September 16, 2011
1 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - PREDAWN 1
ELLIS(14) sits fully-clothed on top of his made bed. He is a
wiry young man with a few blonde hairs on his upper lip
struggling desperately to be a mustache.
His room, cluttered with junk, is dark, quiet and tiny. A
backpack and an oversized Walkie-Talkie sit next to him.
The silence is cut by a SQUAWK from the Walkie. Ellis
quickly grabs it.
I'm comin' out now.
He crams the Walkie into his backpack and slings it over his
shoulder. On his feet, he slides open a window at the foot
of his bed. He's out in one motion.
2 EXT. HOUSEBOAT - PREDAWN 2
Ellis skirts alongside the exterior wall of his room on a two-
foot-wide section of decking.
He lives on a HOUSEBOAT anchored just off the bank of the
Arkansas River. The "boat" is really the combination of a
double wide trailer and a vinyl-sided shack fused together
atop large flotilla.
Ellis scurries to the mobile home section of the boat. He
slips past a barbecue grill and settles underneath a lighted
window. VOICES come from inside.
Slowly, Ellis gets on his toes to peer through the window.
3 INT. ELLIS' KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS 3
MARY LEE(41) takes a jug of milk out of the refrigerator.
SENIOR(52) sits at a small table reading a newspaper. The
mobile home kitchenette is no larger than Ellis' room.
I just want to have a conversation.
I just want to talk about it.
Mary Lee sits down across from Senior, who doesn't look up
from his paper. Her eyes narrow and she extends a finger
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
If you don't look up from that
She stops before completing the thought.
After a moment, Senior lowers his paper. He stares across
the table at his wife. He looks at her with true disdain.
His eyes trace down her face and robe before finally settling
on his cup of coffee. He picks up the cup, takes a sip, and
sets it back on the table. He raises the paper up.
Mary Lee's eyes soften. She bites the inside of her cheek to
keep from crying. Her eyes move to the kitchen window.
4 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 4
Ellis quickly ducks and mouths the word "shit."
He slips under the window toward a metal carport that covers
a boat, fish cleaning station, and industrial ice machine.
The entire houseboat is anchored to the shore by two thick
ropes tied to opposite ends of the flotilla. The ropes
extend upward into the tops of enormous pine trees.
Ellis sprints across a simple, wood-planked bridge to shore.
His houseboat is one of several in a row along the riverbank.
5 EXT. ELLIS' RIVERBANK - CONTINUOUS 5
Ellis scurries into the treeline and arrives at a dirt path.
Waiting for him there is NECKBONE(14), a scrawny kid with
slicked back blonde hair wearing a FUGAZI T-shirt. He sits
atop a smallish dirt bike. Ellis hops on the back.
What the shit man?
Suck it. Drive.
The bike spits up mud as they peel out down the trail.
6 EXT. RIVERBANK - PREDAWN 6
From a distance, the single headlight of the dirt bike snakes
up and down, in and out of trees along the riverbank.
ON THE BIKE,
The sound of the engine rips through fog and trees
illuminated by the straining headlight.
7 EXT. RIVERBANK - DAWN 7
The boys emerge from behind a sand covered hill. Now on
foot, they are silhouetted against a light blue, morning sky.
How old is she?
At a collection of trees growing out of the water, the boys
move branches away from a tarp covered boat.
She's got nice titties. You talk
You're gonna have to talk to her.
Remind me when we get back to my
house, Galen's got a book on that.
Neckbone takes a spot up front in the small, flat-bottom
boat. Ellis, a foot on the bank and one in the boat,
launches them out into the water.
8 EXT. RIVER - MORNING 8
A chunk of Neckbone's greased back hair bobs in the wind as
they cruise down river. Ellis steers a small 15 horsepower
motor. An orange sun is coming up now.
Neckbone's eyes lock on what's in front of them. Ellis kills
the motor. Neckbone stands up, a serious look on his face.
Ellis raises up behind him. He takes a deep breath, nods.
Your dad'd kill us he knew we went
I'm not worried about my dad
THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER sprawls out in front of them. It's
Their boat drifts at the mouth of the Arkansas, a small river
by comparison. The Mississippi is a swirling mess of brown
water and yellow foam six football fields wide.
What if it sinks?
It ain't gonna sink. We gotta move
if we're gonna make it back. Set
your watch. We'll need a good
Neckbone sets an alarm on his fat plastic wristwatch. They
take their seats. Ellis cranks the motor.
The small boat slowly chugs out onto the massive river.
9 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - MORNING 9
The boat lurches through the murky, rushing water.
Neckbone has both hands firmly planted on the boat's edges.
Ellis tries to handle the motor which has little impact
against this current.
The tail end of the boat swings to the right. Ellis flinches
and grabs an edge to steady himself. The front of the boat
bobs toward an ISLAND in the middle of the river.
Neck turns to Ellis and points.
THERE IT IS!
10 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 10
The boys splash down in ankle deep water. They take hold of
the front of the boat and drag it onto the muddy shore.
Neckbone jogs to a tree line in the center of the island.
Ellis snatches up his backpack and follows.
11 EXT. ISLAND WOODS - CONTINUOUS 11
The island, only 60 some yards in diameter, is separated by a
clump of tall trees that form a wooded area in its center.
The trees make it so you can't see from one side of the
island to the other.
Galen thinks it's been here awhile.
Thinks the last flood did it.
Ellis follows as Neckbone winds through the trees. They stop
at a deep creek that cuts across the island. Neckbone looks
to his right, then his left. Sees what he's looking for.
It's down there.
A fallen tree trunk that straddles the creek. Ellis starts
Neckbone picks a large stone up off the ground.
Eight feet below the tree trunk, a nest of water moccasins
curl around in the creek. Neckbone drops the stone on top of
them. The snakes fan out.
Their mud-caked high-tops stomp across the trunk.
12 EXT. ISLAND WOODS - DAY 12
The boys stop near the base of a large tree and stare up.
Ellis cranes his neck back. Awestruck.
So there it is.
Yeah, there it is.
A 26 Foot Long BOAT sits nestled in the tree limbs above.
13 EXT. BOAT IN TREE - MOMENTS LATER 13
The boys scale up the tree from low lying branches.
Ellis, hands on the edge of the boat, gets a leg over the
side and pulls himself onto the deck. He reaches down and
helps to drag Neckbone on board.
They get to their feet, steadying themselves on the wooden
deck. It's solid. They take in their new vantage point.
It came down from up there.
Ellis points to higher limbs that have long been broken off.
Neckbone walks to the back of the boat and hangs his head
over. He finds a gaping hole of gutted wood.
Motor broke off.
Ellis isn't concerned with the motor. His eyes are locked on
a covered cabin at the front of the boat.
Who else knows about this?
Just me and Galen.
What's he think?
He don't care about it.
Ellis walks to the cabin. He pushes a vinyl door open.
'Cause this boat's ours.
Ellis has to duck down to go inside. Neckbone follows.
14 INT. BOAT CABIN - CONTINUOUS 14
Ellis, stooping over, makes his way into the tiny cabin room.
Yellow floral curtains, stained with age, cover a row of
windows that wrap around the top of the cabin. These provide
an odd glow in an otherwise dark, wood paneled space.
There is a bench with rotted out cushions to the left. To
the right, a mold-covered sink and mirror.
Neckbone peers over Ellis' shoulder at the front of the cabin
room. A small booth sits to the right across from a
miniature toilet partially shielded by an open door.
It's got its own shitbox
Neckbone slides back a portion of floral curtain and light
streams in. He starts opening small closets and drawers.
Ellis plops down on the rotted bench cushions.
This is perfect.
Neckbone stares in an open drawer. He removes a stack of
Playboys from the 1980's.
Ellis smiles at him. He leans back and props his foot
against the sink cabinet across from him. This is home.
Neckbone opens the first Playboy. It disintegrates.
As he scrambles to gather the fallen pages, Ellis notices a
dried BOOT PRINT next to his foot. He lowers his shoe from
the cabinet leaving a smaller, muddy print of his own.
He leans in to examine the larger print. The impression of a
CROSS has been left in the heel.
Her tits are so small.
Ellis reaches out and traces his finger in the groove of the
cross marking. His eyes narrow as he re-surveys the cabin.
On the table across from the toilet, he notices several empty
cans of Beanie Weenie. In the booth, he sees a grocery bag.
Ellis slowly raises up and goes over to it.
Look at that beave. You gotta see
Ellis reaches out for the plastic bag. His fingers pull back
the edges to reveal its contents: one can of unopened Beanie
Weenie and half a loaf of BREAD.
Ellis reaches for the bread and gives it a squeeze. It's
FRESH. Ellis freezes.
Ellis holds the loaf of bread up to Neckbone.
Someone's livin' here.
Neckbone sees the grocery bag. His eyes widen. The boys are
stone frozen. They listen for other sounds. Silence.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Both boys flinch at the sharp sounds. Neckbone's hand flies
to cover the alarm on his wristwatch.
We gotta go. I can't be late.
15 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - MOMENTS LATER 15
They drop out of the tree and hit the ground running.
16 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - MOMENTS LATER 16
The boys' feet rush across the tree trunk bridging the creek.
17 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - MOMENTS LATER 17
They launch out of the treeline and sprint to their boat.
Neckbone grabs the side and starts pushing the boat to the
water. Ellis slings his backpack in and joins him.
Suddenly, Ellis straightens up, leaving Neckbone to struggle.
What are you doing?
Ellis stares at a muddy boot print, cross in the heel,
stamped in the center of their boat. He looks back to the
treeline, then down the shore. He looks to his feet.
The boys' shoe prints make chaotic patterns in the mud.
Larger boot prints lead off down the shoreline.
What is it?
I saw that same boot print up in
the tree. It has a cross in the
heel. Somebody's been in our boat.
Shit. Let's go.
Ellis begins following the boot prints around the shoreline.
We gotta go if you wanna make it
Your dad's gonna kick our ass.
It'll take twice as long goin' up
Ellis stops and points ahead of them.
Up there. They stop.
Neckbone takes the lead, walking up to the last boot print.
They appear to vanish.
Where the hell'd he go?
I don't know.
Neckbone turns and freezes. A MAN has appeared in the
distance behind Ellis. He stands between the boys and their
Ellis notices the look on Neckbone's face and turns. He
flinches at the sight of the Man.
MUD(38) stands near the boys' boat holding a pink, child's
fishing pole with cartoon characters on it. He stares back
at them and casts his fishing line into the water.
Shit. You know that guy?
I've never seen him before.
Mud, not taking his eyes off the boys, slowly reels in his
line. His hair is a wild mop that leads to two weeks of
growth on his face.
With a cigarette clinched, he cracks a smile revealing a
MISSING CANINE. He holds a hand in the air as if to wave.
Neckbone slowly raises his hand up to wave back. Mud wears
jeans and cowboy boots. His filthy button-up shirt looks
like it hasn't left his body in years.
He breaks his stare with the boys. Continuing to reel in his
line, he walks over to them.
What you say?
The boys don't respond. Mud walks past them and casts again.
Mud takes the cigarette from his mouth. A tattoo of a
snake's head covers the top of his right hand. Two large
cotton blossoms spill out of its jaws.
Boat in the trees. It's a helluva
Mud continues walking down the shoreline, reeling in his
bait. The boys follow, tentatively.
You talkin' 'bout our boat?
I'm talkin' about my boat.
We found it.
You found it with me livin' in it.
Possession is nine tenths of the
Don't tell me you boys are from
They watch as he grabs the bait at the end of his line and
spits on it. Then, tucking the pole under his arm, he ties a
lock of his hair into a knot. He finishes this process with
You got crosses in your heels.
Nails. Shaped liked crosses.
Ward off evil spirits. A man I
called an Indian but was Meskin
said they were Seven-league boots
worn by the seventh son of a
seventh son. Told me it'd turn me
into a werewolf but that's a lie.
I don't know nothin' about that.
Ellis, confused, won't take his eyes off the man.
They just good luck, but so far
they ain't been workin' too well.
(missing tooth smile)
What's your name?
Mud seems easy to smile, which softens his otherwise coarse
look. His words spill from the mouth rapidly, without much
thought for punctuation. Neckbone, emboldened by these
facts, steps forward to answer.
I'm Neckbone, he's Ellis, and
mister you may be stone ass crazy
but I know you're not the owner of
that boat, not for nine tenths of
Neckbone? That's a real handle
son. Where ya'll from?
What do you care where we're from?
Neckbone looks at Ellis, frustrated by his friend.
Arkansas boys. Ya'll had me
worried for a second.
Mud, pleased by this news, tucks the fishing pole under his
arm and holds out a hand to shake. Ellis stares at the hand,
unsure. He takes it reluctantly.
We s'posed to know you?
I doubt it. I grew up `round here,
but I've been gone awhile.
Where around here?
Different places. Spent a lot of
time back up near the White.
You know Shelly's Oxbow?
Neckbone can't believe his friend is offering this up.
Ellis. We gotta go.
I know it. Guy named Tom
Blankenship used to live back in
He still does. His boat's cross
Ain't that somethin'.
In one motion, Mud flicks his cigarette away and grabs a pack
out of his shirt pocket.
I like you two. You remind me of
me. And seeing how you boys are
from Arkansas and we know some
people and sounds like we all from
the same place I'd say we can make
a deal here about somethin'.
A deal for what?
Food. Food for a boat.
This guy's a bum Ellis. Come on.
Mud's smile vanishes. Neckbone begins to walk off but
begrudgingly stops when Ellis starts back in.
Why don't you go get your own food?
I would if I could, but I told
somebody I'd meet `em here. So I'm
stuck for now and what I got's
Neckbone walks back and pulls Ellis by the arm.
He's a bum Ellis, let's go.
Mud lays a serious look down on Neckbone.
I'm no bum. I got money. You can
call me a hobo `cause a hobo'll
work for his living and you can
call me homeless `cause that's true
for now, but if you call me a bum
again I'll have to teach you
somethin' about respect that your
daddy never did.
Neckbone's confidence recedes. Ellis stands his ground.
When they show up, you'll leave?
Mud begins fishing again.
And when you leave, that boat's
Ellis studies Mud's face, clothes, tattoos. He's thinking
about it. Mud pauses from fishing to make eye contact.
I'm in a tight spot. I just need a
We gotta go.
With that, Ellis turns to leave. The boys walk briskly back
to their boat. Ellis looks over his shoulder to see Mud
making another cast with his fishing pole.
18 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - MOMENTS LATER 18
Ellis motors them away from the island.
You get his name?!
Ellis looks back. Mud has disappeared.
19 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DAY 19
Senior heaves an enormous, white cooler into the bed of his
weathered pick-up truck.
The truck is parked at an angle on a concrete boat ramp next
to their houseboat. The bed of the truck is jam-packed with
six of the big, white coolers.
The SOUND of a dirt bike rattles through the trees. Senior
looks up, wiping his brow with a handkerchief.
Ellis leaps out of the treeline and runs to the pick-up. His
hands hit his knees, out of breath.
Where you been?
Neck and I got caught up helpin'
You're s'posed to be helpin' me. I
had to load this myself.
I know, I'm sorry.
Just get in the back. Can't be
later than we are.
Senior flips up the tailgate. Ellis hops up the wheel well
and into the bed of the truck. He steadies himself on one of
the coolers as his father pulls away.
EXT. DEWITT/MONTAGE - DAY
SERIES OF IMAGES:
20 -Ellis looks around as he rides in the bed of the pick-up 20
truck. He's propped up on a cooler against the back window.
The truck works its way down a two-lane highway.
A20 -Driving, they pass a marina junkyard filled with old boats A20
and sailing paraphernalia.
B20 -Downtown Dewitt. A gas station. A Clinic. Rows of red B20
brick buildings, some abandoned, a small furniture store.
C20 -Parked, Ellis fills a grocery sack up with Ziplock bags fullC20
of white fish and ice out of the coolers.
-He hops out of the truck and runs the sack of fish to the
front door of a house. An elderly black man waits there.
21 EXT. SONIC DRIVE-IN - DAY 21
Ellis sits in the bed of the truck eating a chili dog.
Senior is up front wolfing down a cheeseburger.
A GROUP of TEENAGERS are gathered around a CLUSTER of parked
cars in the corner of the lot. They meander between the
vehicles, smoking, gossiping, passing around a bottle of
Boone's Farm. Ellis watches them.
MAY PEARL(16) appears in the middle of the Group laughing
with her GIRLFRIENDS. She's pretty and physically more
mature looking than Ellis.
He watches as a SKINNY KID takes his ballcap off and puts it
on May Pearl's head. She sniffs the cap, gags and tosses it
back at him. Her friends laugh.
Let's go son.
Ellis crumples the wrapper to his finished hotdog and jumps
down from the bed of the truck.
22 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/TWO-LANE ROAD - MOVING - DAY 22
Ellis rides up front with his father.
Senior is a reserved man, older than Ellis' mother by several
years. He's got thinning hair under the cap that only leaves
his head when he sleeps.
He reaches into his shirt pocket and fishes out a fold of
cash. He slips out a five dollar bill and hands it to Ellis.
It's s'posed to be ten.
It's ten you do your share. I
loaded this mornin'. That makes it
Ellis begrudgingly stuffs the five in his jeans.
You drop me at Neck's?
Senior checks his pants pockets, feels around under his seat.
Hadn't you seen enougha him today?
Said he had something for me.
You see anymore Ding Dongs over
Ellis checks under his seat and pulls out a half-empty box of
Ding Dongs. Hands one over to his father who rips the
package with his teeth.
What'd Momma wanna talk to you
This mornin', what'd she wanna talk
with you about?
You spy on me in my own house?
I wasn't spyin', just heard ya'll.
That's your mother's business.
Senior makes this his answer, eats the Ding Dong.
23 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - DAY 23
Neckbone sits on the front steps of his trailer reading a
comic book. The muffled sound of the Beach Boys' "Help Me
Rhonda" plays off a record inside.
Senior's truck pulls away as Ellis walks up the entrance to
the trailer park.
I came by for that book.
You said Galen had a book might
help me out.
Aw, yeah. We gotta give it a
minute. You hear that music?
That means he's doin' it. That's
his doin' it song.
Ellis takes a seat next to Neckbone. They listen to the
song, slightly craning their necks to pick up on any other
sounds. There are none.
You know who it is?
Whoever's drivin' that white Dodge.
Neckbone motions to a beat up Dodge Shadow in the yard.
You tell Galen 'bout this morning?
Nah. You tell anybody?
That guy was crazy.
Maybe. I don't know. I think he
just needed some help.
Well he can swim his ass off that
island and get some.
I think I'm gonna go back, take him
Suddenly, the music from inside stops. Footsteps approaching
and the trailer door flies open, almost hitting the boys.
A GIRL(28) bursts out down the steps, straight to her car.
She wears tight jean-shorts and is buttoning a white shirt.
She stops and turns back to the boys.
You're Neckbone right?
You look like a good enough kid. A
word of advice, don't grow up to be
like your shit heel uncle.
The boys can't take their eyes off her cleavage revealed
under her half-buttoned shirt. A necklace with three
misshapen pearls hangs from her neck.
She snaps the boys' attention up to her eyes.
You hear me? You treat a woman
like a princess. Got it?!
The trailer door opens and GALEN(36) emerges. He's a big,
lumbering guy wearing a full-body wet suit pulled halfway
down. A faded mermaid tattooed in the middle of his chest.
Come on baby.
I'M A GODDAMN PRINCESS!!!
The Girl yanks off the necklace and hurls it at Galen. He
brushes fingers through his thick mustache.
That's uncalled for.
He walks out to her. She heads for the Dodge Shadow.
A lot of people are comfortable
with that kind of thing in the
bedroom. Some people aren't. We
know that about you now...
Ellis sees one of the misshapen pearls at his feet. He picks
it up and holds it to the sun.
Pearls. Galen finds 'em in some of
the mussel shells. Most of 'em
ain't worth dick, but he likes to
make necklaces for the girls. Come
on, let's get that book.
Neckbone walks into the trailer. Ellis stands up and
retrieves the other two pearls out of the dirt. He crams
them in his pocket and follows Neckbone inside.
24 INT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS 24
The trailer is decorated in the filth of a true bachelor pad.
Neckbone makes his way to a bedroom. He tosses clothes and
trash around to get to what he's looking for. A cardboard
box. He pulls the box onto the bed and sifts through.
I don't want you goin' back out
there by yourself. That river's
scary enough with two people, and I
don't trust that guy.
Here it is.
He takes out a hardback book. The slip reads, "The Confident
Confidant, communicating with the opposite sex."
Galen said this really turned
things around for him.
Ellis flips delicately through the manual.
25 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS 25
Galen watches as the Girl's Dodge Shadow pulls away. The
boys step out of the trailer.
You really going back out there?
I think it's the right thing to do.
Well...I'll be over in the mornin'
Galen, his thumbs tucked under his armpits, walks back to the
trailer. He passes the boys and notices the self-help book
in Ellis' hands.
That's a good book. Be sure you do
the worksheets in the back. Let's
get some dinner Neck.
Galen's gone inside.
I'll call 'fore I come.
Neckbone follows his uncle into the trailer. Ellis flips
through his new book as he heads out of the trailer park.
26 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 26
By the time Ellis makes it to his houseboat, the sun has
disappeared behind the horizon.
He crosses the make-shift plank and enters through a screen
door by the carport.
27 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS 27
Mary Lee flinches when she sees Ellis come through the door.
Her face is flushed. Senior stands toe to toe with her.
They stare at Ellis, who has paused in the doorway. He
doesn't say anything, just looks curiously at his parents.
Senior storms past Ellis and is out the door.
Ellis steps further into the den. Mary Lee tries to
straighten herself, patting down her hair and dabbing at her
eyes with the back of her hand.
You okay momma?
She walks into the kitchen keeping Ellis at her back. She
turns on the sink and begins scrubbing at a dish.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
Do you need me to fix you
somethin'? Have you eaten?
I'm all right.
Mary Lee shuts off the water and lets the dish rest in the
sink. She turns to Ellis.
I'm gonna turn in.
Mary Lee slips past him and enters her bedroom. The door
closes and Ellis is left alone in the den. It's quiet. He
waits, looking at the door his mother just closed.
Ellis walks into the kitchen and eases open a cabinet door.
Checking over his shoulder, he zips his backpack open and
fills it with CANNED FOOD.
28 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - DAY 28
Hands pump the stock of a high-powered pellet gun.
TOM BLANKENSHIP(67), white hair cut high and tight wearing a
short-sleeve button up, takes careful aim with the pellet
Tom sits in a lawn chair atop the roof of his houseboat. He
squeezes his left eye shut.
A snake's head pokes out of the water about 15 yards off his
boat. The head makes for a target no bigger than a thumb.
Tom's left eye snaps open and he fires. The pellet rips
through the snake's head. Its body floats to the surface.
Tom takes account of his shot as he pumps the air rifle. He
scans the water for more targets.
29 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 29
Ellis watches Tom Blankenship from across the bayou. Tom's
boat sits directly opposite Ellis', separated by 30 yards of
muddy brown water.
Ellis leans against a post under the carport. His backpack
resting at his feet, he holds the Walkie-Talkie in his hand.
Senior works behind him washing utensils in the outdoor sink.
What do you know about Tom
Senior doesn't turn around from his work at the sink.
Mr. Blankenship, what do you know
I don't know. He looks lonely over
Some people move to this river to
work on it, and some move here to
be left alone.
Senior makes his way to the ice machine and begins scooping
ice into a large white cooler.
Mary Lee emerges from the houseboat dressed for work, a
secretarial job. Senior stops what he's doing to watch her.
She walks over to Ellis.
Let's sit down for dinner tonight
okay? Will you make it home by
She walks off the boat without a glance in Senior's
direction. He trails her with his eyes before going back to
digging in the ice.
A29 Ellis looks back at Tom. The Walkie SQUAWKS out several A29
loud BEEPS. Ellis crams it in his backpack and runs off the
Senior holds a hand up but never looks up from his work.
30 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 30
Water laps at the shore of the island. Ellis and Neckbone
drag their boat onto the muddy bank.
Where you think he's at?
I guess we should try the boat.
They head for the treeline.
31 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY 31
The boys emerge from the woods, their attention focused up to
the boat hovering in the tree some twenty feet above them.
Ellis notices the remnants of a fire on the ground. A log
pushed up next to it for a seat. Ellis kicks at the ash.
Looks like he made camp.
(looking up to the boat)
You think he's up there?
I didn't know if ya'll'd come back.
The boys spin around. They survey the woods but no one's
there. Their eyes drift up to find Mud sitting in a tree,
his legs dangle off a branch.
What're you doin'?
Mud bounds down, stepping from limb to trunk to the ground.
It's an agile move.
I try to never sleep in the same
place twice. What you got there?
Mud motions with his head to the backpack in Ellis' hand.
Ellis holds it out to him.
I brought you some food.
Mud looks at the backpack, but doesn't move.
Mud takes the backpack and walks over to the ashes of his
campfire. He squats with his back to the boys and unzips the
bag. Hunkered down, Mud's shirttail rides up over the lip of
his jeans revealing a PISTOL at his backside.
Ellis sees this and motions to Neckbone. The boys stand
their ground, cautious.
I owe you boys.
Keeping the bag in hand, Mud takes a seat on the stump behind
him. He pulls out a selection of canned food; pumpkin pie
filling, evaporated milk, green beans. He grabs the beans.
I was gonna try runnin' a trot line
today. See how far that'd get me.
Mud removes a good-sized folding knife from his pocket and
makes short order of the can lid. He tips the can up letting
the beans fall into his mouth. Juice flows down his cheeks.
I'd been rationin' what I
had...green bean never tasted so
The can is quickly emptied, juice running down Mud's chin.
He straightens his back, choking down the final swallow. He
sees the boys staring at him and catches himself.
I appreciate it.
What you got that pistol for?
Mud wipes off his chin, realizing the boys have been studying
him. He closes the knife and tucks it in his pocket.
Mud gets up, heads for a duffel bag tucked under a nearby
tree. The boys pivot, keeping Mud in front of them. Mud
Ya'll don't have to be afraid of
me. I have two ways to protect
myself out here. This shirt, and
There are fierce powers at work in
the world boys. Good, evil, poor
luck, best luck. Men have to take
advantage where they can.
Mud removes a spool of fishing line and a small plastic
tackle box. He scoops up the duffel bag and heads into the
32 Neckbone looks to Ellis, who walks after Mud into the 32
Who's this guy you're waitin' on?
I'm not waitin' for a guy. I'm
waitin' on my girlfriend. Juniper.
Is she hot?
Best lookin' girl I've ever seen.
Hands down. Blonde hair. Long
legs. She's like a dream you don't
want to wake up from. She's got
birds tattooed on her hands, here.
Mud stops, points to the area on the top of his right hand,
between his thumb and pointer finger.
Nightingales. Good luck birds.
That a good luck snake?
No it is not.
I hate snakes.
That's because God made them for us
It's a thing we knew to be afraid
of before we even got into this
33 They emerge from the woods onto the downstream coast of 33
the island. It looks different than the other shoreline.
A large swath of red clay angles sharply into the water.
Cherokee would wrap snake skin
around their pregnant women's
bellies. Induce labor, scare the
child out. Here.
He fetches a length of rope out of the duffel bag and tosses
it to Neckbone.
Set that `round your bed at night.
Snake won't cross braided rope.
(nods to Mud's tattoo)
So what's that for then?
Mud walks to a tree branch that has grown out over the bank,
nearly resting in the water. He sets a trot line from it.
A reminder. Don't get bit. I was
10, swimmin' `bout a mile up from
here. Me and Juniper. Sonofabitch
swam right up under me, bit me just
below the armpit. June got me out,
got me to a clinic. Doctor said I
shoulda been dead in twenty
minutes. Took us an hour just to
get back to town.
What'd they do?
Gave me antivenom. For a cotton
mouth. See here.
Mud shows the tattoo on top of his right hand. He points out
the two cotton blossoms bulging from the snake's mouth.
Problem with antivenom is they can
only give it to you once. It's
made from horse blood. Your body
would reject it a second time. The
cure ends up being more dangerous
than the poison.
What happens if you get bit again?
I die, or just sweat it out.
Neckbone, not buying it, looks at Ellis and taps his watch.
We gotta go help Neck's uncle.
You never said your name.
Mud. You can call me Mud.
Neckbone tosses the braided rope back. It lands at his feet.
Here you go, Mud. I think you need
that worse than I do.
I'll be all right.
The boys disappear back into the trees.
34 INT. GARY'S ELECTRIC SHOP - DAY 34
A switch clicks "ON". BLINDING LIGHT emits from two FLOOD
LAMPS encased in plastic shells. The switch clicks "OFF" and
the lights dim to the dull orange glow of their filaments.
They look bright enough.
The owner of the shop, an ELECTRICIAN(62), holds up a metal
bar with the lamps affixed by bolts at either end.
Should be. I rigged DC power up
through marine batteries. Makes it
portable. Gave you a rigging bar
to set on your shoulder.
So you really think these'll work
35 EXT. GARY'S ELECTRIC/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 35
Ellis and Neckbone sit on the tailgate of Galen's truck. The
Gary's Electric sign hangs behind them.
Neckbone focuses on a carburetor in his hand. Ellis stares
across the street at the Piggly Wiggly parking lot where the
roving GROUP of TEENAGERS have collected for the afternoon.
The Teenagers are up to their typical gossip and minor
offenses. Ellis has zeroed in on May Pearl again.
You start datin' I bet her dad'll
give you a free pick-up truck.
I don't care about that.
Ellis watches as the same Skinny Kid from before tries to
flirt with her. She's not having it. He pops her bra strap
before landing the final straw, a smack on her ass. She
turns and swats at him.
Seeing this, Ellis is on his feet and crossing the street.
What's goin' on?
Ellis doesn't turn back. Neckbone reluctantly sets the
carburetor down and follows.
36 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 36
She shoves the Skinny Kid, but he continues laughing.
Ellis taps the Kid on the shoulder. As he turns, Ellis
PUNCHES him in the face.
The Kid, completely taken off guard, stumbles and trips to
the ground. Some older, tougher looking GUYS see this and
begin laughing at him.
Holy shit Pryor, get off your ass.
Pryor collects himself and gets off the ground. Ego bruised,
he walks off mumbling. The Older Kids keep riding him.
May Pearl sizes up Ellis.
You didn't have to do that.
He was messin' with you.
Do I know you?
I'm Ellis. That's Neck.
Neckbone waves by wagging a finger in the air.
We went to Junior High with you,
before you went to High School.
How old are you?
Fourteen? You know you just
punched a Senior?
You think you're pretty tough.
Ellis shrugs, not wanting to deny it.
MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
I'm May Pearl.
What else do you know?
Something catches Neckbone's attention. He cranes his neck
forward to get a better look.
Son of a bitch...Ellis?
Ellis breaks away from his conversation with May Pearl.
Neckbone nods to a cheap motel called the EXECUTIVE INN
located on the opposite side of the Piggly Wiggly parking
JUNIPER(35), a truly beautiful woman squeezed into tight
jeans and a low cut top, makes her way from the motel parking
lot to the Piggly Wiggly.
She passes in front of the cluster of Teenagers. All of the
boys have taken note. Some cat calls from the crowd.
Juniper, without facing the Teenagers, gives them the finger.
You ever seen that girl before?
No. Did you see her hands?
Ellis catches himself and turns back to May Pearl.
Sorry. We know a guy we think
might know that girl.
A GIRLFRIEND(17) of May Pearl's calls out to her.
May Pearl! Let's go!
I guess I'll see you.
If you can find my phone number,
you should call it.
I can find it.
May Pearl walks over to her friend. Ellis watches her go,
but then remembers Juniper. He turns to Neckbone.
Where'd she go?
Into the Piggly Wiggly. She came
from the motel.
I'm gonna go see if it's her.
I gotta go check on Galen. We'll
pick you up out front.
Ellis heads for the Piggly Wiggly. Neckbone calls after him.
What'd she say?
Wants me to call her.
37 INT. PIGGLY WIGGLY - DAY 37
Ellis walks past the grocery aisles looking for the girl. He
spots her by the potato chips. He tucks behind a display of
stacked cans and watches.
Juniper reaches for a bag of chips, birds tattooed on her
hand. Ellis smiles. It's her, and she really is beautiful.
She turns down the aisle, coming right for him. He pretends
to peruse the canned food and notices that it's a big display
of Beanie Weenie. He grabs two handfuls as she passes.
Ellis takes the cans to an open register. As a CASHIER scans
and bags his items, he cranes his neck looking for her.
She's disappeared into another section of the store.
Ellis pays in crumpled cash. A horn HONKS. He sees Galen's
truck idling out front. He grabs the bag and runs out.
38 EXT. GALEN'S TRUCK/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 38
Neckbone waits at the open passenger door.
Was it her?
It's her. I saw the tattoos. He
No he wasn't.
39 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 39
By the time Ellis makes it back home, the sun has gone from
the sky. He crosses the makeshift plank to board his house.
Home for dinner?
Ellis is startled by his father's voice. Senior sits in a
lawn chair under the eaves of the carport. He's hidden in
shadow, save for a red glow from the tip of his cigarette.
What you hidin' for?
I ain't hidin'.
He notices Senior tip back a pint of liquor and set it at his
feet. Ellis opens the screen door leading inside.
Come over here.
Ellis lets the door fall shut and skulks over to a beam that
supports the carport. He leans into it.
You know I love you?
Yessir. I know.
I work you hard 'cause life is
work. You know that?
Your Mamma's been talkin' 'bout
movin' in town.
What's that mean?
She seems set on it. Wants to
separate. She may ask me for a
This hits Ellis like a ton of bricks. He rights himself.
What's that mean for me?
It means enjoy the river son.
Enjoy it while you live on it,
'cause this way a life isn't long
for this world. Game and fish's
'bout made certain of that.
But you and me can still live out
here. Game and fish can't take
your boat. Not while you're still
The houseboat's in your mother's
name. Her daddy give it to her not
me. If she wants to leave it, Game
and Fish has ever' right to take
this boat apart board by board.
But that ain't right. You work
outta here. We got the ice
machine, the traps. What are we
supposed to do?
Like I said, this is your mother's
I ain't no townie. I ain't livin'
Senior takes a slow pull off the bottle. Ellis' mind races.
I've let you down. A man should be
in charge of his own affairs, but I
haven't worked it like that.
But ya'll are married. Ya'll are
s'posed to love each other.
I don't know about that anymore.
Ellis is speechless. After a moment, he turns to go inside.
He stops and turns back to his father. Senior tries to
express a sentiment he doesn't have the words for. Ellis
40 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - CONTINUOUS 40
Mary Lee sits hunched at the made dinner table. She runs her
finger around the rim of a half empty glass of iced tea.
It's a full spread with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and a
salad. The table is set for two. She's been waiting.
Ellis lets the front door slam shut behind him. She sits up.
Ellis doesn't speak, he doesn't look at her. He enters his
room and shuts the door.
He's heard the news and she knows it. Mary Lee's face drops.
41 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - CONTINUOUS 41
Ellis slings his backpack down, pacing the small room. He
stops and leans his forehead against the door. The sound of
his Mother clearing the table seeps through.
He kicks the door, cracking its shitty composite wood. His
face flushed and his breathing heavy, he slides to a seat.
On the verge of hyperventilating, he stares out the dark
bedroom window trying to get control of his breathing.
Ellis looks at his backpack. It has spilled open revealing a
can of Beanie Weenie. Ellis studies the can.
He looks back to the window. His breathing settles.
Quickly, he scoops up the backpack and heads out the window.
42 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - NIGHT 42
It's pitch black. The only light comes from the moon's
reflection off the surface of the water.
Ellis, eyes wide, navigates the small boat through choppy
43 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - NIGHT 43
Ellis struggles to pull the boat onto shore. Leaving it half
in the water, Ellis looks around. No sign of Mud. He sizes
up the dark woods.
He removes a flashlight from his backpack and shines it down
the shorelines. Still nothing. Ellis follows the beam of
light into the woods.
44 EXT. ISLAND WOODS - NIGHT 44
Ellis stands at the creek that cuts through the island.
He can make out a campfire glowing through trees in the
distance. A RUSTLING behind him. He swings the light
around. Nothing but trees.
Ellis takes a deep breath. Finding the log to cross, he
shines his light down into the creek. The nest of snakes
show their backs.
45 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - NIGHT 45
A campfire burns at the base of the tree. The firelight
illuminates the belly of the boat that rests 20 feet above.
Ellis, his flashlight off, crouches behind a tree and watches
the campsite. There is no one there. He looks into the
black forest behind him, thinks of going back.
A twig snaps in the distance and he's back on guard. Ellis
nervously scans the woods before finally stepping into the
light of the campfire.
The SOUND of a gun's hammer drawing back CLICKS behind him.
Mud emerges from the trees, a .45 extended toward Ellis'
Ellis, still frozen, slowly turns to him. Mud huffs out a
laugh and drops the pistol to his side.
What're you doin' out here?
Ellis slowly raises the backpack in his hand.
I got you some Beanie Weenie.
Mud tucks the pistol into his jeans and accepts the backpack.
I appreciate that, but I didn't
expect you out here at night.
Mud takes a seat on the log and transfers the cans into his
own duffel bag. He holds up a can of the Beanie Weenie.
Look at that. You really know how
to do somebody right. I didn't
wanna say anything before, but it's
hard to make a meal out of pumpkin
That's all my mom had.
I'm not complainin'.
Can I get one of those?
They're yours to begin with.
Ellis sits as Mud hands him a can. They eat.
I missed my dinner.
That's good right?
You been out here too long.
Mud laughs. Finishing the can, he takes a half-smoked
cigarette from his shirt pocket. He pulls a twig from the
fire for a light.
The girl you're waitin' on, she's
How'd you meet her?
We grew up together.
Do you love her?
I do. The first time I saw her was
on this river. Just up from here.
She saved my life.
From the snake bite.
That's right. I was younger than
you are now, but when I came to in
the hospital and she was there, it
was like the world split open, came
back together new. Everything
changed. I knew from then on I'd
do anything for her.
Why aren't ya'll married?
I've asked. Several times.
Marriage just doesn't work for some
Ellis thinks on this.
My dad says my parents may be
gettin' a divorce.
I'm sorry to hear that.
If it happens, and my mom moves us
off the river, they say the
government can come take our boat
Who says that?
Everybody. They passed a law so
you can't sell your boat. Can't
rent it. If the owner leaves, they
got you. Game and Fish want `em
off the river.
I've never been one to trust the
government on matters of personal
property, but if your parents love
each other, there's always a
People just sometimes forget why
they fell in love in the first
Ellis watches Mud toke the cigarette nub. He's really
getting all he can from it.
I saw Juniper today.
I didn't talk to her, but she had
the birds tattooed on her hand like
you said. You were right. She's
Mud stands, surprised by the news. He walks to the other
side of the fire so his back is to the boy.
Where'd you see her?
At the Piggly Wiggly. I think
she's stayin' at a motel by there.
The Executive Inn.
Mud looks at Ellis through the fire. He takes a drag and
smiles at the boy. The hole from his missing tooth shows.
That's good news. Real good news.
Mud paces, slowly. He's thinking.
Does she know you're out here?
No. We picked another place to
meet. Couple days from now.
Mud walks back to the log and sits.
You wanna go tonight? I can give
you a ride up river.
Mud looks at Ellis, nodding.
Tomorrow. I'll go tomorrow.
You need me to come get you?
Naw. I can manage. Hell I got out
here didn't I?
They sit in silence. Ellis stares up at the boat hanging
over them, its peeling hull lit by the firelight.
Mud pinches the ash from the end of his cigarette, places the
stub back in his shirt pocket. Noticing Ellis, Mud tilts his
head back to take in the boat.
It's a helluva thing.
Mud pauses, his mind working on something.
The two sit by the campfire staring up at the suspended boat.
46 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - MORNING 46
Mary Lee knocks on her way into the bedroom.
Time to get up.
She begins picking clothes off the floor. Ellis, in bed,
raises up on his elbows. He's tired from a late night.
I'm going to Wal-Mart. I need you
to come with me.
She pulls the covers off of him.
47 I/E. MARY LEE'S CAR/INTERSTATE - DAY 47
The two ride in an awkward silence.
Ellis stares at the farmland passing by outside as Mary Lee
steers the compact Toyota down a four-lane interstate.
Ellis I know what your father told
you last night. That's not what I
wanted. I wanted to sit you down
and talk about it.
What do you wanna talk about? You
want to leave and that means they
can tear up our house.
I've spent my whole life on that
boat. I don't think it's too much
to ask for your...
Mary Lee is interrupted by a line of traffic backed up in
front of her. She slows to a stop.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
Oh no. I hope no one's hurt.
There are flashing police lights up ahead. Ellis tries to
see what's going on but can't make anything out past the line
of cars. They inch forward.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
I'm just saying there are two sides
to this. I haven't made up my mind
about anything because I want you
to be involved in my decision, but
I need a change Ellis. I deserve
As they approach the flashing lights, they see three State
Trooper vehicles parked to funnel traffic down to one lane.
The STATE TROOPERS stop each car, checking the trunks.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
I think they're searching people.
A Trooper signals Mary Lee to pull up to a stop. Two other
Troopers approach her vehicle. The first begins looking in
her back windows as the second leans down to speak to her.
She lowers her window.
Can you open the trunk please
Mary Lee pulls the lever by her knee, and the second Trooper
walks around the back of the car.
Have you picked up or seen any
hitchhikers today ma'am?
The Trooper produces a flier with a color photo on it.
Have you seen this man?
The Trooper leans over and holds the paper out to Ellis.
Son, have you seen this man?
Ellis looks at the photo. It's of Mud. He looks exactly the
same as he did last night, down to the shirt. In the photo,
Mud's smiling, revealing his missing tooth.
We've had reports that he's in this
area. If you see him, call 9-1-1
We will officer.
The Trooper pulls his head from the window.
What'd he do?!
The Trooper bends back down and looks at Ellis.
What'd he do?
Move along please.
Mary Lee pulls forward and speeds back up on the interstate.
(rolls up her window)
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
How would you feel about moving
into town with me?
Please don't tell your father this,
but I've been looking at a couple
of places. I know it would be a
big adjustment for you, but it
might end up being something you
like. You know living on the river
isn't exactly everyone's idea of
the good life. Ellis?
He looks at her.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
Are you even listening to me?
48 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - DAY 48
Ellis busts through the door, grabs his backpack and is gone.
49 EXT. HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 49
Ellis is off the houseboat and running up the bank.
He heads down the dirt path, grabbing the Walkie Talkie out
of his backpack.
(into the Walkie)
Neck! Neck, pick up!
50 EXT. RIVERBANK - DAY 50
Ellis removes branches and readies the flat bottom boat to
launch. The sound of Neckbone's bike arrives before he does.
Neckbone crests the sand covered slope. He dismounts and
starts to chain the bike up to a tree trunk.
So what's the big deal?
My mom and I were headed to Wal-
Mart on 165. There was a roadblock
with state troopers. They searched
our car and showed us a picture of
Mud. They're lookin' for him.
I knew it! I told you that crazy
sonofabitch was trouble. Did they
say what he did?
So'd you tell `em where he is?
No. That's why I called you. We
gotta warn him.
He's goin' to get Juniper today. I
went out there last night and told
him where we saw her. He needs to
know people are lookin' for him.
You think he doesn't know that
already? Jesus Ellis, why do you
think he's on that island? You
don't even know what he's wanted
Ellis climbs in the boat and Neckbone yanks his shoulder.
Ellis! I'm serious. We don't know
who this guy is.
He loves her Neck. He told me.
I don't give a shit who he loves.
Ellis starts the motor and waits for his friend.
He's not dangerous.
Reluctantly, Neckbone throws his leg into the boat.
It sounds like a shitload of state
troopers think different.
51 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY 51
Ellis and Neckbone emerge from the woods at Mud's campsite.
They scan nearby tree limbs.
No tellin' where the hell he's been
He may already be gone.
The boys look straight up. Mud leans over the edge of the
boat above them.
Mud drops them a rope with knots tied in it. Ellis starts
inching his way up. Neckbone begrudgingly follows.
52 EXT. BOAT IN TREE - CONTINUOUS 52
Ellis pulls himself over the edge of the boat. He finds Mud
sitting in the swivel chair behind the steering wheel. He
writes in an open spiral notebook with a black Sharpie.
What are you doin'?
I'm gonna have to go back on our
deal for the boat. I don't feel
good about it, but I don't see any
other way outta what I'm into.
Neckbone makes his way on board. Mud has pulled a panel off
the steering column. Exposed wires dangle.
So you know about the state
He looks up from his notebook.
What state troopers?
The ones spreadin' your picture all
over the place. Stoppin' cars on
165 searchin' for your ass.
Mud factors this in and then goes back to writing.
I didn't know about that, but it
doesn't surprise me. There plenty
of folks lookin' for me right now.
I shot a man. Killed him.
Mud stands and walks to the back of the boat. The boys' eyes
follow him cautiously.
Mud lifts a hatch at the back that would typically house the
batteries and engine wiring. There's nothing left but a hole
into the trees. He makes a note.
I'm sorry I didn't tell ya'll
sooner, but I was hopin' to be gone
before anything came of it. Didn't
want you involved.
Mud turns to really face them for the first time.
Ya'll have been real good to me.
You're the only friends I got out
here. If the state troopers have
165 blocked, they'll have others
blocked too. I won't get anywhere
in a car. I want to try takin'
this boat down, see if we can get
it in the water.
Ellis and Neckbone stand their ground. They don't say
anything. Mud walks back to the steering column. He drops to
his knees and fiddles with the wires.
With a boat like this I can make it
to the gulf in two days. I could
get anywhere from there. But I'd
need a boat at least this big to
make it on open water. It's got no
title, no owner, nobody lookin' for
it. It's my best shot.
Who'd you kill?
It was a bad piece of business.
Ya'll don't need to hear about it.
I need to hear about it.
Mud sits up. He looks at Ellis, deciding how much to tell.
Juniper made a mistake. She hooked
up with a guy. He was no good.
His name was Hutchins. Family owns
a chain of restaurants down in
Where were you?
I was around, but me and Juniper
were on the outs. She met this
Hutchins, he sold her on some lies.
Got her pregnant. That's when he
started showin' who he really was.
He dropped June down a flight of
stairs after whoopin' her half to
death. She lost the baby. He made
it so the doctors think she can't
have children anymore. There're
things you can get away with in
this world and things you can't. I
tracked him down at a motel just
outside of San Antonio. He was
there with another woman. That's
where it happened.
Mud's done with his story. He goes back to the wiring.
I understand if you can't help me
anymore, but I need this boat. And
I need to get it in the water fast.
After a moment, he sits up and wipes sweat from his forehead.
I've made a list. Things we'll
need. What do ya'll think?
Ellis takes time to consider everything. He looks at
Neckbone, who has a disgruntled look on his face.
You did it for her? To protect
Ellis nods. Mud looks over at Neckbone, who still has the
disgruntled look on his face.
What do you think?
I think you want us to run around,
stickin' our necks out, gettin'
everything you need, just so you
can take our boat.
That's about it.
Mud removes a cigarette butt and sparks it with a lighter.
What do we get out of it?
What do you want?
Neckbone looks to Ellis, judging his bargaining position.
What about that pistol?
Mud eyes the boy, pulling on the nub of cigarette.
I only got two things out here
worth anything. This shirt...
Mud pulls the pistol from the back of his jeans. Neckbone
tenses, but relaxes when Mud splays it out on an open palm.
And this pistol. I can't give you
the shirt `cause I need it for
protection, but if you help me get
this boat in the water, the
Neckbone squinches his face in thought, sizing up this trade.
What kind is it?
A forty five.
I guess we could work a deal like
Neckbone steps forward to grab the pistol, but Mud puts it
back in his jeans.
We get this thing floatin' first.
Neckbone looks over at Ellis, who shrugs.
All right then.
Mud smiles, flashing his missing tooth. He spits in his palm
and holds it out to Neckbone. Neckbone, not sure about
taking the spit hand, reluctantly shakes.
Mud rips a page from the notebook and hands it to Ellis.
Ya'll scrounge what you can off
this list, but if we're gonna get
this done right we'll need more
help. Can you fetch Tom for me?
Mud has smoked down to the filter. He crushes the butt into
his palm and puts it back in his shirt pocket.
I was hopin' to let that old
assassin stay put, but we'll need
him to get things ya'll can't. Can
you find him?
I know where he lives, but I've
never spoke to him.
Just tell him my name. He'll know
Ellis folds the list up. He and Neckbone start down the rope
as Mud goes back to the wiring.
Don't lose my pistol.
They continue down the rope. Mud continues his work.
53 EXT. SHELLY'S OXBOW - DAY 53
Ellis steers to the southern mouth of Shelly's Oxbow, the
bend in the river that holds he and Tom Blankenship's
houseboats, among others.
He grounds the boat just shy of entering the Oxbow and steps
over Neckbone to hop onto the bank.
I'll watch the boat.
Ellis scans the woods that populate the patch of land wedged
between the river and this short tributary.
Be careful. Galen always said that
old man's crazy.
Neckbone keeps his seat as Ellis darts into the woods
54 EXT. TOM'S WOODS - DAY 54
Ellis prowls around the small pine trees and bushes. He
pauses, seeing the entrance to Tom Blankenship's boat.
Something moves on the houseboat. Ellis hunkers down behind
a bush. He sees Tom wrapping cable onto a metal spool.
Ellis is nervous. He checks over his shoulder, nothing but
woods. When he looks back to the boat, Tom is gone. In a
crouch, Ellis moves closer.
Taking a deep breath, Ellis steps out from the cover of the
pine trees and heads up a walkway that leads onboard.
Why you huntin' me?
Ellis flinches. He turns to find Tom Blankenship standing at
the edge of the boat.
You deaf boy? I said why're you
I ain't huntin you.
What's your business here?
I came to find you. I got a
message for you.
You're Senior's boy.
What you got to say he can't tell
Tom, rusty on pleasantries, brushes past Ellis as he heads
inside the boat.
It ain't from him.
Ellis, not wanting to follow further, shouts from the planks.
MUD SENT ME!
There is a silence. Then footsteps. Tom reappears.
Mud sent you.
What do you know about it?
He asked me to come get you.
Tom straightens his back. He looks into the woods, searching
for something he may have missed.
Your daddy know this?
No sir. Mud needs your help.
Tom's mind churns on a series of facts unknown to the boy.
Where is he?
55 EXT. RIVER - DAY 55
Neckbone bounces in the boat as it shifts in the choppy
Mississippi water. His eyes are locked on the back of Tom's
head. Tom rides stone faced in the front.
Neckbone turns back to Ellis and raises his eyebrows as if to
ask, "What's going on?". Ellis shrugs.
56 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 56
Ellis runs the boat on shore. Tom splashes into the ankle
deep water and helps the boys drag it onto the bank.
Ellis takes the lead, walking ahead and scanning the
treeline. Mud steps out, just past the shadow of the woods.
Ellis turns to Tom and points.
There he is.
Tom spits onto the muddy bank and makes his way toward Mud.
Ellis and Neckbone stay by the boat and watch.
BY THE TREELINE,
Mud watches Tom approaching. He corrects his posture and
feebly attempts to smooth some wrinkles from his shirt.
Tom stops in front of him, his eyes pinched in the sun.
They stare at each other for a long moment. Neither one
BY THE BOAT,
At this distance, the boys can't hear what is being said, but
they try and size up the situation through body language.
You think that's his dad?
I don't know.
BY THE TREELINE,
Where is she?
In town. Got here yesterday.
Tom lowers his head. Frustrated.
Why you out here like this?
BY THE BOAT,
The boys see Mud take a seat on a nearby stump. He's
explaining something. Tom listens, standing over him.
They don't look like family.
Ellis watches Mud as he gestures and speaks. He seems
Mud stops talking. Tom scratches a hand through his white
crew cut. He begins pointing a finger at Mud. His face is
flushed and the sound of his voice carries to the boys,
though still unintelligible.
He's really givin' it to him.
AT THE TREELINE,
Mud's head hangs as Tom shouts at him.
You've spent your whole life
followin' that girl! She's run you
halfway cross the country and back,
and for what? For this, left out
on an island beggin' for help. A
murderer. A thief.
I ain't no thief.
What would you call it then? Don't
even mention draggin' those boys
into this. Do you have any idea
what you're doin'?
Waits for a response, but Mud gives none.
I'm ashamed of you.
Mud looks up at him.
Don't expect help from me. There's
none to be given.
AT THE BOAT,
They see Tom turn his back on Mud and head toward the boat.
Mud doesn't protest; he doesn't move.
Tom brushes past Ellis.
Tom shoves the boat back into the water. Neckbone helps him.
Ellis looks back at Mud, who still hasn't moved from his
stump. He goes to him. Tom sees this and stops pushing.
AT THE TREELINE,
Ellis stops a good six feet back from where Mud sits.
You all right?
Mud raises his head.
Looks like we're on our own.
He stands and takes a folded piece of paper from his shirt.
I didn't want you bein' the one to
do this, but I can't see a way
around it. I need to get this
letter to Juniper. Could you take
it to her for me?
You have to be careful. You can't
just walk up and knock on her door,
you hear me? You have to watch
I can handle it.
Ellis steps forward and Mud hands over the note. Ellis takes
it and walks back to the others.
AT THE BOAT,
Tom stares at Ellis as he climbs on board.
Tom looks back at Mud, who is watching him. He gives the
boat a final shove before pulling himself in. They motor
away. Tom doesn't look back.
57 EXT. RIVER/SHELLY'S OXBOW - MOVING - DAY 57
You Mud's daddy?
Mud didn't have no daddy. No
mother I ever knew of. He was
livin' in the woods when I met him.
Younger than you are now.
Tom doesn't offer anymore. Neckbone thinks on his answer.
Ellis kills the engine near the mouth of Shelly's Oxbow. Tom
jumps down into the knee deep river and wades onto shore. He
turns back to the boys.
Ya'll need to watch yourselves.
Don't go gettin' into something you
don't have any business in. Mud's
into something you don't want any
part of. I suggest you forget
Ellis and Neckbone don't respond. Tom, with a final
admonishing look, disappears into the woods.
Ellis cranks the motor and points the boat up river.
58 EXT. RIVER - MOVING - MOMENTS LATER 58
Edges of the notebook paper flap in the wind. Neckbone reads
Mud's letter to Juniper.
Ellis reaches the bank where they stash their boat. He shuts
off the motor and let's them drift. Neckbone folds the
letter back up and turns to face Ellis.
What do you think?
He loves her. You can tell that
much. You gonna take it to her?
I told him I would.
Neckbone thinks about this seriously, shakes his head.
I don't know. Could be a lot of
You still got that trailer you made
for your bike?
59 EXT. DEWITT STREET - LATE AFTERNOON 59
Neckbone rides with Ellis on the back of his dirt bike.
Cars and Trucks HONK and zip by them. Their speed is topped
out at about 15 miles per hour. Mostly a result of the small
3X4 metal trailer they are towing behind the bike.
One of Senior's white fish coolers sits in the trailer.
60 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/PARKING LOT - LATE AFTERNOON 60
Parked in the far corner of the lot, Ellis sits on top of the
white cooler eyeing the Executive Inn. Neckbone straddles
the dirt bike. A handful of cars are parked at the motel; an
old Honda, a pick-up, and a BLACK LINCOLN.
I say we start at the top, work our
They each grab an end of the cooler and carry it across the
lot toward a flight of stairs.
61 ON THE SECOND FLOOR, 61
The boys set the cooler down in front of the first room on
the corner. Ellis checks over his shoulder, nothing strange.
Ellis knocks. They wait. No answer.
They pick the cooler up and walk to the next door. Knock.
After a moment, a BLACK MAN in his late sixties opens the
door wearing boxers and an undershirt.
What you want?
We're sellin' fish. You wanna buy
He looks at the two boys like they are insane.
BLACK MAN (CONT'D)
I don't want no damn fish.
He slams the door.
They drag the cooler to the next door. As Ellis holds up his
fist to knock, they hear a woman shouting a few doors down.
STOP IT! STOP!
Ellis heads for the room. Neckbone drags the cooler after
him. Ellis reaches the motel room door, which has been left
ajar. He places his hand on it and lets it fall open.
62 INT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 62
KEEP LYIN'! KEEP LYIN' AND I'LL
CRACK YOUR NOSE OPEN!
The door opens to CARVER(47), a tall, slender man in a dark
Western cut suit, standing over Juniper. She's crumpled up
in a ball at the end of the bed. Carver swats open-handed at
her head. Grabs the top of her hair.
You hear me bitch? Tell me another
Ellis rushes Carver with his shoulder as if he were breaking
down a door. Carver is knocked off balance. He trips over
the edge of the bed and crashes into the motel room wall.
Carver, slightly stunned, gets to his feet and in two broad
steps lands a man-sized punch across Ellis' face. It's hard.
Ellis melts. He grabs the boy up by the scruff of his shirt.
Who are you!? Who the hell are
you!? Did he send you!?
Carver removes a piece of paper from his pocket. It's a
photo copied picture of Mud, different than the State
Trooper's. Carver crams the photo in the boy's face.
You know this man!? Look at him!
Do you know him!?
Blood trickles from a cut under Ellis' eye. He stutters
under the shaking force of Carver's hands.
FISH!!! IT'S FISH!!!
Neckbone is yelling at the top of his lungs, almost in a
girl's pitch. Carver turns to him. The cooler is open
behind them and Neckbone holds up two Ziplock bags of fish.
We're just selling fish!
Carver sizes things up. It takes a moment, but he settles.
He snorts out a laugh and drops Ellis on the ground.
Carver turns his attention back to Juniper, who is huddled up
in the corner of the motel. Carver walks over to her.
Opening a good-sized knife, he gets down in her face and
holds the blade uncomfortably close to her cheek.
I know you know where he is. And I
swear to God I'll cut through every
one a you to find him.
She flinches. Standing, Carver folds up his knife.
We know you came here for him, and
we know he's too stupid to leave
you behind. So when he pops his
head out of whatever shithole he's
staying in, I'll be there. You
tell him that.
Carver turns, stepping over Ellis on his way out.
And you need to mind your business
Neckbone moves from the doorway to let him pass. Carver is
gone. Neckbone shuts the door and fastens the security
latch. He kneels down to check on his friend.
You all right?
He popped your eye.
Ellis holds the back of his hand up to his eye which has
begun to swell. The cut trickles blood over his cheekbone.
Juniper moves to the sink. Ellis sits up, staring at her
She opens an ice bucket and wraps a handful of cubes in a
towel. She turns and walks over to them, her eyes cast down.
She kneels in front of Ellis, making eye contact for the
first time. She touches his chin, gently pivoting it to see
the wound. Her eyes are glassy.
He stares back at her. He can't take his eyes off her. She
holds the iced towel to his cheek. He doesn't even flinch.
I'm so sorry.
Tears form and run down her cheeks.
She takes his hand and places it against the towel. She gets
to her feet and pulls a pocket book from a bag in the corner.
How much is your fish? I'll buy
the cooler full.
Ellis motions Neckbone to the cooler. Neckbone goes over and
crams his hand into the ice. He removes a Ziplock bag
containing the note that Mud sent.
Neckbone hands it to Ellis. Taking the note, he sets his ice
down and walks over to Juniper.
Mud sent us to give this to you.
Juniper is stunned. She looks at the bag, then at the boys.
You've met Mud?
Ellis nods. Neckbone speaks up from the back.
Yeah we met him.
Juniper takes the bag. She removes the letter and takes a
seat on the edge of the bed to read it.
Ellis watches her eyes move along the paper. She smiles,
which makes Ellis smile. After a moment, she folds it up.
He tells me to hold tight.
Yeah, we read it.
Juniper raises her eyebrows at Neckbone.
Well do you know how long `hold
I think it's a couple days. He
wants to get a boat for ya'll.
Juniper shakes her head and goes to the sink. She pulls a
lighter from her jeans pocket and torches Mud's note.
Tell him I'll wait.
Running water over the ashes, she turns back to them.
But I don't want ya'll involved.
Tell him what I said and make that
it. I don't want you gettin' in
What do you call that?
She motions to his swelling eye. Ellis shrugs.
We'll be all right. Keep your door
locked. We'll be in touch.
Ellis heads to the door as Neckbone gathers up the cooler.
Ellis turns back.
What's your name?
I'm Ellis. That's Neckbone.
Juniper walks up to Ellis and puts her hands on his
shoulders. She has to bend slightly to do it, but she kisses
him just above his swollen eye.
Thank you Ellis.
Ellis stares at her, infatuated.
We gotta go.
Ellis turns and grabs one end of the cooler. Neckbone slaps
back the security latch and opens the door with his free
hand. They walk out.
63 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DUSK 63
Ellis, his foot on the door, looks back at Juniper.
Lock the door.
She smiles. The door slams shut. The room number, 212,
stares Ellis in the face. He takes a deep breath.
Let's go hard on.
He and Ellis wrangle the cooler down the steps. The sun set
while they were inside. A blue hue hangs over everything.
64 I/E. CARVER'S LINCOLN/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 64
Carver takes a drag off a cigarette from behind the steering
wheel of his black Lincoln town car, conscious to blow any
smoke out the open driver's window.
His car, wedged between two others in the Piggly Wiggly
parking lot, is pointed toward the Executive Inn. He watches
as Ellis and Neckbone load the cooler onto Neckbone's bike.
65 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 65
Ellis enters his houseboat. It's quiet.
He sees a note on the counter next to a can of soup. It
reads, "I've gone to a movie. Warm up some soup for dinner.
Love, Mom". Ellis picks up the can, not thrilled.
He goes to the fridge and grabs a sack of peas from the
freezer. Holding the peas against his eye he takes a seat at
the counter and flips through a phone book.
He finds what he needs and dials a corded phone. He waits.
Hello? Is May Pearl there?...This
is Ellis...Hey, it's Ellis. Hey...
What?...In the phone book... from
his car commercials...I think
they're all right...Tomorrow? Yeah,
I can meet you... Okay. Bye.
Ellis hangs up the phone. With the peas pressed firmly
against his face, he smirks.
66 SERIES OF IMAGES: 66
-Neckbone's sneaker busts through a rotten plank of wood.
-Inside a decrepit wooden shack, Ellis gives Neckbone a look
like he's a dumbass as they proceed to take the shack apart
board by board. Ellis now has a full-on BLACK EYE.
A66 -Neckbone stands lookout under the carport section of Ellis' A66
houseboat. The coast clear, he gives Ellis a nod. Ellis
pops open a metal locker and removes a small chainsaw and
container of gas. He loads these into an empty fish cooler.
B66 -Tom, sitting atop his houseboat with his pellet gun, watchesB66
as the two boys sneak the tools away. He's displeased.
C66 -At Neckbone's mobile home park, Ellis heaves loops of thick C66
rope onto their mini dirt bike trailer. Neckbone stands
nearby laughing with the rope's OWNER, a lanky guy with brown
teeth and a Tasmanian Devil tattoo on his neck.
AC66 -Ellis hoists Neckbone up by the foot allowing him to AC66
unscrew a road sign.
D66 -A mop soaked in black tar slops across the flat roof of the D66
furniture store in downtown Dewitt. Neckbone and Ellis stand
in the store's parking lot yelling up to the ROOFERS.
-They get one's attention, and Neckbone points to a dried
pile of leftover tar that has been dumped at the back of the
building. The ROOFER swats a hand at the boys. They proceed
to load the dried hunk onto the small trailer.
E66 -From a distance, Neckbone and Ellis stand on a sailboat in E66
the middle of a fenced-in marine junkyard. Surrounded by old
boat parts, the boys begin shuttling several large metal
pulleys off the sailboat.
67 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 67
Mud smiles, showing his missing tooth, as he looks over the
load of items the boys have stacked in their boat. Neckbone
tosses a loop of rope to him.
We've got more, but no motor.
This'll work for now. You get her
Ellis turns and Mud sees his black eye for the first time.
Where'd you get that from?
We came up on Juniper's room. A
guy was in there beatin' up on her.
Mud's face turns dark.
Ellis rushed him. Got smacked for
What'd he look like?
I don't know. Tall. Looked like a
Mud slings the rope to the ground and kicks it. His face is
flushed. It's the first time the boys have seen him angry.
The boys back up. Mud takes a deep breath, tries to cool
down. It takes a moment, then something occurs to him. He
eyes Ellis with a look of genuine gratitude.
Thanks for lookin' after her.
Ellis nods. Mud picks up the rope.
His name's Carver. Brother of the
man I shot. If he's here, then
more are comin'.
Mud gathers the supplies and heads to the treeline. The
boys, with their hands full, follow him.
Bounty hunters. Carver's rotten,
but his daddy's the one to be
scared of. He'll spend all the
money he has to see me dead. If it
was up to me I'd put the whole
family down same as the other. Not
a decent man between `em.
Mud stops and turns to lay a serious look on them.
Ya'll listen to me now. If you see
that old man, don't get near him.
He's the triple six real deal
scratch you hear me?
Mud waits for nods from them both.
68 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER/ISLAND - CONTINUOUS 68
Galen drifts in his own boat out on the Mississippi River.
He stares at something in the distance.
A68 FROM ACROSS THE RIVER, A68
He sees Neckbone and Ellis on the island walking with Mud.
Galen, a concerned look on his face, keeps one hand on his
motor and the other on a bulging net of mussel shells.
His HELPER, a salty looking man in his fifties, sits at the
front of the boat sipping Budweiser from the can.
What you waitin' for?
After a moment, Galen cranks the motor and speeds away.
69 EXT. BOAT IN TREE - DAY - LATER 69
Mud stands with Ellis and Neckbone on the deck of the boat.
He holds a pulley in one hand and a length of rope in the
other. He stares up into the trees.
Ellis, can you climb up that trunk
and get these hung?
Take a foot of line and tie `em off
with a bowline knot. You know it?
I'm not stupid.
Ellis takes the pulley and scales the trunk without
hesitation. Mud tosses his pocket knife to Neckbone.
Neck, start cuttin' line. Three
fifteen foot sections. Count a
foot long as your arm.
Mud begins threading the pulleys with rope. As Neckbone cuts
rope, he sees the pistol stuck in the back of Mud's pants.
What's so special `bout that shirt
you'd lose your pistol for it?
It's got a wolf's eye sewn in the
sleeve. More protection than a
bullet ever gave. Tom swears by
He said he wasn't your daddy.
Tom's the closest thing I ever knew
to a father.
I never met my parents.
It's hard not knowin' the ones you
My uncle Galen tells me things
about `em. He's the one that takes
care of me.
Tom did that for me.
Ellis drops down to the deck and grabs another pulley.
What'd you mean when you called Tom
Tom's had lives you'd never know
about. Grew up up North. Went to
Yale. For a long time he was a
paid killer for the C.I.A. Lived
in Cuba in `63. He's probably
killed more people than you've met.
Hand me that line.
Neckbone tosses him an end of rope, looks to Ellis. Ellis
gives a shrug before heading back up the trunk.
70 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY - LATER 70
Mud hangs off the tree fifteen feet up by a piece of rope
tied around his waist. A series of ropes and pulleys
crisscross from the boat to the trees.
Neckbone and Ellis stand on the ground staring up at him.
Mud holds a chainsaw and seems to be hesitating.
Well if you're gonna do it do it!
Mud takes a deep breath and yanks the cord. Angled on one of
the main branches holding up the boat, Mud begins cutting.
Ellis and Neckbone step further and further back as they
watch the chainsaw work through the thick limb.
Suddenly, the chainsaw stops. A deep CRACKING sound. The
huge branch SNAPS, tumbling off lower limbs before crashing
to the ground. Mud holds onto the trunk for dear life.
The branch now rests on the ground, SILENCE. The ropes and
pulleys hang taught, squeaking from the weight of the boat.
Mud slowly lifts his head up. He smiles at what he sees.
The rigging has held.
Neckbone and Ellis watch as Mud scampers around the trunk to
the next branch. The chainsaw cranks back on.
This shit is crazy.
71 I/E. MARY LEE'S CAR/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - LATE 71
Ellis looks out the car window at HIGH SCHOOL KIDS that have
gathered in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. His hair is
slicked to one side, and he's wearing a collared shirt.
You look nice.
What time are you gonna be home?
Ellis shrugs. She looks at him as the car radio rambles.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
No later than eleven?
You make up your mind?
About moving in town?
About leavin' dad.
Mary Lee thinks about how to answer, shuts off the radio.
You can't make other people change
Ellis. If I'm unhappy then I'll
have to be the one to change
Ellis chews on the inside of his cheek and watches her avoid
eye contact. He shoulders his way out of the car.
Mary Lee takes a moment before driving off.
As Mary Lee pulls away, Ellis takes in the scene.
72 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - LATE AFTERNOON - ELLIS POV 72
He looks up at Juniper's motel room and sees her leaning on
the railing smoking a cigarette. She doesn't see him.
73 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - LATE AFTERNOON - CONTINUOUS 73
He pauses, noticing a MAN to his left who ALSO stares up at
Juniper. The man, early thirties with a thick mustache, is
JAMES. He leans against the grill of a black Lincoln.
Carver appears from inside the Piggly Wiggly. He holds a cup
of coffee and is closely trailed by a fat little man,
NELSON(56). They're all dressed in a similar fashion, a
cross between rural farmers and rodeo stars.
As Carver approaches the Lincoln, he scolds James for leaning
on the grill. Carver rubs the hood with his coat sleeve and
gives orders to the men.
MAY PEARL (O.S.)
Ellis turns to see May Pearl hopping down from a Ford Bronco.
She leans on the door and waves Ellis into the back.
MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
Ellis takes another look at Carver and his men before running
over to the Bronco.
74 EXT. FIELD/BONFIRE - NIGHT 74
A bonfire rages in the middle of an open field. A FEW DOZEN
KIDS mingle between vehicles and the fire. Drinking,
yelling, music blasting from car speakers.
Ellis stands by himself next to the blaze with his hands in
his pockets. May Pearl has vanished.
Pryor, the skinny kid Ellis punched to get this date, wanders
past. He makes eye contact. Ellis stares him down. Pryor
glares back but then just skulks over to another group.
MAY PEARL (O.S.)
A Styrofoam Sonic Cup is thrust into Ellis' hand. He turns
to find May Pearl standing next to him.
MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
She leads Ellis behind one of the trucks parked nearby. May
Pearl climbs onto the tailgate, a red glow across her face.
No one else is around. Ellis hesitates.
MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
You wanna sit down?
Ellis takes a seat next to her. She looks at him, smiling,
and gestures to his black eye.
MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
You must really like to fight?
Ellis takes a sip from the Sonic cup. His face puckers.
But you're not scared if you have
I guess. You got a lot of friends.
They're all right. I don't know
all of `em.
I bet you're pretty popular.
Why do you say that?
I don't know. `Cause you're nice
How do you know that?
You're nice to me.
But I like you.
Ellis digs into his jeans pocket.
I got this for you.
He removes a bracelet made from the pearls he collected off
Galen's porch. May Pearl takes it, begins putting it on.
Neckbone's uncle caught the pearls.
I thought with your name and
She leans over, hugging him with a kiss on the cheek. She
You wanna be my girlfriend?
She smiles, then kisses him.
75 EXT. ELLIS' AND TOM'S HOUSEBOATS - MORNING 75
Morning fog sits on top of the water around Ellis' houseboat.
Ellis steps outside and makes his way to the ice machine. A
loud WHISTLE comes from across the oxbow. Ellis walks to the
edge of the garage.
A75 He sees Tom Blankenship seated on the roof of his houseboat. A75
He motions Ellis over.
Ellis watches him, unsure of what to do. Another WHISTLE.
Tom motions to him again. Ellis looks back at the house. No
sign of his parents. He shoots a glance back at Tom.
76 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - MOMENTS LATER 76
Ellis bumps his father's boat against the side of Tom's
houseboat. He steps up onto the deck and ties off.
Tom, down from the roof, stands by his front door.
You want some coffee?
Tom disappears inside.
I don't drink coffee.
Ellis waits for a moment, but realizes this is Tom's way of
inviting him inside. He enters.
77 INT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 77
This houseboat, although similar in size, is different than
Ellis'. It's an actual wood shack that has been constructed
atop a barge.
Ellis looks at photos, books and memorabilia that cram the
walls and shelves. It feels homey.
Tom, his back to the boy, stands in the kitchen area pouring
a cup of coffee.
You been seein' Mud?
A collection of framed photos on a desk catches Ellis'
attention. A young Tom with a pretty dark skinned girl.
They seem happy. Another photo, late 60's, of Tom standing
alone in a suit. He holds a LONG SUITCASE.
Tom enters holding two cups of coffee.
You don't have to lie to me boy.
He hands Ellis a cup of coffee with a cartoon image of a dog
on it. It reads, "I'm a real bitch in the morning!" Tom
sits in a LazyBoy that he gently rocks in.
I've seen you runnin' around.
Takin' things. He all right?
He get that boat down?
Ellis nods. There is an awkward moment.
He called you an assassin.
Tom snorts out a laugh, sips his coffee.
Is it true?
How long have you known Mud?
Well that's long enough to know
he's full of shit.
So it's not true.
I was a sharpshooter in the army.
In Mud's world, that makes me an
assassin. Not exactly true, right?
Yeah I guess.
Tom notices the boy's disappointment.
You think he's a bad ass don't you?
I don't know.
You know why he's stuck out on that
He shot somebody.
He tell you why he shot that man?
Because he hurt Juniper.
Right. The real reason Mud's in
the trouble he's got is because of
her. He's been in love with that
girl since he was your age. They
used to run all around here and it
was the same back then. He'd
follow that girl wherever she led
him. Problem is she don't care
about nobody but herself. I've
told him as much. She'd bed down
with the meanest snake she could
find, then when things went bad
she'd go runnin' to Mud. Mud would
take her back, then go find
whatever unlucky sonofabitch last
put a hand on her and beat `em `til
they knew to never touch her again.
And this time I guess he thought a
beating wasn't good enough. Had to
shoot that fella. I don't know for
sure, but I'd put money on Juniper
knowin' he'd do it. And I have a
suspicion she might of even told
him to. Either way, those two are
set for failure. Only chance Mud
has is to cut her loose. Cause
I'll tell you what, Mud's no bad
ass. He's runnin' scared.
Ellis can't look Tom in the eye, he's offended by the old
man's remarks. Ellis sets the coffee cup on the desk.
I gotta go.
Ellis heads for the door, but stops short.
You're wrong about Juniper. They
love each other and they're gonna
make it. If you weren't a wore out
old man you'd know it was true.
Tom eyes the boy, taking a sip from his cup. He nods a
goodbye to Ellis who is already out the door.
78 EXT. ISLAND/BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY 78
Ellis stomps out of the trees and is struck by the new
position of the boat. It hangs three feet off the ground;
SUSPENDED in dry dock. A clear-cut path of trees leads off
toward the island's southern shore.
Beside the boat, remnants of a giant fire smolder. Ellis
surveys the MOUND OF ASH.
What you say Ellis?
Ellis turns to find Mud standing on the deck of the boat
holding a fistful of wires. He jumps down.
I got more stuff.
You find a motor?
(points to the ash)
I made a bonfire.
Mud enters the woods. Ellis follows.
Bonfire's an all purpose cure all
for bad luck. I don't know where
this boat's been or what kind of
person had it before me. For all I
know it could have some serious bad
business left on it. We got too
much ridin' on this thing to leave
to chance. Where's Neckbone?
Helpin' his uncle with a dive.
79 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - MOMENTS LATER 79
Mud and Ellis exit the treeline heading to Ellis' boat.
Tom called me over to his place
What he say?
He was runnin' down Juniper.
Ellis looks for a response, but Mud just jumps up into the
boat and starts throwing pieces of wood on shore.
I told him he was a wore out old
man. Told him he couldn't know how
much you loved Juniper.
You don't know his story.
I don't care.
You should. Tom loved a woman more
than most men could in two
lifetimes. They had a good life
Mud hops down and scoops a load of wood into his arms.
She was pregnant with a little boy,
but the birth got the better of
`em. They didn't make it. Tom's
been alone ever since. Lone wolf.
Mud has begun walking back to the treeline. Ellis stays.
I gotta go help my dad.
Mud turns back but doesn't stop moving.
Thanks for the wood Ellis.
Ellis watches him go, thinking on what he said.
80 EXT. UNDERWATER - RIVER - DAY 80
Fully suited in diving gear, Galen toils in the murky brown
water at the bottom of the river.
His gear consists of a typical wet-suit, wet-socks but no
gloves. His metal helmet is not typical. It's welded from
half a hot water heater that's been fitted with barbell
weights. A hose connected to the top runs to the surface.
Galen ties off a netted sack and yanks on its line.
81 EXT. RIVER - CONTINUOUS 81
A small air compressor chugs as Neckbone stands in the middle
of Galen's boat pulling in the heavy rope. At the end, the
net bulging with mussel shells appears.
He manages to roll the heavy load into the boat before moving
over to a crank handle that feeds another line.
After several cranks, Galen's steel helmet breaches the
surface. He places his hands on the edge of the boat as
Neckbone removes the barbell weights.
The weight removed, Neckbone takes off the helmet. Galen
pulls himself into the boat, out of breath.
This shit never gets easy.
That's a good haul.
I've had worse.
Galen reclines as Neckbone kills the air compressor and
begins organizing the gear. He watches his little nephew.
You doin' all right?
You don't need to tell me anything?
Tell you what?
I know I'm just your uncle, not
much of a parent. But you can tell
me things if you need to.
I can tell you this helmet smells
like my duck butter.
82 EXT. ELDERLY WOMAN'S HOUSE - DAY 82
Ellis holds a wrought iron door open with his backside as an
ELDERLY WOMAN takes the paper bag of fish from his hands.
Ellis walks back to the truck. Senior watches him, looking
at the black eye.
83 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/CATFISH PARLOUR - MOVING - DAY 83
Ellis rides up front with Senior. Windows down, no radio.
Where'd you get that black eye?
A kid in town. He got his too.
What you fightin' for?
`Bout a girl.
You got a girlfriend?
When'd that happen?
Senior pats his shirt pocket and finds a smoke. Lights it.
You seen your mother today?
You not talkin' to me?
I'm talkin'. I'm talkin' to both
of you. That's all ya'll want to
do is talk.
Well, that's your mother. Would
rather tongue lash a problem than
step up and handle it. You'll see
one day. Women are tough. They'll
set you up for things. You can't
trust love, Ellis. If you're not
careful, it'll run out on you. You
just gotta pick a woman and roll
the dice. Hope you don't wake up
in fifteen years hatin' each other.
Ellis keeps staring out the window as they pull into the
parking lot of the Catfish Parlour Restaurant.
84 EXT. THE CATFISH PARLOUR/THE PINES MOTEL - LATE AFTERNOON- 84
Senior climbs out of the truck and enters the restaurant.
Ellis pops open the tailgate and reaches for a cooler.
The Catfish Parlour is one business in a strip center row.
There is nothing else around save for farmland and a motel
across the road.
Ellis notices Carver's black LINCOLN parked in the motel lot.
He walks away from the truck to get a better look.
Ellis scans the FOUR OTHER VEHICLES in the lot. All Texas
plates. A maroon Cadillac sails past and turns into the
motel. Ellis recedes to the rear of his truck.
He watches as KING(76), a fireplug of a man, emerges from the
Cadillac. Cramped from a long drive, he stretches and eyes
the sign for the Pines Motel.
A motel room door opens and Carver walks out. He's smiling
and calls out to King. They hug as a green PICK-UP pulls up.
MILLER, a slick dressed man in black boots, climbs out.
Ellis! Let's go!
Ellis snaps around to find Senior leaning out the restaurant
door. Ellis yanks the cooler down and drags it inside. He
looks back over his shoulder for a final glance at the men.
AT THE MOTEL,
Daddy this is Miller. He's one of
How do you do? Appreciate your
We'll be in in a minute.
Miller nods and enters the motel room. King turns to Carver.
Catch me up.
They work in shifts. Two outside
her motel, the others either out
searching or sleepin' here. I met
with the county sheriff but he
wasn't much help. Said they'd
handle their own business, but I
got two of their people on payroll
and a person on the inside at the
Good. Doin' good. Who all's here?
All but two now. Nelson and James
are watchin' her place. I called
the rest in.
Okay. Let's meet the men.
Carver leads his father to the motel room.
85 INT. PINES MOTEL ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON - CONTINUOUS 85
Carver holds the door open as King steps inside. A door to
his left connects another room which is empty.
An episode of the Smurfs plays on the television. There's a
MAN on each of the queen beds. Another THREE playing cards
at a small table by the window. MILLER stands in the corner
smoking. Empty Budweiser cans litter the room.
King, unimpressed by the scene, looks at his son. Carver
quickly moves in front of the television and turns it off.
He stares down the men on the beds.
(to the others)
Ya'll pay attention.
The men get up from the beds and the others put down their
cards. Everyone slowly gathers into an audience.
This is my father, King. He runs
Carver recedes as King steps forward. He speaks like a high
school football coach.
Men. I wanna thank you for the
work you're doin'. It's important
work, and I want you to know what
it means to me personally. I'm
grateful for it. No man should
have to bury his son. It's not
natural, and it's a pain I hope
none of you ever have to endure.
King removes a photocopied picture of Mud from his pocket.
He unfolds it, stares at it, then raises it to the men.
This man did that to me. He took
my youngest boy. And now, you're
gonna help me get him.
King stares at the men, keeping the photo held high.
Now gather `round. Come on now, in
a circle. I want ya'll to join
They do it reluctantly.
Everybody take a knee.
They do. King joins them on his knee and grabs Carver and
another Man's hands.
Bow your heads. I need you to help
me pray for the death of the man
that killed my son.
They all bow their heads.
A85 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - MORNING A85
A tarp is thrown back from a rusting boat trailer.
Ellis and Neckbone stand by the trailer looking less than
thrilled. It's covered in junk and debris.
You touch her breast?
That's great man.
Ellis walks up and knocks a stack of bricks off the trailer.
We could take it apart. Bring it
out piece by piece.
It's welded. We'd just tear it up.
What if we float it out?
Neckbone walks to the trailer. Ellis follows.
B85 INT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS B85
The boys open the front door and are met by a BLINDING LIGHT.
They squint and shield their eyes.
The light shuts off as quickly as it came on. Galen stands
in front of them wearing his wet suit. The bar with the
flood lights attached sits across his shoulders.
The boys rub their eyeballs, seeing spots. Galen shuffles
over to the couch holding a marine battery connected to the
lights. He labors to take a seat.
What do you think?
That's real good Galen.
Gimme a minute.
Neckbone, still blinking, goes back to his room. Ellis
notices Galen staring at him. Galen pats the couch.
Come `ere Ellis.
Ellis takes a seat on the other end of the couch. Galen pats
the spot next to him. Ellis scoots over, uncomfortable.
You see that ceiling fan?
I found it in the river. Works
great. Best ceiling fan I've ever
owned. This river brings a lotta
trash down it. Some a that trash
is worth a lotta money, some of
it's not. You gotta know what's
worth keepin' and what's worth
lettin' go. You know the
I think so.
Neck looks up to you. Don't get my
nephew into anything you can't get
him out of.
Galen forces a stare with Ellis, who nods. Neckbone enters
as Galen begins to remove his light rig.
Help Me Rhonda's just about a guy
needing to get a piece to get over
a girl that put one over on him.
So you get your heart broke, don't
walk around with a shit look on
your face. Get back in there. Get
your tip wet. You hear me?
You know what I'm sayin'.
Ellis doesn't. Galen moves to an electric guitar leaning by
a small amp in the corner.
Ya'll wanna hang out? Alan's
comin' over. We're gonna pump it
We got stuff to do.
The boys exit as Galen turns on the amp.
C85 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS C85
Galen pumps it up inside as Neckbone and Ellis walk to the
boat trailer. Neckbone pulls a handful of long zip ties from
his back pocket.
What were ya'll talkin' about?
I don't know.
86 EXT. ISLAND NORTHERN SHORE - DAY 86
Mud's knife slices through a plastic zip tie.
King. That's what they call him.
A BOAT TRAILER rests atop FOUR, 55-GALLON BRIGHT YELLOW
BARRELS affixed with plastic zip ties. The make-shift raft
is half on shore with the back still floating in the water.
The boys watch as Mud walks around the trailer cutting off
the zip ties. The barrels kick out from underneath the
trailer as this happens.
He's their father. You didn't go
near him did you?
Good. That left-handed sonofabitch
is the devil himself. If he's
here, then it's time. We need to
get Juniper out here.
We still need a motor.
There's a motor in the scrap yard
I need one that runs.
Mud moves to the front of the boat trailer and begins
dragging it fully onto the bank. It's heavy.
I can get it runnin'. Tell him
It's true. He built his own dirt
All right then. Give it a shot.
I don't know. That motor's worth
somethin'. It's not like this
It's been there for months.
Nobody's even gonna know it's gone.
Ellis hesitates. He looks to Mud.
We do need a motor.
Ellis thinks on it as Mud takes a deep breath and grabs the
87 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - DAY 87
The supermarket is busy. Ellis stands at a pay phone out
front as Neckbone kicks a vending machine nearby.
Ellis looks at Juniper's motel. He scans the Piggly Wiggly
parking lot and spots Carver's black Lincoln. Ellis picks up
the phone and deposits some change. He dials.
I wanna talk to room 212.
88 I/E. JUNIPER'S MOTEL ROOM/PIGGLY WIGGLY - CONTINUOUS 88
Juniper watches TV (o.s) at the foot of the bed. The phone
rings. She snaps up, hits mute and grabs it.
INTERCUT WITH ELLIS,
Thank god. I've been goin' crazy
in this room. Is Mud okay?
Yeah. It's time to take you out to
Tomorrow. We'll come get you.
What's goin' on?
He's got a plan for ya'll to get
away. Be ready tomorrow at five.
Neckbone'll be waitin' at the back
of the motel with a dirt bike.
They're watching my room.
I'll take care of that. Just be
ready at five.
Wait. Just wait. I don't know
about alla this. I don't even know
what he thinks we're gonna do.
Where are we even gonna go? This
is Mud. This is what Mud does.
Ellis hears her crying through the phone.
It's okay. He's got the boat. We
helped him fix it up. It's a good
plan. Just be ready.
Why are you even doing this?
What do you mean?
Why are you helping us?
Cause ya'll love each other.
Juniper searches for a comment.
Ellis, looking out over the parking lot, sees May Pearl
getting out of a car with her MOTHER and SISTER.
I'll see you tomorrow.
Dial Tone. Juniper holds the phone, worried.
89 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 89
Ellis turns and watches May Pearl push a cart in the parking
lot with her family. Neckbone bangs at the Coke machine.
How'd it go?
90 I/E. CARVER'S LINCOLN/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - DAY 90
Carver sits behind the wheel of his Lincoln. The man with
the mustache, James, sits in the passenger seat next to him.
Carver notices Ellis and Neckbone standing in front of the
Piggly Wiggly. He climbs out.
AT THE VENDING MACHINES,
Gimme a quarter. This shit took
Ellis watches May Pearl entering the grocery store. He calls
out with a wave.
Without stopping, May Pearl, along with her Sister and
Mother, all turn. May Pearl sees him, but doesn't wave back.
She continues inside.
Ellis looks confused, then embarrassed. Neckbone notices.
It's all right man. She's with her
family. Come on. I wanna get that
motor before dark.
They head to the dirt bike.
Ellis turns to see Carver approaching.
You remember me don't you?
Ellis nods. Carver notes the healing bruise on Ellis' face.
I'm sure sorry about that. Ya'll
caught me at a real bad time.
Ellis climbs on the bike. Carver walks over to them.
Hold on now. One second. I don't
want ya'll thinkin' I'm a bad guy.
Ya'll were just trying to do a job,
and I got in your way.
Carver removes a roll of twenties and peels off two.
Let's just say I bought that whole
batch of fish ya'll were sellin'.
Would forty cover it?
That'd bout do it.
We don't want your money.
Carver steps in close to the boys.
I bet ya'll really get around this
town. Probably know every hole and
ditch. Have ya'll come across the
man whose picture I showed you?
Carver removes a flier with Mud's picture and holds it out.
You sure about that? Take a look
with your good eye.
What about that girl in the motel?
The pretty one. Ya'll talk to her
Carver smiles. He tucks the flier and the forty dollars into
There's a number on there. Ya'll
let me know if you do.
Neckbone cranks the engine and backs the bike up with his
feet. They pull away.
Moving, Ellis looks back to see Carver watching them.
91 EXT. CRAWFORD'S JUNKYARD - DUSK 91
Neckbone pulls back a loose section of chain-link fence
surrounding the marine junkyard. Ellis crouches through.
INSIDE THE JUNKYARD,
Ellis and Neckbone creep through piles of starboard and boat
parts. They stop at a party barge with only one pontoon. At
its rear hangs a big rusted motor, 200 horsepower.
Neckbone quickly disassembles its attachment. The motor pops
loose leaving the boys to strain against its heavy weight.
They ease it to the ground.
Jesus that's heavy.
The boys get on either side of the motor and begin half-
dragging it back to the fence line.
ACROSS THE YARD,
A LITTLE GIRL(10) dangles her feet off a loading platform and
bites at an ice cream sandwich. She watches Neckbone and
Ellis from a distance.
92 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 92
Ellis walks onto the houseboat as the sound of Neckbone's
bike fades in the trees. He stops, noticing a PAPER BAG
sitting on the water's edge of the boat. He goes over to it.
He opens the sack and takes a quick inventory. A loaf of
bread, potted meats, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a roll of
cash, and an Arkansas boat tag.
Ellis looks around, no one. He looks over to Tom's boat.
It's dark. Ellis scoops up the sack and heads inside.
93 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - LATE AFTERNOON 93
The digital wristwatch changes from "4:59" to "5:00".
Neckbone sits on his bike parked near the vending machines at
the Piggly Wiggly. Ellis, on the payphone, scans the parking
lot. No sign of Carver's Lincoln. No other Bounty Hunters.
Where are those bastards?
I don't know.
She's not answerin'.
What do you wanna do?
Take your bike around the side.
I'll check her room. We'll just
have to hope no one sees us.
Neckbone cranks the bike and speeds toward the motel. Ellis
looks to the motel, then the parking lot.
94 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - MOMENTS LATER 94
ON THE SECOND FLOOR,
Ellis cautiously heads up the stairs. He eyes the parking
lot at the Piggly Wiggly but still sees no sign of Carver's
He moves quickly toward Juniper's door. Checking over his
shoulder, he knocks. No answer. He knocks again. Nothing.
He peeks through the window. No lights. No movement.
95 BY THE DIRT BIKE, 95
Neckbone gets off his bike and slips to the corner of the
building. As he peeks his head out, Ellis nearly knocks him
over on his way downstairs. They both flinch.
Shit. Was she there?
Ellis notices the front office
96 INT. EXECUTIVE INN/FRONT OFFICE - CONTINUOUS 96
The MOTEL CLERK(29) doesn't look up from his issue of
Lowrider as Ellis and Neckbone enter.
Scuse me, sir?
We're lookin' for the girl in room
212. You seen her?
I've seen her.
You see her today.
Yeah, she came down askin' for
directions to the nearest bar. I
told her to head out to a place on
Ellis digests this. They turn to leave.
MOTEL CLERK (CONT'D)
Wait a second, are ya'll the little
bastards tryin' to sell fish to the
They're already out the door.
97 EXT. ROADSIDE BAR - DUSK 97
Ellis and Neckbone pull into the gravel lot in front of a
roadside bar. The cinder block building sits by itself just
off the highway. Cars and motorcycles fill the lot.
You think this is it?
It's gotta be.
98 INT. ROADSIDE BAR - CONTINUOUS 98
The small bar is loud and crowded. Shoulder to shoulder
PATRONS bump against one another as MUSIC blares.
Neckbone and Ellis press through the crowd searching for
Juniper. They are a good foot shorter than anyone else.
Ellis notices a man at the bar. It's Miller, the bounty
hunter from King's motel. He's staring at something across
the room. Ellis follows his line of sight.
The crowd weaves in front of him, but then he sees her.
Juniper leans against a pool table at the far end of the bar.
A GUY(32) whispers in her ear and kisses her neck. She
throws her head back, laughing. Ellis watches in disbelief.
Nearby, the BARTENDER(46) fills a customer's shot glass. The
two underage kids catch his attention.
Ellis' face is frozen, locked on Juniper. Neckbone places a
hand on his shoulder.
Juniper's eyes drift toward the boys. She makes eye contact
with Ellis, and her smile vanishes. The Guy keeps whispering
in her ear. Juniper straightens her back slightly.
Ellis can't take his eyes off her. Juniper stares back at
him, but doesn't make a move.
After a moment, Juniper's eyes fall to the floor. She turns
her head back to the Guy. The crowd fills back in and the
image is out of Ellis' reach.
What the hell are ya'll doin'?!
The Bartender swoops in, grabbing them both by the backs of
their necks and shoving them toward the door. Ellis strains
against the thick hand. He tries to get another look at
Juniper, but it's too crowded.
99 EXT. ROADSIDE BAR - DUSK - CONTINUOUS 99
The Bartender flings Ellis and Neckbone into the parking lot.
Neckbone slides on the loose gravel.
Ya'll stay outta here!
Ellis just stands staring at the front door. The Bartender
makes a swatting motion toward them.
I SAID GET OUTTA HERE!!!
Neckbone gathers his friend and leads him away.
Thanks a lot asshole!
Come on man.
They head over to Neckbone's dirt bike. He pulls out the key
and climbs on. Ellis hesitates.
I'll take you home.
We're gonna have to tell Mud.
Neckbone drops his head, nods reluctantly.
100 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - NIGHT 100
The boys struggle to pull the heavy motor out of their boat.
It hits the shoreline with a thud. They lean over it,
Just leave it. Mud'll have to help
What're you gonna tell him?
I'll just tell him the truth.
101 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - NIGHT 101
Mud stands at the back of the boat, which now rests on the
boat trailer near the water. His face is clean shaven and
his hair is wetted back. His shirt, still filthy, is tucked
into his pants.
He whistles and works by the light of a small fire nearby.
Ellis steps out from behind a tree. He's holding the grocery
sack that was left on his houseboat.
Mud, hearing the voice, quickly puts down his tools and turns
to the woods. He smooths his clothes down.
What you say there?!
Ellis appears out of the dark, followed by Neckbone. Mud's
eyes search the treeline for Juniper.
What you say Ellis?
Ellis can't look him in the eye.
We got that motor.
Is Juniper okay?
Where is she?
She didn't meet up with us.
What happened? Was it Carver?
It wasn't Carver.
Mud straightens up, prepares for the news.
What's goin' on Ellis?
She was supposed to meet us on the
side of the motel. She never
showed up. We went asking for her.
The motel clerk told us she went to
a bar out on 61.
We tracked her down. She was there
with another guy.
They were together.
Mud's face drops. He walks to the fire and shakes a cooking
pot resting in the coals. The pot bubbles with roof tar.
She probably thought Carver was on
She knew the plan Mud. She just
didn't show up.
What was she doin' with the other
Ellis hesitates, not wanting to say. Mud pushes.
What were they doin' Ellis?
They were playin' pool. Drinkin'.
He was close up on her. They were
laughin'. He kissed her on the
And that's how it is.
He takes the pot of roofing tar over to the boat and begins
pasting some of the newly replaced boards with a flat stick.
What do you want us to do?
Just go home Ellis.
Ellis looks at Neckbone, then sets the grocery sack on the
Tom left this for you.
They slowly retreat into the woods and disappear.
Mud turns back to the campfire and shoves the pot into the
ashes. His eyes, soft and red, reflect the flame.
102 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - NIGHT 102
Ellis and Neckbone motor away from the island in the flat
bottom boat. They look back at the shore.
You think it's all right to leave
I doubt it!
Neckbone sees Ellis' concern.
I'll sleep over at your house
tonight! We can check on him first
Ellis nods. As they head further up river, the island grows
smaller, silhouetted by the moonlight.
103 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - MORNING 103
Neckbone snores, sprawled out on top of a sleeping bag on the
floor. Ellis sits up in bed with something on his mind.
He gets up and steps gingerly over Neckbone to exit the room.
104 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - CONTINUOUS 104
The house is silent. Ellis slips into the kitchen and picks
up the phone receiver mounted on the cabinet.
He pulls the cord out to stand with his face in the corner.
He dials, waits, and speaks softly into the receiver.
Hello? Is May Pearl there...This
is Ellis...I called yesterday, you
give her my message?...My name is
Ellis. I'm her boyfriend...Oh,
she's asleep...I said she's asleep?
The front door flies open. Senior storms headlong toward
Ellis. He shouts.
Ellis turns as Senior yanks the phone by the cord. It snaps
out of Ellis' hand and smashes apart on the floor. Ellis
flinches at the sight of his father flying at him.
What the hell have you been doing?
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOIN'?!!
Senior grabs Ellis by the arms and shoves him against the den
wall. Mary Lee comes running from her room.
SENIOR! SENIOR DAMMIT!
She slaps at her husband's arms and back. He swats her away.
You tell her. You tell her what
you've been up to.
I don't know what you're sayin'.
Take your hands off him Senior!
Senior keeps Ellis pinned to the wall with his left hand. He
opens up and addresses Mary Lee with his right.
J.J. Crawford said a boat motor
went missin' from his stock yard.
Said his daughter saw this one and
his friend haulin' it off.
This makes Mary Lee pause.
Now you tell me right now, did you
steal that motor?
We didn't steal it.
Lie to me again.
We thought it was junk. We didn't
think it was worth anything.
A cool anger rushes over Senior's face. He releases Ellis
and takes a step back.
You tell me I raised a thief?
I'm not a thief.
You take property that's not yours.
Property that belongs to another
man. That junk is his livelihood.
I'm ashamed of you.
Ellis drops his head. His face flushed.
(to Mary Lee)
Shut your mouth. You think you can
take things and not have him see
it? Neither one of you has any
respect for a man's livelihood. A
life that puts clothes on your back
and food in your stomach.
Don't you blame this on me. One
doesn't have a thing to do with the
other and you know it.
Don't tell me what I know. If you
can steal a man's life out from
under him in front of your son and
think he won't take a lesson from
it than you're even dumber than you
Stop it dad.
Senior volleys a finger at Ellis.
She's raisin' you a snake like
herself, and you can curl up with
her `fore I give a damn. You just
remember this when you watch them
rip this house apart board by
board. You Hear Me!
Mary Lee slaps Senior hard. He turns to her, saying nothing.
You're a man who's never had the
strength to support his own life.
I never asked you for a thing, and
I've never took a thing from you
that I couldn't provide for on my
own. If they do tear my home apart
the only joy I'll have in my heart
is knowin' that they'll be tearing
you out of my life for good.
She wipes her eyes and turns her attention to Ellis.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
Ellis. You'll return that motor
from where you found it and you'll
apologize in person to the man you
took it from. I won't hear about
anything like this again.
Mary Lee walks to the front door. She collects her purse and
keys and exits quietly.
Senior and Ellis stand in silence, which feels even more
uncomfortable than the shouting. Ellis finally speaks.
I can't take that motor back. But
I'll pay him for it. I'll pay him
what he wants for it.
Senior, stoic, pivots his body away from the boy.
I don't care what you do Ellis.
Senior retreats to the bedroom. Ellis is left alone in the
He looks to his room. The door opens slightly and Neckbone
takes a step out. Neckbone doesn't say anything. He just
bites at his lip, sympathy for his friend.
105 EXT. ISLAND SHORE LANDING - DAY 105
Charred hunks of driftwood smolder in a ruined pile on the
sand. They constitute the remains of a large bonfire.
Neckbone and Ellis stare at the ash.
What the hell's all this?
It's a bonfire.
I guess he didn't care about bein'
Ellis kicks at one of the burned logs. He bends down and
finds the bottle of Jack Daniels, smashed.
He had something else on his mind.
Ellis leads Neckbone into the treeline.
106 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 106
Mud's yellow shirt hangs, partially ripped, from a tree
branch. Ellis pulls it off the limb.
Concerned, they head deeper into the woods, over the fallen
tree trunk that bridges the creek.
107 EXT. ISLAND WOODS AND SOUTHERN SHORE - DAY 107
The boys watch Mud through the trees at a distance. He's
crouched on the deck of the boat fiddling with wiring. Mud,
giving no sign he sees the boys, yells out to them.
What are ya'll hidin' for?
Mud drops the wiring and scales down to the bank. They
emerge from the woods. Ellis carries the yellow shirt.
We found your shirt.
Ellis tosses it to him. Mud tosses it back.
Keep it. I don't need it anymore.
Mud goes to the motor at the rear to tinker with more wires.
We saw what's left of your bonfire.
Somebody could've seen you.
You do some drinkin' last night?
I did a lot of drinkin' last night.
Mud stops and walks over to address the boys. His face is
pale and his manner is curt.
Neck I'm gonna need you here to get
the motor runnin'. Ellis I need
you to do something else for me.
Mud removes a folded note from his back pocket.
I need you to take this to Juniper.
Ellis takes the letter. Mud goes back to the boat motor. He
motions to Neckbone to join him.
You still takin' Juniper?
I had a dream last night. I saw
Juniper laying in a field with
another man. They were making
love. I walked out into the field.
Walked toward `em. I was so angry
the tips of my ears were burnin'.
That's how I knew I was gonna kill
this man. But when I got up close
enough, I saw that the man she was
with had tattoos on his back, just
like mine. I moved in closer and
the guy turns his head back toward
me. Hair for hair, dead truth, the
guy she was with was me.
Mud ducks back under the motor. Ellis looks at Neckbone,
I'll finish the boat, but I'd be
surprised if I live long enough to
sail on it. A vision of yourself
is a sure sign of death. Neck can
you grab me a socket wrench?
Neckbone and Ellis walk to the toolbox sitting nearby. They
crouch by it, speaking quietly.
You be all right?
Yeah. What about you?
He'll be okay.
Can I borrow your bike?
Neckbone fishes the key out of his pocket. Hesitates.
Don't tump it.
Ellis nods. Neckbone walks over to Mud with the toolbox.
Letter in hand, Ellis gives a final look toward Mud's labor
and walks back into the woods. On his way, he stops to hang
Mud's shirt on a tree branch.
108 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - DAY 108
Ellis rides in the flat bottom boat alone. He stares at the
letter in his hand.
109 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY - DAY 109
Ellis sits on the dirt bike. He scans the parking lot. No
black Lincoln. His eyes stop on a green pick-up. Miller,
Ellis looks around and finds a pay phone nearby. He gets off
the bike and walks toward it. Ellis removes the flier Carver
gave him. He dials a phone number copied at the bottom.
(into the phone)
Hello. I saw the guy you're
lookin' for...Yeah, he's crazy
lookin'. Saw him at the Wal-mart
outside of Gillet. He was buyin'
some beanie weenie...'bout five
Ellis hangs up the phone. He walks back over to the bike,
climbs on and waits.
After a moment, he watches as Miller's green pick-up pulls
out of the Piggly Wiggly parking lot and races away. Ellis
cranks the bike.
110 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 110
Ellis, at a slight crouch, keeps his eyes on the Piggly
Wiggly parking lot. The green pick-up is nowhere in sight.
At Juniper's door, he knocks twice, softly. The door swings
opens. Juniper stands there, holding a lit cigarette.
I was wonderin' when I'd see you.
Ellis checks over his shoulder and walks inside
111 INT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 111
The bed is unmade and the room is a bit of a mess. Ellis
keeps his head down. Juniper closes the door and takes a
seat on the edge of the bed. She grabs the remote control
and mutes the television.
I'm sorry about last night. I
didn't plan on...
Before she can finish Ellis has fished the letter out of his
pocket and holds it out to her.
I'm supposed to give this to you.
Juniper takes the letter.
Ellis goes to the door. He pulls the bedroom curtain back
slightly to check the parking lot. The coast is clear.
Did you read it?
No. I gotta go.
He turns to her.
All you had to do was be there.
Then why'd you even come here?
I came here to leave with him. I
really did. But now...now I guess
I just came to say goodbye.
His eyes fall to the floor.
You don't know us Ellis. We've
been headin' this way for a long
I know he'd do anything for you.
She puts her cigarette out in a Coke can on the floor.
You really believe that?
Ellis nods. Juniper speaks to him gently, almost smiling.
It's a look of resignation.
Mud's a born liar. That's what
makes him so likable. He makes
people feel good about themselves.
He's a romantic. I don't think he
means to hurt people. But when
people get close to him, that's
Ellis watches her as she goes to the sink and wets the end of
a towel. She dabs her eyes at the mirror.
I do love him Ellis. But I can't
spend the rest of my life runnin'
with him. I may not know what kind
of life I want, but I know that's
Her back to him, Ellis watches as she unfolds the letter and
begins reading. He angles himself to see her face in the
mirror. He watches her eyes scanning the words. No emotion.
She finishes, folds the letter back up, then turns to him.
Tell him I understand.
What's it say?
It says it's over. Tell him I've
packed my things. Tell him I've
She takes a deep breath and smiles at him.
Ellis turns and walks out.
112 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 112
Ellis, dejected, no longer bothers to look over his shoulder.
He walks to the staircase but stops there. Feeling the need
to say something more, he goes back to her room.
He puts his knuckle flat on the door but hesitates. He leans
over and looks through the window.
The sliver in the curtain gives him a glimpse. Juniper is
curled up on the end of the bed. She is sobbing.
Ellis watches longer than he should before pulling his head
away from the window. Ellis heads back downstairs.
113 EXT. INTERSECTION/SONIC DRIVE-IN - DAY 113
Ellis, riding the dirtbike, looks to his left into the Sonic
Drive-In parking lot. The high school kids have gathered
He notices a rust colored Ford coup. The driver, an older
kid named KYLE(18), sits beside May Pearl laughing.
Ellis steers into traffic and crosses the street. He pulls
onto a patch of grass at the edge of the Sonic parking lot.
In one motion, Ellis tumps the bike on its side and makes a b-
line for the coup.
INSIDE THE CAR,
Kyle's hand is on May Pearl's knee.
So what'd she say?
She said she didn't like him that
much. I told her I thought he was
Ellis appears with his elbows in the driver's side window.
He sticks his head so far in the door that Kyle has to lean
back in his seat to make room. May Pearl is surprised. Kyle
snorts out a laugh.
You get my phone calls?
I've been callin' you.
(motions with his head)
Who's this guy?
Get your head outta my car kid.
Ellis takes his right elbow and quickly knocks Kyle in the
mouth. It splits his upper lip. Kyle grabs his face.
I called you twice yesterday. Your
sister didn't tell you?
Kyle slings the door open knocking Ellis to the pavement.
From the ground, Ellis can see that Kyle is big and
considerably tougher than the skinny kid he punched before.
Kyle's friends from other cars take notice and begin to
converge on them.
Ellis makes a move for Kyle's legs but is kicked back to the
pavement. Kyle straddles him on the ground and punches him.
Another punch to Ellis' face. May Pearl is out of the car
Kyle! Stop it Kyle!
May Pearl pulls Kyle by the collar. By his own will, he
raises off of Ellis, keeping an eye on him.
A streak of blood stretches from Ellis' nose to his ear. He
gets to his feet, dazed.
Ellis wipes at his nose and sees May Pearl shove Kyle. Kyle
smiles and turns to his friends, who laugh. The CROWD that
has collected consists of older high school guys and girls.
Ellis steps toward May Pearl and is met with a shove too.
MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
What the hell are you doin' here
You can't just run up and punch
people I'm with!
I'm sorry, I just wanted to know
why you hadn't called me back.
Why would I call you back Ellis?
Because you're my girlfriend.
The crowd is watching.
I'm not your girlfriend! We went
on one date. One!
That doesn't matter!
But what Ellis?! What did you
I love you.
Don't. Wait. We can make this
work. We can figure it out. I
Ellis is losing it. His eyes are red. He looks at the crowd
of kids. There are smiles and some snickering. May Pearl is
speechless. She just stares at him.
Ellis turns and walks back to the dirt bike.
May Pearl's girlfriends gather around her. She shakes her
Ellis lifts the bike off the ground. He looks back at May
Pearl who appears to be shrugging off the whole affair in
front of her friends. Ellis speeds off.
114 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT/RIVERBANK - DAY 114
A fire snaps and pops on the riverbank next to Ellis'
Ellis drags a piece of particle board from a trash pile
nearby. He drops the board onto the fire and stands back to
watch the blaze. Neckbone's bike leans on a tree behind him.
Senior's truck rattles to a stop in the gravel just down the
bank. He jumps out of the cab exasperated by the fire his
son has started by their home.
What the hell are you doin'?!
Ellis says nothing. He doesn't move. Senior, continuing to
yell, runs and drags a hose up from the houseboat.
Ellis dammit! What the hell's
wrong with you?!
The fire hisses as Senior turns the hose on it.
Ellis? Look at me.
Ellis finally looks up at his father. A phone RINGS from
inside the houseboat. Senior holds the hose in front of him.
Take it. Put this damn thing out.
Ellis takes the hose as Senior stomps on board to catch the
phone. Ellis drops the hose.
Senior's voice, speaking into the telephone, faintly carries
outside. He's yelling. Ellis turns his head to listen.
SENIOR (O.S.) (CONT'D)
I don't give a shit! Fine! I
don't care what you do! I'm done
Ellis moves around the fire so he can see the houseboat
through the flames. He hears the phone SLAM down.
Senior appears at the back door. He stares at Ellis through
the fire. Ellis moves to the side but realizes Senior isn't
staring at him. He's staring at the fire.
Senior disappears back into the house. There is a commotion.
Ellis watches as Senior bursts out of the house holding an
armful of woman's clothes. Senior walks up to the bonfire
and begins tossing clothes on top piece by piece.
What are you doing?
Ellis watches as dresses and blouses begin to shrivel up in
Stop it! That's mom's stuff! STOP
Ellis shoves at Senior. He easily counters the boy with his
arm and continues tossing the clothes into the fire. Ellis
is screaming and crying.
STOP IT! STOP!
Ellis tries yanking the remaining clothes out of his father's
hands but Senior shakes him off. Ellis stumbles. He watches
with tears as Senior tosses all of the clothes on.
Senior watches his wife's clothes burn. Ellis backs away to
the bike. He climbs on, cranks the engine and speeds off.
115 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 115
Ellis grounds the flat-bottom on shore and jumps out.
116 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 116
Ellis thrashes through the woods. His muddy feet stomp
across the fallen tree trunk that bridges the creek.
117 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - DAY 117
The boat rests on its trailer on the edge of the bank. Mud
stands on board looking down at the motor. Neckbone, tools
in hand, has his head buried in the motor.
Try it now.
Mud turns a switch. No result.
Ellis emerges from the treeline. Mud sees him and hops down
from the boat. He walks up to him.
Ellis punches Mud with as much force as he can muster. It's
barely enough to turn Mud's face, but it stuns him.
You're a liar. Makin' two kids run
around doin' work you're too scared
to do yourself. Makin' me tell her
it's over `cause you're too scared
to do it yourself.
Mud steps back and gives the boy his space. Neckbone has
made his way over and watches from behind Mud.
You said you loved her and you
lied. You gave up on her and she
gave up on you just like everybody
else. I trusted you. Bonfires and
crosses. Wolf's eye bullshit.
Mud tries to approach him but the boy explodes, shoving him.
EVERYTHING YOU'VE TOLD ME WAS A
LIE! You never cared about her.
You never cared about us. Not like
you said. Not enough to matter.
You used us.
Come on Ellis.
Mud holds a hand out to him. Ellis slaps it away.
You made me a thief!
Ellis walks back into the woods. Mud exhales and turns back
Let me talk to him.
118 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 118
Ellis walks through the woods. Neckbone follows.
Ellis! Ellis, stop for a second!
Neckbone watches as Ellis reaches the tree trunk that bridges
the creek. Ellis steps onto the log, but his muddy shoes
miss a step. He SLIPS.
Neckbone sees Ellis disappear down into the creek bed.
Neckbone rushes over. He cranes his neck out to peer over
the edge, a solid eight foot drop into the creek.
Ellis floats face up in the shallow water. He's unconscious.
A wound on his head from a nearby rock.
The nest of WATER MOCCASINS has been disturbed; SNAKES WRITHE
AROUND ELLIS' BODY.
Neckbone's eyes widen. He darts back toward the shore.
119 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - DAY 119
Mud stands at the rear of the boat massaging his jaw.
Mud hears the yelling. Neckbone explodes from the trees.
MUD! ELLIS FELL! HE FELL IN THE
Mud rushes forward.
HE FELL INTO SNAKES! THE SNAKES!
Mud looks around. His shirt hangs from a tree limb nearby.
He snags it and darts into the woods.
120 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 120
Mud streaks through the woods as he gets his other arm
through the shirt sleeve. He reaches the creek.
Without hesitating, Mud leaps down into the water, scoops
Ellis into his arms and scales up the opposite side of the
Mud sprints for the north side of the island. Neckbone
chases after them.
121 EXT. NORTHERN SHORE AND RIVER - DAY 121
Mud cradles Ellis in his arms as he rushes to the flat-bottom
boat. He sets Ellis gently inside. Neckbone on his heels.
Mud shoves the boat into the water and hops in. Neckbone
wades out and crawls up the side of the boat.
Get the motor started.
Neckbone cranks the motor. As they move up river, Mud
searches Ellis' body. He looks at his neck, his arms, he
pulls up his shirt.
IS HE OKAY?! Is he bit?!
Mud notices Ellis' jeans leg riding up. He pulls the jeans
back. A BITE in the middle of his calf. It's a bluish
bruise with two distinct red dots. The skin around the bite
has already begun to swell.
He rips the jeans up to the thigh. Mud tears a section of
cloth from the bottom of his own shirt and creates a
tourniquet just below Ellis' knee.
What time is it?
Mud pulls a black Sharpie out of his pocket. Neckbone
doesn't answer, just stares.
WHAT TIME IS IT?!
Neckbone checks his watch.
It's four eighteen!
Mud draws a line on Ellis' leg just above the swollen bite.
He writes, "418".
Yell out every 10 minutes!
Mud elevates Ellis' leg then gently cups his head. He dabs
the gash on Ellis' forehead.
Is he gonna be okay?!
We just need to get him to a
clinic! Is there still one in
It's the closest?!
I'm gonna need your bike!
Are you bit?!
Mud shakes his head.
He holds Ellis as they move steadily up river.
122 EXT. RIVERBANK - DAY 122
The flat bottom boat approaches the riverbank. Neckbone
points to the sandy ridge and yells up to Mud.
My bike should be just over that
Mud looks at Ellis' leg. The swelling has crept up his
thigh. Black lines with numbers mark its progress: "428,
438, 448". Ellis' face has taken on a blue tint.
The boat hasn't reached the shore, but Mud takes Ellis in his
arms and jumps into the water. He wades onto the bank.
123 AT THE BIKE, 123
Mud straddles it, turning Ellis' body so they are face to
face. He cranks the bike and speeds away.
Neckbone makes it to the top of the ridge in time to see Mud
disappear into the trees.
124 EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - DAY 124
Mud speeds the dirt bike down the two-lane highway. He's far
too big for the bike and it's even trickier balancing Ellis.
Coming up on a slow moving pick-up overloaded with junk, Mud
veers into the opposing lane.
Mud darts back to his lane in time to miss a semi.
125 EXT. CLINIC - DAY 125
A MALE NURSE(36) wheels an ELDERLY MAN through the sliding
double front doors of a small clinic.
Mud appears around the corner. The bike speeding toward the
In a fluid motion, Mud takes Ellis in his arms and lifts his
leg over the bike. The bike tilts and slides across the
pavement, smacking solidly into the curb.
Mud has managed to stay on his feet with the boy in his arms
and rushes through the automatic front doors.
126 INT. CLINIC - CONTINUOUS 126
The reception area has a DOZEN PATIENTS sitting in it. A
check-in desk to the left. Mud holds Ellis out in his arms.
I NEED HELP HERE!
A FEMALE NURSE rushes out of the check-in area.
Just stay calm. What's going on?
He's been snake bit.
ANOTHER NURSE rushes off calling for a doctor. The room
becomes more frenzied. Patients talking. Nurses shouting.
He's snake bit. A cotton mouth.
On his calf. Just under an hour.
As quickly as Mud gets this out, a GROUP of NURSES rush out
of a door at the end of the room pushing a gurney.
They take Ellis from Mud's arm, place him on the gurney, and
speed him into the back of the clinic.
The commotion gone, the reception area feels oddly still.
Mud takes a deep breath.
He looks to his right. Patients stare at him. He's beyond
disheveled. He's crazy looking.
Mud turns to his left. The Male Nurse stares at him. For
the first time, Mud realizes he's out in the open.
Mud slowly backs up.
MALE NURSE (CONT'D)
Sir? We're gonna need some
Mud backs out of the automatic doors. The entire room stares
127 EXT. CLINIC - CONTINUOUS 127
Mud is outside. The glass doors close. He nervously checks
over his shoulders. He spots a bank of trees just down from
the clinic. He heads for them.
The front doors slide open and the Male Nurse walks out.
Mud hops into the bank of trees and disappears.
128 INT. CLINIC - CONTINUOUS 128
The Patients in the reception area settle back into their
seats and discuss the commotion.
The Male Nurse enters and walks behind the check-in window.
IN THE WINDOW,
The Male Nurse fingers through a pile of papers.
He removes one of the fliers that Carver and his men have
been showing. The Nurse studies the photo, looking back at
the front doors.
He picks up the phone and dials the number at the bottom.
129 INT. PINES MOTEL - CONTINUOUS 129
In the adjoining room, the phone rings. King steps through
the doorway, takes a seat on the bed, and answers.
Hello...Yes...Yessir we are...Uh
King takes a pen from his shirt pocket and scribbles on a pad
on the nightstand.
Now where'd you say you
Okay...But you say he left the
boy?...And your name sir?
130 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - EVENING 130
The sun has been down for awhile. Juniper leans on the
railing outside her room taking long drags from a cigarette.
She sees Miller's green pick-up parked below.
Suddenly the headlights pop on and the truck pulls away. She
watches, curious, as it speeds out of sight.
A train whistle blows in the distance but is overtaken by a
semi rumbling down the street. She watches the semi pass
revealing the DAY/NITE Gas Station's parking lot.
A130 MUD STANDS IN THE CORNER OF THE LOT. Half lit by a sodium A130
lamp, he stares up at her.
Juniper raises up. Even in the dim light she knows it's him.
She doesn't move.
Mud holds up a hand, waves. Juniper slowly waves back.
She tries to smile at him, but she's about to cry and it's
hard to muster.
Mud smiles. After a long moment, he turns his back and
disappears in the shadows at the side of the gas station.
Juniper watches after him.
131 EXT. BLACK BAYOU - NIGHT 131
The night sky is dark purple. An unnatural color.
Ellis is on his back. Eyes closed. His head jostles at the
SOUND of THUMPING. More THUMPING. It sounds like the hood
of a car denting in.
His eyes open. He stares up at an absurdly full moon. It's
so bright it totally silhouettes the tree branches overhead.
The THUMPING continues. Ellis puts his hands on the edge of
the flat-bottom boat he's floating in and pulls himself up.
He leans over the side to see what's causing the noise.
The water is jet black. The entire bayou pulsates. Ellis'
eyes grow wide as the THUMPING reveals itself.
THE BAYOU IS FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH SNAKES.
The moonlight illuminates their shiny black backs as they
twist and churn in what seems like one giant ball of snakes.
Ellis lies back in the boat bringing his arms close to his
chest. He flinches at each THUMP. His eyes squeeze shut.
132 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - NIGHT 132
His eyes open. Ellis bolts up in bed covered in a cold
sweat. Mary Lee places a palm on his chest.
It's okay. You're okay. Just set
Mary Lee guides Ellis back down on the pillow. Senior stands
with his arm on her shoulder. They look down at their son.
Where am I?
You're home. We got you home.
Ellis takes a second to get his bearings. His mother lifts a
glass of Sprite up to his mouth. He takes a sip.
You had us scared son.
Senior steps forward and kisses Ellis on the forehead.
Staying close to his face.
I'm so glad you're okay.
The doctors gave you some medicine.
You had a snake bite.
How'd I get to the doctor?
A man brought you in. No one knew
Ellis tries to sit up in bed, but his mother stops him.
MARY LEE (CONT'D)
It's okay. You just need to rest
up now. We can talk all about it
later. Do you need anything? Are
Senior gently pats her shoulders.
Come on. Let's let him rest.
Mary Lee touches Senior's hand on her shoulder. She stands.
I'll be back in to check on you but
just try and sleep if you can.
Senior leads Mary Lee to the door.
They turn back.
I love ya'll.
We love you too Ellis.
They exit the room. Ellis rests his head back on the pillow
and takes a deep breath.
133 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - NIGHT 133
Mud and Neckbone shove against the back of the boat trailer.
The wheels of the trailer rock at the edge of the bank's
incline. Sheets of metal roofing taken from the shack Ellis
and Neckbone dismantled line a runway into the water.
The wheels finally turn over. The trailer rolls down the
bank and splashes into the water. The boat shimmies.
Mud and Neckbone follow the trailer into knee deep water and
shove on the boat. A final push jettisons it into the river.
They step back as the boat drifts out. A rope tied to its
back becomes taught as it stretches from a tree on shore.
The sun does shine on a dog's ass
It ain't sunk yet.
Mud smiles. He holds out his hand, which Neckbone slaps.
I wish Ellis could see it.
Mud walks back on shore and collects his duffel bag.
I owe you your end of the deal.
Mud removes the pistol from the back of his jeans.
Neckbone's eyes light up. Mud hands it over and Neckbone
immediately notices a hole where the clip is missing.
Where the bullets?
The deal was for the gun, not the
Neckbone begrudgingly crams the pistol into the back of his
I got one last favor to ask you.
Neckbone sucks his teeth.
134 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 134
Water gently laps at the side of Ellis' houseboat. The bayou
From the darkness, Neckbone and Mud appear in the flat-bottom
boat. They paddle with their hands. Approaching in silence.
135 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - NIGHT 135
Ellis stares at the ceiling, unable to sleep. A TAP comes
from the window. Ellis sits up in bed. Mud pokes his head
in. He whispers.
Mud pulls his body through the window. It's tight but he
manages to make it look somewhat graceful. Mud takes a quick
survey of the dark room. Ellis begins to get out of bed.
No, don't get up.
Mud motions him back down and pulls the chair from the desk
over to the bed. They speak in hushed voices.
How'd you get here?
Neck brought me.
136 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 136
Neckbone sits in the flat-bottom tied off at the corner.
FROM THE TREELINE ON SHORE,
All EIGHT of the Bounty Hunters sit hunkered in the trees.
Carver squats next to a stump. He loads shotgun shells into
a 12 gauge pump and motions for the others to fan out along
137 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - CONTINUOUS 137
We got the boat in the water.
Just now. Smooth sailin' from here
Wish you coulda seen it.
Didn't feel right leavin' town
without sayin' goodbye.
There is an awkward moment.
I'm sorry `bout what I said.
No. No. You were right to be mad.
You were right about a lot of
things. I'm the one that's sorry.
I shoulda never gotten ya'll into
all this. I just didn't see any
other way around it. But I
couldn't leave without you knowin'
I never lied about being your
friend. I never lied about that.
I don't traffic in the truth too
often. But I did love her. I do
She loves you too. She said it.
This fact still strikes Mud. He nods.
I just made mistakes. We both did.
This is a hard life to keep up
with. You can't blame her for
gettin' tired of tryin'.
My dad says you can't count on
women lovin' you. He says you
can't trust it.
That's not true. Don't judge your
life on all of our mistakes.
You'll make plenty mistakes of your
own, no need takin' on everybody
else's. You're a good man Ellis.
If you find a girl half as good,
you'll be all right.
You're a good man too Mud.
No. I'm not. But maybe from here
on out I can be...
A SHOTGUN BLAST rips a fist-sized hole in the flimsy interior
wall. Mud, as if by reflex, yanks Ellis from the sheets and
shoves him under the bed.
Bits of sheetrock fall like snow flakes as more holes blast
through the bedroom wall. Mud flinches with each shot. He
covers his own head with one hand and the boy with the other.
Stay put! JUST STAY UNDER THERE!
The SOUND of shotgun shells being slipped into the chamber.
Mud gets to a crouch. Through the holes in the wall, Mud
makes out Nelson, the fat bounty hunter, reloading his gun.
138 IN THE DEN, 138
Nelson finishes reloading. The riddled bedroom wall hangs in
front of him. A door opens behind him. He swivels around.
Senior, in a robe, rushes from his bedroom with a pistol
leveled. He's met with a shotgun blast just above his head.
Pellets nick his face. Senior hits the ground and elbows his
way back inside his bedroom door.
Senior screams, his voice cracking.
139 IN ELLIS' ROOM, 139
SENIOR (O.S.) (CONT'D)
(muffled through the wall)
Don't move Ellis. Just stay put.
They just want me.
Through the holes Mud sees Nelson approaching Ellis' bedroom.
He runs for the window at the foot of the bed. Another
shotgun BLAST throws open the door as Mud leaps out.
140 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 140
Mud crashes headfirst onto the edge of the houseboat grasping
for anything to keep from sliding off. His hand catches a
metal deck cleat. It bends under his weight but holds.
Mud gets to his feet and is met by the tip of a rifle.
Miller, the man from the cafe, stands poised to fire.
Mud's hand slips to the back of his pants for his pistol.
NOTHING. He looks to the flat-bottom tied at the far edge of
the boat. No sign of Neckbone.
Miller's finger curls around the trigger.
SUDDENLY, a BULLET snicks through Miller's neck.
Mud flinches. Miller's hand comes up to his neck but can't
hold the blood running from it. He topples into the water.
141 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 141
Tom Blankenship sits in the folding chair on the roof of his
houseboat. He shucks an empty shell from a HIGH-POWERED
RIFLE complete with scope. The long suitcase from the photo
in Tom's house sits open at his feet. It has compartments
for the disassembled rifle.
Tom quickly raises to a new firing position. He squints an
eye, searching for another target.
A141 From this vantage point, Ellis' houseboat is clearly visible;
partially lit by the two flood lights. FOUR other BOUNTY
HUNTERS swarm the boat.
142 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - CONTINUOUS 142
Still under the bed, Ellis tries to hold his breath as
Nelson's boots step into the room. They pause for a moment,
before sluggishly struggling through the bedroom window.
143 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 143
Mud rushes to untie the flat-bottom.
A BULLET splinters the corner of the dock sending shards of
wood into Mud's hand. He sees TWO more GUNMEN skirting
toward him on the deck of the houseboat.
Mud takes cover against the wall and finds the muzzle of
Nelson's gun teetering out Ellis' window. He grabs the
muzzle and yanks the shotgun free.
Nelson, stuck in the window, looks up in time to take a rifle
butt in the face. He falls back into the room unconscious.
144 ON THE RIVERBANK, 144
James, the man with the mustache, holds Neckbone in a
headlock trying to cover his mouth. Carver stands with his
shotgun leveled and fires at Mud.
145 ON THE BOAT, 145
Mud ducks as Carver's shot takes out a chunk of siding. The
SOUND of boots rush up the side of the boat.
Mud, gun in hand, jumps back through Ellis' window.
146 ON THE RIVERBANK, 146
Carver turns to Neckbone.
Let him go.
James unhands the boy. Neckbone sprints into the woods.
They move toward the houseboat.
147 INT. ELLIS' ROOM/HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 147
Mud gets to his feet, stepping over an unconscious Nelson on
his way to the bedroom door.
You still down there bud?
Mud pops out of the bedroom into the den.
148 IN SENIOR'S BEDROOM, 148
Mary Lee, curled under the bed, frantically dials the phone.
Senior, propped against the closed door, uses his undershirt
to dab the pellet wounds around his neck.
Hearing footsteps, he cracks the door open. He sees Mud
standing in the den. Senior cocks his pistol
149 IN THE DEN, 149
The front door is KICKED open. Mud dives behind a Lazy Boy
as a Bounty Hunter fires through the doorway.
The back of the Lazy Boy explodes in fluff and fabric. Mud
raises up to return fire, forcing the Man back out the door.
Mud crouches back behind the Lazy Boy. Unbeknownst to him,
another MAN appears outside two sliding glass doors. The Man
raises his rifle at Mud.
One of Tom's bullets rips through the Man's chest and
shatters the glass door. Mud flinches. Another Hunter steps
into the now broken door frame. Mud FIRES the shotgun,
blowing the man into the patio grill.
A149 Mud can see Tom's houseboat silhouetted across the A149
bayou. A muzzle FLASH sparks from the top of Tom's
boat. This makes Mud smile.
150 The Front Door kicks open again and more pellets shatter 150
through the den. Mud raises to return fire.
ONE SHOT, TWO, the third is a dead CLICK. He drops back
behind the chair, out of shells.
151 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 151
Carver steps across the plank onto the houseboat followed by
James. Carver motions him around back toward Ellis' window.
Flush him out this way.
Carver walks to the covered carport.
152 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 152
IN THE DEN,
The Hunters at the front door continue taking pot shots at
Mud flinches at each new round fired.
153 IN ELLIS' ROOM, 153
Ellis cautiously slides out from under his bed and crouches
next to the bedroom door. He peeks through a crack.
He sees Mud pinned behind the Lazy Boy. They make eye
contact. Mud's eyes move to something behind Ellis.
Ellis turns to see James passing by his bedroom window.
154 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 154
Tom scans Ellis' boat through the scope on his rifle. He
sees Carver creeping around the carport. He pans right to
find James taking a position near the patio doors.
Tom pauses, seeing Ellis appear at the corner of the boat
just behind James.
155 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - CONTINUOUS 155
The firing from the front door has stopped. Mud takes a deep
breath, sets the empty shotgun on the ground, then rushes out
the sliding glass doors as the men out front reload.
156 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT/TOM'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 156
Mud makes it outside, his back to James' leveled rifle.
James and Mud both turn at the sound of Ellis' voice. One of
Tom's bullets drops James dead.
Carver appears at the carport end of the boat. He raises his
shotgun toward Mud.
A156 ON TOM, A156
He snaps the bolt open and closed, but it jams. He jerks at
the lever, looking up he sees Carver taking aim.
157 ON MUD, 157
Mud takes a running leap off the side of the boat.
Mud is struck in the back by the shotgun blast. The force of
the shot spins him in the air. He crashes into the water.
Carver approaches the edge of the boat. He stares down into
the swirling dark water. No sign of Mud.
A157 ON TOM, A157
Tom slaps open the bolt and yanks the spent cartridge out
with his fingers. It BURNS.
He pumps the shotgun and fires into the murky water. The
pellets pepper the surface. Still no sign of Mud.
Carver pumps the shotgun a final time, but before he can get
another shot off Tom's bullet rips open Carver's chest
sending him sprawling through the broken patio doors.
He exhales, shucks the bolt once more. His eyes scan the
158 ON THE HOUSEBOAT, 158
Ellis runs to the edge of the boat.
Senior exits the houseboat, pistol pointed. He sees Ellis
and runs to him.
Senior grabs the boy, keeping his pistol up. Ellis drops to
his knees and Senior crouches with him, holding him tight in
his arms. Ellis cries.
It's okay. It's okay.
The two sit alone on the edge of the houseboat. The river
seems especially quiet now.
159 I/E. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT/RIVERBANK - PREDAWN 159
The sky shows faint signs of morning, a few streaks of light.
ON THE RIVERBANK,
The blue, red, and white lights from police cruisers and
ambulances bounce up into the trees.
A frenzy of Police activity swarms from the aftermath left on
Ellis' houseboat. Men in wetsuits prepare a dive. Blanket
covered bodies are wheeled off on gurneys.
Two of the Bounty Hunters, unharmed, sit locked in the back
of a state trooper vehicle.
160 ON THE HOUSEBOAT, 160
Ellis, Senior and Mary Lee sit huddled together under the
carport. They watch the emergency workers stream past.
Senior wraps his arms around them.
Ellis looks across the bayou to Tom's boat. Police
flashlights bob and weave throughout. No sign of Tom.
161 INSIDE ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT, 161
A LOCAL OFFICER strings caution tape across the broken patio
doors. TWO STATE TROOPERS hover over Carver's body.
The Troopers step away and the Local Officer cranes toward
the body. He studies Carver's face.
Stepping aside, the Officer takes a cell phone from his
pocket and dials. He turns his back away from the Troopers.
162 INT. PINES MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT 162
The phone rings in the Pines Motel. King enters from the
adjoining room and takes a seat on the bed. He answers.
Hello...You're speaking to him...
King listens. His face taut.
(a long pause)
King hangs up the phone. He sits at the edge of the bed,
overwhelmed by the news.
163 EXT. RIVER - NIGHT 163
It's dark on the river. Moonlight barely shows the ripples
in the slow moving current. MUSIC from a country station
slips out across the surface of the water.
Galen's jambox sits next to a small lantern in his flat-
bottom boat. His Helper snores, fully reclined, with an
empty can of Budweiser resting on his gut.
His feet are propped next to a tiny bell rigged to a line
that disappears into the water. The bell RINGS.
164 EXT. UNDERWATER - RIVER - NIGHT 164
The river bed swirls inside two, distinct spots of light.
Galen, using his new diving lights, scoops a final mussel
shell into the net before tying it off. He tugs at the line.
It's pitch black save for the shafts of light projected from
Galen's shoulders. He tilts the lights toward the surface.
The line leading up to the bottom of the boat dances in and
out of the high beams. Then...
MUD'S BODY FLOATS BY OVERHEAD.
Only his backside is visible. A cloud of blood trails from
the holes there.
FADE TO BLACK.
165 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DAY 165
A WORKER cinches a thick strap across the deck of Ellis'
166 ON THE RIVERBANK, 166
Ellis watches as WORKERS affix straps from his houseboat to a
crane resting in the bed of a large truck on the bank.
The SOUND of Neckbone's dirt bike rattles through the trees.
He appears behind Ellis and parks.
You got your bike back.
Mud dinged the shit out of it.
Neckbone takes a seat next to Ellis. They watch the workers.
They're really doin' it.
It's the law.
It's bullshit. They ever find Tom?
The boys focus on Tom Blankenship's boat across the bayou.
It sits vacant, covered in police tape.
No. He's gone.
Your dad not here?
Said he couldn't watch it. He's
pickin' me up in a minute. Got
They sit in silence as the Workers exit off the houseboat.
Heard on the news. They still
hadn't found Mud's body.
You think he's dead?
I don't know. I hope not.
The crane begins lifting up the houseboat. The metal wires
tighten and the entire structure creaks.
A sucking sound as the flotilla separate from the water. The
boat hangs, suspended in the air.
A HORN HONKS behind the boys. Ellis turns to see Senior's
I gotta go. Come by the apartment.
Help me set my room up.
Neckbone watches Ellis climb into the bed of the pick-up and
take his spot on the coolers. The sound of twisting metal
shifts his attention back to the houseboat being swung over a
167 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/RIVERBANK - CONTINUOUS 167
IN THE CAB,
Senior glances at the houseboat being set on the flatbed. He
puts the truck in reverse and pulls away. Not looking back.
168 EXT. SENIOR'S TRUCK/IMAGES OF DEWITT - DAY 168
Ellis rides in the back of the truck on top of the
coolers. He watches the town pass by.
A168 The marina junkyard. The Sonic. Downtown. A168
B168 EXT. FLEA MARKET - DAY B168
Ellis and his father unload a cooler at the back of a tented
flea market. A WOMAN comes out to greet them.
169 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/NEW APARTMENTS - DAY 169
Senior's truck pulls into the parking lot of a newly finished
apartment complex. The two-story buildings are modest.
The truck idles out front.
INSIDE THE CAB,
Ellis grabs the door handle. He turns to Senior.
I'll see you next week?
Ellis begins to get out but stops when Senior speaks.
Ellis? You mind your mother okay?
This is a big change for her. She
needs your support.
All right. I love you.
Love you too.
Ellis climbs out. He watches as Senior pulls away.
He stands alone in front of the apartments, studying the
surroundings. A busy road out front. A gas station and
collection of stores. A lot of people and commotion.
A compact car pulls into a parking spot one building down.
Ellis watches as three COLLEGE AGE GIRLS climb out dressed in
running shorts and t-shirts. Two are heavy set, the other is
petite. They joke and laugh. One sees Ellis and waves.
Ellis nods to her. He tracks them as they walk inside.
170 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - DAY 170
The river rushes past. A large motor churns the water.
Tom stands steering Mud's salvaged boat down river. He
cranes his neck, seeing something up ahead.
Tom kills the motor. Looking out over the bow, he's pleased
by what he sees. His eyes glint, almost a smile. He walks
to the small cabin and enters.
171 INSIDE THE CABIN, 171
Mud rests flat on his stomach on the cushioned bench.
Shirtless, gauze bandages wrap around his chest and back.
Tom walks in and kneels next to him. Touches his shoulder.
Mud's eyes open.
Come on son. You need to see this.
Mud, groggy, raises up. Tom helps him to his feet, putting
an arm over his shoulders. Tom practically carries Mud
172 ON DECK, 172
Tom and Mud slowly maneuver out the door and take a place
near the front of the boat.
Mud pulls his head up. Looks out ahead. The sight in front
of him grabs his attention. He perks up.
A tributary from the Mississippi river opens up into a vast
stretch of ocean.
Mud smiles, showing the missing tooth.
Tom and Mud stand on deck as their boat drifts slowly into
the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.