EXT. LAKE HOUSE. DAY.
 
SUBTITLE: EIGHT MONTHS LATER - AUGUST, 2004
 
A new day in Sutcliffe, fresh and dry, with light clouds that roll sweetly through the sky. Bill, in a t-shirt and a swimsuit, steps out onto the back porch, taking in the immaculate scenery that surrounds him, enjoying the cleansing feeling of each breath. A beat before the door swings open behind him. He turns; it’s Jacob, also in a t-shirt and swim trunks. He joins Bill on the porch and behind him follows Nick. Behind Nick follows Spencer, who regards Bill with cool indifference, as though their late-night encounter of only a few hours earlier never happened.
They stand in a circle on the porch as Jacob pulls a small bag from his pocket, from which he takes a piece of blotter paper. One by one he rips off a double-tab of acid and passes it on his finger to one of the others.
 
JACOB
Count of three? 1... 2...
 
They drop their tabs in ceremonious silence.
 
NICK
(Mia Wallace-style)
Shitgoddamn! That’s the good stuff.
 
BILL
How long before it kicks in?
 
JACOB
T-minus thirty minutes. Set your watches...
 
BILL
On your mark, get set...
 
SPENCER
(singing, tab visible on his
tongue)
Picture yourself in a boat on a river...
 
SWIRL TO:
 
EXT. FOREST. HALF AN HOUR LATER.
 
Light on water, abstracted out of movement into a solid plane of sparkling singularity that is always already over. Sunlight on the surface like a series of small planes casting white smoke in a gray sky. Each passing drop of light autonomous and excited, welcome with life, now gone. A world teeming with life, with little planes casting smoke, with ants running around autonomous and excited, the black inversion of this sparkling white light: film negative or film positive? Either/or, that’s the thing about it.
 
Jacob is picking up rocks. Nick has found a path between the trees that leads him to the shore. Spencer is holding his hands out into the sunlight and closing his eyes. For one instant he looks up and makes eye contact with Bill, who recoils instantly and, looking at patches of floating light along the trail, concludes that he must do his best to avoid Spencer as long as the drugs are in effect. It doesn’t feel safe.
 
MAN’S VOICE
Excuse me. Bill? You dropped something.
 
Bill turns and gasps.
 
HOWARD DEAN stands on the trail behind him in his blue button-down shirt and tie. He holds out a manila envelope folded once vertically and once horizontally and places it in Bill’s hand. Bill takes it fearfully, looking to see if Spencer stands behind him, but Spencer is gone. Trembling, he puts the envelope in his pocket.
 
DEAN
I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you
every day for a year.
 
BILL
...you wrote me?
DEAN
Yes. It wasn’t over... It still isn’t over.
Why do you think I am where I am, having come
from no place at the end of January? Y’know
something? Y’know something?
 
He’s beginning to grow a long golden tail and a lion’s bushy mane.
 
DEAN (CONT’D)
Not only are we going to New Hampshire,
Tom Larkin; we’re going to South Carolina,
and Oklahoma, and Arizona,
(more loudly)
and North Dakota, and New Mexico; and we’re
going to California and Texas and New York!
(full-on roaring)
AND WE’RE GOING TO SOUTH DAKOTA AND OREGON
AND WASHINGTON - AND MICHIGAN! AND THEN WE’RE
GOING TO WASHINGTON D.C. TO TAKE BACK THE
WHITE HOUSE...
 
From behind a tree between Bill and Howard Dean emerges JOHN EDWARDS decked out in armor, an upside-down funnel atop his head, an axe in his hand.
 
EDWARDS
May I respond? May I respond? And I
wanna respond to this young man’s question.
Because let me tell you, the last thing we
need in the South is somebody like you
coming in and telling us what we need to do.
That’s the last thing in the world we need
in the South. I grew up in the South.
(speaking in George W. Bush’s voice)
Some folks look at me and see a certain
swagger, which in Texas is called “walking.”
 
DEAN
(speaking in Gollum voice)
They cursed us. “Murderer” they called us.
They cursed us, and drove us away. And we
wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone. And
we only wish to catch fish so juicy sweet.
And we forgot the taste of bread... the sound
of trees... the softness of the wind. We even
forgot our own name. My Precious.
 
Edwards looks up at Bill.
 
EDWARDS
Where’s Maggie?
 
Bill freezes.
 
BILL
Who?
 
DEAN
You heard him. Where’s Maggie?
 
He stares at Bill threateningly.
 
BILL
(gulping)
I don’t know. Seriously.
They step towards him.
 
EDWARDS
Would you like your muffin buttered?
 
BILL
... What?
 
EDWARDS
Would you like us to assign someone to
butter your muffin?
 
BILL
My what?
 
A voice from behind:
 
VOICE
Is he bothering you?
 
Bill turns: it’s JOHN KERRY in overalls and a checkered shirt, straw popping out at the neck.
 
KERRY
Why are you such a skeeze?
 
EDWARDS
I’m just being friendly.
 
DEAN
(whispering)
You were supposed to call me last night!
 
KERRY
(to Edwards)
John, you do not come to a party at my
house with Howard and then scam on some
poor innocent kid right in front of us
three days later.
(to Bill)
Do you want to have sex with him?
 
BILL
(surprised, quickly)
No thank you.
 
KERRY
Good. It’s settled. So you can go shave
your back now. Bye, John.
 
John Edwards turns and starts to walk away.
 
EDWARDS
(under his breath)
Bitch.
 
Dean and Kerry giggle triumphantly.
 
KERRY
(rapping)
Semi-9 and snipered him; on that wall
they posted him. They cornered him. And
then just murdered him. He told them he
didn’t know them; he wasn’t there, they
didn’t know him. They showed him a picture
then: “Ain’t that you with the Muslims?”
He got Colgate on his teeth and Reebok
classics on his feet... At a fact’ry he
does Nike and then helps the family. Beat,
heart, beat; he’s made it to the Newsweek.
Sweetheart seen it, he’s doin’ it for the
peeps, peace.
 
DEAN
(scream-singing)
I backed my car into a cop car the other
day! Well, he just drove off, sometimes
life’s okay. I ran my mouth off a bit too
much, ah, what did I say? Well, you just
laughed it off and it was all okay.
 
Edwards re-emerges and joins Dean and Kerry so that the three are now standing in a line. They link arms. The road turns to yellow brick beneath them.
 
KERRY / DEAN / EDWARDS
(singing)
And we’ll all float on okay...
And we’ll all float on okay...
And we’ll all float on okay...
And we’ll all float on anyway.
 
DEAN
Is someone gonna pick up my dry cleaning?
 
JACOB
Bill?
 
Everything vanishes. Bill turns to Jacob, who has a nervous look on his face.
 
JACOB (CONT’D)
Did you hear that?
 
BILL
The, like, Wizard of Oz with the presidential
candidates singing Modest Mouse?
 
JACOB
Huh? I thought I heard screaming.
 
BILL
It’s probably just in your head, man.
 
JACOB
You’re right...
 
But he seems uncertain. And that makes Bill uncertain. A long, tense, silent beat as they look at each other and then down the road. Bill reaches into his pocket -- it’s empty. They’re finally relaxing when:
 
VOICE (OFFSCREEN)
(dire)
HELP!!!
 
They jump, startled.
 
JACOB
That’s Nick! 
 
They bolt in the direction of the cry.
 
CUT TO: