PASTOR

Church, what’s done is done the old things pass away and all things become new.  No you can’t do what you did.  Don’t matter if it was good or bad.  A habit you want or don’t want to keep.  You can’t do what you did…  That hymn you just heard that hymn we just sung was about a reformation.  It’s about happiness in a change not in what you did or what you’re gonna do, but how you look to your faith as a foundation for it because church look for a moment.  Look at yourself yesterday and what you want for tomorrow.  When it’s just you all you have is your pride and your shame.  Pride in the things you want to keep on doing and shame in the things you don’t.  And can you see the paradox in that?  Because what do you want to keep on doing?  And are there things in it that you don’t?  You see people want to talk about habits like there are good ones and bad ones, but isn’t that in a frame of reference?  Look at the history of the church.  What’s good for you today may not be good for you tomorrow, and what’s bad for tomorrow might seem good for today…  Some of you might be married.  Some of you single.  Is what’s good in a marriage good for the single man or woman?  I see children and I see old people.  Is what’s good for the old good for the young?  Or is what’s bad for the old good for the young?  Time has its seasons and each day has its routines, but in our ways of doing things some changes are a matter of a direct choice and some just kind of happen.  We grow and we fall apart only to come together again—beautiful in how our hearts mend.  You see you can’t stand outside it.  You can’t stand outside yourself.  You can’t stand outside this church and know what’s good in it.  Just like those outside know what’s good outside right now and see what’s bad about being in here—because it’s a beautiful Sunday outside these walls right now.  But see God is inside and outside.  God is in here right now and in you.  And God is outside in what you draw into yourselves to be happy—God is in all of it—do you see that church?  In all we take a pride in and even in the things we’re ashamed of because you see God uses that too—to give us opportunities…  You can’t do what you did and always expect the same happiness, and what you will do and have done are not what’s gonna make you happy—it isn’t what’s made you happy and it ain’t gonna make you happy.  For the body they may kill, but God’s truth abideth still—can I get an Amen?

CHURCH

Amen!

INT. ALTON PSYCHIATRIC WARD—CHRISTMAS DAY 2007

You see Gabby’s son—the father of Marcus—James.  His hands aren’t frail like his son’s.  They’re workingman hands tough with calluses, and his eyes don’t look broken they just look sad.  He sits at a chair in the day room.  He’s brought a plastic bag—things for Marcus—some toiletries, a few candy bars, and a CD—a Miles Davis CD.  Marcus enters in his hospital gown and sits down across from his father.  There are other patients at the tables.  Some playing cards.  Some doing puzzles, and some watching TV—A Charlie Brown Christmas is on ABC.

JAMES

You’re momma couldn’t come, but I brought you some stuff…  Look here here’s some music—something to listen to while you write…  You know he came from here.  He was from Alton…

MARCUS

So what?

JAMES

Why don’t you come home?  It’s been two years and you’ve been in and out of this place—you need to forget about it—forget about the girl…  Come home, son.

MARCUS

(looking around)

Why?  I’ve made a lot of friends.

JAMES

You can’t be a man here…  Be a man!  Talk like a man.  Come home and complain about a job.  Bitch about your boss and the mechanic that screwed you on an auto repair.  A car with thirty-seven payments still left on it and a mortgage haunting you and your kids that need shoes and who each drink a quart of milk a day…  Bitch about a woman—a girl you’ve fucked over a thousand times so you can relax—even that girl…  It’s been two years, son…

MARCUS

I’m in the middle of something…  I’m writing a story—a story your mother told me—remember?  I was fifteen and you told me to go listen to her…  Well, I listened…

JAMES

All that happened over fifty years ago.  Those people are dead now.  You’re not!

MARCUS

It’s teaching me something…  It’s taught me something about life and death.

JAMES

You’re only nineteen years old!  What do you know about life and death?  Their blood is not on you.  It’s in you, but it’s not on your soul…

MARCUS

I’ve had time to read in here…  Maybe I’ve found religion.  Maybe I’ve found God…  This man—this man you tell me I should be—what is it?  I don’t own a tool and I probably never will…

JAMES

You’ve read too many books.  I always wanted you to get educated like I wasn’t, but books don’t tell you about life so you really hear it and understand and you put’em down because they don’t tell you nothin’ about what you already know except a yes I can relate—the good ones—and as for death, well, they can only lie about death…  You’re still a black man so be a strong proud black man, a boy from the streets of East St. Louis—that’s why it happened—what you don’t want to let go of.  What happened with her.  Don’t forget that.  Don’t forget what you came from…

MARCUS

That’s what she told me.  That’s what your mother told me—to not forget.  Not forget what I come from…

JAMES

Yeah but you’re not there.  That’s not where you’re at—you’re here and you need to be either all there or all here—do you understand what I’m sayin’?  Some men are only ten percent there or twenty percent and that’s what a woman notices that’s what my mother would tell ya and even your mother.  You need to either be all there or all here and here’s not where you need to be.   You need to be a man.  Be a man, son…

MARCUS

I have to finish it.

JAMES

Finish what?

MARCUS

It’s something I have to solve and when I solve it I’ll find peace…

JAMES

Jesus…  what are you gonna do?

EXT. HEMPHILL, TEXAS—TWILIGHT 1954

You see the tree house.  Not far from Bethany’s house—the one owned by Papa Frenchie—not far from her brother’s house, the man who built it, built the tree house, in fact most of their homes are close together connected by dirt roads along the Sabine River.  You see the girls at the bottom at the base of the tree looking up—Gabby and Dulcinea—and the boys, Aaron and Benjy, in the house looking down.  You see the boys poke each other in the ribs with the sticks they used to beat the girls out.  The rope ladder pulled up into the house so the girls can’t climb up again.  The girls gather dirt clods and throw them up at the house.  And then you see Benjy lean over the railing.  He clears his throat and then lets a wad of spit dangle from his lips.  By the force of gravity it slowly stretches, threatening to finally break off and fall on the girl’s heads.

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