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INT.

CHURCH - DAY

a funeral in new jersey, 1972.

MOURNERS dressed in black, sobbing.

leonard and desiree hill (both african-american,

30's)occupy the front row with their TWO YOUNG CHILDREN,

BOBBY HILL, 4 ; RAYSHAWN HILL, 2.

desiree is inconsolable, and yet leonard tries his best to

comfort her.

bobby and rayshawn both sob quietly.

rayshawn is cradled in her mother's lap, too young to

realize the gravity of the situation, rayshawn sobs because

her brother and her mother are sad, surrounded by sad

friends and relatives.

the reverend turner addresses the congregation.

REV TURNER

o lord, help us to make sense of

this. we understand that this is

your will, but help us to

understand the confusion in the

mind of a young man that would

have him end the life of an eight


year old boy...

the congregation responds. desiree hill erupts with

emotion. leonard is unable to restrain her as she dives

toward the open casket bearing her oldest son.

bobby is knocked to the floor as she stands, still holding

rayshawn.

rayshawn cries out as she witnesses her mother's breakdown.

DESIREE

why jesus? damn you! why take

junior? please take me instead

lord. take me instead dammit!

leonard struggles to return his distraught wife to her seat

with the help of an usher.

DESIREE (cont'd)

take me. jesus! i want to die!

bobby tries to put his arm around his mother. leonard

consoles rayshawn along with desiree as reverent turner

continues to preach.

REV TURNER

it's the supreme test of our faith

that no parent should ever have to

endure. no parent should ever have


to bury a child and yet it happens

every day. god acts in mysterious

ways...

desiree turns to a now-sobbing leonard.

DESIREE

i killed our son! it was my fault.

i made him go!

LEONARD

no baby, it wasn't your fault.

DESIREE

he'd be alive today. he didn't

want to go! i made him go! i

killed our son!

LEONARD

baby. don't do this to yourself.

there's no way any of us could

have known this would happen! stop

blaming yourself.

JUNIOR (V.O.)

that was me in that coffin. it

just goes to show you how fragile

life can be. timing, destiny, call

it what you will but when it's


time to go, no amount of praying's

gonna change a thing. one

decision, with 50/50 odds of

living or dying. wouldn't it be

nice if we could, just once, go

back in time and...

FADE TO:

TITLE CARD "ONE WEEK EARLIER"

INT. HILL FAMILY HOME - DAY

leonard carries a suitcase outside as desiree yells from

downstairs to the children playing upstairs, their voices

and footsteps filling the house with sound.

dog barking upstairs.

DESIREE (O.S.)

leonard junior, i shouldn't be

hearing your brother and sister

playing when you're all supposed

to be cleaning and packing.

JUNIOR (O.S.)

i already told them to stop

playing, they don't listen.


DESIREE (O.S.)

junior, you're the older brother

and their protector, make them

listen! rayshawn, bobby, don't

make me have to come up there!

listen to your brother!

BOBBY (O.S.)

mommy, rayshawn won't give me my

football.

RAYSHAWN (O.S.)

it's mine!

BOBBY (O.S.)

no it's not, girls don't need

footballs. that's my football!

RAYSHAWN (O.S.)

mine! mine! mine!

BOBBY

mom!

JUNIOR (O.S.)

see? they won't listen to you! why

do you think they listen to me?

desiree appears and rushed up the stairs.


JUNIOR (cont'd) (O.S)

now you went and did it! here she

comes!

rayshawn is heard squealing. two sets of little running

footsteps are heard.

BOBBY (O.S.)

ohhh! you're getting a beating

now!

RAYSHAWN (O.S.)

no! mine foo-ball! mine!

leonard enters the living room. the dog rushes to greet

him.

LEONARD

des! where are the suitcases? i

thought y'all were packed and

ready. we have to hit the road

before the traffic! you know how

much i hate...

leonard is interrupted by desiree's voice from upstairs.

DESIREE (O.S.)

leonard, i don't hear a word

you're saying. come up here and

help me get these kids ready


please!

leonard sighs and runs up the stairs followed by the dog.

INT. UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - DAY

LEONARD (O.S.)

what the hell's going on up there?

leonard and the dog enter the chaotic bedroom.

desiree has bobby and rayshawn on the bed.

DESIREE

put his shoes back on please, and

we can't leave the house looking

like this!

leonard attends to bobby.

LEONARD

des! we'll be back in two days!

we'll deal with it then! let's go!

the traffic...

DESIREE

you know i don't like to come back

to a messy house after a trip! i

can't enjoy myself knowing that

the house looks like this and i'll


be too tired when we get back...

LEONARD

tell you what, i'll clean when we

get back. how's that?

DESIREE

you always say that, then you fall

asleep as soon as we hit the

house.

LEONARD

look des! the kennel closes in 10

minutes and it's ten minutes from

here. i don't want to make a

special trip to take oscar, then

have to come back. i want to do

this in one trip!

JUNIOR

i don't want to go anyway. why

can't i stay here with oscar?

desiree and leonard answer "no" in unison

LEONARD

junior, we already discussed this.

DESIREE

don't you want to see amir? you're


the same age and you always get

along. aunt justine and your

cousins are dying to see you

JUNIOR

then let them come here. i don't

like their house, it smells like

smelly feet!

leonard restrains laughter. desiree gives leonard a look.

LEONARD

your sister's house does smell

like toe jam, baby!

desiree swats at him, unable to suppress a smile.

BOBBY

what's toejam? toejam! toejam!

DESIREE

leonard hush! junior, you're too

young to stay here alone!

JUNIOR

i'm eight years old! don't you

trust me by now?

desiree kneels to look junior in the eyes.

DESIREE
honey, of course we trust you.

junior, part of your job is to

watch over your baby brother and

sister!

ZOOM IN CLOSE ON DESIREE (SOUND EFX)

DESIREE (cont'd)

your brother and sister are going,

so are you!

I/E. CAR - DAY

junior sulks in the back seat as rayshawn (baby seat) and

bobby (booster seat) nudge each other.

leonard looks at desiree without speaking. desiree turns to

see all three children asleep in the back seat.

LEONARD

i can't stand this neighborhood.

they got that money from the

lottery ticket and they still

won't move. makes no sense to me.

desiree shrugs.

DESIREE

the house has been in our family

for three generations. everybody


justine knows is in this

neighborhood.

EXT. JUSTINE CLARK HOUSE - DAY

leonard shakes his head as they pull toward the curb behind

PARKED CAR IN FRONT OF A MODEST AND AGING HOME.

commotion is heard in front of the house. two men argue

with desiree's younger sister, justine clark (african

american 20's) in front of her home, then storm away toward

the parked car, oblivious to leonard and desiree's car

pulling up behind it.

MAN 1

you gonna give us what's our's,

bitch!

justine waves them off.

the men slam their car doors, then speed away.

leonard and desiree exchange concerned looks as they exit

the car.

DESIREE

that's cousin mike. i wonder what

that's about.

justine's facial expression brightens up when she sees


desiree and leonard.

JUSTINE

hey girl. hello brother in law!

they exchange hugs.

DESIREE

wasn't that mike? what's his

problem?

JUSTINE

nothing. you know what a little

money does to family sometimes.

they come out the woodwork! he's

just trippin over what he thinks i

owe him.

LEONARD

he's not gonna act a fool while

the kids are here is he? because,

we'll take them...

JUSTINE

no! of course not. he's all talk.

DESIREE

maybe you should move away from

here now.
JUSTINE

and go where? we talk about this,

remember? you know grandma's

wishes. it has to stay in the

family.

junior and amir run past them toward the front door.

JUSTINE (cont'd)

hey, hey! what did we say about

running?

AMIR

sorry mom.

LEONARD

baby, we got a long drive, we'd

better hit it!

JUSTINE

you sure you don't want to stay

for awhile? i'll make something

for you to eat on the road.

LEONARD

no thanks justine.

DESIREE

we'll stay awhile on the way back.

you have the number to our room at


the resort. call us if you need

anything, don't worry about the

time of day or night.

JUSTINE

y'all just enjoy your anniversary.

ten years, three kids! lord knows

y'all deserve the break!

JUSTINE (cont'd)

amir, your aunt desiree and uncle

leonard are leaving now, say good

bye to them.

AMIR

good bye aunt desiree, uncle

leonard.

DESIREE

we'll see you in two nights

junior, you and amir mind your

brothers and sisters while we're

gone. don't give aunt justine any

trouble, y'hear?

JUNIOR

yes ma'am.

JUSTINE
c'mon and show your folks some

love.

junior hugs desiree, then hugs leonard.

DESIREE

i love you so much!

JUNIOR

(embarrassed)

mom!

LEONARD

your embarrassing the boy.

DESIREE

i don't care!

leonard high fives junior and amir.

LEONARD

y'all be good. we'll see you

tomorrow. c'mon woman, we have a

reserved check in time.

desiree follows leonard to the car, waving.

close shot:

justine watches the car disappear down the street. her face

reflects both happiness and sorrow.


EXT. JUSTINE CLARK HOUSE - NIGHT

the same car in which cousin mike drove away earlier parks

in front of the dark house.

INT. RESORT ROOM - NIGHT

desiree awakes suddenly from a fitful sleep. her breathing

is labored. leonard is awakened by this.

LEONARD

what's the matter baby?

DESIREE

bad dream. maybe i should call

justine.

LEONARD

just a dream, baby. don't wake

them up at 3am. try to go back

to...

the ringing phone startles both of them. leonard answers.

LEONARD (cont'd)

yeah?

his facial expression changes from sleepiness to anger to

distress as he listens.

LEONARD (cont'd)
i'm her husband, leonard hill...

desiree jumps from the bed and begins to get dressed.

DESIREE

oh my god! lord please, no! my

babies! my babies! lord, jesus!

LEONARD

are they all right?...goddammit,

sargeant, just tell me if they're

all right!

leonard throws the phone across the room. desiree is in

tears.

DESIREE

what happened? it wasn't a dream!

they're dead aren't they? i knew

something was...

LEONARD

we gotta go! they won't tell me

anything, but we need to get to

the hospital now!

they pause to look at each other for a second. they hug.

LEONARD (cont'd)

we have to be strong honey.


whatever it is, we're in this

together! we need to go now.

EXT. HOSPITAL - NIGHT

establish county hospital exterior.

INT. HOSPITAL - NIGHT

leonard and desiree rush through the automatic sliding

doors of the trauma center. they are met by officer john

williams, (african american, 40's).

OFFICER WILLIAMS

mr. and mrs. hill?

LEONARD

i'm leonard hill, this is my wife

desiree. officer, what happened to

our children?

as he finishes the question, bobby and rayshawn is heard

o.s.

BOBBY

mommy! daddy!

bobby and rayshawn run toward them with outstretched arms.

desiree and leonard both break down and cry tears of


relief.

DESIREE

where's junior?

BOBBY

junior's hurt, mommy!

the tears of relief turn to anguish as officer williams

intercedes.

OFFICER WILLIAMS

your son is in intensive care. the

doctors are trying to remove the

bullet from...

LEONARD

bullet? what the fuck?...

DESIREE

where is he? i have to see him!

OFFICER WILLIAMS

i'll get a nurse. follow me.

they pick up rayshawn and bobby, walking as they quickly

walk.

LEONARD

officer williams, what the hell

happened in that house?


OFFICER WILLIAMS

looks like a botched robbery.

DESIREE

oh god! cousin mike?

OFFICER WILLIAMS

mike carter, and an accomplice,

entered the home armed with 9mm

automatic weapons...

officer williams struggles to maintain composure.

OFFICER WILLIAMS (cont'd)

he killed the homeowner and her

child as they slept.

desiree stops in her tracks and she wails.

DESIREE

oh god! justine! amir! how could

he do this? how could any human...

leonard struggles to present to strong facade as he rubs

desiree's neck and shoulder.

OFFICER WILLIAMS

(dazed)

fifteen years on the force.

fifteen years and i've never seen


anything

like this!

a doctor approaches.

DOCTOR TURNER

i'm doctor turner, senior

attending. are you mr. and mrs.

hill?

DESIREE

doctor, please tell me he's okay!

DOCTOR TURNER

your son suffered severe internal

bleeding from multiple gunshots to

his abdomen.

doctor turner mournfully shakes his head.

DOCTOR TURNER (cont'd)

the loss of blood was profound.

i'm afraid that...

leonard and desiree begin to mourn before the sentence is

finished.

DESIREE

no! no! no! he's not dead! god

would not do this!


desiree collapses. leonard struggles to hold her up while

still holding on to rayshawn and bobby.

officer williams dabs tears from his own eyes.

DOCTOR TURNER

he coded about thirty minutes ago.

we tried everything to regain a

pulse. with the extended loss of

circulation to his brain he would

have been unable to function. i'm

so sorry.

OFFICER WILLIAMS

your son's a hero. he was

protecting bobby and rayshawn

sleeping in the basement. we

figure that he stopped carter

before they could get downstairs.

they must have shot him and run,

not realizing that the kids were

asleep in the basement. he was

conscious long enough to name

mike carter. he and his accomplice

are in police custody.

leonard nods and briefly smiles with pride as he continues

to console his now-dazed and nearly catatonic wife.


DESIREE

i told him to mind his brother and

his sister. i told him that was

his job...if only i hadn't made

him come...

LEONARD

then rayshawn and bobby might not

be here. stop blaming yourself.

it's not your fault. the only

person at fault is that coward...

DESIREE

doctor, i want to see him.

DOCTOR TURNER

mrs. hill, i don't know if that's

such a good idea, you're about to

go into shock and...

DESIREE

dr. turner, take me to see my son,

or i'll search this hospital and

find him myself!

OFFICER WILLIAMS

doc, i'm gonna need for her to

identify the body anyway. it's

procedure in a homicide. i'm


sorry.

dr. turner reluctantly leads desiree, leonard and officer

williams toward the operating room.

INT. - SURGICAL INTENSIVE CARE - NIGHT

SHOT FROM ABOVE, close on junior lying on the operating

table, covered with a bloody sheet with disconnected tubes

by his head.

leonard and desiree, seated next to the table, hold

junior's hands.

pull back and fade to black.

REVERSE FAST MOTION SEQUENCE (EFX) TO:

INT. HILL FAMILY HOME - DAY

JUNIOR

i'm eight years old! don't you

trust me by now?

desiree kneels to look junior in the eyes.

DESIREE

honey, of course we trust you.

junior, part of your job is to

watch over your baby brother and


sister!

ZOOM IN CLOSE ON DESIREE (SOUND EFX)

DESIREE (cont'd)

your brother and sister are going,

so are you!

LEONARD

besides, child services finds out

we left you alone for a weekend,

they'll arrest us for neglect.

JUNIOR

bobby, rayray and i can stay at

billy's house! they like oscar and

you won't have to put him in the

kennel.

LEONARD

boy's got a point, des. we'll

never make the kennel in time and

oscar can't go with us. we'll save

some money leaving oscar with the

kids next door!

DESIREE

no! i will not impose on the

douglas' in that way. besides,


they have roaches in their house.

i don't want anything in this

house that's been in that house!

bobby snickers.

BOBBY

billy douglas' house has roaches!

desiree rolls her eyes toward leonard.

DESIREE

now look what you made me do!

leonard cracks up.

RAYSHAWN

mommy what's roaches?

LEONARD

(laughing)

we'll hose them all down in the

yard before they hit the house.

even oscar. how's that?

desiree rolls her eyes again.

LEONARD (cont'd)

and we'll burn all their clothes

and their suitcases before...


DESIREE

okay! okay, i'll call ben and roz

and see if it's okay.

junior claps his hands in celebration.

LEONARD

bobby, rayshawn, get your bags, we

gotta go! junior, bring your bag

down. let's go! double time,

y'all!

DESIREE

i hope i don't live to regret

this.

LEONARD

he'll be fine! call them so we can

hit the road!

desiree reaches for the phone.

EXT. HOME OF BEN AND ROSLYN CARTER - DAY

ben douglas (african american, 30's) and leonard converse

by the hill's packed car. desiree writes numbers on a pad

and hands them to roslyn douglas (african american, 30's).

rayshawn chases bobby across the douglas' front lawn as

junior and billy toss a football.


DESIREE

roz, i can't tell you how much we

appreciate this. i hate to impose

on such short notice...

ROSLYN

don't be silly! we love the kids

and we love oscar. it's no

imposition at all. just enjoy

yourselves! we'll see you in a

couple of nights! stay longer if

you want to. billy loves the

company!

DESIREE

that's the number at the resort...

leonard nudges ben and nods toward the women! ben chuckles

and shakes his head.

LEONARD

des! c'mon woman! let's go!

DESIREE

okay, we'll call if we're delayed.

bobby, rayshawn, come say good

bye.

bobby and rayshawn run and jump into their mother's arms.
DESIREE (cont'd)

good bye my babies. i love you so

much. you behave yourselves! go

hug your dad.

they both run toward leonard and jump into his arms.

desiree turns toward junior and billy.

DESIREE (cont'd)

(exaggerated)

good bye junior!

junior continues to toss the football, answers casually.

JUNIOR

bye mom!

desiree turns to leonard.

DESIREE

do you believe him?

junior runs toward his mother with his arms open.

JUNIOR

i'm kidding mom! have a good trip.

they hug.

DESIREE

you behave yourself, y'hear me?


JUNIOR

okay mom. bye dad!

DESIREE

go and give your dad a proper hug

please!

junior runs toward leonard and hugs him.

leonard shakes ben's hand and climbs under the wheel.

LEONARD

let's go, des! they'll be fine!

desiree hugs roslyn and rushes to the car.

junior and billy resume their game, bobby and rayshawn

resume their chase, ben and roslyn douglas wave as the car

disappears down the street.

FORWARD FAST MOTION SEQUENCE TO:

INT. RESORT ROOM - NIGHT

desiree awakes suddenly from a fitful sleep. her breathing

is labored. leonard is awakened by this.

LEONARD

what's the matter baby?

DESIREE
bad dream. i should call justine.

LEONARD

just a dream, baby. don't wake

them up at 3am. try to go back

to...

the ringing phone startles both of them.

fade to:

INT. CHURCH - DAY

mourners dressed in black, sobbing. TWO CASKETS, one large,

one small in front of the church.

leonard, desiree and all three children occupy the front

row. desiree is crying. leonard comforts her.

bobby and rayshawn sob quietly.

the reverend turner addresses the congregation.

REV TURNER

o lord, help us to make sense of

this. we understand that this is

your will, but help us to

understand the confusion in the

mind of a young man that would

have him end the lives of this


young mother and her child...

the congregation responds.

FADE TO:

TITLE CARD "THIRTY YEARS LATER"

EXT. - HILL FAMILY HOME - DAY

voices are heard inside the house as a late model cadillac

slowly approaches the front of the house.

JUNIOR (O.S.)

they're here! y'all shut up now!

bobby, rayshawn, get your kids

quiet up there, they'll blow the

surprise!

RAYSHAWN (O.S.)

bobby, that's your son. can't you

shut him up for even a minute?

BOBBY

oh shut up, rayshawn. you just

worry about your's!

JUNIOR

both of you shut up and get down

here! they're getting out of the


car!

leonard and desiree (now in their 60's) are removing

groceries from the trunk.

DESIREE

that's got eggs in it dear. please

be careful.

LEONARD

yes dear. i'm 65 years old and i

obviously never learned how to

carry groceries!

desiree rolls her eyes at leonard

DESIREE

don't sass me!

she smiles. leonard uses his free hand to slap her butt.

DESIREE (cont'd)

hey! if you drop those eggs,

i'll...

LEONARD

what? you'll do what, woman?

leonard turns the key in the front door and opens it.

INT. HILL FAMILY HOME - DAY


from the exterior pov, junior, rayshawn, bobby, and their

respective spouses, surrounded by many children and other

guests yell "surprise" and throw confetti and balloons and

blow whistles at startled desiree and leonard.

the living room is decorated with a giant banner: "happy

30th anniversary mom and dad".

both desiree and leonard are visibly moved. they exchange

hugs, pick up and kiss grandchildren.

DESIREE

i don't believe you kids! junior!

bobby! rayshawn! we had no idea!

who's responsible for this?

RAYSHAWN

curtis, the kids and i flew in

from chicago last night. bobby got

in from new york this morning.

junior's company's travel service

made all the arrangements.

BOBBY

no small task getting me a flight

from wisconsin!

JUNIOR

nobody made you sign with the


packers! anyway, we thought we'd

do more than flowers this year!

what's 30 years?

BOBBY

pearl necklace...

bobby presents a box to desiree. she opens it.

DESIREE

my god! oh my god!

RAYSHAWN

put it on her daddy!

JUNIOR

pearls, and?...

DESIREE

diamond ring...

desiree presents leonard with a ring box. he opens it.

LEONARD

damn. look at that rock!

leonard removes the ring and slips it on his finger.

BOBBY

mack daddy pinkie ring in the

house!
they all hug.

LEONARD

you guys are something else. thank

you! damn!

DESIREE

you hear that? you're something

else! that's about as much emotion

as i've seen from him in 30 years!

desiree begins to cry.

LEONARD

oh, there she goes.

DESIREE

i love you all. you've all made me

so happy. i wish justine were here

to...i just can't...what's

cooking?

BOBBY

dinner! we're starving! c'mon

let's eat!

junior shoves bobby.

BOBBY (cont'd)

what? i'm sorry. i'm hungry.


they adjourn to the kitchen.

FADE TO BLACK.

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