A crew of African-Americans are laying tracks in rural Alabama. The crane operator is the only white man on the section gang. INT. BUNK CAR The dormitory of the section gang. The men are through for the day and lounging on their bunkbeds. DUFF ANDERSON plays checkers with FRANKIE, using bottle tops as pieces. Duff makes the winning move and Frankie, disgusted, turns over the board. He saunters over to JOCKO, who is shaving in a broken mirror. Frankie watches him with a grin. JOCKO Go to hell, Frankie. FRANKIE Man, you sure one ugly cat! He takes the cigarettes Jocko has rolled, sailor-style, into the sleeve of his T-shirt. JOCKO Why don't you guys buy your own? FRANKIE 'Oughta give up smoking, Jocko. He stops in front of an older man, who is writing a letter. FRANKIE How much longer we got on this stretch, Riddick? RIDDICK Five weeks, maybe six. FRANKIE Man, what a dump. He circles restlessly past two cardplayers back to Duff, who is clipping his fingernails. FRANKIE What you gettin' all pretty for? DUFF (with a grin) Why don't you relax, Frankie? RAILROAD TRACK Duff, Frankie, and Jocko are riding a track-car, powered by a small engine, into the nearest town. The sun is setting. A church bell rings. POOL HALL Jocko, a cigar in his mouth, is playing a pinball machine. Duff and Frankie stand at the bar. They are joined by DORIS , a sad-looking woman with bad skin. DORIS Who's going to buy me a beer? FRANKIE (scornfully) What's the matter, Doris? Business bad? DORIS It sure is. FRANKIE Everybody givin' it away free, huh? DORIS You gonna buy me a beer, Frankie? FRANKIE See Duff. He's the money man. DORIS What d'you say, Duff? DUFF (to the bartender) Give her a beer. DORIS Thanks, Duff. You' a nice guy. Not like Frankie. FRANKIE You know, Doris - you'd make some guy a swell wife. DORIS You think so, Frankie? FRANKIE Hell, you got steady work. DUFF Quit ridin' her, Frankie. The bartender serves her a bottle of beer FRANKIE I ain't ridin' her. Wouldn't ride her on a bet. Duff pays for the beer and turns to leave. DORIS Where' you goin'? DUFF Out. DORIS Want me to come? DUFF No thanks. DORIS Come on, honey. FRANKIE Where' you goin'? DUFF 'Round town. FRANKIE What's so hot 'round town? DUFF (with a grin) Take it easy, Frankie. He leaves. FRANKIE Don't wanna fish you outa no jailhouse. STREET (Night) Duff is walking along the deserted street in the black part of town. Music from the pool hall fades and we pick up the strains of gospel singing from a nearby church. INT. CHURCH The choir is singing "Precious Lord." The women are spirited and the congregation in the small wooden building is alive to the music. Duff appears in the open doorway and stops to listen. When the song ends, REVEREND DAWSON rises from his chair. REVEREND I'm glad to see this meeting off to a good start. Now we'll take a break and then come back to hear from our distinguished guest - Reverend Butler of the Morgan Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. See you all in a little while. Reverend Butler compliments him on the choir. CHURCH YARD Long tables laden with food are lit by strings of lightbulbs. The sound of a gospel piano from inside the church. A smiling middle-aged woman has taken Duff in tow and leads him over to a young woman (JOSIE), who is serving food. WOMAN Josie - this is Brother Anderson. Now you give him some of that good food. He's a fine young man. (on her way) Ain't it a wonderful meetin'?! Duff studies Josie with a smile. She is clearly middle class. While she puts food on a paper plate, she glances at him - matching his ironic detachment with her own. She hands him the plate DUFF Thank you, Ma'am. That's fine. JOSIE You must be new in town. DUFF (with a grin) I'll have me some of that punch there, too. She serves the punch. JOSIE Haven't seen you around, have I? DUFF No. I'm new in town. JOSIE (unwilling to give up) You working? DUFF Yeah. On the section gang. He is sure that this will put a stop to her curiosity. It doesn't. JOSIE (interested) Oh yeah? DUFF You work around town? JOSIE I'm a teacher. DUFF Went to college, huh? JOSIE In Birmingham. DUFF Oh yeah? That's my home town. JOSIE Your folks live there? DUFF No. My mother's dead. (after a moment) You goin' back inside? JOSIE Yes, aren't you? DUFF No. Never had much use for hell-howlers. You goin'? JOSIE (with a smile) My father's the preacher. DUFF (grinning) Oh yeah? Well, I guess you got no choice. JOSIE That's right. DUFF (a bit tentatively) Look, I don't know what you been told 'bout section gangs, but how 'bout seein' me sometime? JOSIE (with a non-committal smile) Maybe. INT. CHURCH The visiting revival preacher is in full swing, preaching and singing. The congregation of women is in a state of high excitement. Josie alone seems out of it, though she sits in their midst. Duff has been standing in the doorway. He turns away. EXT. CHURCH Duff walks away, past a shack. The singing fades. A dog barks. BUNK CAR (Night) Duff, Frankie, Jocko, and an older man (POP) are playing cards. While waiting for his turn, Jocko catches a fly and sneaks a look at Frankie's cards. JOCKO You got a lousy hand, Frankie. Frankie throws down the cards. FRANKIE Yeah, I quit. He gets up. At loose ends, he picks up an old Flit-gun and squirts it at Duff, who is polishing his shoes. DUFF You got nothin' on your mind but your hair, Frankie. How 'bout your car, Riddick? RIDDICK Yeah, you can have it. JOCKO Man, you won't like that back seat. FRANKIE Man, why 'you messin' around with a gal like that? You won't get no place. JOCKO Hell, they're all after the same thing. POP Yeah. All a colored woman wants is your money. JOCKO What d'you know about women, Pop? POP Well, I got married to one of them. JOCKO Hell, I didn't know you was married. POP Sure. Got a sixteen-year-old girl. JOCKO Is that right? (to Duff) Think you're gonna make it with her? FRANKIE Just get her drunk. DUFF (to Riddick) How 'bout the key? FRANKIE I bet she's easy jam. DAWSON DINING ROOM (Night) A middle-class tableau. Dinner is over. Reverend Dawson is reading the paper. Josie, dressed for an evening out, sits across from her step-mother, who is looking at her with pursed lips. MRS. DAWSON I know you pay no mind to my feelings, but d'you think it's right for you to go out with him? JOSIE I'm twenty-six years old, Susan. MRS. DAWSON Perhaps you ought to tell her, Frank. Reverend Dawson has no stomach for confrontations, but turns to Josie dutifully. REVEREND DAWSON Well, we have a position in town, Josie. You have to remember that. There're lots of other young men. MRS. DAWSON I don't think your mother would have approved. JOSIE I do. MRS. DAWSON Well, there's just one thing you can be looking for in a man like that. JOSIE I know that's what you think. REVEREND DAWSON Hush your mouth, child. The doorbell rings. JOSIE (leaving the table) Good night, Dad. ROAD HOUSE On the dimly lit, smoke-hung floor a large crowd is dancing. Josie is having a great time. When the music ends, she and Duff return to their table. DUFF That's pretty good for a preacher's daughter. JOSIE What d'you expect? DUFF You know, baby, I can't figure you out. JOSIE How d'you mean? DUFF Why d'you come out with me? You slummin' or something? JOSIE No. DUFF So what you doin' with a cat like me in a joint like this? JOSIE You don't think much of yourself, do you? DUFF (put off) Well, that's a funny thing to say. JOSIE You keep asking me why I'm here. DUFF Yeah, and you keep not answerin', too. JOSIE I like a place with lots of life. DUFF How about another beer? JOSIE No thanks. DUFF Go on - you can have one! His attention is drawn by something off screen. DUFF Hell! JOSIE What is it? Frankie and Jocko swagger toward them, beer in hand. FRANKIE Well, if it ain't Duff! JOCKO How you doin'? (to Josie; with a bit of a leer) Hi there! JOSIE Hi. JOCKO Mind if we sit down? DUFF We was just leavin', fellows. FRANKIE Let's go, Jocko. The man's got homework. JOCKO (leaving) See you, Duff. DUFF Yeah, see you in hell. Frankie follows Jocko out of the frame. JOSIE They must work on the section gang. DUFF That's right. JOSIE Well, they seem just like everyone else. DUFF Hell, baby, I bet you think we got tails. FRANKIE'S VOICE (off-screen) We do! Frankie and Jocko have occupied the adjoining table and are grinning at them. Duff gets up, camouflaging his irritation. DUFF Come on, baby. He ushers Josie out. Frankie looks after them. FRANKIE School teacher! My nappy head! INT. RIDDICK'S OLD CONVERTIBLE (Night) Duff has parked on a country road. JOSIE I guess it's hard working on the road like that. DUFF Damn few places you can make eighty bucks a week. JOSIE I mean, you're kind of cut off, aren't you? DUFF That's fine with me. Keeps me out of trouble. JOSIE How d'you mean? DUFF Well, I don't get on so well most places. JOSIE I see. That beer made me dizzy. Duff is looking at her. DUFF You got a lovely face, kid. Ain't too often I get to meet a girl like you. Hell-- He kisses her, but releases her very quickly. DUFF Baby, how many times' you been kissed? Josie takes a moment to collect herself. JOSIE Well, let's see now - not counting tonight ... must be about twenty-eight times. DUFF (with a grin) You got a problem all right. Someone moves in back of her. A white man in his early twenties has emerged from the dark and looks down at them. WHITE (with a smile) Hi. The voice of a second white man calls from off screen. SECOND WHITE They doin' anything? WHITE (calling back) Nah, nothin'! DUFF Get out of here! JOSIE (frightened) Don't Duff-- WHITE Relax, man! The second white man joins him. SECOND WHITE What's goin' on? He shines his flashlight into Duff's face. DUFF Cut that out! The white man shines the flashlight across Josie's breast. DUFF (very tense) I said: Cut it out! WHITE Don't start no trouble, boy! SECOND WHITE Let's go! That's the preacher's girl. Mess with him and you got old man Johnson on your back. Come on. The white men leave. JOSIE Let's go, Duff. DUFF Take it easy. We see that he has a knife in his hand. He closes and pockets it. The white men drive off, whooping and beating on the side of their car. DUFF Don't sound human, do they? INT. MOVING CAR (Night) Duff is driving through the center of town. DUFF How come you stay 'round here? JOSIE Well, my mother was the only good teacher the colored school ever had. Nobody bothers with those kids. DUFF That's why you come back, huh? JOSIE It's hard to see any change. But I'm going to stay. Another year, anyway. DUFF You got more guts than me, baby. It's a no-good town. JOSIE It's better than it used to be. Eight years ago they still had a lynching here. They tied a man to a car and dragged him to death. My father knew who did it, but he didn't say anything. DUFF Scared, huh? The car pulls up in front of the Dawson house and Duff parks. DUFF Well, good night, baby. He is about to kiss her. JOSIE Not here, Duff. DUFF I get it. (with a laugh) Yeah, I can see your old man with a shot-gun right now. JOSIE But I would like to see you again. DUFF You would, huh? If I was you, baby - I wouldn't go 'round stickin' out my jugular vein. JOSIE What d'you mean? DUFF You almost got into trouble back there. JOSIE (with a smile) I wouldn't have let you. DUFF Hell, baby, I'm not in the third grade. Well, look - what' we gonna do next time -- have a nice long chat in the parlor? JOSIE No, on the porch. DUFF Oh yeah, and then what? JOSIE What? DUFF Well, either we're gonna hit the hay or get married. Now you don't want to hit the hay, and I don' want to get married. JOSIE You have some very primitive ideas, don't you? DUFF (defensively) All right, so I'm primitive. So what d'you want with me? JOSIE Look, Duff - most of the men I know - they're kind of sad. When I met you the other day I had a feeling that you're different. That's why I went out with you. I thought we might have something to say to each other. DUFF Hell, baby, I don't know what to say. JOSIE Good night, Duff. She gets out of the car and starts toward the house. He looks after her, then drives away. OPEN FIELD The section hands are hunting rabbits, scaring them up out of the tall grass and then clubbing them with sticks that have a heavy bolt fastened to the end. Jocko is fishing from a trestle. Pop fries skinned rabbit in a skillet. Duff is whittling. CLASSROOM The grade school children, all black, are writing at their desks. The end-of-school bell rings and one of the boys jumps up. JOSIE Are you finished, Jackie? BOY Yes, Ma'am. JOSIE Well, I'm not. Wait till class is dismissed. She walks over to close the window. In the yard below, Duff is sitting on one of the swings. Josie smiles and turns to the kids -- JOSIE All right. Class dismissed. EXT. SCHOOLHOUSE A bus crowded with noisy kids pulls away to reveal the yard. Duff and Josie are sitting on two swings side by side. DUFF At first it was real strange. Hell, Japan is a long ways from Alabama. Really got under my skin, though. Almost didn't come back. JOSIE Why did you? DUFF I don't know. 'Guess I belong here more than there. JOSIE 'Been up north? DUFF Yeah. Knocked around for a couple of months after the Army. You been there? JOSIE No. DUFF Well, it ain't that good up there neither. Might as well make it here. 'Course I ain't really makin' it now. He gets up and gives her swing a forceful shove. DUFF Anyway, they can't get to you if you keep movin'! Josie laughs. FRONT YARD, DAWSON HOUSE It is raining. Duff and Josie dash up the path to the front door. DAWSON PARLOR Duff and Josie barge in out of the rain and find themselves face to face with Reverend Dawson and a middle-aged white man - Superintendent Johnson. JOSIE Oh, I'm sorry. JOHNSON Come on in, Josie. We're all through. JOSIE Daddy - this is Duff Anderson. REVEREND DAWSON Hello. DUFF How are you? REVEREND DAWSON All right, son. JOSIE This is Mr. Johnson, our school superintendent. JOHNSON (with a friendly smile) How are you? JOSIE I'll be right back. She leaves. JOHNSON So you're courtin' the preacher's girl. Well, just watch your step, boy, or he'll preach you right into hell. (to Reverend Dawson) I'm counting on you, Reverend. REVEREND DAWSON I understand. JOHNSON Wouldn't do for one of your people to sue at a time like this. REVEREND DAWSON I know. JOHNSON (on his way out) I'll talk to the Mayor. REVEREND DAWSON That'll make the folks very happy. Johnson leaves. Reverend Dawson sits down in a rocker. REVEREND DAWSON It's hard to know how to talk to the white folks these days. DUFF Guess it's never been easy. REVEREND DAWSON It's a changing time. Sit down, son. DUFF Thank you. He sits down opposite Reverend Dawson. REVEREND DAWSON Well, it looks like we'll be getting our new school. DUFF How come you all ain't sendin' them to the same school? REVEREND DAWSON Well, you've got to go easy. We haven't had any trouble in town for eight years, and we're not going to have any now. DUFF Can't live without trouble, can you? (he sees he is on the wrong track) Nice place you got here. Real nice. REVEREND DAWSON Yes, the Lord's been pretty good to us. I guess you're a church man, aren't you? DUFF I guess I ain't. REVEREND DAWSON Why? Don't you believe in the Lord? DUFF Aw, I do. But 'seems to me us colored folks do a whole lot of church-goin'. It's the whites that need it real bad. REVEREND DAWSON I think if you tried livin' in a town like this, instead of running free and easy, you'd soon change your tune. DUFF I doubt it. REVEREND DAWSON I see. (rising) Well, I guess we don't have much to say to each other. DUFF I guess not. REVEREND DAWSON And since we're talking, my wife and I don't want you hanging around our daughter. DUFF Well, that figures. (he too stands up) Kind of fits in with everything else, don't it! DAWSON PORCH Duff comes out. Josie joins him a moment later. JOSIE I'm sorry. DUFF Ain't your fault. JOSIE That's the way he is. DUFF Yeah. It's just like I figured. JOSIE What d'you mean? DUFF Hell, I don't belong here. I don't know what I' been thinkin'. JOSIE Look, Duff - if you're free, I'm not working tomorrow. DUFF Sorry, baby. I'm goin' to Birmingham. JOSIE Just for the day? DUFF Goin' to see my kid. JOSIE I didn't know you had one. DUFF Yeah. Well, I do. JOSIE Are you married? DUFF No, I ain't married. (leaving) Well, good-bye. COURTHOUSE SQUARE (Morning sunshine) A bus has pulled in. INT. BUS Duff is making his way down the aisle. To his surprise, he comes upon Josie, who is sitting at a window with an empty seat next to her. DUFF (with a grin) Well, what-do-you-know? JOSIE Surprised? DUFF No. Women're always followin' me 'round. JOSIE I'm just going in to do my shopping. DUFF Yeah, it's just a coincidence. JOSIE That's right. DUFF (moving on) I'll see you later. JOSIE Come here, Duff. No point running away from coincidence. He sits down next to her. DUFF Baby, you must be crazy. The bus starts up. JOSIE How old is your boy? DUFF Four. JOSIE What's he like? DUFF I ain't seen him in a couple of years. ALLEYWAY, BIRMINGHAM Duff is walking past crowded back-porches in a black section of town. Gospel music. He steps up onto one of the porches and knocks at the screen door. EFFIE'S PARLOR Through the screen door we see EFFIE SIMMS, a woman in her twenties. She is sitting on a chair and cradles a sleeping child. DUFF 'You Effie Simms? EFFIE (suspiciously) What d'you want? DUFF Guess you must be lookin' after my boy. I'm Duff Anderson. EFFIE 'Bout time you showed. Door's open. Duff enters. EFFIE (calling) James Lee, you come in here and meet your daddy. DUFF Where's Wilma? EFFIE She done moved to Detroit. DUFF Ain't she goin' to take the boy? EFFIE She got herself a husband now. They don' want him 'round. And I tell you, man, I got no use for him neither. DUFF I been sendin' her money. EFFIE Well, she never gave me none. Look, you better find him a place pretty quick. DUFF Like where? EFFIE I don't know. He's your boy. DUFF I ain't so sure of that. If I was, maybe I'd feel different. Effie gives him a scornful look, puts down the child, and opens the curtain that leads into the bedroom. EFFIE (sharply) James Lee - I said for you to come in here. BEDROOM Two children are playing on the floor. James Lee is up on a Castro convertible. Duff appears beside Effie in the doorway. DUFF How 'you been, boy? James Lee looks at him, scared and silent. EFFIE Go on. Tell him. She returns to the parlor. DUFF I got you something. He crouches down and holds out a toy. James Lee approaches, takes the toy, and withdraws. EFFIE'S PARLOR Effie is folding diapers. Duff comes out of the bedroom. EFFIE 'Doctor says he could use some shots. DUFF Yeah. Look, I'll be sendin' you the money from now on. EFFIE Okay. DUFF Make sure he gets those shots. He looks back at the boy in the bedroom. EFFIE They say your dad's 'round town. DUFF 'That right? I thought he was up North. EFFIE People seen him 'round. DUFF Where's he at? EFFIE I don't know. STREET Duff is walking through a black section of town. EXT. TENEMENT STAIRS Duff climbs to the top of the rickety wooden steps. WILL ANDERSON'S ROOM Duff's father, a big man in his fifties, is reclining on the bed. Duff appears in the open doorway. DUFF 'You Will Anderson? WILL Who're you? DUFF I'm Duff. WILL (sitting up, with a faint grin) Wouldn't have known you. DUFF Wouldn't have known you. WILL What's on your mind? DUFF Nothing. Heard you were in town. WILL Wanted a look at your old man, huh? DUFF Yeah. That's right. Will gets up and crosses the room. WILL How about a drink? DUFF Okay. Will pours whiskey into two glasses. Duff sees that Will's left sleeve hangs empty. DUFF What happened? WILL Workin' a saw mill. (raising his glass) Here's to. A woman in her late thirties (LEE) comes in with a shopping bag. WILL Baby - want you to meet Duff. LEE (flatly) Hi. WILL He's my son! She turns and looks at Duff with a glimmer of interest. LEE Come and have some coffee. (sitting down) I'm Lee. Sit down. He joins her. LEE Come on, Will. WILL What's the matter?! You mad at me? LEE No. Why? WILL (sitting down) Nothin'. (to Duff) She's all right. Wouldn't have made it without her. Christ - haven't worked in eight months. Right now, I'm waitin' for some insurance money. And man, when I get it, I got plans to make me some more. (he gets up restlessly) Let's get out'a here. This place gives me the willies. (to Lee) You got some money? LEE (she knows what's coming) Let's stay here, Will. WILL (aggressively) What's the matter?! It's a celebration! BAR Will, Lee, and Duff are standing at the bar. Will has been drinking. WILL So what's this about a woman? You got woman trouble? DUFF I said, I come to town with a girl. WILL Plannin' on getting married? DUFF No. WILL 'Don't sound so sure. DUFF Well, matter of fact, I done a lot of bangin' 'round. WILL Yeah. That's how me an' your mother got started. I'm tellin' you, boy, you ain't got a chance without dough. They take it all away from you. He drains his glass and puts it down for Lee to refill. LEE Pour your own trouble, Will. WILL Your mother used to lay for her boss, boy. Did you know that? LEE Shut up, Will. WILL Okay, so what's a girl supposed to do? Me not workin' and her cleanin' house for a white man. I'm tellin' you, boy, keep away from marriage. Ya gotta stay light on your feet or you won't make it. He puts his hand on Lee's bare arm. WILL Is she good in the hay? No point marryin' her just to find out. Is there, baby? LEE If you don't quit it, Will, I'm leaving. WILL You're breaking my heart. (he grabs her neck and shakes her) Got to see a man about a dog. DANCE FLOOR Duff and Lee are dancing. She looks at him with a touch of sympathy. LEE Don't let him get you, Duff. DUFF How often does he get like that? LEE Whenever he's got an edge on. DUFF How often is that? LEE He's been hitting it pretty hard. Got high blood pressure, too. I guess it's hard on him, having you around. BAR Will is back and drinking when Duff and Lee come off the dance floor. WILL (aggressively) Well, what d'you think of her? Duff says nothing. WILL I asked you somethin', boy! DUFF I heard you. WILL Pretty good for a one-armed nigger, huh? DUFF Great. WILL What d'you want anyhow? What you come and bother me for? LEE He's your son. WILL Okay, boy, beat it. DUFF I got the point. He leaves money on the bar. LEE Come back some other time, will you? DUFF Yeah, sure. Good luck. DOWNTOWN STREET (Night) Duff is walking, lost in thought. INT. BUS DEPOT (Night) Josie enters with her purchases. She joins Duff at the sandwich counter. JOSIE Hi. DUFF (relieved to see her) I thought you wasn't comin'. She sits down. JOSIE How did it go? DUFF What? JOSIE Your boy. DUFF Okay, I guess. JOSIE (to off-screen waitress) I'll have some coffee, please. DUFF You know, I been thinkin' - how 'bout us gettin' married? Josie is stunned. JOSIE (playing for time) What d'you mean? DUFF Just what I said. Don't look so scared. The waitress puts down a cup of coffee. JOSIE Thank you. DUFF How about it? JOSIE What happened, Duff? DUFF Look, baby - I don't know 'bout you, but it's the right thing for me. I just know it is. So, what d'you say? JOSIE Don't push me, Duff. DUFF Yeah. Wouldn't be no picnic for you. I ain't exactly housebroken. JOSIE What about that girl? DUFF She don't mean nothin' to me. That's all over. (after a moment) Hell, baby - I'm askin' you to marry me. I guess you want a big scene, huh? JOSIE No. But a small one. They look at each other. DUFF It's yes, huh? INT. BUNK CAR (Day) Frankie is looking scornfully at Duff, who is lying on his bunk bed. FRANKIE I'll be a monkey's kid sister! What d'you want to do a thing like that for? JOCKO 'Musta knocked her up. FRANKIE What're you gonna get out of it, huh? DUFF (with a smile) A whole lot, Frankie. FRANKIE (aggressively) Like what? DUFF Like a home, for one thing. FRANKIE You gonna sit at home the rest of your life? Jesus! DUFF Well, it's better than windin' up like a bum. FRANKIE (defensively) What 'you signifyin'? DUFF I wasn't thinkin' about you, Frankie. JOCKO Ol' Doris sure goin' to miss you. FRANKIE Just give him a couple of months. A girl like that, she don't know any tricks. JOCKO You know what Doris told me? She say: That Duff's a nice guy. Wouldn't even charge him nothin'. FRANKIE I guess you'll be quittin' the railroad, huh, man? DUFF That's right. FRANKIE Man, you must be plumb outa your mind! You'll be makin' twen'y bucks a week, if you're lucky. INT. MOVING CAR Josie is next to Duff. They are driving past a row of small attached houses in the black section of town. JOSIE Turn here. There it is! They stop in front of a house. It is barely larger than a shack. DILAPIDATED LIVING ROOM Duff and Jose come in. The room is full of abandoned, broken furniture and the ceiling and wallpaper hang down in strips. JOSIE I used to know them. They've gone North. DUFF (with a laugh) I can see why. JOSIE Well, what d'you think? DUFF It's okay with me, baby. But how' you goin' to like it? JOSIE It'll be fine when we get done with it. EXT. WINDOW OF LIVING ROOM Duff is looking out through the broken pane of glass. DUFF Who's that? NEIGHBORING HOUSE, SEEN FROM WINDOW A woman is putting laundry into a washing machine on the open porch. Her children are all around her and in the yard below. EXT. WINDOW Josie has stopped next to Duff and looks out. JOSIE That's Bessie Hall. Barney works at the mill. DUFF Yeah? Josie removes a shard of glass from the window; a larger piece falls out. DUFF Hey, watch out! Guess you want a house full of pickaninnies too, huh? JOSIE Don't call them that. DUFF That's all right with me. Always liked kids. He moves to the rear of the room. LIVING ROOM Josie turns to him. JOSIE What about your boy? DUFF (defensively) What about him? JOSIE He could live with us. DUFF Let's just see how the two of us make out first, huh? INT. CHURCH Duff and Josie are getting married. Duff is waiting near the pulpit. The section hands are seated on one side of the aisle, Josie's family and friends on the other. The gospel piano segues into the wedding march. Josie is coming down the aisle by herself. She joins Duff and they step forward to face Reverend Dawson. DUFF AND JOSIE'S BEDROOM (Early morning) Josie lies in bed with closed eyes. She hears Duff move and turns to him. He is dressed for work. JOSIE Good luck, baby. He sits down beside her for a moment. INT. MOVING CAR Duff is in the rear seat with his new neighbor, Barney. Joe, a millhand, sits next to the driver in front. He turns to Duff. JOE Hard to get up in the morning, huh? DUFF (with a grin) That's right. How' you doin', Barney? BARNEY (not given to saying much) Okay. EXT. SMALL HOUSE The car drives up and Joe leans out. JOE Come on, Willie! Willie, a big man, has been fixing his front step. WILLIE Just a minute, man. JOE Come on - we're late! WILLIE (taking his time) Yazzuh, Boss - ah's comin' as fast as ah can. He picks up his lunch box and shuffles toward the car, Stepin' Fetchit style. JOE (laughing) Get in the car, man! INT. CAR Willie climbs in next to Duff. WILLIE How' you doing, man? DUFF Okay. (to the driver) Let's go. WILLIE That's right, Jethro - take us to the plant. And hurry, boy - ah's got a heavy day. The driver backs up fast, jerking the passengers forward. WILLIE Ah tells you, man - you give these niggers a machine and they go stark-ravin' wild! Laughter. INT. MILL ENTRANCE Duff is among the mill hands punching in on the time clock. VOICE OF FOREMAN (off screen) You new here? DUFF That's right. MILL YARD Duff and two other men are working on top of a pile of lumber. A white supervisor on a forklift has been watching them. FOREMAN (calling) Hey, Jack! Duff doesn't respond. FOREMAN Hey, boy - I'm talkin' to you. DUFF (after a moment) Name's Duff. FOREMAN How 'you doing? DUFF Okay. FOREMAN (genially) Looks like you're doin' a good job. DUFF Thanks. FOREMAN Don't say much, do you? DUFF Guess I don't. FOREMAN Just so you do your work. EXT. MILL SHED The mill hands are on their lunch break. The only white man among them is looking at Duff with a grin. WHITE Hell, I bet those black girls really go for you, huh? That's the best-lookin' colored girl in town. Duff is eating and says nothing. WHITE What's the matter? Still on your honeymoon, huh? Just like you, Barney. 'Been on your honeymoon for twen'y years, huh? BARNEY (cautiously) Yeah. The white mill hand helps himself to a piece of Barney's pie. WHITE How many kids you got now, Barney? BARNEY Four. WHITE (eating the pie) Hmmm - she can cook,too. Man, it's no wonder you 'been draggin' your tail on the job. You 'been doin' your best work at home. He notices that Duff's face is set. WHITE (aggressively) What's the matter, boy? Never smile? DUFF I'll smile when it's funny. WHITE So it wasn't funny, huh? Well, I thought it was. What d'you say, Barney? Wasn't it funny?! BARNEY Yeah, it was funny. WHITE Sure. (to the others) What d'you say, boys? Wasn't it funny? MILL HANDS Yeah. Sure. WHITE (to Duff) Trouble with you, boy, you ain't got no sense of humor. Ought to smile more. DUFF I know. WHITE You' new here, man! (he gets up to leave) See you, boys. JOE (to Duff after a moment) You know, man, that guy was trying to be friendly. DUFF That ain't my idea of friendliness. BARNEY You got to watch yourself pretty close. WILLIE Yeah, you want to get along, act the nigger. DUFF Like hell. You know, if you fellows stuck together 'stead of letting them walk all over you, they might not try it. JOE Like hell they wouldn't. WILLIE They been doin' it all my life. DUFF Maybe it's time you stopped letting them. Jesse, a heavy-set man who has been silent till now, stands up and looks at Duff. JESSE Man, you sound like a trouble man. EXT. DUFF AND JOSIE'S HOUSE (Dusk) The lights are on inside. DUFF AND JOSIE'S KITCHEN Duff is finishing his supper at the table. Josie is at the stove pouring coffee. She puts a piece of pie in front of him. He drinks his Coke out of the bottle. JOSIE Use the glass, honey. That's what it's for. DUFF (with a grin) Is that so? JOSIE Yeah, that's so. She returns to the stove. Duff picks up the pie and sniffs it suspiciously. JOSIE What's wrong? DUFF Smells like something crawled in there and died. JOSIE (innocently) Oh really? I thought it was pretty good. DUFF Come here, baby. He gets her to sit on his lap. DUFF Everything you cook is good. JOSIE Duff - you know those women you used to know-- He forks a bite of pie into her mouth. DUFF What about them? JOSIE (her mouth full) Am I as good as they? DUFF (drinking) Hmmm - good coffee. JOSIE You didn't answer my question. DUFF Baby, you're the best thing that ever happened to me. JOSIE You still didn't answer my question. DUFF Well, if you don't know I can't tell you. She elbows him in the stomach. He laughs. BACKYARD (Night) Duff is helping Josie take in the wash. Music from Barney's house. JOSIE You know how to box? DUFF Uh-huh. Why? JOSIE My kids want me to teach them. DUFF Okay. Come on. Put 'em up! She assumes the posture of a boxer. Duff laughs and adjusts her hands. DUFF Like so. There you go. Okay, hit me! JOSIE I don't want to hurt you. DUFF Go on - hit me! She does. DUFF Ooh! My, oh my! They spar - briefly in sync with the music. She goes after him, flailing her arms. The music is turned off abruptly and we hear Bessie's raised voice. She is out on the porch of her house, yelling at Barney. BESSIE Just leave me alone! You can sit out here all night. I don't care what you do! You're no good around the house anyway. Barney remains silent. Duff and Josie exchange a look. DUFF AND JOSIE'S BEDROOM (Night) They are in bed. DUFF (gravely) It sure scares you, a guy like that - settin' out on his porch, doin' nothin'. I seen hundreds of them - all my life. JOSIE My father's never done a thing for any of them. He touches her face. JOSIE I'm very happy, Duff. How about you? He smiles. Josie gets up and slips out of her nightgown. Her body merges with the darkness. DUFF AND JOSIE'S LIVING ROOM (Evening) The place has been painted and simply furnished. Josie has made dinner for the section hands. Pop is the only one who is still eating. FRANKIE You sure done a great job, Mrs. Anderson. JOSIE Thanks, but you haven't eaten very much. How about it, Frankie? I bet you could eat some more. FRANKIE No, thanks. RIDDICK (to Duff) How's that job comin'? DUFF Well, it ain't the railroad. Those guys are scared. Guess they've never known nothin' but takin' it. JOCKO (with an edge) They all got families to support. DUFF (good-naturedly) Yeah. That's right, Jocko. (to the others) Those white guys sure shoot up at you like a yeast cake if you just cock an eye at them. JOCKO (sarcastically) I guess you'll be making' some changes 'round here. DUFF (with a grin) What's eatin' you, Jocko? JOCKO Nothin'. I just figure you were the right man for the job. JOSIE (changing the subject) I guess you'll all keep workin' together, won't you? FRANKIE Heck, no. They're shippin' us all over the map. JOSIE That's too bad. RIDDICK If you wan' 'em, there's some expert dishwashers here. JOSIE No, thanks. My kitchen's too small. Riddick gets up. RIDDICK Okay, fellows - let's give the folks some privacy. DOORWAY The men, on their way out, shake hands with Duff. DUFF Good-bye, Frankie. FRANKIE 'Got a good thing, man. POP See ya. DUFF Take it easy, Pop. (shaking Riddick's hand) 'See you before you take off. JOCKO 'See ya. DUFF 'Bye, Jocko. BATHROOM (Night) Duff is washing his face at the sink. Josie comes up behind him. She is in her nightgown. JOSIE Duff. He turns to her. Instead of speaking, she turns her back to him. JOSIE My back itches. He scratches her back. JOSIE How would you like to have a baby, Duff? DUFF Huh? JOSIE Don't look so scared. DUFF You jivin' me? JOSIE Well, I haven't come around. Duff is taken aback. DUFF Ain't that something?! (recovering) That's just fine, baby. JOSIE We'll be all right. He kisses her and sits down on the rim of the bathtub. DUFF Man, we sure hit the jackpot fast around here. JOSIE What about your boy? DUFF How come you keep askin'? JOSIE I keep thinking about him. DUFF Well, he ain't mine, so skip it. She gargles. Duff moves over to her with a grin and puts his arms around her-- DUFF Baby, we're goin' to put a whole lot of little kids into this world. Hell, we'll swamp 'em. LOCKER ROOM, MILL The men are done for the day. Duff is putting on his shirt. Willie is under the shower. DUFF Hell, if they can do it in Birmingham - and that's a mean town, we oughta do something here. Willie says nothing. His eyes are on a white supervisor, who has stopped in the doorway. SUPERVISOR 'You Duff Anderson? DUFF That's right. SUPERVISOR Want to talk to you. DUFF Okay. SUPERVISOR I hear you're tryin' to organize this place! DUFF I don't know what you're talkin' about. SUPERVISOR That's no way to talk, boy. Now we had one of them union men 'round here coupla years ago. Stirred up a lot of trouble. They're always after you colored boys. DUFF I still don't know what you're talkin' about. SUPERVISOR You a union man? DUFF Used to be. On the railroad. SUPERVISOR Uh-huh. Well, this ain't the railroad. Now what's all this talk about stickin' together? DUFF Well, what d'you know?! He looks over at the other men. They avoid his eyes. SUPERVISOR Look, boy, we got a smooth operation here, and I aim to keep it that way. Now I got an idea you're plannin' trouble. DUFF No. You got the wrong idea. SUPERVISOR All right, then. All I want you to do is tell these boys here you didn't mean what you said about stickin' together an' all. Duff says nothing. The mill hands watch him silently. SUPERVISOR Want to keep your job, boy? DUFF What d'you think? SUPERVISOR Then do like I said. (to the men) Men - this boy here's got something to tell you-all. (to Duff) Well, how about it? Duff looks at the supervisor in silence, fully aware that he is about to be fired. He turns and opens his locker. SUPERVISOR Boy, you're actin' like a nigger with no sense. All right, go down' the office and get your pay. Tell them you're through. DUFF'S CAR He is driving past Josie's school and slows down. The kids are out in the yard but Josie is not in sight. He accelerates, his face set. DUFF AND JOSIE'S BEDROOM (Night) Josie is correcting papers on the bed. Duff is at the mantel, playing with a cat. He puts a small box over its head. The cat cries out and backs up clumsily, trying to free itself. JOSIE Don't, Duff. DUFF Yeah. He sits down. Josie comes over and sits on the arm of the chair. DUFF I'm jumpy, that's all. She runs her hand through his hair. JOSIE Well, you've had quite a day. He brushes her off: DUFF I don't like bein' mothered. When she touches him again, he jumps up. DUFF Jesus, baby -- leave me alone, will ya? He flings himself down on the bed. JOSIE (sitting down beside him) Don't deny me, Duff. DUFF Hell, baby - I met this beautiful chick and she's just dyin' for me, okay? She takes him by the shoulders and shakes him. JOSIE Don't be so silly. Duff laughs. DUFF Yeah. But just how're we goin' to make out? I got to get me a job. JOSIE You will. DUFF Pay is so damn low. I don't want my kids to grow up like Barney's. JOSIE They won't. DUFF I'm telling you, baby, maybe we better get out of here. JOSIE (gravely) We can always do that, Duff. DUFF Yeah. Yeah, I know. I'm not really thinkin' about it. Anyway, don't want those white guys laughin' up their sleeve at me when they see me pull out. EXT. HIRING SHED, MILL YARD Duff waits outside the open window, while the white man in the shed checks his job application. WHITE Yeah, we can use you. Ever work a saw mill? DUFF Yeah. WHITE Where was that? DUFF (after a moment's hesitation) Walker and Williams. WHITE What did you say your name is? DUFF Anderson. The man checks for Duff's name on a list. WHITE (turning to Duff) Sorry, boy, there ain't nothin' here. INT. RESTAURANT Duff is sitting at the lunch counter. Joe, the mill hand, comes in. JOE (to the waitress) Hello, Frances. He sits down next to Duff. JOE How 'you doin' man? DUFF (non-committal) Okay. JOE (to Frances) Cup of coffee. (to Duff) I 'been meanin' to talk to you. DUFF Oh yeah? JOE You know, over at the mill, there's just one guy that talked. It's kinda late to say it, but we shoulda acted different. The waitress brings his coffee. JOE Been over to the other mill? DUFF Yeah, I been there. JOE It's just that we're not used to seein' anyone stand up 'round here. Kinda took us by surprise. DUFF Oh yeah? That's good. INT. POOL HALL Duff is at the bar. BARTENDER Well, if you tried the mills, there ain't no other industry 'round here. DUFF How 'bout that furniture plant? BARTENDER (with a laugh) Man, the darkest thing they got in there is Coca-Cola. DUFF Yeah. BARTENDER Now, if you want to work like a real nigger, you can always go out and chop cotton. DUFF (grimly) They done that too long in my family. BARTENDER They pay you three bucks a day an' all the cotton you can eat. Duff laughs. HOTEL LOBBY Duff faces the white manager, who is behind the registration desk. MANAGER Yeah, I might have something for you, if you want to put on a uniform. Duff looks over at the one black man in the lobby - a uniformed bellhop emptying ashtrays. DUFF What's the pay? MANAGER Pay's ten dollars a week, plus tips and lunch. DUFF I see. Ain't for me, thanks. INT. GENERAL STORE The white proprietor has rung up the order for an elderly black woman. PROPRIETOR Now what about soap? WOMAN I got enough. PROPRIETOR (insisting) I got a good buy on soap. You go on over there an' take a look! (urging her on) Right over there. The woman goes over to look at the soap. The proprietor turns to Duff. PROPRIETOR Yes? DUFF I'm lookin' for work. PROPRIETOR I got a boy. Thanks. INT. DUFF'S CAR He is driving through town at a fast clip. The car rattles. INT. BEAUTY PARLOR The staff and clientele are black. Duff enters and sits down close to Josie, who is having her hair done. JOSIE Hi. DUFF Don't ask, baby - huh! (lowering his voice) How much money you got with you? JOSIE About ten dollars. DUFF Water pump's busted. I don't know if it's worth fixin', but I need that car. JOSIE You can have what I've got. It's right there. Duff opens her pocketbook, embarrassed by the women watching him. FLAT BED TRUCK It rattles over a country road between cotton fields. Duff stands among the field hands on the open flatbed. EXT. COTTON GIN The white foreman is up on the loading platform. He addresses a group of field hands looking for work. FOREMAN Startin' tomorrow mornin', we got work for fifteen hands. All we're gonna pay is two-fifty a day. Can't pay you the three 'cause ain't gonna be much of a crop this year. Now you all who want to work, step up and we'll take your name. Duff is among the few who leave. The others surge closer to the platform, ready to work for any wage. DUFF AND JOSIE'S PORCH (Night) Josie is sewing on the porch. Duff is in the yard a few feet away, using the back of an axe to hammer loose nails into an old chair. JOSIE It's not as hard on a girl. They're not afraid of us. Duff says nothing. JOSIE You know - we do have enough money. Especially now. DUFF (grimly) Sure, baby. 'Fact, I don't ever have to work no more. When that baby comes, I can just stay home and send you back to school. How about that? JOSIE I'm trying to help, Duff. DUFF Yeah! JOSIE (after a moment) I could work even after the baby comes. A few hours a week, anyway. DUFF What the hell could you do? JOSIE Day work. DUFF 'You kiddin'? You ain't goin' to no white home. I seen the way they look at you when you go down the street. He jumps up and raises the axe-- DUFF No point fixin' it! JOSIE (frightened) What're you going to do? He smashes the axe into the chair. JOSIE (jumping up) Don't do that! DUFF Watch out! He smashes the chair to pieces. DUFF (throwing down the axe) Good kindlin'! He turns to Josie. She is looking at him, deeply upset. DUFF What's bitin' you now!? She turns away. He jumps up onto the porch and grabs her. DUFF You heard me! JOSIE I can't stand to see you like that. I know you can't help it. DUFF (darkly) Stop bein' so damn understandin'. DUFF AND JOSIE'S LIVING ROOM (Day) Duff is on the sofa, looking up at Reverend Dawson. REVEREND DAWSON I know just how you feel, son. But believe me, you're going about it the wrong way. DUFF Don't look like there's a right way. REVEREND DAWSON Well, you have to be reasonable. Now they say you're a troublemaker. That's no good. Use a little psychology. Make 'em think you're going along - and get what you want. DUFF It ain't in me. REVEREND DAWSON You'll be in trouble, son. (after a moment) Now just how do you intend to support your family? DUFF I guess I'll rob a bank. REVEREND DAWSON Don't you get smart with me, boy. We hear a dish break. KITCHEN Josie is on the floor, picking up pieces of broken glass. LIVING ROOM REVEREND DAWSON Maybe you ought to move. You'd be a lot better off in the North. DUFF So I been told. REVEREND DAWSON It's for your own good. DUFF Oh yeah? (he gets up) Seems to me, Reverend, you' more concerned 'bout your good. Guess it looks kind 'a bad, havin' me for a son-in-law. REVEREND DAWSON You can be cocky now, boy. But you won't make it. You won't last. I just feel sorry for Josie. I knew it wouldn't work out. DUFF Well, at least she ain't married to no white man's nigger! You been stoopin' so long, Reverend, you don't even know how to stand straight no more. You' just half a man! KITCHEN Josie has cut her finger on the glass. She is weeping silently. LIVING ROOM Reverend Dawson turns to leave. His sense of calm superiority is shattered. REVEREND DAWSON (at the door) Maybe I could talk to Bud Ellis. He might have a job for you at his filling station. DUFF Oh yeah? REVEREND DAWSON I'll be seeing you. Josie has come into the room. JOSIE (gravely) 'Bye, Dad. DUFF AND JOSIE'S BEDROOM (Night) Duff watches Josie. She is sitting at her dressing table. DUFF How come you don't hate their guts? JOSIE I don't know. I guess I'm not afraid of them. DUFF You were plenty scared that night in the car. JOSIE Just of getting hurt. They can't touch me inside. DUFF Like hell they can't. (he gets up) They can reach right in with their damn white hands and turn you off and on. JOSIE Not if you see them for what they are, Duff. DUFF (exploding) Jesus, baby, you're so full of talk! Well, you ain't never really been a nigger, have you - livin' like that in your father's house! So just shut your mouth. EXT. GAS STATION (Night) Duff finishes pumping gas into Joe's car. DUFF That's two bucks, Joe. JOE (paying) Why don't you come over for a beer when you get through? DUFF Okay, I will. Brad Ellis, the white owner of the service station, comes out of his office. ELLIS Hey, Duff! Run the truck down Holly Road. There's a guy in the ditch. CAB OF TOW TRUCK (Night) Duff is driving along a wooded country road. Shreds of fog drift across the headlights. A ditched car comes into view, its front end crushed against a tree. A tubby white man stands beside it, waving to Duff with a flashlight. Duff passes him and backs up to the car. COUNTRY ROAD The owner comes toward him eagerly. OWNER Sure glad to see you, boy. Duff gets out of the tow truck to inspect the damaged car. The owner follows him, nervous and garrulous. OWNER Guess I was kinda lucky, huh? My wife's going to give me hell. Duff lowers the hoist on the truck. OWNER (anxiously) How you doin', boy? DUFF Okay. He gets under the car to attach the chain. OWNER Want me to hold the light for you? DUFF No, thanks. OWNER Just tryin' to be helpful. He continues talking, though Duff can't hear him. OWNER Most folks around here got no use for nigrahs. Got to understand them, that's all. How you doin', boy? DUFF (emerging from under the car) Okay. The owner tests the rig with his foot. OWNER Seems a little loose! DUFF (with a grin) She'll do. He starts raising the car. OWNER She ain't comin' up even! Duff ignores him. The chain slips and the car drops to the ground with a bang. OWNER (jumping back) Jesus, I told you to watch it! DUFF Sorry. He gets back under the car. OWNER That's the trouble with you boys! Don't listen when a man tells you something. DUFF She don't look no worse to me. OWNER Don't do her no good to get banged like that. DUFF (under the car) Don't do her no good to go into a tree. OWNER (enraged) What did you say, boy?! DUFF I said, she's in great shape. OWNER I heard you! Now 'stead of bein' smart, you just get that car out of here! GAS STATION (Night) Duff is changing a tire outside the repair bay. A car shoots out of the dark with its horn blaring, and screeches to a stop at the pump. Brad Ellis steps up to the driver. ELLIS Can I help you? The driver is the white mill hand who gave Duff a hard time at the mill. DRIVER (indicating Duff) Like some service from that boy there. Like the way he takes care of us. ELLIS Okay. Duff has come over. He is aware of impending trouble. One of the men in the car is the owner of the ditched vehicle. DUFF Fill her up? DRIVER No, boy. Thirty-eight cents worth of gas. And watch you don't make it thirty-nine. Duff starts the pump. DRIVER Didn't hear you say "Yessir!" Don't they say "Yessir" where you come from? Duff finishes pumping and puts the nozzle back onto the pump. DRIVER Boy - you hear me?! DUFF That'll be thirty-eight cents. DRIVER Goddamnit, nigger - you must think you're white! Who d'you think you are - king of Harlem? SECOND WHITE How 'bout this windshield, boy? Like a little service. Duff takes a moment before moving to the windshield and wiping it. The men inside the car watch him through the glass. THIRD WHITE Hell, they're getting' too big for their britches. SECOND WHITE Yeah, his wife's the same way, struttin' through town like she owns the place - shakin' that little rear end. THIRD WHITE It's all that education they're getting. DRIVER Real cool, ain't he! Just like we're not here. Duff moves over to the driver. DUFF That'll be thirty-eight cents. DRIVER You in a big hurry, boy? SECOND WHITE Yeah, he's tryin' to get home! DRIVER Bet she's pretty hot, huh? DUFF (very tense) You watch your mouth, man! The driver has finally found a way of getting to Duff and a grin spreads over his face. DRIVER I bet she's a sly little nigger, that girl. Wouldn't mind a piece of her myself! DUFF All right, you get out of here, man! DRIVER (exploding) Who're you tellin' to get, boy?! You watch it, or there'll be some dyin' done 'round here! DUFF That dyin's gonna be done two ways. He steps away from the car, a hand on the rear pocket where he keeps his knife. In the backseat, the owner of the ditched car looks nervous. OWNER Let's go, Al. He ain't worth it. DRIVER (turning on him) Now you stay out of it! Brad Ellis has come over. ELLIS What's goin' on? DRIVER You better get rid of this white-eyed nigger! ELLIS (to Duff) What happened? DRIVER Never mind! You keep him workin' here and this place won't be around. And I ain't kiddin'! He guns the engine and shoots out of the service station in a cloud of dust. Duff looks at Ellis, whose next move is predictable, and leaves the frame to run a water hose over the back of his neck. Ellis stops next to him. ELLIS Guess we got trouble. DUFF (blowing up) You ain't got none, Mister! ELLIS I'm sorry, Duff. DUFF (tossing down the hose) Don't tell me. I know. DUFF AND JOSIE'S LIVING ROOM (Night) Duff enters. Josie comes out of the bedroom in her nightgown. She has been waiting up. JOSIE I called the gas station. I've been worried. Duff slumps down on the sofa, utterly discouraged. DUFF Hell, if they don't blow up his place, they'll get him some other way. Don't make no difference no-how. JOSIE (anxiously) What d'you mean? DUFF Nothin. Quit lookin' at me like that! He gets up. JOSIE (approaching him) Duff, I love you. DUFF Well, that don't do me one bit of good! She touches him. JOSIE Come on, Duff - let's go to bed. He gives her a sudden, violent shove. It sends her sprawling to the floor. She picks herself up, weeping. DUFF I never should have married you in the first place. He stares at her. DUFF Ain't you goin' to say something? JOSIE There's nothing to say. DUFF Well, that'll be the first time. He leaves the room. DUFF AND JOSIE'S BEDROOM (Night) Duff is packing his things. Josie is on the bed. JOSIE Where're you going to go? DUFF When I get set, I'll send for you. JOSIE I don't think that'll happen. DUFF You'll be better off without me. I ain't fit to live with no more. It's just like a lynchin'. Maybe they don't use a knife on you, but they got other ways. JOSIE You're not a man because of a job, Duff. DUFF You don' know nothin' 'bout it, baby. Nothin'! And don't kid yourself - you did your bit. He closes his bag. DUFF Okay. JOSIE Duff-- DUFF (at the door) Like I said, baby - I'll write you. INT. DUFF'S CAR (Dawn) He is driving across a bridge into Birmingham. DOWNTOWN STREET Duff stands on a deserted corner. EXT. TENEMENT STAIRS Duff climbs up to Will Anderson's room. WILL'S ROOM Will is sitting at the table in a drunken stupor. There is a knock at the door. WILL Who is it? LEE It's your son. Duff enters. WILL My son? I ain't got no son. You Duff? DUFF That's right. WILL Beat it! He gets up and staggers toward Duff DUFF Take it easy, Pop. WILL What's the matter? Don't smell so good, huh? Must'a broken some records. He pushes Duff away and pours himself a glass of whiskey. His hands are shaking. DUFF (trying to restrain him) Come on, Pop. LEE Nothing you can do. Been like this for days. WILL Got no use for nobody. He raises the glass to his mouth, but drops it and puts his hand on the back of his head. DUFF What is it? What's the matter? Lee grabs Will and pushes him onto the bed. LEE (at the end of her rope) Now you lay down and get some sleep! Will grabs her blindly and pulls her down onto the bed. LEE (freeing herself, furious) You let go! She starts picking up the broken glass. Will sits up again. He is dazed. LEE Now you stay put! WILL (leaving the bed) I ain't drunk, honey. LEE Like hell you ain't! He sits down at the table and touches the back of his head. WILL Got a thick feelin' here. LEE What's the matter now? WILL Better now. (closing his eyes) Where 'you at? LEE (concerned) Right here. She puts her hand on his forehead. WILL Couldn't get the words out before. DUFF Better get him to a hospital. WILL Didn't I tell you to beat it - huh? LEE (taking Will's arm) Let's go. WILL Anything you say, baby. With Duff's help, Lee raises Will out of the chair. EXT. TENEMENT, RAIN Duff has helped Lee get Will into the backseat of his car. Through the window we see him grope blindly for Lee's breast. INT. MOVING CAR Duff, in the driver's seat, is lost in thought. LEE (off-screen) Duff. Duff turns to her. Will's head is in her lap. LEE He stopped breathin'. Duff stops the car. INT. FUNERAL PARLOR The undertaker sits down behind his desk. He lays out Will's watch and a few other belongings for Duff and Lee, who are standing in front of him. UNDERTAKER We thought you might want these. DUFF Thanks. UNDERTAKER Would you like me to say anything tomorrow? DUFF Guess so. UNDERTAKER Have anything in mind? DUFF No. What you usually say, I guess. UNDERTAKER Where was your father born? DUFF I don't know. He looks at Lee. She shakes her head. UNDERTAKER His profession? DUFF Well, he worked around. UNDERTAKER And his age? DUFF I don't know. Forty-eight, I guess. UNDERTAKER Any other family? DUFF No. Just me. (he includes Lee) Me an' her. UNDERTAKER Well, I guess that's all till tomorrow. DUFF Okay, thanks very much. URBAN CEMETERY, BIRMINGHAM The mechanical arm of a backhoe opens up a new grave. Duff and Lee walk away from the burial site. The camera moves with them. LEE What're you going to do? Duff says nothing. LEE Want to come up the house? You can stay there till you get on your feet. There's no point paying a hotel. DUFF No thanks, Lee. LEE It's just that I hate empty rooms. DUFF Sure. LEE Well, what're you going to do? DUFF I guess I'll make me some trouble in that town. LEE Going back, huh? DUFF That's right. LEE They'll run you out. DUFF No, they won't. LEE How 'you gonna live? DUFF I can always chop cotton if I have to. (he stops) If you want a ride, I'll take you home. LEE No, thanks. I'll take the bus. DUFF Okay. LEE Don't be too hard on him. DUFF Hell, I'm just like him. LEE I know he wasn't much of a father. DUFF Who is?! LEE Good-bye, Duff. She walks away. BIRMINGHAM ALLEYWAY (Night) From the interior of Duff's car we see Duff come out of Effie Simms' house, carrying James Lee through the rain. He deposits the scared-looking boy in the front seat and gets in on the driver's side. James Lee shrinks as far away from Duff as the seat allows. DUFF (with a kindly grin) That window's broke, boy. You stay over there, you're gonna get awful wet. INT. MOVING CAR (Dawn) The sun is coming up through the trees. James Lee is asleep on the front seat. DUFF AND JOSIE'S LIVING ROOM Duff brings in the sleeping boy and puts him down on the sofa. Then he leaves to get his belongings. Josie has woken up and comes in from the bedroom in her nightgown. She sees James Lee and leans over him. JOSIE (softly) Hi. James Lee opens his eyes. Josie hears Duff enter and turns to him. They come together and hold each other for a long moment. DUFF Ain't gonna be easy, baby - but it's gonna be all right. Josie is weeping. DUFF Baby I feel so free inside.