Her Shirt

February 13, 2018
By VivaFariy GOLD, Los Angeles, California
VivaFariy GOLD, Los Angeles, California
19 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it."
~~~
"You've gotta dance like there's no one watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like there's no one listening, and live like it's heaven on earth."
“The most important words a man can say are, "I will do better.”
― Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer


FADE IN:

 

INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - DAY


In the front room of the dry cleaner's shop. A few chairs and
a table are set up, with magazines, crossword puzzles, and
such scattered on the table. There is a tall COUNTER with a
cash register, a potted plant, and a small bowl of candy. On
the wall is a calendar filled with pick-up dates written in a
feminine handwriting, and a WEDDING PHOTO with a post-it note
saying "Happy 10th Anniversary", in a different, more messy
handwriting. Behind the counter is the DRY CLEANING RACK,
filled with clothing ranging from business shirts to
children's party clothing. In the back is a CURTAIN that
leads to the back room of the shop.


LARRY BOLTON is behind the counter working on a crossword
puzzle as he waits for a customer. He's wearing a plaid
button down shirt, with one sleeve rolled up to the elbow and
one hanging loose, cuff unbuttoned. JOSEPH DAVIS enters the
shop, moving slowly. He's wearing a baggy grey cardigan over
his shirt that makes his grey hair more noticeable.
Underneath, he's rather skinny.


LARRY perks up, smiling at the customer, but his face falls
slightly when he realizes it is JOSEPH.


LARRY BOLTON

Joe! Nice to see you again. How can
I help you?

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

I am here for my wife's shirt. She
wants it cleaned, all nice and
pressed. You have it for me?

 

LARRY glances at the back of the shop nervously.

 

LARRY BOLTON
Yes, yes, I have it for you.
How's everything, Joe? You're
eating well?

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

You see this big stomach? I'm
eating, I'm eating.


LARRY BOLTON
That's good to hear. I'm glad
you're doing well.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

But I'm still getting all these
cards and s***. My couch is
covered, I can't even sit to watch
TV! People in this town waste too
much paper on those cards. And
those flowers! They keep coming and
coming. My wife can't find enough
vases for them.

 

LARRY BOLTON
(glances away at the
mention of JOSEPH's wife)
Yeah.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

You working on the crossword? Let
me help you. Yesterday's was real
tough, Saturday's always are.


LARRY BOLTON
Joe, it's Wednesday.


JOSEPH DAVIS
That's what I said, didn't I?

 

MELISSA BOLTON passes a fancy women's blouse to LARRY through
the curtain, sticking her head out to speak.


MELISSA BOLTON (O.S)
Here you go, Joe. Nice to see you
again.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Pleasure is mine, Ms. Bolton. Thank
you.

 

JOSEPH starts to leave, then turns back to MELISSA.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS (CONT’D)
You take care of Larry, okay? He's
looking worried, sad. Not right for
him, not right. You'll take care of
him, won't you?

 

MELISSA BOLTON (O.S.)
Sure will, Joe. I always do. Take
care.


JOSEPH exits.

 

INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - CONTINUOUS
LARRY BOLTON
(calls to the back)
I think we need to buy more
buttons. The small black ones.
(waits a moment)
Melissa?

 

MELISSA BOLTON (O.S.)

Got it.

 

MELISSA enters. Her outfit is put together, with an apron on
top that has several pockets, filled with buttons and thread.

 

MELISSA BOLTON (CONT’D)
Hey, about Joe... It's been what,
three months since his wife died?
And each week he comes back, as if
he has no idea?

 

LARRY BOLTON
I know, Mel. It's awful.


MELISSA BOLTON
We have to do something.


LARRY BOLTON

We are doing something. What do you
call all this?

 

MELISSA BOLTON

Yeah, I hate to say it, but this
can't go on any longer.


LARRY BOLTON
(shocked, puts down his
papers)
You can't mean that. The poor guy,
he doesn't know what's going on. We
owe it to him.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

We owe it to him to keep up a lie?
Pretend she's alive and dropping
off clothing? I can't keep lying to
him.

 

LARRY BOLTON

Stop. This isn't funny. You know
this is the right thing to do.

 

MELISSA shakes her head, moving towards the back room.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

We all have to wake up eventually.

 

LARRY BOLTON

He needs purpose. Something to do
besides wallow or play games. He
thinks he's helping her, making her
happy. It keeps him going.


MELISSA BOLTON

I get that, but it's not right. He
needs help, real help. Not from us.


MELISSA goes to the back room to get some papers.

 

LARRY BOLTON

Since when have you cared so much
about a little white lie?


MELISSA BOLTON (O.S.)

This one's not little.


LARRY BOLTON

I know there's something more.
What's the real reason you don't
want to help Joe?

 

MELISSA reenters.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

I want to help Joe, of course I do.
But honestly, we can't afford it.

 

LARRY BOLTON

You're worried about money? This is
bigger than money!


MELISSA BOLTON

Look at this bill, Larry. You're
buying a fancy lady's shirt every
week! Do you know how much quality
women's clothing costs? I haven't
bought a new shirt for myself in
months! We don't have the money for
this. I'm sorry, but we don't.

 

LARRY BOLTON

We have to keep helping him. We
have to.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
How? You have to be practical,
Larry. I can dream too. But
dreaming's not enough.


There is a long pause. The two look at each other, having a
silent conversation, one of many years of marriage.

 

LARRY BOLTON
You're right. Dreaming's not
enough. That's why we do more.


MELISSA BOLTON

But -

 

LARRY BOLTON

I'm not backing down, Melissa. I'm
a helper. Every day I step into
this shop and run the machine I'm
helping people. It's what I do. And
Joe needs our help more than
others. I can't just sit back and
watch him suffer.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

It's not our responsibility! You
don't need to carry the weight of
the world on your shoulders.


LARRY BOLTON

I'm not carrying the world. I'm
carrying one man.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
(rubs her forehead or
slumps against the
counter, worn out)
And I'm trying to carry this
family. It's not an easy task.

 

LARRY BOLTON
Melissa, listen -

 

MELISSA BOLTON

No, you listen. I'm trying, I am.
But the bills don't pay themselves.
The rooms don't clean themselves.
The food doesn't make itself. I'm
tired, Larry. This business is
important to me. I want to be able
to support us. I can't take on
caring for our neighbors too. It's
not my job.

 

LARRY BOLTON
(really quiet)
He doesn't have a wife to care for
him.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

And why does that suddenly matter
to you? Really? Why do you actually
care so much?

 

LARRY BOLTON

I -

 

MELISSA BOLTON

The truth.

 

LARRY BOLTON
I know what it's like to lose
someone.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
What are you talking about?


LARRY BOLTON

I was married before, Mel. And
she... she died. She's why I can't
stand to let Joe handle this by
himself.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

(beat) Larry, I -


LARRY BOLTON

I see it's hard for you. You don't
have to help. I'll do it on my own
but I -

 

MELISSA BOLTON
Why didn't you tell me?


LARRY BOLTON
(deep sigh)
Because I moved on, and found you.
But Melissa, Joe won't find someone
else. He's dying himself. I don't
want him to feel this pain as his
last feeling. So please, can we
help him pretend life is good? For
me?

 

MELISSA BOLTON
I'll try. I'll think about it.

 

LARRY BOLTON

Thank you.

 

INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - DAY - WEEKS LATER


BEGIN MONTAGE

JOSEPH comes back to the shop week after week. Each time he
chats with LARRY and picks up a nice women's shirt. Each time
MELISSA looks more and more worried and upset, and LARRY
tries even harder to hide his anxiety. There is heavy tension
between the two of them, but JOSEPH doesn't notice. Focus on
facial expressions and the emotions in the room.
END MONTAGE


INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - NIGHT


MELISSA is at the counter, going over their month's spending.
LARRY is ironing a shirt.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

That's it. We have to tell Joe the
truth.

 

LARRY BOLTON
You know I can't do that.


MELISSA BOLTON

Enough is enough. I put up with it
because I feel bad for him, and I
want to support you. But we can't
pay for this anymore. I'm at my
wit's end trying to see where we
can cut spending... but we can't.
We just can't.

 

LARRY BOLTON
(reluctantly)
So, what do you suggest?


MELISSA BOLTON

You leave it up to me. I'll do it
nicely, don't worry. We'll take
care of him.

 

INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - DAY - NEXT DAY

 

JOSEPH DAVIS
Good morning, Ms. Bolton.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

Good morning, Joe. I'm glad to see
you.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Me too, me too. Excuse me asking,
but where's your husband?

 

MELISSA BOLTON

He's doing work in the back. I'll
tell him to come say hello.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Good, good. You know why I'm here,
yes? My wife's shirt, she wanted it
all nice and clean for tonight -

 

MELISSA BOLTON

Listen, Joe. I need to tell you
something.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Her shirt! If you've ruined her
shirt, I don't know what I'll do!
She'll be so upset, her shirt!

 

MELISSA BOLTON
No, no, her shirt is fine! It's
something else.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

The money? I paid last week, didn't
I?

 

MELISSA BOLTON

Yes, Joe, you paid us to clean it.
It's not about the money. Well, I
mean -

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Well what? What is it? Come on,
tell me! I don't know what I'm
going to tell my wife.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
It's just - (composes herself)
I need to tell you something about
your wife.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Ruth, she's the greatest thing that
ever walked this planet.
MELISSA BOLTON
Yeah, Joe, she's -

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

All she does is give, give, give,
never asking for anything. So I'm
trying to give to her. I didn't
have anything, and she said yes
anyway.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
I know, Joe, but -

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Every night she works late, past
when those kids go to bed, she
loves them so much. All her soul
she puts into what she does, for
that family, or anyone. She says
she wishes she could be at home
more, but can't leave the kids. So
I try to surprise her when she
comes home.

 

MELISSA BOLTON

But you can't -

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

We came from nothing. She made it
work. She made our own clothes, did
the cooking, everything. We have no
kids, so she treats that family
like they're her own. I don't need
anyone else.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
(weaker)
You don't understand -

 

JOSEPH DAVIS
You're right, she can't be
understood. She's an angel.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
Yeah. (sigh) A true angel.

There is a long pause. Joe looks about the store wistfully,
and Melissa appears heartbroken.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

So I surprise her by picking up her
clothes for her, so she doesn't
have to, so she can relax. You have
her shirt?

 

MELISSA BOLTON
(long pause)
Yes, Joe, I have her shirt for you.

 

We follow MELISSA to the back room. She rummages around, but
there are no more of the women's shirts for JOSEPH. She
glances at the budgeting book, and we see that they didn't
buy a shirt this week. She glances at the front, where Joe
is. She grabs an old work shirt. She takes off her own blouse
and puts on the work shirt instead. She goes back to the
front, holding her own blouse.

 

MELISSA BOLTON (CONT’D)

Here, Joe.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS

Ruth will be so happy. She looks
beautiful in this shirt.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
I'm sure she does.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS
Thank you, Ms. Bolton.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
Please, call me Melissa.

 

JOSEPH DAVIS
(turns to leave)
Good day, Melissa.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
(with a smile)
See you next week, Joe.

 

JOSEPH exits.

 

LARRY enters the room, grinning from ear to ear.

 

LARRY BOLTON
You're an angel.

 

MELISSA BOLTON
Just doing my job.

 

FADE OUT.



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