Sunset Limited, The (2011) Movie Script

So what am I supposed
to do with you, professor?
Why are you supposed
to do anything?
Well, like I said, this
ain't none of my doing.
When I left out of here
going to work this morning
you wasn't no part of my plans,
but here you is.
Doesn't mean anything.
Everything that happened
doesn't mean something else.
What's it mean then?
Doesn't mean anything.
You run into people.
And maybe some of them are
in trouble or whatever,
but it doesn't mean you're
responsible for them.
Anyway, people who are always
looking out for perfect strangers
are very often people who
won't look out for the ones
they're supposed to look
out for, in my opinion.
If you're just doing
what you're supposed to,
you don't get to be a hero.
And that would be me?
I don't know.
Would it?
I can see how there might
be some truth in that,
but in this particular case
I got to say I didn't know
what sort of person I was
supposed to be on the lookout for
or what I was supposed
to do when I found them.
In this particular case
but one thing to go by.
And that was?
That was that
they is standing there
and I have to look
at them and say,
"Now he don't look like my
brother, but there he is,
so maybe you'd better
look again."
And that's what you did?
Well, I got to say
you was kind of hard to ignore.
Your approach
was pretty direct.
I didn't approach you.
I didn't even see you.
What I don't understand is how you
come to get yourself in such a fix.
Are you all right?
Did you sleep last night?
when did you decide
that today was the day?
Was there something
special about it?
Well, today is my birthday, but I
certainly don't regard that as special.
Well, Happy birthday,
Thank you.
So you seen your
birthday was coming
and that seemed
like a good day?
Who knows?
Maybe birthdays are dangerous,
like Christmas...
Ornaments hanging from the
trees, reeds from the doors
and bodies from the
steampipes all over America.
That don't say much
for Christmas, do it?
Christmas is not
what it used to be.
Now I believe that to be a true statement.
I surely do.
I've got to go.
You always put your
coat on like that?
What's wrong with the way
I put my coat on?
I ain't said nothing
was wrong with it.
I'm just asking if that's
your regular method.
- I don't have a regular method. I just put it on.
- Mm-hmm.
It's what... Effeminate?
I'm just studying
the ways of professors.
Well, I've got to go.
Let me get my coat.
- Get your coat?
- Yeah.
- Where are you going?
- Going with you.
What do you mean?
Going with me where?
Going with you wherever
it is you're going.
- No, you're not.
- Yeah, I am.
- I'm going home.
- All right.
All right?
You're not going home with me.
Sure I am.
Let me get my coat.
- You can't go home with me.
- Why?
- You can't.
- Oh, what,
you can go home with me but
I can't go home with you?
No. I mean,
no, that's not it.
I just need to go home.
- You live in an apartment?
- Yes.
- What, they don't let black folk in there?
- No.
I mean, yes, of course they do.
Look, no more jokes.
I've got to go. I'm very tired.
All right, long as you don't run into
no hassle about getting me in there.
- You're serious.
- Oh, I think you know I'm serious.
- You can't be serious.
- I'm serious as a heart attack.
- Why are you doing this?
- Me? I ain't got no choice.
- Of course you have a choice.
- No, I ain't.
Who appointed you
my guardian angel?
You know who appointed
me your guardian angel.
Now look, I ain't ask for
you to jump into my arms
- down at the subway this morning.
- I didn't jump into your arms.
- You didn't?
- No.
Well, how'd you get there then?
Now we ain't going?
Do you really think
Jesus is in this room?
I don't think
he's in this room.
I know he's in this room.
It's the way you
put it, professor.
It'd be like me asking you if
you think you got your coat on.
It's not the same thing.
It's a matter of agreement.
If you and I say
that I have my coat on
and Cecil says that I'm naked
and have green skin and a tail,
we might want to think about
where we should put Cecil
so he doesn't hurt himself.
Who's Cecil?
He's not anybody.
He's just a hypothetical.
There's not any Cecil.
He's just a character
I made up
to illustrate a point.
- Made up?
- Yes.
So his view of things
don't count?
No. That's why
I made him up.
I could have changed things around.
I could have made you the one
who didn't think
I was wearing a coat.
And was green and all
that other shit you said?
- Yes.
- But you didn't.
- No.
- You load it all off on Cecil.
But Cecil can't defend himself
on account that he ain't in
agreement with everybody else,
so his word don't count,
aside from the fact
that you made him up and
he's green and everything.
He's not the one who's green. I am.
Where is this going?
I'm just trying to
find out about Cecil.
I don't think so.
Can you see Jesus?
No, I can't see him.
- But you talk to him.
- Don't miss a day.
- And he talks to you.
- I have heard him, yes.
Do you hear him,
like, out loud?
No no, not out loud.
I don't hear a voice.
I don't hear my own,
for that matter.
But I have heard him.
But why couldn't Jesus
just be in your head?
He is in my head.
Well, then I don't understand what
it is you're trying to tell me.
I know you don't,
honey. Look,
the first thing
you got to understand is
I ain't got an original
thought in my head.
If it ain't got the lingering
scent of divinity to it,
- I ain't interested in it.
- The lingering scent of divinity.
- Yeah, you like that?
- It's not bad.
Heard it on the radio...
a black preacher.
The point is, is I done
tried it the other way.
I don't mean
no chipping neither.
I mean blindfold, running through
the woods, bit in my teeth...
Lord, didn't I try it!
If you can find somebody gave
it a better shot than me,
I'd like to meet him,
I surely would.
And what you think that got me?
I don't know.
What did it get you?
Life in death
is what it got me.
Life in death.
Too dead to even know
enough to lay down.
I see.
I don't think so.
Let me ask you a question.
All right.
You ever read this book?
I've read parts of it.
I've read in it.
Have you ever read it?
Read the book of job.
Have you ever read it?
- But you is read a lot of books?
- Yes.
- How many, you say?
- I have no idea.
Two a week,
maybe 100 a year
for close to 40 years.
Two a week...
I'm just messing
with you, professor.
Tell you what...
Give me a number,
any number you like, and I'll
give you 40 times it back.
- 26.
- 1040.
- 118.
- 4720.
- 4720.
- Yep.
- The answer is the question.
- Say what?
- That's your new number.
- 4720?
- That's a big number, professor.
- Yes, it is.
- You know the answer?
- No, I don't.
Let me see that.
How do you do that?
Numbers are
the black man's friend...
Butter and eggs, crap table.
You quick with numbers, you can
work the mojo on your brother,
confiscate the contents
of his pocketbook.
You get a lot of time to practice
that shit in the jailhouse.
I see.
Let's get back to you and
all these books you read.
You say you done read
Probably, maybe more than that.
But not this book.
Uh, no, not the whole...
- Why is that?
- I don't know.
Well, what would you say is
the best book ever wrote?
I have no idea.
Well, take a shot.
There are a lot of good books.
Pick one.
- Maybe "War and Peace."
- All right.
Do you think that book's
as good as this one?
I don't know.
They're different kinds of books.
This "War and Peace" book...
It's a book somebody made up, right?
Well, yes.
So is that what makes it
different from this here book?
No, in my view
they're both made up.
Ain't neither one of them true?
Not in the historical
sense, no.
Well, what would be
a true book?
I suppose maybe a history book.
Gibbon's "Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire" might be one.
At least the events
would be actual events.
They would be things
that had happened.
So you think that book is as
good a book as this book?
- The Bible?
- The Bible.
I don't know. Gibbon's is a cornerstone.
It's a major book.
- And a true book. Don't forget that.
- And a true book, yes.
But is it as good a book?
I don't know.
I don't know as you can
make a comparison.
We're talking about
apples and pears.
We ain't talking about no
apples and pears, professor.
We're talking about books.
Is that "Decline and Fall" book
as good a book
as this here book?
Answer the question.
I'm gonna have to say no.
Used to say right here
on the cover
'fore it got wore down...
"The greatest book
ever written."
- Think that might be true?
- It might.
- You read good books.
- I try to, yes.
But you ain't read
the best book.
- Why is that?
- I've got to go.
You don't need to go, professor.
Just stay here and visit with me.
You' afraid I'll go back
to the train station.
You might, so just
stay here with me.
What if I promised I wouldn't?
You might anyway.
Don't you need to go to work?
I was on my way to work.
A funny thing happened to
you on the way to work.
Yes, it did.
Will they fire you?
No, they ain't gonna fire me.
- You could call in.
- Ain't got no phone.
Anyhow, they know
if I ain't there by no
I ain't coming.
I ain't a late sort of person.
- Why don't you have a phone?
- Don't need one.
Junkies would steal it anyway.
Get a cheap one.
Don't get too cheap
for a junkie.
Let's get back to you.
Let's stick with you
for a minute.
- Can I ask you something?
- Sure you can.
Where were you standing?
I never saw you.
You mean when you took
your amazing leap?
- Yes.
- I was on the platform.
- On the platform?
- Yeah.
Well, I didn't see you.
I was standing on the platform,
minding my own business.
Here you come haulin' ass.
I looked all around to make
sure there was no one there,
particularly no children.
There was nobody around.
No, just me.
Well, I don't know
where you could have been.
Fixing to get spooky
on me here, professor?
Maybe I was behind
a post or something.
There wasn't any post.
So what're you saying...
You're looking at some big black angel
got sent down here to snatch
your honky ass out of there
at the last possible minute and
save you from destruction?
No, I don't think that.
- Such a thing ain't possible?
- No, it isn't.
Well, you're the one
suggested it.
I never suggested
any such thing.
You're the one who put in
the stuff about angels.
I never said anything about angels.
I don't believe in angels.
Well, what is it
you believe in?
A lot of things.
All right.
- All right what?
- All right, what things?
- I believe in things.
- Give me a for instance.
Um, cultural things,
for instance,
books, music, art,
things like that.
All right.
Those are the things
that have value to me.
They're the foundations
of civilization.
Well, they used to
have value to me.
They don't have so much
value anymore, I guess.
What happened to them?
People stopped valuing them.
I stopped valuing them
to a certain extent.
I'm not sure
I can tell you why.
That world is largely gone now.
Soon it will be wholly gone.
I'm not sure I'm
following you, professor.
There's nothing to follow.
It's all right.
The things I loved
were very frail,
very fragile.
I didn't know that.
I thought they were indestructible.
They weren't.
And that's what sent you off
the edge of the platform?
It wasn't nothing personal?
Oh, it's personal.
That's what an education does.
It makes the world personal.
Well, them's some very
powerful words, professor.
And I can't say that I got
an answer to none of that.
And it might be that
there ain't no answer.
But still I got to ask.
What's the use of having
notions such as them
if they won't keep you
glued down to the platform
when the Sunset Limited is
coming through at 80mph?
- Good question.
- I thought so.
I don't have an answer
to any of that either.
Maybe it's not logical.
I don't know. I don't care.
I've been asked,
didn't I think it odd
that I should be around to
witness the death of everything?
I do think it's odd.
But that doesn't mean
it isn't so.
Somebody has to be here.
But you don't intend
to hang around for it?
No, I don't.
Let me see if I got
this straight.
You're saying that
all this culture stuff
is the only thing between
you and the Sunset Limited.
- It's a lot.
- But it busted out on you.
You're a culture junkie.
Maybe you're right.
Maybe I have no beliefs.
I believe
in the Sunset Limited.
Damn, professor.
Damn indeed.
No beliefs?
The things I believed in
no longer exist.
It's foolish
to pretend they do.
Western civilization
finally went up in smoke
in the chimneys of Dachau,
and I was too infatuated
to see it.
I see it now.
You're a challenge,
professor, you know that?
Well, there's no reason for you
to become involved
in my problems.
I should go.
- Have you got any friends?
- No.
- Come on, professor, not one?
- Not really, no.
- Tell me about that one.
- What one?
- The "not really" one.
- I have a friend at the university...
Not a close friend.
We have lunch from time to time.
But that's about as good as it gets?
What'd you do to him?
- What'd I do to him?
- Yeah.
I didn't do anything to him.
What makes you think
I did something to him?
I don't know.
Did you?
What is it you think
I did to him?
I don't know.
I want you to tell me.
There's nothing to tell.
You didn't leave him
a note or nothing
- to tell him you've taken the train?
- No.
- Your best friend?
- He's not my best friend.
I thought we just got
done deciding he was.
You just got done
deciding he...
Did you ever tell him
you was thinking about this?
- No. Why should I?
- 'Cause he's your best friend.
He's... I told you,
we're not all that close.
- You're not all that close?
- No.
He's your best friend,
only you ain't all that close?
If you'd like.
Not the way you'd want to
bother him with a little thing
like suicide?
suppose I were
to give you my word
that I would just go home
and I wouldn't try
to kill myself en route.
Suppose I was
to give you my word
that I wouldn't listen
to none of your bullshit.
So what am I, a prisoner here?
You know better than that.
You was a prisoner
before you got here...
A death row prisoner.
What did your daddy do?
I said what did
your daddy do...
What kind of work?
He was a lawyer.
- A lawyer?
- Yeah.
What kind of law did he do?
He was a government lawyer.
He didn't do criminal law or anything like that.
What would be a thing
like criminal law?
I don't know.
Divorce law maybe.
Maybe you got a point.
What'd he die of?
Who said he was dead?
- Is he dead?
- Yes.
What did he die of?
Cancer. So he was
sick for a while?
Yes, he was.
- Did you go see him?
- No.
- How come?
- I didn't want to.
How come you didn't want to?
I don't know.
I just didn't.
Maybe I didn't want to
remember him that way.
Mm, bullshit.
Did he ask you to come?
- But your mama did.
- She may have. I don't remember.
Come on, professor.
You know she asked you to come.
Okay, yes.
- What did you tell her?
- I said I would.
- But you didn't?
- No.
- How come?
- He died.
No no, that ain't it.
You had time to go see him,
but you didn't do it.
I suppose.
You waited till he was dead.
so I didn't go see my father.
Your father is laying on his
deathbed dying of cancer.
Your mama's sitting there
with him, holding his hand.
He's in all kind of pain.
They ask you to come see him
one last time before he died.
And you tell them,
"No, I ain't coming."
Please tell me I got
some part of this wrong.
If that's the way
you want to put it.
- Well, how would you put it?
- I don't know.
Well, that's the way
it is then, ain't it?
- I suppose.
- No, ain't no suppose.
- Is it or ain't it?
- Yes.
Let me see if I can find
my train schedule,
see when that next
uptown express is due.
I'm not sure I see the humor.
I'm glad to hear you
say that, professor,
'cause I ain't sure either.
I get more amazed
by the minute.
How come you can't
see yourself, honey?
You're clear as glass.
I can see the wheels in
there turning, the gears.
I can see light too...
good light,
true light.
Can't you see it?
No, I can't.
Well, bless you, brother.
Bless and keep you,
'cause it's there.
When were you
in the penitentiary?
- A long time ago.
- What were you in for?
- Murder.
- Really?
Now who would claim
to be a murderer
that wasn't one?
You called it the jailhouse.
Do most black people
call the penitentiary
the jailhouse?
No, just us
old country niggers.
We make a point to call
things what they is.
I'd hate to think how many names there is
for the jailhouse.
I'd hate to have
to count them.
Do you have a lot
of jailhouse stories?
- Jailhouse stories?
- Yeah.
I don't know.
I used to tell
jailhouse stories,
but they kind of
lost their charm.
Why don't we talk
about something
that's a little more cheerful?
You ever been married?
- Yeah.
- Oh man.
Maybe we ought to take another
look at them jailhouse stories.
Oh my.
Do you have any children?
No, professor.
I ain't got nobody.
Everybody in my family's dead.
I had two boys, but they
died a long time ago.
Just about everybody I ever
knowed has died, for that matter.
You ought to think about that.
I might be a hazard
to your health.
Were you always
in a lot of trouble?
Yeah, I was.
I liked it.
I think I still do.
I done seven years hard time.
Could have done a lot more.
Hurt a lot of people.
I used to smack 'em around,
and they wouldn't get up no more.
- But you don't get in trouble now?
- No.
But you still like it?
Well, maybe I'm just
condemned to it,
bit in the ass by my own karma.
But I'm on the other side now.
You want to help folk
that's in trouble,
you pretty much got to go
where the trouble's at.
You ain't got a lot of choice.
How long have you
been here?
Oh, six...
going on seven years.
I don't understand
why you live here.
As opposed to where?
Well, this pretty much
is anywhere.
I could live in another
building, I suppose,
but it's all right.
I got my bedroom over yonder
where I can get away,
got a sofa where
folk can crash...
junkies and crackheads mostly.
Of course they're gonna walk
off with all your portables,
so you can't own nothing.
But that's good.
You hang out
with the right crowd,
you pretty much get over
all your worldly cravings.
They took the refrigerator
one time,
but somebody caught them
out there on the stairs,
made them bring it back up.
Now I got that big
sucker over yonder...
traded up.
Only thing I miss
is the music.
I aim to get me
a steel door.
Then I can have me
some music here.
But you got to buy the door and
the frame at the same time.
I'm working on that.
I don't care nothing
about television,
but I sure do miss the music.
You don't think
this is a terrible place?
A terrible place?
What are you talking about?
This place. It's a horrible place
full of horrible people.
Oh my.
You must know that these
people are not worth saving
even if they could be saved,
which they can't. You must know that.
Well, I like a challenge.
I started a ministry
'fore I got out of prison.
Now that was a challenge.
There was a lot of
brothers who showed up.
They ain't care
nothing about it.
They ain't really care nothing
about the word of God.
They just wanted it
on the resume.
- Resume?
- Resume.
You got some brothers in there
had done some real bad shit.
And they weren't sorry about a
damn thing except getting caught.
But the funny thing was a lot
of them did believe in God,
even more so than a lot of these
people out here on the outside.
I know I did.
You ought to think
about that, professor.
- I think I'd better go.
- Oh, hey hey.
You ain't got to go, professor.
Let me ask you something.
You ever had one of them days
where everything was just
weird all the way around
when things just kind of
fell into place?
I'm not sure what you mean.
Just one of them days
kind of magic,
one of them days where
everything turned out right.
I don't know.
Well, I'm just wondering
if it ain't been
maybe sort of long
dry spell for you
till you took up
with the notion
that that's the way
the world is.
- The way the world is?
- Yeah.
- And how is that?
- You know, long and dry.
But the point is
that even if you feel that way,
what you got to understand
is that the sun don't shine up
the same dog's ass every day.
You understand what I'm saying?
If what you're saying is that I'm simply
having a bad day, that's ridiculous.
I ain't saying you're having
a bad day, professor.
I'm saying you're
having a bad life.
You think I should
change my life?
- What, you shitting me?
- I have to go.
Look, just hang with me
a little while longer.
What about my jailhouse story?
You don't need
no jailhouse story.
Why not?
Well, you're suspicious
about everything already.
You think I'm trying to
put you in the trick bag.
And you're not?
Well yeah, but I don't
want you to know it.
Well, in any case,
I have to go.
You ain't ready to go back
out there on them streets.
- I have to. - I know you ain't got
nothing you got to do.
- How do you know that?
- 'Cause you ain't even supposed to be here.
I see your point.
What if I tell you
a jailhouse story?
Will you stay then?
All right.
I'll stay a while.
All right!
The man says all right.
Okay, here go
my jailhouse story.
Is it a true story?
Oh yeah, it's a true story.
I don't know no other kind.
One day I'm in the chow line
and I'm getting my chow
when the nigger
in the line behind me
gets into it with the server,
says the beans is cold.
So he throws the ladle
down in the beans.
Well, when he done that
there was beans
splashed up on me.
Well, I didn't want to get
into it over no beans,
but it did kinda
piss me off some.
I'd just put on
a clean uniform...
you know, khakis,
shirt and trousers.
And you only get two a week.
So I said something to him
like "Hey man, watch it"
or something like that.
But I went on.
I'm telling myself,
"Just let it go.
Just let it go."
But then the nigger
said something.
So I turned back.
And when I done that,
he stuck a knife in me.
I ain't even see it coming.
Blood's just flying everywhere.
This wasn't no
jailhouse shiv neither.
This was one of them
Italian switchblades...
One of them
black-and-silver jobs.
Well, I ain't do a thing
but duck
and step back under the rail.
And I reached out and I got hold of
this table leg.
And it come off in my hand
just as easy.
It had this long screw
sticking out the end of it.
And I went to wailing
on that nigger's head!
And I ain't quit!
I ain't quit
till you couldn't tell
it was a head no more!
That screw was stick
in his head
and I'd have to put my foot
on him to pull it out.
- What'd he say?
- What'd he say?
I mean in the line.
What did he say?
- I ain't gonna repeat it.
- That doesn't seem fair.
- Don't seem fair?
- No.
Here I am telling you
a bona fide blood-and-guts
tale from the big house,
the genuine article,
and I can't get you
to fill in the blanks
about what the nigger said?
- Do you have to use that word?
- Use that word?
- Yes. - We ain't making much
progress here, is we?
It just seems unnecessary.
You don't want
to hear "nigger,"
but you about to bail out on
me 'cause I won't tell you
some ugly shit the nigger said?
Is you sure about this?
I just don't see why you
have to use that word.
It's my story, ain't it?
Anyway, I don't remember there being
no African-Americans
or people of color in there.
To my recollection there was
only a bunch of niggers!
Go ahead.
Now at some point
I musta pulled
the knife out and...
and dropped on the floor
Meanwhile, I'm still wailing
on this nigger's head,
but his friend has got
ahold of me from behind.
But I got one hand on the rail
so I ain't going nowhere.
But what I don't know
is that this dude
musta picked up the knife
and he's trying to gut me.
I felt the blood.
I turned around
and I bust him in the head.
And he went skittering off
across the floor.
And by now somebody
done pushed the button
and the alarm is going.
Everybody's down on the floor
and we in lockdown.
The guard up on the rail...
He got his shotgun
pointed at me
and he's hollering,
"You! Get on the floor
and drop the weapon!"
He's about to shoot me
when the lieutenant tells him,
"Hold your fire!
You! Throw down that club!"
I looked around,
and I was the only one
I see the nigger's feet sticking
out from under the counter
where he'd done crawled.
So I throwed the thing down.
I don't remember
much after that.
they told me
I had lost almost
half my blood.
I remember
slipping around in it,
but I thought it was
the other dude's.
Did the man die?
No, he didn't.
Everybody lived.
They thought he was dead,
but he wasn't.
He wasn't right after that,
so I ain't really had
no more trouble out of him.
He walked around with his
head kinda to the side,
lost one eye,
arm's hanging down,
didn't talk right.
They shipped him off
to another facility.
But that's not the whole story.
- No, it ain't.
- So what happened?
I woke up in the infirmary.
They had already done
operated on me.
My spleen was cut open,
liver, I don't know what all.
I come pretty close to dying.
I had 280 stitches
holding me together
and, whoo, I was hurting.
I didn't know you could
hurt that much.
And still they had me
in leg irons
and had me handcuffed to the
bed, if you can believe that.
Now as I lay there,
I heard this voice
just as clear,
couldn't have been no clearer.
And the voice said,
"If it was not
r the grace of God
you would not be here."
Man, I tried to sit up
and look around,
but I couldn't.
Wasn't no need to nohow,
'cause wasn't nobody there.
I mean, there was somebody
there all right,
but wasn't no need for me looking
around to see if I could see him.
You don't think this is
a strange kind of story?
Yeah, I do think
it's a strange kind of story.
No, what I mean is that you
didn't feel sorry for this man.
Oh, you getting ahead
of the story.
The story of how a fellow inmate
became a crippled one-eyed halfwit
so that you could find God.
- Whoa-ho.
- Well, isn't it?
- I don't know.
- You hadn't thought of it that way?
Oh yeah, hell,
I thought of it that way.
Well, isn't that
the true story?
Look, professor, I don't want to
get on the wrong side of you.
And you seem to have
a powerful wish
for that to be the story,
so I got to say that is
one way of looking at it.
I gotta concede that.
Gotta keep you interested.
- String me along.
- You all right with that?
And then put me in the...
What is it? The trick bag?
- Yeah.
- Right.
You got to remember
- this is a jailhouse story.
- All right.
- Which you specifically asked for.
- All right.
The point is, professor,
I ain't got the first
notion in the world
about what makes God tick.
I don't know why he spoke to me.
- I know I wouldn't have.
- But you listened.
- What choice would you have?
- I don't know.
Not listen.
You think he goes around
talking to people
he knows ain't gonna listen
to him in the first place?
You think he got
that kind of free time?
Why is it you people
cat just accept it
that some people don't even
want to believe in God?
- I can accept that.
- You can?
Sure I can.
Meaning I believe that to be a fact.
I mean I'm looking
at it every day,
so I'd better accept it.
Then why can't you
leave us alone?
Oh, to be hanging from
steampipes and all that?
If that's what
we want to do, yes.
Because he said not to.
It's in here.
- Don't you want to be happy?
- Happy?
What, you got something
against being happy?
- God help us.
- What, I done opened up a can of worms?
What you got against
being happy?
It's contrary
to the human condition.
Contrary to your condition.
I gotta agree with that.
What, like there ain't
no such thing?
Not for nobody?
How did we get ourselves
in such a fix as this?
We were born
in such a fix as this.
Suffering and human destiny
are the same thing.
Each is a description
of the other.
We ain't talking
about no suffering.
We're talking
about being happy.
- You can't be happy if you're in pain.
- Why not?
You're not making any sense.
Oh, them is some hard words
from the professor.
The preacher has fell back.
He's clutching his heart.
His eyes is rolled back
in his head.
Wait a minute.
Wait a minute, folks.
The preacher's blinking.
He's coming back.
He's coming back.
The point is, professor,
that if you ain't got
no pain in your life,
how would you even know
when you was happy?
As compared to what?
You don't have anything to
drink around here, do you?
No, I don't.
Is you a drinking man?
- Are we about to get a temperance lecture?
- Not from me.
It's been a difficult day.
I take it you don't drink.
No, I don't.
I've done my share of it
in my time though.
Are you in A.A.?
No no, no A.A.
I just quit.
I've had a lot of friends
who was drinkers though...
Most of them for that matter.
Most of them dead too.
From drinking?
Well, from drinking or reasons
not too far from it.
I had a friend get run down not
too long ago by a taxicab.
Now where you think
he was headed drunk?
I don't know.
Where was he going?
To get more whisky.
He had plenty at the house,
but drunks are always scared
they're gonna run out.
Was he killed?
I hope so.
We buried him.
I suppose there's
a moral to this story.
Just a story about what you
get and what you want.
Pain... happiness.
Let me tell you another one.
One Sunday
we's all sitting around the house
drinking... a Sunday morning.
Well, here come this friend of ours
with this girl Evelyn.
Now Evelyn was drunk
when she got there,
but we told her,
"Go on and get yourself
a drink."
Well, directly, my buddy Reg...
He goes in the kitchen
to fix hisself a drink.
Only now the bottle is gone.
Now Reg has been around a few
drinking people in his time
and commences to hunt
for the bottle.
He looks in the cabinet,
looks behind everything,
but he can't find it.
Of course he knows
what's happened to it.
So he comes back in the
living room, sits down,
looks at Evelyn sitting there
on the sofa drunk as a goat.
And he says, "Evelyn,
where you put the whisky?"
Evelyn says...
He says, "Evelyn,
where did you hide
the whisky?"
And she...
Well, Reg is sitting there and this is
beginning to piss him off a little,
so he gets in her face
and he says,
And she says,
"I hid it in the toilet."
That's pretty funny.
Oh, I thought you'd like that.
And is that where
the whisky was?
Oh, yeah yeah.
That's a favorite place
for drunks to hide a bottle.
But the point is
that the drunk's concern
ain't that he's going to die from drinking...
which he is...
but that he's going to
run out of whisky
before he get
a chance to do it.
Is you hungry?
'Cause I can come back to this.
I ain't gonna lose my place.
No, I'm all right.
Go ahead.
If you was to hand
a drunk a drink
and tell him he don't want it,
what do you think he'd say?
I think I know
what he would say.
Sure you do.
And you would be right.
- About him not really wanting it?
- Yes.
Because what he wants he can't
get, or thinks he can't get,
so what he really don't want
he can't get enough of.
So what is it he really wants?
Well, you know
what he really wants.
- No, I don't.
- Yes, you do.
No, I don't.
You don't know what he wants?
No, I do not.
He wants what everybody wants.
And that is?
He wants to be loved by God.
I don't want
to be loved by God.
See, I love that.
I love the way you cut right to it.
See, he don't either,
according to him.
All he wants
is a drink of whisky.
Now you're a smart man,
Now tell me which one makes
sense and which one don't.
I don't want a drink
of whisky either.
I thought you just got
done asking for one.
I mean as a general
We ain't talking about no general proposition.
We're talking about a drink.
- I don't have a drinking problem.
- You got some kind of problem.
Well, whatever kind of problem
I have, it is not something
that I imagine can be addressed
with a drink of liquor.
Mm! I love the way
you put that.
Well, what can it be
addressed with?
I think you know what
it can be addressed with.
The Sunset Limited.
That's what you really want.
That is what I want, yes.
Well, that's a mighty big
drink of whisky, professor.
- That I don't really want?
- That you don't really want, yes.
- Well, I think I do want it.
- Of course you do, honey.
If you didn't, we
wouldn't be sitting here.
I disagree with you.
All right, but that's
the hand I'm playing.
I don't think you understand
that people such as myself
look upon this yearning for God as
something lacking in these people.
Sure I do.
I couldn't agree more.
You agree with that?
What's lacking is God.
I am sorry, but to me this whole
idea of God is just a load of crap.
Oh lord have mercy!
Jesus help us.
The professor's done gone
and blasphemed all over us.
We ain't never
gonna be saved now.
You don't find that
an evil thing to say?
No, professor, I don't.
But you does.
No, I don't.
It's simply a fact.
No, it ain't simply no fact.
Now that's the biggest
fact about you.
In fact, it might just
be the only fact.
But you don't seem
to think it's so bad.
No, 'cause I know it
to be curable.
Now if you're asking me
what the man up there
thinks about it,
well, I imagine
he done heard it so much
that it don't bother him
all that much.
I mean,
what if somebody told you
you didn't exist
and you was sitting right there
listening to him say it?
That wouldn't piss you off,
would it?
No, you'd just
feel sorry for them.
Right, and you might even try
to get some help for them.
Now in my case
he had to holler out loud,
me laying on a slab
in two pieces,
sewed back together
where some nigger done tried
to core me like an apple.
But God being God,
he can speak to your heart
at any time.
And furthermore,
if he spoke to me...
which he did...
he can speak to anybody.
"Wonder what this
crazy nigger's
fixing to do now.
He's liable to put
the mojo on me.
He'll be speaking in tongues
here directly.
I need to get my ass
out of here.
He's liable to steal
my pocketbook.
I need to get my ass
on down to that depot
'fore something bad
happens to me."
What are we gonna do
with you, professor?
Look, I know I owe you
a great deal,
at least in the eyes
of the world.
Couldn't I just give you something
and we could call it square?
I'll give you some money,
something like that.
I can give you $1000.
Well, that's not
very much, I guess.
I can give you $3000, say.
You ain't got no notion of the
trouble you're in, do you?
- I don't know what you mean.
- I know you don't.
I'd just like to
settle this in some way.
Ain't me you got
to settle with.
Do you really think
I was sent to you by God?
No, it's worse than that.
How do you mean?
Belief ain't like unbelief.
If you're a believer
and you finally got to come
to the well of belief itself,
then you ain't got to look no further.
There ain't no further.
But the unbeliever's
got a problem.
He's set out
to unravel the world.
For everything he can
point to that ain't true,
he leaves two things
laying there.
Do you really believe everything
that's in there... the Bible?
The literal truth?
Probably not,
but then you already know
I'm an outlaw.
What is it you would
disagree with?
Probably the notion
of original sin...
you know, when Eve
ate the apple,
turned everybody bad.
I don't see people that way.
I think for the most part
people was good to begin with.
I think evil is something
you bring on your own self,
mostly from wanting things
you ain't supposed to have.
But I ain't gonna stand here and
tell you about me being a heretic
when I'm trying to get you
to quit being one.
Are you a heretic?
Is you trying to put me
in the trick bag, professor?
No, I'm not.
Are you?
No more than
what a man ought to be,
even a man
with a powerful belief.
I ain't a doubter,
but I am a questioner.
What's the difference?
A questioner wants the truth.
A doubter wants to be told
there ain't no such thing.
You don't think you have to believe
everything that's in there
- in order to be saved?
- No, not at all.
I don't even think
you have to read it.
I ain't even for sure
you even got to know
there is such a book.
I think whatever truth is wrote
in the pages of this book
is wrote in the human heart too, and
was wrote there a long time ago,
and will be wrote there
a long time hence,
even if every copy of this book is burned...
every copy of it.
And what Jesus said...
I don't think he made up a word of it.
He just told it.
This book is a guide
for the ignorant
and the sick at heart.
A whole man
wouldn't need it at all.
And if you was
to read this book,
you're gonna find there's more
talk in here about the wrong way
than there is the right way.
Why is that?
I don't know.
Why is it?
Why don't you tell me?
I'll have to think about that.
- Okay.
- Okay what?
Okay, go on and think about it.
It might take me a little longer
than you to think about something.
- That's all right.
- That's all right?
Yeah. I mean, I can take that
statement in one or two ways.
I'm going to take it the good
way 'cause that's my nature.
That way I get to live
in my world and not yours.
What makes you think
mine is so bad?
I don't think it's so bad.
I just know it's brief.
All right.
I think the answer
to your question is
that the dialectic
of the homily
always presupposes
a ground of evil.
- Man.
- How's that?
That's strong as a mare's
breath, professor.
Whoo! Wouldn't I love
to lay some shit like that
on the brothers. Whoa.
It's just the two of us sitting
here in private, talking.
What'd you just say?
Your question...
the Bible is full
of cautionary tales...
all of literature,
for that matter...
telling us to be careful.
Careful of what?
Taking the wrong turn,
the wrong path.
How many wrong paths are there?
Their number is legion.
How many right paths?
Just one.
Hence the imbalance
that you spoke of.
You know, you could go
on TV, professor,
a good-looking man like yourself.
You know that?
- Stop.
- I'm serious.
I wasn't even sure you was a professor
till you laid that shit on me.
Now I think you're having
fun at my expense.
- No, I ain't.
- Well, I think you are.
Honey, I swear I ain't.
I couldn't say a thing like
you just got done saying.
I admire that.
And why do you keep
calling me honey?
That's just the old South talking.
It don't mean nothing.
I'll try and stop
if it bothers you.
I'm just not sure
what it means.
It means you're among friends.
It means quit worrying
about everything.
That might be easier said than done.
Yeah, you're right.
It might.
But we're just talking...
- Tell me something.
- Sure.
Why are you here?
What do you get out of this?
You seem like a smart man.
I'm just a dumb country nigger
from Louisiana.
I done told you, I ain't never had
the first thought in my head.
If it ain't in here,
I don't know it.
Sometimes I think
you're having fun with me.
You are an asshole!
A-s-s-hole! Asshole!
Come on now.
Now what the fuck are you doing
in my motherfucking bed?
I don't see
how you can live here.
I don't know how
you can feel safe.
Well, you got a point, professor,
about being safe anyway.
You ever stopped any of these people
from taking drugs?
Not that I know of.
Then what is the point?
I don't get it.
I mean, it's hopeless.
This places is a moral leper colony.
Moral leper colony.
Where's my pencil at?
I ain't never gonna want you to leave.
Put this in my book.
"In the moral
leper colony."
I like the sound of that.
I still don't see
how you can live here.
Why not go someplace where you
can do the world some good?
As opposed to someplace
where good is needed?
Even God gives up
at some point.
There's no ministry in
hell that I ever heard of.
No, there ain't.
And that's well put.
Ministry is for the living.
That's why you're responsible
for your brother.
Once he quit breathing
you can't help him no more.
He's in the hands
of other parties.
So you got to
look after him now.
You might even want to
monitor his train schedule.
You think you are
your brother's keeper?
I don't believe "think"
quite covers it.
And Jesus is part
of this enterprise?
That all right with you?
And he's interested in
coming here to this cesspool
and salvaging what everybody
knows is unsalvageable.
Why would he do that?
You said he didn't have a lot of free time.
Why would he
come here?
What would the difference
be to him
between a building that was
spiritually and morally vacant
and one that was
just plain empty?
Mm, professor, you're a theologian
here and I ain't even know it.
You're being facetious.
I don't know that word.
But don't be afraid
to talk down to me.
You ain't gonna
hurt my feelings.
It means...
I guess it means
you're not being sincere,
that you're being...
You don't mean what you're saying
in a cynical sort of way.
Mm, you don't think
I mean what I say?
I think you say things
for effect sometimes.
Mm, well, let me
say this for effect.
Go ahead.
Suppose I was to tell you
that if you could bring
yourself to unlatch your hands
from around your
brother's throat,
you could have
life everlasting?
There's no such thing.
Everybody dies.
That ain't what he said.
He said you could have
life everlasting,
have it now, today,
hold it in your hands,
see it.
It gives off a light,
got a little weight to it...
not much.
Warm to the touch
just a little...
Life, and it's forever.
And you can have it
now, today.
But you don't want it.
You don't want it
'cause to get it
you got to let your
brother off the hook.
You got to actually take him
in your arms and hold him
and don't matter what color
he is or what he smells like
or even if he don't
want to be held.
And you won't do it
'cause you don't think
he deserves it.
And about that
there ain't no argument.
He don't.
You won't do it
'cause it ain't just.
Ain't that so?
Ain't it?
I don't think in those terms.
Just answer
the question, professor.
I don't believe
in that sort of thing.
I know you don't.
Just answer the question.
There may be some truth
in what you say.
That's all I'm going to get?
All right, all right.
I'll take it.
Some is a lot.
We down to breadcrumbs here.
I really have to go home.
No no no, just stay,
just a little.
We can talk about
something else.
You like baseball?
Tell you what...
Why don't I fix us something to eat?
- I'm not hungry.
- How about some coffee?
All right.
But then I really have to go.
All right.
The man says all right.
You know, ordinarily
I wouldn't be this rude...
A man come in my house,
sit at my table
and me not offering nothing.
But with you
I got to strategize,
play the cards right,
keep you from slipping
off into the night.
It's not night.
Depends on what kind of
night you're talking about.
Let me ask you a kind of
personal question.
This will be good.
What you think
is wrong with you
that you finally narrowed all your
choices down to the Sunset Limited?
I don't think there's
anything wrong with me.
I think I've just been driven
to finally face the truth.
If I'm different it
doesn't mean I'm crazy.
- Different?
- Yeah.
- Different from who?
- Anybody.
What about all them other folk out
there trying to off themself?
- What about 'em?
- Well, maybe them's the folk you is like.
Maybe they're your natural kin, only
y'all don't get together all that much.
- I don't think so.
- Don't think so?
No, I've been in group
therapy with those people.
I've never found anyone there
that I felt any kinship with.
Hmm, what about all them professors?
There ain't no kinship there?
- Good God.
- I'll take that as a no.
I loathe them
and they loathe me.
Well, just 'cause
you don't like 'em
don't mean you ain't like 'em.
And what's that word "loathe"?
- Loathe.
- That a pretty powerful word, ain't it?
Not powerful enough,
I'm afraid.
How come you be loathing
these other professors?
- I know what you're thinking.
- What am I thinking?
You're thinking that I loathe
them because I'm like them,
and I loathe myself.
Let me ask you this...
Is you on any kind
of medication?
- No.
- There ain't no medication
for pilgrims out there
waiting to take the Limited?
- For suicidal depression?
- Yeah.
- Yeah, there is. I've tried them.
- And what happened?
- Nothing happened.
- You ain't get no relief?
- No. Your coffee's percolated.
- Yeah, I know.
Does these drugs work
for other people?
Yes, for most.
- But not for you?
- Not for me, no.
Hmm, what you make of that?
I don't know.
What am I supposed to make of it?
I don't know, professor.
I'm just trying to see
if we can find you some
constituents out here.
- Constituents?
- Yeah, you like that?
Is that a word they
use on the streets?
No, I learned that word
in the jailhouse.
You hear things from
these jailhouse lawyers
and then it gets used around.
Be talking about
your constituents,
some other cat's constituents,
your wife's constituents.
You take cream and sugar?
No, just black.
Just black.
Why do I have to
have constituents?
I ain't saying
you got to, professor.
I'm just wondering
if maybe you do
and we just ain't looked
hard enough for them.
They could be out there.
There could be some other
drug-proof terminal commuters out
there could be your friends.
- Terminal commuters?
- Mm-hmm, you like the sound of that?
It's all right.
- Nobody, no.
- Hmm.
I'm not a member.
Never wanted to be and never was.
- Not a member?
- No.
Look, I could eat a bite.
And I think you could too.
You break bread with a man,
you've moved on to another
level of friendship.
I heard that's true
the world over.
I like probably.
Probably from you is worth
a couple of damn rights
anywhere else.
Why? Because I don't
believe in anything?
Well, I don't think
that's the problem.
I think it's what
you do believe
that's carrying you off,
not what you don't.
Let me ask you this.
Go ahead.
You ever think about Jesus?
Here we go.
Well, do you?
What makes you think I'm not Jewish?
What, Jews ain't allowed
to think about Jesus?
No, but they might think
about him differently.
Is you Jewish?
No, as it happens I'm not.
Had me going there
for a minute.
What, you don't like Jews?
I'm just pulling
your chain, professor,
just pulling your chain.
I don't know why
I like to mess with you,
but I do.
Now you need to listen
or you need to believe
what you're hearing,
'cause the point
of where this is going...
which you wanted to know...
is that there ain't no Jews,
there ain't no whites,
there ain't no niggers...
people of color.
There ain't
none of that.
At the deep bottom of the mine
where the gold is at,
there ain't none of that.
There's just the pure ore,
that forever thing
that you don't think is there,
that thing that keeps people
nailed down to the platform
when the Sunset Limited
is coming through,
even if they think
they want to get aboard,
that thing that allows you
to ladle out benediction
on the heads of strangers
instead of curses.
And it's all one thing.
And it ain't but one thing,
just one.
And that would be Jesus.
I got to think about
how to answer that.
Maybe one more heresy
won't hurt you.
Pretty loaded up
on them already.
Here's what I would say.
I would say...
I would say
that thing we're
talking about is Jesus,
but Jesus as understood
as that gold at the
bottom of the mine.
He could not
come down here
and assume the shape of a man
if that form was not done
shaped to accommodate him.
And if I said ain't no way
for Jesus to be every man
without every man being Jesus,
well now, I think that would
be a pretty big heresy.
But that's all right.
It ain't as big a heresy
as saying like man ain't
no different from a rock,
which is how I see
your point of view.
It's not my point of view.
I believe in the primacy of the intellect.
Mm, and what's that word?
Primacy? It means first.
It means what you put first.
And that would be intellect?
Well, what about the primacy
of the Sunset Limited?
Yes, that too.
But not the primacy of the
people waiting on a later train?
No, no primacy there.
You tough, professor.
You tough.
You see yourself
as a questioner.
But about that
I got my doubts.
The quest of your life
is your quest.
And you're on a road
that you laid.
And that fact alone might be all the
reason you need for sticking to it.
As long as you're on that road
you can't get lost.
I'm not sure I understand
what you're saying.
Oh, I got my doubts about
you not understanding
anything I say, professor.
I'm fixing to say grace.
Lord, we thank you
for this food
and for the many blessings we
have received from your hand.
We thank you for the life of the
professor which you have returned to us
and ask that you would look
after him, 'cause we need him.
Now I don't know
why we need him.
I just know we do.
Tell me how you like this.
It looks good.
This is good.
This is very good.
Supposed to be good.
It's soul food, my man.
It's got what in it?
- Mm, you a chef, professor?
- Not really.
- But some?
- Some, yes.
Bananas, of course.
- Got a mango or two in it, rutabagas.
- Rutabagas?
Them's hard to find.
It's very good.
You know, it gets better
after a day or two.
I just fixed this last night.
You gotta heat it up a few times
to get the flavors right.
Like chili.
Like chili.
Yeah, that's right.
You know where I
learned to fix this?
- In Louisiana?
- Mm-mm.
Right here in the ghettos
of New York City.
There's a lot of different
influences in a dish like this.
Many parts of the world
in that pot over yonder,
a lot of different countries,
different people.
Any white people?
Not if you can help it.
I'm just messing
with you, professor,
just messing with you.
You know them chefs
in them uptown restaurants?
- Not personally, no.
- You know what they like to fix?
- No.
- Sweetbreads...
Brains, tripe, all that shit don't
nobody like to eat.
You know why that is?
Because it's a challenge.
You have to innovate.
You're pretty smart
for a honky.
That's right.
It's a challenge.
The stuff they fix...
dead cheap.
Most folks throw it out,
give it to the cat.
But poor folks...
They don't throw nothing out.
I guess that's right.
Anybody can make a porterhouse
steak taste good.
But if you can't buy
no porterhouse steak
and you still wants to eat something
that tastes good, what do you do then?
- Innovate.
- Innovate. That's right.
And who is it
that's got to innovate?
- Poor people.
- That's right. Poor people.
You fixing to get an a+.
So how you like this?
It's very good.
You don't think a glass of wine
would have been good with this?
I do think a glass of wine
would have been good with it.
But you wouldn't
drink it?
Oh, I might.
Just one glass.
Jesus drank wine...
he and his disciples.
Yes, he did. Says so
right here in the Bible.
Of course it don't say nothing
about him hiding it in the toilet.
Is that really a favorite
hiding place?
Oh yeah.
I've known drunks
to lift the lids off toilets
in strange places
just on the off chance.
- Is that true?
- No.
It could be though.
Wouldn't surprise me none.
What is the worst thing
you ever did?
- More jailhouse stories?
- Why not?
Which why not you want to hear?
Is bludgeoning the man in the prison
cafeteria the worst thing you ever did?
No, it ain't.
It isn't?
What's the worst?
- I ain't gonna tell you.
- Why not?
'Cause you'll jump up, run
out the door hollering.
It must be pretty bad.
It is. That's why
I ain't telling you.
- Now I'm afraid to ask.
- No, u ain't.
Did you ever tell anyone?
It wouldn't
leave me alone.
Who did you tell it to?
I told it to a man of God
who was my friend.
- What did he say?
- He didn't say a word.
But you're not curious about
the worst thing I ever did.
Yeah, I am.
But you won't ask me
what it is.
- I don't have to.
- Why is that?
'Cause I was there.
I seen it.
Well, I might have
a different view.
Yeah, you might.
You want some more?
No, I'm stuffed.
Hungrier than you thought?
Yes, I was.
Is this some kind of
test of your faith?
- What, you?
- Me, yes.
It ain't my faith
you're testing.
You see everything
in black and white.
It is black and white.
I suppose that makes the world
easier to understand.
You'd be surprised
how little time I spend
trying to understand the world.
You try to understand God.
No, I don't.
I try to understand
what he wants from me.
And that's everything you need?
If God ain't
everything you need,
then you in a world of trouble.
I don't make a move
without Jesus.
When I get up in the morning,
I try to grab ahold
to his belt.
Sometime I go into
a manual override.
I catch myself.
- Manual override?
- Yeah, you like that?
- It's okay.
- I thought it was pretty good.
So you come to the end
of your rope
and you admit defeat
and you're in despair.
And in this state you seize
upon this, whatever it is,
that has neither sense
nor substance,
and you grab hold of it
and hang on for dear life.
Is that a fair portrayal?
That might be
one way to say it.
It doesn't make any sense.
Well, I thought when
we was talking earlier
you was saying that there was none of it
made no sense...
Talking about the history
of the world and some such.
Well, it doesn't
on a larger scale.
But what you're telling me
is not a view of things.
It's a view of one thing
and I find it nonsensical.
What would you do
if Jesus was to speak to you?
Do you imagine that he might?
No, I don't.
But I don't know.
I'm not virtuous enough.
No, professor,
it ain't nothing like that.
You ain't got to be virtuous.
You just has to be quiet.
Now I can't speak for the lord,
but it has been my experience
that he will talk to
anybody who will listen.
You damn sure ain't got
to be virtuous.
If I heard God talking to me,
I would be ready for you
to take me up to Bellevue,
as you suggested.
What if what he said
made sense?
Wouldn't make any difference.
Craziness is craziness.
- Don't make no difference if it makes sense?
- No.
Well, that's about as big a case
of the primacy as I ever heard.
I've always gone my own way.
Ich kann nicht anders.
What's that you talking?
- It's German.
- You talk German?
Not really. A little.
It's a quotation.
Ah well, it didn't do them Germans
much good though, did it?
I don't know.
The Germans contributed
a great deal to
civilization before Hitler.
And then they
contributed Hitler.
Yeah, if you like.
I gather it to be your belief
that culture tends to
contribute to human misery,
that the more one knows, the
unhappier one is likely to be.
As in the case of certain
parties known to us.
As in the case.
Well, I don't believe
I said that.
I think maybe it was you
who said it.
- I never said it.
- Do you believe it?
- No.
- No?
I don't know.
It could be true.
Well, why is that?
That don't seem right, do it?
It's the first thing
in that book there...
the Garden of Eden,
knowledge as destructive to the
spirit, destructive to goodness.
I thought I ain't read
that book.
Everyone knows that story.
It's probably the most famous story in there.
Hmm, why you think that is?
I suppose from the God's point
of view all knowledge is vanity.
Or maybe it just gives people
the unhealthy illusion that
they can outwit the devil.
Damn, professor.
Where was you
when I needed you?
You'd better be careful.
You see where it's gotten me.
Oh, I see.
That's the topic of discussion here.
The darker picture
is always the correct one.
When you read the history
of the world
you are reading a saga of
bloodshed and greed and folly
the import of which
is impossible to ignore.
And yet we imagine
that the future will
somehow be different.
I've no idea why we are
even still here.
In all probability we won't
be here much longer.
Them's some pretty
powerful words, professor.
That's what's in your
heart though, ain't it?
All right, well, I can
relate to them thoughts.
- You can?
- Sure I can.
That surprises me.
But you could be wrong,
you know.
I don't think so.
That ain't something you have
a lot of in your life, is it?
- What isn't?
- Being wrong.
- I admit it when I'm wrong.
- Oh, I don't know about that.
Well, you're entitled
to your own opinion.
Oh yeah,
here it is.
Story on page three.
"Friends reported
that the man had
ignored all advice
and stated that he intended
to pursue his own course.
A close confidant
stated... "
and this here
is in quotations...
"You couldn't tell that
son of a bitch nothing."
Now can you say that
in the paper...
"Son of a bitch"?
"Blood-spattered spectators
at the 155th Street station...
continued on page four..."
"who were interviewed
at the scene said
that the man's last words
as he hurtled toward the
oncoming commuter train were,
'I am right.'"
very funny.
Oh, professor,
you an amazing man.
I'm glad you find me
- Oh, I think you're pretty special.
- I don't think I'm special.
- You don't?
- No, I don't.
You don't think you view
those other commuters
from a certain height?
I view those other commuters
as fellow occupants
of the same abyssal pit
in which I find myself.
And if they see it
as something different,
I don't know how that
makes me special.
I hear what you're saying.
But still I keep coming
back to these commuters,
them that's waiting
on the Sunset.
I can't help but think
there's got to be something
a little special
about theirselves.
I mean, they got to be
in a deeper pit
than us day travelers...
deeper and darker.
I ain't saying they
down as deep as you,
- but pretty deep maybe.
- So?
So maybe they your brothers
in self-destruction
and despair.
I thought misery loved company.
I'm sure I don't know.
Let me take a shot at it.
What I think is
that you got better
reasons than them.
See, their reasons is that
they just don't like it here,
but yours says
what it is not to like
and why not not to like it.
You got more intelligent
reasons, more elegant reasons.
- You making fun of me?
- No, I ain't.
- But you think I'm full of shit?
- No, I don't think that.
But I don't doubt that it's possible
to die from being full of shit.
But I don't think that's
what we're looking at here.
What do you think
we're looking at?
I don't know.
You got me in uncharted territory.
You got these
world-class reasons
for taking the Limited
where these other dudes...
all they got is,
well, maybe they just
don't feel good.
It might could be that you
ain't even all that unhappy.
You think my education
is driving me to suicide?
No, I'm just posing
the question.
Well, wait a minute
'fore you answer.
Okay, go ahead.
I think that's the most
ridiculous thing I ever heard.
"I think that's the most
ridiculous thing I ever heard."
Very clever.
What's the point?
The light is all around you
but you don't see
nothing but shadow.
And you're the one causing it.
It's you.
You're the shadow.
That's the point.
Well, I don't have your faith.
Why don't we just
leave it at that?
You ain't never thought
about just starting over?
I did at one time.
I don't anymore.
Well, maybe faith
is just a case
of not having
nothing else left.
Well, I do have something else.
Well, why don't you just
keep that in reserve?
Just take a shot
at starting over.
I don't mean starting again.
Everybody's done that.
Over means over.
Just walk away.
I mean, if everything you are
and everything you have
and everything you done
has brought you at last to the
bottom of a whisky bottle
or bought you a one-way
ticket on the Sunset Limited,
you can't give me one good
reason on God's green earth
for salvaging none of it,
'cause there ain't none.
If you can bring yourself
to close the door
on all of that,
it will be cold
and it will be lonely
and there will be
a fierce wind blowing.
But you don't say nothing.
You just turn your collar up
and keep walking.
I can't.
I can't.
You want some more coffee?
No, thank you.
Why do you think it is
folks take their own life?
I don't know.
Different reasons.
Is there anything these different
reasons has got in common?
I can't speak for others.
My own reasons center around
a gradual loss
of make-believe,
a gradual enlightenment
as to the nature
of reality, of the world.
- Them worldly reasons.
- If you like.
- Them elegant reasons.
- That was your description.
You ain't disagreed
with it.
It's them reasons that your
brother don't know nothing about
hanging from his necktie from a
steampipe down in the basement.
He's got his own
dumbass reasons.
But if we could find a way
to educate him
to them more elegant reasons
and make them available
to him and his buddies,
then there'd be a lot
of folk out there
could off themselves with more joy
in their hearts. What you think?
Now I know
you're being facetious.
I think you're right.
I think you done finally drove me to it.
Professor done gone
to laying mm-hmms on me.
I guess I'd better
watch my step.
You better had.
I might be warming up the trick bag.
You think your reasons
is about the world,
and his is mostly about him.
I think that's probably true.
I think I see a different truth
sitting across the table from me.
Which is?
That you must
love your brother or die.
I don't know what that means.
It's another world
from anything I know.
Well, well, tell me
how your world is.
You don't want to hr it.
- Sure I do.
- I don't think so.
Yeah, go ahead.
All right.
It's that the world is
basically a forced labor camp
from which the workers,
perfectly innocent,
are led forth by lottery,
a few each day,
to be executed.
I don't think that's
just the way I see it.
I think that's the way it is.
Are there alternative
views? Yes.
Will any of them
stand close scrutiny?
So do you want to take a look
at that train schedule again?
If this ain't the life
you wanted, what was?
I don't know.
Not this.
Are you living the life
you had planned?
No, it ain't.
But I got what I needed
instead of what I wanted.
Sometimes that's the best
kind of luck to have.
Yeah, well...
You can't compare your life
to mine though, can you?
No, I can't.
( Chuckles
I just can't.
Oh, I'm sorry.
I should go.
- You don't have to go.
- I've offended you.
Look, my hide is
thicker than that.
Don't go.
You ain't hurt my feelings.
I know you think I should be thankful.
I'm sorry not to be.
- I don't think no such thing.
- I should go.
I'm digging a dry hole
here, ain't I?
I admire your persistence.
What can I do to get you
to just stay just a bit?
Why? Are you hoping that
if I stay long enough, God might talk to me?
No, I'm hoping
he'll speak to me.
I know you think I at least owe
you a little more of my time.
I know I'm ungrateful.
But ingratitude is not the sin
to a spiritual bankrupt
that it is to a man of God.
I don't think you owe me
nothing, professor.
- You really think that?
- Yeah, I do.
Well, you're very kind.
And I wish there was something I could do
to repay you, but there isn't.
So why don't we just say goodbye?
You can get on with your life.
Suppose I have to tell you
you could wake up tomorrow
and you wouldn't want to be
jumping in front of no train.
Suppose all you had to do was ask.
Would you do it?
That just depends on what
I would have to give up.
See, I started to write that
down on a piece of paper.
What is it you think
I'm holding on to?
I don't know!
What is it the terminal
commuter cherishes
- that he would die for?
- I don't know.
No no.
You don't.
You don't want to talk
to me no more, do you?
I thought you had a thick skin.
It is, but it ain't
hide to the bone.
Why do you think there is
something that I won't give up?
I don't know.
I think
any man anxious to get
run over by a train
has got to have
something on his mind.
I mean most of us
would just settle
for maybe a slap
upside the head.
You say you don't
care about nothing,
but I don't believe that.
I don't think death
is ever about nothing.
You asked me what I think
you're holding on to
and I got to say I don't know.
Or maybe I just don't
have the words to say it.
And maybe you know
but you just ain't telling.
What I believe is
that when you took
your celebrated leap,
you was taking it with you
and you was holding on to it,
holding on for grim death.
I'm just looking for
the words, professor.
I'm looking for the words
'cause I know the words
is just the way to your heart.
Well, I can't help you.
Letting it all go
is the place I finally got to.
It took a lot of work to get there.
And if there's one thing
I would be unwilling to give
up, it is exactly that.
Is there another way
you could say that?
The one thing I won't give up
is giving up.
I expect that
to carry me through.
I'm depending on it.
The things I believe in
were very frail, as I've said.
They won't be around very
long and neither will I.
But I don't think that's really
the reason for my decision.
I think it goes
deeper than that.
You can acclimate
yourself to loss.
You have to.
I mean...
You like music, right?
Yeah yeah, I do.
Who is the greatest composer
that you know of?
John Coltrane, hands down.
Do you think his work
will last forever?
forever's a long time,
So I got to say no.
That doesn't mean
it's worthless, does it?
No, it don't.
You give up the world
line by line.
You become an accomplice
to your own annihilation.
There's nothing
you can do about it.
Everything you do closes a
door somewhere ahead of you.
Finally there's
only one door left.
That's a dark world, professor.
Maybe you just need to admit
that you're in over your head.
I do admit it, but that
don't let me off the hook.
I got no choice.
Maybe you're right.
Well, here is my news,
I long for the darkness.
I pray for death, real death.
And if I thought that in death I would
meet the people I knew in life,
I don't know what I would do.
That would be the ultimate horror,
the ultimate nightmare.
If I thought I was gonna
meet my mother again and
start all of that all over,
only this time without the prospect
of death to look forward to,
that would be
the final nightmare,
Kafka on wheels.
Damn, professor.
You don't want to see your own mama?
No, I don't.
I want the dead to be dead
And I want to be
one of them.
Except of course you can't be one of them.
You can't be one of the dead
because that which has no
existence can have no community.
No community.
My heart warms
just thinking about it...
blackness, aloneness,
silence, peace,
and all of it
only a heartbeat away.
I don't regard my state of mind
as some pessimistic
view of the world.
I regard it as the world itself.
Evolution cannot avoid
bringing intelligent life
ultimately to an awareness
of one thing,
and one thing above all else.
And that one thing is futility.
If I'm understanding you
right, you're saying
everybody that just ain't
eat up with the dumbass
ought to be suicidal.
- Yes.
- You ain't shitting me?
No, I am not shitting you.
If people could see the
world for what it truly is,
see their lives
for what they truly are,
without dreams or illusions,
I don't believe they could
offer the first reason
why they should not elect
to die as soon as possible.
I don't believe in God.
Can you understand that?
Look around you, man.
Can't you see?
The clamor and din
of those in torment
has to be the sound
most pleasing to his ear.
And I loathe
these discussions...
The argument
of the village atheist
whose single passion
is to revile endlessly
that which he denies the
existence of in the first place.
Your fellowship
is a fellowship of pain
and nothing more.
And if that pain
were collective
instead of merely reiterative,
the sheer weight of it
would drag the world
from the walls of the universe
and send it crashing
and burning down
through whatever night it might
yet be capable of engendering
until it was not even ash.
And brotherhood,
justice, eternal life?
Good God, man.
Show me a religion
that prepares one
for nothingness, for death.
That's a church I might enter.
Yours prepares one
only for more life,
for dreams and illusions
and lies.
Banish the fear of death
from men's hearts...
They wouldn't live a day.
Who would want this nightmare
but for fear of the next?
The shadow of the axe
hangs over every joy.
Every road ends in death,
every friendship, every love.
Torment, loss,
pain, suffering,
hideous lingering illness...
and all of it
with a single conclusion
for you
and every one and every thing
you have ever chosen
to care for.
That is the true brotherhood,
the true fellowship.
And everybody is
a member for life.
You tell me that my
brother is my salvation?
My salvation?
Well, then damn him.
Damn him in every shape
and guise and form.
Do I see myself in him?
Yes, I do.
And what I see sickens me.
Do you understand me?
Can you understand me?
I'm sorry.
How long you felt like this?
All my life.
- Is that true?
- It's worse than that.
I don't see what could be
worse than that.
Rage is really only
for the good days.
The truth is there's
little of that left.
The truth is
that the forms I see
have been slowly emptied out.
They no longer have
any content.
They're shapes only...
a train, a wall,
a world, a man...
a thing dangling
in senseless articulation
in a howling void,
no meaning to its life,
its words.
Why would I seek out
the company of such a thing?
So you see what it is
you've saved?
Tried to save.
Still trying, trying hard.
- Who is your brother?
- Who is my brother, yes.
Is that the reason I'm here
in your apartment?
No, that's why I'm here.
You asked me
what I'm a professor of.
I am a professor of darkness,
the night in day's clothing.
And now I wish you all
the very best,
but I must go.
Just stay
a little while longer.
No, no more time.
We can talk about
something else, I swear.
I don't want to talk
about something else.
Don't go out there, professor!
You know what's out there!
Oh yes.
Indeed I do.
I know what's out there
and I know who is out there.
I rush to nuzzle
his bony cheek.
No doubt he will be surprised
to find himself so cherished.
And as I cling to his neck
I will whisper in that
dry and ancient ear,
"Here I am.
Here I am."
- Now open the door!
- Don't do this.
You're a kind man.
I've heard you out
and you've heard me.
There's no more to say.
Your God must once have stood
at a dawn of infinite
and that is what
he's made of it.
You tell me that I want
God's love. I don't.
Perhaps I want forgiveness,
but there is no one to ask it of.
And there's no going back.
There's no setting things right.
There's only the hope
of nothingness.
And I cling to that hope.
- Now open the door.
- Don't do this.
Please open the door.
Thank you.
I know you ain't mean
them words.
I'm gonna be there
in the morning.
I'm gonna be there, you hear?
I'm gonna be there!
I'm gonna be there.
You know he didn't mean
them words.
You know he didn't.
You know he didn't.
I don't understand why
you sent me down there.
I don't understand.
If you wanted me to help him, then how
come you didn't give me the words?
You give them to him.
What about me?
That's all right.
That's all right.
If you don't never speak again,
you know I'll keep your word.
You know I will.
You know I'm good for it.
Is that okay?
Is that okay?