INSERT: A collage of photos and headlines covering a century of Hollywood’s fame and splendor.
EXT. LOS ANGELES CITYSCAPE – NIGHT
The vast black carpet unfolds below. The speckled landscape is alive with red, blue, and silver gems of activity, the structured chaos of millions.
Silhouettes of concrete and glass sprout up like a garden of steel ghosts in the city of angels. These monoliths stand as a testament to man’s power and imagination.
The “HOLLYWOOD” letters are a crown upon the hills, illuminating the hope and promise in a generation of dreamers.
SUPER: HOLLYWOOD CALIFORNIA “1971”
A flurry of nightlife is revealed while riding down the Sunset Strip past points of interest. Stopping at the curb directly in front of the modest structure of the “STARLIGHT LOUNGE”.
EXT. STARLIGHT LOUNGE – SAME
A short-skirted attractive YOUNG WOMAN and a BRAWNY COWBOY spill out of the front door of the bar obviously intoxicated. As soon as the door closes, the locking mechanism SNAPS for closing time. Just behind the COUPLE at ground level, an eight-inch RAT scurries between the woman’s high heels, startling her into the COWBOY’s arms with a LOUD SHRIEK.
Oh my god that thing’s as big as my cat!
The COWBOY easily cradles HER off the ground in safety.
Good lookin’ out there, varmint.
You had that all planned out didn’t ya’ cowboy? My hero—now gimmie a kiss!
The COUPLE engage in a passionate kiss, bathed in the neon glow of the Hollywood night.
SHOT PANS – To ground level catching the RAT frozen momentarily at the entrance to the alley.
EXT. ALLEY – SAME
The RAT scurries deeper into the alley negotiating a maze of obstacles. Through a pipe, over some pallets, around a small puddle, then up a two by four arriving at the lip of a large trash dumpster.
A wisp of smoke floats up like a white string, drawing the RAT to the opposite end of the dumpster. The trail of smoke is followed down to its source, a female hand holding a cigarette.
A long ash falls from the cigarette as the cherry is now right on the unmoving fingers. A male hand, which is missing its ring finger easily enters the frame and takes the cigarette from her hand.
Following the hand, he brings the smoke to his lips and draws hard. The bright ember illuminates the risky face of 25-year-old MANUEL “LONELY BOY” RAMIREZ.
MANNY’s POV – The beautiful face of 19-year-old COURTNEY BAKER, sits huddled at her end of the beat up couch covered from her neck down in poncho. Looking closely, COURTNEY’s face reveals a severe level narcosis in full effect.
The COUPLE occupy opposite ends of the couch that sits against one end of the dumpster obscuring them from the alley opening. MANNY’s eyes relapse again over COURTNEY as he takes the final drag of the smoke, scratches his face, looking down between his legs now.
The PUDDLE stops him. His distressed countenance stares back in dark mirrored reflection. Shaking his head, he flicks the butt into the puddle, destroying the image.
MANNY rises with loaded legs, paces the length of the couch, rubs his face, looks around, uncertain of his next move, he walks a few feet away coming to a ’69 VW. He SLAMS a hand on the roof! COURTNEY barely shifts with the noise.
Girl … you in a world a shit.
Pacing again, MANNY reaches into his Army jacket, pulls out a zippo lighter and pack of smokes, exposing the handle of a pistol. Lighting the smoke and tossing the empty pack into the dumpster.
COURTNEY is now rubbing her stomach, MOANING in a painful euphoric tone as she stirs completely unaware of MANNY who watches her.
NANNY glances at his watch, shakes off the high, comes to COURTNEY and leans over, roughly grabs her face in one hand and shakes.
Courtney, Courtney! I call Stoney he’ll know what to do. I aint gonna kill his kid …
MANNY more aware looks around before making his way out of the alley towards the street.
EXT. FRONT OF STARLIGHT LOUNGE
MANNY bends the corner out of the alley and hurries to the phone booth a few feet away from the entrance of the lounge.
INT. PHONE BOOTH
MANNY retrieves a dime from his pocket, shoots it into the phone and dials from memory before looking around.
INT. ALLEY – SAME
COURTNEY’s head now tosses from side to side, eyes flutter, chest heaving, her violent dream state pulls her in MOANING—
EXT. MOUNT ZION, ILLINOIS – NIGHT – DREAM SEQUENCE
ON SCREEN DOOR – SLAMMING SHUT on the back porch of an old farmhouse. The innocent face of seven year old COURTNEY BAKER coalesces behind the screen door. Eyes wide, face panicked she watches—
—her father, BIG JOHN BAKER, carry the beaten lifeless body of her mother down the porch stairs. BIG JOHN staggers across the yard.
BIG JOHN stops in the middle of the yard. He turns slightly, looks back to COURTNEY with a maniacal shame dominating his face. The tear-streaked face turns away staggering out around the corner of the house towards the walls of corn, out of COURTNEY’s sight now.
INT. FARMHOUSE – SAME
COURTNEY’s tiny hands grip the screen door tightly, RATTLING the door in confusion as if to wake her mother or stop her father.
Wake up, Mama—wake up!
BACK TO ALLEY
EXT. ALLEY – SAME
COURTNEY is in clear distress and pain now while trapped in the heavy drug influence and nightmare.
Her hands writhe over the poncho and tear it away revealing the full pregnant stomach now. She tries to sit up but can’t.
FROM ABOVE – The struggling COURTNEY in full blown labor, the MOANS and YELLS fill the dank dark alley.
ON COURTNEY – Knees drawn back and spread against her shoulders, unconsciously clutching her underwear under the dress. She TEARS them away! The hyper BREATHING and GRUNTS come harder now—COURTNEYs’ face contorts as her eight-month-old premature child crowns. Still in a semi-conscious state, eyes at full R.E.M, her BABY is born without a cry.
EXT. PAY PHONE – SAME
MANNY waiting for an answer from anyone now. SLAMS the receiver into the cradle three times.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, Stoney!
MANNY runs a hand through his dirty hair, then momentarily squeezes his temples with one hand, trying to gather his composure.
COURTNEY’s now in and out of consciousness, looking at her bloody hands before falling back in to the nightmare.
QUICKFLASHES – COURTNEY’s DREAM
The silhouette of a scarecrow protrudes from the corn field as the wind sways the corn to an eerie rhythm against a red sky.
COURTNEY’s mother sits alone at the end of a kitchen table. Her face is badly bruised and beaten.
Run, Courtney … run!
BIG JOHN BAKER drags a frightened little COURTNEY by the wrist and throws her across the room onto a bed removing his belt in a drunk slobbering rage as he closes in on the horrified child.
You’re just like your mama!
COURTNEY raises her arms to block the belt lashes.
No, Daddy … no!
END QUICKFLASHES: BACK TO ALLEY
COURTNEY appears to be fighting off her father with bloody hands.
(comes out of it)
Oh my god, no, no …
EXT. PHONE BOOTH
MANNY marches back towards the alley and notices a patrol car that cruises a block away. He quickly darts into the alley.
MANNY retraces his path into the dimly lit recesses of the alley. His stride is arrested when he reaches COURTNEY. What was bad—is now worse.
Manny, help me …
MANNY takes control of the situation, collecting some newspaper and discarded rags, kneels down and delicately gathers up the lifeless infant and afterbirth. He makes his way to the dumpster and carefully places the bundle inside.
MANNY crosses himself in the typical Catholic fashion.
(looks to the sky)
Forgive me, Father, for what I gatta’ do … just business.
COURTNEY looks at her trembling bloody hands. Now becoming aware and out of her borderline overdose. Still frozen she looks at MANNY who is now coming towards her with pistol drawn. She drops her head in SOBS as MANNY puts the gun to the back of her head.
Manny—help me—my bay—be …
MANNY balks at her plea.
His finger fondles the trigger.
O.S. – A COMMOTION echoes loudly at the head of the alley. MANNY spins around to see—
A drunk WILLY BLAYLOCK, his black skin, black suit, and black guitar case is hard to see, staggering towards MANNY with an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth. WILLY stops and pats his chest for a lighter and notices some movement up ahead.
MANNY quickly breaks the situation down, jamming the pistol back in his coat.
The movement prompts WILLY to ask—
Hey, my man, you gotta light—for a blues playa’ extrawdinair?
MANNY ignores Willy’s request as he shields COURTNEY and thinks.
A little too much gin for wailin’ Willy tonight.
Willy staggers and falls down.
Haa… ha … that’s better now.
Damn you, chica.
MANNY grabs COURTNEY like a sack of flour, draping her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.
WILLY is occupied with the inability to stand, while MUMBLING to himself about life as a bluesman.
MANNY struggles down the alley with COURTNEY CRYING. He turns the first corner, coming to the back door of the Starlight Lounge. He looks around before TAPPING on the door in code.
After a moment the door pulls open. MANNY rushes in past a surprised BARTENDER that looks worried at the bloody mess on MANNY’s shoulder.
Lonely … what’s goin’ on, man?
(turns and throws him a set of keys)
Shut up and listen. Move that car around the corner…
Manny turns to go up a dark staircase and turns
When Stoney comes in tomorrow, you didn’t see this!
The worried BARTENDER follows orders bolting out to move the car. MANNY disappears up the stairs, he GRUNTS as COURTNEY MOANS.
INT. SECOND FLOOR APARTMENT – SAME
ON DOOR – It BURSTS open. MANNY enters winded. He flicks the light on and kicks the door shut. Marches across the small sparsely furnished room towards the bathroom.
From inside the shower/tub, the cheap plastic curtain fills the frame. In a flash the curtain’s RIPPED open with COURTNEY’s bloody dress and MANNY’s sweating face close. He sets her down in the tub.
MANNY turns on the bath water as COURTNEY pulls her knees to her chest rocking back and forth with traumatized MOANS.
How could you do this …?
Clean yourself up!
COURTNEY in a huddled mass, shivers and gives him the look of death.
INT. LIVING ROOM
MANNY comes out, tearing his coat off. He snatches a bottle of tequila off the fridge heading to a small shanty kitchen table.
MANNY swings a chair backwards and sits down. Sets the pistol on the table takes a deep breath for the first time then tips the bottle with a long bubbled pull.
His eyes touch the still shaking COURTNEY. He looks at the pistol that sits with quiet authority, demanding a decision. His eyes go back and forth, he finds a solution by the expression change.
EXT. ALLEY – SAME
WILLY finally gathers his balance, picks up his guitar case and staggers down the alley towards the dumpster. Suddenly he’s hit with the unmistakable CRY of an infant. WILLY stops with a puzzled look, turning to the dumpster, the CRY comes again.
INSIDE THE DUMPSTER – WILLY’s face slowly appears over the edge.
WILLY’s POV – Finds the bundle of wet newspaper that moves slightly. His hand enters the frame and starts peeling back the layers of paper and rags. The BABY’s CRIES pierce the early morning air. WILLY’s look of concern transforms into a welcoming smile at this most precious discovery.
Well well, what do we have here?
The infant BOY SCREAMS LOUDER, acknowledging his first human voice.
Now now, dont’cha get’ta fussin’. Willy Blaylock’s here, son.
INT. APARTMENT – SAME
MANNY rises from the table. Bottle in one hand, pistol in the other. Slowly walking to the bathroom, he leans against the door-jamb and watches COURTNEY carefully while steam billows out around him.
COURTNEY feels his presence but doesn’t look at him. MANNY reaches over and turns the WATER off. He taps her on the shoulder with the bottle, snapping her out of the cradled hostile trance.
Take a drink.
COURTNEY makes fierce eye contact, snatching the bottle from his hand. MANNY with a disturbed stare leans back on the door-jamb.
I said drink!
COURTNEY obeys, taking a healthy guzzle. She COUGHS and SNORTS, wiping her mouth. Her head drops onto her knees as MANNY crouches down next to the tub, pistol at the ready.
I remember when you drank that shit like water…
Manny pulls hair off her face she pulls away.
Somebody must be looking out for you, chica—cuz yer’ spose ta’ be dead.
COURTNEY doesn’t look at him, pulls again from the bottle. She clenches the bottle tighter, anger welling up in her eyes, the white knuckled and trembling hand becomes still.
You soulless sonofabitch!
I’m the bad guy? I follow orders—you burn Stoney like that, think you jus’ gonna walk away? Two keys and fifty G’s.
(laughs lights a smoke)
You gotta choice ta’ make …
COURTNEY, in a blur violently swings the bottle up, SMASHING it off the top of MANNY’s forehead, sending glass and tequila flying. COURTNEY tries to get up and run, but MANNY is barely phased by the blow and easily slams COURTNEY back into the tub.
Rising up, MANNY grabs COURTNEY by the hair, yanks her head way back. He jams the barrel up under her chin, she struggles. MANNY has blood streaming down his face, it drops off into the already pink bath water.
Like I said bitch, you got a choice ta’ make …
(shakes her head)
You can fucken die right here, you can go ta’ prison for the death a that baby, or you can disappear for good!
You’ve already killed me.… You just murdered Stoney’s child …
(tries not to show fear at that realization)
Sure it was—I’d like ta’ finish this right here, but I ain’t cleanin’ up another fucken mess …
(gives her head a swift shake)
Now what’s it gonna be?!
Ok, ok, I’ll disappear. Just leave me alone …
COURTNEY starts SOBBING heavily as MANNY releases her and storms into the living room and grabs some clothes from a closet and comes back to her, tossing the clothes on the ground. He reaches past the CRYING COURTNEY and pulls the plug.
MANNY turns to the sink, looks at his cut in the mirror.
Now get dressed!
What—what was it?
MANNY cleaning his gash, his reflection looks at COURTNEY then back to himself without mercy.
He was dead, that’s what he was.
COURTNEY’s POV – Looking into the pink water that finds its way to an ever increasing funnel. Her VISION BLURS, as the last streaks of blood slide down the drain with the life she once knew.
FADE TO BLACK:
EXT. CHINO, CALIFORNIA – DAY
At ground level, the CRACK and cadence of black spit-shined shoes march their way across a parking lot.
SUPER: PRESENT DAY “2002” CHINO INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN
An immaculately dressed CHANCE PRESTON RILEY in full Navy whites. At 30, he looks ageless with his all-American look. Reminding of Tom Cruise and Richard Gere in their navy roles. CHANCE opens the door and holds it for an attractive FEMALE correctional officer.
They make great eye contact as the woman flirts while walking away. CHANCE gives her a nod before entering.
INT. PRISON VISITING BUILDING
Upon entering, CHANCE removes his military cover, walking with pure confidence to a processing counter.
The CORRECTIONAL OFFICER behind the counter slowly looks up from behind his newspaper almost bothered.
Can I help you?
I’m here to see inmate Courtney Baker.
Well, visiting days are Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Hope you didn’t travel far.
I will be seeing Ms. Baker today, so if you’re not too busy … go ahead and call who you need to call.
The OFFICER shoots CHANCE a look of rebuke while SMACKING his gum. After appraising the situation, he drops the paper and picks up the phone turning to conduct HUSHED CONVERSATION.
I didn’t catch’er name?
Lieutenant Commander Riley.
The OFFICER relays the info then hangs up.
Go ahead and take a seat. The Lieutenant will be with you shortly.
CHANCE remains at the counter, a look of little patience brewing.
ON POLISHED HALLWAY – A large, fit 50-ish BLACK LIEUTENANT struts up to the counter with stiff authority. Removing a toothpick—
What can I do for you, Mr. Riley?
Like I said, I’m here to see Inmate Courtney baker.
And as my officer informed you—visiting days are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday … and that’s only if you’re an approved visitor.
CHANCE reaches into his coat pocket, removing a plastic business card. He drops it on the counter and fingers it to the LIEUTENANT.
Oh, I’m approved.
The LIEUTENANT picks up the card and reads it, not impressed.
So what, anyone can hand me a government card …
Turn it over and call that cell number and find out. Listen, Lieutenant. I’m on a schedule and if you don’t wanna end up manning one of those gun towers out there, I suggest you make that call—now. Or, go get Ms. Baker—now.
The OFFICER wears a look restrained laughter.
That right? We’ll see ’bout this!
The LIEUTENANT snatches the phone and dials the number, opening an awkward moment of silence between them all.
The OFFICER smiles at CHANCE who winks back with a smirk.
Hello, who am I speaking with?
His demeanor shifts from aggressive to obedient. Looks at CHANCE.
Governor. Sir, I have a Mr. Riley …
(he shuts up)
Certainly, right away, yes sir, all-righty … yes, thank you!
The LIEUTENANT softly hangs up the phone and turns with a fake smile.
(looks at Officer)
Well, Miller, don’t just sit there … get Ms. Baker down here! Commander Riley, you’ve just been approved. I’ll be escorting you personally to your visit this afternoon. Is there anything else you might need?
Just Ms. Baker.
INT. CONTROL ROOM – LATER
A tough looking female CONTROL OFFICER works the brightly lit control panel while watching an INMATE walk to gate on the TV.
Name and number?
Baker … W-02316.
The OFFICER activates the door release.
The steel door SLIDES open with an older, still beautiful COURTNEY walking through. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail and is fitted in denim blues. She follows the red line on the concrete towards the visiting room a bit unsure of who is waiting for her.
To her left, the wall gives way to three large panes of glass.
COURTNEY’s POV – SLOW MOTION
Through the glass she finds CHANCE looking at her and rising from his seat with a powerful presence of strength and beauty.
COURTNEY’s eyes are arrested as one unconscious hand touches the glass ever so delicately sliding along with her to the door.
Thirty-one years of separation and question-filled days and nights evaporate at that very instant. The maternal bond between them becomes tangible and realized for the first time.
BACK TO NORMAL SPEED:
INT. VISITING ROOM
The door opens and COURTNEY’s arms immediately fold across her womb. Taking slow arid measured steps, both never break eye contact as she arrives in front of her statuesque son. The gratitude and adoration scream in her being.
SERIES OF SHOTS – MOTHER and SON lost in their individual need. After a poignant moment—
(left hand over mouth)
Wow … look at you. I must’uv played this moment out a million times …
COURTNEY’s arms return to her womb allowing him to establish the physical boundaries. We sense her need to touch him.
Yeah … I know what you mean …
CHANCE breaks the energy pointing to the coffee machine.
Would you like some coffee?
COURTNEY soaking in the resemblances.
I’m sorry, sure, yes, I’d love to have a cup of coffee with you.
CHANCE crisply walks to the coffee machine with COURTNEY following close with his back to her, she comes close, wanting so much to touch him, but doesn’t.
CHANCE removes some cash off a billfold as COURTNEY appears at his profile taking in his stature. He turns, feeling her eyes.
Quit it, making me nervous …
I’m sorry, I just … dunno.
How do you like your coffee, ma’m?
COURTNEY suffers a momentary letdown with the formal address.
Cream’n sugar please …
(wipes away a tear)
You don’t strike me as the type of man who gets nervous.
(pushes buttons with a faint smile)
This’s true—most of the time.
ON COFFEE DISPENSER – The paper cup drops down and is filled up with the steaming tan liquid.
You must have some kind’a pull to get in here on a Tuesday.
(hands her the cup)
I wouldn’t call it pull—more like torque.
CHANCE selects his coffee and then they move to a table and sit.
I followed your case.
Thanks, that means a lot.
Five years … I would’ve testified for you, self defense. They should give you a medal …
This was my cross to bear. Could’ve been worse. Out of the blue, some hot-shot lawyer shows up, says he’ll take my case pro bono.
Yeah well, he’s a better lawyer than he is a drummer.
That wasn’t a coincidence …
We played ball in high school, started a garage band, then he went Harvard Law, I went Annapolis.
I appreciate that.
Look, um … we got about four hours to make sense of this. I gotta be on a flight tonight …
COURTNEY settles in, recognizing this as her moment of truth to make Chance understand how it all went down.
We better get started then. Let’s start at the beginning.
Well, in ’69 I was 17 …
EXT. MOUNT ZION, ILLINOIS – DAY
FLASHBACK SEQUENCE – AERIAL SHOT
A checkerboard landscape fills the frame. Corn as far as the eye can see. Suddenly, a crop dusting biplane ROARS past.
SUPER: MOUNT ZION, ILLINOIS “1969”
The PILOT jockeys the agile plane over the tips of corn and SPRAYS with perfect timing. In the distance a farmhouse appears, closing the gap quickly and with little room to spare the PILOT pulls up, banks left, and circles up and around the tiny speck of farmhouse amid the green sea.
From the farmhouse level, the crop duster floats behind the broken and rusted windmill then continuing out of the frame.
ON WINDMILL VANES – After a quiet moment, a rock TINKS off the rusty blade of this tired structure.
Following the rock BOUNCING down to the ground.
From behind, 19-year-old farm boy DUSTY SHAW, wearing faded jeans and a T-shirt. He holds a bat on his shoulder and adjusts a beat up Dodger ball cap and tosses up another rock which EXPLODES off the bat, sailing deep into the cornfield.
DUSTY’s mischievous smile and perfect swing, complete the picture of Major League dreams.
YOUNG COURTNEY (O.S.)
(sweet country accent)
I heard they put a man on the moon.
DUSTY with one eye closed and a slow point of the bat, CRACKS another rock deep, startling a CROW that sits defiantly perched atop an apparently useless scarecrow. DUSTY turns while swinging the bat up behind his neck and fixes his hat.
Yep, a man can do just about anything if he has a mind to.
DUSTY’s POV – Sitting on a swing that hangs from a huge oak tree, is the angel-faced COURTNEY at 17. Her dress and long hair are flowing gently in the summer breeze.
Yeah … well so can a WO— MAN!
DUSTY spits, working the plug of chaw. He swaggers towards her.
(drops the bat)
Heck Courtney, they’d never put a woman in a space rocket.
(starts pushing her)
Shoot, before ya’ know.it, she’d be tryin’ ta’ fix the place up all pretty like—what with curtains and doilies and such.
COURTNEY smiles at her best friend’s ignorance. Her innocent, polished country charm radiates naturally while swinging.
(looks to the sky)
I wouldn’t mind goin’ to the moon. As a matter a fact, I wouldn’t mind goin’ anywhere—someplace without corn or scarecrows—and the people gotta be friendly.
Some young people like us, not a bunch a old drunk crusty farmers.
What about the ocean …you ever think about the ocean, Dusty?
Throws the tobacco plug out and wipes his mouth.
I think a that all the time …
DUSTY seizes the ropes of the swing, spins her around to face him. Looking at her with love in his eyes, he leans in and steals a quick kiss.
We gotta get atta’ here, Courtney.
Quit bein’ foolish—we can’t get nowhere on nothin’!
DUSTY lets her go. Picks up the bat, swirls it over his head in a sweeping circle, then points hard towards the setting sun.
I say we go west.
Why—cuz that’s where your Dodgers are?
No—cuz that’s where your ocean is.
The TWO share a moment while dusk takes a seat upon the Baker farm and the corn with its scarecrow guardian dances in the Illinois wind.
EXT. DRIVEWAY – DUSK
A 1965 Ford pick-up creeps along the dirt road to the farmhouse.
BIG JOHN BAKER sits heavily behind the wheel, filling the area up with his massive frame of 6’6, 350 pounds. TWANGY COUNTRY MUSIC pours out of the open windows. He reaches over for the only passenger, an unlabeled bottle of homemade grain alcohol.
BIG JOHN pulls up to a stop in front of the house. He takes a long sloppy pull from the bottle while listening to the TUNE.
EXT. BACK YARD – SAME
With the SOUND of her father’s arrival, COURTNEY’s anxiety overthrows the moment with DUSTY who now frowns at her fear.
You better go. You know how he …
How he what? How he drinks too damn much and hits on ye’?
Stop it, Dusty—he don’t …
O’, he don’t beat on you, huh?
COURTNEY is embarrassed and upset. She can’t lie to the only person that shares her pain and secrets.
You’re gonna end up just like yer mama, girl!
DUSTY’s point leads to a small fenced off grave site across the yard with a white cross stuck in the ground.
(climbs off the swing)
Stop it, Dusty! I can’t take it anymore!
(walks away to the house)
Just go. I’ll see ye’ tomorrow.
I can’t take it no more neither …
(picks up his bat)
… walkin’ five miles homes worried sick about’ya!
INT. HOUSE – SAME
ON FRONT DOOR – BIG JOHN RUMBLES through with bottle in hand and clearly drunk as the screen door RATTLES shut.
ON BACK DOOR – COURTNEY sneaks in quietly, not letting the door slam shut. She turns with a caught expression.
(raspy redneck growl)
What I tell you’ bout that boy?
COURTNEY meekly shuffles to the kitchen sink without making eye contact. She starts doing dishes. BIG JOHN STOMPS to the dinner table in his filthy overalls, pulls out a chair and then STAMPS the bottle down on the table.
COURTNEY jumps slightly and continues washing knowing the rage from her father will come.
(falls into chair)
Them dishes should’a been done. Heat me up somethin’!
COURTNEY dries her hands, moves to the stove and ladles stew into a large bowl.
I had it heatin’ a while ago for ya’, Papa. Did you get the parts we needed for the tractor?
She pulls a plate full of biscuits from the oven. The small talk doesn’t work as she brings the dinner to him clearly afraid.
EXT. BACK YARD – SAME
DUSTY is marching through the corn, angry with bat in hand. He stops at the wood frame holding the scarecrow in place. He gives his hostile eyes towards the BAKER home. In a flash DUSTY unloads with a flurry of SMASHES, easily destroying the SCARECROW. It FALLS.
COURTNEY sets the food down and returns to the sink. She looks through the kitchen window, a confused expression. The cornfield is missing something.
BIG JOHN SLIRPS the stew and takes a bite of a biscuit. A clear flash of anger takes over his face, dropping the spoon in the bowl.
(hits the bottle and wipes his mouth)
Come over here …
Somethin’ wrong, Papa?
I said come here!
COURTNEY with folded arms and lowered eyes slowly steps to the table in submission. In a blur, BIG JOHN YANKS COURTNEY towards him by the arm, almost taking her off the ground! A familiar SCREAM turns to a WHIMPER of fear as he wrenches her close to his enraged face.
(by the hair, put her face close to the bowl)
You call that hot, you stupid little whore!?
COURTNEY knows better than to speak. She can only endure his wrath.
BIG JOHN takes the half eaten biscuit and stuffs it into COURTNEY’s mouth with unreasonable force. Then spoons some stew over her crying face.
I work all goddamned day to come home and eat cold food! Why? So you can be out whoring around with that little fucken nobody, Dusty Shaw!
(lets her go, she stands)
I’m done talken … I’m gonna teach you how ta’ be proper …
(backs up in defense)
No, Papa … please don’t, Papa!
EXT. BACK YARD – SAME
ON KITCHEN WINDOW – The violent CRASHES of DISHES and YELLING can be heard all the way to the corn.
BIG JOHN finishes throwing the dishes. He now looms over the cowering traumatized young girl who is pinned against the counter.
BIG JOHN’s hand comes to his belt buckle as he undoes it, with a slow pull, he removes the belt as COURTNEY shakes and PLEAS! In a large wind-up, his arm comes back down WHIPPING her over the head and back as she tries to protect herself from this animal.
You gonna respect me and my rules!
COURTNEY attempts to get away and take cover, only to be thrown back into the original spot and STRUCK again. COURTNEY SCREAMS out as BIG JOHN’s arm winds up for another lash, out of nowhere, the strong hand of DUSTY catches BIG JOHN’s wrist from behind.
Why dont’cha try hittin’ me like that coward?!
BIG JOHN is shocked and turns to catch the beautiful swing of DUSTY’s bat as it THUDS against JOHN’s ribs! His GROAN indicates some broken ribs as DUSTY pulls back and takes out his leg with a hard SMASH to the knee that sends the YELLING GIANT down with ease.
(stands over John)
How d’ya like that, you piece a shit?!
COURTNEY is in a huddled mass of shock at these events. She can only watch her friend champion her. She remains SILENT as DUSTY takes flight and PUMMELS BIG JOHN’s legs and body!
Didn’t anybody teach you it ain’t right ta’ hit on girls …
(looks at Courtney)
Go getcha things, we’re leavin’.
COURTNEY almost protests but doesn’t. She stands, looks at her father, and runs from the kitchen into a hallway.
COURTNEY rushes to the closet and grabs a bag. She wastes no time in filling it, runs to the dresser and opens a drawer when her movement is arrested by her MOTHER’s PHOTO which is stuck in the corner of the mirror. She reaches over, removing it with a deep breath.
BIG JOHN is on the floor still HEAVING in pain and rage as DUSTY twirls bat in skilled hands walking in a slow taunting circl