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



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ELIZABETH

Throw it down there. I’ll get to it tonight.


HOLDEN places the documents on ELIZABETHS desk. He looks at JOSHUA on his way out.
ELIZABETH

What’s going with you and HOLDEN?


JOSHUA

Nothing. I don’t think he likes me. That’s all.


ELIZABETH

Do you think he knows about us?


JOSHUA

Maybe. No. He might suspect something, but there is no way he knows anything.

(beat)

Let me find out.


ELIZABETH

No. JOSH it’s too risky.


JOSHUA

Trust me babe.


He kisses ELIZABETH on the lips and exits the office.
CUT TO:

INT. CORRIDOR. OFFICE BUILDING –- DAY


JOSHUA catches up to HOLDEN. Taps him on the shoulder.
JOSHUA

Sir.
HOLDEN turns.


JOSHUA (Cont’d)

I want to talk to you about –-


He looks around to see if no one is listening
JOSHUA (Cont’d)

(quieter)

My executive bonus.
JOSHUA smiles.
HOLDEN turns away and walks into his office. It is large and has a grand oak wood desk at the far side.
HOLDEN

Your money will be in at noon.


JOSHUA

When it is confirmed, I will tell you where your papers are.


JOSHUA turns to walk out.
HOLDEN

You ever mention this to anyone. I’ll kill you.


JOSHUA chuckles and leaves the offices where –
THE CORRIDOR
-- he runs into ELIZABETH exiting her office.
ELIZABETH

(quietly)

Does he know?
JOSHUA

He knows nothing.


JOSHUA and ELIZABETH pass each other. JOSHUA smiles again as he walks on.
CUT TO:

INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- NIGHT


THOMAS is sitting at the table. He is counting out the money that he has made. OSCAR is by his feet. The money isn’t much. THOMAS looks disappointed. He writes ‘Day 1 $34’ next to his name on a piece of paper. He leans back in his chair.
The door opens and in walks GIL. He is staggering around. He looks upset.
THOMAS

Good day?


He throws his table and bag down on the ground. The table breaks.
GIL

Just shut ya face. Always shoutin’ ya fuckin’ mouth off. Well that’s it I’m out.


THOMAS

What do you mean you out?


GIL

I’m OUT. No more. Just give me my money and I’ll go.


THOMAS

You’ve been drinking.


GIL

Yeah. What’s it to you. Fuckin’ yuppie motherfucker.


THOMAS

GIL. Tell me what happened.


GIL begins to cry.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

You didn’t make much. Neither did I.


GIL

(sobbing)

I didn’t make SHIT. NOTHING.
THOMAS

Surprised.

You made nothing. How?
GIL

You really wanna know?


THOMAS

Yeah.
GIL

I can’t fuckin’ read
Starts heavy sobbing.
GIL (Cont’d)

I fuckin’ stupid

(beat)

I’m a sixty one year old man. Can’t fuckin’ do what a six year old can.



(beat)

I couldn’t read your fuckin’ instructions.

Just sat all day. Drinkin’.
THOMAS

Why didn’t you say?


GIL

Didn’t want you guys to think I was stupid. Didn’t wanna let ya down boy.


THOMAS

Listen. I’ll help you. I’ll teach you.


GIL

You’d help me.


THOMAS

Me and you will work together on the street.


GIL

I’s don’t want the others knowin’. Didn’t even want you knowin’.


THOMAS

That’s fine. We’ll come back here after KID and ERIC go out. Class will be for one hour each day.


GIL

I don’t know what to say boy. No ones ever helped me before.


GIL dries his eyes. The door opens and in walks THE KID.
KID

DAMN people. What’s wrong wit my fuckin’ drink. Tasted fuckin good.


THOMAS

How much did you make?


KID

Eleven bucks.

(beat)

Eleven fuckin’ bucks in ten hours. Most the time just standin’ there.


THE KID takes a seat at the table.
KID

How much you guys make?


THOMAS

Me and GILL made seventeen bucks a piece.


GIL looks up and smiles.
KID

Shit I’m last.


GIL

Not yet. ROADRUNNER aint in.


In walks Roadrunner.
He walks in whistling with a skip in his step. He tosses a bag of coins on the table.
ROADRUNNER

Ninety six dollars boy’s. Look at it and weep.


THOMAS empties the bag. A lot of coins and notes falls onto the table.
KID

SHIT, RUNNER, how’d you do that?


ROADRUNNER

Gift of the gab fella’s.


THOMAS

I think we’ve got ourselves a natural salesman.


ROADRUNNER

I used to sell cars with the old man when I was a kid. Got pretty good at it.


GIL

Fuck, I’ll say.


ROADRUNNER

Secret is boy’s to attract the customer. Make them feel comfortable. Compliment the ladies, be forceful to the men. I was even getting’ tips, for fuck sake.


THOMAS

Don’t get too excited ERIC. We can do a lot better than that.

(beat)

Hey KID, what went wrong with you.


KID

I don’t know. It was like people weren’t takin’ me seriously.


THOMAS

Yeah.


(beat)

ERIC. You did pretty good. What do you think you could have done to get passed one hundred dollars?

ROADRUNNER

Well. Some of the assholes were looking at me like I was dirt. Look at me than turn away.

THOMAS pauses for a while in thought.
THOMAS

We look like we belong on the street!


KID

We are on the street.


THOMAS

It’s all about image. We need to look like we know what we are doing. I used to be a business man. I wouldn’t have bought anything from a homeless man.

(beat)

We need to look the part.


CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- DAY (MORNING)
There is queue forming at the basin each man is brushing their teeth, shaving and combing their hair. Most are standing in vests and pants.
EXT. BUSY STREET. NYC. –- DAY
All four men are standing like they were the day before on the street. The camera rolls up and we see all four wearing a blue shirt and matching tie and dress pants.
ROADRUNNER

(excited)

I feel like a millionaire.
THOMAS

So you like it yeah. Well that’s what we bought from yesterday’s pay. Well done!

If you feel like a millionaire you’ll act like a millionaire.

(beat)


One more thing before you go, whoever is the first to break the one hundred dollar barrier will get a bonus at the first pay day.
THOMAS puts his fist out. All three guys tap their fists onto his.
ALL

Alright! YEAH.


ROADRUNNER (ERIC) and KID (TERRANCE) walk off.
THOMAS

You ready?


GIL

Yes sir.


GIL laughs.
THOMAS

Well, let class begin.


CUT TO:

INT. JOSHUA’S CAR –- DAY


JOSHUA is driving along a street in NYC. He looks at his watch. It shows 12.10pm. He makes a call on his cell phone.
JOSHUA

Yes. This JOSHUA BUCKLEY. Account number 56747737. Yes.

(beat)

Password. BERKOWITZ. B-E-R-K-O-W-I-T-Z.



(beat)

Thanks. Was there any deposits placed today?

(beat)

Yah ha. Thank you.


He hangs up the phone. Smiles. He dials another number on the cell phone.
JOSHUA

Yeah. It’s me. The moneys been confirmed.

(beat)

Oh yes the papers.



(beat)

Where are you?


CUT TO:
INT. HOLDENS OFFICE. NYC –- DAY
HOLDEN is standing up on his cell phone.
HOLDEN

I’m in my office.


CUT TO:
INT. JOSHUA’S CAR –- DAY
JOSHUA

Go to the bathroom on the sixth floor.

(beat)

Just do it. If you want your papers you’ll go.


CUT TO:

INT. OFFICE CORRIDOR -- DAY


HOLDEN is waiting for the elevator.
HOLDEN

You still there?


The elevator doors open. People walk out. HOLDEN steps in.
TIGHT ON ELEVATOR BUTTONS
He hits number six. The door close.
JOSHUA (O.S)

As if on phone

I’m here old man.
The elevator is slow.
JOSHUA (O.S)

So. What are you wearing?


HOLDEN

Fuck you.


The elevator opens on the sixth floor
HOLDEN (Cont’d)

Alright I’m here.


JOSHUA (O.S)

Go into the women’s bathroom.


HOLDEN enters the woman’s bathroom.
JOSHUA (O.S)

Make sure no one is there.


HOLDEN

There is nobody.


JOSHUA (O.S)

Go into the third stall from the left.


HOLDEN enters the third stall from the left. A woman is sitting on the toilet. She screams.

JOSHUA (O.S)

I was hoping that would happen.

(laughs)
HOLDEN

(to the woman)

I’m sorry ma’am excuse me.


HOLDEN exits the bathroom hurriedly.

JOSHUA (O.S)

Take it easy gramps. I meant to say men’s bathroom. Hope she didn’t scare you.
HOLDEN

Asshole!
HOLDEN walks across the corridor and enters the men’s bathroom. He looks under each stall to check if there is no one there. He goes to the third stall. He checks behind the system and there is the file.


HOLDEN

I’ve got it. Don’t call me again.


HOLDEN hangs up his cell phone.
CUT TO:
INT. JOSHUA’S CAR -- DAY
JOSHUA hangs up the phone. Smiles.
CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- DAY
GIL is sitting down at the table which has been moved to the front of the room. The door opens and incomes THOMAS with a large blackboard. He is struggling to carry it. He places it at the front of the room.
GIL

Where you get that?


THOMAS corrects him.

THOMAS


Where did you get that?
GIL

That’s what I said.


THOMAS

You said ‘where you get that’. You missed out ‘did’.


GIL

Heck, I can speak boy. Can’t read or write, that’s the fuckin’ problem.


THOMAS

The’re all connected. If you can master one you are well on your way to getting the others.


GIL looks impressed.

GIL


So, where DID you get that?
THOMAS

At N.Y.U.


GIL

You stole it!


THOMAS

I borrowed it. They’ll get it back.


GIL laughs.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Shall we begin?


He hands GIL a pencil and piece of paper. GIL is having trouble holding the pencil correctly.
THOMAS

You want to hold it like this.


THOMAS motions with his hand which holds some chalk, the correct way to hold it. GIL still is getting it wrong.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

No. Like this.


THOMAS moves over to GIL and physically puts the pen in the correct position in his hand.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

That’s it.

(beat)

Copy these letters that I’ll put on the board.


THOMAS begins to write the alphabet on the blackboard. GIL eagerly, but slowly copies them down.
GIL (V.O)

Everyday at nine o’clock class began. I think THOMAS enjoyed being the teacher, as much as I enjoyed being the student. In about two weeks ...


THOMAS is now writing longer words on the blackboard. GIL now has a ring binder and various books open on the table. He is intently listening to THOMAS.
GIL (V.O)

... I was understanding verbs and nouns. By them time presidents day rolled around THOMAS had me ...


GILL is writing in a ledger. There is cash on the table, he is adding up the cash and making a note of it in the ledger. THOMAS, KID and ROADRUNNER are playing cards. There is open pizza boxes lying about.
...writing down the daily takings. Kept my mind active. ‘A lazy mind is a liability’ THOMAS kept saying. There were always small discrepancies, people sometimes left their change. Fine by us. Paid for the pizza.

(beat)


It wasn’t long after that...
CUT TO:
EXT. BUSY STREET. NYC –- DAY
THOMAS and GIL are manning their stall. THOMAS is selling a drink to a customer. GIL is reading.
GIL (V.O)

...I was reading my first novel.

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. I read it slow, but I finished it.
THOMAS

Hey GIL, put that down for now. We got lemonade to sell.


GIL

We HAVE got lemonade to sell.


Both men smile.
GIL (Cont’d)

Alright what do you need me to do?


THOMAS

We are running out of lemon juice. You need to process some more lemons.


GIL begins to do it under the table.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

No. Do it so the customers can see. That way they know it is real lemon juice.


A woman walks up to the stall. SOPHIE, 31, short brown hair, good looking.
SOPHIE

May I have a glass of lemonade?


THOMAS stares at her. He can barely speak.
THOMAS

Sure um...


THOMAS begins to make the lemonade. SOPHIE smiles as she watches him squirm in front of her.
SOPHIE

How much do I owe you?


THOMAS

Just... um –-


GIL is looking over smiling. Giggling under his breath.
SOPHIE interrupts—-
SOPHIE

--Oh it’s written here.


TIGHT ON 1 DOLLAR SIGN
SOPHIE (Cont’d)

One dollar.


She hands him the money. THOMAS can barely contain himself.
THOMAS

Thank You.


He watches her walk away.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

I’ll marry her one day. You’ll see.


GIL

Ha. She’ll never take you.


THOMAS

I don’t know I think she liked me.

(beat)

She was looking at me.


GIL

I’m lookin’ at you too, doesn’t mean I like you.


THOMAS

Yeah. Well. We’ll see.


THE KID suddenly comes running up to GIL and THOMAS. He is out of breath, scared and winded.
GIL

KID, what’s going on.


KID

(Out of breath)

It’s ... RUNNER ... He’s got a knife
GIL and THOMAS look at each other. THOMAS grabs the money.

CUT TO:
EXT. ALLEY OFF BUSY STREET. NYC –- DAY


THE KID comes rushing around the corner with THOMAS and GIL shortly behind. They find ROADRUNNER (ERIC) with a knife up to a boy’s throat. The boy could only by about 16.
KID

(Soft voice)

Hey, RUNNER, why don’t you just calm down O.K.
ROADRUNNER

Don’t tell me to calm down you son of a bitch.


KID

I’m gonna find a cop.


THOMAS

You stay right there. We’ll handle this.

(beat)

Hey, ERIC, just put the knife down, relax.


The young boy is terrified.
ROADRUNNER

I’m gonna cut his fuckin’ throat.


GIL

What’s this boy done to ya?


ROADRUNNER

Fuckin stole my money is all. Aint that right boy. Now ya gonna’ pay.


TIGHT OF BOY’S PANTS
The young boy wets his pants.
ANGLE WIDENS
THOMAS

Look ERIC, he has pissed his pants. He’s scared. Let him go. Come on.


BOY

(terrified mutter)

I’m sorry sir. Real sorry.
GIL

He’s sorry RUNNER, let him go. I’m sure we’ll work something out.

(beat)

Aint that right son.


The young boy nods.
ROADRUNNER

FUCK. AHHH


ROADRUNNER relnts his grip on the young boy. The boy runs as fast as he can down the alley and away. ROADRUNNER drops the knife and begins to sob.
ROADRUNNER

(sobbing)

Sorry man. I’m so sorry.
THOMAS comforts him. The others want to understand why he is consoling him rather than shouting at him. THOMAS looks at them if to say let it be for now.
CUT TO:
EXT. BUSY STREET NYC -– DUSK
THOMAS and GILL stand by their stall. They are packing items away and folding up the table.
GIL

What happened back there? Just don’t understand.

(beat)

Boy gone crazy.


THOMAS

He hasn’t gone crazy. Probably the first time in the man’s life he is actually making his own money.

(beat)

Just a little bit attached to it is all.


GIL

Attached my ass. Still crazy.


THOMAS

Just shows us how much he cares. Heck these streets can do that. If you believe in something, you care about it.


GIL

Just need to stop him cutting boy’s throats.


The two men pack up all the items and walk off.
CUT TO:
INT. ELIZABETH’S BEDROOM. LARGE HOUSE. NYC. –- NIGHT
ELIZABETH and ANDY are in bed making love. ANDY is on top. ELIZABETH is crying out in orgasm.
ELIZABETH

Oh... OH... GOD!


Heavy granting from ANDY
ELIZABETH (Cont’d)

FUCK ME! HARD... HARDER.


The passion is over. Both are out of breath.
ELIZABETH

Oh that was good. Ummm...


ANDY

Yeah. You were great.


ELIZABETH rolls over and takes papers out of the bedside table.
ELIZABETH

Honey, the bank needs your signature again.


ANDY

What for this time? This is the forth time this week.


ELIZABETH

The mortgage. It is a joint thing. They need both of us to sign.


ANDY

Alright pass me the papers.


ANDY takes the papers from ELIZABETH. He scans through it.
ANDY (Cont’d)

Where do I sign?


ELIZABETH

Next to my name at the bottom of page four.


ANDY flicks through the pages to page four. He signs the form then pauses, noticing something.
ANDY

Hey. Why is it written that you’re a beneficiary?


ELIZABETH looks worried. She thinks quick.
ELIZABETH

Hey do you want to go again?


ANDY excitedly dives back under the covers tossing the papers on the floor.
CUT TO:
INT. ELIZABETHS OFFICE -- DAY
ELIZABETH is sitting at her desk, reading some forms. There is a knock at the door.
ELIZABETH

YES
JOSHUA enters.


JOSHUA

Hey.
ELIZABETH

Hello.
JOSHUA walks over and gives her a kiss.
JOSHUA

Did you get him to sign?


ELIZABETH

He almost found out. I had to screw his brains out to get him to sign it.


JOSHUA

That’s it. We have the money.


ELIZABETH

(anxious)

Yeah, yeah. We’ll have the money next week, when the forms are processed.
JOSHUA

What’s wrong?


ELIZABETH

Nothing.
She turns away and starts flicking through papers. Joshua puts his hand on ELIZABETHS hand.


JOSHUA

Tell me. What’s up?


ELIZABETH

Well. It’s fine. In a week we can be free, but –-


JOSHUA

--But what?


ELIZABETH stands up from her desk.

ELIZABETH

I’m still not going to be rid of this place. Once the shit hits the fan, they will be looking for me.

(beat)


Even if we leave the country, I’m still going to be looking over my shoulder.
JOSHUA

They won’t find you.


ELIZABETH

There is always a trail. No matter how well you’ve covered your tracks.

(beat)

What we need is a scapegoat --


ELIZABETH looks at JOSHUA with an evil look, as though she has an idea.
ELIZABETH (Cont’d)

-- One that won’t talk back.


CUT TO:
INT. CHURCH BASEMENT –- NIGHT

The door opens and in walks THOMAS, KID and GIL. ROADRUNNER is sitting at the table waiting for them to return. He stands up when they enter.


ROADRUNNER

I’m so sorry guys. I lost my head.


THOMAS

No one got hurt ERIC.


GIL

RUNNER, how much did he steal?


ROADRUNNER

Bout’ six bucks.


GIL sits down on the mattress.
GIL

You were gonna’ slit a kid’s throat for six bucks!


ROADRUNNER

I wasn’t gonna slit his throat. Just scare him is all.


THOMAS

Well you certainly achieved your aim.


KID

Yeah. Guy pissed himself.


THOMAS

You have got to relax out there.

(beat)

Alright. How did everybody do today?


KID

Hundred and thirty four.


THOMAS

Did you record all transactions?


THE KID places a pad of paper on the table.
THOMAS

ERIC?
ROADRUNNER

Ninety eight minus six.
THOMAS

Ninety two.

(Beat)

Myself and GIL took in one hundred and sixty two.


The other two clap.
ROADRUNNER/KID

Yeah. Good job.


KID

Nice job fellas.


GIL is busy recording all the data in the ledger.
ROADRUNNER

Hey THOMAS.


THOMAS looks up.
ROADRUNNER (Cont’d)

I don’t want seem ungrateful or nothin’

(beat)

I mean I’m eternally grateful for what you—-


THOMAS interrupts—-
THOMAS

Just spit it out. Tell me what’s on your mind.


ROADRUNNER

We’ve been working now for nearly two months and

(beat)

Well, when are we gonna get paid?


THOMAS smiles. The other guys look at him. Waiting for an answer.
THOMAS

I’m glad you asked.


KID

(excited)

Are we gonna get some pay?
THOMAS

Hold on KID.

(beat)

I could pay you guys cash, right now.


KID

How much?


THOMAS

Five hundred.


KID/GIL/ ROADRUNNER

Oh God.
GIL

A piece?
THOMAS

A piece.
ROADRUNNER

Fucking hell. THOMAS. We doin’ that good?
THOMAS

We’re doing pretty good now.

(beat)

Sales are steady. We are now getting discounts on inventory. We need to update the juicers soon, but that can wait.


KID

Lets get paid then.


THOMAS

Alright.
THOMAS walks over to the back of the room. He kneels down and pries up two floor boards. He removes a large black bag. He replaces the boards and walks back to the table. The others watch him.


He empties the bag and gives each person fives hundred dollars, wrapped in a bundle.
KID

Holy shit. Five hundred big ones.


He puts the cash up to his nose and inhales the aroma.
ROADRUNNER

This is the largest amount of cash in one place that I’ve seen. Legally anyway.


THOMAS

I’ve got a proposition for you.


He gets the guys attention.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Now you can take the cash. No regrets. And we carry on like we are. Or –-


GIL

Or what THOMAS


THOMAS

We expand.


ROADRUNNER

Expand?
THOMAS

Yeah. We move into a store. A shop.
KID

You’re kidding.

THOMAS

Small at first. Its cold out, we could sell four, five, six times as much. And we wouldn’t just sell lemonade. Snacks, soda, all sorts of fruit juice, freshly made.


GIL

What about your time, place utility you keep saying?


THOMAS

We’ll still have guys selling from stalls.


KID

You mean we’ll be employing people.


THOMAS

That’s right.


GILL, ROADRUNNER, and THE KID sit pondering.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Listen. I’m not saying its risk free. But wouldn’t you trade this, for one chance to own your own place, your own car, maybe a wife, a dog.


He pats OSCAR.

THOMAS (Cont’d)

It’s in our hands.
GIL

Don’t you need bank accounts, loans, credit?

THOMAS

Yes.
GIL



Well there’s no one here who has that.
THOMAS

Well to get a bank account, all you need is an address and a social security number. Mine is still valid. The problem is the loan.

(beat)

My credit isn’t going be good. I’m sure ELIZABETH took care of that.


ROADRUNNER

A bank aint’ gonna give you shit if you don’t have good credit, or even business experience.


THOMAS

What we need is good accounting records and a whole lot of luck.

(beat)

I’ll make them listen.



(beat)

What do you say?


GIL

Hell THOMAS, I’d love to say yes, but I don’t know.


The other guys nod in agreement.
THOMAS

Well sleep on it. But take this with you. Just look how far we’ve come. We have taken five hundred dollars and turned it into a small business within two months. This time next year we could be millionaires. (beat) Just dare to believe.


The three other guys think about THOMAS’ words.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

O.K. We need to wash the shirts before tomorrow. I’m going to go down to the Laundromat so if you need anything washed—-

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