Screenplay by Dick Croy
Story by Dick Croy & Henry Burke
9413 Southgate Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45241
INT. DAY - DESKTOP
Circa 1840s. SCENES IN THE HISTORICAL SEQUENCES IN
THIS OTHERWISE CONTEMPORARY STORY MAY BE SHOT FOR AN
“ARCHIVAL” APPEARANCE, PERHAPS IN BLACK & WHITE.
VOICES AND SFX MAY BE SUBTLY MODIFIED TO SUGGEST THEIR
EXISTENCE IN THE PAST. On the dusty, cluttered roll
top desk are an advertising circular for the Vaucluse
Slave Auction and a thick ledger on whose dirty pages
figures are being tallied with a pen of the period.
INT. DAY - STUDY
SOLOMON HARRIS, a lean imposing man in his late 50s,
about six feet tall with a hard, humorless face, is
doing the bookkeeping. He is interrupted by a KNOCK on
(holding his hat)
You wanted me, Mr. Harris?
PORTER is a lanky, bearded, menacing-looking man in
Joo-ly wa'n't the month it should
have been, Mr. Porter. You ain't
gettin' enough work outa yer niggers.
It ain't from not tryin', Mr. Harris.
I got some a the laziest niggers on
God's green earth out there. I –
If slaves liked to work, I wouldn't
need an overseer, Mr. Porter – but
that's not why I called you up here.
Close the door....At the slave
auction next week I intend to sell
Jane's two oldest, if I can get a
decent price for 'em.
But them's two a the best I got!
I expect them to bring close to a
thousand dollars apiece.
But you just told me we're not gettin'
enough work done as it is.
Which is exactly why we need the money
these two will bring, Mr. Porter. I
don't cotton to slave breeding, as you
know – and I don't like losin' good
field hands. But when my overseer can't
get me decent profits outa my tobacco,
I have to cover expenses where I can.
Now, I don't know how they find out,
but they most generally do. You'll
need to watch Alfred and Augustus
real close the next few days.
It's spyin' abolitionist scum tips
Whoever it is, you'd best sleep light
till the auction. I'll be lookin' t'
you if any of my slaves swim the river.
EXT. DUSK - STRIP MINE PIT (THE PRESENT)
It's snowing. Reclamation foreman HARRY BARNES, a
middle-aged black man in coveralls with a hood over a
fur-lined hunting cap, positions his bulldozer at the
end of a line of earth-moving equipment and shuts it
down. He sits still, enjoying the silence of the
falling snow. Looming above and behind him is the
sheer face of a 100-foot “highwall” where coal has
been stripped from the ground.
EXT. DUSK - IN BARNES' MIND
A group of scantily clad runaway slaves, heads down,
struggle forward against the wind and snow.
BACK TO SCENE
A pickup drives up; a LABORER rolls down the window.
A dozer operator ain't paid to
daydream, Harry. Especially with
a blizzard on the way.
Don't you see them?
Those runaway slaves, bent over
against the wind.
Oh, you're on your slavery kick
again huh? Engineer Harry Barnes.
EXT. DUSK - FREEWAY
In the distance, a new black BMW speeds through
falling snow. MAIN TITLES over following scenes.
BARNES (V.O. cont'd)
(in mock solemnity)
...Conductor on the Underground
BACK TO SCENE
(laughing with, not at, Barnes)
Well, git 'em to Canada safely,
Barnes laughs and waves as the man drives off.
INT. DUSK - ANOTHER PICKUP
RADIO (MALE VOICE)
EXT. DUSK - PICKUP
Barnes opens the door of his well-maintained vehicle
and picks up the mic.
This is 302 – go ahead.
Weather advisory. That storm
warning's been upgraded. It's gonna
get there an hour or two sooner and
be a lot worse than they said.
It's already here. I've got my
equipment parked and my people are
all headed home. I figure we'll be
off tomorrow too; whadda you think?
You'll have to call the office in
I'll call, if the lines aren't down,
but there's no way we're gonna be out
here on Saturday if this keeps up.
He hangs up the mic, slides behind the wheel and
starts the engine.
I pity anyone out on the road tonight.
EXT. DUSK - FREEWAY
The black BMW coasts onto the shoulder and stops.
INT. - BMW
RAYMOND POWELL, a funk-fashionably-dressed black
inner-city man in his mid- to late-20s, slams his hand
on the steering wheel.
EXT. DUSK - FREEWAY
Barnes pulls off the highway behind Powell's BMW. He
gets out and walks up to the stalled car, noticing
INSERT - LICENSE PLATE
Powell’s Ohio plate is BADD MF.
EXT. - REAR VIEW MIRROR
Powell watches Barnes approach.
What the fuck you want?
EXT. - POWELL’S CAR
Powell opens the HEAVILY TINTED [important later]
Need a hand?
Yo! what's up wit that man? What's
it look like?
Just tryin' t' help. My buddy has a
filling station up the road a ways.
He's a good mechanic and I'm drivin'
right by there.
Yeah? Well, what am I sposed t' do
with my ride?
He's got a tow truck.
Beside himself with rage and indecision, Powell looks
away, trying to make up his mind.
Look, I don't have all day,there's a
hell of a storm comin'. You can come
along or sit here till you're covered
with snow, it don't matter to me.
Powell climbs out, forcing Barnes to back away, and
slams the door. A big husky man with the size of a
linebacker, Powell stalks to the passenger side of the
pickup, ignoring Barnes.
(walking to driver's side)
Don't slam my door like that.
Powell glares at Barnes with hostility but closes the
door normally as Barnes gets in behind the wheel.
GARAGE & FILLING STATION - INT. DUSK
BOB STANLEY, an intense Anglo, early- to mid-50s with
a southern Ohiah accent, is working on a pickup in the
service area. He calls to his Assistant Mechanic.
Slider! Call me in the morning if
you're not comin' in! Hey – you'd
better stop in the men's room and
take home some a those day-glow
rubbers! We get snowed in, you're
gonna need 'em!
Go ahead, laugh. Nine months from
now you're gonna be workin' for
See ya, Slide – careful out there!
He sticks his head under the hood for a moment, then
calls to his wife in an office off the service area.
Carol, call Bill Clampett and tell
'im his vehicle's about ready, will
ya honey! Tell 'im he better git his
butt in here by five or it's gonna
be here all weekend!
CAROL, a very attractive woman, early-to mid-30s, with
long blond hair and a lean athletic body, appears in
the doorway between office and service area.
I already called him. He said he'll
be here, not t' close up. He's gonna
try t' beat this storm out of town.
(wiping his greasy hands)
Sounds like a losin' proposition to
me. He's already spotted it 50 miles.
He promised his kids he'd spend the
weekend with them.
You'd a felt kinda foolish if I
hadn't a got them front wheel
bearings seated yet.
I knew you'd have it done.
Think you're pretty smart don'cha.
...I know my mechanics.
Yes you do, babe. You sure as hell
know this one well enough.
(walking up to him)
Tell me some more about gettin'
You heard that, did you?
Carol hands him a cigarette which he leaves between
(snuggling up to him)
Bobby, I'm sure customers outside
pumpin' gas heard you. But what I
wanta hear is what we're gonna do
if we get snowed in.
(referring to his coveralls)
Honey, you're gonna get yerself all
(pretending to consider this)
...You mean after I get you all lubed
Yeah, baby, after you get me
(wiping his hands on a rag)
Then we're gonna forget you and me's
He pulls her toward him in a manner at once sensual
yet protective of her clean blouse and jeans. They
kiss as if they haven’t for a while and have forgotten
how good it feels.
(still nuzzling her)
But it ain't quittin' time yet, Honey.
I still gotta get this damn truck out
Course it's not quittin' time – just
the beginning, baby. These are just
Giving her husband a look – this will be continued –
Carol goes back to the office. Stanley returns to his
work until, a moment later, Harry Barnes and Raymond
Powell enter the garage through another door. Powell
is sullen and wary.
Howdy, Mr. Stanley. Brought you a
Harry Barnes – you sonofagun! Haven't
seen you for weeks, and I know damn
well you drive right by here.
I know, I know – long days, Bob. Long
days. This here's Raymond Powell.
Car's broke down just up the highway.
On the interstate?
(when Powell doesn't respond)
Yeah, just a couple a miles from here.
What's wrong with it – ya know?
Just quit runnin'.
What kind is it?
Beamer – M3.
Stanley and Barnes exchange a surreptitious look.
With a new car it's gonna be a fuel,
ignition or electrical problem.
Check it out, dog – I didn't think
it was the tires.
(giving him a look)
...My driver left early, 'count of
the storm. But since you're a friend
a Barnes I'll go pick it up myself.
I knew you'd help him out, Mr.
You picked a good place t' break
down, with this storm comin' up.
Can you hook it up tonight?
Check it out, man – what's it gon'
take t' get it right?
Assuming I can get the part – after I
find out what the hell's wrong with
it – I'd have to charge you extra to
fix this tonight. But I promised my
wife we'd stay home. She wouldn't be
happy about my pullin' an all-nighter
– at any price.
Aw shit, man, I gotta roll on up
outa here. I gotta get back to
Listen, let me get your car first
and see what the hell's wrong with
it. Maybe it won't take long to fix.
(taking pen/notepad from pocket)
What color is it?
Black, what else, man.
What's your license number?
It’s a personalized plate. B-A-D-D...
I'm goin' wit' you, man
Damn right you are.
Listen, if this storm's what they're
expecting, you sure as hell don't
wanta drive to Cleveland tonight.
Glaring ferociously, Powell acts out an exaggerated
pantomime of disbelief at Barnes daring to give an
opinion about what Powell wants. At this moment of
tension among the three men, Carol returns. She has
grease stains on her clothes, face and arms.
I thought I heard you out here,
Well hello, Carol, I didn't see you
in there....Where the hell you been
– in the grease pit?
She and Stanley both laugh somewhat sheepishly at
this, and Barnes gets the drift of their amusement.
Stayin' home tonight huh? What for
– looks like this is as good a place
Now all three of them are laughing, while Powell turns
away in a show of disgust that gets Carol's attention.
Who's your friend, Harry?
Raymond and me don't
from Adam. His car's
Bob's gonna go bring
tow truck. Ray, this
know one another
broke down and
it in with the
Powell gives her a long openly appraising look.
Accepting the challenge, Carol returns the look and
puts a spin of her own on it.
...Glad t' meet you, Raymond.
(displeased, to Powell)
Let's go – I don't have all night.
They exit, with Powell taking one more look at Carol.
So, uh, Carol, how're things with
you an' Bob these days?
(oozing wifely satisfaction)
Ohh, they couldn't be better, Harry!
INT. NIGHT - FILLING STATION OFFICE
Intercut between Barnes and Carol talking and Powell
pacing sullenly, picking up and examining one thing
after another in a contemptuous manner. Unobserved, he
hides something on a shelf.
Did Bob tell you about the
Underground Railroad tour I'm
Harry, Bob doesn't tell me a thing
I don't have to drag out of him.
Yeah, we had a tour for travel
writers back in November. Now the
Tourist and Convention Bureau's
sending out pamphlets to tour bus
Well good for you, Harry! That
Thanks. I'm writin' a column now
too, ya know. In the Register.
Oh yeah, Bob and I read that every
week. One of the few things in the
paper we do read anymore. That and
the drug busts.
Powell’s suddenly alert but tries not to be obvious.
Yeah, the sheriff sure keeps that
chopper busy, don't he? I think I'm
back in Nam sometimes when that damn
thing comes around.
Oh God, don't you and Bob get started
on Vietnam now! If we get snowed in,
that could go on for days.
I promise. The last time, I was hung
over for two days.
So was Bob.
(she shudders melodramatically)
Stanley enters from the garage.
Got some bad news for ya, Raymond.
Someone's put sugar in your gas tank
– fucked up your fuel pump, inside the
tank. Take me five hours, minimum, to
Aw, man! Shit! What's up?
They may have the fuel pump for this
car in Parkersburg, but I'm not sure
I'll be able t' get in here tomorrow
t' fix it.
Tomorrow? Man, I thought you could
hook it up for me tonight!
I don't know what the hell gave you
that idea. I said I'd take a look at
it first and see what was wrong. I
didn't say I'd work on it.
You're welcome t' stay at my place
till it's fixed. We've got a sofa
bed in the living room.
What's it gonna cost t' replace it?
(figuring in his head)
...About $550, parts and labor.
So looka here, man. I'll lay a grand
on you if you hook it up tonight.
Barnes responds with a low whistle.
(glancing at his wife)
Sorry, man; I'm not gonna pull no allnighter on a night like this. Don't
even know if I can get the part.
Oh, Bob. let's give him a hand. I'll
call about the part, and if they have
it, I'll go get it myself, while
you're takin' the old one out.
Stanley gives Carol a withering look.
That's easy as hell for you t' say!
We could sure use the extra money –
we'll probably be closed tomorrow.
Listen, I'll pick up some beer and a
couple a pizzas, and we'll make a
party of it. How about it, Barnesy –
you'll stay for a while won'cha?
Well, whattaya think, Bob? You wanta
work on it tonight or not?
Hell, I guess so – if they've got
the goddamned part.
I'll hafta run your card first, if
that's how you'll be payin'.
Be payin' cash, man.
A momentary hole in the conversation.
...Sure, I'm in the mood t' party.
I'll tell Laurelle not t' wait up.
You realize I may be spendin' the
night here if it snows like they
say it's goin' to.
I wouldn't let you drive home, Harry!
We have this couch here in the office
and the one in the back room folds
down – into the worse bed in the world.
I know, I tried sleepin' on it once
'fore I finally had sense enough t'
pull the mattress off and sleep on
You said you was gonna call about
the part. Where's this Parksburg?
Parkersburg. Back the way you came,
in West Virginia.
(picking up the phone)
It's just across the river, Raymond.
I can get there and back in my 4x4
before the snow gets too bad.
GARAGE - INT. NIGHT
Stanley works on Powell's car while talking to Barnes.
Whoever decided to put the goddamn
fuel pump inside the gas tank on
these Yuppymobiles oughta have his
head examined....By a proctologist,
since it'd have to be up his ass.
Doesn't make much sense does it?
Hell no, it don't make sense! Just
another typical example of why the
average Joe can't work on his own
car anymore. Course no average guy’s
gonna own one a these babies.
Whattaya think of our man Raymond
drivin' a car like this? How many
drugs do ya have to deal in the hood
to tool around in a "Bad Mothafuckah"
takin' orders on your cell?
What kind is what bothers me.
Well ya know what kind. Recreational
hemp's at the bottom of the totem
pole. Crack mostly...probably a
little heroin and meth...
Psychedelics...been a while since I
tasted any a that strange fruit.
That it has, bro – if it hasn't been
since the last time we indulged.
It hasn't been – you know it hasn't,
Where's he at now?
Raymond? I think he's asleep in there
on the couch.
You think he might be bringin' drugs
up from the South? Miami maybe?
Possible. I wouldn't go lookin' for
'em though, would you?
What am I, Harry – dumb, or a cop
with a search warrant?
Neither, that I know of.
Well, I'm not about t' go messin'
with the guy's car, other than fixin'
it – and he's damn lucky I'm doin'
that. You saw the look he gave Carol.
Yeah – I was already sorry I brought
him here. Nothin' but hostility from
him since we laid eyes on each other.
But you can't just leave someone
stranded like that.
I think the dude's trouble.
Aw, not here in our neck of the woods
he's not. He's out of his element.
That's why I stopped for him.
He's a pitiful case all right, drivin'
around in a brand new $50,000 car, or
whatever the hell these things cost.
Well, I don't think I'd particularly
like to run into him and his buddies
in Cleveland, but I don't feel
threatened by him here.
He's just got me a little on edge is
all. You know Carol's background.
She can handle herself. She's been
around guys like Raymond before.
Yeah, you're right, man. And she's
right about one thing: a thousand
bucks is a lot on a night when we
thought we were gonna have to close
early. I guess maybe we should
celebrate a little.
Now you're talkin'! Carol'll be back
with the beer pretty soon. All we
need is some good weed and we could
wait out the storm in fine shape.
I think that can be arranged.
You got some?
Harry...does a fuck feel better than
hemorrhoids? On that shelf over there
above the tires. In the coffee can.
EXT. NIGHT - CARRY OUT
Carol walks through heavy snow with three large pizza
boxes, which she places in back of her 4x4 on a case
of beer. Except for its excitement, the look on her
face is as hard to read as it is compelling.
INT. NIGHT - GARAGE OFFICE
Powell sits on the couch, glowering at Barnes, who’s
having a one-sided (somewhat stoned) heart-to-heart
He's goin' t' town in there, Raymond.
By the time Carol gets back with a new
pump, he should be ready to put it in.
...She's late though. Guess the snow
must be foulin' up traffic. Probably
even worse north of here.
(Powell has nothing to say.)
...Ya know, Raymond, just because I
picked you up doesn't mean I expect you
t' be overflowing with gratitude. But
it would be nice if we could carry on
some kind of conversation since we're
going to be stuck here for a while.
What the hell you an' me have to say
to each other?
Our experience of life. It's a better
education than school or books.
What I know 'bout life I ain't about t'
tell you. And I don't give a fuck what
you have t' say about it.
Well, that's a direct answer anyway.
That's a start.
That ain't the start a nothin', ol'
man. That's the end.
...Well then, I'll carry the ball
myself, since I've got such a good
audience....There's so damn many
things people your age know nothing
about, Raymond. That are part of your
heritage. Black history – what do you
know about the Underground Railroad?
About as much as you know about black
reality. Outside a Hooterville.
Is that right? Well, there's some real
lessons in the things that happened
around here a hundred and fifty years
ago. I could tell you stories...well,
one in particular is as good as
anything you'll see in the movies. And
it's all true – happened right here
where your car broke down.
Powell waves an arm dismissively in Barnes' direction.
Barnes takes a deep breath and appears to will himself
to continue. Maybe he's not as stoned as he seems.
Back then, it was dangerous enough for
an able-bodied man, responsible for no
one but himself, to try to escape from
slavery. Bounty hunters, wild animals,
and the wilderness all lay between
fugitives and Canada.
EXT. NIGHT – RIVERBANK – (FLASHBACK)
JANE and her seven children suddenly appear atop the
riverbank and come sliding down to the water's edge,
where JOSEPHUS, a wiry old slave of indiscriminate
age, waits for them in a rowboat. ALFRED, 25, a big,
strapping, good-looking man, helps his mother, Jane,
into the boat. She’s a pleasant-faced, heavy-set woman
in her early 50's. Weariness, strength and dignity are
all apparent in her face and bearing.
BARNES (cont'd, V.O.)
Think what it must have been like,
then, for a woman with seven children!
They crossed the Ohio River in an
overloaded rowboat just a few miles
from where you did this afternoon.
One humid foggy night in August, 1843
– from a tobacco plantation in what
was then western Virginia.
How we all gwine fit?
Makin' two trips t'night. Pray de Lawd
no one be missin' you fo a while.
He no sooner says this than we HEAR the baying of
Git in, git in! Dey comin'!
Hold on! You cain't all go!
But the panicky slaves ignore his protests and clamber
aboard, dangerously rocking the boat. Many of their
bundles are dropped on the riverbank or in the water.
Damn fools! You all gwine drown!
No we ain't – we gwine make it to de
other side! Row, niggah! You chirren
bail wid yo hands! Like dis! Bail!
The foundering boat wallows away from shore into the
swift current, which begins to pull it downstream. The
BAYING of the dogs is getting louder; the SHOUTS of
men can be heard. As the boat disappears in the fog...
RIVERBANK – (FLASHBACK)
...Solomon Harris, his overseer, and two loyal SLAVES
slide down the slippery clay bank to the water.
Come back here, you fool niggers
'fore you all drown!
Cursing, he fires his flintlock rifle into the fog.
ROWBOAT - (FLASHBACK)
still taking on water, is nearly swamped when all
aboard duck reflexively. CAROLINE, 23, Jane's eldest
daughter, an attractive big-boned, and pregnant,
woman, cries out. Her brother AUGUSTUS, 16, who bears
a resemblance to Alfred, tries to reassure her.
Ohh, now we in trouble!
Don't you worry none, Sis. Massa
wouldn't aim t' hit us iffen he
could see us. We too valu'ble.
Silence, broken only by the scraping of oars against
oarlocks and Josephus's grunts and labored breathing
as he struggles to pull the boat through the water.
Jane is the first to speak.
Don' be rockin' de boat!
Bail an' don' rock de boat!
Her children respond to Jane's command, bailing with
hats or hands as Josephus strains at the oars. FANNY,
9, the youngest of Jane's three daughters, is somber
beyond her years, with vacant, haunting eyes. HENRY,
12, is a compact, muscular boy. His brother THORNTON,
13, is more lithe and graceful, with artistic
features. RACHEL, 22, slight and beautiful, favors
Thornton more than she does Caroline.
I think it's workin'! Don' you
Sho it's workin'! We lucky de rivah
be calm tonight.
Well don' stop! Keep chuckin' dat
RIVERBANK – (FLASHBACK)
Git the bloodhounds, Porter. We'll
take the ferry.
(avoiding eye contact)
Yessir, Mr. Harris.
Dey won' git away, Massa.
I'm gonna sell the whole damn lot of
'em at the auction. They won't last
long cuttin' cane down south.
ROWBOAT – LATER – (FLASHBACK)
How wide is dis rivah?
Seem like we been on it fo hours.
Whole lot better'n bein' under it,
What you think, Josephus?
Current say we nearly dere. Hear
We HEAR water lapping against the...
RIVERBANK – (FLASHBACK)
...on the Ohio side, coming into view through the fog.
ROWBOAT – (FLASHBACK)
Praise de Lawd!
INT. NIGHT - GARAGE OFFICE
There appears to be just a glimmer of interest in
Raymond Powell's eyes now, although he isn't about to
let Barnes see it.
The man who rowed Jane’s family
across was a slave himself, named
Josephus, from another plantation
right across the Ohio from where we
are now. Josephus never tried to
escape himself – too busy helpin’
others, I guess. We know they made
Barnes points to an historical reward poster on the
wall. (Beside it is the illustration of a black man
dressed in the clothes of the 1840s, which will be
INSERT - REWARD POSTER
BARNES (cont'd V.O.)
That’s a copy of the reward poster
Solomon Harris posted for them. You
see what the reward was, Raymond?
BACK TO SCENE
Four hundred and fifty bucks doesn't
sound like much today, but back then
it was as much as some farmers around
here made in a year.
Carol sweeps in with the pizzas and a new fuel pump.
It's terrible out there! Cars all
over the highway. Trucks jackknifed
...you can forget about going back
to Cleveland tonight, Raymond;
they've closed the Interstate.
Powell stands abruptly, throwing up his arms in anger.
That's what I figured would happen.
Is there beer in the car?
Sure is. Thanks, Harry.
Barnes walks over to the open door to the service area
and calls to Barnes.
Bob, get yer ass in here and take a
break! He can't leave tonight anyway,
the freeway's closed!
He grins at Carol and exits.
You might as well loosen up; it's gonna
be a long night any way you look at it.
Powell gives her a look that is at once cool and
I don't know what kinda scene you're
conjurin' up behind those angry eyes
of yours, Raymond, but if it's some
kinda male fantasy, things aren't
gonna get that far outa hand.
Check it out, bitch – don't be tryin'
t' read me!
(coolly after a pause)
...Fair enough. But don't you be
callin' me names; it's Carol. Carol
...Yeah. All right. Carol it is.
Barnes enters with the case of beer, and Stanley
strolls in, wiping his hands with a shop rag.
Already startin' to drift out there.
There he is! Have a beer, Mr. Stanley.
Pop one a them pizzas in the microwave,
Honey – I'm starved. Don't mind if I do,
Harry. I'm dryer'n a cottonmouth.
You two been into the coffee can?
To paraphrase your husband, Carol: does
mmm hmm hmm feel better than hemorrhoids?
I guess I can figure out what mmm hmm
hmm stands for. But I'm not sure I
remember whether it's true or not.
Barnes laughs, but Stanley is unamused by the remark.
No one's memory's that bad, Carol,
not even mine.
(putting pizza in microwave)
Smokin' that homegrown's not gonna
improve it any.
(opening a beer, to Stanley)
Oh, well, that's not why I smoke it
anyway. D'you ever hear of anyone
smokin' weed to improve their memory?
(opening one himself)
Spare us from the judgments of the
Don't you smoke anymore, Carol?
Oh, a little. Bob would like me to
get stoned every time he does,
that's all. Wouldn't ya, honey?
That's bullshit and you know it.
She's gettin' to be a real straight
arrow, Harry. Before long she'll be
too good t' drink with us.
He gives his wife a look of affectionate annoyance.
Hey, who went out and braved the
blizzard to bring back the beer?
(toasting her with his beer)
You did. I say we drink to Ms.
Stanley's indomitable spirit and
(raising his own can)
I'll see that and raise it: to her
husband's willingness to sacrifice a
snowbound evening at home, for the
sake of a stranded motorist – and a
little extra spendin' money, at his
You oughta be part of this toast.
Don't you want a beer?
...Yeah, that's straight, man.
Yeah, drink up, Raymond. That's part
of the service here at Stanley's
Barnes hands him a beer. There's an awkward silence.
...So tell us, Raymond: what's it
like in Cleveland these days?
Now that the Cuyahoga River's no
longer a fire hazard.
Barnes and Carol laugh.
Nothin' much t' tell. People takin'
care a their own. Protectin' their
own little piece a turf, their fistsize chunk of the American dream.
The others look at one another; Barnes takes a sort of
proprietary pride in Powell’s opening up a little.
...Business as usual, in other words.
The hostility in Powell's icy stare has been replaced
by an expression of mild but obvious contempt.
That's a lot easier to do out here in
the sticks. Protectin' your backside.
Lotta trees t' hide behind.
What Carol wants you t' know is that,
unlike Barnes and me here, she wasn't
born a hick, she just married one.
Carol gives her husband a look of amused exasperation.
Bob's a little sensitive about his
roots, but he's seen more of the
world than I have.
Courtesy of Ho Chi Minh and the U.S.
Don't forget Nixon, Johnson and
...I'm sure as hell tryin' to, Harry!
You a city girl?
So, what's up wit dis? Why you
You must not a heard what I said. I
got tired of bein' meat in the midst
of predators. Livin' on the edge...not
can you meet the rent or make the
mortgage payment. I'm talkin': Is this
the night the city sucks my blood out?
Wonderin', every minute you're alive –
or half-alive – not could it happen,
but when's it going to happen? I don't
need that kind of existence, Raymond.
I'd rather be a hick any day.
Standing behind her, Stanley puts his arm around
Carol, who has become somewhat emotional.
Bob and I grew up here but didn't
really know each other till we served
in Nam together. Livin' in the
country's not like Gilligan's Island.
People are movin' out here from the
city – cities all over the country –
all the time.
Hey that's cool, man – I'm down wit
dat. Just tryin' t' get my ride hooked
up and book. Get on up outa here.
Back among the predators.
EXT. NIGHT - RIVERBANK - (FLASHBACK)
Jane’s family walk stealthily in the fog. The sound of
FROGS and INSECTS. Suddenly a gleam of light ahead.
...Jane’s family made it into the free
state of Ohio all right – but they
sure as hell weren't out of danger.
The Fugitive Slave Law gave slaveholders the right to reclaim runaway
slaves. And bounty hunters made a
living out of helping them do it.
Dere's de light! I see de light, Mama!
Alfred hoots owl-like; the light moves back and forth.
Dat be him!
Jane and her family are soon face to face with DAVID
PUTNAM, JR., a tall lean man in his mid-30s holding a
lantern. His eyes widen when he sees the number, and
youth, of the fugitives.
I didn't know there'd be so many.
Follow me – and beee qui-et.
In single file, Putnam leads the family on a dizzying
trip through the fog to a...
WAGON - (FLASHBACK)
...to which two big draft horses are hitched.
Women inside. You'll make your first
stop just before daylight. They'll
feed and hide you till dark.
Jane and her three daughters clamber in beneath a
heavy piece of canvas. The Driver gives the reins a
shake and, with the four brothers following on foot,
they set off.
INT. NIGHT - GARAGE OFFICE
Two hours after the previous scene. All three men are
showing the results of their drinking and smoking, but
Carol appears relatively unaffected.
Okay, I'm gonna lay it out for ya,
Raymond, so you can see just how
fucked our whole position was over
there. No one's ever gonna really
understand who wasn't there – are
Bob's right – you really had to be
there. I –
See, here we are, just over this ridge
from where the VC are assembling a
small strike force. The Vietcong know
we're there, and we know we've gotta
hit 'em before they get too much
firepower, but our platoon leader's
this young Ivy League prick who's been
in country for...what, Harry, two
If that. He –
He thinks we're all just a bunch of
fuckoffs anyway – which is true, but
he thinks it's because we don't have
the fuckin' intelligence to be good
soldiers. But we can see this dumb
shit lacks the experience and common
sense to keep himself alive until his
tour is up, let alone a platoon
unfortunate enough to be under his
(pardon the expression) command.
Command. This dweeb couldn't persuade
his bowels to move, and he's tryin' t'
get us up on that ridge, where we're
gonna stand out like fuckin' duck
silhouettes in a shootin' gallery.
And you wanta know why? I'm not
talkin' about sweeping over the ridge
to confront 'em. No way, man, that
wasn't Princeton's – that's what we
called him – that wasn't Princeton's
idea at all. See, he'd called in an air
strike, and he wanted us up there to
draw Charlie's fire! We were supposed
to pin 'em down and hold 'em there till
the Air Cav came in and deep-fried the
motherfuckers. Ain't that the way it
happened, Harry? And that was your
typical combat situation. That's the
kinda bullshit that was goin' down all
What Bob didn't mention...we did
end up engaging the VC, and I caught
some shrapnel. I'm layin' there tryin'
to figure out where the hell I am and
what happened. Next thing I know,
there's Stanley in my face, tellin' me
he's gonna get me back across the ridge.
I thought he said "bridge."
I figured we must be in some kinda
enemy territory, and we had to cross
a bridge to safety on the other side.
So I'm layin' there tryin' to figure
out what bridge he's talkin' about.
The only one that comes to mind is the
Ohio River bridge here in Marietta. We
have to cross it into Ohio, and
Stanley's gonna carry me.
Both men and Carol have been subdued by this oftentold war story, and Powell is engrossed now as well.
He slung me ‘cross his back, and I
could feel these...
(gesturing, bullet sounds)
...whizzin' past us – I still had no
idea where we were or who was shootin'
at us, but I sure as hell knew they
was bullets...anyway, he got me back
across that ridge – not bridge – and
laid me down real gently – I still
remember that. Not more than, I don't
know, two or three minutes later, the
Air Cav came in and turned the whole
side of that mountain – the other side
– into an inferno. If I'd still been
over there I'd a been burnt to a crisp.
A pause as Barnes and Stanley cover up their emotional
response to the story, with a swig of beer, etc.
...Harry'd a done the same for me.
Hell, there was lots a guys either
one of us would a done it for.
And others, with stripes, people
were lookin' t' do it to.
They were as much the enemy as the
Vietcong, some of 'em.
Now, I never personally witnessed any
type of fragging incident myself, but
I heard about some second-hand, which
I was never able to verify.
But you know some a those were
definitely unfriendly fire, Harry.
Even if it was an enemy weapon that
wasted 'em, you never knew whose hands
it was in when it was fired.
I'm sure some of 'em were, but there
were other cases, of officers killed
in the field, where I think someone
just wanted a bad rep. It was easy
enough to take credit, if that's the
right word for it. No VC's gonna
dispute the matter with you, right?
I still find it hard to believe that
kind of thing could happen – that
discipline could break down that much,
without there being more of an outcry,
or consequences of some kind.
Oh, there were consequences. They
ended the draft, for one thing.
That was a break for you.
Shit, the man's army wouldn't go mess
wit me. The po-lice-man done already
knocked me down. Got a fat rap sheet.
That's one way a stayin' out.
Stayin' alive. Where I grew up it was
either be bad or be lookin' over your
shoulder the minute you stepped
Like you said: you either the predator
or the prey.
So what's it like, Raymond, livin' that
way. Harry and I were able t' leave Nam.
It is like a battlefield, man. Not
exactly kill or be killed – not usually.
But as long as I can remember, I fell
asleep listenin' to the sound a
gunshots most nights.
Random shots or real gunfights?
Both, man. Ever so often someone be
killed or crippled by one a those
shots – random or otherwise. Little
girl lived in the place below us when
I was ten or so got shot through the
eye. Been a vegetable in an
institution somewhere ever since.
I don't mean it’s not dangerous. I
know it is. I've been to reunions in
Youngstown where I felt uncomfortable
around some of my own family.
Yeah, I'll bet you do.
I can't even talk to my nephews. It's
It's like a third-world country. Like
living in an American colony, the
whole "company sto" trip. All you are
is a market, for over-priced crap.
Bread and a gallon of milk cost twice
as much as they do in a supermarket in
the burbs, and they're liable to be
bad. Most things you can't even find.
I was lucky, I was able to get out;
most people can't.
Where you crib at in Philly?
Powelton Village in West Philly.
You never heard of MOVE? Where the
cops dropped a bomb on a house and
burned down a whole neighborhood?
Carol replies more to her husband than to Powell.
And killed 11 people – five of them
Yeah, yeah, I heard sump'n 'bout
that when I was a kid.
About...when was it? Mid-'80s.
But it started a lot earlier than that,
thanks to Rizzo – a police chief who
became mayor; under him police
brutality to blacks was city policy.
The cops harassed this cult called
MOVE – M-O-V-E, I don't remember what
the initials stood for – till there
was a shootout and a cop was killed.
A bunch of the MOVE people went to
prison and the city bulldozed their
house, so the survivors moved to Osage
Avenue – just down the street from me.
So you was part of all that?
Displeased that her husband introduced the subject,
Carol is becoming angrier the longer they continue
talking about it. She gives Stanley a withering look.
...I was living in the neighborhood,
that's all. We weren't happy with the
MOVE people either – they were pretty
radical. But the city was a lot worse:
first they evacuated us and surrounded
MOVE'S house, then dropped explosives
on it and killed all those people. By
the time it was over, they'd burned
down two city blocks. And no public
official was ever charged – with
You'd a thought police would have
learned something. Then comes Waco.
Who'd a thought? Some fool!
Stanley glares at him.
Anyway, that part of my life's over
and done with. I don't like to talk
about it, and I try not to think
The effects of the beer and marijuana on Stanley have
become increasingly apparent.
Oh hell, Carol, I just thought this
was the kinda thing he'd be interested
in hearin' about. It's not like you
was crim'ly involved or anything –
Shut up, Bob!
Well 'scuse me! Jesus Christ, we're
touchy all of a sudden.
I've asked you before not to bring this
up, but you never pay any attention!
She has, Bob. I've heard her myself.
She's just – you can understand why
someone who's been through that
wouldn't want to –
I'm not sure he can understand it. He
sure as hell doesn't act like it.
Jesus Christ, they're gangin' up on me.
...How 'bout you, Raymond? You wanta
take a swing too?
I'm stayin' outa this.
That's good – I'd hate t' have all of
you on my case. I'm sorry I ever
fuckin' brought it up. Okay?
There's no reason to get nasty about
it, Bob. Just...leave it alone.
Nasty? Who the fuck's gettin' nasty?
He's just tired. Been a long day,
with Raymond's –
I don't need you t' stick up for me,
I know you don't, I was just –
Fuckin' patronizing me's, what you
were doin'. I can take care of my own
problems. I can sure as hell have a
conversation with my wife, without
someone having to fuckin' interpret
Harry was just tryin' to be helpful,
Bob. For Christ's sake – get a grip!
(confused and contrite)
...Yeah, I know you were, Harry. I
guess...maybe I do need t' call it a
night. Christ, can't even party anymore.
Hell, you been workin' for 12 hours.
Time to get some rest, that's all. I'm
...Well, I'm gonna hit the hay. Carol
will show you where t' sleep when
you're ready to turn in, Raymond. I'll
have your car ready in the morning.
Take it easy, Bud. See ya in the a.m.
Stanley exits and the other three remain silent for a
moment, just looking at one another.
...He's just tired is all.
EXT. NIGHT - SERVICE STATION
Snow falls thickly, piling up around the building.
EXT. DAWN – FARM - (FLASHBACK)
Jane and her family arrive at the Jewett Palmer
Station on the Underground Railroad.
Where the hell you been? It's nearly
Couldn't find 'em in the fog; we was
late gittin' started.
The Driver climbs down as Palmer pulls the canvas off
Jane and her daughters, and Henry, all of them asleep,
though Jane is wide awake and exhausted-looking.
Wake up y'all, we here.
They awake with protests, then with fear.
EXT. DAWN – FARMHOUSE - (FLASHBACK)
MRS. PALMER, a middle-aged woman with a ready smile,
emerges with a large wicker basket of food covered
with a cloth.
Land sakes, you folks look exhausted
– and I'll bet you're hungry too.
C'mon with me; we have a place all
set up in the barn for you to eat.
They enter the...
INT. - BARN - (FLASHBACK)
...where a blanket has been spread out on a thick
layer of fresh straw. Mrs. Palmer hands Jane the
basket with a warm smile. Rachel takes it from her,
and she and Caroline distribute food and utensils.
It's not fancy, but I bet it'll fill
Thankee kindly, Mizz.
When you're through eating, Mr. Palmer
will be out t' hide you 'round the
farm. You'll have all day to sleep –
looks like you could use it.
Yes'm. Mah boys sho can – dey done
walk all night.
'Cept for Mama's shadow – he slept
wiff de girls.
Did not! Just restin'.
How many more nights we gwine hafta
walk like dat, Mama?
Lots mo, Thornton, best git used to
Don' rightly know, son.
She looks inquiringly to Mrs. Palmer.
It'll probably be about three weeks
before you get to Canada.
No one else says anything, but it's obvious that
they're all disheartened by the information.
(after a pause)
What you spose Canada be like,
Cold for one thing. I hear tell it
snow dere all de time in de winter.
Ohh, dat be nice.
Nice an' cold.
Mama says we be free in Canada.
...What dat be like – free?
Mean we live like white folks.
Nobody tell us what t' do.
...We can do anything we wants?
...We can eats meat, an' weah fine
clo's, an' go t' church?
No one say we cain't. No one tell us
we gots t' work all de time – who we
gots t' live with. Cain't sell us t'
no one, take us away from our fam'ly.
Fanny’s look of anticipation contrasts with sadness on
Jane’s face, and in Rachel's manner as she recites
this litany of freedoms she has never experienced.
EXT. NIGHT - SERVICE STATION
Still falling, the snow is deeper than before.
INT. NIGHT - GARAGE OFFICE
Barnes, too, has gone to bed. The gradual arc of
Powell's increasing relaxation among his rescuers has
reached its zenith now that he's alone with Carol.
...This shit is wack. You grew up in
Philly, and now you chillin' out here
in the hills?
Some change huh? What about you?
Will you be content to live in
Cleveland the rest of your life?
Content? I ain't sayin' it's all that,
but my life's a helluva lot better'n
the way most a my homeboys live. I
schooled a few people 'long the way –
that thought I'd end up like my old
man. See, I'm learnin' how the big
game works, the game that drives all
the little games on the street. I
can see through all the scams and
the bullshit the people downtown put
down to hide the way things really
work. I can see past all that lowlife
retail hustle, and street muscle,
"distribution channels" that are
nothin' but someone's ideas hammered
into a buncha people's heads. Know
what I'm sayin'? I got ideas...no
reason Raymond Powell can't be one a
the big men downtown.
A man with a mission.
Yeah, you could say that. Man with a
plan....I got a feeling you really
know what I'm talkin' about. That's
unusual, comin' from a woman as good
lookin' as you are.
Oh? What's so unusual about it?
Most people start out thinkin' you're
gonna bullshit 'em, no matter what.
You start talkin' ideas at 'em, how
you can see behind things, things
can be done better – now they know
you're a fool, right? But the real
fool's the one who calls a blood a
fool just because he can't see, know
what I'm sayin'? Too damn lazy even t'
look. Content? No, I ain't content,
because there's always a better way.
You know there is when you see how
fucked up things is. Once you see
what "average" means, that's when
you know you the predator. You the
lion – the "average" man's the sheep.
And see, I'm not talkin'...
...street muscle, street smarts. I'm
talkin' downtown. Man who don't have
to lift a finger because he already
made that move in his mind. Let
someone else, who can't do nothin'
else, be the muscle an' do the hustle.
I'm impressed. So you avoid all that
gang violence – that used to keep me
awake at nights?
I stay away from it if I can. But,
hey, I'm the one doin' all the talkin'.
Tell me about this neighborhood you
cribbed at in Philly.
Now, I'm not axin' you 'bout that
MOVE shit – you don't have t' tell me
nothin' you don't feel like talkin'
'bout. But you seem like you know
what's up, what it's all about.
...I lived with a musician, half a
block up from the MOVE house.
(she shakes her head)
You know, it was a black mayor who
gave the okay to drop the bomb – the
guy who followed Rizzo. I could
never figure that out.
Don't surprise me none. What I was
talkin' 'bout: downtown shit. Ain't
the way things sposed t' be, way
they appears t' be. It's the way
they is. Musician huh?
Tenor sax. Beautiful man. Big...
muscles that had been around a while
...with this cute little pot belly.
Too much a the good life....About
six-three, 230 pounds, somethin'
like that. Anyway, that's the way
his tenor sounded. Big, but round.
A little like Sonny Rollins, only
Leonard was better.
Leonard huh?...What went down?
(brusque, not quite bitter)
Whaddaya think? First it was the fire
– wiped out everything we had, that
meant anything to us. Then it was the
– actually the drugs had already
started, but they were under control.
...Leonard had it all under control
there for a while. The city rebuilt
the houses, but we were lonnng gone
by then. We were history.
But how the hell'd you end up here?
Oh, that's a long story, Raymond –
long story. Too long, when I think
about it, cause it ages me, in more
ways than one. So I don't think about
it, or talk about it. Except for the
good parts – like Bobby. Bobby's the
Your mechanic. My husband.
No shit? Damn, it don't seem like
y'all got nothin' goin' on.
Appearances – remember? He gripes the
shit outa me at times. And maybe I do
him too, but I wouldn't know why.
(with mock innocence).
He's the one helped me turn my life
Then what's all this shit 'bout not
rememberin' how good sex feels an all?
I don't know why I said that. I mean
even if it were true.
Is it true?
Let me ask you something.
If you're so set on making something
of your life, bein' the "man downtown"
and all, why the hell are you caught
up in dealin' drugs? Hard drugs are
what destroyed Leonard. First his
dreams, then his life. That's a
helluva thing to just...throw away,
Raymond. I came awful close t' goin'
down with him.
Why the hell you so sure I'm winnin'?
Dealin' – winnin'.
Oh come on, Raymond. We may be
(a cretinous expression)
...but we ain't dumb. You didn't
buy that car baggin' groceries.
...How else you think a man like me's
gonna make it? I got friends that are
baggin' groceries! Well, not really.
But you the predator.
(in response to him)
I'm not makin' fun of you, Raymond –
I'm just sendin' back what you're
puttin' out there. I know the drug
business – believe me, I know it too
I'm sure nothing's changed much in
the last ten years. I know how likely
it is you'll ever reach 30 dealin'
crack. And so do you if you'll admit
it. "How else" can you make it? What
a load a crap that is! Even "average"
people make it outa the hood, Raymond;
I know people who did. People you'd
call average who are heroic to me. If
you're so set on going all the way
"downtown," there are better ways to
get there that won't get you killed.
(jumping up from the couch)
She-it! Why am I sittin' here listenin'
(lighting a cigarette)
...You tell me.
You think just cause you lived with
some nigger in Philly for a while,
that makes you some kind of expert on
the black man's problems! That don't
mean shit, sister! You think you can
get inside my skin jus' cause he got
inside a you?
I'm no expert in anything, Raymond –
except maybe misery, and, I'll admit,
that was my own. I'm just sittin' here
talkin' t' this beautiful, angry young
man whose path happened to cross mine.
I'm just tellin' you what I've seen in
life. What I think.
That's right. What you think and what
I think are two different things
He sits back down; there is a pause as they appraise
...Whaddaya do when you're not
working? When you're not out there
makin' your first mil?
...I got other shit t' do....I get
That was the only thing kept me in
school. That and Moms. I'm all she
has now, and she can be sump'n
fierce when she wants to. Yeah, in
middle school I got a scholarship
from the Art Museum for their
Saturday classes. That got me into
it – sittin' right there on the
floor where they got that big Monet,
“Water Lilies". Doin' water Monet's
way – then doin' it my way. I won
some prizes here an' there.
That's great, Raymond! I'm afraid I'm
pretty ignorant when it comes to art.
Never seem to have time since I
dropped outa community college.
That's too bad. I'd love to see some
of your work.
Hey, I'd like t' show ya. Most people
don't get it, man. I don't give a
shit – don't mean nuttin' now anyway.
The art or the criticism.
Both. This the real world we're
talkin' 'bout now....You never
answered my question.
...Which question was that?
What's up wit this talkin' 'bout
you been married so long you don't
remember how good knockin' boots
...Why? Are you good in bed, Raymond?
Why you always wanta answer a question
with a question? You want my opinion,
or the opinion of the women I make
In my opinion, my thang is right:
slow...hard...marathon man – no
sprinter beneath the sheets.
Carol laughs delightedly at Raymond's almost selfmocking straight-forwardness.
And what do your women – no, what
do your lovers think?
They think it's tight. I ain't tryin'
t' sound like I'm all that, but
that's what they all tell me. I sure
don't have t' sweet-talk 'em into bed.
I can believe that. I'm sure you're
quite the man in bed.
So, you wanta find out?
I thought you'd never ask. Just
kidding, Raymond. Another time and
place...who knows? I used to go by
the philosophy that what you don't
know won't hurt you. But that's a
little out-dated now, isn't it.
Well AIDS, for one thing.
Shit, I carry love gloves – the best.
That's not the only reason though,
Raymond. Bobby's out for the night, I
know him well enough. But Harry could
walk in here any minute, I don't know
what the hell his sleeping habits are
like. Listen, I hope I haven't been
leading you on, that wasn't my
intention. I'm attracted, I admit –
sex with you might be great. It's just
not in the cards.
Sure it would be great. It would be
down, baby. Know what I'm sayin'?
Somethin' you an' me would remember
for a long time.
(her look a compliment)
...You've never been with a girl for
a long time, Raymond. You couldn't
have, you're too young. That's the
missing part of your resume: still
good 10 years later. It's hard making
a long relationship work. Real hard.
And hard work means passing up even
the lay of a lifetime if it threatens
your marriage. That's what I'd be
gambling: something I wouldn't even
think of doing. See, that's one thing
I've learned: to stop and think. You
need to learn it too, if you're really
goin' downtown – and I believe you
will. I believe you can.
...I don't get turned down too often.
I'm sure you can make a woman feel
realll good. I'll bet your mama's
given you a lot of love hasn't she?
Why you say that?
You're good with women – even if you
are just out to score.
Then why you holdin' out? How you gon'
play me?...This ain't just some kinda
reverse psychology shit is it?
No, it's not some kind of psychology,
Raymond. It's the hard truth.
Then why the hell we sittin' here
talkin' like this?
Why? Why not? I like you. You
remind me of my wild past.
Wild past. Didn't anyone ever tell
you 'bout livin' in the present?
Livin' in the "now"?
That's what we're doing. We're
just not fucking in the now.
And that's what the fuckin'
He yanks her from the couch and pulls her against him.
You're just playin' hard t' get,
Carol goes cold and lifeless in Raymond's enforced
embrace – which at first just provokes him. He spins
her abruptly with his left hand, so her back is
against him, and gropes her crotch with the right;
then forces her head back with the left again, kissing
her hard on the lips. She neither resists nor gives
in, and he finally pushes her away angrily.
What kinda bitch are you, you
Carol regains her poise almost instantly – although
far from effortlessly, but Raymond, his desire
frustrated, fails to see how shaken she is.
...That don't play on this channel,
What the fuck's that sposed t' mean?
It means I learned the difference
Between sex and rape when I was a
helluva lot younger than you are –
that's what it means. It means I got
no confusion about that at all – and
no tolerance for men who do.
Ain't you the tough-talkin' bitch
all of a sudden.
Then you ain’t been listening!
I heard every fuckin' word you said.
You're the one ain't listenin'. I
keep talkin' about wantin' you and
you gimme these smart-ass answers
like I'm just playin’ games. Ain't
no game far as I'm concerned.
And that's another reason I probably
wouldn't have ended up in bed with
you, married or not.
(shaking his head)
What a fuckin' waste.
There can be other things between a
man and a woman than sex, Raymond. I
hate to see a bright young man like
you waste his life. You young black
studs talk like you've got no choice
but to kill each other off – and any
innocent person that happens to get
caught in the crossfire. And the white
man's responsible – AIDS and drugs
are a conspiracy to kill off all the
blacks. I mean even if that were so,
why go along with it? Why be cogs in
the death machine – "fucking ducks in
the shootin' gallery"? You really
have to be Numero Uno or just a number
in the morgue? Is that kind of choice
what bein' macho's all about?
It ain't like that. You're just
puttin' words together.
Words that happen to be true.
It's not as simple as you make it
out to be.
You're just tryin' t' get outa
Trying to keep you from being laid
out, Raymond: naked and dead on a
cold metal bed.
...You really do have yourself half
believin' you give a shit, don't you?
Almost enough t' convince me.
People have to be there for one
Not too many been there for me.
Besides my Moms, I can't think a one.
Well see, you gotta let 'em first.
Open up your heart a little. Instead
of just your pants all the time.
You're too much, girl.
Carol smiles, reaches out and touches his arm. Raymond
starts to react as if this is an invitation but thinks
better of it. Her smile increases in intensity; Carol
sees something in him that we may not have the
background to recognize. And Raymond’s expression
tells us the kind of acceptance and understanding he’s
receiving from Carol is a first.
...You're sump'n else. You ain't out
with this? You know, wacked?
Pissed off? Hell, I'm flattered
(under her breath)
...and frustrated. I'm goin' t'
bed. Night, Raymond. You should
be warm enough with the blankets
I laid out and the heat turned on.
That sure as hell ain't the only
thing that's turned on.
Tell me about it.
(yelling after her)
You can always change your mind!
INT. EVENING - HAYLOFT - (FLASHBACK)
Jane and her family are sprawled out sound asleep in
loosely-strewn hay. A trapdoor is lifted, revealing
PALMER - FUGITIVES' POV - (FLASHBACK)
You folks best be up and about.
HAYLOFT - (FLASHBACK)
Jane's family awaken, with a start or reluctantly.
After supper we're gonna scatter
you ‘round the farm.
How soon we be on the road?
You're not goin' tonight. Harris
has a posse in the area.
This of course causes concern among the runaways.
I knew we shouldn't a run!
Shet yo mouf, Car'line! He ain't
gwine find us.
Not if you'll do as we ask of you.
The Missus will have supper out in a
He lowers the trapdoor.
Sho glad we don' hafta spend the
night In that damn wagon again.
That wagon's gwine git us t' Canada.
You can always git out an' walk.
Well, I cain't. An' all that bouncin'
aroun' cain't be doin' mah baby no
Lak Mama said: better'n growin' up a
slave, ain't it?
Min' yo mouth, Henry!
Henry's right, Car'line!
Chirren! Stop dis feudin' and fussin'!
We nevah gwine git to Canada lessen we
sticks togeddah. Sho dis hard – hard on
ever'body. Walkin' or ridin' all night,
sleepin' all day, or tryin' to. Massa
Harris after us....But we done cross de
rivah, an' dere ain't no turnin' back
now. We gots people he'pin' us we don't
even know. Folks takin' a big risk fo
we. Leas' we can do is ack lak we
grateful an' willin' t' do our part.
Jane's reprimand restores peace for the moment. Her
children have the expressions of the justly censured.
INT. DAY - GARAGE
Stanley is working under Powell's car when Barnes
enters, with a Styrofoam cup of coffee. Both look as
if they could use a lot more than just a hair of the
dog that bit them the night before.
Man, that sleeping bag in Carol's
Jeep was warm enough, but I got body
parts talkin' to me I haven't heard
from in years.
(standing from beneath the car)
...I've been waitin' for you t' get
up, Harry. We got a problem.
Problem? What kinda problem?
A car full of crack’s the problem.
It's hidden in the seats, in the
door panels – Christ, I probably
didn't even find all of it.
...What were you thinkin' of doin',
makin' a citizen’s arrest?
I just...had to know.
You don't wanta call the police do
Whadda you think we should do? We
can't just let him drive outa here
with it, can we? He must have half
the crackheads in Cleveland strung
Did you put everything back?
Sure, sure – he'll never know I
...What's the big surprise? We were
talkin' about this yesterday.
But I didn't know he was carryin' it.
Or this fuckin' much, Harry.
You still wouldn't if you'd stuck to
fixin' his car.
Don't get self-righteous on me, Harry!
That's not like you.
I'll stand behind you, Bob – you know
I will. But let's call a spade a spade.
I've been called one often enough
Barnes tries to laugh, slaps Stanley on the shoulder.
Have you said anything to Carol yet?
Naw, I don't wanta bring her into this.
Besides, she's liable t' think I'm
doin' it outa jealousy or somethin’.
Aw, are you shittin' me? She wouldn’t
Well, see...it's more complicated than
that, Harry. I woke up last night
when she came to bed. I asked her what
she'd been doin' – not suspicious or
anything, but it was a couple of hours
after I'd gone to bed. She said you
She gave me this look like I didn’t
trust her. Besides, I couldn't keep my
eyes open. I knew she could handle
anything that came up.
Stanley gives him a look.
...I didn't mean that the way it sounds.
I'm not sayin' my wife needs t' be
chaperoned, for chrissake. She said
they were just talking and I believe
her. But you see what I mean about
her thinking maybe this is my way of
gettin’ back at the guy?
I see what you mean, but I still say
you're under-estimating her.
Shit! Why couldn't I have left well
enough alone?...Maybe you're overestimating me.
Whadda you mean?
Harry, why do you think I was dickin'
around with the guy's car? I was
curious, sure – but you don't think
him and Carol bein' up half the
night didn't have something to do
with that? I know he tried to score
with her. Just because she turned him
down doesn't let him off the hook.
How do you know he did – did she say
Hell, she wouldn't wanta get the dude
in trouble if he tried to rape her and
she had to break his fuckin' arm.
She'd say he broke it openin' the door
for her. You know that. But I can put
two and two together, we've been
married long enough.
Well, so tell me: is this all about
just wantin' to bust the guy?
I don't know, Harry – maybe some of it
is. But I can't just make it go away.
And it sure doesn't change how I feel
about being part of a huge fuckin'
shipment of crack, if I keep my mouth
shut and let him drive outa here with
it. Does it?
I hate the idea of callin' the cops
on him though. Ruinin' his life.
Twenty years in prison and when he
comes out he'll be a helluva lot
worse than when he went in.
I know! I feel the same way.
I'll probably be gone by then, but
what a legacy to leave behind.
And Carol obviously likes the guy –
she'd never forgive me.
Well, I sure can't say I like him,
but I do kinda feel for the guy.
It's strange: I've been borin' him
t' death with my favorite
Underground Railroad story.
You just like a captive audience.
You know, with all that crack, he
must be armed.
Shit, I thought a that when you
brought him here in the first place –
drugs or no drugs. I checked to make
sure my .45 was loaded.
Jesus, Bob, what've you gotten us
You brought him here, Harry!
EXT. DAWN - DIRT ROAD - (FLASHBACK)
Harris and a posse ride past in a cloud of dust.
EXT. DAY - VILLAGE - (FLASHBACK)
When the posse rides into Stafford, the village is
nearly deserted and quiet – too quiet. Harris eyes
each house as he rides past. Passing the home of
WILLIAM STEEL, he sees...
A CURTAIN - (FLASHBACK)
POSSE – (FLASHBACK)
We're bein’ watched.
On impulse, he dismounts and knocks on the door. It’s
answered by Steel, a staunch abolitionist in his 60s
whose appearance reflects his name.
And what may I do for ye, Sir?
(taken aback by the greeting)
I am inquiring if you've seen some
runaway slaves wanderin' these parts.
I'm certain they're in the area.
You must be mistaken, Sir. There are
no such people hereabouts. I have
never seen such a person as that.
Aware that he is being mocked, Harris frowns and
gestures to his posse.
Then you won't mind if we search
Not at all, Sir – but first you must
attend to a small detail for me.
And what might that be?
I'd like you to walk across the
EXT. - FUNERAL HOME - (FLASHBACK)
STEEL (cont'd O.S.)
...to the funeral parlor and make
your final arrangements.
EXT. - STEEL’S HOUSE – (FLASHBACK)
For when you search my home and find
no slaves here, you'll require its
Harris glances around to see that...
EXT. – VILLAGE
...other men, well-armed, have appeared between
buildings on both sides of the street.
INT. DAY - GARAGE OFFICE
Later the morning of Stanley's discovery of the drugs,
Carol, standing inside the door, gestures Powell into
the office and closes the door. She pulls him against
her, insistently but not urgently, and snuggles up to
him, running her hands all over his body. He responds
of course – then pulls away in surprise.
You just patted me down! You
frisked my ass!
Barnes ducks in with Stanley's .45, closing the door
You're with friends, Raymond!
What the fuck is this?!
She's tellin' the truth, Raymond!
Get away from the door and listen
Glaring in rage at Barnes, who is covering him, then
at Carol, Powell moves away from the door.
Don't do anything crazy, Raymond,
we're tryin' t' help you!
Kiss my ass, bitch!
I'll fade yo ass, motherfucker!
No you won't. You may try, but I'd
advise you not to.
Please, Raymond – believe me!
What the hell you expect me to
believe? He's pointin' a
motherfuckin' piece at me!
Siddown, Raymond. Now!
Powell sits down heavily on the couch.
Now just listen!
You're busted, Raymond. We found
(starting to rise)
You Uncle Tom fuckin' –
Barnes pushes him back down with a stiff-arm.
Don't make me use this, Raymond!
I'm not the shot I used t' be – I
might hit something vital.
So what's up, motherfucker? Y'all
just gon' jack my shit? 'Cause if
We're not rippin' you off, and if
you cooperate we're not callin' the
Big fuckin' deal, you honkie
mothahfucker. If I don't deliver this
I'm dead, and the rest of you too!
We've got a plan, Raymond!
You ain't got shit!
Will you listen for a minute, you
foul-mouthed little prick?
(responding to his reaction)
Yeah I said "little"! You may
outweigh me but I've got the gun. And
I'm not the fool caught with a car
full a crack!...Now, you ain't leavin'
here with it, so get that outa your
head. That's too many ruined lives on
But we're not settin' you up t' be
killed either, Raymond. I told you,
I know the drug business, and we're
not stupid – we know the danger you're
in. We're in it together, now that we
know you have the crack. But we have
a plan, we talked it over.
You can take
But it's the
offers you a
the three of
it or leave it, Raymond.
only way we can see that
way out – short a killin'
us. And that's not gonna
And you know what, Raymond? It's the
way downtown. The real way. A way
that'll leave you alive long enough
to enjoy it.
Powell appears as scared as he does belligerent.
I never finished tellin' you the story
of Jane's escape, Raymond. We left her
and her family stuck there on the
Oh, Harry, this isn't the time for –
Bear with me, Carol. If Raymond can,
you sure as hell can too. This is a
story he needs to hear, and we’re
almost to the end.
EXT. DAY - LAKE ERIE SHORELINE - (FLASHBACK)
Jane and her family approach the side-wheeler which
will carry them across the lake.
Jane and her family were on the run
for more than three weeks – hidden
during the day in haylofts and caves
and the secret chambers of homes on
the Underground Railroad...then
traveling all night on foot and by
wagon, before finally arriving on
the shores of Lake Erie. Imagine how
they must have felt. The Ohio River
had been wide enough to divide slave
state from free, but they could see
across it. This vast blue boundary
line between two nations must have
been deeply reassuring. Surely they’d
be safe on the other side of that.
The weary but now hopeful fugitives
outstretched arms by JOSIAH HENSON,
early 60s. The side-wheeler TOOTS a
her children are too overwhelmed to
are met with
a black man in his
greeting. Jane and
Yo at de end of yo long journey,
travelers. Jest 'cross Lake Erie
y'all gwine be free. Git on board
now, 'fore some bow'ney hunter come
along an' take you-uns back.
Alfred and Augustus each take one of Jane's arms and
help her up the gangplank.
EXT. - STEAMBOAT - (FLASHBACK)
(from pilot house window)
Welcome ye free souls! Ye be on your
way home now!
Jane breathes a deep sigh, feeling the tears come. Her
knees buckle but Alfred catches her.
You all right, Mama?
Tired, is all. Jes' he'p me over
dere where's I can rest.
Alfred and Augustus help her to a deck chair and she
sinks into it. Observing her need to be alone, the
captain calls down to the children.
Who'd like to come help me pilot
this boat to Canada?
The CAMERA takes us from the captain to Josiah Henson.
FREEZE FRAME to match the...
INSERT - ARCHIVAL ILLUSTRATION - (FLASHBACK)
...of Henson hanging on a wall of the office beside
the reward poster.
The man who met Jane’s family was
Josiah Henson, founder of Dawn, the
black community where the fugitives
were headed. Some say he was the model
for Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
INT. DAY - GARAGE OFFICE
So if that's what you want to call me,
go right ahead. Josiah Henson helped
more than a hundred people like Jane
and her family find freedom from
slavery in Canada. You might even be
related to Jane, Raymond. Her eldest
daughter Caroline married a man in
Dawn and moved to Cleveland in the
...So what's this great plan you all
think's gonna save your ass when my
people don't get what's comin' to 'em?
That's where your problem is, Raymond.
You call me Uncle Tom, but you're the
one suckin' up to people who keep you
And you don't have to worry about them
gettin' what's comin' to 'em, Raymond –
trust me on that.
It scares the hell out of me, Raymond,
when I talk to people like you and my
nephews, willing to throw away the
freedom the Janes and Josiah Hensons
of black America risked their lives
to give us. You'd rather be slaves
yourselves – to drugs, or money, or
crazy ideas and beliefs – than free.
That’s sure not limited to blacks.
Of course it’s not. But this is
between one black man and another.
Sure times is tough. There's still
discrimination against black people,
after nearly 400 years since we were
brought over here. You and I are both
just niggers to a lot of people. But
I’m sure Carol's known her share of
ugly names –
Try "prick-teasin' pussy."
Great line, Raymond. Bob? He’s a hick
and a red neck. For some reason,
entirely too damn many people feel
the need to despise one another, and
they'll use any excuse they can
lay their hands on. Skin color's an
easy one — a no-brainer, in every
sense of the word.
Jesus Christ! I asked what your plan
was, motherfucker – not your
philosophy of life.
Carol hides a smile.
You think times are anywhere near as
tough now as they were for Jane and
her family? If the Underground
Railroad could work for her and
thousands of others back then...
INT. CAR – DAY
A contemporary "posse" – three very hard-looking black
men, two in the front seat, one in back – stare
straight ahead in their big expensive car speeding
along the partially cleared freeway.
BARNES (cont’d V.O.)
...it can work for people runnin'
from slavery today. The spirit of
the Underground Railroad's still
alive, Raymond, and it's gonna save
your hip young black ass. We know
people we can trust all across this
great country of ours. They're gonna
be your "conductors".
BACK TO SCENE
...That's it? How fuckin' dumb you
think I am? You want that crack for
yourselves! Man, yo ass be faded before
you move an ounce a that shit. They'll
be lookin' for me right now – which is
why I hafta get outa this nowhere
Listen to him, Raymond! He's offering
you the only chance you've got!
We're gonna flush that crack right
in front of you.
You're gonna what? You know how much
that shit's worth?!
Not exactly. Just like I don't know
How many lives it would ruin either.
More than you could earn in 20
lifetimes, old man!
The point is, we ain't gonna steal
it from you. Or the 9-millimeter we
found in your car – that goes in the
Tell him about the car.
I'm gettin' to that. There's no way
you could hang onto that and stay
alive – too easy to trace. Besides,
it offers us a way t' help cover your
What the hell are you talkin' about?
Once Bob's made it drivable, we're
gonna rip up the upholstery and door
panels and splash some of your blood
around. Carol’s an LPN, she can draw
it. Then we’re gonna dump your Beamer
in the Ohio River.
Powell appears so shell-shocked he hardly reacts.
When the car's found, they'll think
you were robbed and murdered, Raymond.
Only your drug lords will know about
the missing crack.
Only the slave master, the man in the
Big House. There won't be any body,
but that's not so unusual. People are
swept away by the Ohio's strong current
occasionally and never found. For all
anyone but us will know, it just
carried your body down to the
Mississippi, and out to sea.
...You motherfuckers are crazy.
Raymond, it's a chance to start over.
As a free man.
Fuck that slavery shit, man! What
about Moms? They know where she lives.
What kind of life does she have now,
knowing her son’s living on borrowed
A helluva lot better'n bein' dead
She's not gonna die, Raymond – she's
goin' with you.
Although beginning to succumb to a dazed sort of
resignation, Powell manages to be sarcastic.
...Right, goin' with me. Nice of you
t' check with her first.
You said you're all she has now.
She'd give anything for you to be
able to start over – to be a painter
instead of a dealer.
Carol tells me you had a scholarship
t' study at the Cleveland Art Museum.
She tells you everything don't she?
Not everything, Raymond.
...Why you doin' this? Jackin' me up
like this? Leavin' my Moms with nothin'.
What'd she do t' you? What'd I do?
I think you better take a good look at
who's really responsible for any
hardship your mama's gonna suffer.
I already told you, Raymond: what's
your mama have t' lose that means
more to her than her son's life?
She never had nothin', till I started
winnin'. One thing I always wanted t'
do was give Moms a nice big house an'
nice clothes t' wear. Take her outa
the place she's lived all these years.
You could just as easily say that's
the chance we're givin' you, Raymond.
The people we're sendin' you to will
help you and your mama get back on
your feet. But it's gonna be up to you
t' take advantage of the opportunity.
You can do it, Raymond, I know you can.
Hell yes he can do it, just like
thousands of black people before us.
With the help of people who don't even
know you, black and white alike,
you're gonna free yourself from
slavery. That may sound like bullshit
to you, but it's one of the greatest
gifts we can give ourselves, Raymond.
That's what America's supposed t' be
(angrily jumping up)
Don't tell me what America's sposed t'
be, niggah! That's the biggest crock a
shit you said yet!
Taken by surprise, Barnes backs up enough to keep
Powell from grabbing the .45.
Sit down on the couch, Raymond!
Fuck you, Uncle Tom! Why you think
niggers be killin' each other, in my
neighborhood and cities all over this
"great country" of ours? Cause that
wonderful dream of Brother King's
turned out to be a fuckin' nightmare
where I live – that's why! You think
we don't give a shit when a brother’s
taken down? Homeboy a mine standin'
next t' me had his head turned into a
(his voice cracking)
...Never have been able t' get all
the blood offa me.
Nobody's makin' you stay there!
In his tirade, gesturing furiously, Powell begins to
pace, forcing Barnes to keep moving as well, to
maintain a safe distance between them.
Hell no, I can go anywhere I want in
the land of the free! Black man's
welcome anywhere! Course I might
starve, but that's my problem! You
don't know any more about the kinda
life I lead than your white friend
out there! And neither do you!
I don't care how many brothers you
slept with, black musicians' horns
you blowed. Who'd you end up with? You
was just trollin' – tastin' the black
life like some exotic fruit, suckin'
black blood and black cock like some
white bitch vampire! Dealin' drugs is
dangerous? No shit! White people can
be so fuckin' smart it amazes me! If
it wasn't so dangerous, people like
Uncle Tom here could do it. Dealin'
drugs Tom's way is workin' in a fuckin'
cigarette plant for minimum wage!
Honkies with a little talent can earn
a lot more turnin' cowboys and fuckin'
camels into cultural icons! Folks at
the Art Museum taught me that: how t'
make a living in advertising till
you're discovered, man! She-it! That
kinda work supports some major cocaine
habits, I'll say that for it. A lotta
the "creative side" are steady
customers of mine! They earn enough
gettin' kids hooked on nicotine to buy
their coke and fancy cars, with enough
left over for the nasty little fines
they get when they're caught! They're
no dummies – they'll pay the money any
day when they see the brothers and
sisters caught with crack doin' 20
You're one self-righteous drug dealer,
Just tellin' it like it is. Difference
between me and legal dealers is, number
one, I admit it! And, number-two, I put
my life on the line t' do it! I don't
like it that way, that's just the way
Your life and the lives of all your
customers strung out on crack. All
those people you feel so sorry for.
Hey, life's cheap in the hood!
Didn't cribbin' with the natives
teach you that? Today's all there is
and it ain't much – so you jazz it up,
pump it up!
Crack's a way t' squeeze all the
things niggers never gonna have into
right now, know what I'm sayin'?
Smokin' it or sellin' it, don't make
no difference! So I deal in slow death
– that's what life is! In the hood
it's just speeded up a little. If a
brother or sister or some honkie wants
t' get it on or get it over with, I
may as well be the one t' help 'em out!
So that means there's a clip out there
gonna tattoo my name in hollow-points
someday – so what? Death’s just God
sayin’, “Fuck you!” I'll get mine
By now Powell has maneuvered himself close enough to
Carol to grab her. Spinning her around in front of him
as a shield, he drags her over next to the shelf where
we saw him hide something the night before. It's a
handgun, which he aims at Barnes.
Drop it, Tom! First shot's for you,
second one's hers.
Do it, Harry!
Now you're bein' smart, baby.
And you're bein' real dumb, Raymond
– a real loser!
Barnes engages the safety, and lays the .45 on the
She's right, man – you're making a
Slide it over here, Tom.
Barnes slides the gun gingerly in Powell's direction.
Powell picks it up and sticks it inside his waistband.
You're the ones made the mistake:
tryin' t' pull this chickenshit
hustle on the wrong fuckin' blood.
You're way outa your league if you
think I’d be makin' this kinda run
with one fuckin' gat.
You're still stuck on that? You
still think we —
Shut up! I oughta fade the three
Don't be a fool! Your car's not even
running yet; they'll trace it to you,
and you'll spend the rest of your
short pitiful life on death row.
He don't care about that!
Sure he does, don't you, Raymond!
I know you've never killed anyone
– don't start now for God's sake!
Who says I never killed no one?
I do! Crack may have killed some
people you deal to, but you never
And I'm not gonna start now, the
three of you ain't worth it – yet
you still underestimatin' me. Whatchu
think, I'm one a "dem slow-talkin'
plantation niggahs a Sistah Jane's"?
I already done thought 'bout the car,
bitch – that's why you’re goin' with
me, in yours. When brothah Tom or the
redneck brings mine to Cleveland,
maybe I’ll let you go – if you still
want to, after you done spent a few
hours with me. And don't even think
about callin' no cops.
You're crazy! Bob'll never let you
leave here with me.
She's right, man – you're gonna get
some innocent people killed, and you'll
end up dyin' for it, just like she said!
Then you better tell the fool t' back
When you're kidnapping his wife?
Tell the honkie you wanta live
black again. After you been with me
for a day, you will!
Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.
Get away from the door, Tom.
Barnes moves; Powell drags Carol toward the closed
door to the...
...which Stanley approaches from the service-area
side, holding a tire iron as a weapon. He flattens
himself against the wall beside the door.
Please, Raymond, don't do this! Maybe
we were over our heads, but so are you
if you think you can do this without
someone getting shot! Please!
Nobody's gonna get shot if you do what
(pulling door open carefully)
Hey, Bob! You fucked up, man! I got
your wife and your .45! Get in here
an' don't try nothin' funny or she's
When Powell opens the door a little farther so he can
get a better view of the...
...Stanley comes down viciously with the tire iron but
...ducks back just in time, cursing. Carol screams and
grabs Powell's arm to keep him from shooting her
There's a shot and Carol screams again, this time in
pain. She grabs her arm, staggers and falls against
the door, forcing it closed — with enough presence of
mind to slam home the...
INSERT - DEADBOLT
BACK TO OFFICE
You motherfucker! I said no bullshit!
(pounding on the door)
If you hurt her...!
Stay there, Bob! Get away from the
He keeps pounding. Powell threatens Barnes with the
Stay cool, man, or you're wasted!
She's been shot! We have to stop the
Carol slides down the door to her knees, then turns to
plead with Powell.
You wanted me on my knees – well here
I am! And I'm begging you, stop this
(grabbing his legs)
Please, for the love of God!
Barnes again starts to come to Carol's aid.
I'm warning you!
Get away from me, woman! Get off
your knees! Get up!
Stanley is starting to splinter the...
INSERT - DOOR
...with the tire iron.
BACK TO SCENE
Don't come in here, motherfucker!
What's wrong, Raymond? This is the
way you like your women! You want the
whole fucking world on its knees!
You can't let her die here!
Get up! Get up from there! Let him
see where you're shot!
Who gives a fuck where I'm shot if
you're going to kill us all anyway?
I'm not gonna kill anyone 'less you
INSERT - DOOR
Stanley is close to forcing the splintering door open.
BACK TO SCENE
Stay outa here, motherfucker! I'll
shoot you right through the fuckin'
A measure of control has replaced the shriek in
Raymond, as a woman who can never be
a mother herself, I'm begging you: be
a man! Be the son your mother deserves!
Be the man she's tried to raise!
(with tears of rage)
Don't be talkin' 'bout her!
Listen to her, Raymond! She's trying
to save our lives – all of us! You
kill all of us in cold blood, you're
killin' yourself and your mama too!
Throw down that gun!
(now definitely sobbing)
Get up, woman, get up off the floor,
let the man see where you been shot!
Throw it down, Raymond, throw it down!
Don't destroy your life, man!
Carol breaks into choking sobs and grabs Powell around
the legs again as he points the gun at Barnes, then at
the disintegrating door.
INSERT – POWELL’S EYES – POV CAROL
Some deep frantic strength gains control in them. We
can see Raymond run the odds. Which is it, humanity or
survival, that leads to his decision?
BACK TO SCENE
In a ferocious snarl of rage and despair, he throws
his head back...and in SLOW MOTION hurls the...
INSERT - GUN
...violently across the room where it bounces, in SLOW
MOTION, against the wall.
BACK TO SCENE
Barnes rushes over and drops beside Carol to assess
her wounds. She releases Powell and he staggers away
from her, as Stanley finally breaks through the door.
Let him alone, Bob – it was an
accident! Help me with Carol!
Ohh, you all right, baby? Jesus,
there's blood everywhere!
The two of them lay her carefully on the floor.
Where do you hurt, baby?
My arm – I don't, I don’t think
it's too serious.
...Look! She's right, it's just...
it's just a flesh wound! I don't
think it's bad at all!
You hear that, honey?!
You see what he did? He threw it
away! He threw the gun away!
Easy, baby...take it easy.
Everything's gonna be all right now.
He bends down and embraces her silently.
(holding hand out to Powell)
You wanta hand me the .45?
Powell slips the gun from his waistband and holds it a
moment, looking at it...
INSERT - GUN
BACK TO SCENE
...then hands it to Barnes, who removes the...
INSERT - CLIP
BACK TO SCENE
You're lucky, Raymond – we're all
lucky! God musta been lookin' out
for all of us.
Carol struggles to an elbow to look at Powell.
Lucky? We’re all dead. You don’t
understand these people. They’ll
never stop lookin’ till they find
If you’re so sure of that, why didn’t
You kill us when you had the chance?
...Because I didn’t have the balls.
Because you’re a bigger man than I
thought you were. Carol was right.
A lot of fuckin’ difference it makes.
It makes all the difference, Raymond.
(to Bob and Carol)
I think the brother’s right though.
We may be in this even deeper than
This is a great time to tell us,
I’ve got an idea though – if you’re
willing to go along with it.
EXT. DAY - STRIP MINE PIT
Enough of the snow has been cleared for Raymond to
have driven his BMW into the pit beneath the highwall,
where we were introduced to Harry Barnes. We SEE the
car and HEAR Raymond on his CELL PHONE.
...I’m tellin’ ya, dog, half the cops
in Ohio must be lookin’ for this car.
I was lucky t’ get away.
INT. - DRUG DEALERS’ CAR
The three we saw briefly earlier.
POWELL (cont’d, speakerphone)
Sorry you had t’ come all the way
down here, but at least they didn’t
get the crack, know what I’m sayin’?
Knock a couple a K off my cut for
DEALER (in front seat)
I’m down with that, dog. Long as we
get the crack, everything gonna be OK.
The Drug Dealers share a cold knowing smile.
EXT. - BMW – POV PIT ENTRANCE
POWELL (cell phone, O.S.)
Oh yeah, the crack’s here, man. Be
damn glad t’ get rid of it. You
should be seein’ me off to the left
any time now. Just off the highway.
INT. - DRUG DEALERS’ CAR
There he is.
The DEALER points to the...
EXT. – PIT ENTRANCE
...and, beyond it, the BMW.
POWELL (cell phone, O.S.)
I see you, man! Pull up here beside
me and get this fuckin’ crack off
The dealers’ car enters the frame and drives slowly up
to the BMW, then stops beside it. The...
EXT. – REAR DOOR
...opens. A dealer gets out, drawing a handgun.
POWELL (cell phone, O.S.)
Stick that up your ass, dog.
EXT. - ABOVE THE HIGHWALL
Barnes sits at the controls of his idling bulldozer,
the blade dug into an enormous pile of loose rock
separated from the strip-mined coal. Standing beside
him, cell phone in hand, is Powell. When he drops his
arm suddenly in a chopping motion, Barnes revs the
engine of the big D-9 and shoves the debris over the
edge of the highwall. It comes thundering down on...
...where the guy with the gun has made the fatal
mistake of scrambling back inside for “cover”.
BACK TO BULLDOZER
Barnes pushes more dirt over the edge.
are completely covered now.
BACK TO BULLDOZER
have not only disappeared, but no one would ever guess
there was anything beneath this large mound of rock.
You sure no one will find them?
A thousand years from now maybe.
That pit’ll be completely filled in
when reclamation’s completed. That
isn’t standard practice...but I’m
INT. SERVICE STATION - DAY
Bob, Carol, Barnes and Powell sit in the office.
Splintered pieces of the service area door are stacked
against a wall.
Don't quit on us now, Raymond!
Don’t’ quit on yourself!
That’s right, you've got a lot of
Things goin' for you. Maybe it's no
accident you broke down where you did
and Harry stopped for you.
“Uncle Tom,” you called him. A lot
better man than the scumbags who
wanted your soul.
Powell says nothing, but he’s hearing this.
Choose life, Raymond!...Call your
Tell her you'll be comin' home soon
with some crazy black man from
And for her to be ready t' go with
I can't tell her that. Just be ready
to up and leave everything she has
Tell her you're gonna take her with
you. On the Underground Railroad.
She'd think I was crazier'n he is.
Just try. You can be free, Raymond.
There is a very long, tense moment in which we can
almost hear the wheels turning in Powell's brain. He
looks at the phone, obviously tempted to make the
call. Sighing deeply, he picks it up...and dials. The
phone rings and rings on the other end. Carol, Barnes
& Stanley exchange anxious glances. Finally...
...Moms?...Yeah, I'm all right — my
car broke down....I don' know,
someplace out in the country – just
across the Ohio River....The Ohio
side....Yeah, it's bein' fixed now.
...Oh, some crazy cornball nigger and
his friends....Yeah, Moms, I'm all
right – really....Say, Moms – how
much...how much you know 'bout the
INT. DAY - MOMS' LIVING ROOM
Played by the same actress, MOMS is a dead ringer for
a contemporary Jane. Surprise, then delight, suffuses
...I been tryin' t' tell you 'bout
the Underground Railroad all your
life, Raymond, but you never had time
t' listen. Why in the world you axin'
me now?...Why, don't you 'member all
the stories Mama used t' tell 'bout
her Great Great Grammaw?
BACK TO GARAGE
Stunned, Powell turns to the other three.
MOMS (cont'd, O.S.)
...She was quite a woman, Raymond. I
always did say you come from sounnnd...
(drawing the word out)
If we haven't already seen this, we definitely see it
now – with the subtle way he takes a deep breath and
squares his shoulders, after all he's gone through and
put us through. His Moms is right: Raymond comes from
strong stock. He lasers a look at his three
antagonist/saviors which somehow offers thanks while
challenging them to question his courage or resolve.
Carol's radiant expression, the exhausted pride in
Barnes's, are eloquent in their wordless affirmation.
EXT. DAY - SERVICE STATION
Even the bright sun, turning the deep, drifted snow
around the service station into a dazzling jewel,
appears to agree.
EXT./INT. DAY/NIGHT – MONTAGE
The following scenes may be intercut with END CREDITS:
A) Moms is hustled from her house at dusk into Carol’s
Jeep by Barnes and Stanley, each of whom carries a
suitcase. (Without dialog) Barnes introduces Powell
and Moms to an older black couple.
B) Months later, wearing headphones, Powell moves to
the music he’s listening to while applying paint
almost savagely to an impressive, large and violent
abstract canvas he’s working on. The guy can paint!
C) In a quieter, more somber mood, with his mother
sitting for him, Powell paints a canvas we can’t
D) The previous canvas is revealed: Moms has become
Jane in a moving portrait of slavery – another side
of Powell’s obvious talent. He and his mother stand
in front of the completed painting as tears run down
E) Like a professional photographer, Powell takes rapid
exposures of Harry Barnes in various (somewhat
awkward) poses – the last few with his arm raised.
F) Blocking our view of yet another canvas are Powell;
a young black woman who appears to be a girlfriend;
Barnes; and Bob and Carol Stanley, all of whom are
moved by what they see. It turns out to be a
portrait of Barnes, in the dress of the 1800s,
peering out anxiously but with obvious strength of
character into the dark and holding a lantern: a
conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Immensely pleased, Barnes glances guardedly at
Powell, who self-consciously acknowledges the look
with a rare smile. Their reserve somewhat melted,
the two men touch fists and make eye contact, with
expressions which show respect if not quite
affection. We sense that will come in time.