"I AM SAM"
INT. STARBUCKS - 7:30 A.M.
We're watching a pair of hands arrange white sugar packets,
blue Equal packets, and pink Sweet and Low into small
containers. With precision and lightning speed, the mixed up
colors and crumpled packets are transformed into neat little
color-coded rows. Wait, this container has three Equals and
four Sweet 'n' lows. The hand quickly plucks the mutant
Sweet 'n' Low. There. Symmetry.
We move up those hands and meet SAM DAWSON as he surveys his
domain. Something about him. He's extremely compelling,
uniquely handsome. But it's more than that. Those eyes,
they sparkle with the wonder of a child. Life's cynical edge
has not etched it's path across this face. They light on a
COFFEE CUP held by one of the Regulars.
Double double decaf low-fat Cap.
You got it, buddy.
Good choice very good choice.
Sam moves along, commenting to CUSTOMERS as he places Sweet
'n Lows on tables, the self-appointed host of Starbucks.
Mocha rumba Frappuccino no whipped, half
low, half non. Excellent choice. Very
He stops in front of sale mugs and turns them so that the
logos all face the same way. His boss GEORGE approaches.
Sam, they called. It's time for you to
Sam FREEZES, but doesn't turn around.
Sam, did you hear me?
"It's time for you to go."
Without another word, Sam walks straight out the door.
EXT. LOS ANGELES STREET - DAY
Sam, still in his white apron, walks down the busy street.
He has a fast, loping gait that doesn't slow or hesitate for
anyone. A COUPLE argue on the sidewalk. Sam WALKS RIGHT
It's time. It's time.
Sam keeps moving, he crosses the street without stopping.
Traffic SCREECHES to a HALT! Cars HONK, a taxi driver YELLS.
It's time, it's time for you to go.
INT. HALLWAY - LATER
Sam plows down the hall and comes to room 324.
Sam pushes the DOOR OPEN. And we REALIZE we are entering: A
HOSPITAL LABOR DELIVERY ROOM AT LA COUNTY HOSPITAL.
REBECCA is in the middle of a major contraction. Her face is
the opposite of Sam's. Hardened. She lets out a scream that
stops Sam dead in his tracks. GERTIE, a no-nonsense Black
Nurse, looks up from the monitor.
You the one responsible for this?
Sam nods, taking Gertie quite literally.
Too late for sorries, daddy, get over
here and hold her hand.
Sam reaches for Rebecca's hand. She pulls it away. ANOTHER
CONTRACTION - Rebecca screams. Sam SCREAMS.
You got a live one, Gert.
INT. LABOR ROOM - LATER
Okay, this is it!
(spins in circles)
This is it! This is it!
And it's a girl...
The BABY lets out her first cry. Sam watches, awestruck.
Gertie wraps the baby in a blanket and holds her out to
Rebecca. Rebecca shakes her head - NOT NOW. Gertie walks
over to Sam.
There's someone who's been waitin' an
awful long time to see you, Sam.
She places the BABY into SAM'S ARMS. Suddenly Sam's whole
body RELAXES and becomes very still. He looks to Rebecca,
but she has turned away. He meets Gertie's eyes. Then in
This is it.
What's her name?
(looks at clock)
Let me see let me see let me see.
12:17, March 2nd. Lucy in the Sky with
Diamonds. Recorded March 2nd. 1967.
Lyrics by John Lennon, music by Paul
McCartney. Lucy Diamond Dawson.
We hear LIKE A LULLABY, "Picture yourself on a boat in a
river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies..."
EXT. HOSPITAL - NEXT MORNING
Sam, holding the baby, and Becca, having just checked out,
walk down the steps of the hospital holding their
complimentary plastic baby bag. Sam is nervous haling the
precious cargo and Becca is agitated. They see the bus
pulling up and down the street and Sam moves quickly so they
can hurry and catch it. As he approaches the bus, he looks
to Becca by his side, but she is not there. He looks around
and no sign of her.
Frantically turning in a full circle, he sees the fabric of
her dress disappearing into the crowd down the street. He
The more he screams the faster she moves away. Till there's
no trace of her. Sam stands in the middle of the busy block
holding Lucy to his chest, devastated.
We hear, "Look for the girl with the clouds in her eyes, but
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. BUS - NIGHT
Sam holds the now sleeping baby to his chest. Next to him is
the plastic bag from the hospital containing diapers, two
cans of formula and a half empty bottle of milk. Sam is
surrounded by PASSENGERS, the eerie world of the underground
at night. Instinctively, Sam holds her even tighter, two
against the world.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - DAWN
A marvel of organization. A closet reveals clothes on
hangers exactly equidistant from each other; precisely folded
T-shirts, underwear and socks organized by color. A
carefully systemized record collection fills makeshift
Beatles posters from every era decorate the walls. Becca's
things sit in one corner. An island of chaos in an "Hold
Everything" showroom. The kitchen counter has been
transformed into a changing table. Bottles and pacifiers
lined up next to a stack of cloth diapers. Underneath, a
clothes line of baby clothes.
The sound of a CRYING BABY breaks the silence. The camera
follows and finds the CRADLE: a DRAWER tucked snugly into a
blanket hanging like a hammock between two chairs. An
exhausted SAM POPS up from his bed, behind the hammock. He
swings the hammock, hoping against hope the baby will go back
Didn't you just fall asleep, little
(Lucy cries harder)
Okay, if you say it's time to get up,
then it's time to get up, time to get
(Sam sniffs the air)
Oh my, oh my, oh my. Quite a bit of
He rushes over to the kitchen counter and unsnaps the baby's
pajamas, revealing a cloth diaper held together with
promotional buttons: one says "Hertz, #1 for Car Rentals",
the other a picture of Magic Johnson and reads "Go, Lakers,
Go!" Sam undoes it.
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. Let me
see let me see let me see.
Sam attempts to clean and diaper her. He finally manages to
pin the buttons so that it at least stays on.
You look very beautiful this morning,
He holds her up, and the diaper falls down around her ankles.
We pan across a row of diapers on a supermarket shelf:
HUGGIES, PAMPERS, EXTRA ABSORBENT PAMPERS, LUVS...
INT. WALMART - DAY
Sam stares at the "Great Wall of Diapers", awed. He reaches
for the Pampers, balancing Lucy, then the Luvs, no, the
Huggies. Sam stops moving, Lucy starts CRYING, so he jogs in
place. Sam decides on one of each. He heads to the FORMULA
AISLE. Gerber, Carnation, Carnation Iron Fortified. He
stops. Lucy WAILS. WE HEAR THE SONG "HELP, I NEED SOMEBODY"
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - 9 P.M.
Sam paces, carrying Lucy who screams at the top of her lungs.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - 11:25 P.M.
Sam rocks the CRYING BABY in the hammock. He's exhausted,
but she's just getting started. He puts another blanket on
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - 1:30 A.M.
Peace. A punch-drunk Sam lays the sleeping baby into the
cradle as if she were a bomb that might detonate.
He tiptoes, his FIST raised victoriously - "YES!" He doesn't
get two steps before Lucy wakes screaming. Defeated, he
picks her up. HELP. The PHONE RINGS. HE PRESSES speaker.
RASPY WOMAN (O.S.)
What the hell are you doing to that
He looks out his window and sees ANNIE CASSELL, his neighbor
on the phone, watching him through her window. She is a
strange creature with very thick glasses. We sense a
uniquely profound intelligence behind all that armor.
Everything's so tiny, tiny. Tiny.
Everything. Won't you please come over?
Help. I need somebody. Won't you
please please help me.
You know I can't do that. What does her
Her mother? Her mother said "This isn't
my life. I'm outta here when she comes.
It didn't mean anything, Sam. It was
just one night. The two of you. That's
all I need..." Annie, what if she's
EXT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS
ANNIE has her door open a crack. Annie feels the baby's
forehead. Lucy stares up at her, quiet now, fascinated.
She's overheated and not eating enough.
How often are you feeding her?
A lot, Gerber, Carnation, Gerber.
What's a lot?
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three
Babies need food every two hours, Sam.
Oh. I'm sorry Lucy Diamond.
What time does the little diamond wake
She never really goes to sleep.
Okaaaay. Well, let's assume she's up at
six. Keep your TV on Nickelodeon. I
want you to feed her first while
"Bewitched" is on. Then again, when
"Hogan's Heroes" starts. After that,
well until "Father Knows Best..."
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - EVENING
We are watching "Hogan's Heroes". We hear SHULTZ'S INFAMOUS
RESPONSE: "I know nothing, absolutely nothing!" Sam feeds a
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - LATER
"Father Knows Best" on TV. Lucy blissfully falls asleep in
Sam's arms. Euphoric, he tiptoes to the cradle and places
her ever so gently, when suddenly, the FRONT DOOR FLIES OPEN.
Sam's BEST FRIENDS DESCEND inside: IFTY, a Pakistani
gentlemen with a gentle face and a wide smile, carrying a
large stuffed giraffe with a bow on it. BRAD, who sees
himself as a real ladies man, in tight jeans and a Farrah
Fawcett T-shirt; and ROBERT, highly paranoid, thinks the
world's out to get him. Lucy WAILS. Sam RUNS to the CRIB.
What are you doing here now?! Her first
sound sleep, not a sound, not a sound.
Eight years every Thursday Video Night
and you forgot?!
Oh my god, Video Night. First Thursday
of the month. Video night at Sam's
house. I'm sorry, I forgot.
Becca's gone. "Gone with the Wind" is a
very sad movie.
Oh here we go...Everything changes now.
Soon you'll forget about Wednesday night
Denny's and Friday night Karaoke. And I
got hit by a car today.
It's probably that guy from the V.A.
I can't discuss it. And now this.
Ifty makes ORIGAMI BIRDS out of newspapers. Lucy's rapt.
She looks smart, doesn't she?
Of course, look. She's already reading
the newspaper. I have five smart
sisters in Pakistan. I am only brother.
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" was a
wonderful movie I forgot to bring last
week for Video Night...
Did you get "Blade Runner" for tonight?
Now it's all my fault?!
Don't tell me you forgot again. I broke
a date with a daydream to come here.
There's a knock at the door. Ifty goes to get it. Brad
moans when he sees his 65 YEAR OLD MOTHER, ESTELLE, standing
in the doorway.
Mom! I told you Video Night's over at
nine! It's only six-thirty!
(unaware of the baby)
Sorry. I'll wait in the lobby.
She exits. Lucy begins to CRY. Brad takes her - like a hot
potato, Robert takes her - now Ifty runs around in circles.
She needs motion. My father drove my
sisters in his taxi to get them to go to
sleep. Two-fifty surcharge on all
taxi's from the airport...
I got hit by a taxi on Tuesday.
And it all starts again and we --
EXT. BUS - NIGHT
An empty bus makes its way through the city at night.
INT. BUS - NIGHT
Main and Temple...again. She out yet?
The camera moves along and stops on the long seat at the
back. Sam lies with Lucy spooned into the crook of his arm,
Almost there, almost there. One more
round and she'll be down for the night.
We hear the song "Golden Slumbers". In a SERIES OF
DISSOLVES, we see Lucy and Sam in DIFFERENT SLEEPING
POSITIONS on the bus seat. Gradually, she GROWS in HIS
PROTECTIVE EMBRACE --
ONE MONTH, THEN TWO. NOW FIVE. She's BIG AND ROUND at SIX
MONTHS. And on and on into the night...
INT. WALMART'S PHOTO BOOTH - DAY
We see Sam and Lucy CRAMMED into the booth, wearing birthday
hats, taking HER FIRST BIRTHDAY picture. We see the PHOTO
STRIP as it comes out of the slot. Sam's shoulder with
Lucy's ear - Lucy's nose with Sam's elbow, their faces never
made it into the picture.
INT. STARBUCKS - 8:30 A.M.
The place is packed. Sam moves from table to table,
Double macciatto, low foam, low-fat.
Good choice, very good choice.
Sam turns and WE SEE LUCY attached to him in a handmade
snugly, crocheted by Annie. She faces outward, all hands,
all 16 MONTHS of her; too big for the snugly. She grabs a
croissant from a customer. George looks confused. Then
makes a SWIPE for a customer's coffee, knocking it to the
ground. It SPLATTERS all over an anorexic, on-her-fourth
double-latte WOMAN in a designer exercise outfit. She begins
shrieking. George looks at Sam, this can't go on.
INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY - MORNING
Sam, Lucy by his side, has his foot in Annie's door.
Please, Annie! She's too big to take to
I'm not a baby-sitter. I'm too busy.
Annie, Annie, Annie...
Did you teach her that?
It was her first word. Very first word.
Annie opens the door, takes Lucy's hand, and pulls her in.
And people worry you're not smart.
INT. ANNIE'S APARTMENT - ONE WEEK LATER
The apartment looks like a fallout shelter. The kitchen
contains enough canned goods to last a year. Brightly
colored crocheted doilies - Annie's hobby - adorn every
available surface. The BRIGHTLY COLORED WEB of an
Lucy sits in Annie's lap, getting her first piano lesson. WE
SEE LUCY'S TINY FINGERS on the keys. In a SERIES OF
DISSOLVES, it is joined by Annie's hand tapping out one note,
now two notes, and as the weeks pass, a chord. Until finally
the notes merge to become the most unlikely duet of "Twinkle,
Twinkle, Little Star".
This is Mozart. He did twenty-two
variations of "Twinkle Twinkle Little
Star". You smell good. You can tell a
lot about a person by their smell. If
they've got too much perfume on they're
covering something up. You gotta watch
someone who smells like soap. Gotta
wonder what their priorities are.
Nervous people. People who try too
hard. They smell like fish. But you.
You smell like milk. Milk and hope.
Lucy leaves the piano and toddles over to Annie's loom and
plays with a ball yarn.
Annie opens the door to pull in the groceries. The ball of
yarn ROLLS OUT the door and Lucy chases after it. Annie,
Lucy! Come back here! Come back!
It becomes obvious Annie can't walk outside. Trembling:
"Lucy in the sky with diamonds..."
Hearing the familiar tune, Lucy stops and toddles back.
Annie sweeps her up, relieved and we --
INT. KARAOKE BAR - NIGHT
Sam on stage, with Ifty and Brad as his back-up singers,
continuing the song in the oddest, most heartfelt version to
Lucy who sits on Robert's lap and in heaven.
EXT. PARK - DAY
A beautiful blue sky. And "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
continues as Lucy's THREE YEAR OLD laughing face SWINGS INTO
FRAME on a swing then DISAPPEARS out THE OTHER END OF FRAME.
Now Lucy SWINGS BACK DOWN and out of the other end again...
Sam's FACE, glowing with delight, APPEARS AGAINST THE SKY and
then disappears. Sam and Lucy are on swings surrounded by
MOTHERS and KIDS at the park.
Daddy, where does the sky end?
Let me see, let me see. I've never been
there but they say it's somewhere near
EXT. PARK - ONE YEAR LATER
Lucy FLIES INTO FRAME, now FOUR, sitting on Sam's lap,
Are lady bugs only girls or are there
boys, too. And if there are, what are
EXT. PARK - ONE YEAR LATER
Then Lucy FLIES INTO FRAME, now FIVE, followed by Sam.
Do I look more like you or Mommy?
ON SAM'S FACE
He knew this moment would come.
INT. DENNY'S - THURSDAY NIGHT DINNER - EVENING
Lucy and Sam are having a serious talk over breaded Sole.
If you and Mommy liked each other enough
to have me, how come you're not together
I think she fell out of love with me.
Not you, never you. Me, just me.
When you fall out of love where do you
Somewhere in Florida, I think.
Do you think she'll ever come back?
Paul McCartney lost his mother when he
was fourteen. John lost his mother
twice. First when Julie gave John to
her sister Mimi to raise. And then
again when Julia was hit by a car. They
say God picks certain people, special
people. That's what they say.
Lucy takes this in. Sam begins to shift his tomatoes just
so... his potatoes just slightly to the left. Lucy watches.
Daddy, did God mean for you to be like
this or was it an accident?
Do you mean - what do you mean?
I mean you're different.
What do you mean? I mean, what do you
You're not like the other daddies.
I'm not am I. I'm sorry.
Don't be sorry. I'm lucky. Nobody
else's daddy ever comes to the park.
ON SAM'S FACE
Filled with relief. Bursting with love.
We are very lucky, aren't we?
Grace approaches with two plates of pie, ice cream on the
Ice cream on the side.
Not on top. Not on top.
Good choice. Very good choice.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - THURSDAY NIGHT VIDEO NIGHT
Brad, I know it was your turn. I'm sure
I swear to God it was Robert's turn.
Why is it always my fault?
I keep track, last time, I say to
myself, I say, write it down... Bank of
America give away beautiful calendar,
every month a picture of wild animal,
look June, an Elk. Elke Sommer...she
starred in the remake of "Prisoner of
Zenda"... Three stars Leonard Maltin
video movie guide.
As they go on, Lucy matter-of-factly PULLS A VIDEO OUT OF HER
BACKPACK, and puts it in the VCR. She turns it on. It's
"Kramer vs. Kramer". Everyone stops their arguing and stares
Annie let me borrow it.
INT. CHILDREN'S SHOE STORE - DAY
A row of brand new children's shoes on display. Lucy tries
on dozens of school shoes, surrounded by Sam and her
"Godfathers": Ifty, Brad and Robert.
You need a good sturdy school shoe.
Arches are very important.
Sturdy is boring. Red shoes bring good
But red doesn't got with green.
Except on Christmas.
No brown clodhoppers. Everyone will
make fun of her.
NO ONE will make fun of Lucy.
She might be stupid.
No she's not --
Did they test her?
You don't know for sure.
Yes I do.
But if she is, don't make her go to
Don't let her in the lunch room. Johnny
And gym. Get her a pass. The rules for
volleyball are so hard to remember.
"Rotate Rackman Rotate."
Throw the ball at his forehead and the
water on his brain will come out his
Meanwhile, Lucy has been trying on a simple brown shoe.
I like these.
She know what she likes. She likes
these. How much are they?
One penny less than fifty. These shoes
are one penny less than fifty?
It's okay, Dad. I don't really like
No, no no no no.
We'll all give ten dollars.
I've only got three plus five. But I
need one for stamps.
Don't pull your wad out in front of
They all dig in their pockets and begin counting very slowly.
Thank you, thank you. We are rich in
friends. That's what our fortune cookie
said. 1, 2, 3, 4, quarters that makes
I'll count it.
Is it enough?
If there's a God.
Do we get a balloon with these?
All of us, or just her?
SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. STREET NEAR SHOE STORE - DAY
Those new little brown shoes walking in between four pairs of
man's shoes. We move up from those shoes to see FIVE PAIR OF
HANDS tightly clasping their balloons as they march
victoriously down the street. We MOVE IN on Lucy's little
brown shoes skipping with joy and --
EXT. SCHOOL FIELD - DAY
Those same little shoes in the midst of a mass of black
soccer cleats. We move up and see Lucy in the middle of a
fierce kids soccer game.
Score's tied. The ball comes to Lucy. She kicks and misses.
From the sidelines we hear:
Beautiful kick! Very close!
Lucy looks up at her dad proudly. The ball comes again.
Nobody could miss this one. But Lucy does.
Thatta girl! Thatta girl! They're
getting scared now!
The game continues. The GOALIE'S FATHER, DUNCAN RHODES,
handsome, commanding and dressed in a suit, calls to his son:
C'mon, Conner! On your toes! They're
all counting on you!
Conner tenses up, alert under the pressure. Meanwhile, down
at the other end, the ball heads toward Lucy. She kicks it!
Hard. Right into her team's own goal. The crowd GROANS.
Hurray, Lucy! You're getting the hang
of it now! You've got them scared now!
Lucy's bursting with confidence, plows toward the ball and
NAILS IT! The ball goes flying. The parents in the stand
are completely baffled! Sam is completely ecstatic!
L-u-c-y! That's our battlecry!
The ball heads into the goal, just passing the goalie,
Conner. Sam runs to embrace Lucy when he hears Duncan
reaming his son --
The whole game was right in front of
your nose! I leave work early to watch
you blow the whole game!?
Conner slouches against the fence as his father walks away.
Seeing this, Sam whispers to Lucy.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - AFTERNOON
A child's hand double jumps across a checker board.
Lucy and Conner are playing checkers while Sam cooks dinner.
Two carrots cut into ten pieces. Bow Tie Pasta - 35 pieces
What's wrong with your father? Why's he
acting like a retard?
Their hands graze against each other on the check board - he
pulls his hand away.
Are you sure?
How do you know?
He told me.
But he's a retard.
Yeah well it takes one to know one!
He crowns her - her eyes shift to Sam in the kitchen, for the
first time a bit uneasily.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Sam's reading Lucy her homework book.
"They perched in sisisi..."
"...silence for a long time." Boy.
Your teacher chose a hard book this
time. "How can we be so difdifdif..."
Sam glances up at Lucy self-consciously. Lucy grabs the book
from Sam, tosses it on the pile and picks up another.
I don't like that book - let's read
"Green Eggs and Ham".
Relieved, Sam plunges into the book, which is more memorized
"I am Sam, Sam I am. Do you like green
eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam I
They both laugh, delighted. Lucy looks sleepy.
Lucy is getting drowsy. Sam is just getting started.
"And I will eat them here and there.
Say I will eat them ANYWHERE. I do so
like green eggs and ham, thank you thank
you, Sam I am!" One more time!
Daddy, I have school tomorrow...I don't
wanna be too sleepy.
Just the part about the boat and the
goat in the rain in the train?
Daddy, Hamburger Hamlet has twelve
different kinds of hamburgers. Can we
go there Wednesday instead of Denny's?
But Wednesday night's Denny's,
Thursday's Video Night, Friday Night
Lucy nods, a little deflated.
How about one more time, just the
beginning? "I am Sam, Sam I am..."
Lucy sighs and closes her eyes against her father's chest.
INT. CLASSROOM - DAY
Lucy draws a picture while everyone reads aloud from
Lucy, your turn. Start where Sara left
Sure you can.
"They perched in sisisisi..."
(throws down book)
There. I told you. It's too hard.
Lucy! I know you can read this!
No, I can't! And you can't make me!
Lucy runs out of the class.
EXT. BUS STOP - DUSK
Sam, in sunglasses, waits for the BUS. A YOUNG WOMAN, LILY,
sits down next to him. The WIND CATCHES her floral dress
that's just left of innocent; just right of alluring. She
reads a TABLOID.
Look here. "Premature baby claims he's
cupid - has the arrow to prove it." Do
you believe that?
Well, if he has the arrow.
Yeah. You got a good point.
She crosses her legs. A tuft of pink dress falls on Sam's
You're a good reader.
Yeah, I've always been smart.
You're lucky. I'm looking for a smart,
I can be a mother. A real good mother.
Oh, good. Good.
I could even spank you.
Oh no no no. I don't believe in that.
Okay okay. I can be very gentle.
Gentle. Gentle. Yes. Do you tell
I got stories up the wazoo. Why don't
you come with me. I'll tell you a nice
I have to pick up Lucy at Annie's first.
A menage a toi?
French, French the language of France.
You could teach my daughter, Lucy.
Your daughter?! Can't you pick her up
After?! No no, Lucy comes too.
She takes Sam's hand, they move to get on the bus JUST AS
ANOTHER HAND brusquely lands on theirs.
Not so fast. You're under arrest.
He wanted to bring his kid, I said no.
A lightbulb flashes and we --
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS - THAT NIGHT
Sam blinks as his MUGSHOT is being taken. Now the profile.
He turns so they can get the back of his head. Now the
Now Sam, in the corner of the room, on the phone making
thumbprints on the wall. While the COP discusses his case
with a social worker, MARGARET BROWN. Over the years she's
seen it all, and to get through it has had to pretend it's
just a job.
It's the first time in nineteen years I
actually believe the guy when he says he
didn't know she was a hooker --
You say that like it's a good thing.
...Your teeth don't sound like they were
brushed. Do it with me now.
Let him go. He says he's never spent a
night away from his kid... Come with me -
I got a guy who beat the shit out of his
two year old. Again.
Her cell phone beeps.
Yes. I am seeing you tomorrow, Mr.
Rabins. She's still screaming? No,
McDonald's won't help...she's four
Thirteen up...not on the gum line not on
the gum line, 1, 2, 3.
Margaret watches Sam as he talks to Lucy on the phone.
INT. PRINCIPALS OFFICE - DAY
The WALLS are lined with CHILDREN'S ART. Various
interpretations of the family. We stop at one of a very
small man and a very big little girl with her arm around him.
It gives us a great deal of insight into
what she must be feeling. And in the
classroom, it's becoming clear she's
holding herself back. It's as if she's
literally afraid to learn.
We PULL BACK and see Sam staring at the picture. Mrs. Wright
and the principal watch him.
MISS WRIGHT (CONT'D)
No one doubts that you love your
daughter, Mr. Dawson. But the
Department of Social Services contacted
us. They shared with us that your
records show that your intellectual
capacity is around that of a seven year
old. Our concern is what happens when
Lucy turns eight?
Mr. Dawson, do you understand what Miss
Wright is trying to tell you about Lucy?
No one wanted The Beatles to break up.
But you can hear it on the White Album.
They were going in different directions.
INT. LUCY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
It's bedtime. Sam and Lucy are reading from "STELLALUNA".
How can we be so dif..dif...I don't know
Yes you do. It starts with a "d" --
I don't believe you.
Are you calling me a liar?
Yes. Now read the word.
No you're not.
I don't want to read it if you can't.
It makes me happy. I'm happy hearing
you read it.
He holds the book open for Lucy. Now Lucy, pushing through a
mountain of resistance, reads. And reads beautifully.
"Why are we different and so much
INT. SCHOOL HALLOWEEN PARADE - AUDITORIUM - DAY
Two children, dressed as Batman, march followed by
CINDERELLA. We see Lucy dressed in NEWSPAPER - an ORIGAMI
BIRD. And behind her, marching more proudly than any child,
is Sam, dressed as PAUL McCARTNEY, in the black suit era -
with Beatle boots and guitar strapped to his chest. Sam is
the only adult participating in the parade.
Music BLASTS over the loudspeaker. Sam begins to dance with
joyous abandon. Lucy joins him. They dance together
Suddenly Lucy becomes aware that her classmates are beginning
to laugh. She slows and watches through their eyes Sam pony
around the room. Conner pulls up his pants high on his waist
and begins to imitate Sam. Another kid joins him.
I'm a Super Freak!
And I thought my dad was a dork.
Lucy's face hardens for the first time. In a corrupt world
the pure can only stay pure for so long.
INT. HAMBURGER HAMLET - EVENING
Sam and Lucy sit in a booth. Lucy's ecstatic. Sam's trying.
They have eleven different kinds of
hamburgers. This is so great.
A new place. Your choice. I said we'd
go to a new place. And here we are.
Sam anxiously rearranges the condiments on the table. Lucy
tries to fold a napkin into an Origami bird.
You know what else I want for my
birthday, Daddy? I want a hundred
The napkins are much stiffer at Denny's.
They make better birds. There's not so
much stuff on the tables there either.
Why do they have two kinds of mustard on
No, no coffee. Sam's system can't
Okaaay! What can I get you folks?
I'd like the Benito Bandito burger and a
chocolate chip milkshake, please.
I'll have the fish special, side of
potatoes, salad with Thousand Island
Dressing, cherry pie, and...
I'm sorry, sir. We don't have a fish
special. There's fish and chips. It
comes with a dinner salad.
Chips, chips? You mean potato chips? I
don't want potato chips. I want a side
You want french fries?
No, a side of potatoes, like at Denny's.
A side of potatoes.
They're little red potatoes.
We don't have new potatoes...
Denny's has new potatoes. Six new
potatoes parsley garnish parsley
Her smile fades.
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. DENNY'S - HALF-HOUR LATER
Sam happily eats his fish special with six new potatoes.
Lucy's untouched dinner sits in the middle of the table. She
doodles on the placement - drawing a man sitting with a pile
of new potatoes in front of him; larger than he is.
Fish and chips fish and chips. I will
not eat fish and chips.
I will not eat them here or there! I
will not eat them anywhere! I will not
eat green eggs and ham! I will not eat
them, Sam I am!
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - DAY
Balloons and a banner reading "Happy Birthday, Lucy!" For
Lucy's birthday, Sam has rented a moon bounce - which sits in
the center of the apartment and filling the entire place -
leaving no room for the few kids and their parents. Brad
stands too close to a young attractive mother. Robert shakes
all the presents suspiciously.
Now when they come through the door,
everybody yell "Surprise!" Do you want
to rehearse again?
No. I bet she already knows.
I didn't tell her. Did Brad say I did?
There's a KNOCK at the door.
Is that Lucy? Annie's supposed to call
and warn us. Shhhh, everyone.
Brad hits the lights. Sam OPENS THE DOOR and everyone yells
"SURPRISE!" But instead of Lucy, it's the Social Worker.
I don't know if you remember me. I'm
Margaret Brown from Children's Social
Services. We met at the police station.
Put your present over there - Hurry up!
Lucy might be on her way.
(the phone rings)
Hello? Annie says she's coming up the
stairs. Everyone be quiet. Assume
(Conner keeps talking)
Be quiet! Assume surprise positions!
Why are you such a party pooper?!
Assume surprise positions!
Sam puts a hand over Conner's mouth; Conner struggles against
He's gonna ruin the surprise! He's
gonna ruin the surprise!
He touched me! I've got cooties! I've
Get your hands off my boy!
Conner's father hurls Sam across the room - Sam gets tangled
in the MOON BOUNCE! To get attention, Conner bursts into
tears. We hear FOOTSTEPS outside the door - Brad hits the
lights. We hear a CRASH! And in the light, the DOOR SHEDS
as it opens, Lucy and Ifty see - that MOONBOUNCE, swaying.
Then from within the Moonbounce:
Surprise! Happy Birthday!
Lucy stands frozen, holding a red balloon.
You don't have to call him "Daddy".
(in Sam's face)
She says you're not her real father,
anyway. She's adopted!
Humiliated, Lucy RUNS AWAY! The Social Worker watches,
profoundly concerned, and reaches for her cellular phone.
EXT. WALMART - DAY
A police car pulls into the parking lot. Sam and Margaret in
the back. Sam and Margaret see Lucy's little feet dangling
from beneath the curtain of the photo booth.
I'll go get her.
It would be better if you stay here.
I'm sorry to say this, Mr. Dawson, it's
clear how much you love your daughter,
but we're going to have to remove Lucy
from your home.
Sam's baffled. One cop places his hand on Sam's shoulder,
restraining him. The OTHER heads toward the photo booth.
No, no no no. It's her birthday! It's
I know how hard this must be...
(cell phone rings)
...Hello, Betsy. I'm scheduled to come
to your apartment at four. No, not five
every two hours. It's two every five
hours. She only weighs thirty pounds
(back to Sam)
The city has given me the difficult task
of deciding when to intervene on behalf
of the child. Unfortunately, I've
learned the hard way that it's better
too soon than too late. For now the
court will decide what's in Lucy's best
Sam watches the cop's legs meet Lucy's under the curtain.
Suddenly, Sam screams from the deepest core of his being.
Run, Lucy, run!
We see LUCY'S FEET KICK the COP'S LEGS and wrestle out of his
grasp. She flies out the booth, holding that balloon. She
runs down the street, the balloon soaring into the sky - a
cop follows. Sam struggles.
Reeling, devastated, we HEAR A JUDGE speaking:
Given the fact that the father was
arrested for solicitation, did not
cooperate with the police...
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Sam sits ALONE. At another table, Margaret Brown and a
lawyer, along with several people from the CPS.
...could not control his emotions,
endangering other children. Miss Brown
also cites Mr. Dawson's mental
deficiencies which raise serious
questions about his ability to properly
parent. I agree to grant petition.
The child shall be removed from the home
until a forma jurisdictional hearing.
Mr. Dawson, is there anything you'd like
Yes. I just wanted it to be a nice
surprise party. I had gotten the plates
at Pic-N-Save. Pink and yellow, pink
and yellow. Like a princess. And the
balloons at --
Mr. Dawson, it sounds like a lovely
party, but right now I want to talk to
you about your legal rights. I would
strongly suggest you get yourself legal
counsel and allow your attorney to
present your case at the jurisdictional
hearing on February 13th. Counsel, are
Ted, I have a trial that day.
February 20th. 8:00 a.m.
Twenty-two days? Lucy will come home
and you want me to bring Lucy back in
No, Mr. Dawson. You'll have supervised
visits twice a week for two hours. Now
I'm sorry, we have thirty more cases to
see today. Next! Hopkins vs. Clifford.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - DAY
Sam's on the phone, a teddy bear in his hand. Robert, Ifty,
and Brad all sit with Yellow Pages open in front of them.
Thursday? Today is Monday, Mrs. Brown.
That's three days away. That's too
long. She can't sleep without Mr.
Jeeters. Well if you're not available
until Thursday, maybe I could see her
without you there...
maybe the Judge made a mistake - maybe
he doesn't know that for seven years I
played with her without you there...No
Mrs. Brown, I'm not trying to violate
(the other line hangs up)
I bet they were recording the whole
conversation. Check your phone. You
can't make a move. You need a lawyer.
Call Jerry Spence. He has his own show.
He must know what he's doing.
No. Johnny Cochran. He has his own
Yeah! He can even get a guilty person
So you think I'm guilty?
No. You didn't kill anybody.
But she said I'm not her father.
She didn't say that. That runty kid
with the blue shirt and the mean father
whose voice sounds like the man on the
Channel Four News who has a toupee.
Toupees are expensive.
But Ifty. She said it.
But she didn't mean it. I said I hated
my mother once. "Once upon a time..."
is how stories begin.
You should get a personal injury lawyer.
You've been personally injured.
Here - look at this - "Sebastion
Gibson." He can do anything.
Pedestrians. Back and neck. Uninsured
Motorist. Dog attacks.
The Social Worker said it's a custody
Then get a divorce lawyer.
When Dustin Hoffman was trying to keep
Billy from going back to Meryl Streep,
his lawyer said it was going to cost him
fifteen thousand dollars - and that's if
Fifteen thousand dollars!
Don't worry about money now. Get the
best. Century City - Here: "Rubel Bly
Harrison and Williams".
INT. RITA HARRISON'S CENTURY CITY OFFICE - DAY
A Century City lawyer spins in front of our eyes. It's SAM'S
POV as he sits in a chair that spins - in the center of RITA
HARRISON'S lavish, penthouse office. Now we see the
panoramic of Los Angeles. Now the dots in the Lichtenstein
on the wall WHIRL PAST US. Now the DOOR SWINGS OPEN AND --
RITA HARRISON and her assistant burst in. Rita moves in
opposite circles around the room. Looking for something. In
fact, as we watch Rita, we realize that she never stops
moving. Period. Ten steps ahead of anyone, too much energy,
too much caffeine, not enough food. If she slowed down a
beat she might get vulnerable. Can't have that. Can't be
wrong. Can't really look you in the eye. Can't help it if
she's smarter than anyone else in the room. Any room. Any
Did Fred Kimble call? I'm already
twenty minutes late.
What'd Michelle Kresge say?
She wasn't defensive, was she?
That's ridiculous. What happened with
Because it wasn't my fault.
Thank you, Patricia.
This is Mr. Dawson. There was some
confusion with the temp last week and --
Mr. Dawson, it's a pleasure. Since
somebody made a mistake, unfortunately
we only have a little time. Hold all my
calls unless it's my kid - I'll have a
Good choice, very good choice.
Can we get you anything to drink?
Is it free?
TEN MINUTES LATER --
Sam is in the middle of the beginning of his story. Rita on
her second cappuccino, eyes her computer screen for calls.
...Lucy had an ice-cream cake with pink
flowers - pink, not white not
white...Lucy's favorite is cherry
vanilla which is pink, too. Cherries
Uh huh uh huh -- uh huh uh
If that's Jake Hiller, put him through.
(picking up phone)
Jake. No no no no no no.
Your son's on line two.
Jake, did you get that?!
Tell him to hold for just one second.
Jake I have to go...he what?
Deborah Chapman on line three --
Hold on Jake.
(she punches another line)
No no no no no no no. Have a nice
(punches another button)
We HEAR MUSIC coming from the other end of the phone --
Burt Bacharach shared billing with The
Beatles and Jose Jiminez on the Ed
Sullivan Show June 5th, 1968.
Jake, what'd you say you tell him yes I
(yelling; re: coffee)
This tastes like low, are you sure it's
non? Okay okay okay. I think there's
been a little mistake here --
Yes. A little one. Your son's on line
Oh my God.
(pushes another line)
(Danny's hung up)
Patricia? Get Danny back. Well keep
She unconsciously digs through the bowl of jelly beans on her
desk sorting out all the yellow ones.
Mr. Dawson, what I'm trying to say is
I'm a divorce lawyer and as much as I'd
like to, I don't handle cases like yours
Since you would like to, why don't you
talk to your boss. Maybe he would let
She pours the bowl of jelly beans onto her desk, now
frantically sorting through them.
Then keep dialing --
What I mean is that at this point in my
career, I can't afford to.
I earn eight dollars an hour at
Starbucks. I can pay your hourly rate,
rate by the hour, hourly --
Rita stands up, ushering him to the door.
Mr. Dawson, I'm sorry, I have to be in
court in eight minutes with the Kresges.
You understand, good luck to you and
don't give up.
She turns, ahhhh! He's gone! She begins searching the room.
Patricia?! Where are my keys? Where
the hell are my keys?! Alright alright.
I walked into the room - I went over
here - I looked at my desk - I put my
coat down - Patricia?! Where's my coat?
Is there a child involved in Mr.
Stunned, Rita looks up and sees Sam holding up a strip of
photos taken at the birthday booth.
This is Lucy. One year old. First
word, "apple". December third. 3:16
p.m. December third.
Out of his pocket he pulls another photo strip.
Here's Lucy two years old. First merry
go-round ride. June 6th. 4:13 p.m.
June 6th. Here's Lucy. Seven years
old. The day the police took her away.
Rita looks at the photo strip of Lucy's birthday. In the
first three we see Lucy's sad face. The fourth has a cop's
face smashed into the frame with her.
Thank you for telling me not to give up.
I won't give up.
(through the phone)
Danny on Line 2.
Rita LUNGES FOR THE PHONE.
Danny? Hi. Could we possibly talk
about this when I get home. Danny?
Danny? C'mon. You're not gonna talk to
me? I bought you a bag of your favorite
lemonade jelly beans. Danny?
(Rita starts singing)
"One little bird in one little tree,
we're all alone and we don't want to
be... So they flew far away over the
trees..." I said "Over the sea..." I
know the words, I said "Over the sea..."
Since when don't you like that song?
She checks her watch, puts him on the SPEAKER PHONE, and
frantically searches the room for her keys.
Silence. We hear SIX LOUD THUDS - the sound of a basketball
bouncing against the floor.
CLICK! The LINE GOES DEAD. Rita trips over the coffee
table, completely losing it.
I hate this stupid coffee table - how
many times have I asked you to get rid
of this crappy coffee table?
She kicks it, sending the lemonade jelly beans FLYING. Then,
after a beat.
(from the doorway)
You did say "over the trees" instead of
"over the sea." It's hard to remember
all the words to all the songs. There's
(Rita almost stops)
you have a child Rita rubel Bly Harrison
Williams. If they took him away
wouldn't you hire the fastest talking
four-named lawyer you could?
Yes, I would. I went to college with a
friend who does these kinds of cases.
Leave your number. I'll see if she can
(through your phone)
Your therapist on Line 1.
Tell him you can't find me.
INT. STARBUCKS - DAY
Sam is face to face with George.
Let's not add more stress to your life.
I'm ready. I'm ready to make coffee.
Lo-fat decaf latte. Coffee up to here.
Add steamed milk up to here. No foam,
no foam. Cinnamon or chocolate
That's pretty good Sam. I'll think
I know what that means. I stock shelves
at Lucky Supermarkets. I want to bag
groceries, Miss Losey says "I'll think
about it." Randy Brenner gets the job.
I was the janitor at the La Reina
Theater, I wanted to take tickets. Mr.
Jenkins said he'd think about it. Larry
Peters gets the job. Lets his friends
in for free...
I promise you, Sam. I'll honestly think
about it. You have my word.
Words, words, words. I need more than
that. I need to pay my lawyer. I need
to make coffee.
INT. RUBEL BLY HARRISON AND WILLIAMS - 8:15 P.M.
A group of Rita's colleagues are celebrating a big win. Rita
is backing out of the room with her glass of champagne.
I am celebrating congratulations to us
these are the moments good night.
She stops, stunned, as she sees Sam, sitting in the lobby
holding out a Starbucks Cappuccino.
Non-fat vente cap. I'm sorry to bother
you, but did you call your friend?
Your friend from college, your friend
who does this kind of work?
(there never was a friend)
I don't have her number anymore, Sam.
We lost touch.
Oh, that happens. That happens. People
lose touch. Will you call me if you
find it? If you get back in touch?
Yes, I'm just in the middle..it's a
special..I'll call you.
To avoid any further interaction, she heads back to the
employee party she previously escaped from. Sam walks down
Is that the new janitor?
No, it's a case. Sort of a pro-bono
Her assistant Patricia clears her throat.
What's that supposed to mean?
Nothing. A cracker went down the wrong
Muffled laughter from her colleagues.
You think I don't pro-bono?..I can do
pro-bono.. I can do Goddamn pro-bono..
where the hell are my keys..hold the
Rita runs to the open elevator and comes face to face with
Sam who's been holding the door open for her.
INT. ELEVATOR - CONTINUOUS
The door closes. Rita is trapped with Sam. She stares
forward trying to will him not there. Rita gulps her
32nd floor. 32 floors more. 31st
floor. 31 floors more...
And on and on and on. Rita is about to spontaneously
combust. Finally, "G" - Rita bolts out the elevator doors,
then just as suddenly turns around.
Alright, alright I'll take you.
Alright, Goddammitt, I'll take you.
Oh my God oh my God! Rubel Bly Harrison
Sam, shaking with relief, pulls out his wallet just as the
elevator door starts closing.
No, no no. Pro-bono. Alright? Pro
The doors close. We hear from within, as Sam goes up again:
Yes! Alright! I liked Sonny Bono too!
INT. BUS - MORNING
Sam stares out the window at an unfamiliar neighborhood. On
his lap, the pink box, now ripped, allowing us to see Lucy's
birthday cake. It's lopsided from having been thawed and
EXT. BUS STOP - NOON
Sam waits for his transfer. He sets the cake down on the
bench and takes out a piece of paper with directions written
on it. The number 43 bus pull sup and Sam consults his paper
once more before jumping on, forgetting the cake.
The bus goes half a block before it SCREECHES to a halt. Sam
jumps off and runs back for the cake, but the bus continues
on its way. Moments later, the NUMBER 34 bus pulls up.
Flustered and worried about being late, Sam jumps on. He
feels something cold on his hand, looks down, the box is
starting to leak ice cream.
INT. SOCIAL WORKERS OFFICE - DAY
Lucy, Margaret, a therapist and a child psychologist wait for
Lucy, I'm sorry. But it doesn't look
like he's going to make it.
He'll be here. You smell like soap.
Lucy, he's an hour and 45 minutes late.
You'll only have a few minutes left.
Suddenly through the door comes Sam CARRYING THE MELTED,
DRIPPING birthday cake. Lucy runs to him.
Daddy! I told you I told you!
INT. THE SOCIAL WORKER'S SMALL GREY OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER
Margaret, the therapist (Ms. Geller), and the Child
Pscyhologist all write voraciously into note pads as they
observe Sam and Lucy who sit in the center of the room,
nervous under their scrutiny.
...and she's a Century City lawyer - a
very famous lawyer. Guess what her name
is? Rita Harrison.
Lovely Rita Meter Maid.
Harrison. Just like George.
They move to hug each other. EVERYONE REACHES for their
pens. Sam pulls back self-consciously. Everyone writes even
Your ears are larger. And your eyes are
He's right. Her eyes are older. He hugs her - ALL THE PENS
I'm gonna get a phone machine. Next
paycheck. If I'm not home, you can
leave a message. "Hi, This is Lucy."
You can't afford a phone machine.
The writing starts again.
Yes we can. I'm in line for a
promotion. Big promotion. A promotion
They're gonna let you make coffee?!
Set your dreams high, Lucy.
Lucy looks at her father lovingly.
I'm sorry, Daddy. It was all my fault.
No, Lucy. Don't say that.
I wouldn't want any Daddy but you.
She looks around to see if anybody's writing. NOBODY IS.
She suddenly screams at them:
I said I was sorry! I said I didn't
want any Daddy but him! Why don't you
write that down?!
INT. RITA'S OFFICE - DAY
We hear sobbing and see Rita sitting across from a very rich,
very angry COUPLE. Rita's foot is twitching furiously.
...are you telling me that neither of
you want custody of your child?
He's created a monster. He's exactly
like him. He...he...
The woman is distracted by a loud thumping on Rita's glass
wall - it's SAM. Holding an envelope. Very distressed, as
the Secretary attempts to corral him back into the lobby.
I am right here with you, excuse me.
(she unlocks door)
Sam? Didn't I tell you that you have to
You know how to make an appointment.
That's ridiculous you can always get
Good. I'll see you next week.
But it's an emergency - lots of three
syllable words urgent open at once.
He hands the letter to Rita. Rita looks through the glass
wall at her clients who are getting impatient.
They want to have you and Lucy evaluated
by a shrink. The appointment is today
at three. Today. Now. Today!
I know and I want you to object.
Sam I can't object. It's court ordered.
Sam notices that the woman in Rita's office is crying. He
walks in and hands her a handkerchief from his pocket.
Here. Don't be sad.
She looks at him as if he's from Mars. Rita, now outside her
office, watches Sam now inside the office.
Patricia, I'm in the middle - get him
out of there -
She quickly gets up but Rita's too impatient and pushes past
her into the office.
Sam. Sam come with me.
(to the Couple)
We're gonna get through this excuse
Sam this is their turn now. Not yours.
Theirs. If you leave now you'll never
make it and you have to make it.
Okay okay I know I take the #34 bus and
transfer to the #13...than the Downtown
Express to Wilshire then -
Rita looks at the Couple leaving her office.
INT. RITA'S PORSCHE - DAY
Redefining road rage, Rita's slamming the horn. Sam next to
Go! Go! GO! for chrissakes! Green means
Red means stop yellow in the middle
means no no no...I don't like shrinks.
I've seen too many shrinks.
Yeah. You and me both. Right or left
which will it be you IDIOT!?
Your mother sent you to shrinks, too?
No. Well, sort of. I talk about her
the whole time I'm there.
That's nice. Did you notice that
everyone else is driving slower. I
noticed that did you?
(on the horn)
Go for Chrissakes! How about your
mother? Maybe she can help you -
She's gone. She's at the Park Lane
Mortuary. Two from the left. Under the
Oh. I'm sorry. The light is green!
WOULD YOU MOVE MOVE MOVE!?
She cuts around the car in front of her; flips him off, and
in a split second that her head is turned, almost SMASHES
into the car in front of her! She slams on the brakes.
Too many shrinks...I'm sorry Mrs.
Dawson, if I were you I wouldn't waste
any more time. I'm sorry Mrs. Dawson it
must be a tremendous disappointment.
I'm sorry Mrs. Dawson I think you'd both
be happier if Sam was in a home.
Rita looks over at Sam, forced to stop.
INT. PSYCHOLOGIST OFFICE - DAY
Sam sits across from a shrink, MS. GELLER, nervously
straightening her desk.
Mr. Dawson, you do understand, that
since I am a court appointed
psychologist, the traditional client
therapist confidentiality will be
(Sam looks confused)
Mr. Dawson, do you understand that the
confidentiality will be waived?
Sam nods nervously and waves. With that she begins.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Sam, Ifty, Brad and Robert hover over a used answering
machine. Ifty pours over the instructions.
Before you read your message press the
red button for record, when you finish,
press the yellow button. If you press
the green button, it will play it back
you. Let's start with the "ogm".
Okay, okay. I'm ready. Hello, I am
No, no. I didn't press the red button.
Oh, yes. False start, false start.
It's not working. That's what you get
for buying a used machine. Used means
broken. You're asking for other
people's problems, you have enough of
your own, not that everyone doesn't have
It's not used. It's pre-owned. Guy
bought it for his auto shop and then he
got a secretary.
Testing, one two three.
That's a good code. I'll remember that.
One, two, three.
Quick, you're recording.
I'm hi. I am Sam. I'm not home.
No, you don't want to say that. you
don't want them to know you're not home.
But then I'm lying.
I'm not a liar. It will send a mixed
message to Lucy.
(pressing the button)
You're on the air!
Let me see, let me see, let me see. Hi,
how are you?
BEEP! the tape runs out.
That was pretty good. That was natural.
Did I sound like a good father?
It's the outgoing message. You need to
sound more outgoing. Let's start again.
INT. GROUP HOME - NIGHT
Mrs. Kerry unlocks the phone and dials. She hands the phone
to Lucy who waits eagerly in her pj's. Sam's answering
machine clicks on; as if on slow speed.
Hi, it's Len's Auto Body Shop. We'd
love to show you our body work, but it's
invisible. Leave it at the beep.
Try again. You must have dialed the
INT. RITA'S OFFICE - DAY
Rita and Sam walk through the lobby at Rita's Olympic pace.
She passes the elevator and heads for the stairs.
Look, we've got a lot to go over and
I've got five minutes.
(pointing to elevator)
Rubel Bly Harrison and Williams thirty
second floor, thirty-two floors up.
Rita heads up the stairs. We hear a BEEP. Then another.
Rita checks her heart rate watch. Starts walking up the
One-twenty. Gotta get to one-twenty
five to make it count. Okay okay okay.
I'm gonna need that list of people who
can testify that you're a good father
despite your handicap. I didn't mean
your handicap I meant your disability -
I mean the fact that you're retarded.
That's not the right word. I mean...
What do I call you?
Sam. I am Sam.
Rita looks at Sam as she bounds up the fourth floor.
Yes you are.
(he hands her a list - her CELL
Hello Ted how you doing/ Whattaya mean
what's that supposed to mean?
(her heart beep rate goes up)
Put Danny on... You're supposed to be
taking him to karate. No it is not my
day it's your day. I took your day last
Wednesday - are you eating no I will not
hold. Go pick him up! What? I can't
hear you I'm in the car - they put you
through to me here...I'm losing you --
(clicks off phone)
I get paid for this memory - I know I
took him last.
A look of horror falls across her face. She does a 180 and
starts RUNNING down the stairs reading the list.
We're making progress. Three character
witnesses. That's a good start. What
does Ifty Bhutto do?
He works in a bank.
(tripping down the stairs)
INT. RITA'S OFFICE - THE VERY NEXT DAY
Ifty sits across from Rita who attempts to take notes.
Sam is a very concerned father. He
always saves his money at Bank of
America. Last year there was a lion on
the calendar. This year a gazelle. The
gazelle is national bird of Tunisia. We
have clients, not customers. At Bank of
America. Bank on us.
He looks up at her, lost. So is she.
What was the question again, please?
INT. RITA'S OFFICE - DAY
Who sits across from Rita. She tape records him.
He always made a point of feeding her
breakfast when "Bewitched" was on and
lunch when "Jeopardy" was on so she'd be
smart. Is that Wonderbra you're
wearing? Because you look wonderful.
INT. RITA'S OFFICE - DAY
Robert sits across from Rita, who records him.
How long have you and Sam -
Why are you recording this? Who's
It's often necessary -
Who are you really?
What's that supposed to mean?
I need to talk to my lawyer.
INT. RITA'S OFFICE - LATER
Rita maniacally picks the frosting off a donut.
Patricia, get Mr. Dawson on the line.
Over her INTERCOM, we hear SAM'S ANSWERING MACHINE.
ANSWERING MACHINE (O.S.)
Hi, it's Len's Auto Body Shop -
I need this like a - call him at
Starbucks - no I don't know which
Starbucks. There's forty two between
here and the end of the block.
EXT. STREETS - DAY
Rita stands next to her Porsche. There are Starbucks in
every direction she looks.
INT. STARBUCKS - DAY
Sam is straightening Sweet and Lows. Rita barrels in.
Look I don't think you understand what
you're up against we have to be in court
in three days and we don't have a decent
witness. Now you've gotta know someone
who can testify who's been to college -
or has a degree of some kind - or some
sort of way of expressing themselves
that's gonna make the court believe that
you deserve to get your daughter back I
need a coffee. Big. Tall.
Tall's the smallest.
Of course. Of course, whatever. Okay
okay okay. Damn! I forgot to call back
no I did and once you think of this
person and there has to be one person -
I want you to call me at work - because
I'm going back there now to my seven
other cases --
(her cellphone RINGS)
What? Mrs. Robeck? I'm on my way, the
traffic's horrible on the 405. Dorothy,
we put in five months lets not let a
three car pile up..I know it's been
enormously stressful.. Your Esczema?
Oh, honey, nobody notices..AH! They
opened a lane!
Do you want it here or to go?
Dorothy? Dorothy? No no no I didn't
stare at the eczema for five months for -
She takes out her car beeper, clicks it towards the window
and realizes that they're towing her car!
INT. ANNIE'S APARTMENT - EVENING
Annie is at the piano, lost in a Beethoven concerto.
Annie, it's one day. One hour. Maybe
only 53 minutes. Lucy needs you.
(Annie keeps playing)
You went to college. You can give the
Annie plays even harder. Frustrated, he POUNDS the piano.
We can't lose her.
I can't. I'd make it worse for you. I
can't do it. Don't you think I would if
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
We HEAR A VOICE:
All rise for the Honorable Judge Phillip
Sam stands along with others in the courtroom. The Judge
enters and sits. Everyone else sits now, too. Except Sam.
Who continues to stand until Rita pulls him down. Now we
Ifty, Robert, Brad - and Brad's MOTHER, who sits several
seats behind Brad knitting. Robert holds up a handmade sign
from the back of the courtroom "Free Lucy Dawson".
INT. COURTROOM - ONE HOUR LATER
Turner, the prosecuting attorney, examines his first witness.
He's disheveled, but don't let the rumpled suit fool you.
This man is razor-sharp. The THERAPIST who evaluated Sam is
on the stand. Sam anxiously rearranges all the pens on the
desk he sits at with Rita. Projected on a SCREEN is a SLIDE
of the drawing Lucy made in school.
...there is an unhealthy reversal of
As you can see from her drawings, she
has an exaggerated sense of
responsibility. Lucy feels she has to
take care of her father. Although at
her birthday party her true feelings
about her father were revealed.
Objection. "True feelings revealed"?!
The state is paying Miss Geller for her
Then every child who rages because they
didn't get to stay up for that extra
hour of TV -
Objection your honor -
Sam TUGS at Rita's sleeve. She ignores it.
...in fact any child who said they hated
their parents because they didn't want
to take a bath would be a prime
candidate for Foster Care.
I think they want you to stop.
Really?! Thank you, Sam.
We all appreciate your assistance Mr.
Dawson - continue with your witness, Mr.
Now Ms. Geller, I assume in your therapy
session, Mr. Dawson extolled his
On the contrary, Mr. Dawson admitted he
felt profoundly inadequate - that he was
terrified he'd made and would continue
to make - and I quote: "Huge mistakes,
huge mistakes, mistakes that are huge."
No further questions.
Rita starts to scribble notes furiously. So does Sam.
Turner smugly sits down. Rita confidently strides toward the
You're a mother, aren't you Ms. Geller?
Would it be fair to say that as a
parent, you've felt confused from time
to time, possibly overwhelmed on
occasion, even though you're a wonderful
Objection. It's Mr. Dawson's parenting.
Not Ms. Geller's that's at question
But if Ms. Geller has never had a moment
where she felt confused as a mother it
would bias her opinion. And it is her
expert opinion we're all after, isn't
it, Mr. Turner?
Overruled. I'll allow it.
Thank you, your Honor. Ms. Geller, I
know there have been many moments as a
parent where I've felt I've made huge
mistakes - mistakes that are huge. And
I've had to admit them to myself. My
husband. But most importantly, to my
therapist. Which is the guise Mr.
Dawson thought he was seeing you under,
isn't that right, Ms. Geller?
Get to the point, Ms. Harrison.
The point is you've never had those
moments, have you Ms. Geller? Moments
that every parent I've ever spoken to
has - moments when you've felt the task
is so unbelievably challenging that you
feel retarded, disabled in some way.
Moments when you feel everyone has the
key but you. But you've never had those
moments, have you Ms. Geller?
Yes or no?
Let me rephrase the question. When your
son od'ed -
But if Ms. Geller didn't feel she had
made mistakes - mistakes that were huge
it might bias her opinion toward Mr.
I will -
Thank you. So Ms. Geller - yes or no -
when your son od'ed, did you feel you
might have made mistakes, mistakes that
INT. COURTROOM CAFETERIA - DAY
Sam and Rita go down the cafeteria line.
You made her cry.
You got lucky.
That's not nice. Not very nice.
Only in there.
Your secretary too. Yellow and green in
(Sam stares at a bowl of Lima
beans and corn)
You separate the Lima beans from the
The CAFETERIA WORKER stares at him. Yeah. Sure he will.
Sam, don't be impossible.
(then to Worker)
Can I have the spinach omelet - only egg
whites no fat no oil no butter and extra
Sam is anxiously separating his Lima beans and corn into
separate piles. They arrive at the cashier. Rita pulls out
her billfold. Sam reaches for his wallet.
My treat. My treat.
Don't be ridiculous. I'll get it.
I said it's my treat. That means I'll
Sam, do you really want to get it or are
you just trying to --
Trying to what?
You know, trying to act like a -
Like a what?
A real man?
I didn't say that.
You're my lawyer and you think what they
think. I don't have a chance. No
chance at all. Even with an expert
Rita looks at him. He's right. She chooses her words
I think...you deserve...a fair trial.
Answer the question.
Okay okay okay. What was the question
Do you think what they think? Sam can't
order food. Sam can't pay a check. Sam
can't take care of Lucy?
It doesn't matter what I think - it
matters that we win.
You're my lawyer it matters what you
Hey, it doesn't matter to them what I
Me. It matters to me.
He reaches for the receipt, and faces the CASHIER defiantly.
Fourteen thirty three. That's 5 ones, 2
quarters and 16 cents less than twenty.
He slowly counts his money, takes his tray and walks away.
Rita watches him, with a trace of remorse and a hint of
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
DR. DONOVAN, an attractive soft-spoken woman is on the stand.
Rita is working the room. Sam, having a hard time
concentrating, is following a crack up the wall and onto the
Dr. Donovan, the American Medical
Journal named you one of the country's
leading oncologists. Isn't that
What kept you going the twelve years you
were in medical school?
Caffeine. Sugar. And my mother's
confidence in me.
I wish I had a mother like that. She
must have been smart.
She had great instincts.
Do you have any idea what her IQ was?
In the lower ranges. About eighty.
So your mother, this woman with the IQ
of a nine-year old had the wisdom to
recognize that you would be a great
doctor. I guess her disability didn't
seem to hold you back in life.
No. My mother's condition taught me
what they can't teach you; compassion
Traits most doctors have in spades.
Thank you, no further questions.
Sam runs to hug Dr. Donovan, bumping into Rita who sits him
How'd you get through medical school?
Where'd you live?
We lived with my mother's parents.
Oh, Grandma and Grandpa. Would it be
fair to say your grandparents were of
And didn't these people - your
grandparents - with normal intelligence -
have the real responsibilities?
Objection! I hear Mr. Turner's mother
in-law lives with him! She must help
out. Does that mean he doesn't have the
Motion to strike that from the record.
Irrelevant, immaterial and immature -
Irrelevant?! Any parent has a right to
a support system.
I'm not talking about the rights of the
parent, I'm talking about the rights of
(the gavel bangs)
I'm talking about entrusting an eight
year old's welfare in the hands of
someone whose records show he was
diagnosed with infantile autism, mental
Objection! Motion to strike that from
the record. It's clear that one's
intellectual capacity has no bearing on
their ability to love. You Honor, would
you please instruct council to proceed
with a modicum of sensitivity?
Oh, I'm sensitive. I'm real sensitive
when I see people like you --
(the gavel BANGS!)
come here and try to give meaning to
your life by screwing up somebody
That's enough. Both lawyers approach
And I suppose tearing apart a family is
truly noble work, Mr. Turner.
That's it. I fine you both for
contempt. Two-hundred fifty dollars.
What's that to her? She gets that for
picking up the phone.
Oh, that's what this is about.
I'll tell you what this is about. See
this is an award for you at some
luncheon. But I'm here everyday.
(gavel POUNDS AGAIN)
You win, you're out the door.
But guess who I see come back? The kid.
Most of the time, in less than a year.
Only now it's too late. So you're
right. I'm real sensitive. You can't
even touch that area.
INT. INSTITUTIONAL GRAY SOCIAL WORKERS OFFICE - DAY
Margaret Brown observes Sam and Lucy.
But how did he prove it?
Columbus had to sail around the world to
prove it was round.
You're so smart, Daddy.
Sam shoots a look at Margaret. He hasn't heard anything nice
about himself in so long. Lucy looks into her father's eyes.
Are we winning, Daddy?
Sam shoots ANOTHER look. He doesn't want to lie. Lucy
catches the look between Sam and Margaret.
Excuse me, time's up.
Please. Just a little more.
I have another client at two-thirty.
You need to put your shoes on and get
ready to go.
Oh no! There's a knot. A really big
Sam attempts to undo it. Lucy and he work very slowly,
cherishing each moment together.
I'll help you.
She undoes it quickly. Hands it back.
I need to go to the bathroom.
INT. BATHROOM - MOMENTS LATER
Lucy's feet dangle from under the stall. Margaret's sturdy
shoes from under another. Suddenly, Lucy's head pops out and
now she quietly wriggles out from under the stall, tip toes
across the room and out the door. Locking it with a key.
INT. SOCIAL WORKERS ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Lucy runs up to her father.
Daddy, she said we could go to the park.
What's going on? What made her change
I started crying in the bathroom. She
thought we needed more time.
That was so nice of her. Very nice.
INT. BUS - DAY
Sam and Lucy hold hands and look out the window. Sam sees
Echo Park approaching and gets up. Lucy pulls him back to
the seat. She looks Daddy in the eye and in a furtive
Let's not get off. Let's keep going.
That would be wrong.
Tamara's Mommy lost her case and Tamara
hasn't seen her in six years. She's had
five different mommies and one of them
I won't let that happen.
That's what her real mommy said. And
now they won't even let her talk to her.
Sam reels with confusion. Lucy buries herself in his chest.
Daddy, it's the only way to be together.
We'll start a new life, get new names.
We'll live in a new apartment. They'll
never find us.
The bus has stopped. Passengers for the park have exited.
Sam doesn't move. As the BUSDRIVER closes the door and heads
on, he holds Lucy protectively to his chest.
I love you Lucy. I love you.
My name isn't Lucy anymore, it's
INT. BUS - NIGHT
Lucy sleeps cuddled close to Sam, who is wide awake, as he
gazes out at the passing highway, far from home. We hear the
EXT. PARK - 4 A.M.
Sam, totally disoriented, walks in circles around the plastic
tunnels and jungle gym. A flashlight shines in Sam's face.
Hey, buddy. No loitering. Move it.
Not yet not yet not yet.
You want me to get a black and white
He moves toward Sam. SUDDENLY THE SPRINKLER SYSTEM goes on.
The cop backs off, but Sam doesn't move, standing in the
middle of the park and getting totally wet.
Not yet not yet not yet.
He shines the flashlight in Sam's face and we see INSIDE THE
PLASTIC TUNNEL where LUCY SLEEPS PEACEFULLY on a bed of
coats, holding a discarded stuffed animal.
She hasn't been sleeping well. She
needs a good night's rest. Let her
sleep, let her sleep.
(the cop moves toward Sam)
What are you, crazy?
All the cop sees is a lunatic walking in protective circles
in the downpour of the sprinklers with a kid in a plastic
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. POLICE STATION - DAWN
Police doors swing open as Rita, coat over pj's, a sleepy
DANNY by her side, storm inside. Lucy lies on a bench with
her head in Sam's lap.
What were you thinking what were you
That's ridiculous! Danny stay with me -
(he moves away)
What could you possibly gain by
kidnapping your kid in the middle of a
I don't wanna hear it! Can you possibly
explain this to me?!
But Lucy said -
Who's the parent here? Who's the
goddamned parent here? Danny! Stay in
the hallway -
Danny turns the corner just as Margaret Brown rushes in.
Rita turns to her - her expression changes on a dime.
Miss Brown, I can imagine what you're
But I ask you what parent in their right
mind seeing their child in pain --
I have seen -
Their yearning for contact - wouldn't
take them in an attempt to comfort them?
Where the hell is Danny?
Oh yes there is! And if I were you I'd
look at my conscience you do have one
don't you long and hard before I tried
to use this in court.
Is that a threat?
No. It's a plea. Give'm a break.
Give'm one goddman break.
Margaret's cell phone RINGS.
What?! No, Mrs. Sloan. His temperature
couldn't be 117, no not even 107. Okay,
okay, I'll come...Come on Lucy, I'll
take you back.
C'mon, Danny. We're going home.
The FIRE ALARM GOES OFF and --
Goddamn it, Danny!
Rita avoids Margaret's look. Margaret's cell phone goes off
again. She doesn't answer. Now Rita looks at Margaret, but
this time Margaret avoids looking at her. Lucy runs to Rita
and throws her arms around her waist.
Please don't fire us. It was all my
idea. Please don't. Please. Please.
Rita is disarmed. She's moved and not used to being moved.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
...the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, so help you God?
Lucy's in her best dress, being sworn in. One hand in the
So help me God...
And now CAMERA MOVES AROUND HER AND WE SEE THAT SHE'S HIDING
HER OTHER HAND BEHIND HER BACK - FINGERS CROSSED.
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Lucy is on the stand, Turner is cross-examining her.
I heard you turned seven this year.
That's pretty exciting.
Everybody gets older. It's not that big
What'd you get for your birthday?
I haven't opened my presents yet.
Really? That's odd. Why not?
Lucy looks to her father and Rita.
I opened my presents. I got the HELP
album - limited edition.
ON RITA AND SAM
What is she doing?
Oh, I'm sorry. I was confused. I
thought you didn't open your birthday
presents because you ran away from your
own party when your best friend told
everyone that you were adopted.
I never said that; why would I say that?
Why would your friends say it if you
hadn't said it?
Kids lie all the time.
Next to her skirt, we see her fingers are crossed so hard
they're practically turning purple.
May I remind you Lucy that you're under
And do you know that means if you lie
you could be in serious trouble?
So now that you and I have agreed to
tell the truth, where did you sleep last
Rita glares at Margaret. Thanks a lot.
In my bed at the Foster home.
All right, Lucy. If you're not going to
tell the truth, I am. Your dad
kidnapped you last night and the police
found you sleeping in a seedy park a
hundred miles from here. You're lying
right now because you're afraid. Afraid
that everyone will see how scared and
frustrated you really are. You're
afraid of hurting him, but now we need
to tell the truth. The truth is deep
inside you know you're not getting what
you need from your father. Isn't that
A LONG SILENCE. She stares at Turner defiantly.
"All you need is love."
INT. COURTROOM CORRIDOR - DAY
WE HEAR THAT SONG as Sam and Rita walk out of the courtroom.
Rita is breaking pieces off a candy bar she has stuffed in
her purse. They see Lucy running down the corridor toward
Sam, Margaret Brown behind her.
Daddy! I did great, didn't I?
No, Lucy, you lied.
Shhh! Don't tell anyone.
Rita watches Sam. Moved by his concern as a parent.
Lucy, Mrs. Kerry's here to take you
I thought you'd be proud of me. Jo Jo's
mom told him to lie on the stand and say
he never saw a needle in the house; and
he did, and now they're back together.
Jo Jo isn't us. The truth, the truth,
when the judge hears the truth, he'll
know, he'll know we should be together.
Nobody's interested in the truth, Daddy.
They lead her down the hallway toward Mrs. Kerry - Sam's
voice gets louder and louder - determined to make her hear.
I CARE! DO YOU HEAR ME? THE TRUTH.
THE WHOLE TRUTH! SO HELP ME GOD!!
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The darkness of Sam's apartment. We see him on his knees.
Saying his prayers by his bedside.
Help me, God. Help me, God. Help me,
We see ANNIE'S SILHOUETTE from the window of her apartment as
it moves across the frame.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Turner cross examines George, the manager of Starbucks.
Sam's my most reliable employee. He's
never missed a day of work in eight
years. Always warm, always friendly.
Admirable qualities for a single father.
Mr. Walker, in these eight years, have
Mr. Dawson's responsibilities,
which...let me see...would include
bussing tables, replenishing Sweet 'n
Lows, and sweeping up the place...
No. Not really.
And isn't that because he's mentally
incapable of learning management skills
or working the cash register or even
making a cup of coffee?
Objection. Leading the witness.
You may answer the question.
George searches for a way to tell the truth.
Well as a matter of fact, Sam and I have
been discussing a promotion that I was
planning on putting into effect at the
end of the week.
Sam leaps to his feet.
Oh boy! Thank you, George!
Rita pulls him down. Turner seizes the moment.
Yes. Thank you, George. Now, after
eight years, Sam can finally measure out
a teaspoon of coffee and cup of water.
Now, he must certainly be able to help
Lucy with her geometry.
No further questions.
INT. COURTROOM CORRIDOR - LATER
Rita prepares Ifty.
...and when I ask another question?
I answer in one sentence.
Yes. Short and sweet.
Yes. One sentence. Short and sweet.
My aunt was short and sweet. But her
cooking was too spicy she...
Rita's twitching foot knocks over her purse. Out spill
several Snickers Bars with the chocolate picked off them.
Embarrassed, she kneels to pick them up when she and Sam see
something that stops them both, awestruck. In the corner of
the corridor, huddled on a bench in dark sunglasses, sits
ANNIE IN A PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS SUIT. Sam runs to her.
Annie! I can't believe it!
Tell them to take me quickly.
Give me one minute with the judge.
INT. COURTROOM - FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER
Annie, wearing her dark glasses, is being questioned by Rita.
Besides being Lucy's godmother, aren't
you also Lucy's piano teacher?
Lucy's very lucky. Didn't you graduate
Magna Cum Laud from the Julliard School
Summa Cum Laud.
Excuse me. Now Ms. Cassell, in all the
time you've known them, have you ever
questioned Sam's ability as a father?
Never. Look at Lucy. She's strong,
she's able to display true empathy for
people, all kinds of people. I know you
all think she's as bright as she is
despite him. But it's because of him.
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Turner stands where Rita did.
Can Sam add?
How about multiplication?
So what you're saying is that Sam can
not even multiply two times two?
I don't know about you, Mr. Turner, but
my fondest memories of my parents have
nothing to do with times tables or state
I bet he's knocking on your door all the
time with questions.
Yes. All the time. The last question
was whether to use Biz or Clorox to get
the grass stains out of Lucy's soccer
ON RITA AND SAM
This is too good to be true.
So let's see..he doesn't know math...he
can't even wash her clothes. How about
puberty? I can only imagine how much
insight he'll bring to approaching the
sensitive issues of a young girl's
Mr. Turner, show me a father, any
father, who knows how to do that and
I'll give them the Parent of the Year
And you've had plenty of opportunity to
observe fathers, haven't you?
But the fact that Ms. Cassell hasn't
come out of her room in years might have
some effect on her perception.
I'll allow it.
I had twenty eight years in the world to
observe all kinds of fathers.
What about your father, Ms. Cassell?
Since you appear to be an expert on
A long pause. Sam watches as Annie visibly tightens.
Excuse me, Ms. Cassell, I didn't hear
your response. What about your father?
Annie reaches for her water glass. We see her hand SHAKE.
It knocks over the glass, shattering it on the floor.
Objection! No further questions!
Excuse me, Mr. Dawson?
I said that's enough! I will not allow
it! Overruled! Overruled!!
Rita doesn't stop him. The Judge hesitates, incredulous,
then pounds the gavel as the courtroom erupts.
EXT. SAM'S APARTMENT - DUSK
Rita sits in her Porsche with Annie and Sam. Annie is curled
into a tight ball in the passenger seat. Sam is tucked into
the shelf in the back. His legs kick Rita in the face with
every gear shift.
Thank you again, Annie. You were truly
Extraordinary. Truly extraordinary.
Annie doesn't move.
Okay okay okay okay. Well, Sam has his
big day on the stand tomorrow and we
need to work a little bit so that he's
as effective as you were.
Effective. Very effective.
On a Porsche, the, uh, the door handle
is a little hidden by that thingamajig,
so if you're having a hard time finding
it I'll just --
Rita reaches across to open Annie's door when she SCREAMS!
Annie's not quite ready to go outside
Okay, we'll just take our time.
INT. PORSCHE - TWO HOURS LATER
It's dark now. Annie is still catatonic. Rita's on the car
phone, the kind that voice activates and she's yelling.
Home! Home! HOME GODDAMNIT! Juanita,
help Danny with his English assignment.
Ayude Danny un story...story...STORIO!
(rising from the dead)
I'm ready now.
Good, fine, Sam? Annie's ready.
Sam's fallen asleep.
EXT. RITA'S LAVISH BEL AIR HOME - NIGHT
Rita and Sam enter.
INT. RITA'S BEL AIR HOME - NIGHT
Sam is awestruck at the magnificent home.
Okay okay okay okay. We'll work in the
library. It's down the hall and to the
They pass another room and see Danny zoned out in front of
the wide-screen TV watching MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.
Where's your father?
(staring at TV)
I don't want to guess. Where is he?
(Sam watches Rita)
I told you I don't want to guess.
Well where was he last night?
There you guessed it.
He said he was working late?
That's what he said.
Well who did he say was taking care of
You. But you said you were working
I am working late.
Then go work.
How was your day?
You have to work. Go work.
No. How was your -
Her CELL PHONE goes off. Rita moves into the hallway to
answer her phone. Sam moves into the den, sits on the couch,
the sound of Rita arguing with her husband drifts into the
room. Sam looks sideways at Danny who remains stonefaced.
This is my favorite part. Hey Dommy,
this one looks like he's suffering from
Boy I guess we can shell it out... It
was a shell of a good hit.
Rita stands in the doorway watching Sam have a longer
conversation with her son than she's had in months. She
INT. RITA'S DEN - LATER
Danny and Sam eat popcorn watching the movie.
"Turtles in the half-shell, turtle
power!" Rita! Come this is the best
He heads towards Rita.
INT. PANTRY - CONTINUOUS
In the half-light Sam catches a glimpse of Rita standing in
the pantry unconsciously stuffing marshmallows into her
mouth. Their eyes lock for a moment.
You eat too fast. Come watch the movie.
It's getting late. We have to get to
(handing him a suit)
This is my husband's. He won't notice.
He's got ten more just like it. Try it
INT. RITA'S LIBRARY - MOMENTS LATER
Sam comes out of the bathroom in the new suit. Rita stares
at him astonished. He looks incredibly handsome. Rita,
attempting to stifle her reaction, turns away from Sam.
No. Very, very good. But your tie's
Rita stands behind Sam with her around him showing him how to
do his tie properly. Their images are reflected in the
Cross over once. Loop it around on the
inside of your neck.
(her hand grazes his neck)
Slide the other side through the loop,
Rita comes around to the front and straightens and tightens
the tie. They are both nervous. The room is charged.
Okay okay okay okay. Our strategy is
that we're aggressively pursuing a
support system. I'm going to ask you h
ow are you prepared to help Lucy in
Let me see let me see let me see.
Sam! I told you you have to stop that!
It makes you look stupid! Okay okay
okay. Try again.
You say you will find her a tutor. Then
I say, "How will you pay for it?"
Could you slow down? Why do you eat so
We've gone over this a million times.
You've found a free tutoring service for
her at the YMCA.
But I didn't. You did.
Can't you grasp the concept of
manipulating the truth? Not lying.
Just a little tweak here and there.
No...You're so lucky. You get to play
with Danny all the time.
He doesn't want to play with me.
Yes he does. He does he does. He
thinks you don't want to.
Oh that's ridiculous of course I want
I drove around after work yesterday 'til
9:30 looking for a goddman razor
(in his own world)
Tweak, squeak, peek peek...
Rita shifts uneasily, embarrassed by her overreaction.
INT. RITA'S LIBRARY - LATER
Okay, why did you harass that young boy
at your home?
You know I didn't harass him, Rita. You
know that, you know that!
Sam, I'm pretending to be Mr. Turner,
Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah. I didn't harass
him, Mr. Turner. Mr. Turner -
(Sam can't keep a straight
You don't look like him.
That's a blessing.
You're so much prettier.
Thank you. Now.
What makes you think you can take care
of a woman - I mean a young child - when
you have a hard time taking care of
INT. RITA'S LIBRARY - TWO HOURS LATER
Rita is relentless. Sam is exhausted but determined.
But who are you kidding? Isn't Lucy
already smarter than you?
In some ways. But in other ways, she's
not, I think.
Sam. You've got to be firm on this.
I think in other ways I'm smarter than
her. Smarter than you are, Mr. Turner.
In fact, in some ways I'm smarter than
you, Judge McNeilly.
Whoa! Bring it down.
What parent doesn't want more for their
child? To be more than the sum of the
parts of the whole of them.
Yeah yeah yeah, but it's one thing for a
little girl to love her daddy when she's
a baby, but once she loses respect for
you, what will you do?
I won't let that happen. I won't.
How can you say that?
Respect is not just about how smart
someone is. Smart is not just about how
smart someone is.
But what about Lucy? Aren't you being
selfish? Doesn't she deserve a better
life? Don't you think she's just
pretending she's happy to not hurt your
Sam jumps up from the table, trembling with anger.
Lucy is happy! We have fun! We go to
Denny's, we go to video night. I know
how to love her. I know I'm not going
to able to go to law school and learn
how to be a mean person, but I know how
to love. I know how to be her father,
By this time he is face to face with Rita, breathing hard,
overcome with emotion. Rita is unexpectedly near tears.
Suddenly before she knows it, she is HOLDING SAM. The room
charged. She speaks tenderly, moved by this awkward boy/man.
I know you do, Sam. I know you do.
INT. STARBUCKS - MORNING
Sam rushes into the coffee shop in his new suit.
You look great, Sam. What time do you
have to be in court?
Half day, half day. I take the stand at
George leads him behind the counter. THE STAFF BEAMS.
Euphorically, Sam approaches the huge espresso machines.
Okay, we need two grande cappucinos, non
Sprinkles or Cinnamon?
INT. STARBUCKS - 11:00 A.M.
Sam is doing great. He's humming as he prepares a triple
latte with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker.
INT. STARBUCKS - 12:00 P.M.
The place is packed, including a GROUP OF JAPANESE TOURISTS.
Sam zips around, trying to juggle between the blender, the
espresso machine, steamed milk, icemaker, all the while
glancing up at the clock. Sam hands three cups to customers,
the foam overflowing, coffee spilling out.
A CUSTOMER takes a sip and SPITS IT OUT.
What is this? I ordered an Americano,
not a latte.
Americano, Americano, not a latte.
Working as fast as he can but still NOT FAST ENOUGH, Sam
unconsciously drinks the latte.
INT. STARBUCKS - 12:45 P.M.
Hyped on coffee, Sam is zooming around and he's a mess.
Shirt hangs out, coffee stains on it, his hair wild.
Frazzled, he forgets to put the lid on the blender and turns
it ON. A mint mocha frappuccino SPLATTERS HIM in the face.
At that moment, George comes out of his office.
I'm going to be late! I'm going to be
I'll call a taxi.
No, no, I can't wait. I can't wait.
I've got to go right now.
Sam heads out, the coffee drink still dripping from his face.
EXT. STREET - DAY
Walking a hundred miles an hour, Sam barrels down the street
out of his mind. Cars are jammed up. He walks over them, a
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Everyone is in their places, waiting.
Your Honor, if the defendant doesn't
have enough interest in his daughter to
even show up -
Your Honor, I'm sure he'll be here any
moment. This is an extremely important
day to Mr. Dawson.
At THAT MOMENT, Sam bursts through the doors. Suit stained,
hair sticky with frappuccino. Rita's jaw drops.
Your Honor, may I have a moment with my
Make it brief, Ms. Harrison.
Rita heads towards Sam. Up close, he looks even worse.
What the hell happened?
(sniffing the air)
What is that smell? Mint?
Sam, determined, heads for the stand. Rita grabs Sam's
shoulders and tries to focus him. Looks deep into his eyes.
Sam, look at me. Look at me!
I will guide you like last night.
(Sam hugs her)
Not that part of last night, the other
part. Now you can do it. I know you
can. Lucy needs you.
(a mile a minute)
Lucy needs me.
Yes, slow down because Lucy needs you.
Lucy needs you.
Ms. Harrison. We need you!
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Sam, on the stand, talks a mile a minute from the coffee.
How will you be able to pay for private
There's a free program at the YMCA.
Lucy can go there.
But don't you ever think it would be
better for Lucy if she lived with a
permanent foster family and you could
visit whenever you wanted?
The Fosters don't know her. Why can't
she live with me and they can come visit
if they want to. I'm firm on this. And
I'm getting firmer. Lucy belongs with
Sam puts his finger to his chin and starts his "Let me
see..." Rita gives him a look; he lowers his finger and
starts talking very fast from the coffee. The STENOGRAPHER
desperately tries to keep pace.
Paul wrote the first part of the song
"Michelle". He said to John, "Where do
I go from here?" John had been
listening to Nina Simone. There was a
line in it that went something like, "I
love you, I love you, I love you..."
They put that into the song. It
wouldn't be the same song without that.
It made the song complete. That's why
the whole world cried when they broke up
on April 10, 1970.
Well, he has some kind of point.
MARY, the Stenographer, is still typing.
Did you get that, Mary?
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Turner fires questions at Sam - a mile a minute.
When you were Lucy's age, were you
living at home?
Were you living with your mother and
Well then where were you living?
In an institution.
So your parents put you in an
Only after my mom got sick.
What about your father? Where was he?
Gone with the wind when Sam was born.
So, you weren't raised by your mother?
I saw her I saw her.
Christmas, Easter and my birthday.
Oh, once a year on your birthday. So in
a way, the people at the institution
were your parents. Were they nice to
Some yes. Some on. Some yes.
Did they hit you?
Sometimes. Sometimes they did
Like when you hit Lucy's friend at her
Objection! Nobody hit anybody!
Let me rephrase that, strong-armed. So
what role model do you call upon as a
father when you're parenting Lucy? The
head of the institution? The Principal
No. Not Mr. Whitehead. Not him.
you have the mental capacity of a seven
year old. So you ask yourself, a seven
year old -
I am not a seven-year old.
How to parent a fellow seven-year old?
Yes. No. What was the question?
The question is: what makes you think
you can be a parent? Your background?
Your IQ? Your friends who can't even
testify for you?
My friends -
My friends love Lucy even if Rita
thought they weren't smart enough to
testify. Even if she said you'd wipe
the floor with them.
Trying to telepathically reach Sam.
Excuse me, Mr. Dawson, your lawyer just
objected; that means you didn't have to
answer the question. You can't even
follow the simple rules you've watched
here day after day. You really think
you can raise a seven-year old? A ten
year old? A thirteen-year old?
(in his face)
That means she'll be six years more
advanced than you.
Sweat pours down Sam's coffee stained collar. He searches
for words. Then from the clearest place inside himself:
I've had a lot of time to think about
whatever it is that makes somebody a
good parent. It has to do with
constancy. It has to do with patience.
It has to do with listening. To
pretending to listen when you can't even
The court is riveted by Sam's eloquence. Rita's amazed.
It has to do with love, like she says...
Rita's antenna goes up: who's "she?"
And I don't know where it's written that
a woman has a corner on that market,
that a man has any less of those
emotions than a woman. Billy has a home
with me! It's not perfect! I'm not a
perfect parent! Sometimes I forget he's
just a little kid...
(whispers from the courtroom)
We built a life together and we love
each other and if you destroy that, it
may be irrep, irrep, irrep...
All eyes TURN to the back of the room. Ifty is there trying
with all his might to help his friend.
Joanne, don't do that, please. Don't do
it twice, not to him. Then Meryl Streep
can't even look at Dustin Hoffman after
Right, "Kramer vs. Kramer." Thank you
for the commentary, Mr. Bhutto. It's
hard to find words isn't it, Mr. Dawson.
It's confusing. It's confusing to know
what to say to Lucy half the time, isn't
Mortified, so uncomfortable in this strange world, so at a
loss how to swim through it, beginning to believe everything
Turner's saying, Sam looks out at the faces in the courtroom.
Rita, stunned and incredulous; Turner and his associate
smirking at him; Ifty, shaking his head; Robert, his face in
his hands; Miss Wright, Margaret Brown, the State's Expert,
almost willing him to fail. Are they right? Are they?
No, yes, no.
Let me see let me see let me see.
You don't know what?
Yes. You're right, you don't know. You
don't know enough to really raise your
Objection. These aren't questions,
these are attacks.
I am Lucy's father.
Are you? Are you really? I'm not
talking about the fact that you got some
homeless woman pregnant.
Objection your Honor. I motion a
Denied. Get to the question, Mr.
The question is if you love your
daughter as much as they say you do
don't you think she deserves more?!
Don't you? In your heart of hearts,
secretly question yourself every day?
Was that a "yes?"
Yes. She does. She deserves
everything. In my heart of hearts.
Yes she does. And you agree with
everyone, you can't give her that?
(in unbearable pain)
Maybe. Maybe everybody's right.
There. He got it.
Anguished. Watching Sam unravel as he stands up and starts
walking around in a circle in the witness box.
No more no more! Let it stop! No more!
No more! No more!
The Judge watches Sam, sad and stunned. The verdict is
obvious. Sam has passed judgement on himself.
EXT. CHILD AND FAMILY PROTECTIVE SERVICES - HALLWAY
Sam, broken, walks down the long hallway with Rita toward
Margaret Brown's office. Suddenly, Rita stops as she and Sam
both see -
Sitting, hopeful on the bench. She searches Sam's face for
the verdict. The minute she sees sorrow in his eyes, she
knows. She runs to him, gluing herself to his chest.
No Daddy! No Daddy! No Daddy!
In a SERIES OF WORDLESS DISSOLVES, they hold each other in
the hallway through the entire forty five minute visit. The
only thing moving is the hands of a large wall clock in the
background. Pained, Margaret reaches for Lucy.
C'mon, Lucy. It's time to say goodbye.
NOOOO! Don't let go don't let go don't
let go -
Sam's tears mix with Lucy's as they sob, clinging to each
other. With such fierce love; a parent and a child.
Don't let them Daddy don't let them!
Don't ever let me go!
He can't let her go. That he can't do. Margaret, steel
herself, turns to Rita, no matter how many times she's done
Please help me.
Rita, aching from a place she thought she buried long ago,
shakes her head, NO. Now, Margaret literally has to wrench
Lucy away from her father's arms. Lucy bellowing as she
pulls her down the hallway. Sam is frozen in incalculable
EXT. SAM'S APARTMENT HALLWAY - NIGHT
We hear "Fool on the Hill". We follow a trail of PINK LIQUID
melting down the hall and come to Annie's door where a pile
of grocery bags and newspapers sit in a PUDDLE OF STRAWBERRY
ICE CREAM. Suddenly, the needle SCRAPES LOUDLY across the
record, followed by a mysterious POUNDING against the wall.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The CAMERA MOVES to the WINDOW. Inside, the lights are dim.
Lucy's HAMMOCK SWINGS EMPTY, ghostlike. Sam, curled into a
ball in Lucy's bare corner, bangs his head over and over
again against the wall, overcome with grief.
INT. DANNY'S ROOM - RITA'S HOUSE - NIGHT
The POUNDING CONTINUES as we see Rita standing in the
doorway, watching her sleeping child. This stranger that
she's raised. She moves to cover him, this tough little boy,
when she sees POOH BEAR tucked under his arm. She tucks them
both in, tenderly.
EXT. CARPENTER HOUSE - DAY
Saturday in idyllic suburbia. Sam, directions and a map in
his hands, tentatively rounds the corner. A small bouquet of
flowers in his hands when he stops - STARING AHEAD AT --
Lucy looking absolutely radiant in a new spring dress. She
stands on the front porch with RANDY, who wears a red smock
and is setting up TWO EASELS AND PAINTS. There's a tiny
chair for Lucy and a tiny chair for her.
CLOSE ON LUCY AND RANDY
The tension in Lucy's face, Randy straining to connect with
Your teacher told me you were an artist.
You wear too much perfume. You're
trying too hard.
I am, aren't I. Maybe you could teach
me how to paint.
My daddy's coming today. We're going to
open my birthday presents. Why don't
you just go do something.
BACK TO SAM
From where he stands, all he sees is Lucy getting everything
she deserves. He looks down at the tiny bouquet in his hand -
feeling profoundly inadequate, he reaches for some flowers
from a garden he's passing. Puts them in his bouquet. Then
stops. Feels guilty. Tries to put the flowers BACK. He
stares up at Lucy on the porch a few houses away.
Lucy sits on the steps. Randy sits right next to her.
BACK ON SAM
Where he WAS standing, but is now GONE. The flowers lay in
the dirt. From the porch, Lucy looks out and waits. And
waits. And waits.
INT. STARBUCKS - DAY
It's Saturday. The place is buzzing. Sam listlessly cleans
the tables, without the usual energy and verve. A TODDLER
marches around a table, playing under the adoring gaze of his
Excuse me, my kid knocked over a coffee,
could you clean this up?
Sam sees a FAMILY at a table covered with spilled coffee.
I said I need a refill and a towel over
You need a towel? A refill? A glass of
water? You need more than you already
have? You have everything -
(all his fury and frustration)
Everything. But it's not enough. Take
my daughter, too!
Sam's out of control, the whole shop stares at him as he
backs into a shelf of MUGS he so carefully arranged. They
CRASH onto the floor.
SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. CARPENTER PORCH - DAY
Paints and brushes go FLYING across the porch as Lucy KNOCKS
THEM OVER. Totally out of control.
You gave him the wrong address! You're
hiding me from him!
As Randy reaches for her, Lucy pours black paint on her.
EXT. CARPENTER HOUSE - DUSK
Lucy sits in a ball on the corner of the porch. Her eyes
swollen from crying. Finally, she gets up and moves to the
tiny chair that Randy put out for her. Straightens the easel
and begins to paint.
The front door opens and Randy comes out having washed her
face and hair. Without speaking, Randy straightens her easel
and sits down next to Lucy and begins to paint. Randy and
Lucy paint in silence for a long time. Then -
You're going to send me away now, aren't
We hear what sounds like a child's hand playing the song
"Here, There and Everywhere..."
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - EVENING
We see SAM sitting at Lucy's miniature toy piano as he plays
with one finger. IN A SERIES OF DISSOLVES, as DAYS and WEEKS
PASS, we see SAM'S HANDS at the PIANO -
EXT. CARPENTER HOUSE - DAY
With Lucy and Randy's hands as they PAINT side by side to
Sam's sad melody. Lucy's pictures start ANGRY, angular with
blacks and blues, then GRADUALLY soften and the dark figures
recede. By the END, there is a BRUSHSTROKE of the red of
Randy's smock peeking into the corner of Lucy's picture.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - DAY
We come back to Sam, having withdrawn completely into himself
serenading no one.
INT. LUCY'S BEDROOM - DAY
We see Lucy and Randy sitting on her bed unwrapping the
birthday presents. TIME HAS PASSED. They look close, almost
like a mother and daughter. Lucy finishes unwrapping Sam's
present and we see a stack of ONE HUNDRED DENNY'S NAPKINS.
Oh, he must've forgotten to put the gift
Randy picks up one of Lucy's pictures and moves to the wall.
You know, this wall really needs
something special on it.
Lucy half-smiles and unconsciously begins to fold one of the
Denny's napkins into an origami bird. Then crushes it. Then
What's the longest any one of those kids
stayed with you?
Megan stayed a little over a year.
(averting her eyes)
Did you ever want any of them to stay
Moved herself. Understanding how huge a question this is
coming from this bruised little heart.
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - WEEKS LATER - DAY
Sam sits in a dark corner; maniacally folding newspaper into
an odd origami pattern. There's a knock at the door - Sam
doesn't move, he just continues folding his paper.
Sam it's me! Open up!
He doesn't answer it, just methodically folds.
EXT. SAM'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS
Rita stands there impatiently.
I don't have time for this! You were
supposed to show up for your first
evaluation. And I leave work early to
get there and where the hell are you?!
Open the door! Sam! Open the goddamn
Alright. If you don't care enough to
open the goddamn door I'm outta here!
I've ruined my practice, I've alienated
my colleagues - I sent my kid off on a
fishing trip with his father so I could
work with you and you won't open your
goddman door for me?! Fine! THAT'S IT!
I've had enough!
She starts down the hall when suddenly she turns and - with
the mastery of a karate black belt - RUNS AND KICKS the door
INT. SAM'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS
Rita bursts through the door and then stops. Sam has created
an origami wall of newspapers, intricately woven together.
A fortress against the world. He keeps folding - doesn't
even look at Rita. He's more far gone than she could
imagine, she walks gingerly to the wall and knocks gently on
Sam, it's Rita. Can I come in?
No room. No room.
Hey. I lived in the East Village. I
don't need a lot of room.
Sam makes life too hard. Sam makes life
too hard on everyone.
Sam, I can go at least nine more rounds.
But you gotta let me in. Please Sam.
He pulls out one small brick of origami, opening a window.
Thank you. Now I can see your kind
eyes...George told me you needed a break
I don't want to work there anymore. Too
Maybe we could find you a quieter job.
Because remember one of the judges
conditions is you have to earn more
money; you've got to keep earning more
money for when we get you Lucy back.
Lucy doesn't need me anymore. She has a
new family. She doesn't need me
Is that what she said?
She didn't have to say it. I may be
stupid, but I know. I know.
Well that's the first stupid thing I've
ever heard you say.
Sam looks at her through the window. A CHINK in the wall.
Sam, Sam you can get her back. The
court favors reunification. The only
thing that can block you is if the
foster family petitions to adopt. And
from what I've heard, Lucy's making
their life miserable - that's our girl.
Sam, fight for her.
I tried. I tried.
You don't know. You don't know.
I don't know?
You don't know what it is to try and try
and never get there. You were born
Is that right? Everyone else is perfect
but only Sam feels loss and pain?
That's right. People like you don't
People like me?
People like you don't know, don't know
what hurt feels like, people like you
don't feel, don't feel anything.
She slaps him. STUNNED, he slaps her back. STUNNED, she
slaps him again. HE SLAPS HER. She rips the newspaper wall
You think you got the market cornered on
human suffering? Well let me tell you
something about "People like me."
People like me feel little and lost and
ugly and dispensable. People like me
have perfect husbands screwing someone
far more perfect than me and my son, my
son hates me, I try too hard and I push
and he knows it and I talk in that
voice, that voice I promised I'd never
use, and I've screamed, I've screamed
horrible things to him, a five year-old
because he doesn't want to get in the
car at the end of a day and he stares at
me with such anger and I hate him then.
I know I'm failing you, I know I'm
disappointing you, I know you deserve
better but get in the fucking car! It's
like every morning I wake up and fail,
and I look around and anybody, anybody
can pull it off, but somehow I can't.
And I know, I know I have everything,
and I'm still miserable and it's
pathetic. I know it's pathetic. No
matter how hard I try, something about
me will never be enough.
She's crying too hard to continue. He pulls her to him.
Before she realizes what's happening, she's holding him
tightly. He whispers in her ear.
You're enough. You're so much more than
He looks her straight in the eye - she's undone by the
intimacy of the moment, by the strength of his purity. And
staring into his eyes, she begins to sob, walls crumbling.
He kisses her elbow, her shoulder, her forehead, her eyes,
her tears. And something ignites between them - something
confused and scary and deep and filled with a passionate
On a bed of newspaper that was once a wall they come
together, whole again.
EXT. RANDY'S NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY
Sam rounds the corner walking - or rather being walked by SIX
DOGS, all shapes, all sizes. He heads up the walkway to
Randy's house. She comes out of the house and shuts the door
behind her, stopping him.
All the lights were green.
There's a reason for the court schedule.
You stopped showing up. Lucy has had to
rebuild her life.
I want her back. I can do it. I know I
That's not up to me, but I'm telling
you, I will do everything in my power to
prevent Lucy from getting hurt again.
Sam hangs his head. A dog barks at Randy.
Whose dogs are these?
Supplemental income supplemental income -
bathe, walk and feed. Sam Dawson meets
your canine needs.
Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!
All the dogs sit but a BIG BLACK LAB. Randy heads into the
house. The front door opens and Lucy comes out. She runs
down the stares to Sam. Thrilled, Sam opens his arms to her.
She leaps into them and begins slugging his chest with pent
You never came! You never even called!
You forgot about me! How could you
I never forgot you. I forgot me.
I hate you I hate you I hate you!
Lucy pulls away. A long charged silence. Lucy refusing to
even look at her father.
Lucy, I tried to write you a letter last
A BASSET HOUND SNEEZES.
Gesundheit, Buster. Buster has a cold.
But the letter had too many big words.
The black lab has begun eating Randy's flowers. Lucy stares
forward. Sam speaks tentatively, carefully:
Dear Lucy. Pokey sit. Dear Lucy, I'm
sorry that I hurt you. Every moment of
the day I thought about you. Lucy in
the hammock, Lucy at school. Lucy in
the sky...XXOO. Daddy. P.S. I love
you, recorded September 11th, the day
you took your first step.
Lucy raises her head and looks at Sam for the first time.
INT. DENNY'S - DAY
ON SALAD BAR
Rows of carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and - uh-oh, a tomato's
in the peas. A hand comes into frame and carefully places
the tomato just so, in the tomato bin. Now it moves to the
olives. Shouldn't all the pimentos be facing up?
To reveal Sam, in white apron and hat, deftly filling the
containers of the elaborate salad bar as people fill their
Napa cabbage, excellent choice. Purple
and green, purple and green. Very rich
in Vitamin C. Good choice. Very good
INT. COURTHOUSE - HALLWAY - DAY
Sam walks toward the courtroom when we see Rita approaching
from the other end of the hall. They both slow down when
they see each other. Rita unconsciously fixes her hair. Sam
adjusts his tie.
Hello, Sam. Mr. Dawson. Sam. Dawson.
They almost shake hands - realize that means touching each
other and don't. Rita motions toward the door.
No. We already did. Don't tell
They nervously walk through the door, bumping into each
INT. SMALL COURT ROOM - LATER
She's very aware of Sam. He looks away, over compensating
obviously. Throughout the scene, Rita's hair falls in her
eyes. She attempts to put it in place.
Furthermore, my client has found a new
job, and is making every effort to find
a bigger apartment so that -
Rita's hair falls in her eyes again. Sam stands up, pulls
HER BARRETTE from his pocket, the one she left at his house.
Rita stares at the barrette as if it were the murder weapon.
Oh, thank you. What a...a lovely
barrette, Mr. Dawson. It will look
great on Lucy. Who I'm sure you bought
it for. Furthermore, so that...there
will be more room for Lucy as she grows
All of that is well and good but the
fact that Mr. Dawson quite his job,
missed his hearing, and did not even
show up for his visits with his
The fact that my client went through
profound depression is the most natural
reaction any parent could have.
But once again he had no idea how his
behavior during that depression impacted
on his daughter.
In these next months, Mr. Dawson will be
expanding his support system to include
Social Service programs, tutors --
It's too late! The foster family is
petitioning the court for sole custody
of Lucy and I fully support their
Sam turns to Rita. This can't be happening.
INT. DENNY'S - NIGHT
Sam, Rita, Ifty, Robert and Brad sit in a booth. With one
extra person, it's a little tight. Rita picks at her
Salisbury Steak special, trying to deal with the business at
Isn't it illegal? It's illegal to go
through stop signs. It's illegal to
cross on the red.
It's not illegal. It's very
complicated. When a strong foster
parent lobbies for a child it changes
They're reaching right through Sam as if
he doesn't exist. As if he's a ghost.
There's one option we've never talked
I know what you went through the last
time you took the stand. We could
settle out of court, ask for the most
incredible visitation rights - it would
almost seem like joint custody.
You're saying I don't have a chance.
That's what you're saying.
I'm not saying you don't have a chance.
That's what you said last time and look
where he is now.
Stop. Rita's not saying I don't have a
chance. Are you? Tell me I have a
Too long a pause. Ifty looks at the clock.
Oh my God! 6:35 is Video Night at my
house and I'm not even there!
If we get there before you do we'll wait
for you - check!
Sam get your dessert to go.
This is very hard to say. I'm having my
dessert here. With Rita. I'm not
coming to video night.
Devastated, Ifty, Robert and Brad solemnly gather their
Sam - if you want to go...
I said no, Rita.
I know, but if you -
What? Do you want me to go?
I didn't say that. But do you want to
IFTY, ROBERT & BRAD
They leave in a huff. The WAITRESS delivers the check with
dessert and coffee.
I've got it.
I've got it.
Long pause. Rita slowly eats her pie.
It's good to chew. You're eating more
Rita laughs and nods.
Coconut Rhubarb. Sidebar, we need to
Yes we do.
I need to get Lucy back. We need, we
need - to be professional.
Do you know what that means?
When dealing with Starbucks' customers,
be friendly but not familiar. I can be
Thank you, Sam.
You need to leave your husband.
(her armor up again)
Oh, my marriage isn't so bad.
'Life is very short and there's no time
for fussing and fighting, my friend.'
It's just...it's just that...I've never
EXT. SCHOOL - DAY
Randy kisses Lucy goodbye as she heads toward school. We
follow Lucy - suddenly a BIRD SAILS THROUGH THE SKY and LANDS
IN FRONT OF LUCY. It's an ORIGAMI BIRD. She looks around -
but doesn't see Sam anywhere. But she feels him. She walks
toward school, clutching the bird, past a tree and we move up
that tree and see Sam nestled in the branches. There. They
EXT. RANDY'S NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY
It's later that week. Lucy walks proudly down the street in
a GIRL SCOUT UNIFORM, selling cookies. Randy is by her side,
We've made $22.36. That's seven
dollars, 64 cents less than thirty.
Well that's one way of looking at it.
EXT. RANDY'S NEIGHBORHOOD - LATER
DISSOLVE as they move through the neighborhood. Finally we
see her bound up the steps to an apartment building. She
knocks on the door. It opens - and Lucy and Randy's JAW
Sam stands there. Holding three kittens. WE see various
dogs in arm chairs, the couch...
What are you doing here?
I live here. This is where I live.
This is where you live? So close to me?
I wanted to be close to you. I wanted
to be closer. Look at my apartment
(it's number 9)
John was born on October 9th. His son
was born on October 9th.
John met Yoko on November 9th.
His mother lived at 9 Newcastle,
Newcastle. 9 letters. Liverpool - 9
Lucy, give me one minute with your
father. Sam, I consider myself an
understanding person but I don't
understand this. You can't close the
distance between you and Lucy with a new
address. We go to court in a week -
I don't want to spend half my visit with
Lucy on the bus getting to Lucy. I
don't want to waste one more minute.
(from the doorway)
Does Buster still have his cold?
He's better, much better. Now I'll have
one box of mint chocolate cookies.
That'll be three-eighty six.
LUCY & SAM
Let me see let me see let me see...
That's one dollar and 14 cents less than
Randy watches with a mixture of jealousy and fear as Lucy
effortlessly enters her and Sam's universe.
EXT. CARPENTER HOUSE - DAY
From the window, Randy watches as Sam hands Lucy four leashes
and the two of them get pulled down the street by the dogs.
INT. LUCY'S BEDROOM - 2 A.M.
Lucy lies in her hammock, unable to sleep. Staring at the
little origami bird on her window sill. She moves it, opens
the window wide, quickly takes Mr. Jeeters - and within a
moment she's out the window and onto the limb of the tree.
EXT. MAIN THOROUGHFARE - NIGHT
"The night grows teeth..." stray dogs fight over garbage - a
wino talks to himself and in the midst of it all walks Lucy
in her pj's. Mr. Jeeters tucked under her arm. Lucy crosses
the street. HONK! the screeching of tires...
EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING - MOMENTS LATER
We're looking at an old fashioned fire escape when suddenly
we make out a figure climbing higher and higher. It's Lucy.
We catch glimpses of her and then lose her as the neon sign
across the street blinks on and off.
INT. SAM'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
Sam's asleep. Suddenly his eyes open wide. And like an
animal sensing danger, he gets up. We HEAR THE SOUND of
something THUMPING AGAINST RUNG AFTER RUNG OF THE FIRE
ESCAPE. He rushes to his window and looks to see --
EXT. SAM'S APARTMENT
Lucy climbing the fire escape! Sam opens the window and
reaches for her.
Lucy Lucy. What are you doing?! You
could have really hurt yourself. What
are you doing?
I couldn't sleep. Daddy, did you know
that Warren G. Harding was the twenty
ninth President of the United States?
Remember - the twenty-ninth President.
In case the Judge asks.
EXT. RANDY'S STREET - NIGHT
Sam, in his pajamas, holds a sleeping Lucy in his arms. He
turns a corner and heads up the walkway to Randy's house. He
knocks on the door. Finally the door opens and we see Randy
and Bill in their pajamas SHOCKED at seeing Sam and Lucy.
She couldn't sleep.
Give me my daugh -
(she stops herself)
Give me - I'll take Lucy.
Maybe if you rub her tummy twenty-three
times, tell her two stories and give her
half a Denny's blueberry muffin and a
third of a glass of milk she'll sleep.
Randy and BILL, her husband, watch as Sam turns and walks
purposely down the walkway - his houseslippers scuffling on
the quiet street.
SERIES OF SHOTS AT 3:00 A.M. --
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
Lucy in her pj's walks down the middle of the street.
EXT. SAM'S WINDOW - NIGHT
Lucy knocks on Sam's window.
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
Lucy and Sam walk back down the street to Randy's house.
EXT. SAM'S WINDOW - NIGHT
Lucy lugs encyclopedias to Sam's windowsill.
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
Lucy in a blanket being carried by Sam toward Randy's house.
INT. LUCY'S ROOM - NIGHT
Until FINALLY, we see Lucy in her hammock at Randy's house
looking out the windows, which have now been completely
covered with BARS. Her room is filled with origami birds
from the 100 Denny's napkins, her birthday gift. Lucy gets
out of her hammock and tiptoes across her room - quietly
opening the door.
INT. CARPENTER HOUSE - STAIRS TO LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
We follow her through the dark house as she creeps down the
stairs. She gets to the front door. It's been DEAD BOLTED
where she cannot reach it. From the darkness we hear --
Lucy. Come here.
Randy sits in the darkness, next to a THIRD OF A GLASS OF
MILK and a HALF A DENNY'S BLUEBERRY MUFFIN.
I made us a midnight snack.
Lucy stares at the muffin and milk. Torn.
I understand that you want to see your
daddy. And I don't want to keep you
from him. I honestly don't. So you
tell me when you want to see him. You
can see him anytime you want. But we
have to arrange it first. Do you
Now would you like a snack?
Lucy nods. Elated, Randy makes room for her on the couch.
But Lucy just reaches for the milk and muffin and heads up
the stairs then turns back and speaks gently to Randy.
Thank you. Goodnight.
(words caught in her throat)
INT. SAM'S BEDROOM - DAY
We PAN ACROSS THE ROOM and see Sam's shoes, his tie, and a
YELLOW PAD WITH ALL THE PRESIDENTS LISTED IN ORDER. A KNOCK
at the door - Sam opens it to see Rita standing there,
looking intensely vulnerable, holding her husband's suit.
My husband left this when he moved out.
Oh, lovely Rita, meter maid.
Nice place. I worry. I worry
You worry you did the wrong thing?
I worry that I've gotten more out of
this relationship than you.
No no no. I'm the lucky one. I have
the lawyer that never loses.
That's me...okay, let me see, let me
see, let me see.
(pulls out notes)
They're going to put Bill and Randy on
the stand first and then you.
Them first, then me. They're a nice
couple. They have a nice house. She's
pretty. She's smart, too. I can tell.
The manager of the salad bar is gonna
testify, isn't he? That will help us.
For a moment, Rita's mask drops and her fear for Sam
Nobody believed that George Harrison
could really be a song writer. But he
wrote "Here Comes the Sun". John and
Paul said it was one of the best songs
on ABBEY ROAD.
George was always my favorite Beatle.
Lucy's was Paul.
INT. RANDY AND BILL'S BEDROOM - 2 A.M.
Randy and Bill are asleep when Randy senses something. She
opens her eyes and sees Lucy staring at her.
Now. I want to see him now.
INT. SAM'S BEDROOM - 3:30 A.M.
We see Sam sleeping in bed. There's a KNOCK at the door.
Sam wakes with a start, throws down the covers.
We see that he's wearing the Armani suit. Sam opens the door
to see Randy standing there, holding a sleeping Lucy in her
She fell asleep on the car ride over. I
was gonna turn back and tuck her in to
her bed...with the pink canopy...and the
quilt I made...But I was afraid she'd
wake up at our house...
(fighting the ache in her soul)
...and want to come home.
Sam looks at Randy with profound compassion.
I was gonna tell the judge that I could
give Lucy the kind of love she never
had. But I would be lying.
I hope I hope I hope that you're saying
what I think you're saying even though
you're not saying it.
Randy nods and hands the sleeping Lucy into Sam's strong
arms. For a moment they BOTH HOLD LUCY between them in the
most unique embrace. Randy finally lets go and struggles to
Goodnight. I'll see you in court. Save
me a seat...on your side.
Randy walks away. Stunned, Sam watches her, holding Lucy in
his arms. Then, from a very brave place:
Randy! If I tell you I can't do it
alone, will you tell the judge?
I've looked and looked for a mother for
Help, I need someone, help, not just
anyone. You're the red in Lucy's
So unexpectedly bonded to them both.
EXT. SOCCER FIELD - DAY
A glorious sunny day. Lucy and her team are in the middle of
a fierce game. A foul is called when we hear -
Penalty! Rules broken. Penalty,
Sam, wearing a UNIFORM and whistle around his neck, walking
his inimitable walk, races up the field, COACHING THE TEAM.
Ifty, Robert and Brad sit in the bleachers. Robert, in
sunglasses, paranoid, looking behind him. Brad follows
around an attractive YOUNG WOMAN as close as he can get to
her. Sam runs by the water stand, manned by Randy and Bill.
They share a look - a moment of intense parental pride. Lucy
and a kid named PHILLIP go after the ball.
Get her! Phillip, you get her!
I saw that! You gave him a secret
signal! Didn't you?
Keep both eyes on the ball, Lucy - balls
are round - on sale at Kmart. The earth
is a ball, too...
Phillip steps in front of Lucy and shoves her as hard as he
can. Sam blows his whistle repeatedly and races over.
Penalty! Repeat! Rules broken!
Penalty?! Sue him! Kick his ass outta
It's RITA! With Danny - hollering from the stands.
Looks over at her father. Sam does every coaching gesture,
and referee hand signal from every sport known to man. It
looks like a bizarre TWYLA THARP DANCE.
She does it right back at him. Their secret code. The code
that will bind them for the rest of their lives.
ON THE CROWD AND PLAYERS
All watching. What the hell was that? Sam blows his
Play ball! Play ball!
The game heats up. Lucy's team gets the ball and is headed
toward the goal. Sam is running right alongside them, so
excited, until he can't hold himself back anymore and
intercepts the ball! Sam runs valiantly down the field with
it! We hear "Here Comes the Sun"...
Little darlin', it's been a long, cold lonely winter. Little
darlin', it feels like years since you've been here. Here
comes the Sun...Here comes the sun...And I say, "It's
And the CREDITS ROLL.
FADE TO BLACK.