I KNOW: a short film script


FADE IN:

INT. HIP COFFEE BAR – NIGHT

A trendy coffee bar on a Saturday night. It has a nice lowkey atmosphere and is solidly filled with customers.

At one table is JAMES, a young man with striking good looks. He sits with a glass of white wine in front of him, staring intently at his smart phone.

He takes a sip of the wine as he swipes through social media, putting down the wine once to type something, then picking up the glass again.

After a moment, a shadow crosses James as someone sits down across the table from him. James finally looks up and is a little surprised.

JAMES

Terry.

Across from James sits TERRY. Terry is the complete antithesis of James. Where James is handsome and suave and charismatic, Terry is average, quite average, extremely average, in every way.

TERRY

Hello, James.

JAMES

Dude, this is a surprise. Are you going to Lana’s party tonight?

Terry says nothing, staring at James, just staring. Then…

TERRY

No. I was…I was just out for a walk and saw you sitting here.

JAMES

Really? A bit out of the way for you, isn’t it?

Terry doesn’t respond.

JAMES

Well…I’m glad you came in, bro. How you holding up? I know what you must be going through.

Terry thinks for a moment.

TERRY

I’m actually doing much better now, thank you.

Terry looks around.

TERRY

Nice place. New, isn’t it?

JAMES

I just found it. Can I get you something?

TERRY

No, I’m…good, I guess.

JAMES

I think it’s going to do well.

TERRY

Yes, well, you would know, wouldn’t you?

James shrugs. Indicates his smart phone.

JAMES

I’ve been putting the word out.

TERRY

Yes, I saw that. Maybe that’s why I came by.

(re wine)

Nice wine?

JAMES

Not bad, considering.

TERRY

And you’d know that, too, I guess.

James gives Terry a look-he almost says something, but then decides not to.

Terry again stares a James a moment. Then…

TERRY

Do you know what I was thinking about today? I was thinking about when we first met in grammar school. Remember? I was being bullied and you intervened and made sure I was never bothered again.

JAMES

Uh, yeah, I remember.

TERRY

After that we were best friends. Well, no, sorry. That’s not quite right, is it? You became my best friend, but the more I think of it, I never became yours, did I? Not really. I often wondered why you kept me around, kept me so close. It took a long time, but I finally realized it was because you knew I was no threat to you. I would never be a threat to you. I made you look good in comparison. And fuck me, even after I figured it out, I didn’t care. As long as I stood in your limelight, I was happy, or what passes for happiness in life maybe.

There is another pause as Terry looks around the coffee bar. He focuses on a couple who seem quite happy and content, talking animatedly, laughing, even flirting a little with each other.

TERRY

Like them. They look happy. What do

you think?

James gives them a quick look.

JAMES

They’re trying too hard.

Terry looks back at James.

TERRY

Well, again, you would know, wouldn’t you?

Again, James has a puzzled look on his face. Terry smiles to himself and looks away.

TERRY

Of course, you know what we say about you, I mean, when you’re not around? When we’re talking about you behind you’re back.

(beat)

James, everyone says, James is someone who knows. He doesn’t try to know. He didn’t major in college in knowing. You didn’t learn how to know from books or movies or television shows or podcasts, though, of course you know what books to read, what movies and television shows to watch and what podcasts to listen to. You know how to dress, how to style your hair, how close or long to clip your beard. You know what body wash to buy, deodorant to use and cologne to apply, and you know the exact amount to do so. You know the best career to have, the latest car to drive, the most elite gentrified neighborhood to rent an apartment in, and the hippest gym to have a membership with. I mean, look at me. I obviously don’t know shit, right?

JAMES

Terry–

TERRY

And as night follows day, you know how to entice women into bed, don’t you? What line to use, what piece of flattery would fit the fine female you are plying your charms on at the time. And you also know the perfect way to disentangle yourself once you know when it is best to never see said female again. You just know.

JAMES

(beat)

Where…where are you going with this, Terry?

Terry leans a bit forward and looks intently into James’ eyes.

TERRY

I know.

James takes a pause and there is a slight panic in his eyes.

TERRY

Oh my, god. You paused. It’s your first mistake of the night, James. It was slight, but I saw it. You paused.

JAMES

What are you talking about?

TERRY

Nothing. Everything. Just that…I know. And I wanted you to know that. I wanted you to know that I know.

JAMES

I’m sorry, bro, but you’re going to have to enlighten…

TERRY

She kept a journal.

And with that James says nothing.

TERRY

When she died, when she had the miscarriage, when she, she lost so much blood and was in and out of consciousness, I was angry at her. I was actually angry at her, because I didn’t think she was fighting to stay with me. I felt she had given up and was letting go. I saw the hopelessness in her eyes as her life left her.

JAMES

I’m so sorry, Terry. That must have been awful. I…

TERRY

Today I was going through her things. I had been putting it off. I guess I, I’m not ready to let go of her. And I found it, her journal and I knew I shouldn’t, that it was private, but I did. Fuck me, I read it.  And in it, she wrote…she wrote the baby was yours and that she went to you, and you wouldn’t say it, you wouldn’t say it was yours, but you offered to pay for an abortion, and that the two of you were through. It was over.

James is silent.

TERRY

God, James, I loved her so much. Even now, after all that, I still love her.

Neither of them say anything. After a long beat…

JAMES

I…I suppose you’re going to tell everyone. Is that what this is about?

Terry laughs.

TERRY

No. In fact, I’m not going to tell anyone. I just wanted you to know I know. And that this knowledge, that I know, is something you will have to live with for the rest of your life.

At that Terry rises and leaves the coffee bar.

James seems paralyzed, as if not knowing what to do. Then his phone rings and after a moment he checks it and answers.

JAMES

Hey, Lana, sorry I’m running late. I was just heading over.

LANA (O.S.)

(upset, crying)

Oh, my God, James. You haven’t heard?

JAMES

Heard what?

LANA (O.S.)

It’s so awful. It’s Terry. He…he killed himself a few hours ago.

James stands up as if shot. He looks around and around until he looks out the front window of the coffee bar.

And there he sees Terry staring back at him. And then Terry smiles and waves at James and walks off.

James rushes for the front door.

LANA (O.S.)

James. Are you there?

EXT. COFFEE BAR – NIGHT

Now outside, James looks in the direction Terry had headed, but he isn’t there. James looks everywhere for him, but Terry is nowhere to be seen. James then registers Lana’s voice and brings his phone to his ear.

JAMES

Yes…yes, I’m here.

LANA (O.S.)

Nobody knows why he did it. He seemed to be doing so well. We keep talking about it and talking about it and we can’t figure it out. Do you have any idea, James?

JAMES

I…Maybe…He…

James gives up looking for Terry and leans back against the wall of the building. He looks up and the stars and moon are out.

After a moment he speaks to Lana.

JAMES

I…I don’t know. I just don’t know.

FADE OUT.

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