ext. new england village–day
ext. village street–day
Cathy Whitaker, having collected her eight-year-old daughter Janice from ballet class, is finally ­returning home from another busy day.
ext. residential street–later
Cathy’s car is turning onto a well-tended, residential street, full of traditional black-shuttered, white wood homes, all set back on spacious lawns against the blaze of autumn color.
ext. whitaker house–later
She turns into the driveway of a large, fastidiously landscaped two-story home with a slate roof and flagstone walkway. David Whitaker, a typical eleven-year-old boy with dark hair like his dad’s, is circling around the front of the house on his bright red Schwinn.
David: Mother! Mother! Can I sleep over at Hutch’s tonight? Mrs. Hutchison gave permission.
Cathy: (from the car) Not tonight, David. Your father and I are going out and I need you to look after your sister.
David: Aww, shucks.
Cathy: Now move your school bag, David, so Mother can park.
The Whitakers’ maid Sybil, a handsome black woman in her early ­thirties, is just coming down the front steps to the car.
Janice: (hopping out) Sherry Seeger says they only cost something like five or six dollars. Please, Mother, please, can I?
Cathy: (opening her door) Oh Sybil, thank heavens!
Sybil: Well I knew you were going to the grocery–
Cathy: David, please help Sybil unload the car.
David: How come Janice doesn’t gotta?
Cathy: Doesn’t have to. Because Janice is carrying in all her belongings and marching straight upstairs into the bath.
Janice steps out of the car loaded down with laundered clothes and ­packages.
Cathy: Your father and I have an engagement so I want you both to have a nice early dinner. And help Sybil.
David/Janice: (not exactly in sync) Yes, ma”am.
Cathy: Sybil, did Mr. Whitaker call while I was out?
Sybil: No, Mrs. Whitaker. Not since you’ve been gone.
Cathy: How do you like that guy? Big-time executive and he still can’t remember a single social obligation!
Janice: So Mother, can I? Please can I get them?
Cathy: Janice, I said we’ll discuss it with your father. Now hurry on inside. David, put your bike away and help Sybil with the groceries! Where’s your jacket?
Cathy turns to see her best friend, Eleanor Fine, a lean, blond woman in her early forties, just turning up her drive in a shiny green Imperial.
Cathy: Well hello, stranger! Aren’t I seeing you in about three hours’ time?
Eleanor is stepping out of her car.
Eleanor: You are. But I just left the caterers this instant and I had to dash over.
Cathy: You have the samples?
Eleanor: You bet.
Cathy: Ooh. Come inside.
They start into the house.
Eleanor: I can only stay a second.
Cathy: You just caught me, acually–David! What did I tell you?
David: I’m getting the last bag!
int. whitaker living room–moments later
Inside, Janice is practicing some ballet steps by a large stone fireplace. Eleanor is in the midst of showing Cathy color samples for the big company party that is their annual tradition to host.
Eleanor: And imagine with the table setting I showed you. The aqua trim? Is that smart?
Cathy: Oh yes.
Eleanor: You like?
Eleanor: (starting to put things away) All right. So I’ll call the caterers in the morning and you confirm with Dorothy on the deposit–and honey, we’re in business.
Cathy: Magnavox “57, here we come.
Eleanor: You betcha.
Janice: Mother, look!
Cathy: Janice, I thought I told you to go start your bath! You know your father and I–
Janice: Just this one part, pleeease.
Cathy: All right, but lickety-split.
Janice performs a few steps for her mother and Eleanor as David pores over the TV guide on the couch.
Eleanor: Oh, will you look at that?
Cathy: That’s lovely, darling.
Eleanor: She’s getting so grown up.
David: Mother, can I stay up and watch The ­Californians? Please!
Cathy: Janice, honey, watch the lamp!
Eleanor and Cathy applaud Janice, who beams in delight.
Cathy: That was lovely, dear. Now hurry on up and get out of those clothes or mother’s going to be late.
Janice turns, still beaming, and dashes up the stairs.
Eleanor: I better run. I still have loads to do.
Cathy: Well I can imagine, what with Mona and her little white glove . . .
Eleanor: Aren’t social mores the most dreadful bore? Mona’s invited us at least three times last year so of course there wasn’t a thing I could do. And Stan sees Fred at the club . . .
Cathy opens the door for her.]
ext. whitaker house–later
Eleanor starts down the front steps of the house toward her car.
Cathy: Thanks for stopping by, El.
Eleanor: I’ll see you at eight!
Cathy: You know Frank. On the dot!
Cathy waves good-bye and closes the door.
* * *
int. whitaker bedroom–evening
Janice is curled into an armchair in the soft glow of Cathy’s vanity, watching her mother do her makeup in the mirror. Cathy is dressed for the evening in sleeveless emerald green, setting off the tangerine of her hair.
Cathy: (doing her lipstick) Uh-huh?
Janice: When you were a little girl you looked like me, right?
Janice: So when I grow up does that mean I’ll look like you?
Cathy: Is that what you want darling, to look like me?
Janice: Yes. I hope I look exactly as pretty as you.
Cathy: What a lovely compliment coming from my perfectly lovely daughter.
She picks up her wristwatch and glances at the time.
Cathy: Seven-fifteen! Where on earth is your father?
She gets up and walks over to a dresser.
Cathy: (searching for something) What is it, dear?
Janice: Can I try putting lipstick on me?
Cathy: (starting out the door) Not tonight, Janice. Mother’s going to be late. Sybil!
Cathy is starting down the stairs.
Sybil: (off) Yes, Mrs. Whitaker?
Cathy: Did I leave my gloves on the hall table?
Sybil: (off) Yes, ma”am. I see them.
Cathy: You know it’s nearly twenty after and Mr. Whitaker still hasn’t phoned!
Sybil meets Cathy at the foot of the stairs with the gloves.
Cathy: Thank you, Sybil . . . I’m at my wits’ end. I even tried calling his office, though I knew there wouldn’t be anyone–
The phone rings. Sybil goes to the hall table to answer it.
Cathy: Well I certainly hope that’s him now. Because if it isn’t–
Sybil: Whitaker residence. (brief silence, then stiffly) Yes sir. One moment, please.
Cathy: Who is it?
Sybil: (Lowered voice) Police department.
Cathy frowns, taking the phone.
Officer’s Voice: (through receiver) Yes. Am I speaking with a Mrs. Frank Whitaker?
Officer’s Voice: Of 1616 Sycamore Drive?
int. police station booking–evening
Officer: One moment please.
The Officer hands the phone over to Frank Whitaker, a dark-haired, big-boned man in his early forties, who has just finished wiping his ink-stained fingers with a rag.
Cathy’s voice: Frank! Frank, what happened? Are you all right?
Frank: I’m fine. Everything’s fine. It was a big–mix-up, the whole thing. But you gotta come get me. They won’t–let me leave on my own.
int. whitaker foyer–evening
Cathy: Oh, Frank. Don’t worry, darling. I’ll be there as quickly as I can. (she hangs up the phone)
Sybil: Is there anything I can do, Mrs. Whitaker?
Cathy: No. Thank you, Sybil. Just keep an eye on the children. I’m sure I won’t be long.
Cathy grabs her purse and coat and rushes for the door.
ext. police station–night
Cathy’s car pulls up in front of the lamp-lit police station. She hurries out of the car, still in her evening clothes, and up the stone steps of the precinct.
int. police station front desk–continuous
Cathy walks over to the Officer at the desk.
Officer: Can I help you, ma”am?
Cathy: Yes, I’m here to meet my husband. The name’s Whitaker, Frank Whitaker.
Officer: Here we go. Room 103. If you’ll follow me, ma”am.
Cathy signs the report and hands it to the Bail Clerk.
Bail Clerk: This is your copy, ma”am, and your receipt.
Cathy: Thank you.
Then the door opens and Frank walks through it.
Cathy: Oh, Frank!
Cathy rushes to him and they embrace.
As they leave, two of the officers are still watching.
Cathy drives while Frank broods in the passenger seat. Rear-projected streetlights send charcoal shadows across their faces.
Frank: I’ll tell you one thing. If it hadn’t been for that sniveling junior cop they’d have never gone through the whole charade in the first place! . . . ‘stead of trying to save face. I saw the guy they were after–the “loiterer.” They wouldn’t even listen to me! I tell you, I have half a mind to sue the pants off the whole precinct.
Cathy: Or . . . you could simply forget the whole thing ever happened.
Frank: (takes a breath) I suppose you’re right.
Cathy: (a bit cautiously) So were there–drinks after work?
Frank: What do you mean?
Cathy: I thought they said something . . . Intoxication level, something or other–?
Frank: Christ! I had a lousy cocktail with Bill after work, going over the portfolio! Should I be arrested for that too?
Cathy: Of course not, darling.
Frank: The whole thing’s just put me in a foul state.
Cathy: I know, dear. You just try to rest. We’ll be home in no time.
int. whitaker foyer–later
Cathy stands in semidarkness, on the phone with Eleanor. She finds the police report in her purse.
Cathy: He’s fine . . . The car’s fine. Frank says it was the bumper that got hit, but you know me. I can’t tell the difference . . . I’m just sorry we had to miss it . . . I know . . .
She drops the papers into the wastebasket.
int. whitaker bedroom–later
Frank sits in bed with an open book on his lap, staring into space. The door squeaks open and he looks over.
Cathy: She was fine. Said it was a dreadful bore, what with Mona Lauder and her gossip.
Frank: (depleted) Cathy, I’m sorry.
Cathy: (embracing him) Darling, you’ve nothing to be sorry for. It was all just a silly, wretched mistake!
They kiss deeply and he takes her in his arms. Cathy closes her eyes and begins caressing his shoulders and neck. But Frank stops and pulls away. She looks at him.
Frank: Feel so tired.
He turns and lies down into bed, and she caresses the side of his head with her hand.
Cathy: “Course you do. You sleep now.
She switches off the light, pulls up his blanket, and slowly walks to the bathroom.
[int. breakfast room–morning
The Whitaker clan are all seated around the breakfast room table, finishing a breakfast of bacon and eggs.
David: Pop, Hutch says if the Russians drop a bomb on us we couldn’t drop one back on them. Is that true?
Frank: Well, son, I’m afraid Hutch has a point there.
David: Why, Pop? Why couldn’t we?
Cathy: Drink your orange juice, David.
Janice: I already drank mine. Look, Father!
David: Pop, why?
Cathy: (glancing at the clock) Would you look at the time? It” s already a quarter after! You kids are going to miss your bus! Sybil, can you help me get their coats?
Sybil helps Cathy distribute coats and lunch boxes and hurry them out of the kitchen.
Cathy: All right, now. Say good-bye to your father.
Janice: Bye, Father. (she kisses him)
Frank: Good-bye, kitten.
David: Bye, Pop!
Frank: Have a good day at school, son.
David is first out the door.
Cathy: Janice, have you got your notebook?
Janice: Yes, Mother.
David swings open the front door of the house. We can hear the bus ­approaching.
David: (off) The bus is here!
Sybil: David–your lunch!
Cathy takes it from Sybil and rushes after him.
He swoops back in, grabs it, and is off again, followed by Janice.
Janice: Bye, Mother!
Cathy: Have a nice day at school, dear.
Cathy pecks her on the cheek and she runs out the door.
ext. whitaker house–morning
The bus pulls up in front of the house as David and Janice go running and Cathy waves.
The big yellow door closes behind them and the bus pulls off down the street. A small truck with DEAGAN GARDEN SUPPLY printed on the side is just pulling up to the house.
Cathy is walking back into the house as Frank emerges from the kitchen, gathering his things for work.
Cathy: I thought you were going to have another piece of toast?
Frank: It’s late. I should get over there.
Cathy: Well can I at least fix you lunch?
Frank: No, thank you, dear. I’ve got lunch
meetings all week long. It’s portfolio season!
The doorbell rings.
Cathy: (calling) Sybil, if that’s the milkman, his
check is in the kitchen drawer!
Sybil: (off) Yes, ma”am!
Cathy helps Frank on with his overcoat.
Cathy: Well I’m just glad you’re feeling better, dear.
Frank: Thank you, darling.
Frank embraces Cathy and kisses her warmly just as–BOOM!–a camera flash ignites them, and they turn.
Standing beside Sybil in the entryway is Mrs. Leacock, a gray-faced woman in her sixties, and a young Photographer with a camera.
Photographer: Pardon me, ma”am, sir.
Sybil: Excuse me, Mrs. Whitaker. This is Mrs. Leacock? She says she had an appointment with you this morning?
Cathy: Oh jiminy–I completely forgot the time! Yes, of course, Mrs. Leacock, please come in.
Mrs. Leacock: I do apologize, Mrs. Whitaker, but candid views are always the best.
Cathy: Darling, this is Mrs. Leacock, the lady I told you about, from the Weekly Gazette.
Frank: Ah, yes. The fine lady who wants to air all our dirty secrets. (shaking her hand) How do you do, Mrs. Leacock?
Mrs. Leacock: Fear not, Mr. Whitaker. We at the Ga­zette ascribe to only the highest of professional ­standards.
Frank: Well I’m glad to hear it. Now if you’ll all please excuse me, I have some professional standards of my own to keep up. (kissing Cathy) Good-bye, darling.
Cathy: Good-bye, dear.
Frank: (nodding good-bye) Mrs. Leacock . . .
Mrs. Leacock: Pleasure, Mr. Whitaker.
Frank gives a final wave to the room and is gone.
Mrs. Leacock: Your husband’s a very charming man, Mrs. Whitaker.
Cathy: Thank you. We’re rather fond of him ourselves. Please, won’t you come in and make yourselves at home.
Cathy escorts them into the living room and over to the couch while untying her kitchen apron.
Cathy: As you can see, I’m just running a bit behind schedule today.
Mrs. Leacock: That’s quite all right, dear.
Cathy sits down opposite her, casually smoothing her hair and dress.
Cathy: I suppose I still can’t imagine why in the world you’d want an interview with me in the first place. It couldn’t possibly be very interesting for your readers.
Mrs. Leacock: The readers of the Weekly Gazette, Mrs. Whitaker, are women just like yourself, with families and homes to keep up. A good society paper need not be a gossip rag. You are the proud wife of a successful sales executive, planning the parties and posing at your husband’s side on the advertisements.
She refers to a framed magazine advertisement on the wall, showing Cathy and Frank posed in front of their TV with the heading: MR. & MRS. MAGNAtech CHOOSE NOTHING BUT THE BEST FOR THEIR HOME!
Mrs. Leacock: To everyone here in Connecticut you are Mr. and Mrs. Magnatech.
Cathy: I suppose I should be flattered. I just don’t feel I’m so very different from anyone else, really. I like to shop and wear a pretty dress every now and then. But really my life is just like any other wife or mother’s–I don’t suppose I’ve ever really wanted anything–
Suddenly, through the window, Cathy glimpses someone moving through her backyard. She stands.
Mrs. Leacock: What is it, dear?
Cathy: I think I just saw someone walking through our yard.
Cathy walks to the French doors leading to the backyard. There she sees a tall black man standing outside, hunching over something.
Cathy: What on earth . . . ?
Mrs. Leacock: (standing, seeing) Oh my.
Cathy opens the door.
Mrs. Leacock: Mrs. Whitaker–Perhaps you should call the police–
ext. whitaker backyard–day
The Whitaker backyard is an ample, two-tiered expanse, with flagstone walkways and fastidiously landscaped hedges, trees, and flower beds bordering the swimming pool and lawn.
Cathy takes a few cautious steps in the direction of the stranger.
Cathy: Excuse me. Can I help you?
The man looks up from a shrub of evergreens, squinting. This is Raymond Deagan, forty years old, good-looking. He steps toward her, looking slightly irritated himself.
Cathy takes an involuntary step back.
Cathy: Who are you?
Raymond: Ma”am, I’m sorry. My name’s Raymond Deagan. I’m Otis Deagan’s son. I’ve just been–taking over some of his jobs since he–
Cathy: You’re Otis’s son?
Cathy: Well I’m–terribly sorry for speaking to you in that manner. I didn’t know who was in my yard.
Raymond: No need.
Cathy: How is your father? I knew he was in the ­hospital.
Raymond: Yes, I–My father passed away, I’m afraid.
Cathy: No! I had no idea! I’m so very sorry. (putting her hand on his arm) Please accept our deepest condolences. Your father was a wonderful, dedicated man.
Raymond: Thank you.
The phone rings from inside the house.
int. living room–day
We hear Sybil answering it as Mrs. Leacock watches Cathy through the window–just removing her hand from Raymond’s arm.
Sybil steps out to the porch from the kitchen door.
Sybil: Mrs. Whitaker? I have Greenhill Caterers on the line!
Cathy: Thank you, Sybil! (to Raymond) I’m sorry. Would you excuse me a moment?
Raymond: Of course.
Cathy hurries back inside.
Cathy: Mrs. Leacock, I’m terribly sorry! I’ll just be a minute more!
©2003 by Todd Haynes. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.