"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 ]















"BLACK SNAKE MOAN"

an original screenplay
by
Craig Brewer























Only one kind of blues...
And that consists between male and female.
- Son House






























EXT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - EARLY DAWN

RAE is naked.

Wrapped around her shoulders is a loose-knit spread that
conceals her slender form. She is in her 20's: a strawberry
blond, with cinnamon freckles spotted across her pale skin.
She is beautiful without trying.

She stares at the distant trees. This is the South; the small
town of FISHERVILLE, TENNESSEE.

Soon Rae will be alone.

CUT TO:

INT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - EARLY MORNING

RONNIE is 25 years old. His hair is cropped in a military
issue buzz.

Rae's face is wet with tears as Ronnie gently makes love to
her. She touches his face and sobs like a child.

CUT TO:

INT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - LATER THAT MORNING

RONNIE is dressed in his National Guard fatigues, packing up
his gear.

Rae is now wearing a short jeans skirt and a T-shirt with a
gray wolf print ironed on the front. There is a knock at the
door. Rae flinches. Ronnie opens the door revealing GILL
MORTON, Ronnie's buddy from high school.

GILL
Still need a lift?

RONNIE
Yeah. Transmission's shot.

Gill and Rae's eyes meet. Gill sees that Rae is crying.

GILL
Gonna have a smoke.

Ronnie shuts the door and feels a wave of sudden nausea. He
rushes past Rae.

RONNIE
Shit...

INT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - BATHROOM - MORNING

Ronnie is vomiting into the toilet as Rae rubs his head.
Each painful dry heave makes Rae comfort him more.

RAE
Baby...

EXT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - MORNING

Ronnie places his duffle bag in Gill's truck. Rae begins to
cough.

GILL
You sick?

Rae doesn't answer.

Gill backs away, allowing Ronnie and Rae some privacy. The
two lovers stare into each others eyes and then embrace.

Rae peeks over Ronnie's shoulder at Gill with an expression
of dread. Anger seizes her.

RAE
This ain't gonna work.

RONNIE
Rae...

RAE
I don't see why we gotta lie 'bout
it when you and I know this ain't
gonna work.

RONNIE
(holds her face in
his hands)
Rae don't do this now...

RAE
It's stupid... It's so fucking stupid!

RONNIE
Rae!

Silence. Rae melts. Tears stream down her face.

RONNIE
(reaches in his pocket)
Look it. I got somethin' for us.
This is gonna help, okay.

GILL
You gonna miss your bus.

Ronnie removes a small digital watch and fastens it around
her wrist.

RONNIE
This watch here is gonna beep at
midnight. Every night. That's when
it comes up on you the hardest, right?

Ronnie holds out his own wrist to show her his identical
watch.

RONNIE
And wherever I'm at, my watch'll
beep, too. We'll be thinkin' bout
each other at the same time. Wherever
we are.

Rae is shaking. He grips her by the back of her neck and
pushes their faces inches away. Eye to eye.

RONNIE
I gotta believe we can do this or I
ain't gonna make it, Rae.

Rae sees the fear in his eyes. She swallows her own anxiety
and nods.

RAE
Okay... Okay.

They kiss passionately.

RONNIE
I love you.

Afraid of his swelling emotion, Ronnie quickly breaks away
from her.

Rae watches as her love leaves in Gill's pick-up. Compelled
to follow, she absently walks after the truck, down the gravel
drive.

She stops. Silence. She is alone.

An intense wave of sorrow hits, like a kick to her gut. She
gasps for breath as she struggles to hold back the flood of
her tears.

Rae drops to her knees, right there in the gravel drive. Her
hair falls in front of her face, masking her grief.

Her shoulders shudder.

Her middle finger begins to scratch at her thigh repeatedly --
a nervous habit that has always accompanied this burning
sensation that consumes her.

RAE
Shit.

Tears come to her. She's not going to be able to stop it.

RAE
Goddammit, Ronnie...
(shouting in
frustration)
GODDAMMIT!

Rae is gripping the watch around her wrist for comfort. Her
breathing is already out of her control. The dizziness is
already upon her. The familiar burning.

She inhales in gasps, rocking back and forth on her knees.
The late morning cicadas chirp in an undulating frenzy.

RAE
(shaking her head)
Mm-mm
(meaning "no")
Mm-mm... Mm-mm...

The scratching at her leg leaves a red mark. She is dizzy
with anxiety. Her teeth are clenched, her face is flush.

RAE
MM-MM! MM-MM! MMMMMMMMMMMM!

CUT TO:

INT. MOTEL ROOM - AFTERNOON

TEHRONNE is fucking Rae from behind.

Tehronne is a muscular, dark-skinned, black male in his late
twenties.

Rae's face is crammed up against the mirror in the small
bathroom. Tehronne gets faster and pushes harder -- a stark
contrast to her lovemaking with Ronnie.

Rae comes. A severe coughing fit hits her. She pushes him
away with her ass.

RAE
We're done, right?

CUT TO:

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - AFTERNOON

Walking with his hands shoved deep into his pockets, wearing
his only suit and tie, is LAZARUS WOODS (LAZ). He is in his
late fifties, black, a strong face under his old fedora. He
stares across the street into Dunn's Cafe.

ROSE WOODS, black, early forties, stands in the cafe. She
looks confident and resolute in her new green skirt.

A brown Delta Olds pulls up into a parking space in front of
Laz. Stepping out is REVEREND R.L., Laz's longtime friend.
He is also black and in his late fifties.

R.L.
You ain't gonna make a fuss, are
you?
(no answer)
Nothing a man can do when a woman
make up her mind.

LAZARUS
I never laid a hand on her in anger.
Not a day. Not even when I's drinkin'.
But this business got me wonderin'
what a good shake and slap would do
for her.

R.L.
That kind of talk is between us.
Don't you go in there with that shit
on your tongue.

LAZARUS
I didn't start this, R.L.

Laz tries to stop his lip from quivering: the man is hurting.

R.L.
You wanna pray with me 'fore you go
in? Laz?
(R.L. touches Laz's
arm and bows his
head)
Heavenly Father...

CUT TO:

INT. DUNN'S CAFE - AFTERNOON

R.L.'s prayer is heard as Laz opens the front door to the
cafe. He looks ill. Each step is painful.

R.L. (V.O.)
We do not question your divine plan
for us, Oh God. But in these times,
when our spirit lies in shadow. When
we are lost.

Laz crosses to Rose's booth -- the distance seems to stretch
out into eternity.

R.L. (V.O.)
We ask that you give us strength.
Give us strength that surpasses all
understanding. In your name we pray.
Amen.

Laz sits across from his wife.

ROSE
Can't remember the last time I saw
you in that suit.

LAZARUS
Your mother's funeral. I's a
pallbearer, remember?

The waitress is kind and twangy as she asks for their order.

WAITRESS
Can I start you both off with some
coffee 'fore I take your order?

ROSE
We won't be stayin' long. Coffee'll
be fine.

The waitress leaves. The sounds of the cafe fill the silence.

ROSE
We leavin' this weekend. Deke got a
friend in Mobile gonna get him a job
at the water company...

LAZARUS
(interrupting)
If you come to talk about that
muthafucka, I'm gonna get up and
leave you sittin' pretty in that new
suit he bought'cha.

ROSE
Think this about money still, ya old
fool?

LAZARUS
Say what you gotta say, but I ain't
gonna hear you speak his name to me.
Not never. You hear?

ROSE
How many times we been over this,
Laz? How many times?

The waitress places the coffee between them and leaves.

ROSE
Thought we was gonna be friendly
about this.

LAZARUS
Carryin' on behind my back. Make me
out to look like a fool to all our
people. Tell me, what's friendly
about that?

ROSE
I'm not ready to grow old, Laz. Livin'
with you. I feel it. Like I'm one
foot in the dirt. Saw it happen to
my momma. And that's not gonna happen
to me. I got living to do.

LAZARUS
And you gonna live it with him?

Rose doesn't answer. Lazarus softens, touching her hand.

LAZARUS
Rose. Folks get sick. But you do
what you can to get on the mend. Our
marriage... it just got sick. That's
all.

ROSE
Talk to me about sick. Ain't been
right since I moved into that drafty
house.

LAZARUS
I keep the heat on.

ROSE
That damned, rusty, radiator, bout
burned the skin off my legs each
time I passed.

LAZARUS
Kept us warm for twelve years.

It's over. Laz has lost her for good.

ROSE
I deserve better than this.

LAZARUS
Better'n me?

ROSE
Better than what you give.

LAZARUS
Rose... please...

ROSE
Laz... You can't say nothin'...

LAZARUS
If we get with a counselor. At the
church, maybe they's...

ROSE
(the final interruption)
I don't love ya no more.

The words are daggers. Laz is wounded beyond concealment.
Rose picks up her purse, preparing to leave.

ROSE
I'm sorry you hurtin'. But, like I
say, this the only life I got.
(waits for him to
respond)
I said my piece.

She stands and attempts to walk away. Laz grips her tightly
by the wrist.

LAZARUS
God forgive you, for how you done
me...

ROSE
Let go...

LAZARUS
My Daddy told me that a younger woman
would bleed me dry. And that's what
you did. Ya bled me.

ROSE
Let go of my arm...

LAZARUS
Would'a chopped my arm off if you
asked. And this how you do me!

ROSE
LAZ, I said let...!

LAZARUS
You better pray, gal. You better
pray...

ROSE
(yanks free)
Don't you lay a CURSE ON ME!

The whole cafe is silent. All eyes are on Rose.

ROSE
(to customers)
Yeah, go'on! Look! See if I give a
shit about any of you people!

And she's gone, right out the front door.

CUT TO:

INT. MOTEL ROOM - AFTERNOON

Tehronne is taking his time hanging his ice around his neck
and wrists as he stands shirtless before the mirror. Rae is
lying on the bed.

RAE
You got any money?

TEHRONNE
Thought you had a man for that.

RAE
(a heavy cough)
I said we wasn't gonna talk about
him.

TEHRONNE
What we just did, you askin' for
money, make a man stop. I ain't
callin' you no ho. But I ain't gonna
be played like no trick, neither.
Remember... you called me.

RAE
Save that hustle talk to them field
ballers you sell crack to.

TEHRONNE
What'd I tell you?
(kicks the bed)
I don't do none of that shit no more.
I'm in communications now.

RAE
Stolen phone cards and two-ways is
what you sayin'.

Rae starts coughing.

TEHRONNE
Mobile technology is the new fix for
these niggaz, I'm tellin' you. I'm
just lookin' ahead.
(takes out his wallet)
Anyways, ain't no money in drugs no
more with these rednecks popping
cough pills like they's Skittles.
Hey, that's what you need, girl. Get
you some cough medicine. What, you
sick?

RAE
Just a cough. Sugar and a spoonful
of Jack'll do it.

TEHRONNE
(takes out money)
Alright. How much you need, ho?

RAE
The hell you call me?

TEHRONNE
Eh, if the bootie fits...

Tehronne catches Rae's wrist as she goes to slap. He quickly
yanks her arm behind her back and bends her backwards, shoving
his face close to her own. He grips the money in a fist and
cocks it to punch -- all in jest.

TEHRONNE
You gonna get rough? Is that what
you doin'?

Rae's chest begins to heave with deep breaths. Tehronne looks
down at her legs as she anxiously rubs them together.

TEHRONNE
(shakes his head)
I swear, I seen some buck-wild bitches
in my time, but you the illest I
ever seen.

Rae gets control of the burning. She takes the money.

RAE
Just got a cough.

CUT TO:

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - DAY

Rae is prancing up the walkway on the square. Two young men
dressed for construction pass Rae.

MAN
It's already noon, Rae. You think
that skirt should still be on?

RAE
(flips them off)
If it weren't you could kiss my rebel
cootch, ya faggot.

The men keep walking as Rae coughs. She turns toward the
Fisherville Grocery.

SANDY
Cough drops or condoms?

Rae stops in her tracks, looking up at her estranged mother,
SANDY, smoking a cigarette outside the grocery store. Sandy
has bleached hair with dark roots. She is in her late-forties:
once a sexy girl, now she's lost all her tread.

RAE
(surprised to see her)
Didn't know you was workin' here
now?

SANDY
I just like dressin' up in these
goddamn blue vests.
(takes a drag)
Your money ticket get shipped today?

Rae walks away -- deeply affected by Sandy's presence.

SANDY
(calling after her)
You let me know if I can be of any
assistance.

CUT TO:

EXT. MELVIN'S FEED STORE - DAY

Laz drives an old green Ford pick-up. He pulls the truck up
to the front of the feed store and kills the engine.

LINCOLN, a 13-year-old black boy, comes out of the open
loading door.

LINCOLN
You won't at the square this mornin'.

LAZARUS
Get me ten bags of mulch.

LINCOLN
Yes'sir.

Lincoln runs off. Laz yanks off his black tie.

EXT. MELVIN'S FEED STORE - LATER

Lincoln slaps the last bag of mulch into the bed of Laz's
truck. Laz hands Lincoln a twenty.

LAZARUS
Keep the change on that.

LINCOLN
Naw... I got it, Mr. Lazarus.
(makes change)
You wanna tip me, best do it in butter
beans. Momma say she need a bag 'a
yours, none of that store-bought
junk. That's what she said.

Laz smiles. He takes the change. Climbs in his truck.

LAZARUS
Alright, Lincoln. You come on by,
I'll load you up.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS'S BARN - LATE DAY

Lazarus steers his tractor toward his small home in a sea of
lush green kudzu. He kills the engine and looks beyond the
nose of his tractor. He lights a cigarette. Below the nose
is the head of a rose garden with a painted sign under it:
Rose's Roses.

Laz inhales smoke and exhales hate. The tractor lunges
forward, trampling the garden, ripping the flowers to shreds.

CUT TO:

INT. BOJO'S - EARLY EVENING

MAYELLA is a heavy, forty-year-old black woman. Her blue
neon tube top matches her short pants stretched across her
healthy ass. She is flipping through the juke box selection.

MAYELLA
You gonna put some Luther Vandross
in here? Shit, he black ain't he?

BOJO is reading a paper behind the bar. He's short and stout,
looking like a sad bull dog.

BOJO
He black alright, he just ain't blue.

MAYELLA
Why you stop havin' dancin' on
Saturday? Used to have bands... all
kind's live shit. Like a wake up in
here, now.

BOJO
Folks can dance when they want. Didn't
buy that mirror ball for nothin'.

MAYELLA
You seen my snake-skin shoes?

Mayella lifts up her leg and stretches it over the bar with
a provocative flourish. Her shoe is bright blue.

MAYELLA
They're from New York. My niece gets
'em on the computer.

LAZARUS
They got blue snakes up north?

Mayella turns to Laz sipping a beer at the end of the bar.

MAYELLA
Naw. They got some blue dye, though.
You think them boots you got on come
from a black cow?

BOJO
Wanna get on somebody 'bout live
music, get on ol' Laz, there. He the
one got this place shakin' back in
the day.

MAYELLA
Don't gotta tell me. Me and my
girlfriends use-ta talk 'bout them
hard fingertips he got pickin' that
guitar.

LAZARUS
Got'em pickin' peas, not strings.

Mayella moves in close, with the tips of her tits touching
his arm.

MAYELLA
They still hard?

LAZARUS
Mayella. It ain't happened yet. Ain't
happenin' tonight.

MAYELLA
(retreating with a
glare)
I know you hurtin', Laz. I got ears,
you know. But you should know more'n
me... ain't no better cure for them
blues than some good pussy.

Mayella saunters over to the pool table with the others.

BOJO
Whole lotta woman, right there.

LAZARUS
She can still spread it around.

The door opens behind Laz. Bojo sees the man entering.

BOJO
Laz. We friends and all but... promise
me you'll keep yo cool in my joint.

Laz turns to see the door shut behind his brother, DEKE WOODS.
He is younger than Laz and a bit smaller. Laz turns to Bojo.

LAZARUS
I'm gonna finish my beer.

Deke slowly approaches Laz at the bar.

DEKE
Mind if I sit?
(no answer)
Rose said... it didn't go too well
this afternoon. See, that's not how
we wanted this to go down. I told
her, I said, Rose, we ain't leavin'
till we make peace with Laz. And
that's God's truth. I laid it down.

LAZARUS
You laid it down.

DEKE
I did.

LAZARUS
Funny. Layin' it down... for my wife.

DEKE
We're not gonna get through this
clean. But it don't need to get dirty.
All this... it just come together
unexpected. You think I want to hurt
you? I... I'd take a bullet for you,
Laz.

The dry look on Laz's face could cool the sun.

LAZARUS
You wanna give that a try?
(to Bojo)
Bo. You still got that .22 behind
the tap? My little brother say he'd
take a bullet for me.
(into Deke's eyes)
You come here to ease your heart.
Well, I ain't gonna give it to you.
You took her into your bed, now you
gotta lie in it.

Laz turns back to the bar. Deke begins to turn but stops.

DEKE
I'll always love you, Laz. Till the
end of my...

In one quick movement, Laz grips Deke by the throat and
smashes the bottom of his bottle into jagged shards.

BOJO
LAZ!

Laz pushes Deke back through the joint and slams him onto
the pool table. He grips Deke's throat and holds the broken
bottle up to his face.

LAZARUS
Cain slew Able. Slew him out of envy.
And God put his mark on Cain for his
sin. You want that mark, Deke? Give
you that peace you come here for?
I'll give it to you, just say that
shit again. Say you love me. Go'on!
Say YOU LOVE ME, NIGGA!

Lazarus slams the bottle down on the pool table, shattering
it. Laz lifts his hand. His own blood leaks from between his
fingers.

He wipes the blood across Deke's face.

LAZARUS
I'm through wit'cha both.

Laz releases Deke and exits. Deke calls after him.

DEKE
What'chu gonna do? Nothin'. YOU AIN'T
GONNA DO NOTHIN'!

Laz slams the door behind him.

CUT TO:

EXT. FISHERVILLE HIGH SCHOOL - FOOTBALL FIELD - NIGHT

The bleachers are packed with three generations of fans and
family cheering their boys on the high school football field.

Rae is sitting with her two girlfriends, JESSE and KELL --
two girls who graduated five years ago.

JESSE
(hands Rae a beer)
Ronnie ship out this mornin'?

RAE
It's so stupid. Says to me that he
don't want nothin' to do with no
military career. Says he wants to
move. Open up an auto shop with his
uncle up in Knoxville. I said, okay.
How about now? Let's go.

KELL
He'd be good for that. Shit, Ronnie
knows cars.

RAE
He get stubborn. Starts talkin' 'bout
obligation and duty and all that...
Shit. I just want him to come home...
I swear, if somethin' happens to
him...

KELL
He fixed up that Buick for my uncle
Dale. He say it purrs like a kitten
every morning.

JESSE
Nothing's gonna happen. Not like
everybody over there is in the line
of fire with them Arabs blowin'
themselves up.

RAE
Can't be thinkin' bout him every
second of my day. I'll go outta my
gourd.

JESSE
Why should you waste your life waitin'
and wonderin'. Not like you're
married.

RAE
(takes a healthy swig)
I begged him not to go. And he did.

KELL
(screaming at the
field)
PUNT YOU FUCKERS!

CUT TO:

EXT. CONNER'S HOUSE - THE KEGGER - NIGHT

Dirty South rap pounds the ears from a hoopty Olds with a
backseat full of bass. Rae, Kell, and Jesse are walking up
to the rowdy party through the variety of parked cars.

A girl rushes past the trio, vomiting on herself as a friend
comes to her aid.

JESSE
These baby chicks just can't hold
their Jello shots. I'm tellin' ya.

CUT TO:

INT. CONNER'S HOUSE - THE KEGGER - NIGHT

CONNER is one of the linebackers for the Fisherville Dusters.
A wasted girl sits on his lap as Kell rolls a joint.

CONNER
Tennessee Vols gotta practice indoors
just so those Florida State sons-a-
bitches don't spy on their plays
with satellites and shit.

KELL
Satellites... You mean in space?

CONNER
Uh-huh.

KELL
Good thing you can block, Conner,
cuz you're dumb as a sack of shit.

Jesse notices Rae coughing. She pulls her aside as Conner
rambles.

JESSE
You wanna go home?

RAE
It gets worse there. Leavin' me to
my own mind. That's just not good.

JESSE
(pours a shot of vodka)
Here. Pound this and I'll join you.

Rae and Jesse take a strong shot. It burns.

JESSE
One more. Fuck the chaser.

As they pound one more, Rae notices Gill, Ronnie's friend,
staring at her from across the room.

JESSE
Better?

RAE
Yeah.

BATSON and MARK approach Jesse and Rae. They are both
sophomores, both skinny and harmless.

BATSON
Hey, Jess.

JESSE
Boys.

BATSON
You robotrippin' tonight?

JESSE
I'm just gonna smoke.

Rae peeks at Gill maneuvering through the room.

BATSON
(rummages in his
pockets)
Got eight packs of DXM. Oxycontin.
Got a shit load of Coricidin if you
want to get out-a-body, n'all.

JESSE
You just trying to get me outta my
clothes.

RAE
Be right back.

Rae pushes through the crowd of drunken kids to get to Gill.

RAE
It's not like I can't go out and
have fun with my friends.

GILL
You think I'm Ronnie's spy or
somethin'? Come tomorrow that dumb-
ass gonna be halfway round the world
tryin' to keep his head on his
shoulders. You think he's gonna be
thinkin' about you?

RAE
You go to hell.

Rae pushes through the crowd, back toward the others.

RAE
(to Batson)
How many to fuck me up?

QUICK CUTS of: Batson popping out five red cough pills. Rae
swallowing all five and chasing them with vodka. Conner's
girl falls off his lap. Kell laughs. The laughter echoes and
grows as we:

CUT TO:

EXT. CONNER'S HOUSE - THE KEGGER - HIS PARENT'S WATERBED -
NIGHT

CLOSE ANGLES: We never quite see the whole of what is implied.
Rae's eyes, Jesse's mouth, a boy's shoulder.

The room is packed with bodies. Rae laughs with pleasure as
her eyes attempt to focus. The kid on top of her finishes
and rolls off.

JESSE
What's so funny?

Jesse is straddling a guy in an arm chair, Chinese-eyed and
bouncing. Rae tries to respond coherently as another football
player rolls her over on all fours and takes her from behind.

RAE
(laughing)
Oh... I'm just on a water bed... And
it's just... so... Goddamn... funny!

A few coughs. Rae focuses to see a younger guy sitting at
her eye level.

RAE
Hi.

BRYAN
Hey.

RAE
You ain't the kicker, are you?

BRYAN
No, ma'am.

RAE
Cuz let me tell you, you boys gotta
run the ball more. You get into a
kicking game, ya'll gonna lose.

BRYAN
Can I put it in your mouth?

RAE
Okay.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - THE BEDROOM - NIGHT

Laz kills the rest of his whiskey. He squeezes his eyes closed
as the liquor burns his throat. He tosses the bottle into a
trash bag he is holding.

Laz continues throwing out all of Rose's make-up and hair
products. With one broad sweep, he cleans off her vanity.

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - NIGHT

Laz opens the front door and tosses the two bags outside.
Stumbling, he kneels next to the coiled radiator against the
wall opposite the door. He talks to it like an old friend.

LAZARUS
Seem like you and me... we drove her
away. That's what we did. Now we...
(singing softly)
Drinkin' muddy water... a'sleep in a
hollow log...

A thought.

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - THE BEDROOM - NIGHT

Laz pulls out a guitar case from under the bed. He wipes a
layer of dust off and opens it.

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT

He gently cradles the guitar in his big hands and sits at
his kitchen table. Tunes the strings. He closes his eyes,
swimming in drunken sorrow.

LAZARUS
You gonna do this?

Laz plays the blues, Mississippi, Bentonian style: one guitar,
one voice, a mess of pain.

LAZARUS
(singing, his eyes
closed)
Just like a bird without a feather,
you know
I'm lost without your love.
Just like a bird without a feather,
you know
I'm lost without your love.
You know I need your love just like
the angels need heaven above.

The music continues as we:

CUT TO:

EXT. CONNER'S HOUSE - THE KEGGER - THE WOODS OUT BACK -
NIGHT

Lazarus's blues is all we hear as four guys chase Rae through
the woods. She is in her shirt and panties, wearing football
shoulder pads.

She is completely wasted. Lost. The ground rocks back and
forth with each step. Trees pass in a slow-motion haze.

LAZARUS
(singing)
Well I sure did shot my baby, but I
did it because she did me wrong.
Well I sure did shot my baby, but I
did it because she did me wrong.
You know the judge called it murder
now the penitentiary is my home.

Rae grips a tree to steady herself, but a team member tackles
her. The woods spin and distort as someone mounts her with
ease.

LAZARUS
(singing)
I loved that woman, she said she
didn't love no one but me.
I loved that woman, she said she
didn't love no one but me.

Rae smiles as she lifts her hand up to the stars, passing
the writhing back of the guy on top of her. If she could
just grab a star she would feel safe again.

She tries to snatch one. She can't. Her hand drops as the
boy stands and takes off after his friends tossing the
football.

Rae lies motionless on the ground.

LAZARUS
(singing)
Yeah but I caught my baby cheating.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT

A tear rolls down Laz's cheek.

LAZARUS
(singing)
Now my home ain't where it used to
be.

His guitar groans its last for the night.

CUT TO:

EXT. CONNER'S HOUSE - THE KEGGER - FRONT YARD - LATER THAT
NIGHT

Rae is wasted. She is still wearing her shirt, panties and
shoulder pads as she steps over passed-out teenagers.

RAE
Jes? Jesse?
(trips over a sprinkler)
Oh shit... Wait... Wait... STOP!

GILL
Stop what?

Rae doesn't look up. The Coricidin is tripping her out.

RAE
(coughing)
The ground is... turnin' upside down.
I'm gonna...
(coughing)
I'm gonna fall off...

Gill reaches down and pulls off the shoulder pads. The
coughing fit passes.

RAE
Oh. That feels so much better.

CUT TO:

EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

Gill's truck flies down the dark road.

INT. GILL'S TRUCK - NIGHT

Rae is looking out the window, drifting in and out.

GILL
Thought you had a skirt earlier.

RAE
I got others.

Gill pulls to the side of the road and kills the engine. He
watches Rae tilt her head from side to side.

GILL
This thing you got... I've heard
people say, you'd fuck a tree if it
was handy. I can see that.
(shakes his head)
But that nigger Tehronne. Thinks
he's some player cuz he hustles dope
and stolen hubcaps. I mean, I can
see a tree. But that piece of shit?

RAE
(lost in hazy sorrow)
I begged him. Don't see why he had
to go...

GILL
I bet you did. Just had to get that
black cock up in you. I swear to
God. What Ronnie sees... you disgust
me.

Gill grabs her legs and spreads them with no resistance. Her
head rolls from side to side on the truck seat as Gill unzips
his pants.

Rae starts giggling.

GILL
The fuck you laughin' at?

RAE
(giggling)
You don't got half what Tehronne
got.

Gill flinches upright. A rage builds in his eyes.

EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

From outside the steamed truck window, we see Gill beat Rae
repeatedly.

Silence.

GILL
(muffled from the
inside)
Get up! I ain't playin'! OPEN YOUR
GODDAMN EYES!

Silence.

He opens the truck door, fear in his eyes. Rae isn't moving.
Blood is on her face.

GILL
Oh, Jesus...

A hasty idea. He pushes her out of the truck. She falls to
the dark pavement in a tangle of her own limbs.

The door slams. Gill floors the gas. Rae lies motionless
alone under the stars.

Her watch alarm goes off: Beep-beep. Beep-beep. Beep-beep.

CUT TO:

INT. A BUS - NIGHT

Ronnie is asleep on the bus, unaware that his watch alarm in
beeping at him.

A Guardsman sitting next to him shakes Ronnie awake.

GUARDSMAN
Hey.

Ronnie silences the alarm. He regards the watch with sadness
and affection.

EXT. FREEWAY - NIGHT

The bus roars past. The red brake lights fade into night.

FADE TO BLACK:

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - KITCHEN - EARLY MORNING

Lazarus has fallen asleep sitting at his kitchen table. His
eyes open. Standing is difficult. The guitar falls to the
floor.

The phone rings. Dizziness hits, but he manages to pick up
the receiver.

LAZARUS
Huh?

INT. CHURCH OF GOD / LAZARUS'S HOME - EARLY MORNING

R.L. is on his cell phone. He is placing hymnals in the back
racks of the church pews.

R.L.
Bojo called. Said you got to see
your brother at the long end of a
broken bottle.

LAZARUS
You gonna preach 'bout turnin' the
other cheek?

R.L.
I think you did alright by God under
the circumstances.
(R.L. pauses)
Your people are here for you, Laz.
This is your home. No shame in showing
your face.

LAZARUS
Don't know if God wanna see me.

R.L.
He knows where ya at. Just answer
the door if he come knockin'.

Laz hangs up the phone.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS'S HOME - LATE MORNING

Lazarus steps out onto his porch. He picks up the trash bags
full of Rose's things and walks down the gravel drive to the
road.

EXT. LAZARUS'S HOME - WHERE THE DRIVE MEETS THE ROAD - LATE
MORNING

Laz tosses the bags inside his trash cans.

He's really hung over this morning. His eyes squeeze shut,
he grips his neck in pain.

LAZARUS
Mmmmmmmmmm... Mm!

His eyes open. They remain fixed beyond us. The pain in his
face is replaced with grave confusion.

Rae lies on the side of the road.

Her T-shirt and panties are damp from the early morning mist,
her face caked with dried blood. Her skin is deathly white,
her mouth open, her eyes shut and swollen.

Lazarus carefully steps toward her. He leans down over her
face.

LAZARUS
Sweet... Jesus...

Rae coughs. Laz flinches.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - LATE MORNING

The door slams against the wall as it swings open. Laz is
carrying Rae, unconscious and limp, in his arms.

He lays her down on the couch by the radiator. He pulls a
quilt over her cold skin. With a twist of the valve the
radiator moans to life.

Laz takes out his bandana and cleans her face. He tries to
wake her.

LAZARUS
Little lady? Miss? You need to open
your eyes for me. Could ya do that?

Her eyes open slightly -- just slits of white.

LAZARUS
There we go. There we go. Just like
you doin'. Go'on.

She whispers as she touches her fingers to his cheek.

RAE
(a raspy inhale)
Teh... Tehronne?

LAZARUS
Tehronne? Tehronne done this?

A labored breath followed by the most pitiful cough fit. Laz
tries to calm her as her lungs fight for oxygen. Laz looks
scared as the coughing stops in a desperate wheeze followed
by silence.

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - KITCHEN - MORNING

Laz pulls the phone off its cradle on the wall and flips
through the phone book.

His fingers scan down the listings and stops on POLICE
DEPARTMENT. He dials and listens.

OPERATOR
(a recorded voice)
You've reached the Fisherville Police
Department. Your call will be answered
in the order it was received. If
this is an emergency, please, hang
up and dial 9-1-...

Slam! Fingers hit the phone cradle. Lazarus dials 911.

As soon as he places the phone to his ear, he looks over at
Rae sprawled out on his couch. Her bare legs can be seen
peeking out from under the quilt.

Fear hits him. He slams the phone down again.

Laz crosses to the couch and gently touches her head.

LAZARUS
(softly)
I'm'a go into town. Get you some
medicine to fix you up. You just
rest, okay, gal? You just sleep. Get
that chill out'cha.

Laz touches the radiator. It burns him.

LAZARUS
God... damn...

EXT. ROAD - AFTERNOON

Laz's Ford roars down the shaded street towards town.

CUT TO:

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - MACON DRUGS - AFTERNOON

Laz parks his truck in front of MACON DRUGS and heads inside.

An old black man named RED sits on a bench next to an older
white man in his early eighties holding a cane. RED is the
paid caretaker of MELVIN.

MELVIN
How's the squash this year?

LAZARUS
It's good, Mister Melvin. I'll bring
ya some.

Laz rushes inside.

INT. MACON DRUGS - AFTERNOON

The variety of cough medicine confuses Laz as he examines
them.

ANGELA approaches Laz. She is dressed in a floral print dress
with a white lab coat. Angela has a few extra pounds on her
but she wears it well with her caring face and sweet manner.

ANGELA
Lazarus?

LAZARUS
(startled)
Oh! Gave me a start.

ANGELA
I'm sorry. It's these soft shoes I
wear for my back.

LAZARUS
You hurt it?

ANGELA
I'm standing most of my day. They're
for support.
(a smile)
Didn't see you in church this mornin'.

LAZARUS
(tries to lie)
Been on the crop. May need to get
some extra hands if I don't want to
work on Sundays.

ANGELA
Well. It's good to see you.

Angela wants the conversation to continue but Laz remains
silent. She smiles awkwardly.

LAZARUS
Angela?

ANGELA
Yes?

LAZARUS
I need to uh...

ANGELA
Go on, Laz. You can talk to me.

LAZARUS
My little niece... she got this deep
cough.

ANGELA
You take her to a doctor?

LAZARUS
(struggles to lie)
No. No, she can't go. Mean to say...
they's just no money fo'a doctor.
Her daddy left for a job, and uh...
give her to me to look on. I just...
(a pitiful pause)
I don't know what to do.

Angela thinks for a moment.

ANGELA
You wait right here.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - DAY

Snot and spittle has run down the side of Rae's face -- her
eyelids stick together as she tries to open them.

There is a creak, followed by another. Rae has become aware
that someone is slowly walking up the front porch.

The door opens. Silhouetted in the day's blinding light is a
white man in his 40's. His face is indistinguishable to Rae's
affected gaze.

Is this a dream?

He stands above her and lights a cigarette. The Zippo lighter
clasps shut. The man lowers it to his side where Rae can see
it clearly. A bald eagle is printed on the side, a sight
that makes Rae's eyes open wide in horror.

Her breath grows deeper -- a girlish plea. This is no dream --
it's a nightmare.

RAE
Mm-mm... Mm-mm...

A massive hand slaps down over her mouth. Her crusted eyes
peer above the hairy knuckles. He sucks on the cigarette. A
red cherry blazes at the end. The man pushes the blanket off
of her and grips her panties.

Rae's eyes close. She knows what is next. In his clenched
fist, the panties are ripped off.

RAE
NOOOOO!

Rae flinches awake from the fever-induced nightmare and falls
to the wooden floor, drenched in sweat. Weakened and shaking,
she scampers away, finally collapsing in the kitchen. Her
hand reaches out and lands on the strings of Laz's guitar on
the floor. She grips the steel strings with her trembling
fingers.

A single bass note twangs as she passes out.

CUT TO:

INT. MACON DRUGS - AFTERNOON

Angela stands between the aisles, motioning Laz to approach,
away from the girl at the counter.

ANGELA
Is your niece older than 12?

LAZARUS
Oh, she older than that.

She hands him a white box with cough syrup inside.

ANGELA
My sister got a bad cough with her
pneumonia. I just copied her
prescription. You don't need to pay
anything... just take it. But if she
gets worse, you give me a call. I
wrote my number on the box.

LAZARUS
This gonna get you in trouble?

ANGELA
Not if no one finds out.

Laz doesn't know what to say. He puts the box in his pocket.

LAZARUS
Thank you.
(suddenly awkward)
Oh. My wife. She had a card here for
her migraine pills. She ain't gonna
be around no more... So if you...

ANGELA
I already tossed that out.
(takes a step closer)
Somethin' you should'a done to that
woman long ago... how she treated
you. Of course, that's none of my
business.

LAZARUS
(smiles)
Don't make it less true.

Angela returns the smile.

EXT. MACON DRUGS - AFTERNOON

Laz opens his truck door and stops. At the pool-hall across
the square, Laz sees a green Cutlass with chrome rims.

CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALL - AFTERNOON

Laz enters the empty pool hall. Tehronne is playing a game
with a skinny playa-wanna-be dressed in flea-market Fubu.

CHARLIE, the owner, approaches Laz from the bar.

CHARLIE
Hey, Lazarus. We closed up on Sunday.

LAZARUS
Need a word with Tehronne.

CHARLIE
(calling to the back)
Yo, T! Laz wanna holla at cha.

TEHRONNE
Come on back, Cuz.

Charlie nods Laz on. He crosses to the back pool table as
Tehronne sinks the 8. Tehronne looks at his friend.

TEHRONNE
Do you call it a game when only one
man win each time? I think you call
it a damn shame.

LAZARUS
Word wit'cha. In private.

Tehronne hands his friend the pool cue. The two take a few
steps away to talk.

TEHRONNE
You need some weed?

LAZARUS
Been years since I fooled with that.
(tries to find the
words)
You know a white girl? Dirty blond
hair, split down the middle like?

TEHRONNE
(smiles)
That ain't up to me to hook you up.
Naw what I mean? She her own, you
know?

LAZARUS
Huh?

TEHRONNE
I don't pimp that.
(silence)
You talkin' about who I think you
talkin' about, you mean Rae. Rae
Doole. Sexy little split tail, like
you say. I can't hook you up with
that. I got two girls. One ain't in
town, the other one pregnant. So...
you on your own.

LAZARUS
This Rae... you get with her?

TEHRONNE
Shit. Who hasn't?

LAZARUS
Why you say that?

TEHRONNE
She got a spare minute she'll snatch
up anyone... but me, I'm different.
Sometimes she need the real deal, so
she call me up. Girl got an itch.
You know... what's a nigga to do?

LAZARUS
She like it rough? You like beatin'
on her?

TEHRONNE
That ain't my scene. If that's
somethin' you into...

LAZARUS
Now, hold up.

TEHRONNE
See, that girl is in my favor. You
heard me, nigga? You fuck with her
rough, and you got me to fuck wit.

LAZARUS
You collar that dog, boy. I ain't
gonna hurt nobody. Just wanted to
know who she was.

TEHRONNE
Like I say, you wanna hook that up...
I ain't in ya way. That switch of
hers been all over this town. Got
that sickness, you know.

LAZARUS
What'chu sayin'?

TEHRONNE
She a freak. Got what you call a
sexual addiction.

Lazarus looks at him with a furrowed brow. Confused.

LAZARUS
What'chu sayin'?

TEHRONNE
What I'm tellin' you. Girl gotta get
dick or she go crazy.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - DAY

Laz opens his own door with caution. He turns to see Rae
sprawled in his kitchen in her panties and T-shirt. He rushes
to her side.

LAZARUS
Gal? Miss Rae? Rae, you hear me?

Lazarus lifts her sweaty body off the floor and moves her
back to the couch.

Consciousness briefly returns to Rae in her feverish haze.

FLASH TO:

CLOSE UP - FLASHBACK

The white-knuckled hand clutched around her mouth.

FLASH BACK TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - DAY

Rae flinches and flails. She falls to the floor.

LAZARUS
Hold on, now. Hold on!

Rae's eyes are open and filled with fear. She struggles to
flee as Laz holds her in place, trying to reassure her.

LAZARUS
Now, I ain't gonna hurt'cha. Calm
down, Miss.
(she fights, coughs)
Listen... Listen... LISTEN NOW, GAL!
(Rae settles in his
grip)
I ain't gonna hurt ya, hear? Gotta
get you well. Now, look me... HEY!
Look me in the eye.

Rae is too weak to talk or move. Laz clutches her small face
in his dark hands.

LAZARUS
Open your eyes. Go'on, now. You need
to see, ain't no harm here. Ain't no
harm.
(Rae calms)
My name is Lazarus Woods. And I ain't
gonna let you die.

Rae's eyes roll back.

Lazarus looks terrified as she cranes her head back and
forward. Her mouth opens.

In her sickened state, with the force of something evil and
deep inside, Rae clasps her open mouth over Laz's. A shriek
sounds in his brain as he holds her tighter, allowing the
kiss to grow in intensity. Rae falls to her stomach as Laz
abruptly stands and stumbles across the room. What he sees
chills him to the bone.

Rae is writhing on the floor as if she is possessed -- a
rant of raspy words pour from her mouth.

RAE
...you don't... touch me... s'no...
NO! Mm-mm... Mm-MMMMMMMMMMMMM! N-
N'you FUCK!

Lazarus gets spooked by what he is seeing. He looks to the
mantle. His weathered Bible lies in a coat of dust. He picks
it up as a wave of the burning hits Rae.

She clutches her breast and crotch, rolling from side to
side.

RAE
Mm-mm... mm-mm... Ma-muh... Ma-MUH!
(sudden anger, shouting)
See... S... See if'I GIVE... GIVE'A...
SHIT...

FLASH TO:

INT. DUNN'S CAFE - MORNING - FLASHBACK

Rose is shouting at the customers in the cafe. Her eyes are
white like Rae's. Her voice is not her own but that of Rae.

ROSE/RAE
(screaming)
'BOUT ANY OF YOU PEOPLE!

FLASH BACK TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - DAY

Laz runs out of his own home, not even shutting the door
behind him. He gets half way down his drive, the Bible still
clutched in his hand. He stops.

In a panic, Laz opens his Bible, places it down on the drive,
face up, creating a barrier to evil. He hears a choking cough
inside the house. Rae is fighting for breath beyond the dark
door.

Silence. Laz reaches down and picks up his Bible.

A passage catches his eye. As he reads, the fear vanishes
from his face. His back straightens. His jaw tightens. He
looks back at his house, his faith is renewed.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - THE BATHROOM - DAY

The Bible is slammed down on top of the toilet tank. The
bathtub faucet coughs as Laz twists the cold water knob.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - DAY

The freezer door opens. He snatches four trays of ice.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BATHROOM - DAY

The trays crack. The ice cubes bounce into the tub.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - DAY

Rae's lips are dried and split as she pants, lost in dizzying
fever. Laz lifts her.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BATHROOM - DAY

Laz kneels on one knee to put her into the tub.

A horrible cry from Rae as Laz wrestles with her, keeping
her submerged in the ice cold water.

LAZARUS
I know, child, I know. Gotta break
that fever now.
(Rae sobs, struggles)
Don't mean to hurt'chu. But I ain't
lettin' you die.
(holding her down)
I AIN'T LETTIN' YOU DIE!

Rae is motionless. Exhausted. Her eyes are open but blind.
Her lip trembles. Her body shakes from the freezing water.

Laz rubs the hair from her face gently. He reaches over to
the Bible on the toilet and opens it to read.

LAZARUS
Put fear of the Devil in me, gal.
Got me spooked like I's a kid, I
tell you.
(flips through the
pages)
But the good Lord, He showed me what
to do. He come knockin' like my man
R.L. say... listen here...
(Rae sobs like a child)
This here Matthew. He talkin' on how
Jesus was healin' the sick. And a
man come up to the disciples and he
say...
(reads deliberately)
Have mercy on my son, for he is a
lunatic, and sore vexed...
(to Rae)
He got the devil in his mind and
sores on his skin.
(reads)
And he brought the boy to the
disciples, but they could NOT cure
him.

Rae's shivering is abating. Her eyes fight to stay open. Laz
touches her forehead to test her temperature.

LAZARUS
(reading)
Then Jesus answered and said, O
faithless and perverse generation...
how long shall I suffer you? Bring
the boy hither to me. And Jesus
rebuked the devil.
(to Rae)
You hear that?
(reads)
Then the disciples say... Why could
not we cast the devil out? And Jesus
said unto them...

Rae's eyes begin to close. Laz gently touches her head to
rile her awake.

LAZARUS
Listen now... This what he sayin' to
us. He say...
(reads)
If ye have faith... if ye have faith
as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall
say unto a mountain, remove hence...
and it... shall... move. And
nothin'... nothin' shall be impossible
to you.
(to Rae)
You hear that? You just need a bit
of faith. You just gotta believe you
gonna get well, like I do.

He touches her forehead again. Her eyes close.

LAZARUS
That's better. You coolin' down.
Okay. You rest. Okay. You rest.

Laz leans against the wall, spent.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - SUNSET

The cicadas sing in a rising chorus as the clouds above fade
from copper to crimson.

FADE TO BLACK.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

The faint echo of Rae's fevered panting.

She lies on the couch wrapped in a quilt, shivering. Her
eyes remain closed, her face drenched with sweat. Laz has
cleaned her facial wounds, using a few Band-Aids.

BOOM!

An explosion ignites the windows surrounding the cabin. Rae
jolts awake, terror pervades her as she gasps at the fire
ball outside the window.

She struggles to her feet and listens. A faint sound can be
heard through the roar of the flames. beep beep... beep
beep... beep beep... beep beep...

RAE
(a whisper)
Ronnie...

Rae stumbles to the door, weak and dizzy. She grips the door
knob and pulls the door open.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

Rae races outside, tripping down the front porch steps. She
looks off at the blaze in the squash field. She frantically
races toward the fire, the beeping increases.

RAE
Ronnie... RONNIE!

BEEP BEEP... BEEP BEEP... BEEP BEEP... BEEP BEEP...

At the center of the blaze is an upside down Humvee. To the
left of the vehicle, a few soldier's bodies lay scattered.
Rae's legs lose all strength, she collapses and crawls across
the squash plants.

A far away voice is heard over the roaring flames.

LAZARUS
Gal? Gal?

Rae crawls across a fallen soldier, following the sound of
Ronnie's alarm. She struggles to breathe, she almost faints.

She finds a soldier face down. With all her strength she
turns him over. It is Ronnie, wide-eyed and lifeless.

An awful groan comes out of Rae -- crippling sorrow. She
pulls on his vest trying to wake him.

RAE
(sobbing)
Nn-nn... Nn-nn... no... N'RONNIE!

LAZARUS
GAL! YOU HEARIN' MY VOICE?

Rae looks up. The flaming humvee is gone. She is not pulling
on Ronnie's vest, but the tangled vines of a squash plant.

Laz stands at a safe distance, silhouetted in moonlight.

LAZARUS
You travelin' right now, gal. You
asleep and you don't even know it.
(extends his hand)
Now... come on inside with me.

Rae looks like a terrified child. Her eyes well with tears
as she shakes her head. Laz takes a step toward her.

RAE
Mm-mm... Mm-mm...

LAZARUS
Come on, gal...

She turns and runs away as best she can. Laz chases after
her. He's much older than her and a bit slower, but her
balance betrays her.

Laz wraps his arms around her. Rae screams to the sky.

RAE
NO! NOOO! NOOOOOOOOOO!

And then, stillness. Rae lies limp in Laz's arms, unconscious.

He reaches down and lifts her wrist to his face. The green
screen of the digital watch pulsates with the alarm.

He pushes the side button. The beeping stops. Silence.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT

Laz lays Rae back onto his couch. Her eyes open into slits.
She can see Laz's form over her like the man in her nightmare.

Rae grabs Laz's wrist. He flinches with her force.

RAE
(the whisper of a
child)
Is'okay... Is'okay...

Struggling with exhaustion, Rae moves Laz's hand to her bare
stomach. She rubs it slowly up and down her form,
suggestively.

Laz slips his hand away and claps it tight over her eyes.
Rae holds her breath, waiting to be molested, her lip
quivering.

LAZARUS
(singing deep and
soft)
Goin' over that hill. Goin' over
that hill. Well, I ain't gonna stop
until I reach my God's top. I'm goin'
over the hill. Well I went to the
valley, I didn't go to stay. Soul
got happy, I stayed all day. I'm
goin' over that hill.

Rae relaxes and falls into a deep sleep.

Laz backs away from her, a touch of fear in his heart. The
voice of Tehronne is heard from earlier in the day.

TEHRONNE (V.O.)
She a freak. Got what you call a
sexual addiction.

LAZARUS (V.O.)
What'chu sayin'?

TEHRONNE (V.O.)
What I'm tellin' you. Girl gotta get
dick or she go crazy.

FLASH TO:

INT. POOL HALL - EARLIER THAT DAY - FLASHBACK

Lazarus looks at Tehronne with a furrowed brow, confused.

TEHRONNE
First hooked up with that bitch when
she was 16. Girl was fuckin' the
principal and two of her teachers.
You know coach Reynolds?

LAZARUS
Uh-huh.

TEHRONNE
He tapped that.

LAZARUS
Naw!

TEHRONNE
Go ask him.

FLASH BACK TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S BARN - NIGHT

Lazarus opens his barn, slicing through the darkness with
his flashlight.

TEHRONNE (V.O.)
She been bumpin' around all her life,
hookin' up with whoever keep her fed
and fucked.

He crosses to the other side, pulls on a beaded chain turning
on the single bulb above his work table.

TEHRONNE (V.O.)
I seen her give it up on park benches,
back of trucks, hoopty hoods, you
name it.

Laz opens an old wooden box on his work table. He looks
inside.

FLASH TO:

INT. POOL HALL - MORNING - FLASHBACK

Laz looks ill. Tehronne checks his pager briefly.

TEHRONNE
You ever seen a train run on a woman?

LAZARUS
Nuh-uh.

TEHRONNE
Meanin' like a team of fellas go to
work on her and she don't even break
a sweat.
(puts his pager away)
She into football, you know. You got
a letter on your jacket you get that
pussy in ya lap. I ain't playin'.

Tehronne's friend breaks on the pool table with a sharp crack.
Lazarus is genuinely disturbed.

LAZARUS
How a girl get like that?

TEHRONNE
Like I told you.

FLASH BACK TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S BARN - NIGHT

Lazarus reaches inside the box and pulls out the end of an
old chain.

TEHRONNE (V.O.)
Girl got a sickness.

The chain rattles as Laz walks backwards, pulling the long
chain from the box. The shouting of his brother can be heard.

DEKE (V.O.)
What'chu gonna do? Huh? Nothin'. YOU
AIN'T GONNA DO NOTHIN'! NOTHIN'!

The end of the chain snags, yanking the box over.

CRASH!

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE VEGETABLE GARDEN - LATE MORNING

Lazarus is bent over, harvesting his tomatoes.

LAZARUS
(singing to himself)
Tell me who's that writin'? John the
Revelator. Wrote the book of the
seven seals.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

Laz enters his home. He crosses to the kitchen and pours
himself a glass of water.

Dripping with sweat, he steps back into the room, downing
the last of his water. He lowers the glass, noticing Rae
looking at him.

LAZARUS
Hey.

Rae lifts her head off the pillow. Laz comes to her side and
helps her sit up.

LAZARUS
Take it easy now. Don't rush it.

RAE
(a scratchy whisper)
How long... how long I been out?

LAZARUS
You been in and out goin' on two...
maybe two days.

RAE
(can't believe it)
Two days?

LAZARUS
After your fever broke, you'd wake
up in spells... long enough to get
that medicine in ya.

Rae sits up on the couch, the quilt wrapped around her waist.
She looks at the cough syrup bottle on the side table.

LAZARUS
Found you on the side of the road.
Someone took to beatin' on you pretty
bad. You know who done that to you?

Rae touches the cut over her eye. That evening is still a
blur.

RAE
Where's Ronnie?

LAZARUS
Well I don't...

RAE
(remembering)
Wait. He left.

Rae lifts her head, revealing tears in her eyes. She gets
mad at herself and wipes them away.

RAE
I don't got any money... for fixin'
me up and all.

LAZARUS
Don't need none.

RAE
Then I better be on my way. Don't
wanna put you out no more.

LAZARUS
Think it'd be best if you stayed put
while we talk.

RAE
Naw'sir... I gotta be on my way.

LAZARUS
Best try gettin' ya wits about you
'fore you try to...

Rae struggles for balance as she attempts to stand. The quilt
falls away as a heavy chain slides off the couch and thuds
on the floor by her feet.

Rae feels a tug.

She looks down to see a dark chain locked around her thin
waist and coiled on the floor. The opposite end is locked
around the side coil of the radiator.

She is chained to the house, a prisoner.

LAZARUS
Let me say somethin' first...

RAE
Why you got me chained?

LAZARUS
Way I see it, it's gonna take a while
for you to get right.

RAE
The fuck you been doin' to me?

LAZARUS
I ain't laid a hand on ya but to
ease yo fever... Remember like I
say, I found you in the road...

RAE
(yanks at the chain
around her waist)
Get this Goddamn thing off me!

Rae stumbles as she moves away from Laz. Laz tries to reassure
her.

LAZARUS
Now, no harm's come to you... and I
aim to keep it that way. Ain't
gonna... gonna run a train over ya...
or however you call it... see... you
was runnin' wild on me... these fever
dreams you was havin'... these fits.
I'd be chasin' you all night.

RAE
Well I'm woke now... you can take
this off.

Rae waits.

LAZARUS
Gal, you ain't right yet.

RAE
I'm right enough to stand on my own
two feet. Now take this Goddamn chain
off...

LAZARUS
How you let men treat ya like they
do?

RAE
What?

LAZARUS
These men you up under. How you let
them do ya like that?

RAE
(grips the chain)
Do me? Do me like this, you mean?
Like chainin' me up?

LAZARUS
You know what I'm talkin' about.
(beat)
All that mess with ya teachers and...
boys in the backs of trucks.

RAE
(shocked)
The hell you know about me?! You got
no right to talk to me about that
shit! The hell you think you are?

LAZARUS
(interrupting)
I've saved ya life, gal. I can do
and say whatever the fuck I want.

Rae begins to feel a pang of panic. She goes to the chain
locked around the radiator. She yanks on it a few times.

LAZARUS
I give ya enough chain so's you can
get about the house. Get you to the
kitchen. You need the bathroom, it'll
reach.

RAE
What do you want?

LAZARUS
We got everything we need. Plenty of
food. Ya medicine still got a few
good swallows in it...

RAE
WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!
(Laz can't answer)
WHATEVER YOU GONNA DO TO ME, JUST DO
IT! AND LET ME GO!

LAZARUS
God saw to it to put you in my path.
And I aim to cure ya of your
wickedness.

This statement terrifies Rae. The fear can be seen in her
eyes. She backs away -- the chain scrapes across the floor.

RAE
You some kind'a pervert?

LAZARUS
No ma'am.

RAE
Some crazy Jesus freak, gonna fuck
the spirit into me...

LAZARUS
In my house, you watch that lip...

RAE
(furious, near tears)
Look it, mister... you wanna have
your way, you take it. I'll do
whatever you want. But you gotta let
me go. You can't do this! You can't
KEEP ME HERE!

LAZARUS
You sick. You got a sickness... we
broke that fever... we gonna break
that hold the devil got on ya.

Rae pushes Laz back and bolts for the door. Laz falls back
against the side table by the couch, toppling the lamp.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME / INT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

The door slams against the house as Rae rushes out in her
wolf shirt and panties -- the chain trailing behind her.

RAE
(screaming)
HELP!

Laz watches as the coil unravels and snaps taut, yanking on
the old radiator.

Clank! The chain whips Rae down to the ground. Laz watches
as dust flies of the radiator with each tug.

RAE
SOMEBODY!

CLANK!

The fear in Laz's face is replaced with a grin as he watches
his radiator hold firm.

RAE
SOMEBODY HELP ME!

Outside, Rae bucks and screams, yanking on the chain like a
wild mustang. Her bare feet and legs are soiled with fresh
mud and grass as she claws at the ground.

Laz crosses to the radiator and pats it like a proud parent --
his wedding ring clicks against the iron.

LAZARUS
(to the radiator)
Ain't gonna be moved.

He steps outside with resolve and strength. He picks up the
chain and wraps it around his fist.

LAZARUS
GAL! I ain't gonna be moved on this!

Laz yanks her back, dragging her towards him. He grips the
taut chain with his other hand and yanks her closer.

RAE
LET ME GO!

LAZARUS
You can holla y'self hoarse. Ain't
gonna bend my will.
(pulls her closer)
Right or wrong, you gonna mind me.
(Pulls her again)
Gonna suffer you like Jesus say, to
the FAITHLESS and the PERVERSE
GENERATION.

Rae is spent. She turns to look at her captor as he wrangles
her back to the porch.

LAZARUS
Now you get up! And you get in my
house!

RAE
Or what?

Rae spits at Laz. Bad idea.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - LATER THAT AFTERNOON

Rae is screaming and grunting as Laz, standing in his kitchen,
tugs on the chain around the door-jam like he's drawing water
from a well.

Outside Rae struggles to hold onto the porch post. Laz pulls
hard, lifting her lower torso off the ground.

RAE
Stop it! Stop it! IT HURTS!

LAZARUS
Whose doin' is that?

Laz yanks. Rae loses her grip and slams onto the porch.

RAE
Okay... OKAY! I'M COMIN' IN! NOW
QUIT IT!

The pulling stops. Rae picks herself up. Her knees and hands
are scraped and bleeding. The two stare at each other.

LAZARUS
Say we talk. Just take a seat on the
sofa. I'll get us somethin' cool to
drink.

Laz crosses to the kitchen. Rae sits down on the couch,
noticing the fallen lamp on the floor.

LAZARUS
You may not remember. But you spent
a whole half day in my tub, tryin'
to cool down. Melted four ice trays.

He finishes preparing the two waters. He crosses into the
front room. Rae is not there.

CRASH! Rae smashes the lamp on Laz's head. The water glasses
shatter as Laz falls to the floor.

Rae picks up a wooden chair and breaks it over his back.
Before she can do any more damage, Laz grabs her by the wrists
and throws her to the couch.

Rae falls to the floor. Laz stumbles on his feet as he
clutches his bleeding head. He loses his cool.

LAZARUS
Wicked little bitch... gonna cut
me...

RAE
You gonna get a lot more a'that, you
keep me locked up like this!

Rae freezes as she sees Laz undo his belt buckle. Her breath
starts to quiver as she deeply inhales and exhales.

LAZARUS
Think I'm gonna let you do me like
that...

Laz whips his belt off and wraps the buckle around his fist.

He stops in his tracks. Rae is panting and shaking. Her middle
finger is scratching at her own thigh.

LAZARUS
(regaining his cool)
Okay, now... I ain't gonna hit'cha.
(the burning is
starting)
Just lost my cool there.
(he throws the belt
away)
Now take that look out'cha eye.

Her anguished hum can be heard through her clenched teeth as
she rocks back and forth. Her hands wander down to her inner
thighs.

LAZARUS
No, ma'am. You stop that foolishness.

RAE
(shaking her head)
Hm-mm... Hm-mm...

LAZARUS
I said... STOP!

RAE
(on the verge of crying)
I CAN'T!

Rae gets dizzy. She rests the top of her head on the floor
and sways back and forth. Laz rushes out the front door.

As the wave hits, Rae twists and turns, wrapping the chain
around her. She grips the radiator with both hands and rests
her face against the side.

RAE
Hmmmmmm... Stop-it!... STOP-IT!

The wave is about to build in to a powerful climax. Rae gasps
for breath.

The door slams open. Laz drenches her with a gallon of cold
well water from a tin bucket. Rae inhales and freezes. Laz
waits and watches.

The burning is gone.

Laz kneels next to her and gently frees her bare ankle from
the tangled chain.

LAZARUS
You hungry?

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - ON THE PORCH - LATER THAT DAY

They are both seated on the front porch with paper plates in
their laps. Laz watches with amusement as Rae tears into her
chicken and gobbles up the vegetables.

LAZARUS
I put some back ache into growin'
them greens. You should slow down
and see how they taste.

Rae remains under Lazarus' intense gaze as the cicadas sing.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE VEGETABLE GARDEN - SUNSET

Rae stares off at orange clouds and purple sky. She takes a
step to her left, walking through the parallel rows of squash.

The chain gently rattles behind her. Laz has given her about
20 feet of slack. He holds the chain tight around his fist.

Rae grins, standing proud in her wolf shirt and panties.

RAE
You like this? Walkin' me through
this field like I's your mule?

LAZARUS
Can't sit all day on that sofa. Need
to get your legs strong.

RAE
(sassy)
If I break one you gonna shoot me?

Rae teases Laz by adjusting her panties. She turns back to
the sunset and stretches.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

Rae's smoldering eyes don't leave Laz as he chains her to
the radiator. Laz nervously preaches, trying to avoid the
sight of her bare legs curled up on his couch.

LAZARUS
My Daddy was one of the first mens
to organize soil conservation in
these parts. That's a group of
farmers, you know, each season they'd
rotate the crop. Know why it's best
to rotate em like that?

RAE
Uh-uh.

Laz moves in close and starts applying antibacterial cream
to the cut above Rae's eye.

LAZARUS
Cuz once in a while soil need a
change. Corn take up a lot of nitrate
in the fertilizer. So next crop what
ya do is plant ya some soy beans.
That give off a lot of nitrate. Change
keeps it all growin' and growin'
strong.
(regarding the eye)
Sting a bit?

RAE
Itches.

LAZARUS
Means ya healin'.
(a nod)
So all this farmin' make me think on
Matthew. Matthew 13. The parable of
the sower? Man toss seed on rock, on
the wayside, some fell in thorns...
you know the story?

RAE
Uh-uh.

Laz starts putting the cream on her scabbed knees. He rubs
them gently.

LAZARUS
The seed that land on good soil is
for them who hear the word of God...
and understand the word of God. Not
enough for you to hear what I'm
sayin', you gotta understand.

RAE
I know. I get it. What's Matthew
doin'?

LAZARUS
Gal... Matthew ain't doin' shit...
this just a story...
(quelling his
frustration)
Look it. I've seen it in nature,
I've seen it in men. Ya got to change
up your crop. Cuz that seed ain't
gettin' in.
(Rae remains silent)
Ya gotta cut this shit out. Got no
cause to be up under these fools,
ruttin' on ya like you a bitch. Like
you somebody's dog. No woman... who
joins in union with Almighty God...
or man... in the sanctity of
marriage... should degrade herself...
and bend to ANOTHER MAN'S WILL!

Rae is aware that Laz is somewhere else, talking to someone
else other than her. There is anger in his tone as he rubs
ointment on her bare, scabbed knees.

LAZARUS
(shouting)
My God, gal, don't you got no SENSE?
I ain't sayin' I ain't weak? Shit.
Playin' guitar in the blood-bucket
jukes all ya life... a nigga learn
how to sin, let me tell you!
(grips her by the
legs)
I GOT SIN IN ME! I AIN'T GO'N LIE!
BUT I GOT RESPECT! AND ALL YOU GOT
IS BILE, GAL!

RAE
Let go of me...

LAZARUS
GIVIN' UP THAT SWITCH LIKE A TRAMP!
BEHIND MY BACK AND KILL MY BABY...!

Rae yanks free of Laz's grip, recoiling on the couch.

RAE
GET OFF ME!

Laz awakens from his rant. He blinks and stands. A sudden
shame overtakes him. He crosses into the kitchen to hide by
the sink.

He pours Rae a glass of water and returns to her side.

LAZARUS
(offering her the
glass)
Didn't mean to go off on a tear like
I did. I just got to thinkin' about
things...

Rae leans up into his face. The glass of water is touching
her chest. Laz remains hypnotized by her eyes.

RAE
Why is it you old men gotta talk so
much? Like little boys, gotta talk
yourself into fuckin' me.
(his knuckles touch
her skin)
We can take our time. I'm grown. I
get it.
(she leans even closer)
You wanna give me 'nother bath?

Laz stands and backs away. He quickly leaves the room.

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - THE BEDROOM - NIGHT

Laz looks at himself in the reflection of Rose's vanity
mirror, listening to Rae stir in the next room.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

The cicadas are screaming outside. Rae is beginning to breathe
deep, the burning is coming on.

RAE
(under her breath)
Goddammit.

She folds her arms over her chest, her middle finger
scratching her elbow. The anxiety is too much. She rolls
over until the chain pulls taut against the radiator.

Rae has wrapped herself in a tangle of chain. Her breathing
relaxes. Her eyes close. She sleeps.

FADE TO BLACK.

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - EARLY DAWN

A train rumbles past in the blue hue of dawn.

Laz pulls his truck next to two other fruit and vegetable
vendors: ARCHIE and GENE.

Archie is an old black man in his early seventies. Gene is a
short white man closer to Laz's age.

GENE
There goes our fortune. We been doin'
good for ourselves since you been
away.

Laz sets up his folding table and uncovers his produce.

LAZARUS
Y'all know when Ella Mae's open up?

ARCHIE
You needin' to buy some pantyhose?

LAZARUS
Just some dresses.

Gene looks at Archie and shrugs.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - MORNING

Rae snaps awake. She is wet with sweat from the morning heat.

RAE
Hello? Hey!

Rae drags the chain behind her as she crosses to the front
door and looks outside. No truck.

RAE
I don't believe this shit.

She folds her arms and looks into the kitchen. There on the
table is a covered plate and a small bottle of milk. Rae
reads a note on top of the plate: BE BACK FOR SUPPER.

She pulls off the top plate and finds sausage links, eggs,
biscuits, sliced tomatoes, and sliced peaches.

RAE
Enough to choke a Goddamn horse.

She yanks her chain. It rattles across the floor as she sits.

CUT TO:

INT. ELLA MAE'S WOMEN'S CLOTHING - EARLY AFTERNOON

Laz looks out of place in his faded overalls surrounded by
bright colors of Ella Mae's dress shop.

ELLA MAE is a wide woman with white hair in her late fifties.

LAZARUS
I'm needin' some women's clothes. A
few dresses. Maybe some shoes. But
they gotta be nice. They gotta be
proper. Clothes a woman would want,
where she could feel and look like a
woman without... you know, lookin'
like a tramp or a hussy or somethin'.

Ella Mae turns to her assistant, Rhonda. Rhonda is a 19-year-
old black girl. She turns back to Laz, unsure how to proceed.

ELLA MAE
And, sir... do you have a size in
mind for what you're lookin' for?

LAZARUS
(points to Rhonda)
That young lady's size, right'cher.

ELLA MAE
Well, that makes it easier.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BATHROOM - AFTERNOON

Rae sits down in the tub, still wearing her T-shirt and
panties. Looking up at the shower head above she turns on
the cold water and yanks up on the shower knob.

Cold water sprays down over her. She gasps and then relaxes,
laying back in the tub.

CUT TO:

INT. ELLA MAE'S WOMEN'S CLOTHING - AFTERNOON

Laz is at the counter. Rhonda is putting the shoes and clothes
in two shopping bags while Ella Mae rings him up.

ELLA MAE
Well... I hope these will work for
your niece. She can always come back
in and swap sizes.

Lazarus points to a small display of fine lotions.

LAZARUS
Mind I ask, what's all this business
here?

ELLA MAE
These are whipped body creams. It's
like a lotion.

LAZARUS
For your hands?

ELLA MAE
Some women prefer not to scent their
bodies with perfume. So now they
have scented creams. They help
moisturize a woman's skin.
(unscrewing a jar)
This one's my favorite. It's called
Ginger Souffle. I recommend...
applying the cream while the skin is
still damp. So... perhaps just after
a shower.

LAZARUS
(likes what he smells)
I'll take a jar of that, too.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - AFTERNOON

Rae rattles into the kitchen, her damp clothes clinging to
her form. She picks up Laz's guitar off the table and places
it in her lap.

She plucks a few random strings out of boredom and smiles.

CUT TO:

INT. MACON DRUGS - AFTERNOON

The same apathetic girl is working the front counter as Laz
enters the drug store with a basket of arranged vegetables.

LAZARUS
Lookin' for Miss Angela.

GIRL
She in the back.

Laz makes his way to the back of the store. He spies Angela
in the back pharmacy, sorting pills for a pick-up. He watches
her work for a moment until, finally, she sees him.

ANGELA
Wait right there.

Laz waits as Angela rounds the corner.

LAZARUS
I brung you a little basket of
goodies. Fresh squash, tomatoes,
some okra, butter beans.

ANGELA
(taking the basket)
You didn't have to do this.

LAZARUS
Just wanted to say how much I
appreciate you helping me the other
day. My niece, she's cured up, and I
got you to thank.

ANGELA
Well that's good. I'm happy to hear
it.

Angela smiles. There is tension and attraction between the
two.

LAZARUS
Look here. I got somethin' special
for you.

Angela is flush as Laz moves closer than he has ever been
before. He reaches in the basket for the jar of cream.

LAZARUS
This here is a whipped... body cream.
And it's got a smell to it. Tell me
what you think.

Laz holds the jar up to her nose. Angela closes her eyes and
smells. Her expression says enough -- she loves it.

LAZARUS
They call this Ginger Souffle. Best
if it... if it go on your skin just
after you been in a hot tub... or
shower.

Angela takes the lotion from his hand. She is subtle and
demure, but the woman is deeply affected. She smiles.

ANGELA
This was very sweet of you.

LAZARUS
Well. Hope you enjoy it.

Angela watches Laz as he walks out the door. The apathetic
girl moves up behind Angela.

GIRL
Oooooo.

ANGELA
Hush up.

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - MACON DRUGS - AFTERNOON

Laz opens his truck and waves goodbye to Old Red. Melvin is
holding a healthy squash.

RED
You gonna be on the square later on?

LAZARUS
Got all my honey-do's done with. I'm
headin' home.

RED
Stay cool. It's a hot one.

Laz pulls away in his truck and rounds the corner just as
R.L. crosses the street. He steps over to talk to Red.

R.L.
Hey, Red. Was that Laz just left?

RED
Yes'sir, Rev'rend.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS'S HOME - KITCHEN - AFTERNOON

Rae occasionally strums an awful chord as she sings playfully.

RAE
(trying to sing)
You are my sunshine. My only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are
gray. You'll never know dear how
much I love you. Please don't take
my sunshine away. A voice from outside
spins her around. The guitar barks
as Rae slams it down on the table.

LINCOLN (O.S.)
Mister Lazarus?

Rae stays hidden as she peeks out the front window. Lincoln
is standing before the house holding an old picnic basket.
Rae's middle finger begins scraping against the wall.

LINCOLN
Mister Laz... I come for the butter
beans.

Rae fights her dizziness. She crawls to the radiator as she
hears each creak of Lincoln crossing to the front door.

FLASH TO

QUICK CUTS

The Zippo with the bald eagle closes. A smoldering cigarette.

FLASH BACK TO:

Rae flinches and grits her teeth as Lincoln knocks on the
door: Knock, knock.

LINCOLN
Ain't seen you on the square. Mister
Laz, can you hear me?

The burning has started: deep gasps, itching, anxiety.

LINCOLN
(worried now)
Mister Lazarus?

Rae watches the shadows of Lincoln's shoes under the door.
They wait patiently and walk away.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

Lincoln walks down the porch steps and stops. Thinks.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

Rae inches upward, pulling herself up the radiator so she
can stand. Her panting has waned.

Suddenly the front door swings open.

LINCOLN
Mister Laz, I'm comin' inside...

Lincoln can't believe what he sees. Rae is chained around
the waist, damp and barely clothed. Her eyes bore into Lincoln
like an owl zeroing in on a helpless jackrabbit.

She rips her shirt off in one tug over her head.

Lincoln can't move. The picnic basket hits the floor. His
mouth hangs open in shock as Rae steps towards him and lays
her open mouth on the boy.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

SLAM! Rae shuts the door.

Laz steers his Ford truck up the drive and parks. He takes
his time getting out and removing the shopping bags. He opens
the door and goes inside.

His curses can be heard from outside.

LAZARUS
SHIT BOY! WHAT THE HELL YOU...!

Lincoln is tossed off the porch, clinging to his overalls.

LAZARUS
CAN'T LEAVE YOU ALONE FOR ONE...

Tears and fear come to Lincoln as Laz steps out onto the
porch, fuming with rage.

Lincoln backs away expecting a good beating. He starts running
up the drive but stops as R.L.'s Olds rolls up the drive.

LAZARUS
Lincoln, come on back.

Lincoln darts past Laz and runs into the barn, clutching his
overalls. R.L. stops the car halfway down the drive and steps
out.

R.L.
Was that Lincoln James I seen run
off?

LAZARUS
He's fine. Just had a bad fall.

R.L.
Why's his britches round his knees?

LAZARUS
R.L., you gonna have to get on. I
can't have nobody round my place.

R.L. starts walking up the drive.

R.L.
You get a call from Rose?

LAZARUS
This ain't got nothin' to do with
that woman. Just don't want nobody
around me now.

R.L.
Somethin' wrong with ya phone? Been
callin' the last few days.

R.L. stops in his tracks as Lazarus pulls out his hunting
rifle from the rack behind his seat in his truck.

R.L.
Goin' dove huntin'?

LAZARUS
You gotta go, R.L.. I ain't foolin'
this time.

R.L.
You sayin' that gun's for me if I
don't?

(LAZ CAN'T ANSWER)
Spell it out, Laz. Man big enough to
pull a gun best have a tongue in his
mouth if he ain't got a brain in his
head.

Laz is struggling. The rifle feels suddenly strange to him.

LAZARUS
You ain't gonna talk me outta shit
no more. I got my mind made up and I
ain't gonna be moved on this.

R.L.
(amused)
Ain't gonna be moved?

LAZARUS
Got no place for preachin' here. Not
now. So you do as I say...

R.L.
(still stepping closer)
Or what?

LAZARUS
I told you to TURN BACK!

R.L. pushes his chest up against the rifle and shouts back.

R.L.
YOU GO'ON AND SHOOT ME, KILLA!

Laz's heart is breaking. He is pointing a gun at his only
friend.

R.L. snatches the rifle out of Laz's hands.

R.L.
Ought'a stomp yo ass pointing this
at me.
(unloads the rifle)
Always gotta bring up the preachin'.
Like you just a sheep in my flock
and all I'm good for is poundin' on
a pulpit.
(gets in Laz's face)
Dammit, Laz... we may not be blood.
But we sucked off the same old nurse
since the day we was slapped on the
ass. And you gonna point a gun at
me?

A tear rolls down Laz's cheek. The shame is unbearable.

R.L.
If you in some trouble, than WE gonna
figure somethin' out. You and me.
(hands him a bandana)
Wipe your face!

Laz takes the bandana and wipes the tears away.

R.L.
Now... this got anything to do with
Rose?
(Laz shakes his head)
Then what?

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

The door creaks open. R.L. carefully steps inside. Rae is
sitting on the couch, looking out the window.

RAE
(on the verge of tears)
I didn't want to.

Rae doesn't respond. R.L. quickly steps outside shutting the
door behind him.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

R.L. shakes his head as Laz follows him off the porch.

R.L.
Are you outta ya GODDAMN MIND?

LAZARUS
Man like you ought not take the Lord's
name like you just done.

R.L.
A naked woman, chained in ya house?

LAZARUS
I'm tellin' you the truth, dammit. I
found her beat. Left for dead. So I
brung her home.

R.L.
Laz, I know about that girl.
(beat)
Good number of this town's sinners
got my ear, you know.
(shakes his head)
Oh, Laz. She's had a mess of crabs
and them STD's. What'chu thinking?

LAZARUS
I haven't laid a hand. On my life,
R.L., my wick is dry on this.

R.L.
You say she was beat on. You call
the sheriff on that?

LAZARUS
Put yo'self in my shoes. Say you out
here, alone, with a beaten, half
naked, white woman loves to fuck. I
been toe to toe with the law in this
town for no more than being black
and nearby.

R.L.
What's that chain around her for?

Laz briefly looks off at the barn, knowing Lincoln is there.

LAZARUS
Why don't you go'on and ask her. She
need to talk wit somebody with sense.
Folks been ruttin' and beatin' on
this gal all her days. And this is
how I'm handling it.

R.L.
THIS IS HOW YOU HANDLING IT? THIS IS
HOW YOU HANDLING IT?

Silence.

LAZARUS
Go in and talk to her. Please.

R.L. nods. Lazarus smiles.

LAZARUS
Good. Makin' steaks for supper. I
expect you to come.

R.L.
You mean with you and that woman
chained to ya radiator?

LAZARUS
You treat folks special when they
company. It's just supper, R.L.,
shit.

R.L.
One thing at a time, Laz.

Laz walks toward the barn and turns back to R.L..

LAZARUS
Watch y'self in there. That girl'll
jump on ya junk like a grasshopper.

EXT. LAZARUS' BARN - AFTERNOON

Laz opens the door to his barn wide, allowing the afternoon
light to find Lincoln sitting on an old tire, weeping.

LAZARUS
Did I hurt'chu?

Lincoln shakes his head. Laz carefully sits next to him.

LAZARUS
What happened in there... that won't
your fault. Ain't a young man alive
could keep they britches on with
that girl being in heat like she is.

LINCOLN
Why she got a chain on her?

LAZARUS
That's between her and me. It's
private. And I don't want you goin'
off and tellin' ya daddy.

LINCOLN
(in a panic)
Please don't tell my daddy.

LAZARUS
My mouth is shut, boy. And that's
how we gonna keep it. Don't go
braggin' to ya buddies, ya heard me?

Lincoln nods. Laz hands him the bandana R.L. gave him.

LAZARUS
So...
(a bonding smile)
That your first time?

LINCOLN
Yes'sir.

LAZARUS
You struck some gold, didn't ya?

Lincoln grins as he wipes the snot from his nose.

LAZARUS
Shit. My first time was with my second
cousin behind my uncle's barn. She
weighed two tons, if a pound. Could'a
done a lot better for myself. You
sho'nuf did.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - AFTERNOON

R.L. hands Rae a glass of water. She is seated on the sofa,
wrapped in a quilt.

RAE
Thank you.

R.L.
(sits next to her)
I gotta ask you. Why do you think
Laz is keepin' you chained like this?

RAE
(shrugs at first,
then:)
You know how, like they say, you
save someone's life, you responsible
for them. Guess he just don't think
it's safe for me.

R.L.
So he got it into his head that the
only thing gonna keep you from endin'
up bleedin' on the side of the road
again, without a stitch of clothing
on is...
(R.L. yanks on the
chain)
You think he's crazy for thinkin'
that?

Rae struggles to answer. Something is on her mind.

RAE
You a preacher?

R.L.
That's right.

RAE
Can I ask you a question?
(R.L. nods)
People always say, you gotta get
good with Jesus, if you want not to
go to hell. That you say sorry for
all you done and... and Jesus would
let you go on to heaven.

R.L.
You could put it that way.

RAE
But that's so fuckin' stupid.
(she catches herself)
I'm sorry. Didn't mean to curse.

R.L.
What's on your mind?

RAE
You can't hurt people... and then
just say, I'm sorry, and then
everything just gets washed away.
Why would heaven want people like
that. People who... do what they
want and then... switch.

R.L.
I'm gonna tell you somethin', and
it's just gonna be between you and
me.
(Rae anxiously nods)
I think folks carry on about heaven
too much. Like it's some all-you-can-
eat buffet up in the clouds. And
folks just gonna do as they're told
so they can eat what they want behind
some pearly gates. I can go to
Shoney's for that.

Rae grins. R.L. leans closer.

R.L.
There's sin in my heart. There's
evil in this world. But when I got
no one... I talk to God. I ask for
strength. I ask for forgiveness. Not
for peace at the end of my days when
there's no more life to live and no
more good to do, but today. Right
now.

Rae has never had anyone talk to her like this. She is
listening. She is understanding.

R.L.
What's your heaven? What gives you
peace?

Rae looks at her bare feet. She tries to respond but the
pain in her chokes back the words. Tears come to her.

RAE
(struggling to speak)
Ronnie.

CUT TO:

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS STATION - LATE AFTERNOON

A bus stops at the station. The doors swing open. A few
passengers exit the bus followed by Ronnie.

He is not wearing his uniform.

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS STATION - PHONE BOOTH - LATE AFTERNOON

He drops his duffle bag and pops a few quarters in the phone.
He waits, allows the phone to ring.

RONNIE
(into the phone)
This is Ronnie again. Don't know if
you been gettin' my messages but...
I'm down at the bus station and...
(struggles)
I just need you come get me. You get
this message, I'm on the interstate
headin' downtown toward the square.
(sadness hits)
Rae. I really need you to... come
find me. Please.

Ronnie hangs up the phone. He remains motionless, fearful
and alone.

He picks up his duffle and walks down the interstate.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - SUNSET

Lincoln stands over the barbecue spraying lighter fluid over
the coals while R.L. peels back the corn husks.

LINCOLN
We gonna eat with her?

R.L.
That's what I was told.

LINCOLN
She still gonna have that chain on?

R.L.
Well... I'm working on that.
(trying to change the
subject)
So... what's goin' on in your life,
Lincoln?

LINCOLN
I ain't no virgin no more?

Lincoln tosses a match on the coals. They ignite with flame.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - SUNSET

Laz is humming to himself as he finishes chopping up the
potatoes. He wipes his hands and catches Rae standing behind
him.

She looks classic in the floral sundress. She folds her arms,
feeling awkward under Laz's approving gaze.

LAZARUS
Now that's sharp. That is sharp.
Chain give you any trouble?

RAE
Uh-uh.

LAZARUS
Good. Now I got the steaks on,
potatoes at a boil, and biscuits
ready to pop in the oven. R.L. and
Lincoln out yonder grillin' up the
corn. What do you know how to make?

RAE
I don't fuckin' cook.

LAZARUS
(a look of
disappointment)
Gal, I been around hard-cursin' folk
all my life. And let me tell you...

RAE
Look it... I put the Goddamn dress
on, didn't I? I think I'm handlin'
myself with some... fuckin' restraint
here... how you got me locked up
like a dog on a...

LAZARUS
If all you got is filth comin' out'cha
mouth... people just gonna tune ya
out.
(interrupting her)
Rae. RAE! I'm not fightin' with ya.
I just know you got more in you than
junk.
(a breath)
Now, you sayin' you don't know how
to cook anything at all?
(Rae shrugs)
You know how to boil water?

RAE
I can handle that.

LAZARUS
(hands Rae a pot)
Well, get to it.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - AT THE TABLE - NIGHT

The four of them (Rae, Laz, Lincoln, and R.L.) are all seated
at the kitchen table, holding hands as R.L. says grace.

Rae peeks at the others with their eyes closed tight. She
follows their example.

R.L. We ask that you bless this meal put before us. May the
food nourish our bodies and this fellowship nourish our
spirit. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

LAZARUS & LINCOLN
Amen.

There is a sudden flurry of activity at the table as the
four begin piling up their plates.

R.L.
Pass them potatoes, Lincoln.

LAZARUS
Y'all let me know if these steaks
are too dry.

R.L.
This all looks wonderful.

LINCOLN
I skipped lunch.

LAZARUS
Well, dig in, son. Got plenty to
eat.

Rae's eyes are fixed on R.L. as he picks up a devilled egg.
She looks over at Laz who is aware of her anxiety. He gives
her a wink.

R.L. bites into the egg and moans with delight.

R.L.
(to Laz)
Mm. MM. Now these eggs got some kick
to it. What'chu got in this?

LAZARUS
(motions to Rae)
Ask the chef.

Everyone looks at Rae, surprised. She feels a sudden rush of
fear as she struggles to answer R.L.'s question.

RAE
Cayenne pepper.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAMPLIGHTER BAR - NIGHT

Ronnie is walking by the bar along the interstate. He stops
when he sees Gill's truck.

INT. LAMPLIGHTER BAR - NIGHT

Ronnie adjusts his duffle bag over his shoulder as he enters
the mid-sized bar.

Gill is seated at the bar. He turns to Ronnie along with a
few other locals, one being HERMAN, age 40.

GILL
(surprised)
Holy shit.

RONNIE
(understanding)
Yeah.

GILL
Sit down, man. Need a beer?

RONNIE
Sure.

GILL
(to the bartender)
Marv, let's get Ronnie set up here.

Ronnie sits next to Gill. Herman leans in wanting to be a
part of the conversation.

RONNIE
Hey, Herman.

HERMAN
They buy you that big chicken dinner?

Ronnie stiffens. Gill is confused.

GILL
What?

HERMAN
They got little names for everything
in the corps when they trying to get
rid of ya. Don't know what it's like
in the guard. There's what you call
a bad conduct discharge, a BCD... we
all called it the big chicken dinner.
It ain't the brig but it'll fuck ya
for life if you wantin' to work for
the government.

RONNIE
That's not what this is about.

HERMAN
They got another little name called
ad-sep. That sound about right?

Ronnie looks away. He takes a sip of his beer.

HERMAN
Ad-sep. Administrative separation.

GILL
(to Ronnie)
How do you get one of those?

HERMAN
Blowin' boys in the head, for one.

Ronnie loses his cool. He lunges at Herman. Gill holds him
back.

HERMAN
Whoa, son! I ain't sayin' shit about
you. I'm just talkin'.

RONNIE
Well, you don't know what you're
talking about so why don't you shut
the fuck up?

GILL
Hey, it's alright, man. It's alright.
(to Herman)
Herman. Come on. He just got back.

Herman gets up to leave with his beer.

HERMAN
To get back ya had to've gone
somewhere.

Ronnie glares at Herman as he moves to the other side of the
bar. Gill moves closer to Ronnie to get the whole story.

GILL
What happened?

RONNIE
They been keepin' a folder on me cuz
of my stomach. Like how it was just
before we'd play ball back in school.
Thought it was just some tic I got,
or ulcers like my daddy had.
(takes a drink)
I can't... shoot. Target practice
I'm a pro. I tag between the numbers
each time but...
(feels a stomach cramp)
But when there's really loud noises
around me... somethin' happens. I
get shaky and... I lose my breath.
They called it anxiety. Severe
anxiety. It can be fixed and all...
just not in time for....
(another drink)
It's a long process but... they sent
me home.

GILL
I guess it could be worse. You could
be comin' back in a body bag.

Gill doesn't know what to say next.

RONNIE
I can't get Rae on the phone. She's
not at home... none of her friends
seen her anywhere.

GILL
She's around. Always is.

RONNIE
I don't know. She's gettin' crazy,
like she gets. Begged me not to go.
Got real down. I just think somethin's
happened. Like she run off with
someone. You'd tell me if you knew
somethin', right?

GILL
You been home yet?

RONNIE
Uh-uh. I's hitchin' up the interstate
when I seen your truck outside.

GILL
You need a ride?

CUT TO:

EXT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - NIGHT

Gill's truck rounds the bend and up the gravel drive leading
up to Ronnie's trailer.

The headlights scan across the porch as Gill parks.

INT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - NIGHT

Ronnie is the first through the door, calling out for Rae
before he can turn on the lights.

RONNIE
Rae?

Gill enters. He sees that the trailer is the same as it was
the day he picked up Ronnie, nothing is different.

RONNIE
This don't feel right. Kitchen looks
just like I left it. I know, cuz I
cleaned it.

GILL
She ever tell you she was thinkin'
of taking off?

RONNIE
I just been so mixed up lately, Gill.
And, you know, with her history, I
can see how she could get scared...
(tears)
...and run.

Gill is disturbed by Ronnie's sudden flood of emotion and
tears. He crosses to the pantry, already knowing which
cupboard to pull the liquor out of.

He pours two drinks. He hands one to Ronnie.

GILL
Drink. Come on, drink some.

Ronnie manages a few swallows.

RONNIE
Her momma works down at the grocery,
down on the square. Maybe she seen
her.

Gill stands over Ronnie, looking down on his pitiful face.

GILL
Ronnie. You can't see cuz you're too
close to it.
(Ronnie waits)
These nervous spells you get. You
never had that shit back in school...

RONNIE
That's not right, really, cuz I...

GILL
(continuing)
You joined up in that monkey troop
cuz you had a plan for yourself.
Army'd pay for school. You were gonna
get a degree, maybe somethin' in
business or agriculture and you were
gonna make somethin' of yourself.

His words are painful to Ronnie. Gill doesn't hold back.

GILL
And then you had to fall in love
with the school slut.

RONNIE
Now wait...

GILL
(continuing)
With all she was doin'. With all the
shit she kept doing! You stayed stuck
to that bitch's ass and you wouldn't
let go.

RONNIE
I know about how she was like. But
we was different. I's the only person
she talked to about it. How she's
abused. Terrible things, Gill, just
terrible...

Rage suddenly fills Gill. He grabs Ronnie and throws him
against the wall.

GILL
YOU HAD A PLAN! YOU HAD A GODDAMN
LIFE! AND SHE JUST FUCKED THE GUTS
OUT OF YOU!

RONNIE
It's not her fault, Gill. She's had
to take care of me all this time,
cuz I'd just start throwin' up...
choking. Just losin' my grip. And
she listened. She listened to me.
(Gill releases Ronnie
and walks away)
And... I got better. I don't get
nervous like I used to. And since we
been together... she been faithful
to me. Put all that junk behind her...

GILL
The only thing that cunt's had behind
her is me and half the town fuckin'
her.
(Ronnie can't believe
it)
Your first night away, I come over
and drop off the spare keys like you
wanted me to. You weren't gone two
hours and she was aching to get me
inside her. Like she was havin' some
kind'a fit.

Ronnie can't respond. Tears roll down his face. Gill holds
up the whiskey bottle.

GILL
(pours a drink)
Don't you think it's funny how I
know where everything in your house
is?
(moves in close)
I don't care if that hurts you or
not. Truth is I don't know who you
are anymore. So fuck it.

Gill turns away. Ronnie grips Gill around the neck from
behind. He bends him back painfully and throws his head up
against the wall.

EXT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - NIGHT

The front door burst open as Gill goes flying down the front
porch. Ronnie cocks a .45 and shoves it into his belt.

Ronnie pins Gill's elbow behind his back and retrieves the
keys from his front pocket.

GILL
You gonna steal my truck?

RONNIE
Make yourself at home. You done it
already.

Gill watches Ronnie tear down the drive in his own truck.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - NEAR THE BARN - NIGHT

Laz and R.L. are smoking. Laz smiles as he watches Lincoln
and Rae through the kitchen window as they wash dishes and
talk about football.

R.L.
Gotta get that chain off her, Laz.
Somethin' like this gets out, you
could land in a heap of trouble.

LAZARUS
I'm dealin' with what God put before
me.

R.L.
You believe He wants this? A woman
chained to ya radiator?

LAZARUS
Not like that.

R.L.
Then what?

LAZARUS
She's tied to me, R.L.. We tied to
each other.

Laz is silent.

R.L.
I can't leave unless I get your word.

Laz looks down at his shoes. He surrenders. He nods.

R.L.
Laz. I got some news you need to
hear. It's about Rose and your
brother.
(this is not easy for
R.L.)
She's pregnant. She gonna have a
baby.
(silence)
Her sister told my wife. You know
how them sewing circles go. Just a
matter of time till you got word.
Thought that's why you been keepin'
to yourself out here.
(Laz conceals his
pain)
I don't know how much of this is to
make her happy or to hurt you. But
it is what it is.

Laz struggles with his emotions. He turns to R.L. stone faced
and cold.

LAZARUS
I'm through with them both.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE FRONT DOOR - NIGHT

Laz and Rae wave to Lincoln as he climbs into R.L.'s car.
They pull away, up the drive, and disappear into the night.

The cicadas sing as the two stand in silence: Rae, at peace,
feeling genuine contentment; while Laz looks lost in silent
pain.

RAE
They sure liked them devilled eggs.

LAZARUS
You drink whiskey?

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

A bottle of whiskey is removed from a top cabinet above the
refrigerator. Two small glasses each get a healthy swallow.

LAZARUS
You take it straight?

RAE
Sure.

He hands her a glass. Laz then looks at his as if he struggles
with a decision.

LAZARUS
(holding up the glass)
To my baby brother. Gonna be a daddy.

Rae nods and downs the whiskey with Lazarus.

RAE
Well, that's good news. So you're
gonna be someone's uncle.

Laz pours another swig for himself and downs it.

LAZARUS
Want another?

RAE
We drinkin' buddies now?

LAZARUS
(pours two more glass)
To freedom.

Laz pounds back his third shot.

RAE
Still makin' jokes?

LAZARUS
(pulls out his keys)
No joke.

Laz pulls Rae closer to him by the chain wrapped around her
waist. He opens the old lock with a key.

LAZARUS
Not my place to change your mind, or
anybody else's. People gonna do how
they please. You only get one life...
should be lived the way you wanna
live it.

The chain falls to the floor with a hollow thud. Rae looks
confused.

LAZARUS
If you want... I can take you back
to town now.

RAE
I ain't in a hurry.

The two stare at each other in silence.

RAE
Could you do somethin' for me?

LAZARUS
Anything.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT

Rae watches with intense curiosity as Laz tunes his guitar,
sitting at the table.

LAZARUS
(takes another drink)
Ain't played 'fore nobody in years.

Laz slides his calloused fingers across the strings, spurring
the old guitar into an impressive wail. Rae grips the chair.

LAZARUS
(plays as he remembers)
Funny how a sound just speak to ya
heart.

A haunting slide guitar riff barks. Rae has a physical
reaction to the music. She is fascinated and fearful.

LAZARUS
(thinks)
Wanted me some kids. A whole mess of
'em. But Rose, my wife... chil'ren
was for another time.
(takes a drink)
They's this one spring... I saw a
change in her. Her breasts start
swellin' up. Come a few mornings I
hear her heavin' in the bathroom. I
seen it with women before. I knew.

Laz thinks for a moment. Continues playing.

LAZARUS
Come a day, Rose say she had to go
visit her folks in Jackson. Didn't
want me to come... so I stayed put.
(remembers)
When she come back...
(hesitates)
They talk about a woman havin' that
glow. Couldn't see it no more. She...
took it away. Cut it out.

The guitar's song turns dark. Laz slides his fingers up the
guitar strings, lingering on low growns.

LAZARUS
One night... While she sleepin'.
Held a pillow in my hands. I could
see myself killin' her. What evil in
my heart make me wanna kill her, I
don't know? It's that voice in me.
Each time I think it's gone, he come
howlin' back. Devil or no, I don't
know. But I am a haunted man.

Fear spreads across Rae's face. Laz is talking about something
all too familiar.

LAZARUS
Calls me when I'm ailing. When I
can't find my home, lost in the pines.
I calls it the Black Snake Moan.
(he closes his eyes
and sings)
Mm-mm... Got no momma now.Mm-mm...
Got no momma now.It's over late last
night, don't need no momma now.

Laz stops. He sways back and forth with his eyes closed. Rae
hears the swell of the cicadas. Her eyes dart to the front
door as the familiar creek of footsteps are heard.

RAE
Sing, Lazarus.
(kneels next to him
in fear)
Please keep singin'.

The door swings open. A white calloused hand appears around
Rae's mouth.

She gasps in terror, clutching Laz's leg. The white hand is
gone. Tears come to her. She trembles as Laz sings.

LAZARUS
(singing)
Mm-mm... Black snake crawlin' in my
room.Mm-mm... Black snake crawlin'
in my room.Some pretty momma better
come and get this black snake soon.

Rae rests her head against his knee.

LAZARUS
(singing)
Black snake is evil, black snake is
all I see.Black snake is evil, black
snake is all I see.Woke up this
mornin', black snake moved in on me.

Laz concludes the song. Rae raises up to her knees, facing
Laz. Tears have run down his dried face. He opens his eyes.

LAZARUS
My life is gone. Only life I was
livin'. And I lost it.

RAE
I'm here with you.

LAZARUS
I had love in my heart. And I gave
it to one woman. And she gone now.
(his lip quivers)
Where am I gonna put all this love?

Rae gently touches his cheek. The wind picks up outside.

RAE
You can give it to me.

Rae kisses Laz. He is motionless at first, allowing it to
happen. His hand moves from the neck of his guitar to the
bend in her neck.

The passion intensifies as they squeeze the guitar between
them.

Laz pulls his lips away and holds her head in his hands.
They are so close, they are breathing into each other's
mouths.

RAE
You can't start this and not finish.
Not with me.
(kisses him)
Please...

The guitar clangs to the floor as Laz lifts Rae in his arms.
They kiss, ravenous for each other. He knocks up against the
side table, causing his Bible to fall to the floor, face up
and open. The wind pushes the front door open, slamming it
hard against the wall.

They turn together, kissing, Laz slowly spinning with Rae in
his arms. But Laz is soon distracted by the pages of his
Bible fluttering on the floor. The wind is blowing the pages,
turning them with an unseen hand.

LAZARUS
Wait... I gotta stop...
(Rae's kisses get
more aggressive)
Rae stop...
(she can't hear, the
burning has her)
Dammit, Rae... GET OFF!

It takes a considerable effort to pull Rae away. She falls
to the floor, dizzy and sucking in air.

LAZARUS
This ain't the way for me. I'm sorry.

Rae is struggling for breath. She desperately grabs at Laz.

RAE
Not gonna lie to you, Laz...
(labored breath)
This one's a doozy. I don't think...
I don't think I can stop this.

Her eyes roll back briefly, almost losing consciousness. Laz
catches her and holds her tightly.

LAZARUS
Tell me what to do.

RAE
(Barely able to speak)
The... chain helps.

Laz grips the chain and wraps it around Rae.

As the burning increases. Laz holds Rae tight across his
lap, his back up against the radiator.

RAE
I seen a man die. He couldn't
breathe... his heart was... was givin'
out.

LAZARUS
You just havin' a fit. You ain't
goin' nowhere.

RAE
He told me... get help. I just stood
there and watched him... I watched
him die, Laz. Oh God! GODDAMMIT!

Her legs itch like they are covered in ants. The wave is
hitting her hard. Laz holds her face up to him.

RAE
(like a little girl)
Oh, Laz... he hurt me. He... hurt me
so many times.

LAZARUS
No one's gonna hurt you no more.

RAE
You think God forgives people like
that?
(crying like a child)
You think God forgives people like
me?

Suddenly aware of the rising burn, Rae grits her teeth.

RAE
Hold me. Oh God...

Rae turns away as Laz holds her head in his lap. She bites
down on his middle finger as his hand moves over her mouth.

She is gasping, screaming into his hand.

It hits. Laz holds her.

Rae's open mouth quivers as the sensation peaks. Her shoulders
slump, her chest vibrates. She is crying softly.

LAZARUS
We'll just stay here. Wait till it
passes.

The pages of the Bible flip to the final pages in the wind.

FADE TO BLACK.

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - MORNING

Laz's truck pulls into his usual spot on the square. Rae is
riding shotgun.

RAE
Where you gonna be?

LAZARUS
Right here. Be here all afternoon.
(waits)
You ready for this?

RAE
I'm gonna just get some girl stuff,
like make-up and... stuff.

Rae looks out the window, a touch of fear.

LAZARUS
This town ain't goin' nowhere. You
take the time you need.

They both step out of the truck. Gene and Archie watch Rae's
ass as she walks by. They then look back at Laz, incredulous.

LAZARUS
Friend of mine.

CUT TO:

INT. FISHERVILLE GROCERY - MORNING

Rae enters the modest grocery store holding herself tight. A
few harmless shoppers look at her making her feel even more
uncomfortable.

CUT TO:

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - AFTERNOON

Laz is selling vegetables to a young woman. He is unaware
that Angela has moved up behind him, grinning, carrying a
small basket.

ANGELA
I bet you have loyal customers.

LAZARUS
(turns and grins)
You liked what I brung ya?

ANGELA
Been eatin' like a princess all week.
Even got enough for us to take a
picnic under the gazebo.

LAZARUS
That'd be nice.

ANGELA
I put on the lotion you got me. Can
you smell it?

Angela steps forward and pulls away her hair from her neck.
She cranes, offering her neck for Laz to smell.

LAZARUS
(smells)
That's nice, too.

CUT TO:

INT. FISHERVILLE GROCERY - AFTERNOON

Rae is looking at herself in the provided makeup counter
mirror. She looks at the compact in her hand and decides
against the purchase.

She rounds the corner and stops. She sees Sandy on her knees
in the center of the aisle, building a display of tuna cans.

Rae thinks to leave, but stops. She makes a decision to talk
to her. She walks up the aisle and stands above her mother.

RAE
Hey.

Rae kneels down next to her. She's trying to make a
connection.

SANDY
What happened to your face?

RAE
Got in a little accident.

SANDY
(not believing her)
Yeah.

Sandy stands and wipes her brow.

RAE
Since you workin' on the square now,
maybe we could get some coffee in
the morning, if you want.

SANDY
You need money again?

RAE
No. That's not why...
(a frustrated breath)
Why we always gotta do this? I mean,
you and me been at each other as far
back as I can remember. Wasn't no
love between us. And I'm your
daughter. I'm the only family you
got.

SANDY
You never needed nobody. Always made
that clear to me.

RAE
Yeah. I know I did. But...
(struggles with tears)
I'm tryin' to be dif'rent. I'm tryin'
to... get some peace, you know?

SANDY
I'm workin' here, Rae. Can you see
that?

RAE
I just wanted some make-up.

SANDY
All that shit's on aisle 5.

Rae starts walking away. She quickly turns.

RAE
I just think you should'a kept him
off me, that's all.

SANDY
The hell are you talkin' about?

RAE
Now see? Don't do that. I'll go along
with all you say about me. But that...
you can't pretend no more on that.
Cuz I was just a kid, Momma.
(a terrible silence)
I didn't know about any of that stuff
he was doin' to me.
(tears well up)
And you let him do it. Some big nobody
in your life... and you let him do
as he wanted... with the only SOMEBODY
you had.

It is clear from Sandy's reserved anguish that Rae is telling
the truth.

Sandy firmly grips her by the arm and walks her out. Rae
winces in pain like a toddler being led off to a car for a
good whipping.

RAE
I'm sorry... I didn't mean to shout...

SANDY
All my life I been puttin' out your
fires, with you givin' out your snatch
to every waggin' dick in this town.
And you gonna lay the blame at my
feet? Well, I ain't gonna take that.

RAE
But... Momma... just tell me... not
gonna be mad... we can just talk
about it... Be eye to eye on this...
You don't even got to say you're
sorry... Just say how you knew...

SANDY
Only thing I'm sorry for is listenin'
to my parents and having you instead
of doin' what I should'a done.

Sandy walks back up the aisle returning to her canned tuna.

And then the rage hits Rae.

With each breath Rae grits her teeth tighter. She grabs a
mop off the side aisle and turns around. Sandy is pricing
cans, down on her knees. She doesn't see Rae coming.

RAE
...tell me you don't know... goddamn
LIAR!

Rae clocks her over the head, sending Sandy into the display
of cans. Rae hits her again with the mop. She is screaming
in short anguished breaths.

Rae grabs everything she can and dumps them onto Sandy: Bags
of flour, cans, entire shelves of ketchup.

RAE
SAY IT! JUST FUCKING SAY IT!

Mark comes running to the aisle followed by two other
employees. Stunned customers watch in amazement.

MARK
Rae! Rae! What are you doin'?

RAE
(hysterically screaming
and thrashing the
mop)
GET OFF ME! GET OFF ME! GET...
HIM...OFF!

CUT TO:

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - AFTERNOON

Laz and Angela are seated next to each other under the gazebo.

ANGELA
I's thinkin' about singing in the
choir.

LAZARUS
At church?

ANGELA
Mm-hm. I don't know if I got a good
voice or not but... practice is only
on Mondays and Wednesdays, so...

LAZARUS
(grinning)
You gonna sing me somethin'?

ANGELA
When? Now? Oh. No.

LAZARUS
Come on, just a little somethin'.
Right here. Go'on now, don't be shy.

Angela blushes. She looks around and then leans in close to
Laz. She sings softly, sweetly, with all her soul.

ANGELA
(singing)
There is a balm in Gilead to make
the wounded whole.

Laz is falling in love. She is so beautiful to him, he doesn't
see the people running to the front of the grocery store.

ANGELA
(singing)
There is a balm in Gilead to save my
sick, sick soul.
(opens her eyes, speaks)
So. You think I should be in the
choir?

Laz is grinning from ear to ear. He is about to speak but
the commotion outside the grocery catches his attention. His
smile fades.

ANGELA
What? What is it?

Laz bolts toward the grocery as fast as he can.

INT. FISHERVILLE GROCERY - AFTERNOON

Laz rushes past the gawking customers at the end of the aisle.
A few male workers, including Mark, stand at a distance
watching Rae weep on the floor.

Sandy is being helped up by a co-worker -- her head is
bleeding.

Rae rocks back and forth, her face spotted with flour dust,
the mop held tightly in her grip.

Mark tries to step closer but Rae cries out, thrashing with
the mop handle. They retreat.

LAZARUS
RAE? GAL? YOU HEARIN' MY VOICE?

Rae lifts her eyes.

FLASH TO:

QUICK CUTS

The chain pulling around Rae's waist. The radiator clanking
as it is pulled. Laz's hand holding her head to him as she
cries.

FLASH BACK TO:

INT. FISHERVILLE GROCERY - AFTERNOON

Laz slowly crosses to Rae. She lifts her tear-soaked eyes to
him. He kneels next to her.

LAZARUS
I'll take you home now.

He lifts her up in his arms. She sobs into his chest as he
carries her through the onlookers.

Angela is there. She looks confused and shocked.

ANGELA
This your cousin?

Laz can't lie anymore. His gaze falls to the floor. He leaves
the store without saying anything to Angela.

EXT. FISHERVILLE SQUARE - AFTERNOON

Ronnie has parked Gill's truck on the square. He starts
walking up to the grocery store.

He sees Laz carrying Rae in his arms. She is sobbing into
his chest, blind to all around her. Ronnie freezes in shock
as Laz approaches.

LAZARUS
Move, son.
(Ronnie is unable to
move)
Goddammit, kid, get outta my way!

Laz pushes Ronnie causing him to fall backwards on to the
pavement.

Ronnie watches Laz put Rae in his truck and drive away. A
wave of nausea hits. He turns over and heaves.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - SUNSET

The wooden chimes are deathly still above the porch. The
evening cicadas have begun their chorus.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BATHROOM - SUNSET

Rae is holding her knees to her chest in the tub. Laz sits
next to her, dipping the sponge in the water, gently washing
her back and shoulders.

Laz moves her head back into the palm of his hand to wash
her hair. She stares into his eyes as he squeezes the sponge
on her forehead.

RAE
You took care of your wife, like you
do me?

LAZARUS
I tried.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

Rae is wrapped in the quilt, laying on the couch. She is
awake and motionless, helpless to her depression.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BEDROOM - NIGHT

Laz sits on the side of his bed. Something is on his mind.

We CUT TO him on his stomach searching for something under
his bed.

Another old guitar case comes out, followed by another, then
another. Finally, Laz stands, an old maroon case in his grip.

He opens the latches on the side and lifts the thin lid,
revealing a gorgeous cream colored electric guitar.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

Rae has not fallen asleep yet. She turns to see Laz entering
the dark room with the maroon guitar case.

LAZARUS
You and me, we night owls. No use
fightin' this shit.
(tosses her a dress)
Get up.

CUT TO:

EXT. BOJO'S - NIGHT

Laz's truck groans as it bounces into the crowded parking
lot of Bojo's.

Rae steps out, looking beautiful in her sun dress. Laz slams
the door to his truck, guitar case in hand.

They begin walking inside. Rae's watch goes off. She quickly
turns it off. But a faint echo of the alarm can be heard
behind her. She stops and turns toward the truck. The sound
is gone.

LAZARUS
What is it?

RAE
Nothin'.

They go inside.

Ronnie's hand appears from under the blue tarp in the back
of Laz's truck. He pulls himself out and looks around.

INT. BOJO'S - NIGHT

Laz and Rae stand like strangers by the door. The place is
wall to wall -- people at the bar, people playing pool.

Laz sees the culprit of this show. R.L. is gabbing with Bojo,
a beer in his hand.

LAZARUS
Get'chu at that table up yonder.

RAE
By myself?

LAZARUS
You can handle it.

As Rae makes her way through the crowd of people, Laz marches
over to R.L.

LAZARUS
The hell is this shit?

R.L.
What? I called Bojo, like you say.
Called up the fellas in the band...

LAZARUS
The fuck are all these people doin'
here? Been drinkin' in this shit
hole for years ain't seen this many
people since I don't know...

BOJO
Shit hole... Hey kiss my ass, Laz.

LAZARUS
Nigga, you go'on kiss my ass. Ya
both called everybody, didn't ya?

Bojo turns away to another customer. R.L. grins as he removes
a flask. He offers it to Laz. Laz snaps it away.

LAZARUS
There you go, preacher man. Get me
drunk so I don't stick my foot up yo
ass.

R.L.
I just know how you get. Good to
know, them butterflies still in ya
gut.

Laz and R.L. look over at Rae seated alone at a small table
near the stage.

R.L.
Heard about this morning.

LAZARUS
We ain't here to talk about that
shit.

Laz surprises R.L. by walking away and up onto the stage.

Rae watches as Laz, shakes hands with some of the band
members. A few whistles from the crowd.

Laz sits down at a chair off to the right of a short mic
stand.

He plugs in.

Rae watches curiously as Laz tunes his guitar -- moans of
electric distortion.

R.L. sits next to her.

R.L.
You in for it, now. He gonna nail it
to the wall tonight. I done pissed
him off.

The drummer kicks in. Laz tears into the strings. The entire
place begins to undulate and bounce as Laz returns to the
blues.

LAZARUS
(singing)
I don't know, but I been around,
tell me them women shake 'em on down.

Cheers. Rae watches in awe. She's never seen anything like
it. She is surrounded by couples dancing so close they might
as well be naked. But there is also a great sense of safety
as Laz controls the room with his music.

LAZARUS
(singing)
Yes, I'm goin' Georgia line.
See if them women sweet like mine.

HERSHEL, a black man in his 30's, asks Rae to dance.

HERSHEL
You wanna cut it up, baby?

RAE
(shrugging)
Well...

Rae looks up at Laz. Laz smiles and nods. Rae takes the man's
hand and moves out onto the dance floor. R.L. can't be seated
anymore. He stands and stomps his foot.

R.L.
(shouting at Laz)
Yeah, you know you home, old man.
You just walked through the door.

LAZARUS
(singing)
I don't know, but I been told, them
Georgia women sweet jelly roll.

Rae allows Laz's voice and guitar to take hold of her. Her
face gets wet with sweat as she moves, making love to the
current in the air.

Men are dancing all around her, but now she is in control.
She turns to a young man and shakes, then an old man.

She is free, herself, and above all, safe.

Laz smiles, unaware of Ronnie watching from the window behind
him. There is rage and confusion in his face as he watches
Rae surrounded by dancing limbs.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT

Both Laz and Rae are drinking water from the sink in tall
glasses like they've been stranded in a desert.

RAE
Are you drunk?
(Laz shrugs)
Keep drinkin' water and you won't
get a headache in the mornin'.

LAZARUS
Yeah, gal I been here before.

RAE
(smiling)
I guess you have.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BEDROOM - NIGHT

Laz is taking off his shoes, getting ready to crash for the
night. He sits down on the side of his bed and takes off his
shirt, leaving his T-shirt on.

Rae is standing in his doorway.

RAE
Laz? Can I sleep with you tonight?

LAZARUS
Don't think that'd be wise.

RAE
I didn't mean it nothin' dirty.

LAZARUS
I know you didn't. But you a grown
girl. You can handle it. I got to.

Rae understands. She crosses to Laz and kisses him on the
cheek.

Rae then walks down the hall to her couch in the front room.

Laz turns off the light.

CUT TO BLACK:

INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT - FLASHBACK

Rae enters the dark bathroom and shuts the door behind her.
Her hair is shorter, a shaggy bob, bleached platinum blond.

ARTY, always behind the door, attempts to enter, but Rae
pushes the door closed and locks it.

ARTY
Baby, where you goin'?

RAE
I'm gonna pee. I gotta take a break
and go pee.

ARTY
Now, this isn't fair. You said I
could do it, too.

RAE
Eat shit and die, Arty. A girl can
change her fuckin' mind.

Rae finds the light switch. She yelps upon seeing Ronnie
crouched by the tub.

Suddenly feeling violated Rae yanks down on her shirt to
hide the fact that she's not wearing anything else.

RAE
Hey.

RONNIE
Hey.

RAE
You don't gotta get up but... I gotta
go...

Ronnie attempts to get up but it's too late, Rae has already
squatted on the commode, pinning Ronnie between her and the
bathtub.

Rae is breathing heavy, her focus is scattered. She's coming
up or coming down from a big burn.

RAE
(waiting for pee)
I think if I just piss... I'll be
okay.

RONNIE
You feelin' sick?

RAE
I'm just in one of my moods. You
know how I get.

RONNIE
Yeah, I know.

Ronnie tries to look away, trying to make an awkward moment
less awkward. Rae's anxiety is hitting her.

RAE
I think it'd be better if you talk
to me.

RONNIE
Yeah?

RAE
Just about anything, you know. It
can be funny or... not. Just tell me
somethin'.

Ronnie nervously considers this before agreeing to open his
mouth. He points into the tub.

RONNIE
Well. That's my vomit. I came in
here to get sick. I thought I'd make
the toilet but... anyway, I got sick.

RAE
Are you wasted?

RONNIE
No. I just got a messed up stomach.

RAE
(remembering)
Holy shit!

RONNIE
What?

RAE
Holy shit, Ronnie!
(smacks him on the
arm)
You're a fuckin' rock star.

RONNIE
I'm a what?

RAE
All them people shoutin' your name
like they were doing tonight! Shit!
That arm you got'll get'chu on a box
of cereal...

Ronnie leans over and dry heaves into the tub. It is painful.
Rae leans forward and touches his back, comforting him.

RAE
Hey? You okay, Ronnie?

Ronnie falls back, gripping his stomach, there are tears in
his eyes from the dry heaving. Suddenly emotion hits him.

RONNIE
(through tears and
clenched teeth)
Box of cereal... well, Goddamn...
(looks at his trembling
fists)
Everybody keeps sayin' things to me
take make me feel great. But I don't
feel great at all. I feel like I'm
comin' outta my skin. Like I'm losin'
control of my mind.
(looks into Rae's
eyes)
I'm not like this. I'm not usually
so... afraid.
(really starts crying)
I don't know what's... wrong...

Rae pulls Ronnie to her. He cries into her shoulder. She
gently rubs his wet face and sings her words of comfort.

RAE
Is'okay... Is'okay...

Ronnie begins to calm down. The sobbing abates.

The metal music from the party outside is muffled through
the door. The two hold onto each other in silence.

Rae pees. They both giggle, a welcome release of tension.

RAE
I feel better. Do you?

RONNIE
Yeah, I do.

EXT. LAZARUS' BARN - NIGHT

Ronnie lifts his head from sleep - his memory of Rae has
vanished.

He is leaning against the corner of the barn, his .45 in his
grip. His gaze slowly turns toward Laz's darkened house.

His hand begins to shake.

FADE TO BLACK.

EXT. LAZARUS' HOME - EARLY MORNING

A crow squawks in the rows of corn. A bright morning is
coming.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - THE BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING

Laz is still asleep. The sound of clumsy guitar playing,
accompanied by a tiny voice, can be heard.

RAE
(plucking, trying to
find the right note)
You... are my... sunshine.

Laz opens his eyes.

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - EARLY MORNING

Laz quietly creeps into the doorway to watch Rae struggle
with the guitar playing. He could stay there for hours
watching this little girl play his guitar.

Rae looks up and sees Laz. She stops playing.

RAE
Sorry.

LAZARUS
Looks like you know a song.

RAE
Don't know where I learn't it, but...
it's there in my head.

Laz sits next to her and takes the guitar from her.

LAZARUS
(playing a tune)
How you feelin' today?

RAE
You know how you feel when you come
out of a bad hangover? Like your
eyes can open a little bit more.

LAZARUS
I know that.

RAE
Woke up real early. Sun was shining.
Just thought I'd mess around, try to
learn a song.

LAZARUS
Go'on and sing it, I'll play.

RAE
No, you do it. I can't sing.

LAZARUS
Stop that foolishness. Just do as I
say and close your eyes.
(Rae closes her eyes)
Close your eyes. And think about...
well, for a song like this, I'd say
you think about what you love.

RAE
What I love.

LAZARUS
Get a good picture in your mind.

Rae's playful smile turns serious. Laz continues playing.

LAZARUS
Think on that. And sing wit me.
(Laz comes in singing)
You are my sunshine. My only sunshine.

RAE & LAZARUS
You make me happy when skies are
gray.
You'll never know dear, how much I
love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Rae opens her eyes with a delightful giggle. Laz continues
playing.

LAZARUS
Good. I know another. It go like
this.
(sings)
Last night dear, as I lay sleeping.
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke dear, I was mistaken.
So I hung my head and I cried.
(to Rae)
Close your eyes Rae... sing it.

Rae doesn't hesitate to obey. With her eyes closed and Laz
playing, neither can see Ronnie creeping up from the kitchen
with his gun.

RAE
(singing)
You are my sunshine. My only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are
gray.

Ronnie looks sick with pain as he points the barrel at the
back of Laz's head.

RAE
(singing)
You'll never know dear, how much I
love you.
Please don't take your sunshine away.
(opens her eyes)
RONNIE!

Laz spins around knocking away Ronnie's arm. BAM! The gun
fires into the wall. The guitar cracks on the floor.

Rae screams.

RAE
RONNIE STOP! RONNIE!

Laz lunges at Ronnie but Ronnie is faster. He spins Laz around
and slams him to the floor, pushing his gun into Laz's face.

RAE
NO!

Ronnie looks up at Rae, his eyes red with sorrow and rage.
He pushes the gun to the side of Laz's head. Rae cries.

RONNIE
Ain't been a week and you already
some nigger's whore? Gill told me.
Told me how you and he... you and
everybody...

RAE
Ronnie. Please, baby...

RONNIE
(to Laz)
Did 'ya have fun with her? Sweet as
a peach, I bet. Huh? Huh?

Laz glares back, not saying a word.

RONNIE
Goddamn it, I ask you a question,
you better answer it, or I'm gonna
blast a hole in ya!

RAE
Ronnie...

Rae moves closer. Ronnie points his gun at her and screams.

RONNIE
YOU SHUT UP!

LAZARUS
Careful how you point that gun, boy.

RONNIE
(points gun back at
Laz)
Or what? OR WHAT?

LAZARUS
Boy? You here to make a point, or
you here to kill somebody?

RONNIE
Ain't gonna be callin' me boy when I
blow your face off.

LAZARUS
You sayin' you'll do what?

RONNIE
You heard me, mother-fucker. I'll
fuckin' kill..

LAZARUS
(cutting him off)
BOY! You so green you couldn't stomp
a baby duck.

Ronnie can't believe what was just said -- mostly, because
it's true. The gun begins to shake in his hand.

RONNIE
You testing me? Huh? You testin' me,
old man?

LAZARUS
Test. Shit. What kind'a test you
thinkin'? You mean like, if you a
man or not? If you a killer? Only
one way to prove that. You just look
me in the eye, boy, and you squeeze
that trigger back.

Ronnie grips the shaking gun. A severe attack is on the rise
as he listens to Laz.

LAZARUS
Ain't that easy, is it? I been in
some scraps, son, I know. First
there's that loud crack. Always louder
than you think. Like it just come-up-
a-cloud and clapped a mess thunder
right in ya hand. BAM!

Ronnie flinches. He tries to control his breathing.

LAZARUS
White light. Smell of smoke. Taste
of my blood and brains in your mouth,
stingin' ya eyes.

Ronnie almost vomits, but he holds it back.

RAE
Oh, baby... just let me...

Rae moves closer to him, wanting to comfort him but she stops
as Ronnie points the gun at her. His eyes pleading for her
to stay back.

RONNIE
GODDAMMIT, RAE!

LAZARUS
BOY! YOU KEEP THAT GUN POINTED AT
ME!
(Ronnie obeys)
You need to kill a man, all you gotta
have is a good reason.
(watches Ronnie fight
his attack)
You know she been here with me, don't
cha? Been all over town, givin' up
that switch you thought was your
own.

RONNIE
SHUT UP! SHUT UP!

LAZARUS
Put all your love and dreams into
one woman... she turn around and
give it all to another man. That's a
good reason to paint the wall with
me, kid. She'd fear ya then. Cuz
there won't be no more question in
her mind. She with a real man now. A
real KILLER!

A flood of tears are streaming down Ronnie's face. The gun
is shaking furiously in his hand.

RONNIE
Don't... don't say that to me...

LAZARUS
(getting fed up)
Son, I'm grown. Don't got patience
to suffer you children and this monkey
junk. I'm too old to play house...
(looks at Rae and
then back at Ronnie)
...and cowboys. So let's have it.
End me or get out of my face!

Ronnie looks like a scared five year old having an asthma
attack. Laz barks at him one last time.

LAZARUS
Go'on. Do it.
(silence)
DO IT!

The last shout from Laz completely destroys Ronnie. His
shoulders slump. The gun lowers in his grasp. A low sob is
heard as he falls to his knees.

Laz snatches the gun from his hand and stands.

RAE
Ronnie?

Rae inches closer to Ronnie as he kneels over and weeps. She
gently touches his shoulder. He turns his anguished face to
her and tries to speak.

RONNIE
I can't stop... I can't stop... being
scared. What am I gonna do...

Ronnie hides his face in his hands. Rae throws her arms around
him and holds him tight.

RAE
I got you, baby... I got you...

Laz removes the clip and crosses to the kitchen. He slams
the gun on the sink, opens a drawer and removes the wall
phone.

RAE
(seeing Laz plug the
phone in)
What are you doing?
(Laz dials a number)
You gonna call the cops? You think
they gonna help this? They ever help
you, Laz? Huh?
(Laz listens on the
phone)
DAMMIT LAZ PUT THE PHONE DOWN?

Laz looks at Rae. There is hurt in his eyes.

LAZARUS
Thought you knew me better, gal.
(into the phone)
I need you at my house... right now.

CUT TO:

INT. LAZARUS' HOME - NIGHT

R.L. crosses from the kitchen. He hands a glass of water to
Rae seated on the couch. He hands another to Ronnie seated
next to her. R.L. sits before them as Laz lingers in the
doorway.

R.L.
(to Ronnie)
I imagine there's a lot of good
between you two. But I want you to
tell me what's bad. Go'on. And don't
hold back.

Ronnie is very uncomfortable. He looks at Rae seated next to
him and then back at R.L..

RONNIE
I hate this town. You can't round
the corner without bumping into
someone who's got your number.
(a brief look at Rae)
We did a lot of dreamin', me and
Rae. Makin' plans to get out. I'd do
my tour and... we'd move outta here.
Go to Chattanooga. And I'd work for
my uncle.
(looks down, tears
come to Ronnie)
But... when Rae gets like she does.
And she does the things that she
always done. Makes me feel like she
loves this place more'n me.

Rae starts shaking her head, tears come to her eyes. R.L.
raises a hand to silence her.

R.L.
Go on, Ronnie.

RONNIE
All my life people called me shit
like, sissy and... nervous and... I
got few things in my life that make
me feel like... like...

LAZARUS
Like a man.

RONNIE
(surprised)
Yes. I mean that's it. I wanna feel
like a man with her. I wanna feel
like the only man with her.

Ronnie wipes the tears from his eyes with his shirt sleeve.
R.L. turns to Rae.

R.L.
(looks at Rae)
Now, Rae, we're not here to fix you
or judge you. Only you and the
Almighty can do that. But I want you
to tell me about these spells you
get.

Rae takes a deep breath. She looks up at Laz. He encourages
her with a nod.

RAE
It starts like this... fire... that
spreads. Starts in my head. Then
moves to my stomach. Then it goes
lower. I can stop it sometimes but
mostly I just jump on and ride it
out... then everything'll go back to
normal, you know. Only thing ever
took that feeling away was... was...
when I met Ronnie.
(the emotion really
hits hard)
Cuz I love him so much. He's all I
got in my life that's special. And I
like taking care of him and helping
him when he gets nervous. When I can
do that for him... it's like I'm
givin' somethin' of myself that I
haven't givin' nobody else.

R.L.
Rae, look at Ronnie. And tell him
how you feel.

Rae turns to Ronnie. Her nose is running as she wipes away
her tears.

RAE
I think... I think we're fucked up.
Both of us. I know I am. But... that
don't mean what I feel ain't true.
It don't mean I can't love. And I
know, how I been is... is... REALLY
BAD! So if you want to quit on me...
I understand. But please... please...
don't.

Ronnie is very moved by Rae's plea. He touches her face and
wipes away a tear.

R.L.
So. What'chu two gonna do about this?

CUT TO:

EXT. ANGELA'S HOME - DAY

The door opens. Angela looks surprised to see Laz. She is
dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, wearing rubber gloves from
cleaning.

ANGELA
Hey.

LAZARUS
Hey. You wasn't at'cha work but that
nosey gal up at the counter give me
your home address. Hope you don't
mind me comin' over.

ANGELA
What do you need?

LAZARUS
I need ya help again.

Angela notices Rae and Ronnie seated in Laz's truck.

ANGELA
More cough syrup?

LAZARUS
Can I come in?

Angela takes a breath and opens the door wider.

INT. ANGELA'S HOME - DAY

It is a small house, but tidy. Angela motions for Laz to
sit.

LAZARUS
I lied to you. It was wrong. But at
the time... I didn't know what to
do. Imagine you got an earful from
folks about that gal I's carryin'...

ANGELA
Laz... you don't need to explain
yourself to me...

LAZARUS
Yes, I do. Cuz I feel for you. Mean
to say...
(long pause)
I got feelings for you. And I didn't
want you to think... I didn't...
(how to say?)
I don't want you to go away. There's
better ways to say what I'm trying
to say, but... they it is. Don't go
away.

Angela thinks on this. She rises out of her seat and crosses
to Laz, sitting next to him on the love seat.

ANGELA
Laz. I'm gonna put my trust in you.
I'm gonna do it knowin' all too well
I can get hurt like this. And I have
been hurt. Just like you.
(beat)
Woman like me, I got a lot of livin'
to do. But my days are precious to
me. They all I got left. Don't want
no more fuss. I want love in my life.
You understanding me, Laz?

LAZARUS
I do. God's truth. I do.

They stay locked in each others' sight.

Then, the slowest, most gentle kiss happens between them.
When they separate, Laz is lost in her eyes.

ANGELA
Now what'chu need me to do? Cuz I'm
gonna go do it.

CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALL - MORNING

Laz enters the pool hall and spots Tehronne. Tehronne motions
him back. Next to Tehronne is an old black man named PINETOP.

TEHRONNE
Yo, this here Pinetop. I think he
got what you lookin' for.

Pinetop grins and produces a black velvet cloth. He opens it
gently and spreads it out, revealing a long, thin, gold chain.

Laz nods, approvingly.

LAZARUS
That'll do.

EXT. POOL HALL - BACK DOOR - MORNING

Tehronne leads Laz down the back steps.

They both round the corner, revealing an old Chevy Caprice.
It is light brown except for one door that is gray, however
the chrome rims on the car are impressive -- worth more that
the entire car by a long shot.

TEHRONNE
It got some miles on it, but my boys
say she run good. Got fresh 22's on
her. Ain't my doin'. That's just how
it came to me. Don't worry. Nobody
gonna come lookin' for it. I got the
pinks... got no problem.
(hands Laz the keys)
Ain't gonna have my girl ridin' no
bus.

LAZARUS
(moved, impressed)
Don't see generosity much these days.
Everything always got a catch. Guess
I'm tryin' to say... thank you.

TEHRONNE
Nobody ever asks me to do shit like
this for people. And you know what?
I'm good at it. Naw what I mean?

Tehronne walks back into the pool hall, leaving Laz alone.

CUT TO:

INT. ELLA MAE'S WOMEN'S CLOTHING - DAY

Rhonda has three white dresses over her arm as she hurries
past Ronnie, seated next to the back dressing rooms.

The door doesn't close all the way. He stands and moves in
for a peek. Angela pokes her head out and grins.

ANGELA
What are you doing?

RONNIE
(shrugs)
Just wanted to see.

ANGELA
You know the rules.
(vacant look from
Ronnie)
You do know the rules, don't you?

RONNIE
Yeah, I know.

ANGELA
Then start taking them seriously.

RONNIE
Yes, ma'am.

INT. ELLA MAE'S WOMEN'S CLOTHING - DRESSING ROOM - DAY

Rae is standing in bra and panties up on a small platform in
front of a tri-divided mirror. Ella Mae takes the dresses
from Rhonda.

Angela sees that Rae is nervous.

ANGELA
It's okay to breathe, honey.

RAE
Yes, ma'am.

CUT TO:

EXT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - LATE DAY

Ronnie is wearing a brown corduroy jacket. He is attempting
to tie his neck tie in the side mirror of Laz's truck.

Lincoln, also wearing his Sunday best, steps up behind him.

LINCOLN
You Ronnie?

RONNIE
Yeah.

LINCOLN
I'm Lincoln. Guess I'm gonna be your
best man.

RONNIE
(ultimately accepting)
Okay.

LINCOLN
You havin' trouble with that tie?
Cuz I'm pretty good at it.

Ronnie nods. Lincoln steps behind him to tie the tie.

LINCOLN
Gotta do it like this or I get all
turned around.

INT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - LATE DAY

Laz is wearing the same suit he wore at the cafe with Rose.
He is seated in Ronnie's trailer, outside the back bedroom
door.

Angela steps out from the bedroom with a grin.

ANGELA
She's ready for you.

INT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - BACK BEDROOM - LATE DAY

Laz opens the door, carefully looking around the doorjam. He
sees her standing before the dresser mirror. She looks
beautiful, simple, and elegant.

Rae desperately searches Laz's eyes for approval.

LAZARUS
Now that's sharp. That's real sharp.
Miss Ella Mae set you up, didn't
she? You like it?

RAE
I've had nice things before but I
always ruined 'em somehow.

LAZARUS
Well, this one's yours now. You ready
to take care of it?

Rae bows her head. She fights back tears.

RAE
I want to. More'n anything. But I...

Laz holds her face in his hands. He speaks softly.

LAZARUS
Now... let's stop that.
(smiles)
You and me... we can handle this.
You hear me, gal? We gonna be just
fine. Now live ya life. Pull your
shit together and live your life.

His words are piercing and true. Rae nods, decides.

RAE
Okay.

R.L.'s words are heard as Rae wraps her arms around Laz and
rests her head on his chest.

RAE
I don't want you to let go.

LAZARUS
Maybe I won't.

R.L. (V.O.)
When I was a child, I talked like a
child. I thought like a child, I
reasoned like a child.

CUT TO:

EXT. RONNIE'S TRAILER - LATE DAY

Ronnie turns toward the trailer. He is in his suit, standing
in his front yard -- Lincoln at his side. R.L. stands to the
side with a Bible in his hands.

R.L. (V.O.)
When I became a man, I put childish
ways behind me.

Ronnie is amazed with what he sees. Laz leads beautiful Rae
down the steps as Angela tends to her side.

R.L. (V.O.)
Now we see but a poor reflection as
in the mirror; then we shall see
face to face. I know in part; then I
shall know fully, even as I am fully
known.

Rae holds firm to Laz's arm as they come together on the
green grass to witness and perform this union.

R.L. (V.O.)
And now these three remain: faith,
hope and love. But the greatest of
these is love.
(Looks to Laz)
Who gives this girl in marriage?

LAZARUS
I do.

Lazarus takes a few steps with Rae, offering her arm to
Ronnie. Ronnie and Laz stay locked in each other's gaze.

LAZARUS
You got her now?

Laz stands next to Angela as Ronnie and Rae face R.L.
together.

R.L.
Ronnie. Rae. I want you to look at
each other and listen to me carefully.
Do you understand?

RAE & RONNIE
Yes. Yes, sir.

They both obey -- each with a serious expression.

R.L.
I require and charge you both as you
stand in the presence of God to
remember that love and loyalty alone
will avail as a foundation of a happy
and enduring home.
(to Lincoln)
Go on, hand it to him.

Lincoln steps toward Ronnie and holds up the black velvet.
Ronnie takes the gold chain and carefully wraps it around
Rae's waist.

R.L.
No human ties are more tender. No
vows more sacred than those you now
assume.

Laz looks on -- a conflicted emotion of joy and loss.

R.L.
If these solemn vows be kept
inviolate, the home which you are
establishing will abide in peace and
your life will be filled with joy.

Angela reaches over and takes Laz's hand in hers.

CUT TO:

EXT. FREEWAY / INT. RONNIE & RAE'S NEW CAR - DAY

Ronnie is at the wheel of the Chevy Caprice. Rae sits silently
next to him.

Rae looks out the window as a huge 18 wheeler rolls up on
her side. She tries to ignore it and the tension it brings.

She turns to see that Ronnie is sweating. Another truck is
on his side sandwiching them in. An attack is coming over
Ronnie.

His breath is short. His chest tightens. Rae reaches over
and gently strokes the back of his neck.

RONNIE
I gotta pull over.

He breaks. The two trucks zoom ahead as Ronnie breaks to the
side. Dust flies as the Chevy skids to a stop on the side of
the road.

Trucks zip by shaking the car, as Ronnie tries to get control
of his breathing.

Rae tries to stay calm, stroking the back of his neck as he
struggles for breath. He puts his forehead against the wheel
to stave off the building nausea.

RONNIE
(through clenched
teeth)
FUCK!

Fear comes to Rae's face as she notices her middle finger
scratching at the back of Ronnie's neck. She pulls it away
and shoves her hand between her thighs.

Her eyes close as the burning builds. She grips the gold
chain around her waist.

FLASH TO

QUICK CUTS

The chain, tight around Rae as she struggles. Rae panting
and sweating on Laz's floor. She reaches out. Her hand lands
on the strings of his guitar. A single string is plucked.

FLASH BACK TO:

EXT. FREEWAY/ INT. RONNIE & RAE'S NEW CAR - DAY

Rae opens her eyes -- the low note still sounding in her
head. She places her hand back on his neck. And then, soft
as a prayer:

RAE
(singing)
You are my sunshine. My only sunshine.
You make me happy, when times are
gray.

Ronnie slowly turns and looks at Rae, his head still resting
on the steering wheel. The panting has slowed. Color starts
returning to his cheeks.

RAE
(singing)
You'll never know dear, how much I
love you.
Please don't take, my sunshine away.

The anxiety is gone. Ronnie takes a breath and looks at Rae,
humbled and thankful of her power to soothe him.

RAE
See. We're okay.

Rae is smiling.

CUT TO BLACK:

THE END

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