DINNER AT FU'S

INT. FU'S BUFFET - DAY

Six college age friends - five guys and one girl - are sitting around a table in a fairly-occupied typical Chinese buffet restaurant - cheap green carpeting, faux marble tabletops, religious iconography on the walls etc.

There's SHAFAN, the consummate male model - complete with perfectly groomed hair and designer clothes, and PETER, who looks like a recently rehabilitated Goth and has a tendency to smile nervously.

JAKE looks like he played halfback in high school, and would be seriously imposing if he ever stopped smiling. ETHAN is almost as tall, (but definitely not as big) and his dark hair and eyes him look like he could play Hamlet.

ISAAC looks a couple years younger than the other guys. Like Jake, he's always smiling, except in his case, it's probably because he's up to some sort of adolescent mischief.

The lone female in the group is TARA, Ethan's younger sister. She's about Isaac's age and absolutely gorgeous, with dark, lustrous that makes her look like she belongs in a shampoo commercial.

They've all been there a while - there's a small stack of discarded plates near the middle of the table. Everyone is listening to Tara, who has just started a story.

TARA
So I'm sitting in math Class - Professor Hatting, we call him
"Hat." Good teacher, brilliant guy, talks way too fast, never
enunciates. He's like thirty minutes into his lecture, and it's
just one of those days. Half the class is asleep, and the other
half is almost there, and Hat's talking about graphs or
something, 'cause he says "okay, let's look at some points for
graphing." But the way he says it, it sounds like he's saying
"let's look at some pornography," and right away, everybody sits
up. All the dudes who were sleeping are like wide awake, and
everybody's just staring at Hat, and he's like "What? What did I
say?"

ETHAN
See, that's what I like - a teacher that can make math fun.

ISAAC
Maybe I should be a math major. I study at a lot of "points for
graphing" already.

TARA
(mock disgust)
You probably already have enough credits.

JAKE
They might even let you teach an undergrad class.

ETHAN
You should ask the dean.

ISAAC
"Class, this semester's required text will be the classic June
2000 issue of Penthouse. I'll expect a preliminary report by
next week."

TARA
(shakes her head, amused)
You guys are pigs.

ETHAN
Hey, you eat just as much as the rest of us.

Isaac makes a juvenile "oink"-ing sound. All the guys LAUGH.

We PULL AWAY a bit, and the audio again becomes INDISTINCT as everyone continues to talk. We begin to CIRCLE the table, only seeing three or four of the characters at a time. We FREEZE when Tara is at the center of attention. In a second's time, she FADES from the picture, leaving an empty chair. The others continue talking and eating as if nothing has happened. After a few seconds, we

FADE TO BLACK

SHOW FILM TITLE

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP of a television monitor. The time, early afternoon, is displayed in the bottom corner of the image - we're seeing through a surveillance camera. We're looking a pixilated MONOCHROME image of a man sitting in a small white room. He's not moving, but he's sitting too rigidly to possibly be asleep. As we LOOK CLOSER at the figure, we see that it's ETHAN. We CLOSE IN on the grainy image and TRANSITION INTO

INT. MENTAL WARD - ETHAN'S QUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

We're inside Ethan's room now, FLOATING DOWN from the ceiling. He is sitting near the center of the room. His chair faces the wall, and he's just staring forward. We CIRCLE around him once, and we see that there's also a bed and a toilet in the room . Ethan doesn't seem to notice. We finish our rotation around him, and the door OPENS.

DR. STEEN (50s) steps inside. JAKE and ISAAC stand behind him in the doorway.

DR. STEEN
Ethan, you have visitors. Jake and...

Dr. Steen turns to Isaac.

ISAAC
Isaac.

Ethan doesn't move.

Jake STEPS INSIDE, next to Dr. Steen.

JAKE
Ethan, how's it going?

Still no response.

Jake motions Isaac inside. Dr. Steen slips out and CLOSES the door behind him.

Isaac steps up beside Ethan.

ISAAC
Hey, Ethan. How's it going, man?

He crouches down in front of Ethan but doesn't make eye contact.

ISAAC (cont'd)
Umm, everything's cool at the house. Your mom and dad are doing
better. I think they're pretty much done fighting. Didn't do
much good, you know. They're starting to...get used to it, I
guess. I mean, they miss you. We all do.
(smiles slightly)
Listen, if you don't start getting better, I'm gonna move into
your room, and that's just gonna piss 'em off even more.

He laughs nervously. Then, to Jake

ISAAC (cont'd)
Shit. This is...I'm, uh, I'm gonna go wait upstairs.

JAKE
Okay.

Isaac stands up and walks to the door. He knocks, and the door opens from the outside. We FOLLOW him out into the hall. The door CLANKS shut behind him like a prison cell.

INT. MENTAL WARD - OBSERVATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Isaac is standing at the monitor we saw earlier. On the screen, Jake is crouching where Isaac was before. Ethan still hasn't moved.

ISAAC (V.O.)
At first, we all said we'd visit him once a week. I did for a
while, but it seemed kind of pointless. He never moved, never
said anything, and a year is a long time. Jake came it in every
week, though, just like we said.

CLOSE UP on Isaac's face as he watches the monitor.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
I made it about once a month though. Peter did too, but he I
don't think he said much. He never does. I think Shafan rolled
in once or twice.

Back to the monitor. Nothing's changed.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
When Jake would visit, he'd talk about school or work, whatever
he knew Ethan would want to hear about. If he was listening, I
mean.

INT. MENTAL WARD - ETHAN'S QUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

CLOSE UP of Ethan's face.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
The doctor said he could hear us, but...it sure didn't look like
it to me.

Isaac is back in Ethan's quarters, standing near the door.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
But I still talked to him, about his parents mostly, what they
were up to, 'cause after Tara died, I moved back in with them so
they wouldn't be alone. Shafan
(laughs)

Isaac is gone, and Shafan is standing in his place, dressed as stylishly as ever.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
Shafan probably talked about his girlfriend

MEGAN, Shafan's girlfriend, winks into existence next to him, his arm around her.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
Or his latest modeling gig.

Megan is gone, and Shafan launches into a SERIES of short-sequence over-the- top ├╝ber-vogue modeling POSES. Ethan just stares at the wall. And then Shafan's gone, replaced by Peter, leaning against the wall near the door.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
I don't know what Peter talked about.

Peter is sitting Indian-style on the floor where Jake and Isaac had crouched, looking solemnly up at Ethan.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
They probably just stared at each other.
(laughs)

INT. MENTAL WARD -OBSERVATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Isaac smiles slightly.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
Freaky, man.

INT. MENTAL WARD - HALLWAY - LATER

Isaac is leaning against the wall outside Ethan's quarters, waiting. The door opens and Jake steps out. Isaac pushes himself up off the wall.

ISAAC
Anything?

Jake shakes his head and walks OFFSCREEN down the hall.

ISAAC
Maybe next week, huh?

He follows.

INT. JAKE'S CAR - DUSK

Jake is driving. It's quiet for a while, then

JAKE
They're talking about electrotherapy.

ISAAC
What?

JAKE
Shock treatment. Beautiful Mind type shit.

ISAAC
No way...

JAKE
(nods)
Say they've got nothing to lose.

Isaac just stares at him in disbelief.

SMASH CUT TO:

FAST-MOTION short-sequence MONTAGE

-- Two LAB TECHs in white coats wheel a stretcher-bound Ethan into position.

-- CLOSE UP of his wrists as they secure them with thick leather STRAPS.

-- CLOSE UP of a Tech's hand as he SQUEEZES clear GEL from a tube onto his gloved hand and smoothes it out.

--Ethan's face (still no emotion) as the techs apply the gel to his forehead and follow it with various electrical probes and contacts.

--Ethan's body CONVULSING as he is shocked

-- CLOSE UP of his FLOPPING hands.

-- Ethan's face, his eyes rolled up into his head. We MOVE IN slowly, and the camera begins to SHAKE VIOLENTLY.

END MONTAGE

FADE TO WHITE

A moment of WHITE SCREEN, then

FADE INTO:

INT. MENTAL WARD - ETHAN'S QUARTERS - DAY

Ethan is standing beside his bed, an open suitcase in front of him. Also on the bed are several pairs of clothes, a watch, wallet, and other personal effects.

ISAAC (V.O.)
To paraphrase the doctors, it was a fucking miracle.

Ethan begins to pack the suitcase, his movements measured. He seems deep in thought.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
They had expected him to recover, yes, but not so quickly.

Ethan packs the last of his stuff and closes the suitcase.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
But he wasn't out of the woods yet, they warned us.

We MOVE BACK a bit. Ethan's DAD is standing with Dr. Steen in the open doorway.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
There was still healing that needed to happen.

DAD
Ready?

ETHAN
Definitely.

He picks up the suitcase and walks over to the two men.

DR. STEEN
(extends his hand)
Ethan.

Ethan shakes the doctor's hand and nods.

ETHAN
Doctor.

INT. MENTAL WARD - WAITING ROOM - DAY

Ethan's MOM and Isaac are sitting down when Ethan and Dad enter. Mom JUMPS UP and RUNS over to HUG Ethan. He almost drops his suitcase, but Isaac STEPS IN and manages to take it.

MOM
(still holding Ethan tightly)
I'm so sorry we didn't visit. I, I just couldn't...bear to see
you like that.

ETHAN
It's okay.

MOM
I'm so sorry. We should have come.

Ethan pulls away so he can look at her.

ETHAN
It's okay.

Mom HUGS him again.

EXT. MENTAL WARD - MINUTES LATER

Mom, Dad, Ethan and Isaac walk down the sidewalk away from the ward. Jake is waiting with their car at the curb. As they get closer, he gets out and goes around to OPEN the passenger side doors. Ethan approaches the car, sets his suitcase down, and HUGS Jake.

ISAAC (V.O.)
The doctors told us that it would be good for Ethan to revisit
places that had good memories associated with them, especially
good memories of his sister, since this all sort of started with
her.

Jake helps everyone get into the car, then CLOSES the doors behind them and gets back into the driver's side. The car PULLS AWAY from the curb.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
So, we called up Shafan and Peter and went to Fu's.

INT. FU'S BUFFET - LATE AFTERNOON

It's like the opening scene, except everyone's wearing different clothes and Tara's not there. As before, most of the other tables are occupied. The five guys are eating and joking, just like before, except Ethan, who is mostly just listening. Their conversation is INDISTINCT but typically jovial in tone.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
When it comes to getting good food cheap, you can't beat Fu's
Buffet. Seven ninety-five a person, all you can eat, and Jesus
can we eat. Before Tara died, the six of us would come down
here every Sunday, rain or shine, and get gluttonous. Sometimes
Ethan and Jake would skip breakfast and lunch and show up
ravenous just to piss of this lady,

MADAM FU sits behind the cash register, scowling and shooting daggers at the five guys.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
Madam Fu, who runs the place. And boy did she get pissed.

Shafan looks over his shoulder and WAVES at her. Her eyes narrow more than seems possible.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
I mean, think about it. Given the amount of food that we ate,
she was basically getting anally raped every Sunday afternoon.
I bet that first Sunday that we didn't show up - the day of
Tara's funeral - she wept for freaking joy. But now, we were
back. And ready to anally rape.

INT. FU'S BUFFET - LATER

We're looking at a CLOSE-UP of someone's plate as they lay the fourth in a neat row of sesame chicken pieces onto it. WE PULL AWAY and see that it's Peter. On the other side of the buffet table, Jake is loading his plate with an excessive amount of fried rice.

JAKE
I have missed this so much.

Peter SMILES nervously and nods, replacing the serving tongs. Jake adds another scoop of rice to his plate.

JAKE (cont'd)
Come to daddy...

We PAN OVER to the table in the background where Shafan, Ethan and Isaac are still eating. We MOVE CLOSER, and Jake and Peter enter the frame and sit down.

SHAFAN
(mid-sentence)
how everyone has little quirks, right? Well, it took me like
three weeks, but I finally found hers.

JAKE
(settling in)
Who are we talking about?

SHAFAN
My girlfriend Megan.

JAKE
Oh, right.

SHAFAN
So, what it is, is-

ISAAC
(re: Jake's plate)
Whoa, man! How many plates of that shit can you eat?!

JAKE
(solemnly, as if stating a deep truth)
I love rice. I just...I love it.

ISAAC
Ethan, you up for another plate?

ETHAN
Nah.
(considers)
Well...

ISAAC
That's a 'yes'! How about some dumplings?

SHAFAN
Can I finish my story?

JAKE
(to Isaac, food in mouth)
Oh, dude, get me one. Mmm, make it two.

Isaac STANDS and walks OFFSCREEN.

JAKE
I'm sorry, Shafan, go ahead

SHAFAN
Okay, so-

JAKE
(interrupts)
Mm, Ethan, you haven't met Megan. She's pretty cool, man.

SHAFAN
(offhandedly)
Oh, he has. I brought her by to see him one time.

Suddenly, things aren't so jovial.

JAKE
You're kidding, right?

A beat.

SHAFAN
(nervously)
No, I uh, we were going out to eat right near the ward, and I
didn't want to have to go back to get her, so...

Jake shakes his head slowly.

JAKE
You know, there are so many things wrong with that, that I-

ETHAN
It's okay.

Jake looks at Ethan like "are you sure?"

ETHAN
(to Shafan)
Go ahead. Tell your story. You were talking about quirks.

Shafan looks relieved to change topics.

SHAFAN
Okay...yeah, well, I finally found hers.

Isaac RETURNS with two plates.

ISAAC
You guys still talking about this?

He SITS down and PASSES one plate to Ethan.

SHAFAN
(still annoyed)
Yeah, we kinda got interrupted. See, she can't sl-

JAKE
Hey, where's mine?

Isaac points to the buffet table.

SHAFAN
(blurts)
She can't sleep without socks on!

It's oddly quiet. No one seems impressed.

PETER
Umm, okay...

JAKE
(laughs)
Yeah, that's totally normal.

SHAFAN
(disbelief)
No! No, it's not! And it pisses me off, 'cause she gets in bed
with them on and, you know how my floors are starting to get
worn down, well she gets these little splinter stuck in her
socks and they poke me! I'm like almost asleep and she starts
stabbing me with them!

ETHAN
You're still in that same apartment, huh?

SHAFAN
(offhandedly)
Yeah, I'm trying to find a new place.
(back to story)
And, you know, you can't play footsie with someone wearing
socks! I like playing footsie!

Isaac has a strange look on his face.

ISAAC
Yeah, I know...
(looks down at his legs)
now cut it out. I'm not like that!

Isaac, Jake and Peter LAUGH, and Shafan plays along.

SHAFAN
(overdone 'gay' voice)
Oh, thstop it, you guys. Thstop it!

Ethan SMILES, showing more emotion than usual. Isaac sees this.

ISAAC (V.O.)
Even if he wasn't back to his old self yet, he was getting
there, and it was good to have him back. When you think about
it, he's the core of our group. He and Jake go way back, like
grade-school days.

(Note: Begin flashback scenes)

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - HIS ROOM - DAY

YOUNG ETHAN and YOUNG JAKE (both approx. 8 yrs old) play an era-appropriate video game.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
I started hanging with them freshman year, when my parents
started to realize that they hated each other.

EXT. ISAAC'S HOUSE - NIGHT

We hear Isaac's parents ARGUING. The back door OPENS, and a younger- looking Isaac, carrying a backpack, SLIPS OUT the back door.

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT

Ethan's Mom unfurls a sheet in our direction and starts to make the guest bed. Isaac and Jake stand to the side, the backpack on the floor next to them. A younger-looking Tara stands in the doorway.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
Ethan's parents were so cool that when they found out how messed
up my folks were, they let me move in with them, almost some
Seventh Heaven type shit. At first it only supposed to be for a
few days, but...I sort of never left.

INT. HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA - DAY

Jake, Isaac, and Ethan are eating lunch.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
Somewhere during junior year, Peter started hanging with us,

Peter WALKS up from offscreen, SITS down next to Jake, and starts to eat like nothing's going on. Jake looks over at Isaac and Ethan. They all SHRUG like, 'whatever, it's cool'.

INT. HIGH SCHOOL HALLWAY - DAY

Shafan WALKS down the hallway, a girl on each arm and a couple more following close behind him. He LOOKS over and sees a group of JOCKS waiting for him.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
and a couple of months later, Shafan decided that being popular
with the ladies wasn't everything, and that if he didn't want
his get his ass handed to him daily by the jocks, he'd better
make some male friends.

Shafan DUCKS away from the girls and steps out of the flow of traffic. A moment later, the Ethan, Jake, Isaac and Peter walk past, and Shafan steps up right behind them, matching their pace. The jocks GLARE at him but do nothing. As before, the other guys look back at him and shrug their acceptance.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
He was cool enough, I guess

INT. JAKE'S CAR - DAY

The car is stopped at a DRIVE THRU window. Jake is in the driver's seat, and Shafan is sitting beside him.

DRIVE THRU ATTENDANT
Twenty-two sixty-one, please.

Shafan opens his WALLET, and we see that he has tons of cash. He pulls out a few bills and HANDS them to Jake, who passes them to the attendant.

JAKE
Keep the change.

The attendant hands three large fast-food bags to Jake, who passes them back to Tara, who is sitting on Peter's knees in the back seat, her legs stretched out across Ethan and Isaac.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
And that was us. We let Tara hang too, once she lost some of
her bitchiness.

Tara reaches into the bag and pulls out a few fries, which she stuffs teasingly into her mouth. Ethan and Isaac immediately LEAN towards her, arms outstretched.

ETHAN & ISAAC
Friiies!

Peter just looks up at Tara with his nervous grin.

(End flashback scenes)

INT. FU'S BUFFET - AFTERNOON

The five guys are all LEANING BACK in their chairs. There's a sizeable pile of discarded PLATES STACKED on the table.

JAKE
Oh man, no mas.

ISAAC
I am stuffed.

SHAFAN
Yes sir.

It gets quiet.

ISAAC (V.O.)
Back in the day, we had this tradition. Well, Ethan said it was
a tradition, like we made it up ourselves or something, but I'm
sure everybody does it.

All five guys are LOOKING at something on the table, and we PAN DOWN to see what it is. On top of the bill are five FORTUNE COOKIES.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
After we had sufficiently gorged ourselves at Madame Fu's
expense, we'd each take a fortune cookie and read the fortune
out loud. It was always ladies first, or lady in our case.

We PAN back UP, and suddenly Tara is sitting there quietly, but no one notices.

We CHANGE VIEWS, and she's gone. Ethan looks disturbed. Jake breaks the tension.

JAKE
Come on, grab one. I'll go first.

Everyone TAKES a cookie. Jake UNWRAPS his, BREAKS it open, and tugs the paper slip out. He looks at Ethan as he unfolds it. Ethan is turning his cookie over in his hands, the unopened plastic CRINKLING. It looks like he's thinking about something unpleasant.

JAKE
(laughs, then reads aloud)
'To this place you will never return..' What the hell is that?
Are they trying to lose business?

ISAAC
It's a set-up.

SHAFAN
Yeah...yeah they purposefully gave us that one, trying to scare
us off.

ISAAC
Business was going so good, but we just had to come back!

SHAFAN
They'd do anything to be free of us!

JAKE
Clever...very clever.

Everyone instinctively turns to Ethan, waiting for his contribution to the running joke. He's smiling slightly, but just keeps TURNING the cookie over in his hands.

Once again, it's a bit awkward.

SHAFAN
Okay, I'll go.

He breaks the cookie open. As he unfolds the fortune, the smile DROPS off his face. He's absolutely quiet.

ISAAC
(nervous)
Shafan, man, what is it?

Shafan FOLDS the paper calmly, places it on the table in front of him, and COVERS it with both hands.

JAKE
What is it, Shafan?

Shafan shakes his head slowly. Now Jake's looking worried.

JAKE
Come on, man, what is it?

Shafan doesn't move. It's like he's seen a ghost. Jake looks back at Shafan, then REACHES across the table and MOVES Shafan's hands. Shafan doesn't try to stop him. Jake TAKES the fortune and, holding it where only he can see it, UNFOLDS it.

He's instantly incensed. For a second, it looks like he's going to explode out of his chair, but he reins himself in and LEANS BACK in the chair, looking around and NODDING knowingly, as if he's figure out a difficult riddle.

JAKE
(loudly, announcing to everyone)
Alright, Madam Fu, this shit isn't funny!

All the conversation at other tables STOPS. Everyone STARES at him. Madam Fu is nowhere in sight.

JAKE (cont'd)
(laughs dryly)
We get it. We won't come back, but this is not fucking funny,
do you hear me?!

It seems like he might say something else, but he just sets his chair down calmly.

JAKE
Alright guys, let's get out of here. Looks like we've worn out
our welcome.

Ethan is STARING hard at Jake, and when he speaks, his voice is measured but INTENSE.

ETHAN
What does it say?

JAKE
Nothing, man. Come on. Let's get some Marble Slab or
something.

ETHAN
What does it say?

Nobody's moving. Jake meets Ethan's stare.

SHAFAN
Don't. Please don't.

ETHAN
Jake...tell me.

Shafan looks like he's about to start crying.

SHAFAN
Jake, please, man, let's just go. I'm not kidding.

ETHAN
Jake.

Jake is torn. He's holding the fortune tightly.

ETHAN (cont'd)
Am I your friend, Jake?

Jake hesitantly nods, tormented.

SHAFAN
(softly)
Just tear it up, please.

ETHAN
Tell me what it says.

JAKE
I can't.
(shakes his head, about to break down)
I can't

Ethan HOLDS OUT his open hand.

SHAFAN
(dead serious)
Jake, no.

A beat, then Jake GIVES Ethan the fortune. Ethan UNFOLDS the paper.

CLOSE UP on the fortune, we read

'You are responsible for the death of someone close to you'

CLOSE UP of Ethan's eyes, his head down-turned as he reads the slip.

Out of nowhere, Ethan LUNGES out of his chair and over the table. He TACKLES Shafan, hitting him in the chest. Shafan's chair TIPS OVER backwards, carrying both of them down ONTO THE FLOOR. Ethan pins Shafan to the floor and PUNCHES him over and over as hard as he can.

Suddenly, the IMAGE FREEZES, Ethan's face twisted into a mask of rage, his FIST drawn back, suspended in the air, about to hit Shafan again.

CUT TO BLACK SCREEN

ISAAC (V.O.)
It all started like this.

CUT TO:

INT. ETHAN'S HOME - HALLWAY - AFTERNOON

Ethan is walking down the hall, past his sister's room. Her door is mostly open, and, as he passes, he OVERHEARS

TARA (O.C.)
(mid-sentence)
have to tell him. I'm gonna see him tonight.

Ethan STOPS, and pushes Tara's door open. She's on the phone.

ETHAN
See who?

Tara LOOKS UP and tries to close the door, but Ethan easily keeps it open.

ETHAN
See who? Are you dating somebody again?

TARA
(to phone)
Hold on.
(to Ethan)
Would you get out?

ETHAN
Who is it?

Tara GLARES at him.

TARA
(to phone)
Liz, I gotta go.
(pause)
Ethan's being an asshole. Bye.

The phone BEEPS off.

ETHAN
Who is it?

TARA
None of your business.

ETHAN
Yes, it is.

TARA
Okay, Dad.

She sighs wearily and rolls her eyes. Ethan can tell he's losing.

ETHAN
I just want to know who it is.

TARA
Well, I'm not gonna tell you.

ETHAN
(laughs dryly)
It's another scumbag druggie, isn't it.

For a moment, Tara is too SHOCKED to respond, then

TARA
You know what? Fuck you.

ETHAN
Whoa! It's little miss hostility!

TARA
It's not like it matters anyway. I'm breaking up with him
tonight.

Ethan studies her face.

ETHAN
You're not just saying that?

TARA
Oh, so first I date scumbag losers, and now I'm a liar, is that
it?
(sigh, then honestly)
No, I'm not just saying that.

A beat.

ETHAN
Okay.

TARA
Now would you please get out?

Ethan turns and WALKS OUT. Tara begins to REDIAL and CLOSES the door on us.

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - NIGHT

The night sky and stars. In one continuous shot, we slowly PAN DOWN to the white florescence of street lamps.

ISAAC (V.O.)
According to her friend, Tara was supposed to meet her mystery
man at Shellace Park.

We continue to slowly PAN DOWN, seeing the dark outline of TREES and then the steady blue and red pulse of POLICE LIGHTS against the darkness.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
So, when she didn't come home, that's where the police looked
first.

MOVING LOWER, we see squad cars and police tape. Uniformed OFFICERS and DETECTIVES in suits move around. We slowly sink to STREET LEVEL, and see TARA, lying on her stomach in, her face toward us, DEAD. There's BLOOD dripping down from her between her shoulders onto the gravel jogging path.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
That's where they found her.

A DOWNWARD angle, from above. A female CSI (JULIA) is crouching near Tara's body. Another woman, DETECTIVE MILLS, approaches. Julia LOOKS UP.

JULIA
Pretty standard - single stab wound to the back. At this point,
it's either respiratory failure or blood loss, but look at this.
(indicates the stab wound)
You don't get stabbed like this running away.

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - NIGHT (DRAMATIZATION)

Tara is FACING US us, partly obscured by a silhouetted male FIGURE who is standing in our way.

TARA
I can't do this! I can't keep sneaking around like this...I'm
sorry.

She begins to TURN AWAY, and the figure reaches out and GRABS her arm. She SHAKES him off.

TARA
No! It's over.

In blatantly-stolen CSI-style, Tara turns her back to the figure and begins to WALK AWAY. The figure moves to catch up with her and STABS her once from behind.

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

MILLS
She turned away. Intentionally.

JULIA
Odds are...

Mills nods and finishes

MILLS
She knew the killer.

INT. POLICE STATION - INTERROGATION ROOM - DAY

Detective Mills is sitting with LIZ, the girl Tara was talking to on the phone.

MILLS
Liz, who was Tara seeing?

LIZ
I'm not sure. She wouldn't say.
(a pause, as she thinks)
It was...someone her brother knew, one of his friends, I think.
Sorry.

INT. POLICE STATION - WAITING ROOM - DAY

Ethan's Mom and Dad sit HUDDLED next to each other. Dad has his arm around Mom, but he can't make her stop CRYING.

On the OTHER SIDE of the room, Ethan sits between Isaac and Jake. He is eerily calm, staring across the room, showing the first signs of the behavior (or lack thereof) that will eventually land him in the mental ward.

Against another wall, Shafan and Peter sit next to each other. They both look like they're in shock.

ETHAN
The detective said it was one of my friends.

JAKE
They're just guessing. That's what they do.
(looks over at Ethan)
Ethan, what are you thinking?

Jake looks at Ethan's eyes, and we FOLLOW Ethan's STARE over to Shafan.

JAKE (cont'd)
Oh Jesus. Ethan, come on.

ETHAN
If you were Tara, who would you go out with?

Jake looks around to make sure no one is listening.

JAKE
Ethan, come on, man, it's Shafan we're talking about. He had to
wait outside when they put his dog down. Remember that? His
little sister called him a wuss.

ISAAC
Well, as long as we're throwing out names, how 'bout Peter?

Ethan doesn't move. Jake turns to Isaac.

JAKE
What?

ISAAC
I'm seriously. He could do it.

JAKE
You guys - I can't believe you're even talking about this shit.
Do you have any idea how wrong this is?

ISAAC
I'm just saying.

Jake's had enough. He starts to stand up.

JAKE
(angry)
I'm not gonna listen to this. It wasn't Shafan, and it wasn't
Peter! It wasn't anybody we know. It was a druggie or, or a
thief, or maybe just some sick fuck, I don't know. But trying
to blame somebody isn't going to help or make it go away.
You're sitting here talking about Peter and Sha- shit, man!
I...Jesus! It's sick!

He walks OFFSCREEN.

Ethan hasn't moved.

ETHAN
It was Shafan.

Ethan just keeps staring.

ISAAC (V.O)
Jake was ready to write it off as grief...

INT TARA'S ROOM - DAY

Julia, Detective Mills, and another detective are methodically SEARCHING the room for any evidence or clues.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
But then... Standing at Tara's bureau, Detective Mills OPENS a small box and draws out an expensive-looking silver NECKLACE, letting it uncoil and dangle from her fingers. She smiles knowingly.

INT. POLICE STATION - INTERROGATION ROOM - DAY

Mom, Dad, Ethan, Jake, and Isaac are sitting with Detective Mills. Mills produces a small plastic BAG with the necklace inside. She opens the bag and removes the necklace.

MILLS
Do any of you recognize this?

Everyone shakes their heads.

MOM
(softly)
No.

MILLS
We found this in her room, seperate from the rest of her
jewelry. You're sure you don't recognize it?
(waits for a response)
Good. That's something to work with.

CLOSE UP of the necklace.

ISAAC (V.O)
It was platinum, the detective said, worth at least three
hundred dollars. Tara couldn't have afforded it, and no one
else recognized it. So that meant it was a gift, and there was
only person I knew with that kind of money.

INT. JAKE'S CAR - DAY (FLASHBACK)

We're back at the drive-thru. Once again, Shafan opens his wallet, and we see that he has tons of cash. In SLOW MOTION, we see him hand a few bills to Jake.

EXT. JEWELRY STORE - DAY

An establishing shot. The store is upscale and easily identified.

INT. JEWELRY STORE - CONTINUOUS

No audio. Detective Mills is talking to a saleswoman, who shakes her head.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd)
It was a dead end. The necklace proved to be essentially
untraceable. No serial number or maker's mark, and no one
remembered having sold it. Without any leads or physical
evidence, the case stopped moving,

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - HIS ROOM - DAY

Ethan sits on the side of his bed, a closed window behind him. He's STARING at the wall.

ISAAC (V.O.) (cont'd
and, after a while, so did Ethan.

BEGIN SEGUE MONTAGE (half-second clips - previous footage)

-- Ethan in black-and-white on TV screen

-- His wrists tethered down

-- Ethan convulsing from electrocution

-- His suitcase closing

-- Ethan lunging over table at Shafan

-- Ethan beating Shafan

END MONTAGE

INT. FU'S BUFFET - LATE AFTERNOON

We're right where we left - Ethan BEATING the shit out of Shafan. Jake, Peter, and Isaac JUMP out of their chairs and RUSH OVER.

JAKE
Ethan, stop!

ETHAN
You killed her! You killed her!
(repeats over and over)

Jake GRABS Ethan and THROWS him off of Shafan. Peter gets between the two and starts to help Shafan up. Ethan immediately gets back on his feet and comes after Shafan again, but Jake and Isaac GRAB him and hold him back.

ETHAN
You bastard, you killed her!

He PUSHES against Jake and Isaac, straining to get free, but Jake is bigger than he is, and there's two of them.

Shafan STANDS up and glares at Ethan warily. His whole face is bloody.

CLOSE UP of Ethan's seething face as he begins to calm down.

INT. FU'S BUFFET - KITCHEN - MINUTES LATER

Shafan is sitting on an empty metal bucket, another bucket in front of him. He leans forward and SPITS BLOOD into it. Peter comes onscreen with an ICEPACK, which Shafan puts on his forehead.

We PAN RIGHT, past a wide row of shelves, to another area, where Ethan is sitting against a wall, his head down. Jake is pacing back and forth. Peter is standing in the corner.

Jake STOPS pacing and TURNS to Ethan.

JAKE
Ethan, listen to me. Shafan did not kill Tara.

No response.

JAKE (cont'd)
Look at me.
(a beat)
Look at me.

Ethan looks up.

ETHAN
(re: Shafan's fortune)
It said.

JAKE
He didn't. You hear me?

ETHAN
You saw what it said.

JAKE
(nods)
Yes, I did. It was a joke. A bad one. They were trying to get
rid of us, and you know what, we're going to fuck them back. My
dad knows some lawyers who would lo- Ethan, listen to me.
Ethan...

ETHAN
I know what it said.

Unnoticed in the background, Peter takes his FORTUNE COOKIE out of his pocket and begins to UNWRAP it.

JAKE
Remember what we said, when I opened mine? They set it up.
They just, they didn't know what it would do to you. It was an
accident, okay?

CLOSE UP on Peter's hands as he snaps OPEN the cookie. He DROPS the empty half and PULLS the paper out. He UNFOLDS it, and we are close enough to read

"In matters of life, there is no chance."

We stay focused on the fortune.

JAKE (O.C.)
Okay?

ETHAN (O.C.)
Okay.

JAKE (O.C.)
(more assured)
Okay.
(a beat)
Peter, stay here, huh?

Peter looks up. Jake is looking offscreen in the direction of Shafan. Peter nods, and we FOLLOW Jake as he WALKS over to where Shafan is sitting. Isaac is still there, and so is a COP.

Jake and the cop step off to the side.

JAKE
Officer.

COP
Madam Fu has agreed not to press charges, provided that all five
of you sign a voluntary restraining order saying you'll stay off
the premises from now on.

JAKE
Oh...that's very nice of her. I'll have to keep that in mind
when we're suing the shit out of her.

COP
(shakes his head)
She's denying any involvement or knowledge of the incident.
According to her, your friends just started fighting.
(motions to Shafan)
And this one's not saying much. You sure you don't want me to
call an ambulance?

JAKE
Yeah. We'll be okay.
(calls)
Peter.

Peter enters from offscreen.

JAKE
(quietly)
Take Shafan home.
(nods for Isaac to go to Ethan)
Thank you, officer.

INT. JAKE'S CAR - DUSK

Jake is driving. Ethan is in the passenger seat, but he's as FROZEN as he was in the ward. Isaac is in the back seat. No one talks.

EXT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - DUSK

Jake's car PULLS UP to the curb. Isaac GETS OUT of the back seat and OPENS Ethan's door. Ethan doesn't move, so Isaac helps him out of the car. Ethan stands by the car numbly while Isaac leans into the car to talk to Jake.

JAKE
Are his parents home?

ISAAC
I don't know. They should be.

JAKE
Car's not there. Want me to stay?

ISAAC
Nah. We'll be alright.

A pause, as Jake decides what to do.

JAKE
Okay. See ya.

Isaac CLOSES the passenger side door and guides Ethan up the walkway towards the house. Jake waits for a few seconds, then PULLS AWAY.

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MINUTES LATER

CLOSE-UP of a note on the refrigerator. It reads

"Out to eat. Back by 11. Hope you had fun."

Isaac pulls it off the fridge and reads it. He laughs in disbelief.

ISAAC
Their son's back from the dead, and they're out to eat.

He TOSSES the note onto the counter and WALKS OUT.

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - HIS ROOM - NIGHT

Ethan is sitting on the side of his bed, as before. Isaac is standing beside him, popping Unisom tablets out of their blister pack. There's a glass of water on the desk beside them.

Isaac holds out the pills

ISAAC
Here, take these. Ethan, take these.

Hesitantly, Ethan TAKES the pills from Isaac's hand. Isaac hands him the glass of water. As Ethan takes a drink and swallows the pills, Isaac uses his shirt to dab up the condensation left by the water glass. He turns back to Ethan, who hands him the half-empty glass.

ISAAC
Thank you. I'll, uh, I'll see you in the morning.

He turns to go.

ISAAC (cont'd)
You want the light on?

Ethan doesn't answer, so Isaac just shuts the door on his way out.

INT. SHAFAN'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Shafan is on the couch with MEGAN, his head in her lap.. She's PETTING his hair, but is careful to avoid the cut near his temple. The lights are down low, but we see that his face is badly bruised, and his lip is swollen.

SHAFAN
(softly)
It's true, you know.

MEGAN
(absentmindedly)
Hmm?

SHAFAN
What the fortune said.

MEGAN
Oh, shhh. We've talked about this, Shae. You didn't have
anything to do with Tar-

We MOVE CLOSER to Shafan's face, so that we can't see Megan anymore.

SHAFAN
No. Not Tara. When I was seven, my great-grandmother was
living with us. She was so mean, cruel. To me. She was very
sick, fluid in her lungs, I think. Sometimes, at night, she
would wake up coughing and have to sit up straight to make it go
away. She was frail, couldn't do much but talk. That was how
she hurt people.

His eyes are shimmering with tears.

SHAFAN (cont'd)
One night, she started coughing, but she couldn't sit up. She
was too weak. So she called to me. 'Shafan! Shafan!' My
bedroom was right down the hall, and I started to get out of bed
to help, but she was so cruel. She would hiss and curse and say
'you're just like a little girl, Shafan, a little girl"

He swallows down the emotion.

SHAFAN (cont'd)
and I just stayed there, in my bed, listening to her.

Megan slowly withdraws her hands.

SHAFAN (cont'd)
"Shafan! Shafan!" but I just held my pillow.

A pause, then

SHAFAN (cont'd)
She finally realized...that I wasn't coming, so she started to
call my mother, but she was too far away to hear. Part of me
wanted to get up and help her, and part of me wanted to get up
and stand there watching her, but I just...didn't move. I just
didn't.

He breaks down SOBBING. Even with his head in Megan's lap, he seems very alone. After a moment, he begins to COMPOSE himself.

SHAFAN (cont'd)
When they found her in the morning, they said she died of
natural causes. That it had been quick and for us not to feel
guilty 'cause she hadn't been able to call for help.

He shakes his head slowly, his lips twisted with emotion.

SHAFAN (cont'd)
And...I never told anyone. Anyone.

He looks up at Megan. Without a word, she SLIDES off the sofa, letting his head hit the cushion. He doesn't go after her, only stares up at the ceiling. We HEAR her leaving, and when the door SLAMS shut, he BREAKS DOWN again.

After a few seconds, he STANDS up and moves anemically into the darkened kitchen. He leaves the lights off. He leans against the refrigerator as he OPENS it. He takes out a pitcher of water, gets a glass down from the cupboard, and pours himself a drink.

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Isaac is sitting on the his sofa, reading a magazine, when the phone rings. He discards the magazine and picks up the phone.

ISAAC
Hello?

DR. STEEN
(urgent)
Mr. Graham, this is Doctor Steen, from the ward. The police
just informed me of what happened.

ISAAC
This is Isaac, Doctor.

DR. STEEN
Isaac! Is everyone okay? Are Ethan's parents there?

ISAAC
(laughs sarcastically)
No, they're actually out to eat. And we're fine.

DR. STEEN
Where's Ethan?

ISAAC
(smiling)
He's in his room. I gave him some Unisom and put him to bed.

DR. STEEN
You need to check on him now.

ISAAC
He's fine, doc.

DR. STEEN
Listen, if he's still convinced that this Shafan boy is to
blame, he will go after him again.

ISAAC
I appreciate the concern, Doctor, but Jake and I talked to him,
and he understands it wasn't Shafan.

DR. STEEN
So he hasn't relapsed?

ISAAC
Well, he's a bit down, but-

DR. STEEN
Isaac, check on him.

ISAAC
Doc-

DR. STEEN
Now.

Isaac sighs. We FOLLOW him down the hall to Ethan's room. Still holding the phone, he KNOCKS on the door. No answer. He KNOCKS AGAIN.

ISAAC
Hey, Ethan. Doctor Steen's on the phone. He wants to make sure
you're okay.
(pause, listening for sound)
Ethan?

Isaac tries the doorknob. It's locked.

ISAAC
Ethan?

He looks down at the phone, then up at the door.

ISAAC
Ethan?
(pause, then sighs)
Jesus...

He LEANS against the door, then tries to FORCE it open. Nothing. He takes a step back, then RAMS his side against it. The door-frame BREAKS inward and Isaac STUMBLES into Ethan's room.

It's empty, and the WINDOW is open. On the desk are the two pills Isaac gave him and Ethan's shattered fortune cookie. Isaac picks up the fortune, and CLOSE UP we see that it says

"Opportunities ignored, like time ill-spent, can never be regained"

ISAAC
Oh shit.

DR. STEEN
(barely audible, on phone)
Hello? Hello?

Isaac HANGS UP and hurriedly begins to DIAL a new number.

INT. SHAFAN'S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Shafan is leaning against the counter in the darkened kitchen, outside of the light from the window above the sink. He occasionally take a sip from his half-empty glass. The phone RINGS. He moves slowly to answer it.

SHAFAN
Hello?

ISAAC
Shafan, get out of there!

SHAFAN
What?

ISAAC
Ethan still thinks you killed her. He's probably on his way
there right now.

SHAFAN
What? But-

ISAAC
Just get out, go to your girlfriend's, whatever.

SHAFAN
Alright.

He sets down the glass and WALKS QUICKLY toward the back of the house.

SHAFAN (cont'd)
Okay, I'm going, I'll-

He's about to push open a swinging door, but the door SWINGS toward him and HITS him in the face. He STUMBLES backward, holding his face, and FALLS on his butt. The phone drops from his hand and CLATTERS across the floor.

It's Ethan. Shafan is STUNNED, and Ethan GRABS him by the neck and pulls him to his feet. Ethan PUNCHES Shafan, who collides with the wall. Ethan GRABS HIM AGAIN.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Isaac clutches the phone, LISTENING to the struggle, his eyes wide.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. SHAFAN'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Ethan is trying to speak, but he's so enraged that he can only GRUNT wordlessly. PINNED against the wall, Shafan tries to PUSH Ethan away, one hand on Ethan's wrist, the other hand splayed across his determined face.

But it's no good. We see the life draining from Shafan as he struggles less and less. At last, he GOES SLACK. Ethan lets him SLIDE down to the floor. BREATHING HEAVILY, Ethan crouches down and picks up the phone. He looks like an animal. He LISTENS for a sound on the other end.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Isaac stands motionless, holding his breath.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. SHAFAN'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Hearing nothing, Ethan TURNS OFF the phone and DROPS it to the ground.

INT. ETHAN'S HOUSE - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Isaac holds the phone away from his ear, listening to the DIAL TONE. He turns off the phone, walks calmly back to the living room, and sets the phone back on its base. He goes to the closet and takes out his JACKET, then opens the front door and WALKS OUT.

INT. SHAFAN'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Ethan is sitting on the floor, his back against the wall. His BREATHING slowly becomes calmer, and his appearance changes from bestial to something more peaceful than we've seen before. In the silence, moonlight shines on his face from the kitchen window. He closes his eyes, at last at peace. It's almost beautiful.

EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD STREET - NIGHT

A few people have their porchlights on, but other than that it's just the streetlights and the cold night. Isaac walks along the street, near the raised sidewalk. The hood of his jacket is pulled up. He has his head down, and his BREATH RISES around his face.

We FLASH TO: Tara sitting on her bed, facing us. She smiles and turns away.

After a few steps, Isaac slows to a STOP. We move CLOSER. He PUSHES his HOOD OFF slowly. It looks like he's thinking about something grim.

(Note: the following cuts should be quick, segueing back and forth easily, with no loss of tempo)

CUT TO:

INT. TARA'S ROOM - NIGHT

Tara is sitting at the head of her bed, in the same position as we saw in the short flash. Isaac is sitting on the bed, facing her.

ISAAC
So...it's been a month now.

TARA
Yeah...
(pause)
It seems like longer.

ISAAC
I...I have something for you.

He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the platinum necklace.

TARA gasps.

TARA
Isaac, how...?

ISAAC
It was my mom's. I took it when I left.

TARA
(laughs incredulously)
You're giving me stolen jewelry for our one-month anniversary?

ISAAC
Don't worry - she'll think my dad took it, and if she says
anything, he'll just think she's lying to piss him off.

Tara shakes her head, still unconvinced.

ISAAC
(off her expression)
Look, my whole life, they've gotten what they wanted. I think
it's time I got what I wanted for once. And I want you to have
this.
(pause, gauging her reaction)
Okay?

A beat, as she considers.

TARA
Okay.

He leans forward and fastens the necklace around her neck.

TARA
Thank you. It's beautiful.

ISAAC
It's nothing you don't deserve.

CUT TO:

EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD STREET - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Isaac reaches into his pocket and pulls out his fortune cookie. We see his hand CLOSE UP as he holds it at his side.

CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - NIGHT (DRAMATIZATION)

A CLOSE-UP of Tara looking past the camera, her face palely lit by the lamplights. After a second, the IMAGE FREEZES.

TARA (V.O)
(previous dialogue)
I can't do this!

The impassioned speech doesn't seem to match the frozen image.

CUT TO:

EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD STREET - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Isaac's hand almost fills the screen as he balls his FIST around the cookie, CRUSHING it inside its packaging.

CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - NIGHT (DRAMATIZATION/FLASHBACK)

As before, Tara is facing us, a masculine silhouette in the foreground.

TARA
I can't do this! I can't keep sneaking around like this...I'm
sorry.

She begins to TURN AWAY, and the figure reaches out and GRABS her arm. She SHAKES him off.

TARA
No! It's over.

A REVERSE ANGLE shows Isaac's reaction. At first he looks crushed, his head and arms hanging limply. But then he straightens up a bit, and his right hand starts to lift the bottom hem of his jacket, revealing his belt, on which is sheathed a sizeable knife. We ZOOM IN QUICKLY on the knife and

CUT TO:

INT. TARA'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

Isaac has just given Tara the necklace.

TARA
I got you something too

She REACHES under the bed and retrieves a black cigar box . She sets it dramatically on the bed for Isaac to see. There is a distinct silver symbol painted on the lid.

ISAAC
(laughs excitedly)
No way!

We look down over his shoulder as he flips back the lid. Inside is a wicked-looking ornamented KNIFE - the one from the park scene - lying on a black satin pillow. A matching sheath is attached to the inside of the lid.

TARA
(quietly)
You didn't think anyone saw you looking at in that shop, but...
(smiles)
I did.

Isaac looks down at the knife again.

TARA (V.O)
(previous dialogue)
I can't do this!

CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - NIGHT (DRAMATIZATION/FLASHBACK)

Isaac looks up, his hand wrapped around the knife's handle. He's enraged.

As before, we follow Tara as she starts to walks away. Isaac LUNGES into the frame from behind her and stabs her in the back. She STUMBLES forward and COLLAPSES onto the gravel. She STRUGGLES to get up, looking back over her shoulder in terror.

REVERSE ANGLE. Isaac stands over her in the pale lamplight, bloody knife in hand. Tara is to hurt to stand up, so she begins to CRAWL away on her hands and knees.

Isaac GRIMACES in anger. He moves in again and KICKS her in the ribs. She FALLS on her side with a GASP, but after a moment, begins to crawl again. We WATCH from slightly behind him as he watches her try, one last time, to crawl away. She doesn't get far before collapsing again, dead.

CUT TO:

EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD STREET - CONTINUOUS FROM LAST

We're back to Isaac, standing near the curb. We watch from MIDDLE DISTANCE as, after a silent moment, he tosses the crumbled fortune cookie to the ground. As it FALLS in SLOW-MOTION towards the gutter, it CHANGES SHAPE - just before it DISAPPEARS into the gutter, it is has become the murder KNIFE.

Isaac PULLS UP his HOOD and WALKS down the street. We STAY where we are, watching him DISAPPEAR into the night.

FADE OUT