A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004) Movie Script

What are you doing here?
Georgianna went a half hour ago.
You're gonna miss it.
Put that on my tab.
Your bill.
"Tab" sounds like
y'all might pay it someday.
Time was never a friend to Bobby Long.
It would conspire against him...
allow him to believe in a generous nature,
then rob him blind every time.
We had lost Lorraine, all of us...
but long before she died.
You can't park here.
You'll get another ticket.
I don't see no signs, Miss Daisy.
It's all right.
I can walk to the curb from here.
Get me a beer.
You find a job?
You clean the fuck up?
That Bobby guy called again today.
- Again?
- He called a couple of days ago, remember?
No, you didn't tell me. What did he want?
He wanted to tell you about Lorraine.
What about her?
She died.
She what?
She's dead, all right? He called
because he thought you'd wanna know.
Lorraine died and you didn't tell me?
To Lorraine. May she finally find peace.
So, now what?
Lorraine finally kick y'all out?
She never would.
Besides, God wouldn't let that happen.
Really? And why not?
'Cause God knows me, and I know God.
Cecil's pretty torn up. Make sure he eats.
I'll see you later.
She never meant nothing to you...
and you didn't mean a damn thing to her.
I didn't think you would care.
Come on, baby, stop.
Look, I'm sorry, all right?
Why don't you just cook me some dinner
and I'll go rent us a porno?
I have to go to a funeral, Lee...
unless I missed it
because you forgot to tell me...
that my mother is dead!
Fucking asshole. I am so out of here.
She was never your mother!
Purslane? This is Bobby Long again.
I don't know if you remember me...
but you missed your mama's funeral.
So long.
You got any smokes?
Sorry, sir.
- Y'all going down to Cecil's?
- In a minute.
- I'll see you guys.
- See you there.
You got a light?
- I thought you didn't have any.
- I don't.
Not for Junior.
He's got to cut down.
He's got fierce emphysema.
That cough sends shivers of mortality
down my spine.
"He'd make a lovely corpse,"
but I'll make no contribution.
Of course not. "Contribute only
to one's own death." That's my motto.
Did you get the girl? She know anything?
- "He'd make a lovely corpse."
- Come on, man. Charles Dickens.
Are you serious? It's Martin Chuzzlewit.
New Orleans is a siren of a city.
A place of fables and illusion.
A place Lorraine had to escape from...
and Bobby and I had to escape to.
Away from Alabama...
away from lives
that no longer belonged to us.
I thought she was getting better
that last time, I really did.
When was that?
- A few years ago, at least.
- It'll be six years, October.
Was it that long since we seen her?
Since you seen her.
We should have gone
to the hospital with you.
You should have done a lot of things.
This Lorraine's house?
And who are you?
No one. I just live here.
Come on in.
Nice place.
Thanks. We try.
- You're not old enough to be Bobby.
- That's because I'm Lawson.
I'm sorry about your mother.
You look a lot like her.
Sorry to wake you so early. It's barely noon.
Bobby. We got company, man. Wake up!
Honey, put your bags down. We don't bite.
- Juice?
- No.
- Bobby, get up. She's here.
- Who?
- Pursey.
- Who?
The girl is here. Get up.
So, when's the funeral?
It was yesterday. It was real nice.
You should have been there, young lady.
That's your opinion.
You must be here for some reason.
I guess you already know
the deal on the house.
What deal?
- The house. Your mother owned it...
- The deal!
Let me tell you what the deal is.
The deal is that
Lorraine left the three of us the house.
Lawson and I are two-thirds,
and you are only one-third.
She did what?
Lawson and I have been living here
for some time.
Your mother hasn't lived here for years.
And I don't believe
that she thought you'd be interested.
Lorraine was great at being wrong.
Purslane, honey, we are here to stay.
This is our home.
It's no big deal...
Lorraine thinking I'd share this shithole
with two alcoholic strangers.
You are alcoholics, aren't you?
But we are not strangers.
We were her friends.
We took care of her.
And this shithole is just fine for us.
It's not suited for a girl like you.
I'm getting up out of bed now.
You can watch if you want.
It don't matter to me.
It seems hard to believe...
that you haven't seen a man naked before.
Not an old one.
I know that you're no innocent...
because I spoke to that boyfriend of yours...
over on the Redneck Riviera.
You certainly didn't choose him
for his brains.
You don't know nothing about me.
I guess that will change
if we all became roommates, wouldn't it?
I'll see you later. I'm out of cigarettes.
My brand is on sale.
Good to see you again, Purslane.
All growed up.
He's not usually such a jackass.
He's just upset about Lorraine. We all are.
He's right, you know. I can't stay here.
It's pretty funny, actually.
My grandma was always talking about...
the pretty little house
Lorraine was fixing up for me...
and I guess
that was the Ernest & Julio talking.
It's fine.
- There's no real surprises here.
- The hospital sent her stuff.
Lorraine would want you to have these.
They went everywhere she did.
She loved those books.
I guess I could unload them
at a flea market or something.
- Here, I'll help you out.
- No, I'm fine.
I really did want to come to the funeral.
I just never got his message.
That girl looks so much like Lorraine.
I remember the first time
you took me to see her sing.
It was my first time in New Orleans.
I was so taken.
You were kind of sheltered.
Choked by that silver spoon.
I thought she was so beautiful.
She was.
What else can I get you boys?
Did anyone ever tell you that you smell
like a Parisian woman in springtime?
Every day, at least once. Y'all gonna eat?
The lawyer could get to her at any time.
So what?
The will says we can stay for a year.
Should I just come back?
Do you know how lethal the smell
of a Parisian woman in springtime is?
Not nearly as lethal as
a Louisiana woman who don't give a shit.
- Eggs and bacon, ma'am. Both of us.
- Cheese on our grits, darling. Please.
You are fucking shameless.
Why didn't you use the bed, sweetheart?
- Oh, God.
- I could have come in and cuddled with you.
That would have been fine with me.
- We could have spooned together.
- Save it.
Why'd you give her this?
This is stories of misfits...
invisible people. It's beautiful.
Have you ever read it?
Have you ever read any book?
Lorraine didn't know she was a poet.
I really do enjoy...
fostering inspiration.
Lawson's a writer. A fine one, too.
He's writing a book about me.
That's fascinating.
"Chapter 1:
I got up, I got drunk, I passed out.
- "Chapter 2: I got up, I got drunk..."
- Lovely and witty.
You're an embarrassment of riches,
little girl.
Which room is mine?
I'll need a place to stay,
and y'all said I had a right.
Just figured I'd stay here
until you get fed up and leave.
We are never leaving. Never!
- And don't even get it in your mind.
- She should have Lorraine's room.
- I'll stay out here. I'll bunk with you.
- Okay, fine.
Are you fucking crazy?
Better than her poking around
and finding out the truth.
She won't last.
You're gonna make sure of that.
Besides, you're always complaining
how your bed is so cold.
You're too skinny for me.
- So, y'all are really into books?
- They're mostly Bobby's.
- That's the plumage of an English professor.
- Him?
- A professor?
- Yeah, he was a good one.
And you, you're really a writer?
Bobby likes to think I am.
These boxes are all Lorraine's, so...
So what?
- I knew your mother pretty well.
- How well?
She was hard to understand,
but she kept the door to her heart open.
The way I heard it,
it was more of a revolving door, wasn't it?
Purslane Hominy Will.
How come you know my name?
I know a lot about you.
Your mama and I were close
since we were young.
I helped name you.
Your mama thought you were golden...
so we named you
after yellow flowers and corn.
This is you here:
Pretty, golden purslane.
Purslane's really a weed, you know.
A neighbor told me when I was 9
and I ran over his tomato plants.
He said all gardeners hate purslane.
Yeah, and dandelions.
It doesn't stop kids
from making wishes on them.
Purslane's an axillary bloom.
It closes up when the sun goes down.
Last time I saw you, you were teeny.
Is there anyone here who doesn't remember
me with Lorraine, or am I the only one?
She used to sing here. I was about your age.
She was something.
- I'm so sorry.
- Don't be.
I'll have red beans and rice
and a beer, please.
I hear you'll be staying
at Bobby and Lawson's for a while?
No, I'll be staying at Lorraine's indefinitely.
- Will you be starting school in September?
- No.
I don't go to school. I waitress.
You need one?
No, just me and Uncle Earl.
They know you're not going to school?
They're all torn up about it. Ranks up there
with being out of vodka and cigarettes.
Mother, go make my bed
Make it long and narrow
My true love died for me yesterday
I shall die for him tomorrow
She was buried in the church house yard
And he was buried there beside her
And from his grave grew roses red
From hers grew greenbriers
They grew and they grew so very high
Till they could grow no higher
And at the top grew a true lover's knot
Twined with greenbriers
Y'all, this is Lorraine's daughter, Pursey.
She's gonna stay with us for a while.
Come on in.
- You grew up real pretty.
- Thank you.
Make yourself at home, darling.
I'm Ruthie. My gentleman friend, Ray.
Here 26 years.
Go on and relax, baby. Drink your beer.
Find anything?
I filled out a few applications.
You let that fresh young thing
live with you?
She's fresh, all right.
I remember when there was a new one
every night. Y'all was pussy magnets.
Which one of y'all snores
like a goddamn train?
Bobby. If he's on his back,
you have to turn him over.
I saw this program on the Medical Channel
that you can cure people of snoring...
by cutting their throats open.
I believe that I do have a story
for you gentlemen.
Quiet. Bobby's gonna tell a story.
When I was growing up, I always hung
around boys a couple years older than me.
And this one summer,
I was, I don't know, 10 or 11.
And we were doing all the normal things
that boys in Alabama do.
We were fishing...
and playing ball,
and swimming, and beating off.
But in addition to these activities
of an innocent childhood...
mine included a lot of talk...
about this wonderfully
elusive something called pussy.
I wasn't sure exactly what it was...
but I knew it was magical and very special
because of the way it was spoken about.
Always in a whisper.
I'd go through the fields
saying it to myself: "Pussy."
One day, we was all...
playing ball out in a broom sage field.
And up rode Leroy Tuberville.
Now, Leroy was
an upstanding delinquent. Twelve.
And his shoulders were already broad,
and his fingers were stained with tobacco.
And Leroy, he parked himself casually
by third base, and he went in his pocket...
and he pulled out something. He started
throwing it high in the air like that.
And I watched him play it cool...
his mysterious jewel going up and down.
I couldn't take it any longer. I had to ask.
"What's that you got there, Leroy?"
And everyone fell silent.
And Leroy looked at me
with that nasty sideways grin...
and he said,
"It's a piece of pussy, Long. My very own."
My face got hot, my breath quickened.
There he was, with this perfect piece of girl,
tossing her up in the air.
And I watched, knowing that I had seen God
for the first time.
And I wanted her for my very own.
But old Leroy popped his treasure
between his teeth...
jumped on his bike grinning at me,
and rode off...
leaving us in a cloud of dust and desire.
And it was in that tormented haze,
at the age of 10...
when I dedicated the rest of my life...
to finding my very own tiny piece
of love and wonder...
that I could carry with me for eternity.
All right, that's it. I'm going home.
To Florida?
Now, look, be careful.
"We cannot tear out
a single page of our lives...
"but we can throw
the whole book in the fire."
George Sand.
I thought that would be a hard one.
I don't feel right about lying to her.
What would a teenage hussy want
with this place, anyway?
Said herself it was a shithole.
She's better off.
Besides, when you sell that book,
everything will change...
We'll go to Paris, drink '61 Latour...
write bad poetry.
Yes, everything will be just perfect.
"We die only once,
and for such a long time."
She's here, honey.
I'll take better care of her this time.
See you tomorrow, darling.
Your mama used to come here a lot.
Why do you talk about her so much?
Because I miss her, I guess.
Were you in love with her or something?
We all loved her.
- She knew how to reach people, you know?
- No, not really.
The night before my grandma died...
she warned me that
Lorraine would always be selfish.
She finally told me about my father.
She did, did she?
Some sax player in Memphis.
Pretty much a one-night stand.
I think Gran wanted me to know that when
she was gone, I'd be totally on my own.
She was right.
After she died,
I hardly ever heard from Lorraine.
Never even got a chance to hear her sing.
Your mama loved you, you know?
You meant the world to her.
She used to sit
right where you're sitting now.
Always writing.
Called this granddaddy the Tree of Life.
That's so corny.
- You're in the wrong appliance.
- What?
To succeed in killing oneself,
one must be in the oven.
God damn, girl. You woke up productive.
- Come see what Pursey did.
- Christ. Stop yelling.
I see what she didn't do: Leave.
She ain't gonna leave.
That's a really good look for you, too.
Good morning to y'all, too.
No school, I hear. What, you skip a grade?
A few. The 10th, 11th, and 12th.
Do you mind?
God, we are living under the same roof
as a goddamn dropout.
It takes one to mock one.
At least I can support myself.
Look, as long as
you're not lazing around here...
making Lawson lose his concentration,
I do not care what you do.
You got work to do.
Do you have to go after her
like that, relentlessly?
Do you want her to stick around?
Is that what you want?
Has it ever occurred to you that if we help
her get on her feet, she might move on?
How help her?
You want to help her out of
them tight little pants. That's what you want.
- Forget it, man, all right?
- Forgotten.
A New Orleans summer
drowns in thick, dank stillness.
Come on, man, let's play gin.
- Can't you see us doing something here?
- To hell with you.
Lorraine's house shrank with each
passing day, straining uneasy walls closer.
Turn that music off, girl!
Can't you see he's working?
Jesus H. Christ.
How long you gonna sit around here
smoking up our cigarette money?
Lawson said he didn't mind.
Lawson's cigarettes are red. Mine are green.
You may not smoke green. Bobby's.
What is that shit you are drinking?
God, it reeks.
This is beer and tomato juice.
Breakfast of champions.
Champion fuckup, maybe.
You know, girl, I have had
just about enough of your bad attitude.
Whether you like it or not,
I am the senior male in this house...
and you will respect me!
We have been very patient
out of respect for Lorraine...
but you will not continue
to lay around here...
and play parasite to our generosity.
Now, you must work
as if you're gonna live 100 years...
and pray as if you're gonna die tomorrow.
- What did you say?
- Ben Franklin said it.
It probably meant something
coming from him.
You know damn well
I've been looking for a job.
God, what do you do? Except shit around
and talk about how smart you used to be.
I am a professor. I am a troubadour. A poet.
And it's none of your damn business
how we live.
- You are responsible for your share.
- My share?
You already live in my house for free.
- God, you should be grateful...
- This is our house!
Maybe you'd rather I earn money
bringing friends home.
Didn't Lorraine have to do that for a while?
Most junkies do.
God damn it!
Have you no respect for the dead?
That was your mother, Pursey.
we all know
that you ain't no angel of purity...
are you, little Purslane?
Did you ever have two men at once?
Have you?
That would buy a lot of cigarettes
in our house. It would, wouldn't it?
Fuck you!
You're supposed to be the senior male?
The grownup.
I'm just a girl. Don't you get that?
I'm so sick of your high and mighty attitude
about poor, dead Lorraine.
You wanna teach me about respect?
Who respects you?
The wife who's smart enough to get rid
of you, or the kids you never fucking see?
What did I tell you about her?
Oh, God!
You know, I know what y'all think of me.
- School just seemed like a waste of time.
- It's not.
I know that.
I'm not some dumb kid, you know.
I wanna be normal. It's just not my life.
What is your life? What do you want?
If I could do anything?
Promise you won't laugh?
I don't know if I can promise.
Well, I thought about maybe working
in a hospital or something...
like being an x-ray technician
or something like that.
- Can I ask why?
- I don't know.
I like the way bones look on a light box.
They're like portraits, but on the inside.
I know it does sound totally stupid.
No, it's not stupid.
Hello? Is anyone there?
- Sorry.
- It's all right.
I keep forgetting
there's a woman in the house.
Any sign of him?
Listen, Pursey, I need to tell you something.
What, you worried about him?
What are you doing today?
I thought I'd go down to the Quarter...
look for a job. I haven't tried there yet.
Want someone to show you around?
- Give us a call next week.
- All right, thanks.
Maybe, but only part-time.
It's not like you have rent.
You don't have to work full-time.
I need to get away
from Bobby full-time. Overtime.
Maybe I could help you get started
on those bone portraits.
You can get your GED, you know.
Sure I can. Then maybe I can go to Harvard.
You know, you eat like shit?
You drink too much.
Would you let me read your book sometime?
- I don't think so.
- Why not?
- Most of it ends up in the trash.
- How long you been writing it?
Too long, and not long enough.
- Did you graduate from college?
- Yes, ma'am, I did.
With the privilege of becoming
Bobby Long's teaching assistant.
Why did y'all leave that school?
It's complicated. So many reasons.
Tell me one.
A lot happened real fast...
and New Orleans, all this...
it sort of seemed romantic at the time.
Is it?
Is it romantic?
It has its moments.
Would you really help me get my GED?
Yes, I really would.
- Why?
- Why not?
Don't have anything else to do.
Would you quit drinking so much?
Why not?
You don't have anything else to do.
All right.
All right.
So, where is he, the son of a bitch?
Probably on some barstool somewhere,
whining about how misunderstood he is.
You've better things to do than waste
another day worrying about Bobby Long.
He didn't. We had a nice day, didn't we?
Come on, darling, we better get home.
See you at home.
It must be getting pretty crowded for you,
only two rooms.
What about your work, sugar?
There's no privacy there.
You could stay at my place.
Will you think about it?
I'm back.
Aren't you people glad to see me?
- No.
- You might have called.
Well, then ask me. Say:
"Bobby, what have you brought me?"
Video poker or nickel slots?
- Man, where's my car?
- I sold it.
Now, Pursey, go put some music on.
We're gonna celebrate.
- You what?
- I sold it. We didn't need a car.
This is a single malt. When was the last time
you had a single malt?
- For how much?
- $300.
You fucking sold my car for fucking $300?
Have you lost
your goddamn mind completely?
Just hold that punch.
Now, you remember...
I have a broken face.
Now, I didn't have any money.
That's because your check is here.
And this, too. From the lawyer.
It's time to tell her.
I waited for you to get the...
What the fuck are you doing?
You give me five minutes,
and then you do what you think is right.
Well, look how nice
you changed everything.
I'd have destroyed that TV weeks ago
if I'd known it would drive you to Steinbeck.
All right, now, I have something to tell y'all.
Come on in, sit down.
Come on, man, sit...
Will you stop grieving
about that hunk of shit and sit down?
I'll stand.
All right, close your eyes.
- Close your eyes, man.
- I'm not closing my goddamn eyes.
Come on, Lawson. Christ.
All right, now.
You can open them now, darling.
Courtesy of a lovely teacher...
whose heart once found Bobby Long
cause enough to skip a beat or two.
"To certify that Purslane Hominy Will...
"has successfully completed
the 11th grade...
"and is recommended to the 12th grade."
"Why stay we on earth except to grow?"
Robert Browning.
He's definitely your run-of-the-mill
senior-year poet.
Is this really your idea of an apology...
or are you just trying to one-up
his GED offer?
Great minds.
Come on, man.
Of course she takes a language.
- You want to speak French, don't you?
- Don't be an ass.
You know that
she can't take French 1 as a senior.
All right.
So we got English Lit, European History,
Geography, Psychology.
We need one more.
- I think Art Appreciation.
- Music.
- I think she'd like music.
- I'm not going.
Well, God damn, it's already set up.
Do you know how much I had to go through
for you for this?
For me? You expect me to...
Come on. What's in it for you?
Firstly, it'll get you out of the house,
for my sanity.
- That's what I thought.
- No, look.
You said something to me recently.
It got me thinking.
You said, "I'm just a girl."
Maybe I've grown too calloused
over the years, but you are just a girl.
Not unlike the students
that flowed through my classes years ago.
And I know that
we must seem horrible to you...
but we still got something to offer. We must.
And besides,
I think we owe it to your mother.
And as hard is it is to believe...
we, too, once were innocent children.
You are such a shameless ham.
What makes you think I could do this?
Because we know God, and God knows us.
And he and Lorraine brought you here
for a reason.
School starts in a month.
You can give us a chance. It might be fun.
"Fun" is a stretch, don't you think?
Listen, sweetheart,
that's one of your mama's songs.
That's beautiful.
She'd be so proud.
What do you think of my face?
See this bone? It's broken.
But you can move it.
How'd that happen?
"Never fight fair with a stranger."
Arthur Miller.
That happened in a fight? You lost?
Well, I lost a lot more than the fight.
Does it take away from my appearance,
in your opinion, miss?
I think you're still handsome.
Well, aren't y'all sweet?
Are you having sexual intercourse
with one another?
- Okay, Dr. Ruth, let's go.
- It's all right if you are.
Sex is nice.
Just remember to be kind to one another.
And stay young as long as you can.
Your youth is fleeting. Be kind.
We should start with memorization.
I think we should stick to
the Socratic method.
You do? Just exactly who is Plato
and who is Socrates...
in this arrangement?
Because I'll just stay out.
You are Socrates, of course.
- You are the Teacher.
- You're goddamn right I am.
I wish y'all would just shut up...
because if it's gonna be like this,
I ain't learning nothing.
Girl, your English is fucking atrocious.
Purslane Hominy, sit up.
Why can't I study in bed?
It's so hot,
and this chair is so uncomfortable.
It is not supposed to be comfortable.
It'll put your brain to sleep. Sit up.
- It's just bad habits.
- You're talking to me about bad habits?
Don't fuck with the Teacher, okay?
Just tell me what is Nebraska's role
in American Literature? Go.
- Shouldn't I be learning the state capitals?
- Bullshit. You'll learn what matters.
- Don't procrastinate.
- By whatever do you mean?
I don't have a card for procrastinate.
You are just incorrigible.
"To drag one's ass
in such a pathetic manner...
"as to ensure one's place in life as a loser."
Hey, who are you calling a loser?
- Fuck.
- Go.
All right, Nebraska.
Home state of Willa Cather,
one of our first successful female authors.
Or should I move east to Missouri,
where Mark Twain...
alias Samuel Clemens, was born,
or down south to Kansas...
where William Burroughs
spent his last years?
- Stop!
- Hey, man...
I don't think they'll teach Burroughs
at Catholic school.
Well, they ought to.
Why don't you pour your old buddy a drink?
- We're out of juice.
- Well, what's in that glass?
It doesn't have a smell.
Well, God damn it,
pour some vodka in it then.
- Go ahead.
- We gotta quit.
I promised Pursey if she'd study.
I mean, look at us. We're worthless.
And when was that, that you quit?
Nineteen hours ago, when we were quizzing.
- Did you get some sleep?
- No.
There's no rush for her or for us...
so if you want to quit, take it slow.
Now, trust me on this.
Take away the bottle, take away the genie.
Hey, what are you doing here?
I just thought I'd give Lawson a break.
Let him use the bedroom.
Come on, sit down.
You look very pretty today, Purslane.
No one calls me that
but my dead grandmother, but thanks.
Now, you remember how to get there?
I know where it is all right,
so I guess I should be going.
You nervous?
Want me to take the streetcar with you?
No, I'll be okay.
Well, I know you'll just do fine.
And we'll be right here
when you get back from school...
to help you with your homework.
Christ, you're really living
in some parallel universe.
Me and "homework" in the same sentence.
It's about to become you and "tardy"
in the same sentence, so...
Think she'll come right home?
Where else would a teenage girl go
but straight home...
to her endlessly entertaining
middle-aged roommates?
She's no picnic.
Tortures me with that noise.
That child should know
anything worth listening to is on vinyl.
My kids knew it.
I taught them. I was their father.
You still are.
One day they'll understand,
when you finish that book.
My kids don't even know me.
Shit, can we do anything besides this?
- Like what?
- Fuck if I know.
- We could go fishing.
- You don't fish.
Maybe I should start...
Maybe you should start working
on your damn book.
I don't know the end of the story yet.
Checkmate. Let's get out of here.
We're depressing me.
You know, I wanna say something...
about life, because an unexamined life...
- is simply a life...
- Not worth living.
Purslane, our prodigy has returned.
Now, tell us everything.
Honey, why did you leave school early?
I didn't belong there.
I appreciate what y'all are doing,
but I'm not going back.
I really need a job.
- You can work here on the weekends, sugar.
- Really?
- Only if you're in school, though.
- Good one, Earl.
Autumn comes slowly in New Orleans.
The grass remains a stubborn green...
but the heat gives way to a gentle warmth.
Pursey did begin to catch on in school.
She was surprised. We weren't.
Winter arrived before we realized
the sunlit hours of summer had waned.
Somehow, the wine began
to outlast the day...
and that was more than
anyone could have asked for.
Someone should have told them Creoles we
got something called winter in Louisiana.
We might have improved
on their oversight...
with this cool new invention called heat.
- Pursey, where'd you put the vodka?
- You told me to hide it.
I did. But where did you hide it?
I'm not supposed to tell you, remember?
You don't do anything else I tell you to do.
Where is it?
Lawson, Bobby's trying to get me
to tell him where the vodka is again.
- It is Christmas.
- Whatever. It's under the back stairs.
And I could have sworn
it was your turn to do the laundry.
Don't forget to use the cuddly bear stuff.
But you aren't a virgin, are you?
You know, some people would call you
a disgusting old man...
for your constant sexual harassment.
I believe the term is "dirty old man,"
not "disgusting."
And you are a young, blooming bud.
- Let me live vicariously. You aren't, are you?
- Are you?
Well, I have children.
Why don't you ever see them?
Well, that's a good question.
But you haven't answered mine.
You know, I'm trying to be serious for once,
Bobby. God.
The truth is, I wish I could see them.
I miss them like hell.
It seems to me
if someone wanted to see their kids...
then they damn well would,
unless they didn't give a shit.
How about you?
Do you remember your mother
when y'all were living together?
No, not really.
I used to try to remember her.
Anything about her.
Like her voice, the way she smelled,
you know, anything.
I used to think real hard...
wanting memories.
And I just started making them up.
That she was putting on her eye shadow
and talking to me in the mirror...
or I'd pretend that...
she'd make me these perfect grilled cheeses
with the crusts cut off.
I had all kinds of made-up memories.
My favorite one was that
she'd take me to see her shows...
and I would be sitting on the side
with this nice man...
who'd give me
all the Shirley Temples I wanted.
I made up so many memories...
I actually started to believe
I was really remembering her.
But she never came for me, so I just forgot.
You know...
stopped pretending.
Ho, ho, ho!
- Is that a real tree?
- Lord, where did you get that?
It fell off the back of a truck.
- Like hell it did.
- All right, maybe it was a Volvo.
We should put it right up front
where everybody could see.
Lawson, where's the laundry?
"I remember the day I graduated
from protg to confidant.
"He never meant to let me in on his secrets.
"He thrived on his own mystery.
"But once the first one was discovered...
"it wasn't long before
there were none left between us.
"I was on the back steps of the library...
"when I spotted his uniform,
a freshly laundered shirt...
"the color of Easter, and that damn hat.
"He strode across campus with purpose.
"Everything about Tommy said ready."
- I'm Tommy, just so you can follow.
- Sounds just like you.
"He almost skipped right passed me.
"'Nice hat,' I said...
"eliciting Tommy's notorious smile.
"It was the same smile that he granted
to each woman that caught his eye.
"The smile that served as an answer
to all undesirable questions.
"Or the smile for one of his children...
"whenever he found
a tiny hand reaching for his."
That's nice...
- but I think that might be a bad sentence.
- I think they all are.
That's why they're hanging
from the goddamn Christmas tree.
No, but it's just that, normally,
it's just not on...
"Tommy took the stairs, two at a time,
bellowing, 'Well, God damn...
"if it isn't the South's next great native son.'
"I was only one of hundreds
who came religiously twice a week...
"to be dazzled by the Professor,
each performance worthy of applause.
"Tommy, at the front of the hall,
waving his arms wildly...
"as if mastering an imaginary lasso."
- I like "lariat" better. I think you...
- I like "lasso."
Years ago, you trusted my opinion.
Years ago, you were easier to trust.
Thank y'all very much.
Have a Merry Christmas.
Nobody can do the Alabama shuffle
as good as Bobby Long...
but this sweet thing, she can move.
- Why can't you be this sweet all the time?
- Sure, and what would that get me?
Pure, unadulterated joy.
- You keep your lecherous eyes off our girl.
- What?
She don't like me.
She likes Lawson better than she likes me.
You like Lawson better than me, don't you?
You're drunk.
You know what, I am. I really am.
But it's all right,
because Lawson is gonna take us home.
Not tonight. I got him all to myself.
You told them about the news, honey?
We were just thinking
that maybe after the holidays...
he could move in with me
and get some more work done.
It's just something that we kicked around.
Lawson is not in love with you.
Bobby, I don't think
that's any of your damn business.
I've seen him with a woman
that he can't get enough of.
A woman that's crawled
into every molecule of his being...
that consumed his every thought...
and turned him into a creation
of devotion and obsession.
I have the scars of that love on my face.
Have you told her about that?
Have you told her
about the difference between true love...
and a warm bed to pass the time away?
Cool it. Don't go after her.
I never said I was going anywhere.
I only speak the truth.
The woman deserves to know the truth.
And you, you're free to do as you please.
Am I, really?
Finally free?
I want to say something on this occasion...
where we're celebrating our love
and friendships with one another.
"Friend by enemy I call you out
"You there, with a bad coin in your socket
"You there, my friend with a winning air
"Who palmed the lie on me when you looked
Brassily at my shyest secret
"With my whole heart under your hammer
"That though I loved him for his faults
"As much as for his good
"My friend were an enemy on stilts
"With his head in a cunning cloud"
Bravo, man.
Now, why don't you come out
and fucking say what you really mean?
Does every word out of your mouth
have to be in character...
or is that the idea:
Just to be anybody but who you really are?
You want to tell me
that you're disappointed in me?
'Cause maybe I'm disappointed in you.
You know, I never asked
to write your damn book.
Your redemption and my penance, right?
Haven't I paid?
Nine fucking years.
I am sorry, all right?
I am so fucking sorry.
It's Dylan Thomas.
To Others Than You.
That's an easy one.
Good night, Bobby.
You okay? Can I come in?
You really did a number on yourself
this time.
Lawson's gonna leave me right by myself.
I always knew it.
I deserve it.
I'm gonna die alone.
He's not gonna leave you.
- Yes, he is.
- No.
He'll always be there for you.
He cut up my story
and hung it on the Christmas tree.
Honey, I peed myself.
All right, let's get you into bed. Come on.
Oh, God.
It's so damn cold.
How is he?
- I think he peed blood.
- God damn it.
I knew he wasn't himself tonight.
He's afraid of doctors.
It's probably some bacterial thing.
It's nothing.
- Are you gonna move out?
- No.
Are you in love with her?
She's really nice.
Yeah, she is.
Are you worried about him?
What happened, Lawson?
When I met Bobby,
he seemed absolutely larger than life.
Did whatever the hell he wanted...
but still he had the beautiful wife and kids.
Students loved him. Faculty hated him.
Women wanted him.
Christ, he had me so convinced
of my own grand destiny...
I may have fallen a little in love myself.
We hung out all the time.
There was a woman who I wanted to marry.
Her friend fell for Bobby pretty hard.
He started spending more time with us
than he was at home.
One night,
their youngest had a Little League game.
It was a double-header.
So I convinced him to have drinks
with the girls first.
Said I'd go to the game with him later.
He kept on saying he had to leave.
Somehow one drink became two,
and then three.
And then...
this idiot, the dean's nephew...
came in and announced...
that he was sleeping with my girlfriend...
and everyone knew but me.
I went after him.
He took a swing.
Bobby stepped in...
and he cracked Bobby's face wide open.
Bobby went crazy.
He beat up that kid pretty bad.
It'd just gotten so late.
I knew Ben would be waiting.
But when we got there, he was gone.
Everyone was.
He should never have been by himself.
He was just a little boy, and it was so dark.
There's too many people...
in such a damn hurry on that road.
There's no way
a driver could have seen him.
I mean, he was so little.
And, God, he worshipped his dad.
Juliette told Bobby to leave
and never come back.
She needed a better man.
That's how she put it.
So you came here?
Seemed like a good place to write.
It was far away...
good universities.
Bobby could start over.
I thought I should be here with him.
I mean, if it wasn't for me that night...
things might have...
I don't know what happened, really.
We read too many damn books.
There's something about this city.
That's all.
You should get some sleep.
I made you breakfast in mattress.
Thank you, ma'am.
Have we heard from the man yet?
No. Should we get him up first?
Can you give me that shirt, please?
Thank you.
Nice hat.
Get up, old man.
I hear we gotta take you to a doctor.
And get that off your pecker.
What do you care?
You're slicing it up, anyway.
It doesn't mean I want my book
getting the clap.
I had the urge to read something likable
about myself.
Find anything?
Not really.
I didn't mean to mess things up
between you and Georgianna.
I didn't mean what I said.
Oh, Christ.
Last night was a blur.
I don't know what was said.
And I don't want to remember.
- Come on.
- Good, presents. Yay!
Merry Christmas!
It was our home that night, all of ours.
We both knew we should tell her the truth...
but every day felt like the wrong day.
And Christmas is as good a day as any
to believe in fairy tales.
That night reminded Bobby and me
of a time in our lives...
we'd both chosen to forget until she arrived.
It felt good to remember...
if just for a little while.
I'm so full.
- Me, too.
- Me, too.
I wish it would snow.
- Me, too.
- Me, too.
But I love the rain.
- Me, too.
- Me, too.
Come on, man. You gotta piss sometime.
Christ, I can't do it
while you're watching me.
I've seen you piss a thousand times.
Well, suddenly I am shy, okay?
Piss right now.
Christ, it's probably nothing, man.
I've lived long enough anyhow.
Lord, it's cold.
It's clear. I pissed clear.
Like hell you did. Don't lie to me.
So it was a little pink. I'm not going.
You got any short stories
you haven't destroyed by fire or scissor?
My English final, I gotta write something...
and read it in front of the entire class,
and there's no exceptions.
- Fuck!
- So you're doing okay in English.
I'm doing okay reading English.
I'm not a writer.
- What the hell are you wearing?
- What do you care?
It's Lorraine's.
You just let her stuff collect dust in there.
You'd rather freeze
than wear your mama's clothes.
This robe and the person who wore it...
is worth more than a hundred people
who don't appreciate them.
Is something wrong?
- You gonna tell her?
- Tell her what?
We gotta take Bobby to the doctor.
He's still pissing blood.
He's been putting it off for weeks.
I hope you're not wearing
them lady underwear.
I most certainly am. They're good luck.
Besides, they're gonna
take them off anyway...
and put one of them
backless numbers on me.
Everybody's seen my peter.
That's right.
Everyone just wants to see your peter.
And my ass.
Let's go.
What did I tell you?
Goddamn string draped over my ass.
Where's Bobby? I made him
that andouille gumbo shit he loves.
They needed him for some more tests.
- Is he all right?
- They think so.
They just gotta look at his toe
and make sure.
Well, then, maybe you might wanna
invite Georgianna over for dinner.
I think she's working.
Is there an occasion I don't know about?
I have a date.
Really? That's a first.
I figured it was about time I got a life.
Great to hear it.
- Is that a new dress?
- Yeah.
Well, sort of.
I mean, Bobby's right. There's no reason
to let Lorraine's clothes collect dust.
She was really tiny.
You should have seen me trying to zip it up.
Just make sure it stays zipped up.
I'm a big girl, Lawson.
I have been for quite some time now.
Hey, is that an SAT application?
Yeah. My guidance counselor gave it to me.
I meant to throw it out.
If she thinks your grades are good enough
for college, you go to college.
- Well, college costs money.
- There's financial aid.
I might have to go away.
You might.
- I have to go.
- Isn't he picking you up?
No. I'm meeting him somewhere.
You can't walk home
from the streetcar alone.
- Call me at Ray and Ruthie's and I'll...
- No, I'll get a ride.
Besides, you should spend time alone
with Georgianna.
You haven't stayed over there
since before Christmas, right?
You said you wanted to see more
of the New Orleans music scene.
I figure this is a good place to start.
- I know him.
- Really?
Hey, sugar, what are you doing here?
My friend Sean brought me.
Sean, this is Junior.
Great to meet you.
I've seen you play around, man.
You are great, man. Really, really great.
How come I didn't know
you were a badass sax player?
Well, I don't play much anymore, you know.
I mean, I don't have...
Don't got the lungs for it.
- How's Bobby?
- Better than you sound.
- You sitting in again, or what?
- Tiny, there's somebody I want you to meet.
This can't be that sweet baby girl, Purslane.
- You don't remember me, do you?
- No, sorry.
When your mama used to play here...
she used to sit you right over there
on that stool.
And you was so cute.
See, my job was to keep you
full of Shirley Temples.
You remember that?
With Junior.
You used to play with Lorraine back then.
You were in the band, weren't you?
Yeah, she and Junior was our best night
here, when they wasn't bickering.
Little Purslane.
Look, you come back
and see old Tiny again, all right?
And the Shirley Temples on the house.
See you later, man.
You were really in Lorraine's band?
Of course I was.
I mean, everybody was at that time.
That's just how it was.
Lorraine and me...
we were close at one time.
I remember the last time
she wore that dress.
It looks just as pretty on you.
I gotta go.
Glad you came, honey.
Why didn't you tell me
your mama was a singer? That's so cool.
I don't know. It was a long time ago.
You want a drink? I'm ready.
Jesus. Are you anxious to get home?
Unless you and Purslane
don't want me around anymore.
You finally figured us out.
- What's the verdict?
- I got a kidney infection.
They gave me some medicine.
Said I got to dry out.
What about the toe?
It's just a fungus. Got goop.
You're a lucky man.
You're gonna be all right.
Of course I am. But what if I wasn't?
What do you mean?
I saw you with Purslane on Christmas Eve.
- Are you sleeping with her, Lawson?
- No. How could you think that?
Because she's becoming more fetching
every day.
Because she's a young woman.
She's got a crush,
and we both know how nice that is.
- She's a kid, Bobby.
- She's 18.
My wife was 18 when I met her.
It was love at first sight.
Nothing happened. That night...
things had gotten a little out of hand...
and I think she was
kind of frightened by it all.
She was feeling a bit lonely and cold.
Well, my guess is
that she wasn't the only one.
Just remember, she's Lorraine's daughter.
- You're jealous.
- Absolutely.
Shit, I ain't worth this much.
Fuck, no.
Winter never feels truly at home
in New Orleans.
An unwelcome visitor
that shows up long enough...
to remind us of what we're missing...
and leaves us just in time
for us to forget again.
Spring, and we're still here.
How about we grab a bottle of wine...
and go down to the river like we used to?
What do you think of that?
Remember that very generous girl
who used to skinny-dip?
- What was her name?
- I don't know.
She's born-again now.
Think we'll still be living together
in heaven?
If we make it to heaven,
then everybody will be there...
and I'll have my pick
of goddamn debauchers:
Byron, de Sade, Hemingway.
I'll be more fun
than all of them whiners put together.
Yes, I guess you would.
- I really think Pursey can get financial aid.
- Will you forget that?
She's gonna go off to some fancy school
after we taught her everything she knows.
We'll still be sitting here
getting older and uglier...
and any spring could be our last...
God damn it, I wanna go to the river now.
Why are you such a dramatic old bastard?
"I just want to breathe in every day.
"Happiness makes up in height
what it lacks in length."
- Robert Frost.
- Come on.
You know damn well she'll miss us
if she leaves.
If she leaves, she's gone.
Final chapter. End of story.
I want to go to the river now.
But I need peace and quiet.
I got so much to do...
to pull off this graduation. I gotta write
a short story, or poem, or something.
I can't think of anything.
- I'm gonna blow the whole thing.
- I know you.
- You'll be fine.
- I'll see you later.
Hey, babe.
I've been waiting for you all day.
Lee, what are you doing here?
How did you find me?
You smell nice.
Aren't you gonna ask me in?
I drove all night.
And I got you this.
This place really looks like you.
All those lady magazines...
I don't read those anymore.
I don't have the time.
What are you doing now? You waitressing?
No, I'm... It's none of your business.
Man, you must be doing okay. No rent...
and this place definitely kicks ass
over the trailer.
- Lee, what do you want?
- What do you mean?
I just came up here
to make sure that you're safe...
- once Lorraine's fool friends get the boot.
- What are you talking about?
Those guys
that you had to share this place with.
How do you know who I live with?
Some lawyer sent you a letter.
Which you, of course, opened.
Their year is almost up...
and I've been trying really hard
to better myself.
- I've missed you so much...
- This letter says as of July 1...
- I'm the sole owner of this house.
- Yeah, I know.
You didn't know that? Jesus Christ, man!
- Those fucking scumbag losers lied...
- They are not losers. They're my...
- They're your what?
- You cannot call them losers.
You think that... I have a real life now.
I go to school...
- A real life?
- Yeah.
As opposed to the piece-of-shit life
that we had?
And I guess you got some real men
in your real life, too.
Men who lie to girls
so they can have a roof over their heads?
- Fuck you!
- Or what?
Are they getting something else
for their trouble?
They used you, Purslane.
- Just like they used Lorraine.
- Get out.
That's just fine!
I came all the way up here to see you!
You're in school now.
That's some funny stuff.
I want you
to remember something, Purslane.
A weed is just a weed...
no matter how pretty the flower.
That's just fucking brilliant, Lee. Get out!
What the hell is going on?
She must be cleaning or something.
She locked the door.
Pursey, open up, honey.
Pursey, it's us.
Pursey, honey, open up.
- You locked the door.
- God damn it, I told you this would happen.
No. Oh, God. How?
Let's go. She needs some time.
Two goddamn days and no one's seen her.
She asked for the weekend off.
The trail is exhausted.
Ray said she came in early this morning.
Used the phone.
- She snuck past us?
- Probably on purpose.
You have not been very supportive
in this ordeal.
You're staying with me, aren't you?
You're welcome to go elsewhere.
I can rectify this.
Tomorrow she goes to school.
I'll set the alarm. Get up early.
Talk to her on the way.
Work this whole thing out.
We don't have an alarm.
Sweetheart, we've been waiting for you.
What do you think?
It's all your favorite colors.
And guess who helped?
We had Ray, and Ike, and even Earl.
It'll probably add value to the selling price,
so thanks.
Don't know why you have to go so soon.
We'll still be friends.
It's them I wanna get away from.
You know they didn't mean to hurt you...
Why don't you start off in the kitchen?
I'll finish this.
"My sweet Purslane...
"I am getting well and can't wait to see you.
"Time seems to stand still in these places...
"but somehow too much of it has passed,
and there's so much to say.
"I write to you always, but
never have the courage to send my letters.
"I want you to have them now
to give you our history.
"I'd like you to know your daddy...
"and to know that only I'm to blame for
the fact that he doesn't already know you.
"I wrote this song for you both."
Honey, where do you want me
to put your glasses?
What's wrong?
How could you talk about her all the time
and never tell me this?
Is this true?
"Your singing touched my soul.
Bobby Long."
I always suspected, but she never told me.
I loved her first.
And Bobby got here,
and all hell broke loose.
Bobby was still married.
He never even knew how she felt.
She worked so hard to get clean.
And when she did, she came home
for a big show at the Howlin' Wolf.
This show?
The date's right.
She said your grandma would bring you up.
You never did show. He never did, either.
Boy, she was devastated
neither one of you was there.
"To my sweet Bobby.
"I am feeling better and coming home
to sing you a brand-new song.
"Please come. Someone I love will be there
and I want to introduce you."
This was you, darling.
You and Bobby.
I just...
I can't believe it.
Why do you keep drinking that shit?
Don't you know it's gonna kill you?
Didn't you watch Lorraine?
God, sometimes you make me
so fucking sick.
You're living in some fantasy world...
where life's a book
and no one takes responsibility for writing.
Every idiot knows that books are better
than life. That's why they're books!
Pursey, honey,
you go right ahead and be wicked.
We deserve it.
But when you're finished, why don't
we just all sit down and talk like a family?
Like a family.
Would that be like
that family you destroyed?
Are we just gonna be like that family?
'Cause the weird thing is that,
according to Lorraine, I am your family.
Couldn't you count to nine months?
I never understood
why she would want me to live with y'all...
but you're my father.
I just...
Did you love her?
- Did you love her?
- Yes, very much. But I just...
I wish we never knew.
No. Don't go, Pursey.
Don't walk away.
- It's too late.
- No, it's not too late.
You got me now, honey.
You're not alone anymore.
Let me be here.
What can I do? Tell me.
What, honey?
Remember when I told you
I made up memories about her?
The really pathetic part was that
I used to make up memories about myself.
Like parents got lots of stories
about their kids.
You know, like, "Wasn't it cute when
Suzie couldn't say supercalifucking..."
I mean, people remember a lot of weird shit.
Like you probably got a ton of stories
about your kids, right?
Yes, I do.
Well, I kind of felt that maybe...
I used to do some cute or funny stuff
when I was little.
But the truth is nobody was really there
watching, were they?
Honey, I was there. Sweetheart, I was there.
I saw. It was never very long,
but I was there.
- Will you tell me about her?
- Yes.
- Every tiny thing about her?
- Oh, yes.
And about me, too?
'Cause I think I really need to know now.
I don't want to sell our house.
I love our house. I just...
I was so mad at you.
I'm so sorry.
I don't remember how to do this.
I'll do it for you.
Shit, man. Your foot's blue.
I've been practicing wearing this shoe.
It's just numb, is all.
I don't want any reason for my daughter
to be ashamed of her daddy.
- Now, how do I look?
- Damn good.
- How do I look?
- Well, pretty good.
Your hair's sticking up.
There you go.
Good Lord, y'all look like regular taxpayers.
- Maybe I ain't dressed appropriate.
- You look fine.
Your fly is down.
Come on, we're gonna be late.
Are you ready
to see our daughter graduate?
Yes, I am, sir.
- It's a day to count our blessings.
- Yes.
Quiet, everybody. Quiet down.
I'd like to propose a toast...
to my very beautiful daughter,
Purslane Hominy...
who is my very own golden girl.
Cecil mentioned earlier that today
was a day we should count our blessings.
And as I look around,
I see that there are many...
that I have not given credence to.
I am thankful for a God
that I had thought had given up on me...
and the love of a child who, God willing...
will be in college this fall.
And not no Vinegar Bend Junior College,
neither. My baby's smart.
Smarter than her old man.
That's for goddamn sure.
Pursey, honey, you have taught
this old fool a thing or two.
And in the glorious words of T.S. Eliot:
"We shall not cease exploration.
"And at the end of all our exploring...
"will be to arrive where we started...
"and know the place for the first time."
And that's what you've given your old man.
And he is forever grateful.
Now, come on up
and give your old man an Alabama shuffle.
Play that slow one that I asked for.
Some people reach a place in time
where they've gone as far as they can...
the place where wives and jobs
collide with desire...
that which is unknowable,
and those who remain out of sight.
"See what is invisible,
and you will see what to write. "
That's how Bobby used to put it.
It was the invisible people
he wanted to live with.
The ones that we walk past every day.
The ones we sometimes become.
The ones in books
who live only in someone's mind's eye.
He was a man who was destined
to go through life and not around it.
A man who was sure the shortest path
to heaven was straight through hell.
But the truth of his handicap...
lay only in a mind both exalted
and crippled by too many stories...
and the path he chose to become one.
Bobby Long's tragic flaw
was his romance with all that he saw.
And I guess if people want to believe
in some form of justice...
then Bobby Long got his for a song.