A NIGHT SKY
WE HEAR the THUMP of a distant explosion and the far off WHINE of a skyrocket. A SHARPER CRACK and a dazzling cascade of light falls through the darkness. Clusters of purple and gold. Another THUMP, and shining crystals of light are flung across the sky melting into silver rivers and spilling to earth.
As the glow from the falling rocket fades, her lips part, she closes her eyes. The moment plays just barely in slow motion, like a memory. WE HEAR her VOICE OVER.
AN ALABAMA FIELD
A burst of light and color outlines a small farmhouse against the night blue sky. As the fireworks drop and dim, the scene...
FADES TO BLACK
FADE UP ON THE PIG PEN
As Gloria dumps a bucketful of feed for a litter of squealing piglets. The runt's been crowded out, and with a willow branch, she switches his brothers and sisters out of the way to make a space for him at the trough.
She's dressed for work, and has been hard at it in July's 98 degree weather. It's 1947, and the clothes and the setting reflect it.
He finds a place.
She drops the bucket into a waiting wheelbarrow and trundles toward the barn.
AN OLD GATE Stubbornly guards the entrance to the barn. Gloria wrestles it open, wincing at the SCREECH of the hinges.
She rolls the wheelbarrow inside and struggles the gate almost back in place.
She closes it with a last hard kick, an insult it protests with a SCREECH that makes her laugh.
THE YARD As she crosses down to an old man in a rocking chair in the shade of an apple tree. She calls out.
He jerks out of his doze.
Bright blue eyes shine out of a mass of wrinkles, but the world they see is a jumble of scenes from times long past --like a book with the pages mixed.
Light and shadow play across his face as he looks up at her. There's brief smile of recognition before his gaze goes past her. He waves. Gloria turns. Leaves, glow in the slant of afternoon sun and flutter in the breeze.
He looks back to her.
He connects for a moment and grins.She pulls him gently from his chair and maneuvers him into a red wagon she's converted for the purpose.
He grins again, and they head to the house.
A SMALL FLAME
There's a bucket of water on the stove, and Gloria opens the grate tosses in the small piece of kindling, and picks up a poker. Grandpa watches, eyes twinkling.
She stirs the embers which spark and explode with a loud POP.
She clears the last glasses.
From the RADIO, THREE TONES mark the hour and lush MUSIC swells under the ANNOUNCER'S VOICE.
Gloria comes around to Grandpa's side of the table and waits as he slowly gets to his feet. Stiffly, he holds up his hands in a dancer's pose, she steps into them, and --as every night- they begin to dance.
Gloria curtsies as well as overalls will allow.
Of old photographs on the living room table. A few stand out: a teenage soldier in Confederate Gray, circa 1862; a pretty woman with a quilt at the foot of a four-poster bed; a cavalry officer, bristling with pistols and medals, astride his horse; a handsome man, party hat askew, helping his daughter blow out the candles on her birthday cake. The radio's there too, STILL PLAYING.
Gloria lowers the volume.
Sitting on the side of the bed, he nods. That bed, the same four poster we saw in the photograph, is in the living room, not so much part of the decor, but in the middle of it. A gray cap hangs on the post, as does a pistol, and three or four medals. She gives him a drink of water, and like a child, he slides his feet under the sheet.
He's asleep when his head hits the pillow. Gloria tucks him in and kisses him on the forehead.
Just off the kitchen. From inside, a kerosene lamp casts its glow out into the evening. Off, Grandpa's radio PLAYS SOFTLY, along with the CRICKETS. Gloria swings the bucket off the stove and backs out through the screen door, careful to close it softly behind her. She sets the bucket on the porch bench, and from beneath it, pulls a washbasin out onto the floor.
A sponge and a small pitcher lie in the bottom of the basin. Her overalls fall into heap, and she steps barefoot out of them. Settling herself on the bench, she dips the pitcher and streams water down her legs. This moment's been awaited, and as the water spills across her skin, a sigh of relief escapes her.
She works her way out of her khaki shirt, and reveals a simple cotton camisole. When she presses the sponge against her shoulder, rivulets caress her arm and stream from her fingertips. The sponge follows the path of the water, then returns, tracing the hollow of her throat, the lines of her neck. She leans over. Her hair swings forward and a fall of water darkens it and pulls it straight. Fingers knead the muscles at the nape of her neck as she rubs a lather into her hair. Water sluices it clean. She leans back, slicking her hair away from her face. A night wind stirs, raises the skin on her forearms, and she turns and stretches to its cooling touch. From a distance, the white glow of her camisole is all that moves in the dark blue shadow of the porch.
THE TOP TWO BUTTONS
Under the tree that shades the front of the house. What once was once forest green has long since faded, blistered, and been covered with patches of gray primer. Gloria comes down the front steps toward the truck, hefts the hood open.
She tinkers with something deep in the engine, then reaches in the driver side window to push the starter. The engine turns over: RRRR, RRRR, RRRR.
It catches, coughs and settles into a rough idle.
She lets the hood down, and drops it the last few inches, WHANG.
She climbs in, grinds into first, and heads off.
A HUGE OAK TREE
That spreads its limbs over a field of new mown grass. The morning sun, still low, filters through. From the lower branches hangs a rope swing. The field borders the road and we hear the RATTLE of Gloria's truck before it rolls by, a plume of red dust in its wake.
As it rolls past the store fronts of Main Street and pulls into a place in front of the General Store. We're a day away from the Fourth of July and the town's bright with flags and bunting. With the engine running-- GLORIA Steps from the cab, walks to the front of the truck and raises the hood. She pulls at something, and the engine coughs to a stop. Dropping the hood, she turns to the store, purposefully rolls down her sleeves, fastens the cuffs, and buttons her shirt to the top.
A CASH REGISTER
She laughs and Lila joins her. Both turn as Gloria walks up. Cherry barely misses a beat.
Lila and Cherry turn to appraise Gloria.
Gloria opens her mouth to speak, but--
Cherry and Lila turn to Gloria. Beat.
Gloria heads to the back of the store.
A LARGE SCYTHE
That hangs from the low rafters of the store. Axes and sledges hang too, as well as other heavy farm tools, all glistening under a light sheen of oil. The array forms an imposing curtain. From below, rise boxes of nails, small drums of paint, oil stained crates of tractor parts; and from somewhere within comes
THE RUMBLE OF MEN'S VOICES.
H.C., heavy, florid, tilts back in an old wooden chair, feet on a spool of fencing wire. He's reading the paper aloud to PUTT --slender, ferret faced-- behind the counter, and BO --round and red headed-- alongside it. H.C. --who, Montgomery police said, offered no excuse for what eyewitnesses say was the unprovoked shooting of her husband and his dog. She will remain in custody pending- H.C. looks up. Gloria has entered the sanctum. Putt and Bo follow H.C.'s gaze. Gloria returns the look.
Putt and Bo look at H.C. He gets to his feet. Bo straightens up too.
He smiles slyly, testing, but doesn't move an inch.
Gloria colors at the challenge.
Gloria just looks at him. He stands, spreads his hands.
Putt lays hinges on the counter, leans over on his elbows, and picks up where he left off.