Omniality: Screenplays

Empire Of Dirt

Selection From The Screenplay
About This Film

INT. DR. ZWEIG’S OFFICE, THOREAU SCHOOL - DAY

Darren, seated at the conference table, fumes.

DARREN

Who the fuck do you think you are?

He shouts at James, seated across the table, Michelle at his side. Next to Darren sits his TEACHER’S UNION REP. At the head of the table sits Zweig.

DARREN (CONT’D)

You come to my home late night, reeking of alcohol, asking me for equipment, and turn around to insinuate how I spend MY nights?

MICHELLE

I sent him, Darren.

DARREN

Yeah? You two are buddy-buddy; are YOU two fucking?

Michelle’s taken aback.

ZWEIG

Tone it down, Darren.

TEACHER’S UNION REP

He’s right to be upset. This is baseless.

Darren jabs a finger at James, who sits stoic.

DARREN

Gone eight years, back eight months; I fuckin’ KNEW you were the same kid.

ZWEIG

What’re you talking about?

DARREN

I failed this anal-repressive piece of shit his first term, senior year.

JAMES

No, you didn’t.

DARREN

Right, I’m sorry; he got Mateos to move the F to a C.

ZWEIG

Why?

DARREN

Some bullshit reason.

JAMES

He thought I hadn’t turned a paper in.

DARREN

You didn’t—

JAMES

—I did; you dropped the class’s papers onto the downtown tracks at West 4th Street.

Darren shakes his head, done with this line of attack.

ZWEIG

This was before my time. What happened?

JAMES

Principal Mateos lived near the station. Found one of the papers on the tracks.

ZWEIG

D’you really turn it in, James?

He sighs briefly. Turns to Darren. Quotes from memory:

JAMES

James: Mr. Bellone, I made the changes you requested. Bellone: Did you just make them, or did you think about why they needed to be made? James: I still disagree with your point, but there was a way to speak to your—

DARREN

—All right—

JAMES

(louder)

—SPEAK to your concerns and strengthen my argument. I think you’ll be intrigued. Bellone: just put it on my desk with the rest.

Zweig blinks, surprised.

Michelle wipes her mouth, stifling a grin.

ZWEIG

Was that the conversation, Darren?

DARREN

How the fuck should I know?! It was EIGHT years ago!

Silence around the table.

DARREN (CONT’D)

Is Elenore the one helping make this up?

ZWEIG

(to James)

James, can you back up any of your story?

JAMES

(beat)

No. It’s just as I relayed it.

Zweig bows her head. BEAT.

DARREN

I want to file a grievance.

ZWEIG

Darren—

DARREN

—He’s defamed me in front of my employer and colleague.

ZWEIG

What if he apologizes?

BEAT. Darren considers it, a glint of payback. His Rep whispers in his ear. BEAT. Rep is done. BEAT. Darren blinks. Turns to James, waiting.

Michelle watches James, pessimistic. He shifts once, in place.

JAMES

I apologize.

DARREN

You admit you were lying?

JAMES

I admit I may have misinterpreted what I saw last night.

DARREN

You admit you were wrong?

JAMES

I admit I may have misinterpreted what I saw last night.

DARREN

Just admit it.

JAMES

I admit I may have misinterpreted what I saw—

Darren leaves his seat abruptly. Leaves. The Rep rises.

TEACHER’S UNION REP

Kid, something’s wrong with you.

The Rep leaves. SECRETARIES in the main office peek over to see what’s been going on. Zweig rises; shuts the door on them. Turns to James with heavy sigh.

ZWEIG

There was a way, James, to apologize to him better without making you a liar.

JAMES

There was?

ZWEIG

(to Michelle)

You shouldn’t have sent him over there late.

MICHELLE

I had to send somebody.

JAMES

It’s not her fault.

(rises)

Speaking of the equipment in question: I’m overdue to run a tutorial in the computer lab.

ZWEIG

How long will you be?

JAMES

The kids pay attention to me. An hour.

He leaves. Michelle’s about to, too, but Zweig motions her seated.

INT. DARREN BELLONE’S CLASSROOM, THOREAU SCHOOL - DAY

His students seated, including Owen and Elenore, who’s since washed her face. Darren’s not yet there, so the NOISE LEVEL IS TREMENDOUS.

And then he storms in.

NOISE LOWERS TO A DULL ROAR, and as he WRITES FURIOUSLY ON THE CHALKBOARD, the NOISE DROPS TO NOTHING.

Steps aside, revealing the board. It now reads: “FAULKNER IS A LIAR.” Drops the chalk to the floor.

DARREN

Five pages, no books, this topic. SILENCE during. Support with examples. Natural use of twenty AP words. Thirty minutes. Go.

STUDENT

(raises hand)

I don’t have enough paper.

DARREN

Then you’re unprepared.

That STUDENT searches for a friendly face. No one’s helping; they’ve all been cowed, whipping out paper and pen and getting to it.

Owen digs out materials at a measured pace, not willing to give the man any satisfaction. But he looks to Elenore. She moves even slower, and watches Darren sadly.

Darren falls into his couch, stewing.Owen glances back and forth between them, putting two and two together, tentatively. He rises then, and leaves the room, to MURMURS and Darren:

DARREN (CONT’D)

Where the hell do you think—

(door SHUTS)

—you’re going?


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