INT. LAVON FAMILY LIVING ROOM — NIGHT
SAMMIE, a fleshy 10-year-old child wearing Incredible Hulk Pajamas, rises from the love seat with cordless phone in hand. Absent-mindedly turning the lamp on, Sammie allows his hand to flop to his side. His gaze is drawn beyond the living room, beyond the foyer, to the large oak door.
Lance’s voice continues to be heard through the receiver, though the words are unintelligble.
Sammie: Hey Lance, I have to go, someone’s banging the front door. It’s probably my father drunk again; he loses his keys when he gets like that.
Lance: Yeah, I know. Hey, you want me to call back?
(Sammie glances down to his rottweiler slippers as he ponders the offer.)
Lance: (CONT’D) (Lowers voice) I can— I can make sure you’re all right, if you want me to.
Sammie: Nah, if he knew I was on the phone, he’d kill me dead.
Lance: He’s gonna kill you anyhow. You know . . . my mom, well she . . . my mom said you can come here and stay if he kills you again.
(Another knock CALLS out. Teeth clenched, Sammie’s gaze returns to the door, then back to the tightly gripped telephone receiver. The neighbor’s Golden Retriever BARKS.)
Sammie: (Apologetically) I have to go, bye.
(Hanging up the phone, he races to his bedroom and grabs a thick beige t-shirt and a Star Wars t-shirt, with Anakin Skywalker on it, from the dresser. He folds the beige t-shirt and slips it down the back of his pajamas to pad his behind. The Star Wars t-shirt pads his stomach. He checks the mirror. His stomach is large enough for the protection to go unnoticed.)
Sammie: (Berating) I won’t let you do it! Eat until you get like your mom, you’ll be almost 150 pounds before you’re 11. 150 pounds! I love you too much, son. I’ll kill you myself first.
(The doorbell CHIMES. Flipping the light off, he exits his room and hurries to open the front door.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) (MUMBLING) Cleaned my room, did my homework, no snacks, no sh—
(Sammie’s eyes dart to the kitchen. His teeth clench again.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) (Feigning sleep) I’m coming, father.
Officer Faust: My name is Officer Shannon Faust. I’m looking for Sammie Lavon.
(Sammie stops and exhales. Taking a deep breath, he turns and enters the kitchen. He grabs a stepstool, then stops, and puts it down. Quickly he wipes crumbs from the countertop. Again, picking up the stool, he goes to the front door and places it in front of the door.)
(The doorbell CHIMES.)
Sammie: I don’t think I’m supposed to answer you.
(Sammie climbs to the top of the stool. He looks through the peephole. He sees Officer Faust in uniform.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) You’re a stranger, my father will get mad at me.
Officer Faust: I’m a police officer, it’s all right. You can open the door.
Sammie: My father is away. I really don’t think I should.
Officer Faust: Police officers help people, they’re different than strangers; it’s safe. Besides, I’m here to speak with you about your father. Lavelle Lavon, right?
Sammie: Are you really a real police officer?
Officer Faust: Yes.
(Sammie tilts his head upward, looking beyond the ceiling.)
Sammie: (Whispers) Mom, I wish you were here. What do I do?
(Sammie stands indecisively. He looks through the peephole again. He notes the gun, and the uniform, but doesn’t see a police dog. Sammie looks to the love seat. Three comic books lay there and a stuffed Rottweiler. Each of the comics has a police officer and K-P unit on the cover. He looks through the peephole again.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) (Barely audible) He knows.
(Stepping from the stool, Sammie’s knees weaken. He turns the lock. Slowly, head hanging low, he pulls open the door and steps aside. Officer Faust enters as does JOSEPHINA SHAW, dressed in blue jeans and a sweater. Sammie’s physical unease is clear.)
Josephina Shaw: (Distant, drawn out) Social worker, child services, father, an accident, new home.
(Sammie steadies himself, fighting his lightheadedness.)
Josephina Shaw: (CONT’D) (Progressively softer) Pack, getting late, sorry. Are you okay?
(Sammie shivers and nods as he floats toward his room. Josephina Shaw’s questions are MUMBLED nonsense to him. Her concerned expression ignored as he pulls closed his door.)
(In the middle of his room, his legs buckle. He collapses and stares absently through the open window at the cloud—filled night.)
Sammie: (Sniveling) I didn’t mean to kill him. I wished for him to die, I— I didn’t think— I thought you’d just . . . I wished for my mom, really, really hard. I wished for my mom, God.
(The clouds part. The moon’s rays wash across Sammie’s face. A bird lands on a branch outside the window and CHIRPS its condolences.)
(Sammie watches the bird for several minutes before turning his attention to the framed picture of his mother above his bed.)
Sammie: Where will I go? The policeman, he knows. He knows and he’s going to take me to prison.
(The bird takes flight.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) I’ll run away. I don’t want to go to prison. I’ll sneak out the house and the police officer won’t catch me. I can do it. I have to do it.
(Determined, Sammie stands and hurries to his closet. He sifts through his toys. He pushes aside his junior toolbox and favorite Star Wars t-shirt with Darth Vader on it.)
(He pulls a floral patterned suitcase from the rear of the closet and smiles.)
Sammie: This might be fun. I can pretend I’m a real bum.
(He grabs his mother’s picture from above his bed.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) No more school. No more homework.
(He grabs an over-sized watch from his nightstand and looks at the inscription, ‘Love Dad’.
Sammie: (CONT’D) I can sleep late. I can do what I—
(He CLEARS his throat.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) I can do what I—
(He grabs his throat.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) I can—
(He drops to his knees.)
Sammie: (Mouths) I didn’t mean to kill you, daddy. I am so sorry.
(He falls forward, hunched on all fours, rocking back and forth.)
Sammie: (CONT’D) (Crying) So sorry.
(He buries his face in the crook of his arm; his rocking slows. He sniffles.)
Sammie: I didn’t mean it. (His breathing settles. His rocking stops. He rises and leaves.)
(Josephina Shaw, walking towards Sammie’s room, stops. She watches him cross the hall to his father’s room. )
Josephina Shaw: Do you want help?
Sammie: Pack a few more things.
Josephina Shaw: I’m here if you need me.
(Josephina Shaw glances to Officer Faust.)
(Officer Faust nods his assent.)
(Sammie closes his father’s door behind him. He turns on the nightlamp, then opens the bedside table’s drawer. He pushes aside a bible and bottle of vodka and grabs the gun.)
(He closes the drawer and kneels beside his father’s bed. He raises his arm and puts the gun to his head. He closes his eyes.)
Sammie: (Whispering) I wish.
(Opening his eyes, he inhales. He scans the room to memorize this world. Hand shaking, he presses the muzzle of the gun firmly against his temple.)
(He squeezes the trigger. It holds firm.)
(The door KNOCK startles him. He fumbles and drops the gun.)
(Frantic, he picks up the gun and places it back to his temple, repeatedly trying to squeeze the trigger. He pulls harder with each successive attempt.)
Josephina Shaw: Honey, do you mind if I come in, please?
(Sammie pulls the gun from his face. He studies it, and turns it over in his hands. He reads the word ‘Safety’.)
Josephina Shaw: I’m here to help, Sammie.
(He flicks the lever up. It points to the word ‘Off’. He raises the gun again.)
(The door handle SQUEAKS as Josephina Shaw twists it.)
Josephina Shaw: I’m sure you want to be alone, but I want to help.
(The door is inched open.)
(Sammie’s arm trembles. His finger inches the trigger back slowly.)
Josephina Shaw: (CONT’D) (Shouting) Sammie, no!
(She swings open the door wide and lunges forward.)
Josephina Shaw: (CONT’D) (Shouting) Shannon, hurry!
(The trigger draws nearer the guard. It touches, releasing the firing pin.)
(The hammer strikes the chamber. CLICK.)
Josephina Shaw: (CONT’D) (Frightened) No.
(She dives and tackles Sammie. She knocks the empty gun from his hand, then grabs ahold of him and rocks with him in her arms.)
(He crumples in her arms.)
Josephina Shaw: (CONT’D) No.
Sammie: (Regretful) I’m sorry, but I did it. I did it, I did it! I wished him dead. I didn’t know God heard me and now; now the policeman knows. I won’t be able to be a police officer when I grow up. I won’t get a police dog. He’s gonna take me to prison.
Josephina Shaw: (Consoling) Honey, no, no, it’s not your fault.
Sammie: I won’t get to see my daddy ever again. I’m so sorry. I only wanted him to stop.
(Officer Faust watches from the doorway as the two rock.)
Josephina Shaw: You didn’t cause the death, you can’t wish someone dead. His brakes failed and he was drunk, neither were your fault.
Sammie: But, I also—
Josephina Shaw: It isn’t your fault.
Sammie: But I . . .
Josephina Shaw: Sshhh.
(Officer Faust enters. He puts his arm around both.)
Sammie: (Hopeful) So I don’t have to go to prison?
Josephina Shaw: No, you’re going to go to a loving home, then we’ll find a permanent family who’ll love you even more.
Sammie: And I can still be a police person?
Officer Faust: When you get older, if you stay out of trouble, I’m sure we can arrange that. But, until then, let’s see what we can do about a dog?
Josephina Shaw: Really. Why don’t you hurry and finish packing.
(Sammie skips past Officer Faust to his room. He packs the Star Wars t-shirt with Anakin Skywalker on it, in his suitcase. He glances over his shoulder; the hall is empty. He grabs the other Star Wars t-shirt, this one with Darth Vader on it. He folds it to cover the brake fluid from the severed line, then quickly hides it in the bottom of his suitcase. He closes the suitcase and stands.)
(The neighbor’s Golden Retriever BARKS again.)
(Sammie glances out the window. He notices the cat dashing from the neighbor’s yard. He takes aim at the cat, with his fingers, and fires.)