Chris Provenzano, Scott Seeke & C. Gaby Mitchell
1 EXT. HOUSE - NIGHT 1
From a distance and through the trees we see a raging hell
fire engulfing a small two story house. It burns and burns.
Out of nowhere a man bursts through a second story window,
lands hard and rolls to smother his burning clothes.
He crawls away and staggers up and for a moment looks as if
he might run back into the flames. But the heat is
unbearable. He runs toward us then past us through black
shadows. We cannot see his face,
1A EXT. WINDOW - EARLY MORNING (WINTER 1930S) 1A
Glass in a weathered window glitters with early morning sun.
A rock shatters one of the remaining glass panes!
2 EXT. YARD - EARLY MORNING/CONTINUOUS 2
The rock thrower, TOM ( 10) is hightailing it away from an
isolated Appalachian SHACK as the door bangs open, a shotgun
barrel appears, and a chicken comes SQUAWKING out from under
Thinking he's sure to be shot, Tom runs into the old barn!
3 INT. BUSH'S BARN - EARLY MORNING/CONTINUOUS 3
Panting in terror, Tom is hunkered down in strips of light,
trying to see through the cracks. There is a loud SNORT and
the huge face of some kind of beast suddenly appears at his
Tom jumps, panicked, just as a SHADOWY FIGURE creeps into the
barn and levels a glinting shotgun at him!
Tom freezes, bends over, and throws up!
When Tom looks up, a ray of light reveals the half face of a
fierce gray bearded man, FELIX BUSH. He is holding out a
handkerchief to the boy. Shaking hard, Tom hesitates then
takes it and wipes his mouth.
Bush pushes open the door and gives Tom a sad look that the
boy will never forget before waving him away.
4 EXT. BUSH'S BARN - MORNING 4
Looking back over his shoulder, Tom runs for the road. Two of
his BUDDIES are already kicking up dust.
BUSH (72) steps into the sun and watches the boy run off with
a look of muted anger, sadness, and something much deeper.
5 INT. BUSH'S BARN - DAY 5
Bush enters the barn to check on his companion. MULE is older
than Bush in mule years and just as gray. He wears an old
mule blanket everywhere to keep out the cold. He fidgets
nervously from all the excitement. Bush comforts him.
Just a boy, that's all.
6 SERIES: 6
7 Bush rips down an old faded sign at the road and posts a 7
fresh one:'No Damn Trespassing/Beware of Mule'. Bush checks
the road in both directions. All clear for now.
8 Bush splits firewood with powerful cleaving strokes. Mule 8
dozes in the shade. Bush sees a Model-T approach and turn
into his road, right past his new sign. He glances at his
shotgun leaning against the shack.
The Model-T comes to a shaky stop. A MAN climbs out, sees
Bush swinging the axe and approaches with trepidation.
Hard life if you can't read..
Pardon? I'm uh, Reverend Gus
Horton, sir, how you doing?
Bush stops his swing and turns and stares coldly at Horton.
Don't need saving, preacher.
Uh, well, Mr. Wiley Starke has
passed on, sir. His funeral is
tomorrow and I thought you might
want to know since..
What got him?
Just got old, sir.
Bush returns to chopping wood.
Feeling awkward, Horton hesitates, starts for his car, stops.
Mr. Starke told me that you and him
ran away from home when you were 6
years old. Is that true?
I talked him into it.
Bush doesn't turn, just keeps chopping.
Well.. anyway.. I.. alright..
Horton shrugs, get in his car, and leaves.
Bush strikes the log hard and a cleaved piece goes flying.
9 EXT. CEMETERY - EVENING 9
The loneliness of the empty cemetery is broken by Wiley
Starke's fresh grave. The mounded earth is covered with
beautiful flowers and wreathes, a loving send off from his
family and friends. As we pan past the flowers and cards..
we realize that the cemetery is not quite empty.
Hunkered down nearby, Bush is as still as a gravestone,
staring at the last resting place of his old friend.
As Bush gets up to leave he stops abruptly and stands frozen,
staring at a pot of YELLOW FLOWERS on a distant grave. Now he
turns and walks quickly away in the opposite direction.
10 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - NIGHT 10
Rain drums hard on the tin roof as Bush, soaked to the bone
and shaking with chills, rummages through an old hat box by
lamp light: Letters, news clippings and keepsakes. He finds
what he's looking for: A PICTURE of a BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN.
She smiles at us from happier days. Realizing that he is
raging with a serious fever, he tries to stand up only to
collapse back on the bed.
11 OMIT 11/12/13 11
14 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - NIGHT 14
Wrapped in his quilt and carrying the oil lamp, Bush moves
slowly toward the barn. But he is so wracked with fever he
has to stop. It stuns him that he can't go on. He never
thought anything could stop him. Stuck in the rain with the
shaking lamp sizzling, he stares into the forever darkness,
the muscles in his jaw rippling in the pale light.
15 INT. BUSH'S BARN - NIGHT 15
Somehow he has made it. Sopping wet and shivering, Bush is in
bad shape and knows it.
Mule sees Bush and grunts anxiously as he rises.
Bush blindly pours Mule some feed and the poor old thing
snatches his first meal in days.
Bush tries to think through the fever. He stumbles back to
the door and swings it wide open so Mule can get out if Bush
doesn't make it. Satisfied, he comes back and drops hard onto
a pile of hay near Mule.
Always thought you'd go first..
White as cotton, Bush stares into the lamp that is running
out of oil, the light fading fast to darkness. Thoughts
tumble through his mind, troubling him, stirring the dark
waters of memory.
16 EXT. BUSH'S BARN - MORNING 16
PAN across the stillness of the foothills to the barn. The
door is still swung wide open.
Back from the brink of death, Bush emerges into the blinding
sunlight. Mule is dozing in his favorite spot. He swings his
big gray head over at Bush.
Ahh, don't look so disappointed.
17 OMITTED 17
18 EXT. BUSH'S BARN - MORNING 18
Mule watches Bush heave a creaky old wagon out from behind
the barn. Mule climbs up on all fours. Bush gets a set of
reins and walks toward him. Mule starts to take a stroll,
knowing what the reins mean.
You better not.
Mule looks back, sees an apple in Bush's hand, and stops.
And coffee when we get there.
19 EXT. MAIN STREET - DAY 19
Old wheels creak and moan. Bush and Mule ease up Main street
with the cart. PEOPLE try to catch a glimpse of the infamous
Mule comes to a wearied stop, breathing hard. Bush climbs off
the cart and walks Mule, ignoring the eyes upon him.
20 INT. CHAPEL - DAY 20
Reverend Horton, stoking the wood stove, hears FOOTSTEPS.
But as he turns he sees Bush silently looking around.
Horton comes to Bush but Bush ignores him and keeps
critically looking around.
What can I do for you, sir?
Suddenly BUDDY and KATHRYN ROBINSON (20's) enter from the
vestibule with their new BABY. In their own world, and not
realizing that there is anyone in the chapel, Kathryn picks
some lint from Buddy's jacket. He catches her fingers and
Bush is transfixed by the loving moment.
I can wait.
Buddy and Kathryn see Horton and double-take Bush. Buddy nods
to Horton and he and Kathryn step back into the vestibule to
give Bush and Horton privacy.
It's alright, have a seat.
Bush sits down uneasily in a pew. Horton sits down in the pew
in front of him and twists around to face him. The wintry
light from the near window washes over them.
What's on your mind, sir?
Bout time for me to get low.
Down to business
Bush reaches into his overalls and puts a balled-up wad of
MONEY on the pew. Horton's eyes bulge.
Need a funeral.
Horton looks up from the money.
Buddy peers around from the vestibule, listening, curious as
hell, until Kathryn pulls him back.
(off Bush's impatient nod)
You want to buy a funeral for you?
Am I not talking right?
No, yes, I'm sorry. Are you sick
I don't take care of my bones it
won't get done, will it?
All right, I see. Well the church
can help you get your affairs in
order, arrange a service..
Horton glances at the strange wad of money again.
What would you say?
A eulogy? I.. don't know. What do
you want me to say?
Say what you'd say right now to my
Well. I uh, I don't know much about
you, Mr. Bush. I mean, I've heard
Bush leans in and stares into Horton. It feels like
everything in the world stops dead.
Buddy peeks in again, this time Kathryn peeks too.
(off Bush's intense look)
.you know, people talking.
What kind of stories? Say one.
Sir.. my mother used to say that
gossip is the devil's radio..
.not that she didn't play that
radio at full volume now and then,
bless her heart, but..
(back to business)
.what matters when you come to the
end of your life is that you're
ready for the next one. Have you
made peace with God, sir?
Horton has no idea what Bush means. He looks at the money,
back at Bush.
Well.. you can't buy forgiveness,
Mr. Bush. It's free. But you do
have to ask for it.
Nothing in this world is free,
Bush abruptly grabs his money and starts out. His hand bangs
into the pew and the money FALLS.
Buddy stares wild-eyed at the big wad of money then drops
back into the vestibule.
Bush storms past Buddy, Kathryn and the baby like a hot wind.
20A EXT. CHURCH - DAY 20A
Bush heads off down the road on his wagon. Horton, Buddy, and
Kathryn appear at the door and watch him go.
That was, uh, different.
I heard such awful things about him
when I was a kid.
My mother probably told you some of
Kathryn goes back into the church with Horton who is cooing
at the baby. Buddy lingers, staring at Bush, thinking..
21 EXT. MAIN STREET - DAY 21
Bush's wagon loaded with bags of feed and supplies, sits in
front of the Diner.
Bush is holding a big tin cup of coffee for Mule who is
drinking it and loving it.
Tom (the kid who threw the rock) comes from behind the diner
with a full garbage can to empty into the big trash barrels
on the back of an old pick-up truck. He sees Bush and
Bush looks up and stares at him.
The diner door snaps open and BONNIE (30's), Tom's mother,
steps out. She sees Tom and Bush staring at each other.
What are you doing, son?
Now Tom is scared to death that Bush is going to tell on him.
Bonnie doesn't like this staring match at all.
Empty those cans in your daddy's
truck and get back in here. Now.
Finally Bush drops his gaze and lets Tom off the hook.
Relieved, Tom heaves the can up into the truck. Bonnie
hesitates then goes back into the diner just as...
.CARL (30s), his sidekick, GARY, and two other MEN come
across the street toward the diner. Gary sees Mule slurping
coffee from the big tin cup.
Look at that. A mule drinking
Finally found somebody that likes
As they move past, they see Bush standing there..
Ya'll better hush, that's old Bush.
Carl eyes him. Gary and the others throw curious glances as
they head into the diner. Carl stops.
I'm talking to you..
Carl picks up a handful of gravel, tosses some over
nonchalantly in Bush's direction. Bush ignores it.
We know about you. You stay out of
this diner. There's women and
children here and we don't want you
Bush stands to mount up, never turning around.
You better hear me. I see you here
again, I'll.. Hey! Hey!
Hearing the hollering, Tom looks up from the pick-up.
Carl throws a stone, harder this time to get Bush's
But the rock misses Bush and hits Mule, startling him. Old
instincts kick in and he has a VIOLENT FIT.
Carl moves up to try and calm him..
.as Bush tries to ease Mule down the cart hitch grinds a
GASH in Mule's hind-quarter. Mule whinnies painfully, slowly
As Carl steps up, Bush yanks the BRAKE HANDLE off the cart
and hits Carl in the chest. Air explodes from Carl as he
gasps with pain. Before he can move, Bush hits him again in
the same place. Carl wants to hit back but he has no air.
Lightning quick, Bush steps back and hits Carl again in the
exact same place.
Carl falls like a bag of bones. He looks up and sees Bush
towering over him with a terrible bottled up darkness in him.
It has all happened so fast it feels like an awful dream to
Wild with fear, Bonnie and Tom run toward Bush.
Stop it!! Get away!
Gary, the Worker burst from the diner but see the brake
handle in Bush's hand and slow down.
Bush comes to himself, sees everyone staring, sees Carl in
tears, and now Tom and Bonnie, trying to get him away..
Gary and the others slowly move toward Bush. More patrons
step out from the diner.
Buddy races up, sees Mule bleeding, and eyes Bush as he grabs
the reins and leads Mule down Main street, still holding the
I'll kill him!
Bonnie shushes him softly as Carl moans in pain.
Tom stares after Bush, mirroring his father's hatred.
22 OMITTED 22
23 INT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 23
An EMPTY CASKET, awaits its passenger in a small but
serviceable funeral hall. Through the office door, FRANK
QUINN sits at his desk, his head completely buried behind a
paper that he shakes hard every few seconds. His feet are up
on the desk revealing a pair of lovely burgundy silk socks.
24 INT. FUNERAL HOME/OFFICE - SAME 24
Frank's hand slips the flask next to his coffee cup into a
drawer when he HEARS the front door open. But his face
remains hidden as Buddy enters. Buddy is troubled by the
(off Frank's grunt)
There was a fight. It was..
.let me guess. Hmm. Carl?
Well yeah but this time it was with
that old man Bush.
Is there a body?
No, the old man did the beating.
Never seen anything like it.
Social event of the year and I
Frank lowers the paper so just his eyes appear. He has no
southern accent and doesn't look small town.
Read the paper today?
(off Buddy's no)
Something strange is happening in
the world right now.
People are dying in bunches.
(off Buddy's look)
Everywhere. But here.
He puts the paper down and studies his socks.
I wonder what the odds are of a
funeral home going broke? I mean
you have a business everybody on
earth needs, you can't make that
work, it's got to be you right? And
yet.. I don't know.. what do you do
when people won't die?
Onethingabout Chicago, people
knowhowto die; they drown, get
runover,shot, whatever it takes.
We get it done down here, we're
just not in a hurry about it.
It's them or us.
Frank sighs and stares forlornly out at a casket.
I might know someone who is looking
for a funeral.
Frank's eyes crawl over to him.
25 OMITTED 25
30 EXT./INT. FRONTAGE ROAD/FRANK'S CAR - DAY 30
The Quinn Funeral Home Packard Hearse makes it way down the
road. Frank drives as Buddy searches ahead.
How much did he have?
It was all wadded up.
Ooo, hermit money. That's good.
Buddy sees Bush's signs.
There it is..
31 INT/EXT. FRANK'S CAR/FRONTAGE ROAD - DAY 31
They stop at Bush's sign: 'No Damn Trespassing." Frank
squints up at the old shack and doesn't like what he sees at
all. Buddy opens his door but Frank doesn't.
What are you doing?
You've been wanting a shot at
As of right now, you're on
(off Buddy's look)
Remember; foot in the door,
establish trust, and drop the
Buddy hesitates, crawls out, and eyes the shack.
I'd feel better if you'd go too.
No doubt but if you don't do this
by yourself, you won't know if
you're any good. And you'll never
be any good if you don't know you
are. Go get him!
32 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 32
As Buddy uneasily approaches the shack, he feels the
beautiful stillness and mystery of the place. He KNOCKS
timidly on the door, pressing an ear to listen.
Nothing. He shoots a look back to the hearse - miles away,
and knocks a little louder. Nothing. He inches to the window
and peeks in one of the remaining glass panes then starts to
Buddy spins and discovers Bush standing on the ground behind
him, his shotgun barrel pointed between Buddy's eyes.
Want to see in my house, do you?
BOOM! Bush blows away several windowpanes and re-aims at
How's it look?
Buddy closes his eyes, his last words are for his wife..
It makes Bush peek out from behind the barrel.
You was at the church with your
wife and baby.
Buddy opens his eyes and can't believe he is still alive.
What the hell you doing here?
I can't remember.
They stand there while Buddy thinks..
Oh yeah, I heard.. you wanted a
Yes sir. I work at uh.. I work at..
(tries to think of it)
.Quinn Funeral Home. I thought I
could help you.
Bush glances at his blown out window: 'Damn'. He lowers his
gun, walks up onto the porch.
You like rabbit?
Bush goes inside.
Buddy looks desperately back at the hearse but can't see
Frank. He doesn't know whether to run for it or not.
33 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 33
The shack is spare as a monk's chamber but has wonderful HAND
MADE FURNITURE in it.
There is only chair at the table so Buddy dumps the glass off
a small stool under the window and sits down low. The wonder
of not being dead makes him look at everything with new eyes.
On a window sill he sees a beautiful little CARVED MULE
emerging from a block of wood.
Bush is at the stove tending to a iron skillet of rabbit
pieces covered with bacon and white gravy.
It's how you put things together,
see? Some things go, some things
never will. Indians said that
everything spoke to them. That's
how they made medicine and knew
what to eat. Things talked to them
clear as we talk. You believe that?
I.. I don't know, sir.
If you don't listen you won't hear
Bush puts the big skillet on the table and sits down.
Buddy is so low he can look under the table and sees how the
table legs run right into the top without screws or nails.
Did you make this furniture, sir?
Never seen any like it. Can't even
tell what's holding it up.
Buddy looks up. Bush is dead serious. The word lingers.
Alright. Well. Sir, if you do want
to plan for a funeral service,
which I hope will be a long long
time away, we'd treat you with
respect and offer a good..
What'd everybody say about what
happened in town?
That crazy old son of a bitch tried
to beat a man to death for no
reason? That it?
Buddy is caught off guard by Bush's lucid candor and finds
himself automatically responding differently to him.
There's two sides to every story.
As Bush puts some rabbit on Buddy's old yellowed plate..
People say that. But they don't
mean it. They think what they think
and they don't want to know
Yes, sir, but I think people are so
scared of what they don't know that
they make things up to feel better
Like life after dying. Heaven.
I hope that part's true, don't you?
But I don't think we know the
actual truth about much of
anything. I know I don't. I'm just
guessing most of the time.
Bush gives Buddy a closer look and motions for him to try the
rabbit. Fearing the worst, Buddy bends into the steam, takes
a cautious bites and mutters with shocked surprise..
Lord, that's good..
You boys been coming out here to
throw rocks through my window for
Ya'll know lots of stories about
Yes, sir, I guess, but..
I'd rather not.
Bush eases forward, his eyes slit. The old Bush is back.
I rather you did.
Well. When I was kid I heard you
killed some men in a fist fight.
Is that all?
Bush leans back stone-faced.
In the silence, Buddy looks over again at the wondrous
carving of the mule on the window sill, at the big ears and
long face that are being born from the rough block. It makes
him smile. But when he glances back, Bush is staring a hole
What's your name again?
Buddy Robinson, sir.
Well, if I need you -- I know where
It sounds almost like a threat. It shorts Buddy out. He stops
eating and realizes that Bush has taken another turn and that
he's been dismissed.
34 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 34
Buddy heads to the hearse, glancing back over his shoulder.
As he recalls his encounter, he stops, looking back at the
shack. The old legend has gotten deep under his skin.
35 OMITTED 35
35A EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD 35A
The morning sun breaks over the mountains.
36 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - MORNING 36
Bush is on the porch, straining boiled herbs, grass, and bark
into a jar. There is something not right with him and he
knows it. While the medicine cools he looks out across the
mountain and draws a deep breath.
37 EXT. FUNERAL HOME - MORNING 37
A well crafted live-in home doubling as a funeral parlor. A
sign, 'QUINN FUNERAL HOME', hangs from the porch.
Oh yes Ma'am, I do respect your
wishes but you see..
38 INT. FUNERAL HOME/FRANK'S OFFICE - SAME 38
Frank is looking a little hung over. Buddy walks in. Frank
points at the phone and rolls his blood shot eyes.
.state law requires.. No ma'am, we
can't bury him under the house..
There is a loud KNOCK at the door. Buddy goes to get it.
39 EXT. FUNERAL HOME/FRONT DOOR - DAY 39
Buddy swings the door open. Bush is standing there. Buddy
leans back unconsciously, not knowing what to expect.
Well just for argument's sake,
Ma'am, how would we get the casket
under the house? No casket?
Would you like to come in, sir?
Bush stares suspiciously into the room then back at Buddy.
But you have to have a container of
some kind, Ma'am for decency and
Bush enters the Funeral Home. As Buddy starts to close the
door, Bush catches it.
40 INT. FUNERAL HOME - CONTINUOUS 40
Frank is still on the phone and pouring himself a drink from
the flask into his coffee cup in the drawer.
Yes, Ma'am, but there's lots of
natural things that aren't decent.
(listens, eyes widen)
He did what?! Good God. No, Ma'am,
I didn't know that about your
husband. Well, yeah now I
understand why you want him under
the house but still..
The phone goes dead. FRANK sighs as Bush walks in.
Frank Quinn, Mr. Bush.
Frank takes a quick swallow from his cup to fortify himself,
then jumps up, smiling, and goes to Bush with his hand out.
Come in, come in, pleasure. Coffee?
As Bush shakes Frank's hand, he stares into him, taking
everything in, his bloodshot eyes, the wrinkled shirt beneath
his suit, his breath. Frank feels downright naked.
You from anywhere?
A little bit of everywhere, I
guess. Get him a chair, Buddy!
Buddy stands behind the waiting chair.
Bush scrapes up a different chair. Frank goes behind the
desk. Buddy pulls up a chair.
Bush reaches into his coat and pulls out the wad of hermit
money and lays it on the desk. Frank does something
phenomenal. He ignores the money.
How can we help you, sir?
Bush gives Buddy a look, then looks back at Frank who
steadfastly refuses to look at the ball of money.
I'm after a funeral.
Boy, are you in luck.
41 INT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 41
Frank and Buddy stand with Bush in a room dedicated to sales.
Three caskets are lined up for display. All tanks.
Bush steps up to a cheap cloth covered box, bangs it with his
knuckles, and scowls. Frank points to a wooden casket.
Solid pecan, steel handles..
Bush eyes it, repulsed.
Mr. Bush is an amazing carpenter.
Forget the box. What else?
Whatever you want, flowers..
What kind of party?
Stumped for once in his life, Frank looks at Buddy. Then
years of honed instincts surge back to life.
We can do that.
42 INT. FUNERAL HOME/OFFICE - DAY 42
As they come back into the office..
And I want to be there.
Frank goes behind his desk. Buddy and Bush start to sit..
You will be, I guarantee it.
I want to be there now.
You want to be at your funeral..
(off Bush's nod)
But.. it's not a funeral if you're
not, you know, deceased..
Hold on now, it's a detail, we can
look at it.
Pretty big detail.
Frank cuts Buddy a look then smiles at Bush.
So you'd like to have a funeral
party while you're alive so you can
Yes or no?
Buddy is lost.
Buddy, get some paper. We need to
make of list of who Mr. Bush wants
As Buddy starts to get up.
Buddy sits right down.
I want everybody to come who's got
a story to tell about me.
That probably covers 4 counties..
Bush shoots him a look. Frank shoots him a look. Buddy thinks
about how great an outdoor life would be.
Then I want 4 counties worth of
people at the party.
Well, sir, the thing is, how would
you get people to come and tell
stories about you that I'm guessing
might get them, you know.. shot?
Bush scoops up the ball of money and heads out. Now all Frank
can see is the money, leaving.
You know what, you go ahead, don't
worry about it, we'll think of
something. A couple of ideas just
came to me.
43 EXT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 43
As Bush starts out the open door, he nearly bumps into
Buddy's wife, Kathryn, and MATTIE DARROW. Mattie is carrying
Kathryn and Buddy's baby boy.
Frank sees Mattie and flicks his hair back nervously and
quickly brushes his teeth with his finger as..
.Bush gives Mattie a glance and tries to be invisible.
Feigning deafness, Bush walks on. Sensing something, Kathryn
takes the baby so Mattie can go after him.
Felix! Say hello to me!
Frank, eyes wide with surprise, mouths, "Felix?".
Bush's shoulder hunch then fall as he turns. He looks into
her, taking everything in. When he speaks his eyes and voice
Buddy comes out, surprised to see Mattie and Bush together.
Frank walks up behind him and scowls. Kathryn steers them
back inside to give Mattie privacy.
Heard you moved off.
I've been back a while.
How are you?
You look like you always did.
He abruptly rips himself away and is gone.
44 INT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 44
Buddy and Frank are peeking out the window. They see Mattie
standing alone as Bush walks away.
How would she know him?
It's none of our business.
So? We got to know.
Kathryn shakes her head and goes back outside. FRANK has
another look at Mattie then lets the curtain fall back.
See the size of that thing?
What do you mean, what? Goddamn
ball of money! He wants a party
with pink balloons on his ears,
we're gonna give it to him.
I sold 26 of the ugliest cars ever
made one December, in Chicago, with
wind blowing so hard up my ass I
was farting snow flakes in July so
don't tell me we can't do this.
That's the last "but" I want to
hear out of you. You're a salesman
(looking out again)
She called him Felix.
45 EXT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 45
Kathryn rocks the baby in a carriage. Mattie is beside her.
A thousand years ago he was the
most interesting man I'd ever met.
Get out of here.
He was. And I don't mean just the
way he looked.
I hope not.
Oh no, listen, he was beautiful.
Are you serious?
Most people are just laid out nice
and simple, you know? You always
know what they're thinking and
where you are with them. But he was
this.. big old cave that went
deeper and deeper. You'd never get
to the end of him.
Good Lord, you had a crush on him!
All the girls did. I know he's
something wild that crawls out of
the hills once in a while and gets
into trouble now but there's still
nobody like him.
46 EXT. BUSH'S BARN - MORNING 46
Bush comes out of the barn. Frank and Buddy are there.
We have a plan. All we need is a
little bit of your time.
Seeing it is better than hearing
Bush looks at the hearse, back at Buddy and Frank.
How much is it gonna cost?
Did you say anything about money?
(touches his own chest)
I didn't say anything about money.
If we can't get you what you want
you don't owe us anything.
47 INT. HEARSE - DAY 47
Frank, Buddy, and Bush ride in the front seat of the hearse.
They are together but in very different worlds. They don't
even look at each other when they talk.
Buddy is lost in serious thought.
Frank is preoccupied about the deal and driving too fast.
Bush is scrunched up to the door. He is going much faster
than he is used to going. He kinda likes it and kinda
It moves, don't it?
This is nothing.
Fancy car for the dead.
Didn't buy it for them.
(out of nowhere)
We say that funerals are "For the
Living" but we forget what that
means sometimes, I guess.
(to Bush but almost to
I was thinking about your funeral
party before I went to sleep last
night and I think I understand it a
little now. When I was a kid, my
folks where killed in a bad car
wreck and the people at the funeral
home... they did the impossible as
far as I was concerned. I don't
know what I would've done without
them. And I remember wishing that
my mother and daddy were there to
see how beautiful they made
Frank is hearing this for the first time and is shocked. Bush
glances softly at Buddy then looks out the side window at the
world rushing by too fast. All at once he gives in to it.
48 EXT. TOWN STREET - DAY 48
The hearse pulls up on main street. Frank, Buddy, and Bush
get out and head toward Feldman's Clothing Store.
48A INT. FELDMAN'S CLOTHING STORE- DAY 48A
Frank and Buddy enter the store and find MR. FELDMAN and a
PHOTOGRAPHER setting up a large camera and backdrop. As they
turn to show Bush what is happening they see him go by the
Where's he going?
49 OMIT 49
50 INT. TOLLERUDE'S BARBER SHOP - DAY 50
A barber's drape falls over BUSH who is seated in a chair.
Frank and Buddy rush in. The barber, an anxious Mr.
Tollerude, pumps Bush's chair upward.
I wish you wouldn't do that yet.
Bush gives him the hairy eyeball then speaks to Mr.
Tollerude, a clear threat.
Don't leave me naked.
Mr. Bush, you can get all the hairs
cut you want after we take your
picture, I'll pay for it.
Mr. Tollerude doesn't know whether to cut or not.
Why you want my picture made?
That's what we're trying to tell
you. We're gonna run an ad in some
papers about your party and put up
posters of you.
And you want me to look like this?
It's how people recognize you, sir.
And you want as many people to come
as possible so..
So a crazy old nutter draws more.
Basically. Don't you think?
Do you ever say what you mean?
Bush rips the bib off as Tollerude whooshes him to the floor.
51 INT. FELDMAN'S CLOTHING STORE 51
Bush is seated in front of a backdrop painted with a bridge,
a swan, and a pond. The Photographer is trying to tidy up
Bush without offending him. As he walks back to camera, Bush
roughs himself up and looks truly wild.
Buddy snickers. When the Photographer gets back to the
camera, he cocks his head, what?!
(leans in to Buddy)
I'd go see that.
52 INT. TOLLERUDE'S BARBERSHOP - DAY 52
Mr. Tollerude, nervous as hell, brings Bush up from his
reclining position and turns the chair to the mirror.
Bush studies his well trimmed hair and beard for a moment.
It's impossible to tell what his thoughts are as he looks
into his own eyes.
Buddy and Frank are in the mirror too, staring at him.
Damn. You look pretty good..
Bush suddenly gets up and nods at Frank.
As Bush blows out the door, Mr. Tollerude leans against the
chair with relief.
53 INT. FELDMAN'S CLOTHING STORE - DAY 53
Bush stands in front of a full length mirror. He has on a
decent black suit, pinned to be hemmed, and a plain white
shirt, open at the collar. It is a startling change. But we
still can't tell what he is thinking.
Buddy is staring at him with honest disbelief.
Frank is quietly trying to get Mr. Feldman to lower the price
for the suit. He looks over and double-takes Bush.
Son of a bitch, it's almost worth
What do you think?
I wouldn't know you, sir.
Maybe the Devil won't either. Might
Where's the shoes?
Well, normally people don't wear
shoes in a casket so..
(off Bush's scowl)
.what are you, about a 10D?
54 INT. FELDMAN'S CLOTHING STORE - MOMENTS LATER 54
Buddy stands beside Frank who is still trying to get a deal
on the clothes. Bush walks up with two pairs of pants and two
new shirts, puts them on the counter, gives Frank a hard
look, and walks away. Frank looks down at the clothes, over
Pretty optimistic taking a change
of clothes to the grave.
(calls over his shoulder)
How you set for underwear?
Don't wear none.
One question too many.
55 OMIT 55
56 INT. HEARSE - DAY 56
Everyone is back in the hearse. Something is eating at Frank.
I don't mean to be nosey but uh..
how do you know Mattie?
She's a peach.
Frank and Buddy cut Bush a look. He looks ahead.
We had a go.
Frank nearly drives off the road.
57 INT. FUNERAL HOME/ FRANK'S ROOM - NIGHT 57
Late night Poker. Cigarette smoke drifts into the air.
Frank, Carl, Rev. Horton, Mattie, and RAY, a banker, are at
the table. Ray has the untouchable presence of someone
privileged which appears to be driving Frank up a tree
tonight. Horton gathers up his winnings.
"The Lord loves a cheerful giver.."
Oh please.. you think the Lord's
taking sides in a poker game in a
Horton shrugs and points to the divine evidence.
If He is, the Divine's cheating.
Don't agree with me Ray, it makes
me doubt myself.
Ray sighs and studies his perfectly cut nails.
I would have turned down your loan
if you were my own dear mother,
You made my point and don't even
Jesus, would you two stop it!
You're worse than two old women..
Ray shrugs, sweetly blase. Frank tries to rein in his temper
for her. The loss of the hand is especially hard on Carl who
has only a couple of dollars left.
What were you doing with that old
bastard in town today, anyway?
Oh yes. Buying him clothes, getting
him a haircut..on credit.
Frank shoots him a look.
Took out ads in a bunch of papers
too, something about a party?
God, I love small towns.
Who are you talking about?
That hermit, what's his name..
(a knowing look at Mattie)
You're giving him a party?
A funeral party.
Whatever you're drinking is not
being good to you at all.
What the hell is a funeral party?
Hey, the man wants to be at his own
funeral. What can I say? I'd like
to be at my funeral so I could tell
my ex-wife to kiss my..
What makes you think she'd show up
Because, Dear, vultures are
constitutionally unable to ignore
Mattie grins which delights Frank, no end.
Horton stops counting his money and stares at Frank.
It's that big wad of money of his
There is a crack in Ray's disinterest that he tries to hide.
What money is that?
Felix has money?
Everyone is looking at Frank but he shuffles the cards.
He came to see me, wanting a
funeral, had a big old greasy ball
of money. Talked like he thought he
could buy his way to heaven with
How much has he got? Maybe he can.
Hearing that Bush wants or needs a real funeral Mattie is
suddenly truly concerned.
Is he sick, Gus?
Horton shrugs. Frank notes the concern and doesn't like it.
Carl coughs and his ribs make him break out into a sweat.
I'll tell you one damn thing, ain't
nobody gonna go to a funeral for
that son of a bitch.
Mattie gives Carl a look
They might. He's inviting everyone
who has a story about him to come.
You could tell about him kicking
your ass, Carl.
Carl looks at Frank as if he wants to cold cock him.
Old man is going to ride the Weird
Train right into the ground, isn't
Wouldn't you like to know what
everybody says about you behind
your back, Ray?
(off his look)
Yeah, probably not.
I already know way more about
people than I need to.
Or want to.
Let's play some cards.
Oh for God's sake, face it Frank,
This is not about cards. It's a declaration meant to
embarrass Frank in front of everyone. Frank feels their eyes
on him as he starts to pull off his watch. Ray waves it off.
Please. I've won that 4 times
It's who has it last that counts.
Say what you want but if there
hadn't been anybody there the other
day he would've killed me. And I
guarantee you it wouldn't have been
his first time.
It sounds true and everyone is quiet except Mattie.
Everybody knows you started it.
(off his glare)
Don't look at me like that. I
remember when you were born. You
were the sweetest little boy. What
is wrong with you?
Momentarily shamed, Carl's face softens and we can see a
better man there. He struggles to hold on to it but..
I made a mistake. But there's a
line.. and he crossed it.. and
everybody knows that too. Ya'll go
on and have a party with the devil
for his money but I'll dance on his
Carl snatches his few dollars up and heads out.
You kind of hate to admit it when
it comes to Carl but he's got a
point. You don't know what Bush is
doing. What if he just wants to get
everybody in one place so he can
turn his shotgun on them?
I looked in his eyes. The truth is
nobody knows what he's capable of.
Maybe even he doesn't know.
She looks into him. Frank starts to deal the cards.
Go ahead and lay your watch down,
Frank. But I am going to keep it
this time, alright, on principle.
I got an idea. Let's try something
The cards in your sock? Leave'em
Everyone freezes. Ray shakes his head.
What are you trying to pull now?
You really think you're that good
that nobody sees?
You cheat at everything you do.
Even at the bank, you loan people
just enough to get'em deeper in so
you can foreclose on them.
You are a pathetic man. And a
Am I? Then stand up and roll down
(a deep dark look)
Stand up or I'll stand you up.
Ray looks around the table and suddenly realizes that he is
irreversibly exposed and alone. The sound of Frank's chair
scraping the floor makes him jerk up.
He walks out, trying to find his old confident rhythm and
failing. Everyone sits in uneasy silence.
58 INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT 58
Horton waves and walks out, leaving the door open. Frank
walks Mattie to the door, helping with her coat, trying to
work up his nerve to say..
I'll walk you home.
No. Thank you.
(off her firm nod)
You're not going to play anymore,
Oh, I don't know. Thank you for
inviting me though.
I'm sorry about the..we don't
always fight, okay, we do, but he's
had that coming for..
It's not that. I just..(trails off)
You came because you don't know
what to do with yourself.
(off her look)
I slept on the same side of the bed
my whole life, right? But after my
wife left me, I switched sides,
just like that, and never been able
to go back.
When someone you love is gone, you
can pour everything, even a
lifetime of things into the place
where they were but it's still
He sees that her thoughts are not with him at all but a
million miles away. She hardly glances up when she says..
He stares after her, wishing that she could see him the way
he sees her.
59 OMIT 59
60 INT.BUSH'S SHACK - NIGHT 60
Dim lamp light glows. We see Bush sitting on the edge of the
bed wiping the sweat from his face with a sheet. He looks up
at the picture of the beautiful woman.
61 INT.BUDDY'S HOUSE - NIGHT 61
Buddy sits in the dark, rocking his son who is asleep. A
small lamp casts a shadow across them. Kathryn comes in.
I didn't hear him wake up.
Everything's all right, hon.
I'm glad you don't know how quick
it can change.
She gently kisses his arm and the baby's head. Buddy looks at
her, haunted by the very possibility of their absence.
62 EXT. STREET - DAY 62
Mattie is standing on the sidewalk at Feldman's store with
her coat collar pulled up against the cold, giving someone we
can't see a bemused affectionate scolding..
Good Lord. Have you completely lost
Straighten up for heaven's sake
before somebody throws a net over
But she smiles in spite of herself, glances around to see if
anyone was watching and moves discretely on. As she does we
see that she was talking to a striking WANTED POSTER of a
wild man sitting in front of a pond, a swan, and a bridge.
The text reads:
MYSTERIOUS HERMIT OF CALEB COUNTY THROWS A FUNERAL PARTY!
EVERYONE IS INVITED. MUSIC! FOOD! STORIES! DANCING!
63 INT. WCGM RADIO STATION - NIGHT 63
A tiny PLACE, cramped with radio gear.
Buddy and Frank peer through a glass window into a small
control booth.(We will cut back and forth between the glass)
Buddy is having misgivings about being here. But Frank gives
the thumbs up to the young WCGM ANNOUNCER in the booth, a
hopeful kid with a smooth voice and dreams of the big-time.
The Announcer hands Bush a set of headphones. Bush is wearing
his new clothes and truly looks like a different man.
Bush is puzzled by the headset. The kid takes it and clamps
it onto Bush's head. He starts to yank them off then hears a
song playing inside his head and loves it. But now the
announcer cuts the record off and Bush scowls.
Friends, we have a treat for you
today on WCGM. Our special guest is
going to tell us about an event
that everyone is talking about. And
here he is, Mr. Felix Bush, the
mysterious hermit of Caleb County!
How are you today, sir?
Bush is surprised by the sound of his own voice.
So tell us, sir, exactly how did
you come up with the idea of having
a funeral party before you die?
I dreamed it.
Why would I make that up?
Two seconds of dead air as the announcer finds his feet.
Okay. Now I have to say that you
don't look quite like you do on the
I got pruned.
Well, you're a bit of a local
legend, sir. I was a little nervous
about our interview. I've heard
some pretty wild stories..
Well uh, just.. from what I
understand, you want everyone who
has a story about you to come and
tell it. Is that right?
You come and tell yours.
Thank you. Now how long have you
been living out there by yourself?
64 INT. MATTIE DARROW HOUSE - NIGHT/CONTINUOUS 64
Mattie is cutting the stems of some lovely yellow flowers and
arranging them in a vase.
40 some years.
40 years with nobody to talk to?
First 38 are the hardest.
65 INT. WCGM - CONTINUOUS 65
But why would you do that, Mr.
Bush, shut yourself off like that?
Frank isn't happy with this but Buddy wants to hear.
Come to the funeral and maybe
you'll find out.
You heard it here on WCGM, folks,
find out the answer to the mystery
One more thing, boy.
FRANK and Buddy tense. What's this?
66 INT. DARROW HOUSE - CONTINUOUS 6 6
Mattie tenses at the sound in Bush's voice.
Gonna be a drawing.
What kind of drawing, sir?
You buy a ticket for $5.00 The day
of the funeral we draw names. Then
when I die, the winner gets my
place, 300 acres of timber that
hasn't been touched in 40 years.
Mattie accidentally cuts a bloom off of a flower.
67 INT. WCGM - SAME 67
Dead air. The kid, Frank, and Buddy are all staring at Bush.
For 5 dollars?
Send it to the Quinn Funeral Home.
Frank's eyes light up like fiery pinwheels and he almost
yelps! Buddy looks oddly perplexed and sad.
You heard him! If you want a chance
to win 300 acres of virgin timber
worth thousands and thousands of
dollars, send 5 dollars along with
your name and address to..
(off Frank waving and
pointing to himself)
Frank Quinn at Quinn Funeral Home.
As the Announcer begins a song, Bush moves his head in time
with the music. Frank and Buddy rush into the control booth.
I could almost kiss you on the
I'll take a ticket.
You're betting on a man dying..
I didn't mean it like..
Hey, it's his idea!
They look at Bush who has taken off the headset and looking
at it like he wants to take it home.
It's what you want, right?
Buy a ticket, son.
68 INT. DARROW HOUSE - SAME 6 8
Mattie puts the vase of flowers on table with a group of
family photographs. The picture beside the vase is the SAME
PHOTOGRAPH of the beautiful woman that Bush has. Is it
Mattie? It looks a little like her.
INSERT PHOTO: The BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN stares at us as we
PULL BACK TO REVEAL that we are now looking at the identical
photo tacked to Bush's wall.
69 OMIT 69
70 EXT. BUSH'S BARN - LATE DAY 70
Bush starts out of the barn, draws back, and peeks through
the wall boards: A FIGURE approaches. He jerks..
REVEAL Mattie walking
Mattie enters, straining to see into the barn. Her eyes
adjust to find him standing near Mule. She is startled and
pleased by his new do.
Look at you. I wondered if you were
still under that beard.
Wasn't nowhere else to go.
I heard you on the radio.
You've gotten downright chatty.
I reckon so.
This is nice. I drove by a few
times after I got back but..
You want to see it?
Do you want me to?
71 EXT. BUSH'S LAND - DAY 71
The first stop on the tour is a small fenced grave site near
the shack. Three grave markers with names carved into them:
KEEPER, CHARLIE, MAUDE.
Bush is squatting down staring at the markers. Mattie stands
close beside him. Since his attention is elsewhere she looks
at him in an unguarded way. Her mind is full of questions,
old and new.
You always know where you stand
with a dog. Want to lay here with
them someday if they'll have me.
72 EXT. BUSH'S LAND - DAY/LATER 72
Mattie and Bush walks side by side through the last of the
glimmering light and shadows beneath the trees. It is a
chilly and Mattie's cheeks are flushed. She is enchanted by
the place. Bush tries to hide how winded he is..
It really is beautiful. Probably
looked like this everywhere a
hundred years ago.
You leave things alone, they know
what to do.
No, Ma'am. I don't know what to do
about anything much.
You've been alone a long time.
Some people are more suited to it
than others, I reckon.
That's funny cause I never thought
that it'd suit you. I knew you
wouldn't be like anybody else but..
no one to talk to, no one to.. be
He looks into her then looks away at something.
How you sleeping these days, girl?
How am I what?
You sleep good?
No, not lately. How'd you know?
He veers off the path and pulls up a plant and brings it back
Chamomile, it's good when the
nights get long. Helps you nod off.
She takes it and smiles up at him.
Want to go on a ways?
Would you stay for supper?
I don't want to be any trouble.
A supper guest every 30-40 years is
not much trouble, Girl.
He holds out his arm.
Better stay close, some big old
wild cats been eating my chickens..
She looks around and takes his arm.
.or maybe it was me..
She snorts and slaps his arm but doesn't let go..
73 OMITTED 73
74 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - NIGHT 74
They enter the dark room together. Bush lights a lantern,
gets a chair from a corner and holds it out for her. She sits
and watches him check a cast iron pot on the warm stove and
put a log on the fire. She notices the beautiful table.
You always were good with your
He puts a glass of tea in front of her and sits down.
You still play the piano?
I teach a few girls.
I got a good feeling when you
played. Remember that time you was
playing and the lamp burned out?
And you went right on in the dark?
I hear that song sometimes at
She shrugs shyly and sips the tea. Seconds tick by.
Sure is quiet out here.
(cocks his head)
I said it's..
(stops/gets the joke)
I tried to write you at times but I
didn't know what to say.
Well. I heard you married.
He was a Doctor; a real good man.
We lived in St. Louis for awhile.
He died unexpectedly about a year
ago. I came back here because.. I
have no idea why.
The list of people who are gone is
getting longer and longer and
sometimes I feel like all I'm doing
is waiting for my name to come up.
You have a tender heart, always
She gives him a curious look.
You can't wait for anything,
Mattie. Close your eyes, hold your
breath.. stay in one spot your
whole life, but you're still
moving, like the world's moving
under you. There's no waiting.
And there's no getting over some
things either, is there?
Reckon not, Little Bit.
Little Bit?! Oh my God, nobody's
called me that in..
But suddenly she is lifted from the chair as if by strong
ropes. She stares at the wall as she walks toward Bush's bed.
Bush is stricken and white. He would stop her if he could but
it is too late.
She walks right up to the picture at the edge of the lamp
light and stares into it as if it is a mirage that will
disappear if she blinks.
Finally she whirls and looks at him, her face a tortured
mask. A strangled sob escapes her.
He gets up and stands there staring at the floor.
Suddenly she is moving toward him and then past him and out
the door. Her shadow merges with the darkness. Bush stands
with his head down, staring into oblivion.
75 OMIT 75
76 OMITTED 76
78 INT. FUNERAL HOME/OFFICE - DAY 78
Buddy comes in frowning and lugging a heavy mail sack. What
the hell? He looks up and sees more sacks dumped on the desk.
Frank is grinning and ripping open envelopes from the sacks
and each one has 5 dollars in it! Buddy looks down and sees
even more mail sacks on the floor!
Yeah! But, but it's not our money.
Well yeah, no, but some of it's
gonna be! We're putting this thing
Frank rips open two more envelopes and dollar bills rain down
to the floor. He's beside himself. Buddy eyes him warily.
He should be here. I'm gonna go get
They lock eyes. Frank finally tosses him the hearse keys.
79 OMITTED 79
80 INT. FUNERAL HOME/OFFICE - DAY 80
Buddy, Frank, and Bush are staring reverently at the money
stacked across the desk and the full paper sacks all around
the desk. Bush eyes Buddy who is still quiet.
I don't know exactly how much your
land's worth but looks to me like
you could get maybe 10 times that
or more. I don't know what to do
with it. I mean it's yours to do
with what you want but I'm getting
a little nervous about it. Never
thought I'd see enough money to
make me nervous. We should probably
talk about the price for
everything, the clothes, the ads,
the food and drink for the party,
the music.. our fee for everything,
we'll be fair about that, I'm not
worried about it.
Bush is looking at Buddy who is looking across the room.
What do you think, boy?
Buddy jerks, looks at Frank, at Bush.
Money makes people do funny things.
I think you should probably put it
in the bank, sir.
No! Ray is not..
(off Bush's look)
I mean, if it was my money I'd put
it in a bank out of town so
everyone didn't know my business.
This bank here, you can't trust,
that's all I'm saying.
Can I trust you?
Every name, every dollar, is right
Not what I asked.
I've done a hell of a job for you.
I don't see why..
Mr. Bush, I didn't mean to imply..
I've sold horses, cars, houses,
hell, pocket watches pinned to the
inside of my coat. I'm not ashamed
of it. I don't rob banks, don't
cheat at cards, and I sleep all
right the nights I sleep. What was
He nods at the money and suddenly becomes the "other" Bush.
Take out for the expenses you've
already had and give me the
receipts. As the bills come in for
things, give them to me and I'll
pay them. Put this money in a box
and the boy and I'll take it
someplace in the morning. Whatever
new comes in, keep it in the bottom
of one of them ugly caskets in
there 'till I come get it. After
the party, name a fair price for
what you've done and we'll settle
I'll be at the car.
After he's gone, Frank and Buddy stare at each other.
Is it just me or is he extremely
fucking articulate when he wants to
I don't know who's selling who what
It's not clear, is it?
Not only that but something feels
Hold on. I told you that you were
working on commission..
So whatever our end of this is, you
get a piece.
Half. It could help set you up,
Buddy. So whatever feels wrong is
gonna feel right pretty damn
quick,okay? We just have to close
it out. From here on, watch me, do
what I do, and we'll be fine.
He wants you to go with him to take
this money somewhere which means
that it's you he trusts. And that's
fine because I trust you too. Just
don't trust him, okay?
I'm lost again.
Look, that funny feeling you have..
I have it too. And it's not funny.
So go along, be friendly, but
There's a euphoria that comes with
closing a deal, Buddy, and the
bigger the deal, the higher you
get. It's better than anything.
But the critical time is just
before it closes. It's like a
witching hour and everything tries
to come apart. We're not going to
let that happen.
(as Buddy starts out)
You know.. I always wondered why
you wanted to work here. I thought
you could do a lot better.
(off Buddy's look back)
I didn't know about your folks, I'm
He goes on.
Frank turns and flips through a large stack of bills,
81 INT. BUDDY'S HOUSE/BEDROOM - NIGHT 8 1
Buddy's son is crying his heart out. Kathryn comes in
unbuttoning her blouse, picks him up, sits down, slips her
blouse off her shoulder, brings the boy to her breast and
voila, his sorrow miraculously vanishes.
Buddy appears in the doorway, his eyes soft with love.
I might have a crying fit coming on
Is that right?
Feeling a little weepy.
(leans against door frame)
I can maybe do something really
good for us, Katy.
You already have.
I mean, money wise.
About Mr. Bush?
Yeah. I'm getting half of whatever
we make off of him.
So why aren't you happy about it?
Didn't know I wasn't.
(off her look)
I was happy for a minute. And then
the whole thing of making a
carnival out of a person's death, I
don't know if it's right.
Is it what he wants?
He says it is.
You are not responsible for what
other people do, Buddy, just you.
You're right. You're always right.
At least I am when I'm half naked.
82 INT. MATTIE'S HOUSE - NIGHT 82
A very determined little GIRL is working her way through a
song on the piano that is unrecognizable in this form, even
Mattie sits just behind the girl with tears in her eyes, not
really listening. On the table beside the piano is a stack of
picture albums and old yellowed newspaper articles.
83 EXT/INT BUSH'S SHACK/HEARSE - MORNING 83
Sitting in the hearse outside of Bush's shack, Buddy watches
Bush get in the car with his shotgun. There is a big wooden
box of money on the seat between them. Bush props his shotgun
Where to, sir?
(starting the hearse)
Till I say, son.
Buddy gives him an uneasy look and pulls off down the tree-
84 EXT. ROAD - DAY 84
The hearse slips around the narrow road that cuts through
miles of farm land lying fallow in the winter.
85 INT. HEARSE - DAY 85
Buddy looks out at the highway. He is driving slow. Bush is
leaning against the money, thinking.
How much further now?
Bush waves him on. Buddy scowls then decides to get serious
about this. He presses on the accelerator and the hearse
takes off down the highway.
86 INT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 86
Frank is hopelessly lost in a sea of envelopes. The phone is
ringing off the hook, there are full sacks around him, and
some Reporter is trying to take a picture through the front
window. Frank scowls and lowers the blinds.
87 EXT. MATTIE'S HOUSE - DAY 87
Frank is at Mattie's door entranced by the troubled but
beautiful piano music coming from inside. It stops abruptly
when he knocks. In seconds, Mattie appears.
He looks almost boyish and bashful as he drinks her in.
Was that you? It was really..
This is a surprise.
He stands, loving the view, forgetting why he is here.
She waits it out as long as she can, not sure how she feels
about this adoring look.
Was there something you..?
Uh, yeah.. Help!
I'm up to my ears with this funeral
and I thought, you know, we haven't
had time to talk much lately so
maybe you'd like to come over and
rip open envelopes with me and
I'm sorry, I have lessons all
afternoon. I have to get back in.
Oh, okay, I just..
She slips back inside. Frank stares at the door.
88 INT. MATTIE`S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS 88
Mattie leans against the door with her eyes closed. There is
no student at the piano.
89 OMITTED 89/90 89
91 EXT. CHURCH/SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - AFTERNOON 91
The hearse is parked in front of a beautiful white board
91A INT. HEARSE - AFTERNOON 91A
Close on Bush and Buddy.
Don't say nothing.
You can say "hi".
Bush gets out. Buddy sighs, mimes "Hi" and gets out.
92 INT. ILLINOIS CHURCH ENTRY - AFTERNOON 92
Buddy quietly creeps in through the front door, looks back
over his shoulder, scowls, and enters the church.
93 He stops and looks around, awed by the beautifully serene 93
Now he sees a tall BLACK MAN (70) come out of an office door
behind the pulpit, walk up the aisle, glancing out the window
at the driveway, and then at Buddy.
Buddy is out of words that he is allowed to say. He glances
at the door but Bush is not coming in.
Charlie holds out his hand, Buddy shakes it.
Are you sure you're in the right
place? Not expecting a funeral.
Suddenly Bush steps into the church. Charlie squints over
then stares at Bush with utter disbelief.
They shake hands, then hug. Buddy is blown away that Bush
would hug anyone. Bush looks up at the church rafters.
Charlie give Bush a look then holds out his hand to Buddy
Reverend Charlie Jackson.
That's Buddy Robinson, he don't
Someone better talk. A ghost pulls
up in the driveway in a hearse, you
expect a little bit of a story.
94 INT. CHURCH - LATER 94
Bush, Buddy and Charlie, sit in pews near a lovely altar.
My hearing is not what it was. It
sounded like you said you want me
to preach at your funeral party
with you sitting there?
(shaking his head)
You know I've talked to God a lot
about you over the years and he
said he broke the mould when he
made you. Said you were sure
entertaining to watch but way too
What would you want me to say at
Whatever you want to, Charlie.
Could you give us a minute?
Buddy starts to get up.
Buddy plops back down.
What's the matter? You scared to be
alone with me?
He can hear what's said.
Buddy is surprised again. So is Charlie.
All right. After you left here..
did you do the right thing?
Felix looks up at the beautifully crafted pulpit.
I did.. what I thought was right.
You confessed? Asked forgiveness?
Bush looks off and the muscles jump in his jaw.
Did you tell her, Felix?
Charlie sighs, leans on his knees, and drops his head.
You came a long way for nothing
Bush's eyes jerk back to Charlie and they are hot.
Don't you dare..
I built my own jail and put myself
in it! And I stayed in it for 40
goddamn years! No wife, no kids, no
friends! That's not enough?
You know it isn't.
(tears welling up)
Well. Why don't you come and say
that then, Charlie? Hell, say it
all! I don't care.
Not on your life.
The air is so heavy you can't breathe it. Bush suddenly gets
up and leaves. Buddy starts to follow. Charlie puts his hand
on him to stay. They sit in silence a moment.
How much do you know about him?
Almost nothing, sir. I just work at
the funeral home.
Do you know he built this church?
How's a man like him make something
like this? I mean, I know he's a
good carpenter but this is..
(off Buddy's look)
Maybe it's the best of him, maybe
he put his soul into it, I don't
What ya'll were talking about..
what did he do? Who was he supposed
For him and God to know I guess. I
wish I'd never been put between
them, that's for sure.
I will tell you that he showed up
here half dead. I had just started
preaching. Over the next 4 years we
Are you coming to the funeral?
Charlie sighs and looks around.
94A Omitted 94A
95 INT. HEARSE/MOVING/PMP - NIGHT 95
Buddy and Bush are both lost in thought. Finally..
Can I ask you something?
Do you have to?
Yes. What are we doing? Since the
day you came into the funeral home,
I don't think anything has happened
that you didn't want to happen. I
just don't know where it's going.
There's a whole lot of things that
you don't know. Like what a dog
dreams. You can make up a story
about him chasing rabbits but you
don't know if there's rabbits in
there or not. And he can't tell
you, can he?
Not unless he's a very special dog.
They snort together.
People don't say what they mean
either so you don't really know any
more about them then you do about
that dog's dream.
That time you left my house I saw
you stop and look back. You wanted
to know what could make somebody
(off Buddy's uneasy look)
Well here you are, son, here you
96 INT. FUNERAL HOME - EVENING 9 6
Frank is putting money into a casket. He checks his watch.
Where are you..?
Lighting flashes and the lights suddenly go out.
97 EXT.OUTSIDE OF TOWN - NIGHT 97
The hearse creeps down the road
98 INT.HEARSE - NIGHT 9 8
Buddy looks tired. Bush is sitting up ramrod straight,
thinking hard about something.
I better stop and tell Frank we're
back. He's probably had 2 or 3
hissy fits by now.
(looks out at the rain)
Why don't you stay the night at the
house and I'll take you home in the
The simple kindness seems to short Bush out. Buddy doesn't
notice, he's still looking ahead.
Well, I... I ain't stayed with
nobody in a.. in a long while.
It's fine if you want to.
Bush looks as if he might say yes but he NOTICES where the
car is passing through and..
Let me out.
Stop the car.
Bush starts to open the door. Buddy stops abruptly.
You can't walk. It's too far..
Bush climbs out with his shotgun.
Put the money in a casket.
You might as well get back in, I'll
follow you all the way.
(snaps the gun closed)
Get the hell out of here, boy!
Buddy's eyes are defiant. Bush slams the door and walks away,
crossing over a fence and out into a dark field.
Not responsible. Not responsible.
He slams the steering wheel.
99 OMITTED 99
100 OMITTED 100
101 INT. FUNERAL HOME - NIGHT 101
Buddy is putting the money into the foot of a casket. A lit
candelabra sits nearby. There is NOISE, like the muted sound
of something breaking. Buddy jerks and listens.
Frank? Hello? Mr. Bush?
He stuffs the money into the casket, grabs the candelabra,
comes back, seals the lid, and starts into the office.
102 EXT. CEMETERY - NIGHT 102
Under the trees crooked rows of cold ghostly headstones
glisten in the darkness. An old pocket lighter flares to
reveal Bush staring at a pot of yellow flowers. He holds the
lighter to a tombstone and brushes away the debris. It reads:
MARY LEE STROUP B. 1874 D. 1894. THUNDER rolls.
Close on Bush's face as rain begins to fall..
They keep talking about
forgiveness.. ask Jesus for
forgiveness.. I never did nothing
103 OMIT 103/104/105 103
106 INT. FUNERAL HOME - NIGHT 106
Frank enters with a flashlight. He sees that his desk and
files have been ransacked. He rushes into the casket room.
Several caskets have been thrown to the floor. He goes to the
one where the money is, finds that it is sealed tight, and
sighs with relief. Hearing something he whips the light
around and sees Buddy on the floor.
107 INT. FUNERAL HOME - NIGHT/LATER 107
Frank examines a cut and bump on top of Buddy's head by
flashlight and dabs it gently with a cloth.
The cut's not bad but how's the
He moves his finger across Buddy's eyes.
He looks him over carefully. He's had experience.
Dizzy? Double vision? Nauseous?
(off Buddy's no)
You'll be okay. Did you see who it
No. I was putting the money in..
heard glass breaking.. locked up
the casket quick and.. boom..
You did good.
Doesn't feel good.
108 INT. DARROW HOUSE/LIVING ROOM - LATER 108
Mattie sits beside a fire, knitting a baby blanket by an oil
lamp. All at once the lights sputter on, the radio lights up,
warms, and begins to PLAY, as a KNOCK at the door..
109 INT./EXT. FRONT DOOR/DARROW HOUSE - CONTINUOUS 109
Mattie pulls the door open. Bush is standing there soaking
wet, breathing hard, holding his shotgun. She draws back
reflexively. He looks into her.
110 INT. DARROW HOUSE/BEDROOM - NIGHT 110
Bush stands with a towel around him, shivering.
Mattie opens a dresser drawer. Inside the drawer, is the
carefully arranged tableau of a watch, a ring, a stethoscope,
and some clothes. She hates to disturb the drawer but pulls
out a pair of black pants and a white shirt, lays them on the
bed, and walks out.
111 INT. DARROW HOME/LIVING ROOM - NIGHT 111
Mattie steps from the kitchen with a steaming mug as Bush
comes down the stairs in clothes that are too loose.
Still shivering, Bush steps uneasily in front of the fire.
Mattie hands him the hot mug. He looks uneasily at the yellow
flowers on the table nearby.
What are you doing here?
Burned through, a log falls in the fire. Bush jerks oddly and
Can I sit a minute?
She stares at him then nods at a chair. She keeps standing
behind the other chair.
He bends over the mug and seems to lock up inside.
You want to know why I have your
sister's picture on my wall?
I'm not stupid, Felix. No, I take
that back. How long was it going
on? She was already married when I
met you. Were you just making up to
me to get to her?
Bush is so still he looks like a gargoyle.
If you're not going to talk, leave.
Can you help who you love?
Mattie's face tells us that she has asked herself that
question many times.
I've had 40 years to think about it
and I still don't know.
I don't know either, so..
Slowly the gargoyle unfolds. His eyes drill into her.
I want to tell you how it was. If
you don't want me to, I'll go.
Mattie sighs from down deep in her shoes then comes around
and sits down.
Don't lie to me. When did you take
up with her?
I came to see you and she was
there, hanging clothes on the line
with your mama.
Bush stares out the window so hard, Mattie turns to see what
he is looking at..
She turned around..
(as Mattie turns back)
.and.. I promise you that I did
not know that I had a heart till
Tears well up in Mattie's eyes.
You were a fine fine girl. I didn't
know why you wanted anything to do
with me but I was gonna keep coming
to see you 'till my luck ran out.
And then I saw her.
She was married! And she wasn't
just my sister, she was my best
friend. We told each other
everything. I can't.. how long did
it go on?!
Bush's face is so white it looks like a death mask.
It's still going on, Little Bit.
Mattie tries to absorb that. The truth and tragedy of it
touches her in way that she is not prepared for. They sit
there in silence. She suddenly wipes her face and scowls.
Did you have anything to do with
The mug trembles. She sees it.
Like a fish jerked from the water, he mouth opens and closes,
but nothing comes out.
(off his haunted silence)
Get out of my house! NOW!
Bush stands up quickly and starts for the door.
And go to hell!
He staggers, tries to catch himself but slides down against
Despite her anger, Mattie starts toward him.
112 INT. DARROW HOME/LIVING ROOM - NIGHT/MOMENTS LATER 112
Bush sits on the floor, pale as moonlight. Mattie is beside
him with a stethoscope in her lap.
You need to see a doctor..
He raises his eyes to her but says nothing. They look into
each other for a long moment.
Just tell me, Felix. Did you hurt
Mary or not?
Bush stares into her then suddenly gets up, picks up his
shotgun and goes out the door without a word.
113 INT. FUNERAL HOME/FRONT DOOR - NIGHT 113
Frank is putting the files back in the drawers when he hears
a NOISE. He reaches into the drawer and turns with a pistol
in his hand.
Bush is standing in the doorway with his shotgun.
What the hell?!
Bush glances at the pistol, at the open drawers of the
cabinet and desk.
They get it?
No. Buddy sealed it up in a casket.
Took a crack on the head, but..
(cold dark look)
Is he all right?
I was an army medic. He'll be fine.
But Bush is still dark.
But you ought to take those clothes
back and get something in your
They get the whiskey?
114 INT. FUNERAL HOME/OFFICE - NIGHT/LATER 114
Frank sits with his feet on the desk. Bush sits across from
him. They each have a cup of whiskey.
Brought the money back, huh?
(off Bush's absent nod)
Listen, I've been thinking.. What
if we had the party at your place?
People are going to want to see the
land they're getting so..
Well, think about it, we could..
Don't know that I'm doing it.
Thinking to call it off.
Damn well can if I want to.
No no no, it's in motion!
If I say no, it's no. Send the
You're killing me! I bought things,
hired people.. promised money,
everybody in town is hoping to..
I care about this town as much as
they care about me.
It's what you said you wanted and
I've busted my ass for you. So why
don't you want it anymore? You owe
It was the end of the line, tell it
all, get out of jail party. But I
guess I ain't got the goddamn guts
to open my own mouth and I can't
get nobody to talk for me so the
hell with it. And to hell with me.
Bush grabs his shotgun and goes. Frank sits, stunned.
115 INT. BUDDY'S HOUSE-EARLY MORNING 115
Buddy sits at the breakfast table, holding his son. He opens
and closes his eyes, checking out his vision. Kathryn, at the
stove, sees him out of the corner of her eye.
Are you having trouble seeing?
I see you're mad.
I'm not mad. I'm concerned
She shoves the skillet off the burner and comes to him.
No, you're mad.
She tenderly touches his head.
If I could get my hands on whoever
did this, you'd see mad.
Buddy! You up?!
Frank rushes in, lifts a phantom hat to Kathryn, scrapes up a
chair, pulls on the baby's toe, and looks at Buddy.
What's the matter?
Bush is pulling out.
What happened yesterday?
I told you, we went up to Illinois
and met a preacher.
But what happened?
He asked the preacher to come to
the funeral. He said no.
Son of a bitch, that's got to be..
(to the baby)
Sorry. Where's the preacher?
It won't do you any good.
He knows something about Bush,
something bad, I think.
What is it?
Wouldn't say but..
Well if Bush wants him, by God,
Bush is gonna get him.
(slams the skillet down)
You want eggs, Frank, or will the
What? What's wrong?
What's wrong? My husband has his
head bashed in and all you care
about is this party!
It's not like that, Katie, this is
for all of us. You're like.. family
to me.. I..
This is not how family acts!
Well, I'm sorry. I've never had any
(gets up/to Buddy)
Buddy nods. Frank leaves. Buddy mutters to the baby..
Stay out of her way today, partner.
116 EXT. MATTIE'S HOUSE - MORNING 11 6
Mattie is on her knees trying to plant bulbs in the hard cold
ground. Her trowel barely gouges the earth. She stabs it
again and again into the ground.
Fool, it's too late for bulbs..
Suddenly she hurls the trowel as far as she can, then a
handful of bulbs.. then her hat.
.too goddamn late..
117 INT. FUNERAL HOME/OFFICE - DAY 117
Buddy is surrounded by bags. He is copying down names onto
raffle tickets and putting them in bin for the drawing. There
is a MAN standing guard by the front door with a rifle.
118 INT. BUSH'S BARN - DAY 118
Mule stands with his ears back, upset. Bush, back in his old
clothes, is angrily planing a board. The box of his casket
minus the lid is on sawhorses behind him.
119 OMITTED 119
120 INT. CHARLIE'S HOUSE/SOUTHERN ILLINOIS- LATE DAY 120
A blurred image becomes clear as a magnifying glass lowers
to a page of a stamp collection book. Fingers fill an empty
space with a prized addition. A LOUD KNOCKING startles him
and the stamp is placed slightly crooked..
Reveal Charlie Jackson scowling at the crooked stamp. He gets
up, does a double-take out the window. MORE LOUD KNOCKING.
121 INT. CHARLIE'S HOUSE - LATE DAY 121
Charlie opens the door, sees Frank standing there. The hearse
is parked outside.
(Charlie looks at hearse)
Frank Quinn, Quinn funeral home.
How'd you find me?
Frank just smiles, takes off his hat, and offers his hand.
Charlie gives him a long look and reluctantly motions him in.
Frank enters, noting the clean simple home of man with an
orderly mind. Charlie motions for Frank to sit down.
I was going to play some dominos
this afternoon. But something told
me to stay home. I should have
played dominos. Is he out there?
Bush? No, sir.
Did you check the back?
Frank snorts, liking Charlie immediately.
You told Bush that you wouldn't
come to the funeral?
If he got that, why are you here?
To help you rethink it.
I don't need any help.
Have you rethought it?
(off Charlie's look)
So there is a need.
First off, Bush doesn't know I'm
I wouldn't be so sure about that.
(off Frank's look)
He's got a way of making people do
what he wants them to.
Frank squirms, knows it true.
Is he really a hermit?
Frank whistles and takes Bush's poster out of his coat.
Charlie jerks at the picture of the wild man.
He came to see me after he'd been
here, wants to call the party off.
I don't care.
Said he'd meant it to be a.. end of
the line, tell it all, get out of
jail funeral but that he didn't
have the guts to open his mouth and
he couldn't get anybody to talk for
him. You know anything about that
(off Charlie's sigh)
At first he said he wanted
everybody to come who had a story
about him. But he didn't want to
hear their bullshit stories, did
he? Pardon my language. He wants to
tell one, doesn't he?
Whatever he did, it's been locked
up in him for 40 years and he can't
get it out.
(off Charlie's look)
I think he told you. You may be the
only person he told. And now he
wants you to tell it for him.
Because he won't.
At least he wants the truth to come
out, give him that.
I'll think about it.
Is there a boarding house around
I said I'd think.
Yeah but if you're not coming, I'm
not going back. I made promises I
can't keep to people I care about.
This falls apart they won't blame
Bush. Bank will take my business..
If I'm gonna have to start over
again, might as well be from here.
Charlie scowls at him.
122 INT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY 122
Using a tool, Buddy unseals the casket to put the new money
in it and discovers that the rest of the money is gone? He
can't believe it. He yanks back the casket bed lining..
123 OMITTED 123
126 INT. BUSH'S BARN - DAY 126
Bush is sanding the beautiful lid of his casket. It is
leaning against the wall and sawdust is drifting down all
over him. He suddenly stops, rubs the wood tenderly, muscles
up the heavy top to put it on the box and staggers back. It's
not the weight, something is wrong. Sweat pops out on his
forehead. He forces himself to the casket and drops the top
down hard, staggers back against the loft ladder, slides down
to the ground, and stares at the casket. Is this it?
127 EXT. CROSS ROADS - DAY 127
The hearse sits on the side of the road. Road signs give the
mileage to different destinations.
127A INT. HEARSE - DAY 127A
Frank is lying in the back of the hearse, his head propped up
on an old suitcase. He sips from his flask and stares out the
128 INT. BUSH'S BARN - LATE DAY 128
Bush is still on the ground propped against the ladder. His
eyes are closed and the fading light steals across his face
that is as still as it can be. The sawdust makes him look
almost wooden. A shadow crosses then comes closer.
Buddy is sure he is dead but Bush's eyes open.
What are you doing, sir?
Getting a suntan.
Bush starts to get up then falls back against the ladder.
Are you stuck?
You have no goddamn idea how right
you are, son.
Buddy moves to help him up but Bush waves him off.
I'll sit here a minute.
Bush looks at the butterfly bandage on Buddy's head.
We're a pair, ain't we?
Are you sick?
Just going through the motions.
What does that mean?
There's Alive and there's Dead.
And there's a worst place in
between them that I hope you never
know nothing about.
Do you know who hurt you?
It doesn't matter. Listen. Frank
went somewhere and the raffle money
You figure he took off with it?
I don't know. I don't want to think
that. But the money's not here and
I don't know where it is. He said
he'd call and he never did.
Buddy glances into the shadows and sees the casket looming on
the sawhorses. He stares at it..
Well.. what do you want to do?
Buddy looks back at Bush.
(realizing just then)
I want to make this funeral for you
if you want it.
(a long look)
Hell. Do it if you can.
I guess for everyone like me,
there's one like you, son. I about
Buddy holds out his hand to help Bush up but Bush forces
himself up on his own and walks out.
129 OMITTED 129
130 INT. CHARLIE'S HOUSE/SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - EVENING 130
Charlie sits at his desk, staring blankly at his crooked
stamp. Suddenly Fate in the form of Frank Quinn looms at the
window. Charlie knows he is there but he won't look at him.
131 INT. BUDDY'S HOUSE/BEDROOM- DAWN 131
Buddy, Kathryn, and the baby are sleeping soundly. There is a
SCRATCHING NOISE. Buddy sits up, grabs a baseball bat and
falls back asleep. The scratching starts again. He opens his
eyes, surprised to see the bat in his hand. He hears the
scratching. He looks around, sees something at the window. He
slides to the floor, crawls on his knees, and looks out.
Frank is standing there, scratching on the screen. Behind him
is Charlie, looking very unhappy about standing in the near
dark in a small southern town, scratching on a screen.
Buddy realizes what he is seeing and starts to smile.
132 EXT. BUDDY'S HOUSE - DAWN 132
Frank, Buddy, and Charlie are on the porch, watching the
world come to life. Charlie looks as if he is hoping for some
kind of sign from above.
I'm glad you decided to come, sir.
Free will is not all that it's
cracked up to be.
Did you take the money out of the
Why didn't you tell me?!
You forgot?! Where is it?
In the hearse, under the
Charlie remembers that Frank said he wasn't coming back and
gives him a look. Buddy is giving Frank the same look.
What? Nobody steals a hearse. Now
all we got to do is take the
Reverend here to Bush and..
I forgot to tell you, Mr. Bush
already said he would do it.
You're shittin' me?!
Charlie gets up and starts walking away..
Where can I catch a train?
You can't leave you just got here.
Watch and learn.
Where's the station?
133 EXT - BUSH'S LAND/ROAD - MORNING 133
A tractor pulling a trailer with a big old honking generator
on it, a truck loaded with equipment and workers for the big
event rumbles down a dirt road. The Quinn Funeral home hearse
completes the unlikely parade.
134 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - MORNING 134
Bush, dressed in his new suit, shirt, and shoes is a striking
figure. The old hermit is gone. He looks into the mirror.
135 EXT. MATTIE'S HOUSE - MORNING 135
Horton hold the car door open for Kathryn who is holding the
baby and looking back puzzled at Mattie's house. Finally she
sighs and gets into the car.
135A INT. MATTIE'S HOUSE - MORNING 135A
Mattie stands staring out the window. She is not going.
136 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - MORNING 136
At the top of a wide clearing, a truck with a Circus Ad on
the door is being set up to become a stage.
The tractor and truck pull into the clearing and drive to the
The hearse pulls in and parks. Frank, Buddy, and Charlie
climb out of the hearse, look around, and stand frozen.
Trucks and cars are parked everywhere around the big
clearing! Many PEOPLE have been here all night with fires,
tents and lean-tos. Many MORE PEOPLE are arriving now.
Expecting a crowd?
Frank and Buddy give each other a look.
Honestly? We don't have a clue
about what's going to happen here.
The big old honking generator is unloaded. Holes are dug. 10
foot poles are slid from the truck and huge speaker horns are
attached. Speaker poles are pulled up and set into holes.
Frank directs a gang of 6 KIDS who are selling raffle tickets
making sure they know that he has his eyes on them.
A BAND arrives on the back of pick-up truck.
The Generator kicks on belching smoke everywhere. Frank is
yelling Whoa Whoa! Disaster in the making.
136A OMITTED 136A
137 OMITTED 137
138 OMITTED 138
138A OMITTED 138A
139 OMIT 139
140 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 140
Bush stands staring out the checkerboard window. He sees
Charlie approaching and opens the door for him. Charlie
climbs the steps, appraises the shack, and stares at Bush.
Pretty nice jail.
Charlie enters and looks around the little room.
Why did you change your mind?
Charlie just looks at him, the unspoken words louder than any
reason he could give.
How do you want to do this?
He gets a haunted look that catches Charlie off guard.
I'm gonna try and tell it, Charlie,
I really am. But if I can't get it
done, would you do it? I want it
said. Please, sir.
Charlie sighs from down in his shoes and starts for the door.
Tell'em the box is in the barn.
141 OMIT 141
142 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/BACK ROAD - DAY 142
Carl's truck is half hidden off the road. Carl, Gary and
THEMAN get out of the truck.
Carl tucks an old 45 in the back of his pants. Gary and
Theman grab three gas cans off the truck, give one to Carl,
and clamber down a deep gully and start up the other side.
Tom peeks out from behind the big garbage barrels.
143 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 143
The generator is working! And standing on the flat bed truck,
which is now a stage, an ANNOUNCER introduces a hot blue
grass group The crowd is huge now and listens as the group
kicks off a song.
Behind the stage Frank is collecting money from the boys who
are selling the raffle tickets, making them turn their
pockets inside out. The generator makes a strange noise,
Frank eyeballs it, and it labors on.
Buddy walks up, nudges Frank, and nods out at the huge crowd.
Can you believe this?! Charlie walks up and says something
that we cannot hear.
144 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 144
Pacing the cage, Bush peeks out the window.
You asked for it you old ornery
sonofabitch, now what are you gonna
145 INT. BUSH'S BARN - DAY 145
Frank, Buddy, and Charlie enter the barn and see Mule hitched
to the wagon. On the back of the wagon is a simple and
rustically elegant casket with the initials FB carved into
the center board. It sobers them all.
146 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/GULLY - DAY 146
Carl, Gary, and Theman hide and watch Frank, Buddy and
Charlie walk Mule and the wagon away from the barn and down
the road. Carl eyes Bush's shack and starts for it.
Hey, hey, where you going? He said
And he takes off.
147 OMITTED 147
148 OMIT 148
149 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 149
The bluegrass fiddle player nods to the others to quickly end
the song. Now we see why. Frank, Buddy, and Charlie have
brought the wagon with the coffin into the field. Everyone
quiets, remembering why they are here. They park the wagon
behind the hearse.
Frank and Charlie walk toward the stage. Buddy peels away.
Frank calls after him to come with them to the stage but
Buddy waves them away. He wants no part of that. He sees
Kathryn and Horton threading their way through the crowd and
moves toward them instead.
Frank and Charlie climb the makeshift stairs up to the stage.
Charlie sits down on a folding chair while Frank goes to the
big microphone and stares with satisfaction at the huge
Depression-era Woodstock crowd.
Good afternoon ladies and
gentlemen. I'm Frank Quinn of Quinn
Funeral Home. Welcome to the live
funeral party of Mr. Felix Bush!
People don't know whether to clap or not. Some do and the
rest of them pick it up.
Buddy gets to Kathryn and hugs her and the baby.
She wouldn't come. I don't..
I've done some things in my life,
but never this. Bet you haven't
either, bet no one has.
(winks back at Charlie)
We try to make things predictable
and safe but if we don't risk
everything to get what we want, we
don't want it enough.
150 OMIT 150
151 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - CONTINUOUS 151
Frank finds Buddy in the crowd.
The person who made all of this
happen for us doesn't like the
spotlight but Buddy Robinson is the
heart of Quinn Funeral Home and I'm
proud to know him.
Buddy is embarrassed and moved. Kathryn's eyes soften.
152 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 152
Carl is sloshing gasoline onto the back porch while Gary and
Theman keep nervous watch at the farendof porch. Suddenly
Carl feels a shotgun's cold metal on his neck and the 45
being ripped from his belt and thrown to the ground.
Carl drops his can. The other men drop their cans but Gary
starts to pull a pistol from his back pocket.
Go on, I'll paint the porch with
Don't do it!
Gary drops the pistol.
Now pick up them cans and keep
You heard me.
The men cautiously pick up the cans..
Pour it on your head. All of it.
The men look at each other. Bush cocks the other barrel of
Pour it or die, I don't care which.
The men hoist the cans and start to pour the gasoline over
them. Burning and spitting they empty the cans. Suddenly
Theman bolts, moaning and running blind with gas in his eyes.
I got two barrels, anybody else
wants to rabbit, now's the time.
153 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 153
I know many of you have heard
stories about Mr. Bush. But today
I've been told that we're going to
hear another kind of story, his.
A murmuring moves in a wave across the crowd as they see..
.Bush enters the field with his shotgun pointed at Carl and
Gary's backs. They are drenched with gas and it is burning
them through their clothes.
Buddy, Kathryn, and Horton see Bush.
Quinn and Charlie follow the crowd's eyes to Bush.
Holy Mother of..
SHERIFF DEPUTIES beside the stage see Bush.
But everyone remains frozen, not knowing what has happened or
what to do now. Is this the crazy Bush of the legends?
Buddy starts toward Bush. Kathryn tries to stop him but he
pulls free and walks slowly toward Bush.
A shot rings out!
Carl and Gary hit the ground like dead men.
The crowd hunkers and scatters.
Horton steps in front of Kathryn and the baby. Buddy freezes.
Charlie rushes up beside Frank at the microphone.
Carl rolls up and turns to Bush and sees blood seeping out
onto his shirt beneath his coat.
Bush whirls and sees..
.Carl's old 45 still smoking.
The gun is in Tom's small shaking hands..
Don't hurt him! It's my fault.
Bush cracks his shotgun, walks slowly to the boy, gently
takes the 45, empties the shells, and hands the gun back.
A second chance is a precious
thing, son. Don't waste it.
The boy plops down, overwhelmed.
And suddenly everyone is in motion.
The Deputies run toward Bush. Frank and Charlie rush from the
stage. Kathryn and Horton are going.
Buddy arrives at Bush first and sees the blood weeping onto
Are you alright, sir?!
Without turning Bush glances at the Deputies.
Tried to burn me out. Let the boy
be, he didn't mean nothing.
As the Deputies get a hold of Carl and Gary, Frank, Charlie,
Kathryn and Horton arrive. Carl looks at Horton with pleading
eyes and nods to Tom.
Help him, Gus, please..
Horton goes to the trembling boy and picks him up.
Bush suddenly walks into the trees without looking back.
153A INT. WCGM RADIO STATION - DAY 153A
The Announcer hangs up the phone on the wall, rushes to the
turntable and lifts the tone arm from the record that is
Folks, I've just received word of a
tragic turn of events at the Bush
Funeral Party. It seems that Mr.
Bush has been shot. I repeat, Mr.
Felix Bush has been shot. There is
no word of condition..
153B INT. MATTIE'S HOUSE - DAY 153B
The radio is playing but we don't know where Mattie is.
When I know more I will let you
know. I'm sure he would appreciate
154 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 154
Bush stands at the mirror, his shirt unbuttoned and pulled
back. The bullet caught the muscle just above his clavicle.
Buddy, Frank and Charlie rush in.
Close the door.
Charlie slams the door. Frank examines the wound. Buddy
stares in shock at the old roping burns scars on Bush's
Missed the bone. Got any alcohol
and clean rags?
Bush nods at the cabinet. Charlie finds an amazing assortment
of herbs and roots, alcohol and old sheets ripped into rags.
Why don't you sit down, sir?
Boil some water and I'll tell you
how to make me a poultice.
Frank takes the rags and alcohol from Charlie
This is gonna hurt.
Don't sugar coat it.
155 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 155
Everyone is standing around in shock.
156 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 156
Kathryn waits anxiously near the porch with the baby.
157 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 157
Horton steps up to the microphone. The shocked crowd turns to
him. He closes his eyes and bows his head.
Lord, you say you move in
mysterious ways and we believe you
because we don't understand much of
anything. And so we come to you
today not seeking answers to what's
happened here but asking you to
help us open our hearts a little
more to each other and find some
forgiveness and understanding.
158 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 158
Frank has cleaned the wound. Buddy has made a poultice that
Bush is pressing onto the wound as he hears the last of
Horton's prayer over the loudspeakers.
Pretty good prayer. Mighta been
wrong about that preacher.
Why don't you lay down, Felix?
Bush thinks about it, sees a way out. For a second he looks
like he might take it. Then he shakes his head, puts a rag
over the poultice and pulls his shirt up.
Let's go 'fore I lose my nerve.
Are you sure?
Bush scowls at the huge blood stain on his shirt. He looks at
Frank's white shirt. Frank just stares at him. Bush keeps
looking. Finally Frank sighs and starts loosening his tie.
159 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 159
The bluegrass band sings a good hymn. The crowd is still
stunned and talking, not knowing what to do.
160 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 160
Buddy gently helps Bush into his jacket, which has a bullet
tear in it along the shoulder but Bush seems okay with it, to
Frank is putting on an old faded shirt of Bush's. As Bush
starts for the door, he comes up beside Charlie.
You ain't nervous? All them white
folks out there?
There's white folks here?!
Stick with me, you'll be all right.
You're the one they're shooting at.
As Charlie opens the door, Bush stops, all his misgivings
flooding in with the light. He looks at Buddy.
Pretty interesting day so far, huh
Bush straightens himself up and goes out the door.
161 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 161
Charlie, Bush walk through the murmuring parting crowd toward
the stage. Frank and Buddy are close behind. Buddy is looking
for Kathryn. She spots him and moves toward the stage.
162 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 162
Bush and Charlie go up the steps to the stage.
At the last second, Bush stares at the big microphone and
stops, unable to go on.
Charlie gives him a look then goes on up to the microphone
and looks out a the sea of white folks.
I'm Reverend Charlie Jackson. Felix
wants to continue with his funeral.
And he's asked me to say a few
Just below the stage, Buddy and Frank are joined by Kathryn.
Charlie glances back at Bush, turns inward, searching for the
words. Finally he holds his hands out, wide apart.
We like to imagine that good and
bad, right and wrong, are miles
apart. But the truth is, very often
(brings his hand together
and laces his fingers
.all tangled up with each other.
Bush raises his head and looks at Charlie's back.
Some 40 years ago Felix Bush
dropped into my life and then
dropped out. In between he built
the most beautiful sanctuary that
I've ever seen. A lot of wonderful
things happened in that church.
Suddenly Bush breaks away, moves up beside Charlie, and puts
his hand on his shoulder.
Thank you, Charlie. Thank you.
Charlie gives him a long look then steps away from the
microphone and moves back to where Bush was standing.
Bush stares at the microphone, takes a breath, and walks up
to it, and looks out over the huge crowd.
Had to go clear to Illinois to find
somebody that had anything good to
say about me. Hell of a thing.
His voice booms out over the crowd, startling him. He looks
down, sees Buddy, Kathryn, Frank and Horton.
He looks closer for someone most important but she is not
there. The crowd murmurs. Finally..
I'm not a smart man or a wise one.
I don't know what kind of man I am.
I was always restless, thought I'd
see the world. But I didn't hardly
go nowhere.. on purpose..
Because.. because I did something
that I was ashamed of. Something I
couldn't ever fix.
Ya'll probably think you know what
you'd do or what you wouldn't. And
I wish you good luck with that. I
When I told Charlie what I'd done,
he told me to confess to God and
the law and to.. to someone else..
so I could get forgiveness. But I
didn't want forgiveness.
I needed to hold on to what I did..
to be sick from it every day of my
life. So I never told nobody else.
He stops, not knowing how to go on. The crowd has quieted
As as his eyes sweep over the sea of expectant faces, he
suddenly SEES HER coming through the crowd.
Mattie's here. Seeing that Felix appears to alright, her face
changes from conflicted concern to open unbridled hatred.
The look takes Bush's breath away. But he suddenly seems to
accept it as his due and when he talks, it is only to her.
I fell in love with a married lady.
And somehow she fell in love with
me. It was the only time that I
have been in love.
We made a plan to run off and start
a new life but she didn't show up
at the time that we said we'd meet.
I got a funny feeling and I went to
Buddy, Kathryn and Frank all see Mattie now, see Bush talking
just to her.
Her husband answered the door.
He had blood on him.
For Mattie all of this is like window into the past being
suddenly thrown open and she is haunted and mesmerized.
I hit him pretty hard, knocked him
down. Can't remember going upstairs
but I remember I saw a hammer on
the steps and it had blood and hair
The crowd gasps. Mattie is trembling.
I found her in the bedroom. She was
crawling across the floor.
But before I could get to her and
help her up.. a kerosene lamp hit
the wall. And then her husband
jumped on my back. Funny what
happens sometimes when things go
wrong. It's like the clock stops
and you have all the time in the
world to think. I could see that
her husband had set the downstairs
on fire before he came up.
And as I was slamming his head into
the wall, trying to get shed of
him, I could see clear as anything
that it was all my fault. If I'd
just never spoke to her..
And as I was thinking about that, I
saw that the lamp he threw had set
the room we were in on fire too.
Bush forces himself to keep looking into Mattie.
And then I realized that I was on
fire. I tried to put myself out but
I couldn't, everything was..
I dropped him, turned around and
saw her lying on the floor and
called her name. She looked up at
.and the next thing I knew, I was
A loud roar of fire and crushing timbers..
163 EXT. BURNING HOUSE - NIGHT 163
A man on fire bursts through the second story window of a
burning house. He lands hard and rolls across the yard to
smother the flames.
With his clothes still smoking, he unbelievably tries to run
back into the hell. But the fire is too hot and he cannot. He
screams like a mad man and runs into the trees..
164 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - DAY 164
The crowd is motionless. Nothing is moving. It is as if the
whole world has stopped. Frank, Buddy, and Kathryn are
Bush and Mattie are looking into each other, one anguished
soul to another.
I don't know how I got out the
No matter how many times I play it
in my mind, I can't remember
jumping. I thought I killed him,
but maybe he pushed me, I don't
(lost as ever..)
I swear to you, if I left her in
there.. everything I know about
myself is a lie. But that don't
I didn't get her out, Little Bit, I
didn't. I'm sorry.
165 INT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 165
Bush sits on the edge his bed. His face is drawn and haunted.
The door open and closes. He doesn't look up.
Mattie sits down beside him. Tears are streaming down her
face. She lays her head gently on his shoulder.
He sniffs her hair and tenderly touches it.
Wonder if her hair would be white?
166 EXT. BUSH'S LAND/FIELD - END OF DAY/MONTAGE 166
A MAN chooses a winning raffle ticket from a wire cage.
A poor YOUNG COUPLE with SEVERAL CHILDREN win the raffle! The
promise of a new and better life begins for them.
The big funeral party breaks up people wind their way home.
The big old honking generator coughs off.
Mule is lead back to the barn.
The equipment is disassembled and loaded back on the truck.
The microphone stands alone on the stage. He got it said.
167 EXT. BUSH'S SHACK - DAY 167
Buddy, Frank, Horton, Charlie, and Kathryn and the baby wait
outside, giving Bush and Mattie time. Buddy takes the baby
and holds it close.
Finally Mattie and Bush come out of the shack and walk down
to the others. No one knows what to say. Finally..
How you doing, sir?
Just fair, son.
Carl said Ray paid them to set the
fire. Paid them to break into the
funeral home too.
Can't stop pulling Aces out of his
ass, can he?
Spend his money on lawyers now. You
know how thrifty they are.
Frank motions to Buddy and they go to Bush. Buddy is still
holding the baby, Bush looks tenderly at Buddy and the baby.
What's his name?
Larry, Lawrence, after my dad, sir.
He ain't gonna throw rocks at me,
Not if knows what's good for him.
You boys did good. Real good.
Let's settle up.
We don't have to do that now. You
get some rest.
(a look/ then)
Yeah. We'll come out tomorrow.
Bring my shirt back, I just got it
Bush pulls Buddy aside. Frank stares over at them but can't
hear what they are saying. He moves over beside Mattie.
Are you alright, Mattie?
She looks up at Frank for a long moment, her face softening.
Oh, I don't know. I'm still moving,
He doesn't know what that means but she has finally really
looked at him and that's something he'll hold onto.
Kathryn comes and hugs Mattie as.. Bush and Buddy come back.
Bush goes to Charlie.
Frank is staring at Buddy, looking for a clue as to what Bush
said. Buddy gives him nothing,
Thanks again for coming, Charlie.
I'm proud of you.
Thank you for my church.
Did you ever get my bill?
Can we get a ride our car's about 2
miles down the road.
Everyone piles into the hearse. There is no back seat so they
all have to crawl in the back door and sit along the sides.
It makes everyone smile. Mattie gives Bush one last fleeting
embrace then climbs in. Bush looks in on them all for a long
moment all then closes the door.
As the hearse moves out, he waves to Buddy who is looking out
the back window. Buddy waves back.
Look at that. My funeral and
everybody's in there but me.
The hearse pulls onto the road and drives away.
The place is suddenly quiet and beautiful. He looks down the
road through the fading dust and sees a WOMAN walking slowly
toward him. He squints, recognizes her, and his face fills
with a timeless love.
168 EXT. BUSH'S LAND - DAY - TWO MONTHS LATER 168
It's a cold day beneath the spreading pecan tree. Mule stands
hitched to the wagon. The three dog grave markers are
A fourth grave marker just like the others leans against the
tree. It is freshly carved with: Felix Elijah Bush. A pot of
fresh yellow flowers sit beside the marker.
Bush's beautiful handmade casket is inside his grave.
Frank, Mattie, Charlie, Buddy, Kathryn, and Horton stand
beside the grave. Several MEN with shovels wait near the
tree. Charlie's eulogy is more of a one-sided conversation
which Bush would probably love.
Well, Felix, this one's for real, I
guess. I didn't actually see them
put you in the box so..
Charlie glances over and notices "Charlie" on one of the
dog's grave markers. He snorts and shakes his head.
Wherever you are, you're probably
giving someone a hard time or
something wonderful and priceless
just to confuse them. Not
everything can be figured out, nor
everybody. I wish you peace from
the burdens of your mind and heart.
I wish it for us all.
Mattie moves toward the edge of the grave. Frank puts a hand
out to catch her should she should stumble. She stares down
at the FB on the coffin, opens her hand, and lets the picture
of her sister drift down onto the coffin.
169 EXT. HILLSIDE - LATER 169
Everyone moves away as the men fill in the grave. Buddy and
Kathryn move up beside Frank and Mattie and Charlie. Buddy
tosses the ball of hermit money to Frank.
A 50 on the outside, all ones
inside. Less than $100.
I told you. Nobody listens to the
Buddy pulls some papers from his coat.
The day of the party he told me
about the will he had in the secret
drawer of his table. He left the
raffle money to all of us.
Everyone is shocked, touched.
But you have to pay for Mule's
upkeep for the rest of his life.
Charlie grins and Buddy flaps the papers at him.
And he set up a fund for the
upkeep of your church.
What's the catch?
No catch, sir.
Still don't get it, do you? With
Felix, there's always a catch.
Maybe he just knew you'd go crazy
wondering what it was.
They all laugh and move down the hillside. As the laughter
fades we see in their faces the impact that Felix Bush has
had upon them. Buddy feels the comfort of this odd but
growing family and stops and looks back at the grave and the
pot of yellow flowers. His curiosity about the fearsome old
man has not abated. Nor will it ever.