Here is another first for Numéro Cinq: A full length film script from R. W. Gray (who earlier appeared on these pages as the author of the stunning short story “Crisp”). Not only do we have the original film script for Alice & Huck (who else publishes movie scripts these days?) but we also have an excerpt from the movie, teaser and fan videos. This is a wonderful chance for readers to compare script and the made movie (you can get the complete DVD here; the IMDB movie page is here), a chance to see words embodied in the actors’ gestures and words (a transformation of text to stage that is always a mystery to me). Alice and Huck is a delightful, whimsically romantic love story of close encounters, near misses and second chances.
Robert Gray was born and raised on the northwest coast of BC, and received a PhD in Poetry and Psychoanalysis from the University of Alberta in 2003. He is the author of two serialized novels in Xtra West magazine and has published poetry in various journals and anthologies, including Arc, Grain, Event, and dANDelion. He also has had ten short screenplays produced, including Alice & Huck and Blink. He currently teaches Film at the University of New Brunswick in Frederiction.
What is Alice & Huck about?
Alice & Huck Fan Video
Alice & Huck
a screenplay by R. W. Gray
A WORLD OUT OF FOCUS, WHAT LOOK LIKE LIMBS, A MOUTH, A THROAT, ALL BLURRY AND IMPRESSIONISTIC. BREATH AND SIGHS. THESE ARE THE MOMENTS THAT BRIDGE TIME AND PLACE, LIKE PUZZLE PIECES EACH TIME, BUT PIECES TO A PUZZLE ALL ABOUT THE SKY — NO ONE CAN PUT THIS TOGETHER, AS HARD AS THEY TRY.
EXT. PARK, PLAYGROUND — AFTERNOON
Blue sky revolves past ground, past sky, past ground. ALICE in a long coat and skirt swings on a swing set.
It is a playground, but there are no children. It’s late afternoon; it’s winter.
A soccer ball comes bouncing by, stops a few feet from her. She stops swinging to look at it.
And there he is, chasing it. HUCK.
Huck kicks the ball back to the soccer field, but lags, wants to stay.
Alice starts to swing again.
Can I help you?
Do you want me to push you?
That’s a bit forward.
I just mean . . . if you want to go higher.
That’s not what you were going to say.
Alice stops swinging.
Well, firstly, this is the third time your ball has bounced out of bounds over here. It’s statistically improbable. And secondly . . .
Alice points to FRED, Huck’s buddy who stands on the edge of the soccer field watching Huck’s progress, holding the soccer ball.
Fred sees he has been caught and turns to run back to the soccer field, darts left, looks over his shoulder and then races off.
He sent you over here with a line didn’t he.
Alice starts to swing again.
What was it?
The one about the push.
Alice ponders it.
He told me not to tell you that I have a girlfriend.
She stops swinging.
I think it’s important to be honest. But it’s not like we’re happy or anything.
Well, that’s kind of besides the point.
Yeah, I think she thinks so too.
She kicks the dirt.
You should go back to your game.
It was nice to meet you.
She watches him go. She starts to swing again.
The earth, the sky, falling then the earth, then rising, then the sky.
THIS TIME, A WOMAN’S THROAT CLOSE UP, THE HAIR AT THE NAPE OF HER NECK, HER JAW MOVING.
EXT. BOOKSTORE, SIDEWALK — DAY
Alice walks with headsets on, a hat, a collection of handbags, book bags, and mismatched things. If she were a blanket she would be a calico quilt today.
Huck stands outside a bookseller. He sees her. She doesn’t notice him.
Alice stops at a book bin across from him, drops her bags into a pile of chaos at her feet. She runs her fingers carefully over the bindings of the books, not idle, but entranced and focused.
She bites her bottom lip.
He bites his, imitating it, almost imagining her lips between his teeth.
Alice moves her hair from her forehead and then moves the hand to her shoulder and massages it.
He imitates the action.
A man, Fred, comes up behind her, slips his arm in hers. He leans in and kisses her.
Huck looks down, blushing, feels like he’s just watched the woman he loves cheating on him, feeling ridiculous for feeling this. But he wants to look.
Desire to know her is bigger than any jealousy. Huck covers one eye with his hand so that the post in the store obstructs his view. He only sees Alice, laughing, can no longer see this other man. Huck smiles to himself, this trick he has played to see things the way he wants to see them. He drops his hand feeling a little foolish.
He watches as Alice shows the man a blue book, then the man mocks her. She laugh, drops the book back in the bin. The man bends down, picks up some of her bags and they walk away arm in arm.
Huck puts down the book he’s looking at and crosses to the bin. He picks up the blue book like it holds some clue to all this. He turns and sees Alice leaning on her man, as she kicks her leg back to examine a troublesome heel.
It is a slow important gesture. He doesn’t know why.
Huck looks at the book and then goes into the bookstore to purchase it.
RAIN ON GLASS, CITY LIGHTS BLURRED, BEHIND THE GLASS AND WATER CLOSE UP ON A MAN’S BACK, LIKE A CREATURE IN AN AQUARIUM. THE BACK TORQUES TO THE LEFT, FLEXING LONG.
INT. TAXI, BACK SEAT — NIGHT
Alice, hair soaked and plastered to her head, sits looking at the steamed up window as the rain beats against the glass.
Beside her, TARA, a miscellaneous friend, looks out the opposite window. They are both dressed for the ballet. They are both silent, waiting.
I can’t believe this traffic.
Alice says nothing.
I am so tired.
The CAB DRIVER looks at Alice in the rear view mirror. We see only his eyes.
Alice looks, sees him looking, looks back out the window.
You’re quiet today.
I know. It’s just . . . days like these. I feel like I am waiting.
Tara looks out the window again. Then she turns back to Alice, realizes she doesn’t know what Alice means.
Wait, what do you mean?
Alice leans forward to look out the window up close. She extends one finger and draws on the condensation on the glass a stick man. She closes an eye and looks through the stick man part of the glass where it’s clearer.
Sometimes I think I only fall in love with people I’ll never meet.
Tara looks at Alice now like she might be high. Tara notices the Cab Driver’s blue eyes watching her. Tara then looks back out the window.
Alice leans in more closely, sees through the stick man the figure of a man standing on the corner waiting for the light to change.
We’re never going to get there.
Alice leans back in her seat.
That’s a bit dramatic.
Alice looks at the stick figure she’s drawn.
But I know what you mean.
EXT. TAXI — CONTINUOUS
The man standing on the corner is Huck, no jacket, wearing merely a t-shirt he is soaked through, beaten down. In his right hand he holds a sad plant, now over-watered, doomed. He looks at his feet like they might have the answer.
THE DARKNESS UNDER COVERS, A LIMB, ANOTHER LIMB, THIS IS A TIGHT WEAVING, THE UNDERTOW, MORE SEPIA NOW.
EXT. SIDEWALK — AFTERNOON
Alice hangs up a cell phone, crying.
Huck walks by, turns back.
Can I help?
She’s embarrassed to just be seen at this moment.
I have tissue.
he says, digging in his backpack.
What sort of a man carries tissue?
He pauses, unsure how and why he was just slammed.
He finds the tissue and gives it to her.
She exhales, a loud sigh, trying to get rid of her exasperation.
So you’re not some perv who has a thing for girls who cry are you?
Huck shakes his head. He’s a little overwhelmed by this woman.
She takes his to-go coffee cup from his hand and takes a sip.
Bleh! That’s bitter.
It’s an Americano.
I prefer sweeter things.
She leans in and places her hand on his cheek.
It’s a movie gesture, something he’s seen but never thought would happen to him so he’s frozen in place.
You’re sweet. I’ve got to go. Thanks. For the tissue.
And she’s gone.
He stands there, looks at her lipstick on his latte cup.
He goes in like he is going to press his lips to the cup where hers were. But he can’t. It seems too perverse.
He places the cup on one of the cafe’s outdoor tables and then walks away the opposite direction.
The cup sits on the blank metal table in the rain.
A LANDSCAPE, A COLLECTION OF SLEEPING NAKED LIMBS EMPTIED LIKE A JUNK DRAWER ON THE BED. A HAND WANDERS, LOST.
INT. CAFE — NIGHT
Huck and Fred sit at a table, newspapers and coffee cups between them.
She’s recently single.
How can you tell?
Alice, across the cafe, looks up from her blue book and out at the street.
Pheromones. She looks familiar. Maybe I’ve met her before.
She juts her chin out a little, some resolve to what she’s thinking.
She looks familiar to me too. Probably just has one of those faces.
It’s not just one of those faces. It’s something . . .
Fred’s phone beeps. He looks down and starts texting.
Huck can’t take his eyes off of Alice.
Alice picks up her coffee and rests the cup against her bottom lip, not drinking, lost in thought. That bottom lip.
Huck looks down at a picture in the paper in front of him, blushing. That bottom lip.
He looks up a little, looks back.
Isn’t it strange how when we want to see more clearly we close one eye.
I like using both my eyes.
Makes you wonder if deer and those animals with eyes on the sides of their heads fall in love differently.
Maybe for them it’s erotic, you know, the way they roll their eyes back, like they’re trying to see something with both of them at once.
I think you’ve had too much caffeine again. Yes, she just looked my way. She definitely looks familiar.
She just looked our way. And she probably looks familiar because she looks like two out of the three semi-serious girlfriends you’ve had.
No, they were more than semi. They were definitely too serious.
I think it’s genetic coding. That makes us desire people who we’ve desired before. The familiarity makes us a little more brave. Otherwise people wouldn’t get laid or fall in love as easily.
She definitely looked.
Fred looks down at his paper so she can’t see he was looking.
Huck looks up from his paper.
Alice looks their way. She smiles at him and then looks back down at her book.
Huck smiles and looks back down at his newspaper.
I am going to say something.
No, you can’t.
I can too. That’s the problem with you Pete. You just don’t act on it. Me. I act.
Fred gets up and goes to Alice’s table.
Huck watches Alice smile at Fred. Watches Fred slide into the chair opposite Alice.
Alice laughs at something Fred says and turns to see Huck, but the table is empty. Huck has gone.
THE WORLD BLURRY, OUT OF FOCUS. THIS TIME, A WOMAN’S CALF MUSCLE, HER FOOT IN A BLACK SHOE, AS BLACK AS PUNCTUATION. SHE MOVES HER FOOT FROM THE FLOOR KICKING HER FOOT BACK. A MAN’S HAND CATCHES THE HEAL IN ITS APERTURE, HOLDS THE ANKLE, ANT HEN HIS OTHER HAND REMOVES THE SHOE. THE FIRST HAND STILL HOLDS THE ANKLE THERE FOR A BREATH. THEN LETS GO, RELUCTANTLY, IN SLOW MOTION.
INT. WOMEN’S CLOTHING STORE, CHANGE ROOM — AFTERNOON
Outside the change rooms, Huck sits in a chair, bored, his eyes slowly and inevitably closing.
In a nearby change room, Alice struggles to do up the zipper on the back of a dress she is trying on, but can’t. She goes to step out of the change room but through the gap between the curtain and the wall she sees Huck. She stops. She watches him as he begins to fall asleep, his head dropping. She can’t breathe. His droopy eyes. His mussed sleepy hair. The smooth space just behind his ear. His hands, holding one another in his lap. It’s impossible not to think of him naked and caramel under afternoon sheets.
Tara comes out of another change room and models a dress in the mirror, the same dress that Alice is trying on.
Alice looks down at the dress, looks up, likes it better on Tara.
Tara sees Huck sleeping, watches him a moment. She walks up to him and lovingly runs a hand through his hair so he startles awake.
Almost finished, babe.
Huck grunts and then begins to fall asleep again.
Tara goes back into her change room.
Alice slips off the dress and gets changed. She hangs the dress up on the wall and steps out of the change room. She walks up beside the sleeping Huck. She holds her hand to keep herself from running her fingers through his hair the way Tara did. She tears herself away and leaves decidedly.
A WOMAN FALLING SLOWLY BACKWARDS, FALLING TO A BED, HER HAIR HITTING THE PILLOW.
EXT. SIDEWALK — MORNING
Alice stands on the corner, sunday clothes, a newspaper in one hand, a coffee in the other, waiting to cross the street.
On the corner across the street from her, Huck walks up and stands facing her, waiting to cross the other way. He’s wearing a heavy sweater and long jacket, comfy sunday clothes, also with a newspaper in one hand, a coffee in the other.
Neither of them are awake yet. They are mirror images, almost. They do not see each other.
The light changes. With the crowd they each cross the street. The world slows down, breathless, achingly slow now, buried under a century’s strata of wanting, but they miss each other, and the world releases, let’s go, gives up.
He’s walking down the street away.
She’s walking down the street away.
SEPIA COLOURED LIGHT UNDER SHEETS, BREATH. BREATHING. HER EYE. HIS EYE. HER LIPS.
INT. CAFE — AFTERNOON
Huck sits at a table across the cafe from Alice. On the table in front of him is the blue book.
She doesn’t notice him.
He notices she keeps flicking a sugar packet absentmindedly. He does the same.
She sees him imitating her. She looks defensive.
I’m not mocking you.
She raises her eyebrow, not amused. She grabs her books and her bag, stands up, and turns to go. She stops.
She decides not to leave, but impulsively rushes across the cafe toward him.
There’s something called personal space.
Do you want to join me?
She pauses. She notices his cappuccino.
She impulsively goes to sit down just as pushes the chair out with his foot for her. She falls to the floor.
He jumps up to help her.
I was just pushing the chair out for you, I swear.
Alice turns to the door, a part of her leaving.
Please don’t go.
She sees his face, his clarion hurt. He fell too. She sits down more slowly now, bruised.
He says nothing.
She says nothing.
She reaches out and drags her finger through the foam on his cappuccino, gathers some on her finger tip and steals it to her mouth.
I don’t know why I sat down. You’re not my type. I mean, not my usual type.
I mean, you’re thin, scrawny really, and a little unkempt. I mean, even with a shower and some weight. You’re still a plain kind of cute. And I usually fall for taller guys. Something about looking up. I like to look up.
I like men who like to eat. Who like food. I even like it if they have a little belly.
Bellies are funny things because they don’t look good, but then sometimes, and I’m thinking about this now, a belly rubbing against me, it kind of makes me swoon. It’s like pig sex, I mean, it must be what pigs look for in sex,a good belly to rub. You’re so . . . thin.
He leans in and places a hand over her mouth.
She snatches his hand away.
What the fuck?! What do you think you’re doing?
He leans back, looks away.
I don’t know. You just seem like the kind of person who will go home after this and recount the whole conversation and regret about half of these things.
You don’t know me.
I know, but you seem strangely familiar.
I mean, who the fuck do you think you are? Shit, I come in here wanting a cup of coffee, just a moment’s quiet, and you go and pull this special kind of shit crap.
The couple at the next table have stopped what they’re doing to watch Alice’s outburst. They look glad they don’t fight like this odd couple.
Alice gathers her stuff around her, goes to stand up, but then starts to cry.
You know what you are?
I know. I am sorry.
He leans in close.
She says nothing. She can’t look at him.
He takes her hands and places them over his eyes.
She looks up. Sees his blindness.
She leans in and kisses him.
The rest of the world, the cafe, bustles along not noticing the two leaning into one another, arched as a bridge over the table, a kiss.
THE LAST PIECE OF THE PUZZLE, HAZY LIKE WE’RE JUST WAKING UP. HER BACK, NAKED, STANDING AT A WINDOW, HIS BACK NAKED LAYING IN BED, FRAMING HER.
—R. W. Gray
The making of Alice & Huck:
“Light in the Sky,” a fan music video: