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"Good Neighbors" Written by Timothy Noonan

385 S. Catalina Ave. Apt. 222 Pasadena, CA 91106 (617) 605 - 5028 tnoonan10@netscape.net

1. FADE IN: INT. SUBURBAN HOME -- DAY A Jack Russel Terrier jumps onto the couch in a living room littered with half unpacked moving boxes and proceeds to gnaw happily on an object in its mouth. DAVE AVERY, mid-twenties, enters and stands behind the couch with his cell phone to his ear, trying to end a call. DAVE (into the phone) Okay, Ma...I know, first house is a big deal...No, I won't be lonely...I gotta go...Love you...bye. (to the dog) Ace! He snatches away and examines his compact flash drive. DAVE (CONT'D) I need that for work. He pockets it, digs in a box of computer programming books. DAVE (CONT'D) You need to stop getting into my shit. That's what these are for. He pulls out a rawhide bone and tosses it to him. Ace perks up, jumps down from the couch, and makes a beeline for the front door instead. A second later the DOORBELL rings. FRONT PORCH A man and woman stand on the steps. She sees Ace cradled in Dave's left arm as he opens the door. WOMAN Aww, he's adorable. The man extends his hand, Dave shakes it automatically. Hi. MAN Stanley Mitchell, and Sue.

SUE We're your neighbors. DAVE Oh, nice to meet you, I'm Dave. STANLEY We're actually on our way to church, but we just wanted to stop by and introduce ourselves.

2. SUE And give you these. She hands over a tupperware plate. SUE (CONT'D) They're Rice Krispie Treats. STANLEY I told her it was corny but... DAVE No, no, this is great. Thanks.

Ace begins a low rumbling growl at the 8 year old boy standing behind his parents. The boy squeezes past and jabs Ace in the ribs in a clumsy attempt at petting, the dog recoils with a yelp. Almost instantaneously, Sue reaches out and pulls her son back as Stanley delivers a hard backhand blow to his face. DAVE (CONT'D) Shit! The other three give pause and let out a collective gasp. SUE Please watch the language, he's only 8. Dave looks at the two adults shooting daggers, the boy frozen with blood on his lip. DAVE Uh, sorry, about that. He holds Ace out penitently to the boy, Ace squirms. DAVE (CONT'D) You just need to be more gentle. Would you like to pet him again? The boy doesn't bat an eye. Stanley smiles again.

STANLEY Michael doesn't speak to strangers. DAVE But I'm not a stranger anymore, you can call me Dave. He smiles. The child buries his face into his mother's hip. SUE (cooly) He's selectively mute.

3. Dave just nods. SUE (CONT'D) You can just return the plate when you're done. And without another word she turns and leads her son away. Stanley looks unfazed as he smiles watching them retreat. STANLEY Well, enjoy those. You'll have to come over for dinner sometime. Dave forces a smile and nods. Stanley nods back and turns to join his family. Ace lets out another low growl. INT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- LATER Dave chomps on a Rice Krispie Treat as he waits for his flat screen computer to boot up in the dark. Ace begs for a bite. DAVE Sorry, no sugar for dogs, we've talked about this before... Ace stares up at him longingly. DAVE (CONT'D) Come on, there's some Milk Bones in the kitchen. He gets up as Ace races him out of the room. KITCHEN Dave turns around with a Milk Bone. BACKDOOR Ace spins in circles and scratches to be let out. DAVE (CONT'D) What is up with you today? Dave flips on the flood light as Ace zooms out the door. BACKYARD Ace runs past the arc of light and towards the side fence. He proceeds to growl, then starts barking madly. Dave follows, whispering coarsely. DAVE (CONT'D) Ace! It's 12:30. Ace! Come on. A soft THUD as something hits the ground near the dog. barking stops. Then several more THUDS. The Ace is not there.

4. DAVE (CONT'D) Ace? He reaches the dog, who is happily chomping away at something. Dave reaches down and wrestles it away. He examines it in the dim light - it's a small BONE. Ace starts hacking. Dave goes over and pulls away another bone. He picks up the dog and scoops his finger into Ace's mouth, pulling out a shard. They're chicken bones. As he carries Ace back to his house, he steals a look at the fence and the back porch of his neighbors. A shadowy figure, about 4 feet tall, stands on the porch. Ace hacks again. DAVE (CONT'D) Come on, let's get some water. He looks back, the figure is no longer there. EXT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- MORNING Dave is greeted by Stanley as he hurries down his front walk. STANLEY I was just coming for Sue's plate. What? DAVE I haven't finished them yet.

Stanley looks troubled by this. DAVE (CONT'D) Can't I give you the plate later? STANLEY Hmm. DAVE I don't mean to be rude, but I'm running a bit late to work. Stanley appears to be searching for words. and heads for his car. DAVE (CONT'D) It's my first day, I gotta make a good impression, you know? Stanley doesn't seem to know. Dave gets in the car and waves a goodbye as he drives off. Stanley stares after him. Dave sidesteps

5. EXT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- LATER Dave steps out into his backyard, beer in hand and plops down into a lawn chair in the dusky light. He is startled by the sound of Sue's voice. SUE (O.S.) Hey Dave. She is standing on her back porch looking over with a smile. DAVE Hi. SUE How'd you like the Treats? DAVE Fine, thanks. SUE Well I'll just send Michael over for the plate then. DAVE What? I just got in, I haven't even had dinner yet, couldn't you just SUE Oh, could you put away the beer, he's only 8. Ace's growl alerts Dave that Michael's at his backyard gate. Dave puts his beer behind a flower pot on the ground, Sue smiles sweetly again. DAVE I'll be right back with it. He gets up and goes into the house. KITCHEN Dave grumbles as he retrieves the half eaten plate of treats. DAVE (CONT'D) What is up with these people? He looks around for a place to put the remaining treats, finally settling on the trash. DAVE (CONT'D) Fuck it.

6. He slides them off the plate, turns around, and fumbles it, catching it at the last moment, as he sees Michael standing in his kitchen. DAVE (CONT'D) Woah, buddy, you scared me. You shouldn't creep up. I think your mom would kill me if I broke this plate. Dave smiles. No response from the boy. plate, but the boy just turns to leave. BACKYARD Once outside, the boy takes the plate and exits. back down and retrieves his beer. Dave sits Dave offers the

Sue shoots him the look again, but Dave continues to take a long pull, until the boy is seen climbing the stairs to join his mother. Then he puts it behind his back and waves. DAVE (CONT'D) Have a good night. They go into their house. DAVE (CONT'D) You freaks. He shakes his head and leans back to relax again. Then notices Ace lying in the corner, eating a Rice Krispie Treat. INT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- AFTERNOON Dave listens to classic rock on the radio, doing pushups in his living room as the curtains billow with the gentle breeze. As he finishes his reps the music suddenly dips. He stands up and looks over, starting at Stanley leaning in his window. Jesus. DAVE What are you doing?

STANLEY Hey, sorry but the sound really carries. Dave watches amazed as he removes his hand from the volume. STANLEY (CONT'D) Michael's taking a nap. DAVE You don't just come into my house. STANLEY I didn't, I'm standing outside.

7. DAVE You know what I mean. STANLEY I'm sorry, I just thought you'd want to be a good neighbor. DAVE I do, but STANLEY I mean, the last guy who lived here was just awful...I thought you'd want things to stay good between us. DAVE I do, but... STANLEY Hey, how about coming for dinner tomorrow? Tomorrow...? DAVE I have to work late.

Hurt registers on Stanley's face. STANLEY Well, some other time then. He turns and leaves. Dave goes over and closes the window.

EXT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- AFTERNOON Dave has unloaded a large box from the back of his car. glances over to Michael leaning over his backyard gate. DAVE (to himself) Oh come on. He storms over. BACKYARD Michael is dangling what appears to be a pork chop bone over the gate as Dave approaches. DAVE (CONT'D) Michael. The boy drops it as he bolts up and wheels around, attempting to run away. Dave catches him, gently but firmly. DAVE (CONT'D) You can't keep throwing over food. He leans and looks over the fence. He

8. DAVE (CONT'D) Especially bones. Understand? The boy just stares blankly. DAVE (CONT'D) I know you don't talk, that's okay, but can you nod your head, show me you understand? It's very important, you cannot put any more food over the fence. You could hurt Ace. Do you understand? No response. Dave is getting frustrated.

DAVE (CONT'D) Okay, then we're going to have to go talk to mom and dad. He takes the boy by the hand to lead him, Michael resists. A dark spot appears at the boy's crotch, urine trickles down his leg. Some of it splashes just inches from Dave's own foot. Disgusted, he lets go and the boy takes off. He watches him run home. Sue is looking out a side window, the curtain closes. Dave throws up his hands. DAVE (CONT'D) Fuck it. He goes back to get his box. EXT. DAVE'S BACKYARD -- LATER Dave is potting some flowers as Ace lounges in the shade when Sue steps out onto her porch and looks at the large box standing at the edge of his patio. She steps back in. Dave takes a swig of beer and starts singing along to the radio as Sue reemerges onto the porch, followed by Stanley. She frowns and points, he smiles and starts down the steps. Dave continues to drink and work, enjoying himself in the warm sun until a familiar voice causes his smile to drop. STANLEY (O.S.) Hey there, Sally. Dave sets his jaw and turns around. DAVE What's that? STANLEY Sorry, Miss, I'm looking for my friend. DAVE What are you talking about?

9. STANLEY Dave's a man, so he wouldn't be planting flowers or anything like that. DAVE Are you kidding me? Stanley sputters out a laugh. Dave is not impressed.

DAVE (CONT'D) So what's up? Stanley turns the radio down, and goes over to the box. STANLEY This isn't one of those outdoor fireplaces is it? DAVE Yeah, why? STANLEY They make smoke don't they? Yeah, some. DAVE It's a fireplace.

STANLEY You won't be able to use it. DAVE And why's that? Asthma. What?! STANLEY The smoke'll blow right over, we can't have that. DAVE No, no, we can't have that. STANLEY Good. Good. I'll let you get back to your gardening. And don't forget, dinner some night soon. Exiting, he stops and looks distastefully at the radio. Oh, hey. DAVE Speaking of Michael... STANLEY Michael's got asthma. DAVE

Stanley turns around as Dave approaches.

10. DAVE (CONT'D) Can you tell him to stop throwing table scraps over here? STANLEY Michael's not doing that. DAVE I caught him red handed. STANLEY Naw. DAVE Yeah. I did. He's tossing over chicken bones and shit like that. Stanley's eyes go wide at the cuss word. DAVE (CONT'D) Yeah, shit like that. He's gonna make my dog sick or choke, okay? STANLEY Then he couldn't do all that barking. Dave stops and examines Stanley. DAVE Look, just make sure he stops throwing food over the fence. STANLEY Alright, no more pork chops, got it. He leaves. LATER Dave sits in his chair with his feet up, petting Ace in his lap as he places the last empty bottle beside it's kin. His music is lower and the atmosphere relaxed as he stares into his outdoor chimney glowing in the dusk. DAVE This is the life. He shifts in his chair and chucks a small log into the fire. Suddenly the yard is illuminated with red flashing lights, and the CHIRP CHIRP of a fire engine. DAVE (CONT'D) What the A FIREFIGHTER walks into the yard, stops when he sees the source of fire, and radios to shut down the lights. Dave turns up the radio louder than it was before.

11. DAVE (CONT'D) What's going on? FIREFIGHTER We got a call about a backyard fire. DAVE Isn't this okay? I got it at Lowe's.

FIREFIGHTER Technically, no. You're gonna need a burning permit. And to reposition it 15 feet from the dwelling. (beat) Just put it out and come down during office hours. Dave nods, as he goes for the hose and glances next door. INT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- AFTERNOON Dave smiles as he pulls out a CD from his collection. BACKYARD Dave walks over to the fireplace, now further back from the house, and tosses a log onto the blazing fire. He takes a pile of leaves and tosses them in, creating rich black smoke. He goes over to his CD player and pops in the CD. He turns the dial full blast so that GANGSTER RAP fills the air. The three Mitchells appear on their porch. Dave smiles to himself, sneaking a glance over his shoulder as he picks up another log for the fire. Stanley disappears down his steps. Behind him, an iron rake suddenly appears over the fence and claws at the radio. On the third stroke it catches and pulls it down off its stand and onto the ground. Dave reels around in the silence as Stanley rounds the corner. STANLEY Sorry, just trying to turn it down. Sue smiles broadly from the porch. Now Michael disappears.

Stanley examines the fire, Dave pulls out some paperwork. DAVE I got a permit, asshole. STANLEY What? DAVE I can burn this whenever I want now, and I can make it as smoky as fuck!

12. Stanley looks to his son now at his side. Dave looks too. Michael is dropping more scraps from a napkin into the yard. DAVE (CONT'D) Stop-dropping-shit into my yard! He hucks the chunk of wood towards the gate and hits the boy in the face. He makes the first sound ever heard by Dave, a terrible wailing cry as blood pours from his nose. He runs away, Sue disappearing down the steps to meet him. Dave holds up his hands apologetically. DAVE (CONT'D) That was an accident, I didn't mean it. Stanley scowls, but leaves to check on his son. The family reappears up their back steps and go into the house. The sound of the boy's wailing continues to fill the air. Dave lets out a heavy sigh and cringes in self-reproach. gets the hose and starts to water down the fire. EXT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- MORNING Dave passes the Mitchells' house with Ace. He comes back and takes a few halting steps forward, stopping as Michael appears in the window - his nose swollen and eye bruised then quickly retreats to his own house. INT. TOY STORE -- AFTERNOON Dave holds different action figures in his hands, considering each, then takes them both. He grabs a third in passing. EXT. THE MITCHELL HOUSE -- MORNING Stanley picks up a wrapped box with a ribbon from his porch. He looks over at Dave's house and empty parking spot. EXT. DAVE'S HOUSE -- EVENING Dave gets out of his car and doggedly walks up his walk. STANLEY (O.S.) Dave. Dave can't help but smile as Stanley approaches, but then drops it as the two awkwardly stand face to face. STANLEY (CONT'D) I just wanted to say thank you for the gift, Michael loves them. DAVE Look, I'm real sorry how I acted. He

13. STANLEY Me too, we shouldn't have called the fire department...I'm just protective. DAVE Yeah, I get it, and don't worry I won't light it again. Stanley smiles at this. DAVE (CONT'D) What? He indicates for Dave to follow him. THE MITCHELLS' BACKYARD Sue cuts vegetables at a picnic table next to their own OUTDOOR FIREPLACE as Michael, nearly healed, sits with the action figures and roasts some kabobs in the flames. STANLEY Turns out the smoke doesn't bother him at all. And heck, it looked like you were enjoying it so much... Dave smiles at the irony of it all. STANLEY (CONT'D) How 'bout that dinner now? (softly) I even bought some beers, if you don't mind drinking from a cup. He gestures to the boy. Dave laughs.

DAVE Well, alright, how can I say no now. STANLEY (to Sue) I'm gonna go get us some iced tea. Dave smiles again as he takes a seat at the table. DAVE Can I help with anything? SUE Nope, you're our guest. DAVE Are you sure? She looks at him, her coldness fades away and she smiles. SUE Well, you can toss the salad.

14. He smiles as he starts to work the salad bowl, she exchanges uncooked for cooked kabobs with her son. DAVE Mmm, smells great. She smiles again. SUE So, what do you do for work? He starts to talk about his computer programming job. LATER They all sit around the table eating their salad and kabobs. Stanley gives Dave a silent "cheers" with his red plastic cup as Michael tosses another log into the pit. STANLEY Alright, we don't want to use up all our wood on the first night. Michael grabs his toys and runs off into the house. DAVE So he's okay, then? He's fine. SUE He's real resistant.

DAVE Again, I'm real sorry. Stanley holds up a hand to silence him. STANLEY We're square now. Okay. DAVE And thanks again for dinner.

SUE Was it good, it's a new recipe. DAVE Yeah it was good. SUE Good, looks like you got one more bite left before I can clear the dishes. Dave takes the last bit of meat from the skewer and chews. STANLEY There wasn't much meat on him, but Sue did what she could.

15. Dave talks with a full mouth. DAVE It's gamey, interesting taste. She takes the plates and goes into the house. up and walks over to the fireplace. STANLEY You don't know how much work it was to skin this motherfucker. DAVE Huh? Stanley turns around with a serving plate. There's something crumpled up and folder over on it. It looks like a wad of towels soaking up the excess blood from a slab of meat. He takes the plate and throws it down before Dave. Dave wretches as he stares at the bloodied skin of Ace, stretched out like a miniature bear skin rug with the head intact and dead eyes staring up. Dave spits out his last bite and stands up in horror. He turns to run and is met by a log swung by Sue into his stomach. He doubles over. Michael brings another log crashing down into his skull with a sickening THUD. FADE OUT: FADE IN: EXT. THE MITCHELL HOUSE -- NIGHT It's much darker now, the fire roars as the family sit at the table again, staring into the fire and eating what appears to be ribs. MICHAEL I liked Mr. Avery. Sue and Stanley nod, almost wistfully. He tears off a chunk of meat, chews, and washes it down with a gulp from his cup. He nods again as he licks his fingers clean. STANLEY Yeah, Dave was a good neighbor. He ruffles his son's hair and all three silently watch the flames leap in the fireplace. FADE OUT: THE END Stanley stands

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