back

Nick Ellis

 

Stranger Than Paradise

Nick Ellis

BLACK

FADE UP ON:  OZ PARK--DAY

A man in his mid-twenties walks through Oz Park.  It is the beginning of spring in Chicago, so while the trees are blooming it is still cold enough that he needs a jacket.  He wanders aimlessly, obviously deep in thought.

 

                           RAY (VO)

There's this Bob Dylan song called "Don't Think Twice, it's All Right."  In it is the line, "I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul."  Times like this I understand what he's talking about.

 

DISSOLVE TO:

INT:  Therapist's apartment--DAY

This is a nice looking downtown apartment, small but well decorated and with a nice view of the skyline.  At first, the living room is empty of people.  We see a couch, end tables bookending the couch, and a chair set to the side. 

As Ray's narration continues, the following action occurs:

SALLY enters the frame from the left side--she is an attractive, stylishly dressed woman of about 25, blond hair impeccably done.  She wears a light brown pantsuit.  Sally sits down on the left side of the couch.

RAY follows, inching past Sally's outstretched legs and seating himself on the right side of the couch.  Ray is also about 25, tall and neatly groomed, but with  notably less style than Sally.  Ray is wearing jeans and a plain shirt. 

The THERAPIST then enters the frame from the left, and sits in the chair on the side.  She is a woman in her mid forties, with short brown hair in a professional cut.  She is also wearing a light colored pantsuit--in fact, to look closely, she is a perfect version of Sally, twenty years from now.

 

                           RAY (VO)

I had been dating a girl named Sally who decided that after the relationship hit the six month mark it was time to take me in for some service.  This was our first and only session. 

 

                         THERAPIST

Okay.  Sally, Ray, I'm going to jump right into it here, so I hope you're ready to talk. 

 

Sally nods her head confidently, while Ray stares ahead.

 

                         THERAPIST

Great.  Well, then, I guess the best place to start would be why you're here.  Usually that's a very successful way of getting the couple to talk about their problems, and begin relating to each other.  Ray?

 

                              SALLY

That won't be necessary.  I can pinpoint the problem pretty accurately.  Ray's a moron.

 

                         THERAPIST

Uh huh.

 

                              SALLY

I mean, there's really just nothing going on here.

 

Sally thumps Ray's head.  Ray keeps staring, used to this kind of treatment.

 

                              SALLY

If he didn't have the other head, I don't think he'd get any thinking done.

 

The Therapist bursts out laughing hysterically, then calms down when she notices that Ray is not laughing.

 

                         THERAPIST

I'm sorry...that's really funny.

 

Still no response from Ray.

 

                         THERAPIST

Okay, let's try some role reversal.

 

CUT TO:  Med. shot of Ray and Sally on the couch, Sally has a goofy expression on her face and is talking in a satirically low voice.

 

                              SALLY

I'm Ray, I'm an idiot, don't ask me, duh...

 

CUT TO:  Same shot, now Sally has a hand puppet and she is making the puppet talk into Ray's ear.  Ray also has a puppet, but it lies dormant on one of the hands he has folded in his lap.  Sally is talking in a funny, squeaky voice with her puppet.

 

                              SALLY

I don't like you!  You stupid!  Nyahh!

 

CUT TO:  Same shot, only now Sally has a big foam club and is hitting Ray over the head repeatedly and with great enthusiasm, grunting with every strike to emphasize her effort.  Ray remains in the same stoic state he has maintained all along.

 

CUT TO:  Same shot, now Ray is hooked up to electrodes and Sally has the trigger device. 

 

                              SALLY

My birthday is April fourteenth!

 

Sally hits the trigger, and Ray flinches painfully.  When the shock is over, however, he returns to his stone face.

 

 

                              SALLY

I like roses for Valentine's day!

 

Sally hits the trigger again, and Ray flinches.

 

                              SALLY

You must hold me after sex!

 

Sally hits the trigger, and Ray flinches.

 

CUT TO:  C/U of a credit card reader swiping across a credit card and receipt. 

CUT TO:  Med. shot of the Therapist, Sally, and Ray getting ready to leave.  The therapist is making the receipt with the card reader, and Sally is standing next to her.  Ray stands behind Sally, his demeanor unchanged.  The Therapist hands the credit card to Sally, who passes it back to Ray.

 

                              SALLY

Doctor, this was very helpful for Ray.  I feel we dealt with a lot of Ray's issues that were just kind of hiding beneath the surface. 

 

                         THERAPIST

I'm glad.  Although there still seems to be a lot of problems with Ray.  I'd recommend you bring him in again for some more work.

 

Sally snaps her hand around and swipes the credit card away from Ray, handing it over again to the Therapist, who snaps it back into the reader and runs the bar back and forth over the card. 

 

 

DISSOLVE TO:

INT.  RAY'S CAR:  DAY

Sally and Ray are in Ray's car, on the way back from the therapist.  Sally tries to light a cigarette with the car's lighter, but it doesn't work.  She throws it out the window and reaches into Ray's coat pocket for a lighter.  What's important here is that the action is performed as if Ray was a purse or a desk drawer. 

Sally lights her cigarette and takes a deep drag.

 

                              SALLY

God, that was great.  And I think those eighteen sessions I scheduled for next month are going to be a big help for you.  Actually, maybe we should start seeing her every day.  It would probably fix you a lot quicker.  I wonder if I could get one of those foam clubs for myself.  And I should call her and find out where she got that electric shock thing, maybe there's like some kind of home version...

 

As Sally talks, her voice fades out and Ray's narration comes in.

 

 

                           RAY (VO)

A lot of people have a lot of good things to say about therapy.  As for me...

 

CUT TO:  C/U of Ray's foot slamming on the brake

CUT TO:  Med. Shot of Ray's car coming to a sharp stop.

CUT TO:  INT. Ray's car, Sally reacting to the stop and turning to face Ray.

 

                              SALLY

What the hell was that?  What do you think you're doing?

 

CUT TO:  C/U of Ray's face, he turns to Sally and smiles.

CUT TO:  Back of Ray's car just as it pulls away, pull back to bring Sally into the frame, standing on the side of the road.

 

                              SALLY

You son of a bitch!  I'm trying to help you!  You need me!

 

                           RAY (VO)

I'd have to say that it helped make a pretty tough decision much easier.

 

MUSIC:  HARD ON THE KNEES

CREDITS

Credits are intercut with a montage of Ray clearing Sally's stuff out of his apartment--pictures, stuffed animals, pantyhose off the shower curtain, "How To Control Your Man" books

 

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. Ray's apartment.

Ray's apartment is a two bedroom, fairly large apartment in a two-flat building.  Ray is in the kitchen, talking on the phone and standing next to the counter.  He is looking at a pile of papers.

 

                                RAY

Yeah, I'd like to report a stolen credit card.  (pause)  Well, I've been holding for--hello?

 

Ray sighs and examines the invoices from the psychiatrist's office.

 

SFX:  DOOR OPENING & CLOSING

 

Ray does not react to the door, and speaks while looking at his forms.

 

                                RAY

Hey, Phil.

 

PHIL enters the kitchen.  He is taller and thinner than Ray, with dark hair and eyes that seem to be constantly wide open.  Phil walks right up to Ray and stands a few inches away, pulling his hair away from his eyes with one hand and sticking his forehead close to Ray's face while pointing to his eyebrows with the other.

 

                                PHIL

I'm losing my eyebrow hair.  A whole clump of it came out in the shower this morning, I found it on my hand after I just ran my fingers across my eyebrow.  See this right here?  That's a bald spot.  A freaking eyebrow bald spot.  That's it, man.  It's over.  See?  right there.  See?

 

Ray stares calmly at Phil, then perks up at a voice on the line.

 

                                RAY

Hello?  Yeah, I've got to report a stolen credit card.  No, please don't put me on--

 

Ray slumps a little, obviously on hold again.  In resignation, he hangs up the phone.  He turns and faces Phil, who is still waiting for Ray to examine his eyebrows.

 

                                RAY

You know, Phil, I've got absolutely no expertise on eyebrow hair loss.

 

                                PHIL

Right there, man.  See?  You can't miss it.

 

Phil goes to the oven and tries to see his reflection in the glass door.

 

                                RAY

I broke up with Sally today.

 

                                PHIL

That's terrific.  I saw it coming a mile away.  You're gonna be much happier now.  Do they make like, eyebrow Rogaine? 

 

                                RAY

Phil--

 

Phil turns and faces Ray.

 

                                PHIL

I'm a little upset about this, Ray!

 

                                RAY

Well, I'm upset about breaking up with my girlfriend!

 

                                PHIL

Your girlfriend.  You know, women come and go, but when you lose that eyebrow hair, man, you're talking freak for life! 

 

Ray stares at Phil for a moment, as if he can't believe he's for real.  Finally he closes his eyes and shakes his head.

 

                                RAY

I'm not having this conversation.

 

Ray walks toward the door and puts on his coat.

 

                                PHIL

Fine.  Abandon me in my hour of need.  Leave me here, a hideous hairless jackal!

 

Ray walks out the door and slams it shut behind him.

 

CUT TO:

EXT:  Tom & Liz's House--Day

Just as we hear Ray's door slamming shut, we cut to the door of Tom and Liz's house opening.  Revealed behind the door is Liz, Ray's sister in law and old friend.  She is Ray's age, with dark brown hair cut conservatively.  She is attractive in a comfortable way, dressed in casual clothes. 

 

 

                                 LIZ

Ray!  Come on in!

 

Liz opens the door wide to let Ray in, and he enters the house.

 

                                RAY

Hey, Liz. 

 

The two walk into the house after Liz shuts the door behind Ray. 

 

                                 LIZ

What brings you by?

 

                                RAY

Oh, just going a little stir crazy.  Where's that bum brother of mine?

 

                                 LIZ

He should be home in a minute.

 

                                RAY

Probably out drinking again, spending your nest egg on prostitutes.

 

                                 LIZ

Uh huh.

 

                                RAY

What'd have to go and marry him for, Liz?  You were like one of the guys, and now you've got this permanent tattoo that reads 'woman.'  Ruined everything. 

 

 

                                 LIZ

Don't blame me, you introduced us.

 

                                RAY

Well, I didn't think you'd fall in love with him.  The guy's such a bozo...

 

                                 LIZ

Oh, stop it.  You love your brother.

 

                                RAY

Ahhh....

 

Ray looks around the house as if he's examining a kind of suburban hell. 

 

                                RAY

And you can't tell me the sex is good.  There's no way my brother is good in bed. 

 

While Ray is talking, Liz shoots him a sly look.

 

                                RAY

Aw, man...

 

Liz laughs.

 

                                RAY

This is a nightmare.

 

                                 LIZ

Okay, Ray.  What's bothering you? 

 

                                RAY

Oh, nothing.  I'm just...you know...I just...

 

                                 LIZ

You just broke up with Sally.

 

Ray looks around as if to make sure there's no signs with his thoughts printed on them.

 

                                RAY

How did you know that?

 

                                 LIZ

Because every time you break up with a girlfriend, you come over here and yell at me for marrying your brother.

 

                                RAY

Really?

                                 LIZ

Like clockwork.  I'm getting pretty good at figuring you out, Costello.  I should charge you for therapy. 

 

                                RAY

Yeah, well, get in line.

 

SFX:  DOOR OPENING AND SLAMMING SHUT

 

                     TOM (off screen)

I see my freeloading, no-good pain in the ass little brother's bike outside, that can only mean one thing!

 

                                RAY

Don't come in yet, we're still naked.

 

Tom enters the room.  Tom is in his late twenties, and is dressed in a suit.  He is more neatly groomed than Ray, but the family resemblance betrays a sort of roughness about him.  He drops a briefcase on the floor and crosses over to where Liz is standing.

 

                               TOM

Well, I don't hear any hysterical laughing, so that can't be the case. 

 

Tom grabs Liz by the waist and pulls her close.

 

                               TOM

Hey, baby.

 

Tom plants a dramatic kiss on Liz's neck, hamming it up in front of his brother.  Ray sighs unhappily. 

 

                                 LIZ

Hi.

 

Tom lets go of Liz and straightens up, looking at Ray and then back to Liz.

 

                               TOM

So what's the squirt doing here?  Raiding the fridge?

 

                                RAY

Liz and I were talking about those penile implants you've been considering. 

 

                               TOM

No, no, honey, you've got it all wrong.  Those are a gift for Ray.

 

                                 LIZ

Ray broke up with Sally.

 

                               TOM

About time.  We got any beer?

 

Tom walks out of the room toward the kitchen.

 

                                RAY

This is why I talk to you about these things.

 

                                 LIZ

Have a doughnut and sit down.

 

                                RAY

I don't want a--

 

Liz shoots Ray a stern look.  Ray sighs and grabs a doughnut off the counter, taking a large bite.

 

                                 LIZ

Good.

 

Ray moves to an easy chair and sits down, Liz sits across from him on the couch.

 

                                 LIZ

Let's have it.

 

                                RAY

All right, here's the thing.  In the past few years, I've had a bunch of relationships.  Some of them were good, but for the most part they just never really should have happened in the first place.

 

                                 LIZ

I'll go along with that.

 

                                RAY

And I always figured that it was because I was always drifting from job to job, living day to day, and I was never in the frame of mind to have a long term thing.  But things have been going well for me--I've got a well paying job, my own place--everything's stable, and I still couldn't make it work with Sally.

 

                                 LIZ

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that one wasn't really your fault.

 

                                RAY

I'm going to be alone forever.

 

                                 LIZ

You are not going to be--

 

                                RAY

At the rate I'm going, it's a definite possibility! 

 

                                 LIZ

Ray--

 

                                RAY

Look at me!  I'm just stumbling around, from one bad relationship to the next, while everyone else is getting married.  They're all settling down, and I feel like I haven't even shaken up yet!

 

                                 LIZ

You're not making any sense, Ray.

 

                                RAY

You can say that again. 

 

                                 LIZ

Look.  I think it's a little to soon for you to be declaring yourself a hopeless cause.  This whole "finding the right one" thing always happens when you least expect it, when you're not looking so hard. 

 

                                RAY

I don't get that, either.  Every time I turn around, someone is trying to sell me on the whole, "oh, it just takes time, it'll hit you when you're not even thinking about it, just sit back and let it happen."  I don't buy that for a second.

 

Liz pauses and stares at Ray.

 

                                 LIZ

You know what I think?  I think you don't want a solution to this problem.  I think a sadistic little corner of yourself is enjoying this--going on bad dates, constantly changing partners while the rest of us are with the same people year after year, then complaining about how you really want to meet the perfect woman, but you don't want to get married.

 

Ray stares at Liz in amazement.

 

                                RAY

Wow...you're completely wrong.

 

 

                                 LIZ

Oh, for Christ's sake...

 

                                RAY

I mean it, you are so incredibly misdirected that it's just plain fascinating.  How did we get to be such good freinds when you have such a limited understanding of me?

 

                                 LIZ

All right, Ray, I give up. 

 

Liz stands up.

 

                                 LIZ

We go through this every six months or so, nothing ever gets resolved, and I just end up getting beat up on.  Well, I'm done.  I'm not going to try to help you sort out your crazy love life anymore, because I'm obviously the wrong person for the job.  You want this done right, why don't you ask someone who knows better?  Go see a shrink. 

 

                                RAY

I was just at--

 

Liz takes a step toward the hallway, then turns to Ray again.

 

                                 LIZ

Better yet, go ask your old girlfreinds what went wrong.  I'm sure they'd be more than happy to tell you all your faults.

 

Liz spins on her heel and storms out of the room.  Ray stands up, points a finger toward her and opens his mouth to retort, but then stops as a realization hits him--this is not a bad idea.  After a beat, Liz pokes her head back into the room.

 

                                 LIZ

Don't...even...think about it...

 

 

CUT TO:

SUBURBAN STREET--DAY

Ray rides a motorcycle along a rural two-lane road, into an expensive subdivision.

 

                            RAY(VO)

I decided the first stop would be Jasmine, basically because she lived the closest.  Jazz was my first serious girlfriend, and we didn't really date for that long--just long enough for her to realize I wouldn't be making my first million before hitting thirty...or fifty, or eighty for that matter.  She lived on the Gold Coast with her parents, who cleaned up in the early eighties by starting asbestos removal services. 

 

CUT TO:  Shot of Ray, Jasmine, and Jasmine's father sitting down at dinner.  It is a silent scene, from about three years ago, with Ray looking a little younger than we know him now. 

 

                           RAY (VO)

Her father offered me a job once, but I declined. 

 

Ray is saying the next line from narration to Jasmine's father.

 

                           RAY (VO)

I told him I got plenty of deadly fibers from breakfast cereal. 

 

CUT TO:  Jasmine's father, staring at Ray, unamused.

 

                            RAY(VO)

He didn't laugh. 

 

CUT TO:  EXT. JASMINE"S HOUSE

Ray pulls up the driveway to Jasmine's house and steps up to the front door, stopping for a moment to compose himself--this is, after all, his first time seeing her in a while--and finally knocking on the door.  A moment later, the door is opened enthusiastically by Jasmine, an attractive woman in her early twenties.  She is impeccably dressed, thoughtfully trendy and chic.  Her hair and makeup are done and her nails are painted.  Her enthusiasm quickly fades when she sees Ray--she was expecting someone else.

 

                                JAZZ

Oh my God...

 

                                RAY

Hey, Jazz, how you doing?  Jeez, you look great, can I come in?

 

                                JAZZ

You can not be here.

 

A female voice from inside the house calls out to Jasmine.

 

                          VOICE (OS)

Jasmine, darling, are they here?

 

                                RAY

Is that your mom?  Can I say hi?

 

Jasmine ignores Ray and calls back to the voice.

 

                                JAZZ

No, mother! 

 

She turns back to Ray.

 

                                JAZZ

You can not be here, Ray.

 

                                RAY

Who's they?  You having a party?

 

                          VOICE (OS)

Well, who's at the door, dear?

 

                                JAZZ

Nobody important, mother!

 

                                RAY

Hey...

 

                                JAZZ

Raymond Costello, if you continue to stand in my doorway like this I'm going to find something heavy and hit you...

 

                                RAY

There's that spice I miss; listen, I just need to ask you something.  Why do you think it didn't work between us?

 

                                JAZZ

You're poor.  Go away.

 

                                RAY

I'm serious, Jazz--

 

                          VOICE(OS)

Jasmine, darling, who on earth are you talking to?

 

                                JAZZ

I'll be done in a second, mother!

 

Jasmine turns back to Ray.

 

                                JAZZ

Raymond, I'm going to hire someone to shoot you if you don't--

 

                   MALE VOICE (OS)

Hello!

 

Jazz looks past Ray, and Ray turns around to see who is here.

 

                                JAZZ

Oh, god.

 

Three people are walking up the driveway.  The first is a man in his late twenties, well-dressed and confident in the way he holds himself.  He is CHAD BECKWITH.  The second is Chad's father, a prestigious-looking man in his late fifties.  The last is Chad's mother, elegantly dressed and a bit snobbish looking.  Chad steps past Ray to share the doorway with Jasmine.

 

                              CHAD

Hi, sweetheart.

 

Chad plants a light kiss on Jasmine's cheek.

 

                                RAY

Oh, now I get it...

 

Jazz steps in front of Ray to be introduced to Chad's parents.

 

                              CHAD

Jasmine, this is my mother and father.  Mother, Father, this is Jasmine.

 

 

                     MR. BECKWITH

A pleasure.

 

                    MRS. BECKWITH

Charmed, darling. 

 

                              CHAD

Who's this?

 

                           JASMINE

Just Ray, ignore him.

 

                              CHAD

Oh.  All right.

 

                     MR. BECKWITH

Very good.

 

                    MRS. BECKWITH

Fine, then.

 

                                JAZZ

Come right in, my mother is dying to meet all of you.

 

                              CHAD

Thank you.

 

                     MR. BECKWITH

Fine, then.

 

                    MRS. BECKWITH

Very good.

 

The three file past Jasmine into the house.

 

                                JAZZ

I'll be right behind you.

 

Jazz closes the door quietly behind them and turns to Ray, grabbing him by the collar.

 

                                JAZZ

Raymond, that young man is worth more money than a thousand of you put together.  Tonight, after dinner, he is going to ask my father for my hand in marraige.  It is the culmination of several months of hard work and fake orgasms, and if your presence here has in any way compromised this, I'm going to have your testicles made into earrings!

 

Jasmine walks off screen and into the house.  Ray stands frozen.

 

                           RAY (VO)

Although Jazz hadn't directly answered my question, the reason for our relationship's ending was beginning to become very clear. 

 

 

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT DINER--DAY

Ray pulls into a spot in front of a small diner.  Ray gets off the bike and enters the diner.

 

                           RAY  (VO)

After my disastrous visit with Jasmine, I decided to stop and get a bite to eat before going on to my next stop.  It was right about here that I discovered an integral part of any road trip--

 

CUT TO

INT DINER--DAY

Ray is seated at a booth, looking through the menu.  A waitress approaches.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Bad food at every turn.

 

                                RAY

How's the meatloaf?

 

                          WAITRESS

Not good.

 

Ray looks up, surprised.

 

                                RAY

Really?

 

                          WAITRESS

Really.

 

                                RAY

Uh...okay...the chicken?

 

 

                          WAITRESS

Wouldn't touch it with a stick. 

 

                                RAY

Is that so.  How about the soup?

 

                          WAITRESS

Don't get me started.

 

                                RAY

Huh.  Well...uh...just a glass of water, I guess.

 

                          WAITRESS

It's your funeral.

 

The waitress something down on her pad, taking far longer than just the word "water" should take.  Finally, she spins on her heel and walks off.  Ray looks after her for a while, then stares down at the table.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Needless to say, I decided to skip lunch and go straight on to Lisa's.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY--DAY

Ray is driving along a highway.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Now, keep in mind, I wasn't going in chronological order.  Lisa was actually just before Sally--

 

CUT TO:  Still of Sally hitting Ray over the head with the foam club

 

who, if you'll remember, I broke up with at the beginning of this whole thing. 

 

CUT TO:  HIGHWAY

 

My relationship with Lisa was based strictly on sex--which, at the time, I thought was just fine.  Then, somewhere along the line I decided that there had to be more to love than fifty ways to please your lover, and I ended it.  Lisa was more disappointed than sad, mainly because now she had to teach someone else the 27 pressure points that made her really happy.

 

CUT TO:

EXT LISA'S APARTMENT BUILDING --DAY

Ray pulls up to Lisa's building and gets off the bike.  He walks into the building.

 

                            RAY(VO)

We faltered from time to time, falling into bed now and then, but that all ended when I met Sally.  It had been over six months since I had seen Lisa.

 

CUT TO:

INT LISA'S APT BUILDING--DAY

Ray approaches Lisa's door and knocks.  A moment later the door opens a crack, and through the chain latch we see Lisa's face peering out.  She is an attractive woman in her mid-twenties, with black hair and extreme makeup.  Her eyes widen at the sight of Ray.

 

                                LISA

Yay!

 

Lisa shuts the door for a second, then throws it open again, unencumbered by the chain latch.  She grabs Ray by the shirt and hauls him into the apartment.

 

CUT TO

INT LISA'S APT--DAY

Lisa drags Ray into the apartment, shutting the door behind him.  The apartment is modest but well-decorated, with tastefully suggestive artwork on the walls and candles lit and scattered about.

Immediately Lisa begins tugging at Ray's belt, chattering away as she works.  Ray fumbles with her hands, trying to keep them from succeeding in their mission.

 

                                LISA

Good to see you, Ray, been a long time, let's get these pants off, keep the shoes on--

 

                                RAY

No--no, Lisa, wait.  That's not--  I actually came here to--  Hold on, now--  Lisa, can we just talk for a minute?

 

Lisa stops and stares, stunned for a moment.  Then a look of sly understanding comes across her face.

 

                                LISA

I get it...  You're the virgin schoolboy, I'm the substitute teacher...

 

Ray starts to object, then considers it, then objects again.

 

 

 

                                RAY

No!  No...Lisa, listen.  I really need to actually talk.

 

                                LISA

Oh.  Well, that's a new one.  I was just going to make some hot chocolate, you want one?

 

Lisa turns and walks into the kitchen.

 

                                RAY

Uh...sure.  Now, there's a whipped cream joke in there somewhere, but it's just not materializing.

 

As Lisa laughs, we dissolve to:

 

INT LISA'S APARTMENT:  DAY

We dissolve to a C/U of two empty mugs, crusted with the remains of hot chocolate.  As Ray speaks, we cut to a two shot of Ray and Lisa sitting facing each other on the couch.

 

                                RAY

So I guess I'm just wondering what the problem is.  I mean, why do you think it didn't work between us?

 

                                LISA

Ray, as far as I was concerned, it did work.  I mean, the sex...

 

                                RAY

Okay, but that was mostly you...and the costumes...and that trapeze thing...but I always thought--

 

                                LISA

You always thought there should be more to it than that.  I know, Ray, you told me all this when we broke up.  I don't have anything new to tell you.  I thought things were fine the way they were, and you wanted something more.  I don't think you're a bad guy because of it, you're just confused.  You don't know what you want.

 

Ray nods a bit at this, then is silent, obviously still bothered. 

 

                                LISA

Hey.

 

Lisa puts a finger under Ray's chin, and tilts his head toward her.

 

                                LISA

I bet I can raise your spirits.

 

Ray smiles, takes hold of her hand, and kisses it, standing up.

 

                                RAY

Difficult as it is to say no to you...

 

                                LISA

Oh, you're no fun anymore. 

 

Ray laughs as Lisa stands up, and they walk to the door.  They stop in front of the door, and Lisa turns to Ray.

 

                                LISA

You ever get lonesome for the old times, you know where to find me.

 

Ray starts to answer as Lisa opens the door, but is distracted by a man in leather laying across the doorstep like a dog would. 

 

                                LISA

Slave! 

 

The slave jumps up at the sound of Lisa's voice and clasps his hands in front of his chest.

 

                                LISA

How long have you been there?!

 

                              SLAVE

An hour, mistress.

 

                                LISA

Silence!  I did not command you to speak!  Get in here, you disgust me.

 

The slave, head bowed, enters and kneels at Lisa's feet.  Lisa turns back to Ray.

 

                                LISA

Domination's my new thing.  Take care, Ray.  Don't be a stranger.

 

Ray nods, and walks out the door.  As he exits...

 

                                LISA

Lick my feet, you filthy worm!

 

The door shuts behind Ray, and he walks out of the building, dazed.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Now, don't get me wrong--I'm all in favor of an imaginative sex life; but there's a line, and I think Lisa slid across it on a stream of contraceptive lubricant.

 

 

CUT TO:

INT DINER--DAY

Ray sits at another diner booth, looking through the menu.  A waitress steps up and holds her pad so close to her face that we can't see her mouth.  Ray has not noticed this, and begins to order.

 

                                RAY

Hi, I'll have--

 

                          WAITRESS

If you want to live, listen very carefully.  I'm going to pretend I'm telling you the specials, you nod every now and then.  Got it?  Good.  You are in the wrong place.  Bad things happen to food here.  Down the street there is a place called Bob's Burger's & Beef.  Stand up right now, get a table there, do not order the fish.  Here's your check, have a nice day.

 

Ray looks around, picks up the check, sighs, and resignedly pulls out a few bills.

 

                            RAY(VO)

The next stop was Batavia, where Kristen lived.  I figured it had to go better than my search for food had been going.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY

Ray rides along the highway.

 

                            RAY(VO)

That was a toss up, though.  Kristen and I had a pretty painful breakup.  We dated after Jasmine, and things actually went pretty well.  We started talking--just talking, remember--about getting married.  Then, something happened that threw a monkey wrench into the plan.  I met someone else.

 

CUT TO:

KRISTEN'S HOUSE

Ray pulls up the driveway of Kristen's house, a modest ranch.  Ray positions his bike so it faces away from the house.

 

                                RAY

So the question of the day was, after all this time, could she still be bitter?  I figured that by now she had to understand.

 

CUT TO:

INT KRISTEN'S HOUSE--DAY

We see a window to the outside, with a curtain over it.  KRISTEN comes into frame, and pulls back the curtain to see Ray parking the bike.

 

                           KRISTEN

Son of a bitch...

 

Kristen lets back the curtain, grabs a softball bat by the front door, and walks out of the house.

 

CUT TO:

EXT KRISTEN'S HOUSE

We follow as Kristen walks out the front door and approaches Ray.  Ray still has his back to her as he is unstrapping his helmet. 

Without hesitation, Kristen whacks Ray on the back of the helmet with the bat.  Ray cries out, more with surprise than pain, and falls sideways off the bike. 

 

                           KRISTEN

How dare you!  How dare you show your face at my house!

 

                                RAY

Jesus Christ, Kris!

 

Ray pulls the helmet off.

 

                           KRISTEN

I would not take that helmet off if I were you, Costello!

 

Ray stumbles to his feet, and drops the helmet.

 

                                RAY

What are you, nuts? 

 

                           KRISTEN

Put the helmet back on, Ray...

 

                                RAY

Right.  Like you're really going to smack me with that thing.

 

                           KRISTEN

You've got a lot of nerve, coming here after what you did...

 

                                RAY

And it was so terrible that you've got to hit me with a bat.  Is that it, Kris?  Tell you what--if you really think I deserve it, then go on.  Take your best shot.  I've got it coming, right?

 

Ray spreads his arms out and offers his chin for Kristen to hit.  Kristen pauses, simmering.  Finally, she throws the bat to the ground.

 

                           KRISTEN

You son of a bitch.

 

Ray drops his arms and straightens out again. 

 

                                RAY

You can't do it, can you?  Face to face, you can't--

 

Ray is interrupted by Kristen punching him in the face.

 

CUT TO--

INT KRISTEN'S HOUSE--DAY

Ray sits at the kitchen counter, a bag of ice pressed against his eye.  Kristen comes into frame, sitting on the other side of the counter, lighting a cigarette, and looking sideways at Ray.

 

                           KRISTEN

So, how you been?

 

Ray glares at her.

 

 

                           KRISTEN

I told you not to take the helmet off. 

 

Ray is still silent, stewing.

 

                           KRISTEN

Course, you didn't listen to me back then, I don't know what made me think you'd listen to me now.

 

                                RAY

Kris, I'm not the bad guy here.  I fell in love with someone else.  I didn't mean for it to happen, it just happened. 

 

                           KRISTEN

Oh, that's right.  It was an accident.  You were just wandering down the street, and accidentally asked someone out to dinner about seven or eight times--

 

                                RAY

It was like four or--

 

                           KRISTEN

And then you accidentally waited until I'm practically picking out bridesmaids dresses to tell me it's over.

 

Ray is silent again, he has no defense against this--it's true.

 

 

 

                           KRISTEN

How is the little princess, anyway?  Or did you screw that one up, too?

 

Ray glares for a moment, then turns his gaze to the ground.

 

                           KRISTEN

I knew it.  You're a real piece of work, Costello, you know that?  Have you noticed a trend here?

 

Ray does not respond.

 

                           KRISTEN

Here, let me run through it for you--you meet a girl, get along great, start to fall in love, and then run like a sissy boy.  Sound about right?

 

Ray smiles a half smile that quickly fades.  The realization has hit him, and he seems beaten. 

 

                           KRISTEN

God.  You need help, Ray.  You're turning into a character from a Woody Allen movie.

 

Ray slowly gets to his feet.

 

                                RAY

Always good to see you, Kris.

 

Ray walks across the room to the front door.  Kristen watches him, suddenly sympathetic, perhaps surprised by her own viciousness.

 

                           KRISTEN

Ray--

 

Ray stops, and Kristen speaks as she crosses over to him.

 

                           KRISTEN

You...you can't be blamed...for falling in love.  I can accept that much, I guess.  But it's your own damned fault if you run away from it.  If you're going to throw away what we had for someone else, I'd at least like to know that it meant something.

 

Ray looks away for a moment, considering this.

 

                           KRISTEN

Did it?

 

Ray looks back at her.

 

 

                                RAY

I guess I'm going to have to find out.

 

Kristen smiles sadly, and kisses Ray on the cheek.

 

                           KRISTEN

Take care of yourself, Costello.

 

Ray smiles the same sad smile, nods, and walks out.  Kristen walks to the window and watches him get on the bike.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Which left Alison.  The one I left Kristen for.  The one I'd been avoiding this whole day; the one that came closer to perfect than any relationship I'd had. 

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY--DAY

Ray rides into the north side of the city.

 

                            RAY(VO)

I could never really explain why I did it.  It went against every piece of advice I'd peddled from everyone who would listen.  For her, it came out of nowhere--one minute everything was fine, the next I was walking away. 

 

CUT TO:  EXT ALISON'S BUILDING

Ray pulls up to a vintage apartment building in Chicago.

 

                            RAY(VO)

It hurt like hell then, and to tell the truth it hurts right now.  And the worst part is, I never knew why I did it. 

 

CUT TO:  INT ALISON'S BUILDING

Ray stands outside the door to Alison's apartment as Alison opens the door.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Until now.

 

Alison opens the door.  She is an attractive woman in her mid-twenties, with dark brown hair and blue eyes.  She looks at Ray, amazed; he is the last person she expected to see.

 

                             ALISON

Ray!

 

                                RAY

Hi, Ali.

 

                             ALISON

I can't believe this!  How are you?

 

                                RAY

Ah, fair.  You?

 

                             ALISON

Oh, my god, what happened to your eye?

 

                                RAY

Long story.  Listen, you doing anything right now?  I need to talk.

 

                             ALISON

I was...  I was just going to...  Well, no, nothing.  You want to go for a walk?

 

                                RAY

Yeah, that would be good. 

 

CUT TO:  OZ PARK

Ray and Alison walk through the park. 

 

                             ALISON

So, they rule in favor of the state.  Two weeks later, I get a phone call from the CEO of Eastman Kodak--he says any lawyer can win a case against his house team, he wants working for him. 

 

                                RAY

Sold out to the man, huh?

 

                             ALISON

Hey, you would too, for that kind of money.

 

                                RAY

I don't even want to know.

 

Alison laughs.  The two sit down on a park bench.  There is silence for a moment.

 

                             ALISON

Is everything all right, Ray?

 

Ray rubs his forehead as he responds.

 

                                RAY

Yeah, I'm fine.

 

                             ALISON

No, you're not.

 

 

                                RAY

What?

 

                             ALISON

You're not fine. 

 

                                RAY

What makes you say that?

 

                             ALISON

You always rub your forehead when you lie. 

 

Ray takes his hand off his forehead and grimaces.

 

                             ALISON

What's on your mind, Ray?

 

Ray takes a deep breath.

 

                                RAY

Just...some...things, you know?  I--

 

Ray glances back and forth for a moment, then finally settles his eyes on Alison as he summons the nerve.  He takes another breath.

 

                                RAY

Okay, here goes.  I just went through another breakup, and it got me thinking.  I was getting worried that I was just going through the same motions over and over again.  I started worrying that it would never stop.  So I thought I'd go back--  Back to relationships I'd had, to talk to my old girlfreinds and ask them what went wrong. 

 

Alison touches Ray's sore eye.

 

                             ALISON

Uh huh.  And how is Kristen?

 

Ray smiles.

 

                                RAY

Kristen actually helped the most. 

 

                             ALISON

She knock some sense into you?

 

                                RAY

You could say that.  I realized that with my other relationships, there had been something about the combination--something about both people--that didn't work.  Either she had different values, or I had different goals, or whatever.  There was always a problem. 

 

 

                             ALISON

Okay...

 

                                RAY

But with you and me, the only thing wrong was the time.  I...I got scared, I felt trapped, I--  I ran like a sissy boy.

 

                             ALISON

Ray--

 

                                RAY

Wait, just let me finish, let me get through this.  It's different now.  I'm different now, I'm not afraid anymore.  I realize now, more than I knew back then, how good we could be together--how much I need you in my life.  Ali... if you could find it in your heart to forgive me, if you could give me another chance, I promise you I will do everything I can to make it work.

 

They stare at each other for a moment, Ray hanging on Alison's answer.  Alison lowers her eyes to speak.

 

                             ALISON

Ray... I'm engaged.

 

Ray visibly deflates with disappointment, and turns to face forward as Alison continues.

 

                             ALISON

I'm sorry.  I really am sorry.  But I never thought you'd come back like this.  I worked so hard at getting over you, and when I did, I met someone.  And he's...

 

Alison sees how crushed Ray is, and stops.

 

 

                             ALISON

You...don't want to hear about the guy.

 

Ray shakes his head.

 

                             ALISON

Are you going to be okay?

 

Ray pauses for a moment, then turns to Alison and smiles weakly.  As he speaks, he rubs his forehead.

 

                                RAY

Yeah.  Yeah, I'll be fine.

 

Ray notices his action, looks at his hand, and smiles at Alison.

 

                             ALISON

I'd better go.  Lee's going to wonder where I am. 

 

Alison stands up, looks at Ray for a moment, and leans over.  She kisses him gently on the sore eye. 

 

                             ALISON

Goodbye, Ray.

 

Alison turns and walks offscreen.

 

MUSIC:  Don't Think Twice, It's Allright

 

                            RAY(VO)

And that was that.

 

DISSOLVE TO:  OZ PARK

Ray continues their walk through the park alone.

 

                            RAY(VO)

I came here for answers, and I got them.  Only they're not the answers I wanted to hear.  So, in spite of my new found wisdom, I'm back at square one.  I don't know--maybe that's just the way it's meant to turn out sometimes.  Maybe you get one chance, and if you miss it, you miss it, and you don't get another. 

 

Ray sits down on a park bench.

 

                            RAY(VO)

Maybe some people go through their lives and just never find anyone.  Maybe for some people it's just not meant to be.  And maybe, just maybe--

 

MUSIC OUT

 

                            RAY(VO)

I'm one of those people.

 

As Ray sits and ponders, an attractive blonde walks up and sits on the opposite end of the bench. 

 

MUSIC:  MODERN LOVE

 

Without looking at the woman, Ray slowly slides a bit closer to her on the bench.  He looks at the camera and smiles.

 

CUT TO:  BLACK

 

CREDITS

 

Sally went back to Ray's apartment to pick up her things....  And fell in love with Phil, who doesn't mind therapy at all.

 

Jasmine's new husband lost his entire fortune in a New Orleans card game.  They now run a successful Velvet Elvis Painting roadside stand.

 

Lisa hosts her own radio advice show for the lovelorn

--Pan down to show Slave curled up at her feet, sleeping

 

Kristen was voted MVP of her softball team three years in a row.

 

Alison

 

Ray is still confused...

Show Ray talking to a girl at dinner, another girl walks by and Ray follows her with his eyes.  His date grabs him by the chin and tilts his head back toward her.

But getting there.

 

Like what you read? Want to contribute? Send your stories, screenplays and poetry to DigiZine