Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Treatment for Screenplay

By Alan Abrams
All Rights Reserved
August 12, 2010
***ACT ONE***
TERRY Wolfe pulls a stack of about 6 very long 2x4's off a truck and gracefully balances them on his shoulder. He walks to some saw horses and deftly flips them off his shoulder onto the horses, landing in a neat stack with a THWACK.
Terry goes back and loads his shoulder again with more 2x's.
THE OLD MAN and the ARCHITECT arrive, greet Terry. T--wearing ear buds--is surprised and swings around--the 2x's arcing toward the Architect's head. The A has to hastily duck, looking hopelessly awkward--dropping the plans he was carrying. T loses his grip and the studs CLATTER to the ground.
Terry gathers the studs, the Architect gathers his plans; The Old Man is disgusted; he asks T if ROBIN, the owner, has showed up yet. No she hasn't, sir. TOM and the A go inside to inspect the house.
Upstairs, they discover a change in the floor plan and angrily call for Terry, who is acting as a superintendent. The workers pickup the call: Yo, Wolfman! Esse, Lupe! Then they gather around to witness Terry get chewed out, or maybe fired.
Terry goes in, distraught, and explains the plans had a bust, and if the master bath was framed per plan, there would not be sufficient headroom for the stairs. So he relocated the bathroom. The architect protests: this is impossible, this has been checked and double checked. We don't make bushleague mistakes like that...
Just as it appears Terry will get the axe, ROBIN, the owner walks in. She greets the Architect and TOM formally, but when she sees Terry she beams, goes over and air kisses him.
TOM explains that they were talking about the location of the bathroom. He says they will make it right. Meanwhile the A is studying the plans--then takes a tape measure and measures various conditions.
Robin intervenes and explains that Terry discovered the bust, and proposed the solution to her. "I loooove what Terry did. It's where I wanted the bathroom in the first place." TOM's face shows conflicted emotions.
The PLUMBER chimes in that the change actually saved money. The frazzled Architect admits he blew it.
TOM protests that the plans will need to be revised before inspection. The A says it will take a week to redraft and refile. TOM is now livid. Terry explains that the inspector came earlier this morning. "He had no problem with the change." T pulls the green sticker out of his pocket. Grudgingly, TOM thanks T for working it out.
TERRY is perusing the aisles looking for something for lunch. He encounters LISA, who is stocking the shelves. She criticizes his choices for lunch (she is vegan and a nutrition freak).
They discuss their jobs--Terry's office is nearby; Lisa volunteers at the Coop to get a discount, and has a massage therapy practice. She gives Terry her card.
Finally, she persuades T to try a tofu burger. He leaves the store and takes a bite of the sandwich, makes a face, and tosses in a trash can.
The Old Man is frustrated with Terry. Terry shows great promise--he's great with owners, smart, and reasonably skillful. But the quality of his work is erratic, and he shows up late way too often.
Terry argues that he stays late, even putting in extra time he doesn't report, but The Old Man goes on how "the rest of the fucking world of construction starts at 7am, and you will too, if you want this fucking job."
Then he orders Terry to pick up some sheetrock (Terry had undersetimated how much was needed) and deliver it to the NEW HOME SITE. Terry bitches about having to use his own truck, which needs new shocks and tires, and The Old Man almost loses it, telling Terry to take responsibility for his bone headed mistake, or to "pack your fucking tools in your precious fucking truck and and don't come back."
At the lumber yard, Terry, speaking conversational Spanish, orders the fork lift operator to load his battered pickup truck with 12' long sheetrock, until the bed is setting on the axles. The lift operator protests, but Terry insists. Loaded to the max, Terry drives away, truck wallowing in the ruts.
Now he's rolling up a wide urban avenue, and has to stop short. His drink spills in his lap, and a rental DVD falls from the sun visor. He realizes it's overdue, and makes an abrupt U-turn, the overloaded truck pitching dangerously.
He then hastily parks in front of the:
(SAVE ME-kd lang)
Terry greets DONNA--a gorgeous brown-skinned woman of interdeterminate race, calling her Don. Donna acts offended; we are not sure how serious she is.
They discuss an Eastwood flick; Donna has reserved a disc for Terry. She bends to reach it and Terry cannot help leering down her top. Donna notices, saying "Quit drooling on the counter, creep."
Terry, undeterred, hits on her in a mild way. Donna begs off; she is "sorta seeing someone."
She then asks about CORTNEY, T's estranged wife. T explains that they are completely incompatible, driving one another to excessive drinking and fighting.
Terry then proudly mentions his daughter, JUNIPER. Donna refers back to their high school days, when T was a promising student.
Terry recalls how he persuaded Cortney, who wanted an abortion, to have the baby--and now how happy he is to be Juniper's father.
Donna makes polite inquiry on Juniper's progress, then talks about her own niece--and Terry spaces out to a...
Terry (younger, in neater hair, and shaved face) walks down a high school hallway. A young woman--Cortney--catches up with him.
They discuss their plans for college; T has a scholarship at the local state school; C's going to a small school in New England. All the while she is flirtacious.
INSERT A REWRITE OF THE SCENE IN THE PARK...with Cortney instead of Cindy...and instead of being interrupted, they make love at the edge of the creek.
Donna notices that Terry is not listening. She warns him that the METER MAID is approaching his truck and he dashes out the door.
Terry confronts the MM--a weary, portly, elderly woman--but she has already started to write a ticket--which therefore must be issued. His truck, with the load hanging out the back, takes up nearly two spaces. He negotiates a single fine, instead of fines for both meters. She is reluctant until Terry gives her that same goofy smile--and she melts. Terry expresses his gratitude, and heads off to:
Terry pulls up at the site. CARLOS, the chiroquero (sheetrock sub) is in his ragged out Corolla, ready to leave the site. Terry asks if C can help unload--C replies he's waited too long already, and has to pay his guys for fokking nothing.
C suggests T come back in the morning when his own guys can help--T considers it, but says he'll catch hell if he's not in the office first thing.
There are two HELPERS in the car. As C continues to dump on T, the HELPER in the back seat pulls a sixpack of Dos Equis from cooler and Carlos roars away.
He backs his truck up to the door, and begins unloading one board at a time. But it begins to rain, and he unloads the rest two sheets at a time.
When he's finished--and thoroughly soaked--he gets back in the truck and tries to leave--but the tires slip in the wet mud. He floors it, and the truck starts to move, slinging mud across the front of the house. He curses and drives away.
On his way home, he picks up some beer, some doritos, and some bean dip.
Terry lives in the basement of a five-unit apartment house--it's a dingy studio apartment with low ceilings--you can practically smell the mildew. Still, it is neat.
His back is hurting and he takes some aspirin, and takes a steaming hot shower.
Then he sets up the beer and chips on wooden cable spool that serves as the coffee table, and puts on the Eastwood flick--UNFORGIVEN.
We see Terry, eyelids heavy, with 5 empty beer cans on the table, and one in his hand. Hackman is kicking the bejeezus out of Eastwood...and Terry passes out.
It's morning. Terry stirs, and sets down the half empty can. As he reaches, his back pops out and he cringes.
He struggles to get his footing, but cannot stand. So he slithers on the floor to the bathroom, and struggles into the tub to relieve himself. Then, laying in the tub, he showers again.
Finally he can stand. He calls The Old Man to excuse him from work. TOM is pissed, and concerned that T will file a workers comp claim. T assures him he won't, that he just needs a day to recover.
T, in agony, remember's Lisa's card. He calls her and makes an appointment for a massage. She schedules him for 5pm
T then finds some Tylenol 3 and gobbles the last two tabs, and drinks the last beer. He turns back on Unforgiven and settles down to watch again.
Terry has passed out. When he awakes, it is already late for his massage appointment.
***ACT TWO***
Terry--still in pain, not to mention, mildly blitzed--is shocked and embarrassed at the time. He gimps to the truck, and winces with pain as he works the clutch.
He arrives at the address Lisa gave him--a modest bungalow on a tree lined street. The walk runs along the neighbor's chain link he passes along the fence, the neighbor's huge, vicious dog runs up, barking furiously. It rears up on the fence and snaps at Terry, who lurches away.
Terry pauses and speaks calmly and affectionately to the dog. He offers his hand for the dog to sniff. The dog snaps at it. Terry speaks even more soothingly, and offers his hand again. This time the dog makes a high pitched noise and licks his hand.
Terry hobbles up the front porch steps, and works his way around children's paraphenalia, and knocks. A man in business dress and loosened tie answers. A woman with an infant in arms can be seen beyond.
Terry assumes he's at the wrong house and apologizes...the man explains that Lisa lives in his basement apartment and directs Terry around the side. "Watch out for the dog; he's dangerous," he warns.
Lisa's entrance is in the back, under a small sundeck. He walks down some steps to a well surrounded by a brick wall. A cat, poised in a sunny spot on the wall, observes Terry walking down the steps.
Just as he raises his knuckles to knock, Lisa opens the door and steps out. She is pissed that he is late. "I should charge you for a no-show." Terry apologizes profusely, almost debasing himself. She is unmoved.
Finally, he give her the smile. She can't help not smiling back. Noticing his awkward posture, she orders him to turn around.
She untucks his shirt and placing one hand on his shoulder, slides her other hand under the shirt, up and down his back. He winces. "Your sacro's really in spasm, I can feel the heat," she reports. "You better come in."
As they go in the door, the cat, which had nonchalantly taken all that in, scootches in between their legs.
Lisa walks Terry through her apartment. They pass through a funky but tidy and bright kitchen, with a small table with two chairs--then through her bedroom--decorated with pillows, candles, and draped fabrics.
Beyond is the massage room--just large enough to walk around the massage table. On the wall at the head of the table is a print of Lakshmi and Vishnu, carried on the back of Garuda.
Lisa tells Terry to undress and lie on his back. "You can keep your shorts on if you wish. (he does) Call me when you're ready."
When she returns, she plays a recording of ragas by Akbar Ali Khan. Terry admires Lisa's legs, visible through her gauzy pants when the light is behind her. She begins the massage. Terry looks up and notes the silhouette of her breasts, and the hair under her arms.
Lisa comments on Terry's collar bone--broken some time ago, while bicycling (while his driver's license was suspended)--the bone had not set properly. T considers it a deformity. "You have a beautiful body," says L. T returns the compliment.
Lisa lectures Terry on all manner of health issues--diet, staying hydrated, stretching, etc, while Terry stares at the picture, imagining himself with...Lakshmi?..Lisa? The music--amzingly sensual--intensifies...T spaces out and has a...
INSERT A REWRITE OF THE SCENE IN THE PARK...with Cortney instead of Cindy...and instead of being interrupted, they make love at the edge of the creek.  No cops in this version.

(see previous post: "Disturbance, Updated)

The massage is completed; Lisa leaves the room. Terry dresses--clearly the pain is relieved--and finds L in the kitchen. She offers him water and invites him to sit at the little table.
They sit down together. Lisa continues talking about diet. Terry should cut back on sodium. He needs to strengthen his core muscles, and stretch before exertion.
As she lectures, the cat jumps into Terry's lap. T strokes its fur, and it nestles comfortably into his crotch. Lisa notices; Terry gives her the goofy smile.
Lisa stops talking, and out of the blue, asks if she can kiss him. T is speechless, and L leans across the table and kisses him. T is still surprised, and somewhat impassive.
Lisa kisses him again, and this time, T responds. Things get warmer. But as T shifts to get closer, the cat leaps away with a thump.
At that sound, Lisa freezes up. "You have to go now," she tells him, without explanation. Terry sputters, stunned, apologetic. Becoming tense, she insists he leave immediately.
Terry is embarassed and offers to pay her. Lisa cuts him off: "JUST...GO!" Terry stands and accidently knocks his chair over. Lisa sobs loudly. Terry goes out the door.
As Terry passes from under the deck, he sees the homeowner and his wife leaning over the edge...he calls up to them, "Nothing happened..NOTHING!." As he passes along the fence, the dog lunges at him, barking continues to bark, even as he gets into his truck.
Terry stops in to rent another DVD. He hits on Donna again, who repeats that she's "sorta seeing someone." While in the aisle, he overhears Donna on the phone arranging a date--he is reassured that she is not just blowing him off.
Then, a reprise of the meter maid.
The Old Man hands Terry a letter that came to him C/O the office. To Terry's surprise, it's from Lisa, apologizing for her abrupt behavior, and proposing they go out for dinner--to an Indian restaurant that features vegetarian fare. It closes with the salutation, "Namaste."
Terry is on the couch watching an Orioles game. His mom is doing his laundry.
Mom asks Terry if he can reconcile with Cortney--no way. She misses Juniper, and gazes at her photo on a wall hung with family portraits. Terry glances up at a photo of his dad, and goes into a:
18. FLASHBACK: Terry and his father
Terry and Dad are a grungy pub. The waitress brings two beers [refers back to first flashback]. Dad is wearing a battered tweed jacket with leather elbow patches.
They discuss Terry's situation with Cortney--Dad bluntly urges Terry to let Cortney go ahead with an abortion. The conversation gets nasty.
Mom picks up Terry's beer can and wiggles it. "Can I bring you another, darling?" "Yeah, ma," he replies distractedly.
Mom pleads with Terry to bring Juniper to visit. Then she reminds him that he promised to repair the toilet in her basement. With his annoyance, Terry shows an immature side of his personality.
Terry calls Lisa--a tube of construction adhesive burst on the seat of his truck--he cannot pick her up for their date. Lisa offers to pick him up, and reminds him to be on time.
Terry and Cortney are in the back seat of a car parked in the woods. They are making out like crazy, steaming up the windows.
Cortney abruptly pulls away, red faced, panting. Terry protests, "It's OK, I brought a rubber this time."
Cortney starts to weep. "It's too late."
They discuss her pregnancy. Cortney wants to end it. She does not want to be a mother; it will wreck their educations. Terry says he'll stand by her. "You'll make a great mom," he tells her.
They debate the issue on many levels, individual, political, and moral. Terry makes no headway, until he gives Cortney the goofiest smile. Cortney starts to melt and asks, "But Terry, do you really love me?" He assures her that he does, but we are not convinced.

Terry gets out of the shower and dresses. He pulls his father's tweed jacket from the closet. Putting it on, he has another...
22. FLASHBACK: Terry, Dad, and baby juniper
Dad is in a hospice bed, pale and weak. He gestures and Terry places Juniper on his chest. The child is contented and snuggles comfortably.
Dad seems revived. He is reconciled with Terry; in his crude way, he gives Terry a final blessing.
Terry notices the time, and hurriedly stuffs his sunglasses, wallet and cell phone into the jacket pocket, and dashes out.
He observes an ancient Mercedes station wagon pull up in front, and struggle to parallel park. Terry approaches the car--glare on the window prevents him from seeing the driver.
Finally the car stops, two feet from the curb. The window rolls down--it's Lisa.
Terry gets in. Lisa greets him with a long deep kiss. Her skirt hikes way up and Terry is embarrassed. Lisa suddenly breaks off the kiss: "We're going to miss the early bird."
T comments on the car. L has named it Steely. She explains that it was a gift from an elderly client...part of her practice is geriatric--hauling a portable table to the patient's home. Mr Steel willed the car to her, so it would be easier for L to haul her table around.
It's warm, and Lisa does not like the AC. Terry takes off his jacket and carefully places it in the back seat. They park near the restaurant. [Lisa backs over the curb, etc]
They walk into the sun. Lisa puts on a huge pair of sunglasses, woefully out of fashion. Terry gropes for his shades, but they are in the jacket.
It's dark inside--before T's eyes recover from the sun, he almost collides with a waiter carrying a full tray. The waiter pirouettes, narrowly avoiding catastrophe. He sees Lisa across the room, chucklng at his clumsiness.
They dine. Lisa describes the esoteric dishes. Terry notices a poster on the wall, similar to the one in L's massage room. Lisa discusses the Hindu pantheon, and T starts conflating the names of foods and gods.
Lisa excuses herself. When she returns from the restroom, we see her for the first time with her hair down--although she still seems severe and somewhat frumpy, the change is vivid, and the intent is clear.
[Khan's raga plays again]
They sit together, and hold hands. L runs her hand up and down Terry's arm. T looks up at the poster of Vishnu and Lakshmi. They gaze into one another's eyes. Then the same waiter T almost bowled over arrives with the check.
Lisa reaches for the check, but T stops her hand and takes the check. Then he gropes for his wallet--and realizes he left it in the car.
Embarrassed, he askes L for the carkey, and dashes out of the restaurant.
Terry reaches the car. As he opens the door he hears his cell phone ring. The call is from Cortney. Both sides of the conversation can be heard.
C wants to know where the support payment is. She is angry and her language is full of invective. The payment is way overdue, and he had promised todrop it off days ago. She demands he deliver it immediately, and makes serious threats--including having his wages garnished--if he does not bring her the check before 6:00 pm this evening.
Terry protests, the bank is already closed, he's got the check and will drop it off in the morning, etc; she is adamant, clearly serious about her threats. It's twenty til 6; she lives just a few blocks away.
Terry climbs behind the wheel and takes off. He tries to call the restaurant to get word to Lisa that he'll be back in a few minutes--but still confusing foods and gods--gets the name boggled up, and the information clerk cannot find the number.
Cortney is on the front stoop; Juniper, about 5 YO, is is leaning sideways, clinging to C's belt. When J sees Terry, she squeals and races down the walk toward him. T hoists her up on his shoulders.
T hands over the check. C reminds T he had promised earlier to take J for ice cream, to celebrate starting kindergarten. J is giidy at the prospect-she wants "Rocky road, wocky woad, wockity toad..."
T lamely tries to beg off, but caves in. T & J get into...
They discuss ice cream; more permutations of wocky woad. T tells J he must first drop her off at his mom's and return the car. Then he can return and take her for ice cream.
J wants an explanation. T confesses that he made some mistakes in judgement--some bad decisions.
J asks if she herself was a bad decision. "Where did you get that idea," he asks her. "Mom said so..."
Terry reassures Juniper--he's made many bad decisions, but she is the happiest thing in his life. They reach...
Mom is ecstatic to see Juniper. But she hounds Terry about the toilet--now, the shutoff handle broke off, and the valve is leaking into a bucket which has to be emptied every hour.
Terry can't find the tool box--Mom reminds him he made off with it afer Dad died. He rummages through Steely's trunk and finds a rusty pair of pliers, and after injuring his hand and ruining his shirt and pants, T stops the leak. He returns to...
Terry pulls up and parks in front of the restaurant. He dashes and finds the waiter. He tells T that Lisa paid the check and left in a cab.
Terry goes outside and the police have arrived. Terry is arrested for car theft. The waiter appears, adding that T stiffed L for the check. As T is cuffed and escorted to the squad car, the cop notes that he parked in a handicap space, which is going to cost him $250, on top of whatever else he faces.
Terry walks in and Donna gives him the hairy eyeball. She produces a clipping of an article in the paper, titled "A Bad First Impression."
Terry reads the article, which concludes with a quote from the defense attorney: "Mr Wolfe is a very nice man who made some bad decisions."
Donna asks if it's true. T recaps the highlights of the story and the aftermath. The charge was reduced to unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Cortney was persuaded to drop a motion to restrict visitation.
Also, T decided to go back to school. The Old Man will pay for drafting classes, if he passes. And if he does well, maybe he'll go on to study architecture.
Then he hits on Donna one more time. D flashes a diamond ring. T congratulates her, and asks who is the lucky guy.
D reveals that she is marrying another woman. T is initially surprised--"I knew my chances were slim, but I never realized how slim..." Donna replies, she could go for T, if she weren't the way she is.
They hug. T tells D, with her in his arms, he wishes he were a woman. D shoves him away in mock anger. Then she says, "Now get your sorry ass out of my shop before I slug you!"
T tells her he loves her. D replies she loves him too. Then D warns T that the meter maid is walking toward his truck.
T rushes out, and D watches through the store window, as a new meter maid approaches T. The new MM is comely and shapely. We cannot hear them, but we see Terry gesticulate, and MM hand him a ticket. Then they laugh. They chatter away, both gesticulating, and we see them exchange numbers into their cell phones. MM walks away, smiling and waving to T, who stands there waving back.
The camera recedes and picks up D, who turns from the window and walks back to her counter, with a smile on her face.
ALT ENDING: Terry visits the video store with very happy Juniper, who has a big sloppy ice cream...

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