Convicts (1991) Movie Script

Don't let him get away.
Come on.
- Here. Come on now.
- Move it!
- Are you awake?
- I am now.
You hear them hounds?
They're running after that
convict that's trying to get away.
Reckon so.
Keep going, fellas!
Move it out, god damn it.
Hold on.
Come on, y'all.
God damn it! Move it out! I
don't want to lose that thing.
Come on now. Let's get him!
- They're shooting.
- I hear them.
- You think they killed him?
- God knows.
It's quiet now. Go back to sleep.
Asa, why aren't those convicts
out in the field working?
God only knows.
We'll head back to town as
soon as we finish up here.
- Give me a drink of that whiskey.
- As soon as I've finished.
Before we go back to town, I have
to stop by my papa's plantation.
What for?
I like to check on things
out there when he's gone.
- Look at that guard over there.
- What's going on around here?
I expect we'll be coming out here
before too long for Uncle Soll's funeral.
Well, the old buzzard can't
last many more Christmases.
Well, you've been saying that
for the last five Christmases.
I'll go see if he's inside.
Don't be long.
Mr. Soll.
Nowhere around.
Goddamn Christmas will
be ruined for sure now.
I'll be right out.
Hurry up now.
- Martha.
- Good morning, Mr. Billy.
- Where is Horace?
- He's gone fishing.
- Where is Mr. Soll?
- He's around someplace.
He sent for the sheriff.
One of them convicts killed
another one and run off.
They got the rest locked
up there in the quarters...
to keep them from fighting
amongst themselves.
Is that why it's so quiet around
here? No one out in the fields.
I thought maybe he gave the convicts
the day off because of Christmas Eve.
You know Mr. Soll don't
give nobody no time off.
He'll work them Christmas
Day, too. Always has.
The only reason that they
ain't out in the fields now...
is so the trouble won't spread.
Oh, my God. I don't know what
Horace's people are thinking about...
letting him work out in
this godforsaken place.
Would you go see if
you could find him?
Yes, sir.
Martha, where the hell are you going?
- Trying to find Horace.
- What?
- You seen Horace?
- Not for a spell.
If you see him, tell him Mr. Billy Vaughn
is looking for him up there at the store.
You all right?
I can't find him. Ben
hasn't seen him either.
- Give me some more whiskey.
- That's all I have.
I'm going up to Uncle
Soll's and get me some more.
Horace, where you been?
I been down to the field where
they found the dead convict.
Well, Mr. Billy wants you to
go into Harrison for Christmas.
I won't leave until
Mr. Soll gets back.
He told me yesterday
that he'd pay me today.
And he told you the day before
that he'd pay you yesterday.
- Did he do it?
- No.
I wouldn't be wasting my breath
waiting on him to pay you today.
I don't want to go
until I get my money.
There's still no tombstone
on my daddy's grave...
and I want to make a
down payment on one.
It worries me to death that there's
still no tombstone on my daddy's grave.
- How much do you think one'd cost me?
- I don't know.
Ain't your folks gonna be angry if
you don't get home for Christmas Day?
- My folks don't care what I do.
- Yes, they do.
- Sure they do.
- No, they don't.
My daddy cared, but he's dead.
I saw the grave they buried
the murdered convict in.
They got no marker on
it. What was his name?
I don't know what his name is. I
don't be studying them convicts.
Coming, Ben.
I'm tired of waiting here. Take
the gun and watch him for a spell...
while I go inside. It won't be long.
Stay way over here out
the reach of his chain.
Whatever you do, don't let
him get a hold of that gun.
I won't.
What was the name of the
convict that was killed?
- I don't know.
- Think he knows?
I don't know.
Was there any prayers
said over his grave?
No, now you know Mr. Soll.
He ain't gonna have no prayer
said over no dead convict's grave.
Who'll say them? Mr. Soll?
Ain't no preacher out
here. Nobody but Mr. Soll...
and the Overseer and the guards
and you and me and the convicts.
You been out here a
long time, haven't you?
I was born out here.
Right at the end of slavery time.
My mama and papa are buried out here.
Our cabin used to
be right over yonder.
My mama and papa stayed on to work
for wages after the slavery time.
A lot of the old folks did.
When they commenced to die off...
Mr. Soll brought in the
convicts to work the place.
Can I talk to the convict?
I guess you can. He may
not want to talk to you.
Well, they chain us together
And we started cutting cane
I wish you were here Way back then...
Good morning, convicts.
I said good morning, god damn it.
Did any of you see Nancy?
I been looking all over this
damn plantation. I can't find her.
I wonder where the
hell she's gone to.
I been looking all morning.
Hey, convict...
you want a chew of tobacco?
Convict, you asleep?
If you're asleep, I won't bother you.
I ain't asleep.
It's too cold on this
ground to go to sleep.
- You want a chew of tobacco?
- Pass it along.
Throw me a knife.
I ain't got nothing to cut it with.
You'll have to bite it off.
I can't give you a knife.
My name's Horace. What's yours?
Leroy Kendricks.
A lot of Kendricks down in Kendleton.
Ever been to Kendleton?
I don't even know where it's at.
Everyone that lives there is colored.
I still ain't never been.
Where do you come from?
I come from down round Louisiana.
How'd you get up here?
I got into a fight with a man.
Cut him.
Anyway, they sentenced me to Retrieve
Prison Plantation on the Coast.
That's the worst place
I ever been in my life.
I heard that you could hire off to
work on plantations around here...
you know, to work out your fine.
So I asked them if I
could work out my fine.
And they sent me here.
Well, I hope Mr. Soll pays you.
How much is your fine?
About $500.
They pay me $7 a month or they pay
the State for me to pay off my fine.
- How long you been here?
- About a year.
How long are you gonna have to work
at $7 a month to pay off your fine?
- I don't know. They didn't tell me.
- Didn't you figure it out?
Figure it out?
How am I supposed to figure it out?
- Just figure it out.
- I don't know how.
- Didn't you go to school?
- No.
I ain't never been to no school.
I'm doing some figuring in my head.
Comes to almost six
years to pay off $500.
- It's gonna be more than that now.
- What do you mean?
I done killed me a man now.
What was his name?
Jesse what?
Jesse Wilkes.
Got a brother here, too.
Brother say that he gonna kill me
if the white sheriff don't kill me.
Are you scared of him?
- No.
- What's his name?
Name is Sherman.
Sherman Edwards.
How can they be brothers if
one's Edwards and one's Wilkes?
They got the same mama, but
they got a different daddy.
- He got a white man for a Daddy.
- Who does?
Sherman Edwards.
See, now that's why he's so
mean. It's the white blood in him.
See, now he kill you,
too, if he had the chance.
Being as he is. He
don't like white people.
I asked him, I say...
"How come you don't like white people
when you're half white yourself?"
But he didn't answer that.
He just cussed me.
You give me that knife, I
just might cut my own throat.
Save somebody else the trouble.
Can you give me that knife?
- Give me another chew of tobacco?
- Sure.
Keep it.
If I gave you this knife...
would you really try
and kill yourself?
Give it to me and see.
I couldn't kill myself.
Well, you ain't waiting in
chains for no white sheriff.
I couldn't do that.
I'm afraid to die.
You're not afraid of dying?
Where you going?
Just going over there. To say
a prayer over Jesse's grave.
- Dib, take the sheriff's horse.
- Yes, sir.
The convict's over
yonder by the tree.
Leroy, do you know the Lord's Prayer?
- No.
- I've forgotten the last part of it.
- Ben, do you know the Lord's Prayer?
- Yes, I do.
What comes after "forgive
us our trespasses"?
No, I can't say it that way.
Got to start from the beginning.
"Our Father who art in
Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
"Thy kingdom come, thy
will be done on earth...
"Forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those...
"who trespass against us..."
- There he is. Sheriff. Right there.
- You the one? Who got the keys?
Right here.
Ben, how many throats did
this devil slit last night?
Only one, sir.
- But was he colored or white?
- They all colored, sir.
Now get up or I'll kill you.
Mr. Soll?
You told me yesterday that
you'd pay me my wages today, sir.
You work for me?
Now you know, Mr.
Soll, he works for you.
- Did I ask you a question?
- No, sir.
Then you keep quiet until I do.
- Shoot.
- Why do you say that?
'Cause I'm disgusted.
This poor boy out here working to get
a tombstone for his daddy's grave...
and he been here six months and
you ain't paid him nothing yet.
Go up to the house in
a while. I'll pay you.
Think he's gonna do it?
I wouldn't waste holding
my breath if I was you.
Lord Jesus, have mercy, God.
Lord, they killing each other.
Someday all of them convicts gonna get
loose and we're gonna all be killed.
Get your shovel. Go
dig a grave for him.
I'll send Jackson
over there to help you.
Boy, you go watch the body
until we get his grave dug.
- Sir, I wouldn't care to see him right now.
- Why?
Because he's dead, sir.
You never seen a dead man before,
boy? Nothing to worry yourself about.
Sir, I just don't want to see him...
- Suppose I told you, you had to do it, boy.
- He don't have to do it. I'll do it.
What're you doing here? You're supposed
to be cooking my Christmas dinner.
This ain't Christmas Day yet.
- What the hell day is it?
- It's Christmas Eve.
All right.
Lord. Jesus.
That convict tried
to kill me, you know.
- Which one?
- The one the sheriff just shot.
- He really dead, Martha?
- Yes, sir.
- The white one or colored one?
- You saw him.
Well, I forget.
Come see for yourself.
I forget.
He tried to kill me, he did.
He won't have a chance anymore.
Colored or white. Crazy old fool.
Lord, you know.
Martha, you afraid of dying?
No, I ain't afraid of it.
Just not ready to go yet.
- Where is Mr. Soll?
- He's over there by the body.
- He says he tried to kill him.
- Might have.
Jackson, he listens to you.
Tell him to give me my money.
- He don't listen to me.
- Jackson!
Tell Martha to get in the house and
start cooking my Christmas dinner.
- You hear that, Martha?
- Tell him today ain't Christmas.
She say today ain't Christmas.
- Did you bury him?
- Yes, I did.
Right next to the
other convicts' graves.
Mr. Soll say any convicts
that die gets buried out here.
He don't want them next
to his peoples' graves.
I don't want them next
to mine. In my graveyard.
My mama and papa buried out there.
My sister's buried out
there. And her baby.
Howdy, Mr. Billy.
Good morning, Mr. Soll.
- Is he dead?
- Dead drunk.
Who's that on the ground?
Mr. Billy Vaughn. He's drunk.
I thought he was
another dead convict.
- Lot of them out here now.
- How many?
God knows. Always room for
one more, though, ain't it?
I'm a convict, you know. They made me
a trustee so I can walk about free...
but I'm still a convict.
- Is that a convict?
- No.
- Who the hell is it?
- Who it look like?
Wake up, Billy.
The son of a bitch is
drunk. Billy's drunk.
- Where you taking him to?
- Over to the house.
Did Overseer get them convicts back
out in the field like I told him to?
- All but one.
- Why isn't he out in the fields?
- He's sick.
- What the hell's wrong with him?
I don't know. You have to ask him.
Boy, come here.
Tell that Overseer to get that
convict out in the field with the rest.
- Yes, sir.
- Don't go over there.
What'd you say, woman?
I told him not to go over
where them convicts live.
- Let Jackson, Ben go over there.
- I'll go, god damn it.
Then you go over there.
You think I'm scared of
any goddamn sick convict?
I'm scared of no goddamn convict,
sick or well. I'll go over there.
- He ain't gonna be sick long now.
- Which one is it?
The brother to the
one that got killed.
- What if he is sick?
- Ain't gonna help him.
Gonna have to work out in
the fields just the same.
Mr. Soll didn't bring
him here to get sick.
- You know Mr. Billy Vaughn's divorced?
- Yes.
What happens if you're not
divorced, but your first wife dies...
and then you marry again?
When you go to heaven, which
woman do you claim as your wife?
I don't know.
Take Sherman Edwards.
He's got a white daddy
and a colored mama.
Now when they all go to heaven
together, what's gonna happen?
How would I know all that, Horace?
I worry about things like this.
'Cause my daddy died and now my
mama's married to another man.
Got to wondering last night, who's
gonna be her husband in heaven.
Kept me awake half the night.
Read the Bible. All that's
in the Bible someplace.
Keep moving.
I love pecan pie.
There's a boy out here says I owe
him some money, Ben. You pay him.
What am I gonna pay him
with? I have no money.
- Take it out of the cash at the store.
- What cash?
You know everybody's been
buying on credit since October.
- Everybody?
- How else they gonna buy?
- I got a lot of money, you know.
- I know you do.
- Where'd the hell I put my money?
- I don't know, sir.
When you find it, or I find it...
I'm gonna pay the boy.
Now you tell him that.
- You tell him. There he is right there.
- Where?
Right there.
Where's Nancy?
She dead, sir. She been
dead more than 15 years now.
- Where's Julia?
- She's dead, too. She been dead.
- Where's Sarah?
- She dead, too, sir.
Who the hell's out here?
Just you and me and the boy here
and Martha and the Overseer...
and the guards and the convicts.
- Where's my gun?
- I don't know, sir.
- Get it for me.
- I don't know where it is, sir.
- You got a gun?
- Yes, sir.
- Get it for me.
- Yes, sir.
- I'm going hunting.
- Yes, sir.
I wouldn't go hunting today if
I was you. It's Christmas Eve.
I don't care the hell what
day it is, I'm going hunting.
Yes, sir.
- Where is Jackson?
- I don't know, sir.
I'll put the lazy son of a bitch back on
the chain gang if he ain't careful, you hear?
Ben, get out here. Martha, come here.
Merry Christmas.
- What's this?
- Christmas gift.
That's Confederate money.
Ain't gonna buy you nothing.
Better hold on to it. Never can tell.
Who the hell are you?
Horace Robedaux, sir.
- How old are you?
- Thirteen, sir.
- Now, whose boy are you?
- Why, you know who he is, Mr. Soll.
- His daddy is dead, sir.
- Let him answer.
- Your daddy's dead?
- Yes, sir.
What was his name?
Paul Horace Robedaux, sir.
I knew the bastard. He
wasn't worth killing.
He was my brother's lawyer.
He helped my brother cheat me.
How did you get out here?
Mr. Albert Thornton is his uncle.
He come out here in the fall...
to help him with the store when
the crops come in. You know that.
- Where's Albert?
- He's in town.
- What the hell's he doing in town?
- He talked to you about it.
Thing's are so slow in
the store here now...
and the few customers there
are, the boy can take care of.
I don't want him here. I don't want
Paul Horace Robedaux's boy on this place.
Take him to my brother's place. He'll
take care of him. I don't want him.
- Your brother's in New Orleans.
- Take him back to town, god damn it.
He didn't mean that. He's just drunk.
He say anything when he's drunk.
He be over his drunk tomorrow.
- Now, who the hell are you?
- Horace, sir.
Oh, yes.
What was your daddy's name?
Paul Horace. Paul Horace Robedaux.
- I knew him. He's dead.
- Yes, sir.
- I have a brother. You ever meet him?
- No, sir.
He has a place next to mine,
only we don't get along here.
Mean, no-good bastard.
You know what my daddy said
to me just before he died?
No, sir.
He called me and said,
"Everybody else out of the room.
"Soll," he said, "sit down.
"Now watch out for that
son of a bitch Tyre.
"He'll steal you blind.
He's a rattlesnake.
"He has venom in his fangs."
That's what his own
daddy thought about him.
- You want some whiskey?
- No, sir.
I was just about to come up to
the house looking for you, sir.
You said if I come up there
in a bit, you'd pay me.
Pay you for what?
For working for you, sir.
You work for me?
Yes, sir. Here in your store.
- How old are you?
- Thirteen.
Then you should pay me for
letting you work out here.
You should pay me for letting
you learn how to run a store.
Yes, sir. I suppose so.
But you agreed.
I agreed to nothing.
Yes, sir. You did. You said
you'd pay me 50 cents a week.
And I've been here six months
and you ain't paid me nothing yet.
You owe me $12.50.
You said you'd pay me that on
Christmas Eve. And that's today.
- Before that you said you'd pay me...
- Hold on.
I must've been drunk.
I remember you now, boy.
You came out here to earn the money
for your daddy's tombstone, right?
Yes, sir.
Your daddy was no good, Albert says.
Mistreated your
mother. Died a drunkard.
"Why does he want to put a tombstone
on the bastard's grave?" I asked him.
"That's how the boy is,"
he says. "He's strange."
"He'll get over that," I says.
"Some woman will help
him get over that."
You ever had a woman?
No, sir.
We're gonna have to do
something about that.
- Chewing tobacco?
- Yes, sir.
Come on. Give me a chew. Right here.
My daddy, God rest his soul in
peace, turned out to be a prophet.
But my brother Tyre is a liar,
a thief, and he's a killer.
I hope his soul rots in hell forever.
He got a bitch of a daughter, too.
She's up there at my house
now and I know what she wants.
To know how I made out my will.
Every now and then she says, "Who you
gonna leave all this to, Uncle Soll?"
- Can you write?
- Yes, sir.
Get a pencil and a piece of
paper. Take down what I tell you.
All my land. Everything.
- Ready?
- Yeah.
"I, Soll Gauthier...
"on my oath...
"I leave my land, my houses..."
Who am I gonna leave it to?
Everybody who's kin to me is dead
except Tyre and two ugly old daughters.
You have a brother?
No, sir. I have a sister.
Get down on your knees, and
thank God you got no brother.
'Cause they steal everything you got.
They cut your heart out
and smile all the while.
Thank you, God. We thank you, God.
- Thank you, God.
- Yeah.
You're a good boy.
Come on.
I'm going hunting. Come on with me.
Give me the gun. There's
a damn bear over there.
- No, sir. There's no bear...
- Yeah, there is, too.
And I'm gonna kill
the son of a bitch.
- I kill it?
- I don't know, sir.
Go see. Go on.
I get it?
Is Sarah Duncan still on the place?
- Sarah who?
- Sarah Duncan.
Is she the one you
asked Ben about earlier?
Ben who?
Ben Johnson. Lives up at the store.
I don't know if I
asked him that or not.
She's a small woman.
No more than five feet.
Where's her house? It was
out this way someplace.
- Well, it's not out here now.
- It's not.
If she's the one you asked
Ben about, she's dead.
- She is?
- Yup.
Nobody out here now
but you, me, and Ben...
and Martha, the convicts
and the guards...
and the Overseer and Jackson.
Who the hell is Jackson?
Well, he's the one who stays
up at the house with you.
What kind of tombstone you have
in mind for your daddy's grave?
Just a small one.
What the hell you
want a small one for?
See the one I put
on my daddy's grave?
It's the biggest goddamn
tombstone ever made.
It's got angels all over it.
Two women crying.
Come here.
Look. See, there's eight
tombstones on that graveyard.
- Now which do you like best?
- There are no tombstones over there.
You don't see any tombstones?
No, sir. There are none there.
Who the hell took them away?
Who the hell stole them?
Damn convicts. They steal everything.
Even the tombstone
off my daddy's grave.
No, sir. That's the convicts'
grave. That's not your graveyard.
- Where the hell's my graveyard?
- That's over yonder.
Yeah? Then let's go
find the goddamn place.
What are you shooting at now, sir?
Convicts. I'm gonna kill
all of them convicts.
I'm gonna have a sure enough
convict graveyard out here.
Shoot you a convict?
Go on.
- How many we kill?
- I don't know, sir.
- A lot?
- Yeah, I guess so, sir.
Uncle Soll?
What y'all shooting at?
First he said he was shooting
at bears, and then convicts.
There ain't any bears or convicts.
Tried to keep him from laying on the
cold damp ground, but he wouldn't listen.
Mr. Soll.
Get up now. You'll catch
your death, Mr. Soll.
Damn convicts take all them
tombstones off the graves.
Now they're coming to kill me.
Stay with him while I go get Jackson.
- Get up, Sherman.
- He ain't fooling.
He's sick. He ought to
go back to the bunkhouse.
Him go back when we
go back. Pick him up.
Who's buried here? Who
the hell am I sitting on?
I think that's the convict that
the Sheriff shot this morning, sir.
I know who I'm sitting on.
- Sir?
- I know.
I think his name is Leroy, sir.
I know who it is. It's
a woman named Verna.
I know who it is.
You crazy son of a bitch.
Where are you hiding?
Uncle Soll!
- Where you taking me?
- Up to the house.
I'm going hunting.
How'll you hunt as drunk as you
are? You're getting put to bed.
No, I'll be goddamned
if I'm gonna be.
Come near me, I'll kill
you. Get out of here!
Stay away from me.
Go on.
I want the white boy to stay. He's
the only one around here I trust.
Don't cross him when he's
drunk. Go ahead. Stay with him.
- I'm scared of him.
- He ain't gonna hurt you. Just go ahead.
He's too drunk to pull the trigger
on that damn gun. Now go ahead.
- What's your name again?
- Horace, sir.
What are you crying for?
- I'm scared, sir.
- What are you scared of?
I don't know, sir.
You scared the convicts
will get loose one night?
Help me up.
Come over there and kill you?
I don't know, sir.
What are you scared of then?
A lot of things, sir.
Come here. You're a good boy.
Merry Christmas!
Tyre's wife is a jackass. "I want
my girls to be educated," she said.
"Everybody should be educated, no
matter what color their skin is."
"What for?" I said. "I ain't
educated. Your husband ain't.
"We knew enough to come here...
"get a hold of 8,000 acres of the
richest land in the whole goddamn world.
"We can grow three
crops a year here."
Albert says you came
out here to work.
So you could buy a tombstone
for your daddy's grave.
Yes, sir.
Well, I'm gonna buy it for you.
I'm gonna buy the biggest
goddamn tombstone in Texas.
I'll put angels on it. And
two Confederate veterans.
Was your daddy a Confederate veteran?
No, he was born after the war.
I was a veteran. I fought in
every goddamn battle they'd let me.
What were we talking about?
- A tombstone for my daddy's grave.
- Yeah.
I'll put "Rest In Peace" on it
and three verses from the Bible.
Have you seen the tombstones
I had put up out here?
No, sir.
Tomorrow first thing, I'll take
you over to my family graveyard.
You pick out the tombstone you
like and I'll have it copied...
put it on your daddy's grave.
Over yonder, that's all my
land out there, see. All mine.
Hold this.
- You know my brother Tyre?
- I've seen him.
Accused me of cheating him.
"Why would I cheat you," I said. "I
got all the land and money I want."
"Give me half and you take half," he said.
"My wife is against working convicts."
Then I said, "You'll
never get the work done."
Took him two years to find out.
Next thing I heard, he
had his own convicts.
Who's that over there
crossing the back field?
Merry Christmas.
Uncle, you want any supper?
- No.
- It's Christmas Eve.
I don't give a goddamn what day it
is. If I wanted supper, I'd tell you.
- Where you going?
- I'm going hunting.
What are you going hunting
for this time of day?
Convicts. There's three
of them that have escaped.
- There's no damn convicts loose.
- And you're a goddamn liar.
And you're crazy.
You drunk so much whiskey,
it finally made you crazy.
And you're a whore.
My brother said, "You son of a bitch,
you're childless. I have two daughters."
"Two whores," I said. "Two
no-good, sluttish whores!"
You! Leave him alone.
I hope he broke his goddamn
neck. Did you hear me?
I hope you broke your goddamn neck.
You'll get nothing of mine.
Ben and Martha are to have it
all. Are there witnesses here?
Who wants any of your goddamn land?
I have all the goddamn land I want.
Ben and Martha.
Faithful and trustworthy.
The convicts are all around.
Hand me my gun, please.
Allow me to defend myself.
Don't leave me here alone,
defenseless, to have my throat cut.
I sleep with my gun beside me.
Now, where's that boy?
Where's that white boy?
Come here. Don't leave me.
Tomorrow first thing, we'll
go to my family graveyard...
and pick out the tombstone
you like. I'll have it copied.
Put on your daddy's grave.
What's your name, boy?
- Horace, sir.
- Oh, yeah.
You're going to sleep in my room tonight.
I'll have my gun and you'll have yours.
No damn convicts will
get near us, right?
Mr. Soll wants you up at the house.
- Is he gonna give him his money?
- Jackson didn't say.
He just said that he wouldn't give him
any peace until he got him up there.
Better go on, Horace.
- Well, let him finish his supper first.
- Come on now.
What happened? Did he die on you?
Horace, over here!
Coming, Jackson.
Come on.
He's asleep now.
Every time he wakes up, he
ask for you to come over.
He's driving me crazy asking
for you to come over here.
He says he wants a white
person with him when he dies.
Where are Miss Asa and Mr. Billy?
They went over to her daddy's place.
Is he dying?
That's what he says.
But I don't believe him.
I've heard it all before.
Don't leave, Jackson. I don't
wanna be here alone when he dies.
He's not gonna die.
He just talks about it.
Too mean to die.
- I don't want to die, do you?
- No.
I was thinking coming up here...
of that convict, Leroy,
dying this morning.
He said it meant nothing to him.
I was thinking, when I die, maybe
I can go to Heaven and see my daddy.
But as much as I would like to see him,
I wouldn't want to have to die to do it.
Here's another one for you, Ben.
Billy, wake up. We're at papa's.
There. Cobb!
Ya'll come on and help me
get Billy into the house.
He's passed out again, Cobb.
You got him there?
That white boy's here.
Tell him to come in
where I can see him.
Did they tell you I was dying?
Yes, sir.
Has anyone sent for a
doctor to come see me?
Miss Asa said she's gonna send a
doctor when she got back to town.
She's a damn liar. She
won't send nobody out here.
She wants to see me dead so she
can claim all this for herself...
and her no-good father.
There were three of us
Gauthier boys, you know.
There was Tyre, Melvin and me.
Tyre poisoned Melvin, you know.
At least, he had him poisoned.
Paid a man to mix some jimsonweed
in his food and he poisoned him.
He denied it of course, up
and down. But I know he did it.
'Cause I have it carved
right on Melvin's tombstone.
"Poisoned by his brother Tyre...
"whose motive was greed."
Come closer, boy. Come
over here. Sit here.
I'm dying. Did they tell you that?
Yes, sir.
You ever watch an old man die?
No, sir.
Promise you won't leave me alone after
I die till they get me in my coffin.
'Cause there are wild
varmints out here.
I knew a man that died out here.
They went off and
left his body alone...
while they went for the coffin
or the preacher or something.
Then they came back to the body...
and the varmints had come
and tore it all apart.
What kind of varmints?
I don't know. Wildcats.
Wolves. God knows what all.
Don't let that happen to me.
No, sir.
If I fall asleep, don't leave
me, you hear? Don't leave me.
No, sir.
- Jackson.
- Yes, sir.
- Convicts all quiet?
- Yes, sir. Been quiet.
Before daybreak, go down there and tell
the Overseer I want them convicts...
to make a coffin for
me, if I'm dead or not.
Yes, sir.
When you reach my time of life,
you better have your coffin handy.
And when it's made, I want
you to put it under my bed.
And if you can't get it under
my bed, I want it beside it.
Yes, sir.
Jackson, you were a
convict, weren't you?
Yes, sir. You know that.
- What'd they send you to the pen for?
- Killed a man.
- Wasn't a white man, I hope.
- No, sir.
- Was it a nigger, a colored man?
- Yes, sir.
What'd you kill him for?
'Cause he killed my only brother.
Took a club and clubbed him to death.
Then took his body into
the house and burned it up.
- The house, too?
- Yes, sir.
Whose house was it? His
house or your brother's house?
My brother's house.
- How long they give you for?
- Life.
- Well, how old were you at the time?
- Nineteen.
- Well, how old are
you now? - Fifty-five.
You know how old I am?
No, sir.
How old were you when you
came to work on this place?
How long have you been a trustee?
Eight years. Ever since you killed
that convict in the closet over there.
You said you wanted someone you could
trust to guard you while you slept.
And can I trust you?
Yes, sir. I hope so. I believe so.
I believe so, too.
I'll tell you what.
- I'm gonna leave everything I got to you.
- Thank you.
I don't want you to wait till dawn.
I want you to go out there now and get
the convicts to make my coffin for me.
Now, wait, Jackson. Is that
your first name or your last?
- My first name.
- What's your last name?
- This is my will.
- Thank you.
Why'd that man kill your brother?
- I don't know.
- Well, how'd you kill him?
Shot him.
What, from an ambush or did you just
walk right up to him and kill him?
- I walked right up to him.
- Did you give him any warning?
I hollered for him to
run. I was gonna kill him.
Did he run?
No, sir. He tried to
take the gun from me.
- And you shot him then?
- Yes, sir.
- Did he have a gun on him?
- No, sir. Just a knife.
- You ever regret killing him?
- No, sir.
And you would kill him again if
you had it all to do over again?
- Yes, sir.
- You were fond of your brother?
Yes, sir.
Were you here...
when I shot that convict
who was hiding in the closet?
I was here on the place. But I
wasn't working directly for you then.
What was the name of
the convict I shot?
- Which one?
- The one in the closet.
Yes, sir.
What was his name?
Tucker. I'm not sure about that.
But I remember what he looked like.
He was crippled 'cause he
had run away once before.
Got caught in a bear trap and broke
his leg. It never healed right.
So he limp walked
around here from then on.
Well, I walked.
What do you think he was
doing in that closet there?
You think he was waiting
in there to kill me?
- I don't know, sir.
- What's your opinion?
- Yes, sir.
- Yes, sir, what?
I think he was waiting
in there to kill you.
I think he was, too. I think he was.
Yes, sir.
You hear something in
that closet over there?
- No, sir.
- Well, I do.
Come out of there, you dirty
son of a bitch, you hear me?
I'll give you one more
chance. Come on out of there.
I warned you.
Go see if I killed anything in there.
I don't see nothing, sir.
How can you tell?
Go in there and look.
- There's nothing here, sir.
- Look again.
God help me.
Thank you, Lena.
Where are you from?
I'm from Harrison.
What are you doing out here?
Working for you, sir, at the store.
You're white, aren't you?
Yes, sir.
Who's that old man?
That's you, sir.
We're the only two white people
between here and Harrison.
The only other ones are the
Overseer and the two guards.
The rest are convicts.
No, Ben and Martha aren't convicts.
- Where are they?
- Down at the store.
Are you the one I
promised a tombstone?
- Yes, sir.
- I haven't forgotten.
And I owe you money.
Yes, sir.
Soon as Jackson gets back I'm
gonna pay you what I owe you.
How much is it?
- $12.50?
- Yes, sir.
I'm gonna pay you $100,
maybe even $1,000...
for all your kindness to an old man.
You know how much my
daddy's tombstone cost?
$5,000. I brought it by
boat from New Orleans.
Used to be a woman
out here named Sarah.
You seen her lately?
No, sir. I believe she's dead.
How do you know that?
I heard Ben say it.
- Ben who?
- Ben Johnson.
He was born on this place.
- Talk up.
- No, sir! Jackson!
- Wasn't anything in the closet.
- No?
I swore I heard something in there.
Yes, sir.
Go get them to make
my coffin right now.
Go on.
Yes, sir.
I had a dream one night last week.
I had a dream that the convicts
got loose and they came over here...
and they caught me
here in this very chair.
And they shot Jackson,
and they bound me.
I don't remember if
they shot Jackson or not.
Part of the time it seemed
like Jackson was one of them.
Did you hear anything in
that closet over there?
No, sir.
Well, I did.
Come out of there, you
son of a bitch! I hear you!
I'll give you one more
chance to come out of there.
I warned you.
That got whoever was in there.
Go see who it was. Go on.
No, sir.
Are you scared?
Well, I'll go. Help me up.
I knew there was somebody in
here. I'll kill the son of a bitch.
There's blood every place.
He's a cripple.
What were we talking about?
Oh, yeah, about my dream.
I was sitting here and Jackson
came in with all them convicts.
I never saw so many.
And they grabbed me and Jackson
had a club and he began to club me.
I said, "Jackson, you're killing me."
Then all the convicts grabbed
clubs and began to beat me.
And Jackson set fire to the house.
I said, "Why did you do that?"
I swear, I said it.
He said, "We're gonna burn you
and all you got to the ground."
Get out of my damn chair. Get up. Go.
Here, that'll put hair on your chest.
- Where you been?
- I went to tell them about your coffin.
- Have they started?
- Yes, sir.
They making it out of cypress wood?
I don't know, sir.
- When it's finished will they bring it here?
- Yes, sir.
How long will that be?
They'll have it done in an hour.
I killed a man in the closet. It's
full of blood, so you go clean it up.
- Get Ben to help you bury the body.
- Yes, sir.
That was a convict.
So you bury him in the
convict's graveyard, you hear?
Yes, sir.
- He's a cripple.
- Yes, sir.
How many convicts we have out here?
I don't know, sir.
If I live, tomorrow I'm gonna
go out there and count them.
If I live.
- Nobody in that closet, sir.
- No?
No, sir.
- You see any blood?
- No, sir.
I saw a crippled convict lying there.
Blood over the walls and on
the floor. So, don't tell me.
This is my mama.
There's nothing in there.
- Who's that singing in there?
- I am.
Jackson, come here.
Sit down there.
What was my mama's name?
Any you all remember?
No, sir.
No, sir.
I think it was Erna.
She died when I was born.
My daddy raised me
and my two brothers.
It was my daddy's
idea to get convicts.
We tried after slavery
to have tenants out here.
We had 300 at one time
living on the place.
But we had a series of bad crop years
and we all nearly starved. So papa said...
"Get rid of the tenants
and hire yourself convicts."
And I did.
Now where is my mama buried?
Is she buried out here?
I don't know, sir.
I don't think she is.
I think one of them
convicts got loose...
and took a club, clubbed her to death
and burned her body up in the house.
The house we used to live
in burned to the ground.
That's why we never had
a picture of my mama.
'Cause all her letters and
pictures were burned in the fire.
Except this one.
Could somebody please tell
me where my mama's buried?
I don't know.
What's the boy's name?
Horace, sir.
Horace, come here to me. Come here.
Sit down here.
When I was your age...
this was all dense forest.
So thick a man or boy couldn't
get through without a cane knife...
to cut his way through, you see.
Besides the forest, there's something
out here I've seen no other place.
Miles of cane.
Cane that grew 10 and 12 feet high.
And so thick, you couldn't make
your way through without a knife.
And a cold spell would come...
kill the cane and it would lie rotting
on the ground until the spring...
and then a new crop would start up.
That's why they call this Cane Land.
- Did you know that?
- No, sir.
- Did you know that, Jackson?
- Yes, sir.
- Do you know any songs, Jackson?
- Yes, sir. I know some.
Do you know Golden Slippers?
- That's what I been humming.
- Get up here and sing it.
Golden slippers, golden slippers
Oh, them golden slippers
Oh, golden slippers Golden slippers
I don't remember the rest
of it. I know some hymns.
Don't sing them around
me. I can't bear.
Yes, sir.
And another thing. If I die, I
don't want any preacher near me.
Yes, sir. But who gonna pray over
you if you don't have a preacher?
I don't want anybody praying over me.
And I don't want my brother
here or any of his children.
Who you want then?
Just you and Ben and Martha.
And this boy here. And Sarah.
- Sarah can't be there.
- Why?
She's dead.
Don't you want any white
people there except Horace?
- Is the Overseer white?
- Yeah.
- And the two guards?
- Yeah.
They can come.
It'll not be much of a funeral.
You won't have a preacher...
you don't like hymns, what
kind of funeral will it be?
It's the kind I want.
Now go see how they getting
along with my coffin. Go on.
Yes, sir.
- That coffin about ready?
- Almost.
Did you know that boy Mr.
Albert Thornton brought out here?
Yes, sir.
- It was me.
- Was it?
- Yes, sir.
- You're the one whose daddy died?
My daddy's dead, too. Stroke.
He got so mad at them
convicts he had a stroke.
Fell over dead.
You think them bastards would
call out and tell us? No.
They went on working, left him lying
dead there in the cotton fields.
My daddy was 84 when he died.
How old was your daddy?
He was just 32.
Well, we all have to go sometime.
Is it daylight yet?
No, sir.
What time is it?
I don't know, sir.
I got a watch. Look and see there.
It says it's 11:00 p. m.
I think it's later than that, though.
Get out of the damn chair.
You hear something in
that closet in there?
- No, sir.
- I did.
Come out of there,
you son of a bitch.
You hear me? Give
you one more chance.
- You got a gun?
- No, sir.
What'll protect us now?
I need bullets for my gun.
Got your coffin.
Where do you want it?
Put it down here. Right here.
Jackson says that you worried
about this being mere cypress wood.
Well, it's made of
cypress wood all right.
Grab hold of the top of it, Jackson.
- Let me try it out, see if it fits.
- It's bound to fit.
Let me be the judge of that, Jackson.
My Confederate coat. Hold it.
Help me in there.
- Don't you want your trousers, too?
- No.
- Horace, you got a chew of tobacco?
- Sure.
I learned a long time ago.
Wait for your pillow.
Here. I got a knife.
- So what?
- Thanks.
You know the convict
that died last night?
The one that said he was too sick to
work? I guess he was telling the truth.
Was his name Sherman Edwards?
That's his name. Just
finished burying him.
Mr. Soll gone to
sleep in that coffin.
Maybe he's dead.
No, he just asleep.
He had a lot to drink, you know.
Well, I'm gonna go.
I'm wore out.
- Did you know Sherman Edwards?
- Sure. I know them all.
Ain't you sleepy?
Yes, I am.
Mr. Soll, can the boy
go on to sleep now?
You better come on back up here.
Mr. Soll is dead in his coffin.
He was all alone in
his coffin when he died.
He was. He better get used
to being alone in there.
He gonna be alone in
there for a long time.
- He dead. Old devil is dead.
- Is he?
He sure is. He gone.
I'm gonna have to go
get word to Miss Asa.
But he say he don't
want her at the funeral.
Nor his brother.
And he don't want a
preacher. Give me a hand here.
You gonna be the
one to tell her that?
Not me. I'm scared of her.
- I wonder what will happen to me.
- What do you mean?
I was paroled to him. They can
send me back to the pen now.
- Why don't you take off?
- Where am I gonna go?
I'm too old to run.
He was right and I was wrong.
He said he was gonna die and he did.
What time do you think
we ought to bury him?
I guess as soon as it's daylight.
Can't have much of a funeral cause he
don't want no hymns and no preacher.
I can say the Lord's Prayer.
- He didn't say I couldn't do that.
- No.
And you could testify.
- He didn't say you couldn't do that.
- No.
I could say that he always
worked hard. I can say that.
And I could say he let me be
a trustee. I could say that.
And he drank a lot of whiskey.
- You hear something?
- That was rats, I think.
This old house full of rats.
I heard something...
in that coffin.
Oh, my God. He's risen from the dead.
- We thought you was dead.
- I wasn't dead. I wasn't.
Maybe you thought I
was. I'm not dead yet.
Hand me my gun.
Sherman Edwards is dead.
Who the hell is Sherman Edwards?
Brother of that convict
got his throat cut.
- Somebody kill him?
- No, sir. He just died.
He told you he was too sick to
work, but you wouldn't believe him.
- Who buried him?
- I did. I bury them all.
- You thought you were going to bury me.
- Yes, sir. I did.
You think I was dead? I wasn't dead.
I'm never gonna die.
Tell them to take that
damn coffin out of here.
I changed my mind about
dying. Take it out.
Yes, sir.
I knew he wasn't dead.
I might outlive all of them people.
Asa and my devilish brother.
Ben and Jackson. All the damn
convicts. I might outlive them all.
- How old are you?
- Thirteen.
Maybe I ain't gonna outlive you.
Let me look at you.
I never married. I didn't have
no children I know of anyways.
- You got a daddy?
- No, sir.
- What happened to him?
- He died.
- You an orphan?
- No, sir. I have a mama.
Where the hell is she?
She's in Houston.
Be my boy.
A desert born.
One minute I think I'm gonna live.
The next minute, I'm gonna die.
Come closer to me now. Come here.
I got money.
Hidden in the back of
that closet in a suitcase.
Now go get it for me so I
can pay you what I owe you.
Reward you handsomely besides
for your kindness to an old man.
Which one?
The small one.
Bring it here.
- How much money you think I have here?
- I don't know, sir.
More than $10,000 last I
counted and you're to get half.
Now reach in there
and hand me the money.
There's no money in here, sir.
Don't lie to me, boy.
Don't try to fool me.
- I'm not lying to you, sir.
- Hand me that goddamn suitcase.
My God, I've been robbed.
Call Ben. Call Jackson.
Call the goddamn Overseer.
I want all of them
goddamn convicts searched.
Someone's robbed me of my
money. Come here! Boy, come here!
Don't leave me. Don't ever leave me.
I don't care about the goddamn money.
You don't leave me.
Anyway, the money wasn't
in the goddamn suitcase.
I just remembered
I buried that money.
Out there in one of
them convict's graves.
Call Ben.
Ben, do you know which convict's
grave I hid the money in?
I'm gonna pay this
boy what I owe him.
No, sir.
- Do you read?
- Yes, sir.
Get that paper over there.
Read me the news.
This is an old paper.
It's dated 1865.
It says "Texas can't
come back into the Union."
- Because it was in the Confederacy.
- Oh, yes.
Read it to me.
"Yesterday, Gen. Gordon Granger of
the Union Army took possession...
"of Texas from Confederate
Lt. Gov. Fletcher Stockdale."
Come closer to me.
Don't let them bury
me with my own family.
Because my brother and his daughter
are going to be buried there.
And I don't want to be
buried by them or near them.
I'd rather have convicts near
me than that stinking bunch.
"The General, speaking to a subdued
crowd at Galveston's City Hall said...
"'Texas can't come
back into the Union.'
"Rights of the citizenship are
offered only to those individuals...
"who do not own property
exceeding the value of $20,000...
"or possessing more
than 100 bales of cotton.
"Meanwhile, 52,000 troops under
the command of Gen. Sheridan...
"dispersed throughout the state and along
the border to enforce martial order...
"and to restore the authority of the
United States over the territory of Texas.
"Gen. Granger..."
Mr. Soll.
He dead.
He dead for sure.
There'll be no more hollering
and cussing from him now.
Is that all there is to
dying? Your breath just stops?
Yes. When you go like that.
Do you think Mr. Soll minded dying?
I don't know.
- Do you think my daddy minded dying?
- I don't know.
Ben, he won't let me go.
He minded dying.
I think he minded
it in the worst way.
I think he did, too.
And I think my daddy did.
That's what worries me.
- Go get Jackson.
- No. I think you better go.
I promised Mr. Soll to sit by
him with the gun after he died...
- till we got him in his coffin.
- Don't let that bother you.
Look at all the things he promised
you. He didn't keep one of them.
No. But I'd like to keep
mine. It'd make me feel better.
How much did the devil owe you?
One time he said he'd pay me
$500, then $1,000, then $5,000...
and a tombstone for my daddy's grave.
He said a lot of things.
He was always making promises.
And Miss Asa gonna
get it all. You'll see.
Miss Asa!
They upstairs, sleeping
off their drunk.
- Tell Miss Asa I need to see her.
- Why?
Mr. Soll is dead.
I need to know where
she want him buried at.
I hope we're doing right, burying him
out here instead of with his people.
Well, he said he want
to be buried here.
That's all we have to go on.
He sure has a pretty
day for his funeral.
- Anybody else coming, you think?
- No. This is all there's gonna be.
Miss Asa, she wouldn't want to come.
She don't care what we do
with him. Bury him here...
or throw him in the
creek. She don't care.
Mr. Billy's still drunk.
Overseer don't want to come.
It's just us.
And he don't want no hymns,
no prayers, and no preachers.
And he won't have no tombstone.
Unless she puts one up
and you know she won't.
Martha and I went over to his
family graveyard yesterday evening.
He said his daddy's tombstone had angels
all over it and it came from New Orleans.
- But I couldn't find it.
- He was lying.
There wasn't nothing on it. Just a slab
of marble sticking up with his name on it.
If the convicts didn't
keep it weeded over there...
you wouldn't find it
for the weeds in a week.
I told her that you were still here,
stayed all night with him till he died...
and he still owed you money.
She said that's your hard luck.
She'll pay none of his debts.
I asked her why? How
would you get back to town?
She said "walk."
We'll all be walking, I guess,
cause she's gonna close the store...
and take the convicts
over to her daddy's place.
She said weeds, the trees and
the cane can take this land.
Six months from now you won't even
be able to tell who was buried here.
Not my people. Not the
convicts. Not Mr. Soll.
The weeds, the trees and
the cane take everything.
"Cane Land" it was called once.
Cane Land it will be again.
The house will go, the store
will go, and the graves will go.
Those with tombstones
and those without.
I could sing Golden
Slippers. He liked that.
He asked me to sing it once but I
couldn't remember. But now I can.
Go ahead. Sing it then.
Oh, my golden slippers are laid away
I don't expect to wear
them till my wedding day
and my long-tailed
coat that I love so well
I'll wear it on the
chariot in the morning
And my long white robe
that I bought last June
I'm gonna get it changed
'cause it fit too soon
And the old gray horse that I used to ride
I'll hitch it to the chariot in the morning
Oh, dem golden slippers
Oh, dem golden
slippers Golden slippers
Yes, sir.
The house will go, the store
will go, and the graves will go.
Those with tombstones
and those without.
So it's goodbye children
I will have to go where the rain
don't fall Or the wind don't blow
And the Ulster coats
Why you will not need
When you ride up in the
chariot In the morning