Bronx River Road (3rd Segment)

int. airport

Steve walks through immigration and sees a big sign.

ts

Wow, welcome to the United States of America. That’s Jimmy Carter on the wall. Why didn’t we step out onto the tarmac? Where are all of the cameras and paparazzi I always fantasized about? I walk out to the greeting area. Is that piece of cardboard with my name on it for me? Is that my dad? I walk toward the man holding the piece of cardboard.

father

Stevie? Is that you?

ts

This is my dad. Mummy was right: he’s tall and skinny like a coconut tree. I haven’t seen him since he bought me my tricycle. He’s much better looking than I remember. Mummy always told me I look like him and everybody always told me I was ugly. So I thought he’d be ugly too. Is that a Rolex on his arm?

dad

This is your stepmother Clarissa.

ts

My stepmother is beau, ti, ful. She’s tall and looks like a model. She’s wearing brown bell bottoms and platform shoes. Nothing like the long ugly church clothes mummy wears. I hate when she shows up at my school.

Steve

Nice to meet you Ms. Clarissa.

clarissa

You don’t have to call me Ms., just Clarissa. You’re not in Jamaica anymore.

ts

Oh no, I can’t do that. I can’t call grown people only by their first names. Are you kidding me? My mom and the church sisters would stretch their arms all the way from Jamaica and slap my teeth down my throat.

Steve

Can I call you Momma Clarissa?

clarissa

Ok then, that’s fine.

father

How was the flight son? Was it fun?

Steve

Yes sir.

father

Yes sir? You’re not going to call me dad?

STEVE

Ok mom..I mean dad.

ext. jfk parking lot – continuous

Steve begins to shiver.

ts

We make our way outside to the car. It is frrrrreeeeezing. There’s snow all over. If I had some red syrup, I could make a big snow cone, just like I used to when I scraped the ice from grandma’s Westinghouse freezer.

clarissa

Junior, give your son your jacket nuh?

father

The car is right over there, he’ll be fine.

clarissa

But he’s not used to this weather, he just got here. Do you want him to get sick?

father

Clarissa, you worry too much about everyting. Why yu cyant just relax? How is he gonna get sick from walking a few feet in the cold?

Ts

My father unlocks his door and all the other locks slowly go up. Wicked. We all get in.

(teeth gnash from the cold)

My frozen butt is in contact with the back seat of my father’s car. My father puts his thumb and middle fingers together to turn the steering wheel. That looks really cool!

Steve

What’s that smell? It’s really nice.

father

That’s the smell of the leather. I just bought this car a few months ago, so the leather still smells new.

Steve

Wow, really?! It’s a Mercedes Benz, right?

father

That’s right. So you know about cars?

Steve

A little. But mummy said you had a Cadillac.

father

Oh no! Done with Cadillac a long time ago. This a Mercedes Benz 450 SEL 6.9.

ts

I’ve seen this car in magazines. This is a $50,000 car. I can’t even imagine $500 US dollars much less 50,000.

father

One of these days, we’ll take it out on the road.

Steve

Really, dad? You mean like a road trip?

father

Oh yes, she loves the road. I’ll teach you how to drive, too. Just you and me, son.

Steve

Yeah? Can’t wait, dad.

ts

We pull into the parking lot to this really tall building. It looks like the building that the Jeffersons on TV live in.

(beat)

We take the elevator to the 8th floor. I remember his address. I’ve known it since I was a little kid. His apartment is 8F.

int. father’s apt – continuous

Steve

You have a McIntosh stereo?

father

Whaaat?! You know about sound systems too?

Steve

I love McIntosh stereos. All the big sound systems in Jamaica used them.

father

You used to go check out sound systems?

steve

Mummy didn’t let me, but sometimes I went. When I grow up I’m going to buy a McIntosh.

father

Alright, the first ting I have to tell you is that, I don’t want you touching this sound system. This costs way too much money for you to be meddling around with. This system is $20,000. And this TV is off limits too. You hear me?

STEVE

Yes, dad.

ts

My father is in America, living in a George Jefferson apartment, with a $20,000 McIntosh stereo system, driving a $50,000 Mercedes Benz, but he’s written to me only four times and sent only $100 in the last 15 years. That’s… six dollars and sixty six cents per year. How could that be?!

Clarissa

This is your room Steve.

FATHER

And the toilet is right next to it. Don’t fall in. Your mother told me what happened to you and the tricycle in the doodu pit.

clarissa

Junior, why do you have to mention that? We’ll see you in the morning, Stevie. Get some sleep. You must be tired.

STEVE

Goodnight Mama Clar. Goodnight dad.

ts

I can’t wait to hang out with dad tomorrow.

int. father apt – day

Steve

Good morning Mama Clarissa. Where is dad?

clarissa

He went to work.

Steve

He went to work? Think we could go for a drive when he comes back?

clarissa

If he’s not too tired. I made you some breakfast. Here is the key and one of your father’s jackets to wear so you can go outside and walk around the neighborhood.

Steve

Thanks Mama Clar.

ts

I eat breakfast and put on my father’s jacket. I can’t believe it, I’m wearing my father’s jacket. It smells like old cigarette smoke and beer. I write my mom a letter.

Steve

Ok Mama Clar, I’m going outside.

CLARISSA

Make sure you button up, your body is not used to this cold.

ext. bronx river road – continuous

TS

I’m standing in the cold, on American soil, my first morning in America. I try to go for a walk around the neighborhood, but it’s too cold. I find a blue box that mama Clar told me about, and drop in the letter to my mom. I head back upstairs and let myself back in the apartment. I do this everyday, but I can’t stay outside for more than five minutes. How do people live in this cold?

(beat)

When Mama Clar and dad go to work, I can’t do anything. Everyday I just sit here and read the dictionary and the encyclopedia. I don’t know what the problem is, but dad won’t let me do anything else. At least we don’t go to church or read the bible. Dad isn’t into any of that religious stuff. So that’s cool. But he barely talks to me. When are we going to hang out?

INT. FATHER APT – evening

TS

A couple of weeks later, Clarissa is cooking dinner when my father walks in. He’s carrying a bunch of plastic bags and a deli sandwich. It’s always a deli sandwich or pizza.

Clarissa cooks dinner.

CLARISSA

Did you bring home enough for all of us?

father

I don’t think you guys like my kind of food.

CLARISSA

I made dinner anyway. Here you go Stevie, have some curry chicken.

Clarissa places a plate on the table in front of Steve.

FATHER

Clarissa, what are you doing? I told you not to feed that boy in this house!

clarissa

Are you out of your dog gone mind? What do you want me to do, cook and let him starve?

father

I’m not arguing with you about this again.

TS

Dad walks out of the kitchen into the living room. This is not quite the father I was expecting. I hear him turn on the TV.

FATHER (o.s.)

That’s not wrestling! How can Hulk Hogan smash a chair over somebody’s back and call that wrestling?

clarissa

What did you do today, Steve?

STEVE

Oh, the usual. Read the encyclopedia and the dictionary.

CLARISSA

We need to get you in school, huh? Did you go for a walk?

STEVE

Yeah… but I can’t stay out long. It’s too cold.

CLARISSA

(hisses teeth, loud)

Junior, when are you going to buy Steve some clothes? He didn’t come here with anything.

FATHER

(shouts)

I got some of my clothes adjusted at the cleaners for him to wear.

TS

Is he serious? My father comes back into the kitchen and hands me 2 plastic bags.

FATHER

Try on these.

ts

I put on a shirt and pants. Oh man! I can’t go out in public in these clothes.

CLARISSA

Junior, what’s the matter with you? Those clothes are too big for him? He looks like Ronald McDonald. I’m taking him shopping tomorrow.

father

Clarissa, a don’t want to spend any money on this boy. These clothes are good enough for him.

clarissa

Junior Bryan, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that you’ve lost your cotton pickin’ mind.

FATHER

I don’t think you understand. I DON’T think you understand! Bringin that boy here was a big mistake!

steve

Mistake? Being here is the only good thing that’s ever happened to me. What’s he talking about?

TS

Dad storms off into the living room again. I see him light up a Kool brand cigarette and sit in front of his expensive stereo in a T-shirt and plaid boxers. He drinks Becks beer.

Dad turns on the stereo. He broods in silence for a moment before the music comes on. Then he starts to sing with the choru

father

(singing)

Gaaauuud don’ like uuuuglyyy, he’s gonna make you payyyyyy, for what you done to meeee. Yeh yeh yeh.

Steve’s father calms down after a bit.

father

So Stevie, how were you and the girls in Jamaica?

steve

Wh… what do you mean, dad?

father

Did you have a girlfriend in Jamaica?

steve

Yeah, I did.

father

You have to be cyareful, you know? You’re getting to be a big man.

STEVE

Yeah, dad, I know.

father

(smiles)

You see any girl you like here?

steve

Uh, no, I just got here.

father

Don’t worry. You soon find a girl.

steve

Hey dad, when I was at the embassy, they said that I had a half sister. Is that true?

father

Oh yeeeesssss, your sister Geneva. I named her after your mother.

steve

So I really have a sister? How old is she?

Father

Bwaii, that’s a good question. I haven’t seen or heard from her since I left Jamaica. Clarissa how old is that girl?

clarissa

Junior, your daughter was born in August 1969. That makes her 11 years old. It’s a shame how you treat that poor girl.

father

Listen, I have to guh get some sleep.

STEVE

Ok Dad. Nightie night.

TS

He turns off the stereo, goes into his bedroom and closes the door.

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