"Confessions of a Fake Moon Astronaut" by Paul Abramson

http://www.paulzilla.org/humor/ScrnplayCoafmaAbramson.htm

 

 

Gee, no one ... no one in Hollywood will even read my screenplay, much less consider it. Hmmm....

 

Well, rather than just let languish on the shelf I suppose that I'll go ahead and post it on-line. Perhaps a few folks out there will find it entertaining or interesting or something. ...

 

"Confessions of a Fake Moon Astronaut"
(Family-oriented, probably a PG rating) - centers around Astronaut Jim Wellview, Commander of the (fictional) Apollo 18 mission to the Moon.  He wants to come clean after all these years.  We see an Apollo moon launch from his memory, while in "reality" the three astronauts are together with a Hollywood crew at a secret desert location.

It is many years later, but his conscience has bothered him all these years.  In his depths he turned to drinking and became a used car salesman (yes ... he went that low!).

The very end of the film (script is 107 pages long) has Jim and the main actors on a flight (showing a first class cabin) that will take over 36 hours to get to New York.  Then we find out that this flight is on a Space Shuttle, leaving from the surface of Mars, as they all sing together after the lift-off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Fake Moon Astronaut

 

Written by

Paul Abramson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Abramson

Copyright 2009 by Paul Abramson P.O. Box 8210

(Reg# PAu3-434-555; Dec. 5, 2009) Evansville, IN. 47716

Registered, WGAe(#1211086; 12/16/2009)

 

 

 

FADE IN:

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

An older but fit man, Apollo 18 Commander JIM Wellview lies on the sofa in the middle of the room. An end table sits near the head side of the sofa. He stares up, not focused on anything.

 

JIM

I do think these sessions are helping me. I just can't seem to, ah -

 

DR. RANDOLPH (O.S.)

(crisp diction)

Relax and tell me Jim, err, I mean Commander Wellview.

 

JIM

I can't. I wish ... I wish I - that it hadn't hap-(pened) - that I wasn't a part of it. It was so many years ago, b-(ut) ...

 

DR. RANDOLPH sits in a high back leather chair off to the side of the sofa at an angle where he sees Jim well, but Jim would have to strain to see him.

 

Dr. Randolph is an older man, wearing an impeccable suit. He holds a notepad and a stylish pen at the ready. A dark hardwood desk is situated not far away from them.

 

Dr. Randolph has a friendly smile but lips curved upward (slightly mischievous?) and piercing eyes; he studies Jim, and calibrates his words.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

You are making fine progress. Yes. But I see that our time is almost up. And remember, you must keep this all confidential. If you speak of these things - only to me - it will help you to sort through your thoughts. And that will speed your improvement. You will be back next week?

 

As Jim begins to shift from lying to sitting on the sofa Dr. Randolph's face visibly softens. Jim sees and returns Dr. Randolph's professional smile.

 

Jim gets his feet planted, rises and comes over to shake Dr. Randolph's hand, as Dr. Randolph also then rises from his seat.

 

JIM

Yes, Doctor Randolph. Thank you so much. You don't know what a relief it is to finally talk about these things. I'll schedule it with your secretary.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Goodbye then Jim.

 

JIM

Bye.

 

Jim straightens his jacket and tie, smoothing any wrinkles. He turns to walk away.

 

As Jim walks away Dr. Randolph drops his smile and once again is intently studying Jim with his piercing eyes.

 

We hear the office door opening with sounds of Jim exiting.

 

DR. RANDOLPH'S SECRETARY (O.S.)

Commander Wellview. And how was your session with Dr. Randolph today?

 

JIM (O.S.)

(sounds distracted)

Oh, it was good, thank you.

 

Dr. Randolph watches intently as we now hear the door close on the continuing conversation.

 

DR. RANDOLPH'S SECRETARY (O.S.)

Same time next week?

 

He keeps watching the closed door as he moves over to behind his desk. After a pause, studying the door, he lifts his phone and dials a number.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

(into phone, dead serious tone)

Yes, I have some new things to report. (pause for other side's response) My session with him just ended. It is quite interesting. ...Quite interesting.

 

EXT. CAPE CANAVERAL LAUNCH PAD - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

 

A Saturn V Rocket (Apollo 18) is on the launch pad. Gases vent from its stages. The immense launch tower stands astride its full height.

 

The mood is active - ready - all systems go! We are close to lift-off.

 

(Note that Cape Canaveral was renamed "Cape Kennedy" in 1963, but then back to "Cape Canaveral" in 1973.)

 

A CAPE CANAVERAL VOICE (into a mike, scratchy sounding, and O.S. the whole time) is mentioning a few numbers and status indicators.

 

MONTAGE

 

1) A different view of the side of the rocket with its launch tower and controlled steam venting out.

 

2) A shot of the waiting crowd, early 1970s fashion, out in the hot sun on grandstands: sunglasses, hats, binoculars, etc. They all look steadily in the same direction, i.e. towards the launch pad.

 

3) A big control room with long rows of men in white shirts and narrow ties sitting in front of b & w displays and lots of panels with switches. Activity, like a supervisor leaning in over one of them, showing something on his clipboard, and a woman with papers walking by in the background.

 

4) Back to showing the rocket. The countdown commences.

 

CAPE CANAVERAL VOICE

All systems are a go for lift-off. I repeat, all systems operational. Entering the final Saturn V rocket countdown.

(beat, some static)

T-minus 20 seconds, and counting.

 

INT. 1970S AMERICAN LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

 

An early 1970s American family at home in their living room, huddled around their old TV set, watching intently.

 

We hear the Cape Canaveral Voice begin the countdown through their TV, then as the seconds tick down the scene (visually) switches back to the (stock footage) rocket (with O.S. of the Cape Canaveral Voice).

 

As the countdown reaches its conclusion below all sounds get louder and distorted due to volume.

 

CAPE CANAVERAL VOICE

T minus 10 ... 9... 8... 7... engines igniting ... 5 ... 4...

 

EXT. CAPE CANAVERAL - STOCK FOOTAGE - CONTINUOUS

 

Saturn V Rocket with launch tower.

 

3... 2... 1 - Lift off!! Apollo 18! We have lift-off! Apollo 18 is now on its way!

 

LOUD ROARING accompanies the massive rocket's lift-off.

 

MONTAGE

 

1) Engines below the Saturn V burn white hot. The giant vessel begins to rise. The Cape Canaveral Voice says something excitedly, but we can't make it out.

 

2) Sets of launch tower connections successively throw themselves out of the way as the rocket begins to ROAR upwards.

 

3) Static shot from the side, close range, showing the rising mammoth. We watch as it passes by our view, the flag, USA, the stages, etc. Steam vents. Dry ice flakes fly off.

 

4) Another shot of the same crowd, looking more upward now, a few are pointing; all intently watching the view off in the distance as the rocket rises.

 

5) The big control room with banks of monitors and switches. All eyes intently watching their respective panels. We hear the Cape Canaveral Voice issue a brief continued positive status on the rocket.

 

6) Powerfully the mammoth rises in the blue sky.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - DAY - CONTINUOUS

 

Three men (the three Apollo 18 astronauts) are sitting at a long table, each with a script open in front of him.

 

Each man holds a phone to his ear, listening intently while studying his respective script. White shirts and narrow ties on.

 

Our view is from one side of the table (making the third astronaut not that visible at this time).

 

Closest to our view is FRANK Griffin (Command Module Pilot). Wavy short hair. He is young, quick thinking, medium height with a good build; a go-getter who likes the women, and he's an expert pilot.

 

In the center is a young Jim Wellview (Mission Commander). Athletic looking with a crew cut, sound judgment, stable character.

 

We don't see the third astronaut (furthest from us) well at anytime during this scene. He is JOHN SMITH (Lunar Module Pilot). He is short, stocky, balding, black hair combed straight back, almost greasy looking hair, with pronounced Slavic facial features.

 

The TV to the side shows the rocket going up into the blue sky. The volume is turned off.

 

A nervous but confident DIRECTOR hovers nearby in front of them, closely holding his own copy of the same script. A few stagehands also nearby.

 

DIRECTOR

(quietly, to Jim)

Okay, get ready now.

 

Jim perceptibly straightens up in his seat, getting his phone mouthpiece closer to his mouth.

 

When HOUSTON CONTROL speaks (below, all O.S., somewhat scratchy with added static) we hear it loudly, evidently through different speakers than the TV's.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

This is Houston Control. Thank you, Cape Canaveral. We are tracking the trajectory.

(beat)

Normal Saturn V lift-off completed. We register all systems functional at this time, over.

 

CAPE CANAVERAL VOICE

Roger, Houston. Apollo 18 is now 52 seconds into flight path. Turning over control of Apollo 18 mission. Cape Canaveral out.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

Roger, Cape Canaveral. Everything's looking good.

(beat)

60 seconds into liftoff. Rocket is now 2 miles in altitude, speed of 2,445 feet per second, and 1 mile down range.

 

JIM studies his script, at the ready.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

Commander Wellview, all readings are normal. Repeat - all status indicators appear normal at this time, over.

 

JIM

(into phone loudly)

Roger Houston. A-okay up here, just very, very loud, over.

 

EXT. CAPE CANAVERAL GRANDSTAND CROWD - CONTINUOUS

 

MONTAGE

 

1) Another shot of the crowd in the Florida grandstands. They're now straining to see the disappearing rocket going upwards. A couple of folks give up, talk and begin to collect their things. Others point high in the sky, shading their eyes from the sun, trying to see the now distant object.

 

2) Florida everglades with many squawking birds aloft. The distant loud rocket gets quieter. Some birds now landing.

 

3) A side shot of the rocket now small and blurry, high in the sky from a long distance lens, the main stage still burning.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

Stagehands quietly perform their tasks nearby. All action is focused on the three men sitting at the table, while watching the silent TVs that show the rocket climbing skyward.

 

There are several standing lights, and cables are going across the floor.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

We are 30 seconds from igniting the second stage. Commander Wellview, is your crew ready, over?

 

The DIRECTOR nods to himself. The 3 men are on the phones, as they all watch the TV and follow along in their scripts.

 

A short distance away, separated from the three men is a sound effects man on the line, adding a roaring crackling sound to the call.

 

The Director makes eye contact with Jim. Jim nods to him then follows his script.

 

Another man is sitting separately, in front of a big old audio board watching all the volume levels. He also has a script.

 

JIM

Roger, Houston. Awaiting ...

 

INT. 1970S AMERICAN LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

 

The same early 1970s American family seen briefly before - crowded around their television. They see the distant small rocket, blurry, still rising high in the blue sky on their TV set. We hear Jim's static-filled voice along with loud rumbling through their TV's speakers.

 

JIM (CONT'D)

... your go signal to ignite the second stage. First stage fuel almost fully expended, over.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

Status indicators show steady progress. Hold till my mark.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - BREAK AREA - LATER

 

The three astronauts, director, sound man, sound effects man, a few women and other stage crew, all clink beer bottles and laugh. They drink.

 

DIRECTOR

Beautiful liftoff. Gentlemen you performed superbly!

 

They all drink to this. Sandwiches and snacks are on the table. A few folks have paper plates in hand. All hold a beer or other beverage in hand.

 

PAMELA, the Assistant Director, strides in from the background holding some important piece of paper that she hands to the Director.

 

PAMELA

(addressing the group)

The rocket casings should be landing far out to sea, away from all ships since the Coast Guard cleared that entire swath of water, any time now. They'll hit and sink all the way down to the bottom of the ocean.

 

Frank lifts his beer bottle in response. He holds a beer in one hand and a pretty young lady under his other arm. She has one hand placed squarely on his chest.

 

FRANK

As the ship's Command Module Pilot, a toast ... to the best Apollo mission to the moon yet!

 

They all cheer and share the toast, drinking to that.

 

Jim drinks too, but we see that he looks a little nervous.

 

They're all laughing. He joins them smiling broadly, but holds back a little.

 

We slowly zoom in on Jim. They clink beer bottles and drink some more. Raised bottles, laughing with them, but he looks nervous.

 

INT. DARK BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

It is dark. Jim is in bed facing upwards, rigid, eyes shut, he holds the covers tightly.

 

His eyes bolt OPEN; he stares straight up as he wakes.

 

He can still hear the laughter. A distant voice makes another toast, along with background laughter and cheers.

 

DISTANT HAPPY VOICE

And to Commander Jim Wellview, as he valiantly leads his fine Apollo 18 crew into space!

 

Jim looks ashamed in the darkness.

 

We hear more laughter and cheers as the volume fades.

 

His eyes look down, the voices, clinking beer bottles, and laughter fade off. He looks so ashamed and slowly shakes his head "no" in silence.

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Jim is lying comfortably on Dr. Randolph's sofa. Dr. Randolph studies him from the high back chair and takes notes.

 

JIM

We proceeded on course. Each day we had to "call back to Earth" and be interviewed by the three big networks. And there were the calls home, of course. Our photos were all over in the newspapers and news magazines during that time.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

What was that like? -Calling "back to Earth" as you say, for the interviews?

 

JIM

Well we had to get everything ready. They had very thin fishing line so we could have things float in front of us, with a crewman from the set moving the object back and forth from above. Whatever was called for in the script. They'd get it all ready for the scene beforehand. Of course we had makeup and we'd climb into our spacesuits too. I remember those interviews each day ... they were ....

 

DISSOLVE TO HIS MEMORY OF:

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - DAY

 

Newscaster VICTOR Russell is a handsome man in a nice suit, narrow tie, seated firmly behind his news desk with a few papers on it.

 

Big lights are above, and we see a full size 1970s TV studio camera trained on him.

 

A big TV monitor is above and behind him facing mostly forward towards us.

 

VICTOR

(to TV camera, confident)

We are now entering Day 3 of the Apollo 18 mission. So far so good. NASA reports that the crew remains healthy and in good spirits as they fly to the moon at speeds - truly faster than a speeding bullet. Let's check in with the crew.

 

The big TV behind him turns on and shows a b&w shot of the inside of the space capsule. The 3 men are crowded in there in their space suits but with helmets off, smiling and waiting.

 

Victor turns to look in the direction of the big TV.

 

VICTOR

Jim, hello again! How are you and your crew doing?

 

INT. EARLY 1970S KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

 

A woman working in the kitchen with her TV on, peeling vegetables while watching the interview.

 

INT. APOLLO 18 CAPSULE - CONTINUOUS

 

Seeing them through her TV, and soon a small visible object is floating by in front of them in the capsule.

 

JIM

Just great, Mr. Russell. We- ...

 

VICTOR

Wait, hold on, Jim. We're getting to know each other pretty well by now. I think you can call me Victor from now on.

 

JIM

Of course, Mr.- err... Victor. I was going to say - that we couldn't have asked for better weather for our trip up here.

 

The three astronauts and Victor share a laugh at this.

 

Frank suddenly sees and reaches out to grasp the floating object, pulling it in.

 

FRANK

So that's where that went!

 

JIM

Frank, you found it! Great!

 

They all laugh again at this. Frank holds it up for the audience back home to see.

 

JIM

Seriously though, we benefit from the thousands, no tens of thousands of workers all across the US who have made this flight possible. The fact that we're still safe is due to all of the engineers paying attention to such a myriad of details all along the way.

 

VICTOR

That's great, Jim.

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

Now we see that Victor has a big script before him (not visible to the home viewers), open and being referenced as he speaks.

 

VICTOR

(visibly reading)

I think I can speak for our entire television viewing audience when I tell you that we're all praying for you up there, Jim.

 

Jim sounds a little hesitant when responding.

 

JIM (O.S.)

Thank you Victor. We ... we appreciate that.

 

Victor turns back to face the main TV studio camera, i.e. the folks back home.

 

VICTOR

And now let's hear from the third member of the crew, Astronaut John Smith. He is the crew's Lunar Module Pilot.

 

On the big TV monitor is a file photo of John Smith.

 

Then our view CUTS TO show the full photo. It says "File Photo" in the corner.

 

In the photo John Smith stares at the camera, with no smile, in an outfit and a hat that looks very ... Eastern European, if not outright Russian. We can't make out the background, maybe an old port shipyard on the Black Sea or something.

 

INT. APOLLO 18 CAPSULE - CONTINUOUS

 

Victor continues speaking, but now our view switches to looking full screen in the space capsule (b&w, of course) at the three men.

 

VICTOR (O.S.)

We have not heard much from him yet during this trip. But he is an essential member of the crew. Mr. John Smith, tell us your feelings about the trip so far.

 

We now learn that John Smith has a heavy Russian accent, that no one on screen seems to notice.

 

(John Smith is not a threat to the mission, nothing sinister, more of a curiosity.)

 

JOHN SMITH

(heavy Russian accent)

Yes, I am much happy to be here.

 

VICTOR (O.S.)

Good, and how do you feel that the flight is going so far?

 

JOHN SMITH

Good, good. I take many notes each day. Part of my duties.

 

VICTOR (O.S.)

(that wasn't the answer he was expecting)

Ah, yes. Oh. Well, that is good.

(beat)

For our folks at home, Mr. Smith is originally from Topeka, Kansas, isn't that right John?

 

JOHN SMITH

Oh yes, is true. I have pictures of me growing up there ...

 

John Smith reaches into a chest pocket and retrieves a short stack of old photos that he appears to keep handy for moments such as this.

 

JOHN SMITH

I can prove it with photos. I have dog and bicycle, just like typical American boy, you know. This is me with dog.

 

Jim and Frank nod and smile, and look like they've seen these photos many times before.

 

FRANK GRIFFIN

(pointing at one photo)

Show them this one John. That's my favorite. Mr. Russell, I mean Victor, sorry, look at this!

 

INT. EARLY 1970S KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

 

The housewife watches her television while cooking. The photos appear interesting; nothing out of the ordinary.

 

John Smith holds up to the camera a photo that looks like it is a child with a balloon and cotton candy, standing beside a smiling clown, at a carnival of some sort.

 

JOHN SMITH

I am with clown here. In Topeka, Kansas. My home. I was regular boy. I have papers showing my good marks in school there. I can prove everythingk.

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

The home viewers are focused on the view of the capsule through the big TV monitor.

 

We see that Victor is looking up and down on the script, trying to figure out exactly where they are (the TV viewers don't see this, of course).

 

INT. APOLLO 18 CAPSULE - CONTINUOUS

 

Victor starts to try to regain control of the interview.

 

VICTOR (O.S.)

Yes, I - I see, I ....

 

JOHN SMITH

You know, Wictor, I think I like the big wheat fields in Kansas the most of the all ...

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

Victor is looking at the monitor. Angle shows his chest and up, with the desk out of view in this shot.

 

Victor is trying to not look startled or surprised as he regains control of the interview.

 

VICTOR

Well, thank you so much, ...John, ahh.

 

Victor turns to face the main TV studio camera again, becoming fully composed.

 

VICTOR

(recovering his stride)

Folks, again this is Astronaut John Smith that we've been talking with. The third member of the Apollo 18 crew, now on its way to the Moon. He is the Lunar Module Pilot of this mission.

(beat)

Gentlemen, we'll need to conclude this interview for now. ...

 

INT. EARLY 1970S KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

 

We see the housewife still watching the TV while she continues cooking. On her TV we see Victor's arm move something from below - from the desk swinging off to the side.

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

Without denting his smile or glancing away from the home viewers, Victor's arm quickly thrusts the big script off to the side, to an open-arms waiting assistant who is off camera.

 

The assistant quickly but carefully wraps arms around the coveted mass of papers and disappears into the darkness with it.

 

INT. EARLY 1970S KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS

 

She trusts Victor and his warm smile. She stirs while watching him on her television.

 

Without looking down, and his desk itself still not in view yet, Victor appears to be using both hands to straighten up something on the desk.

 

As Victor concludes, the camera angle moves back out to show his desk again, with only a few straightened out papers in front of him, just as when he started.

 

Victor appears relaxed and in control.

 

VICTOR (CONT'D)

It has been great speaking with you again. Thank you, John Smith, for showing us those photos from back home.

(beat)

And Jim, Frank, John, we'll be back again tomorrow to talk to all three of you again.

 

ALL 3 ASTRONAUTS (O.S.)

Goodbye everyone! See you tomorrow Victor! We miss you all! Dosvidonia!

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - DAY - CONTINUOUS

 

We are looking directly into the space capsule, b&w.

 

As our view opens, camera backs off, we realize that we are seeing the capsule shot through the small monitor on the back of a big studio film camera. A man with headset peers into this same small monitor, holding the camera steady.

 

Our angle opens up more, showing both that close up camera and the film studio's capsule mock-up. The 3 astronauts are huddled inside, all smiling.

 

The angle continues to widen, moving back.

 

Soon the Director comes into view, sitting in his chair directly in front of the open capsule mock-up, and he is watching them and following his script.

 

It is quiet for a moment.

 

We see other people all focused on the capsule.

 

A short distance away and to the side is an aide who's behind a big monitor. The aide waits, then suddenly looks up from it and gives a thumbs up to the director.

 

DIRECTOR

And - cut!

 

A cumulative exhale is felt on the set.

 

People start moving around.

 

There are lots of cables around and bright lights from all sides.

 

Men and women start turning off the big standing lights and moving the big cameras back.

 

After a moment the three astronauts begin to climb out of the capsule.

 

DIRECTOR

Fine job. You all did well. John, do you have to show all those old pictures!?

 

The director holds up the script to them and points at it harshly.

 

DIRECTOR

Just stick to this. No ad libbing!

(beat)

It's a good thing that Victor recovered that one (mumble, mumble...).

 

All three men emerge from the capsule and stand there in their space suits briefly, getting collected.

 

(Jim and Frank need to wear lifts or otherwise be visibly taller than John Smith in this shot.)

 

John Smith turns and gets ready to walk away. His thoughts have already moved away from them.

 

FRANK

(to John Smith)

I think we're having spaghetti tonight. You going to join us?

 

John Smith stops and begins to turn back around.

 

JIM

(Are) you having borscht again?

 

John Smith strides back over to them.

 

JOHN SMITH

(defensively)

And what is wrong with borscht? Is so good for you. It makes me the big strong man that I am today.

 

They don't really reply. John Smith glares for a moment then walks away.

 

Jim and Frank shrug and exchange harmless glances.

 

A female assistant comes over and talks to Jim and Frank about something coming up in the script.

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Dr. Randolph is writing a note as Jim speaks, below. Again, his piercing eyes, with a slightly curved smile. He goes back a page briefly, then forward in his notepad to continue.

 

JIM (O.S.)

But ... under no circumstances could we leave the large studio compound, of course.

(beat)

It was off in the desert somewhere. We had been driven there and no outsiders could see us at all. They kept us away from regular phones for the entire time.

(beat)

But it was good food. Current issues of magazines and fresh foods were brought in each day.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

And you were there for two weeks, right?

 

JIM

(pondering)

It was almost two weeks. 12 or 13 days, I think.

(beat)

The entire time of the mission - until it was time for the high altitude flight over the mid-Pacific that dropped us in the capsule, so the chutes could open and we'd splash into the ocean on the last day.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Did you ever learn the name of the director on the set? It sounds like he was in charge there. I mean, he must have been a very important man. I wonder if you ever spoke to him again afterwards or anything.

 

JIM

(trying to remember)

No, well - No. I guess I never did find that out. We all operated by first names or nicknames, for the TV crew. I guess I never thought to ask him his real name or anything. We socialized with them though. They were a little stand-offish, but friendly on the set.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

So did you ever see him again afterwards?

 

JIM

No, I'd never seen him or anyone else in the crew either before or since. I guess there was national security involved or something.

 

Dr. Randolph looks disappointed, leaning back. Frustrated, but trying not to show it.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

I see. Well, ...

(beat)

I would like for us to continue. Perhaps ... we should discuss another area in your memories for a few minutes. And of course, you are not discussing these things with anyone else at all, correct?

 

JIM

That's right, Doctor Randolph. Just like you told me.

 

Dr. Randolph's eyes remain piercing but he smiles broadly at this.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Very good. Very good. Well ...

 

Dr. Randolph begins to look somewhat bored as they transition. But it is a part of his job. He shuffles back a few pages in his notepad.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Continue to relax. So you told me a little before about what it was like after it was all over and NASA didn't need you any more.

 

Dr. Randolph looks bored now, but his voice remains friendly. He sits back preparing to listen, but not intently.

 

JIM

Yes, it was late in 1973 as I recall. They were done. It was all closed up. I got a pretty good severance check. But they didn't need me anymore. I could have done a desk job but I got out instead. So, I needed to figure out what I should do next; I needed to find a job. ....

 

DISSOLVE TO HIS MEMORY OF:

 

EXT. 1973 URBAN STREET - DAY

 

A warm sunny day. Sidewalk cafes, restaurants, people walking and milling around. A 5 & 10 cents store.

 

Jim is walking up the street. We see him from the side, and then we watch from behind. White shirt, narrow tie, in a full suit. He carries a small briefcase. A noticeably big (Nerd) watch is on his wrist.

 

Early 1970s fashion. Bellbottoms, beads, flowers in the hair, loud colors on most of the young people, miniskirts.

 

JIM (V.O.)

(from the sofa)

'73 was the height of the Hippie movement. There was still a lot of anger in the air over the Vietnam War, but people were supposed to be loving. Flower children, they sometimes called themselves. Counter culture. They talked about revolution, but they were mostly harmless.

 

Maybe there's a freckle faced teen in a white shirt and tie buying a magazine from a stand and hurrying, evidently taking it back to someone. But most of the young people we see here look like hippies.

 

At a particular cafe, seated at one table are two girls and one guy with coffee cups on the table. The guy strums something on the guitar for them.

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

And there were the miniskirts. I'm a widower, as I told you before. My wife, she died in that car accident that time, while I was still back in training. Anyway, I hadn't been with a woman for some time.

(beat)

And the fashion for young women back then was really short skirts. ...Long legs and really, really short skirts. It was tough for a guy (to survive) ... I'll tell ya.

 

Two cute girls pass by Jim; one in a very short miniskirt, the other in a short minidress. Both have purses hanging from their shoulders.

 

As he passes them he looks straight ahead, extremely nervous, trying hard not to look, and trying to pretend that he does not notice. He seems to be gripping his briefcase very tightly.

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

Anyway, I had decided to get out after the mission ended. I was going to meet an old friend at a coffee shop for some advice.

 

As he continues up the street passing people we see an open window above, across the street. Curtains open, blowing slightly in a breeze. It is dark inside.

 

We think we see a shadow pass by from one side to the other. It's probably nothing, but we notice it. Jim does not; he continues walking to the next sidewalk cafe.

 

GLENN Thompson is already sitting at the outdoor table waiting for Jim. A coffee cup is on the table. He's dressed casually and comfortably in slacks and an open brightly colored shirt.

 

Glenn sees Jim, and gets a big smile as he stands to greet him.

 

(During this whole conversation there are a few people in the background at tables, occasionally one or two persons passing by, either Hippies or others.)

 

GLENN

Jim, how the hell are ya!?

 

They shake hands heartily.

 

JIM

Glenn! Glenn Thompson! It is great to see you. What's it been, 2 (or) 3 years?

 

GLENN

 

Jim maneuvers into the chair and situates his briefcase on the ground beside him. While Glenn looks relaxed and sits back down, Jim checks his tie and adjusts his jacket before getting seated.

 

A waitress comes over.

 

WAITRESS

Coffee?

 

JIM

(to waitress)

Yes, sure.

 

Jim gets seated, sitting upright. Glenn leans back, relaxed.

 

 

JIM

(to Glenn)

So how are you and the wife? What are you doing these days?

 

GLENN

Everything. It has been great. My wife and I are enjoying life, let me tell you. We've traveled all over the country by plane, by train, taken a few cruises.

 

JIM

Well, you've only been out for a couple years now. How ... are you doing that?

 

GLENN

I'm doing public speaking engagements. You should do it too. I'll get invited to a golf tournament, for example. It's usually a week long altogether. Everything is on the house for my wife and me. The flights, the suite at a fine hotel, the meals. I join the pros on the course during practice rounds, tell a few jokes each night at dinner - it is a good life.

 

Jim's coffee arrives. But he does not notice as she sets it down. He looks nervous and leans forward.

 

The waitress moves to the next table.

 

JIM

Gee, that's great and all.

(quietly)

But don't you feel guilty sometimes?

 

GLENN

No, hell no.

(beat)

Look, it had to be somebody. We're the lucky ones. We got to play along. Look at me. This life is better than retirement, let me tell ya. Get out and live, Jim!

 

JIM

But I ... it seems ...

 

GLENN

(motioning to Jim's cup)

Have some coffee.

 

Jim looks surprised that it's there, but lifts it and takes a sip.

 

GLENN (CONT'D)

Take advantage of it. You signed the agreements. We both went through the whole mental health screening and testing. They certified us. But we can't talk about it.

(getting more intense)

There are some things that need to remain secret. Don't forget that.

 

Jim tries to look more relaxed.

 

JIM

Oh, no Glenn, I'm not thinking of anything like that. I don't want to talk about ... what really happened or anything like that.

 

Glenn looks nervous, concerned for his friend.

 

JIM (CONT'D)

Of course not. It's just that I sometimes wonder ... you know, if we all did the right thing, by ... going ... by pretending to go to...

 

Glenn leans in, his voice lowers.

 

GLENN

We were part of a much larger organization. They needed us. They went to the Air Force and the Navy and looked for some of the best pilots. They wanted men who were fit, quick on their feet, and ones ...

 

Glenn gestures, pointing across the table, right at Jim's chest.

 

GLENN (CONT'D)

... who've shown that they can keep national secrets! Relax, Jim.

 

JIM

Yeah, perhaps you're right. You seem to be doing well.

 

GLENN

Great, like I said. And hey, what's with the suit?

 

JIM

I'm going to need to find a job.

 

Glenn smiles slyly while shaking his head "No."

 

GLENN

Not in that suit you're not. I'm going to introduce you to my agent. You're going to change out of that stuffy suit. And tomorrow I'll take you downtown to introduce you to her.

 

Jim looks like he's trying to take it all in. He sips his coffee.

 

JIM

Her?

 

GLENN

Yup, and she's great, let me tell ya. She keeps her eyes and ears open all the time for me. And she can do the same for you. You won't need a suit. Well, maybe sometimes, for speaking to a business group or something. But you could talk in schools, to civic groups, go on trips like my wife and I do. The sky's the limit!

 

Glenn visibly pauses as he happens to notice a pretty, long-legged girl in a miniskirt pass by, then returns to the conversation.

 

Jim doesn't really notice this; he is thinking.

 

GLENN

For some groups you should go by "Commander Wellview." That's how they'll know you. But at the cocktail parties or however you decide to work it, go by "Jim." And most people won't recognize you out in public anyway.

 

JIM

They won't?

 

GLENN

Not unless you tell them. Think about it. Those images from the space capsule were all grainy and black and white, right?

 

JIM

Well, they haven't so far, recognized me.

(beat)

I guess with the helmet and -

(beat)

I figured back then that if they'd sent color images instead or with a clear picture ... and the folks back home wouldn't have believed it.

 

GLENN

Right. That's it. They'll recognize your name, or at least by your title. But you can pretty much be yourself. Then when you want to you introduce yourself, turn on the charm, and tell a couple jokes. That's what I do.

 

Glenn takes a drink of coffee and looks around briefly.

 

GLENN

Say, what about Frank and John? What are they doing now?

 

JIM

(still thinking)

Oh, ah, they both got out too. Frank's originally from New York, you know. He went back up there and ....

 

INT. SWANK N.Y. PARTY - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS

 

Lots of people. Laughing, champagne glasses, live music in the background.

 

A waiter with drinks on a tray held high carefully threads his way through.

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

... started going to parties, meeting lots of new people. Just last week I understand he met a particular woman. An heiress. Her father invented the left-handed coffee cup. She is evidently wealthy beyond belief.

 

Frank is meeting some rich heiress; making small talk; her eyes lock onto him; folks step aside and they soon go off together arm in arm.

 

EXT. 1973 URBAN STREET - SIDEWALK CAFE - CONTINUOUS

 

Glenn lifts up his coffee cup with his right hand as if toasting. Wait. Then he stops, switches to the left hand, now ready to toast this.

 

GLENN

The left-handed coffee cup, huh? I'll drink to that!

 

Glenn drinks heartily. Jim looks off, perhaps a little envious.

 

JIM

Yeah. And they're in love. I believe they're scheduled to get married in Monaco next week or something. But it's going to be a small ceremony. I'll see them when they come out here together in a month or two, he said.

(beat)

He sounded very happy over the phone. And I am happy for him. He's started a new life and everything.

 

GLENN

What about John Smith? You know, we were all in the space program together. But I never felt that I really got to know him that well.

(beat)

He would often sit there and loudly hum those old Tchaikovsky symphonies and not say too much it seemed like.

 

JIM

John is doing well.

 

GLENN

He sure did like his vodka!

 

JIM

All three of us went to the White House ...

 

INT. NIXON WHITE HOUSE - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE - CONTINUOUS

 

We see a happy President Nixon shaking hands with three men in suits who are facing completely away from us.

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

... right after the mission ended of course; met the President. They took all the photos of the three of us there with him. Then it seems like John left almost right away after that.

 

A photographer on the side takes a flash photo as Nixon makes small talk with the three men.

 

EXT. 1973 URBAN STREET - SIDEWALK CAFE - CONTINUOUS

 

The waitress stops by and refills their coffee cups, and then goes to the next table.

 

JIM (CONT'D)

He did some traveling, went overseas almost right away. And you know what? You know, I don't know where he found the time to study, but somehow he'd become proficient in Russian.

 

GLENN

Really? What! You're not serious?

 

JIM

Yes! Somehow or somewhere, on the side, he must have been studying....

 

EXT. MAY DAY PARADE, MOSCOW - STOCK FOOTAGE - CONTINUOUS

 

It looks cold but sunny. There is a line of men way up on Lenin's Tomb waving down.

 

MONTAGE

 

1) Red Square, with soldiers and missiles parading by.

 

2) The big onion dome church in the background.

 

3) Distance shot, but closer, we see the same small group of men waving from Lenin's Tomb.

 

4) Row after row of goose-stepping Russian soldiers.

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

... for at least a couple of years. He's really good at it. He speaks fluent Russian now! Who would've known?

 

GLENN (V.O.)

But ... (the) - that's amazing!

 

JIM (V.O.)

Frank and I sure were surprised!

 

Now we see a close up shot of the men on Lenin's Tomb.

 

Right in the very middle, between Brezhnev and Gromyko (all wearing the big coats and heavy Russian hats) is Astronaut John Smith. His chest (even with his coat on) is filled with medals.

 

He is completely comfortable, big relaxed smile, energetic. (He's home! And we ain't talkin' about Topeka, okay?)

 

Brezhnev reaches over and puts his non-waving arm around John Smith, drawing him closer.

 

John Smith looks right at the camera and smiles broadly at us.

 

GLENN (V.O.)

I sure wouldn't have guessed it. Hmm, maybe he took some foreign language extension course back in Topeka or something?

 

JIM (V.O.)

I don't know. But it seems like some of that Cold War rivalry may have calmed down. You know, the Russians have actually given him several medals over there and congratulated him on his Apollo mission to the Moon. Isn't that incredible? (He's) been on Russian TV several times now. Yeah. He's been interviewed on TV sitting right beside some of their cosmonauts too.

 

EXT. 1973 URBAN STREET - SIDEWALK CAFE - CONTINUOUS

 

They're both there, just amazed. Glenn seems to shake his head in disbelief. His eyes look off in the distance.

 

GLENN

Imagine that? The Russians giving medals like that to one of

(emphasizing)

our astronauts.

 

JIM

It's true. Anyway, I guess he is going to stay over there for a while. The last I heard he said that the folks back in Kansas can wait awhile till he gets around to seeing them again.

(beat)

How did he put it? ...

(he tries to imitate John's voice, with the Russian accent)

... "I will see them again when the overcoats they get issued in Tahiti! That's when I'll go there again!"

 

Glenn wants to re-assert himself in the conversation.

 

GLENN

Well now, that is good for John. And for Frank too. Man, that is great.

 

Jim visibly concurs.

 

GLENN (CONT'D)

Now back to you. Listen Jim. It is tough at first. But I know you. You're smart. Just keep your mouth shut about what happened. Look, we're friends. I'm going to give you a hand. You'll meet my agent, we'll get you a few gigs. And if you don't like it - walk away and try something else. It's as easy as that.

 

Glenn glances around and looks serious again.

 

His voice lowers, the camera moves in. Jim notices and comes closer, concentrating to be sure he hears this.

 

GLENN (CONT'D)

We're not the only ones, you know. There have been a few "programs."

(beat)

Umm, different than ours, but programs where ... they have to tell the person to keep quiet about it later. He can live a normal life, but he HAS TO drop out of sight. I've heard that sometimes they give the guy a new identity, and he moves to a different city. It depends on the program he was in.

 

Jim looks like he is not sure whether to believe this or not.

 

GLENN (CONT'D)

Jim, play along with them and you'll be just fine. This is important! National security and all. And don't worry about it, but they'll probably keep track of your movements, particularly at first. ...

 

Jim glances around at this, like he hadn't thought about it. He looks up at windows across the street briefly.

 

Then we again notice the same open window with curtains in the breeze that appears dark inside. -Did a shadow just suddenly move behind the curtain?

 

GLENN

It's nothing to worry about. They probably know that you and I were scheduled to meet today. Again, it's fine. They're just doing their jobs just like we did our jobs. You keep your nose clean and don't talk about things ... that you're not supposed to - and things will work out fine.

 

Glenn leans back again and encourages Jim to relax too. He gestures to the waitress for the check.

 

GLENN

And look at me! The training was tough. We went through Hell. We did our jobs. And now my wife and I are loving every minute of it. Take it easy. I'll help you get going.

 

When the waitress arrives with the check he pushes a $10 bill into her hand, waves her off in a friendly manner, and they begin to rise.

 

The waitress looks pleased with such a big tip.

 

GLENN

(to waitress)

Keep it. Thank you for the good service.

 

She picks up the two cups from the table. She begins to walk away.

 

GLENN

Jim, I'll call my agent and give you a call tonight. We'll meet again tomorrow. Relax, my friend. It's working out great for Frank and for John, right? Well then, we just need to help you get the ball rolling in a new direction. And remember, mum's the word! See ya tomorrow!

 

They part. Jim pauses a moment to look at the folks on the street.

 

A Hippie couple with flowers comes by arm in arm, smiling and offering him a flower.

 

HIPPIE GUY

Hey man, nice suit.

 

She hands him a flower with a smile. They then resume walking.

 

As they walk away, though recognizing that he's a square, the Hippie Guy adds one more thing.

 

HIPPIE GUY

Make love not war, man. Peace.

 

Jim holds the briefcase at his side in one hand and the flower in front of him in the other. He is thinking and looking at folks, and thinking some more.

 

INT. DIMLY LIT GOVT. MEETING ROOM - DAY

 

We can see that the walls have soundproofing on them. A secure environment. Clean but stark. Harsh lighting.

 

The ENTERTAINER sits in a straight back chair facing away from us.

 

There is a long table a short distance in front of him with three serious men in dark suits. Clean shaven, short hair, somber.

 

The lighting shines straight down. We can't really see their faces.

 

Papers are on the table, a few in front of each man.

 

The sole man in the chair before them (the Entertainer) looks like he's being grilled or something. He sits upright and he looks uncomfortable.

 

Is he wearing a cape? He has long wavy hair as we can see from the back. Very pronounced sideburns.

 

(And soon we'll see that he's wearing shiny black boots and (it appears) satin or silk bellbottoms.)

 

SUIT MAN #2

(sitting in the middle)

When you signed onto the program we told you what would be required.

 

Looking forward from straight behind (the Entertainer) the man in the chair, his head seems to go down a little in reaction to this.

 

Also during the dialogue below maybe we see a few brief shots to give us some clues, showing the boots, or the ruffled cuffs, and the shiny bellbottoms, manicured nails, heavy gold rings, etc.

 

SUIT MAN #3

(sitting to one side)

It was time to terminate your program. It had reached its conclusion.

(beat)

You knew that you'd have to disappear from view. We don't like to have to remind you. But you've got to ... you'll have to somehow ...

 

SUIT MAN #1

We're going to give you a new identity, of course.

 

Now we clearly see the long black sideburns.

 

A close shot of the Entertainer, slightly from behind him. We can't make out the face from this angle.

 

Long wavy hair, and he definitely has sizeable sideburns. He has a wide high collar and he's wearing dark sunglasses.

 

When he speaks he sounds like an experienced performer with perhaps a recognizable voice. We are not sure. But somehow he sounds familiar.

 

ENTERTAINER

Well I know I agreed to the program. But I ... I've got singing and a Hollywood career now ya see.

 

SUIT MAN #3

(interrupts)

We didn't expect you to be so successful. But sometimes that happens. And like we said -

 

SUIT MAN #2

You're going to have to drop completely out of view. Sorry. And it has to be now.

 

The Entertainer's head goes down. He looks deeply troubled yet resigned to his fate.

 

SUIT MAN #1

I've got your new passport here and some other identification. And for your program, well, you'll have a generous stipend for the rest of your life. But you can't let yourself be recognized.

 

On the table beside the papers is a passport and other identification.

 

They wait.

 

The Entertainer appears to look down and shakes his head slowly at this.

 

SUIT MAN #3

We want to work with you. But you'll need to play ball. That is the only option.

(beat)

Nothing gets discussed with anyone about anything that happened, ever. Not at all. You just disappear from view. You'll drop out of sight.

 

SUIT MAN #1

We're just doing our jobs. Sorry but this is national security we're talking about.

 

The three men stand up.

 

Suit Man #1 gathers up the passport and other pieces of identification into one hand.

 

Then the Entertainer rises to his feet, but (still from behind him) his head is somewhat down.

 

As he stands up - yes, he is wearing a long shiny cape of some sort.

 

A full view of his back side shows the boots and bellbottoms once more, his ruffled cuffs, and a high wide collar. And again those big sideburns.

 

SUIT MAN #2

You can move to and live almost anywhere you want. -Under your new ID.

 

SUIT MAN #1

Anywhere except Memphis. Stay away from there.

 

ENTERTAINER

(head darts up)

B(ut!...)

 

SUIT MAN #3

Not Memphis! Remember, ... you drop from view.

 

His head, in silence, goes back down.

 

INT. FOURTH GRADE CLASSROOM - DAY

 

MRS. MARGARET wears a frumpy outfit with horn-rimmed glasses.

 

She can switch from a big smile to a stern look at the drop of a dime.

 

A long blackboard fills the wall behind her. A few drawings of the Moon, rockets, and a space capsule are taped up. In large chalk letters it says, "Welcome Apollo 18 Commander Jim Wellview" on the blackboard.

 

Jim Wellview stands off to the side, near the room's front door, opposite Mrs. Margaret and her desk.

 

MRS. MARGARET

(to class)

Well, our guest speaker is here! Isn't that wonderful?

(to Jim)

We have been studying all about the Apollo missions to the Moon this week.

 

Jim nods in appreciation and takes a step towards the center of the room.

 

MRS. MARGARET

Commander Wellview is an astronaut! And he has come all the way here from Cape Kennedy, ... err, as it used to be, I mean, from Cape Canaveral to speak to our fourth grade class! Isn't that wonderful children?

 

Most of the kids smile. One looks out the window. A couple of them nod "yes."

 

MRS. MARGARET

Let me proudly introduce - Commander Jim Wellview!

 

She claps loudly, encouraging the kids to do the same, as she retreats back to sit at her desk during his talk.

 

The kids clap politely. Most smile. A couple of the boys already aren't so sure if they like this guy or not.

 

JIM

Thank you, Mrs. Margaret. I am so glad to be here.

(to the class)

Well hello, kids!

 

He pauses, and they meekly respond. Most kids smile. A couple of them say "Hello" back. They're unsure, but listening.

 

JIM

You know it is mighty fine to be here speaking to you today. Tonight I'll be talking to the chamber of commerce in town. But they suggested that I come and visit your class here today too. And I'm glad I did. I hope that you all study hard in school so you can get ahead in life later.

 

A set of scale model rockets are on the table in front of him. Each has a label in front of it (e.g. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, etc.). The towering Saturn V dwarfs them all.

 

JIM

I brought these scale models to show you NASA's rockets. All of the Apollo missions to the Moon used this big one, the Saturn V rocket. It is the biggest, tallest, and most powerful rocket ship ever built. And you can also see what they're working on now. In a few years they plan to launch a new rocket called the space shuttle. It is not as big, but...

 

Some kids peer intently, a few look confused, and a few are enthralled. A boy raises his hand. Jim looks surprised, but he pauses and lets him speak. The boy gets up and stands beside his desk.

 

FOURTH GRADE BOY

Did you really go to the moon, sir?

 

JIM

Yes, I did. On Apollo 18. You saw it on TV, didn't you? You know, we-....

 

FOURTH GRADE BOY

What was it like up there?

 

 

JIM

Well, I'll tell you. Go ahead and sit down now and ...

 

We see Mrs. Margaret who's been smiling at Jim, suddenly turn her head and drill a scowl right at the boy - who then sits down right away.

 

JIM

I was privileged to be an astronaut on one of the Apollo missions to the moon. How many of you watched us on TV?

 

Every hand goes up high.

 

Mrs. Margaret, sitting at her desk, beams proudly in the background. ...

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Dr. Randolph looks bored but he's listening. Jim is speaking, still lying on the sofa.

 

JIM

I tried the public speaking routine for ... a few, several months, I guess. I couldn't get comfortable doing it. I took some other jobs after that. Sales and things like that.

(beat)

But speaking before groups, with their smiles and hearty handshakes ... I couldn't keep -

 

Dr. Randolph perks up.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Several of the other former astronauts did that. Why do you think you had a problem with it?

 

JIM

They respected me. But -

(beat)

It was like I had two versions of what happened wrestling inside me: what I remembered, and what I was supposed to have remembered - in order to tell to the public. And which was real?

 

DR. RANDOLPH

And which one was real?

 

JIM

You're the doctor. You, the ... wh-what really happened was completely different from what was supposed to have happened!

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Some would say that we make the reality around us - by our attitude.

 

Jim contemplates this but in a way that seems to make him question whether he can fully trust Dr. Randolph.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Try not to worry too much about what others may think or how they perceive wh(at)...

 

JIM

But that's not what I'm talking about. I wasn't worried about others, but with ... for within myself. I've always thought that others can think what they want. But a man needs to -

 

Dr. Randolph realizes that he needs to get Jim calmed back down. He gestures this even though Jim can't really see it.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Stop. And please listen. Slow down. Stop.

(beat)

Now then, the crisis is truly there. It's within you, yes. I understand. I think you want for others to be able to trust you. Is this true?

 

JIM

Yes, of course.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Well then, let's suppose you had a situation where you had to lie to people - let's say - for their own good. For example, what if the building was on fire. Let's say it's a school. This is just an example.

 

Jim tries to go along with the idea.

 

DR. RANDOLPH (CONT'D)

But if one goes around yelling "Fire! Fire!" they - well you could start a panic, right? But if you realized the danger, and your goal is to get them out quickly and safely, then you could instead yell, "Free ice cream for the first ten kids to get outside onto the playground!" You could do that, isn't that right?

 

Jim tries, but now he just seems doubtful. He understands what the doctor is getting at. But he feels that it's different.

 

JIM

Doctor Randolph, I am not sure how that kind of situation relates to- ...

 

 

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Let us stop for a moment. Let me tell you a couple of things. I have been listening to you for five sessions now, for only five weeks.

(beat)

But for many years now ... For many, many years you have had all of these things bottled up inside of you. And now they are all tumbling out. It does not make sense to you. At least not yet! But they've been tormenting you and they've been left unresolved. But we can agree that other men in your same situation have resolved them, isn't that right?

 

Jim reluctantly nods. He is thinking. Yes, that's true.

 

JIM

Yes, that is right. Most seem content or happy.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

But you are not. There is turmoil instead.

(beat)

There is a technical term for this: cognitive dissonance. I won't bore you with the details but it has two parts: cognitive: in the mind. And dissonance: unresolved or in conflict. It is where there are two truths or two opinions within a person's mind and they contradict each other. The mind seeks to resolve it but can't. It is more complicated than this, but that is the general idea.

 

Jim is taking this in. But he looks tense, his face is wary, trying to believe but unsure.

 

Dr. Randolph stands and goes over to the far end of the sofa, motioning Jim to stay where he is. He pivots and then stands there above Jim's feet, in Jim's full view. He looks sympathetic.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Stay there for now, please. With each session we will need to get you more comfortable with yourself. To see who you are. We are working together on this. And we are still learning. As you speak, as you verbalize these things it will all become more clear. But it will take time. Is this understood?

 

JIM

Yes, doctor, I suppose I do.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Do you need some water or anything before we continue?

 

JIM

No, I'm fine.

 

Dr. Randolph acknowledges this and returns to his seat.

 

He leafs through his notes a little. Then he comes back forward in the notepad.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

You told me about the TV interviews when you were supposed to be on the way to the Moon, what you did each day.

(beat)

Now let's go back to that time. What happened when your mission was supposed to have reached the Moon?

 

Dr. Randolph gets his fancy pen ready to take careful notes. Now we're back to what he wants to talk about. He focuses on Jim.

 

JIM

It was going to be over 24 hours of intense time on camera. Some of it would be over the radio, using phones. But for John and me, supposedly leaving Frank aboard in the orbiting capsule, it was going to be difficult. All three of us knew this. We had separated the capsule from the lunar module.

 

EXT. APOLLO COMMAND MODULE - STOCK FOOTAGE - CONTINUOUS

 

Looking out from within the Command Module we see the Lunar Module separate and begin to move away. Down below the lunar surface is racing by. Stars out there, it is dark above.

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

The folks back home had just seen about 45 minutes of grainy b&w video of me piloting the craft down to the Moon's surface. We had landed there. All the networks covered it. We knew that then all the wire services carried that brief message, i.e. that we had safely touched down on the Moon.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

It is a busy set with an already tired TV crew and a frantic director quietly and intently flipping pages in the script....

 

Two live scenes are being filmed simultaneously.

 

The main director is in front of Jim and John who are inside the Lunar Module that sits in a very large sand box with craters all around it.

 

Through a small porthole we see (but don't hear) Jim reading something while speaking into a microphone.

 

 

 

 

JIM (V.O., CONT'D)

I was giving some mundane statistics and readouts back to Houston Control at the time. John sat quietly, but he had to be there too. Frank was probably 40 or 50 feet away as he was supposed to be orbiting high above us, of course.

 

In the distance, with its own lighting and cameras, is the capsule with Frank huddled inside, holding a small clipboard, and staying ready in case a live feed to him is needed again.

 

The Assistant Director, Pamela sits in front of him and the open capsule, open script in hand.

 

Everyone in the studio is completely focused on one or the other of the two live scenes.

 

When Houston Control speaks below it is over the radio, with appropriate static.

 

JIM

(voice from inside the capsule)

Roger Houston. Consumables now down to 93%. Engines still cooling, now within safe range, over.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

We copy. Apollo 18 safely touched down. Checklist completed. All systems stabilized and fully functional. You are instructed to get some rest for the next 2 hours and 20 minutes prior to your Moon walk, over.

 

JIM

Roger, Houston. John and I will try to shut our eyes and get a little rest. This is Apollo 18, Honesty Base, signing off.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL

Roger, Honesty Base signing off. Houston out.

 

We wait. A few people look up but remain at the ready.

 

The Director looks back to confirm visually with Pamela who is still over there to direct the live Command Module set.

 

And the man watching monitors (evidently showing the status of feeds to the networks) gives a thumbs up. They're offline.

 

DIRECTOR

And cut! Everyone!

 

Whew!! Everyone seems to exhale at this moment. They've passed another major hurdle. A couple of aides, perhaps one man and one woman elsewhere, begin clapping for a few moments. Folks look tired but satisfied so far.

 

A couple of people remove headsets.

 

DIRECTOR

(loudly)

We still have a long way to go but it is time to take a break. We will start to get ready again in 1 hour, 45 minutes. Take a break!

 

A couple of cameras get moved. Some of the big lights are being turned off.

 

Jim and John get the module door opened and climb out of the Lunar Module.

 

Frank is climbing out of the Capsule.

 

While these things are happening, there is a TV monitor on nearby. The volume is off but we see a network news anchor showing the viewers some kind of diagram of a trajectory with a dotted line behind it. There are two cut-outs, both the small capsule circling above following a dotted line, and then the lunar module following the dotted line from it down to the surface of the moon, it looks like. He seems to be explaining something about this to them.

 

Folks are milling around. A young aide has a tray with cups of water. Several folks are taking them.

 

The muted TV scene switches to a still b&w shot of the lunar module sitting on the Moon.

 

A title is then displayed over the bottom half of the screen, "Apollo 18 Has Safely Landed on the Lunar Surface."

 

A couple of persons are trying to ask the director questions. He waves them off.

 

DIRECTOR

I am sorry. I have someone in my office. You'll have to excuse me. You all have a break for 1 hour and 44 minutes. Take a break. Eat something. Drink something. No alcohol! But take a break now.

 

He sets things down and hurries off the set.

 

Frank has gone over to the other set holding a script and is talking to Jim about something.

 

John is there soberly watching their faces, holding a pen and little notepad. He makes a private note about something.

 

Then all three of them appear to be looking together at something coming up in the script.

 

The Director hustles over to an office area at the far side. It is situated so that most persons don't need to cross in front of there or even go near.

 

A big man is standing there looking forward with his arms crossed. He is dressed just like any regular aide, but he's bigger, and it's obvious he lifts weights. We get the idea that he may be a guard of some kind.

 

The Assistant Director, Pamela, is awaiting the Director.

 

Pamela stops him and speaks quietly.

 

 

 

PAMELA

Mr. Ness evidently got in about half an hour ago. He's got credentials. I don't know how he found out about this location. But he insists on seeing you. And he said you're friends, going way back.

 

DIRECTOR

Of course I'll speak to him. Ness is an old friend. I haven't got much time right now. But if it's that important, of course. You come on in too for a minute.

 

The big man continues to stand nearby, unmoved, arms crossed. He looks out into the studio at people there.

 

The Director, followed by Pamela head on in, now casual movements and all smiles.

 

INT. DIRECTOR'S OFFICE - DAY - CONTINUOUS

 

Inside the somewhat bare (on location) office is a desk with its chair, a couple of filing cabinets, lamps, etc. And there are two stools sitting in front of the desk.

 

On one stool is LOCH Ness, a tall reptilian creature with a long tail. He is all green in color and mostly smooth, with a rounded face and extended mouth, small teeth. He has big eyes and looks friendly.

 

He stands up as the Director and Pamela enter.

 

DIRECTOR

Loch! ... Loch, it is so good to see you again! This is my Assistant Director for this project, Pamela.

 

LOCH

(apologetic)

Thank you. Thank you. I am sorry that I came without notice. I - I didn't realize you'd be so busy today.

 

They grasp and shake hands heartily. Then Loch shakes Pamela's hand politely.

 

The Director waves off Loch's suggestion and moves around behind the desk to his seat.

 

Pamela goes to the side wall and stands there quietly.

 

Loch sits back down and looks at the Director.

 

DIRECTOR

Nonsense! I always have time for an old friend. Get you something to drink?

 

There is a card table set up to one side with several bottles of seltzer, booze, and ginger ale. It looks clean and also has napkins and a few clean, stacked glasses.

 

LOCH

No, I'm fine. I had a couple gallons of water on the flight over.

 

DIRECTOR

As you can see, we're real busy, what with the Moon landing and all. But it sure is good to see you. So, what's on your mind?

 

LOCH

(fidgety)

Many years ago ... you gave me my first job - I'll never forget it.

 

The Director is trying to read Loch. He decides to impart some confidence to him.

 

DIRECTOR

That was a long time ago, friend. But you have built up a pretty good career. And that takes talent, not luck.

(beat)

So how are things back in Scotland?

 

LOCH

Oh same old, same old. More boats these days than there used to be. It seems like I have to try to keep my head down a lot more than I used to.

 

DIRECTOR

But still. The rolling hills. Scotland, ah. It is a beautiful country. And you've gotten to travel regularly. The benefits of being a star, eh?

 

LOCH

Well, ah, yes. But it seems like I spend a lot of the time, when I can find other jobs anymore, just going to Japan and back. ...I've got resumes out. I've starred in many movies over there, but ...

 

Now the Director begins to get it. And Pamela follows his cue and nods. Loch needs some encouragement.

 

DIRECTOR

Loch, listen to me. It happens to every actor. I've seen them come and go. But not you. You're a survivor, Loch. You tough it out.

 

LOCH

I feel like I've been typecast, and now no one will look at me for other roles.

 

DIRECTOR

No, you're just in a slump, that's all. You c(ould)-...

 

LOCH

(almost rambling)

At least they do keep hiring me in Japan. That is good. And I like seafood. So that's not the problem.

 

DIRECTOR

Well what is it then? What can I do? Tell me, my friend.

 

LOCH

Every time for every movie - Makeup glues all those big sharp spinal scales going all the way down my back and tail; rows of them. They half cover my back. And they itch. I have to wear those fake teeth in my mouth too. Big sharp teeth that make my face look funny.

 

DIRECTOR

It's acting. It's all a part of acting. It is a part of being an actor. And you're one talented actor!

 

Loch continues, nonplussed so far.

 

LOCH

I have to wear them for hours on end and stomp all around on ... on models of small cities ... under my feet. By the end of the day my gums are just killing me! My jaw can get so sore! It gets repetitious. It's like that's all they want me for.

 

DIRECTOR

Loch, Loch, ... I know how you feel. Believe me I have talked to many, many actors over the years. Do you think, do you think Lon Chaney - how do you think Lon Chaney felt after being a wolfman all day long!? Do you know what he had to go through? Talk about makeup!

 

 

 

LOCH

Tell me the truth. Do you think ... do you think I've been typecast? Am I stuck in this now.

 

The Director is a little nervous; he's in denial.

 

DIRECTOR

I always get asked questions like that. An actor gets successful in the industry and the next thing you know he is worried that he's already been typecast. I wish I had a nickel -

 

LOCH

You're my friend. Tell me the honest truth. Really. ...Do you think that they've typecast me?

 

DIRECTOR

(to Pamela)

Pamela, thank you for coming in. ... but c-could you wait outside.

(beat)

Close the door behind you.

(beat, back to Loch)

As you mentioned, I gave you your first big break. That was many years ago, of course. Loch, I'll give it to you straight. ...

 

Our view has moved to just outside of his door as Pamela comes out.

 

The big man still stands there, not trying to look intimidating, but unmoved just the same, with his arms crossed.

 

She goes out and quietly closes the door while the conversation continues inside.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - LATER

 

John Smith is standing beside a small folding table with two folding chairs. He's in what looks like long underwear, that must be what is underneath his spacesuit.

 

Atop the table is a chessboard. The pieces are lined up in the starting position.

 

John (heavy Russian accent, as usual) is trying to get someone, anyone to stop and play a quick friendly game of chess with him.

 

A young man is coming by. John Smith accosts him.

 

JOHN SMITH

You. Stop to play chess with me. A friendly game.

 

The young man tries to be polite but he is not interested and moves on.

 

Soon a middle aged woman (PRETTY LADY) passes, 2 notebooks in her arms, like she's on her way somewhere.

 

JOHN SMITH

Pretty lady. You stop for minute and play good game of chess with me.

 

She hadn't noticed him until he said something. But she pauses for a moment and looks at the table that he's set up.

 

PRETTY LADY

Could I take a rain check? I'm busy ... I have to... Ah, maybe another time.

 

She's off, continuing on her way.

 

John Smith looks frustrated. He mumbles something under his breath.

 

JOHN SMITH

(out loud, to himself)

I have chessboard. Is setup. I am ready. Who will play?

 

Frank is also wearing the same type of long underwear. He comes near.

 

JOHN SMITH

Frank, we good friends. Help me relax. We play game of chess now.

 

FRANK

Naw, last time you beat the pants off me.

 

Frank looks down and points at himself in jest.

 

FRANK

Hey look, I still haven't got my pants back on.

(friendly, but leaving)

No thanks, not this time.

 

Frank continues on his way.

 

In the distance there are small groups of folks sitting around with cups, talking. No one seems interested.

 

John Smith mumbles, pulls a small tattered paperback book out of a pocket, turns the page forward and sits down on one side of the table.

 

He references the page, then moves a white piece out. He checks the book again, then moves a black piece. He checks, and moves another white piece. He studies the board, then looks at the book again.

 

EXT. MID-1980'S UPTOWN ARTERIAL - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

 

The arterial is four lanes wide with a center turn lane, circa 1985. Not so clean, but a busy street. Early afternoon, shortly after lunch.

 

On one side are several stores, like furniture and discount electronics. Maybe a secondhand store.

 

The other side has a non-descript used car lot with streamers, lights, or balloons. (No sign visible, yet.)

 

Parked and passing cars are all mid-1980s or older.

 

Several cars pass by, one turns across the arterial.

 

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

A tall van is parked on the store-side of the street, between a couple of cars. No windows in back but a couple of antennas on top. Maybe it says something like "Speedy Radio & TV Repair" with a logo below, "We're here so you can hear - the world!" ... or something better. Maybe the van is faded white, the lettering is peeling.

 

Directly across the street is a used car lot. Garish colors, streamers, balloons. All the cars have been parked to face outward towards the arterial.

 

There are big price numbers in the windshields. The main lot sign says "Looney Jim Wellview's Used Cars." A few people are in the lot; salesmen are helping customers.

 

We get another good outside shot of that tall van again.

 

A brief close shot of a small camera rotating on top of the van.

 

INT. INSIDE AGENT'S RADIO & TV VAN - CONTINUOUS

 

Inside the back of the van are two men.

 

AGENT #1, further back, is visibly older and in charge.

 

AGENT #2 is young and bright; both wear dark suits.

 

There are monitors and other electronic equipment on one side, they are both seated facing this wall of electronics.

 

AGENT #1 operates a joy stick which correlates to the view on the monitor he is watching.

 

We start on the car lot sign across the street, showing Jim's name. Then he pans down and out into the lot. One hand seems to control the zoom.

 

He then gets AGENT #2's attention as he starts to zoom in on Jim.

 

AGENT #1

There he is. He is with a customer.

 

Agent #1 turns up a volume knob. There are muted traffic noises as cars pass by, but we can make out the conversation from inside the van.

 

JIM

(visible on the monitor)

I wouldn't want to do that. I wouldn't sell a car to a customer unless I was sure that it was just right for him or her. That's my policy. You know, I may be "looney" just like the sign says, but we're the used car salesmen with a heart.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

Jim is smiling with assurance, the couple is not so sure but they're listening.

 

JIM

Take this car here. You said you don't have any children yet, right? It is an '82 (?Gremlin?). Only three years old. It has low miles. That's a nice interior, isn't it? And here's the big benefit - fuel economy. ....

 

INT. INSIDE AGENT'S RADIO & TV VAN - CONTINUOUS

 

Both men are still listening.

 

We notice a big reel-to-reel tape recorder taking in the conversation, as its meters follow the volume of Jim's voice.

 

The two agents both have headphones on now. Jim's voice is continuing without a break.

 

JIM (CONT'D)

...that is why you'd want to consider this vehicle. What is most important to you?

 

WOMAN OF THE COUPLE

Can it hold a lot of groceries?

 

JIM

Let me open up the back and show you!

 

On the monitor from within the van we see them go around to the back side of the car. Jim opens up the back.

 

Agent #1 pulls off his headphones but motions for Agent #2 to continue listening. Agent #1 lifts a hand mike and flips a couple of switches on the panel.

 

 

AGENT #1

(into mike)

Gary. Gary, come in.

(beat)

This is Bob. ... Gary, this is Bob, of "Speedy Radio and TV Repair," over.

 

GARY (O.S.)

Yes, Bob, this is Gary, over.

 

AGENT #1

Gary, so far nothing unusual. We're looking for any radios that may need repair, but haven't found anything yet. Following the routine maintenance schedule, over.

 

GARY (O.S.)

Okay. On the schedule for today ...

(beat)

Oh, I see. Okay.

(beat)

It looks like our repair business may continue to be slow, which is good. Also, per your instructions we did a check on that radio in New York to see if it needed any repairs. ...

 

 

 

INT. MANHATTAN SKYSCRAPER - CORNER OFFICE - DAY

 

A seasoned well-tailored Frank Griffin is seated behind a big desk wearing a great looking suit, jacket hung up, crisp shirt, bow tie and suspenders.

 

A small computer monitor sits on the corner of his desk (maybe amber letters on a black background).

 

A knock on the door. When it opens we see the name "Frank Griffin, V.P." on it.

 

A young man in a suit hustles in carrying a big green & white IBM print-out (with holes going down both sides).

 

The young man stands on the other side of Frank's desk, holding open the old wide IBM-type print-out.

 

They're both looking at some numbers on it.

 

GARY (V.O., CONT'D)

He married well. That was over a decade ago. And he seems to have parlayed that start into his own fortune. We have no evidence of any off frequency set leakage at this time.

 

Up on the wall is a framed photo of the three Apollo 18 astronauts standing in front of a space capsule.

 

Also up on the wall is a framed photo of Frank shaking Ronald Reagan's hand, and RWR's autograph on it.

 

Frank makes a note to himself. Then he nods and gives the young man instructions.

 

FRANK

(decisive)

I like it. It's going up. Go out there and buy 200,000 shares for my account. Do that first. Then tell the team to keep it quiet at first so they have a chance to get in. In 15 minutes start telling some of your best customers about this opportunity. Okay - go.

 

Frank turns back to the monitor and keyboard. It absorbs his focus.

 

Our view begins to slowly zoom out. We hear a buzz and then a woman's voice on the speaker in the office.

 

FRANK'S SECRETARY (O.S.)

Mr. Griffin, tomorrow is your anniversary. Did you want me to order the usual flowers?

 

Frank does not look up.

 

FRANK

(distracted sounding)

Oh, uh-huh.

 

FRANK'S SECRETARY (O.S.)

And dinner reservations? Your usual place?

 

FRANK

Oh ... sure. Ah, 8PM, if it's tomorrow night. ...

 

INT. INSIDE AGENT'S RADIO & TV VAN - CONTINUOUS

 

On the monitor we see Jim vigorously shaking hands with the couple, all smiles.

 

Passively the two agents watch.

 

All three turn towards the office, Jim gets between so he can wrap an arm around each of them to walk in.

 

But Jim pauses to throw the keys to a teen who's now standing there, wearing t-shirt and jeans.

 

JIM

Inside fully vacuumed and scented while we finish the paperwork. (You've got) 10 minutes.

 

The teen jumps into action with the keys in hand heading to the driver's side door.

 

Agent #1 looks bored. He still holds the mike, resting on his leg.

 

Agent #2 looks up, verifying the tape recorder's dials.

 

Agent #1 notices the scene on the monitor but then returns to the conversation in the mike.

 

AGENT #1

And what do we hear from way, way back East? The unit that we can only reach by ... short wave?

 

GARY (O.S.)

Yes - we checked that one too. That particular radio ... still seems to have never gotten back to Kansas, you could say.

(beat)

Their radio repairmen over there, our counterparts, on the other side - still just assure us that there's nothing to worry about, whenever we ask them.

 

 

 

AGENT #1

They're not too talkative, are they?

 

GARY (O.S.)

We check periodically as best we can. But we don't know too much directly.

(beat)

Last month he was featured briefly on one of their television interviews that we monitored. (It was) Some space program, all in Russian.

 

AGENT #1

Oh, okay. Well, I think we will continue to monitor here for a little while longer. Then we'll head back to the shop.

 

Agent #1 looks over and sees that Agent #2 is still watching the used car lot on the monitor. Okay, good.

 

Agent #1 lowers the mike and then remembers something and pulls the mike back up.

 

AGENT #1

One more thing. We had that malfunction in Seattle last month. Two repairmen were sent up there. By now I expect that radio to be fixed. When I get back in I want an update on this.

(beat)

Also, since I've got you on the line - last week we decided to run a routine check on that, ah, powerful transmitter unit that originally was manufactured down in Memphis. Have you learned anything yet?

 

GARY (O.S.)

Yes sir. Umm, yes Bob. And I have good news to report. The status is unchanged. We, periodically ... we still get in periodic "sightings" but he's been careful and nothing has actually ever been confirmed.

 

AGENT #1

Can you be more specific?

 

GARY (O.S.)

(choosing his words carefully)

As we are aware, there are still members of the public who occasionally -think- they've seen him. Some go to the media. But they have no proof. I understand that he, err, the former radio transmitter unit, has gotten a new home down in Las Vegas.

 

 

GARY (O.S., CONT'D)

For some reason when he's in Vegas no one seems to think that he stands out at all and he's not recognized. The reported sightings only seem to happen when he's in other cities. Otherwise nothing unusual to report concerning that unit.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

We see the van still parked. The small camera on top is panning to one side.

 

Traffic noises as cars pass by.

 

AGENT #1 (V.O.)

Okay. That's good. We'll stick around for a few more minutes. Probably be back to the shop in a couple hours.

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Jim is lying on the sofa. He looks agitated, sweat on his brow.

 

Dr. Randolph is in his usual chair.

 

JIM

(disturbed)

By then I had basically gone off the deep end. During the Lunar landing we called ourselves "Honesty Base." What a laugh. It wasn't funny though. Maybe I'd gone looney? Get it? Lunar; looney? Anyway, I guess if I could hide that - w-what couldn't I do? For 4 or 5 years I hadn't been sure what I wanted to do. But after I started selling the used cars in the late 70s ... it all seemed to click. ... A big smile. A big handshake. I could do it.

 

INT. LOOKING THROUGH A TV SCREEN - DAY

 

We see an old homemade 1980's car commercial. Jim is in front with his car lot behind him. Streamers are fluttering, and there are balloons in the air.

 

JIM

(on TV commercial)

It's me folks, lunar lander Jim Wellview again! And I must be just looney to sell these used cars so derned cheap!

 

A stuffed cuckoo bird on obvious strings floats by in front of him, "Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"

 

JIM

Ha! Look at this 1978 Chevy Impala; only 59,000 miles. You can take it home today for only $3900. Did I say $3900? But I'm looney!

 

He gives it a hard kick to the door.

 

JIM

Look, it's been damaged! Now I gotta drop the price - only $3695!

 

Walking over to the next car that's been readied for the commercial he opens the door and looks inside.

 

Or take this 1983 Ford Pinto - please! Only $2895 with tax.

 

He shuts the door and walks to the next car which is facing backwards. It is an old Honda AZ600 Coupe (1971-72), where the back window looks kind of like a big Scuba mask.

 

Jim quickly dons a black Scuba mask and continues. He leans down to put himself beside its big back "scuba" window.

 

JIM

We have the best used cars at the best prices anywhere! ...

 

He purposefully pauses to look over at the big black Scuba mask, from inside his small black one, then back at us and continues.

 

JIM

And we mean anywhere! Above water! Below water! Up on the Lunar surface! Or down here on Earth! Cause ...

 

TV commercial scene changes to show his sign, with the address and phone number below, and a giant American flag filling the screen in the background.

 

JIM (CONT'D)

... we're "Looney Jim Wellview's Used Cars"! At the corner of 58th and Washington. I'm Jim Wellview. And we're looney!

 

The same stuffed cuckoo bird floats by in front of him, "Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"

 

TV Commercial ends.

 

INT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - IN OFFICE - DAY

 

Jim is sitting at his desk in the back office. It looks cheap, with bright fluorescent lights above. The door is closed.

 

Jim cautiously holds a small clear glass with amber liquid. He throws it back, his throat briefly burns. Then he opens the bottom desk drawer and puts the glass in, closing it again.

 

There is a knock on the door.

 

He briefly reacts like he's got heartburn, but it may be from the drink.

 

JIM

(bellowing)

Yeah!

 

JERRY opens the door and strides across with a smile. He looks like ... a used car salesman.

 

Three large brandy glasses sit on the side table opposite Jim's desk. Each has a name below it: Jerry, Tanya & Jim.

 

There are several small lollipops in each. Jim and Tanya appear to have about 10-12 each. Jerry only has 4 in the bottom. But we don't really notice this at first.

 

Nearby are stacks of papers, contracts, and receipts, along with a desktop paper-tape calculator. 3 or 4 big filing cabinets are on the back wall.

 

Jerry has a small lollipop in hand and makes a point of showing Jim that he is dropping it into his brandy glass. The camera now shows the disparity between Jerry's mostly empty brandy glass and the other two.

 

Jim doesn't look up. He is scanning some document from a pile on his desk, pen in one hand.

 

JIM

Jerry, that's your only one in 2 or 3 days. Problems at home?

 

JERRY

No Jim, it'll pick up. I'll be back in stride again.

 

Outside of Jim's inner door is the main office.

 

It has three desks, one of them is completely empty.

 

The other two (for Jerry and Tanya) have various papers and contracts, along with a phone and a paper-tape desk calculator on each. Also in the room is a long break table with a few chairs and a big bowl of lollipops on it.

 

Jerry looks nervously over at Jim as he walks by. We can tell that he didn't get the reaction he had wanted.

 

He walks back out to the front office. Jim scans and signs something, then he looks out the window and sees TANYA walking up to greet a customer, a middle aged man (Accountant-type; RANDALL) who's perusing in the lot.

 

Tanya is about 35, attractive, lots of hair, with noticeable cleavage. She is one who can turn on the charm when she wants to.

 

Jim checks something on the computer. Then he looks back out the window and sees a young couple coming onto the lot. He then looks out his door and notices that Jerry has not seen them yet.

 

Jim glances over at the three brandy glasses, and gets up quietly to move to the door before Jerry even sees anything. (It has become a kind of game to him.)

 

Jim exits his office, goes by Jerry without saying a word and hits the door to go out into the lot.

 

Jerry looks up and quickly scans the lot. A couple is looking in a car's window.

 

Too late! Jim is already on his way there. Jerry stands up and looks hard all around the lot. He then sees Tanya with a customer too, but there is no one else out there.

 

Now, still from inside the office area, we see Jim reach the folks, a big smile, a big handshake, and he starts talking to them.

 

JERRY

(to himself)

Damn!

 

He decides to get up and go outside, just to be there.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - WITH TANYA - CONTINUOUS

 

Tanya is eyeing Randall. They stand beside the open door of a used, drab sub-compact. He looks inside. He is pondering.

 

TANYA

You are so right, Randall. It is so smart of you to want a car with good fuel economy. Say, are you married or single?

 

RANDALL

(nervously)

Oh, er, I'm divorced.

 

Her eyelashes flutter a little.

 

TANYA

Take a look inside. An AM radio is built right in.

(beat)

If I may ask, are you seeing anyone?

 

RANDALL

Oh, ah, no. But I ... well, there was this one girl, I mean woman, at the office I mean, and I meant to ask her out, but ...

 

TANYA

Well, Randall ...

 

Gee, her voice seems to have gotten a little more sultry. Maybe it's my imagination, but she also seems to be leaning forward a little more now...

 

TANYA (CONT'D)

... I know that if a man were trying to impress a, ah defenseless girl like me - he'd probably want to look at a muscle car, for instance. But that is completely up to you, of course.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - WITH JIM - CONTINUOUS

 

Jim is looking on, studying. The young couple is scrutinizing a medium-sized used car.

 

JIM

Oh, you think you like this one, darn! You see I was thinking of helping my nephew get this one. But I'd have to charge him more than the ridiculously low price on the windshield, of course. I didn't know that a smart young couple like yourselves with a good eye would come along.

 

He laughs and smiles. The couple seems to like the car a little more now.

 

JIM

But you were here first, right? Darn. But, that's the way it goes.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - WITH TANYA - CONTINUOUS

 

They're sitting comfortably in a late 1970s Trans Am with ornate little fuzz balls hanging down in the front and back windows.

 

Tanya wriggles and giggles in the passenger seat.

 

Randall seems to notice this, looks at the dash, takes hold of the steering wheel, and he's liking the car more all the time.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - WITH JERRY - CONTINUOUS

 

Jerry stands just outside the office door, almost frantically scanning the lot - nothing. He waits.

 

EXT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - WITH JIM - CONTINUOUS

 

The couple is sitting in the car. They look happy. The dash and the seats are so smooth.

 

Jim leans in from the outside. He is leveling with them.

 

JIM

It's actually their problem that they hate me so much. You know, just last week one of the other car dealers called me at home one night. He was crying. It is true. Sobbing his eyes out! What could I say to him? You see, once a customer sees how low my prices are and our quality guarantee they keep coming back. What can I say?

 

INT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - IN OFFICE - LATER

 

We're back in Jim's office. The couple looks so happy. All three are seated.

 

Jim has lots of fine-print paperwork. They're signing and signing.

 

Jim checks each line real quick, tears off and folds the back copies of each together into a pouch and hands it to them with the keys and a big smile.

 

They stand, shake hands, thank him, and turn to leave.

 

Over at Tanya's desk, she and Randall are doing the same paperwork procedure.

 

TANYA

Randall - may I call you, Randy? And we were talking about ... dinner tonight?

(beat)

Oh sign here, and here.

 

Pen in hand, Randall signs, and signs, and initials.

 

RANDALL

Oh, ah sure Tanya.

 

Randall seems to giggle a little. He's nervous.

 

Through the window we see that Jerry is milling around just outside the door. He opens the door for the couple coming out, smiling to them and wishing them good luck.

 

Then he looks in again towards Tanya's desk, worried.

 

RANDALL

So, could I, err, pick you up in the Trans Am about 7PM.

 

TANYA

(very friendly, then hesitant)

I don't see why not. Err, what kind of restaurant? Sign here too.

 

RANDALL

(while signing)

Well, do you like seafood, or Italian, or Chinese food?

 

TANYA

And finally here.

 

She does not reply until after he finishes signing. She brings all the papers together in front of her.

 

TANYA

Oh, I'm allergic to most seafood. My grandfather hated the Italians in World War II, and I can't speak Chinese or anything.

 

She is tearing off the back copies of paperwork, folding them together like Jim did and quickly handing the pouch and the keys to Randall. Randall looks a little stunned.

 

Tanya stands abruptly and holds her hand way out in front to give his hand a hard shake. Randall stands up.

 

TANYA

I'm sorry that it didn't work out for dinner tonight. But good luck with your new car!

 

Jerry is still right outside and quickly opens the door.

 

Tanya shakes his hand quickly.

 

Randall half turns - in a daze - half smile on his face.

 

Randall sees the door open and thinks he is maybe supposed to be heading that way. The pouch is in his hand.

 

JERRY

Thank you, sir. Do come again!

 

Randall shuffles out in the direction of his Trans Am.

 

Jerry comes back into the office.

 

Jim already has a small lollipop in his hand along with a vulture's smile, looking at Jerry.

 

Tanya now goes to the main break table and lifts her own lollipop out from the big common bowl there. They both smile and make sure that Jerry sees them holding them up.

 

As they both turn to go into Jim's office to deposit them in their respective brandy glasses Jerry admits he lost this round.

 

JERRY

You're both on a hot streak. Right. Gee whiz. Congratulations.

 

Jim and Tanya shake hands in congratulations to each other.

 

Then Tanya exits Jim's office and returns to her desk to get the new paperwork in order. Jim looks at his phone then picks up a couple of contracts and heads to the filing cabinets.

 

INT. INSIDE AGENT'S RADIO & TV VAN - CONTINUOUS

 

Agent #1 drops off his headphones and rubs his eyes.

 

On the TV monitor we are looking through the office windows as Jim and Tanya walk past inside.

 

Agent #2 holds a pen and notepad, and he continues watching the TV monitor.

 

AGENT #1

I think that's enough. I've seen enough of used car dealers in action for one day.

 

Agent #2 sets down his notepad.

 

AGENT #2

Shut it down, sir?

 

Agent #1 nods affirmative.

 

Agent #2 switches off the big reel-to-reel tape deck and then other pieces of equipment. Agent #1 also begins to turn things off.

 

AGENT #1

(half to himself)

We can put a man on the moon but you can't buy an honest used car.

 

INT. JIM WELLVIEW'S USED CAR LOT - IN OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

 

Jim slams the filing cabinet closed. Not angry; just out of habit. He scans out the windows - nothing. Then he looks out to check Jerry and Tanya.

 

Tanya is sitting, still getting paperwork in order.

 

Jerry is on his feet, hungry, peering out the windows for anything or anyone.

 

Jim smiles. That is the attitude he likes.

 

He quietly closes his office door.

 

Jim pauses there. He takes hold of his stomach, some pain.

 

He plops down in his chair.

 

He glances back out the window, then at the closed door.

 

In a moment he opens the lower desk drawer, pulls out a bottle of scotch, a clear glass, fills it from the bottle and downs the strong drink.

 

It satisfies for a moment, but he then holds his throat, which burns a little.

 

He fills the glass again, his eyes now look horrible, like he knows he's enslaved.

 

He picks up the glass. He thinks to look up at the clock.

 

We see a brief close up of the clock, only 1:45PM (i.e. pretty early for drinking like this).

 

Then we see him look at the drink. He decides to down it before he changes his mind. He grasps at his throat briefly.

 

Then he puts the bottle and glass away, glances at the door and holds the front of his stomach, there's pain. ...

 

In Jim's inner office the camera slowly zooms in on his eyes. We see perspiration.

 

His eyes - looking past us - communicate that he has lost his way. Shame. Internal conflict.

 

His eyes (possibly) remain visible in the background, as we fade to a suburban neighborhood on a sunny day.

 

EXT. EARLY 1960S SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY

 

It is sunny. We hear a friendly dog bark in the background. We hear a few birds in the trees too.

 

A man drives his shiny, early 1960s car into the driveway.

 

His wife (JIM'S MOTHER) and their dog come running out of the house. She wears an early 1960s conservative dress and an apron, holding a towel that she uses to dry her hands as she happily runs to the car.

 

The neighbors (already in the adjacent yard) also come over to meet the car, smiles all around.

 

JIM'S FATHER bounds out of the car. He's wearing a suit and hat, carrying a newspaper.

 

The wife comes up to hold his arm. The neighbors come close, all smiles.

 

Jim's Father opens the newspaper to show the headline.

 

The neighbor takes the paper from him and holds it open for us. The headline, "Local Boy Becomes Astronaut!", with a big photo of a young Jim Wellview.

 

His wife hugs and kisses him. They both look proud. All four of them admire the newspaper.

 

JIM'S FATHER

That's my boy, right there!

 

PARENTS' NEIGHBOR

We heard! We heard!

(beat)

Young Jim Wellview is entering the space program. Wow! Just a few summers ago, it seems like, he was out here in the street playing ball with the rest of the kids.

 

JIM'S MOTHER

And now ... now our son, Jim, is going to be an astronaut!

 

JIM'S FATHER

I tell you - hard work, integrity, and honesty! - they all pay off in the long run.

 

Jim's eyes in the background wince at the "honesty" remark.

 

The eyes continue - lost, alone, the shame at the betrayal of others. Another scene fades into view.

 

EXT. MID 1970S STREET PARADE - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

 

It is a big parade with folks lined up on both sides of the street.

 

There are waving girls on horses, a marching band is playing, and passing by in a open convertible is a beauty queen (long dress, white satin gloves, a tiara); she waves and smiles to folks on both sides.

 

EXT. MID 1970S STREET PARADE - DAY - CONTINUOUS

 

Jim's tormented eyes remain visible in the background.

 

Then the next convertible back has Jim sitting atop the back seat. His name is emblazoned on the car's sides.

 

Jim smiles and waves to folks on both sides. As he gets close the crowd erupts in applause. Some get to their feet.

 

A few signs are held up, "Jim Wellview: An American Hero" and "NASA's best!"

 

We overhear a little boy on his Dad's shoulders.

 

BOY ON DAD'S SHOULDERS

Dad, someday I wanna be ah aster-nott too!

 

Jim (in the car) glances that way. Jim's eyes (in the background) wince at hearing this.

 

People continue to wave at him even after he's gone past.

 

As the car goes away from us this scene begins to fade out.

 

But while the eyes had looked the same half-visible in the background - we did a transition to his current eyes, much older now - as he is lying on the doctor's sofa.

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Slowly zooming back now we still hear the cheers and band playing in the background, slowly fading out.

 

The eyes, the face - it is older. Zooming back, now the hair is graying, mouth slightly open. How did he get here?

 

He looks past us - feeling the shame and being lost, visible perspiration.

 

We begin to hear Doctor Randolph's voice fading in.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Jim! ... Jim!

 

A hand sets onto Jim's shoulder and gently shakes him.

 

Jim doesn't notice. He is not speaking, but his mouth moves while his eyes remain far away.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Commander Wellview. ... Here, ....

 

Jim begins to come out of it.

 

Our angle continues to open up.

 

Dr. Randolph is standing beside the sofa holding a cup of water. Dr. Randolph is reassuring. His hand gently shakes Jim's shoulder.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

It is okay. Jim, it is fine. Sit up for a moment, please. Here. Have some water.

 

Jim looks around. He turns to put his feet on the floor, sitting up.

 

While doing so he looks at the surroundings to confirm where he is.

 

His hair in back is sticking up. He senses this and gets his hand up there to smooth it back down.

 

He takes the cup from Dr. Randolph.

 

Dr. Randolph pauses, he studies Jim briefly, then goes back to his seat, on the way picking back up his notepad and pen from the corner of his desk.

 

Jim sips some water. They sit quietly for a moment.

 

Then Dr. Randolph wants to continue as soon as Jim finishes the water.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Let us leave that later area of your life for now.

(beat)

It is the earlier time period that we should come back to. Are you okay now?

 

Jim nods. He drinks the rest of the water and sets the cup on the end table at the head end of the sofa.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Relax. Lie down again. This is difficult, I know. But I think we are making a breakthrough today. Let us go a little further.

 

Jim allows Dr. Randolph to guide him. He turns and puts his feet back up, lying onto the sofa. He looks around again to confirm his surroundings.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

You are completely safe here. Okay now - Commander Wellview.

 

Dr. Randolph gets the notepad and pen at the ready. He is eager to continue.

 

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Commander Wellview, you and your lunar module pilot, John Smith, had landed on the Moon. The whole world knew about it. It was the summer of 1973.

(beat)

You had led your crew of Apollo 18 all the way to the Moon - and you knew that the whole world was watching. Relax and tell me about this. ... On television they were reporting that your third crewman, Frank Griffin was piloting the command module far overhead. And you w(ere)-...

 

JIM

(taking over the sentence)

Yes, we were there. It was hectic. We were ...(all)...

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - DAY

 

Aides are hustling to get into positions.

 

The Director holds his dog-eared script in hand, while pointing two persons to go a particular direction.

 

In the distance Pamela is getting similarly prepared.

 

Near her a cameraman gets his headset on and adjusts his big camera.

 

We see the scene. Bright lights and big cameras are at the ready.

 

It is almost time for the Moon walk.

 

A man with a clapboard stands in front of the lunar module, holding it open. The Director gets seated but leans forward, script in hand. A few folks are rushing around at the last moment.

 

Frank Griffin is about 40-50 feet away, in a separate scene, at the ready. He sits inside the command module.

 

The Assistant Director, Pamela, sits in front of him. And a second young man with a similar clapboard moves into position between them.

 

Then he and almost everyone else turn to look at the main Director from all across the two large sets.

 

It is getting quiet.

 

Suddenly we hear a loud CRASH! Someone rushing past in the background hit that particular stand - for one of the big moveable lights. We see it hit loudly and brightly flash and go out!

 

Everyone jumps and looks quickly. The Director jumps up and looks angry. His arms motion as he barks out commands.

 

DIRECTOR

(loudly, remaining in control)

What happened!? Forget it. Get up! Are you okay? Leave it there. Leave it!

 

He quickly glances up, looking around at each of the rest of the lights and at the set that it was aimed at. The remainder of the lights will have to do. He sits back down.

 

Immediately his view centers on the man who is watching TV feed monitors.

 

Everyone gets into position and stops; all is quiet. In a moment that man suddenly starts waving frantically ...

 

DIRECTOR

Lights! ... Cameras! ...

 

Both men holding their clapboards quickly rattle off something like, "Apollo 18, lunar surface, Moon walk, scene 44" (The other one says, "Apollo 18, orbiting the Moon, concurrent scene 44".)

 

The waving hand steadies, holding all 5 fingers extended. Then the first finger goes down.

 

The second finger goes down.

 

DIRECTOR

And ... Action!

 

The hand silently counts down the remaining 3 seconds.

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

We see Victor Russell, the Newscaster, at his desk with the big monitor to the side.

 

A professional smile. His TV studio cameras are rolling.

 

VICTOR

It is time now to return to the lunar module. Just 2 hours and 20 minutes ago ...

 

We see two NASA file photos side by side, both in spacesuits, showing a smiling Jim Wellview and also a very serious John Smith looking at us.

 

VICTOR (CONT'D)

Astronauts Wellview and Smith became the seventh NASA two-man crew to safely land on the surface of the Moon.

 

In the background a static-filled and slightly blurry black and white image of the lunar module comes into view. It is silent there momentarily.

 

VICTOR

All of America and the world is watching as they now prepare to make their Moon walk and perform important scientific experiments ... on the lunar surface.

 

INT. BLACK AMERICAN FAMILY LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

 

It's a crowded apartment with frayed furniture.

 

We see the lunar module filling their TV screen.

 

This is a black family. A father, an older daughter, and a younger son who is about 6 years old.

 

The little boy holds a model Saturn V rocket in hand. He does a mock liftoff.

 

There is also a grandfather, in a recliner back in the corner.

 

SIX-YEAR-OLD BLACK BOY

5 .. 4 .. 3 .. 2 .. 1 - liftoff!

 

He makes rocket sounds as he lifts it upwards and starts to slowly fly it around the room.

 

Not much is happening on TV. Victor is talking about something.

 

A few other space-type toys are on the floor.

 

BLACK GRANDFATHER

Look at that. -Got his Saturn 5 rocket. -Thinks he's gonna be an astronaut!

 

BLACK FATHER

Well now, maybe he will be someday.

 

The Mother comes in from the kitchen. She waves a carrot while talking.

 

BLACK MOTHER

He can do whatever he wants.

(beat)

Our daughter and our son. When they grow up - I hope they can do whatever they each set their minds to.

 

There is an inflated ball sitting on top of the TV beside the rabbit-ears antenna. The boy soon heads that way with his rocket.

 

He lands the rocket atop the TV and then lifts up a small lunar module from nearby in one hand and sets it onto the top of the big ball with a big smile. He holds it there.

 

 

BLACK FATHER

That's my boy. A perfect landing! Now come over here and let's watch them on TV. They're going to walk on the Moon!

 

The boy sets the lunar module down by the inflated ball on the TV and runs over to sit with his Dad.

 

The boy scoots up onto his Father's lap. The Father thinks aloud, looking far off for a moment.

 

BLACK FATHER

(mostly to himself)

Hmm, ... walking on the Moon. ...Moon walking! Now that gives me an idea. ...W(hy) - I'll have to try that later ....

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

We see the big stage showing the lunar surface with the big lunar module in the middle and a dark starry night in the background.

 

All is still for the moment.

 

And now we begin to hear the communications. The voice of Houston Control is over the radio with appropriate static.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

Instruments show module successfully depressurized, over.

 

(There is a momentary time lapse between each communication back and forth. There are also intermittent "beep" sounds as part of the radio communications.)

 

Jim is still in the Lunar Module at this time, along with John Smith.

 

JIM (O.S.)

Roger, Houston. We are preparing to open the hatch. ... Releasing lock and preparing to open the hatch, over.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

Roger, Honesty Base. We read you loud and clear. You are cleared to exit the LEM, over.

 

From our angle we see light from inside as the module door begins to open.

 

Soon it appears to be fully open.

 

JIM (O.S.)

Preparing to exit.

 

VICTOR (O.S.)

(no static for his voice)

This is a critical moment. Wellview needs to get fully turned around inside the module and come out feet first.

(beat)

That way he will be able to go down the Lunar Module's ladder.

 

Our view within the large studio (as there are two scenes being filmed live simultaneously) switches to see a shot of Frank in his capsule in the distance.

 

Frank is leaning out so he can see the other set. He's in his spacesuit, but without the helmet on.

 

After a moment Pamela, script in hand, waves to get his attention.

 

Frank nods to her that he is ready.

 

A small speaker comes on, it is evidently audio only, and we hear Houston Control addressing him.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

Command module, come in, over.

 

A few seconds delay. Then Pamela cues him.

 

FRANK

Roger, Houston Control. I copy, over.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

You should have just completed your pass behind the Moon and are back in full radio contact, over.

 

FRANK

Roger, Houston. Read you loud and clear. All systems on orbiter remain functional. Nothing adverse to report, over.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

Roger, Command Module. It looks like you're right on time. Are you receiving the video signal of the crew down on the surface, over?

 

Frank returns to leaning out the capsule a little, to watch the action on the other set.

 

FRANK

Affirmative, Houston. They appear to be beginning their Moon walk, over.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

Affirmative, Command Module. Houston, out.

 

Brief delay before continuing.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S., CONT'D)

Commander Wellview, we just increased your worldwide television viewing audience by one, over.

 

JIM

Roger Houston. By the way, from down here we're mighty glad to hear that Frank is still up there.

 

VICTOR (O.S.)

(laughing)

I'll bet they are ...

 

INT. BLACK AMERICAN FAMILY LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

 

The boy is fidgeting a little. The rest of the family is watching their TV.

 

On their TV we see that Jim is high on the ladder, beginning to descend.

 

We hear the banter through their television.

 

VICTOR (O.S., CONT'D)

As we have heard in our daily Apollo 18 interviews Commander Wellview is always one to interject a little levity, while at the same time being the commander of this mission.

 

Jim continues to descend the ladder.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

All systems continue to display normal readings.

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

The news desk shows Victor Russell watching the monitor. He has the script open in front of him and is watching.

 

His demeanor is that he is just following the script.

 

INT. BLACK AMERICAN FAMILY LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

 

Jim gets to the bottom and puts his feet onto the surface.

 

We see the little boy, still in his father's lap, point at the TV screen as this happens.

 

Jim does not try to say anything at first. The image is fuzzy but he appears to be looking around.

 

JIM

We reach out to the heavens; man's new home.

 

Soon above him, another set of feet begins to emerge from the open hatch. Jim begins to look around.

 

JIM

It ... it isn't exactly what I expected it to look like. ... It sure is quiet and empty.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - CONTINUOUS

 

Jim is alone in front of the Lunar Module. We see John's legs and torso slowly coming into view.

 

Directly in front of Jim, standing all around the Director are several aides and much equipment.

 

Jim looks our way, back and forth, but without seeing us.

 

JIM

Craters as far as the eye can see ... desolate looking.

 

HOUSTON CONTROL (O.S.)

Roger, Honesty Base. Prepare to extend supplemental antenna, over.

 

JIM

Roger Houston. Will ready the extra antenna.

 

John Smith is most of the way down. He reaches the bottom of the ladder.

 

When he gets that first footstep onto the surface he says something (in Russian).

 

The phrase below is sub-titled: "Hi Everybody! Greetings to everyone back home! Hello there!"

 

JOHN SMITH

Привет! Приветствую всех кто дома! Хеллоу эврибади!

 

Then John Smith quickly follows with ... (in English, using his thick Russian accent) ...

 

 

JOHN SMITH

Comingk in peace, we represent all mankind!

 

INT. TV STUDIO NEWS DESK - CONTINUOUS

 

Victor is scanning up and down his script. What was that? He recovers quickly.

 

Victor looks up at the monitor while addressing all the viewers back home.

 

Knowing that the viewers cannot see his facial expression, he openly looks perturbed.

 

VICTOR

(sounding satisfied)

There you have it. They are now both on the lunar surface. We must have had a brief audio disruption.

(beat)

We missed something that Astronaut John Smith said there, just as he put his first foot onto the Moon's surface. ... We'll try to get a clarification later. But then he said, "Coming in peace, we represent all mankind."

(beat)

As they begin to collect rock samples and perform experiments we are going to take a short break. We hope you'll stay tuned.

 

On Victor's monitor we see Jim and John on the lunar surface, beginning to walk and hop around.

 

The "On The Air" light goes off in Victor's TV studio.

 

Victor angrily motions an aide to come over. He points at the place in the script.

 

VICTOR

Why did he say that?! It is not here! It should have been here if he was going to say anything else! ...

 

INT. LOOKING THROUGH A TV SCREEN - CONTINUOUS

 

An early 1970s TV commercial for Tang begins to play.

 

Kids coming running in the door with a baseball and mitts. They drop the baseball stuff and their hats just inside the door and run closer.

 

They run over to the kitchen counter. The TANG MOM has 4 glasses of Tang ready. She and the children all look happy.

 

TANG MOM

Oh kids, you're just in time. Let's have some Tang!

 

As the thirsty kids begin drinking, and Mom smiles, a deep man's voice begins speaking ...

 

DEEP MAN'S VOICE (V.O.)

Tang is the refreshing orange drink that your kids will love. And Tang has 100% of your daily Vitamin C in every glass full. Tang, with that great orange flavor, will have your kids wanting more!

(beat)

And Tang ... has gone into outer space and even to the Moon with our astronauts! ...

 

INT. ALIEN SPACE SHIP - CONTINUOUS

 

We are now continuing the same TV commercial, but evidently through a different television.

 

There is loud boisterous laughter filling the room!

 

Our view backs off from only seeing the futuristic-looking television.

 

We see some kind of silverish metallic room, maybe with big metal rivets going all down the walls (like from an old sci-fi movie).

 

It curves inwards towards the top, all around them.

 

There are three semi-egg-shaped chairs.

 

There is a big green alien with antennas and long fingers sitting in each of them, laughing, hooting, and hollering at the futuristic TV that they're watching with the Tang commercial playing.

 

One points at the TV.

 

Another looks like he's holding back tears because he is laughing so hard.

 

There is a round window to one side showing some desolate planet's surface (it may be the Moon or otherwise) out there.

 

On the TV we see a spoon with Tang being put into a glass of cold water and then it's being stirred.

 

DEEP MAN'S VOICE (V.O., CONT'D)

Just add 2 spoonfuls of orange Tang to a glass of cold water and stir. It's that easy!

(beat)

So delicious Tang is the choice of Moms everywhere! Get some today.

 

We see a close-up shot of a jar of Tang for a few seconds as the commercial comes to an end.

 

The aliens are still laughing their antennas off.

 

The scene on their alien TV switches back to Victor's news desk. He smiles professionally and confidently.

 

VICTOR

We're back, folks. And if you are just joining us, we are watching the historic Moon walk of Apollo 18. Astronauts Jim Wellview and John Smith just got out onto the surface and began their Moon walk only a few minutes ago.

 

While Victor is talking the three aliens get calmed back down.

 

One of them (SHIP ALIEN) reaches over to the side and lifts some kind of microphone, it looks like.

 

(No sub-titles needed here. It should be visual enough.)

 

He says something "alien" into the microphone, then waits.

 

He glances back over at the TV.

 

In a moment the view on their TV changes from Victor with his TV monitor on the side, to a full screen of the 2 astronauts bouncing around on the Moon collecting samples.

 

We hear some kind of alien voice reply from a speaker.

 

Then this alien (Ship Alien) speaks into the microphone again, sounding concerned.

 

There is an odd quizzical sounding reply from the other end.

 

Within the alien spaceship the other two aliens suddenly look up from the TV, and over at Ship Alien.

 

Ship Alien still holds the microphone, but looks back over at the other two aliens. They appear to be puzzled at what they just heard.

 

EXT. MOON'S SURFACE - DAY

 

(Recommend that this be shot on location.)

 

It is a desolate, cold, silent lunar surface with a few craters scattered around.

 

Two of these green aliens walk into our view here. They're both wearing appropriate space helmets and heavy boots. Each carries items described below.

 

We hear the Ship Alien's voice say something to them.

 

We hear all this as radio communication, with an appropriate level of some static in the background.

 

Then LUNAR ALIEN ONE (holding one item in each green hand) appears to reach up carefully, with item in hand, to touch near his ear and speak into a mike (evidently built into the helmet).

 

In one green hand Lunar Alien One holds some sort of trophy. In the other hand he cradles a plaque of some kind.

 

The second alien out here (LUNAR ALIEN TWO), has what looks like a folded map that's open.

 

He is holding the folded map open, but he's scanning back and forth above it, like he's looking out at the horizon.

 

Lunar Alien One talks into the mike again while looking all around.

 

Then the second one leans over, shaking his head "no" while speaking into his mike.

 

The verbal exchange sounds puzzled.

 

They both turn in different directions, look all around, study the map again, and one scratches his head (even though it is in a helmet).

 

We hear a Ship Alien's querying voice over their radio again.

 

They both look all around again, shrug and they look at the trophy, and hold up the plaque in front of them.

 

Perhaps it is a shiny metallic face with a dense black border.

 

When they hold it up we don't get too good of a look at it, but it appears to show the Moon dominating the top left side, with a smaller Planet Earth to the side behind it, and an arcing line connecting them. There is a big title in some alien font below that, followed by a paragraph of text and some big signatures below.

 

Lunar Alien One speaks into the radio again, his voice loud, sounding perplexed. He lifts his arms, shrugs his shoulders high and flops his arms down (still holding trophy and plaque).

 

They look at the map one more time and then each other, and then each turns away, looking all around them again in silence.

 

INT. BIG FILM STUDIO LOT - PAINTING AREA - CONTINUOUS

 

Two artists are painting the bottom of a full-size Apollo space capsule. The whole thing is up on end, the convex bottom faces us, but at a slight side angle so we can tell what this big object is.

 

The are spraying on black and brown colors all over the bottom, with detailed hand painting near the edges using various burnt orange, red, and yellowish colors wrapping up around from the bottom.

 

One middle-age WOMAN ARTIST with a younger man. Both look like artists.

 

In the background we think we hear some radio communication between Houston Control and the astronauts going on.

 

There is a big drop cloth below the capsule and a large stained canvas is hanging down, suspended from above and behind the capsule that envelopes this work area.

 

She takes a couple of steps backwards, i.e. towards us, surveying their work thus far.

 

WOMAN ARTIST

I think a little darker down in that area.

 

She points to a section that looks a little lighter than most of the bottom.

 

The young man complies and retrieves a different spray paint can, shaking it as he moves into position.

 

As we pull away (or from a different angle) for a few seconds, we see a TV set, volume off, showing the 2 astronauts bounding across the lunar surface and collecting samples, etc.

 

The painters continue their work.

 

 

EXT. PACIFIC OCEAN NAVY SHIPS - DAY - STOCK FOOTAGE

 

Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, bright and sunny.

 

Several Navy ships are on the sea, moving slowly, or holding their positions.

 

Some soft wind gusts with waving American flags up on masts.

 

Gray antennas, gray big guns, gray ship decks.

 

Sailors are professionally performing tasks on deck.

 

EXT. PACIFIC OCEAN NAVY SHIPS - DAY - CONTINUOUS

 

There are several high ranking Navy men with binoculars looking up in a particular direction. They're waiting.

 

On another ship there are a couple of other Navy men also looking up in the same direction.

 

On a particular large aircraft carrier is a delegation of civilian men and women in professional attire. They too, scattered amongst Navy officers, hold binoculars looking high into the sky.

 

There it is!

 

Suddenly a few Navy personnel point high above them, followed by a couple of civilians who then hand binoculars over to other persons so they can see too.

 

Two Navy helicopter pilots sitting in their cockpit hear something over their radio and look up. They both focus on about the same spot high above and one of them replies into the radio.

 

They begin flipping switches. A man on deck in front of them makes a rotating motion, and we see the giant rotors on top slowly begin to turn.

 

Three frogmen get situated with all their gear in back.

 

 

 

EXT. APOLLO CAPSULE DESCENT - STOCK FOOTAGE - CONTINUOUS

 

An Apollo space capsule is descending from a bright blue sky. The parachutes are fully extended and billowing.

 

EXT. PACIFIC OCEAN NAVY SHIPS - DAY - CONTINUOUS

 

We hear applause, cheers, yells, and laughter in the background.

 

MONTAGE

 

1) A smiling reporter on a Navy ship deck is buffeted by a breeze while talking to the camera and pointing off behind him.

 

2) An Apollo space capsule splashes into the ocean amidst swells. Its chutes follow it, immediately deflating, and they fall all around it onto the dark blue water. It settles and begins to bob with the ocean swells.

 

3) Navy men are purposefully running on the deck of a ship, with ropes and equipment.

 

4) A big Navy helicopter (same type as above) is hovering over an Apollo capsule in the water; frogmen are in the waters around it.

 

5) A newspaper headline reports, "Apollo 18 Heroes Safely Back!"

 

INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Jim is lying on the sofa.

 

Dr. Randolph is sitting to the side listening. He leans forward. His body language is that they're about done.

 

Jim looks emotionally exhausted. He seems relieved to have said everything, but he is spent.

 

JIM

All these ... these years. I've had to hold it inside. I don't ...

(beat)

I want, can I go back? I thought ...

 

Dr. Randolph stands and goes over to set his pad and pen on the corner of his desk.

 

He then turns to face Jim.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Relax. Stop.

 

Jim is still kind of mumbling in incomplete sentences.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Jim, stop. Wait.

(beat, reassuring)

Commander Wellview, you are a good man.

 

Jim wasn't expecting this. He stops. He doesn't move, but he is now listening.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

You did what you thought was the right thing to do. That is not always an easy thing to determine. But now, many years later you want to "confess" what you took part in.

 

He stops to look at Jim. Jim turns his head and looks back. He seems to have recovered some of his composure.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

I don't suppose it has occurred to you that you are not the only one who has had to hold in ... secrets, has it my friend?

 

Dr. Randolph goes to his phone on the desk and pushes some button. We hear a faint buzz when he does this.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Please stand up now. There are a few men whom I would like for you to meet. I have confidentially reviewed your case with them.

 

Jim is turning and getting his feet on the floor. But he then suddenly looks up a little shocked, like he's been betrayed.

 

DR. RANDOLPH

It is fine. Please trust me now.

 

Jim tries to relax at this reassurance. He gets to his feet, smoothing his hair, shirt, jacket, and slacks. He is now getting focused, completely composed.

 

A narrow side door (not the main door in back) opens.

 

Dr. Randolph appears relaxed, perhaps a little amused.

 

Jim glances at him warily and then at the opening door.

 

Three men in business suits emerge with trained smiles, arms forward, ready to shake Jim's hand.

 

The first man, GEE DUB, looks a lot like former President G.W. Bush in appearance and mannerisms.

 

The second man, WILLY, looks a lot like former President Bill Clinton in appearance and mannerisms.

 

The third man, HERBERT, looks a lot like former President George H.W. Bush in appearance and mannerisms.

 

They come around Jim like they're all old friends. Jim almost wants to step back. He is trying to adjust.

 

Dr. Randolph steps aside a little to let them congregate around him.

 

While speaking each man heartily shakes Jim's hand and they pat him on the back.

 

GEE DUB

You've done a great service for your country, Jim. A great service.

 

WILLY

Nothin' to hide with what you did. Just remember, it depends on what the word "is" is....

 

HERBERT

Wanna tell ya. Very impressed. Did your job. I like your style.

 

JIM

I, umm ... well, I - but...

 

DR. RANDOLPH

Gentlemen, we sincerely appreciate your coming today to speak with Jim.

(beat)

Is there anything that you'd ... each like to tell him?

 

Each man in the circle continues to act according to his mannerisms. Jim tries to accommodate their postures and words.

 

GEE DUB

I'll - I'll go first (heh, heh). Ah, Jim, wanted to tell you. Those, ah, Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

(nodding "No" - letting him in on a secret)

They weren't there after all. Heh, heh!

 

WILLY

And Jim, do you remember when I said that I didn't inhale? ...

(now a big smile)

Well, I -

 

JIM

Actually, I had kind of figured that ...

(voice dropping off)

since you ... and ...

 

HERBERT

I said, "A thousand points of light."

(beat)

There were only 950.

 

Jim turns from them and looks over at Dr. Randolph. His look communicates, "Is this why they came here?" Jim looks less than enthralled.

 

Before he can say anything in reply two more men are coming in.

 

Why, it is GEORGE Washington and ABRAHAM Lincoln.

 

THE THREE "PRESIDENTS"

Honest Abe! George! It's been a long time! Why, Mr. President!

 

The three men around Jim shake their hands and open up to let them approach Jim. But Jim's face reveals that he doesn't believe it. He seems to quickly look around to confirm his surroundings.

 

Jim takes a small step back, glances at Dr. Randolph and then back at (his only escape) the main door. Jim smiles to them, but he looks cautious.

 

(The rest of this sequence happens quickly - so the audience doesn't have time to analyze it - they just react along with Jim.)

 

GEORGE

A fine performance "walking on the Moon", young man.

 

George shakes Jim's hand, leans forward and gives him a knowing wink.

 

ABRAHAM

As good as any I've ever seen at Ford's Theatre.

 

All men look shocked at the reference for a moment. Then they follow Abraham's lead in laughing, since that was so long, long ago.

 

Brief distinguished (cigar-room-type) laughter. Abraham takes Jim's hand in his and gives it a couple of solid pumps.

 

ABRAHAM

Oh - never mind about that.

 

George almost interrupts, tapping on Jim's lapel.

 

GEORGE

Jim, do you, ah, remember seeing that painting of me - crossing the Delaware?

 

Jim recalls and quickly nods affirmative.

 

George waits a second, then nods negative.

 

GEORGE

Three days in an artist's studio in Buffalo.

 

Jim looks up. Wait, he can't believe this. Before he can recover -

 

ABRAHAM

And do you recall in my Gettysburg Address, "Four score and seven years ago..."?

I was off by five months.

 

Jim has heard enough. He is now wondering if, after all, he is not the one who is so crazy - as much as them.

 

Jim is smiling, giving assurances, and quickly edging to get out from the middle of them.

 

He gives a brief (what were you thinking!?) glare to Dr. Randolph. He's getting ready to leave.

 

Jim suddenly pivots, walks quickly to the door - he's gone.

 

INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

 

Jim is standing on a moving walkway. Persons with luggage are in front and behind him. Someone passes on the left, pulling their carry-on behind him or her.

 

Jim, slightly slumped forward, has a small suitcase in hand. His face is silently communicating something between fuming and sulking. He is trying (but failing) to process it all.

 

There is an announcement overhead.

 

AIRPORT ANNOUNCER (O.S.)

Flight 65 to New York, now boarding at Gate 4. All passengers - now boarding, at Gate 4. Flight 65 to New York City.

 

Jim reaches the end of the moving walkway, gets off, is walking, and holds up his ticket folder to glance at it.

 

INT. SPACE SHUTTLE CABIN ENTRANCE - LATER

 

This looks just like any other aircraft front, side door entrance. Jim is in line to board, ticket and ID in hand.

 

INT. SPACE SHUTTLE FIRST CLASS SECTION - CONTINUOUS

 

Partway back in an aisle seat is (big green) Loch, holding a magazine up in front of him with big sunglasses on. The seat behind him is empty.

 

Folks are walking past on their way to their seats further back.

 

Loch appears to be trying to glance over at whomever is across the aisle from him, but without being noticed. He lowers the magazine a little each time.

 

Our view opens to see that directly across the aisle, as a person or two passes by, is Entertainer.

 

Entertainer also has big sunglasses on and holds up a magazine. And he is trying to do the same thing - glance across to Loch, but trying to do so discreetly.

 

A person needs to get past Entertainer, in order to take her seat (it is Pamela, if we recognize her from behind).

 

ENTERTAINER

Ah - don't step on muh blue suede shoes.

 

We now see briefly that most seats are already full. But with putting on seat belts and adjusting things we don't really see faces yet.

 

Jim comes down the aisle. He checks his ticket. Jim has the seat directly behind Loch. He puts a small bag up in the compartment above, then closes it.

 

Jim looks at his seat, then down where his feet should go. He stops. He appears disturbed.

 

A different angle shows us that Loch's tail is down there moving around a little, continuing further (it appears) to further down under Jim's seat.

 

Jim has to step over it and must then straddle over it to sit down. Another person then walks past, going to the next cabin back.

Up front we see and hear that the flight attendants are closing the main cabin door. One attendant holds up a clipboard, looking down a list, and appears satisfied.

 

Jim is in his seat. The tail doesn't actually touch him. But it is down there. He gets his seat belt fastened.

 

One flight attendant lifts a mike and puts on a big smile.

 

While he or she speaks we alternatingly see him/her along with a few shots of the First Class passengers. Oh - we recognize them all, as they are all the main characters in this film. They do not look up at us for now. But some chit-chat, a few get things organized, and a few watch the flight attendant.

 

FLIGHT ATTENDANT

I hope you've all had time to review the safety information on the card in the seat pocket in front of you.

(beat)

We want to thank you all for choosing to fly with us today. And we hope you had a pleasant stay on the Planet Mars.

(beat, emphasizing)

Remember that you have all signed the non-disclosure agreements. You cannot tell anyone that you've ever been to Mars. ...

 

EXT. SPACE SHUTTLE ON MARS LAUNCH PAD - CONTINUOUS

 

The red Planet Mars with a domed city in the background, and lots of craters outside.

 

The space shuttle is on a launch pad, at an angle on the end of a runway, and we see steam venting from it.

 

There is also a Control Tower and a few other space shuttles docked at other terminal gates in the background.

 

FLIGHT ATTENDANT (CONT'D, O.S.)

Please make sure that your seat belts are securely fastened. And that all carry-on items are stored either below the seat in front of you or in the bins up above.

(beat)

Our flight time to New York is 36 hours and 14 minutes.

(beat)

After lift-off we will be around with some beverages and snacks.

 

INT. SPACE SHUTTLE FIRST CLASS SECTION - CONTINUOUS

 

FLIGHT ATTENDANT (CONT'D)

So please sit back, enjoy your flight, and thank you again for flying with us today.

 

The flight attendant hangs up the microphone and goes to a fold-down seat to get buckled in.

 

EXT. SPACE SHUTTLE ON MARS LAUNCH PAD - CONTINUOUS

 

The shuttle's engines fire up and it begins to roar upward into the red Martian sky.

 

As it goes airborne we see the next shuttle moving away from its terminal gate and beginning to head towards the end of the runway.

 

 

 

INT. SPACE SHUTTLE FIRST CLASS SECTION - CONTINUOUS

 

It is noisy during the lift-off. Folks are bouncing a little with the movement.

 

Imperceptibly at first - the roaring begins to settle into a repetitive beat.

 

EXT. SPACE SHUTTLE HIGH ABOVE MARS - CONTINUOUS

 

The space shuttle is rising above the Martian atmosphere. A very small Planet Earth is off in the distance.

 

Main shuttle engines appear to shut off.

 

INT. SPACE SHUTTLE FIRST CLASS SECTION - CONTINUOUS

 

The roaring and shaking calm down, but the beat now becomes perceptible.

 

Entertainer is still wearing his big sunglasses. After a few seconds he turns to squarely face our camera angle. He begins singing with the beat.

 

(It could be any melodic folk song, like to the tune of: "Funiculi, Funicula"; or maybe instead a modern version of John Denver's "I'm Leavin' on a [jet plane] Space Shuttle" or otherwise.)

 

The shot widens across the aisle to include Loch. Loch joins in the song.

 

Jim leans forward and out into the aisle to see that Entertainer and Loch are singing. Jim smiles as others begin to join in too.

 

Full musical accompaniment picks up in the background.

 

Then Jim turns to face us and joins in the song too.

 

Everybody's there, smiling and now singing together. Perhaps they sway a little, looking at each other and at us. There's: Director and Pamela; John Smith and Frank; Victor, Dr. Randolph, Glenn; the black family; Tanya and Jerry; Agent #1 and #2, etc.

 

As we see each person or two-three person group - appropriate credits display over them, e.g. "Director", then below - the actor's real name, et cetera.

 

EXT. SPACE SHUTTLE HEADING TO EARTH - CONTINUOUS

 

A view of the rear of the shuttle, moving away from us. Destination Earth is off in the distance.

 

We continue to hear their singing as the regular credits begin to roll. ...

 

 

THE END

 

 

"Confessions of a Fake Moon Astronaut"

Written & copyrighted - 2009 by Paul Abramson  All Rights Reserved.

http://www.paulzilla.org/humor/