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                         Ah, shit.

               We hear some thudding noises.  A dog barks.  Rustling noises
               (like a shirt coming over our heads).  A man sniffs.

                                   MOSES (CONT'D)
                             (under breath)
                         Ohh, hell, I stink.

               We hear a spraying noise, then another sniff.

                                   MOSES (CONT'D)
                         Much better.


               I/E. MOSES' CAR - MORNING

               Enter MOSES, mid-40's, scraggly looking, yet presentable.  He
               carries the weight of his own world on his shoulders.  He
               sits in, buckling the seatbelt of his family station wagon
               and immediately grabbing the pack of cigarettes hidden in the
               car's ashtray.  He looks behind him, then starts up the car,
               putting the cigarette in his mouth, and lighting up.

               He drives down the land of suburbia that he calls home, with
               every cliche in the book; a man watering the yard, a paperboy
               delivering papers, kids going off to school and playing
               games, with Moses in the middle of it all.  He's the
               antithesis of his environment.

               A man waves to him, Moses offering a half-hearted wave back.
               A very obvious "Who the hell was that?" expression on his
               face as we pass the man.  Obviously, Moses isn't in touch
               with his community, but we sense a desire to belong and be

               EXT. MOSES' CAR - CONTINUOUS

               Moses is driving on the freeway now, smoke practically
               emptying out the driver's side window.  Moses is now chain


               Moses finishes off the cigarette, flicking it out the window.
               He examines the pack of cigarettes, now empty.
               He then crams the pack into his already overstuffed
               briefcase, and then reaches into the

               GLOVE COMPARTMENT

               Which has an entire carton jammed in.

                                                                CUT TO:

               INT. DR.'S WAITING ROOM - MORNING

               Moses walks into the waiting room, wearing a half-hearted


                         Moses --

                         You're late.  Sign here:

               She presents him a clipboard scrambled with signatures.  He
               signs in, and the clipboard is practically ripped from his

                                   NURSE (CONT'D)
                         The doctor will be with you in a

               Moses nods a "Thank you," then goes and sits down.

               MOSES POV

               Moses looks around the room; drab paintings, an empty fish
               tank, a few (very) dated magazines on the coffee table, and a
               single Fisher Price toy of some sort sitting in the middle of
               the waiting room.  He closes his eyes, audio fading out...

                                                         FADE TO BLACK.

                                   NURSE (CONT'D)


               Moses starts, jumping out of his seat practically.

                         Doctor'll see you now.

               INT. DR.'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

               We see


               Sitting on the bench in the doctor's office, in
               uncomplimentary tighty whities with a slight view of his butt

               THE DOCTOR walks in, a handsome 40-something, suave and
               cleanly-shaved.  His clothes are cleanly pressed, starched,
               and professionally cleaned.  He's the clean, perfect doctor
               we see in commercials, making the realistic Moses look all
               the more ridiculous.

                         Hello there, Moses.  How are you

                         I'm... fine doc.

                         Good to hear.  And the wife and

                         Oh... Wife and kidsy.

               The doctor shares a hearty chuckle; Moses is less than
               satisfied in his wit.

                         Well, I believe you're here for
                             (checking tablet)
                         Check-up?  Just seeing how the
                         clockwork's going?

                         Yeah, I guess so.

                         Good.  Let's check you out.

               ON CLOCK

               Time passes, until...


               The doctor takes off a lone plastic glove, and Moses' pained
               expression can only guess what that glove had just done.

                                   DOCTOR (CONT'D)
                         Well, Moses... I've gotta tell you:
                         You need to stop smoking and
                         drinking.  This stuff is gonna kill

                         It's been so many years, though,
                         doctor... I don't know what good
                         it'd do me.

                         A few more years is what good it'd
                         do you.  At the moment, you're
                         okay... But if this keeps up,

               The doctor gestures to the general area of each organ:

                                   DOCTOR (CONT'D)
                         Your liver,
                         heart --
                         All are going to go out on you.
                         Not a pretty picture, is it?

                         Not particularly.

                         So, I want you off the cigarettes
                         and to stop drinking as of today.

               Moses doesn't look all too pleased.

                                   DOCTOR (CONT'D)
                         You can pay the lady on the way
                         out.  Take care, Moses.

               The doctor leaves.  Moses tries to get up, but we hear his
               skin sticking to the seat.

                         ... Ewgh.

               I/E. MOSES' CAR - AFTERNOON

               Moses drives, the sun hot and beating down on his car.

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         You wonder to yourself sometimes
                         how life is such a precarious
                         thing, and yet we take it for
                         granted.  We ingest poisonous
                         garbage that we call "food,"
                         breathe toxic fumes that we call
                         "air," swim in a primordial ooze we
                         call "water," and step into a
                         concrete wasteland we call "Earth."
                         So many things out there that are
                         just designed to hurt or kill us,
                         and yet we all claim to value life.

               Moses instinctively reaches into the ashtray, but stops

                                   MOSES (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                         Oh, come on, Moses... Gotta keep it
                         together.  You don't want to join
                         your brothers, do you?  Add another
                         neglected grave on the side of a
                         mountain... Alone, with the worms
                         eating at your decomposing

               An old woman steps out in front of the car, and Moses SLAMS
               on the brakes, stopping a foot away from her.  She shakes her
               fist, curses and swears, unheard by us.  Moses just stares at
               her, awed.

                                   MOSES (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                         ... Death is a loneliness much
                         crueler than any loneliness hinted
                         at in life.

               EXT. MOSES' HOME - EVENING

               Moses' station wagon pulls into the driveway, a different man
               watering his lawn and different kids playing in the exact
               same way as before; not much as changed.  Moses gets out,
               carrying the carton full of packs with him, walking to the
               trash can, hesitating, and finally throwing it in.  Whew.

               Moses takes a good look at the neighborhood.  The plain beige
               and white colors of every house almost blending together, but
               somehow his home looks a bit darker than the rest, a bit
               discolored, like stale baby poop.

               INT. MOSES' HOME - CONTINUOUS

               Moses walks in, greeted by... absolutely nothing.  The house
               is completely drab, normal, and has no sign of life
               whatsoever.  A few family portraits line the walls, but any
               other picture or painting in the house is bland and full of
               earth tones.  The entire house is almost a perverted sepia,
               and instead of bringing feelings of warm memories, brings a
               feeling of cold regret.

               Moses stands near the window facing the front yard... All
               activity outside has ceased.  We see the


               Descending behind the suburbs.

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         I won't go into the commonplace
                         symptoms of withdrawal, but I would
                         like to point out that, here,
                         standing at my window this evening,
                         watching the brilliant afterlight
                         and the spread of darkness, I feel,
                         through the lack of these humble
                         stimulants -- my cigarettes and
                         alcohol -- the force of some
                         primitive memory in which the
                         coming of night and its stars and
                         its moon... It's apocalyptic.

               MOSES' WIFE, mid-to-late 30s, rushed, cold and somewhat
               impersonal, enters from the side, walking past Moses.

                                   MOSES (CONT'D)
                         Honey, I've stopped smoking and

                                   MOSES' WIFE
                             (not stopping)
                         That's nice, dear.  We're having
                         pot roast.

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         ... Pot roast?


               Moses sits at the head of the table, his wife on the opposite
               end, and their two children -- a boy and a girl -- teenagers
               both -- sitting in the middle, across from each other.  The
               room is silent, with a camera shot from above the table.
               There is an undeniable tension here.

               POV MOSES

               Looking at the rest of the family, examining each member and
               their flaws and/or traits

               ON WIFE

               Moses' wife slurps soup noisily, her cold and unfeeling
               exterior never changing, even as the boiling hot soup touches
               her lips.  Who was this woman, and what was she doing there?

               ON SON

               Moses' son also slurps soup just as noisily.  He has fallen
               into the punk/rebel stage of his youth, and his appearance
               should do it justice; A ridiculous haircut, frayed Levi
               jacket (now a vest), a Sex Pistols shirt (also frayed), and
               tight jeans.

               ON DAUGHTER

               Coming out exactly the opposite of Moses' other spawn, the
               daughter is the preppy, friendly, bubbly one in the family.
               Unfortunately, she is also highly naive and stupid.  This
               becomes all the more apparent as dinner goes on.  She also
               slurps her soup.

               BACK TO MOSES

               Reaction shot to Moses, who swallows his soup slowly and
               noiselessly.  His eyes scan the surroundings, and he realizes
               there isn't an escape route in the room, except flinging
               himself out the window behind him.

               The camera pans back to Moses' Wife after she CLEARS HER

                                   MOSES' WIFE
                         So, how was the doctor's visit,

               Moses looks up.

                         Oh, uh... Well.  I'm going to stop
                         smoking and drinking.

                                   MOSES' WIFE
                         That's nice, dear.  Isn't that
                         nice, children?

                                   MOSES' SON
                         Yes, mom.

                                   MOSES' DAUGHTER
                         Yes, mother.

               Moses smiles slightly.

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         Yeah, very nice.  You people don't
                         really care.  Who cares about the
                         bitter taste in my mouth and that
                         my head seems to be leaving my

                                   MOSES' WIFE
                         Honey, you're going to have to go
                         grocery shopping tomorrow so we can
                         get ready for Justina to come on

               Moses snaps back into reality.

                         Oh.  Right.  Justina.

                                                           DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. MOSES' HOME, BEDROOM - LATER

               MOSES' WIFE lies in bed, sleeping soundly.  The camera pans
               slowly over to Moses, lying on his back, also sleeping.
               However, he doesn't seem to be sleeping as soundly.


               Hundreds of faceless, genderless human beings shuffle about a
               supermarket, reaching and grabbing at bags, some in brown
               paper bags, others in brown boxes, a few in plastic bags and
               cases.  All of them without labels or brand names.  A few of
               the humanoids look vaguely like Moses' wife and children, but
               only vaguely.  Moses stands in the middle of it all, looking
               around, trying to figure out what's going on.

                                   SUPERMARKET VOICE (V.O.)
                         Clean-up, aisle five.  Clean-up,
                         aisle five.

               Moses wanders around now, looking at boxes, picking one up in
               particular and examining it.  Another humanoid grabs it from
               his hands, snarling fiercely.

                                   SUPERMARKET VOICE (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                         Price check at two.  Price check at

               Moses continues looking around, passing through and between
               the humanoids, wafting in and out of existence every now and
               then.  We hear a piercing scream as Moses looks upon
               something in horror.

                                   SUPERMARKET VOICE (CONT'D)
                             (demonic sounding)
                         Clean up at the door... Clean up at
                         the door...


               Moses sits up in a start, sweating.  He gets up, sitting on
               the edge of the bed.  We hear his wife snoring lightly in the

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         God, I could use a smoke... Why are
                         you putting yourself through this,
                         ... That's right.  Scandal.

               Moses gets up out of bed, walking to the bathroom and closing
               the door.


               Moses stands in front of the mirror, giving himself the once
               over.  He wipes his eyes, checks his nose for hairs, looks at
               his bloodshot eyes, among other morning activities the actor
               can do at his discretion.  He does everything right to the

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         When I abstain from sin, it is more
                         often a fear of scandal than a
                         private resolve on the purity of my
                         heart... But here was a call for
                         abstinence without the worldly
                         enforcement of society.

               Moses gargles a little, spits, then looks himself right in
               the eye.

                                   MOSES (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                         Death is not the threat that
                         scandal is.

                                                         FADE TO BLACK.



                         ... Goddamnit.

               I/E. MOSES' CAR - DAY

               With "Walking on Sunshine" playing during the drive, Moses
               slurping coffee intermittently.  Other cars passing by have
               families happy, laughing, singing, or with a dog hanging out
               the window, once again contrasting Moses' reality.

               "I'm Walking On Sunshine... Whoa-ohhh..."

               As Moses engages in his soliloquy, the camera moves about and
               around the car, showing almost all angles.

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         This morning when I got up for
                         breakfast, I took a nice cold
                         shower to wake up from my rather
                         restless night.  I've only been
                         having these dreams a couple nights
                         now and they've been definitely
                         taking their toll on my wellbeing.  


               Moses sits at his table, staring down at his English muffin.

                                   MOSES (V.O.)
                         When I finally sat down for
                         breakfast, my English muffin stared
                         up at me from the plate.

               As he speaks, a face, a friendly old English gentleman, does
               materialize in the muffin.  It winks at him.  And then it
               disappears, Moses now gaping at it, slackjawed.

                                   MOSES (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                         I mean, I saw a face in the rough,
                         toasted surface.  I think it winked
                         at me.  The moment of recognition
                         was fleeting, but it was deep...
                         and I wondered who it had been.
                         Was it a friend, an aunt, a sailor,
                         a ski instructor, a bartender or a
                         conductor on a train?  The smile
                         faded off the muffin, but it had
                         been there for a second.

               I/E. MOSES' CAR - CONTINUOUS

               A family in a car zooms by, Moses looking at them, a couple
               kids in the backseat smiling and waving at him.  He waves
               back weakly, barely smiling.  He then stares back at the
               road, a bit more disturbed after thinking about the muffin

Been a while since I've posted anything I've made, so I might as well do THIS. I've been writing this for my Screenwriting class. It's an adaptation of John Cheever's short story "The Death of Justina", and is currently at 36 pages long, taken from a short story about 10.5 pages. For the size of the project we are working on, this is about the correct length. This is my first completed draft, so any constructive criticism would be helpful.

In all reality, I'm supposed to send this to people in my class to critique it, but the last draft (only the first 15 pages) I sent to classmates, they just said, "good job" or "Chris your screenwrite was amazing it totally brought me in i couldnt stop reading." Normally, I'd be honored for these comments, but... C'mon. "Your screenwrite"?


A basic summary: Moses is a middle-aged man in a creatively numbing job. He has something of a loving family, but his job is crushing his will to live, along with the pressures of quitting smoking and drinking. Upon the death of his wife's distant cousin, he truly begins to question his place in life, leading to his ultimate life-changing decision.

WARNING: There are some mild profanities uttered by the characters in this screenplay. To be exact, the word "shit" is uttered twice, and "dick" once. That's all. Nothing much else should be offensive in the least.
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Submitted on
November 24, 2005
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