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DELUSIONS OF HEAVEN (ADAPTATION OF JOHN STEINBECK'S PASTURES OF HEAVEN)(FOCUS ON CHARACTER SHARK WICKS)

DELUSIONS OF HEAVEN
Written by Alex Moss
(PLAYHOUSE WEST 2000-2003)
(ASSISTED JAMES FRANCO NYC RESEARCH FOR CITY BY THE SEA)
Based on PASTURES OF HEAVEN by John Steinbeck
Caixa Postal 108
Garopaba, Santa Catarina
Brazil CEP 88495-000
U.S. Skype (305)600-5953


A PIERCING SCREAM filled with the pain of a mother in labor
over BLACK SCREEN. It is the final expelling push into life.


We accompany the arriving BABY´S POV as it tears through the
birth canal and the vulva to make her dramatic entrance into
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. The baby bellows her CRY.


INT. COUNTRY HOUSE BEDROOM - DAY


KATHERINE, a homely woman built like a mare, has her legs
spread wide open while a MIDWIFE introduces the newborn.

MIDWIFE
Congratulations! It´s a girl!


EDWARD “SHARK” WICKS stares at his own child in disbelief as
the midwife hands over the bundle into his unattractive arms.

The BABY´S POV of Shark reveals an asymmetric face with cold,
expressionless eyes. SHARK´S POV reveals a photogenic infant.

SHARK
I´ll be damned, Kathy!
It´s a beautiful baby!


KATHERINE
Let me see her, Mister Ed Wicks.

Katherine holds her daughter in her arms for the first time.
The mother is overcome by the surprising beauty of her baby.

KATHERINE (CONT’D)
It´s a miracle! She is beautiful!
Shark whispers a few provocative words into his wife´s ear.

SHARK
She came out of my rabbit´s hole
like she was Alice in Wonderland.

KATHERINE
Fine, Ed... We´ll call her Alice.

SHARK
(to the midwife)
Thanks for delivering our beauty.

The midwife looks at father, mother and baby huddled together
and we FREEZE FRAME on each face producing three “MUG SHOTS.”
We SPLIT THE SCREEN with the shots: First of the ugly father
followed by an inserted addition sign then of the ugly mother
followed by an inserted equal sign, and then the pretty baby.

MIDWIFE
(in disbelief)
She is a beauty. It´s a miracle!


EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY

SUPERIMPOSED: WEEKS LATER

Two gossiping OLD WOMEN walk the country road that leads to
the Wicks home to meet the baby and satisfy their curiosity.

WOMAN NO.1
We´re going to be the first women
to see the ugliest baby ever born
in the Pastures of Heaven.

WOMAN NO.2
You reckon this baby will look like
a lizard, right? I mean the Wickses
ain´t exactly the prettiest folks.

They share a sarcastic laugh at their neighbors’ expense and
then arrive at a small, gloomy house on the edge of the road.
They lower their voices as they enter the property perimeter.

EXT. FRONT YARD - CONTINUOUS

WOMAN NO.1
It´s amazing how some rich people
live like they ain´t got a pot to
piss in. Their house is almost as
butt ugly as them for God´s sake.

WOMAN NO.2
My husband says that´s frugality.

WOMAN NO.1
The men folk in the valley say that
Ed Wicks is filthy rich. They don’t
call him Shark for nothin’ ya know.
They walk through the hard-packed dirt surrounding the house,
where no flowers or grass grows before reaching the porch and
knocking on the door. Shark greets them at the threshold with
the baby in his arms and an inflated air of paternal pride.

INT. HOUSE THRESHOLD - CONTINUOUS

SHARK
Welcome ladies! Let me introduce
you to our new family jewel Alice.

WOMAN NO.1
(sotto voce to companion)
What a pretty baby! How do you
suppose that is even possible?
Shark is so obliviously enamored that he ignores the insult
while both women continue to stare at the baby in disbelief.

EXT. PARK PLAYGROUND - DAY

SUPERIMPOSED: YEARS LATER

Shark holds hands with his now five-year old daughter Alice
as they stroll through a park toward the playground swings.

A stranger walks by and looks at the extraordinary beauty of
the dark-haired child. It´s just plain admiration, but Shark
returns a menacing scowl as if the man poses a threat to her.

SHARK
(with ferocity)
Aren´t you too old to be taking a
stroll in a children´s playground?

The stranger avoids a confrontation with the paranoid father
and keeps walking. Father and daughter reach the swings area.

SHARK (CONT’D)
Daddy isn´t going to let any man
ever get anywhere near you Alice.

Alice sits on a swing, and Shark pushes her ever so lightly.

ALICE
Okay, daddy, but swing me all the
way to the sky, like you promised.

Shark begins to push his daughter toward greater heights, and
Alice giggles with joy. He scans the small park for imaginary
kidnappers lurking everywhere. “Daddy” is clearly delusional.

ALICE (CONT’D)
Higher, daddy! I’m five years old!

As she swings, Alice MORPHS. She swings up as a five-year old
and swings back down as a ten-year old, and then with another
final swing, she becomes a sixteen-year old.

ALICE (CONT’D)
Daddy, I don´t want to come to the
playground anymore. I´m sixteen!!!

SHARK
Alice, you will always be my baby.

INT. HOUSE KITCHEN - DAY
Shark and Katherine are seated opposite each other at a round
kitchen table having a meal and arguing over their daughter.

KATHERINE
(exasperated)
Pardon my French, Ed, but our Alice
is a good gal, not a bitch in heat.

Shark cuts a bloody steak while talking about menstruation.

SHARK
Katherine, you just can´t tell what
might happen. You just cannot tell
unless you check it out each month.

The temperature has been gradually rising in the kitchen,
and Katherine exhales frustration, ready to blow her top.

SHARK (CONT’D)
It´s that time of month. Have you
checked her out? Is she all right?

KATHERINE
Of course she´s all right, Edward.
Alice has never even kissed a boy.

SHARK
We can´t tell if she´s all right
unless we take Alice to a doctor.

Katherine glares at Shark and unleashes her motherly fury.

KATHERINE
You´re a dirty, suspicious skunk,
Edward Wicks. You best get out of
here, and, if you ever talk about
that again, I´ll... I´ll go away!

Shark pushes his plate of food, gets up from the table, and
leaves the kitchen like a grown child who has been rebuked.

INT. PASTURES OF HEAVEN GENERAL STORE - DAY

Shark enters the local general store with “big shot” swagger,
and storekeeper T.B. ALLEN treats him like a king. The elder
comes around from behind the counter with some paperwork.

T.B. ALLEN
(shaking hands with Shark)
Just the man I needed to talk to!
Need some financial advice Wicks.

SHARK
(raising voice)
And I want to buy the black marble
mantle clock with the onyx columns.
(beat while perusing)
I made a killing on that oil stock.
Sold my shares for a $2,000 profit
the day before the market crashed.

T.B. ALLEN
You don´t say!

The store owner and the locals within earshot are impressed.
Two old-timers whisper their admiration for Shark´s acumen.

OLDTIMER NO.1
That Shark is just sharp as a tack.

OLDTIMER NO.2
Shark ain´t nobody´s fool. I´d hate
to come up against him on business.
Shark pretends not to notice he is the center of attention.

SHARK
I’m going to have to start charging
for my advice on stocks, bonds, and
what not. You´re still looking into
renegotiating that mortgage, T.B.?

T.B. ALLEN
(handing papers to Shark)
I was wondering if you could look
over the mortgage papers and tell
me what you think of the interest.
You always give folks good advice.

SHARK
I’ll look at your mortgage tonight
when I review my investment ledger.

The door of the store swings open followed by a gust of wind
announcing the arrival of a force of nature: JIMMY MUNROE, a
rakish adolescent with his hair slicked back, shining of oil.
His manner and posture convey deflowerer of teenaged virgins.

SHARK (CONT’D)
Who the hell is this kid, T.B.?

T.B. ALLEN
Jimmy Munroe, son of the guy who
bought that haunted Battle farm.
Some sorta teenage heartbreaker.

A cocksure Jimmy struts through the store like he owns it,
and Shark´s eyes follow his steps filled with foreboding.

INT. HOUSE KITCHEN - NIGHT

The Wickses are eating chicken at the kitchen round table.

ALICE
Mother, why do some boys call girls
chicks? Does it have anything to do
with chickens?

KATHERINE
I have no idea, honey.

Shark cannot stomach the idea of any boy near his Alice.

SHARK
Which boy called you a chick,
Alice? Was it that slick boy,
what´s his name again, Kathy?

KATHERINE
(frustrated)
Jimmy Munroe, Ed. Your father
won´t stop talkin’ about some
boy he saw at the store today.

ALICE
Nobody called me a chick, daddy,
but who is Jimmy Munroe?

SHARK
Never mind who he is. Just don´t
let me ever catch you talking to
that boy! I´ll skin you alive if
you even look at Jimmy Munroe.

Katherine aptly changes the subject to spare her daughter.

KATHERINE
Your father received a telegram...
An aunt he barely knew passed away.

SHARK
Aunt Nellie passed away, and I have
to drive to Oakland for the funeral
this weekend to pay my respects.

KATHERINE
Come to think of it, Ed, this will
be the first time that you’ve ever
left us home alone in your life.

EXT. HOUSE FRONT YARD FENCE-COUNTRY ROAD - DAY

SUPERIMPOSED: SATURDAY MORNING

Shark waves to Katherine and Alice and gets in his car parked
on the edge of the road. Mother and daughter wave from behind
the front yard fence.

KATHERINE
Drive safely, Ed. We´ll miss you.

SHARK

Kathy, you take good care of our precious girl. See you on Monday!

ALICE
I´ll miss you, daddy! Bring me a
present from Oakland.

Shark starts his Ford´s engine and drives off to the funeral.

INT. HOUSE KITCHEN - AFTERNOON

SUPERIMPOSED: SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Katherine is washing dishes. Alice walks into the kitchen.

ALICE
(excited)
Mother, Tom Breman just stopped by
to invite both of us to the school
dance tonight. You´ll chaperone me.

KATHERINE
(thrilled but frightened)
Oh, your daddy has never been away
before. I don´t think he´d like it.

ALICE
Come on, Ma, please. I want to go.
We have never gone anywhere alone.
Katherine is overcome by pity for her begging daughter who
has never enjoyed a “moment of privacy” in her entire life.

KATHERINE
All right, we´ll go.

INT. PASTURES OF HEAVEN GENERAL STORE - NIGHT

SUPERIMPOSED: MONDAY NIGHT

Shark walks into the store to catch up with valley gossip.

SHARK
So, T.B., anything worth talking
about happened during my absence
this weekend? Just got back from
looking at properties in Oakland.

T.B. ALLEN
Are you going to buy real estate?

SHARK
I have $30,000 just laying in the
bank earning bank interest. Lands
appreciate at a much better rate.
(beat)
What´s the new gossip? Spill, T.B.

T.B. Allen expertly simulates reluctance to share the gossip.

T.B. ALLEN
Well, I´m not sure if I should say
anything about what went down this
Saturday night at the schoolhouse,
but I hear there may be a wedding.

SHARK
Yeah? Who´s getting married?

T.B. ALLEN
Well, it´s Alice and Jimmy.

SHARK
Alice and Jimmy?! What happened?
And what was my baby girl Alice
doing at the schoolhouse dance?!

Shark grabs T.B. by the shoulders and shakes the oldtimer.

T.B. ALLEN
(whimpering)
Well, Ms. Burke said they were
kissing in the bushes behind...

Shark shoves the old man into his seat before he can finish
his sentence, proceeds to the glass-fronted firearm display
case, and removes a rifle plus a box of ammunition. Without
breaking stride, Shark heads out into the night.

T.B. ALLEN (CONT’D)
Don´t you do nothing crazy, and
that rifle ain´t yours to take!

T.B. reaches for the phone as soon as Shark exits his store.

INT. HOUSE BEDROOM - MORNING

SUPERIMPOSED: TUESDAY MORNING

Shark tiptoes into the sparsely furnished bedroom of a family
who is financially challenged rather than “frugal.” Katherine
lies in bed staring at the ceiling after a sleepless night.

KATHERINE
(compassionate)
Your first arrest in life to
celebrate Alice´s first kiss?

SHARK
You already heard the news, huh?
Swear to sweet Jesus that I just
lost my mind, but I wasn’t going
to kill him, just scare him away.
Got arrested before I found him.
Katherine sits up in bed and offers her lap for some comfort.

KATHERINE
Edward Wicks come to bed with your
first and last gal. You don´t have
to say another word about it. Come
here you. Your Kathy knows that ya
wouldn´t kill a fly.

Shark crawls into bed drained and defeated, putting his head
on her lap, like a child in desperate need of some affection.
His eyes are set on the ceiling lost in his shame.

SHARK
The deputy took me in and they
asked for a ten thousand dollar
bond. I had to tell the County
Judge that I have never had more
than five hundred dollars at one
time in my life. Every damn body
knows that I’m just a liar and a
fraud, that I’ve got no money.
They´re all ridiculing me saying
that the Shark had no teeth.

Katherine gently strokes his forehead as he pours his lament.

KATHERINE
You´ve had no chance in life, Ed.
This old farm is all you´ve ever
seen of the world. Everybody who
has asked for your advice always
said that you made them plenty...
so I know that you can make money.

Shark’s body gradually stiffens with his regained confidence.

SHARK
I know how to make other people’s
money grow but I´ve never had any
money of my own to invest.

KATHERINE
We´ll sell this farm and get away
from these Pastures of Heaven and
then you´ll get the shot that you
never got. I believe in you, Ed.
You´ll see that you can make it.

Shark suddenly sits up on the bed with reinvigorated eyes and
hugs his wife.

SHARK
I love you Katherine. You´re right.
We´ll sell this ranch and then I´ll
show the world what I am made of...

BLACK SCREEN

Edward Wicks sold his family ranch and moved with his wife to
New York where he ultimately established one of Wall Street´s
most successful money management firms and became known as
“The Shark of Wall Street.”

Alice Wicks married James Munroe and remained in the valley
where they had three children named Edward, James Jr., and
Katherine.

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