John Sayles, Lone Star


The screenplays for Lone Star and Men with Guns represent the blueprints for movies about a lone man on a quest. As the main protagonist in each searches for their personal resolution, they serve as guides for us, leading us into wider social and political arenas. The tone and pace of the two films are very distinct, and though in one the dialogue is mostly in English and in the other mostly in Spanish, their main differences lie elsewhere.The backbone of Lone Star is the definition of personal identity through family history for a white county sheriff, an African American army colonel and a Chicana high school teacher. The trigger for this is the discovery of the remains of a former sheriff, evidently murdered. The structure of the detective story serves as the vehicle to carry us through the past and present social structure of a Texas border to, with surprises in store for each of the three. It is Sam Deeds, the white sheriff, who digs the story out for us. He a man ignorant of history - personal and social through no fault of his own. Lies have been told, secrets kept, history passed on in a deliberately distorted fashion. Once Sam begins to untangle truth from legend he is faced with a second challenge - the responsibility of supporting or attacking the ‘official story’.

Men with Guns is also driven by a search. Dr Fuentes, a wealthy, relatively liberal society physician, has trained several young students to become 'barefoot' doctors and work with the poorest of his nation's people in the countryside. When he discovers a former student selling drugs in a slum and hears that all might not be going well with the health program, he sets out to find his other students in their remote villages. Fuentes is also ignorant of history - but this time it's a careless, even willful ignorance, that of the man who subconsciously does not want to know. Confronted with new evidence of genocide in each village he visits, Fuentes is drawn further and further into the dark heart of his own society's violence, until there is no honorable way he can return to his former life.

Sam Deeds also ends up at a point of no return, knowledge forcing him into decisions that will seal him off from the society that raised him. But he does get to make that decision, and the universe he inhabits is a less fatalistic one than the world of Men with Guns.

My image for Sam's action in Lone Star was circular, a kind of digging through layers, always moving toward a center of truth. The image for Dr Fuentes' quest is linear, a straight journey leading him further away from the comforts and distractions of his city and social life, and deeper into a black and white world of powerful versus powerless. Lone Star is very much about the specifics of a very particular place and history -the Texas/Mexican border with its baggage of wars and racial politics. Men with Guns, from its bluntly simplistic title to the generic quality of the place names Fuentes visits is meant to be more universal more starkly basic in its reality. Though legend is invoked in Lone .Star, the story itself is steeped in detail and idiosyncracy. The characters in Men with Guns have the feel of real human beings caught in a horrific fable

In writing Men with Guns my mental geography for Fuentes' trip was in terms of products and crops. We leave a huge glass and plastic city to cross an arid plain where desperate people sell salt by the roadside. We cut through flat, humid sugarcane country. We cross rivers, then start to climb foothills covered with coffee and bananas. Finally we leave the road behind and climb by foot up into the steep mountain rainforest, slashed and burned for meager cornfields, until we reach the jungle canopy at the summit. Fuentes makes a kind of Pilgrim's Progress a journey where each turn brings new hardship and new knowledge. It is no odyssey, however, no way for him to ring back the news to his old home and live on as a wiser man. His questions at first belie his ignorance – ignorance of the people he meant to help; ignorance of the nature and extremity of his own government; ignorance even of the limited penetration of his own language. The answers he receives, when people are willing to talk, are mostly direct and a bit condescending. How could you not know the answer to this? Only Padre Portillo, the only other educated man he meets along the way, is enigmatic and metaphoric with him at first.

Sam Deeds constantly asks questions as well specific evidence seeking questions but almost never receives a direct answer. Where the answer in Men with Guns is almost always simpler and more brutal than Fuentes had thought, the answer in Lone Star is almost always more complex and paradoxical than Sam has wanted to believe. The witnesses Sam grills aren’t only necessary to hide information with their metaphors, they’re trying to get him to see the world in all its contradictions and conflicts of interest.

My interest in the border probably started when as a kid I saw Fess Parker play Davy Crockett on TV The legend of the Alamo a handful of freedom-loving patriots holding out unto death against a whole army of foreign invaders, was particularly strong to me, an has been a central theme in the way white Texans see and spent time on the border, a different, more complex and, to me, more interesting picture emerged. The contradiction of men fighting for the freedom to, among other things, own slaves, seemed so far from the official version that I felt here were some bones that needed digging up. The people I met on the border, with their complicated alliances and classes of self-identification (the Mexican-American and his Mexican cousin five hundred yards across the river have come to think of themselves in very different ways), led me to my characters of Sam, Del and Pilar, who all get more than they bargained for when they examine their own roots.

Men with Guns started with stories told to me by friends - one whose uncle was a doctor, the other whose father was an agronomist-both who trained people for programs in Latin America for the best of intentions with the worst of results. That basic idea - how does a person deal with the responsibility of putting somebody else at mortal risk? -formed the personal core of the story. The theme I found in the troubled world around us -over sixty percent of Americans stated they wanted no messy details from the press during the Gulf War; the various civil wars and genocides in Central and South America, in the Balkans, in Africa, in the former Soviet Union; the untenable position of civilian villagers caught between US troops and Viet Cong in the Vietnam conflict. Whereas the quest in Lone Star reveals layers of complexity and interdependence, life in Men with Guns boils down to a dynamic as old as human society - men who have weapons and are willing to use them have power over those who don't. The story is full of groups who define themselves and are deflated in very distinct categories - white versus indigenous, indigenous versus Ladino (Indian people who speak Spanish and dress in Western clothes), rich versus poor, army versus guerrilla, each language group against the other - but, as a potentially loaded pistol changes hands again and again, the most basic and important difference is who is packing and who isn't.

The version of Men with Guns that follows is also a translation from Spanish and various indigenous languages into subtitle format. This structure of no more than thirty-six characters and spaces per line and no more than two lines per screen lends a haiku-like simplicity to most of the dialogue, in contrast with the more vernacular liveliness of the American tourists' speech. The spoken dialogue, though still relatively direct and unadorned, is much looser and more colorful in its own idiom than what the reader will find here.

I tend not to editorialize too much in screenplays; I don't use a whole lot of physical or thematic description. Reading these without having reference to the movies made from them may be a little stark. The music is not here, the acting, the visceral power of the locations, no camera movement or lighting-all the things that make a movie a movie. So try to take them as the blueprints they are, outlines that helped people come together and make a story.

John Sayles, 1997


MOLLY: (uncomfortable) Pilar? Is uhm - is Amado okay?

PILAR: Okay? He's not here?

MOLLY: No. Is he sick?

Pilar: (mutters) He's going to wish he was dead.


CU: vaquero picture.

On the door of a deluxe pickup truck is an airbrushed picture of a Poncho Villa-looking vaquero with bandoliers crossing his chest and a gun blazing in each hand. We hear loud music.

AMADO: (off-screen) Luis! Give me that Phillips-head back -

Wider: a small group of teenage Chicano Boys hang around the truck in the bed, on the hood, leaning against it. A boom-box placed on top of the cab blasts banda music out at the neighborhood. Somebody's legs are hanging out the open passenger-side door. The Kids suddenly look as a Sheriff's Department car slides into the foreground. A deputy sheriff, Travis, gets out.

Kids try to look tough and unworried as we track across the street toward them. Travis's hand reaches out from behind the camera to flick off the music.


Amado Cruz, Pilar's fifteen-year-old son, lies on the front seat installing a compact disc player into the dash slot. He reaches up to the dash, can 't find what he wants.

AMADO: Somebody hand me the CD player - dámelo, pendejos -

He looks up and we tilt to see Travis leaning in the window, examining the new radio.

TRAVIS: They come a long way from those old eight-track jobs, haven't they?

AMADO: Something wrong?

TRAVIS: (waves radio) This is stolen property. Alla you fellas are coming down to the station.


Sweat beads the forehead of a thin, tired-looking recent immigrant, Enrique, as he delivers platters of chile rellenos to a booth. Mexican music plays on a jukebox in the background. We hold on the booth, where Hollis Pogue, in his sixties, entertains two good old boys.

HOLLIS: So Buddy walks up to the porch and there's old Fishbait, McHenry, cleanin' the dirt out his toenails with a pocket-knife - He was the most hygienic of all the McHenrys -

The breakfast companions are laughing already

'Fishbait,' says Buddy, in that quiet way of his, 'what you know about them tires that went missing from Merkel's?' Fishbait thinks for a minute, then he lifts up a loose board from the porch floor and calls down into it, 'C'mon out, Footer, they caught us!'

FENTON: (laughing) Buddy Deeds. He had a way.

HOLLIS: He known who it was onnaconna the tire tracks in the dir from the back of the garage to where they loaded up. 'Old Fishbait,' he says, 'never lifted a thing in this world if there -was a way he could roll it.'

More laughter.

FENTON: Won't be another like him. That boy of his doesn't come near it. You ask me, he's all hat and no cattle.

SAM: (off-screen) Fellas -

We widen to see Sam standing by their booth. No telling how long he’s been listening. Fenton is embarrassed.

HOLLIS: Sam! I was just telling a few about your old man.

FENTON: He was a unique individual.

SAM: Yeah, he was that

We sense a little strain when Sam has to talk about his father.

HOLLIS: Big day coming up -I wish we'd have thought of it while he was still living. But he went so unexpected -

FENTON: Better late than never. Korean War hero, Sheriff for near thirty years-Buddy Deeds Memorial P -

SAM: I heard there was a bit of a fuss.

HOLLIS: Oh, you know, the usual troublemakers. Danny Padilla from the Sentinel, that crowd -

FENTON: Every other damn thing in the country is called after Martin Luther King, they can't let our side have one measly park?

HOLLIS: King wasn't Mexican, Fenton -

FENTON: Bad enough all the street names are in Spanish -

SAM: They were here first -

FENTON: Then name it after Big Chief Shitinabucket! Whoever
That Tonkawa fella was. He had the Mexes beat by centuries -

HOLLIS: There was a faction pulling for that boy who was killed in
The Gulf War- Ruben -

SAM: - Santiago.

HOLLIS: Right. But nobody here ever noticed him till they read his name on the national news -

FENTON: They just wanted it to be one of theirs -

HOLLIS: That's not the whole story. The Mexicans that know, that remember, understand what Buddy was for their people. Hell, it was Mercedes over there who swung the deciding vote for him.

Sam looks to the register where Pilar's mother, Mercedes Cruz, whacks rolls of change apart on the counter. She seems to be avoiding looking toward him.

SAM: That so?

HOLLIS: She put it even at three to three, so as the Mayor I get to cast the tie-breaker. The older generation won't have any problem with it. They remember how Buddy come to be Sheriff, that it was all 'cause he took their part.

FENTON: Tell that one, Hollis -

HOLLIS: Hell, everybody heard that story a million times -

SAM: I'd like to hear it. Your version of it.

Something about the way Sam says it puts Hollis on guard.

FENTON: Go ahead, Hollis.

CU: Hollis. He's hooked into it now.

HOLLIS: The two of us were the only deputies back then - me and
Buddy - it's what -'58-

FENTON: (off-screen) ’57, I believe -

HOLLIS: And the Sheriff at the time was Big Charley Wade. Charley was one of your old-fashioned bribe-or-bullets kind of sheriffs, he took a healthy bite out of whatever moved through this county -

He looks down at the table.

HOLLIS: It was in here one night, back when Jimmy Herrera run the place. Started right here in this booth

We pan down to the table. The food has changed. The tortillas are in a straw basket instead of plastic. The jukebox changes to another song and the light dims slightly. A hand with a big Masonic ring on one finger appears to lift a tortilla - underneath it lie three ten-dollar bills. The hand lifts them up and we tilt to see the face of Sheriff Charley Wade, a big, mean redneck with shrewd eyes.

It is 1957.

WADE: (grins) This beaner fare doesn't agree with me, but the price sure is right.

Wider Wade sits across from his young deputies, Young Hollis (thirties) and Buddy Deeds (twenties). A chicken-fried steak sits untouched in front of Buddy. Hollis has the anxious look of an errand boy, while Buddy is self-contained and quietly forceful for his age.

BUDDY: What's that for?

WADE: Jimmy got a kitchen full of wetbacks, most of 'em relatives.
People breed like chickens -


WADE: I roust some muchacho on the street, doesn't have his papers, all he got to say is 'Yo trabajo para Jimmy Herrera.'

Wade folds the money and stuffs it in his pocket.

WADE: You got to keep the wheels greased, son. Sheriff does his job I right, everybody makes out. Now this is gonna be one of your pickups, Buddy. First of the month, just like the rent. Get the car, Hollis.

Wade and Hollis slide out of the booth to stand.

BUDDY: I'm not doing it.

Hollis stops a few feet away, shocked. Wade just stares down at Buddy.

WADE: Come again?

Buddy looks Wade in the eye, seemingly unafraid.

BUDDY: It's your deal. You sweated it out of him, you pick it up.

WADE: There's gonna be some left over for you, Buddy. I take care of my boys.

BUDDY: That's not the point.

WADE: You feeling bad for Jimmy? Have him tell you the size of the mordida they took out of his hide when he run a place on the other side. Those old boys in Ciudad Leon.

BUDDY: I'm not picking it up.

WADE: You do whatever I say you do or else you put it on the trail, son.

The Customers are all watching now, nervous. Buddy thinks for a moment, not taking his eyes off Wade.

BUDDY: How 'bout this - how 'bout you put that shield on this table and vanish before you end up dead or in jail?

Wade rests his hand on his pistol. It is dead silent but for the music on the box.

BUDDY: You ever shoot anybody was looking you in the eye?

WADE: Who said anything about shootin' anybody?

Buddy has his gun out under the table. He slowly brings it up and lays it flat on the table, not taking his hand off it or his eyes off Wade.

BUDDY: Whole different story, isn't it?

WADE: You're fired. You're outta the department.

BUDDY: There's not a soul in this county isn't sick to death of your bullshit, Charley. You made yourself scarce, you could make a lot of people happy.

WADE: You little pissant -

BUDDY: Now or later, Charley. You won't have any trouble finding me.

Wade feels the people around him waiting for a reaction. He leans close to Buddy to croak in a hoarse whisper.

WADE: You're a dead man.

He turns and nearly bumps into Hollis. He gives the Deputy a shove.

WADE: Get the goddam car. We're going to Roderick's.

CU: Buddy. He watches till the screen door shuts behind them, then holsters his gun and begins to saw at the steak as if nothing had happened. He calls softly.

BUDDY: Muchacho - mas cerveza por favor.

He looks up at somebody and we pan till we see Sam, still standing over the booth, listening.

We are back in 1995.

HOLLIS: (off-screen) 'Mas cerveza por favor.'

FENTON: (off-screen) That Buddy was a cool breeze.

We pull back to see Hollis and his buddies at the table, eating their lunches as they listen.

FENTON: Charley Wade were known to have put a good number of people in the ground, and your daddy gets eyeball to eyeball with him.

HOLLIS: We made our collection at Roderick's place and that was the last anybody seen hide nor hair of him. He went missing the next day, along with ten thousand dollars in county funds from the safe at the jail.

SAM: Never heard from him again?

HOLLIS: Not a peep- Buddy run the man out of town.

FENTON: Buddy Deeds said a thing, he damn well backed it up. Won't be another like him.

SAM: So he arrested all of Jimmy Herrara's people and sent 'em back to the other side?

Hollis sees what Sam is getting at, grins.

HOLLIS: Oh -he come to an accommodation. Money doesn't always need to change hands to keep the wheels turning.

SAM: Right.

HOLLIS: Look, I know you had some problems with your father, and he and Muriel - well -

FENTON: Your mother was a saint.

HOLLIS: - but Buddy Deeds was my salvation

Sam nods, speaks softly.

SAM: Won't be another like him.


CU. Del Payne.

Colonel Delmore Payne (Del), a very direct, by-the-book black officer, addresses a group of officers and NCOs. Artillery piece angle toward the sky behind him.

DEL: - it's an honor for me to assume command of this unit, and I look forward to working with all of you.

Cliff and Mikey, in uniform now, flank Sergeant Priscilla Worth, a black woman in her early forties, as they stand information.

DEL: (off-screen) I'm sure you're all aware of the Army's decision to close this installation under the Reduction in Force plan. That does not mean, however -

Reverse. We look over the shoulders of assembled Officers and NCOs toward Del.

DEL: - that we've been sent here to mark time until we are absorbed by another unit.

CU: Del.

DEL: You may have heard rumors that I run a very tight operation. These rumors are not exaggerated.


We are looking through a magnifying glass at an old photo. Buddy's face is slightly distorted by the glass.

SECRETARY: (off-screen) Sam? I got Danny Padilla from the paper for you -

Sam sits at his desk in the Sheriff’s office, looking down at the photo

SAM: Tell him I'll catch him later.

CU: photograph. An old photo of the 1957 Sheriffs Department officers on the courthouse steps. Wade, Hollis, Buddy, a few others, all in uniform.

SECRETARY: (off-screen) He says he needs to talk to you before the ceremony.

Chet hurries away. Otis watches him for a moment, then turns to the mess in his club.


CU: Anglo Mother, an angry woman, standing from her auditorium chair.

ANGLO MOTHER: You're just tearin' everything down! Tearin' down our heritage, tearin' down our history, tearin' down the memory of people that fought and died for this land -

CHICANO FATHER: (off-screen) We fought and died for this land, too!

We whip pan to see another standing parent.

CHICANO FATHER: We fought the US Army, the Texas Rangers -

ANGLO FATHER (off-screen) Yeah, but you lost, buddy!

We whip pan to a man in the rear.

ANGLO FATHER: Winners get the bragging rights, that's how it goes -

PRINCIPAL: (off-screen) People - people -

Wider: we are in the high school auditorium, a hot-and-heavy teachers and parents meeting in progress. Pilar sits at the end of a long table facing the agitated parents, taking some heat. Danny Padilla, a young, long-haired reporter, sits in the front taking notes, enjoying the show.

PRINCIPAL: I think it would be best not to put things in terms of winners and losers -

ANGLO MOTHER: (points at Pilar) Well, the way she's teachin' it has got everything switched around. I was on the textbook committee, and her version is not

PRINCIPAL: We think of the textbook as kind of a guide, not an absolute.

ANGLO MOTHER: it is not what we set as the standard! Now you people can
believe what you want, but when it comes to teaching our
children -

CHICANO MOTHER: They're our children, too!

ANGLO FATHER: The men who founded this state have a right to have their story -

DANNY: The men who founded this state broke from Mexico because they needed slavery to be legal to make a fortune in the cotton business!

PILAR: I think that's a bit of an oversimplification -

ANGLO FATHER: Are you reporting this meeting or runnin' it, Danny?

DANNY: Just adding a little historical perspective -

Rear of auditorium: Paloma Cruz, Pilar's teenage daughter, peeks into the room, then moves down the side toward the stage.

ANGLO FATHER: You may call it history, but I call it propaganda. I'm sure they got their own account of the Alamo on the other side, but we're not on the other side, so we're not about to have it taught in our schools!

PILAR: There's no reason to be so threatened by this -

Pilar is trying to stay calm despite her anger.

PILAR: I've only been trying to get across some of the complexity of our situation down here - cultures coming together in both negative and positive ways -

ANGLO MOTHER: (off-screen) If you mean like music and food and all, I have no problem with that -

We shoot past Pilot toward the Parents in their seats. Paloma steps up to whisper to her

ANGLO MOTHER: - but when you start changing who did what to who -

TEACHER: We're not changing anything, we're presenting a more complete picture -

ANGLO MOTHER: And that's what's got to stop!

Pilar looks troubled by what she's heard. She shoots a look toward the others at the table, then slips away with Paloma

TEACHER: There's enough ignorance in the world without us encouraging it in the classroom -

ANGLO MOTHER: Now who are you calling ignorant?

PRINCIPAL: Folks, I know this is a very emotional issue for some of you, but we have other business to attend to -

CHICANO FATHER: We're not going to get some resolution on this?

CU: Principal - weary.

PRINCIPAL: Would you people like to form another committee?

Groans from the Parents.


Shadow, face bruised, hands cuffed behind him, is pushed in through the door to be booked.

SHADOW: I hope the sucker does die, man! Mess with me, that's what you get!

Sam steps in behind him and meets his chief deputy, Ray Hernandez, coming from the other direction.

RAY: Hospital says the other kid is in bad shape -

SAM: (glances ahead) The shooter local?

RAY: (shakes his head) Down from Houston. I think he knew the girl before.

SAM: Okay - we'll take a statement from all the GIs before they go back to post. You can get the story from Otis over at the club.

RAY: Any poop on the John Doe you found out there today?

SAM: Nothin' much. The Rangers put Ben Wetzel on it. Catch you later.

As Ray steps out, Pilar, looking distraught, walks into the station, passing right by Sam without seeing him.

CU: Sam. He wonders what she's doing there.

Sam's P0V. Pilar. She stands by an unoccupied reception desk, very upset, unable to attract anyone's attention because of the activity around the shooting. She looks tired and a bit scared under the harsh overhead light.

Wider: Cliff leans against a desk, a blackboard covered with radar diagrams behind him. Priscilla sits nearby, both of them focused on Athena.

PRISCILLA: We're not running a dating service here.

ATHENA: I know that, Sergeant. We were just dancing. There was a bunch of us there. Shadow just come down looking for trouble.

CLIFF: It's not our job to get involved in your personal life, but when it interferes with the training here -

ATHENA: I'm sorry, Sergeant Major. There wasn't anything I could do. Shadow gets crazy.

A silence as the sergeants let her stew for a moment. She works up her courage.

ATHENA: Sergeant Major? How is Richie doing? Private Graves?

CLIFF: He'll live.

PRISCILLA: He'll be transferred to a military hospital as soon as he's stabilized

CLIFF: He'll probably be getting a medical discharge -

ATHENA: Out of the Army?

CLIFF: He's going to lose a lung.

This is not good news for Athena.

ATHENA: Will this go on my record?

Cliff considers for a long moment.

CLIFF: If the incident happened the way you say it did, there hasn't been an infraction.

ATHENA: Thank you, Sergeant Major.

CLIFF: You're dismissed.

ATHENA: Thank you, Sergeant Major.

Athena steps out of the room. Cliff sits on the desk.

PRISCILLA: You spoil 'em, Cliff.

CLIFF: Hey - she's in a tough situation. I cut her some slack -

PRISCILLA: But I'm the one in charge of her sorry ass.

CLIFF: (crossing to the door) She's pulled herself out of a pretty rough neighborhood -

PRISCILLA: And if she isn't careful she's gonna slide right back into it.


We start on a CU of a rocker creaking back and forth on an old wooden porch. A woman hums.

Minnie Bledsoe, in her sixties, sits on her porch in the old black section of town, playing with a Gameboy. She has on very thick glasses. Sam walks up to her from his car.

SAM: Mrs Bledsoe?

MINNIE: That's me

SAM: I'm Sheriff Deeds -

MINNIE: Sheriff Deeds's dead, honey - you just Sheriff Junior.

SAM: (smiles) Yeah, that's the story of my life

MINNIE: You ever play one of these?

SAM: I've seen 'em.

MINNIE: Well, don't ever start up on 'em, 'cause once you do you
can't stop. I tell myself I'm gonna play just three little games
after breakfast, and here I sit with half the day gone

SAM: You mind if I ask a few questions about your husband? Roderick?

MINNIE: I won't say nothing bad about the man, but you can ask away.

SAM: He had the club out on the old trail road -

MINNIE: We run that twenty-odd years. Give it over to Otis Payne in 1967. April.

SAM: So you must remember Sheriff Wade.

MINNIE: Not if I can help it.

SAM: You had to deal with him in running the club.

MINNIE: Them days, you deal with Sheriff Wade or you didn't deal at all. First of the month, every month, he remind you of who you really workin' for.

SAM: He squeezed money out of you?

MINNIE: Wasn't legal to sell liquor in a glass back then unless you was a club, see. Roderick used to say, 'Buy yourself a drink, you get a free membership.' But Sheriff Wade, he could shut you down anytime.

SAM: And my father?

MINNIE: Sheriff Buddy was a different story. Long as Roderick throw his weight the right way on election day, make sure all the colored get out to vote -we was called colored back then, if you was polite- maybe throw a barbecue for the right people now and then, things was peaceful. That Sheriff Wade, though, he took an awful big bite.

SAM: People didn't complain?

MINNIE: Not if they was colored or Meskin. Not if they wanted to keep breathin'.

SAM: Do you remember the last time you saw him?

Minnie thinks, puts down the Gameboy.

MINNIE: I seen him in our place the last week before he gone missin'.

We track in to a CU of her. R & B music fades up slowly.

MINNIE: He used to come in whilst we was in full swing, make people nervous. Had him a smile like the Grim Reaper -



The joint is crowded, people drinking, talking, laughing, a few dancing, all trying to avoid locking eyes with Sheriff Wade, who sits with his legs stretched out at a table. Young Hollis sits by him, smiling uncomfortably. Sax-wailing R & B blasts from the jukebox. Young Otis, a slick, confident character with straightened hair and a silk shin on, in his early twenties, stops to talk with a Man on his way to bring a tray with a couple beers and glasses over.

MINNIE: (voice-over) - just sit back with his hand on that big ol' gun and act the kingfish with everybody. Otis Payne had come to work for us by then, and that boy had him some attitude -

CU: Wade watching Young Otis with narrowed eyes.

CU: Wade's POV- Otis.

A Man puts a slip of paper in Otis's pocket, pats his back. Otis winks to acknowledge the bet, turns, makes eyes at a Pretty Woman sitting at the bar, who is eyeing him back. He lays the beers and glasses on the table, starts away.

WADE: Pour it.

Otis turns, cups his hand around his ear.

WADE: Pour it.

Expressionless, he starts to pour the beer into Wade's glass. The Sheriff looks up into his face.

WADE: I know you?

YOUNG OTIS Name's Otis.

WADE: Otis what?


WADE: One of Cleroe Payne's boys?


WADE: I sent your Daddy to the farm once.

YOUNG OTIS: I know that.

WADE: Why you think that was?

Otis feels people watching. He doesn't want to lose face.

YOUNG OTIS: Some crop needed pickin' and the man was shorthanded.

A very insolent answer for the time and place.

WADE: As I remember it was because he had a sassy mouth on him. Must run in the family. You wouldn't be runnin' numbers out of this club, now, would you, son?

YOUNG OTIS: Runnin' numbers illegal.

WADE: Runnin' numbers without I know about it is both illegal and unhealthy. You remember that.

The beer is poured. Otis starts away.

WADE: Whoah, son. You're not finished. Pour his.

YOUNG HOLLIS: I prefer it in the bottle -

WADE: Shut up, Hollis. Pour.

Otis meets Wade's look now, pours the other beer.

WADE: How come you don't look familiar?

YOUNG OTIS: Been away. Up to Houston.

WADE: Houston, huh? I hear they let you boys run wild up there.

No response. Wade deliberately pushes the glass away so beer splashes on the table and drips into Hollis's lap.

WADE: Aw - look what you done now. Better get something to wipe it up, son.

Half the people in the room are watching now, the other half moving away to relative safety. Otis tries to keep a lid on his temper, looks around the room.

YOUNG OTIS: You spilt it, you wipe it up.

Wade stands, steely-eyed, and looks at Otis nose to nose.

WADE: I told you to do something. Are you gonna hop to it, or are we gonna have a problem?

Otis is starting to shake, but holds his ground.

WADE: Don't want to turn tail in front of your people. I understand.

He starts to turn away then whap! brings the butt of his pistol up under Otis's chin, knocking him to the floor. A Woman screams and Otis, enraged, grabs the chair he has fallen over, starts to get up - but Wade has the pistol leveled at his face.

WADE: Come on, Houston, give it a try! Come to Poppa -

Roderick is out on the floor now, hands held out in a gesture of peace, as Young Minnie watches from behind the bar, petrified.

RODERICK: Don't mind him, Sheriff. Boy's just a bit slow, is all. He don't mean nothin' by it -

WADE: That the problem, son? You slow?

RODERICK: Otis, apologize to the Sheriff -

Otis eases the chair down but doesn't say anything.

RODERICK: You got him too scared to peep, Sheriff. Maybe if you put that gun up-

WADE: You telling me what to do, Roderick?

RODERICK: No, Sheriff, I'm just -

Wade looks around, widens his eyes in mock surprise.

WADE: What's this I see? Is that whiskey in them glasses on the bar? Roderick, I'm gonna have to cite you for a violation of State law -

RODERICK: This is a club, Sheriff – you been in here -

WADE: All you people better clear out of here! Now!

A few people start for the exit. Wade swivels and blam! sends a bullet past Minnie that shatters a crystal decanter behind the bar. People run for the door. Wade squats down to look Otis in the face.

CU: Wade.

WADE: You learn how to act your place, son. This isn't Houston.

He stands and we follow him toward the bar.

OTIS: (voice-over) Course I was young and full of beans then -

The camera passes Wade and instead of Minnie there stands Otis, in the present day, reminiscing. We are back in ',ç.

OTIS: - didn't understand the spot I was putting Roderick in.

SAM: And that was the last time you saw him?

We shift to see Sam sitting where Wade was headed.

OTIS: Oh - I think he came in one more time with Hollis and naw, your Daddy wasn't with them. Made their monthly pickup. Roderick wasn't in so I just kept my mouth good and shut and handed over that envelope.

SAM: That was the night he disappeared?

OTIS: (shakes his head) Could of been. That was white people's business.

SAM: And when my father was Sheriff?

OTIS: What about it?

SAM: What was your deal with him?

Otis smiles, chooses his worth carefully

OTIS: Buddy was more a part of the big picture - county political machine, chamber of commerce, zoning board - if I kept those people happy, he was pretty much on my side. (smiles) Whenever somebody thought they start up another bar for the black folks, they'd be - how should I put this? They'd be officially discouraged.

SAM: He ever accept cash for a favor?

Otis smiles, looks away to ponder his response.

OTIS: I don't recall a prisoner ever died in your father's custody. I don't recall a man in this town - black, white, Mexican who'd hesitate a minute before they'd call on Buddy Deeds to solve a problem. More than that I wouldn't like to say.


Pilar drives Amado and her daughter Paloma home.

AMADO: If you had your way I wouldn't have any friends.

PILAR: Oh, come on, Amado -

AMADO: Just 'cause I'm not like Little Miss Honor Roll here

PILAR: Leave your sister out of it.

AMADO: You and all of the teachers in this dump - your story's over, so you don't want anybody else to have fun.

We see on Pilar's face that this has scored.

PALOMA: You jerk -

AMADO: I'm not talking to you. You don't have any friends.

Pilar eases the car down San Jacinto Street, seeing something on the street and tuning her kids' conversation out.

PALOMA: Who'd want to be friends with that bunch of pachuco wannabes?

AMADO: I don't pretend I came over on the Mayflower.

PALOMA: And those stupid girls who hang out with them -

AMADO: Just shut up.

Pilar's POV: Sam. Sam walks on the sidewalk parallel to them, talking with three other Men.

PALOMA: (off-screen) Joanie Orozco's telling the whole school she's like desperately in love with Santo Guerra.

AMADO: (off-screen) So?

PALOMA: (off-screen) It's pathetic. You can't be desperately in love when you're fourteen years old.

Pilar is still looking fixedly out the window.

PALOMA: Not if you have half a brain in your head.

PILAR: Of course you can.


PILAR: It doesn't have anything to do with being smart.


Danny Padilla is arguing with H. L. Briggs, a construction company big shot, and Jorge Guerra, a Council member in his forties, and Sam, as they walk down the sidewalk of the main street.

JORGE: What I'm saying is, I don't see the point. You had your chance when the dedication committee was meeting -

DANNY: I've got new information -

H. L.: It's ancient goddam history, Danny -

DANNY: 1963, they dam up the north branch to make Lake Pescadero. A whole little town disappears -

H. L.: A squatter town -

DANNY: People had been living in Perdido for over a hundred years. Mexicans and Chicanos are deported, evicted, moved forcibly out of their houses by our local hero, Buddy Deeds, and his department -

JORGE: There was a bill from the State Legislature -

DANNY: Families were split apart, a whole community was destroyed -

H. L.: They were trespassing, Danny

DANNY: - and who ends up with lakefront property bought for a fraction of the market price? Buddy Deeds, Sheriff of Rio County, and his Chief Deputy, Hollis Pogue

They all look at Sam, who has been listening patiently the whole while. They've reached his office.

DEL: How many B-average students do you think they take at West Point?

CELIE: (off-screen) Well, we're stuck here for three years, we're going to have to see him -

DEL: No, we don't.

Del steps away past us, leaving Chet, defeated.


We start on Enrique, talking surreptitiously on the pay phone on the way to the kitchen.

ENRIQUE: Sabado por la noche - Si, es el mas seguro - Voy a cruzar per la mañana, y pues tendremos que esperar - [Friday night - Yes, that's the safest - I'll cross in the morning and then we'll have to wait -]

Mercedes bustles by, snapping her fingers.

MERCEDES: Off the phone, Enrique, we've got people waiting. Andale!

We follow Mercedes back into the kitchen, where she moves through, kibbitzing the operation.

WAITRESS: (off-screen) Necesito las chuletas! [I need pork chops!]

COOK: (off-screen) Listos! (Ready!]

Mercedes stops by a Young Girl prepping a pork loin to be cooked. She isn't wearing gloves.

MERCEDES: Dónde estan sus guantes? Tonta! Quiere matar a mis clientes? [Where are your gloves? Stupid! You want to kill my customers?]

She continues past, shaking her head, bringing us to Pilar, who is trying to stay out of the way.

MERCEDES: These ones coming up are getting stupider every year.

PILAR: Maybe you're just getting less patient.

MERCEDES: If they're going to survive here, they have to know how to work. Flaco! Adelante! Los clientes esperan!

PILAR: Well, you hire illegals -

MERCEDES: (indignant) Nobody is illegal in my café! They've got green cards, they've got relatives who were born here - if they only had a little common sense I'd be very happy.

PILAR: If you spent a little more time training them -

MERCEDES: Did you come here to tell me how to run my business?

PILAR: No. I was wondering if you'd like to take a trip down south with us. Maybe see where you grew up -

MERCEDES: Why would I want to go there?

PILAR: Oh, come on - you must be curious how it's changed. Amado is into this big Tejano roots thing and I've never been further than Ciudad Leon -

MERCEDES: You want to see Mexicans, open your eyes and look around you. We're up to our ears in them.

Pilar gives up on the trip. She watches her mother poking at the plates of chips and salsa ready to go out.

PILAR: Mami, how old were you when my father -

MERCEDES: He was killed.

PILAR: Right. When he was killed.

MERCEDES: A little older than Paloma is now.

PILAR: How come you never got married again?

Mercedes just glares at her.

PILAR: There must have been somebody.

MERCEDES: (mutters) I was too busy.

PILAR: Nobody's too busy.

MERCEDES: Maybe now. It was different back then. I had this place, I was doing all the shopping, all the cooking - what do I need some chub with grease under his nails to drink up the profit?

PILAR: (pissed off) Thank you.MERCEDES: I don't mean Fernando.

PILAR: Mami, the first time I brought him home, those were your exact words -'some chub with grease under his nails' -

MERCEDES: I never said that.

PILAR: You made it pretty damn clear you thought he was nobody.

MERCEDES: I felt that you could do better for yourself -

PILAR: What? Become a nun? You didn't want me going out with Anglos -

MERCEDES: I never said that. It was just that boy -

PILAR: 'That boy' - Mami, say his name for chrissakes!

The Employees are staring. Mercedes won't look at her daughter as she steps out of the kitchen, banging into Enrique on his way back in.

MERCEDES: You people are stealing my money - Entiende? Robandome!

Mercedes is gone. The Young Girl, pulling plastic gloves on, looks to Pilar.

GIRL: Su madre? [Your mother?]


The Girl puts her hand on her heart in sympathy.

GIRL: Lo siento. [My condolences.]


A crowded room. C & W music plays on the box. Sam sits behind a bottle of beer as the bartender, Cody, in his early fifties, philosophizes.

CODY: Now I'm just as liberal as the next guy-

SAM: If the next guy's a redneck.

CODY: - but I gotta say I think there's something to this cold climate business. I mean, you go to the beach - what do you do? Drink a few beers, wait for a fish to flop up on the sand. Can't build no civilization that way. You got a hard winter coming, though, you got to plan ahead, and that gives your cerebral cortex a workout.

SAM: Good deal you were born down here, then.

CODY: You joke about it, Sam, but we are in a state of crisis. The lines of demarcation has gotten fuzzy - to run a successful civilization you got to have lines of demarcation between right and wrong, between this one and that one - your Daddy understood that. He was like the whatchacallit - the referee for this damn menudo we got down here. He understood how most people don't want their sugar and salt in the same jar.

SAM: You mixed drinks bad as you mix metaphors, you be out of a job.

CODY: Take that pair over in the corner -

Sam swivels to look where Cody points.

CODY: Place like this, twenty years ago. Buddy woulda been on them two -

Sam's P0V. corner booth. Cliff and Priscilla talk across the table.

CODY: (off-screen) He would of went over there and give them a warning. Not
'cause he had it in for the colored -

On Sam and Cody.

CODY: - but just as a kind of safety tip.

SAM: Yeah. I bet he would.

CODY: Old Sam stood for somethin', you know? The day that man died they broke the goddam mold.

On booth - Cliff and Priscilla. Things are obviously more than professional between these two.

PRISCILLA: So where does that put us?

CLIFF: Well - I don't see what's changed. No PDAs, no necking on the obstacle course -

PRISCILLA: Seriously.

house, Wade ran into Buddy Deeds. I think Buddy put a bullet in him, waited for him to die, threw him in the trunk of the Sheriff's car and drove him out by the Army post. I think he buried him under four feet of sand and never looked back.

Hollis sits back to look Sam in the eye.

HOLLIS: You lived in the man's house what - seventeen, eighteen years? And you didn't get to know him any better than that?

SAM: I got to go see somebody in San Antonio today. Your memory gets any better, I'll be back tonight

Sam stands and walks away. We hold on Hollis, his appetite gone.


Chet steps around to the side entrance.


CU. statue of a buffalo soldier made from spent bullets and shell casings, then pan to another, then widen to see Chet as he pokes his head in, bell of the door ringing. He steps in cautiously, looking around the room. On the walls there are photo-blowups, some artifacts, hand-lettered information on cardboard. Chet stops to look up at a picture of a bare-chested black man with a couple of feathers stuck in his headband.

OTIS: (off-screen) That's John Horse.

Chet turns to see Otis standing back by the door from the bar.

Spanish in Florida called him Juan Caballo. John Horse.

CHET: (looks at picture) He a black man or an Indian?

OTIS: (steps in) Both.

Otis crosses to the poker table, begins to clean up.

OTIS: He was part of the Seminole Nation, got pushed down into the Everglades in pioneer days. African people who run off from the slaveholders hooked up with them, married up, had children. When the Spanish give up Florida, the US Army come down to move all them Indian peoples off to Oklahoma -

CHET: The Trail of Tears

OTIS: (smiles) They teaching that now? Good. Only a couple of 'em held out - this man, John Horse, and his friend Wild Cat, and a fella name of Osceola. Army put all of them in prison and Osceola died, but them other two escaped and put together a fighting band and held out another ten, fifteen years. Beat Zach Taylor and a thousand troops at Lake Okeechobee.

CHET: So they stayed in Florida?

OTIS: They got tired of fighting, went to the Indian Territories for a while. But the slave-raiders were on 'em even there, and one night they packed up and nearly the whole band rode down to Mexico. Crossed at Eagle Pass.

They move on to some photos of very African-looking people dresses in beautiful Seminole clothing.

OTIS: Men worked for Santa Anna down there, waited out the Civil War. The land wasn't much to feed people on, so in 1870 they come north and put up at Fort Duncan and the men joined up what was called the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts. Best trackers either side of the border. Bandits, rustlers, Texas rednecks, Kiowa, Comanche.

CHET: They fought against the Indians?

OTIS: Same as they done in Mexico.

CHET: But they were Indians themselves.

OTIS: They were in the Army. Like your father.

CHET: (surprised) You know who I am?

OTIS: I got a pretty good guess.

CHET: That guy who got shot -

OTIS: You didn't go telling your father you were here?

CHET: Are you kidding? And face a court-martial?

OTIS: (smiles) He's a pretty tough old man, huh?

CHET: No sports if I don't keep a B average, no TV on school nights, no PDAs -


CHET: Public Display of Affection. Every time he moves up a rank,
it's like he's got to tighten the screws a little more -

OTIS: Well -

CHET: I mean, just 'cause he didn't - you know -

OTIS: Didn't have a father?

CHET: (shrugs) He's still pissed off about it.

OTIS: When you're his age you'll still be pissed off about him

Chet nods, looks around.

CHET: So how come you got into all this?

OTIS: These are our people- There were Paynes in Florida,
Oklahoma, Piedras Negras - couple of'em won the whatsit -
Congressional Medal of Honor -

CHET: So I'm part-Indian?

OTIS: By blood you are. But blood only means what you let it.

CHET: My father says the day you're born you start from scratch, no breaks and no excuses, and you got to pull yourself up on your own.

OTIS: (sad) Well, he's living proof of that, son. Living proof.


Athena stands at attention as Del sits at his desk, reviewing her record. He lets her stand for a long time before speaking.

DEL: Private Johnson, are you unhappy in the Army?

ATHENA: No, Sir.

DEL: Then how would you explain the fact that out of one hundred twenty people we tested, you're the only one who came up positive for drugs?

ATHENA: I'm sorry, sir.

DEL: When you were given the opportunity to enlist, a kind of contract was agreed upon. I think the Army has honored its part of that agreement -

ATHENA: Yes, Sir

DEL: Do you believe in what we're doing here, Private Johnson?

ATHENA: I – I can do the job, sir.

DEL: You don't sound too enthusiastic.

ATHENA: I am, sir.

DEL: What exactly do you think your job is, Private?

ATHENA: Follow orders. Do whatever they say.

DEL: Who's 'they'?

ATHENA: The - the officers.

DEL: And that's the job? Nothing about serving your country -

Athena is confused, hesitates to speak.

DEL: These aren't trick questions, Private. You'll be given an Article 55 and be going into the ADCAP Program one way or the other. What happens after that is up to you. I'm just trying to understand how somebody like you thinks. (silence)

DEL: Well? -

ATHENA: (hesitant) You really want to know, sir?

DEL: Please.

ATHENA: It's their country. This is one of the best deals they offer.

Del knows he asked for it, but doesn't like the answer.

DEL: How do you think I got to be a colonel?

ATHENA: Work hard, be good at your job. Sir. Do whatever they tell you.

DEL: Do whatever they tell you -

ATHENA: I mean, follow orders, sir.

DEL: With your attitude, Private, I'm surprised you want to stay in the service.

ATHENA: I do, sir.

DEL: Because it's a job?

ATHENA: (struggling) Outside it's - it's such a mess - it's -

DEL: Chaos.

Athena is sure she's overstepped her rank.

DEL: Why do you think they let us in on the 'deal'?

ATHENA: They got people to fight. Arabs, yellow people, whatever. Might as well use us.

DEL: Do you think you've been discriminated against on this post?

ATHENA: No, sir. Not at all.

DEL: Any serious problems with your sergeant or your fellow soldiers?

ATHENA: No, sir. They all been real straight with me.

Del stands, thinking, trying not to bullshit her.

DEL: It works like this, Private - every soldier in a war doesn't have to believe in what he's fighting for. Most of them fight just to back up the soldiers in their squad - you try not to get them killed, try not to get them extra duty, try not to embarrass yourself in front of them.

He is right in her face now.

DEL: Why don't you start with that?

ATHENA: Yes, sir.

DEL: You're dismissed, Private.

ATHENA: Thank you, sir.

Athena salutes, steps out. Del looks out the window, troubled by the encounter.


A battered car full of Mexican Day Workers rolls toward the Mexican-side checkpoint.


Enrique sits squeezed between Workers in the back. The Driver never stops talking as the Officer waves them through.

DRIVER: (off-screen) -Julia es demasiado flaca para mi - me gusto mas mujeres con algo en frente - o muy altas como Cindy Crofor. Quisiera montar esa caballa - [Julia's too skinny for me - I like women with something up front - or really tall like Cindy Crawford. I'd like to ride that horse -]


Sam's car it parked on the Street in front of an expensive-looking house in a tree-lined neighborhood.


Sam's ex-wife, Bunny Kincaid, shuffles across her living room in slippers, crossing to turn off a big-screen TV playing football highlights. Bunny wears shorts, a Houston Oilers sweatshirt and a Dallas Cowboys cap. The living room is like a sports museum - signed footballs, team posters, a bookcase filled with tapes of Texas pro and college football games.

BUNNY: The Longhorns gonna kick some serious bun this Saturday, you just watch. We got a kid at tailback from down your way - outta El Indio -

SAM: (off-screen) That's in Maverick County.

She brings us to Sam, sitting uncomfortably beneath a full-sized blowup of Tony Dorsett hurdling a tackler.

BUNNY: Oh. Right. And you're in -?

SAM: Rio.

BUNNY: Right. This kid, Hosea Brown? Does the 40 in 3.4, soft hands, lateral movement - the whole package. Only a sophomore -

SAM: You still going to all the home games?

BUNNY: Well, Daddy's got his box at the stadium, of course, and I'll fly to the Cowboy away games when they're in the Conference. Then there's the high school on Friday nights - West Side got a boy 6'6", 310, moves like a cat. High school, we're talkin'. Guess how much he can bench-press?

SAM: Bunny, you - uhm - you on that same medication?

BUNNY: Do I seem jumpy?

SAM: No, no - you look good. I was just wondering.

BUNNY: Last year was awful rough - Mama passing on and the whole business with OJ - I mean it's not like it was Don Meredith or Roger Staubach or one of our own boys, but it really knocked me for a loop -

SAM: You look good -

BUNNY: - and that squeaker the Aggies dropped to Oklahoma -sonofabitch stepped in some lucky shit before he kicked that goal -

SAM: Yeah, well -

BUNNY: - they hadn't pulled me off that woman I would have jerked a knot in her.

SAM: You were in a fight -

BUNNY: Daddy calls it an 'altercation-' How you doing, Sam? You look skinny.

SAM: Same weight I always was

BUNNY: You look awful good in that uniform, though.

SAM: Best part of the job.

BUNNY: Daddy hired a pinhead to take your job. He says so himself. Says 'Even my son-in-law was better than this pinhead I got now.'

SAM: Bunny, is that stuff I left in the garage still there?

BUNNY: Least he never called me that. With me, it was always 'high-strung.' 'My Bunny might have done something with her life, she wasn't so high-strung.' Or 'tightly wound,' that was another one. You seeing anyone?

SAM: No. You?

BUNNY: Yeah. Sort of. Daddy rounds 'em up. You aren't talking about money, their beady little eyes go dead.

SAM: You didn't - uhm - you didn't have one of your fires, did you? The stuff I left in the garage - some of it was my father's -

BUNNY: You watch the draft this year? 'Course you didn't, idiot question. They try to make it dramatic, like there's some big surprise who picks who in the first round? Only they been working it over with their experts and their computers for months. Doctor's reports, highlight reels, coaches' evaluations, psychological profiles -hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they collected stool samples on these boys, have 'em analysed. All this stuff to pick a football player for your squad. Compared to that, what you know about the person you get married to don't amount to diddly, does it?

SAM: Suppose not.

BUNNY: You kind of bought yourself a pig in a poke, didn't you, Sam? All that time we were first seeing each other you didn't know I was tightly wound -

SAM: It wasn't just you, Bunny.

BUNNY: No, it wasn't, was it? You didn't exactly throw yourself into it heart and soul, did you?

She looks at him for an uncomfortably long moment.

BUNNY: Your shit's still in the garage if that's what you came for.

Sam nods, stands. Bunny is in tears.

BUNNY: 350 pounds.

SAM: What?


BUNNY: This boy from West Side, plays tackle both ways. Bench presses 350 pounds. You imagine having that much weight on top of you? Pushing down? Be hard to breathe. Hard to swallow.

SAM: I think they have another fella there to keep it off your chest. A spotter.

BUNNY: I only got my little girl now,' he says, 'she's my lifeline.' Then he tells me I can't be in the box anymore if I can't control myself. Sonofabitch don't even watch the damn game, just sits there drinking with his bidness friends, look up at the TV now and then. I do better to sit in the cheap seats with some real football people.

SAM: (edging out) You look good, Bunny. It's nice to see you.

BUNNY: (smiles) Thanks. I like it when you say that, Sam.


Enrique looks nervously over his shoulder before stepping into a funky apartment building. We tilt up to the second-floor balcony, where a Little Boy is watching the street.


There are eight People not including the Little Boy on the balcony. All are securing their possessions - rolling things in blankets, filling shopping bags and grain sacks. Enrique steps in.

ENRIQUE: Todos estamos? [Everybody here?]

Anselma reaches up from the floor to take his hand.

ANSELMA: Van a disparar a nosotros? [Are they going to shoot at us?]

ENRIQUE: Nadie nos veran. Seramos invisibles.[Nobody’s going to see us. We'll be invisible.]


Amess. We start on a campaign poster with Sam's face on it and the
legend: 'ONE GOOD DEEDS DESERVES ANOTHER - VOTE SAM DEEDS FOR COUNTY SHERIFF.' We pan to see Sam, who has been digging through piles of old junk, set down the box he was looking for.

Sam pulls out an old holster, a sheaf of real estate and insurance forms, couple of old paperback Zone Grey Westerns. He pulls out a cracked leather pouch, turns it over- letters fall out. He examines an envelope - no stamp or postmark - pulls a letter out, reads:

SAM: ‘Dearest Buddy-‘

He puts the letter down for a moment, thinks. He needs to know. He picks up the letter again, reads.


Carolyn crosses the living room to answer the ring at the front door. Del stands there.

CAROLYN: Hey, it's the General.

DEL: Colonel. Is uhm - is Otis in?

CAROLYN: Come on in -

DEL: If it's too late -

CAROLYN: Come on in.

Del enters the house as if walking into an ambush.


Carolyn sits back in the couch, drink in hand, checking Del out.

CAROLYN: Otis sittin' up with some people at the club. I don't think he'll belong.

CU: Del, uncomfortable, sitting at the edge of an easy chair. He looks at a mounted magazine photo of Otis smiling as he pours hot sauce on a rack of ribs.

CAROLYN: His hot sauce recipe won a contest last year. They sellin' it far away as San Antonio He got a lot of talent, your father.

Del squirms a bit at the word 'father'.

DEL: You've been in this house for a while?

CAROLYN: I been here with him eight years now. He built it when he was with Leora.

DEL: I never met her.

CAROLYN: There was a bunch of 'em you never met. Me neither.

Del looks around the living room.

CAROLYN: Let me show you around -


A blowup of a photo of a squad of buffalo soldiers is mounted on the wall.

CAROLYN: (off-screen) He got into all this cowboys and Indians stuff a while back. Spend half his time pokin' around in the library way up to Austin.

CU: Del. He looks at something below.

Del's P0V - clippings.

We pan slowly over laminated newspaper clippings mounted behind a picture of young Del in a track uniform, holding a vaulting pole. The clippings are about Del making honor rolls, winning a Silver Star in Vietnam, graduating from Officer Candidate School, being named head of this and that in the Army.

CAROLYN: (off-screen) Kind of like a shrine, isn't it?

Carolyn stands behind, watching Del's face as he looks at the stuff.

DEL: Where'd he get all this?

CAROLYN: Your mother got a brother- Alphonse -

DEL: Uncle Al -

CAROLYN: Otis stood on good terms with the man. Whenever you do something makes the news, he sends it on - When they made you General, Otis just about drove away all our customers going on about it.

DEL: I'm a colonel.

CAROLYN: Yeah, I know. Man made me memorize the whole damn Army chain of command before he'd marry me. So this is a big deal, commander and all?

DEL: It's a small post and they're phasing it out in two years, but I moved up in rank and - well, a command is a command.

CAROLYN: Otis went on like you were that guy who won the Gulf War. Colin whatsit.

DEL: My mother said he never asked about-

CAROLYN: He never asked her.

It's a bit too much for Del.

DEL: Listen, I uh - tell him I came by. Thanks -

We hold on Carolyn as he hurries out. She salutes.

CAROLYN: Catch you later, Colonel.


People, crouching low, wade across the river toward its. When he gets close enough to its, we recognize Enrique, nervously leading a group of Mexican Men, Women and Children to the US side. They are spaced out in the dark, loosely holding the line Enrique made in one hand and holding their bundles high away from the water with the other. Enrique turns as he hears a Woman's cry. The line goes slack, then Nestor steps out of the darkness to join him.

ENRIQUE: Qué paso? [What happened?]

NESTOR: Anselma cayo en las rocas. Creo que la pierna ha sido roto -
[Anselma fell on the rocks. I think her leg's broken -]

Two Men struggle forward, supporting Anselma, trying to hold her leg out straight in front of her. She is in a lot of pain.

NESTOR: No podemos alcanzar el camion llevando a ella. Hay lugar para esconderla? [We can't reach the truck if we're carrying her. Is there somewhere to hide her?]

Enrique thinks, trying not to panic, as the others come up around him.

ENRIQUE: Conozco solamente una persona con casa - [I only know one person with a house-]

ANSELMA: (in pain) Esta lejos? [Is it far?]


Mercedes sits on her recliner, drink in hand. An old record plays from inside. She is startled by the voice from the dark.

ENRIQUE: (off-screen) Señora Cruz?

MERCEDES: (standing) Quien es? [Who is it?]

ENRIQUE: Soy yo, Enrique. No tiene miedo - [It's me, Enrique Don't be afraid -]

Enrique steps out into the light. His pants are wet and he's scared.

MERCEDES: What are you doing out there? Are you crazy?

ENRIQUE: Ha pasado un accidente muy grave- [There's been a bad
accident -]

MERCEDES: In English, Enrique. We're in the United States -

ENRIQUE: I have some friends who have had a accident -

MERCEDES: You have somebody else out there?

ENRIQUE: We was by the river? And I hear my friend callin' for help,
and I look and she has falling in the water -

MERCEDES: Don't tell me lies, Enrique. Qué paso?

ENRIQUE: We was crossin' the river -

Nestor appears in the light now, supporting Anselma, who hops awkwardly to move forward.

MERCEDES: Enrique! Quienes son estos? How could you bring them here?

ENRIQUE: They need help. Jaime, Anselma - esta as, mi jefa -

NESTOR: Señora -

MERCEDES: I'll call the Border Patrol, they'll get her to the hospital.

ENRIQUE: No! No puede hacer esto - [You can't do that -]

MERCEDES: You think you're doing these people a favor? 'What are they going to do? Either they get on welfare or they become criminals -

ENRIQUE: No es la verdad - [That isn't true -]

NESTOR: Con permiso, Señora, la muchacha tiene mucho dolor - [Please, Señora, the girl is in a lot of pain-]

Mercedes grudgingly indicates the lounge chair.

MERCEDES: Siéntase. [Sit.]

NESTOR: Es muy amable. [You're very kind.]

He and Enrique help Anselma into the chair. The girl looks up at Mercedes, frightened.

ANSELMA: Ayudanos, Señora, por favor. No podemos regresar - [Help us, Señora, please. We can't go back -]

Mercedes looks at Anselma disapprovingly. The girl can't be more than fourteen.

MERCEDES: This girl is a friend of yours?

ENRIQUE: Es mi novia. [She's my girlfriend]

MERCEDES: I thought you were married!

ENRIQUE: I am marry to the cousin of a friend - but only to be able to live here. This is the mother of my child -

MERCEDES: This girl has a child?

ENRIQUE: We have a daughter.

MERCEDES: (scornful) Tipico.


Sam stands at the front door of a house on the lake, banging on the door.

SAM: Hollis? You in there? Hollis?


Moonlight kicks off the surface of the water. We hear splashing, the frightened voice of a young woman.

YOUNG MERCEDES: (off-screen): Donde esta? Estoy perdido - [Where are you? I'm lost-]

ELADIO: (off-screen; distant) Aqui! [Here!]

The girl flounders into the shot, wet and scared. Young Mercedes, a teenager not unlike Anselma, is wading thigh-deep in the Rio, lost, scared.

YOUNG MERCEDES: No puedo ver la orilla! [I can't see the bank!]

ELADIO: (off-screen) Aqui! Venga por aqui! [Over here! Come this way!]

Mercedes struggles toward the voice and suddenly a young man becomes visible, standing in the water, holding his hand out for her: Eladio.

YOUNG MERCEDES: Vi a Rosaria arastrado para el corriente - [I saw Rosaria taken away by the current -]

ELADIO: No te molestas. Tenemos a ella. [Don't worry- We've got her.]

He takes her am, pulls her toward the far shore.

ELADIO: Cómo se llama? [What's your name?]

YOUNG MERCEDES: Mercedes Gonzales Ruiz.

ELADIO: (smiles) Me llamo Eladio Cruz. Bienvenido a Tejas. [Welcome to Texas.]



Mercedes is lost in thought as she recalls. She steps into the light by the carport. Enrique and Nestor are propping Anselma's leg up on pillows in the back of Mercedes's old station wagon

MERCEDES: Rápidamente! Everybody in the world is going to see!

ENRIQUE: Dónde vamos? [Where are we going?]

MERCEDES: A casa de Porfirio Zayas. He used to be a doctor on the other
side. Gunshot wounds, fixing babies - if you can pay he can handle it.

ENRIQUE: Señora, anything it costs, I can work -

MERCEDES: Don't worry about it. He owes me some favors.

Enrique turns to Anselma, still frightened in the rear of the station wagon.

ENRIQUE: Seas tranquila, mija.

ENRIGQUE: (nods to Mercedes) Estamos en las manos de Señora Cruz. [Just relax, honey. We're in the hands of Señora Cruz.)

Mercedes starts the car.

MERCEDES: In English, Enrique. In English -


Del steps in. Chet sits at the table, drawing a cartoon in panels. Del looks over his shoulder for a moment.

Cartoon of tank rolling over barbed wire, cannon and machine-gun blasting away.

DEL: (off-screen) Homework?

Del and Chet.

CHET: I finished that. I'm just messing around.

DEL: Tanks, huh?

CHET: You got to be in the Army, you might as well have something slick to drive.

DEL: So you're going into the Army?

Chet looks at him, not in a good mood, then goes back to his drawing.

CHET: That's the general plan, isn't it?

Del watches for a long moment, thinking.

DEL: (softly) That's up to you.

Chet looks at his father again. This is news to him.

DEL: The Army isn't for everybody.

Chet can't quite believe he's hearing this. Del crosses to the refrigerator.

DEL: Not that I don't think you'd be good at it, but - you know - I wouldn't be disappointed if you decided to do something else with your life.

CHET: You wouldn't?

DEL: No.

Chet nods, begins to play again, considering the possibilities. Del is making an effort and he doesn't have much practice.

DEL: How's your room shaping up?

CHET: Fine. I'm pretty much moved in.

DEL: Good.

An awkward silence.

CHET: (tentative) Are we going to ever see your father?

DEL: My father.

CHET: Yeah. He lives here, right?

DEL: He does.

Del pulls out some food, watching Chet as he draws.

DEL: Maybe we'll clean that thing out back up, have a barbecue next weekend. We could invite him and his wife over.

CHET: Cool.

Chet flips the page of his sketchbook.

CHET: He makes his own sauce.


The neon's off, but there are a couple cars in the lot and a light within. Sam pulls into the lot, steps out, approaches the door.


The door opens. The place is empty now except for Otis, standing behind the bar, deep in conversation with Hollis, sitting on a stool. Both swivel to look around guiltily as they hear Sam step in.

Reverse: Sam walks in slowly, crossing the floor to bring us back to the two men.

SAM: Fellas.

HOLLIS: Hey, Sam.

SAM: Open late.

OTIS: I'm not open. We were just talking

SAM: Hollis probably told you we found Charley Wade.

OTIS: Yeah. How about that? People start digging holes in this county, there's no telling what'll come up.

He sits a few stools away from Hollis.

SAM: You two saw it, didn't you? You two saw it when Buddy killed him.

Hollis and Otis look at each other.

SAM: I'm gonna find out one way or the other.

HOLLIS: Your father had the finest sense of justice of any man ever met -

SAM: Yeah, and my mother was a saint. For fifteen years the whole damn town knew he had another woman on the side. Stole ten thousand dollars to set her up in business. But hell, what's that? You got a problem? Buddy'll fix it. Facing some time in jail? Buddy'll knock half of it off- if you do what he says, when he says. You got some business that's not exactly legal? Talk to Buddy -

HOLLIS: Buddy Deeds -

SAM: Buddy Deeds was a murderer.

He looks at the two older men for a long moment.

SAM: That night in the café - he didn't stay long after you left, did he, Hollis? Maybe he decided he'd gone too far with Wade, maybe he figured he better not wait for the Sheriff to get behind him. So he stepped out to see if he could catch up - and you were here at the club that night, weren't you, O?

Otis sighs, begins to speak softly.

OTIS: I was here.

CU: Otis. He turns to look toward the door as he reminisces, and we pan away with his gaze.

OTIS: I'd been running a game on the side after hours - craps, draw poker on the weekends. Roderick didn't know about it. More important, Charley Wade didn't know about it, 'cause I didn't want to cut him in. I suppose I'd been drinking some, and I was pretty full of myself in those days - but hell, I just didn't expect the man so early -

Sheriff Wade and Young Hollis step in the door and we are back in 1957.

Blues harmonica fades up, wailing from the jukebox. They stop and look at the place.

Their P0V - club. Music continues. The club is empty, dark. A light shines from the back room.


Music continues. Smoke fills the air and Young Otis sits back laughing, a large pile of money on the table in front of him. The other four black Men at the table aren't doing so well. One by one they all look up past the camera to the door.

CU: Otis. Music continues. Young Otis doesn't see at first, engaged in dealing the cards. Finally, he senses the presence, looks up.

Young Otis's P0V Wade and Hollis. Music continues. Wade stands over the table in the foreground, Young Hollis hanging back in the doorway. Wade is smiling his cold smile, cursing.

CU: Young Otis. Music continues. Otis is trying to look unimpressed.

Extreme CU: Wade' eyes, cold and unblinking. Music continues.

Extreme CU: Wade's mouth, twisted in a snarl as he curses. Music continues.

On Men, table. Music continues. We shoot past Wade's body as the other Men step away from the table, grab their hats, and hurry out the side door. Young Otis is left sitting at the table. Wade starts walking toward him.

CU: Young Otis. Music continues. His eyes following as Wade comes to stand over him.

On Wade and Young Otis. Music continues. Wade grabs the table and violently jerks it over onto Young Otis, cards and money flying.

On Young Hollis. Music continues. Watching squeamishly as Wade goes to work on Young Otis, the overhead light swinging wildly.


Music continues. Young Otis is hurled out of the back room, face bruised and bleeding- Wade follows, then Young Hollis.

Closer. Music continues. Wade puts his gun next to Young Otis's ear, cursing at him. Young Otis gets to his feet, goes behind the bar.

Bar counter. Music continues. Young Otis slaps an envelope full of cash onto the counter.

On Wade. Music continues. He waves his pistol, indicating something behind Otis.

Music continues. We shoot past Wade at the counter as Otis turns and reaches for a cigar box on the shelf behind.

Cigar box. Music continues. Lying open, an old pistol inside of it. Young Otis reaches.

CU: Young Hollis. Music continues. Frowning as he senses something wrong.

On Wade. Music continues. Wade levels his gun at Young Otis's back, then turns to wink at Hollis like he did before he shot Eladio.

On Wade's hand. Music continues. Finger closing around the trigger of the .45.

On Hollis. Music continues. Mouth open in horror.

On Wade. Music continues. Eyes burning as he aims.

On Buddy. Music continues. Stepping in the door, seeing, calls out.

On Young Otis. Music continues. Turning to see Buddy.

On Wade. Blam! Thwap! A bullet plows through his neck, knocking him back against the bar. Music continues. His gun falls from his hand.

On Young Otis. Horrified, splattered with the Sheriff's blood. Music continues.

Bar counter. Music continues. Twenty-dollar bills have spilled out of the envelope and are soaking up blood.

CU: Buddy. Calm and hard-eyed. Music continues. As he steps forward, we see his pistol in it holster. He reaches out and takes the .45 from Young Hollis’s shaking hand, looks him in the eye till Hollis looks back, then toward Young Otis.

We pan with his gaze to a CU of OTIS, back in the present.

The music fades.

OTIS: Sheriff Charley had some real big friends in politics then, and if the truth come out it wasn't 'going to go easy on Hollis.
OTIS: (shrugs) I don't know why I trusted Buddy with it - don't know why he trusted me. The first time I ever talked with him was right there and then with a dead white man leakin' blood on the floor between us. He could charm the scales off a rattler, Buddy Deeds.

Wider: this isn't what Sam was expecting. Hollis watches his face.

HOLLIS: The three of us cleaned up and took him out by the post and put him under. Can't say I was much help.

SAM: And the ten thousand?

HOLLIS: Widow's benefits. He figured it would make the disappearance look better, and that Mexican gal was just scrapin' by after Charley killed her man. They didn't get hooked up till later -

OTIS: Time went on, people liked the story that we told better than anything the truth might have been.

SAM swirls around on his seat to look at the spot where Charley fell. He had a lot of information to deal with today.

HOLLIS: What "s the call, Sam?

So that's it? You're not going to want to be with me anymore?

Sam knows what he feels but doesn't have the words.

PILAR: I'm not having any more children. After Amado, I had some complications - I can't get pregnant again, if that's what the rule is about -

SAM: If I met you for the first time today, I'd still want to be with you.

It's what Pilar needed to hear.

PILAR: We start from scratch -

SAM: Yeah -

PILAR: Everything that went before, all that stuff, that history - the hell with it, right?

Pilar takes Sam's hand, kisses him.

PILAR: Forget the Alamo.

Wide shot of drive-in. Sam and Pilar sit by each other holding hands,
looking at the empty screen.

Music, roll credits.