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Smoke


1.     EXT:  DAY.  ELEVATED SUBWAY TRAIN
     Against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, we see an elevated
     subway train heading toward Brooklyn.
     After a moment, we begin to hear voices. An animated discussion is
     taking place inside the Brooklyn Cigar Company.
2.      INT:  DAY.  THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
     The cigar shop from within. Displays of cigar boxes, a wall of
     magazines, piles of newspapers. cigarettes, smoking paraphernalia. On
     the walls, we see framed black-and-white photographs of people smoking
     cigars: Groucho Marx, George Burns, Clint Eastwood, Edward G. Robinson,
     Orson Welles, Charles Laughton, Frankenstein's monster, Leslie Caron,
     Ernie Kovacs.
     Words appear on the screen: "SUMMER 1990."
     AUGGIE WREN is behind the counter. Somewhere between forty and fifty
     years old, AUGGIE is a scruffy presence: unkempt hair, a two-day
     stubble of beard, dressed in blue jeans and a black T-shirt. We see an
     intricate tattoo on one arm.
     It is a slow hour. AUGGIE is flipping through a photography magazine.
     Near the counter are the three OTB MEN. These are local characters who
     like to hang out in the store, shooting the breeze with AUGGIE. One is
     black (TOMMY) and the other two are white (JERRY and DENNIS). DENNIS
     wears a T-shirt with the following words printed across the front: "If
     life is a dream, what happens when I wake up?"
                    TOMMY
          I'll tell you why they're not going anywhere.
                    JERRY
          Yeah? And why is that?
                    TOMMY
          Management. Those guys are walking around with
          their heads up their asses.
                    DENNIS
          They made some great deals. Tommy. Hernandez.
          Carter. Without those two, there never woulda
          been no World Series.
                    TOMMY
          That was four years ago. I'm talking about now.
               (Growing more intense)
          Look who they got rid of. Mitchell. Backman.
          McDowell. Dykstra. Aguillera. Mookie. Mookie
          Wilson, for Chrissakes.
               (Shakes his head)
                    JERRY
               (Sarcastically)
          And Nolan Ryan. Don't forget him.
                     DENNIS
               (Chiming in)
          Yeah. And Amos Otis.
                    TOMMY
               (Shrugs)
          Okay, joke about it. I don't give a shit.
                    JERRY
          Jesus, Tommy, it ain't science, you know. You
          got your good trades and your bad trades.
          That's how it works.
                    TOMMY
          They didn't have to do a thing, that's all I'm
          saying. The team was good, the best fucking
          team in baseball. But then they had to screw it
          up.
                (Pause)
          They traded their birthright for a mess of
          porridge.
               (Shakes his head)
          A mess of porridge.
     The bells on the door jangle as someone enters. It is AUGGIE'S protégé,
     JIMMY ROSE, a mentally retarded man in his late twenties. He has been
     sweeping the sidewalk outside the store and holds a broom in his right
     hand.
                    AUGGIE
          How'd you do out there, Jimmy?
                    JIMMY
          Good, Auggie. Real good.
               (Proudly thrusts out broom)
          All finished.
                    AUGGIE
                 (Philosophically)
          It'll never be finished.
                    JIMMY
               (Confused)
          Huh?
                    AUGGIE
          That's how it is with sidewalks. People come,
          people go, and they all drop shit on the
          ground. As soon as you clean up one spot and
          move on to the next, the first spot is dirty
          again.
                    JIMMY
               (Trying to digest AUGGIE'S comment)
          I just do what you tell me, Auggie. You tell me
          to sweep, so I sweep.
     The bells on the door jangle again, and a customer enters the store: a
     middle-class man in his early thirties. He walks to the counter as
     JERRY teases JIMMY. In the background, we see him talking to AUGGIE.
     AUGGIE pulls some cigar boxes out of the display case and puts them on
     the counter for the YOUNG MAN to inspect. In the foreground we see:
                    JERRY
               (Interrupting. Playfully)
          Hey, Jimmy. You got the time?
                    JIMMY
               (Turning to the SECOND OTB MAN)
          Huh?
                    JERRY
          You still have that watch Auggie gave you?
                    JIMMY
               (Holds up left wrist showing
                cheap digital watch. Smiles)
          Tick-tock, tick-tock.
                    JERRY
          So what's the time?
                    JIMMY
               (Studying watch)
          Twelve-eleven.
               (Pause, marveling as
                the numbers change)
          Twelve-twelve.
               (Looks up, smiling)
          Twelve-twelve.
     A sudden outburst is heard from the area near the counter.
                    YOUNG MAN
               (Aghast)
          Ninety-two dollars?
     The focus of the scene shifts to AUGGIE and the YOUNG MAN.
                    AUGGIE
          They don't come cheap, son. These little honeys
          are works of art. Rolled by hand in a tropical
          climate, most likely by an eighteen year old
          girl in a thin cotton dress with no underwear
          on. Little beads of sweat forming in her naked
          cleavage. The smooth, delicate fingers nimbly
          turning out one masterpiece after another...
                    YOUNG MAN
                (Pointing)
          And how much are these?
                    AUGGIE
          Seventy-eight dollars. The girl who rolled these  
          was probably wearing panties.
                    YOUNG MAN
               (Pointing)
          And these?
                    AUGGIE
           Fifty-six.  That girl had on a corset.
                    YOUNG MAN
               (Pointing)
          And these?

                    AUGGIE
          Forty-four. They're on special this week from
          the Canary Islands. A real bargain.
                       YOUNG MAN
          I think I'll take them.
               (Takes wallet from his pocket
                and counts out $50 which he
                hands to AUGGIE)
                    AUGGIE
          A good choice. You wouldn't want to celebrate
          the birth of your firstborn with a box of
          stinkers, would you? Remember to keep them in
          the refrigerator until you hand them out.
                       YOUNG MAN
          The refrigerator?
                    AUGGIE
          It'll keep them fresh. If they get too dry,
          they'll break. And you don't want that to
          happen, do you?
               (Putting cigar box into a bag,
                ringing up sale on the cash register)
          Tobacco is a plant, and it needs the same
          loving care you'd give an orchid.
                       YOUNG MAN
          Thanks for the tip.
                    AUGGIE
          Any time. And congratulations to you and your
          wife. Just remember, though, in the immortal
          words of Rudyard Kipling: "A woman is just a
          woman, but a cigar is a smoke.
                    YOUNG MAN
               (Confused)
          What does that mean?
                    AUGGIE
          Damned if I know. But it has a nice ring to it,
          don't it?
     At that moment, we hear the bells on the door jangle again. Cut to the
     door. Another customer enters the store: PAUL BENJAMIN. He is in his
     early forties, dressed in rumpled casual clothes. As he approaches the
     counter, the YOUNG MAN brushes past him and leaves the store. The OTB
     MEN and JIMMY look on as PAUL and AUGGIE talk.
                    PAUL
           Hey, Auggie. How's it going?
                    AUGGIE
          Hey, man. Good to see you. What'll it be today?
                    PAUL
          Two tins of Schimmelpennincks. And throw in a
          lighter while you're at it.
                         AUGGIE
               (Reaching for cigars and lighter)
          The boys and I were just having a philosophical
          discussion about women and cigars. Some
          interesting connections there, don't you think?
                    PAUL
               (Laughs)
          Definitely.
               (Pause)
          I suppose it all goes back to Queen Elizabeth.

                         AUGGIE
          The Queen of England?
                    PAUL
          Not Elizabeth the Second, Elizabeth the First.
               (Pause)
          Did you ever hear of Sir Walter Raleigh?
                    TOMMY
          Sure. He's the guy who threw his cloak down
          over the puddle.
                    JERRY
          I used to smoke Raleigh cigarettes. They came
          with a free gift coupon in every pack.
                    PAUL
          That's the man. Well, Raleigh was the person
          who introduced tobacco in England, and since he
          was a favorite of the Queen's -- Queen Bess, he
          used to call her -- smoking caught on as a
          fashion at court. I'm sure Old Bess must have
          shared a stogie or two with Sir Walter. Once,
          he made a bet with her that he could measure
          the weight of smoke.
                    DENNIS
          You mean, weigh smoke?
                    PAUL
          Exactly. Weigh smoke.
                    TOMMY
          You can't do that. It's like weighing air.
                    PAUL
          I admit it's strange. Almost like weighing
          someone's soul. But Sir Walter was a clever
          guy. First, he took an unsmoked cigar and put
          it on a balance and weighed it. Then he lit up
          and smoked the cigar, carefully tapping the
          ashes into the balance pan. When he was
          finished, he put the butt into the pan along
          with the ashes and weighed what was there.
          Then he subtracted that number from the
          original weight of the unsmoked cigar. The
          difference was the weight of the smoke.
                    TOMMY
          Not bad. That's the kind of guy we need to take
          over the Mets.
                    PAUL
          Oh, he was smart, all right. But not so smart
          that he didn't wind up having his head chopped
          off twenty years later.
               (Pause)
          But that's another story.
                    AUGGIE
               (Handing PAUL his change and putting
                cigar tins and lighter in a paper bag)
          Seven eighty-five out of twenty.
               (As PAUL turns to leave)
          Take care of yourself now, and don't do
          anything I wouldn't do.
                    PAUL
               (Smiling)
          I wouldn't think of it.
               (Waves casually to the OTB MEN)
          See you around, fellas.
     AUGGIE and the OTB MEN watch as PAUL leaves the store.
                    TOMMY
               (Turning to AUGGIE)
          What is he, some kind of wise guy?
                    AUGGIE
          Nah. He's a good kid.
                    JERRY
          I've seen him around. He comes in here a lot,
          don't he?
                    AUGGIE
          Couple of times a week, maybe. He's a writer.
          Lives in the neighborhood.
                    TOMMY
          And what kind of writer is he? An underwriter?
                    AUGGIE
               (Peeved)
          Very funny. Some of the cracks you make. Tommy,
          sometimes I think you should see a doctor. You
          know, go in for some wit therapy or something.
          To clean out the valves in your brain.
                    TOMMY
               (A little embarrassed. Shrugs)
          It was just a joke.
                    AUGGIE
          The guy's a novelist. Paul Benjamin. You ever
          hear of him?
               (Pause)
          That's a stupid question. The only things you
          guys read is the Racing Form and pages of the
          Post.
               (Pause)
          He's published three or four books.  But
          nothing now for the past few years.
                    DENNIS
          What's the matter? He run out of ideas?
                    AUGGIE
          He ran out of luck.
               (Pause)
          Remember that holdup out here on Seventh Avenue
          few years back?
                    JERRY
          You talking about the bank? The time those two
          guys started spraying bullets all over the
          street?
                    AUGGIE
          That's it. Four people got killed. One of them
          was Paul's wife.
               (Pause)
          The poor lug, he hasn't been the same since.
               (Pause)
          The funny thing was, she stopped in here just
          before it happened. To stock up on cigars for
          him. She was a nice lady, Ellen. Four or five
          months pregnant at the time, which means that
          when she was killed, the baby was killed, too.
                    TOMMY
          Bad day at Black Rock, eh, Auggie?
     Close-up of AUGGIE'S face. Remembering.
                    AUGGIE
          It was bad, all right. I sometimes think that
          if she hadn't given me exact change that day,
          or if the store had been a little more crowded,
          it would have taken her a few more seconds to
          get out of here, and then maybe she wouldn't
          have stepped in front of that bullet. She'd
          still be alive, the baby would have been born,
          and Paul would be sitting at home writing
          another book instead of wandering the streets
          with a hangover.
               (Pensive, his expression suddenly
                turns to one of alarm)
     Cut to white youth in the corner of the store, shoving paperback books
     into the pockets of his tattered army fatigue jacket.
                    AUGGIE (cont'd)
          Hey! What are you doing there, kid? Hey, cut
          that out!
     AUGGIE scrambles out from behind the counter, pushing his way past the
     OTB MEN as the kid takes off and runs out of the store.
3.     EXT: DAY. SEVENTH AVENUE
     AUGGIE chases the BOOK THIEF down the street. Eventually, he gets
     winded and gives up. He pauses for a moment to catch his breath, then
     turns around and heads back in the direction of the store.
4.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT.  A BROWNSTONE BUILDING IN PARK SLOPE
     (THIRD FLOOR)
     Shot of a little brown cigar, burning in an ashtray.
     The camera pulls back to reveal PAUL at his desk. He is writing in
     longhand, using a pad of yellow legal paper. An old Smith-Corona
     typewriter is also on the desk, poised for work with a half-written
     page in the roller. Off in the corner, we see a neglected word
     processor.
     The workroom is a bare and simple place. Desk, chair, and a small
     wooden bookcase with manuscripts and papers shoved onto its shelves.
     The window faces a brick wall.
     As PAUL continues to write, the camera travels from the workroom into
     the larger of the two rooms that make up his apartment.
     This larger room is an all-purpose space that includes a sleeping area,
     a kitchenette in one corner, a dining table and a large easy chair.
     Crowded bookshelves occupy one wall from floor to ceiling. The bow
     windows face front, looking down onto the street. Near the bed, we see
     a framed photograph of a young woman. (This is Ellen, Paul's dead
     wife.)
     The camera travels back into the workroom. We see PAUL at work. Fade
     out.
     Fade in. We see PAUL at his desk, eating a TV dinner while still
     writing in the pad. After a moment, he inadvertently knocks the food
     off the desk with his elbow. He begins to bend over to pick up the
     food, but as he does so a new idea suddenly occurs to him. Instead of
     cleaning up the mess, he turns back to his pad and continues writing.
5     EXT: DAY. IN FRONT OF THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
     We see PAUL walking out of the cigar store. JIMMY ROSE is on the
     corner, observing him throughout the scene. PAUL takes three or four
     steps, then realizes he has forgotten something. He goes back into the
     store. During his brief absence, JIMMY remains on the corner, imitating
     PAUL'S gestures: patting in pockets, looking puzzled, realizing that he
     has forgotten the cigars he just bought.
     PAUL comes out again a moment later, holding a tin of Schimmelpenninck
     cigars. He pauses, takes a cigar out of the tin, and lights up. He
     continues walking, obviously distracted. He stops briefly at a corner,
     then steps out into the street, paying no attention to the traffic. A
     speeding tow truck is rushing toward the intersection. At the last
     second, a black hand reaches out, grabs PAUL by the arm, and pulls him
     back to the curb. If not for that timely move, PAUL would surely have
     been run down.

     We see PAUL'S rescuer: it is RASHID COLE, a black adolescent of sixteen
     or seventeen. He is tall and well built for his age. A nylon backpack
     is slung over his left shoulder.
                    RASHID
          Watch out, man. You'll get yourself killed like
          that.
                    PAUL
               (Badly shaken, still
                clinging to RASHID'S arm)
          I can't believe I did that ... Christ. I'm
          walking around in a fog ...
                    RASHID
          No harm done. Everything's okay now.
               (Looks down and notices that he and
                PAUL are still gripping each other's
                arms. Tries to pull away)
          I've got to be going.
                    PAUL
               (Still rattled. Begins to loosen grip,
                then grabs hold of RASHID'S again)
          No, wait. You can't just walk off.
               (Pause)
          You saved my life.
                    RASHID
               (Shrugs)
          I just happened to be there.  The right place
          at the right time.
                    PAUL
               (Relaxes grip on RASHID'S arm)
          I owe you something.
                    RASHID
          It's okay, mister. No big deal.
                    PAUL
          Yes it is. It's a law of the universe. If I let
          you walk away, the moon will spin out of orbit
          ... pestilence will reign over the city for a
          hundred years.
                    RASHID
               (Mystified, amused. Smiles faintly)
          Well, if you put it that way...
                    PAUL
          You have to let me do something for you to put
          the scales in balance.
                    RASHID
               (Thinks, shakes his head)
          That's all right. If I think of something, I'll
          send my butler over to tell you.
                    PAUL
          Come on. At least let me buy you a cup of
          coffee.
                    RASHID  
          I don't drink coffee.
               (Smiles)
          On the other hand, since you insist, if you
          offered me a cold lemonade. I wouldn't say no.
                    PAUL
          Good. Lemonade it is.
               (Pause. Extends right hand)
          I'm Paul.
                    RASHID
          Rashid. Rashid Cole.
               (Shakes PAUL'S hand)
     Cut to:
6.     INT: DAY. GREEK DINER IN PARK SLOPE
     PAUL and RASHID are sitting in a booth. The restaurant is nearly empty.
     We see RASHID finishing his second lemonade.
                    PAUL
               (Watching RASHID drink)
          Are you sure you don't want some food to go
          along with it? It might help to absorb some of
          that liquid. You don't want to slosh around
          too much when you stand up.
                    RASHID
           That's okay. I've already had lunch.
                    PAUL
               (Looks at clock on wall)
          You must eat lunch pretty early. It's only
          eleven o'clock.
                    RASHID
          I mean breakfast.
                    PAUL
               (Studying RASHID closely)
          Yeah, sure, and I bet you had lobster last
          night. Along with two bottles of champagne.
                    RASHID
          Just one bottle. I believe in moderation.
                    PAUL
          Look, kid, it's okay with me. You don't have to
          play games. If you want a hamburger or
          something, go ahead and order it.
                    RASHID
               (Hesitates)
          Well, maybe just one. To be polite.
                    PAUL
               (Turning to WAITRESS. She comes)
          Cocktail hour is over. The young man would
          like to order a hamburger.
                    WAITRESS
               (To RASHID)
          How do you want that cooked?
                    RASHID
          Medium rare, please.
                    WAITRESS
          Fries?
                    RASHID
               (Looks at PAUL. PAUL nods)
          Yes, please.
                    WAITRESS
           Lettuce and tomato?
                    RASHID
               (Looks at PAUL. PAUL nods)
          Yes, please.
                    WAITRESS
               (Pointing to RASHID'S empty
                lemonade glass)
          You want another one of these, too?
                    PAUL
          Yeah, give him another one. And I'll take a cup
          of coffee while you're at it.
                    WAITRESS
          Hot coffee or iced coffee?
                    PAUL
          Do you have real iced coffee, or do you just
          pour hot coffee over some ice cubes?
                    WAITRESS
          Everything is real in here, honey.
               (Pause)
          As real as the color of my hair.
     PAUL and RASHID look at her hair. It is dyed bright red.
                    PAUL
               (Deadpan)
          I'll take the iced coffee.
               (Pause)
          You only live once, right?
                    WAITRESS
               (Equally deadpan)
          If you're lucky.
               (Pause)
          Then again, it depends on what you call living.
               (She walks off)
                    PAUL
               (To RASHID)
          I don't mean to pry, but I see a kid walking
          around with a big knapsack on his back, and I
          begin to wonder if all his worldly possessions
          aren't stowed in there. Are you in some kind of
          trouble or what?
                    RASHID
               (Keeping up his pose)
          Mostly what.
                    PAUL
               (Studying RASHID)
          You don't have to tell me if you don't want to,
          but I might be able to help.
                    RASHID
               (Hesitating)
          You don't know me from a hole in the wall.
                    PAUL
          That's true. But I also owe you something, and
          I'm not sure that buying you a hamburger is
          going to do the job.
               (Pause)
          What is it? Family problems? Money problems?
                    RASHID
               (Imitating white upper-class accent)
          Oh no. Momsie and Popsie have oodles.
                    PAUL
          And where do Momsie and Popsie live?

                    RASHID
          East Seventy-fourth Street.

                    PAUL
          In Manhattan?
                    RASHID
          Of course. Where else?

                    PAUL
          Then what are you doing in Park Slope? It's a
          little far from home, isn't it?
                    RASHID
               (Beginning to relent)
          That's where the what comes in.
                    PAUL
          The what?

                    RASHID
          The what.
               (Pause)
          I've kind of run away from home, you see.
               (Pause)
          It has nothing to do with my parents or money.
          I saw something I wasn't supposed to see, and
          for the time being it's best that I keep myself
          out of sight.

                    PAUL
          You can't be more specific than that?

     RASHID looks at PAUL, hesitates, then lowers his eyes.

                    PAUL (cont'd)
               (Pause. Decides not to press him)
          So where have you been staying in the meantime?
                    RASHID
          Here and there. Around.
                     PAUL
          Uh-huh. One of those cozy bed and breakfast
          places, probably.
                    RASHID
          Yeah, that's right.
                    PAUL
          Except that there's no bed, is there? And no
          breakfast either.
                    RASHID
          The material world is an illusion. It doesn't
          matter if they're there or not. The world is in
          my head.
                    PAUL
          But your body is in the world, isn't it?
               (Pause)
          If someone offered you a place to stay, you
          wouldn't necessarily refuse, would you?
                    RASHID
               (Pause. Thinks)
          People don't do that kind of thing. Not in New
          York.
                    PAUL
          I'm not "people." I'm just me. And I do
          whatever I goddamn want to do. Got it?
                    RASHID
          Thanks, but I'll manage.
                    PAUL
          In case you're wondering, I like women, not
          little boys. And I'm not offering you a
          long-term lease -- just a place to crash for a
          couple of nights.
                    RASHID
           I can take care of myself. Don't worry.
                    PAUL
          Suit yourself. But if you change your mind,
          here's the address.
               (Takes out a pad from his pocket and
                scribbles down the address. Tears
                sheet from the pad and hands it to
                RASHID)
     The WAITRESS arrives with their orders.
                    WAITRESS
          One burger medium rare with lettuce and tomato.
               (Setting down plate in front of RASHID)
          One order of fries.
               (Setting down plate)
          One lemonade.
               (Setting down glass)
          And one dose of reality.
               (Setting down iced coffee
                in front of PAUL)
     PAUL looks on as RASHID picks up hamburger and takes his first bite.
7.     INT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
     A slow hour. AUGGIE is sitting behind the counter, looking through a
     magazine and eating a slice of pizza for lunch. VINNIE enters the
     frame. He is the owner of the store: a large man in his fifties.
                    VINNIE
          Okay. I think everything's set.
               (Lights up cigar)
          You've got the number for Cape Cod, right? Just
          in case something goes wrong.
                    AUGGIE
               (Chewing pizza; not looking
                up from magazine)
          No problem, Vinnie. Everything's under control.
               (Finally looking up)
          I could run this store in my sleep.
                    VINNIE
               (Studying AUGGIE)
          How long you been working for me, Auggie?
                    AUGGIE
               (Shrugs, looks down at magazine again)
          I don't know. Thirteen, fourteen years.
          Something like that.
                    VINNIE
          It's pretty crazy, don't you think? I mean, a
          smart guy like you. What do you want to hang
          on to a dead-end job like this for?
                    AUGGIE
               (Shrugs again)
          I don't know.
               (Turns pages of magazine)
          Maybe because I love you so much, boss.
                    VINNIE
          Shit. You should have been married to someone
          by now. You know, settled down somewhere with a
          kid or two, a nice steady job.
                    AUGGIE
          I almost got married once.
                    VINNIE
          Yeah, I know. To that girl who moved to
          Pittsburgh.
                    AUGGIE
          Ruby McNutt. My one true love.

                    VINNIE
          Sounds like another one of your stories to me.
                         AUGGIE
               (Shakes his head)
          She upped and married some other cat after I
          joined the navy. By the time I got my
          discharge, though, she was divorced. Her
          husband poked out her eye in a domestic
          quarrel.
                    VINNIE
               (Puffing on his cigar)
          Lovely.
                         AUGGIE
               (Remembering)
          She made a play for me after I got back, but
          her glass eye kept interfering with my
          concentration. Every time we got into a clinch,
          I'd start thinking about that hole in her head,
          that empty socket with the glass eye in it. An
          eye that couldn't see, an eye that couldn't
          shed any tears. The minute I started thinking
          about it, Mr. Johnson would get all soft and
          small. And I can't see getting married if Mr.
          Johnson isn't going to be in tiptop shape.
                    VINNIE
               (Shaking his head)
          You don't take anything seriously, do you?
                    AUGGIE
          I try not to, anyway. It's better for your
          health. I mean, look at you, Vincent. You're
          the guy with the wife and three kids and the
          ranch house on Long Island. You're the guy with
          the white shoes and the white Caddy and the
          white shag carpet. But you've had two heart
          attacks, and I'm still waiting for my first.
                    VINNIE
               (Takes cigar out of his mouth
                and looks at it with disgust)
          I should stop smoking these damn things is what
          I should do. The fuckers are going to kill me
          one day.
                    AUGGIE
          Enjoy it while you can, Vin. Pretty soon,
          they're going to legislate us out of business
          anyway.
                    VINNIE
          They catch you smoking tobacco, they'll stand
          you up against a wall and shoot you.
                    AUGGIE
               (Nodding)
          Tobacco today, sex tomorrow. In three or four
          years, it'll probably be against the law to
          smile at strangers.
                    VINNIE
               (Remembering something)
          Speaking of which, are you still going ahead
          with that deal on the Montecristos?
                         AUGGIE
          It's all set. My guy in Miami said he'd have
          them within the next few weeks.
               (Pause)
          Are you sure you don't want to go in with me?
          Five thousand dollars outlay, a guaranteed
          ten-thousand-dollar return. A consortium of
          Court Street lawyers and judges. They're just
          drooling to get their lips around some genuine
          Cuban cigars.
                    VINNIE
          No thanks. I don't care what you do, but just
          make sure you don't get caught, okay? The last
          I heard, it was still illegal to sell Cuban
          cigars in this country.
                    AUGGIE
          It's the law that's buying. That's what's so
          beautiful about it. I mean, when was the last
          time you heard of a judge sending himself to
          jail?
                    VINNIE
          Suit yourself. But don't keep the boxes around
          here long.
                    AUGGIE
          They come in, they go out. I've got it planned
          to the last detail.
                    VINNIE
               (Looking at his watch)
          I've got to get moving. Terry will bust my
          chops if I'm late. See you in September,
          Auggie.
                    AUGGIE
          Okay, my man. Love to the wife and kids, et
          cetera, et cetera. Drop me a postcard if you
          can remember the address.
     VINNIE leaves. AUGGIE turns back to his pizza and magazine.
8. EXT: EVENING. FACADE OF THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
     A shot of the darkening sky. A shot of the cigar store. We see the
     lights go out. AUGGIE comes outside, locks the door, and begins pulling
     down the metal gate in front of the windows. Cut to:
     A shot of PAUL running down the street toward AUGGIE.
                    PAUL
               (Out of breath)
          Are you closed?
                    AUGGIE
          You run out of Schimmelpennincks?
                    PAUL
               (Nods)
          Do you think I could buy some before you leave?
                    AUGGIE
          No problem. It's not as though I'm rushing off
          to the opera or anything.
     AUGGIE lifts the gate and the two of them go into the store.
9. INT: EVENING. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO.
     PAUL and AUGGIE enter the darkened store. AUGGIE turns on the lights
     and then goes behind the counter to fetch PAUL'S cigars. PAUL, on the
     other side, notices a 35-millimeter camera near the cash register.
                    PAUL
          Looks like someone forgot a camera.
                    AUGGIE
               (Turning around)
          Yeah, I did.
                    PAUL
          It's yours?
                    AUGGIE
          It's mine all right. I've owned that little
          sucker for a long time.

                    PAUL
          I didn't know you took pictures.
                    AUGGIE
               (Handing PAUL his cigars)
          I guess you could call it a hobby. It doesn't
          take me more than about five minutes a day to
          do it, but I do it every day. Rain or shine,
          sleet or snow. Sort of like the postman.
               (Pause)
          Sometimes it feels like my hobby is my real job,
          and my job is just a way to support my hobby.
                    PAUL
          So you're not just some guy who pushes coins
          across a counter.
                    AUGGIE
          That's what people see, but that ain't
          necessarily what I am.
                    PAUL
               (Looking at AUGGIE with new eyes)
          How'd you get started?
                    AUGGIE
          Taking pictures?
               (Smiles)
          It's a long story. I'd need two or three drinks
          to get through that one.
                    PAUL
               (Nodding)
          A photographer ...
                    AUGGIE
          Well, let's not exaggerate. I take pictures.
          You line up what you want in the viewfinder and
          click the shutter. No need to mess around with
          all that artisto crap.
                    PAUL
          I'd like to see your pictures some day.
                    AUGGIE
          It can be arranged. Seeing as how I've read
          your books. I don't see why I shouldn't share
          my pictures with you.
               (Pause. Suddenly embarrassed)
          It would be an honor.
10. INT: NIGHT. AUGGIE'S APARTMENT
     AUGGIE and PAUL are sitting at the kitchen table, opened boxes of
     Chinese food pushed to one side. Most of the surface of the table is
     covered with large black photograph albums. There are fourteen in all,
     and the spine of each one is labeled with a year -- ranging from 1977
     to 1990. One of these albums (1987) is open on PAUL'S lap.
     Close-up of one of the pages in the album. There are six
     black-and-white photos on the page, each one of an identical scene: the
     corner of 3rd Street and Seventh Avenue at eight o'clock in the
     morning. In the upper right-hand corner of each photo, there is a small
     white label bearing the date: 8-9-87, 8-10-87, 8-11-87, etc. PAUL'S
     hand turns the page; we see six more similar photographs. He turns the
     page again: same thing. And again: same thing.
                    PAUL
               (Astonished)
          They're all the same.
                    AUGGIE
               (Smiling proudly)
          That's right. More than four thousand pictures
          of the same place. The corner of 3rd Street and
          Seventh Avenue at eight o'clock in the morning.
          Four thousand straight days in all kinds of
          weather.
               (Pause)
          That's why I can never take a vacation. I've
          got to be in my spot every morning. Every
          morning in the same spot at the same time.
                    PAUL
               (At a loss. Turns a page,
                then another page)
          I've never seen anything like it.
                    AUGGIE
          It's my project. What you'd call my life's
          work.
                    PAUL
               (Puts down the album and picks up
                another. Flips through the pages and
                finds more of the same. Shakes his
                head in bafflement)
          Amazing.
               (Trying to be polite)
          I'm not sure I get it, though. I mean, how did
          you ever come up with the idea to do this ...
          this project?
                    AUGGIE
          I don't know, it just came to me. It's my
          corner, after all. It's just one little part of
          the world, but things happen there, too, just
          like everywhere else. It's a record of my
          little spot.
                    PAUL
               (Flipping through the album,
                still shaking his head)
          It's kind of overwhelming.

                    AUGGIE
               (Still smiling)
          You'll never get it if you don't slow down,
          my friend.
                    PAUL
          What do you mean?
                    AUGGIE
          I mean, you're going too fast. You're hardly
          even looking at the pictures.
                    PAUL
          But they're all the same.
                    AUGGIE
          They're all the same, but each one is different
          from every other one. You've got your bright
          mornings and your dark mornings. You've got
          your summer light and your autumn light. You've
          got your weekdays and your weekends. You've
          got your people in overcoats and galoshes,
          and you've got your people in shorts and
          T-shirts. Sometimes the same people,
           sometimes different ones. And sometimes the
          different ones become the same, and the same
          ones disappear. The earth revolves around the
          sun, and every day the light from the sun hits
          the earth at a different angle.

                    PAUL
               (Looks up from the album at AUGGIE)
          Slow down, huh?
                    AUGGIE
          Yeah, that's what I'd recommend. You know how
          it is. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, time
          creeps on its petty pace.
     Close-ups of the photo album. One by one, a single picture occupies the
     entire screen. AUGGIE'S project unfolds before us. One picture follows
     another: the same place at the same time at different moments of the
     year. Close-ups of different faces within the close-ups. The same
     people appear in different pictures, sometimes looking into the camera,
       sometimes looking away. Dozens of stills. Finally, we come to a
     close-up of Ellen, PAUL'S dead wife.
     Close-up of PAUL'S face.
                    PAUL
          Jesus, look. It's Ellen.

     The camera pulls away. AUGGIE leans over PAUL'S shoulder. We see PAUL'S
     finger pointing to Ellen's face.
                    AUGGIE
          Yeah. There she is. She's in quite a few from
          that year. She must have been on her way to
          work.
                    PAUL
               (Moved, on the point of tears)
          It's Ellen. Look at her. Look at my sweet
          darling.
     Fade out.
11.     INT: NIGHT. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     We see PAUL scribbling furiously in his legal pad, lost in his work.
     Behind him, we see ten or twelve index cards pinned to the wall. The
     cards are covered with writing. One of them reads: "The woman with
     brown hair and blue eyes." Another one reads: "The mind is led on, step
     by step, to defeat its own logic." A third one reads: "Remember the
     Alamo."
     PAUL stands up from his desk, goes over to the wall, pulls off one of
     the cards, and studies it as he returns to his desk. An instant later,
     he begins writing again.
     The intercom buzzer sings loudly in the other room. PAUL continues to
     work, oblivious to the noise. The buzzer sounds again. PAUL puts down
     his pen.
                    PAUL
               (Under his breath)
          Shit.
               (He stands up from his chair, walks
                to the other room, and presses the
                "talk" button on the intercom)
          Who is it?

                    VOICE FROM THE INTERCOM
           Rashid.
                    PAUL
          Who?
                    VOICE FROM THE INTERCOM
           Rashid Cole. The lemonade kid, remember?

                    PAUL
          Yeah.
               (Without much enthusiasm)
          Come on up.
               (Pushes "door" button the intercom)
     PAUL walks to the door and opens it, peering into the hall as he waits
     for RASHID to arrive. A moment later, RASHID appears -- dressed as
     before, the backpack slung over his shoulder. He appears awkward, ill
     at ease.
                    PAUL
          I didn't expect to see you again.
                    RASHID
               (Making the best of it)
          Same here. But I had a long talk with my
          accountant this afternoon. You know, to see how
          a move like this would affect my tax picture,
          and he said it would be okay.
     PAUL studies him with a mixture of bafflement and curiosity, but
     doesn't answer. RASHID puts down his bag and begins looking around the
     apartment. After a moment:
                    PAUL
          That's it. Just the two rooms.
                    RASHID
               (Continuing to study
                his new surroundings)
          This is the first house I've been in without a
          TV.
                    PAUL
          I used to have one, but it broke a couple of
          years ago and I never got around to replacing
          it.
               (Pause)
          I'd just as soon not have one anyway. I hate
          those damn things.
                    RASHID
          But then you don't get to watch the ball games.
          You told me you were a Mets fan.
                    PAUL
          I listen on the radio. I can see the games just
          fine that way.
               (Pause)
          The world is in your head, remember?
                           RASHID
               (Smiles. Continues to walk around. Sees
                a small pen-and-ink drawing hanging on
                the wall above the stereo cabinet: the
                head of a small child. He stops to
                examine it)
          Nice drawing. Did you do that?
                    PAUL
          My father did. Believe it or not, that little
          baby is me.
                    RASHID
               (Studying the drawing more carefully.
                Turns to look at PAUL, then turns
                back to the drawing)
          Yeah, I can believe it.
                    PAUL
          It's strange, though, isn't it? Looking at
          yourself before you knew who you were.
                    RASHID
          Is your father an artist?
                    PAUL
          No, he was a schoolteacher. But he liked to
          dabble.
                    RASHID
          He's dead?
                    PAUL
          Twelve, thirteen years ago.
               (Pause)
          Actually, he died with his sketch pad open on
          his lap. Up in the Berkshires one weekend,
          drawing a picture of Mount Greylock.
                    RASHID
               (Studying the picture, nodding
                his head. As if to himself)
          Drawing's a good thing.
                    PAUL
           Is that what you do? Draw pictures?
                    RASHID
               (Smiles)
          Yeah, sometimes.
               (Shrugs, as if suddenly embarrassed)
          I like to dabble, too.
12.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT

     Two hours later. We see PAUL writing at his desk in the workroom. After
     a moment, he stands up and opens the double doors a crack. From PAUL'S
     POV: we see RASHID sitting at the table in the main room, head resting
     on his arms, asleep. The backpack is still where he put it down in the
     previous scene.
13.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT

     8:00 in the morning. PAUL is sitting at the dining table drinking
     coffee. He looks at his watch, puts down the cup, walks to the workroom
     door, opens it, pokes head inside. Shot of RASHID asleep on the floor;
     shot of the typewriter and legal pad on the desk. PAUL closes the door,
     sighs, returns to the other room and pours himself another cup of
     coffee.  Looks at his watch. Close-up of the watch: dissolve from 8:05
     to 8:35. PAUL puts down the cup, stands up, walks to the workroom door,
     knocks.

                    PAUL
          Time to wake up.
               (Waits, listens, knocks again)
          Hey, kid, time to wake up.
               (Waits, listens, knocks again)
          Rashid!
               (Opens door. RASHID is
                groggily opening his eyes)
          Up and out. I have to work in here. The slumber
          party is over.
                    RASHID
                (Sitting up, rubbing his eyes)
          What time is it?
                    PAUL
          Eight-thirty.
                    RASHID  
               (Appalled by early hour)
          Eight-thirty?
                    PAUL
          You'll find juice and eggs and milk in the
          refrigerator. Cereal in the cupboard. Coffee
          on the stove. Take whatever you want. But it's
          time for me to get started in here.
     RASHID stands up, embarrassed. He is dressed in underpants only. He
     rolls up the sleeping bag and pushes it to one side, then he gathers up
     his clothes and hustles out of the room.
14.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     Twenty minutes later. PAUL is sitting at his desk, staring at his
     typewriter. A loud noise comes from the other room: the clatter of
     dishes being put into the sink. PAUL stands up, walks to the door,
     opens it. He sees RASHID, now fully dressed, picking up the telephone
     next to the bed. He sees RASHID'S knapsack opened; a brown paper bag is
     sitting next to it. He watches RASHID dial a number.
                    RASHID
               (In a low voice)
          May I speak to Emily Vail, please? Yes, thank
          you, I'll wait.
               (Silence, three or four beats. RASHID
                fiddles with a pillow on the bed)
          Aunt Em? Hi, it's me. I just wanted you to know
          I'm okay.
               (Pause, as he listens. The response from
                the other end is an angry one)
          I know, I'm sorry.
               (Pause, as he listens)
          I just didn't want you to worry about me.
               (Silence, as he listens. Begins to show
                irritation with Aunt Em's hostility)
          Just cool it, okay? Take it easy.
               (Click on the other end. He stares at the
                 receiver for a moment, then hangs up)
     PAUL closes the door quietly. RASHID does not know he has been
     observed. Cut back to PAUL in workroom. He sits down at his desk,
     thinks for a moment, then begins typing.
15.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     Several hours later. With the sounds of PAUL'S typing continuing to
     come from the workroom, we see RASHID stand on a chair next to the
     bookcase in the larger room and deposit the brown paper bag behind the
     books on one of the upper shelves.
16.     INT: NIGHT. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     A shot of RASHID asleep in PAUL'S bed. Lying next to him on the bed is
     an open, half-read copy of one of PAUL'S books: The Mysterious
     Barricades by Paul Benjamin.
     Cut to a shot of PAUL sleeping on the floor of the workroom.
17.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     PAUL is in his workroom, sitting at his desk, typing. We see more index
     cards pinned to the wall. PAUL hears a loud crash from the other room.
     He pops up from his desk, exasperated, then walks to the door and opens
     it. Shot of the other room: RASHID is standing there, looking down at
     broken dishes.
                    PAUL
               (Irritated)
          Jesus, do you make a lot of noise. Can't you
          see I'm trying to work?
                    RASHID
               (Mortified)
          I'm sorry. They just... they just slipped out
          of my hands.
                    PAUL
          A little less clumsiness around here would be
          nice, don't you think?
                    RASHID
               (Growing defensive)
          I'm a teenager. All teenagers are clumsy. It's
          because we're still growing. We don't know
          where our bodies end and the world begins.
                    PAUL
          The world is going to end pretty soon if you
          don't learn fast.
               (Pause. PAUL reaches into his pocket and
                pulls out his wallet, then removes a
                twenty-dollar bill)
          Look, why not make yourself useful? I'm just
          about out of smokes.  Go around the corner to
          the Brooklyn Cigar Company and buy me two tins
          of Schimmelpenninck Medias.
               (Hands the bill to RASHID)
                    RASHID
               (Taking the bill)
          Twenty dollars is a lot of money. Are you sure
          you can trust me with it? I mean, aren't you
          afraid I might steal it?
                    PAUL
          If you want to steal it, that's your business.
          At least I won't have you around here making
          noise.
               (Pause)
          It might be worth it.
     RASHID, visibly hurt by PAUL'S remark, puts the money in his pocket.
     For once, he is unable to come up with a quick retort.
     RASHID walks out of the apartment. PAUL watches the door slam. Slight
     pause, then he bends down and starts picking up the broken dishes.
18.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     The workroom. A few minutes later. PAUL returns to his desk and begins
     to type. Almost immediately, the ribbon jams. He lets out a groan, then
     opens the typewriter to inspect the damage.
19.     EXT: DAY. THE BROOKLYN CIGAR CO., AS SEEN FROM ACROSS THE STREET
     Eight o'clock in the morning. We see AUGGIE on the corner, getting
     ready to take his daily photograph. Cut to the corner as seen through
     the lens of the camera. Hustle and bustle, people on their way to work.
     Automobile traffic, buses, delivery trucks. We hear the shutter click.
     The picture freezes.
20.     INT: DAY. PAUL'S APARTMENT
     The workroom. PAUL is sitting at his desk, writing. A loud crash from
     the other room punctuates the silence. He jumps in his chair.
                    PAUL
               (Groans)
          Shit.

     He stands up, goes to the door, opens it. Shot of RASHID standing
     precariously on the arm of a chair, his right hand groping behind the
     books on the top shelf of the bookcase. Several books have already
     fallen to the floor.
                    PAUL (cont'd)
          Jesus Christ. Are you at it again?
     RASHID turns at the sound of PAUL'S voice, momentarily losing his
     balance. As he grabs hold of the bookcase again to steady himself, more
     books fall off the shelf and come tumbling to the floor. An instant
     later, he lands on the floor as well.
                    PAUL (cont'd)
          What is it with you, anyway? You're like a
          human wrecking ball.
                    RASHID
               (Climbing to his feet. Ashamed)
          I'm sorry. I'm really sorry... I was trying to
          reach for one of the books up there ...
               (Points)
          And then, I don't know, the sky fell on top of
          me.
                     PAUL
               (With growing irritation)
          It just won't do, will it? I go two and a half
          years without being able to write a word, and
          then, when I finally get started on something,
          when it looks as though I might actually be
          coming to life again, you show up and start
          breaking everything in my house. It just won't
          do, will it?
                    RASHID
               (Hurt, subdued)
          I didn't ask to come here. You invited me,
          remember?
               (Pause)
          If you want me to leave, all you have to do is
          say so.
                     PAUL
          How long have you been here?
                    RASHID
          Three nights.
                     PAUL
          And how long did I tell you you could stay?
                    RASHID
          Two or three nights.
                    PAUL
          It sounds like our time is up, doesn't it?
                           RASHID
               (Looking down at floor)
          I'm sorry I messed up. You've been very kind to
          me ...
               (Walks toward the bed, picks up the
                backpack from the floor, and begins
                stuffing his things into it)
          But all good things have to come to an end,
          right?
                    PAUL