps standing there and Linda keeps staring.
Two fellers was on a bridge a
takin' a leak and one feller says
the water was cold and the other
said it was deep water. One of 'em
came from Arkansas, I believe.
I'll be dog.
Do you reckon you can make me some
Just whenever you take a notion to.
I don't aim to put you out.
Well, it is nearly breakfast time
anyway. I can't go to sleep. I have
to be at work in three hours. You
know how it is when you just sleep
an hour or two, you feel worse than
if you hadn't slept at all?
Well, set down and I'll make some
biscuits and gravy.
Mustard's good on 'em to me.
Karl sets at the table and Linda starts to make the biscuits.
It's all right.
You know I was thinkin' there's
this girl that works with me. She's
real heavy, but she's cute in the
face. Well, you know, she's slow.
She's a little bit, I think. She's
not retarded, just -- it don't
matter, listen to me. I thought you
might like to meet her. Vaughan
wants to have a little supper over
at his house and we could invite
her. Would you like that?
I wouldn't mind a havin' supper.
Vaughan's "friend" will be there,
too. He works at the funeral home.
And Frank. You know Frank likes you
a lot. He says you make him feel
I like Frank. He's a good boy. Me
and him's made friends.
She keeps working.
Hit ain't right for me to keep from
tellin' you how come me to be put
in the state hospital.
That's okay. It's not really my
business. I have wondered though.
Why was it? Was it like a nervous
I killed my mother and a old boy
name Jesse Dixon. I thought they
was a-doin' wrong. I was about your
boy's age. They say I'm well now
Linda stops working and turns to Karl, a little shocked, but
not as much as you would think.
Was that you? I remember that. I
was only three or four, but I
always heard about it growin' up.
They say you're well?
I like your garage.
I wouldn't never hurt you or your
boy. I'd lay my hand on the Bible
and say the same thing.
I believe you. I really do.
EXT. COVS PARKING LOT - DAY
Bill Cox is standing beside a garden tiller with an old man.
Bill is trying to crank it up, but it won't start. A car
pulls into the parking lot and Gerry Woolridge gets out of it
and comes over to Bill.
How 'bout you, Jerry.
How are you, Bill?
Doin' pretty good. Got a sick
tiller here. What's got you down
Just thought I'd check on Karl and
see if everything's working out.
Well, he's pretty quiet. Except for
them rackets and breathin' things
he does. Ain't threatened me with a
killin' or anything.
But boy you couldn't of been more
right about him fixin' things. That
son of a bitch is a regular Eli
Whitney on a lawnmower. Loves
french fries. Eats four larges and
don't even so much as belch. I'm
proud to have him.
Is him stayin' here workin' out?
He's gone to stayin' over with that
Wheatley boy and his mama in their
garage. I think that little boy
adopted him damn near like a
mascot. But he's got a key here to
come and go as he pleases.
Everything's worked out good.
Can I see him?
Bill looks over at Scooter, who is putting up a sale sign on
new mowers in the front window.
Scooter! Run get Karl for me.
EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY
Woolridge and Karl lean on the hood of Woolridge's car. In
the background, Bill and the old man tinker with the tiller.
Are you sure you're okay staying
with that woman and boy?
Do they know about you?
I told 'em about it. They know I'm
well. That Mizz Wheatley made me
That boy, he's my friend. He likes
the way I talk and I like the way
I knew you'd do all right. Well, I
just wanted to check on you. I'll
say bye to Bill and get on back.
They walk over to Bill.
Karl, see if you can figure out
what's wrong with this thing. It
won't crank up and ever'thing seems
to be put together right.
Karl squats beside the tiller.
I'll see you, Bill.
Okay, stop back by. Don't worry
about your boy here, he's doin'
Karl looks up from the tiller holding the gas cap.
Hit ain't got no gas in it.
See there. Thinks of the simplest
INT. VAUGHAN'S DINING ROOM - NIGHT
Vaughan, ALBERT the "friend," Linda, Frank, Karl, and
MELINDA, the Dollar-Store girl, are seated at the table. Karl
and Frank are going at the delicacies while Melinda shyly
picks at hers and the others are engaged in idle chit chat.
This goes on for a few moments, then Albert's attention turns
So Karl, do you intend to stay in
the lawnmower business for a while
or do you have other plans?
I think Karl is going to be a
writer or a librarian eventually.
You should see all the books he
has. He must read constantly.
I ain't read 'em yet except two or
three of 'em. I can't understand a
lot of what I try to read. My mind,
hit wonders off to somethin' else
when I try to read.
I'm the same way. Of course, in my
line of work, I stay too busy to
But at least I have job security.
People may stop doing a lot of
things, but one thing is for sure,
they won't stop dying.
(looks at Frank)
Why don't we talk about something a
little more festive.
Does everyone like the food?
Nods and yeses.
Good. I haven't decided yet if I'm
a good cook.
Hey Karl, you know what? Melinda
was voted employee of the month at
the Dollar Store last February.
Isn't that somethin'?
Yes ma'am, I reckon.
Well, when you like pricing items
as much as I do, I guess it's just
bound to happen sooner or later.
Karl, maybe you and Melinda might
want to take a walk or something
after dinner. It's a nice night.
Vaughan, don't get pushy.
I like walkin' quite a bit from
time to time.
I stay on my feet all the time at
work. I just can't find shoes
Hospital shoes might be the answer.
Or the kind old ladies who work in
the school cafeteria wear.
I get real mean when my feet hurt.
It's the only time I don't like
checkin' out the customers, when my
Frank, you and Karl aren't talkin'
much, you boys must really like
I just don't have anything to say
Silence for a moment.
Listen everybody, I know this may
sound corny, I've had a few glasses
of wine and that kind of makes me a
little emotional, but I'm going to
say it anyway. It just came over me
in a rush. I want you all to know
that I care about each and every
one of you at this table.
That's very sweet of you Vaughan.
We care about you, too. Don't we
Nods, grunts, "Sure do's."
Also, Melinda, please don't tell
anybody at the store that Albert
was here tonight, okay.
Well, a lot of people in town talk
and spread cruel rumors.
Unfortunately, I have to keep
certain parts of my life private.
You mean about y'all bein' together
in "that" way?
I think everybody at the store
knows that already. They always
talk about it. Maureen Ledbetter
told a awful story about why you
ain't allowed over at the First
Baptist Church no more.
Karl, why don't you and Melinda go
take a walk. It's nice out.
All right then.
He gets up and walks toward the front door. Melinda gets up
and tries to catch up.
EXT. SIDEWALK - NIGHT
Karl and Melinda are walking in the moonlight. It seems a
little hard for Melinda to keep up.
You walk fast, don't you?
They walk a little farther in silence.
These is the worst shoes I own for
walkin'. How far did you want to
I ain't really thought about it too
much I don't reckon.
They walk until they disappear into the darkness.
INT. COX'S SHOP - DAY
Karl is on the floor working on a mower with Scooter, they
are ad libbing semi-technical lawnmower things. Bill Cox
appears in the door.
Hey Karl, they's somebody out here
to see you. Some gal holding a nice
(Karl doesn't move)
Come on now, she wants to talk to
you. Don't just set there.
Karl gets up and goes to the counter followed by Scooter.
Melinda stands on the other side of the counter holding a
cellophane wrapped store-bought flower assortment. Nobody
says anything for a moment.
Hi, Karl, I'm on lunch break. These
was on sale 'cause they're not
fresh. Two ninety-nine a bunch plus
my ten percent employee discount.
Since I didn't bring you anything
to our date last night, I thought
you'd like to have 'em.
She hands them to him.
Scooter, let's me and you go over
to Dairy Queen and pick up a few
things for lunchtime.
I can go. You don't have to. You
don't never go.
Goddamnit, Scooter, come on. Pardon
my language, ma'am.
They start to leave. At the door, Bill Cox turns and winks at
Karl. They exit leaving Karl and Melinda staring at the
counter. They are silent for a while.
Well, I just thought I'd give you
them. I liked walkin' with you. I
got a blister the size of a quarter
on one heel. Well, I'll see you
sometime, I guess.
She walks to the door and stops as if she expects Karl to say
A blister shore can hurt.
Flowers is pretty. I've always
She leaves and Karl goes to the window holding the flowers
and watches her walk away.
EXT. SIDEWALK - DUSK
Holding the flowers, Karl is walking down the sidewalk toward
the Wheatley house when he sees Frank coming out the front
door with a book and a flashlight. He sees Karl.
Hey Karl, you off work?
Where'd you get them flowers?
That gal that made employee of the
month give 'em to me for awalkin'
I was goin' to the secret place. I
borried one of your books to take
down there. You ain't mad, are you?
Naw. You can look at all my books
you want to.
It's name's A Christmas Carol.
That's than un on Christmas I was
tellin' you about.
You want to go with me?
EXT. SECRET PLACE - NIGHT
Karl and Frank sit in the clearing, Karl on the stump, Frank
on the ground. Frank is shining the flashlight on the book.
He finishes reading a few lines and turns off the flashlight.
I'm gettin' tired of readin' for a
All right then.
Boy, folks sure had it rough back a
long time ago, didn't they?
Yeah, I reckon they did. Hit like
to tore me up when I read about
that pore little cripple boy.
Yeah, me too.
That was nice of that woman to give
you them flowers.
Hit was right thoughty of her.
I was wantin' to ask you somethin'.
All right then.
You know that girl I told you
about. The one I love.
Yeah, I recollect it.
Would you go see her with me? I
kind of thought I might take her
some flowers like that woman done
If you want me to.
I ain't got no money to get 'em
with but I bet Vaughan will let me
have some of them flowers at the
I bet he will. I got a little money
if he don't. I'll get 'em for ye.
I usually get run off by her mama
or daddy if they're home. Reckon
why they don't like me?
They ort to. You're a good boy.
Just 'cause I'm not rich don't mean
I don't love her.
And I don't try to touch her. You
know, in a bad way. Foolin' around,
sex and all.
That's real good. You ort not to if
ye ain't married to somebody. Bible
tells you that much. Hit tells some
things that don't seem right too, I
reckon. I guess a feller ort to
foller it close as he can, though.
You don't touch yourself, do you?
What do you mean?
Pull on your works. Your privates.
Oh, jackin' off?
Yes sir. You ort not know that
I didn't know till here while back
a year or two ago when I spent the
night with Ronnie Smart one time.
He said just tug on your peter and
think about your mama. I tried it,
but I felt funny thinkin' about my
mama. So, I switched over to
thinkin' about his mama and then
what he told me would happen,
happened. It sure tingles, don't
You ort not to pull on yourself
I kind of like you tellin' me what
to do and not to do. Just like my
daddy. I didn't mind him tellin'
me. I hate Doyle to tell me what to
do. Mama said the only way to ever
get away from him is for him to get
away from us. That we can't leave
him or he'll try and hurt her.
He ain't no count.
You don't seem like a daddy. You
seem like a brother.
Wonder what makes you like somebody
right off when you don't even know
'em like what happened with me and
I don't reckon I know.
And then some people you don't like
right off. It's funny.
You know why I want you to play
ball with me?
'Cause it's fun. It don't matter if
you ain't no good. It takes your
mind off of everything else while
you're doin' it. When you run real
fast tryin' to make a touchdown you
don't think about anything else. I
ain't no good, but my daddy always
said he was proud of me when I
threw a ball or ran with it. Did
you have any brothers and sisters
growin' up to play with?
I had one there for little bit. Hit
didn't get old enough to play with.
Why not? It died?
Hit was borned a little too early
on. My mother and father made hit
come too early some way or other. I
reckon they changed their mind
about havin' another'n. I was about
six or eight year old then and they
didn't care too much for me so I
reckon they didn't need somethin'
else to worry 'em with.
So it died when it come out?
My daddy come to the shed out back
and got me and said throw this here
away and handed me a towel with
somethin' in it. I went for the
trash barrel there and opened up
the towel to see 'cause they was a
noise and somethin' movin' in it.
Hit was bloody-like around that
towel. Hit was a little ol' bitty
baby, no bigger than a squirrel.
It was alive?
Yes sir. Right then it was.
A boy or girl?
A little ol' boy.
You threw it in a trash barrel?
I didn't feel right about doin'
that. I takened a shoe box from
there in the shed and emptied out
some screwdrivers and nuts and
warshers from it and put the little
feller in that and buried him in
the corner of the yard there. That
seemed more proper to me, I reckon.
It was still alive when you buried
I heared it cryin' a little through
That don't seem right. It seems
like you should have kept him alive
and took care of him if he was your
I wadn't but six or eight. I reckon
I didn't know what to do. I didn't
know how to care for no baby. Mama
and Daddy didn't want him. They
learned me to do what they told me
to. These days I figure it might of
been best to give him right back to
the Good Lord right off the bat
That makes me feel real sad.
Couldn't you have done somethin',
Karl? I would have. I wish I would
of had him. He'd be here right now.
Hits been hard thinkin' about it.
They ain't a day goes by I don't
think about it. I kindly have a
picture of it up in my head that I
see. Hit makes me sad, too. I have
bad thoughts on it. I wished they
was somethin' I could of did, too.
Shouldn't no bad things happen to
childern. All the ol' bad things
ort to be saved up for folks that's
growed up, the way I see it. I
shouldn't of told you about that. A
boy ort not hear about such things.
It just kindly come out.
I didn't mean to say anything bad
about you. I know you're good. You
didn't mean no harm.
Did you ever think about killin'
yourself on purpose like my daddy
I've studied about it. The Bible
says not to or you end up goin' to
Hades. Some folks calls it Hell, I
call it Hades.
Bible says the same thing about
killin' others, too.
Yes sir, I reckon it does.
EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY
Frank, flowers in hand, and Karl approach a very nice two
story house. They get to the door and Frank rings the
I always get nervous when I hear
that doorbell. I'm okay just
walkin' over, but somethin' about
that dang doorbell. They have one
room where you can't walk on the
carpet or sit on the furniture. I
don't see much sense in havin' it.
The door opens and we see an older black lady, the
Son, I don't know why you keep
comin' over here. You know these
folks don't want you here. They run
you off ever' time. Don't keep
doin' this to yourself. You a sweet
boy. Now go give them flowers to
somebody that'll enjoy 'em.
Ma'am, I really want to give them
You his daddy?
Well, whoever you are, you ought to
talk some sense into him. That
little old girl is way too fast for
him and don't wanna see him no way.
Will you get her for me. Please. I
really want to see her.
She'll want to see me, too, 'cause
we're not in public. Just don't
tell her folks I'm here.
She disappears and a moment later KAREN appears. She's
thirteen, pretty and very neatly dressed.
Hey Frank. You shouldn't be coming
over here. My parents really don't
want you to.
I wanted to bring you some flowers.
They're pretty good ones.
They're from the Dollar Store. I'm
not an idiot. Besides we have a
garden full of flowers.
She eyes Karl.
I wanted for you to meet Karl, too.
He's my new friend. But I feel like
I've always known him. I thought
you should meet him.
Why? Hi, Karl.
He's gonna be around a lot and I
hope you are too, so...
Here give me the flowers, I'll do
something with them. Thank you. Now
you better go. Maybe I'll see you
down at the secret place one day in
a week or two or something. I have
a boyfriend now you know. And we're
pretty serious. He gave me a ring.
She proudly displays the ring.
Can you go there with us now? Me
and Karl. We could just hang out.
Karl has some cool books.
Frank, I just like you as a friend.
Only at the secret place. Okay? I
can't go there now. I'll see you
But maybe just for awhile --
I'm closing the door now. I told
you, I'll see you later.
She closes the door. They stand therefor a moment, then walk
away down the sidewalk.
She said she'd see me later. That's
kinda good, right?
EXT. WHEATLEY HOUSE - DAY
Frank and Karl walk up the steps to the house. Frank opens
the door and they enter.
INT. HOUSE - DAY
As Frank and Karl enter, they see Doyle sitting on a
footstool facing Linda who's in a chair. Doyle is holding
both her hands and talking very softly to her. He sees the
guys and looks up.
Well, I'll be damned, there's the
boys. I'm glad y'all came in. I
wanted to talk to y'all, too. I was
just tellin' Linda here -- Oh hell,
I'll just start over, set down you
They do, on the couch.
Well, what it is is, I just, well I
took off work early today and your
mama was good enough to do the same
so we could talk. I guess you'd say
I'm really here to apologize, which
ain't easy for me to do, about the
way I acted the other night. I was
just drunk and kinda got a little
too worked up and one thing led to
another. I care about y'all a lot,
I do. I don't mean to be so damned,
assholish I guess the word would
be. Now Karl, I don't believe I hit
you, did I? So no apology needed
there I guess, but Frank, I'm
sorry. I'm sorry I hit your mama.
I'm just jealous of her. I don't
like her life or the way she runs
it. I don't like homosexuals and
she buddies with one. I don't like
little wimpy ass kids or fuckin'
mental retards and she's got one of
each livin' with her.
I was just kiddin'. But really I
guess people need to get along even
if they have differences.
You see, I work construction. I
build things. Do you realize how
important that is to the world. I
have a lot of pressure on me. The
upshot is, I'm gonna spend a lot
more time over here and we're gonna
get along. Like a family should.
I may even surprise you one day and
pop the question.
(he gets up)
Well, I'm goin' back to work. I
just wanted to give y'all some
little piece of happiness today.
See you tonight honey. Karl. Be a
good boy, Frank.
Well, at least he's tryin'. But who
knows for how long.
He's lyin' Mama. He ain't gonna do
I know honey. Just remember what I
said, we'll bide our time. You just
steer clear of him as much as you
can. Doyle's had a real hard life.
It's just about run him crazy I
We've had a real hard life, too,
Linda moves to the couch and puts her arms around Frank.
You're a hell of a boy, Frank.
Someday you're gonna get all the
good things you deserve. And Karl
here's gonna get some more biscuits
tonight. What do you think about
I could shore use some. Thank ye.
INT. SHOP - DAY
Karl is cleaning some parts in a bucket of gasoline. Bill
comes to the door.
Hey there Karl, can you come unload
a generator for me?
Karl wipes his hands on a shop towel and starts outside.
EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY
A MAN and a TEENAGE BOY stand by a pickup truck. A small
generator is on the tailgate.
Karl, lift this thing down and
carry it to the back. It's on the
(to man as Karl unloads
We'll have it for you in a day or
Y'ont us to he'p you there liftin'
Oh no, that dang Karl can lift a
bulldozier. Fix anything, too.
He's mentally retarded, but he's a
whiz on small engines. Lord works
in mysterious ways.
Karl carries the generator toward the shop. He turns and
watches the man and boy talking and laughing with Bill. The
man playfully puts an arm around his son's neck and tousles
Hell, he didn't just make the team,
Coach says he's probably gonna
start at end on defense. He's a
chip off the old block. Ain't you,
I guess so.
Karl turns and goes in the shop.
INT. WHEATLEY GARAGE - DAY
Karl is on his cot reading a book. Frank comes in. He looks
very depressed. He sits beside Karl.
What you readin'?
Readin' on this book on how to work
carpentry. I aim to learn how to
build things out of wood one of
these times. I've always been
partial to wood buildin's and
cabinets and whatnot. These
drawin's they got here don't make
no sense to me so far.
(he looks directly at
Frank, which he seldom
You seem like yore tails a'draggin'
a might. You got somethin' wrong
Seems like Doyle's wormed his way
back in. Mama said he's stayin'
over tonight and he's talkin' about
movin' in for good. We ain't ever
gonna be happy. We'll always be
nervous, won't we Karl?
I don't reckon I know. I ain't
found no way yet and I'm three or
four times as old as you. Might be
that's just the way folks is.
I feel sad about Karen Cross, too.
I just make like to myself she
loves me. I know better, though. It
just feels good to me when I
Make believin' always made me feel
good too from time to time.
They sit in silence for a moment.
Bill Cox is goin' to a funeral for
a Mister Turner tomorrow and a
closin' up shop early.
Is that right?
I'll play ball with ye. I reckon if
neither one of us is no count it
won't make no difference.
You will? For sure?
We'll be on teams, me and you?
EXT. JUNIOR HIGH FOOTBALL FIELD - DAY
It's the practice field, so it's not very well kept. Karl,
Frank, and two other boys around Frank's age are huddled up.
Four boys are lined on defense. They break the huddle and
come to the line. They are on about the fifty-yard line.
Frank hikes the ball to one of the boys. He later als it to
Karl who stands there for a minute as the defenders run
toward him. Then he takes off like the wind. He runs funny,
kind of humped over and pigeon-toed, but fast. All the others
are chasing him. Two of the other team's boys catch him on
about the fifteen-yard line, but he drags them along. Karl
sees Frank out of the corner of his eye and tosses him the
ball just as Karl bites the dirt. Frank goes into the end
zone untouched. There are cheers from Frank and the other
boys. Frank runs over to Karl who's still on the ground.
Way to go, Karl. We got a
touchdown. That was a good lateral,
man. That was just like the
I dern near had me a touchdown till
them boys got a-hold of me there so
I figured I better give it off to
you. I seen you over there
We're liable to win if we keep this
up. For somebody like you, you sure
He grabs Karl by the hands and helps pull him up.
Come on, let's kick off to 'em.
EXT. SIDEWALK - DAY
Karl and Frank, dirt, grass stains and all, walk toward home.
I know you could of scored them
three touchdowns by yourself
instead of throwing 'em over to me.
Them boys was tryin' to pull me
down pretty hard.
You're strong though. You let me
make them touchdowns so I'd feel
good. My daddy used to do that kind
They walk in silence for a moment.
It don't matter to me about us
losin' does it to you?
It was fun, anyhow.
I wadn't thinkin' about nothin'
else just like you told me I'd do.
Can we play ever' Saturday?
If I ain't too stove up. I ain't
like you. I'm old and give out.
I'm proud of ye.
INT. GARAGE - DAY
Karl sits on his bed rubbing his hands together, deep in
EXT. STREET - DAY
Karl is walking down the street past rundown houses. He comes
to an old gray woodframe house. It is in bad repair, the
paint is peeling, the yard is grown up. There is an old
wooden shed in the back yard. He stands looking at it for a
moment then walks through the yard and opens the door to the
shed. He's motionless for a moment, then goes inside.
INT. SHED - DAY
Sunlight comes through the cracks in the wood. The shed has
nothing but dirt for a floor. A few tall patches of grass
shoot up between boxes and rusty lawnmowers. A few old garden
tools hang on the wall. In the center is a low circular spot
in the ground and a few tattered shreds of an old quilt.
Karl stands looking at the hole for a moment, then turns and
walks out of the shed.
EXT. YARD - DAY
Karl walks across the yard to the house.
INT. SCREENED-IN PORCH - DAY
Karl goes onto the screened-in porch, looks through the
kitchen window and goes inside.
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
The place is a mess. Dirty dishes are piled in the sink and
on the table. It's not just clutter, but filth everywhere.
INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY
Karl walks into an equally filthy living room where an OLD
MAN in overalls sits slumped in a chair looking at his lap.
Karl stands facing him for several moments.
I'm ye boy.
I ain't got no boy.
I'm ye oldest boy name Karl.
I ain't got no boy.
They turned me aloose from the
nervous hospital. Said I was well.
I got hired to work for a Mr. Cox
fixin' lawnmowers and whatnot.
That grass out in the yard's all
growed up. I figured I might cut it
I told you, I ain't got no boy, now
get on out from here and let me be.
I learned to read some. I've read
on the Bible quite a bit. I don't
understand all of it, but I believe
I understand a good deal of it.
Them stories Mama and you told me
ain't in there. You ort not to of
done that to ye boy.
I've studied on killin' you. But I
don't reckon they's no reason fer
it if all you're gonna do is set
there in that chair. You'll be dead
soon enough I reckon and the
world'll be shut of ye.
(Karl walks toward the
kitchen and turns back to
the old man)
You ort not to of killed my
brother. He ort to have had a
chance to grow up. Sometimes he
would of had fun.
Karl walks out of the house and across the yard to a hedge in
the corner and kneels down. He pushes some grass aside to
reveal a rock about afoot tall and afoot across. In front of
it, the ground is raised a little. He stares at the rock for
a moment and touches it.
EXT. A LARGE OLD WOODEN SLAT BRIDGE - DUSK
Karl stands on the side of the bridge looking into the river
INT. WHEATLEY HOUSE - NIGHT
All the lights are out. We see a shot of Frank in his bed
asleep, but tossing and turning. Then a shot of Linda in bed
staring at the ceiling and Doyle beside her snoring.
Suddenly, the lights come on and Linda lets out a little yelp
and sits up, which wakes up Doyle and he sits up with a
start. From their P.O.V. we see Karl standing in the door
holding a hammer.
What in the goddamn hell are you
doin'? It's the middle of the
What do you want, hun?
I want to be baptized.
Baptized? Well, get baptized then.
I don't give a shit. Call a fuckin'
preacher, goddamnit! I can't
We'll go to church and get you
baptized, tomorrow's Sunday. You go
on back to bed.
What are you doin' with that damn
I don't rightly know. I just kindly
woke up a-holdin' it.
INT. CHURCH - DAY
We see a shot of Frank and Linda and Vaughan in a church pew.
The church is pretty full. From their P.O.V. we seek Karl in
a robe standing in the baptismal tank. The preacher takes
Karl and dunks him under the water and brings him back up.
INT. WHEATLEY LIVING ROOM - DAY
Doyle is in his favorite chair as Linda, Frank, and Karl come
through the front door.
How'd your baptizin' go?
It went real good.
Well, that's good. It's about time
to eat and you know what I'm
cravin'? Some of that take out
chicken. Why don't you run get some
of it, honey, for lunch?
(to Frank and Karl)
Would y'all like that?
Yeah, I guess.
Yes ma'am. I like a fried chicken
All right, y'all gonna go with me?
Naw, hell, let them stay here with
me and do men things. There might
be some kind of ball game on we can
watch. You go on.
I'll be back in a little bit then.
She leaves and Doyle walks up to Karl and Frank.
I really just wanted to git your
mama out of the house for a minute
so we can have a talk. Y'all set
They sit on the couch and Doyle kneels in front of them.
Now here's the deal. Now that I'm
gonna throw my entire life away
doin' what I want to come live here
with y'all, we have to get a few
things straight. See, Frank, me and
you mama wouldn't have any problems
if it wadn't for you. We'd never
have a bad word between us. But
since you do exist, if I'm gonna be
here as the head of the household,
we'll have to live by my rules.
And my rules are you don't speak
unless you're spoken to. Stay out
of my way and do what a regular kid
does. You're a weird little shit. I
don't get you. So wake up. Face
what they call reality. We're gonna
be a family now. And it's my
family. I'll be payin' the bills so
you got me. But I ain't your daddy.
You just treat me like I am. I'm
the boss, okay. And the other thing
is your friend Karl has to go. We
can't have a normal family with him
livin' in the garage and comin' in
the bedroom at four in the mornin'
with hammers and shit. See?
Karl can stay if he wants to. Mama
Doyle slaps him across the face and Karl grabs Doyle's arm.
Doyle shakes him off.
Don't hit that boy no more.
You shut up you, fuckin' retard.
Get your shit and get out of here.
That was a wake-up slap, Frank.
Remember. Reality, like I said.
Don't forget any bit of what I said
to you and we'll be fine.
Frank jumps up and runs from the house and Doyle sits back in
his chair and pops a beer. Karl gets up and goes to the
INT. GARAGE - DAY
Karl ties his books up with his strap and gets a bag from his
bed and leaves.
EXT. DRIVEWAY - DAY
Karl is walking away as Linda pulls up in her car and gets
out with fast-food bags.
Where are you goin', Karl? Didn't
you want some chicken and things?
No ma'am. I'm a'goin' off sommers.
Well, okay. I got you some.
Frank, he went off, too. He ain't
gonna be in there when you get
Where'd he go? What's goin' on?
He wanted to go off and play, I
You go in there and you and that
Doyle eat ye dinner. You don't have
to worry yourself none.
All right then. Well, I'll see you
later. If you see Frank, tell him
to come on back home. I don't get
to see him all day except Sundays.
He can play tomorrow.
You're a good mama to that boy. You
care for him. You work hard fer him
to take care of him. You light him
up in his eyes, I've seen it. He
wouldn't know what to do without
Well thank you, hun. That's real
good of you to say. I wouldn't know
what to do without him either.
You've been real good to me, too.
It ain't ever'body that'd make
biscuits in the middle of the
night. You and that boy has give me
a good feelin'.
We sure like havin' you.
(Karl walks away, then
I'm just getting around to tellin'
you, but I fixed your warshin'
EXT. SECRET PLACE - DAY
Frank is on the ground digging a trench in the dirt with a
stick. He hears footsteps in the leaves and looks up and sees
Karl coming toward him.
Hey, Karl. How'd you know to come
I knowed you'd be here.
(Karl sits on the stump)
What are you a-doin' digging with
I ain't ever gonna be happy now.
Not with that son of a bitch movin'
in for good. I wish me and you and
Mama could just run away. But she
said he would find us wherever we
went. He's crazy. Sometimes I think
it would of been better if I wadn't
I'm glad of it you was borned.
I reckon I ain't gonna be there in
the garage no more.
You have to Karl. You have to look
out for me. You don't let that son
of a bitch run you off.
You're just a boy. You ort not to
use that sort of language.
Karl, I ain't tryin' to say nothin'
bad about you, but why don't you
stop Doyle when he gets that away?
You're older than him. You're
strong, too. My daddy wouldn't let
him do that to me and Mama.
That feller's a whole sight meaner
than me. He'd just whup the tar out
Yeah, I guess so. I'm real tired,
you know that. A kid my age
shouldn't be tired of things.
I'm tired, too, Frank.
If I ain't around no more, it don't
mean I don't care fer ye. I care
for ye a good deal. I care for you
more than anybody they is. We made
friends right off the bat.
I care for you, too. But you'll be
around, don't say that.
Hit don't make no difference where
I was to be. We'll always be
friends. There ain't no way to stop
I aim for you to have these books.
He hands him the books.
Maybe you can make more sense out
of them than I can.
I made you a little old book marker
and stuck it in that book on
You don't want to give away all
I aim fer you to have 'em.
You know when you get a feelin' and
you don't know why?
I've got a feelin' today.
Reckon what kind of a feelin'?
Like something different. I don't
You're leavin' ain't you, Karl?
Will ye do somethin' for me if I
ast you to?
You know I would. Whatever you
Don't go home tonight and stay with
that Doyle. He's got it in for ye
tonight. I got me a feelin', too.
Feels like to me you ort not be
there in that house with him
liquored up and mean. Ye mama
neither. When you get up from here,
I want you to go to that feller's
house. Your mama's friend. I want
you to give me your word on it.
Okay. I give you my word. Is
ever'thing gonna be okay? Are you
Ever'thing's okay, boy. I kindly
want to put my arm around ye for a
minute and then I'm gonna go on and
Karl lays his arm on Frank's shoulder and Frank puts his hand
on Karl's arm. They sit like that for a few moments, then
Karl gets up with his paper sack and walks away. Frank takes
the book marker out of the Christmas book. It is just a
folded piece of notebook paper. On it is written 'You will be
happy.' He looks up at Karl who is now thirty yards away in
Karl turns around and he and Frank stare at each other
through the trees.
EXT. VAUGHAN'S HOUSE - DAY
Karl knocks on the door. After a moment, Vaughan answers in a
pair of big shorts and a sweatshirt.
Karl, what are you doing here? Come
I ain't a-stayin'. I need to ast
you fer a favor.
This evenin' I want you to go get
Mizz Wheatley and that Frank and
have them stay with you tonight.
What's wrong? Is everything okay?
That dern Doyle is in a bad way
again with that drinkin' and bein'
mean to folks. Will you give me
your word you'll do it?
Well, sure, okay. He hasn't hurt
them, has he?
Naw, not yet.
(hands the bag to Vaughan)
I want ye to give this to Mizz
Wheatley. Hit ain't much, but maybe
there's a little somethin' to hep
out. Hits what I've earned fixin'
lawnmowers and whatnot fer Bill
Vaughan takes the bag.
What about you, Karl? Do you want
to stay here?
I don't reckon you have to go with
women to be a daddy to a boy.
You've been real square dealin'
with me. The Bible says two men ort
not lay together. But I'll bet you
the Good Lord wouldn't send nobody
like you to Hades. Some folks calls
it Hell, I call it Hades.
(Karl starts away)
That boy lives inside of his own
heart. Hits an awful big place. You
take care of that boy.
Vaughan watches Karl walk away.
EXT. BUS STATION - NIGHT
Karl stares at the bus station door.
EXT. WHEATLEY HOUSE - NIGHT
Karl stares at the house from the sidewalk.
EXT. OLD WOODS BRIDGE - NIGHT
Karl stares into the river.
INT. COX'S SHOP - NIGHT
Karl has a lawnmower blade sharpening it on a grinding wheel.
EXT. WHEATLEY HOUSE - NIGHT
Karl carrying the blade walks onto the porch and enters the
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Doyle is in his chair drinking beer and watching TV. He looks
up as Karl comes around and sits on the sofa.
Where's ever'body else? You seen
I thought I told you to get the
hell moved out of here anyway.
How does a feller go about gettin'
ahold of the police?
Pick up the fuckin' phone and call
'em, I guess.
What numbers do you punch?
I told you to get away from here,
didn't I? I'm tryin' to relax and
look at TV.
What are you doin' with that piece
of iron? I swear to God you're the
weirdest son of a bitch I ever
I aim to kill you with it.
Doyle keeps drinking and watching TV.
Yeah, okay. Well, to get the police
you push 911. You'll need to tell
'em to send an ambulance, too. Or a
hearse. You fuckin' idiot. You're
gonna kill me.
Karl gets up and walks slowly toward Doyle out of frame. We
see the flickering light of the TV on the wall. O.S. we hear
one short dull thud.
Oh God! Oh God!
We hear one more thud, then the sound of Doyle's body hitting
the floor. Karl appears in frame again and we follow him to
the kitchen where he picks up the wall phone. He stares at it
for a moment, then pushes 911. He has a few specks of blood
on his face, hand and shirt.
Yes ma'am. I need the police over
here at the Wheatley house.
I've killed somebody with a mower
Yes ma'am, I'm right sure of it. I
hit him two good whacks. That
second time just plumb near cut his
head in two.
Hits a little old yeller house
right on the corner of Marigold
Street and some other street.
They's a red pickup truck out front
says DOYLE HARGRAVES CONSTRUCTION
on it. I'll be a settin' here
waitin' on ye. Beside sendin' the
police, Doyle said you might want
to send a ambulance or a hearse.
He hangs up and goes to the refrigerator and takes out a jar
of mustard. He gets a knife out of the drawer and sits at the
kitchen table and pulls back a table cloth that is covering
up some leftovers. He picks up a biscuit and opens the
mustard jar and runs the knife around it.
There's hardly any mustard in it. He dabs a little on the
biscuit and takes a bite and relaxes to wait for the law.
CLOSE UP OF CHARLES THE NUT CASE
He's in the middle of one of his sick monologues. We pull
back and see we're in the recreation room of the hospital
again with Karl in his usual chair listening to Charles. Karl
is now wearing the hospital issue clothing.
... on the third day I washed her.
She wasn't very clean. I got all
the right spots. She was the first
one I ever kept for any length of
time, you see I get bored easily, I
have a short attention span. I
can't say she enjoyed her stay,
although the washcloth in her mouth
held in place by good duct tape
kept any complaints to a minimum. I
don't really like people who talk a
lot. I like to do the talking. I
guess that's why I'm so fond of
you. You're so easygoing, although
I do sense a little tension in you
sometimes. By the way, how was it
out there? Did you have any fun?
Make any new acquaintances? Tell me
what it was like.
They was a boy. We made friends.
I bet you did. I was never bent
that way. I'm bent the other way.
So, you liked it out there in the
It's too big.
Well, it's not too big in here, is
I feel very generous today. I feel
like listening. I'm sure you have
plenty to tell me. And please bore
me with the details.
(long pause) )
Come on Karl, who did you kill? Was
it the boy?
Don't say nothin' about that boy.
Karl looks him right in the eye for the first time ever.
Fact the bidness, don't you say
another word to me. I ain't
listenin' to you no more.
Karl gets up and goes to the window and looks out at the
grass that separates him from the next building. He stares
out the window, as we: