BYRON STORY by John Suetmeier

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					BYRON’S STORY

      by

John Suetmeier
                                                               2

FADE IN

EXT. BLUE SKY – DAY

A beautiful summer day with white billowing clouds.   A mid-
30s male voice is heard.

                           SAM (VO)
                The story of Byron is known by
                few. But to those who have heard
                it, it has become one of their
                favorites.

EXT. SMALL COUNTRY TOWN – DAY

A tiny country town in the middle of nowhere. One main
street runs through it. A few farms appear just outside
the limits.

INSERT – GREEN SIGN

It reads:

                      Slinger, Wisconsin
                         Population 43

BACK TO SCENE

                          SAM (VO)
                We start in the small town of
                Slinger, Wisconsin. Home of. . .
                well. . .not many.

A dirty HITCHHIKER, 30s, walks backward alongside the road
with his thumb out. He’s a very thin man and his clothes
and skin are covered in grime and dirt. He has a burlap
sack slung over his shoulder.

A car zooms by without noticing him.

                          SAM (VO)(cont’d)
                Save for one special young man. A
                man who—despite his small town
                roots—will embark on an
                extraordinary journey to rival any
                tale told on this green planet.
                The story of Byron.
                                                            3



The hitchhiker points at a SMALL HOUSE that sits just
outside town. A worn picket fence with a broken door
surrounds it.

INT. SMALL HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Clutter everywhere. Half-eaten breakfast sits on the
kitchen table. An ancient black and white TV sits on the
counter.

UPSTAIRS

We can hear the sound of water running.

The bathroom door is left open a crack.

BATHROOM

A tiny bathroom. The tub is close to the top with water.
Water trickles out of the faucet.

A fully clothed YOUNG MAN, 21, is sitting in the tub,
carrying the worries of the world on his face. He’s
scrawny and has short brown hair and freckles.

On the counter next to him lies a TOASTER. The switch is
on. An envelope sits next to it. Someone’s name is
written on it.

He’s now on the brink of crying.

He reaches for the toaster.   He makes sure it is plugged
in.

He picks it up.

Tears flow from his eyes.

He holds the toaster in front of him, inches from the
water.

He closes his eyes.

Drops the toaster.

SPLASH.
                                                              4



His eyes are clenched, but nothing happens.   He opens one.

The toaster sits on his lap.

Frustrated.

He traces the cord to the wall. Towards the end, he
notices the cord is frayed and broken.

He looks at it for a moment.

He gives up and sits back in the tub in frustration.

INSERT – TOASTER

A couple slices of untoasted bread sneak out of the slots.

BACK TO SCENE

He stares down at the slices of bread. He picks up the
toaster and examines it. He looks at the bottom.

INSERT – TOASTER

The bottom reads:

                        McToaster Inc.
                       1581 Stone Blvd.
                    Los Angeles, CA 90014

BACK TO SCENE

He thinks.

BEDROOM

He walks into his bedroom in his dripping wet clothes. He
heads to his closet and takes out a backpack. He starts
stuffing clothes into it.

BACKYARD

A mid 1900s farming pickup truck sits on the lawn in the
backyard. The whole body is a grainy brown from the rust
and the tailgate is missing. It would be a miracle if it
started.
                                                          5



An old wooden shed is nearby. A little BLACK BOY, 9,
crawls around it with a crappy wooden slingshot in his
hand.

The young man bursts out the back door with a backpack
slung around his shoulder. He heads for the truck.

The boy looks up.

The man throws his backpack through the open window and
opens the door to the truck.

                             BOY
                Hey Byron!

The young man (BYRON) looks over at the boy.

                             BYRON
                Hi Paulie.

Byron doesn’t move.   The boy (PAULIE) looks at him
inquiringly.

                          PAULIE
                Where ya going? I thought we were
                going to shoot rocks at the truck
                today.

                          BYRON
                . . .I have to go.

                          PAULIE
                Well when are you gonna be back?

Byron looks at Paulie.   He can’t lie to him.

Paulie looks at the truck, then back to Byron.

Paulie knows.

                          BYRON
                I’m sorry, Paulie.

Paulie looks deathly afraid.
                                                               6

                            PAULIE
               Byron?

Byron gets in the truck.

                         PAULIE
               Byron, where are you going?

Byron looks at Paulie through the window.    He looks hurt
beyond belief.

Byron opens his backpack and files through it.

He pulls out a WRIST ROCKET.    Paulie’s slingshot pales in
comparison to it.

Byron tosses the slingshot to Paulie.

Paulie catches it.

                            BYRON
               Take care.

Paulie starts crying.

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD JUST OUTSIDE TOWN – DAY

Byron’s truck rumbles down the road. Smoke shoots out of
the tailpipe, creating a huge cloud behind him.

TRUCK

The truck makes all sorts of unhealthy noises.   Byron wipes
his eyes from the recent tearing.

He looks at the rear view mirror. He can’t see anything
beyond the constant stream of smoke behind the truck.

ROAD

The hitchhiker from before is walking down the road ahead.
The truck gets closer. The hitchhiker sees the pile coming
toward him. His thumb hesitates.

TRUCK

Byron sees the man.   He considers it.
                                                               7



He passes the hitchhiker and pulls over to the side of the
road. He reaches over and opens the passenger side door.

ROAD

The hitchhiker wades his way through the smoke.

He hops into the FLATBED.

TRUCK

Confused, Byron closes the door.    The hitchhiker opens the
back window.

                         HITCHHIKER
               Thanks for picking me up. And
               never let a hitchhiker sit in the
               cab with you.

The hitchhiker’s voice turns out to be Sam’s voice from the
beginning. Byron shifts into drive again. The truck JERKS
into gear.

The hitchhiker falls over, as they get moving.

                           HITCHHIKER
               Ouch.    I’m okay. I’m okay.

He sits back up.

The truck is up and running again.

                         HITCHHIKER
               So what’s your name?

                            BYRON
               Byron—

The hitchhiker tries saying it right after Byron says it,
to make it sound like he said it simultaneously.

                         HITCHHIKER
               (immediately after)
               Byron!

Byron is taken aback.
                                                    8



                           HITCHHIKER
               I’m Sam.    So where are you from?

                           BYRON
               Slinger—

                           HITCHHIKER (SAM)
               Slinger!

Byron is starting to get freaked out.

                         SAM
               That town back there? Doesn’t look
               like there’s much to do there. You
               still in school? No, you gotta be
               older than that. How old are you?

                         BYRON
               Twenty-one—

                         SAM
               Twenty-one!

                         BYRON
               What are you doing?

                           SAM
               What?

                         BYRON
               You-you’re repeating me.

                           SAM
               Oh. . .

There’s long a silence.

Sam lets out a chuckle.

                         SAM
               I’m just messin’ with you. So, uh,
               you gotta black friend back in
               Slinger?

                           BYRON
               . . .yes.
                                                               9



                          SAM
                What’s his name?

Byron hesitates.

                          BYRON
                . . .Aaron—

                          SAM
                Paulie!

Byron turns and looks back at him.

                          BYRON
                How do you know his name?

                          SAM
                Car.

Byron looks back. He seems to have drifted into the
opposite lane and a car is headed right for him.

Byron swerves back into the right lane.     Sam falls again.

The car HONKS as it goes by.

Sam gets back up.

                          SAM
                All in due time.

EXT. GAS STATION – DAY

A small gas station in the middle of nowhere. A country
diner sits across from it. Semis are parked outside.

Byron’s truck pulls into the gas station and next to a
pump.

Byron gets out and starts pumping gas.

Sam hops out.

                          SAM
                I’m gonna get some food. You want
                something? Burritos are good.
                                                            10



                          BYRON
                Uh. . .no, I’m kinda short on cash.

Sam stops.

                          SAM
                No, I mean. . .nevermind.

He heads in.

INSIDE

Sam walks in and starts browsing.

AT THE PUMPS

Byron watches the gas meter climb.

                          SAM (VO)
                Now, this was pretty awkward for
                Byron. I’d be lying if I said he
                never thought of just hopping back
                into that pile of a truck and
                takin’ off on dear old Sam. But
                there was something pure in his
                heart that kept him from it.

Byron finishes pumping gas.   He heads to the front seat.

He opens his backpack and searches it.

INSERT – BACKPACK

He pushes the toaster aside. There’s a set of old
binoculars, an old notebook, some sets of clothes, a few
sandwiches, sodas, and a tin box.

BACK TO SCENE

He pulls out the tin box and opens it. A pile of cash
consisting of mostly dollar bills sits inside. He grabs a
ten, a few dollars and returns the tin.
                                                           11

INSIDE

Sam stands in front of the microwave. His eyes are fixed
on the carousel carrying his burrito round and round.

Byron enters and approaches the register.

The CASHIER stands behind the counter. A mid-thirties
blond woman with curly hair and blue jeans. Typical
country gal. She constantly glares at Sam.

                              BYRON
                  Hi.

                            CASHIER
                  Your friend already took care of
                  it—

                            SAM
                  I already took care of it.

Sam interrupts her without moving his eyes from the
microwave.

She glares at Sam.

                              BYRON
                  Oh, okay.

Byron walks over to Sam.

                            SAM
                  No problem.

Byron, puzzled.

                              BYRON
                  What?

                            SAM
                  You were gonna thank me.

                            BYRON
                  Oh, thanks.

                            SAM
                  No problem.
                                                            12



                         BYRON
               What are you doing?

                         SAM
               Making a burrito.

                           BYRON
               Oh.

The microwave dings.   Sam opens it.   He takes out the
burrito.

                         SAM
               You want one?

                           BYRON
               Well, uh—

Byron starts counting his money.

                         BYRON
               How much are they?

                          SAM
               No, no.   Here.

Sam gives him a few dollars and the wrapper.

                         SAM
               Tell her we’re getting two.

Byron hesitates, but Sam pushes him away.

                           SAM
               Go, go.

Byron heads to the counter.

The cashier simply stares past Byron at Sam. Unsure of
what he’s doing, Byron holds the wrapper out to her.

                         BYRON
               Um, we’ll have two of these.

The cashier looks at the wrapper, and then glares back at
Sam.
                                                           13



Byron looks back at Sam, who’s dressing his burrito with an
abundance of condiments. Without looking up, Sam simply
waves his hand at Byron.

Byron looks back at her.

                           BYRON
               Please?

The cashier rings it up, staring at Sam the whole time.

                         CASHIER
               Two fifty-one—

                         SAM
               It’s gonna be two fifty-one!

                         CASHIER
               You shut up back there! God damn,
               I’ve never had such an annoying
               customer! Repeating everything I
               say! Just shut up!

Byron is frightened.

Sam keeps dressing his burrito.

Byron holds out the money.

She SNATCHES the money out of his hand and SLAMS the change
down on the counter.

Byron cautiously picks up the change and hurries back to
Sam.

                         SAM
               Geez, what’s her problem? Here, I
               picked out a beef and bean for you.

Byron looks down at the frozen burrito on the counter.

                         SAM
               Most people prefer the beef and
               bean. Me, I like the bean and
               cheese.
                                                          14

                           BYRON
                 But she rang in two of yours.

                           SAM
                 Ah, don’t worry about it.

Afraid, Byron slowly looks back at the counter.

He sees her glaring at them.

He turns back.

                           SAM
                 Just try the beef and bean.

                              BYRON
                 Okay.

Byron stares at the burrito.      Sam looks at him.

                           SAM
                 Well, aren’t you gonna cook it?

                              BYRON
                 . . .yeah.

Byron unwraps the burrito and puts it on a paper plate.

Then he looks at the microwave.

Pauses.

                           SAM
                 Two and a half minutes.

                              BYRON
                 Yeah.

Byron tries prying the microwave door open.

                           SAM
                 Whoa, whoa, whoa—

                           CASHIER
                 What the hell are you doing?
                                                           15

Sam stops Byron and pushes the ‘open door’ button on the
microwave.

                         SAM
               (to cashier)
               It’s okay, it’s okay.

                         CASHIER
               I ain’t talkin’ to you!

                         SAM
               Hey, just let him make his burrito.

The cashier is burning with rage.

                          SAM
               (to Byron)
               You ever use a microwave before?

                         BYRON
               Um, no.

Sam lets out a laugh and starts cooking the burrito for
him.

                         SAM
               You just push open, put in your
               food, close, put in 2-3-0, and push
               start.

Byron watches the burrito cook.

                         SAM
               Yeah, fifty times.

                         BYRON
               What?

                         SAM
               It spins around fifty times on this
               one. I counted.

                         BYRON
               Oh.
                                                              16

The two stand upright next to the microwave. Sam is
holding his plate. The burrito is piled high with sauce
and sour cream.

The counter next to them is littered with sauce and sour
cream packets.

They both look at the cashier.

The cashier looks like she’s going to attack them the next
time they talk to her.

                          SAM
               (to Byron)
               You want a soda?

OUTSIDE

The cashier’s SCREAM echoes out of the gas station.

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – DAY

An isolated road. Byron’s truck drives down it, the cloud
of smoke shooting from the exhaust.

TRUCK

Sam sits in the front with him now. He munches on his
burrito. His cheeks are smeared with food. Byron’s
untouched burrito sits on his backpack in the middle seat.

                         SAM
               (mouth full)
               Aren’t you gonna eat it?

                         BYRON
               Yeah. . .course I am.

Byron picks it up.   He reluctantly takes a bite out of it.

Chews.

Sam watches him.

Swallows.
                                                             17

                           BYRON
                 This is good!

                            SAM
                 See?   I told you.

Byron starts eating faster.

                           SAM
                 Hey, hey, slow down there. The
                 faster it goes in the faster it
                 comes out, ya know?

Byron stops.    He slowly chews on the food already in his
mouth.

                           SAM
                 So where are you headed anyway?

                           BYRON
                 If I give you an answer, are you
                 going to repeat it back to me?

                              SAM
                 We’ll see.

                           BYRON
                 . . .California.

Byron expects him to say it back, but he doesn’t.

                           SAM
                 What’s in California?

Byron reaches for his backpack. He pulls out the toaster
and hands it to Sam. Sam looks down at it, then back at
Byron.

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – NIGHT

The truck rumbles down the isolated highway.   Thick black
forests now surround the road on both sides.

The truck pulls over.

Sam gets out.
                                                            18

                           BYRON
               Hurry up.

Sam sprints off into the darkness of the trees.

Byron waits with the engine on.

He stares out into the sky.   Clouds block all the stars.

Byron picks up the toaster.   He looks at the bottom and
studies the address.

A few moments pass.

                         BYRON
               Hey Sam, what’s taking so long?

No answer.

Byron looks into the dark forest.

                           BYRON
               Sam?

Byron puts the toaster down and steps out.

TREELINE

He wanders out to the first tree and peers inside the thick
forest.

                           BYRON
               Hey Sam!

He waits for a moment.    No answer.

Byron hesitates.   He looks back at the truck, and then back
into the forest.

He steps in.

DARK FOREST

As if stepping into another dimension, the trees quickly
envelope Byron. The night sounds attack from all sides.
                                                             19

Byron pushes his way past low branches and overgrown bushes
and weeds.

                           BYRON
                 Sam?

He wades farther in.

The forest gets thicker.

Thicker.

                           BYRON
                 Sam?

He has trouble navigating the dense woods.

He looks back.

He can no longer see the headlights of his truck.

Everything is black, outlined with slivers of moonlight
that pass through the leaves.

He looks forward.

Something sparkles in the distance between the trees.

Byron keeps moving.

ENCHANTED LAKE

A very small lake sits isolated in the middle of the
forest. The moonlight reflects off of it, giving it an
almost magical aura.

A tiny wooden pier hangs out from the shore.   The wood is
broken and aged.

A YOUNG BOY stands at the end of the pier. He is around
ten years old and wears dirty jean shorts and a t-shirt.

He stares out at the lake.

Byron pushes out of the thick forest, almost falling flat
on his face. He regains his composure and stares out at
the magical lake in awe.
                                                              20



He slowly walks along the shoreline towards the pier.   His
eyes stay fixed on the glimmering lake.

                         SAM (VO)
               Now, it’s not like Byron had never
               seen a lake or anything before.
               But there was something magical
               about this place.

He stops at the pier.

He notices the boy.

                          BYRON
               . . .hi.

The boy doesn’t move.   Watches the lake.

                          BYRON
               It’s a little late to be out, don’t
               you think?

After a little while.

                          BOY
               No.

Byron steps out on the pier.

                         BYRON
               What’s your name?

                         BOY
               . . .Destin.

Byron approaches cautiously.    The planks creak under his
weight.

                         DESTIN
               Be careful, the wood is old.

                         BYRON
               What are you doing out here?

                         DESTIN
               It’s going to rain soon.
                                                             21



Byron looks up at the sky.    No stars.    Only clouds.

                         BYRON
               Do you live around here?

Destin doesn’t answer his question.

                            BYRON
               Destin?

                         DESTIN
               I’m waiting for my love.

                         BYRON
               . . .your love?

                         DESTIN
               She’ll be here.

                         BYRON
               When is she coming?

                            DESTIN
               . . .soon.

Byron looks at him curiously.       Destin owns a sad, yet
hopeful face.

                         BYRON
               How long have you been here?

                            DESTIN
               Forever.

Byron looks at him curiously. Destin looks like he’s on
the brink of crying, but his will is strong.

                           SAM (OS)
               Byron!    Where are you!

Sam’s voice comes from the woods.

Byron looks back.

Then back at Destin.
                                                             22

                         BYRON
               I have to go.

Destin says nothing.   He continues looking out at the lake.

Byron steps away.

Rain starts falling.

Byron gets to the edge of the trees.

It’s pouring rain now.

He looks back at the boy.

The boy stands still, the rain pounding down on him.
Unflinching.

Byron walks away.

COUNTRY ROAD

Byron emerges out near his truck.

It’s not raining.    His clothes are completely dry.

Byron looks up at the sky.

The stars are out.

Sam is waiting by the truck.

                         SAM
               Where’d you go?

Byron continues watching the sky.   Sam looks up.

EXT. MADISON, WISCONSIN – DAY

A medium-sized city.

Their truck comes rumbling down a single lane highway just
outside the city. Clouds and clouds of smoke billow from
the back of it.

The truck jerks roughly.
                                                            23

He coasts to a stop on the shoulder.

The engine coughs, then dies.

TRUCK

Byron tries starting it.      It doesn’t turn.

                              BYRON
                  Uh oh.

He tries again.    Nothing.

                            SAM
                  Pop the hood.

Byron pops the hood.       Sam gets out.   Byron follows.

OUTSIDE

Sam opens the hood and looks at the engine.

                            BYRON
                  So what’s wrong?

Sam fiddles around, careful not to burn himself.

                              SAM
                  Hold on.

Sam fiddles around some more.

                              BYRON
                  Well?

Sam stands up, wiping his hands off.

                            SAM
                  It’s broken.

                            BYRON
                  What’s broken? Can we fix it?

                            SAM
                  The truck’s broken.

Sam walks over to the cab.      Byron follows.
                                                            24



                         BYRON
               What exactly is broken?

                         SAM
               I don’t know.

Sam grabs his burlap sack from the cab.

He starts walking away from the truck.    Byron doesn’t move.

Sam stops.

                         SAM
               You coming?

Byron looks at his truck.

                            SAM
               Come on.     The city isn’t that far
               away.

Byron leans back against his truck and holds his head.

Sam waits another moment.

He shrugs and walks away, leaving Byron alone.

A look of defeat is on Byron’s face.

He turns around and KICKS the truck.

EXT. SIDE OF THE ROAD – NIGHT

With the sun recently setting, everything is painted in a
dark blue. The truck still sits on the shoulder. Byron is
sitting against it.

The defeat is still planted on his face.

Finally, he gets up.   He walks over to the driver’s side
and opens the door.

He gets in.
                                                             25

TRUCK

He tries starting the engine—but stops.

The KEYS are gone.

Fed up, Byron PUNCHES the steering wheel and rests his face
on it.

ROAD

A pair of headlights comes over the top of a hill, heading
towards the truck.

A SIGN is lit on the top of the car.

It gets closer.

Closer still, and the sign becomes readable.

INSERT – SIGN

It reads:   PIZZA HOUSE.

BACK TO SCENE

The dark red, late-80’s Honda slows to a stop behind
Byron’s truck.

TRUCK

Byron sees the light pouring onto his back.

He sighs.

ROAD

Byron slowly gets out.

A SILHOUETTED FIGURE steps out from the Honda, the engine
still idling.

The light blinds Byron.

He shields his eyes.
                                                          26

The figure says nothing, but steps out in front of the
lights.

A subtle look of fear comes over Byron’s face.

The figure steps out and reveals herself. She’s a cute,
short, mousy GIRL of twenty with a black PIZZA HOUSE
uniform on.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               Having some car trouble?

Like a deer in headlights, Byron doesn’t answer.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               I past you a few times today. I
               figured you might need a ride.

A deer in headlights.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               Look, do you want a ride or not?

Still

a

deer.

Fed up, the girl turns back for her car.

Finally shaken out of the trance.

                            BYRON
               Wait.

She stops.

                            PIZZA GIRL
               It talks.

Byron hurries to his truck.

EXT. CITY STREETS – NIGHT

The Honda rolls down the semi-busy streets of Madison.
                                                              27

HONDA

Byron sits silently on the passenger’s side.   His backpack
sits on his lap. The girl drives.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               I’m not supposed to have people
               riding with me while I’m working.
               So is there a place I can drop you
               off?

She looks at him.   No answer.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               A gas station, maybe?

                         BYRON
               Oh. . .yeah. Okay.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               What’s your name?

                          BYRON
               Byron.

                         PIZZA GIRL
               My name’s Ronnie.

                          BYRON
               Ronnie?

                         RONNIE
               Yeah, you got a problem with it?

                         BYRON
               No, no. I just never met a girl
               named Ronnie before.

                         RONNIE
               Yeah, well. My parents loved
               Frankie Valli. Personally, I hate
               them. Too whiny.

She turns her car into the next gas station.

                         RONNIE
               I should probably get some gas.
                                                             28



Byron looks out at a small STOP ‘N GO.   One car is parked
in front.

Ronnie parks next to a pump.

Ronnie sees the sadness in his face.

                             RONNIE
                 You okay?

                             BYRON
                 Yeah.

Byron gets out of the car. Closes the door.   Ronnie gets
out. She fiddles with the pump.

                           BYRON
                 Thanks again.

                           RONNIE
                 No problem.

Byron stares out at the night.

INSIDE

Byron steps inside the tiny store of the gas station.   A
PUNK KID mans the cash register. He has green hair,
piercings, and stares blankly at Byron.

Byron wanders down the aisles.

He stops in front of the frozen aisle.   He looks in.

He sees frozen burritos.

He continues staring.

Frozen burritos.

Staring.

Frozen burritos.

Still staring.
                                                              29

                         PUNK KID
               Hey, you gonna buy something?

Byron ignores him. He grabs a burrito from the freezer.
He heads to the counter.

The door CHIMES as a ROBBER in all black comes running in.
A nylon stretches over his face. A GUN in one hand.
Pillow case in the other.

                         ROBBER
               All right, hands in the air!

Byron and the kid throw their hands up.

                         ROBBER
               Open the register and the safe.
               Now!

The kid jumps. He fumbles with the register.     It opens.
He bends down and opens the safe.

                         ROBBER
               Okay, both of you over there.
               Kneel down and face the chips!

The kid and Byron move to the chip aisle. They kneel down
and stare at the chips. The robber goes around the counter
and starts filling his pillow case.

He stops after a few seconds.

                         ROBBER
               Where the hell is the rest of the
               money?

                         PUNK KID
               Look man, that’s all we got. Just
               take it. We won’t tell anyone.

The robber glares at him.   He stomps around the counter.

                         ROBBER
               You think I’m messing with you?

The robber pulls Josh by the collar.   He pistol WHIPS him.
                                                             30

Byron winces.

                          ROBBER
                Where’s the second safe?   I know
                you have a second safe!

                          PUNK KID
                I’m sorry, we don’t!

The robber whips him again.

Byron winces.

The robber pulls the kid to the counter and pins the kid’s
head to it with the barrel of his gun.

                          ROBBER
                Where is it?

                          PUNK KID
                I told you, man! Oh my God, don’t
                shoot me.

Byron closes his eyes.    He slowly stands up.

He walks down the aisle towards them, opening his eyes.

                            SAM (VO)
                Now, it   coulda been that Byron had
                a surge   of courage and decided
                that he   had had enough. But well,
                he just   kinda had a death wish.

Byron wields the FROZEN BURRITO.

The robber turns around.

                            ROBBER
                Hey—

Byron swings. The frozen burrito HITS the robber square in
the temple, knocking him out cold.

EXT. STOP N GO – MINUTES LATER

Byron is sitting outside the door with his burrito. The
door chimes and the punk kid comes out. Ronnie comes out
                                                                31

behind him.   She pulls out her CELL PHONE and starts
dialing.

                          PUNK KID
                The cops are on their way.

Byron doesn’t say anything.    Bites.   Chews.   The punk kid
lights up a cigarette.

                          PUNK KID
                Thanks for the help, man. I was
                about ready to whoop on that dude
                something fierce. So what’s your
                name?

                            BYRON
                Byron.

                            PUNK KID
                I’m Josh.

                          BYRON
                What if he wakes up before the
                police get here?

                          JOSH
                Don’t worry about it.

Byron turns around and glances into the store.

The robber is tied to a wire potato chip display right
inside the doors. His face has also been drawn on with
lipstick.

Byron looks closer at the robber.

The lipstick spell out words on his forehead:     DORITOS 2
FOR $5.

                          RONNIE
                (into phone)
                Hey, it’s Ronnie. I’m gonna be a
                little late coming back. The gas
                station I was at was held up. . .

Noticing the two listening to her, she walks away,
continuing her conversation.
                                                            32



                         JOSH
               You know Ronnie?

                         BYRON
               Not really. My truck broke down
               and she picked me up.

                         JOSH
               Oh, where were you headed?

                         BYRON
               California.

                         JOSH
               Oh, I’ve always wondered what Cali
               was like. You wanna be a movie
               star or something?

Byron opens his backpack. He pulls out the toaster and
hands it to Josh. He points at the bottom. Josh looks
very confused.

                         BYRON
               I need to go there.

                          JOSH
               So. . .does your dad own it or
               something?

                         BYRON
               I just have to go there.

Josh looks at Byron for a moment.

                         JOSH
               I could be a movie star.

Josh hands the toaster back to Byron.   Ronnie reappears,
pocketing her cell phone.

INT. SMALL APARTMENT – LATER THAT NIGHT

A small, untidy one-bedroom apartment. Old mail is piled
on the counter. Byron sits on a broken recliner. Ronnie
sits on a couch with a pizza on the coffee table. Josh
walks in from the kitchen with three beers.
                                                            33



He hands one to Ronnie. Then one to Byron. Byron stares
at it for a moment. Josh sits on the floor, facing the
two. They start eating.

                            JOSH
               You drink?

                            BYRON
               Uh, yeah.

Byron twists the bottle open. He takes a swig—then stops.
The beer sits in his mouth as his face scrunches up.
Ronnie lets out a short laugh.

                         RONNIE
               You don’t have to drink it.

Byron painfully swallows.

                         BYRON
               No, it’s good.

                         RONNIE
               Sure it is. So, California huh?

                         BYRON
               Not anymore.

Byron takes another painful swig.

                         BYRON
               I should just go back home.

                          JOSH
               Well shit man, that’s no good.
               You didn’t even make it outta the
               state yet.

                         RONNIE
               I tried moving out there before.
               I didn’t get very far either.

                            BYRON
               For what?
                                                          34

                         RONNIE
               Well, I wanted to get a job at the
               San Diego Zoo. And maybe go to
               school out there. . .but then I
               met Mike.

                         BYRON
               Mike?

Byron takes another painful swig.

                         JOSH
               Her ex-boyfriend.

                         BYRON
               What happened?

Ronnie doesn’t answer. She shifts uncomfortably. Byron
looks at Josh, who shakes his head. After a moment, she
looks over at Byron.

                         RONNIE
               Can I come with you?

                         BYRON
               Uh. . .

                         RONNIE
               We can take my car.    It’s still in
               pretty good shape.

Byron looks reluctant.

                         RONNIE
               Please? Look, you wanted to get
               to California. I can help you. I
               just—I just want to see San Diego.
               See if I belong there.

Byron takes another painful swig.

EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING – DAY

A small apartment building to go with Josh’s small
apartment. Byron and Josh wait in the tiny parking lot.
Byron has his backpack strapped on.
                                                              35

                         JOSH
               Well, looks like you’re back on
               track. You be careful out there.
               There’s a lotta weirdos. . .and
               crackheads. . .and serial killers.

Byron doesn’t say anything.    They stand in silence for a
few moments.

                         JOSH
               All right. You talked me into it.
               I’m coming with.

Josh turns and hurries back into his apartment.

A loud HONK sounds.    Byron turns to look.

HIS TRUCK is rumbling towards him.   Sam is in the driver’s
seat.

Byron stares in awe.   The truck stops next to him.

                         SAM
               Byron! I been lookin’ all over
               for you, buddy!

                           BYRON
               Wha—how?

                         SAM
               I know a guy.

Sam looks at Byron’s happy face.

                         SAM
               No problem.

                         BYRON
               Wha—oh, thanks.

Josh comes running out of the building with a duffle bag
over his shoulder. He freezes at the sight of the truck.

                         JOSH
               What the hell is—
                                                             36

                         SAM
               What the hell is this? Yeah, it’s
               a truck. And don’t pretend like
               you went and packed that fast.
               You had that bag ready last night.

                         JOSH
               Who is this guy?

                         BYRON
               That’s Sam. Sam, this is Josh—

                          SAM
               Josh!   Yes, of course.

                         BYRON
               And, uh, we have another one
               coming too.

                         SAM
               Well, we can’t fit that many
               people in the cab.

                         BYRON
               Oh, we’re gonna take her car.
               It’ll be fine.

                         JOSH
               There she is.

They all look down the street.

                           BYRON
               See?    It’s gonna be—

Ronnie’s car runs a stop sign and takes a wide turn.   Too
wide. She PLOWS into a tree.

EXT. RURAL HIGHWAY – DAY

The truck rolls down the highway. Byron, Ronnie, and Sam
are squeezed into the cab. In the bed, Josh clenches onto
the truck that’s going highway speed.

                          RONNIE
               (laughing)
               You doing okay back there?
                                                              37



                           JOSH
               Shut up.

                         SAM
               Just relax. I’ve ridden in plenty
               of truck beds and I never fell
               out.

The truck JUMPS as they go over a bump. Josh bounces and
FALLS OUT through where the tailgate should be.

                           SAM
               Oh shit.

He rolls and rolls.

The truck stops.   The three get out and run to Josh’s aid.

They stop and look down at Josh, who lies on his back.
Dusty and scratched.

                           BYRON
               You okay?

Josh moans.

EXT. RURAL HIGHWAY – MINUTES LATER

Byron, Ronnie, and Josh sit in the cab now.   Sam relaxes in
the bed. Josh lets out occasional moans.

                         SAM
               So I know it’s a little outta the
               way, but Chicago will be well
               worth it.

                         RONNIE
               And if it’s not?

                           SAM
               Trust me.    I know a guy.

Josh moans.
                                                             38

EXT. ANGEL WINGS NURSING HOME – DAY

A very small nursing home that sits just inside Slinger,
WI. Less than a dozen cars are parked in the lot.

ANGEL WINGS LOBBY

Paulie approaches the front desk with a lunch bag in his
hand. A cute NURSE sits behind it. Her nametag reads:
ALI.

                         ALI
               Hey Paulie.

                         PAULIE
               Hi Ali.

                         ALI
               Here to see Russell?

Paulie nods, walking past her.

                         ALI
               Have you seen Byron lately?

He shakes his head without turning around.

ROOM 6

A very small room. A tiny bed sits along one wall.   A few
pictures sit on a dresser. There’s one of BYRON.

A frail, ELDERLY MAN sits in a wheelchair. Strands of
white hair are scattered on his otherwise bald head. He
stares out the only window in the room.

A knock at the door.

Paulie pushes it open.

                         PAULIE
               Hi Mr. Thomas.

The elderly man (MR. THOMAS) turns to him. He smiles
warmly. His voice is very weak. He doesn’t seem to
recognize Paulie.
                                                         39

                            MR. THOMAS
               Hi. . .

                            PAULIE
               Paulie.

                            MR. THOMAS
               Ah.   Yes.

                         PAULIE
               I brought you some lunch.

Paulie approaches and puts the bag on the bed near Mr.
Russell Thomas. Paulie starts unpacking it. Russell turns
his attention back to the window.

                         PAULIE
               How are you doing today?

                          RUSSELL
               Fine.   Just fine.

Paulie pulls out a cup of chocolate Jello pudding.

                         PAULIE
               I got your favorite.

                         RUSSELL
               Ali bought me a new frame for my
               picture today.

Russell points a shaky hand to the dresser.

                            PAULIE
               Cool.

                         RUSSELL
               She’s a nice girl.

                            PAULIE
               Yeah.

Paulie hands him a spoon and the pudding. Russell takes it
weakly. He continues staring out the window.

                         RUSSELL
               Ali bought me a new frame today.
                                                            40



Paulie’s smile frowns slightly, but he catches himself.

                         PAULIE
               That’s cool.

                         RUSSELL
               Oh, I have pudding.      Thanks Byron.

Paulie doesn’t flinch.

                         PAULIE
               No problem, Mr. Thomas.

Paulie pulls out another cup of pudding and starts eating
it himself.

                         PAULIE
               Byron says hi.

                           RUSSELL
               Who?

                           PAULIE
               Byron.    Your grandson.

                         RUSSELL
               Oh. Did I tell you about my new
               picture frame?

                          PAULIE
               . . .no.   It’s very nice.

                         RUSSELL
               Ali got it for me.

The pudding in his hand is still untouched.

ANGEL WINGS LOBBY

Paulie walks to the front desk.      Ali is still there.

                         ALI
               Did you see the new picture frame
               I picked up for him?

Paulie looks at her.
                                                           41



                             PAULIE
                . . .yeah.

                          ALI
                His Alzheimer’s is getting worse,
                Paulie.

                             PAULIE
                I know.

                          ALI
                You should tell Byron to come by.
                I haven’t seen him in awhile.

Paulie walks away.

EXT. DOWNTOWN CHICAGO – DAY

The crowded streets of Chicago. Byron’s truck rolls down a
busy street. Ronnie drives. Sam sits in the back. Byron
stares out at the tall buildings in awe.

                             SAM
                Chicago.

Sam stands up in the bed of the truck while it’s moving.
He holds his arms out and closes his eyes, letting the wind
blow through him. Byron looks back at him.

EXT. HUNG’S CHINESE RESTAURANT – DAY

A small Chinese restaurant nestled in the heart of
Chinatown. Chinese lanterns hang from the doorway.   The
truck slows to a stop at the curb.

Sam hops out.   He walks around to face Byron.

                          SAM
                All right. I’m gonna be a little
                bit. Maybe you guys should go to
                the museum or something.

                          BYRON
                What are you doing?
                                                             42

                         SAM
               I’m gonna try to get us some
               transportation. Don’t worry about
               it.

Byron looks past him at the restaurant.

                         BYRON
               Here?

                         SAM
               Hey! Shedd aquarium!     You should
               go there. Dolphins!

                         RONNIE
               That sounds fun!    Let’s go there.

                         BYRON
               But—

Byron looks at Josh, who shrugs.

EXT. SHEDD AQUARIUM PARKING LOT – DAY

The truck is parked in the large parking lot just outside
Shedd Aquarium. The large building sits on the coast of
Lake Michigan. Byron, Josh, and Ronnie all get out of the
truck.

ENTRANCE

The place is filled with wildlife and huge aquariums.
There are big fish and small fish. Snakes and lizards. A
tour guide leads a group of kids, explaining the animals
along the way.

UNDERGROUND AQUARIUM

The three walk into a large dark room with a huge aquarium
that goes past the ceiling. A lot of exotic fish and
turtles swim around in it.

Ronnie walks up to the glass and presses her nose against
it. She gazes at the fish. One swims closer to her. She
moves her finger, pretending to pet it.
                                                             43

                         JOSH
               I gotta pee.

Josh walks away.

Byron nears the glass of the aquarium.

Ronnie blindly grasps for him.    She catches his hand and
drags him closer to look.

                         RONNIE
               It’s so pretty.

She keeps pretending to pet the same fish.

Byron looks down at his hand that still holds hers.

                         MALE VOICE (OS)
               That’s the flubbermouth.

Byron turns. Their hands release.    Ronnie continues
staring at the fish.

A tall BLACK JANITOR, mid-30s, stands behind them. He
leans on a mop and watches the fish. His nametag reads:
MARTIN.

                         MARTIN
               When it’s happy, it’s cheeks puff
               out and vibrate.

Almost on queue, the flubbermouth’s cheeks puff and shake.
Ronnie smiles.

INT. SHEDD AQUARIUM/CAFETERIA – EVENING

A small cafeteria. Kids run around with souvenirs from the
gift shop while their parents try to eat. Byron, Ronnie,
Josh, and Martin sit at a table eating. Josh is reading
through a brochure.

                         RONNIE
               Why are you just a janitor if you
               know so much about the animals
               here?
                                                           44

                          MARTIN
                Well, I haven’t been here too
                long. And they kinda prefer
                people with degrees telling the
                stories. You guys from Chicago?

                           RONNIE
                No, we’re from Madison. Well,
                most of us. He’s from some small
                hick town.

Ronnie looks at Byron.   Martin follows the look.

                          BYRON
                We’re just passing through.

                            MARTIN
                Where to?

                          BYRON
                California.

                            MARTIN
                Oh.

Martin falls silent.   He looks at his watch.

                          MARTIN
                Well, my break’s up.    I’ll see you
                guys around.

Martin gets up and walks off.     Josh’s eyes widen on
something on the brochure.

                          JOSH
                Oh, sharks!

He stands up.

INT. SHEDD AQUARIUM/SHARK ROOM – NIGHT

Another underground room with an aquarium that stretches
across it. The room is surprisingly scarce of people.
Josh, Byron, and Ronnie enter. Josh looks around.
                                                            45

                         JOSH
               Ah dammit. We missed the
               presentation.

Josh approaches the tank.

A LARGE shadow of something swims past.    He jumps.

                         JOSH
               You guys see that?

Byron and Ronnie approach the tank and start peering in.

                         RONNIE
               The water’s too murky.

                         SAM (OS)
               There you guys are.

The three jump around.    Sam stands before them, munching on
Chinese takeout.

                         SAM
               Ready to go?

                         BYRON
               Where’s the bathroom—

                         SAM
               The bathroom’s upstairs.

                            BYRON
               Okay.     I’ll meet you guys outside,
               then.

Byron hurries off.

BALCONY OVER TANKS

The bathroom doors line the wall. Just over the edge, we
can see open water from the several tanks separated by
huge, tall rocks. In a further tank, dolphins jump in and
out of the water.

Byron walks out of the bathroom.
                                                                46

He walks over to the balcony. He leans against the barrier
and looks down at the water below. A sad look comes over
him.

                         SAM (VO)
               Byron was still thinking about it.
               About being alone. About killing
               himself. It just never really
               occurred to him that now could be
               the time.

Without warning, the barrier GIVES WAY. The bolts holding
it down break. Eyes wide, Byron FALLS FORWARD.

Down.

Down.

SHARK TANK

Byron splashes into the water.      His head pops out of the
water. Spitting.

                          BYRON
               Help!   Someone help!

He looks around.   The place is empty.

Byron looks at the water.

A SHARK FIN surfaces for a split second.      Then dives back
down.

                         BYRON
               Oh my God! Help!       Help!

Byron flails his arms violently.

The FIN reappears.   Closer.   Then back down.

                            BYRON
               OH SHIT!

A strange sound emits from above him.     He looks up.

A DOLPHIN has leapt from its tank, high over the tall
rocks, and SPLASHES into his. It dives down.
                                                              47



Byron sees the shark fin again.    It closes in.

But an unforeseen force jolts Byron forward. He’s riding
something. The dolphin. Byron realizes it and holds onto
the dolphin for dear life.

He rides around the edge of the tank, gaining speed.

The dolphin dives down into the water. Byron clutches on,
hugging the dolphin. It SPEEDS to the surface. Then JUMPS
the rocks again.

FLYING high over the dividers.

Byron looks at the world around him, suspended in mid-air
for seconds.

Then SPLASHES back down into the dolphin tank.

EXT. SHEDD AQUARIUM/PARKING LOT – MINUTES LATER

Ronnie, Sam, and Josh wait next to a half-sized school bus.
A SHORT BUS. Byron walks out with a towel over his
shoulders. His hair is wet and he wears a really baggy
janitor’s jumpsuit. Martin follows behind him.

The three look at them.

                         JOSH
               What the hell happened to you?

Byron doesn’t answer.   He looks at the bus behind them.

                         MARTIN
               He fell in the dolphin tank.

                         BYRON
               Shark tank.

                         MARTIN
               Yeah, sure.

Sam’s eyes are fixed awkwardly on Martin.   Martin notices.

                          MARTIN
               What?
                                                             48



                          SAM
                It’ll be okay.    You should come
                with us.

                          MARTIN
                Wha—who is this guy?

                          SAM
                The name’s Sam.

                          MARTIN
                Do you always freak people out the
                first time you meet them?

                            SAM
                . . .yes.

Martin walks off. Sam continues watching him.       Martin
glances back a few times nervously.

                          SAM
                He needs help.

Sam looks to be in deep thought.    The other three watch him
expectantly.

                          SAM
                Let’s get something to drink.
                We’ll head out tomorrow.

Sam turns around and hops into the bus. Ronnie and Josh
follow. Byron stares up at it. Sam hops behind the wheel.

                          BYRON
                Hey, who’s bus is this?

                           SAM
                Mine.   Hop in.

Byron enters.

INSIDE BUS

The bus has two rows of seats going two-deep. Behind that,
a small bed replaces what would be the third set of seats.
                                                            49

Ronnie and Josh take the two separate seats in the back.
Byron sits down in the seat nearest Sam.

                         BYRON
               Oh, I need my backpack.

                         RONNIE
               Right there.

His backpack sits on the floor along with everyone else’s
bags.

Sam starts the bus.   He shifts and drives.

                          SAM
               (to Byron)
               So, saved by a dolphin, huh?

                         BYRON
               How did you know?

                            SAM
               Don’t ask.

Sam winks.

INT. ELLA’S LOUNGE – LATE-NIGHT

A trendy lounge. Many of the drinks have umbrellas in
them. Byron, Sam, Ronnie, and Josh are sitting in a
secluded corner with various alcoholic drinks in their
hands. They all look pretty tipsy, except for Sam.

                         JOSH
               All right, B. You gonna tell us
               what’s up with that toaster or
               not?

                         BYRON
               Hell no. That is between me and
               the toaster. I’d rather not get
               you caught in the middle of that.

                         JOSH
               Middle of what?
                                                                 50

                            BYRON
                  The toaster.

                             JOSH
                  What?

Sam glances at something on the wall.      Byron notices.   He
looks up.

INSERT – WALL CLOCK

It reads 11:04.

BACK TO SCENE

                            BYRON
                  Sam, you keep looking at the
                  clock.

                            SAM
                  No I don’t.

                            BYRON
                  You just did.

                            JOSH
                  Yeah, I saw you.

                            SAM
                  Buncha drunks.    I need some air.

Sam gets up.    He walks out.

Byron looks at Josh.      Josh stares blankly at his drink.

Byron nudges him.

Josh looks at him quizzically.

Byron jerks his head towards the door.

Josh stares at him some more.       No comprehension.

Byron jerks his head even more.

Josh continues staring at him.
                                                           51

                          RONNIE
                Dammit Josh. He wants you to make
                sure Sam is okay.

                             JOSH
                Oh.

Josh gets up and leaves.

Ronnie watches Byron play with his drink.

                          RONNIE
                You ever gonna tell us why you’re
                going to LA?

                          BYRON
                It’s the toaster.

                          RONNIE
                Yeah, I know. We all know you’re
                having problems with this toaster.
                How come you don’t just call them?
                I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m
                all for this cross country trip
                with two total strangers.

                          BYRON
                . . .well what’s the story with
                your ex-boyfriend?

                          RONNIE
                Answering a question with a
                question. All right, how about
                this? I’ll tell you about him
                once you’re ready to tell me about
                this toaster.

                             BYRON
                . . .okay.

Ronnie’s hand comes forward and she brushes his with her
index finger.

EXT. THE CANTERBURY – NIGHT

Another bar.   It seems a little more run-down from the
outside.
                                                             52



The four head up to the doors.   They stop at the doorman,
who checks their ids.

                         JOSH
               I was fine with the last place.
               Those seats were cushy.

                         SAM
               Sometimes you gotta try out new
               places.

                          BYRON
               Yeah, I was fine with the last
               place too.

                         SAM
               Look, we’ll go back there later.

The four head in.

INSIDE

The four grab the first table they see. It’s a darker bar.
Smoke lingers in the air. A few older drunks line the
counter.

                         RONNIE
               This place depresses me.

Sam looks over at the counter.   Byron copies him.   Then
recognition dawns on his face.

                         BYRON
               Hey, is that Martin?

Sitting at the other end of the counter is Martin. He
still wears his janitor’s uniform. A line of empty glasses
sits on front of him. He stares sadly down at his current
endeavor, half gone.

                         BYRON
               What’s he doing here?

No one answers him.
                                                              53

Sam continues watching Martin, a concerned look on his
face.

WITH MARTIN

Martin takes a gulp of his rum and coke.

Another male BAR PATRON walks by, nudging him on accident.

                         MARTIN
               What the fuck!

Martin stands up and faces the man.

                         MARTIN
               You just gonna fuckin’ bump into
               me like I’m not here? Huh!

Martin pushes the man.   The man staggers, almost spilling
his drink.

                         BAR PATRON
               I’m sorry, man. I’m really sorry.
               Let me buy you a—

                         MARTIN
               I don’t need you to buy me a
               fuckin’ drink!

Martin pushes him again.

A BOUNCER jumps Martin from behind. He puts him in a full
nelson, pulling him back towards the exit.

                         MARTIN
               What—let me go!

                         BOUNCER
               You’re outta here buddy. Don’t
               fuckin’ come back either.

The bouncer heaves him out the door.

OUTSIDE

Martin stumbles and falls on the sidewalk.    He lies there
for awhile. Mumbling.
                                                               54



A pair of feet appear next to him.

                           BYRON (OS)
               Hi.

Martin shifts just enough to see Byron.

                         MARTIN
               What do you want?

Byron sits down next to him.

                         MARTIN
               . . .Byron, right?

                           BYRON
               Yeah.

Martin studies him.    Byron smiles nervously.

                         MARTIN
               You got something to smile about?

                           BYRON
               . . .no.

                         MARTIN
               So why are you smiling?

                         BYRON
               I don’t know.

                         MARTIN
               Maybe you should wipe that grin
               off your face then.

Byron does.

                         MARTIN
               . . .I’m sorry. Guess I’m pickin’
               fights when I don’t need to.

Martin stretches. Byron is afraid to talk.       After a few
moments, Byron gets up.
                                                                55

                            MARTIN
                  So you’re headed to California?

                              BYRON
                  Yeah.

                            MARTIN
                  . . .you guys got room for one
                  more?

Byron holds his hand out.      Martin takes it and stands up.

EXT. I-80 – DAY

The short bus cruises.

BUS

Josh drives. Byron, Sam, Ronnie, and Martin sit in the
back playing Texas Hold‘em.

                              SAM
                  (to Byron)
                  So basically, you make the best
                  hand you can with any five cards,
                  including the two in your hand.

                              BYRON
                  Oh.

                            JOSH
                  Man, we need a radio in here or
                  something. I gotsta jam.

                            SAM
                  We’ll stop at the next city and
                  pick one up.

                            JOSH
                  And where’d you get this bus
                  anyway?

                              SAM
                  I won it.

                            JOSH
                  Doing what?
                                                               56



                          SAM
                Where do you think I got these
                cards?

Byron holds his card up and looks at the back, not knowing
he’s revealing the card to the rest of the group.

INSERT – CARD

A Chinese symbol for wealth is imprinted on the back.    The
other side is an ace.

BACK TO SCENE

Ronnie and Martin look at Byron’s card, then down at the
flop. Two aces are also facing up. They fold.

EXT. LAKE EDGE MOTEL – NIGHT

A tiny isolated motel nestled on the side of a deserted
highway. Trees surround it with a lake on one side. A
creepy looking tool shed lies off to the side a little
ways.

The short bus pulls in and parks in front of the office
door.

Byron, Sam, Josh, and Ronnie all step out and stretch.    Sam
looks back in.

                          SAM
                Come on, Martin. You can put that
                together tomorrow.

In the bus, Martin is knee-deep in audio equipment.
Speakers, wires, etc.

MOTEL OFFICE

The five step inside. The office is musty and dark. An
old INNKEEPER sits behind a counter, watching an old black
and white TV. The picture is fuzzy and it looks like a
horror movie is on.

The innkeeper looks up at them as they approach.
                                                               57

                            SAM
               Hi.

                            INNKEEPER
               Greetings.

                         SAM
               We need two rooms.

Sam looks back at the group for confirmation. Everyone
shrugs. The innkeeper gives everyone a once over. He
turns back to a wall of keys and takes two off.

He puts them on the counter.

                         INNKEEPER
               It’s gonna be fifty bucks a room.

                            SAM
               Perfect.

Sam reaches into his pocket and pulls out a WAD OF CASH.
There has to be at least a thousand dollars in it.

Everyone stares at it in surprise.

Sam forks over one hundred dollars.     Then another twenty.

                         SAM
               For your time.

The innkeeper looks at it.

                            SAM
               Thanks.

Sam reaches for the keys.    The innkeeper stops him.

                            INNKEEPER
               Wait.

The innkeeper takes the keys back and gets two different
ones.

                         INNKEEPER
               These rooms are better. Oh, and
               don’t go near the toolshed.
                                                           58



                           BYRON
               Why?

                         INNKEEPER
               Better that you don’t know.   Good
               night.

The innkeeper sits back and returns his attention to the
TV.

ROOM 7

A small room with two beds, a drawer, a TV, and a small
table with two chairs sitting next to the window. Martin
lies back on one bed. Byron and Ronnie sit on the other
bed. Josh and Sam sit at the table.

Sam’s eyes are fixed out the window.

                           RONNIE
               Leg.

                         BYRON
               Uh, leg hair.

                           MARTIN
               Hair net.

                           SAM
               Net work.

                           JOSH
               Um. . .

                         RONNIE
               Ha, you lose.

                         JOSH
               What? You didn’t even give me
               enough time.

                         RONNIE
               You gotta be quick about it. And
               let me tell you. You weren’t.
                                                            59

                         JOSH
               This game’s dumb. And what’s with
               that dude saying we can’t go near
               the tool shed?

                         SAM
               It’s haunted.

Everyone looks at Sam in surprise. He continues staring
out the window. Josh leans and looks out the window.

He sees the rickety old tool shed.

                         JOSH
               What do ya think is in there?

                         RONNIE
               He just said it’s haunted.

                         JOSH
               (to Sam)
               Hey, how do you know?

Sam shrugs.

                         JOSH
               So, uh, who wants to go check it
               out?

                         RONNIE
               Why don’t you? You’re the one who
               brought it up.

                          JOSH
               Hell no.   I ain’t going.

Everyone looks over at Byron.

INT. ROOM 7 – MINUTES LATER

Josh, Sam, Ronnie, and Martin all crowd around the window
anxiously.

OUTSIDE

Byron slowly makes his way toward it.
                                                             60

About twenty feet away, he stops.   He looks back at the
room.

The other four are framed in the window.   They all give him
a thumbs-up.

Breathing hard, Byron resumes his approach.

The wind whips through the trees, whistling.

An old tarp covers something next to the shed.   It shakes
and moves in the wind.

Keep moving.

He stops at the door of the shed. It’s held closed by a
rusty hook. It rattles with each gust of wind.

Byron looks back again.

They’re still framed in the window. Eyes wide. He notices
the office window. The INNKEEPER is also watching him with
wide eyes. He gives him a thumbs-up too.

Byron takes a deep breath.

He unlatches the door.

Opens.   Creaks.

He peers in.

The ghostly figure of an old woman stands right in front of
him. There’s something wicked in the smile she gives him.

Byron is frozen.   Eyes wide.

Without blinking, he closes the door again.    Latch.

He turns, walking back toward room 7.

ROOM 7

Byron enters, his face still rigid and silent.

The four watch him.
                                                            61

                         JOSH
               So, what did you see?

Byron says nothing as he makes his way to the bed.

He lies down on top of it and curls up in a ball.

He stares at the wall.

EXT. LAKE EDGE MOTEL – MORNING

A sunny morning. Martin can be seen fiddling around in the
short bus. Ronnie walks out, yawning.

LAKE

Byron sits on the rocks at the edge of the lake.    He stares
out at the water. His backpack is next to him.

                          RONNIE (OS)
               Morning.

                          BYRON
               Oh, hey.

Ronnie appears and sits on a neighboring rock.

                         RONNIE
               You all right?

                         BYRON
               Yeah. Yeah. Last night was, uh,
               really weird. But I’m over it.

                         RONNIE
               Yeah, you looked pretty messed up.

Byron opens his backpack and pulls out the toaster again.
He studies it. Ronnie watches him.

                         RONNIE
               Can I see it?

Byron hands it to her.

                         RONNIE
               I like toast.
                                                          62



                         BYRON
              Me too.

                        RONNIE
              Well, as long as it doesn’t get
              burnt. Sometimes you let it go
              for too long and it’s ruined. The
              same goes for not cooking it for
              long enough. I consider myself an
              expert when it comes to toast.

                         BYRON
              I see.

                        RONNIE
              Don’t get burnt out on it, Byron.

Ronnie hands him the toaster. Byron puts it back in his
bag. Ronnie notices the notebook.

                        RONNIE
              What’s that?

                        BYRON
              Oh, it’s nothing.

                        RONNIE
              No, seriously. What is it?

                         BYRON
              It’s just a notebook. I mean—well
              I haven’t written anything in it
              for years.

                         RONNIE
              Written?   Like what did you write?

                         BYRON
              Nothing.   It’s dumb.

                        RONNIE
              No, I wanna know.   I won’t laugh
              or anything.

                        BYRON
              Well, they’re. . .short stories.
                                                    63



                           RONNIE
               Really?    Can I read them?

                         BYRON
               Whoa, no way.

                            RONNIE
               Why not?

                            BYRON
               Because.

                         RONNIE
               That’s not a reason.   Come on.

Byron is still reluctant.

                         RONNIE
               Okay, how about this. I’ll tell
               you a story. And then, maybe you
               can tell me a story from that.

                         BYRON
               I don’t know.

                         RONNIE
               I’m gonna tell you a story anyway.
               Then you can decide whether or not
               you wanna tell me one.

                            BYRON
               Okay.

Ronnie sits back and thinks.

                         RONNIE
               Um. . .there once was this girl.
               She was like eighteen and had
               dreams of moving out west and
               working at the San Diego zoo. It
               wasn’t a very interesting dream to
               most people. But to her, it was
               everything. Then she met this
               wonderful guy. She fell so in
               love with him. So much, she even
               forgot all about her dream.
                                                                64



Ronnie struggles.

                         RONNIE
               But, um, after a couple years I
               guess he got bored with her. So,
               he cheated on her. And. . .she
               never forgave herself for
               abandoning her dream.

Ronnie tears up slightly.

Byron looks at her.    He brushes her arm.

Ronnie wipes her eyes.    Embarrassed.

                         RONNIE
               Oh God, I’m crying.

                         BYRON
               No, it’s okay.

Byron pulls out his notebook and stares at the cover.

                         BYRON
               I think I have a story.

Ronnie looks up at him.

                            RONNIE
               Yeah?

                            BYRON
               Yeah.

Byron doesn’t open the notebook.     He simply plays with the
pages.

                         BYRON
               There’s one I can remember. It
               starts with a small boy, around
               eight years old. Um, well, his
               parents get killed in a car crash.
               So, every night after that he
               wishes and dreams that they come
               back to him. He’s so sad and
               wonders what he did to deserve
                                                                 65

                            BYRON (cont’d)
                  this. Then, one day when he’s
                  like thirteen, they appear at his
                  front door. Turns out they were
                  both in a coma and he didn’t even
                  know about it. Um, then they live
                  happily ever after.

                            RONNIE
                  That’s pretty good. I mean,
                  reciting it from memory like that.

                            BYRON
                  I wrote it a long time ago.

Ronnie touches his nose and gets up.

LAKE EDGE MOTEL

Sam and Martin are in the bus.      Josh stands outside the
door. Sam starts the engine.

Byron and Ronnie walk from the lake toward the bus.

                            JOSH
                  Hey! About damn time!     Let’s get
                  this show on the road!

Josh hops in the bus.

IN THE BUS

Josh sits down across from Martin. Four speakers are set
up in the upper corners of the bus. Wires run all along
the roof. A CD player has been mounted in the dashboard.

Byron and Ronnie enter. Sam closes the door behind them.
They sit in separate seats.

                            SAM
                  You guys ready?

Everyone answers in the affirmative.       Sam leans over and
turns the CD player on.

Loud RAP MUSIC blares from the speakers.      The bass rattles
everything inside.
                                                             66



                           JOSH
                Sweet.

Josh starts bobbing his head and rapping along to the
music. Everyone stares at him.

                           SAM
                Man. . .

Sam pushes a button on the deck.   The rap music stops and
the radio plays.

EXT. SLINGER, WISCONSIN – DAY

Rain pours down.

BYRON’S HOUSE

Paulie sits on the porch, shielded from the rain. He has
Byron’s wrist rocket in his hand. He examines it with a
long face.

He looks back at the front door.

He gets up.

INSIDE

The door opens and Paulie walks in.   His eyes roam the
house as he paces through.

UPSTAIRS

Paulie walks down the hall.

BATHROOM

Paulie sticks his head in.    Something catches his eye.   The
bathtub is full of water.

He walks in.

Then notices an envelope on the counter.   A name is
scrawled on it: PAULIE.
                                                               67

He picks it up.    Before opening, he looks to see if anyone
is around.

INT. PAULIE’S HOUSE – MINUTES LATER

A middle-aged BLACK WOMAN stands at the sink, washing
dishes. The house is very small. Her hair is pulled back
in a bandana.

Paulie nearly breaks the door in.

                             PAULIE
                  Mama!   Mama!

                             PAULIE’S MOM
                  Paulie!   Be careful!

Paulie runs across the room, waving the paper in his hand.

                            PAULIE
                  It’s Byron!

He hands the letter to her.

EXT. LINCOLN, NEBRASKA – DAY

The capital of Nebraska. Just outside town, a CARNIVAL is
set up. Ferris wheels loom high into the sky. Cars are
all parked on the grass.

CARNIVAL

The bus rolls in and parks on the grass with the other
cars.

BUS

The five are all sitting around. The radio plays in the
background. Martin is behind the wheel.

                            DJ (filtered)
                  This is D-Rock and you’re
                  listening to N-105’s news at noon.
                  Local police have yet to comment
                  on the statewide hunt of the
                  serial killer, the Nebraska
                  Knifer. But everyone has been
                                                             68

                         DJ (cont’d)
               cautioned to stay in and lock
               their doors after sundown. On a
               lighter note, the carnival’s in—

Martin turns the radio off.

EXT. CARNIVAL – LATER

The five roam the hay-strewn grounds. Clowns and
unicyclists wander around and harass everyone they see.
Sam has a huge sombrero on his head, paired with an equally
huge pair of sunglasses.

Sam reaches up into the folds of the sombrero. He pulls
out a handful of corn chips and munches on them.

Sam stops suddenly.   Everyone is thrown off.

                         BYRON
               What is it?

Sam turns and looks back.

A thin NERDY MAN, 30s, stands and reads a brochure. His
thin brown hair is balding. A pair of thick-rimmed glasses
sits on his big nose.

                         BYRON
               You know him?

                            SAM
               Not yet.

Sam turns and continues.

EXT. HAUNTED ALLEY – LATER

A line is formed to a huge black structure, decorated with
various spooky icons. Metal tracks lead into one end and
come out the other. A line of two-person carts sits and
waits for passengers.

Byron and Martin sit in the lead cart.

The rest fills up and the carts jerk into motion.
                                                             69

INSIDE THE HAUNTED ALLEY

The line rattles in. Fake tombstones surround them.
Cobwebs are strewn about.

An obviously automated skeleton comes walking toward the
moving cart.

A pair of YOUNG KIDS scream.

Martin turns.   He stares at the kids.   Then looks at the
last cart.

He sees the same NERDY MAN sitting by himself.

Martin turns back to Byron.

                          MARTIN
                That nerd is here.

                             BYRON
                Nerd?

Byron starts to turn.    Martin pulls him back down.

                          MARTIN
                Don’t let him know you’re looking
                at him. It’s rude.

                             BYRON
                Oh, right.

Byron fishes into his pockets. He pulls out a JOLLY
RANCHER. He looks at it for a moment.

Then throws it over his shoulder.

It hits one of the young kids in the face.

                           YOUNG KID
                Ow!   Hey what did you do that for!

Byron turns.

                             BYRON
                Sorry.
                                                           70

And sneaks a peek at the nerdy man.

Byron turns back around.

                         MARTIN
               You see him?

                            BYRON
               Yeah.

                         MARTIN
               I think he’s following us.

The kid CHUCKS the jolly rancher at the back of Byron’s
head. It bounces off.

EXT. CARNIVAL HOTDOG TENT – LATER

People sit in the shade of the tent, munching on hotdogs
and cotton candy. Byron and Martin are at a picnic table
with nachos, hotdogs, and cotton candy.

                         MARTIN
               There he is.

Byron turns around.

                         MARTIN
               No, don’t look at him—

                         BYRON
               Don’t worry about it.

Byron looks straight at the nerdy man, who sits at a far
table. He waves at the man.

                         MARTIN
               What are you doing?

Confused, the nerdy man waves back. Byron beckons him.
The nerdy man looks at him questioningly. Byron beckons
him more. Reluctantly, the man stands up.

                         MARTIN
               You’re crazy.

The nerdy man approaches.
                                                               71



                            BYRON
               Hi.

                            NERDY MAN
               Uh, hi.

                         BYRON
               Have a seat. Want some nachos?

                            NERDY MAN
               . . .sure.

The man sits down and helps himself.

                            BYRON
               I’m Byron.     This is Martin.

                            NERDY MAN
               I’m Noel.

Noel shakes their hands.    Byron offers some cotton candy.
Noel takes a piece.

EXT. CARNIVAL PARKING LOT – NIGHT

Byron, Martin, and Noel head toward the short bus. The
other three are already there. Sam sits on the steps of
the bus.

Sam stands up as they approach.

                           BYRON
               Hey Sam.    Hope you don’t mind one
               more.

                         SAM
               Sure, whatever.      Hi Noel.   Name’s
               Sam.

Sam extends his hand.    Noel looks at him in surprise.   He
shakes it.

                         NOEL
               How do you know my name?
                                                                 72

                            SAM
                  I can read minds.

Sam taps his noggin and gets back into the bus.

EXT. I-80 – DAY

The bus cruises.

BUS

Martin drives. The rest of them sit in the back, munching
on chips, drinking soda, and playing Texas Hold’em. Byron
and Noel are the only two still in this hand.

Sam turns the last card, the river.

Three of clubs.

                             JOSH
                  Lame.

Byron’s eyes widen for a moment.      Then he brings them back
down.

                            RONNIE
                  Nice poker face, B.

                             BYRON
                  What?

Ronnie imitates him.      Byron throws in two red chips.
Everyone gasps.

                            SAM
                  Fifty to you, Noel.

Noel stares at the cards.     Then at his hand.

Thinks.

                            SAM
                  Don’t let him buy the pot. Look
                  at him, sitting all smug with his
                  stack of chips. He’s got nothing,
                  NOTHING!
                                                              73

Noel calls.

                         SAM
               All right, show ‘em.

Noel shows his cards.   Sam looks down at them.   His heart
sinks.

                         SAM
               Okay. . .a pair of threes.

Byron grins and shows his cards.

                         BYRON
               Read ‘em and weep. A straight.
               Three, four, five, and six!

Everyone looks down at the cards, then back up at the grin
on Byron’s face.

                            SAM
               Uh, Byron.

                            BYRON
               Yeah.

                         SAM
               You need five cards for a
               straight.

Byron looks at the cards.

                         BYRON
               Ah, son of a. . .

Everyone starts laughing.    Josh starts pushing the chips
toward Noel.

                         JOSH
               There ya go.

Surprised he won, Noel takes the chips.

EXT. GAS STATION NEAR I-80 – LATER

The bus pulls up next to a gas pump.   Josh gets out and
starts fueling.
                                                             74



Byron gets out and makes his way for the entrance.

INSIDE

Byron enters. He walks the store, grabbing a couple bags
of chips, a twelve-pack of soda, and a handful of candy
bars, and a couple apples.

He approaches the counter and plops the food down.    A TV
blares behind the CLERK.

The clerk starts scanning the items.    Byron looks up at the
TV.

INSERT – TV

A local news show.

                            ANCHOR (filtered)
                  Footage of what authorities
                  believe to be the Nebraska Knifer
                  has been released.

A home video of someone walking around someone’s house
plays. The video pauses, and a still of the man’s face is
blown up for easier viewing.

It’s NOEL.

                             ANCHOR (cont’d)
                  Anyone who has seen this man is
                  instructed to call the local
                  authorities as soon as possible.
                  Do not approach this man. He is
                  believed to be unstable and very
                  dangerous.

BACK TO SCENE

Byron stares in disbelief.

EXT. I-80 – DAY

The bus rolls.
                                                              75

BUS

Ronnie drives.   People sit around, eating and listening to
music.

Byron sits across the aisle from Noel.      He watches him
nervously.

Noel has an apple in his hand.

He reaches into his pocket.

Pulls out a KNIFE.

Byron looks around at everyone else.    Everyone is busy
chatting it up.

Noel CUTS a piece of the apple off.

Byron jumps.

                           JOSH
                 Whoa, you okay man?

                            BYRON
                 Yeah.   Uh—yeah.

Noel looks up at them. He offers the piece to Josh,
holding it with the knife.

Byron stares at it.

Josh’s hand gets nearer and nearer to the knife.

Closer.

Byron’s eyes widen in fear.

Martin looks at Byron.

                           MARTIN
                 Hey, what’s the problem?

Byron shakes out of his trance.     He turns to Martin.

                            BYRON
                 Nothing.   Absolutely nothing.
                                                            76



He turns back. Josh is already chewing on the apple slice.
Noel is cutting another one. He offers it to Byron.

                            BYRON
               No thanks.

EXT. REST STOP – NIGHT

Nestled just off the interstate. The bus and a few other
cars are parked in front of a small shelter.

Byron, Martin, and Noel sit at a nearby picnic table.   They
munch on snacks from the vending machine.

Noel’s eyes are fixed on one of the cars: a couple in
their early twenties sitting in the front seat. They face
each other with a sappy look in their eyes.

Martin notices him.

                         MARTIN
               I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want
               you watching them.

Noel turns his gaze away from them.

He fixes them on a spot on the ground.

                         NOEL
               Just a waste of time anyway.

                         MARTIN
               What’s a waste of time?

                            NOEL
               Women.

                         MARTIN
               Ah, don’t say that.

                          NOEL
               Why not?   It’s true.

                            MARTIN
               Really?
                                                               77

                         NOEL
               All they do is use you.

                         MARTIN
               . . .Vivian didn’t use me.

Noel looks at him speculatively. Martin’s unconsciously
fiddles with a wedding ring on his finger.

                         MARTIN
               She was beautiful. She was an
               actress. I remember when I first
               saw her. I told myself, I want to
               be with this woman for the rest of
               my life.

                         NOEL
               Gimme a break.

                         MARTIN
               Ah, you’ll find someone. And then
               you’ll be like, damn, that son of
               a bitch was right.

                           NOEL
               Whatever.    Where is she now?

                         MARTIN
               . . .she died a year ago.

Silence.

                         NOEL
               Oh—I’m sorry.

                         MARTIN
               Nah, it’s okay. That’s why I’m
               headed to LA. I have to say
               goodbye.

Martin’s eyes cast down onto the ground.    Noel pats him on
the back.

EXT. MOTEL – NIGHT

The bus is parked in a stall just outside a room. All the
lights are off inside. The moonlight shines down.
                                                          78



Byron and Ronnie are lying on their backs on top of the
bus. They stare up at the sky.

                         RONNIE
               Got anymore stories for me?

                         BYRON
               Not really.

                           RONNIE
               Okay.

                         BYRON
               . . .um, what happens when you get
               to San Diego?

                         RONNIE
               I don’t know. I guess I’ll decide
               when I get there.

                           BYRON
               Yeah.

                         RONNIE
               I mean, that’s why I’m on this
               trip, right?

                           BYRON
               Yeah.

                         RONNIE
               I should probably find a place or
               something. And a job.

                           BYRON
               Yeah. . .

                           RONNIE
               You okay?

                         BYRON
               Oh—yeah, I’m fine.

                         RONNIE
               You could come visit me.
                                                                 79

                             BYRON
                 I could.

                           RONNIE
                 I’ll make you some toast.

Their eyes meet for a second.        Smile.   Ronnie puts her hand
in his.

EXT. BRULE, NEBRASKA – NIGHT

The bus rolls into the small town. Houses line the main
road, then a drugstore, and a small tavern.

JOE’S TAVERN

A tiny building. Trucks are parked in the unfinished
parking lot. A couple of them have confederate flag
stickers on their rear window.

The bus slows to a stop in an empty spot.

INSIDE THE BAR

Stale smoke hangs in the air. Byron, Sam, Martin, Josh,
Ronnie, and Noel enter. They all receive stares from the
patrons.

They find a large table in the corner and sit down.

                            SAM
                 So, who’s getting the first
                 pitcher? I could go for some
                 fries too.

Everyone looks around at everyone else.

Sam puts his finger on his nose.

Everyone follows suit.      But Martin is last.

                             MARTIN
                 Dammit.

                           NOEL
                 I’ll go with you.
                                                              80

Martin and Noel stand up.

They head to the bar.

The BARTENDER is finishing up with a customer. Martin
leans up against the counter and waits. Noel sits on a
stool.

The bartender finishes. Not noticing Martin, he starts
wiping a glass. Martin leans in more.

                            MARTIN
               Excuse me.

Another CUSTOMER, a middle-aged white man in jeans and a
white t-shirt, leans up at the bar.

                            CUSTOMER
               Hey Joe.

The bartender (JOE) looks at the customer.

                            JOE
               Hey.     What can I get ya?

Martin looks back at Noel.    Noel shrugs.

                         CUSTOMER
               Another pitcher.

Joe grabs and fills a pitcher from the tap.   He puts it on
the counter.

                            JOE
               Six fifty.

The customer puts down a stack of bills and takes the
pitcher. He leaves.

Joe goes back to wiping another glass.

                         MARTIN
               Uh, excuse me.

Joe doesn’t look up.
                                                             81

                           JOE
               Yeah.

                         MARTIN
               Can I get a pitcher?

Joe stops wiping. Slowly, he grabs an obviously dirty
pitcher from the sink. He fills it with beer. Then slams
it down in front of Martin.

                         JOE
               Eight fifty.

                         MARTIN
               What? You told him six. And that
               pitcher is fucking filthy.

                         JOE
               Eight fifty.

                         MARTIN
               Get me a clean pitcher.

                         JOE
               Get it yourself, nigger.

Martin looks back at Noel in disbelief.   Noel returns the
look.

Martin GRABS Joe’s collar and pulls him halfway over the
counter.

                         MARTIN
               What the fuck did you call me?

                         JOE
               Get your fucking hands off me!

WITH JOSH, SAM, BYRON, AND RONNIE

The four are busy watching Sam spin a quarter over and
over.

Sam looks up at the bar.
                                                              82

WITH MARTIN

Two huge MEN grab Martin and hold him helpless.    Martin
fights with all his strength.

                          MARTIN
                Get the fuck off me!

Joe reaches under the counter.

He pulls out a HANDGUN.

Noel sees it.

Joe raises the gun. Noel SNATCHES Joe’s wrist. In an
instant, he whips his other hand around, wielding his knife
to Joe’s throat.

                             NOEL
                Let it go.

Noel leans in while wrenching the gun from Joe’s grasp.     He
whispers in his ear.

                          NOEL
                Don’t think I’m done with you yet.

He turns back to the men holding Martin.     He points the gun
at them.

                          NOEL
                Let him go.

The men let him go and back into a corner.    Noel looks at
the four in the opposite corner.

                          NOEL
                I think maybe we should go.

                          SAM
                (whispering)
                Damn, I wanted some fries.

Ronnie, Byron, Sam, and Josh stand up. They all head for
the door. Noel hands the gun to Martin.
                                                                 83

                         NOEL
               I’m sorry, Martin.

Martin turns and heads for the door.

Sam slows. He looks at the two men, standing in fear by
their table. He spots a basket of FRIES there. He slowly
makes his way toward them.

                            NOEL
               Sam.

                            SAM
               Hold on.

Sam reaches the table. He grabs the basket. And then a
half-full pitcher. And then a ketchup bottle. He hurries
back toward the door.

INT. MOTEL 6 – LATER THAT NIGHT

Ronnie is fast asleep on the only bed.      Sam, Josh, Martin,
and Byron are sleeping on the floor.

Noel sits at the window.    He looks out, deep in thought.

Byron’s eyes slowly OPEN.    He watches Noel.

After another long moment, Noel stands up. Byron nearly
jumps out of his skin. Noel looks at the dark room.

Noel takes a deep breath.    Then leaves.

EXT. MOTEL 6 – MORNING

Byron, Ronnie, Sam, Josh, and Martin head out to the bus.
Martin lags behind. He seems to be watching for Noel.
They start loading in. Sam stops.

                         SAM
               I don’t think he’s coming, Martin.
               We waited all morning.

                            MARTIN
               I know.

Reluctantly, Martin gets into the bus.
                                                             84



EXT. JOE’S TAVERN – LATER

A POLICE LINE stretches around the entire perimeter of the
bar. Lights flash from the police cars, ambulance, and
fire truck.

Blood smears the inside of the windows.

The bus drives by.    Byron stares out at the scene.

INT. ANGEL WINGS NURSING HOME/ROOM 6 – NIGHT

The dim light from a small table lamp illuminates the room.
Russell Thomas sits in his bed. Ali stands at his dresser,
gathering the pictures on top of it.

She brings them over and sits next to him.

                            ALI
                  Hi Russell. Just thought maybe
                  you’d like to look at your
                  pictures before you go to bed.

Russell smiles.    His mind wanders.

                            ALI
                  Look Russell.

Ali hands him a picture. Looks to be from late-sixties,
early-seventies. A younger Russell stands next to his
wife, and a young boy stands in front of the two.

Russell looks down at it.    Nothing triggers in his mind.

                            ALI
                  Recognize anyone?

His eyes wander.    He shakes his head no.

                            ALI
                  That’s your son, David. And the
                  beautiful woman next to you is
                  your wife, Purnett.

Russell nods, not quite putting things together in his
head. Ali takes the picture and hands him another one.
                                                                  85

This one is in black and white, with a couple in very
formal attire. They pose rigidly.

                            ALI
                  Oh, I love this one.    Remember
                  her?

Russell looks at it.    His mind works harder, but he shakes
his head no.

                            ALI
                  That’s Purnett. She was so
                  beautiful. It was your prom
                  picture.

Russell nods again. Ali takes it.        She looks at the third
picture before handing it to him.

                            ALI
                  I like this one too.

She hands it to him.    He takes it with a trembling hand.
He looks down at it.    It’s a picture of Byron, probably for
a school portrait.

Russell stares at it for a moment.

His eyes water.    He shakes his head.    He starts crying.

Ali holds his hand.

EXT. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NIGHT

The bus rolls down the highway leading into Sin City. Neon
lights flicker from all sides. Hotels and casinos with
brilliant fountains stand in all their grandeur.

BUS

Martin drives.    Sam looks out at the city in awe.

                            SAM
                  I love Las Vegas.   We should stop
                  there.

Sam points.   Everyone looks.
                                                          86

EXT. GOLDEN NUGGET – NIGHT

The bus parks in an open space.

BUS

Sam reaches into his pockets.   He pulls out his wad of
cash. He counts it.

                         SAM
               Eighty bucks. You guys got
               anymore money?

                         BYRON
               I got ten bucks.

                         MARTIN
               We should keep going. We can make
               it to San Diego tonight.

Byron looks at Ronnie, who is busy watching her feet.

                         SAM
               Yes, but I figured we could stay
               in a nice hotel for once.

                         MARTIN
               We can’t afford it.

                         SAM
               Says you. Just give me a couple
               hours and we’ll be sitting pretty
               in one of those suites!

                         MARTIN
               You’re—

                         SAM
               Crazy, yes I know. Look, why
               don’t you just give it a—

                         MARTIN
               No, we’re going to California.

Martin looks back at the group.
                                                              87

                         BYRON
               Um. . .maybe we could go in for
               just a little bit?

                            SAM
               Perfect!     Let’s go man!

Sam gets to his feet and hurries out.

INT. GOLDEN NUGGET – NIGHT

The casino is filled with people of all ages. Blackjack,
poker, slots, roulette, craps. Everything. Lights flash
and bells ring.

The five walk in.

                         MARTIN
               I’ll be over there.

                         JOSH
               Yeah, I’ll meet up with you guys
               later.

Martin and Josh walk off.    Sam looks at Byron and Ronnie.

                         SAM
               Well, you’re welcome to hang out
               with me.

Sam turns and makes a beeline for one of the poker tables.
Byron and Ronnie follow.

POKER TABLE

A couple of men and a couple of women sit around the table.
The DEALER, a slender woman of about thirty, watches Sam.
He takes a seat and forks over fifty bucks for chips.

Byron and Ronnie stand behind him and watch.

TWENTY MINUTES LATER

Still at the poker table. Byron and Ronnie are still
standing behind Sam. Sam has a bigger stack in front of
him.
                                                           88

                          BYRON
                How much did you—

                          SAM
                I’m up forty bucks.

                          BYRON
                Alright! I’ve never stayed in a
                hotel this nice.

Byron looks up. A number of televisions line the casino.
One catches his eye.

INSERT – TV

A commercial for a line of small kitchen appliances.
Blenders, coffee makers, and toasters. A piece of toast
pops out of one and a small kid takes it. He takes a
hearty bite out of it and gives a huge smile.

BACK TO SCENE

Byron’s face wavers.

He looks around at the people around him. A young couple
sits at a blackjack table. A middle-aged man has an
obvious gambling problem. Sleepless red eyes and shaky
hands grasp a cigarette. An old man sits at the slots,
putting coin after coin into it and not winning a thing.

Byron turns and heads for the door.

                           RONNIE
                Byron?
                (to Sam)
                Hey Sam.   Byron’s—

Sam waves his hand away.

                          SAM
                Hotel room! Concentrating!

Ronnie turns.

EXT. GOLDEN NUGGET PARKING LOT – NIGHT

Ronnie steps out and nearly bumps into an old couple.
                                                              89



                            RONNIE
               Sorry.

She wades into the parking lot.

BUS

Byron sits inside. His backpack is open and the toaster
sits in his lap. He stares down at it for a long time.

                         RONNIE (OS)
               You okay, Byron?

Byron doesn’t look up.    Ronnie steps in and sits across
from him.

                            RONNIE
               What’s up?

The pain shows in Byron’s face.      Unsure.   Confused.

                            RONNIE
               Hey.

Ronnie puts her hand on his knee.     She looks up into his
eyes.

                           BYRON
               Nothing.    It’s nothing.

                         RONNIE
               You know, you never really told me
               about the toaster.

                            BYRON
               Yeah.

                         RONNIE
               You wanna tell me?

                            BYRON
               No. . .

Ronnie seems hurt.
                                                         90

                         RONNIE
               Oh. . .well, maybe when you trust
               me more you’ll tell me.

Ronnie gets up quickly and heads for the door.

                            BYRON
               Wait.

                         RONNIE
               What are you afraid of, Byron?

She turns and looks at him.

                         RONNIE
               You think I’m going to judge you?
               It’s just a toaster. That’s all.
               That’s all it is.

                         BYRON
               It’s not just a toaster.

                         RONNIE
               Then what is it?

                         BYRON
               It’s my story, Ronnie.    It’s my
               story.

                            RONNIE
               What?     What story?

Byron looks at her differently. His eyes plead. She looks
back impatiently. After a moment, a flicker of realization
shines in her eyes.

                         RONNIE
               Your story. Oh my God.     Your
               parents. It was true?

Byron remains silent.    He closes his eyes.

Ronnie sits back down.

                         RONNIE
               I’m so sorry, Byron.
                                                               91

She smiles at him.    Then she touches his nose.

                         RONNIE
               It’s more than a toaster.

Byron returns the look.

INT. GOLDEN NUGGET – NIGHT

Byron and Ronnie wade through the crowded casino. Byron,
still a bit of a mess, eyes the poker tables. Sam is
nowhere to be found. Martin catches up with them.

                         MARTIN
               Where’d he go?

                            BYRON
               I dunno—

A hand grabs Byron’s arm.    Sam.   A strange look is in his
eyes.

                         SAM
               Hey, what’s up Byron?

                            BYRON
               Sam!

                         SAM
               You got that ten bucks still?

                            BYRON
               Uh, yeah.

                         SAM
               Can I borrow it?

                            MARTIN
               For what?     Where’s your money?

Sam shoots a look at Martin.

                         SAM
               Just a string of bad luck, that’s
               all. I need that ten bucks to—
                                                              92

                          MARTIN
               No.

                         SAM
               I wasn’t asking you. So Byron,
               where’s that ten bucks?

                         BYRON
               Um, I don’t know if we should—

                         SAM
               Come on. I’ll turn that into a
               hundred and we’ll call it a night.

Sam looks at Byron with pleading eyes. Byron looks at
Martin. Martin shakes his head. Byron looks back at Sam.

Sam snaps. He grabs Byron’s collar and pins him against a
slot machine.

                         SAM
               I need that money!     God dammit
               Byron! Just—

Martin grabs Sam and throws him off.    Sam stumbles and
falls. Byron is beside himself.

Martin stands between Sam and Byron.

Delirious, Sam gets to his feet.    Ashamed of himself, he
doesn’t look up from the floor.

                          SAM
               . . .oh.   I’m sorry, Byron.    I’m—

Sam turns and hurries out of sight.

                          BYRON
               Sam!

Byron pushes past Martin and into the crowd.

DOORS

Byron pushes his way through the glass doors.      He stops and
look around.
                                                                93

                            BYRON
                Sam!

Nothing.

PARKING LOT

Byron dashes in between cars as he scans the area.

BUS

Byron lunges in.   He checks the bus out.    No one is there.

Sam’s burlap sack is gone.

Byron scans the parking lot.    Nothing.

EXT. GOLDEN NUGGET PARKING LOT – LATER

Byron, Martin, Josh, and Ronnie lie around in the bus.
Byron munches on a candy bar in the doorway. Silence.

Sam appears, standing right in front of Byron.    Byron
jumps. Choking.

                            MARTIN
                Sam!

Byron hacks.   Martin puts his hand on Byron’s back.

Byron shudders and hacks a chunk of candy bar up onto the
ground.

                          BYRON
                Oh, that’s gross.

Byron wipes his mouth.    He looks at Sam.

They stare at each other for a moment.

                            SAM
                Yeah.    That was pretty gross.

Byron stands up and to the side, ready to let Sam in.     Sam
doesn’t climb in yet.
                                                   94

                           SAM
               I’m—

                         BYRON
               Sorry, I know.

                         SAM
               I am. Guess you know, uh, how I
               ended up like this.

                           BYRON
               Yeah. . .

Silence.

                         BYRON
               You gonna get in or not?

                         MARTIN
               Yeah, we got somewhere to go.

                           SAM
               Yeah.

Sam looks at Martin for a moment.   He thinks.

                         SAM
               You know. I think this is where I
               get off.

                          BYRON
               What?   You can’t—

                         SAM
               I have to, Byron. I got some
               things I have to take care of.

                           BYRON
               Here?

                           SAM
               Yeah.

                         BYRON
               But—what happened to LA?
                                                                   95

                            SAM
                  That’s your adventure, Byron.    Not
                  mine.

                            BYRON
                  I-I don’t, I can’t—

Sam grabs Byron and hugs him. A tear streams down Byron’s
face, but he doesn’t make a sound. He hugs him back.

                            SAM
                  Take care, Byron.

Sam’s face starts breaking, but he stops himself.        He lets
go.

                             SAM
                  Goodbye.

Sam turns and walks, not letting Byron say anything else.

                            BYRON
                  Goodbye Sam.

Byron closes the door.

EXT. I-15 – DAY

The bus rumbles down the highway. Martin is driving. Josh
is asleep. Byron and Ronnie are sitting in separate seats,
both staring out at the countryside.

Martin turns on the radio.     Jazz music plays.

                            MARTIN
                  Vivian loved jazz.

Martin loses himself in the music.

EXT. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – DAY

The sun beats down on the city.       The bus drives down the
road.
                                                                96

BUS

Martin drives, looking out at all the people.    Skaters and
bikers are all over.

Ronnie stares out at the ocean.

                         MARTIN
               So, we should probably drop you
               off somewhere.

                            RONNIE
               . . .yeah.

Ronnie is somewhat reluctant.    She looks at Byron.

EXT. HOLIDAY INN – LATER

The bus is parked under the canopy. The four stand just
outside the doors. Ronnie has a backpack strapped over her
shoulders.

She gives Martin a hug.

                         RONNIE
               I’ll see ya later, Martin.

                         MARTIN
               Take care, kid.

Martin turns back and gets into the bus.

Ronnie hugs Josh.

                         JOSH
               You better make sure you call me.

                            RONNIE
               I will.

Ronnie lets him go. She wipes her fighting eyes.       Like a
big brother, Josh pats her on the shoulder.

                         RONNIE
               Get outta here.
                                                             97

                           JOSH
                 Bye Ronnie.

Josh turns and gets back in the bus.

Byron and Ronnie.

Ronnie looks at him, but Byron keeps his eyes on the
ground.

                           RONNIE
                 You gonna be okay, Byron?

Byron nods.

                           RONNIE
                 Will you please look at me?

Byron slowly lifts his head.

                           RONNIE
                 I’m gonna miss you.

A dull, painful look comes over him.   He starts to lower
his head again.

                           RONNIE
                 Byron—

Ronnie touches his chin.   Holds it.

                           RONNIE
                 Don’t you have anything to say to
                 me?

                           BYRON
                 . . .bye Ronnie.

Byron turns and hurries back into the bus.     Ronnie is left,
almost in tears, looking after him.

EXT. I-5 – DAY

The bus cruises down the interstate.
                                                               98

BUS

Josh drives.   Byron and Martin both sit in thoughtful
silence.

EXT. LOS ANGELES, CA – LATE AFTERNOON

The bus drives down a busy street in the bustling city.

BUS

Josh is still driving.    Byron stares out the window at the
magnificent city.

                          MARTIN
                Eh, nothing special about this
                place.

                            BYRON
                Yeah. . .

                          MARTIN
                I mean, unless you like crowded
                places and mild winters.

Byron fishes out his toaster.       He examines it.   Martin
looks down at the gas gauge.

                          MARTIN
                Hey, uh, you guys mind if we make
                a quick stop somewhere? Then
                we’ll get some gas.

                          JOSH
                What are we doing?

                          MARTIN
                I gotta say goodbye.

                          JOSH
                Oh—yeah, of course, Martin.

                            MARTIN
                Thanks.
                                                             99

EXT. RUN-DOWN NEIGHBORHOOD – MINUTES LATER

A number of run-down houses litter the street. The bus
drives along and pulls into a driveway of an abandoned
house. One window is boarded up and the others have old
curtains behind grimy glass.

Martin gets out. He stops and looks up at his old house.
Byron and Josh get out after him.

                         BYRON
               This is it, huh?

                         MARTIN
               Yeah.

Martin stares at it awhile longer.

Byron looks at the backyard.   A rusty swing set stands by
itself.

Martin notices him.

                         MARTIN
               We were trying to have a baby.

                         BYRON
               Oh.

Martin gathers all his strength and starts walking toward
the front door. Byron follows. Martin stops.

                         MARTIN
               Um, I need to do this alone.

                         BYRON
               Oh. . .yeah, sure.

                         MARTIN
               You can come in a second.     I just—

                         BYRON
               I know.

Martin starts again.
                                                          100

He stops at the front door. He retrieves his keys from his
pocket. Fiddling with them, he finally grasps an old key.

Shaking hands.   Trembling.     He unlocks the door.

He opens it and steps in.

INT. MARTIN’S HOUSE – YEARS AGO

Martin walks into a very well kept house. This isn’t the
house he just walked into. This is a house from the past.

The paint is fresh. The furniture new. Pictures hang on
the walls. Jazz pipes in from a stereo in the living room.

Martin, still in the same clothes, walks into the hall.   A
look of amazement in his eyes. He touches a wedding
picture on the wall.

                             VIVIAN (OS)
                 Marty?    Is that you?

Martin looks toward the kitchen.

                              MARTIN
                 Vivian?

He hurries down the hall.

KITCHEN

He stops just inside. Tears well up in his eyes. He sets
them upon a very beautiful WOMAN. She is wearing sweats
and cooking something in a pot. She looks at him.

                              VIVIAN
                 Hey Marty!

She notices his face.

                           VIVIAN
                 What’s wrong, baby?

He shakes his head.

                              MARTIN
                 Nothing.
                                                            101



She approaches him.   She wipes his eyes with her sleeve.

                          VIVIAN
                Look at you.

                             MARTIN
                I’m sorry.

                          VIVIAN
                Don’t say that. That’s what makes
                us human.

She kisses his forehead. They look at each other. A look
of the happiest person in the world is set on his tear-
stained face. She smiles and kisses both his cheeks.

                          VIVIAN
                Come dance with me.    I’ll play our
                song.

Vivian drags him across the room.

LIVING ROOM

They enter and stop at the stereo. She changes the track
number and a song plays. Both of them recognize it. He
holds out his hand. She takes it. They start dancing.

Dancing.

They almost trip on the coffee table. Laughing. They
regroup themselves and dance close. Eyes locked. Smiling.

                          VIVIAN
                I love you.

EXT. MARTIN’S HOUSE – LATE AFTERNOON

BANG!   A gunshot sounds.

Byron jumps from his leaning position.    He looks to the
house.

He scrambles to the door and bursts through.    Josh follows.
                                                            102

HOUSE

Byron stops in the hallway, looking around. Dust covers
the floor, save for Martin’s footprints to the kitchen.
Byron runs down the hall, passing the wedding picture on
the wall.

                         BYRON
               Martin!

Byron scrambles down the hall.

KITCHEN

Byron stops and looks at the floor.    Footprints lead around
toward the living room.

LIVING ROOM

Byron stops and looks down.

                         BYRON
               Oh my God. Martin.

Byron falls to his knees in front of Martin’s dead body.
The gun lies on the floor next to him. Blood trickles from
a bullet wound to Martin’s head.

INT. MERCY HOSPITAL – LATE AFTERNOON

A sad Josh sits in the lobby of the busy hospital. Nurses
and doctors hurry back and forth. Patients and families
sit all around him. Byron’s backpack lies in the chair
next to him.

STAIRWELL

A side stairwell that looks like it hasn’t been used in a
long time.

CLOSE ON a pair of feet climbing the steps.

Step.

Step.

Step.
                                                               103



The feet stop at the top of the stairwell.    A heavy door
swings open. Daylight pours in.

WITH JOSH

Josh remains seated, watching the floor.     People pass by.

Three figures stop in front of him.

Josh looks up.

Sam, Paulie, and Paulie’s mom stand before him.

                             JOSH
                 Sam!

                             SAM
                 Hey Josh.

Josh stands up and gives Sam a hug.

                           JOSH
                 Martin. . .Martin’s gone.

                           SAM
                 I know. . .

                           PAULIE
                 Where’s Byron?

EXT. MERCY HOSPITAL ROOFTOP – SAME

Byron emerges from a door in the center. His feet pound on
the rough cement. A long lost look is on his face. One
that he hasn’t worn since he was back home.

A sad, lonely look.

He walks toward the edge.

                           BYRON (VO)
                 I think I have a story.

                             RONNIE (VO)
                 Yeah?
                                                          104

                           BYRON (VO)
                 Yeah.

Byron wipes his eyes.

                           BYRON (VO)
                 There’s one I can remember. It
                 starts with a small boy, around
                 eight years old. Um, well, his
                 parents get killed in a car crash.

Byron reaches the ledge.   He stops, looking down ten
stories.

He kicks one leg up and stands on the ledge.   His feet inch
toward the edge.

                           BYRON (VO)(cont’d)
                 So, every night after that he
                 wishes and dreams that they come
                 back to him. He’s so sad and
                 wonders what he did to deserve
                 this. Then, one day when he’s
                 like thirteen, they appear at his
                 front door. Turns out they were
                 both in a coma and he didn’t even
                 know about it. Um, then they live
                 happily ever after.

                           RONNIE (VO)
                 That’s pretty good. I mean,
                 reciting it from memory like that.

                           BYRON (VO)
                 I wrote it a long time ago.

Tears stream down Byron’s face.

He looks down.

He sees cars driving down on the street below.

                           PAULIE (OS)
                 Byron!
                                                          105

Byron looks back. His eyes meet with Paulie’s, who are
deathly afraid. Paulie’s mom stands behind him. Sam and
Josh are also there. Paulie carries the TOASTER.

                         BYRON
               Paulie. . .
               (to Sam)
               You brought him here?

                         SAM
               He followed you here—

                         BYRON
               Get him outta here!   I don’t want
               him seeing this—

                         PAULIE
               Byron, why are you doing this?

                         BYRON
               Don’t worry about it, Paulie.

                         SAM
               Why don’t you tell him? Tell your
               best friend—one who loves you
               enough to come across the country—
               why you’re trying to kill
               yourself—

                         BYRON
               Shut up! You don’t know anything
               about me! You don’t know what my
               life is like!

Byron turns back and faces the street.

                         PAULIE
               Byron, please! Please come back!

Byron closes his eyes.

Clenches.

Thinking.

Fighting.
                                                           106

His toes stretch over the edge.

Hold your breath.

                            RONNIE (VO)
                  What are you afraid of, Byron?
                  You think I’m going to judge you?
                  It’s just a toaster. That’s all.
                  That’s all it is.

A pause.

                            BYRON (VO)
                  It’s not just a toaster.

Byron opens his eyes.

He steps away from the ledge.

Everyone hurries up to him. Paulie rushes ahead. He drops
the toaster and COLLIDES into Byron with a hug. Byron hugs
him back with all his heart.

Sam picks up the toaster.

Byron let’s Paulie go.

Sam holds out the toaster.

                            SAM
                  I believe this is yours.

Byron takes it.

                            SAM
                  So, off to the toaster company?

                            BYRON
                  . . .not quite.

EXT. I-5 – NIGHT

The bus RACES down the interstate.    Rain pours down in
sheets.
                                                            107

BUS

Josh drives, leaning forward and squinting into the rain.
Byron, Sam, Paulie, and Paulie’s mom all sit in the back.
The bus JERKS to the left and a loud HORN sounds.

                          JOSH
                See? I knew there was a reason I
                came along. You guys were bound
                to need a speedy, reckless driver.

Josh SWERVES again.

EXT. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – NIGHT

A thunderstorm unleashes its fury on the city. High winds
whip the trees around. Rain shoots down from the clouds.

The only vehicle on the street tears down it.    The bus.

BUS

Josh drives.   He takes a sharp turn.

He looks at the gas gauge.

                          JOSH
                Shit!

                          PAULIE
                Watch your language.

Josh looks back at her.

                          JOSH
                Oh—uh. . .damn.

He looks at her inquiringly.     She’s unimpressed.

                          BYRON
                What’s the problem?

                          JOSH
                Remember when we were supposed to
                get gas when we got to LA?
                                                             108

                              BYRON
                  Yeah. . .

The engine coughs and dies.      The bus continues rolling down
the street.

Byron, frustrated.

He looks out the window.

EXT. SIDEWALK – MINUTES LATER

The rain pounds down on the cement. Byron RUNS down it at
full speed. His whole body is drenched. Rain drips off.

EXT. HOLIDAY INN – MINUTES LATER

Byron runs across the parking lot.

He stops at the canopy.

Ronnie stands in the exact same spot where they left her.

She looks at him.

He looks back.

He walks forward.    The rain drips off him, leaving a trail.

The second he reaches her they embrace. Kissing. A
longing kiss. A kiss that had been building up inside them
for eternity.

They look at each other.

                            BYRON
                  I love you, Ronnie.

Ronnie is in tears.

                            RONNIE
                  I love you too.

They hug again.
                                                            109

SERIES OF SHOTS

The bus and Paulie’s car driving down the interstate.

Switching drivers at various rest areas.

Byron teaching Paulie how to cook a burrito in a gas
station.

Byron and Ronnie stealing looks at each other in the bus.

The group teaching Paulie how to play poker in the bus.

Josh drinking a beer. Offering one to Paulie.   Paulie’s
mom smacking Josh over the head.

END SERIES

EXT. HIGHWAY – NIGHT

A highway surrounded by a thick forest on both sides. The
bus pulls over on the side of the road. The car parks
behind it.

Byron gets out of the bus and runs into the forest,
unzipping his pants in the process.

WOODS

Byron zips up his pants.   Relief.

Something in the forest catches his eye.

A sparkle.

Curious, Byron wades in.

Thicker.

He pushes his way through the branches and bushes.

The sparkle gets closer.

He pushes his way through the very dense forest.
                                                           110

EXT. ENCHANTED LAKE – NIGHT

Byron stumbles out of the forest into a very familiar
clearing. The lake gives off a magical shimmer in the
moonlight.

The old pier still stands.

He looks at the edge of the pier.

An OLD MAN stands at the edge, looking out at the water.
He wears ratty jean shorts and a t-shirt.

Byron approaches him.

He reaches the pier and walks on the creaking planks.

The old man doesn’t turn around.

                         OLD MAN
               Be careful, the wood is—

                         BYRON
               Old, I know.

The old man starts whistling.

                         BYRON
               Destin?

The whistling stops.

                         DESTIN
               Yes?

Byron is perplexed. He stands next to the old man, looking
at the lake, then back at the old man.

                         BYRON
               Did she ever come?

                         DESTIN
               Ah. . .

A faint smile appears on his face.
                                                           111

                          DESTIN
                I’ve been here for so long.   But
                she’ll come. Eventually.

                          BYRON
                Do you want a ride somewhere?

                             DESTIN
                No thanks.     I’ll wait.

Byron turns and reaches the start of the pier.

Rain starts falling.

Then pouring.

Byron turns back and looks at the old man, the rain
pounding on his unflinching face.

EXT. SLINGER – DAY

The bus pulls into the small town of Slinger. Paulie’s car
drives past. The bus parks just outside Byron’s house.
Byron, Sam, Ronnie, and Josh get out.

They stand in an awkward silence.

                          SAM
                So, uh. . .

                          BYRON
                I guess you’re headed out, then?

                          SAM
                Well, I guess. I was. . .kinda
                thinking about settling down
                somewhere. You don’t have any
                rooms available, do you?

Byron smiles.   He moves forward and hugs Sam.   Sam smiles.

                          BYRON
                You’re welcome.

                          SAM
                I was thinking you could do me a
                favor, though.
                                                          112



Byron looks at him.

                          SAM
               Visit your grandpa.    It’s been a
               long time.

Byron is reluctant.

                         BYRON
               Yeah, it has.

                         SAM
               Don’t leave him alone, Byron.      He
               might surprise you one day.

                            BYRON
               Yeah.

Sam turns to the house.

                         SAM
               So, I’ll get moved in.

INT. ANGEL WINGS NURSING HOME – DAY

Byron walks in through the front doors. Ali sits behind
the desk. Old men and women sit in the social room.

                            ALI
               Byron?

He approaches the front desk.

                           BYRON
               Yeah.    Is my grandfather here?

                         ALI
               Of course. He’s down that hall,
               room 6. You want me to show you?

                            BYRON
               No thanks.

Byron walks past the desk.

The walk to room 6 seems to take forever.
                                                            113



He notices lonely rooms and lonely people as he walks by.
Blaring TVs. Grumbling people.

Room 6.   The door is open a crack.

Byron knocks and walks in slowly.

ROOM 6

Russell is barely awake in his bed. His eyes are blank and
staring at the TV. His breathing is slightly labored.
Byron approaches cautiously to his bedside.

                           BYRON
                Grandpa?

Russell doesn’t answer.

Byron pulls up a chair next to him.

                           BYRON
                Grandpa?

Russell stirs, blinking, and turns to his grandson.

                           BYRON
                It’s me—

Byron holds back his tears.   He takes his grandfather’s
hand.

                          BYRON
                I’m sorry I haven’t visited.

Russell’s voice is weak and soft.

                           RUSSELL
                Hi.

                          BYRON
                Do you remember me? It’s your
                grandson. . .I’m sorry, grandpa.

Byron starts crying.
                                                           114

Russell’s weak eyes look into his grandson’s.    A flicker of
familiarity shows.

                             RUSSELL
                Byron?

Byron halts, looking at him with wide eyes.

                          BYRON
                Yes, it’s me grandpa.    Oh my God.

Russell smiles at him.     His eyes close.

                             RUSSELL
                Byron. . .

Limp.

Byron stops.   He looks at his grandfather.

                            BYRON
                Grandpa?    Grandpa?

Dead. Byron looks at him. Bewildered. Shocked. He sits
and thinks for a moment. He seems content. To have come
to terms with himself. He rests his grandfather’s hand
against his cheek.

And closes his eyes.

                          SAM (VO)
                And thus ends the story of Byron.

FADE OUT

				
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