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#105 : An Open Book

Titre en VF: À livre ouvert

La mort d'une reine du porno choque Ruth, qui n'est pas préparée à voir toute cette foule d'amis stars du X envahir sa maison pour rendre un dernier hommage à la défunte. David a une grosse dispute avec Keith au sujet de son désir de remplacer son père comme diacre à l'église familiale. Claire et Ruth veulent passer un peu de temps ensemble et vont rendre visite à leurs cousines à Cleaverian. Nate va à un diner, sans Brenda, avec les parents de celle-ci qui sont tous les deux psychiatres et rencontre le frère de sa petite-amie, Billy.

Plus de détails

Prelude

Scene: Viveca St. John's Apartment

VIVECA ST. JOHN is a middle-aged porn star from the eighties. She is in the bathroom of her apartment, sitting nude in front of the mirror, smoking pot. On the side of the mirror is a small, nude photo of her in her younger days.

Viveca: So I want you to meet this guy I'm going out with tonight, OK? He's kind of a dork, but in a sweet way. He seems real, at least. And he's kinda rich, I think. Kinda. Of course, so was Kadeem, and that was a fucking waste of two years of my life. And ya know what? I knew you never liked Kadeem, so I’m gonna bring this guy home to meet you, and this time, I swear, I will pay attention to what you think, because I am one fuckin' hot shit bitch, and he’s fuckin' lucky to have me. (She gets into the bathtub.) Ooh, that feels so good. Hey, Tito, come hang with me, OK? (We now see that Tito is a cat. He enters the bathroom.) Thank you. Who's my lover? Yes. Yes. Aren't you glad I rescued you? You'd better be fuckin' glad. Cost me 800 bucks in vet bills at a time when things were particularly tight for Mommy, I might add. One good thing about this guy tonight: he's got a big, fat dick, and he fucks like a jackhammer! Those never last.

During this speech, Tito has been jumping onto the side of the tub and standing by the curling iron, which was plugged in. At this moment, he steps on the curling iron, knocking it off balance and accidentally pushing it into the tub as he walks away. VIVECA is electrocuted and dies instantly.

The screen fades to white.

"JEAN LOUISE McARTHUR

'VIVECA ST. JOHN'
SEPTEMBER 9, 1957-FEBRUARY 17, 2001"

Act One

Scene One: St. Bartholomew's Church

RUTH and DAVID are attending services on Sunday morning. The choir is singing. DAVID stares at one of the young men singing in the choir. The man stares back at him and smiles. DAVID begins to feel uncomfortable.

Scene Two: Outside St. Bart's, after services

Father Jack: David, so glad to see you here. It's always nice when someone comes back to the fold.

David: Oh, I've been going to church. I've just been going to a different church.

Father Jack: Really? Which one?

David: St. Stephen's.

Father Jack: In the Palisades?

David: No, St. Stephen's in West Hollywood.

At this moment, FATHER JACK realizes that DAVID is gay. St. Stephen's in West Hollywood is a church whose congregation is primarily homosexual. FATHER JACK gives DAVID a knowing look. FATHER JACK is, himself, an effeminate man.

Father Jack: Well, I hope you always feel as welcome here as you did there.

David: Thanks.

Father Jack: You know, your father was a deacon here, and we still haven't replaced him. I think it would be good for this church to listen to a younger voice. If you're at all interested, I could submit your name to the bishop.

David: Me? A deacon?

Ruth: David, that's wonderful, your father would be so proud.

David: Well, sure. I'd be honored to be considered.

Father Jack: Ruth, how are you holding up?

Ruth: I'm doing OK, Father. Each day is just a little bit easier.

Father Jack: That's what I love hearing.

TRACY appears and pulls DAVID aside.

Tracy: Wow! What a small world! Do you go to this church? I just joined. I was raised Catholic, so I like the whole, you know, ritual part of it. Oooh, you smell good. What is that?

David: Who are you?

Tracy: Oh, my God. I can't believe I've never introduced myself. It seems like we've known each other forever. I'm Tracy Montrose Blair.

David: Hi. I'm David--

Tracy: Fisher. I know. I know who you are.

David: OK. Why?

Tracy: Because my Uncle Walt was buried at your funeral home. Old guy. (DAVID shows no recognition.) Cancer. (Still none.) Had a tattoo of a roulette wheel on his back.

David: (now he remembers) Oh, yes.

Tracy: I have a tattoo. A butterfly.

David: I think you should know that I'm not really available.

Tracy: You have a girlfriend?

David: Yes.

Tracy: Serious?

David: We're engaged.

Tracy: Oh, well, good for you! Most men your age are so commitment-phobic it's pathetic.

David: Yes, men are pigs.

Tracy: Or they're gay. Well, I'm certainly glad to find out you're not gay.

David: I have to go. My mother's waiting.

DAVID returns to RUTH, and TRACY waves and says "Buh-bye!"

Ruth: She seems nice.

David: She seems nuts.

Scene Three: Chenowith Home, pool house

NATE knocks on the door of the pool house of BRENDA's parents home. It is a huge, extravagant-looking house.

Nate: Hello!

Brenda: Out here!

NATE follows her voice through the pool house and goes outside to see BRENDA swimming in the pool.

Nate: Hey.

Brenda: This is the life, huh?

Nate: Apparently. So how often do Mommy and Daddy go away?

Brenda: Oh, constantly. They're very important people. Very important places to go. Lucky for them, I have absolutely nowhere to go. How are you?

Nate: I'm good. It's chilly today. Aren't you cold?

Brenda: Nope.

Nate: (feeling the water) Jeez, it's like a hot tub in here.

Brenda: Mommy and Daddy keep it this hot all the time, even in summer. They're very wasteful.

Nate: That's just wrong.

Scene Four: Pool, a little later

NATE and BRENDA are both naked, swimming in the pool and making out.

Nate: Man, you are--

Brenda: What?

Nate: You're unlike any woman I've ever met.

Brenda: Good.

Nate: You scare me a little.

Brenda: Why?

Nate: I don't know. There's just so much I don't know about you.

Brenda: Me? I am an open book.

They start to make out again, and all of a sudden, MARGARET and BERNARD CHENOWITH, BRENDA's parents, approach the pool.

Margaret: I'm so glad you're bringing your friends home. You know, you haven't done that in years.

Brenda: What are you doing here? You said you'd be gone through the weekend.

Margaret: Yes, it's Sunday. It's the end of the weekend.

Brenda: Nate, these are my parents: Margaret and Bernard Chenowith. Margaret and Bernard, this is Nate Fisher, the man I am having sex with.

Margaret: Hello. Brenda has told us absolutely nothing about you.

Nate: Well, you know what? I'm not surprised. I'm not sure there's that much to tell.

Brenda: Oh, don't be so modest. Nate's studying for his funeral director's license.

Bernard: Well, Nate, you'll have to tell us all about that. Won't you stay for lunch?

Margaret: At least a drink or two?

Nate: I'd like to, but I really have to study.

BRENDA gets out of the pool. NATE cannot, and remains very uncomfortable, because all of his clothes are on one of the deck chairs.

Margaret: Well, then you'll have to join us for dinner some time.

Nate: Uh--that sounds great. Great.

Scene Five: Gary Deitman's Office

RUTH and CLAIRE sit across from the desk of GARY DEITMAN, Claire's school psychiatrist.

Gary: OK, Mrs. Fisher, I've asked you here today so we could talk about your relationship with Claire.

Claire: I told her it wasn't my idea.

Gary: Uh, now, Claire feels that being the youngest child, perhaps, she might have missed out on a time when the family was happier.
Claire: No. That's what you said. I told you. I don't think there was a time that this family was ever happy.

Ruth: That is not true. There was lots of happiness. When the boys were young. When you were young, Claire. You were a very happy little girl and you know it.

Claire: Just because I was too young to realize what freaks we were.

Ruth: Why would you come into this man's office and tell him we were never happy?

Claire: I don't know. Because I grew up in a house that was usually filled with total strangers who were crying all the time.

Ruth: Oh, boo hoo! I grew up in a two-room apartment over a barber shop, and I spent my teenage years taking care of my grandmother after one, and then both, of her legs were amputated. Life's hard!

Gary: Mrs. Fisher--

Ruth: You had a roof over you head. You didn't go hungry.

Claire: You see, she gets up on this cross, and then there's just no talking to her.

Ruth: You did not have to go begging for food on the streets of Calcutta.

Claire: What? Because I wasn't dropped in a dumpster somewhere, I'm not supposed to want things to be better?

Gary: This is good. This is good for you to talk like this. These are obviously things you need to say.

Claire: So what? Are we just supposed to fight and get on each other's nerves? I prefer the not talking thing.

Gary: I think you should try to have more of a dialogue. Make time for it. Schedule it. Remember: any relationship is work. OK? Excellent session.

Ruth: That's it?

Gary: Now that’s up to you, isn't it? (He leaves.)

Claire: He does this for like five different schools.

Scene Six: Room Behind the Curtain

A man in the pornographic film industry is speaking to DAVID. He is a man close to VIVECA's age. He used to be a porn star also.

Porn Guy: She should look spectacular. You know, that's the most important thing.

David: We'll make sure that she looks her best.

Porn Guy: She was the real deal, you know? She was a star.

David: And I can assure you we will give her a funeral that befits the star that she was and always will be.

Porn Guy: You know who she was?

David: (lying) Absolutely, and I'm a big fan of hers.

Scene Seven: Basement/Chenowith Pool

NATE enters, carrying boxes of "Living Splendour."

Nate: Hey, Rico. (He notices VIVECA's corpse. Her breasts are both huge, and sticking in opposite directions.) Holy moley!

Federico: Feel. They're really hard.

Nate: Uh. No, thanks.

Federico: Like a rock. You see how they're all cock-eyed? They've got this low-cut flimsy thing they want her in, and they said absolutely no bra. Shit. I don't know what the heck I'm gonna do. Maybe I could like tape 'em together somehow.

Nate: Do you know where this stuff goes? If I put it in the wrong place, David will bitch at me for a week.

Federico: Top left, above the purple stuff.

David: (entering) Well, boys, this might just be our highest profit-margin funeral this year.

Nate: She's rich, huh?

David: The guy who's paying for it is.

Nate: Huh, she looks so familiar to me.

David: She was an actress. Viveca St. John.

FEDERICO and NATE both smile, laugh, and ad-lib "Wow"s. They know who she was.

Nate: Oh, my God, you're right! That's her?

Federico: (chuckling) Oh, fuck!

David: And apparently she was quite talented.

Nate: She was a porno star.

David: What?!

Nate: David, she was huge like back in the mid to late 80s. Come on, you never saw any of her videos?

David: No, Nate, I missed those.

Nate: Oh, man! This chick fucked a snake. This chick fucked like 30 guys at one time.

Federico: I saw that! I saw that! My cousin Ramone showed me when I was like 12. On the diving board, OK? They were like wrapped around the pool.

Nate: Did you see the one where the guy's riding this motorcycle that she's strapped to, so he's fucking her while he's riding around in circles?

Federico: (laughing) Oh, shit!

David: Nate, can I speak to you outside for a minute? (He pulls NATE into the next room. FEDERICO hears them, and is annoyed, feeling that DAVID isn't giving him the proper respect again.) Dammit, Nate! The woman on that table is just as deserving of dignity as anyone else we prepare, and Federico is an employee. It's up to you and me to set an example for him, alright?

Nate: Alright, I'm sorry.

David: Show some respect. These are human lives we're dealing with here. These are not organic blackberries or granola in bulk.

Nate: I said I'm sorry.

David: I don't want you to be sorry. I want you to remember that what we do here is serious. Because it really sucks for me always having to be the spoilsport.

Nate: OK.

David: Thank you.

DAVID leaves and NATE's cell phone rings.

Nate: (answering) Hello.

We see MARGARET and BERNARD sitting by the pool.

Bernard: Hey, Bernard Chenowith.

Nate: Hi.

Bernard: Margaret and I were wondering if you would join us for dinner. Tomorrow night.

Margaret: Tell him we're not gonna take “no” for an answer.

Bernard: You hear that?

Nate: Well, actually, I have a lot of studying to do for this exam. I'd really like to--

Margaret: (taking the phone) Nate, we'd really love to be able to get a sense of who you are, and I'm sure you're curious about us as well, right?

Nate: Uh--

Margaret: Good. Shall we say seven-ish? (She hangs up.)

Nate: Can I bring anything? Hello?

Scene Eight: Claire's Bedroom

CLAIRE is sitting at her computer, playing a computer game, when RUTH enters.

Claire: (to the computer) Suck on that, you little fuck! (laughs, then notices RUTH) Hi, there's this thing called “knocking”. It's like protected in the first amendment.

Ruth: I rented some videos. I thought you and I could watch them tonight. Remember when you were in middle school? You and I used to go to the movies every Monday night. Remember how much fun we had?

Claire: I remember seeing a lot of really bad movies. What'd you get?

Ruth: (laughing) “Runaway Bride” and “The Nutty Professor”.

Claire: (sarcastically) Cool.

Scene Nine: Keith's Apartment

KEITH and DAVID are watching "Oz" and eating Chinese food. One of the prison inmates on the TV says: "Oz didn't make you a bitch. You were born one." KEITH and DAVID laugh hysterically.

David: It'll be good for business, too. Dad was a deacon there, and it's a big congregation. People die, families don't know where to go, and the church sends them our way.

Keith: They know you're gay?

David: I think Father Jack has a pretty good idea.

Keith: You think he likes you?

David: Keith--

Keith: Does this mean that you're not going to be going to church with me anymore?

David: Well, if they make me a deacon, I'd have to go there all the time, yeah. I'm sorry. I know. Sunday's sort of been our day.

Keith: I think it's great. I really do. The things I love about you, it's the fact that your religion means so much to you. Besides, I think it could be kind of hot, you know? Dating a man of the cloth. (They laugh and kiss.) I need you to do something for me.

David: What is it, my son?

Keith: You know the Gay Firemen and Police Officers Club I belong to? Well, we're having a party in the Laguna this weekend. I want you to be my date.

David: Your date? Will I get a corsage?

Keith: I want you to start meeting some of my friends, David.

David: I'd like that.

Keith: Oh, forgive me, Father, for I am about to sin.

They begin to make out, and lie down on the bed.

Scene Ten: TV Room, Fisher House

RUTH and CLAIRE watch "The Nutty Professor" on TV. CLAIRE is doubled over in laughter. RUTH is sitting there, not enjoying herself at all.

Ruth: This is an entire movie about expelling gas.

Claire: I think that's why people like it.

Ruth: I don't want to watch this.

Claire: Good, because neither do I.

Ruth: (shutting it off) Claire, look. I know you probably think I'm old and stupid.

Claire: No, Mom, I don't.

Ruth: But I love you just as much as I ever did, and I'm worried about you, and I don't know how to help.

Claire: I don't need help! Why is everyone acting like I'm in the Trenchcoat Mafia?

Ruth: You stole a foot! A human foot!

Claire: OK, you wanna know why? Because some guy who totally scammed me into having sex with him because I thought he actually cared about me--he told the entire school that I sucked his toes, and then when I confronted him about it, he showed entirely no remorse, so when I saw Nate drop the foot on the floor, I just grabbed it, just to get back at that asshole, OK? It wasn't premeditated. I'm not Jeffrey Dahmer. I don't get off on hacked-up body parts.

Ruth: You're having sex?!

Claire: Oh, Jesus. No, I'm sorry, I cannot have this conversation with you. And I'm really sorry, but I don't think we're ever gonna have one of these touchy-feely mother-daughter relationships like you see on TV and the movies, because, you know why? They don't exist! (She storms out.)

Scene Eleven: Chenowith Mansion, nighttime

BERNARD opens the door and lets NATE in. NATE hands him a bottle of champagne.

Bernard: Ah, here's our guest! And he brought us a bottle of [a French wine]. 1997, no less.

Margaret: OK, a man who knows his wine. My, I'm liking you more and more, Nate.

Nate: Well, I worked at a food co-op in Seattle for a long time, learned a little bit.

Margaret: A co-op? So there's a little hippie in there, huh? That makes sense, Brenda would find that attractive. She likes to think of herself as being wildly counter-cultural, but I think she's actually just jealous that Bern and I really were hippies--briefly. Now, can I offer you a drink?

Nate: Sure. You have any beer?

Margaret: No. We have vodka, scotch, bourbon...

Nate: Uh, I'll have a little bourbon.

Margaret: Manly but not elitist. Just her type.

Bernard: Down, girl.

Nate: So where is Brenda?
Margaret: Brenda? Oh, Brenda's not coming tonight.

Nate: Really?

Margaret: Well, she felt, and I really have to agree with her, that we'd have a much better chance of getting to know each other if she weren't here. You know, she does tend to take center stage, so to speak.

Nate: Huh. I kind of wish somebody'd thought to tell me about this.

Margaret: I'm sorry. I assumed she did.

NATE shakes his head.

Margaret: (handing him the glass of bourbon) There you are.

Scene Twelve: Father Jack’s Offices

FATHER JACK and DAVID are having a meeting with the BISHOP.

Father Jack: David was raised in this church. He was christened and confirmed here. He served as an altar boy, and he was president of the Youth Ministry in high school.

Bishop: How old are you, David?

David: I’m 31.

Bishop: What do you do for a living?

David: I'm a funeral director.

Bishop: Ah.

Father Jack: His father served as a deacon for over a decade. He just recently passed away.

Bishop: So, you see this as a sort of passing the torch?

David: No, sir, I see it as a chance to serve God.

Bishop: Well, I'm glad to hear you say that. Because that's what it is. Being a deacon here is more than just having access to the church mailing list and passing out your business cards after Mass.

David: Sir, I won't deny that I run a business providing service to people in times of need, but I would never exploit my relationship to the church for marketing purposes. Frankly, I would consider that to be a pretty grave sin.

Father Jack: No pun intended.

Bishop: St. Bartholomew is an old church, a conservative church, a church that doesn't need to have its boat rocked.

Father Jack: Which is precisely why I feel that David is such a good candidate. How many men his age have values as strong as his? I think he would be an excellent role model.

Bishop: Are you married?

David: Uh, no, sir. I was engaged briefly.

Bishop: Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about yourself before I consider this?

David: No, sir. Is there anything specific about me you'd like to ask?

Bishop: No. (He gets up.) I'll let you know my decision in a few days. (leaves)

Father Jack: You impressed him.

David: You think?

Father Jack: Yes. Oh, by the way, one of our parishioners recently lost her father to liver cancer--Sharon Murdoch. I gave her your name. You may be getting a call.

David: Thank you.

Scene Thirteen: Claire's Bedroom

CLAIRE is on her bed, doing homework. RUTH enters.

Claire: Again with the not knocking.

Ruth: Pack some things. We're going to San Bernadino.

Claire: What?

Ruth: We're spending the night at my cousin, Hannah's.

Claire: Mom, I'm doing homework.

Ruth: Well, stop.

Claire: I have school tomorrow.

Ruth: (yelling) I'll write a note!

Scene Fourteen: Chenowith House, outside, by the pool

Margaret: You know, it's been such a long time since Brenda's wanted us to meet any of the men in her life.

Bernard: What was that last one? A chiropractor?

Margaret: Oh, he was a rolfer.

Bernard: He was an idiot.

Nate: Well, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure Brenda ever meant for us to meet. I don't think she really expected you guys to come home that day.

Margaret: Oh, Nate, where Brenda's concerned, there are no coincidences.

Nate: You think she planned all this?

Margaret: Of course. She is a master manipulator. I mean, I love her dearly, but you really oughtta know what you're getting into. Now, would you like another bourbon?

Nate: Uh--No, thanks. Can I ask you guys something?

Bernard: As long as it doesn't involve asking us for money.

Nate: Uh, no, it doesn't. Does the name "Nathaniel" have any significance to you?

Margaret: Well, sure. “Nathaniel and Isabel”.

Scene Fifteen: Chenowith Mansion, inside

MARGARET shows NATE an old children’s book, "Nathaniel and Isabel".

Margaret: Brenda adored these books as a little girl.

Bernard: She could read by the time she was three.

Nate: What are they about?

Margaret: Two orphans who had adventures. They ran away from an orphanage. There was a malevolent nurse who was always hunting them down, but they always managed to outsmart her. Typical infantile wish-fulfillment.

Nate: Hmm. I've never heard of them.

Bernard: They're British. Quite dark. People die in them all the time.

Margaret: When Brenda's brother was born, we expected serious displacement anxiety from her, but there was none. She would sit next to his crib, and read him these stories for hours. She was what then, Bern, 4?

Bernard: 5 at the most.

Margaret: It's all in the book.

Nate: This book?

Margaret: You mean she didn't tell you about that either?

Scene Sixteen: Hannah's House

RUTH and CLAIRE are eating KFC with RUTH's cousin, HANNAH, and her daughter, GINNIE. HANNAH is around RUTH's age. GINNIE is a little older than CLAIRE. She is in college. They are all watching "Gilmore Girls." All but CLAIRE are laughing hysterically. This show is the epitome of the mother-daughter relationships she believe don't exist in real life. HANNAH and GINNIE are this close, as well.

Hannah: Ruthie, I am so glad you called. Ginnie and I would never allow ourselves this kind of food unless it were a really special occasion.

Ginnie: We are definitely gonna have to do another spinning class this week.

Hannah: Tomorrow morning.

Ginnie: Who's teaching?

Hannah: Derrick.

They both laugh and giggle, like girlfriends.

Ginnie: Oooh, I am so there! Mom and I have the biggest crush on this spinning director at the "Y". He is hot, hot, hot. So, Claire, have you thought about college?

Claire: Yeah, I'd love to go to, like, NYU or Columbia, but I don't know if I'd ever get in, so--

Ginnie: Well, there are some great schools in LA.

Claire: Well, yeah, but why would you wanna go to school in the same town you grew up in?

Ginnie: I go to Cal State, right here in San Berdo.

Claire: Well, whatever rocks your boat.

Ruth: Claire--

Ginnie: Hey, I love it. By living at home, I'm saving a ton of money for grad school. I'm not stuck in some crappy dorm where everyone's smoking pot and playing loud music all the time. And I don't have to call campus police every time I wanna walk home from the library so I don't get raped. And I like to stay close to my mom.

Hannah: She probably just stays so I get to do her laundry.

Ginnie: Oh, that's not true! I love my mom, and I'm not ashamed of it.

Hannah: Thank you, honey, and I love you too.

She kisses her on the cheek and starts making baby noises, like "nuh, nuh, nuh." RUTH watches, smiling, absolutely loving it. CLAIRE looks like she wants to shoot herself.

Hannah: OK, anybody want more?

Scene Seventeen: Brenda's House

NATE enters BRENDA's house. He is very angry.

Brenda: So how was it?

Nate: Oh, it was quite informative. I know what "Nathaniel" means now, I know you have an IQ of 185, I know you had a book written about you.

Brenda: (handing him a copy of the book) Here, I signed it for you.

(BRENDA gets out rolling papers and pot. During the following scene, she rolls a joint and smokes it.)

Nate: Why didn't you just tell me about this?

Brenda: People always change towards me after they read it. I was just trying to make the fun part last.

Nate: Oh, God. So you're kind of scarily brilliant. I can handle that. What I can't handle is the way you keep mindfucking me for your own personal entertainment, and it's really starting to piss me off.

Brenda: Well, I'm sorry I'm not some well-behaved little nothing that never challenges you, but if that's what you're looking for, you might as well just leave right now.

Nate: So, what, are you trying to drive me away?

Brenda: Oh, yeah, I'm trying to drive you away, Nate. It was my mother's idea that I not be there, which is fine by me. I don't really enjoy their company.

Nate: She said it was your idea.

Brenda: Yeah, she would. She probably believes it. She's out of her fucking mind!

Nate: You could have warned me what I was walking into.

Brenda: You wouldn't have gone. I just wanted to get it all out of the way. Them. The Book. Everything.

Nate: Yeah, well, I felt like a fuckin' lab rat over there.

Brenda: (yells) Yeah, that's what they do! I'm 6 years old. I score through the roof on some standardized, culturally-biased test, and it all becomes about them. They hand me over to strangers, experts, a bunch of academic fucks who scrutinize everything I did or said or thought even. It is a fucking law of physics that the very act of observation changes that which is being observed. And now you're gonna read that book and think that you know me. Well, you know what? You don't.

Nate: Yeah, because you won't let me.

Brenda: OK. Fine. What do you wanna know? Ask me anything.

Nate: Did you burn down that house that we made love in?

Brenda: You think I burned down the house? Really? That is so weird!

Nate: Well, what am I supposed to think? You put my brother and me in the bus that killed our father, you get weird phone calls from screaming people that you won't explain, and now, oh, you want to make me feel stupid for being suspicious. Well, give me a fuckin' reason not to be!

Brenda: I just wanna know what this is. Why you--Am I just another step along your way?

Nate: OK, look. We obviously have an intense sexual connection, and, yes, I would like for there to be something more than that, but that can't ever happen until you trust me, which, apparently, you don't.

Brenda: Should I trust you?

Nate: Yes. Come here.

They hug and start kissing. The camera pans to the book about BRENDA. It is called “Charlotte: Light & Dark”, written by Dr. Gareth Feinberg. There is a picture on the cover of the back of a young girl. She is facing a reflecting pool.

Scene Eighteen: Hannah's House

HANNAH, RUTH, CLAIRE and GINNIE are playing "Scrabble."

Hannah: (placing pieces on the board) R-A-K-E.

Ginnie: Woo! Triple letter score for "K." Good one, Mom!

Claire: H-E-L-L.

They all give her looks.

Ginnie: (adding to CLAIRE's word) H-E-L-L-O. Hello! (laughs)

Ruth: D-E-F-T.

Ginnie: Deft. What is "deft"?

Hannah: Well, it's a laundry detergent from when Ruth and I were kids.

It is at this point where RUTH realizes how plastic and artificial HANNAH and GINNIE are, and how unintelligent. She starts to side with CLAIRE.

Ruth: No, it's a word. It means "skilled."

Ginnie: Really? Use it in a sentence.

Ruth: "He deftly juggled his responsibilities."

Ginnie: Deft. Huh.

Claire: Or, "Deft, where ith thy thting?"

RUTH and CLAIRE laugh together, sharing a real moment. HANNAH and GINNIE smile simply. They do not understand the joke.

Scene Nineteen: Kitchen, Hannah's House, a little later

Hannah: So how are you both doing? You know, with Nathaniel's passing?

Ruth: Better every day.

Claire: Yeah, you know, shit happens.

Hannah: You know, it's such an awful thing losing someone you love.

Ginnie: In terms of stress, it's right up there with moving and getting fired.

CLAIRE gives her a look.

Hannah: Mm hmm. I know when Ed and I split up, I was just devastated. I didn't even want to get out of bed. I just wanted to curl up and die. And all I can say is: thank God for my precious daughter.

Ginnie: Well, I just wouldn't let her mope. Just wouldn't let her. Dragged her ass, pardon my French, out of bed and took her to spinning class with me.

Hannah: And I hated her for it at the time, but it really got me back on track.

Ginnie: You know, endorphins really are nature's anti-depressants.

Hannah: Mm hmm. Life goes on. It doesn't go on by itself. Sometimes you just gotta kick it in the butt.

Ruth: (very annoyed) But Ed didn't die. He's still alive. You can still see him. When Ginnie gets married, you'll both be there. When she has children, they'll be able to know him. He's not gone forever.

CLAIRE gives her a truly sympathetic and loving look.

Hannah: Oh, well sure, but in terms of the impact it had on both of our lives, it's similar.

RUTH at this point now fully understands HANNAH's insipidity.

Ginnie: I had the greatest idea! You guys are coming to spinning class with us tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Claire: No offense, but I'd rather drive a rusty railroad spike through my skull.

RUTH laughs privately.

Ginnie: Oh, just try it once. You might be surprised how it changes the way that you feel.

Claire: I feel fine.

Hannah: (walking up to her daughter) You know what, Ginnie? That is an absolutely inspired idea! (kisses her with a big smack of the lips) OK, ladies, let's get to bed, because if your butt isn't on that bike by 6 AM, Derrick doesn't let us in.

Scene Twenty: Basement

DAVID is sitting beside VIVECA. VIVECA sits up.

Viveca: So these tits do nothin' for ya, huh?

David: Well, I can appreciate that they are beautiful. In their own completely artificial way.

Viveca: Men loved them. Well, real men. Do you think God cares that you're gay?

David: Do you think God cares that you fucked 30 guys at once?

Viveca: Oh, so you equate being a fag with being a whore!

David: No.

Viveca: One's OK but one isn't?

David: I think God appreciates it when there's love involved.

Viveca: Oh, honey, I loved every man I ever fucked while I was fuckin' him.

Act Two

Scene One: Brenda's Bedroom

Late at night. NATE sits up in bed and sees before him, an identical little girl to the one of the cover of "Charlotte: Light & Dark", also standing near a reflecting pool. The little girl turns around and becomes the BRENDA we know. She smiles at him and runs away. NATE wakes up in bed early the next morning. BRENDA sits by the window, looking at him.

Nate: What are you doing?

Brenda: Watching you.

Scene Two: Hannah's House, Guest Bedroom

CLAIRE is sleeping, when RUTH sneaks in and wakes her up.

Ruth: (whispering) Claire, wake up! Get dressed!

Claire: Why?

Ruth: We're leaving early.

Claire: Jesus, Mom, I'm starting to feel like Anne Frank!

Ruth: If we don't get out of here fast, we'll have to go spinning!

Claire: Oh, my God!

CLAIRE jumps out of bed.

Scene Three: Outside Hannah's House

CLAIRE and RUTH run to the car. We see that it is very early in the morning, and it is barely light outside. As CLAIRE and RUTH get into the car, we see a single light turn on in the house.

Scene Four: Restaurant

Nate: Thanks for buying me breakfast.

Brenda: Thank you for finding my G-spot this morning.

Nate: Anytime.

Brenda: Oh, I have something for you.

She gives him the key to her house.

Nate: Wow!

Brenda: Oh, come on, it's just a key.

Nate: No, no, no, this is great. I'm just a little surprised, that's all.

Scene Five: Restaurant, exterior

DAVID and KEITH are eating breakfast at one of the restaurant's outside tables.

David: I'm too nervous to eat. I'll just drink coffee until I start twitching and sweating.

Keith: Why does being a deacon mean so much to you now? It wasn't even a consideration for you a week ago.

David: Look, I know you think it's naive, but I see it as a chance to make a difference, make the world just a little more tolerant.

Keith: David, we have our own church in West Hollywood, which means the other churches and dioceses don't have to tolerate us. Frankly, I resent the notion that we need to be tolerated.

David: So what? We should just allow ourselves to be ghettoized?

Keith: Why do you embrace an organization that doesn't embrace you?

David: The church embraces everyone.

Keith: Oh, yeah, right. Hate the sin, love the sinner? The operative word being "hate".

David: What is it with you? The other night you said you liked the idea.

Keith: I had a chance to think.

NATE and BRENDA step outside the restaurant.

Brenda: Isn't that your brother?

The camera returns to DAVID and KEITH.

David: Hey, can we just have breakfast without feeling like I'm George Will and you're Cokie Roberts with PMS?

Keith: You'd probably like George Will.

NATE and BRENDA approach them.

Nate: Dave.

David: Uh, hi.

Nate: Hey.

David: Keith, you remember my brother, Nate, don't you?

Keith: (shaking NATE's hand) Yeah, how's it going?

Nate: Hey. This is Brenda, my uh--my girlfriend.

Brenda: I prefer the term "fuck puppet."

DAVID laughs nervously.

Nate: So what are you guys doing here? You just played racquetball?

David: Uh, no, we just worked out.

Nate: So you guys work out together?

David: Yeah. (He takes KEITH's hand and holds it, over the table.) Yeah, we do.

Nate: (absolutely shocked; almost stuttering) Oh, well, uh, that--that's great. Uh, OK, great... OK, you guys, have a great day.

NATE walks away. BRENDA continues to stand there, smiling.

David: You too.

NATE reappears just for a second to take Brenda away, grabbing her by the hand.

Brenda: Bye, David.

BRENDA walks away. DAVID and KEITH laugh together. The camera shows NATE and BRENDA walking away from the restaurant.

Nate: Oh, my God, I think David is gay.

Brenda: I think David is lucky. Did you get a look at that guy?

Scene Six: Fisher House, second floor entrance hall near the kitchen

Ruth: Claire? I had an affair. (beings to become tearful) For the last two years, I was seeing someone. Your father never knew about it, at least I hope he didn't. And I called it off after he died. It's not something I'm proud of.

Claire: (a single tear rolling down her check) Why are you telling me this?

Ruth: Because it's the truth, and whatever relationship you and I have, I want it to be honest, even if you hate me.

Claire: Mom, I don't hate you. I remember going to the movies on Monday nights. But I'm 17 years old now, and I have my own life, and there's things I have to figure out on my own, and that's, like, normal. And I know stealing a foot is weird, but, hello, living in a house where a foot is available to be stolen is weird. (RUTH smiles and gives a small laugh.) I've gotta get to school.

RUTH walks into the kitchen, slowly and sadly. CLAIRE watches her for a few moments.

Scene Seven: Parking Lot of Restaurant

DAVID and KEITH are walking to KEITH's car.

David: Did you see his face?

Keith: Oh, man, I know I shouldn't be laughing, but he just looked so stupefied!

David: The way he was all: "Great, great. I'm hip, I'm cool."

Keith: I'm proud of you, man. So, listen, this thing we're doing Saturday night. I got us a room at the Surfin' Center. You ever been there?

David: No.

Keith: Oh, man, it's gonna be great! It's got a fireplace overlooking the ocean.

David: Keith, I don't think I can make it after all. I shouldn't miss church, not while they're considering me for deaconship. I'm sorry.

Keith: Fine. We'll come back Saturday night.

David: That'll work.

Keith: I can go to church with you on Sunday.

David: It's not a good idea.

Keith: This hasn't been a good idea from the beginning, has it? Fine. Why don't we cut our losses and call it quits right now?

David: What?

Keith: Look, as long as you feel the need to keep our relationship a secret... David, you're ashamed of it, man. I'm not having any of that. Not anymore.

David: I just came out to my brother!

Keith: One step forward, now you wanna take a giant leap backwards right into the arms of the enemy!

David: So now I'm a Nazi collaborator? You know, a lot of African Americans might say the same thing about you being a member of the LAPD.

Keith: You're a fucking coward!

KEITH gets in his car.

David: Keith, please dont--

KEITH zooms away.

Scene Eight: Brenda's House

NATE inserts the key in the door and opens it.

Nate: It works!

BRENDA follows him inside. There is music playing in the background.

Brenda: I must have left the stereo on again. So, you are not too freaked out?

Nate: A little, maybe. It certainly makes David more interesting.

Brenda: No, I mean about me giving you a key to my apartment.

Nate: Oh, come on, what do you think I am? Some sort of aging Peter Pan who's gonna disappear at the first sign of something a little more permanent?

Brenda: Well, yeah.

Nate: Yeah, well, you're one to talk. You wouldn't even allow me to refer to you as my girlfriend.

They start kissing, when BILLY, BRENDA's brother, enters from the bathroom in a towel.

Billy: Don't mind me.

Brenda: I thought we agreed that you would call before you came over.

Billy: I did. The hot water's out at my building. I needed to take a shower. Oh, don't be mad at me. You know, I hate it when you're mad at me.

BRENDA checks her answering machine. She hears a message from BILLY, saying, "Hey, it's me. I need to use your shower, OK? It's nice. I haven't seen you for a while, and it's a fucking gorgeous day."

Billy: Satisfied?

Brenda: I am going to make a cup of tea.

Billy: Hey, I'll take one of those. (He puts a finger on her chest as she faces him in the doorway into the chicken.)

Brenda: Hey, you behave yourself. (She goes to the kitchen.)

Billy: Hi, what's your name?

Nate: Nate.

Billy: Nice to meet you. I'm Billy.

Nate: Hi.

Billy: So how long have you known Brenda?

Nate: Uh--a few months. So, uh--

Billy: What? Who am I and why am I in your girlfriend's house practically naked?

Nate: Yeah.

Billy: She's my sister (slaps himself on the face). She's my mother. (slap) Sister. (slap) My mother. (laughs) Sorry. Nobody's ever laughed at that. I should know better.

Nate: Well, it's nice to meet you.

Billy: So, you meet the parents yet?

Nate: Yes, last night.

Billy: Wow, you've made it pretty far. So why haven't I heard about you?

Nate: No idea.

Billy: Well, I guess I'd better go put some clothes on.

As BILLY turns and walks away, NATE sees a tattoo on the small of BILLY's back that says "Isabel".

Scene Nine: Viveca's Viewing

Inside the open casket, we see VIVECA in all her glory. She is in a low-cut, flimsy dress, with no bra, and yet her breasts are once again perfect. Besides the casket is a poster for one of her movies, "Easy Slider". The tag line is: "She rode into town and rode the town". LARRY WADD, a porn star, stands at a small podium, speaking about VIVECA. NATE and FEDERICO watch from the next room.

Nate: How'd you get her breasts synchronized? By some industrial epoxy?

Federico: Would you ask Colonel Sanders for his secret recipe?

Nate: Oh, come on, who am I gonna tell?

Federico: I stuck a can of cat food under each one. My sister-in-law did a cat food commercial. I've got like ten cases.

The two leave. Back to the service.

Larry Wadd: Hey, I'm Larry Wadd. (Everyone claps.) You know, I met Viveca St. John before she even did her first video. She was, uh, she was the fluffer on the set of "Dirty Larry III." (claps) She was, uh, friendly, she was eager, and I could honestly say I never received a better blowjob in my life. Nobody was even filming it!

RUTH comes down the stairs and peers into the service. Now a PORN STARLET has taken the podium.

Porn Starlet: When I first met Viveca, I met her on "Deep Diving." (claps) Thank you. And I had never gone down on a girl before, so, naturally, I was nervous, but Viveca was so warm and relaxed about it. She really put me at ease. Well, her and the two Zanex she gave me. (laughs) And when I first had to do a double penetration, I was like a total wreck. (At this point, RUTH hears and totally freaks.) But Viveca came through like, you know, like such the pro she is... I mean was. (She starts to cry.)

Scene Ten: Basement

NATE is reading "Charlotte: Light & Dark". RUTH enters.

Ruth: Nate, what the hell is going on in there?

Nate: Uh--Funeral.

Ruth: For whom? Prostitute?

Nate: A woman who was a star of adult videos. (RUTH covers her mouth in shock.) Mom, we're gonna clear like 8 grand from this. We can finally pay for that air conditioning work.

Ruth: I'm just glad your sister is at school.

Scene Eleven: Gary's Office

We see CLAIRE talking to GARY. Her eyes are full of tears.

Claire: It was awful. They're like best friends. And they're both like cheerleaders, this totally plastic way of life. Like spinning class solves everything. And they're both like hot for the same guy. It was creepy. My mom's--My mom's just so fucking sad. I wish I could help her.

Gary: So help her.

Scene Twelve: Room Behind the Curtain

DAVID is in a meeting with SHARON MURDOCH, the woman FATHER JACK referred to Fisher & Sons. Her husband sits beside her.

David: Now, Mrs. Murdoch, some people prefer the solemnity of a church, and St. Bartholomew is a beautiful setting. Here, however, one is more free to customize the service.

Suddenly, the PORN STARLET opens the curtain and steps in.

Porn Starlet: I'm sorry to interrupt, but I just had to tell somebody Viveca looked so great. Her tits have never looked better. She was like a sister to me.

She starts to cry. DAVID walks up to her. The Murdochs look shocked.

David: I'm so glad that you're pleased.

Porn Starlet: Yeah.

David: We want to remember her at her very best, don't we? Now, I'm sorry, but I'm helping some other people right now.

Porn Starlet: OK.

David: I'll talk to you after the service.

Porn Starlet: OK.

She walks away.

Sharon: I think we'll have Dad's service at the church.

David: Fine.

Scene Thirteen: Viveca's Viewing

Now, the PORN GUY we saw at the beginning is at the podium.

Porn Guy: I'm not a religious man, but I do believe in God. If I were to make a list of the things I thank God for the most, fucking Viv would be at the top of the list. She was a goddamned force of nature. And I loved her. And I know God loved her, too, and I know that He knew just what He was doing and how much joy she would bring to the world.

DAVID enters and looks at VIVECA.

Scene Fourteen: St. Bart's, Sunday Morning Service

FATHER JACK and DAVID stand together on the altar. All of the Fishers sit in the congregation, including BRENDA. The church is completely packed with people. Every time FATHER JACK stops speaking, the congregation responds with "O, Lord, hear our prayer."

Father Jack: For David James Fisher, chosen deacon in your church, we pray to you, O, Lord. (cong. responds) That he may faithfully fulfill the duties of this ministry, build up your church, and glorify your name, we pray to you, O Lord. (cong. responds) That by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he may be sustained and encouraged to persevere to the end, we pray to you, O Lord. (cong. responds) For all who fear God and believe in you, Lord Christ, that our divisions may cease and that all may be as one, as you and the father are one, we pray to you, O Lord.

DAVID is very nervous. During the last section of this prayer, he closes his eyes. He opens them and the aisles are completely filled with naked men. VIVECA stands in the middle, dressed all in white, glowing, like an angel. She blows DAVID a kiss. DAVID closes his eyes and opens them again.

All: O Lord, hear our prayer.

Scene Fifteen: Outside St. Bart's, after services

People are coming up to DAVID to congratulate them.

David: (ad lib) Thank you, thank you.

NATE walks up to him.

Nate: Way to go, Dave. (They shake hands and hug.) All we have to do is join the Koanis Club and Fisher & Sons will have all our bases covered. (DAVID laughs.) Hey, where's Keith?

David: He's just a friend, Nate.

DAVID walks away and NATE gives him a weird look. The camera moves to CLAIRE and RUTH.

Claire: So, Mom, what are you doing tomorrow night?

Ruth: Nothing, as far as I know. Why?

Claire: I thought maybe you'd wanna go see a movie or rent a movie or something. (RUTH gives a beaming smile.) OK. But if you cry, the whole thing is off.

RUTH nods and laughs.

The camera moves to NATE and BRENDA.

Nate: Thanks for coming today. I know you must have found this all a little--

Brenda: Are you kidding? I loved it. All that pageantry. It's so trippy. It's like a Fellini movie.

Nate: Well, it was kinda cool being with you here, in front of God and everybody.

Brenda: You don't really believe in God, do you?

Nate: Well, yeah. I mean, I don't believe in some bearded old white man up on a cloud. But I believe in something. Some sort of undefinable creative force.

Brenda: I think it's just all totally random.

Nate: Really?

Brenda: Yeah. We live, we die. Ultimately, nothing means anything.

Nate: How can you live like that?

Brenda: I don't know. Sometimes I wake up so fuckin' empty, I wish I'd never been born, but what choice do I have?

BRENDA walks away. NATE follows, with a strange look on his face.

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