Hole 12 06-2011
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Hole 12 06-2011 Document Transcript

  • 1. HOLE IN THE HEAD: A LIFE REVEALED by Wilbert Smith & Ken Davis Screenplay Adaptation of the Book "Hole in the Head: A Life Revealed" by Wilbert Smith Ph.D.
  • 2. HOLE IN THE HEAD: A LIFE REVEALEDFADE IN:EXT. SMITH HOME - NIGHTCAMERA OPENS on a TWO LEVEL sprawling house with a CIRCULARdriveway - on which are PARKED TWO late model CARS. On theright side of the home is PARKED a LARGE MOTOR HOME.INT. SMITH UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - NIGHTThe room is well lived in, but leading-edge as far as moderncreature comforts are concerned. WILBERT SMITH, black,mid-fifties is sound asleep at 2 oclock in the morning,next to his wife SUSAN, white, mid-to-late forties. ADIFFERENT CAMERA ANGLE reveals a RADIO CLOCK which indicatesthe TIME.Wilberts SMART PHONE begins a familiar and distinctive RINGTONE -- which startles Wilbert and Susan from their sleep:Wilbert ANSWERS his PHONE. WILBERT Vertus, whats wrong?INT. /EXT. WILBERT DRIVES HIS LATE MODEL CAR - NIGHTThere is a look of concern on his face as Wilbert SPEEDSalong in PASADENA on near empty streets.EXT. VERTUS CONDO BUILDING - NIGHTWilbert PARKS his car with some sense of urgency, gets outof the car, then BOUNDS up the STAIRS to VERTUS SECONDFLOOR condo.INT. VERTUS BATHROOM - NIGHTWilbert towers over VERTUS, a black man in his mid-80s,whostands at the BASIN. The older gentleman stares into theWALL MIRROR, while using a PAIR of TWEEZERS as a pointingdevice to indicate a HOLE in his (Vertus) skull about theLENGTH and WIDTH of a TOOTHPICK. The protrusion is in theright frontal portion of Vertus scalp.
  • 3. 2. VERTUS (agitated) A piece of my skull has cracked. I have a hole in my head. My skull is breaking apart. CUT TO:EXT. PASADENA HOSPITAL - NIGHTTo ESTABLISH it is the SAME NIGHT.INT. EMERGENCY WAITING ROOM - NIGHTWilbert sits with an ARM draped around Vertus SHOULDER,amid a very full room, filled with PEOPLE awaiting emergencycare, many of them HISPANIC.START TITLES HERE. Include: BASED ON A TRUE STORYA small HISPANIC BOY, about 5-years old, plays with a TOY ofsome sort at the foot of Vertus, who wears a BLACK BEANIE.The boys HISPANIC MOTHER pays as little attention to herson as possible. Vertus gives the child a WARM SMILErealizing the kid is paying particular ATTENTION to him.Vertus REACHES into his coat pocket and comes out with aTOOTSIE POP. As the young boys eyes go PING - Vertus looksto the boys mother who NODS her approval; he HANDS thetootsie pop to the young boy, who quickly UNWRAPS thetootsie pop and puts it in his mouth.The WALL CLOCK reads: 2:45 A.M.INT. ER ADMISSION COUNTER - NIGHTThe ADMISSION CLERK sits behind a counter FILLED with STACKSof PAPERWORK. She is middle-aged and white. A COUPLE ofother STAFF are visible in the b.g. busying themselves withvarious and sundry tasks. ADMISSION NURSE Vertus Hardiman...ADMISSION NURSE POVShe SEES Wilbert RISE on cue and COME to the counter. ADMISSION NURSE Whats going on, Mister Hardiman?
  • 4. 3. WILBERT Actually, Im not Mr. Hardiman, hes sitting over there... Crazy as this may sound, his skull is breaking apart.The admission nurse does not even bat an eye; evidentlyshes seen and heard it all. ADMISSION NURSE (writing on a CHART) Was there a fall? Was he attacked? How did it happen? WILBERT Believe me, its a very long story. (beat) Is there anyway he can see a doctor right away? ADMISSION NURSE Is his injury life threatening? WILBERT Hes not about to kill over, if thats what you mean. ADMISSION NURSE (a beat) Hell have to wait his turn just like everyone else who hasnt got a life threatening condition...Wilbert is left standing alone at the counter as theadmission nurse steps behind a PARTITION to her right andOUT OF FRAME.Wilberts EXHALE is quite demonstrable.HOLD ON WILBERTINT. EMERGENCY ADMISSIONS - NEARLY TWO HOURS LATER - NIGHTVertus and Wilbert WAIT patiently in a room that is nowlargely empty. The small boy and his mother are long gone.Vertus REACHES into his pocket and comes out with anothertootsie pop, which he offers to Wilbert, who SHAKES it off.The WALL CLOCK reads: 4:30 a.m.
  • 5. 4.INT. ER ADMISSION COUNTER - NIGHTWilbert STANDS at the counter just as the admission nurseSTEPS BACK INTO FRAME from behind the partition - a largeCLIP BOARD in HAND: ADMISSION NURSE Bring your father on back. WILBERT (cotto) Hes not my father, just a close family friend. ADMISSION NURSE Whatever.Wilbert beckons to Vertus, who is immediately on his feetand APPROACHING the admission desk counter.The admission nurse BUZZES them inside through a DOOR justleft of the counter. Vertus and Wilbert DISAPPEAR inside.INT. ER EVALUATION ROOM - NIGHTVertus sits on the EXAMINATION TABLE, looking somewhatfrail.Wilbert stands a few feet away in the small room. WILBERT Are you feeling any discomfort? VERTUS Im not feeling any pain... But seems like every time my heart beats I can hear a cracking sound in the top of my head. (a beat) Wilbert, Im sorry to get you out of bed so late. WILBERT Dont worry about me, Im cool, straight. Lets just worry about getting you fixed.The DOOR OPENS and DR. TROY enters the ROOM. He is a youngpreppy looking white guy in his early thirties. DR. TROY Hi, Im Dr. Troy...
  • 6. 5.Dr. Troy and Wilbert exchange a hand shake.Dr. Troy moves to the small SINK a mere swivel away andWASHES his HANDS, then PUTS ON a PAIR of LATEX GLOVES.He moves to Vertus who looks on anxiously. DR. TROY (continuing) (Are) you doing all right, Mr. Hardiman?Vertus NODS in the affirmative.Dr. Troy takes Vertus head in his hands and begins to verygentle probe the older mans scalp. CUT TO:EXT. WILBERTS ALLSTATE OFFICE - DAYTo ESTABLISH its later that same morning.INT. WILBERTS INNER OFFICE - DAYWilbert sits in his leather CHAIR behind his rather plushDESK leaning back catching a POWER NAP. Hes got on the samecasual attire he had on to take Vertus to emergency.The CONNECTING DOOR OPENS and Susan STEPS inside. The motionis just enough to AWAKEN Wilbert; he SITS UP TALL. SUSAN (shakes head) Honey, how long do you think you can keep this up? WILBERT (beat) Im okay... really.Susan CLOSES the connecting door and comes closer toWilbert. SUSAN (with a push) The Regional Office is threatening to put us on probation if things dont pick up around here. Theyre very serious this time, Wilbert.
  • 7. 6. WILBERT Their bark is worse than their bite. Were still outperforming 70% of the other offices in this state. Theyve been trying to get this business away from us for years by putting target numbers so far out of reach. Theyd like nothing better than to pay us thirty cents on the dollar and have us ride off into the sunset. Those greedy... (voice trails off) Come here...Susan steps closer to Wilbert and gently sits in his lap,which he has made available to her. A PHOTO of SUSAN isprominently DISPLAYED on the desk. SUSAN Oh, Mr. Smith... What will your wife say?Susan gently KISSES her husband: WILBERT Everything will be fine. I dont want you worrying... (finally) What I am doing for Vertus I feel compelled to do... Someone has to tell his story.Wilberts PHONE begins to RING. Its Vertus RING TONE yetagain. CUT TO:EXT. USC COUNTY GENERAL - SEVERAL WEEKS LATER - DAYWilbert DRIVES his CAR into the CROWDED PARKING AREA, withVertus in the passenger seat: VERTUS (O.S.) Big General. I spent 40 years of my life here; never missed a day of work. And I can prove that.INT. HALLWAY ADJOINING IMAGING SERVICES - DAYThe SIGN on the DOOR reads IMAGING SERVICES.
  • 8. 7.INT. IMAGING SERVICES ROOM - DAYVertus, who lays PRONE, is being ENGULFED by the IMAGINGMACHINE as TWO ATTENDANTS look on from the side of theimpressive machinery.INT. ONCOLOGY ROOM - DAYTWO DOCTORS, one FEMALE and one MALE, stand crowded around aLAP TOP COMPUTER with DR. AFRAM, a man in his early fifties,probably of MIDDLE EASTERN extract. LARGE PHOTOS are beingDISPLAYED of Vertus DISINTEGRATING SKULL. The photos arequite GRAPHIC and DISTURBING. There are about SEVEN photosranging from the oldest to the most recent one taken.INT. MENS REST ROOM - MOMENTS LATER - DAYDr. Afram enters the mens room.INT. MENS ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe male doctor RELIEVES himself at a URINAL as Dr. Aframgoes to the URINAL next to him - and begins RELIEVINGhimself as well. DR. AFRAM Ive seen conditions that were just as bad - but the person wasnt walking around; they were in the morgue.INT. HALLWAY ADJOINING IMAGING SERVICES - DAYDr. Afram slowing strolls with Wilbert down the busyhallway, where SEVERAL CLINICIANS move to and fro, here andthere, to whereabouts unknown. The two come to a STOP. DR. AFRAM Frankly, I dont believe its the hole in Mr. Hardimans head that is the most crucial issue... WILBERT (taken aback) What are you saying, Dr. Afram? The man has a hole in his head but thats not the most crucial issue?
  • 9. 8. DR. AFRAM Weve confirmed a tumor resting dangerously close to his brain. (dramatic pause) Im just going to get right to it: there is a spot on Vertus liver that has us even more concerned than the brain tumor; bad news all the way around. WILBERT How bad is it? DR. AFRAM We consider his condition terminal. WILBERT (measures that, shaking head) How long has he got? DR. AFRAM Probably less than a year. (a beat) Theres nothing else we can do for him, other than keep him comfortable - a regiment of antibiotics perhaps. Its not as though he can be put through radiation treatment. (finally) This means a drastic change for Mr. Hardiman in terms of his independence. I dont think he should continue to drive... CUT TO:INT. WILBERT DRIVES HIS LATE MODEL CAR - DAYLater that day, Wilbert drives up LAKE AVENUE in Pasadenaheading north -- with Vertus in the passenger SEAT. Vertushas on his customary black beanie.INT. /EXT. WILBERTS CAR AT STOP LIGHT - DAYAmong the SEVERAL PEOPLE who cross on the GREEN LIGHT isthat same Hispanic boy and his mother who were in theemergency room at the hospital; she PULLS the boy along by
  • 10. 9.the HAND. The boy looks up to SEE Vertus in the passengerseat of Wilberts car. VERTUS Youve been pretty quiet, young man. (two beats) No need to get quiet on me... I know that Im dying, Wilbert. (alas) Im thinking of having Vincent move in with me. You know, to help out. Whats your opinion of Vincent?The LIGHT CHANGES and they CONTINUE their journey during theensuing dialog. WILBERT Vincent is a very good man; an honest man. I like him... (beat) I wrote policies for Vincent and his daughter. VERTUS I forgot to tell you I made a bid on that downstairs condo in my building. I cant keep going up and down those stairs, you know. WILBERT I know. VERTUS Im due to close escrow in the morning. (beat) This isnt the kind of thing I want Vincent involved in. WILBERT What time do you need me, Vertus? Lets cut to the chase.Vertus smiles; so does Wilbert. WILBERT Do you ever have any bitterness about what was done to you?
  • 11. 10. VERTUS (to no one in particular) "What is Man that Thou are mindful of him?" WILBERT (measures that) Shakespeare? VERTUS The Holy Scriptures... (beat) "What is Man that Thou are mindful of him?" The passage goes on to ask, "And the Son of Man that You visit Him?"INT. WILBERTS CAR - MINUTES LATER - DAYHaving dropped off Vertus, Wilbert drives up the HILLtowards his home. LALAH HATHAWAY sings on his amazing SOUNDSYSTEM, backed up by KIRK WAYLUM; the SONG is "BECAUSEYOURE MINE."EXT. SMITH HOME - MOMENTS LATER - DAYWilbert pulls his car into the circular driveway and SHUTSDOWN the ENGINE. Now there is only SILENCE.Soon he begins to cry, breaking down before managing toCOLLECT his EMOTIONS. CUT TO:EXT. EL TORITO GRILL VAN NUYS - NIGHTTo ESTABLISH it is NIGHT.INT. /EXT. SUSANS CAR - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTSusan PULLS into the parking lot of El Torito Grill, asWilbert sits next to her in the passenger seat his headRESTING on the HEADREST.
  • 12. 11.EXT. SUSANS CAR - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTSusan PARKS the car; they get out and HEAD for the ENTRANCEto the establishment.INT. EL TORITO GRILL - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTANGLE on Susan and Wilbert amid a SEA OF PATRONS waiting tobe seated, or already EATING, going in and out of RESTROOMS,ENTERING or EXITING the establishment. They approach theHOSTESS, a black GIRL in her late teens, standing alongsideof a SECOND HOSTESS, Hispanic, also in her late teens.In the b.g. WE can HEAR and SEE partially that KARAOKE ishappening in the LOUNGE: some older WHITE GUY in butcheringSINATRAS "FLY ME TO THE MOON" arrangement.INT. DINING TABLE - MOMENTS LATER - NIGHTThe Hispanic girl LEADS Susan and Wilbert to the table wherethey are SEATED and HANDED their MENUS. CUT TO:INT. VERTUS BATHROOM - NIGHTVertus is in his bathrobe, standing at the MIRROR of thetiny bathroom - complete with a TRAY of medical supplies andthe like - and which is also FILLED with BOXES inanticipation of his move to the first floor condo. The dooris closed, and Vertus painstakingly CLEANSES the opening inhis HEAD with a damp square of gauze. The wound has nowgrown to one centimeters wide by one centimeters long.INT. SMALL HALLWAY UPSTAIRS CONDO - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTThe hallway too is cluttered with overflowing boxes. In theb.g. WE observe much of the packing has been done. VINCENT,black mid-60s, MOVES INTO FRAME from the adjoining livingroom, hes got in HAND several DEPRESSION GLASSWARE PIECES.He TAPS on the bathroom door. VERTUS (O.S.) Yes. VINCENT Does this glassware have to be wrapped?
  • 13. 12.INT. VERTUS BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTVertus STOPS tending his wound, slightly annoyed. VERTUS (through the door) Of course, Vincent. Thats "depression glass." Each of those pieces is worth several hundred dollars... (winces as he removes a tiny bit of scull with the tweezers)Vertus LEANS his HEAD FORWARD bending to the SINK - andCLEAR LIQUID POURS from the wound into the sink. VINCENT (O.S.) (through the door) Youre just moving downstairs, Vertus... VERTUS (cotto) I KNOW where Im moving...INT. KARAOKE LOUNGE - NIGHTSusan and Wilbert are SEATED in the crowed lounge as theyLISTEN to VEL OMARR deliver a pitch perfect rendition of SAMCOOKES "A CHANGE IS GONNA COME." CUT TO:EXT. SMITH BALCONY - LATER - NIGHTWilbert, a DRINK in HAND, stands on his balcony looking outinto the loveliness of the VIEW. He CAN see DOWNTOWN LOSANGELES glimmering in the b.g. WILBERT (to no one in particular) "What is man that Thou are mindful of him?" SUSAN (O.S.) Did you say something, Wilbert?Wilbert DRAINS the content of his GLASS.
  • 14. 13. DISSOLVE:EXT. FIRST AME CHURCH - 1986 - SEPIA COLOR TONE - NIGHTWE FLASHBACK TO 1986.INSERT:PASADENA 1986 is SUPERIMPOSED on the SCREEN.INT. CHOIR STAND - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTThe CHOIR consists of about TWENTY CHOIR MEMBERS - includingthe PIANIST and the CHOIR DIRECTOR, who is an attractiveWOMAN of about 30 years old. Most of the members are black,with a couple of white choir members sprinkled in for goodmeasure. We find the choir singing the gospel song, "MAKE AJOYFUL NOISE." They rhythmically SWAY side-to-sideWE SEE a much younger Vertus standing to the left of a muchyounger Wilbert. Vertus wears a very distinct black WIG;Wilberts hair is jet black, as is his mustache.WE HEAR that Vertus is more than slightly off pitch, and WESEE that he is being challenged as far as swaying in concertwith the remainder of choir members. CHOIR DIRECTOR Hold it, hold it, hold it. (beat) Mr. Hardiman... Youre falling behind again. Try to keep up. (playful) Just because youre the treasurer doesnt mean you get to do your own thing.The choir director CUES the pianist: CHOIR DIRECTOR Tenors, we are here: (singing) "...Make a joyful noise, to the Lord..."BACK TO PRESENT DAY
  • 15. 14.EXT. SMITH BALCONY - NIGHTWilbert grunts thoughtfully after confirming the contents ofhis glass are indeed gone, turns and OPENS the sliding glassdoor and GOES inside.It is nearly DAY BREAK.INT. SMITH BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTWE SEE Susan has fallen off asleep as Wilbert crossesthrough the room and exits into the adjoining hallway,carefully CLOSING the bedroom door behind him.INT. WILBERTS HOME OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER - NIGHTWilbert sits at his expansive desk watching FOOTAGE on hisWIDE-SCREEN of VERTUS, footage apparently filmed severalweeks earlier. This time Vertus dons a RED beanie.WILBERTS POV VERTUS (ON WIDESCREEN) This isnt really MY story... its OUR story. Because it could not have been told - without him. (near tears) WILBERT (ON WIDESCREEN) I met Vertus in a church choir. He couldnt really carry a tune... because sometimes I would look to him and I would sing directly into his ear to get him on - pitch.Wilbert FAST FORWARDS the FOOTAGE -- then HITS STOP: WILBERT (ON WIDSCREEN) There was something strange about Vertus. It wasnt his height, nor was it strange that he looked younger than his actual age of sixty-four. What I found most odd had everything to do with his hairstyle. He wore a wig that was coal black.Suddenly EVERYTHING GOES BLACK; the POWER is OFF! WILBERT (V.O.) Damn!
  • 16. 15.WE HEAR Wilbert fumble around in a desk drawer, then asecond drawer and finally a third drawer until he finallycomes up with a FLASHLIGHT - which he TURNS ON.EXT. SMITH HOME - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTWE FEATURE the CLEARLY MARKED SCE VAN parked at the curb ofthe sprawling Smith home as the TECHNICIAN MOVES INTO FRAMEand gets into the truck.INT. SMITH HOME FOYER - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTWilbert SCRAMBLES out of his office with lit flashlight yetin hand, house shoes SLIDING on the MARBLE FLOORS, and tothe FRONT DOOR - which he OPENS!WILBERTS POVThe SCE field engineer STARTS up the van and begins slowlyDRIVING away. WILBERT (calling to engineer) HEY! HEY!INT. SMITH HOME FOYER - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTSusan, clad in her house robe APPROACHES Wilbert frombehind. Shes got a LIT FLASHLIGHT too. SUSAN You forgot to pay the light bill (again)...A frustrated Wilbert shakes his head. Theres nothing he cansay. FADE OUT.FADE IN:INT. WILBERTS INNER OFFICE - DAYSusan slowly PACES as MR. EMMANUEL - who is white, about 40years old - sits at the desk SIFTING through a STACK ofPAPERWORK.
  • 17. 16.WE SEE three EMPLOYEES diligently WORKING in the b.g.through the inner office connecting door.Susan PULLS OUT her CELLULAR and puts through a CALL toWilbert. His MESSAGING SYSTEM picks up right away. We HEARthe BUZZ: WILBERT (V.O.) Youre reached Wilbert Smith, please leave me a message and Ill get back to you before the end of the business day. Thank you. SUSAN (into the phone) Hey Honey - its me... Call the office as soon as you can... MR. EMMANUEL (looking up) Its going to be hard keeping you off of probation with figures such as these, Ms. Smith. (beat) The auto policy numbers are way down. SUSAN (measures that) Please do the best you can, Mr. Emmanuel. Thats all I ask. (then) Wilbert and I have had some personal challenges were trying to work through.EXT. VERTUS CONDO BUILDING - DAYWilberts car is parked in front of the condo.INT. VERTUS LIVING ROOM - DAYWilbert stands amid a PLETHORA of SEALED, and LABELED BOXES,as Vertus MOVES INTO FRAME from the unseen BEDROOM. Hes gota HUGE RING of KEYS in hand. WILBERT Whats with all the secrecy?
  • 18. 17. VERTUS Youll see... (moving purposefully) Youre the only person I can trust with this.Vertus leads Wilbert out of the from door, exiting.EXT. VERTUS CONDO BUILDING - CONTINUOUS - DAYVertus meticulously LOCKS the front door then LEADS Wilbertdown the STAIRS, CAMERA LEADING.EXT. VERTUS CONDO PROPERTY - CONTINUOUS - DAYVertus leads Wilbert past a PARKED 1986 FORD MUSTANG inpristine condition. WILBERT (wipes dirt from Mustang) You need to start her up every now and then so the battery doesnt run down. VERTUS I do. (with a twinkle) Been around the block a time or two.EXT. CONDO PROPERTY GARAGE STORAGE - CONTINUOUS - DAYThere are SEVERAL STORAGE AREAS, side by side; Vertus goesto his designated space. At the door are TWO PADLOCKS, eachsecuring a separate side of the door.Vertus SEARCHES for the entry KEY - then OPENS one padlockthen the other, before RAISING the metal door OPEN.INT. GARAGE STORAGE - CONTINUOUS - DAYVertus ENTERS the storage and once inside, TURNS on a LIGHT,Wilbert close on his heels.Now Vertus CLOSES the sliding door behind them.
  • 19. 18.VERTUS AND WILBERT POVVertus FOCUSES his attention on a 1960s style metal filecabinet, OPENING the top drawer, while looking around toassure privacy. WILBERT (cotto) Vertus, youre acting like youve got money in here...Vertus offers nothing, but LIFTS a METAL BOX from the topdrawer.INT. VERTUS LIVING ROOM - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - DAYWilbert sits next to Vertus on the couch, with several ofthe metal boxes on the floor in front of them. They haveCOUNTED and BUNDLED several stacks of $5000 bills of varyingdenominations - and are now in the process of PUTTING eachbundle into PAPER BAGS. WILBERT Why arent you keeping this in the bank? VERTUS I dont trust banks. Youve got to understand that I grew up during the Great Depression; I watched my family lose all the money they had dealing with so-called banks. (alas) It just went up into space... CUT TO:EXT. ALLSTATE OFFICE PARKING LOT - HOURS LATER - DAYWilbert DRIVES his car onto the LOT from the adjacentboulevard.INT. WILBERTS ALLSTATE OFFICE - CONTINUOUS - DAYBRANDON, mixed race in his late 20s, gets up from his DESK,which is across from his brother BRIANS desk, and watcheshis dad park his car in the b.g. Brian is also in his late20s of mixed race; he also STANDS.
  • 20. 19. BRANDON Mom... Dad (is here)... (to Brian) The "fit" is about to hit the "shan"... Lets go get coffee. BRIAN No way.I wouldnt miss this for the world, big brother.CAMERA PULLS BACK as Susan MOVES INTO FRAME.BACK WITH WILBERT - CONTINUOUSHe WALKS towards his office, briefcase in hand, then reachesand OPENS the door.WILBERTS POVWhat he SEES as he enters the office is Brandon and Brianstanding there with their mother, Susan, all lookingpoker-faced. WILBERT What is this? The welcoming commitee? SUSAN (with a push, to Wilbert) You couldnt return any of my calls, huh? WILBERT (beat) Lets take this off line... (a beat) (Do) you two have work to get done? BRIAN Sure Dad...INT. WILBERTS INNER OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER - DAYWilbert ENTERS the office first FOLLOWED closely by Susan.She closes the door behind them, while Wilbert throws hisbriefcase onto desk. WILBERT I know what you going to say, Susan... that, t-that---
  • 21. 20. SUSAN (breaking in) That Vertus life has taken over OUR lives, Wilbert. WILBERT (a beat) I know... I know...Susan moves closer to Wilbert. SUSAN And its more than just the business aspect. Its not as though Ive never forgotten to pay a bill... Vertus has made his way into our bedroom. (then) We havent made love in months, Wllbert...There is nothing Wilbert can say. SUSAN (picking up) You know I truly love Vertus... Hes like a member of the family. In fact hes more than a member of the family. But enough is enough. Weve got to get ourselves back on track here. I cant put my life on hold while you go through whatever the hell it is that youre going through. (beat) Mr. Emmanuel going through our papers like he owns the place!Wilbert goes and sits in the chair facing his desk, like ascolded child. WILBERT (shakes his head) Its not just about Vertus - its about me. Things locked inside for years are coming up; coming out. (beat) I think after all these years, Im finally beginning to grieve the loss of my father, Susan. (with a push) Vertus is dying, Susan. Hes been diagnosed with brain cancer; its (MORE)
  • 22. 21. WILBERT (contd) metastisized.Wilberts last statement gets Susans full attention, as shemeasures whats just been said.Susan slightly turns away from Wilbert. SUSAN My good Lord.. CUT TO:INT. WILBERTS HOME OFFICE - SEVERAL NIGHTS LATER - NIGHTWilbert sits at his desk as LIGHTING is being SET, with aBOOM MICROPHONE hanging overhead - as a SMALL FILM CREW ofFIVE is about to begin TAPING: There is a CAMERAMAN, MAKEUPGIRL, LIGHT MAN, SOUND MAN, CREW DIRECTOR, of varying ethnicand racial and age designations.The makeup girl MOPS Wilberts brow with a towel - thenMOVES out of the pending "SHOT." CREW DIRECTOR And... ACTION WILBERT I telephoned the local bank manager to alert him of our bringing in approximately $300,000 in cash for deposit. During the short trip to the bank, I was uneasy... frightened to be more precise... (beat) Amazingly, Vertus was about to close escrow on his 28th property! CREW DIRECTOR (a beat) And CUT!The THEATRICAL LIGHTS are turned OUT by the light man andthe boom microphone is PULLED back by the boom man; othersstart moving to and fro.The crew director steps behind the desk - closing thedistance between he and Wilbert.
  • 23. 22. CREW DIRECTOR (to Wilbert) Want my professional opinion? WILBERT Im certain youre going to give it whether I want it or not. CREW DIRECTOR (picking up) Youre not going to be able to completely tell this story without going back to Lyles Station. WILBERT I know. Ive already had my three-dimensional epiphany - in full living color - complete with a theme song. Youre preaching to the choir. (a beat) We need more information, more research, more details and more footage. (alas) Coincidently, in case youre wondering whether to do a drive by the mans garage, I convinced Vertus to find a new place to hide his money... Saavy? CREW DIRECTOR (feigning indignity) (Are) you trying to hurt my feelings, Dr. Smith? WILBERT Just sayin. (finally) That goes for the light and sound man too.INT. SMITH STAIRWAY - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - NIGHTA very weary Wilbert ASCENDS the stairs on his way to thebedroom, CAMERA FOLLOWING.
  • 24. 23.INT. SMITH UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - NIGHTWE FEATURE Susan, who lies on the bed WATCHING the BIGSCREEN TELEVISION as Wilbert enters the bedroom. He beginsto UNDRESS during the following dialog. SUSAN (turns off TV with remote) How did the filming go? WILBERT (a beat) It went well. (then) Its just that Ive gone about as far as I can go with the project. Its hard getting information out of Vertus. He keeps clamming up on me. Im thinking, if only I could get him to travel back to Lyles Station with me. Back to where it all went down. SUSAN Have you asked him? Why dont you ask him? WILBERT You dont know Vertus. SUSAN I DO know Vertus... Ask him.There are a few moments of SILENCE, then they each begin toSPEAK at the same time. WILBERT (sits on side of bed) Go on... SUSAN (sighs) I just wanted to apologize for the things I said the other day. WILBERT (grunts thoughtfully) Susan, you dont owe me an apology.
  • 25. 24. SUSAN Yes I do. Weve managed to stay married for for 30 years because we "have" one anothers back. And I havent been having your back. (closes distance between she and Wilbert) You once told me that youre compelled to tell Vertus story... Well Im compelled to love you with everything Ive got.They are now close enough that there is nothing left to dobut KISS. The kiss quickly becomes a great deal morePASSIONATE. CUT TO:INT. DELTA JETLINER - TWO WEEKS LATER - DAYVertus RECLINES in the AISLE seat donning a ORANGE beanie -just behind Wilbert - who RECLINES in his AISLE seat, amid aplane full of PASSENGERS and several STEWARDESSES. VERTUS (V.O.) So whats got you up and running so early his morning, Wilbert? WILBERT (V.O.) Vertus, how would you feel about going back to Lyles Station? I know you havent gone back for a visit in many years. I think it would be good while youre still healthy enough to travel. We could arrange to visit your remaining family members. I would love to meet them all and get their input on your story. VERTUS (V.O.) (a beat) Our story, Wilbert... our story. (alas) I dont see it as a bad idea. If it will help the project, then Ill go. It will be good to see my family. Its been far too long.
  • 26. 25.EXT. DELTA JETLINER - LATER - NIGHTTo ESTABLISH Vertus and Wilbert have been in the air forhours.SOUND BRIDGE - A RINGING PHONE UNCLE GLETUS (V.O.) Hello... yes, this is Gletus Hardiman... WILBERT (V.O.) This is Dr. Wilbert Smith calling from California... Im following up on the letter I sent to you and the other survivors of the ringworm experiment... Im confirming that Vertus and I will be arriving on August 5 [or whatever].INT. DELTA JETLINER - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTAs stewardesses MOVE down the AISLE with their FOOD CARTS,WE SEE and HEAR COMMOTION within the cabin pertaining to areally FOUL ODOR that has passengers REACTING negatively.The CAMERA ANGLES on people fanning, ad libbing commentsabout the odor, etc.Vertus is sound ASLEEP but Wilbert soon AWAKENS - becomingaware of the prevailing commotion.Wilbert soon RECOGNIZES the smell as coming from Vertus, andDEDUCES it is the AIR CONTROL above Vertus head BLOWINGFULL TILT. Wilbert RISES, STEPS to Vertus seat behind himand TURNS the air control to the OFF position.The smell immediately begins to subside as Wilbert returnsto his own seat. For his part, Vertus SLEEPS right throughit all.EXT. DELTA AIRLINER LANDING IN EVANSVILLE - NIGHTAs the Jet lands, EVANSVILLE INDIANA is SUPERIMPOSED on theSCREEN. DISSOLVE:
  • 27. 26.INT. /EXT. VAN RENTAL - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - NIGHTWilbert is DRIVING with Vertus in the passenger seat, asthey LEAVE the airport; the van has two more rows of SEATS. VERTUS (V.O.) It was a black man who founded Lyles Station in 1849. (beat) Joshua Lyles was a freed Tennessee slave.INT. VAN RENTAL US-41 NORTH - MINUTES LATER - NIGHTThe van moves along at a very nice clip. WILBERT (a couple of beats) How (are) you holding up, Vertus? VERTUS Im sick as a dog but having the time of my life... I dont recognize anything. Its been such a long time. (alas) But Im HOME, Wilbert. HOME...EXT. /INT. VAN RENTAL - MINUTES LATER - NIGHTThe van is traveling on South Richland Creek Drive. The vanis seemingly the only vehicle on the road.WILBERT / VERTUS POVVisible up ahead is the HAMPTON INN.Wilbert DRIVES the van onto the Hampton Inn property - andPARKS in the designated CHECK-IN PARKING. VERTUS Im scared, Wilbert. But I know in my heart I can go through with this. WILBERT (measures that) Are you feeling up to putting in some work tonight?
  • 28. 27.CAMERA HOLDS ON VERTUS. CUT TO:INT. HOTEL ROOM - AN HOUR LATER - NIGHTThe room has two queen-sized beds and is fairly roomy. Itsa typical hotel room.Wilbert SITS on the bed farthest from the bathroom, lookingover his NOTES. Several pieces of LUGGAGE are visible, and aTRIPOD and MOUNTED CAMERA face a CHAIR and TABLE.INT. HOTEL BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTWE SEE evidence that Vertus has indeed showered, and WE canSEE he has changed clothes and began the arduous process ofcleansing and caring for the hole in his head. WE SEE himhandle the SOILED beanie worn on the plane - FOLD it andPLACE it is a small PLASTIC CONTAINER. He has assembled thedressing, gauze, stringent and various items used to freshenand treat his injury are carefully placed on a TRAY.Vertus GRABS the small pill bottle, REMOVES two tiny PILLSwhich he pops into his mouth; he then takes a handfull ofwater from the sink tap, throwing that into his mouth aswell -- SWALLOWING it all.CAMERA ANGLES ON a fresh BROWN BEANIE has been placed on thetowel rack above the commode.INT. HOTEL ROOM - MINUTES LATER - NIGHTWilbert, yet seated on his bed takes a look at hiswristwatch: WILBERT (calling towards the bathroom) (Are) you okay in there?On CUE, Vertus emerges from the bathroom wearing the brownbeanie.ON WILBERTS REACTION CUT TO:
  • 29. 28.INT. HOTEL ROOM - LATER - NIGHTA refreshed Vertus comfortably sits in the chair at thetable, facing Wilbert, whose CAMERA has Vertus in FRAME. VERTUS There were ten of us... Our parents were told there was a cure for ringworm and we would be afforded treatment that had only been available to the little white kids at the all-white schools. (a beat) I was only five years old, and there was no Kindergarten in those days.QUICK CUT:SEPIA COLOR TONE FOOTAGE - Circa 1927 - of VERTUS as a 5YEAR OLD CHILD, standing there staring directly into theCAMERA.BACK TO THE SCENE VERTUS (picking up) I used to sleep with my older brother Melvin, and if he had the ringworm then I had the ringworm. (beat) My mothers idea was to kill two birds; I would be put on the school bus that day to get the same "special" treatment Melvin was getting. (finally) She had no way of knowing we were being lied to and that the treatment would change ten little lives forevermore. WILBERT (O.S.) Are you bitter, Vertus? Do you harbor hatred for what they did to you? VERTUS If my heart were filled with anger or hatred, there would be little room left for love; and without love my prayers would not be answered. (a beat) (MORE)
  • 30. 29. VERTUS (contd) Ive thought about it and thought about it, and I believe the good Lord kept me here this long because he wanted this story to be told... (near tears) He wanted it to be told. To show the magnitude of His mercy... (and) because it should be told.HOLD ON VERTUS DISSOLVE:INT. HOTEL ROOM - THREE IN THE MORNING - NIGHTThe tripod and camera have been put away for the night, asCAMERA SLOWLY PANS to Wilbert who is SOUND ASLEEP. ButVertus bed is EMPTY; the COVERS and PILLOWS are missing.Suddenly Wilbert awakens, sitting up.WILBERTS POVHe SEES Vertus is not in his bed. A LOOK at the CLOCK on theBEDSIDE table reads: 03:06 A.M.Wilbert gets out of bed moving past Vertus bed, CAMERAFOLLOWING, to SEE Vertus asleep, CURLED UP on the floorbetween the room ENTRY DOOR and the BATHROOM. Vertus has ona lovely BLUE HEAD WRAP in lieu of the beanie.EXT. HOTEL POOL AREA - THE NEXT MORNING - DAYWilbert SITS poolside his CELL PHONE held up to his head; heis talking with Susan. Its still early and cold. There isno one else in the area. WILBERT (into phone) ...Vertus had removed the top sheet and blankets and was curled up on the floor. He said his head was on fire. The poor man goes through this every night. (then) I asked about the last time he remembered a peaceful night of sleep without interruption, and Vertus could not tell me... Poor (MORE)
  • 31. 30. WILBERT (contd) guy. SUSAN (O.S.) (via phone) And you say it takes nearly an hour and a half - twice a day - to dress his wound? WILBERT (into phone) The man takes antibiotics continually to eliminate unpleasant odors... And he still nearly emptied the plane. It was really bad, Susan. (alas) I had no idea this is what Vertus has to deal with day in and day out. I dont know what I was thinking. Its as though I should have brought a nurse along for the trip. Im seriously thinking of cutting it short. I dont know.INT. SMITH UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTSusan lies in her bed TALKING TO Wilbert on her LAND LINEPHONE. Its quite early West Coast time: SUSAN (into phone) Vertus is the one who has to live with it, Wilbert. If the trip is cut short, let him be the one. (beat) Love you... Stay strong. (closes out call) CUT TO:INT. /EXT. VAN RENTAL - LATER THAT MORNING - DAYThe van travels on HIGHWAY 64 - before coming to a SIGN thatDIRECTS a RIGHT HAND TURN - LYLES STATION 1 MILE.Wilbert SLOWS the van and MAKES the RIGHT HAND TURN. WILBERT All of these years that Ive known you, Ive never heard you discuss that special lady. Was there (MORE)
  • 32. 31. WILBERT (contd) someone? VERTUS (measures that, then) Shoot. I suppose everyone has got SOMEONE theyre sweet on at one time or another (beat) Marguerite... Marguerite Bell. I loved that girl so.QUICK CUT:BLACK AND WHITE FOOTAGE of the lovely and very beautifulMARGUERITE. She is in her early twenties and WEARS fashionfrom the early 1940s. Marguerite looks into the CAMERA: MARGUERITE Why cant you trust me, Vertus?BACK WITH VERTUS AND WILBERT VERTUS We attended the same A.M.E. church, Wayman Chapel. I fell hard for Marguerite. I just never truly accepted her love and devotion because I feared she would never accept me - I mean, the ugliness of what I was hiding under my wig.WE-- DISSOLVE:EXT. BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE - MINUTES LATER - DAYThe rented van drives past expansive farms that stretch asfar as the CAMERA can "SEE." DISSOLVE:INT. /EXT. RENTED VAN - MOMENTS LATER - DAYVertus looks relaxed and refreshed as he DRINKS coffee froma Styrofoam CUP - seated next to Wilbert who DRIVES throughthe beautiful countryside. In the f.g. the van passes theDISTRESS BELL of a HOME just off the road.
  • 33. 32. VERTUS (V.O.) The distress bell is an old-fashioned field tradition that predates the telephone. We used it to signal those working the field that a meal was ready... A faster, more frantic paced ring meant an emergency was at hand. DISSOLVE:EXT. WILBERTS ALLSTATE OFFICE - DAYJust a normal day at Wilberts office, located in a stripmall.EXT. ALLSTATE OFFICE PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS - DAYWE FLASHBACK TWO YEARS EARLIER.INSERT:TWO YEARS EARLIER is SUPERIMPOSED on the SCREENVertus DRIVES his 1986 Ford Mustang onto the parking areaand PARKS his car.INT. WILBERTS INNER OFFICE - CONTINUOUS - DAYWilbert leans back in his chair in business conversation onthe PHONE; there is a fancy desk CALCULATOR at hisFINGERTIPS. WILBERT (into the phone) ...Let me tell you what your savings would be if you combined mortgage, auto and life into one policy... (does rapid fire calculation) Youre looking at a savings of $59.00 a month.INT. WILBERTS ALLSTATE OFFICE - CONTINUOUS - DAYSusan, Brandon, Brian and TWO more of Wilberts EMPLOYEESwork at their respective desks - as Vertus makes ENTRY -looking visibly distraught. He is on a BEELINE for Wilberts
  • 34. 33.inner office. Vertus has got on a wide brimmed HAT with hiscustomary BEANIE underneath. SUSAN Hi Vertus, no tootsie pop?Vertus offers NOTHING, but just keeps moving FORWARD in asomewhat halting GAIT.BACK WITH WILBERTHe SEES Vertus ENTER his inner office, CLOSING theconnecting door behind him. Vertus is quite emotionallybound. WILBERT (into the phone) Let me get back to you. (closes the call, standing) Vertus... whats wrong? Are you okay?But Vertus avoids making EYE CONTACT.Wilbert quickly MOVES around his desk and makes one of theCHAIRS facing his desk more readily available to Vertus, wholooks EXHAUSTED from the days heat.Vertus SITS in the CHAIR - which is directly in front of thelarge foot-by-four window; it provides a VIEW of the inneroffice from the outer office and vice versa.WE can SEE Susan and Brian LOOK into the inner office in theb.g.Finally Vertus looks up at Wilbert and there are TEARSstreaming down his face. VERTUS I miss my family in Indiana. My parents and grandparents are gone, and I find little reason to visit. There is so much there I just cant handle. (removes his horn-rimmed glasses) I have tormented myself for a long time searching for the courage to tell you my secret. Youre the closest thing I have to a son, Wilbert. (then) (MORE)
  • 35. 34. VERTUS (contd) My secret is why I always covered my head and hid it all my life. Ive never told anyone my secret until now. (shakes head) But Im just tired. Im beat to the socks. WILBERT (sitting back down) Tired of what?Vertus begins to CRY with even more emotion, nearly losingcontrol.Wilbert MOVES to the chair next to Vertus and HANDS theolder man his personal handkerchief. VERTUS (a bit more composed) When I was a boy, just five years old, I was experimented on. I was just a child, a little boy; I was not some sort of animal. WILBERT What did they do to you? (beat) You say you were experimented on as a little boy? (then) Take your time... VERTUS Yes, they experimented on us with radiation...CAMERA CLOSES INVertus REMOVES the wide brimmed hat, followed by the beanie.Vertus head is heavily speckled, by the loss of skinpigmentation, and oddly shaped. His head resembles insymmetry, that of a cucumber - tall on the top an slender onthe side. There is no hair except a few strands near hisleft ear. There is scarring across the entire width ofVertus forehead, just above the eyebrows. The right frontquadrant of his scalp is whitest due to loss of skin color.Both of his ears are wafer thin and bares blemishing acrosstheir upper edges. Atop Vertus; wound lays a sponge covermeasuring 4-by-2 inches in diameter.
  • 36. 35.A DIFFERENT CAMERA ANGLEVertus begins to meticulously TUG along the periphery of thesponge to DETACH it. Once removed, a horrific WOUND, thatresembles raw tattered flesh containing peaks and valleys,is EXPOSED. There is slight BLEEDING evident caused by thesponge being dislodged and torn away from unhealed scabs.Vertus uses Wilberts handkerchief to calmly blot his scalpand face.A WIDER CAMERA ANGLEWilbert calmly rises, OPENS the office door, EXITING theinner office, CAMERA FOLLOWING.INT. WILBERTS ALLSTATE OFFICE - CONTINUOUS - DAYWilbert MOVES purposely, as he heads for the WASHROOM. Susanand the others have diligently RESUMED their working tasks,minding their own business.INT. ALLSTATE WASHROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYWilbert ENTERS the small area and immediately begins PULLINGpaper towels, WETTING a FEW in the process.BACK WITH VERTUSWilbert HANDS most of the wet paper towels to the older man,who further BLOTS at the blood that has streamed onto hisface.Wilbert begins to BLOT out some of the blood with towels hekept. WILBERT Who did this to you?Vertus offers NOTHING but continues DABBING at the blood onhis face.There are a few moments of SILENCE. Wilbert sits back down.Vertus again begins to WEEP. VERTUS (gaining composure) I have suffered a lot of pain and Im tired of carrying this burden alone.
  • 37. 36. CUT TO:EXT. CITY HALL PASADENA - LATER - DAYVertus, having CLEANED up - his beanie and wide brimmed hatback in place - WALKS along slowly with Wilbert, strollingpast the very PROMINENT "HEADS" of JACKIE ROBINSON and hisBROTHER HUGH. VERTUS The hospital needed to know human reaction to radiation exposure. They experimented on ten children; I was one of them. They told us we were going on a field trip but we ended up in a hospital basement.Vertus STOPS his and Wilberts stroll: VERTUS Those people viewed me and the other children as dollar signs; nothing more. (finally) My parents didnt have a clue what would happen to me and my brother Melvin that day. WILBERT (measures that) (It was) COMPLETE and IMMORAL obfuscation... This is almost too much to comprehend, Vertus. VERTUS (beat) Wilbert, I dont want pity. Thats the one thing Ive feared my whole life.EXT. CITY HALL BENCH - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - DAYVertus and Wilbert SIT on a bench as the early evening shadebegins to "have its way;" Pasadena City Hall is in the b.g.There are no words to be spoken, just the opportunity toallow "peace to be still." CUT TO:
  • 38. 37.INT. SMITH UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - THAT NIGHT - NIGHTThe room is dark, and Wilbert lies in bed WIDE AWAKE next toSusan; he cant shake the image of Vertus head: VERTUS (V.O.) (with sonic "effect") Wilbert, I dont want pity... SUSAN (a beat) Cant sleep? WILBERT (sighs) If I ever complain about anything, ever again, Susan... I want you to... to... (voice trails off)WE-- CUT TO:INT. GLETUS LIVING ROOM - BACK PRESENT DAY - DAYCAMERA OPENS on the sincere celebratory reunion of Vertusand his older brother MELVIN - mid-eighties - who are inFULL EMBRACE. UNCLE GLETUS and COUSIN HORACE - also in theireighties, await their turn to embrace the wayward traveler,Vertus. They each ad lib comments such as "Good to seeyou..." and "Its been far too long..." or "Ive missedyou..." All wear HATS, all are without hair on their heads.Wilbert, who stands IN FRAME, is all SMILES as he isalternately HUGGED by Uncle Gletus, Cousin Horace andfinally Vertus brother Melvin.The home is nice, very typical for people who have workedhard for the things they have. The FURNISHINGS are old, butvery well kept up; the PLASTIC on the DIVAN and COUCH add atouch of old-fashioned charm.Wilberts camera, tripod and a couple of other pieces ofequipment SIT IN FRAME.INT. GLETUS KITCHEN - MINUTES LATER - DAYGletus is in FULL COMMAND as he stands COOKING sizzlingbacon on the "old fashioned" stove. An arms length away -
  • 39. 38.we SEE the COFFEE POT is PERCOLATING and he has alreadyprepared: EGGS, TOAST, GRITS, BISCUITS, etc.INT. GLETUS DINNING ROOM - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - DAYThe table has been set: POT OF COFFEE, PLATES of BACON,EGGS, GRITS, BISCUITS, etc., along with the PLACE SETTINGS.Vertus sits at one head of the TABLE, seated next to Wilbertto his right and Melvin to his left. Gletus is seated at theother head of the table, with Horace to his left.They all HOLD HANDS, HEADS BOWED as Wilbert "gives Grace." WILBERT Oh Heavenly Father, God of our lives, we give sincere thanks for this wonderfully prepared meal and the hands that prepared it... Also thanking you for allowing us to come together for the purpose of healing old wounds and shinning a light on old truths, Father. Lord grant us the courage and the strength to press ahead as you would have us (do). Amen. VERTUS (a beat) Lets eat.No one has to be told twice as they all start to DIG in,PASSING plates, helping themselves to ample portions, etc.There is plenty of SOUNDS of utensils hitting plate ware,etc. DISSOLVE:INT. GLETUS DINNING ROOM - MINUTES LATER - DAYThe TABLE has been CLEARED of food, plates, utensils, etc.,save for cups of coffee and/or glasses of juice.Presently, it is Gletus who "holds court." UNCLE GLETUS I have never believed in carrying debt; cant abide it. I remember shopping for a tractor, not too long ago, and being ignored by the salesman, probably because I did (MORE)
  • 40. 39. UNCLE GLETUS (contd) not look the part of one of the big shot farmers. Shoot. I asked for the manager. He saw how unhappy I was and offered me a ten per cent discount. Shoot, ten per cent discount? I ordered TWO tractors... (alas) Pulled out my checkbook and paid the full amount. That manager nearly swallowed his uppers!Hearty LAUGHTER abounds! VERTUS Thats what has made Uncle Gletus a living legend in these parts. I want to be just like him when I grow up!There is more laughter.QUICK CUT:SEPIA COLOR TONE FOOTAGE of Vertus as a 5 year old, MELVINand GLETUS as 7 year olds and HORACE and MELVIN "FUZZ" - allSTANDING staring blankly into the CAMERA. They all have onthe FLIP HATS so popular back in the late 1920 time frame.BACK TO THE SCENE COUSIN HORACE (to Wilbert) How long have you been Vertus doctor? VERTUS Oh no, Dr. Wilbert isnt my MEDICAL doctor, hes a Ph.D. WILBERT (breaking in) Yeah, piled high and deep - as the saying goes. VERTUS (picking up) Wilbert is writing a book about my life and producing a documentary that includes all of us.
  • 41. 40. WILBERT (a beat) Gentlemen, please dont look at me as some hot shot Hollywood movie producer type. Vertus and I go back twenty years, and hes shared with me the family tree and your Lyles Station history. (a beat) I hope you see me as a humble person who believes your incredible story needs... no, make that DEMANDS, to be told. UNCLE GLETUS (laughing) All I know is thats some pretty tall talkin.Horace and Melvin also laugh quite heartily. MELVIN Just tell us what you want us to do, Dr. Wilbert. (beat) I growd up thinking nobody cared a lick what happened to us.Wilbert stands and moves a few feet from the table where theothers are seated.PULL FOCUS ON WILBERTEXT. GLETUS FARM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS - DAYThere are a SERIES of CAMERA SHOTS that show the beauty ofthe countryside:1. The front of Gletus place; a very nice homey place. Therented van is parked out front;2. The surrounding farmland to the east;3. The surrounding farmland to the west.INT. GLETUS LIVING ROOM - LATER - DAYWilbert is on his feet, his CAMERA mounted on the TRIPOD. WeSEE Vertus, seated on the couch, REMOVE his beanie.
  • 42. 41.Wilberts TAPE is RUNNING as Melvin, Horace and Gletus allMOVE CLOSER for a LOOK-SEE.Now Melvin, still on his feet, REMOVES his hat and wig. MELVIN This is the first time I have ever taken my wig off in front of other people; I have always worn a toupee.Gletus sits on the couch next to Vertus and REMOVES his hat. MELVIN (picking up) My son is fifty-eight years old and he has only seen my head a couple of times. Right now I feel naked...Finally, Horace REMOVES his hat.Each man PRESENTS a speckled scalp, badly spotted amidstlarge pockets of lost skin color. Each mans skin is dry andscaly, microscopically thin in texture.But it is clearly Vertus who is the worse off. COUSIN HORACE (to Vertus) Did your head every resemble mine then advance to this stage? VERTUS My head never looked like yours... Ive always had terrible lesions and burning. Doctors tell me I received more radiation than any case they ever witnessed.A DIFFERENT CAMERA ANGLEGletus STANDS and approaches Wilbert, his back turned on theothers: UNCLE GLETUS (cotto) Could Vertus condition eventually, well, you know... (then) Could he die from this?
  • 43. 42.HOLD ON GLETUS DISSOLVE:EXT. SAND HILL CEMETERY - MINUTES LATER - DAYCAMERA REVEALS a WIDE ANGLE LONG SHOT of the parked van - inthe well kept graveyard, with Vertus, Wilbert, Horace,Melvin and Gletus standing in the b.g. at the grave-site ofJOSEPH A. LUCAS. (All of the older men have on their hats,etc.) UNCLE GLETUS (V.O.) Uncle Joe, as he was known, was married to my sister Florence. He was the only Principal the school ever had... Were talkn some 30 odd years or so, rest his Soul. VERTUS (V.O.) He knew the limited opportunities his Negro students had, but he challenged us to advance beyond our harsh realities. WILBERT (V.O.) (a beat) Is it true nearly every grave belongs to a relative of yours? VERTUS (V.O.) Nothing but Hardimans planted out here... (with a twinkle) You may quote me.WE-- DISSOLVE:EXT. OLD LYLES STATION ROAD - DAYITS 1927 AGAIN and THE FOLLOWING SCENES are in SEPIA COLORTONE. An old DODGE, with a STOP sign positioned just outsidethe driver-side window, serves as a school BUS. It PUTTSalong - with MR. CLIFT - 45 - the DRIVER. There are severalSCHOOL CHILDREN already on board, seated three children perseat. The are as quiet and orderly as one could expect.The young boys wear flat caps, winter jackets and overcoats.
  • 44. 43.Ankle length dresses, sweaters and coats adorn the youngfemales. The ages run from 6 to about 12.EXT. VERTUS CHILDHOOD HOME - DAYThe LONG SHOT FEATURES a pond about 50 yards from the MAINHOUSE, where CATTLE graze and wade.INT. VERTUS CHILDHOOD HOME - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe condition of the house is not bad; its a couple ofyears before the Great Depression.IRENE, very pretty, late twenties [note to real-life WILBERT- RHONDA MORMAN would be a good casting choice], HELPS7-year old Melvin on with his OVERCOAT. During the followingdialog she STUFFS a PERMISSION SLIP into the young ladscoat POCKET. IRENE (calling off scene) Hurry Vertus... You dont want to be late your first day of school...5 year-old Vertus MOVES INTO FRAME stuffing his SHIRT, asbest he can with his COAT in one of his HANDS, into hisPANTS. IRENE Melvin, Im depending on you to take good care of your little brother. YOUNG MELVIN ...yes mam...Now Irene HELPS him on with his coat. IRENE (to Vertus) I want you to be a good boy and do what they tell you. YOUNG VERTUS Okay mommy.
  • 45. 44.EXT. VERTUS CHILDHOOD HOME - CONTINUOUS - DAYIrene gently PUSHES Melvin and Vertus out onto the veranda,just as the old Dodge PULLS up in front of the house, oncue.EXT. /INT. OLD DODGE - CONTINUOUSLY - DAYMr. Clift STOPS the old bus in front of Vertus childhoodhome. Vertus mother KISSES both Melvin and Vertus, who WALKdown the stairs toward the bus and away from their mother.Melvin and Vertus dont wear hats and the ringworm theysuffer from is clearly evident with a CLOSER CAMERA ANGLE. IRENE (calling out) Morning Mr. Clift... MR. CLIFT (calling back) Morning, mam... (cotto) With your good lookin well put together self.INT. OLD DODGE - CONTINUOUSLY - DAYYoung Melvin and young Vertus MOUNT the bus STAIRS, VertusCLINGING to his older brothers coat with BOTH HANDS. MR. CLIFT Do you have the permission slip, Melvin? YOUNG MELVIN Yes sir...Young Melvin REACHES INTO his coat POCKET and REMOVES thepermission slip which he HANDS to Mr. Cliff.Mr. Clift FOLDS the slip with the other permission slips asthe Hardiman boys make their way down the bus AISLE. MR. CLIFT You boys go to the back with your cousins.
  • 46. 45.A DIFFERENT CAMERA ANGLEAs the boys PASS one LITTLE GIRL on an aisle seat, who LEANSaway: LITTLE GIRL Yuck, coody...A few of the other girls GIGGLE; Melvin SHOWS her his LEFTBALLED UP FIST. MR. CLIFT All right now... were having none of that.The young Melvin and young Vertus take their seat at theback of the bus with:YOUNG GLETIS, YOUNG FUZZ, YOUNG HORACE, ALAN, GARWOOD, ELLAMAE, LLOYD and MILBURN. None of them wear hats and all haveVISIBLE SIGNS of RINGWORM.EXT. VERTUS CHILDHOOD HOME- CONTINUOUS - DAYIrene stands on the veranda and WAVES as she WATCHES theDOOR CLOSE and the old Dodge DRIVE AWAY.EXT. LYLES CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL - DAYSCHOOL CHILDREN play in the huge FRONT YARD: GIRLS on oneside of the LONG WALKWAY (leading from the main road to theschools FRONT DOOR), and BOYS on the other side.EXT. OLD DODGE - MINUTES LATER - DAYThe old, rickety vehicle PULLS up in front of the school andSTOPS.YOUNG VERTUS POVHe can see the children FROLICKING on the schools acre ofGRASS, while still CLINGING to Melvin.EXT. LYLES CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL - CONTINUOUS - DAYUNCLE JOE - 50 years old and very no non-sense STEPS outonto the PORCH. He PULLS out his POCKET WATCH and "notes"the old Dodge is right on time.
  • 47. 46.EXT. /INT. OLD DODGE - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe children in the FRONT of the bus START OUT the DOOR themoment it OPENS, single file, and quite orderly - not unlikelittle soldiers.CAMERA TRUCKS WITH Uncle Joe as he MAKES HIS WAY to the bus.A DIFFERENT ANGLEThe children in the back MOVE FORWARD but are STOPPED fromleaving the bus by Mr. Clift, just as Uncle Joe reaches thedoor, STEPPING UP on the bus. UNCLE JOE Good morng Mr. Clift... MR. CLIFT Good morning Principal Lucas.Mr. Clift HANDS over the STACK of PERMISSION SLIPS to UncleJoe. He briefly EXAMINES them then HANDS them back to Mr.Clift: UNCLE JOE (to Mr. Clift) This is the FIRST time theyre doing for the Negro children what the white students are getting, without a bunch of kicking and screaming. MR. CLIFT You can knock me over with a feather... Next youll be telling me one day well have a colored President. UNCLE JOE (beat) Good morning children... MOST OF THE TEN Good morning Principal Lucas. UNCLE JOE (a beat) Well, Vertus... I believe this is your first day at school, isnt it?Young Melvin HUNCHES young Vertus:
  • 48. 47. YOUNG VERTUS (a beat) Yes sir... UNCLE JOE You arent afraid are you? YOUNG VERTUS Y-Yes sir... UNCLE JOE (smiles) Theres nothing to be afraid of. (kneeling down to their level) You children are to go with Mr. Clift to the Hospital to get a special new treatment for your ringworm. (beat) I want you to follow Mr. Clifts directions and well see you back here in a little while. We have a candy treat for you when you get back... (alas) Ella Mae youre just as pretty as a picture... And you good looking fellows make me yearn to be young again.CAMERA CLOSES for a CLOSE UP of Uncle Joe. He cannot hide alook of concern.END SEPIA COLOR TONE HERE. DISSOLVE:EXT. SAND HILL CEMETERY - PRESENT DAY - DAYVertus, Gletus, Horace and Melvin, all surround Wilbert, whoKNEELS DOWN on the ground to get a better angle on theHEADSTONE of JOSEPH A. LUCAS - with his Canon Mark I.Wilbert SNAPS TWO PICTURES, complete with FLASH, thenSTANDS. ALL FIVE May the LORD keep watch between me and thee while we are absent, one from another... Amen. (then SINGING - on cue) Praise God from whom all blessings (MORE)
  • 49. 48. ALL FIVE (contd) flow... Praise Him all creatures below... Praise Him above thee Heavenly Hosts... Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost...They start the WALK back to the van, which is NOT IN FRAME. CUT TO:INT. /EXT. RENTED VAN - MINUTES LATER - DAYWilbert DRIVES the van along - with Vertus in the frontpassenger seat, Gletus and Melvin in the middle passengerseat and Horace on the back passenger seat.The van pulls from a COUNTRY ROAD onto the parking lot of aNURSING HOME. Wilbert PARKS the van and turns off the motor.He now REMOVES his CANON MARK I from the center console. UNCLE GLETUS Im gonna stay here. (I) dont like seein Fuzz this way.EXT. NURSING HOME FRONT DOOR - CONTINUOUS - DAYVertus, Wilbert, Horace and Melvin step up to the door.There is a WINDOW to the left of the door, and Wilbert CUPShis HANDS and PEERS in, his camera slung over his rightshoulder.Vertus RINGS the DOORBELL.WILBERTS POVWE SEE a HALLWAY LINED with rooms on either side -- withFUZZ, 86 years-old, SEATED in a WHEELCHAIR just a few feetinside of the window. Fuzz has all of the Hardiman featuresand WEARS a baseball CAP.INT. NURSING HOME - CONTINUE - DAYWE HEAR the door ELECTRONICALLY RELEASED, and Vertus,Wilbert, Horace and Melvin ENTER the facility.Vertus is first to Fuzz, taking him by the hand. Fuzzdoesnt seem to be fully aware of what is going on, showingvery little interest:
  • 50. 49. VERTUS Cousin Fuzz... its me, Vertus...Horace, Melvin and Wilbert gather around. WE SEE SEVERALnursing home EMPLOYEES in the b.g.Horace moves in and KISSES Fuzz on the CHEEK.Wilbert REACHES for the wheelchair brake, which he releases,and begins PUSHING Fuzz away from the door, just as one ofthe BLACK CAREGIVERS MOVES INTO FRAME. COUSIN HORACE (to caregiver) This Dr. Smith from California. Hes writing a book on what happened to us when we were little boys. He came to see my brothers head.Wilbert does his best not to react.CAMERA ANGLES ON WILBERTS CANON CAREGIVER (beat) Oh, no.The caregiver STOPS Wilbert in his tracks, REMOVES thewheelchair from his GRASP and proceeds to WHEEL Fuzz in adirect line to the SUPERVISOR [played by KEN DAVIS COUSIN,PATRICE LAKEY], who MOVES INTO FRAME; she too is black, inher mid-thirties.The caregiver WHISPERS several WORDS we cant HEAR to hersupervisor. SUPERVISOR (stepping forward to Wilbert) Dr. Smith, (is it)? I shouldnt have to recite policies as they pertain to the right of privacy, should I? WILBERT (slightly embarrassed) Certainly not. Im sorry... (alas) This IS a bit awkward.
  • 51. 50. SUPERVISOR (continuing) You thought you could just come in here and start snapping pictures to your hearts content? WILBERT No, m-mam... SUPERVISOR The only person authorized to give permission is Mr. Hardiman, whos obviously in no position to do so, or Miss Alberta Hardiman, the clients sister. VERTUS (to Horace) Call Alberta...Horace PULLS out his cutting-edge CELL PHONE, and beginsfastidiously SCROLLING for sister Albertas phone number,when Fuzz begins to slowly NOD HIS HEAD.Vertus LEANS closer: Fuzz NODS again, ever so slightly. VERTUS (to supervisor) Look.The supervisor LEANS closer; once more, Fuzz NODS, barely. WILBERT My Lord God...INT. FUZZ ROOM - MINUTES LATER - DAYFuzz has been wheeled into his room, which contains a BED,and the normal things youd expect to find in a convalesceroom. Vertus, Horace and Wilbert, who has removed his camerafrom around his shoulder, surround the old guy.The supervisor STEPS BACK INTO FRAME. SUPERVISOR Im going to close the door for 30 minutes... 30 minutes is all you have.The supervisor EXITS, CLOSING the door behind her.Simultaneously, Horace MOVES to Fuzz and begins to gentlyREMOVE the wheelchair bound mans baseball cap.
  • 52. 51. DISSOLVE:INT. FUZZ ROOM - MINUTES LATER - DAYWE SEE Wilbert carefully beginning the process of REAPPLYINGBANDAGES to Fuzz head, which like the others, PRESENTS thecrusting of the upper portions of his ears, complete withthe scaling and so forth. His head has not deterioratednearly as much as Vertus head. Fuzz is unaffected by itall.INT. NURSING HOME HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS - DAYCAMERA TRUCKS ALONG with the supervisor - as she STEPS tothe door of Fuzz room and OPENS the DOOR to SEE:Horace PLACING Fuzz cap back on his head. CUT TO:INT. HOTEL ROOM - THAT NIGHT - NIGHTVertus and Wilbert RECLINE in their respective beds; theLIGHT on the table which separates the two beds is still on.Wilbert is PROPPED up on extra pillows as he LOOKS at PHOTOStaken earlier that day on the Canon REVIEWER.Vertus has his hands CLASPED behind his head, evening WRAPin place, STARING up at the ceiling.WILBERTS POVHe looks intently at a PHOTO of Vertus and Gletus as theyPOSE TOGETHER. The photo features the back of their heads.BACK TO THE SCENE WILBERT We now have photographs of all of the survivors (from that dreadful day).Vertus measures whats just been said. VERTUS Wilbert, I never thought I would get back here for this kind of fellowship. There is no better way to come back home. (then) (MORE)
  • 53. 52. VERTUS (contd) The Good Lord has certainly blessed us to live into our golden years. WILBERT (beat) How are you feeling about tomorrow? Returning to the hospital?Vertus doesnt offer anything, but just CLOSES HIS EYES.PULL FOCUS ON VERTUS DISSOLVE:INT. WILBERTS ALLSTATE OFFICE - TWO YEARS EARLIER - DAYWE again FLASHBACK TWO YEARS. SOUND BRIDE: A RINGING PHONE.WE FEATURE Susan, who is not alone in the office. SheANSWERS the phone: SUSAN (into the phone) Hello... (pausing) Hey Vertus... (beat) Sure, hes here. How are you doing, young man?Wilbert STEPS INTO FRAME and Susan HANDS the phone to him.INT. VERTUS LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYVertus PACES in his living room - his ear ATTACHED to hisland-line BLACK ROTARY phone. Hes got on a BLUE beanie. WILBERT (O.S.) (via phone) Vertus, thanks for returning my call. I was wondering whether you are free for lunch? I have something very important Id like to talk over with you.
  • 54. 53.INT. PASADENA CAFE - LATER THAT DAY - DAYVertus sits across the table from Wilbert in the smallfacility, diligently CUTTING and EATING his chicken salad.Wilberts got a chicken salad too that he has barelytouched. There are a FEW other CUSTOMERS eating lunch. WILBERT Im telling you, I havent been able to think about anything else since you shared your secret with me, Vertus. I cant work, I cant sleep... I believe you have a special ministry that needs to be shared with the world... (finally) We sang in that choir side by side for twenty years; this is Gods move... This is something Ive been in deep prayer about: I want to write a book about your life.Vertus PUSHES his plate away. WILBERT Mind you, I dont expect an answer right away. And mind you, Im no professional writer per se, but Ive had articles published; Im a Ph.D. for Heaven sake. (then) Think about it. VERTUS (a beat) Ive spent my life trying to FORGET this... (shakes his head) I trusted you, (Wilbert).Vertus is visibly shaken. He gets up and walks out of thecafe.Wilbert STANDS, REMOVES a couple of $10 bills from hiswallet which he PLACES on the table, then TAKES OUT afterVertus.EXT. FAIR OAKS - FEATURING WILBERT - CONTINUOUS - DAYHe begins to HALF JOG towards Vertus who is up ahead, pastFOOT TRAFFIC, which is considerable for such a lovely day inPasadena.
  • 55. 54.When he reaches Vertus, Wilbert doesnt say anything - butinstead begins to WALK with him.EXT. GREEN STREET OLD TOWN PASADENA - LATER - DAYVertus and Wilbert walk side by side down the street, amid aCROWD of PEOPLE going here and there. WILBERT Im sorry if I upset you... This thing you live with everyday is haunting me... I feel like I need to DO something. I want to take a giant microphone and scream to the world - "Look what was done to this human being!" (beat) Im a "fix it" kind of guy; its who I am. You KNOW that Vertus... Its in my DNA. Let me take your story to the world.Vertus STOPS WALKING and places a gentle hand on WilbertsARM: VERTUS Please, Wilbert... Everything is not fixable... You dont understand what it does to me every time I look in a mirror. (shaking head) Leave it alone, my friend. Leave it alone...EXT. CITY HALL BENCH - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - DAYWilbert and Vertus sit on the SAME bench where they seem tofind peace and solace. This time its Wilbert who isemotionally bound. WILBERT (resigned) Ive been in the insurance game so long sometimes I dont even recognize when Im in sell mode. I dont know what makes me think you want to share your story with the world when youve spent 80 years doing the opposite (thing)...
  • 56. 55.Vertus just listens, letting Wilbert do the talking. WILBERT (picking up) Susan says Im not being haunted by what they did to you, that Im still grieving the loss of my father... (and) that he and I never got things settled between us... Hell, Ive said THAT to HER. But really... HEARING her say it (back to me)... HEARING her speak the words... (voice trails off) Vertus, you MUST know me as a man who cares deeply for the things important to me... I cried like a baby when I learned your condition was terminal. VERTUS I know...Wilbert shifts on the bench; he is very uncomfortable. WILBERT Ive been a man not known to share my emotions easily. Its just who I am. (a beat) I havent shed one solitary tear for my father. Not one. (then) He walked out on my mom, he walked out on our family. (another beat) It was up to ME as the oldest to be the man of the house.Wilberts SMART PHONE begins to ALERT; he takes it out andTURNS if OFF. WILBERT 6000 years of human history WITHOUT these things. (beat) Yeah, Im the oldest all right... In the end, I was the one the doctors consulted about pulling the plug...TEARS begin to WELL UP in Wilberts eyes. He SHAKES hisHEAD.
  • 57. 56. WILBERT I cant believe that dude actually died on me... CUT TO:INT. SMITH FAMILY ROOM - SEVERAL DAYS LATER - DAYCAMERA FEATURES Wilbert and Susan relaxing on a very plushwhite leather SECTIONAL looking at a leading-edge FLATSCREEN TELEVISION. An EPISODE of the SIMPSONS is on, andthey LAUGH as BLEEDING GUMS MURPHY does an elongated versionof the STAR SPANGLED BANNER.INSERT SOUND BRIDGE: RINGING DOORBELLWilbert HANDS the REMOTE CONTROL to Susan and goes to theFRONT DOOR, CAMERA LEADING.EXT. SMITH HOME - CONTINUOUS - DAYVertus stands at the FRONT DOOR; WE HEAR the running ENGINEof his MUSTANG:Wilbert OPENS the FRONT DOOR: VERTUS If you wrote some sort of book, how often would we have to meet? FADE OUT.FADE IN:EXT. HAMPTON INN - DAYTo ESTABLISH it is the PRESENT DAY.INT. /EXT. VAN RENTAL - DAYWilbert DRIVES to the front of the hotel, just as VertusEXITS the building and GETS IN the van. Hes got TWO CUPS ofCOFFEE in HAND.The van PEELS AWAY and they drive off into the day.
  • 58. 57.EXT. RESTORED LYLES CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL - DAYVertus and Wilbert, who has set up his tripod and Canon,STAND IN FRAME facing the "LYLES CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL" sign;the restored school building is in the b.g.Wilbert begins to DISASSEMBLE the tripod and camera. WILBERT Ive got some pretty good shots even if I say so myself. VERTUS (a beat) Smell that air, Wilbert. Its the secret to living so long, the Lyles Station air... Its such a lovely day... (walks closer to building) Uncle Joes office was on the second floor. Naturally he could see EVERYTHING (from there)... If you did something wrong, Uncle Joe knew about it. I can almost see my schoolmates playing... boys on ONE side of the walkway, girls on the other... WILBERT (takes look at wristwatch) Wed better get a move on... (Are) you ready? (then) (I hope you) remember what I said: you dont have to do this... Its not necessary to get the book done. Im telling you straight up, Vertus. Its your call, completely. I drove by and got pictures of the old hospital while you were napping yesterday.Vertus does not say anything but grunts thoughtfully, thenTURNS and heads for the van [which is not VISIBLE in thisSHOT]. DISSOLVE:
  • 59. 58.INT. /EXT. VAN RENTAL - SEVERAL MINUTES LATER - DAYWilbert DRIVES the van up in front of GIBSON COUNTYSANITARIUM (as it is now known) and PARKS leaving the ENGINERUNNING; there is a CAR PARKED out front, but other thanthat the building looks ABANDONED.INT. VAN RENTAL - FEATURING VERTUS - CONTINUOUS - DAYHe STARES intently at the one time hospital. CAMERA IS TIGHTon Vertus, who is in SEPIA COLOR TONE. WILBERT (O.S.) Ill pull around to the back.OUT OF FRAME, Wilbert STARTS the van and DRIVES to the backof the present day sanitarium, and PARKS, TURNING off theMOTOR. CUT TO:EXT. GIBSON GENERAL HOSPITAL - DAYTo ESTABLISH were BACK in 1927 again, this time in FULLLIVING COLOR.INT. OLD DODGE - FEATURING YOUNG VERTUS - DAYHe still CLINGS to young Melvin, as Mr. Clift DRIVES theDodge to the REAR of the BUILDING.EXT. REAR OF HOSPITAL - FEATURING PRESENT DAY VERTUS - DAYPresent day Vertus - still in SEPIA COLOR TONE - STANDS afew feet away, WATCHING/HEARING the old Dodge engine WHEEZEto a SHUT DOWN, the entire vehicle "shivering."EXT. HOSPITAL BACK ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe old Dodge DOOR OPENS and Mr. Clift STEPS OUT - followedby the CHILDREN, one by one. He leads them towards the BACKENTRANCE; there isnt one child who isnt TREMBLING.Young Vertus continues to BRING UP THE REAR, staying closeto his brother.
  • 60. 59. MR. CLIFT (looking back) Children, try to stay in single file...PULL FOCUSINT. HOSPITAL FLIGHT OF STAIRS - CONTINUOUS - DAYMr. Clift LEADS the ten children down a short flight ofSTAIRS into the BASEMENT. VERTUS (V.O.) I remember EVERYTHING about that day. EVERYTHING; even though it was eighty years ago... We were led into a DUNGEON within a hospital...INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS - DAYMr. Clift is FEATURED as he LEADS the children through thebrief hallway; at the end of the path STANDS DR. ELLIS -white, about 60 years old. He wears a knee-length whitecoat. VERTUS (V.O.) We were in a strange land where cruel and unusual punishment was our destiny.Dr. Ellis STEPS FORWARD offering no greeting. VERTUS (V.O.) Dr. Ellis, a very tall man, seemed to tower over us. In a cruel irony, he was the attending physician who signed my birth certificate.Mr. Clift HANDS the PERMISSION SLIPS to Dr. Ellis, thenBECKONS the children FORWARD, like a "mother hen" and herchicks.CAMERA FEATURES young Vertus - who begins to CRY. YoungMelvin tries to COMFORT his sibling. VERTUS (V.O.) I remember it being uncomfortably chilling. Ill never forget the smell of that place.
  • 61. 60.Dr. Ellis EXAMINES each and every permission slip to ensurethey are properly signed. DR. ELLIS (matter-of-fact) Mr. Clift, this may take a while longer than we initially thought... it may be best to wait outside...When Mr. Clift HESITATES, Dr. Ellis gives him a LOOK. MR. CLIFT Y-Yes sir... yes sir...Mr. Clift KNEELS down to the children: MR. CLIFT (cotto) These nice people are going to make those awful ringworms go away. It wont hurt.THE TENS POVMr. Clift TURNS and heads back to the stairs.BACK TO THE SCENEDr. Ellis LEADS the ten into a SMALL ROOM which adjoins thehallway.INT. BASEMENT HOLDING ROOM - DAYDr. Ellis USHERS the ten inside a room barely the size of aprison cell. VERTUS (O.S.) We were ushered into a room no larger than a typical prison cell... (then) Did I say Ill never forget the smell of that place?THREE TECHNICIANS - all white, two female and one male,mid-twenties - quickly ENTER the small room, which isnothing more than a closet of sorts.One of the technicians, well call her MANDY - the moreattractive of the two women - immediately begins to pay
  • 62. 61.close attention to young Vertus. He is clearly the youngestand continually WIPES TEARS from his large EYES.EXT. REAR OF HOSPITAL - MR. CLIFT - CONTINUOUS - DAYWE can SEE Mr. Clift through the OPEN DOOR: He SITS in theold Dodge, looking somewhat perplexed; he TAKES out hisPOCKET WATCH and notes the time.INT. ASSESSMENT ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYThis space, which also ADJOINS the small hallway, containsseveral PIECES of sophisticated MACHINERY [for that day intime]. Dr. Ellis and the male technician MOVE INTO FRAME,taking their SEATS behind a DESK which contains a bunch ofGRAPHS, HAND WRITTEN NOTES and other PAPERWORK.INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - MANDY - CONTINUOUS - DAYMandy and the third technician USHER the ten into the tinycorridor, with Melvin and Vertus bringing up the rear.Meanwhile, the third technician PEELS OFF and WALKS down thehallway toward the TREATMENT ROOM, at the very end. MANDY Sit against the wall and cross your legs. (gives Ella Mae a helping hand)The ten do as told, SITTING on the dirty floor their backsagainst the WALL; young Gletus is at the FRONT of the row ofchildren.INT. TREATMENT ROOM - THIRD TECHNICIAN - CONTINUOUS - DAYCAMERA FEATURES the third technician as she steps to theWOODEN HIGH-BACK CHAIR - which she WIPES DOWN with ALCOHOLPOURED onto a LARGE TOWEL. Then TURNING - the technicianGRABS SEVERAL LARGE BOOKS which are PLACED upon the SEAT ofthe chair.The CAMERA CLOSES IN as she begins to WIPE DOWN theRESTRAINTS, attached to the ARMS of the chair, and theHAT-LIKE DEVICE, which is WHITE in color with purplestriping - and ELECTRICAL WIRING that connects to a nearbyLARGE MACHINE.The technician works PURPOSEFULLY as she quickly CHECKS and
  • 63. 62.RECHECKS the wire connection extending from the "hat" to theungodly machine.A DIFFERENT ANGLETurning to a LARGE RADIO, the technician TURNS the radio on,increasing the VOLUME to muffle any potential noise thechildren can hear in the hallway.PIVOTING, the technician turns and PULLS a LARGE LEADPARTITION between the CHAIR and the MACHINE. It MAKES anUNHOLY RACKET which ECHOES into the hallway.BACK WITH YOUNG VERTUSHe PUTS his HANDS to his EARS as the MUSIC from the radioand the NOISE of the PARTITION begin DRAGGED across aCONCRETE FLOOR continues. VERTUS (V.O.) It was a sound that HAUNTS me to this day...CAMERA WIDENS TO REVEAL:Mandy LEADING the young terrified Gletus into the room,where he is HANDED OFF to the female technician, who HELPSthe lad CLIMB UP onto the chair.INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS - DAYMandy MOVES INTO FRAME and immediately SCOOTS the childrendown to FILL THE VOID left by Gletus - closer to thetreatment room door.BACK WITH YOUNG GLETUSThe technician STRAPS the AD HOC restraints to his ARMS-securely FASTENING them to the chair arm - then she PLACESthe over-sized hat, obviously meant for an adult, onto hishead.The head covering rests just above the eyebrows and coversthe top portion of the ears. THIRD TECNICIAN (firmly) Dont move.
  • 64. 63.INT. ASSESSMENT ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYYoung Gletus is LED into FRAME whimpering like a small PUP,TEARS streaming down his round face.He is HANDED OFF to the male technician, who EXAMINES thechilds scull for SIGNS of SCALP BURNS - which there are,HAIR LOSS, etc.Dr. Ellis MOVES IN - clipboard in HAND, JOTTING DOWN NOTES. YOUNG GLETUS My HEAD is on FIRE! DR. ELLIS Youll be fine... Try and relax. YOUNG GLETUS (crying) It HURTS! VERTUS (V.O) Dr. Ellis was not interested in curing ringworm; his only concern was our reaction to the radiation... (alas) And the dollars being generated for a hospital that was going under financially.INT. TREATMENT ROOM - FEATURING ELLA MAE - CONTINUOUS - DAYShe has already been STRAPPED to the chair with the hat uponher head, and SITS there whimpering. THIRD TECNICIAN SIT STILL.A DIFFERENT ANGLEThe technician STEPS behind the partition to the machine,but first INCREASES the radio VOLUME, next she CHECKS herNOTES. Finally the technician TURNS the DIAL CLOCKWISE,which INCREASES the amount of RADIATION being dispensed -then THROWS the SWITCH ON.BACK WITH ELLA MAEWE SEE A FLASH - and the child SCREAMS OUT IN PAIN! SheWRITHES in the chair KICKING HER LEGS.
  • 65. 64.INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe eight children still seated on the floor REACT to theHYSTERICAL Ella Mae - who is LED by the female technicianout of the treatment room and down the hallway to theassessment area.TWO KIDS get to their feet - notably Melvin and youngHorace. Mandy does her best to QUIET the children - tolittle avail, and she is forced to RESTRAIN the two standingboys!INT. OLD DODGE - REAR OF HOSPITAL - DAYMr. Clift, seated in the parked vehicle, has DOZED OFF -when something in his SPIRIT JOLTS him from his SLEEP. HeSHAKES OFF the drowsiness, sitting tall, then taking anotherLOOK at his pocket watch.INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS - DAYHorace is FORCIBLY handed to the female technician by Mandy,OUT OF TURN! The young child BATTLES all the way inside thetreatment room. [SLOW MOTION EFFECT would be good here.]Now only THREE children remain: young Fuzz, young Melvin andVertus. Mandy tries to calm them as best she can, and Melvinhas completely WRAPPED his ARMS around his brother. They areall on their feet.CAMERA CLOSES IN ON MANDYShe WIPES the SWEAT from her brow with the SLEEVE of her nowBLEMISHED lab coat; it is no longer pristine but SOILED withblood, dirt and the other human excretions, such as VOMIT.Mandys EYES ENLARGE as she HEARS Horaces BLOOD CURLINGSCREAM emanate from the treatment room.INT. ASSESSMENT ROOM - FEATURING MALE TECHNICIAN - DAYHe has completely abandoned the scientific aspect of theexperiment, and GATHERED the SEVEN crying, hystericalchildren into a small HUDDLE of sorts; the technicians labcoat has been badly soiled.Dr. Ellis, his lab coat an absolute MESS - MOVES INTO FRAMEwith a couple of WET TOWELS, one of which he HANDS to thetechnician and together they attempt to TEND THE WOUNDS leftby the radiation treatment.
  • 66. 65.During the ensuing dialog, an hysterical Horace is broughtinto the room by the female technician, kicking andscreaming. VERTUS (V.O.) I make it a point of reading the Hippocratic Oath as often as I read John three and sixteen, "For God so loved the world..." (beat) "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment... and never do harm to anyone." Close quote... (with emphasis) And NEVER do HARM... And NEVER do HARM... (alas) This was the behavior of DOCTORS... DOCTORS... God help us.INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - FEATURING YOUNG VERTUS - DAYSuddenly - THERE IS NO SOUND - as he WATCHES in horror asyoung Fuzz is taken from the treatment room by the femaletechnician, barely able to WALK UNDER HIS OWN POWER, andMelvin is TAKEN into the treatment room by Mandy, thusseparating the two brothers for the first time.INT. GIBSON GENERAL HOSPITAL - CONTINUOUS - DAYIt is a NORMAL day in the LOBBY (1927) as PATIENTS andMEDICAL PERSONNEL - ALL WHITE - step through their normaldaily paces, which flies in the face of the insane HORRORtaking place in "real time" downstairs.INT. TREATMENT ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe female technical BODILY LIFTS Vertus and sits him onchair. The child is surprisingly subdued, as his little ARMSare STRAPPED down and the hat placed on his small head.Vertus has apparently accepted his fate. Or could it be hehas cried so many tears he has none left?It is Mandy who TURNS the radio to its peak in terms ofVOLUME.Vertus STRETCHES his short LEGS as far out as possible:
  • 67. 66. VERTUS (V.O.) As I anticipated the PAIN sure to come - I stretched my legs as far forward as I possibly could, as if by some small miracle I could reach the floor. And if I could reach the floor, I could surely run away. (beat) Or is this something Ive dreamed a million times as I relive that day?INT. ASSESSMENT ROOM - FEATURING MELVIN - DAYThe male technician is having a very hard time trying tocontrol and corral the badly WOUNDED Melvin, who is givingeverything hes got to break away! YOUNG MELVIN (jumping up and down) My brother... my brother... my brother...A DIFFERENT ANGLEAs Mandy is FEATURED giving "comfort" to Ella Mae - whonearly LIES PRONE on the filthy floor.The CAMERA ANGLE WIDENS to reveal Dr. Ellis giving AID toHorace, trying to get the wounded child to DRINK from a CUPOF WATER. Amazingly, also giving COMFORT to several of theothers - is Gletus - who received the least amount ofradiation.BACK WITH MELVINHe breaks away - heading for the STAIRS!INT. HOSPITAL FLIGHT OF STAIRS - FEATURING MELVIN - DAYMelvin BOUNDS up the stairs two at a time!EXT. HOSPITAL BACK ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe DOOR comes OPEN and Melvin comes FLYING out!
  • 68. 67.EXT. REAR OF HOSPITAL - OLD DODGE - CONTINUOUS - DAYMelvin REACHES the old Dodge as he is in the midst ofHEAVING UNCONTROLLABLE VOMIT - slipping to one KNEE fromexhaustion!A DIFFERENT ANGLEMr. Clift is quick to REACT: MR. CLIFT (upon SEEING Melvin) MY GOD! (then) Wait on the bus, son!Mr. Clift LIFTS Melvin up and PUTS him on the bus!INT. TREATMENT ROOM - THIRD TECHNICIAN - CONTINUOUS - DAYShe STANDS behind the partition at the machine and INCREASESthe amount of radiation to be dispensed, one last time.CAMERA PANS AROUND the partition to Vertus, who SITS QUIETLYon the books awaiting fates judgment for him.WE SEE THE FLASH - that seems to go on for a short"eternity" and WATCH the poor child SCREAM OUT from theincredibly INTENSE PAIN!Finally the TORTURE ends, and Vertus GOES LIMP, having lostCONSCIOUSNESS.A CLOSER ANGLEAs the technician COMES AROUND the partition to the LIMPchild and REMOVES the hat: Vertus SCALP looks like it hasMELTED. There is a defined LINE that CIRCLES thecircumference of his head just above the eyebrows. THIRD TECNICIAN Oh my God, Ive given him too much.Dr. Ellis MOVES double time into the treatment room! Vertusbegins to come around to HEAR:
  • 69. 68. THIRD TECNICIAN (white as sheet) Ive given him too much. (beat) My God - Ive given him too much.The technician can only SHAKE HER HEAD as Dr. Ellis beginsto RELEASE the RESTRAINTS from young Vertus ARMS, just asMr. Clift MOVES INTO FRAME: MR. CLIFT What have you people done to these children?Mr.Clift MOVES and SCOOPS young Vertus up in his ARMS all inone MOTION, brushing Dr. Ellis aside.EXT. REAR OF HOSPITAL - OLD DODGE - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe male technician and Mandy have already HELPED fivechildren ON-BOARD - and PRESENTLY they assist TWO others, asyoung Gletus WAITS his turn under his own power!They are soon JOINED by Mr. Clift - Vertus yet in his ARMS.Mr. Clift boards the vehicle and LAYS Vertus on one theEMPTY SEATS.INT. /EXT. OLD DODGE - CONTINUOUS - DAYWith all of the children on the rickety old Dodge, Mr. CliftSTARTS the ENGINE and DRIVES AWAY, nearly RUNNING OVER Mandyand the male technician - who can only stand there indismay, almost DAZED as they SEE the Dodge DISAPPEAR FROMVIEW.WE HEAR the FRANTIC RINGING of the DISTRESS BELL! FADE OUT.FADE IN:EXT. ELLIOTT HOME - SEVERAL WEEKS LATER - NIGHTTo ESTABLISH it is still 1927.The place is a very "upper middle class" - three storycountry home with a veranda to die for, and of course, theproverbial WHITE PICKET FENCE.
  • 70. 69. VERTUS (V.O.) Several weeks later there were still only a few people outside of the colored community who knew something horrible had taken place in the Gibson Hospital basement.INT. ELLIOTT DINNING ROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTIt is dinner time in the Elliott household, as TRUMAN -white, 60, his wife GANNE, also white and 60 years old, andMandy are in the midst of EATING their meal. But Mandy hasbarely touched her food - as RUTHY - Negro about 50, themaid, COMES into the dinning room from the kitchen. Shewears an apron. RUTHY Is ever thing okay, Miss Mandy? MANDY (beat) Its fine Ruthy, I just havent had much of an appetite (lately)... RUTHY Would you like for me to save it fo ya? For later, Mam? MANDY Please do...As Ruthy MOVES to take Mandys PLATE away: GANNE (breaking in) Hold it, Ruthy... you need to eat something, Mandy... youre starting to look like a starved bird. TRUMAN GAnne... If she doesnt want to eat-- GANNE Stay out of this Truman... (then) I dont know whats going on with you, but if you want to be treated like a child, Ill treat you like a child. (finally) (MORE)
  • 71. 70. GANNE (contd) Youre not leaving this table until you finish your dinner. Ive had enough of your mopping about here.Suddenly, Mandy becomes OVERWROUGHT with EMOTION - RISESfrom the table, WHIRLS and DASHES UPSTAIRS, in truecinematic fashion! TRUMAN What was THAT all about?GAnne THROWS her napkin on the table and PUSHES her chairout, STANDING. GANNE Im getting to the bottom of this (right now)...GAnne MOVES around the table to the STAIRS, which sheASCENDS. Ruthy and Truman are left to ponder what has takenplace. TRUMAN (a beat) Well... so much for dinner.. (makes eye contact with Ruthy) Any idea what this is about?Ruthy MOVES to begin CLEARING THE TABLE. TRUMAN ...Ruthy? RUTHY M-Mister Truman, I do my work and I mind my OWN business... TRUMAN I happen to know that girl tells you everthing; you been round here since she was crawlin round on all fours...Ruthy STOPS her "busy" work and in exasperation, SITS at theTABLE. RUTHY (with a push) Mandy DID say somethin bout the hospital doin some experiments or somethin on some colored children (MORE)
  • 72. 71. RUTHY (contd) from Lyles Station. Thats all that I know. (then) She said the top of those childrens heads were pret(ty) near burned off.ON TRUMANS REACTION CUT TO:INT. MANDYS UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe room reflects a decidedly nice decor of 1927 farmliving. Mandy SITS on the side of the bed, prettydespondent; GAnne STANDS over Mandy, ARMS FOLDED: MANDY Dr. Ellis said that the radiation was to treat ringworm... but it was clear after the very first treatment that wasnt true... It just wasnt right, mama. It just wasnt right what was done to the those children.A very concerned Truman ENTERS the ROOM. MANDY (continuing) And I helped it happen, mama... I helped it happen. (finally) Ill never step foot in that place again...GAnne and Truman exchange glances. DISSOLVE:EXT. VERTUS CHILDHOOD HOME - LATER THAT NIGHT - NIGHTA BRAND NEW 1927 FORD sits out front of the Hardiman home. VERTUS (V.O.) I have no memory of white people ever stepping foot in our home, but its a story my mother Irene would tell from time to time as the years rolled on by... (a beat) (MORE)
  • 73. 72. VERTUS (contd) I do know the Klan was active in that part of the country (at that time) - and the Elliotts were taking a personal risk...INT. VERTUS CHILDHOOD HOME - CONTINUOUS - NIGHTTruman STANDS near the FRONT DOOR, nervously PEAKING OUTinto nightfall through the CURTAINS - as GAnne, Mandy andRuthy, without her APRON, are seated on the DIVAN - a fewfeet from CLAUDE, 35, tall and black as the night. Hismuscular ARMS are folded and we can tell he is notcompletely comfortable with the unfolding scene, as IreneUSHERS her sons Melvin and Vertus into the room.Both BOYS wear flat caps - which Irene REMOVES - as they arein essence, PRESENTED to GAnne and Mandy. VERTUS (V.O.) Although my dad was never outwardly hostile to white people, he wasnt exactly trustful of them either... The events at Gibson General Hospital did not help...A CLOSER ANGLEGAnne SITS on the edge of the divan as see PUTS ON HERSPECTACLES to take a close up LOOK-SEE at the HAIRLESS RAWSCALP condition of each boy. Mandy GETS UP and dramaticallyMOVES AWAY as she BEHOLDS the spectacle of the damage theradiation hath wrought. VERTUS (V.O.) But it was Mrs. GAnne Elliott - who was solely responsible for bringing a lawsuit against Gibson General Hospital, on behalf of the Lyles Station Ringworm Children...And as GAnne LAYS HANDS ON to examine the UNSIGHTLY WOUNDS,first Melvins , then Vertus, who is much worse off, sheREMOVES her HANDKERCHIEF from her PURSE to WIPE TEARS FROMHER EYES. For her part, Ruthy STANDS and MOVES to Mandyoffering a comforting EMBRACE. VERTUS (V.O.) Even though the lawsuit was eventually thrown out of court - after all, there were those so-called permission slips... Dr. Ellis was forced to leave the (MORE)
  • 74. 73. VERTUS (contd) hospital - and his practice as a physician was never the same... DISSOLVE:EXT. REAR OF HOSPITAL - PRESENT DAY - DAYWere back in the PRESENT DAY - as Vertus STANDS facing therear entrance door - as though in a STUPOR. Wilbert gets outof the van, which is PARKED several feet from Vertus, MOVINGUP along side the olden man.Vertus POINTS to the TOP of the basement WINDOWS, which areVISIBLE from their vantage point: VERTUS The experiments happened down there.Wilbert NODS.WIDER CAMERA ANGLEBRUCE BYERS, white, about 40 and slightly overweight - comesfrom the FRONT of the building - APPROACHING Vertus andWilbert. BRUCE Hi... May I help you? Im the owner, Bruce Byers... Are you here to pick up an order? WILBERT (a beat) Oh, were sorry. We thought the property was abandoned. (then) Im Wilbert Smith... Im a writer- producer from California, and this is Vertus Hardiman...Bruce SHAKES HANDS first with Vertus then Wilbert. BRUCE (to Wilbert) You know, you look just like the guy who does those Allstate commercials...
  • 75. 74. WILBERT I get that a lot... (picking up) Actually, were here because Im writing a book about Vertus and nine other children who were treated for ringworm in 1927 with radiation... BRUCE 1927? Radiation? Are you serious? This was a hospital for heaven sake. (a beat) You want to come inside? Come on. WILBERT Really? Its okay?Bruce USHERS Wilbert and Vertus around the SIDE of thebuilding and OUT OF FRAME.EXT. GIBSON GENERAL HOSPITAL - CONTINUOUS - DAYCAMERA PICKS UP Bruce LEADING Wilbert, with Vertus bringingup the REAR. As they ASCEND the STAIRS - Vertus is suddenlyGASPING for AIR - close to FAINTING. Wilbert provides aHELPFUL HAND, as Bruce OPENS the DOOR: WILBERT (to Vertus) I got this. (alas) Youve come a long way...Vertus NODS that he has.INT. GIBSON GENERAL HOSPITAL - CONTINUOUS - DAYBruce, Wilbert and Vertus MAKE ENTRY into the large room,FILLED with rows of BOXES and BOXES of COPY PAPER, XEROXMACHINES and the like, and FIVE working EMPLOYEES - 3 whitemales, early 20s; one white female and one black female,early 20s. They pay little or NO ATTENTION to Bruce and hisguests.A hallway leading off the main room leads down an aisle pastrooms once used for hospital patients.
  • 76. 75.Vertus has seemingly AGED dramatically in the few seconds hehas stood in what was once the foyer of Gibson GeneralHospital; this fact is not LOST on Bruce: BRUCE (to Wilbert) Is he all right?Wilbert USHERS Vertus to a nearby CHAIR, in which theelderly man SITS. Wilbert EYES a WATER COOLER to hisimmediate left: WILBERT (begins to FAN Vertus) Some water, please...Bruce MOVES to the cooler and POURS a CUP OF WATER - whichhe PIVOTS and HANDS to Wilbert.A CLOSER ANGLEVertus is ASHEN and close to passing out. Wilbert HELPSVertus DRINK a few swallows of the water. WILBERT (cotto; to Bruce) He hasnt set foot in this building in eighty years; not since the day of the experiment... VERTUS (with a push) Im okay. WILBERT (to Bruce) Our plan was to get some footage of the outside of the building, I had no idea we would actually be allowed inside... BRUCE (a beat) Well? WILBERT Well, what? BRUCE Wheres your camera? CUT TO:
  • 77. 76.INT. GIBSON GENERAL HOSPITAL - MOMENTS LATER - DAYBruce stands at the DOOR leading to the BASEMENT, which heUNLOCKS with a KEY on its own KEY CHAIN; Wilbert STANDSbehind him, CAMCORDER in HAND [film rolling] with Vertusbringing up the rear, as usual. WILBERT How often do you go down to the basement? BRUCE Only when necessary... usually for maintenance related issues.Bruce PROCEEDS to YANK the over-sized door across the floor,which causes a very loud SCRUBBING NOISE. BRUCE (PULLS out FLASHLIGHT) Its been at least a year since I was last down there...The THREE STEP inside PAST the door.INT. BASEMENT FRONT STAIRS - CONTINUOUS - DAY BRUCE No light...Bruce SWITCHES on the flashlight, as correspondingly,Wilbert SWITCHES ON the camcorder LIGHT. BRUCE Watch your step, please.The STAIRWAY is really SPOOKY, dark and FILLED with drapedSPIDER WEBS - which Bruce SWEEPS AWAY with an OLD BROOM,which conveniently leaned against the aging wall, as theyproceed DOWNWARD.INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - FAVORING BRUCE - DAYHe carefully NAVIGATES what is an OBSTACLE COURSE of DEADPIGEON CARCASSES, RAIN GUTTERS, ANTIQUE FILE CABINETS, anOLD TELEPHONE SWITCHBOARD and PLUMBING PARTS. BRUCE Youve REALLY got to watch your step...
  • 78. 77.A DIFFERENT ANGLEIt is time for Vertus to face his "demons" eye to eye - asWE SEE him summon RESOLVE from somewhere deep within WILLthat cant be quantified. Amazingly he MOVES PAST Wilbert toBruce - TAKING the FLASHLIGHT and stepping ahead: VERTUS (referencing a specific SPACE along the WALL) Here. This is where I was sitting when my brother Melvin was torn away from me. (beat) One of the women... Ill never forget her face, held me tightly to her, but she couldnt save me. (another beat) This is the spot. Ill never forget it.Now Vertus turns to face what was once his "torturechamber." He is deliberate as he STEPS into the onetimetreatment room that adjoins the hallway:INT. TREATMENT ROOM - VERTUS - CONTINUOUS - DAYNow, separated from the other two men, Vertus TURNS theflashlight to ILLUMINATE the area where the dreadfulradiation machine once stood.CAMERA CLOSESVertus STEPS INSIDE the treatment room, moving to the verySPOT where the wooden chair once sat. VERTUS Thank you Father God for giving me the strength...Vertus begins to WEEP; but not tears of fear or sorrow...but TEARS OF JOY from having overcome.A WIDER CAMERA ANGLEWilbert STEPS to Vertus side: VERTUS (dries his eyes) Those demons have finally released me, Wilbert. Now I can replace them with a flock of doves to (MORE)
  • 79. 78. VERTUS (contd) guide me home...CAMERA HOLDS ON VERTUS CUT TO:INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - FAVORING VERTUS - DAYIt is Vertus who LEADS THE WAY out of this dungeon of sorts,followed by Bruce and Wilbert. He OPENS the connection doorand all three DISAPPEAR into the building foyer.INT. GIBSON GENERAL HOSPITAL - CONTINUOUS - DAYCAMERA FEATURES Bruce - who HANDS the basement KEY toVertus. Its obvious that Bruce "gets it." He knows on acellular-level what this has meant to the older man. Brucegives Vertus a warm SMILE.A DIFFERENT ANGLEVertus triumphantly CLOSES the basement DOOR, and LOCKS IT. VERTUS (hands KEYS to Bruce) Well Bruce, I want to thank you for taking the time to show us around. I wish you could know what this has done for me.Vertus graciously SHAKES Bruces hand; Wilbert follows SUITafter TURNING OFF the camcorder. DISSOLVE:INSERT - DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGEThe REAL VERTUS HARDIMAN gives the doxology, so to speak,out in FRONT of the Gibson General Hospital. He gives THANKSfor Gods faithfulness, in essence. DISSOLVE:EXT. THE BYERS HOME - LATER THAT DAY - DAYBruce PULLS his average car up into the driveway of hisaverage home, TURNS off the engine - gets out of the car andgoes up on the PORCH and inside the house.
  • 80. 79.INT. THE BYERS HOME - CONTINUOUS - DAYBruce walks into the modestly FURNISHED living room to beMET by his wife, SHANNON, white, mid-thirties. She GIVES hima quick PECK on the LIPS. BRUCE Hey you. SHANNON How was your day?EXT. DELTA JETLINER TAKING OFF - DAYThe jet TAXIS RIGHT to LEFT - then there is LIFT OFF. Vertusand Wilbert are heading home.EXT. SMITH HOME - MONTHS LATER - DAYThe Smith home HAS BEEN "dressed to beat the band" -complete with a RED CARPET, KLIEG LIGHT, the "full Monty",the WORKS, for the BOMB GALA of the year: VERTUS BIRTHDAYCELEBRATION; in fact WE SEE a SIGN that says just that.Dozens of EXPENSIVE CARS populate the circular driveway,including SEVERAL LIMOUSINES, that have literally taken overthe neighborhood. There are even a few MEDIA TRUCKS VISIBLE,most notably, KTTV TELEVISION. In the b.g. we SEE severalGUESTS who have already arrived - SCALING the red carpet tomake ENTRY into the Smith household.EXT. SMITH HOME BACK YARD - DAYWE SEE WORKERS, male and female - DRESSED in black and white- PUTTING the finishing touches on the SLEW of CHAIRS andTABLES which populate the f.g. - a SEA of RED is thepredominate decoration choice.INT. SMITH UPSTAIRS BEDROOM BATHROOM - DAYSusan, dressed elegantly in an after-five gown whichfeatures a red sash, is WORKING at retying the Wilbertsred bow tie; he is smartly dressed in a black tuxedo. WILBERT Ive never heard Vertus use profanity but he just may when he sees all of this. (then) Its SO UN-VERTUS. He spent a lifetime buying his clothes from (MORE)
  • 81. 80. WILBERT (contd) Goodwill. SUSAN (a beat) Well I think its wonderful. Its a once in a lifetime event honoring a once in a lifetime person... Its a very loving way to say to someone, "your life truly matters..." (alas) The sad thing is, Vertus is a rock star for reasons no one outside of a select few know about. Hes taught me more about the act of forgiveness than anyone I know. WILBERT (a twinkle) Including me? SUSAN ESPECIALLY you... Youve never been known as a shrinking violet... (beat) But I must say Ive seen a change in you the past couple of years... WILBERT So may I quote you? SUSAN About what? WILBERT About Vertus being a rock star... I was wondering what I was going to say when I toast him tonight. SUSAN (a beat) Lets get a move on. Weve got guests.INT. VERTUS FIRST FLOOR CONDO - DAYCAMERA OPENS ON Vertus SEATED in the middle of what is avery neat and orderly living room, with a barbers TARPthrown about his SHOULDERS [as though hes in a barberschair]. Underneath the tarp, Vertus wears a tuxedo complete
  • 82. 81.with a fire-engine red SHIRT and a black western stylechoker. At the moment he is LESS his customary beanie or anyother head covering.A CLOSER ANGLEEXT. VERTUS CONDO BUILDING - MOMENTS LATER - DAYA LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE slowly pulls up in front of theproperty, then the LIMO DRIVER gets out of the driversdoor, TRUCKS around the vehicle to the passenger DOOR whichhe opens.EXT. VERTUS GROUND FLOOR CONDO - CONTINUOUS - DAYThe front door SWINGS OPEN and Vertus walks out with minimumASSISTANCE from Vincent. He has on a very nice HEAD WRAP - ablack nylon fabric or "wave cap" - but WE CAN SEE thatVertus physical condition has definitely WORSENED since histrip back to Indiana.A CLOSER ANGLEVertus head WOUND has now grown to four centimeters by fourcentimeters.Vincent MOVES INTO FRAME with a SPONGE COVERING to DRESS theinjury, which he begins to PUT INTO PLACE with sure,experienced fingers. He WEARS latex gloves to preventcausing infection. Vincent too is DRESSED to "beat theband." DISSOLVE:INT. VERTUS LIMOUSINE - MOMENTS LATER - DAYWe FEATURE Vertus and Vincent SEATED in the plush interior. VERTUS I wish I felt better. My head is killing me. VINCENT (beat) Just do the best you can...Vertus NODS that he will.
  • 83. 82.EXT. SMITH HOME - MINUTES LATER - VERTUS LIMOUSINE - DAYWe FEATURE an AERIAL VIEW as the large vehicle pulls intothe driveway, and GAIL ANDERSON, playing herself withMICROPHONE in HAND, approaches; KTTV CAMERA LADY is also INFRAME.A FEMALE GREETER OPENS THE limousine door and Vertus andVincent get out and START OUT towards the front door: GAIL ANDERSON (V.O.) Vertus Hardiman, tell us how you feel... Today is YOUR day. FADE OUT.