Test

Screenplay
FADE IN:
EXT. FIELD – NIGHT

A dim light pole illuminates the legs of a young man as he slowly walks through wavy grass with a pistol in his shaky hand and thunder rumbles.

Eventually, his legs stop at the base of a large oak tree as rain begins to fall and lightning spiders across the sky.

A single GUN SHOT rings out, followed by a thud.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – PATIO/POOL

A well-attended upscale and catered pool party. Most attendees are in swimming-suits.

SUPER: 2005, Los Angeles.

MERRICK JENNINGS (21), sharply attractive, short black hair, sits poolside reading a script that lies open on his lap. A banner drapes off the French Normandy mansion which overlooks the pool.

Banner: Congrats to Cast & Crew of Train to Nowhere!

RICHARD JENNINGS (45), rugged, heavyset, brown hair, approaches Merrick from behind.

RICHARD

Merrick, this is supposed to be a party.

Richard eyes light up at the script.

RICHARD

Gory, isn’t it?

He roughs up Merrick’s hair, enters the pool, and swims off.

Out walks Vivian (40s), blonde hair, sunglasses, who stands next to Merrick.

VIVIAN

Richard, how’s the water!?

RICHARD

It’s great Vivian, get in here!

Vivian sits with Merrick, places an arm around him and places her feet in the pool.

VIVIAN

(nods at script)

Is that it?

MERRICK

(smirks)

He thinks it is.

VIVIAN

Oh. How far did you get with the other one?

MERRICK

Made it a few pages in. Back to this one. Always back to this one.

Merrick flips to the cover:

Without Noah

Written By: Cameron Knight

VIVIAN

Your father loved it – the other one.

MERRICK

(scoffs)

Of course, he did.

VIVIAN

Was it that bad?

MERRICK

(laughs)

The worst yet.

Vivian laughs and pats Merrick on the leg and enters the pool, joining Richard in the pool as Merrick puts the script away.

SAMANTHA PIERCE (20s), long brown hair, bright smile, sneaks her hands over Merrick’s eyes from behind.

SAMANTHA

(yells out)

Merrick Jennings is alive!

Merrick pulls them both into the pool as she screams, and everyone laughs.

RICHARD

(to Vivian)

Only Samantha can bring our gloomy little actor of the year to life.

VIVIAN

Richard shh! You’ll jinx him!

INT. MOVIE THEATER – NIGHT

The lights are down, as a movie plays and the house is packed with well-dressed PATRONS.

Merrick, Samantha, Richard, and Vivian sit together as an emotional score plays.

!ON SCREEN:

EXT. SNOWY FIELD – NIGHT

Steam rises from a stopped, hissing WWII train. Nazi soldiers search the grounds nearby.

Secluded in nearby thick brush lies a motionless Merrick, wearing a Nazi uniform, in Samantha’s arms as she sobs over him. His blood is smeared across the Jewish Star on her dress.

The musical score rises with her cries until yelling from soldiers jolts her out of it.

In a shivery, shaky panic she looks down at the dead Merrick. She struggles to remove his coat, wraps it around herself and arms herself with his gun.

The emotional score rises even higher as she sneaks away.

!BACK TO THEATER

Sniffling and watery eyes throughout the theater as Samantha snuggles up to Merrick, and whispering –

SAMANTHA

I could almost cry.

MERRICK

(whispering back)

Who are those two?

THEATER BATHROOM – LATER

Merrick splashes his face at a sink as men hurry in & out. As he starts drying his face, he slowly raises a hand to his stomach, then rushes into a stall.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE – NIGHT

Merrick lies across Vivian’s lap, with a wet rag on his forehead. Richard sits opposite smoking a cigar with the window cracked.

VIVIAN

(to Richard)

The movie was beautiful. It’s going to win a lot of awards.

RICHARD

Well… now it’s onto the next.

(to Merrick)

Ever finish the script?

MERRICK

(scoffs)

For some reason I lost interest after my character saws his own arm off.

A disgusted look from Vivian.

RICHARD

(smirks, shrugs)

It’s a horror flick.

MERRICK

I can see it now…

Merrick sits up, removing the rag.

MERRICK

(as if presenting an award)

The award for the bloodiest arm removal scene goes to…

VIVIAN

(finishes)

Merrick Jennings!

Richard frowns and sighs – aiming at Merrick.

RICHARD

How many times do I have to tell-

MERRICK

(interrupts)

-Here we go.

RICHARD

This one will have a good budget and it’s gonna have the shit promoted out of it. It’ll make money. I know it’s kind of goofy. When you get older and set – then you can do what you want, but right now-

MERRICK

(interrupts firmly)

No.

Vivian and Richard are thrown by his tone. After a bit of a stare-off, Richard sighs and adjusts his gaze out the window as he starts puffing on the cigar again.

RICHARD

Without Noah, then?

Merrick returns to Vivian’s lap, reapplying the rag.

MERRICK

(aloud)

Yeah, why not?

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – LIVING AREA – NIGHT

Richard nurses a drink at the kitchen bar dressed in a suit. Behind him lounges a lazy Merrick watching TV.

RICHARD

(turns to Merrick)

Merrick, why aren’t you dressed?

Merrick blank-stares him.

RICHARD

The press conference? Samantha will be here.

LATER

Merrick, now wearing a nice suit, watches TV as Samantha enters in a very glamorous dress. Richard approaches her.

RICHARD

(embraces her)

Samantha, you look amazing.

SAMANTHA

Afraid I over did it.

(glances at Merrick)

Glad you like it.

Merrick takes the hint, approaching and embracing Samantha as Vivian enters eyeing Samantha’s dress.

VIVIAN

Wow! Richard when, or should I say if we get married – I want a dress like this!

Samantha jokingly twirls around as they all laugh.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – NIGHT

Richard, Merrick, and Samantha are seated at a long table in front of a raucous press. The Train to Nowhere movie poster next to the table.

POSTER: A ghostly WWII train between Merrick and Samantha’s faces. Merrick in a Nazi uniform, Samantha in her dress emblazoned with the Jewish star.

LATER

The press conference has begun.

MALE REPORTER 1

Merrick, are you working on any new films yet?

Merrick goes to answer but is interrupted.

RICHARD

Uh, we’re not ready to announce anything – But when we are – I can assure you, you’ll be the first to know!

Faint agitated eye-roll from Merrick.

FEMALE REPORTER 1

Merrick, is it true you’re seeing the woman sitting next to you?

Samantha eyes Merrick, with a bright smile.

MERRICK

(after a sigh)

I’d like to keep my personal life – personal.

FEMALE REPORTER 1

Good luck with that!

Some laughter.

MALE REPORTER 2

Merrick, what do you think of your chances for a nomination? We’re starting to hear noise.

Merrick slowly leans into the microphone, as a grin slowly emerges.

MERRICK

Seems like just yesterday I was doing cereal commercials.

Richard, leaning into his microphone.

RICHARD

(big grin)

Who’d he learn modesty from!?

The room bursts into laughter as Merrick stands, signaling his exit.

MERRICK

(slight wave to press)

Thanks.

Richard and Samantha are thrown and belatedly follow Merrick’s exit as cameras flash.

BACKSTAGE – LATER

Merrick, arms folded, stands with Richard, who smokes. A nearby woman flashes a disgusted glance toward Richard. Noticing her disgust, he blows out an even bigger plume of smoke.

RICHARD

(chuckles)

Fuckin’ liberals think they own this town.

(turns to Merrick)

Would it have killed you to stay a little longer?

MERRICK

If I should die, just make sure they get good shots of it.

A scolding look from Richard as Samantha approaches. She kisses Merrick on the cheek and takes his arm.

SAMANTHA

(to Richard)

He really hates these.

MERRICK

Wow, everybody knows me.

Richard throws his cigarette down, stomps it out.

RICHARD

I’ll bring the car around.

Richard exits as Samantha pulls Merrick closer.

SAMANTHA

Hey, what’s going on with you?

MERRICK

(heavy sigh)

I’m exhausted, Sam. If it’s not the press at my throat, then it’s dad. I mean, five films in what – Three years? I barely know who I am anymore. I feel like Marty in Back to the Future

(raises his hand up)

his erasing hand?

SAMANTHA

Then take some time off!

MERRICK

It’s not that easy. I feel it too, it’s not just dad. The pressure. This all ending, and then what?

INT. JENNINGS’ HOUSE – RICHARD’S ROOM – NIGHT

Richard channel surfs in bed as Vivian sleeps. A voice outside the room catches his attention.

OUTSIDE THE ROOM

Richard opens the door and listens. The voice is from the room opposite his. Its’ door half open, with the light on.

MERRICK’S ROOM

Richard pushes the door open. Merrick mutters in his sleep, a bedside lamp on. He enters the room, sitting with Merrick.

MERRICK

(asleep)

No, no, no, no…

RICHARD

(lightly)

Merrick, wake up, you’re dreaming.

Merrick rolls over, quiets down, continues sleeping. Richard starts to turn off the lamp, but stops.

His attention is drawn to a tableside picture. A pretty woman in glamorous attire. Richard takes and nostalgically studies the photo.

FLASHBACK – EXT. HIGHLAND PARK – DAY

Turning leaves blow about the empty little park, except for two sitting on a lonely bench.

An entrance sign reads: Highland Park.

SUPER: 15 Years Ago

THE BENCH

Richard (30) with an expression of dread, watches Merrick (6) play with a red toy car.

RICHARD

Merrick, I need to talk to you about mom.

Merrick frowns, still playing with the car.

MERRICK

I never see mommy anymore. When is she coming home?

RICHARD

(heavy sigh)

That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

(stammering)

Looks like she’s left us.

Merrick stops playing, looks at Richard.

MERRICK

Where did she go?

Richard sighs.

RICHARD

I need you to be strong now, Merrick. I’m not sure where mom is. We’ll be okay, you and me, I promise.

Merrick looks away, his breathing increases and on the verge of tears.

MERRICK

(almost a whisper)

Mommy’s not coming back?

Richard with a heavy sigh.

RICHARD

No. I’m sorry.

Merrick begins to cry as Richard pulls him into a hug, sending the red toy car rolling off the bench. Richard holds sobbing Merrick in his arms.

RICHARD

Shh… Shh… I’ve got you.

(voice cracking)

And I’m not going anywhere.

END OF FLASHBACK
MERRICK’S ROOM

Richard returns the photo and turns off the lamp.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – PATIO – DAY

Merrick lies out in the California sun as Richard joins him with two bottles of water, giving Merrick one.

RICHARD

Didn’t sleep well?

Merrick groans as Richard sits.

RICHARD

You get that from your old man.

Richard takes a drink and clears his throat.

RICHARD

Anything you wanna talk about?

Merrick’s mouth opens, but words never form. Richard’s phone RINGS. Richard, awaiting Merrick’s response, does not answer the phone. The ringing is loud and incessant.

MERRICK

Answer it.

Richard stands up and takes the call.

RICHARD

(into the phone)

Yeah? What’s up, Gary? Yeah, Merrick’s decided to do it. The gay one. Without…. Uh…. Whatever the damn thing’s called. Okay. This film had better have money behind it. All right.

Richard ends the call, turning to Merrick.

RICHARD

Okay. You’re on for Without…

(searching)

Uhm…

MERRICK

(finishes)

Noah.

EXT. BEACH PARTY – NIGHT

A glamorous Hollywood party as Richard works the partygoers, and Merrick, in a tuxedo, lingers along the outskirts of the party avoiding people.

LATER

Merrick rests against a log fence which backs up to the parking lot.

The sound of a noisy car pulling in catches his attention as he turns with an amused look on his face, to watch CAMERON KNIGHT (mid 20s) park and exit the car.

Merrick intently studies the under-dressed young man as he makes his way into the party.

ALONG THE BEACH – LATER

Cameron, dirty blond, ridiculously cute, watches the ocean sipping on a coke. Merrick appears next to him, as Cameron turns.

CAMERON

(in southern accent)

Merrick?

Merrick turns, with an unsure smile.

CAMERON

Oh hey, man. I’m Cameron.

(extends his hand)

Cameron Knight.

Merrick is thrown as they they shake hands.

CAMERON

(laughs)

Not what you were expecting?

MERRICK

(sheepishly)

Was it that obvious?

CAMERON

I’ll let it slide. My agent insisted I come, but as you can see…

(gestures to his clothes)

Don’t really fit in.

Merrick, eyeing his own outfit-

MERRICK

Come to think of it, why’d I have to wear this?

CAMERON

Still hard for me to grasp that this is happening – all of it. Guess I should thank you.

MERRICK

Without Noah was amazing. Never read a script like it.

CAMERON

(hand over chest)

Awe. Thanks. It was a labor of love.

MERRICK

(big sigh)

We were down to your script and another one called The Undertaker, where the lead saws his own arm off.

CAMERON

(laughing)

Oscar down the drain.

MERRICK

Right? My father loved it.

CAMERON

He’s your agent and manager, right?

MERRICK

More like The Undertaker.

Cameron laughs as Samantha approaches, draping herself on Merrick.

SAMANTHA

(to Merrick)

You’ve been ignoring everybody all night.

SAMANTHA

(turns to Cameron)

Except this guy. Are you on one of the crews?

CAMERON

Ahh… Absolutely.

MERRICK

(to Samantha)

How many drinks have you had?

SAMANTHA

(throws her arms up)

It’s a party!

As Merrick watches Samantha hurry off after another party-goer, he notices a dark silhouette watching him at a distance along the beach. Richard’s lit cigarette butt creates a tiny orange and red glow within the darkness.

The wind picks up, causing Merrick to shiver as he extends his hand.

MERRICK

I’d better get her out of here, but hey, congratulations on the film. Can’t wait to get started.

Rather than shake Merrick’s hand, he holds it and doesn’t let go.

CAMERON

Already? You’re leaving?

Cameron puts his phone in Merrick’s hand.

CAMERON

Can I get your number? If that’s okay?

Merrick glances toward Richard’s silhouette.

MERRICK

(back to Cameron)

Um, sure.

The two get closer as they two exchange numbers. Close enough their hair intermingles in the wind. They finish, handing their phones back.

CAMERON

Good. Hopefully, we can get together sometime.

Merrick, hands in pockets, shivering.

MERRICK

I’d like that.

CAMERON

Goodnight, Merrick.

MERRICK

Night.

BEACH PARKING LOT – LATER

The Jennings’ Limousine exits the party.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE – SAME TIME

Samantha lies across Merrick’s lap as Merrick grins at his newest contact in his phone – “The Crew”.

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – MERRICK’S ROOM – NIGHT

Merrick watches TV in bed, when his phone on the bedside table lights up, and he checks it.

THE CREW (TEXT)

This better be your actual number!

MERRICK (TEXT)

Oh, hey Crew lol – This is me.

THE CREW (TEXT)

Whew! Hey I have a question?

MERRICK (TEXT)

Yeah?

THE CREW (TEXT)

I’d give my right arm to read that script you mentioned.

Merrick laughs.

MERRICK

I’ll get it out of the trash!

THE CREW

Don’t want to keep you up. I enjoyed meeting you tonight.

MERRICK

Same here. Goodnight.

THE CREW

Goodnight!

Merrick puts the phone away and turns out the lamp.

RICHARD’S ROOM – SAME TIME

Vivian and Richard sleep in bed.

Out their window and up into the night sky.

!DREAM SEQUENCE

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

From darkness to foggy flashes of:

A BOY (7) wearing pajamas in bed, eats at an ice cream cone. A faceless man next to him.

The man’s hand rests on the boy’s leg. He caresses. The boy tenses up, eyes on the man’s hand.

END DREAM SEQUENCE

EXT. BUCK AND KERRI’S – DAY

A nice car pulls up to a large house in a wooded area. Merrick, Richard, and Vivian exit the car with dishes of food as BUCK and KERRI JENNINGS (60s) come out to greet them. Buck gives Merrick a hefty pat on the back.

BUCK

How the hell you been, mister big movie star!?

MERRICK

Hey Grandpa, okay, I guess. How you been?

BUCK

Oh, kiddo, I’m doing okay. Hopefully, I don’t break the ole’ glucose meter today!

(laughs)

No promises!

EXT. BUCK AND KERRI’S – BACKYARD – DAY

Merrick, Richard, Vivian, Buck, and Kerri eat lunch at a large wooden table. An assortment of home-cooked foods scattered about.

BUCK

(to Richard)

Now why haven’t you married this pretty little gal yet?

Buck motions to Vivian, who forces a grin. Kerri slaps Buck on the arm.

KERRI

Leave them alone!

BUCK

What? Someone’s gotta push em. Now Merrick, we watched the movie…

(to Kerri)

What was it?

KERRI

(to Merrick)

The train one.

BUCK

Train to Nowhere! We watched it with Dennis.

MERRICK

Did you like it?

BUCK

Yeah it was intense! We were worried about you and those trains! Afraid you was gonna get squished!

MERRICK

(laughs)

No, I never got squished.

KERRI

(to Merrick)

It was really good. Hard to watch the ending.

RICHARD

(to Buck)

We’re hearing some talk about Merrick getting a nomination.

BUCK

(stops eating)

Really? That’s a huge deal right there. At 21?

RICHARD

Yeah.

BUCK

Just like Allison.

RICHARD

(beat)

Yeah.

BUCK

(to Merrick)

I guess we know where he got all that acting ability from!

Forced smiles.

INT. CAMERON’S APARTMENT – LIVING AREA – NIGHT

Merrick and Cameron on a couch, a football game on TV. The apartment is modest.

MERRICK

Which team you like?

CAMERON

Oklahoma. Watching them play makes me a little less homesick. I’m flying back soon.

MERRICK

How’d you get out here?

Cameron groans.

CAMERON

That’s… a long story. Might make a good movie someday.

MERRICK

Is it all you thought it would be?

CAMERON

It was a lot tougher than I ever imagined… But I’m… I’m getting there.

MERRICK

Without Noah… Never read anything like it.

Cameron affectionately touches Merrick on the arm.

CAMERON

Awe, who knew you’d be so sweet? And thank you. It was torture getting it written, or more importantly, finishing it!

MERRICK

What drove you to write it?

The doorbell rings.

CAMERON

The pizza.

Cameron gets up, goes to the door.

EATING AREA – LATER

Cameron and Merrick sit across from each other at a small table, with a pizza box, empty plates, and bottles of soda between them. A corkboard with photos is on the wall above them.

MERRICK

Seems like all I do is work.

Merrick peels at the wrapper around his soda.

CAMERON

You’ve been in so many films. I’m not saying I’ve seen them all… but I have.

MERRICK

My first stalker.

CAMERON

Have you ever wanted to just be a kid?

MERRICK

It’s become an obsession for me and dad.

CAMERON

What about your mother?

Merrick’s mouth opens, he searches for words. Cameron flashes an understanding smile, placing a gentle hand on top of Merrick’s.

CAMERON

(waves)

Forget it… I’ll stop being nosey.

MERRICK

(light smile & sigh)

Might make a good movie someday.

Cameron stretches out his legs and leans back. Merrick still peeling at his bottle –

MERRICK

(clears throat)

Are you gay?

CAMERON

Absolutely.

Cameron starts to laugh.

MERRICK

You’re laughing?

CAMERON

Came out to my parents in a letter. Hadn’t thought about it in years.

MERRICK

(laughs)

Seriously?

CAMERON

Guilty.

Cameron clears away the plates and pizza box as Merrick grabs a photo of a woman on a farm off the corkboard.

MERRICK

Who’s this?

CAMERON

That’s my mother, and I’m going to warn you right now – she’s going to force you to come down with me.

MERRICK

The Undertaker would have me shot.

Cameron sits back down as Merrick grabs a different picture which features Cameron posing with a group.

CAMERON

Now who’s being nosy?

MERRICK

It’s your punishment.

CAMERON

Fair enough.

Cameron’s mood shifts as he takes the photo.

CAMERON

Oh. This picture was taken with a group. Rehab. Some stuff I had to deal with at home. Then moving out here. It was a lot tougher than I ever imagined, Merrick. I came out of rehab determined to get my shit together, finish Without Noah, and get it made.

MERRICK

Wow – and here we are.

CAMERON

I know! Once it won that competition, it was off to the races. Agents, producers all calling me. Thought they had the wrong number!

MERRICK

I’m excited to get started. Now my father is not so hot about it.

CAMERON

Why?

MERRICK

(sighs)

He’d rather I saw my arm off than play a gay guy.

DOORWAY – LATER

Cameron stands with Merrick in the doorway.

CAMERON

Merrick, this was fun.

Warm touch on Merrick’s arm.

MERRICK

It was.

Cameron hugs Merrick.

CAMERON

I think we’re going to make a special film together.

Cameron’s eyes are wet after the hug.

CAMERON

Sorry! It’s been quite the journey.

(wipes eyes)

And emotional!

Merrick offers a warm smile.

MERRICK

I’d better get back to the Undertaker before he reports a missing person.

CAMERON

With only one arm.

They laugh.

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – LIVING AREA – DAY

Vivian and Richard sit on the couch watching TV.

ON TV: Various shots of Merrick, often with Richard as camera’s flash and fans scream.

TV VOICE

Is America about to have one of its youngest Actor of The Year nominees? Buzz is growing for Merrick Jennings, son of mysterious actress Allison Jennings. His new hit film, Train to Nowhere, dazzled both audiences and critics alike.

Vivian mutes the TV, ready to burst.

VIVIAN

Oh my God Richard, Can you imagine?

RICHARD

(grins)

It’s all I’ve ever done.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – BACKYARD/PATIO – DAY

Richard and MARTIN (50) sit out on the patio. In front of them are Cameron and Merrick who chat by the pool.

MARTIN

We’re having a hell of a time finding James for the film.

RICHARD

I was worried about this.

MARTIN

Don’t worry! We’ll find him.

Martin studies Merrick and Cameron, as Richard follows his lead. Cameron and Merrick are physically affectionate with each other as the two talk and laugh.

Richard’s face tenses.

MARTIN

What about Cameron?

RICHARD

(angrily to Martin)

As James?

MARTIN

(thrown)

What?

RICHARD

He can’t act, and the age difference…?

MARTIN

It’s never stopped us before. We could figure it out. As far as acting – Merrick could help him along. Anyway, just a thought.

RICHARD

(sigh)

That’s up to you and Merrick. In fact this whole thing is.

Richard storms into the house leaving Martin sitting there as Merrick notices.

EXT. THE HENRY’S – DRIVEWAY – DAY

In a middle-class neighborhood driveway, Merrick in shorts and a t-shirt plays basketball with ALEX HENRY (20s), a tall black kid with a bright, infectious smile and laugh. Their style of play is more about fun as Alex tries to trip Merrick, they travel and generally goof around.

THE PORCH – LATER

They sit on the steps as Alex’s mother, CHRISTINA HENRY (40s) arrives home wearing scrubs.

CHRISTINA

Merrick, is that you!?

She approaches them on the steps.

MERRICK

I think so, but it’s been confusing since I got back from the war.

She and Merrick embrace.

ALEX

(to his mom)

How come I don’t get no hug?

She rolls her eyes.

CHRISTINA

If you get in there and cook dinner, I’ll give you all the hugs you want.

ALEX

Give me twenty and I’ll go get McDonald’s. That’s my cookin, and I don’t need no hug either.

CHRISTINA

Alex, you need to shut-up.

(to Merrick)

How you been hon?

MERRICK

Good. Tired. Things have been getting crazier.

CHRISTINA

Oh, I bet…

ALEX

Yeah, it must be a real burden having all those millions and gorgeous women throw themselves at you. I weep for you every night. I soak my pillow in tears.

They all laugh.

LATER

Alex and Merrick continue on the front steps.

ALEX

So… for real man, you gotta kiss this guy?

MERRICK

Yes.

ALEX

Damn man, you committed, I’ll give you that. As long as you don’t like it, I guess you’re okay. Otherwise, we’re fixing to have a long-ass and awkward conversation.

They laugh as Merrick stands up to leave.

MERRICK

I’d better get on back, man.

ALEX

Yeah, you don’t wanna stay too long out here slumming it in the burbs’ before some fool recognizes you and causes a scene.

(laughing)

Like that one time.

MERRICK

What’d she yell?

ALEX

(girly voice)

Meeeeerrick, I love you! It was like she sent out a signal directly to every girl’s vagina up in the neighborhood, and they all came runnin’!

INT. MEETING ROOM – NIGHT

Cameron and Merrick sit on a small stage, leaning against a podium, holding pages in front of the 6-member Without Noah team, along with Martin. Richard sits toward the back of the room.

Martin stands.

MARTIN

(to the team)

Merrick is reading for the part of Noah, and Cameron is reading for James.

MARTIN

(turning to Cameron and Merrick)

I know the podium is a poor excuse, but just use your imagination.

(chuckles)

It’s a large tree.

(sitting down)

Ready when you are.

Merrick begins reading his lines.

MERRICK

Nobody can find out.

CAMERON

They won’t.

Cameron never looks at the pages.

MERRICK

(reads from the page)

What if they do?

CAMERON

Does it matter?

MERRICK

I’m not out. You are. I don’t want people to know. I’m still not certain I’m…

Cameron turns, gently places a hand on Merrick’s cheek.

CAMERON

This is all that should matter.

Deep into each other’s eyes, they stare.

Richard exits.

They break from the scene, the team exchanging approving looks.

Martin stands, approaches the stage.

MARTIN

Wow, guys. I really felt that.

Martin turns to the team.

MARTIN

As far I’m concerned,

(points to Cameron)

that’s James.

Martin high fives a team member, Merrick looks for Richard.

EXT. ROAD – NIGHT

Richard’s feet pound the pavement, jogging.

Eyes intense, sweat drips as he winds down roads.

EXT. JENNINGS’S ESTATE – BACK YARD – LATER

Richard approaches Merrick, who’s getting out of the pool and reaching for a towel on a pool-side table, with chairs surrounding it.

RICHARD

(out of breath)

Cameron took the role.

They sit at the poolside table, as Richard catches his breath and Merrick dries off with the towel.

MERRICK

(looks at his phone)

Yeah, he text me. Pretty excited.

Richard studies Merrick as he fiddles with his phone.

RICHARD

Merrick. One last time, are you sure about this film?

Merrick lays the phone down.

MERRICK

Why do you hate it so much?

RICHARD

You’re playing a gay guy, Merrick.

Merrick turns toward the pool.

RICHARD

This role could get you typecast. One false move and it all comes crashing down. I’ve seen it.

Merrick turns back toward Richard.

MERRICK

Not like I can’t do something else.

Richard squints, tilts his head.

RICHARD

This film is that important to you?

Merrick stares at Richard for a moment, then shrugs.

RICHARD

(stands up)

Anyway. I scheduled you some interviews this weekend. They were hounding me. I know you hate them, but you should promote this damn thing, so don’t run off. I’m gonna shower.

Richard goes into the house.

MERRICK

(to himself)

Run off?

INT. AIRPLANE – DAY

Cameron and Merrick sit together as Merrick puts his phone away.

CAMERON

What did he say?

MERRICK

(satisfied)

Turned my phone off.

Cameron purses his lips.

PILOT (O.S.)

Ladies and gentlemen thanks for flying with us today. We may see a few storms along the way.

INT. RESTAURANT – DAY

Richard, in a huff joins Vivian at a table, with drinks before them.

VIVIAN

What’s wrong?

Richard takes a drink.

RICHARD

He’s flying off to God knows where with that Cameron.

VIVIAN

Good for him. I like Cameron. Glad he’s getting out of here. Maybe it’ll do him – and you – some good?

Richard takes a another drink, pulls at his collar.

RICHARD

He’s gotta promote the film. There’s a lot riding on every film he does.

VIVIAN

He can do it when he gets back.

RICHARD

He’s not going to want to do it then either.

A waiter brings them each a salad. Vivian starts picking at her salad whereas Richard drinks.

VIVIAN

He needs to grow up Richard. I know you want to protect him, but at some point…

RICHARD

(interrupts)

But – Now of all times? He’s got a shot right now. He could be set for life. One false move and this all comes crashing down. Believe me, I’ve seen it.

Vivian sighs, getting frustrated.

VIVIAN

I know you’ve seen it, Richard. But he’s not her. He’s not Allison.

RICHARD

Oh yes, he is. He’s exactly like her.

Vivian rolls her eyes.

VIVIAN

Okay fine, Richard. He’s exactly like her, so keep him locked up in that mansion forever.

EXT. KNIGHT HOUSE – DAY

Hot and windy.

A white two-story house on a large lot.

In a rental car, Cameron and Merrick drive up.

Next door is a smaller house with a porch and swing.

EXT. LYNCH HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

From the porch MATTHEW LYNCH (20s) watches Cameron and Merrick exit the rental car.

MATTHEW

(to himself)

Sonofabitch.

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Cameron leads Merrick into the house.

CAMERON

Mom! Dad!?

WOMAN (O.S.)

In the kitchen!

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS

They enter the kitchen to see Cameron’s mother, ANNIE KNIGHT (40s) struggling with a large slab of beef brisket. They hug.

ANNIE

Oh my God!

Annie is so happy to see Cameron, she’s in tears. She wraps him in a big hug.

ANNIE

(turns to Merrick)

Well, aren’t you just precious?! Merrick, I presume – I’m Annie.

She hugs Merrick.

MERRICK

Thanks for the invite.

CAMERON

More like demand.

Annie moves to the kitchen counter with a pan in front of her.

ANNIE

Well why don’t one of you help me with this darn brisket?

KITCHEN – LATER

Cameron pushes the foil-covered brisket into the oven as DAVID KNIGHT (50s) enters the kitchen. He’s a fairly big fella with short brown hair, glasses and an “OU” hat.

DAVID

(to Cameron)

God, look at you. It’s been too long dammit. Come here.

They hug until David turns his attention to Merrick.

DAVID

Hey, Merrick, right? Nice to meet ya. Ever been here before?

They shake hands.

MERRICK

No. Seems nice, but – only been here thirty minutes.

DAVID

(laughing)

Thirty minutes is all you really need.

DAVID

In your last movie, you were really good. We really thought you were dying!

MERRICK

Always been good at playing dead.

Everyone laughs as David turns his attention to Annie.

DAVID

Did you get that thing in there?

ANNIE

We got it in there. We’re gonna need a crane next time.

The doorbell rings and the Knight’s tense up.

DAVID

I’ll get it.

LATER

David enters the room as Matthew follows behind.

MATTHEW

Cameron, wow. Been what? Six years?

CAMERON

Hey. Has it been? Haven’t been counting.

ANNIE

Sorry, uh Merrick, this is Matthew. Lives next door.

MATTHEW

Oh! Hey man. Hard to recognize him when he’s not in a Nazi uniform.

Forced laughs.

EXT. MALL – DAY

The sun shines brightly and the parking lot is packed.

INT. MALL – FOOD CONCOURSE – SAME

Richard sits at a table, working on a cone of ice cream. With each lick, a Zales bag swings from his wrist.

EXT. KNIGHT HOUSE – BACKYARD – DAY

The unfenced backyard is upon multiple acres.

David is showing Merrick around a red barn.

Cameron and Matthew argue near the house.

The argument catches Merrick’s attention.

DAVID

(notices)

Those two got a lot of shit to get through. If they ever do.

MERRICK

Who is he?

DAVID

Cameron’s best friend. Not anymore, I guess. Used to be. Cameron ain’t been back since.

MERRICK

Since?

DAVID

That God awful stuff with Noah.

Merrick’s eyes widen, jaw drops.

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – BASEMENT – DAY

Down steps walk Cameron and Merrick, luggage follows.

Small windows, washer/dryer, TV, bed, and punching bag.

They drop the luggage near the bed.

CAMERON

Here it is – in all its glory.

Merrick throws himself on the bed.

MERRICK

Comfy enough.

(nods at the punching bag)

Have a go at it – pretend it’s Matthew?

Cameron sits at the foot of the bed, looks ahead.

CAMERON

(sigh)

You must have a million questions.

Merrick joins Cameron, sitting beside him.

MERRICK

I’ve been accused of being nosy, and I’m trying to work on that, but you’re really pushing it.

Merrick leans into Cameron, almost bumping him off the bed.

CAMERON

(laughing)

You’re the one who’s pushing it – literally.

MERRICK

Been here less than an hour and almost had to break-up a fight.

CAMERON

(cheesy grin)

Welcome!

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – DINNING ROOM – NIGHT

Merrick, Cameron, David, and Annie have dinner.

MERRICK

I’ve always loved acting. Even when I was a kid. But it’s been getting more stressful. Paparazzi sneaking up on me. No privacy.

DAVID

I’d run over a photographer.

(grins)

Drag em’ for miles.

MERRICK

I’ve been asked at least a thousand times – who are you seeing? Who are you seeing? I wish they’d get a life.

CAMERON

Good thing nobody cares about us writers.

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – KITCHEN – NIGHT

Cameron and Annie load a dishwasher.

Through a small window, Merrick, and David talk outside.

ANNIE

(watches Merrick)

He’s very sweet. Almost innocent.

(beat)

You don’t think he’s…?

CAMERON

Not sure. I know his father did not want him to do the film.

ANNIE

He sounds like an ass.

CAMERON

I met him once or twice. He was very cold. Our scene, oh my God, it was surreal. It was hard for me to get through, but we did.

ANNIE

They gave you the part, so…

CAMERON

Everyone thought it worked. But his father – He couldn’t get out of that room fast enough.

Annie laughs.

ANNIE

It’s just acting!

ANNIE

Does Merrick know about…

Annie nods her head.

CAMERON

(sighs)

I don’t know how to start that conversation.

ANNIE

You gotta tell him, hon’. He needs to know. Probably just a matter of time before Laura rears her head.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE – DAY

Richard sits alone in the back of the limousine. Through the window we can see the Jennings’ grand front door.

From his seat Richard repeatedly opens the arm rest storage console. With each movement he opens the arm rest and pulls out a black velvet ring box and offers it to an imaginary person sitting opposite him. He wipes sweat from his forehead as he repeats this offer.

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – DINING AREA – MORNING

David, Annie, and Cameron sit at a table eating and drinking, as a small TV has sports news playing on it. Merrick joins them.

MERRICK

(sits down)

Sorry, I woke up late.

Cameron joins Merrick.

CAMERON

(to Merrick)

Hey.

Annie pours Merrick orange juice.

MERRICK

Thanks.

David tosses 3 Football tickets in front of Merrick.

DAVID

(excited)

How’d you like to see your first Oklahoma football game?

EXT. FOOTBALL STADIUM – DAY

David, Cameron and Merrick stand at their seats. The place is packed. One side of the stadium yells “Boomer”, whilst the other side responds with “Sooner”.

CAMERON

(to Merrick)

Red is Oklahoma, the ugly orange is Oklahoma State.

Cameron points them out.

DAVID

(yells)

Oklahoma State sucks!

He startles Merrick, but people around him cheer and clap.

LATER

Oklahoma prepares to kick the ball off. David and Cameron join the fans.

FANS

(in unison)

Ooooooooooo..

The foot of a kicker meets the ball to kick the game off.

FANS

(in unison)

Yooooooooou!

INT. FOOTBALL STADIUM – CONCOURSE – LATER

Merrick stands outside the men’s room holding popcorn.

He looks back and forth as people pass.

Nobody is recognizing him. He grins.

He pops a kernel in his mouth.

He pops another kernel in his mouth. Uh-Oh.

He popped too hard.

Eyes bulging, hands to this throat-

MERRICK

CAAAAACK! CAAAAACK!

His bird-like noises loudly echo throughout the concourse.

People turn and stare as he takes off running-

MERRICK

CAAAAACK! CAAAAACK!

Merrick stops at a water fountain but horrifyingly, there’s a line.

MERRICK

CAAAAACK!  CAAAAACK!

A man standing in line offers mercy.

MAN IN LINE

Let him in there fellas, he’s chokin’ on something!

They let him to the fountain as he desperately begins  drinking.

ANOTHER MAN IN LINE

Merrick Jennings?

Merrick throws his head back-

MERRICK

Gugugugugugu.. Gugugugugugu..

He gargles water loudly as the crowd grows.

Success. The kernel has been cleared.

He stands there, catching his breath.

He turns away from the fountain.

A crowd, including David and Cameron, stare at him.

DAVID

(to Merrick)

Get something caught in yer’ gizzard?

EXT. FOOTBALL STADIUM – DAY

The fans stand in nervous anticipation.

DAVID

If we don’t score here, it’s over.

MERRICK

(to Cameron)

I’m actually nervous!

The Oklahoma QB fires a pass down the middle into the hands of his barely open receiver for a touchdown pass as Oklahoma wins.

Merrick, Cameron and David are going nuts along with the entire stadium. The Oklahoma State fans are dejected.

CAMERON’S ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Cameron’s in bed with pen and paper, staring off into the distance as Merrick enters the room.

MERRICK

Hey.

CAMERON

Trying to write, but – nothing.

Merrick lies next to Cameron, on his back, staring up at the ceiling.

CAMERON

Any ideas?

MERRICK

Anything but horror.

CAMERON

(laughs)

Did you enjoy the game?

MERRICK

Throat’s still sore.

CAMERON

Awe. Hey, I had an idea. What if we drove back instead of flying?

MERRICK

(eyes closed, sleepy)

My uncle runs a Casino out in Vegas. Could gamble away a small fortune.

CAMERON

Now that’s an idea. Been to Vegas once but just drove through it. What does your uncle…

Cameron sees Merrick is asleep. Cameron puts the pen and paper away, curling up next to and staring at Merrick as he sleeps. Cameron closes his eyes.

DREAM SEQUENCE

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Foggy flashes of the young boy, wearing pajamas in bed with the faceless man who reads him a book.

The faceless man caresses the boy’s hair. The boy’s eyes dart back and forth, getting nervous.

END DREAM SEQUENCE

EXT. FIELD – DAY

Cameron leans up against the large oak tree, his eyes on  growing storm clouds in the distance.

MERRICK (O.S.)

This is the tree, isnt it?

CAMERON

Yes.

Merrick comes out from behind the tree, standing next to Cameron.

MERRICK

Noah?

CAMERON

Yes.

Merrick sighs.

MERRICK

Cameron, I’m sorry.

Cameron steps away from the tree, as Merrick follows. Cameron nods to the base of the tree.

CAMERON

That’s where we found him.

FLASHBACK – EXT. FIELD – DAY

Grass sways in the wind as the legs of LAURA LYNCH (45) and Matthew (18) walk through with Cameron (18) following.

SUPER: Seven years ago

LAURA

Noah! Where you at, boy!?

MATTHEW

Noah!?

As they near the large oak tree, Laura spots something.

LAURA

No, no, no!

All three race to the base of the tree to see NOAH (17) dead with the pistol on the ground next to him. Laura falls to the ground, crying out hysterically.

LAURA

My Boy, no! My boy, why!? My precious baby boy!

Matthew’s shaky hand touches Noah.

MATTHEW

(choking back tears)

He’s so cold.

Cameron, watching from behind, has his hands over his mouth and begins slowly backing away.

LAURA

My boy is dead!

Laura takes Noah’s lifeless body into her arms, trying in vain to bring him back to life by slapping his face repeatedly. Giving up, she turns to Cameron.

LAURA

What’d you do to my boy!?

Cameron covers his ears and runs away. He runs away as hard as he can until stumbling to the ground sobbing.

END OF FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
EXT. FIELD – DAY

Cameron’s now teary eyes rest upon the base of the tree.

CAMERON

It was here Noah and I first kissed.

(crying)

And it was here that he killed himself.

Merrick wraps Cameron up in a consoling hug. Cameron responds by wrapping his arms equally around Merrick.

Cameron’s eyes still flooded with tears as they separate, Merrick still holding Cameron’s hand.

CAMERON

Afterward, his family blamed me. I blamed me. So, I left.

MERRICK

Do they know about the film?

CAMERON

(turns to Merrick)

How do I tell them? How do I tell her?

MERRICK

We’ll figure it out.

Thunder rumbles off in the distance, drawing their attention.

CAMERON

Storm’s coming.

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – BASEMENT – LATER

Merrick, Cameron, Annie and David huddle around the small TV as a meteorologist points to bright colors on radar. “Tornado Warning”, in big red letters flashes across the screen.

ANNIE

Somebody tell these tornadoes it’s November!

DAVID

Shouldn’t Laura be down here?

Annie turns to Cameron, pursing her lips.

CAMERON

(off her look)

I’ll go upstairs and let the Tornado take me.

ANNIE

They have no shelter, Cam.

THE BASEMENT – LATER

Tornado sirens wail.

David enters the basement with Matthew and Laura (53). Matthew heads over to the punching bag.

Merrick studies Laura, who has long barely brushed hair, dark rings under her eyes and no makeup as she approaches the TV along with David.

LAURA

Is the storm gonna hit us?

Through the small basement window, the wind and rain start.

DAVID

Gonna be a close call. Just a warning. Nobody spotted anything.

Laura turns to see Merrick, then back to the TV.

LAURA

(pointing at Merrick)

Who’s that?

ANNIE

That’s Merrick.

LAURA

Oh, the actor.

Merrick offers a smile, but gets no response. He turns away, and in doing so, is horrified to notice the “Without Noah” script sitting on the bed. He approaches the bed, and tries to quietly grab the script.

LAURA ( O.S.)

(to Merrick)

Noah?

All eyes on Laura as she walks toward Merrick. Laura takes the screenplay, studying the cover and approaching Cameron

LAURA

Why is my boys name on this?

Cameron looks down like a boy being scolded.

LAURA

(long beat)

It’s not enough you took Noah from us and disappeared, but now you’re gonna tell the whole world what a shitty mother I am?

MATTHEW

Mom.

ANNIE

(to Laura)

Cameron didn’t take Noah from you.

Her eyes watering, Fury flashes across Laura’s face.

LAURA

(to Cameron)

Here.

She presses the script into Cameron’s chest as it falls to the floor. She turns and approaches the foot of the stairs.

LAURA

(looks back at everyone)

I’ll take my chances with the storm. Matthew stay your ass down here.

She ascends the stairs as Matthew follows, ignoring her command. Merrick goes to Cameron, kneeling down…

MERRICK

(from the floor up at Cameron)

The way some people react to these things, huh?

Cameron, sighs and quietly exits the basement.

ANNIE

(yelling)

Nobody cares about the tornado warning!?

EXT. THE KNIGHT FARM – LATER

Some debris are scattered about as David, Merrick and Annie try to clean it up. They hold brooms, with a large trash can nearby.

Merrick, after a few brooms – stops.

He storms into the house.

THE BASEMENT – CONTINUOUS

Merrick grabs the script, Without Noah from the bed.

OUTSIDE KNIGHT HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Merrick walks with the script in hand.

LYNCH HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

After Merrick rings the doorbell, Laura answers, annoyed.

Merrick offers her the script.

The two standoff for a moment, Merrick stands firm.

She takes it and closes the door.

INT. LYNCH HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

She sits in a nearby chair.

Looks down at the cover of the worn script.

She runs an emotional finger across the letters N-O-A-H.

Tears build in her eyes as she turns the first page.

INT. THE KNIGHT’S – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

The house is dark and quiet. Cameron sits on a couch, his legs stretched across an ottoman, staring out a nearby window in thought.

Merrick enters the room, catching Cameron’s attention.

CAMERON

If you wanna pull out of the film after all of this, I will understand.

Merrick joins Cameron on the couch, wrapping his arms around him in a hug and resting his head upon Cameron’s chest. Cameron responds by putting an arm around Merrick.

MERRICK

Give her time. From what I read, you and her have been through hell.

Cameron sighs.

CAMERON

I’m not sure if the film was such a great idea. Maybe it’s not right? Was so focused on writing it never stopped to think…

MERRICK

I’m still in, if you are.

EXT. KNIGHT HOUSE – DAY

Cameron and his father are moving gifts and luggage into the car as they prepare to leave. Merrick stands before Annie.

ANNIE

Merrick you have our number so if you ever are in town let us know! The punching bag and bed have your name on em’.

They hug.

MERRICK

(to Annie)

Thanks for having me. It was fun. Except the tornado warning, now that was scary!

They share a laugh as Merrick moves on to David, offering his hand.

MERRICK

(to David)

The game was fun. Sort of.

They shake.

DAVID

Come visit us again, Merrick, hopefully you won’t get something caught in yer’ gizzard next time.

Laura quietly appears before Cameron with the script wrapped up in her arms. Confused, he immediately looks to Merrick.

Laura tenderly takes Cameron’s hand, much to his shock.

LAURA

I’m sorry Cameron.

(tears in her eyes)

Since Noah died, I lost a big piece of me. When you were here, every time I saw you, I thought of him. It hurt like hell. Then, when you left, you weren’t around to give shit to, or apologize to. Didn’t like you running off like that. But now I realize you were grieving as well. We all were. Still are. Anyway. It wasn’t your fault. That day we found him – please don’t hold that against me. That was the worst day of my life, and it always will be. You and I somehow have to move past this. That’s why you wrote this, isn’t it?

CAMERON

Yes.

LAURA

(looking at the script)

I can barely read these damn things, but you remembered how beautiful Noah was when he was alive, and that’s how I want him to be known. And maybe it’ll stop some other poor kid from doing the same thing? He always wanted to make movies, just like you. Since this is his only chance now, then by God –

She hands Cameron the script.

LAURA

Get on back there and get it made, and don’t you dare let it be years till’ we see you again.

Cameron, still in shock, leans down so Laura can hug him. Annie and David hug Cameron goodbye.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE – NIGHT

Richard and Vivian are dressed up and drinking Champaign. Vivian lies across Richard, as Richard’s arm rests on the center console.

INT. CASINO PRESIDENTIAL SUITE – NIGHT

Merrick and Cameron enter the suite along with a bellhop with their luggage. Cameron goes to a window, checking out its view.

CAMERON

Wow!

The room is lavishly decked out with multiple balcony views overlooking Vegas, a jacuzzi tub, multiple rooms, a kitchen and living area.

CAMERON

(eyeing the tub)

I’m gonna be like Julia Roberts.

VOICE (O.S.)

Knock, knock…

Merrick lights up at the sight of DENNIS JENNINGS (50s), who’s at the door.

MERRICK

Uncle Dennis!

Dennis, a tall and hefty man, enters holding a walkie talkie in his hand and squeeze-welcomes Merrick.

DENNIS

Went for the high rollers room, huh?!

Dennis notices Cameron.

DENNIS

Who’s this?

MERRICK

Cameron, this is Denis, my brain-dead uncle. Dennis, this is Cameron.

They shake hands.

DENNIS

Y’all working on the film, Richard’s all bent out of shape about?

Dennis laughs loudly and slaps Merrick on the shoulder.

INT. OPERA HOUSE – UPPER BALCONY – NIGHT

The “Phantom of the Opera” is performed.

The lights down, the music loud.

Light from the stage casts over Richard and Vivian.

The phantom on stage, his face hidden under a mask.

Richard clears his throat, sweat on his forehead.

Richard breathes heavily, looks away and closes his eyes.

EXT. BALCONY – NIGHT

A breathtaking view of Vegas as Cameron looks out over the strip. Merrick joins him at the railing.

MERRICK

Everything okay?

Cameron turns to Merrick.

CAMERON

Actually? For once I think I’m good.

(laughs)

Strange not having that feeling in my stomach anymore. Guess I should thank you for giving her the script?

MERRICK

I wanted her to at least read it.

CAMERON

Still can’t believe she said all of that. What happened really wrecked our lives.

(long pause)

Now I can move on.

MERRICK

Move on?

Cameron looks at Merrick, then moves in closer as if to whisper a secret.

CAMERON

Since Noah, it’s been hard for me to be with anyone. I was afraid, I guess. Like it might happen again? But now? I guess it’s time I open myself up to someone.

MERRICK

(beat)

Have anybody in mind?

Closer.

CAMERON

This one time I went to this snobby Hollywood party along the beach. My car made a scene. I was late, as usual. Under-dressed, as usual.

Closer.

CAMERON

I met this really sweet, cute and funny guy I couldn’t wait to see again. I even text him that night a stupid joke just so I could tell him goodnight.

Close enough their hair intermingles.

MERRICK

(studies his lips)

Sounds like a keeper.

CAMERON

(studies his lips)

Thing is, I’m not entirely sure how he feels about me.

Merrick leans in as they kiss.

Behind them, the Vegas lights sparkle.

As the kiss ends, they are breathless.

CAMERON

(whispers)

I’ve wanted to do that since the party.

They laugh a little.

MERRICK

Me too.

CAMERON

Really?

Sheepish grin from Merrick.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE

Richard sits next to Vivian as she beams.

VIVIAN

What a beautiful birthday present. Thank you, honey. I loved it. It was beautiful.

Richard clears his throat.

Vivian’s eyes on him with anticipation.

His hand nears the arm rest.

RINGING from his phone stops him in his tracks.

The RINGING is loud and incessant.

A dejected Vivian as he answers the phone.

RICHARD

(into the phone)

Yeah? This is him.

Richard listens.

His eyes widen, searching.

RICHARD

(into the phone)

What?

EXT. BALCONY – NIGHT

Merrick and Cameron look out over Vegas.

A firm knock at the door.

INSIDE THE SUITE

Merrick, with Cameron behind, opens the door to a serious and somber Dennis.

DENNIS

Can I come in?

MERRICK

What’s wrong?

Dennis enters and approaches the nearest chair.

DENNIS

Your dad called me. I guess he’s been trying to call you. You better sit down.

Dennis offers Merrick the chair.

MERRICK

No. What’s going on?

DENNIS

(beat)

Merrick, It’s your mother. They uh – well, they found her.

Merrick sits in the chair as Cameron kneels down and takes Merrick’s hand.

MERRICK

Found her? You mean she…

DENNIS

Yes, Merrick. I’m sorry. She’s gone.

CAMERON

My God.

MERRICK

(to Dennis)

We gotta get back.

DENNIS

Yeah.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – DRIVEWAY – DAY

Dennis and Merrick arrive in a car.

They exit the car, and approach the front steps.

Richard comes out, wrapping Merrick up in a hug.

RICHARD

Where the hell you been, you little shit?

With tears in his eyes, Merrick laughs.

MERRICK

What happened to her? Where was she? No, don’t tell me.

RICHARD

I’m sorry, Merrick. She’s out of pain. Finally.

Vivian approaches as her and Merrick embrace.

RICHARD

Hey, Dennis. Thanks for coming.

They enter the house.

EXT. FUNERAL – GRAVEYARD – DAY

An upscale, well attended service as a preacher speaks.

A black casket, next to it a portrait of Allison Jennings.

She was beautiful, even glamorous.

Richard, Vivian, Dennis, Buck, Kerry,

and Samantha sit with Merrick up front.

Merrick fiddles with something in his hand.

Cameron, Alex, and Christina, sit further back.

GRAVEYARD – LATER

Richard and Vivian walk with Merrick to her casket.

Merrick takes the red toy car in his hand, looks at it.

Tearfully he places it on top of her casket.

He steps back, joining Richard and Vivian.

As she’s lowered into the ground,

Merrick’s face alternates between tears and fury.

GRAVEYARD – LATER

Richard waits for Merrick at the limousine.

People offer Merrick condolences as he walks to the car.

Alex hugs Merrick, followed by Christina.

Merrick nears the car, as Cameron approaches.

RICHARD

(noticing)

Merrick, come on.

Cameron stops, Richard flips open the car door.

Merrick looks at Cameron, then back to Richard.

Merrick gets into the car.

INT. JENNINGS’ HOUSE – DAY

FRIENDS and FAMILY in their Sunday best.

Some snack and drink, while others somberly talk.

Merrick sits in a chair, Dennis and Buck behind.

Richard stands, looking out the back door.

BUCK

It’s awful what this town did to her.

(getting louder, looking at Merrick)

No man in his right mind would let their kid be an actor in this town.

Eyes on Richard, who turns to Buck.

RICHARD

What was that?

Buck defiantly stares at Richard.

BUCK

You heard me.

Richard approaches Buck, raising his fist.

Dennis gets in between them, holding Richard back.

DENNIS

Richard calm the F down. Dad, stop talking.

Buck turns, walks away.

RICHARD

(to Buck)

You think you were such a perfect father?! You have no idea!

The front door slams, drawing attention.

Merrick’s chair is empty.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – DRIVE WAY – SAME

Merrick walks toward the street.

STREET – SAME

Merrick walks, hands in his pockets.

EXT. HIGHLAND PARK – SAME

Merrick enters, making his toward the familiar bench.

Families play about.

THE BENCH

Merrick sits, watching them.

He takes a deep breath and takes out his phone.

He pulls up The Crew’s contact, stares.

The phone chimes.

THE CREW (TEXT)

Worried about you. If you need to talk, I’m here.

Merrick sighs heavily.

A GIRL (10), holding a small bag, sits next to Merrick.

She takes a cookie from the bag, places it on his leg.

Merrick breaks the cookie in half as they share it.

OUTSIDE THE PARK

A PAPARAZZI (40s), with a camera pointed at Merrick.

He clicks away.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Merrick and Samantha sit at an upscale place.

Upbeat music plays, the PATRONS are well dressed.

Merrick, mostly drinking. Samantha notices.

INT. SAMANTHA’S CONDO – BEDROOM – NIGHT

It’s dark. Not the cleanest place, but upscale.

Merrick and Samantha make out in the doorway.

Samantha backs him toward the bed.

She climbs in bed, as he crawls toward her.

Merrick takes off his shirt, breathing hard.

Samantha reaches for Merrick’s waist,

he places his hand on hers slowing her advance.

He shifts his focus up and away from her.

BEGIN FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
EXT. BEACH PARTY – NIGHT

Merrick’s hand to his mouth as Cameron enter the party.

EXT. BEACH PARTY – NIGHT

Cameron takes Merrick’s hand and won’t let go.

Richard watches.

EXT. SUITE BALCONY – NIGHT

Merrick and Cameron kiss.

END OF FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
BACK TO SAMANTHA’S ROOM

Samantha stares at Merrick, eyes squinting.

MERRICK

(almost a whisper)

I’m gay.

Samantha’s mouth agape, eyes wide.

Merrick falls backward off the bed,

grabs his shirt and runs out.

INT. CAMERON’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Cameron sits with Merrick, who’s slouched on the couch.

MERRICK

I told her.

CAMERON

Told her what?

MERRICK

(looks at Cameron)

You know.

CAMERON

Know what?

Merrick sits up, turns to Cameron.

MERRICK

I’m gay. There. I said it. I’ve tried everything in my life to never say it, but I just did.

Cameron sighs and smiles, hand on Merrick’s shoulder.

CAMERON

That’s twice tonight.

Merrick exhales,

MERRICK

I guess… that’s progress?

Cameron hugs Merrick.

CAMERON

I’m so glad you said it.

MERRICK

I wanted to tell you before but… This is so hard.

Cameron still with an arm around Merrick.

CAMERON

You did it, when you did it, Merrick. There isnt some perfect time.

MERRICK

I’m gonna stop at two for the night. Can’t handle another.

CAMERON

(grin)

Just write the rest a letter.

MERRICK

(laughing)

I’m starting to get your letter!

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – RICHARD’S ROOM – NIGHT

Richard tosses and turns as Vivian sleeps beside him.

RICHARD’S DREAM SEQUENCE

INT. SMALL ROOM – NIGHT

RICHARD (7), on the bed in pajamas –

eyes closed, breathing fast, wincing.

The faceless man behind him, thrusts.

Richard’s eyes open wide,

RICHARD

No! Ow! Stop!

The man hits Richard, as he cries out.

The man covers Richard’s mouth,

grunting loudly with every thrust.

Richard’s terrified eyes as his…

END RICHARD’S DREAM SEQUENCE

RICHARD’S ROOM

…muffled screams echo loudly.

He bolts up in bed almost hyperventilating.

Moving to the side of the bed,

light from a window reveals his eyes filled with tears.

His head in his hands, he sobs.

Vivian, awake, watches him.

EXT. CAMERON’S APARTMENT – DOORWAY – NIGHT

Cameron is in his apartment, holding the door open as Merrick stands readying to leave.

MERRICK

Sorry about the Funeral. I don’t know why I-

Cameron places his finger on his lips to silence him.

CAMERON

(interrupts)

Just forget it. I’ve been there.

Merrick looks down, then back to Cameron. He moves closer.

MERRICK

I couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Merrick leans in and they kiss.

Only this time the kiss turns into making out.

Out of breath, they force themselves apart.

CAMERON

Goodnight.

MERRICK

Bye.

Cameron closes the door.

Merrick turns to leave, and as he walks,

He exhales out a laugh to himself, picking up his stride.

HALLWAY – CONTINUOUS

Merrick nears a man near the end of the corridor.

It’s the paparazzi from the park.

As Merrick walks past,

MERRICK

Hey!

The paparazzi nods at Merrick.

As soon as Merrick is out of sight,

The photographer pulls out his digital camera,

and frantically looks through the view finder,

PAPARAZZI

(to himself)

Holy shit.

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – MERRICK’S ROOM – DAY

Merrick lies on his bed, staring at the ceiling.

Music plays from a computer.

SAMANTHA (O.S.)

Hey.

She enters, closes the door, lies next to him.

MERRICK

(beat)

You gonna kill me?

She turns to him –

SAMANATHA

I think I’m still in shock.

MERRICK

So am I.

SAMANTHA

That writer?

MERRICK

(beat)

Cameron.

SAMANTHA

(after a long pause)

Jesus.

MERRICK

What?

SAMANTHA

It all just hit me. Your dad. Your fans. I mean – Jesus. The world. Nobody has a clue.

He sighs heavily, as she leans on his shoulder.

INT. CAMERON’S APARTMENT – DAY

Cameron opens the front door –

He’s overwhelmed by cameras and shouting press.

He retreats back, slamming the door.

CAMERON

Christ!

He looks through the peephole, then steps back.

Eyes grow wide, he pulls out his phone.

He frantically types a message.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – BACKYARD/PATIO – DAY

Merrick and Samantha are hanging out and listening to music. Merrick’s phone is away from them on a table facing up.

A text message from “The Crew” comes through. It’s too far away to be noticed.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – DRIVEWAY – NIGHT

Samantha, standing at the door to her car, stands in front of Merrick. The two hug as she gets in her car.

He watches her drive off as the skies darken. Merrick notices the wind picking up and a single clap of thunder.

BACKYARD/PATIO – SAME TIME

Merrick picks his phone up and walks into…

INSIDE THE HOUSE

Still studying his phone, Merrick closes the patio door behind him. He reads –

THE CREW (TEXT)

The Press Knows! Photos?!

A loud rumble of thunder, rain starts.

RICHARD (O.S.)

(quivering voice)

Merrick?

Merrick turns to see Richard staring at him.

RICHARD

What’s going on?

Richard holds up his phone.

RICHARD

Was this for the film?

Merrick glances at the phone.

MERRICK

(beat)

No.

Richard, head down, eyes closed.

Richard begins to hyperventilate.

Richard, looking unsteady, so Merrick runs to help.

RICHARD

(aggressive)

Don’t touch me!

Merrick jumps away from him and falls.

Richard, leans against a wall, catching his breath.

Merrick stands up, but still slowly backs away.

Richard, still breathing hard and stuttering –

RICHARD

(head against wall)

Please tell me it’s not true. Not that. Please, anything but that.

MERRICK

I’m sorry, but it is that.

Another loud rumble of thunder as the power flickers.

From Richard’s perspective – Merrick has no face.

Richard struggles to finally sit down. Head in his hands.

RICHARD

(sobbing)

No, not that.

Merrick turns to leave with tears in his eyes.

Nearing the doorway, Merrick runs into Vivian who stands eyes wide, mouth hanging open.

MERRICK

Bye, Viv.

VIVIAN

Bye, honey.

The two quickly hug as Merrick exits and Vivian stands in stunned silence, staring at Richard, a sobbing, almost hysterical mess.

INT. CAMERON’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Cameron stands near a window as rain smatters against it. With each rumble of thunder, he checks his phone.

CAMERON

(to himself)

Answer me, Merrick.

A bright flash of lightning.

Cameron closes his eyes, grimaces.

.

BEGIN FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
EXT. FIELD – NIGHT

Lightning spiders across the sky above the large oak tree.

A single GUN SHOT rings out and then a thud.

EXT. FIELD – DAY

Laura hysterically tries to revive Noah’s lifeless body.

END FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
CAMERON’S APARTMENT – SAME TIME

Cameron’s head is in his hands.

A car door closing sends Cameron flying out into the…

THE PARKING LOT

It’s pouring down and Cameron is soaking wet, and breathing hard.

Also soaking wet is Merrick who walks directly into his arms.

CAMERON

Thank God.

Cameron holds Merrick in the storm.

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – RICHARD’S ROOM – NIGHT

Richard watches Vivian packing luggage into her car from the bedroom window.

He punches the wall.

INT. CAMERON’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Merrick lies across Cameron upon the couch, somberly.

MERRICK

I’ve never seen him like that.

CAMERON

I’m sorry.

MERRICK

I thought he might hit me.

CAMERON

Maybe he just needs more time? Some people do.

MERRICK

This was something… different.

CAMERON

How so?

MERRICK

Something dark. His eyes. It was like he wanted to

(breaking)

kill me.

Cameron holds him tighter.

MERRICK

I don’t know what to do. I feel like I should check on him, but I –

CAMERON

(interrupts)

Shh… Slow down, Mer.

(caresses his hair)

Just give it some time first. Let things calm down. For both of you.

INT. BAR – DAY

Richard sits at a dimly lit bar along a line of stools, having a drink. A TV plays news above the bar as the guy next to him speaks up –

BAR GUY

(to Richard)

Hey man, spot me a 20?

Richard blank-stares him.

BAR GUY

Alright fine, shit.

BAR TENDER

(to the Bar guy)

You don’t have any money?

BAR GUY

Well… A friend owes me. He was supposed to meet me –

BAR TENDER

(interrupts, grabbing his drink)

That’s a no, then.

RICHARD

(sighs)

I’ll cover it, just please God, if he shuts-up.

The bartender places his drink back down and goes back to work.

BAR GUY

Hey, thanks man!

(after a pause)

Wait. Are you buying me a drink to be nice, or just to shut me up?

Another blank stare from Richard.

BAR GUY

I’m shutting up.

Richard hears the name Merrick Jennings on the TV, turning his attention toward it as the Bar guy follows his lead.

ON THE TV: Rumors are swirling about young actor Merrick Jennings who was photographed having a steamy moment with  an openly gay writer. The two had been cast together as  leads for a new film leading many to wonder – was this for a film or are the two actually an item?

RICHARD

(under his breath)

Fuckin’ vultures.

BAR GUY

(burps)

Always knew he was gay.

EXT. VIVIAN’S HOUSE – DAY

A nice little three bedroom house.

VIVIAN’S PATIO

Vivian sits with Merrick.

MERRICK

You left?

VIVIAN

Couldn’t stay after that. Didn’t feel right. Been stringing me along all these years.

Vivian notices Merrick’s face.

VIVIAN

Hon, he’d calmed down before I left. You two… just need time?

MERRICK

(shakes his head)

Still not sure what that was.

Vivian looks out in thought, then back to Merrick.

VIVIAN

He had really bad dreams.

MERRICK

So do I.

VIVIAN

Not like these. Sometimes he’d wake up crying like a baby. Whatever it was, it was something awful. The way he was with you that night reminded me of them.

Merrick sits back in his chair,

and after a heavy sigh.

MERRICK

Should’ve just sawed my arm off.

They laugh a little.

EXT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – DAY

Richard sits in a chair poolside in a robe.

His hair is a mess and needs a shave.

He stares into the pool.

EXT. PARKING LOT – DAY

Merrick pulls into a parking lot. The press is already staked out. As Merrick exits the car he’s mobbed by the press.

VARIOUS PRESS

Are the pictures real!?

Is he your lover!?

Will you come out!?

Merrick struggles through them and into an office building.

MARTIN’S OFFICE

Merrick is waiting as Martin enters.

MARTIN

Hey Merrick, how you holding up?

MERRICK

Just wanting to get this over with.

Martin sits down at his desk facing Merrick, with disappointment on his face.

MARTIN

They’ve decided to pull the plug. They’re calling it a pause, but…

Merrick closes his eyes, and heavily sighs.

MERRICK

Does Cameron know?

MARTIN

I called and told him. Seemed to take it in stride. The studio’s worried, and Richard has been less than helpful. He’s been a problem the entire time.

Merrick gets up to leave, but turns to Martin, extending his hand;

MERRICK

Thanks for trying.

They shake.

MARTIN

I was looking forward to it. Maybe when things calm down, we’ll have another shot?

EXT. GRANDPA BUCK’S – PORCH – DAY

Richard, Buck and Kerri sit in a swing, each with a glass of tea.

KERRI

(to Richard)

What happened?

Richard lays his drink down, leans forward.

RICHARD

I guess…  he likes this writer.

BUCK

What’s wrong with that? Is she pretty?

RICHARD

It’s – uh – well, that’s the thing, dad. The writer’s not a she.

The swing stops. Kerri’s wide eyes on Richard.

Buck tilts his head, confused, his face scrunched up.

RICHARD

He’s a guy. Merrick likes this guy. Cameron’s his name.

BUCK

Our Merrick?

RICHARD

Yeah. To say the least, I didn’t handle it well. He’s not been back to the house, since. I lost it when he told me. Really lost it.

KERRI

Lost it, why?

Richard stands up, moving to the edge of the porch looking out.

RICHARD

I noticed him, and Cameron were getting close. Scared me honestly. Seeing them together started to bring up some bad things in me.

BUCK

What kind of bad things?

RICHARD

The worst kind.

KERRI

Richard, what are you trying to say hon?

RICHARD

I’ve been having these dreams. No. They’re not dreams. Nightmares of when I was a boy.. and this man.. He forces himself on me… Hits me…

Eyes closed, head down –

RICHARD

He raped me.

KERRY

(disbelief)

What?

RICHARD

That feeling – that terror, I couldn’t stop it. Then when Merrick told me he was… I lost it. Really lost it.

Richard sits back down as Kerri takes his hand, with tears in her eyes.

RICHARD

I’ve never told anyone this before, but now… I have to. I can’t keep it bottled up any longer. It’s done enough damage. Merrick’s left the house, and I can’t blame him. Almost 40 years of pain all came spilling out on him in the most unfair way.

A lengthy silence as Buck and Kerri absorb everything.

BUCK

Wish I’d known, Richard. Although, I’d be in prison because that man would be dead by my hands.

Richard tenderly takes Buck’s hand. Buck clears his throat, trying to stifle tears.

KERRI

Richard, who did this?

Richard looks to Kerri, scratches his face and shifts in his chair.

RICHARD

I have an idea but… I’m not entirely sure. All I have are fragments. Don’t want to start making accusations, but if it’s who I think it is – he’s already dead.

BUCK

Good.

KERRI

(after a pause)

So… Merrick is gay? For sure?

RICHARD

Looks that way.

BUCK

That’s it?

Richard lets out an exasperated sigh.

RICHARD

Yeah, that’s it.

Buck sighs, then sits back.

BUCK

Just go and talk to Merrick.

RICHARD

Don’t know how – or where to start. What on Earth do I say?

BUCK

(after a beat)

Just go and tell him what happened. Merrick’s a good kid, he’ll listen. Always been a good kid. Still is.

Buck chokes up.

INT. JENNINGS’ ESTATE – LIVING AREA – DAY

Richard sits at the bar flipping through a photo album as three Hollywood executives sit on a couch behind him.

MALE EXECUTIVE #1

Richard, Merrick needs to issue a statement. Somebody needs to just issue a statement and things will calm down.

Richard flips to a picture of Merrick as a baby. He grins, running his finger over the photo.

FEMALE EXECUTIVE #1

I agree. Is he gay? Do we know if he’s actually gay? Is that the only issue here? And where is he?

Richard flips to a picture of ten year old Merrick dressed as Spider man for Halloween.

MALE EXECUTIVE #2

It could be good for the film. If he is gay. As long as he doesn’t do something crazy – like kill himself.

Richard jumps up, charging toward the executives in a rage.

RICHARD

Stop talking about him!

Their eyes wide, all on Richard, fearing for their lives.

RICHARD

You don’t know him, you know nothing about him!

(voice cracking)

I held him in my hands when he was this big!

(puts hands together)

I held him in my arms after his mother left him – and then at her funeral!

(tears in his eyes)

Merrick’s the most kind and gentle soul I’ve ever met! He’s never hurt anyone his entire life!

(points at the door)

Now get the fuck out of our house!

DRIVEWAY

Richard storms down the driveway as the mail is arriving. The mail carrier offers Richard a single letter. Richard snaps it from the postal worker then continues on.

THE STREET

Richard walks down the road, eventually he glances at the letter. He stops in his tracks.

His face and demeanor change as tears fill his eyes and he presses the letter to his chest, and looks around, puts his head down and continues walking away from the house and on down the street.

EXT. BEACH – DAY

Cameron stands, staring out at the ocean as Merrick approaches.

MERRICK

Are you okay?

CAMERON

(turns to Merrick)

Hey.

Merrick goes to Cameron, holding his hands.

MERRICK

We’ll get it made. Somehow. I promise.

CAMERON

Merrick, it’s okay.

MERRICK

I thought you’d be devastated.

CAMERON

(takes a deep breath)

I’m disappointed, but… I’m okay. This isn’t how I wanted it to go. Thought I’d come out here for one last memory of where I thought it had all started, but I care more…

MERRICK

(interrupts)

You don’t blame me? If I were-

Cameron places a finger on Merrick’s lips.

CAMERON

I care more about you than the film.

They embrace.

CAMERON

(over shoulder)

But seriously, you owe me big time.

MERRICK

(laughing)

Shut-up.

They separate.

CAMERON

How’s your dad?

MERRICK

He must be feeling better – I heard he blew up at some executives. Good sign.

CAMERON

Are you going to see him?

MERRICK

Thinking about it. Have to get some stuff from the house. Not sure what to expect.

(nervous laugh)

A little scared.

CAMERON

Want me to go with you?

MERRICK

No. Probably better if I go alone.

EXT. JENNINGS ESTATE – DRIVEWAY – DAY

Merrick sets luggage in his car, turns to look at the end of the driveway and pauses in thought. He looks up at the house, then back to the street.

He closes the car door and walks to the end of the driveway.

THE STREET

Merrick walks with his head down, hands in his pocket away from the house.

EXT. HIGHLAND PARK – BENCH – DAY

Turning leaves blow about in the little park.

THE BENCH

Richard sits holding the letter.

MERRICK (O.S.)

(from behind Richard)

Dad?

Richard lowers his head and cries.

Merrick walks around to the front of the bench.

Merrick cautiously sits with Richard.

MERRICK

What’s wrong?

Richard turns to Merrick, and struggles to say-

RICHARD

Merrick, I’m so sorry. None of that was meant for you.

Merrick closes his eyes and sighs.

MERRICK

You scared the hell out of me.

RICHARD

I know and I’m so sorry. Please, please know it wasn’t meant for you. Not any of it.

MERRICK

(after a pause)

Okay, but… who was it meant for?

Richard, eyes wide and searching, looks at Merrick.

RICHARD

Well… When I was a boy

(stammering)

A man once… I was…

(voice cracking)

Why is this…

(slaps his leg)

So hard to say!?

Merrick grabs Richard, hugging him tightly.

MERRICK

(over shoulder)

You don’t have to say anything more.

Richard sobs in Merrick’s arms for some time. They separate.

RICHARD

Just couldn’t get it out of my head! The nightmares really started coming on hard. After I saw you two together at that party – I think I knew right then and there. Honestly, it terrified me – somewhere deep down. Then that fuckin’ scene. Guess I should’ve been seeing a therapist all these years, huh?

MERRICK

You’re gonna need a team.

Richard, caught off guard, laughs hard.

MERRICK

(after a pause)

So… you know who I am, and it’s okay?

Richard sighs.

RICHARD

Oh, Merrick. I love you the way you are, dammit.

(roughs up his hair)

Always have. There’s not a damn thing wrong with you.

Richard pulls Merrick into a hug as Merrick cries.

RICHARD

Shh… Shh… Shh… I’ve got you.

(voice cracking)

And I’m not going anywhere.

MERRICK

(in his arms, muffled)

I’m sorry.

RICHARD

You did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong.

They separate from the hug, regaining their composure.

MERRICK

(points at the letter)

What is that?

Deep sigh from Richard, as he looks down at the letter.

RICHARD

It’s yours.

(tosses it to Merrick)

Read it. But I’m not crying again.

Merrick examines the letter

FROM: “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences”.

MERRICK

My God. Is it?

RICHARD

Open it! We could use some good news around here.

Merrick opens and reads.

MERRICK

On behalf of the Academy, I am delighted to formally notify you that you have been nominated for an Academy Award as Actor of the Year for the film, “Train to Nowhere”. Congratulations!

Merrick’s mouth hangs open in shock, whereas Richard’s face is one of jubilation.

RICHARD

(yells)

Actor of the year!

His words echo’s throughout the park. Merrick in such a state of shock, re-reads the letter to himself.

EXT. THE HENRY’S – DRIVEWAY – DAY

Merrick pulls up as Alex is sitting on the porch with a basketball on his hip. Merrick approaches Alex slowly.

MERRICK

(to Alex)

So I guess it’s time we had that

(holding laugh back)

long ass and awkward conversation?

They both bust out laughing.

ALEX

(getting up)

Nah, let’s just play some ball!

And that’s exactly what they do.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE – NIGHT

Richard, Vivian, Samantha, Merrick and Cameron are all piled in the back. The men are all in tuxedo’s and the women are in glamorous dresses.

MERRICK

I’m so nervous.

SAMANTHA

(grins)

I’m so jealous.

CAMERON

You worked on your speech for a month. Can I read it now?

Merrick takes out a little white envelope.

MERRICK

Only if I don’t win. Otherwise, you’ll just have to hear it like everyone else.

CAMERON

But what if you do win? Oh my God, what if you do win?

Richard, reaches behind.

RICHARD

Something is stabbing me in my ba-

Pulls out a rolled up script and laughs.

MERRICK

What is it?

RICHARD

The Undertaker!

Richard tosses it to Merrick.

MERRICK

My favorite script.

RICHARD

Still like that one. Lotta fun.

VIVIAN

I’m sure it’s still available.

SAMANTHA

We’re here.

EXT. ACADEMY AWARDS – NIGHT

Merrick and Samantha exit the limo first, waving to fans as they cheer and clap, and photos are snapped. Cameron, Richard and Vivian follow behind.

INT. ACADEMY AWARDS – THEIR SEATS – LATER

Vivian, Richard, Merrick, Cameron and Samantha sit near the stage.

CAMERON

Here it is. Anyone have Xanax?

MERRICK

If I pass out, everybody just act normal.

SAMANTHA

Don’t worry, if you win, I’ll get your award for you.

RICHARD

Everybody shut-up before I have a heart attack.

THE PODIUM

A very glamorous woman announces the winner of Best Actor with a drumroll.

WOMAN

And the winner for Best Actor goes to…

THEIR SEATS

They’re mouths hang open in anticipation.

THE PODIUM

WOMAN

Merrick Jennings in Train to Nowhere!

THEIR SEATS

Thunderous applause ripples throughout the auditorium. Merrick stands and hugs everybody, then ascends up the steps to the podium.

THE PODIUM

He takes out his speech, takes a deep breath and waits for the applause to die down.

MERRICK

To start, I’d like to thank the cast, crew and team behind Train to Nowhere for an amazing film and opportunity. My amazing friend, Sam – Samantha Pierce. Who is going to steal this award from me.

(laughter)

Vivian, who’s been like a mother to me. Thank you.

MERRICK

In my first audition as a kid, we had a scene where we had to cry. A lot of the kids were afraid they wouldn’t be able to do it. However, when my time came, I was able to cry. I cried and I cried, and everybody was amazed.

In the audience, Richard is overcome with emotion.

MERRICK

What they didn’t know was that I’d just been abandoned by my mother. This gave me enough tears to drown the world in. As I got older, however, it drove me. Drove me to be perfect. Drove me to strive for greatness. To prove her wrong. To prove I’m not –

(voice cracking)

– worthless.

MERRICK

Looking back, I see that this drive to perfection also drove me to continually push my true self, my true heart, and my true desires away.

MERRICK

Then one night, someone came along, took my hand and wouldn’t let go.

(breaking)

From the moment I first saw him, getting out of his crappy car, comically under dressed – I was in love.

In the audience, Cameron is overcome with emotion.

MERRICK

I tried to push it away, but I couldn’t.

(looks at Cameron)

Cameron, I love you.

Merrick pauses after applause, looking at Richard.

MERRICK

Dad. You can be an ass.

Richard grins, nods his head yes, as Merrick and others laugh.

MERRICK

But, this is ours.

(raises the award up)

We earned this. We proved her wrong. Nobody can take this away from us. Thank you for pushing me. Thank you for not going anywhere and always being there for me. I love you.

He raises the award into the air, then exits the stage with a new confidence as the audience cheers. Richard, Vivian, Cameron and Samantha are the loudest.

INT. KNIGHT HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Annie and David sit in front of their TV in stunned silence.

ANNIE

(with tears in her eyes)

How come Cameron only wrote us a letter?

INT. THE HENRY’S – LIVING AREA – NIGHT

Alex and his mother are gathered around the TV.

ALEX

(crying)

Damn, he really got me cryin’ like a bitch. I didn’t know he was gonna say all that stuff.

Christina hugs Alex.

INT/EXT. JENNINGS’ LIMOUSINE – NIGHT

Richard and Vivian sit opposite each other. They’re the remaining two.

RICHARD

(loudly exhales)

What a night.

VIVIAN

Yes.

There’s a long silence as Richard stares at Vivian.

RICHARD

Vivian, I –

The car’s breaks squeak as it slows to a stop.

VIVIAN

(interrupts)

Not sure I wanna hear this. I’m home anyway. Goodnight.

The limo stops and she steps out, closing the door hard.

Richard watches her walk away as the limo drives off.

He slams his hand down on the arm rest.

His eyes light up.

Looking down, he opens the console.

He grins.

EXT. VIVIAN’S HOUSE – SAME TIME

Vivian is at her door digging in her purse for her keys as she hears the limo returning. Richard exits the limo with something in his hand.

VIVIAN

Richard, you don’t have to do this.

RICHARD

Yes, I do. Should have done it years ago.

Her mouth hangs open, eyes widen.

VIVIAN

What’s that in your hand?

Richard kneels down on one knee and opens the ring box, offering it to her.

VIVIAN

Richard!

She stands there trying to decide if she’s still angry with him as she slowly examines the ring.

RICHARD

Will you marry me?

Vivian’s eyes fill with tears.

RICHARD

Sorry it took me so damn long. To be fair, I was trying to do this on your birthday – the night of the Opera, but then all hell broke loose.

VIVIAN

Yes!

He puts the engagement ring on her, and they kiss. He holds her for a moment, then they laugh.

VIVIAN

What a night!

EXT. BEACH HOUSE – DAY

The house is luxurious and beautiful.

SUPER: 1 year later

INT. BEACH HOUSE – OFFICE

Merrick sits at a computer, typing away as Cameron enters and Merrick covers up the screen with his hand.

MERRICK

No! You’re not supposed to see this.

CAMERON

You’re writing something? They’ll be here soon.

MERRICK

I’ll be out in a sec.

CAMERON

Hurry.

EXT. BEACH HOUSE – DECK – LATER

Cameron mans a large grill. A large white wooden deck overlooks and leads out to the beach and ocean.

Standing next to him are Richard and Vivian. Buck, Kerri, Dennis, Alex and Samantha sit at a nearby table.

RICHARD

(to Cameron)

Shouldn’t they be here by now?

CAMERON

(checks his phone)

You’re making me nervous.

VIVIAN

Where is Merrick?

CAMERON

(rolls his eyes)

I don’t know, he was at the computer writing something.

RICHARD

(grinning)

He’s not writing horror, that much I can tell you.

MERRICK (O.S.)

No, I’m not.

Merrick comes out on the deck and greets and hugs everyone.

RICHARD

(to Cameron)

How’d the premiere go?

CAMERON

Really well. Laura was amazing. She handled all the questions. She only snapped once. Of course, we were all crying our eyes out during the movie. It was ridiculous.

Annie and David, looking like tourists, pop their heads out onto the deck.

CAMERON

Oh, finally!

Cameron and Merrick embrace them, and they meet everyone.

ALONG THE BEACH

Richard sits alone on the beach, watching Cameron and Merrick together, who’re further away.

Merrick wears sunglasses and is laying on his back as Cameron leans over him as they talk and laugh.

Merrick is laughing and smiles brighter than he ever has. Richard slightly grins, sighs and laughs a little to himself as Vivian joins him with drinks.

INT. BEACH HOUSE – OFFICE

The computer where Merrick sat.

It’s screen shows the title page of a screenplay.

THE TITLE: American Star

FADE OUT.