Sounds Through A Wall
By Sean Hood
Script created with Final Draft by Final Draft, Inc.
Script created with Final Draft by Final Draft, Inc.
INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - DAY Crouching in a murky apartment, A DARK FIGURE peers through Venetian blinds. He's just dark blur against the window. POV - THROUGH BEDROOM WINDOW He can see a partially obscured view of a PARKING LOT. He catches a glimpse of a WOMAN pulling a suitcase out of a hatchback, but he only sees her from the back. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM The dark figure lurches through the cluttered room to another window. We only see him in silhouette. POV - THROUGH KITCHEN WINDOW Again he catches a glimpse of the young woman as she caries a box and a suitcase down the outdoor hallway. Beyond her are rows of other apartment windows, like cells. THE WOMAN Long dark hair, frail body, drab clothing, probably no older than thirty. He can't see her face. LIVING ROOM - AT HIS FRONT DOOR We see the dark figure from the back as he peers through peephole. POV THROUGH THE PEEPHOLE The woman passes by the door quickly - just a blur of movement, like a ghost. LIVING ROOM - AT HIS FRONT DOOR They he presses his ear to the door and listens. He hears a the woman's soft footsteps, the thump of a box on carpet, the tinkle of keys, and the click of her door. BEDROOM WINDOW - MINUTES LATER He sees the woman pull a PET CARRIER out of the hatchback. KITCHEN WINDOW - MOMENTS LATER She passes quickly down the outdoor hallway. The figure arrives at the window too late to see her. LIVING ROOM - AT HIS FRONT DOOR The dark figure listens to her open the door. Then he tracks her movement on the other side of his living room wall. He hears a thump and a click. Then the MEOW of a cat and the muffled sound of her voice speaking to it. Cooing gently. As he listens, CAMERA CREEPS through the landscape of his apartment - stacks of carefully arranged objects like hills and valleys - but it's too dark to see what they are. As he steps back from the door into a pool of light, we see him clearly for the first time. REVEAL ZECHARIAH He is middle aged, but his face is boyish and strangely angelic. He has large, haunted eyes. LIVING ROOM - AT HIS BOOKCASE Several sections of the wall have built-in shelves packed with glass JARS of various sizes. Zechariah carefully and quietly removes two large jars from the shelf, one filled with marbles, the other filled with string. He then pulls back paper tacked up against the interior wall, REVEALING... There is a TINY HOLE. POV - THROUGH HOLE IN THE WALL He can get a pretty good view of the living room next door. Cardboard boxes and a TV are stacked against the wall. His neighbor is just moving in. He watches the SPOTTED CAT sit on the floor and groom itself. BEDROOM WINDOW - MOMENTS LATER Again, he gets only frustrating glimpses of the woman as she continues to unpack, pulling a ficus plant out of her car. INT. ZECHARIAH'S LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER He tip toes through the darkness to the shared wall. POV - THROUGH HOLE IN THE WALL He watches through the peephole. He hears her open and close the door, but he can't see her yet. Hears her COUGH, and then drag something across the carpet. But he can't see her yet. Then, as she sets the ficus plant RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE HOLE, his view is OBSCURED. He can barely see anything at all. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - KITCHEN - DAY At a well designed workstation in the corner, Zechariah sits and types JAVA code into his computer. He marks a print out with a mechanical pencil. He is extremely organized. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! He is startled by a knocking at his front door. He stands up apprehensively. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! To him, the knocks are like thunderclaps. He slowly walks towards the door, his anxiety growing. He doesn't answer. He just waits, and listens... He hears a rustle and then footsteps, walking away. INT. BEDROOM - POV THROUGH WINDOW - MOMENTS LATER He sees a delivery man walk back to his truck. INT. LIVING ROOM - FRONT DOOR - MOMENTS LATER Summoning his courage he opens the door and brings in the three grocery bags, and a BILL taped to the handle. They are filled with HOT DOGS, BUNS and whole MILK. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - BATHROOM - DAY As Zechariah brushes his teeth, he can hear the woman SINGING in the shower next door. Her voice is frail and otherworldly. WOMAN'S VOICE (O.C.) Why do you grieve? Try and believe Life is always sunshine When the heart beats true. The sounds of the shower stop, and he picks up a WATER GLASS from sink and places it against to wall. He presses his ear against the glass. Along with him, we hear an ambient rumble like the ocean roar in a seashell, and her voice singing "Melencholly Baby." WOMAN'S VOICE (O.C.) Banish your fears Smile through your tears When you're sad It makes me feel the same as you... (beat) Come to me my melancholy baby Cuddle up and don't be blue. CLOSE ON ZECHARIAH He nearly swoons at her sad, delicate voice. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - KITCHEN - DUSK Zechariah takes several plain hot dogs out of his microwave and places them, one by one, in a row of Wonder Bread buns. He folds the empty plastic bag and tucks it away in a cardboard shoebox, filled with similar bags. Then he places the PLASTIC CLIP in a large jar filled with HUNDREDS OF OTHER CLIPS from bread bags that he's saved. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT As Zechariah sits, eats and watches an old comedy on TV, CAMERA CREEPS through the landscape of his apartment. Now we can see there are stacks of tin boxes, neatly labeled. There are rows of glass jars, hundreds of them of various shapes and sizes, each one filled with carefully sorted, mundane objects: Bottle caps, rubber bands, pebbles, empty tubes of toothpaste. He clearly throws nothing away. There are stacks of magazines and newspapers that go from floor to ceiling. All painstakingly neat and ordered. It's strangely beautiful. A museum of the mundane. Near the television are a collection of weekly TV guides, going back several decades, each preserved in a plastic bag. Zechariah is suddenly distracted from his TV program by the sound of LAUGHTER through the wall. POV - HOLE IN THE WALL He looks through the hole and he can see the flicker of the TV in her apartment, but his view is still obscured by the plant. He can only see a frustrating shadow of movement. ON ZECHARIAH He continues to watch the old black-and-white film on cable. He chuckles at a pratfall and he hears the woman next door LAUGH AT THE EXACT SAME MOMENT. He MUTES his TV. Yet, he can still faintly hear the sound of the television. Confused, he picks up his GLASS, puts it on the wall, and presses his ear against it. Again he hears a kind of seashell rumble, but he can also hear his neighbor's TV. She is tuned into exactly the same channel. He sees the characters on his TV screen sync with the sound coming from HER TV speakers. He hears her laugh at a silly joke, and he smiles too. They continue to watch the program, in some weird sense, together. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - NIGHT We hear the sound of Zechariah lightly snoring. CAMERA CREEPS through his bedroom over scores of wooden storage boxes all labeled and organized with great care: Socks (summer 1995); Socks (Winter 1988); Shirts (1982). Zechariah sleeps upright in bed on a mountain of pillows. Suddenly, he is disturbed by the sound of COUGHING through the wall. After a moment, he starts to drift back to sleep... But his neighbor COUGHS again and groans miserably. Zechariah rolls over close to the wall. He listens to her toss and turn in bed - apparently right on the other side. He presses his ear against the wall. He hears her BREATHING - the frustrated sighs and sudden restless movements of someone with insomnia. Her bed CREAKS. Zechariah fumbles in the darkness and finds the glass, drinks the remaining water, and presses it to the wall. She breathes in and then out... ... and then COUGHS. She's very close by. He repositions the glass and listens. Her breathing a bit less labored now. Inhale and exhale... relaxing. He presses his hand gently against the wall, as if he could listen with his fingertips. His own head rests on his pillow. Her breath is a little deeper. Quieter. Softer. Perhaps drifting back to sleep... Then there comes a loud RUSTLING OF BLANKETS. She's awake. She sniffs and then breaths more deeply through her mouth, holding her breath for a second before exhaling. He listens more closely. With each long inhale and exhale, the bed creaks in RHYTHM with her breath. Creak. Creak. Creak. A little faster and faster as if she were rocking back and forth. Zechariah's eyes widen. He holds his own breath. Creak-creak-creak. Deeper and more syncopated. Up and down. Then a faint MOAN. Short irregular HUFFS and PUFFS. Rustling blankets... A loud creak... A deep GASP... Then several moments of silence. Zach just lies there frozen. Not wanting to make a sound. Then comes a SUDDEN POUNDING. He nearly falls out of bed. He sits up, startled and confused. He stumbles to his feet and the sound comes again - someone POUNDING on a door somewhere. Her door. He hears her mutter under her breath... She's scared - Talking to herself. Scurrying around her room... INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS Zechariah steps out into his living room. The knocking is louder. He can hear a man's muffled yell from the hallway. He opens his door just a sliver and peeks out. He catches a glimpse of A MAN IN A BLACK JACKET pacing the hall. The man throws his fist against her door. MAN IN BLACK I know you're in there! Terrified, Zechariah shuts the door. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - NIGHT He sits down on his bed as the violent knocking continues. He listens at the wall and he can hear her hyperventilate and WINCE at each pound and angry call. She's scared. Finally knocking stops. All he can hear is the woman on the other side of the wall, softly crying. POV - VIEW OUT THE BEDROOM WINDOW - NIGHT Zechariah sees the angry man in the parking lot. He paces, gesticulates wildly, and then KICKS her little hatchback again and AGAIN... leaving an impressive dent. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - TRANSITION CLOSE ON his perfectly alphabetized collection of records as gradually, night turns day. ON ZECHARIAH - DAY He pulls out an old vinyl record. He drops the needle of an old phonograph and he positions the SPEAKERS to send the music towards the shared wall. It's a recording of the song he heard her singing in the shower. A 1920's version of "Melancholy Baby." RECORD PLAYER Come to me my melancholy baby Cuddle up and don't be blue (pause) All your fears are foolish fancy, maybe You know, dear, that I'm in love with you; He presses his ear to the glass, and the glass to the wall. RECORD PLAYER Every cloud must have a silver lining Wait until the sun shines through Come on and smile, my honey dear, While I kiss away each tear Or else I shall be melancholy too... He listens and listens but doesn't hear anything. There's no sign of her. INT. KITCHEN - LATER He makes himself the exactly the same meal of plain hot dogs, carefully saving another plastic clip in a jar. He looks out the window at the outdoor hallway but only sees her SPOTTED CAT slink by, sit and lick it's paws. Then suddenly THE FICUS PLANT bounces by the window, as if walking on its own. Zechariah is startled for a second, but then he darts off to... BEDROOM WINDOW - MOMENTS LATER In the parking lot, he sees the young woman's hatchback is PACKED WITH BOXES, just as it had been when she moved in. Then he sees the young woman herself, carrying the ficus plant to her car and loading it in. She's preparing to leave. HOLE IN THE WALL - MINUTES LATER He looks through the hole, his view no longer obscured. Her apartment is nearly empty. Just a few scattered objects on the floor. He hears the door open and close. Then SHE walks into view... She gathers up dirty laundry off the carpet and drops it in a RED LAUNDRY BASKET. He can only see her from the back. Then she peels off the jeans she is wearing and adds it to the basket. She yanks off her sweatshirt and adds it to the basket. She pulls up her sports bra... The second before she turns and reveals her nudity, Zechariah takes his eye away from the hole and covers it with his hand. ON ZECHARIAH Instead he JUST LISTENS to her hustle around her apartment. He presses his ear to the wall and closes his eyes. KITCHEN WINDOW - MINUTES LATER Through the window he sees her carry the red laundry basket and her dirty laundry down the outdoor hallway. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER Zechariah sits sadly on his sofa looking at his jar of bread bag plastic clips. Suddenly, he opens the lid of the jar and dumps them out, scattering them chaotically across the floor. As he stares at the mess, the only sign of disorder in his apartment, he hears a weird SCRAPING, like metal on metal. LIVING ROOM - FRONT DOOR - MOMENTS LATER He hears more scraping and a few sharp THUDS. He opens his door a crack and peaks out... POV - INTO THE HALLWAY He sees just a fragment of the angry man's legs as he bends over, picking the lock and breaking open her door. LIVING ROOM He rushes over to the wall... POV - THROUGH THE HOLE IN THE WALL He sees the man prowling around her empty apartment, wringing his hands, muttering and swatting at thin air. FRONT DOOR Zechariah opens the door and stops like a man at the edge of a cliff, wondering whether or not to jump... HALLWAY - OUTSIDE HIS FRONT DOOR - DAY ... But he WILLS his right leg to move. He takes one cautious step into the hallway, takes a deep breath, and moves the other foot. Then slowly, one foot in front of the other, breathing hard with each step towards... THE NEXT DOOR His whole body trembles with anxiety as he stares at her door. Afraid. Unsure what exactly he thinks he's doing... He raises his hand bravely to knock, but he can't bring himself to do it. He's flustered. He looks back at his own door and considers retreat. WOMAN (O.C. Can I help you? Zechariah turns around, and is struck dumb by the sight of HER in the flesh, only a few yards away, holding the laundry basket. This is the first time he has seen her face. She's not exactly pretty, yet oddly striking. A flood of emotion washes over him. He tries to speak, but he can't find the words. He seems paralyzed. She is also frozen, her expression anxious. His silence and intensity unnerve her. They are alone in the hallway, and he is blocking the path to her door. He takes a step backward. He opens his mouth, moves his lips, but can't... Speak. He backs away farther... Suddenly she MOVES TOWARDS HER DOOR... ZECHARIAH (blurting out) He's in your apartment. Beat. She stops. He looks her directly in the eye. She looks at the door and then back to him. She understands. WOMAN (whispers) ... Thank you. As she moves past him, for a brief moment, she lightly TOUCHES HIS SHOULDER WITH HER HAND. CLOSE ON ZECHARIAH Time seems to freeze. There is an otherworldly silence. For him this small gesture lasts a lifetime. BACK TO SCENE Then she passes him and flees down the hall around the corner. She is gone. EXT. OUTSIDE HALLWAY - DAY Zechariah watches as her car pulls out of the parking lot and speeds off. It continues on out of view. EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX - VARIOUS SHOTS. The drab building. Rows of windows. Stacks of little rooms. The walls and rooftop are showered in rain. INT. ZECHARIAH'S APARTMENT - DAY - RAIN Blue daylight bathes the room. Rippling shadows wash over the walls. Zechariah sits at his table reading a TV guide. The soothing sounds of dripping water come from the open window. The SPOTTED CAT sits at the table, eating a bowl of food. Zechariah reaches out and gently strokes his fur.