Absolver of Sing Sing
INT. TED’S CELL—DAY
TEDDY PEDDLETON exits when the gate opens. He’s visibly shattered emotionally.
ON THE GALLERY
Ted moves toward the exit; WATUSI and another prisoner from their cells make reassuring remarks.
DEEP VOICE (VO): Keep your head up, Ted.
WATUSI: It’s gonna be alright, bro. Don’t worry, they’ll do the right thing.
A Correction Officer (C.O.) writes an institutional blue pass and hands it to Ted. Another C.O. opens the cellblock gate, and Ted exits.
Ted moves gracefully; he’s still in a sad state.
A C.O. opens a huge gate, checks the pass and permits Ted through.
Ted heads toward the Chapel.
A C.O. opens a gate.
CORRECTION OFFICER: Theodore Peddleton?
The C.O. takes the pass and reads it, and then gestures for Ted to get up on the wall for a pat frisk. Ted presumes the position and the C.O. pat frisks him.
CORRECTION OFFICER: (Points.) Go down the stairs, and take a left and then a right. The Chaplain’s waiting for you.
Ted follows the C.O.’s directions.
Ted sits in front of the desk. CHAPLAIN BERMAN is behind the desk with a letter in his hand. The two are talking.
CHAPLAIN BERMAN: Mr. Peddleton, this letter is not enough documentation to confirm this is your son. I can’t submit a request, seeking permission to allow you to attend the funeral.
TED: But he’s my son. I wouldn’t lie about something like this.
CHAPLAIN BERMAN: (Sifts through the folder.) Nowhere in any of your records does it indicate this young man is your son. Even you admit he’s never been up here to visit you. Nineteen years is a very long time for a son not to visit his father. Is your name on his birth certificate?
TED: He has his mother’s last name. At the time I was using aliases, and I was on the run. I—I—couldn’t give my real name because they was checking things, and—
CHAPLAIN BERMAN: Mr. Peddleton, please try to understand. Funeral attendance for maximum security inmates can occur only when it involves the death of provable, directly related family members. (Feels Ted’s pain.) I’m sorry, but your case doesn’t meet policy and procedure requirements. I mean, in light of the lack of any proof that this is your son, the law forbids us from even considering filing a request with Central Office. (Shakes his head empathically.) I’m deeply sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.
Ted struggles not to allow his emotions to swallow him up. He blinks away a barrage of tears.
INT. TED’S CELL—DAY
Teddy is lying on his bunk reading a book.
SUPER “FOUR MONTHS LATER”
Moments later, a C.O. sits two envelopes on the cell bars and continues on his way. Teddy gets up and retrieves the letters. He opens one of the letters, reads it briefly and tosses it to the side. He opens the next envelope and begins reading. His attention is ignited and he reads intently.
A part of the letter reads as follows:
“ . . . We are coming up to see you. It’s an emergency that we can’t talk about in a letter or over the phone.”
BACK TO SCENE
Teddy finishes reading the letter, sits it down, and goes into deep thought.
Teddy puts on his jacket as a woman’s voice is heard over the cellblock loudspeakers.
WOMAN’S VOICE (VO): Gallery Officers drop your School run. The School run is now forming on H-gallery south.
Teddy exits the cell.
ON THE GALLERY
Teddy slams the cell shut and peers down the gallery, apparently looking for someone as groups of prisoners walk pass him. Teddy sees KALEEM BROWN strutting towards him. Ted gives Kaleem some dap and leads the way down the gallery talking.
TEDDY: Brother Kaleem—this is your big night, you ready?
KALEEM: If I ain’t ready after four months of campaigning then I ain’t never gonna be ready.
Ted and Kaleem along with LAMONT DIXON and several other prisoners are standing in a group waiting to exit the cellblock. Ted is on the side looking upset.
LAMONT: (Looks at Ted strangely.) What’s up, Ted? Whatever’s eating at you is vibrating through your whole body, man. Come on, get it out your system.
TEDDY: I just got this crazy kite from my brother. Said him and my Aunt Angie gonna come up on a visit cause what they gotta tell me can’t be done in a letter or over the phone.
LAMONT: Woo! Sounds like more drama. (Massages Ted’s shoulder.) Ain’t no sense in picking your brain trying to figure it out, Ted. They’ll be up here soon enough. (Tries to cheer Ted up.) It’s election time! I’m about to really give you something to mope around here about when I put the blows on that top spot.
TED: Confidence is good, but folks in his place love a fighter; that’s why I ain’t going nowhere.
LAMONT: Ay, shit, we’ll see about that.
A mentally instable prisoner, CHINA BLACK, with dirty clothing and wild, uncombed hair approaches, causing other prisoners in his path to get out of his way while squinting up their noses.
KALEEM: Why don’t this dude stay his crazy ass in PSU?
LAMONT: Word. The real deal is why they put these nuts in population?
TED: Man, leave China Black alone. He’s harmless. He got a right to be in population like everybody else.
Suddenly, China Black trips and falls. The numerous prisoners standing about do not move a muscle. China Black sits there for a moment, looking confused. Ted rushes over and helps him to his feet.
TED: You gotta take easy steps, China Black. You hurt?
CHINA BLACK: Yeah, easy steps. Hey, Ted—I got dizzy, man.
TED: You hurt?
CHINA BLACK: Nope, I’m okay, okay. Thank you. Thank you, Ted.
Ted nods his head while struggling with the smell; he pats him on the shoulder and goes back to where he was initially standing; he watches China Black continue on his way as he talks.
KALEEM: Until you wash your hands, you better not shake mines or anybody else’s.
TED: With that kinda attitude, that’s why this place is the way it is. The man needed help. (Smells his hand.) A little funk ain’t never killed nobody.
Ted, Kaleem and Lamont laugh.
VOICE (VO): School run leaving the block.
Ted leads the way towards the exit as they talk amongst themselves.
Ted, Lamont, SHAMAR and JAMES stand in front of a classroom with about 70 prisoners sitting in chairs with built-in writing boards. Kaleem and several other prisoners are sitting on the side near the windows. A cardboard ballot box sits on a huge wooden desk. The Organization’s staff advisor, RICHARD MERCER talks to the membership.
RICHARD: You’ve just heard what each of these candidates promise to do if you elect them as the President of the Rainbow Unity Organization. Now, I’m going to ask each of you to fill out your ballots completely. That means you should vote for a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sgt. At Arms, an entire Executive Board. When you’re done, feel free to drop your ballots in the box.
Ted, Lamont, Shamar and James sit in chairs on the side near the window as the prisoners deposit their ballots in the box.
Richard counts the ballots as the membership watches TV. He marks the chart in front of him as he counts ballots. He marks the last ballot, tallies up the ballots, and stands.
RICHARD: Okay, listen up. The scores are in.
The TV is turned down as all eyes are on Richard. Ted, Lamont, and James are at full attention with anticipation surging through their bodies.
RICHARD: I guess we’ll begin with the grand prize. Our President for the next three years is . . . Once again, Theodore Peddleton!
Ted stands excitedly with clinched fists salute as the room explodes with applauds. Lamont is clearly infuriated, shaking his head and screwing up his face; James is genuinely happy about the decision.
INT. CELL BLOCK/GALLERY—DAY
Ted moves down the gallery neatly dressed. As Ted walks pass Watusi’s cell, he shouts to Ted.
WATUSI: Enjoy that visit, Ted.
TED: Always do, Watusi. I always do.
EXT. WALKWAY/VISITING ROOM—DAY
Ted walks rapidly down a pathway.
INT. VISITING ROOM—DAY
Ted sees his brother ROGER PEDDLETON and his Aunt ANGELA PEDDLETON as he approaches. Ted instantly detects their disturbed facial expressions; he shakes Roger’s hand and hugs his aunt as he speaks.
TED: Rog! Aunt Angie! Good to see y’all.
The three sit down in their respective chairs.
ANGELA: You want something to eat, Ted?
TED: Naw, I’m good for right now. We can get all that later.
ROGER: You know they be running out of food in them vending machines.
TED: I ain’t hungry. What’s up? It’s that bad, huh?
Angela and Roger make eye contact with each other as though waiting for the other to speak first. Roger sighs.
ROGER: The kid that killed Tommy is here at Sing Sing.
There is a moment of deep, intense silence.
TED: (Shakes his head; contains his anger.) How long he’s been here?
ANGELA: Ted, if you gonna get crazy, we’re not gonna tell you nothing else. The only reason we’re sharing this with you is because you asked us to keep an eye on this kid’s case and to let you know so you don’t get caught in the blind.
TED: Relax, aunty, I just asked how long he’s been here . . . So, how long?
ANGELA: About three weeks.
ROGER: If he finds out you’re Tommy’s father, you think he’ll try to get at you?
TED: I don’t know what this kid might do or might not do. I just know prison has its own rules like everything else, and stepping to a potential threat before that threat steps to you is a golden rule that has kept plenty of folks alive in this place.
ROGER: If you ask me, I say this chump Donald Belmar got a slap on the wrist. This bitch ass nigger copped out to a bullshit 7 years—
ANGELA: What I told you about that n-word, Roger!
ROGER: Sorry, aunty. But let’s keep it real. The way he killed Tommy was some real foul shit. He was supposed to be his friend; he took him to some secluded area and shot him like a dog.
TED: Did they ever find out why he killed Tommy?
ANGELA: No, and it doesn’t matter anyway. They found him with the smoking gun at the scene of the murder. He admitted he did it. I don’t like the fact that he only got 7 years, but I guess this is the way the Lord meant it to be.
ROGER: Come on, aunty, everybody knows this dude got a fuckin’ slap on the wrist for killing Tommy in cold blood. (Talks to Ted.) I know you gonna make him pay for what he did.
ANGELA: Roger! I told you not to start this non-sense—
TED: It’s all right, Aunt Angie. I’m not gonna do anything stupid; I’m one year away from the parole board, and the last thing I need is a new bid—
ROGER: (Shocked.) What you trying to say!? This nig—coward killed Tommy, your son, and you ain’t gonna handle your business!?
ANGELA: (Springs out of chair.) That’s it; we’re leaving. I told you not to come in here—
TED: No, aunty, it’s cool; Come on, please sit down; be easy, it’s all right.
Aunt Angie sits back down.
TED: There’s nothing wrong with the way he feels. Tommy was our flesh and blood, and we loved him. I’m furious at the fact this Donald character killed my only son. It’s obvious what the fuck I want to do. But, I’m not the same person I was nineteen years ago when I came to prison. Oh, believe me, I made some major changes in my life. And I’m a thinker now. Before I do things, I think hard and long about consequences. So calm your nerves, aunty, I’m cool. All right?
There is an intense moment of silence. Roger is clearly agitated, while Angela has finally calmed down. When Angela looks the other way Ted winks his eye at Roger, who smiles knowingly.
ANGELA: Ted, we want you out of this place! I’m not asking you to put your guards down or to do something that would cause you to get hurt, or killed, but don’t make a problem when it can be avoided. If you have to confront this Donald guy, think about your family on the other side of these prison walls. I know you, Ted, you’re about as stubborn as a lazy, backwater mule, and can be very vindictive when you want to be. Don’t let your ego—
TED: You ain’t gotta go there, aunt Angie! I want out of this place too much to do something that’ll keep me in here any longer than necessary.
There is a moment of eye contact between the three. Roger and Aunt Angela smile and begin talking as the scene fades.
INT. A-BLOCK GYM—DAY
DONALD BELMAR and TERRELL SUMMERS are lifting weights; Donald is lying on the bench doing bench presses while Terrell is spotting him. The gym is reasonably crowded with other prisoners lifting weights, playing basketball, watching TV, and playing card games. Donald pushes the barbell up and into the rake and sits up, breathing hard.
DONALD: That’s my fifth set. Two more and we move on to arms. (Looks at Terrell.) Damn, Terrell, you look like you tired already.
TERRELL: Naw, Donald, I ain’t tired yet, it’s my stomach. Told you I think those burgers I ate was fucked up.
DONALD: So that was you busting off, smelling up the place.
TERRELL: You know I don’t get down like that. When I gotta let loose, I take it to the bathroom. Them foul ass cats do disrespectfully stuff like that.
DONALD: Yeah, right. Come on, let’s get these last few sets in. I want you to lock out those arms all the way this time.
Terrell and Donald switch places.
INT. TED’S CELL—NIGHT
Ted sits on the side of his bunk with a picture in his hand. He is crying as he gazes at the picture, wiping away the tears.
There is an image of a young Ted holding an infant in his hands, smiling.
BACK TO SCENE
Ted lays the picture down, and pulls out more pictures from a plastic bag sitting next to him; he wipes his eyes and continues examining the pictures. After a moment, he stands and stares at the pictures plastered on the cell wall.
INSERT PICTURES ON THE WALL
There are several pictures of Ted and a gorgeous woman; they are both holding the same small child in the previous picture.
BACK TO SCENE
Ted mumbles to himself venomously.
TED: You ain’t gettin’ away with this shit. (Wipes the tears away.)
INT. ORGANIZATION OFFICE—DAY
Kaleem and Lamont enter, take their coats off, and hang them up. Lamont retrieves a clipboard while Kaleem arranges the folding chairs for the upcoming meeting.
LAMONT: Ted definitely got a horseshoe up his ass. He ain’t do no campaigning and still won the President position.
KALEEM: It ain’t got nothing to do with luck. Ted is over-qualified for the job and folks know that. He got damn near twice the amount of time in than all of us, and been doing this Organization shit in other spots. (Places the last chair and takes a seat in it.) Not only that, the man’s a sweetheart; he be helping dudes with they legal work, debts, GED tests; it’s rare for him to refuse to help someone if they ask. People want a leader that helps from the heart, not just to keep a position.
LAMONT: They ain’t see his bad side. Those cats never worked with him, and don’t know how crazy he can get with organization business. He’s been in the position a long time. He needs to share some of the glory. New blood might do us all some good.
KALEEM: What you tight about, anyway? You won the Vice President position. You moved up from secretary to VP. If anything, I’m the one who should be beefin’ up in this mufucka; they voted me in as the Sgt. At Arms, the lowest Executive Board member on the team.
LAMONT: (Takes a seat across from Kaleem.) Kaleem, man, you buggin’. That’s what you applied for. You could’ve ran for other positions.
KALEEM: Yeah. But it’s still the executive position with the least amount of authority. If I didn’t have obligations with AVP and PACE, I would’ve knocked you out the box for that VP spot.
LAMONT: (Laughs ingenuously.) You better go back to ASAT cause you gots to be smokin’ some serious shit.
KALEEM: Did Ted kick it with you about that VI with his peoples?
LAMONT: Naw, I ain’t get a chance to kick it with him yet. When he came back from the visit yesterday, he stayed in his cell the rest of the day and all night. Didn’t even come down here to finish up this Martin Luther King Special Events package.
KALEEM: That good ole family drama. Seems like it intensifies when you get close to the Board. It’s like all the bullshit be sitting and waiting in the cut, and the moment you about a year away from seeing them peoples, the worse kinda headaches start creeping out from under every damn rock in sight.
LAMONT: I think it got something to do with his son.
KALEEM: I thought his son got murdered?
LAMONT: He did, but I heard he was—
Ted, James and Shamar enter, hang up their coats, and take seats after giving Lamont and Kaleem some dap.
TED: I see y’all cats ready for action! Got chairs and shit all organized and everything. We’re getting off to a good start.
LAMONT: Before we get this Board meeting jumpin’, what happened at the visit?
Ted sighs and smiles. He takes a seat and the others do the same.
KALEEM: Since you ain’t come out last night, it’s obvious it was a rough one.
LAMONT: I’m just taking your advice, Ted. You said if we family we gotta help each other at times when the other is down.
TED: Actually, I’m kinda glad you brought up because I was planning on hitting y’all in the head with a few things after the meeting. But I guess before is just as good. Since I gotta get my hands dirty on this one, I’m gonna need y’all to hold me down.
KALEEM: Ah shit, it’s like that!?
LAMONT: We with you, man. What is it?
TED: (Theatrically looks around into the eyes of the others.) The dude that killed my son is here.
The heavy silence is accompanied by genuine shocked facial responses.
TED: Motherfucker been here about three weeks. Some dude named Donald Belmar.
SHAMAR: Whatever you wanna do, I’m down with you, bro.
KALEEM: So, what are you gonna do?
LAMONT: That’s a stupid ass question; he just said he’s gonna lay fire to this nigger’s ass. What the fuck else is he supposed to do?
JAMES: That ain’t the only choice, Lamont.
LAMONT: Ah, shit, here we go with this RTA, ART AVP peer counselor bullshit! If a motherfucker killed your son, I bet you an eye for an eye policy will become the only solution in your eyes, and you know it.
KALEEM: Since you need us to hold you down, I guess that means you’re taking the violent route?
TED: (Indecisiveness, nods his head.) That was my only child, man! My baby boy. He murdered him in cold blood.
KALEEM: You looked at all the consequences if you do the dance on this dude, and shit don’t go as planned?
TED: Come on, Kaleem, don’t talk to me like I’m a new jack. I’ve done more hits in my heydays than any of y’all in this room. (Looks around.) In fact, I’ve got more cuttings and stabbings than all of y’all put together.
JAMES: We’re well aware of that, Ted. We’re only making sure you’re reacting off of intelligence and not raw emotions. Nobody in here knows better than you that once that steel gets to moving around in a place like this, shit can get real ugly, real fast, and after the smoke clears there can be some real fucked up things to deal with.
KALEEM: It ain’t like the old days when you could body something and get just a few years in the box with no new charge. Now, shit is so twisted, they giving mufuckas the death penalty for even jailhouse bodies.
LAMONT: What the fuck makes you think a hit on this young, clown ass cat is gonna end up with dudes getting caught?
JAMES: Even if shorty keeps it real and don’t go out like a sucker, you got crazy sideline snitches.
SHAMAR: Gettin’ caught is always a reality you gotta contemplate.
JAMES: Ted, I know how you feel, believe me, but just a few days ago you stood in front the cultural awareness class and told all them people that you’re a changed man; I know you changed, cause I was with you in Attica. You got one more year and you see the Board; freedom is literally within your grasp after twenty long, grueling years. One slipup and you can throw it all away.
KALEEM: Whatever you decide, I’m with you. But you should know that this here is the ultimate test that will determine whether or not you have really changed. Change ain’t got shit to do with words; it’s the actions that show and prove.
Ted stares off into space. His strained expression is filled with confusion and indecisiveness.
EXT. A-BLOCK YARD—DAY
Lamont and Watusi walk, circling the outer perimeter talking in a low volume.
WATUSI: I can’t understand why you’re so hyped up about Ted blazin’ this guy? You actin’ like you hit the lottery or something.
LAMONT: You know I deserve that President spot. This is an opportunity for me to slide Ted’s ass right out the game. When he’s gone, I’ll move up into the President position. I’ve been putting in mad work, and Ted been in that position too long—
WATUSI: So, after Ted hits this kid, you gonna make sure he falls for it?
LAMONT: That’s the plan in a nutshell.
WATUSI: I know damn well you ain’t going out on some slip dropping shit. That kinda shit with certain people always backfire. Messing around with these trifling ass police, you about to put the kiss of death on your reputation. Remember what happened to Butch?
LAMONT: I ain’t stupid, Watusi. I wouldn’t be caught dead with my John Handcock on any snitch slip. We can get little Peto to do it. People in here are scared shitless of him because he’s a super rat. The last time folks got at him they shut down the whole A-Block.
WATUSI: (Sighs with clear frustration.) I ain’t feelin’ this shit, Lamont. All this telling, and slithering around like a snake ain’t my style. And anyway, Ted is a real nigga, man.
LAMONT: Oh, so what you saying? Blood ain’t thicker than mud no mo? Mufucka we family for real. And you don’t know Ted like I do. He runs that organization like a fuckin’ tyrant. I worked under him for two terms, and the man is ruthless when it comes to that organization.
WATUSI: Maybe he’s trying to get some shit done around here, and ain’t letting a bunch of lazy ass cats slow down progress.
LAMONT: Man, fuck all the sap rap; you with me on this or what?
WATUSI: Of course, I’m with you. If something was to happen to you and I wasn’t behind you 120% aunt Rachel would kill me. I just need to know, what’s so damn important about this President spot?
LAMONT: You wouldn’t understand even if I gave you the ABE version.
WATUSI: (Shakes his head with a genuine smile.) Lamont, you just don’t change for shit, man. You did the same thing when we was kids. Remember, that time you was on a football team, and you was pissing a bitch cause you couldn’t be the boss of the team, the quarterback? (Laughs hardily.) Man, you had me and my boys come from way across town to put pressure on your teammates until they voted to put you in that spot. And then y’all lost every game from then on.
Lamont and Watusi laugh.
WATUSI: You was a control freak then and now you graduated to being a control fanatic.
LAMONT: This ain’t about control, it’s about what I desire. He won this election cause he got mad time in.
WATUSI: I don’t see what’s the big fuckin’ deal about being the boss of a rinky dink ass inmate organization. But because we are first cousins, I guess it don’t matter what your motives are. As many times as you saved my black ass, I ain’t got much of a choice but to ride with you on this even though I’m not feelin’ it.
LAMONT: I need you to start looking for this dude, Donald Belmar, and start laying groundwork to get Peto on standby. Ted got his man, Linny, looking for him, but we need to know who he is.
WATUSI: Finding scram boogie ain’t a problem. I might have to get creative with the Peto thing, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem either. But what could be a problem is somebody slipping up and allowing this thing to touch Ted’s ears; if he finds out we’re snaking him like this, it’ll definitely mean lifetime beef.
LAMONT: Naw, naw, Watusi, this thing—
WATUSI: Say what you want, but Ted ain’t no slouch. He’s far from the kind of dude you can do dirty and walk any prison yard in the state without looking over your shoulder the rest of your bid.
LAMONT: I don’t see a problem. I’m an expert at holding water; shit, I’m a professional secret keeper, and I know you ain’t suicidal. That being the case, this run is problem-proof.
Ted enters, picks up his spoon and fork and continues towards the serving counter. There are dozens of prisoners already sitting and eating, while dozens are either on the serving line or approaching. Ted sees Linny in front of the line. Ted weaves up to Linny. They talk in a very inconspicuous fashion.
TED: What’s up, Linny. (Gives him some dap, lowers his voice.) Where is he? Don’t point.
LINNY: (Quickly looks to his right.) He’s the young kid with the brown hoodie, sitting at the fifth table, the third seat from the aisle.
Ted inconspicuously looks at Donald, who’s apparently eating alone. The other prisoners at the table are eating and talking among themselves. Because of the angle in which Ted views Donald, he can only see a part of Donald’s profile.
Ted moves down the aisle with his tray in hand and takes a seat three tables from Donald. Now Ted gets a full frontal look at Donald. Ted eats while nonchalantly stealing long stares at Donald.
Donald, Terrell, and Vito stand at a huge table talking as they assemble various garments to be placed inside the huge washing machines.
TERRELL: I swear, man, the stupid shit these dudes be doing in this place is unfuckin’ believable!
VITO: However it goes down, his man, Ty, is gonna pay that fuckin’ nut, somehow, some fuckin’ way. (Places a bunch of pants in a machine.) I’m telling you, I think he’s trying to pull a fuckin’ stunt.
DONALD: I ain’t trying to throw shit in the game, but this probably happened for a good reason.
Donald places a handful of clothes in the washing machine as Vito returns to the table.
DONALD: I can’t understand why gaming is all y’all think about.
TERRELL: Oh, so now, you ain’t with it? I bet if I set up a game for tonight you’ll be the first mufucka on deck, ready to fling some cards.
VITO: You been on some right bullshit lately, you know that? What is it, your girl acted the fool again? I notice every time your peoples start getting on your nerves, you find a way to dump that shit on us.
DONALD: This ain’t got nothing to do with my family issues. I’m just tired of same old non-sense. And it don’t take a rocket scientist to see that sooner or later this gambling shit is gonna end bad.
TERRELL: What, you gettin’ on some soft, scary shit now?
DONALD: Man, I ain’t trying to catch no meatball keeplocks. I’m trying to get me a trailer visit. Call me soft or whatever, but I’m not trying to end up like Kano; in the box, with mad loss of good time, cause he wanna make a few dollars at the card table, and a dude don’t pay his debt and shit end up getting violent.
INT. A-BLOCK GYM—NIGHT
Ted, Lamont, Kaleem, James and Shamar enter the gym and split up with the exception of Ted and Shamar who go to the basketball court and begin watching the gym entrance.
Ted is now on the opposite side of the basketball court; he sees Donald enter the gym and start preparing the weights. A moment later, Terrell enters and joins Donald. The two begin working out.
Ted watches Donald and Terrell sitting at a table playing cards with two other prisoners. Ted watches a gang of wild, rowdy young prisoners. His view goes back and forth from Donald and his fellow card players to the gang bangers.
NEAR PUNCHING BAG
Lamont watches Ted as he watches Donald. Watusi approaches from the TV area and begins talking to Lamont.
WATUSI: I see your man is going through with it. To be honest I thought all that AVP, ASAT, Familyworks, and all the other so-called non-violence programs were going to turn your man into a bleeding heart.
LAMONT: This chump killed his son. There’s not a lot of forces that can contain that kind of rage, especially for him since he loved the shit out of that kid. Didn’t get visits from him, but loved him to death. Talked about him all the time.
WATUSI: What’s he waiting for?
LAMONT: When they close the gym, he’s gonna do a drive-by, a blindside hit.
WATUSI: Smart move. I don’t think it’s necessary since this cat ain’t rolling with a crew. And he don’t strike me as a snitch.
LAMONT: Yeah, but it don’t matter, since Peto’s gonna get fed the facts, am I right?
WATUSI: Yeap, everything’s in place.
Lamont stares at Ted with an evil grin.
Ted sits on a bench inconspicuously watching Donald. He looks at his watch.
It is 10 minutes after nine o’clock.
BACK TO SCENE
Ted pulls the KNIFE from his jacket pocket, examines it, and puts it back. A moment later, the C.O. gets on the bullhorn.
C.O.: The gym is now closed. All inmates are to report to their cells immediately.
Ted remains seated; his view goes back and forth from Donald to the gang bangers. Shamar starts fidgeting, nervously looking at Lamont, James, and Kaleem, who are all confused by Ted’s sudden delay. Ted continues looking at Donald and the gang bangers.
SHAMAR: He’s almost in position, Ted. If this run is gonna be a success, it’s gotta be now or never, bro.
Ted stands, his stare still going back and forth from Donald to the gang bangers. After a moment, he sighs and speaks.
TED: Call it off. The run is dead.
TED: Go tell the others it’s dead.
Shamar sighs as though a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders. He smiles at Ted, pats him on the shoulder and scurries off towards the others. Ted approaches the crowd of prisoners that Donald is merging into.
EXT. A-BLOCK YARD—DAY
Lamont and Watusi spin the perimeter, talking. Lamont is visibly upset, but struggles to contain his rage.
LAMONT: This is fucked up, man. It don’t make sense.
WATUSI: Did you ask him why he flipped out like that?
LAMONT: What the fuck you think? Yeah, I asked him. He shut down on all of us, wouldn’t say a word to any of us. When we started pushing him to tell us what happened, he was about to spazz out on us.
WATUSI: I told you he was gonna turn into a bleeding heart. That AVP is mother, man.
LAMONT: His cold feet ain’t had shit to do with an Alternative to Violence Program. Them programs work only when people decide they wanna change, period. And in my opinion, there’s certain types of violence that’s never gonna stop, and a situation where a motherfucker murders your child is one of the exceptions.
WATUSI: Well, whatever freaked him out, it’s obvious this brings your quest for the President spot to a grinding halt. You got three years to find a way to make the membership love you more than they love Ted. Where there’s a will there’s always a way, as they say.
LAMONT: I’m not waiting three fuckin’ years to get that spot. I got an iron will and know there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (In deep thought.) You said this dude Donald ain’t a snitch, right?
WATUSI: That’s how I see it.
LAMONT: You think he’ll bust his gun?
WATUSI: (Looks at Lamont strangely.) Ah, come on, man. This cat ain’t stupid enough to bust at a thorough breed prisoner with damn near two decades in the system. Even if he is a killer, he’ll do his own investigation and find out Ted is the real deal. I know hardliners that won’t bring it to Ted. This kid don’t look like he’s retarded. I can’t see him going there.
LAMONT: (Smiles while nodding his head.) I say with the right type of manipulation, we could scare him into making a move. I seen it happen plenty of times. And if we could navigate him away from doing his own research, I think he’ll judge Ted the same way most people’ll judge a book by its cover, and’ll make a move first to save himself.
WATUSI: I gotta admit, a scared motherfucker in this place is one of the most dangerous type of prisoners to tangle with. I learned that first hand.
LAMONT: Even a cold-blooded coward will fight an unbeatable giant if he thinks his back is up against a wall and death is on his ass no matter what happens.
WATUSI: (Sighs extraordinarily hard.) I tell you, Lamont, if you wasn’t family, I’d cut your grimy ass off. It’s scary vibing with you cause you always find a way to fuck a motherfucker over. I’m glad I’m not on your shit list.
LAMONT: So I can count on you?
WATUSI: Why you keep asking me that dumb ass question? I’ll start making the connections with this Donald cat tomorrow.
INT. LAW LIBRARY—DAY
Ted enters and approaches the copy machine. Ted has a folder in his hands. He talks briefly to the C.O. at the desk and goes to the copy machine. A prisoner is talking to DANNY, the copy machine operator.
PRISONER: I can get you the copy tickets when I go to the commissary. I just got here and didn’t know y’all do the copies by tickets. In other spots they do it by disbursement form.
Ted stands in line waiting for copies. He listens to the exchange between Danny and the prisoner.
DANNY: Sorry, my brother. I’m not allowed to give credit.
PRISONER: But this motion gotta go out tomorrow. It’s a court deadline.
Danny shrugs his shoulders as Ted moves up to the desk and stands next to the prisoner.
TED: How many copies you need, brother?
PRISONER: (Confused, hesitant.) Thirty copies.
Ted starts counting off the tickets; he sees the prisoner’s tension.
TED: Be easy, bro. Ain’t no strings attached. All I ask in return is that you help someone in need of help.
Ted hands the copy tickets to Danny. Danny takes the stack of papers and starts copying them.
PRISONER: (Sticks hand out for a shake.) The name’s Black Prince.
TED: (Shakes his hand.) Ted. Teddy Peddleton.
BLACK PRINCE: Thank you, Ted. I just got here from Downstate, but when I get right, I’ll repay you with interest.
TED: Naw, Black Prince, I told you, pass on that favor to someone else. I’m just planting seeds with hopes that we can get into the habit of helping instead of hurting each other. If you really wanna do me a favor, allow this helping spirit to become contagious.
Ted gives him a head nod and Black Prince returns the gesture with an approving facial expression.
INT. ORGANIZATION OFFICE—DAY
Ted enters with the folder in his hand. Kaleem is typing while Lamont is rummaging through the file cabinet.
TED: Yo, we got any extra copy tickets laying around?
LAMONT: Naw, you took the last of them.
KALEEM: You got the package copied, right?
TED: Not all of it. I got some extra tickets in my cell. It ain’t nothing, I got it.
LAMONT: You had more than enough tickets, what happened?
TED: Long story. I’ll get the rest copied later.
Kaleem and Lamont shrug it off and continue what they were doing while Ted opens the book cabinet researching the shelves.
KALEEM: Yo, Ted, I know you’re not in the mood to talk about that run the other night, but I got to say I’m proud of you, man.
LAMONT: That was one hellava turn of events.
KALEEM: You are the epitome of the most merciful. I bet if the Board could get wind of this, they’d cut your ass loose on GP.
TED: Yeah, right. I never said I was washing my hands on this. That night I got this strange vibe . . . And I decided to follow my gut instinct.
LAMONT: So you gonna go at it from another angle, huh?
TED: I guess you can look at it that way. When I was looking at shorty, it was like . . . (Sighs, all cocked up.) I had got this feeling out of nowhere; it was like a voice telling me I had to find out why he killed my son. I felt if I let this opportunity slip by, I would be losing a part of my son’s memory. I know this shit sounds crazy, but I gotta know why he killed my son.
KALEEM: That’s not crazy, at least not according to those psychology books. I read somewhere that stuff like that can bring closure to a traumatic ordeal.
LAMONT: I say go for it, Ted. If I was in your shoes I would definitely want to know. You go the upper hand too, since he don’t know you’re Tommy’s dad, which should make finding out real easy.
KALEEM: Befriend him, get inside his head, find out why he murdered your kid, and then what?
TED: (Holds the silence for a long moment.) I guess I’ll figure that out when the time comes. But, I will say this much. Those Bible verses about forgiveness have been working on my conscience like a motherfucker!
Ted laughs and the others join in.