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.
Joe! Nice to see you again. How can
I help you?
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.
Yes, yes, I have it for you.
How's everything, Joe? You're
You see this big stomach? I'm
eating, I'm eating.
That's good to hear. I'm glad
you're doing well.
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.
(glances away at the
mention of JOSEPH's wife)
You working on the crossword? Let
me help you. Yesterday's was real
tough, Saturday's always are.
Joe, it's Wednesday.
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
Pleasure is mine, Ms. Bolton. Thank
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
INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - CONTINUOUS
(calls to the back)
I think we need to buy more
buttons. The small black ones.
(waits a moment)
MELISSA BOLTON (O.S.)
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?
I know, Mel. It's awful.
We have to do something.
We are doing something. What do you
call all this?
Yeah, I hate to say it, but this
can't go on any longer.
(shocked, puts down his
You can't mean that. The poor guy,
he doesn't know what's going on. We
owe it to him.
We owe it to him to keep up a lie?
Pretend she's alive and dropping
off clothing? I can't keep lying to
Stop. This isn't funny. You know
this is the right thing to do.
MELISSA shakes her head, moving towards the back room.
We all have to wake up eventually.
He needs purpose. Something to do
besides wallow or play games. He
thinks he's helping her, making her
happy. It keeps him going.
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.
Since when have you cared so much
about a little white lie?
MELISSA BOLTON (O.S.)
This one's not little.
I know there's something more.
What's the real reason you don't
want to help Joe?
I want to help Joe, of course I do.
But honestly, we can't afford it.
You're worried about money? This is
bigger than money!
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.
We have to keep helping him. We
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.
You're right. Dreaming's not
enough. That's why we do more.
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.
It's not our responsibility! You
don't need to carry the weight of
the world on your shoulders.
I'm not carrying the world. I'm
carrying one man.
(rubs her forehead or
slumps against the
counter, worn out)
And I'm trying to carry this
family. It's not an easy task.
Melissa, listen -
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.
He doesn't have a wife to care for
And why does that suddenly matter
to you? Really? Why do you actually
care so much?
I know what it's like to lose
What are you talking about?
I was married before, Mel. And
she... she died. She's why I can't
stand to let Joe handle this by
(beat) Larry, I -
I see it's hard for you. You don't
have to help. I'll do it on my own
but I -
Why didn't you tell me?
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
I'll try. I'll think about it.
INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - DAY - WEEKS LATER
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.
INT. DRY CLEANER'S SHOP - NIGHT
MELISSA is at the counter, going over their month's spending.
LARRY is ironing a shirt.
That's it. We have to tell Joe the
You know I can't do that.
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.
So, what do you suggest?
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
Good morning, Ms. Bolton.
Good morning, Joe. I'm glad to see
Me too, me too. Excuse me asking,
but where's your husband?
He's doing work in the back. I'll
tell him to come say hello.
Good, good. You know why I'm here,
yes? My wife's shirt, she wanted it
all nice and clean for tonight -
Listen, Joe. I need to tell you
Her shirt! If you've ruined her
shirt, I don't know what I'll do!
She'll be so upset, her shirt!
No, no, her shirt is fine! It's
The money? I paid last week, didn't
Yes, Joe, you paid us to clean it.
It's not about the money. Well, I
Well what? What is it? Come on,
tell me! I don't know what I'm
going to tell my wife.
It's just - (composes herself)
I need to tell you something about
Ruth, she's the greatest thing that
ever walked this planet.
Yeah, Joe, she's -
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
I know, Joe, but -
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
But you can't -
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
You don't understand -
You're right, she can't be
understood. She's an angel.
Yeah. (sigh) A true angel.
There is a long pause. Joe looks about the store wistfully,
and Melissa appears heartbroken.
So I surprise her by picking up her
clothes for her, so she doesn't
have to, so she can relax. You have
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)
Ruth will be so happy. She looks
beautiful in this shirt.
I'm sure she does.
Thank you, Ms. Bolton.
Please, call me Melissa.
(turns to leave)
Good day, Melissa.
(with a smile)
See you next week, Joe.
LARRY enters the room, grinning from ear to ear.
You're an angel.
Just doing my job.