"Snow Falling on Cedars", early, by Ronald Bass
SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
First Draft Screenplay
March 3, 1997
EXT. THE SUSAN MARIE, SHIP CHANNEL BANK - NIGHT
Fog. Penetrated only by sound. The LAPPING of sea at a drifting
hull. Tendrils of mist part, revealing...
...a face. Strong and blond and handsome.
SUPERIMPOSE: SEPTEMBER 15, 1954
LONG ANGLE...from below, we watch CARL HEINE, high on the cross
spar of his mast. He has pulled a SHUTTLE of TWINE from his rubber
overalls, and is LASHING a LANTERN in the cloud of mist, as MAIN
ANGLE...the tiny, meticulously neat cabin. Empty, silent. A tin
COFFEE CUP on the counter's edge. The battery well open, revealing
two large BATTERIES in place. PAN to...
...the deck of this sturdy stern-picker. The fishing net stretched
from the huge DRUM into the sea. Keep PANNING to the bow, where...
...Carl stands with his kerosene lantern and his air horn, watching
as another BOAT comes slowly out of the mist. The silhouette of a
FISHERMAN, holding a long fishing GAFF. As fragments of fog part,
we CLOSE on the figure's face, to see...
...his eyes. They are Asian. SMASH CUT to...
EXT. THE SUSAN MARIE, SHIP CHANNEL BANK - MORNING
Blinding sun. Our boat bobs lifeless on placid water. As CREDITS
CONTINUE, two figures slowly reel in the massive net. SHERIFF ART
MORAN is painfully thin, unimposing, methodical. Only the eyes
reflect his disquiet. His young deputy, ABEL MARTINSON, cuts
anxious looks between his mentor and the sea. As the net brings
silvered salmon across the gunnel, CUT to...
...the cabin. Tidy as before. Only two things have changed.
CLOSE on the tin coffee cup, which now lies OVERTURNED on the
floor. PAN above the open battery well, where a third MARINE
BATTERY now stands next to the wheel. CUT to...
...the stern, as the raveling net LIFTS from the water's surface...
...the face of Carl Heine. Turned to the sun. SMASH CUT to...
INT. CORONER'S LAB - DAY
WHITE fills the frame. A hand PULLS back the blanket-shroud
revealing Carl's face. As CREDITS CONTINUE, tilt up to the
coroner, HORACE WHALEY, gazing down. A shading of regret behind
the professional mask. A series of QUICK CUTS...
...Whaley's hand pulls the SHUTTLE of TWINE from Carl's pocket...
...examines the open, empty KNIFE SHEATH at Carl's belt...
...Carl's wrist, its WATCH stopped at 1:47...
Whaley bends over Carl's body, presses on his solar plexus,
watching pink FOAM rise from Carl's mouth and nose. And then.
He sees something more. His fingers gently pull back the hair
from above Carl's left ear, to reveal...
...a skull wound. The bone caved in. Four inches across.
EXT. SAN PIEDRO ISLAND - DAY
Snow falling on cedars.
SUPERIMPOSE: DECEMBER 6.
The heavens descend softly onto our island. Exquisite, silent,
hypnotic. An epic snowfall inspiring awe at our frailness against
the limitless scope of nature. As CREDITS CONCLUDE, a series of
...cars pirouetting, skating on their tires, past an abandoned
school bus, where kids throw snowballs at is windows...
...Fisk's Hardware Center, its endless queue of orderly citizens
waiting stoically for their snow shovels and kerosene...
...the harbor, with its moored fleet of tiny fishing vessels
blanketed as if by volcanic ash, a pair of teenage lovers building
a snowman at the edge of a dock, she pushes the boy into the water,
and he rises laughing, steam rising from his clothes...
...undulating strawberry fields of pure white, untouched and
flawless as the Sahara...
Finally, to a public building, cars gathering as best they can,
people streaming up snow-laden steps to the entrance, and as we
FOLLOW them, SMASH CUT to...
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
CLOSE on impassive EYES. They are Asian. We have seen them
before. PULL BACK to see...
KABUO MIYAMOTO. Early 30's, dark blue suit, clean shirt. He sits
ramrod straight, utterly motionless, expressionless, the eye of a
storm of movement in...
...the assembling COURTROOM. A packed gallery of buzzing locals,
the scent of anticipation. A bank of REPORTERS and PHOTOGRAPHERS,
cosmopolitan in attire, bearing themselves as jaded dignitaries
from the civilized world. As we PAN their ranks...
It was the first murder trial on
the island in thirty-one years.
...we look over the right shoulder of ISHMAEL CHAMBERS, early 30's,
dark, a rugged, somber man jotting notes on a pad which rests on
his right leg.
Our only newspaper was the San
Piedro Review, a four-page weekly
that I operated alone.
He glances blandly at his nonchalant colleagues.
What, I wondered, could the Seattle
boys know of the hearts of these
To the JURY BOX. Truck farmers, grocers, fishermen, in sober
neckties. A waitress, a secretary, fisher wives in Sunday dresses.
Neighbors, sitting in judgement.
On their neighbor.
To the neighbor. The ramrod-still defendant.
Kabuo Miaymoto sat with the rigid
grace of a Samurai warrior. As if
detached from his own trial.
Ishmael writing on the pad balanced precariously on his knee,
Did he know how dangerous his demeanor
could be? With this jury.
...it falls with a CLATTER of pages. He reaches with his right
hand, replaces the pad on his thigh. Around him, CAMERAS are being
swung to the ready. Ishmael looks to see...
...a slender WOMAN of refined beauty, entering the courtroom.
A few flashes POP, and Ishmael's right hand retrieves a venerable
box camera from beneath his seat, as his notepad falls once more,
Hatsue Miyamoto had been without
her husband for 77 days.
Ishmael pivots, and we understand his struggle with the notepad.
For he is forced to rest his camera on the stump of his amputated
left arm, its empty sleeve pinned at the elbow.
He was in jail. When his baby son
learned to walk.
Through his VIEWFINDER, we see HATSUE take her place in the first
row. And sensing her presence, her husband turns. Their eyes
meet. A string of FLASHES...
But none from Ishmael. He hesitates. As if considering whether he
will violate this woman's privacy. The camera lowers. HOLD on his
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR - DAY
MATCH CUT to Hatsue's face. Staring, impassive, empty. PULL BACK
to see that she sits alone on a wooden bench by the courtroom door.
Her hands rest delicately on the purse in her lap. Her demeanor as
removed from this place as is her husband's.
Earlier, I noticed her in the
PULL BACK to see him alone, in shadow. It is more than a notice.
Ishmael stares with fixed intensity at the motionless woman, as
she gathers her thoughts. A moment of decision. He approaches.
Stops, respectfully, at a distance which will not invade her
personal space. And softer than we might have imagined...
Are you all right?
She turns her head only slightly. It is enough. Her voice quiet
and firm at once...
Go away, Ishmael.
There is no anger. Only directness and resolve.
Please don't be like th...
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
PAN the back of the courtroom. Twenty-four citizens of Japanese
ancestry fill the last row, dressed in their most formal clothes.
Shades of Atticus Finch. As one, the Japanese-Americans watch...
...the prosecutor, ALVIN HOOKS, a crisp, even dapper man. There is
a quickness about the eyes, a tendency to sharpness of manner, that
he works carefully against...
...four inch gash, skull crushed,
and your thought was, what...?
JUDGE FIELDING, tall and gray and rawboned, leans on his elbows,
his eyelids droop slightly, a deceptive masking of keen attention.
That he...fell? Hit his head on
the gunnel going over?
The witness is Sheriff Moran. He answers as if this were a sincere
question. As if he had never heard it before.
Well, Carl was six-four, went 235.
He was a grizzly bear and an able
Ishmael watching. Thinking on that.
For him to just...go over. Crush
his skull like that on the way in...
HOLD on Ishmael.
INT. TEAM BUS - DAY
Teenage BOYS in football uniforms. They ride with their helmets in
He was a mountain, all right.
Anchored the line for us little
CLOSE on Carl and Ishmael at 18, riding together. Ishmael, dark
and rugged even then, is scarcely little. But dwarfed by the blond
giant at his side, who glares out the window, at...
Chambers. Y'see the geese?
...snow geese landing in low flooded wheat. The grace of it holds
Picture'd be nice. In your pa's
Ishmael nods absently. They stare, side-by-side.
Lucky I got the camera in my
They never look at each other. They never smile. But you can
almost hear one in...
Careful, Chambers. That was almost
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hooks now stands with his polished shoe up on the witness podium.
Like chatting with the Sheriff across the back fence...
And you weren't there, when the
coroner examined the wound.
Nossir. I'd gone to tell the wid...
to tell Mrs. Heine.
And his glance inevitably goes to the first row behind the
prosecutor's table. Taking the glances of the jury with it.
SUSAN MARIE HEINE is pretty and blonde and full-bodied in her
modest black dress. Composure and dignity. Against her grief.
EXT. HEINE HOME - DAY
Moran climbs from his vehicle, as Carl's young SONS dash around the
corner of the house. Seeing the Sheriff, they stop cold. Silent,
Hey there, men. Is your mother
He spits his Juicy Fruit into a wrapper. And as the younger boy
nods across the distance...
SUSAN MARIE (O.S.)
Sheriff Moran, hullo.
She has appeared in the doorway, smiling, spittle-marked baby's
diaper across her shoulder. And he smiles back. Tells the boys...
You go on and play, now.
But they don't. So he follows into her entryway, closing the door
behind him. And at the foot of her curving staircase...
What can I do for you, Sheriff,
Carl's not home y...
Too quick. He stops himself. And she sees that.
It's why I'm here. I'm afraid I
have some...very bad news to tell
you, the...worst...kind of news.
She looks at him, uncomprehending, the smile only beginning to
Carl died last night. In a fishing
accident. In White Sand Bay.
She only blinks. As if translating the words from a foreign
No, Carl's fine, h...
We found him, Mrs. Heine. Tangled
in his net.
And with these words, a slack, blank look crosses her face, and she
stumbles back one step, sitting down HARD on the bottom stair of
her curved staircase.
He doesn't know what to do. She digs her elbows into her lap, and
begins to rock, very slowly, wringing the diaper in her hands. Her
face is more terrible than tears. It is frightened. She murmurs
to herself, so that we can barely hear...
I told him this could happen.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
CLOSE on Hooks, nodding. As if, slowly, digesting something in his
So, no...immediate suspicion,
no...general talk of enmity
between the two.
These are fishermen, Alvin. They
don't talk at all to each other
and less to me. Specially gossip.
EXT. DOCKS - DAY
Ishmael walking down the sunlit wharf. Purpose in his stride...
A gill-netter works through black
nights with only himself to talk
to. And learns to be silent.
They were lonely men and products
Up ahead, the Susan Marie has been brought to dock. Moran stands
chatting with a knot of six or seven FISHERMEN.
...men who, on occasion, realized
that they wished to speak, but
As he arrives, Moran smiles a thin greeting. Not happy to see him.
Of course, neither is anyone else.
Figure you'da heard by now.
Ishmael shakes his head in silent helplessness. WILLIAM GJOVAAG, a
sunburned, big-bellied, tattooed gill-netter, clamps on his damp
You go fishing, it happens.
ISHMAEL (to Moran)
You see Susan Marie?
I did. Boy.
Three kids. What's she going to do?
Well, what can she do? Jesus Christ.
Excuse me, Gjovaag.
I don't need to excuse nothin'.
Fuck you anyhow, Chambers.
Everybody laughs. It is all good-natured, sort of.
Like the Sheriff, I did not work
the sea, and could never merit trust.
Sheriff's been askin' which boats
followed Carl out last night...
Only to see if somebody talked to
him out th...
So who talked to him? Out there.
Staring. At each other. Eye contact holds during...
JAN SORENSEN (heavy Danish)
So far, we figured the guys who went
to Ship Channel Bank, was Jim Ferry,
Hardwell, Moulton, Miyamoto...
All right, look, if you see these
Never saw you so hard-ass, Art.
Ain't this just an accident?
Moran finds his eyes drifting to Ishmael's. Which are right there,
waiting. Moran looks away.
Course it is, but a man's dead,
William. I got to write my report.
ANGLE...Ishmael and Moran, walking alone back up the wharf. The
Sheriff is worried. Finally...
I'm not gonna see some article
about an investigation, am I?
You want me to lie?
No, I wanna be off the damn record,
that's what I want.
No answer. They keep walking.
I mean, if there is a killer, why
would you want him all alerted?
Silence. Silence. And slowly...
Let's say...someday I need some
cooperation from you on this thing.
Do I get it?
And looks over. Like the guy holding all the aces.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Moran fidgets on the stand.
No sign of a struggle, you say.
SEE him now. NELS GUDMUNDSSON, attorney for Kabuo Miyamoto, stands
beside his impassive client. Nels is 79, blind in his left eye, a
little shaky. His body is winding down.
Well, the coffee cup was layin' right
in the middle of the floor, like I
said. And with a fella so neat as
Carl, that did seem peculiar.
And Nels begins to walk toward him. Limping, as he comes.
As peculiar as a struggle between
a 235 pound man, and an assailant
strong enough to subdue him...that
leaves only a single overturned cup
in its wake?
Objection, asking the witness to
My gosh, Alvin, was I supposed to
object every time you did that?
A real. Friendly smile.
That's quite enough horseplay,
Nels, why don't you act your age?
If I did that Your Honor, I'd
Some gentle laughter. Judge Fielding doesn't even bother to look
Any more homely loveable tricks,
and you'll be worse than that.
There's an objection, Your H...
And it's overruled, answer the
question. If you can recall it.
Maybe the assailant straightened
the cabin. And forgot the cup.
Right. In the middle. Of the floor.
Nels nods to himself, as if considering that. So that the jury
will do the same.
I think you testified all the
lights were on. Cabin, mast,
net lights, picking lights...
Yessir, there'd been real heavy fog.
And yet you started the engine
right up. With all those lights
drawing all night, the batteries
had that much charge. Did that
strike you odd?
Didn't think about it at the time.
So no, it didn't strike me odd.
Does it now?
A little. Yes. You have to
You have to wonder.
And lets that sit. Scratches his neck.
You found three batteries, you
say. A D-6 and D-8 in the well.
And a spare D-8 on the cabin floor.
Now I did some measuring down at
the chandlery. A D-6 is one inch
wider than a D-8. It would be too
large for the deceased's well.
He's done some on-the-spot refit-
ting. You could see the side flange
was banged away to make room for
But he had a spare D-6, you said.
Right there. Why not use that?
It was dead. We had it tested.
Maybe the D-6 was the spare and he
had to use it.
Maybe he carried a spare that
was too large to fit. So he'd
have to bang out the flange to
squeeze it in?
No answer to that. The silence rests.
Sheriff, how many batteries and
what size did you find on defendant's
Two D-6's. That's the kind his
well was fitted for.
So the defendant went out fishing
for the night with no spare battery,
I'm curious. The D-6 that was
refitted into the deceased's well.
Was it exactly the same brand and
model as defendant's?
I believe so.
Now you've testified that the
deceased was a heavy man, and hard
to bring out of the net.
Is it possible his head struck the
transom, or the stern gunnel, or the
net roller, as you were bringing him
I don't think so.
You don't. Think so.
He was heavy, but we were real
careful. But I don't remember him
hitting anything, anywhere.
You don't. Remember.
And clears his throat.
Operating this winch you'd rarely
operated before, doing this awkward
job of bringing in a drowned man of
235 pounds...is it possible. Possible
that he struck his head after death.
Possible. But not darn likely.
NELS (turns to jury)
No further questions.
And limps back to the defendant's table. Where Kabuo Miyamoto sits
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Horace Whaley, the county coroner, folds his stork-like limbs
uncomfortably. Searching for the appearance of ease.
...so when the sheriff returned,
you showed him the injury to the
He said, 'Could it be somebody hit
him?' And I said, 'You want to play
Sherlock Holmes, here?'
Shakes his head, with a wry, disgusted smile.
Did you say more?
I said that if I was playing Sherlock
Holmes...I'd maybe look for a...
Japanese person. With a bloody gun-
butt. A right-handed fella, to be
And why. Is that?
Well, I was a doctor in the Jap
theater, in the war. I saw those
kendo wounds, many times. Looked
exactly like this one.
Could you tell me what 'kendo' is?
Japanese stick-fighting. They're
trained as kids, y'know. To kill
And the prosecutor's eyes drift to the defendant. So that the
jury's will do the same. HOLD on Kabuo's regal bearing. His
No further questions.
EXT. STRAWBERRY FIELDS - DAWN
Mist of early light. Two dark figures, little more than
silhouettes, measuring each other with their lethal bokken staffs.
We may think of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, for one is a full-
grown man. The other, eight years old. Dialogue plays in
Hips, stomach, cut. Stomach muscles
tighten as stroke advances...
And STRIKES a fearsome blow, which the child REPELS with startling
proficiency. We can see ZENHICHI's stony face, now. If he is
impressed by his son, he does not show it.
Elbow soft, or there is no follow-
through. You cut your bokken off
from the power of your body, unl...
WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! The boy LASHES fiercely, the man parrying each
stroke with blinding ease.
Hips sink more. Less weight on the
heels, so tha...
CRASH! The father has sent a blow in mid-word, FLINGING the child
like a doll. The boy BOUNCES up, snatching his bokken into ready
ZENHICHI (very quiet)
Zenshin. Is constant awareness.
WHAP! The child has unleashed a blow at the left side of his
father's HEAD. It has been blocked. The staffs rest against each
other, just above Zenhichi's ear. There is no anger in either
warrior. That we can see.
Elbow soft. A little better.
LATER...father and son sit on the ground, eating a small meal.
The sun has risen, angling light across the undulating fields.
They are alone in beauty. A long silence. Dialogue in subtitled
You can be good with the bokken.
If you begin to concentrate.
Eyes on his food. As if alone, as if speaking to himself. The boy
darting glances, unseen, at his father's profile.
You must choose now, Kabuo. At eight
years. If you want this.
I want it.
The father keeps eating. Never turns.
Then speak quietly. So you may be
INT. COURTROOM - MORNING
Whaley stares down the end of his needle-nose. The air of disdain
of a man playing chess with an unworthy opponent.
So this...foam you found in the
lungs. How does it get there?
As I testified. It occurs when
water, mucus and air are mixed by
respiration. I believe I said that.
NELS (slightly confused)
But a drowned person can't breathe.
Of course not. The foam means
that he went in breathing.
That's why the autopsy report
identifies drowning as the cause
Meaning that he wasn't murdered
first, say on the deck of the boat,
and then thrown overboard.
Your report says death by drowning,
which means he went into the water
alive and breathing. And the report
Of course it's accurate, but...
Of course, it is. Now as to the
head injury. You say made by an
object narrow and flat. That is
your inference, correct?
WHALEY (really pissed)
It's my job to infer, that's what
coroners do. You get hit with a
crowbar, or a ball-peen hammer, or
fall off a motorcycle, the injuries
look different, that's my area of
Nels nods. He can be quiet now. The witness distracted from
volunteering the opinions Nels did not wish for.
In your motorcycle example. Those
injuries are produced by the head
being propelled against an object.
Rather than the reverse, yes?
Can you tell whether an object moved
against the head, or the other way
around? Or would both look the same.
So if his head struck something
narrow and flat, the gunnel of a
boat, a net roller, a fairlead,
could that have...
If the head was moving fast enough,
but I don't see how it could be.
Is it possible?
Sure, anything's poss...
Is it fair to say that you do not
know for certain which it was.
I already said that, b...
And that you can't say for
certain whether the head injury was
sustained before or after death?
For certain, no.
But you are certain that he died
For the third time, yes.
Nels nods. Whaley is beyond frustrated.
Can I say something, here?
Yes, you can tell me about the
minor cut you found on the deceased's
right hand. The report says 'recent
origin'. How recent? As much as 24
hours before death?
Absolutely not. Probably one or two
hours. Four at the most.
Are you absol...
Yes, I'm sure.
Nels nods. Silence.
Thank you, Horace. No more
Horace wants to say more. Doesn't immediately move.
We'll take our luncheon recess.
Reconvene at...2 o'clock sharp.
The gavel CRACKS onto the block. Judge Fielding stands to leave,
and the BAILIFF begins to usher the jury from its box. Abel
Martinson, the deputy, stands near as Kabuo rises. As he puts his
hand gently on Kabuo's arm, the defendant turns smoothly...
...to face a woman. Standing at the rail. And beneath the
How are the kids?
The voice so colloquially American, we are taken back. Having
envisioned Kabuo as a silent Samurai.
They need their father.
The look holds. Abel increasingly uneasy.
Well. Just a few more days.
Look, Art's gonna want me t...
KABUO (ignoring him)
You look beautiful.
Abel grasps his arm.
I look terrible. Don't sit so
straight like Tojo's soldier. The
jury will be afraid of you.
He thinks about that. Abel tugs him.
Okay, I'll hide under the table
from now on. That make you happy?
And for the first time. He smiles. And seems suddenly very
American indeed. She stares back, her heart in her eyes. Abel
tugs harder, but he can't budge the defendant.
I'm not going until you smile.
But she doesn't. So his fades. One last look. And he lets Abel
lead him away.
HOLD on her. Watching him go.
EXT. MANZANAR INTERNMENT CAMP - NIGHT
Stars above a desert. Wind gusts. PAN barbed wire, rows of dark
barracks blurred by swirling dust, to...
...a fragile tar paper structure, its 'walls' rippling pre-
cariously. And inside, to see that it is...
INT. BUDDHIST CHAPEL - NIGHT
...a makeshift sanctuary. Candles, offerings of fruit. A young
COUPLE together before a Buddhist PRIEST. Kabuo and Hatsue.
INT. BARRACKS - LATER
A cramped, ramshackle room. Dust blowing through gaps in the
flimsy beams. Kerosene light. FUJIKO IMADA hangs the last of
the woolen army blankets to divide the room in half, as her four
youngest DAUGHTERS watch. We PUSH THROUGH the blankets to the
other side, to see...
...the newlyweds. Standing at a window in their wedding clothes.
Kissing. Slow and full. Until she whispers into his ear...
They'll hear everything.
And her young husband turns. Speaks to the curtain.
There must be something good on
She giggles. His hands trace her body.
Wouldn't some music be nice?
And in a moment. The MUSIC begins. Glenn Miller. A song that
sent our boys off to war. And our young American prisoners...
...begin to undress each other. Her slender fingers find the
buttons of his shirt, deftly undoing it, as he kisses her face.
He unclasps her dress. And as it falls from her shoulders, falls
to the floor, we PUSH INTO her eyes, and...
INTERCUT her MEMORY of...
...a beach. Two 10-year-old CHILDREN floating on the water.
Clinging to a wooden box, with a glass bottom for fish-watching.
The girl is Asian. The boy is not.
Ishmael. See the yellow one?
And the boy wriggles around, leans over the box, as if seeking a
better view. And KISSES the girl. Full on her startled mouth.
BACK TO...the newlyweds. On their cot now. Close together. Naked
and hungry for each other.
Can the music be louder, please?
We can't hear so good in here!
The girl laughs soundlessly. And as the music BLARES, he has slid
his body above hers. A whisper...
Have you ever done this?
A whisper back, sure and strong...
Never. You're my only.
And as he enters her. As she holds him close with all her
strength. Her lips breathe into his ear...
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hatsue watching her husband disappear through a door. RACK FOCUS
to see across the way. A man stares at her.
Course, we grew up together.
INT. IMADA PARLOR - DAY
Hatsue at 12, sits with an OLD WOMAN who guides her silently,
exquisitely, through the ritual of the tea ceremony.
Her mom had this Mrs. Shigemura
come on Wednesdays. Teach her
how to be Japanese.
The woman turns the cup in her hands. One-quarter turn. Bows
slightly, as she presents the tea.
Dances, calligraphy. Doing her hair.
How to sit without moving...
EXT. HOLLOW CEDAR - DAY
Hatsue and Ishmael, both 12, are sprawled on the ground, sheltered
in the hollowed-out base of a cedar tree. They watch the rain as
it pummels the woods around them. She is speaking, carefully,
thoughtfully. He listens with complete attention.
She would tell me stories of
this woman and her lessons. As
if complaining, or at least ex-
plaining her world...
He shifts his position, his body brushing against hers, which makes
him reflexively pull away. She seems not to notice.
But I always fantasized. The
lessons were for me.
INT. BEDROOM - DAY
Hatsue sits at a bedroom mirror. Mrs. Shigemura watching
analytically, as Hatsue weaves her hair into a thick plait.
No. You must never look at a man
directly. This is part of grace.
The girl smiles a small sour smile. Speaks quietly...
I don't think the boys on this
island. Are impressed. By grace.
The old woman studies her without irritation.
Hakujin know nothing of life, Hatsue.
Apparently, the girl has heard this before.
This is why they fear death. Because
life here is separate from Being.
The girl takes a long pin. Begins carefully to fasten her hair.
Breaking eye contact with the mirror.
It is why they have no soul.
Is the girl even listening? The old woman's voice never rises.
Life embraces death, includes it.
This truth brings tranquility. You
must see yourself...
...as a leaf. On a great tree.
No irony in the girl's voice. No disrespect. The old woman reads
the young face in the mirror.
The pin. Could be better placed.
INT. SAN PIEDRO REVIEW - DAY
CLOSE on 12-year-old Ishmael. Neutral eyes. Eating an apple. A
horrific CLANGING surrounds us. The clash of metal on metal.
My lessons came from my father. They
were different. Or seemed so, at the
See ARTHUR CHAMBERS now, at the printing press, an enormous lime
green contraption, with rollers and conveyor pulleys in a cast-
iron housing. The shrieking of metal and gears recalls an ancient
He operated the Review alone, with
an integrity and passion for principle
that made him a figure of respect. If
slightly larger than life.
Arthur is a large, rugged man, with round gun-metal rimmed
spectacles and garters on his shirtsleeves. He wears the soft,
perpetual smile of an Oxford Don, as he gracefully ducks in and
out of the machine, inspecting plates and printing cylinders.
He never spoke of wanting me to
succeed him. And, in truth, it was
the last job on earth I thought I'd
The boy rises now. Sets his apple carefully aside. And under his
father's supervision, takes his place operating the press. His
arms inches from the fearful clatter of the rollers.
When I was five, he casually mentioned
that if his sleeve got caught in the
press, he'd be instantly popped open
like a child's balloon, and splattered
across the walls.
Watch Ishmael running the monster, coolly, efficiently, with
Even his bones would disappear, to
be discovered later on the floor,
as strips of white confetti.
Arthur turns away, lest his son feel a lack of confidence. Picks
up the boy's apple. A crisp BITE.
Which, of course, made me certain that
life would have no meaning until I
could run that teakettle.
EXT. MAIN STREET, AMITY HARBOR - SUNSET
Arthur and Ishmael, now 17, strolling Main Street in the midst of
what seems a festive carnival.
He was, for better or worse, the
only God in my life. I guess it's
our nature to resent those we know
we can never measure up to...
They are passing modest parade floats, booths with food and games.
A genial crowd of farmers, fishermen, families, both races
heedlessly mingling. A community. Arthur unselfconsciously slips
his arm over the shoulder of his tall son.
...which keeps us from accepting
the warmth. The way we should.
Up ahead, a crowd has gathered at the steps of the courthouse.
Every summer, after harvest, the
Strawberry Festival was Dad's favor-
ite story to cover. Good news was
his preference. Making him an oddity
As we approach, we see a ceremony begin at the top of the
Highlight was crowning the Strawberry
Princess. Always a Japanese girl,
sort of an unwitting virgin sacrifice
to the concept of racial harmony.
We are there now. Arthur pulling down the same box camera Ishmael
would use years later. Focusing up at the MAYOR, as he places the
crown on the radiant young girl...
Senior Year. It was Hatsue.
And as the applause ripples through the crowd. As the Strawberry
Princess acknowledges her subjects, her eye falls on...
...Ishmael. She drops him a wink. And a special wave.
She winked at me. In public.
Which was unusual.
EXT. SOUTH BEACH - DAY
Two 14-year-olds alone on a beach. Digging for clams in the mud.
I had kissed her once, when we
were ten. Looking at fish through
a glass-bottomed box. It was just
an impulse, and no big deal.
Ishmael pulls back from the deep hole, to make room for Hatsue to
reach down. We can see her fingers explore the shell of the dug-in
He's still got a good grip. We
need to dig more.
At school, she kept mostly to the
Japanese kids, and sort of ignored
me. As if all of our times alone
together...in the hollow cedar,
everywhere...were a secret.
They are digging now, together. Carefully.
I told myself that was good. That
it made our friendship special. And
didn't mean she was ashamed of it.
Easy. Slow is best.
Gently, she begins to dislodge the clam from its lair.
I thought about her. Sometimes,
all the time. I knew I was unhappy.
But I knew if I told her...
She lifts it clear. And as she admires its size and roughness with
her fingertips. As she washes it in the shallows. He watches her
It might be a mistake. I could
I like you.
The words make her turn. Not startled, exactly. Alerted. But
neutral, without affect.
Do you know what I mean, Hatsue?
I've always liked you.
There is no answer. He leans slightly closer, and she looks
down. This is the moment. Afraid and driven, he moves slowly
to her face. And puts his mouth against hers. She lets him and,
encouraged, he pushes harder, making Hatsue...
...lose her balance, and planting a hand beneath the water to
support herself, eyes closed too tightly, she kisses Ishmael for a
long moment, before...
...leaping up, snatching her clam pail and running AWAY down the
beach like a deer. He stands slowly. To watch her go.
I knew in my heart that we would
love each other forever.
His face is slack and unsmiling, but he is helpless with happiness.
Contemplating this truth.
The way she kissed me. She knew
EXT. IMADA FARM - DUSK
Ishmael crouching at the edge of the farm, in near-darkness.
She avoided me for a week.
Across the distance, the screen door opens, light slips across the
porch. Hatsue appears with a wicker basket, to take the laundry
from the line.
So this way, I could see her
He watches, rapt, as she unpins and folds the clothes, clenching
the clothespins in her teeth. Then reeling the line again, elegant
hand over elegant hand...
I was certain everything would
She corrals the long sweep of her hair, knotting it deftly, before
EXT. STRAWBERRY FIELDS - DAY
Children working fields in sunlight. Kneeling in the rows. Hatsue
with a half-dozen Japanese girls, her hair loose, her face lightly
sheened with sweat. She works with efficiency and grace, filling
Three rows away. Ishmael watches. The fear not far beneath the
surface of his quiet, dark features.
By two weeks, I knew I had made
the defining mistake of my life.
Hatsue's gaze drifts slightly in this direction, and Ishmael looks
DOWN rapidly at his work. Cheeks burning, certain she is watching.
Which she is not.
I'd ruined everything.
LATER...end of day. The young pickers turning in their flats as a
gentle rain begins. Hatsue counts her money, slips it into her
...runs lightly off, into the growing rain. Ishmael sees.
Stricken to his soul with longing. And indecision.
EXT. CEDAR GROVE - DAY
Hatsue, drenched, alone with her thoughts in the protection of
the hollow cedar. The rain is driving now, and she glances up.
At something we don't see. And watches it. Finally...
You followed me, huh?
PULL BACK to see him. Rain pelting off his poor soaked form. She
is waiting for an answer. So...
Sorry. It sort of...happened, I
just...I followed you. I'm sorry.
She pulls her hair behind her ears. A movement which stretches her
I'm all wet.
She starts refastening her hair now, looking away. He comes
inside, crouches as respectfully far from her as he can. Which is
close. He watches her, watches her, and...
I'm sorry I kissed you on
No reaction. As if she hasn't heard. Now his heart is beating
straight through his chest.
Let's just forget about it.
Forget it happened.
She picks up her damp straw hat. And, eyes down, tracing a finger
around its brim...
Don't be sorry. I'm not sorry
His heart bursts within him. And he struggles to keep it from his
face. Even though she isn't watching.
She turns her face to him, and offers a small smile. It is
genuine, and therefore dazzling to the boy. She lies back on
the ground. Her eyes so unafraid and direct.
Do you think this is wrong?
He swallows. Staring at her lying there so comfortably.
The best part was that there was a
'this'. To debate the wrongness of.
Your friends would. Your dad would
kill me with a machete.
We're Japanese, not Mexican, Ishmael.
He'll slice you up with a ceremonial
Ah. Better. They are both grinning now.
My mom. Would be the problem.
Why? We're only talking.
Her eyes flicker. The synapse that a woman can offer a man.
And touches his hand. With her fingertips. The barest whisper...
I can't hear you.
Thus invited, he leans down over Hatsue. Kisses her mouth with all
the tenderness in him. This time, her eyes close gently. And her
body arches slightly, into his.
We kissed for half an hour, that
first time. And I knew there would
never be another day like it.
Rain POUNDING now. A curtain of water, sealing them from the
No matter how long I lived.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
CLOSE on Ishmael, once more in the row of reporters. Absently
kneading the stump of his amputated arm. The way some men drum
...you were acquainted with the
defendant and his family.
ETTA HEINE is a linebacker in a dress. Stout and German and wary.
She is 57, and pulls her hem down tight below her knees.
Him and his folks and two brothers
and two sisters worked our land.
Lived in a picker's cabin at first.
So the defendant knew the deceased,
your son, even then.
They fished t'gether. Went to school.
Carl Junior treated him like a white
person. Like any friend.
Said not with pride, but regret.
But the dispute began. With the
INT. HEINE FARMHOUSE - DAY
Etta twenty years younger, watches stoically from the parlor
window, as her husband CARL SENIOR strools the strawberry fields
with Kabuo's father Zenhichi. Carl is a huge rawboned man, and
puffs a pipe as Zenhichi stops, sweeps his arms this way and that.
Etta knows trouble when she sees it.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Etta pours her husband's coffee. It is very quiet.
Don't sell, Carl. You'll regret it.
Only seven acres, and the worst
seven, at that. They're decent
folks. They got five hunnerd to
put down now.
Don't go wavin' new church clothes
at me. We're not such paupers as
sell to Japs, are we? For what, a
pouch of fancy pipe tobacco?
She walks about the kitchen with her arms folded. Too upset to
They work hard, live clean, don't
spend nothin'. Even kind to the
Indjuns. People is people, comes
down to it.
Etta turns sharply. Glares at the big man. He just blinks
blandly, puffs his pipe. She can see this ship has sailed.
You wear the pants, doncha? Go
ahead, sell our land to a Jap and
see what comes of it.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hooks pacing, slow and calm. This part needs to be clear.
But back in '34, Japanese-born
could not own land. So...?
Carl held it for 'em. Called it
a lease. They make payments every
June and December...
Why? If they could never take title.
Their kids was born here. So when
the oldest, that one there, was
twenty...last payment gets made,
and he could own it.
She folds her hands. Looks Kabuo square in the eye.
But they missed their last two
payments. So that was that.
INT. FARMHOUSE KITCHEN - DAY
Carl Sr. and Zenhichi sit at the table. There is coffee. But it
is untouched. Etta watches by the stove.
March 1942, orders came down. Japs
had eight days before the Army was
gonna cart 'em off.
Carl lights his pipe. Compassion in his broad weathered face.
CARL SR. (softly)
Eight days. It ain't right.
We must leave everything. If you
like, you can work our fields, sell
berries, keep the money. Otherwise,
they just rot.
Japs are shrewd. Offer berries he
can't use. Soften us up about those
two payments still to come.
And sure enough, Zenhichi produces a neat stack of bills. Puts
them on the table.
Today, I have $120 toward next paym...
Absolutely not, Zenhichi. I'm not
gonna take your savings at a time
The small man spreads the bills out. On the table.
Please, you take. Then, I send more
from where I'm going. If not enough,
you still have seven acres strawber...
Thought you was givin' us those.
And everything. Stops.
Didn't you come in here givin' them
away? Now you want $130, after our
labor and fertilizer. Is that what
you come here hopin' on?
Zenhichi keeps his anger within. His face is stone.
I spit on him, and he's pretending
it didn't happen that way. How could
anyone trust people like that?
You want more coffee?
No, thank you. Take money, please.
But Carl is staring at his wife. She stares right back. Carl
turns, slides the money toward Zenhichi.
Etta's been rude to you, and I
apologize for that. You keep this
money, and those payments will work
out fine. Somewhere down the road.
INT. PARLOR - TWILIGHT
Silence. Palpable. Two figures sit at opposite ends of this
darkening room, each under a lamp. Carl Sr. is reading the paper.
His face is stone. Etta at a small writing desk strewn with bills
and ledgers. Her face is angry.
A screen door opens. Slams shut. Big footfalls coming. No one
Look at this!
He stands in the doorway. A bamboo fishing road in his giant hand.
Kabuo loaned it to me. Til he
And his parents stare back him.
It's great for sea-run cutthroat.
The ferrules are smooth, silk wrapped.
Take that back. And do it now.
The big young face is stunned, hurt.
I told Kabuo I'd take ca...
Those Japs owe us. I don't want
nothin' confusing that.
The boy looks to his father. Who says nothing.
I said now, boy. Supper's in
Crestfallen, defeated, the boy backs away. Hear his footfalls.
The screen door SLAM hard.
And Carl Sr. looks at his wife. No sound, until...
We ain't right together.
The words are flat and straight. Etta stoic.
You and me. We just ain't right.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hooks settles back. His butt on the edge of the prosecutor's
table. The soul of patience and clarity.
You said neither of the last two
payments were made. But your husband
told defendant's father that he could
pay them...what, 'down the road'.
And straight back...
Road ended October 1944, when my
husband passed away.
She nods. That's all there was to it.
I sold all the land to our
neighbor, Ole Jurgensen. Got
a fair price, this time. And...
Straightens her spine. To deliver the clincher...
Sent all their equity back to those
Japs down in California. Which I
didn't have to do. Specially since
my boy was out in the Pacific, gettin'
shot at by Japs at the time.
Hooks pauses. As if drinking this in.
Now defendant's father had also
died by that point. Where was
the defendant? When you sent
his family their equity.
In the war. Europe, I believe.
They could hardly send him to the
Pacific, could they?
Kabuo watching the woman. Eyes as hard as her own.
And when he came home. Did he
write you about this? Or phone,
Just showed up at my door, big as
life and twice as mean. Wanted to
talk to my son.
INT. ETTA'S APARTMENT, AMITY HARBOR - DAY
Kabuo stands at the open door. No one is inviting him inside.
He's over the ocean, fighting the
Japs. They're just about licked.
And there it sits.
When Mr. Heine passed away, I
couldn't farm the place myself,
could I? You're gonna have to talk
to Ole abou...
I just did. He didn't know we were
one payment away. You didn't tell
him Mr. Heine promised my fath...
I was s'posed to tell him there's
some illegal contract muddling things
up? You folks didn't make your pay-
ments. In America, bank comes in and
repossesses your land. I didn't do
Kabuo stands. Calm, unblinking.
Nothing illegal. Wrong is a
Get out of here.
You sold our land out from under
us, Mrs. Heine. You took advantage
of the fact that we were gone. You...
SLAMM. The door has closed in his face. And Kabuo stands there.
As if deciding.
Whether to break it down.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hooks standing at the jury box now. Looking at them, as he asks...
What do you mean by 'dirty looks'?
Well. Every time I see him in
town or somewhere, he's starin'
at me with these narrow eyes.
Givin' me his mean face.
When your son came back from the
war, what did he say about all this?
That he'd keep an eye on Miyamoto.
Watch out for him.
Did he see some danger from defen...
Objection. Asking witness to
speculate about deceased's state
All right. What did your son say
to that effect?
She looks up. As if trying to recall.
He said he wished Kabuo would forget
about his seven acres, and stop
lookin' at us cross-eyed.
Hooks stares at the jury. Holds the moment.
And goes slowly back to his seat. Nels waits until his opponent is
seated. Then, rises.
Just three questions. The Miyamoto
family bought your seven acres for
Tried to. Defaulted on their
Second question. What did Ole
Jurgensen pay you per acre?
So that makes what would have been
$4500 into $7000, doesn't it? If
you sent the equity back, you had
a profit of $2500.
Is that your third question?
You done your math right.
The old man wears a thin, cold smile.
You, too. No further questions.
HOLD on Kabuo. As he watches Etta rise heavily from the box.
EXT. DEEP FOREST - FIRST LIGHT
Mist of moments before dawn. As tendrils part, there is enough
light to see...
...eyes. They are Asian. They are razor-keen. PULL BACK to
...Kabuo alone in G.I. gear and helmet. Rifle up high, sweat
on his face, moving soundlessly, turning in a circle as he goes,
...he stops. A heartbeat of silence. Then...
...the BLAST of automatic tracer TEARS through trees, as he WHIRLS
and RETURNS FIRE in a single motion, until...
His heart is pounding. He waits. Waits. Weapon at the ready, he
pushes THROUGH the dense foliage to see...
...the 15-year-old German SOLDIER, splayed on the forest floor, his
chest torn and bloodied. Kabuo's gaze LOCKS with the boy's. The
young soldier's empty left hand reaches out in a a plea, and as
Kabuo steps forward, the boy's right hand comes suddenly...
...INTO view, metal GLINTING in motion, as Kabuo...
...BLOWS the boy AWAY with staccato rifle BURSTS that JUMP the
already-lifeless body like an electric jolt. And falling from the
kid's hand, not a pistol, but...
No expression on Kabuo's face. None at all. He moves on.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
OLE JURGENSEN wobbles slightly in the witness box, hands resting on
the cane planted unsteadily between his frail legs. His eyes leak
water, his beard is wispy and unkempt.
Were those his exact words?
He say Mrs. Heine robbed him.
Mr. Heine never woulda let no
such ting like that hap...
Robbed. He was angry.
Oh, yeh. He said someday he would
get his land back.
Hooks nodding. Nodding.
Mr. Jurgensen. Did he offer to
buy the seven acres from you?
Oh, yeh. But this is nine year
ago, I had my healt, I wasn't
wantin' to sell.
And then your stroke came this
summer. And you put your property
on the market, I believe you said
September 7. Which, remember, is
eight days before Carl Heine died.
And who comes Spetember 7, wanting
Carl Heine came.
Hooks pauses. Lets that sink in.
But Carl was a fisherman. And
successful at it.
He said he didn't want that life
no more. He'd been saving to buy
a farm. He was sorry I got sick.
But pretty excited to get back his
The old man's head bobs. Recalling.
Liesel and me. Was happy for him.
Hooks smiles. As if he would be happy, too. Anyone would be.
And later, that same day. Only
eight days before Carl Heine died.
Did another prospective buyer appear?
EXT. FARMHOUSE PORCH - DAY
Ole sits in a wicker chair at a wicker table. His wife LIESEL is
setting out cold drinks. But their visitor stands rigid,
I'm sorry to tell you, we took his
earnest money, he shook Ole's hand.
Come November, he'll sell his boat,
and take over the farm.
Kabuo is thunderstruck.
But your sign...
We din't have no time to take it down.
He just come ten o'clock.
Kabuo nods. His voice is soft, but his eyes are steel.
It's my fault. I should have come
He looks so odd, perhaps he's ill. Liesel looks concerned.
If you want t'buy them seven
acres. Carl Heine's the only
fella can sell 'em.
INT. COURTROOM - EVENING
The witness box is empty. The snow outside the windows is falling
in darkness. And Judge Lew Fielding is leaning his frame toward
I apologize for keeping you folks
from your families in a storm like
this. I do hope you'll be reasonably
comfortable in the hotel tonight. And
one more thing...
He smiles softly.
This Court takes judicial notice of
the fact that tomorrow is the 13th
anniversary of the attack on Pearl
Slight pause. To make sure they are listening.
Which has no relationship to this
trial. Which is why I mention it.
Gavel CRACKS down.
10 o'clock tomorrow, folks. Stay
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR - MINUTES LATER
Hatsue walks briskly down the crowded hallway, her eyes searching
the benches lining the corridor ahead. Her view obscured by the
crowd hurrying to fight the storm. Suddenly...
...she stops. Because there. On a bench. Sits Ishmael. Next to
him, a round Japanese-American baby boy of 11 months. Before him,
squat the boy's sisters, eight and four. All are watching
...manipulating a COIN. It rolls across his knuckles and back
again, with amazing dexterity. Then, he snatches it into his palm.
Holds up his fist. All little eyes are glued. The fist...
...opens. It is EMPTY. There are GASPS.
Know where it is?
It's in my other hand.
The four-year-old LAUGHS. Her big sister socks her. And Mom steps
in. The man looks up, with the sweetest smile.
Your mother went to the bathroom.
She said I could show them a trick.
HE DOESN'T HAVE A OTHER HAND!
Hatsue is not smiling. Nor is she angry. Even awkward comes to
her in a graceful way. She scoops up her son.
Thank you for your help.
(to the girls)
Let's go find obaasan.
And without even glancing at him, she heads off at a brisk pace.
The girls following. The four-year-old turning back to wave once.
And then they are gone.
INT. JAIL - NIGHT
Kabuo stands outside the open steel door of his tiny cell, as Abel
Martinson clumsily unfastens the manacles. A cot, a toilet without
a seat, a bare bulb hanging from a wire. No windows to the outside
world. Only the small barred one in the cell door. As the
manacles fall away...
...Abel removes two objects from his pocket.
This is from Nels, I can't see the
harm. Don't tell Art, okay?
Hands him two CANDY BARS. A Snickers. And a Baby Ruth. Kabuo
looks at them...
In spite of himself. Kabuo smiles. Remembering...
INT. JAIL - DAY
Kabuo sits in jailhouse overalls on the edge of his cot. Motion-
less. On a private journey of the mind. The door CLANGS open...
This here is Nels Gudmundsson,
he's your attorney.
Kabuo looks over. That flat, unsmiling gaze. The old man has a
folded chessboard and a Havana cigar box under his arm. Their eyes
lock, as if the Sheriff weren't even here. And Moran leaves,
closing the door with respectful quiet.
Nels doesn't smile, doesn't speak. Opens the chessboard on the
cot. Opens the cigar box filled with chess pieces, two cigars,
a Snickers and a Baby Ruth. He puts the candy bars by Kabuo's
pillow, a silent gift. Begins to set up the chessboard.
What makes you think I play?
Your daddy played. I asked, down
at the Japanese Community Center.
You smoke cigars?
And offers one up, rough and black.
I'm not sure. I better check
down at the Center.
Kabuo smiles only with his eyes. Nels nods, maybe you better.
Lights his own cigar. Puts the matches and the other cigar at
White or black?
You mean, do I like to take the
offensive? Or hang back and wait.
That seems answer enough for Nels. He turns the board around to
where he has white, and makes the first move.
Nice. When two fellas understand
Kabuo picks up the cigar. STRIKES a match.
white. Kabuo moves a black bishop. Nels' eyes shoot around the
table. He reaches and KNOCKS OVER Kabuo's black king. Kabuo
blinks, studies the board silently. Then smiles.
He unwraps the Snickers bar. Breaks it in half. Hands one piece
across to his lawyer.
SERIES OF ANGLES...
RAPID CUTS, different days, Nels in different suits, chess pieces
in different positions, each time Nels reaching to topple Kabuo's
king. The last time...
Kabuo has to study the board for a beat. Shakes his head.
You must think I like losing.
I think you like learning.
And leans his old bones back against the hard wall.
Me, too. That's why I come.
Pulls out two cigars. Kabuo looks at them.
Bet there's a few things you
could teach me. Kendo, for one.
Sure. I could take a fishing
gaff and split your head open.
Right above your left ear.
No smile. Steady gaze.
You wouldn't even see it move.
You're wonderin'...how come I
never ask. If you did it.
Hands one cigar. Across the chessboard.
Now, you've told me you killed
four men. In Germany. So I know
you are the kind of man who can
kill. When there's a reason.
KABUO (very quiet)
Guess I am.
Takes the cigar. Rolls it between his thumb and forefinger.
You feel guilty. That you took
their lives. That's in your eyes.
STRIKES a match.
Jury sees what I see. More often
Reaches stiffly. Kabuo bends toward him. Accepts the flame.
Takes a puff.
Prosecutor thinks. What was
your reason? To kill Carl Heine.
Kabuo says not a word.
Well, there is the land itself.
Raise your children where you
were raised. Sleep with your
wife at night, 'stead of bein'
alone on the sea.
Brings the match to his own cigar. Careful. Expert.
There's fairness and honor. You
were cheated by that old bitch.
Boy, she is something.
She's not alone.
Worlds within those words.
NELS (a murmur)
None of us are.
And in those.
And prejudice, like you say. Your
people locked in a concentration
camp. You go off to fight for our
country's freedom. Come back to this.
Shakes his head.
But Mr. Hooks has missed the one
reason. One reason. You coulda
A flicker. Behind the defendant's eyes.
I read you Etta Heine's deposition.
So I could watch your mind. Like I
do when you move your rook, or when
I move mine.
A smile now. Very kind. Very sad.
And you weren't thinking about her.
Or about land. Or about you.
No, you weren't. And in the gentlest voice...
No, someone cheats you, you can
rise above that. You're a family
man. You put them ahead of you, hmmn?
He sighs. But...
Wasn't you she dishonored.
And the old watering eyes are rock steady now.
Your father was a strong and
tireless man. Honest to a fault.
Kind, and humble as well...
There is a silence. And then...
KABUO (real quiet)
Nice. When two fellas. Understand
They let that sit.
Now this jury is gonna be lookin'
at the evidence with one eye.
And at you with the oth...
Mr. Gudmundsson, we know what
that jury is looking at.
He won't let hs eyes lie to this man.
Your father needs you. To return
to your family.
So every time you think about
showing that jury strength. Or
honor or composure. Or dignity.
I should show them an American?
Nels sees the rage. It breaks his heart. It makes him feel old
Show them an innocent man.
What he stares at now. Is a neutral mask. As powerful and opaque
as the voice is quiet.
Shame you couldn't play chess with
my dad, sir. He'd kick your ass.
INT. ISHMAEL'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Through glass, snow is tumbling in endless cascades, the world
dwarfed by a descending heaven. A sound, a strange soft CLICK.
...the small, well-kept bachelor apartment. Neat stacks of books
on the floor, catching the overflow of shelves crammed full.
Someone likes to read. Another soft CLICK. To...
...the kitchen now, along the floor. An awkward high-top SHOE, its
buckled straps above elastic LACES that fasten across the instep.
The shoe steps on a crude wooden PEDAL. And we hear another CLICK.
PAN up along a vertical strip of mesh WIRE to...
...a plywood CONTRAPTION, held by a partially closed drawer. A
piece of spring steel holding a set of NAIL CLIPPERS.
Ishmael inserts his pinkie carefully. CLICK. Finishes clipping
the fingernails of his only hand. And looks out. At the magic of
EXT. HOLLOW CEDAR - DAY
Safe within their haven, the 18-year-olds kiss and hold each other
urgently. Their tongues exploring each other's mouth, her legs
open beneath her skirt, pressing her body up against him.
I gave her all of my soul to love.
I knew someday we would live in
France. Italy. Somewhere. Far
from the things that upset her.
ANGLE...later, they lie so quietly. Her head nestled in the crook
of his arm, he gently plays with her hair. Her face so still, so
thoughtful and grave.
ISHMAEL (a murmur)
You don't have to be so tragic,
Ah. Her dark eyes flicker.
Kind of magical, the way you know
how to comfort a girl.
She cuts the irony by sending her fingertips to stroke his.
I can just feel my spirits soar.
Well, I don't do it for just
And kisses her head. But her eyes still stare off into the tangle
of her worries. He draws a breath...
There can't be any wrong in
I lie to my parents every day.
And every night.
His light tone against the fear...
Well. Since I never told your
folks, I guess I'm lying to 'em,
too. But you don't hear me
complaining about it.
She winds her fingers with his. Loyalty against her doubt.
Very soft with...
I'm in awe. Of your strength.
INT. SCHOOL BUS - DAY
Hatsue sits with the Japanese kids. Ishmael with his friends. The
bus filled with stone-faced teenagers listening to the DRIVER, who
brandishes his newspaper at the Japanese side of the bus...
...not just Pearl, they're attackin'
all over the Pacific, the whole
fleet's destroyed. The FBI's in
Seattle right now...
And pauses. His eyes moving from one Japanese face to the next.
Are you listening?
...arresting Jap traitors, the
spies and everything. There'll
be a blackout tonight, so keep your
radios off. So the Japs don't pick
up no signals. You get the message?
Stares them down. Until, from across the bus...
Hey, Mr. Lamberson, over here!
The driver's eyes snap around. The tall boy is waiting.
I have a radio, too. Don't you
want to be sure I got the message?
Ishmael sees the anger. He's not afraid of it.
INT. SAN PIEDRO REVIEW - LATE NIGHT
The horrid CLANGING of the great rattletrap press, Arthur Chambers
ducking nimbly among the rollers.
It was a special edition, an extra.
My father wrote, 'These people are
our neighbors, they have sent their
sons to the United States Army...'
Print flying onto paper as it rolls through the green metal
'They are no more an enemy than
our fellow islanders of German or
Belary-eyed Ishmael, pulling finished copies from the bin. As
he stacks them for delivery, he reads aloud, above the CLASH of
ISHMAEL (sleepy and loud)
LET US SO LIVE THAT, WHEN IT IS OVER,
WE CAN LOOK EACH OTHER IN THE EYE.
AND KNOW WE HAVE ACTED HONORABLY.
Big yawn. It's really late. He turns, and sees...
...his father. Staring at him.
I guess courage never inspires the
young. Until the danger of it bites
EXT. WOODS - TWILIGHT
They walk slowly up the path. An arm around each other's waist,
their bodies brushing as they go...
My father can't get our money from
the bank. We have a few dol...
It'll be over soon. I can get
She stops. By a weathered fence, covered in vines. It's growing
It's not going to get better, okay?
She sighs. He moves close, looks so grave.
They arrested Mr. Shirazaki,
because his farm is near a navy
transmitter. And his family can't
leave their house.
What can he say.
It's just Pearl Harbor. People
are a little crazy, right n...
Look at my face. It's the face of
the people who did that. My father
hardly speaks English. We're in
bad trouble, you have to see that.
He reaches. Touches this face that he loves with all his heart.
Forces up a smile.
Maybe we can fix your eyes.
She leans up. CROSSES her eyes in a goofy expression. Then kisses
his mouth. When she pulls back...
Don't let this hurt us, okay?
And she studies this boy. Knowing more than he can ever
understand. And chooses to whisper...
It won't. You'll see.
INT. IMADA FARMHOUSE - NIGHT
Hatsue and her older daughter are setting the farmhouse table, as
snow drifts down beyond the window. Plates and flatware. Glasses
and napkins. Slowly, in silence, as if a ritual bonding mother and
daughter. She glances to the next room...
...her mother Fujiko plays with the babies. Her father HISAO reads
the paper. Smoking his pipe.
And Hatsue is motionless for a moment. Watching him.
INT. IMADA FARMHOUSE - DAY
CLOSE on Hatsue at 18, staring with silent anger greater than her
HISAO (O.S. shaky)
We are loyal.
PULL BACK to see the room. Hatsue and her sisters side by side,
staring at the table. On it rests a shotgun, four boxes of shells,
a ceremonial sword. An FBI AGENT, a small man in a dark suit, is
tagging each item. He wears a light, perpetual, insincere smile.
Everyone on the island has
Fujiko at her husband's side. She is quietly indignant. He is
AGENT (overly casual)
Well, they'll hold this stuff for
a little bit, then ship it back to
you. It's nothing to worry about.
And walks over to the tansu, a chest of drawers, and begins to
You folks have been real polite,
and we'll be outta your hair in
just a second...
...a silk kimono with gold brocaded sash...
That's very nice. From the old
country, it appears. Very high class.
And lays it on another table. Next to a bamboo flute, a stack of
shakuhachi sheet music.
These are real nice things.
They'll take special care of 'em.
Hisao sees his wife's sudden alarm. And, as respectfully as he can
The flute is precious. The kimono,
the music. Must you take th...
...oh yeh, any old country stuff,
we have to take.
And sees on the sofa, an open album. Strolls over.
This is only my daughter's
scrapbook. For her memories.
So he picks it up. Doesn't see Hatsue stiffen with repulsion, as
he wanders, thumbing through it, toward the hallway...
AGENT (calling out)
Wilson? Don't go pawing through
And chuckles. He knows they appreciate a joke. It means there's
nothing to be afraid of. Stops turning pages now. Looks up, his
eyes moving until they find Hatsue.
Strawberry Princess, huh? You
musta been flattered by that.
Looks just like y...
The soft slamming of a screen door. Another AGENT, large and
shambling in his too-small suit, is carrying a crate. And a
AGENT #2 (quiet triumph)
Dynamite. Twenty-four sticks.
And the crate BANGS onto the table. Just beside the kimono. Lifts
out two sticks and holds them high. Proof.
You must believe. This for tree
stumps. For clearing land.
The small man's smile fades now. First time. And his eyes fix
Hisao before he speaks. As if reading his mind.
Maybe. Maybe. But this is still
Fujiko slips her hand into her husband's. To give him strength.
It's illegal contraband, you were
s'posed to turn this stuff in.
We gotta arrest you. Have to
take you to Seattle.
Fujiko's breath catches. One of the daughters whimpers. The
silence hangs thick and frightening. The bigger agent unhooks a
pair of handcuffs from his belt, but...
Naw, you don't need those. Mister
Eee-ma-da-san here is a class act,
a real gentleman.
The younger girls are crying now, clinging to their sisters. The
agent regrets this.
Please, reconsider. He has done
no bad th...
Well, nobody knows that yet, do
they? So, best for an honest man
to clear his name for godd and all.
Ain't that right?
Only a few questions in Seattle,
okay? Few questions, few answers,
the whole thing is over.
He puts his hand on Hisao's arm. Not roughly, but much firmer than
the ease of his voice...
Simple as that.
INT. FARMHOUSE KITCHEN - NIGHT
Eight pages of a letter, carefully written in Kanji characters,
folded neatly on a table.
Why do I read you this distres-
sing letter? From your father.
From this hakujin...work camp, it
is called. In Montana.
PULL BACK to see mother and five daughters around the table. Even
the youngest girls somber, attentive. As if they have aged these
past few weeks.
Because you need to know the
darkness. In the hearts of the
Not all of them.
The silent wake of her outburst, her interruption, lingers. Her
mother studies her.
The whites are enslaved by their egos,
Hatsue. Each believes his aloneness
is everything. We seek union wi...
...the ones seeking union with the
Greater Life bombed Pearl Harbor.
They are not humble. I am not part
of them, I'm part of here.
Her voice so loud, so insistent. Her sisters are afraid for her.
To have shown such disrespect. They look down at their hands. Or
away, as if not hearing.
FUJIKO (quietly, slowly)
I see this. This lack of purity
is a mist around your soul. I see
it every day, it haunts your face
in unguarded moments.
The room is still as the grave. The mother's eyes burn silently.
I see it in your eagerness to
leave here. And walk the woods.
In the afternoon.
What does she know? Hatsue's heart pounding. And to her surprise,
her mother's voice softens...
If you lose your true self, Hatsue.
The stern warning, the unrelenting judgement, has become a plea.
There is no way back.
INT. ISHMAEL'S KITCHEN - NIGHT
Ishmael washing his supper plate. His fork and knife. His coffee
mug. His skillet. Hard labor with one hand. And as he works, he
...the window above his sink. Darkness and moonlit snow. And his
own reflection. CLOSE on his face in the glass, and MATCH DISSOLVE
INT. SAN PIEDRO REVIEW - NIGHT
...Arthur Chambers. Weary. Worn behind the smile of knowing ease,
as he sips coffee from a mug of his own.
His boy sits across from him in the silent press room. Feet up,
reading their paper. Its headline, ISLAND JAPANESE ACCEPT ARMY
MANDATE TO MOVE.
See, you bring it on yourself.
23 ladies honored by the PTA, you
single out three names. And they're
all Japanese. That isn't journalism.
Ishmael has heard this gently prodding word all his life. He
Because journalism. Is just the
Which facts? You can't print
them all. Journalism is balance.
Finding the facts folks need to know.
The boy looks dryly at his father. SLAPS the page with the back of
Hence. The letters.
Arthur closes his eyes. Recites from memory...
'Seems like you're favoring the Japs,
Art. Writin' all about their
patriotism and loyalty with nothin'
'bout the treachery.'
A smile in the voice. A sad one.
'Your newspaper is an insult to
all white Americans. Please cancel
my subscription and send refund.'
Now the smile is on his face. Even sadder.
The calls are better. 'Jap lovers
get their balls cut off and stuffed
Missed the rest. Hanging up will
Silence. Two men. Watching each other.
We lost the Price-Rite ads. And
Lottie Opsvig's shop, and Larsen's
Lumberyard and the Anacortes Cafe.
And 30 percent of our subscribers.
A deeper silence.
Integrity is expensive stuff, huh?
Valuable things. Sometimes are.
Toasts his son. With coffee.
But. I've got the answer.
A wink. A swallow of Joe.
Print four pages. Instead
EXT. HOLLOW CEDAR - DUSK
They lie so close. Their bodies touching, not moving. Their faces
inches apart, so that every word is a murmur...
You're like me. You've learned
to be devious.
He's never seen her this fragile, this scared. He knows he has to
be strong for her.
It's not devious, it's what we have
to do. You're leaving tomorrow...
He unties her hair. So gently. Tries to keep his smile calm,
You write to my house, and put
Kenny Yamashita's name on the
return address. It's no big deal.
He brings his face to her hair. Kisses it.
You smell like cedar.
Her eyes are wide. They move over his face. A murmured...
So do you. It's your smell I'll
miss as much as anything.
He looks in her eyes. And words come from his heart, before he can
Let's get married, okay?
Her eyes fill with tears. Are they from happiness?
I want to marry you. Is that okay?
Her face so still. One tear falls, and he kisses it.
ISHMAEL (a whisper)
Just say yes.
No answer. Not knowing what to say, she winds an arm behind his
head, and brings him nearer. His mouth opens into hers, with more
force, more of his heart, than he has ever given. Deep and tender.
His hands reach beneath her dress...
...peel her panties down her thighs...
When something that means your
whole life. Is the last time ever...
And suddenly, he is OVER her, drawing her legs up around him...
God should tell you. Or it's not
Her head tilts back, her eyes squeeze closed. And as he enters
Please say yes...
...her hands GRASP his upper arms. And push away.
And he blinks. As if waking from a dream. Everything has stopped.
Her face is strong and yet overflowing with regret.
No. No. It isn't right.
So he draws away. Stunned, uncomprehending. Watching with blank
eyes, as she stares up at him. Then, with dignity and tenderness,
he helps her dress, his eyes awkwardly away from hers...
It felt right to me. It felt
like getting married.
She draws her legs up. Kneeling now, putting her hands on his
But no words come. No words. Until...
I'll write you.
And KISSES him fiercely, and BOLTS up before he can grab her,
RUNNING off like a deer, while he...
...kneels. His mouth open. Like a silent scream.
EXT. AMITY HARBOR FERRY - MORNING
An army truck pulls up behind several others in cold morning air.
Hesitantly, looking in all directions, Fujiko, Hatsue, and her four
sisters climb from the truck, to see...
On Monday, March 30, 1942, the
United States Army graciously
transported the Imada women to
...a ferry, the KEHLOKEN, stands waiting. Soldiers are dis-
tributing tags for luggage and coats. The evacuees, mostly women,
stand in the cold, trying to smile bravely for each other. And
lined against the railing...
Lifelong neighbors came to watch.
Curiosity masked as kindness...
...a cluster of white islanders gawking as their Japanese neighbors
file toward the ferry. A middle-aged woman waves to Fujiko, who
casts her eyes down, refusing to acknowledge the greeting. And
just as they reach the gangway...
...Hatsue sees Ishmael, who stands at an unobtrusive distance,
among a group of students. She pauses. Her eyes hold his for a
...with some exceptions.
The wisp of a smile. And she is gone.
EXT. IMADA FRONT PORCH - NIGHT
Hatsue comes alone onto the white-blanketed porch. Snow is no
longer falling. She takes out a cigarette, lights it impassively.
The mannerisms make her seem fully American, despite the porcelain
impenetrability of her Asian exterior. She closes her eyes, and...
...draws deep on the smoke. The act seems to cause her pain. When
the eyes open, they are frightened, unguarded. Nowhere to turn.
The next puff looks desperate, and she FLIPS the cigarette out onto
the snow. Jams her hands in the pockets of her parka, stamps her
feet against the cold, the helplessness. And looks out...
...strawberry fields, endless and white, shimmering in filtered
EXT. MANZANAR INTERNMENT CAMP - NIGHT
...a moonlit DESERT. PAN the barbed wire, the distant barracks,
the desolation. Come to...
...two women walking alone. The younger one glancing at her mother
as they go. Fujiko's eyes unreadable, stare implacably ahead.
The barracks, everything, in distance behind them.
You think we're far enough
No sarcasm in the voice. She lets the words carry her irony.
Her mother stops. Looks at her so directly, so strong. Even her
tough-minded daughter flinches slightly.
Mom, whatever this is, they don't
keep war secrets this carefully.
Fujiko thinks that over. Nods.
Secrets are hard to keep.
She goes over to a large, flat rock. Sits down. Pulls two sheets
of paper from her coat. And waits. As her daughter comes and
crouches at her feet. Fujiko clears her throat.
This letter. Was opened.
And watches. As the shard of fear penetrates her daughter's mask.
'My love. I still go to our
cedar tree in the afternoons every
day. I shut my eyes, waiting.'
Hatsue has turned to stone. To ice. Wind blows.
'I smell your smell. And I dream
of you. And I ache for you to come
home. So I can hold you and feel
Fujiko scans the page silently. Turns to the second...
'After all these years that we've
been together, I find you're a
part of me. Without you, I have
nothing. All my love, forever...'
And looks up. Her eyes calm, quiet.
The neighborhood boy. Who taught
you to swim?
The look holds. And holds.
You shouldn't have opened that.
It was mi...
FUJIKO (so quiet)
How deceitful of me.
Anger only at the edges. Like finely-honed steel.
How can I ever hope. For your
The wind swirls a cloud of dust between them. They seem not to
I have written this letter to
the boy's parents...
She pulls out a single page. Hands it down to her daughter.
Hatsue's eyes move quickly over the words.
Attraction is no crime, certainly
among children. The dishonor
lies in the concealment. From
Watches her daughter reading. And quietly...
I know that you know this. I know
you have suffered. Even if the
hakujin could not.
Silence. Hatsue's eyes cast down. She folds the page.
There will be no further letters.
No contact of any k...
And stops. Because Hatsue is TEARING the page in two. She looks
up. Into her mother's shock.
One more letter. I will write
it. You may read it, and send
it for me.
Her mother's anger fades. Into interest.
I deceived more than you. I
deceived this sweet boy. And
myself. It was never love.
Never love. The mother's face changes. There is understanding,
acceptance. Even pride.
I will work hard. To earn your
A sigh. A sadness deep, beyond her years.
I can never hope for his.
INT. BARRACKS - NIGHT
Mother and daughter enter their crude quarters. They find Hatsue's
sisters sitting on the wooden floor, watching...
...a team of young MEN, working with tools and pieces of lumber.
One is building shelves, two others, a chest of drawers. Their
leader kneels tacking scraps of tin over the knotholes on the
floor. One girl beams at her mother...
These boys are buildings us
The leader grins and rises. Bows slightly to Fujiko. He is, of
I'm Kabuo Miyamoto, Mrs. Imada.
The woman smiles. Bows slightly in return.
We are in your debt, Miyamoto-san.
How are your parents, your family...?
My father is sick with the camp
food. The rest of us are fine.
Don't speak of dept, please, we
just want to help.
And glances. To the eldest daughter. In the doorway.
Hi, Hatsue, remember me?
She looks back, without expression. There is much on her mind.
His smile is handsome, easy.
I was a senior when you were a
junior. But I've seen you around.
She tosses her hair free of the parka. Gathers it in her hands.
Can't win a smile, but he doesn't seem to mind.
Nice to see you.
EXT. APARTMENT HOUSE REAR PORCH - NIGHT
Ishmael steps from the building onto the rear porch. He draws from
his coat a black CIGAR. Box of matches. The cigar goes into his
mouth. With amazing dexterity...
...he slips a single match from the box, turns his face to the
wall, and still palming the box, STRIKES a match on the buckle of
his belt, bringing it smoothly to the cigar for a few critical
puffs before the match dies. He turns toward...
...the fields. Stretching treeless, endless, seemingly to the
horizon. Bathed in filtered moonlight, they become...
EXT. TARAWA ATOLL - NIGHT
...the shimmering Pacific. We are with Ishmael in an LCVP landing
craft, as his platoon enters Tarawa lagoon. Bobbing past two
DESTROYERS firing in waves at the beach. Ishmael and his platoon
mates watch with adrenaline-fueled fear as amphibious tractors draw
fire on the sand, one exploding in flame.
Her letter reached me on the North
Island of New Zealand. So I had a
month to think it over...
Men around him are shouting, cursing, jostling against each other,
frightened out of their minds, as SHELLS POUND the ocean, horrify-
ingly huge and near.
I wrote her four times. 'I hate
you with all my heart. I hate you,
Hatsue, I'll hate you always!'
Suddenly their craft runs AGROUND on the hidden reef. They are
still 300 yards from shore.
I never sent the letters. I wanted
to kill as many Japs as possible.
MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT,
The SQUAD LEADER goes over the side, Ishmael and others follow,
struggling with 85 pound packs. As Ishmael hits the water, the
squad leader is SHOT in the face, a man five yards from Ishmael has
the top of his head BLOWN AWAY, men are DROPPING in numbers under
the WITHERING BURSTS of fire, the deafening ordnance sweeping over
the SHRIEKS of terror and agony, and Ishmael...
...submerges behind his pack, splashing hard, keeping its bulk
ahead of him as a shield, until he can wade and swim and plunge
toward shore, as hellfire CRASHES everywhere, dead bodies floating,
machine-gun blasts WHIPPING the water's surface, Ishmael at...
...the shallows now, men rising to make a run at the seawall, being
CUT DOWN, Ishmael crouching in the water, watching other men draw
fire, and in a moment's lull, four of them and Ishmael...
...GO for it, lungs BURSTING, pounding MADLY up the sand, one
SHOT DEAD, another SCREAMS as his knee is blown away and goes down
writhing, as three men...
...MAKE IT to the wall. Gasping, puking, shivering with cold and
fright. They have no gear, no weapons. One of them is Ishmael.
He looks back to...
Eric Bledsoe was bleeding to death.
Thirty yards away.
Bullets FLYING everywhere, CHEWING up the sand. The young man
Oh, shit, please, please help me
you guys, come on, help me, fucking
help me, PLEASE...!
And flat against the seawall, three men watch. Not daring to look
at each other.
I knew nothing could save him. Hell,
I didn't have so much as a band-aid.
I also knew I was a coward. For not
giving up my life to try.
EXT. SEAWALL - DAY
Ishmael and his companions have been joined by others. Sixty or
so men mill in the shadow of the seawall. The beach is littered
with dead marines and wounded, calling for help. As Ishmael
glances up, a SERGEANT leaps ONTO the seawall, cigarette dangling
from his mouth...
You pussies are the kinda chickenshits
deserve to have your balls chewed
off real slow when this is over!
Stands with his hands on his hips. The men below him properly
Any man who won't follow me over
this wall is a cornhole-fucker with
a half-inch hard-on wh...
The words CUT OFF by the shell that RIPS THROUGH his spine, OPENING
his shirt front as he PITCHES forward FLAT upon the sand.
No one looks. No one speaks. It never happened.
I wanted to live. And I didn't
EXT. SEAWALL - NIGHT
Ishmael has a carbine now and a field machete. PULL BACK to reveal
300 MARINES all down the wall, a striking force assembled from the
survivors of multiple landings.
Some colonel came down the beach.
Any man who didn't go over the wall
at 2100 would be court-martialed,
disgraced and imprisoned...
Every man lining up now, rifles at the ready.
The captain who followed said shot
They seem more resigned, or is it stunned numb, than terrified.
There is no interaction. Each man dealing with his own insides.
...squad leaders go OVER THE WALL, the firing ERUPTS, and three
hundred marines SCRAMBLE into the teeth of it, mortar and machine-
gun BARRAGE lighting the sky from the row of battered palm trees,
Ishmael SPRINTING, the man next to him goes DOWN, Ishmael TURNS
instinctively, and a shot...
...RIPS into his left bicep, SPINNING him OFF his feet in SLO-MO,
falling to dirt as all goes...
INT. SHIPBOARD OPERATING ROOM - NIGHT
Ishmael feverish, writhing unconscious against the straps that
hold him to a table. All around him, a hell of men and blood
and doctors and limbs and shouted curses they never showed us
My arm was dealt with by a
pharmacist's mate, whose surgical
career was four hours old.
Ishmael LURCHES, his eyes pop OPEN, wild and bleary...
He used a handsaw.
...seeing there, in a corner, on a pile of blood-soaked
...his left arm.
I dream of it, now and then.
The way my fingers curled.
Against the wall.
He blinks at it. Realizing at last that the arm is his...
...fucking goddam Jap bitch!
An ORDERLY turns at the words. Nods. As if he knows.
It was all I could think of to say.
His eyes squeeze shut.
There was nothing more to say.
For a long while.
INT. KABUO'S CELL - LATE NIGHT
CLOSE on a dark blue suit. Clean shirt. Hanging on a hook against
the green wall. PAN ACROSS the bars in the cell door's tiny
window. All is dark out there, and silent. Here...
...the bare bulb glows. Its light throws shadows of castles and
horses across the chessboard.
Kabuo cross-legged on the floor, alone. His back erect. His eyes
calm. Stare at the pieces.
EXT. WOODS - NIGHT
Kabuo at 19 sits on the earth. By a shovel. By a lantern. This
place is shielded by trees. PAN across the ground to...
...his father. Slowly, reverently, placing objects into burlap
sacks, beside a shallow hole in the earth. Wooden swords, hakama
pants, a bokken, scrolls written with care. Dialogue plays in
Your great-grandfather was a
samurai, a magnificent soldier.
The father never looks at the son. Only at his work.
He killed himself. On the
battlefield. At Kumamoto.
The boy knows this. Yet his entire being is focused on every word.
He went to battle with a sword.
Against rifles, mind you. Knowing
what honor required.
An elegant SWORD. Its curved blade gleaming in the lantern light.
He was angry. To the point of
being crazy, yes. But he knew
what honor. Required.
A separate sack, just for this. Folded with respect.
Honor can require loyalty.
It goes into the ground. With the others. He seems nearly
overcome now. By some emotion that sweeps through him. Prompting
the boy to murmur...
These are safe, father. The
hakujin will never f...
...it is the only scale...
Meaning, be still. So the boy is still.
Only scale. In which our worth.
The man gazes into the hole. At his treasures.
Every life ends. And if it ends
dishonored. It is as if...
And turns to his son. To complete the words.
KABUO (in English)
...we have never lived.
There is love. There is strength. There is no more to say.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Sheriff Moran sits in the witness box, blade-thin and fidgeting
ever so slightly. Uncomfortable in the limelight. In his hands
are four pieces of ROPE.
Well, this one here comes off
Miyamoto's boat. Matches all his
others, worn equal and so on. But
this one here...
Holds it up for Hooks. So the jury can see.
...comes off third cleat from the
stern, port side. And it's brand
new. Unlike the rest.
And the next one...?
From Carl Heine's boat. All his
were like this one, three-strand
manila, new condition, braided in
loops. Not bowlined like Miyamoto's.
And the last...?
Found on Carl's boat, too. Starboard
side, second cleat from the stern.
But it doesn't match Carl's lines.
It matches Miyamoto's. perfect.
Ah. Hooks nods. Significant.
So if defendant had tied up
to deceased's boat. With that
last one. Would those cleats
have lined up?
You bet. And if Miyamoto there
had been in a hurry to cast off,
he coulda left this line behind
on Carl's boat.
And replaced it later with the
new one. That's your inference?
Pretty darn clear.
I see. Hooks begins to pace. Toward the jury.
And when you visited defendant on
his boat. The evening after Carl
Heine's death. Did it seem pretty
darn clear to him?
EXT. THE ISLANDER - NIGHT
Kabuo kneeling at the battery well of his boat. He is sliding a
new BATTERY into place. Beside its older companion. He bolts it
down. Starts his engine. He is visibly tense. As he steps onto
the deck, he sees...
...two figures at the pilings. Sheriff Moran makes a cutting
motion across his throat, as Abel moves to grasp the mooring line.
Cut your engine, we're coming
Kabuo doesn't move. The tension has fled beneath the surface. His
face now a mask.
What for, Sheriff?
We have a warrant. To search
He holds it up. Abel looks uneasy, as if expecting anything.
Well, what are you looking f...
A murder weapon. We think you
might be responsible for the death
of Carl Heine.
Kabuo blinks. As if hearing a foreign language. Words that do not
Sheriff, if somebody killed Carl,
it sure as hell wasn't me.
Moran steps from the dock ONTO the boat, Abel awkwardly following.
Then let's get this over with, so
you can get to fishin'. Now, cut
And walks ahead into the cabin, shining his flashlight across
everything. Kabuo follows, killing the engine. And in the sudden
silence, Moran's beam finds...
...the still-open battery well.
You always run with the well open?
I was checking the cables.
Moran's light moves over the batteries.
And says no more. Runs his beam once more around the cabin.
We'll come back, let's take a
look at the stern.
Off he goes. Kabuo's glance goes to the open well. Then follows,
noticing Abel Martinson prowling around the bow. But in the stern,
Moran is shining his light. Third cleat. Port side.
See you replaced a mooring line,
lately. This one's new.
Naw, I had that around for a while.
Sure you did. Help me with this
hold cover, willya?
So Kabuo slides the cover away. They peer in.
There's nothin' to see. I need to
get out there fi...
Art. Looka this.
He has the fishing GAFF. Three-and-a-half feet long. Steel hook
at one end. Hands it to Moran.
There's blood on it.
Fish blood, I gaff fish with that.
Moran carefully examines the object.
You gaff with the hook end.
Blood's on the butt. Where
your hand goes.
Sure. Blood gets all over your
hand, Sheriff, ask any fisherman.
Moran takes out a handkerchief. Holds the gaff with it.
Gonna have this tested. Now you
go home, okay? Wait til you hear
Kabuo's heart is racing.
Sheriff, I can't afford not to
Look, no way I'm lettin' you out
there. In a half hour you could
be in Canada.
Kabuo's face has gone dead. Which makes it seem somehow fierce,
almost threatening. And the sheriff is watching that.
I'm sorry, son. But you're under
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Moran still on the stand. The ropes are gone now. His hands
interlock across his narrow thighs.
Now your testimony was interrupted
yesterday, when that power line
set fire to your mother-in-law's
Art looks really irritated.
How is your mother-in-law?
She's alright, Nels, thanks
And her farmhouse...?
The damage was considerable.
But she's insured. Thanks, again.
See Nels now. Avuncular as hell. Bemused by Moran's annoyance.
Well, just to put it back in
our minds, could you repeat what
you told us. About the type of
batteries you found. One Carl's boat.
Moran sighs. Tries to be patient.
One D-6 and one D-8 in the well.
And a dead D-8 on the deck.
Which you inferred was replaced by
the D-6, which must have been a spare.
What else could it be?
Even though a D-6 is too big, and
the flange had to be banged out to
squeeze it in.
Which makes it a peculiar choice.
For a spare.
You said that. That was your
Everybody laughs. Including Nels.
I guess I'm a pretty smart feller,
after all. And what were the type
batteries you found on defendant's
D-6s. Like I sa...
No further questions.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
DR. STERLING WHITMAN sits in his expensive suit, a giant of a man
whose towering frame ill fits the witness box. His eyes are small
and blue, and carry the weight of superiority with practiced ease.
So the blood on the gaff was not
fish blood at all. It was human,
yes? Type B positive.
Carl Heine's type.
Nels nodding. Seemingly unconcerned by this fact.
But you can't say with any certainty
that the blood was his.
No, but as I say, the type is rare.
Ten percent of Caucasian males.
And the blood could not have
belonged to defendant. Seeing
that his type is O negative.
You scraped the dried blood from
the butt of the gaff. Where a fella's
hand goes. And what did you see under
your microscope, besides the B positive
blood and the wood scrapings...?
And the witness stops. A curious question. But Nels is waiting.
With an expectant smile.
Bits of blood and wood. What else
would there be?
No bits of bone, no particles of
scalp, no strands of hair?
Well, if the blood got onto the
gaff by crushing a man's skull...
I'm a hemotologist, sir, I was
asked only t...
NELS (gently persistent)
...would that seem logical?
I don't know.
Nels lifts the gaff off the table. Looks at it.
The coroner testified that Carl
Heine had a cut. A fresh cut.
Probably one or two hours old.
And grasps the butt end. Of the gaff.
On the palm. Of his right hand.
Walks, dragging one leg just slightly, toward the box. And holding
the butt of the gaff toward him...
With no bone or scalp or hair
present. Would it be more probable
that the blood came from crushing
a man's skull...
I'm a hemotologist, not a detective.
...or from the cut on his hand.
Which is more probable?
Whitman won't be badgered. His smile carries only a trace of
It is not my function. To weigh
Nels looks him over.
And turns his back. Walks away.
...that's the jury's job.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hooks in pin-stripe serge today. Pommaded hair, glossy wing-tips.
He is crisp.
Now this regiment you were training,
the 442nd, this was all Nisei boys...
First Sergeant VICTOR MAPLES wears his green dress uniform,
splashed with decorations. Thick and powerful, no neck, razor cut.
The eyes are alive.
They were Japanese-American boys,
And you were generally experienced
in training men for hand-to-hand
It was my specialty, sir, I trained
several thousand over the years.
So. Wide cross-section of men to
evaluate. And the day that the
defendant volunteered for this...
demonstration. Did you find him
More than eager. He was out to
make a point.
Hooks finds that interesting. Begins to pace.
And what point. Was that.
EXT. TRAINING FIELD, CAMP SHELBY, MISSISSIPPI - DAY
The squad of Nisei recruits, one hundred young Asian faces,
surround Sgt. Maples. He paces before them, holding up a wooden
staff, looking in their eyes...
And Kabup steps forward. Bows slightly. Then salutes...
Maples stares. Hard.
You don't salute me, you don't
call me 'sir', soldier, I'm an
Kabuo stares back. Blank.
And nobody bows in this man's
Army, you're in America, son.
I'm sorry, sir, force of habit.
No more 'sir'. That's the last
Tosses Kabuo a wooden staff and a helmet. A little hard. As Kabuo
slips the helmet on...
The exercise is avoiding thrusts.
Now, first y...
Cut off in mid-word, Maples glares back. Are you? THRUSTS
sharply, but Kabuo moves just enough to slip the blow by no more
than an inch. Their eyes lock. Suddenly, Maples unleashes...
...a SAVAGE series of THRUSTS at blinding SPEED, and Kabuo...
...SLIPS them all effortlessly, scarcely seeming to move. As a man
might toy with a child. Maples studies the face for any trace of
mockery. And sees nothing at all. STABS out, only to have Kabuo...
...SLASH Maples' staff from his grasp, with a move so quick as to
be nearly invisible. Maples clearly STUNNED by the display.
He bends, picks up Maples' staff, hands it to him. And bows.
Slightly. The sergeant is hot. He looks into the faces of this
Nisei regiment, searching for a single smirk. There is none.
Are you ready for some simulated
For combat. Sergeant.
And Maples LUNGES with surprising speed, to be SWEPT off his feet
in a BLUR, lying FLAT on the earth, his head PINNED to the ground
by the tip of Kabuo's staff.
A hush. Kabuo withdraws his staff. Retrieves Maples'...
KABUO (just above a whisper)
Your weapon, sergeant.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Maples smiling easily. Like a guy telling the story in a bar.
Well, what then, sergeant?
What else? I had the boy teach
me kendo. Including...the importance
of the bow.
Everyone laughs. Maples the loudest. Hooks smiles like a regular
And your evaluation of the
defendant? Could he kill a much
larger man with a fishing gaff?
So quickly, there would be no
sign of struggle?
Oh, in a heartbeat.
And the smiles are gone. All around.
Able and willing. Like few men
I've ever seen.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hooks sits against the prosecution table. His demeanor gentle,
respectful. His voice soft.
So the plan was for your husband
to fish through the prime season.
Then, in November, sell the boat.
And you would move onto the farm.
In the box, the widow sits in lovely dignity. Blonde and alabaster
and modest, in her black dress of mourning.
That was his plan, yes.
In the press row, the boys are attentive. An angle they know they
can sell. Ishmael among them, watching with neutral eyes.
Whatever she said, she was Hooks'
star witness. The jury, especially
the men, would not betray this fine
lady with a not guilty verdict. How
could they face her?
Hooks walks slowly toward her. As if she were a precious object,
deserving of reverence.
Can you think back for me to the
morning of September 8? The day
after your husband purchased the
farm. One week before his death.
Can you recall that morning?
INT. BATHROOM - DAY
A bright bathroom, filled with STEAM, filtering the sunlight. PUSH
toward the opaque shower door, TOWARD the sound of rushing water.
And of breathing. THROUGH it to...
...Susan Marie and her husband. Her arms are wound about his neck.
Her legs wrapped around his body, feet locked behind the small of
his back. Carl holds her high with his strong hands, so he can
lick her breasts to the rhythm of the slow, slow thrusts. Her wet
blonde hair is pasted across her face, and her eyes are closed.
The intensity holds us.
INT. PARLOR - MORNING
CLOSE on a paint brush. It rests across the lid of a can of wood
stain. See now...
...Susan Marie kneeling by the table she is refinishing. But her
hands, her body, are motionless. Her eyes stare out the window...
...across the yard. Her towering husband walks beside a smaller
man. Carl is doing the talking. Kabuo's face is stone.
INT. PARLOR - LATER
Susan Marie sits quietly in a rocker, nursing her baby. Her hands
tenderly stroke the feeding infant. But her eyes are attentive.
What could I tell him? There's
my mother to think about. You
know what she'd say?
Susan Marie knows. What Etta would say.
I said I'd think it over, talk
Did he go away angry?
See Carl now, pacing his own parlor like a caged bear. Agitated in
a way we could not have expected.
He kept talkin' about those seven
acres belonged to his father, and
how honorable and decent his father
was. His meaning was pretty clear.
And I didn't much like it.
You had a scrap.
Nursing her baby. Calm, direct.
I couldn't...talk to him. Look,
Kabuo's a Jap. And I don't hate
Japs, but I don't like 'em neither.
It's hard to explain if you weren't
in the war, you know?
He's not a Jap. You don't mean
that. You and he were friends.
And Carl turns. Looks at her. A full beat.
We were kids.
He looks helpless. Frustrated. He doesn't want his anger to spill
He leaves the room. Without a word. HOLD on her.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Susan Marie's cornflower eyes are set. Wary.
So your husband said he's think
it over. Encouraged Mr. Miyamoto
to believe he might sell to h...
I wouldn't say encouraged.
Well, he didn't say 'no', did he?
Didn't say no hope existed.
Not in those words.
So the defendant was encouraged
to hope. Or could have been.
She thinks about this.
I guess so.
Nels is nodding. Nodding.
I guess you'd have to guess.
Not having been there with them.
Having to guess whether your husband's
report was word for word accurate.
Carl never lied.
Of course not. But it was
emotional. A friend's plea set
against his mother's attitude.
And then. As if it had just occurred to him...
Those 'dirty looks'. Defendant
ever aim one of those at you?
He had no reason to.
Carl ever say he got one?
I can't speak for him.
You can speak for what he said.
Just like you did for Mr. Hooks...
Objection, badgering the wi...
CLICK. All the lights in the courtroom go OUT. A loud murmur. A
FLICKER of light. Then, they go OUT again.
The crowd BUZZES, laughs, the gavel RAPS. The lights come ON. A
collective sound of relief. The gavel AGAIN. Finally, silence.
Sorry about that, Mrs. Heine.
Shall I repeat the ques...
Carl said he didn't like Kabuo
A silence. A deep one.
The question is more about the
That's all he said.
She arches her throat.
And we can't ask him anymore.
INT. ISHMAEL'S DESOTO, CENTER VALLEY - TWILIGHT
Ishmael driving an aged DeSoto through the blanketed strawberry
fields of Center Valley.
My father had bought the DeSoto
fifteen years before. Driving it
reminded me of him. Which I
considered a neutral fact...
He turns the wheel, using a cherry wood knob, specially mounted for
Actually, it was pleasant.
Following the curve, fields are pure white to the horizon.
Snow made all the fields into one.
The notion that one man might kill
another for a small patch, made no
Up ahead, a Willys station wagon has run into a ditch. A middle
aged Japanese man is working at a rear wheel with a shovel.
But I knew such things occurred.
Having been to war and all.
The man is Hisao Imada, and we can now see his eldest daughter
working with a shovel behind the car. Ishmael pulls up behind
them. And gets out.
He crunches over to where Hisao works...
May I give you folks a lift?
Hatsue has come around the car now, pulling her snowflaked hair
from her eyes.
I didn't look at her. I thought
that would be best.
Her eyes on Ishmael's profile, Hatsue goes to her father's side.
Murmurs to him in Japanese. WHen he answers, she turns to face
My father is grateful for your
kindness. But he will free his
Ishmael smiles softly. This car isn't going anywhere. He goes to
Hatsue, reaching gently for her shovel.
Okay, I'll help.
INT. DESOTO, SOUTH BEACH DRIVE - TWILIGHT
Ishmael drives with Hisao beside him.
I know it's caused you trouble.
But don't you think the snow is
beautiful, coming down?
His eyes flick to Hatsue in the rearview mirror. She stares out
the side window, concentrating on the world. Two strands of wet
hair pasted against her cheek.
Yes, very beautiful.
Suddenly, her eyes SNAP to meet Ishmael's in the mirror. His dart
away. Hers hold.
This trial is unfair. You should
write about that in your newspaper.
He keeps driving. And he keeps his eyes on the road.
What should I say?
Just that. This trial is wrong,
they are calling a good man a killer.
It is only about prejudice, and that
He thinks. As he drives. Hisao Imada silent beside him.
We all expect the world to be fair.
As if we have some right t...
I don't mean everyone. Just people
who can do things because they can
arrest people or convict them. Or
run a newspaper.
And his eyes come up. Meet hers in the mirror.
Maybe I should write a column.
What do you think?
She studies his face.
What do you think?
No smile. On either side.
I think people. Should be fair.
His eyes on the road now. The farmhouse seen through the drifting
screen of white.
Will you write that?
Her voice is soft. The difference is palpable.
I might just.
His voice is kindness and friendship.
I was part of her life again. I
was a person.
EXT. COAST GUARD LIGHTHOUSE, POINT WHITE - DUSK
A tower of reinforced concrete, rising a hundred feet above the
sea. Ishmael's hand in his pocket. Trudging toward it.
INT. LIGHTHOUSE RECORDS ROOM - DUSK
Ishmael being led into a cramped room, stacked floor to ceiling
with wooden crates, file cabinets, duffel bags. Our host is
LEVANT, a young Coast Guard radioman nearly six foot six, with a
huge Adam's apple, and kinky black hair. He gestures around the
room at all the records. Voila.
You have the night watch? On the
Since September. Last guys got
Ishmael looks around. There is a lot of stuff.
And you keep the records, or
contribute to 'em.
Shorthard the radio transmis-
sions, write 'em up, file 'em
in a cabinet. Nobody ever looks.
Just take up space.
Ishmael nods. Guess so.
All kinds of radio transmissions?
Fisherman in trouble, and such.
Innocent question. Random example.
All kinds. Make yourself at home.
And leaves. Ishmael looks at the task before him. Then, out
the window. Dark now. His reflection stares back. As troubled
as he is.
INT. PETERSEN'S GROCERIES - DAY
Ishmael at 24, carrying milk and crackers down the aisle of a
grocery store, the empty sleeve of his mackinaw pinned up at the
elbow. He turns the corner to see...
...three people in line at the register. The second is Hatsue. An
infant carried at her shoulder.
I'd been back two months. It was
the first time I'd seen her.
He joins the line. The CHECKER glances his way, then looks
awkwardly down. This makes the others turn. And Hatsue's eyes.
The voice, the face, are cool and formal. There is no anger, no
unkindness. Only the absence of warmth. Ishmael nods. His face
hard, stricken. His heart pounds in his throat.
I couldn't say anything. I just
stood there, hating her.
I'm sorry about your arm. Kabuo and
I. Are very sor...
The Japs did it.
No one knows where to look. Down, away, anything. But Hatsue
They shot it off. At Tarawa.
She holds her ground, her eyes soften, somehow. Somewhere between
compassion and pity. Her slender fingers stroke the baby at her
I'm sorry, I'm sorry I said that.
All the feeling comes to his eyes. Everything he will never tell
her. A murmur...
I'm sorry about everything. All
He drops his milk and crackers on the counter.
And walks away.
INT. LIGHTHOUSE RECORDS ROOM - NIGHT
Ishmael sits alone. Beyond the glass, a SEARCHLIGHT sweeps the
sea, the snow-covered shore. But Ishmael stares at a folder. Open
in his lap.
September 16. At 1:42 A.M., the
dead of night. The S.S. West Corona,
a Greek-owned freighter, was lost.
In heavy fog.
His finger. Traces a line of the report.
They radioed to the lighthouse.
They would have to dogleg, bisecting
Ship Channel Bank. And Seaman Philip
Milholland wrote that down. In his
Ishmael closes his eyes.
Carl Heine drowned. In Ship
Channel Bank. And his watch
stopped. At 1:47.
He looks out through the glass. As if he could watch it happen.
A huge freighter plowing through.
Throwing a wake big enough to fling
any man overboard.
And Ishmael removes the page from the file. Slowly, he folds it
into quarters. Slides it into his coat pocket.
ISHMAEL (calls out)
And closes the file. Slips it back into the cabinet. Levant
appears, vaguely irritated by the summons. So Ishmael smiles.
Sorry, nothing important.
How long you have this detail?
Me and Smoltz came on dogwatch
Ishmael's face. Just to clarify...
You mean, early morning the 16th?
No, night of the 16th, morning the
17th. We replaced two guys named
Miller and Milholland.
Oh. Ishmael nods.
They got transferred that day.
Out to Cape Flattery.
Some seaman's loast report.
Stuffed in a cabinet, good as
lost forever. No one knows.
Ishmael rises, stiffly. Starts to pull on his coat.
You get what you come for?
And Ishmael looks at the youngster. A little oddly. Admits...
Guess I'm not completely sure.
What that was.
EXT. FLETCHER'S BAY - MORNING
Ishmael at 24, crouched among trees. Above a sunlit stretch of
I left the grocery, and wrote a
letter. I apologizes from my heart.
I should never have said that word
to her. I never would again.
CLOSE on his face. Eyes gazing down. At something.
It sat in my desk for two weeks.
Before I threw it away.
He sighs. Rises slowly.
I knew her car. And sometimes
when I'd see it, I'd...drive that
way. At a distance.
See Hatsue down on the beach. Alone, raking for steamer clams.
Her baby beside her on a blanket, beneath an umbrella.
Ishmael walks down to the sand. Crosses to where she works. And
squats down. At a respectful distance.
Can I talk to you?
She must have seen who was coming. Because the words do not
startle her. Or slow her work.
I'm married, Ishmael. It isn't
right for us to be alone. People
There's no one here, and I've got
to talk to you.
Her back is to him. She is motionless.
Don't you owe me that?
And she turns. Her eyes go first to her sleeping child. Then she
walks over, and sinks to the sand. Just before him. Near enough
She looks in his eyes. And waits.
I'm like a dying person.
The words just came out. His eyes move over her face. His aching
for her is naked, beyond his ability to cope.
I don't sleep. I tell myself this
can't go on, but it goes on anyway.
He seems at the edge of insanity. Or tears.
I did a terrible thing, Ishmael.
I knew what you felt. And what I
Sadness in her voice. But strength as well.
And I never found the courage to
His eyes swim with tears. He chokes them back, he has to.
You'll think this is crazy, but all
I want is to hold you. Just once.
And smell your hair.
She absorbs this. No sign of repulsion or anger. Her eyes seem
wise. And very sad.
You have to hear this, I can
never touch you, Ishmael. Not
once, not ever. There's no half-
way. As much as I know it hurts
you, you have to let this go.
Look, I want to forget you, I do.
I think if you hold me, just this
once, I can walk away and never
speak to you again.
She just keeps looking at him. There is a bravery to her steady
gaze. Her calm resolve.
Please? As one human being to
another, just because I'm miserable
and don't know where to turn. I
need to be in your arms. If it's
just for thirty seconds.
His pleading look holds her for a moment. In the silence...
I hurt for you. Whether you'll
ever believe that or not.
Feeling behind her eyes. First time she lets it show.
I feel sick sometimes, with the
guilt of what I've done to you.
And I can't make it right.
She rises slowly. Brushes the sand from her skirt.
To hold you would be wrong and
deceitful. You're going to have
to live without holding me, that
is the truth of the way things are.
She takes one step back.
Things end. They do. Get on
with your life.
And turns away. She gathers her baby in her arms. Takes her
blanket, her umbrella, her rake and her pail. He watches, never
moving, as she gathers her things. Gathers them as if he wasn't
there. And with her back turned...
Get on with your life.
She walks slowly away. Her baby cries.
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
CLOSE on a steaming soup kettle, resting on a woodstove. A woman's
hand stirs with a wooden ladle. PULL BACK to see...
HELEN CHAMBERS, slender and strong and keen. She is not yet 60. A
code of fairness and self-reliance is written on the fine-boned
I drove from the lighthouse to
my mother's place. I brought
her some groceries.
Beyond the window, snow falls more heavily than ever. Silent.
Your father thought that heavy snow
was God's kindness. Despite the
hardship, it brought us beauty...
Ishmael at the rustic table. Watching her back.
...and reminded us. Of our place
Softer. Not bitter, but regretful that...
You don't believe in God anymore.
Agnostics don't believe or disbelieve,
Ma. We just don't pretend we know.
She begins ladling the soup into big porcelain bowls.
We don't know God, we feel Him. You
felt Him as a child. I remember.
And turns. Looks at him.
That's a long time ago. What a
child feels...that's different.
She studies him silently for a moment. Then brings the bowls to
Spend the night, will you? Don't
go back out into all that snow.
Sets them down.
I felt Milholland's report in my
pocket. And wondered why I wasn't
telling her. Telling someone.
What I'd found.
You've been busy with that trial,
I suppose. Such a travesty...
She takes her seat. As he watches her.
They only arrested that poor soul
because he's Japanese.
Seattle boys think he's guilty. They
say the evidence is rock solid.
She begins to eat. Eyes on her bowl.
They're not his neighbor, like
you are. He is a husband, a father,
he risked his life for their country.
The same as you.
Those aren't the facts that matter.
She looks up. Straight to his eyes.
Well, folks are pretty cold.
And folks who believe in nothing
else...they're cold, too.
No mistaking her meaning. He swallows. Uneasy as always, in the
path of her disapproval.
I've tried to understand your
unhappiness, all these years.
Having gone to war, losing your arm...
The directness of her gaze. He can't turn from that.
But other boys came back. And
pushed on. They found girls, and
married, had babies...
He doesn't flinch. His voice too quiet with...
Someday I'll get lucky, too.
Too quiet to conceal the hurt. She thinks it is hurt she has
caused. It changes her tone to a plea...
Your father fought at Belleau
Wood, it took him years to get
over it. Nightmares, tears, b...
...but he found you.
Their eyes locked.
It isn't the war, Ishmael. All
those years growing up. You never
had a real girl of your own.
And now he looks down. He sees that his fist is tight around the
handle of his spoon.
And I know you have it in you
to love. I know that much. I
wish I knew more.
His fingers open, and the spoon clatters softly on the wood.
I'll stay tonight. Thanks
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
Ishmael wanders through a silent room. A bed, a dresser. Work
table and lamp. A room denuded of all decoration, all possessions,
all sign of life.
I came back from the war to
this room. I stayed a few
months. Until my father passed.
EXT. VETERAN'S CEMETERY - DAY
Ishmael at 24, the left sleeve of his dark suit of mourning pinned
at the elbow. The diggers are filling a grave in distance.
Mourners mingle, some casting glances back at Ishmael. Keeping
their distance out of awkwardness rationalized as respect.
One man comes to him. MASATO NAGAISHI is aging and frail. But his
voice is clear...
The Japanese people of the island
are saddened by this loss. Your
father was a man of great fairness
and compassion for others...
He stands at a respectful distance. Ishmael clears his throat. He
nods, thank you. No words to say. So the small man adds...
A friend to us. And to all people.
Silence. They are a tableau of stone. Finally...
And no more. The man takes a step back...
We know you will follow in his
footsteps. And honor his legacy.
Which changes Ishmael's face. To something harder.
I thought it then. And often since.
A balance, he's said. Finding the
facts. That folks needed to know.
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
Ishmael stands at an open closet. Cardboard boxes have been set
aside. One has been searched for treasure. The page is in his
hand. Only slightly discolored by age.
Dear Ishmael. These things are
very difficult to say. I can't
think of anything more painful
than writing this letter.
He closes his eyes.
ISHMAEL (a murmur)
Think of reading it.
I don't love you, Ishmael. There
is no more honest way to say it.
He carries the letter to the twin bed. Where he slept alone.
Thinking of her.
Whenever we were together, I knew
it. I loved you and I didn't love
you at the same moment.
He sinks slowly. As if beneath the letter's weight.
The last time. At the cedar tree.
I knew we could never be right
together. And that soon I would
have to tell you.
His eyes are dry. The letter has used up his tears long ago.
This is the last time I will write
to you. I am not yours anymore.
He sets the letter on the bed beside him.
I wish you the very best. Your
heart is large and you are gentle
and kind. I know you will do great
things in the world.
He reaches now to his inside coat pocket. Withdrawing...
I must say good-bye to you now.
Our lives will move on. The best
...a page. Folded in quarters. Sets it near the letter.
Milholland's report was like her
letter. Something no one else.
Would ever read.
He stares at them. Side by side.
Thing about having only one hand.
It's hard to tear pages up. And
I wasn't carrying a match.
He lies back. Across the bed.
So I thought of my father. The man
who would have taken this report to
Tears stand in his eyes.
But every reporter. Chooses his own
balance. FInds the facts that matter.
Shuts the eyes. Against them. Against everything.
After all, the freighter was only
a theory. It proved nothing at
all. There were other facts.
We CLOSE on his face. The tightness of the muscles.
Tomorrow I would write a column.
About prejudice. And she would
be grateful. For my large...and
The eyes open, they are blank. Staring...
Her husband would be judged. And
she would be alone.
...at the future.
Alone. The past looks different.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hatsue Miyamoto in the witness box. Graceful, erect, her porcelain
beauty accessible, eager to cooperate. Humble.
Hopeful. Is the word I would use.
And Nels seems slightly surprised.
But Carl didn't say yes.
He didn't say no. That was Kabuo's
point. Given how Carl's mother
felt, Carl was still willing to
consider selling to us. It was a
Nels considers that.
Well, in the week that followed,
the week before Carl's death...
did your husband pursue him?
No. Kabuo did not wish to beg,
he respected Carl's right to
reflect. He was sure Carl would
do the honorable thing.
NELS (right back)
And did he?
She nods. Only once. Her eyes bright.
The night of the 15th, Kabuo helped
Carl at sea. With his dead battery.
Nels raises his eyebrows. To give the point its weight.
Right there, on the boat, they
agreed. $8400 for the seven acres,
$800 down. They shook on it. Kabuo
was so excited when he came home.
Nels lets that sit. And sit.
And when did you first learn.
That Carl had drowned?
The slightest pause. As if hesitant to confess...
One o'clock, that afternoon, from
a clerk at Petersen's.
NELS (turning to Hooks)
And Alvin Hooks rises. Perches on the edge of the prosecutor's
table. And looks at the witness with fairness and suspicion.
Your husband came home agitated,
after his encounter with the
No impatience across her perfect features. Only earnestness
I said 'excited'. Not agitated,
he was excited in the sense of
You were...overjoyed yourself, to
hear the news?
Happy for him. And relieved.
So, then, you...and your husband...
must have called friends, relatives,
to tell them the amazing news. Yes?
HATSUE (calm, respectful)
Really? Didn't call your mother,
your sisters, about starting a new
life. Your husband never tells
his brothers that the family honor
Hatsue shifts in her chair. Smooths her skirt.
We hear how Carl...passed away.
Only a few hours later.
Your husband returned at, what,
Closer to eight.
So, five hours. Plenty of time for
a call. He was 'excited', you say.
In the sense of being 'overjoyed'.
She nods, he was.
We are...cautious people. You
would say conservative. There
would be time for celebrating
with others when a paper was signed.
Hooks pouts. He allows himself that.
You thought the deceased might...
break his promise?
Of course not. We're just not
quick to run and boast. In case
something went wrong.
And then, something did. Carl
Heine was found dead. With his
She weathers that last part. As if taking no notice.
Yes, and then, what was there
to call about? Everything was
up in the air.
Up in the air? Was that your
And he rises. Tastefully indignant.
I would suggest that more happened
than a land sale evaporating. A
man died, Mrs. Miyamoto. A husband
and father of small children had
his skull bashed in!
HATSUE (quiet dignity)
If you mean to imply that we were
callous about Carl's death, that is
wrong and insulting.
I see. Well, did you come
forward to tell Sheriff Moran
what you knew? The encounter in
the fog, the...dead battery, was it?
We discussed that. And decided
She looks at him with the directness we've seen before.
Because the facts could be
misconstrued as murder.
But if truth was on your side,
whatever were you worried about?
Her eyes cut to Nels. He smiles, to blunt the harm she's done by
looking to him for support. Her gaze goes down now. And then...
...back up. Straight to Hooks.
Trials aren't only about truth,
Mr. Hooks. Even though they
should be. They're about what
people believe is true.
So you hid the truth. Deliberately.
We were afraid. Silence seemed
better. To come forward seemed
like a mistake.
Well, it seems to me...
Objection. Mr. Hooks can give
his view in his summation.
Doesn't it seem to you, Mrs.
Miyamoto, that your mistake was
in being deceitful? Concealing
information during the course of
a sheriff's investigation.
It seems human. To me.
Oh. Hooks raises his brows.
I suppose that you mean this excuses
concealing the truth. Then why
ahouls any of us believe you now?
And in the silence...
Question withdrawn, you may
You're implying th...
I said. No further questions.
Anger flashes across her eyes. Her face colors. She draws a
That's enough, Mrs. Miyamoto, not
another word. Step down, please.
She looks to Nels in her desperation and regret for making things
worse. he chuckles and waves. It's quite all right. She sits for
a frozen moment. And as she rises...
The boys in the reporter's row are scribbling furiously.
All but one.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
JOSIAH GILLANDERS folds his blunt, thick hands across his belly.
Nearly 50, sporting a walrus moustache and the watery, dull eyes of
an alcoholic, he is a man ready to make the most of his fifteen
minutes of fame.
Thirty years fishing alone. Ever
had an occasion to board another
man's boat except in an emergency?
Maybe to socialize or some such?
GILLANDERS (ready for this)
Never. Only boarded some fella's boat
five, six times in thirty-one years.
Dead engine, broken hip, only in need.
Now, Mister Gi...
Unwritten rule of the sea. We don't
bother each other, stick to ourselves.
Nels is wandering over to the jury box.
Now if you wanted to kill a man.
Think you'd try boarding against
his will, and hitting him with a
It's a joke. Maneuver up to Carl's
boat? Tie your lines fast? Come
aboard? All against Carl's will?
It's the stupidest suggestion I
ever heard of.
I'm sorry about that. It wasn't
mine in the first place.
Gentle laughter. Even some on the jury.
So the fishing gaff method wouldn't
Couldn't get on the boat. I'd
just shoot the feller. Then tie
up, throw him inta th' drink. And
skip bein' the first gill-netter
in history to make a successful
More laughter. Hooks at his table. Simply smiles.
Now the sheriff believed that the
D-6 battery in Carl's well was
Carl's own spare. Even though it
was too large f...
No sense to have any at all.,
even the right size. It's like
having an extra battery in the
trunk of your car. Nobody does.
Nobody. No way.
Boat has two batteries. Lose one
you run off the other til morning.
Carl musta lost both, so Miyamoto
there gave him one a his.
Course, if Carl lost both batteries,
dead in the water, his radio wouldn't
work. So how would he signal for help?
Compressed air horn, most likely.
Hope to God some man hears you in
All right, what if the defendant
heard? So Carl let him aboard, to
help. And then the fishing gaff?
Gillanders grins. Wide.
You mean Miyamoto followed him out
there, and sucker-punched him?
Well, what if?
Now, how is Miyamoto gonna know
in advance? That Carl loses two
batteries. Must happen once ever'
20 years or so.
Another chuckle or two from the gallery.
Thank you, Mr. Gillanders. Thank
you for coming down, in this cold
Well, it does seem mighty warm in
here. Specially for Mr. Hooks.
And looks at the prosecutor. Who rises, easily. A most polite
fuck-you smile. Hooks strolls now. Slow and steady. Straight to
the witness box. Rests his hands on the rail. Leans in.
What if the defendant follows Carl.
And pretends his own batteries are
dead? Would Carl tie up and help?
And the smile on Gillander's face. Stops. Cold.
Is the word you're groping
Rephrase. Do you agree that he
might tie up to the defendant's bo...
So why's the D-6 in Carl's well?
Who's to say? Maybe it was just
a spare, after all. Or maybe the
defendant left it, as a potential
alibi. In case somebody saw him
in Ship Channel Bank.
In case we put two and two
together, knowing of the hostility.
Between the families.
Gillanders. Actually thinking about that.
My question is. Could Carl have
tied up to help the defendant?
A beat. A cleared throat.
It coulda happened. And if I start
to say it's doubtful, you'd probl'y
say 'no further questions', right?
Once more, laughter. Enough to bring the gavel DOWN.
Right about that. And right that
it 'coulda happened'.
Turns his back, walks away.
Thanks for your help. Hope the
witness box wasn't too warm for
All eyes follow the prosecutor, as he sits. Except for the
defendant. His stare forward. Recalling...
INT. KABUO'S CELL - NIGHT
Kabuo seated on the concrete floor of his cell, leaning back
against the wall. Leaving the cot. For his guest.
But the toughest scenario. Is the
one Hooks will never raise.
Kabuo watching. Quiet. Takes a breath...
And what's that?
That you came upon Carl by accident.
Like you said. Gave him the battery.
Like you said. Asked him about the
seven acres. Like you said.
The hardest. Straightest. Look.
Only. He said no.
And something...happened. That
you'd never planned. Because
you're not a cold-blooded killer.
Nobody flinches. Nobody blinks.
I'm more a hot-blooded killer, huh?
Like a soldier. Like a samurai.
You won't hear that from Hooks.
Because the charge is first-degree
murder, which requires premeditation.
He can't change the charge.
Do you understand?
So if the jury thinks you did kill.
but only in the heat of anger. They
have to acquit.
And you couldn't. Be. Re-tried.
Kabuo's face is stone. A warrior's mask.
You want me to say that.
I want you. To tell the truth.
There is no kindly smile tonight. No candy bars.
You think that is the truth.
I told your wife. Trials aren't
always so much about actual truth.
As about what folks believe is true.
That's sad. And it's real.
And what do you believe?
Nels sighs. Cocks his head just to one side.
A question first. Why do you want
KABUO (straight back)
Because you're my friend.
The old man thinks about that. Studies his client.
I believe you are a good man. Who
belongs with his family.
And then the feeling comes. To the watery eyes.
And I believe. You didn't do it.
EXT. SHIP CHANNEL BANK - NIGHT
Fog. The sound of water. Lapping at the hull of a boat. The mist
Eyes. They are blue. The heavy brows above them dark gold, matted
My batteries are drawed down, both
of 'em. ALternator belts were loose.
PULL BACK to see him. With his keroses lantern and his air horn.
No sweat. We'll pull one a mine,
get ya started.
PULL BACK to see him now, leaning on his gaff. Squinting up. At
the top of Carl's mast. We follow his gaze to see...
You lashed up a lantern? 'Gainst
a fog like this?
See it now. SWAYING as the helpless boat bobs in the night.
Lantern and a air horn. That's
all I got, without my juice.
INT. CARL'S CABIN - LATER
CLOSE on a battery well. One battery sits in place, one spot is
...CRASH! The butt end of a fishing gaff BANGS against the metal
flange. Again. Again. AGAIN. And as the next blow is STRUCK,
the huge hand...
...slips, and the soft metal SLICES Carl's flesh across his palm.
He stops. Then SMASHES away, twice more. We PULL BACK to see...
...two batteries lie above the well. Carl sucks the blood from his
cut. Then lifts Kabuo's D-6 into place...
Don't know how long it's take to
get a charge...
Keep it tonight. We'll catch fish.
I'll see ya back on the docks...
Kabuo takes his gaff. Heedless of Carl's blood on the butt end.
Carl looks up, still crouching above his well.
Hold on. You know as well as
I do, we got somethin' to talk
No response from Kabuo. He stands above the larger man. Silent,
Seven acres. I'm wonderin' what
you'd pay for 'em. Just curious,
What are you sellin' 'em for?
Why don't we start there.
Which makes the big man smile. Just a little.
Did I say I was selling? But
if I was, I'd have to figure you
want 'em real bad. Oughta charge
a sall fortune, maybe...
A slight shrug. Of giant shoulders.
Then again. Maybe you'd want
your battery back.
Kabuo doesn't grin back. His face shows nothing at all.
The battery's in, that's done
with. Besides, you'd do the
same for m...
...might do the same. I have to
warn you 'bout that, chief. I'm
not screwed together like I used
Kabuo's face remains impassive. Patient. And the big man squints
up into it. Holding a handkerchief to his injured hand.
Hell, I'm sorry, okay? About
the whole damn mess. If I'd a
been around, my mother wouldn't
a pulled it off that way.
He is sorry. And with that, Kabuo's face eases. Becomes like
I was out there at sea. Fightin'
you Jap sons-a-bitches.
KABUO (no grin)
I'm an American. Did I call you
a Nazi, you big Nazi bastard?
Not that I recall.
I killed men who looked just like
you, pig-fed German bastards. And
their blood don't wash off so easy.
Still no smile. Carl staring up.
So don't talk to me about Japs,
you big Nazi son of a bitch.
Carl laughs. And Kabuo chuckles, right along with him. Having
kept his poker face the longer.
I am a bastard. I'm a big Hun
Nazi son of a bitch. And I still
got your bamboo fishing rod.
Hid it from my mom. Caught a mess
a sea runs. Damn thing's still in
KABUO (very softly)
You can have it. The hell with it.
The look between them now. Is very wonderful. In the subtlety of
$1200 an acre, that's what I paid
Ole, won't take a dime less. You
got no choice on that.
Didn't say I was buyin' did I?
What you want down? Just bein'
curious, is all.
The handkerchief comes away from Carl's palm. And rising, his hand
extends toward the smaller man.
A thousand down. We'll sign
The hands grip. And they hold. And the length of this clasp, and
the straightness of their gaze, and the silence of the moment.
Wash years away.
Eight hundred. And it's a deal.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
CLOSE on eyes. They are Asian. Unblinking.
For the life of me, sir, I cannot
imagine why you kept this story from
PULL BACK to see Kabuo in the witness box. Ramrod straight. Face
As my wife testified, we were
Actually, she said you had decided.
Decided not not come forward.
I was thinking about it. Every
Except even when Sheriff Moran
arrested you. You said nothing
about seeing Carl.
Turns to the jury. Openly bewildered.
At that point, you were already
under suspicion. The battery story
explained things. If the story was
true...and not simply something you
thought up later...
Turns back. To the defendant.
Why. Didn't you. Tell it?
No reaction from the defendant. Nothing anyone can see.
Sheriff said right off, I was
under suspicion. I didn't have
But even after you had an
attorney. You still claimed to
know nothing. Claimed not to
have seen Carl. Am I correct?
Well, 'initially' is an interesting
word, sir. You'd been arrested,
you had a lawyer, and you still
I should have told everything
right away. I know that now,
and I regret it.
Should have told 'everything'.
Meaning, you should have told
We can just discern the anger. At the edge of Kabuo's steady gaze.
Nothing to say?
I didn't know that was a question.
It sounded like a speech.
And Hooks smiles. Loving it. Walks toward the witness, stalking
My apologies. Do you regret
not telling the truth?
I have told the truth.
You mean, this morning. The
new story, the battery story.
That one is the truth? That's
a question, sir.
KABUO (even quieter)
Yes. And I told it long before
I see. Now what happened the
day Carl Heine was found? Before
I slept til one-thirty, when my
wife woke me up with the news. We
talked for a few hours. I left at
six and went straight to my boat.
Didn't go anywhere else? No errands,
no purchases? Just straight to the
boat. That's the truth.
Hooks leans over the box. Ever so slightly invading Kabuo's space.
Well, the sheriff found two batteries
in your well. If you left one with
Carl Heine, how is that possible?
I had a spare battery in my shed.
I brought it down, and put it in
just before the sheriff showed up.
Ah. I see.
Conveniently, in your shed. Only
you didn't mention that a moment ago.
Why does this battery story change
every time a new question is raised?
Kabuo looks at him, evenly.
You asked if I went straight to the
boat. I did. With the battery.
Hooks steps back. Looks the witness over.
You're a hard man to trust, sir.
You sit before us, with no expression,
keeping a poker f...
You know better than that, Mr.
Hooks. Either ask questions
that count for something, or sit
down and be done with it.
Silence. The judge staring hard. Hooks never flinching.
Shame on you.
Hooks turns his eyes to Kabuo. Stares him down, so the jury can
watch Kabuo's implacable stare in return. And softly...
I apologize to the court, for
letting my feelings get the
better of me.
No other questions. We'll go to
As he returns to his table. As Kabuo steps down from the box.
...reporters' row. The boys are writing as fast as their hands can
move. Only Ishmael is not writing at all. He stares at the pad
resting on hsi right knee. We CLOSE to see...
One word circled. The word 'lantern'.
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Alvin Hooks stalks the jury box now. Prowls before them along the
rail. As their eyes follow.
...believing that Etta Heine's son
would never sell him the land. Land
that in his mind, filtered through
ancient rules of behavior handed down
from his ancestors' culture, belonged
to his family by right...
Stops. To make sure they understand.
His only choice to get the land
would be to eliminate Carl Heine.
So that Ole Jurgensen would need
a new buyer.
Pacing again, hand trailing along the rail...
In his mind. Seen through codes
of revenge difficult for us to
fathom, this was also the only way
to avenge what he felt to be the
grievous dishonor brought to his
father, his family...
Raises his finger. This must be heard...
...to a thousand years of ancestry,
in a foreign land we still find an
enigma. Despite our recent bitter
experience with its ways.
And stops once more. Places his hands on the rail.
Thus believing cold-blooded murder to
be justified...he trailed Carl Heine...
could hear his engine in the fog...and
sounded his own horn, claiming distress.
Straightens up. Shakes his head, ever so slightly.
As Carl pulled alongside: 'Please,
Carl,' the defendant must have said.
'I am sorry for what has come between
us, but adrift here in the fog, I
plead for your help!'
Imagine. Imagine that.
And so this good man tied his
boat fast, while his enemy leaps
aboard, striking the treacherous
blow he was trained to strike by
his father's hand.
Counting off the facts. One finger at a time.
The feud over these seven acres
had festered for eight years. He
argued with Carl about buying the
land one week before Carl was killed.
Carl's skull was crushed, and his
blood is on a murder weapon with which
the defendant is a deadly expert!
Spreads his arms. Wide.
And after a series of lies. The
defendant at last admits he was
there. Alone on the boat. In
the fog. Carl Heine's blood on
his fishing gaff.
A hush. A murmur...
My lord. My lord.
Looking into the eyes now. Of each man. Each woman.
Look clearly at the defendant.
See the truth self-evident in him.
And in the facts of this case.
And turns. So that they will follow his eyes to Kabuo's stone-
Look into his eyes, ladies and
gentlemen, consider his face.
And ask yourself what your duty
is as citizens of this community.
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
PAN the jury, slowly, as they hear...
...not a single witness has testified
to anything that could suggest pre-
meditated murder. Not in the days
before Carl Heine's death...or at
any time...has anyone described a
murderous rage toward the deceased.
Nels stands very still. Hands resting on the rail. As calm and
quiet as his adversary had been dramatic.
Etta Heine had cheated his family.
He had asked his childhood friend
Carl to sell him the land. And
Carl was considering it.
Leans forward. Just a little.
There is no evidence of anger at
Carl, much less rage, much less
murderous rage. No reason for
premeditation and no evidence of
He picks out a housewife. The youngest. Smiles sadly, wisely. As
her grandfather might.
And yet the state is required to
prove these things. Beyond. A
His eyes widen.
Can you seriously think there is
no reasonable doubt? Why is Kabuo's
D-6 battery in Carl's well, if Carl
was helping him?
Why isn't the blood on the gaff
more consistent with Carl's hand
wound than a skull fracture? Given
the absence of bone or brain tissue.
And now. he begins to pace, limping slightly, eyes down.
What Mr. Hooks asks you to believe
is that no proof is needed. Against
a man who bombed Pearl Harbor.
Slow. Eyes on his feet.
Look at his face, the prosecutor said.
Presuming that you will see an enemy
there. Treacherous by nature, by a
thousand years of something or other.
He stops. Looks at them.
An argument I find as despicable as
it is dishonest and twisted and
insulting to us all. Mr. Miyamoto
is a much-decorated hero of the United
States Army. For God's sake.
The feeling wells in te old man. It bleeds through the very
quietness of his voice.
If someone said you should convict
Carl Heine. Or his lovely widow.
Of murder. Without proof. Because
their ancestry is the same as
Hitler's. You would spit in his eye.
Yes, you would.
And every decent American. Would
He leans his elbows on their rail. As if confiding to them across
their backyard fence.
Now Kabuo Miyamoto did one thing
wrong. He was afraid to trust us,
at first. Afraid that he would be
crucified by prejudice. As Mr. Hooks
is urging you to do.
Well, we sent him. And his wife.
And thousands of Americans to
concentration camps. They lost
homes, belongings, everything.
We did that, folks. Can we now be
unforgiving about his uncertainty?
Looking in their eyes. As if waiting for an answer. They shift
their weight, fidget beneath his gaze.
You may think this is a small trial.
In a small place. Well, it isn't.
He straightens his spine. Winces slightly, with the pain of it.
Every once in awhile. Somewhere
in the world. Humanity goes on
trial. And integrity. And decency.
Every once in awhile, common folks
get called on to give the report
card for the human race.
The eyes are watering. But the voice gains strength.
Now here in America. We relish
those chances. Give us that one,
we say. That's why we built this
country in the first place.
One step back. Just above a whisper...
Be Americans. Make your
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
CLOSE on handcuffs SNAPPING into place. Sheriff Moran checks their
snugness about Kabuo's wrists, as the crowd mills through the
courtroom in the wake of adjournment. Grasping Kabuo's arm, Moran
begins leading him toward a small doorway just at the rear of the
witness box. But...
...someone is there. In the doorway. And Moran's grip tightens as
I'm awful sorry, Ma'am, but you
know I c...
What are you afraid of, Sheriff?
The edge on that, the ballsy undertone, throws him a little.
Am I going to slip him a weapon
for a mad escape? Perhaps a kendo
staff hidden in my dress?
Well, please break them, then.
I won't keep you a moment.
And she reaches past him. To take her husband's hands. She looks
in his eyes, as if they are alone.
I love you. And tomorrow, when
I make our bed. I'm setting out
Tears just flood her eyes. Sudden, unbidden. She holds tight to
her smile. And to his hands.
You better be there.
He smiles. A lovely, easy, cowboy-American smile.
Only if you ask me nice.
ANGLE...from the gallery. One man watches. Watches as a woman
brings manicled hands to her lips. And walks quickly away...
...toward us. Straight toward us, in fact. And when she stands
before us, her hands mangle her purse. The eyes are hollow, flint-
Did you write that column?
I did. But the jury won't s...
It's not for the. They only
get to convict him.
She arches her throat. As if facing a firing squad.
It's the judge who decides. If
He reaches. His fingertips find her shoulder. She does not resist
None of that is gonna ha...
You don't think he did this.
His hand comes away. From his heart...
I know he didn't.
She nods. Nods. Her eyes filling. Moving over his face.
Come to supper, tonight. My
mother would be proud to have
you with us.
He hears the emotion in her voice. He swallows hard.
No, I can't.
Tell your mom. I want a rain check.
INT. KABUO'S CELL - NIGHT
Kabuo sits on the cot, the way we have always seen him. Alone in
his mind. Footfalls. Kabuo oblivious, far away. The door CLANGS
You have a visitor, son.
Turns to the visitor...
You said three minutes.
Won't take two.
And Moran leaves. The door CLANGS shut. They are alone. Only one
Please, sit down...
But the tall man doesn't. Doesn't move.
She told me you're writing a
column. We're very grateful.
Ishmael nods, awkwardly. Acknowledging this.
She. Said you two go way back...
Ishmael stares into Kabuo's earnest smile.
You said there was a lantern
in his hand. When you found
him in the fog.
Kabuo blinks. The man's tone is formal. As if the offer of
friendliness is somehow rejected.
And another one. Lashed to
Kabuo's own smile has faded. The mask has returned.
And Kabuo grins. In spite of himself.
If I did the math right.
Ishmael leans back. Against the door.
It's the sheriff's math. I'm
INT. SOMMENSEN'S WAREHOUSE - NIGHT
Blackness. The sound of wind. Of water lapping at wood. CLICK of
a key, springing a lock. The SCRAPE of a large PADLOCK sliding
away. A door CREAKS open, and from the sound of it, a large one.
Gray light seeps in.
Blackmail. That's all it is.
See them now. Three SILHOUETTES framed in thr barn's open doorway.
Against the night sky.
I call it keeping your promise.
We said if I ever needed some
cooperation from you...
A soft CLICK, and the LIGHTS go on. Such as they are. A few
bare bulbs strung across the rafters of this towering ramshackle
enclosure. A 50-year-old mildewed barn, built of creosoted
timbers. This is a place for overhauling boats, with sea doors
facing the harbor.
Two BOATS are tied to wide-elbowed piers. We've seen them before.
You threatened me, Chambers, pure
and simple. And what idiot's gonna
believe some cock and bull story
that I made a deal to keep stuff
outta your paper? Not that anybody
reads your paper.
Abel Martenson leads the way. Along soaking planks.
Same idiots who'll believe you
cracked this case. When I tell
'em you did.
Moran snorts. Points up to the cross spar, high on the mast of the
See, no lantern.
Sheriff? That's Miyamoto's boat.
Oh. Moran swings his gaze up to the second boat.
MORAN (quiet triumph)
No lantern there, neither.
Sure enough. No lantern on the cross spar. They keep walking.
Never shoulda given you that
inventory in the first place.
It's public record. If the public
cares enough to read it.
They step across the gunnel. Onto Carl Heine's boat. Flashlights
working against the dim, eerie glow of distant bulbs, they enter
Neat as a pin. Ishmael scans the floor.
You said there was a coffee c...
I picked it up.
And points to the cup. Sitting on the counter.
It's the only thing I moved, I
swear. It was right there.
The sheriff glares at the boy.
You wanna see that in the papers?
Don't ever touch something at a cri...
And stops. Because Ishmael's gaze has gone to a kerosene lantern.
In the corner.
One lantern. Like the inventory
says. Sorry to disappoint you.
But Ishmael is out the door. Shining his flashlight. Up the mast.
Actually. I was hoping you got
it right. What's that, up there?
And they all squint up. Shining their lights together. Along the
Nothin'. Bits of string.
That's what it looks like. Many of them.
Pieces of twine aren't nothing.
And he steps to the base of the mast. Puts the flashlight in his
pocket. Wraps his arm around the shaft of wood.
Here now, what are you fixin'
Have a look. At nothing.
And wrapping his legs around the mast, he hoists himself up.
You can't go up there, touch things...
With all his strength. Ishmael begins to climb.
Trial's over, Sheriff, it's with
the jury now.
Supporting himself with his legs, he struggles upward.
You gonna climb that with one arm?
You're right. I better use two.
Up he goes, inching his way, Abel shining his flashlight. Moran
swings his beam up, too.
There's lots of 'em, Art, look.
And Moran is looking. Saying nothing. Now, Ishmael is there.
A dozen or more, all figure eights.
All cut clean through on an angle.
And look at that streak of rust,
across the mast.
His light playing on it. Bracing his full weight with his legs,
Ishmael fingers the scraps of rope...
It's on the twine, too. But it's
Don't prove there was two lanterns.
Coulda been the one in the cabin.
Still supporting himself with his legs, Ishmael pulls out his
There's a stretch of ground
between guessin' and provin',
Sheriff. I'll give you that.
...shines it DOWN on the deck. Along the gunnel. Just below the
mast. And as we watch the circle of light move...
What do you think you're lookin'
Still moving. And in the silence, an absent...
Not what I'm looking at. It's
what I'm looking for.
INT. JURY ROOM - NIGHT
Eleven citizens around a walnut table. Eleven. Glaring at the
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
Well. I guess it comes down to
a feeling, don't it? If I feel
uncertain, I feel a doubt. Isn't
And the boat builder smiles amicably, rubs his gray beard. No
other smiles. Anywhere.
Alex, nobody ain't ever sure about
nothin'. It's unreasonable to be so
stubborn that you think you're smarter
than eleven folks who all agree!
The man sat there and admitted he
lied, Mr. Van Ness. Now why isn't
that enough for you?
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
We're not tryin' him for lying. Lots
of us told lies, one time or another.
Prob'ly none of us murdered anybody.
But what drives a man to lie?
Means he's hiding somethin'.
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
Not necessarily that he killed
Carl. I'm not sayin' you're wrong,
just that I have my doubts.
Look, if you changed chairs right
now, cos you doubted that maybe a
chunk of the moon was gonna fall
through the roof, that wouldn't be
a reasonable doubt.
Folks turn to Burke. What the hell are you talking about?
ALEXANDER VAN NESS (laughs)
Okay, you win that one. Now can
we all go to bed?
The mooring line. Doesn't that
tell you something?
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
I think it does. Miyamoto was on
Carl's boat, or vice-versa. Not
much doubt about th...
And Carl's blood on the gaff?
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
There's a chance it came from his
There's a chance of everything.
But you add a chance from here and
a chance from there, the world ain't
made a coincidences only.
Everyone agrees. Almost everyone.
Look, if he gave Carl a battery
like he said, he'd only a had one
left. Not two.
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
He explained that. He replaced it.
Only he threw that part in when he
got cornered. But first time around,
he never mentioned it.
Alex, stop arguin' just to argue.
You can see what really happened,
same as us. Isn't that what we're
supposed to do is tell the actual
truth? My God, Carl died, here.
ALEXANDER VAN NESS
So I don't care Carl died, unless
I'm ready to reach for the hangman's
rope? You oughta stop tryin' to
bully me into hurrying.
Little anger in that. It brings a silence.
Been six hours. You sayin' there's
a way to go slower?
INT. NELS' KITCHEN - LATE NIGHT
Nels in a ratty, frayed old robe, pouring hot water from a kettle
into mismatched cups. His hair is wispy and wild, his eyes puffy.
He COUGHS horrible. CLEARS his throat...
Well. It's imaginative...
And drops tea bags into the cups with a splash.
...I'll give you that.
Lisps over to the cluttered table. Where his guest is waiting.
It's the way it happened, I know
No, you don't.
Nels sits. Slowly. Ishmael removes his bag. Sips his tea.
That report. About the freighter?
You didn't find that tonight, did you?
No answer. Ishmael keeps sipping. Holding eye contact.
You went right to the cell. Then
to the boat. Then here. How long
did you know about the freighter?
ISHMAEL (just above a whisper)
Nels' turn. To sip his tea.
This tastes horrible, hmmn?
You're wondering why I held it.
I'm wondering how the judge is
gonna like my waking up his old
bones. in the middle of the night.
And he smiles. A wonderful smile.
Your daddy. Was quite a feller.
Yes, he was.
He's looking down. And he's not
thinking 'bout the man you were
yesterday. He's proud of the man
you are tonight. That's what counts.
To my father. Everything counts.
Nels watches the pain in that.
What if I told you he once said
to me...don't matter the road we
take. Just so we get there.
Then you'd be lying.
Doesn't make me wrong.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
The jury once more in the jury box. PAN their faces. The faces we
saw last night.
All right, let's say that twine
had been there to lash a lantern.
That it had come from the shuttle of
twine found in the deceased's pocket.
Edith Twardzik. Burke Latham. Alexander Van Ness.
Now to re-open a trial that had
gone to jury...new evidence should
be pretty important.
See Ishmael. Quiet, intense. On the witness stand.
Tell us why that lantern would be
Well. It shows the prosecutor was
wrong. It was Carl's boat that was
dead in the water. Or he'd never
have put up the lantern.
Nels thinks about that. So the jury will, too.
Now you believe there were two
lanterns when defendant arrived.
One in Carl's hand. The second
lashed to the mast.
That's what Mr. Miyamoto reported,
and he'd have no reason to lie.
He couldn't know that it would help
Well, why does it?
Because the second lantern, the one
on the mast. Was never found. So
we have to ask...
A slight shurg. Stating the obvious.
...where did it go?
Maybe it went. Where Carl went.
Over the side.
Nels smiles his grandfather smile.
Your Honor, all of this is
speculation. Including Mr. Hooks'
dramaturgy about the defendant
issuing a false distress call.
Tht was summation, Your H...
Overruled, Alvin. Let's hear
Nels Gudmundsson nods to himself. Takes a stroll over to the jury
box. No limp today. Something has put some spring in his step.
So how does this fit with what
you told us at the start? The
freighter that plowed through
Ship Channel Bank...
And turns. Leaning his scrawny butt against the jury's rail.
He'll watch this with them now.
That's when he fell.
Ishmael settles in. Here we go.
Miyamoto gave him the battery, and
left. Carl's boat was running, he
goes back to fishing. But at some
point, he thinks of the lantern...
Still lashed to the mast.
He figures a perfectly good
lantern could get banged around
up there. So he climbs up. To
cut it down.
Just as the freighter comes through?
Isn't that quite a coincidence?
Coincidences happen. You run a
yellow light just as a car comes
out of nowhere. Split-second tragedy
happens every day. Or maybe...
Maybe Carl picks up something about
the freighter on his radio, which is
now working. Same report Milholland
heard. And that makes him get the
lantern fast. Before the freighter's
wake can bang it around.
But you could be wrong. He could
have climbed up earlier.
Then where's the lantern? And
where's the knife?
The knife. What knife?
As if he really has forgotten. As if he wants to know.
Coroner found an empty knife sheath
on Carl's belt. But they never
found the knife.
He's nodding. Yes, that's right.
He climbs up. His hand wound still
bleeding. That's the blood I found
on the mast. And the twine.
Nels' eyes are rapt. His mouth is shut. No way he interrupts this
He cuts the lantern free, the
freighter's wake hits, the boat
rolls hard, his bloody hand slips.
tracing blood along the mast...
He falls. The lantern, the knife,
go into the water. Same as Carl.
The words hang there.
And inside the cabin, a coffee
cup falls off the counter.
Shakes his head.
But there's no one around. To
pick it up.
Nels ponders. Puts his hand to his chin.
Still a coincidence. Timing
The freighter started through
at 1:42. The sea water seeped
into Carl's watch and stopped it.
CUT to the defendant. Ramrod straight, nothing revealed in his
face. And to his wife. Elegant, erect. Her eyes flooded with
Still and all. Carl was a strong
swimmer, he m...
He hit his head. On the way in.
You think so?
The sheriff and the deputy and I
inspected the deck closely. We
found a small fracture in the wood
of the gunnel. Just below the mast.
Well, anything coulda caused that.
Ishmael nods. No smile at all.
Anything. That had a blond hair.
And Nels is walking now. Toward the prosecutor's table. Pulling a
small cellophane bag from hisinside pocket.
Request introduction of Exhibit 18.
One single blond hair. Which Sheriff
Moran dug out of that fracture. Below
the mast. Of Carl Heine's boat.
Lays the bag on the table. Just in front of Hooks. Turns to the
We will call Sheriff Moran, who
will confirm this. And Coroner
Whaley to testify that the damage
to the gunnel is of a size and
nature not inconsistent with the
deceased's skull fracture...
Turns to the prosecutor...
But for now. Your witness...
And just strolls on over to his seat. Looks in his client's eyes.
How 'bout them apples? Kabuo loves this old guy. And right here,
he lets a little of that show.
Across the way, the prosector is rising. He smiles. Friendly,
I have to start reading your
paper more closely. You're quite
ISHMAEL (straight back)
Thank you. Coming from the man who
wrote, 'But here, adrift in the fog,
I plead for your help'...that's quite
There is a ripple of laughter. But no smile on Ishmael's features.
His game face is on. Come and get me, sucker. And Hooks does
come, one step at a time. Straight to the box.
Everything had to happen just
right. For your little story to
fly. I mean, a blond hair could be
on that gunnel for a lot of reasons.
I'm sorry, was there a question
No love lost. And no pretense about it. Hatsue Miyamoto sits with
her hand in her mother's. Watching these men battle for her
Well, the freighter. The twine.
The blood. The knife. The cup.
The watch. The second battery.
The phantom lantern. The fishing
gaff. The cracked gunnel. The
skull wound. The blond hair. That's
I stand corrected, sir. And you
have a neat explanation for every
one of them.
Hooks nods. Yes, you do.
And since you confess this is
all pure guesswork. What is your
expertise, sir, are you a detective
My expertise. Is that I'm a
Right at his eyes.
And journalism. Is balance. Finding
the facts folks need to know.
The words ring with quiet, heartfelt conviction, that others cannot
Then putting them together. So
truth is revealed.
But isn't the truth that there are
several other ways to explain each
of these twelve pieces.
And the prosecutor stops. Confused for an instant by this
But no other way. To explain
A heart-stopping hush. As everyone, as Hooks himself, sees the
And since they all happened.
This is the only explanation
that's the truth.
The prosecutor looks like he's been slapped. Like every act of
will is necessary to maintain composure. To find the easy,
Your line of work. You must meet
a lot of men play fast and loose
with the truth.
Like you couldn't believe.
Service returned. Hooks leans in.
Well, the defendant is a liar.
He's confessed that much. And his
explanation is...he was afraid.
And leans in some more.
Afraid that the good folks of
this jury. Would be too stupid
to understand. Too prejudiced
to be fair.
Shakes his head.
You buy that?
I think he was greedy.
And once more. The prosecutor can only blink. Can only move
toward the trap.
He didn't want to lose any more.
No smile. No smile as the trap springs shut.
He'd lost a lot in the war, you
see. I had sent him away. To a
concentration camp. But a nice
one. Far less brutal than the Nazis.
Because I'm a civilized person.
He stops. Lets Hooks clear his throat.
I asked you a question, you're writing
a tract, h...
That's how journalists. Answer
Turns to Judge Fielding. With all respect...
May I answer the question, Your
Honor? Anout the defendant's
motivation to lie?
I wouldn't miss it for the world,
son. Now, you say you sent the
defendant to Manzanar?
I didn't say. I did it alone.
And things get real quiet.
So there he was. His father lost
his health there, finally died.
They lost more than Etta Heine's
seven acres. They lost their
liberty, their dignity. Their
ideals about this country.
So much feeling in this. He has to stop. Swallow hard.
They lost their trust in us. We
had treated them worse than animals.
How would we now see tham. As human
Tells the jury. Straight to their faces.
This man lost a lot in the war.
He didn't want now to lose his
babies. Or the woman who loves him.
Another level of quiet. He turns to the prosecutor...
And my expertise in this, sir. Is
that I lost a lot in the war myself.
Words coming from someplace very deep.
And the fact that I am the only
witness. Who placed his right hand
upon the Holy Bible. Is the least
of it, sir. I assure you of that.
Well, sir. I hate to spoil the
soliloquy, I truly do. But the
fact is...you are not on trial here.
Nor is Judge Fielding, or myself.
Nor the good people of this jury.
For events that took place twelve
And I wouldn't blame these good
people if they were a mite resent-
ful. At a tactic that insults
That's curious. I was appealing
to their intelligence.
Were you, sir? Can you prove one
word of all your fancy story?
No, sir, I can't. Not beyond a
And he smiles. First time.
It's fortunate that the man who
needs to prove his fancy story.
Beyond a reasonable doubt. Is
There is laughter in the room, so welcome is any chance to relieve
the tension. The gavel BANGS.
I'm sorry, Mr. Hooks. I apologize
for my tone. This is not a contest.
Between you and me.
Shakes his head. No, it isn't.
For it is not. As Mr. Gudmundsson
so wisely put it. A small trial.
In a small place.
His eyes are damp now. Strangely enough, after all this. He is at
last on the brink of losing control. Because...
I lost more in that war than
anyone will ever know. So did
a lot of folks. And what we got
back in return...
His voice breaks slightly. But it rings with dignity on...
...was a country. Where a man
was innocent. Until we proved
And the voice drops. To just above a whisper...
Whether we all got cheated.
We're about to find out.
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR - DAY
CLOSE on Hatsue Miyamoto, speaking earnestly, her eyes down, her
purse in her lap, her slender hands expressing the intensity of her
feelings as she makes her point, and we...
PULL BACK to reveal that she is on a corridor bench, surrounded by
a half dozen REPORTERS, who are crouching, standing, scribbling
away. Two PHOTOGRAPHERS pop flashes that she does not seem to
notice, as she continues with refined determination, and we...
PULL BACK, down the hallway to the POV of a man who sits alone,
unnoticed. There is an unopened pack of cigarettes in his only
hand, turning absently in long, strong fingers that crinkle the
pristine cellophane. His eyes are fixed to hatsue, holding court
at a distance. Fixed, as if no other sight could ever command this
level of attention.
All things considered...
Hearing the voice, Ishmael looks down. Uneasy to have been caught
staring so intently.
...you were adequate.
No smile accompanies the irony. For that would be condescending.
I could make a few quibbles, but
I am loathe to hurt your feelings.
The old man sits. Very slowly.
I'll take two. One for later.
Ishmael tries to tear the cellophane without success. Nels seems
not even to notice.
She is simply. Beautiful.
Ishmael's eyes cut to him. A little quickly. Confides...
I've always thought so.
There it sits. His fingers claw absently at the cellophane. Nels
makes no move to intervene.
If I whistle. Those boys'll see
you, and come runnin'. You're
the story today.
You ever been strangled by a
Naw, I've seen what that can do
to a pack of cigarettes.
Comfortable together. In this hour of discomfort. Ishmael brings
the corner of the pack to his teeth, and tears the cellophane away.
Better take three...
Fingers nimbly shred the seal, open the pack.
Maybe they'll keep us waiting.
Shake the tips free. Holds the pack forward.
NELS (very quiet)
Maybe they won't.
The way he said that. Subtly ominous. Ishmael watching Nels'
face, as the old man takes two cigarettes...
Prejudice is like any obsession.
Tucks one in his pocket. And his eyes slide, unmistakably, to
There's a reason why we can't
let go. Even when we want to.
Ishmael is stone still. Nels just gazing at Hatsue. Until...
We don't want to.
Looks back to Ishmael. Very straight.
Hate or love. It works the same.
In the silence...
Your client's wife ever mention?
We go way ba...
Her mother. May have said
There it is. Kindness in this old man's face. He brings the other
cigarette to his lips. And Ishmael takes out the match box. Never
breaking eye contact.
We don't let go, you s...
It's a rare thing. Takes a
Expertly, Ishmael's fingers withdaw a match.
You gave this jury three chances.
Palming the box, Ishmael STRIKES the match. On his belt buckle...
No other way to explain it all.
That was one. I caught some of
'em fluttering, waking up, on that.
Reaches the flame toward the old man...
Second. You sent him to
Manzanar, and you didn't do
it alone. I liked that one,
they didn't. No surprise.
Nels leans to the flame. Sucks it in. Savors a drag.
Last. You gave your arm. To
buy this woman back her husband.
Are they gonna cheat you out of that?
BAILIFF (O.S., calling out)
JURY'S COMIN' IN...
Everywhere, the buzz RISES, there is motion an expectation. But
Nels doesn't seem to notice.
Some let go, some don't. Where
Asked so casually. Ishmael turns. Hatsue is standing now,
surrounded by people, her mother grasping her arm.
ISHMAEL (a murmur)
Hooks called her deceitful.
And I knew she wasn't.
He's watching her. Across the way. So intently.
She was an honest person. Doing
the best she could.
We follow her approach toward the courtroom door. She has not yet
turned to us.
The prosecutor, the judge, cut
her off. She was desperate. Her
husband helpless...I was helpless...
Nels rises. With great effort.
You couldn't let her. Be
Ishmael's eyes still fixed to Hatsue, grim-faced, listening to her
mother's murmurings, as she...
...disappears through the door. Never having looked our way.
When this verdict is read. She
may look for your face.
And Ishmael's eyes come up. Because the voice commands it.
Here's what she needs to see: This
is nothing. We win it on appeal.
The old man is stern and strong. He wants a promise.
It'll be there.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
The hush of a hundred silences. We can feel the air crackle in the
stillness. Judge Fielding is leafing through papers. No one
coughs, no one blinks...
JUDGE (clears his throat)
Mister foreman, has the jury
reached a verdict?
He looks up. Across the distance, Harold Jensen rises in the jury
We have, Your Honor.
And holds out a slip of paper. Little more than a scrap. Folded
Will the bailiff please bring
the verdict to the bench.
The bailiff does so, walking crisply to minimize his moment in the
limelight. He hands the slip to the judge, who unfolds it, and...
...stops. Staring for a hung instant. As if seeing something
unexpected. he folds it again, rather carefully, thoughtfully, and
as he hands it back to the bailiff...
Will the defendant please rise.
Kabuo and Nels rise together. But it is only into the defendant's
eyes that the judge stares. No expression in the face of either
man. But something passes, all the same.
As the bailiff crosses to return the verdict to the foreman, we
REVERSE ANGLE...every pair of eyes in the room are on the foreman,
now opening the slip of paper.
Every pair. But one.
Will the foreman please read the
One reporter stares across the grain of all other sight lines.
Toward a woman who does not see him. In case she needs his eyes.
To be waiting.
HAROLD JENSEN (reads)
We the jury, find the defendant,
Kabuo Kenji Miyamoto, to be not
guilty of the cri...
A sharp SCREAM, and the defendant's mother-in-law covers her mouth
HAROLD JENSEN (continues)
...of the crime with which he
has been char...
APPLAUSE breaks out from the back row of the gallery, where
citizens of Japanese ancestry have forgotten custom and decorum,
...a woman who comes OUT of her seat, tears on her face, not
even realizing she is standing, Hatsue clings to the railing that
separates her from her husband. Throughout the gallery, now...
...some of the citizens assembled add their applause. Others look
awkward, not knowing how to react.
The gavel lies untouched, unnoticed, by a jurist who has no problem
with anything that is taking place right now. Saying only to the
This is your verdict, so say
As they assent...
This Court thanks you for the
good work you have done under
Reaches STRONG to the gavel, turns to the defendant...
Go home, son. God bless.
CRACKS the gavel on its block. The defendant is OUT of his chair,
and with one strong grip of gratitude to the frail shoulder of his
counsel, he is...
...AT the rail, through the POPPING of flashbulbs, she is IN his
arms, the embrace so FIERCE on both sides, everyone crowding around
An old man's eyes sweep the gallery, looking for someone. Only
...Ishmael's back. As he disappears through the door.
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR - LATER
The Miyamotos holding court, surrounded by nearly twenty reporters
and photographers, and countless looky-loo's of all persuasions.
Hatsue's face is flushed and intense, unsmiling, she seems scarcely
to have caught her breath. She holds tight to her husband's hand,
...carries his baby son in the other arm, his 8-year-old daughter
leaning against him, her 4-year-old sister standing on the bench
beside her mom. Kabuo submits to questions with a boyish grin of
humility and friendliness. An American family. Photogenic as
And how about the jury? You had
confidence they'd see justice done?
Kabuo glances to his lawyer, wanna field this one? But Nels sends
it back with a twinkle.
Oh, sure. These are our neighbors,
you know. They've got good
hearts. We could see they were
following the evidence real close...
At his side, Hatsue seems to be scanning the jumble of faces...
We're just grateful to every one
...looking for something she doesn't find.
And you ma'am? You felt the same
as your husband, I expect?
Her eyes move to the eager young man. She reflects for a beat.
Which catches everyone. A little short.
I felt my husband would be found
guilty. Unless proven innocent.
No apologies for the truth. That's not her way.
And Mr. Chambers did that.
INT. COURTHOUSE BASEMENT
A vending machine stands in silence. The eerie strobing glow of
defective neon. PULL BACK as...
Ishmael thinks it over. Drops in his dime. Pulls the plunger, to
watch a Snickers fall. Scoops the candy from the tray, pins it
between his body and the machine.
...tears the wrapper.
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR
BACK to the reporters. The crowd of onlookers has grown.
...can we get some background on
your handsome family? I understand
you two were childhood sweethearts...
And brings his Parker pen to his notepad. His subject smiles
Well, no sir, not exactly. We met
in the Manzanar camp, you see, so I
guess that was the most beautiful
place I've ever been.
There is gentle laughter. And as Kabuo looks up, he sees something
in the rear of the crowd. Something we do not. And softly...
No, her first love was another
Which brings Hatsue's eyes up, following his gaze. And there, in
the back. A man watches. Eating a candy bar.
I was the lucky one.
No one sees their eyes lock. It is only an instant.
It is enough.
It all sounds very romantic,
ma'am. Falling in love under
And as she looks to the reporter, Ishmael begins to walk away...
He went off to the Army, right
from Manzanar. And that last
night, we danced alone in the
And somehow, Ishmael catches the eye of Hatsue's 4-year-old
daughter. So he pulls a coin from his pocket...
I told him. If you don't come
back alive, I'll kill you.
...Ishmael ROLLS the coin across his knuckles. And the child
With her mother's smile.
EXT. COURTHOUSE STEPS - DUSK
Alone on the steps where the Strawberry Princess once winked at
him. Snow has begun to fall, soft and altogether beautiful. He
God's kindness, my father said.
Despite the hardship...it reminds
us. Of our place in things.
Our place in things. He slides a black cigar between his teeth...
What the hell. Did he mean
He has the match box. Manipulating it with the dexterity we've
come to know.
Things fall on us, I suppose.
From the sky.
STRIKES the match on his belt buckle...
Wars. Freighters plowing through...
Cupping it expertly in a single motion, he brings the flame to the
cigar. A single puff.
And we seem...helpless. Until we
One more. Savors it. The sky. The thought.
Accident rules every corner of
Down the steps. Snow swirling between us. Gone.
Except the chambers. Of the
FADE SLOWLY TO BLACK. ROLL END CREDITS.
Snow Falling On Cedars
Writers : Ronald Bass Scott Hicks
Genres : Drama