318 "Fate"
(Original Air Date: March 20, 1999)

Written by Carla Kettern; Directed by Gary Nelson; (as "fanscribed" by earlydues)


[ Closeup of Gary and Erica. Faces close together. Head shots only. ]

Erica:
That was so romantic.

Gary:
Yeah.

Erica:
We've been talking about doing this for a long time

Gary:
45 minutes of heaven.

[Laughter. Paper airplane hits Gary]

Man:
Russ, did you throw that?

Russ:
It wasn't me.

Gary:
Hey, kid, you want to watch it? You're going to poke someone's eye out.

Woman:
Thank you for visiting the Triton College Planetarium.

Gary:
Um, listen. You want to go get some coffee?

Erica [ glancing at Paper ]:
Apartment fire?

Gary:
No, it doesn't start until 3:00 and it's 2:15 now, so I could catch a cab 'cause the traffic shouldn't be too bad.

Erica:
Gary, an apartment building is about to burn down and you're going to stop for a latte?

Gary:
It's not a big deal. All I've got to do is shut the boiler down.

[ He reconsiders ]

Gary:
You're right, maybe coffee's not such a great idea. Uh, do you mind?

Erica:
No. Thank you. This was a treat.

[ At apartment building. Gary attempts to enter the boiler room, but it is locked. ]

Gary:
Oh, geez. Oh, geez.

[ Gary sets off fire alarm. ]

Gary:
Let's go, everybody out. Fire!

Man:
Is somebody doing this as a joke?

Gary:
No, it's no joke.

Man:
Oh, c'mon, it's like 80 below out there.

Gary:
Well, I'm sorry, it's winter time, isn't it?

[ Gary wraps blanket around a young mother and baby. ]

Gary:
Alright, here we go. There's the bottle. Ok, everybody out.

[ outside of building ]

Gary:
All right. Everybody, uh, back up away from the building. And uh, does anybody have a cell phone?

Man:
I do.

Gary:
Good, call the fire department, will ya?

Man:
[on phone] Hello? There's a fire at the ?? apartments on Freemont Street.

[ Gary checks Paper: APARTMENT FIRE KILLS 1 ]

Gary [reading]:
A man who was believed to be a transient seeking shelter from the cold in a small storage shed on the building rooftop. The rooftop.

[ Gary runs back into building. Explosion! Gary continues on to rooftop and looks around for the transient. ]

Gary:
Hey! Hey! [finds man] Hey, c'mon. C'mon. C'mon, we gotta get out of here.

Jeremiah:
It's cold.

Gary:
Yeah, I know it's cold. We gotta get out of here, there's a fire.

Jeremiah:
Fire? I didn't do it? I didn't do anything.

Gary:
No, I know you didn't do anything - it's the boiler. C'mon.

Jeremiah:
My boot. I gotta get my boot.

Gary:
Yeah, we'll get your boot. C'mon.

[ Gary and Jeremiah attempt to go back down the stairwell, but are repelled by fire/smoke. ]

Jeremiah:
Fire!

Gary:
Stay there. We gotta get off this roof.

[ Gary finds ladder and lays it down to reach to next building. ]

Gary:
C'mon. We're gonna get down off the building, you understand?

Jeremiah:
I'm no climber, mister. I'm, I'm jumpy, you know?

Gary:
C'mon, it's gonna be all right. We gotta go. All right, listen. What's your name?

Jeremiah:
Jeremiah.

Gary:
Jeremiah. Jeremiah, listen to me. We're gonna get across this roof, I'm gonna get you across, but I need you to help me halfway, you understand me? I'm gonna go across there and then I'm going to talk you through it. I'm gonna help you across, all right? You just listen to me, okay? Everything's going to be fine. You hear me? All right? You just hang on here. You just watch, ok? All right?

[ Gary climbs across. ]

Gary:
All right, Jeremiah. [ Checks paper - no change. ] Jeremiah, you listen to me. You look right at me, you understand me? You come across and you look right at me. You take it real slow. C'mon now. C'mon. Look, put the boot in your pocket. C'mon , put it in your pocket. C'mon, Jeremiah. C'mon. C'mon. C'mon.

[ Jeremiah starts to crawl across ladder. ]

Gary:
Easy now. Just take it easy. Go slow, I'm gonna talk you through this. Don't look down! You look right at me. You hear me? C'mon, you're doin' great. C'mon, slow. C'mon. C'mon. It's all right, you look right at me. That's it, You look right at me. Don't you look down. Come here.

[ Jeremiah slips. Gary grabs his arm. ]

Gary:
Jeremiah, you hang on! Hold on, Jeremiah!

Jeremiah:
I can't!

Gary:
No!

[ Jeremiah falls! ]

Jeremiah:
Aaaaahhhhhh!!!!

[ Jeremiah crashes into car on street below. ]

[ Cue opening credits. ]

[ In front of apartment building. Gary is in police car. Detective Armstrong gets in car. ]

Armstrong:
All right, Mr. Hobson. Why don't you take me through what happened?

[ Gary shivers. ]

Armstrong:
You want me to turn up the heat?

[ No response from Gary. ]

Armstrong:
You pulled the alarm, right?

[ Gary nods yes. ]

Armstrong:
Good. Banged on the doors...

[ Gary sees the young mother and baby. ]

Gary:
She, uh, she needed the bottle for her baby.

Armstrong:
Yeah, ok. You checked the building, got everybody out, went upstairs, checked the roof and, uh, found the guy.

Gary:
He was, uh, cold.

Armstrong:
You know his name? Mr. Hobson, any idea of the guy's name?

[ Gary sees covered body of Jeremiah being wheeled by. ]

Gary:
No, I don't remember his name.

[ McGinty's ]

Erica:
It's after nine, Marissa. Where could he be?

Marissa:
I don't know.

Erica:
I'm worried.

Marissa:
What time did you guys leave the planetarium?

Erica:
I don't know. Quarter after 2:00?

Marissa:
And all he had was the apartment fire?

Erica:
Yeah. He said it was no big deal. And that's exactly what he said, "No big deal." It couldn't take six hours.

Marissa:
Maybe he got dragged into something else. You know Gary. He'll be ok.

[ Television on in background catches Erica's attention. ]

Reporter:
In other local news, a fast burning fire caused structural damage to an apartment building on Freemont Street.

Erica:
Listen to the TV.

Marissa:
Mm-hmm.

Reporter:
None of the… residents was hurt; the blaze did, however, take the life of an unidentified male transient. He had apparently sought shelter on the roof of the building and did not hear the fire alarm. Fire officials say the man died, not in the fire itself, but rather in an attempt by a good Samaritan to bring him to safety on a rooftop next door…

Erica:
Gary. He's there Marissa. On TV. He's ok.

Marissa:
Thank God.

[ A dark and nameless bar - Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" plays in background. Gary is downing shots of hard liquor. ]

Music:
Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that will make it okay.
There's always some reason
To feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh, beautiful release
Memories seep through my veins

[ Gary glances around bar and sees Old Man in corner, looking at his dirty ink-stained fingers. ]

Music:
Let me be empty
Oh, and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight
In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here.

[ Gary starts to leave bar. Turns around again and Old Man is gone. ]

Music:
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear.

[ Gary walks into street and is nearly run over by a Sun-Times truck. ]

Music:
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie

[ Sun-Times man drops a bundle of papers on sidewalk in Gary's path. ]

Music:
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here.

[ McGinty's. Erica on phone with babysitter. ]

Erica:
I'm not sure what time I'm going to be in, but if Henry wakes up, tell him something came up and I should be there by morning. Ok.

[ A couple of people start to enter bar. ]

Erica:
Actually, we're closing. Sorry.

Man:
Oh, all right.

Marissa:
Why don't you just go ahead and close down the register, Gene.

Reporter [ on TV ]:
Finally we have an update on the cause of that apartment fire on North Freemont Street. Authorities are now confirming to us that the fire was caused by a boiler explosion…

[ Gary enters bar. ]

Erica:
Gary!

Marissa [ to Gene ]:
Just turn the TV off, would ya?

Erica:
Gosh, you're half frozen. I'll get you some coffee, okay?

Marissa:
I'm sorry Gary. I know how hard this must be for you.

Gary:
Yeah.

Erica:
How about something to eat.

Gary:
No.

Marissa:
Listen, why don't you eat something. You've had a shock.

Gary:
No, I'm not hungry, I'm just tired.

Marissa:
You, um, you wanna talk?

Gary:
No. I'm just gonna go upstairs and get some sleep. Thanks.

[ Gary leaves to his room. Erica starts to follow. ]

Marissa:
Erica.

Erica:
Hmm?

Marissa:
I wouldn't.

[ Next morning, Gary sitting by window, bed appears not to have been slept in. ]

[ Meow. Thump. Gary remains seated at window and does not go for the Paper. ]

Radio:
Good morning, Chicago. A growing number of Y2K experts have begun to recast it's predictions of potential calamity into it's humor division of the Year 2000 problem. The change….

[ commercial ]

[ Marissa at Gary's door. Picks up Paper. ]

Marissa:
Gary, it's me.

Gary:
I'll be down later.

Marissa:
Open the door, please. [no response] Dammit, Gary, open the door!

[ Gary stalks to door and whips it open. ]

Marissa:
I'm sorry. I just need to know that you're okay. Erica said…

Gary:
Thank you very much.

Marissa:
If you need to talk…

Gary:
No, I don't need to talk. I just need to think right now. Thank you. That's very nice of you.

Marissa:
I know you're feeling lost, Gary, and I understand that, but you did what you could.

Gary:
No, I didn't do what I could, Marissa. I did what I did. 'Cause you know, I was just thinking about that. I could have waited for the fire department, or I could have carried him across. Or I could have let the poor S.O.B. die in that fire so he didn't think the last few minutes of his life I was going to save him.

Marissa:
You can change a lot of things, Gary, but you can't change fate.

Gary:
No? Then why do I get the paper, Marissa? Maybe fate's a lame excuse for failure. Because that's all I feel right now, is failure.

Marissa:
I understand. Um, maybe Erica and I can handle the paper.

[ Gary grabs paper from her. ]

Gary:
No, no, no, no. No!

[ Gary stalks to window and tosses paper out. ]

Gary:
You and Erica can't handle the paper, because the paper isn't going to be around, you understand?!

[ See paper flutter to ground. Headline reads: PLAN EXTENDS LAKEFRONT ]

Gary:
The paper is now out the window! No one's gonna handle the paper today!

Marissa:
Gary, you…

Erica:
Gary, um. There's... someone downstairs to see you. Detective Armstrong?

[ Office ]

Armstrong:
It's a nice place. I hope you don't mind, I helped myself to some coffee.

Gary:
What can I do for you?

Armstrong:
Well, I'm tying up the loose ends from the fire department report and I figured it'd be much easier for you than coming down to the station.

Gary:
Yes, it is.

Armstrong:
Why don't you take a seat? This won't take long. Mr. Hobson, uh, I was checking the time on the alarm, and the funny thing is, it seemed to have been triggered prior to the boiler explosion. Any idea why?

Gary:
Do you want some more coffee?

Armstrong:
No, uh, I'm fine.

Gary:
I smelled something burning.

Armstrong:
That happen much?

Gary:
What's that?

Armstrong:
You being drawn to the smell of fire?

Gary:
Fire? No. It was more like, uh, metal corroding. I figure the boiler, it was broken down for a few days and I just happened to smell something.

Armstrong:
And why were you there? In the building, I mean. You live near by?

Gary:
No. No, I live upstairs here.

Armstrong:
All right. So you were there because…?

Gary:
I was visiting some friends, and had some extra time on my hands.

Armstrong:
So you smelled this burning thing from outside the building?

Gary:
No, inside. There was a 'for rent' sign. Outside. A friend of mine, she, ah, she's looking for a place to live, so I checked it out for her.

Armstrong:
So you were trying to help out?

Gary:
That's right.

Armstrong:
And what made you think to check the roof?

Gary:
I heard, uh, I heard some noises on the roof and, uh…noises… uh… Listen, is there something specific that you want to ask me?

Armstrong:
Let me lay out a scenario here. Maybe you like fires, you know? It happens. The heat. Flame. Out of control thing. There's a big power factor there and I understand that.

Gary:
You think I started this fire?

Armstrong:
Based on your demeanor at the scene, no. By the way you're acting right now…

Gary:
Someone died because I couldn't hang onto their arm. You tell me. How the hell am I supposed to act?

Armstrong:
Mr. Hobson, I'm just doing my job.

[ Cemetery ]

Priest:
Jeremiah lived on the streets. He lived on the food he found there. In the gutters and the trash cans. He used to come to our church for services every once in a while, so I know that whatever the conditions he lived in, God was a comfort to Jeremiah. In death we cannot count Jeremiah's blessings for him, but we can understand that he was blessed by faith. May that faith bring his soul to a place of warmth and shelter that his body could not find. May that faith help the rest of us to live with our grief. And so, eternal rest grant unto Jeremiah Xavier Mason, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Jeremiah's Sister:
Amen.

Gary:
Amen.

[ Old Man that Gary saw in bar appears behind Gary with paper in hand. ]

Old Man:
You dropped your paper.

Gary:
Do I know you? Excuse me. Hey. Hey!

[ Old Man continues to walk away. Gary sees sister of Jeremiah leaving and runs towards her. ]

Gary:
Excuse me.

Jeremiah's Sister:
Yes?

Gary:
I just wanted to say I'm sorry.

Jeremiah's Sister:
You knew my brother? From the library?

Gary:
No.

Jeremiah's Sister:
He spends -- he used to spend -- all day in the library. Always said it was just to stay warm. But he could quote just about any book in there. I used to hope Jeremiah would turn out to be some kind of teacher, but he never could draw inside the lines. You know what I mean.

Gary:
Yeah.

Jeremiah's Sister:
I guess he had the kind of life he wanted. I never understood it. How it happened this way. I'm just going to miss my brother.

Gary:
I, I'm sorry.

[ Jeremiah's sister gets in car, drives away. ]

[ Gary looks at paper. Headline: PLAN EXTENDS LAKEFRONT. Gary looks around again for the Old Man. ]

[ Gary's room. Gary enters, leaves lights off. ]

Marissa:
Gary? It's been 24 hours. That's enough. Don't shut me out, Gary. We have been through too much together. You have to get through this, because whether you like it or not, the Paper is still yours.

Gary:
Yeah, I noticed that.

Marissa:
Gary, I know you're angry. But you have to let it out. You have to let the tears come because until you do, you can't move on.

Gary:
Marissa, I love you very much, but don't tell me how to feel.

[ Next morning. ]

Radio:
Good morning Chicago. It's 6:30 a.m. and a beautiful sunny day. The mayor announced late yesterday that an…

[Meow. Thump.]

Gary:
I don't want this anymore, do you understand me? I've had enough. I don't want this anymore. Do you hear me?!

[ Gary slams paper down near window. Cat runs into room and jumps on paper. ]

Cat:
Meow.

[ Gary grabs cat forcefully and yells at it. Paper falls to floor. Cat growls at him.]

Gary:
Get out of here, do you understand me? Get out of here!

[ Gary glances down to see headline in the obituary section of paper titled: GARY HOBSON, LOCAL BAR OWNER ]

[ Commercial ]

CONTINUE TO PART 2


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