"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

"MIDNIGHT COWBOY"

by

Waldo Salt

Based on a novel by

James Leo Herlihy

Draft: 2/2/68



FADE IN:

INT. TV STUDIO - DAY

A Susskind-type MODERATOR is speaking into camera:

MODERATOR
Tonight we'll discuss a subject most
of us seem to consider either bad
taste or frivolous or funny. But if
our experts are right, we face what
might be called a masculinity crisis.
Every fourth American man uptight,
threatened by the increasing sexual
demands of American women...

EXT. SIDEWALK INTERVIEW - DAY

An IRATE WOMAN speaks into camera:

IRATE WOMAN
They always put it that way, but
well, all it means, you know, is
every fourth American woman's never
satisfied. That's it. I never am --
have been, you know...

EXT. SIDEWALK INTERVIEW - DAY

A COOL WOMAN speaks into camera:

COOL WOMAN
This, this image of the, the man
eating woman. It isn't our increasing
demands. I think it's the shrinking
American male...

EXT. SIDEWALK INTERVIEW - DAY

A SAD WOMAN speaks into camera:

SAD WOMAN
No, I never had, well, whatever it
is you call it. But the hours he
works, I can't blame him...

INT. CAFETERIA SCULLERY (TEXAS) - DAY

Full frame -- a scandal sheet picture of a sex-starved wife,
naked while her husband sleeps, captioned I BUY WHAT MY
HUSBAND CAN'T GIVE.

SAD WOMAN'S VOICE
...but it's a problem. A big problem.
With so many women I know...

Camera pulls back to show the picture among other pinups of
women -- rich, beautiful or naked, but all blonde -- steam
wilted on the wall over a dishwashing machine. JOE BUCK grins
at the wall as he scrapes garbage.

JOE
Just keep your pants on, ladies...

MULTIPLE SPLIT SCREEN

A LADY COMMENTATOR, gradually surrounded by lonely women...
BEAUTY PARLOR
FASHION SHOW
PSYCHIATRIST'S COUCH
COCKTAIL BAR
GYMNASIUM
STATUE OF LIBERTY

LADY COMMENTATOR
Before World War One -- American men
outnumbered women by over six percent.
Today American women not only
outnumber men, but live five years
longer -- leaving them in control of
vast corporate wealth and seventy-
five percent of America's purchasing
power...

The Lady Commentator is replaced by Joe, stacking dishes,
surrounded by frustrated ladies. He laughs tolerantly.

JOE
Y'all,line up and take your turn...

INT. TV STUDIO - DAY

The Moderator smiles into camera.

MODERATOR
My question is this -- will American
know-how come up with a marketable
male to replace all the men who are
worrying themselves into an early
grave over women's increasing sexual
demands?

INT. STALL SHOWER - DAY

Joe sings as he soaps himself, "Whoopee ti yi yo, git along
little dogies, for you know New York will be your new home!"
Sound and image freeze on Joe's open mouth.

SUPERIMPOSED MAIN TITLE AND CREDITS

TITLES follow as indicated, sound and action continuing after
each credit.

INT. SUNSHINE CAFETERIA - DAY

Joe's song continues over a sweating WAITRESS, glancing up.

WAITRESS
Where's that Joe Buck?

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Wrapped in a towel, singing in front of his dresser mirror,
Joe sprays himself with deodorant, aiming a last playful
blast at the unseen crotch -- freezing song and image as
CREDITS continue over...

...a calendar girl on the wall blushing orange, mouth frozen
in a tiny O, staring wide-eyed. Joe's song continues as...

...Joe rips the wrapping from a new Stetson and sets it on
his head, freezing song and image as CREDITS continue.

INT. CAFETERIA SCULLERY - DAY

RALPH, an aging black man, faces a mountain of dirty dishes.

RALPH
Where's that Joe Buck?

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Singing as he buttons his new cowboy shirt, Joe interrupts
himself to answer Ralph...

JOE
Yeah, where's that Joe Buck?

...continuing his song as he pulls up and zips his tight
thighed black slacks, freezing song and image for CREDITS.

INT. REMEMBERED BEAUTY PARLOR - ANOTHER TIME

SALLY BUCK, a pretty middle-aged blonde, smiles down at
camera,

SALLY BUCK
You look real nice, Joe baby...

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Joe sings as he pulls on his new cowboy boots, arranging his
cuffs to show off the yellow sunburst at the ankle, freezing
song and image for CREDITS.

INT. SUNSHINE CAFETERIA - DAY

The pink MANAGER scowls at his pocket watch.

MANAGER
Where's that Joe Buck?

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Joe hums as he piles a complete wardrobe of cowboy clothes,
still in their wrappers, into a shiny new suitcase of black
and white horsehide.

JOE
Yeah, where's that Joe Buck?

INT. SUNSHINE CAFETERIA - DAY

Holding his watch, the Manager wags a finger at camera.

MANAGER
You're due here at four o'clock.
Look at those dishes, look!

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Joe laughs as he locks his suitcase.

JOE
Know what you can do with those
dishes? And if you ain't man enough
to do it yourself, I'd be happy to
oblige...

Joe picks up his suitcase, a portable transistor radio, walks
away from the mirror, then pauses to run a comb through his
hair, hook a cigarette at the corner of his mouth and strike
a match on his thumbnail before he turns back for one admiring
glance at himself in the mirror -- proud, exultant, ready --
freezing the image as CREDITS END.

EXT. TEXAS TOWN MAIN STREET - DAY

Joe leaves the hotel, carrying his suitcase.

INT. CAFETERIA SCULLERY - DAY

The pink Manager points at his watch angrily.

MANAGER
Four to midnight, understand?

Angle widens to include Joe, holding his suitcase and radio.
Ralph stares at him curiously, stacking dishes.

JOE
Say, look, uh, I gotta have a word
with you, if you got a second.

MANAGER
Later. Later maybe.

The Manager hurries away, carrying a basket of dishes.

RALPH
You ain't coming to work?

JOE
Don't guess. Just come for my day's
pay owing and to tell you I'm heading
East.

Joe tilts his Stetson as the Waitress appears at the door...

WAITRESS
Cups!

...but she disappears without noticing Joe. Ralph offers his
hand. Joe takes it, holds it.

RALPH
What you gonna do back there, East?

JOE
Lotta rich women back there...

RALPH
Yeah?

JOE
Men, they mostly faggots.

RALPH
Must be some mess back there.

JOE
Well, ain't no use hanging around
here.

RALPH
Ain't gonna collect your pay?

JOE
I got me two hundred twenty-four
bucks of flat folding money...
(slaps hip)
He know what he can do with that
chicken-shit day's pay. And if he
ain't man enough to do it for himself,
I be happy to oblige!

INT. SUNSHINE CAFETERIA - DAY

The door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY swings open and Joe appears,
measuring his effect on the customers and his fellow employees
as he crosses the sterile white dining room, observing the
drab details of the life he has left behind - garbage on
greasy dishes, limp food in steam table trays, coffee-soaked
cigarette butts, caked mustard and ketchup on formica table
tops -- two pimply high school girls slurping suggestive
noises after Joe through the straws of empty coke glasses.

O.S. a Tiomkin-tradition chorus sings, "From this valley
they say you are going -- we will miss your bright eyes and
sweet smile for they say you are taking the sunshine..."

EXT. TOWN MAIN STREET - DAY

The song ends as Joe comes from the cafeteria "... that
brightened our pathway a while."

JOE
Tough tiddy, ladies, you had your
chance.

From a high angle -- Joe starts his long walk toward the bus
depot along the street of a small Western town struggling to
urbanize itself. The click-clack-click of his boots is loud
but somehow lonely The radio at his ear drones grain prices
on the Commodity change. Joe's pace slows as he passes...

EXT. SALLY BUCK'S BEAUTY SALON - DAY

...a gilt-lettered sign in the window, glittering in the
sun, momentarily hiding the fact that the shop is deserted.
Joe grins as he hears remembered sounds and voices incomplete
flashes, more significant in tone than content a girl giggling
sexily -- "Keep your meat hooks off my beauty operators,
sugar" -- tinkling noises of a busy beauty parlor - Sally
Buck singing "Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Grammaw
gonna buy you a mockingbird..."

...a shift of light revealing a row of tarnished driers, a
broken mirror, a FOR RENT sign in the window. Joe turns toward
the bus depot, radio pressed to his ear.

ANNOUNCER'S VOICE
Benson and Hedges One Hundreds makes
special awards from time to time for
anything that's longer than
anything...

JOE
Care to get out your yardstick,
gentlemen?

At the same moment, a recognizable variant of the "Big
Country" theme blares loud.

INTERCUT WESTERN FILM CLIP

Gary Cooper (or John Wayne) walks a frontier street.

EXT. BUS DEPOT - DAY

High angle of the departing bus, intercut "Big Country"
fashion, alternating high shots with close-ups of the bus
wheels.

EXT. FREEWAY CLOVERLEAF - DAY

Through the bus windshield -- a dizzying montage of traffic
lines, arrows and signs as the bus sweeps around and up onto
the freeway.

INT. BUS - DAY

Joe sits at the front, opposite the driver, cracking his gum
as he watches the huge billboards streaking by, promising
him power, happiness and beautiful women if he chooses the
right breakfast food, hair oil or automobile. Joe listens to
the humming tires, the roar of the engine, shaking his head.

JOE
This is a powerful mothah, ain't it?

Ignored by the driver, Joe rises and walks back to his empty
double seat, glancing around to see what impression he's
made on his immediate fellow travelers -- an OLD LADY in
front of him -- a hostile young sailor with acne behind him --
two teeny-boppers flirting with Joe hysterically -- a PALE
BLONDE directly across the aisle, smiling at Joe weakly.

PALE BLONDE
Do you have a stick of gum?

Joe leans across, snapping his gum as he offers her a stick.
He watches her nibble it daintily on her front teeth.

PALE BLONDE
Thank you.

JOE
Plenty more where that came from.

PALE BLONDE
Thank you, no, it's just till the
Dramamine works. I get carsick.

JOE
I only get carsick on boats.
(waits, then)
But seems to me that's more the fish
smell than the bouncing...

Joe realizes that her eyes are closed. Mildly depressed, he
stretches himself across both seats and turns on his radio,
finds only static and snaps it off. Further depressed, he
examines his reflection in the bus window, squeezes a black
head and runs the comb through his hair, picks a piece of
tobacco off his tooth and lights a cigarette, watching the
flame die in reflection, forgetting to discard the burnt-out
match as he stares out at a vast lonely prairie, a solitary
cowboy in the distance, a row of sharecropper shacks
apparently deserted, a barefoot little girl motionless at
the roadside, watching the bus pass. Through this, leading
into the next scene, Sally Buck sings softly "... if that
mocking bird don't sing, Grammaw gonna buy you a golden
ring..."

INT. REMEMBERED BEAUTY SALON - ANOTHER TIME

Sally Buck, relaxing in the middle of a busy day, eyes closed
wearily, while little Joe massages her neck. Her song
continues over the noises of the busy beauty parlor "...if
that golden ring turns brass, Grammaw gonna buy you a looking
glass..."

SALLY BUCK
No, a little lower, sugar, yeah,
yeah, that's good. Grammaw's beat.

SALESMAN'S VOICE
You gotta sell yourself, that's the
whole trick...

INT. BUS - DAY

A seedy TRAVELING SALESMAN with badly-fitted dentures and a
frayed collar has taken the aisle seat next to Joe. As he
lectures Joe on salesmanship, he figures his expenses in a
worn leatherette notebook, nervous fingers and eyes
unconsciously revealing the extent of his failure.

SALESMAN
It ain't the product and it ain't
the price, no sir, and it ain't what
you sell, it's personality, pure and
simple. I ain't shined my own shoes
or shaved my own face in forty years,
how's that? Not bad for a kid that
didn't pass the eighth grade, right?

JOE
Yeah, hell, yeah.

SALESMAN
And that's my golden rule. Make 'em
love you. Put yourself over and you
can sell them anything. If they like
you, they'll buy horsemeat for prime
beef...

INT. REMEMBERED BEAUTY SALON - ANOTHER TIME

A gawky, adolescent Joe sits sprawled on the couch, leafing
through a magazine while Sally Buck bleaches the roots of a
young woman's hair.

SALLY BUCK
You get him to the church, honey. He
ain't gonna find out you ain't a
real blonde till after you're married,
then's too late.

Sally Buck turns, pretending to be stern as Joe laughs.

SALLY BUCK
You getting too big for your britches,
sugar.

EXT. HIGHWAY - NIGHT

The headlights of the bus flash past a huge sign, painted on
the slant roof of a barn: JESUS SAVES.

INT. BUS - NIGHT

Joe is alone again. The Salesman has disappeared. The bus is
dark, most-passengers trying to sleep. Only one reading light
still burns, over the head of the old-Lady in the seat ahead
of Joe. Joe squirms, restless, trying to lull himself to
sleep with the music of a revivalist gospel group on the
radio.

SALLY BUCK'S VOICE
Don't forget to say your prayers,
honey...

Joe leans forward to help the old Lady, irritably struggling
with the release button on her seat. She scowls as Joe leans
over to release her seat, then pulls her blanket around her
and turns away from him. Joe switches off her reading light.

OLD LADY
I want it on.

Joe switches it on again, fakes a good-natured grin, settles
back with his radio, aware of an OLD COWHAND seated opposite
him, replacing the Pale Blonde. The Old Cowhand is appraising
Joe's wardrobe curiously. He looks away when he sees Joe
watching him. Joe settles back, unable to think of a way to
open a conversation.

EVANGELIST'S VOICE
Oh, my friends, I say unto you, invest
with Jesus, put your dollars to work
where they'll pay off at compound
interest. The Good Book says money
answereth all things...

The Old Cowhand has rolled-himself a cigarette. Joe quickly
lights a match on his thumb and holds it across the aisle.

JOE
Light?

The Old Cowhand's "thanks" is lost in a fit of coughing as
he inhales his first drag. He settles back, wiping his watery
eyes on a faded bandanna.

EVANGELIST'S VOICE
...everyone who sends a dollar to
the Evangelical Congregation of the
Air will get free gratis a genuine
leatherette hymn book so you can
sing along with Sister Rosella and
the Evangelical Choir...

JOE
You throw in Sister Rosella and you
got a deal, right, old timer?

Joe glances across the aisle. The Old Cowhand manages a faint,
humorless smile.

JOE
Going far?

OLD COWHAND
Up the line. Not far.

JOE
I'm bound for New York City.

The Old Cowhand reappraises Joe's wardrobe even more
curiously.

JOE
Ever happen to come across a cowman
name of Woodsy Niles? Friend of my
grammaw Sally Buck...

The Old Cowhand considers, shakes his head. Joe leans back,
laughing to himself.

INT. REMEMBERED BEDROOM - ANOTHER TIME

Little Joe's head is lost in a beat-up cowboy hat, similar
to the one worn by the old Cowhand. Sally Buck smiles on
WOODSY NILES -- a long-legged cowboy with a shock of black
hair -- who stands at her dressing table, admiring himself
in a new Stetson.

SALLY BUCK
Like it, honey? Does it fit?

WOODSY
You do me good, Sal, you do me real
good. You know what I gonna give you
for that Stetson?

Woodsy grabs Sally Buck, lifting her off her feet, carrying
her to the bed. Struggling, they fall across the covers
together, Little Joe laughing with them.

SALLY BUCK
Woodsy Niles! The boy!

WOODSY
He don't know what makes little apples
by now, it's time he found out.

INT. BUS - NIGHT

Joe shakes his head, grinning, offering the old Cowhand a
cigarette.

JOE
Smoke?

The old Cowhand shakes his head, showing the rolled cigarette
Joe lit for him. Joe nods, still bemused.

INT. REMEMBERED BEDROOM - ANOTHER TIME

Little Joe is cuddled in Sally Buck's arms, under the covers,
watching Woodsy, sitting cross-legged on the bed, naked except
for his Stetson and guitar, singing drunkenly.

WOODSY
...git along little dogies!

EXT. MIDWEST TOWN - MORNING

From a high angle -- the bus slows to a stop.

INT. BUS - MORNING

Joe awakens, stiff-necked, momentarily confused. He
straightens in his seat as he sees the old Cowhand lifting a
sweat-stained saddle down from the overhead rack, starting
toward the front of the bus. Joe calls after him.

JOE
Nice talking to you, old timer.

Joe stuffs a stick of gum in his mouth, turns to wave at the
Old Cowhand through the window as the bus pulls away.

WOODSY'S VOICE
She-dogs squat, boy. He-dogs stand
up and lift their leg...

INT. REMEMBERED MEN'S ROOM - ANOTHER TIME

Woodsy, in his new Stetson, watches Little Joe in his beat-
up cowboy hat, trying to balance on one foot, one leg lifted
in front of the trough. Woodsy roars with laughter.

WOODSY
...but he-men stand and shoot from
the hip.

INT. BUS RESTROOM - DAY

Joe laughs, flushes, checks his hair in the mirror.

EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY

The bus streaks past a brightly-colored billboard -- IN NEW
YORK, A WELCOME AWAITS YOU AT THE TIMES SQUARE PALACE HOTEL!

INT. BUS - DAY

Joe is now sitting in the wide rear seat, between two young
MARINES and a group of VETERANS wearing campaign caps and
convention buttons, passing a bottle, singing "From the Halls
of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli..." Joe follows the
conversation between a VETERAN and a MARINE, participating
only because he's sitting beside them, adopting a remembered
military stance.

VETERAN
Ever stationed at Kennedy? Those
Florida chicks...

MARINE
Instant V-goddam-D.

VETERAN
This Pensacola teeny-bopper -- jail
bait -- but built? Ten bucks she
wanted. Three of us made a deal for,
twenty-five, see, big goddam bargain?

MARINE
Big peni-goddam-cillin bargain, right?

VETERAN
You got it.

MARINE
No. You got it.

JOE
Jesus goddam Christ, I ain't laughed
so hard since I was out at Fort
Benning, Georgia.

MARINE
Did you make the Viet?

JOE
What? Oh, hell no. Motor pool
mostly...
(shakes his head)
Kee-rist...

INT. REMEMBERED WHOREHOUSE - ANOTHER TIME

A plump, aging PROSTITUTE laughs up into camera.

PROSTITUTE
Hey, hey, what you try to do to me?
You gonna cost me money, soldier!

INT. BUS - DAY

Joe laughs as he passes the bottle, trying to sing along
without knowing the words as the Veterans segue into "Over
hill, over dale, we will hit the dusty trail, as the caissons
go rolling along..."

INT. REMEMBERED BEAUTY SALON - ANOTHER TIME

Sally Buck fondly wipes lipstick from Joe's lips.

SALLY BUCK
Keep your meat hooks off my operators,
sugar, hear?

INT. BUS - DAY

Joe slaps one of the Veterans on the back, trying to follow
the song into "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder..."

INT. REMEMBERED MOVIE HOUSE - ANOTHER TIME

ANASTASIA clutches a younger Joe, eyes wild, gasping.

ANASTASIA
You're the only one, Joe, the only,
only one ever!

INT. BUS - DAY

Joe is leaning across the two Marines, staring out of the
window as the Veterans switch to "Anchors aweigh, my boys,
anchors aweigh..."

EXT. MANHATTAN SKYLINE - DAY

A stunning view through the bus window past Joe's reflection.

JOE'S REFLECTION
Gonna swing my lasso and rope that
whole goddam island, yeah!

EXT. BROADWAY PARADE - DAY

Drum majorettes leading the parade -- ticker tape and confetti --
girls at skyscraper windows.

INTERCUT NEWSREEL CLIP

Charles Lindberg (or James Stewart) waving at the crowd.

EXT. NEW YORK HARBOR - DAY

Girls lining the piers -- flags, banners, bunting -- ship
horns, whistles, bells.

INT. BUS - DAY

Joe crowded as the veterans prepare to leave the bus, lifting
down banners and flags.

EXT. LINCOLN TUNNEEL - DAY

The bus suddenly surrounded by converging traffic, horns
honking, segueing into the noises of Times Square.

EXT. MARQUEE - DAY

Flag draped, reading: WELCOME VETERANS.

EXT. STREET - BANNER - DAY

Flapping in the wind -- WELCOME VETERANS!

EXT. TIMES SQUARE PALACE HOTEL - DAY

The marquee announces TRANSIENTS WELCOME. O.S. a singing
radio station break blares "W-I-N-S NEW YORK..."

EXT. RADIO TOWER - DAY

The sign flashes WINS "...ten-ten on your dial!" A torchy
woman's voice sings from a lonely echo chamber -- introducing
a love theme which will haunt Joe throughout the film.

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

Joe sets his radio on the dresser, his suitcase on the bed,
then turns to examine his new home -- as anonymous as his
Texas hotel room -- but boasting a coin-operated television
set. Fascinated, Joe inserts a quarter.

...the love song continues over a television talk Show
featuring a POODLE WIGMAKER defending his profession against
a Joe Pyne-type PANEL HOST, "...well, I perform a real
service, there's a need, so many people, you know, really
live in their pets, I mean, lonely, I grant you, but their
feeling is real. They want to lavish as much love, give them
as much, yes, pamper them like they were really human children
or whatever..."

SALLY BUCK'S VOICE
There's a TV dinner in the fridge,
lover boy...

INT. REMEMBERED PARLOR - ANOTHER TIME

Little Joe stares sullenly at an antique TV box while Sally
Buck puts her hat on at the fireplace mirror. There is a
framed picture of Woodsy Niles on the mantle.

SALLY BUCK
You be okay, won't you? Maybe I bring
you a treat if you're a good boy...

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

Joe watches the Panel Host, "... you're a nut case, fella, a
real nut case..."

INT. REMEMBERED BEAUTY SALON - ANOTHER TIME

Little Joe massaging Sally Buck's neck -- continuing the
earlier scene.

SALLY BUCK
I'm so beat, no point you waiting
round, toots, think I'll stop in for
a beer or two...

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

Joe sits on the edge of the bed, watching the poodles primp.

INT. REMEMBERED PARLOR - ANOTHER TIME

Little Joe stares unblinking at the TV screen as Sally Buck
kisses him on the forehead, dressed for the street.

SALLY BUCK
Expect me when you see me. Looks
like I got me a new beau, lover boy,
how's that for an old grammaw? I'll
leave you movie money...

Sally Buck tucks a dollar bill under a framed picture of
Jesus, who has replaced Woodsy Niles on the mantle.

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

As a fairy godmother's magic wand removes sticky hair spray
from a pretty model's head, Joe's quarter runs out and the
screen goes blank. At the same moment, the love song is cut
off by a singing station break "W-I-N-S NEW YORK" Joe rises,
flipping the dial of the radio to a cultured woman's voice
reading "...the Dow Jones averages, brought you by Morgan
Vandercook. Up your income with sound investment
counseling..."

JOE
Up yours, lady.

...but Joe leaves the lady on, savoring the expensive sound
of her voice reading the stock quotations. Joe seats himself
at the desk, pleased to find a postcard photograph of the
hotel. He picks up a ballpoint pen, counts ten floors up
from the street and marks a huge X -- THIS IS ME, then turns
the card over, pen poised over the address blank.

INT. CAFETERIA SCULLERY - DAY

Ralph stares at the card, surrounded by dirty dishes.

RALPH
Hell, he know I can't read...

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

Joe's pen wavers, starts to write and stops.

EXT. SALLY BUCK'S BEAUTY PARLOR - DAY

As we saw it last, deserted, a FOR RENT sign in the window.
Joe's reflection appears, staring at himself, dressed in his
dishwasher's clothes.

JOE'S VOICE
After all them dishes are washed,
what?

JOE'S REFLECTION
Then they bring some more dishes and
I wash them and then I, uh, sleep
some and then wash some more dishes
and then I...

JOE'S VOICE
Say it, lover boy!

JOE'S REFLECTION
Die.

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

Joe stares at the postcard, bemused,

JOE'S VOICE
Well, you better just shake your
tail, lover boy, and root, hog or
die.

Joe rises abruptly, rips up the postcard and tosses it out
the window.

JOE
Goddam if I came to this town to
write postcards.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - DAY

The torn fragments flutter down on the crowd -- a woman
brushing irritably at her hair -- a man grimacing, glancing
up -- a cop removing his hat to examine it.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE PALACE HOTEL - DAY

From a low angle -- identical with the postcard photograph --
an unseen hand scrawls a huge X--- THIS IS ME. Camera zooms
up to a close-up of Joe at the window.

EXT. FIFTH AVENUE - DAY

From on high -- as though Joe were watching himself -- the
Stetson moves through a crowd of Fifth Avenue shoppers...

EXT. GLASS BUILDING - DAY

...passing a glass bank, lady tellers counting money...

EXT. CAR SHOWROOM - DAY

...passing a display of imported luxury cars...

EXT. JEWELRY STORE - DAY

...passing a window which features a single gem -- pausing
as horns blast O.S. and a mod blonde in a stalled sports car
motions to Joe -- she needs a push. Joe grins, glances at
himself in the window, runs a comb through his hair, then
turns back to see a cop helping the mod blonde.

EXT. PARK AVENUE - DAY

Joe's heels drag as he walks a deserted block of luxury
apartment houses. O.S. The torchy woman's voice sings Joe's
love theme in counterpoint to the blasting horns, a siren, a
fire bell, a screech of brakes. Joe's spirits rise as he
hears the tic-tac-tic of high heels overtaking the heavy
click-clack-click of his boots. He adjusts his pace to arrive
at the corner at the same time as a smart and -- in Joe's
eyes -- very RICH LADY. Joe grins boyishly, holding his
Stetson over his heart.

JOE
Beg pardon, ma'am, I'm new here in
town, just in from Houston, Texas,
and looking for the Statue of Liberty.

The delicate profile gives no signs of hearing. Joe follows
her to the parkway in the middle of the avenue. There she
stops and turns, neither friendly nor hostile.

RICH LADY
Were you looking? About the Statue
of Liberty?

JOE
Joking? No, ma'am. Oh no! I mean
business!

RICH LADY
I'm sorry. I thought you were --
never mind -- I've never actually
been there, but let me see, you take
the Seventh Avenue subway, I think,
to the end of the line...

JOE
You sure are a pretty lady.

The Rich Lady tries to frown, taken aback, blushing.

RICH LADY
You're not looking for the Statue of
Liberty at all.

JOE
No, ma'am, I'm not.

RICH LADY
Why, that's perfectly dreadful. Aren't
you ashamed of yourself?

A twinkle of amusement and sympathy reveals the age lines at
the corner of her eyes. Then she continues on quickly, just
as the light turns. Joe's view is blocked for a moment by
traffic, then he sees...

...the Rich Lady, newly aware of her flanks as she climbs
the steps of a brownstone and searches for her key. Still
from Joe's viewpoint, he sees himself move into frame and
follow the Rich Lady up the steps. The love theme swells
O.S. as the Rich Lady leads him into the house and closes
the door...

...leaving Joe standing alone on the parkway island,
surrounded by towering wealth. The love theme continues
over...

EXT. LEXINGTON AVENUE - DAY

...a pair of high-heeled pink slippers, walking a miniature
poodle -- slowing slightly, reacting to Joe's cowboy boots
as they pass, pause and turn back.

CASS'S VOICE
Hurry up, Baby. Do um goody-goods
for Mama.

Joe grins, holding his hat over his heart as he approaches
CASS TREHUNE, a blonde lady in a tight black dress, with the
look of a movie star who wrecked her career with food.

JOE
Beg pardon, ma'am. I'm brand spanking
new to this town, come from Houston,
Texas, and hoping to get a look at
the Statue of Liberty...

CASS
You're hoping to get a look at what?

JOE
The Statue of Liberty.

CASS
It's up in Central Park, taking a
leak. If you hurry, you'll make the
supper show. Now get lost.

But as she turns, Cass winks, dimpling the corners of her
mouth, signaling Joe to follow her.

INT. APARTMENT HOUSE ELEVATOR - DAY

Cass holds the DOOR OPEN button till Joe enters the elevator,
then the doors close with a soft expensive little kllooosh
and Cass turns with the smile of a very tiny girl...

CASS
Hi.

...her lips closing on Joe's as the poodle yaps shrilly at
their feet. Superimposed, almost subliminally, a golden dollar
sign appears, halating like a star, and the bell of a pinball
machine rings O.S.

INT. CASS'S APARTMENT - DAY

A princess telephone is ringing on a gold and white desk.
Cass runs to grab it...

CASS
Hello?

...as Joe steps from the elevator, which opens directly onto
Cass's penthouse. Cass beckons him toward her, hooks a finger
into his neckerchief and pulls his mouth toward hers while
she talks on the phone.

CASS
Morey? Hi-ee, honey...

Cass gurgles happily as her free hand unbuckles Joe's garrison
belt.

CASS
I'm just out of breath, honey, running
to catch the phone.

As her fingers reach for Joe's zipper, cut to...

...Joe's hand unzipping her dress.

CASS
I was walking Baby. Him got to do
him goody-goods, right?

The poodle tugs at Joe's slacks until they fall. Cass steers
her ear to Joe's mouth, shuddering deliciously.

CASS
Oh God, oh stop. I can't stand that.
I just die...
(quickly into phone)
It's Baby, Morey. Him trying to say
hello. Say hello to Morey, Baby.

Cass holds the phone toward the yapping poodle, twisting
herself against Joe as she wriggles out of her dress, passing
the phone from one hand to the other.

CASS
Okay, old goosie? Now lookie, when
do you want me to meet you? Whatever
you say. I'll take a nap, watch TV,
you know, kill time. Okay, but just
one, a big wet one.

Cass hangs up. The poodle yaps hysterically, disentangling
himself from her tumbling dress -- hops onto the couch glances
off and flees again as an overturned lamp crashes O.S.

INT. CASS'S BEDROOM - DAY

The poodle bounces onto the bed -- remaining long enough to
establish a TV REMOTE CONTROL TUNER lying on the satin
coverlet -- then leaps down in panic as he hears Joe and
Cass explode into the bedroom, laughing lustily...

...the remote control tuner buried suddenly under the full
flesh of Cass's hip, activating...

...a twenty-five-inch television screen, blasting at full
volume...

...Cass's eyes widening, profoundly impressed...

CASS
Ye gods...

...the images and sound of the television set flicking
joyfully from channel to channel...

...Joe laughing, engulfed by Cass's abundance...

...Cass wild-eyed, overflowing the frame...

...a gleaming slot machine -- three Sahara cowgirls clicking
into line for jackpot -- silver dollars overflowing the
frame...

EXT. MANHATTAN SKYLINE - DAY

...the Mutual of New York tower flashes MONY!

JOE'S VOICE
Holy shee-it, this is a goddam
penthouse you got here, Cass, a real
goddam penthouse.

INT. CASS'S BEDROOM - DAY

Joe turns away from a small terrace, buckling his belt,
glancing off toward the sound of Cass in the shower. He

flicks the TV remote control, enjoying his power, ignoring
the silent images on the screen -- battle casualties, a pretty
girl recommending aspirin, a man's stomach flashing animated
pain, starving war refugees, a dog eating pzazz -- flicking
it off to concentrate on the costume jewelry and perfume
bottles on Cass's dressing table.

CASS'S VOICE
Don't look, baby...

Joe turns to look as Cass comes from the bathroom, holding a
towel around her as she runs behind the closet door.

JOE
Say, Cass, I, uh, sure have enjoyed
being here. Believe it's as fine a
time as I've had in my life!

CASS'S VOICE
Me, too, lover.

JOE
That's good, it is, cause, well I
guess I didn't tell you why I came
to New York, did I?

A tower of black bugle beads emerges from the closet door.

CASS
Zip this thing, will you, Tex?

Joe zips her dress, follows her to the dressing table, where
she sprays her hair with lacquer.

JOB
Truth is, Cass, I'm, well, I'm in
business.

CASS
Oh, poor you. Morey's got terrible
ulcers.

Cass stretches her upper lip across her teeth and she smears
it with, orange lipstick.

JOE
Don't know what line Morey's in, but
myself now, fact is -- I'm a hustler.

CASS
(lips stretched)
Hers'n zodda meg a livig.

JOE
Beg pardon, ma'am?

CASS
Said, a person's gotta make a living.

JOE
You sure you heard what I said?

CASS
Scuse me, hon, fraid I'm only half
here. Maybe you oughta run on along.
But why don't you take this phone
number?

Joe grins, relieved as she takes out a gold lame purse and
opens it. He frowns as she folds; it upside down, empty.

CASS
Darn! I didn't get to the bank --
Tex -- could you let me have a little
coin for the taxi-waxi?

Joe stands mute as she cups his chin in her hand, seductively.

CASS
You're such a doll. I hate money,
don't you? God, it's been fun.

JOE
Funny thing, you mentioning money. I
was just about to ask you for some...

Joe tries to laugh but it sticks in his throat as Cass speaks --
an impassioned whisper -- still holding Joe's chin.

CASS
You bastard! You son of a bitch! You
think you're dealing with some old
slut? Look at me! You think just
cause you're a longhorn bull you can
get away with this crap? Well, you're
out of your mind. I am a gorgeous
chick, thirty-one, that's right, you
said it!

Sobbing suddenly, she throws herself on the bed. Joe stands
bewildered by the vastness of her grief.

JOE
Hey. Hey, Cass. Did you think I meant
that? Christ, would I be asking you
for money with a wad like that riding
on my hip?

Joe waves his wallet at her, but she only cries louder. He
hands her a kleenex. She clutches it to her face, wailing.
Joe leans over the bed, whispering in her ear:

JOE
Hey. You are a gorgeous-looking piece,
Cass. Guy gets horny, just looking
at you. It's a fact. How much you
need for that taxi? Ten? Twenty?
There you go.

Joe tucks a twenty-dollar bill into her bosom, tilts his
Stetson and starts out. Cass blows her nose, looking after
him. O.S. chorus sings, "From this valley they say you are
going -- we will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile..."

EXT. LEXINGTON AVENUE - DAY

From a high angle, Joe walks away from the apartment house,
chorus continuing O.S. "... they say you are taking the
sunshine that brightened our pathway a while."

INT. EVERETT'S BAR - DAY

Joe sits at the bar, staring morosely at his image in the
mirror, already quite drunk, oblivious to the assorted types
hiding from daylight in the barn-like saloon, waiting for
night to fall.

RATSO'S VOICE
Excuse me, I'm just admiring that
colossal shirt...

RATSO studies Joe across the corner of the bar -- a sickly,
child-size old man of twenty-one -- hopefully nursing an
empty beer glass, contemplating the money on the bar in front
of Joe.

RATSO
That is one hell of a shirt. I bet
you paid a pretty price for it, am I
right?

JOE
Oh, it ain't cheap. I mean, yeah,
I'd say this was an all right shirt.
Don't like to, uh, you know, have a
lot of cheap stuff on my back.

Ratso spits as JACKIE leans on the bar next to Joe -- a
feminine young person, heavily made-up, hair teased, wearing
earrings and a lace-trimmed blouse over shocking pink Levis.

JACKIE
Got a cigarette, cowboy?

RATSO
(a stage whisper)
More goddam faggots in this town.

Reaching for a cigarette, Joe glances at Jackie, startled as
Jackie twitches his pink levis angrily and turns away.

JOE
Shee-it...
(shakes his head)
Kee-rist, you really know the ropes.
Wish to hell I bumped into you before.
I'm Joe Buck from Texas and I'm gonna
buy you a drink, what do you say to
that?

RATSO
Enrico Rizzo from the Bronx. Don't
mind if I do.

JOE
(slaps bar)
Same all around! For my friend, too!

The TV screen over the bar features a mating game program as
Jackie cruises down to join a tall farm boy with plucked
eyebrows. The TV HOST points to three young men, visible
only from the shoulders up, from whom a pretty DATE GIRL in
blindfold must choose an escort.

TV HOST
...and for the losers, who don't get
the girl, we'll give as consolation
prices -- a six month supply of
underarm deodorant...

In a booth now -- the TV screen in the background, continuing
the game -- Joe is refilling Ratso's beer glass as he speaks,
loud over the laughter of the TV audience.

JOE
...you see what I'm getting at here?
She got a penthouse up there with
color TV and more goddam diamonds
than an archbishop and she busts out
bawling when I ask for money!

RATSO
For what?

JOE
For money.

RATSO
For money for what?

JOE
I'm a hustler, hell, didn't you know
that?

RATSO
How would I know? You gotta tell a
person these things
(shakes his head)
A hustler? Picking up trade on the
street like that -- baby, believe me --
you need management.

JOE
I think you just put your finger on
it, I do.

RATSO
My friend O'Daniel. That's who you
need. Operates the biggest stable in
town. In the whole goddam metropolitan
area. A stud like you - paying! --
not that I blame you -- a dame starts
crying, I cut my heart for her...

JACKIE'S VOICE
I'd call that a very minor
operation...

Ratso grabs the neck of a bottle, sliding back in the booth.
Joe scowls as Jackie appears with the tall farm boy.

JACKIE
...in fact, you just sit comfy and
I'll cut it out with my fingernail
file. You won't even need Blue Cross,
Ratso.

RATSO
The name is Rizzo.

JACKIE
That's what I said, Ratso.

JOE
(suddenly)
Hey now, you heard him.

On the TV screen -- the Date Girl announces:

TV DATE GIRL
I pick Number Two! He's cool!

RATSO
That's okay, Joe. I'm used to these
types that like to pick on cripples.
Sewers're full of 'em.

JACKIE
May I ask one thing, cowboy? If you
sit there and he sits way over there,
how's he gonna get his hand into
your pocket? But I'm sure he has
that all figured out...
(to Ratso)
Good night, sweets.

TV HOST
May present your chosen mate!

The TV host pulls aside the screen which has concealed the
lower half of the three young men. Number Two, her chosen
mate, is a dwarf sitting on a high stool. The girl's
spontaneous dismay starts everyone laughing hysterically,
including the dwarf.

EXT. SIXTH AVENUE - DAY

Joe has difficulty keeping up with Ratso, who swings himself
along with surprising agility, his half skipping little gate
favoring one game leg.

RATSO
Look, with these chicks that want to
buy it, most of 'em are older,
dignified, right? Social register
types. They can't be trotting down
to Times Square to pick out the
merchandise. They need a middleman,
right? That's O'Daniel.

Joe hesitates as Ratso darts into traffic against a red light,
yelling unheard obscenities at a cab driver who blasts his
horn. Joe runs recklessly forward as Ratso slams the taxi
fender with his fist, pretending to be hit, falling into
Joe's arms. The taxi stops, halting traffic. Ratso, recovers,
strolls casually in front of the cab, biting his thumb at
the river.

RATSO
It is a crime, a stud like you passing
out double sawbucks to a chick like
that. With proper management you
should be taking home fifty, a hundred
bucks a day. More if you wanta
moonlight...

EXT. SIDEWALK CAFE - COCKTAIL HOUR

At the corner of Central Park South, Ratso points toward a
young man with diamond cuff-links, sitting with a blue-haired
matron who puffs on a small cigar. Ratso waves jauntily at
the young man, raising his thumb and forefinger in a circle,
leaving the young man baffled as Ratso hurries Joe on.

RATSO
Him I placed with O'Daniel just two
weeks ago. And look. Not much of a
stud either, what I hear...

EXT. CENTRAL PARK SOUTH - COCKTAIL HOUR

Ratso automatically checks the coin return boxes of the phone
booths they pass. Walking the park side of the street, looking
across at the limousines and taxis waiting outside luxury
hotels and apartment buildings.

JOE
Hey, listen, how about you take me
to mee this Mister O'Diddle bird
right now?

RATSO
Well, Joe, you're a nice guy, and
I'd be doing you both a favor, but
why? What'm I dragging my bum leg
all over town for? It's no picnic
and what for, for me myself, what?

Ratso stops opposite the Plaza hotel, pointing across at an
aristocratic blonde stepping out of a Rolls Royce.

RATSO
Tomorrow when some piece like that's
scratching your back in a Fifth Avenue
townhouse, where'll your pal Rizzo
be? Nedicks.

JOE
Hold it, just hold it. You think I'm
that kinda sombitch? Just name your
cut, whatever you want, you got it
right now. Five? Ten, how's that?

Joe peels a ten from his wallet and offers it to Ratso.

RATSO
Joe, please. You know what I'd ask
anyone else? Oh hell, tell you what
I'll do, I'll take the ten...
(he does)
...but when I hand you over to Mr.
O'Daniel, I'll have to have another
ten, Joe; just to like cover
expenses...

INT. PUBLIC PHONE BOOTH - DUSK

Ratso is on the phone. Joe holds the door open, listening.

RATSO
This boy is just your meat, Mr.
O'Daniel, believe it, I'm telling
you -- what? -- Enrico Rizzo from
the Bronx. The point is he needs
you. Right now. Tonight...
(aside to Joe)
I got his tongue hanging out...

EXT. WEST SIDE HOTEL - DUSK

Camera moves slowly up the anonymous wall of a drab hotel,
following the line of dim red lights marking the fire exits.

RATSO'S VOICE
Name's Joe Buck. Cowboy. Just in
from Texas, don't know the ropes,
new to the city, but very promising
material, sir, and ready, if you get
what I mean. Fabulous. Right away.
What's that room number there again?

INT. WEST SIDE HOTEL ELEVATOR - DUSK

As ancient open cage lift rises at the same pace as camera
in preceding shot. Joe grins excitedly at Ratso, who nods
but glances significantly at the elevator operator. Ratso
follows Joe to door as the operator grinds to a stop.

INT. WEST SIDE HOTEL CORRIDOR - DUSK

Ratso steps out with Joe, gesturing to the corridor...

RATSO
Hold it a second...

...but the operator slams the door and starts on up. Ratso
leans heavily on the down button, glancing at Joe.

RATSO
Nine-oh-one, got it?

Ratso glances up the elevator shaft nervously, rings again
and turns back to Joe.

RATSO
Let's see how you look. Fine. You
look fine. Now I'm gonna have to
have that other ten...

JOE
(digs in wallet)
Ten, ten -- I got a twenty -- take
that...

RATSO
Oh hell, forget it.

JOE
Now take it. Go on.
(gives it to him)
Listen, where can I reach you? Cause
I'm gonna make this right with you
soon's I get me set up...

RATSO
Forget it.

JOE
I mean, dammit, where you live?

Ratso leans on the DOWN as the cage grinds slowly down into
view and stops.

RATSO
Sherry-Netherlands Hotel. Now get
your ass in there. He's waiting!

Ratso steps into the elevator as the door opens then closes,
leaving Joe alone, repeating "Cherry Neverlin" as he starts
along the corridor looking for 901.

EXT. WEST SIDE HOTEL - DUSK

Ratso bursts from the hotel, almost running as he disappears.

INT. WEST SIDE HOTEL CORRIDOR - DUSK

Joe finds 901 at a dark end of the corridor, knocks
confidently, hearing a few bars of his love theme as he stuffs
a fresh stick of gum in his mouth. Then the door is thrown
open by O'DANIEL -- for an instant appearing to wear a diamond-
studded skull-cap, the naked overhead light bulb bright after
the dark corridor, halating in Joe's eyes like the earlier
dollar sign.

O'DANIEL
You must be Joe Buck. Come in.

O'Daniel, fat in a worn-out bathrobe, examines Joe like a
prodigal son as he leads him into the room -- as anonymous
as Joe's own room.

O'DANIEL
Am I tickled to find you, boy! Come
on in and let's get a look at you.
Turn around. Good strong back. You'll
need it. So you want help -- take a
seat, relax, tell me about yourself.
Cowboy, huh?

JOE
No sir, I'm no cowboy really, but
I'm a first class stud.

O'DANIEL
Take it,easy, boy...
(laughs)
Seems to me you're different than a
lotta boys that come to me. Most of
'em seem troubled, confused, but I'd
say you knew exactly what you want.

JOE
You bet I do, sir.

O'DANIEL
But I'll bet you got one thing in
common with them other boys. I'll
bet you're lonesome.

JOE
Well, not too, I mean, a little.

O'Daniel rises suddenly in a fury of self-righteousness,
pacing, his voice simpering, whining sarcastically.

O'DANIEL
I'm lonesome. I'm lonesome so I'm a
drunk. I'm lonesome so I'm a dope
fiend. I'm lonesome so I'm a thief,
a fornicator, a whore-monger. Poop,
I say, poop! I've heard it all and
I'm sick of it, sick to death.

JOE
Yessir, I can see that.

O'DANIEL
Lonesomeness is something you take.
You bear? Dammit, you take it and go
about your business, that's all.

JOE
Well, uh, I'm raring to go.

O'DANIEL
Yes, I believe you are. Cowboy, huh?

JOE
Uh, yessir.

O'DANIEL
Ready for hard work, son?

JOE
Ready for anything.

O'DANIEL
I got a hunch, Joe Buck, it's gonna
be easier for you than most.

JOE
Gonna be like money from home.

O'DANIEL
Money from home, see, there's your
strength, you put things in earthy
terms any man can understand, son. I
warn you I'm gonna use you, I'm gonna
run you ragged!

Joe laughs, driving an obscene uppercut into the air. O'Daniel
laughs with him.

O'DANIEL
You're a wonderful boy. You'n me
gonna have fun, dammit, it don't
have to be joyless. Say, why don't
we get right down on our knees now?

JOE
Get down -- where?

O'DANIEL
Right here, why not? I prayed in
saloons, I prayed in the street, I
prayed an the toilet. He don't care
where, what He wants is that prayer.

O'Daniel drops on all fours, crawling to find the plug of an
electric cord. He shoves it into a wall socket, switches off
the overhead light and suddenly a hollow, tinted plastic
Jesus glows on the dresser. O.S. a revivalist congregation
sings. And now we notice, with Joe, placards and flags, horns
and tracts, all the paraphernalia of a street corner
evangelist.

JOE
Shee-it...

O'DANIEL
That's the ticket, just open your
heart and let it flow. It ain't the
words, it's the love beyond 'em!

EXT. REMEMBERED BAPTISM - ANOTHER TIME

Sally Buck sings with the congregation while a rawboned
preacher stands in the river, preparing to immerse little
Joe.

O'DANIEL'S VOICE
Don't fight it, boy!

INT. WEST SIDE HOTEL ROOM - DUSK

O'Daniel tries to pull Joe down beside him.

O'DANIEL
Pray and you shall be heard!

EXT. REMEMBERED BAPTISM - ANOTHER TIME

Camera becomes little Joe, glimpsing the fevered faces of
Sally Buck and the congregation singing on the riverbank,
just before being plunged under the river. O'Daniel's voice
reechoes, filtered through water.

O'DANIEL
Don't be frightened, son!

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - NIGHT

Joe runs in aimless panic, pushing through the crowd, pursued
by O'Daniel's voice and the singing congregation.

O'DANIEL
Don't run from Jesus!

Joe stops short as he sees the front page of a tabloid on a
newsstand. There is a picture of Joe being led away by two
deputies, under a headline ALABAMA MURDERER SHOTGUNS ELEVEN.

EXT. FORTY-SECOND STREET - NIGHT

Joe searches the faces of the crowd, running forward suddenly
as he sees Jackie and the farmboy picked up by two men in a
large convertible. Joe chases the car to Eighth Avenue but
stops, frightened as he sees himself in multiple image on
the front of every newspaper displayed on a newsstand.

INT. EVERETT'S BAR - NIGHT

The saloon is almost empty during the after dinner lull. The
BARTENDER doesn't look up from his newspaper as Joe
approaches.

JOE
Say, you know that runty little
bastard I was with?

BARTENDER
I don't know nothing.

Joe tenses as he sees the tabloid picture of himself on the
back of the bartender's paper. Joe's hand closes around an
empty beer bottle, a terrible violence surging very near the
surface. O.S. women scream.

INT. REMEMBERED BEAUTY SALON - ANOTHER TIME

Reflected in the mirror, we see little Joe wildly smashing
bottles and glass display cabinets -- the voices of women
screaming O.S. -- little Joe hurling a perfume bottle which
shatters the mirror and his own image.

INT. EVERETT'S BAR - NIGHT

The empty beer bottle stands where it was. Joe has
disappeared. On the TV screen over the bar, sound drowned
out by the jukebox, we see a blowup of the tabloid photograph,
revealing a young man very similar to, but clearly not Joe.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - NIGHT

Colorful lights still flash seductive promise. The vertical,
lights on the MONY tower reach bottom and freeze momentarily.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe at his hotel window staring out blankly. Gun fire O.S....

INT. SHOOTING GALLERY - DAY

The radio at Joe's ear is drowned out by a kid in cowboy
hat, shooting alone in the gallery. Two policemen idly slap
their thighs with night sticks. Joe moves on, unconsciously
checking the coin return box of a pay phone.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe curled up on his bed like a baby, fully dressed, his
radio on the night stand. O.S. his love theme, remote,
hollow...

EXT. FORTY-SECOND STREET - NIGHT

Joe's radio is at his ear "...never too late to look great,
Ben's Bargain Basement's open 'till five a.m., miles and
miles of Western styles, worth more at any store, money talks
and nobody walks." For the first time, Joe is aware of the
other midnight cowboys lurking in doorways, the cruising
queens, the middle-age men in sport shirts. Joe moves on
self consciously as he sees a scar-faced policeman,
unconsciously massaging his night stick. Camera holds on a
window display of gag buttons, featuring NEW YORK WILL BREAK
YOUR HEART, BABY.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe soaking in the tub, eyes closed.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE DANCE HALL - DAY

Joe's radio promises job opportunities for young men eighteen
to twenty-five in the U.S. Air Force. He stands with a crowd
staring up at a girl go-go dancing in the window of SERGEANT
PEPPER'S LONELY HEART CLUB.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe staring in the mirror. O.S. static over his love theme.

EXT. SIXTH AVENUE - NIGHT

By work-light, the tarrier in metal helmet leans on a jack
hammer, beyond the sign DIG WE MUST, drowning out Joe's radio.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe flexing his muscles in his jockey shorts while -- LIVE
ON TV SCREEN -- a physical culture personality finishes push-
ups and starts pitching his own extra protein bread.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE PANCAKE HOUSE - DAY

Joe's radio continues the super-break commercial while a fry
cook flips flapjacks in the window. But Joe's eyes are on a
sign DISHWASHER WANTED. Joe looks up and his eyes meet those
of the young man scraping garbage behind the counter. It's
Joe.

JOE
Shee-it.

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe sits in the hotel lobby, staring out at the street, unable
to concentrate on his comic book. On two-way radio, a woman's
voice giggles as she speaks, "When I can't sleep, well, I
just dial the time and listen to those old seconds clicking
by like, you know, counting sheep?"

EXT. SIDEWALK CAFE - COCKTAIL HOUR

Joe watches a young man hold a taxi door for an older lady,
at the same corner where Ratso waved to another young man.
The woman's predatory eyes linger momentarily on Joe before
she leads the young man into the Cafe. The two-way radio
continues over, "...that's what I do about insomnia."

JOE
Well, now, ma'am, next time you got
that feeling coming on, you dial Joe
Buck. I'll show you what to do...

STILL PHOTOGRAPH

Joe straddles a chair, staring at a blank TV screen.

SINGING COMMERCIAL
Need a little easy money? It's E-Z.
Want a little easy cash? It's E-Z.

E-Z LOAN COMMERCIAL

As the jingle continues, we follow Joe and his radio into
the loan office, the depressing reality photographed and
edited in the style of a TV commercial:

JINGLE
Easy locations to get to Easy ladies
to greet you Easy chairs to seat you
Easy payments to meet Let E-Z set
you On Easy Street.

Joe arrives confident Harassed E-Z receptionist Lines of
uneasy customers Desperate, angry faces Reams of E-Z forms
to fill Clerk's sneer, says Joe has to be kidding.

INT. TIMES SQUARE PALACE LOBBY - NIGHT

Joe's image frozen -- as if another still photograph -
standing at the desk, waiting for his key.

JOE'S VOICE
Key to 1014...

Action continues as the DESK CLERK hands Joe a folded paper
instead of a key. Joe opens it, deeply perplexed.

DESK CLERK
Looks like you been locked out of
your room, buddy. Till you pick up
your tab.

JOE
Uh, what about my things'n all?

DESK CLERK
We keep them nice and safe till you
get this straightened out.

INTERCUT

Room 1014 warm and inviting, Joe's suitcase on the bed.

JOE
Listen, tell you what, you can keep
all the rest of the goddam junk if
you let me have just the suitcase.
That suitcase means a lot to me.

INTERCUT

The postcard photograph marked X -- THIS IS ME.

DESK CLERK
We keep everything. House rules.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - NIGHT

Joe stands outside the hotel, stunned, seeing the bright
colored lights turn suddenly grey. The film continues in
black and white as Joe walks into the crowd.

EXT. SALLY BUCK'S BEAUTY SALON - DAY

The FOR RENT sign flapping in the wind.

INT. BAR - DAY

Joe nurses a short beer, like the regulars. He looks up as a
crippled panhandler approaches, vaguely reminiscent of Ratso.

JOE
Screw off.

INT. ROOM 1014 - NIGHT

The bed turned back, clean sheets, a soft night light.

INT. BUS DEPOT - NIGHT

Joe is stretched on a bench, his Stetson over his eyes. A
loud speaker announces a bus "departing for Texas" but Joe
does not move. A policeman taps Joe's boots with his night
stick. Joe rises and starts away with mixed anger and
apprehension.

INT. PUBLIC MEN'S ROOM - DAY

Two matching Ivy Leaguers exchange a glance as they see Joe
washing his feet in the basin. Joe stares back with a
belligerent grin.

JOE
Any objection, gentlemen?

INT. ALL NIGHT CAFETERIA - NIGHT

Joe balances a cup of coffee, walking past the other solitary
night people, avoiding each other's eyes. Joe spots what
he's looking for and seats himself next to a gaunt woman and
her ten year old son, both freaked out, erratically touching
things, themselves, each other in a futile effort to make
contact with reality. But Joe is only concerned with the
plastic-wrapped crackers left by their empty soup bowls.

JOB
Y'ain't gonna eat them?

The woman stares at Joe blankly. The boy runs a toy mouse
across the table, up his mother's arm and around her face.
With a polite nod, Joe opens the crackers and squirts one
with ketchup. Joe upsets his chair as a great gob of ketchup
spills onto his pants...

JOE
Shee-it.

...glancing around with an embarrassed laugh, but the only
one looking is a cop, scratching his calf with a night stick.
Joe keeps his back to the customers as he moves to the water
dispenser, wets a paper napkin and tries to wipe away the
stain. But the water has only spread the stain across his
pants and down his leg. He blushes as a blonde young
streetwalker giggles.

SALLY BUCK'S VOICE
Wet your britches, lover boy?

INT. SUBWAY ARCADE - NIGHT

Joe tries to hide the stain with his jacket as he checks the
coin boxes of vending machines, wary as he passes a burly
policeman, abstractedly snapping his handcuffs in front of a
bakery window display of bride-and-groom wedding cakes. Joe
barely glances at a confused MIDDLE-AGE LADY.

MIDDLE-AGE LADY
How do I get to Grand Central?

JOE
Shuttle. Follow the green light.

Automatically, checking the trough of a gum vending machine,
Joe unexpectedly faces himself in the mirror, the eyes staring
at him tired and hopeless. His hand reaches unconsciously
for a cigarette, the package is empty. He crumples it in his
fist but holds it.

JOE
Alright, cowboy. Enough of this shee-
it. You know what you got to do?
(nods)
Then go do it.

EXT. FORTY-SECOND STREET - NIGHT

Joe hurls the crumpled package into a DON'T BE A LITTERBUG
basket as he emerges from the subway, his radio at his ear.
The torchy voice belts his love song, merging with street
noises crying danger -- an ambulance, a burglar alarm, a
policeman's whistle -- the lights flashing lurid color for
the first time since Joe was locked out, no longer promising
but threatening, clashing, warning as...

...from a high angle, across the street, Joe joins the other
midnight cowboys, offering himself to all comers. His figure
is momentarily obliterated by traffic then...

...zooming in, we see Joe self-consciously trying to hide
the stain on his pants, embarrassed as a large sedan slows
then moves on to stop in front of a motorcycle freak. Joe is
briefly obliterated again by a passing police car...

...the receding flash of its turret light revealing Joe in
close conversation with a frightened young FAT BOY, whose
eyes plead for reassurance as Joe scowls.

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

Joe's black and white suitcase gleams on the bed.

JOE'S VOICE
Twenty-three bucks, I got to have
twenty-three bucks...

INT. ALL NIGHT MOVIE - NIGHT

From an apparently empty balcony -- an old science fiction
film grinds endlessly through the night -- a lost spaceman
trying to make contact with a tantalizing Martian maiden
across an invisible time barrier, theremin voices calling,
"Earthling, where are you?"

FAT BOY'S VOICE
Okay. Sure. I got twenty-five...

At the top of the balcony, Joe leans back, turning his face
away as the Fat Boy embraces him, kissing Joe's cheek and
neck, his head moving down out of frame to show -- on the
screen -- the spaceman and Martian maiden meeting, arms
outstretched. But the Martian maiden moves right on through
the spaceman, crying, "Earthling come back, however many
centuries it is, I'll wait!" Joe closes his eyes, forcing
his memory back...

INT. REMEMBERED MOVIE HOUSE - ANOTHER TIME

...repeating the remembered image of Anastasia and a younger
Joe, behind the movie screen...

ANASTASIA
You're the only one, Joe, the only,
only one ever!

...the remembered passion continuing, mounting -- intercut
with flash impressions, like flipping pages of a nudie
magazine -- naked, half-draped blondes gazing into camera
with sultry eyes, including one comic strip sexpot and the
calendar girl in Joe's Texas hotel room...

ANASTASIA'S VOICE
You're the best, the very best, yes,
yes, kiss me, oh God please kiss me,
Joe, now, now, now!

...Joe's face in extreme close-up, sounds of both movie houses
merging, confused, dominated by the voices of adolescent
boys...

BOYS' VOICES
Hey, Joe, give someone else a chance!
What's he doing for chrisake? He
kissing Anastasia? You better swallow
a whole goddam drugstore, man!

...an adolescent ratpack waiting in line behind the screen,
laughing in coarse whispers, watching Joe and Anastasia.
O.S. theremin voices call "Earthling, where are you?"

INT. ALL NIGHT MOVIE - NIGHT

On screen, the Martian maiden moves through the spaceman,
crying, "Earthling, come back, however many centuries it is,
I'll wait!"

INT. ALL NIGHT MOVIE RESTROOM - NIGHT

Joe watches the Fat Boy doubled over, retching.

JOE
I'm awful damn sorry you're sick,
kid, but you gonna have to gimme
that money like you said.

FAT BOY
I was lying. I don't have it. What're
you going to do to me?

JOE
(controls fury)
What you got in your pockets?

Eagerly, the boy produces a family photograph, a subway token,
a dirty handkerchief. Joe grabs his wrist, revealing a watch.

JOE
How much's that worth?

FAT BOY
I can't go home without my watch! My
mother'd die! She'd die! Take my
books! Not my watch! She'd die!

But Joe has already kicked open the door. Theremin voices
drown out the Fat Boy, calling "Earthling, where are you?"

INT. ALL NIGHT MOVIE - NIGHT

Joe sprawls, trying to sleep, his feet on the balcony rail,
the radio at his ear. On screen, once again, the Martian
maiden moves through the spaceman, crying, but we hear the
voice of a desperate woman on two-way radio. As she speaks,
a policeman moves along the aisle, slapping his palm with
his night stick.

DESPERATE VOICE
Bill, can I call you Bill, Mister
Bonner? I feel like I know you from
listening. What I called about, Bill,
I'm gonna kill myself...

EXT. SIXTH AVENUE - DAY

From a high angle, only Joe's Stetson and radio can be seen
above a passing bus, its side panel advertising BILL BONNER'S
STRAIGHT LINE, A STRAIGHT TALK SHOW.

BONNER'S VOICE
Why call me, baby? If you want to do
it; just do it, don't talk about it.
Are we drunky? Feeling a little sorry
for ourselves maybe?

Joe appears in full figure as the bus passes. He stands
looking at the suitcases in a luggage shop window.

DESPERATE VOICE
Well, Bill, what I got thinking, I
didn't want the neighbors to have to
find me, this young couple with the
boy I want to have my cat, see, Bill?

INT. RADIO STATION - DAY

BONNER, tough in a grey crew-cut, talks on the phone.

BONNER
Okay, baby, now listen, just hold on
while I leave the line for a minute.
And think about all the kids that
are dying overseas for you, okay,
baby? Got that? I'll be back in
exactly sixty seconds. After this
message from...

A taxi born blasts, interrupting the sponsor's message.

EXT. SIXTH AVENUE - DAY

Joe's fist slams a fender violently, using Ratso's fake injury
trick to stop traffic, running across the street toward...

EXT. NEDICK'S - DAY

...Ratso staring out at Joe, paralyzed in the act of lighting
a cigarette -- intercut in flashing close-ups -- Joe outside
the window, Ratso inside -- reflecting their conflicting
emotions -- Joe's murderous rage -- Ratso's panic -- one
almost subliminal flash of each revealing something like
pleasure at finding a long-lost friend...

INT. NEDICK'S - DAY

...Ratso staring up into camera, holding his breath.

RATSO
Don't hit me, I'm a cripple.

Joe's hand falls on Ratso's shoulder.

JOE
Oh, I ain't gonna hit you, I'm gonna
strangle you to death...

The cigarette in Ratso's mouth burns into his lip. He jerks
spasmodically, choking on smoke as he rips skin away with
the butt and drops it in his coffee cup.

JOE
...only first I'm gonna turn you
upside down and shake you out right
here and now.

Coughing, eyes tearing, Ratso empties his pockets on the
counter, finally producing: sixty-four cents, a few sticks
of gum, an almost empty cigarette package, a book of matches
and two pawn tickets. He raises his eyes, somehow ashamed.
Joe kicks the toe of Ratso's loafer.

JOE
What's in your socks?

RATSO
Not a cent, I swear to God, I swear
on my mother's eyes.

Ratso removes his loafers and shakes them, glancing at the
counter man. His socks don't even conceal his toes. Disgusted,
Joe shoves Ratso's small pile back at him.

RATSO
You keep the sixty-four cents. I
want you to have it.

JOE
It's sticky. What you do, slobber on
'em? I wouldn't touch 'em.

Joe should leave -- Ratso obviously has nothing tangible to
offer -- but Joe hesitates, lighting a cigarette as Ratso
pulls on his loafers.

RATSO
How do you like that O'Daniel,
flipping out like that? I wanted to
get in touch with you when I heard,
but I been laid up with this cold...

Ratso touches his chest, forcing a cough which continues
itself beyond his intention.

JOE
You want some free medical advice,
shut your goddam mouth about that
night.

RATSO
Okay, right, right, okay. Another
subject. Where you living? Still at
the hotel?

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

The black and white suitcase lies open on the bed.

INT. NEDICK'S - DAY

Joe turns abruptly and walks away.

JOE
Shee-it. I got better things to do
than talk to you.

EXT. SIXTH AVENUE - DAY

Joe strides north, pretending he doesn't hear...

RATSO'S VOICE
Hey, wait up, for crissake!

...Ratso hop-skipping to overtake Joe at the traffic light.

JOE
Listen, keep away from me, hear? You
come near me again, I snatch you
bald-headed!

RATSO
I'm inviting you. I mean if you're
not located, I got a place. I'm
inviting you, goddamit.

JOE
You inviting shee-it.

EXT. TENEMENT STREET - DAY

A contractor's sign announces LUXURY APARTMENTS AVAILABLE in
high-rise co-op, under construction beyond a row of tenements
with X's taped on the windows. Ratso's voice continues over
the click-clack-click of Joe's boots and the flip-flap-squeak
of Ratso's loafers as camera moves toward a condemned
building.

RATSO'S VOICE
The X on the window means the landlord
can't collect rent -- which is a
convenience, hey? -- on account of
it's condemned.

INT. TENEMENT STAIRS - DAY

Footsteps climb past rubbish piled outside empty flats.

RATSO'S VOICE
The electric's off. Another
convenience. I don't mess with Con
Edison, hey? What the hell, I got
candles, right?

INT. X FLAT - DAY

Light from the X window shines on a Florida tourist poster
as Ratso leads Joe into an abandoned tub-in-kitchen flat,
barely furnished with a table and chair, a rumple of blankets
on a burnt-out mattress.

RATSO
I got no heat, but by that time, you
know, cold weather, hey, I'll be in
Florida. Stretch out. Make yourself
comfortable. You hungry? I'll put up
some water for coffee.

Ratso fills a saucepan from the tub-sink, sets it on a Sterno
stove. Joe sits himself on the mattress-bed, pretending to
test it, weeks of exhaustion and tension overwhelming him
suddenly, his only immediate problem being the effort to
restrain a large, comfortable yawn.

JOE
Comfortable, kee-rist, I slept on
subways softer than this.

Joe stretches himself, yawning, his eyelids drooping heavily.
The sounds of the city recede. Joe's love theme plays softly
on a distant radio. Joe's eyes close momentarily in spite of
him self.

INT. REMEMBERED CAR - ANOTHER TIME

A vintage dashboard, radio dial glowing, Anastasia's face.

ANASTASIA
Love me, Joe?

EXT. DEMOLITION SITE - DAY

A huge metal ball arcs on chain, demolishing a brick facade.

INT. X FLAT - DAY

Ratso's face seems to radiate evil as he lights a Sterno
can. Joe forces his eyes half-open.

JOE
Smart thing for me to do is haul ass
outta here.

RATSO
Whatsa matter now?

Joe shivers, pulls a blanket around him, resisting sleep,
but the noises of demolition fade, the love theme lures Joe
back.

JOE
You don't seem like no fag...

RATSO
What's that supposed to mean?

Joe's eyes close, his voice continuing out of half-sleep.

JOE
Want me to stay here, y'after
something. What y'after?

INT. REMEMBERED CAR - NIGHT

Joe's thumbnail flares a match, exposing Anastasia on the
car seat with Joe, both nearly naked. Anastasia butterfly-
kisses Joe's chest as he lights a cigarette.

ANASTASIA
Say you love me. Just say it.

JOE
Okay. I love you.

Anastasia purrs as her lips find Joe's breast, trying to
nurse. A flashlight flares suddenly through the car window.

NIGHTMARE - MULTIPLE SPLIT SCREEN

Low angle Ratso bending over Joe, into camera... ...Sally
Buck shocked, hand still on switch...

...Joe blinded by halation... ... Anastasia's mouth screaming
soundlessly... ...flashlights multiplying on car window...

Full frame -- Anastasia catatonic in hospital gown -- a
woman's voice "What'd he do to you, Annie?"... ...gang-bang
ratpack surrounding car with flashlights... ...Jackie
shrieking "He loves her he loves her"... ...hands closing on
Joe's buttocks... ...hand closing on Joe's naked left foot...
...hand on naked right foot... ...dentist leaning over Joe's
mouth... ...hands pulling Joe's legs apart...

Zoom close-up -- Anastasia screaming soundlessly...
...thermometer under Little Joe's tongue... ...Sally Buck
shoves chocolate in her mouth... ...bewigged poodle licks
her fingers... ...Sally Buck hangs enema can on bedpost...
...Ratso leads ratpack chasing naked Anastasia... ...corona
of flashlights...

Anastasia screaming soundlessly -- flashlight shoved into
her mouth -- electronic rock blasting... ...blank-eyed go-go
girl in dance hall window... ...Joe held naked by ratpack...
...Ratso breaking beer bottle on Everett's bar... ...dwarf
laughing on television... ...Ratso aims broken bottle at
Joe's crotch... ...shooting gallery cowboys riddle Joe's
pelvis...

ANASTASIA CATATONIC IN COURTROOM -- BETWEEN GAUNT PARENTS -

whining singsong "Raped her raped her Joe Buck raped her"...
...Fat Boy's mouth finds Joe's breast, tries to nurse...
...Sally Buck kisses him open-mouthed... ...slug crawls up
Joe's stomach, trailing mucus... ...Cass's poodle laps at
his toes... ...butterflies settle on his eyes...

Anastasia catatonic in courtroom between parents -- who are
now O'Daniel and Sally Buck... ...drawling voice "evidence
of repeated violations"... ...Bill Bonner in flag-cloth
judge's robe... ...police advancing, swinging night sticks...
...Joe running into Times Square, suddenly naked...
...Anastasia sitting in all-night cafeteria... ...freaky
child running toy mouse over her naked body...

Siren screaming -- Anastasia staring catatonic from rear
window of ambulance... ...ambulance racing away... ...Joe
chasing naked after ambulance... ...running into the arms of
the police... ...Ratso laughing as police beat Joe...

INT. X FLAT - NIGHT

Joe awakens in a cold sweat, fighting the blankets, wild-
eyed as he sees Ratso at the table, examining Joe's radio by
candle-light. Joe lunges across the room to snatch the radio
from Ratso's hands.

RATSO
For crissake!

Still wild-eyed, Joe suddenly points at his stocking feet.

JOE
Where's my boots -- ?

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - DAY

Joe facing the crowd, naked except for his boots.

INT. X FLAT - NIGHT

Ratso points to the boots on the floor by the mattress.

JOB
How'd they get off me?

RATSO
I took 'em off.

JOE
What for?

RATSO
So you could sleep! I mean Christ!

Joe inspects the boots, seats himself on a battered Army cot -
which has been added while he slept -- swinging a boot by
its strap, considering whether to stay or go.

RATSO
I drug in a cot, if you want to stay.

JOE
Well now, Ratso, I'm gonna tell you
something for your own good, only
first gimme a cigarette.

Ratso offers a cigarette from his crushed package, Joe strikes
a match on his thumbnail and lights up, staring at Ratso.

JOE
You want me to stay here tonight, is
that the idea?

RATSO
I ain't forcing you, like, I mean,
who's forcing you?

JOE
Oh. Guess I got the wrong impression.

Joe makes a slow move to pull on one boot.

RATSO
I want you to stay, okay? I goddam
invited you, didn't I?

JOE
Well, I hope you know what you're in
for. I'm a very dangerous person.
Someone does me bad like you. If I
caught up with you that night, there'd
be one dead Ratso long about now.
Hear?

RATSO
I'm impressed. You're a killer.

JOE
So if you want me to hang around for
a few days, I thought you should
know.

Joe yawns, picks up a few blankets and spreads them on the
cot. He puzzles out the faded printing on one blanket.

JOE
Property of the YMCA. You make me
wanna puke sometimes, Ratso.

Ratso blows out the candle and wraps himself in blankets.

RATSO
Joe -- do me one favor -- this is my
place, am I wrong? You know, in my
own place my name ain't Ratso. I
mean it so happens my name is Enrico
Salvatore Rizzo.

JOE
Shee-it, man, I can't say all that.

RATSO
Rico then, at least call me Rico in
my own goddam place.

JOE
Rico! Rico! Rico! Is that enough?
(then)
And keep your meat hooks off my radio.

EXT. VEGETABLE MARKET - DAY

Ratso wears a threadbare raincoat of faded black, several
sizes too large, as he shops with housewives at a sidewalk
vegetable stand -- elbowing his way through the ladies,
testing fruit, picking up vegetables and putting them back --
till the GREENGROCER spots him.

GREENGROCER
You! Out! Out! I told you, I calla
cops!

The other shoppers deliberately turn their backs, avoiding
involvement. As the Greengrocer grabs Ratso, Joe ambles into
the scene, wearing his dangerous little smile.

JOE
Hey, looka here, that ain't nice,
picking on a cripple...

Joe intervenes just long enough for Ratso to escape, then
ambles on, leaving the Greengrocer in frustrated fury. Camera
holds on a tray of coconuts.

INT. X FLAT - DAY

Joe lies on his cot, watching Ratso struggle to penetrate
the fibrous husk of a coconut, experimenting with a variety
of rusty tools in an old cigar box.

RATSO
The two basic items necessary to
sustain life are sunshine and coconut
milk. That's a known fact. If I can
find the goddam hole the milk squirts
out.

JOE
This is an okay setup you got here,
but I'd say you ain't just exactly,
uh, flush, is that right or not?

RATSO
I been sick. Hold this, will ya?

Joe takes his time rising to hold the coconut while Ratso
tries to poke a hole with a bent ice-pick.

RATSO
In Florida, they come smooth, ready
to eat. Down there, your only problem
is, diet-wise, you gotta lift an arm
to wipe warm milk off your chin.
Tough, hey?

JOE
I think finding you's the smartest
thing I ever did, for both of us.
You just the crooked kinda sneaky
little sidewinder I need to get me
hustling in this town. Hey!

Joe jerks his hand away just in time to avoid the ice-pick.
The coconut bounces on the floor. Ratso picks it up, holds
it, while Joe tries to crack it, swinging his boot like a
hammer.

RATSO
Miami Beach is the only place for a
real hustler. Florida has more rich
chicks per square yard than any resort
spot in the world. They lie out in
their pagodas and pergolas waiting
to grab the first jockstrap that
passes.

JOE
What's all this sweet talk about
Florida? Your friend O'Daniel got a
stable down there now?

Joe swings violently. Ratso yelps, hopping on his one good
leg, sucking his thumb.

RATSO
Cowboy killers! Break my finger,
Christ! I got news for you, baby, no
chick with any class buys that big
dumb cowboy crap...

Ratso holds his thumb under the tub-sink faucet.

RATSO
...the cowboy bit's out, except among
fags of a certain type, which take a
certain, type hustler to exploit.
Like I could handle it -- being a
stealing operation basically -- but
take your average fag, very few of
them want a cripple.

Joe holds the coconut like Yorick's skull, thinking hard.

JOE
Well, I am dumb, that's for sure. I
don't talk right. I can't think too
good. Just only one thing I ever
been good for's loving. Women go
crazy for me. Fact. Crazy Annie. Had
to send her away. So I don't cash in
on that, what am I? I'm shee-it.
May's well flush me down that hole
with the dishwater.

Joe sets the coconut on the floor, holding it with both hands
while he tries to smash it with the heel of his boot.

JOE
That's why you gonna stop crapping
about Florida and get your skinny
butt moving to earn twenty bucks
worth of management you owe me...

INT. ROOM 1014 - DAY

The suitcase lies open, displaying Joe's wardrobe.

JOE'S VOICE
Make that twenty-three bucks.

INT. X FLAT - DAY

Joe slams his heel down. The coconut shoots out from under
him and he lands on his ass.

RATSO
Look at yourself, Joe, no offense,
but frankly, you're beginning to
smell. For a stud in this town that's
a handicap.

JOE
You talk like a man with a tin twat.

Ratso sets the coconut on the window sill, balancing it as
he raises the X window.

RATSO
You ain't got a chance in hell. You
need threads and glitter, baby. A
front, hey?

JOE
Well, uh, my manager's gonna manage
all that crap, or else he gonna get
a coconut up his flue.

Joe slams, the window down. The coconut flies down to crash
O.S. on the sidewalk below.

EXT. SIDEWALK - DAY

An alley cat laps up the milk of the broken coconut.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - FANTASY

Joe stands naked in the middle of traffic. A siren shrills.
Anastasia, catatonic in a hospital smock, moves toward Joe
like a sleepwalker, passing through him.

INT. LAUNDROMAT - DAY

Wearing only his boots, Joe sits like an Indian chief, wrapped
in a blanket -- angle widening to show Ratso, spotting Joe's
jacket, slacks and shirt with cleaning fluid -- his eyes on
a very pregnant Italian lady. As she starts to load a coin
cleaning machine, Ratso intervenes solicitously, speaking in
Italian...

RATSO
A woman in your condition shouldn't
do that. Let me help...

...adroitly slipping Joe's cleaning in with her load as she
turns to seat herself beside Joe.

JOE'S VOICE
It ain't right, stealing from a
pregnant lady.

INT. HAT CLEANERS - DAY

Joe and Ratso stand waiting at the counter.

RATSO
What did it cost her? The laundromat
syndicate lost a couple coins. I'm
crying.

The owner brings Joe's clean and blocked Stetson from the
rear of the shop. Joe sets it on his head and examines himself
in a mirror as the owner hands Ratso, the bill.

RATSO
Where's mine? The black homburg? I
brought it in the same time.

The owner glances at the slip, puzzled, returns to the rear
of the shop to search for the nonexistent homburg. Ratso
quickly drags Joe away from the mirror and out of the shop.

INT. SUBWAY ARCADE - NIGHT

The rhythmic duet of boots and loafers follows Joe and Ratso -
checking coin boxes and telephone booths -- till they reach
a shoeshine stand, locked for the night. They loiter till a
young couple has disappeared, then Joe kicks loose 'the
padlock on the equipment drawer, mounts one of the chairs
and Ratso goes to work on his boots with furious expertise,
flourishing double brushes, snapping the rag like a jazz
drummer.

JOE
Hey, you're good! I bet you could
pick up a living at this if you tried.

RATSO
And end up a hunchback like my old
man? You think I'm crippled? You
shoulda caught him the end of a day.

Ratso demonstrates a chimpanzee walk. Joe laughs. Ratso turns
back in panic as another man takes a chair next to Joe. Ratso
is about to refuse when a cop takes the third chair, swinging
his handcuffs around to the front, tapping his shoe with his
night stick. Ratso quickly drops a rag over the broken
padlock, cursing under his breath as he starts working on
all three customers at the same time.

RATSO'S VOICE
You think it's funny?

INT. X FLAT - DAY

Joe is seated in a straight-back chair near the X window, a
towel tucked around his neck as Ratso trims his hair, almost
as expert a barber as shoeshine boy.

RATSO
Stupid bastard coughed his lungs out
breathing that resin all day. They
buried him with gloves on. Even the
fag undertaker couldn't get his nails
clean.

As if by conditioned reflex, Ratso chokes on the cigarette
in his mouth, coughing painfully. He crushes it out, opens
the window to spit, shivering, then slam it and turns back
to remove the towel from Joe's neck.

JOE
Kee-rist, you pretty damn clever for
a skimpy little gimp.

RATSO
You like it? Take a look.

JOE
Don't rush me. How I do it, see, I
get myself primed, like I was turning
on the charm for some pretty little
blonde lady, then kinda mosey away
slow and easy and - swing around! --
and there you are, you handsome devil.

Joe performs his ritual as he speaks, but more relaxed,
faintly laughing at himself with Ratso. The wall mirror has
been added since we last saw the flat, along with a legless
overstuffed chair with burnt-out cushions, a tasselled table
cover, pinups, calendar girls and several new Florida tourist
posters, Ratso moves to Joe's side, arranging the neckerchief,
nodding.

RATSO
Not bad -- for a cowboy -- you're
okay, you're okay.

JOE
What I'm gonna do, I'm gonna make a
cowboy outta you, kid. How about
that? Build you up a little, teach
you couple little tricks'n turn y'out
to stud, Rat-stuff.

Joe slaps his hat on Ratso's head, tilts it, hooks Ratso's
thumbs in his jeans and shoves a cigarette into the corner
of Ratso's mouth. Ratso laughs till he chokes -- for one
instant, self-consciously, mimicking Joe -- then removes the
hat and reaches for his threadbare black raincoat.

JOE
Okay, you got yourself one handsome,
sweet-smelling cowboy, strut your
stuff...

EXT. CONVERTED TOWN HOUSE - DAY

Joe and Ratso peer down through a basement bay window, into
the office of THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN ESCORT SERVICE -- endorsed
by leading travel agencies and credit clubs offering discreet
companionship and personal guided tours in any language. A
large-busted matron, on a French phone, fills out a memo and
hands it to an immaculate young ESCORT, who slips the memo
into his topcoat pocket as he comes from the office and hails
a cab. Ratso darts forward, limping exaggeratedly, holding
the door, lifting the memo as he brushes off the Escort's
topcoat. The young man waves him away with out a tip. Ratso
slams the door and bites his thumb after the cab, unfolding
the memo as he joins Joe on the sidewalk.

RATSO
How do you like that? Cheap bastard...
(reads, then)
I think we struck gold. This is one
high-class chick. The Barbizon for
Women!

EXT. MANHATTAN SKYLINE - DUSK

The Mutual of New York tower flashes MONY.

INT. CORNER PHONE BOOTH - DUSK

Ratso consults the memo as he speaks into the phone.

RATSO
Mr. McNeill, I'm calling for Miss
Beecham at the Barbizon Hotel for
Women. She won't need you tonight...

EXT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

A doorman helps a young lady into a limousine.

RATSO'S VOICE
Would you believe a whole goddam
hotel with nothing but lonely chicks?

Joe and Ratso watch from across the street.

RATSO
Score once in that setup, the way
chicks talk, Christ...

Joe cracks his gum, tilts his hat, starts across the street.

RATSO
Get the money! Remember Cass Trehune?
Cash! These rich bitches write a
check at night, call the bank and
stop payment in the morning. Get the
cash!

In Ratso's eyes -- as Joe enters the hotel -- its facade
suddenly wipes away to reveal rich ladies in negligee waiting
in every room.

INT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

Joe starts up the stairs, two at a time. A BELLHOP grabs
him.

BELLHOP
Hey! No men upstairs!

EXT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

Ratso warms his hands at a chestnut vendor's cart, seeing...

...zoom close-up, a lady in a window grabbing Joe.

INT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

Joe picks up a house phone, watched by the Bellhop.

EXT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

Ratso sees Joe zip from room to room in wild animation.

INT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

The lobby watches Joe blow a gum bubble at the elevator.

EXT. EXCLUSIVE DRESS SHOP - NIGHT

Staring at a window display of Florida sportswear, Ratso's
imagination soars, seeing...

EXT. FLORIDA BEACH FRONT - FANTASY

...Ratso, like a model in a travel poster, in gaudy sport
shirt, talking on the phone against a background of hotels...

...Ratso like James Bond, surrounded by bikinis, dictating
while girls serve coconut milk and massage his game leg...

...Ratso like George Raft, in evening clothes, running a
posh casino, flicking a coin...

...Ratso simply himself, dressed as he is, sitting on the
beach, at peace in the sun...

...the same identical picture with Joe sitting beside Ratso.

INT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

Joe faces MISS BEECHAM, a reserved and rather plain young
lady in evening dress, She tries to speak softly.

MISS BEECHAM
I'm afraid there's been a terrible
mistake...

EXT. EXCLUSIVE DRESS SHOP - NIGHT

Ratso leans against the window, flipping a coin.

EXT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

Miss Beecham is flushed with humiliation, the entire lobby
watching Joe in the hands of two bellboys.

JOE
I want my money, goddamit, you owe
me my money whether you get laid or
not, lady, shee-it!

EXT. EXCLUSIVE DRESS SHOP - NIGHT

The lights in the window suddenly switch off, blacking out
Florida. Ratso glances toward the growl of a siren O.S.

EXT. BARBIZON FOR WOMEN - NIGHT

A police prowl car slows in front of the hotel. Ratso swings
across the street with incredible speed to meet Joe as he's
tossed onto the sidewalk. Ratso picks up the Stetson and
brushes it off, then helps Joe to his feet.

EXT. SIXTH AVENUE - NIGHT

From a high angle -- the two figures move slowly along the
deserted avenue, their rhythmic musical duet growing more
and more faint in the distance, a broken grasshopper and a
six foot tarnished cowboy -- passing a tuxedo rental store,
next to a lighted sign -- TEMPERATURE IN MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA
89 DEGREES -- their pace slowing to a dead stop...

INT. X FLAT - NIGHT

...Joe and Ratso frozen -- rain on the X windowpane freezing
into sheet ice. O.S. a radio commercial plays warm,
sentimental music while a cozy voice explains how easy it is
to heat with Humble oil.

EXT. CONDEMNED TENEMENTS - DAY

Joe and Ratso frozen in a narrow shaft of sunlight, watching
the huge metal ball demolish the building next door. O.S. a
radio announcer sells FROZEN SUNSHINE ORANGE JUICE.

INT. X FLAT - NIGHT

Joe and Ratso frozen, staring significantly at Joe's radio.
O.S. a singing commercial, "Don't wheeze and sneeze the winter
away! Drink Frozen sunshine every day!"

EXT. PAWN SHOP - DAY

Through the window -- Joe and Ratso watch the pawnbroker
examine Joe's radio, "Be healthier, wealthier, life can be
fine, when you drink Frozen" -- Sunshine is clicked off by
the pawnbroker.

INT. X FLAT - NIGHT

Joe and Ratso frozen, wrapped in blankets as...

...the canned heat dies with a faint puff...

...water dripping in the tub-sink freezes into an icicle...

...the candle burns down and out, leaving the screen dark.

EXT. CONDEMNED TENEMENTS - DAY

Joe and Ratso warm themselves on the smoke and steam rising
from a subway grating -- watching two officials in fur
collared coats inspect the front of their X flat building.
Reading their doom, Joe and Ratso, continue on, disappearing
into the subway.

EXT. FORTY-SECOND STREET - NIGHT

Joe stands alone, watching the midnight cowboys ply their
trade. Camera pulls back as Joe turns away and enters a store
front blood bank, offering ten dollars to blood donors.

INSERT

A huge hypodermic fills the frame, sucking Joe's blood. O.S.
Ratso coughs uncontrollably.

INT. X FLAT - NIGHT

Ratso leans over the tub-sink, dry-heaving while he coughs,
wearing a sheepskin coat much too large for him. He controls
the cough with effort -- hearing the door open and close
O.S. -- wipes his mouth and turns to grin at...

...Joe, trying to light the empty Sterno can, deliberately
ignoring Ratso. Ratso shrugs, washes his mouth at the faucet,
finds a cigarette butt and lights it, careful to avoid
inhaling the first puff.

JOE
Shee-it. Cough yourself inside out,
then light a fag, a goddam fag. You
make me puke. Where'd you steal it?
In the movies?

RATSO
The coat? A guy I did a favor once
gave it to me. Christ.

JOE
Who'd you ever do a favor for? You
just let some poor bastard freeze to
death, wouldn't you?

Joe slams ten dollars on the table. Ratso glances at Joe
with curious concern.

RATSO
Where'd that come from?

JOE
Forty-second Street. Where'n hell
you think it come from?

RATSO
You wanna know the truth? You dumb
bastard, I got it for you. Look at
it. Goddam thing's ten sizes too big
for me.

Ratso pulls off the coat and throws it at Joe.

JOE
Wear it yourself. I wouldn't put it
on my back.

Joe throws it back at Ratso.

RATSO
Goddamned if I'll wear it!

Ratso hurls it in a corner. Joe shoves the ten at Ratso.

JOE
Go get your medicine. Before you die
on my goddam, hands...

EXT. EAST RIVER BRIDGE - DAY

High angle -- Joe and Ratso cross an foot, chilled by wind,
neither wearing the sheepskin coat. The Queens riverfront
and factories appear cold and bleak, deserted on Sunday.

EXT. LONG ISLAND CEMETERIES - DAY

Camera moves into acres of tombstones, piled like low-rent
housing projects for the dead, the various faiths segregated
by crumbling boundaries.

JOE'S VOICE
Shee-it. I hate boneyards.

RATSO'S VOICE
So split. He ain't your goddam,
father.

EXT. PROTESTANT CEMETERY - DAY

Ratso leads Joe past a Negro family at a grave -- glances
around -- snatches an elaborate floral piece from a headstone
and hides it under his black raincoat as he darts toward a
low dividing wall and swings himself over into...

EXT. CATHOLIC CEMETERY - DAY

...an endless section of plain stone markers. Joe touches
his hat to two nuns, guiltily hurrying to overtake Ratso at
his father's grave, indistinguishable from the other graves
except for the name on the headstone. Ratso places the floral
piece on the grave with almost absurd solemnity. Joe laughs.

JOE
Kee-rist, you sure are one twisty
little bastard, Ratso.

RATSO
The name's Rico, at my own father's
grave, a man deserves some respect.

JOE
Respect shee-it! You even steal
flowers for his grave.

RATSO
Can he smell the difference, eh?

Joe reads from the ribbon on the floral display.

JOE
Well, uh, he dam well know he ain't
'be-loved Aunt Winifred'.

RATSO
He can't read. Even dumber than you.
Couldn't write his own name. X --
that's what it ought to say there on
that goddam headstone. One big lousy
X like our flat. Condemned. By order
of City Hall.

Joe is frowning, standing at the headstone, momentarily
depressed with an undefined sorrow.

JOE
My Grammaw Sally Buck, she died
without letting me know.

EXT. SALLY BUCK'S BEAUTY SALON - DAY

Through the window, past the FOR RENT sign, the tarnishing
driers are lined up like tombstones.

EXT. JEWISH CEMETERY - DAY

Joe frowns, puzzled, as Ratso pulls out a black skullcap,
leading Joe toward a group of professional mourners,
whispering:

RATSO
Just keep your hat on and cry a
little. They tip you when it's over.

Joe and Ratso join the mourners as the funeral moves to the
grave, Ratso mouthing an authentic double-talk...

...Joe standing self-consciously, aware of the covert glances
of the other mourners, automatically reaching up to remove
his hat, remembering when Ratso elbows him in the ribs...

...Joe scowling, tight-lipped, embarrassed by the tip that
is thrust in his hand.

INT. LUNCH COUNTER - EVENING

A weary Santa Claus, in a rented beard and over-large costume,
warms his hands over the steam of his coffee cup. Joe and
Ratso are arguing farther down the counter.

JOE
Just ain't right, cheating someone
dead and can't cheat back.

In the background, as Ratso speaks, HANSEL and GRETEL
MACALBERTSON enter the lunch counter, inspecting the customers
one by one. Both wear black turtlenecks and jeans, dressed
as twins, both blond and pretty.

RATSO
You and my old man. Same kinda mind.
Putting me down till the day he
died...
(mimics)
...why can't you be like your
brothers? Sons a father could be
proud of. Yeah, sure. My brothers.
Too goddam busy making something of
themselves to show up when the old
man's dying!

Conditioned reflex, Ratso starts to cough. Joe sees the
MacAlbertsons in the mirror, standing behind him, studying
him. Gretel nods, Hansel hands Joe a large black card, smiling
vaguely, then moves on.

RATSO
What was that all about?

Joe studies the black card, frowning at first, suddenly
smiling, turning as if to call after the MacAlbertsons, but
they are disappearing around the corner. Joe hands the card
to Ratso.

JOE
You wanna read something, read this.
I been invited somewhere.

Shocking pink letters on the black card read YOU ARE INVITED
TO HELP US BURY LOVE -- TONIGHT AT BROADWAY AND HARMONY LANE -
HANSEL AND GRETEL MACALBERTSON.

JOE
They picked me. The only one in the
whole goddam place. You see how they
looked me over, up and down before
they give me that?

RATSO
So?

Joe sees a young man washing cups behind the counter. Joe
shakes his head, wonderingly, turning to study himself in
the mirror.

JOE
Well, this thought just struck me.
It wasn't too long ago I was washing
dishes way the hell somewhere in
Texas.

RATSO
Yeah, well, so?

JOE
Now I'm here. I'm in New York City.
Getting picked for things. Don't you
see what I'm driving at?

RATSO
What you're driving at, you want me
to get lost so you can go to your
fancy-ass party.

JOE
Did I say that? Did I?
(studies card)
It don't say nothing about you...

RATSO
Don't say nothing about you either.

JOE
But they picked me, right? So what
I'll do, I'll just say, now look,
you want me? Well, I don't go nowhere
without my buddy here.

RATSO
(shrugs)
Well, what the hell, I got nothing
better to do.

EXT. LOFT BUILDING - NIGHT

Snow swirls in the aureole of a street light as Joe and Ratso
run, heads lowered, turning into...

INT. LOFT BUILDING - NIGHT

...a drab entrance hall, dimly lit -- signs identifying
various commercial tenants -- a pink-on-black placard reading
MACALBERTSON, TWO FLIGHTS UP. Joe has started up before he
notices Ratso, leaning on the bannister at the foot of the
stairs, struggling to catch his breath. His face and hair
are wet with perspiration, his lips lavender-blue.

In swift flashes -- intercut -- Joe reads the panic in Ratso's
eyes, so intense that Joe shares it, unable to speak or offer
reassurance.

JOE
Better dry your hair some. You
sweating all over the goddam place.

Joe pulls out his shirttail, grabs Ratso by the neck and
rubs his head dry.

JOE
You got a comb?

RATSO
Don't need a comb.

JOE
Few dozen cooties won't kill me,
don't guess.

Joe hands Ratso his own comb. Ratso swipes at his tangled
hair angrily until two teeth break in the comb. He hands the
comb back, tugs at his hair with his fingers, pats it in
place, then looks back into Joe's eyes.

RATSO
Okay? I look okay?

In a moment of silence, distant sounds can be heard -- a
siren, the grinding teeth of a garbage truck, the twang of
an electric guitar upstairs at the party -- then Ratso makes
a quick gesture of impatience and starts up the stairs,
pulling himself on the bannister.

INT. MACALBERTSONS' LOFT - NIGHT

A bank of lights blinds Joe and Ratso as they enter --
electronic rock blasts their ears -- a bearded cameraman on
a step-ladder photographs them as they stand confused --
facing a monstrous collage of tabloid photos blown up, showing
the murder of a hippie known as Groovy -- in-huge black
letters, LOVE WAS GROOVY -- GROOVY IS DEAD. Joe shouts over
the amplified music.

JOE
Better get a hold of someone and
tell them I'm here.

Ratso points to his ear -- he can't hear -- following Joe
across the room. The huge loft is crowded with a random
selection, gathered to serve as dress extras in an underground
film. The party is the scene. The MacAlbertsons merely supply
the ingredients and allow it to happen, with cameras
strategically placed to record the happening...

...Hansel with tape recorder, Gretel with hand-held camera
rifting through the crowd -- catching words and images in a
detached, whimsical fashion. Gretel turns her camera on Joe
and Ratso as they approach.

JOE
Well, I made it. This here is Ratso
Rizzo and I...

RATSO
Rico. Rico Rizzo.

Gretel smiles without recognition. Hansel gestures vaguely.

HANSEL
Do you need anything? I mean there's
beer and so forth. Whatever your
thing is...

The twins move away together, pausing to confer with the
operator of a tripod camera -- focused on an emaciated flower
girl with long hair and dirty feet, stretched in a
sarcophagus, clutching a dead daffodil, her eyes glazed.
Scrawled in huge letters on the wall over her head -- LOVE!

RATSO
If you want the word on that brother
and sister act, I'll give you the
word. That Hansel's a fag and Gretel's
got the hots for herself. So who
cares, right? Load up on the salami...

Ratso heads for the refreshment table. Joe starts after him
but pauses, intrigued by an alcove under the balcony where a
light show is in progress -- surreal images of naked bodies
projected against abstract currents of color and strobe
light...

...a bored fat lady in a muu-muu, squatted like a Buddha at
a low table, rolling joints for the guests. She lights a
joint and offers it to Joe as he wanders in to watch the
show. Joe laughs delightedly when he realizes what it is...

JOE
Shee-it, this is one helluva party!

...glancing around at the others, imitating their techniques
the quick inhaler, who follows with sharp gulps of air -

the deep inhalers who draw air as they inhale -- the stylist
who lets the smoke drift out and inhales through the nostrils --
Joe puffing himself slightly dizzy, starting to laugh at the
silent flick effect of the strobe light -- the action around
him slowing almost imperceptibly, overcranked -- a veil of
smoke hanging over the fat woman's face, transforming her
into a laughing witch -- a similar veil around Joe's head,
relaxing the self-conscious tension of his face, spontaneously
curious about the play of light on his hand, grinning at...

...a serious young technician handling the light show,
scattering psychedelic stars across a sky of magenta flesh...

...Joe reaching for the stars as he rises and wanders back
to the crowded loft, fascinated to see...

...a crew with cameras and lights, on the balcony at one end
of the loft, photographing the scene below...

...a dark-haired lady by the name of SHIRLEY -- chic in the
style of a gangster's moll -- drinking beer from the bottle,
predatory eyes searching the crowd...

...Ratso surreptitiously stuffing his pockets from the buffet
table, glancing nervously over his shoulder, unaware of Gretel
and her hand-held camera, photographing Ratso as he steals,
turning away casually, disinterested...

...Joe laughing as he dances for a moment with a tall black
girl -- the lights swinging around them -- faces swimming...

...Shirley in fleeting close-up, gone in an instant,
reappearing...

INT. MACALBERTSON BATHROOM - NIGHT

...her face in the mirror smiling in a dark, provocative way --
Joe standing at the bathroom door, forgetting to be
embarrassed as Shirley turns away from the mirror,
unhurriedly, running her fingers through her hair, boldly
meeting Joe's eyes.

SHIRLEY
I can tell, can't you?

JOE
Yeah, oh yeah.

SHIRLEY
What'll we do? Leave now or what?
Your place or mine? Oh God, the second
I looked at you I knew. Did you?

Joe grins, watching Shirley's lips move, unable to keep her
in sync, startled to hear Ratso's voice.

RATSO'S VOICE
She's hooked...

INT. MACALBERTSONS' LOFT - NIGHT

Joe realizes he is back at the party, Ratso whispering
hoarsely.

RATSO
...I'd say she was good for ten bucks,
but I'll ask for twenty...

But Joe is watching with terrible fascination as Hansel and
Gretel lift the flower girl from her sarcophagus.

SHIRLEY'S VOICE
Did you know? We were going to make
it?

Joe glances down to see himself flanked by Ratso and Shirley.

RATSO
You really want to do business?

SHIRLEY
Who's he? Oh God! Don't tell me you
two are a couple -- ?

The flower girl, hypnotically dazed, accepts a broom dipped
in black paint and smears a huge X across LOVE. Joe laughs.

HANSEL'S VOICE
Why are you laughing, Joe?

Hansel holds a microphone toward Joe, who shrugs, grinning
at Ratso and Shirley. Gretel's camera moves down Joe's body.

HANSEL
Are you for real, Joe?

JOE
Well, I ain't a f'real cowboy, but
I'm one hell of a stud!

Shirley glances at Ratso, who nods, whispering in her ear.

RATSO
A very expensive stud. And I happen
to be his manager.

The scene -- from Joe's viewpoint -- becomes increasingly
confusing and fragmented, dialogue and image moving in and
out of focus, cameras and lights surrounding him, keeping
the center of attention in his own blown mind...

...Shirley's eyes unnaturally bright, inspecting his body,

lingering on his thighs, moistening her lips...

SHIRLEY
It's too much -- to come face to
face with a walking talking sex
fantasy -- to buy a man's -- God!

...the tall black girl dancing in strobe light, starting to
remove her clothes -- Gretel following her with a camera...

SHIRLEY'S VOICE
I can't wait to tell my man Monday.
I should be taking notes. Look at my
arm!

...Shirley's talon-like fingernails caressing the gooseflesh
on her tanned arm...

RATSO'S VOICE
I gotta sit down. I feel crummy.

Ratso stretched out on a Victorian love seat -- the flower
girl walking unsteadily, passing out dead daffodils, placing
one in Ratso's hand Gretel photographing his reaction...

SHIRLEY'S VOICE
Eat it -- a man in your line of work
has to keep his strength up...

...Shirley bringing Joe a massive sandwich on a paper plate,
watching him bite into it...

SHIRLEY
It's fantastic, now I know, everything
you do has sexual implications. If I
you know, bought it -- could I take
pictures of you naked? That's part
of it, isn't it, kinky kinda things?

...the tall black girl and a few others are trying to promote
an orgy. A scrofulous old wino dances spastically, working
his toothless gums, preparing to expose himself to two girls
dancing together...

HANSEL'S VOICE
We want you, Joe. You've been chosen.

...five youths stand beside the sarcophagus -- two sailors,
two cycle freaks, a weight-lifter -- waiting to be
pallbearers. Joe joins them. All lights and cameras are turned
on the slow funeral procession, carrying the flower girl out
of the loft to the tune of "Moonlight and Roses". Strobe
light adds to the unreality of the scene...

SHIRLEY'S VOICE
I had a thing for him. Before I knew.
Why should knowing make it more of a
thing?

...Shirley talks to Gretel as she photographs the funeral.

SHIRLEY
Naturally I'll have to ask myself
why a cowboy? And why a cowboy whore?
But not tonight.

INT. MACALBERTSON LANDING - NIGHT

Shirley is pulling her coat out of the pile on the bannister.

SHIRLEY
Incidentally, how much is this going
to cost me anyway?

Joe turns to Ratso, whose attention is fixed on the coats.

JOE
Tell her, Ratso.

RATSO
Twenty bucks...

SHIRLEY
Sold. Let's go.

RATSO
...and taxi fare for me.

SHIRLEY
Get lost.

RATSO
I agree. And for that service I charge
one dollar taxi fare.

She takes a dollar from her purse and hands it to Ratso,
takes Joe's arm and starts down the stairs. Ratso lingers,
starting quickly through the coats, frisking them for loose
change.

INT. LOFT BUILDING LOBBY - NIGHT

At the foot of the stairs, Shirley kisses Joe violently.

SHIRLEY
Your name's Joe. Which is fabulous.
Joe could be anyone. Kiss me, Joe,
move over, Joe, go away, Joe. It's
just perfect.

They glance up as Ratso appears, swinging down too rapidly
on the bannister. He misses a step and falls -- a clown's
fall, unable to stop but apparently not hurting himself.
Shirley and Joe are laughing when Ratso lands at the foot of
the stairs.

SHIRLEY
He fell. Hey, fella, you fell. Is he
all right?

RATSO
(rises, mimics)
Is he all right!

JOE
Well, if you're awright, why you
hanging on the bannister. Can you
walk or not?

RATSO
Walk? Naturally I can walk.

SHIRLEY
He's got taxi fare.

JOE
Sure you're all right?

RATSO
(shouts)
I said yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

INT. TAXICAB - NIGHT

Joe and Shirley are kissing. Shirley rolls away, flushed,
fanning herself. Joe rolls down the window.

EXT. VILLAGE STREET - NIGHT

Joe leans out of the taxi window, waving his Stetson,
bellowing at the snow.

JOE
Whoopee ti yi yo...!

EXT. LOFT BUILDING - NIGHT

Ratso makes his way slowly from the building to the curb,
whistling between his teeth sharply, hailing a cab. The cab
slows to a stop. Then the driver sees Ratso, shifts into
gear and drives on. Ratso bites his thumb after the cab,
rests for a moment on the lamp post, then starts painfully
inching his way along the deserted street.

INT. SHIRLEY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Joe lies on his back, staring fixedly at a fragile mobile
hanging from the ceiling, stirring listlessly.

SHIRLEY'S VOICE
That happens. Don't worry about it...

Shirley leans on one elbow, looking at Joe sympathetically,
fighting an almost irrepressible desire to laugh. Still
avoiding Shirley's eyes, Joe finds a cigarette on the side
table, searches for matches.

JOE
Well, that's something never happened
to me before, you can bet your bottom
dollar. Uh, where's the matches,
ma'am?

SHIRLEY
Top drawer. Maybe if you didn't call
me ma'am, things would work out
better.

Joe finds the matches, lights up and lies back, staring at
the mobile as he smokes, still not looking at Shirley.

JOE
First goddam, time it ever quit on
me. Fact.

The repressed laugh finally breaks through. Shirley stifles
it quickly as Joe sits up, looking at her.

JOE
You think I'm lying!

SHIRLEY
(controls herself)
No. Of course not. Just something
struck me funny...

Close on Joe -- watching Shirley closely, reacting.

SHIRLEY'S VOICE
I just put myself in your shoes. I
had this image of a bugler without a
horn, a policeman without a stick,
etcetera, etcetera and I...
(giggles)
I think I'd better shut up, I'm making
it worse.

Shirley composes her face, reaching out to touch Joe. But
that doesn't help either. He reacts sharply.

SHIRLEY
Maybe we should take a little nap,
see what happens?

JOE
I ain't sleepy.

SHIRLEY
I know. Scribbage!

Extreme close-up of Joe -- frowning, puzzled...

JOE
Shee-it...

...camera pulling back to show Joe concentrating on a game,
spread out on the sheet, consisting of nine dice lettered on
all sides, the object being to build as many words as
possible, Scrabble fashion, while a sand timer counts the
seconds. Shirley watches Joe's efforts to think with
sympathetic amusement. The only word Joe has composed so far
is MAN.

SHIRLEY
That's pretty Freudian, Joe.

JOE
What? It's a perfectly good word,
ain't it. How much time I got?
(glances up)
Goddam sand thing drive you crazy.
Kee-rist. Spelling never was a very
strong point with me. Even in school.

SHIRLEY
If you didn't talk so much, maybe
you could think more.

JOE
Talking helps. Don't talk, you get
muddled in your head. Hey! Now you
just look at this here!

Joe spells out MONY, down from the M in MAN.

SHIRLEY
There's an E in MONEY. If that's
your word.

JOE
M-O-N-Y -- I'm right! That's just
exactly how they spell it up there
on that big building, bet you could
see it from here. M-O-N-Y.

SHIRLEY
(stifles giggle)
Okay. Never argue with a man.

JOE
Y -- what in hell starts with Y?

Shirley slyly trails the tips of her fingernails across Joe's
chest as she leans over to study the game, breathing softly
into his ear as she speaks.

SHIRLEY
It can end in Y day, pay, lay --
hey, pay lay!

One predatory hand rests on his knee -- as if by accident -
Disarranging the sheet, talon nails lightly brushing his
thigh.

JOE
Cut it out. That's cheating, teasing
me so I can't think. Just one bitsy
Y word and I gonna beat you!

SHIRLEY
You gonna beat me, Joe?

JOE
Beat your butt, you don't lemme think!

SHIRLEY
Gay ends in Y. Fey. You like that --
gay fey -- is that your problem?

JOE
I show you what problem --

But the end of his sentence is swallowed by Shirley, taking
his kiss in her open mouth, crushed by its impact, an animal
noise snarling deep in her throat -- the agonized alley cat
wail of pleasure -- Joe's problem is solved. Joe's love theme
swells triumphant. At the same time, Shirley half-rises,
trying to force Joe's head down, her own on top. The issue
is joined. Shirley has named the game. Her objective is to
force Joe onto his back. Joe's objective is to retain his
initiative. Camera ignores the classic action on the central
front, concentrating exclusively on peripheral tactical
maneuvers...

...Joe's elbows pinning her shoulders...

...her eyes bright, accepting the challenge...

...his tight smile revealing clenched teeth...

...her fingers searching out then tickling his underarm...

...Joe laughing as he falls lopsidedly...

...Shirley laughing triumphantly...

...his hand closing on her wrist...

...her talon-nails clawing the air...

...her toes walking up his calf...

...her legs suddenly locking around his knees...

...her free hand grabbing his hair...

...her shoulder rising as she forces his head back...

...her lips pressing down on his...

...his hand swatting an unidentified mass of flesh...

...her eyes popping, teeth clamping his ear lobe...

...his hand catching her ankle...

...her teeth losing the ear lobe as she screams...

...her foot appearing upside down beside her face...

...her talon-nails furrowing flesh, drawing blood...

...his head rearing back, roaring...

...both rolling to the floor, out of view...

...her feet suddenly flying up into view...

...her hand tugging rhythmically at the blanket...

...her other hand wildly exploring Joe's back...

...her ankles locking spasmodically...

...her eyes and mouth wide, gaping...

...the blanket suddenly ripping free, flying into the air as
her arm flings itself around Joe...

...the bedclothes spilling down around them, muffling her
ascending shrieks.

JOE'S VOICE
Whoopee ti yi yo...

INT. SHIRLEY'S BEDROOM - MORNING

Shirley has difficulty reverting to her nine-to-five role as
a Madison Avenue career girl. Half-dressed for work, she is
talking on the telephone, her eyes on the open door to the
bathroom, through which Joe's voice continues singing.

SHIRLEY
Well, I really can't talk now, if
you know what I mean, but believe me
when I say, Myra, it's an experience
every emancipated woman owes herself.
I'm not. I'm not exaggerating. Well,
what's Phil's poker night?
(yells off)
Joe -- are you available next
Thursday, eight-thirty?

INT. SHIRLEY'S BATHROOM - MORNING

Thoroughly shaved, bathed and groomed, Joe is sprinkling an
expensive cologne into his boots. He yells back
enthusiastically.

JOE
Well, lemme think now, Thursday,
eight-thirty, yeah, I guess I could
be available. Hell, yeah.

INT. SHIRLEY'S BEDROOM - MORNING

Shirley turns back to the phone. Joe appears, grinning.

SHIRLEY
Why don't you just come here? I'll
be working every night this week.
I'll leave a key with the super...

JOE'S VOICE
Well, ma'am -- Shirley -- I sure
hate to trouble you, but...

Shirley opens her purse, savoring the moment. As she places
the money in Joe's hand...

INT. MEN'S STORE - DAY

...Joe slaps a bill on the counter, admiring a fine new cowboy
shirt in the mirror, wriggling new white socks into his boots.
Suddenly remembering, he goes to the sock rack and buys two
pairs, one large and one small. Gradually dominating, Joe's
love theme recurs, continuing over...

INT. CHAIN DRUG STORE - DAY

...Joe slaps down money to pay for an assortment of medicine.

INT. CONDEMNED TENEMENT - DAY

Joe takes the stairs two at a time to burst in on...

INT. X FLAT - DAY

...Ratso huddled in the overstuffed chair -- wearing the
stolen sheepskin coat -- wrapped in blankets, his teeth
chattering, in spite of the sweat on his forehead. Joe stops
abruptly, his mood shattered by Ratso's alarming condition.
They simply stare at each other for a moment, then Joe turns
away to see soup heating on the Sterno stove. Joe tosses one
of his paper bags onto Ratso's lap...

JOE
See what you think of that crap.
I'll pour your soup. Got some of
that junk you like to swill, too.
Mentholatum. Aspirin. All that shee-
it...

Ratso opens the paper bag, trying to control his shivering,
pulling out the socks and a suit of long underwear. He sees
Joe watching him for a reaction. The best Ratso can do is a
slight shake of his head.

JOE
They wrong?

RATSO
No. But while you was buying the
underwear, I could have lifted the
socks.

JOE
You couldn't lift fly specks from a
sugar bowl. Can you hold this?

Joe hands Ratso the soup. Ratso seems steadied by the warmth
in his hands. He nods, sipping the soup.

RATSO
But thanks.
(hesitates, then)
Hey, Joe, don't get sore about this
or anything. You promise?

JOE
Yeah.

RATSO
Well, I don't think I can walk.
(embarrassed)
I mean, I been falling down a lot
and, uh...

JOE
And what?

RATSO
I'm scared.

JOE
What of?

RATSO
What'll happen. I mean what they do
to, you know, do with you -- if you
can't -- ah, Christ!

JOE
Who?

RATSO
I don't know. Cops. Or the -- how
should I know?

Ratso is trembling so violently that the soup, starts to
slop over. Joe takes it and sets it on the table.

JOE
Okay. Here it is. You gonna go see
the doctor. I got nine bucks and
twenty more Thursday and I gonna be
riding high before you know it. So
you gonna get you the best goddam
doctor in this town and get yourself
straightened out, that's what.

RATSO
No doctors. No, sir. Not me. Doctors
are like goddam auto mechanics. Fix
one-thing, unplug another. Operate
for piles and while they're there,
they unscrew your liver. My old man,
for God's sake, wasn't any sicker'n
I am when he went to the doctor.

JOE
Well, just exactly what the hell you
think you're gonna do? Die on me?

RATSO
I'm going to Florida, that's my only
chance.

JOE
You know what's wrong with you? You
got fevers. You kinky as a bedbug.
How you gonna get to Florida?

RATSO
I'll find the money. If you just get
me on the bus, that's all I ask.

JOE
Just when everything's going my way,
you gotta pull a stunt like this.

RATSO
I don't even want you to go. Whaddya
think of that? I got other plans for
my life than dragging around some
dumb cowboy that thinks he's God's
gift to women. One twenty-buck trick
and he's already the biggest stud in
New York City. It's laughable.

Joe sets his Stetson on his head.

JOE
When I put you on that bus down to
Florida tonight, that'll be the
happiest day of my life!

INT. PHONE BOOTH - DAY

Joe strikes a match with his thumbnail and watches it curl
away while he waits, hearing a phone ring. Then the phone is
answered by a woman's voice.

JOE
Hey, Shirley... Miss who? Oh, yeah,
well, when will Missus Gardner be
home?... I'm a friend of hers, a
goddam good friend... Shee-it, I
can't wait till then...

Joe hangs up while the answering service's voice is still
talking. The match has burned out. Joe flips it away.

INSERT

Headline -- WALTER P. BOX TAKES NEW YORK BY SURPRISE.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE - DUSK

Joe loiters outside a gag headline print shop, his eyes
following a man in homburg and chesterfield.

EXT./INT. METROPOLE - DUSK

Joe lingers momentarily, identifying with the violence in a
jazz drummer, his eyes searching for a pickup.

INT. ARCADE - DUSK

Joe tests his skills in a shoot-down with a large metal cowboy
and kills him, a recorded voice sneaks, "Got me!" as the
cowboy slumps. Joe glances off as he hears polite applause...

TOWNY'S VOICE
Bravo...

...TOWNY -- a stout, round-faced man -- clasps Joe's hand
between both of his own, like an old friend.

TOWNY
How are you?
(more quietly)
Townsend P. Locke, from Chicago.
Call me Towny. I'm here to attend a
paper manufacturers' convention and,
frankly, to have a little fun,
dammit...

Towny grips Joe's elbow, almost forcibly leading him away.

EXT. SIDE STREET WEST OF BROADWAY - DUSK

Towny's face appears huge at Joe's shoulder.

TOWNY
This is my first night in town and
I'll consider it a ghastly omen
clouding my entire ten days, if you
don't consent to have dinner with
me. Anywhere you like...

Towny's mouth continues speaking at an incredible rate, but
his words are drowned out momentarily by the grinder of a
sanitation truck, chewing up a discarded Christmas tree with
tinsel clinging to it. Towny is still talking when they've
passed the truck.

TOWNY
...never mind how you're dressed.
They know me. I'll say you're with
the rodeo. There's always a rodeo in
New York, dammit. Besides, you look
very elegant...

EXT. STREET CORNER - NIGHT

Joe hardly notices O'Daniel on a far cornet, his whining
scarcely audible. "Ye are the salt of the earth, Jesus said,
but if the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be
salted?"

TOWNY
But, dammit all, I just remembered,
we'll have to eat in my room because
I have this phone call coming at
nine-thirty...

INT. TOWNY'S HOTEL ELEVATOR - NIGHT

An ancient open cage lift.

TOWNY
What I like about you, you're such a
wonderful conversationalist. So won't
that be nice to have dinner sent up?

INT. TOWNY'S HOTEL CORRIDOR - NIGHT

A threadbare, carpeted but spacious hallway.

TOWNY
Fifty years ago this was the only
hotel in Manhattan. My mother always
calls me at her bedtime, so I've got
to be there.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

The room has little to recommend it except its size and large
French window, through which -- ignored by Joe -- the Mutual
tower flashes MONY. Towny waves Joe toward the couch, quickly
slipping several physical culture magazines from the coffee
table onto a shelf beneath.

TOWNY
A drink? I've got some nice gin. If
you'd prefer something else, they'll
send it up...

JOE
Gin's okay.

TOWNY
It's so exciting. New York. The mad
forward thrust of everything. My
sense of time here is completely
altered.

INT. TENEMENT STAIRS - DAY

Joe carries Ratso down the stairs, wrapped in a blanket.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

The coffee table is littered with empty cartons of Chinese
food, soaked through with brown sauce. Joe finds the last
egg roll and eats it as Towny's voice drones on.

TOWNY
Sometimes it seems to me time stopped
twenty years ago. There was this
war, there was this handsome young
man with quite black hair and he was
supposed to die. But he didn't. Isn't
that amusing?

JOE
What?

Towny's dialogue moves out of sync. Towny's eyes seem to
look into camera -- from Joe's viewpoint -- but slightly
past it. The quality of the scene grows increasingly
disjointed as Joe glances around the room, looking for
something to steal, losing personal contact with Towny,
viewing him as an object to be used for a specific purpose.

TOWNY
Enough about me. I'm through talking
for the evening. Now I want to hear
about conditions in the West. The
romance of the West holds a tremendous
power over me. Mother was actually a
pioneer woman, can you believe it?
When she calls, I'll introduce you
and she'll be so thrilled.

EXT. TENEMENT NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY

Ratso sits an a stoop while Joe hails a cab.

INT. TOWNY'S BATHROOM - NIGHT

Towny's voice is only a shrill monotone from here, Joe
searches with increasing desperation for something of value.
An old electric razor is too bulky for Joe's pocket, probably
worthless anyhow. Towny's array of medicines merely recalls
Joe's purpose.

TOWNY'S VOICE
Mama, a coincidence. Guess who was
being discussed. Discussed. Not
disgusted. Discussed! Do you have
that thing turned up? Why aren't you
wearing it! This is impossible!

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS TERMINAL - DAY

Joe lifts Ratso from the taxi and carries him inside.

JOE'S VOICE
Listen, Towny, did I mention I got a
sick kid?

INT. TOWNY'S BATHROOM - NIGHT

Joe is rehearsing the speech in the bathroom mirror.

JOE
Well, he is, he's sicker'n shee-it.
And I've gotta get him South quick
as I can...

INT. GREYHOUND BUS TERMINAL - DAY

Joe stands in a long line, glancing impatiently at the clock
while Ratso waits on a bench, wrapped in his blanket.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

Towny is stretched out on the couch, staring morosely.

TOWNY
I was so childish with her.

Joe moves into frame past camera, standing in front of him,
so that we can see the scene from behind Joe's waist.

JOE
What d'you want?

TOWNY
What?

JOE
What you got me up here for?

TOWNY
Oh, difficult, it's so difficult.
You're a nice person, Joe -- I should
never have asked you up -- a lovely
person. Oh, how I loathe life. I
loathe it. Please go. Please.

JOE
You want me to leave?

TOWNY
No, yes. No, I mean yes please go.
Help me to be good. Come back
tomorrow. Promise.

JOE
I'm going to Florida.

TOWNY
This is terrible. I meet someone who --
then -- wait, I want to give you a
present. For your trip. You'll let
me please...

INT. GREYHOUND BUS TERMINAL - DAY

Joe's face is expectant, next in line at the ticket window.
He nods reassuringly toward Ratso.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

Joe's face is puzzled then angry as Towny takes a Saint
Christopher medal from his sack and hands it to Joe. His
eyes are looking past Joe, his speech out of sync.

TOWNY
Please take it. You don't have to be
Catholic. Saint Christopher is the
patron saint of all travelers. I
want you to have it. For helping me
be good.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS TERMINAL - DAY

It's Joe's turn. The clerk looks at him expectantly.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

Joe's voice is angry.

JOE
Listen, I gotta have money.

TOWNY
Oh. Yes. Of course. I should have
thought. You shouldn't have to ask.
That was thoughtless of me. Yes.
Wait here...

Towny hurries across the room to the bedside table. Beside
the telephone is a picture of a prosperous pioneer woman
wearing a hearing-aid. Towny tries to conceal his movements
as he takes a wallet from the drawer, lifts out a bill and
tucks the wallet back and turns -- terrified to see Joe close
behind him -- almost knocking the lamp off the table in his
fright. Pressed against the table, protecting but calling
attention to his wallet, Towny holds out the bill.

TOWNY
Here. Don't even thank me.

JOE
(takes the bill)
I gotta have more'n ten. I gotta
have fifty-seven dollars.

TOWNY
I simply don't have it, Joe.

JOE
Get outta my way.

TOWNY
You're wasting your time. There's
nothing in there.

Towny clutches the table, staring at Joe, shaking his head
like a bad little boy. Joe backhands him angrily. Trying to
duck the blow, Towny stumbles and slips to the floor, but
grabs the table in his arms, watching Joe out of the corner
of his eyes, whimpering. Joe grabs his hair, turning his
face up.

JOE
Let go. Let go of the table.

Joe slaps him, but Towny clings more fiercely to the table
as Joe tries to jerk it free. Joe strikes him with his fist.

TOWNY
I deserved that, I know I did.

But he clutches the table wildly. His mother's picture falls
unnoticed. Joe stands in panic, sickened, unable to fulfill
the role Towny has assigned him.

TOWNY
I brought this on myself. I'm
bleeding, my nose is bleeding, isn't
it?

Towny's eyes shine, teeth clenched in a crazy smile, blood
trickling from his nose. Suddenly Joe jerks the lamp free of
its socket.

JOE
You wanna gimme fifty-seven dollars
or you wanna busted skull?

Towny simply stares at the lamp.

JOE
Please let go of that table.

Joe threatens, swings the lamp down, but stops short of
hitting Towny. Towny shrieks -- eyes rolling back as he falls
limp -- loosing his grip on the table, leaning on the bed,
laughing and crying hysterically. Joe has to step over him
to reach the wallet in the drawer. He takes all the money --
probably twice what he needs -- desperate to get out of the
room.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS TERMINAL - DAY

Joe carries Ratso up the steps onto the bus.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

Towny's shrill little whisper says...

TOWNY
Thank you, Joe.

...provoking Joe to glance back. Towny is reaching for the
telephone, his eyes on Joe with wild brightness, holding his
hand on the receiver. Joe knocks the phone from his hand,
hits Towny in the mouth, jerks the cord from the wall as
Towny falls -- gagging -- finally dislodging his dentures on
the carpet. Joe stands sick and confused, holding the useless
phone in two hands...

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS TERMINAL - DAY

The bus driver revs the powerful engine, shifting gears.

INT. TOWNY'S BEDROOM-SITTING ROOM - NIGHT

...Joe is about to hang the dead receiver on its hook when
on sudden impulse -- he shoves the small end of the receiver
into the toothless mouth of the man on the floor.

EXT. LINCOLN TUNNEL - DAY

The bus roars into the tunnel.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

Joe and Ratso sit near the rear of the bus. Ratso's teeth
chatter, wrapped in the blanket.

RATSO
Thirty-one hours.

They ride a few moments in silence.

RATSO
The trip is. Nine-thirty in the
morning we get there. Not this morning
but the next one at nine thirty.

Both nod for a moment in silence.

JOE
These guys're good drivers.

RATSO
They gotta be.

JOE
Yeah.

EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY

The bus tires sing as it speeds South.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

Joe and Ratso have reversed places, putting Ratso by the
window. Joe watches a middle-aged couple try on their new
straw hats, unaware that Joe is watching them.

RATSO
You get your first palm tree in South
Carolina.

JOE
How'n hell a dumb Bronx kid like you
know that?

RATSO
I read it.

JOE
Shee-it. You believe all you read?

EXT. BRIDGE - NIGHT

The metal grating rings as the bus soars onto it.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - NIGHT

Two aging young ladies in brand-new resort wear are casually
examining Joe, along with the other men on the bus, but Joe
is frowning at Ratso, who shivers despite the bright sun.

JOE
If you have to shiver, why don't you
pull the blanket up more?

RATSO
I been thinking. I hope we're not
gonna have a lotta trouble about my
name down there. Because like what's
the whole point of this trip anyway?

JOE
Keep the goddam blanket on.

RATSO
I mean New York's one thing, but can
you see this guy, imagine it, running
around the goddam beach all suntan
and he's going in swimming, like,
and then somebody yells 'Hey, Ratso' --
how does that sound to you?

JOE
Sounds like they knew you.

RATSO
Sounds like crap, admit it. And I'm
not gonna have it. I'm Rico all the
time, okay, do you blame me? That's
agreed, okay? We're gonna tell all
these new people my name's Rico?

Joe nods. Ratso closes his eyes, momentarily at peace.

EXT. HIGHWAY - DAWN

The bus passes a Florida hotel sign too swiftly to read it.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAWN

Joe frowns in his sleep, awakens, lifts his Stetson to see
Ratso wide awake, in misery, wiping tears from his eyes.

JOE
Hey -- whatsa matter?

RATSO
(barely audible)
I'm wet.

JOE
You're what?

RATSO
I wet my pants! My seat's all wet.

JOE
Hell, don't cry about it!

RATSO
Here I am going to Florida and my
leg hurts, my butt hurts, my chest
hurts, my face hurts, and like that
ain't enough, I gotta pee all over
myself.

Joe laughs suddenly, uncontrollably.

RATSO
I'm falling apart, that's funny?

JOE
(nods, laughing)
You just -- just -- what happened,
you just had a little rest stop wasn't
on the schedule.

Ratso begins to laugh with Joe as if it were the funniest
thing they'd ever heard. Then Ratso's face pales as he starts
to choke and cough. Joe pats him on the back.

JOE
Hey, what size pants you wear?

EXT. SMALL TOWN STREET - DAY

The bus is parked in the distance. Joe comes from a clothing
store, bare-headed, wearing plain slacks and sport-shirt. He
carries the boots, Stetson and cowboy suit in one hand, a
bundle under his arm. He dumps his cowboy regalia in the
trash bin of a sandwich stand and calls to the WAITRESS.

JOE
Couple crullers'n coffee to go.

The Waitress draws coffee, wraps crullers.

WAITRESS
Where you from?

JOE
New York.

Joe pays. She smiles, gives him change. Joe smiles, starts
on toward the bus, hardly aware that he has accomplished
something rare and remarkable for Joe -- a simple human
contact without fear or threat, a pleasant everyday happening.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

Joe and Ratso have moved to the seat farthest back, wider
than the others. Joe blocks the view of the other passengers
as he helps Ratso into a new pair of corduroy pants and a
Florida shirt. In the middle of the operation, Ratso dozes
off. Joe shakes his head, scowling, annoyed, but continues,
lifting Ratso enough to slide the pants around his waist.
Ratso awakens as Joe zips the fly.

RATSO
Hey, what the hell you doing?

JOE
I'm zipping your fly, what the hell
you think I'm doing?

They both smile. It isn't funny enough to laugh at. Joe
arranges the blanket, takes out a package of cigarettes,
glances at Ratso and puts it away.

EXT. TRAVELING SHOT WITH BUS - DAY

Palm trees are streaking past the window. The sun is glaring
hot. A group of kids in bare feet and straw hats wave to the
bus as it passes.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

Ratso's eyes squint in a dazed half-sleep. Joe leans across
to pull down the shade. He hesitates a moment, watching...

...past his reflection, a group of young men on their way to
work, carrying lunch pails, dressed exactly as Joe is now
dressed...

...then Joe lowers the blind and seats himself. Ratso nods
slightly, his voice practically inaudible.

RATSO
Thanks, Joe.

JOE
Shee-it, you know, I got this thing
all figured out, Ratso. I mean Rico.
When we get to Miami, what I'll do,
I'll go to work. I gotta do that,
'cause see, I ain't no kind of a
hustler. I ain't even any goddam
good as a bum. I'm a nothing, that's
what I am. So reckon I'd better go
to work and get me a goddam job.
Okay?

Joe glances at Ratso, but there is no response.
Surreptitiously, Joe takes out a cigarette, turns his face
away from Ratso and lights it, hiding it cupped in his hand
as he smokes.

JOE
Yeah, guess that's what I'm gonna
do.

They ride for a moment in semi-darkness, Joe smoking, looking
at the other people on the bus, brighter without the shades
own. Joe turns, checking the blanket around Ratso, noticing
that Ratso is sitting in a peculiarly stiff, awkward position.
Joe leans over to straighten Ratso's head, blocking our view
for a moment. Then Joe leans back, frowning, thoughtful. We
still do not see Ratso's face. Joe rises slowly, starting
forward in the bus...

...passing an older couple, a schoolgirl, two ladies with
straw hats, a young man trying to read, pausing when he
reaches...

...the DRIVER, staring out at the Sunshine Parkway with the
Driver, leaning over so he won't have to speak too loudly.

DRIVER
Yes, sir?

JOE
My friend's dead in the back seat.

DRIVER
Your friend's what in the back seat?

JOE
Dead. Dead as a doornail.

DRIVER
Is this some kind of...

He glances at Joe, then pulls off the road and stands up.

DRIVER
Okay, folks, everything's fine.
Nothing to worry about.

The passengers crane their necks as Joe follows the Driver
to the rear of the bus. The passengers at the rear are staring
ahead, trying not to see what is going on. The Driver touches
Ratso, straightens, touches his hat, but doesn't remove it.

DRIVER
Is he kin to you?

Joe nods no.

DRIVER
Don't you want to close his eyes?

JOE
Close them?

DRIVER
Just reach over and close them. That's
all.

Joe closes Ratso's eyes.

DRIVER
I guess we'll just drive on, right?
Nothing else to do.

JOE
No, sir. Not till Miami. I'll see to
burying then.

The Driver moves to the front and turns to the passengers.

DRIVER
Just a little sickness, folks, nothing
serious. We'll be in Miami...
(looks at watch)
...in forty minutes.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

Joe sits stiffly, very frightened, as the bus starts on.
Then he glances at Ratso, frowning, reaches out an arm and
puts it around Ratso, settling back, staring straight ahead.

THE END

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