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ALL SCRIPTS





                           THE SESSIONS

                     (formerly The Surrogate)




                            Written by

                            Ben Lewin



                                             Based On A True Story


    EXT.   BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA.   DAY
1                                                                 1
    SUBTITLE Berkeley, California -1981-

    DISSOLVE TO ACTUAL TV NEWS FOOTAGE FROM 1981

    A busy intersection near the UC Berkeley campus. A strange,
    self-propelled motorized gurney whirrs into view and makes
    its way over a pedestrian crosswalk. The passenger, MARK
    O'BRIEN, in his early 30s, is visible only from the neck up.
    The rest of him is covered by a blanket. He operates the
    gurney with a mouth control and a set of mirrors positioned
    around his head.

                          NEWS REPORTER (V.O.)
               Mark O'Brien has been going to UC
               Berkeley since 1978. That's O'Brien
               in the motorized gurney heading for
               class last week.

    The gurney continues along a leafy promenade on the campus.
    Passers-by just go about their normal business.

                         NEWS REPORTER (V.O.)
               He had polio when he was 6 years
               old. The disease left his body
               crippled but his mind remained
               sharp and alert, and since he
               wanted to be a writer, Mark O'Brien
               entered Cal to major in English and
               learn his trade.

    We hear a voice reciting a verse of poetry as we follow Mark
    in his contraption.

                          MARK (V.O.)
               Graduation
               Today I hear the crowd's applause
               Receive congratulations from my
               friends
               Today I ask if I've found a place
               among the rest
               I hope you see a man upon this
               stage
               Who studied...read..wrote, and
               passed the test
               In cap and gown, diploma on my
               chair

    THE SCENE CHANGES to the interior of a large auditorium. A
    graduation ceremony is in progress.  Suddenly, everyone in
    the hall, GRADUATES, their FAMILIES, ACADEMICS and OTHERS,
    rise to their feet as Mark, in his gurney, buzzes across the
    stage, a mortar board hung on one of the handles.
                 1A.

          NEWS REPORTER (V.O.)
And so, Mark O'Brien graduates from
Cal, one of 250 English majors to
receive degrees today.
                                            2.


     The DEAN steps forward, congratulates Mark and places a
     diploma on his blanket. The gurney makes its way across the
     rest of the stage to thunderous applause.

     THE SCENE CHANGES BACK to the campus exterior. The news
     reporter talks to camera.

                           NEWS REPORTER
                If this report tells us anything,
                it is that a disability is not
                necessarily a handicap.

     In the background, Mark's family and friends are gathered
     round him in a jubilant mood.

                           NEWS REPORTER (CONT'D)
                Mark O'Brien teaches us that
                courage and perseverance overcome
                obstacles.
                With Mark O'Brien at UC Berkeley,
                Bill Hillman, Channel Five
                Eyewitness News.

     END OF NEWS FOOTAGE


1A   EXT. SAN FRANCISCO. NIGHT                                    1A

     Classic shot of the illuminated Golden Gate Bridge.

     SUPER CAPTION: "A FEW YEARS LATER"
     EXT.   STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S.    NIGHT
2                                                                     2
     It is about 4.00 a.m. All is quiet. We follow a mean-looking
     alley cat to the front of a modest, ground-floor apartment.
     It pauses, then slinks round the side, onto a ledge and in
     through a partially-opened window.

     INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    NIGHT
3                                                                     3
     The cat comes through the window, hops onto the floor and
     quickly finds a nice little plate of food scraps that has
     been set out specially. As it settles down to its meal, we
     become aware of a heavy and regular sound, like a ship's
     pump, coming from somewhere close-by.

     In the center of the room is an object that looks like a prop
     from a `50s sci-fi movie. A human head protrudes from one
     end. The object is an iron lung, and its purpose is to keep
     its occupant, Mark O'Brien, breathing. Every 4.5 seconds, the
     pump mechanism creates a vacuum inside, forcing Mark's chest
     to expand and suck in air. He is fast asleep.
                                   2A.


                     MARK (V.O.)
          Breathing
          Look you
          This most excellent canopy, the
          air,
          Presses down upon me
          At 15 pounds per square inch
          A dense, heavy, blue-glowing ocean.
          Teasing me with its nearness and
          immensity.
          And all I get is a thin stream of
          it.
          A finger's width of the rope that
          ties me to life.

Having now eaten its fill, the cat has a good scratch, then
wanders over to the iron lung.
                                        3.


    It hops up onto the small platform that supports Mark's head
    and slides itself along his face, once this way, once the
    other way, then jumps on top of the iron lung and walks its
    length. Through the portholes, we just make out the shape of
    Mark's bent, undersize body.  Suddenly, Mark's nose twitches.
    He opens his eyes and grimaces.

                           MARK
              Shit!

    His face continues to contort as he tries to cope with the
    terrible itching.  He shakes his head violently, then stops
    suddenly and closes his eyes. We hear his thoughts.

                        MARK (V.O.) (CONT'D)
              Okay, just focus. Now, scratch
              with your mind, okay, your mind,
              scratch with your mind...

    After a couple more nose twitches, he settles down. It seems
    to have worked. In his peripheral vision, Mark can see the
    cat making itself comfortable in a corner chair, one of the
    only other pieces of furniture in the room. The first hints
    of dawn start to appear through the curtains. They
    illuminate a large framed portrait of the Virgin Mary hanging
    on the wall.   Mark acknowledges it.

                        MARK (CONT'D)
              Good morning.

    Sunlight streams in, making the picture look truly sacred.

    EXT.   MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
4                                                                 4
    JOAN, a solid but slovenly woman in her late 30s, walks up to
    Mark's front door, takes a key from her purse and lets
    herself in.

    INT.   MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
5                                                                 5
    She comes in.

                        JOAN
              Good morning.

    Mark does not immediately acknowledge her.

                        MARK
              You're late.

    A LITTLE LATER

    The center of the iron lung, basically a thin mattress, has
    been slid out, and Joan is in the process of giving Mark a
    bed bath. He is frail and helpless.
                                        4.


    There is a look of resentment in his eyes as this apparently
    unfeeling woman exercises total control over him, at least
    temporarily.

                        MARK (V.O.)
              Joan
              I swear this was one crazy bitch
              Who'd swing me about enough to
              scare me,
              But careful enough so she could
              say:
              "Now what was all the yelling
              about? You polios are screamers.
              Always were."
              I didn't say a word, but typed my
              skinny novel in my head,
              And thought about revenge.

    In the course of washing his private parts, Mark has an
    involuntary erection. Joan gives him a shriveling look. He
    feels belittled and humiliated.
    A LITTLE LATER

    Mark is on his side, his trousers are on and she is buttoning
    up a bright red shirt. It is an awkward business. They do it
    in silence, avoiding eye contact as much as possible.

    EXT. STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S PLACE.     DAY
6                                                                 6
    Joan pushes Mark along in a gurney, similar, but slightly
    different from the one in the news clip. There are no mirrors
    and no motor, just an oxygen tank, a tube and a mouthpiece
    just next to Mark's mouth. Most of him is covered with a
    colorful blanket. The whole thing is a sports-coupe version
    of his iron lung.

                        JOAN
              Would you mind if I asked you a
              favor?

                        MARK
              You need help moving furniture?

    She has no apparent sense of humor.

                        JOAN
              I need an advance on my pay, like
              two weeks. That's not a big ask, is
              it?

    Mark looks rightfully shocked.

                        MARK
              What if you don't last another two
              weeks?
                                      4A.

He gives her a look, and means it. We hear his thoughts.

                     MARK (V.O.) (CONT'D)
          Joan never failed to put me in a
          crappy mood. It was also a drag
          that I was no longer allowed to use
          my other gurney, the self-propelled
          one. It had caused a couple of
          spectacular accidents.

They turn a corner and approach a church.
                                        5.

                           MARK (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                Basically, in spite of all the
                mirrors, I couldn't see where I was
                going.


6A   EXT. CATHOLIC CHURCH.     DAY                            6A

     Joan pushes Mark's gurney into the sanctuary.
     INT.   CATHOLIC CHURCH.    DAY
7                                                                 7
     FATHER BRENDAN is giving a sermon. Mark listens with
     satisfaction. There are not many others there.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                The Apostle Luke tells us that when
                Elizabeth spoke to Mary, the baby
                in her womb leapt - "For lo, as
                soon as the voice of thy salutation
                sounded in mine ears, the babe
                leaped in my womb for joy". So
                Mary's fear and apprehension slowly
                gave way to pride and purpose.
                Elizabeth saw the greatness in
                Mary. "Blessed art thou among
                women". Elizabeth, pregnant herself
                with St. John, felt the power of
                this wondrous woman. It was
                Elizabeth, and her absolute faith,
                that gave Mary the courage she was
                lacking, and she gave thanks
                saying: "My soul doth magnify the
                Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced
                in God my Saviour".

                May the spirit of the Lord be
                amongst you and remain with you
                always.


     Mass is over. PEOPLE come up to Mark and place a hand on his
     head or chest and say, "God bless you." In the background we
     can also hear Father Brendan.

                          FATHER BRENDAN (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                May the peace of the Lord be with
                you.

                          PARISHIONERS
                And also with you.

     A LITTLE LATER
                                        5A.


7A   INT. SIDE CHAPEL. DAY                                     7A

     Mark waits alone in a tiny chapel off to the side of the
     church. He turns his head, takes a suck on the mouthpiece of
     his portable respirator, then looks around at the impressive
     stained glass windows. The expression on Mark's face is that
     of a true believer.

                         MARK (V.O.)
               I'm definitely a true believer. But
               I believe in a God with a sense of
               humor. A wicked sense of humor. One
               who created me in His own image.

     Father Brendan enters. There is an awkward short moment when
     he realizes that there is no point in offering to shake
     hands. For no good reason, he nods instead.

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               Hello. I'm Father Brendan. I don't
               think we've met.
                               6.

                    MARK
          No, we haven't. I'm Mark O'Brien. I
          knew Father Seamus very well. I'm
          sorry that he's not here any more.

                     FATHER BRENDAN
          As are many others. I'm going to do
          my best to fill his shoes. I
          understand you'd like me to hear
          your confession.

                    MARK
          Yes, I would. By the way, I enjoyed
          Mass. I liked your tone.

Father Brendan is not sure how to take this.

                       FATHER BRENDAN
          Thank you.

                     MARK
          You don't believe absolute privacy
          is an essential part of the
          confessional, do you?

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          No, I do not. I believe sincerity
          is the most essential part.

                    MARK
          I told my attendant to come back in
          half an hour. Is that okay?

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Yes, take your time. I'm in no
          rush.

                    MARK
          Did Father Seamus say anything to
          you about me?
                       FATHER BRENDAN
          No one said anything to me about
          you.

                    MARK
          I can be a bit time consuming, but
          I'm worth the trouble.

Father Brendan breaks a smile for the first time.
                       FATHER BRENDAN
          I'm here for you Mark.
                           7.

                     MARK
          Look, this is not exactly a
          confession. I haven't yet done the
          deed. I was hoping to sort of get a
          quote in advance.

Father Brendan sits down.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Tell me what's on your mind.

                    MARK
          The most immediate thing on my mind
          would be my attendant, Joan. I'm
          thinking of getting rid of her.
          It's an evil thought, but I can't
          help it.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Is she dishonest, or incompetent?

                     MARK
          No, neither of those. She looks at
          me the wrong way. It's that you-
          need-me-more-than-I-need-you look.
          I'd like to show her she's wrong,
          just for the evil satisfaction it
          will give me. Is that a sin,
          Father?

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Well, it obviously troubles you.

                    MARK
          Yes, it troubles me a lot. Because
          maybe it's really a power trip. Me
          against her. Me against the world.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          I really wouldn't worry too much
          about that. The question is whether
          you like having her around.

                    MARK
          I can't stand her.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Then get rid of her. If I were in a
          position to choose, I'd get someone
          nice. Even it was a power trip.

                    MARK
          Then I have your blessing to fire
          her?
                                            8.

                            FATHER BRENDAN
                  Unofficially, yes.

                            MARK
                  That's good enough for me.

                            FATHER BRENDAN
                  Please, if ever you feel I can be
                  useful, do let me know. It was a
                  pleasure talking with you.

                               MARK
                  Same here.

     INT.      MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
8                                                                     8
     We see a pencil eraser on the end of a stick slowly tapping
     the keys on an electric typewriter. At the other end of the
     stick, which is about a foot long, is Mark, manipulating it
     adeptly with his mouth. There is a white index card in the
     typewriter on which he is typing a job notice. We see the
     first word. "POET"

     EXT.   BERKELEY COLLEGE.         DAY
9                                                                     9
     A community notice board. A young female hand reaches in and
     takes an index card off the board. The card reads:

     POET/JOURNALIST REQUIRES ASSISTANT WITH ADVANCED SENSE OF
     HUMOR

     We see Amanda's face as she smiles. She is in her early 20s.

                            MARK (V.O.)
                  Amanda would have been a pretty
                  girl to touch, to hold, to kiss, to
                  take to bed.

10   OMITTED                                                      10

     INT.      MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
11                                                                11
     Mark is in his iron lung. Amanda sits in a stiff chair a few
     feet away, being interviewed. Rod is working in the kitchen.
     Mark's poem continues.
                                             9.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 Her perfect, pale skin,
                 Her Tudor court face
                 Her strong, fleshy legs
                 Drove me into ecstasies of despair.

      Mark asks a question.

                           MARK
                 Do you have any experience?

                              AMANDA
                 No, none at all.

                           MARK
                 That sounds perfect.

      Mark stares at her lovingly.

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.     DAY
12                                                                 12
      From Mark's POV, Amanda slides him out of the iron lung. It
      is her first time, and it is an awkward business.

                           AMANDA
                 How long can you stay out?

                           MARK
                 Three or four hours. Depends
                 whether I'm having fun.


12A   INT. MARK'S PLACE.                                          12A
                              DAY

      It is some time later. Amanda is giving Mark a massage. With
      enormous satisfaction, he feels her curvy parts moving around
      him and sometimes pressing against him. He also gets a bird's
      eye view of her breasts.

                            MARK (V.O.)
                 She'd count in French before
                 lifting me, un, deux, trois,
                 quatre! I'd scream
                 Tugged by her athletic arms
                 From the everlasting gravity.


      EXT.   PARK.   DAY
14                                                                 14
      Mark, on a blanket, is on an outing with Amanda, Matt and
      another COUPLE. They are playing Scrabble.
                                   9A.

                    MARK (V.O.)
          She took me on a picnic once,
          With her boyfriend and another
          couple. Lust crackled in the air
          between those twentyish people.

Amanda is clearly paying more attention to Mark than to Matt.

                    MARK (V.O.)
          What did the boyfriend think?
          That I was in his way?
          I'm always in somebody's way, I
          thought, the sun in my eyes.
                                        10.


     We sense Mark's deep satisfaction as he closes his eyes and
     the sun warms his face.

                          MARK (V.O.)
                As she glided through crowds of
                lives She couldn't leave me lying
                there Dried out bubble gum stuck on
                the underneath of existence.


     INT.   BATHROOM.   NIGHT
13                                                             13
     Amanda and her boyfriend MATT, are sharing the tub.

                          MATT
                Do you touch him?

                             AMANDA
                I do everything. Any other
                questions?

                          MATT
                You don't have to be so defensive.
                I'm not about to get jealous.

                             AMANDA
                Why not? He's a much nicer person
                than you are.

     She gets out of the bath suddenly.

     INT.    MARK'S PLACE.      DAY
15                                                             15
     Amanda is shaving Mark.

                          MARK
                What does your boyfriend think of
                me?

                             AMANDA
                He's an asshole. It doesn't matter
                what he thinks of you.

                          MARK
                I'm interested in the opinion of an
                asshole.

                             AMANDA
                He thinks you're some kind of
                Svengali, and that you're going to
                hypnotise me into your cult.

                          MARK
                He's right.
                                         11.


                           AMANDA
                 He says he can already see changes.

      She finishes shaving him and cleans him up. His eyes feast on
      every detail of her face.

      Cut to somewhere at night, Amanda is giving Mark a pole
      dancing demonstration, complete with disco beat and mirror-
      ball lighting.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 So with her gentle fearless heart
                 She took me in.
                 I thrived in her garden
                 And wanted more.


A16   EXT. STREET NEAR CLOTHING STORE. DAY                     A16

      Amanda wheels Mark towards a clothing store.
      INT.   CLOTHING STORE.    DAY
16                                                                 16
      Amanda is wheeling Mark in his gurney around the store,
      stopping from time to time to take something down from the
      shelf. She picks out a shirt.

                           AMANDA
                 This you must have.

      As she leans over to show it to him, Mark doesn't seem to be
      listening. He whispers to her.

                           MARK
                 I love you.

      She says nothing and gives the faintest of smiles, then puts
      the shirt back. They continue round the store in thoughtful
      silence and avoid eye contact with each other. We sense from
      the looks on their faces that this moment spells the end of a
      beautiful friendship.

17    OMITTED                                                      17
      INT. SIDE CHAPEL.   DAY
18                                                                 18
      Mark and Father Brendan are huddled together in the little
      chapel.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                 Did she reciprocate your feelings?

                           MARK
                 She didn't seem to.
              11A.

          FATHER BRENDAN
Sometimes people can be very shy
about their emotions.
                                          12.

                          MARK
               Well, in case she didn't get it the
               first time, I told her again that I
               was in love with her, and wanted to
               marry her, thinking it might swing
               things.

                            FATHER BRENDAN
               Did it?

                         MARK
               Yes. She left.

     They sit in silence for a while. Father Brendan seems to be
     at something of a loss.

                          FATHER BRENDAN
               I wish I knew what to say. I mean,
               welcome to the human race. Every
               day someone breaks someone else's
               heart. And as I said, I'm here for
               you. I just wish I had something
               more useful to offer. All I have
               are these vague ideas about life
               and death that priests are equipped
               with. Have you ever thought of
               discussing your feelings with a
               therapist?

                         MARK
               Not as yet. Father, I think I need
               a hug.

     After a moment of surprise, Father Brendan rises to the
     occasion. He seems to know how to move Mark gently and
     efficiently. They hug.

     EXT.   MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
19                                                               19
     Rod is in the front yard picking up the newspaper. He sees
     VERA, Chinese, mid-20s, a sensible type, approaching Mark's
     front door.

                            ROD
               Hi. Vera?

                            VERA
               Yes.

     He offers his hand.
                                           13.

                         ROD
               I'm Rod. I do four to twelve.

     INT.   MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
20                                                                20
     Vera sits in the same spot where Amanda was interviewed, but
     without the same aura, although she is far from ugly.

                         MARK
               Have you had any experience?

                            VERA
               Some.

     She is reserved and unsmiling. Mark seems disinterested in
     the whole process. The phone rings. They both look at it.

                         MARK
               Would you get that, please.

     Vera picks up the phone and answers a little hesitantly.

                            VERA
               Hullo.

     After a few moments, she turns to Mark.

                         VERA (CONT'D)
               It's Sandy, from Pacific News
               Service.

                         MARK
               Could you press that button and put
               it on the speakerphone.

     She does as she is asked with perfect efficiency.

                            MARK (CONT'D)
               Hi, Sandy.

                         SANDY (V.O.)
               Hi, Mark, how you doing?

                         MARK
               I'm good. I have a new attendant.
               She answered the phone. Her name's
               Vera.

                         SANDY (V.O.)
               Welcome, Vera.

                            VERA
               Thank you.
                                          14.


                           SANDY (V.O.)
                Mark, we've gotten sponsorships to
                do a series on sex and the disabled
                and we'd like you to do some
                interviews in the Berkeley area.
                Could you do that? Say in the next
                week or so?

     Mark is momentarily taken aback.

                           MARK
                Why now?

                          SANDY (V.O.)
                No particular reason. If you're
                working on something else, then we
                can talk about it later.

                          MARK
                No, now is fine.

     EXT. CARMEN'S DRIVEWAY.      DAY
21                                                                21
     Vera wheels Mark towards his first interview. The more we see
     Vera, the more we like her.

                          MARK (V.O.)
                There was no denying it.
                A door had opened which I could not
                close, and in invisible writing it
                said: "Do not enter".

     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.    DAY
22                                                                22
     We see the slowly rotating reels of a portable cassette
     recorder. We hear a female voice.

                          CARMEN (V.O.)
                Some positions, like that one, are
                pretty much impossible.

     Carmen, early 30s, is a paraplegic in a wheelchair. She is
     pretty and animated, and has full use of her hands.

                          CARMEN
                I don't know if you can quite
                visualize it. It's called a
                lateral, or sideways reverse cow-
                girl.

     It is obvious that Mark cannot visualize it. Although she
     doesn't give much away, we sense that Vera can.
             14A.


          CARMEN (CONT'D)
Don't worry about it then. It's
just a question of depth of
penetration.
          (MORE)
                                         15.

                             CARMEN (CONT'D)
                To some people it's really
                important, like my partner, for
                example. It's not such a big deal
                for me. I get just as excited when
                he licks my nipples, if and when he
                bothers to do it.

      Mark looks troubled.

                          CARMEN (CONT'D)
                I think the tape's about to run
                out.

      At that very moment, there is a click, and the tape runs out.
      Vera flips the tape over, sets it running in record mode, and
      takes her place again behind Mark's gurney.

                          CARMEN (CONT'D)
                Do you want to keep going?

                          MARK
                Uh, I think I've actually got
                enough to work on. Thanks.

                             CARMEN
                Get back to me if you need anything
                else. Oh, and let me give you
                Greg's phone number. He's full of
                stuff you wouldn't think was
                possible.

      INT.   MARK'S PLACE.     DAY
23                                                                23
      Rod vacuums the floor while Mark taps away on his typewriter.
      Mark looks troubled.


23A   EXT. GREG'S PLACE. DAY                                      23A

      We hear voices.

                          MARK (V.O.)
                Okay, shall we start?

                             GREG (V.O.)
                Sure.

      We hear the cassette recorder click on.


23B   INT. GREG'S PLACE. DAY                                      23B

      Greg is a handsome quadriplegic. Vera is there with Mark.
                                          16.


                          GREG
                Oral sex is a matter of taste.

     Mark doesn't get it. Vera, as usual, is impassive.

                          GREG (CONT'D)
                And one thing that really works in
                my favor is that I smoke so much
                weed that my taste buds are pretty
                jaded. This gives me a great deal
                of stamina in the tongue
                department, and stamina is key in
                cunnilingus.
     INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    NIGHT
24                                                               24
     The alley cat creeps in through the open window. Mark watches
     it approach from his iron lung.

                          MARK
                Who are these people? I feel like
                an anthropologist interviewing a
                tribe of headhunters.

     The cat seems to understand.

     EXT.   UNIVERSITY ADMIN BUILDING.    DAY
25                                                               25
     A lady with a crisp voice answers the phone.

                          LADY (V.O.)
                Good morning. UCSF.

     On the other end of the line, Mark tries to control the
     shakiness of his voice.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                Uh, may I please speak to someone
                in the Center on Sexuality and
                Disability, please.

     A pause.

                           LADY (V.O.)
                I'm sorry sir, the Center on
                Sexuality and Disability has been
                shut down.

     INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
26                                                               26
     Mark looks immensely relieved. He closes his eyes.
                                          17.

                                 MARK
                  Thank God.

                                 LADY (V.O.)
                  Sir?

                            MARK
                  I'm sorry to have bothered you.

                            LADY (V.O.)
                  It's no bother...Sir, before you
                  go, I can give you a phone number
                  for one of the therapists who used
                  to work there. Would you like that?

     Mark hesitates. He winces under the strain of having to make
     a decision.

                            LADY (V.O.)
                  Sir, are you there?


27   OMITTED                                                     27


     OMITTED
28                                                               28
     EXT.   BUILDING.      DAY
29                                                               29
     It is a typical, modern, multi-purpose office building.   We
     hear the sounds of grunting, bumping and clanging.

     INT.      LOBBY.    DAY
30                                                               30
     There is something of a commotion going on at one of the
     elevators.  Vera, and a small, well-meaning CROWD, are trying
     to get Mark and his gurney inside. It will not fit
     horizontally.  As they angle it up, Mark begins to panic.

                            MARK
                  It won't fit. It's not going to
                  fit. Let's go back.

     A muscular LATINO guy reassures him.

                            LATINO
                  Hey, it's fine. We got you. This is
                  going to work just fine.

     Vera guides him.

                            VERA
                  The top has to go over to the left.
                                   17A.

                    MARK
          I don't feel so good about this.
          Let's forget it.

The Latino guy takes no notice.   Vera is flushed and angry.
                                        18.

                          VERA
                Look, do you want to see this woman
                or not?

                          MARK
                No!

     One more heave and the gurney goes in with a jolt.

                          MARK (CONT'D)
                Aah!

                          VERA
                Well, it's too late.

     The elevator doors close.

     INT.   LAURA'S OFFICE.   DAY
31                                                             31
     Laura, a well-dressed, attractive woman in her late 30s, sits
     in a chair a few feet from Mark. His gurney takes up most of
     the available space in the room.

                          LAURA
                Did you ever discuss sex with your
                parents?

                           MARK
                No. That would have been
                unthinkable.

                          LAURA
                Why?

                          MARK
                That's the way they saw the world.
                It wasn't just that polite people
                didn't think about sex. No-one did.
                It was never discussed. As far as
                they were concerned, there was
                nothing down there.

     Laura listens. She is pretty in a dark, angular way. A phone
     on her desk rings.

                          LAURA
                Sorry about that.

     She walks over to it, pushes a button, then comes back. She
     has a noticeable limp.

                          MARK
                What's that from?

                          LAURA
                Cerebral palsy.
                           19.

                    MARK
          You'd hardly notice.

                     LAURA
          People notice. It's not easy, the
          whole thing, attracting a guy,
          dating, sex, all very problematic.

                    MARK
          I find that hard to believe in your
          case.

                     LAURA
          Well, you better believe it.

                    MARK
          So, what sort of chance do you give
          me?

                     LAURA
          Of achieving your romantic fantasy?
          Very small to minute.

                     MARK
          Look, there's no need to pull any
          punches. You can be as direct as
          you like with me.

She smiles.

                     LAURA
          Mark, I'm just a humble sex
          therapist. I try to help people
          with sex problems that can be
          addressed. Your problem, I
          understand, is that you have never
          had sex.

                    MARK
          That's correct.

                     LAURA
          Would I be correct in assuming
          you're unable to masturbate?

                     MARK
          Correct.

                     LAURA
          Has anyone done it for you?

                     MARK
          No.

                     LAURA
          Have you ever asked anyone?
                                 20.

                          MARK
                Not specifically. I asked someone
                to marry me. She declined. Does
                that come close to masturbation?

                          LAURA
                You know, being with the person you
                love is not the only way of
                expressing yourself sexually. There
                are people called sex surrogates.

                          MARK
                Oh?

                          LAURA
                Psychotherapists and psychiatrists
                are not allowed to have sex with
                their clients, even if it seems
                like a good idea. Sex surrogates
                don't have that limitation.

                          MARK
                Would this be covered by my medical
                benefits?

                          LAURA
                Unfortunately, no. You'd have to
                pay the full fee, whatever that
                was.

                          MARK
                So, basically, I would be paying
                for sex.

                          LAURA
                Yes Mark, you would be paying for
                sex. But the person you would be
                paying is not a hooker. She is a
                highly trained and sensitive
                professional, who is not motivated
                by money. Just as I'm not. In fact,
                you can think of a surrogate as an
                extension of me. Do I seem like a
                hooker to you?

      Mark thinks.


31A   OMITTED                                          31A
                                 21.




31B   INT. LAURA'S OFFICE. DAY                         31B

      Mark comes back to reality.
                          MARK
                What sort of cost would I be
                looking at?

                          LAURA
                It depends how many sessions you
                need.

                           MARK
                Say, one, just to try it and see if
                I like it.

                          LAURA
                I'm sorry, it doesn't work that
                way. It's a process. You have to be
                patient with yourself. There can be
                quite a lot of talking involved.

                          MARK
                I've set aside $500. Do you think
                that would cover things?

                          LAURA
                Oh yes, that's ample. So, what do
                you think?
                                        22.

     INT. CHURCH.   DAY
32                                                                32
     Rod wheels Mark into the church.

     INT. SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
33                                                                33
     Mark waits in the little side chapel. Father Brendan enters.

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               Hi, good to see you. How are
               things?

                         MARK
               Things are sort of confusing at the
               moment. I would appreciate your
               advice, as a friend, if you know
               what I mean.

     Father Brendan sits down on the end of a pew next to Mark.

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               Sure, and I understand what you
               mean.

                         MARK
               Do you remember at one point you
               suggested I might see a therapist?

                           FATHER BRENDAN
               Yes.

                          MARK
               Well, one way or another, it's a
               long story, I ended up seeing a
               therapist, a particular sort of
               therapist, a sex therapist.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
               Uh-huh.

                          MARK
               My penis speaks to me, Father
               Brendan. Sometimes I ejaculate
               during a bed bath in front of my
               attendant.
                           (MORE)
                                   23.

                    MARK (CONT'D)
          All I feel is shame and
          mortification, while other men,
          apparently, get pleasure. I'm sorry
          if I sound angry.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Don't worry about it. Go on.

Mark pauses to take a few breaths on his oxygen mouthpiece,
then goes on.

                     MARK
          This therapist suggested I could
          work with a sexual specialist, have
          sex with someone known as a sex
          surrogate, who would be sensitive
          to my special needs. I've been
          giving it some thought.

Father Brendan interrupts him.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Hold on. What do you mean "have
          sex"?
                    MARK
          Well, I don't really know how to
          describe...

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Sorry, that wasn't what... I mean,
          are we talking about sexual
          intercourse?
                    MARK
          I think so.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Outside marriage?
                    MARK
          I did do my best on the question of
          marriage.

Father Brendan shakes his head with concern.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          What is the difference between this
          sexual specialist and a common
          prostitute?
                    MARK
          I don't know, but I think there's a
          difference.
                 23A.


          FATHER BRENDAN
How do you know she's not some
hooker gussied up as a social
worker, who's just going to rob
you?
          MARK
I trust what my therapist said
about her.
          FATHER BRENDAN
How old are you?

          MARK
Thirty-eight.

          FATHER BRENDAN
Why exactly now?

          MARK
I never had any spare cash before.
That's a major factor, and I'm
probably getting close to my use-by
date.

          FATHER BRENDAN
And this is what you want my advice
about? Fornication?

          MARK
Your advice as a friend.

          FATHER BRENDAN
And do I have the casting vote, so
to speak?

          MARK
Let's say I value your advice just
as much as I do the therapist's.

          FATHER BRENDAN
You're serious, aren't you?

          MARK
I think sex is a serious matter.
It's one of the most persistent
themes in the bible.
          (MORE)
                                        24.

                         MARK (CONT'D)
               So, is it possible for me to know a
               woman, in the biblical sense, and
               do I want to find out?

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               And you want my opinion?

                         MARK
               Please.

     Father Brendan contemplates for a few moments. He looks up at
     the statue of Jesus, then makes a decision.

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               I know in my heart that He'll give
               you a free pass on this one. Go for
               it.

                         MARK
               What?
                         FATHER BRENDAN
               I said, go for it.
                         MARK
               Really?

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               If you feel up to it. Do you feel
               up to it?

                         MARK
               To tell the truth, I'm scared.

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               Then we should pray.

     Father Brendan and Mark pray together.

                          FATHER BRENDAN (CONT'D)
               Sweet Jesus, Mark and I sit at your
               feet and pray that You bless this
               little journey, this one small step
               for a man.

34   OMITTED                                                   34

35   OMITTED                                                   35
                                  25.




36    OMITTED                                            36

37    OMITTED                                            37


37A   OMITTED                                           37A
      EXT.   STREET NEAR CARMEN'S.   DAY
38                                                       38
      ROD is wheeling Mark along in his gurney.

                           MARK
                 I really feel proud of myself,
                 imposing on someone I hardly know,
                 to fornicate in their home.

                           ROD
                 Get over it. It's perfectly normal.

      They arrive at CARMEN'S PLACE.
                                        26.

     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.   DAY
39                                                                39
     Carmen, in her electric wheelchair, is the woman Mark had
     earlier interviewed. She pushes a button on a remote control,
     which opens concertina double-doors, which reveal an adjacent
     bedroom.

                          CARMEN
                Tada!

     The bed itself is set at a perfect height for someone in a
     wheelchair or gurney. The room has been decked out with
     flowers, candles and incense.

                          MARK
                Wow!

     Carmen points to the bedside table.

                          CARMEN
                There are all sorts of useful
                things in that drawer there, if you
                guys feel like exploring.

     Mark doesn't even begin to get it.

                          MARK
                No, I'll bring my own sheets,
                towels and anything else we need.

                          CARMEN
                No, no. Everything will be
                provided. I'm honored that you
                asked me. It'll be great karma for
                the house.

     EXT.   STREET NEAR CARMEN'S.   DAY
40                                                                40
     Rod is wheeling Mark back home.

                           MARK
                Great karma for the house. My God,
                the pressure, already. I can't
                stand it.

41   OMITTED                                                      41

42   OMITTED                                                      42
                                          27.




43   OMITTED                                                     43
     EXT. STREET.   DAY
44                                                               44
     We are outside an old-style wooden house with a Volvo wagon
     parked in front. A phone rings.


     INT.   CHERYL'S KITCHEN.    DAY
45                                                               45
     We hear the sound of sneakers on a wood floor. TONY, an
     adolescent with a pony tail picks up the phone.

                          TONY
                Hey, this is Tony.

     He listens, then looks away from the phone and shouts.

                          TONY (CONT'D)
                Cheryl!

                          CHERYL (V.O.)
                What is it?

                          TONY
                Phone!

     He talks into the mouthpiece.

                          TONY (CONT'D)
                She's coming.

     CHERYL arrives. She is in her mid-30s. She grabs the phone,
     puts her hand over the mouthpiece and glares at Tony.

                          CHERYL
                I'm not your girlfriend. When
                someone calls, particularly someone
                you don't know, you can use the
                word 'Mom'.
                                           28.

     Tony glares back. Cheryl takes off her right earring.

                         CHERYL (CONT'D)
               Hullo, this is Cheryl.

                         LAURA (V.O.)
               Hi, it's Laura.

                         CHERYL
               I haven't heard from you in a
               while. How are you?

                         LAURA (V.O.)
               Pretty well. Look, I called to ask
               how you would feel about working
               with a severely disabled client.

     Suddenly, Cheryl notices that Tony has opened the
     refrigerator and is drinking straight out of the orange juice
     bottle.

                         CHERYL
               Hold on a moment, please.

     She covers the mouthpiece of the phone.

                         CHERYL (CONT'D)
               Hey, cut that out!

     He takes no notice. She puts the phone down and moves towards
     him. He closes the fridge door and runs.

     INT.   MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
46                                                                46
     Mark is having a bed bath. His shoulders and neck are covered
     with soap suds. Rod is washing his back. The phone rings.

                         MARK
               Would you get it please?

                            ROD
               Sure.

     Rod eases Mark back onto the rubber mattress and goes to
     answer the phone.

                         ROD (CONT'D)
               Hullo, Mark O'Brien's phone.

     He switches it to speaker so Mark can hear.

                         CHERYL (V.O.)
               Hi, this is Cheryl Cohen-Greene.
               May I speak to Mark?
                                        29.


     Rod holds the phone toward Mark like a question. Mark's face
     looks drained of blood.

                          ROD
                Just one moment, please.

     Rod switches the phone off speaker.

                          ROD (CONT'D)
                What am I doing here? Yes or no?
                Make up your mind.

     Mark hesitates, then nods weakly. Rod puts the phone back on
     speaker.

                          MARK
                Hullo, this is Mark.

                          CHERYL (V.O.)
                Hi, Mark. I'm Cheryl. Laura called
                to introduce you. I understand
                you'd like to meet. Is that right?

     Mark can hardly speak. He eventually forces the sound from
     his throat.

                           MARK
                Uh, yes.

                          CHERYL (V.O.)
                I could see you on the seventeenth,
                at eleven o'clock. Would that be
                any good for you?

                          MARK
                Uh, yes, I think that would be fine
                for me.

                          CHERYL
                Hey, where you from?

                          MARK
                Boston. You?

                          CHERYL
                Salem. Small world.

                          MARK
                Wouldn't want to paint it.
     INT.   CHERYL'S KITCHEN.     DAY
47                                                                47
     Cheryl is on the phone, holding the receiver with one hand
     while she puts away groceries with the other.
                                       29A.

                           CHERYL
                We'll be talking for a while to
                begin with. Then, if you agree, we
                can also start doing some body
                awareness exercises in your first
                session.

     INT.   MARK'S PLACE.   NIGHT
48                                                               48
     The iron lung pumps away. Mark is alone. He stares at the
     picture of the Virgin Mary.
                                        30.

                           MARK
                Holy Mother of God, what are "body
                awareness exercises"?

     EXT.    STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
49                                                                49
     Vera lets herself in.

     INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
50                                                                50
     Vera holds up two shirts for Mark to see, a dark red and a
     light blue.

                             VERA
                Which one?

     Mark is lying on his side, shirtless. His face is even more
     grim than when we last saw it.

                          MARK
                Doesn't matter.

                          VERA
                Will you stop acting as if you're
                going to your own execution.

                          MARK
                I'm not acting.


     EXT.   CARMEN'S DRIVEWAY.      DAY
51                                                                51
     Vera wheels Mark to his doom.

                          VERA
                Try and think of something else.
                Baseball, for example. That's what
                they usually tell boys to do.

                          MARK
                Who are "they"?

     Vera rings the front doorbell. They wait.

                          MARK (CONT'D)
                She's forgotten.

     Vera says nothing. She rings the bell again.

                          MARK (CONT'D)
                My God, she's forgotten, or she's
                gotten the date wrong. Okay, we
                might as well turn round and go
                back. Come on, let's go.
                                       30A.


                         VERA
               She hasn't forgotten.

     From inside the house, we hear the faint buzz of an electric
     wheelchair approaching. The door opens. Mark closes his eyes
     in despair.

52   OMITTED                                                   52
                                          31.



     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.       DAY
53                                                               53
     Vera eases Mark onto the bed, positioning him so that he can
     see the doorway. As a finishing touch, she dabs a little
     cologne behind his ears, then puts the mouthpiece of his
     respirator within easy reach.

     Carmen picks up her bag and wheels herself to the door.

                              CARMEN
                Okay, I'm going. I'll be back some
                time after one. If I'm not here,
                just let yourselves out.

                              VERA
                Bye.

                              MARK
                       (weakly)
                Bye.

                              CARMEN
                Have fun.

     She lets herself out.

                          MARK
                What's the time?

                          VERA
                Twelve after eleven.

                           MARK
                I think there's a strong
                possibility she's had second
                thoughts.

                          VERA
                Mark, please calm down.

                          MARK
                And if she does arrive, she would
                be perfectly within her rights to
                turn around and run.
                                      32.


The doorbell rings. They stare at the door. Vera finally goes
over and opens it. Silhouetted against the light is Cheryl
with a substantial bag. She could be the Avon lady. She has a
light blouse, light skirt and her long hair is loose.

                    CHERYL
          Hi, I'm Cheryl. I'm sorry I'm late.

                    VERA
          No, that's fine. Come in. I'm Vera,
          I'm one of Mark's helpers.

Cheryl sees Mark. There is no noticeable reaction in her
face, just a smile.

                    CHERYL
          Hi, Mark O'Brien.

Mark clears his throat with a little difficulty.

                    MARK
          Hi, Cheryl Cohen Greene.

Vera is already at the front door.

                    VERA
          I'll be back, say, in two hours?

                    CHERYL
          Yes, two hours, that would be
          perfect.

She closes the door behind her. Mark feels totally abandoned.

                       CHERYL (CONT'D)
          So...

Mark blurts out.

                    MARK
          Your money's on the dresser.

Cheryl walks over to the dresser. When her back is turned,
Mark screws up his face in self-disgust. She finds an
envelope.

                       CHERYL
          Thank you.

She puts it in her bag. Mark eyes her carefully.

                    MARK
          That was the wrong way to start
          off.
                                     33.

                    CHERYL
          Yes, it was. Shall we start again?

                    MARK
          Please, you start.

She sits down on the bed and looks at him. It is a very
frank stare. She is trying to take a lot in.

                     CHERYL
          Although the aim is for us to have
          sex, I'm not a prostitute and you
          don't need to pay me up front. I've
          nothing against prostitutes, but
          there's a difference. We can talk
          about that later.

                       MARK
          I'm sorry.

                    CHERYL
          The other thing is, there is a
          limit to the number of sessions we
          can have together. Did Laura
          mention that when you saw her?

                    MARK
          I'm sorry, I don't remember.

                    CHERYL
          The limit is six. But that gives us
          plenty of opportunity to explore.
          Now, I understand you are able to
          have an erection.

                    MARK
          Yes, but not out of choice.

                    CHERYL
          Do you know how many men there are
          on this planet who would give
          anything for a natural erection?

She looks around the room.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          Is this your place?

                    MARK
          No, it's a friend's. The only
          bedroom furniture I have at my
          place is an iron lung. I've
          sometimes thought about buying a
          futon, in case the need arose.

                    CHERYL
          It's worth thinking about.
                           34.

                    MARK
          I've got the space. It can be
          expensive though, a nice futon. I
          mean, how much do you think a good
          one would cost?

                    CHERYL
          Mark, just take a deep breath, then
          let go.


                    MARK
          Do I seem anxious?

                    CHERYL
          You do a little.
Cheryl lies down beside him.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          Laura told me you were a poet.
          What's it like to be a poet?

                    MARK
          It's a way of living inside your
          own head, which is where I spend
          most of my time.

                    CHERYL
          But not today. By the way, I like
          your shirt.

He smiles, genuinely flattered.

                       MARK
          Thank you.

                    CHERYL
          So I need to ask you some basic
          questions. Okay?

                       MARK
          Sure.

                    CHERYL
          What is the iron lung for?

                       MARK
          It keeps me breathing. I can spend
          a few hours outside of it, with my
          portable respirator, depending on
          how I feel. But I work and sleep in
          the iron lung.
             34A.


          CHERYL
How do you feel right now?
                                   35.

                    MARK
          Out of my league.

                    CHERYL
          I meant your breathing.
                    MARK
          Oh...fine. In fact, better than
          usual.

                    CHERYL
          That's great. Do you have any areas
          of unusual sensitivity? Any parts
          of your body you don't want me to
          touch?

                    MARK
          I have normal sensitivity all over.
          It's just that my muscles don't
          work. You can touch me anywhere.

                    CHERYL
          Shall we get undressed then?


Mark is taken by surprise by the suddenness of it. He
hesitates momentarily.

                    MARK
          Sure.

Cheryl starts to unbutton his shirt. Mark's terror is visible
in his eyes and she can also feel his heart palpitating. She
starts to slowly extract one of Mark's arms from his shirt-
sleeve. Suddenly, he lets out a piercing scream.

                    MARK (CONT'D)
          Ow! Ow! Stop! It hurts!

She recoils, shocked.

                    CHERYL
          What's wrong?

                    MARK
          Holy Mother of God!

                    CHERYL
          Tell me what's wrong.

                    MARK
          My fingers! They're caught!

She discovers that his fingers have been snagged in the
fabric of the shirt and his fingers are being bent backward.
                                   36.

                    CHERYL
          Okay, okay, I've got it. Don't
          worry.

She carefully frees his fingers and eases the sleeve off.

                    MARK
          Be careful, please.

                     CHERYL
          Mark, I'm going to be really
          careful with you. I don't want to
          hurt or injure you in any way, but
          it's really not sexy when you yell
          at me. Okay?

                    MARK
          I won't yell at you any more.

                    CHERYL
          But you'll tell me calmly the
          moment anything starts to hurt?
                    MARK
          Yes.
                    CHERYL
          Now, let's do the other arm.

Little by little, she extracts the other arm. He grimaces his
way through it, but more in fear than in pain. She finally
sets his shirt down on the end of the bed.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          Nice shirt.

                    MARK
          You already said that.

                    CHERYL
          Did I? I guess I'm a little
          anxious, too.

She undoes the top of his pants.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          Okay, I'm going to slide these
          down. Hold your breath.

She pulls. He screams, in fear more than pain.

                    MARK
          Shit, fuck! No, don't do that!
                                       36A.

     INT.   BATHROOM.   DAY
54                                                             54
     Cheryl sits down on the edge of the tub and takes a couple of
     deep breaths.
                                          37.

     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.   DAY
55                                                                55
     Mark, his body now under the sheets, looks towards the
     bathroom door. He can hear the sound of water running. He
     looks at a wall clock and notes the passing of time.

     INT.   BATHROOM. DAY
56                                                                56
     Cheryl turns off the tap. She has done a great job of pulling
     herself together, and is wrapped in a kimono, which she has
     brought herself.

     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.   DAY
57                                                                57
     Cheryl emerges from the bathroom and starts to undress.

                            CHERYL
                Ready?

                            MARK
                No.

     Cheryl continues undressing, Mark looks away.

                            CHERYL
                Okay, the difference between me and
                a prostitute is that I don't want
                your return business. I'm here to
                help you communicate about your
                sexual feelings, so you can share
                them with a future partner.

     She stands there for a few moments, but he keeps his eyes
     averted. She turns back the sheets, gets into bed beside him
     and he finally looks at her.

                          MARK
                Whenever I'm naked, everyone else
                in the room is usually dressed. Now
                that I'm in bed with another naked
                person, I'm very confused.

     She strokes his hair.

                          CHERYL
                So, why is it confusing?

                          MARK
                I'd always expected that God, or my
                parents, would intervene to keep
                this moment from happening.

     She slides her hand down. She can feel his heart thumping.
                                  37A.

                     CHERYL
          Mark, close your eyes and focus on
          your sense of touch.

He closes his eyes.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          I'd like you to tell me how it
          feels each time I touch a different
          part of your body. If something
          feels good, tell me. If something
          feels ticklish or bothers you, let
          me know. I don't want you to
          tolerate anything. I'm going to
          start with the top of your head...

She strokes his hair.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          You have soft hair. It's nice to
          the touch. So you like it?

                      MARK
          I do.

She moves her fingers round behind his ear, then the front of
his ear.

                      MARK (CONT'D)
          That feels weird.

                      CHERYL
          Weird good? Or weird bad?

                    MARK
          Just weird.

She moves her hand down his neck.

                      MARK (CONT'D)
          Good.

His shoulder.

                      CHERYL
          Still good?

                    MARK
          Everything good so far, except the
          ear.

She moves her fingers along his side, very, very lightly. For
Mark, so far, this is the best.
             37B.


           MARK (CONT'D)
Are these the body awareness
exercises?
                                        38.

                          CHERYL
                You're clever to have worked that
                out.

     Her hands massage their way down his torso. Mark's reactions
     are a little like shock waves.

                          MARK
                People tell me I'm very perceptive.

                          CHERYL
                Would you like to see what I feel
                like?

     She carefully takes his hand and caresses the fingers around
     one of her breasts, then puts his hand back.
     Cheryl's hands move further down his body.

                          CHERYL (CONT'D)
                Are you wearing cologne?

                          MARK
                Yes.

                           CHERYL
                Mmm, my favorite brand. Okay, I'm
                going to move my hand along your
                stomach... and down to your pen...

     The expression on Mark's face changes to one of shock, then
     agony, then ecstasy.

                          MARK
                Oh, oh.

58   OMITTED                                                   58
     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.   DAY
59                                                             59
     The clock on the mantelpiece says 12:48. Cheryl is now fully
     dressed. She snaps open her briefcase, takes out a diary with
     a pen attached, then walks over to the bed, sits down beside
     Mark and flips through the pages.

                           CHERYL
                Next week, Friday the twentieth,
                same time?

                          MARK
                That's good for me.
                                        39.

                          CHERYL
                Next time we'll start to work on
                intercourse.

     She gathers her things together and gets up.

                           CHERYL (CONT'D)
                Were you afraid at the thought of
                seeing me?

                          MARK
                I was terrified.

                          CHERYL
                You can be proud of yourself. You
                did great. We've made real
                progress.

                          MARK
                Can I ask you something?

                          CHERYL
                Of course. What would you like to
                ask?

                          MARK
                Anything, really. Tell me something
                about yourself. Anything.

                          CHERYL
                Sure. I'm a very private person. I
                have a private life, I do need you
                to be aware of that, but that's
                about it. This therapy is about
                you.

     There is a discreet knock at the front door and then a key
     turns in the lock. A few moments later, Carmen and Vera come
     in.

                          MARK
                Welcome back.

                          CHERYL
                Perfect timing.

                          CARMEN
                I hope you guys kept the noise
                down.

     EXT.   STREET NEAR CARMEN'S.   DAY
60                                                             60
     Vera wheels Mark back the way they came. She is very discreet
     and they travel in silence for a while. Finally, curiosity
     overcomes her.
                 40.

          VERA
How do you feel?

          MARK
Cleansed and victorious.

          VERA
Doesn't get any better than that.

          MARK
Tell me about your first sexual
experience.

          VERA
Let me think. It wasn't all that
pleasant. I mean, it was consensual
and everything, and I really was in
love with the guy, but his dick
seemed enormous to me, I didn't
think it would fit. It was scary.
But he was nice. I guess he
couldn't help it.

          MARK
Was he Chinese?

          VERA
Are you kidding? I only hung out
with white guys at high school.

          MARK
Why is that?

          VERA
I don't know. To stick it to my mum
and dad, I suppose.

          MARK
Are they happy now you've got a
Chinese boyfriend?

          VERA
They're happy. I'm happy.

          MARK
What's his dick like?

          VERA
Perfect size.

          MARK
Why do you call it a dick instead
of a penis?
                                        41.

                          VERA
                Penis sounds like some vegetable
                you don't want to eat. Dick sounds
                like what it is.

     They continue in silence for a little while.

                          MARK
                The thing is, it was all over so
                damn quickly.

                          VERA
                Yes, tell me about it.

     EXT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   NIGHT
61                                                               61
     Cheryl's car is parked outside. The house is mostly dark.

     INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   NIGHT
62                                                               62
     Cheryl is at a tiny desk, dictating into a recorder.

                           CHERYL
                First session. Mark is the oldest
                of four children and raised
                Catholic. He was extremely nervous.
                He yelled a lot when I took off his
                shirt, but I think more out of fear
                than pain. He cannot masturbate.
                Has only had the occasional kissing
                experience. He is capable of
                achieving an erection easily, but
                the unusual curvature of his body
                could be a serious obstacle to
                intercourse.

     She puts the recorder away in a file drawer and locks the
     drawer with a key, which she keeps with her.

     INT. CHERYL'S BEDROOM.    NIGHT
63                                                               63
     Cheryl gets into bed beside her husband JOSH, who is
     apparently asleep.

                           CHERYL
                This gentleman I just started
                working with. He spends most of his
                life trapped in a big metal box.

     Her husband Josh turns over and mumbles something completely
     incomprehensible. She nudges him.

                          CHERYL (CONT'D)
                Did you hear what I said?
                                         42.

                         JOSH
               Yes, I heard what you said. You're
               a saint.

     He kisses her.

                         CHERYL
               Don't forget to put the trash out
               in the morning.

     She turns around and goes to sleep.
     INT. SIDE CHAPEL.   DAY
64                                                              64
     Mark is in the little side chapel with Father Brendan.

                         MARK
               I don't know what I had envisaged
               it would be like, the first time I
               mean. But that wasn't the image I
               had. I thought there would be more
               to it. Not that it was unpleasant.
               After all, I was in bed with a
               naked woman. She complimented me on
               my shirt and my hair. She held my
               penis. I haven't even seen my penis
               for over thirty years. Anyway,
               onward. Am I sharing too much?

                         FATHER BRENDAN
               No, I'm used to it.

     INT.   MARK'S PLACE.      NIGHT
65                                                              65
     Mark is in his iron lung. With his mouth stick, he turns the
     page of one of those anatomical instruction books on sex.
     There are the typical graphic cross-section diagrams of
     penises entering vaginas. Ravel's "Bolero" plays quietly in
     the background as he reads to himself.

                          MARK
               "Sometimes the head of the penis
               may be too large to penetrate the
               vaginal opening smoothly, in which
               case the application of lubricant
               is recommended to avoid
               possible..." Oh, my God!

     EXT. STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S PLACE. DAY
66                                                              66
     This time Rod is wheeling Mark. He seems only slightly less
     anxious than the first time, but still noticeably anxious.

                         ROD
               What's on the menu today?
                                        43.

                          MARK
                We're attempting intercourse.

                          ROD
                Uh-huh. That's a big one.

                          MARK
                What do you think of it?
                Intercourse.

                          ROD
                Overrated, but necessary. There's
                plenty of other ways of achieving
                the same result, but somehow you
                don't feel you've actually done it
                till you've gone all the way in.

     This does not help Mark's state of mind.

67   OMITTED                                                      67
     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.   DAY
68                                                                68
     Cheryl takes off her clothes.

                          CHERYL
                I want you to look at me this time.
                Go on, lift your eyes, look at me.

     He lifts his eyes. She pauses.

                          CHERYL (CONT'D)
                Do you like watching me undress?

                          MARK
                I do.

     As she moves towards the bed, almost naked, the last thing
     she takes off is her bra.

                          CHERYL
                From now on...

     She pulls back the bed covers and gets into bed with Mark.

                          CHERYL (CONT'D)
                You're going to start to understand
                the signals from your body...

     Their bodies touch. He looks blissful.

                          CHERYL (CONT'D)
                ...and learn how to control...
     Then suddenly...
                                  43A.

                    MARK
          Oh God! Oh God!

Mark's expression of bliss turns to one of anger and
frustration.
                                        44.

                          MARK (CONT'D)
                Damn! Shit!

     INT. SIDE CHAPEL.   DAY
69                                                                69
     Mark is in the side chapel with Father Brendan.

                          MARK
                I did it again. This time, I
                ejaculated on her thigh.

     Father Brendan winces.

                           MARK (CONT'D)
                I felt cursed, that the whole
                enterprise was cursed. It seemed
                like a totally just punishment. God
                wasn't actually denying my
                sexuality. He was merely pointing
                out to me how useless it was.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                It's amazing to me how often God is
                brought into the sex act. I
                understand that even amongst non-
                believers, the most common
                expression of sexual ecstasy is
                "Oh, God!"


70   OMITTED                                                      70

71   OMITTED                                                      71
     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.    DAY
72                                                                72
     Cheryl returns from the bathroom and slides back into bed.

                           CHERYL
                Okay, I don't want to hear any more
                about God cursing you. I want the
                credit. It was my overpowering
                beauty that did it. It took you by
                surprise. Now, where were we?

                          MARK
                What do you mean, where were we?

                          CHERYL
                I'm going to touch you... I'm
                touching you... and when we both
                feel you're aroused, then I'm going
                to guide you into my vagina.

                          MARK
                Is there anything I need to do?
                                        45.

                          CHERYL
                Close your eyes, feel your body,
                that's all you need to do.

     Mark closes his eyes. In his mind's eye, he sees the saintly
     figures in the beautiful stained glass windows of the church
     with the afternoon sun blazing through. An equally saintly,
     but naked Amanda floats towards him, her arms beckoning.

     When he opens his eyes, Cheryl is straddling him, but in a
     Leaning Tower of Pisa sort of way. It is a struggle for her,
     but somehow she is managing to get Mark into a workable
     position for intercourse. Suddenly, he panics.

                          MARK
                It won't fit. It's not going to
                fit.

                          CHERYL
                No, Mark, it will fit just fine.

                          MARK
                No, it's dangerous. It's too big.

                          CHERYL
                It's not too big. Relax.

                          MARK
                It won't fit. It'll hurt. It's too
                risky.

                          CHERYL
                Please, stop this. I promise you,
                nothing bad will happen. Now, let's
                try again while you're still hard.

     She attempts to guide him in again. Mark grimaces, makes a
     strange noise. We realize that he has just ejaculated again
     involuntarily.

                              MARK
                Shit!

     INT.   BATHROOM.   DAY
73                                                             73
     Cheryl steps out of the shower.

     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.     DAY
74                                                             74
     Cheryl gets into bed.

                          MARK
                I'm really sorry.
                                          46.

                          CHERYL
                Stop being sorry. And stop reading
                those stupid sex manuals.

     She snuggles up beside Mark.

                           CHERYL (CONT'D)
                We still have some time. We can
                talk, which you seem to like, or
                you can suck on my nipples, which
                you also seem to like. Or, which
                one would you like to do first?

     Gradually, Mark is reassured.

     EXT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   NIGHT
75                                                                75
     Cheryl's Volvo is parked in its usual spot out front. There
     is one light on in the house.

     INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   NIGHT
76                                                                76
     Cheryl is at her desk, dictating her notes. She also has a
     notepad with some jottings.

                           CHERYL
                Mark seemed to be at his most
                relaxed when I sucked his penis. At
                the moment he is fixated on penis-
                vagina and his anxiety is focused
                around that. The root of his
                anxiety is his parents and his
                religion. He believes he doesn't
                deserve sex. He believes he is
                responsible for his little sister's
                death at the age of seven, because
                his mother was too busy looking
                after him.

     INT.   LAURA'S OFFICE.   DAY
77                                                                77
     A copy of Cheryl's notes comes through on Laura's fax
     machine. We hear her familiar limp as she comes over to
     collect them. She reads the notes with interest.

                          CHERYL (V.O.)
                We discussed his fantasies. They
                are mostly masochistic.
                          (MORE)
                                        47.

                               CHERYL (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                  Again,   the idea of being punished.
                  He has   never seen female genitalia
                  before   and seems quite frightened
                  by the   idea.

     INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.       DAY
78                                                             78
     Mark and Father Brendan are in the little chapel.

                             MARK
                  I'm sorry to lay all this on you,
                  Father. My worry now is that it's
                  never going to happen. I'm never
                  going to have intercourse with
                  Cheryl, or any other woman. Maybe
                  intercourse would prove I was an
                  adult. Maybe I don't want to cross
                  that line. Maybe this was a bad
                  idea.

                            FATHER BRENDAN
                  Do you want to know what I think?

                               MARK
                  Please.

                            FATHER BRENDAN
                  I'd forget the psychobabble. I grew
                  up on a farm. It even takes the
                  animals a few times to get it
                  right. Can I suggest you try and
                  enjoy it more? Don't worry about
                  the technical stuff. You're a poet.
                  Be romantic.

     EXT. CLOTHING STORE.        DAY
79                                                             79
     Vera wheels Mark and his gurney to a rack in front of the
     store. She takes shirts and models them for Mark. He settles
     on a daring but beautiful silk shirt. A man in a pink unitard
     rides by on a unicycle.

80   OMITTED                                                   80
     INT.      MARK'S PLACE.     DAY
81                                                             81
     Vera carefully does up the buttons on Mark's new silk shirt.
     Mark looks thoughtful.

                            VERA
                  You nervous?

                            MARK
                  Only a little.
                                           48.

                          VERA
                Would you like a shpritz?

                          MARK
                Yes, of course I would.

     Vera gets a bottle of cologne and gives Mark a couple of
     bursts behind the ears.

                          MARK (CONT'D)
                I have a good feeling about today,
                a very good feeling.

                          VERA
                Great.

                           MARK
                I had a terrible feeling it was
                never going to happen, but I think
                today's the day.

                          VERA
                Can I make a suggestion?

                          MARK
                Please.

                          VERA
                Stop thinking about it.



82   OMITTED                                                      82
     EXT.   CARMEN'S DRIVEWAY.   DAY
83                                                                83
     Vera wheels Mark up to the front door.

                          MARK
                You couldn't have wished for nicer
                weather.

                          VERA
                You're not listening, are you? I
                said, stop thinking about it.

                          MARK
                Beautiful weather.

     She steps up to ring the bell, then hesitates. There is
     something of a hubbub coming from inside. Both she and Mark
     can hear it clearly.
                                           49.

     INT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.    DAY
84                                                                84
     The doorbell rings, amidst a loud background chatter. We
     reveal a ROOMFUL OF WOMEN, gathered for some intense group
     activity of some kind. Carmen buzzes her way to the front
     door in her wheelchair. She opens it. She has an expression
     of horror.

                            CARMEN
                Oh, my God, I forgot! Oh, Mark, I'm
                so sorry.

     The entire roomful of women stare at Mark and Vera. In the
     background we see Cheryl's car pull up.

     EXT.   CARMEN'S PLACE.    DAY
85                                                                85
     Cheryl, Mark and Vera are by the car. Mark looks grim.

                          VERA
                She was very apologetic.

     They are all shaking their heads. Cheryl has a thought.

                          CHERYL
                Look, it may not be exactly what we
                had in mind, but I noticed there's
                quite a nice motel just a couple of
                blocks from here. Maybe it's worth
                checking out.

     INT.   MOTEL RECEPTION.    DAY
86                                                                86
     Mark and Cheryl wait outside while Vera goes in.

                          VERA
                Have you got anything on the ground
                floor?

     The MOTEL CLERK is also Chinese. He looks at the rack of
     keys.

                          CLERK
                I've got a single.

                            VERA
                How much?

                           CLERK
                Thirty-five plus tax.

                          VERA
                My boss is the gentleman in the
                gurney.
                            (MORE)
                                        50.

                            VERA (CONT'D)
                He's supposed to be having a
                therapy session right now, but the
                facility we normally use had a
                scheduling mix-up. We only need the
                room for two hours. Can you do it
                for twenty cash?

     EXT.   MOTEL.   DAY
87                                                             87
     The clerk leads them to the room and opens the door.

                          CLERK
                There's a soda machine around the
                corner.

                            MARK
                Thanks.

                          CLERK
                And an ice machine, if you need it.

                          MARK
                I'm sure it'll come in handy.

     INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
88                                                             88
     Cheryl, Vera and the gurney enter the room. The clerk watches
     in the background. Cheryl and Vera lower Mark onto the bed.
     Allowing for the gurney, there is not a lot of space left in
     the room.

                          VERA
                Okay, I'll see you. I've got a book
                to read. I'll just hang around the
                reception if you need me.

     Vera leaves. Mark looks around.

                          MARK
                Very atmospheric.

                          CHERYL
                Some people find motels exciting.

                          MARK
                Do you think I could be one of
                those people?

     She sits on the bed and starts to undo his shirt.

                          CHERYL
                Another nice shirt.

                          MARK
                As in racy and sophisticated?
                                        51.

                          CHERYL
                You took the words right out of my
                mouth.

     INT.   MOTEL RECEPTION.    DAY
89                                                             89
     Vera is having coffee with the clerk.

                          CLERK
                What's wrong with your boss?

                           VERA
                Basically, he can only move his
                head.

                          CLERK
                So what sort of therapy are they
                doing?

                          VERA
                They're having sex.

                          CLERK
                You're bullshitting me.

                          VERA
                Okay, I'm bullshitting you.

                          CLERK
                No, tell me for real, what are they
                actually doing?

                          VERA
                Well, today, after some appropriate
                foreplay, they're going to try to
                achieve full penetration.

     The clerk stares at her.

     INT.   MOTEL ROOM.   DAY
90                                                             90
     We see Cheryl from the breasts up. We hear violent coughing
     from down below.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                I'm   choking

     Cheryl moves away. We realize she has been perched astride
     his face, more or less. The coughing continues. Mark looks a
     bit panicked.

                          MARK
                The mouth-piece.
                                   52.


Cheryl locates the mouth-piece to his oxygen supply and puts
it between his lips. After a few breaths he is relatively
relaxed. She lies down beside him.

                    CHERYL
          I guess that one's off the menu
          until further notice.

Mark finally lets go of the mouth-piece. He looks melancholy.
She does not fail to notice.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          Come on, lighten up, will you.

Mark smiles. He seems to be lost in some memory.

                    MARK
          Pony girl, Pony girl,
          Won't you be my pony girl?

He looks at Cheryl.

                    MARK (CONT'D)
          That was what my father used to
          sing to my little sister, Karin.
          That was before she died. She was
          kind of a sad little girl. It
          didn't do much good. I'm really
          sorry that the last time I saw her,
          I fought with her. I made her cry.

Mark's eyes begin to look teary.

                     MARK (CONT'D)
          My parents could have left me in
          the nursing home, you know. They
          found out the average life
          expectancy for polios in nursing
          homes was 18 months. So they took
          me home. They gave me a life.

Cheryl props herself up on one elbow.

                     CHERYL
          Mark, I'm just going to go the
          bathroom for a quick pee. When I
          come back, we're going to achieve
          full penetration. But before I go,
          I want you to close your eyes.

                    MARK
          Is this a game?

                    CHERYL
          No, it's not a game. Just do as I
          say. Close your eyes.
                                        53.


     He closes his eyes.

                          CHERYL (CONT'D)
                Picture yourself as a six year old
                boy at the beach. Can you do that?

                          MARK
                Yes, very easily.

     EXT.   BEACH.   DAY
91                                                             91
     The scene has a hazy, dreamlike reality. We see the six-year
     old Mark, able-bodied and full of energy, running and playing
     in the sand with his dog.

     INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
92                                                             92
                          CHERYL
                Describe some of your feelings.

                          MARK
                I feel very exhilarated, running
                next to the Atlantic Ocean, feeling
                the wind and the wet sand between
                my toes.

                          CHERYL
                Do you really feel like him?

                          MARK
                Yes, I really feel like him.

                          CHERYL
                But can you really picture him?

                          MARK
                I don't understand what you mean. I
                said I can feel like him. Of course
                I can picture him.

                          CHERYL
                From the outside, I mean, as an
                adult, as you are now, looking at
                him with his crew cut and his
                little face?

                            MARK
                Yes.

                           CHERYL
                And are you mad at him? Do you
                blame him for getting polio? Was it
                his fault?
                                  53A.


Cheryl gets up and goes to the bathroom. Mark is obviously
affected by her question.
                                           54.

     INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
93                                                                93
     Mark has a faraway look.

                          MARK
                She either forgot to close the
                bathroom door, or didn't bother to
                close it.

     Mark pauses as he hears some distant footsteps. Father
     Brendan looks over his shoulder. They finally pass. Mark
     continues.

                           MARK (CONT'D)
                I found the sound of her peeing
                incredibly erotic, and the sound of
                her tearing off toilet paper
                incredibly intimate. By the time
                she came back I had a terrific
                boner.

     INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
94                                                                94
     Cheryl gets herself into position on top of Mark.

                           CHERYL
                I'm going to rub the tip of your
                cock around my vulva. When it's
                ready, I'll guide you in. Breathe
                slowly and think of something
                delicious.

     Mark thinks. Through his mind's eye, we see a succession of
     images. Fingertips stroking a cat's fur. In the background,
     the sound of tom-toms. A tribal initiation rite. Drums,
     dancing, trances. Then Ravel's "Bolero". Clint Eastwood
     saying "make my day". Suddenly, and with a big yell, Mark
     comes.

                            MARK
                Aahh!

     INT.   MOTEL RECEPTION.      DAY
95                                                                95
     Vera is still there, reading her book. The clerk looks at his
     watch.

                          CLERK
                They've been in there a long time.

                          VERA
                Yes, some people can do that.

     He does not get it.
                                        55.

                          CLERK
                Do you want another coffee?

                             VERA
                No thanks.

                          CLERK
                Do you live with your parents?

                             VERA
                No.

                          CLERK
                You at Berkeley?

                             VERA
                Uh-huh.

                          CLERK
                Doing what?

                          VERA
                Architecture.

                          CLERK
                You have a boyfriend?

                          VERA
                Yes. Do you?

     INT.   MOTEL ROOM.   DAY
96                                                             96
     Mark and Cheryl are lying together. He has his eyes closed.
     There is something on her mind.

                             CHERYL
                You awake?
                                     56.

                    MARK
          Uh-huh.

                    CHERYL
          To answer your earlier question, I
          grew up in Salem, brought up
          Catholic, like you, but the church
          didn't appreciate my attitude
          towards sex.

                    MARK
          You had an attitude towards sex?

                    CHERYL
          Yes, I liked it. They like to think
          they threw me out, but I threw them
          out. So for years I didn't believe
          in anything, and now I'm converting
          to Judaism.

                    MARK
          I guess it's good to have some kind
          of insurance.

                    CHERYL
          I didn't think of that.
                    MARK
          Then why are you doing it?
                     CHERYL
          My husband asked me to do it before
          his grandmother dies. The idea is,
          if it makes her happy and him
          happy, then it will do the same for
          me. Our son is neutral on the
          subject, but theoretically, if it
          looks like it makes me happy, it'll
          make him happy too. That's the way
          my husband's family talks, and
          thinks. The fact that I'm happy
          already, doesn't seem to be
          relevant.

                    MARK
          What's your son's name?

                    CHERYL
          Tony. He's 14 years-old and very
          smart. You'd like him.

Cheryl and Mark lie together in contented silence for a
while.

                    MARK
          Does he know what you do?
                56A.

          CHERYL
He knows I'm a sex therapist.
There's a certificate on the wall.
But he hasn't had sex yet. So...
How much can he really know? He's
not a boy, he's not a man.

          MARK
How much do you want him to know?

          CHERYL
Well, I want him to have some idea
in his head. I hope it's a nice
one.
                           57.

                    MARK
          What does your husband do?

                    CHERYL
          He's a philosopher.

                    MARK
          Wow! You mean, like, at a
          university?

                    CHERYL
          No, in his own mind. He runs the
          house, plays guitar, thinks a lot.

She notices the time.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          It's kind of late.

She gets up and starts to get dressed.

                     CHERYL (CONT'D)
          Hey, we did really good stuff
          today. You were fantastic. You're a
          fully fledged male homo sapiens
          endowed with a handsome and
          substantial penis which now has a
          proven track record. You should be
          pleased.

                    MARK
          Was I really inside you?

                    CHERYL
          You were really and truly inside
          me.

                    MARK
          For how long?

                    CHERYL
          Five or six seconds.

                    MARK
          Is that all?

                    CHERYL
          That's a long time for some people.
          You were pretty excited. I don't
          know what you were thinking about.

                    MARK
          I'm sorry, I couldn't tell one
          thing from another. It was all a
          jumble of sensations.
                                        58.

                           CHERYL
                Well, you definitely achieved
                penetration. It was penis-vagina
                all the way. And you definitely get
                an A for orgasm.

     She is ready to go. She comes over to Mark and kisses him on
     the cheek.

                          MARK
                Did you come?

                          CHERYL
                No, Mark, I didn't.

                          MARK
                Can we try for that next time?

     She hesitates for a moment.

                          CHERYL
                If that's what you want.

                          MARK
                Yes, that's what I want.

                             CHERYL
                Okay then.

     INT.   LAURA'S OFFICE.    DAY
97                                                             97
     Laura is on the phone to Cheryl.

                             LAURA
                How's it going?

     INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    DAY
98                                                             98
     Cheryl is at her desk.

                           CHERYL
                He reads too many books. He has it
                in his head that after meeting
                three times, we should be able to
                have penetrative sex which results
                in simultaneous orgasm. Boom! Just
                like that.

     INT.   LAURA'S OFFICE.    DAY
99                                                             99
                             LAURA
                That's very funny.
                                         59.

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    DAY
100                                                            100
                           CHERYL
                 I guess. Yes, it is.

                           LAURA (V.O.)
                 What do you think of him?

      Cheryl thinks.

      INT.   LAURA'S OFFICE.    DAY
101                                                            101
                              LAURA
                 I said, what do you think of him?

                           CHERYL (V.O.)
                 I like him.

      EXT. STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S PLACE. NIGHT
102                                                            102
      Father Brendan approaches and arrives at the front door. He
      rings. Rod lets him in.

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    NIGHT
103                                                            103
      Mark is in his iron lung. Father Brendan, wearing civilian
      clothes, comes in with a 6 pack of beer.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                 I was in the neighborhood. How are
                 you?

                              MARK
                 Still exhausted.
                            FATHER BRENDAN
                 So, on reflection, are you...
                 Fulfilled?

                           MARK
                 It was okay. I liked some of the
                 other things just as much, or
                 better, but I'm glad it's behind
                 me.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                 Well, so am I. Congratulations.
                                         60.

                           MARK
                 When this is all over, I'm going to
                 write an article about it. After
                 all, sex sells. Seriously.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                 So you're really doing this for the
                 money.

                           MARK
                 Absolutely.

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                 Well, that makes me feel much
                 better about the whole thing. Can I
                 ask what she's like? Cheryl. You've
                 never really said anything about
                 her.

                            MARK
                 She's the most wonderful person on
                 the planet. I'm glad we finally had
                 intercourse, because now I realize
                 that everything I do with her feels
                 just great.

      EXT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    NIGHT
104                                                            104
      As usual, Cheryl's car is out front.

105   OMITTED                                                  105
      INT.   BEDROOM.   NIGHT
106                                                            106
      Cheryl crawls into bed beside Josh. She lies there with her
      eyes wide open, unable to sleep, her mind full of thoughts.
      Although she has not yet noticed, Josh is also awake.

                           JOSH
                 What's on your mind?

                           CHERYL
                 Oh, nothing.

                           JOSH
                 Don't believe you.

                           CHERYL
                 Okay, I've been thinking about the
                 whole conversion thing.
                                          61.

                           JOSH
                 Still don't believe you.

                            CHERYL
                 Then, whatever it is, I guess I'm
                 not in the mood for talking.

                           JOSH
                 What sort of mood are you in?

                           CHERYL
                 Another sort of mood.

      They get into the business.

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
107                                                             107
      Mark is also awake, staring at nothing, his mind full of
      thoughts. As a distraction, he eventually turns and looks at
      the picture of the Virgin Mary.

                           MARK
                 So, what do you think?

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    DAY
108                                                             108
      The phone rings. We hear footsteps approaching. Cheryl
      answers it.

                           CHERYL
                 Hullo, this is Cheryl.

      She smiles.

                              CHERYL (CONT'D)
                 Mark?

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
109                                                             109
      Mark is in his iron lung.

                           MARK
                 Can we meet somewhere for a coffee?
                 Somewhere nice. My treat.

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    DAY
110                                                             110
                           CHERYL
                 I don't normally meet with clients
                 outside of working hours, you know
                 that.
                                 61A.

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    DAY
111                                                     111
                           MARK
                 How could you possibly describe
                 anything to do with me as normal?

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    DAY
112                                                     112
                           MARK (V.O.)
                 We don't have to talk about
                 business.
                                          62.

      Cheryl smiles.


      EXT.   CAFE.   DAY
113                                                             113
      A WAITER approaches Cheryl and Mark with two beautifully made
      cups of coffee. One of them has a straw accompanying it. He
      sets them down. Mark looks up at the waiter.

                           MARK
                 Could you put my cup right on the
                 edge of the table there, and stick
                 the straw in my mouth, please?

                            WAITER
                 Sure.

      The waiter does exactly as asked.

                           WAITER (CONT'D)
                 Is that okay?

                            MARK
                 Perfect.

                           WAITER
                 Sir, I'd wait a couple of minutes.
                 That coffee is pretty hot.

                            MARK
                 Thanks.

                           WAITER
                 You're welcome.

      The waiter leaves. Mark and Cheryl look at each other.

                           CHERYL
                 So, what shall we talk about?

                           MARK
                 We don't have to do much talking.

      Cheryl smiles at him. She is looking gorgeous today.

                           CHERYL
                 Then why are we here?

                           MARK
                 I just want to be seen with you in
                 public. I find that as sexy as
                 anything we've done so far.

      He sips on his coffee and soaks her in with his eyes.
                 62A.

              CHERYL
I'm glad you enjoy looking, after
all.

          MARK
I want people to say "Who's the guy
with the blonde? How did he get so
lucky?"
          CHERYL
Or so rich.

           MARK
Okay, if some old girlfriend from
school you hadn't seen for years
turned up suddenly, like right now,
how would you introduce me? As your
boyfriend?
          CHERYL
No, as my husband. Why not go all
the way.

          MARK
Really?
          CHERYL
Does that shock you?

          MARK
Yes.
          CHERYL
Then I guess it would shock her as
well.

          MARK
Who?
          CHERYL
My old school friend that's going
to come along any moment.

          MARK
You really can picture me as
husband material?
          CHERYL
As long as we're pretending, sure.
          MARK
Would you write down your address
for me, please?
                    62B.




113A   OMITTED                            113A
                                         63.



      EXT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   DAY
114                                                            114
      Josh walks unhurriedly to the letter box at the front gate
      and collects the mail. As he flips through the envelopes, he
      stops at one which is addressed to Cheryl, sniffs it, then
      opens it. It contains a sheet of paper on which is typed what
      seems to be a poem. He reads it with interest, which develops
      into mild shock.

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   DAY
115                                                            115
      Cheryl and Josh are in the kitchen, arguing.

                           JOSH
                 You said yourself, it's not
                 supposed to get personal.

                           CHERYL
                 That's another thing altogether.
                 What I want to know is where do you
                 get off opening my mail?

                           JOSH
                 It was scented. I assumed it was
                 just junk mail.

                           CHERYL
                 Even less reason to open it. Where
                 is it? Give it to me.

                           JOSH
                 You're not getting it.

                           CHERYL
                 This is absolutely none of your
                 fucking business.

                           JOSH
                 You're still not getting it. I
                 threw it out.

                           CHERYL
                 You didn't.

                           JOSH
                 I fucking did.

      Tony arrives home from school. As he comes in, his parents
      fall silent. He realizes he has walked in on an argument. He
      looks at both of them.
                                            64.

                              TONY
                 What's up?

      A LITTLE LATER. The three of them are sitting round the
      dining table eating dinner in total silence. The hostility
      between Cheryl and Josh is palpable. When Josh finally does
      speak, he addresses Tony.

                           JOSH
                 Would you please ask your mother to
                 pass the salt?

                           TONY
                 Cheryl, would you please pass the
                 salt?

      Cheryl glares at Tony and goes on with her meal.

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.    NIGHT
116                                                               116
      Cheryl is at the dining table, with her recorder and file in
      front of her, plus a late-night snack.

                            CHERYL
                 Mark appears to be indulging in
                 typical transference behaviour.
                 This is not unusual after first
                 successful intercourse, but I think
                 he is especially susceptible. He
                 cannot help seeing me as the multi-
                 functional, all-purpose woman,
                 mother, sister, schoolmistress,
                 whore, lover and best friend. At
                 the same time, his anxiety about
                 sexual performance has diminished.

      INT.   BEDROOM.   NIGHT
117                                                               117
      Josh crawls into bed with Cheryl. She is still awake. He
      snuggles up to her.

                           JOSH
                 I'm sorry. I really upset you
                 before.

                           CHERYL
                 No, you didn't. I'm fine.

                              JOSH
                 You sure?

                           CHERYL
                 Yes, I promise.

                              JOSH
                 Really?
                              64A.



                       CHERYL
             Yes, I've come around to your point
             of view. You were right. You're
             generally right about these things.

                       JOSH
             It was quite a nice poem. I mean,
             nothing astounding, but heartfelt,
             at least.

                       CHERYL
             Josh, I need to go to sleep.
             Everything's good.

                       JOSH
             Okay. Good night.

They kiss.
                                            65.




      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   NIGHT
118                                                               118
      Cheryl rummages around in the kitchen garbage. She finds
      nothing. She storms off to the laundry, flings open a
      cupboard, pokes around and comes up with a flashlight.

      EXT.   CHERYL'S BACK YARD.   NIGHT
119                                                               119
      Cheryl makes her way to the end of the yard. Holding the
      flashlight between her teeth, she rummages around in the
      outdoor trash bin. Finally, she finds what she is looking
      for. An envelope. She takes the poem out of the envelope and
      reads it.

                           CHERYL
                 Let me touch you with my words.
                 For my hands lie limp as empty
                 gloves.

      She goes over to the back steps, sits down and continues
      reading.

      She puts it back in the envelope and walks back inside the
      house. She is visibly affected.

120   OMITTED                                                     120
                                         66.


121   OMITTED                                                     121
      EXT.   STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S PLACE.   DAY
122                                                               122
      From behind, we see Vera wheeling Mark in his gurney. ANOTHER
      FEMALE FIGURE creeps up beside Vera and whispers in her ear,
      all unbeknownst to Mark. The other female figure takes over
      from Vera, who trails along, a few feet behind. Mark remains
      unaware. He has a new and different-looking shirt, even more
      out there than the previous one?

                           MARK
                 Do you think she'll like the shirt?

                           AMANDA
                 I like it. Does that count?

      Mark can barely believe it.

                           MARK
                 Amanda?

      EXT.   PARK.   DAY
123                                                               123
      They are stopped at a park bench. Vera is hovering in the
      background, out of earshot.

                           MARK
                 It's been a while.

                           AMANDA
                 I know. I'm sorry. I'm going to
                 Germany. I wanted to say goodbye to
                 you before I left.

                           MARK
                 Why are you going to Germany?

                           AMANDA
                 To study German.
                                         67.

                           MARK
                 For how long?

                             AMANDA
                 One or two years maybe. But we
                 should keep in touch.

                           MARK
                 But why go to Germany? It's the
                 only place in the world where humor
                 is actually forbidden.

      She laughs, then smiles quietly, then touches him.

                             AMANDA
                 You could always make me laugh. I
                 love you, Mark. I really do.

      Mark's face is a picture of anguish and confusion.

                             MARK
                 Really?

      INT. SIDE CHAPEL.     DAY
124                                                               124
                           MARK
                 Yes, I love you, but not in that
                 way. I love you, but I'm not in
                 love with you. Blah, blah, blah.
                 You know how it goes.

      Mark lets out a deep, meaningful sigh. For a time, he and
      Father Brendan maintain a respectful silence.

      EXT.   PARK.   DAY
125                                                               125
                             AMANDA
                 I think it's great what you're
                 doing with this surrogate lady.

      She leans over and kisses Mark on the lips.

                           MARK
                 It could have been you.

                             AMANDA
                 It could have been, but it wasn't.

      INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
126                                                               126
                           MARK
                 I had this faint hope that she
                 would show the merest hint of
                 jealousy. It shows you how na´ve I
                 am.
                             (MORE)
                                           68.

                              MARK (CONT'D)
                 The fact that I was no longer a
                 virgin, that I was a `made man', so
                 to speak, made no difference to her
                 at all.

      EXT.   MOTEL.    DAY
127                                                              127
      Cheryl's car is in the parking lot. We see her draw the
      blinds.

      INT.   MOTEL RECEPTION.    DAY
128                                                              128
      Clerk takes two beers from a mini-bar and hands one to Vera.

                              VERA
                 Thanks.

                           CLERK
                 You want to go out some time?

                           VERA
                 No, I don't think so.

                           CLERK
                 What, your boyfriend?

                              VERA
                 No.

                           CLERK
                 Your parents?

                           VERA
                 No, I'm busy, that's all. What's
                 wrong with this, anyway? We're
                 having a nice time, aren't we?

                              CLERK
                 It's okay.

                           VERA
                 Or do you have things to do? I can
                 go for a walk if you're busy and
                 come back later.

                           CLERK
                 No, no, stay. Is this going to be a
                 regular thing?

                              VERA
                 What?

                           CLERK
                 The therapy.
                                         69.

                            VERA
                 I don't know. I'm not the
                 therapist.

                           CLERK
                 What sort of a therapist is she,
                 really?

                           VERA
                 I told you the first time, she's a
                 sex therapist.

      The clerk looks at her closely. She appears to have a
      completely straight face.

                           VERA (CONT'D)
                 Today they're working on
                 simultaneous orgasm.

                           CLERK
                 What's that?

      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
129                                                            129
      Mark and Cheryl are in bed, their faces close.

                           MARK
                 Boy, am I glad to see you.

                           CHERYL
                 Don't you say that to all the
                 girls?

                           MARK
                 Yes, but I always mean it.

      They kiss. Then Cheryl's head slides down and disappears from
      view.

                            CHERYL (V.O.)
                 Remember about the breathing.
                 Concentrate on breathing out rather
                 than in. Think of anything neutral.
                 Sky, water, trees, ships, music,
                 nothing too dramatic.

      Mark closes his eyes.

      INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
130                                                            130
                           MARK
                 The first time, I really didn't
                 know what was going on. Technically
                 it all happened, but nothing really
                 happened in my head.
                             (MORE)
                                      70-71.

                             MARK (CONT'D)
                 This time it did, and my head has
                 never experienced anything like it
                 before. Of course, I ignored
                 Cheryl's advice about having
                 neutral thoughts.

      INT. SOMEWHERE. NIGHT
131                                                            131
      Amanda is giving Mark a pole dancing demonstration, complete
      with disco beat and mirror-ball lighting.

132   OMITTED                                                  132

      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
133                                                            133
      Mark opens his eyes and looks up at Cheryl. She seems divine.
      His excitement increases. We hear the change in his
      breathing. Also in her breathing.

      INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
134                                                            134
      The expression of elation on Mark's face morphs dramatically
      into something else.

                           MARK
                 Then afterwards, there was this
                 moment, this glimpse of an awful
                 sadness to come.

      Father Brendan closes his eyes and nods knowingly.

135   OMITTED                                                  135

136   OMITTED                                                  136
                                         72.



      EXT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.   NIGHT
137                                                            137
      The Volvo is parked out front. The envelope is still on the
      dash.
                                            73.

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.      NIGHT
138                                                               138
      Cheryl is dictating.

                            CHERYL
                 Mark achieved an erection as soon
                 as I started to suck on him. He did
                 the controlled breathing, as I had
                 suggested, and I was able to get on
                 top and guide him in quite easily.

      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.   DAY
139                                                               139
      We see Mark's face from Cheryl's POV. His eyes are still
      closed.

                           MARK
                 Is it in? Is it really in?

                           CHERYL
                 Yes, it's really in.

      We hear Mark's thoughts.

                           MARK (V.0.)
                 I couldn't believe it.

      We hear the sound of typing.

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.      DAY
140                                                               140
      Mark is in his iron lung, typing. At the top of the page, we
      can see the title of the piece:

      "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate" Page 8.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 I was finally there. Too soon, I
                 came. But she kept holding me
                 inside her. Then a look of pleasure
                 brushed lightly over her face...

      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.   DAY
141                                                               141
      We see Cheryl's face from Mark's POV. It is as beatific as we
      have ever seen it.

                            MARK (V.O.)
                 ... as though an all-day itch were
                 finally being scratched. Letting me
                 go, she put her hands down on the
                 bed by my shoulders and kissed my
                 chest. This act of affection moved
                 me deeply.
                                         74.

      Cheryl's actions follow Mark's description.

      INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
142                                                            142
      Mark is with Father Brendan.

                           MARK
                 I almost wept. No-one had ever
                 kissed me there before. It was so
                 unexpected and so natural.

      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
143                                                            143
      Cheryl's lips move away from Mark's chest. She kisses him on
      the lips, light and lingering. As soon as there is enough
      space between them, he whispers to her.

                           MARK
                 I love you.

      She whispers back.

                           CHERYL
                 I love you, too.

                           MARK
                 Did you come?

                             CHERYL
                 Yes.

      INT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.       NIGHT
144                                                            144
      Cheryl continues dictating.

                           CHERYL
                 Mark is breathing well and learning
                 to pace himself. There is no real
                 physical impediment to a variety of
                 sexual activities, given the right
                 sort of partner. His deeper
                 emotional needs are outside the
                 scope of my potential involvement.

      Cheryl pauses, then goes on.

                           CHERYL (CONT'D)
                 As anticipated, this was the final
                 session.

      Tony appears. He seems to have some understanding of what is
      going on. He and Cheryl hug.
      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
145                                                            145
      They are still in the same intimate position.
                 75.

          MARK
What happens when...

          CHERYL
What happens when what?

          MARK
When people become attached to each
other.

          CHERYL
What people?

          MARK
Just people. What's the chemistry
of it all? When people are
attracted to each other.

          CHERYL
Are you attracted to me?

          MARK
We're just talking hypothetically.

           CHERYL
Hypothetically, they write poems,
they have sex.

          MARK
And what happens next?

           CHERYL
After poetry and sex? Nothing or
everything. The rest is by
negotiation, as it were.

          MARK
What do you mean?

           CHERYL
I mean, you can just leave it at
love and attraction, or you can
make things complicated. As most
people do.

            MARK
Have you?

            CHERYL
Oh, yes.
   76.
                                         77.

      INT.   MOTEL RECEPTION.   DAY
146                                                            146
      The clerk looks bored. Vera looks at the time. She seems a
      little anxious.

                           VERA
                 Can I use that phone to call the
                 room?

                           CLERK
                 Sure.
                                         78.


147   OMITTED                                                  147

148   OMITTED                                                  148
      INT.    MOTEL ROOM.   DAY
149                                                            149
      The phone rings, Cheryl picks it up.

      LATER

      Cheryl, already dressed, is getting Mark dressed. She does up
      every button of his shirt lovingly.

                            CHERYL
                  What shall we do next time? Any
                  requests?

      Mark doesn't answer.

                              CHERYL (CONT'D)
                  Mark?

                            MARK
                  I'm thinking.

      She finishes buttoning him up in silence. A strange feeling,
      a kind of chill that Cheryl senses, pervades the atmosphere.

                            MARK (CONT'D)
                  We have two sessions left, is that
                  correct?

                            CHERYL
                  That's right. Or...

                              MARK
                  Or, what?

                            CHERYL
                  Or, we could stop now.

                            MARK
                  You mean, make this the last
                  session?

                              CHERYL
                  Yes.
                           79.

There is a pregnant pause.

                    MARK
          What do you think we should do?

                     CHERYL
          It's not we, it's you, Mark. It's
          up to you.

                    MARK
          I want to know how you feel.

                    CHERYL
          That doesn't come in to it.

                    MARK
          Yes, it does. I don't just write
          poems to anyone.

                     CHERYL
          Mark, what do you want me to say?
          How much I was touched by that? How
          special this has been to me? Is
          that going to help you? No, it's
          going to make things worse.

                    MARK
          You mean to say, come the sixth
          session that will be it?

                    CHERYL
          Yes, that will be it. I explained
          that the first time we met.

Mark has a serious and painful moment.

                    CHERYL (CONT'D)
          I'm sorry. If it's any consolation,
          it's also hard for me to think
          about it.

                    MARK
          Then maybe we should pull the plug
          now.

                    CHERYL
          I think maybe we should. It's only
          going to get harder. I guess you
          might as well save the money. Maybe
          buy yourself a nice futon.

A LITTLE LATER.
                                            80.


      Cheryl is getting dressed. Mark watches pensively. She pauses
      and looks at him. He keeps a brave face. There is a knock on
      the door.

                           CHERYL (CONT'D)
                 Just a moment.

      She and Mark make eye contact for the last time. They manage
      to smile at each other.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 I desperately wanted to feel that
                 because of Cheryl, my life had
                 changed. But it hadn't.

      Apart from her usual things, she is also carrying a long
      mirror.

                             CHERYL
                 Bye, Mark

                             MARK (V.O.)
                 Bye.

      As Cheryl goes out, Vera comes in.

                           VERA
                 Everything all right?

                           CHERYL
                 He did great. See you. I'm sorry,
                 I have to run.

                             VERA
                 See you.

      Vera walks in and closes the door behind her.

      EXT.   MOTEL ROOM.    DAY
150                                                               150
      Cheryl goes to her car and opens the trunk. As she is putting
      the mirror inside, the Chinese clerk, who is showing a COUPLE
      to their room, gives her an odd look. Cheryl takes no notice,
      gets in her car and starts the engine.

      Just then, Vera runs up and taps on her window. The window
      winds down. Vera hands Cheryl an envelope with money in it.
      At first, Cheryl just looks at it, then realizes what it is.

                           VERA
                 You forgot this.

      Cheryl smiles.
                                         81.

                           CHERYL
                 I knew there was a reason I came
                 here today.

      Vera waves goodbye as she goes and Cheryl sits contemplating
      the envelope in her lap. Then she tosses it onto the dash and
      drives away.

      EXT.   STREET OUTSIDE MARK'S PLACE.   DAY
151                                                            151
      Vera wheels Mark home. They travel in silence.

      INT.   SIDE CHAPEL.    DAY
152                                                            152
      Father Brendan and Mark are together in the chapel.

                           MARK
                 I felt I'd just been through a
                 ceremony that I didn't know the
                 meaning of. I kept thinking, is
                 that all there is? Just an empty
                 hole at the end of it? A bigger
                 hole than there was before?

                           FATHER BRENDAN
                 I'm sorry Mark, you can't always
                 trust your feelings. You've
                 achieved a great thing. It may take
                 you a while to realize that.

      Time passes.
      INT.   MARK'S PLACE.    NIGHT
153                                                            153
      It is a moonlit night. On the opposite wall from the Virgin
      Mary is a picture of Amanda and Mark. Mark lies in his iron
      lung staring at it.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 I wrote letters to Amanda in
                 Germany.
                 Five, six pages long
                 A year passed,
                 Heard nothing.
                 Was it my fault?
                 Of course it was.
                 But the guilt isn't enough to patch
                 over the rage.
                 I pound the insides of my mind with
                 words, such puny fists,
                 And nobody hears.
                                         82.


      The poem ends and we hear instead a RADIO BROADCAST of a
      Giants' game. Mark is engrossed. Suddenly the broadcast
      stops. The digital read-out on the clock radio, which says
      12:57, disappears. A street light, visible through the
      window, goes out. The electric pump under Mark's iron lung
      whirrs to a halt. We hear the sound of air escaping, then an
      eerie silence. Even the cat is motionless.

      For a few moments, Mark seems hypnotized. Then, he twists his
      head and clamps onto his mouth stick. He manoeuvres it over
      to the speaker button on the phone and manages to press it in
      the semi-darkness. We hear a dial tone.

      INT.   ROD'S BEDROOM.    NIGHT
154                                                            154
      There is an answering machine on a bedside table.

                           ROD'S VOICE
                 Hi, this is Rod. Leave a message,
                 or not.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 Rod, it's Mark. I need help. The
                 power's gone out, including the
                 pump on the iron lung. I'd say I've
                 got about three hours before I
                 start to turn blue. I hope you get
                 this in time.

      INT.    MARK'S PLACE.    NIGHT
155                                                            155
      Mark winces in frustration.

                           MARK
                 Okay... nine-one-one.

      He swings the mouth stick over to the 9 button. As he presses
      it, he loses his grip and the mouth stick falls to the floor.

                              MARK (CONT'D)
                 Shit!

      At first, he seems panicky, but after a few moments he begins
      to control his breathing and gradually psyches himself into a
      strange calm.

                           MARK (CONT'D)
                 So this is how it ends.

      Time passes. We see Mark from a high angle. More time passes.
      We see Mark's face as he slips into unconsciousness.
                                         83.

      INT.   MIKVAH (JEWISH RITUAL BATH-HOUSE).    DAY
156                                                            156
      Cheryl enters the room wrapped in a white, terry cloth robe.
      The room is dominated by a small, beautifully tiled immersion
      pool with a hand rail and steps. The MIKVAH LADY gets up from
      her chair and approaches her.

                           MIKVAH LADY
                 Is this your first time?

                           CHERYL
                 Yes, it is. I'm converting.

      She takes off her robe and hands it to the Mikvah Lady, who
      does not fail to notice Cheryl's body.

                           MIKVAH LADY
                 So, what do you do?

      Cheryl closes her eyes and thinks for a moment.

                           CHERYL
                 I don't think you'd understand.

                           MIKVAH LADY
                 You can try me.

                           CHERYL
                 Okay. I'm a housewife.

                           MIKVAH LADY
                 Why shouldn't I understand?

                           CHERYL
                 I guess I was mistaken.

      Cheryl steps towards the pool.

                           MIKVAH LADY
                 I see you're very comfortable with
                 being naked.

      She takes hold of the rail and puts her foot in the water.

                           CHERYL
                 That has never been one of my
                 problems.

                            MIKVAH LADY
                 Sometimes new brides come with
                 their mothers. Do I have to take
                 this off? Can I please leave this
                 on? They've never been naked
                 before. No honey, it all has to
                 come off.
                                         84.

                           CHERYL
                 And it does?

      Cheryl takes another step into the water.

                           MIKVAH LADY
                 And it does. They stand on the edge
                 of that pool without anything to
                 cling to but themselves. Nothing to
                 hide behind. This is your body.
                 This is the body that God crafted
                 for you.

      Cheryl immerses herself up to her chest.

                           MIKVAH LADY (CONT'D)
                 Immerse completely. Go completely
                 under the water, without touching
                 the walls or anything.

      She immerses completely. We see her under the water. She
      hears a voice in the distance, her own voice. At the same
      time, there is a look of elation in her eyes.

                           CHERYL (V.O.)
                 Okay Mark, you can open your eyes
                 now.

      INT.   MOTEL ROOM.   DAY
157                                                               157
      Mark is on the bed alone. He opens his eyes.

                           CHERYL (V.O.)
                 This is your body.

      A few feet in front of Mark, Cheryl is holding a full-length
      mirror. The angle is such that he can see all of himself. He
      is mesmerized by his own image. Flashes of light from the
      mirror flicker over his face.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 So this is the body that someone
                 was able to love. Not quite as bad
                 as I thought.

      INT.   HOSPITAL CORRIDOR.   DAY
158                                                               158
      Overhead fluorescent lights flash by, as we observe the
      ceiling from Mark's point of view. We also hear the sound of
      rapidly rolling rubber wheels, and a voice.

                           VOICE
                 Mark, can you hear me? Open your
                 eyes.
                                         85.

      INT.   HOSPITAL.   DAY
159                                                            159
      Mark is in a regular hospital bed, with a temporary plastic
      cocoon over him in place of his iron lung. There is a
      volunteer called SUSAN in the room with him.

                           SUSAN
                 They'll be letting you go today.
                 Whoever looks after you will leave
                 the portable respirator switched on
                 at night, fully charged, so you'll
                 have at least one back-up system.

                           MARK
                 How close was I?

                               SUSAN
                 To what?

                           MARK
                 You know, to that tunnel thing and
                 the light, and the voice saying
                 don't go near the light.

                           SUSAN
                 Is that what you remember?

                           MARK
                 No. I assume I passed out. Before
                 that, I remember feeling sorry for
                 myself.

                           SUSAN
                 Do you feel relieved now?

                           MARK
                 No. I mean, I'm relieved that Rod
                 got to me in time, but I still feel
                 sorry for myself.

                           SUSAN
                 I'm sure there's a cure for that.
                 Would you like to talk to someone?

                           MARK
                 I feel comfortable talking to you.

                            SUSAN
                 I'm only a volunteer, not a
                 therapist. I can refer you to
                 someone if you like.

      Mark breaks into a broad smile, then a chuckle.
                                  86.

                           MARK
                 I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude.
                 I'm just smiling at the idea that a
                 therapist could do anything useful
                 for me right now. My priest
                 couldn't.

                           SUSAN
                 Are you religious?

                            MARK
                 Yes. I would find it absolutely
                 intolerable not to be able to blame
                 someone for all this. Are you?

                           SUSAN
                 No, I don't go to any church and I
                 don't think about God very much.
                 But I believe there's a mysterious
                 logic, or poetry to life. I guess
                 that makes me a spiritual type.

                           MARK
                 Yes, that would count.

                           SUSAN
                 Would you like me to visit you?

                           MARK
                 Are you married?

                               SUSAN
                 No.

                           MARK
                 Do you have a steady boyfriend?

                               SUSAN
                 No.

                            MARK
                 Then please visit as often as you
                 can.


      EXT.   HOSPITAL.   DAY
160                                                     160
      She smiles. Mark is loaded into an ambulance.

                           SUSAN
                 Bye. Take care.

                           MARK
                 There's just one more thing I want
                 to tell you.
                                            87.

      She gets into the ambulance and squats down next to him.

                           MARK (CONT'D)
                 I'm not a virgin.

      She looks genuinely pleased to hear it.

                           SUSAN
                 So, are you in a relationship at
                 the moment?

                           MARK
                 No, it was a passing thing.

      The driver is ready to shut the doors.

                           SUSAN
                 Thanks for sharing that with me.

      She gets out of the ambulance and waves.

      INT.   AMBULANCE.     DAY
161                                                               161
      Mark is accompanied by an AMBULANCE OFFICER. We see clear
      blue sky through the back windows. The sun shines in and
      warms Mark's face. He closes his eyes in contentment.

                           AMBULANCE OFFICER
                 Nice day, isn't it?

                                MARK
                 The best.

                           AMBULANCE OFFICER
                 Good to be alive, huh?

      EXT. HOSPITAL.      DAY
162                                                               162
      We see the disappearing figure of Susan from the point of
      view of the departing ambulance.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 I met Susan five years before I
                 died. She was the love of my life.
                 We had the same priorities,
                 baseball pretty much came first,
                 and we wrote each other mushy
                 poems. I never expected it, nor did
                 she, but that's often the way
                 things turn out.

      INT.   MARK'S PLACE.        DAY
163                                                               163
      Rod shows Father Brendan into Mark's room.
                                      88.

Father Brendan sits in a chair next to Mark's iron lung.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          That was quite something. What do
          you propose to do for an encore?

                     MARK
          Yep, I almost found out the big
          secret. But here I am, back with
          the living. If there is another
          place, then I think they took one
          look at me and decided to throw me
          back.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          And welcome back.

                    MARK
          And thank you for coming to visit.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          I know it's been awhile since we
          talked about this... About Cheryl.
          At the time, you seemed to feel so
          badly about her... or about it?

                    MARK
          I no longer feel like that.

Father Brendan is rather taken by surprise.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Oh? That's good to hear. In the
          end, you're glad that you did it?

                    MARK
          Yes, I am. In fact, at this point
          in time, I feel very blessed.

                     FATHER BRENDAN
          Blessed?

                     MARK
          Yes, blessed. They put me on this
          new anti-depressant and now I can
          really see life from the cup half
          full rather than cup half empty
          point of view.

Father Brendan looks truly amazed.
                          89.

                    MARK (CONT'D)
          It takes about six weeks to kick
          in, but when it does, you can
          really tell the difference.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Hey, that's great.

Mark grins.

                    MARK
          I'm pulling your leg, Father. I'm
          not on drugs. I have a girlfriend.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          You're kidding me. A real
          girlfriend?

                    MARK
          A very real girlfriend. She adores
          me. She'll do anything for me. And
          I can get pretty kinky sometimes,
          believe you me. Her name is Susan.

                    FATHER BRENDAN
          I'm flabbergasted. Is she pretty?

                    MARK
          She sure is.
                    FATHER BRENDAN
          Has she got a sister?

                    MARK
          As a matter of fact...
                    FATHER BRENDAN
          I'm kidding.
                    MARK
          No, you're not. Anyway, we're
          starting a publishing company
          together.

Father Brendan smiles and shakes his head.

                     FATHER BRENDAN
          Here I was, all prepared to offer
          comfort to the forlorn - that's
          supposed to be my specialty - and
          now I can just throw away that
          little speech.

                    MARK
          No, no. Please make the little
          speech. I'd love to hear it.
                89A.

          FATHER BRENDAN
Okay, but I'll try and keep it
short.

          MARK
Don't make it too short.

          FATHER BRENDAN
Okay, fine. Here goes. The meaning
of love. Love is a journey.
                                          90.

                              MARK
                    I already like it.

       There is a pause.

                              FATHER BRENDAN
                    That's it. That's all of I've got.
                    I told you it's short. Love is a
                    journey.

       Mark laughs.

163A   OMITTED                                                 163A
       EXT. MARK'S PLACE.        NIGHT
164                                                                164
       Father Brendan lets himself out and walks back the way he
       came. There is definitely a smile on his face.

       INT.      MARK'S PLACE.     NIGHT
165                                                                165
       Mark also has a smile on his face as he lies awake.

                               MARK (V.O.)
                    Actually, I was on drugs, I was
                    taking anti-depressants and they
                    were helping a bit. At least I was
                    able to see the cup-of-life
                    metaphor as a useful tool. Of
                    course, the two halves were never
                    even. Not in my case, that's for
                    sure. Look at all the years of
                    unendurable crap I've had to put up
                    with. That fills most of the cup.
                    But in the little bit that's left,
                    what do I have to show for myself?
                    Journalism? Poetry? At the very
                    least, three beautiful women who
                    all loved me and will all show up
                    at my funeral.

       EXT.   CHERYL'S PLACE.       DAY
166                                                                166
       Josh saunters out to the mail box. He retrieves the mail,
       sifts through it and pauses over a letter. He is tempted to
       open it, but thinks better of it.

       EXT.   CHERYL'S BACKYARD.          DAY
167                                                                167
       Cheryl is planting stuff in the back yard. Josh approaches
       her with the letter.

                              JOSH
                    It's from a Susan Fernbach.
                                          90A.


      She takes it and opens it uncertainly, somehow anticipating
      its contents.

      EXT.   CHURCH.   DAY
168                                                                 168
      A full-blown Catholic funeral is happening. Meaningful hugs
      are exchanged. Eyes are dabbed. We hear Mark's voice.

                           MARK (V.O.)
                 Three Reasons to Live

                 The mundane:
                 O God, it was boring, but I did it
                 got it out of the way

                 The transcendent:
                 We had this agreement --
                 God gave me life for a while
                 I gave Him gratitude for a while
                 and it worked out OK

                 The curious:
                 You know how every day is
                 different?
                 I just wanted to see
                 what would happen next

      INT.   CHURCH.   DAY
169                                                                 169
      Father Brendan delivers a eulogy. We see members of Mark's
      FAMILY, all teary-eyed.

                           FATHER BRENDAN (TO MARK)
                 Mark, I know you're watching. I'm
                 sorry, my friend, but we have to do
                 this. Just bear with me, and I
                 think you might like it.

                             FATHER BRENDAN (TO THE CONGREGATION)
                             (CONT'D)
                 I've been branching out lately,
                 reading Native American stories
                 about the character of the
                 trickster. Sometimes he shows up
                 as a coyote, sometimes as a raven,
                 but he always does the unexpected.
                 The trickster breaks the rules.
                 Mark O'Brien, whose life we're
                 celebrating today, was very much
                 the trickster -- anyone who knew
                 him knew that.
                           (MORE)
                       90B.

          FATHER BRENDAN (TO THE CONGREGATION)
Besides his irreverent humor and
alarming honesty, he always did the
unexpected.

In nearly every aspect of his life,
Mark did the unexpected. His was a
dynamic voice in a paralyzed body,
a full life lived long after he
should have been dead. He
graduated from college, wrote and
published articles and poems, and --
against all odds, by his own
admission -- entered into the fully
human experience of physical love.

In this way, Mark lived from day to
day to day, from breath to breath
to breath, for 49 years. He loved,
and he was loved and in his quiet
voice, he spoke loud truths.
                                         91.


      We see Rod, Vera and Laura the therapist in various rows.
      Also Amanda, holding a toddler in her arms and sitting next
      to a tall, boring-looking HUSBAND.

                          FATHER BRENDAN (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                Susan Fernbach will now read one of
                Mark's favorite poems.

                          SUSAN (V.O.)
                This is called Love Poem for No One
                in Particular.

      We see SUSAN at the lectern, reading from a book.

                           SUSAN
                Let me touch you with my words.
                For my hands lie limp as empty
                gloves.
                Let my words stroke your hair,
                Slide down your back and tickle
                your belly.
                For my hands, light and free-flying
                as bricks,
                Ignore my wishes and stubbornly
                refuse to carry out my quietest
                desires.

      We see Cheryl, as deeply touched by the words as she was the
      first time.

                          SUSAN (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                Let my words enter your mind,
                bearing torches.
                Admit them willingly into your
                being
                So they may caress you gently
                within.

      INT.   MARK'S PLACE.    NIGHT
170                                                            170
      In the middle of the room, moonlit, is Mark's iron lung,
      empty and majestic, with the cat sitting on top. As we move
      around the eerie capsule, we hear the sound of the French Can-
      Can slowly fade up. It continues over END CREDITS.


Sessions, The



Writers :   Ben Lewin
Genres :   Drama  Romance


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