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THE BASEMENT

by
Tommy O'Haver
&
Irene Turner

02/04/06

The following is an interpretation of events based on the case


'Baniszewski vs. The State of Indiana,' 1966.
All testimony is taken from court records.

EXT. OLD TIME CARNIVAL - DAY


Dreamy Super-8 shots of clouds and rides and sky.
children. Satisfied parents.

Joyous

SYLVIA (V.O.)
I used to love the carnival. Mama
and Daddy worked all the fairs.
Selling pretzels. Cotton candy.
TWO GIRLS run through the crowds. The younger one has a leg
brace, but the older one pulls her along.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
Daddy always chased a dream of
something better. Sometimes Mama
would follow.
The TICKET TAKER affectionately waves the girls into the
funhouse. They don't need a ticket.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
So we moved around a lot.
Cincinnati, Indianapolis. Even
California for a little. Sometimes
with the carnival, sometimes not.
Crazy mirrors.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
When we weren't with the carnival,
life seemed pretty dull.
Silly steps.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
See, the carnival, it wasn't like
regular life.
Fluorescent spiders.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
It was always like a new adventure,
with a whole new family every time.
It's dark, but not threatening.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
'Cause at the carnival, everyone's
family. Wherever you go, you take
'em with you.

2.

A MAN IN A MUMMY SUIT pats the girls on the head.


delightedly.

They laugh

SYLVIA (V.O.)
And when you got family, no matter
how scary it gets, you know it'll
be all right in the end.
The girls slide out of the darkness into the blinding sun.
Right into the arms of their PARENTS.
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. COURTROOM - MORNING
MAHALIA JACKSON'S "WALK IN JERUSALEM" ON SOUNDTRACK.
A huge blow-up of six smiling girls, aged 11-17, is placed on
an easel.
That's me.
left.

SYLVIA (V.O.)
Sylvia. Third from the

EXT. INDIANA STATE SUPREME COURT - SAME


TITLE:

"Indianapolis, Indiana, April 1966."

LAWYERS surround a MAN and a WOMAN walking with a 15-year-old


GIRL. ANOTHER GIRL, slightly older, hangs behind them. (Both
were in the photo from before). REPORTERS rush up to snap
photos.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
And this... this is my story.
FLASH!

FLASH!

The 15-year-old hides her face.


INT.

It's total chaos.

COURTROOM - SAME

The seats fill up. Parents pull their children in through


the crowd, scrambling for seats.

3.

EXT. INDIANA STATE SUPREME COURT - SAME


More FLASHES. An eight-year-old BOY clutches the hand of an
eleven-year-old GIRL (again, we may recognize her from the
photo). Both look like they might cry.
INT. COURTROOM - SAME
As the jury enters:
placed on an easel.

more giant black-and-white photos being

But these photos are far more gruesome.


A DISJOINTED ARM WITH A HUGE BRUISE.
CIGARETTE BURNS ON A SHOULDER.
AN ABDOMEN, ON WHICH WE SEE THE CRUDELY CARVED WORDS:
'I'M A PROSTITUTE AND PROUD OF IT.'
The jury members sit, trying to ignore the images.
Song ends.
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
Camera locked-off on a man sitting on the stand.
the gruff voice of a prosecutor:
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Please state your name.
LESTER
Lester Likens.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
And you are married to Betty
Likens?
Yes.

LESTER

Off-screen,

4.

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Did you and your wife ever
separate?
Yes.

LESTER

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
What period of time did that occur?
LESTER
The last week in June, 1965. She
was at Euclid Street and I was in
Lebanon, Indiana.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Where were the children?
LESTER
Jennie Faye and Sylvia Marie was
with her.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
When did you next see them?
LESTER
About a week after we separated...
EXT. LIKENS APARTMENT - DAY
A wood frame apartment building on a cheap Indianapolis
street. Small, but not too trashy.
TITLE:

"Indianapolis, Indiana, July, 1965."

SYLVIA LIKENS, a 16-year-old girl with soft brown curls,


roller skates and spins in front of the broken curb.
Her plain sister JENNIE, 15, looks on admiringly. With the
polio brace on her leg, she'll never skate. As Sylvia grabs
a lamppost and spins around it, Jennie claps.
JENNIE
I'll bet lots of boys're gonna ask
you to skate down at the rink!
SYLVIA
They'll have to catch me first.
She skates quickly towards her sister and tries to stop, but
falls on her butt.

5.

SYLVIA
They will catch me, if I skate like
that.
They both laugh.
Across the way, a heavyset LESTER LIKENS, 39, gets out of a
battered Mustang. He's juggling a suitcase and a six-pack of
beer.
Daddy!

JENNIE

They rush to hug him.


SYLVIA
What're you doin' here? You comin'
home for good this time?
LESTER
Depends on your Mama, Cookie.
He heads inside.
INT. STUDIO APARTMENT - DAY
Sylvia and Jennie eavesdrop on their parents in the kitchen.
Lester drinks a beer while his wife, BETTY, 36, unpacks her
dishes. Other boxes are scattered throughout.
BETTY
So you talked to Horst?
LESTER
He says we might be able to swing
our own stand at the state fair
this year. Maybe make enough money
to tour.
BETTY
Lester, I told you, I can't do it
anymore. Not with the girls.
LESTER
Maybe my mother'll take 'em.
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
As Sylvia and Jennie listen in.

6.

JENNIE
(whisper)
Uggh. Not Grandma Martin...
Shhh...

SYLVIA

INT. STUDIO APARTMENT - SAME


Lester opens another beer.
BETTY
I cant move them up there again.
They havent even had a chance to
make friends down here yet.
LESTER
So well find somebody down here to
watch em.
Lester comes up behind Betty, puts a hand on her shoulder.
LESTER
I know I ain't been the best
husband and father. But that's all
over...
She shrugs him off.
LESTER
Is it the drinking?
stop.
Look...

Because I can

He drops his beer can in the garbage.


LESTER
I can stop.
A HONK from the street outside.
head in through the front door.
Mama?

Sylvia and Jennie peek their

SYLVIA
Church bus is here.

BETTY
You two run along. I got to settle
things with your father.
Sylvia, reluctant at first, grabs Jennie's hand and they head
out. Lester puts his arms around Betty's waist.

7.

LESTER
Maybe we won't fight as much
without the kids around. It'll be
just you and me, like the old
days...
She starts to give in.
INT. GRACE MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH - MORNING
Churchgoers in Sunday pastels sing "Now Thank We All Our
Lord."
In the congregation: a seemingly ordinary, if somewhat
large, family. SHIRLEY, 10, sits next to JIMMY, 8 and
JOHNNY, 12, who is currently pulling his 11-year-old sister
MARIE's hair.
MARIE
(whispering)
Johnny stop it.
Their mother, GERTRUDE BANISZEWSKI, 37, quiets them with a
look. The toll of raising seven kids is beginning to show.
She holds a BABY, which struggles for a moment, then breaks
into a bawl. Gertrude heads out of the pew as the song ends.
At the pulpit, REVEREND ROY JULIAN, 33, and fresh out of
seminary, begins to read.
REV. JULIAN
See what love the Father has given
us, that we should be called
children of God; and so we are.
As Gertrude reaches the back of the church she passes Sylvia
and Jennie sitting in the back.
REV.
But if any one
goods and sees
yet closes his
how does God's

JULIAN
has the world's
his brother in need,
heart against him,
love abide in him?

Jennie watches Gertrude leave with the crying baby. Her eye
catches that of a CUTE BOY, 17, who seems to be checking out
Sylvia.
Jenny nudges Sylvia. Sylvia looks to the Young Man, who
gives her a small smile. Sylvia turns away somewhat
uncomfortably, leans into Jenny:

8.

SYLVIA
(sotto)
Pay attention.
Jenny smiles.
EXT. CHURCH FRONT STEPS - DAY
The congregation floods out from the sanctuary.
toss around a ball out front.

Children

ON THE STEPS
Sylvia helps Jennie down.
it up.

A ball rolls over.

Jennie picks

Marie Baniszewski, the tomboyish, sassy girl of 11, runs to


get the ball. Stops and gives Jennie the once over, the way
kids will.
MARIE
What happened to your leg?
Her quiet sister Shirley, age 10, comes up behind her.
SHIRLEY
That's not polite, Marie.
It's okay.

SYLVIA
She's used to it.

MARIE
So what is it?
Polio.

JENNIE

MARIE
Does it hurt?
An impatient Gertrude has the baby, Jimmy and Johnny.
GERTRUDE
Shirley, Marie! Bus is leaving.
She breaks into a COUGHING fit.
MARIE
My Mama's sick, too...

Marie turns to Jennie.

9.

INT. CHURCH BUS - LATER


The old white bus is full, and the Baniszewski family is
separated.
Sylvia and Jennie Likens are turned to the side in a green
vinyl seat, so they can talk with Marie and Shirley, who are
hanging over the seat from behind.
SHIRLEY
Why ain't you with your parents?
SYLVIA
They're at home.
JENNIE
They might be goin' to travel with
the carnival.
SHIRLEY
Are they acrobats or somethin'?
JENNIE
Nah, they run the concessions.
MARIE
You get to go with them?
Sometimes.

SYLVIA

MARIE
That must be fun.
Gertrude, a few seats ahead, looks out the window as the bus
pulls up in front of a Shell station. She gets up.
GERTRUDE
All right, girls.
Marie grabs Shirley's hand.
MARIE
We gotta go.
SHIRLEY
Can't they come with us?
won't care.
MARIE
Wanna come?

Mama

10.

Jennie looks up to Sylvia, waiting for an answer.


Sure.

SYLVIA

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY


A two-story house perches on the tiny corner lot, its white
wood faded and grimy. It's obviously not the best part of
town, but still pretty ordinary.
Gertrude crosses the street with Jimmy and Johnny.
and Marie lag back, with Sylvia and Jennie in tow.

Shirley

A 17-year-old girl appears on the front porch. We recognize


her from the first scene photo. Slightly overweight, she's
maybe too eager to please. This is PAULA BANISZEWSKI.
PAULA
Guess who got stuck with an extra
shift?
Gertrude ignores her question as she heads up the walk.
GERTRUDE
You get paid?
PAULA
Uh-huh. And got a little somethin'
extra for dinner...
Holds up a bag with a couple styrofoam containers. Gertrude
hands her the baby and takes the bag. Paula notices Sylvia
and Jennie.
PAULA
Where'd they come from?
Gertrude turns to see the girls, directs a look to Shirley.
GERTRUDE
What's this?
SHIRLEY
We invited 'em to stay and play.
MARIE
We'll be quiet.
GERTRUDE
(giving in)
You make sure of it.

11.

INT. BEDROOM - LATER


The needle hits the spinning vinyl of a portable record
player.
MUSIC UP: "Downtown by Petula Clark
The room is nearly empty. One bed and a mattress on the
floor. A few magazine photos - the Beatles, Bobbie Vinton,
Tab Hunter, etc. - pasted above.
A dingy full-length mirror leans against one wall. Jennie
sits in front of it in a metal folding chair. Shirley and
Marie style her hair.
On the bed, Sylvia flips through a magazine.
to her.
SYLVIA
What's your Daddy do?
SHIRLEY
He's a cop. But we don't see him
much.
SYLVIA
You miss him any?
Nah.

PAULA
I just miss his money.

The other girls are shocked.


Paula!

SHIRLEY

PAULA
Well, it's true. If he was more
regular with his support, maybe
Mama wouldn't be so sick. And I
wouldn't have to work so hard.
MARIE
Little Denny's got a different
daddy.
JENNIE
Little Denny?
PAULA
The baby. But we ain't supposed to
talk about that.

Paula lies next

12.

She hops out of the bed to give Marie a pinch.


Stop it!

MARIE

Another girl, DARLENE MCGUIRE, 15, appears at the door.


SHIRLEY
Stephanie aint here, Darlene.
DARLENE
Mom aint home, and Im hungry!
PAULA
Theres some food from the
restaurant downstairs. But dont
let Gertie see you...
Marie takes her hand.
MARIE
Cmon, lets get some.
Shirley finishing spraying Jennie's hair with some Aqua-net.
There.

SHIRLEY

JENNIE
You could do this for a living!
PAULA
If she was old enough.
SHIRLEY
(turns to Sylvia)
You want me to do yours?
Sylvia plops down in the chair.
SYLVIA
Maybe you could just give it a
little spray.
Paula stares at her deeply in the mirror, a little envious
perhaps?
PAULA
You got nice hair.
Yeah.

JENNIE
She's the pretty one.

13.

Shirley finishes her quick spray, posing with a hand on her


hip.
SHIRLEY
I'm pretty, too.
PAULA
The hell you are.
Sylvia laughs.
SYLVIA
Paula, you shouldn't talk like that
in front of them...
PAULA
Hell, I can talk however I want.
Sylvia plays along, tries to match the older girl's bravado.
SYLVIA
The hell you can.
Both girls laugh.
PAULA
(to Sylvia)
I tell you what - let's go get a
Coke. My boyfriend works at the
IGA - he can sneak us out a couple.
Sure.

SYLVIA

As Paula jumps up from the bed, she gives Shirley a playful


slap on the butt.
PAULA
Now you girls behave!
Sylvia follows her out.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Again, sparsely-furnished. A baby's bassinet in one corner.
A worn-couch sits in front of a black-and-white television
set. On top of the television set, bottles of medication.
Piles of clothes litter a coffee table. Just above it,
Gertrude irons, a cigarette dangling from her mouth.
As Paula rushes down the stairs with Sylvia behind her:

14.

PAULA
We're going to the grocery...
They head outside, Gertrude calling after them.
GERTRUDE
Tell Dennis he owes me for little
Denny. And don't be wastin' time
on that bag boy.
PAULA
He ain't a bag boy, Mama.
GERTRUDE
He's still a waste of space.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME
Johnny and Jimmy playing on the lawn as Paula and Sylvia head
down the walk.
PAULA
She don't like my boyfriend.
SYLVIA
I can see that.
As they head away from the house, a truck pulls up. Inside
is Paula's prettiest sister STEPHANIE, 15, and her semidelinquent boyfriend COY HUBBARD, 16. Stephanie's slim and
confident. She too was in the photo from the first scene.
Stephanie leans out the window.
Hey...

STEPHANIE

PAULA
You weren't at church.
STEPHANIE
Well Coy and I are headed over
there now.
PAULA
You better be.
Stephanie rolls her eyes.

Paula and Sylvia head off.

PAULA
Stephanie just got back from
staying with our Dad.
(MORE)

15.
PAULA (cont'd)
She's a real help around the house,
when she ain't wastin' time with
Coy.
SYLVIA
Well, my parents might be gettin'
back together.
PAULA
You should be happy.
SYLVIA
But if they get back together it
may just split the rest of us up.
EXT. IGA GROCERY LOADING BAY - DAY
DENNIS LEE WRIGHT, a somewhat unkempt man of 22, sits on
empty boxes on the side of the IGA, smoking a cigarette with
another worker.
Paula and Sylvia arrive.
him.
Hey Paula.

Paula obviously not happy to see

DENNIS

PAULA
Mama was askin' after her money.
DENNIS
(laughs)
I'll bet she was. You tell her
I'll get back to her.
(intrigued)
Who's your friend?
Sylvia.
trash.

PAULA
But she don't talk to

Paula grabs Sylvia and heads toward the front of the store.
Dennis turns to his friend.
DENNIS
Just like her mama.
bitch.
He stamps out his cigarette.

A goddamn

16.

EXT. IN FRONT OF IGA GROCERY - SAME


Paula takes Sylvia up to a window where they can see BRADLEY
studiously counting out bills. He's not much, but Paula's
proud of him.
PAULA
That's him. That's Bradley.
SYLVIA
He's real cute.
Bradley turns to see them watching him in the window.
waves. Bradley ignores her.
PAULA
Gotta be real careful.
Why?

SYLVIA

PAULA
'Cause he's married!
She laughs.

Sylvia joins in.

PAULA
I'm not shittin' you!
(beat)
Dont tell me you never had a
boyfriend...
SYLVIA
There was this guy in California.
But it was nothin.
PAULA
Tell me you did more than kiss.
No way!

SYLVIA

PAULA
Youre just so damn pure!
They laugh again.
Shhh...

Paula knocks at the window.


PAULA

Bradley finally gives in, nods toward the back.

Paula

17.

C'mon!

PAULA

She grabs Sylvia's hand and they head around to the back of
the store.
INT. LIVING ROOM - LATER
On the baby, crying in the bassinet. The wail cuts through
the sounds of children playing upstairs. Gertrude reaches in
and picks him up.
Shirley!

GERTRUDE

Shirley appears from the top of the stairs.


GERTRUDE
Shirley, I need you to feed little
Dennis. If I don't get this
ironing to Mrs. Duke by four, I
ain't gettin' a tip.
SHIRLEY
We're out of milk.
GERTRUDE
Then go get some.
SHIRLEY
They won't give us no more credit
at the store.
As Gertrude heads into the kitchen:
GERTRUDE
They will if you take the baby with
you.
A KNOCK on the door.
standing out front.
Mama!

Shirley opens it to see Lester Likens


SHIRLEY

Gertrude appears from the kitchen.


LESTER
Somebody said they saw my girls
here.

18.

INT. COURTROOM - MORNING


LESTER LIKENS sits uncomfortably on the stand.
LESTER
I was never even thinking about her
wanting to take care of the
children. I was going to take them
back to my mother's in Lebanon.
But we got to talking...
INT. LIVING ROOM - LATER
As Lester sits on the couch, Gertrude pours bourbon onto some
ice and hands him the drink.
GERTRUDE
So you got no family here in Indy?
LESTER
Not that I can leave em with.
A KNOCK comes on the door. Gertrude crosses to answer it.
Little ANNA SISCOE, 11, displays a cute smile -- missing one
tooth.
ANNA SISCOE
Is Shirley here?
Upstairs.

GERTRUDE

Gertrude steps out of the way.


stairs.

And little Anna rushes up the

LESTER
Looks like you got kids running in
and out of here all day.
Gertrude sits down next to him on the couch.
GERTRUDE
Im kinda like a house-mother to
all the kids in the neighborhood.
(beat)
Why dont you leave Sylvia and
Jennie with me?
LESTER
I couldnt do that.

19.

GERTRUDE
I got seven kids. Two more aint
gonna make a difference.
She puts a hand on his knee.

Almost seductively.

GERTRUDE
And to be frank, I could use the
money.
Lester shifts uncomfortably, pulling his leg away.
LESTER
Ill talk to my wife about it.
Gertrude pulls her hand away, slightly embarrassed.
INT. COURTROOM - MORNING
Lester on the stand.

Again, an attorney speaks off-screen.

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
So you had never met Gertrude
Baniszewski before that day?
No sir.

LESTER

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
And you were willing to leave your
children with a complete stranger?

Yes.

LESTER
(struggling)

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - A COUPLE DAYS LATER


Lester and Betty stand in front of their broken-down Mustang.
Sylvia and Jennie each pull a box of clothes from the back
seat as Gertrude heads down the walk to greet Lester. Johnny
in the yard playing with the dog. Paula stands on the porch
with Shirley and Darlene McGuire.
LESTER
Here's twenty dollars now.
Betty goes to her purse, pulls out her pocketbook.

20.

LESTER
We'll have the next payment to you
a week Thursday.
Betty holds out a twenty-dollar bill.

Gertrude takes it.

GERTRUDE
I'll need that money.
LESTER
You'll have it.
BETTY
The circuit'll be dying down 'round
October. We'll come back for the
girls then.
Sylvia puts her arms around her mother.
SYLVIA
I don't want you to go.
BETTY
We'll be back before you know it.
Lester pats her head.
LESTER
Don't worry, Cookie. Everything
will work itself out.
(beat)
Now you girls don't go makin'
trouble for Gertie, here.
JENNIE
We'll be good.
LESTER
(to Gertrude)
You'll have to take care of these
girls with a firm hand. Because
their mother's let them do as they
please.
BETTY
(embarrassed)
Lester.
GERTRUDE
Ill treat them like my own.

21.

Gertrude clutches the twenty and stuffs it into her pocket as


Lester and Betty get into their car. Gertrude turns to
Johnny, still playing in the yard.
GERTRUDE
Johnny, get that dog back in the
basement.
The girls wave good-bye as their parents disappear down the
road.
EXT. ARSENAL TECH HIGH SCHOOL - MORNING
STUDENTS are crowded out front gossiping about their summers
before the beginning of a new year.
Paula walks with Sylvia. Up ahead they see Coy Hubbard
standing with a group of boys, including RANDY LEPPER, 16.
RANDY LEPPER
Hey, Paula, did ya get your cherry
popped this summer?
PAULA
You sure didn't, Randy - not with a
face like that.
The guys laugh.
COY
Paula, you know we're just playin'.
PAULA
Well, go play with yourself.
Sylvia lets a little smile sneak through.
PAULA
Coys okay. But Randys a goddam
delinquent.
As RICKY HOBBS, 14, catches up with her.
brooding loner.

He's something of a

RICKY
Those guys, they're always messing
with somebody.
SYLVIA
I'm sure she'll be okay.
Sylvia moves on.

Ricky stays with her.

22.

RICKY
You living with Paula and them?
SYLVIA
How'd you know?
RICKY
We live around the corner.
Ricky Hobbs.

Im

She smiles holds out her hand.


Sylvia.

SYLVIA

RICKY
I hope Ill be seeing you around
some. Maybe... I dunno, maybe we
could have lunch some time?
Sylvia shakes her head.
SYLVIA
Ricky, what year are you?
Freshman.

RICKY

SYLVIA
Well, maybe you better stick to
girls your own age.
The boys start razzing an embarrassed Ricky as Sylvia catches
up with Paula.
PAULA
None of them are any good.
SYLVIA
Aw, theyre just kids.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Gertrude is doing her ironing, when a knock comes on the
door. Before she can answer it, Dennis Wright enters,
obviously familiar with Gertrude and her surroundings.
He grabs Gertrude around the waist and gives her a kiss.
She's surprised, excited.
GERTRUDE
I hope you brought my money.

23.

DENNIS
Just came by to see my babies - you
and Denny, Jr.
He walks over the bassinet, and pokes his head in to see his
child.
DENNIS
I got my call up papers. Should be
reporting for boot camp next month.
Gertrude is visibly upset.
DENNIS
Dont worry. Ill be gettin a
paycheck, so I can make my payments
regular.
He pulls up her skirt.

Plays with her thighs.

GERTRUDE
Not in front of the baby.
DENNIS
He don't mind.
Some rough caresses.
DENNIS
In the meantime, I was hopin you
could spare a few bucks.
Denny...

GERTRUDE

DENNIS
I wanna visit my Mom in Lebanon
before I leave.
GERTRUDE
If I had the money, I'd give it to
you.
DENNIS
I saw your new boarder. Don't tell
me you're doing that for charity.
GERTRUDE
I need that money for my children.
And without your...

24.

DENNIS
I ain't paying for another man's
kids.
GERTRUDE
Yeah, well you ain't paying for
your own.
SLAP. Dennis whacks Gertrude on the cheek.
regrets it.

Immediately

DENNIS
Sorry, Gertie.
He kisses her on the throat. More rough caresses. He starts
unbuckling his pants. She wraps her arms around him, giving
in.
EXT. ARSENAL TECH HIGH SCHOOL - DAY
In the parking lot that separates the school from the junior
high, students leave for the day. Jennie leans on her
crutch, rounding up the younger ones. Johnny hurls his
bookbag across the lot.
Johnny!

JENNIE

Sylvia and Paula approach.


SYLVIA
So how was the first day?
Jennie turns, happy to see her sister.
JENNIE
I actually made a couple friends.
Sylvia gives her a hug.
PAULA
See, we aint such bad people here
on the South side...
Johnny rushes over.

Paula leans in to Sylvia.

PAULA
Can you walk the kids home?
Theres something... I gotta do.
SYLVIA
Is everything alright?

25.

PAULA
Just tell my Mama I picked up a
shift at work.
SYLVIA

Sure.

Paula heads off, leaving Sylvia looking a little concerned.


She snaps back to attention as Johnny hurls his bag again.
JOHNNY

Damn!
Johnny!
guys...

SYLVIA
Okay, time to go home,

INT. GERTRUDES BEDROOM - SAME


As Dennis hops out of bed and pulls on his pants. He lights
up a couple cigarettes, hands one to Gertrude. She takes a
drag, coughs.
GERTRUDE
Could you?...
She points up to a bottle of cough suppressant on the
dresser. He hands it over. She takes a swig.
Denny sits in the window watching her.
DENNIS
You know, Paulas lookin more and
more like you every day.
Lucky her.

GERTRUDE

Gertrude steps out of bed, starts pulling on some clothes.


DENNIS
You better watch her though. Shes
been sneakin around with Bradley
again. And I dont want to think
about whatll happen. His wifes
got some temper.
Gertrude doesnt look happy. Dennis crosses to the mirror on
the dresser, runs his hands through his hair.

26.

DENNIS
So, you think I could get that
money?
On Gertrude.

It stings.

But she gives in.

GERTRUDE
Theres a twenty in the top drawer.
She exits.
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
Everyone's there except Paula and Stephanie. Gertrude,
Marie, Johnny, Jimmy, Sylvia and Jennie crowd around a chairless table. They hold hands over the baloney sandwiches,
spread across the table on paper plates.
SYLVIA
Bless this food to our use and us
to thy service. Amen.
GERTRUDE
Thank you Sylvia.
As the family digs in, the dog starts barking, whining from
downstairs.
GERTRUDE
One of you kids get down there and
feed that dog.
JOHNNY
Sure Mama...
He opens the basement door and rushes downstairs.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
As Gertrude enters with her plate, Paula comes through the
door, looking upset.
PAULA
I'm sorry I'm late.
GERTRUDE
Where have you been?
PAULA
I picked up a shift from Ellen.
As Paula starts to head upstairs, Gertrude grabs her.

27.

GERTRUDE
I told you I didnt want you seeing
him and I mean it.
PAULA
I didnt see him.
GERTRUDE
Dont lie to me.
PAULA
What, was he here?
something?

Did Dennis say

Gertrude cant answer.


PAULA
You just dont want me making the
same mistakes you made.
Gertrude suddenly SMACKS HER. Hard across the face. Tears
well up in Paula's eyes. She runs upstairs. The dogs howl
rings through the house.
GERTRUDE
I thought I said to feed that dog!
INT. KITCHEN, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME
As the dogs whining continues, Shirley and Jennie stick
their head in through the door to the basement. Jennies
P.O.V. reveals...
INT. BASEMENT - SAME
A glimpse of rough cement floor, splintered wooden stairs.
The wailing dog struggles against his chain from underneath
the staircase, as Johnny holds his food bowl just out of
reach.
Johnny!

SHIRLEY
Be nice!

He shoots her a look, then pushes the bowl to the dog.


INT. BEDROOM - DAY
Paula's head is buried in a pillow as Sylvia creeps
tentatively into the doorway. They whisper.

28.

SYLVIA
What's wrong, Paula?
PAULA
I got problems, Sylvia.
problems.

Big

SYLVIA
Is it Bradley?
PAULA
I was at the doctor's office.
(breaking down again)
I'm pregnant.
What?

SYLVIA

PAULA
I'm goddamn pregnant.
Paula...

SYLVIA

PAULA
Hes already got two kids. He
ain't gonna want another one. I
don't know what I'm gonna do.
SYLVIA
You gotta tell him.
I cant.

PAULA

SYLVIA
Paula, you gotta.
PAULA
I dont know. I cant.
Paula tries to gather her wits.
hair.

Sniffling, straightening her

PAULA
Promise you won't say anything.
Sylvia nods.
PAULA
Not a word to anybody.
figure this out.

Not 'til I

29.

Sylvia puts an arm around her.

Concerned.

FADE TO BLACK.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Sun shines down as the mailman starts up the walk.
INT. BANISZEWSKI LIVING ROOM - SAME
Gertrude is doing her ironing. Notices the MAILMAN through
the window and goes to the door to meet him.
MAILMAN
Hello, Gertrude. Just bills
today...
Hands her a few pieces of mail. Starts back down the walk.
Gertrude goes through them, calls after him.
GERTRUDE
Nothing else?
He flips through the mail in hand.
Sorry.

Shakes his head.

MAILMAN

Starts back down the walk.


face.

Frustration shows in Gertrudes

EXT. SHELL STATION - LATER


Gertrude picks up a pay phone and puts a dime in.
number from a small scrap of paper.
A pleasant female voice answers.
VOICE (O.S.)
Bon-air Motel.
GERTRUDE
Lester and Betty Likens, please.
Gertrude anxiously chews at her bottom lip.
VOICE (O.S.)
It doesnt look like we have a
Likens listed.

Dials a

30.

GERTRUDE
They were supposed to be at this
number until Friday.
VOICE (O.S.)
Im pretty sure... Yes.
checked out yesterday.

They

GERTRUDE
But theyre supposed to still be
there.
VOICE (O.S.)
Im sorry, ma'am, but theyre not.
Is there anything else I can help
you with?
Gertrude hangs up.
INT. GERTRUDES BEDROOM - SAME
Gertrude enters, opens up her drawer, and starts to count her
money.
She collapses onto the edge of the bed, her head between her
hands.
Downstairs, baby Denny starts crying.
to ignore it.

Gertrude does her best

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY


Kids mill about, coming home from school.
Sylvia. The younger kids in front.

Paula walks with

SYLVIA
So have you thought about what
youre gonna do?
PAULA
I dont wanna lose Bradley, Sylvia.
SYLVIA
Maybe you should talk to Gertie.
PAULA
Are you kiddin?

Mamad kill me.

SYLVIA
Shes gonna have to find out
sometime, aint she?

31.

Darlene runs up behind them.


DARLENE
Hey. Daddys home sick from work
today, so Im gonna wait around
here for Stephanie.
Sure.

PAULA

Darlene heads inside with the younger girls as Paula and


Sylvia follow close behind.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
The baby is still crying. As the other kids start upstairs,
Jennie goes over to pick Denny up, and Paula takes him from
her.
Mama?

PAULA

INT. GERTRUDES BEDROOM -- SAME


Gertrude frozen in the same spot. Afternoon sun lower in the
window behind her. She gets up and heads out of the room.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Gertrude appears at the top of the stairs, as Stephanie comes
in through the front door.
STEPHANIE
Mama, Coy's on his way over.
GERTRUDE
I want you all upstairs in your
room.
Paula looks to Stephanie, wondering what's going on.
Sure.

PAULA

They all start up the stairs. As Gertrude squeezes past


them, she singles out Sylvia and Jennie.
GERTRUDE
Except you two. I want you down in
the basement.

32.

Sylvia grabs Jennie's hand.


SYLVIA
Yes, Ma'am.
INT. BASEMENT - SAME
Gertrude flips the switch on one bare bulb.

The dog barks.

Rags and trash clutter the rough cement. A coal furnace


casts a sooty glow on an exposed water heater and a filthy
sink. An old washer with clothes piled on top.
Sylvia and Jennie reach the bottom of the stairs and turn to
face Gertrude.
The stair boards creak beneath her feet.
GERTRUDE
Your Daddy's check didn't arrive
today.
SYLVIA
It's probably just late.
wouldn't let him forget.

My mama

GERTRUDE
You know what I think?
Gertrude crosses to the sink and pulls down a heavy leather
police belt hanging from the wall.
GERTRUDE
I just took care of you two bitches
for two weeks for nothin'... I
think your Mama and Daddy left you
here for good.
SYLVIA
They wouldnt do that.
GERTRUDE
Keep your mouth shut.
Sylvia steals a glance, sees her younger sister holding back
tears.
GERTRUDE
Pull down your skirts.
Jennie looks up to her big sister. Sylvia begins to ease her
skirt down from her waist. Jennie follows suit.

33.

GERTRUDE (CONT'D)
Underwears too.
The girls slowly pull their underwear down.
Gertrude motions for them to turn around. They obey. She
pushes them both down. They hunch over dirty milk crates,
Jennie awkwardly due to her polio brace.
Gertrude pulls the belt back above Sylvia, who grits her
teeth. And the belt comes down.
INT. KITCHEN - SAME
WHACK. WHACK. Coming from the open basement door. As
Paula, Stephanie, Darlene and the younger kids, creep towards
it.
JENNIE (O.S.)
Its just a mistake. Its just...
INT. BASEMENT - SAME
Gertrude pulls back and lands one on Jennie.
WHACK.

Jennie cries out, starts to wriggle away.

Gertrude grabs her arm and the girl falls to the ground.
Gertrude straddles her, pulling the belt back.
SYLVIA
Please! She dont mean it.
take hers. Please!
Gertrude gets up off Jennie.
WHACK.

I can

Steps over to Sylvia.

WHACK.
GERTRUDE
That check better show up tomorrow.

Gertrude is disoriented for a moment. The exertion has


aggravated her cough. She drops the belt.
INT. KITCHEN - SAME
Paula and the other children watch from the doorway.
MARIE
What did they do?

34.

PAULA
(resigned)
Get Mama her medicine.
Gertrude pays them no mind as she slowly walks upstairs.
INT. BATHROOM, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - LATER
Jennie cries as Sylvia tries to calm her with a wet cloth.
SYLVIA
Cmon, Jennie. It was spankin.
It aint like we never had one.
JENNIE
But it wasnt our fault...
SYLVIA
We'll pray really hard, and that
check'll come tomorrow. Daddy
won't let us down. I swear.
She takes the softly crying Jennie in her arms.
SYLVIA
I swear it will...
FADE TO BLACK.
MUSIC UP: Leslie Gores You Dont Own Me
CLOSE ON:

A fly struggling in a jar.

INT. BEDROOM, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - NIGHT


Reveal Johnny on the floor, watching the fly slowly
suffocate. The rest of the room is lively, as Shirley teases
Stephanies hair while Paula puts on too much mascara.
Jennie watches her older sister try on clothes.
JENNIE
Fifteen isn't young.
to come.

I should get

SYLVIA
Someone's gotta look after the
little ones.

35.

PAULA
(nervous)
You think Bradley will be there?
Sylvia shoots her a disapproving look.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Gertrude tears open an envelope. Pulls out a money order -from Lester Likens. Finds a letter addressed to Sylvia and
Jennie.
Thinks about it for a moment.

Then crumples it.

INT. BEDROOM - SAME


Shirley now working on Sylvias hair.
MARIE
What movie you gonna see,
Stephanie?
PAULA
She won't be seeing anything except
Coy's hands while she's pushing him
away.
STEPHANIE
I might not be pushing too hard.
PAULA
Yeah, yeah, Princess Priss. You'd
scream if he breathed on your
blouse.
Stephanie blushes.
STEPHANIE
That's not true, Paula, and you
know it. Don't give Sylvia the
wrong idea.
Johnny interrupts.
It's dead.

JOHNNY
The fly's dead.

The girls squeal. He dumps it down Shirley's dress.


slaps him on the back of the head.

Paula

36.

PAULA
Gross, Johnny! Get it out of here.
Sylvia laughs as Johnny runs away with his prize.
EXT. GALAXY DRIVE IN - NIGHT
Sound of Music on the big screen.
film.

Or some such sort of

RANDY LEPPER
This is crap.
Reveal a gang of students draped over Coy Hubbards truck including Sylvia and Paula.
PAULA
It aint so bad...
RANDY LEPPER
Id rather keep an eye on the cab.
Coy and Stephanie make out in front. Steam filling the
window. Flirty JUDY DUKE, 16, tries to impress the boy.
JUDY DUKE
It must be gettin hot in there.
RANDY LEPPER
I dont know about you, but Im
stayin out all night tonight.
JUDY DUKE
Your parents aint gonna like that.
RANDY LEPPER
They dont give a shit.
He grabs Judy.

She laughs and pushes him away.

Shhh.

SYLVIA
You guys - the movie...

Suddenly Paulas attention is diverted.


Paula?
He's here.

SYLVIA
PAULA

She stiffens.

37.

Bradley steps away from a station wagon with a woman and two
kids inside, walks to the concession stand. Paula climbs out
of the truck.
PAULA
I'll be right back.
SYLVIA
Maybe you shouldn't.
She ignores her. As Sylvia watches Paula go, shes startled
by a tap on her shoulder. Its Ricky Hobbs.
SYLVIA
Ricky. You shouldn't sneak up on
girls like that.
RICKY
I didn't mean to.
The group stares at the 14 year-old interloper.
RANDY LEPPER
The nursery's up front. You better
get back before they miss you.
RICKY
But I brought favors.
He pulls a bottle of Jim Bean from a brown bag.
RANDY LEPPER
Come on in, kid, and gimme some of
that!
They pull him into the truck.
to impress her.

Ricky turns to Sylvia, trying

RICKY
Stole it from the IGA.
Sylvia's not listening. She sees Bradley yank Paula behind
the concession stand. Ricky turns to the others.
RICKY
Pretty good movie, huh?
JUDY DUKE
We aint here for the movie, Ricky.
SYLVIA
Ill be right back.

38.

Sylvia hops out in search of Paula.

Ricky watches her go.

EXT. BEHIND THE CONCESSION STAND - NIGHT


Bradley lectures Paula among the broken milk cartons and
bagged trash.
PAULA
I miss you Bradley.
BRADLEY
My wifes back from her cousins
house. Thats it, you know? So be
a good girl and go.
Sylvia rounds the corner quietly.
her.

Neither of them notice

PAULA
Mama keeps saying you're trash.
I'm starting to believe her.
Unexpectedly, Bradley laughs.
BRADLEY
Listen to your Mama, Paula.
knows best.
He walks away. She grabs his wrist.
He pushes her away.
Get off.

She
Tries to caress him.

BRADLEY

Crying, she tries again.


He knocks her against the back of the stand.
pants.
BRADLEY
Is this what you want?
want this?

Unbuckles his

You fucking

Sylvia watches, horrified.


Bradley...

PAULA

Paula struggles against his strength as he rips down her


panties.

39.

Stop it.

SYLVIA
Stop it!

Bradley slowly turns to Sylvia.

Paula continues to cry.

BRADLEY
Get the hell out of here.
a private conversation.

This is

He unbuttons his fly.


Please...

PAULA

SYLVIA
She's pregnant.
Bradley steps backwards.
underwear.

Paula wordlessly pulls up her torn

BRADLEY
Dont think you can pull that shit
on me.
A fourth voice pipes in from nowhere.
Jesus...

RICKY

Sylvia turns to see him.


leaves.

Paula still in shock.

Bradley

BRADLEY
You stay away, bitch.
Sylvia approaches her.
arm.

Paula slaps away Sylvia's comforting

PAULA
You're gonna pay for that.
She rushes off, leaving Sylvia with Ricky Hobbs.
Paula!

SYLVIA

EXT. GALAXY DRIVE-IN - MOMENTS LATER


Sylvia arrives at the truck, Ricky in tow.
into the cab.

Leans her head

Coy hastily pulls his hand out of Stephanie's blouse.

40.

SYLVIA
Did you see Paula?
No.

STEPHANIE

SYLVIA
Maybe we should look for her.
worried.

I'm

STEPHANIE
Aw, come on. Paula can handle
herself.
Coy rolls up the window.

Ricky comes up behind Sylvia.

RICKY
Is everything okay?
SYLVIA
Ricky, quit following me!
She storms off, leaving Ricky alone.
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Gertrude sprawls on the couch, asleep. The TV drones on.
Paula comes in, crying. Gertrude comes to at the sound of
the door slamming behind her. Sees Paula starting up the
stairs.
Paula.

GERTRUDE

Paula turns to face her.


GERTRUDE
Whats wrong, honey?
cryin?
Mama...

You been

PAULA

She goes down to her mother, collapses on the couch next to


her. Wiping the tears away.
PAULA
I ain't talking to him any more.

41.

GERTRUDE
That's my girl. We're gonna find
you a good man. Not like Denny.
Or your Daddy.
She squeezes Paula's hand.
PAULA
But Sylvia...
What?

GERTRUDE

PAULA
Shes tellin some terrible lies
about me.
GERTRUDE
What kind of lies, sweetie?
She doesnt want to talk.
GERTRUDE
This is your mama, honey.
kind of lies?

What

PAULA
She called me a slut. She was out
telling everybody I'm a slut.
GERTRUDE
Sylvia did this?
Paula nods.

Gertrude strokes her hair, her eyes dead cold.

INT. GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH - LATER


Reverend Julian delivers a heated sermon.
REV. JULIAN
Paul says in his letter to the
Hebrews, Therefore I take pleasure
in infirmities, in reproaches, in
persecutions, for Christs sake.
For when I am weak, then I am
strong.
A few murmurs from the congregation.
around Paula.

Gertrude puts an arm

42.

REV. JULIAN
But only the righteous can be
strong. And to be righteous, we
must be cleansed in the blood of
the lamb.
More Amens.
her gaze.

Sylvia steals a look at Paula, who wont meet

EXT. GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH - MORNING


Groups of church-goers doing their usual mill-about.
exits with Jennie.

Sylvia

JENNIE
You been awful quiet today.
The CUTE BOY shes seen at church before catches her eye
again. Sylvia manages a smile.
ON Gertrude, witnessing this, as she takes crying Denny from
Paula and prepares to board the bus.
INT. CHURCH BUS - DAY
The Baniszewski household enters the old white bus for a ride
home. Sylvia takes a seat, and Jennie scoots in next to her.
As Gertrude passes in the aisle:
GERTRUDE
Sit here with me, Jennie. Your
sister didnt take a bath today.
Jennie hesitates, looks to Sylvia, who motions her to obey
Gertrude.
GERTRUDE
Girls who arent clean need to be
taught a lesson.
A little smile from Paula as the bus takes off.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - LATER
The church bus takes off as Gertrude leads the kids up the
walk. As Johnny and Marie start to take off into the
neighborhood, she stops them.

43.

GERTRUDE
No. I want everyone inside.
Family meeting.
Jennie looks up to Sylvia, nervous.
Paula, who ignores her.

Sylvia looks back to

INT. KITCHEN, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY


As they arrive around the table. Sylvia and Jennie hang back
slightly.
GERTRUDE
Now this is a lesson for everyone.
(to Sylvia)
You need to apologize to Paula.
But I...

SYLVIA

GERTRUDE
I want you to apologize.
SHIRLEY
Whatd she do, Mama?
GERTRUDE
Shes spreadin lies about your
sister.
Paula stares coldly at Sylvia.
forcefully.
Im sorry.

Sylvia stares back

SYLVIA

GERTRUDE
Paula, it's your right to get even.
What do you want to do?
PAULA
I want you to punish her, Mama.
GERTRUDE
You need to learn to fight your own
battles, girl.
Gertrude pushes Sylvia to her.
SYLVIA
I said I was sorry.

44.

GERTRUDE
Johnny grab her arms.
Johnny obeys.

Paula faces off with Sylvia, hesitates.

GERTRUDE
Shes got it comin, Paula.
Paula SLAPS her.
Thats it.

GERTRUDE

Sylvia wrangles herself free of Johnnys grasp.


GERTRUDE
Its okay. Lets see if she can
defend herself.
Paula goes to hit her again, and Sylvia grabs her hand. But
rage takes over Paula, who twists her arm behind her and
pushes into her.
Im not.

PAULA
Im not!

The two go tumbling into the ironing board, Sylvia knocking


her chin hard. A droplet of blood from her mouth.
Damn!

PAULA

Paula holds her hand, which obviously hurts.


her up and puts an arm around her.

Gertrude pulls

GERTRUDE
Shes learned her lesson.
Jennie runs upstairs crying.
to think.
Mama?

Marie looks up, not sure what

MARIE

GERTRUDE
You all see what happens when you
tell lies. Now get.
The kids file out.
pained Sylvia.

Paula hangs back.

GERTRUDE
I want you outta my sight.

Gertrude stands over a

45.

As Gertrude heads out, Sylvia looks up to Paula, who


maintains her cold stare.
INT. BEDROOM, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - NIGHT
Jennie's wide awake, all the Baniszewski kids are asleep.
Sylvias beside her, also wide awake.
JENNIE
(whispering)
Are you awake?
They turn to face each other.
JENNIE
Are you okay?
Sylvia avoids the question, tries to appear strong for her
sister:
SYLVIA
Did you say your prayers yet?
Jennie shakes her head.

Sylvia puts her arm around her.

SYLVIA
How about Mamas favorite Psalm?
(beat)
Turn thou to me, and be gracious to
me Lord...
Jennie joins in.
SYLVIA/JENNIE
For I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my
distresses...
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Their prayer continues in voice-over as we see Gertrude at
the door, handing off some neatly folded clothes to a woman.
The woman puts some money in her hand before heading off.
SYLVIA/JENNIE (V.O.)
Consider how many are my foes, and
with what violence they hate me.
Guard my life and deliver me; let
me not be put to shame, for I take
refuge in thee...

46.

Gertrude looks at the cash -- only four dollars. She opens


up a coin purse and puts the money with three other bills.
She steps back up to the ironing. The baby starts crying
from the crib next to her...
SYLVIA/JENNIE (V.O.)
May integrity and uprightness
preserve me, for I wait for thee...
And Gertrude breaks down into tears.
INT. CAFETERIA, ARSENAL TECH H.S. - DAY
Dark clouds threaten outside the cafeteria windows.
Coy stands in line. He reaches Stephanies station, where
she dishes out macn cheese.
COY
I hear your sisters pregnant.
Whos the guy?
STEPHANIE
Stop it, Coy, thats not funny.
COY
Hey, I didnt say it.
She glares at him.

Finally, in earnest:

COY
A lot of people are talking.
A look of concern.
INT. GIRLS LOCKER ROOM, ARSENAL TECH H.S. - DAY
Paula, her arm in a sling, attempts to undress for gym.
Across the aisle, TWO GIRLS whisper comments and giggle
loudly.
Paula turns the other way.

As her gym teacher passes:

PAULA
Miss Estelle? My arm - its really
bothering me.

47.

EXT. SHELL STATION - DAY


The rain is pouring. When the attendant is distracted, Ricky
slips a pack of Vantage from the counter display. Pulls his
sweater over his head to try and keep dry as he runs across
the street.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Ricky knocks on the door.

Gertrude answers.

GERTRUDE
Shouldnt you be in school?
Its more an invitation than a threat.
INT. CAFETERIA, ARSENAL TECH H.S. - DAY
As Sylvia starts through the lunch line, Stephanie approaches
her.
STEPHANIE
What was Mama so upset about the
other day?
SYLVIA
You heard. I told everyone Paula
was a slut.
STEPHANIE
Thats not true, is it?
Sylvia wont answer.
STEPHANIE
Theres some worse rumors goin
round about her now.
Sylvia stops dead at the sound of that.
counter calls to Stephanie:

A woman behind the

CAFETERIA WORKER
Stephanie, get back over to your
station.
Stephanie shoots an accusing look to Sylvia before obeying.

48.

INT. ARSENAL TECH HIGH SCHOOL OFFICE - DAY


A nurse hands Paula a pass.
NURSE
You just get plenty of rest.
Thanks.

PAULA

EXT. ARSENAL TECH HIGH SCHOOL - DAY


As Paula exits through the front door, she walks a few steps,
then finally lets loose crying.
INT. LIVING ROOM, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Ricky enters in boxers, a towel around his shoulders.
coughing. Gertrude hands him a whiskey.

He's

GERTRUDE
You were about to catch your death
of cold out there.
He takes a sip of the whiskey, coughs some more.
laughs as she irons his jeans.
GERTRUDE
You don't have a girlfriend, do
you?
RICKY
(shrugs)
I don't know.
GERTRUDE
You dont know. Does she know?
He shrugs.

Gertrude chuckles.
GERTRUDE
You ever been down to the dance
hall? Seen them girls on stage?
RICKY
I ain't old enough.
GERTRUDE
You aint old enough to smoke
either, but you like your Vantage.

Gertrude

49.

She takes the cigarette out of his hand.


returns it.

Takes a drag and

GERTRUDE
You never seen em? They got these
girls with these tits.
She brushes hers lightly.

Rickys very quiet.

GERTRUDE
You ever touch a girl?
He shakes his head no.
GERTRUDE
Did a girl ever touch you?
He goes for a gulp of whiskey, spilling some of his drink.
RICKY
Sorry Mrs. Baniszewski.
GERTRUDE
Call me Gertie. All the kids call
me Gertie.
EXT. ARSENAL TECH HIGH SCHOOL - DAY
As Sylvia arrives in the parking lot. Jennies waiting as
usual with the younger ones. ANNA SISCOE is with them.
JENNIE
Wheres Paula?
SYLVIA
I dont know. I havent seen her
all day.
Sylvia, worried, looking around, sees Stephanie leaving the
school with Coy. Sylvia grabs Maries hand, turns to Jennie.
SYLVIA
Lets just get out of here.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Ricky lies on the couch, his head in Gertrude's lap. She
opens a jar of Vicks Vaporub. Rubs it on his chest.
RICKY
That feels alright.

50.

Her hands go lower.

Almost into his underwear.

GERTRUDE
How does that feel?
Ricky gives an awkward, uncomfortable laugh. Gertrude pulls
away, turns to see her and Ricky in the mirror.
GERTRUDE
I was quite a looker when I was
your age, Ricky. Had all the boys
chasing me.
RICKY
Like Sylvia?
A hardened look, before Gertrudes distracted as she gets a
glimpse of Paula through the window, making her way toward
the house.
She gets up, reaches over to the ironing board and tosses
Rickys clothes at him.
A confused Ricky starts to pull his shirt on as Gertrude
heads to the door.
Paula slams open the door and rushes upstairs, in tears.
Paula?

GERTRUDE

EXT. STREET - DAY


The smaller kids walk ahead of Sylvia and Jennie.
JENNIE
I think we should call Mom and Dad.
SYLVIA
And how are we supposed to do that?
Jennie pulls out the crumpled letter from their parents.
Sylvia opens it up, cant believe her eyes.
JENNIE
I found it in the trash.

51.

EXT. SHELL STATION - MOMENTS LATER


Shirley and Judy lead the younger kids toward the house
across the street. Sylvia dials a number from the letter on
the pay phone, then hands the receiver to Jennie.
You first.

SYLVIA

Jennie holds the receiver so Sylvia can listen in.


Hello?
Mama!

BETTY (O.S.)
JENNIE

INTERCUT:
INT. MOTEL ROOM - SAME
Where Betty sits on the bed as Lester takes a swig of beer
behind her.
BETTY
Oh honey! I was afraid you didnt
get our letter!
JENNIE
Mama, we miss you so much.
BETTY
I miss you, too honey.
things there?

How are

JENNIE
Well, Gertrudes awful strict,
Mama. Shes got a big ol belt and
she aint afraid to use it.
BETTY
She gave you the belt?
Lester grabs the phone.
LESTER
Have you girls been getting in
trouble again?
As Sylvia hears this, she anxiously takes the phone from
Jennie.

52.

SYLVIA
Daddy, she beat us cause your
check was late.
LESTER
Dont go blaming me for your
whipping.
Daddy...

SYLVIA

Betty takes the phone away from Lester.


BETTY
You girls just be good. Well be
picking you up in two weeks...
Sylvia looks across the street. Sees Gertrude standing in
the window beside Johnny and Marie, staring coldly at her.
SYLVIA
Mama, I gotta go.
She hangs up and takes Jennies hand.
the dead receiver.
Sylvia?

Betty continues into

BETTY
Sylvia?

INT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY


As Sylvia and Jennie enter, Gertrude waiting for them.
Johnny and Marie standing behind her.
GERTRUDE
Calling your boyfriend, Sylvia?
No.

SYLVIA
Nobody special.

JENNIE
It was our parents.
GERTRUDE
Whered you get the money to make a
long distance call?
SYLVIA
I went bottle-picking in the park.
Turned em in for the deposit
money.

53.

The kids all gather round.


Sylvia.

Gertrude continues staring at

JENNIE
Honest, thats all she did.
Gertrude grabs Sylvia roughly.
kitchen.

Drags her towards the

ANNA SISCOE
Whats she gonna do?
SHIRLEY
What she always does when she
catches you stealing.
INT. KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER
Gertrude has the flame turned up on the gas stove, as she
pulls a struggling Sylvia toward it.
GERTRUDE
You gonna steal from me again?
No Maam.

SYLVIA

GERTRUDE
You gonna lie in this household?
No Maam.

SYLVIA

GERTRUDE
You gonna call your parents and
whine that Gertrude dont treat you
right?
SYLVIA
No, Gertie, No.
Gertrude holds her hand over the burning flame.
SHRIEKS as it scorches her skin.
SYLVIA
Im sorry! Im sorry!
have done it!

Sylvia

I shouldnt

Gertrude lets go. Sylvia grasps her hand, crying. Gertrude


looks up to see Paula standing in the doorway between the
rest of the children. Gertrude strokes Sylvias hair.

54.

GERTRUDE
There now, thats a good girl.
Gertrude hands her a wet rag, which she presses to her skin.
GERTRUDE
You can have dinner with the family
tonight.
On Paula, clearly growing uncomfortable with all of this.
She puts an arm around a frightened Jennie. Johnny and Marie
watch tentatively from the corner.
INT. COURTROOM
Little Maries fidgeting on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Then what was said?
MARIE
I dont know. We just ate supper.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Did Sylvia eat at the table with
you when you had meals?
MARIE
Not all the time.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
When she first came there, did she?
Yes.

MARIE

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Did this change?
Yes.

MARIE

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
In what way?
MARIE
I dont know. Mama kept saying she
was not clean and she did not want
her to eat at the table.

55.

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Directing your attention to August
22, 1965, what happened that day,
Marie?
MARIE
Well they was having dinner on the
grounds of the church...
EXT. GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH - MEETING CENTER - EVENING
Kids and adults gathered outside in the parking lot.
INT. GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH - MEETING CENTER - SAME
Long tables laden with yellow corn, white bread and
Midwestern family casseroles. Sylvia stands in line with
Jennie.
JENNIE
You feelin okay?
Sylvia gives a little nod.

Jennie attempts some cheer.

JENNIE
Look at this! It seems like
forever since I seen this much
food...
Sylvia forces a smile.
hisses in her ear.

Stephanie comes up behind Sylvia,

STEPHANIE
I wont say anything to Mama.
Sylvia turns to face her.
STEPHANIE
Just make sure you stop talking
about my sister.
Stephanie heads off. Sylvia turns back to the table,
spotting the pie selection, as the CUTE BOY whos been eyeing
her at church, flashes her a smile.
CUTE BOY
Can I get you a piece of pie?
Cherry or banana cream?
Now Sylvias smile becomes a little more real.
appreciating the attention.

Shes

56.

Cherry.

SYLVIA

He heaps a slice on her plate.


Eric.

Holds out his free hand.

CUTE BOY

Sylvia takes his hand, shakes it.


Sylvia.

SYLVIA

ERIC
Were all eatin on my buddys
truck.
They head out toward the parking lot together, passing...
AT A TABLE
Paula sits alone, feeding baby Denny in a high chair, as she
watches Sylvia pass by. GRACE SARGENT, 52 and faded, slides
in beside Paula.
GRACE SARGENT
We havent seen you in Youth Group
for a few weeks.
PAULA
Sorry, Mrs. Sargent.
work.

Ive had to

Paula clumsily picks up her fork with her bandaged hand.


GRACE SARGENT
What happened to your arm, Paula?
PAULA
(uncomfortable)
Lost my temper. With Sylvia.
GRACE
Thats not like you, Paula.
PAULA
(confessing)
Shes done some awful things.
Weve had to be real strict with
her.
This is much more than the kind church lady bargained for.

57.

GRACE
I think you should talk to Reverend
Julian about this.
PAULA
I dont think Mama would want that.
AT THE SERVING TABLE
Gertrude is in line with Johnny, Marie and Shirley. Johnny
loads a huge scoop of potato salad on his plate. As Reverend
Julian approaches:
GERTRUDE
Not so much. We wouldnt want
Reverend Julian to think youre
selfish.
REV. JULIAN
Gertrude, good to see you here
tonight. I wanted to know if you
could stop by later this week.
GERTRUDE
What is it?
He pulls her to the side, carefully.
REV. JULIAN
Well, I didnt want to have to
bring this up now, but, its Paula.
I received a troubling call
yesterday.
Gertrude seems perplexed.
REV. JULIAN
Apparently theres talk that...
shes with child.
GERTRUDE
Theyre sayin shes pregnant?
She sees her daughter.
GERTRUDE
Its just a story.
REV. JULIAN
You sure about that?
Yes.

GERTRUDE
Im certain.

58.

Gertrude turns to see Sylvia through the window in the


parking lot. Hanging out with several other young people at
a truck.
REV. JULIAN
Well if you need anything, need me
to talk to anyone, just let me
know.
GERTRUDE
Thank you Reverend.
As he leaves, she starts coughing.

Calls out.

GERTRUDE
Shirley, get me my medicine.
Shirley approaches, hands Gertrude a bottle of medicine, then
heads off. Gertrude takes a swig. Jumps suddenly as shes
greeted with a hand on her ass.
Its Dennis, with a sly grin and a full plate of barbecue.
GERTRUDE
What are you doing here?
DENNIS
I came by for the free food.
the women.

And

GERTRUDE
Dont tell me you need more money.
Until John Sr. sends me his check,
I cant even feed these kids lunch.
DENNIS
I aint here about money.
sent me. About Paula.

Bradley

GERTRUDE
(clipped)
Not here.
PARKING LOT
Sylvias heading toward a truck full of young church-goers
with a second plate, when she sees Ricky Hobbs approaching.
Ricky!

SYLVIA

59.

RICKY
Sylvia, Im real sorry about the
other night.
SYLVIA
Its not your fault, Ricky.
Just... what I said about Paula.
You didnt say anything, did you?
Nah.

RICKY

SYLVIA
Because people are talkin, and
Stephanie and Paula are blamin me.
RICKY
I wouldnt do that.
to hurt you.

Not anything

Eric calls out from the back of the pick-up.


Sylvia!

ERIC

Sylvia flashes Ricky a quick smile.


SYLVIA
Id better go.
Rickys left alone.
AT THE MAIN TABLE
Dennis continues his talk with Gertrude.
DENNIS
Bradley said hed pay for the
abortion if Paulas willing...
GERTRUDE
Keep your voice down.
DENNIS
(softer)
If shes willing to go through with
it. Anything to keep it quiet.
GERTRUDE
There will be no abortion.
Paula aint pregnant.
(MORE)

Because

60.
GERTRUDE (cont'd)
I just wanna know who started this
whole thing...
DENNIS
Bradley said your new boarder.
GERTRUDE
Sylvia. Shes been trouble ever
since she came into the house. If
anyones pregnant, she is.
Wow!

ERIC (O.S.)

Through the window, Gertrude and Dennis see Sylvia with the
boys at the truck. She has put on a pair of skates and is
twisting and twirling, maybe showing off just a little for
Eric.
DENNIS
Shes got her share of admirers.
No wonder you dont appreciate her.
Gertie walks away from him, stung. She lights a cigarette,
struggles to find a seat for herself near the window.
Ricky comes up and slumps down beside her.
GERTRUDE
Coming over to hang out with the
grown-ups?
IN THE PARKING LOT
Sylvia skates beside the truck.
the other kids eat and gossip.

Eric sits and watches while

Dennis walks right up to Sylvia.


DENNIS
Got some advice for you. Dont
come between Gertie and her kids.
She dont like it much.
He moves in closer. Sylvia doesnt know whether to be
attracted or repelled.
DENNIS
And you might want to watch that
skirt. I dont think the Reverend
likes pink panties.
Sylvia nervously smooths it.

Dennis walks away.

61.

AT THE TABLE
Gertrude and Ricky watching all of this.
Gertrude intent on Sylvia.

Ricky notices

RICKY
You okay, Gertie?
Huh?

GERTRUDE
Yeah, Im fine.

IN THE PARKING LOT


Sylvia sits on the edge of the truck taking off her skates.
ERIC
Were gonna cruise the circle.
coming with?

You

SYLVIA
I should probably ask Gertie.
ERIC
Shes not your mother.
Sylvia looks over to see Gertrude and Ricky watching her.
Fear gives way to courage.
SYLVIA
You know what? Youre right.
The boy starts hollering at his friends in the front of the
truck.
Lets go!

ERIC

The truck starts up.


AT THE TABLE
Gertrude and Ricky watch the truck peel out of the lot.
RICKY
Looks like Sylvias leavin with
them boys.
GERTRUDE
You sound surprised, Ricky Hobbs.
You shouldnt be.

62.

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - LATER


Paula sits out front, feeding the baby. Johnny, Jimmy, Marie
and Shirley are playing with Anna Siscoe in the lawn.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Gertrude irons. Ricky grabs a pack of Vantage from the top
of the television.
RICKY
Can I have one?
Go ahead.

GERTRUDE

As Jennie struggles down the stairs on her polio brace,


Gertrude calls out to her.
GERTRUDE
Jennie, can you bring that pile of
clothes next to the door over here?
Jennie obeys.

Gertrude gives her a pat on the head.

GERTRUDE
See, Ricky, Jennies a good girl.
Not like her sister.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME
The pick-up pulls out front. Eric jumps out and helps Sylvia
down. She looks a little nervous.
ERIC
You sure you cant come to the
drive-in with us?
No.

SYLVIA
Im late as it is.

She steps away as he calls after her:


ERIC
Ill see you next Sunday!
Paula, sitting on the porch, stands up with the baby.
PAULA
Mama, shes back.

63.

Paula starts to head inside. Marie and Johnny give each


other a look. As the truck drives off, Sylvia slowly makes
her way up the walk.
She stops for a moment.
SILENCE.
Everyone stares at Sylvia.
She slowly makes her way up the walk.
The younger kids follow.

No ones smiling.

INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME


As Sylvia steps inside, Paula puts the baby in the bassinet.
She wont look at Sylvia.
Gertrude switches off her iron.
blocking any escape.

The kids circle Sylvia,

GERTRUDE
I thought I taught you a lesson.
SYLVIA
I dont understand.
GERTRUDE
Apparently you been telling more
lies about my daughter.
SYLVIA
I havent told any lies.
GERTRUDE
You lie in church. You go every
Sunday, then ride off with those
boys tonight. You can lie to
Reverend Julian, but you won't lie
to me.
I don't -

SYLVIA

GERTRUDE
Then you flirt with Dennis.
I didnt.

SYLVIA

64.

GERTRUDE
I saw you. It don't matter what
you want. You'll get it, won't
you?
I'm sorry.

SYLVIA
He was just -

She stops as Gertrude moves in.


Stares at her.
Its very quiet.
GERTRUDE
Youre looking big, Sylvia.
she looking big, Jennie?

Isnt

Jennie looks at her feet.


SYLVIA
Im skinnier than Paula.
Paula glares.
GERTRUDE
Why dont you show us your
stomach?
Sylvia is defiant.
No.

SYLVIA

Gertrude calmly turns to the other children.


GERTRUDE
Whos in charge here?
MARIE
You are, mama.
Gertrude glares at Sylvia. Sylvia slowly pulls up her blouse.
GERTRUDE
Johnny, do you think shes fat?
Johnny shrugs.
Touch it.

GERTRUDE
Give her a punch.

Johnny gives her a playful punch in the stomach.

Giggles.

65.

GERTRUDE
It looks to me like youre gonna
have a baby.
Jennie gasps.

Sylvia looks at her, then back to Gertrude.

SYLVIA
Im not pregnant.
GERTRUDE
Paula told me about them boys in
California.
Sylvia looks to Paula, who wont support her.
GERTRUDE
Ricky, did Sylvia tell you about
them boys in California?
Ricky isnt sure how to answer.

Gertrude returns to Sylvia.

GERTRUDE
If you won't listen, maybe I can
get through to your sister. Keep
her from making your mistakes.
Jennie stiffens, scared to be noticed.
GERTRUDE
Look at her, Jennie.
look pregnant?

Doesn't she

JENNIE
(unwillingly)
Yes, Ma'am.
GERTRUDE
Do you want to be like your sister?
No, Ma'am.
Slap her.

JENNIE
GERTRUDE

JENNIE
I ain't got no cause to slap her.
Slap her.

GERTRUDE

Jennie looks to Sylvia, who makes a small nod.


reluctantly taps her.

Jennie

66.

Harder.

GERTRUDE

Jennie slaps a little harder.


Good.

Can't look Sylvia in the eye.

GERTRUDE

Gertrude picks up an empty Coke bottle sitting on top of the


television set. As she steps over to Sylvia:
INT. COURTROOM - MORNING
Shirley on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Then what did you see and what did
you hear?
SHIRLEY
She told Sylvia to spread out her
legs and put the bottle up her.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Did Sylvia have any clothes on
then?
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
CLOSE ON Sylvia pulling off a pair of shorts.
SHIRLEY (V.O.)
I think she had a pair of shorts
on.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
Anything else?
ON Ricky, watching in horror, titillation?
SHIRLEY (V.O.)
And a blue blouse, if I remember
right.
ON Sylvias hands, as the bottle is shoved into them.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
What did Sylvia say?
ON Jennie, trying to look away.
forward.

Gertrude forces her head

67.

SHIRLEY (V.O.)
She just said...
ON Sylvia, looking helplessly to Gertrude.
I cant.

SYLVIA

ON Gertrude, not budging.


PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
Did she say anything else?
ON the bottle in Sylvias hands, as it moves past her blouse.
SHIRLEY (V.O.)
Mama said...
ON Gertrude, a cold look in her eyes.
GERTRUDE
You can do better than that.
ON Johnny, Jimmy, Marie and Shirley, transfixed.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
And what was Sylvia doing?
ON Ricky again.
SHIRLEY (V.O.)
What Mama told her to.
ON Sylvia, tears welling up.
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
The door flies open.
bizarre scene.

Stephanie and Coy enter into the

STEPHANIE
What the hell is going on?
Sylvia immediately grabs for her shorts.
The bottle SMASHES to the floor.
GERTRUDE
Somebody clean that up.
upstairs.

Sylvia, go

68.

Sylvias crying, struggles to put on her shorts.


in no state to obey Gertrudes orders.

Obviously

GERTRUDE
Coy, get her up there.
Coy grabs Sylvias hand.
No.

Wait.

Pulls her roughly.

GERTRUDE

Coy stops.
GERTRUDE
I will not let her be in the same
room with my daughters.
(to Coy)
Take her to the basement.
Sylvia grabs onto the door, resisting Coy.
The other kids, including Ricky, watch in fright not
knowing what to do.
STEPHANIE
Paula, whats happening?
PAULA
You heard what shes been sayin
about me.
GERTRUDE
GET HER OUT OF HERE!
Coy drags her out.
Jennie rocks softly, catatonic with fear.
Shirley gives her a comforting hug.
SHIRLEY
Don't worry, Jennie, Mama's just
teachin her.
HALLWAY, NEAR THE BASEMENT DOOR
COY
Johnny, help me!
Johnny opens the door.
Sylvia breaks free, screaming.

Eleven-year-old

69.

Johnny and Coy grab her again.


COY
She doesnt want to go down there!
GERTRUDE (O.S.)
Well, she aint staying up here!!
Coy finally gives Sylvia a PUSH.
As she starts to tumble...
BLACK.
INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Debris crowds the murky basement.
only a faint shaft of light.

The small window allows

Sylvia lies on rags, half naked.


The dog licks her face, and she awakens, disoriented.
Slumps down on her pile of rags.

And drifts...

BLACK.
INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
HAPPY SHOUTS of children playing tag outside the basement
window.
Sylvia, lying on her side, looks up at it. Hypnotized by the
shadows running past before she drifts back to...
BLACK.
INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - NIGHT
The rags are gone.

Sylvia sprawls on the cold cement.

On the landing, the door opens. A dim bulb flickers.


Feet step carefully down the stairs.
Sylvias eyes open.

She does not move.

A glass of water and crackers are set in front of her face.


She drifts back to sleep.

70.

BLACK.
INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Sylvia huddles in a corner near the furnace.

Still sleeping.

Jennie appears with a few clothes and Sylvias Bible.


gently shakes her sister.
Jennie.

She

SYLVIA

JENNIE
Gertie said I could give you these.
She places them on her sisters lap.
SYLVIA
I cant see nothing, Jennie.
Everythings kinda black.
A shadowy Marie calls down from the landing.
MARIE
Jennie, Mama wants you upstairs.
For a family meeting.
Jennie hugs her sister.
JENNIE
Im sorry Sylvia.
can.

Ill do what I

MARIE
She said now.
Jennie starts away, leaving Sylvia alone with the clothes and
her Bible.
MARIE
And bring Sylvia, too.
Jennie turns to her sister.
INT. KITCHEN - SAME
Gertrude is having another coughing fit. All the kids are
gathered around the table for the meeting. Jennie enters
with Sylvia, who rubs her adjusting eyes.

71.

GERTRUDE
Johnny, medicine.
He hands her the cough syrup. She spoons it out carefully.
Weary, unfocused, Gertrude starts the meeting.
GERTRUDE
This neighborhood - its not good
for my asthma.
SHIRLEY
Maybe we could move.
MARIE
Where would we move, Shirley?
Gertrude turns to Sylvia and Jennie.
GERTRUDE
Now, I had a call with your parents
today.
Sylvia suddenly perks up.
SYLVIA
Are they coming Friday?
GERTRUDE
Theyve picked up the Florida leg
of the circuit. They wont be
coming for you until end of
November.
Sylvia is in shock.
What?

JENNIE

GERTRUDE
Their checks are comin in regular
now, but ironing aint comin in
like it used to. So were all
gonna have to work together.
STEPHANIE
Maybe I can eat more at Coys.
Thatll help.
GERTRUDE
Paula, youre gonna have to work
some more hours. Maybe quit Tech
for a while.

72.

PAULA
What about Stephanie?
gets to go to school?

How come she

JOHNNY
Cause shes smarter than you.
PAULA
Shut up, Johnny.
Amidst all of this, Sylvia has started to cry silently.
Jennie puts an arm around her, summons up her courage.
JENNIE
How long does Sylvia have to stay
in the basement?
Silence as they wait for her answer.
GERTRUDE
Until shes learned her lesson.
Sylvias crying becomes more intense.
face.

Johnny gets in her

JOHNNY
Cry-baby, cry-baby!
He pinches Sylvias cheek hard.

Jennie pushes his hand away.

GERTRUDE
STOP IT! Thats another thing we
gotta work on around here. We all
got to learn to get along a little
better. Now get her back
downstairs...
Paula begins to gently protest.
Mama...

PAULA

GERTRUDE
I wont hear any more about it.
That girls brought nothing but
trouble here, and she needs to be
punished for it.
Yes, Mama.

PAULA

Paula takes Sylvia by the hand, leads her to the basement


door.

73.

GERTRUDE
If anybody asks, shes been sent to
Juvenile.
Gertrude sits down next to little Jennie.
GERTRUDE
You got that Jennie?
Jennie nods her head slowly.
GERTRUDE
You dont want to get the same as
your sister, do you. Thats a good
girl.
As Paula and Sylvia disappear down into the basement,
Gertrude tossles Jennies hair and stands up.
GERTRUDE
We are on our way to becoming a
happy family again. And I dont
want anyone to wreck our plans.
INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Paula leads Sylvia down to her corner.
floor.
Paula starts back upstairs.

She drops to the

Looks down to Sylvia.

PAULA
You want me to leave the light on?
Sylvia clutches her Bible to her chest, still in tears.
Paula sighs, turns the light off.
BLACK.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
A sparkling mid-western day, full of sunshine and promise.
The younger Baniszewski children arrive home from school with
neighborhood friends.
Randy Lepper teases Shirley by grabbing her backpack, but
its all in fun. Marie has little Jimmy by the hand and
giggles with Darlene McGuire and JUDY DUKE.
Mike throws the backpack to Johnny, who tears into the house.

74.

INT. KITCHEN, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY


Johnny pulls a key out from under the silverware tray.
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Johnny unlocks the basement door.
hushed with anticipation.

The other kids watch him,

INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY


The kids push onto the landing.
Below them, Sylvia sleeps, trash for a pillow.
The kids carefully make their way down.

No blanket.

Each step CREAKS.

They stand over Sylvia. Darlene McGuires mouth hangs open.


Johnny nudges Judy Duke.
See?

JOHNNY
I told you so.

Randy lights up a cigarette.


Damn.

Johnny grabs one, too.

RANDY LEPPER

JUDY DUKE
But what did she do?
SHIRLEY
Shes been real bad.
MARIE
Shes dirty. And Mama says shes a
slut.
They stare at Sylvia.
stir.

Johnny taps her foot.

She doesnt

JOHNNY
Wanna see her tits?
Randy nods.

Judy Duke looks nervously up at the door.

Johnny grabs Sylvias top.


him away.

She wakes up and feebly pushes

75.

SYLVIA
What do you want?
Johnny SLAPS her.

Hard.

Johnny!

JUDY DUKE

MARIE
Dont worry. Shes used to it.
Look.
She kicks at Sylvias skirt, exposing an ugly bruise and a
dozen circular burns.
As Sylvia claws back, Johnny struggles to pin her.
Stop it!

SYLVIA

Johnny yanks the cigarette from his mouth and brings it to


her arm.
Sylvia SCREAMS.
Nice, huh?

JOHNNY

SYLVIA
(fainter)
Stop it, please...
DARLENE
You just burn her like that?
JOHNNY
You can, too.
He hands her the cigarette.
take it.

She hands it back.

DARLENE
I dont want to.
JOHNNY
What are you, chicken?
Darlene hesitates, looks to Shirley.
Its okay.

MARIE

He wont

76.

JOHNNY
Cmon. Even Jimmy did it once.
(making chicken noises)
Bac, bac, bac...
Randy joins in, and the two get louder.
to imitate his older brother.
Marie laughs.

Little Jimmy tries

Even Judy Duke giggles.

Darlene holds up the cigarette. Takes a step toward Sylvia,


whos barely even conscious at this point.
The chicken noises CRESCENDO.
Sylvias lips move, but no sound exits.
Darlene decides and starts to bring the cigarette down.
Sylvias SCREAM intermingles with the noise of the children.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Marie sits on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
Did you see Darlene actually take
cigarettes and burn Sylvia with
them?
Yes.

MARIE

PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
How many times?
MARIE
She would do it every time she came
over.
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
The drawer is opened, and the key is pulled out.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
How many times would that be?
Johnny leads a few kids down to the basement.

77.

INT. BASEMENT - MOMENTS LATER


Johnny arrives with several children, to find Sylvia curled
up in the corner.
Every day.

MARIE

INT. COURTROOM - DAY


Randy Lepper sits on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
How often during the months of
September or October 1965 would you
go to 3850 East New York Street,
Randy?
RANDY LEPPER
Almost every day, sir.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
Did you go down in the basement?
Yes sir.

RANDY LEPPER

INT. BASEMENT - DAY


Randy Lepper looks down on Sylvia, horrified, confused.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
What did Sylvia do?
RANDY LEPPER (V.O.)
Just lay there.
Sylvia looks up at the children.

Too weak to fight back.

Johnny pushes Randy toward her, as the kids wait to see what
he will do.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Did you hit her then, Randy?
Randy pulls his fist back.
Yes sir.

RANDY LEPPER

78.

INT. COURTROOM - DAY


Young Shirley sits on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
What would the other children be
doing around the house?
SHIRLEY
Playing around.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Young Anna Siscoe approaches Shirley, Marie and Darlene.
Shoots them a pleading look.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
Did you ever go and tell some of
the other kids to come over to the
house because everybody was having
fun with Sylvia?
INT. BASEMENT - MOMENTS LATER
Shirley, Marie, Darlene and Anne arrive at the bottom of the
stairs. Shirley turns Sylvia over.
SHIRLEY (V.O.)
I just thought we were punishing
her.
A look of rage in Annas eyes as her leg comes up over
Sylvia.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Judy Duke is on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Judy, you testified you saw many
acts of cruelty by one person or
another against Sylvia?
Yes.

JUDY DUKE

79.

INT. BASEMENT - DAY


On Johnny, Jimmy, Mike Randy Lepper laughing maniacally as
Coy Hubbard carries Sylvia over his shoulder.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
Did you ever discuss with your
parents, after you saw these
things?
Shirley and Marie lead Darlene, Anna and Judy Duke down the
stairs.
JUDY DUKE (V.O.)
I tried to tell mother. I said,
Mommy they were over there beating
and whipping her and fighting with
her.
As the other girls join in the laughter, Judy looks on with
shock.
JUDY DUKE (V.O.)
She said -- well, she thought I
meant she was getting a whipping
for doing something bad.
Paula stands with Jennie at the top of the stairs.
eyes as dead as Sylvias now.
Paula leads her away from the door.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Shirley is back on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
Shirley, was your mother ever
present while some of the other
people were doing things to Sylvia?
SHIRLEY
Yes, she was.
INT. BASEMENT - DAY
On blistered bare feet, being tied to a beam.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
How many times?

Jennies

80.

Coy, Johnny and Randy are tieing Sylvia up. Coy is awkwardly
holding up her body while Johnny works on her feet. Shirley
and Anna are on the stairs eating ice cream.
SHIRLEY (V.O.)
She was around about all the time.
Reveal Gertrude, smoking a cigarette, watching the whole
thing from a few feet away.
PROSECUTOR (V.O.)
What did she say when these other
people were doing these things?
Gertrude stamps out her cig, and picks up a basket of
laundry. Heads upstairs, ignoring the children.
Nothing.

SHIRLEY (V.O.)

On Sylvia, the life nearly drained out of her.


INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Randy Lepper on the stand.
PROSECUTOR (O.S.)
How many times did you hit her,
Randy?
RANDY LEPPER
Ten or twenty times.
Why?

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)

A long pause as a fearful Randy considers this.


QUICK FLASH:
INT. GARAGE - NIGHT
Randys FATHER stands over him, brings a hard paddle down.
Randy grits his teeth as he takes the pain.
RANDY LEPPER (V.O.)
I dont know, sir.

81.

INT. COURTROOM - DAY


Darlene McGuire on the stand.
Why?

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)

QUICK FLASH:
INT. DARLENES BEDROOM - NIGHT
As a fearful Darlene holds the covers tight around her body,
her bedroom door opens, revealing the silhuoette of a man.
DARLENE (V.O.)
I dont know, sir.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Johnny Banisweski on the stand.
Why?

PROSECUTOR (O.S.)

INT. BASEMENT - DAY


Gertrude hands Johnny the curtain rod.
JOHNNY (V.O.)
I dont know, sir.
As Johnny brings the curtain rod up with a fierce cry.
BLACK.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
The street is quiet.
trees.

The leaves are beginning to turn on the

INT. BASEMENT, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME


Sylvia, bruised arms tied to the banister, sleeps soundly.

82.

INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY


Gertrude sits at the coffee table, going through bills -- all
overdue. She comes across an envelope from Dr. Lindenborg
addressed to Paula. Curious, she opens it up.
Revealing yet another bill.
test.

But this one is for a pregnancy

Gertrudes face reads a mix of emotions:


anger.

fear, confusion,

Theres a KNOCK on the door. Gertrude folds the bill and


sticks it deep into her pocket.
She opens the front door to reveal Ricky.
RICKY
Got any cigarettes?
She waves him in.
INT. LIVING ROOM - LATER
The two sit on the couch smoking.
RICKY
Heard anything from Sylvia?
GERTRUDE
You really like her, dont you?
Shes not good for you, honey.
RICKY
Do you know, did she get my letter?
GERTRUDE
Ricky, I told you, she wants
nothin to do with you. She goes
after married men -- thats why we
had to send her to juvie...
Through the window, Gertrude sees Paula coming up the walk in
her cafeteria uniform.
GERTRUDE
You better put that out and get out
of here. Use the back door.

83.

INT. LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER


Gertrude comes down the stairs as Paula enters.
shoves a fistful of cash in her hands.

Paula coldly

PAULA
Heres your money.
She starts up the stairs.
GERTRUDE
Youre a good daughter, Paula. Im
proud of you. It dont matter what
people say -- youve been holding
your head up high. And were
getting through this.
Paula turns to face her mother.
PAULA
What about Sylvia?
Gertrude stares coldly at her.
her tone.

Paula approaches, softening

PAULA
Ive been prayin, Mama. I think
maybe its time to forgive her. I
think shes learned her lesson.
GERTRUDE
There are things in life we have to
do. Whether we like it or not.
Paula realizes shes not reaching her.
around her.

Gertrude puts an arm

GERTRUDE
You cant play with reputations,
Paula. Thats why I had to do this.
For you.
Paula shrugs finally shrugs her off.
PAULA
I dont want any part of it.
She rushes back up the stairs.
Paula!
to me!

GERTRUDE
You get down here and talk

84.

The door slams.


Paula!

GERTRUDE

INT. BASEMENT - MOMENTS LATER


Sylvias mumbling her psalm to herself, but we can barely
make it out. Gertrude comes down the stairs with a tub of
water and a cloth.
Sylvia.

GERTRUDE

Sylvia looks up, the most conscious weve seen her in some
time.
Gertrude pulls the towel out of the water and squeezes it.
Puts it up to Sylvias face, but she turns her head
defiantly.
GERTRUDE
Im not gonna hurt you.
She gently dabs her forehead.
GERTRUDE
I know what its like to be sick,
Sylvia. I been sick for so long,
you know. I havent been able to
discipline my kids the way I
should...
She wipes the towel across her scarred arm.

Sylvia winces.

GERTRUDE
Oh, I punished em. Sometimes with
my medicine, it gets so I dont
know what Im doing.
She wipes her other arm.
GERTRUDE
But I care for them, so much.
(beat)
And Paula... The thing is, Paulas
a lot like me. I had her when...
well, I wasnt much older than you.
I know people talked about me.
Still do.
She moves to her feet.

85.

GERTRUDE
Then there was Stephanie. And all
the others. And then John left.
Cleaning her right foot, becoming more emotional.
GERTRUDE
And now, here I am... Im doing
everything I can just to keep my
family together.
Then moves to the left.
GERTRUDE
I want something better for Paula,
Sylvia. There has to be something
better...
Wiping her eyes, she stands to face her.
GERTRUDE
And I need to protect my children.
You understand that, dont you?
She stands to face her.
You kids.

GERTRUDE
Youre all Ive got.

They stare long into each others eyes.


GERTRUDE
Thank you, Sylvia. Thank you for
understanding.
The doorbell RINGS upstairs.
tub.

Gertrude drops the rag in the

GERTRUDE
Now thats all better, isnt it?
INT. LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER
Gertrude opens the front door to reveal Reverend Julian.
INT. KITCHEN, BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
Gertrude puts a cup of tea in front of the Reverend.
sits across from him feeding baby Denny.

She

86.

REVEREND JULIAN
Id been meaning to visit anyway,
so when Paula came out to the
church, it just pushed me a little.
GERTRUDE
What has that girl been bothering
you with, Reverend?
REVEREND JULIAN
Shes worried about you. And the
whole house. And, well... theres
something else.
She tenses.
this.

He pauses, knowing theres no good way to broach

REVEREND JULIAN
Paula admitted to me, that she is
pregnant.
Gertrude drops the babys bottle and it shatters.
GERTRUDE
Im sorry Reverend...
She puts Denny in his high chair.

Reverend Julian stands up.

REVEREND JULIAN
Here, let me help you with that...
No, no.

GERTRUDE

Gertrude grabs the broom and starts sweeping nervously.


After a pause:
REVEREND JULIAN
Gertrude, she wants to have the
baby.
Gertrude ignores him, still sweeping in a panic.
REVEREND JULIAN
Now, Im prepared to look the other
way. But I cant speak for the
entire congregation...
GERTRUDE
No. I wont to hear it. Its just
rumors. All the lies of that
Likens girl.

87.

REVEREND JULIAN
She spoke to me about Sylvia as
well.
Gertrude bristles.
REVEREND JULIAN
It wasnt clear, but she said there
were some problems. Sylvia hasnt
been in church for weeks, and I
thought maybe I should sit down
with her as well...
GERTRUDE
Im afraid, Reverend, I finally had
to send her to Juvenile. She was
making advances on men for money.
REVEREND JULIAN
Sylvia did this?
Suddenly, an eruption of noise from the living room as the
younger kids arrive home from school. Shirley rushes into
the kitchen first and stops short.
SHIRLEY
Hi Reverend Julian.
He pats her on the head.
REVEREND JULIAN
We can continue this discussion
later.
She walks him towards the door.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
As Gertrude sees the Reverend out, Paula appears at the top
of the stairs.
GERTRUDE
Thank for your concern, Reverend.
Im sorry that Paulas bothered you
about all this.
Julian recognizes her denial and persists.
REVEREND JULIAN
Id still like you to come by my
office later this week.
(MORE)

88.
REVEREND JULIAN (cont'd)
And perhaps I could go by the
Juvenile Center and speak with
Sylvia myself.
GERTRUDE
Ill see what I can do.
REVEREND JULIAN
Goodbye, Mrs. Baniszewski.
She shuts the door, turns to see Paula coming down the
stairs.
GERTRUDE
Dont you got any sense?
She SLAPS her.

Paula holds her cheek. Rushes out.

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME


As Paula rushes out, she passes Ricky, returning up the walk.
Gertrude calls after her daughter:
GERTRUDE
Im doing this for you!
RICKY
Whats wrong?
Gertrude ignores him.

Steps back inside.

INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME


As Johnny and some of the other kids watch their mother from
the kitchen.
GERTRUDE
Get Sylvia.
INT. KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER
Sylvia sees Gertrudes face looming above her, her thighs as
they straddle her waist.
Open sores catch on the rough wooden table. Little Marie
hugs Sylvias head, locks it down for her mother, while
Johnny and Jimmy grab arms.
GERTRUDE
Sylvia, do you know why youre
here?
(MORE)

89.
GERTRUDE (cont'd)
(beat)
Jimmy give me my cigarette.
She takes a drag and taps the ash.
Sylvia sees the embers as they drift toward her body.
A convulsion almost frees her.
GERTRUDE
Keep her still!
Im sorry.

SYLVIA
Im sorry.

Its clear she doesnt know why.


entering from the living room.

The sound of somebody

MARIE
(kindly)
Sylvia! If you move it will only
be messy.
Gertrudes fingers move to her abdomen, rip open her blouse.
Ricky enters the kitchen, watching in horror. He cant
believe what hes seeing.
GERTRUDE
Ricky! She came back from juvie.
She came back and started stirring
up trouble again.
(beat)
Hand me that pen.
Ricky, still in shock, reaches over to the counter and hands
her a ballpoint.
Sylvia breathes easier. The trembles grow less.
writes, dizzy with anger.

As Gertrude

GERTRUDE
Strike the match, Shirley.
Small hands light the flame.

Hold it up to a needle.

SHIRLEY
Do I got it right, Mama?
GERTRUDE
Very good, Shirley.
its hot.

Just make sure

Sylvia twists as Gertrude bends down, takes the needle.

90.

GERTRUDE
Youve branded my daughters, now I
am gonna brand you.
She takes the needle to a ballpoint I and takes it to
Sylvias flesh. Sylvia shrieks, Ricky turns his head.
Gertrude starts coughing, the stench of burning skin bringing
on an attack.
GERTRUDE
Youll have to finish.
She stumbles off the table and hands him the needle.
I cant.

RICKY

GERTRUDE
Ricky, this girl ran off and got
pregnant with a married man! Are
you gonna let her get away with
that?
Ricky takes the needle.

Gets on top of Sylvia.

GERTRUDE
Thats a good boy.
Gertrude wanders into the living room, grabs a bottle of her
medicine.
He takes a breath, his other hand pushing Sylvia down at the
chest.
Ricky...

SYLVIA

He looks into her eyes, sad. She uses her last bit of
strength to muster the words.
SYLVIA
Ricky, whats it say...
RICKY
It says, I am a prostitute and
proud of it.
As Gertrude lights a cigarette and observes from a distance
in the other room, Ricky cautiously puts the needle to her
skin.

91.

SYLVIA
I am a prostitute and proud of it,
I am a prostitute and proud of
it...
BLACK.
Sylvia?

PAULA (O.S.)

INT. BASEMENT - NIGHT


Sylvias eyes open, Paula standing in front of her.
The ropes bite into Sylvias frail arms as they bind her to
the stairwell.
Sylvia watches, mesmerized, as Paula takes out a kitchen
knife. Goes for the ropes.
PAULA
Youve got to leave.
Paula removes Sylvias gag, but shes unable to answer.
PAULA
Youve got to get out of here. For
your own sake and your sisters.
With each cut rope, Sylvia slumps further.
her, continues to cut.

Paula supports

SYLVIA
(faintly)
I am a prostitute and...
Shhh...

PAULA

INT. GERTRUDES BEDROOM - SAME


A car passes.
with Dennis.

Crickets chirp.

Gertrudes passed out in bed

INT. CHILDRENS BEDROOM


Shirley leaves her sisters sleeping angelically.
way to the door.

Gropes her

92.

INT. BASEMENT - SAME


Slowly, carefully, Paula helps Sylvia up the stairs.
But stops.

Hears the faint TREAD of Shirley.

As they push the door open...


INT. BATHROOM - SAME
Shirley hears the long CREAAAAAK from downstairs.
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
As the door comes to a stop, Paula stops.
sounds from upstairs.

Listening for

INT. CHILDRENS BEDROOM - SAME


Shirley sees Paulas spot on the bed is empty.
CLICK of the downstairs bolt.

Hears the

INT. GERTRUDES BEDROOM - SAME


While Gertrude and Dennis sleep on.
EXT. BACKYARD - SAME
A fingernail moon gives the battered fence an eerie glow as
Paula hands Sylvia a small bundle of clothes. Then opens the
gate.
PAULA
Now get out of the house.
Sylvia looks around.
much space.

The emptiness scares her.

SYLVIA
I dont know where to go.
She turns to go back.

Paula stops her.

PAULA
Youve got to get to your parents.

Theres too

93.

SYLVIA
I cant leave Jennie.
Suddenly, a voice behind them.
SHIRLEY

Paula?

Shirley stares in disbelief.


gate.
Just go!
Mama!

Paula pushes Sylvia through the

PAULA
GO!

SHIRLEY
MAMA!

INT. GERTRUDES BEDROOM - SAME


The SCREAMS wake up Gertrude, and she rolls over to the
window. Hoists it up and looks out to where Sylvia and Paula
stand trembling.
GERTRUDE
What the hell do you think youre
doing!?
Down below, Sylvia gathers all her strength and takes off
running through the yard.
EXT. ALLEY BETWEEN HOMES - MOMENTS LATER
Sylvia breathes heavily. Leans against a wall.
distance sees Gertrude grabbing Paula.

In the

Sees Mrs. Vermillion lean out her second-story window.


MRS. VERMILLION
Whats going on?
Sees Jennie appear.

Can barely make out her small voice.

JENNIE
Whats happened?
GERTRUDE
Jennie, come inside!
Jennie disappears.

Sylvia decides.

And starts running.

94.

EXT. ANOTHER YARD - MOMENTS LATER


Sylvia makes her way through the dark with one hand against a
tall white fence.
Collapses to the ground, and starts to cry.
released.

The pain finally

But suddenly A VOICE penetrates her tears...


Sylvia...

RICKY (O.S.)

She looks up to see Ricky leaning out of a first-story window


ten feet away.
Sylvias horrified. She makes her way along the fence as
fast as her legs will take her.
RICKY
Sylvia, wait!
EXT. THE END OF THE ALLEY - SAME
Sylvias had it.

She has to slow down.

Ricky catches up.

RICKY
(gently)
Sylvia...
SYLVIA
Ricky, dont...
RICKY
No, Sylvia.
He grabs her and pulls her in close as he starts to break
down.
RICKY
I didnt know... I didnt know what
I was doing. Youve got to believe
me. Please...
He pulls her in, crying.

She wraps her arms around him.

95.

INT. RICKYS BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER


As Sylvia sits on the edge of the bed, Ricky enters with a
bottle of iodine and a roll of white linen bandage. He hands
it to Sylvia.
Thank you.

SYLVIA

Sylvia crosses to the mirror, stands there awkwardly for a


moment. She looks over her shoulder at Ricky. He turns his
back to her.
Sorry.

RICKY

Sylvia opens her blouse and sees the scar across her abdomen
for the first time: I am a prostitute and proud of it.
She clenches her teeth, attempting to hold the tears back.
RICKY
Dont look at it, Sylvia.
She begins to gently clean each mark, wincing as she does.
RICKY
We should go to the police.
No.

SYLVIA

RICKY
We can tell them everything.
SYLVIA
I want to get to my parents first.
RICKY
Do you even know where they are?
SYLVIA
I think theyre in Portage.
Ricky heads over to his dresser, his back still to Sylvia.
He digs in a drawer. Pulls out twelve dollars and some
change.
Take this.

RICKY

He holds it out toward Sylvia, his eyes averted.

96.

RICKY
Its not much, but it should get
you there, maybe a little further.
SYLVIA
Ricky, are you sure?
RICKY
I have to, Sylvia.
There eyes meet briefly.
Okay.

She sees he means it.

SYLVIA

INT. RICKYS PARENTS CAR - SAME


Fourteen-year-old Ricky turns the key in the ignition.
doesnt want to start. Sylvia is extremely nervous.

It

SYLVIA
Maybe try a little more gas.
Not yet.
SYLVIA
Your parents are going to kill you.
Sylvia looks up at his house, as a light goes on inside.
Ricky...

SYLVIA

He tries the key again.

Finally!

Reverses awkwardly.

The porch light flips on.


They speed down the street.

Passing...

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME


Where the entire house is lit up. Sylvia shivers and ducks.
But 3850 New York Street is soon swallowed up in the darkness
of night...
EXT. INDIANAPOLIS GREYHOUND STATION - DAWN
Blues and purples break the brand new day. Sylvia comes
outside of the station with a ticket. Ricky sits on a bench
out front, taking in the sunrise.

97.

SYLVIA
Ricky, theres one last thing.
Anything.

RICKY

SYLVIA
You need to keep an eye on Jennie.
Make sure nothing happens to her.
Of course.

RICKY

SYLVIA
And let her know, Im coming back.
RICKY
She wont leave my sight.
A ticket taker calls out from one of the buses.
TICKET TAKER
Number 346!
She pulls her hand away from him to pick up her bundle of
clothes. And sees Gertrude.
Oh my God.

SYLVIA

Gertrudes flying down the sidewalk, enraged.


frozen.

Sylvias

RICKY
Get on the bus!
Sylvia rushes and jumps on the bus, as Gertrude arrives at
Ricky.
Sylvia!

GERTRUDE
Sylvia, get back here!

RICKY
No, Gertie...
He tries to hold her back, but she pushes past, calling at
anyone who will listen.
GERTRUDE
That girls a runaway! Somebody you cant let that bus leave!

98.

The bus pulls out with Gertrude screaming, rushing towards


it.
Sylvia!

GERTRUDE

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - SAME


Sylvia cranes her head to see a guard arriving to help subdue
Gertrude. Sylvia breathes a sigh of relief, falling back
into her seat and slowly drifting off to sleep...
BLACK.
INT. GREYHOUND BUS - AFTERNOON
The bus pulls to a sudden stop. Sylvia is jolted awake.
Through the blazing sun, she squints to see the sign:
Portage.
She quickly gathers her things.
EXT. PORTAGE GREYHOUND BUS STATION - AFTERNOON
As Sylvia steps off the bus, she seems overwhelmed. She
wanders through some travellers towards a pay-phone. When
something stops her.
A poster advertising the carnival.
EXT. OLD TIME CARNIVAL - DAY
Sylvia arrives at the edge of a field where they are just
starting to set up. She shades her eyes and squints to see
workers putting the backdrop to the Tilt-a-Whirl in place.
She wanders through the familiar territory, scanning for a
recognizable face. Then she finds what shes looking for:
Her parents concession truck. She runs up to, and heads
around the back to find her father hauling a propane tank.
He looks up.
She rushes into his arms.
Daddy...

SYLVIA

99.

He puts his arms around her, confused.


out the door, also surprised.
Sylvia?

Betty pops her head

BETTY

INT. CONCESSION STAND - LATER


Sylvia sits on a milk crate in front of her mother and
father. Her sleeves rolled up to reveal her scarred and
burned arms.
Oh my God.

BETTY

She cant bare to look.


closely.

Lester holds her arm and looks more

LESTER
They did this to you?
Sylvia nods.
SYLVIA
I was afraid you wouldnt believe
me.
Betty comes to her daughter and holds her in her arms.
BETTY
Im so sorry. Im just so sorry we
left you there.
Lester is still taking it all in.
LESTER
We spoke to Jennie on the phone
last week, and she said things were
going just fine.
SYLVIA
Thats because shes scared of her.
Thats why we have to get back
there now.
BETTY
We need to call the police.
LESTER
Ill talk to Horst. Betty, you get
her back to the hotel.

100.

Lester comes over and puts an arm around his daughter.


LESTER
Dont worry, Cookie. Everything
will be taken care of...
She falls into his arms.
LESTER
Youre with your family now.
BLACK.
INT. LESTER AND BETTYS FORD - DAY
Sylvia comes to lying in the back seat. Her parents with
their eyes on the road. Sylvia rubs her eyes, sits up and
gazes out the window.
They pass a sign that says New York St.
Youre up!

BETTY

LESTER
Were almost there.
Sylvia tries to look happy.
EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - DAY
As the car pulls up out front.
empty.

The neighborhood is strangely

INT. LESTER AND BETTYS FORD - SAME


Lester turns to Sylvia.
LESTER
You stay here Cookie.
SYLVIA
No. I need to do this.
go in.

I need to

She takes a deep breath, then slowly steps out of the car.

101.

EXT. BANISZEWSKI HOUSE - SAME


She stands to face the house, the sun glaring off the white
paint, forcing her to squint. Her parents standing behind
her.
Sylvia starts up the walk. She steps up to the front door.
Turns back around to her parents.
But they and the car are gone.
Sylvias confused. Doesnt know what to do.
inside she hears a voice...
Sylvia...

Until from

JENNIE (O.S.)

Sylvia slowly turns the knob on the door.


Jennie?

SYLVIA

INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME


From behind, sees Gertrude rocking herself on the couch,
oblivious to her presence.
GERTRUDE
Shes faking. Shes faking.
Sylvia looks through the archway. Stephanie kneels by a
prone body. Johnny has his arm around a teary Shirley and a
quiet Marie.
STEPHANIE
Shes not breathing!
Sylvia suddenly expects the worst.
Sylvia rushes into...
INT. KITCHEN - SAME
Past Johnny, Marie and Shirley, who dont even look at her.
Jennie!

SYLVIA

Stephanie turns away.

102.

SYLVIA

Oh God.

REVEAL SYLVIAS BODY - blue-tinged at the lips.


up, exposing the fresh blood and scars.

Her blouse

The ghost of Sylvia looks at Stephanie.


STEPHANIE
Please, somebody - shes not
breathing!
INT. STAIRWELL - SAME
Ricky rushes down the stairs, through to the kitchen.
and Jennie behind him.

Paula

INT. KITCHEN - SAME


STEPHANIE
Ricky, do something!
Ricky kneels beside the blue-tinged Sylvia, tentatively feels
her pulse. Puts his hand above her mouth.
JENNIE
Is she gonna be okay?
Watch out.

RICKY

He pushes Stephanie to the side and begins to pump her chest.


Then breathes into her mouth.
Breath.

Breath.

Pump.

Pump.

Paula cant take it, stumbles out to the hallway.


INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
But Gertrude, now pacing, stops her.
stern.
GERTRUDE
You go get Dennis for me.
know what to do.
Mama...

PAULA

Shes composed, almost

Hell

103.

GERTRUDE
Shes faking, Paula.
Dennis.

Now go get

Paula looks into her mothers chilly eyes, frightened for


her. And herself. She heads out the front door.
INT. KITCHEN - SAME
Rickys still over Sylvia.

Breath.

Breath.

Pump.

Pump.

RICKY
Shes cold.
STEPHANIE
A bath might get her warm.
help me get her upstairs.

Johnny,

Johnnys too scared to touch her.


Johnny!

STEPHANIE

He comes over, grabs her shoulders. He and Stephanie


struggle to get Sylvia out of the kitchen.
STEPHANIE
Somebody better call the police.
Ricky looks at her, afraid.

She meets his eyes forcefully.

STEPHANIE
Ricky, shes dying.
Ricky rushes out of the kitchen.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Gertrude still pacing as Ricky runs past.
him.

She calls after

GERTRUDE
Its not real. Shes doing this on
purpose!
As Stephanie and Johnny pass by with Sylvia in their arms,
Gertrude collapses on the couch, almost pleading.
GERTRUDE
Its not real.

104.

Stephanie calls back from the stairwell.


STEPHANIE (O.S.)
Marie, Shirley, you look after
Mama.
The girls go sit down next to their mother.
GERTRUDE
Its not real.
Shirley puts an arm around her.

The mother now the child.

EXT. SHELL STATION - DAY


Shoulders slumped, Ricky dials the phone.
Three long RINGS.
OPERATOR
Police emergency. Can I help you?
RICKY
There may be a dead girl at a
house.
INT. BATHROOM - SAME
The low loud RUMBLE of a tub filling.
lies lifeless in the bath.

Sylvia, still clothed,

Johnny at the faucet, Stephanie holding Sylvias head up.


STEPHANIE
Make sure its not too hot.
Jimmy and Marie appear in the doorway to watch.
JIMMY
Whats wrong with her?
STEPHANIE
Jimmy, get!
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
As Jimmy passes through the hallway toward the stairs, we see
Jennie in the bedroom, calmly gathering her clothes into a
paper bag.

105.

INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME


Paula barges in through the front door, Dennis behind her.
Gertrude pays them no mind, still lost in a haze.
from upstairs distracts Dennis. He rushes up.

A wail

INT. BATHROOM - SAME


Stephanie holds Sylvia, still in the tub, rocking back and
forth. Johnny and Marie staring in silence. Dennis arrives
in the doorway.
Oh God.

DENNIS

Stephanie looks up at him, pained.


STEPHANIE
Shes dead.
INT. LIVING ROOM - SAME
Shirleys still comforting her mother as Dennis enters.
Gertie!

DENNIS

Seeing Dennis calms Gertrude.


him.
Dennis.
faking.

She gets up.

GERTRUDE
Its not real.

Heads toward

Shes

He looks in her eyes, grabs her.


DENNIS
What have you done?
She begins to break down in tears.
it all began.

For the first time since

GERTRUDE
Shes faking... Shes faking...
She collapses into his arms.
room, to reveal...

We push past them in the living

106.

Sylvia (or, rather, the ghost of Sylvia) standing at the


other end of the room, a witness to Gertrudes final
breakdown.
Sirens BLARE outside.
EXT. 3850 NEW YORK STREET - SAME
Ricky rushes up to the porch as Police Cars and an Ambulance
SKID onto the street.
He looks through the window, sees Gertrude crying in Denniss
arms.
Jennie exits with her paper sack, calmly stepping off the
porch. Comes down the walk and stops at the first police
officer to step out of a car.
JENNIE
Get me out of here and Ill tell
you everything...
BLACK.
EXT. INDIANA STATE SUPREME COURT - DAY
Back in the black-and-white sequence from the beginning of
the film Reporters scramble outside of the courthouse as various
defendants and witnesses walk past with their lawyers except now we know who they are.
Jennie.

Marie, Shirley, Stephanie.

Paula, Ricky, Coy and Johnny.


And Gertrude.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
The trial lasted sixteen days.
As a FLASH! brings the screen to white.
INT. COURTROOM - MORNING
The spectators push and shove into the wooden benches.
Everyone wants to be up front.

107.

SYLVIA (V.O.)
Every seat was always filled.
I dont know who with.
A figure at the front swears in before a bailiff.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
Gertrude was the last defendant to
take the stand.
JUMP CUT TO:
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
A composed Gertrude sits calmly on the stand. Absolute
silence in the courtroom. No one wants to miss this.
PROSECUTOR
What was your physical condition in
July and August of last year?
GERTRUDE
Pretty run down physically. Pretty
upset mentally and emotionally.
PROSECUTOR
What do you mean?
GERTRUDE
If you have as many children around
your home every day as I did,
arguing and carrying on, youd get
pretty mentally and emotionally
upset, too.
PROSECUTOR
What medicine did you take?
GERTRUDE
Phenobarbital Sulphate. I started
taking some coricidin... I was
trying to doctor myself because I
could not afford to go to the
doctor.
PROSECUTOR
Now then, getting around to the
first week of September... was
there any change in your physical
condition or the conditions around
that house?

108.

No sir.

GERTRUDE

PROSECUTOR
How about the third week of
September, do you remember that?
GERTRUDE
You mean any specific thing that
would happen in September?
PROSECUTOR
Yes, any specific thing?
GERTRUDE
The kids were fighting a lot.
PROSECUTOR
The kids were fighting a lot?
GERTRUDE
My children and the neighbor
children were coming in and
fighting Sylvia and my children
were fighting other children and
back and forth.
PROSECUTOR
What did you do when they were
fighting?
GERTRUDE
Well, I did not see this fighting.
I was hardly able to stay up at
all. I did not feel like even
getting up...
PROSECUTOR
Did you have any knowledge that any
mistreatment was going on towards
Sylvia?
No sir.

GERTRUDE

PROSECUTOR
Did you ever commit any indignity?
Make any marks on that girls body?
No sir.

GERTRUDE

109.

PROSECUTOR
Do you know how those wounds got on
her body?
No sir.

GERTRUDE

PROSECUTOR
Are you telling the jury you dont
know who did it?
No.

GERTRUDE

PROSECUTOR
Did you hear the testimony of
Jennie?
GERTRUDE
Yes, I did.
PROSECUTOR
And did you hear some of your
children state Saturday afternoon,
before Sylvia died that you started
branding this girl?
Gertrude is starting to become uncomfortable.
GERTRUDE
Yes, I heard that.
PROSECUTOR
Did they all lie?
She looks out to the courtroom at her fellow defendants:
children. That is, Paula, Johnny, Ricky and Coy.

the

Stephanie, Marie and Shirley are in the audience, mute


witnesses to their mothers betrayal.
As she looks down on her children the words come out, almost
as if she has no control over them:
GERTRUDE
That is right.
PROSECUTOR
The fact is, you are lying, isnt
it?
And shes starting to break down now:

110.

No, sir.

GERTRUDE

PROSECUTOR
Did you hear John Baniszewski state
you had burned her with matches and
cigarettes?
GERTRUDE
Yes, I heard that statement.
PROSECUTOR
Did he tell the truth?
But attempting at some semblance of control through her lies:
GERTRUDE
(on the verge of tears)
He is not telling the truth, no.
PROSECUTOR
You are saying you did not do it.
I did not.

GERTRUDE

PROSECUTOR
You were in bed a great deal of
time and the children were doing
things you did not know they were
doing...
GERTRUDE
(pulling it together)
I imagine they were doing quite a
few things I did not know.
PROSECUTOR
Do you know why he is lying?
GERTRUDE
I imagine he is a pretty scared
little boy.
She wont look at her son.
PROSECUTOR
Are you scared?
GERTRUDE
I have been scared a long time
about a lot of things...

111.

Johnny put his head on Paulas shoulder.


SYLVIA (V.O.)
She sacrificed me to protect her
children. Then sacrificed them to
protect herself.
DISSOLVE TO:
INT. COURTROOM - LATER
The jury files in. All eyes on them. The head juror hands a
manila envelope to the bailiff, who faces the room.
BAILIFF
We the jury find John Baniszewski
Jr., Coy Hubbard and Richard Hobbs
guilty of manslaughter, and
sentence each to two to twenty
years in the Indiana State
Reformatory.
From the spectator benches, Stephanie reaches over to hold
Coys hand. Johnny breaks out in the tears. Paula holds him
close.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
Johnny was the youngest inmate in
the reformatorys history. Later
he became a lay minister. I think
he had to find a way to tell his
story...
Ricky sits apart.

Theres no one to comfort him.

SYLVIA (V.O.)
Ricky was released on parole after
serving two years. He died at age
21, of cancer.
BAILIFF
We the jury find Paula Baniszewski
guilty of second-degree murder, and
sentence her to two to twenty
years.
Paula hangs her head. Stephanie hands her a small baby,
which Paula clutches tightly.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
And Paula had that baby.

112.

Paula breaks down in tears as officers gently take her infant


away.
BAILIFF
We the jury find Gertrude
Baniszewski guilty of first-degree
murder, sentencing her to life in
prison.
Gertrude still stoic. Completely unmoving. She looks to her
children, unsure of what to say, as shes handcuffed and
dragged away.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
Gertrude served twenty years. When
she was released, she changed her
name and moved to Iowa. She died a
few years later.
Lester and Betty Likens get up to leave. There is no triumph
in their faces. The D.A. gives Jennie a hug.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
And Mama and Daddy went back on the
road. Jennie went to live with the
District Attorney. He helped her
get back on her feet.
We move past them to pick up Sylvia, watching this all from a
distance.
INT. PRISON CELL - DAY
As Gertrude is led into her cell, shes still dazed.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
Reverend Julian used to say, With
every situation God always has a
plan.
As Gertrude sits down on her bed, she looks up from the floor
to see Sylvia sitting across from her. She struggles to get
the words out:
Im sorry.

GERTRUDE

And then she begins to gently cry.


SYLVIA (V.O.)
Im still trying to figure out what
that plan was...

113.

Sylvia slowly fades away, leaving Gertrude alone in her cell.


SYLVIA (V.O.)
But maybe it all worked out for the
best. Before my death, people
didnt talk much about child abuse.
But my case made Time Magazine. So
maybe it helped somehow.
EXT. OLD TIME CARNIVAL - DUSK
The carnival is eerily empty, dark.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
And I got to go to Heaven.
Bits of trash blow in the wind as Sylvia steps in and wanders
toward the carrousel in the distance.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
For me, heaven was always the
carnival. It was the one place I
always felt safe.
She steps onto the carrousel, gets on a shiny horse.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
And Ive discovered that there are
a lot of kids out there, just like
me, who want nothing more than to
just feel safe.
She leans back happily, her long curls blowing as she whirls
and spins - exuberant and free.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
So Ive returned. This time,
without my family. I sure do miss
them.
Slowly but surely, other children begin to fade in on the
horses behind her.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
But dont worry...
As every horse is filled with an innocent abandoned soul.
SYLVIA (V.O.)
Im not alone.

114.

We leave the ghostly ride, glowing faintly in the distance.


BLACK.

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