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High Fidelity Script
(Edit)

                        HIGH FIDELITY

                             by
        D.V. De Vincentis, Steve Pink, & John Cusack

              based on the novel by Nick Hornby











                           9/11/98

                        London Draft













                                            Registered: WGAw




FADE IN:

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

STEREO

Not a minisystem, not a matching set, but coveted audiophile
clutter of McIntosh and Nakamichi, each component from a
different era, bought piece by piece in various nanoseconds
of being flush.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            What came first?  The music or the
            misery?  People worry about kids
            playing with guns and watching
            violent videos, we're scared that
            some sort of culture of violence is
            taking them over...

RECORDS

Big thin LPs.  Fields of them.  We move across them, slowly...
they seem to come to rest in an end of a few books... but
then the CD's start, and go on, faster and faster, forever
then the singles, then the tapes...

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            But nobody worries about kids
            listening to thousands -- literally
            thousands -- of songs about broken
            hearts and rejection and pain and
            misery and loss.

It seems the records, tapes, and CD's will never end until...
we come to ROB -- always a hair out of place, a face that
grows on you.  He sits in an oversized beanbag chair and
addresses us, the wall of music behind him.

                         ROB
            Did I listen to pop music because I
            was miserable, or was I miserable
            because I listened to pop music?

INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT

A group of bags huddled next to the door.  Not the go-on-
vacation set, but the clothes-to-coffee-maker moving out
variety.  Rob stares at them, his face unreadable, his head
gripped by a big pair Boudokan headphones.  We hear what he
is hearing, something foreboding and upbeat at the same time.

LAURA, Rob's girlfriend, enters the room, and he immediately
pulls the headphones off.  She clocks him for a moment, catching
him in what seems to be an old and repeated moment of
nonpresence.  She begins to heft the bags, Rob goes to her, a
little tardy for his big goodbye.  Laura begins to cry a bit.

                         LAURA
            I don't really know what I'm doing.

He smiles, and she doesn't.  He adjusts.

                         ROB
            You don't have to go this second.
            You can stay until whenever.

                         LAURA
            We've done the hard part now.  I
            might as well, you know...

                         ROB
            Well stay for tonight, then.

Laura shakes her head, lifts the last small bag, and backs
out the door.  A strap catches on a handle and the two of
them wrestle with it a bit, while trying to keep the door
open, until Laura awkwardly disappears from view and the
door shuts behind Rob.  He stays right there staring at the
shut door for a long moment, listening to the fading sound
of Laura and her dragging bags.

STEREO

Rob's left hand cranks the volume knob while his right
switches the CD changer to something loud and adrenal.  He
addresses us again.

                         ROB
            My desert-island, all-time, top
            five most memorable break-ups, in
            chronological order are as follows:
            Alison Ashworth, Penny Hardwick,
            Jackie Allen, Charlie Nicholson,
            Sarah Kendrew.

INT. APARTMENT STAIRWELL

Laura drags her bags, banging down the stairs --

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT

Rob moves around the apartment, seeming to expand physically,
looking for change as he continues.

                         ROB
            Those were the ones that really
            hurt.  Can you see your name in
            that list, Laura?  Maybe you'd
            sneak into the top ten, but there's
            no place for you in the top five.
            Sorry.  Those places are reserved
            for the kind of humiliations and
            heartbreaks that you're just not
            capable of delivering.

He adjusts the angle of the TV, stuffs a creepy family
portrait into a drawer.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            That probably sounds crueler than
            it's meant to, but the fact is,
            we're too old to take each other
            miserable.  Unhappiness used to
            mean something.  Now it's just a
            drag like a cold or having no money.

He moves through the living room to an open window facing
the street.  Looking down two stories, he sees Laura emerge
from the building and drag her bags toward her car across
the street.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            If you really wanted to mess me up,
            you should have got to me earlier.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. SUBURBAN PARK - DUSK - 1980

Rob and Alison sit on the bench, kissing awkwardly.

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            Which brings us to number one.
            Alison Ashworth.

PARK BENCH - DUSK

The same shot, the next night: new clothes, same clumsy
make-out session.

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            My relationship with Alison Ashworth
            lasted six hours.

PARK BENCH - DUSK

...Next night...

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            The two hours after school and
            before The Rockford Files, three
            days in a row.  On the fourth
            afternoon.

SAME PARK BENCH

...And the fourth night...

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            Kevin Bannister.

Alison and another boy, KEVIN BANNISTER.  Kissing.  In the
background, Rob approaches and stops.  He implodes with
self-consciousness and humiliation and attempts to affect a
casual gait as he mopes away.

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            It would be nice to think that
            since I was fourteen, times have
            changed, relationships have become
            more sophisticated, females less
            cruel, skins thicker, but there
            still seems to be an element of
            that afternoon in everything that
            has happened to me since.  All my
            other romantic stories seem to be a
            scrambled version of that first one.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT

Rob sits in his chair, a cord leading from the stereo to
headphones draped around his neck.  Behind him is the wall
of music.

                         ROB
            Number two.  Penny Hardwick.  Penny
            was great-looking, and her top five
            recording artists were Carly Simon,
            Carole King, James Taylor, Cat
            Stevens, and Elton John...

He lets the needle down on the turntable next to him.
"Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon begins to play as
PRESENCE...

EXT. HIGH SCHOOL LAWN - FLASHBACK - MOS

... and continues as SOUNDTRACK.  PENNY, 16, is walking
across the grass toward us.  She's the clean, sporty, nice
wholesome girl-next-door.  She waves tp off-camera friends,
smiling a winning smile.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Everybody liked her.  She was nice.
            Nice manners.  Nice grades.  Nice-
            looking.

INT. PENNY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Penny and Rob sit on the edge of the bed, kissing.  Rob
moves his hand up toward the breast, but the hand then seems
to have a new idea, and dives south to follow the thigh into
Penny's skirt...

                         ROB (V.O.)
            She was so nice, in fact, that she
            wouldn't let me put my hand
            underneath, or even on top of, her
            bra.

... when he contacts skin, Penny rolls like a gymnast away
and off of the bed, out of frame.  Rob looks away balefully.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

"Nobody Does It Better" continues as Rob walks Penny to her
front door.  She is smiling, he seems distant.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Penny was nice, but I wasn't
            interested in nice, just breasts,
            and therefore she was no good to me.
            And so I was finished with her.

She leans in to kiss him, and he shrugs her off.

                         ROB
            What's the point?  It never goes
            anywhere.

Without looking at her, Rob turns and walks down the street,
getting smaller.  Penny watches for a while.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. "EL" TRAIN CAR - MORNING - PRESENT

Rob sways with the other commuters.

                         ROB
            She cried, and I hated her for it,
            because she made me feel bad.  I
            started dating a girl who everybody
            said would put out, and Penny went
            with this asshole Chris Thompson
            who told me that he had sex with
            her after something like three
            dates.  How had Penny gone from
            a girl who wouldn't do anything to
            a girl who would do everything?

A BUSINESSMAN looks up from his paper at Rob, then back down.

EXT. CLARK STREET - DAY

An old Chicago block of local merchants, on a busy street.
Rob makes his way down the street, jangling a set of keys
and talking to us.

                         ROB
            My store's right up here.  It's
            called The Record Exchange.  It's
            carefully placed to attract the
            bare minimum of window shoppers.

Rob arrives at a storefront, and begins unlocking a rusty
gate with two locks and then a beaten-down door.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            I get by because of the people who
            make a special effort to shop here
            on Saturday young men, always young
            men, who spend a disproportionate
            amount of their time looking for
            deleted Smiths singles and "original
            not rereleased" underline Frank
            Zappa albums.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

In almost darkness.  More light might penetrate the windows
if there weren't so many record-release posters taped to
them.  A dusty narrow corridor clad in burlap and shag rug.
On the walls are bagged 45's you will never hear unless you
commit your life to the losing proposition of listening to
every noodling of Jah Wobble and Glen Glenn and other people
you've never heard of.

But as Rob opens the door, enters, and flips a switch
causing the fluorescents to sputter, we see in his eyes the
reverence and earnestness of a football coach gazing across
an empty field or a priest drawn at midnight to his empty
church.

                         ROB
            The fetish properties are not
            unlike porn.  I would feel guilty
            taking their money if I wasn't,
            kind of, well, one of them.

As he walks one of the two slim aisles toward the back, he
stops on a dime, steps back and pulls a CD from the sea and
replaces it almost the same position, but not quite --
meticulousness and pride in this gesture...

After a moment the door creaks open behind Rob, admitting
DICK, a nervous, forlorn but sweet and intelligent discophile
with long greasy black hair, a Sonic Youth T-shirt, a
monstrous pair of headphones, and a canvas record bag
emblazoned with a label logo.

                         ROB
            'Morning, Dick.

                         DICK
            Oh, hi.  Hi, Rob.

                         ROB
            Good weekend?

                         DICK
            Yeah, OK.  I found the first
            Licorice Comfits album at Vintage
            Vinyl.  The one on Testament of
            Youth.  Never released here.
            Japanese import only.

                         ROB
            Great.

                         DICK
            I'll tape it for you.

                         ROB
            No, that's okay.  Really.

                         DICK
            'Cause you like their second one,
            you said, Pop, Girls. etc.  The one
            with Cheryl Ladd on the cover.  You
            didn't see the cover though.

                         ROB
            Yeah, I haven't really absorbed
            that one.

                         DICK
            Well, I'll just make it for you.

                         ROB
                   (resigned)
            Okay.

                                            CUT TO:
INT. RECORD STORE - LATER

Dick is behind the counter, Rob in the aisles with a
clipboard doing inventory.

                         ROB
                   (re: music)
            What's this?

                         DICK
            The new Belle and Sebastian.  Like
            it?

The door flies open and BARRY, an acid-tongued post-punk
rock misanthrope without quite enough intelligence to
conceptualize his own rebellion, walks in.  His teeth are
clenched in air-guitar concentration and he's phonetically
cranking a Clash riff:

                         BARRY
            BAA!  BA BA DANG!

Dick shrinks back from him instinctively.  He stops mid-step
and cocks his ear at the music playing in the store.  His
face adopts an exaggerated grimace.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            Holy Shiite!  What the fuck's this?

                         DICK
            It's the new --

                         ROB
            It's the record we've been listening
            to and enjoying, Barry.

Barry moves in on the stereo behind the counter, and Dick
gets out of his way.

                         BARRY
            Well that's problematic because it
            sucks ass.

He pops the CD out and frisbees it to Dick.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
                   (re: the CD)
            Yours, I assume...

Barry pulls a tape out of his jacket and jams it in.  "How
to Kill a Radio Consultant" by Public Enemy comes through at
through the red levels.
                         ROB
                   (over the blare)
            TURN IT OFF, BARRY.

                         BARRY
            IT WON'T GO ANY LOUDER.

Barry walks in rhythm toward the stockroom and disappears.
Rob goes behind the counter and stops the tape.  Barry's
head pops out of the stockroom.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            What are you doing?

                         ROB
            I don't want to hear Public Enemy
            right now.

                         BARRY
            Public Enemy!  All I'm trying to do
            is cheer us up.  Go ahead and put
            on some old sad bastard music see
            if I care.

                         ROB
            I don't want old sad bastard music
            either.  I just want something I
            can ignore.

                         BARRY
            But it's my new tape.  My Monday
            morning tape.  I made it last night
            just for today.

                         ROB
            Yeah, well it's fucking Monday
            afternoon.  You should get out of
            bed earlier.

                         BARRY
            Don't you want to hear what's next?

                         ROB
            What's next?

                         BARRY
            Play it.

                         ROB
            Say it.

                         BARRY
                   (sighs)
            "Little Latin Lupe Lu."

Rob groans.

                         DICK
            Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels?

                         BARRY
                   (defensive)
            No.  The Righteous Brothers.

                         DICK
            Oh well.  Nevermind.

Barry bristles and moves slowly in on Dick.

                         BARRY
            What?

                         DICK
            Nothing.

                         BARRY
            No, not nothing.  What's wrong with
            the Righteous Brothers?

                         DICK
            Nothing.  I just prefer the other
            one.

                         BARRY
            Bullshit.

                         ROB
            How can it be bullshit to state a
            preference?

                         BARRY
            Since when did this shop become a
            fascist regime?

                         ROB
            Since you brought that bullshit
            tape in.

                         BARRY
                   (sarcastic)
            Great.  That's the fun of working
            in a record store.  Playing crappy
            pap you don't want to listen to.  I
            thought this tape was going to be,
            you know, a conversation stimulator.
            I was going to ask you for your top
            five records to play on a Monday
            morning and all that, and you just
            had to ruin it.

                         ROB
            We'll do it next Monday.

                         BARRY
            Well what's the point in that?

From outside.  HEAR THE SOUND OF SKATEBOARD WHEELS CLACKING
AND SCRAPING, GETTING LOUDER.  Rob, Dick and Barry stop
fighting to listen, then each moves purposefully to a spot
in the store.  Dick to the register, Barry to the back, Rob
next to the door, as if bracing for a street fight.

The SOUND gets closer, then stops.  The door swings open to
admit VINCE and JUSTIN, two fifteen-year-old skate punks.
Vince's hair is post-apocolyptically hacked to different
lengths, Justin's in uniformly shaven with leopard spots
dyed browse.  Rob follows them, watching their every move.
Dick counters from his perch, getting another angle.  Barry
cracks his knuckles threateningly.  Vince and Justin do
their best browser impersonations.  Finally Justin plucks a
CD, and the two move to the counter.

                         ROB
            Hey.  Didn't you steal that one
            already?

                         DICK
            Can I help you?

                         JUSTIN
            Just this.

                         DICK
            That'll be fifteen-twenty-seven.

Vince reaches into his deep pocket and pulls out a paper
cup, with piece of paper attached that says "Please help me.
I'm retarded."  He pours a mass of change and crumpled
singles onto the counter.  Dick begins counting it out.

                         VINCE
            Isn't your name Dick?

                         DICK
            Yes.

                         VINCE
            That sucks.  Get it?

Dick cracks a sad smile for a second.  He bags the CD and
Vince and Justin are off.  Rob walks back through the stock
room door.

                                            CUT TO:
INT. RECORD STORE - STOCK ROOM - LATER

Rob is on his knees, opening boxes with a razor knife.  He
talks to us as he works.

                         ROB
            I'm sick of the sight of this
            place, to be honest.  Some days I'm
            afraid --

Dick sticks his head in the door, looks at Rob, looks where
Rob is looking (camera), and retreats back through the door.
Rob continues.

                         ROB
            I'm afraid I'll go berserk, rip the
            Elvis Costello mobile from the
            ceiling, throw the "Country Artists
            Male A-K" rack out onto the streets,
            go off to work in a Virgin Megastore
            and never come back --

He hears the bell on the front door RING, and he stops and
listens, looks a bit worried.

                         CUSTOMER (O.S.)
            I'm looking for a record for my
            daughter.  For her birthday.  "I
            Just Called To Say I Love You." Do
            you have it?

                         BARRY (O.S.)
            Oh yeah.  We got it.

Rob relaxes and goes back to work.

                         CUSTOMER (O.S.)
            Great.  Can I have it then?

                         BARRY (O.S.)
            No, you can't.

Rob deflates, shaking his head.

STORE FLOOR

Barry leans back, elbows up on the counter behind him,
talking to the CUSTOMER, a middle-aged graying man in a
raincoat.

                         CUSTOMER
            Why not?

                         BARRY
            Because it's sentimental tacky
            crap, that's why not.  Do we look
            like the kind of store that sells
            "I Just Called To Say I Loved You?"
            Go to the mall and stop wasting our
            time.

                         CUSTOMER
            What's your problem?  What did I...
            Why are you --

                         BARRY
            Do you even know your daughter?
            There is no way she likes that song.
            Or is she in a coma?

The Customer throws up his hands and starts out of the store.

                         CUSTOMER
            Okay, okay, buddy.  I didn't know
            it was Pick On the Middle-Aged
            Square Guy Day.  My apologies.
            I'll be on my way.

He steps out of the door.

                         BARRY
            B'Bye!

Outside, anger catches up to the Customer.  He turns and
throws up a middle finger --

                         CUSTOMER
            FUCK YOU!

-- and bolts.  Barry smiles and turns to see

ROB

standing in the doorway of the stock room.  He feigns
applause.

                         ROB
            Nice, Barry.

                         BARRY
            Rob.  Top five musical crimes
            perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the
            '80's and '90's.  Subquestion -- is
            it in fact unfair to criticize a
            formerly great artist for his
            latter-day sins?  "Is it better to
            burn out than to fade away?"

                         ROB
            You just drove a fucking customer
            away, Barry.

                         BARRY
            We didn't even really have it.  I
            happen to know for a fact that the
            only Stevie Wonder single we have
            is "Don't Drive Drunk." I was just
            goofing on the straight, and it
            never cost you a penny.

                         ROB
            Not the point.

                         BARRY
            Oh, so what's the point then?

                         ROB
            I don't want you talking to our
            customers like that again.

                         BARRY
            "Our customers?" You think that Mr.
            L.L. Bean out there is going to be
            a regular?

Rob's face begins to redden with anger.

                         ROB
            Barry, I'm fucking broke!  I know
            we used to fuck with anyone who
            asked for anything we didn't like,
            but it's gotta stop.

                         BARRY
            Bullshit.  The guy was going to buy
            one record -- which we didn't even
            have -- and leave and never come
            back again anyway.  Why not have a
            little fun?  Big fucking deal.

                         ROB
            What did he ever do to you?

                         BARRY
            He offended me with his terrible
            taste.

                         ROB
            It wasn't even his terrible taste.
            It was his daughter's.

                         BARRY
            Oh, now you're defending that
            motherfucker?  You're going soft in
            your old age, Rob.  There was a
            time when you would have chased him
            out of the store and up the street.
            Now all of a sudden I'm offending
            your golf buddy.
                   (sarcastic)
            You're right, Rob.  I am so sorry.
            How are we ever going to make
            enough money to get you and Laura
            into the country club?

Rob is red and seething.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            And by the way, I tell you this for
            your own good: That's the worst
            sweater I've ever seen.  I have
            never seen a sweater that bad worn
            by anyone I'm on speaking terms
            with.  It's a disgrace to the human
            race.

Rob springs on Barry, grabbing him by the lapels and jerking
him up against the wall.  Rob is so mad he can't say anything.

                         DICK
            Hey, guys... Hey.

Rob runs out of steam and drops Barry, who backpedals fast.

                         BARRY
                   (extremely shaken)
            What are you, some kind of fucking
            maniac?  If this jacket's torn
            you're gonna pay big.

Barry stomps out of the store.  Rob turns and goes back to
the stockroom, and sits on the stepladder.  Dick appears in
the doorway, terrified.

                         DICK
            Are you all right?

                         ROB
            Yeah.  I'm sorry... Look Dick,
            Laura and I broke up.  She's gone.
            And if we ever see Barry again
            maybe you can tell him that.
                         DICK
            'Course I will, Rob.  No problem.
            No problem at all.  I'll tell him
            next time I see him.

Rob nods.  Dick sets out into the uncharted conversational
territory of interpersonal relationships.

                         DICK (CONT'D)
            I've ah... got some other stuff to
            tell him anyway, so it's no problem.
            I'll just tell him about, you know,
            Laura, when I tell him the other
            stuff.

                         ROB
            Fine.

                         DICK
            I'll start with your news before I
            tell him mine, obviously.  Mine
            isn't much, really, just about
            Marie LaSalle
                   (flashes CD of pretty woman)
            playing at Lounge Ax tonight.  I
            like her, you know, she's kind of
            Sheryl Crowish... but, you know,
            good.  So I'll tell him before that.
            Good news and bad news kind of thing.

Dick laughs nervously.

                         DICK (CONT'D)
            Or rather, bad news and good news,
            because he likes this person
            playing tonight.  I mean, he liked
            Laura too, I didn't mean that.  And
            he likes you.  It's just that --

                         ROB
            I understand, Dick.

                         DICK
            Sure.  'Course.  Rob, look.  Do you
            want to... talk about it, that kind
            of thing?

Rob looks up at Dick, who is so nervous that his brow is wet.

                         ROB
            No.  Thanks though, Dick.

Dick sighs with relief, and smiles his way out of the stock
room.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            Number three in the top five break-
            ups was Charlie Nicholson, sophomore
            year of college.  Some people never
            got over 'Nam, or the night their
            band opened for Nirvana.  I guess I
            never really got over Charlie.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. COLLEGE QUAD - DAY - FLASHBACK

About twenty feet away we see a tall, thin beauty, bleach-
blonde hair cropped short in darling '80's new-wave asymmetry.
She is speaking animatedly to a PAMPHLETEER, driving her
points home with a forefinger.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            She looked different.  Dramatic.
            Exotic.  She talked a lot, about
            remarkably interesting things like
            music, books, film, and politics...

INT. CAFE - DAY

A younger Rob sits amongst a group of STUDENTS who are
engaged in a heated conversation.  He is smiling, mouth
closed, just happy to be there.  Charlie sitting next to
him, tousles his hair as she talks incessantly.

                         ROB (V.O.)
                   (over her talking)
            ...so we didn't have those terrible,
            strained sentences, that seemed to
            characterized most of my
            relationships.  And she liked me.
            She liked me.  She liked me.

Charlie gives Rob a quick kiss and keeps talking...

EXT. STREET - AFTERNOON

Rob and Charlie walk arm in arm, Rob in cool clothes and
sunglasses trying to look cool, Charlie making a point about
something.

Rob checks out how cool he looks with her as they walk by a
store window REFLECTION.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            We went out for two years, and for
            every single minute I felt as
            though I was standing on a
            dangerously narrow ledge.  I
            couldn't get comfortable, couldn't
            ever stretch out and relax.  Why
            would a girl -- no, a woman -- like
            Charlie go out with someone who
            only a few years ago sewed a Foghat
            patch on his jacket?  I felt like
            all those people who suddenly
            shaved their heads and said they'd
            always been punks.  I felt like a
            fraud.  And I was depressed by the
            lack of flamboyance in my wardrobe...

INT. CHARLIE'S APARTMENT - DAY

The fabulous sophomore design student's studio apartment:
White wood floor, white walls, overvarnished door, Doisneaux
print on the wall, futon on the floor.  Rob lies back on his
elbows, watching Charlie in uncomfortable, worried awe.  She
stands, her back to him, wearing only her underwear and
pulling on a T-shirt -- a heartbreaking image to look back on.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            ...I worried about my abilities as
            a lover.  I was intimidated by the
            other men in her design department,
            and became convinced that she was
            going to leave me for one of them.

Charlie turns around and looks at Rob with naked ambivalence.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            She left me for one of them.  The
            dreaded Marco.

EXT. CHARLIE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

It is RAINING like crazy, and Rob is shouting up at a lit
window, maniacally gesturing.  The curtains part and
Charlie's figure appears, clad only in a sheet.  Next to her
is a tall, built, handsome man, MARCO, also in a sheet.
Eventually he falls to his knees with a splash and buries
his head in his hands.  The light goes out.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            And I lost it.  I lost it all.
            Dignity, faith, fifteen pounds...

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob wandering through the rain.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Any small idea of personal identity
            that I had acquired up to that point.

INT. SOME RECORD STORE - DAY

A younger and catatonic Rob listlessly sorts through a stack
of records.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            I came to three months later, and
            to my surprise had flunked out of
            school and started working in a
            record store.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob stands in front of his wall of music, shifting LPs
around between the shelves and piles on the floor as he
talks to us.

                         ROB
            What I really learned from the
            Charlie Debacle is that you gotta
            punch your weight.  Charlie was out
            of my Class: too pretty, too smart,
            too witty, too much.  What am I?
            Average.  A middleweight.  Not the
            smartest guy in the world, but
            certainly not the dumbest.  I've
            read books like The Unbearable
            Lightness of Being, Angela's Ashes,
            and Love in the Time of Cholera,
            and understood them, I think --
            they're about girls, right? -- just
            kidding -- but I don't like them
            very much.  My all time top five
            favorite books are Johnny Cash's
            autobiography, Snow Crash by Neil
            Stevenson, Zen and the Art of
            Motorcycle Maintenance, The Trouser
            Press Guides to Rock, and, I don't
            know, probably something by Kurt
            Vonnegut.  I look through the New
            Yorker when my neighbor's done with
            it, and I'm not averse to going
            down to the Fine Arts to watch
            subtitles films, although on the
            whole I prefer American films.
            Top five being Blade Runner, Cool
            Hand Luke, the first two Godfathers
            which we'll count as one, Taxi
            Driver, and The Shining.  I'm okay
            looking, average height, not
            skinny, not fat.  My genius, if I
            can call it that, is to combine a
            whole load of averageness into one
            compact frame.  You might say there
            were millions like me, but there
            aren't, really: Alot of guys have
            impeccable music taste but don't
            read, alot of guys read but are
            really fat, alot of guys are
            sympathetic to women but have
            stupid beards, alot of guys have a
            Woody Allen sense of humor but look
            like Woody Allen.  Some drink too
            much, some drive like assholes,
            some get into fights, or show off
            money, or do drugs.  I don't do any
            of these things, really.  If I do
            okay with women it's not because of
            the virtues I have, but because of
            the ugly flaws I don't have... So.
            Charlie and I didn't match.  After
            her I was determined to never get
            out of my league again.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob presses play on the answering machine.  A pleasant,
older female voice is heard.  It's JANET, Laura's mother.

                         JANET
                   (on machine)
            Hello, you two.  Laura, it's your
            mother.  Your father's angina is a
            little rough today and I thought
            he'd like to talk to you.  No big
            deal.  I love you two.  Bye.

Beep.

                         LIZ
                   (on machine)
            Rob, it's Liz.  Just calling to
            see, well, if you're okay.  Give me
            a ring.  I'm not taking sides.  Yet.
            Lot's of love.  Bye.

He pulls an LP from a shelf, puts it on the turntable and
sits back in his chair.

EXT. LAKE MICHIGAN WATERFRONT - MOS - THE PAST

The MUSIC becomes SOUNDTRACK to the following scenes.  Rob
and SARAH, a thin, modestly attractive young woman, SARAH,
walk and talk.  They seem to be emphatically complaining
together.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Charlie and I didn't match.  Marco
            and Charlie matched.  Me and Sarah,
            number four on the all time break-
            ups list, matched.  She wore more
            or less the same clothes as mine,
            had an acceptable working knowledge
            of music, and she had been dumped
            by some asshole named Michael.  He
            was her moment, Charlie was mine.
            Sarah had sworn off men.  I had
            sworn off women.  It made sense to
            pool our loathing of the opposite
            sex, swear them off together, and
            get to share a bed with someone at
            the same time.

INT. SARAH'S APARTMENT - MOS - NIGHT

Rob and SARAH sit up in bed, staring at the television...

                         ROB (V.O.)
            We were frightened of being left
            alone for the rest of our lives.
            Only people of a certain disposition
            are frightened of being alone for
            the rest of their lives at twenty-
            six.  We were of that disposition.
            Everything seemed much later than
            it was.

INT. SARAH'S KITCHEN - MOS - DAY ROB'S POV

of Sarah, sitting across the table, mid-confession.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            When she told me that she met
            someone else it made no sense.  Her
            meeting someone else was contrary
            to the whole spirit of our
            arrangement.  All we really had in
            common was that we were dumped by
            people, and that we were against
            dumping.  We were violently anti-
            dump.  So how come I got dumped?

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

The MUSIC becomes PRESENCE again, and Rob takes the needle
off the record.

                         ROB
            You run the risk of losing anyone
            who is worth spending time with.
            But I didn't know that at the time.
            All I saw was that I'd moved down a
            division and that it still hadn't
            worked out, and this seemed cause
            for a great deal of misery and
            self-pity.  And that's when Laura
            came along.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob is surrounded by stacks of records on the floor.  He
looks to camera.

                         ROB
            I'm reorganizing my records tonight.
            It's something I do in times of
            emotional distress.  When Laura was
            here I had them in alphabetical
            order, before that, chronologically.
            Tonight, though, I'm trying to put
            them in the order in which I bought
            them.  That way I can write my own
            autobiography without picking up a
            pen.  Pull them all off the shelves,
            look for Revolver and go from there.
            I'll be able to see how I got from
            Deep Purple to The Soft Boys in
            twenty-five moves.  What I really
            like about my new system is that it
            makes me more complicated than I am.
            To find anything you have to be me,
            or at the very least a doctor in
            Rob-ology.  If you wanna find
            Landslide by Fleetwood Mac you have
            to know that I bought it for
            someone in the fall of 1983 and
            then didn't give it to them for
            personal reasons.  But you don't
            know any of that, do you?  You
            would have to ask me to --

The phone rings again.  Rob picks it up.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Yeah?

                         MOM
            Hi, Rob.  It's your mother.

Rob deflates a bit.

                         ROB
            Hi, Mom.

                         MOM
            Everything all right?

                         ROB
            Great.  Super-fantastic.

                         MOM
            How's the store?

                         ROB
            So so.  Up and down.

                         MOM
            Your lucky Laura's doing so well.
            If it wasn't for her, I don't think
            either of us would ever sleep...

Rob holds his lips together with thumb and forefinger, but
succumbs --

                         ROB
            She left.  She's gone.

                         MOM
            What do you mean?  Where did she go?

                         ROB
            How would I know?  Gone.  Girlfriend.
            Leave.  Not say where gone.  Laura
            move out.

                         MOM
            Well call her mother.

                         ROB
            She just called.  She doesn't even
            know.  It's probably the last time
            I'll ever hear her voice.  That's
            weird, isn't it?  You spend
            Christmas at somebody's house, you
            know, and you worry about their
            operations and you see them in
            their bathrobe, and... I dunno...

Silence.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            There'll be another mom and another
            Christmas.  Right?

Silence... More silence.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Hello?  Anybody there?

The sound of SOFT CRYING

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            I'm all right, if that's what's
            upsetting you.

                         MOM
            You know that's not what's upsetting
            me.

                         ROB
            Well it fucking should be, shouldn't
            it?

                         MOM
            I knew this would happen.  What are
            you going to do Rob?

                         ROB
            I'm going to drink this bottle of
            wine watch TV and go to bed.  Then
            tomorrow I'll get up and go to work.

                         MOM
            And after that?

                         ROB
            Meet a nice girl and have children.
            I promise the next time we talk
            I'll have it all sorted out.

                         MOM
            I knew this was going to happen.

                         ROB
            Then what are you getting so upset
            about?

                         MOM
            What did Laura say?  Do you know
            why she left?

                         ROB
            It's got nothing to do with
            marriage, if that's what you're
            getting at.

                         MOM
            So you say.  I'd like to hear her
            side of it.

                         ROB
            Mom!  For the last fucking time,
            I'm telling you Laura didn't want
            to get married!  She is not that
            kind of girl!  To use a phrase.
            That's not what happens now.

                         MOM
            Well I don't know what happens now,
            apart from you meet someone, you
            move in, she goes.  You meet
            someone, you move in, she goes.

Silence.  Rob busted.

                         ROB
            Shut up, Mom.

Rob hangs up the phone.  He fills up his glass again, takes
a swig, and slumps into a chair.  If there was any wind left
in Rob, it just got knocked out.  After a moment, he gets to
his feet, grabs his jacket and heads out the door.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. LOUNGE AX CLUB - LINCOLN AVE. - NIGHT

Rob comes down the street and gets in the short line to
enter the club.  From inside he hears a GUITAR, playing a
tune that becomes familiar not only to Rob, but to us.  When
a strong, lilting female VOICE begins to sing, we hear what
it is: "Baby I Love Your Way," by Peter Frampton.

Rob smiles at first, but begins to darken as the verse
continues.  He steps out of line and leans against the
outside wall, listening.  Is he beginning to cry?  Yes, he
is...

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

                         ROB
            Peter.  Frampton.  That perm! "Show
            Me the Way"!  A phenomenon based on
            a live album that was actually
            recorded in a studio!  What is
            happening?  I am getting misty,
            choked up at a song that I had the
            good sense at twelve to realize was
            so saccharine and stupid as to be
            inarticulatable, until Michael Bolton,
            that is.

                                            CUT BACK TO:

EXT. LOUNGE AX CLUB - LINCOLN AVE.

He looks around self-consciously, and paces a bit, deciding
whether or not to stay.  He takes a deep breath, and heads
in the door.

INT. LOUNGE AX - NIGHT

As Rob enters he looks to the stage, where MARIE LASALLE is
standing alone with her acoustic guitar, heading toward the
song's finish.  Rob's expression begins to shift from the
melancholy to something else altogether.  Marie is beautiful,
and Marie has touched his heart.  Rob navigates toward her
though the small crowd as if pulled by something unseen.  He
addresses us over his shoulder.

                         ROB
            Sentimental music makes you
            nostalgic and hopeful at the same
            time.  Marie's the hopeful part.
            Laura's the nostalgia part.  These
            things happen.  They happen to men,
            at any rate.  This is why I
            shouldn't be listening to pop music.

As he gets closer to the stage --

                         DICK
            ROB!

Rob looks over to see Dick sitting with Barry, a few feet
away.  He shakes it off and sits with them, extending a
meaningful hand to Barry, who takes it.  They turn back to
the stage as Marie finishes the song.

                         ROB
            I always hated this song.

                         DICK
            Yeah.

                         BARRY
            Yeah.

                         ROB
            But now I kind of like it.

Dick and Barry nod, then keep watching.  All three of them
are in their own private fantasies with Marie.

                         DICK
            She shouldn't done it on "The
            Number Four With a Smile."

                         BARRY
            Isn't her album called "Number Four
            With A Smile?"

                         DICK
            That's what I said.

                         BARRY
            No, no, no, you said "The Number
            Four With a Smile," and there's no
            "The" at the front of the title of
            the album.

                         DICK
            It's a reference to a Chinese meal
            in Toronto and I think that there
            is a "The."  But I could be wrong.

                         BARRY
            You can be and are wrong.

They drop it, so that their eyes can drift back to Marie.

                         BARRY
            I wanna date a musician...

                         ROB
                   (nods in agreement)
            I wanna live with a musician.
            She'd write songs at home, ask me
            what she thought of them, maybe
            even include one of our private
            jokes in the liner notes.

                         BARRY
            ...Maybe a picture of me in the
            liner notes...

                         DICK
            Just in the background somewhere.

MARIE

as the song ends, and she smiles out over the room.  The
audience applauds.

                         MARIE
            Thanks, you guys, I know I'm not
            supposed to like that song, but I
            do.  I'm gonna take a break for a
            second.  Anybody wants to buy one
            of my tapes, they're five bucks up
            here.  One of my other personalities
            will be selling them.

ROB, DICK, AND BARRY

                         BARRY
            Let's go get one.

                         ROB
            Let's not.

                         DICK
            I want a tape.

Barry and Dick stand and begin to move off...

                         ROB
            I don't need to go up there right
            now.

... and they're gone.  After a beat, Rob gets up and follows
them.

FOOT OF THE STAGE

Dick and Barry wait nervously to buy a tape, Rob just behind
them.  Marie processes sales with polite monosyllables,
until the three get up front.

                         MARIE
            Enjoying yourselves?

They dart eyes to each other, then nod.

                         MARIE (CONT'D)
            Good.  'Cause I'm enjoying myself.

                         ROB
            Good.

Rob hands her a ten and she roots around in a duffel bag for
change...

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            So you live in Chicago now?

                         MARIE
            Yup.  Not far from here, actually.

                         BARRY
            You like it?

                         MARIE
            It's okay.  Hey.  You guys might be
            the sort to know.  Are there any
            good record stores around here or
            do I have to go downtown?

Barry and Dick do not try to control themselves.  They point
to Rob.

                         DICK
            He's got one!

                         BARRY
            On Clark Street!

                         DICK
            A couple blocks!  About six!

                         BARRY
            We work there!

                         DICK
            You'd love it!

Marie laughs.

                         MARIE
            What do you sell?

                         BARRY
            A little of anything that matters.
            Rock, soul, R&B, punk rock, hip-
            hop, ska, new wave...

                         MARIE
            Sounds great.

The line behind them is moving in, and Marie smiles at them
and turns to someone else.  They scurry back toward their
table.

                         ROB
            What did you tell her about the
            shop for?

                         BARRY
            I didn't know it was classified
            information.  I mean, I know we
            don't have any customers, but I
            thought that was a bad thing, not,
            like, a business strategy.

Rob looks over Barry at Marie.  She catches his eye as she
looks over the room.  His eyes shoot to the floor.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - STOCK ROOM - LATER

Rob is going through a huge stack of used CD's, sorting them
off into different bins, bouncing his head absently to the
music -- the same song of Marie's that Rob had on when Laura
called last night.

                         BARRY (O.S.)
            ROB!  PHONE!

Rob reaches over and hits the SPEAKER button on the phone,
still in the groove of sorting.

                         ROB
            Rob here.

                         LIZ (O.S.)
            Hey.  It's Liz.

                         ROB
            What's happenin'.

                         LIZ
            You called this morning?

                         ROB
            Yeah.  I just wanted to thank you
            for that message last night.  It
            made me feel like...like less of an
            asshole.

                         LIZ
            How're you holding up?

                         ROB
            Actually, I'm fine.  I'm great.
            Last night I got to thinking, "you
            know what?  Maybe it is time to
            move on.  Maybe we're just not
            right for each other.  Or maybe we are.
            But time will tell and at this
            point I'm going to be fine with
            whatever's meant to be." You know?

                         LIZ
            Yeah.  Like I said, I don't want to
            take sides.  And I like Laura with
            you.  She's more fun, more open.
            You guys are good together.  I just
            wish you two could, I don't know.
            I don't think much of this Ian
            guy --

-- Dick bursts in, huge-faced --

                         DICK
            Rob.

                         ROB
            Liz, hold on a second --
                   (turns to Dick)
            What?

                         DICK
            Marie LaSalle is in the store!
            Here, she's here, and now!

Rob freezes, he and Dick turn to the speaker, which cranks
Marie's voice.  Rob goes to the phone and picks up the
handset.

                         ROB
            Liz, can you hold for a second?

He hits hold.

                         ROB
                   (to Dick)
            I'll be out there!  Go!
                   (picks up the phone)
            Hey, Liz, I gotta go... Tomorrow
            night?  Great.  Green Mill.  Fine.
            Seven?  Done.  Thanks.  Right.  Bye.

He hangs up fast, spins around to look in a cracked one-
foot-square cracked mirror bearing the logo of Aerosmith
that is mounted on the wall, and moves out into the

FRONT ROOM

and up the aisle fast toward the stereo where he turns
Marie's music off.  He takes a deep breath and looks up,
meeting her eyes.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Oh.  Hi.

Marie smiles.

                         MARIE
                   (re: music)
            Don't you like that?

                         ROB
            No, no, I love, it's just, thinking
            you're, you must be so sick of it...
            Well.

He reaches back and puts it back on.  He cracks his face
into a smile, then walks fast back to the stock room door.
Marie watches him go.

STOCK ROOM

where as soon as he crosses the threshold his fist clench
and he grimaces:

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            WHAT FUCKING IAN GUY?!!

Dick comes in --

                         DICK
            Rob --!

                         ROB
            -- FUCK OFF!

Dick backs out fast.  Rob leans on a wall.  Barry enters --

                         BARRY
            We're only on the fucking list for
            Marie's gig at the Pulaski Pub,
            that's all!  All three of us.

                         ROB
            That's fucking great, Barry.  We
            can spend fifteen bucks on a cab to
            save five each.  Fantastic, Barry!

                         BARRY
            We can take your car.

                         ROB
            It's not my car, now is it?  It's
            Laura's car, and thus Laura has it.
            So it's an ass-bumping double-
            transferring bus ride through
            bumblefuck or a fat wad on a cab.
            Wow.  Fucking great.

Barry sighs, throws up his hands and heads out the door.

                         BARRY
            Jaggoff...

Barry exits.  Rob seems to be having trouble staying on his
feet.

                         ROB
            Who the fuck is Ian?!

                                            CUT TO:

INT. ROB'S BUILDING'S LOBBY - NIGHT

Rob enters and walks to the mail table, looking like shit.
He starts sifting through envelopes for his.

                         ROB
            Laura doesn't know anybody called
            Ian.  There's no Ian at her office.
            She has no friends named Ian.  She
            has never met anyone called Ian in
            her whole life.  Although there may
            have been one in college -- but I
            am almost certain that since 1989
            she has lived in an Ian-less
            universe.

He slows... and stops.  His face gets a little paler as he
lifts a letter up to his face.

CLOSE-UP: LETTER

A cable service bill to a Mr. I. Raymond.

ROB

as he looks at it, divining.

                         ROB
            "I. Raymond." Ray. "I." IAN.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.
                         ROB
            Mr. I Raymond. "Ray" to his friends,
            and, more importantly, to his
            neighbors.  The guy who up until
            about six weeks ago lived upstairs.
            I knew it was him the moment I saw
            the letter.  I start to remember
            things now: His stupid clothing,
            his music -- Latin, Bulgarian,
            whatever fucking world music was
            trendy that week--stupid laugh,
            awful cooking smells.  I can't
            remember anything good about him at
            all.  I never liked him much then,
            and I fucking hate him now... I
            manage to block out the worst, most
            painful, most disturbing memory of
            him until I go to bed.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Darkness.  We move silently through the rooms, and enter the
bedroom... closer to the bed, we see Rob on his back, sheets
held clenched up to his chin.  He stares at the ceiling,
sadly.

JUMP CUT

to almost the same shot, but it's Rob and Laura in the bed,
semi-tangled.  Laura has a book in her lap.  A CREAKING is
heard.  Laura's eyes go to the ceiling, and Rob sits up at
attention.  They look up at the light fixture, which shakes
a little faster, with the rhythm of the creaking.  Someone
is definitely having sex upstairs, and they are going for it.

                         ROB
            Jeez.  He goes on long enough.

                         LAURA
            I should be so lucky.

They turn to each other and laugh.

JUMP CUT BACK

to Rob lying still in bed, staring at the ceiling.

                         ROB
            You are as abandoned and as noisy
            as any character in a porn film,
            Laura.  You are Ian's plaything,
            responding to his touch with
            shrieks of orgasmic delight.
            No woman in the history of the
            world is having better sex than the
            sex you are having with Ian in my
            head.

ROB'S IAN-LAURA SEX NIGHTMARE - QUICK CUTS

Ian mercilessly savages Laura from behind, below, and above,
champagne showers, toe-sucking, and animal screams --

BACK TO ROB IN BED,

imploding with disgust and sorrow.  Tears run down his
cheeks into his ears.

                         ROB
            Number five -- Jackie Allen.  My
            break up with Jackie Allen had no
            effect on my life whatsoever.  I
            just slotted her in to bump you out
            of position, Laura.  Yes, you do in
            fact make it into the top five.
            Welcome.  And just to remind you,
            the list is in chronological order,
            not in the order of pain and
            suffering.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Dick and Barry are stocking the racks.  Rob stands at the
register, rocking back and forth sort of like an idiot, to
"Always and Forever" by the Commodores.  He is a mess.

                         FEMALE VOICE
            Hey.

Rob looks up to see a nineteen or twenty-year-old GIRL
standing in front of him.

                         GIRL
            Do you have soul?

Rob smiles bitterly at her, clearly having a different
meaning in mind.

                         ROB
            That all depends.

She kind of backs away and goes back to browsing.  The phone
rings and Rob picks it up.
                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Record Exchange... How many
            records... Right, well if you could
            bring them -- okay, well, where do
            you live?  Right... how about now?
            I can come right over...
                   (Rob scribbles)
            Okay.

He hangs up and grabs his jacket.  Dick emerges from the back.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
                   (to Dick)
            Some lady's got some singles to
            sell.  I'll be back in a half-hour.

Rob walks out.

EXT./INT. FANCY LINCOLN PARK TOWNHOUSE - DAY

Rob mounts the stairs and rings the doorbell.  The door
opens, revealing a too-tan WOMAN in her late forties, in
designer jeans and a T-shirt bearing a rhinestone peace sign.
She says nothing.

                         ROB
            Hi.  You called about the records?

She turns and walks into the house, leaving the door open
for him.  He follows her in and through a fabulous first
floor, packed with big-bucks bourgeois: Rugs, art, and
antiques:

She ushers Rob into a large study, and turns the light on.
He misses a breath.  The walls are lined with mahogany cases
custom-built for CDs, albums, epicurean stereo components, a
couple priceless vintage guitars -- every one of the
thousands of items bear a little numbered sticker, like a
museum.  She points to several boxes on the floor, full of
hundreds of singles.

                         WOMAN
            Those.

Rob steps into the room like an Undeserving, and carefully
drops to his knees to examine the singles, each pristine in
a plastic sleeve: the original God Save the Queen by the Sex
Pistols, original Otis Reddings, Elvis Presleys, James
Browns, Jerry Lee Lewises, Beatles... on and on.  The mother
lode.  Rob is doing the best to control the onset of
hyperventilation.  He dares a glance over his shoulder to
her to see if this is a joke.

                         WOMAN (CONT'D)
            What do you think?

                         ROB
            It's the best collection I've ever
            seen.

                         WOMAN
            Give me fifty bucks and they're all
            yours.

Rob's face goes funny.  He looks around for a hidden camera.

                         ROB
            These are worth at least, I don't
            know --

                         WOMAN
            I know what they're worth.  Give me
            fifty and get them out.

                         ROB
            But you must have --

                         WOMAN
            I must have nothing.  Their my
            husband's.

                         ROB
            And you must not be getting along
            too well right now, huh?

                         WOMAN
            He's in Jamaica with a twenty-
            three-year-old.  A friend of my
            daughter's.  He had the fucking
            nerve to call me and ask me to
            borrow some money and I told him to
            fuck off, so he asked me to sell
            his singles collection and send him
            a check for whatever I go, minus a
            ten percent commission.  Which
            reminds me.  Can you make sure you
            give me a five?  I want to frame it
            and put it on the wall.

                         ROB
            It must have taken him a long time
            to get them together.

                         WOMAN
            Years.  This collection is as close
            as he's ever come to an achievement.

Rob looks back at the records but avoids the trance.

                         ROB
            Look.  Can I pay you properly?  You
            don't have to tell him what you got.
            Send him forty-five bucks and blow
            the rest.  Give it to charity.  Or
            something.

                         WOMAN
            That wasn't part of the deal.  I
            want to be poisonous but fair.

                         ROB
                   (looking back at the records)
            Look... I... I'm sorry.  I don't
            want to be any part of this.

                         WOMAN
            Suit yourself.  There are plenty of
            others who will.

                         ROB
            That's why I'm trying to compromise.
            What about fifteen-hundred?  They're
            worth five times that.

                         WOMAN
            Sixty.

                         ROB
            Thirteen hundred.

                         WOMAN
            Seventy-five.

                         ROB
            Eleven-hundred.  That's my lowest
            offer.

                         WOMAN
            And I won't take a penny over ninety.

They start smiling at each other.

                         WOMAN (CONT'D)
            With eleven hundred he could come
            home, and that's the last thing I
            want.

                         ROB
            I'm sorry but I think you better
            talk to someone else.

                         WOMAN
            Fine.

Rob half stands, then drops again for one last lingering look.

                         ROB
            Can I buy this Otis Redding single
            off you?

                         WOMAN
            Sure.  Ten cents.

                         ROB
            Oh, come on!  Let me give you ten
            dollars for this, and you can give
            the rest away for all I care.

                         WOMAN
            Okay.  Because you took the trouble
            to come up here.  And because
            you've got principles.  But that's
            it.  I'm not selling them to you
            one by one.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. FANCY LINCOLN PARK TOWNHOUSE - DAY

Rob comes down the stairs holding his single, and walks down
the street talking to camera.

                         ROB
            How come I end up siding with the
            bad guy, the man who ran off to
            Jamaica with some nymphette?  I
            just got left for someone else, so
            why can't I bring myself to feel
            whatever it is his wife is feeling?
            All I can see is that guy's face
            when he gets that pathetic check in
            the mail for those records, and I
            can't help but feel desperately,
            painfully sorry for him.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. GREEN MILL - NIGHT

The bar where Al Capone used to party, and it looks about
the same: colored lightbulbs, shadowboxes, deep plush booths
and a stage for jazz.  Rob slumps back in a booth, stirring
a drink with his finger.  After a beat, we hear a DOOR SLAM
off camera, and Rob looks up with a bit of fear.
Heavy footsteps get louder and closer, until a shadow
shrouds Rob -- LIZ stands in front of him.

                         LIZ
            MOTHERFUCKER.

She is enormous, and she is mad as hell.  Rob reflexively
shrinks.

                         ROB
            What's the -- hey, Liz --

                         LIZ
            -- No, no, no, don't even.  I
            talked to Laura, Rob.  I talked to
            her and she gave me a little
            background.  And you're a fucking
            ASSHOLE.

She turns and stomps toward the door.  Rob gets up and
follows.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob comes out of the club and follows Liz.  She hears him
and turns on him, punctuating with a finger in his chest.

                         LIZ
            To think I sympathized with you for
            two seconds!  Poor Rob!  Laura left
            him out of nowhere for the schmuck
            upstairs.  You let me believe that!

                         ROB
            It's true!

                         LIZ
            Rob!  Two years ago you got Laura
            pregnant; you then proceeded to
            cheat on her!  You borrowed money
            from her and never paid a dime back!
            And then, just a few weeks ago, you
            told her you were unhappy with her
            and were "kind of looking around
            for somebody else!"

                         ROB
            Well she --

She turns again and keeps walking, holding a defiant middle
finger over her shoulder as she fades down the street.

INT. SUBWAY CAR - NIGHT

Rob sits, rocking slightly with the movement of the train.
He stares at an OLD COUPLE who do not speak to each other.

                         ROB
            She's right, of course.  I am a
            fucking asshole.  I did and said
            those things.  But before you
            judge, although you've probably
            already done so, go off for a
            minute and write down the top five
            worst things that you have done to
            your partner, even if -- especially
            if -- your partner doesn't know
            about them.  Don't dress things up
            or try to explain them.  Just write
            them down in the plainest language
            possible...

A LONG BEAT, even five or ten seconds.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Pencils down.  Okay, so who's the
            asshole now?

                                            CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Saturday.  For the first time we see the place kind of busy.
Rob watches the room.  Barry is toward the back, talking to
a CUSTOMER. "Cruel to Be Kind" by Nick Lowe plays.

                         BARRY
            It's almost impossible to find,
            especially on CD.  Yet another
            cruel trick on all of the dumbasses
            who got rid of their turntables.
            But every other Echo and the
            Bunnymen album --

                         CUSTOMER
            I have all of the others.

                         BARRY
            Oh really.  Well what about the
            first Jesus and Mary Chain?

                         CUSTOMER
            They always seemed...

                         BARRY
            They always seemed what?  They
            always seemed really great, is what
            they always seemed.  They picked up
            where your precious Echo left off,
            and you're sitting here complaining
            about no more Echo albums.  I can't
            believe that you don't own that
            record.  That's insane.

He plucks it from the rack, and sticks it in the Customer's
hand, who regards it with a bit a of shame.

                         CUSTOMER
            Well what about the new Echo --

                         BARRY
            Do not get ahead of yourself.

DICK

is listening to a female customer, but he doesn't hear her
voice.

CUSTOMER - DICK'S POV

The army bag with a red cross on it.  The ring-of-ivy tattoo
around the wrist.  The monkey boots.  The eye shadow.

DICK

thinking, calculating...

                         DICK
            The interesting thing about Green
            Day is that so much of their music
            is in truth directly influenced by,
            in my opinion, two bands.

                         FEMALE CUSTOMER
            The Clash.

                         DICK
            Correct.  The Clash.  But also the
            Stranglers.

                         FEMALE CUSTOMER
            Who?

                         DICK
            I think you would love the
            Stranglers...

Dick pulls a Stranglers record and puts it on the stereo.
Her brow furrows, and then she smiles.

                         FEMALE CUSTOMER
            This sounds great.

Dick smiles humbly.  Two people in the store turn and
approach.

                         CUSTOMER
            Is this the new Green Day?

BARRY still talking to his Customer, who now has several
CD's in his hand.  He looks at Barry with a mixture of hate
and adoration.

                         BARRY
            That is perverse.  Do not tell
            anyone you don't own fucking Blonde
            on Blonde.  What about Television?

                         CUSTOMER
            I have a television.

                         BARRY
            NO--!

Barry adds more records to the Customer's stack.

A FEW MINUTES LATER - ROB AND DICK

stand behind the counter.  Rob holds a CD in his hand, and
surveys the roaming customers with a semi-serious air of
authority.

                         ROB
            I will now sell four copies of Cats
            and Dogs by the Royal Trux.

                         DICK
            Do it.  Do it.

Rob pops the CD in and it begins to play... He stands there
with his arms folded, waiting.  After a moment, a Customer
approaches.

                         CUSTOMER
                   (re: music)
            What is this?

                         ROB
            It's the Royal Trux.
                         CUSTOMER
            It's great.

                         ROB
            I know.

ROB'S POV

of the room.  Something has caught his eye: a cropped head
with a leopard skin pattern surfaces and disappears, like
Nessie.

Rob's face gets hot and mad.  He jumps out from behind the
counter.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Dick, ring the man up...

He moves like a cat through the crowd.  Justin sees him
coming and counters around the middle island and heads for
the door.  Vince appears next to him, fiddling with his belt.
He sees Rob now, and he and Justin bolt for the door.  Rob
doubles back.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            DICK!  THE DOOR!

Dick sees Vince and Justin too late.  Rob is right behind
them and as they get out the door, he reaches... and comes
up with the back half of a skateboard.

EXT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob emerges behind them, Vince's skateboard in hand.  They
have enough distance to bolt, but they can't leave that
board behind.

                         ROB
            Okay, fuckos.  How much is this
            deck worth to you, and how many
            CD's did you rip off?  Can you do
            the math?

Justin pulls two CD's out and slides them over to Rob.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
                   (to Vince)
            And what about you, dork?

Vince pulls about six, and puts them down in a neutral spot.
Rob picks all of them up and starts looking through them.
Dicks pokes his head out of the door.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Dick, call the police, please.

Vince and Justin look at each other.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
                   (looking through the CD's)
            Eno import.  Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
            Break beats.  Serge Gainsbourg.
            Ryuchi Sakamoto, Syd Barrett...
            What's going on here?  Are you guys
            stealing for other people now?

                         VINCE
            Naw.  Those are for us.

                         ROB
            Oh really.  You two are slamming to
            Nico now?

                         JUSTIN
            You're, like, so bigoted to look at
            us and, like, think you know what
            we listen to.

                         VINCE
            You got the CD's so can I have my
            board back?

                         ROB
            I think you have more.

                         VINCE
            Well we don't.

                         ROB
            I can't frisk you but the cops can.

Justin reaches down again into his baggy shorts and comes up
with a tattered old book, "How To Make A Record."  He tosses
it over.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Jesus.  That thing's been in the
            bargain bin for six months!  Was it
            just your criminal nature or what?
            Hell, I would've given it to you
            for free.

                         VINCE
            No, we...

                         JUSTIN
            We don't know how it works.  Nobody
            even knows, so we wanted to check
            it out in that mag.

Rob snorts.

                         JUSTIN
            Like, do you know how to actually
            make a CD?

Rob can't resist edifying them -- the curse of the
underappreciated expert.

                         ROB
            Uh, yes I, like, do... It's simple.
            You make the tracks -- recording
            studio -- deliver them to the
            pressing plant where a master is
            cut, the master is then dubbed to
            submasters, which are the "mothers,"
            as their called, for each press in
            the plant.  You press the CD's or
            records, put in your cover art, and
            that's it.

                         VINCE
            Records are those big round black
            things, right?

                         ROB
            Fuck off.

Rob turns to go back in the store.

                         VINCE
            Hey, can I have my board?

Rob drops it and enters the store.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - NIGHT - QUICK CUTS:

Barry emerges from the back wth three opened bottles of beer
as the last customer goes out the door... The three lean
against the bins, tired and smiling.

                         BARRY
                   (to Rob)
            What?

                         ROB
            What do you mean, "what?"
                         BARRY
            What are you snickering about?

                         ROB
            I'm not snickering.  I'm smiling.
            Because I'm happy.

                         BARRY
            What am I missing?  What do you
            have to be happy about?

                         DICK
            Well we rang $900 today.

                         ROB
            Yeah but more than that.  I'm happy
            because I'm proud of us.  Because
            although our talents are small and
            peculiar, we use them to their best
            advantage.

Dick and Barry look at each other.  They almost know how to
take a compliment.

EXT. RECORD STORE - NIGHT

Rob, now alone, turns the sign from "open" to "closed" shuts
the door behind him, and pulls the gate across.  Laura
appears from the next doorway.  He jumps.

                         ROB
            Shit!

                         LAURA
            Hi.

                         ROB
            Hi.

                         LAURA
            I thought I could give you a lift
            back.

                         ROB
            Are you coming home?

                         LAURA
            Yes.  Well, I'm coming over to your
            house to get some things.

                         ROB
            My house?

Laura turns and begins walking.  Rob looks at camera.

                         ROB
            First of all: The money.  The money
            is easy to explain: She had it and
            I didn't, and she wanted to give it
            to me.  If she hadn't, I would have
            gone under.  I've never paid her
            back because I've never been able
            to, and just because she's took off
            and moved in with some Supertramp
            fan doesn't make me five grand
            richer.  So that's the money --

Laura's CAR HORN is heard.  He heads off.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. LAURA'S CAR - NIGHT

They move down the street, and it's a little tense.  Laura
pushes a tape into the stereo.  Art Garfunkel's "Bright
Eyes" begins to play.  Rob turns away from her and makes a
face, but she knows he's making it.

                         LAURA
            You can make all the faces you want.
            My car.  My car stereo.  My
            compilation tape.

Rob tries not to speak, but --

                         ROB
            How can you like Art Garfunkel and
            Marvin Gaye?  It's like saying you
            support the Israelis and the
            Palestinians.

                         LAURA
            It's not like saying that at all,
            actually, Rob.  Art Garfunkel and
            Marvin Gaye make pop records --

                         ROB
            -- Made.  Made.  Marvin Gaye is
            dead, his father shot him in --

                         LAURA
            -- whatever, and the Israelis and
            the Palestinians don't.  Art
            Garfunkel and Marvin Gaye are not
            engaged in a bitter territorial
            dispute, and the Israelis and the
            Palestinians are.  Art Garfunkel
            and Marvin Gaye --
                         ROB
            -- Alright, alright but --

                         LAURA
            -- and who says I like Marvin Gaye,
            anyway?

He reels on her.

                         ROB
            Hey!  Marvin Gaye! "Got to Give It
            Up!" That's our song!  Marvin Gaye
            is responsible for our entire
            relationship!

                         LAURA
            Is that right?  I'd like a word
            with him.

                         ROB
            But don't you remember?

                         LAURA
            I remember the song.  I just
            couldn't remember who sang it.

Rob shakes his head in disbelief.

                         LAURA
            I can see why you prefer Gaye to
            Garfunkel.  I get it, really.  But
            there are so many other things to
            worry about.  They're only records,
            and if one is better than the
            other, well, who cares, besides you
            and Barry and Dick?  I mean really,
            who gives a flying fuck?

Silence.

                         ROB
            You used to care more about things
            like Marvin Gaye than you do now.
            When I first met you, and I made
            you that tape, you loved it.  You
            said -- and I quote -- "It was so
            good it made you ashamed of your
            record collection."

                         LAURA
            Well, I liked you.  You were a
            deejay, and I thought you were hot,
            and I didn't have a boyfriend, and
            I wanted one.

                         ROB
            So you weren't interested in music
            at all?

                         LAURA
            Yeah, sure.  More so then than I am
            now.  That's life though, isn't it?

The car slows, and Laura parks.

                         ROB
            But Laura... that's me.  That's all
            there is to me.  There isn't
            anything else.  If you've lost
            interest in that, you've lost
            interest in everything.

                         LAURA
            You really believe that?

Laura turns the engine off and unbuckles her seat belt.

                         ROB
            Yes.  Look at me.  Look at our --
            the apartment.  What else do I
            have, other than records and CDs?

                         LAURA
            And do you like it that way?

                         ROB
            Not really.

She half smiles.

                         LAURA
            Let's go in.

She gets out of the car.  Rob turns to camera, speaking
quietly and urgently.

                         ROB
            Okay, Number two: The stuff I told
            her about being unhappy in the
            relationship, about half looking
            around for someone else: She
            tricked me into saying it.  We were
            having this state of the union type
            conversation and she said, quite
            matter-of-factly, that we were
            pretty unhappy at the moment, and
            did I agree, and I said yes, and
            she asked whether I ever thought
            about meeting someone else.
            So I asked her if she ever thought
            about it, and she said of course,
            so I admitted that I daydream about
            it from time to time.  Now I see
            that what we were really talking
            about was her and Ian, and she
            suckered me into absolving her.  It
            was a sneaky lawyer's trick, and I
            fell for it, because she's much
            smarter than me.

He scrambles out of the car.

INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT

The lock turns and Rob enters, holding the door for Laura
who slips by, her coat in her hands.  She glances down at
the table by the door and sees Ian's envelope.

                         ROB
            You can take it with you if you want.

She slips it into her purse.  He stands facing her for a
moment, then crosses to her, takes her coat and tosses it on
a chair.  She opens the closet and takes out a big laundry
sack.

                         LAURA
            Have you tackled the Great
            Reorganization yet?

                         ROB
            Don't you think there are more
            important things to talk about than
            my record collection?

She begins putting books and other things into the bag...

                         LAURA
            You bet.  I've been saying that for
            years.

Having no comeback, Rob goes for the moral high ground.

                         ROB
            So.  Where have you been staying
            for the last week?

                         LAURA
            I think you know that.

                         ROB
            Had to work it out for myself,
            though, didn't I?

Laura looks suddenly tired and sad, and looks away.

                         LAURA
            I'm sorry.  I haven't been very
            fair to you.  That's why I came
            here to the store this evening.  I
            feel terrible, Rob.  This is really
            hard, you know.

                         ROB
            Good.
                   (beat)
            So.  Is it my job?

                         LAURA
            What?  Gimme a fucking break.  Is
            that what you think?  That your not
            big enough a deal for me?  Jesus,
            gimme a little credit, Rob.

                         ROB
            I don't know.  It's one of the
            things I thought of.

                         LAURA
            What were the others?

                         ROB
            Just the obvious stuff.

                         LAURA
            What's the obvious stuff?

                         ROB
            I don't know.

She stands and walks toward the bathroom.

                         LAURA
            I guess it's not that obvious, then.

                         ROB
            No.

As soon as she shuts the door behind her, he turns to camera.

                         ROB
            And number three: The Pregnancy.  I
            didn't know she was pregnant.  Of
            course I didn't.  She hadn't told
            me because I had told her I was...
            sort of... seeing somebody else.
            We thought we were being very
            grown-up, but we were being
            preposterously naive, childish
            even, to think that one of us could
            fuck around and then own up to it
            while we were living together.
            So -- I didn't find out about it
            'til way later.  We were going
            through a good period and I made a
            crack about having kids and she
            burst into tears.  I made her tell
            me what it was all about, and she
            did.  I felt guilty and so I got
            angry.  She told me that at the
            time I didn't look like a very good
            long-term bet.  That it was a hard
            decision and she didn't see any
            point in consulting me about it...
            When the whole sorry tale comes out
            in a great big --

We hear the bathroom door open.

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            What?

                         ROB
                   (covering)
            What, what?

Laura comes out with a toiletry bag and places it by the door.

                         LAURA
            Did you say something?

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            No.  So.  Is it working out with Ian?

                         LAURA
            Rob.  Don't be childish.

                         ROB
            Why is that childish?  Your living
            with the guy!  I'm just asking how
            it's going.

                         LAURA
            I am not living with him.  I've
            just been staying with him for a
            few days until I work out what I'm
            doing.  Look, this has nothing to
            do with anyone else.  You know
            that, don't you?  I left because we
            weren't exactly getting along, and
            we weren't talking about it.  And I
            suddenly realized that I like my
            job, and I like what my life is
            could be turning into, and that I'm
            getting to a point where I want to
            get my shit together and I can't
            really see that ever happening with
            you, and yeah, yeah, I sort of get
            interested in someone else, and
            that went further than it should
            have, so it seemed like a good time
            to go.  But I have no idea what
            will happen with Ian in the long
            run.  Probably nothing.

                         ROB
            Well then why don't you quit it
            while you seem to not be ahead?

Laura rolls her eyes and head off into the bedroom with the
laundry bag.  Rob turns back to camera.

                         ROB
            -- When the whole sorry tale comes
            out in a great big lump like that,
            even the most shortsighted jerk,
            even the most self-deluding and
            self pitying of jilted, wounded
            lovers can see that there is some
            cause and effect going on here,
            that abortions and Ian and money
            and affairs all belong to, all
            deserve each other.

Laura reappears, her bag half-filled with clothes, and goes
to the book shelves next to the records.  She starts topping
off the bag with books.

                         LAURA
            Look.  Maybe you'll grow up and
            we'll get it together, you and me.
            Maybe I'll never see either of you
            again.  I don't know.  All I know
            is that it's not a good time to be
            living here.

                         ROB
            So, what, you haven't definitely
            decide to dump me?  There's still a
            chance we'll get back together?

                         LAURA
            I don't know.

                         ROB
            Well, if you don't know, there's a
            chance, right?  It's like, if
            someone was in the hospital and he
            was seriously ill and the doctor
            said, I don't know if he's got a
            chance of survival or not, then
            that doesn't mean the patient's
            definitely going to die, now does
            it?  It means he might live.  Even
            if it's only a remote possibility.

                         LAURA
            I suppose so.

                         ROB
            So we have a chance of getting back
            together again.

                         LAURA
            Oh, Rob, shut up.

                         ROB
            Hey, I just want to know where I
            stand.  What chance --

                         LAURA
            -- I don't fucking know what chance
            you fucking have!

She abandons her attempt at packing.

                         ROB
            Well if you could tell me roughly
            it would help.

                         LAURA
            Okay, okay, we have a nine percent
            chance of getting back together.
            Does that clarify the situation?

                         ROB
            Yeah.  Great.
                         LAURA
                   (shaking her head)
            I'm too tired for this now.  I know
            I'm asking a lot, but will you take
            off for a while so I can get my
            stuff packed up?  I need to be able
            to think while I do it and I can't
            think while you're here.

                         ROB
            No problem.  If I can ask one
            question.

                         LAURA
            Fine.  One.

                         ROB
            It sounds stupid.

                         LAURA
            Nevermind.

                         ROB
            You won't like it.

                         LAURA
            Just ask it!

                         ROB
            Is it better?

                         LAURA
            Is what better?  Better than what?

                         ROB
            Well.  Sex, I guess.  Is sex with
            him better?

                         LAURA
            Jesus Christ, Rob.  Is that really
            what's bothering you?

                         ROB
            Of course it is.

                         LAURA
            You really think it would make a
            difference either way?

                         ROB
            I don't know.

                         LAURA
            Well the answer is that I don't
            know either.  We haven't done it yet.

                         ROB
            Never?

                         LAURA
            I haven't felt like it.

                         ROB
            But not even before, when he was
            living upstairs?

                         LAURA
            No.  I was living with you, remember?
            We've slept together but we haven't
            made love.  Not yet.  But I'll tell
            you one thing.  The sleeping
            together is better.

                         ROB
                   (trying not to smile)
            The sleeping together is better but
            not the sex because you haven't
            done it was him yet.

                         LAURA
            Will you please just go?

INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY - NIGHT

Rob shuts the door behind him and does a crazy
Charleston/Cabbage-Patch/Boxstep/Touchdown dance of pure
elation, then bounces down the stairs.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob bounces along, a smile wider than we have seen yet.
Maybe even jumping to touch an awning.  He lands and tells
us:

                         ROB
            I feel good!  I feel great!  I feel
            like a new man.  I feel so much
            better, in fact --

INT. WEEDS BAR - NIGHT

Rob moves through the room, still grinning a bit like a
proud new father, toward the table where Barry, Dick, Marie
and T-Bone sit, listening to a story T-Bone is telling.
Marie turns to him.

                         ROB
            Hi, Marie.

                         MARIE
            Everything go alright?

Rob glances at Barry, who averts his gaze.

                         ROB
            She just wanted to pick up some
            stuff.  No big thing.  A relief,
            actually.

                         MARIE
            God, I hate that time.  That pick
            up stuff time.  I just went through
            that before I came here.  You know
            that song "Patsy Cline Times Two" I
            play?  That's about me and my ex
            dividing up our record collections.

                         ROB
            It's a great song.

                         MARIE
            Thank you.

Rob glances at T-Bone, his mind calculating the new info.

                         ROB
            Is that why you came to Chicago in
            the first place?  Because of, you
            know, dividing up your record
            collection and stuff?

                         MARIE
            Yup.

Marie slides closer, turning her back on the others.  The
loop is closed.

                         ROB
            You share a place with T-Bone?

                         MARIE
            No way!  I'd cramp his style.  And
            I wouldn't want to listen to all
            that stuff happening on the other
            side of the bedroom wall.  I'm way
            to unattached for that.

                         ROB
            I understand completely.

SERIES OF CUTS - ELAPSED TIME

Rob and Marie lean in to each other, everyone else out of
focus.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Awhile back, Dick and Barry and I
            agreed that what really matters is
            what you like, not what you are
            like...

ROB AND MARIE - LATER

                         MARIE
            Yeah, but if you heard this band
            called the Crumblers, you'd --

                         ROB
            What do you mean, the Crumblers?
            You know the Crumblers?  Nobody's
            heard the Crumblers.  Except me.

                         MARIE
            Yeah, I know the Crumblers!  I
            bought a used Blasters album in New
            York about ten years ago and
            somebody left a Crumblers single in
            it.  My everything changed for a
            couple of weeks.

Rob glows --

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Books, records, films -- these
            things matter.  Call me shallow but
            it's the damn truth, and by this
            measure I was having one of the
            best dates of my life.

ROB AND MARIE

                         ROB
            Yeah, but you know what's his best
            film and nobody's even seen it?

                         MARIE
            The Conformist.

                         ROB
            Exactly!  Fucking ex-actly!

                         MARIE
                   (laughs)
            You haven't even seen it!

                         ROB
            Nor have you!

They just laugh and laugh --

                         ROB (V.O.)
            References, titles, lyrics, flew
            and met each other in mid-air
            embraces.  The evening goes with
            breathtaking precision.

INT. MARIE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob and Marie are kissing standing up.

                         MARIE
            Are you okay?

                         ROB
                   (nodding)
            Yes.  You?

                         MARIE
            For now.  But I wouldn't be if I
            thought this was the end of the
            evening.

                         ROB
            I'm sure it isn't.

                         MARIE
            Good.  In that case, I'll fix us
            something else to drink.  You
            sticking to the whiskey or you want
            coffee?

                         ROB
            Whiskey.

Marie goes into the kitchen, and they keep talking around
the corner.

MARIE

Tops off two whiskeys and starts into the other room where
she sees Rob, standing and holding his jacket.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            I'd better go.  I gotta get up
            early.  Go over to my parents'.

                         MARIE
            When I said before that I hoped it
            wasn't the end of the evening, I
            was, you know... talking about
            breakfast and stuff.

She plants the whiskeys firmly on the coffee table.

                         MARIE (CONT'D)
            I'd like it if you could stay the
            night.

                         ROB
                   (as if it is dawning
                   on him)
            Oh, right.  Alright.

                         MARIE
            Jesus, so much for delicacy.  I
            pegged you for a master of
            understatement, beating around the
            bush and all that buzz.

                         ROB
            I use it but I don't understand it
            when other people use it.

                         MARIE
            So you'll stay?

                         ROB
            Yeah.

                         MARIE
            Good.

Marie picks up the drinks again and exits to the bedroom.
Rob just stands there... and the LIGHTING CHANGES.

                         ROB
                   (to camera)
            Over nine million men in this
            country have slept with ten or more
            women.  And do they all look like
            Richard Gere?  Are they all as rich
            as Bill Gates?  Charming as Oscar
            Wilde?  Hell no.  Nothing to do
            with any of that.  Maybe fifty or
            so have one or more of these
            attributes, but that still
            leaves...well, about nine million,
            give or take fifty.  And they're
            just men.  Regular guys.
            We're just guys, because I, even I,
            am a member of this exclusive, nine
            million member club.  In fact,
            Marie is my seventeenth lover. "How
            does he do it?" you ask. "He wears
            bad sweaters, he's grumpy, he's
            broke, he hangs out with the
            Musical Moron Twins, and he gets to
            go to bed with a recording artist
            who looks like Susan Dey-slash-Meg
            Ryan.  What's going on?  Listen up,
            because I think I can explain, with
            all modesty aside: I ask questions.
            That's it.  That's my secret.  It
            works precisely because that isn't
            how you're supposed to do it, if
            you listen to the collective male
            wisdom.  There are still enough
            old-style, big-mouthed, egomaniacs
            running around to make someone like
            me appear to be refreshingly
            different.  If you can't hack this
            simple strategy, there are some
            women out there, of course, who
            want to get pushed around, ignored
            and mowed over, but do you really
            want to be with them anyway?

... he goes through a door into the bedroom.  Marie is
taking off her earrings.

                         ROB
            Would you like me to turn the
            lights out?  Or would you like them
            on?

                         MARIE
            God, you ask a lot of questions.

INT. MARIE'S BEDROOM - MORNING

Rob stares at the ceiling as Marie sleeps on next to him.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            But in the morning we were just two
            people, slightly hung-over, who
            were not in love, sharing the same
            space.  And I feel...

Rob looks to the camera.

                         ROB
            Sex is about the only grown-up
            thing that I know how to do; It's
            weird, then, that it's the only
            thing that can make me feel like a
            ten-year-old.

                                            CUT BACK TO:

EXT. MARIE'S APARTMENT - MORNING

The two of them come out of the building and into the street.

                         ROB
            Which way are you going?

                         MARIE
                   (points left)
            That way.  You?

                         ROB
                   (points right)
            That way.

                         MARIE
            And so it is.  I'll talk to you
            later.

                         ROB
            I'll call you.

                         MARIE
                   (smiles)
            Right.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Empty.  Dick prices records out on the floor.  Rob leans
against the register.  Barry sits on a stool next to him.
They're top-fiving it.  Rob's heart isn't in it.

                         ROB
            Okay.  Top five side one track ones.
            Number one... "Janie Jones," the
            Clash, from The Clash.

                         BARRY
            Ehh.

                         ROB
            "Thunder Road," Bruce Springsteen,
            from Born to Run. "Smells Like Teen
            Spirit," Nirvana, Nevermind.

                         BARRY
            Oh no, Rob, that's not obvious
            enough.  Not at all.  Dick, did you
            hear that?

                         ROB
            Shut up. "Let's Get It On," Marvin
            Gaye, from Let's Get It On.
            "Airbag," Radiohead, from OK
            Computer.

                         BARRY
                   (sarcastic)
            Ooh!  A kind of recent record!
            Rob's sly declaration of new
            classic-status slipped into a list
            of old classics!  Nice! "Let's Get
            It On?" Couldn't you make it more
            obvious than that?

                         DICK
            Rob.  Phone.
                   (whispers)
            It's Laura.

Rob springs to his feet, takes the phone and walks to the
end of the cord.  Deep breath.

                         ROB
            Hi.

LAURA - INTERCUT

                         LAURA
            Hi.  I've been looking for an
            envelope of my receipts from last
            month and I'm thinking I didn't
            take them with me.  Have you seen
            them around?

                         ROB
            I'll look for 'em.  How you doing?

                         LAURA
            I'm sorry to call, but I need that
            stuff...

                         ROB
            Fine, I'm sure it's in the file at
            home.  I'll call you when I find
            it, and then we'll talk.

                         LAURA
            We'll talk some other time.
                         ROB
            Great... That's great.

Rob comes back to the counter and hangs up the phone.

                         BARRY
            Rob!  What about the Beatles?  What
            about the fucking Rolling Stones?
            What about fucking... fucking...
            Beethoven?  Track one side one of
            the Fifth Symphony?  You shouldn't
            be allowed to run a record shop.
            You shouldn't be allowed to --

SFX: BARRY'S VOICE FADES OUT.  Rob's mouth slacks and he
stares off.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            There's something different about
            the sound of her voice... And what
            did she mean last night, she hasn't
            slept with him yet.  Yet.  What
            does "yet" mean, anyway? "I haven't
            seen... Evil Dead II yet." What
            does that mean?  It means you're
            going to go, doesn't it?

SFX: BACK TO THE ROOM.

                         BARRY
            -- You're like a little squirrel of
            music, storing away dead little
            nuts of old garbage music, musical
            lint, old shit, shit, shit --

                         ROB
            -- Barry, if I were to say to you I
            haven't seen Evil Dead II yet, what
            would that mean?

Barry just looks at Rob.  He pulls out a Game Boy and begins
playing.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Just... come on, what would it mean
            to you?  That sentence? "I haven't
            seen Evil Dead II yet?"

                         BARRY
            To me, it would mean that you're a
            liar.  You saw it twice.  Once with
            Laura -- oops -- once with me and
            Dick.  We had that conversation
            about the possibilities of the guy
            making ammo off-screen in the
            Fourteenth Century.

                         ROB
            Yeah, yeah, I know.  But say I
            hadn't seen it and I said to you,
            "I haven't seen Evil Dead II yet,"
            what would you think?

Barry shuts off the Game Boy.

                         BARRY
            I'd think you were a cinematic
            idiot.  And I'd feel sorry for you.

                         ROB
            No, but would you think, from that
            one sentence.  That I was going to
            see it?

                         BARRY
            I'm sorry, Rob, but I'm struggling
            here.  I don't understand any part
            of this conversation.  You're
            asking me what I would think if you
            told me that you hadn't seen a film
            that you've seen.  What am I
            supposed to say?

                         ROB
            Just listen to me.  If I said to
            you --

                         BARRY
            "-- I haven't seen Evil Dead II
            yet," yeah, yeah, I hear you --

                         ROB
            Would you... would you get the
            impression that I wanted to see it?

                         BARRY
            Well... you couldn't have been
            desperate to see it, otherwise
            you'd have already gone...

Rob brightens.  Barry finally considers.

                         BARRY
            ...But the word "yet..." Yeah, you
            know what, I'd get the impression
            that you wanted to see it.
            Otherwise you'd say you didn't
            really want to.

                         ROB
            But in your opinion, would I
            definitely go?

                         BARRY
            How the fuck am I supposed to know
            that?  You might get sick of people
            telling you you've really gotta go
            see the movie.

Rob darkens.

                         ROB
            Why would they care?

                         BARRY
            Because it's a brilliant film.
            It's funny, violent, and the
            soundtrack kicks fucking ass.

They look at each other for a strange moment.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            I never thought I would say this,
            but can I go work now?

                         ROB
            Let's pack it up.  We haven't had a
            customer in four hours.

Barry stands.

                         BARRY
            Fine by me.  I still want pay to 7
            o'clock.

                         ROB
            Ha.

                         DICK
            I can't go to the club tonight, guys.

                         BARRY
            Why?

Dick smiles sheepishly.

                         BARRY
            Who are you going to see?

                         DICK
            Nobody.

Barry's eyes widen.

                         BARRY
            Rob, looky looky.  Dick!  Are you
            getting some?!

Silence.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            Un-fucking-believable.  Dick's out
            on a hot date, Rob's boning Marie
            LaSalle, and the best-looking and
            most intelligent of all of us isn't
            getting anything at all.

                         ROB
            How do you know about that?

                         BARRY
            Oh come on, Rob.  What am I, an
            idiot?  I'm more bothered by Dick's
            thing.  How did this happen, Dick?
            What rational explanation can there
            possibly be?  What's her name?

Barry is going a little hard.  Dick shrinks back.

                         DICK
            Anna.

                         BARRY
            Anna who?  Anna Green Gables?  Anna
            Conda?

                         DICK
            Anna Moss.

                         BARRY
            Anna Moss.  Mossy.  The Mossy Thing.
            The Swamp Thing.  Is she all green
            and furry?

                         ROB
            Shut the fuck up, Barry.

                         BARRY
            Yeah, you would say that, wouldn't
            you?  You two have to stick together
            now.  Boners United.  United in
            getting some.

Barry picks up his bag and heads for the door.

                         ROB
            Don't be sad, Barry.  You'll find
            true love someday.

                         BARRY
            Suck my ass.

                         ROB
            Terrific.

Rob looks to Dick, who looks guilty.

                         ROB
            Don't worry about it, Dick.  Barry's
            an asshole.

                         DICK
            Yeah... Well... I'll see you
            tomorrow, Rob.

Dick exits.  Rob watches the door close behind him, and
looks out over the empty store.  He TALKS TO CAMERA as he
goes to the light switches and begins shutting them off, one
by one...

                         ROB
            Why does it bother Barry that much
            that Dick is seeing someone?  He's
            worried about how his life is
            turning out, and he's lonely, and
            lonely people are the bitterest of
            them all.

...until all the lights are out.  Rob's silhouette slips out
the door.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

A downpour is on.  Rob has himself wedged into a phone
booth, the little kind.

                         ROB
                   (into phone)
            Hi.  It's me... I'm right outside...
            I know... I know... I figured I
            could just walk you to the train
            and you could go... home.  Or
            whatever it is... No!  Of course
            not -- okay.  I'll be right here.

EXT. OFFICE BUILDING

Rob stands under the overhang, watching Laura walk the long
hallway from the elevators to the door.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Laura looks different.  Less
            stress-out, more in control.
            Something has happened, maybe
            something real, or maybe something
            in her head.  Whatever it is, you
            can see that she thinks she's
            started out on some new stage in
            her life.  She hasn't.  I'm not
            going to let her.

She emerges from doors, says something to him and they start
walking, sharing her umbrella.

INT. OLDE TOWNE ALE HOUSE - NIGHT

Rob and Laura have just sat down in a booth.

                         LAURA
            So, how are you?

                         ROB
            Have you slept with him yet?

                         LAURA
            I told you I slept with him.

                         ROB
            No, not -- I mean have you, you
            know --

                         LAURA
            Is that why you wanted to see me?

                         ROB
            I guess.

                         LAURA
            Oh, Rob.  What do you want me to say?

                         ROB
            I want you to say that you haven't,
            and I want it to be the truth.

She looks past him.

                         LAURA
            I can't do that.

She starts to say something else but Rob is up and out.
EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob pushes through the rush hour raincoats, seeming to be
the only one going his way.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob is soaking, slumped in his chair, his headphones on and
the stereo lit up behind him.  He talks a little loud, due
to the headphones.

                         ROB
            Tonight we're gonna figure out the
            five best angry songs about women.
            Let's go...

He holds up a stack of records and CDs.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            You kind of have to start with
            Elvis Costello, but where? "Motel
            Matches?" "I Want You?" "I Hope
            You're Happy Now?" "Green Shirt?"
            His records should be sealed in
            cases that say "in case of vicious
            betrayal, smash glass." "Where Did
            You Sleep Last Night," sure, but by
            Robert Johnson or by Nirvana?
            Maybe a Liz Phair track.  There are
            a couple to get angry at instead of
            being angry with.  Some devil's
            advocate stuff.  The Silver Jews
            could be good when you're ready to
            start putting it all behind you...
            But I think we're getting ahead of
            ourselves there.  Ah.  Dylan.  Bob
            fucking Dylan.  Now Bob Dylan
            would --

The phone rings.  He pulls off his headphones and picks it
up but says nothing.

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            You must have known it would happen.
            You couldn't have been entirely
            unprepared.  Like you said, I've
            been living with the guy.  We were
            bound to get around to it sometime.

She laughs a bit nervously.

                         LAURA (O.S.)(CONT'D)
                   (machine)
            And anyway, I keep trying to tell
            you, that's not really the point,
            is it?  The point is we got
            ourselves into an awful mess, Rob...
            Are you there?  What are you
            thinking?

                         ROB
                   (barely a whisper)
            Nothing.

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            We can meet for another drink if
            you want.  So I can explain it
            better.  I owe you that much.

                         ROB
            Look, I gotta go.  I work too, you
            know.

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            Will you call me?

                         ROB
            I don't have your number.

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            Call me at work.  We can arrange to
            meet properly.  I don't want this
            to be the last conversation we have.
            I know what you're like.

                         ROB
            You do, huh.

He hangs up and stares at the wall for awhile.  He gets a
beer from the fridge and sits back down.  He picks up the
phone and dials.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Yes, a residence, a Mr. Ian Raymond,
            North Side... thank you.

He writes down a number and hangs up, then looks to camera.

                         ROB
            You know the worst thing about
            being rejected?  The complete lack
            of control due to loss of control.

He picks up the phone and dials, while continuing to talk to
us --

                         ROB
            If I could only control the when
            and how of being dumped by somebody
            then it wouldn't seem as bad.  But
            then, of course --

He hangs up quickly --

                         ROB
            -- it wouldn't be rejection, would
            it?  It would be mutual consent.
            It would be musical differences.  I
            would be pursuing a solo career.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. IAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob is tucked into a phone booth across the street.  He can
see the silhouettes of Laura and Ian in the window.  He
picks up the phone, drops a quarter, and hits the numbers
hard as he dials... a muffled male "hello?" is heard and Rob
hangs up.  He does it again.  And again.  And again.  Until --

INT. IAN'S APARTMENT - INTERCUT

Still an unpacked box or two, but it's set up: a framed
"Woodstock - The Movie" poster, stacks of new fiction, a
bread maker -- you get the idea.  Ian is shorter than Laura,
scruffier than Rob, and looks not unlike Leo Sayer/Steve
Guttenberg.  He stares at Laura with amused exasperation.
She picks up the phone --

                         LAURA
            Hello.

                         ROB
            It's me.

                         LAURA
            I figured it was.
                   (re: traffic noise)
            Where are you?

                         ROB
            I think the big question here is
            where are you, if you don't mind my
            saying so, and I think I know where
            you are.  You're running.  On the run.
            You're running from a point that
            everyone hits in any relationship,
            and you're just going to hit it
            again with Ian but it's going to be
            with a World Music bunny-rabbit-
            looking earth-shoe-wearing "Doctor-
            Who"-watching twit who doesn't
            really understand you, not the way
            that I do and will more in the
            future, and you'll have just wasted
            more time and arrive in the exact
            same place that you're in now, only
            later.  And with... him.

                         LAURA
            I'm not -- hold on...

She walks into another room, shutting the door behind her.
On a bookshelf is a picture of a younger Ian in a tunic,
emoting on some college stage.  She turns it face down.

                         LAURA
            I'm not in love with Ian, okay?

She wanders over to the window, looking out absently.  She
sees Rob down there at the phone booth.

                         ROB
            Are you still in love with me?

                         LAURA
            Jesus.  I do not know.  I'll talk
            to you later.

                         ROB
            Think about what I said.  I mean,
            if you want to experiment, or
            whatever --

                         LAURA
                   (indignant)
            I'm not experimenting.  Why don't
            you go experiment.

                         ROB
            I don't want to.  Don't need to.  I
            love you.

                         LAURA
            You don't ever think about other
            people?

                         ROB
            No... not really... I mean, I think
            about it... but no, I don't really
            think about it.

                         IAN (O.S.)
                   (through the door)
            Laura?  Are you okay?

                         LAURA
                   (covering the
                   mouthpiece, to Ian)
            I am fine...
                   (to Rob)
            I gotta go.  Goodbye.

She clicks the phone off.  The door cracks and Ian sticks
his head in.

                         IAN
            Are you sure you're okay?

She moves past him back into the apartment.

                         LAURA
            Yeah, I'm fine.  I'm off the phone.

                         IAN
            You look upset.

                         LAURA
            I'm upset, but I'm fine.

                         IAN
            Maybe I should talk to him.

                         LAURA
            Mmmm, no.  Not a good idea.

                         IAN
            Conflict resolution is my job, Laura.

                         LAURA
            Nothing to resolve, Ian.  Let's get
            a drink.

She grabs her coat and opens the door.  The phone begins to
ring.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
                   (waving toward the door)
            C'mon, c'mon.

EXT. IAN'S APARTMENT

Rob stands on the sidewalk in the rain, Ian's building
behind him and down a few doors.

                         ROB
            I wish I could be one of those guys
            who doesn't call, the kind of guy
            that gets broken up with and
            appears not to give a shit.  He
            doesn't make an ass out of himself,
            or frighten anybody, and this week
            I've done both of those things.
            One day Laura's sorry and guilty,
            and the next she's scared and
            angry, and I'm entirely responsible
            for the transformation, and it
            doesn't do my case any good at all.
            I'd stop if I could but I --

His head turns at the sharp SOUND of a door opening -- Ian
and Laura are coming out of the building.  He jumps behind a
tree, peering around it as they fade down the street.

INT. GREEN MILL - NIGHT

Rob sits alone, nursing a scotch.  Rob looks up into the
mirror behind the bar and sees an older woman, MRS. ASHWORTH,
sitting alone a few stools down.

                         ROB
            Do I know you?

                         ALISON'S MOM
            I don't know.

Rob remembers, and his gaze has a new found seriousness.

                         ROB
            You're Mrs. Ashworth.  I'm Rob.  An
            old boyfriend of you're daughter's.

Alison's Mom's brow furrows and her face darkens.

                         ROB
            Alison's.

                         ALISON'S MOM
            Really.

                         ROB
            Long time ago.  I was just thinking
            about her.  I was her first
            boyfriend.
                         ALISON'S MOM
            What did you say your name was?

                         ROB
            Rob.  Rob Gordon.  Circa junior
            high...

                         ALISON'S MOM
            I hate to quibble with you Rob, but
            she married her first boyfriend.
            Kevin Bannister.

                         ROB
            You gotta be kidding me.

                         ALISON'S MOM
            That's right.  Kevin.  She's Kevin
            Bannister.  She lives in Australia.

She doesn't seem to happy that Alison lives in Australia.
Rob is thrilled.

                         ROB
            Really?  Married Kevin?  Her junior
            high sweetheart... What chance
            would I have had against that?
            None, no chance.  That's just fate.

                         ALISON'S MOM
            I beg your pardon?

                         ROB
            Technically, I'm number one.  I
            went out with her a week before
            Kevin did.  Her first boyfriend.  Me.

She stands.

                         ALISON'S MOM
            Well Rob, I'll tell her you said
            hello.  If she remembers you.

Alison's Mom strolls out.

                         ROB
                   (calling after her)
            I think she will.  But it's okay if
            she doesn't.  I'm fine now.

Rob turns to the bartender, smiling giddily.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Rob walks through Uptown toward the train.

                         ROB
            And suddenly I am fine.  For the
            moment there is not one extra pound
            on my chest.  This is fate.  Alison
            married Kevin.  You get it?  That's
            fate.  That's got nothing to do
            with me, that is beyond my control,
            beyond my fault...

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob into camera, digging through a box, fishing through
pictures and letters, concert tickets and other mementos.
He begins to assemble a small pile of pictures of women.

                         ROB
            I want to see the others on the Big
            Top Five.  Penny, who wouldn't let
            me touch her and then went and had
            sex with that bastard Chris Thompson.
            Sarah, my partner in rejection who
            rejected me, and Charlie, who I
            have to thank for everything: my
            great job, my sexual self-
            confidence, the works.  There's
            this Springsteen song, "Bobby
            Jean," off Born in the USA.  About
            a girl who's left town years before
            and he's pissed off because he
            didn't know about it, and he wanted
            to say goodbye, tell her that he
            missed her, and wish her good luck.
            Well, I'd like my life to be like a
            Springsteen song.  Just once.  I
            know I'm not born to run, and it's
            clear that Halsted Street is
            nothing like Thunder Road, but
            feelings can't be that different,
            can they?  I'd like to call up all
            those people and ask them how they
            are and whether they've forgiven
            me, and tell them that I have
            forgiven them.  And say good luck,
            goodbye.  No hard feelings.  And
            then they'd feel good and I'd feel
            good.  We'd all feel good.  I'd
            feel clean, and calm, and ready to
            start again.  That'd be good.
            Great even.

                                            CUT BACK TO:

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob holds an old crumpled address book in one hand and the
phone in the other.

                         ROB
            Penny Hardwick?  This is Rob
            Gordon... From High school... Yeah.

EXT. MOVIE THEATER - NIGHT

Rob and Penny walk out of the theater mid-conversation.
They look happy as they walk down the street.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            Penny is as beautiful as she was in
            high school when I broke it off
            with her because she wouldn't sleep
            with me.  In fact she's even more
            beautiful, and really grown into
            herself.

INT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT

A mid-scale trattoria.  Rob and Penny sit at table laughing
and talking.  If we didn't know better we might think there
is chemistry.

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            She tells me about her life, and I
            get it.  And I tell about mine, and
            she's interested.

CLOSE-UP -- ROB TALKING

                         ROB (V.O.)(CONT'D)
            And then, with no real explanation,
            I just launch into it: I tell her
            about Laura and Ian, and Charlie
            and Marco, and about Alison Ashworth
            and Kevin Bannister...

                         ROB
            ...and you wanted to sleep with
            Chris Thompson instead of me, and...
            and I thought you could help me
            understand why it keeps happening,
            why I'm doomed to be left, doomed
            to be rejected and...

He slows to a stop.  We see Penny as she goes from happy to
livid.

                         PENNY
            Rob.  I was crazy about you.  I
            wanted to sleep with you, one day,
            but not when I was sixteen.  When
            you broke up with me -- when you
            broke up with me -- because I was,
            to use your charming expression,
            tight, I cried and cried and I
            hated you.  And then that little
            shitbag asked me out, and I was too
            tired to fight him off, and it
            wasn't rape because I said okay,
            but it wasn't far off.  And I
            didn't have sex with anyone else
            until after college because I hated
            it so much.  And now you want to
            have a chat about rejection?  Well,
            fuck you, Rob.

Penny stands and leaves.  Rob just sits.

                         ROB
                   (cheerful)
            So that's another one I don't have
            to worry about.  I should have done
            this years ago.

Rob indicates to an off-screen waiter.

                         ROB
            Check...

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            Sarah's easy to find.  She still
            sends me Christmas cards with her
            address and phone number on them.
            They never say anything else,
            except for "Merry Christmas, Love
            Sarah." I send her equally blank
            ones back.

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWAY - NIGHT - ROB'S POV

of a door opening, revealing Sarah, a few years older but
still pretty in her mousey way.  She looks at Rob with a bit
too much in her eyes.

INT. CARMEN'S PIZZA - NIGHT

Rob and Sarah face each other over a half-eaten pizza.

                         SARAH
            I can't believe I left you for
            him... Crazy.

Sarah looks down at her plate, shaking her head, blushing.
Rob looks uncomfortable.  This is more than he was looking
for.

                         ROB
            Well... probably seemed like a good
            idea at the time.

She looks up again...

                         SARAH
            Probably.  I can't remember why,
            though.

...and back down again.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            I haven't got the heart for the
            rejection conversation.  There are
            no hard feelings here, and I am
            glad that she ditched me, and not
            the other way around.

INT./EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWAY - NIGHT

Sarah, in the doorway, smiles painfully.  It's clear she
doesn't want to shut the door, but she does.  Rob turns and
walks down the hall toward the door to the street as he
talks TO CAMERA.

                         ROB
            I could've ended up having sex back
            there.  And what better way to
            exorcize rejection demons than to
            screw the person who rejected you,
            right?  But you wouldn't be sleeping
            with a person.  You'd be sleeping
            with a whole sad single-person
            culture.  It'd be like sleeping
            with Talia Shire in "Rocky" if you
            weren't Rocky.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

CLOSE-UP: PHONE BOOK

as Rob's finger moves down the column, then stops.

Rob looks up with a little shock, almost recoiling from the
phone book.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            Charlie's in the fucking phone book.
            She has come to assume such an
            importance, I feel she should be
            living on Mars.  She's an
            extraterrestrial, a ghost, a myth,
            not a person with an answering
            machine, in the phone book... I
            call and hang up on her voice mail
            a couple of times, then I leave my
            name and number and throw in a
            "long time-no-see..." I don't hear
            anything back from her for a few
            days.  Now that's more like it, if
            you're talking about rejection:
            someone who won't even return your
            phone messages a decade after she
            rejected you.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob hears the door open as he stocks shelves, and turns.
It's Ian.  Rob reacts, gunfighter eyes.

                         ROB
            Can I help you?

                         IAN
            Hello, Rob.  Remember me?  I'm Ray.
            Ian.

Rob says nothing.

                         IAN
            I thought maybe we should talk.
            Sort a few things out?

Rob is disoriented on the way to angry.  Dick and Barry's
ears perk up.

                         ROB
            What needs sorting out?

                         IAN
            Come on, Rob.  My relationship with
            Laura has obviously disturbed you a
            great deal.

                         ROB
            Funnily enough I haven't been too
            thrilled about it.

                         IAN
            We are not talking jokey
            understatement here, Rob.  We're
            talking actionable harassment.  Ten
            phone calls a night, hanging around
            outside my house...

                         ROB
            Yeah, well, I've stopped all that
            now.

                         IAN
            We've noticed and we're glad.  But,
            you know... how are we going to
            make peace here?  We want to make
            things easier for you.  What can we
            do?  Obviously I know how special
            Laura is, and I know things can't
            be good for you at the moment.  I'd
            hate it if I lost her.  But I'd
            like to think that if she decided
            she didn't want to see me anymore,
            I'd respect that decision.  Do you
            see what I'm saying?

                         ROB
            Yeah.

                         IAN
            Good.  So shall we leave it at that
            then?

                         ROB
            I dunno.

                         IAN
            Think about it, Rob.

CUT TO FANTASY #1:

Rob looking sure of himself, righteous.

                         IAN (CONT'D)
            Good.  So shall we leave it at that
            then?

                         ROB
            I've already left it, you pathetic
            rebound fuck!  Now get your
            patchouli stink out of my store.

Ian leaves, rattled.

CUT TO FANTASY #2

Same thing.

                         IAN
            Good.  So shall we leave it at that
            then?

                         ROB
            We won't leave it, Ian.  Not ever.

Rob springs toward Ian, but Barry blocks his way.  Dick
helps hold Rob back.

                         DICK
            Don't do it, Rob!

                         BARRY
            He's not worth it!

Rob reaches a pointed finger over Barry's shoulder.

                         ROB
            Leave town.  Leave the country, you
            little bitch, because you're gonna
            look back on walks by the house and
            ten phone calls a night as a golden
            age.  Get ready, mutherfucker.

Ian trips backward and scurries out the door.

CUT TO FANTASY #3

Rob, Dick, and Barry just beating the living shit out of
Ian, Rodney King style.  Ian lies on the floor trying to
cover himself.  Dick, already out of breath, breaks from the
pack and jerks the air conditioner from the wall and hefts
it over his head, preparing for the death blow.

CUT BACK TO REALITY

                         IAN
            So shall we leave it at that then?

                         ROB
            I dunno.

                         IAN
            Think about it, Rob.

Ian walks out.  Rob looks spent.  He shuffles toward the
back of the store.

INT. RECORD STORE - BACK ROOM - DAY

Rob is laying on his back, staring at the ceiling.  Dick
sticks his head in the door.

                         DICK
            Phone, Rob.  Somebody named Charlie.

Rob pulls the phone into the bathroom and shuts the door.

BATHROOM

Rob curls up with the phone.

                         ROB
            Hello?

INT. CHARLIE'S HOUSE - INTERCUT

Charlie looks even better than when we saw her in college.

                         CHARLIE
            Rob, hi, so sorry I missed your
            call.  In LA on business.  You know
            how it gets.

                         ROB
            Yeah, sure...

                         CHARLIE
            Good.  Great.  Yeah... Wow.  Rob
            Gordon.  Seems like a 100 million
            years ago now.

                         ROB
            Yeah.  A billion.  Right... How are
            you?

                         CHARLIE
            Fantastic but I'm a little busy
            right now.  Listen.  Do you want to
            come to dinner Saturday?  I'm
            having some friends over and I need
            a spare man.  Are you a spare man?

                         ROB
            Uh...yes, at the moment.

                         CHARLIE
            Great.  Gotta go.  See you then.

INT. CHARLIE'S DINING ROOM - SERIES OF SHOTS OVER THE COURSE
OF DINNER

A sexy version of a hip wine commercial: a small mid-
thirties crowd of successful, beautiful people.  Rob sits at
the table silently as the other guests talk and eat.  Rob's
central activities are working his way through maybe a few
too many wines making sure his cigarette smoke doesn't get
in anyone's face.  His eyes occasionally dart around the
table, but he says nothing to anyone.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. CHARLIE'S LIVING ROOM - LATER

Rob is a little too settled into the couch, somewhat bleary.
Everyone gone but the two of them, Charlie plops down into a
chair across from Rob.

                         ROB
            Hey Charlie.

                         CHARLIE
            Hey Rob.

                         ROB
            Why did you break up with me for
            Marco?

                         CHARLIE
                   (on her feet)
            Fuck!  I knew it!  You're going
            through one of those what-does-it-
            all-mean things.

                         ROB
            Huh?

                         CHARLIE
            There's been a rash of them,
            recently.  I find it a little
            unnerving.  In fact Marco called a
            few months back, and he wanted to
            see me, and rehash the past as they
            say, and I wasn't really up for it.
            Do all men go through this?

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            C'mon, just answer the question.
            You can say what you like.  What
            the hell?

Charlie looks off at a corner of the ceiling, musters a look
of "contemplation."

                         CHARLIE
            It's all kind of lost in the... in
            the dense mists of time now... It
            wasn't that I really liked Marco
            more.  In fact I thought you were
            more, shall we say, attractive than
            him.  It was just that he knew he
            was good-looking and you didn't,
            and that made a difference somehow.
            You used to act as if I was weird
            for wanting to spend time with you,
            and that got kind of beat, if you
            know what I mean.  Your self-image
            started to rub off on me and I
            ended up thinking that I was
            strange.  And I knew that you were
            kind and thoughtful... you made me
            laugh, and I dug the way you got
            consumed by things you loved... and
            Marco seemed a bit more, I don't
            know, glamorous?  More sure of
            himself?
                   (pause)
            Less hard work, because I felt like
            I was dragging you around, sort of.
                   (pause)
            A little sunnier.  Sparkier.
                   (pause)
            I don't know.  You know what people
            are like at that age.  They make
            very superficial judgements.  Do
            you think that's superficial?  He
            was a clown, if it's any consolation.

                         ROB
            Did you tell that to Marco when he
            did his what-does-it-all-mean thing
            with you?

                         CHARLIE
            Oh God, no.  I didn't want to hurt
            his feelings.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            I wanted the works and I got it.
            None of Alison Ashworth's fate,
            none of Sarah's rewriting of
            history, and no reminder that I'd
            got all the rejection stuff a
            little backward, like I did about
            Penny.  Just a perfectly clear
            explanation of why some people have
            it and some don't.  All I've
            learned from Charlie is that maybe
            my one talent, my genius for being
            normal, is a little overrated.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob enters the already open store, in a bad mood, to find
Barry putting up a poster.  It reads:

      "BARRYTOWN/appearing Saturday night/Bucktown Pub"

                         BARRY
            Hey.

                         ROB
            What the fuck is that?

                         BARRY
            My band.

                         ROB
            What band?

                         BARRY
            The band that found me and asked me
            to join.

                         ROB
            You are not in a band, Barry.  You
            are not a musician.  And no posters.

                         BARRY
            Thanks for your support, Rob.
            Really appreciate it.

                         ROB
            Barrytown.  Barrytown?  Is there no
            end to your arrogance?

                         BARRY
            I didn't make up the name.  It's
            the Steely Dan song.  And it was in
            The Commitments.

                         ROB
            You can't be called Barry and sing
            in a group called Barrytown.

                         BARRY
            They were fucking called that
            before I was in it, okay?  It
            wasn't my idea.

                         ROB
            That's why you got the gig, isn't it?

Barry says nothing.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Isn't it?

                         BARRY
            That was one of the reasons they
            asked me to join originally, yes.
            But --

                         ROB
            Great!  That's fucking great!  They
            only asked you to sing because of
            your name!  You can stick it above
            the browser racks over there.

                         BARRY
            How many tickets can I put you down
            for?

                         ROB
            None.  Christ!

                         BARRY
            You're not even coming?

                         ROB
            Of course I'm not coming.  Do I
            look like I'd want to listen to
            some terrible experimental racket
            played in some hideous cave?  Where
            is it?
                   (looks at the poster)
            The fucking Bucktown Pub?  Ha!
                         BARRY
            So much for friends, then.  You're
            a bitter bastard, Rob, you know that?

                         ROB
            Bitter?  Because I'm not in
            Barrytown?  You should be shot like
            a lame horse, you jerk.
                   (re: the poster)
            Just keep that out of my window.

INT. ROB'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob opens the door to find Laura filling a duffel bag in the
living room.

                         LAURA
            I called and called but you were
            out.  I thought I'd be gone before
            you got back.

                         ROB
            Is that the last of it?

                         LAURA
            Yep.  I might have missed some
            stuff.  I'm so used to some things
            being here that I don't even notice
            them.

                         ROB
            Those look heavy.  Where's Ian?

                         LAURA
            He's at home.  Listen, I can't
            believe he went to the store.  I'm
            mortified, actually.  I'm really
            sorry.  He had no right to do that,
            and I told him so.

                         ROB
            It was kind of funny.

They smile.

                         LAURA
            I'm sure.

                         ROB
            You still together?  Going all right?

                         LAURA
            I don't really want to talk about
            it, to be honest.

                         ROB
            That bad, eh?

                         LAURA
            You know what I mean.

Rob flops onto the couch and surveys the room.

                         ROB
            It's a dump, isn't it?

Laura sits down, on the other side of the couch.

                         LAURA
            Fix it up.  It'll make you feel
            better.

                         ROB
            I'll bet you can't remember what
            you were doing here, can you?  I
            mean, how much are you making now?
            Sixty?  Seventy?  And you were
            living in this shitty place.

                         LAURA
            You know I didn't mind.  And it's
            not as if Ray's place is any better.

                         ROB
            I'm sorry, but can we get this
            straight?  What is his fucking
            name, Ian or Ray?  What do you call
            him?

                         LAURA
            Ray.  I hate Ian.

                         ROB
            I hate him too.  So I just call him
            "Mavis." Or "Sissyboy." Or "Mavis
            the Sissyboy."

Laura starts laughing, laying on the couch on her back, very
close to Rob.  Rob leans in, sort of looking down into her
eyes.

                         ROB
            This is where you're supposed to
            say that you haven't laughed this
            much in ages, and then you see the
            error of your ways.

                         LAURA
            You make me laugh much more than
            Ray does, if that's what you're
            getting at.  But I already knew you
            could make me laugh.  It's
            everything else I don't know about.

                         ROB
            You know I'm a good person.

                         LAURA
            Mmm hmm.

                         ROB
            You know that I can cook my ass off
            when I feel like it.

                         LAURA
            Oh ho, so very infrequently.

He moves a little closer.

                         ROB
            You know my favorite beverage is
            your bath water.

She laughs.  He moves in, not really trying to kiss her but
leaving the door open for her... She almost goes for it, but
instead gets to her feet.

                         LAURA
            Time to go.

She goes to her bags.  Rob points to a pile of CDs.

                         ROB
            Don't forget your CDs.

                         LAURA
            Those aren't mine.

                         ROB
            Sure they are.

                         LAURA
            They're not really, though, are
            they?  I know you bought them for
            me, and that was really sweet of
            you, but that was when you were
            trying to turn me into you.  I
            can't take them, I know they'd just
            sit around staring at me, and I'd
            feel embarrassed by them and...
            they don't fit in with the rest of
            what's mine, do you understand?
            That Sting record you bought for
            me... that was a present for me.  I
            like Sting and you hate him.  But
            the rest of this stuff...
                   (bending down to the pile)
            Who the hell is Nick Lowe?  Or Gram
            Parsons?  Or the Boredoms?  I don't
            know these people.  I...

                         ROB
            Okay, okay.  I get the picture.

                         LAURA
            I'm sorry to go on about it.  But,
            I don't know, there's a lesson here
            somewhere, and I want to make sure
            you get it.

                         ROB
            I got it.  You like Sting but you
            don't like Gram Parsons, because
            you've never heard of him.

                         LAURA
            You're being deliberately obtuse.

                         ROB
            I guess I am.

                         LAURA
            Well, think about it.

She hefts the duffel bag, opens the door and exits.

                         ROB
            Fuck.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to the camera.

                         ROB
            What's the point in thinking about
            it?  If I ever have another
            relationship, I'll buy her, whoever
            she is, stuff that she oughta like
            but doesn't know about -- that's
            what new boyfriends are for.
            And hopefully I won't borrow money
            from her, or have an affair, and
            she won't need to have an abortion
            or run away with the neighborhood,
            and then there won't be anything to
            think about.  Laura didn't run off
            with Ian because I bought her CDs
            she wasn't that keen on, and to
            pretend otherwise is just... just...
            psychowank.  If she thinks that,
            then she's missing the Brazilian
            rainforest for the twigs.  If I
            can't buy the Plastic People of the
            Universe's first album for new
            girlfriends, then I might as well
            give up, because I'm not sure I
            know how to do anything else.

                                            CUT TO:

EXT. STREET - MORNING

Rob walks toward the record store, and looks into a
Starbuck's window he passes.  He stops for a second, seeing
Ian at the counter, chatting merrily with the espresso
jockey.  Rob keeps walking.

INT. RECORD STORE - BACK ROOM - DAY

Rob tosses his coat down and picks up the phone and dials...

                         LAURA (O.S.)
                   (muffled, almost a whisper)
            Hello.

                         ROB
            Hey, how ya doin'?

No answer.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Guess who I just saw, right by my
            store?  Ian.  In Starbuck's.  Neat,
            huh?

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            I can't talk right now.

                         ROB
            God, that's a cold and a half.
            Maybe you should bet back in bed.

No response.
                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Are you alright?

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            Pigsty.

                         ROB
            Don't worry about it.  Just get
            into bed.  Worry about that when
            you're better.

                         LAURA (O.S.)
            Pig died.

                         ROB
            Who the fuck's Pig?

                         LAURA (O.S.)
                   (louder)
            My dad died.  My dad, my dad.

She hangs up.

FRONT ROOM

Rob comes out of the back, in a daze.  Dick and Barry notice.

                         BARRY
            What's up?

                         ROB
            Laura.  Her dad died.

                         BARRY
            Ooh.  Drag.

Barry goes back to his comic book and burrito.

                         DICK
            I'm sorry, Rob, that's, it's --

                         ROB
            You're a horrible person, Barry.  I
            mean it.

Barry looks up at him, shrugs, then gets an idea.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            Hey.  Top five songs about death.
            A Laura's Dad Tribute list.

Nobody can help thinking about it.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            Okay, okay -- "Leader of the Pack."
            The guy fucking cracks up on a
            cycle and dies right? "Dead Man's
            Curve," Jan and Dean...

                         DICK
            Did you know that after that song
            was recorded, Jan himself crashed
            his --

                         BARRY
            -- It was Dean, you fucking idiot.

                         ROB
            It was Jan, and it was a long time
            after--

                         BARRY
            Whatever.  Okay. "Tell Laura I Love
            Her." That'd bring the house down.
            Laura's mom could sing it.

                         ROB
            Fuck off, Barry.

                         BARRY
            I'd want "One Step Beyond" by
            Madness.  And "You Can't Always Get
            What You Want."

                         ROB
            Because it's in The Big Chill.

                         BARRY
            Haven't seen it.

                         ROB
            Liar.  We saw it in the Lawrence
            Kasdan double-bill with Body Heat.

                         BARRY
            Oh.  Right.  But I'd forgotten
            about that.  I wasn't biting the
            idea.

                         ROB
            Not really.

The phone RINGS.  Rob picks it up.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Record Exchange.

INTERCUT - IAN'S APARTMENT

Laura is curled up on the couch.  Dick and Barry keep listing.

                         LAURA
            I'm sorry.

                         ROB
            No, no.  When are you going home?

                         LAURA
            In a minute.  When I get it together.

                         BARRY
                   (to Dick)
            What about Sabbath?  Or Nirvana?
            They're into death.

Rob tries to signal to them to shut up but they don't see
him.  He moves as far away as the cord will let me.

                         ROB
            Can I do anything?

                         DICK
            "Abraham, Martin, and John." That's
            a nice one.

                         BARRY
            "Somebody's Gonna Die" by Blitz.
            "Bella Lugosi's Dead," Bauhaus.
            It's got that creepy Halloween
            feeling.

                         LAURA
            No.  No.  Mom wants you to come to
            the funeral.  It's on Friday.

                         ROB
            Me?

                         LAURA
            My dad liked you.  And Mom never
            told him we'd split, because he
            wasn't up to it and... oh, I don't
            know.  I don't really understand it.
            I think she thinks he'll be able to
            see what's going on.  It's like...
                   (small laugh)
            He's been through so much, what
            with dying and everything, that she
            doesn't want to upset him any more
            than she has to.

                         ROB
            Do you want me to be there?

                         LAURA
            I don't care.  As long as you don't
            expect me to hold your hand.

Rob is silent.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
            Look, are you coming or not?

                         ROB
            Yes, of course.

                         LAURA
            Liz'll give you a lift.  She knows
            where to go and everything... I
            don't have time to talk, Rob.  I've
            got too much to do.

                         ROB
            Sure.  I'll see you on Friday.

She hangs up.

                         BARRY
                   (to the tune of
                   "Candle In the Wind")
            "Goodbye Laura's dad/blah blah la
            di da di da/
                   (belting it out)
            Seems to me/you lived your life/like
            a dentist in the wind.../

Rob stomps toward Barry, who jumps over the counter to keep
singing --

INT. LIZ'S CAR - DAY

THUNDERCLAPS and RAIN.  Rob is in a somber suit, looking
through the windshield wipers as Liz drives.

                         ROB
            So the minister says nice things,
            and then, what, we all troop
            outside and they bury him?

                         LIZ
            It's a crematorium.

                         ROB
            You're kidding.  A crematorium?
            Jesus.

                         LIZ
            What difference does it make?

                         ROB
            Is Ray going?

                         LIZ
            No.  They don't know him.  And Ken
            liked you.  Rob, Ken didn't die for
            your benefit, you know.  It's like
            everybody's a supporting actor in
            the film of your life story.

                         ROB
            Isn't that how it is for everybody?

INT. CHAPEL TWO

Liz and Rob sit in the back of the dark, smallish
nondenominational room.  At the front is a coffin, resting
on a stand.  Laura, her younger sister JO, and her mother
sit in the front row, listening to the MINISTER.

                         MINISTER
            ...Now and forever, Amen.

He nods "offstage," and a muffled mechanical noise is heard.
The coffin begins to lower through a trap door beneath it.
A low, baleful human HOWL is heard, starting quietly but
gaining in volume.

                         ROB (V.O.)
            I hear something in Laura's voice,
            but I know what it is, and at that
            moment I want to go to her and
            offer to become a different person,
            to remove all trace of what is me,
            as long as she will let me look
            after her and try to make her feel
            better...

INT. CHAPEL PARLOR

Rob stays back, watching mourners approach Laura and her
mother, hugging them.  After awhile, Laura sees Rob through
the throng, hanging back.  She breaks through and to him,
holding him close for a long time...

                         ROB (V.O.)
            ...And when she let's go of me, I
            feel I don't need to become a
            different person.  It's happened
            already.

INT. LAURA'S PARENTS' HOUSE - AFTERNOON

A cozy old Victorian house, full of things -- furniture,
paintings, ornaments, plants -- which don't go together but
which have obviously been chosen with care and taste.  Rob
and Liz stand, drinking wine.  Jo approaches them.

                         LIZ
                   (to Jo)
            How are you?

                         JO
            I'm all right, I suppose.  And
            Mom's not too bad.  But Laura... I
            dunno.

                         LIZ
            She's had a pretty rough few weeks
            already, without this.  It's hard
            when you're putting all of your
            efforts into one part of your life
            and it doesn't work out.

She glances at Rob, embarrassed.

                         ROB
                   (sincere)
            Don't mind me.  No problem.  Just
            pretend you're talking about
            somebody else.

Jo smiles, Liz gives him a look.

                         LIZ
            We are talking about somebody else.
            Laura.  Laura and Ray, actually.

Rob begins to turn red.  Anger, sorrow, everything else
building.

                         ROB
            Enough, Liz.

                         LIZ
            Enough of what?

                         ROB
                   (getting louder)
            I know I can't speak now because
            Laura's father died, and I just
            have to take it because otherwise
            I'm a bad guy, with the emphasis on
            guy, self-centered.  Well, I'm
            fucking not, not all the time,
            anyway, I'm really sorry Jo.
                   (lowering his voice)
            But you know, Liz... I can either
            stick up for myself or believe
            everything you say about me and end
            up hating myself.  And maybe you
            think I should, but it's not much
            of a life, you know?

                         LIZ
            Maybe I've been a little unfair.
            But is this really the time?

                         ROB
            Only because it's never the time.
            I can't go on apologizing my whole
            life, you know?

                         LIZ
            If by "we" you are referring to
            men, then I have to say that just
            the once would do.

Rob looks around the room, beginning to hyperventilate and
near tears.  He sees Laura in a corner of the room surrounded
by four or five mourners.  He crosses to them and breaks
through to her.

                         ROB
            I'm sorry.

He breaks away from her and slips out the front door.

EXT. SUBURBAN STREET - AFTERNOON

So darkened by weather that it is almost night, raining
torrents and big sheets.  Rob emerges from the front door of
Laura's parents' house and begins walking down the street,
hands thrust into his pockets.  The rain almost immediately
soaks him.

EXT. ANOTHER STREET

In the distance, Rob runs toward us.  As he gets to us we
move with him down the street.  He is drenched.  We hear the
rain, and his ragged breath.  Headlights appear behind him
and backlight him, getting brighter as the sound of an
engine gets louder.  Rob takes a look over his shoulder,
looks desperately left and right, and vaults himself over a
small brick wall and into a flower bed, landing on his back
in the black wet earth.

The big drops of rain splash mud on his face, and he burrows
deeper into the dirt and flowers with his back, panting and
staring up at the sky.  Off-camera the car engine catches
up, and a door opens and shuts.  He sighs and shuts his
eyes...

He opens his eyes again, to see Laura's face, wet as well,
staring down at him.  It is difficult to distinguish rain
from tears.

                         LAURA
            Are you going to lie in that flower
            bed all night?

                         ROB
            Uh... No.

But Rob keeps lying there.  Laura pulls herself to a sitting
position on the wall just above him.

                         LAURA
            You're soaking.

                         ROB
            Mmnn.

                         LAURA
            You're also an idiot.

Rob pulls his muddy self to his feet and sits on the wall
next to her.

                         ROB
            I can see why you say that.  Look,
            I'm sorry.  I really am.  The last
            thing I wanted was... that's why I
            left, because... I lost it, and I
            didn't want to blow my top in
            there, and... look, the reason I
            fucked everything up was because I
            was scared.  I just wanted you to
            know, that's all.

                         LAURA
            Thank you.  I appreciate it.  I
            can't reciprocate.

                         ROB
            What do you mean?
                         LAURA
            I didn't mess things up because I
            was scared.  I slept with Ray
            because I was sick of you.  And I
            needed something to snap me out of
            it.

                         ROB
            Sure, I understand.  Look, I don't
            want to take up any more of your
            time.  You get back, and I'll wait
            here for a bus.

                         LAURA
            I don't want to go back.

                         ROB
            What do you want to do?

                         LAURA
            C'mon.

They swing their legs over the wall and walk to Laura's VW.

INT. LAURA'S CAR - NIGHT

They drive sort of aimlessly through Laura's old neighborhood.
Laura sees something on her left, and makes a sudden turn up
a narrow road through some overgrown trees.  They come to a
stop in a formerly paved clearing, looking out on a field
with an old abandoned school on the other side.  Laura shuts
down the engine.

                         ROB
            When are you going back?

                         LAURA
            I don't know.  Sometime.  Later.
            Listen, Rob, would you have sex
            with me?

                         ROB
            What?

                         LAURA
            I want to feel something else than
            this.  It's either that or I go
            home and put my hand in the fire.
            Unless you want to stub cigarettes
            out on my arm.

                         ROB
            I've only got a couple left.  I'm
            saving them for later.

                         LAURA
            It'll have to be sex, then.

She pulls herself over him, staddling him in the passenger
seat and kissing his neck.  She pauses and regards him from
above.

                         LAURA
            Hello.  It doesn't seem so long ago
            that I looked at you from here.

                         ROB
            Hi.

                         LAURA
            I knew there was a reason I wore a
            skirt today.

Laura reaches down and unzips his pants, as they keep kissing.

                         ROB
            You know, with Ray...

                         LAURA
            Oh, Rob, we're not going to go
            through that again.

                         ROB
            No, no.  It's not... are you still
            on the pill?

                         LAURA
            Yes, of course.  There's nothing to
            worry about.

                         ROB
            I didn't mean that.  I mean... was
            that all you used?

Laura looks at him, motionless, then begins to cry.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Look, we can do other things.

                         LAURA
            I lived with you.  You were my
            partner just a few weeks ago and
            now you're worried I might kill
            you, and you're entitled to worry.
            Isn't that a terrible thing?  Isn't
            that sad?

She rolls off of him into her seat.  They sit there in
silence, watching the rain run down the windshield.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            Later, I wonder if I was really
            worried about where Ian has been.
            I have no idea where he's been, and
            that gives me every right to insist
            on protection.  But in truth, it
            was the power that interested me
            more than the fear.  I wanted to
            hurt her, on this day of all days,
            just because it's the first time
            since she's left that I've been
            able to.

INT. BAR - LATER

Rob and Laura lean back in a booth, facing each other.  We
get that feeling that not another word has been spoken since
we last saw them.

                         ROB
            Laura...

                         LAURA
            I'm too tired not to go out with you.

Rob leans forward.

                         ROB
            So if you had a bit more energy
            we'd stay split.  But things being
            how they are, what with you wiped
            out, you'd like us to get back
            together.

                         LAURA
                   (nodding)
            Everything's too hard.  Maybe
            another time I would have the guts
            to be on my own, but not now I don't.

                         ROB
            What about Ian?

                         LAURA
            Ray's a disaster.  I don't know
            what that was all about, except
            that sometimes you need someone to
            lob into the middle of a bad
            relationship like a hand grenade, I
            guess, and blow it all apart.

                         ROB
            Mission accomplished.

                         LAURA
            I know it's not very romantic, but
            there will be romance again at some
            stage, I'm sure.  I just... I need
            you, Rob.  That's it.  And we know
            each other and we care for each
            other, and you've made it clear
            that you want me back, so...

She looks up at him.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
            Let's go home.  Okay?

                         ROB
            Okay.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            But wouldn't you know it?  Suddenly
            I feel panicky, and sick, and I
            want to run around and sleep with
            female recording artists...

                                            CUT TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - MORNING

Post-lovemaking.  Rob and Laura lie on their backs.

                         ROB
            C'mon.  I want to know.

                         LAURA
            Want to know what, exactly?

                         ROB
            What it was like.

                         LAURA
            It was like sex.  What else could
            it be like?

                         ROB
            Was it like good sex or was it like
            bad sex?

                         LAURA
            What's the difference?

                         ROB
            You know the difference.

                         LAURA
            Look, we're okay now.  We just had
            a nice time.  Let's leave it at that.

                         ROB
            Okay, that's cool, okay.  But the
            nice time we just had... was it
            nicer, as nice, or less nice than
            the nice times you were having a
            couple of weeks ago?

Laura is silent.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Oh, c'mon, Laura.  Just say
            something.  Lie, if you want.  It'd
            stop me asking you questions and
            it'd make me feel better.

                         LAURA
            Well I was gonna lie and now I
            can't, because you'd know I was
            lying.

                         ROB
            Well why the fuck would you want to
            lie, anyway?

                         LAURA
            To make you feel better.

                         ROB
            Oh, great...

Rob begins to get out of bed.  She grabs his hand and pulls
him back down.

                         LAURA
            Look, Rob.  If great sex was an
            important as you think it is, and
            if I was having great sex with him,
            then we wouldn't be lying here now.
            And that is my last word on the
            subject, okay?

                         ROB
            Okay.

She pulls him close and they lie there, the matter seemingly
settled.

                         LAURA
            I wish your penis was as big as
            his, though.

He turns slowly to her.  A giggle from her turns into a
laugh, then a howl, a roar --

EXT. LAKEFRONT - TWILIGHT

Rob and Laura walk the cement breakfront.

                         LAURA
            ... Like Mexico.  Or Jamaica.  Or
            New York, even.

                         ROB
            Hey, great idea.  What I'll do is,
            tomorrow I'll get a hold of a box
            full of mint Elvis Presley 78s on
            the Sub label, and I'll pay for it
            that way.

                         LAURA
            I'll pay for you.  Even though you
            owe me money.  We have to do
            something with the money I earn.  I
            need to.  I deserve it.  You can
            just think of it as winning the
            lottery.

                         ROB
            Fantastic.  The Girlfriend Lottery.

                         LAURA
            Money does not matter.  I do not
            care how much you earn.  I'd just
            like you to be a little happier in
            your work, but beyond that you can
            do what you like.
                         ROB
            But it wasn't supposed to be like
            this.  When I met you we were the
            same people and now we're not, and...

                         LAURA
            How?  How were we the same people?

                         ROB
            Well, you were the kind of person
            who came to the Artful Dodger and I
            was the kind of person who deejayed
            at the Artful Dodger.  You wore
            jeans and T-shirts, and so did I.
            And I still do, and you don't.

                         LAURA
            Because I'm not allowed to.  I
            still do, after work.  So, what?
            Should we just break up?  Is that
            what you're saying?  Because if you
            are, I'm going to run out of
            patience.

                         ROB
            No, but...

                         LAURA
            But what?

                         ROB
            But why doesn't it matter that
            we're not the same people we used
            to be?

                         LAURA
            You haven't changed so much as a
            pair of socks in the years I've
            known you.  If we've grown apart,
            then I'm the one who's done the
            growing, and all I've done is
            change jobs.

                         ROB
            And hairstyles and clothes and
            attitude and friends and...

                         LAURA
            I can't go to work with my hair
            dyed pink.  And I can afford to go
            shopping more now, and I've met a
            couple people I like over the last
            year or so.

                         ROB
            You're tougher.

                         LAURA
            More confident, maybe.

                         ROB
            Harder.

                         LAURA
            Less neurotic.  Are you intending
            to stay the same for the rest of
            your life?

                         ROB
            I'm alright.

                         LAURA
            Yeah, you're alright.  But you're
            certainly not happy.  So what
            happens if you get happy?  And yes
            I know that's the title of an Elvis
            Costello album, I use the reference
            deliberately to catch your attention.
            Should we split up because I'm used
            to you being miserable?  What
            happens if you, I don't know, start
            you're own record label, and it's a
            success?  Time for a new girlfriend?

                         ROB
            You're being stupid.

                         LAURA
            How?  What would be the difference
            between you having a record label
            and me going from legal aid to
            private practice?

Rob is silent.

                         LAURA
            All I'm saying is, you have to
            allow for things to happen to
            people, most of all to yourself.
            Otherwise, what's the use?

                         ROB
            No use.

INT./EXT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob comes out of the stock room and walks toward the counter
where Dick and Barry stare at the tape deck like two
concerned doctors, listening to a song that is raw and moody
and lyrical -- Minor Threat meets Brian Eno, if that's
possible.  Rob joins them in contemplation.

                         ROB
            What is this.

                         DICK
            It's Vince and Justin.

                         ROB
            Who's that?

                         BARRY
            The little skate-fuckers.

                         ROB
            No way.

                         BARRY
            Yes way.  It's really...

Rob and Dick look at him, ready to pounce --

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
                   (pained to say it)
            It's really fucking good.

Dick and Barry look to Rob, who continues to just listen...
He takes a deep breath and walks to the front door and out,
seemingly with a mission.

Vince and Justin are doing noisy skate tricks against the
curb across the street.  When they see Rob they stop, get
ready to flee.  He walks across to them.  Dick comes out and
hovers in the background.

                         ROB
            Your tape.  It's good.

They mumble thanks.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            It's rough.  But it shows promise.
            We record a couple of songs right,
            in a studio.  I'll take care of the
            rest.  I'll put out your record.
            Any profits after recouping expenses
            get split down the middle, between
            us and you guys.

                         VINCE
            Wait a minute.  Island Records
            charged U2 a million five against
            their overhead for one plane ride.

                         ROB
            We're not there yet, Justin.

                         VINCE
            I'm Vince.

                         ROB
            Whatever.

He begins to move toward the store.  Vince and Justin look
at each other.  Rob gets to the door but stops and turns.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
            Hey.  What's the name of your band?

                         JUSTIN
            The Kinky Wizards.

                         ROB
            What?

                         VINCE
            We saw this ad in the personals for
            two swingers lookin' for a
            Renaissance fair.

                         ROB
            Nice.

                         VINCE
            What's the name of your label?

Rob looks at them.  Then at Dick.  Then through the window
at Barry, inside looking out.  Then at his own reflection in
the window.  Then back at them.

                         ROB
            Broken Records.  Welcome aboard.

Rob walks back inside.  He seems to be shaking a little.

                         BARRY
            What the fuck is that?

                         ROB
            What?

                         BARRY
            I heard you, man.  Don't give me
            that "what" shit.  You just told
            them that you're gonna put out a
            record with them.

                         ROB
            So?  You even said they're good.

                         BARRY
            HELLO.  DO YOU SEE ANYONE ELSE
            around here with a band, Mr.
            Branson?  Mr. Phil Spector?

Rob waves him off and disappears into the stock room.  Laura
enters.

                         LAURA
            Hey, Barry.

                         BARRY
            Oh, hi.

                         LAURA
            Where's Rob?

                         BARRY
            The Malcolm McClaren of Clark
            Street is in his executive suite.
            Do you have an appointment?

                         LAURA
            What are you talking about?

                         BARRY
            Just that Rob seems to think it
            would be wiser to start a record
            label by putting out a record with
            business-crippling Nazi Youth
            shoplifters than with someone he
            knows in his bitter jealous heart
            is a musical visionary.  That's all.

Laura puts it together, and smiles.  She goes to the back
and crack the door, finding Rob sitting on a box, thinking.

                         ROB
            Hi.

                         LAURA
            Hi.  What are you doing?

                         ROB
            Nothing.

                         LAURA
            Wanna go to dinner?

                         ROB
            Where?

                         LAURA
            At Paul and Miranda's.  Paul from
            work.

                         ROB
            Oh.  Well.  We don't really get
            along.  Paul and I.

                         LAURA
            I know.  But you've never met.  It
            just seems like a stone unturned in
            your relationship with him.

                         ROB
            Ha.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            We're at a point where I can't
            really walk away from gauntlets she
            might throw down, and so I go.  And
            wouldn't you know it, I sort of
            fall in love with Paul and
            Miranda -- with what they have, and
            the way they treat each other, and
            the way they make me feel as if I'm
            the new center of their world.  I
            think they're great, and I want to
            see them twice a week, every week,
            for the rest of my life.  Only
            right at the end of the evening do
            I realize I've been set up.

INT. PAUL AND MIRANDA'S LIVING ROOM - LATER

After dinner.  Rob ambles in from the dining room.  Laura
close behind.  He looks through the bookshelves until he
finds a meager little grouping of CDs.  He moves up to them
and scans the titles: Tina Turner.  Billy Joel.  Kate Bush.
Pink Floyd.  Simply Red.  The Beatles.  The Windham Hill
Sampler...

                         PAUL
            Lame, right?

Rob turns around to see PAUL behind him.

                         ROB
            Oh, I don't know.  The Beatles are
            okay.

Paul laughs.

                         PAUL
            We're kinda out of date.

                         ROB
            Hey, to each his own, I say.

                         PAUL
            Maybe we can come by your store and
            you can hook us up.

                         ROB
            Sure, sure.  Any time.

                         LAURA
            Better hurry, though, Paul.  Rob
            started a record label, so he's
            gonna be in the shop less and less.

Rob looks at her.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

as they come in the door.

                         LAURA
            ..."To each his own!" Unbelievable!
            You!  Rob Gordon said that.  You
            even sounded like you meant it.

They throw their jackets over a chair.  Rob turns on the CD
player and "Call Me A Liar" by Palace begins to play.

                         ROB
                   (smiling)
            You did that deliberately.  You
            knew all along I'd like them.  It
            was a trick.

                         LAURA
            I tricked you into meeting some
            people you'd think were great.  I
            thought it would be fun to introduce
            you to someone with a Tina Turner
            album and then see whether you
            still felt the same way.

She moves to Rob and wraps her arms around him.  They look
deeply at each other.  She breaks away from him and walks
into the bedroom.  He turns off the stereo and follows her.

EXT. CLARK STREET - MORNING

Rob walks to work, drinking his coffee.  He stops and backs
up a few feet, and stares at a poster on a plywood board-up.

"'I SOLD MY MOM'S WHEELCHAIR'/the debut single from The
Kinky Wizards/on Broken Records/Record release party July 20
at The Artful Dodger/Featuring the triumphant return of DJ
ROB GORDON/"Dance Music For Old People"

Rob scowls, and storms off.

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Rob paces, Laura sits on the couch, smiling.

                         LAURA
            I called Dan Koretzky because he --

                         ROB
            Has Drag City Records, I know, I
            know.  You told Dan Koretzky about
            this?

                         LAURA
            Yeah, and he said it's a good way
            to break out a record.  Especially
            for what he said, and I quote,
            "would be a highly anticipated
            event, locally." He helped me put
            out a press release.

                         ROB
            WHAT?

                         LAURA
            Just local, of course.

                         ROB
            And the "triumphant return of DJ
            Rob Gordon?" "Triumphant?" "Return?"
                         LAURA
            I had that idea when I was living
            with Ian and it was such a good
            idea that I was annoyed we weren't
            together anymore.  It might even be
            why I came back.

                         ROB
            You had no right.  Supposing I was
            doing something that couldn't be
            cancelled?

                         LAURA
            What do you ever do that can't be
            cancelled?

                         ROB
            That's not the point.  I mean, what
            if the single isn't done in time?

                         LAURA
            Barry said its done.

                         ROB
            Barry?  Barry knows about this?

                         LAURA
            Yeah.  His band is playing a set.

Rob wheels on her.

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob and Barry.

                         ROB
            Like fuck you are.

                         BARRY
            Laura said we could.  If we helped
            out with the posters and stuff.
            And we did.  And we are.

                         ROB
            I'll give you 10% of the door if
            you don't play.

                         BARRY
            We're getting that anyway.

                         ROB
            What is she doing?  Okay, 20%.

                         BARRY
            No.  We need the gig.

                         ROB
            110%.  That's my final offer.  I'm
            not kidding.  That's how much it
            means to me not to hear you play.

                         BARRY
            We're not as bad as you think, Rob.

                         ROB
            You couldn't be.  Look, Barry.
            There's going to be people from
            Laura's work there, people who own
            dogs and babies and Tina Turner
            albums.  How are you going to cope
            with them?

                         BARRY
            We're not called Barrytown anymore,
            by the by.  They got sick of the
            Barry/Barrytown thing.  We're
            called SDM.  Sonic Death Monkey.

                         ROB
            Sonic Death Monkey.

                         BARRY
            What do you think?  Dick likes it.

                         ROB
            Barry, you're over thirty years old.
            You owe it to yourself and your
            friends and to your parents not to
            sing in a group called Sonic Death
            Monkey.

                         BARRY
            I owe it to myself to go right to
            the edge, Rob, and this group does
            exactly that.  Over the edge, in
            fact.

                         ROB
            You'll be going over the fucking
            edge if you come anywhere near me
            next Friday night.

                         BARRY
            That's what we want.  Reaction.
            And if Laura's bourgeois lawyer
            friends can't take it, then fuck
            'em.  Let 'em riot, we can handle
            it.  We'll be ready.

Barry wanders off laughing.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - DAY

Rob and Laura.

                         LAURA
            They'll go on early.  Nobody will
            even be there yet and I told them
            they can't play for more than a
            half hour.

                         ROB
            It's no joke.  I'm responsible for
            what happens, you know.
            Embarrassment aside, there's a lot
            of money and effort in this, at
            least by my standards.  I have to
            put down a deposit for the room.  I
            have to pay the pressing plant for
            the records, sleeve them, sticker
            them --

                         LAURA
            We took care of that.

Rob's brow furrows.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
            Barry and Dick and me.  Look in the
            bedroom.

Rob goes to the bedroom door and opens it.  It's sort of
like Christmas: hundreds of Kinky Wizards CD singles,
painstakingly packaged and stacked on the bed.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            I suddenly feel choked up.  It's
            not the money, it's the way she's
            thought of everything: one morning
            I woke up to find her going through
            my records, pulling out things that
            she remembered me playing when I
            deejayed and putting them into the
            little carrying cases that I used
            to use and put away in a closet
            somewhere years ago.
            She knew I needed a kick in the ass.
            She also knew how happy I was when
            I used to deejay.  From which every
            angle I examine it, it still looks
            as though she's done all of this
            because she loves me.

                                            CUT BACK TO:

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT

Rob turns from the bedroom and goes to Laura, putting his
arms around her.

                         ROB
            I'm sorry I've been acting like a
            jerk.  I do appreciate what you've
            done for me, and I know you've done
            it for the best possible reasons,
            and I do love you, even though I
            act like I don't.

                         LAURA
            That's okay.  You seem pissed off
            all the time, though.

                         ROB
            I know.  I don't get it.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            But if I had to take a wild guess,
            I'd say that I'm pissed because I
            know I'm stuck with Laura, bound to
            her, and I don't like it.  That
            dreamy anticipation you have when
            you're fifteen or twenty or thirty
            even, that the most perfect person
            in the world might walk into your
            store or office or friend's party
            at any moment... That's all gone, I
            think, and that's enough to piss
            anybody off.  Laura is who I am
            now, and it's no good pretending
            otherwise...

                                            CUT TO:

INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob is standing shelves.  A very pretty young woman,
CAROLINE, comes through the door and looks around.  She sees
Rob.

                         CAROLINE
            Excuse me?

Rob looks up and takes her in like a dish in a window.

                         ROB
            May I help you?

                         CAROLINE
            I'm looking for Deejay Rob Gordon.

                         ROB
            Uh.  That's me.

                         CAROLINE
            I'm Caroline Fortis from The Reader.
            I want to do a story on you.

                         ROB
            Right.  Why?

                         CAROLINE
            Well, I used to go to the Dodger on
            your nights, and I saw you're doing
            it again and that your putting out
            a record, and it's sort of a then-
            and-now story against the backdrop
            of the Chicago music scene with the
            emphasis on now.

                         ROB
            Oh.  Okay.

                         CAROLINE
            I thought I would ask you a few
            questions if that's okay.

                         ROB
            Huh.  You used to come to the club?
            I shouldn't have let you in.  You
            must have only been about sixteen.

Rob realizes what he must be sounding like.  He blushes and
retreats.

                         ROB
            What I mean is, I didn't mean you
            look young.  You don't.  You don't
            look old either.  You look just as
            old as you are.  A bit younger
            maybe, but not a lot.  Not much.
            Just right.

                         CAROLINE
            So.  Is now a good time?

Rob looks around: there is absolutely nothing going on in
the store.  He nods.  She pulls out a pad and pencil.

                         CAROLINE
            Right.  So.  You must have an
            enormous record collection.

                         ROB
            Yeah.  I could show it to you if
            you want to come over and see it.

He winces immediately.

                         CAROLINE
            Yeah, well... Let's see... What are
            you're all-time top five records?

                         ROB
            Pardon me?

                         CAROLINE
            Your desert island top-five.

                         ROB
            Oh boy... In the club, or at home?

                         CAROLINE
            Is there a difference?

                         ROB
                   (a little too shrill)
            OF COURSE... Well yeah, a bit. "Sin
            City" by the Flying Burrito Brothers
            is an all-time top five, but I
            wouldn't play it at the club.  It's
            a country-rock ballad.  Everybody'd
            go home.

                         CAROLINE
            Nevermind.  Any five.  So four more.

                         ROB
            What do you mean, four more?

                         CAROLINE
            Well if one of them is this "Sin
            City" thing --

                         ROB
            Can I go home and work this out and
            let you know?  In a week or so?

                         CAROLINE
            Look if you can't think of anything,
            it doesn't matter.  I'll do one.
            My five favorite from the old days
            at the Dodger.

Rob is aghast, humiliated, quietly outraged.

                         ROB
            Oh, I'm sure I can manage
            something... "Sin City." "New
            Rose," by The Damned. "Hit It and
            Quit It" by Funkadelic.
            "Shipbuilding," Elvis Costello,
            Japanese import, no horns, or
            different horns, anyway... um...
            "Mystery Train" by Elvis Presley...
            And... "Spaced Cowboy" by Sly and
            the Family Stone.  A bit
            controversial, I know, but...

                         CAROLINE
            Fine.  That's great.

                         ROB
            Is that it?

                         CAROLINE
            Well, I wouldn't mind a quick chat,
            if you got the time.

                         ROB
            Sure, but is that it for the list?

                         CAROLINE
            That's five.  So.  Why did you
            decide to deejay again?

                         ROB
            Well it was a friend's idea,
            really, and the record release
            party seemed like a good place to
            do it.  So...
                   (looking over her pad
                   at the list)
            I should really put a James Brown
            in there --

                         CAROLINE
            Nice friend.

                         ROB
            Yeah.

                         CAROLINE
            What's his name?

                         ROB
            Who?  Oh.  My friend.  My friend is
            Laura.  A girl.  A friend who's a
            girl.

                         CAROLINE
            "Music for Old People." What does
            that mean?

                         ROB
            Look, I'm sorry about this, but I'd
            like "the Upsetter" by Lee "Scratch"
            Perry, in there.  Instead of "Sin
            City."

She scribbles and writes.

                         CAROLINE
            Okay. "Dance Music For Old People?"

                         ROB
            Oh, you know... a lot of people
            aren't too old for clubs but
            they're too old for acid jazz and
            garage and ambient and all that.
            They want to hear old funk and Stax
            and New Wave and Old School Hip Hop
            and some new stuff all together and
            there's nowhere for them.

                         CAROLINE
            And the new label?  And the Kinky
            Wizards?

                         ROB
            Oh, well, the Kinky Wizards are --
            you know what?  Why don't I just
            make you a tape?

                         CAROLINE
            Would you?  Really?  Wow.  I could
            have deejay Rob Gordon play in my
            own home.

                         ROB
            Haha.  Right.  It's no problem.  I
            love making tapes.

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            A good compilation tape, like
            breaking up, is hard to do and
            takes ages longer than it might
            seem.  You gotta kick off with a
            killer, to hold the attention.
            Then you have to take it up a
            notch, but not blow your wad, so
            maybe cool it off a notch, and you
            can't put the same artist twice on
            the tape, except if some subtle
            point or lesson or theme involved,
            and even then not the two of them
            in a row, and you can't woo somebody
            with Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow
            Taxi" and then bash their head off
            with something like GBH's "City
            Baby Attacked by Rats," and... oh,
            there are a lot of rules.  Anyway,
            I worked hard at this one.

INT. ROB AND LAURA'S APARTMENT - DAY

Rob sits Indian-style on the floor in front of the stereo.
He has a pad of paper with scrawled titles and cross-outs,
and is surrounded by piles of CDs and records.

                         LAURA
            Who's that for?

Rob winces, turns.  He's busted.

                         ROB
            This?  Oh, just that woman who
            interviewed me for The Reader.
            Carol?  Caroline?  Something like
            that.

Laura turns and walks out of the room.
INT. RECORD STORE - DAY

Rob is tucked into the corner, on the phone.

                         ROB
            Hi, Caroline... Oh, it's Rob.
            Yeah, listen, I have a new list for
            you and -- Oh.  Yes.  Of course...
            Well maybe next week they could
            print a, uh, retraction.  Or a
            correction.  Because the list I
            have now it really much more --
            right.  Okay.  Anyway, I have your
            tape.  That's right.  Shall I mail
            it to you?  Or... would you like to
            have a drink?

                                            CUT TO:

ROB IN HIS CHAIR

Rob to camera.

                         ROB
            How are you not going to fall for
            someone who wants to interview you?
            Now Caroline is all I can think
            about.  And in the daydreams I
            imagine every detail, the entire
            story of our future relationship,
            until suddenly I realize that
            there's nothing left to actually,
            like, happen.  I've done it all,
            lived through it all in my head.  I
            know the whole plot, the ending,
            and the good parts.  Now I'd have
            to watch it all over again in real
            time, and where's the fun in that?
            And fucking--when is it all going
            to stop?  Am I going to jump from
            rock to rock for the rest of my
            life until there aren't any rocks
            left?  Am I going to bolt every
            time I get itchy feet?  Because I
            get them about once a quarter,
            along with the store's tax bill.
            I've been thinking with my guts
            since I was fourteen years old and,
            frankly speaking, I've come to the
            conclusion that my guts have shit
            for brains.
            You know what's wrong with Laura,
            what my problem is?  What's wrong
            with Laura is that I'll never see
            her for the first or second or
            third time.  That's all.  Fuck it.
            I'll probably mail the tape.
            Probably.

                                            CUT TO:

INT. NORTH SIDE TAVERN - DAY

Rob sits at a table in the bar, nervous.  He watches the
door, sits up straight when it opens, and follows someone
with his eyes, all the way to his table.  She sits.  It's
Laura.

                         LAURA
            A drinking lunch on a school day.
            What a nice surprise.

Rob says nothing.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
            Are you worried about tomorrow night?

                         ROB
            Not really.

He plays with his drink.

                         LAURA
            Are you going to talk to me, or
            shall I get my paper out?

                         ROB
            I'm going to talk to you.

                         LAURA
            Right.

He plays with his drink some more.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
            What are you going to talk to me
            about?

                         ROB
            I'm going to talk to you about
            whether you want to get married or
            not.  To me.

                         LAURA
            Ha ha ha.  Hoo hoo hoo.

                         ROB
            I mean it.

                         LAURA
            I know.

                         ROB
            Oh, well thanks a fucking bunch.

                         LAURA
            I'm sorry.  But two days ago you
            were in love with that girl who
            interviewed you for The Reader,
            weren't you?

                         ROB
            Not in love, exactly, but...

                         LAURA
            Well forgive me if I don't think of
            you as the world's safest bet.

                         ROB
            Would you marry me if I was?

                         LAURA
            No.  Probably not.

                         ROB
            Right.  Okay, then.  Shall we go?

                         LAURA
            Don't sulk.  What brought all this
            on?

                         ROB
            I don't know.

                         LAURA
            Very persuasive.

                         ROB
            Are you persuadable?

                         LAURA
            No.  I don't think so.  I'm just
            curious about how one goes from
            making tapes for one person to
            marriage proposals to another in
            two days.  Fair enough?

                         ROB
            Fair enough.

                         LAURA
            So?

                         ROB
            I'm just sick of thinking about it
            all the time.

                         LAURA
            About what?

                         ROB
            This stuff.  Love and marriage.  I
            want to think about something else.

                         LAURA
            I've changed my mind.  That's the
            most romantic thing I've ever heard.
            I do.  I will.

                         ROB
            Shut up.  I'm only trying to explain.

                         LAURA
            I mean, maybe you're right.  But
            were you really expecting me to say
            yes?

                         ROB
            I dunno.  Didn't think about it,
            really.  It was the asking that was
            the important thing.

                         LAURA
            Well, you've asked.

She leans over and takes his hands in hers, smiles at him.

                         LAURA (CONT'D)
            Thank you.

INT. ARTFUL DODGER - NIGHT

TWO TURNTABLES

with the mixer in the middle. "Just Begun" by Jimmy Castor
spins on turntable #1.  A hand reaches in, and begins to
draw the slides down, quieting the music.

Rob looks up from behind the deejay table, set up amongst
the instruments.  The place is packed with people, and
everyone seems to be having a great time.
Almost everyone -- Rob sees Barry, who pretends to nod off
when Rob catches his eye, and Justin, who looks back at him
and mocks a bulimic act.  Rob gives him the finger.  He sees
Laura, and she beams at him.  He comes to the front of the
stage, and taps a microphone.

                         ROB
            Uh, thanks for uh, coming out
            tonight.  I hope you have a good
            time.  And I hope you like the
            record.  The one by the Kinky
            Wizards.  The record that we're
            having this record release party
            for.
                   (hoots from the crowd)
            Thanks.  Listen to it first, though.
                   (laughs)
            Okay.  We'll get to that later.
            Right now, I'd like to introduce...
                   (mumbles)
            Sonic Death Monkey.

Good-natured applause.  Rob steps down and bee-lines to
Laura.  Barry and his crew mount the stage.  Rob takes a big
gulp of beer.

                         ROB (CONT'D)
                   (to Laura)
            I'm an idiot.  I should have played
            the record first.  This place is
            about to get burned down.

                         LAURA
            It's gonna be fine.  These people
            are ready for anything.

                         BARRY
                   (dubious)
            Yeah, well...

Barry stands in front of the mic, surveying the crowd with a
smile.  He and the band all wear suits and ties.

                         BARRY (CONT'D)
            Thanks for the enthusiastic intro,
            Rob.  We're not called Sonic Death
            Monkey anymore, though, ladies and
            gentlemen.  We might be on the
            verge of becoming the Atavistics,
            but we haven't decided yet.  But
            tonight, we are... BARRY JIVE AND
            THE UPTOWN FIVE!  ONE TWO THREE --

And they launch into Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up,"
almost flawlessly faithful to the original.  Barry is
transformed -- shuffling footwork, a wide smile, and when
the intro winds up, an almost perfect falsetto.  The crowd
goes nuts, filling the floor.  Rob is stunned, begins to
smile.  Laura takes his hand and leads him out into the
crowd...

                                            THE END.