"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 ]

HIGH FIDELITY

By

D.V. De Vincentis, Steve Pink, & John Cusack

Based on the novel by Nick Hornby

9/11/98

London Draft Registered: WGAw



FADE IN

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

STEREO

Not a minisystem, not a matching set, but coveted audiophile
clutter of McIntosh and Nakamichi, each component from a
different era, bought piece by piece in various nanoseconds
of being flush.

ROB (V.O.)
What came first? The music or the
misery? People worry about kids
playing with guns and watching violent
videos, we're scared that some sort
of culture of violence is taking
them over...

RECORDS

Big thin LPs. Fields of them. We move across them, slowly...
they seem to come to rest in an end of a few books... but
then the CD's start, and go on, faster and faster, forever
then the singles, then the tapes...

ROB (V.O.)
But nobody worries about kids
listening to thousands -- literally
thousands -- of songs about broken
hearts and rejection and pain and
misery and loss.

It seems the records, tapes, and CD's will never end until...
we come to ROB -- always a hair out of place, a face that
grows on you. He sits in an oversized beanbag chair and
addresses us, the wall of music behind him.

ROB
Did I listen to pop music because I
was miserable, or was I miserable
because I listened to pop music?

INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT

Group of bags huddled next to the door. Not the go-on-

vacation set, but the clothes-to-coffee-maker moving out
variety. Rob stares at them, his face unreadable, his head
gripped by a big pair Boudokan headphones. We hear what he
is hearing, something foreboding and upbeat at the same time.

LAURA, Rob's girlfriend, enters the room, and he immediately
pulls the headphones off. She clocks him for a moment,
catching him in what seems to be an old and repeated moment
of nonpresence. She begins to heft the bags, Rob goes to
her, a little tardy for his big goodbye. Laura begins to
cry a bit.

LAURA
I don't really know what I'm doing.

He smiles, and she doesn't. He adjusts.

ROB
You don't have to go this second.
You can stay until whenever.

LAURA
We've done the hard part now. I
might as well, you know...

ROB
Well stay for tonight, then.

Laura shakes her head, lifts the last small bag, and backs
out the door. A strap catches on a handle and the two of
them wrestle with it a bit, while trying to keep the door
open, until Laura awkwardly disappears from view and the
door shuts behind Rob. He stays right there staring at the
shut door for a long moment, listening to the fading sound
of Laura and her dragging bags.

STEREO

Rob's left hand cranks the volume knob while his right
switches the CD changer to something loud and adrenal. He
addresses us again.

ROB
My desert-island, all-time, top five
most memorable break-ups, in
chronological order are as follows:
Alison Ashworth, Penny Hardwick,
Jackie Allen, Charlie Nicholson,
Sarah Kendrew.

INT. APARTMENT STAIRWELL

Laura drags her bags, banging down the stairs --

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT

Rob moves around the apartment, seeming to expand physically,
looking for change as he continues.

ROB
Those were the ones that really hurt.
Can you see your name in that list,
Laura? Maybe you'd sneak into the
top ten, but there's no place for
you in the top five. Sorry. Those
places are reserved for the kind of
humiliations and heartbreaks that
you're just not capable of delivering.

He adjusts the angle of the TV, stuffs a creepy family
portrait into a drawer.

ROB
That probably sounds crueler than
it's meant to, but the fact is, we're
too old to take each other miserable.
Unhappiness used to mean something.
Now it's just a drag like a cold or
having no money.

He moves through the living room to an open window facing
the street. Looking down two stories, he sees Laura emerge
from the building and drag her bags toward her car across
the street.

ROB
If you really wanted to mess me up,
you should have got to me earlier.

CUT TO:

EXT. SUBURBAN PARK - DUSK -

Rob and Alison sit on the bench, kissing awkwardly.

ROB (V.O.)
Which brings us to number one. Alison
Ashworth.

PARK BENCH - DUSK

The same shot, the next night: new clothes, same clumsy make-
out session.

ROB (V.O.)
My relationship with Alison Ashworth
lasted six hours.

PARK BENCH - DUSK

...Next night...

ROB (V.O.)
The two hours after school and before
The Rockford Files, three days in a
row. On the fourth afternoon.

SAME PARK BENCH

...And the fourth night...

ROB (V.O.)
Kevin Bannister.

Alison and another boy, KEVIN BANNISTER. Kissing. In the
background, Rob approaches and stops. He implodes with self-
consciousness and humiliation and attempts to affect a casual
gait as he mopes away.

ROB (V.O.)
It would be nice to think that since
I was fourteen, times have changed,
relationships have become more
sophisticated, females less cruel,
skins thicker, but there still seems
to be an element of that afternoon
in everything that has happened to
me since. All my other romantic
stories seem to be a scrambled version
of that first one.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT

Rob sits in his chair, a cord leading from the stereo to
headphones draped around his neck. Behind him is the wall
of music.

ROB
Number two. Penny Hardwick. Penny
was great-looking, and her top five
recording artists were Carly Simon,
Carole King, James Taylor, Cat
Stevens, and Elton John...

He lets the needle down on the turntable next to him.

"Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon begins to play as

PRESENCE...

EXT. HIGH SCHOOL LAWN - FLASHBACK - MOS

...and continues as SOUNDTRACK. PENNY, 16, is walking across
the grass toward us. She's the clean, sporty, nice wholesome
girl-next-door. She waves to off-camera friends, smiling a
winning smile.

ROB (V.O.)
Everybody liked her. She was nice.
Nice manners. Nice grades. Nice-
looking.

INT. PENNY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Penny and Rob sit on the edge of the bed, kissing. Rob moves
his hand up toward the breast, but the hand then seems to
have a new idea, and dives south to follow the thigh into
Penny's skirt...

ROB (V.O.)
She was so nice, in fact, that she
wouldn't let me put my hand
underneath, or even on top of, her
bra.

...when he contacts skin, Penny rolls like a gymnast away
and off of the bed, out of frame. Rob looks away balefully.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

"Nobody Does It Better" continues as Rob walks Penny to her
front door. She is smiling, he seems distant.

ROB (V.O.)
Penny was nice, but I wasn't
interested in nice, just breasts,
and therefore she was no good to me.
And so I was finished with her.

She leans in to kiss him, and he shrugs her off.

ROB
What's the point? It never goes
anywhere.

Without looking at her, Rob turns and walks down the street,
getting smaller. Penny watches for a while.

CUT TO:

INT. "EL" TRAIN CAR - MORNING - PRESENT

Rob sways with the other commuters.

ROB
She cried, and I hated her for it,
because she made me feel bad. I
started dating a girl who everybody
said would put out, and Penny went
with this asshole Chris Thompson who
told me that he had sex with her
after something like three dates.
How had Penny gone from a girl who
wouldn't do anything to a girl who
would do everything?

A BUSINESSMAN looks up from his paper at Rob, then back down.

EXT. CLARK STREET - DAY

An old Chicago block of local merchants, on a busy street.

Rob makes his way down the street, jangling a set of keys
and talking to us.

ROB
My store's right up here. It's called
The Record Exchange. It's carefully
placed to attract the bare minimum
of window shoppers.

Rob arrives at a storefront, and begins unlocking a rusty
gate with two locks and then a beaten-down door.

ROB
I get by because of the people who
make a special effort to shop here
on Saturday young men, always young
men, who spend a disproportionate
amount of their time looking for
deleted Smiths singles and "original
not rereleased" underline Frank Zappa
albums.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

In almost darkness. More light might penetrate the windows
if there weren't so many record-release posters taped to
them. A dusty narrow corridor clad in burlap and shag rug.
On the walls are bagged 45's you will never hear unless you
commit your life to the losing proposition of listening to
every noodling of Jah Wobble and Glen Glenn and other people
you've never heard of.

But as Rob opens the door, enters, and flips a switch causing
the fluorescents to sputter, we see in his eyes the reverence
and earnestness of a football coach gazing across an empty
field or a priest drawn at midnight to his empty church.

ROB
The fetish properties are not unlike
porn. I would feel guilty taking
their money if I wasn't, kind of,
well, one of them.

As he walks one of the two slim aisles toward the back, he
stops on a dime, steps back and pulls a CD from the sea and

replaces it almost the same position, but not quite --
meticulousness and pride in this gesture...

After a moment the door creaks open behind Rob, admitting
DICK, a nervous, forlorn but sweet and intelligent discophile
with long greasy black hair, a Sonic Youth T-shirt, a
monstrous pair of headphones, and a canvas record bag
emblazoned with a label logo.

ROB
'Morning, Dick.

DICK
Oh, hi. Hi, Rob.

ROB
Good weekend?

DICK
Yeah, OK. I found the first Licorice
Comfits album at Vintage Vinyl. The
one on Testament of Youth. Never
released here. Japanese import only.

ROB
Great.

DICK
I'll tape it for you.

ROB
No, that's okay. Really.

DICK
'Cause you like their second one,
you said, Pop, Girls. etc. The one
with Cheryl Ladd on the cover. You
didn't see the cover though.

ROB
Yeah, I haven't really absorbed that
one.

DICK
Well, I'll just make it for you.

ROB
(resigned)
Okay.

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - LATER

Dick is behind the counter, Rob in the aisles with a clipboard
doing inventory.

ROB
(re: music)
What's this?

DICK
The new Belle and Sebastian. Like
it?

The door flies open and BARRY, an acid-tongued post-punk
rock misanthrope without quite enough intelligence to
conceptualize his own rebellion, walks in. His teeth are
clenched in air-guitar concentration and he's phonetically
cranking a Clash riff:

BARRY
BAA! BA BA DANG!

Dick shrinks back from him instinctively. He stops mid-step
and cocks his ear at the music playing in the store. His
face adopts an exaggerated grimace.

BARRY
Holy Shiite! What the fuck's this?

DICK
It's the new --

ROB
It's the record we've been listening
to and enjoying, Barry.

Barry moves in on the stereo behind the counter, and Dick
gets out of his way.

BARRY
Well that's problematic because it
sucks ass.

He pops the CD out and frisbees it to Dick.

BARRY
(re: the CD)
Yours, I assume...

Barry pulls a tape out of his jacket and jams it in. "How
to Kill a Radio Consultant" by Public Enemy comes through at
through the red levels.

ROB
(over the blare)
TURN IT OFF, BARRY.

BARRY
IT WON'T GO ANY LOUDER.

Barry walks in rhythm toward the stockroom and disappears.

Rob goes behind the counter and stops the tape. Barry's
head pops out of the stockroom.

BARRY
What are you doing?

ROB
I don't want to hear Public Enemy
right now.

BARRY
Public Enemy! All I'm trying to do
is cheer us up. Go ahead and put on
some old sad bastard music see if I
care.

ROB
I don't want old sad bastard music
either. I just want something I can
ignore.

BARRY
But it's my new tape. My Monday
morning tape. I made it last night
just for today.

ROB
Yeah, well it's fucking Monday
afternoon. You should get out of
bed earlier.

BARRY
Don't you want to hear what's next?

ROB
What's next?

BARRY
Play it.

ROB
Say it.

BARRY
(sighs)
"Little Latin Lupe Lu."

Rob groans.

DICK
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels?

BARRY
(defensive)
No. The Righteous Brothers.

DICK
Oh well. Nevermind.

Barry bristles and moves slowly in on Dick.

BARRY
What?

DICK
Nothing.

BARRY
No, not nothing. What's wrong with
the Righteous Brothers?

DICK
Nothing. I just prefer the other
one.

BARRY
Bullshit.

ROB
How can it be bullshit to state a
preference?

BARRY
Since when did this shop become a
fascist regime?

ROB
Since you brought that bullshit tape
in.

BARRY
(sarcastic)
Great. That's the fun of working in
a record store. Playing crappy pap
you don't want to listen to. I
thought this tape was going to be,
you know, a conversation stimulator.
I was going to ask you for your top
five records to play on a Monday
morning and all that, and you just
had to ruin it.

ROB
We'll do it next Monday.

BARRY
Well what's the point in that?

From outside. HEAR THE SOUND OF SKATEBOARD WHEELS CLACKING
AND SCRAPING, GETTING LOUDER. Rob, Dick and Barry stop
fighting to listen, then each moves purposefully to a spot
in the store. Dick to the register, Barry to the back, Rob
next to the door, as if bracing for a street fight.

The SOUND gets closer, then stops. The door swings open to
admit VINCE and JUSTIN, two fifteen-year-old skate punks.

Vince's hair is post-apocolyptically hacked to different
lengths, Justin's in uniformly shaven with leopard spots
dyed browse. Rob follows them, watching their every move.

Dick counters from his perch, getting another angle. Barry
cracks his knuckles threateningly. Vince and Justin do their
best browser impersonations. Finally Justin plucks a CD,
and the two move to the counter.

ROB
Hey. Didn't you steal that one
already?

DICK
Can I help you?

JUSTIN
Just this.

DICK
That'll be fifteen-twenty-seven.

Vince reaches into his deep pocket and pulls out a paper
cup, with piece of paper attached that says "Please help me.
I'm retarded." He pours a mass of change and crumpled singles
onto the counter. Dick begins counting it out.

VINCE
Isn't your name Dick?

DICK
Yes.

VINCE
That sucks. Get it?

Dick cracks a sad smile for a second. He bags the CD and
Vince and Justin are off. Rob walks back through the stock
room door.

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - STOCK ROOM - LATER

Rob is on his knees, opening boxes with a razor knife. He
talks to us as he works.

ROB
I'm sick of the sight of this place,
to be honest. Some days I'm afraid --

Dick sticks his head in the door, looks at Rob, looks where
Rob is looking (camera), and retreats back through the door.

Rob continues.

ROB
I'm afraid I'll go berserk, rip the
Elvis Costello mobile from the
ceiling, throw the "Country Artists
Male A-K" rack out onto the streets,
go off to work in a Virgin Megastore
and never come back --

He hears the bell on the front door RING, and he stops and
listens, looks a bit worried.

CUSTOMER (O.S.)
I'm looking for a record for my
daughter. For her birthday. "I
Just Called To Say I Love You." Do
you have it?

BARRY (O.S.)
Oh yeah. We got it.

Rob relaxes and goes back to work.

CUSTOMER (O.S.)
Great. Can I have it then?

BARRY (O.S.)
No, you can't.

Rob deflates, shaking his head.

STORE FLOOR

Barry leans back, elbows up on the counter behind him, talking
to the CUSTOMER, a middle-aged graying man in a raincoat.

CUSTOMER
Why not?

BARRY
Because it's sentimental tacky crap,
that's why not. Do we look like the
kind of store that sells "I Just
Called To Say I Loved You?" Go to
the mall and stop wasting our time.

CUSTOMER
What's your problem? What did I...
Why are you --

BARRY
Do you even know your daughter?
There is no way she likes that song.
Or is she in a coma?

The Customer throws up his hands and starts out of the store.

CUSTOMER
Okay, okay, buddy. I didn't know it
was Pick On the Middle-Aged Square
Guy Day. My apologies. I'll be on
my way.

He steps out of the door.

BARRY
B'Bye!

Outside, anger catches up to the Customer. He turns and
throws up a middle finger --

CUSTOMER
FUCK YOU!

-- and bolts. Barry smiles and turns to see

ROB

standing in the doorway of the stock room. He feigns
applause.

ROB
Nice, Barry.

BARRY
Rob. Top five musical crimes
perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the
'80's and '90's. Subquestion -- is
it in fact unfair to criticize a
formerly great artist for his latter-
day sins? "Is it better to burn out
than to fade away?"

ROB
You just drove a fucking customer
away, Barry.

BARRY
We didn't even really have it. I
happen to know for a fact that the
only Stevie Wonder single we have is
"Don't Drive Drunk." I was just
goofing on the straight, and it never
cost you a penny.

ROB
Not the point.

BARRY
Oh, so what's the point then?

ROB
I don't want you talking to our
customers like that again.

BARRY
"Our customers?" You think that Mr.
L.L. Bean out there is going to be a
regular?

Rob's face begins to redden with anger.

ROB
Barry, I'm fucking broke! I know we
used to fuck with anyone who asked
for anything we didn't like, but
it's gotta stop.

BARRY
Bullshit. The guy was going to buy
one record -- which we didn't even
have -- and leave and never come
back again anyway. Why not have a
little fun? Big fucking deal.

ROB
What did he ever do to you?

BARRY
He offended me with his terrible
taste.

ROB
It wasn't even his terrible taste.
It was his daughter's.

BARRY
Oh, now you're defending that
motherfucker? You're going soft in
your old age, Rob. There was a time
when you would have chased him out
of the store and up the street. Now
all of a sudden I'm offending your
golf buddy.
(sarcastic)
You're right, Rob. I am so sorry.
How are we ever going to make enough
money to get you and Laura into the
country club?

Rob is red and seething.

BARRY
And by the way, I tell you this for
your own good: That's the worst
sweater I've ever seen. I have never
seen a sweater that bad worn by anyone
I'm on speaking terms with. It's a
disgrace to the human race.

Rob springs on Barry, grabbing him by the lapels and jerking
him up against the wall. Rob is so mad he can't say anything.

DICK
Hey, guys... Hey.

Rob runs out of steam and drops Barry, who backpedals fast.

BARRY
(extremely shaken)
What are you, some kind of fucking
maniac? If this jacket's torn you're
gonna pay big.

Barry stomps out of the store. Rob turns and goes back to
the stockroom, and sits on the stepladder. Dick appears in
the doorway, terrified.

DICK
Are you all right?

ROB
Yeah. I'm sorry... Look Dick, Laura
and I broke up. She's gone. And if
we ever see Barry again maybe you
can tell him that.

DICK
'Course I will, Rob. No problem.
No problem at all. I'll tell him
next time I see him.

Rob nods. Dick sets out into the uncharted conversational
territory of interpersonal relationships.

DICK
I've ah... got some other stuff to
tell him anyway, so it's no problem.
I'll just tell him about, you know,
Laura, when I tell him the other
stuff.

ROB
Fine.

DICK
I'll start with your news before I
tell him mine, obviously. Mine isn't
much, really, just about Marie LaSalle
(flashes CD of pretty
woman)
playing at Lounge Ax tonight. I
like her, you know, she's kind of
Sheryl Crowish... but, you know,
good. So I'll tell him before that.
Good news and bad news kind of thing.

Dick laughs nervously.

DICK
Or rather, bad news and good news,
because he likes this person playing
tonight. I mean, he liked Laura
too, I didn't mean that. And he
likes you. It's just that --

ROB
I understand, Dick.

DICK
Sure. 'Course. Rob, look. Do you
want to... talk about it, that kind
of thing?

Rob looks up at Dick, who is so nervous that his brow is
wet.

ROB
No. Thanks though, Dick.

Dick sighs with relief, and smiles his way out of the stock
room.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
Number three in the top five break-
ups was Charlie Nicholson, sophomore
year of college. Some people never
got over 'Nam, or the night their
band opened for Nirvana. I guess I
never really got over Charlie.

CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY - FLASHBACK

About twenty feet away we see a tall, thin beauty, bleach-
blonde hair cropped short in darling '80's new-wave asymmetry.

She is speaking animatedly to a PAMPHLETEER, driving her
points home with a forefinger.

ROB (V.O.)
She looked different. Dramatic.
Exotic. She talked a lot, about
remarkably interesting things like
music, books, film, and politics...

INT. CAFE - DAY

A younger Rob sits amongst a group of STUDENTS who are engaged
in a heated conversation. He is smiling, mouth closed, just
happy to be there. Charlie sitting next to him, tousles his
hair as she talks incessantly.

ROB (V.O.)
(over her talking)
...so we didn't have those terrible,
strained sentences, that seemed to
characterized most of my
relationships. And she liked me.
She liked me. She liked me.

Charlie gives Rob a quick kiss and keeps talking...

EXT. STREET - AFTERNOON

Rob and Charlie walk arm in arm, Rob in cool clothes and
sunglasses trying to look cool, Charlie making a point about
something.

Rob checks out how cool he looks with her as they walk by a
store window REFLECTION.

ROB (V.O.)
We went out for two years, and for
every single minute I felt as though
I was standing on a dangerously narrow
ledge. I couldn't get comfortable,
couldn't ever stretch out and relax.
Why would a girl -- no, a woman --
like Charlie go out with someone who
only a few years ago sewed a Foghat
patch on his jacket? I felt like
all those people who suddenly shaved
their heads and said they'd always
been punks. I felt like a fraud.
And I was depressed by the lack of
flamboyance in my wardrobe...

INT. CHARLIE'S APARTMENT - DAY

The fabulous sophomore design student's studio apartment:

White wood floor, white walls, overvarnished door, Doisneaux
print on the wall, futon on the floor. Rob lies back on his
elbows, watching Charlie in uncomfortable, worried awe. She
stands, her back to him, wearing only her underwear and
pulling on a T-shirt -- a heartbreaking image to look back
on.

ROB (V.O.)
...I worried about my abilities as a
lover. I was intimidated by the
other men in her design department,
and became convinced that she was
going to leave me for one of them.

Charlie turns around and looks at Rob with naked ambivalence.

ROB (V.O.)
She left me for one of them. The
dreaded Marco.

EXT. CHARLIE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

It is RAINING like crazy, and Rob is shouting up at a lit
window, maniacally gesturing. The curtains part and Charlie's
figure appears, clad only in a sheet. Next to her is a tall,
built, handsome man, MARCO, also in a sheet.

Eventually he falls to his knees with a splash and buries
his head in his hands. The light goes out.

ROB (V.O.)
And I lost it. I lost it all.
Dignity, faith, fifteen pounds...

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob wandering through the rain.

ROB (V.O.)
Any small idea of personal identity
that I had acquired up to that point.

INT. SOME RECORD STORE - DAY

A younger and catatonic Rob listlessly sorts through a stack
of records.

ROB (V.O.)
I came to three months later, and to
my surprise had flunked out of school
and started working in a record store.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob stands in front of his wall of music, shifting LPs around
between the shelves and piles on the floor as he talks to
us.

ROB
What I really learned from the Charlie
Debacle is that you gotta punch your
weight. Charlie was out of my Class:
too pretty, too smart, too witty,
too much. What am I? Average. A
middleweight. Not the smartest guy
in the world, but certainly not the
dumbest. I've read books like The
Unbearable Lightness of Being,
Angela's Ashes, and Love in the Time
of Cholera, and understood them, I
think -- they're about girls, right? --
just kidding -- but I don't like
them very much. My all time top
five favorite books are Johnny Cash's
autobiography, Snow Crash by Neil
Stevenson, Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance, The Trouser
Press Guides to Rock, and, I don't
know, probably something by Kurt
Vonnegut. I look through the New
Yorker when my neighbor's done with
it, and I'm not averse to going down
to the Fine Arts to watch subtitles
films, although on the whole I prefer
American films. Top five being Blade
Runner, Cool Hand Luke, the first
two Godfathers which we'll count as
one, Taxi Driver, and The Shining.
I'm okay looking, average height,
not skinny, not fat. My genius, if
I can call it that, is to combine a
whole load of averageness into one
compact frame. You might say there
were millions like me, but there
aren't, really: Alot of guys have
impeccable music taste but don't
read, alot of guys read but are really
fat, alot of guys are sympathetic to
women but have stupid beards, alot
of guys have a Woody Allen sense of
humor but look like Woody Allen.
Some drink too much, some drive like
assholes, some get into fights, or
show off money, or do drugs. I don't
do any of these things, really. If
I do okay with women it's not because
of the virtues I have, but because
of the ugly flaws I don't have...
So. Charlie and I didn't match.
After her I was determined to never
get out of my league again.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob presses play on the answering machine. A pleasant, older
female voice is heard. It's JANET, Laura's mother.

JANET
(on machine)
Hello, you two. Laura, it's your
mother. Your father's angina is a
little rough today and I thought
he'd like to talk to you. No big
deal. I love you two. Bye.

Beep.

LIZ
(on machine)
Rob, it's Liz. Just calling to see,
well, if you're okay. Give me a
ring. I'm not taking sides. Yet.
Lot's of love. Bye.

He pulls an LP from a shelf, puts it on the turntable and
sits back in his chair.

EXT. LAKE MICHIGAN WATERFRONT - MOS - THE PAST

The MUSIC becomes SOUNDTRACK to the following scenes. Rob
and SARAH, a thin, modestly attractive young woman, SARAH,
walk and talk. They seem to be emphatically complaining
together.

ROB (V.O.)
Charlie and I didn't match. Marco
and Charlie matched. Me and Sarah,
number four on the all time break-
ups list, matched. She wore more or
less the same clothes as mine, had
an acceptable working knowledge of
music, and she had been dumped by
some asshole named Michael. He was
her moment, Charlie was mine. Sarah
had sworn off men. I had sworn off
women. It made sense to pool our
loathing of the opposite sex, swear
them off together, and get to share
a bed with someone at the same time.

INT. SARAH'S APARTMENT - MOS - NIGHT

Rob and SARAH sit up in bed, staring at the television...

ROB (V.O.)
We were frightened of being left
alone for the rest of our lives.
Only people of a certain disposition
are frightened of being alone for
the rest of their lives at twenty-
six. We were of that disposition.
Everything seemed much later than it
was.

INT. SARAH'S KITCHEN - MOS - DAY ROB'S POV

of Sarah, sitting across the table, mid-confession.

ROB (V.O.)
When she told me that she met someone
else it made no sense. Her meeting
someone else was contrary to the
whole spirit of our arrangement.
All we really had in common was that
we were dumped by people, and that
we were against dumping. We were
violently anti-dump. So how come I
got dumped?

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

The MUSIC becomes PRESENCE again, and Rob takes the needle
off the record.

ROB
You run the risk of losing anyone
who is worth spending time with.
But I didn't know that at the time.
All I saw was that I'd moved down a
division and that it still hadn't
worked out, and this seemed cause
for a great deal of misery and self-
pity. And that's when Laura came
along.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob is surrounded by stacks of records on the floor. He
looks to camera.

ROB
I'm reorganizing my records tonight.
It's something I do in times of
emotional distress. When Laura was
here I had them in alphabetical order,
before that, chronologically.
Tonight, though, I'm trying to put
them in the order in which I bought
them. That way I can write my own
autobiography without picking up a
pen. Pull them all off the shelves,
look for Revolver and go from there.
I'll be able to see how I got from
Deep Purple to The Soft Boys in twenty-
five moves. What I really like about
my new system is that it makes me
more complicated than I am. To find
anything you have to be me, or at
the very least a doctor in Rob-ology.
If you wanna find Landslide by
Fleetwood Mac you have to know that
I bought it for someone in the fall
of 1983 and then didn't give it to
them for personal reasons. But you
don't know any of that, do you? You
would have to ask me to--

The phone rings again. Rob picks it up.

ROB
Yeah?

MOM
Hi, Rob. It's your mother.

Rob deflates a bit.

ROB
Hi, Mom.

MOM
Everything all right?

ROB
Great. Super-fantastic.

MOM
How's the store?

ROB
So so. Up and down.

MOM
Your lucky Laura's doing so well.
If it wasn't for her, I don't think
either of us would ever sleep...

Rob holds his lips together with thumb and forefinger, but
succumbs --

ROB
She left. She's gone.

MOM
What do you mean? Where did she go?

ROB
How would I know? Gone. Girlfriend.
Leave. Not say where gone. Laura
move out.

MOM
Well call her mother.

ROB
She just called. She doesn't even
know. It's probably the last time
I'll ever hear her voice. That's
weird, isn't it? You spend Christmas
at somebody's house, you know, and
you worry about their operations and
you see them in their bathrobe, and...
I dunno...

Silence.

ROB
There'll be another mom and another
Christmas. Right?

Silence... More silence.

ROB
Hello? Anybody there?

THE SOUND OF SOFT CRYING

ROB
I'm all right, if that's what's
upsetting you.

MOM
You know that's not what's upsetting
me.

ROB
Well it fucking should be, shouldn't
it?

MOM
I knew this would happen. What are
you going to do Rob?

ROB
I'm going to drink this bottle of
wine watch TV and go to bed. Then
tomorrow I'll get up and go to work.

MOM
And after that?

ROB
Meet a nice girl and have children.
I promise the next time we talk I'll
have it all sorted out.

MOM
I knew this was going to happen.

ROB
Then what are you getting so upset
about?

MOM
What did Laura say? Do you know why
she left?

ROB
It's got nothing to do with marriage,
if that's what you're getting at.

MOM
So you say. I'd like to hear her
side of it.

ROB
Mom! For the last fucking time, I'm
telling you Laura didn't want to get
married! She is not that kind of
girl! To use a phrase. That's not
what happens now.

MOM
Well I don't know what happens now,
apart from you meet someone, you
move in, she goes. You meet someone,
you move in, she goes.

Silence. Rob busted.

ROB
Shut up, Mom.

Rob hangs up the phone. He fills up his glass again, takes
a swig, and slumps into a chair. If there was any wind left
in Rob, it just got knocked out. After a moment, he gets to
his feet, grabs his jacket and heads out the door.

CUT TO:

EXT. LOUNGE AX CLUB - LINCOLN AVE. - NIGHT

Rob comes down the street and gets in the short line to enter
the club. From inside he hears a GUITAR, playing a tune
that becomes familiar not only to Rob, but to us. When a
strong, lilting female VOICE begins to sing, we hear what it
is: "Baby I Love Your Way," by Peter Frampton.

Rob smiles at first, but begins to darken as the verse
continues. He steps out of line and leans against the outside
wall, listening. Is he beginning to cry? Yes, he is...

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

ROB
Peter. Frampton. That perm! "Show
Me the Way"! A phenomenon based on
a live album that was actually
recorded in a studio! What is
happening? I am getting misty, choked
up at a song that I had the good
sense at twelve to realize was so
saccharine and stupid as to be
inarticulatable, until Michael Bolton,
that is.

CUT BACK TO:

EXT. LOUNGE AX CLUB - LINCOLN AVE.

He looks around self-consciously, and paces a bit, deciding
whether or not to stay. He takes a deep breath, and heads
in the door.

INT. LOUNGE AX - NIGHT

As Rob enters he looks to the stage, where MARIE LASALLE is
standing alone with her acoustic guitar, heading toward the
song's finish. Rob's expression begins to shift from the
melancholy to something else altogether. Marie is beautiful,
and Marie has touched his heart. Rob navigates toward her
though the small crowd as if pulled by something unseen. He
addresses us over his shoulder.

ROB
Sentimental music makes you nostalgic
and hopeful at the same time. Marie's
the hopeful part. Laura's the
nostalgia part. These things happen.
They happen to men, at any rate.
This is why I shouldn't be listening
to pop music.

As he gets closer to the stage --

DICK
ROB!

Rob looks over to see Dick sitting with Barry, a few feet
away. He shakes it off and sits with them, extending a
meaningful hand to Barry, who takes it. They turn back to
the stage as Marie finishes the song.

ROB
I always hated this song.

DICK
Yeah.

BARRY
Yeah.

ROB
But now I kind of like it.

Dick and Barry nod, then keep watching. All three of them
are in their own private fantasies with Marie.

DICK
She shouldn't done it on "The Number
Four With a Smile."

BARRY
Isn't her album called "Number Four
With A Smile?"

DICK
That's what I said.

BARRY
No, no, no, you said "The Number
Four With a Smile," and there's no
"The" at the front of the title of
the album.

DICK
It's a reference to a Chinese meal
in Toronto and I think that there is
a "The." But I could be wrong.

BARRY
You can be and are wrong.

They drop it, so that their eyes can drift back to Marie.

BARRY
I wanna date a musician...

ROB
(nods in agreement)
I wanna live with a musician. She'd
write songs at home, ask me what she
thought of them, maybe even include
one of our private jokes in the liner
notes.

BARRY
...Maybe a picture of me in the liner
notes...

DICK
Just in the background somewhere.

MARIE

as the song ends, and she smiles out over the room. The
audience applauds.

MARIE
Thanks, you guys, I know I'm not
supposed to like that song, but I
do. I'm gonna take a break for a
second. Anybody wants to buy one of
my tapes, they're five bucks up here.
One of my other personalities will
be selling them.

ROB, DICK, AND BARRY

BARRY
Let's go get one.

ROB
Let's not.

DICK
I want a tape.

Barry and Dick stand and begin to move off...

ROB
I don't need to go up there right
now.

...and they're gone. After a beat, Rob gets up and follows
them.

FOOT OF THE STAGE

Dick and Barry wait nervously to buy a tape, Rob just behind
them. Marie processes sales with polite monosyllables, until
the three get up front.

MARIE
Enjoying yourselves?

They dart eyes to each other, then nod.

MARIE
Good. 'Cause I'm enjoying myself.

ROB
Good.

Rob hands her a ten and she roots around in a duffel bag for
change...

ROB
So you live in Chicago now?

MARIE
Yup. Not far from here, actually.

BARRY
You like it?

MARIE
It's okay. Hey. You guys might be
the sort to know. Are there any
good record stores around here or do
I have to go downtown?

Barry and Dick do not try to control themselves. They point
to Rob.

DICK
He's got one!

BARRY
On Clark Street!

DICK
A couple blocks! About six!

BARRY
We work there!

DICK
You'd love it!

Marie laughs.

MARIE
What do you sell?

BARRY
A little of anything that matters.
Rock, soul, R&B, punk rock, hip-
hop, ska, new wave...

MARIE
Sounds great.

The line behind them is moving in, and Marie smiles at them
and turns to someone else. They scurry back toward their
table.

ROB
What did you tell her about the shop
for?

BARRY
I didn't know it was classified
information. I mean, I know we don't
have any customers, but I thought
that was a bad thing, not, like, a
business strategy.

Rob looks over Barry at Marie. She catches his eye as she
looks over the room. His eyes shoot to the floor.

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - STOCK ROOM - LATER

Rob is going through a huge stack of used CD's, sorting them
off into different bins, bouncing his head absently to the
music -- the same song of Marie's that Rob had on when Laura
called last night.

BARRY (O.S.)
ROB! PHONE!

Rob reaches over and hits the SPEAKER button on the phone,
still in the groove of sorting.

ROB
Rob here.

LIZ (O.S.)
Hey. It's Liz.

ROB
What's happenin'.

LIZ
You called this morning?

ROB
Yeah. I just wanted to thank you
for that message last night. It
made me feel like... like less of an
asshole.

LIZ
How're you holding up?

ROB
Actually, I'm fine. I'm great.
Last night I got to thinking, "you
know what? Maybe it is time to move
on. Maybe we're just not right for
each other. Or maybe we are. But
time will tell and at this point I'm
going to be fine with whatever's
meant to be." You know?

LIZ
Yeah. Like I said, I don't want to
take sides. And I like Laura with
you. She's more fun, more open.
You guys are good together. I just
wish you two could, I don't know. I
don't think much of this Ian guy --

-- Dick bursts in, huge-faced --

DICK
Rob.

ROB
Liz, hold on a second --
(turns to Dick)
What?

DICK
Marie LaSalle is in the store! Here,
she's here, and now!

Rob freezes, he and Dick turn to the speaker, which cranks
Marie's voice. Rob goes to the phone and picks up the
handset.

ROB
Liz, can you hold for a second?

He hits hold.

ROB
(to Dick)
I'll be out there! Go!
(picks up the phone)
Hey, Liz, I gotta go... Tomorrow
night? Great. Green Mill. Fine.
Seven? Done. Thanks. Right. Bye.

He hangs up fast, spins around to look in a cracked one-foot-
square cracked mirror bearing the logo of Aerosmith that is
mounted on the wall, and moves out into the

FRONT ROOM

and up the aisle fast toward the stereo where he turns Marie's
music off. He takes a deep breath and looks up, meeting her
eyes.

ROB
Oh. Hi.

Marie smiles.

MARIE
(re: music)
Don't you like that?

ROB
No, no, I love, it's just, thinking
you're, you must be so sick of it...
Well.

He reaches back and puts it back on. He cracks his face
into a smile, then walks fast back to the stock room door.
Marie watches him go.

STOCK ROOM

where as soon as he crosses the threshold his fist clench
and he grimaces:

ROB
WHAT FUCKING IAN GUY?!!

Dick comes in --

DICK
Rob --!

ROB
-- FUCK OFF!

Dick backs out fast. Rob leans on a wall. Barry enters --

BARRY
We're only on the fucking list for
Marie's gig at the Pulaski Pub, that's
all! All three of us.

ROB
That's fucking great, Barry. We can
spend fifteen bucks on a cab to save
five each. Fantastic, Barry!

BARRY
We can take your car.

ROB
It's not my car, now is it? It's
Laura's car, and thus Laura has it.
So it's an ass-bumping double-
transferring bus ride through
bumblefuck or a fat wad on a cab.
Wow. Fucking great.

Barry sighs, throws up his hands and heads out the door.

BARRY
Jaggoff...

Barry exits. Rob seems to be having trouble staying on his
feet.

ROB
Who the fuck is Ian?!

CUT TO:

INT. ROB'S BUILDING'S LOBBY - NIGHT

Rob enters and walks to the mail table, looking like shit.

He starts sifting through envelopes for his.

ROB
Laura doesn't know anybody called
Ian. There's no Ian at her office.
She has no friends named Ian. She
has never met anyone called Ian in
her whole life. Although there may
have been one in college -- but I am
almost certain that since 1989 she
has lived in an Ian-less universe.

He slows... and stops. His face gets a little paler as he
lifts a letter up to his face.

CLOSE-UP: LETTER

A cable service bill to a Mr. I. Raymond.

ROB

as he looks at it, divining.

ROB
"I. Raymond." Ray. "I." IAN.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
Mr. I Raymond. "Ray" to his friends,
and, more importantly, to his
neighbors. The guy who up until
about six weeks ago lived upstairs.
I knew it was him the moment I saw
the letter. I start to remember
things now: His stupid clothing, his
music -- Latin, Bulgarian, whatever
fucking world music was trendy that
week--stupid laugh, awful cooking
smells. I can't remember anything
good about him at all. I never liked
him much then, and I fucking hate
him now... I manage to block out the
worst, most painful, most disturbing
memory of him until I go to bed.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Darkness. We move silently through the rooms, and enter the
bedroom... closer to the bed, we see Rob on his back, sheets
held clenched up to his chin. He stares at the ceiling,
sadly.

JUMP CUT

To almost the same shot, but it's Rob and Laura in the bed,
semi-tangled. Laura has a book in her lap. A CREAKING is
heard. Laura's eyes go to the ceiling, and Rob sits up at
attention. They look up at the light fixture, which shakes
a little faster, with the rhythm of the creaking. Someone
is definitely having sex upstairs, and they are going for
it.

ROB
Jeez. He goes on long enough.

LAURA
I should be so lucky.

They turn to each other and laugh.

JUMP CUT BACK

to Rob lying still in bed, staring at the ceiling.

ROB
You are as abandoned and as noisy as
any character in a porn film, Laura.
You are Ian's plaything, responding
to his touch with shrieks of orgasmic
delight. No woman in the history of
the world is having better sex than
the sex you are having with Ian in
my head.

ROB'S IAN-LAURA SEX NIGHTMARE - QUICK CUTS

Ian mercilessly savages Laura from behind, below, and above,
champagne showers, toe-sucking, and animal screams --

BACK TO ROB IN BED,

imploding with disgust and sorrow. Tears run down his cheeks
into his ears.

ROB
Number five -- Jackie Allen. My
break up with Jackie Allen had no
effect on my life whatsoever. I
just slotted her in to bump you out
of position, Laura. Yes, you do in
fact make it into the top five.
Welcome. And just to remind you,
the list is in chronological order,
not in the order of pain and
suffering.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Dick and Barry are stocking the racks. Rob stands at the
register, rocking back and forth sort of like an idiot, to
"Always and Forever" by the Commodores. He is a mess.

FEMALE VOICE
Hey.

Rob looks up to see a nineteen or twenty-year-old GIRL
standing in front of him.

GIRL
Do you have soul?

Rob smiles bitterly at her, clearly having a different meaning
in mind.

ROB
That all depends.

She kind of backs away and goes back to browsing. The phone
rings and Rob picks it up.

ROB
Record Exchange... How many records...
Right, well if you could bring them --
okay, well, where do you live?
Right... how about now? I can come
right over...
(Rob scribbles)
Okay.

He hangs up and grabs his jacket. Dick emerges from the
back.

ROB
(to Dick)
Some lady's got some singles to sell.
I'll be back in a half-hour.

Rob walks out.

EXT./INT. FANCY LINCOLN PARK TOWNHOUSE - DAY

Rob mounts the stairs and rings the doorbell. The door opens,
revealing a too-tan WOMAN in her late forties, in designer
jeans and a T-shirt bearing a rhinestone peace sign.

She says nothing.

ROB
Hi. You called about the records?

She turns and walks into the house, leaving the door open
for him. He follows her in and through a fabulous first
floor, packed with big-bucks bourgeois: Rugs, art, and
antiques:

She ushers Rob into a large study, and turns the light on.
He misses a breath. The walls are lined with mahogany cases
custom-built for CDs, albums, epicurean stereo components, a
couple priceless vintage guitars -- every one of the thousands
of items bear a little numbered sticker, like a museum. She
points to several boxes on the floor, full of hundreds of
singles.

WOMAN
Those.

Rob steps into the room like an Undeserving, and carefully
drops to his knees to examine the singles, each pristine in
a plastic sleeve: the original God Save the Queen by the Sex
Pistols, original Otis Reddings, Elvis Presleys, James Browns,
Jerry Lee Lewises, Beatles... on and on. The mother lode.
Rob is doing the best to control the onset of
hyperventilation. He dares a glance over his shoulder to
her to see if this is a joke.

WOMAN
What do you think?

ROB
It's the best collection I've ever
seen.

WOMAN
Give me fifty bucks and they're all
yours.

Rob's face goes funny. He looks around for a hidden camera.

ROB
These are worth at least, I don't
know --

WOMAN
I know what they're worth. Give me
fifty and get them out.

ROB
But you must have --

WOMAN
I must have nothing. Their my
husband's.

ROB
And you must not be getting along
too well right now, huh?

WOMAN
He's in Jamaica with a twenty-three-
year-old. A friend of my daughter's.
He had the fucking nerve to call me
and ask me to borrow some money and
I told him to fuck off, so he asked
me to sell his singles collection
and send him a check for whatever I
go, minus a ten percent commission.
Which reminds me. Can you make sure
you give me a five? I want to frame
it and put it on the wall.

ROB
It must have taken him a long time
to get them together.

WOMAN
Years. This collection is as close
as he's ever come to an achievement.

Rob looks back at the records but avoids the trance.

ROB
Look. Can I pay you properly? You
don't have to tell him what you got.
Send him forty-five bucks and blow
the rest. Give it to charity. Or
something.

WOMAN
That wasn't part of the deal. I
want to be poisonous but fair.

ROB
(looking back at the
records)
Look... I... I'm sorry. I don't
want to be any part of this.

WOMAN
Suit yourself. There are plenty of
others who will.

ROB
That's why I'm trying to compromise.
What about fifteen-hundred? They're
worth five times that.

WOMAN
Sixty.

ROB
Thirteen hundred.

WOMAN
Seventy-five.

ROB
Eleven-hundred. That's my lowest
offer.

WOMAN
And I won't take a penny over ninety.

They start smiling at each other.

WOMAN
With eleven hundred he could come
home, and that's the last thing I
want.

ROB
I'm sorry but I think you better
talk to someone else.

WOMAN
Fine.

Rob half stands, then drops again for one last lingering
look.

ROB
Can I buy this Otis Redding single
off you?

WOMAN
Sure. Ten cents.

ROB
Oh, come on! Let me give you ten
dollars for this, and you can give
the rest away for all I care.

WOMAN
Okay. Because you took the trouble
to come up here. And because you've
got principles. But that's it. I'm
not selling them to you one by one.

CUT TO:

EXT. FANCY LINCOLN PARK TOWNHOUSE - DAY

Rob comes down the stairs holding his single, and walks down
the street talking to camera.

ROB
How come I end up siding with the
bad guy, the man who ran off to
Jamaica with some nymphette? I just
got left for someone else, so why
can't I bring myself to feel whatever
it is his wife is feeling? All I
can see is that guy's face when he
gets that pathetic check in the mail
for those records, and I can't help
but feel desperately, painfully sorry
for him.

CUT TO:

INT. GREEN MILL - NIGHT

The bar where Al Capone used to party, and it looks about
the same: colored lightbulbs, shadowboxes, deep plush booths
and a stage for jazz. Rob slumps back in a booth, stirring
a drink with his finger. After a beat, we hear a DOOR SLAM
off camera, and Rob looks up with a bit of fear.

Heavy footsteps get louder and closer, until a shadow shrouds
Rob -- LIZ stands in front of him.

LIZ
MOTHERFUCKER.

She is enormous, and she is mad as hell. Rob reflexively
shrinks.

ROB
What's the -- hey, Liz --

LIZ
-- No, no, no, don't even. I talked
to Laura, Rob. I talked to her and
she gave me a little background.
And you're a fucking ASSHOLE.

She turns and stomps toward the door. Rob gets up and
follows.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob comes out of the club and follows Liz. She hears him
and turns on him, punctuating with a finger in his chest.

LIZ
To think I sympathized with you for
two seconds! Poor Rob! Laura left
him out of nowhere for the schmuck
upstairs. You let me believe that!

ROB
It's true!

LIZ
Rob! Two years ago you got Laura
pregnant; you then proceeded to cheat
on her! You borrowed money from her
and never paid a dime back! And
then, just a few weeks ago, you told
her you were unhappy with her and
were "kind of looking around for
somebody else!"

ROB
Well she --

She turns again and keeps walking, holding a defiant middle
finger over her shoulder as she fades down the street.

INT. SUBWAY CAR - NIGHT

Rob sits, rocking slightly with the movement of the train.

He stares at an OLD COUPLE who do not speak to each other.

ROB
She's right, of course. I am a
fucking asshole. I did and said
those things. But before you judge,
although you've probably already
done so, go off for a minute and
write down the top five worst things
that you have done to your partner,
even if -- especially if -- your
partner doesn't know about them.
Don't dress things up or try to
explain them. Just write them down
in the plainest language possible...

A LONG BEAT, even five or ten seconds.

ROB
Pencils down. Okay, so who's the
asshole now?

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Saturday. For the first time we see the place kind of busy.
Rob watches the room. Barry is toward the back, talking to
a CUSTOMER. "Cruel to Be Kind" by Nick Lowe plays.

BARRY
It's almost impossible to find,
especially on CD. Yet another cruel
trick on all of the dumbasses who
got rid of their turntables. But
every other Echo and the Bunnymen
album --

CUSTOMER
I have all of the others.

BARRY
Oh really. Well what about the first
Jesus and Mary Chain?

CUSTOMER
They always seemed...

BARRY
They always seemed what? They always
seemed really great, is what they
always seemed. They picked up where
your precious Echo left off, and
you're sitting here complaining about
no more Echo albums. I can't believe
that you don't own that record.
That's insane.

He plucks it from the rack, and sticks it in the Customer's
hand, who regards it with a bit a of shame.

CUSTOMER
Well what about the new Echo --

BARRY
Do not get ahead of yourself.

DICK

is listening to a female customer, but he doesn't hear her
voice.

CUSTOMER - DICK'S POV

The army bag with a red cross on it. The ring-of-ivy tattoo
around the wrist. The monkey boots. The eye shadow.

DICK

thinking, calculating...

DICK
The interesting thing about Green
Day is that so much of their music
is in truth directly influenced by,
in my opinion, two bands.

FEMALE CUSTOMER
The Clash.

DICK
Correct. The Clash. But also the
Stranglers.

FEMALE CUSTOMER
Who?

DICK
I think you would love the
Stranglers...

Dick pulls a Stranglers record and puts it on the stereo.
Her brow furrows, and then she smiles.

FEMALE CUSTOMER
This sounds great.

Dick smiles humbly. Two people in the store turn and
approach.

CUSTOMER
Is this the new Green Day?

BARRY still talking to his Customer, who now has several
CD's in his hand. He looks at Barry with a mixture of hate
and adoration.

BARRY
That is perverse. Do not tell anyone
you don't own fucking Blonde on
Blonde. What about Television?

CUSTOMER
I have a television.

BARRY
NO--!

Barry adds more records to the Customer's stack.

A FEW MINUTES LATER - ROB AND DICK

stand behind the counter. Rob holds a CD in his hand, and
surveys the roaming customers with a semi-serious air of
authority.

ROB
I will now sell four copies of Cats
and Dogs by the Royal Trux.

DICK
Do it. Do it.

Rob pops the CD in and it begins to play... He stands there
with his arms folded, waiting. After a moment, a Customer
approaches.

CUSTOMER
(re: music)
What is this?

ROB
It's the Royal Trux.

CUSTOMER
It's great.

ROB
I know.

ROB'S POV

of the room. Something has caught his eye: a cropped head
with a leopard skin pattern surfaces and disappears, like
Nessie.

Rob's face gets hot and mad. He jumps out from behind the
counter.

ROB
Dick, ring the man up...

He moves like a cat through the crowd. Justin sees him coming
and counters around the middle island and heads for the door.
Vince appears next to him, fiddling with his belt.

He sees Rob now, and he and Justin bolt for the door. Rob
doubles back.

ROB
DICK! THE DOOR!

Dick sees Vince and Justin too late. Rob is right behind
them and as they get out the door, he reaches... and comes
up with the back half of a skateboard.

EXT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob emerges behind them, Vince's skateboard in hand. They
have enough distance to bolt, but they can't leave that board
behind.

ROB
Okay, fuckos. How much is this deck
worth to you, and how many CD's did
you rip off? Can you do the math?

Justin pulls two CD's out and slides them over to Rob.

ROB
(to Vince)
And what about you, dork?

Vince pulls about six, and puts them down in a neutral spot.

Rob picks all of them up and starts looking through them.

Dicks pokes his head out of the door.

ROB
Dick, call the police, please.

Vince and Justin look at each other.

ROB
(looking through the
CD's)
Eno import. Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
Break beats. Serge Gainsbourg.
Ryuchi Sakamoto, Syd Barrett...
What's going on here? Are you guys
stealing for other people now?

VINCE
Naw. Those are for us.

ROB
Oh really. You two are slamming to
Nico now?

JUSTIN
You're, like, so bigoted to look at
us and, like, think you know what we
listen to.

VINCE
You got the CD's so can I have my
board back?

ROB
I think you have more.

VINCE
Well we don't.

ROB
I can't frisk you but the cops can.

Justin reaches down again into his baggy shorts and comes up
with a tattered old book, "How To Make A Record." He tosses
it over.

ROB
Jesus. That thing's been in the
bargain bin for six months! Was it
just your criminal nature or what?
Hell, I would've given it to you for
free.

VINCE
No, we...

JUSTIN
We don't know how it works. Nobody
even knows, so we wanted to check it
out in that mag.

Rob snorts.

JUSTIN
Like, do you know how to actually
make a CD?

Rob can't resist edifying them -- the curse of the
underappreciated expert.

ROB
Uh, yes I, like, do... It's simple.
You make the tracks -- recording
studio -- deliver them to the pressing
plant where a master is cut, the
master is then dubbed to submasters,
which are the "mothers," as their
called, for each press in the plant.
You press the CD's or records, put
in your cover art, and that's it.

VINCE
Records are those big round black
things, right?

ROB
Fuck off.

Rob turns to go back in the store.

VINCE
Hey, can I have my board?

Rob drops it and enters the store.

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - NIGHT - QUICK CUTS:

Barry emerges from the back with three opened bottles of
beer as the last customer goes out the door... The three
lean against the bins, tired and smiling.

BARRY
(to Rob)
What?

ROB
What do you mean, "what?"

BARRY
What are you snickering about?

ROB
I'm not snickering. I'm smiling.
Because I'm happy.

BARRY
What am I missing? What do you have
to be happy about?

DICK
Well we rang $900 today.

ROB
Yeah but more than that. I'm happy
because I'm proud of us. Because
although our talents are small and
peculiar, we use them to their best
advantage.

Dick and Barry look at each other. They almost know how to
take a compliment.

EXT. RECORD STORE - NIGHT

Rob, now alone, turns the sign from "open" to "closed" shuts
the door behind him, and pulls the gate across. Laura appears
from the next doorway. He jumps.

ROB
Shit!

LAURA
Hi.

ROB
Hi.

LAURA
I thought I could give you a lift
back.

ROB
Are you coming home?

LAURA
Yes. Well, I'm coming over to your
house to get some things.

ROB
My house?

Laura turns and begins walking. Rob looks at camera.

ROB
First of all: The money. The money
is easy to explain: She had it and I
didn't, and she wanted to give it to
me. If she hadn't, I would have
gone under. I've never paid her
back because I've never been able
to, and just because she's took off
and moved in with some Supertramp
fan doesn't make me five grand richer.
So that's the money --

Laura's CAR HORN is heard. He heads off.

CUT TO:

INT. LAURA'S CAR - NIGHT

They move down the street, and it's a little tense. Laura
pushes a tape into the stereo. Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes"
begins to play. Rob turns away from her and makes a face,
but she knows he's making it.

LAURA
You can make all the faces you want.
My car. My car stereo. My
compilation tape.

Rob tries not to speak, but --

ROB
How can you like Art Garfunkel and
Marvin Gaye? It's like saying you
support the Israelis and the
Palestinians.

LAURA
It's not like saying that at all,
actually, Rob. Art Garfunkel and
Marvin Gaye make pop records --

ROB
-- Made. Made. Marvin Gaye is dead,
his father shot him in --

LAURA
-- whatever, and the Israelis and
the Palestinians don't. Art Garfunkel
and Marvin Gaye are not engaged in a
bitter territorial dispute, and the
Israelis and the Palestinians are.
Art Garfunkel and Marvin Gaye --

ROB
-- Alright, alright but --

LAURA
-- and who says I like Marvin Gaye,
anyway?

He reels on her.

ROB
Hey! Marvin Gaye! "Got to Give It
Up!" That's our song! Marvin Gaye
is responsible for our entire
relationship!

LAURA
Is that right? I'd like a word with
him.

ROB
But don't you remember?

LAURA
I remember the song. I just couldn't
remember who sang it.

Rob shakes his head in disbelief.

LAURA
I can see why you prefer Gaye to
Garfunkel. I get it, really. But
there are so many other things to
worry about. They're only records,
and if one is better than the other,
well, who cares, besides you and
Barry and Dick? I mean really, who
gives a flying fuck?

Silence.

ROB
You used to care more about things
like Marvin Gaye than you do now.
When I first met you, and I made you
that tape, you loved it. You said --
and I quote -- "It was so good it
made you ashamed of your record
collection."

LAURA
Well, I liked you. You were a deejay,
and I thought you were hot, and I
didn't have a boyfriend, and I wanted
one.

ROB
So you weren't interested in music
at all?

LAURA
Yeah, sure. More so then than I am
now. That's life though, isn't it?

The car slows, and Laura parks.

ROB
But Laura... that's me. That's all
there is to me. There isn't anything
else. If you've lost interest in
that, you've lost interest in
everything.

LAURA
You really believe that?

Laura turns the engine off and unbuckles her seat belt.

ROB
Yes. Look at me. Look at our --
the apartment. What else do I have,
other than records and CDs?

LAURA
And do you like it that way?

ROB
Not really.

She half smiles.

LAURA
Let's go in.

She gets out of the car. Rob turns to camera, speaking
quietly and urgently.

ROB
Okay, Number two: The stuff I told
her about being unhappy in the
relationship, about half looking
around for someone else: She tricked
me into saying it. We were having
this state of the union type
conversation and she said, quite
matter-of-factly, that we were pretty
unhappy at the moment, and did I
agree, and I said yes, and she asked
whether I ever thought about meeting
someone else. So I asked her if she
ever thought about it, and she said
of course, so I admitted that I
daydream about it from time to time.
Now I see that what we were really
talking about was her and Ian, and
she suckered me into absolving her.
It was a sneaky lawyer's trick, and
I fell for it, because she's much
smarter than me.

He scrambles out of the car.

INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT

The lock turns and Rob enters, holding the door for Laura
who slips by, her coat in her hands. She glances down at
the table by the door and sees Ian's envelope.

ROB
You can take it with you if you want.

She slips it into her purse. He stands facing her for a
moment, then crosses to her, takes her coat and tosses it on
a chair. She opens the closet and takes out a big laundry
sack.

LAURA
Have you tackled the Great
Reorganization yet?

ROB
Don't you think there are more
important things to talk about than
my record collection?

She begins putting books and other things into the bag...

LAURA
You bet. I've been saying that for
years.

Having no comeback, Rob goes for the moral high ground.

ROB
So. Where have you been staying for
the last week?

LAURA
I think you know that.

ROB
Had to work it out for myself, though,
didn't I?

Laura looks suddenly tired and sad, and looks away.

LAURA
I'm sorry. I haven't been very fair
to you. That's why I came here to
the store this evening. I feel
terrible, Rob. This is really hard,
you know.

ROB
Good.
(beat)
So. Is it my job?

LAURA
What? Gimme a fucking break. Is
that what you think? That your not
big enough a deal for me? Jesus,
gimme a little credit, Rob.

ROB
I don't know. It's one of the things
I thought of.

LAURA
What were the others?

ROB
Just the obvious stuff.

LAURA
What's the obvious stuff?

ROB
I don't know.

She stands and walks toward the bathroom.

LAURA
I guess it's not that obvious, then.

ROB
No.

As soon as she shuts the door behind her, he turns to camera.

ROB
And number three: The Pregnancy. I
didn't know she was pregnant. Of
course I didn't. She hadn't told me
because I had told her I was... sort
of... seeing somebody else. We
thought we were being very grown-up,
but we were being preposterously
naive, childish even, to think that
one of us could fuck around and then
own up to it while we were living
together. So -- I didn't find out
about it 'til way later. We were
going through a good period and I
made a crack about having kids and
she burst into tears. I made her
tell me what it was all about, and
she did. I felt guilty and so I got
angry. She told me that at the time
I didn't look like a very good long-
term bet. That it was a hard decision
and she didn't see any point in
consulting me about it... When the
whole sorry tale comes out in a great
big --

We hear the bathroom door open.

LAURA (O.S.)
What?

ROB
(covering)
What, what?

Laura comes out with a toiletry bag and places it by the
door.

LAURA
Did you say something?

ROB
No. So. Is it working out with
Ian?

LAURA
Rob. Don't be childish.

ROB
Why is that childish? Your living
with the guy! I'm just asking how
it's going.

LAURA
I am not living with him. I've just
been staying with him for a few days
until I work out what I'm doing.
Look, this has nothing to do with
anyone else. You know that, don't
you? I left because we weren't
exactly getting along, and we weren't
talking about it. And I suddenly
realized that I like my job, and I
like what my life is could be turning
into, and that I'm getting to a point
where I want to get my shit together
and I can't really see that ever
happening with you, and yeah, yeah,
I sort of get interested in someone
else, and that went further than it
should have, so it seemed like a
good time to go. But I have no idea
what will happen with Ian in the
long run. Probably nothing.

ROB
Well then why don't you quit it while
you seem to not be ahead?

Laura rolls her eyes and head off into the bedroom with the
laundry bag. Rob turns back to camera.

ROB
-- When the whole sorry tale comes
out in a great big lump like that,
even the most shortsighted jerk,
even the most self-deluding and self
pitying of jilted, wounded lovers
can see that there is some cause and
effect going on here, that abortions
and Ian and money and affairs all
belong to, all deserve each other.

Laura reappears, her bag half-filled with clothes, and goes
to the book shelves next to the records. She starts topping
off the bag with books.

LAURA
Look. Maybe you'll grow up and we'll
get it together, you and me. Maybe
I'll never see either of you again.
I don't know. All I know is that
it's not a good time to be living
here.

ROB
So, what, you haven't definitely
decide to dump me? There's still a
chance we'll get back together?

LAURA
I don't know.

ROB
Well, if you don't know, there's a
chance, right? It's like, if someone
was in the hospital and he was
seriously ill and the doctor said, I
don't know if he's got a chance of
survival or not, then that doesn't
mean the patient's definitely going
to die, now does it? It means he
might live. Even if it's only a
remote possibility.

LAURA
I suppose so.

ROB
So we have a chance of getting back
together again.

LAURA
Oh, Rob, shut up.

ROB
Hey, I just want to know where I
stand. What chance --

LAURA
-- I don't fucking know what chance
you fucking have!

She abandons her attempt at packing.

ROB
Well if you could tell me roughly it
would help.

LAURA
Okay, okay, we have a nine percent
chance of getting back together.
Does that clarify the situation?

ROB
Yeah. Great.

LAURA
(shaking her head)
I'm too tired for this now. I know
I'm asking a lot, but will you take
off for a while so I can get my stuff
packed up? I need to be able to
think while I do it and I can't think
while you're here.

ROB
No problem. If I can ask one
question.

LAURA
Fine. One.

ROB
It sounds stupid.

LAURA
Nevermind.

ROB
You won't like it.

LAURA
Just ask it!

ROB
Is it better?

LAURA
Is what better? Better than what?

ROB
Well. Sex, I guess. Is sex with
him better?

LAURA
Jesus Christ, Rob. Is that really
what's bothering you?

ROB
Of course it is.

LAURA
You really think it would make a
difference either way?

ROB
I don't know.

LAURA
Well the answer is that I don't know
either. We haven't done it yet.

ROB
Never?

LAURA
I haven't felt like it.

ROB
But not even before, when he was
living upstairs?

LAURA
No. I was living with you, remember?
We've slept together but we haven't
made love. Not yet. But I'll tell
you one thing. The sleeping together
is better.

ROB
(trying not to smile)
The sleeping together is better but
not the sex because you haven't done
it was him yet.

LAURA
Will you please just go?

INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY - NIGHT

Rob shuts the door behind him and does a crazy
Charleston/Cabbage-Patch/Boxstep/Touchdown dance of pure
elation, then bounces down the stairs.

CUT TO:

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob bounces along, a smile wider than we have seen yet.

Maybe even jumping to touch an awning. He lands and tells
us:

ROB
I feel good! I feel great! I feel
like a new man. I feel so much
better, in fact --

INT. WEEDS BAR - NIGHT

Rob moves through the room, still grinning a bit like a proud
new father, toward the table where Barry, Dick, Marie and T-
Bone sit, listening to a story T-Bone is telling.

Marie turns to him.

ROB
Hi, Marie.

MARIE
Everything go alright?

Rob glances at Barry, who averts his gaze.

ROB
She just wanted to pick up some stuff.
No big thing. A relief, actually.

MARIE
God, I hate that time. That pick up
stuff time. I just went through
that before I came here. You know
that song "Patsy Cline Times Two" I
play? That's about me and my ex
dividing up our record collections.

ROB
It's a great song.

MARIE
Thank you.

Rob glances at T-Bone, his mind calculating the new info.

ROB
Is that why you came to Chicago in
the first place? Because of, you
know, dividing up your record
collection and stuff?

MARIE
Yup.

Marie slides closer, turning her back on the others. The
loop is closed.

ROB
You share a place with T-Bone?

MARIE
No way! I'd cramp his style. And I
wouldn't want to listen to all that
stuff happening on the other side of
the bedroom wall. I'm way to
unattached for that.

ROB
I understand completely.

SERIES OF CUTS - ELAPSED TIME

Rob and Marie lean in to each other, everyone else out of
focus.

ROB (V.O.)
Awhile back, Dick and Barry and I
agreed that what really matters is
what you like, not what you are
like...

ROB AND MARIE - LATER

MARIE
Yeah, but if you heard this band
called the Crumblers, you'd --

ROB
What do you mean, the Crumblers?
You know the Crumblers? Nobody's
heard the Crumblers. Except me.

MARIE
Yeah, I know the Crumblers! I bought
a used Blasters album in New York
about ten years ago and somebody
left a Crumblers single in it. My
everything changed for a couple of
weeks.

Rob glows --

ROB (V.O.)
Books, records, films -- these things
matter. Call me shallow but it's
the damn truth, and by this measure
I was having one of the best dates
of my life.

ROB AND MARIE

ROB
Yeah, but you know what's his best
film and nobody's even seen it?

MARIE
The Conformist.

ROB
Exactly! Fucking ex-actly!

MARIE
(laughs)
You haven't even seen it!

ROB
Nor have you!

They just laugh and laugh --

ROB (V.O.)
References, titles, lyrics, flew and
met each other in mid-air embraces.
The evening goes with breathtaking
precision.

INT. MARIE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob and Marie are kissing standing up.

MARIE
Are you okay?

ROB
(nodding)
Yes. You?

MARIE
For now. But I wouldn't be if I
thought this was the end of the
evening.

ROB
I'm sure it isn't.

MARIE
Good. In that case, I'll fix us
something else to drink. You sticking
to the whiskey or you want coffee?

ROB
Whiskey.

Marie goes into the kitchen, and they keep talking around
the corner.

MARIE
Tops off two whiskeys and starts
into the other room where she sees
Rob, standing and holding his jacket.

ROB
I'd better go. I gotta get up early.
Go over to my parents'.

MARIE
When I said before that I hoped it
wasn't the end of the evening, I
was, you know... talking about
breakfast and stuff.

She plants the whiskeys firmly on the coffee table.

MARIE
I'd like it if you could stay the
night.

ROB
(as if it is dawning
on him)
Oh, right. Alright.

MARIE
Jesus, so much for delicacy. I pegged
you for a master of understatement,
beating around the bush and all that
buzz.

ROB
I use it but I don't understand it
when other people use it.

MARIE
So you'll stay?

ROB
Yeah.

MARIE
Good.

Marie picks up the drinks again and exits to the bedroom.

Rob just stands there... and the LIGHTING CHANGES.

ROB
(to camera)
Over nine million men in this country
have slept with ten or more women.
And do they all look like Richard
Gere? Are they all as rich as Bill
Gates? Charming as Oscar Wilde?
Hell no. Nothing to do with any of
that. Maybe fifty or so have one or
more of these attributes, but that
still leaves... well, about nine
million, give or take fifty. And
they're just men. Regular guys.
We're just guys, because I, even I,
am a member of this exclusive, nine
million member club. In fact, Marie
is my seventeenth lover. "How does
he do it?" you ask. "He wears bad
sweaters, he's grumpy, he's broke,
he hangs out with the Musical Moron
Twins, and he gets to go to bed with
a recording artist who looks like
Susan Dey-slash-Meg Ryan. What's
going on? Listen up, because I think
I can explain, with all modesty aside:
I ask questions. That's it. That's
my secret. It works precisely because
that isn't how you're supposed to do
it, if you listen to the collective
male wisdom. There are still enough
old-style, big-mouthed, egomaniacs
running around to make someone like
me appear to be refreshingly
different. If you can't hack this
simple strategy, there are some women
out there, of course, who want to
get pushed around, ignored and mowed
over, but do you really want to be
with them anyway?

...he goes through a door into the bedroom. Marie is taking
off her earrings.

ROB
Would you like me to turn the lights
out? Or would you like them on?

MARIE
God, you ask a lot of questions.

INT. MARIE'S BEDROOM - MORNING

Rob stares at the ceiling as Marie sleeps on next to him.

ROB (V.O.)
But in the morning we were just two
people, slightly hung-over, who were
not in love, sharing the same space.
And I feel...

Rob looks to the camera.

ROB
Sex is about the only grown-up thing
that I know how to do; It's weird,
then, that it's the only thing that
can make me feel like a ten-year-
old.

CUT BACK TO:

EXT. MARIE'S APARTMENT - MORNING

The two of them come out of the building and into the street.

ROB
Which way are you going?

MARIE
(points left)
That way. You?

ROB
(points right)
That way.

MARIE
And so it is. I'll talk to you later.

ROB
I'll call you.

MARIE
(smiles)
Right.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Empty. Dick prices records out on the floor. Rob leans
against the register. Barry sits on a stool next to him.

They're top-fiving it. Rob's heart isn't in it.

ROB
Okay. Top five side one track ones.
Number one... "Janie Jones," the
Clash, from The Clash.

BARRY
Ehh.

ROB
"Thunder Road," Bruce Springsteen,
from Born to Run. "Smells Like Teen
Spirit," Nirvana, Nevermind.

BARRY
Oh no, Rob, that's not obvious enough.
Not at all. Dick, did you hear that?

ROB
Shut up. "Let's Get It On," Marvin
Gaye, from Let's Get It On. "Airbag,"
Radiohead, from OK Computer.

BARRY
(sarcastic)
Ooh! A kind of recent record! Rob's
sly declaration of new classic-status
slipped into a list of old classics!
Nice! "Let's Get It On?" Couldn't
you make it more obvious than that?

DICK
Rob. Phone.
(whispers)
It's Laura.

Rob springs to his feet, takes the phone and walks to the
end of the cord. Deep breath.

ROB
Hi.

LAURA - INTERCUT

LAURA
Hi. I've been looking for an envelope
of my receipts from last month and
I'm thinking I didn't take them with
me. Have you seen them around?

ROB
I'll look for 'em. How you doing?

LAURA
I'm sorry to call, but I need that
stuff...

ROB
Fine, I'm sure it's in the file at
home. I'll call you when I find it,
and then we'll talk.

LAURA
We'll talk some other time.

ROB
Great... That's great.

Rob comes back to the counter and hangs up the phone.

BARRY
Rob! What about the Beatles? What
about the fucking Rolling Stones?
What about fucking... fucking...
Beethoven? Track one side one of
the Fifth Symphony? You shouldn't
be allowed to run a record shop.
You shouldn't be allowed to --

SFX: BARRY'S VOICE FADES OUT. Rob's mouth slacks and he
stares off.

ROB (V.O.)
There's something different about
the sound of her voice... And what
did she mean last night, she hasn't
slept with him yet. Yet. What does
"yet" mean, anyway? "I haven't
seen... Evil Dead II yet." What does
that mean? It means you're going to
go, doesn't it?

SFX: BACK TO THE ROOM.

BARRY
-- You're like a little squirrel of
music, storing away dead little nuts
of old garbage music, musical lint,
old shit, shit, shit --

ROB
-- Barry, if I were to say to you I
haven't seen Evil Dead II yet, what
would that mean?

Barry just looks at Rob. He pulls out a Game Boy and begins
playing.

ROB
Just... come on, what would it mean
to you? That sentence? "I haven't
seen Evil Dead II yet?"

BARRY
To me, it would mean that you're a
liar. You saw it twice. Once with
Laura -- oops -- once with me and
Dick. We had that conversation about
the possibilities of the guy making
ammo off-screen in the Fourteenth
Century.

ROB
Yeah, yeah, I know. But say I hadn't
seen it and I said to you, "I haven't
seen Evil Dead II yet," what would
you think?

Barry shuts off the Game Boy.

BARRY
I'd think you were a cinematic idiot.
And I'd feel sorry for you.

ROB
No, but would you think, from that
one sentence. That I was going to
see it?

BARRY
I'm sorry, Rob, but I'm struggling
here. I don't understand any part
of this conversation. You're asking
me what I would think if you told me
that you hadn't seen a film that
you've seen. What am I supposed to
say?

ROB
Just listen to me. If I said to you --

BARRY
"-- I haven't seen Evil Dead II yet,"
yeah, yeah, I hear you --

ROB
Would you... would you get the
impression that I wanted to see it?

BARRY
Well... you couldn't have been
desperate to see it, otherwise you'd
have already gone...

Rob brightens. Barry finally considers.

BARRY
...But the word "yet..." Yeah, you
know what, I'd get the impression
that you wanted to see it. Otherwise
you'd say you didn't really want to.

ROB
But in your opinion, would I
definitely go?

BARRY
How the fuck am I supposed to know
that? You might get sick of people
telling you you've really gotta go
see the movie.

Rob darkens.

ROB
Why would they care?

BARRY
Because it's a brilliant film. It's
funny, violent, and the soundtrack
kicks fucking ass.

They look at each other for a strange moment.

BARRY
I never thought I would say this,
but can I go work now?

ROB
Let's pack it up. We haven't had a
customer in four hours.

Barry stands.

BARRY
Fine by me. I still want pay to 7
o'clock.

ROB
Ha.

DICK
I can't go to the club tonight, guys.

BARRY
Why?

Dick smiles sheepishly.

BARRY
Who are you going to see?

DICK
Nobody.

Barry's eyes widen.

BARRY
Rob, looky looky. Dick! Are you
getting some?!

Silence.

BARRY
Un-fucking-believable. Dick's out
on a hot date, Rob's boning Marie
LaSalle, and the best-looking and
most intelligent of all of us isn't
getting anything at all.

ROB
How do you know about that?

BARRY
Oh come on, Rob. What am I, an idiot?
I'm more bothered by Dick's thing.
How did this happen, Dick? What
rational explanation can there
possibly be? What's her name?

Barry is going a little hard. Dick shrinks back.

DICK
Anna.

BARRY
Anna who? Anna Green Gables? Anna
Conda?

DICK
Anna Moss.

BARRY
Anna Moss. Mossy. The Mossy Thing.
The Swamp Thing. Is she all green
and furry?

ROB
Shut the fuck up, Barry.

BARRY
Yeah, you would say that, wouldn't
you? You two have to stick together
now. Boners United. United in
getting some.

Barry picks up his bag and heads for the door.

ROB
Don't be sad, Barry. You'll find
true love someday.

BARRY
Suck my ass.

ROB
Terrific.

Rob looks to Dick, who looks guilty.

ROB
Don't worry about it, Dick. Barry's
an asshole.

DICK
Yeah... Well... I'll see you tomorrow,
Rob.

Dick exits. Rob watches the door close behind him, and looks
out over the empty store. He TALKS TO CAMERA as he goes to
the light switches and begins shutting them off, one by one...

ROB
Why does it bother Barry that much
that Dick is seeing someone? He's
worried about how his life is turning
out, and he's lonely, and lonely
people are the bitterest of them
all.

...until all the lights are out. Rob's silhouette slips out
the door.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

A downpour is on. Rob has himself wedged into a phone booth,
the little kind.

ROB
(into phone)
Hi. It's me... I'm right outside...
I know... I know... I figured I could
just walk you to the train and you
could go... home. Or whatever it
is... No! Of course not -- okay.
I'll be right here.

EXT. OFFICE BUILDING

Rob stands under the overhang, watching Laura walk the long
hallway from the elevators to the door.

ROB (V.O.)
Laura looks different. Less stress-
out, more in control. Something has
happened, maybe something real, or
maybe something in her head. Whatever
it is, you can see that she thinks
she's started out on some new stage
in her life. She hasn't. I'm not
going to let her.

She emerges from doors, says something to him and they start
walking, sharing her umbrella.

INT. OLDE TOWNE ALE HOUSE - NIGHT

Rob and Laura have just sat down in a booth.

LAURA
So, how are you?

ROB
Have you slept with him yet?

LAURA
I told you I slept with him.

ROB
No, not -- I mean have you, you know --

LAURA
Is that why you wanted to see me?

ROB
I guess.

LAURA
Oh, Rob. What do you want me to
say?

ROB
I want you to say that you haven't,
and I want it to be the truth.

She looks past him.

LAURA
I can't do that.

She starts to say something else but Rob is up and out.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob pushes through the rush hour raincoats, seeming to be
the only one going his way.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob is soaking, slumped in his chair, his headphones on and
the stereo lit up behind him. He talks a little loud, due
to the headphones.

ROB
Tonight we're gonna figure out the
five best angry songs about women.
Let's go...

He holds up a stack of records and CDs.

ROB
You kind of have to start with Elvis
Costello, but where? "Motel Matches?"
"I Want You?" "I Hope You're Happy
Now?" "Green Shirt?" His records
should be sealed in cases that say
"in case of vicious betrayal, smash
glass." "Where Did You Sleep Last
Night," sure, but by Robert Johnson
or by Nirvana? Maybe a Liz Phair
track. There are a couple to get
angry at instead of being angry with.
Some devil's advocate stuff. The
Silver Jews could be good when you're
ready to start putting it all behind
you... But I think we're getting
ahead of ourselves there. Ah. Dylan.
Bob fucking Dylan. Now Bob Dylan
would --The phone rings. He pulls
off his headphones and picks it up
but says nothing.

LAURA (O.S.)
You must have known it would happen.
You couldn't have been entirely
unprepared. Like you said, I've
been living with the guy. We were
bound to get around to it sometime.

She laughs a bit nervously.

LAURA (O.S.)
(machine)
And anyway, I keep trying to tell
you, that's not really the point, is
it? The point is we got ourselves
into an awful mess, Rob... Are you
there? What are you thinking?

ROB
(barely a whisper)
Nothing.

LAURA (O.S.)
We can meet for another drink if you
want. So I can explain it better.
I owe you that much.

ROB
Look, I gotta go. I work too, you
know.

LAURA (O.S.)
Will you call me?

ROB
I don't have your number.

LAURA (O.S.)
Call me at work. We can arrange to
meet properly. I don't want this to
be the last conversation we have. I
know what you're like.

ROB
You do, huh.

He hangs up and stares at the wall for awhile. He gets a
beer from the fridge and sits back down. He picks up the
phone and dials.

ROB
Yes, a residence, a Mr. Ian Raymond,
North Side... thank you.

He writes down a number and hangs up, then looks to camera.

ROB
You know the worst thing about being
rejected? The complete lack of
control due to loss of control.

He picks up the phone and dials, while continuing to talk to
us --

ROB
If I could only control the when and
how of being dumped by somebody then
it wouldn't seem as bad. But then,
of course --

He hangs up quickly --

ROB
-- it wouldn't be rejection, would
it? It would be mutual consent. It
would be musical differences. I
would be pursuing a solo career.

CUT TO:

EXT. IAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob is tucked into a phone booth across the street. He can
see the silhouettes of Laura and Ian in the window. He picks
up the phone, drops a quarter, and hits the numbers hard as
he dials... a muffled male "hello?" is heard and Rob hangs
up. He does it again. And again. And again. Until --

INT. IAN'S APARTMENT - INTERCUT

Still an unpacked box or two, but it's set up: a framed
"Woodstock - The Movie" poster, stacks of new fiction, a
bread maker -- you get the idea. Ian is shorter than Laura,
scruffier than Rob, and looks not unlike Leo Sayer/Steve
Guttenberg. He stares at Laura with amused exasperation.

She picks up the phone --

LAURA
Hello.

ROB
It's me.

LAURA
I figured it was.
(re: traffic noise)
Where are you?

ROB
I think the big question here is
where are you, if you don't mind my
saying so, and I think I know where
you are. You're running. On the
run. You're running from a point
that everyone hits in any
relationship, and you're just going
to hit it again with Ian but it's
going to be with a World Music bunny-
rabbit-looking earth-shoe-wearing
"Doctor Who"-watching twit who doesn't
really understand you, not the way
that I do and will more in the future,
and you'll have just wasted more
time and arrive in the exact same
place that you're in now, only later.
And with... him.

LAURA
I'm not -- hold on...

She walks into another room, shutting the door behind her.

On a bookshelf is a picture of a younger Ian in a tunic,
emoting on some college stage. She turns it face down.

LAURA
I'm not in love with Ian, okay?

She wanders over to the window, looking out absently. She
sees Rob down there at the phone booth.

ROB
Are you still in love with me?

LAURA
Jesus. I do not know. I'll talk to
you later.

ROB
Think about what I said. I mean, if
you want to experiment, or whatever --

LAURA
(indignant)
I'm not experimenting. Why don't
you go experiment.

ROB
I don't want to. Don't need to. I
love you.

LAURA
You don't ever think about other
people?

ROB
No... not really... I mean, I think
about it... but no, I don't really
think about it.

IAN (O.S.)
(through the door)
Laura? Are you okay?

LAURA
(covering the
mouthpiece, to Ian)
I am fine...
(to Rob)
I gotta go. Goodbye.

She clicks the phone off. The door cracks and Ian sticks
his head in.

IAN
Are you sure you're okay?

She moves past him back into the apartment.

LAURA
Yeah, I'm fine. I'm off the phone.

IAN
You look upset.

LAURA
I'm upset, but I'm fine.

IAN
Maybe I should talk to him.

LAURA
Mmmm, no. Not a good idea.

IAN
Conflict resolution is my job, Laura.

LAURA
Nothing to resolve, Ian. Let's get
a drink.

She grabs her coat and opens the door. The phone begins to
ring.

LAURA
(waving toward the
door)
C'mon, c'mon.

EXT. IAN'S APARTMENT

Rob stands on the sidewalk in the rain, Ian's building behind
him and down a few doors.

ROB
I wish I could be one of those guys
who doesn't call, the kind of guy
that gets broken up with and appears
not to give a shit. He doesn't make
an ass out of himself, or frighten
anybody, and this week I've done
both of those things. One day Laura's
sorry and guilty, and the next she's
scared and angry, and I'm entirely
responsible for the transformation,
and it doesn't do my case any good
at all. I'd stop if I could but I --

His head turns at the sharp SOUND of a door opening -- Ian
and Laura are coming out of the building. He jumps behind a
tree, peering around it as they fade down the street.

INT. GREEN MILL - NIGHT

Rob sits alone, nursing a scotch. Rob looks up into the
mirror behind the bar and sees an older woman, MRS. ASHWORTH,
sitting alone a few stools down.

ROB
Do I know you?

ALISON'S MOM
I don't know.

Rob remembers, and his gaze has a new found seriousness.

ROB
You're Mrs. Ashworth. I'm Rob. An
old boyfriend of you're daughter's.

Alison's Mom's brow furrows and her face darkens.

ROB
Alison's.

ALISON'S MOM
Really.

ROB
Long time ago. I was just thinking
about her. I was her first boyfriend.

ALISON'S MOM What did you say your name was?

ROB
Rob. Rob Gordon. Circa junior
high...

ALISON'S MOM
I hate to quibble with you Rob, but
she married her first boyfriend.
Kevin Bannister.

ROB
You gotta be kidding me.

ALISON'S MOM
That's right. Kevin. She's Mrs.
Kevin Bannister. She lives in
Australia.

She doesn't seem too happy that Alison lives in Australia.

Rob is thrilled.

ROB
Really? Married Kevin? Her junior
high sweetheart... What chance would
I have had against that? None, no
chance. That's just fate.

ALISON'S MOM
I beg your pardon?

ROB
Technically, I'm number one. I went
out with her a week before Kevin
did. Her first boyfriend. Me.

She stands.

ALISON'S MOM
Well Rob, I'll tell her you said
hello. If she remembers you.

Alison's Mom strolls out.

ROB
(calling after her)
I think she will. But it's okay if
she doesn't. I'm fine now.

Rob turns to the bartender, smiling giddily.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob walks through Uptown toward the train.

ROB
And suddenly I am fine. For the
moment there is not one extra pound
on my chest. This is fate. Alison
married Kevin. You get it? That's
fate. That's got nothing to do with
me, that is beyond my control, beyond
my fault...

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob into camera, digging through a box, fishing through
pictures and letters, concert tickets and other mementos.

He begins to assemble a small pile of pictures of women.

ROB
I want to see the others on the Big
Top Five. Penny, who wouldn't let
me touch her and then went and had
sex with that bastard Chris Thompson.
Sarah, my partner in rejection who
rejected me, and Charlie, who I have
to thank for everything: my great
job, my sexual self-confidence, the
works. There's this Springsteen
song, "Bobby Jean," off Born in the
USA. About a girl who's left town
years before and he's pissed off
because he didn't know about it, and
he wanted to say goodbye, tell her
that he missed her, and wish her
good luck. Well, I'd like my life
to be like a Springsteen song. Just
once. I know I'm not born to run,
and it's clear that Halsted Street
is nothing like Thunder Road, but
feelings can't be that different,
can they? I'd like to call up all
those people and ask them how they
are and whether they've forgiven me,
and tell them that I have forgiven
them. And say good luck, goodbye.
No hard feelings. And then they'd
feel good and I'd feel good. We'd
all feel good. I'd feel clean, and
calm, and ready to start again.
That'd be good. Great even.

CUT BACK TO:

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob holds an old crumpled address book in one hand and the
phone in the other.

ROB
Penny Hardwick? This is Rob Gordon...
From High school... Yeah.

EXT. MOVIE THEATER - NIGHT

Rob and Penny walk out of the theater mid-conversation.

They look happy as they walk down the street.

ROB (V.O.)
Penny is as beautiful as she was in
high school when I broke it off with
her because she wouldn't sleep with
me. In fact she's even more
beautiful, and really grown into
herself.

INT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT

A mid-scale trattoria. Rob and Penny sit at table laughing
and talking. If we didn't know better we might think there
is chemistry.

ROB (V.O.)
She tells me about her life, and I
get it. And I tell about mine, and
she's interested.

CLOSE-UP -- ROB TALKING

ROB (V.O.)
And then, with no real explanation,
I just launch into it: I tell her
about Laura and Ian, and Charlie and
Marco, and about Alison Ashworth and
Kevin Bannister...

ROB
...and you wanted to sleep with Chris
Thompson instead of me, and... and I
thought you could help me understand
why it keeps happening, why I'm doomed
to be left, doomed to be rejected
and...

He slows to a stop. We see Penny as she goes from happy to
livid.

PENNY
Rob. I was crazy about you. I wanted
to sleep with you, one day, but not
when I was sixteen. When you broke
up with me -- when you broke up with
me -- because I was, to use your
charming expression, tight, I cried
and cried and I hated you. And then
that little shitbag asked me out,
and I was too tired to fight him
off, and it wasn't rape because I
said okay, but it wasn't far off.
And I didn't have sex with anyone
else until after college because I
hated it so much. And now you want
to have a chat about rejection?
Well, fuck you, Rob.

Penny stands and leaves. Rob just sits.

ROB
(cheerful)
So that's another one I don't have
to worry about. I should have done
this years ago.

Rob indicates to an off-screen waiter.

ROB
Check...

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
Sarah's easy to find. She still
sends me Christmas cards with her
address and phone number on them.
They never say anything else, except
for "Merry Christmas, Love Sarah." I
send her equally blank ones back.

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWAY - NIGHT - ROB'S POV

of a door opening, revealing Sarah, a few years older but
still pretty in her mousey way. She looks at Rob with a bit
too much in her eyes.

INT. CARMEN'S PIZZA - NIGHT

Rob and Sarah face each other over a half-eaten pizza.

SARAH
I can't believe I left you for him...
Crazy.

Sarah looks down at her plate, shaking her head, blushing.

Rob looks uncomfortable. This is more than he was looking
for.

ROB
Well... probably seemed like a good
idea at the time.

She looks up again...

SARAH
Probably. I can't remember why,
though.

...and back down again.

ROB (V.O.)
I haven't got the heart for the
rejection conversation. There are
no hard feelings here, and I am glad
that she ditched me, and not the
other way around.

INT./EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWAY - NIGHT

Sarah, in the doorway, smiles painfully. It's clear she
doesn't want to shut the door, but she does. Rob turns and
walks down the hall toward the door to the street as he talks
TO CAMERA.

ROB
I could've ended up having sex back
there. And what better way to
exorcize rejection demons than to
screw the person who rejected you,
right? But you wouldn't be sleeping
with a person. You'd be sleeping
with a whole sad single-person
culture. It'd be like sleeping with
Talia Shire in "Rocky" if you weren't
Rocky.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

CLOSE-UP: PHONE BOOK

as Rob's finger moves down the column, then stops.

Rob looks up with a little shock, almost recoiling from the
phone book.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
Charlie's in the fucking phone book.
She has come to assume such an
importance, I feel she should be
living on Mars. She's an
extraterrestrial, a ghost, a myth,
not a person with an answering
machine, in the phone book... I call
and hang up on her voice mail a couple
of times, then I leave my name and
number and throw in a "long time-no-
see..." I don't hear anything back
from her for a few days. Now that's
more like it, if you're talking about
rejection: someone who won't even
return your phone messages a decade
after she rejected you.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob hears the door open as he stocks shelves, and turns.

It's Ian. Rob reacts, gunfighter eyes.

ROB
Can I help you?

IAN
Hello, Rob. Remember me? I'm Ray.
Ian.

Rob says nothing.

IAN
I thought maybe we should talk.
Sort a few things out?

Rob is disoriented on the way to angry. Dick and Barry's
ears perk up.

ROB
What needs sorting out?

IAN
Come on, Rob. My relationship with
Laura has obviously disturbed you a
great deal.

ROB
Funnily enough I haven't been too
thrilled about it.

IAN
We are not talking jokey
understatement here, Rob. We're
talking actionable harassment. Ten
phone calls a night, hanging around
outside my house...

ROB
Yeah, well, I've stopped all that
now.

IAN
We've noticed and we're glad. But,
you know... how are we going to make
peace here? We want to make things
easier for you. What can we do?
Obviously I know how special Laura
is, and I know things can't be good
for you at the moment. I'd hate it
if I lost her. But I'd like to think
that if she decided she didn't want
to see me anymore, I'd respect that
decision. Do you see what I'm saying?

ROB
Yeah.

IAN
Good. So shall we leave it at that
then?

ROB
I dunno.

IAN
Think about it, Rob.

CUT TO FANTASY #1:

Rob looking sure of himself, righteous.

IAN
Good. So shall we leave it at that
then?

ROB
I've already left it, you pathetic
rebound fuck! Now get your patchouli
stink out of my store.

Ian leaves, rattled.

CUT TO FANTASY #2:

Same thing.

IAN
Good. So shall we leave it at that
then?

ROB
We won't leave it, Ian. Not ever.

Rob springs toward Ian, but Barry blocks his way. Dick helps
hold Rob back.

DICK
Don't do it, Rob!

BARRY
He's not worth it!

Rob reaches a pointed finger over Barry's shoulder.

ROB
Leave town. Leave the country, you
little bitch, because you're gonna
look back on walks by the house and
ten phone calls a night as a golden
age. Get ready, mutherfucker.

Ian trips backward and scurries out the door.

CUT TO FANTASY #3:

Rob, Dick, and Barry just beating the living shit out of
Ian, Rodney King style. Ian lies on the floor trying to
cover himself. Dick, already out of breath, breaks from the
pack and jerks the air conditioner from the wall and hefts
it over his head, preparing for the death blow.

CUT BACK TO REALITY

IAN
So shall we leave it at that then?

ROB
I dunno.

IAN
Think about it, Rob.

Ian walks out. Rob looks spent. He shuffles toward the
back of the store.

INT. RECORD STORE - BACK ROOM - DAY

Rob is laying on his back, staring at the ceiling. Dick
sticks his head in the door.

DICK
Phone, Rob. Somebody named Charlie.

Rob pulls the phone into the bathroom and shuts the door.

BATHROOM
Rob curls up with the phone.

ROB
Hello?

INT. CHARLIE'S HOUSE - INTERCUT

Charlie looks even better than when we saw her in college.

CHARLIE
Rob, hi, so sorry I missed your call.
In LA on business. You know how it
gets.

ROB
Yeah, sure...

CHARLIE
Good. Great. Yeah... Wow. Rob
Gordon. Seems like a 100 million
years ago now.

ROB
Yeah. A billion. Right... How are
you?

CHARLIE
Fantastic but I'm a little busy right
now. Listen. Do you want to come
to dinner Saturday? I'm having some
friends over and I need a spare man.
Are you a spare man?

ROB
Uh...yes, at the moment.

CHARLIE
Great. Gotta go. See you then.

INT. CHARLIE'S DINING ROOM

SERIES OF SHOTS OVER THE COURSE OF DINNER

Sexy version of a hip wine commercial: a small mid-thirties
crowd of successful, beautiful people. Rob sits at the table
silently as the other guests talk and eat. Rob's central
activities are working his way through maybe a few too many
wines making sure his cigarette smoke doesn't get in anyone's
face. His eyes occasionally dart around the table, but he
says nothing to anyone.

CUT TO:

INT. CHARLIE'S LIVING ROOM - LATER

Rob is a little too settled into the couch, somewhat bleary.

Everyone gone but the two of them, Charlie plops down into a
chair across from Rob.

ROB
Hey Charlie.

CHARLIE
Hey Rob.

ROB
Why did you break up with me for
Marco?

CHARLIE
(on her feet)
Fuck! I knew it! You're going
through one of those what-does-it-
all-mean things.

ROB
Huh?

CHARLIE
There's been a rash of them, recently.
I find it a little unnerving. In
fact Marco called a few months back,
and he wanted to see me, and rehash
the past as they say, and I wasn't
really up for it. Do all men go
through this?

ROB
C'mon, just answer the question.
You can say what you like. What the
hell?

Charlie looks off at a corner of the ceiling, musters a look
of "contemplation."

CHARLIE
It's all kind of lost in the... in
the dense mists of time now... It
wasn't that I really liked Marco
more. In fact I thought you were
more, shall we say, attractive than
him. It was just that he knew he
was good-looking and you didn't, and
that made a difference somehow. You
used to act as if I was weird for
wanting to spend time with you, and
that got kind of beat, if you know
what I mean. Your self-image started
to rub off on me and I ended up
thinking that I was strange. And I
knew that you were kind and
thoughtful... you made me laugh, and
I dug the way you got consumed by
things you loved... and Marco seemed
a bit more, I don't know, glamorous?
More sure of himself?
(pause)
Less hard work, because I felt like
I was dragging you around, sort of.
(pause)
A little sunnier. Sparkier.
(pause)
I don't know. You know what people
are like at that age. They make
very superficial judgements. Do you
think that's superficial? He was a
clown, if it's any consolation.

ROB
Did you tell that to Marco when he
did his what-does-it-all-mean thing
with you?

CHARLIE
Oh God, no. I didn't want to hurt
his feelings.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
I wanted the works and I got it.
None of Alison Ashworth's fate, none
of Sarah's rewriting of history, and
no reminder that I'd got all the
rejection stuff a little backward,
like I did about Penny. Just a
perfectly clear explanation of why
some people have it and some don't.
All I've learned from Charlie is
that maybe my one talent, my genius
for being normal, is a little
overrated.

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob enters the already open store, in a bad mood, to find
Barry putting up a poster. It reads:

"BARRYTOWN/appearing Saturday night/Bucktown Pub"

BARRY
Hey.

ROB
What the fuck is that?

BARRY
My band.

ROB
What band?

BARRY
The band that found me and asked me
to join.

ROB
You are not in a band, Barry. You
are not a musician. And no posters.

BARRY
Thanks for your support, Rob. Really
appreciate it.

ROB
Barrytown. Barrytown? Is there no
end to your arrogance?

BARRY
I didn't make up the name. It's the
Steely Dan song. And it was in The
Commitments.

ROB
You can't be called Barry and sing
in a group called Barrytown.

BARRY
They were fucking called that before
I was in it, okay? It wasn't my
idea.

ROB
That's why you got the gig, isn't
it?

Barry says nothing.

ROB
Isn't it?

BARRY
That was one of the reasons they
asked me to join originally, yes.
But --

ROB
Great! That's fucking great! They
only asked you to sing because of
your name! You can stick it above
the browser racks over there.

BARRY
How many tickets can I put you down
for?

ROB
None. Christ!

BARRY
You're not even coming?

ROB
Of course I'm not coming. Do I look
like I'd want to listen to some
terrible experimental racket played
in some hideous cave? Where is it?
(looks at the poster)
The fucking Bucktown Pub? Ha!

BARRY
So much for friends, then. You're a
bitter bastard, Rob, you know that?

ROB
Bitter? Because I'm not in Barrytown?
You should be shot like a lame horse,
you jerk.
(re: the poster)
Just keep that out of my window.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob opens the door to find Laura filling a duffel bag in the
living room.

LAURA
I called and called but you were
out. I thought I'd be gone before
you got back.

ROB
Is that the last of it?

LAURA
Yep. I might have missed some stuff.
I'm so used to some things being
here that I don't even notice them.

ROB
Those look heavy. Where's Ian?

LAURA
He's at home. Listen, I can't believe
he went to the store. I'm mortified,
actually. I'm really sorry. He had
no right to do that, and I told him
so.

ROB
It was kind of funny.

They smile.

LAURA
I'm sure.

ROB
You still together? Going all right?

LAURA
I don't really want to talk about
it, to be honest.

ROB
That bad, eh?

LAURA
You know what I mean.

Rob flops onto the couch and surveys the room.

ROB
It's a dump, isn't it?

Laura sits down, on the other side of the couch.

LAURA
Fix it up. It'll make you feel
better.

ROB
I'll bet you can't remember what you
were doing here, can you? I mean,
how much are you making now? Sixty?
Seventy? And you were living in
this shitty place.

LAURA
You know I didn't mind. And it's
not as if Ray's place is any better.

ROB
I'm sorry, but can we get this
straight? What is his fucking name,
Ian or Ray? What do you call him?

LAURA
Ray. I hate Ian.

ROB
I hate him too. So I just call him
"Mavis." Or "Sissyboy." Or "Mavis
the Sissyboy."

Laura starts laughing, laying on the couch on her back, very
close to Rob. Rob leans in, sort of looking down into her
eyes.

ROB
This is where you're supposed to say
that you haven't laughed this much
in ages, and then you see the error
of your ways.

LAURA
You make me laugh much more than Ray
does, if that's what you're getting
at. But I already knew you could
make me laugh. It's everything else
I don't know about.

ROB
You know I'm a good person.

LAURA
Mmm hmm.

ROB
You know that I can cook my ass off
when I feel like it.

LAURA
Oh ho, so very infrequently.

He moves a little closer.

ROB
You know my favorite beverage is
your bath water.

She laughs. He moves in, not really trying to kiss her but
leaving the door open for her... She almost goes for it, but
instead gets to her feet.

LAURA
Time to go.

She goes to her bags. Rob points to a pile of CDs.

ROB
Don't forget your CDs.

LAURA
Those aren't mine.

ROB
Sure they are.

LAURA
They're not really, though, are they?
I know you bought them for me, and
that was really sweet of you, but
that was when you were trying to
turn me into you. I can't take them,
I know they'd just sit around staring
at me, and I'd feel embarrassed by
them and... they don't fit in with
the rest of what's mine, do you
understand? That Sting record you
bought for me... that was a present
for me. I like Sting and you hate
him. But the rest of this stuff...
(bending down to the
pile)
Who the hell is Nick Lowe? Or Gram
Parsons? Or the Boredoms? I don't
know these people. I...

ROB
Okay, okay. I get the picture.

LAURA
I'm sorry to go on about it. But, I
don't know, there's a lesson here
somewhere, and I want to make sure
you get it.

ROB
I got it. You like Sting but you
don't like Gram Parsons, because
you've never heard of him.

LAURA
You're being deliberately obtuse.

ROB
I guess I am.

LAURA
Well, think about it.

She hefts the duffel bag, opens the door and exits.

ROB
Fuck.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to the camera.

ROB
What's the point in thinking about
it? If I ever have another
relationship, I'll buy her, whoever
she is, stuff that she oughta like
but doesn't know about -- that's
what new boyfriends are for. And
hopefully I won't borrow money from
her, or have an affair, and she won't
need to have an abortion or run away
with the neighborhood, and then there
won't be anything to think about.
Laura didn't run off with Ian because
I bought her CDs she wasn't that
keen on, and to pretend otherwise is
just... just... psychowank. If she
thinks that, then she's missing the
Brazilian rainforest for the twigs.
If I can't buy the Plastic People of
the Universe's first album for new
girlfriends, then I might as well
give up, because I'm not sure I know
how to do anything else.

CUT TO:

EXT. STREET - MORNING

Rob walks toward the record store, and looks into a Starbuck's
window he passes. He stops for a second, seeing Ian at the
counter, chatting merrily with the espresso jockey. Rob
keeps walking.

INT. RECORD STORE - BACK ROOM - DAY

Rob tosses his coat down and picks up the phone and dials...

LAURA (O.S.)
(muffled, almost a
whisper)
Hello.

ROB
Hey, how ya doin'?

No answer.

ROB
Guess who I just saw, right by my
store? Ian. In Starbuck's. Neat,
huh?

LAURA (O.S.)
I can't talk right now.

ROB
God, that's a cold and a half. Maybe
you should bet back in bed.

No response.

ROB
Are you alright?

LAURA (O.S.)
Pigsty.

ROB
Don't worry about it. Just get into
bed. Worry about that when you're
better.

LAURA (O.S.)
Pig died.

ROB
Who the fuck's Pig?

LAURA (O.S.)
(louder)
My dad died. My dad, my dad.

She hangs up.

FRONT ROOM

Rob comes out of the back, in a daze. Dick and Barry notice.

BARRY
What's up?

ROB
Laura. Her dad died.

BARRY
Ooh. Drag.

Barry goes back to his comic book and burrito.

DICK
I'm sorry, Rob, that's, it's --

ROB
You're a horrible person, Barry. I
mean it.

Barry looks up at him, shrugs, then gets an idea.

BARRY
Hey. Top five songs about death. A
Laura's Dad Tribute list.

Nobody can help thinking about it.

BARRY
Okay, okay -- "Leader of the Pack."
The guy fucking cracks up on a cycle
and dies right? "Dead Man's Curve,"
Jan and Dean...

DICK
Did you know that after that song
was recorded, Jan himself crashed
his --

BARRY
-- It was Dean, you fucking idiot.

ROB
It was Jan, and it was a long time
after--

BARRY
Whatever. Okay. "Tell Laura I Love
Her." That'd bring the house down.
Laura's mom could sing it.

ROB
Fuck off, Barry.

BARRY
I'd want "One Step Beyond" by Madness.
And "You Can't Always Get What You
Want."

ROB
Because it's in The Big Chill.

BARRY
Haven't seen it.

ROB
Liar. We saw it in the Lawrence
Kasdan double-bill with Body Heat.

BARRY
Oh. Right. But I'd forgotten about
that. I wasn't biting the idea.

ROB
Not really.

The phone RINGS. Rob picks it up.

ROB
Record Exchange.

INTERCUT - IAN'S APARTMENT

Laura is curled up on the couch. Dick and Barry keep listing.

LAURA
I'm sorry.

ROB
No, no. When are you going home?

LAURA
In a minute. When I get it together.

BARRY
(to Dick)
What about Sabbath? Or Nirvana?
They're into death.

Rob tries to signal to them to shut up but they don't see
him. He moves as far away as the cord will let me.

ROB
Can I do anything?

DICK
"Abraham, Martin, and John." That's
a nice one.

BARRY
"Somebody's Gonna Die" by Blitz.
"Bella Lugosi's Dead," Bauhaus.
It's got that creepy Halloween
feeling.

LAURA
No. No. Mom wants you to come to
the funeral. It's on Friday.

ROB
Me?

LAURA
My dad liked you. And Mom never
told him we'd split, because he wasn't
up to it and... oh, I don't know. I
don't really understand it. I think
she thinks he'll be able to see what's
going on. It's like...
(small laugh)
He's been through so much, what with
dying and everything, that she doesn't
want to upset him any more than she
has to.

ROB
Do you want me to be there?

LAURA
I don't care. As long as you don't
expect me to hold your hand.

Rob is silent.

LAURA
Look, are you coming or not?

ROB
Yes, of course.

LAURA
Liz'll give you a lift. She knows
where to go and everything... I don't
have time to talk, Rob. I've got
too much to do.

ROB
Sure. I'll see you on Friday.

She hangs up.

BARRY
(to the tune of "Candle
In the Wind")
"Goodbye Laura's dad/blah blah la di
da di da/
(belting it out)
Seems to me/you lived your life/like
a dentist in the wind...

Rob stomps toward Barry, who jumps over the counter to keep
singing --

INT. LIZ'S CAR - DAY

THUNDERCLAPS and RAIN. Rob is in a somber suit, looking
through the windshield wipers as Liz drives.

ROB
So the minister says nice things,
and then, what, we all troop outside
and they bury him?

LIZ
It's a crematorium.

ROB
You're kidding. A crematorium?
Jesus.

LIZ
What difference does it make?

ROB
Is Ray going?

LIZ
No. They don't know him. And Ken
liked you. Rob, Ken didn't die for
your benefit, you know. It's like
everybody's a supporting actor in
the film of your life story.

ROB
Isn't that how it is for everybody?

INT. CHAPEL TWO

Liz and Rob sit in the back of the dark, smallish
nondenominational room. At the front is a coffin, resting
on a stand. Laura, her younger sister JO, and her mother
sit in the front row, listening to the MINISTER.

MINISTER
...Now and forever, Amen.

He nods "offstage," and a muffled mechanical noise is heard.

The coffin begins to lower through a trap door beneath it.

A low, baleful human HOWL is heard, starting quietly but
gaining in volume.

ROB (V.O.)
I hear something in Laura's voice,
but I know what it is, and at that
moment I want to go to her and offer
to become a different person, to
remove all trace of what is me, as
long as she will let me look after
her and try to make her feel better...

INT. CHAPEL PARLOR

Rob stays back, watching mourners approach Laura and her
mother, hugging them. After awhile, Laura sees Rob through
the throng, hanging back. She breaks through and to him,
holding him close for a long time...

ROB (V.O.)
...And when she let's go of me, I
feel I don't need to become a
different person. It's happened
already.

INT. LAURA'S PARENTS' HOUSE - AFTERNOON

A cozy old Victorian house, full of things -- furniture,
paintings, ornaments, plants -- which don't go together but
which have obviously been chosen with care and taste. Rob
and Liz stand, drinking wine. Jo approaches them.

LIZ
(to Jo)
How are you?

JO
I'm all right, I suppose. And Mom's
not too bad. But Laura... I dunno.

LIZ
She's had a pretty rough few weeks
already, without this. It's hard
when you're putting all of your
efforts into one part of your life
and it doesn't work out.

She glances at Rob, embarrassed.

ROB
(sincere)
Don't mind me. No problem. Just
pretend you're talking about somebody
else.

Jo smiles, Liz gives him a look.

LIZ
We are talking about somebody else.
Laura. Laura and Ray, actually.

Rob begins to turn red. Anger, sorrow, everything else
building.

ROB
Enough, Liz.

LIZ
Enough of what?

ROB
(getting louder)
I know I can't speak now because
Laura's father died, and I just have
to take it because otherwise I'm a
bad guy, with the emphasis on guy,
self-centered. Well, I'm fucking
not, not all the time, anyway, I'm
really sorry Jo.
(lowering his voice)
But you know, Liz... I can either
stick up for myself or believe
everything you say about me and end
up hating myself. And maybe you
think I should, but it's not much of
a life, you know?

LIZ
Maybe I've been a little unfair.
But is this really the time?

ROB
Only because it's never the time. I
can't go on apologizing my whole
life, you know?

LIZ
If by "we" you are referring to men,
then I have to say that just the
once would do.

Rob looks around the room, beginning to hyperventilate and
near tears. He sees Laura in a corner of the room surrounded
by four or five mourners. He crosses to them and breaks
through to her.

ROB
I'm sorry.

He breaks away from her and slips out the front door.

EXT. SUBURBAN STREET - AFTERNOON

So darkened by weather that it is almost night, raining
torrents and big sheets. Rob emerges from the front door of
Laura's parents' house and begins walking down the street,
hands thrust into his pockets. The rain almost immediately
soaks him.

EXT. ANOTHER STREET

In the distance, Rob runs toward us. As he gets to us we
move with him down the street. He is drenched. We hear the
rain, and his ragged breath. Headlights appear behind him
and backlight him, getting brighter as the sound of an engine
gets louder. Rob takes a look over his shoulder, looks
desperately left and right, and vaults himself over a small
brick wall and into a flower bed, landing on his back in the
black wet earth.

The big drops of rain splash mud on his face, and he burrows
deeper into the dirt and flowers with his back, panting and
staring up at the sky. Off-camera the car engine catches
up, and a door opens and shuts. He sighs and shuts his
eyes...

He opens his eyes again, to see Laura's face, wet as well,
staring down at him. It is difficult to distinguish rain
from tears.

LAURA
Are you going to lie in that flower
bed all night?

ROB
Uh... No.

But Rob keeps lying there. Laura pulls herself to a sitting
position on the wall just above him.

LAURA
You're soaking.

ROB
Mmnn.

LAURA
You're also an idiot.

Rob pulls his muddy self to his feet and sits on the wall
next to her.

ROB
I can see why you say that. Look,
I'm sorry. I really am. The last
thing I wanted was... that's why I
left, because... I lost it, and I
didn't want to blow my top in there,
and... look, the reason I fucked
everything up was because I was
scared. I just wanted you to know,
that's all.

LAURA
Thank you. I appreciate it. I can't
reciprocate.

ROB
What do you mean?

LAURA
I didn't mess things up because I
was scared. I slept with Ray because
I was sick of you. And I needed
something to snap me out of it.

ROB
Sure, I understand. Look, I don't
want to take up any more of your
time. You get back, and I'll wait
here for a bus.

LAURA
I don't want to go back.

ROB
What do you want to do?

LAURA
C'mon.

They swing their legs over the wall and walk to Laura's VW.

INT. LAURA'S CAR - NIGHT

They drive sort of aimlessly through Laura's old neighborhood.
Laura sees something on her left, and makes a sudden turn up
a narrow road through some overgrown trees. They come to a
stop in a formerly paved clearing, looking out on a field
with an old abandoned school on the other side. Laura shuts
down the engine.

ROB
When are you going back?

LAURA
I don't know. Sometime. Later.
Listen, Rob, would you have sex with
me?

ROB
What?

LAURA
I want to feel something else than
this. It's either that or I go home
and put my hand in the fire. Unless
you want to stub cigarettes out on
my arm.

ROB
I've only got a couple left. I'm
saving them for later.

LAURA
It'll have to be sex, then.

She pulls herself over him, staddling him in the passenger
seat and kissing his neck. She pauses and regards him from
above.

LAURA
Hello. It doesn't seem so long ago
that I looked at you from here.

ROB
Hi.

LAURA
I knew there was a reason I wore a
skirt today.

Laura reaches down and unzips his pants, as they keep kissing.

ROB
You know, with Ray...

LAURA
Oh, Rob, we're not going to go through
that again.

ROB
No, no. It's not... are you still
on the pill?

LAURA
Yes, of course. There's nothing to
worry about.

ROB
I didn't mean that. I mean... was
that all you used?

Laura looks at him, motionless, then begins to cry.

ROB
Look, we can do other things.

LAURA
I lived with you. You were my partner
just a few weeks ago and now you're
worried I might kill you, and you're
entitled to worry. Isn't that a
terrible thing? Isn't that sad?

She rolls off of him into her seat. They sit there in
silence, watching the rain run down the windshield.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
Later, I wonder if I was really
worried about where Ian has been. I
have no idea where he's been, and
that gives me every right to insist
on protection. But in truth, it was
the power that interested me more
than the fear. I wanted to hurt
her, on this day of all days, just
because it's the first time since
she's left that I've been able to.

INT. BAR - LATER

Rob and Laura lean back in a booth, facing each other. We
get that feeling that not another word has been spoken since
we last saw them.

ROB
Laura...

LAURA
I'm too tired not to go out with
you.

Rob leans forward.

ROB
So if you had a bit more energy we'd
stay split. But things being how
they are, what with you wiped out,
you'd like us to get back together.

LAURA
(nodding)
Everything's too hard. Maybe another
time I would have the guts to be on
my own, but not now I don't.

ROB
What about Ian?

LAURA
Ray's a disaster. I don't know what
that was all about, except that
sometimes you need someone to lob
into the middle of a bad relationship
like a hand grenade, I guess, and
blow it all apart.

ROB
Mission accomplished.

LAURA
I know it's not very romantic, but
there will be romance again at some
stage, I'm sure. I just... I need
you, Rob. That's it. And we know
each other and we care for each other,
and you've made it clear that you
want me back, so...

She looks up at him.

LAURA
Let's go home. Okay?

ROB
Okay.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
But wouldn't you know it? Suddenly
I feel panicky, and sick, and I want
to run around and sleep with female
recording artists...

CUT TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - MORNING

Post-lovemaking. Rob and Laura lie on their backs.

ROB
C'mon. I want to know.

LAURA
Want to know what, exactly?

ROB
What it was like.

LAURA
It was like sex. What else could it
be like?

ROB
Was it like good sex or was it like
bad sex?

LAURA
What's the difference?

ROB
You know the difference.

LAURA
Look, we're okay now. We just had a
nice time. Let's leave it at that.

ROB
Okay, that's cool, okay. But the
nice time we just had... was it nicer,
as nice, or less nice than the nice
times you were having a couple of
weeks ago?

Laura is silent.

ROB
Oh, c'mon, Laura. Just say something.
Lie, if you want. It'd stop me asking
you questions and it'd make me feel
better.

LAURA
Well I was gonna lie and now I can't,
because you'd know I was lying.

ROB
Well why the fuck would you want to
lie, anyway?

LAURA
To make you feel better.

ROB
Oh, great...

Rob begins to get out of bed. She grabs his hand and pulls
him back down.

LAURA
Look, Rob. If great sex was as
important as you think it is, and if
I was having great sex with him,
then we wouldn't be lying here now.
And that is my last word on the
subject, okay?

ROB
Okay.

She pulls him close and they lie there, the matter seemingly
settled.

LAURA
I wish your penis was as big as his,
though.

He turns slowly to her. A giggle from her turns into a laugh,
then a howl, a roar --

EXT. LAKEFRONT - TWILIGHT

Rob and Laura walk the cement breakfront.

LAURA
... Like Mexico. Or Jamaica. Or
New York, even.

ROB
Hey, great idea. What I'll do is,
tomorrow I'll get a hold of a box
full of mint Elvis Presley 78s on
the Sub label, and I'll pay for it
that way.

LAURA
I'll pay for you. Even though you
owe me money. We have to do something
with the money I earn. I need to.
I deserve it. You can just think of
it as winning the lottery.

ROB
Fantastic. The Girlfriend Lottery.

LAURA
Money does not matter. I do not
care how much you earn. I'd just
like you to be a little happier in
your work, but beyond that you can
do what you like.

ROB
But it wasn't supposed to be like
this. When I met you we were the
same people and now we're not, and...

LAURA
How? How were we the same people?

ROB
Well, you were the kind of person
who came to the Artful Dodger and I
was the kind of person who deejayed
at the Artful Dodger. You wore jeans
and T-shirts, and so did I. And I
still do, and you don't.

LAURA
Because I'm not allowed to. I still
do, after work. So, what? Should
we just break up? Is that what you're
saying? Because if you are, I'm
going to run out of patience.

ROB
No, but...

LAURA
But what?

ROB
But why doesn't it matter that we're
not the same people we used to be?

LAURA
You haven't changed so much as a
pair of socks in the years I've known
you. If we've grown apart, then I'm
the one who's done the growing, and
all I've done is change jobs.

ROB
And hairstyles and clothes and
attitude and friends and...

LAURA
I can't go to work with my hair dyed
pink. And I can afford to go shopping
more now, and I've met a couple people
I like over the last year or so.

ROB
You're tougher.

LAURA
More confident, maybe.

ROB
Harder.

LAURA
Less neurotic. Are you intending to
stay the same for the rest of your
life?

ROB
I'm alright.

LAURA
Yeah, you're alright. But you're
certainly not happy. So what happens
if you get happy? And yes I know
that's the title of an Elvis Costello
album, I use the reference
deliberately to catch your attention.
Should we split up because I'm used
to you being miserable? What happens
if you, I don't know, start you're
own record label, and it's a success?
Time for a new girlfriend?

ROB
You're being stupid.

LAURA
How? What would be the difference
between you having a record label
and me going from legal aid to private
practice?

Rob is silent.

LAURA
All I'm saying is, you have to allow
for things to happen to people, most
of all to yourself. Otherwise, what's
the use?

ROB
No use.

INT./EXT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob comes out of the stock room and walks toward the counter
where Dick and Barry stare at the tape deck like two concerned
doctors, listening to a song that is raw and moody and lyrical --
Minor Threat meets Brian Eno, if that's possible. Rob joins
them in contemplation.

ROB
What is this.

DICK
It's Vince and Justin.

ROB
Who's that?

BARRY
The little skate-fuckers.

ROB
No way.

BARRY
Yes way. It's really...

Rob and Dick look at him, ready to pounce --

BARRY
(pained to say it)
It's really fucking good.

Dick and Barry look to Rob, who continues to just listen...

He takes a deep breath and walks to the front door and out,
seemingly with a mission.

Vince and Justin are doing noisy skate tricks against the
curb across the street. When they see Rob they stop, get
ready to flee. He walks across to them. Dick comes out and
hovers in the background.

ROB
Your tape. It's good.

They mumble thanks.

ROB
It's rough. But it shows promise.
We record a couple of songs right,
in a studio. I'll take care of the
rest. I'll put out your record.
Any profits after recouping expenses
get split down the middle, between
us and you guys.

VINCE
Wait a minute. Island Records charged
U2 a million five against their
overhead for one plane ride.

ROB
We're not there yet, Justin.

VINCE
I'm Vince.

ROB
Whatever.

He begins to move toward the store. Vince and Justin look
at each other. Rob gets to the door but stops and turns.

ROB
Hey. What's the name of your band?

JUSTIN
The Kinky Wizards.

ROB
What?

VINCE
We saw this ad in the personals for
two swingers lookin' for a Renaissance
fair.

ROB
Nice.

VINCE
What's the name of your label?

Rob looks at them. Then at Dick. Then through the window
at Barry, inside looking out. Then at his own reflection in
the window. Then back at them.

ROB
Broken Records. Welcome aboard.

Rob walks back inside. He seems to be shaking a little.

BARRY
What the fuck is that?

ROB
What?

BARRY
I heard you, man. Don't give me
that "what" shit. You just told
them that you're gonna put out a
record with them.

ROB
So? You even said they're good.

BARRY
HELLO. DO YOU SEE ANYONE ELSE around
here with a band, Mr. Branson? Mr.
Phil Spector?

Rob waves him off and disappears into the stock room. Laura
enters.

LAURA
Hey, Barry.

BARRY
Oh, hi.

LAURA
Where's Rob?

BARRY
The Malcolm McClaren of Clark Street
is in his executive suite. Do you
have an appointment?

LAURA
What are you talking about?

BARRY
Just that Rob seems to think it would
be wiser to start a record label by
putting out a record with business-
crippling Nazi Youth shoplifters
than with someone he knows in his
bitter jealous heart is a musical
visionary. That's all.

Laura puts it together, and smiles. She goes to the back
and crack the door, finding Rob sitting on a box, thinking.

ROB
Hi.

LAURA
Hi. What are you doing?

ROB
Nothing.

LAURA
Wanna go to dinner?

ROB
Where?

LAURA
At Paul and Miranda's. Paul from
work.

ROB
Oh. Well. We don't really get along.
Paul and I.

LAURA
I know. But you've never met. It
just seems like a stone unturned in
your relationship with him.

ROB
Ha.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
We're at a point where I can't really
walk away from gauntlets she might
throw down, and so I go. And wouldn't
you know it, I sort of fall in love
with Paul and Miranda -- with what
they have, and the way they treat
each other, and the way they make me
feel as if I'm the new center of
their world. I think they're great,
and I want to see them twice a week,
every week, for the rest of my life.
Only right at the end of the evening
do I realize I've been set up.

INT. PAUL AND MIRANDA'S LIVING ROOM - LATER

After dinner. Rob ambles in from the dining room. Laura
close behind. He looks through the bookshelves until he
finds a meager little grouping of CDs. He moves up to them
and scans the titles: Tina Turner. Billy Joel. Kate Bush.
Pink Floyd. Simply Red. The Beatles. The Windham Hill
Sampler...

PAUL
Lame, right?

Rob turns around to see PAUL behind him.

ROB
Oh, I don't know. The Beatles are
okay.

Paul laughs.

PAUL
We're kinda out of date.

ROB
Hey, to each his own, I say.

PAUL
Maybe we can come by your store and
you can hook us up.

ROB
Sure, sure. Any time.

LAURA
Better hurry, though, Paul. Rob
started a record label, so he's gonna
be in the shop less and less.

Rob looks at her.

CUT TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

as they come in the door.

LAURA
..."To each his own!" Unbelievable!
You! Rob Gordon said that. You
even sounded like you meant it.

They throw their jackets over a chair. Rob turns on the CD
player and "Call Me A Liar" by Palace begins to play.

ROB
(smiling)
You did that deliberately. You knew
all along I'd like them. It was a
trick.

LAURA
I tricked you into meeting some people
you'd think were great. I thought
it would be fun to introduce you to
someone with a Tina Turner album and
then see whether you still felt the
same way.

She moves to Rob and wraps her arms around him. They look
deeply at each other. She breaks away from him and walks
into the bedroom. He turns off the stereo and follows her.

EXT. CLARK STREET - MORNING

Rob walks to work, drinking his coffee. He stops and backs
up a few feet, and stares at a poster on a plywood board-up.

"'I SOLD MY MOM'S WHEELCHAIR'/the debut single from The Kinky
Wizards/on Broken Records/Record release party July 20 at
The Artful Dodger/Featuring the triumphant return of DJ ROB
GORDON/"Dance Music For Old People"

Rob scowls, and storms off.

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob paces, Laura sits on the couch, smiling.

LAURA
I called Dan Koretzky because he --

ROB
Has Drag City Records, I know, I
know. You told Dan Koretzky about
this?

LAURA
Yeah, and he said it's a good way to
break out a record. Especially for
what he said, and I quote, "would be
a highly anticipated event, locally."
He helped me put out a press release.

ROB
WHAT?

LAURA
Just local, of course.

ROB
And the "triumphant return of DJ Rob
Gordon?" "Triumphant?" "Return?"

LAURA
I had that idea when I was living
with Ian and it was such a good idea
that I was annoyed we weren't together
anymore. It might even be why I
came back.

ROB
You had no right. Supposing I was
doing something that couldn't be
cancelled?

LAURA
What do you ever do that can't be
cancelled?

ROB
That's not the point. I mean, what
if the single isn't done in time?

LAURA
Barry said its done.

ROB
Barry? Barry knows about this?

LAURA
Yeah. His band is playing a set.

Rob wheels on her.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob and Barry.

ROB
Like fuck you are.

BARRY
Laura said we could. If we helped
out with the posters and stuff. And
we did. And we are.

ROB
I'll give you 10% of the door if you
don't play.

BARRY
We're getting that anyway.

ROB
What is she doing? Okay, 20%.

BARRY
No. We need the gig.

ROB
110%. That's my final offer. I'm
not kidding. That's how much it
means to me not to hear you play.

BARRY
We're not as bad as you think, Rob.

ROB
You couldn't be. Look, Barry.
There's going to be people from
Laura's work there, people who own
dogs and babies and Tina Turner
albums. How are you going to cope
with them?

BARRY
We're not called Barrytown anymore,
by the by. They got sick of the
Barry/Barrytown thing. We're called
SDM. Sonic Death Monkey.

ROB
Sonic Death Monkey.

BARRY
What do you think? Dick likes it.

ROB
Barry, you're over thirty years old.
You owe it to yourself and your
friends and to your parents not to
sing in a group called Sonic Death
Monkey.

BARRY
I owe it to myself to go right to
the edge, Rob, and this group does
exactly that. Over the edge, in
fact.

ROB
You'll be going over the fucking
edge if you come anywhere near me
next Friday night.

BARRY
That's what we want. Reaction. And
if Laura's bourgeois lawyer friends
can't take it, then fuck 'em. Let
'em riot, we can handle it. We'll
be ready.

Barry wanders off laughing.

CUT TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - DAY

Rob and Laura.

LAURA
They'll go on early. Nobody will
even be there yet and I told them
they can't play for more than a half
hour.

ROB
It's no joke. I'm responsible for
what happens, you know. Embarrassment
aside, there's a lot of money and
effort in this, at least by my
standards. I have to put down a
deposit for the room. I have to pay
the pressing plant for the records,
sleeve them, sticker them --

LAURA
We took care of that.

Rob's brow furrows.

LAURA
Barry and Dick and me. Look in the
bedroom.

Rob goes to the bedroom door and opens it. It's sort of
like Christmas: hundreds of Kinky Wizards CD singles,
painstakingly packaged and stacked on the bed.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
I suddenly feel choked up. It's not
the money, it's the way she's thought
of everything: one morning I woke up
to find her going through my records,
pulling out things that she remembered
me playing when I deejayed and putting
them into the little carrying cases
that I used to use and put away in a
closet somewhere years ago. She
knew I needed a kick in the ass.
She also knew how happy I was when I
used to deejay. From which every
angle I examine it, it still looks
as though she's done all of this
because she loves me.

CUT BACK TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT

Rob turns from the bedroom and goes to Laura, putting his
arms around her.

ROB
I'm sorry I've been acting like a
jerk. I do appreciate what you've
done for me, and I know you've done
it for the best possible reasons,
and I do love you, even though I act
like I don't.

LAURA
That's okay. You seem pissed off
all the time, though.

ROB
I know. I don't get it.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
But if I had to take a wild guess,
I'd say that I'm pissed because I
know I'm stuck with Laura, bound to
her, and I don't like it. That dreamy
anticipation you have when you're
fifteen or twenty or thirty even,
that the most perfect person in the
world might walk into your store or
office or friend's party at any
moment... That's all gone, I think,
and that's enough to piss anybody
off. Laura is who I am now, and
it's no good pretending otherwise...

CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob is standing shelves. A very pretty young woman, CAROLINE,
comes through the door and looks around. She sees Rob.

CAROLINE
Excuse me?

Rob looks up and takes her in like a dish in a window.

ROB
May I help you?

CAROLINE
I'm looking for Deejay Rob Gordon.

ROB
Uh. That's me.

CAROLINE
I'm Caroline Fortis from The Reader.
I want to do a story on you.

ROB
Right. Why?

CAROLINE
Well, I used to go to the Dodger on
your nights, and I saw you're doing
it again and that your putting out a
record, and it's sort of a then-and-
now story against the backdrop of
the Chicago music scene with the
emphasis on now.

ROB
Oh. Okay.

CAROLINE
I thought I would ask you a few
questions if that's okay.

ROB
Huh. You used to come to the club?
I shouldn't have let you in. You
must have only been about sixteen.

Rob realizes what he must be sounding like. He blushes and
retreats.

ROB
What I mean is, I didn't mean you
look young. You don't. You don't
look old either. You look just as
old as you are. A bit younger maybe,
but not a lot. Not much. Just right.

CAROLINE
So. Is now a good time?

Rob looks around: there is absolutely nothing going on in
the store. He nods. She pulls out a pad and pencil.

CAROLINE
Right. So. You must have an enormous
record collection.

ROB
Yeah. I could show it to you if you
want to come over and see it.

He winces immediately.

CAROLINE
Yeah, well... Let's see... What are
you're all-time top five records?

ROB
Pardon me?

CAROLINE
Your desert island top-five.

ROB
Oh boy... In the club, or at home?

CAROLINE
Is there a difference?

ROB
(a little too shrill)
OF COURSE... Well yeah, a bit. "Sin
City" by the Flying Burrito Brothers
is an all-time top five, but I
wouldn't play it at the club. It's
a country-rock ballad. Everybody'd
go home.

CAROLINE
Nevermind. Any five. So four more.

ROB
What do you mean, four more?

CAROLINE
Well if one of them is this "Sin
City" thing --

ROB
Can I go home and work this out and
let you know? In a week or so?

CAROLINE
Look if you can't think of anything,
it doesn't matter. I'll do one. My
five favorite from the old days at
the Dodger.

Rob is aghast, humiliated, quietly outraged.

ROB
Oh, I'm sure I can manage something...
"Sin City." "New Rose," by The Damned.
"Hit It and Quit It" by Funkadelic.
"Shipbuilding," Elvis Costello,
Japanese import, no horns, or
different horns, anyway... um...
"Mystery Train" by Elvis Presley...
And... "Spaced Cowboy" by Sly and
the Family Stone. A bit
controversial, I know, but...

CAROLINE
Fine. That's great.

ROB
Is that it?

CAROLINE
Well, I wouldn't mind a quick chat,
if you got the time.

ROB
Sure, but is that it for the list?

CAROLINE
That's five. So. Why did you decide
to deejay again?

ROB
Well it was a friend's idea, really,
and the record release party seemed
like a good place to do it. So...
(looking over her pad
at the list)
I should really put a James Brown in
there --

CAROLINE
Nice friend.

ROB
Yeah.

CAROLINE
What's his name?

ROB
Who? Oh. My friend. My friend is
Laura. A girl. A friend who's a
girl.

CAROLINE
"Music for Old People." What does
that mean?

ROB
Look, I'm sorry about this, but I'd
like "the Upsetter" by Lee "Scratch"
Perry, in there. Instead of "Sin
City."

She scribbles and writes.

CAROLINE
Okay. "Dance Music For Old People?"

ROB
Oh, you know... a lot of people aren't
too old for clubs but they're too
old for acid jazz and garage and
ambient and all that. They want to
hear old funk and Stax and New Wave
and Old School Hip Hop and some new
stuff all together and there's nowhere
for them.

CAROLINE
And the new label? And the Kinky
Wizards?

ROB
Oh, well, the Kinky Wizards are --
you know what? Why don't I just
make you a tape?

CAROLINE
Would you? Really? Wow. I could
have deejay Rob Gordon play in my
own home.

ROB
Haha. Right. It's no problem. I
love making tapes.

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
A good compilation tape, like breaking
up, is hard to do and takes ages
longer than it might seem. You gotta
kick off with a killer, to hold the
attention. Then you have to take it
up a notch, but not blow your wad,
so maybe cool it off a notch, and
you can't put the same artist twice
on the tape, except if some subtle
point or lesson or theme involved,
and even then not the two of them in
a row, and you can't woo somebody
with Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow
Taxi" and then bash their head off
with something like GBH's "City Baby
Attacked by Rats," and... oh, there
are a lot of rules. Anyway, I worked
hard at this one.

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - DAY

Rob sits Indian-style on the floor in front of the stereo.

He has a pad of paper with scrawled titles and cross-outs,
and is surrounded by piles of CDs and records.

LAURA
Who's that for?

Rob winces, turns. He's busted.

ROB
This? Oh, just that woman who
interviewed me for The Reader. Carol?
Caroline? Something like that.

Laura turns and walks out of the room.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob is tucked into the corner, on the phone.

ROB
Hi, Caroline... Oh, it's Rob. Yeah,
listen, I have a new list for you
and -- Oh. Yes. Of course... Well
maybe next week they could print a,
uh, retraction. Or a correction.
Because the list I have now it really
much more -- right. Okay. Anyway,
I have your tape. That's right.
Shall I mail it to you? Or... would
you like to have a drink?

CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

ROB
How are you not going to fall for
someone who wants to interview you?
Now Caroline is all I can think about.
And in the daydreams I imagine every
detail, the entire story of our future
relationship, until suddenly I realize
that there's nothing left to actually,
like, happen. I've done it all,
lived through it all in my head. I
know the whole plot, the ending, and
the good parts. Now I'd have to
watch it all over again in real time,
and where's the fun in that? And
fucking--when is it all going to
stop? Am I going to jump from rock
to rock for the rest of my life until
there aren't any rocks left? Am I
going to bolt every time I get itchy
feet? Because I get them about once
a quarter, along with the store's
tax bill. I've been thinking with
my guts since I was fourteen years
old and, frankly speaking, I've come
to the conclusion that my guts have
shit for brains. You know what's
wrong with Laura, what my problem
is? What's wrong with Laura is that
I'll never see her for the first or
second or third time. That's all.
Fuck it. I'll probably mail the
tape. Probably.

CUT TO:

INT. NORTH SIDE TAVERN - DAY

Rob sits at a table in the bar, nervous. He watches the
door, sits up straight when it opens, and follows someone
with his eyes, all the way to his table. She sits. It's
Laura.

LAURA
A drinking lunch on a school day.
What a nice surprise.

Rob says nothing.

LAURA
Are you worried about tomorrow night?

ROB
Not really.

He plays with his drink.

LAURA
Are you going to talk to me, or shall
I get my paper out?

ROB
I'm going to talk to you.

LAURA
Right.

He plays with his drink some more.

LAURA
What are you going to talk to me
about?

ROB
I'm going to talk to you about whether
you want to get married or not. To
me.

LAURA
Ha ha ha. Hoo hoo hoo.

ROB
I mean it.

LAURA
I know.

ROB
Oh, well thanks a fucking bunch.

LAURA
I'm sorry. But two days ago you
were in love with that girl who
interviewed you for The Reader,
weren't you?

ROB
Not in love, exactly, but...

LAURA
Well forgive me if I don't think of
you as the world's safest bet.

ROB
Would you marry me if I was?

LAURA
No. Probably not.

ROB
Right. Okay, then. Shall we go?

LAURA
Don't sulk. What brought all this
on?

ROB
I don't know.

LAURA
Very persuasive.

ROB
Are you persuadable?

LAURA
No. I don't think so. I'm just
curious about how one goes from making
tapes for one person to marriage
proposals to another in two days.
Fair enough?

ROB
Fair enough.

LAURA
So?

ROB
I'm just sick of thinking about it
all the time.

LAURA
About what?

ROB
This stuff. Love and marriage. I
want to think about something else.

LAURA
I've changed my mind. That's the
most romantic thing I've ever heard.
I do. I will.

ROB
Shut up. I'm only trying to explain.

LAURA
I mean, maybe you're right. But
were you really expecting me to say
yes?

ROB
I dunno. Didn't think about it,
really. It was the asking that was
the important thing.

LAURA
Well, you've asked.

She leans over and takes his hands in hers, smiles at him.

LAURA
Thank you.

INT. ARTFUL DODGER - NIGHT

TWO TURNTABLES

with the mixer in the middle. "Just Begun" by Jimmy Castor
spins on turntable #1. A hand reaches in, and begins to
draw the slides down, quieting the music.

Rob looks up from behind the deejay table, set up amongst
the instruments. The place is packed with people, and
everyone seems to be having a great time.

Almost everyone -- Rob sees Barry, who pretends to nod off
when Rob catches his eye, and Justin, who looks back at him
and mocks a bulimic act. Rob gives him the finger. He sees
Laura, and she beams at him. He comes to the front of the
stage, and taps a microphone.

ROB
Uh, thanks for uh, coming out tonight.
I hope you have a good time. And I
hope you like the record. The one
by the Kinky Wizards. The record
that we're having this record release
party for.
(hoots from the crowd)
Thanks. Listen to it first, though.
(laughs)
Okay. We'll get to that later.
Right now, I'd like to introduce...
(mumbles)
Sonic Death Monkey.

Good-natured applause. Rob steps down and bee-lines to Laura.
Barry and his crew mount the stage. Rob takes a big gulp of
beer.

ROB
(to Laura)
I'm an idiot. I should have played
the record first. This place is
about to get burned down.

LAURA
It's gonna be fine. These people
are ready for anything.

BARRY
(dubious)
Yeah, well...

Barry stands in front of the mic, surveying the crowd with a
smile. He and the band all wear suits and ties.

BARRY
Thanks for the enthusiastic intro,
Rob. We're not called Sonic Death
Monkey anymore, though, ladies and
gentlemen. We might be on the verge
of becoming the Atavistics, but we
haven't decided yet. But tonight,
we are... BARRY JIVE AND THE UPTOWN
FIVE! ONE TWO THREE --And they launch
into Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It
Up," almost flawlessly faithful to
the original. Barry is transformed --
shuffling footwork, a wide smile,
and when the intro winds up, an almost
perfect falsetto. The crowd goes
nuts, filling the floor. Rob is
stunned, begins to smile. Laura
takes his hand and leads him out
into the crowd...

THE END

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