By Michael Benning
EXT. CITY PARK BENCH DAY
Trees and benches are scattered throughout the sunny green small town
park. One bench is occupied by Graham. He stares at his feet while tossing
seeds out to the pigeons COOING below him.
A woman, in the distance, is walking her humongous dog. There are FLOPS
on the sidewalk as her loose sandals slap against the ground. Graham stares
at them slapping along the sidewalk and up into the grass.
JOANNE runs up behind Graham and steals his hat. Graham doesnt look
up as she sits beside him.
Joanne. (he doesnt look up)
Joanne looks Graham up and down, her fingertips running over the arm of
We havent talked in a while.
EXT. APPLE ORCHARD DAY
It is sunny and there are trees in parallel lines running for miles in
Young Graham and a young and beautiful brown haired Joanne are sitting
underneath one of the trees, his head in her lap looking upward. A few
apples lie around them.
Joanne runs her fingers over young Grahams face until she reaches
his eyelids. He rubs his arm.
Hows the arm?
Its fine, just a little sore.
Betty wouldnt take her eyes off of you last night.
Dont worry about her.
She was gawking at you from the sidelines.
There is a lull in the conversation. Graham rubs his arm and Joanne takes
her hands off of his head.
Why are we together?
What do you mean?
Why do you like me and not some other
You just feel right, thats all.
What are you thinking about?
Im just taking everything in. You. Me.
I like us.
I like us too.
We only have a year left.
Itll be a quick year.
I dont want to have to go away to
I dont want you to have to go away to school.
Do you think I should stay here, work on the farm?
Work on me.
Work on you.
If you stay youll get the farm and Ill get you.
He rolls over and kisses her.
EXT. PARK BENCH DAY
They have green apples on sale at Smittys.
He looks at the seat next and sees Joannes white loafers.
I really like them, the green apples. Theyre kinda sour, you know.
But when theyre really juicy and still sour, thats when theyre
the best. Not like the red apples. The red apples are too sweet and the
peels get stuck in my teeth.
Looking forward, Graham sees the woman in the distance, still walking
her dog, but near a bush now. It sniffs and lifts its leg to urinate.
How do you feel about apples, Graham?
Graham makes a positive grunt. Joanne drops down next to him and grips
his arm as he reaches into the bag for more seed.
You dont have to answer that question now, Im sure well
have plenty of time now that Bettys gone.
Graham gives her an odd look.
They also have cherries at the store. Did you see those?
Graham says nothing.
They dont look as appealing as the apples. I think it has something
to do with the size of them. Cherries always taste better, but they dont
seem worth it. Seeds get in the way of the taste.
Graham runs his hands along his head to finally notice his hat missing.
Can I have my hat back now?
For the first time since sitting down, Joanne is silent. She begins to
play with his balding head of hair. After a few seconds of awkward silence,
Graham staring in the distance and Joanne staring at Graham, Joanne speaks.
You were always good at changing the subject.
He says nothing.
Was Betty good to you?
INT. LOCKER ROOM NIGHT
The room is steamy and there are benches and lockers. It is empty except
for an 18 year old Graham who is rubbing his right arm. He is wearing
a towel and is in good physical condition, muscular but lean. Sitting
on a bench he looks up and sees an attractive skinny blonde in a cheerleading
uniform. BETTY is leaning against the doorway with a seductive innocent
look on her face, one fingernail between her teeth.
Betty, youre not supposed to be in here.
I just wanted to congratulate you on the game.
Thanks, the coach pulled out some good plays for us.
Well, it was you who earned the win. You threw some great passes.
Yeah, I had some decent throws.
He stops rubbing his arm and stands to open his locker.
You know, Ive had my eye on you for some time.
Betty begins to walk toward him.
Im not quite sure what you mean.
Well, its pretty easy. I like you. I think you like me.
You know about Joanne.
If you dont like me yet, you will.
I dont know.
Graham is fishing through his locker when Joanne puts her hands on his
shoulders. She begins to rub them.
How does that feel.
It doesnt matter.
Forget about Joanne. Shes not here.
She begins to move her lips over his shoulders.
I mean, it just makes sense. Im a cheerleader and youre captain
of the football team. What does Joanne do again?
Shes my girlfriend.
You cant tell me you havent thought about me. Every guy in
school has thought about me.
How do you feel about that?
Its flattering, but it takes more than thought to make anything
You are attractive.
Betty begins to kiss his back.
Tell me something I havent heard, Graham.
I have thought about this.
Betty studies Grahams ears, his neck, and his jaw line.
EXT. THE PARK DAY
The woman with the dog is pulled toward some bushes as the dog growls.
It is inches from the leaves of the plant before jumping excitedly.
Joanne stares at Grahams aging ears, his neck, and his jaw line.
Graham is still staring out at the woman with the dog.
I think we would have worked out.
Joanne smiles. She takes one of her fingers and puts it into the collar
of Grahams shirt, running it along his neck.
I think we would have been good for each other. I really do.
Joanne leans her legs in towards Graham.
The womans dog snarls and jumps into the bushes, pulling the leash
with it. Watching this, Graham tosses some more seed to the birds in front
The dog is really dirty now, caked in mud and leaves. It jumps out of
the bush. It runs at the woman who stands, hands over her mouth.
I think about it all the time.
She cuts him off.
Shush. Im picturing it all right now.
She stands up and moves in front of him. The woman, in the distance, is
running away from the dog.
It would have been beautiful. We could have been married right out of
high school. You would take over your fathers orchard. Id
go to secretarial school. Everything would be wonderfully simple.
He looks down at the birds and throws some more seed.
I mean, think about it Graham; you and I spending our whole lives together
without Betty to worry about. That would have been perfect. I would wake
up in the morning, early before going to work for Dr. Jones.
Joanne places her hands on his head and pulls his face until its
I would make you breakfast. We would have the same lives, but better.
Better because wed be together.
Joanne sits down and runs her fingers over his face, his eyelids.
EXT. PARK DAY
Back at the bench, Joanne is looking into Grahams eyes.
Youre fifty now, right?
Wow. A lot of that went by slowly. But, I guess thats what happens
when you wake up at 6:30 every morning and drink your coffee alone.
The woman with the dog is running in the distance. She runs to a large
tree and places it between her and the dog. The dog barks at her from
one side, but she keeps moving around each time the dog inches closer.
Was it hard on you when she died?
Graham looks at the ground. His bag is half empty and most of the birds
She was your wife for over thirty years.
Im not sure how I feel about it.
We made it through your entire marriage without getting caught.
Graham looks over as if he missed something.
It happened a few times a year, rather consistently.
He looks back at the ground.
Everything happens for a reason.
Can I have my hat back now?
I think it was supposed to be a reminder.
Graham rubs his head, and looks back towards the woman in the distance
who is running. The dog is following close behind.
I still love you.
The woman in the distance falls. She tries to scream but her mouth is
filled with grass. She smacks the dog with one of her hands and it bites
Joanne takes the bag of seeds from Grahams hands and places it on
the ground. Her fingers wrap around his. Graham stares toward the ground,
into the bag of seed.
Im going to propose something.
Graham raises his view and stares at the woman in the distance.
We need a new start, right now. Forget about Betty, your kids, and everyone
Graham leans in to hear Joanne better. She grips his face with her hands,
pulling it close to hers.
They stare directly at each other. Graham shows no emotion. Joanne gazes
with a tilted head.
Its awful that she came between us. Her being a cheerleader and
you being the quarter-back, what was I supposed to do?
Graham lets out a frustrated sigh. His foot knocks over the bag of seed
and he looks at Joanne with a sad look of confusion. He looks into the
The womans hair is being chewed by the dog. No sounds come from
her, though breathing ensues.
Joanne takes one of Grahams hands with both of hers and wraps her
fingers together around his.
But now shes gone. I still like us. The same as in high-school.
Graham looks over at her with sad emotion.
I like us too, the same as in high-school.
Then its settled.
She links arms with him as they stand.
I think that we should run away together.
Lets go to your orchard. I want to see if its just as beautiful
as it was.
All right, but can I have my hat back?
They walk off through the park. As they leave, the woman in the distance
is lying crumpled and bloody. The dog is running off in another direction.
It seems happy with itself. The bag of seed lies by the bench.
SILENCE. A large fruit orchard with various trees all lined symmetrical
and parallel. The sun is bright and the apple trees look almost too real.
to Volume 3