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With Thomas Wolfe Whispering in My Head
by D Presley (dpresley52@gmail.com)

Rated: R   Genre: Drama   User Review: ***1/2
A man takes a long overdue journey back to the place he grew up, to see a few old friends and relive a few memories, only to find out that more than he has bargained for has changed in the years he's been gone.

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.



The openness of the Texas Panhandle is broken up by a
cluster of small buildings and a few trees along a creek
A lone cowboy, PETE SIMPSON, is saddling his horse, DOLLAR.
Pete is 50, average height and build.
The horse alerts, raising its head with a jerk. In the
distance, we can see thunderheads building over the hills.
      (to Dollar)
You tryin' to tell me they're
headed this way?
Then I reckon we picked the right
time to head home, didn't we? But
I'm bettin' Maggie and Kate ain't
gonna like it if it rains.
Pete lifts himself into the saddle and wheels Dollar around
and follows the trail along the creek.
A redheaded woman holds her hand flat above her eyes to
shield them from the sun as she looks toward the river about
100 yard away. This is MAGGIE RUSSELL, about 40.
                       KATE (O.S.)
Stop worrying. he won't be able
to see anything 'til he gets right
up to the house.
Maggie turns as KATE WALLACE approaches. Kate is a
brunette, also about 40yo. They are at a corner of the wide,
covered porch.
I know, I just want this to be a
Don't worry, it will be.


Then, as she turns to walk away she looks back over her
At least until he catches a whiff
of the barbeque.
At the spot where Goodwater Creek flows into the Canadian
River. Pete pauses for a second when the ranch comes into
He pauses for a second when the ranch comes into view.
      (softly, to
       himself as much
       as to Dollar)
Yeah, Bud, They're up to
Pete approaches the stable. There is a young cowboy, BLAS
AVALOS, standing near the stable door. He is about 20.
Pete dismounts as Blas walks over and takes Dollar's reins.
Hey Pete. How was the fishin'
Pete appears a bit stiff and is favoring his right leg. He
stamps it lightly a few times.
Thanks, Blas. The fishin' wasn't
too bad, not too bad at
Well how come I don't see any
'Cause I threw 'em all back


Why fish if you ain't gonna keep
Oh, sometimes the point is just
in the fishin'. Don't always
matter whether you catch anything
or not
Not sure I understand that.
You will one of these days.
There's an old sayin, 'The gods
don't take away from a man's life
the time he spends fishin''
If you say so.
Oh, by the way, Boss left word
that you was to git up to the big
house just as soon as you got
back. I'll take care of Dollar for
Gracias, amigo. I'll wash a
little of this dust off and get on
up there. I can see they're up to
Pete has showered and is sitting on his bed pulling on his
boots. He is wearing jeans but his chest is bare and we can
make out several irregular scars that almost make a line
from the top of his right shoulder, down along the edge of
his chest and then down his right side before disappearing
into the waistband of his jeans.
Pete stands up, facing a mirror. The camera shows his
reflection in the mirror from his right as he buttons the
front of his shirt and then buttons the sleeves. There is
another scar on the right side of his face, that is
partially hidden by his neatly trimmed beard.


After buttoning the shirt he puts on his best hat and heads
toward the door.
Pete as he walks up the hill toward the main house, which
dominates the top of the hill. To the left we can see a
number of cars and trucks parked at the base of the hill.

As Pete nears the top of the hill he can see the
extent of the crowd waiting on him. The porch is crowded, as
is the yard around the barbeque pit. A small band is working
on a lively tune above the din of people talking.
Pete balks for a moment.
Maggie makes her way through the crowd and stands at the
railing. Momentarily Kate is standing beside her. Maggie
notices Pete hesitating and walks over quickly and takes him
by the arm. Kate is just behind her and takes Pete's other
By this time BOSS WALLACE has made his way to top of the
porch steps, with JOHN WALLACE right behind him. BOSS is
the patriarch of the Wallace family, big and solid, looking
much younger than his 72 years, and JOHN is his only son,
late 40s and as solidly built as his father.
Hey folks, here comes the
guest of honor!
The little band breaks into an enthusiastic version of
'Happy Birthday', an enthusiasm undoubtedly meant to
cover up the fact they are more than a little off key and
out of synch.
Come on, Pete. You don't wanna
run out on your own party.
People start crowding around the top of the steps as Pete,
Maggie and Kate walk slowly toward the steps.
      (softly to Maggie)
Now I can see why you didn't want
to go with me today.


I couldn't. I wanted this to be a
surprise. If I'd gone with you I'd
been bustin' to get back here and
you would have guessed somethin'
was up. Besides, Kate needed my
As they walk up the porch steps, Boss makes an exaggerated
sweep with his arms toward the crowd of people.
      (trying to sound
Dammit, now move! Moses parted
the waters easier than he could
make a path through you people.
Boss leads Pete through the crowd. All of them are
congratulating him. Boss leads him to a stool.
      (to Pete)
Get up here boy. It's your turn
in the boiler. Get up there and
give these folks a good look at
Pete tries not to stumble over the stool as Boss more or
less pulls him along. Finally, Boss puts up both hands and
the crowd slowly gets quiet.
      (loud so everyone
       can hear)
Folks, you know what this man
right here means to me. He just as
well be one of my own, and in some
ways he is. Now, I ain't one to
waste a lot of time with speeches,
so I think John should do
this one.
Everyone laughs. They all know that Boss likes talking more
than almost everything else.
John stands in front of Pete, nervously shuffling from foot
to foot.
Folks, I don't have to tell you
what this man means to me either.


                       JOHN (cont'd)
To me, they just don't come any
better. He's so much more than
just my friend. He's part of this
family, a big part. I didn't know
30 years ago what I was getting
myself into when I grabbed him off
a street corner in Amarillo, and
I'm not completely sure if Dad has
forgiven me to this day.
      (everyone chuckles)
But there's no way this family. or
Bend in the River, would be the
same without him.
Maggie holds Pete's hand and smiles up at him.
And since he is family, and since
he's such a big part of this
place, today, on his 50th
birthday, we want to give him a
part of it.
John takes an envelope from Boss and hands it to Pete.
Pete, Dad, Kate, the kids and me
want to give you this deed to a
piece of Bend in the River. It's
the quarter section that contains
the spring house and that fishing
hole you like so much.
Pete is in shock, not believing his ears.
Wait a minute. John! Boss! You
can't do this. That's part of
the original ranch. It's been in
your family for over a hundred
Oh, hell, don't tell me what we
can and can't do. We just did it.
But what about Alex and Elizabeth?
One day this will be theirs. They
should have a say in it, too


John smacks Pete on the back.
Who's idea do you think this was?
They knew they couldn't be here
for the party, so they suggested
it. Besides, who knows if they'll
come back here after college or
Pete is dumbfounded as people pat him on the back and give
him their best wishes. For a time he looks like he's nearly
in tears. Maggie moves in beside him and slips an arm around
his waist.
Pete sits in the porch swing, swinging slowly back and
forth. Most of the people are gone, but there are a few
still out in the yard, cleaning up the leftover mess from
the party.
Boss walks through the screen door out onto the porch.
We did you up right tonight didn't
we boy?
Yes sir. I have to admit you did.
Still not so sure I deserve it
      (laughs louder)
We didn't do you any favors. Hell,
you're goin' to be the one payin'
the taxes on it and keepin' it up.
Givin' it to you was the easy
John walks up on the porch and stops at the screen door.
      (to those in the
Anybody want a nightcap?


      (walking up the
       steps from the
I'll take one
      (turns toward the
Hey everybody, just leave that
stuff 'til mornin'. There's no
reason to bother with the rest of
it tonight. It ain't gonna hurt
what's left if it rains.
Kate walks over near Peta and leans against the porch
Quite a turn out. We really
surprised you, didn't we?
      (smiling softly)
Yeah, you did.
Maggie walks up the steps and moves over to sit beside Pete.
The people who had been helping with the clean up say their
good-byes as they walk down the hill toward their vehicles.
We wanted it to be special
sweetie, you only turn fifty once
Well yeah, you're right, but you
only get one shot at all of 'em
don't you?
      (slaps him
       playfully on the
You know what I mean.
Yeah, I know, and I gotta admit
that this one is a little
different. Feels like it anyway.
John walks back out on the porch and hands Kate her drink,
then he leans against the railing with her.


I think the big ones always do
make you feel different.
I guess. I know this one's
different enough that it's got me
thinkin' about things I ain't
thought about in years.
Human nature to run things over in
your mind as you get older. You
get to a point where you start
wonderin' 'bout things, rethinkin'
them. Not that it does you any
good. You can't change anything.
Maybe, but it got me thinkin'
about takin' a little trip. That
is Boss, if you don't mind.
Why should I mind? Unless you're
talkin' about bein' gone for six
months or somethin' like that.
No, nothin' like that. Just a few
days, maybe or a week or two at
the most.
Where you goin'? Mexico?
No, I've been thinkin' 'bout goin'
back home
Maggie reacts immediately
Home? I thought this was home.
Well, yeah, this is home now, but
I was talkin' 'bout Tennessee. I
ain't been back in thirty years.
Thought maybe it was time I did.


Sure you can go. Take one of the
pickups if you want to. That way
you can come and go as you please.
You won't have to waste your time
waitin' on buses or planes or
whatever. There's nothin' worse
than waitin' when you want to
get some place.
You know, in all this time you've
never told us very much about it.
Who all's back there? Any
      (becoming reserved)
Not many, if any. My Uncle
Jimmy's the only kin I know of
that might be left, and heck, he
could be gone by now.
I'd just like to look the place
over. No doubt there is an old
friend or two still around, and
I'd like to pay my respects to my
Mom and Dad and grandparents.
Maggie moves a little closer to him. Pete had never talked
much to anyone about his life before coming to the ranch,
and this seemed to be a good time to get him to open up
about it.
What were they all like?
Pete takes a deep breath. These people had become like
family to him over the years. Maybe it is time to talk
about it. After all, it had been consuming him for the past
several months.
      (looking down at
       the floor)
I don't remember all that much
about my folks, I was four when
they passed. Just spotty little
memories are about all there is. I
remember Mama always smelled so
sweet and pretty all the time.
Whenever she came to mind, I'd
close my eyes and smell her just
like she was right there with me.


                       PETE (cont'd)
I still can.
The only thing I can remember
about my Dad was he always
whistled. Whether he was workin'
or just sittin' on the porch, he
whistled. Most of the times it was
one of the hymns Grandma was
always singin' and at other times
it was just a whistle, didn't seem
like there was any real tune to it
at all.
Pete gets up from the swing and walks slowly toward the
steps going to the yard. He leans against a post and stares
out into the darkness.
Pretty much everything else I
remember is from the pictures
Grandma had. Grandma loved
pictures. She had 'em everywhere.
Pictures and knick-knacks. She was
just an ol' mountain woman, and in
her whole life I doubt she was
ever more'n fifty miles away from
the spot she was born. She was my
Dad's mom. Uncle Jimmy's too. When
my folks died in the car wreck I
went to live with her. Grandpa had
passed by then so it was just me,
her and Uncle Jimmy. She raised me
and when she started getting'
older I felt like it was my turn
to take care of her, and I was
gonna do it too, 'til I had to go
to Vietnam.
You know, in the end I didn't do
her right, not like I wanted to. I
didn't even say good-bye to her
the way I should have. She was the
whole world to me and I wasn't
there when she needed me most.
It's not like you had a choice
      (his eyes tearing
I know. But I felt like I was all
she had. Uncle Jimmy lived there,


                       PETE (cont'd)
but he wasn't around much. He was
always drinkin' and runnin'
around, worryin' the life out of
her. I was afraid of goin' to
Vietnam and maybe dyin', but I
was more afraid of leavin' her
alone. I didn't think Uncle
Jimmy would look after her. Not
like he should.
      (after a sigh)
So, I got Preacher Rainwater from
the church to go with me to the
draft board to try and get 'em to
let me stay and take care of her,
but they wouldn't listen. They
said Uncle Jimmy was her nearest
blood kin and should be able to
watch after her.
So you were drafted?
Yep, sure was. It was even on
television. They pulled my
number out of that big jar and I
knew I was gone. I didn't have
a choice. If I didn't go they
would have come and got me and
she'd have still ended up by
I was lucky I guess. When my turn
came around they didn't pull my
Good for you, bud. Me, you nor
anybody else had any good reason
for being over there. Funny thing
is I don't remember that much
about it. I didn't shoot anybody.
I didn't even shoot AT anybody.
When I got there the unit I was
assigned to had just come in off
patrol, so we had a little time
'til we went out again, and then I
was wounded in the first fight we
were in. That's about as far as my
Vietnam experience went. All that
time and effort put into worryin'
about it, and it was over in no


                       PETE (cont'd)
Pete stares off into the darkness, his mind drifting back
to a time that was so long ago. A time he's tried equally
hard to forget and remember.
                                         SLOW FADE IN
A Trailways bus makes its way along a two lane road In the
front seat opposite the drive is a young man in an Army
uniform. It's a younger Pete.
                       PETE (VO)
I couldn't believe that in the
time I had been gone that things
could change so much. Nothing was
new, it just looked so much
different. Nothing looked as
sharp as I remembered, it seemed
dull and grey, the road looked
impossibly narrow, and distances
seems so much shorter.
The bus tops a small hill and we can see a river. There are
homes and businesses on both sides of the river, but the far
side is more heavily populated. A bridge spans the river,
it's blue steel beams dominate the view.
                       PETE (VO)
That old bridge was the real sign
I was home. It was more than just
a landmark; it was an old friend
welcomin' me home.
The bus pulls to a stop at the curb, the airbrakes mark
the stop and the door swings open.

Inside the bus, the BUS DRIVER speaks into a microphone.
                       BUS DRIVER
Loudon, folks, this is Loudon.
We'll be here 'bout ten or fifteen


Pete steps off the bus behind the driver and stretches.
                       MR. ROBINSON
      (coming out of the
       drug store)
Hey Frank, how's things goin'?
                       BUS DRIVER
Oh, not too bad so far. Anything
goin' out today?
                       MR. ROBINSON
      (handing the
       driver a small
Just this one goin' to
Pete stands patiently waiting for the BUS DRIVER to get his
duffel bag from under the bus.
                       CASEY (O.S.)
Well, I'll be damned. I thought we
got rid of your ass.
Pete turns around and sees CASEY GOODMAN sitting in a black
sedan that is idling in the middle of the street. Casey is
leaning part way out of the open window. He is the same age
as Pete, but has a larger build. His black hair is long and
You look sharp there, hero. Come
home to give us one last look at
I'm on leave, Casey. I'm gonna be
here about a month and then I'll
be gone again. So don't worry
about it, okay?
Oh, believe me, General, I ain't
worried 'bout you or anything to
do with you. It makes no
difference to me whether
you're here or not.
I didn't come home to argue with
you Casey. Like I said, I'm just
passin' through. When I do come
back to stay though I'll make sure


                       PETE (cont'd)
you're the first to
Skip it, hero. I don't care and
I'm sure Loudon can learn
to do without you.
Casey revs the motor of the car and goes speeding away. Pete
watches after him for a moment and turns back toward the bus
as the bus driver hands him the duffel bag.
                       BUS DRIVER
Here's your bag, son. Enjoy
your time home.
      (taking the bag)
Thank you, sir, I'm sure gonna
Pete walks across the street to the Taxi Stand. MR. KEY, the
taxi driver gets up from a bench when he sees Pete coming.
He is an older man with thinning grey hair who has been
driving a taxi in Loudon for a lot of years.
                       MR. KEY
Well look who's comin' in their
bright shiny uniform!
Pete smiles and shakes the older man's hand.
                       MR. KEY
      (laughing and
       shaking Pete's
       hand vigorously)
Heck, boy, I swear I didn't even
know you was gone. Your granny's
gonna be tickled to see you that's
for sure.
Mr. Key opens the trunk of the car and Pete put his duffel
bag inside.

Pete then gets into the front seat.


Pete is silent as the taxi moves along. Mr. Key tries to
start a conversation, but when he realizes Pete is lost in
thought, he becomes silent too.

Pete stares out the window at the countryside.
                       PETE (V.O.)
There was a time Casey and me were
good friends. As kids we were
inseparable, but that all changed
in high school. That's when we
met Debbie.
Mr. Key slows the taxi to pull into the driveway that leads
to the farm house. Pete stops him.
Don't drive up to the house, Mr.
Key. I want to walk up.
                       MR. KEY
      (laughing again)
Gonna surprise her, huh boy? I
wish you'd let me drive you on up
there so's I can see it.
I want to stretch my legs a
little. I've been sittin' all day.
                       MR. KEY
      (stops the car)
Not a problem, son.
Mr. Key gets out of the car and opens the trunk. Pete pulls
out his wallet to pay.
                       MR. KEY
Keep it. I'm proud to do it.
      (shaking the old
       man's hand again)
Thank you
Pete takes the duffel bag and starts walking up the dirt


The screen door slowly opens and an elderly woman walks out
onto the porch. She is a short, plump woman wearing a worn
cotton dress and apron. The dress goes down well past her
knees. Her grey hair is pulled back in a tight bun. She is
She smiles at Pete.
Just look at you, Don't you look
Pete takes her in his arms and hugs her tightly.
Grandma, soldiers ain't supposed
to be pretty.
Well the one I'm huggin' at is.
      (she breaks the
       hug and pats his
Now, come on in here'n eat. Looks
like they ain't been feedin' you
Pete and his grandmother enter the living room. It's a neat,
clean room and although sparsely furnished there are a lot
of pictures on the wall.
Your room is ready. Just like you
left it.
Good. I want to get into some
regular clothes. I ain't been able
to wear anything but a uniform
since I left.
      (turning toward
       the kitchen)
Well hurry, I've saved some dinner
for you.


It's later and Pete enters the kitchen and sits down at the
table. He is dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt. There is
a full plate of food in front of him.
Oh, that girl called here this
mornin' for you
Her name is Debbie, Grandma, She'd
like it if you called her that.
She's your friend, not mine. What
difference does it make what I
call her?
Well, it would be nice for one
thing. And besides, what would you
do if I ask her to marry me
You ain't already asked her have
you? I thought you and her split
We did, But I could still ask
      (looks down at his
I'm starved, and this smells
so good.
Pete walks out onto the porch and lets the screen door close
slowly behind him. His grandmother is sitting on the porch
swing, fanning herself with a newspaper.
Pete is frustrated.
Nobody's at home.


Did you call that girl?
      (a little
Debbie, Grandma, Debbie. Her name
is Debbie. And no, I didn't call
her. I guess I'll bump into her
The both get quiet. Pete is sorry for the tone he used and
she is always quiet when she's upset
I'm gonna mow the yard
You just got home. There's plenty
of time for that later
      (still frustrated)
It needs it, look at it, Uncle
Jimmy's let it grow up too high
Then at least wait 'til after the
sun goes down. It's too hot to do
that now.
      (stepping down off
       the porch)
I have to do something. Keep the
tea cold. If it gets too hot I'll
just do part of it.
As Pete mows he begins to feel better. He has taken
off his shirt and the sun feels good on his back and
He doesn't notice a car pull up to the side of the road.
DEBBIE WARD gets out of the car and walks around to the side
nearest Pete. She is an attractive blonde in Bermuda shorts
and matching top. She leans back against the car and waits
until he is close to her.


      (over the mower)
Hi. I heard you was back.
      (turning the mower
Word gets around, huh?
Your grandma told me this morning
when I called. You didn't say
much in your last letter, so I
called and asked her.
I'm sorry. I thought I did tell
you since I had a welcomin'
Casey Goodman. So you might say it
was an unwelcomin' committee.
Didn't exactly make you feel at
home, huh?
You could say that. He seemed to
be more than a little put out by
me bein' back.
He gets that way sometimes.
You wouldn't be givin' him cause
to feel that way would you?
Oh please. I've seen him a couple
of times down at the cabin, and
once when he invited himself to my
table down at the café, but that's
it. The truth is he don't need
much cause to get mad when it
comes to you.


      (half smiling)
Yeah, I know. I stole you from
him, did you know that?
Well, it beats you bein' alone I
      (looking down at
       the ground)
Well you ain't interested no more.
You made that plain enough.
      (a bit loud)
And I tried to tell you why!
      (lowering his
It's not that I don't want you. I
do. But 'til this is all over I
just think the fewer the worries,
the better it'll be for all of us.
      (getting emotional)
Sometimes you're so dumb! It
makes it easier for you but not
for me. I hate this whole damn
mess. I wish you didn't have to
Me too, but I ain't got no choice.
There ain't no way out of it.
      (close to tears)
Casey should be goin', not you.
They stand for a few moments in silence, neither knowing
what else to say.
      (finally breaking
       the silence)
Well, I guess I'd better get this
yard done. It ain't gettin' no
Debbie walks around the car and slowly opens the door.


Will I see you again before you
      (starting the
You know you will.
A dilapidated old cabin sits beside a rutted dirt road. Some
parts of it are propped up by wooden poles. Directly in
front of the cabin is a small grassy patch that serves as a
yard before the bank slopes down into the river.

Several kids/teens are splashing in the water. Pete is
sitting on the edge of the cabin porch with two others,
BILLY and WAYNE. The three boys are sipping beer.
It's a bitch, man. I wish you
didn't have to go.
      (full of bravado)
You know what? Sometimes I wish I
could go. I'd go in a heartbeat if
they'd let me.
Hey, feel free to take my place.
Hell, man, run off to Canada or
Now why would I go to Canada? I
don't know anybody up there.
Besides, they'd probably just send
me back down here. Then what?
The teens stop talking and sip their beer while they watch
the swimmers.
                       CASEY (O.S.)
Hey dipshits, don't you know you
guys ain't supposed to have beer?
Especially down here.
Casey is in bathing trunks and carrying a towel.


Screw you, Goodman
And that goes double for me.
Both of you can bite me. Anyway,
if you get caught they could close
this place down and then we all
lose. Tell 'em General.
Nobody's botherin' you Casey
Casey walks a few steps closer and talks directly to Pete.
Well if they are, they won't be
much longer.
Goodman, was you born this big of
an asshole or do you just work
hard at it?
Casey smacks Billy on the top of the head.
Billy jumps up and lunges at Casey, but Casey sidesteps and
Billy stumbles to the ground. As Billy gets to his knees,
Casey punches him in the back of the head, sending him
sprawling in the dirt.

Pete moves behind Casey and grabs him by the shoulder,
keeping him from throwing another punch.
Leave him alone.
Casey jerks his arm out of Pete's grasp and throws a punch
at Pete. Pete blocks the swing with his left forearm and
throws a right jab. Casey pulls back to avoid the punch, but
loses his balance, and his feet slip on the wet, stubby
grass, causing him to fall backward, tumbling down the
sloping riverbank and into the water.

Casey comes up thrashing and spitting water. Everyone
gathers around and laughs at the sight of Casey in the
water. He stands there for a moment looking around at the
laughing kids and back at Pete, who is still poised and
ready to fight.
Wayne steps between them.


Stay there and cool off a
minute Casey.
Casey glares at him and wades out of the water and up the
bank. There is a mixture of rage and embarrassment on his
      (glaring at Pete)
It ain't worth it anyway. I'm
gonna let Vietnam take care of
you for me.
Casey storms up the dirt road. Wayne and Pete watch him
walk away.
Hey man, don't worry about him.
He's just pissed. He'll cool off.
Pete is sitting in a clearing on a hill overlooking the
river. It is late in the day just before sunset. The next
day he will be leaving.
He reacts to rustling in the bushes on one side of the
clearing. It is Debbie.
So there you are. I was beginning
to wonder if I was going to find
I'm just sittin' here thinkin'.
I'll leave you alone if you want.
No, no. Stay. Please.
Debbie walks over and sits beside him.
The two of them are quiet for a moment, watching the river
below them.


This has always been one of my
favorite spots.
      (pointing to a low
       limb in a tree)
When I was a kid, there was a
swing on that limb.
      (pointing to a
       limb further up
       in the tree)
And I bet you can still see the
marks right up there where we
tried to build a tree house.
All we ever got built was the
floor, and it was just a few
boards. It was so crooked that
everything rolled off of it and
ended up down here on the ground.
The bunch of us would just hang
out up here, or go down to the
river and fish. Just us guys. No
grown-ups or girls allowed.
So am I breakin' the rules by
being here?
From the looks of it, nobody comes
around here much anyway. We can
probably let that rule slide.
They are silent again, as if each of them want to talk but
can't think of what to say.
      (almost a whisper)
Pete, I can be afraid for you if
you need me to.
Oh, believe me, I don't have a
problem with that. I'm scared as
You don't show it.


Well I am. It feels like my
stomach is twisted into a million
knots. Sometimes my head tells my
legs I should run, but my legs are
so scared they don't know how to
Debbie leans over and puts an arm around his shoulders.
I'm sorry that you have to go
through this.
I do love you, you know.
Then why are you closing me out?
Why are you pushin' me away?
I've tried to tell you. There's
just so much goin' on and I'm so
mixed up I don't even know what
I'm doing. If I come back, and
all this war stuff is behind me,
then we can be together again.
Then you are asking me to wait on
I'm asking you to wait on
everything, not just me. If I come
back, then everything will be
fine. And if I don't, well, then
you can go on.
I don't even want to think about
you not coming back, Pete Simpson.
You'd better come back here to
Pete leans forward and takes her into his arms and kisses
her. A close up shows tears on her cheek.
      (after breaking
       the kiss)
I know things have been rough the


                       PETE (cont'd)
past year, but it's gonna be even
harder bein' half a world away
from you.
Debbie kisses him again. There is a determination in her
now. They lay back on the grass.
It's early the next morning and PETE, his grandmother and
his UNCLE JIMMY are standing together on the front porch.
Uncle Jimmy is a little behind Grandma.
I don't think I'm gonna be able to
sleep a single, solitary night
you're gone
      (hugging her)
Oh, Grandma. You'll be fine. I'll
be back before you know it. You
just wait and see.
Pete tries not to show his own tears as he kisses her on the
I'll write you every chance I get.
I promise.
You'd better.
Pete finally looks at his uncle.
You look after her. And keep
yourself straight. I'm countin' on
Uncle Jimmy nods but doesn't say anything.
Pete hurries to Mr. Key's taxi. He doesn't want to look
back because he will start crying, and he doesn't want
Grandma to see him cry.


A collage of shots of Pete in training:
Marching in formation with other soldiers.
Training on the firing range.
Crawling through brush and sand.
Moving rapidly through a forest, going from tree to tree
Pete is sitting atop a group large rock along the coastline.
Waves crash around him and sea birds seem to hover in the
ocean breeze, crying loudly.

Pete looks solemn. His mind is hundreds of miles away,
thinking about his grandmother and the others back home.
Especially Debbie.
                       PETE (V.O.)
Every day, almost all day long,
I thought of Grandma. I wrote her
as much as I could and sometimes I
called. I thought of Debbie too,
of course. I couldn't help it.
                       PETE (VO)
The first thing I noticed about
Vietnam was how hot it was. It
can get hot and humid in Tennessee
but this was worse than anything I
had felt before.
Pete and the other new arrivals exit an airplane and walk
down a gangway to the tarmac. There is a lot of activity
around them. Planes are taxing or taking off while
helicopters are flying in and out of the airspace overhead.
Other soldiers service the planes or performing some other
detail, and some are standing around watching the new guys.
A stack of boxes that are obviously caskets draw the
most attention from the new soldiers.
                       PETE (V.O.)
The second thing I noticed was the
boxes. Nobody had to tell us what
was in 'em.
Pete follows the slow moving gaggle of new arrivals as they
walk into the terminal building.


As Pete shuffles through the door a soldier stops him. Pete
hands him a copy of his orders and the soldier points to an
NCO standing against a far wall. Pete walks over and gives
a nod to the NCO, but the NCO doesn't acknowledge him.

After a few more soldiers join Pete, the NCO finally speaks.
Follow me.
The NCO stops just outside the building.
Gather around me here for a
      (waits to make
       sure everyone is
I'm Sergeant Jack Wagner, First
Platoon of Bravo Company. I'm
going to take you to headquarters
and get you squared away. Don't
get too used to any of the
luxuries you see around here.
We're in and out of the bush a
lot. Now, follow me.
Wagner leads them to a cluster of tents and bunkers. There
are soldiers scattered around watching the new arrivals.
After a short period of time Wagner stops.
      (moving through
       the other
Yes, sir.
Save the sir stuff for the CO.
It's Sarge or Jack or Wagner or
whatever, but don't call me
You're in my platoon. You stand
tight right here 'til I show these
boys where they go and I'll


                       WAGNER (cont'd)
be back to show you around.
As Pete stands there, the sun gets hotter and hotter. He is
aware of other soldiers watching him. They are talking
almost loud enough for him to hear, and they laugh even
louder, so he knows they are talking about him.
Finally Wagner comes back and waves his arm.
Come on. Let's go.
Pete follows Wagner into a tent. It is dark and cool inside
and it takes a few seconds for Pete's eyes to adjust. There
are three men lounging in the other end of the tent.
                       HOUSEY (O.S.)
Hey look at the FNG!
At ease, Housey.
      (to Pete)
Simpson, this is going to be home
while we're not in the bush. Grab
an empty cot, the CO will want to
talk to you later.
      (indicating the
       other 3 soldiers)
This is Woodall, Housey and Nunez.
They're not a bad bunch as long
as you sleep with one eye open.
Guys, this is Pete Simpson.
The soldier closest to Pete steps forward and offers Pete
his hand.
Don't listen to him, we do our
dirty work when you're awake. I'm
Max, Max Woodall.
The tall thin soldier who yelled when he walked into the
tent leans forward to shake Pete's hand.
I'm Housey, Mario Housey, but
everybody just calls me Housey.


The third soldier steps foward.
I'm Roberto Nunez, but they call
me Bob. Where are you from?
Damn! Another damn hillbilly.
      (ignoring the
Where are you guys from?
Little Rock, Arkansas.
Lubbock, Texas
Covington, Kentucky.
See? Nothin' but fuckin'
I'm from Riverside, California
      (Slapping Pete on
       the back)
Don't mind him, his bark is worse
than his bite. Grab you a beer.
I'll be back later to take you to
see the CO.
Housey hands Pete a beer.
Here man, have a cold one on me.
First thing you gotta learn is how
to stay cool, and this helps. Just
get thru your time here, that's
the name of the game. We all just
wanna get through with this shit
and get back to the world.


Yeah, and we'll be going back to
the bush soon enough.
The men are getting on helicopters. Pete looks very
nervous and he tries hard not to let it show.

The helicopters take off with a rush of wind and noise. The
doors of the helicopter are open and it adds to Pete's

Housey sees how nervous Pete is.
      (above the noise
       of the helicopter)
Don't sweat this stuff, man. We're
goin' to a cold LZ, but just the
same, when we hit the ground stick
with me. Clear the chopper fast.
If any shootin' does start these
things draw a lot of fire.
Pete nods to show he understands and tries looking at the
scenery to help calm his nerves. It is amazing how such
lush beauty could be a place where men were dying.
As the helicopters land in the LZ, Wagner jumps off and
hurries to a cluster of other soldiers gathered near the
center of the compound. Pete follows Housey and the others
into an open bunker.
Wagner comes to the bunker.
Okay, listen up. Looks like
we're going to be here for a
little while. There's VC activity
between here and our patrol area.
So what are we gonna do here?
Rest up while we can. There's a
couple of gunships comin' in to
see about clearin' a way for us,
so it shouldn't be long. Just hang


                       WAGNER (cont'd)
tight and keep your eyes and ears
Housey moves over to Pete and starts checking his gear.
Stay close to me. If I make a
move I want you in my shadow. The
rules are simple; keep your eyes
and ears open, your weapon clean
and ready, and your ass outta
trouble. And above all, don't get
dead. Scared?
Pete nods, almost too nervous to talk.
Yes-s-s. Some.
      (Smacks Pete's
Get used to it Bro. I get so
nervous my mouth dries up. I ain't
spit since I got here.
Pete and the others are standing outside the bunker looking
at the jungle. In the distance is the thumping of the
gunships attacking the pockets of enemy soldiers.
Heads up guys. If the gunships
flush anybody out they might come
this way.
Here comes another chopper.
Pete and the others watch it as it moves slowly toward the
LZ. When it is only a few feet off the ground it
disintegrates into a fireball. Pieces of burning metal rain
down on the LZ.


Suddenly, mortars shells are bursting everywhere. Pete
scurries back to the bunker and jumps in. Everywhere he
looks is pandemonium. He no sooner gets into the bunker
when there is a tremendous explosion near him. He is picked
up and dropped to the ground outside the bunker.

Pete lays there, dazed and confused.
                                         FROM PETE'S POV
His vision is blurred and dim. His ears are ringing.
Everything seems like a dream. He can see the shadow of
men rushing past him and he can feel the ground shake
with each new explosion.

Then there's a figure over him. Almost face to face with
him. He realizes it's Housey and he's yelling, but Pete can
barely hear what he's saying.
      (to Pete)
Lay still man, don't move. Don't
even try to move. Hang in there,
man! Help is comin'! Remember the
rules. No dyin'. No dyin'!
Pete feels himself receding. Things are getting darker. He
can barely see Housey. He tries to hang on, but can't. The
darkness is pulling him in, he no longer hears Housey or the
sounds around him. Then, everything is dark.
                       PETE (VO)
I remember grabbin' for Housey and
holdin' on as hard as I could. I
didn't know if I was dyin' or
what. I knew I was hit but I
didn't hurt. I didn't feel
                                         FROM PETE'S POV
Everything slowly gets lighter. He can see images but
nothing too clearly,


                       PETE (V.O.)
I have no idea how long I was out.
It was almost like I went from
lookin' at Housey to lookin' at a
Eventually things come into focus. He is inside a long room
with lights and fans along the ceiling. He can only move his
head from side to side and that doesn't allow him to see
very much. He can see other beds in the room, but he doesn't
know how many. His mind is foggy and he tries to sit up but
                       NURSE DAVIS (O.S.)
Well, look who's awake.
The face of a nurse moves into his line of sight. This is
                       NURSE DAVIS
Welcome back. We were wondering
when you were going to wake up.
Can you hear me?
Where, where am I?
                       NURSE DAVIS
You're in a hospital, so don't
worry. We'll take good care of
                                         LEAVING PETE'S POV
Pete has bandages around his head, his right arm is in a
sling and his right leg is elevated and heavily bandaged.

Pete tries to move again and is straining to sit up.
                       NURSE DAVIS
      (putting her hands
       on Pete's
Hey there! You watch yourself. If
you loosen any of these bandages,
I'm going to tie you down to this
bed permanently. Just wait right
there and I'll let the doctor know
you are awake.


After she walks away, Pete tries once again to sit up.
He grabs the ring over his bed with his good arm and pulls.
After struggling with it for several minutes he falls
back on the bed, breathing heavy and nearly exhausted.
                       NURSE DAVIS (O.S.)
Did you try to get up again? Now
don't you make me get after you.
      (wiping Pete's
       face with a cloth)
If you pop any of those stitches
open soldier we may never get you
out of here.
She looks down at him and smiles. When she moves aside,
Pete can see a man dressed in a white coat standing by his
bed, flipping through pages on a clipboard. It's the DOCTOR.
Hello, Private Simpson, I'm Major
King. Good to see you are alert.
How do you feel?
Not bad. Sorta funny.
You're still pretty groggy from
the Medication. Can you feel any
No sir. Nothin' I can feel right
now. Just sorta funny. Dizzy.
      (continuing to
       flip through the
       papers on the
You're a very lucky young man.
You have wounds to your right
side, hip and leg. You have a
fractured hip and your arm and
three ribs were broken. They put
pins in your right thigh, and
removed a piece of your large
How long was I out?


      (starting to
       examine Pete's
All told, several weeks. More
than enough time to give us some
concern. What time you weren't
unconscious you were sedated.
It took a while for you to
stabilize enough to patch things
up properly. If you were another
half hour away from the field
hospital we wouldn't be talking
now. Some medic did a damn fine
job on you. Now that you're alert,
we will give you another once over
to see how things are healing. If
everything looks good enough,
we'll start you on physical
therapy. The good news there is
most of the therapy will be in the
      (turning to the
You can untie the arm and lower
his leg. And elevate the head of
the bed. Let's let him sit up for
a while.
                       NURSE DAVIS
Yes, doctor
      (to Pete)
Private Simpson, you let us know
right away if there's any pain or
Yes, sir.
The Doctor walks away.
                       NURSE DAVIS
I'll be back in a little bit
unless you need something now.
Do you know what happened to my


                       NURSE DAVIS
That was a while ago. I'm not
sure. As I remember there were
several casualties, half a dozen
or so, I think, and three times
that many were wounded.
Do you know any of their names?
                       NURSE DAVIS
No, I'm sorry but I don't.
Thank you, ma'am.
Even though the nurse was only gone a few minutes, Pete is
dozing when she comes back. He is startled when she drops a
stack of papers on the table by his bed.
                       NURSE DAVIS
Here's your mail. If you need
help opening any of it just let me
know. And there's also somebody
here to see you.
Who would be coming here to see
                       NURSE DAVIS
      (busying herself
       with untying his
       arm and lowering
       his leg)
One of the chaplains. They
come by and visit with every
patient. Looks like it's your
      (she turns the
       crank at the base
       of the bed)
I don't know how much you're going
to like what you're about to see,
but here goes.
Pete's upper body lifts as she cranks the bed up. He can see
the entire room. There are about 20 beds. Some of the
soldiers are sitting up looking about the room or reading,
while others are still lying down. Some look like they could


spring up out of bed right now, while others are bandaged
from head to toe.
                       NURSE DAVIS
      (turning to leave)
There you go. Now you and some of
these other guys can get
Thank you, ma'am.
                       FATHER JOE (O.S.)
Well, I see Private Simpson
decided to join us.
Pete turns to see the tall, grey haired man standing near
his bed.
                       FATHER JOE
Hi. I'm Father Joseph McCown, one
of the Chaplains around here. It's
good to finally see you are awake
Private Simpson. You had us
worried there for a while.
Thank you, sir.
                       FATHER JOE
      (with a wave of
       his hand)
I'm not a sir. That sounds too
stuffy. Father Joe is good enough
with me.
Okay, Father Joe it is then. I'm
Pete, Is there something I can do
for you Father? I mean, I'm not
                       FATHER JOE
Oh, that doesn't really matter.
Just between me and you I don't
think God really cares so much
about where we choose to go to
church, as long as we go and try
our best.
There sure are a lot of them.


                       FATHER JOE
Yes there are. Which one do you
practice, Pete?
Southern Baptist I reckon. That's
all I know to be.
                       FATHER JOE
Baptists have been around almost
as long as we have. Have you ever
been to a Catholic church?
Once in basic training I went to
the wrong service by mistake. It
never occurred to me that there
was gonna be anybody there but
Baptists, but it was a Catholic
service. I saw right away it was
different, nothing like what I'm
used to back home. I stayed
through it all because I was too
embarrassed to get up and leave.
It really wasn't all that bad.
                       FATHER JOE
Good. I'm glad it was a pleasant
Father Joe moves over and sits on the side of Pete's bed,
his mood noticeably more serious.
                       FATHER JOE
Listen, Pete, Like you, I have my
duties here, and some of them are
not very pleasant. I'm afraid
it has fallen on my shoulders to
give you some very distressing
What is it?
                       FATHER JOE
Well Pete, there is no easy way to
say this, so I'm just going to say
it. I'm afraid your grandmother
has passed away.


Pete is shocked. He searches the priest's face, looking for
some sign that maybe he had heard wrong, but the sadness in
the man's eyes echo his words.
      (almost crying)
When? How?
                       FATHER JOE
That's the saddest part Pete. It
was some time ago, while you were
still unconscious. The Red Cross
alerted the hospital but there
was nothing that could be done.
Pete lowers his eyes, not trying to hide the tears running
down his face.
                       FATHER JOE
I am so sorry, I really am. Is
there anything I can do, anyone I
can contact for you?
No. I'm the only one she had that
she could depend on, and I wasn't
                       FATHER JOE
It couldn't be helped, Pete.
She was always there for me. After
my folks died, she took me in and
raised me. She didn't deserve to
die alone like that.
                       FATHER JOE
If it's any consolation, she died
peacefully in her sleep,
I guess that's something.
                       FATHER JOE
And God is looking after her now.
She'll have no more suffering.
I don't mean any disrespect
Father, but right now that's not
much comfort. She looked so scared
when I left. It's almost like she


                       PETE (cont'd)
knew we wouldn't see each other
If you don't mind Father, I think
I'd like to be alone.
                       FATHER JOE
      (patting Pete on
       the shoulder)
Certainly, Pete, certainly.
      (stands to leave)
And please remember, if you need
to talk about it, or need
anything, anything at all, just
let me know. Ask one of the
nurses to come and get me, and
I'll be right here.
Pete wakes up and rubs his eyes. It had taken several hours
for him to fall asleep the night before. He still looks sad
and distant..

He picks up the stack of mail from the table beside the bed
and starts to look through it. One of the letters is from
his grandmother and he tosses it aside, since he is not
ready to read anything from her just yet. The only other
letter is from Debbie. He rips the envelope open and scans
through it quickly. There is nothing in it to get him out of
the doldrums.

The other pieces of mail are small home town newspapers. He
picks up one and starts thumbing through it.

He suddenly stops and stares at the headline of the story
in front of him: 'GOODMAN AND WARD WED'.

Below the headline is a picture of Debbie and Casey smiling
with the story: 'Mr. Casey Goodman and Miss Deborah Ward
were married Saturday in a private ceremony at the home of
the bride's parents'.

Pete lets the paper crumple on his lap as he stares at the


Well, so much for waitin' 'til I
get back home.
                       NURSE DAVIS (O.S.)
Someone you know?
Pete realized he was crying again but didn't care. He
didn't try to hide it.
Just someone I thought I knew.
                       NURSE DAVIS
You've had a rough few months,
Private Simpson
      (his eyes still
I'll get over it.
                       NURSE DAVIS
I'm afraid I can't give you
anything for what you're feeling
Pete is silent. The nurse looks at him for a few moments and
then moves toward the bed.
                       NURSE DAVIS
I know I'm not your grandmother,
or whoever the girl in the
picture is, but I can try to help.
She reaches out and takes Pete's shoulders in her hands. She
pulls him to her and wrapped her arms around him, her hand
softly patting his back. She sits there, holding him, for
several minutes, rocking gently back and forth as he cries,
trying her best to take some of the hurt away. When the
sobbing has almost stopped, she eases him back on the
                       NURSE DAVIS


Thank you. Can I ask your name?
                       NURSE DAVIS
Lieutenant Davis. Ann Davis.
      (trying to smile)
Thank you, Lieutenant Ann Davis.
                       NURSE DAVIS
      (smiling as she
       turns to leave)
Glad I could help
It's several days later and Pete is sitting up in bed,
flipping through a magazine.

The doctor comes into view, leafing through the papers on
his clipboard again.
Well, Private Simpson, it looks
like we have done just about all
we can do for you here. Tomorrow
we are going to be transferring
you to another hospital to begin
physical therapy.
Where Sir?
San Francisco. You're going back
to the states, son.
How long will I be there?
A few weeks, a month or two, it's
hard to say. It depends on how
you respond to the treatment.
I can tell you that you will most
likely always have a limp and that
at the end of your rehabilitation
you will be medically discharged.
It's more than a bit ironic that
the Army puts young men in the
position to get injuries like


                       DOCTOR (cont'd)
yours, that will no doubt bother
them for the rest of their lives,
and then turns them loose to deal
with it more or less on their own.
Pete doesn't say anything. He sits there staring off into
space, looking as some unseen image that seems to be holding
him in its grasp.
      (as he turns to
Anyway, good luck Private Simpson.
Thank you, Sir
As the doctor leaves, Father Joe walks up.
                       FATHER JOE
Well, Pete. I hear you're leaving
Yes, Father, I guess I am.
                       FATHER JOE
You know, the name Peter means a
lot in our church. The apostle
Peter was our founder.
I didn't know that.
                       FATHER JOE
It's true. And like you, he had
his share of rough times too. I
guess what I'm trying to say is
things will get better
I know you mean well Father, and I
do appreciate it, but I'm just not
sure which way to turn right now.
                       FATHER JOE
Going home is a positive first
step isn't it?
Home to what? To who?


                       FATHER JOE
      (putting his hand
       on Pete's
It will work out. Don't forget you
have a guardian angel watching
over you now. She will help you
work your way through this.
I'll try my best, Father.
                       FATHER JOE
Good. Keep in touch and let me
know how things work out for you.
                       PETE (V.O.)
It helped that I was so busy
tryin' to get myself workin' again
that I didn't spend too much time
thinking about Grandma. I still
cried at times. I couldn't believe
I was never goin' to see her
again. I thought of Debbie too,
and couldn't keep myself from
feelin' more and more bitter.
With the V.O. is a collage of clips showing Pete undergoing
physical therapy. At first, he moves slowly and carefully
with a cane. Then he is working with a therapist on a slow
moving treadmill. Then a clip of him walking fast without
any support, not even his cane. Finally he is jogging
slowly. He has a pronounced limp, especially when he jogs,
but he is much stronger than when he started.
Pete has finished running and is leaning over with his hands
on his knees, catching his breath. A hospital orderly walks
up to him.
      (handing Pete a
Private Simpson, this is your out
processing packet. Take it to
each clinic in the hospital that
has worked with you. It will take
you a couple of days to get it
complete. Your final out


                       ORDERLY (cont'd)
processing appointment will be
Thursday at 0900 hours. That's in
the packet too.
      (looking at the
       packet, and
       speaking to
Hmmm, only 3 days. And I thought
it would last forever.
Pete enters a small narrow room. There is a wide double door
frame with no doors in the center of one wall. Just outside
the doors, a CLERK sits at a desk. The wall opposite the
desk is lined with chairs. There is a closed door at the far
end of the room. Pete walks over to the desk and hands the
Clerk his processing folder.
      (taking the folder)
Please have a seat. Someone will
call your name when it's your
Pete takes a seat.

Presently he hears his name called.
                       CORPORAL (O.S.)
Private Simpson!
Pete walks through the double door frame. This room has a
number of desks down each side of the room. A soldier is
behind each desk and there is a straight backed chair beside
each desk that faces the wall.

A CORPORAL is standing, looking toward Pete. He waves for
Pete to come to his desk.
Right over here, Private Simpson.
      (as Pete
       approaches he
       points to the
       chair beside his
Have a seat.


The corporal thumbs through Pete's folder.
Looks like tomorrow is going to be
a big day. You're going to be a
civilian again.
Pete nods as the corporal keeps thumbing through the papers.
After another minute, he puts a small stack of papers down
in front of Pete.
These are your discharge papers.
As you can see it's a medical
discharge based on your condition.
Be sure to file a copy with the
local veteran's office ASAP after
you get to your home of record.
The Army has decided you should
receive thirty five percent
disability. That's not much, but
it's something. As soon as you
register at your home of record
they will re-evaluate the
percentage and you will start
receiving the monthly checks.
Pete nods and glances over the papers before he begins
signing them. As he is signing the papers, the corporal
tosses a small box down on the table in front of him.
This is yours too.
      (picking up the
What is it?
      (still shuffling
That's your Purple Heart. Looks
like you were still out when they
wanted to give it to you the first
Pete opens the box and looks at the shiny medal. He
strokes the pad of his thumb across it, feeling its cool
surface, then he puts the top back on the box and puts the
box in his pocket.


      (laying down
       another stack of
This is your travel voucher. Go
back out into the entry way and
through the door to your right.
Take this to the first window
through that door and they will
give you your travel pay and any
back pay you have coming to you.
Then, take that money to the next
window you see and they will get
your airline ticket for you.
What if I want to take the bus?
No problem. The shuttle that
leaves here at 0600 tomorrow
morning goes by Greyhound on the
way to the airport. I would also
advise you that while you're
traveling to wear something other
than your uniform.
The corporal stops shuffling papers and looks intently at
Because not everybody outside
these gates loves the Army or the
fact we're in 'Nam. The Army feels
there's no need in you drawing any
unnecessary attention to yourself.
Can't I wear what I want?
Look. All the Army's trying to do
is save you some grief, man. There
are people out there who will do
anything, up to and including,
kicking your ass if they see you
in that uniform.
I'll think about it.


The corporal glares at Pete for several seconds, and then
after sizing up the stubbornness in him, throws up his
      (slamming his
       hands down on the
       top of the desk)
Okay fine, Private Simpson. You
do that.
      (hands Pete a
       large envelope)
These are yours. I'm done with
you. You're free to go.
Pete stands outside the hospital waiting for the shuttle. It
is a cold, foggy morning. He is wearing his Army dress

A green Army station wagon stops at the curb in front of the
hospital. A small man gets out of the vehicle and gives Pete
a smile as he walks up the steps and into the hospital.

After a few minutes, he comes back out.
Mornin' to you. I'm Victor, you
can call me Vic. They tell me
inside you're my only rider this
      (shaking Vic's
I'm Pete.
Well, come on Pete. We'll get you
loaded up here and on your way.
Pete starts to bend over to get his duffel bag but Vic stops
You let me worry about that.
Pete limps along behind him to the station wagon, and
stands to one side while Vic puts the bag in the back and
closes the door.


You can ride up front with me if
you want.
The two men get in the station wagon and Vic slowly pulls
away from the curb.
I'll have you to the airport in no
I don't want to go to the airport.
The bus station will be fine.
Aren't you in a hurry to get home?
Not really. There are some things
I need to think over before I get
Besides, it'll be good to let
things slow down for a while.
Okay. You're the boss. The bus
station it is then.
The two men drive along in silence for a while, Vic paying
attention to the traffic and Pete staring out at the fog.
      (breaking the
So Pete, you strike me as being a
smart enough guy, so I guess I can
assume you're a little bit on the
stubborn side.
Meanin' what?
Well, I know they gave you the
same no uniform speech they give
everybody else. So since you're
wearing your uniform I can only
guess that you're just stubborn


                       VIC (cont'd)
enough to do what you want.
It just didn't make any sense to
me, that's all.
You know they do that for a
reason, right?
I know the reason they gave me.
But it's my uniform, and as much
as I hated havin' to go through
what I went through, I still think
I earned the right to wear
whatever I want to.
I agree.
It's a shame that it's come to
this. My generation was treated a
lot better. I did my time. Twenty
years in fact, forty two to sixty
two. When we came home, we were
heroes. The country was a lot
different then. Now, people just
want us out of there and they want
us out now. They want to yell at
somebody, but they can't yell at
the ones responsible, so, they
take it out on the ones they can
see. I'm not making excuses for
them, you understand. Just telling
you the way it is.
Vic doesn't say anymore and they ride along in silence. When
he turns the corner near the bus station he can see the
sidewalks are already crowded with people, several of which
are young panhandlers.
Pete, do me a favor. Walk right
in, get your ticket, and find a
nice quiet place in a corner to
sit until your bus leaves.
      (eyeing the crowd)
I'll be fine.


There are more people on the sidewalk than he had seen in
one place in a long time, and it makes him nervous.
Pete gets out and waits for his bag. After months of being
in a quiet hospital, the noise of the city puts his nerves
on edge. He looks up and down the street, trying to take it
all in. The street noise is deafening and the sidewalk is
teeming with people hurrying this way and that. Something
bump his leg and realizes Vic is standing there holding his
duffel bag.
      (seeing Pete
You want me to help you?
      (reaching for the
No. I'll take that, I want to do
this myself.
Are you sure?
Yeah. I've got to do this myself.
      (handing the
       duffle bag)
You're the boss.
      (offering his hand
       to PETE)
It's been a pleasure, Pete.
Welcome home and have a safe trip.
Thanks Vic, I will.
      (noting the
       concern on Vic's
You go on and get back. I'll be
Pete stands on the sidewalk and watches as Vic gets back in
the station wagon and pulls away from the curb. After a
brief wave, he turns toward the station.


                       TEENAGE GIRL (O.S.)
Hey, got any change?
Pete turns when he hears the voice. For a moment his mind is
playing tricks and he thinks he is seeing Debbie. He stares
at the young girl in front of him.
                       TEENAGE GIRL
Well, do ya?
                       FIRST TEENAGE BOY (O.S.)
Hey man, give her some change.
Pete snaps out of the confusion, he realizes she is not
Debbie, and that only puzzles him more. He is tongue-tied.
                       FIRST TEENAGE BOY
I said give her the money, man.
Pete turns slightly. A scruffy teenage boy is yelling at
him. His hair is almost as long as the girl's hair and there
are the thin, wispy beginnings of a beard on his face.
                       FIRST TEENAGE BOY
Is something wrong with your
hearing. soldier boy?
Pete is trying to say something, anything, but can't. The
words just wouldn't come, and the young boy keeps
                       SECOND TEENAGE BOY (O.S.)
Hey, what's with the baby killer?
Another boy comes up on the other side of the young girl.
Now all three of them talk loudly, their voices combine with
the already noisy street. One of them steps toward Pete,
swears at him and then spits. Pete fumbles in his pockets
but he can't remember where he put his money. Then, other
young people begin to join the three already yelling at him,
and the crowd grows larger,
                       VIC (O.S.)
Get back in the wagon
Vic tosses several bills at the crowd and picks up Pete's
duffel bag.
      (to Pete)
Hurry up! Get back in the wagon
and let's get out of here.


Pete ducks inside the station wagon as several of the kids
scuffle for the money. For the time being they have lost
interest in Pete, and Vic quickly jumps back behind the
wheel and pulls away from the curb.
Pete is still flustered and is trying to calm down.
I'm sorry. Too many things
happened at once I guess. I got
Don't worry about it. I don't
think they would have hurt you.
They're not bad kids, not really.
They're just a little mixed up,
and can you blame them when they
have to live off the street like
Well, thanks for comin' back for
I thought you were going to have
some trouble so I circled the
block. The problem now is how are
we going to get you home? We can't
go back there so it's got to be a
plane, right?
No, no plane.
Wait! A truck!


      (getting excited)
Yeah! Big trucks, eighteen
wheelers. Billy's dad drove one
back home. Me and Billy went all
over the place with him. Those
guys will give me a lift. I know
they will. Is there a truck
terminal near here?
Beats me, Pete. I'm sure there
is, but I've never noticed one.
There has to be. This is a port.
Boats bring the stuff in and
trucks haul it out.
Might be one in Oakland
Mind goin' to see?
No sir. I'll get you a ride out
of here if it's the last thing I
It had taken them awhile, but they finally found a terminal
in the foothills east of Oakland. Vic rolls the station
wagon to a stop next to the truck terminal.
I'm not leaving until you find out
if you can get a ride.
Thanks, Vic. I'll be right back.
If this don't work out we can go
to the airport.
It's a deal


The parking lot surrounding the building is full of trucks.
Some are idling and some are being refueled while mechanics
work on some others. To Pete there are too many trucks not
to have some of them going east.

One part of the terminal building is a garage and the
other part is a convenience store. Pete steps inside the
The inside of the store is stocked with almost everything a
truck driver could want. There are shelves of books, maps,
tools, snacks, even clothing. A WOMAN is standing behind the
counter, watching Pete as he walks in.
We don't get many soldier boys in
Pete smiles and walks to the counter.
Ma'am. I was wonderin' if I could
ask a question.
Sure, honey.
      (she notices the
       scars on Pete's
You've been through some kind of
hell, haven't you
Yes ma'am, I guess I have. What I
was wonderin' is if maybe you know
of a driver who might let me ride
along with him.
Where to?
I want to get to Tennessee but
I'll take anything that'll get me
goin' in that direction.


Well, there are trucks leaving
here all the time headed south.
You could probably hitch a ride
down to Bakersfield or Barstow.
There's bound to be trucks through
there headed east.
Great. I'll get my stuff.
When Pete goes back outside, Vic is leaning against the
station wagon watching the trucks move around the terminal.
Find anything?
Yeah. The lady inside said they
leave outta here all the time.
Vic takes Pete's duffel bag out of the back of the station
      (offers his hand
       to Pete one more
Well, this is it then I guess.
      (shaking Vic's
       hand vigorously)
I don't know how to say thank you
Don't worry about it, brother.
Glad I could help. We vets have
to stick together.
Vic gets in the station wagon and Pete stands in the shadow
of the building and watches him pull away from the terminal,
before turning back toward the store.


As Pete re-enters the building the woman behind the counter
smiles at him again.
Sweetie, it's up to you, but I
don't think I'd wear that pretty
uniform in one of these dirty old
trucks. You'll get grease and dirt
all over it.
None of my other clothes fit
right. I've been laid up a while.
      (points toward the
       back of the store)
I have racks of clothes over
there. It's just jeans and work
pants. That's all a trucker will
wear. There are shirts over there
Thank you.
Pete walks to the back of the store and looks through the
racks until he finds a shirt and a pair of jeans that look
like they will fit. He also gets a belt and a pair of cowboy

He then goes to the men's room and changes, putting his
uniform into the duffel bag as neatly as he can.
      (as Pete reappears)
You look like a whole new man,
right down to the boots.
Yeah, I figured that would be
easier than bending over and
fooling with laces.
Smart man.
Oh, I got you a ride!


Really? Do you know where he's
Barstow. It's right on sixty-six
and a lot of trucks come
through there going east.
Pete takes out his wallet to pay for the clothes
I sure do appreciate your help.
Glad to do it. Oh wait a minute.
      (she takes a
       cowboy hat from a
       rack on the
       counter and hands
       it to Pete)
You're going to need something to
keep the sun off that scar
      (as Pete tries it
That's on me. You just take care
of yourself. Oh, here comes
Woodrow, he's the ride I was
telling you about.
PETE turns to see an older man walking toward the counter.
This is WOODROW.
Woodrow, this is the soldier I was
telling you about.
      (looking Pete up
       and down)
Don't look like one to me, except
that is one helluva reminder you
got there on your jaw. Mortar?
Yeah, I guess so. To tell you the
truth I was too busy duckin' for
cover to figure out what it was.


Yeah, I guess you would be. Well,
come on, I have to get this load
to Barstow.
      (to the woman)
Thanks again.
Don't worry about it, hon.
Now Woodrow, you stop in next time
you're up this way and let me know
how he makes out.
      (as he's walking
       out the door)
We'll do it.
The two men don't talk much. The exhaust pipe that extends
up behind the cab is loud and occasionally slaps the side of
the cab just behind Pete. It makes talking difficult.

After a time the truck moves out of the coastal hills and
into a long valley. The inside of the truck gets hot and
Pete rolls down his window, trying his best to disregard the

He watches the scenery go by. There is one cultivated
field after another that is only broken up by an occasional
town. He has never seen so much farm land or the constant
activity in the fields.

After an hour or more, Woodrow yells out above the noise of
the truck.
I'm gonna stop down here in
Bakersfield and fill up and give
the truck a chance to cool off a
little before we start up the
grade. Get yourself a cold drink
and find a shady spot.


Pete sits in a chair behind a gas station under the shade of
several trees. He sips a soft drink and watches the traffic
on the highway.
The two men are back in the truck as it climbs up a fairly
steep grade. Pete leans his head out the window a little and
tries to lookbehind the truck at the long valley
disappearing behind them.

An hour later the road bobs and twists through small rolling
hills. This part of the ride is still hot and looks more and
more like a desert instead of the cultivated fields in the
valley they were in earlier.
                       PETE (VO)
The desert was givin' me second
thoughts about tryin' to hitch a
ride. I didn't want to get stuck
in a place like this.
The truck pulls into a well lit truck terminal. They had
dropped off their load only moments before. Woodrow parks
the truck and both men get out and stretch.
It's too late to start back north.
I've got a friend a few blocks
from here that I visit when I'm in
town. You feel free to sleep here
in the cab if you want to, but I'm
taken off bright and early in the
The noise of the trucks makes it hard for Pete to go sleep.
For a time he sits there looking through the windshield at
the stars. After what seems like hours, he finally falls


It's barely daylight and Pete stands beside the terminal,
waving to Woodrow as he pulls the truck back out on the

There are several shots of Pete hanging around the terminal.
Occasionally he approaches a driver but is always turned
away. Nobody is going east. The more he tries to get a ride,
the more frustrated he becomes.

It is almost noon and Pete is hungry and hot and decides to
go into the terminal for something to eat and chance to cool
Pete walks into the diner and sits on a stool at the
counter. The COOK who runs the diner hands Pete a menu.
Hell, boy, I thought you left this
mornin' with Woodrow.
No, Sir. I'm headin' east as soon
as I can get a ride.
East? What's east?
      (looking over the
So you're tryin' to hitch a ride
from one of these truckers?
That's what I'm hopin'.
You don't look like you're in any
shape to be hitchin' anywhere.
Where did you get cut up so bad?
Pete doesn't answer.


Car wreck?
No, sir. I was wounded in the
From the looks of it, you're lucky
to be alive.
I guess I am. Now I'm just tryin'
to get back home.
You should have taken a plane. You
would have been there by now.
I know. Believe me, that thought
has crossed my mind a lot today.
      (seeing the
       sadness in Pete's
Well hell, boy, if you want a ride
you have to know how to ask for
The Cook turns around, facing the other men in the cafe.
Who in here's a vet?
Several men raise their hands.
      (indicating Pete)
This boy here's a vet too. Look
at him. He did his duty and got
all banged up doin' it. Now he's
just trying to go home back east.
Any of you boys goin' in that
direction want to give him a lift?
One of the truckers raises his hand. This is ED.


As soon as I'm finished eatin'
I've got a load going to Amarillo
      (turns to the
       smiling Pete)
There you go. I'll get you a
hamburger, and if you don't get a
chance to finish it before he's
ready you can take it along with
This truck is a lot different than Woodrow's had been. It is
almost brand new. The cab is higher and roomier, and best
of all its air conditioned. There is also a sleeping
compartment behind the seats.

Ed proves to be no more of a talker than Woodrow. He
listens to his CB radio and sometimes talks to other
truckers, but mostly he is quiet, so once again Pete spends
his time watching the countryside zip by.
                       PETE (V.O.)
Western Arizona looked worse than
California. Once we got past the
Colorado River there was hardly
anything to look at but hard baked
dirt and rocks. We drove over
dozens of small bridges but I
didn't see any water, just dry
creek beds.
After a time they start to climb up into the Arizona high
                       PETE (V.O.)
Then, before I knew it, everything
changed. It wasn't desert anymore,
just lots and lots of pine trees.
They ride on through the pines where it is cool and shady
and the air smells good and fresh.

But then, after a few minutes, they start their descent on
the east side of the mountains.
                       PETE (V.O.)
Then, just as I got used to the
everything bein' so nice, we
started back down the mountain


                       PETE (cont'd)
again and in no time we were right
back in the ugly desert.
      (breaking up
       Pete's day
There's a rest area up here a bit.
I'm gonna pull in there for a few
hours' sleep. I'm gonna crawl back
there into the sleeper, but you're
welcome to sleep here in the cab
if you want to. I've got a
sleeping bag and extra blankets
you can use if you need 'em.
The rest area is crowded with other trucks and cars. Some
of the trucks are idling with their marker lights turned on.
Ed finds a place to park and the two men get out to stretch
their legs. After walking around for a few minutes, Ed
climbs into the sleeping compartment and tosses Pete a
It's such a nice night, so if it's
all the same to you I'm gonna go
lay out on one these picnic
tables. Don't run off in the
mornin' without me.
Ed doesn't say anything and closes the door. Pete spreads
the blanket out on the table, lays down on one part of it
and pulls the rest of the blanket over him.
Sleep is slow in coming.
      (slapping the top
       of the table)
Time to rise and shine. Gonna
stop up here in Gallup to gas up
and grab a bite to eat. We should
be in Amarillo shortly past noon.
Pete is snapped out of a deep sleep and crawls slowly into
the truck.


Pete dozes for the first hour or so after they eat. The
scenery is getting better. There is more plant life and the
green brush and trees were starting to mingle with the brown
ones. He notices the 'Welcome to Texas' sign.
      (as they near
Listen, I'm gonna have to drop you
off before I drop this load.
They've got their own loaders at
this place and they don't like
nobody being in the truck but the
Okay. I understand.
I'll drop you on the corner where
there's other trucks comin' and
goin'. If you get another ride,
that's good, but if you don't I'll
pick you up on my way out and take
you over to the truck stop. You'll
be able to get somethin' there.
      (nods and shakes
       Ed's hand)
Okay, and if for some reason I
don't see you again, I appreciate
all you've done for me.
Glad I could help.
Ed pulls over to the curb at the first intersection he comes
to. Pete tosses his duffel bag out onto the sidewalk and
hops down behind it.
You're welcome at my place
Ed waves and Pete closes the door, then steps back as Ed
pulls away from the curb. Pete watches him go.


                       JOHN (O.S.)
Hey cowboy, you interested in
pickin' up a little bit of work?
Pete turns to see a young cowboy partially out of his truck.
He has the truck door open, his left arm hooked over the top
of the door and his right hand still on the steering wheel.
The truck is loaded down with what looks like fence posts.
The load is so heavy the truck bed is almost resting on the
rear axle.
Well, I don't know. I was just
passin' through. What kind of
I'm takin' these posts out to my
ranch and I'm gonna need help
unloadin' 'em. The ranch is about
an hour north of here. I can get
you right back to this same spot
tomorrow. Next day at the latest.
Why not? Right now it sounds
better than standin' here on this
He picks up the duffel back and carries it to the truck. He
puts it on the seat between him and the cowboy. The young
cowboy closes his door and offers his hand to Pete.
My name's John, John Wallace.
      (shaking John's
Pete Simpson. Good to meet you.
I remember. I had you figured for
a regular cow hand 'til I got you
out here and found out you didn't
know one end of a horse from the


Everyone sitting around the porch laughs.
Dad had most of the hands out on a
round up, and I had gone to town
to pick up a few things. When I
went by Watts' Hardware the posts
had come in early, so I had them
load them on the truck and then
swung over by the truck terminals
to see if anybody over that way
would help me. That's when I run
into you.
It was the most impulsive thing
I've ever done, besides I felt
sorry for the truck. The bed
was ridin' on the axle, and it
looked like it was gonna break
down any minute.
I thought you were still hurt.
He was. It scared me to death
when I looked out there and the
two of them was unloadin' that
truck. He was so thin and pale. He
didn't look much bigger than one
of them fence posts.
Well, they said I was to get
plenty of exercise, I just to
start slow. I figured a fence
post didn't weigh all that much.
You're lucky you didn't open
something back up.
We did alright. We unloaded the
truck and put up most of the fence
posts for the new corral by the
time Dad and the men got back.
Yeah, I came back and asked John
who in the hell that scarecrow was


                       BOSS (cont'd)
workin' on the corral. He had to
be the saddest lookin' excuse for
a cowboy I ever saw.
It worried me, just watchin' him.
I thought he was gonna end up
gettin' hurt again. For the first
week he was here I made him sleep
in the guest room. I'd never
forgive myself if somethin'
happened at the bunkhouse and
nobody was there to help him.
      (holding up a hand)
Now wait a minute. It wasn't all
that bad. It's not like I was an
You sure looked like one. Dad and
Kate both kept tellin' me we
couldn't let you leave here until
you were stronger. The thing is I
didn't know it was gonna take
thirty years.
Maggie gets up and walks over to where Pete is standing and
puts her arm around his waist.
      (smiling up at him)
I'm glad you stayed.
Boss gets up and walks toward the door. As he walks past
Pete he slaps him on the back.
I've made a lot of mistakes in my
time, but hirin' this man ain't
one of 'em.
I'm gonna go to bed. If you still
want to go, get one of the pickups
and go. We can do without you for
a while.
Thanks, Boss.
Kate and John walk toward the door too.


We're goin' to bed too. Maggie,
use the guest room. It's too late
for you to be drivin' home.
I will, thanks.
      (gives Pete a kiss
       on the cheek.)
You can do what you want with
birthday boy here, but if it was
me I'd send him down to the
bunkhouse where he belongs.
Pete and Maggie laugh.
G'night you two.
G'night John
After everyone else goes inside Pete and Maggie stand arm in
arm looking out at the dark.
They love you a lot.
They're good people. I don't know
where I'd be without them.
You'd better come back.
      (taken by surprise)
Hey now, I ain't plannin'
anything. There are no secrets.
Couple of days there and I'm
comin' right back here.
You never told me about her.
Debbie? Nothin' to tell really.
Not anymore.


But you obviously loved her. Why
didn't you try to get in touch
with her again?
I did, once. It was three or four
years after I got here. Me and
John and some of the boys was down
at Lefty's one Saturday drinkin'
beer and swappin' lies. When we
came back to the ranch I got to
feelin' pretty lonesome, so I got
Casey's number from the operator
and called. Debbie answered and
she was laughin' at somethin'. It
sounded almost like she was
playin'. She said hello a couple
of times, but I didn't say
anything. I felt like I was
intrudin', so I hung up.
You let that stop you? You know
as well as I do there could have
been lots of reasons why she was
I know that, but she sounded
happy, and I didn't think I had
the right to stir things up again,
even if I could. Anyway, that was
the last time I tried.
Look, go back and look her up. Say
hi. Just don't get any ideas
about not coming back here.
      (pulling her into
       his arms)
Never had any ideas like that to
begin with.
A pickup truck turns onto an onramp to the interstate.
Pete is driving the pickup truck. Then....


.... the pickup truck passes a 'Welcome to Oklahoma' sign.

.....the pickup truck driving in the rain as Pete munches on
a hamburger.

... a large bridge looms up in front of the truck. Memphis
is just across the Mississippi River.
The pickup truck turning into a motel parking lot. Pete
gets out slowly and stretches and then stamps his right foot
a couple of times before he goes into the motel.
Pete is reclined on the bed talking to Maggie on the phone.
Shots switch between Pete and Maggie as they talk.
Just letting you know I'm in
Are you excited? You sound tired.
I'll admit to be a little of both.
How much farther do you have to
Six or seven hours. I'll get up
early and be there by noon I hope.
Not really sure what I'm going to
do first. Go out to the graveyard
most likely.
Keep an open mind. There will be
some things that will be
different, but I'll bet you're
gonna see a lot that's the same.
Yeah, I guess. Well, I'm gonna
take a shower and hit the sack.
I'll call you again tomorrow.


Okay. Have fun. Love you.
I love you too. Sweet dreams.
Pete hangs up the phone.
Another shot of Pete entering the interstate, then...

... the pickup truck traveling the interstate through
Nashville. It has started to rain again.

... an interstate sign showing the ramp to Interstate 75.
Pete takes the ramp.

... Pete exiting the interstate at a sign reading "Loudon".
Pete pulls to the side of the road. He looks around, trying
to get his bearings. The road he is on is a newer road, one
he doesn't remember.
He decides he is going the right direction and pulls back
out on the highway.
A mile or so down the road, he turns off the new road onto a
smaller two-lane road.

The truck follows the twisting, turning road. When he
starts to recognize more and more, he speeds up, anxious to
get there.
The truck tops a rise in the road at a good rate of speed.

Suddenly, Pete slams on the brakes and the truck skids to a
stop as dust boils up around it.

Pete stares through the windshield at something in front of
him. He slowly opens the door and gets out, still focusing
on the sight in front of him. It is a large lake, and about
50 yards out in the lake, a silo sticks up out of the water.
                       OLD MAN (O.S.)
You look lost.
Pete is startled. An OLD MAN is walking up from the lake
shore, carrying his fishing gear


      (still puzzled)
Well, I'm not sure anymore, maybe
I am. I thought this road went on
through. Looks like I was wrong.
                       OLD MAN
Must be a helluva long time since
you used it then. That water's
been there more'n twenty years
Pete continues to stare out at the water.
                       OLD MAN
You headed someplace in
Well, yeah. Yeah, I was. There
used to be a little graveyard
over there on that hill.
                       OLD MAN
Still is, but you ain't gonna get
to it goin' that way
How then?
                       OLD MAN
Back the way you came in. Turn
left on the new road. Go down
about 5 miles and you'll see a
little store on your left. You
can't miss it. Turn on the road
beside that store. Then you can
turn back this way when you reach
the hills.
Thank you.
                       OLD MAN
Who do you know buried up there?
Just some people I used to know.


Pete turns off the paved road onto a narrow dirt road that
goes up a hill at a fairly steep angle.

At the top of the hill, he turns off the motor and steps out
of the truck. The sky is dark and storm clouds are moving

He looks around the grave yard. When he gets his bearings,
he walks over to a set of head stones.

The wind picks up leaves and debris and blows them
around the ground. The trees above him are beginning to whip
in the wind.

The first headstone is his grandfather, the next one is his
grandmother and then next to her are his Mom and Dad.

He takes his hat off and brings his hand up to his face as
he sobs. His shoulders are shaking as he cries hard.

Suddenly, a very loud crack of thunder splits the air as
lightning flashes across the sky and the clouds open up
with heavy rain.

He stands there for a moment, consumed with sorrow, but then
decides he had better leave. He isn't used to being around
trees during a storm like this.

He runs over to the truck and climbs in. He starts the
truck, turns it around and eases back down the hill. It is
raining so hard that water is rushing along the dirt road,
filling the gullies on each side of it and spilling over
onto the road.

Part way down the hill the truck slides slightly to one side
and when he tries to correct it, the truck slides the other
way. Within seconds he has lost almost all control of
the truck as it half rolls, half slides, down the slick,
muddy road.

When the truck hits the bottom of the hill, he tries to jerk
it onto the paved road, but cannot. The truck goes across
the road and down an embankment, stopping several feet off
the pavement.

Pete collects himself and tries to back up to the road, but
the truck tires spin in the water and mud.

Suddenly, the cab of the truck is filled with light.


It is still raining hard and combines with the thick clouds
to make the day almost as dark as midnight. When the light
shines on the cab of the truck, Pete opens the door and
looks back up the hill.
                       DEPUTY (O.S.)
You alright down there?
Pete steps out of the truck and sees a figure approaching
him through the rain. As the man gets closer, Pete
recognizes the DEPUTY Sheriff's uniform.
      (still a little
I missed the road. I was comin'
down out of the graveyard and went
into a skid. Ended up over here.
Are you hurt, sir?
No. Nothin' more than my pride.
Think you can pull it out?
I tried once. Let me try it
Pete gets back in the truck and starts it up. Again, his
tires spin in the mud and the truck does not move.
You're not gonna get anywhere that
way. I've got a winch. Let me
pull you out.
The Deputy walks back to his patrol car and releases the
cable on the winch attached to his front bumper. He pulls
the cable back down the hill and hooks it underneath the
rear end of the truck.
When I flash my lights you try
backin' up. When I flash them
again, stop. We don't want to hurt
anything or anybody if we can help


The deputy gets in his car and flashes his lights. Pete
tries to back up. At first the tires slip again but then
catch hold and the truck backs up the hill. The deputy
flashes his lights again and Pete stops.

The deputy gets out of his car, unhooks the cable from the
truck and reels it back into the winch. He then turns to
I'm sorry, sir, but I called this
stop in so I'm gonna have to write
up a report. Can I see your
driver's license and registration
Pete fishes around in the glove box for the registration and
then hands it to the deputy along with his license.
This will only take a minute. I'll
be right back.
Pete sits back in the truck to wait on the deputy who comes
back almost immediately.
Sir, there's a little problem
here. This registration has
expired and it ain't registered to
you. It's registered to Isaac
Wallace in Texas.
Yeah, that's Boss. He owns the
ranch where I work. He knows I
have his truck.
I'm sure he does, sir, but I'm
gonna have to check it. Just sit
tight, and I'll be right back.
Casey Goodman walks down a hallway to the lobby. He is busy
looking down at a stack of papers he is carrying. When he
gets to the lobby he puts the papers down on a counter.

Behind the counter, a woman is talking into a headset and
typing into a console as she speaks. She is BETTY JO, she
works the desk and radio for the Sheriff's Office.


      (without looking
Betty Jo, I need the
logbooks from last week.
                       BETTY JO
      (holds up a finger)
Hold on just one second.
      (then into her
Say again, four.
Roger four, wants and warrants for
Peter Simpson. Is that right?
      (looks up as if he
What was that?
                       BETTY JO
It's a traffic stop. Expired
The name, what was that name
                       BETTY JO
      (reading from the
       screen in front
       of her)
Peter Simpson, He's outta Texas,
driving a truck that don't belong
to him and has an expired
registration. I'm checking with
Texas now.
Get a description from four.
                       BETTY JO
Sheriff, it's just a traffic stop.
Just do it, Betty Jo.
                       BETTY JO
      (into the headset)
Four, give me a description
on the driver.
      (turns to Casey


                       BETTY JO (cont'd)
       and repeats the
       description as
       she receives it)
White male. Fifty years of
age. Six feet. Brown and brown.
Bring him in. And while you're at
it, run his name and numbers and
see what else you can find out
about him.
                       BETTY JO
But Sheriff, it's just a traffic
I don't give a damn. Call it what
you want to, but get him in here.
The vehicle could be stolen. If
nothing else, we can bring him in
on that.
                       BETTY JO
      (into the headset)
Four. Detain the driver and
bring him in for questioning.
Sheriff's orders.
Roger four. Sheriff's orders.
Pete sees the deputy returning and rolls down the window.
I'm sorry, sir, but the Sheriff
has ordered me to bring you back
to the jail.
What for. I ain't done nothin'.
I'm sure it's just routine, sir.
Now, if you'll just step out of
the truck please.


Pete sighs and gets out of the truck.
Sorry, sir, but I have to handcuff
you. It's regulation.
Pete reluctantly turns around and the deputy handcuffs his
hands behind him.
What about the truck?
It'll be towed to the jail.
The deputy leads Pete to the car and opens the back door. As
Pete gets in, his hat falls to the ground. The deputy leans
down and picks up the hat and puts it on Pete's lap.
The deputy leads Pete into the jail's lobby.
                       BETTY JO
The Sheriff wants to see him in
his office.
The deputy leads him down the hall and knocks on a door.
Beside the door is a sign, "Sheriff Goodman".
Pete sees the name on the sign and frowns.
      (from inside)
Come in.
The deputy opens the door. Even though Casey is looking
down at some papers, Pete recognizes him right away.
      (without looking
Take the cuffs off of him Curt,
and then there won't be no
reason for you to hang around. I
can handle this one by myself.


The deputy does as instructed then walks out the door. When
the door closes, Casey looks up at Pete for the first time.
Casey looks angry.
Well, look here. You leave a war
hero and come back lookin' like
John Wayne.
What in the hell are you up to?
I ain't up to nothin'. Just
decided it was time to pay a
visit. I got a little home sick to
see the old place I guess.
Home sick my ass. After thirty
Well, yeah. That's a long time I
admit, but it's true. I wanted to
see how the place looked, see if
Uncle Jimmy was still around,
things like that. A middle age
thing I reckon.
What were you doin' out there when
they found you?
I was up at the graveyard, payin'
my respects to my folks.
See anything surprisin'?
Surprisin'? Surprisin' how?
Never mind. Just a question.
      (fumbling with his
Look Casey, whatever it is that
bothers you about my bein' here,
don't worry, I'll be in and out in


                       PETE (cont'd)
a week at the most.
      (changing the
Where you been all these years,
I settled down in Texas. I'm the
foreman on a ranch out there. Been
there since I got outta the Army.
The Army give you that scar?
Yeah, I wasn't even there a month
before I got hurt. Took 'em a
while to put me back together, but
they did a good job.
      (slaps his right
Sometimes this gives me a little
trouble, but I can manage.
      (more to himself
       than to PETE)
Startin' to make sense now.
What's that?
      (ignoring Pete's
Listen Tex, you'd make my life a
whole lot easier all the way
'round if you'd just go back to
whatever rock it was you've been
hidin' under. You bein' here is
just gonna cause problems.
Look, Casey, like I said, I just
got an urge to see home, that's
all. I don't see how my bein' here
could cause trouble for anybody.
I'll go back to Texas after I look
around a few days.


Casey spins his chair around and stares at the wall. He
doesn't speak for a few moments, but it seems to be a long
time to Pete.
I married Debbie.
I know.
Casey spins back around and looks quizzically at Pete.
      (in answer to
       Casey's look)
I read about it in the Loudon
paper while I was in the
hospital. The same time they told
me about Grandma.
Look, I can hold you seventy two
hours on this registration
business and nobody would say a
word. Now, I know you didn't
drive all this way to spend time
in my jail, so we can just settle
it all if you'll jump in that
truck and head back the way you
Dammit Casey! I didn't come all
this way just to turn right around
and go back. I don't know why you
don't want me here, but you do
what you feel like you gotta do,
and I'm gonna do what I came here
to do. I ain't botherin' you or
anybody else.
You got no idea how wrong you are.
Come with me, there's somethin' I
wanna show you.
Casey grabs his hat and raincoat and starts toward the door.


What is it?
Just come on and see for yourself.
It's after sunset and still raining so the night is even
darker. Casey pulls out onto the highway and turns south
while Pete looks around.

When they top the hill that overlooks the river, Pete
notices the old narrow bridge has been replaced by a newer,
wider bridge, but this one has no steel structure over it.
When did they tear down the old
A couple of years ago, and it was
about time too. It felt like it
was going to fall apart every time
I drove across it.
After crossing the bridge, Casey turns down the street in
front of the court house and parks in front of the walkway
leading to the front steps. Pete follows along behind him.

Casey gets out of the car and walks down the walkway,
stopping in front of a monument with a small ornamental
fence around it. Pete follows along behind him.

A statue of a soldier tops the monument. The rain is
creating small wisps of steam on the floodlights that
illuminate the soldier.

Casey points to a plaque recessed into the stone base of the

Pete steps closer and looks at the plaque.





Pete feels his knees start to buckle. He stumbles backward
as he tries to keep from falling. His foot slips off the
edge of the walk and he loses his footing completely,
landing with a thud on the wet grass. He sits there, his
eyes wide in disbelieve, staring at his name on the statue.
Casey remains quiet, letting the impact of what Pete is
looking at sink in.

When he thinks he has made his point, Casey bends down and
helps Pete to his feet. Casey half carries, half guides
him back toward the car.

When they get to the car, Pete jerks his arm out of Casey's
grip. Casey grabs for him again but stops when Pete holds up
his hand.
Leave me alone, Casey. I need a
Pete walks to the corner and stands in the rain as he stares
up into the dark night sky.
After they walk back into his office, Casey gets a towel
from the closet and hands it to Pete.
Better get yourself dried off.
Pete dries his face and hair as much as he can.
      (still dazed)
Everybody really think I'm dead?
Sure do. The Army sent home a
fancy box and everything. 'Course
nobody opened it. According to the
Army, there was just bits and
pieces in there anyway, or at
least nothing we would recognize.
They had a great big funeral with
guns and flags and a honor guard.
The whole bit. Lots of people


                       CASEY (cont'd)
showed up. You would have been
Pete sits down in a chair.
They planted you out there in that
graveyard right next to your Mama
and Daddy. I'm surprised you
missed it.
A thunderstorm came up, so I had
to leave.
What happened to Uncle Jimmy?
Nothing. Nothing bad anyway. He's
doin' great. He's a member of the
city council. Has been for years.
He's got a successful business.
Pillar of the community I think
is what they call it.
      (smiling for the
       first time)
That's great. Here I was worried
about him for nothin' I guess. How
'bout everybody else? Billy?
Billy's dead. Just a couple of
years after we graduated. He got
him an old car, and you know
Billy, he had to do everything
fast and hard. Always trying to
prove something. Anyway, one
Saturday night he wrapped it
around a tree not far from your
old house.
Wayne, on the other hand, is doing
real good. He's a contractor. His
company built most of the houses
over on the lake, and from the
looks of it he's going to keep


                       CASEY (cont'd)
right on buildin'
We run into each other every now
and again. We're as friendly as we
can be considerin' we don't move
in the same circles.
Speakin' of that lake, what is all
that? It's not easy comin' back
home and findin' your old house
under water.
The TVA built a dam on the little
river about twenty five years ago
and it backed up water all through
that area. Everybody got paid for
any land they lost. Like most
things, some made out better than
others, your Uncle Jimmy for one,
Anyway, no sooner did the water
level off when developers bought
up all the land around the lake
and started sellin' retirement
homes, mostly to folks from up
north. There's been a rough spot
or two, but overall it ain't been
too bad. It kept Loudon from
dryin' up, that's for sure.
How's Debbie?
Casey scowls, not liking the question.
Casey, come on. I'm just askin'
how she's doin'. It ain't like
I'm here to take her back to Texas
with me.
      (still frowning)
She's fine. We've been together a
long time, and I've done
everything I can to make her
happy. There's not been one time
-- not one -- that I didn't put
what she wanted in front of what I
That's all I'm gonna say 'bout


                       CASEY (cont'd)
She could have done a lot worse.
I'm sure she appreciates you.
Sometimes I wonder.
Both men grow silent. The only noise is the sound of the
rain falling outside.
You know, none of 'em are gonna be
prepared to see you, not after all
these years of thinkin' you're
Yeah, I know. Helluva thing. I've
been thinkin' 'bout this trip for
a long time, and nobody was more
excited to be anyplace than I was
to see these hills again. Now,
it's just a big mess.
I thought you cowboy types just
rode off into the sunset. Which is
exactly what I think you should
do. Pack it up and head back to
Pete is silent. Deep in thought. Casey stays quiet,
letting everything sink in.
Who said anybody's gonna recognize
What in the hell are you talkin'
Well, I just don't see how it
would hurt if I looked around for
a few days. It's not like I'm
going to walk up and knock on


                       PETE (cont'd)
somebody's door.
Pete, dammit, you are still as
stubborn as a mule. You'll never
change. Don't you see this ain't
just about you?
      (equally loud)
I didn't come all this way just to
turn right around and go back.
You're gonna force me to lock you
No I ain't, and you ain't goin'
to. If you did you'd have to write
it down somewhere that I was here.
Then where would you be? You'd be
lettin' people know I was here,
and that's the very thing you
don't want to happen.
      (slamming his fist
       on the desk)
Damn you, Pete!
Now, I'm gonna find the truck and
then find me a place to stay the
night. I'm wet and I'm tired. It's
been a long day, and it's not been
a particularly good one at that.
In the mornin' I'm gonna look
around Loudon. I'm at least goin'
back to the graveyard and finish
payin' my respects. Then maybe the
next day, or the day after that,
I'll be satisfied with what I've
seen and head back to Texas.
Casey slumps back in his chair, staring at Pete. He is
trying to find a clean way out of this.


      (leaning forward
       and pointing his
       finger at Pete)
I'm givin' you forty eight hours.
If you're still here Saturday
mornin' you're gonna have to deal
with me. I mean it. And, if I hear
of you so much as sayin' hello to
anybody, or if I find you within a
mile of my house, I'm gonna break
you in half. You understand me?
I understand a threat when I hear
one. And I'll let you know when
I'm ready to leave. Right now, I
don't plan to knock on many doors
besides maybe Uncle Jimmy's. In
light of what I've seen tonight
I'm not even sure I'm gonna do
that. I'll have to think about it
some more.
      (picks up the
       phone and speaks
       into it)
Send Curt back in here
After a few seconds there is a knock at the door.
Come in.
The deputy walks in.
You wanted somethin', Sheriff?
I want to know when his truck gets
They're droppin' it in the lot
      (turning to Pete)
Get it and get out of here. I'm
gonna be keepin' an eye on you.
Step outta line once and I'll be


                       CASEY (cont'd)
all over you.
Pete takes another look a Casey, almost as if he is going to
say something but changes his mind. He takes the keys from
the deputy and walks out the door.
Betty Jo stands up and watches Pete walk out the front door
of the jail. The deputy comes out of the hallway and stops
just inside the lobby, watching after Pete too. The deputy
is not aware that Casey is behind him and is startled when
Casey starts talking.
Follow him. Don't worry about
whether he sees you or not. I want
him to see you. I want him to know
we're watching him.
The seputy nods and walks toward the door. Casey turns to
Betty Jo.
Betty Jo, Tell the city boys to be
lookin' for him too. No need to
give 'em a name, just tell 'em to
be lookin' for that truck.
      (stopping at the
Anything else, Sheriff?
Yes. I would appreciate it if
both of you didn't mention this to
anybody. This is personal.
You got it, Sheriff.
                       BETTY JO
I won't tell a soul.
Casey walks into the kitchen. Debbie is sitting at the
kitchen table reading the newspaper.


      (hanging up his
I think you should stick close to
the house the next few days.
Why? What's wrong?
A couple of guys broke out of
Brushy Mountain Prison today. They
might be heading this way.
That's happened before. What's so
different about this time?
Just stay close to home!
Debbie stares at Casey as he walks out the back door to the
deck, wondering what has made him so upset.
Boss walks out onto the porch and sits in his favorite
rocking chair. It is almost dark. After a couple of
seconds Kate walks out on the porch too, her attention drawn
to something off screen.
From the POV of Boss and Kate we can see the headlights of a
car making its way to the ranch from the main road. As the
car gets closer we can see it's a sheriff's patrol car.
SHERIFF FRANKS gets out of the car.
Boss walks out onto the porch and sits in his favorite
rocking chair. It is almost dark. After a couple of
seconds Kate walks out on the porch too, her attention drawn
to something off screen.
From the POV of Boss and Kate as they see the headlights of
a car making its way to the ranch from the main road. As
the car gets closer we can see it's a sheriff's patrol car
and SHERIFF FRANKS is the driver.


      (as the Sheriff
       gets out of the
Bob, what in Sam Hill are you
doin' out here this time of day?
Sheriff Franks walks over to the porch steps.
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
I was on my way home and thought
I'd stop in for a minute.
Would you like something cold to
drink, Sheriff?
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
      (wiping the back
       of his neck with
       a kerchief)
Ice water would be good if you got
This a business call or a social
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
A little of both.
Kate comes back out on the porch and hands the Sheriff a
glass of ice water. The Sheriff takes the glass and drinks
most of it at once.
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
Much obliged.
      (after giving him
       time to drink)
Well, what part of it's business?
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
We got a call today on Pete.
What is it?
      (almost at the
       same time as KATE)
What kind of call?


                       SHERIFF FRANKS
Some county people from Tennessee
was callin' here checkin' on him.
Seems they got him in a traffic
At this point John walks out on the porch.
They called all the way out here
for just a traffic stop?
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
They said the registration on the
truck he was drivin' had expired.
Damn. I didn't bother to look at
which truck he took. One of them
was overdue.
Well, just tell 'em we're good for
the fine or whatever it is, and
that'll be the end of it.
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
I'm not so sure, Boss. There was
somethin' in there about puttin'
him in jail.
What in the hell would they put
him in jail for?
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
Laws are different all over so I
can't really say. I just thought
I'd better let you know.
Thanks Bob, we appreciate it.
Did they say where in Tennessee?
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
Loudon County I think is what they


Is that where he was goin'?
Yes it is.
Well why in the devil would his
own people do that to him?
Nobody did anything to him, Dad.
It sounds like they were just
doin' their job.
Job hell. You don't throw
somebody in jail for a traffic
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
I can't say for sure that's what
they did. They probably just
wanted to make sure he didn't
steal it. If they thought he had,
they could certainly put him in
jail 'til they got it cleared up.
Boss gets out of the rocking chair as Kate goes into the
Well, whatever the cause, nobody
throws one of my men in jail
without a damned good reason. Get
me an airplane ticket. I want the
earliest one I can get.
Now, Dad, the chances are that
it's all over and Pete ain't in
jail. There's no need for you to
go flyin' back there over
something that's probably nothin'
to worry about.
Well, if nothin' is wrong, I'll
just hitch a ride back here with
him. Besides, I could use a day
or two off myself, and I ain't
seen that part of the country, so
get me a ticket.


Kate comes back out onto the porch.
I called Maggie and told her. She
wants to go with you.
There then, it's settled. Looks
like she's as big a fool as I am,
don't it?
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
Well, I gotta git. If I hear
anything else I'll let y'all know.
You do that Bob. Thanks for
watchin' out for one of ours.
      (and John)
Thanks, Sheriff.
                       SHERIFF FRANKS
I'm happy to do it. Y'all take
Pete walks out of his room to the truck. Before he gets in
he looks around. The motel sits on a hill, overlooking the
interstate exit for Loudon. As he looks out across the
roadway he sees a small cafe and is reminded of how hungry
he is.
Pete enters the cafe. It is about half full. He stands
near the cash register, waiting to be seated. A waitress
hurries past him with an order. This is MARY ANN.
                       MARY ANN
Sit wherever you can find room.
The menu is on the table.
Pete keeps his head down as he walks across the room, not
looking directly at anyone. He sits down in the last booth
by a window and puts his hat on the table in front of him.
He glances back at the room to see if anyone noticed him


coming in, but no one is looking his way. He picks up a
menu and starts looking through it.
                       CHARLIE (O.S.)
Hey mister, are you a real cowboy?
Pete looks up to see two little boys standing beside the
booth. They are looking back and forth from him to his hat.
The one in front is CHARLIE. He is the bigger and braver
of the two, while the smaller stands quietly behind his
bigger brother. He is DAVID.
Well, yeah, I reckon I am.
You got a horse and everything?
Yep, I sure do.
Wow, I wished I had me a horse.
The little one is grinning and shaking his head. Clearly, he
wants a horse too.
Maybe one of these days you'll get
one. What's your name?
I'm Charlie.
      (indicating the
       smaller one
       behind him)
And this is David. He's my
brother. He's three but don't talk
How old are you, Charlie?
      (holding up his
       hand with his
       fingers spread to
       emphasize the
I'm five. What's your name?


I'm Pete.
What's your horse's name? Is he
You mean Ol' Dollar? No. He's
back home in Texas, most likely
eatin' too many oats.
                       MARY ANN (O.S.)
You boys get out of here and leave
this man alone so's he can eat.
Now git!
The two boys scurry off to the back corner of the cafe where
they have several toys spread out on the floor.
They weren't any bother.
                       MARY ANN
Old Dollar?
      (not fully
       what she said)
                       MARY ANN
What kind of a name is Ol' Dollar?
Is that anything like Ol' Yeller
Mary Ann chuckles at her own joke.
No ma'am, that's my horse back
home in Texas. Boss named him
Dollar when he was foaled. Said he
was so skinny we'd be lucky if
anybody would give a dollar for
                       MARY ANN
      (a little
Wait. You're bein' serious


Well sure I am. Why wouldn't I
                       MARY ANN
I thought you were just pullin'
their leg.
Heck no. Dollar's a fine horse.
                       MARY ANN
Then I'm sorry. I wasn't laughin'
at you.
I didn't think you were.
                       MARY ANN
What's a cowboy from Texas doin'
around here?
Just passin' through mostly. I
used to know some folks who lived
around here. Thought I'd look the
place over a little bit.
                       FRANKLIN (O.S.)
Will somebody please do somethin'
about these damn kids?
Pete looks over toward where the two little boys are
playing. At one of tables near them sits a large bearded
man. There are two other men sitting with him who are trying
to keep him quiet. The big man is FRANKLIN.
Can't a man eat his breakfast
around here in a little peace and
quiet? Where the hell is JB?
                       MARY ANN
You hush, Franklin. They ain't
gonna be here much longer. Mama's
on her way now to pick 'em up.
Why don't you get your ass over
here and take care of 'em? You're
their damned mama.


                       MARY ANN
      (to Pete)
I'll be right back.
Bring 'em back over here.
                       MARY ANN
      (not sure she
Bring 'em over here by me. They
won't bother me. I'd appreciate
the company.
She smiles at him and then walks over and gets the two
boys. She carries a few toys and sets them on the floor by
Pete's booth. The boys follow along behind her, smiling at
                       MARY ANN
      (to Pete)
Thank you.
Now, what can I get you?
      (smiling at the
       two boys)
You two want something?
                       MARY ANN
They've already ate.
I hate eatin' by myself.
      (reading from the
I'll have scrambled eggs with
bacon, toast and a cup of coffee.
And bring both of my partners here
a doughnut.
Both boys squeal with delight.
Oh boy!
                       MARY ANN
      (smiles as she
       turns toward the


                       MARY ANN (cont'd)
You two be good.
They will. Ain't that right boys?
Yes sir!
David shakes his head up and down with a big smile on his
The boys begin to play again and Pete looks around the room.
The big man is still glaring at Pete and the boys while
talking to the other men at his table.

Mary Ann brings the food and Pete begins to eat. The big man
gets up from his table and walks toward Pete and the boys
The two men with him walk toward the front of the café.

The two little boys see him coming and move away, their eyes
wide with fright.
You ain't from around here are
No. Just passin' through.
You should learn to mind you own
damn business. Nobody around here
likes nosey strangers.
Franklin is blocking Pete's view of the front of the cafe.
Both little boys run in that direction. Pete leans forward a
little to see them, but the big man moves too and blocks his
view again.
      (almost a growl)
You best leave.
Pete doesn't want to push the issue. He knows that if
anything happens he will have to deal with Casey, so he
tries to stay calm as long as he can. Then, he glances out
the window at a van heading back toward Loudon with the top
of Charlie's head barely visible through the window.


You gonna leave, or do I have to
help you make up your mind?
                       MARY ANN
Franklin, you leave him alone, He
ain't done nothin' to you.
Pete stands up. If the big man expects Pete to back down,
he is mistaken. Pete will only be pushed so far, even if he
does have to face Casey.
                       CASEY (O.S.)
Pete freezes in place and Franklin backs up a step as Casey
steps up beside them.
What's goin' on here?
This guy is meddlin' where he
ain't got no business.
                       MARY ANN (O.S)
He's lyin'. Franklin was yellin'
at Charlie and David and this man
was just tryin' to help. Nobody
else would.
Get outta here, Franklin.
I ain't done nothin'.
      (glaring at Pete)
Not yet anyway.
Pete glances back and forth from Casey to Franklin, not
really sure how to respond but at this point is okay with
Casey handling the matter. Out of the corner of his eye,
Pete notices an older man leaning against the counter. The
old man is staring directly at Pete. It is his Uncle Jimmy.
He looks older than he actually is, almost feeble.
      (still glaring at
JB, you're gonna have to have a
separate section in here for these
outsiders. Keep 'em outta in here
where decent folks are tryin' to


                       FRANKLIN (cont'd)
The old man leaning against the counter says nothing,
continuing to stare at Pete.
This is the last time I'm sayin'
it Franklin, get outta here.
      (turns to Casey)
You know what Casey, you ain't
gonna be sheriff around here
forever. One of these days I might
just have to beat the shit outta
you too.
Casey doesn't flinch.
Maybe, but it ain't gonna be
today. Leave now or I'm gonna
throw you in jail.
What are you gonna do with this
Leave him to me. Now git.
Franklin gives Pete one last scowl, then turns and walks
past Casey and Uncle Jimmy and out the front door. Casey
moves closer to Pete.
I warned you.
                       MARY ANN (O.S.)
Don't start on him, Casey. I told
you he didn't do anything wrong.
      (not taking his
       eyes off Pete)
You stay out of this, Mary Ann.
      (lower to Pete)
You were supposed to keep away
from people who might know you.


I thought I was, Casey. I picked
the only spot I know of. It ain't
like there's a sign out in front
of these places that says who's
I still think the best thing for
you to do is to get on back out
to that graveyard and say your
goodbyes so you can get out of
here. And do it soon.
Pete glances again at Uncle Jimmy. He is leaning heavily
against the counter, supporting himself.
Like I said, Casey, I'll be gone
when I've done what I came here to
Don't get any squirrelly ideas.
Take a good hard look at him. Does
he look like he could handle
findin' out who you are? He's
barely able to stand up as it is.
You're askin' me to leave without
talkin' to my only livin'
I'm askin' you to consider
somebody besides yourself.
I'm beginnin' to think you're more
worried about yourself than you
are about him or me.
Get your hat and get out.
Pete hesitates for a moment, unsure of what to do, then puts
his hat on and walks toward the door. He can feel uncle
Jimmy's eyes follow him as he walks past the old man. Pete
fights the urge to stop and say something.

Jimmy watches him go then turns to Casey.


                       UNCLE JIMMY
      (in a soft whisper)
Casey, do you know that man? He
looked an awful lot like Pete.
      (bowing his head)
He's just somebody passin'
through. I had a run in with him
last night and I thought he was
gone. Don't let it bother you
      (steadying the old
Let's get you back to your office.
      (over his shoulder)
Mary Ann, get him some water.
                       MARY ANN
You had no right to run him off,
Casey. He wasn't hurtin' nobody.
He's a vagrant. When I'm finished
here, I'm gonna make sure he's
Mary Ann grabs her purse and hurries out the door. Casey
watches through the window as she jumps into her car and
pulls out on the highway heading back toward Loudon. Casey
shakes his head. Things were starting to fall apart quicker
than he thought.
      (to himself)
Damn you Pete Simpson!
Debbie walks into the Sheriff's office with the two little
boys trailing behind her.
Betty Jo, this is Casey's lunch if
he wants it. I'm gonna put it in
his office.
                       BETTY JO
      (Without looking
Okay, I'll tell him.


Debbie walks down the hallway toward Casey's office with the
two little boys at her heels.

As Debbie disappears into the hallway, the front door opens
and Boss and Maggie walk in.
                       BETTY JO
May I help you?
I'm Boss Wallace, outta Hutchinson
County Texas. I come here to see
the Sheriff.
                       BETTY JO
I'm sorry, sir. Sheriff Goodman
ain't in right now. Is there
something I can do for you?
Boss and Maggie look at each other, both recognizing the
Maybe you can, I don't really
know. I got word that you have
one of my men locked up here in
your jail, and I've come to get
him out.
                       BETTY JO
When was he jailed?
It would have been yesterday.
                       BETTY JO
I'm sorry, sir, but nobody was
jailed yesterday.
Well, you'd better look on your
book there or something, 'cause
Sheriff Franks of Hutchinson
County told me just last night
that he got word from somebody
here that they had my foreman,
                       BETTY JO
Sir, I think you'd better wait for
Sheriff Goodman.
Boss moves closer and tries to look at the book.


Can you at least look him up in
your book there? His name is
Pete, Pete Simpson.
                       DEBBIE (O.S.)
Whose name is Pete Simpson?
Debbie is standing just inside the room, listening to them
      (Turns to Debbie)
My foreman, ma'am. I come all the
way from Texas to get him.
What did you say his name was?
It's Pete, ma'am. Pete Simpson. He
was raised up around here.
That can't be. That Pete Simpson
is dead.
Boss and Maggie echo the same shock and surprise.
      (Near tears)
Yes. He was killed in Vietnam. We
buried him a long time ago.
Ma'am, I don't know who you
buried, but the Pete Simpson
I'm talkin' about has lived on my
ranch in Texas for the last
thirty years.
But that can't be.
Debbie tries to steady herself. She walks slowly to a chair
and sits down. Her eyes reflect her bewilderment. They well
up with tears that seem to plead with Boss and Maggie to
stop saying these things.


Are we talkin' about the same Pete
Maggie walks quickly over to Debbie and takes a seat beside
her. She reaches out and takes Debbie's hands in hers.
Now, this is only a guess, but are
you Debbie?
Debbie's eyes searched Maggies's face for some sign of
Yes I am. Who are you?
My name is Maggie. I'm a friend of
Pete. Boss and I are here looking
for him.
But how? There has to be some
kind of mistake. We buried him.
How can he be with you? We can't
be talkin' about the same man. If
it is our Pete, why didn't he ever
call or write somebody? Anybody?
Why didn't he ever come home?
Anything besides lettin' us think
he was dead.
If we are talkin' about the same
Pete, I'm sure he didn't know
anything about what happened here,
He was very confused for long
time and was deeply torn about
where he should be.
He told you that?
Yes, he did.
As Debbie sits and sobs quietly, the two little boys have
moved closer to Boss.


      (Indicating Boss's
My friend has a hat like that.
Boss is trying to concentrate on what the two women are
saying and thinks the little boys are a distraction.
Is that so?
Yeah. He's a real cowboy. Are you
are real cowboy too mister?
      (Still not wanting
       to be bothered)
Yeah, yeah. I'm a cowboy.
My friend said he was from Texas.
Are you from Texas too, mister?
It takes a moment for what Charlie is saying to register
with the adults, but when it does, all three of them looked
at him.
What friend, sweetie?
My friend from this mornin'. He
had a hat and a horse named Ol'
Dollar? Are you sure?
Yep, I'm sure. And we ate with
him too. Didn't we David?
      (Nodding his head)
Yep. Doughnuts.
He was at the restaurant?


Yes Grandma, when you came and got
Debbie stares ahead with her mouth open, her eyes wide. She
had been that close to him and didn't know it. Maggie sees
the shock on her face.
      (Trying to calm
Just take it easy and catch your
      (After a moment)
Betty Jo, where's Casey?
Betty Jo has been leaning over the counter, trying to
follow the conversation. It surprises her when Debbie speaks
directly to her.
                       BETTY JO
I don't really know. He hasn't
checked in for over an hour.
Was there a man here last night?
                       BETTY JO
They stopped a man last night for
expired plates. Casey had Curt
bring him in, and then Casey took
him back yonder to the office. You
could hear 'em yellin' and
screamin' way out here. The man
left after about an hour. Casey
was pretty upset.
That sounds like Pete.
Where did he go?
                       BETTY JO
I don't know. Really I don't.
Casey had him followed and he got
a call this mornin' that the man
was down at JB's restaurant.


       remembering Mary
Mary Ann was there!
Mary Ann. My daughter. And
probably Pete's uncle Jimmy too.
      (Almost to herself)
Uncle Jimmy? Pete mentioned him.
Pete might not recognize him. He's
a lot different now than when Pete
Betty Jo, do you know where either
of them are right now? Has anybody
called in?
                       BETTY JO
Curt called in a little bit ago.
He said he saw that fella headin'
out toward the lake. That's the
last I've heard.
The graveyard!
      (Turning to Boss
       and Maggie)
Come on, you can ride with me, it
will save some time.
      (Then to the
       little ones)
Come on boys.
Debbie puts the boys into the car seats in the back of the
van. Boss opens the front door and starts to get just as
Maggie catches his eye. The look on her face tells him that
the two women should ride in front so they can talk. He
holds the door open for Maggie with a sheepish grin on his


Thanks, Boss.
Boss slips into one of the middle seats as Debbie finishes
with the boys.
How far?
      (Getting into the
Thirty minutes if we're lucky.
Debbie is deep in thought as she beings to drive toward the
grave yard. She is still nervous and feels the need to
Listen. I'm not really sure what
we are gonna run into when we get
there, so I guess I should tell
you all of it, since you may be
findin' out sooner than later.
What is it?
Pete is Mary Ann's father.
What? He didn't say anything
about that.
He don't know.
Damn. How much cow shit can a man
step in all in one day?
Boss! There are little kids in
the back of this van!


      (Beginning to
I'm sorry.
What's so funny?
      (Still laughing)
Nothin' really. I was just
thinkin' 'bout how he came back
here to pay his respects and
remember a good memory or two, but
instead everybody thinks he's dead
and now he's a daddy. I'm tellin'
you, the man ain't got any luck.
Maggie scowls at Boss.
      (Turning to Debbie)
Go on.
As Debbie starts to talk she starts crying again.
Granny Simpson didn't last much
more than a couple of months after
Pete left, and by then I knew I
was pregnant. I was gonna tell
Pete the first chance I got, but I
didn't get the chance. It wasn't
but a couple of days after Granny
died that we heard Pete was
killed. It's hard to really know
which happened first.
Maggie reaches over and lightly squeezes Debbie's arm.
They sent the casket home and said
there was no need to open it. They
said he was messed up so bad that
there wasn't anything in it we
would recognize. So, nobody opened
it, not at the viewin' and not at
the funeral. We had no reason to
doubt it, 'cause the Army said it.
Who would have thought the Army
was wrong about who they put in a


By now Maggie is crying too, and Boss is silently looking
out the window at the passing scenery so nobody will notice
his watery eyes.
If poor ol' Granny hadn't died
first, she would have died anyway
when she heard about Pete. As for
me, well, I was sort of like the
odd man out I guess. I was
pregnant and the father of my baby
was dead.
      (Trying to laugh)
Or at least at the time I thought
he was dead.
Debbie cries so hard she has to pull over to the side of the
road for a moment. None of t