Prelude: Operating Room
DOCTOR DIPAOLO and his staff are working on NATE.
Doctor: Fuck, we’re bleeding! Great, now I’ve got brain coming out of the wound. Raise his head and give him a hundred grams of Mannitol. Let’s put him in burst suppression. What’s his blood pressure?
Nurse: 117 over 72.
Doctor: Are we maintaining cerebral perfusion?
Nurse: Core body temperature is 34.5.
The picture makes a strange blip and skip, like a quick rewind.
Nurse: 117 over 72.
Doctor: Are we maintaining cerebral perfusion?
Nurse: Core body temperature is 34.5.
A quick flash to the footage from the pilot, of NATHANIEL, SR. spraying DAVID and NATE as children with the hose.
Nurse: We loaded him with Dilantin and Decadron.
Quick cut to footage of NATE running.
Doctor: Fuck! Fuck! Julie, I need two frasers and some aneurysm clips.
Another quick skip.
Doctor: Aneurysm clips. I’ve gotta stop all this bleeding.
Quick cut to NATE and BRENDA making out on the beach, from “In the Game.”
Doctor: Fuck! Julie…And I’ll need lots of gel foam and cottonoids…
Quick cut to NATE and CLAIRE getting high at Thanksgiving from “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of
the Year.” The dialogue continues to skip.
Doctor: We’ve gotta stop all this bleeding—
Nurse: Are we going to do a ventriculostomy?
Doctor: Absolutely. (skip) Gel foam and cottonoids.
Quick cut to NATE and DAVID walking in the Veterans’ Cemetary from “Brotherhood.”
Doctor: Let the C-T scanners know we’ll be coming in after surgery.
Quick cuts to RUTH leaning on NATE’s shoulder after confessing her affair from the pilot and then NATE holding MAYA for the first time, in “The Last Time.” The discordant background music gets more and more unsettling.
Doctor: If we make it that far.
Doctor: If we make it that far.
Doctor: If we make it that far.
The music reaches a fever pitch and then…
Quick, unsettling cut to a completely white background.
"NATHANIEL SAMUEL FISHER, JR.,
ACT I - Scene One: Fisher House
An exterior shot of the funeral home. The American flag outside is at half mast. Cut to RICO, sitting in the prep room, looking tired and sad. The clock ticks. Cut to CLAIRE, lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling, as if her entire world has just fallen apart. Cut to RUTH, standing in her undergarments, her hair down and unbrushed. She slowly irons a jacket, presumably for NATE’s funeral. She looks completely exhausted and beaten. Cut to DAVID, sitting at his desk in the office, sobbing, covering his head in his arms and crying.
Scene Two: Diner
NATE sits across from NATHANIEL, SR. in a booth in an empty but loud diner. NATHANIEL is scarfing down a plate of greens.
Nate: That shit smells awful.
Nathaniel, Sr.: It’s fenugreek.
Nate: Fenugreek? What the fuck is fenugreek?
Nathaniel, Sr.: Want to try some? It’s delicious.
Nate: No thanks.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Here, put a little maple syrup on it.
He pours a healthy dose of maple syrup all over the spinachy-looking greens.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Mmmm!
Nate: Would you hurry up? I don’t wanna be late for my funeral.
Nathaniel, Sr.: (checks his watch, taps it with his fork) Relax, you’ve got plenty of time. Hell, you’ve got nothing but time! Which doesn’t exist anyway, so…(laughs hysterically)
NATE gets up and leaves.
Nathaniel, Sr.: You don’t know what you’re missing!
Scene Three: Fisher House
NATE enters through the front door, wearing his running clothes. He walks up to the Slumber Room, where RICO stands in back. NATE sees the small sign that reads “Nathaniel S Fisher, Jr. 1965-2002”. He walks right up to RICO, and looks at him, curiously. No one can see or interact with NATE. NATE walks up the aisle, past the chairs full of mourners. In one row, LISA holds MAYA. In another, KEITH sits. In the row in front of him sit RUTH and CLAIRE, both staring downwards. NATE hears the baby stir, and looks at her. Then he sees his own corpse, laid out in the casket. The corpse is bald. DAVID walks up to the casket, his face stained with tears.
Nate: Goddamnit, David, I told you I wanted to be cremated.
DAVID continues to stare at the corpse.
From the office in the next room, NATE hears DAVID’s voice, even though he’s standing right beside him.
David: Come on, Nate, you can do this.
NATE turns and slowly approaches the office. The slumber room is now empty.
David: You can do this. Cat.
Nate’s Voice: Tac.
David: No, reverse it. (over-enunciates) Cat.
Nate’s Voice: Cac.
David: Almost. Cat. Cat.
NATE opens the door all the way to see himself, sitting across from DAVID. But this version of himself is practically a vegetable. His hair is gray, one of his eyes won’t open all the way, and he has lost almost all verbal skills. DAVID holds out a small card, with the word “CAT” and a picture of a cat written on it. The pictures are on both sides, one for DAVID to see, one for NATE. To distinguish, this NATE will be referred to as NateA
David: Let’s try another one. (takes out another card) Duck.
David: Close. (another card) Goat.
NateA: (struggles to get this out) Go—go—
DAVID makes a “tah” sound.
NateA tries but, agitated, can’t do it. NATE watches.
David: Let’s take a break.
NateA tries again to make the “Go” sound, when NATE hears a baby cooing from the second viewing room. He slowly leaves the office, and enters the room, where he sees himself, fine and healthy, lying on a blanket, spread out over the floor, with LISA and the baby lying beside him. This is NateB.
NateB: She’s definitely got your nose. And your eyes.
Lisa: Look at that face. Look at this little person we created.
MAYA makes a little jerk. NATE crouches down on his knees to watch, perplexed and fascinated.
Lisa: I love it when she does that. When she sort of jerks right before she falls off to sleep, and then wakes herself up.
NateB: You freaked out the first time she ever did it.
Lisa: I remember that feeling of falling, when I was little, like I was falling out of bed, and it always woke me up. Like I was scared of what I was going to fall into. But…that never happens to me anymore.
They look at each other and smile. NateB strokes her hair.
Lisa: God. We lose so much, ya know?
The front door opens, and we hear BRENDA’s voice.
Brenda: Oh, great!
NATE looks up, expectantly and turns around, going into the front hall. He sees NateC and BRENDA enter the front door. NateC is holding a baby bag, and BRENDA holds a baby boy.
Brenda: Oh, great, he’s got the hiccups again!
NateC: So shake him and scream in his face!
BRENDA looks shocked, mockingly.
NateC: What? The world is a hostile and terrifying place. He needs to learn that.
They smile, and start heading up the stairs.
Brenda: If your mother starts talking about what a gassy baby you were and him getting that from you again, I will scream.
NateC: I’ll start farting.
Watching BRENDA ascend the stairs, NATE smiles for the first time since he’s arrived in this strange place.
Brenda: Thank God we got high before we came!
A bell clock starts ringing. Now NATE is entering the dining room upstairs. It is Christmas Dinner, 2000, but in this reality, NATHANIEL, SR. never got hit by the bus. This is the Christmas Dinner that would have been. NateD has the facial hair he did in the first season. Everyone is there except for CLAIRE. NATHANIEL, SR. carves the pot roast.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Call me crazy, buddy boy, but I don’t think it makes a damned bit of difference who won. They’re all crooks anyway.
NateD: (angry) How can you not care? I mean, what about that bullshit acceptance speech he gave a couple of weeks ago—
NateD: --when he said, “I was not elected to serve one party but one nation,” yeah, the operative words there being “NOT elected”!
Nathaniel, Sr.: You want the end piece?
NateD: I don’t eat red meat.
Ruth: Nate, I made you a chicken breast!
David: Nate, if you didn’t want to see George Bush in the White House, then you shouldn’t have voted for Ralph Nader.
CLAIRE walks in, nervous, chewing gum. She’s just recently gotten high on the crystal meth.
Claire: I’m sorry I’m late. The traffic was like severely ridiculous.
She walks over to NateD and gives him a hug and a kiss.
Claire: Merry Christmas.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Ruth…
She passes over her plate, and he hands her a piece of meat.
Ruth: Claire, you don’t look well.
Claire: I think I may be coming down with a cold.
Ruth: Oh, dear! Let me feel your forehead.
Claire: It’s okay, Mom. People get colds.
NATE continues to watch the scene until he hears NATHANIEL, SR., this time from the kitchen.
Nathaniel, Sr.’s Voice: Okay, who wants the end piece?
NATE enters the kitchen, where NATHANIEL, SR. sits, having Christmas dinner with a completely different family: a wife, a grown daughter, TRISHA, and a son, NateE. This is a reality in which NATHANIEL, SR. never married RUTH, so the NATE in this reality looks nothing like the NATE we know. NateE is even played by a different actor. This family is more upper-crust and than the Fishers we know.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Anybody want the end piece? Nate?
NateE: Sure, I’ll take it.
NATHANIEL, SR. gives it to him.
Wife: Everyone, save some room for dessert!
Trisha: Mother, are you trying to sabotage my diet?
Wife: Of course, not, Trisha. I fully support your commitment to hating yourself for not having the ass of a 10 year old boy!
The phone rings.
Trisha: Why do you always have to be so crude?
Wife: Because God is punishing you through me.
NateE gets up and answers the phone.
NateE: Fisher Funeral Chapel, Nate Fisher speaking. I’m so terribly sorry. Yes, we are open today. Ah, any time before eleven?
Wife: (whispers) Just once, I wish we could make it through Christmas dinner without somebody dying.
NateE: We’ll be waiting for you. (hangs up, sighs, sits back down) Heart attack.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Thank God for small favors.
Suddenly NATE hears his own voice, in a country bumpkin accent coming from the TV Room.
NateF: Aw, shit, I’ve seen this one before!
NATE enters the TV Room, where NateF, a slobby redneck (played again by Peter Krause), wearing a dirty baseball cap, dirty jeans, and a dirty t-shirt, sits smoking a cigarette. He has a big beer belly. A wife with big blonde hair sits next to him. He’s watching a soap opera on TV. His wife reads her newspaper, ignoring him. The soap opera actors are an elegantly dressed man and woman.
Woman: That was Dr. Schroedinger. Kitty, didn’t make it…
A laugh track turns on.
Wife: What’re we watchin’ this for?
NateF: ‘Cause it’s what’s on. Quit flappin’ yer trap. I like this show.
Man: So. The universe has split in two.
Woman: (laughs) Two? Try two billion!
The laugh track goes on again.
Woman: What’s gonna happen to us?
Man: There, there.
NateF watches, smoking, and scratching his crotch. NATE watches, kind of repulsed.
Man: We always end up a universe in which we exist. Remember Copenhagen?
Laugh track. Again.
Women: Ah, yes! The Eigenvalues in bloom!
Man: You just keep telling yourself everything that can happen, does…somewhere.
NateF: Aw, shit, I’ve seen this one before!
NATE looks incredibly disturbed at this moment of déjà vu. He runs out of the room and downstairs, where he runs into NATHANIEL, SR. in the front hall. NATHANIEL, SR. is holding a clipboard with paperwork he’s checking off.
Nathaniel, Sr.: I just need you to answer a few questions for me.
“Time is On My Side” starts playing the background. A bald man in a suit walks by with a big mallet and smashes the hallway clock to pieces as NATE walks by and follows his dad into the slumber room. All of the aisles of chairs are filled with bald men in suits, all eerily reminiscent of NATE’s corpse from the funeral scene earlier. NATE follows NATHANIEL, SR. to the casket, which is pure white, glowing, and closed.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Do you believe that your consciousness affects the behavior of subatomic particles?
Nate: Am I alive or am I dead?
Nathaniel, Sr.: (ignoring him) Do you believe that particles move backwards and forwards in time and appear in all possible places at once?
Nate: (ignoring him) And if I am dead, is this heaven or hell?
Nathaniel, Sr.: (ignoring him) Do you believe that the universe is constantly splitting into billions of parallel universes?
Nate: (yelling) WHAT THE FUCK DO I CARE?!?
Nathaniel, Sr.: You only get one choice, so you may want to think about this.
Nate: (desperate) Just tell me. Am I dead? Yes. Or No.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Yes.
NATE sighs, defeated.
Nathaniel, Sr.: And no.
NATE looks up, even more perplexed and frustrated.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Some places you’re dead, some places you’re alive. Some places you never even existed. Possibly, theoretically. Or who knows, this could just be the anesthesia talking.
He laughs to himself. NATE doesn’t.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Go ahead. Open the box.
NATE looks out at the crowd of bald men. A loud rumbling noise starts, like a plane about to take off. All of the men put on old-fashioned aeroplane safety goggles. NATE chuckles.
Nate: Fuck it.
He reaches for the box. NATHANIEL, SR. protects his face with the clipboard. All the bald men, lean back simultaneously, as if they’re taking off in a jet. NATE opens the box. The entire room fills with a blindingly bright white light that soon envelops the whole screen.
Again we see the placard:
“NATHANIEL SAMUEL FISHER, JR.,
But slowly the 2002 fades away into nothing.
Now it says:
“NATHANIEL SAMUEL FISHER, JR.,
ACT II - Scene One: Todd's Backyard, afternoon
The screen is still white.
Nate: No, I never actually flat-lined. I just woke up, and later they told me the AVM ruptured during surgery.
Fade in on a barbecue. NATE holds MAYA in his arms, while he talks to TODD, a guy around NATE's age, who is barbecuing meat. They’re in TODD’s backyard.
Todd: So, what does that mean, ruptured?
Nate: Well, it just, ya know, exploded. My head actually exploded. I should’ve died or had some kind of lasting brain damage, but I pulled through and 7 months later, nothing even shows up on an MRI.
Todd: Wow, you’re really lucky!
Nate: I’m so fuckin’ lucky. (looks at MAYA and smiles) So fuckin’ lucky. (to MAYA) Right?
LISA sits with TODD’s wife on a bench. She’s admiring LISA’s wedding ring.
Wife: Oh, that is so beautiful!
Lisa: His doesn’t have the inlay.
Wife: Where did you get this?
Lisa: My boss, Carol, had to have a lot of jewelry made for this King Arthur cable movie. She turned us onto the Todd who did it.
Wife: I still can’t believe how fast you two got married.
Lisa: It wasn’t that fast. We’ve actually been together 8 years, ya know, on and off, between here and Seattle.
Wife: Well, you look really happy.
Lisa: I am really happy!
Wife: (smiles) Good.
Scene Two: Todd's Backyard, later
They’re all sitting at an outdoor table, having lunch. Besides TODD and his WIFE, two of the couples’ male friends are there, and the wife of one of the friends, along with NATE and LISA. A white cat walks across the yard.
Wife: So, my sister-in-law’s an astrologist—
Todd: And a drunk!
Wife: And she was telling me about this whole weird thing that her profession is facing right now.
Nate: Wait, when did astrology become a profession?
Wife: (laughs) You know, with the whole possibility of interplanetary travel…
Lisa: (eating) This pasta salad is so good! I want to spend a weekend alone with it!
Nate: (joking) Honey, that makes me feel a little weird.
Wife: Okay, so, say in your chart, your Mars is in Scorpio. Well, what about when people who are actually born on Mars? Their Mars isn’t in anything, but their Earth is in, I don’t know, Virgo or whatever.
Todd: Honey? No one’s listening.
Wife: (laughs) Oh, I know. I’m even boring myself. Oh, Lisa, I made some pasta salad without the tuna in it for you.
Lisa: No, it’s okay. I’m nursing. I need the protein.
Todd: (calling to their young son) Spencer, put the kitty down!
Wife: So the whole breast-feeding thing is going better now?
Lisa: Yeah. I’m taking fenugreek.
NATE has a quick flash to NATHANIEL, SR. saying “Fenugreek.” He looks up, confused, as if he had a moment of déjà vu but can’t put his finger on it.
Wife: Oh, I’ve heard of that. Have I heard of that?
Lisa: It’s amazing! Nursing was so painful for me at first, and my milk production seemed like it would never catch up with her demand…
Todd: (calling to SPENCER) Put the kitty down.
NATE shakes his head again, probably reminded of the woman in the soap opera, speaking about the kitty who “didn’t make it.”
Lisa: But now there’s always enough. The only draw back is my sweat smells a little like maple syrup.
Another quick flash, this time to NATHANIEL, SR. pouring the maple syrup on the fenugreek. NATE gives a weird face. LISA and the WIFE laugh.
Todd: (to SPENCER) Thank you!
Lisa: You know, breasts are actually modified sweat glands, and I hardly ever sweat, which is maybe why it was so painful for me at first.
Scene Three: Todd's Garage
TODD and his two friends stand in the garage, passing around a joint.
Todd: I wish I got one of those elliptical ones. They’re supposed to be better for your knees. But I’m sure I wouldn’t be using that one either, so…
They all laugh. NATE enters.
Nate: Hey, Todd, thanks for having us. (shakes his hand)
Todd: You’re taking off so soon?
Nate: Yeah, I gotta work tonight.
Todd: (indicating the joint) You want a hit for the road?
Nate: (smiles, shakes his head) No, I better not.
Todd: Alright. Hey, I think I might know somebody who wants to buy your motorcycle.
Nate: Somebody already bought it.
Todd: Oh. Oh, well.
He sighs. They all laugh.
Nate: Alright, thanks again. I’ll see ya next time.
Todd: Alright, later.
Todd’s Friend: Bye!
Scene Four: Todd's Front Yard
NATE and LISA walk away from the house to their car. NATE carries MAYA in one arm, and a baby bag in the other. Curiously, the baby bag is the same one that BRENDA was carrying earlier in the episode.
Lisa: That was fun.
Nate: Yeah, I like them.
Lisa: She’s nice, he’s a little weird.
Nate: Food was good.
Lisa: (notices the bag) Nate.
Lisa: We totally grabbed the wrong bag! (laughs)
Nate: Oh, shit.
Nate: (hands her the keys) Okay, be right back.
He runs back to the house, with the bag.
Scene Five: Doctor Office
DAVID and KEITH are in couples therapy. They sit on the couch together across from Dr. FRANK MUEHLER.
David: I feel…judged. I feel criticized. I feel like nothing I do is ever good enough. I feel ashamed of who I am.
KEITH crosses his eyes.
David: I feel like I’ll never be the person you want me to be.
Keith: I don’t want you to be anyone except who you are.
Frank: Keith, now is about you listening. You’ll get your chance in a moment.
Keith: Yeah, okay.
David: I feel like I’m living in a minefield, sometimes. Your anger is so random and arbitrary.
Frank: Let’s try to avoid making judgments about Keith’s behavior right now and really stay focused on what you feel.
David: I’m afraid of pissing you off, so I…I’m constantly editing myself. I guess I’m just confused, like I don’t even know who I am anymore. (sighs) I’m done.
Frank: Now, Keith, what did you hear?
Keith: A lot of whining!
DAVID crosses his eyes now.
Frank: Perhaps you have some feelings of your own you’d like to share?
Keith: Yeah. I hate my job. I feel like a fucking loser, driving around in a Home Alert uniform, answering alarms set off by poodles and sucking up to rich assholes who make more in a day than I make in a year! I ought to be able to blow off some steam when I come home without you always taking it so personally, because it’s very rarely about you!
David: I don’t think that’s fair.
Keith: You don’t want me to have any feelings!
David: No, I’d just like to have a little fun now and then, like we used to.
Keith: We don’t have fun?
David: On occasion.
Frank: How’s your sex life?
They both pause and look at each other.
David: It’s kinda great.
Finally, something they both agree on!
Keith: Yeah, that part works.
Frank: So, it seems engaging passionately is comfortable in that arena, but not so in other areas. What other things do the two of you like to do together?
David: Um, we go to movies sometimes. We go to dinner.
Keith: We used to play racquetball.
David: He was so much better than me, it was a joke. I wasn’t challenging enough for him.
Keith: I never said that!
David: It made me feel inadequate.
Frank: What kinds of things do you do on your own?
Keith: Besides work? Work out.
David: Yeah. My job kind of keeps me from doing much else.
Keith: Most of my friends were cops. But I don’t see them anymore since I left the force. David never really had any close friends.
David: That’s not true. There’s a group of independent funeral directors I get together with every month.
Keith: (sneers) You hate those guys!
Frank: We’re out of time. (they all stand up) This week, should any conflicts arise, try to focus on expressing what you’re feeling instead of criticizing and blaming.
Keith: (sarcastic) Yeah.
Scene Six: Nude Sketching Class
CLAIRE stands in art class, sketching a nude model at her easel. She looks like she’s having a difficult time of it.
The model changes position, and all the students flip to a new page in their sketch books. Next to her, an intense boy named RUSSELL, is working a lot faster and better than she is. The teacher goes from student to student nodding. When he gets up to RUSSELL, he is very impressed.
Teacher: Good, Russell.
Again, the model switches, and everyone turns their pages again. CLAIRE and RUSSELL look at each other. She smiles. He just looks at her, and then goes back to sketching.
Scene Seven: Nate and Lisa's Apartment
NATE gets to the door.
Nate: Fuck, it’s almost five. Rico’s gonna have my head.
NATE and LISA enter with the baby. RUTH, who’s been sitting and reading at an armchair, stands up.
Ruth: Hello! How is my precious girl doing today?
Lisa: (handing her the baby) She has the hiccups again.
NATE has a flash to he and BRENDA entering the Fisher house.
Brenda:…got the hiccups again.
Ruth: She gets that from her daddy. He was a very gassy baby, (to MAYA) wasn’t he? Yes, he was!
Lisa: I’ll get her some gripe water.
Ruth: Do you remember to burp her often, dear, when she’s nursing?
Lisa: Of course.
NATE sits down, in a daze. LISA notices.
Lisa: What’s wrong with you?
Nate: I don’t know. I think I just had the weirdest déjà vu.
CAROL WARD, a loud, boisterous woman enters.
Carol: Hello! Every time I pop by, there are more people here. Hi, I’m Carol Ward, Lisa’s boss.
She shakes RUTH’s hand.
Ruth: I’m Ruth Fisher, Nate’s mother. We’ve met several times already.
Carol: (clueless) You’re not living here now too, are you?
RUTH pauses, uncomfortable.
Carol: I’m kidding! Calm down. (to NATE) I hate to keep harping on this.
Nate: I parked in the driveway again.
Carol: Well, there are two cars today!
Ruth: I’m sorry. I didn’t know.
Carol: Please, it’s no biggie. I’m sure you didn’t know. (to NATE) What’s your excuse?
Nate: Well, I was just dropping off—
Carol: (interrupting, pretends to be joking, but isn’t) I could get a little sign made up, ya know? “Nate, back it up, put it on the street!”
NATE pauses, as RUTH did a few moments ago.
Carol: I’m kidding!
Nate: Look, if you want me to move it, I’ll go move it right now.
Carol: Don’t be silly, whenever, it doesn’t matter.
He starts to sit down.
Carol: Sooner rather than later.
He pauses, pissed off. She doesn’t notice.
Carol: (to LISA) Oh, Lisa, I’m having dinner with Penny Marshall tonight, so I won’t need you to cook.
Lisa: (smiles and nods) Okay.
Carol: But, I’m going to host an impromptu gathering tomorrow evening, just some close friends I want to try out a new pitch on, shouldn’t be more than…30.
Lisa: (pauses) Okay.
Carol: Do you have time to go over the menu with me?
Ruth: Take your time, dear. I’ve got all afternoon.
CAROL marches out the door.
Carol: (calling out as she leaves) Oh, nice to meet you, Nate’s mother!
LISA follows CAROL out the door.
Ruth: She’s energetic.
Nate: She’s a lunatic.
NATE’s cell phone rings. He gets it.
Nate: Hey, Rico.
RICO's in the prep room.
Rico: Nate, hey, how’s it going?
Rico: Good, good, I’m glad to hear it. Listen, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, or if you even care (NATE crosses his eyes), but we have two viewings tonight. One at 6:30 and one at 8:00.
Nate: Yeah, I’m on my way.
Rico: Good, because your brother is nowhere to be found. Yeah, and he’s not answering his cell phone. And there’s only so much I can do, ya know?
Rico: I can’t be at two places at the same time, Nate!
Nate: I get it, Rico, okay? Lay off the lecturing. I’m not your kid!
Rico: Yeah, well, I’m not your employee. I’m your partner. I am a licensed funeral director now, okay?!? You guys took my money, you made me a partner. It’s time you started treating me like one. Goodbye.
He hangs up. NATE closes his phone.
The screen fades to white.
ACT III - Scene One: Fisher Kitchen, morning
RAn exterior shot of the funeral home. The sign now reads “Fisher & Diaz Funeral Home.” Cut into the kitchen. DAVID and CLAIRE sit at the table. RUTH makes breakfast.
David: So, Claire, how’s art school?
Claire: It’s okay.
David: What kind of stuff are you doing?
Claire: Well, yesterday, we had to draw this naked guy in like 30 seconds.
David: Well, that sounds fun.
Claire: Not really. It’s hard. And, like, I don’t even want to be an illustrator or a painter or whatever, but they keep saying that we need to know how to do everything, like Picasso. It’s intense.
David: Yeah, but, at least you get to be creative every day.
NATE enters with MAYA.
Nate: Good morning!
David: (does a baby voice, waves at MAYA) Hey!
Ruth: (to baby) Hey, pumpkin!
Claire: Hey, how’s it going?
Nate: It could not possibly be going any better.
DAVID smiles at the baby, widely. NATE gives her to RUTH.
Nate: Would you look at this little girl? Is that the face of God, or what, huh? (smiles)
Claire: Yeah, there’s some stuff coming out of God’s nose.
Ruth: (to baby) Who’s precious? Is it you? Yes, it is!
Nate: Hey, Mom, can you help me with her today? Lisa’s gotta help Carol. Carol’s having this big Hollywood asslick dinner, and Lisa gotta shop.
Ruth: Of course.
Nate: You guys, she took the most amazing poop this morning.
David: Who, Lisa?
Nate: Seriously, it was just so perfectly formed, so healthy and compact. It was like a regular adult poop! It made me so happy. Look, I swear, when you live with a baby, you get to see the world as being totally new all over again. They’re just so pure and uncorrupted. It’s a fuckin’ privilege. And how come neither of you has been over to visit her recently?
Claire: Because being a father has turned you into a dithering idiot.
Nate: (sits down) Wow. You’re so tough and cool and above it all. I wish I was you.
She gives him a half-humorous “you better, mister” look. DAVID takes out a loaf of white bread.
David: Does anybody want the end piece?
Quick flash to NATHANIEL, SR. carving the pot roast.
Nathaniel, Sr.: Who wants the end piece?
Again, NATE gives a weird look. When no one answers, DAVID puts the piece down and goes to get coffee.
David: Oh, Nate, could you drop Mrs. Folger at the crematory this afternoon?
Nate: No, I’ve got the Paulk funeral.
CLAIRE gestures with her mug, and DAVID fills it with coffee after filling his own.
David: Yeah? Well, I’ve got the Bennett funeral.
Nate: Can’t Rico do it?
David: I believe his exact words were, “No fucking way. I’m not your fucking go-fer any more.
He pours coffee for NATE.
Nate: Claire, can you give us a hand?
CLAIRE looks up, surprised, incredulous.
Claire: Sorry, I have homework.
Nate: We’ll pay you fifty bucks. (DAVID looks annoyed.) We’d pay a delivery service more than that.
David: All right.
Claire: As long as I don’t have to touch any dead skin.
David: No, she’s all boxed up.
Claire: And I can’t do it till around four, ‘cause I have to practice drawing a perfect circle.
David: That takes seven hours?
Claire: I have to be able to do it on command in class tomorrow, okay? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Scene Two: Claire's Bedroom, later that day
CLAIRE sits on her bed, listening to music, and desperately trying to sketch a perfect circle. She tries over and over, but keeps ripping pages out, scribbling over mistakes, trying to train her hand with a stencil page. She checks her watch and sighs.
Scene Three: Prep Room
RICO is removing a piece of what looks like plastic from a wound in a male corpse’s skull. CLAIRE enters.
Claire: Eeww. Is that the box that needs to go to the crematory?
She gestures to a big, rectangular cardboard box.
Rico: (a little surprised) The--? Uh, yeah.
Claire: Well, I can take it now.
He drops his tweezers, and turns to her. He is pissed off.
Rico: You’re taking it?
Claire: Yeah, they hired me to do runs, since nobody else wants to do it.
Rico: (over-enunciates) Really?
Claire: Yeah, for 50 bucks a shot. But you’re gonna need to help me get that into my car.
Scene Four: Crematory
CLAIRE stands by the box, with PHIL, who’s filling out the paperwork. Behind him, two guys are setting up drums and guitars, getting ready to practice.
Claire: So, what kind of music do you guys play?
Phil: I don’t know. It’s kinda like early Peter Gabriel meets Tool. Emotionally vulnerable like Sunny Day Real Estate, but politically conscious, like Public Enemy.
Phil: We’re still working it out.
Claire: When you guys play, you should let me know. I’ll come.
Phil: Why don’t you hang out, while we practice?
Claire: I don’t think I can.
He hands her the papers.
Claire: I’ve got this thing I’m supposed to—(gives an “oh, fuck it” look) Okay. (smiles)
Phil: I’m Phil.
Claire: (shakes his hand) I’m Claire.
Phil: You want a beer?
Scene Five: Carol's House
CAROL sits with her Powerbook at the kitchen counter, while LISA cuts up some vegetables.
Carol: You really amaze me, Lisa.
Carol: Your energy, it’s boundless. You should be bottled as an alternative energy source. You would save the world, I’m serious.
Lisa: Well, that’s kinda funny, because I feel tired all the time.
Lisa: Yeah. I think it just comes from being a mom, ya know?
Lisa: Not that I’m complaining. I mean, Maya has totally transformed my life. I can’t even imagine going back to the way things were before.
Carol: (smiles) Wow.
Lisa: I mean, so what if I have to work extra hard? I want to. It’s worth, it is so worth it.
CAROL nods, and then bursts into tears.
Carol: (still crying) No, don’t pay any attention to me. I’m just nervous…nervous about this meeting next week. I have to pitch to McG, in person! Whoa, is he intimidating!
Lisa: (approaches her) Can I make you some chamomile tea?
Carol: Oh, for Chrissake, I’m not your grandmother, okay? I’m your boss.
LISA nods. CAROL starts sobbing again, and LISA isn’t sure what to do.
Carol: Stop looking at me, Lisa!
LISA looks down, meeky.
Lisa: (whispers, tentatively) Carol, I’m always here for you.
Carol: (waving her away) Eh! (suddenly, looks up, tearless) Also, I swim laps in the morning, and I used to be able to do that naked, which was a great way to start the day, like I was Artemis. I would go out there feeling like a warrior, like a huntress, which is what you have to do when you’re in my business. (cries again) But now I can’t do that anymore, because there’s a man living here!
Lisa: I’m sure Nate wouldn’t mind—
Carol: I would! Also, I don’t appreciate the hostility he shows by always parking in the driveway!
Lisa: I’m sorry. I—I will talk to him about it.
Carol: Yeah. I’m gonna go swim laps.
She gets up and walks out of the room. LISA crosses her eyes in frustration.
Scene Six: Keith and David's Apartment, Kitchen
KEITH is frying vegetables and meat in a large wok over the stove.
David: Are you ready for the bok choi?
DAVID puts it in and starts adding some pepper.
Keith: (annoyed, grabbing the pepper shaker) What are you doing?
David: Adding pepper.
Keith: I already added pepper.
David: Oh. (he backs away, then thinks better of it) Okay, I feel shamed.
David: When you said, “I already I added pepper,” my perception was that you were irritated with me for not knowing that already, and that you were also angry with me, that I shouldn’t have done it.
Keith: Why would I be angry with you?
David: I don’t know. Maybe you don’t want me to be involved in the cooking process. Maybe you just want me to prepare the ingredients for you? Maybe you want total control over what actually happens inside the wok.
Keith: (frustrated) So, we have a little extra pepper in the wok. It’s not a big deal!
David: I know it’s not a big deal.
Keith: (pauses) Okay, I heard what you said. (there’s no tone of mocking in his voice here, he’s leveling with DAVID) It was not my intention to shame you.
David: I know.
Keith: Good. I love you. Are the carrots ready?
DAVID hands him the carrots, which he throws on the wok.
Keith: You know, I grew up in a family where people expressed their anger on a regular basis, so that’s what intimacy feels like to me. But you, you grew up in a family where no one ever expressed anything.
David: Yeah, we also never hit each other.
Keith: So whenever I’m slightly irritated, it scares you, right?
Keith: It just means I’m comfortable with you. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
DAVID thinks about this for a moment, and takes a sip of wine.
Keith: Did you pick up the dry cleaning today?
David: Yeah, it’s in the closet.
Scene Seven: Crematory
Claire sits and watches the band practice. PHIL, playing the bass, smiles at CLAIRE. She smiles back and watches him.
Scene Eight: Fisher Kitchen
RUTH gives MAYA a little bit of peanut butter.
Ruth: There, isn’t that delicious?!? Your daddy, he used to love peanut butter, too, yes, he did! So did your uncle David. Not your aunt Claire, though. She absolutely hated it. Always did, still does.
She puts the peanut butter away in a cabinet.
Ruth: Isn’t it funny? They were all little babies once, too. But their daddy’s mommy never liked spending time with them the way I like spending time with you.
NATE comes into the dining room, and is about to enter the kitchen, but starts listening to what RUTH is saying. He backs up and eavesdrops.
Ruth: She never really liked me, and she never liked my children. She was convinced I had gotten pregnant on purpose to trap Nathaniel into marrying me, which wasn’t true at all. I certainly never intended for that to happen.
NATE looks shocked. He never knew this. He backs up even more.
Ruth: Especially when I was so young. And I was terrified when your daddy was born, absolutely terrified.
The baby coos. NATE waits a few seconds, then pretends to just be coming in.
Nate: Hey, Mom!
Ruth: (smiles) Goodness, you startled me!
Nate: She give you any trouble?
He walks up to the baby.
Ruth: Heavens, no, she’s an angel.
Nate: (to baby) Are you ready to go home, angel?
Ruth: Have you eaten? I made you a chicken breast.
Nate: Uh, no, thanks. I’ve gotta be getting home. But put it in the fridge. I’ll eat it tomorrow.
Ruth: You know, if you and Lisa would like a night off, I’d be happy to watch her. You could go out to eat, see a movie. I could even keep her here overnight.
Nate: Well, thanks, Mom, but Lisa’s working tonight, and plus Maya hasn’t slept outside the family bed yet, so…
Ruth: Well, maybe it might be better for her to try a night sleeping on her own.
Nate: Mom, we know how you feel about it. You’re very clear on that. We feel differently, okay?
Ruth: She’s almost nine months old. She’s going to have to leave (with a hint of mockery) “the family bed” sometime.
NATE picks the baby up.
Nate: Well, Maya will let us know when she’s ready to leave, all right? Good night.
He gives her a kiss on the cheek, and then she gives MAYA a kiss on the cheek.
Nate: Good night, Grandma.
Ruth: Good night.
NATE leaves with the baby.
Scene Nine: Keith and David's Apartment
DAVID enters the bedroom, where KEITH is already in bed.
Keith: Are we having sex?
David: Uh, okay. Just let me take a shower first.
Cut to the bathroom. DAVID hums in the shower, as he scrubs himself. He’s very excited. Cut to a few minutes later, out of the shower, he dries off with a towel. Cut to him brushing his teeth. Cut to him flossing. Cut to him gargling with mouth wash. Cut to him clipping nose and ear hair.
Finally, cut back to the bedroom. He enters, expectantly, all shaved, brushed, and clean. KEITH has fallen asleep. DAVID sighs, resigned, and disappointed, turns off the light, and gets into the bed. KEITH rolls over and onto DAVID, trapping him under his arms. DAVID first tries to move him, but KEITH is dead asleep. DAVID lies back and stares at the ceiling.
The screen fades to white.
ACT IV - Scene One: Phil's Apartment, next morning
PHIL's apartment seems to be attached to or in the same building as the crematory.
CLAIRE wakes up in PHIL’s bed, and looks up. He’s just made her coffee.
Claire: What time is it?
Phil: A little before 10, I think. How do you take it?
He hands her the coffee.
Claire: (smiles) Hey.
Phil: So, what do you have to do today?
Claire: Uh, class.
Phil: What kind of class?
Claire: A drawing class. We’re learning how to draw a perfect circle.
Phil: That sounds kinda cool.
Claire: It’s not. It’s stupid and tedious and pointless. I went to art school to be expressive, not to perform some pointless task like some lab rat.
Phil: You wanna play hooky?
Scene Two: Fisher & Diaz Office
DAVID enters the office, where NATE is sitting at the desk.
David: Nate, I need you to do me a big favor and cover the Folger funeral for me this afternoon.
Nate: Hey, who’s Frank Muehler?
David: (plays innocent) Frank who?
Nate: Muehler. He’s in the date book here every Wednesday at 2.
David: I have absolutely no idea. It must be somebody Rico put in there.
Nate: Hmm. There’s a phone number. I’m gonna call and find out.
He picks up the phone. DAVID stops him.
David: All right, no. Keith and I are in couples counseling.
David: It’s not that big a deal.
Nate: Are you guys okay?
David: Yeah, of course we’re okay. We’re just seeking the advice of a trained professional to help us to establish appropriate boundaries and write the rules of our relationship together.
Nate: What happened?
David: Nothing happened. Keith has a lot of anger issues that he inherited from his father, and I have a lot of doormat issues that I inherited from Mom.
NATE smiles and nods.
David: Can we please never talk about this again?
Nate: Sure. You’re okay, though, right?
David: (sighs) Can we please never talk about this again?
Nate: Got it.
DAVID sits down.
David: And how are you and Lisa?
Nate: Uh…we’re great. It’s still a little bizarre to me. All the possible ways my life could’ve gone, ya know?
Nate: Yeah, I mean, it’s just about a year ago I got engaged. Remember that? You know, I thought I loved Brenda, or maybe I thought I could just make it work out of sheer will. But, you just never know. You have no fucking idea what life has in store for you.
He smiles, but also seems vaguely uncomfortable with what he’s saying.
David: So, can you cover the Folger funeral for me or not?
Nate: What is it, you just need some time off? Are you sure you’re alright?
David: I’m fine. (sighs, makes another confession) I’ve got an audition for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.
Now NATE gives a real smile.
Nate: That sounds fun.
David: I’m trying to create something for myself outside of my job and my relationship. I could really use your support on this.
Nate: All right. Don’t worry. The Folger thing’s a walk in the park. You just go knock ‘em dead. No pun intended.
David: I’m so nervous.
Nate: David. You’ll be great.
They both smile.
David: From your mouth to God’s ears.
DAVID gets up to leave.
David: Thanks, Nate.
Nate: Any time.
Scene Three: Nate and Lisa's Apartment/Fisher Kitchen
LISA takes a shirt of MAYA’s out of the laundry basket, and notices a stain on it. She scratches at it, and smells. It’s peanut butter. She calls up RUTH. The scene cuts between both sides of the conversation.
Lisa: Hi, Ruth, it’s Lisa.
Ruth: Oh, hello.
Lisa: Ruth, did you give Maya peanut butter?
Ruth: Yes, and she just loved it! Now, Nate--
Lisa: (freaking out) Ruth, you never give babies peanut butter under the age of one. They can develop horrible allergies! Didn’t you know that?
Ruth: No, I didn’t. Is she all right?
Lisa: Yes, but that’s not the point. You should never give her peanut butter…or honey…or strawberries…or egg whites. Please.
Ruth: Of course.
Lisa: (calms down) I’m sorry to be so abrupt with you. I just—
Ruth: No, I’m sorry. I had no idea. Peanut butter was never a problem when my children were young. Are you sure she’s all right?
Lisa: She’s fine.
Ruth: Do you need any help with her today? I could come over.
Lisa: (crossing her eyes) Ruth, no. You spend so much time over here. I feel bad.
Ruth: (laughs, gently) It’s no problem at all. I like—
Lisa: (interrupting) Seriously, take some time for yourself. I hardly saw Maya at all yesterday. I really just wanted it to be the two of us today.
Ruth: (meekly; horribly disappointed) Okay.
Lisa: But thanks. I’ll talk to you later.
They both hang up.
Scene Four: Mansion
KEITH pulls up outside a mansion in his HomeAlert car. He starts to walk up to the house but drops his flashlight. Frustrated, he picks it up off the ground and walks up to the front door. The housekeeper answers it, a frazzled Hispanic woman, answers.
Housekeeper: Thank God! It’s very frightening! I didn’t know who to call!
Keith: Ma’am, just calm down and tell me what happened, okay?
Housekeeper: Come, I’ll show you.
Scene Five: Montage
The scene starts at the Gay Men’s Chorus auditions. DAVID stands on a small stage and sings for four chorus members, sitting at a table. He is accompanied by a pianist. He sings “Some Other Time” from “On the Town.”
David: (singing) Where has the time all gone to?/Haven’t done half the things we want to/Oh, well, we’ll catch up some other time…
Cut to KEITH pulling the carcass of a dead possum out of the swimming pool in the backyard of the mansion. DAVID’s singing continues over the scene.
David: This day was just a token/Too many words are still unspoken/Oh, well, we’ll catch up some other time.
Cut to RUTH taking a walk in a nearby park. She sits down on a bench, and sighs, sad and alone.
David: Just when the fun is starting/Comes the time for parting/But let’s be glad for what we’ve had/And what’s to come.
Cut to NATE, consoling Mr. Folger’s grieving widow.
David: There’s so much more embracing/Still to be done, but time is racing…
Cut back to DAVID’s audition.
David: Oh, well. We’ll catch up some other time.
The music ends and DAVID sighs. The chorus members are clearly impressed with his voice.
Scene Six: Nate and Lisa's Apartment
NATE is holding MAYA. He’s talking to LISA, who seems preoccupied.
Nate: It’s just always weird when you find stuff like that out. You know, later on in your life. I mean, I had no idea that I wasn’t planned. I’m not sure what difference it makes. I mean, Maya wasn’t planned either. We couldn’t love her any more than we do.
He kisses MAYA on the forehead.
Nate: It’s just…I don’t know.
Lisa: (pays more attention now) What?
Nate: I don’t like knowing that my whole existence is any accident. It’s just too fucking…random.
Lisa: Yeah, but that’s the way it happened. Things happen the way they’re meant to, Nate.
Nate: See, there’s a kind of fatalism in that that I just don’t buy.
Lisa: (takes the baby) Well, what’s the alternative?
She slowly walks over to the bed with the baby, and he watches her. The blanket on the bed is the same from the NATE and LISA reality from the first act.
Nate: We make choices.
Lisa: Yeah, but maybe your parents never would have chosen to get married if you hadn’t happened (lies down on the bed with the baby), and then not only would you not exist, but Claire and David wouldn’t either. It’s just not what was meant to happen.
He sits down on the bed beside her. Now he, she, and the baby are in the exact same positions as the earlier scene.
Nate: But surely we’re more than just…things that happen.
Lisa: Maybe we are. Maybe we’re not.
The baby makes a little jerk.
Lisa: (smiles) Oh, I love it when she does that!
Quick flash to the earlier scene.
Lisa: …when she does that.
Back to present.
Lisa: When she sort of jerks, ya know?
Lisa: When she sort of jerks…
Back to present.
Lisa: Right before she falls…
Lisa: Off to sleep.
Back to present.
Lisa: …off to sleep, wakes herself up.
NATE looks at LISA, and knows he’s experienced this moment before, but doesn’t know how.
Nate: You freaked out the first time…
Nate: First time…
Back to present.
Nate: …she ever did it.
Lisa: I remember that feeling of falling…
Back to present.
Lisa: …when I was little, like I was falling out of bed, and it always woke me up, like I was scared of…
Nate: (completes the sentence) …what you were going to fall into?
Lisa: Yeah. But that never happens to me anymore.
Nate: Don’t be so sure of that.
He strokes her hair, as in the earlier scene.
Lisa: (smiles) What’s going on with you?
Nate: I think I dreamed this.
Nate: This moment. This. This life we have together. You, me, Maya. Here. Now.
They both smile. The baby looks up at them, in wide-eyed wonder. They both look down at her, with love in their eyes. NATE makes funny faces and lays his head on LISA’s shoulder.
The screen fades to white.