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#210 : Le secret

Alors que Claire développe ses talents de photographe pour l'école, David s'installe chez Keith, Nikolai rentre chez lui et Melissa vient parler du bébé à Nate. Brenda, de son côté, ressent le besoin de parler de ses pulsions à un psy. Enfin, Taylor révèle un secret à David...

Titre VO
The Secret

Titre VF
Le secret

Photos promo

Claire développe ses talents de photographe

Claire développe ses talents de photographe

Keith et David sont réunis

Keith et David sont réunis

Moment de tendresse pour Rico

Moment de tendresse pour Rico

Plus de détails


Scene: Benjamin Srisai’s House, exterior, morning.

BENJAMIN SRISAI, a man in his late 60s, pushes a recycling bin on wheels from his front stoop to the sidewalk in front of his house. Suddenly, he stops and grimaces. But after a moment he begins to push the bin again. And then he feels a sharp pain in his chest. He looks up and struggles to breathe before falling to the ground and knocking the recycling bin over as well. The assorted containers and paper items liein the driveway.

The screen fades to white.


Act One

Scene One: Slumber Room/Fisher Front Hall, afternoon.

A female corpse is laid out in an open casket. CLAIRE stands by it, taking photographs. The doorbell rings and CLAIRE sees NATE run down the stairs to get the door. She begins to pack up the camera's accessories.

The guest is LISA, whose pregnancy is really beginning to show. She is wearing a t-shirt and corduroys.

Nate: Hey.

Lisa: Hi! I need to sit down.

NATE and LISA both sit down on the bench.

Lisa: (out of breath, smiles) Oh, God, I’m so fat! (starts looking through her bag)

Nate: So what papers do you need me to sign?

Lisa: Now don’t tell me I forgot them! I’m forgetting everything. It’s because of the hormones. (stops searching) Which, by the way, made me a complete freak the last time I saw you. I’m sorry again for being so hostile.

She pats his arm and smiles warmly. NATE nods. CLAIRE passes by.

Lisa: (her face lights up) Claire!

CLAIRE just stands there, dumbstruck, and smiles. LISA stands up and gives her a big hug. Although CLAIRE again gives a weird face when she hugs her, she does seem genuinely happy to see her.

Lisa: How are you doing? It’s so good to see you again!

Claire: Hey, Lisa, I didn’t know you were in town. What’s new?

Lisa: (holding her belly) Doing the whole single-mom routine.

Claire: Right, I can see that. Good for you.

Lisa: (sees the camera CLAIRE’s holding) Are you taking pictures these days?

Claire: Oh, no. I took some photos with like a friend’s camera and I wanted to keep doing it, so I went on E-bay and I got my own. But it was really just because I was bored and... it was kind of stupid. But... um... I have to go to school. So I’ll see you later.

She smiles and leaves.

Scene Two: Keith's Apartment.

DAVID sits in the living room, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.

Keith: (from the other room) I’ll be out in a second.

DAVID turns around and then realizes he’s spilled coffee on the couch.

David: Shit!

He quickly puts down the paper, takes a napkin, licks it, and tries to wipe out the stain. As KEITH enters the room, DAVID quickly hides the napkin and sits over the stain.

Keith: Okay, let’s go. (enters the room, and sees where DAVID has recently put a chair from his apartment) Hey, do you think your chair seems right for that space?

David: You said you were kidding about me not bringing any of my ugly-ass furniture.

Keith: It’s so big.

David: It’s a really good chair for watching television.

Keith: I guess.

David: Maybe it is too big. I think it is. It’s too big. You know, I’ll put it in storage with the rest of my stuff.

Keith: Oh, shit. I gotta return “The Great Escape” today. It’s gonna be fucking late.

David: I’ll return it. It’s on my way.

Keith: I never get tired of watching Steve McQueen. I think I’ve seen every one of his movies at least three times.

David: Yeah, some of them four times.

KEITH gives him an annoyed look.

Scene Three: Slumber Room.

NATE looks at the papers LISA has brought. It is a legal document that says “Order for Custody of Minor Children.”

Nate: Wow, this is–

Lisa: Since I want to put your name on the birth certificate, my lawyer says you need to sign away all custodial rights.

Nate: Oh, I thought...

Lisa: What?

Nate: I thought we were just gonna be a little more casual about this.

Lisa: It’s a baby. It’s hard to be that casual about it.

Nate: Right. (pause) Uh, you know, maybe, maybe I should have my lawyer look at this.

Lisa: Nate, it’s just a formality. Cut the bullshit and just sign it.

Nate: (not happy about this) Okay.

LISA looks at the body in the casket.

Lisa: You know what’s weird about dead people?

Nate: Um– everything?

Lisa: How they look so perfect. I just want to mess this woman’s hair up a little bit.

Nate: (signs the paper) Please don’t.

He gives the papers to LISA. She smiles.

Lisa: When I die, I want to be one big mess. That’s what life is, messy. (NATE makes a face) Nate, I’m not accusing you.
It’s better this way. We both know that. I mean, I can’t lie. Of course, I would’ve loved to do this with someone who wanted to be a father.

Nate: I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to...

Lisa: But then I think how perfect this baby is. And everything somehow seems right.

She laughs.

Lisa: You know, somehow it’s just so funny. And, you know, actually, I’m proud, in a weird way.

Nate: What do you mean?

Lisa: I mean, I’m having a child with the last person in the world who would ever want a child.

She leaves. He looks disturbed.

Scene Four: Fisher TV Room.

NIKOLAI is standing up and packing his things. He is not wearing his casts. RUTH enters the kitchen and knocks on the window dividing the kitchen from the TV Room.

Ruth: Why aren’t you wearing your casts?

Nikolai: I take them off. It’s time for me to go.

RUTH enters the room, looking shocked.

Ruth: But you’re supposed to keep them on until next week! I’m calling the doctor.

Nikolai: He say it’s okay. Look... (walks around a very little, he’s very wobbly) See?

Ruth: Your left foot looks purple.

Nikolai: Is always like that. Is from bad circulation. You know that.

Ruth: (disappointed) I guess I forgot.

Nikolai: (putting his coat on) Okay, it’s time to get this show on the road, yeah? (she says nothing) Uh... I guess I could call a taxi. Even though it’s a total rip-off.

Ruth: (yells) I can drive you!

She grabs his bag, hurt and upset.

Scene Five: Intake Room.

NATE has an intake meeting with MR. SRISAI's wife, BETTE, and thier son, PHIL, who seems to be in his late twenties/early thirties.

Bette: It was a heart attack. He died just like that.

Nate: So you want a traditional Thai Buddhist service?

Phil: (with an attitude) If that’s a problem, we can go somewhere else. There are very specific elements, and if you can’t do it...

Bette: (interrupting, scolding) Phil, please do not behave this way! You will have to excuse my son. He and my husband hadn’t spoken in months and...

Phil: Mom, please. Not in front of this person. Okay, Mr. Fisher, if you know the procedure, let’s hear it.

Nate: Um, actually, I’ve only been here for a year or so, and although I did read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in high school... (things are starting to get awkward, when a door opens) and, uh, that’s probably my brother. (calling out) Hey, David.

David: (very annoyed) Sorry I’m late. I had to stop at Video West and some fucking idiot in front of me was writing a check. I didn’t even want to watch a movie last night... (and the awkwardness continues!) but Keith got his way, as usual.

DAVID opens the curtain to see NATE and the SRISAIs sitting there, and is very embarrassed.

Nate: David, this is...

David: (suddenly switching into funeral director mode) Bette and Phil Srisai. I’m David Fisher. I spoke to you on the phone yesterday. I’m so sorry for your loss. (sits down)

They both nod.

Phil: Thank you. We were just discussing my father’s service.

David: I assume the deceased will remain at the temple for three days before we have the service here? (the SRISAIs look very impressed) And, of course, Fisher & Sons will provide all of the requisite supplies. The Buddha, the altar, the carpet-kneelers... and you’ll want some monks for chanting. We prefer to use the ones from Riverside, but if those aren’t to your liking, we have some good ones over in Eagle Rock.

PHIL and BETTE look at each other and hold hands.

Scene Six: Nikolai's Apartment.

RUTH enters first, carrying bags, with NIKOLAI right behind. His apartment is dark and messy. There are clothes strewn about everywhere.

Ruth: Nikolai, your apartment is so– it’s very– it has a lot of charm.

Nikolai: Thank you.

Ruth: I still don’t know what your big rush was. You could have stayed with me until...

Nikolai: It was time.

Ruth: But how do we know you’re safe here? You could be hurt by these ruffians.

Nikolai: I spoke to Yuri. I tell him that February is the biggest month for flowers. He say he give me thirty days to come up with the money.

Ruth: Are you gonna be able to do it?

Nikolai: Yeah, sure, of course.

Ruth: (trying to be nonchalant) Oh, well, that’s nice.

Nikolai: Thank you for all the taking care of me. You don’t have to do that now. You are done.

Ruth: What about dinner? You probably don’t have any food and I was going to pack you lamb, but I forgot. I’ll go home and bring back the lamb.

Nikolai: No, no, I’ll be fine. I get take out from Eat-a-Pita.

Ruth: Okay. (puts down the bags) Goodbye, Nikolai.

He kisses her on the mouth.

Nikolai: Goodbye, Ruthie.

She leaves, a little dejected. He sits down on his reclining chair and farts.

Scene Seven: Dark Room, High School.

CLAIRE is developing the pictures of the dead lady she took earlier that day. PARKER is with her.

Parker: I bet you Mr. Van Kirk has sex with students in here after hours. We should stake this place out later, okay?

CLAIRE ignores her, staring intently at the photo.

Parker: Claire?

Claire: Oh, fuck! I think there was dust on the negative!

Parker: No one’s gonna notice.

Claire: No. I want it to be perfect.

PARKER looks at all the already-developed photos hanging on the wall, all of different corpses from Fisher & Sons.

Parker: (impressed, smiles) Claire, these are so sick!

Claire: Thanks. I’ve taken shots of almost every single person that’s come through the house in the past three weeks.

Parker: They’re amazing!

CLAIRE smiles, genuinely gratified. When she earlier got praise from her aunt and other people, it was different. But the fact that even PARKER can notice she is talented really means a lot to her.

Parker: It’s like each one is someone who’s... lying in bed with you. Telling you a little story before you go to sleep.

Claire: I’m putting them together for that thing for Foster’s class.

Parker: Fucking “Spoon River Anthology” paper?

Claire: Yeah. I just thought that since each poem is from the perspective of a dead person that this would be a really interesting way to like... I don’t know... show what the poems brought out in me. (back to self-deprecating mode) Okay, that sounded really geeky.

Parker: (serious) No, that’s genius. You could really do something with this.

Claire: (laughing it off) Yeah, right.

Parker: Claire, I have to tell you something: I got into Yale, I heard yesterday. You don’t feel jealous or hate me, right?

Claire: No. (a little sarcastic) You worked really hard for it. Congratulations.

Parker: I know you didn’t play the game the way I did. But I’m sure you’ll get into UCLA, which is a really good school too.

Claire: Actually, no, I didn’t make the cut. But they sent me a list of community colleges I could go to and said to try again next year. So I’m looking at East Valley.

Parker: Oh.

Claire: Hey, I’m gonna be a famous photographer and make a gazillion dollars taking pictures of anorexic models and fucked-up actors. So maybe I don’t even need to go to college, right?

PARKER shrugs.

Claire: It’s a joke. I’m joking.

Parker: But you could. You should just become a photographer.

CLAIRE shrugs.

Parker: Because, truthfully, East Valley is kind of a shitty school.

Scene Eight: Office Building.

BRENDA walks up to the directory on the wall to see what floor her new psychiatrist, DR. MICHAELSON, is on.

Scene Nine: Dr. Michaelson's Office.

Brenda: So there was that one a month ago in the bookstore, then I met this other guy at the Farmer’s Market. That place has gotten so touristy. And then there was this guy last week at the Rose Café, who, uh... (laughs) No, that doesn’t count. That was an almost one.

Dr. Michaelson: What exactly do you hope to get out of therapy?

Brenda: Uh... Melissa gave me your name because I guess I’m– I don’t know– it’s not that I’m unhappy. I’m not unhappy. I’m really not. But I know that what I’m doing is a little strange. I mean, uh, most people who... are engaged to someone they really love don’t have sex with strangers. Or maybe they do.

Dr. Michaelson: Does that matter?

Brenda: (laughs) I think I like the euphoria I get from these encounters. I’m just having a little trouble with anxiety.

Dr. Michaelson: What do you mean?

Brenda: I don’t know. I’m– it’s like I’m coexisting in these two separate realities. There’s my Nate reality, and then there’s this other reality, and I would like to not feel so anxious about it. It’s not guilt. It’s just edginess. So, that’s it. I’d like to not feel edgy. That’s why I’m here.

Dr. Michaelson: Okay, so you would like to continue to have these encounters, as you call them, but you would like to not feel edgy.

Brenda: (smiles) Ideally.

DR. Michaelson starts to scrawl in her notebook.

Brenda: I know what you’re thinking. You think that I’m afraid of intimacy so I’m trying to sabotage my relationship with my fiancé.

Dr. Michaelson: Is that what I’m thinking or is that what you’re thinking?

Brenda: No. I just wanted to clarify that I don’t necessarily think that what I’m doing is destructive. It might even be healthy.

Dr. Michaelson: How so?

Brenda: Maybe it’s not good for me to totally lose myself in one person, and this is a way for me to have a completely separate, private area that’s my own. Not his, not ours. Maybe that’s healthy for me.

Dr. Michaelson: Listen, I assume that Melissa told you one of my specialties is sexual addiction.

Brenda: No.

Dr. Michaelson: I don’t know how much you know of this issue, but obviously it involves the sublimation of emotions that are too painful to address. It’s the root of all addiction, really.

As she talks on, BRENDA imagines DR. Michaelson saying the following words.

Dr. Michaelson: I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can help you, because you don’t need any help. You’ve clearly evolved beyond the need for therapy. I’m actually in awe of you, because I’d be fucking strangers like a truck-stop whore on crack if I wasn’t so inhibited by my pathetic Judeo-Christian upbringing.

Scene Ten: Fisher Basement.

NATE and DAVID are searching through their storage room. NATE’s looking in a box on the floor, DAVID’s looking through the shelves.

Nate: Well, it’s not down here.

David: We used to have a few Buddhas in here. I can’t believe we can’t find one!

Nate: (taking down a box) You know, I’ve read all this stuff about Buddhism, but it never stays with me. I just know that everything is nothing.

David: (looking through another box) Is that it? I thought it was nothing is everything.

Nate: That’s the same thing, isn’t it?

David: (takes a wrapped statue out of the box) Hey, I found one!

He unwraps it. It is a thin, crossed-legs Buddha with a very pointy hat.

Nate: He looks kind of girly, doesn’t he?

David: Sort of. (rubs the statue with a towel) He has water damage. I’ll get you some stuff to clean him off, okay?

Nate: Yeah.

David: His little hat is cute. It’s so pointy! I wonder if anyone ever poked their eyes out on one by accident.

Nate: (looking at the shelves full of boxes) Look at all these unclaimed cremains.

David: Can you imagine having a member of your family cremated and then not caring enough to pick up their ashes?

NATE takes down one of the small boxes and opens it. He takes out a small plastic bag full of gray ash.

Nate: I think sometimes it’s too hard for people to acknowledge that someone they loved is now just chunks of soot.

DAVID’s cell phone rings.

David: (answering) David Fisher. (pause) Hey. (pause; annoyed) Yes, I returned the videos. Didn’t I say I would? Um, sure, swordfish is fine. Whatever. Bye.

Nate: You hate swordfish.

David: (pause, laughs it off) I know. It’s funny. Now that Keith and I are living together, I find myself trying to be so fucking agreeable all of the time.

Nate: Why?

David: Because, if you aren’t, things come up, and you have no idea how big the thing’s gonna be. It’s like this constant negotiation. You can never just relax. Is that just a phase or is it always going to be like that?

Nate: Don’t ask me. Look, I have no fucking idea. Maybe that’s just what a relationship is. Constantly doing things you have absolutely no desire to do.

Scene Eleven: Margaret's Condo, nighttime.

MARGARET opens her front door, and NATE and BRENDA are standing in the hallway. She seems way too excited to see them.

Margaret: Nate, Brenda, come on in!

They both look a little dumbstruck. BRENDA says nothing. NATE smiles awkwardly.

Scene Twelve: Margaret's Condo, a few minutes later.

Margaret: We have so many details to go over before the bridal shower on Sunday! Isn’t it exciting?! It’s all too much for me!

Brenda: Oh, please, it’s all for you. I’d rather just cancel it.

Margaret: Are you mad?! Lulu Smeigel cancelled her weekend at Canyon Ranch just to be here! (hands them drinks she’s just prepared) Now, you must try one of these! It’s made from this incredible liqueur that comes from the most poverty-stricken village in Belize! It’s delicious!

They try it, and like it.

Brenda: Oh, right. Your trip. You look like you had a good time.

Margaret: It was fabulous!

Brenda: Your skin looks good. Did you have some work done?

Margaret: Not at all. It’s just happiness. You should try it some time.

There’s a banging noise from the other room.

Nate: Is Billy here?

Margaret: No, no, when I got back, I found a note saying that he was staying with friends in Portland. But he didn’t leave a number. Brenda, did he give it to you?

Brenda: No, he didn’t.

Margaret: Oh, that’s right. He still has all that raging resentment towards you!

More banging.

Brenda: Okay, Mom, who are you hiding in the bedroom? Oh, let me guess: another one of your young, South American gigolos?

Margaret: Not at all, darling. He’s an aging intellectual from the Bronx.

BERNARD comes out from the other room.

Bernard: Brenda. Nate.

MARGARET gets up and puts her arms around BERNARD.

Margaret: Oh, isn’t this fabulous?! Bern and I are back, and better than ever!

They kiss and laugh. BRENDA looks quizzically at the whole situation.

Scene Fourteen: Margaret's Condo, even later.

MARGARET, BERNARD, NATE and BRENDA have just finished eating dinner.

Bernard: So, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake, got on the next plane to Belize, and begged your mother to take me back.

Margaret: Come on, be honest, dear. The whore dumped you. (laughs)

Bernard: Because I was subconsciously pushing her away, because I really love you.

NATE smiles to himself, amused by the whole situation. BRENDA doesn’t and isn’t.

Margaret: (shifting gears) The point is, the sex has been incredible! (strokes his face) Just like when we first met.

Bernard: I’ll never forget what you were wearing the first time you walked into my office.

Margaret: The tight Givenchy blue skirt with a slit that went right up to my wazoo.

Bernard: (laughs) I knew immediately I was gonna have some wildly inappropriate feelings for you. And, boy, was I right!

Brenda: (has had about enough of this, to NATE) Mom was one of Dad’s patients. It’s actually kind of disgusting.

Margaret: (mock dignified) I was not a patient. I was in grad school. I was an intern. And the second I laid down, I knew I was never gonna get up of that couch. (laughs)

Bernard: We terminated therapy after a few months and waited the correct amount of time before embarking on a relationship.

Margaret: At least that’s what we tell everyone! (laughs uproariously)

BRENDA rolls her eyes. NATE smiles, which vaguely annoys BRENDA. MARGARET keeps laughing, as BERNARD gets up, taking some plates with him.

Nate: I’ll give you a hand with that.

He takes his and BRENDA’s plates, and goes with BERNARD to the kitchen. BRENDA continues to stare at MARGARET.

Margaret: (annoyed) Okay, what?!

Brenda: I can’t believe you just took him back. Are you that scared of being alone? God, you’re so fucking depressing.

Margaret: I love your father. And I’m very happy you noticed it yourself. Maybe that’s what’s upsetting you so much, that I’m so happy. I’m sorry for whatever tensions this engagement is bringing up in you and Nate. But my advice to you is get your shit together and don’t blow it with this one. (gets up, taking her plate; whispers the next thing to BRENDA) Because you are a major handful.
She leaves the room. BRENDA sits and thinks.

Scene Fifteen: Keith and David's Bedroom.

DAVID lies in bed with his shirt off. KEITH enters, still dressed.

Keith: Sorry. I noticed a coffee stain on the couch. I was trying to get it out. (DAVID sighs) You still mad at me about the swordfish? You should have told me you didn’t like it this afternoon instead of waiting till I slaved over it.

David: You’re right. I should’ve told you.

Keith: (laughs, lightly) So why didn’t you?

David: Because you scare me.

Keith: (laughs it off) Shut the fuck up.

David: You want everything to be perfect. All the time. When it’s not, you get upset.

KEITH shakes his head, like he has no idea what DAVID’s talking about.

Keith: I didn’t get any sleep last night. I’m too tired for this conversation.

He shuts the light off and gets into bed. He closes his eyes. DAVID rolls over and looks at him.

David: Sometimes I feel like if I don’t do or say exactly what you want, you might decide you don’t want to be with me.

Keith: (impatient) That’s just stupid.

He rolls over in the other direction and closes his eyes again. DAVID looks at the ceiling.

David: You know?, when we were together the first time, it seemed like all our problems stemmed from my not coming out.

Keith: They did.

David: (calmly) Now I think it was just easier for you to make us believe that. If everything could be blamed on my not coming out (sits up), then nothing ever had to be your fault.

KEITH doesn’t respond. He’s either sleeping or ignoring him. Frustrated, DAVID rolls over and goes to sleep.

The screen fades to white.

Act Two

Scene One: Fisher Basement, afternoon.

NATE is walking down the stairs. He feels sick and stops for a few moments to clear his head. He hears an unusual noise for the prep room: the laughs of a small child. It seems eerie, and then he realizes that he’s not imagining it. He enters the prep room to find RICO goofing off with JULIO, who’s giggling. Both are sitting on one of the tables.

Rico: What’s under that arm right here, huh? (to NATE) Hey, Nate!

Nate: (smiles) Hey!

Rico: Say “hello” to Nate.

Julio: Hello.

Rico: (to JULIO) Just like that, huh?

JULIO giggles again.

Julio: Yeah!

Rico: (pats JULIO on the back) Alright.

JULIO gets on the floor and plays. RICO stands up.

Rico: Let’s go. (to NATE) Look, Vanessa’s sister, she’s got this publicist, and the first thing she does is get her invited to some dumb spa thing in Long Beach.

Nate: So?

Rico: So, she took Vanessa and the baby. Now my sitter’s sick, so here we are.

NATE sighs.

Nate: Mrs. Hirsch needs to be finished by 1.

Rico: Nate, I have a kid. Okay? These type of things happen. Anyhow, I gave Mrs. Hirsch the once-over. She’s a young breast cancer, piece of cake. Hopefully I’ll get a sitter in time to do her.

Nate: That’s not good enough.

Rico: My hands are tied here, okay? (gets an idea) Unless you want to take care of Julio while I do Mrs. Hirsch.

Nate: No–

Rico: Oh, come on, man, I don’t see you doing anything.

Nate: Look, I can’t. I have to clean a Buddha.

Scene Two: Fisher Front Porch.

NATE is cleaning the Buddha with a fine brush. JULIO rubs it with a cloth.

Julio: He looks like he’s asleep.

Nate: (smiles) Yeah. He’s not. He’s just blissed out because he has the secret to enlightenment.

Julio: What’s enlightmintz?

Nate: It’s, uh– I guess it’s knowing everything.

Julio: My dad knows everything!

Nate: (pauses) Well, he knows a lot.

Julio: He knows everything! How much do you know?

Nate: (stops brushing) Not much.

Scene Three: Nikolai's House.

NIKOLAI sits in his chair, eating a banana and watching the TV, which is on loud. He’s in a sweatshirt and sweatpants. On a nearby mantle, we see a photo of his deceased wife and son. RUTH knocks on the door from outside.


Nikolai: (shuts off the TV) Ruthie? Did we have plans?

Ruth: No. (he says nothing) Does that mean I have to go away?

Scene Four: Nikolai's House, a little later.

RUTH opens the curtains, which are covered in dust. She coughs. The room is probably lighter than it’s ever been. NIKOLAI holds a pine-sol cleaner and Pledge that RUTH has brought.

Nikolai: I do not need my house to smell like fake lemons! It smells good already!

Ruth: No, it doesn’t.

Nikolai: I like everything the way it is.

Ruth: But I don’t!

NIKOLAI pauses and notices that RUTH has brought a small piece of luggage with her. He regards it, cautiously.

Ruth: (smiles) I thought I would... (laughs, overly nonchalant) Isn’t this fun? It’s a surprise sleepover!

Nikolai: (smiles, again cautiously) Okay, let’s do it, sure.

Ruth: Then let’s get started.

Nikolai: (not overly enthused) Okay.

Ruth: First, we have to get this place into shape, so we can have a nice, cozy, clean evening.

She takes out a roll of paper, covered with fruit designs.

Nikolai: We’re going to wallpaper?

Ruth: No, silly. It’s contact paper for the drawers.

Nikolai: Ruthie, why do I want little cherries in my drawers?

Ruth: It’s hard to explain. You just do.

Scene Five: English Classroom.

The TEACHER hands back CLAIRE’s assignment. She has carefully placed each black-and-white photo on a black-cardboard piece of paper, each across from a different poem from “Spoon River Anthology,” assembled together as a book. It is very beautiful. And it has a small yellow stick-it note on the front page with a big red F drawn on it.

Claire: You failed me?!

Teacher: I’m sorry, Claire, but I asked for a literary analysis.

Claire: So you didn’t think they were any good?

Teacher: That’s not this point. This is an English class. I wanted something in... English.

Claire: So you’d just prefer I download some stupid crap off the Internet than do something that’s actually creative?

Teacher: I don’t have time for this. Would you just do the make-over?

Claire: (pensively opens the book to one of the pages) I was really happy with Mrs. Sibley. “The secret of woman, the soil / My secret: under a mound that you shall never find.”

She closes the book.

Claire: Just so you know, I put a lot of myself into this. I wasn’t just slacking off.

She takes the book and puts it into her backpack.

Teacher: Look, I don’t want to fail you. Just give me some kind of paper. I assume you need to graduate. You are going to college, right?

Claire: Yup, East Valley.

Teacher: (excited) Oh, really? I went there!

He leaves and CLAIRE looks up, like she's going to be sick.

Scene Six: New Intake Room/Keith's Car.

DAVID sits at the desk, doing work, when his cell phone rings. He answers it.

David: David Fisher.

Keith: Hey, it’s me.

KEITH stands outside somewhere, leaning against his police car.

David: Oh, hi.

Keith: I’m calling to tell you we’re having lunch with Taylor and Karla on Saturday.

David: You can’t just schedule things without asking me first. That’s not what couples do.

Keith: How would you know what couples do?

David: I watch TV. Or at least I used to when I had a comfortable chair to sit in!

Keith: (crosses his eyes) Listen, I was in the middle of five things at work, okay? You know?, not everyone can always act so perfect!

David: Yeah, I know that. That’s what I was trying to tell you last night! (pause) You should check with me before you say “yes” to things.

Keith: Are you available?

David: Yes.

Keith: Then pretend I asked you first.

He hangs up. Both are pissed.

Scene Seven: Brenda's Kitchen.

BRENDA makes drinks at the table, while MELISSA sits on the counter, reading a magazine.

Brenda: So, I went the one time, but I’m not going back to Dr. Michaelson. Are you annoyed?

Melissa: No, why would I be annoyed? You can do whatever you want.

Brenda: I’m sure she’s good. She’s just not for me. You didn’t tell me she was so serious.

Melissa: I didn’t realize you were looking for laughs.

They both laugh quietly, nervously.

Melissa: Well, I can ask around for more names. My friend Paula’s been to 40 shrinks, although I guess that’s not the best endorsement for them.

Brenda: I’m fine. I think I’m the only one that can solve any of my problems.

Melissa: Yeah, we are ultimately stuck with ourselves.

Brenda: It’s so fucking Puritanical, how we’re conditioned to buy into the whole true love/monogamy crap.

Melissa: Hey, you’re preaching to the choir.

Brenda: So, I’ve been thinking, the next time that I feel adventurous... what if I include Nate?

Melissa: That’s not a bad idea. You remember Terry from Orange County that I was telling you about?

BRENDA shakes her head.

Melissa: Yes, you do. She has the lifestyle parties on the weekends.

Brenda: Oh, right, right.

Melissa: She and her husband have a committed relationship. They have sex with strangers once a week. (laughs) They’re really happy. Monogamy just isn’t for everyone.

Brenda: I know. Look at my parents. Actually, don’t look at them. That’s what they want.

MELISSA giggles.

Brenda: So maybe we could go to Terry’s this weekend and check it out.

Melissa: Yeah, whatever. I’ll give you the address. I hope you and Nate like it.

Brenda: Oh, I don’t want to bring Nate.

MELISSA gives her a strange look.

Brenda: I mean not yet. First you and I should go see what it’s like.

MELISSA laughs.

Scene Eight: Nikolai's House.

RUTH vacuums up a storm. The house is orderly and clean now. NIKOLAI enters.

Ruth: Okay, what do you think?

Nikolai: It feels like a whole new place.

Ruth: (smiles) Yes, it really does. (pauses, shifts gears) Who am I kidding? I can’t stay here. I’ll never be able to stay here. (although his expression reveals nothing, NIKOLAI is starting to think this may not be such a bad idea) It’s too dank. It will always be dank. I’m only human. I can only do so much. Nikolai, this is crazy. Why aren’t you moving into my house?!

Nikolai: I don’t know, its’– why are you acting like we talked about this? We haven’t, have we?

Ruth: I guess it’s just been on my mind. I like how things have been for the past couple of months. I like seeing you every night and morning. I don’t want to go backward, do you?

Nikolai: (pauses) Ruthie... Ruthie, I love you.

Ruth: I wish you didn’t sound so sad when you say that.

Nikolai: I wish I wanted to move in with you and be with you all the time. I want to want that more than anything. But– but I don’t. Maybe I am the one with the problem. Maybe I have been alone and cut off for so long that I no longer know how to do it. (as he speaks, RUTH gets her stuff) Maybe I am not capable of it. (RUTH starts to walk towards the door) Can we go on as we were before accident?

Ruth: I think I should go home.

She leaves, sad and dejected. NIKOLAI just stands there.

Scene Nine: Fisher Kitchen, dinnertime.

NATE, DAVID and CLAIRE sit at the table, eating cereal.

David: Didn’t Mom leave any real food for dinner?

Claire: No, there was just a note saying she was gone for the night. (pause) So why aren’t you two with your loved ones?

They say the following simultaneously.

David: Late shift.

Nate: Shiatsu appointment.

She smiles. NATE notices CLAIRE’s book, sitting on the table.

Nate: What’s this?

Claire: Oh, give me that. It’s this thing for school.

Nate: (looking at the book) I don’t believe this. David, look at these. (points to the woman on the cover) That’s Mrs. Steiner. (going through the pictures) Mr. Thomas. The Harrisons.

David: Mr. Benson. Mrs. Orozco. God, Rico did an amazing job on her!

Claire: (pause) So, do you think they’re any good?

Nate: (yells at the top of his lungs, surprises CLAIRE and DAVID) I think they fucking suck! Do you have any idea what kind of lawsuit this could bring us?! What kind of stupid, fucked-up child are you?!

DAVID doesn’t say anything, but feels bad for CLAIRE.

Claire: (yelling back) I was just trying to do something I gave a shit about!

RUTH is standing in the doorway. No one saw her come in.

Ruth: What’s going on here? Nate, I heard you yelling. Someone please tell me what’s going on.

Nate: Nothing. I thought you were spending the night out. Why are you back so soon?

Ruth: (yells) That’s none of your business.

NATE and DAVID sigh. CLAIRE looks, angry and disappointed, at NATE.

The screen fades to white.

Act Three

Scene One: Street, exterior/Karla's Car, afternoon.

A homeless man holds up a sign, asking for money, and walks out into the street. A car drives by.

Man: Hey, got some change?

The car swerves away from him and drives off.

Man: Fuck you, too!

Cut to KARLA’s car. She is driving TAYLOR to KEITH’s place.

Taylor: You’re not listening to me! I said this shirt feels funny! It scratches my neck.

Karla: Too bad. It’s the only clean one you had, and I can’t take your uncle’s bitching if he so much as sees one crummy little apple juice stain.

Taylor: I want to go back and get my yellow one!

Karla: I said, no.

Taylor: Turn back around now!

KARLA looks over at TAYLOR.

Karla: You don’t tell me what to do.

KARLA keeps staring at TAYLOR, who suddenly looks out at the road and notices the homeless man coming up way too close.

Taylor: MOM!

KARLA, terrified, slams on the brakes, but it is too late. She hits the homeless man with a thud. He lies unconscious in the street. KARLA starts to shift gears.

Taylor: What are you doing?

Karla: We gotta get out of here.

She quickly backs up, drives around the man’s lifeless body, and zooms off.

Scene Two: East Valley Campus, exterior.

CLAIRE and PARKER walk around the campus.

Claire: I had no idea East Valley was so close to the freeway.

Parker: It’s very convenient. (checks the map and points at a nearby building) That’s the Student Center. That’s where your mailbox will be.

Claire: (sarcastic) Great. I can go there and get letters from people begging me not to kill myself.

Parker: I bet you some famous people went here. Someone like... (reaching for a name) David Spade.

CLAIRE crosses her eyes. That definitely didn’t help. CLAIRE looks at a Student Activity Board.

Claire: Okay, there’s way too many flyers with the word “Baptist” on them.

Parker: (points to a flyer, joking) Look! You can make extra money as a phone sex operator!

Claire: Yeah, Baptist phone sex.

Parker: (looking at the catalogue) Oooh, it says here they have a really good arts center.

Claire: Oh, no, it’s under construction. It won’t be open till 2004.

Parker: Oh.

Claire: That’s okay. I need to start being more connected to the real world. I’m thinking about taking some business courses.

She doesn’t sound as sure of herself as she wants. CLAIRE continues to walk on. PARKER looks sorry for her, takes another look at the phone sex flyer and tears off the phone number, maybe to save it for CLAIRE, just in case.

Scene Three: Karla's Car, a little later.

KARLA pulls over at the side of a road.

Taylor: Mommy, we have to–

Karla: (nervous, scared) Just shut up! I need to think. Okay (looks in the glove compartment), nothing there. I think nothing’s there. What have I missed? What have I missed? (searches her pocketbook) I don’t want anyone to be able to find anything.

Taylor: (almost on the verge of tears) We have to tell the cops!

Karla: No, we don’t! We just got to pray nobody saw us!

TAYLOR looks at her, horrified.

Karla: It wasn’t my fault! We can’t help him now!

Taylor: We have to tell somebody!

Karla: No, we don’t! (yells) God! I am so tired! I am so fucking tired of this shit! Why can’t I ever have some fucking peace?! (calms down) Baby, we can’t tell the cops, okay? They’ll take me away from you. Do you want the cops to take me away from you?

Taylor: (crying) No.

Karla: Then we don’t tell the cops, okay? This is our little secret. Do you hear me? Our little secret. Say it.

Taylor: (crying) It’s our little secret.

Scene Four: Keith's Apartment.

DAVID and KEITH sit in the living room.

Keith: Of course they’re late. And I’ve got a turkey breast drying up.

DAVID yawns loudly.

Keith: Oh, I’m sorry. Am I boring you?

David: No, I didn’t get any sleep last night, because you were kicking me for hours.

Keith: (yells) You know what?, I have nightmares! Is that my fault too, like everything else?!

The doorbell rings. KEITH goes to answer it. KARLA and TAYLOR come in.

Keith: You’re 40 minutes late!

Karla: Sorry, something came up.

TAYLOR sees KEITH and smiles nervously. When she sees DAVID though, she runs to him, excited.

Taylor: David!

She hugs him tightly.

David: Hey, little girl.

Scene Five: Fisher & Sons Office.

NATE is on the phone with BRENDA.

Nate: Well, fuck, Bren, it’s just that it’s Saturday night and I thought we planned to on Saturday night– yeah, I know you have the shitty shower tomorrow. (long pause) Alright. No, just stay at home and take care of yourself, alright? (pause) Alright, bye.

Scene Six: Keith's Bedroom.

TAYLOR is jumping on the bed. DAVID stands by the bed.

David: Maybe you shouldn’t jump so hard. What if he catches us?

Taylor: I don’t care.

David: Taylor, that’s enough.

Taylor: (still jumping) My mom ran over somebody on Washington.

DAVID comes up to her and grabs her arms to stop her from jumping.

David: What?!

Taylor: It was an accident. It was an old bald white guy. But we’re not gonna tell anybody. It’s a secret. But secrets are so stupid. People always find out about secrets.

David: (shocked) Oh, my God.

TAYLOR looks at DAVID and smiles.

Taylor: (laughs) I was just kidding! I got you, I got you good!

David: Taylor, that’s not funny.

Taylor: Yes, it is!

She continues to laugh and jump.

Scene Seven: Lifestyle Party.

MELISSA and BRENDA enter the house. It’s full of men and women, in various stages of undress, hanging out, drinking, etc.

Melissa: Oh, this is even more of a shitbox than I remembered. Do you want to get out of here while there’s still time to run?

Brenda: Are you kidding? This is fantastic!

A woman off-camera, TERRY, calls to MELISSA.

Terry: (O.S.) Hey, Melissa, you made it!

MELISSA gives a small grimace to BRENDA.

Melissa: Hey, Terry, look at you, girl!

She goes over to TERRY, and BRENDA silently surveys the scene for a few moments. She is fascinated by the whole thing.

Scene Eight: Lifestyle Party, a little later.

MELISSA and BRENDA sit together on the couch, watching a nearby couple having sex, right there on the opposite couch.

Melissa: Sex is so stupid.

Brenda: This is like these parties my parents used to have when I was a kid. There was always this really weird energy in the air. Just like tonight.

Melissa: Oh, yes, the heavy haze of expectancy.

Brenda: Everyone got really drunk, got all handsy. Although, I don’t think they were official sex parties, like this one. We should mingle.

BRENDA gets up. MELISSA isn’t so sure she wants to be mingling.

Scene Nine: Lifestyle Party, later.

BRENDA sits between a man and woman, still very interested in what’s going on. MELISSA sits at the end of the couch, bored. The guy, who is not wearing a shirt or pants, gets out some coke, and snorts a line.

Man: This shit’s amazing. I found it in my kid’s room and beat the crap out of him.

He hands some over to BRENDA, who snorts a line as well.

Woman: Don’t get me started on my kids. They leave the house at all hours. I have no idea what they’re up to. If I think about it too hard, I could cry.

Now she snorts a line. She hands it to MELISSA, who turns it down. The woman snorts another.

Scene Ten: Lifestyle Party, even later.

BRENDA walks around the party, drinking a beer. MELISSA follows her. BRENDA looks into a room where one naked guy sits drinking a beer, watching two couples fucking on the bed: on the left is a guy fucking a woman in the ass, on the right a guy fucks a woman from the front. MELISSA walks on, bored. BRENDA keeps watching.

Scene Eleven: Keith's Bedroom, nighttime.

DAVID and KEITH are both ready for bed, and they’re both yelling at each other.

David: Why are you getting so upset? I’m just saying, isn’t it weird that Taylor would make up this kind of a story?!

Keith: Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?

David: Because you were going on and on about the stupid coffee stain on your precious couch! It was me, okay? I did it! I’m sorry! It was me! Now just shut up already about the coffee stain!

KEITH sits down on the bed and picks up the phone and starts dialing.

David: Don’t call her. Let’s just forget it. It’s just this weird thing Taylor said.

Keith: I’m not calling her, idiot.

Scene Twelve: Fisher & Sons Office.

NATE is still doing work at the desk. It is daytime. Suddenly he hears a door open from the other room.

Nate: (calls) Hello?

No one answers. He starts working again, when a small 7 year-old girl with blonde hair enters and stands near him.

Nate: (smiles) Hello. Can I help you?

Girl: (smiles, very friendly) Hi. You killed me. It was about seven years ago, remember? You drove Lisa to have me killed.

NATE looks horrified.

Girl: Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t harbor any bad feelings or anything. I’m pro-choice. Well, (laughs) at least I would be, if I were alive.

Suddenly a younger boy is standing beside her.

Boy: (smiles) You killed me too! Actually, I was miscarried by the girl who worked at that Starbucks on Fremont. I don’t think she was ever planning to tell you about me.

NATE looks up and sees a blonde teenage girl.

Teenage Girl: (like she’s heard the story a million times) Yeah, yeah, Mom was your first real girlfriend. Then I came along. You guys offed me and then broke up.

NATE smiles nervously and stands up.

Nate: Excuse me.

He walks into the next room, which is filled with children– young boys and girls of various ages– some riding bikes, some on scooters. One little girl says “Hi, Daddy!”. A boy says, “Hi!”. NATE sees a few girls on a slide, and others playing with a dollhouse. Some boys plays with bouncing balls and other toys. Suddenly, RUTH enters, with a platter of cookies and milk.

Ruth: Who wants cookies and milk?

She smiles widely at NATE. Suddenly a small, Asian boy comes up to NATE, holding a bowl of water.

Boy: I know the secret to everything. But you’ll never know it, because you killed us.

Lying on his desk, NATE jumps up with a start. It is late at night. The dream has truly shook him up.

Scene Thirteen: Keith's Bedroom.

KEITH hangs up the phone.

Keith: Hit and run at Washington and Third. The vehicle’s description matches Karla’s car.

DAVID’s mouth opens wide. He is shocked.

Keith: The old, bald, white guy was dead before he got to Cedars.

David: Oh, my God. What do we do?

Keith: What the hell do you think we do?

Scene Fourteen: Lifestyle Party.

BRENDA and MELISSA are talking to a couple.

Man: Marley and I were fighting night and day. And then we came to one of these parties. It was like we rediscovered each other. And things have been hot between us ever since.

Melissa: That is such a heartwarming story.

From MELISSA’s tone of voice, they cannot tell if she’s mocking them or being genuine, and she gives them no clues either way. They get a bit uncomfortable.

Woman: Some people just need a little extra help to stay together, you know? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Man: I need all the help I can get.

They both laugh.

Man: Oh, Marley, show the gals that thing I got you for your birthday.

Woman: Oh!

She gets out her purse.

Man: This has given us at least another five years.

Brenda: Oh, this sounds good! Should we guess what it is?

Woman: No, no, I’ll tell you. It’s this little gizmo that he got on-line at a sex website. And, well, you’ve just got to see it to believe it!

Brenda: (laughs) I can’t wait.

BRENDA is eating all this up. MELISSA is not.

Melissa: I can. I’m gonna get another drink.

She gets up and walks away. She motions to BRENDA, who waves her off.

Woman: I can’t find it. I’ll just kill myself if I lost it! Why do I lose everything?

Man: You probably left it in your coat. I think we left them in that room over there.

She goes off to find it.

Man: I’ll just go help Marley for a second. (pauses) Or you could come with us, if you want.

BRENDA laughs and shakes her head. Then she thinks a moment and reconsiders.

Brenda: Sure, I’ll... help you.

She gives him a knowing look. He goes into the next room, where Marley is waiting, and she follows him in and closes the door behind them.

The screen fades to white.

Act Four

Scene One: Mr. Srisai's Funeral Service.

NATE and DAVID watch the proceedings from the hallway.

Nate: I just saw Mr. Srisai’s brother-in-law put $20 in the casket.

David: It’s traveling money for his journey. Apparently, unlike the rest of us, Buddhists can take it with them.

They both smile quietly. Cut to RUTH and CLAIRE, coming down the stairs, carrying wrapped presents.

Claire: Why am I giving Brenda napkin rings?

Ruth: Because that’s all I had in the gift closet.

As CLAIRE walks by, she stops and sees one of the men in the Slumber Room snapping photographs of the deceased. She smacks NATE on the back.

Claire: Hey, they’re allowed to take pictures of the dead guy, but I’m not?!

Nate: That’s right. They’re family.

Ruth: Claire, we’re going to be late.

Claire: I can’t believe I have to go to this thing.

Nate: Alright, look, I’m sorry. Look, on the plus side, I bet it’ll only take you 2 sips of Margaret’s punch before you’re completely wasted.

Claire: Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.

Scene Two: Margaret's Condo.

The place is full of people, but BRENDA’s not there. CLAIRE and RUTH sit together on a couch.

Margaret: More punch, anyone?

Claire: Yeah, sure, I’ll take another hit.

CLAIRE has obviously taken NATE’s advice to heart. She hands her glass to MARGARET, who refills it.

Margaret: That brat’s over an hour late. For the life of me, I don’t know how she got so damn passive aggressive!

She hands the glass to CLAIRE.

Claire: Isn’t that just being aggressive?

MARGARET stops and looks at CLAIRE in the face.

Margaret: Are you sick, dear? Or are you always this deathly pale?

The door opens and BRENDA stumbles in. Her makeup is messed up and she is clearly high. MELISSA follows. She is completely straight.

Brenda: I’m not late, am I?

Margaret: You most certainly are. (bringing over a plate) Ice-cold mini asparagus quiche, darling?

BRENDA automatically gets sick and runs off. MELISSA steps up, smiles and takes one.

Scene Three: Mr. Srisai's Funeral Service.

NATE and DAVID continue to watch from the next room. They watch PHIL and BETTE SRISAI, who walk up to the coffin. RICO gives each a cup of water.

Nate: What are they doing with those little cups of water?

David: It’s a cleansing ritual. You rid yourself of any wrongs you’ve done to the deceased.

They watch as BETTE and PHIL each pour their small glasses of water into a larger bowl, resting in MR. SRISAI’s arms.

Nate: You really think that changes anything? Pouring a little water into a bowl?

David: I don’t know. (hopefully) Maybe. (checks his watch) I have to go. Can you make sure that the monks get home alright?

NATE nods. They watch PHIL and RICO lead the crying BETTE to her seat.

David: Oh, and you’ll pour the water out from Mr. Srisai’s bowl? You’re supposed to do it over the oldest tree you can find. I use the one out front. (watching some of the mourners taking oranges out of bags) I don’t know why they always bring so many oranges. But if there are any extra, grab some for the prep room.

NATE gives him a weird look and DAVID leaves.

Scene Four: Margaret's Condo.

RUTH stands talking to BRENDA, completely oblivious as to how fucked-up she is.

Ruth: This punch is delicious. Your mother made it with a liqueur from Belize. It’s some word with a tilda over the “N”. So... what’s new?

Brenda: Actually, I spent all night doing it with this couple from Orange County. And I have absolutely no idea why. It was at one of those sex things, you know? Lifestyle parties?
Quick cut to BRENDA laughing.

Ruth: I don’t know anything about that.

Brenda: They have this little high-tech Japanese vibrator that stimulates the clitoris through very, very low voltage electrical shocks. Anyway, they invited me, you know?, to go with them, and I thought, now, this would be crossing a line. Which I seem to be doing more and more these days, because you know what? The lines are only in our heads. In actuality, there are no lines at all, which is really fucking terrifying, if you think about it.

Ruth: What’s so funny?

Brenda: Nothing. Everything. This.

Ruth: I want you to know something, Brenda. I– I love you. (BRENDA just stares, dumbstruck) I love you, because you are so independent and spirited, and you make no apologies for yourself. (almost on the verge of tears) And you know you can’t smother someone or you’ll lose them. You accept Nate as he is, and that is beautiful. (now crying) I don’t know how to do that. I– not at all. Maybe that’s why I resented you so much. But now I don’t. (smiles) Now I admire you.

BRENDA is moved. RUTH hugs BRENDA, who now feels more like shit than she ever has in her life.

Brenda: Thank you. Thanks.

Ruth: I have to go to the bathroom.

She walks away. On her way to the bathroom, she passes CLAIRE, who has had too much too drink. She’s sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall.

Ruth: Claire, are you feeling alright?

Claire: Yeah, I’m just tired.

Ruth: Let me feel your forehead. (touches her lips to CLAIRE’s forehead) It feels okay. I don’t know why you should be tired. You slept 11 hours last night.

Claire: I’m not really, like, want-to-go-to-sleep tired. I’m just sort of like sick and tired of everything.

Ruth: What do you mean?

Claire: Just like all the lies we’re fed. And the bullshit we’re supposed to care about, and how like everybody is so scared of anything that’s different from like everything else. (sighs) I don’t know... I’m gonna get some coffee. Do you want some?

Ruth: I have to use the bathroom.

CLAIRE stands and leaves. RUTH goes to and pushes open the bathroom door, but screams when a man walks out, in a robe. It’s BERNARD.

Bernard: You must be Ruth. Bernard Chenowith.

Ruth: Oh, hello.

Bernard: I’m so sorry to startle you. I was supposed to confine myself to the master suite, but Margaret doesn’t like me to use her bathroom. She gets insanely territorial about that damn bidet.

Ruth: (nervously) Oh.

Bernard: Well, it’s nice to finally meet you.

Ruth: I know. I don’t know why Nate and Brenda haven’t arranged a dinner or something.

Bernard: (laughs) Well, I could give you half a dozen reasons just off the top of my head! But I’d like to ask you something... (pulls her aside) What steps have you taken to treat your daughter’s depression?

Ruth: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Bernard: Surely you must be aware of it. Now, if you’re adverse to talk therapy, there are scads of pharmaceutical solutions. Either way, I’d be more than happy to recommend the name of somebody she can see.

Ruth: I’m sorry. I have to use the bathroom.

Scene Five: Montage.

NATE continues to watch the funeral. Four monks, sitting on a bench, begin to chant. NATE closes his eyes, listening to the hypnotic sounds (which continue throughout the montage).

Cut to KARLA’s building, where she is being led away by police, followed by KEITH. She turns and looks at him.

Cut to MARGARET’s condo. RUTH is looking out the window. BRENDA is standing in a corner, feeling horrible about herself. She watches MELISSA laughing and chatting with BERNARD. She looks away.

Cut to DAVID and KEITH’s apartment. DAVID carries in a bunch of TAYLOR’s things. He looks like he feels awful. TAYLOR sits on the couch and looks at him, hurt and sad. DAVID stares back, feeling guilty. TAYLOR looks away. DAVID continues staring at her.

Cut to outside Fisher & Sons. NATE pours out the bowl of water against the trunk of the tree. He turns and sees four of the dream children watching him and smiling. He smiles back. He pours the rest out. The chanting dies out.

Scene Six: Hallway Outside Margaret's Condo.

MELISSA and BRENDA are alone in the hallway.

Melissa: You’re breaking up with me?

Brenda: I’m saying I don’t think we have a healthy friendship. We shouldn’t see each other anymore.

Melissa: Okay.

Brenda: I don’t know how else to explain it.

Melissa: Don’t bother, really.

She pushes the elevator button.

Brenda: I’m going through something right now. I don’t understand exactly what it is, but I need to be around people who aren’t like you. People who have clear values or something.

Melissa: (has had enough) Okay, got it.

Brenda: You know?, if I hadn’t met you I probably wouldn’t be doing all the shit I’ve been doing. Not that I blame you exactly.

Melissa: (laughs) Oh, brother. Just can it, sweetheart. (the elevator comes) You can’t stand to see the truth about yourself, so I’ve got to take the fall. Just do me a favor: (gets in the elevator) when you feel bad about this later, you can skip the big apology and trying to be friends again. It was fun, but we should both move on.

The elevator doors close.

Scene Seven: Fisher & Sons Front Steps.

NATE and LISA sit on the front steps.

Nate: So now you know what was really going on with me that night in Seattle.

Lisa: So, is the Western medicine controlling the seizures?

Nate: Not entirely. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this earlier. I think I was just trying to not face it myself. (she nods) Lisa, I’ve changed. I used to be this person who ran away from responsibility, but I’m not him anymore. I want to be a part of our child’s life. I really want to. I need to.

Lisa: Is this about you being a father for someone, or is this about you being scared of death?

Nate: Does it really matter?

Lisa: Maybe it doesn’t. (smiles) This is going to take some adjusting. (they both nod and smile) Maybe we can work out something. This is what you want, right?

Nate: It is absolutely what I want.

Lisa: It’s not like Brenda told you this was the right thing to do or something.

Nate: No, no. She doesn’t even know about it.

LISA pauses, stops acting so happy. She shakes her head, disbelieving.

Nate: What?

Lisa: Nate, you are so... This is no good. I just want to get away from you. (gets up)

Nate: Look, I don’t understand. What’s going on?

Lisa: I was so stupid to think that anything could ever change you! You don’t want a child, so you agree not to be a part of that child’s life. Then you decide you do want a child, and you say you want to be a part of that child’s life, with a total disregard for the person you’re supposedly sharing a life with!

Nate: Lisa, all I said–

Lisa: (interrupts) Jesus, Nate! If you can’t ever put anyone else but yourself first, how can you be a father? You can’t! So do us both a favor and stay out of our lives. Please.

She walks away while NATE just sits there.

The screen fades to white.



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