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Screenplay Part Three

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* * *
CUT TO:
INT. GAS STATION, TOWN, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
The two of them walk in and sit at the little bar inside.  They order food.
O'CONNOR
Usual for me.  You?
THOMPSON
Whatever he’s having, I guess.
O'CONNOR
S’posed to rain today.
THOMPSON
So?
O'CONNOR
Just sayin’.
They’re silent for a few moments.  They get their food and start eating.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Somethin’ I’ve been meanin’ to tell you.  Keep forgettin’ to talk to you about it.
He takes a bite of his food.
THOMPSON
What’s that?
O'CONNOR
Hang on.
He takes a huge swig of soda to wash down the mouth full of food he has.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Let me finish before it have to talk.
He lets the food slide down into his guts before he starts again.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
I been meanin’ to tell ya, I’m  real proud of ya for what you’re doin’.
THOMPSON
What do you mean?
O'CONNOR
I mean, all the problems you’ve been havin’ with the force, the guys actin’ like apes and morons around you.  Ain’t right.  I wish there was somethin’ I could do about it.  But there ain’t.  So, I’m really proud of ya.  I know how hard it can be.
THOMPSON
Thanks.
She looks down at her plate, not really knowing what to day.
O'CONNOR
I know it probably don’t mean much to you, but I don’t compliment anyone around here, so take it and enjoy it.
THOMPSON
I don’t think I can enjoy anything in this town...  I wanted to be something, you know.  I wanted to make a difference in the world.  Never had much of anything when I was growing up.  My mom died when I was really young.  My dad had to raise me.  She got killed by some scumbag.  He was just a working man, didn’t know anything about raising a little girl.  I felt so sorry for him.  I can’t imagine what was going through his head...  He always did his best to raise me right, though...  My parents were really religious when I was little.  But when my mom got killed, he quit going to church.  Never went back ever again, actually.  Never would let me go, either.  Told me all I needed was myself and that was it.  Said people were smart enough to know what was right and wrong was and that I could figure it out without church.
This draws some looks from the people milling around the store.  O'Connor notices it and throws down some money for the food.
O'CONNOR
Let’s get outta here, Thompson.  I feel like drivin’.
CUT TO:
INT. O'CONNOR’S CAR, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
They’re driving through the country, away from the town.
O'CONNOR
So...  I didn’t know your dad was atheist.
THOMPSON
Huh?
O'CONNOR
From earlier, you were talking about your dad.
THOMPSON
Oh, I don’t think he was.  I don’t think he even knew what that word was, or if it even existed.  He just didn’t like going to church was all.  I mean, I never heard him talk about god or anything like that, but I also never heard him say he didn’t believe.  Know what I mean?
O'CONNOR
Yeah, I think so.
THOMPSON
But anyway, it always drove me nuts that they never bothered to catch whoever it was that killed my mother.  Kept me up at night.  I can’t even count how many nights I spent curled up in my bed, terrified to know that whoever it was, was still out there, walking around, looking for another person to...to do that to.
O’CONNOR
What happened to her?
Thompson cuts him a glance, but she doesn’t say anything.  Her eyes tell it all.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Never mind.
There’s a long, uncomfortable pause before anyone says anything again.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
I’m sorry.
THOMPSON
It’s okay.
O'CONNOR
No, it’s not.  I shoulnd’t have said that.  I really am sorry.
THOMPSON
Don’t worry about it.  You didn’t know any better.  But it’s because of her that I decided I wanted to be a cop.  Not just wanted to be, but had to be.
O’CONNOR
Had to be?
THOMPSON
Yeah.  There wasn’t any other way I could sleep at night.  I had to make sure something like what heppend to my mother didn’t happen to anyone else’s mother.  Know what I mean?
O'CONNOR
Yeah.  I know what you mean.
THOMPSON
I never thought it would be like this.  I mean, I thought all of this kind of stuff was behind us by now.
O’CONNOR
Are you kiddin’ me?  Everyone in this state is ten hairs away from bein’ a bunch of goddamn baboons.  You expected somethin’ else?  What the hell’s the matter with you?
THOMPSON
Well, you know, I didn’t htink it would happen.  We’re supposed to be an advanced and civilized race. 
O'CONNOR
That’s funny.  You should try stand up.
THOMPSON
Yeah.  Funny man.  Making jokes, just like everyone else down at the department.
O'CONNOR
Ah, man.  That’s cold.  That’s real cold.  That was just plain uncalled for.  Ain’t no need comparin’ me to those mongoloids, now is there?
THOMPSON
After some of the stories I’ve heard about what you’ve done in this town, I sometimes wonder.
O'CONNOR
What you heard and what happened are probably two different things.  Two completely different fuckin’ things right there.  I’ve cracked my share of fuckin’ heads, did some things I ain’t too proud of, but I never did it to anyone I didn’t know was guilty from the goddamn get go.  I never beat anyone and arrested ‘em just because they looked weird or because they weren’t the right fuckin’ color.  These were criminals.  These were people who broke the law and had to have their bodies broken.  That’s all there was to it.  I’m not too proud of what I done with my life sometimes, but other times, I look back and realize that, even though it doesn’t look like much more’n’ a pile of dried up dog shit, I’ve done almost everything I’ve ever wanted to do.  It’s been rough, and it’s probably never gonna get any fuckin’ easier, but I can at least look back on my life and know that I at least tried to do my goddamn job as best I fuckin’ could, even though they try their damndest to keep me from it.
THOMPSON
That’s what I’m yelling.  I just can’t seem to get an even break there.  It’s...  It’s stressful.
O'CONNOR
Yeah.  It sometimes boggles my goddamn mind as to why you even stay here in this fuckin’ shithole.
THOMPSON
I have to stay here.  I have to deal with it.
O'CONNOR
Why?
THOMPSON
Because I want to do something with my police career.  I can’t do anything in this po-dunk town, but I’ve gotta stay here.  I can’t leave until I can.
O’CONNOR
What do you mean?
THOMPSON
I mean until I have enough experience under my belt, I have to stay her.  I want to go past this place.  I want to move up to bigger cities.  I actually want to make a difference.  But until then, I’m stuck here.  I can’t leave.  I’m stuck.  You can leave.  Why haven’t you?
O’CONNOR
I grew up in this town.  This is where I spent my childhood.  This is where all of the things I remember most about my fuckin’ life took place.  I know that this place used to be great.  It used to be something amazing.  But now it’s a fuckin’ shithole, ruined by fuckin’ drug dealers ffrom the big city and the goddamn cops here who can’t seem to find themselves in the fuckin’ mirror every fuckin’ morning.  And i know that it can be saved.  But it’s lost if I leave it to these thumbless backwater fucks.  You know how it is.
THOMPSON
Yeah.  I just wish it wasn’t like this.  You know?  I wish I didn’t have to do this for a living.  I wish no one had to do this for a living.
O'CONNOR
That’s a wish that’ll never come fuckin’ true.
THOMPSON
You think I don’t know that?  That’s why I’ve stuck with it this long.  This is all I’ve got left.  This stupid job.  That’s it.  I can’t go anywhere else with my life because I can’t live with the fact that the man who killed my mother never got caught because the cops in my town didn’t do anything about it.
O'CONNOR
It’s like that all over.
THOMPSON
Is that supposed to be some kind of fucking excuse?
O'CONNOR
Shit no.  You know how I am.  I’m just saying that it’s not just fuckin’ here that this crap is happening.  It’s fuckin’ everywhere.  The whole goddamn country.
THOMPSON
Are you trying to say that we should just sit back and watch it all burn?
O'CONNOR
I’m not trying to say anything.  I’m telling you why I’m fuckin’ here and why I’ve stuck with this shitty job so long.  I know that it’s probably not going to be fixed anytime soon.  Not in our lifetime, anyway.  Am I gonna give up?  Fuckin’ hell no.  And I’m glad you’re not going to.  That’s why I told you I’m so proud of you to begin with.  I don’t have any fuckin’ words of advice for you.  I don’t have anything I can say that’ll make your fuckin’ lie any easier.  If you’re gonna stick with me in this shithole, you’re probably never gonna get anywhere.  We’ve just gotta keep trying.  Maybe we’ll get the bust we need.  Probably not, but you’ve gotta keep fuckin’ trying.  Don’t ever givbe up.  That’s the only advice I can give you.  Just don’t fuckin’ give up.
O'Connor’s phone starts ringing.  He answers it quickly.  It’s his wife.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Hello?  Yeah.  What’s wrong?
He is silent for a while, listening.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Look I’m...
But his wife has hung up on him.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Dammit. 
THOMPSON
You okay?
O’CONNOR
I’m fine.
CUT TO:
EXT. O’CONNOR’S HOUSE, DAY.
O'Connor pulls into the driveway after dropping Thompson off.  He doesn’t wait this time.  He goes right in.
CUT TO:
INT. O'CONNOR’S HOUSE, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
Inside, his wife is in tears.
IRENE
Why did it take you so long to get home?
O'CONNOR
I had to take Thompson home.  You know she doesn’t have a car.
IRENE
Oh, that’s just great.
O’CONNOR
Irene, please don’t start with this again.
IRENE
Don’t start?  Don’t start?  You’re the one who started it, Ralph, you’re the one!
O'CONNOR
Why?  Because I gave my goddamn partner a fuckin’ ride home?
IRENE
Yeah, I’ll be you gave her a ride.
O'CONNOR
Oh, come on.  Don’t be so fuckin’ childish.  This is bullshit.
IRENE
I’m not being childish!
O’CONNOR
Yes you are.
IRENE
No, I’m not!
O'CONNOR
Yes you are.
IRENE
No, I’m not!
O'Connor stops, realizing what he’s just done.  It makes him simle.  He can’t help it.  He knows he shouldn’t do it, but he does it anyway.
IRENE (CONT’D)
Oh, what’s so funny?
O’CONNOR
Nothing.  We’re just both acting like little babies.  Now, let’s just forget this happened and go about our day.  Okay?
IRENE
No!  You’re not getting out of this that easy!  Why do you spend so much time with her?
O'CONNOR
Christ, Irene!  She’s my goddamn partner.  I have to.  It’s my fuckin’ job.
IRENE
Your job.  Your job, your job, your fucking job!  That’s all you care about!  What about me?
O'CONNOR
What about you?  I have this job so I can support you!  So I can support us!  So I can support our fuckin’ child!
At this, Irene starts bawling again.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Oh, christ, hon, I’m sorry.
He tries to hug her, but she pushes him away.
IRENE
Don’t you fucking touch me!  Don’t!
O'Connor looks surprised.  He wasn’t expecting this.
IRENE (CONT’D)
You never spend any time with me.  You don’t support me at all.  Staying gone all day isn’t supporting me.  Staying out with that slut you call a fucking partner isn’t supporting me.  That’s mocking me.
O’CONNOR
What the fuck?  Hon, she’s my partner.  Nothing else.  I swear to fuckin’ christ she’s nothing else.  She’s just my partner.
IRENE
I’m your partner!  I’m your fucking wife!  You think I don’t know about all that time you spend with her at the gas station all the time?  You think I don’t know about all the times you two go into the city and “eat”?  I know, Ralph.  I know!  You’re spending all your time with her!  Why don’t you just go and spend your whole goddamn life with her?
O'CONNOR
Irene, that’s absurd!  What’s the matter with you?  You’re not even making any goddamn sense.  Are you taking those pills again?  Are you?
IRENE
What do you care?
O'CONNOR
Oh, christ, Irene!  What in god’s name is going on inside your mind?  You’re gonna take too many of those fuckin’ things and we’re never gonna be able to havea fuckin’ baby!  You wanna talk about being fuckin’ selfish, you just blew me out of the fuckin’ water.
IRENE
Don’t you talk to me about selfish!  Fuck you!
O'CONNOR
Am I gonna have to send you back?
IRENE
You don’t have the balls to send me back.  You don’t have the balls, because your fucking partner has them in her hands!
O'CONNOR
Goddammit, Irene!  Will you just shut up?  You’re all fucked up on pills and I don’t even want to talk to you right now.
IRENE
Oh, you’re gonna talk!
O’CONNOR
I’m not gonna do a goddamn thing, except maybe leave.  Maybe when I come back, you won’t be acting like the fucking spoiled little brat that you are and we can have a decent conversation about this.  Until then, I’m gone.  I wanna help you, hon.  I wanna be here for you, but you’re gonna have to learn that if you’re gonna act like this, no one is ever gonna be there for you.  I love you.  I always will, but when you’re like this, it’s hard.  It’s really hard. 
O'Connor gets up and walks toward the door.  Irene says nothing.  She can’t think of anything to say.
CUT TO:
EXT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
John pulls into the driveway.  Helen is gone and so is Jimmie.
CUT TO:
INT. ELLISON HOME, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
The house is still and quiet.  The curtains in the livingroom are open slightly and the light coming in through the closed mini-blinds catches dust floating in the air, showing how slow the air is moving.
This is exactly what John wants.  He starts packing up his things.  There’s no use in him staying here, when he’s as fucked up as he is.  He just needs to go back to the VA hospital and die alone, away from everyone, away from his son.  He doesn’t want his son to remember him this way.  He doesn’t want to ruin it any more than it already is. 
He can’t be a father.  He realizes this now.  As much as he wants to be, he just can’t be a father.  His life is too cracked, his thoughts too shattered to hold together long enough to keep from losing it completely and doing something really stupid in front of Jimmie.
After he’s packed his few things up, he walks down to Jimmie’s room.  It’s almost the same as it was when he first arrived, just with different toys in the floor.  He takes a step into the room, thinking he could clean up a little, but he can’t go in.  He steps back out and looks one last time and then heads out to his car. 
CUT TO:
EXT. ELLISON HOME, DAY.
John throws his bag into the back seat of his car and gets in, pulling out of the driveway and driving off.
CUT TO:
EXT. TOWN, PLAYGROUND, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
John drives through town to go to his parents grave, like he was going to do the day before when he’d had his breakdown with James.
As he drives through town, he passes the park.  We stay at the park and reveal that Jimmie is there.
He’s not really playing with any of the other kids that are there.  He’s got too much on his mind.  His mother left him there while she went to work.  She works pretty close to the playground, so she usually drops him off there and he plays for a while and then walks over to the store and waits for her to get off work so they can go home.
He hangs out, alone for a while.  That’s when he sees the guy at the edge of the park.  He’s a scrawny, trashy looking guy who looks like he’s been on meth for a long, long time.  They guy keeps trying to get Jimmie to come over to him.
At first, Jimmie thinks it’s someone else he’s talking to, but he then realizes that he’s the only one left in the park.  He walks over toward the guy, slowly.
The guy keeps telling him about a lost dog.  He’s wearing a trench coat.  The man is obviously a pervert, but Jimmie doesn’t know that.  He’s just listening to the guy because he seems genuinely worried about his lost dog. 
The guy is about to open his trench coat and reveal himself when a car comes screeching up behind him.
He turns and sees a man getting out of the car with a gun.  He pulls a gun out of his coat pocket when he realizes what’s about to happen to him and starts firing at the same time as the man from the car.
They shoot each other several times, blood flying.  The scrawny man manages to kill the man from the car first, but it’s no good.  His filthy body is riddled with bullets.  They both die.
In the mayhem, Jimmie catches one right in the head.
CUT TO:
EXT. CEMETERY, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
John is sitting in front of his parents grave for what is probably the last time.  We can hear the wind rustling in the trees and grasshoppers buzzing unseen. 
He never says a word, but he tells his parents everything he needs to tell them.  He tells them he’s sorry for a lot of things.  Sorry he was never a good son.  Sorry he wasn’t there for them when they were sick and needed help.  Sorry he wasn’t there to say goodbye.  That’s when he realizes he needs to go back home and see Jimmie before he leaves.  He has to tell him goodbye.
CUT TO:
EXT. TOWN, DAY.
As John drives back through town, he passes the park where an ambulance is parked with its lights on.  He doesn’t even notice it.  He’s too worried about telling Jimmie goodbye.  He has no idea what he’s just passed.
CUT TO:
INT. ELLISON HOME, LATER, CONTINUOUS.
Once John is back home, the sun is starting to go down.  There still isn’t anyone home.  He sits on the edge of the bed and looks down at a picture of Jimmie.
Then Helen comes in through the door.  John gets up and walks into the livingroom and sees her as she slides down the door.  She has blood all over her shirt.  She’s crying, just past the hysterical stage.
JOHN
Where’s Jimmie?
Helen looks at him through teary eyes.  She drops her hands from her face in a heavy plop.  She can’t believe he’s asking this.  Rage is building up within her. 
She clasps her shaking hands into fists.  Her face twists into a mask of anger and sadness. 
She jumps off of the floor and runs at him.  She slams her fists into his chest, screaming at him.
HELEN
Goddammit!  Do you see this?  Do you see this?
She pulls at her bloody shirt.
HELEN (CONT’D)
Do you know what this is?  You fucking asshole!  It’s blood!  It’s fucking blood!  It’s his blood!  His blood! 
She walks back away from him, back against the wall. 
John stands there, stunned.  He doesn’t know what to say.  Doesn’t know what to do.  Everything that he was planning to do after this is gone.  His mind is blank.  He stands, silent, with a blank look on his face.
CUT TO:
EXT. CEMETERY, DAY, CONTINUOUS.
It’s hot and dry.  No rain in sight.  The heat seems to radiate off of everything.  All the people standing around at the graveside are waving little cardboard church fans with religious paintings on them (jesus crucified, jesus with a lamb, jesus praying at Gethsmane) to keep themselves cool.  It’s not working.  Sweat seems to be dripping from the sky.
John sits away from everyone.  We stay with him.  He sits up on a hill and looks down at everyone.  We see the funeral from a distance, not really being able to tell who it is who is standing there.  He is silent.
We can hear faint words coming from the preacher as he reads his funeral sermon.  We can hear Helen as she weeps.  None of the other people say anything. 
CUT TO:
EXT. PLAYGROUND, EVENING, CONTINUOUS.
The playground is empty.  Yellow police tape is still wrapped around the area where Jimmie died.  Some of it has ripped and it’s blowing in the wind.  The wind is cool, as opposed to the oppressive heat three days before at the funeral.  The temperature is dropping.  A storm is on its way, but John doesn’t care.  He’s just sitting on the merry-go-round. 
He’s holding the picture of Jimmie that he was looking at before he got the bad news.  He spins the merry-go-round aimlessly.
CUT TO:
INT. O’CONNOR’S CAR, EVENING.
O’connor is driving through town.  He’s by himself, off duty.  He’s not in a good mood.  He didn’t find out about the double murder until three days had passed.  No one knows about the third man.  His body had “vanished” before anyone arrived on the scene.  The cops decided not to worry about the mysterious blood stain where his body had been.
O’connor is fed up.  There’s not much more he can take.  He’s been thinking heavily about what his wife was talking to him about.  He’s been thinking about leaving the police force.  It’s a thought he hasn’t even considered thinking before.  But when a murder in his own town happens and a child is involved, the fact that he didn’t hear anything about it for three days disturbs him greatly.
If the police force he works with is good for anything, it’s covering things up.  The media doesn’t even know anything about it.  They cleaned up and took care of it before anyone could say anything.  Two bodies had been found.  Blood from a third.  But they weren’t talking.  Everyone in town just assumed it was another drug deal gone wrong.  The dead man was a known pedophile and a drug dealer.  Just another dead meth dealer and an innocent victim.  Happens all the time.  So what if it’s a kid?  Some consolation to the family.  They’ll pay for the funeral.  Then that’s that.
It infuriates him beyond all measure.  He’s seen it happen so many times.  If they don’t ignore the case all together, they’ll just blame it on someone.  One of their snitches they’re tired of using, or someone weird in town, blame it on Satan or something like that.  Satan is big in his part of Arkansas.  He’s a good fallback on anything strange that happens that the cops want to cover up.
As he’s driving by the park, he notices John sitting on the merry-go-round.  He doesn’t know a lot about John.  He knows who he is and where he’s been.  He knows he’s the father of the kid they found dead at the park three days before.  He stops his car and gets out. 
CUT TO:
EXT. PLAYGROUND, EVENING, CONTINUOUS.
O'Connor walks over to John, who doesn’t look up at him.  Doesn’t even seem to know someone else is there with him.
O'Connor stands by the merry-go-round for a moment, his hands in his pants pockets.  He kicks around at some dirt, trying to think of what he’s going to say. 
John still continues to spin.
O’CONNOR
So, uh, I guess you’re wondering why I’m here.
John continues to spin.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Yeah...  My, uh, I’m a cop here in town.  I don’t know if you know that or not.
John continues to spin.
O’CONNOR (CONT’D)
Yeah, I guess it doesn’t matter.  I...uh...  Damn.  I don’t know how to say this.  I...uh, I’m sorry.
John stops spinning.  He stares up at O'Connor, looking for something in his eyes.  He motions with his head for O’Connor to sit down on the merry-go-round with him, which he does.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Are you okay?
John shrugs his shoulders.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Your...  Your wife?
John looks up at him.
JOHN
Left.  Went home with her parents. 
O'CONNOR
I just want you to know...  I want you to know that the police force here isn’t going to do anything about this.  You know that, right?
John doesn’t say anything to this.  It’s something he doesn’t really care about.  He’s not interested with what the police are doing about it.  He knows what he’s doing.  He knows what has to be done.  He doesn’t need the police.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Well, I can promise you, right here and now.  I’m gonna find who did this.  I’m gonna find who did it and I’m gonna make sure they’re behind bars forever.  I don’t care what I have to do.  This is my town.  I’m not gonna let something like this happen.  I don’t care what happens to me.  Hell, I’m probably about to get fired from the force.  I think my wife’s about to leave me.  Nothing else matters to me anymore.  I have to make sure whoever did this goes down.  I’m sure it’s the last thing I’ll do.  And I uh, I wanted to make sure you knew that.  I’m here to help you.  You’re not alone.
John doesn’t say anything else.  He just sits there, staring down at the picture of his son.
O'Connor can’t read him.  He’s trying hard to tell him that he doesn’t give a tinker’s damn what he does.  He’s past the point about caring about what happens to him in regard to the police force.  He’s never stuck too closely to the book, doesn’t even really give a damn about it sometimes.  But he can’t go overboard.  If he just lets this man do what he wants (what he fears he’s capable of doing, anyway), then he’s no better a cop than the men he wants so dearly to bring down and he can’t let himself do that.  Not now, not ever.  He can bend the law all he wants, but he can’t break it.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Well, I guess I’ve gotta get back home.  See if I can salvage what’s left of my marriage.  You take care of yourself, sir.  And if you ever need anything, I’m here to help you.
John just looks down at the picture of Jimmie.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
Do you hear me?
John looks up at him.
O'CONNOR (CONT’D)
I want you to understand, sir.  If you need anything.  Anything at all, you come and see me.  I’m here to help you.  Anything.
O’Connor gets up and slowly walks off, feeling like he’s just accomplished absolutely nothing.  He gets back into his car and heads home.
* * *