‘The American Dream, Overrated Freedom’ Original Script by Ross McNeil



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THOMAS stops the messages.
AUTOMATED VOICE (O.S)

End of messages.


ANDY

You didn’t have to get me anything. You know I’m an earring man.


THOMAS

I am waiting for the Dollar General to call for your gift.


They both laugh.

ANDY


For Beth I presume.
THOMAS

Yeah. First Christmas as husband and wife. I thought I’d get her something special.


ANDY

Well if you need me to cover your phones at lunch.


THOMAS

Would you? That would be great. Give me a chance to pick it up.


ANDY

Sure. No problem. You just be ready for the` game tonight.


CUT TO:
EXT. OUTSIDE JEWELRY STORE. BUSY STREET NYC –- DAY (1996)
THOMAS goes into the Jewelry store and emerges empty handed. He is unhappy and is in a hurry. He gets into his car and drives off.
CUT TO:
INT. THOMAS’ CAR – DAY (1996)
THOMAS is driving quite fast. He looks at his watch.
THOMAS (V.O)

Andy was my best friend. We’d gone to middle school together. Copied each others homework, if one got in trouble the other would take the blame - that sort of thing. We both majored in Retail Management at NYU. When I lost my job ANDY was right there again.


CUT TO:
EXT. THOMAS’ APARTMENT BUILDING – DAY (1996)
A van pulls up with ‘R.J’s FLORIST’ written on the side. The delivery man gets out and enters the building.
THOMAS (V.O)

It was ANDY that got me my current job. He even introduced me to my wife ELIZABETH.


CUT TO:
INT. THOMAS’ APARTMENT –- DAY (1996)
The camera is shooting the front door, there is a knock. ELIZABETH comes to the door dressed in a dressing gown. She opens the door and it is the delivery man with the roses.
ELIZABETH

(Surprised)

Oh! My. Thank you.
DELIVERY MAN

Just sign here.


He gives her a clipboard. She signs and he gives her the flowers.
ELIZABETH

Thank you.


She reads the card and smiles. She walks into the kitchen and fills up a vase with water. She puts the flowers in.
There is another knock at the door. ELIZABETH opens the door and there is ANDY standing there. The two share a passionate kiss and ANDY begins to take off his tie. They move towards the bedroom.
ELIZABETH

I got your flowers.


ANDY looks somewhat confused but goes along with it.
ANDY

Sure... I thought you’d like them.


The two continue to kiss. They enter the bedroom and ANDY closes the door just as ELIZABETH removes her gown.
CUT TO:
EXT. THOMAS’ APARTMENT BUILDING –- DAY (1996)
THOMAS’ car pulls up. He jumps out and hurry’s into the building.
CUT TO:
INT. THOMAS’ APARTMENT – DAY (1996)
THOMAS opens the door and sees his wallet laying there on the side table. He picks it up. As he does so, he notices a pair of men’s dress shoes lying by the door.
THOMAS

(Inquisitive)

Elizabeth.
CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM –- DAY (1996)


ANDY and ELIZABETH are under the covers. She hears THOMAS’ voice. She immediately puts her head above the covers.
ELIZABETH

Oh Shit! I think that’s Thomas.


The camera pans round to the door. Thomas opens the door. We just see a shot of THOMAS’ expression.
CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- NIGHT (2003)
THOMAS is staring at the ceiling. GIL is watching him.
THOMAS

That’s basically it.


GILL

Bullshit! So your wife was banging ya best friend. Happens ev’ry day. Still don’t explain how ended up here.


THOMAS

Well I went to check into a hotel that night.


CUT TO:
INT. HOTEL LOBBY. MAIN DESK –- NIGHT (1996)
THOMAS is standing in a queue of maybe two people. He has been drinking. His tie is loose and dangling from his neck. His hair is scrufy. He moves to the front of the queue.
RECEPTIONIST

How may I help you sir?


THOMAS

(solemnly)

I need a room for the night.
RECEPTIONIST

Smoking or non-smoking?


THOMAS

Non-smoking. Please.


The receptionist continues to type away on the computer.
RECEPTIONIST

O.K. That will be two hundred and thirty three dollars including tax.

(beat)

How would you like to pay for that?



THOMAS

Credit card.


RECEPTIONIST

We take all major credit cards.


THOMAS slaps a credit card down on the counter. The receptionist runs it through the machine.
RECEPTIONIST

I’m sorry sir, this card hasn’t been accepted.


THOMAS

Getting angry.


That’s wrong. Can you try it again please.
The receptionist runs the card through the machine.
RECEPTIONIST

Remaining cheerful.


No. I’m sorry, it’s still not ...
Interrupted by THOMAS.
THOMAS

Try this one.


The receptionist tries again.
RECEPTIONIST

No. This one has been declined as well.


There is a queue forming behind THOMAS. One man is becoming impatient and lets out a heavy breath.
Thomas becomes irate. He turns to look at the man.
THOMAS

Just wait your turn alright pal.


IMPATIENT MAN

Sarcastic.

Can’t you find one card that works.
THOMAS

Just shut your mouth alright. Before I take you outside and shut it for you.


The receptionist calls for security. The security guards come over. One of them touches THOMAS’ arm and he shrugs him off. The other guard goes to detain him and THOMAS’ pushes him. The guard goes to restrain THOMAS and THOMAS punches him in the mouth.
CUT TO:

INT. A JAIL CELL –- NIGHT (1996)

THOMAS sits on the wooden bench seat in the jail cell. His head is in his hands. He quietly sobs.
CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT – NIGHT (2003)
THOMAS and GIL are still lying down. GIL is rolled over looking at THOMAS. THOMAS is staring at the ceiling.
THOMAS

My credit cards wouldn’t work. When I got out the next day I went to the bank. ELIZABETH had cancelled them.

(beat)

Over the 4 months we were married she had me sign various forms. To be honest I didn’t really look what they were. She was the financial analyst, I just left all the finances up to her.



GIL

Shit man!


THOMAS

All of it. The deed to the apartment, our savings accounts, my future pension had all been signed over to ELIZABETH.


GIL

Well. What about your job.


CUT TO:
INT. THOMAS’ OFFICE BUILDING –- DAY (1996)
THOMAS describes what is happening.
THOMAS (V.O)

The next week I came into work. I got out of the elevator and moved past the cubicles as always. Everybody was staring at me. It almost went silent as I walked by. I sat down at my desk. Then in comes Mr. Walker.


GIL (V.O)

Who‘s he?


THOMAS (V.O)

My boss.


(beat)

Anyway he asks to see me. So we both go into his office. I take a seat.


CUT TO:

INT. MR WALKERS’ OFFICE –- DAY (1996)


WALKER, 60, is dressed in a grey suit that almost matches his hair color. He is thin and is sporty big thick rimmed spectacles.
WALKER

I am sorry to ask you in here under such circumstances.


THOMAS

Why be sorry?


WALKER

I am sorry to hear about your personal life, but I have no choice, THOMAS, I am going to have to let you go.


THOMAS

Excuse me?


He realizes that WALKER isn’t joking.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

What for?


WALKER

We had a tip from one of your colleagues that you were on drugs.


THOMAS

DRUGS! Sir this has to be a joke.


WALKER

I wish it was. We searched your desk and found drug paraphernalia.


THOMAS

What?
WALKER

Pipe, spoon, lighter. All with white residue.
THOMAS looks on in disbelief.
WALKER (Cont’d)

We found no actual drugs. Which kept me from calling the police. But I have no choice but to let you go. I’m sorry.


THOMAS

(Angry)


It was ANDY. The colleague who phoned in.
WALKER

I can’t say.


THOMAS

I am fucking innocent. I have been set up by ANDY and my wife.


WALKER goes to shake ANDY’S hand. He refuses his handshake, turns and exits the room.
CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- NIGHT (2003)
GIL

Why would they want to set you up like that?


THOMAS

To discredit me, incase I found a way of coming after them.


GIL

Holy shit. That’s fuckin’ rough.


THOMAS

Yeah. I started drinking. Here I am.


THOMAS rolls over and goes to sleep.
CUT TO:
EXT. STREET. SHOP DOORWAY. NYC -- NIGHT
THE KID (TERRANCE) and THE ROADRUNNER (ERIC) are lying next to each other in a shop doorway. It is late at night.
KID

Hey. Old man. You awake?


THE ROADRUNNER is lying with his face in a dirty stained blanket.
ROADRUNNER

Heck. I can never sleep.

(beat)

Well... What you wantin’?


KID

What you think about this THOMAS guy?


ROADRUNNER

Shit knows boy.


KID

You think his straight.


ROADRUNNER

Don’t sound like his been out here for long. Probably aint had long enough to become fucked up.


KID

Fucked up?


ROADRUNNER

Yeah. Fucked up. This place will screw with ya head. You stay out here for long enough, ya head goes. Aint the same.

(beat)

You know, the Chinese used to torture their enemies by sittin’ a man in room on a chair and attachin’ a collar full of spikes just a few fingers away from ya skin. This collar would be attached by chains to the four corners of the room. If the man slept. The spikes would stick in. You’d bleed to death.



(beat)

Guy’s sit there for days. Until they cracked.


KID

What’s that gotta do wit me?


ROADRUNNER

See the victims would train themselves to keep their eyes open to sleep. Out here if you close them pretty little eyes, someone will eventually stick ya. You keep them eyes open long enough, you’ll crack. Everyone cracks.


He turns back and goes to sleep.
CUT TO:
INT. ELIZABETHS OFFICE –- NIGHT
We start at the first person view. This person is holding a flashlight. He is dressed all in black and has a ski mask on. He enters ELIZABETH’S office. We see her name on the door. The office is totally black. The mystery man starts rummaging through filing cabinets.
He pulls on a drawer in ELIZABETH’S desk it is locked. He continues searching. He looks underneath the lamp and a plant. He then begins looking behind the pictures that hang on the wall. We see a key taped behind the picture. He takes it off the wall carefully, goes over to the drawer and unlocks it. Inside there is a diary, notes (calculations, figures) and documents. The man puts the items into a bag. He exits the room.
CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- DAY
THOMAS, THE KID and THE ROADRUNNER are sitting around the same table as they were earlier. GIL is at a small sink in the basement. He is shavin’ with an old razor in a shattered mirror. OSCAR the dog is lying asleep in the corner. GIL cuts himself cuts himself.
GIL

SHIT DAMN MOTHERFUCKER.


The others turn around.
ROADRUNNER

Didn’t think you black guys felt pain.


GIL

Shut ya white, cracker mouth up.


THOMAS smiles.
GIL (Cont’d)

Oh All you white boys find it funny. See the negro cut his black self. You try shavin’ with this rusty blunt, piece of shit.


THOMAS

Are you about done GIL, we have a meeting.


GIL

Yeah give us a minute.


The others turn back to face each.
KID

Hey THOMAS, is this shit for real. We gonna sell lemonade!


ROADRUNNER

Yeah, we aint fuckin’ girl scouts.


THOMAS

You’ve got to crawl before you can run ERIC.


GIL returns to the table. He has a dirty towel draped over his shoulders.
GIL

So what’s the deal?


The guys listen intently.
THOMAS

We each set up lemonade stalls around town.

Each stall will be small, about three feet. We will sell fresh lemonade.
ROADRUNNER

Don’t ya need some sort of juicing device for that?


THOMAS


They have been bought. Along with bags of sugar and water. Sparkling and still.
THE KID (TERRANCE) is becoming more confident. He is almost cheeky amongst the adults. On the street everyone is equal.
KID

What are we gonna sell it from? We aint gonna sell jack shit if we sittin’ on the damn sidewalk.


THOMAS

There’s the problem. We need to find four small, portable tables. If we buy them, there isn’t going to be any money left for inventory.


GIL

What the fucks inventory?


THOMAS

Lemons.
GIL furrows his brow and then realizes what he means.


KID

Where are we gonna find four small, portable tables?


THOMAS

Dumpsters. Dumps. Sometimes people will just lay old furniture in an alley.


GIL

That aint gonna work boy. I aint seen fuck round here.


THOMAS

If we cant find any, we’ll have to make them.


ROADRUNNER

Make em’.


THOMAS

You got a better idea?


ROADRUNNER

What about them thrifty stores?


KID

That’ll still cost us at least 10 a piece.

We could make the lot for five.

THOMAS


GILL. The priest here, has he got tools, some paint?
GIL

Shit. That boy better. If his wife don’t want a phone call.

(laughs)
CUT TO:
EXT. ALLEY. DUMPSTER –- DAY
THE KID (TERRANCE) and ROADRUNNER (ERIC) are looking in a dumpster, for any bits of old timber. THE KID is in it. He throws out two pieces of wood.
GIL (V.O)

And that’s how it began. We had a job now. And not just some shitty cleaning job, for next to no pay. We were working for ourselves. Wasn’t much at the time but we all felt we were part of something great, that was just about to happen.


CUT TO:
EXT. STREET. NYC. –- DAY
THOMAS and GIL are arguing with a street vendor. OSCAR the dog is at THOMAS’ feet. There is timber leaning against the wall. The man gestures 5 dollars to THOMAS. He shakes his head and walks away. GIL is visibly angry at THOMAS for not buying it.
GIL (V.O)

For the first time in my life, I felt I was part of something pure and good. THOMAS was not stupid, which gave me great comfort, he knew what he was doing.


The street vendor comes running up to THOMAS. They talk and money and timber are exchanged.
GIL (V.O)

That boy may have been a yuppie, but he sure got what he needed.


CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT – NIGHT
The four vagrants are busy sawing, nailing and painting. The paint that is being used is yellow. OSCAR has yellow paint all over him. All four men laugh when they see him.

GIL (V.O)

That night we began assembling the tables. We took great care, as these things would be our first offices. Well for me anyway. And I’m sure for THE KID and ERIC as well. I felt as free as bird. Looking around I could have been in my own basement, with my buddies, I felt like a working man. And I liked it.
All four guys are falling asleep. THOMAS is lying on his mattress. THE KID is washing his hands in the small dirty sink and THE ROADRUNNER is waiting. GIL is looking out of the window.
ROADRUNNER

Hey KID, You wanna hurry it up a little.


KID

What you have date or something?

(smiles/laughs)
ROADRUNNER

Yeah. I don’t wanna keep ya mother waitin’.


THE KID starts to go even slower and starts massaging his hands under the running water. Looking at every inch of his hands.
ROADRUNNER

That’s it out my way.


He grabs THE KID (TERRANCE) and they playfully tussle. We see THOMAS and GILL smile when they see the two guys bonding. ROADRUNNER (ERIC)

manages to remove THE KID from the sink. THE KID laughs as he walks away.


KID

Well I guess we’ll see you tomorrow.


THOMAS

Bright and early.


THE KID goes to exit the basement.
GIL

Heck boy. Where do ya think your goin’?


THE KID looks at him inquisitively.
GIL (Cont’d)

Aint no member of my company gonna sleep out in the cold.


ROADRUNNER

You mean we all get to stay in here.


GIL

At least until the priest kicks us out. Or the paint fumes kill us.

THOMAS

(happy)


Well alright.
GIL

Hey it aint much --


ROADRUNNER is so excited he interrupts GIL--
ROADRUNNER

Shit. It’s better than livin’ out there.

(beat)

Thank you.


GIL

Your welcome son. What ever you can find you can sleep on.


We see all four men sleeping on the ground. GIL and THOMAS are sharing their mattresses with KID and ROADRUNNER.
CUT TO:
INT. A DINER –- DAY
The diner is small, slightly rundown. MCINTYRE and HOLDEN sit across from one another in a booth next to a window. They both are drinking coffee. A waitress walks over.
WAITRESSS

Are you ready to order?


HOLDEN

No just the coffee for me.


MCINTYRE

I’ll have 2 eggs on 2 toast.


WAITRESS

How would you like your eggs?


MCINTYRE

Impatient.

I don’t know however you want.
WAITRESS

Over easy, medium, well, sunnyside?


MCINTYRE

Just chose one yourself.


She just stands there.
MCINTYRE (Cont’d)

O.K over medium.

WAITRESS

What type of toast?


MCINTYRE

Any type of toast. Whatever easiest.


WAITRESS

Well any type of bread is easiest.


MCINTYRE

(firmly)


Wheat. I’ll have wheat.
MCINTYRE puts his head in his hands, as if he has a migraine. There is a slight pause in the conversation.
WAITRESS

How toasted do you want your bread?

(beat)

Light, light medium, medium or dark?


MCINTYRE

Aggravated.


Listen. All I want is egg on toast. I didn’t know that this was could be so complicated.

Would you please just go and get me that. PLEASE.


The waitress turns as if she has been insulted and walks back towards the kitchen.
WAITRESS

(Under her breath)

Asshole.
MCINTYRE returns to putting his head in his hands. He runs his fingers through his thinning grey hair. He looks like he is sweating.
HOLDEN

Hey relax.


MCINTYRE

What do you mean relax, we did something illegal.


HOLDEN

Know one knows. Any way we own that office.


MCINTYRE

(firm whisper)

We hired someone to break into a partners office. I think that’s a crime!

HOLDEN


Calm down. The guy will be here in a minute.
MCINTYRE

Yes I know I’m sorry. I’ve just got a bad feeling about all this.


HOLDEN

Hey we needed to find out.


MCINTYRE

Did he say he found anything?


HOLDEN

Papers.


(beat)

Found in a locked drawer.


Out of the window we see a car pull up.
CUT TO:
EXT. OUTSIDE THE DINER –- DAY
A man gets out of the car but all we see are his shoes and bottom of a pair of blue jeans.
CUT TO:
INT. THE DINER -- DAY
The door to the diner opens. We here the jingling of some bells that have been placed to alert staff of a customer. HOLDEN gets up to allow the man to sit opposite of the two business men. We now see it is JOSHUA.
MCINTYRE

Do you have the papers?


JOSHUA

Yeah I have them, but I don’t feel right about you having ELIZABETHS personal things.


HOLDEN

Well lets see them.


JOSHUA goes to give HOLDEN a large brown envelope. As HOLDEN goes to take it JOSHUA pulls the envelope away.
JOSHUA

Hey, if I’m going to betray my boss I think its worth a little more.


MCINTYRE

You cheating –-

HOLDEN interrupts —-
HOLDEN

We’ve already given you $5000.

(beat)

What else do you want?


JOSHUA

$10,000 more.


MCINTYRE

You’re out of your mind.


JOSHUA

Well then I’ll keep these then.


He gets up to leave. HOLDEN grabs his arm.
HOLDEN

We’ll give you five more. Making ten in total.


JOSHUA

Sorry.
Tries to shrug HOLDENS arm off.


HOLDEN

Six.
JOSHUA

Deal for eight.
HOLDEN

Alright, deal for eight.


JOSHUA

When the money is put into my account I’ll hand them over. Just put it down as ... an executive bonus.


He pats HOLDEN on the shoulder as he leaves with the envelope. The waitress comes over with the coffee and the eggs. She spills the coffee on MCINTYRES lap. He goes back to holding his head.
CUT TO:

EXT. BUSY STREET NYC. –- DAY


The street is very busy. THOMAS, GIL, KID and ROADRUNNER are standing in the middle of the sidewalk they are holding their newly made stalls. People keep knocking into the four men. THOMAS is holding four bags.
THOMAS

Right. The plan is to find an area to set up. Each of you will take one of these bags.


He holds up the four bags in his hand.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Each bag contains, a juicer, a large bag of sugar, a pack of large plastic cups and water. Still and carbonated.


KID

What about the lemons?


Pauses for a moment.
THOMAS

DAMN IT! DAMN.


The KID holds up the large bag of lemons.
KID

I saw that you left in the basement. Good job I’m here.


THOMAS

Thanks KID.


GIL

How much we sellin’ these cups for?


THOMAS

One dollar.


GIL

Shit aint’ nobody gonna buy a glass of lemon for ONE DOLLAR.


THOMAS

Time and place utility my friend.


They all stare at him blankly.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Look around you, what do you see?


ROADRUNNER

A shit load of people.


THOMAS

And where they going?


The guys look around and we see that most of the people are dressed in shirts and ties. Some are carrying briefcases.
GIL

They’re goin’ to work.


THOMAS

You will find that you will sell more lemonade in the morning, at lunchtime and early evening. This is when people are in a hurry.

They don’t have time to go into a store, so remember, quick service is vital.
GIL, KID, ROADRUNNER

(mumbled agreement)

Yeah, yeah.
THOMAS

But this is New York City. People are always in a hurry. So we will continue to sell throughout the day.


KID

How do we make this lemon drink?


THOMAS

In each bag are the instructions for making the lemonade.


GIL looks worried.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Everything O.K. GIL?


GIL

Yeah boy, everything O.K. Just ready to go make me some money.


THOMAS

Oh yeah money. Each man is responsible for the money. And at the end of the day say nine, we will return to the basement, see what we want to do.

(beat)

O.K. You guys ready to make some money.


THOMAS puts his fist out. Each guy hits THOMAS’ fist with their own.
ALL

Come on! YEAH.


CUT TO:
INT. ELIZABETHS OFFICE –- DAY
ELIZABETH and JOSHUA are making out on her desk. There is a knock at the door and in walks HOLDEN.

HOLDEN


ELIZABETH.
The two lovers somehow manage to avoid being caught. They look like they are doing work related things. ELIZABETH is sitting at her desk.
ELIZABETH

Yes Steven. What is it?


STEVEN HOLDEN looks at JOSHUA in a displeased way. JOSHUA smiles.

HOLDEN


(To ELIZABETH)

I need to know if you can take Jacob-Felz project on for a couple weeks. I’ve got to go to Atlanta for a meeting.


ELIZABETH

I do have a lot to do myself.


HOLDEN

All you have to do is read the file and advise the client when they call in. Say I’m out of town for two weeks.

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