(directly to H.C.)
Number 12, two and a half inch hex heads, with washers and nuts.
H.C. sorts nuts
and bolts out of a warren of small bins, and drops them into a paper
Well, you give your great-granddaddy my best.
A hundred years old. That's somethin' special. I ain't never heard
What d' ya feed 'im to grow 'im to a hundred.
He ain't a cow or a pig, Putt. What d'ya feed yourself?
(holding out the paper bag)
Miss Gloria, shall we put these on account?
Yes sir, Mr. Henry, that'd be fine.
Miss Gloria, you find you be needin' somethin' else, I'll be happy
Gloria takes the
bag from H.C., grabs the hinges on the counter, and heads for the
THE CASH REGISTER
Where Cherry's still talking, Lila still listening. Cherry hands Gloria
Here you are, darlin'. H.C. get you everything?
Yes ma'am, thank you. Miss Lila, Nice seein' you.
(as Gloria heads out the door)
Gloria Turner, don't you hide yourself, hear? (To Lila) That girl's
got to find herself a husband 'for she's too old for kids. Tell her
Mason'll be in church Sunday, Lila, tell her... Girl, don't you ever
Gloria yanks open
the hood, reaches down, strides around to the driver's side, cranks
it. It starts. She slams the hood closed, climbs in and slams the
door behind her.
She clenches short a GROWL of frustration, muscles the transmission
into reverse, backs onto--
And heads out of town.
THE OAK TREE With
the rope swing. Now, in the shade of its branches is a raucous looking
orange and red firecracker stand. BIG BANGS FOR LITTLE BUCKS reads
the hand-lettered sign; and tied to the roof at either end, is a cluster
of red balloons.
Rolls into view and slows, and comes to a stop.
One hand on the steering wheel, shifts in her seat and cranes to look
at the stand. Nothing moves. She watches, considers. A car goes by.
The balloons, swinging in a light breeze, flash at her. She looks
down at the box of sparklers on the seat beside her.
Man don't live to be a hundred without
somethin' special to mark the day.
U-turns, and pulls onto the shoulder. Gloria climbs down, raises the
hood to stop the engine, lowers it. She finds a place to cross the
roadside, but stops and once more considers the stand. GLORIA Come
on now. Do somethin' you ain't never done before. And she steps off
the road and heads across the
Toward the stand. As she walks, she undoes the collar of her shirt,
rolls her cuffs back and pushes them above her elbows. CICADAS SING
OUT in the heat, and leap out of the new mown grass ahead of her.
Walks up, stops. Not a soul around. Beneath the plunging roof is a
counter. Nothing on it but a can of paint. She leans over and looks
inside. On the floor, asleep, is a man,
There are boxes
around him from head to foot. For a moment, she watches him sleep.
Then, catches herself, backs a step or two. She turns to the truck,
stops, then back to the stand. She combs her hair with her fingers,
moistens her lips, smooths her shirt and leans over the counter.
Yawns, stretches, and sits up. He smiles up at her with lazy eyes
that have a smile of their own. His hair is ribboned with shreds of
paper from the boxes. He rises, shakes his head like a wet dog and
shreds fall to the counter. He brushes them back inside the stand,
You lookin' to blow up the world?
You got enough for that?
You'd be surprised. What can I do for you?
I guess what I need is some advice.
She pauses. He
just looks at her.
My Great-Grandpa was born on the Fourth of July, and I'm lookin' to
do somethin' special... All I can afford bein' he's lived a hundred
stir in the breeze, SQUAWKING as they rub against each other.
Am I crazy or what?
Not in my judgement you wouldn't be. A hundred years is a major
herself with her hand)
Well, I ain't never done anything like this before... It's turnin'
ducks out of the stand with a folding chair, snaps it open, takes a
A lady talks business is got to sit.
I don't want to take up your time.
But she sits down.
On the road, a car comes by, slows, and moves on.
It's good for business, folks see you settin' here, pretty like that.
He snakes a small
note book and a pencil stub from the pocket of his shirt. He tosses
the stub in the air, catches it, and looks down at her. She tries
to keep the conversation on track.
It's gotta be somethin' special. Real special if you know what I
mean. You got somethin' good?
Might cost you more than you want.
A balloon POPS.
That a publicity stunt?
HANK No ma'am.
Sometimes a customer sets one off.
I'm a business woman. I ain't goin' into this blind. I got to know
exactly what and how much.
Let me give you my card.
He hands one to
her, and she slides it into her shirt pocket without looking at it.
My policy is the pay up front.
I generally start with the basic things.
I want it plenty loud. You got somethin' loud he could maybe hear?
For racket, a cherry bomb can't be beat.
Fine, I want a lotta them. And somethin' pretty up in the sky. His
eyes ain't good, but they still work.
Well, rockets come in two main types. Oriental style, it makes a
flower up in the sky. Italian style is precision-like, with more
comin' and then some more. Unless you got a particular cravin',
I'd like to give you a mix of them.
That's fine with me.
There's 'Love in Bloom' for color and beauty and eally sweet. Recommended
for anyone on in years. Carry him back to sweet sixteen and guaranteed.
I could give you a honey called 'Grapes of Wrath.' Blow his hostilities
off the map. Just in case he got some o' 'em stored up. Lotta folks
has, but don't recall what set 'em off. I'm talkin' psychological
now, but fireworks is a mix o' that, and sound, and light... For
somethin' spectacular, hard to beat, I definitely go with Watermelon
Bustin' on the Way to Heaven.' Give him a thrill, I guarantee. I
generally finish off with 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' to bring 'em
down. Pull the customer back to earth, all in a sweet and easy way.
That the best you got?
You aimin' to do this all by yourself?
I can strike a match.
Reason I ask -- (looks out at the woods) -- woods is dry, trees
and grass. My personal service comes with the rest. No extra charge.
It gettin' close to the day, I already got some strong requests,
which I ain't said if I would or won't.
Well, I didn't look for that. Like I say, I can strike a match.
Ma'am, sometimes it can make a difference.
You got to take into account this is my profession. I give it study.
I give it practice and dedication. Dedication is what it takes...
I feel like with you and your kin hittin' that even one hundred
mark, I want to be satisfied it's right. I never done it for a hundred
before. Ma'am, it would be a privilege for me.
I reckon you wouldn't knock off for the privilege?
As it is, I got it pared down to the bone.
I'm kiddin'. What else you got?
a beauty that takes some handlin' --the best there is. A rocket
I'm callin' 'Stars Alive.' For color and beauty and stayin' power.
Keeps explodin' 'til you wouldn't believe. You think the end of
the world is here. I might call it the 'End of the World,' but it
ain't a name that'd sell as good.
Just one? Reason I ask, I got a special on two today.
It's as good as you say, one is all I need
(he nods and smiles)
For one little pop?
What I'm tryin' to say, it's a awesome thing! You are witnessin',
ma'am, the end of the world and the start of another. It's like
you died and was born again. It's a religious experience ma'am.
I don't mean nothin' disrespectful to God... I'm tellin' it straight.
It's a question a' money, I'd cut the rest and shoot my gravel on
I don't know. Is it plenty loud?
It ain't long on loud. It's got so much else, you don't miss that.
But I might give him a cherry bomb first, just at the start to warm
'im up. Then I guarantee, if he's got any eyesight left in his head,
will carry him clear to heaven. Had a woman once so moved by it,
she wrote a will and left her belongin's to the Nazarenes. Before
that experience I was able to provide, Sunday was just another day
Well, he's my only kin. I reckon you can throw it in with the rest.
He turns away
from her, bends over the counter top and totes up the figures in his
notebook. She looks at his back, the line of his jaw. He turns, hands
her a small sheet of paper.
Ma'am, I got it pared to the bone. And satisfaction is guaranteed...
She nods, considering,
then stands, looks up into his face, drops her eyes and sticks out
her hand. They shake.
Call me Hank. You mind I know your name?
It's Gloria Turner.
You married, Gloria Turner?
Not me. My great grand-pa is enough for me.
He take up all your time? He's got that smile again. She glances at
him with her own, defiant and cool.
I raise hogs for a livin'.
Now you surprised me with that.
How come? Well, you're a pretty girl. You don't look up to handlin'
a hog. I can see you bakin' bread.
He looks at her
a moment. Up on the road, another truck pulls in behind Gloria's.
LAUGHING, two kids leap down from the bed and bound across the field
to the stand. Mom and Dad follow at a slower pace. Gloria looks away
from the noise of the arrival, back to Hank.
I'm at the north end o' 22. Back in the trees.
I'll find it. Look for me 'bout an hour 'fore dusk.
She smiles her
goodbye, and starts toward the road. The kids run past on either side
of her, and she turns to watch them go, walking slowly backward toward
the truck. Hank's still looking at her, but the kids demand attention.
Mister, you got bottle rockets?
How 'bout 'Black Cats?'
Hands on his hips,
Hank looks down at them with a grin.
Now who's lookin' to blow up the world?
Gloria turns from
the scene and walks toward her truck. She takes his card out of her
BANK ON HANK FOR
FIREWORKS," it reads.
I reckon I'm doin' just that.
comes down the road a little faster than usual --a cloud of dust swirling
in its wake. It skids to a stop, and she swings out of the cab, pops
the hood and stops the engine. She crosses the yard and takes the
front steps at a bound.
THE LIVING ROOM
As Gloria, excited,
comes through the door.
Grandpa, I just met -- He bolts upright from a doze.
Oh Grandpa, I didn't think you'd still be asleep.
She backs out
of the room, but bumps into the table and a picture CLATTERS to the
Soldier, face front.
Grandpa, I'm sorry. You--
Army don't win goin' backwards.
She picks up the
picture and sits on the edge of his bed.
You go on back to sleep.
She smooths his
hair. His eyes lock on her face. All at once he's in the moment.
I'm glad you're here.
Grandpa, thank you. I'm glad you're here--
I don't remember. Your Momma and Daddy here?
You got any family, 'sides me?
No sir. They look at each other a moment.
Well, you sure grow'd up nice.
Grandpa, I wanna tell you about this man gonna--
The light of recognition
slowly fades from his eyes.
And he lies back
down and goes to sleep. She looks at him a moment, then rises slowly
and walks out of the room.
SHAFTS OF LIGHT
the chinks in the barn and set the dust motes glowing. Off, is the
rhythmic WHIR of a hand drill.
THE DRILL BIT
Comes up clear of the wood. This isn't the first time the hinges have
been replaced. Around the silvery metal, the lumber's old, split and
rust marked. Gloria brushes the shavings away from the hole, and slides
a last bolt in place. In the dappled light of the barn, she's got
the gate up on sawhorses, fitting the hinges. She spins the nut, tightens
it, and the old wood CREAKS under the pressure. She tucks a loose
strand of hair behind her ear, bites her lower lip in consideration.
With a shrug, she puts down the wrench.
Well, maybe one more year outta this old thing.
She tilts the
gate off the sawhorses, and it slides to the ground with a heavy THUD.
'Course I didn't have to spend a whole pig on fireworks. Too much
to carry, she drags the gate, one step, one tug at a time.
That's different. It leaves a furrow in the dirt.
AT THE ENTRANCE
TO THE BARN
She manhandles the gate into place on top of some make-shift blocks.
'Mounts to the same thing, though. Ain't got what you want to do what
With a grunt,
she lines up the top hinge and pins it in place. The bottom hinge,
and she backs away to look at her work.
Maybe, I ain't got what I need to do what I want.
She swings the
newly hung gate open and closed, testing her work.
What's that supposed to mean? (closing it behind her) Means every
now and then I get tired bein' on the wrong side o' the gate.
Inside the barn,
beyond the gate, she gathers her tools.
From an angle on the kitchen porch, the next morning. Gloria pulls
a towel off the line. SNAPS IT. She shakes the wrinkles out, folds
it, and drops it into a basket. Again, yank, SNAP, fold. Shirts, fall
on top of sheets, towels and jeans. She props the basket on a hip,
yanks the screen door wide and sidesteps in. The door BANGS behind
TWO IRONS On the
kitchen stove. Without breaking stride, Gloria snags one on her way
past, and sashays the basket --still on her hip-- into-- THE LIVING
ROOM Where an ironing board's at the foot of Grandpa's bed. He's propped
up on pillows.
Well, I got the cake in the oven, the laundry off the line--
She sets the basket
down, CLICKS on the radio, spins the dial to a patriotic SOUSA TUNE.
His eyes follow each movement.
--an' the radio music on. I bet you're wonderin' 'bout all this buzzin'
She spreads a
shirt out on the board, and --THUD-- hits it with the iron.
A man named Hank is comin' today. Strictly business, all it is.
I'm obliged to ask him have some cake. Okay with you? (he nods)
Strictly business is all it is. You ever knowed someone named Hank?
Well, this un' got both his legs.
Got hisself kilt.
This un's plenty alive, an' he'll be here 'fore you know it. It's
the Fourth o' July, Grandpa, an' we gonna have you a birthday cake
an' candles, an' on top o' that a big surprise.
She flips the
shirt. Iron again --THUD.
Ain't quite, but you'll like it.
She wraps the
shirt around a hanger, and hooks it over a bedpost --
-- and bustles back to the kitchen.
A HANDFUL TEA
Drop into a two
gallon jar. Water pours in and floats them to the top. A towel covers
the mouth of the jar and with two hands, Gloria hefts it to the windowsill.
WE HEAR HER RETURN
to the living room.
Grandpa, how you think I look in that blue blouse?
THE KITCHEN WINDOW
Midday shadows are short, and the tea's begun to brew in the sun.
Off, the RADIO'S STILL PLAYING. Gloria's head pops above the level
of the sill --checks the tea-- then ducks out of sight.
A WASH RAG
on the kitchen floor. Gloria's on her hands and knees. Grandpa's in
his chair at the table, slowly polishing a silver spatula. His deliberate
movements contrast with Gloria's haste.
She scrubs under
Down. How'd it get this dirty? You just don't see it 'til it's time
for company. Then it looks different. (rinses the rag) How long it's
been? ... Well, not countin' the man run the 'lectric wire, was Aunt
Shirley and Uncle Ben 'fore the war ... Long time.
With all this socializin', Grandpa, we better get us a maid.
THE PIG PEN
The piglets squeal
and grunt to get the feed in the trough. Gloria's bustles out of the
pen to the--
Where she throws
feed down for the hens, turns, and trots across--
To the barn.
She hurries out behind a wheelbarrow load of hay, but as she makes
the turn to the corral, something breaks. The barrow dumps out of
her grasp. From where it drops, she forks hay over the fence.