A Chance in the World (2017) Movie Script

- Every morning,
for as long as I can remember,
I have had the same dream
or perhaps it is a memory.
It's evening, and I am in
the backseat of a moving car.
Another child sits
beside me on my right.
Was this a boy or a girl?
How old is he?
What is her name?
- It's gonna be okay.
- I am
cold and hungry.
The world whooshes by in
blurs of color in night.
Am I at a hospital?
Why was I brought here?
- Calm down.
- Don't worry.
- Hi, honey.
Come with me.
I hope this time you'll be okay.
It's gonna turn out okay.
- Calm down.
- You have to sit.
- Control her.
- I will.
- If you can't
control her, I will.
- For every
morning after that dream,
and for as long
as I can remember,
I would peer into
the bathroom mirror
in search for clues to
answer the questions
that had haunted
me my whole life.
Where had I come from?
Who did I look like?
Where did these eyes come from?
And most importantly of all,
where were my mother and father?
But that magnificent piece of
glass always kept its secrets.
My only leads were
the mysterious scars
and bruises that covered me.
A story had been written upon
me, and a violent one at that.
But it was a tale I neither
remembered nor understood.
One day, I will
understand these images
that live in the gray somewhere
between memory and dream.
- One day.
- Stephen Klakowicz,
you shut that water off,
get dressed, and get down here!
- Yes, ma'am!
- Don't you
scream in this house, boy.
Don't you dare scream!
- By this age,
I'd been in so many foster
homes I'd lost count.
Those homes where
compensated for taking me in,
and the truth was I meant
little more to them than that.
But the Robinson family was
supposed to be different.
Boy, get your ass down here!
You mean to tell me that one day
after school is
out for the summer,
some high school counselor
wants to see your light eye ass
in his office this morning?
- Some counselor?
- Don't be smart with me.
Why he wants to see you?!
- I don't know who
you're talking about.
- Mr. Sykes called last night.
Teacher's pet's in trouble.
- I don't know why
he wants to see me.
I didn't do anything.
- More eggs, Willie?
I think little Mr. Bookworm's
been talking too much at school.
Have you been talking
too much, Steve?
- No, ma'am.
- Because if you have,
rule number five.
- No one will ever take
my word over yours.
- Why?
- Make him say it.
Make him do it, Mama.
- Rule number four.
- Because I am dumb and ugly.
There's something wrong with me,
and everyone knows this.
- Make him do number
eight, please.
- Rule number eight.
Rule number eight.
- No one will ever want me,
especially not my
own mother or father.
- Thanks, Mama,
that one's my favorite.
- What you doing just
still standing there?
Go away from me.
- Hey.
Better not makes me late.
Come on, let's go. Get in.
Got no idea why this Mr. Sykes
wants to see you this morning?
- No, sir.
- Look, I can't be late.
Understand me? I can't be late.
That's what a man does.
Can't be late for work.
That gives him his pride.
That's what he am!
- Yes, sir.
- Uh, there, right
there, what it say?
- It says to buy eight gallons
of bright red
paint, number four.
- I know that.
I ain't stupid!
I just, I just have
some trouble sometimes
with them big words.
What it say?
- It says that make sure
you bring his laundry
on your way in or you're fired.
You know, if you ever
wanted, I could show you.
- Show me what?
- How to read.
- It's just them big words.
- I could help you
with those big words,
if you wanted.
- Yes. Can you?
You go in to Mr. Sykes.
You tell him I had a job to do.
- Yes, sir.
- Home right after.
I finds out later you
done something wrong,
I'm have to beat that ass.
- Stephen.
Come on in.
Hey, come on in.
Take a seat.
Hey, kiddo.
- Mr. Sykes--
- John, please.
- Look, sir, did I
do something wrong?
- No.
Actually, you've done
something really right.
Your placement test
numbers are great.
They're better than great.
Now, have you thought about
what you wanna do
after high school?
- No.
- Now, I know it seems
like a long way off,
but doesn't have to be.
With your test scores, you
could even skip a grade or two.
- College.
Isn't that really expensive?
- It is, but that's why I would
really like you to consider
joining our Upward
Bound Program.
The program helps provide
under-resourced students
with support to continue
their education.
Weekly tutoring,
college planning,
and the access to
financial help.
That's why I have
these booklets.
Southern Massachusetts
University, UMass,
and Boston College,
isn't that great?
- I would love that.
- You love it?
It's great.
That's what I was
hoping you'd say.
Now, I've prepared a
application packet here,
and you just gotta get
your foster parents
to fill out the forms
and the PSAT application.
- I don't think they'll do that.
- Why wouldn't they?
- I cannot imagine anyone
not wanting their child
to be a part of my program.
- Miss Dottin?
- You two know each other?
- I mean, yes.
Well, no.
I mean, everybody
knows Miss Dottin.
- Now, you stop that
before it goes to my head.
But I do believe
we have met before.
If memory serves,
there was a very talented
young speller few years back
who won the city-wide
spelling bee with melody.
- Modicum.
- You are right.
Modicum was the word.
- You remembered.
- Oh, honey, I remember.
A very big word for
a very small boy.
I remember a bright little
boy up on that stage
spelling words that
I'd have to look up,
and I thought to myself,
this boy has a future.
This boy will change the world.
- Mm-hm.
- Now, what's this
I hear about you
not want to join our program?
- No, oh, I do,
but I just don't think
Miss Robinson will let me.
- Betty Robinson?
- Yes, ma'am.
- Ah.
You leave Betty to me.
- So, the prodigal son returns,
and what does he
tell his mother?
That he's moving out
of state to take a job.
What if she needs something?!
I guess that's just
too bad for her, huh?
'Cause her oldest is moving
out of state for work.
You hate your mama
and daddy so much
that you leaving the state.
- It's not like that.
I just have to do
what I think is best.
- Go.
See if I care.
Thank God for Reggie and Lisa.
We gonna adopt that
girl, you know?
- I know, Mama.
- See, there's a child
willing to take care of
those who take care of her.
- I just wanted to
stop by before I left.
Look, I have a few things
left in the basement.
Is it all right
if I go get them?
- Get them.
And go!
Oh, what the hell are
you all smiles about?
What that counselor say you did?
- Nothing, nothing, ma'am.
- Nothing, nothing, ma'am.
If it was nothing, he
wouldn't be asking to see you
when school was out.
- I did well on
my placement test.
- Mm.
Well, placement tests
don't put food on the table
or a roof over your head.
- No, no, ma'am, no.
- What you got there?
- An application for
a placement program.
It could help me
get into college.
- College?
Well, you ain't
getting into college.
Who do you think you are?
Some rich boy whose parents
are gonna pay for college?
Send him off to
Harvard and whatnot?
Your parents don't even
care enough to find out
whether you living or dying.
Now, how's a little bastard
like you gonna pay for college?
- They said they
could help with that.
Maybe a scholarship.
- Scholarship?
Ah, I guess you feel
real special then, huh?
Is that what's in
those forms there?
Well, hand it over to me, then.
Mm, didn't know they were
gonna give you a scholarship.
- All you have to
do is sign there
and I'll fill out everything.
- Where?
Okay, um, where's that pen?
Oh, here it is.
There's your scholarship.
- Why'd you have to do that?
All you had to do was sign it.
- How dare you speak to me
that, you good for nothing.
You don't have a
chance in the world
of getting into college, let
alone no goddamn scholarship.
You're no good.
Always gonna be no good.
Just like your father.
You heard me right.
Boy, let me tell you something.
After they killed your father,
they broke into the funeral
home and set his body on fire.
They sure did.
They hated him so much
they had to roll a rock
over his grave to make sure
nobody dug up his body.
He was no good.
And let me tell you
something right now,
apple don't fall
far from the tree.
- That's not true.
- Not far at all!
You ain't even gonna say
goodbye to your mama?
- Bye, Mama.
But you're wrong.
- About what?
- Sometimes the apple does
fall far from the tree.
As far as it can get.
Figured you'd be
long gone by now.
- What d'you mean?
- When she'd go off on me
like that, I'd take off.
- Didn't Willie whoop you?
- Sometimes, but if I gave it
a day or two, he'd cool off.
Still get a whooping, but some
of the sting would be off it.
- I got nowhere to run to.
- Yeah.
Look, what she
said in there about
Kenny being your
father and dead--
- Kenny?
- Only one person died that way
and that was Kenny Pemberton.
He was one of the best boxers
this city has ever seen,
but got mixed up
with some bad stuff
and got killed in
some kind of a fight.
But I don't think he
was your father though.
- But she said that--
- You know how she is.
She was just being mean.
- But you're not sure.
- Kenny still got a
lot of family around,
so if you were his son,
I think one of them
would've told us.
- You'll ask for me, right?
- I could ask, but
she wouldn't tell me.
Steve, I'm leaving town.
Going over to New
Jersey for a job.
- You're leaving?
- Gotta, little man.
And you will too one day.
Just get Willie to
sign those papers.
Know he can't read,
so just try to get him to
do it when she's not around.
Just tell him, you
know, it's about--
- More money from the state.
- Hell, he'll sign
10 forms for that.
Just keep your head
down, little man, okay?
And when you graduate
college, I expect an invite.
- I'll
never forget that day.
I would lose the only
Robinson family member
who ever showed me any kindness.
On the Robinson meter,
Eddie was always
treated as an outsider,
only slightly better
than a foster child.
An alienation I never
fully understood.
- Stephen, honey,
come in the house!
Oh, I know, Mrs. Dottin, I
have tried everything I know
to get Steve to try the
program, but he simply refuses.
Oh, well, I try to get
my boys a better life,
but I so hate to force
them to do something
that they don't wanna do.
Oh, oh, here he is.
Oh, I'll be happy
to get you try.
One second.
You better tell her no
or there won't be enough of
you left to go to that program.
- Hello?
Mr. Sykes told me how great
of an opportunity this is,
but I just don't think
that it's right for me.
Thank you though.
- Mm.
Like I told you,
I can't make him do something
he doesn't wanna do.
Well, yeah, of
course I know the...
No, I don't think
it'll be necessary
to have him come
over and talk to him.
Well, of course, I'm
the boy's guardian.
I just don't think
it'd be necessary...
Yes, he should.
Oh, of course, I agree.
Mm-hm, I'll make
sure he's there.
With the signed forms.
Oh, but we need a new form.
He was so insistent, he tore
them up right in front of me.
No, thank you.
Bye-bye now.
Get out of my sight.
Go down in the cellar and don't
come back till the morning.
Get that form from
her at 9:00 a.m.
and be back here by 11 or
there'll be hell to pay!
- The cellar
was cold, musty, and dank.
It was where I was sent,
often, for punishment.
The cellar was storage
space for many other things
the Robinsons had
no further use for.
These abandoned items
had served their purpose,
but the Robinsons
held onto them,
believing that someday
someone foolish enough
to value them more
would come along and take
them off their hands.
To the Robinsons, the cellar
was precisely where I belonged,
but I loved the cellar,
for it was a welcome refuge
from the Robinson rules.
It was a place for me
to eat from my stash of
hoarded pilfered food,
and to immerse myself in
wonderful worlds of imagination.
It was in the cellar
I came to love books,
the smell, the feel in my hands,
and the thoughts that
would whisk me away.
When I felt resigned to
what fate had dealt me,
that I would forever be
the Robinsons' prisoner,
and that their world would be
the only one I would ever know,
the characters that
unfolded in my books
in the worlds they lived in,
showed me a different light,
a future beyond the pain
of the Robinsons' house.
It was an amazing gift
and owed it to Mrs. Levin.
- What are you reading there?
- Encyclopedia Brown and the
Case of the Midnight Detective.
- Oh, the boy detective.
- Yes, ma'am.
- You like mysteries?
- Yes, ma'am.
I like to figure out
the mystery for myself.
- Mm.
Now, if I remember, last
week when I passed this way,
you were reading that same book?
- Yes, ma'am.
I like to go back and
read it all over again.
- Apparently you've read
that one a few times.
- Six.
- I see.
- Who in the...
Oh, hello.
That's very sweet of you.
I'll make sure he gets them.
- If
it's all the same,
I would like to give
them to him myself.
- Of course.
Stevie, honey!
Come here!
- You remember me?
I thought you might like these.
- Ooh.
- These are for
the boy who likes to read.
- What do you say?
- Can I keep them?
- Of course you can.
Nothing better than a good book.
Oh, except the
good book, that is.
Say thank you to the nice lady.
- Thank you.
- My pleasure.
- The first book
I read was Watership Down
and it was my favorite.
I would read it
over and over again.
I found kinship in the
rabbits of Watership Down.
They became my
childhood friends,
the only ones I was
allowed to have.
For Hazel and his followers,
it was never a question of
if they would find home,
it was simply a matter of when.
- "We need daylight, to
that extent is utilitarian,
"but moonlight, we do not need.
"When it comes,
serves no necessity.
"It transforms.
"It falls upon the
banks and the grass,
"separating one long
blade from another;
"turning a drift of brown,
frosted leaves from a single heap
"to innumerable
flashing fragments;
"glimmering lengthways
along wet twigs
"as though light
itself were ductile.
"Its long beams pour,
white and sharp,
"between the trunks of trees,
"their clarity fading as
they recede into the powdery,
"misty distance of
beech woods at night.
"In moonlight, two acres
of coarse bent grass,
"undulant and ankle deep,
"tumbled and rough
as a horse's mane,
"appear like a bay of waves,
"all shadowy
troughs and hollows.
"The growth is so
thick and matted
"that even the wind
does not move it,
"but it is the moonlight
"that seems to confer
stillness upon it.
"We do not take
moonlight for granted.
"Just like snow, or like
the dew on a July morning.
"It does not reveal but
changes what it covers.
"And its low intensity,
"so much lower than
that of daylight,
"makes us conscious that it is
something added to the down,
"to give it, for
only a little time,
"a singular and
marvelous quality
"that we should
admire while we can,
"for soon it will
be gone again."
- Review part two
of the prep book
and we'll go over that
later this week, all right?
Got it?
Any questions?
- No, no.
I got it.
You guys are gonna help
me with entrance exams
and also gonna help me
with essays and books
and things like that.
- Yeah, things like that, right?
- Mr. Sykes--
- John.
- I mean, John.
- It's all right.
- If I wanted to write
a report on someone
and I didn't have
much information,
maybe just a name,
where would I start?
- Just a name.
Well, maybe encyclopedia.
- Well, what if that
person wasn't famous enough
for an encyclopedia?
Just locally.
Where would I go?
- Locally.
You could always
interview the person.
- What if they're dead?
- There's always the obituaries.
That's a place to start.
You can always look those up
at the library or microfiche,
but you need a date of
death and you find that out
with a death certificate
request to city hall.
- Thanks, John.
- No problem, Steve.
Steve, you know, we're not
just here for your education.
- I thought that's what
the program is for.
- If you ever need
someone to talk to,
if you ever needed someone,
you know, to talk to...
You know where my
office is, right?
- Right.
- Steve, you like
to read, right?
- Yes, sir, I mean, John.
- This is a few of my favorites.
Billy Budd by Melville.
Here, you read it.
You and I go over it
for the critical reading
portion of the test
and the math part, okay?
- Great.
- And don't forget, I need
those forms back, okay?
Noon. Tomorrow.
Okay, I'll see you.
- Come on, baby girl.
I'm just talking about dinner.
Look, look at this face.
See this serious face?
Now, come on.
Come on.
Dinner, dancing, that's all.
- You're pushing it.
- I know
a great place.
- Hi, can I help you?
- I need to get a
death certificate
for a man who lived
in New Bedford.
His name was Kenny Pemberton.
I don't know when he died.
- What would I
young boy like you
be looking for a
death certificate for?
- Well, my school's
doing a report
on some New Bedford history,
so I'm doing mine
on local boxers.
- Mm-hm.
What school do you go to?
And what grade are
you in, young man?
- I go to New Bedford High.
I'm gonna be a sophomore.
- Mm-hm.
So, if I called your teacher,
she would know all
about this report, huh?
- Well, my teacher's John.
I mean, Mr. Sykes.
School is out, so I
don't know if he'll be in
and sometimes he is
during the day or summer,
but you could call
him, if you want to.
- Okay.
Well, you just hold on.
I'll be right back, okay?
- What's your name, kid?
- Steve.
- You heard the report
on Kenny, right?
A lot of bad things been
said out there about him.
Well, most of them are lies.
People just running
off their mouth.
Okay, Kenny made some bad
moves, but he was a good man.
You understand, kid?
Kenny was a good man.
- Charlie Carmo,
leave that boy alone.
He's just trying to do
a report for school.
He doesn't need to hear a
bunch of neighborhood gossip.
- Yeah, yeah, just wanted
him to get it right.
Gonna get it right,
right, Steve?
- Yes, sir.
- Here you go, don't mind him.
Just a lot of people
cared about Kenny, okay?
- Thank you.
- You're welcome.
- Seven o'clock.
Be ready.
- Oh, no, no, no, no.
August 2nd.
Got it.
Why isn't it here?
It's not here.
He died on August 2nd.
Why isn't it in the papers?
Because papers only write
about what happened.
It'll be on August 3rd.
He doesn't even look like me.
She lied.
Oh, my God.
I'm gonna be late.
- Well, it's about damn time.
You don't have time for any
education in this house,
especially when it's so hot out.
Go get me a washcloth
from the linen closet.
- Mama!
He's got books!
- Steve, what'd I tell
you about books upstairs?!
Get me a washcloth and get
those books down to the cellar
before you catch a beating.
What are you standing there for?
Run it under some cold water
and bring it back to me.
Miserable heat today.
Oh, feels so good.
What is that smell?
Where did you get this?
- The linen closet.
- Linen...
You pissed in the linen closet!
- No, I didn't!
- Boy, you piss on me, I'll
beat the life outta you!
Come on.
Boy, sit down.
Come on, sit down.
Stop bleeding!
Oh, God, they're gonna
wonder what happened.
Okay, this is what
you're gonna tell them.
You were outside in the backyard
playing on a shopping cart
and then you got up
and you fell backwards
and you hit your head.
You got that?
- Mm.
- Okay, you tell them anything
different and Willie's
gonna shoot you dead.
- You're at the hospital now.
- Bleeding all over!
Jesus, somebody
help him, please!
- It's okay, honey.
You're gonna be fine.
- Can we get somebody--
- Severe contusions to the head.
We have a concussion.
- He'll be okay.
- You're awake?
I thought you were gonna sleep
away the rest of the day.
- I'm gonna be okay?
- You're gonna be
okay, sweetheart.
We're gonna see to that.
But I have a very important
question I have to ask you.
How did you get hurt?
- I fell when I was
playing in the yard.
- That must have
been quite a fall.
I need you to be
really brave, Steve.
I'm gonna ask you one more time.
How did you get hurt?
- No, my poor baby!
Where did you put him?!
What did you do to him?!
Oh, lord, did something
happen to him?!
I don't know what I'm gonna do.
Oh, there you are.
You're awake.
You all right.
Oh, my brave baby.
Oh, my lovely little boy.
I don't know what
they did to you.
What did you tell them?
- I told them I
fell from the cart.
- Don't you lie to me.
They've been talking
to me all morning
when you've been in here lying
and telling them God knows what.
- If you don't mind, ma'am,
the doctors need to examine him.
- Oh, whatever it takes
to get my baby back
home and outta here.
- Yeah.
- Now, you tell me
if it hurts, okay?
Come here.
You're fine.
That's good.
- Why does it take two doctors?
What are you doing to my boy?
- Mrs. Robinson, can I
please see you outside?
- What for?
- If you'd please, ma'am.
- Dr. Stevens,
please report to the ER.
Dr. Stevens to the ER.
- I'm gonna admit Steve
to the hospital overnight.
- Admit him?!
What for?!
- I need to rule
out a concussion.
As for his other injuries,
I don't believe that
they're the result
of a single fall from a cart.
The bruising on his back is
inconsistent with that story,
and I need to find
out what happened.
- And just what's
that supposed to mean?
- I've called Social Services.
- Huh! Good!
I want you to call them.
You call them and you ask
them about Betty Robinson.
I have won awards for
raising foster children,
39 of them, so you call them!
You call anybody you want!
Oh, as a matter of fact, why
don't you call Dr. Downey?
He's supposed to be a bigwig
around here, isn't he?
- He's chief of
pediatrics, yeah.
- Well, you ask him how
I treat my little ones.
He'll tell you how I treat them.
He'll tell you
Steve's just clumsy.
He falls a lot.
- I will.
- How long you keeping him?
- I'll know more after
I run some tests,
and I speak to
his social worker.
- Well, you can run all
the tests you want to,
but I'll tell you one thing,
my baby's coming home with me.
- Not tonight he's not.
- You're gonna be okay,
but we're gonna
keep you overnight
just to make sure you
didn't bust your head.
- What is this place?
- Oh, this is where hurt
children come to get better.
- How long am I gonna be here?
- We don't
know that quite yet.
- Is Mrs. Robinson coming back?
- She probably just went
home to get a few things
you'll need for your
stay and she'll be back.
- Okay.
- Steve.
This story you're telling
about falling out of the
cart and getting hurt,
that's not what really
happened, is it?
It's okay.
We can talk about it later.
Why don't you just rest?
- They knew.
They didn't believe
Betty's story.
I could tell by the
whispers in the hallway,
the empathetic looks.
I didn't need to say a word.
The bruises on my body
would speak for me
and scream, "Take me
away from these people."
And they would hear the
truth over my mumbled lie.
They were smart.
They would see the truth
and I would avoid Betty's
rage and Willie's belt.
These beautiful shades of
blues and purples and orange,
these would free me.
- Hey, sport!
Boy, things kids will do to
get out of a book report.
- I didn't, I mean, I would--
- Look, it was a joke,
or was supposed to be.
It's not really a joke though
if you have to
explain it, is it?
So, how you feeling?
- I'm okay.
How did you know I was here?
- Well, you didn't show up.
I called your house, your
sister told me you were,
so I figured I'd swing by
and see if you knocked
anything loose up here
and hurt those scholarship
chances, you know?
- I don't think it's that...
Joke again, right?
- Right.
Did you get a chance
to look at that book
I gave you to read?
- No, not yet.
- Well, since you're gonna
be laid up for a bit,
I figured it's a good time
to catch up on some reading.
- The book's at home.
- I figured that too,
so bought you a new one.
You give me my old copy back
when you're back on your feet.
Besides, there's
nothing really better
than cracking the
spine of a new book.
It's like--
- Opening the door
to a new world.
- Oh.
I was gonna say like
the smell of a new car,
but I
like yours better.
Yeah, let's rev her up.
- I think she'll drive nice.
- Me too.
- "Truth uncompromisingly told
"will always have
its jagged edges"?
What does that mean?
- Well, that's what
you're supposed to tell me
when you're done with it.
- And just who is this?
Another doctor?!
- No, no, I'm John Sykes from
the Upward Bound Program.
We haven't met.
Well, I think you've
spoken to my boss.
Ruby Dottin?
- Oh, my, yes.
Oh, do tell her hello for me.
- I will.
- We have so many
friends in common.
- I'll do that, okay?
- So, Mr. Sykes--
- John, please.
- John, oh, John--
- John.
- Oh, was it that
brings you here?
- You do, Betty.
- Oh, are
you charming or what?
- No, you really do.
No, I've come to
actually keep an eye
on my number one student, making
sure he doesn't slack off.
- Well, he would
never do such a thing.
Education comes first.
That's a motto in our house.
- That's a
good one to have.
- Mm-hm.
So how exactly did you
know that he would be here?
- Oh, Stephen's sister told me
when I phoned your home earlier.
- Oh, that was
considerate of her.
Well, John, I hope
you don't mind,
but as we can well-imagine,
it's been a really trying day
for my poor baby over there.
I think he needs his rest.
- I understand.
I understand, Betty.
Betty, I understand far
more than you think I do.
In fact, I understand
Now, Stephen,
you read that book, young man.
- Yes.
- Okay?
- I will. Yes, sir.
- I know you will.
I'll see you, young guy.
- Now, they gonna ask
you a bunch of questions
and you're not
gonna tell nothing.
You understand?
- Yes, ma'am.
- Good.
Now, I want you to know
that I feel bad about this.
I never meant for this.
- It's okay.
- Oh, no.
No, it's not.
Now, I know how important it
is to you, about your folks,
so when you come home tomorrow,
providing there's no
problems or delays with that,
I was thinking maybe
we should sit down
and talk about your
parents and who they are.
- You'll tell me who they are?
- Maybe even call them with you.
You would like
that, wouldn't you?
- Call them?
But you said my father was dead.
- Oh, you know better than to
listen to me when I get mad.
I can say some spiteful things.
But you'd like
that, wouldn't you,
to speak with them, your
real mother and father?
So, we're just gonna keep what
happened our little secret,
and tomorrow when you get
home, we're gonna do just that.
- Hungry?
It's a beautiful night out.
You have quite an appetite, huh?
Steve, I was
wondering if you felt
up to talking about
your accident.
I have to ask you
how you got hurt.
Steve, I can't help you
unless you tell me the truth.
- I have to go back.
- Steve, did Mrs.
Robinson hit you?
- I fell.
- Okay.
We'll leave it at that.
What about those vegetables?
- I'm not hungry.
I'm more than tired.
- All right.
I'm gonna go, Steve.
You want me to turn
the lights off?
- Nurse Nancy?
- Yeah?
- Thank you.
- You're welcome, Steve.
- Steve?
Steve Klakowicz?
- Yes?
- I'm Miss Holt.
I've been assigned to your
case as your social worker.
Is it all right if
we talk for a bit?
- Sure.
- Well, Steve, do you
know why I'm here?
- You're my social worker.
- I am, but that's not
why I'm here this morning.
The doctors and nurses
here are worried
about your injuries
and how you got them.
- I told them I fell.
- I know you did,
but they find it a
little hard to believe
that you got all these injuries
from falling from a cart once.
And having reviewed your file,
I find it a little
hard to believe too.
- I fell.
- Steve, is someone hurting you?
We can remove you from the home.
- No!
- Okay.
I'm sorry.
I don't want to upset you,
but I can't help you, Steve,
if you don't tell me
what really happened.
- All these years,
you were never there.
Nobody was.
Now that I'm so close to find...
I fell.
Can you please just
leave it alone?
- All right.
I want you to take my card.
Now, if anything changes,
if you ever need help,
I want you to call me directly.
- Okay.
- Mr. and Mrs.
Robinson are outside.
You'll be released to them.
- Now?
- Unless you have
anything to tell me.
Then, yes, right now.
Why don't you get dressed
and I'll let them know that
you'll be going home with them.
I'll be checking on you.
A little later, just to
see how you're doing.
Mrs. Robinson, I'll
instruct the doctors
to release Steven
to you immediately.
- Oh!
- We'll schedule a
follow-up on Stephen
some time early next week.
- Thank you, Jesus!
My baby boy's coming
home where he belongs!
Oh, my poor boy.
This horrible place with
these evil-minded people.
Oh, my little
Stevie's coming home.
Oh, my little angel.
And his mama's gonna give
him everything he deserves.
- They did not say
a word to me on the ride home,
and I did not say
a word to them.
I had nothing to say.
She had bought my silence
with the promise of something
I waited a lifetime for,
a conversation with
my mother and father.
I had kept my side
of our agreement,
the only thing that mattered
was to see if Betty
would keep hers.
- Well, now, home
where you belong.
You happy to be home, Steve?
Good 'cause we're gonna
have a little talk.
Oh, now, now, none of that.
We're just gonna talk, okay?
Come on, baby.
Sit down.
Stevie, now tell Betty
what you told those people.
- That I fell from a cart.
- And?
- That's all.
I swear, nothing else.
- And why should I believe you?
- 'Cause I wanna
talk to my mother.
- Oh, that's right.
A promise is a promise.
- Yes, ma'am.
- Go read or something.
- Yes, ma'am.
- Oh, Steve, what
are we gonna say
when that lady from
Social Services comes?
- That I fell from a cart.
- Good boy.
No one's home, honey, but
we can try again tomorrow.
Maybe around 10.
- But I have to be at
school for my program.
- Oh, well, if it's not
that important to you.
- No!
It's very important.
Can we please wait
till after I get home?
- Well, we could, maybe, if
you drop out of that program.
- But college.
- Well, life's
about choices, boy.
It's about time you
start making one.
Here are those forms
you wanted me to sign.
- And after
the fra, frame
re, releasing the...
I'm a nobody.
How long you watch me?
- Not long.
- What them words say?
- You can sound it out.
- Ca.
- Li.
- Li.
- Bration.
- Bration.
- Divides.
- Calibration
divides, that's right.
That makes sense,
that makes sense.
That's good.
See, the main spring,
it determines the weight of
the trig, can I show you?
Okay, come on.
See, now, see, that's
the weight there.
And the main spring's
right on that,
so you pull back and then
when you release, pah-yow.
- Steve, something
bothering you today?
- Mr. Sykes--
- John.
- Mr. Sykes, I don't think
this program is right for me.
- What?
- I don't think this
program is right for me.
- But, Steve, you're all set.
I thought you wanted
to be in the program.
- I do!
I mean, I did.
It's complicated.
But I'm sorry I
wasted your time.
- Okay.
Did you finish the book?
- I did.
- Well, let's at
least go over it
so it's not a complete
waste of time, all right?
- All right.
- Well?
Tell me the story.
- It was good, sad, but good.
- That's a review,
not the storyline.
Try again.
- There's this
sailor, Billy Budd.
He's really just a
kid and he signs up
to be a part of the crew on
this boat, the Bellipotent.
- Mm-hm.
- While he's on there,
he meets this
master-at-arms, Claggart.
At first, Claggart's
really nice to him,
but he's just pretending.
Claggart's really mean
and he sets up Billy
to make him look
like he's a mutineer.
- And how does that
work out for Billy?
- Not good.
They hang him.
- Why?
- Because he doesn't
defend himself.
- Why doesn't he do that?
- He can't.
He stutters and when he
gets upset, he can't speak.
He can't defend himself.
- Mm-hm.
Well, it's kind of unusual
to kill the hero of your
story, don't you think?
Think Melville was trying to
say something by doing that?
- That if you don't speak up,
bad people in the
world will kill you.
- I think that's true.
- I have to go.
- Fair enough.
Steve, if you change your mind,
anything, you just let me know.
- I knew
that the program
was my best way to
get into college,
and college was my best way to
get away from the Robinsons,
but that did not matter today.
Today is the day I
will find a home.
Today, I will have an
answer to all my questions.
I will finally find
where I've come from
and who I belong to
and who I look like.
There is a hope,
a prayer for a real
mother and a real father,
and that's all I've
ever asked for.
- Mama, who'd you call?
- Your grandma.
That phone will ring forever
and she'll never hear it.
- And he believed you?
- Can I help you?
- Yes, can I speak to Miss Holt?
So, you see, you have
to get me out of there.
- Well, we're gonna
try our best, honey.
It's just that when they
took custody of you,
they assumed legal guardianship.
- I don't understand.
- Just means it'll be
a bit of a process,
but we'll get you
out of that home.
You'll have to file
a 51A against them.
- What's that?
- It's a form you
have to complete
if you want to file a complaint
against the Robinsons.
You'll have to describe what's
been happening in the home.
- And then I'll
be able to leave?
- Well, then, an investigation
will be conducted by the agency
and they'll see what the facts
are, and then, yes, Steve.
Yes, you will be able to leave.
There is a little problem.
It's just that when
you complete the form,
you have to be very specific
about what's happening.
And, Steve, they're gonna know
it was you who filed the form.
- I don't understand.
So, when I file that form,
they're gonna know it was me?
Oh, oh, no.
They're gonna kill me.
- Steve, Steve,
Steve, look at me.
They're not gonna
hurt you anymore.
Now, once you file this form,
they will know that if
something happens to you,
we are coming after them.
- Social worker called.
- Boy!
- Nice knowing you.
- Hello, this is Miss Holt.
I'm away from my desk right now.
Please leave a message.
- Hi, Miss Holt.
This is is Steve Klakowicz.
You have to get me out of here.
They're gonna kill me.
- You little bastard!
Don't put any marks on him.
- I'm gonna kill you!
- I'm not gonna
take this anymore.
I'm doing this my way.
- You see, they shouldn't be
letting them beat a dollar.
That's not right.
- $500.
- 550!
- Actual
retail price, $555.
- What you doing in there?!
- Be right back
with the Showcase Showdown.
- Don't you
have chores to do?
- The garbage can
was full, ma'am.
I thought I'd take it outside.
- Mm.
Go ahead.
I'll be watching you.
Standing right here.
And hurry up!
Showcase Showdown's coming on!
- We're back.
It's time for the
Showcase Showdown.
And Juan, come on down!
And Carl, come on down!
- I need
to see Miss Holt.
- Miss Holt is sick today, flu.
- Please.
- I'll get you Mr. Silvia.
Your name?
- Steve.
Steve Klakowicz.
- Hello.
Mrs. Robinson?
Yeah, this is Mike Silvia
from the Social
Services Department.
- Steve ran away!
- No, he didn't.
He's right here, Mrs. Robinson,
and he's badly beaten.
- Well, he broke up the house
and my antique chifferobe
and all the presents we
bought him for his birthday.
- Steve says he didn't get
anything for his birthday.
Is that true?
Because you know the department
gave you extra money
to provide for him.
- He's lying.
I have taken 39 children
into this home--
- Yeah?
So if I came over in
the next 10 minutes,
you'll be able to show me
everything you got him?
And the broken
antique chifferobe
or whatever you call it, huh?
'Cause I can be there in
10 minutes, you hear me?
Hey, Steve has the
right to press charges
against you and Reggie,
but he doesn't want
to, you hear me?
He just wants to get his
things and get outta there.
So let's just do this
as soon as possible.
- Fine by me.
We never wanted him
in the first place.
- It's the other way around.
You don't deserve him.
But you have two choices:
I can come by with
Steve and get his stuff
and you can sign the papers and
relinquish the guardianship,
or I can call the police on
you and have you both arrested.
- Fine.
- I'm glad we
understand each other.
We'll be there in 30 minutes.
Have his things ready.
Mrs. Robinson please?
- They're over there.
- Mrs. Robinson, I'll have
you sign these papers,
and once you do that,
consider this matter closed.
- Why you don't waits
till I gets home?
- For what?
So they can lie to you again
and you can beat me some more?
- Nobody touched
nobody around here.
- Really?
Look at my face.
No more.
- Oh, yeah?
So you's a man now, that's it?
- I've always been a man.
You just never noticed.
- Mrs. Robinson, this
isn't productive having...
Hey, Steve, get your things.
We're gonna leave now.
- He's not taking
any out this house
until he pays for
what he breaks!
- Now, we talked
about this, Mrs. Robinson.
I thought you said everything
was gonna be all right.
- They've never given me
anything worth keeping anyway.
But I am taking my books.
- Okay, kid.
- Come out here!
Come on, come out now.
I'm not afraid of you.
Come on, fight me!
- Ready, kid?
- Yeah.
- Get the hell outta here!
We never wanted you
in the first place.
You were never family.
We could've adopted
you a long time ago,
but we didn't want you!
Nobody wants you!
Not even your own parents!
You gonna be no
good, you hear me?!
No good!
- You stopped being able
to hurt me a long time ago.
- Come on, it's
time to go, Steve.
- God's gonna take care of you.
- You okay, man?
- Never been better.
- Okay, now, we just need
you to find a place to stay.
No, I understand.
No, I do. Thank you.
If anything changes, can you...
You got my number.
You can't do anything?
Thanks for trying.
No, I understand.
Thank you.
No, thank you.
Let me know if anything
changes, all right?
No one.
It's Friday night, I
guess I waited too long.
Can you think of anybody?
A relative or a friend you
could stay through the weekend,
so we can find a more
permanent place for you?
- This might be a long shot,
but there's this teacher from
the Upward Bound Program.
Mr. John Sykes.
- John Sykes.
- So, Mike, you hungry?
I mean, you sure
you don't want any?
I make plenty.
- Nah, I'm fine, thank you.
- Okay.
Hey, kiddo.
It's better than it looks.
- I would hope so.
- It's getting late.
My wife's gonna kill me.
If I could just have you sign
a couple of these
temporary custodial forms,
and we'll be good to go.
- All right, what do you
say we go to my office.
I got a pen in there
and some questions I
wanna ask you, okay?
- You have some questions?
- Yeah.
- Okay.
- Hey, we'll
be right back, okay?
- Okay.
- And don't
leave town, all right?
- This way.
- All right.
I'm gonna go, Steve.
I'll talk to you on Monday and
see if we can get something
a little more permanent
for you, okay?
I almost forgot my bags.
Must be getting tired.
- Thanks a lot, Mike.
- Yeah.
Okay, I'll talk
to you on Monday.
- Thought it was
in here somewhere.
Got it.
- John, did you use that cot
at the Battle of Gettysburg
or the Battle of
the Little Bighorn?
- Uh.
Yeah, both, if you
really wanna know.
So, look, I'm sorry.
I don't have a lot of
guests, you know, stay over.
We'll find a better
place for you
to sleep in the morning, okay?
- This, this is fine, John.
Thank you.
I'm really glad to be here.
I'm really glad.
- I'm really glad too.
Hey, come here.
Come on, let's give it a try.
There you go.
Lay down there.
All right.
From my Civil War days.
You know what they say.
There you go, Stephen.
- This will be great.
- I did not sleep
my first night of freedom.
Rather, a half moon illuminated
the world outside the window
and I stood there for
many hours taking it in.
For the first time all day,
I was alone with my thoughts.
I can't explain it, but for me,
it was a new world
with a new promise,
but it also held far too
many unanswered questions
about a family I never knew.
And it was time
for this new world
to answer those questions.
- My mother's name was Marian.
- Up and at 'em, sport!
I've created us both a
favor not to miss breakfast.
There's this great
waffle house...
What is it? You okay?
- John.
- Yeah?
- My mother's name was Marian.
- Uh-huh.
- She's dead.
- It's okay.
Remember what I promised?
It's all gonna be okay.
- And I would be.
Despite Mike Silvia and
Holly Holt's best efforts,
the weekend turned into a
week, and the week into two.
After a few weeks together,
John invited me to stay
with him permanently
and finish high school.
The Department of
Social Services
agreed to this arrangement.
I would come to terms
with my mother being gone.
I was glad I had taken those
few pages, for until then,
I'd always wondered why
my mother had left me.
The picture the pages painted
was far different from
what I had imagined.
It was not an unloving
mother who had left me,
rather, a woman who
had been victimized
by her circumstances in
a series of violent men,
and who would eventually succumb
to an ongoing battle
with alcoholism.
She died a little
over three years
after I moved into
my first foster home.
So while my dream of
a mother was gone,
I still clung to a fantasy
of finding out who my
biological father was,
but fate had now given me
John to fill that role.
Never before had I been loved
so immediately and unreservedly.
I enjoyed the consistent
support of not only John
but of his parents,
Theresa and John Senior,
who insisted I call them
Grandma and Grandpa Sykes.
Miss Holt and Mike Silvia
would continue to check
on me through the years,
but now, it was
not for my safety,
rather, it was to see
how I was doing in school
or check on my progress
towards my goal of college.
With John's help, and
the help of Mrs. Dottin,
I would complete the
Upward Bound Program
and be accepted into Boston
College on a full scholarship.
Yet despite all the good
things that life was giving me,
I was never fully free
from endless thoughts
about the birth family
I'd never known,
especially on my frequent
and solitary bike rides.
My favorite spot to ride
was around Buttonwood Park.
These rides, in the
beauty of the park,
gave me time to reflect on
the young boy that I once was,
the man I was so
trying to become.
And so I would sit in this
sanctuary listening to the wind
rushing through the trees
in a natural harmony,
staring at a lake
whose origins appeared
as deep and
mysterious as my own.
I had fought through
seemingly endless suffering
on the unyielding belief
that one day my family
would come and rescue me,
but they never did.
And though the tide had turned,
I still longed for
my own history.
The still water
seemed to answer me.
"This is your fate.
"You survived.
"You have yourself now,
and that has to be enough."
But it was not.
There was one thing left to do.
- Yeah, just, if you can
get me that file, all right?
Thank you.
Hey, Steve.
- Mike.
- What's up, kid?
You all right?
- Yeah.
Mike, can we talk?
- Sure.
- Mike.
In my file, does it
say who my father is?
- Steve, you know I can't
discuss that with you.
- But I'm entitled to know.
- If there was a definitive
answer to that question,
department would've
tracked him down
to discuss him taking
custody of you.
- So that's a no.
- I mean, a more definitive
answer would be a blood test
or maybe a statement
from your mother, but...
- But she passed away.
- Yeah.
I figured that's where
those pages went.
Steve, you're really
too young, legally,
for me to answer that question.
I can lose my job.
You know what I mean?
- Yeah.
- But if there was
an investigation,
it would be in your file.
Right? Like I said.
And it wouldn't be definitive,
but there would be a list
of people they interviewed,
phone numbers, possible
people that knew your father,
your real father.
Wanna soda?
- But--
- I'm gonna grab a Coke.
I'm gonna go down the
hall, like, one minute.
Wanna Coke?
- Yes, please.
- And my file will be
here when I get back, huh?
- Yeah, Mike.
- For what?
Don't mention it.
- She didn't lie.
- Gerri!
- Hi, I'm Steve.
- I know who you are.
She's this way.
Now, you're gonna have
to give her some time.
- I still can't believe it.
You're a spitting image of him.
- You have my eyes.
- Oh, about half of us do.
Your grandmother
was Cape Verdean.
- What was he like?
- You mean besides thinking
he could walk on water?
He had a terrible
street reputation,
but, to me, he was just my
mischievous little brother.
I loved that boy.
And Mama, oh, she
loved that boy.
She doted on him.
Was 13 children in all.
Our older brother, Gordon,
he passed when he was eight.
We had a lot of hard times.
Now, some of the younger kids
was put in a orphanage and...
They would later grow
up in foster homes.
Daddy left after the fire,
Mama died at 39,
and Kenny, he threw
himself into boxing.
Oh, but the draw of the
streets was too much for him.
Beyond marijuana and
selling and using heroin,
he robbed dealers
for his own use.
Said to me, "I'm hooked, Gerri!
"I'm trying to stop,
but it's hard."
They gonna shoot you
if you keep this up.
There was no talking to him.
Once he made his mind
up about something,
couldn't stop him.
I got a call in the
middle of the night.
It was from a hospital
in River Falls,
asking if I knew
a Kenny Pemberton.
Said they called me
because my number was the
only one he had in his wallet.
When I got to the hospital,
he was already gone.
They had a sheet over
him, except his face.
I could still see that bandana
he had tied around his head.
When I looked at
him, I hit the floor.
- You don't have to
keep talking about this.
- No, no, no, no.
You need to know this.
Have you been to his grave?
- No.
I don't even know
where he was buried.
- I'll have Manny take you.
I'm just gonna sit for a bit.
- Thank you.
- All the way to the end,
down a row right there.
I'll wait here.
- Mr. Gomes...
When I first came to your house
and you were talking to Gerri,
can I ask you what
you said to her?
- I told her Kenny's son
was across the street,
so she should sit down.
- I would spend several more
years trying to put together
the broken pieces of
my biological family.
I would find three
brothers and a sister,
I would have aunts and
uncles and a grandmother,
and we would become close.
But when I look back,
I now realize I did
have a family after all.
John Sykes, Mrs. Dottin,
Mike Silvia, Mrs. Levin,
they were my family
because they chose to be,
and I will be forever
grateful for that choice.
I would gladly not repeat
what I went through,
but I wouldn't change it either.
Hey there.
- Daddy, are you okay?
- I am now.
There comes a time that
you do have to fight,
and that fight is still in me.
I'm still fighting
against that prediction
made of me at one
and a half years old,
that I didn't have a
chance in the world.
That was my adversary,
and I wanted to defeat
it so convincingly
that no future
generation of Pembertons
would ever encounter
the likes of it again.
It ends and it
has ended with me.
I had that power, had that
ability, and so do you.