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The Red Car, a feature film excerpt

The Red Car, a feature film excerpt

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Published by Charles Degelman
Jake Spector, 11, dreams of building a soap box racer with his dad. To realize his dream, Jake must forge a path through family dysfunction, a bittersweet first love, and the fearsome shadow of 1950s McCarthyism.
Jake Spector, 11, dreams of building a soap box racer with his dad. To realize his dream, Jake must forge a path through family dysfunction, a bittersweet first love, and the fearsome shadow of 1950s McCarthyism.

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Published by: Charles Degelman on Feb 01, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Red Car

By Charles Degelman

This material registered with the Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. Registration # 1366006

FADE IN: EXT. WARRINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DAY AERIAL SHOT: A rolling overview of green, New England hills, hardwood forests, cow pastures and orchards. A two-lane road winds beneath green parasols of maples, oaks, and elms, curving past white farmhouses with red barns, little bungalows. SUPERIMPOSED: MASSACHUSETTS, 1953 The road splits around a grassy town common, bordered by shops, a red brick firehouse, a white church steeple and finally... a schoolyard. STUDENTS cover the terrain below, goofing, playing war, talking two by two. SFX: SCHOOL BELL RINGING Students file into a large, flat-roofed, modern SCHOOL BUILDING. INT. CLASSROOM - DAY CLOSE-UP ON: Creased DRAFTSMAN’S PLANS reveal the outline, curves, and angles of a SOAP BOX RACER. TEACHER (O.C.) Now when you’re out lookin’ for a job... JAKE SPECTOR, 11, a small, dark-eyed boy traces the racer’s outline with a finger. The plans bear the official seal of the All-American Soap Box Derby. This is no jalopy but a streamlined, bona fide racing machine. TEACHER (O.C.) (CONT’D) Before some fella hires ya, he’s gonna tell you to do this...

2. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: A gold-fringed AMERICAN FLAG flanks the blackboard. A TEACHER in a sagging, chalk-smeared suit turns his back on a zombied-out regiment of SEVENTH-GRADE STUDENTS. The Teacher hikes up cheap rayon trousers to reveal scrawny white calves, socks, and garters. The CLASS stifles a chorus of giggles and snorts. TEACHER (CONT’D) And why is this fella gonna tell you to do this? He holds his ridiculous stance and continues hollering at the chalkboard. TEACHER (CONT’D) Because he wants to know if you shined the backs of your shoes, that’s why. Jake continues poring over his soapbox plans. The teacher drops his pants legs and turns back around to confront a room full of suddenly frozen poker faces. TEACHER (CONT’D) (facing the class) to know if you can finish a job, that’s why. Detail. Attention to... The Teacher’s watery eyes land on Jake. In three lanky strides he reaches Jake’s desk and snatches the plans off Jake’s lap. TEACHER (CONT’D) One of these days, Spector, I’m gonna grab you like this... He grabs Jake by the front of his jersey and twists. TEACHER (CONT’D) I’m gonna pick you up like this... The teacher yanks Jake out of his seat. TEACHER (CONT’D) And I’m gonna mop the floor with ya. He shoves Jake back into his seat.

3. TEACHER (CONT’D) You understand? Without waiting for an answer, the teacher returns to the chalkboard. Jake rises beside his desk. JAKE Give me back my plans. INT. SCHOOL CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS Jake flies into the hallway and lands on his hands and knees. The plans rattle to the floor beside him. The classroom door slams shut. Jake rises, picks up the plans and walks alone down the waxed corridor toward the PRINCIPAL’s OFFICE. EXT. CURVING NEW ENGLAND ROADWAY - THAT AFTERNOON A bright yellow SCHOOL BUS winds into view, packed with STUDENTS INT. SCHOOL BUS - CONTINUOUS A DRIVER jockeys the bus along the winding road. BEHIND HIM, double rows of twitching, chattering KIDS sway with the motion of the bus. Jake and ALEXANDRA, 13, Jake's older sister, sit together. Jake stares out the window, clutching the precious plans. BEHIND THEM, a sweet-featured girl, LINDA LAWSON, sits with her GIRLFRIENDS, self-consciously covering her braces with a close-lipped smile. ALEXANDRA So your stupid race car got you a trip to the principal’s office. JAKE That Mister Lewis is a booger. ALEXANDRA Everybody knows that. JAKE He took my plans.

4. LINDA looks up from the chattering cluster of girlfriends. JOHNNY CONTADINI, 13, stands beside her. Contadini is built like a fireplug packed into a plaid shirt and blue jeans,. CONTADINI Hiya, Lawson. LINDA My name is Linda. Linda turns back to her GIRLFRIENDS. Contadini moves forward to lean over Jake and Alexandra. CONTADINI Hey, new kid. I hear you got plans to build a racer. Yeah, I... JAKE

CONTADINI Don’t waste your time. I already got the race sewed up. ALEXANDRA Really? Sewed up? CONTADINI Yeah. Really. Alexandra looks at Contadini with sarcastic wonder. ALEXANDRA Wow. I never met a boy who sews before. Laughter explodes from the kids on the bus. CONTADINI Shut your pie hole, pig tails. (To Jake) I got my dad helping me. He knows how to build stuff. JAKE I know how to build stuff. CONTADINI Do not. You got the official wheels? No, I... JAKE

5. Contadini turns and laughs at his BUDDIES at the back of the bus. CONTADINI Feature this! The new kid... (pointing at Jake) Ain’t even got no wheels! EXT. COUNTRY ROAD -- DAY The broad, yellow rump of the SCHOOL BUS pulls away. Jake and Alexandra trudge down a puddled lane, books in hand. JAKE ‘Ain’t even got no wheels.’ That kid can’t even talk straight. ALEXANDRA Yeah, maybe. But guess what. What. JAKE

ALEXANDRA He’s right. How you gonna build a race car? JAKE Dad’ll help me. ALEXANDRA Will not. He’s too busy with his work and his Boston friends. Ahead of them, a two-story clapboard house huddles beneath a large maple tree. Flowers burst from pots on the front porch, where AMY, a forlorn BEAGLE sighs. Jake runs ahead of Alexandra, clambers up the stairs. He stops to kiss AMY and play with her beagle ears. From INSIDE, a woman’s voice sings out. WOMAN (V.O.) Hall-loooo kiddos! Holding the PLANS, Jake bursts through the screen door. Alexandra groans and pushes inside behind Jake.

6. INT. SPECTOR FAMILY HOME - NIGHT The Spector’s home is NOT a typical 1950s household. A huge BOOKSHELF dominates the living room. The walls are adorned with impressionist prints, depression-era photos of workers and peasants, and modern, abstract paintings. Conspicuously missing: A TELEVISION. Jake’s father, ALBERT, early 40s, sits at the head of the DINING TABLE reading The Boston Globe, circa 1953. Albert is a quick, attractive man in a blue oxford-cloth sporting a bow tie. Despite the bow tie and Ivy-League shirt, Albert’s sleeves are rolled up to the elbows like a worker. The dining area is connected to the kitchen over a COUNTER. BEYOND THE COUNTER, Jake's mother, NANCY, mid-30s, a darkfeatured, good-looking woman, putters with dinner. As Jake enters breathless... ALEXANDRA (sing song to Jake) You’re late for din-ner! You get to set the ta-ble! NANCY Jake, Alexandra. Get a move on. ALBERT (over the paper) That means both of you. Give your mother a hand. Jake and a grumbling Alexandra set to work. Albert returns to his paper. ALBERT (CONT’D) Listen to this crap. They sentenced those union fellas today. The idiot judge told ‘em they could do time or move to Russia. Jake and Alexandra trudge back and forth with place mats, plates, silver. ALBERT (CONT’D) Can ya believe that? ALEXANDRA Move to Russia? That’s a prison sentence?

7. ALBERT There is no Russia, honey. We call it the Soviet Union. (Rattles the paper) Lotta blood got spilled over that little name change. Nancy arrives from the kitchen bearing bowls of lima beans and cottage cheese. ALEXANDRA Heck, I’d go in a minute. NANCY Why Russia, Alex? ALEXANDRA I bet it’s cool. I could take a million pictures. Nancy gobs peanut butter on the cottage cheese concoction. ALEXANDRA (CONT’D) (eyes the food) And it’d be about ten thousand miles from here, too. ALBERT So... You like to take pictures? ALEXANDRA Yeah, like I only told you that a hundred times. ALBERT Hmmmmm. We’ll have to do something about that. Nancy sets a peculiar-looking fish carcass on the table. Jake prods the fish thing with his finger. NANCY Don’t poke your dinner, Jake. JAKE It looks weird. ALBERT (putting down the paper) Hey, hey, hey. Don’t sneer at your mother’s cooking. Nancy scoops huge shapeless portions of lima beans and cottage cheese onto the plates.

8. ALBERT (CONT’D) She’s a worker, too, you know. NANCY Besides, it’s healthy. Vitamins A and E. The family eats in silence. For about 10 seconds. ALBERT So how was school, Alex? ALEXANDRA It’s Saturday. NANCY (to Albert) So why did you go to work today? ALBERT Didn’t go to work. Drove in to Boston. I’m installing a hi-fi system for that new client. NANCY I see. When are you going to build one for us? ALBERT Soon, dearie. Right now, it’s cash that gets the job done. Alexandra elbows Jake. ALEXANDRA (whispering) See? Told ya. Boston. He’s never gonna get around to your stupid car. Jake and Alexandra push the fish food piles around their plates in silence. Albert shoves his plate away. ALBERT Where’re those brownies I brought home? Nancy rises and clears the plates. Jake rattles the plans in front of Albert.

9. JAKE Dad, take a look. I want to build one of these. ALBERT What is this thing? JAKE A soap box racer. ALBERT Like a jalopy? Jake pushes the plans closer. JAKE Come on, Dad. This is a real race car. An official one. ALBERT (sarcastic) Oh, boy! Official! Never trust anybody or anything that calls itself “official,” buster. Albert turns to Alexandra. ALBERT (CONT’D) Alex. I have something for you. Nancy returns with the brownies on a plate. She sits. Albert takes a brownie and munches absent-mindedly while he peruses the plans. ALBERT (CONT’D) (to Jake) It’d take a lotta work. To do it right. Nancy leans between Jake and Albert, points to the brownies. NANCY (eyebrow raised) Home-cooked are they? ALBERT Courtesy of the client. NANCY Ah, yes. Your “client.” ALBERT She sent you a special “hello.”

10. NANCY Well. That makes all the difference. Send her a special “thanks.” Next time you see her. Albert stares at Nancy. NANCY (CONT’D) That should be soon enough, right Albert? Albert hands the car plans blindly back to Jake. ALBERT What’s that supposed to mean? Plans in hand, Jake EXITS toward his bedroom. DISSOLVE TO: SFX: A SLIGHTLY OUT-OF-TUNE PIANO PLAYS AMATEUR RENDITIONS OF BACH STUDIES. INT. SPECTOR FAMILY HOME -- NIGHT In the hallway, Nancy sits at the piano, playing and focusing intently on SHEET MUSIC. Jake wanders by, unnoticed, stops at a hallway DOOR. He pushes it open. From Jake’s POV: INT. ALEXANDRA’S BEDROOM -- CONTINUOUS Albert sits on Alexandra’s bed showing her how to use a small CAMERA. On the bed, a shiny cardboard CAMERA BOX. ALEXANDRA Wow. I thought you didn’t hear me. ALBERT Course I did, honey. Just wanted to keep it as a surprise. PIANO MUSIC CONTINUES AS: EXT. NEW ENGLAND BACK ROADS -- THE NEXT DAY

11. MONTAGE: Jake on his bike, turning into a lumber yard, talking to a WOODWORKER. The woodworker points. Jake follows his finger. Jake scavenges wood scraps, ties them to his bicycle with baling twine. Jake pushes his bike -- now resembling a BURRO loaded with firewood -- up a country road, balancing his wobbly cargo. INT. SPECTOR FAMILY LIVING ROOM -- NIGHT Albert sits on the SOFA, squinting into a massive volume from the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA. JAKE You got a camera for Alexandra. ALBERT Shhh. If your mom knew, she’d kill me. JAKE You help her. What about me? Albert puts down the Encyclopedia. ALBERT Okay, pal. You got me. Let’s take a look at that crazy car of yours. Jake pulls his father off the sofa and leads him to the BASEMENT DOOR. INT. SPECTOR BASEMENT WORKSHOP -- CONTINUOUS Jake leads Albert down the steps. Jake’s scavenged load of scrap wood, neatly sorted and stacked, glows beneath the cone of a WORKBENCH LIGHT. Albert inspects Jake’s haul. ALBERT You did this? Yup. JAKE

12. ALBERT Looks like you got your hands on the right stuff. JAKE All we need is the wheels. ALBERT Jake, my man, you really know how to twist a guy’s short hairs. Huh? JAKE

ALBERT Never mind. You did really well. (pokes at plans) Okay. How do we procure these ah... “official” wheels? INT. SCHOOL BUS - AFTERNOON Jake sits alone at the front of the bus. LINDA LAWSON climbs aboard. Hi. Hi. LINDA JAKE

LINDA Can I sit down? Sure! JAKE

Jake scoops his book bag off the seat. Linda sits. At first, they ride in awkward silence. Then... LINDA I thought you were really brave, standing up to Mister Lewis. JAKE He took my plans. LINDA For that car thing. JAKE I’m gonna build one. With my dad.

13. LINDA Wish I wasn’t a girl. Why? JAKE

LINDA ‘Cause girls don’t get to build stuff like that. JAKE Could if you wanted. LINDA My dad would never. He thinks girls belong... The school bus slows, stops. Linda rises. LINDA (CONT’D) I gotta go. See ya! As the bus pulls away... FROM JAKE’S POV: Linda walks down the driveway of a large, modern home nestled in a pine grove. A power boat gleams in the garage. INT. SPECTOR BASEMENT WORKSHOP - DAY Jake and Albert toil over the car construction. SFX: MUFFLED VOICES AND FOOTSTEPS The basement door opens, throwing a shaft of daylight into the workshop. NANCY (O.S.) Albert. There’s somebody up here to see you. Huh? Who? ALBERT (annoyed)

NANCY Just come upstairs. Now.

14. Grumbling, Albert wipes glue and sawdust off his hands and climbs the stairs. Jake follows. INT. SPECTOR FAMILY DINING ROOM - CONTINUOUS A tall, relaxed-looking GENTLEMAN in a cardigan, pressed khakis, and well-worn loafers sits knee-to-knee with Nancy on the SOFA, nursing a glass of iced tea. Alexandra hovers by the hallway door. At Albert’s entrance, the Gentleman rises, smiling broadly. NANCY Albert, this is Mister Matthews. MATTHEWS Please. Call me Roger. Lord knows everyone else does. Matthews speaks in an aristocratic New England accent. He moves around the coffee table and extends a hand. NANCY Mister Matthews... Nancy... MATTHEWS

NANCY (laughing) Sorry. Roger stopped by to get acquainted. MATTHEWS Welcome Wagon sort of a thing, if you take my meaning. Albert shakes Matthew’s hand, scrutinizing him NANCY Roger’s chairman of the Warrington Board of Selectman. ALBERT Ah. Right. The New England town meeting. Purest form of democracy. MATTHEWS It can be. (chuckles) When we’re not squabbling over centuries-old feuds. warily.

15. Matthews takes his seat on the sofa. NANCY Iced tea, Albert? Albert remains standing. ALBERT Sure, honey. (to Matthews) And this is Jake. Matthews rises again, extends a hand to Jake. MATTHEWS How do you do, young fella? Jake shakes hands shyly. ALBERT We’ve been building a soap box racer, Jake and I. For the derby. Matthews frowns, recovers. He gives Jake a slap on the back. MATTHEWS Crackerjack! Jake stumbles forward. MATTHEWS (CONT’D) A big event here in town. Finalist goes on to the nationals. Glory days, eh Jake? Maybe you’ll build a winner, put Warrington on the map. Maybe. JAKE

MATTHEWS That’s the spirit! (to Albert) So Nancy here has been telling tales out of school. Claims you’re quite the inventor. ALBERT Electrical engineer. MATTHEWS Says you’re employed out there at the new electronics factory. A real hum-dinger. Face of the future so to speak.

16. ALBERT Here’s hoping. MATTHEWS You people couldn’t have landed in a better place. Jake joins Alexandra in the doorway. Nancy returns with an iced tea. She casts Albert a “be nice” look, and rejoins Matthews on the sofa. NANCY We really appreciate you coming by. We’ve met so few of our neighbors. MATTHEWS My pleasure, Nancy. (to Jake and Alex) And you two... How’s school going? JAKE / ALEXANDRA (in chorus) Fine. Matthews laughs easily and shifts on the sofa. MATTHEWS So folks. As chairman of the Warrington town meeting... He pauses, contemplates Jake and Alexandra. MATTHEWS (CONT’D) Maybe you two have something else you’d like to... ALBERT They’re part of the family. You can say what you need in front of them. Right, kids? JAKE / ALEXANDRA (in chorus) Right. MATTHEWS Of course. So... As chairman, I often get calls from, let’s just say, “the authorities.” Uh-huh. ALBERT

17. MATTHEWS Last Thursday, I received a call from a mister O'Connell. Familiar with the name? ALBERT A good Irish name. Ever read any O’Casey? MATTHEWS No, I can’t say I... Albert pulls a volume out of the mammoth bookshelf. He hands it to Matthews. ALBERT Drums Under the Windows. He taps the book. ALBERT (CONT’D) Now there’s a writer with something to say. Matthews leafs through the book, distracted. MATTHEWS Yes. I’m sure. So this fella O'Connell claims that both you and Nancy have been associated with the ah... American Communist Party. Claims? ALBERT

MATTHEWS He submitted documentation. ALBERT That implies you asked for proof. Good for you. Most people don’t bother. MATTHEWS Please, Mister Spector. Hear me out. The man was serious. ALBERT Clowns generally are. NANCY Albert, please. (to Matthews) (MORE)

18. NANCY (CONT'D) It’s just that we’ve been through this so many times before. Matthews drops the book on the coffee table. MATTHEWS I told this O’Connell fella I don’t give a good doggone for what shape, color, or Indian tribe you folks hail from. Nobody from Washington, D.C. is going to tell me how to judge my neighbors. FROM THE HALLWAY DOOR: Jake and Alexandra stare, saucer-eyed at Matthews. MATTHEWS (CONT’D) I told O’Connell - just as I’m telling you now. You’re welcome in Warrington. So long as you abide by common sense, decency, and the rule of law. ALBERT I see. (rises) Damned white of you, Rodge. Matthews rises and puts down his half-finished iced tea. MATTHEWS I thought you should know. NANCY And we appreciate it. ALBERT Funny, isn’t it? This whole Iron Curtain thing. First they were our allies. Now they’re the enemy. And so are we. By proxy. Who woulda thought... Albert. NANCY

Albert offers the book to Matthews. MATTHEWS I couldn’t.

19. ALBERT No, no, no. Read it. Please. It’s all about rebellion. A workers’ rebellion. You’ll love it. Albert pushes the book back in Matthews’ hands. ALBERT (CONT’D) From one good neighbor to another. MATTHEWS Well, thank you. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. ALBERT I bet you will. Matthews is about to retort, thinks better of it. He turns to leave. MATTHEWS By the way... We'd love to see you all down at the First Unitarian Church. King Street, Sundays. Ten a.m. ALBERT (stunned) Church? Matthews walks past the speechless Albert to the door. MATTHEWS Give you a chance to meet some darned fine folks here in town. He shakes Nancy’s hand, steps onto the porch and turns. MATTHEWS (CONT’D) (to Nancy) Come on down. Please. EXT. SPECTOR FAMILY HOME - CONTINUOUS Matthews eases his long legs into a new Buick. He gives the Spectors a hearty wave and rumbles down the road. Albert and Nancy face each other. Jake and Alexandra join them and -- wordlessly -- the family quartet gathers in a tight little circle on the front porch. DISSOLVE TO:

20. SFX: THE SOUND OF NANCY’S OUT-OF-TUNE PIANO. INT. SPECTOR BASEMENT WORKSHOP -- NIGHT Beneath the warm cone of a work light... Jake and Albert hover over the plans, scattered woodworking tools, Jake’s scavenged wood and lengths of new white pine, plywood, and masonite. MONTAGE: Albert teaches Jake to: Guide sheet right brace a bucking saber saw along a pattern scribed onto a of plywood; mix powdered glue with water in just the proportions; handle wood-shaving planes, miter box, and bit, clamps.

A skeletal framework rises into the light. Jake and Albert stand back to admire their handiwork. Albert shakes a Pall Mall out of a pack, taps it on the workbench and lights up. ALBERT I got an idea for the brakes and steering... JAKE Like in the plans? Albert puts his hand on Jake’s shoulder. ALBERT Sometimes it’s good to bend the rules. I guess. JAKE

ALBERT I want this baby to rise above the crowd. Especially here. In Podunk, Massachusetts. Jake stands silent. ALBERT You okay, Jake? (CONT’D)

JAKE Yeah. I love that smell.

21. ALBERT What smell? JAKE The wood. The glue. Even your stinky cigarette. Albert laughs and stubs out the cigarette. He douses the work light and together, Jake and Albert climb the stairs. DISSOLVE TO: SFX: CHURCH BELLS EXT. WHITE NEW ENGLAND CHURCH - DAY PARISHIONERS climb the granite steps of the colonial-era CHURCH, greeting one another with familiarity. Jake and his family emerge from the family car, a battered, WAR-SURPLUS JEEP. Borne by the easy-moving flow of church goers, the Spector family disappears into the massive front doors. INT. WHITE NEW ENGLAND CHURCH - CONTINUOUS The church is a pristine example of colonial simplicity, paneled and painted white with a choir loft at the back, floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows, vases full of lilies. The Spector family sits in a pew surrounded by UNITARIANS. ON THE PULPIT: A youngish MINISTER delivers a sermon. MINISTER Buddha tells us to “...regard one’s enemy as one’s best friend.” How different an attitude than that which exists in today’s society, where... Jake studies the stained-glass windows. Albert, head bowed, sketches ELECTRONIC DIAGRAMS in a small notebook. Nancy elbows Albert as an ancient ORGAN roars to life. The CONGREGATION rises to sing. Nancy sings in a fine clear voice while Albert continues to sit, sketching absent-mindedly.

22. Alexandra and Jake grip a hymnal and mouth the words of songs they’ve never heard before. EXT. WHITE NEW ENGLAND CHURCH - LATER Outside, the Minister stands in his vestments, shaking hands with parishioners. Roger Matthews stands beside him. As the Spectors emerge... MATTHEWS (to Nancy) You sing beautifully, Nancy. The Minister takes Matthews’ cue. MINISTER We’d love to see you at choir practice. NANCY Why, I’m flattered. She ignores Albert’s double take. NANCY (CONT’D) I may just take you up on that. MINISTER Tuesdays, seven p.m. Plenty of coffee, cookies, and chit chat. The Spectors turn to leave. Matthews stops Albert and pulls him aside. MATTHEWS So, Albert. How’s that race car coming? ALBERT It’s a contender, Rodge. MATTHEWS Might even carry the Warrington banner to the Nationals, right? ALBERT Might even. It just might do that, by gosh. MATTHEWS (tight smile) Best of luck to you!

23. FROM MATTHEWS’ POV: Albert descends the granite steps, then stops. ALBERT Why do you ask? MATTHEWS Oh, no reason really. ALBERT Oh, come now, Rodge. Behind every question, there’s always a reason. Right? Without waiting for an answer, Albert continues his descent. DISSOLVE TO: EXT. SCHOOL ENTRANCE - NEXT MORNING Jake and Alexandra descend into the morning bustle of arriving STUDENTS. Alexandra disappears inside. Linda catches Jake by the sleeve at the school entrance. LINDA Have you heard of the Rosenbirds? The who? JAKE

LINDA The Rosenbirds. That’s what they call them on television. JAKE You have a television? LINDA Sure. Don’t you? No. JAKE

LINDA They said that these two people, the Rosenbirds? They’re going to get electrocuted! Huh? Why? JAKE

24. LINDA The television said they stole the parts to an atom bomb and they have two little kids and everything. Jeepers. JAKE

LINDA My Dad says they deserve it. Why? JAKE

LINDA I don’t know. SFX: HOME ROOM BELL RINGS Jake and Linda race to the entrance with other stragglers. They disappear into the darkness. A TEACHER pulls the school doors shut. INT. CLASSROOM -- AFTERNOON STUDENTS with nodding heads and open mouths work off lunchtime cafeteria carbos. Girls pass notes. A FAT BOY, face compressed into his desktop by sleep, sucks his thumb. A TEACHER drones on at the front of the class. TEACHER So...um, in Marbury v. Madison, the um, Supreme Court declared for the um, first time that um... Jake sits in the back of the room. FROM JAKE’S POV: A FLY buzzes fitfully against a windowpane. OUTSIDE, a huge CROW, wings and claws outspread, lands on a post and arranges its feathers. In the BACKGROUND, Jake hears... LINDA (V.O.) ...the Rosenbirds they call them. DISSOLVE TO:

25. INT. SPECTOR CITY APARTMENT -- FIVE YEARS EARLIER Albert and Nancy’s kitchen bulges with VISITORS, leaning against counters and crowded around a table, drinking beer. MEN in fedoras speak animatedly, many with foreign accents. WOMEN wearing flowered dresses smoke cigarettes and talk as excitedly as the men. Alexandra sits on one man’s lap, listening intently. Albert and Nancy stand in the corner talking to a THIN MAN with slicked-back hair and a trimmed moustache. A small, determined WOMAN hangs on the Thin Man. LINDA (V.O.) ...electrocuted! And they have two little kids and everything. Down a smoke-filled corridor... INT. CITY APARTMENT LIVING ROOM -- CONTINUOUS A living room, warmed by clanking radiators and illuminated by the light of shaded lamps, crammed with books and records in shelves. Paintings, photos, and sketches cover the walls. A YOUNGER JAKE and two small boys, ROBERT and MICHAEL, sit on the carpet helping Jake set up an electric train. Raucous voices float down the corridor. JAKE Do your mom and dad have parties? ROBERT Yeah. They get real noisy. We can’t sleep. JAKE Blah, blah, blah. Just like our parents. Jake connects the TRANSFORMER by wires to the electric pickups on the train tracks. Michael finds a tiny paper AMERICAN FLAG in the box and sticks it on the front of the train. Robert places the LOCOMOTIVE on the tracks. JAKE (CONT’D) Okay. Test run. You guys ready?

26. MICHAEL AND ROBERT (together) Yeah! / Ready. / Blast off! Jake pushes the transformer dial forward. CLOSE UP ON: Blue-white electrical pulses flare from the wire connections, the rails. The locomotive lurches into motion. Jake, Robert, and Michael cheer. DISSOLVE TO: INT. SPECTOR BASEMENT WORKSHOP -- RETURN TO PRESENT The SOAP BOX RACER crouches in a nest of wood shavings under the cone of the workbench light. The struts, cables and pulleys, and its bright, red wheels reveal a sharklike design that leaps forward, even in repose. ALBERT Okay, kid. Grab that end, and... Albert and Jake lift a contoured masonite panel into place. They press the panel along the racer’s side. Yahoo! JAKE

ALBERT Not yet dammit! JAKE Okay! You don’t have to get crabby about it! ALBERT Just grab that C-clamp and... Jake fits the clamp in place but bungles it. Albert grabs the clamp, slaps it in place. Stops. Takes a deep breath. He gently places the clamp back in Jake’s young hands and guides him. ALBERT (CONT’D) Perfect. Tighten her up. They slip a second clamp in place. The panel fits perfectly.

27. ALBERT (CONT’D) Couldn’t a done it better myself. Albert lights a Pall Mall. Beside him, Jake admires the car. JAKE Hey, Dad. Back in Boston. Remember those people that came up from New York? ALBERT Lot of people came up from New York back then. JAKE They had two kids. We played electric trains while you guys were talking in the kitchen. Albert freezes. He turns to Jake. ALBERT (guarded) The Rosenbergs? Albert sits down on the bottom stair. ALBERT (CONT’D) What made you think of them? JAKE A friend at school told me. Her parents have a television. ALBERT Good for them. What did she say? JAKE She said they’re going to get electrocuted. Albert throws his cigarette on the floor, grinds it into the concrete. JAKE (CONT’D) But those kids... Robert. And Michael. They didn’t do anyth... I know. ALBERT

He stands and trudges up the stairs, stops, turns to Jake.

28. ALBERT (CONT’D) Nobody did anything. He opens the door and stands silhouetted in the back light. JAKE Dad? What’s going to happen... Albert disappears up the basement stairs. He slams the door behind him. ... to us. JAKE (CONT’D)

He stands alone in the gloomy basement, silhouetted by the light. ‘ -- END ACT ONE --

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