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Life Starts Here
by Joel Reaves (insubordinate_ska@sbcglobal.net)

Rated: R   Genre: Drama   User Review: ***1/2
A business man's hatred for his job and wife manifests itself into the form of a homeless woman who teaches him how to be happy.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



A HOMELESS WOMAN, with long matted hair, wearing ratty
clothes and a beanie, walks slowly across a parking lot and
into a back alley.
STAFFORD LOUIS, 23, a tall clean cut business man in a suit
and tie is driving to work, very distracted by his bluetooth
headset; he isn't paying attention to the road.
      (On the phone)
Look..No, no, you listen to me! I
want that report on my desk by the
time I get to work, do you
understand me?
A homeless woman is walking down an alleyway with all her
belongings in a cart. She goes to round a corner.
Stafford turns into an alleyway, and almost hits a homeless
woman, knocking over her shopping cart and causing her to
drop all of her belongings.
SHIT! No, not you, I almost hit a
hobo. Yes, I realize I'm late, I
just took a shortcut, I'll be
there in five minutes. And that
report better be there.
Stafford looks back, to make sure the lady is okay, but she
already packed up and left, so he speeds off.


Stafford and his wife JANE are talking in the kitchen. He's
fully dressed for work, while she's just awaken and still in
her pajamas.
You have to what?
I have to leave early for work, so
I can apologize to this homeless
woman I almost hit yesterday on my
way to work.
Jesus Stafford, you hit someone
Calm down Jane, I almost hit some
lady, but don't worry, I only
knocked over her shopping cart, so
I'm going to apologize.
You don't have to, I'm sure she
doesn't really care. She probably
gets it all the time.
Stafford picks up his keys, and walks out of the kitchen.
      (Off Screen)
Doesn't mean I have to be rude
like everyone else though. I'll
see you after work darling, I love
SLAM, The sound of the door shutting echoes into the
kitchen. Jane sighs and walks out of the kitchen, leaving
the light on.
Stafford gets out of his car, and lets the door hang open
behind him. He looks around for the woman and spots her near
a dumpster. She's shoveling her way through the contents of
her shopping cart, taking things out and throwing them away,
and taking things from the dumpster and putting them inside.


Excuse me, ma'am?
The woman doesn't notice anything, she continues to sort her
      (moving forward)
I just wanted to apologize for
almost hitting you yesterday.
The woman still doesn't acknowledge him, so he walks up to
her and stands next to her cart.
      (Clearing his
I came to check if you were
Are you?
The woman looks up, and GRUNTS at him.
What was all that?
I was wondering if you were
alright. I didn't hurt you did I?
Nope! I'm fine myself, but I can't
say the same for Marx though. You
might want to apologize to him,
not me.
I hit someone else? Oh my God, I
am SO sorry. Where is he, can I
talk to him?
The woman points at the bottom right corner of her shopping
My shopping cart boy, you dented
it. Pay your respects.
Stafford looks around, checking to see if anyone is around.


Apologize, to your cart? Really?
Well, you don't have to, but that
would be the polite thing to do in
a world full of un-polite,
dont'cha think?
Stafford hesitates momentarily, then kneels down to look at
the cart.
There you go, that'll do. He's
been through more than a little
dent, he'll survive.
She smiles and sticks out her hand, which is covered by a
torn glove and what looks like muddy water.
      (Shaking her hand)
Well alright Sue, it looks like
everyone is alright here.
      (glances at the
So, you got quite a collection
going there.
Yup, I got my basic needs in here.
I got clothes, some canned foods,
blankets and such. Pretty much my
whole life is in here.
Stafford starts to talk to Sue about her everyday life...Two
hours pass by, and we jump back into the conversation. (Sue
and Stafford are sitting on the curb)
Are you serious?! You really found
that in a dumpster? In the trash!?
I sure did, a one of a kind,
signed Beatles album just laying
around in some poor sap's trash.
So I snatched it.


                       SUE (cont'd)
      (Sue ponders)
I'm sure I have it here somewhere
Sue gets up from the curb and searches through her cart for
a few seconds before coming up with the album.
Bingo, here it is. I knew I had it
She sits back down and tilts it towards Stafford, motioning
for him to take it.
Here, take it.
No, no, I couldn't. That's one of
a kind, impossible to replace
Stafford, do you really think I
need it? Do you see a record
player around here?
      (Sue laughs)
I have no need for it. Go on, take
Stafford reaches out to take it, and notices the time on his
watch. Stopping him, mid-reach.
Ten O' clock! That can't be right,
how long have I been here?
I'd say about two hours, give or
Stafford finishes grabbing the album, and gets up, running
back to his car he turns to Sue as he gets in.
I'll come by again tomorrow Sue.
Thanks for the album!
Stafford speeds off in his car.


Stafford, getting home from work, walks into his apartment
and throws his coat on the back of a chair. He walks into
the kitchen and puts his keys down on the counter, opening
the fridge he starts mumbling to himself about what he wants
to eat.
                       JANE (O.S)
Yeah, I'm in the kitchen! What's
for dinner?
Jane walks into the kitchen and wraps her arms around
Stafford from behind.
There's some beef stew in that
container on the bottom shelf, and
some leftover salad that I made on
the top.
Stafford lightly shakes off Jane, and grabs both the
containers. He puts the stew in the microwave, grabs a fork,
and starts eating the salad straight from the container.
Work was hell today.
I said work was hell today. We
closed three deals, and I had to
personally explain the plan to Mr.
Mishoto in hopes that he'd invest
in an American company just from
my presentation.
Did he?
Thankfully, but you have no idea
how long it took for me to learn
the basic Japanese sayings I
needed to for this deal.
      (takes another


                       STAFFORD (cont'd)
We have 3 more deals to close
tomorrow, and we're supposedly
opening up another 2 after that.
I'll be putting in close to 70
hours this week, It's crazy.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. The soup is done. Stafford walks over and
pulls it out. He gets a spoon, and starts eating that as
Can't you get someone else to help
you with that?
I could, but then the job wouldn't
get done correctly; and we'd lose
Well you shouldn't put the world's
weight on your shoulders if you
can't carry it babe. Try taking a
break every now and again.
You always say that, and yet you
don't complain when you buy new
shit with my money.
      (he puts down the
I'm going to bed. Thanks for the
Stafford grabs his keys, his coat, and walks out the door.
Stafford stops by a coffee shop to grab a drink for himself
and Sue.
White chocolate mocha, hot, and a
green chai tea, sweetened.
Stafford nods as he grabs the two cups and walks out.


Stafford pulls up to the alleyway, Sue is packing up her
blanket and pillow into her cart. Stafford gets out and sets
down one of the drinks next to her stuff.
I got you a chai tea, you seem
like that kind of person.
What's that supposed to mean?
I...I, didn't mean it like that.
Don't worry about it, I know I'm
      (picking up the
And yeah, I like chai tea.
She takes a sip from the cup and pulls out a wad of ones
from her pocket.
How much do I owe you?
You're not paying me anything.
It's my treat.
I'm homeless, not completely broke
Stafford. But if you insist, Thank
Stafford nods, and takes a seat on the curb. Sighing.
Unbeing dead isn't being alive.
      (looking up)
Excuse me?
Just because you aren't dead,
doesn't mean that you're living


Is that, supposed to mean
something to me?
Well, you're the one sighing. So,
does it mean something to you?
no, not really.
Sue pushes her cart off to the side and sits down next to
You sure about that?
Well. I don't know, I mean...
I hate my job.
Yeah, it's too demanding. I've
been with the company since I got
out of school, and I still haven't
been promoted...But apparently I'm
close. Bullshit, I've been "close"
for two years.
So quit.
Stafford looks at Sue, puzzled. As if that idea had never
occurred to him.
I can't just quit, it doesn't work
like that. I have a wife, and a
house to pay off. I have
Sue SCOFFS, and stands up, walking a little ways down the
Stafford, you're in an alleyway
right now, talking to a homeless
woman about responsibility when
you should be at your job,
fulfilling that responsibility.


                       SUE (cont'd)
Doesn't that say something about
Stafford stands up defensively and follows Sue.
Hey! You're in no position to
judge me, I've worked close to 70
hours this week, I deserve a
So take a break, go home and
relax. Sit in your expensive lazy
boy, and take a nap.
Sue takes a long sip from her tea and throws the cup into a
nearby dumpster. Waiting for Stafford's response.
It's not that easy Sue, my wife,
she doesn't know any of this. If I
went home I wouldn't be able to
keep it from her any longer. It
would ruin us.
Stafford loosens his tie, and grips his head, grumbling
She counts on my income, which is
supplied by that shit hole.
She doesn't work?
I wish. She shops all day, and
gossips with all her friends at
the spa...or whatever women do in
their free time.
He looks at Sue to correct him.
What? I don't know what rich women
do, I've never been to a spa in my
life. And the only thing I shop
for, is food.
Right, forgot about that.


Stafford glances at his watch.
Shit! I'm going to be late for
work again, I had an early meeting
too. Dammit!
Stafford leans against a wall, and slumps over.
Stop. Just stop Stafford, you're
Thanks Sue.
In the end, it's not the years in
your life that count. It's the
life in your years.
Sue pushes Stafford upright, and rips off his tie.
Hey! What the hell was that?! That
tie was expensive, why would you
do that?
Sue throws the tie back at Stafford, who clumsily catches
Oh no. It was expensive? How much
Stafford? Enough to buy someone
like me how many meals?
I...I dont know.
How many Stafford? Huh?
Stafford takes in a deep breath and rests his face in his
God help me.


God? If you want to know what God
thinks of money, just look at the
people he gave it to.
Stafford stares back with a blank face, shocked at Sue's
outburst. He sinks back into his own shoulders and looks
down at the tie in his hand.
No what?
You're wrong. I'm a good person.
Mhmm. Somewhere beneath it all,
Really? I'm here with you aren't
You are, but I don't know why.
What are you looking for Stafford?
Or who are you looking for?
I'm not looking for anything.
Except a new tie.
Stafford brushes past Sue and heads for his car, opening the
door he gets in and SLAM, shuts it behind him. Sue turns her
back and starts walking down the alley even further.
It is wise to direct your anger
towards problems - not people; and
to focus your energy on answers -
not excuses
Stafford, still gripping the tie, looks around his car. He
notices his suit, and the nice things he owns. He looks at


himself in the mirror, and immediately looks away. He opens
the door and rolls his eyes as he gets out.
Stafford shuts his door and starts walking after Sue.
Sue! Hey, Sue!
Sue turns around, and shakes her head.
I want to be happy.
Then change. That's the only
solution I've got for you.
I don't know if I can change Sue,
I've been so far gone for far too
If they can make penicillin out of
moldy bread, I'm sure we can make
something out of you
Where would I start? I don't know
the first thing about living for
myself. I've spent my entire life
behind some kind of desk.
Sue thinks for a moment and looks at Stafford's hands.
Burn your tie.
Stafford looks down at his tie, and then back at Sue,
obviously rejecting the idea.
How is that going to make me


It works for arsonists doesn't it?
She pulls out a lighter from he jacket pocket and tosses it
at him.
                       SUE (cont'd)
Maybe it'll work for you too.
Stafford brings the tie up to eye level, he hesitates at
first, but then he takes the flame of the lighter and makes
contact with the tie, catching it on fire. Watching it burn,
a sense of relief sweeps over his face. We hear Sue's voice
quietly over the music creeping louder.
                       SUE (fading)
Feel better?

1)Stafford and Sue stomp out the burning tie.

2)He tears off his suit coat and throws it to the floor.

3)Him and Sue slam a shopping cart into a storage trailer.

4)He rips his pants into shorts.

5)They both stand on top of storage trailer and scream at
the top of their lungs. (Sound returns.)

Stafford collapses to a sitting position, smiling, and
panting heavily.
People may doubt what you say but
they will believe what you do.
You did it, and I saw it all.
      (pause and smile)
Felt good too didn't it?
Stafford nods.


It did, I'm not going to lie. But
I should get going, my wife is
probably waiting.
                       SUE (O.S)
No, no. I get it, you still have a
little ways to go before you can
live completely for yourself. So
go home tonight Stafford. Go rest
Night Sue.
Stafford walks into his house, and walks past the kitchen
into his room, coming out a minute later, in a new pair of
clothes. He heads into the kitchen to meet his wife.
Hi babe, how are you?
Good, you're late though. Is
everything alright?
Yeah, everything is fine. Just had
to finish up a closing before I
could even think about coming
You're smiling, does this mean you
closed all your meetings
successfully today?
That's exactly what it means Jane,
I closed every single one of those
damn deals. Closed 'em for good.
Jane claps a little, and gives Stafford a hug. He resists a
How much for each?


Stafford shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly.
The usual.
Jane lets out a SQUEAK.
And a bonus.
Another SQUEAK.
For each.
Jane jumps up and down.
Oh honey! That's wonderful news!
We did it, we did it!
I did it. You mean, I did it.
Oh I'm so proud baby. So, so,
proud. I'm going to celebrate.
Jane grabs a bottle of champagne, and pops the top, it
fizzes everywhere and she runs out of the kitchen, SQUEAKING
uncontrollably. Stafford stands there for another moment
before SIGHING and turning on his heel to follow his wife.
Stafford walks into the kitchen, wearing a grey sweatshirt
and grey sweatpants, he pours himself a glass of orange
juice, and chugs it quickly. Jane walks in behind him, and
surprises him.
Good Morning Mr. Early Bird.
Jane notices that he isn't wearing his work clothes.
Babe, don't you have to get ready
to leave?
I am ready.


Where...is your suit?
Stafford glances down and is reminded of the outfit he chose
It's, at the dry cleaners. I had
it cleaned overnight. I'm picking
it up on the way to work.
Oh, okay. So I was wanting to talk
to you before you left.
Whats up?
Jane steps closer, and starts fiddling with her hands.
Well, I uh, checked our account
this morning online. And the
amount hasn't changed since I
checked yesterday...
Stafford pours himself another glass of orange juice.
Is it not enough?
It's not that, I was just checking
to see if they had paid you yet,
and they havn't, why?
Stafford takes a sip from his glass.
I don't know.
continues sipping.
                       JANE (O.S)
Well when are you going to get the
money from those closed deals?
Stafford finishes the glass, and CLINK, puts it down on the
I don't know.


When are you going to know
I don't know, Jane. I just don't
know anymore.
Anymore? What are you talking
about? Are we still talking about
the money?
I don't know Jane, I don't know.
      (clears throat)
I'll call you when I'm on my way
home, maybe I'll get some take out
for us.
Stafford are you cheating on me?
What? Of course not, why would you
say that?
I don't believe you.
      (starts fidgeting)
you're acting weird, and you have
been all week. So why don't you
just tell me who it is.
As I said, I'll call you when I'm
on my way home.
Stafford walks out of the kitchen and we hear the SLAM of
the front door closing off screen. Jane gives an unsatisfied
HUMPH! and storms out of the room after Stafford.
Stafford is driving towards the alleyway, unaware that Jane
is following not too far behind him.


Jane, angry and distraught, follows Stafford with the intent
of catching him in the act of cheating.
Stafford walks up to Sue and gives her a hug, he then goes
about helping her pack up her pillow and other objects and
putting them back into her cart.
She's driving me mad Sue. I just
can't stand living with someone as
superficial and fake as her.
Stafford gives a little sniffle.
                       STAFFORD (cont'd)
She's using me, it's obvious.
Always has been, I just never to
notice it till now.
Parked in a spot within sight of Stafford, Jane watches him,
gathering things into a cart, and mumbling.
What the hell Stafford.
STAFFORD'S POV - Stafford puts the last object into the cart
and takes a seat with Sue on the curb. He dabs his forehead
against his sleeve, and glances over at Sue.
Why is it so hot? It's only nine
in the morning.
Jane walks up briskly, confused, and furious.
Stafford, what in God's name are
you doing? Have you gone mad?
Tell her you're taking a break.


JANE'S POV - Stafford sits alone on a curb, sweating like a
I'm taking a break.
STAFFORD'S POV - Sue smirks as Jane HUFFS with anger.
Taking a break? From what might I
ask? You're sitting on a curb, in
the middle of some alley, why
aren't you at work Stafford? Is
there something you aren't telling
A look of disgust creeps across Sue's face.
Wow, your right, she is a bitch.
Cleaning up in the morning is hard
work, Ms. Perfect.
JANE'S POV - Stafford, still alone, rolls his eyes, and
Yeah, cleaning up in the morning
is hard work, Ms. Perfect.
STAFFORD'S POV - Jane YELPS in concern, as she tightens up
with fear.
Why would you say- what are you
talking about Stafford. You're
scaring me, stop it. Stop it right
Sue stands up, and starts getting defensive.
No, you stop. Maybe some people
don't want to take orders from you
all day, maybe some people never
wanted any of this at all. Maybe
some people wanted to be a
photographer who traveled the
world and took pictures of famous
architecture, but instead got
stuck behind a desk job to fund


                       SUE (cont'd)
someone's shopping fetish. Maybe
SOMEONE has had enough, and just
maybe this someone will finally do
something about it, so they can
live out their dreams. Di-
JANE'S POV - Stafford stands up, and starts speaking louder,
and more angrily.
No, you stop. Maybe some people
don't want to take orders from you
all day, maybe some people never
wanted any of this at all. Maybe
some people wanted to be a
photographer who traveled the
world and took pictures of famous
architecture, but instead got
stuck behind a desk job to fund
someone's shopping fetish. Maybe
SOMEONE has had enough, and just
maybe this someone will finally do
something about it, so they can
live out their dreams.
Did any of this ever occur to you?
Hmm? That someone here was
STAFFORD'S POV - Jane backs up a few feet, and she slightly
shifts in the direction of her car.
Honey? Are you taking any sort of
drugs? Why don't you come home
with me, and we'll get you some
rest. And I'll call Doctor
Riveheart later and make an
Why don't you go home to your
closet full of shoes, and
unbelievably expensive handbags?
      (turns to Stafford)
Come on Stafford, I need your help
today, we're gonna collect some
cans in the park.
JANE'S POV - Stafford continues to rant.


Why don't you go home to your
closet full of shoes, and
unbelieveably expensive handbags?
Stafford suddenly stops, and looks to his right, for a
moment he seems lost but after a second he nods and
continues talking.
See, I can't leave, she needs my
help with collecting from the park
STAFFORD'S POV - Jane's face goes white, and she looks like
someone just asked her to solve an impossible math problem.
Who? Who needs your help Stafford?
Is there someone else here?
OUTSIDE POV - Jane stands a few feet away from Stafford, who
looks around, confused, and dazed as if he just woke up.
Sue, the homeless woman, she was
here a second ago. She must of
started without me, great. I'll be
getting an earful about being
uneventful later.
If you won't come with me, then
I'm going to go find you medical
attention, do you understand? If
you won't help yourself, I will.
Stafford waves Jane off, and starts walking toward the end
of the alley, in pursuit of Sue. Jane stands confounded for
a second, before running back to her car to make a call.
Jane dials a number on her cellular phone.
Come on, pick up, pick up...PICK
RING, RING, RING. The phone rings three times.


                       DOC (O.S)
Hello, this is Doctor Riveheart
speaking, how may I help you?
Stafford and Sue are walking out of the alley, when Stafford
notices that Sue forgot Marx back in the alley.
Sue, you left Marx back by the
curb. We can't collect cans
without him.
Sorry, all that fussing got to my
head, I couldn't think straight.
Yeah, she can do that to you. Try
hearing that everyday, and every
You know, the clue to the real
purpose of life is to surrender
yourself to your ideal with such
awareness of its reality that you
begin to live the life of the
ideal and no longer your own life
as it was prior to this surrender.
I have to leave everything behind
to be truly happy. It's my ideal,
what I've always wanted.
Sue GRUNTS in agreement as they head back towards the alley
to retrieve Sue's cart.
You finally got it Stafford, you
finally got it.
She starts walking off in a different direction than
Stafford, and Stafford continues forward.
                       SUE (Voice Over)
True happiness is completely
causeless; it is not reliant on a
thing; it is its own reward, its
own pleasure. It is immutable and
immovable even as it is constantly


                       SUE (cont'd)
changing and forever increasing in
its movement into its own
When Stafford arrives back to where he had left Marx, Jane
is standing there,tapping her foot impatiently.
Stafford baby, I talked to Doctor
Riveheart, and he says you aren't
crazy. He says it's all your
stress from work manifesting
itself into something that isn't
really there. He says it helps you
escape reality. It's all in your
head dear. It's not real.
It was real Jane, she was real.
And she taught me something.
      (Stafford grabs
She taught me to be happy.
Stafford, if you come back with
me. I'll forget any of this ever
happened, we can get you
professional help, and we can live
our lives together, and be happy.
That's what you want right? To be
I am happy Jane, at least, I am
now. Sue helped me realize that
all this that I have, isn't really
what I want, it's just what I
ended up with. But I'm not going
to live with that mistake anymore,
she showed me that I can live for
myself, and you know what, that is
what makes me happy.
Oh honey, oh dear. The doctor said
you might say something like that,
but he also said its treatable, so
why don't you come home sweetie?


                       JANE (cont'd)
You can go back to work after you
get help, I'm sure they'll
understand. Think about it, we can
be normal again.
No. Sue is real, more real than
anything I've ever come into
contact with in my entire life.
You're just plain wrong, and so is
Riveheart. You can tell him to
shove his PhD up his ass.
I didn't want to do this Stafford,
but it looks like I have to...If
you don't come home right now, get
some help, and go back to work so
we can continue living our lives,
together. Than you can do whatever
the hell you want, but you'll be
doing it alone...
                                         FADE OUT
Stafford is walking the exact same route Sue did in the
beginning. Dressed ratty, and looking rather dirty, him and
Marx march across empty parking lots, and back alleys.


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From Nick Hanks Date 4/3/2008 ***
You know what, I might suprise some people by saying this, you started your first scene in the middle of and action, that indicates someone who has done his/her homework. Start your movie out with a boom people. Take a lesson everybody, we finally got a screenwriter here. Kudos.

From jacobb Date 3/7/2008 **1/2

From Eric Wheeler Date 3/5/2008 ****
I agree with both of them. It has really awesome dialogue. overall its a really good story line and i like it alot.

From Jason Whitmore Date 3/5/2008 ****
Yes great job! I liked it give us more!

From David Chase Date 3/1/2008 ***
I agree with Andrew, the dialogue is the main strength. I'd rework the ending a bit to make sure that everyone gets what really happened to Sue. Also, I'd like to see Stafford doing something else. After finding his freedom, it's a bit of a stretch that he becomes a homeless person looking for bottles. I'd like to think he travels, or does some of the crazy things he always wanted to. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it. Good job.

From Andrew Simmons Date 2/18/2008 ****
You have real strong dialogue. That seems to be your main strength. Overall, good screenplay, sort of simple premie, but I could see this happening.

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