A man sleeping on a couch.
SUPERIMPOSE: TWENTY-TWO YEARS LATER
INT. REISNER HOME/LIVING ROOM – MORNING [TEAL & ORANGE SEQUENCE]
As the alarm clock on the small table beside the couch begins to RING, the figure begrudgingly rises, rubbing a temple to ward away his lingering sleepiness as he sits up. As we can tell by his complexion, hair colour, and general facial features, this is Nathaniel, now somewhere in his late thirties. Beneath the folds of fat and receding hairline, one can just perceive the handsomeness his unripened youth promised him.
Checking the clock to get the time – 4:00 AM – he gets up and crosses to one of the windows. Opening the shade, he looks out, past the suburban landscape to the cityscape rising in the distance beyond. The sun lurks just beneath the horizon, colouring the lower sky yellow while remaining hidden from view.
INT. REISNER HOME/BATHROOM – MORNING
Entering the small bathroom, flicking the light on, Nathaniel crosses to the sink and medicine cabinet overtop it. Peering deep into the mirror before him, scrutinizing his doughy, tired flesh, he then turns on the faucet to wash his face.
INT. REISNER HOME/KITCHEN – MORNING
Entering the kitchen, Nathaniel goes to prepare his coffee. Filling a kettle, he places it on the grimy stovetop to heat up. Finding no clean mugs in the cupboard, he fishes a dirty one out of the sink and hastily washes it before reaching for a canister of instant coffee.
Some minutes later.
Nathaniel sits at the small, round kitchen table drinking his coffee when his wife, REBEKAH, staggers in. While overweight and balding, one can still see some measure of attractiveness in Nathaniel. The same cannot be said for Rebekah. If she had ever been pretty by even the slightest degree, that prettiness fled years before she met Nathaniel – years, even, before poor eating habits, heavy smoking, and alcoholism turned her into a sallow-skinned, gray-toothed monstrosity even larger than her husband. Lurching over to the table – powder blue nightgown two sizes two small for her overlarge frame, hair a frightful black tangle – she takes a seat on the opposite end of the table.
NATHANIEL: (deadpan) Morning.
REBEKAH: (surly) Fix my cup.
EXT. BUS STOP – MORNING
A couple hours later, Nathaniel – now washed and dressed for the day – is sitting with two other people on a bench, waiting for the bus into the city. Agitated, he takes a gander at his watch; the bus is running late.
EXT. BUS STOP – DINER – MORNING
An hour later, a bus pulls up across the street from a diner. Climbing off the bus, Nathaniel crosses the street, hurrying over to the diner.
INT. DINER/BACK ROOM – MORNING
Entering the diner, Nathaniel goes to punch in. Two servers are standing back there.
SERVER #1: Good morning, Nate.
NATHANIEL: (nods) Morning.
SERVER #2: (checks watch) Uh-oh. 8:21. Maybe if you slink in real slow and don’t draw attention to yourself, Ahnold’ll just think you’ve been standing back in the corner all this time.
Nathaniel smirks in response.
INT. DINER/KITCHEN – MORNING
Nathaniel slips on an apron as he slips inside the kitchen. Already at the grill are three cooks, including ROLFE ARNOLD, the diner’s manager and Nathaniel’s boss.
ROLFE ARNOLD: (irate) Reisner! You know when your shift starts? (taps watch) 8:00! You know what time it is? (taps watch)
NATHANIEL: Bus was late.
ROLFE ARNOLD: The bus is late three out of every five goddamn days!
NATHANIEL: (shrugs) Sorry. Service out of Downsvale isn’t the best.
ROLFE ARNOLD: Then you should move – that or learn to drive! Chrissakes – almost forty and you still haven’t your fuckin’ driver’s license! (shakes head) We’ve got twelve orders need filling. Get on the grill.
EXT. DINER – DAY
Nathaniel, on his lunch break, sits behind the diner, on the back steps. It is while he is sitting there, eating his sandwich casually while looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, that the door behind him opens and one of the servers – BRIANNA, a tall, slim, nineteen-year-old brunette who wears her long hair back in a ponytail – finds him there. Scooching over, he allows her passage down the steps. Taking a stance on the other side of the steps from Nathaniel, she takes out a pack of cigarettes out of her pants pocket and fishes out a smoke.
BRIANNA: (offers Nate pack) Smoke?
NATHANIEL: (smiles) Thanks. I’ve enough vices.
Slipping the pack back in her pocket, she takes out a lighter and lights up, taking a deep drag.
BRIANNA: Nathan, right?
NATHANIEL: Nathaniel. Everyone calls me Nate.
BRIANNA: Worked here very long, Nate?
NATHANIEL: (nods) Close to ten years.
BRIANNA: Ten years? God, how old was I? (beat) Third grade – nine years old.
Lowering his half-finished sandwich, Nathaniel clams up.
BRIANNA: (ashamed) I said something wrong, didn’t I? I didn’t mean to imply anything –
NATHANIEL: No, no, you didn’t. I was just … thinking back, how long it’s been. (beat) It has been a while.
BRIANNA: (reserved) You like it here? (beat) Why’d I ask that? You must. You’ve worked here so long.
NATHANIEL: I’m … I … (sighs)
Nathaniel resumes eating his sandwich. Brianna smokes her cigarette. The silence between them is palpable, uncomfortable.
BRIANNA: (takes out iPod) Is it alright if I … listen to this?
BRIANNA: If it’s rude –
NATHANIEL: You’re not. Go ahead. (smiles thinly) I should probably get one myself.
Placing the earbuds in her ears, Brianna turns on the device and calls a song up from the playlist: “California Gurls” by Katy Perry. Brianna has the volume turned up too high; it’s enough to make Nathaniel even antsier.
INT. DINER/KITCHEN – DAY
Nathaniel is at the grill, working hard to keep up with the steady stream of orders which keep coming in, wiping a sheen of sweat from his face on a sleeve before it can drip into the meals he’s preparing.
EXT. BUS STOP – DINER – DAY
The work day has come to an end. Both Nathaniel and Brianna stand waiting for the bus. They exchange a short, uncomfortable glance and smile.
The bus puts up to the curb.
INT. BUS – DAY
As the door slides open, Nathaniel and Brianna climb aboard. Locating the nearest empty seat, Nathaniel slides down into it, leaving the spot beside him open for Brianna. Instead of taking him up on his implied offer, she sits down beside a middle aged woman three seats over. Crestfallen, Nathaniel looks himself over; he wouldn’t want to sit close to an overweight man reeking of a day’s worth of sweat, either.
An hour later.
Coming to her stop, Brianna leaves the bus. Through his window, Nathaniel watches her walk on down the sidewalk toward home. For a brief instant he considers waving farewell, but it’s already too late to put thought into action; he’s no longer in her line of sight and the bus is already pulling away.
EXT. REISNER HOME/FRONT YARD – DAY
Nathaniel finally arrives home. The Reisner home is a decrepit hovel in such a state of grievous disrepair that it doesn’t warrant renovation; it warrants complete and utter demolition.
Hearing the low but noticeable THUD of heavy-bass music playing through the walls of the house, Nathaniel GROANS as he steps onto the front porch.
INT. REISNER HOME/LIVING ROOM – DAY
Nathaniel enters the living room, where he is greeted by a cacophony of Gucci Mane crashing from a boombox at full volume. Rebekah sits in the armchair, seemingly oblivious to the racket surrounding her as she watches the TV with closed captioning on. Their son, DWAYNE, sits on the couch, reading a magazine to the throbbing beats of the noise. Like his father, Dwayne has red hair. Like his mother, Dwayne is quite homely. Unlike either parent, Dwayne is rail-thin, without a trace of noticeable fat anywhere on his fifteen-year-old body.
Crossing over to the boom box, Nathaniel turns the volume down to near-tolerable levels.
DWAYNE: (irate) I was listening to that!
NATHANIEL: It was too loud.
DWAYNE: Not home two minutes and already bitchin’!
Jumping up, Dwayne swaggers over to the boombox and cranks the volume back up. Just as quickly, Nathaniel dials it back down.
DWAYNE: (angry) Asshole! Fuck off!
NATHANIEL: It’s too loud!
DWAYNE: Suck me off, fatass faggot!
Dwayne gets Gucci going full blast again, daring his father with a nasty leer to try turning it down again. For his part, Nathaniel stares daggers at Dwayne, a dark, murderous rage he dares not loose brewing inside him.
NATHANIEL: (enraged) I’m going out again. Don’t expect me back for a while.
At that he turns and leaves – leaves to put as much distance as he can between this antipathetic son, apathetic wife, and pathetic dive he loathes with every fibre of his being before he explodes.
EXT. DOWNSVALE – MONTAGE
Nathaniel spends the next five hours walking through the town of Downsvale. From the streets to the shopping centre to the back roads he treks, allowing his pent-up rage to dissipate, praying silently to come across something, _any_thing which’ll provide him the means to escape the empty, lonely, miserable existence he leads.
EXT. REISNER HOME/FRONT YARD – EVENING
By the time Nathaniel returns home, the sun has set. The house, shrouded under the curtain of night, is black, a telltale sign that all within have retired to sleep. Nathaniel SIGHS with relief.
INT. REISNER HOME/KITCHEN – EVENING
Nathaniel sits at the table eating a microwave dinner with disinterest.
INT. REISNER HOME/LIVING ROOM – EVENING
Sitting down in the armchair his wife had occupied short hours before, Nathaniel changes channels to a pornographic station. As he watches Melody Jordan take it from behind, he unzips the front of his jeans and whips out his modest member.
After he has relieved his tension, deliberately leaving a mess behind for Rebekah, he retires to the couch for the evening. Curling up into a fetal position, he closes his eyes, willing himself to a dreamland far from the waking world and its demons.