EXTREME CLOSE-UP - TELEVISION SCREEN
The National Anthem resounds over the precision maneuvers of the Navy’s Blue Angels. When Old Glory fills the frame the local announcer identifies the station, signifies the megahurts and signs off for the morning. Transmission ends and a BLAST of disturbing static rules the airwaves. It is 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
CAMERA SLOWLY WITHDRAWS
The TV set appears. A fireplace is off to the right, trophies of outstanding achievement in annual home sales on the mantel; STEVEN FREELING asleep in his convertible chair, an open briefcase on his lap, real estate maps and lease contracts spread out on the floor by his stocking feet.
CAMERA CONTINUES TO WITHDRAW until we are moving out of the living room of this suburban two-story home and up the stairs.
CAMERA MOVES along the hallway, past the guest bath and over to a partially open door. We explore this room, if only for an instant, to catch DIANE FREELING, 32, tossing in her sleep, a tangle of hair covering her face.
CAMERA moves away and slithers into another bedroom. DANA FREELING is sixteen, very beautiful, and snoring unevenly. She is surrounded by potato chips and homework.
The SOUND OF TELEVISION STATIC leaks as the moves into the last bedroom. ROBBIE FREEL1NG is just a seven-year-old lump under the covers. With the sheets tucked around him, he looks like a ghost and where his head should be there is a Dodgers baseball cap. The closet light is on and the closet opened only a crack to let in the safe night light as we pass beyond Robbie to CAROL ANNE FREELING. The STATIC SOUNDS from the 0.S. TV seem to arouse this pert six--year-old from a sound and regular sleep. Her eyes snap open. She listens, flicks some sleep from her eyes, and rises out of bed.
CAMERA TRACKS AHEAD OF HER as if drawing her OUTSIDE the safety of her bedroom and roommate brother.
The STATIC crackles louder and a BLUE GLOW dawns across Carol Anne. She could be sleepwalking. Her eyes are riveted and her breathing quickens. The STATIC BOOMS now and Carol Anne stops at the TV set in front of her sleeping Dad. She stares into the white snow, trying to see beyond the color dots. Carol Anne opens her mouth until we are certain she is going to SCREAM. Then
Hello! Hell-ooo! What do you want! Hello! Who are you! Hell-ooooo!
ANGLE - STEVE FREELING
His eyes open.
Diane starts and sits up quickly.
CAROL ANNE (O.S.)
Who are you!! Hey!
She is already swinging her legs out of bed and moving into the hallway.
CAROL ANNE (O.S.)
I can’t hear you!!
Robbie looks over to see Carol Anne’s bed empty.
The entire family gathers and watches their youngest child yelling through the static at 2:35 in the morning.
What do you look like! Hello! Can I see you?
Anyone outside of Manhattan is familiar with this setting. Sunday in suburbia. A neighbor mows his lawn, another washes his car, and a group of kids play soccer in the street. The middle America World War II bought and paid for.
Then; an irregular glitch to this setting. A man, JEFF SHAW, is running as furiously as his jelly-bowl paunch will allow. In his arms, a large brown shopping bag. Barely avoiding a collision with the paper boy, he cuts across the lawn, jiggling the lettering. He crashes into the front door, finding it locked. He turns and runs around back, just as Steve opens the front door.
Shaw blasts past Dana, dressed in a terrycloth robe. She is eating potato salad right out of the bowl in front of the open refrigerator.
Jesus H. Christ!
Shaw almost loses his footing turning into this room. His breath exploding in wheezing puffs. He falls into a chair next to Steve Freeling and FIVE OTHER MALE NIEGHBORS who tear into the brown shopping bag, surfacing with Michelob Lites.
What'd I miss!?
Oakland’s bringing out Bahr.
Three more! Jesus! I was ahead on points, now I’m pushing.
Diane is straightening things in here when she notices something that causes her to sadly catch her breath. She walks forward to the bird cage slowly letting it out. Carol Anne’s yellow canary is feet up on the bottom of the cage.
Oh Tweety, couldn’t you wait for a school day?
Robbie is next to a tall, misshapen oak tree that has grown bent forward, a little too close to the house. Robbie is marching in circles around the tree, acting brave. He starts to climb.
The Sunday FOOTBALL CROWD is on its feet. Haden has the ball again and the pass is a “bomb.”
Look at that fuckin' Dennard run.
Lester Hayes. Fuckin' Hayes is there!! He's there! He's...
The channel changes all by itself to Mister Rodgers.
(yelling at wall)
Tuthill--! You asshole!
Turn it back ! Christ!
Sorry guys. Wen my neighbor uses his remote...he’s on my same frequency.
Steve turns it back to football. A second later, “Mister Rodgers" is singing. Steve walks over to the wall, and points his remote control and fires!
From the other side of the wall comes a muffled ROAR.. The voice of BEN TUTHILL.
Don’t start, Freeling!
Steve opens the sliding glass door and yells over the fence. Tuthill, a robust man in a tank top and sunglasses, yells out his window, the remote control brandished in Steve’s direction.
We got a game going on over here!
The kids wanna watch Mr. Rodgers!
I don’t care what you’re watching, as long as you show a little mercy with that thing!
(closing his window hard)
Move your set!
Tuthill clicks at Steve through his window.
Steve’s channels change and the gathering SCREAMS again.
Steve fires his remote at the Tuthills and a muffled “goddammit!” is heard.
Diane has Tweety by his little claw feet at arms length. With a sour grimace she moves into the bathroom and raises the toilet seat, aims Tweety and...Carol Anne steps into the doorway catching her Mom red-handed.
With his own bedroom window facing him, Robbie climbs among the twisted branches, then looks at the neighborhood and the sky beyond.
Storm clouds are gathering in the distance.
CLOSE SHOT - CIGAR BOX
Diane places little Tweety into the cigar box. She starts to close the lid.
Tweety doesn’t like that smell.
Sweetheart, Tweety can’t smell a thing.
Put a flower with him.
Diane smiles at this thought and takes a red rose from the vase on the windowsill. Carol Anne pulls into her pocket and takes out some red licorice. She bites off the end, spits it out into her hand and places the wet piece inside the cigar box.
For when he’s hungry.
She places a polaroid snapshot of herself and Robbie.
For when he’s lonely.
She covers him with a napkin.
For when it’s nighttime.
Carol Anne starts to cry as she closes the lid. Diane looks on. She really loves this kid.
Diane has dug a hole in the dirt. Robbie and Dana watch as Carol Anne places the cigar box into the earth. Dana is eating celery and Diane throws her a “you’re chewing too loud” look. Robbie, from up in the tree, watches fascinated as Diane and Carol Anne refill the hole. In the background the football game is winding up with loud interludes between the time-outs of the final quarter.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...
(rolls her eyes)
If I should die before I wake...
(a defiant whisper) It did.
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
That was lovely, honey.
(staring at the freshly dug earth calls down from the tree)
Mom, when it rots can we dig it up and see the bones.
(brightening--a new topic)
Can I get goldfish now?!
CLOSE UP - GOLDFISH BOWL
Carol Anne stares wonderously as two brand new goldfish nibble Hertz Mountain from the surface. Robbie sits on his bed in his P.J.’s reading a Popeye comic. Distant THUNDER can be heard as Robbie looks over at his window.
A weak flash of lightning outlines the tree he was playing in earlier. It is not merely the overactive imagination of a nine-year-old that makes this tree scary to us. The twisted branches that seem to suggest arms and the split trunk that appears to suggest horns is all too real even at first glance.
CLOSE - ROBBIE
He doesn’t want to look. He doesn’t want to scare himself. But he does.
Honey, you ‘re overfeeding them.
Tweety-two and Tweety-three wants seconds.
Mom, there’s a big storm headed this way.
You’ll be asleep by the time it gets here...if you hurry. Lights out!
The kids dive for the covers. Diane turns out the light. The room is overwhelmed by darkness. Carol Anne speaks up first.
Closet light! Closet light!
My fault. My fault.
Diane turns on the light in their closet and cracks open the door. Carol Anne relaxes and waves good-night to her fish. Robbie looks over at the rocking chair by the bureau. Sitting straight up is a clown doll. It is almost the size of Robbie. Its stare is devilish and its smile is jst a little too broad for comedy.
Robbie gets up and without looking at the doll, throws a plaid shirt over its head. He climbs back into bed, outlined by a blue flash from the window.
CLOSE ON DUTCH MASTER CIGAR BOX
Two hands lift it from the shadows and into the light. The lid starts to open and just as we expect to see Twenty-one we see the "stash" instead. Steve removes a lid of grass and some zig-zag papers and starts to roll a joint. On the TV is an old MGM movie.
Diane is reading Carl Jung’s MAN AND HIS SYMBOLS. Steve picks up a brochure on pool equipment and diving boards.
(taking a hit)
Sleepwalking. Sleepwalking. Nocturnal Somnambulism. * I’ll betcha it’s genetic. Carol Anne all last week and then last night. Me when I was ten. I once walked four blocks and fell asleep in the back seat of this man’s car. He went all the way to work before discovering me. God. I started screaming... people ran over. The police came. They took the guy downtown. My father had me examined for bruises, hickies, I don’t know. Oh shit, Steven! If we dig the pool and Carol Anne falls in before there's any water...Steven...you listening?....
[ back || 'first draft script' main page || next ]