Palmer (2021) – Transcript

After 12 years in prison, former high school football star Eddie Palmer returns home to put his life back together—and forms an unlikely bond with Sam, an outcast boy from a troubled home. But Eddie's past threatens to ruin his new life and family.
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Palmer (2021)

Eddie Palmer is a former high school football star who just got out of prison after 12 years. He lives with his grandmother Vivian, who also occasionally watches over a flamboyant young boy named Sam.

Palmer eventually begins working at the local school as a janitor, and after Vivian passes away is forced to become Sam’s temporary guardian with his mom Shelly constantly leaving town. Palmer takes Sam to the high school football game and bowling fundraiser, striking up a relationship with Sam’s teacher, Maggie.

One day Sam comes home crying after getting roughed up by some of his classmates’ fathers for wearing makeup, and Palmer beats one of them up at a bar. Shelly returns to reclaim Sam, but he is then taken by Child Protective Services. Palmer attempts to receive guardianship, but is denied due to his parole status. Temporarily returned to Shelly, Sam is shoved by her abusive boyfriend Jerry during a fight, and Palmer takes him. Shelly refuses to press charges and chooses to give Palmer parental custody over Sam.

 

 

[knocking]

[gasps]

Good Lord, look at you. Well, get on in here. [woman chuckles]

[Palmer] How you been, Grandma?

Well, I’m living. I thought you were coming in earlier.

[Palmer] Well, bus was late.

I would’ve picked you up in town, only they won’t let me drive no more.

[Palmer] [chuckles]

Uh, I straightened up your room. Put some things in the closet. You go on. Go get settled.

Okay.

[woman chattering, indistinct]

[child] Yeah. [indistinct]

[chattering continues]

[woman] Yeah, you got this lookin’ good, huh?

[clatters]

[man] Son of a bitch. Goddamn it. Hey, Shelly. Shell, Shell, Shell.

Yeah?

You take my fucking wallet again? Huh?

Yeah, I stole it. There was so much money in it.

[man mutters]

I’ll be back in, I don’t know, a couple days.

[Shelly] Oh, can’t wait.

[man mutters]

[grandma] Oh, that woman is nothing but trouble. If it wasn’t for her little boy, I’d kick her right out of that trailer. I imagine it’s gonna take some time getting used to.

[Palmer] Yeah.

You just gotta get yourself back out there. That’s all. You can’t be feeling sorry for yourself.

[Palmer] No, ma’am.

And I go to church every Sunday. If you’re living here, you will too.


[grandma coughing]

[blues song playing]

[man] You know the conditions of your parole, right?

[[Palmer] ] Yes, sir.

You’ll submit to drug testing. You’ll come in every two weeks, right here. You are to obey all laws: municipal, parish, state, federal. And you’ll get a job.

[train whistle blows]

Sound good?

[song continues]

Any idea where you gonna work?

[Palmer] No. See what’s out there.

[parole officer] Then I’ll see you in a couple weeks.

I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a call if something opens up, try to help you out.

[Palmer] Thank you.

Yeah.

[song continues]

[song fades]

[breathes heavily]

Palmer? When the fuck did you get out, man? [laughing] Holy shit!

Thought you weren’t getting out for five more years, man.

I didn’t know you could grow a beard.

[Palmer] All right.

Hey, you should’ve told me you was coming home. I’d have throwed you a goddamn party.

[Palmer] Oh, yeah? Who’d have shown up?

Dumbass Ned.

Of course I would’ve.

[chuckles] See?

The last time I talked to you, I– I threw that money at your commissary like you was asking, but, you know, I never heard from you.

[Palmer] Thank you, man. You still on that second marriage?

[Ned laughs] Hey, don’t even get me started. I don’t know what I was thinking. And now I got a eight-year-old, and Darleen’s still kicking me in the nuts every chance she gets.

[Palmer] How’s little Jake doing?

Little Jake is 15 years old, man.

[Palmer] Fifteen?

Fifteen.

[Palmer] Jesus.

Yep. He’s a hell of a ballplayer too.

Yeah, man.

[Palmer] Is he now?

Just like his daddy.

[Palmer] I’ll bet.

Hey, you know, your TD record only just got broke a couple years ago.

[Palmer] No shit?

Some little freshman kid.

[Palmer] Freshman?

Holy cow. Look who it is. Palmer. When’d you get out?

[Palmer] Ah, a few days ago.

[chuckling] Oh, wow.

[Palmer] Looks good on you.

Oh, yeah. Well, you know my daddy. It’s not like I had a choice. [chuckles]

[Palmer] Mm-hmm.

It’s good to see you.

[Palmer] Yeah, you too.

You staying down there at Vivian’s place?

[Palmer] Yeah, for now.

Well, if you need anything, you let me know, all right? I mean that. Anything.

Shit. I need your old man to quit writing me all these goddamn speeding tickets.

I don’t wanna hear it.

Let’s play some pool.

Hey, Ned, let’s get a game in before the wife calls. Palmer, you’re next.

[rock song playing on speakers]

There you go.

[Palmer] Appreciate you.

[Shelly] Cosimo, how’s it hanging?

[Cosimo] And what do you want?

I want my nails done and my ass waxed.

[Cosimo chuckles]

What do you think I want? Huh? Get me a Jim and Coke.

[rock music continues]

[pool balls clack]

You’re Vivian’s grandson, ain’t you? What’s the matter, handsome? You don’t talk?

[both grunting, moaning]

Oh, you really did just get outta prison.

[Shelly grunts, moans]

[Palmer grunting]

[Shelly exclaims]

[Palmer grunts]


[birds chirping]

[Shelly murmurs]

[sighs]

[sighs]

[grunts]

[Vivian] Eddie. Eddie, wake up. We’re gonna be late for church.

[footsteps departing]

[door closes]

Oh, this boy’s gonna make us late, I swear.

[Palmer] [clears throat] [spits]

Church starts at 10:00 a.m. Now don’t go making us late.

[Palmer] Sorry.

[engine starts]

Sam, this is my grandson, Eddie. Now, he would prefer you call him Palmer, even though Eddie’s a much nicer name.

You had a sleepover with my mama, and you didn’t wear no pajamas or underwear neither.

Shh, Sam. Roll that window up. It took me two hours to do my hair.

[window whirs]


[piano music playing]

[door closes]

[Vivian] Dot, you remember Eddie?

Eddie, this is Dot.

My grandson.

[Sam] Stop.

Toby, get off him.

[woman] Good morning, everybody. I’d like to welcome you to Wesley Chapel this morning.


[chattering]

Must be, uh, strange being back here, huh?

[Palmer] You ain’t kidding.

Well, not much has changed. Still all about church and football.

[Palmer] Amen.

They did open a new coffee shop though.

Eddie.

[Palmer] Chief.

Heard you got out early.

[Palmer] Yes, sir.

[Chief] Well, you make sure to keep yourself in check. I would hate to have to put you back inside.

[Palmer] Yes, sir.

See you down at the station.

Yeah, Dad.

Shit. Sorry about that. [mutters] Same old fart.

[Palmer] Yeah, I’d be surprised if he hadn’t come over.

Look, I just wanted to say that I should’ve came and visited you or sent you a letter at least. I should’ve been a better friend.

[Palmer] Ah, forget it.

What’s going on?

[Ned] Hey. [chuckles] Same shit, different Sunday.

Christ. There’s something seriously wrong with that kid.

[humming]

 

[strains, chuckles]

Oh, here now. Give this to your mother. [sniffs] Make sure she eats some. And it’ll keep for a week.

Thanks, Miss Vivian.

[chuckles] Oh, sweet boy.

Bye, Miss Vivian.

Bye-bye.

Bye, Palmer.

[Vivian chuckles]


[Palmer] Good night, Grandma.

Sweet dreams, Eddie. I’m glad you’re back.

[Palmer] Me too.

[spits]


[birds chirping]

You slept late.

[Palmer] Yeah. Guess I did.

[keys jingle]

I need some things from the market if you don’t mind picking them up on the way home.

[Palmer] Yeah, sure.

And hold on. Let me give you some money. I don’t imagine you have any.

[Palmer] Yeah.

Be careful out there.

[Palmer] I’ll be back later.

[Shelly] Hey, I ain’t kidding. You need to shave, ’cause you give me rug burn down here and it really hurts.

I’ll shave for you, ’cause God knows I love you, and I love your strawberry. Who’s that guy over there?

Tell me again how much you love me. Oh, whatever. He’s just looking.


Thank you.

Thank you. Have a nice day. Hello.

[Palmer] Hello.

Would you like an application?

[Palmer] Yeah, sure.

I, uh– I filled that, uh, position this morning. Hey, Eddie. How you been?

[Palmer] Hogan.

Just forgot to take the sign down is all. Good to see you.

[Palmer] You too.

I’m sorry. I thought that they were still hiring.

[Palmer] It’s fine.


What side do you want?

This side.

I think I can spice that up a little.

[chuckles] That’s good.

His mama took off again. He’ll be staying with us till she’s back.

I think I need a little color.

On the way.

Thank you.

You’re gonna have to sleep out here on the couch. Sam gets your bed at night.

I don’t mind the couch, Miss Vivian. I sleep on it at home.

Ah, a boy your age needs to sleep on a bed.

I don’t mind. I can watch TV.

[scoffs] Now, too much TV ain’t good for you.

Excuse me. Just want these. My friend Emily gave me this. Every time she gets a new doll, I get one of her old ones.

[Palmer] Fuck.

Her dog chewed this one up, but it’s still okay. She just has to hop a little. See?

[Palmer] You know you’re a boy, right?

Yeah.

[Palmer] Boys don’t play with dolls.

Well, I’m a boy, and I do.

[Vivian] Dinner’s ready!

See you later, Palmer.

[Vivian] Meatballs.

[Sam] Thank you.

Did you have any luck finding a job?

[Palmer] Not yet.

Oh, I’m sure you will.

Miss Vivian.

Oh.

That’s for her.

We love our meatballs.

[Vivian chuckles]

[Sam] One for you, and one for me.

[Palmer] How long does your mama usually stay gone for?

[Vivian] You hush now. When you gonna give me the rest of the change from the mart?

[Palmer] I gave it to you.

Nah, I was short.

[Palmer] What you mean “short”?

I didn’t get all my change.

[cutlery clanks]

[Palmer sighs]

[chair scrapes]

[cutlery clanks]

[Palmer] Count it.

I don’t need to count it. It was short.

[Palmer] Twelve dollars and 13 cents. Go ahead. Count it.

You eat your supper.


[blues song playing on speakers]

[pool balls clack]

[children chattering in distance]

[knocks]

[man] Door’s open.

[Palmer] I’m Eddie Palmer. I’m here for my interview.

Come on in. Calvin Sibs. Have a seat. [clears throat] Fill this out, and we’ll take a walk over to see Principal Forbes.

Mr. Palmer, I’m sorry, but I can’t hire you simply due to the fact that you’re a convicted felon.

[Palmer] I understand, sir. But I did my time, and I did it without getting in any trouble.

Well, that may be the case, but I have the safety of the children I have to consider.

[Palmer] I ain’t never done nothing to no kids. If I can’t get a job sweeping floors, then y’all tell me, what am I supposed to do?

Mr. Sibs, your thoughts?

He’s got the experience: twelve years of laundry, kitchen and yard. But it’s your call.

[Forbes sighs] You were All-USA player two years in a row at Riverside?

[Palmer] Yes, sir.

Football scholarship to LSU?

[Palmer] Mm-hmm.

Palmer. You related to Vivian Palmer?

[Palmer] Yes, sir. That’s my grandmother.

Oh, well, she’s a respectable member of our congregation.

[Palmer] Yes, sir. I attended with her last Sunday. Beautiful sermon.

[Forbes clicks tongue] All right, I tell you what. I’m a big fan of second chances.

So, um, let me run all this by the school board, and let me see if I can pull some strings and make something happen.

[Palmer] Thank you. Thank you.

You’re welcome.


We thank you for this meal and for allowing the three of us to be here together. Amen.

[Sam] Amen.

[Palmer] Amen.

Miss Vivian, you never said you were sorry… for yesterday when you said he shorted you, but he didn’t.

Sam, drink your milk. I miscounted. I apologize.

[Palmer] It’s okay.

[phone rings]

[Palmer] [clears throat] Want me to get it?

[Vivian] No greens, no TV.

[Palmer] Hello. Yes, it is.

[Sam] Yes, ma’am.

[Palmer] Yes, sir. Uh, thank– Thank you. Okay. See you then.

[phone receiver clicks]

[Palmer clears throat, sighs] Got a job.

Good for you, Palmer.

[Vivian] Ah. Oh, good. [chuckles]

Cheers.


Now, bathrooms and classrooms get done every day. We’re the first that unlock the doors. Kids get here soon after. Make sure you get here on time. You need to wear this.

[Palmer] Okay. Should I get a set of keys?

Let’s see how it goes first.

When you finish this, the air conditioner in Maggie Hayes’s room is busted. I need you to fix it.

[Palmer] Yes, sir.

Gonna need these.


[Maggie] Ooh, good job, Kayleigh. I like those details.

[boy] Snowflakes.

[Maggie] I love that. Is that a house or a church? Stacy, I told you, put that away.

[knocks]

[Palmer] Ma’am, air conditioner.

Oh, yes. Uh, it’s– it’s this one. Thank God. Um…

Palmer.

[teacher chattering]

That’s Palmer.

[mocking] “That’s Palmer.”

[Maggie] Oh, great. So, hopefully you can fix this. It’s been making a crazy noise. It’s been really hot, and we haven’t been able to use it.

Stop, Toby!

Toby?

I didn’t do nothing.

How would you feel if someone did that to your painting? Go and get a paper towel and help clean that up. All right, everybody, keep going.


[congregation singing “This is the Day”]

Four o’clock.

I know. I know. Hey, Palmer, you met my wife yet, Lucille?

[Palmer] I haven’t.

Oh, it’s nice to meet you.

[Palmer] You too.

Heard a lot about you. You two have known each other since you were little, huh?

[Palmer] Oh, yeah. Since we were five. He was a little skinnier back then.

Hey, we’re working on that.

[man] Emily, come on. Get your butt in this car. Let’s go.

[Dot] It’s just shameful the way his mama carries on. I can’t believe the state hasn’t taken him away already.

Oh, he ain’t no trouble, Dot. Now, shush.

[Dot] I’m telling you, you can’t keep that boy.


Some people just have too much to say.

Who has too much to say?

Stop listening to our adult conversations, Sam.

But, Miss Vivian, I’m right here.

Don’t mean you have to listen. Dot’s always sticking her nose in other people’s business.

[Sam] Whose business?

I told you, stop listening, Sam.

I can’t stop listening, Miss Vivian, if you keep talking. Jeez Louise!


Hi, I’m Penelope. This is my world in the sky, and these are my friends.

[children] Yay!

Welcome to the club. Get your wands ready.

[Penelope] ♪ We fly together every day ♪

♪ Making friends along the way ♪

♪ Dot is cool and Phoebe’s nice ♪

♪ And I’m the one with sparkly tights ♪

[children] Whoa!

Miss Vivian is still sleeping.

[Penelope] Whee!

[children] Whee!

[Penelope] ♪ Doesn’t matter what people say ♪

♪ Through the clouds we make our way ♪

♪ Ooh, ooh, spread your wings ♪

♪ In Penelope’s Flying Princess Club ♪

[murmurs]


[male pastor] We’re here to celebrate Vivian Palmer, who we all hold deep in our hearts. In our celebration of remembering her joy, laughter… and a life well lived, we will mourn Vivian till we are once again reunited with her in the kingdom of heaven.

Vivian was a fine woman.

You take as much time as you need, Palmer, all right?


[pool balls clack]

[keys jingle]

[sighs]

[sighs]


Where are we going? Why’d I have to pack my bag?

[Palmer] Don’t worry about it.

[Palmer] Come on. Get out.

[car door slams]

[car door opens]

[Palmer] Come on.

[men chattering]

[chattering continues]

How long has she been gone this time?

[Palmer] About two weeks now.

And Vivian had him this whole time? Mm-hmm. Of course she did. I swear, this woman…

[sighs]

[Shelly] I ain’t here right now, so leave a message. Or don’t. I don’t give a shit.

[beeps]

[sighs] Well, [sighs] I can’t take him home. I mean, Emily alone is a handful. And you sure you can’t hang on to him for a little bit longer? You got the room.

[Palmer] He ain’t my problem.

All right. Leave him. I’ll put in a call to child services. He’s gonna have to go in the system.

[door opens]

[stammers] Palmer. Where are you going?

[door closes]

[train whistle blows in distance]

[sighs]

[sighs]

[Palmer] Fuck.

[sighs]


[Palmer clears throat]


[children clamoring]

[teachers chattering]

Palmer.


Miss Maggie gave me a ride home.

Hello.

[Palmer] Oh, uh, come on in.

Yeah, I just thought I’d say hello.

[Palmer] Can I, uh, get you something to drink?

Uh, water would be great. Thanks.

[Palmer] Right, sure.

[laughing on TV]

I don’t care what we do as long as we do it together. Last one to the moon is a beautiful egg.

[princess] Beautiful?

Miss Maggie, all the flying princesses are flying to the moon. Can you imagine? The moon.

That’s amazing.

[princesses] Whee!

[princess] I love this!

[Penelope] Hold on. Slow down.

[princess laughs]

[Palmer] Here you go.

Thank you.

[Palmer] No problem.

[Penelope] Flying to the moon is my favorite.

Hey, I’m sorry to hear about Vivian. I mean, I didn’t know her well, but, uh, she seemed like a really good person.

[Palmer] She was a good woman.

She actually was watching Sam quite a bit lately.

[Palmer] You wouldn’t know where Shelly is, would you?

[inhales deeply] I mean, your guess is as good as mine.

[Penelope] One, two, three.

[princesses] Princess power. Princess power…

[Maggie] So, how’s it going?

[Palmer] Uh, good. Yeah, um, uh, fine.

[Maggie] She’s never really gone for too long. [stammers] How about this? You know, I– I just give you my phone number, and if you– you have any questions, or if you need anything, or if it’s too much, you just give me a call.

[Palmer] Yeah, sure. That– That’d be helpful.

Do you have a cell phone?

[Palmer] No. Well, there’s… one on the wall.

May I?

[Palmer] Yeah, sure.

Old-school. I asked Sam if he wanted to stay with me, but he said he wanted to stay here with you.

[pen clicks]

[princess] Sparkles!

This is good of you. You know, most people would’ve left him.

[Palmer] Well, what was I supposed to do?

[princess] Oh, my goodness. Is that a dragon?

[Maggie] Bye, Sam.

Bye, Miss Maggie.

[Palmer] Okay, thanks.

Hmm.


[Shelly] I ain’t here right now, so leave a message. Or don’t. I don’t give a shit.

[beeps]

[Palmer sighs]

What you playing?

[Palmer] Solitaire.

Can I play?

[Palmer] Nope, it’s for one player.

Is this a boy or a girl?

[Palmer] Did you wash today?

Yeah, I washed earlier.

[Palmer] You stink.

Palmer!

[footsteps approaching]

[Palmer] Mm-hmm?

I just wanted to make sure you were still here.

[Palmer] I’m watching TV.

Okay. Palmer!

[footsteps approaching]

[Palmer whispers] Jesus Christ. What?

You’re not going anywhere, are you?

[Palmer] No. I’m right here.

Y’all ready to get out? I’m ready to get out!

[Palmer] What’s that?

I’m ready to get out.

[Palmer] Just get out. Here.

It’s cold.

[man on TV] At DuBois and Guidry, we’ve been working to get you your money–

[Palmer] [sighs] All right. Go to sleep.

Palmer.

[Palmer] Yeah?

Do you know when my mama’s coming back?

[Palmer] Nah, I wish I did.

I sometimes get mad at my mama for leaving. Do you ever get mad at yours?

[Palmer] I barely knew the woman.

But you knew your daddy.

[Palmer] That’s right.

Do you miss him?

[Palmer] Yeah. Yeah, sometimes I do.

Miss Vivian missed him too. But now, she gets to see him.

[Palmer] I’m sure she does. Go to sleep, Sam.

Palmer? Good night.

[Palmer] Good night.

[sighs]


[birds chirping]

[Palmer] Hey. Get in.

[country song playing on radio]

Hey, Palmer. My mama bought me this. She got it at a garage sale. She said it was a bargain ’cause she got it for 50 cents. And she said there was this woman named Heifer, ’cause that old heifer tried to steal it out from my mama. But my mama wouldn’t let her, ’cause she knew princesses were my favorite thing in the whole world.


[Maggie] All right. You guys are doing a great job. Tell me, what else do you see in the ocean? Hmm?

[girl] Jellyfish?

[Maggie] Jellyfish. And what do we see, Thomas?

Ew.

Ew.

[children chattering]

[Lucille] Palmer?

[man] All right.

[Lucille] Really?

Okay. Hold on. Stay right here.

Hey, Eddie. Hey, it’s Lucille.

[Palmer] Oh, hey.

Yeah, we met at church with Tommy.

[Palmer] Yeah, right. Right.

Yeah, Tommy mentioned you’re working at the school. So, uh… Emily just adores Sam, and so I was wondering if it’d be okay for them to have a playdate. Sam said I had to ask you. He said you were his daddy.

[Palmer] Playdate?

Yeah, they would, um, come right now over to our house so that they could play. It’s called a playdate. And then, um, you could just pick him up, say, around, uh– say, around 5:00.

[Palmer] Yeah, sure.

Yeah? Hey, guys.

[Sam] Told you.

[Lucille] Let’s do it.


[engine stops]

[keys clink]

[sighs]

[sighs]

[Lucille] Oh. Oh, look. He’s early. Oh, come in. Come on in.

[Palmer] Oh, Christ.

What are you doing? C– Come on.

[train whistle blows in distance]

I don’t know. He’s just sitting there.

[Palmer] [sighs]

I’m not gonna bite. You can come in. [chuckles] Just–

[Palmer] In–

Yeah.

[Lucille] I don’t know what he’s doing.

[Palmer] [sighs] Oh, to hell with it. Shit.

Can I get you anything?

[Palmer] No, no, no. Yeah.

You want anything? Okay.

Can I get your coat?

[Palmer] No, I’m good.

Hey, Palmer.

[Palmer] Hey, Sam. Uh, is Coles still at work?

Uh, yeah. That’s what he tells me.

[Palmer] Hmm.

[sighs] Oh, and look. It is teatime, see? Just make yourself comfortable right here. Actually, just– You wanna sit– Oh, this looks good.

How many lumps do you want?

[Palmer] Uh…

[whispers] She means sugar. Sugar.

[Palmer] Uh, two.

[Lucille] Oh.

[Sam] Uh, careful, Palmer. It’s hot.

[Lucille] Sir. Oh, this is beautiful.

[Sam] Thanks.

Mmm.

[saucer rattles]

Pinkies, please.

Pinkies up. Mmm.

[British accent] Do you know they drink tea in England?

Yes.

Oh, it’s so good. What do you think, Mr. Palmer?

[Palmer] Mmm.

Yes.

[Palmer] Mmm. Real good.

[Lucille smacks lips] Oh, I love it. I think I’ll have a little more.

Bye, Miss Lucille.

Bye, Sam.

[Palmer] Take care.

Bye.

Tea parties are my favorite.

[Palmer] So, uh, is Emily your girlfriend?

She says she wants to marry me when we get older.

[Palmer] That sounds like a good offer.

I’m not gonna marry her.

[Palmer] You never know. Maybe you will.

Nah. She’s a bossy little thing.

[Palmer] Huh. You don’t say.


[Palmer] Okay. Yeah, all right, Daryl. Yeah, I’ll be there. I can’t wait to see him play.

[Palmer] Jesus. Hey, you ever been to a football game?

Football?


[blowing whistle rhythmically]

[“When The Saints Go Marching In” playing]

[crowd chattering]

[Palmer] See that guy right out there? Number three. That’s the quarterback. That’s what I used to play.

Cool. Did you have a number?

[Palmer] I sure did, number nine.

Well, look who it is.

[Palmer] Hey.

Hi, Mr. Coles.

Hey, Sammy. Heard y’all had yourself a little tea party the other day.

[Palmer] Ooh, yeah.

Yeah, well, don’t worry. I’ve had to go to a few myself.

[Palmer] I bet.

God dang it. Max, Morgan, get off that fence! Duty calls. Y’all enjoy the game.

[Palmer] All right, bud.

[Coles] Hey!

[Palmer] You hungry?

Yep.

[woman] Thanks.

[Maggie] Thank you very much.

Hey, Miss Maggie.

Sam, what are you doing here? Are you a Rebels fan now?

Yep, that’s the quarterback out there. Palmer used to be him when he played.

Quarterback, huh?

[Palmer] A long time ago.

Okay, well, what can I get for you?

[Sam] Um…

I already know.

[Sam] Cookies.

Cookies.

Cookies!

[Maggie chuckles] All right. It’s on me, kiddo.

Thanks.

What else you got planned for the weekend?

I don’t know.

Do you wanna come with me to a bowling fundraiser tomorrow?

Sure. Can Palmer come too?

[Palmer] No, no, no. Miss Maggie invited you.

She don’t care. Right, Miss Maggie?

Sure, you’re more than welcome to join.

[Palmer] I can’t. I got things to do.

No, you don’t. You’re lying. You got nothing to do. Please, Palmer. Please.

I think someone wants you to come.

[Sam] You have to come.

[Palmer] Okay, all right. I’ll go.

Yes.


[male announcer] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Riverside High, home of the Riverside Rebels and the Honey Belles.

Whoo-hoo! Palmer!

What’s up, Palmer?

[Palmer] Hey, Sibs. How are ya?

All right.

[announcer] Don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets. Five dollars for the raffle tickets. Five dollars. All the proceeds…

[Palmer] All right, looks like we made it just in time.

Well, hey there, little fella. Can I have one of those? Thank you.

How the hell did you get stuck babysitting?

[Palmer] Ah…

Hey, don’t get mixed up with Shelly, man. [chuckles] Trust me on that. Keep your dick as far away from that one as possible. She’ll burn it right off.

[whistle blows]

[crowd cheering]

[Daryl] Good to have you home, man.

[Ned] Cookie, cookie, cookie.

[Palmer] Ned, Ned. Leave the boy’s cookies alone.

[announcer] It’s a fumble!

That’s good, man.

[chuckles]

Great play.

[whistle blows]

Look, see? Number ten. That’s my boy, Jake, right there.

[Palmer] Oh, yeah. I see him.

[Daryl chuckles]

[Palmer] How they doing this season anyway?

Are you kidding me? They’re 3-0. Won that last game by three touchdowns. It’s the best offensive line I’ve seen in years.

[crowd clamoring]

[whistle blows]

[man] Whoo!

[Palmer] Hey, uh… you ever see that Wessler kid anymore?

Why?

[Palmer] I tried looking him and his old man up. Couldn’t find either of ’em.

Man, you gotta let that shit go. What you should have done is beat his son’s ass too.

[Palmer] Nah.

Well, he was the one bragging about all that money his daddy got. Mind, there wasn’t even hardly nothing in there. And you go away for what? Old man lived, right? He was fine. [quietly] He was lucky you used an aluminum bat instead of wood. Otherwise, he’d be dead. Hey, you did your time, Palmer. You don’t owe nobody shit. Unlike Coles. Left you standing there with your dick in your hand. I ain’t talking shit. If you gonna be mad at somebody, it should be him.

[crowd clamoring]

[announcer] And there’s the pass. Jake Reed…

All right!

What did I tell you? Just like his goddamn daddy!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Honey Belles!

[Sam] The Honey Belles.

[cheering, indistinct]

[Honey Belles] We are Riverside!

We are Riverside!


[Palmer] Now, go on. Get inside and lock this door behind me.

Where are you going?

[Palmer] Don’t worry about it. It’s grown-up stuff.

Why can’t I come with you?

[Palmer] Because I said so.

My favorite part was the Honey Belles. My mama was a Honey Belle.

[Palmer] I’m sure she was. Now shut the door. Lock it.


[country music playing]

[music continues]

[Ned] No, no, her name was Bubba-Jean…

[laughing]

…and she was from Havana, Alabama–

[Palmer] Hold on. Her name was Bubba-Jean?

Here, kitty, kitty.

So she was gonna come over, I was gonna give her some of my grandmama’s moonshine.

[Jake] Hey, Sibs.

[man] Hey, Jake.

[Cosimo] Hey!

[Sibs] Hell of a catch.

[Cosimo] Great win, boys!

[chattering]

Hey, Jake!

Tommy held the line right here. Yeah.

Kick ass and take names, all right?

Jake!

[Jake] We’re doing what we do.

[man] Best game y’all ever played.

[Daryl] Hey.

Too big of a football star now to say “hi” to your old man?

[Ned laughs]

[Jake] Let’s get out of here. He’s drunk.

[Coles laughing]

[Ned coughs]

I’m gonna go get a beer. Jake. Hey, Palmer. Look who it is. It’s your boss man, Sibs. Hey, get me a beer over here! Hey, how– how’s my boy Palmer working out for you? He’s being a good boy for you?

He’s doing just fine, Daryl.

I’m– I’m sorry. Am I bothering you?

I’m just trying to have a drink here… in peace.

Yeah, well, if you’re looking for peace, I suggest you find another fucking bar.

[Daryl] Where the hell is my beer?

[Ned groans]

[Palmer] I’ll go.

All right.

Hey, Daryl. Come on. We got you a beer. Come on. Let’s play some pool.

[chuckles] All right.

Yeah, let’s play.

[Palmer] Hey, let’s play some pool.

[Coles] All right.

[Palmer] Coles, grab our shit.


Good morning. Wake up. I can’t wait to go bowling.

[Palmer] What are you doing with that?

It’s for you.

[Palmer] [sighs] Go get dressed.

[grunts]

[sighs]


[man] Whoo!

[“Harmony Hall” playing]

[Maggie] Whoo!

[yelps]

[Maggie] Yes!

[exclaims]

[Maggie] Whoo! Whoo!

[Maggie] Okay.

[Sam] All right!

Pretty good.

[Maggie] Whoo!

Oh, my gosh! Good job! [laughs]

Good job, Sammy!

[exclaims]

[Palmer] I like those dance moves, man.

[Maggie laughs]

I’m done. Can I have some money to play some games? Thank you.

[Palmer] And we’re leaving in ten minutes.

[Sam] Okay.

Did you get one of these yet?

[Palmer] Nope. One on the wall still works.

So, quarterback at Riverside.

[Palmer] Ah. Yeah, the glory days. And then I went on to LSU.

[groans]

[Palmer] What? What is that face?

I’m a closeted Bulldogs fan.

[Palmer] You went to Georgia?

Go, Dawgs! Sic ’em!

[Palmer] No, no. You can’t say that around here.

You’re the first person I told, so if you tell anyone, I will deny it.

[Palmer] [chuckles] Your secret is safe with me.

Thank you.

[Palmer] I only went to LSU for about a year, and then, um… then got sort of a different education.

Yeah, I did hear about that. People like to talk.

[Palmer] Don’t I know. And now to, uh, be back here, it’s a…

[grunts] Yes! Another jackpot!

[Palmer] So, how’d you end up here?

Mmm. I was in a different institution. Marriage.

[Palmer] Oh.

Yeah, I was married and living in Atlanta. Um, he and I met in college. Tied the knot right after. Things didn’t work out. Once the divorce was final, I wanted to be closer to my family. And I got a cousin here in Sylvain, so… I moved. You know, sometimes, yeah, it can be a little too, um… country.


Trash bins need to be washed out. Take ’em round back. There’s a hose. Wipe ’em down.

[Palmer] Yes, sir. [sighs] Hey, Daryl was an asshole in high school. Not much has changed.

[Sibs] Personally, I don’t spend time with assholes.

[Palmer] Yes, sir.


[children chattering]

Sam.

Mm-hmm?

Come talk with me for a moment.

Okay.

[chuckles]

I saw that Mr. Palmer gave you a ride to school this morning. Does he always do that?

Yes, sir.

And he lives right next door to you. Is that right?

His house is right beside my mama’s trailer.

And he’s always nice to you?

Yes, sir.

And everything’s okay?

Mm-hmm.

Sam, if everything weren’t okay, you could tell me, no matter what it is.

Mm-hmm.

It’s okay, son. Go on.

Your breath smells kinda funny.

Uh, okay. Well, carry on.


[Palmer] [spits] Rinse.

[Sam spits]

[Palmer] Come on. Get dressed. Can’t be late.

I’ll see you in a couple weeks.

Good luck to you.

[Sam] Bye.

[Palmer] You like root beer floats?

I don’t know. Never had one.

[Palmer] What? Never had one? Come on, man.

[Palmer] Well?

[Sam] Heaven in a cup.

[slurps]

Why did you have to go see that man anyways?

[Palmer] ‘Cause I did something bad, and he’s gotta check up on me to make sure I’m doing good now.

Well, what’d you do?

[Palmer] I– I wasn’t a nice person. I hurt somebody. And I stole money and a whole lot of other things that didn’t belong to me.

My mama stole money once, but she never had to go see that man.

[Palmer] Hmm. [chuckles] Some people get caught, and some don’t. I got caught.

My mom said she had to steal ’cause we were poor.

[Palmer] Lots of people are poor. They don’t steal.

You did.

[Palmer] That’s right, I did. And I wish I hadn’t.

I stole too.

[Palmer] You did, huh? You think that person misses what you took?

I know she does. She cried in class. Miss Maggie asked if anyone had seen it, and I said no.

[Palmer] Oh. So you lied too. You think that little girl would feel better if she got back what you stole?

Yeah. I think I’d feel better too.

[Palmer] I bet she’d appreciate it.

[Sam sighs] I stole from Miss Vivian too, but I can’t give it back.

[Palmer] You did, huh?

I was hungry.

[Palmer] It’s all right. But I bet if you’d asked Miss Vivian for anything in the world, she’d have helped you out. What do you think?

Yeah, think she would’ve.

[Palmer] Me too. You ain’t gonna go all psycho on me after all that sugar, are you?

[Sam chuckles]

[Palmer] All right, tucked in there. [sighs]

This is way more comfier than the couch.

[Palmer] Well, that’s ’cause it’s a bed.

Palmer?

[Palmer] Yeah?

Nothing.

[Palmer] Good night, Sam.

Night.


[sighs]

[clicking]

[snow globe playing lullaby]

[Palmer sighs, whistles]

[Palmer] You think maybe we ought to put something else in there today?

Okay.

[Palmer] Grab that loaf of bread and a plastic bag.

[bottles in refrigerator rattling]

[Palmer] Throw it on the table.

[silverware clanks]

[Palmer] Sit down. All right. Now, not many people know this. When I was your age, I won the state sandwich-making contest three years in a row.

There’s no state sandwich contest.

[Palmer] There ain’t? Then how’d I win? Now, the secret is you gotta spread the mustard evenly on both slices of bread. Judges love that.

You’re fibbing.

[plate clanks]

[Palmer] Are you calling me a liar?

A matter of fact, I am.

[Palmer] Yeah, I am. Look, just do me a favor, okay?

[plastic bag rustles]

[Palmer] You can have the cookies, but will you just eat this before?

[sighs] Okay.

[Palmer] Attakid. Let’s do it.


Morning, Sam.

Hey, Mr. Sibs.

Early, huh?

Early bird gets the worm.

[Sibs chuckles, sighs]

[keys jingle]

[bag zipper unzips]


[Palmer and Maggie] ♪ …dear Sam ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

[Palmer] There you go. Oh, one left. One left!

[Maggie] Oh! [chuckles]

[Emily] Blow it. [laughs]

[Palmer] There you go.

[Maggie] Yay! [laughs]

I hope you like it.

A guitar! But I don’t know how to play it.

[chuckles] It’s–

[Maggie chuckles]

[Palmer] It’s actually called a ukulele, and I’ll show you how to play it. Here. There you go. So here’s your notes. G, C, E, A.

[plucks strings]

[Palmer] And what you want to say is

♪ My dog has fleas ♪

What do you think about that?

Cool.

Try it.

♪ My dog has fleas ♪

[Palmer] Wow!

That’s pretty good.

[Sam] Thanks.

My dog really does have fleas.

[Maggie and Palmer laugh]

[Sam] Good to know.

[Palmer] Try it again. See if y’all can do it together.

♪ My dog has fleas ♪

♪ My dog has fleas ♪

[water running]

♪ My dog has fleas ♪

[Palmer] That was a mistake.

[Maggie] Oh, yeah.

[Sam and Emily continue singing]

Is this you?

[Palmer] Yeah.

Look at how cute you were.

[Palmer] Oh, all right.

[chuckles]

Did Vivian raise you alone?

[Palmer] Uh, my dad passed away when I was in high school. She took care of me.

Hmm. And your mother?

[Palmer] Ran off when I was about five. Vivian was more like a mother to me.

Mm. It’s a lot of mail you got here.

[Palmer] Yeah, I know.

You know you gotta open it, right?

[Palmer] Why? Can’t be anything good in there.

If you want, I could– I can help you sort through some of it.

[Palmer] Nah, you don’t have to do that.

I know I don’t have to. I mean, just… There might be some cool coupons in there.

[Palmer] [chuckles] Oh, Jesus.

[knocks]

[Palmer] Hey, be careful with that.

[Sam and Emily laugh]

All right, this one is for $12,61.

[Palmer] Okay. There’s 13 even, and you can keep the change.

Ooh, thank you. Do you wanna do the lawyer next?

[Palmer] Yeah. Yeah.

All right.

[paper rustling]

[Palmer] What’s it say?

Um… It’s about Vivian’s will. The lawyer just wants you to call him as soon as you can.

[Palmer] That’s it?

Mm-hmm.

[Palmer] Okay.


[male lawyer] This Eddie Palmer? Were you aware of Vivian’s will?

[Palmer] No, I’m not.

Well, according to your grandmother’s will, her house and land are to be put up for sale, and the money is gonna be donated to the Saints of Christ Church. But she also left instructions that you’ll receive $5,000.

[Palmer] Hold on. She– She’s giving the house to the church? These are her wishes?

I’m afraid so. Do you have any other questions?

[Palmer] When do I gotta move out?

[lawyer] Well, once the house sells, you’ll have 30 days to vacate the premises.


‘Kay, ready? Snap to the right.

Turn to the left.

Go like that. Not like…

[Emily] This?

Okay? So get like– Yeah.

Hey, Sam. Why do you act like a girl?

I– I don’t know.

I know why. ‘Cause he’s a faggot.

[Sam] Stop, Toby.

He’s probably going as a fairy for Halloween.

What you gonna do about it?

Nothing.

[Sam gasps]

Go on to class, Sam.

Y’all get outta here.

You touch that boy again, I’m gonna break your arm.

Got it?

Go.


And remember, if you wanna be a member of Penelope’s Flying Princess Club, all you have to do is write us a letter.

We’ll even mail you a certificate.

[princess] I love new members.

Penelope the Princess said if you write their show a letter, you can join their club. They even give you a certificate.

[Penelope] Okay, everybody fly back.

Can you write me one?

[Palmer] Look. There’s things in this world you can be, and there’s things that you can’t.

[princesses] …ready for adventure.

[Palmer] Okay? How many boys do you see on that show?

None.

[Palmer] And what does that tell you?

That I can be the first.

[Penelope] Here goes.

[Penelope gasps] Sparkles! Hello, Sparkles.

Gemma, Lilly, come on.


Look! They have it. Can I get it?

[Palmer] What about being Peter the Prince or, I don’t know, a pirate?

I don’t wanna be a pirate. I wanna be Penelope the Princess.

[Palmer] You can’t be a princess, so pick something else.

Why? Emily is going as a princess.

[Palmer] Emily is a girl.

So?

[Palmer] [sighs] Come here. Look at me. Some costumes are made for girls, and some are made for boys. Now, it don’t mean you can’t wear it. You can. But kids are mean. Especially when they see something that they ain’t used to seeing. They just expect to see a girl wearing this costume. Like your friend Emily.

They should make one for boys.

[Palmer] They do. It’s Peter the Prince.

You ready for Halloween?

Yep. I can’t wait.

You have yourself a good time.

Eddie Palmer. Hello, Sam. You still looking after this boy? You got no right looking after any child. You ain’t nothing but a criminal.

[Palmer] Come on, Sam.

You know what? Palmer’s been seeing that man, and he’s been doing good. So you can mind your own ass.

[Palmer] Come on.

I am calling child services.

[bell on door rings]

[Palmer] Hey, Sam? I’m doing good, huh?

Real good.

[Palmer] Come on.


I can’t wait to see what everyone’s gonna be for Halloween tomorrow. Group three, you can get your backpacks. Bye, sweetie.

Hey, Sam. Do you have a Halloween costume for tomorrow?

Uh-huh. Penelope the Flying Princess. Palmer got it for me.

Penelope? That’s exciting. Okay, I can’t wait to see it.

Goodbye, Miss Maggie.

Bye.


[Palmer sighs] Quite an outfit.

I can’t get it to stay on my head.

[Palmer] Come here. [Palmer sighs] There you go. I hope that works.

Me too. Thanks.

[Palmer] You’re welcome, kiddo.


Let me guess. Pink or purple. You can’t decide.

[all chattering]

[Sam] I’m the flying princess cowboy. Let’s ride. Giddy-giddy.

[Toby] Samantha is wearing a girl’s costume. She’s probably wearing panties.

[all laughing]

[Toby laughs]

[door opens]

[Maggie] Excuse me, class.

Does anybody know where Miss Maggie is?

[boy] You’re right there!

[children] No.

Uh, no, I’m not. I’m Principal Forbes.

[boy] And that’s a fake mustache!

Uh-uh, it’s a real mustache. I grew it this morning.

[class] No!

Miss Maggie must be playing hooky, ’cause today Principal Forbes is taking care of your classroom.

No.

Yes, I am. You see, that is the entire point of Halloween or any other day of the year. You can just be whoever you wanna be.

[all murmuring]

[girl laughs]

[gasps]

[boy 2] I’m a cowboy!

Is that an astronaut? And we got a witch. And is that– That looks like a flying princess. Yes, it does. [gasps] And another one. [gasps] And another one. How wonderful does everybody look today?


Trick or treat!

[Maggie] Ah! I’ve got some treats. Come on in.

[Palmer] Thank you.

These are my favorite.

[Palmer] Wow. Nice place you got.

Thank you. Who are you for Halloween?

[Palmer] Me?

Yeah.

[Palmer] I was a janitor.

[Maggie chuckles]

[Maggie] You want to give me a hand?

[Palmer] That’s enough candy, Sam.

[Maggie sighs]

[Palmer] That was so good.

Oh, good, good, good.

[Palmer] How’s he doing?

Oh, he’s watching TV in there.

[Palmer] Boy loves TV.

Cheers.

[Palmer] Cheers.

Hmm. It turned out to be a really good day at school today.

[Palmer] That’s good.

I think he really had fun. [clears throat] And I’m glad you guys stopped by for dinner.

[Palmer] Me too.

So, I gotta ask you something.

[Palmer] Okay.

How did you end up in prison?

[Palmer] [sighs] That’s a longer story.

I don’t know. I don’t get it.

[Palmer] It– It’s a fair question. [sighs, clears throat] [chuckles] Things were going okay at LSU. Until one game, I get hit so hard, I can’t even tell you my name. Couple surgeries, and, uh, that was the end of football and school.

Hmm.

[Palmer] Came back home. Started taking pills. Doing other things. I’d end up in jail for a night… swear I wouldn’t do it again. [Palmer breathes deeply] There was this rich kid. He was always going on and on, bragging about how much money his dad kept in the safe at the house. One night, me and the guys, we broke in. Nobody was supposed to be there. His old man comes home. Had a gun. I nearly beat him to death. [sighs] And the next thing I know, I’m in prison.

You weren’t alone?

[Palmer] Don’t matter. I did what I did.

[Maggie] Yeah. But look at what you did today.


[Palmer] He’s out.

[Maggie] Mmm. Are you tired?

[Palmer] No.

[crickets chirping]

[Palmer] I swear that boy will sleep through a freight train.

[Maggie chuckles]

[Palmer sighs]

This was fun.

[Palmer] Mm-hmm.

All right.

[Palmer] All right. I guess I’ll see you at school.

Good night.

[Palmer] Good night.

[Palmer] Still looking.


[Maggie] All right, guys. I’ll give you a few more minutes. And it’s okay if you make a mistake.

Sam, do you wanna have another tea party?

Can we play dress-up?

Of course.

I’m in.

Yeah.


What are we going to do, huh? Hey, Eddie. Hey, they are so excited. Listen, listen. Don’t even rush yourself. Just come whenever you’re ready, okay? And Daryl’s stopping by too. We can all have a beer.

[Palmer] Say hello to Tommy.

I will. We’re gonna have fun.

See you later, Palmer.

[Palmer] See ya, bud.

[typing]

May I help you?

[Palmer] How’s that air conditioner working out?

You’re gonna get me in trouble.

[Palmer] Am I?

[Maggie chuckles, kisses]

I gotta go.

[Palmer] No, you don’t.

Yes. Yes, I do.

[Palmer] [sighs] Hey.

Hmm.

[Palmer] Hey. Will you help me with something?

Yeah.

[Palmer] Come here. [sighs] I, uh– I don’t know. All this stuff. Do you know anybody who could use it? I think my grandmother would’ve loved that.

[vehicle approaches]

Yeah, I’m sure I do.

[car door opens, closes]

[rapid footsteps approaching]

[Sam gasps, sobs]

[Lucille] Sam!

[Palmer] Hey, bud. What–

What happened to you?

[Sam crying]

Eddie, I am so–

[Palmer] What the hell is going on?

I don’t even know. I left him for a bit. They were playing dress-up. When I came back, he had makeup smeared all over his face and he was crying. I don’t even know what happened. I’m sorry.

[Maggie whispers] It’s okay. It’s okay, sweetie.

[Palmer] Hey, buddy. Hey. You wanna tell me and Miss Maggie what happened?

[Sam sobs]

[Palmer] Hey. It’s all right. Was it the same ones that pick on you? Were they over there?

[sniffles]

[Palmer] Listen to me, son. I know you don’t wanna hear this, but sometimes you gotta hit ’em back.

Eddie.

[pants]

They were bigger than me.

[Palmer] I know, son, but if you don’t stand up for yourself now, those kids are never gonna leave you alone.

[Maggie] Eddie.

They weren’t kids. [sniffs]

[sobs]

[Palmer] What do you mean?

[Maggie shushes]

Okay, look at me, okay? Who did this to you, Sam?

[Sam sobs]

[Palmer] It’s okay. You can tell us.

[sniffs]

Toby’s dad.

[Palmer] What?

Toby’s dad. Your friend, Daryl, he did it.

Hey, Eddie.

[keys jingle]

Hey, Eddie. Eddie. Hey, Eddie! Where are you going? Eddie, don’t do–

[“Something Real” playing]

[song continues]

[patrons murmuring]

Hey, look. He was already wearing a dress. I just gave the little faggot some–

[man] Palmer, no! What are you doing?

Stop!

Eddie!

Palmer!

[man] Palmer!

[Ned] Eddie! Hey!

[Palmer] Get off me!

[Cosimo] Eddie, Eddie.

What the hell you doing? My–

Simmer down, man!

[Coles] Palmer. Palmer–

[Palmer] Funny to you too, Coles, huh?

[grunts]

[Palmer] Seeing a grown man hold a little boy down, make him cry while he put makeup on him?

I was not– I wasn’t there–

[Palmer] The fuck you weren’t! It was at your fucking house.

I wasn’t there.

[pants]

[Palmer] [whispers] Let’s get one thing straight. Your daddy comes to see me, you ain’t walkin’ away this time. Believe me on that. Twelve fucking years!

[pool cue clattering]

What’s everybody lookin’ at? Show’s over.

[Daryl] Fuck.

[man] Come on. Let’s go.

[Cosimo] Get up.

[Ned] Oh, my God, Daryl.

Come on.

Is he okay?

Jesus H. Christ.

[pool cue clatters]

[crickets chirping]

[Palmer sighs]

What are you gonna do? Beat up everyone that picks on him?

[Palmer] Hmm. No, just the ones over 30.

There are other ways to handle things. Are you gonna get in trouble?

[Palmer] Daryl ain’t gonna press charges.

Lucky you. Sam cried himself to sleep… asking for you.

[Palmer] Hey, I– [sighs]

[engine starts]


[water running]

[grunts]

[sighs]

I got you this.

[Palmer] Sam. Listen to me. What Daryl did to you was wrong. You know that, right? You didn’t do anything bad. You understand me?

Okay.

[Palmer] Not a thing. You hear me, son?

Yeah.

[Palmer] Okay. Hey. I got an idea. Come on.

[Palmer] All right. Here’s what we got so far. “Dear Penelope’s Flying Princess Club”– Did I get that right?

Yeah.

[Palmer] “My name is Sam, and I would very much like to be a member.”

Make sure you tell them how much I love their show, and I watch it every day.

[Palmer] “I watch your show, and… I love it more than anything in the world.” All right. All you gotta do is sign your name right there. Should be good to go.

[paper tearing, rustling]

Hey, Sammy. Hi, baby.

[Shelly murmurs]

Aren’t you gonna come give your mama a hug? Come on.

Hey, Mama.

Mmm. Oh.

[Shelly] Oh, boy. I missed you so much. [sighs]

[whispers] Look at you. Hi. [chuckles]

You okay?

Yeah. Yeah, I’m good. I, uh– I heard about Miss Vivian. I’m sorry about that. She was a good woman. I liked her.

Sammy, I think it’s time for us to go home, baby. You wanna go get your stuff?

[Sam] B-Back home?

Yeah.

[Shelly sniffs]

[Palmer] Don’t forget this.

I won’t.

[Palmer] Hey. We had a good time. And you can come and visit me whenever you like.

[Sam sniffs]

[Palmer] All right. I’ll go get the rest of your stuff.

Thanks, Palmer.

Where’d you get that? That ain’t yours.

Palmer got it for me for my birthday.

Hey. Guess what? I got you the best present ever. Greatest thing in the world. And I had to travel so far to get it. Far and wide. And I chased the rainbow for you.

[laughs]

Really?

Yeah. And it’s pretty. I’m excited to give it to you.

[Palmer] All right, kiddo.

Oh, wow. You really moved in here, huh? [chuckles]

Well, you were gone a while.

Yeah. Come on. Let’s go. Sam, I said it’s time to go. Come on.

[Palmer] Go on.

Thanks for watching him for me. Let’s go get your present. Come on. Let’s go home. I wanna take a bath.

[door closes]


Hey, is Sam okay?

[Palmer] Shelly came back.

She did?

[Palmer] Mm-hmm.

Hmm.

[Palmer] Didn’t look too good either. Kinda sickly, you know?

I’m sure he’ll be back tomorrow.

[Palmer] I hope so. Hey, uh–

I’m gonna– I’m gonna get back–

[Palmer] Yeah, no. I’ll let you get back.

[door closes]

[sighs]

[pool balls clack]


[door opens]

[Palmer] Hey. Where’s your lunch box?

Jerry threw it away.

[Palmer] Did he? What’d he do that for?

He said my mama was raising me to be a queer, and he ain’t living with no queer kid.

[Palmer] Hmm.

What does queer mean?

[Palmer] Well, some people think it means you’re different.

Are you queer?

[Palmer] [laughs] Well, I’m different. That’s for sure. Hey. You know what else we are? Good-looking.

[Sam chuckles]

[Palmer] No, don’t laugh. We’re both good-looking fellas. It intimidates people. Makes ’em afraid. Plus you can never trust a guy with a mullet.

What’s a mullet?

[Palmer] It’s creepy is what it is. Come on, I’ll give you a ride to school.

Thanks, Palmer.

[Palmer] Hey, how about after school I take you to get a root beer float?

I can’t. I gotta help my mama.

[Palmer] Why?

‘Cause we’re moving to Jerry’s. And I’m gonna have to go to another school.

[Palmer] I guess I’ll just have to visit you then.

Promise?

[Palmer] You got my word, kiddo.


[children chattering]

[Jerry] Let’s go. Come on. Christ. Like mother like daughter. You two.

[Shelly] Yeah.

[Shelly] Oh, I love the commentary. You always rush me. Don’t rush me!

[Jerry muttering]


[Shelly] …you fucking touch me! Get away from me!

[Jerry] Just calm the fuck down, all right. This ain’t my goddamn fault.

[Shelly] Get the fuck away from me.

Just going up here, just listening.

[Palmer] Hey.

[Jerry] Ain’t like it’s the first time.

[Palmer] Hey. What was that? What the fuck is going on? Where’s Sam? Where is he?

[Shelly] He’s gone. He ain’t here. [sobbing] The fucking police, they– The CPS, they took him away.

[Shelly sobbing]

[Jerry] Mother of the fucking year you are.

[train whistle blows]


[woman] There’s a case hearing with his mother in family court on Monday. The judge will decide then if Sam is placed into a home or returned to his mother. Normally, we try to find relatives for temporary custody. I’ll need you to fill out this paperwork.

[Palmer] I, uh– I have a felony record.

Are you currently on parole?

[Palmer] Mm-hmm.

I’m sorry. The agency won’t approve a foster care license if you’re on parole.

[Palmer] [sighs heavily] Can I see him?

No.

[Palmer] He’s probably scared, ma’am. If he could just see a friendly face–

Sir, I understand. But not unless you’re a parent, a family member, or a legal guardian. It’s possible the judge could make an exception. It’s unlikely.


[Shelly sniffs]

What do you want? Where’s Jerry?

[Palmer] I don’t know. You tell me.

Hmm. Hey. Hey, you got a cigarette for me?

[Shelly sniffs]

Thank you. Why are you here, huh? What’s this?

[Shelly sniffs]

[Shelly] A legal guardian?

[Palmer] You’d be signing Sam over to my care.

Why the fuck would I do that?

[Palmer] Because unless you get clean, I don’t see the courts giving him back to you.

I need you to get outta my house.

[Palmer] Take it.

You think you can buy my son?

[Palmer] No.

Huh? You think that you’re better than me?

[Palmer] No.

I think you do. You think just ’cause you fucked me… that you’re his daddy? You ain’t his fucking daddy. And you ain’t fucking better than me neither. And I don’t want your money.

[Palmer] I don’t think I’m better than you.

Oh, yeah. [chuckles]

[Palmer] Hey, I don’t think I’m better than you.

Mm-hmm.

[Palmer] Hell, maybe a little bit luckier this time around.

[chuckles]

[Palmer] But if something were to happen to you… they will take Sam and put him wherever they want.

No.

[Palmer] And you and I both know…

No.

[Palmer] …he ain’t like other boys.

They are gonna give Sammy back to me. Sammy and I, we’re gonna be fine. Okay? We’re gonna leave this shit town behind us, and I– I’m gonna get clean. I’m gonna do it, you know? Hey! I’m gonna buy us a big house. I’m gonna show you, and you will see that I– I can do it. I can– [breathes shakily]

[Palmer] Please take the money.

No.

[Palmer] Shelly, listen to me.

Don’t look at me like that.

[Palmer] Please.

No. Don’t look at me like that. Don’t look at me! [breathes raggedly] Get outta my house. Get outta my house! Get the fuck out of my house!

[sobbing]

[panting]


I’m sorry to just show up like this.


Mr. Palmer, come with me.

Mr. Palmer, you appear to be moving in the right direction, doing well. And perhaps, once you get your living situation squared away and are no longer on parole… you can apply for the license again.

[Palmer] Please. I did what I did when I was younger, and I got what I got, so I ain’t– I ain’t blaming nobody, Your Honor. But truth is, I haven’t felt like I was good at anything in a long time… until Sam.

My decision is that the boy will remain under the care of the state. He will be placed in a registered foster home until the mother is well enough to regain custody.

[Palmer] Your Honor, she’s a drug addict. That ain’t gonna happen.

But, for now, I’m sorry. I have to deny your request for temporary custody.

[Palmer sniffs] Don’t do this. I know what it feels like to be left alone. I can’t abandon that boy. I will not abandon that boy. [breathes raggedly] I promise you… nobody would ever have to worry about Sam again. I’d take real good care of him. Real good care.

I’m sorry. That’s my decision.

[man] Excuse me, ma’am.

I’m supposed to be there. Hey! I’m here.

You can’t go in there.

Sir, get your hands off me. I’m here. I’m sorry I’m late. I–

[guard] I’m sorry, Your Honor.

What is he doing here?

[judge] Excuse me.

I am Sam’s mother.

Please do not approach the bench.

Ma’am– Sorry, ma’am, no. Um… Your Honor, I’m sorry I’m late. But I’m here. Ma’am, them police, they– they didn’t even talk to Sam, okay? They just came into my house, and they took my boy away. And they didn’t even say why.

Miss Burdette, a complaint of abuse and neglect has been made to Child Protective Services. And you were described as being violent and agitated.

That ain’t true. Ma’am, no. That– Agitated, yes. I was agitated. I’ll admit to that. Um, I’ve had some health problems recently. I ain’t trying to deny that. Uh– Listen, I don’t know what your notes say, or what he said, or anyone else. But I ain’t never laid a hand on my boy. [breathes shakily] I ain’t never even raised my voice to Sammy. Ma’am, he ain’t an unhappy boy.

Miss Burdette, I understand.

I’ll do whatever you want. What? You wanna piss-test me? Then fine. Test me. I beg you. Please don’t send my little boy to go live with no strangers. [breathing shakily] He needs to be with his mama. Please.

[shaky breathing continues]


[birds chirping]

[Palmer] [mouthing] You good?

[Shelly] Sam? Hey, Sammy. Come on, baby. Hey. More to put in the car. Come on.

[Jerry] I am fucking tired of your fucking bullshit!

[Jerry] Goddamn it! You again? How many fucking times do I gotta tell you to stop all these fucking things?

[Shelly] I am so tired of you!

[Jerry] I’m gonna burn down this fucking trailer. And you and that half a fag kid are gonna be out on the goddamn streets. He’s gonna be sucking dick by Christmas. I am fucking tired of your fucking bullshit.

[Jerry continues, indistinct]

You lying fucking whore! Go ahead. Fucking say it. What the fuck is wrong with you anyway?

[Sam] Mama! Get off of my mama!

Get off of me!

Mama!

Get this goddamn kid off of me. Go!

[Shelly] Don’t hurt my baby, please!

Get off me, you little shit!

Please!

Is that what you want? Let me tell you where I’m gonna put your–

[Shelly] No! Hey!

[Jerry] What?

[Shelly] Oh, my God. You just made Jerry fly. He just fucking flew. I ain’t never seen him do that before.

[Shelly laughing]

[Palmer] Come on, Sam. Come on.

[Shelly] He flew! Huh?

Hey. Hey! Where are you going with my boy? Hey! Son of a bitch!


[Palmer] Hey. It’s gonna be all right. Okay?

Okay.

[Palmer] All right?

All right.

[train whistle blows]

[Palmer] Stay here, Sam, okay?

[Palmer] You got a phone I can use? Thank you.

[Maggie] Hello?

[Palmer] It’s me. I took Sam.

Jesus Christ. Eddie, Shelly called the police. They’re looking for you. You gotta bring him back.

[Palmer] I can’t. Not to that.

Eddie, it’s kidnapping.

[Palmer] She ain’t fit.

Maybe so, but where you gonna go? You wanna go back to prison? Is that what you want? She’s Sam’s mother, Eddie. Good or bad, right or wrong, she’s Sam’s mother.

[Palmer] Call Coles.

[phone beeps]

What are we gonna do?

[engine starts]


[Palmer] Everything’s gonna be okay. All right?

[Shelly yells] There’s my boy! Sammy!

[man] Get back.

No! Hey. Sammy! Oh, my God. Sa–

Hey, hey.

[Shelly] You fucking let go of me! Oh, my God. No!

[Chief Coles] Hold her.

[Shelly shouting]

[Palmer] We gotta get out now. Come on.

[Shelly] Sammy! Baby!

Hold her. Steady.

Sammy! Sammy! I’m gonna take you to court.

[Chief Coles] Calm down.

Get her on the ground and keep her there.

Shit.

[Shelly] Sammy.

I’m calm! Sammy, come to Mama.

[Coles] Look. She ain’t in any shape. Out of her goddamn mind.

Oh, please, baby, come here.

[Shelly] Yeah.

[Coles panting]

I’m gonna take Sammy to Maggie’s. He’ll stay there for now.

[Shelly] My baby.

All right?

Oh, I love you. Hi. Are you okay? Did he hurt you? So worried about you.

I’m so sorry. Truly.

Turn around, Eddie.

[Shelly] Tell me you’re okay.

Put your hands behind your back. You just couldn’t stay outta trouble, could ya?

[handcuffs click]

[Shelly] Mama was so worried about you.

Let’s go.

Hey, baby. My precious boy.

[Palmer] Don’t you let him go back into the system.

[Shelly] It’s okay.

No!

[Shelly] No, Sammy, Sammy, no.

[Sam] Let him go!

[Coles] Hey, hey, hey. Come on, Sammy. Stop. Hey. I said stop it.

You get your fucking hands off my boy!

[Chief] Knew they let you out too soon.

[Shelly] You’re hurting him.

Come on, Sammy.

No, baby!

[Sammy] Let him go!

[Shelly] Sammy. Hey, baby. I love you. I got you. Your mama loves you. I’m gonna take care of you.

You never take care of me!

I love you. [sobs] Yes, I do.

You never do!

I do. I do. I got you, honey.

Let me go!

[Shelly moans]

Palmer!

[Sam bangs on car window]

Palmer!

[Palmer] Go to your mama, Sam.

[Sam crying] Palmer!

[Palmer] It’s okay.

Palmer.

[Coles] Sam.

Palmer! [pants] Palmer! [panting] Palmer! Palmer! Palmer! Palmer!


[footsteps approaching]

[keys jingling]

[lock clicks]

[door opens]

[Coles sighs] You’re free to go. Shelly said you were just taking Sam to get something to eat. Too high to remember, I guess. So we gotta drop the charges. Sam’s still at Maggie’s.

[Palmer] [sighs]

Hey. I owed you one.

[Palmer] Yeah. You did.


[knocking]

You think I’m a terrible mother.

Hey, Sammy. Hi, baby. Hey. I know you’re mad at me. It’s okay. I’d be mad at me too. Well, uh, I need to talk to you about something real important. Do you think we could do that? Yeah, I can sit here with you?

Yeah, Mama.

Thank you. I’ve been doing some thinking about some things. I think it would be best if you live with Palmer. He’s a good man. And he cares about you so much. [breathes shakily] And… [sobs] Um… Um… [sniffs, sobs] I’m s-struggling. Baby, I’m really struggling now. But– Give me your hands. It– It– It isn’t because I don’t love you. I love you with all my heart. [sniffs] What do you think? You wanna live with Palmer? You want him to be your daddy?

Yeah.

Yeah. [sobs] Come here and give me a hug. [sobs]

[Sam sobs]

[Shelly crying]

[Shelly] All right.


[Palmer] Got everything you need?

[Sam] Looks like it. Are we gonna have dinner tonight with Miss Maggie?

[Palmer] Yep. She’s cooking your favorite, broccoli.

[Sam] Broccoli?

[Palmer] [chuckling]


[Palmer] [sighs] Forbes’s air conditioner is fixed. I’ll get it over to him.

Oh, Palmer. I have something for you.

[keys jingle]

Your keys. Hmm. I think you’ve earned these.

[Palmer] Thank you, Sibs.

Well, Junior don’t like to wait. Get on outta here.


Bye, Sam.

Bye, Emily.

[Palmer] Hey, when’s our next tea party?

I don’t know. You tell me. I don’t know the schedule.

[Palmer] Come on. We gotta go pick something up.

[guitar ballad playing]

[Palmer] Hey, Sam? Come here. It’s for you.

I’ve never got mail before.

[Palmer] Open it. See what it says.

[song continues]

[gasps]

Look at it. There’s a golden star. And look at my name. It’s right here. Sam Burdette, and–

[Palmer] Yeah. Yeah. Oh. [laughs] Hey. Congratulations.

[song continues]

[song continues]

[song fades]

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