INT. HOLIDAY INN HOTEL ROOM - MORNING
JUDEE is in the middle of her interview with Rolling Stone. She’s sitting with her back to the window and her legs propped up on the bed, the hot Phoenix sun piercing through the blinds behind her. The INTERVIEWER sits across from her, his tape recorder set on the desk beside him. Judee can’t decide whether to cross her legs or not. There’s an open bible sitting on her lap.
My habit was running into a hundred and fifty dollars a day, so I turned to forging checks to make the extra dough. One night I overdosed and my heart stopped beating. I was technically dead for three minutes. The next thing I knew, these people were putting milk in my veins, and they were slapping me around until I came to. I remember waking up, but I had amnesia and I couldn’t even remember the words for “ceiling” or “wall”. All I could say was, “What happened?” I lived...only to be arrested for the forged checks.
INT. SYBIL BRAND INSTITUTE - EVENING
FLASH BACK: Judee waits in a long line of fellow inmates, all waiting to make their phone call. Everyone is in bad shape, but Judee looks especially down and out.
It’s finally Judee’s turn. Her finger is stiff and darting with each button press, but when she puts the phone to her ear, she barely has the strength to hold it with both hands. She leans against the booth for support. The phone rings.
Hey Dennis, It’s Judee. Listen, I need—
(Judee realizes it’s a young girl’s voice on the phone)
—Oh, hey Donna!...It’s your aunt Judee. Do you remember your aunt Judee?...Well I’m doing alright. Listen sweetie, can you put your dad on the phone? I really need to talk to him...Well where is he?...What do you mean he’s not here anymore?...Oh sweetie, you really shouldn’t say things like that, now can you put your dad on the phone, I really need to-
(brief static and then an older woman’s voice suddenly comes to the phone)
DOLLY IN on Judee. Her face goes from confusion to deep sadness.
I hadn’t seen my brother in three years. I didn’t want him to see me as a junkie, you know? I found out that he’d died of a liver infection. Later on I found out he died the same day I had ODed. I still think about him. He was the only family I had left.
INT. HOLIDAY INN HOTEL ROOM - MORNING
The interviewer is stunned. The air has been sucked out of the room with Judee’s last admission. Judee begins sucking on her teeth and tapping her fingers on the closed Bible sitting in her lap.
I was just beyond desperation in jail. I called everybody I knew, but no one would help bail me out because they all knew better. I can’t tell you how terrified I was at the prospect of being without heroin. Not only to not be fixing, but just to be alive with the air touching my skin. It was the most fear I’d ever felt. It was worse, I imagine, than hell could be. I spent three nights in the county jail, puking my guts out. Pretty soon, I was over the physical part of kicking, but I still had the all-consuming misery of being alive without having a drug.
INT. JAIL CELL - EVENING
FLASHBACK: Judee is slumped over on her cot with her head between her knees. She suddenly lifts her head up for air. Judee exhales and begins to fix her posture.
In jail, I had this recurrent fantasy about becoming a songwriter. I had such a hunger with this drug addiction that I thought maybe I could use that hunger to push me forward, you know? Like If I could keep my hungry monsters in line — keep them on a diet of bread and water — then maybe I could use them to pull my chariot forward and become a great songwriter.
MONTAGE: Judee closes her eyes. CLOSE UP of Judee’s hands lifting
from her knees, her wrists arching forward. She begins to pantomime
playing piano. She’s back in reform school playing Ray Charles
instead of the gospel hymns she was supposed to play. Judee is
tickled by this. CUT TO Judee limping over to the prison bars. She
looks out through the bars as if she’s looking out to an audience.
She can hear the crowd, and so can we. CUE crowd noise. CUT TO Judee
turning with her back to the prison bars. She lifts her arms up and
begins conducting. She quietly hums a melody so as not to wake her
cell mates, but in her head she can hear the full arrangement. CUE
INT. HOLIDAY INN HOTEL ROOM - MORNING
Somehow, I got off on probation. Some people I knew – they were sort of middle-aged hippies who’d helped me out when I was an acid-head – they got me this lawyer, David, who was very handsome and suave and quite a romantic figure in the courtroom, and I really liked him a lot...
(Judee’s mind wanders for a second)
Anyway, the judge put me on Naline probation for two years – that’s that surprise anti-opiate testing to make sure you’re staying off dope. I got to be the star of the program – can you believe it?? I was the only one in it who wasn’t nodding out!
Judee pumps her fists in the air like a boxer raising their gloves in victory, wearing a big cheesing grin on her face. The interviewer lets out a big laugh. A weight has been lifted.
So once I got out, I got back into playing bass at the club. It was about then I decided I’d better channel myself towards songwriting - using those hungry monsters, y’know. But I also had a few romances here and there.
(Judee gives a bashful grin)
I had this one romance with another bass player. I have this attraction to bass players because I’ve always liked a good bass line, y’know...
INT. JAZZ CLUB - NIGHT
FLASHBACK: Judee has just finished another gig playing bass and makes her way off stage towards the bar. CUT TO the next group taking the stage. The BASS PLAYER is in shadow, a tall but gentle presense. He kicks off the first song with a tasteful bass line. Judee takes notice. The band joins in as the lights come up. The Bass Player, pleased with the groove he has going, begins to scan the crowd when he notices a pair of eyes on him. CUT TO Judee making eye contact with him and smiling. He smiles back.
He was a Scorpio, and we lived together for a while. And one day I painted this bird on his wall...
INT. BASS PLAYER’S BEDROOM - DAY
FLASHBACK: WIDE SHOT, camera is placed just outside of the door frame. Judee is sitting on the bed, legs tucked under her knees, playing guitar. On the wall is a beautiful mural of a large mythical bird that nearly takes up the whole wall (looks like a phoenix). The mural looks freshly painted and you can see small paint marks on Judee’s arms and jeans.
Judee is serenading the bird, playing an early version of “My Man on Love”. Bass Player enters the room, and slowly sits on the bed behind Judee.
What is this?
(Judee chuckles, stops playing guitar)
Don’t you know? It’s a magic wishing bird!
(Bass Player lets out a big belly laugh)
Hah! Well what’s it for? And what’s it doing on my wall?
Well...if you rub it’s beak and make a wish, your wish will come true.
It’s that simple, huh?
Well nothing is that simple. You can’t expect anyone or anything in this life to just show up and blow your mind. Even God.
(Judee sets her guitar down, turns back around and faces Bass Player)
Now let me tell you a little secret. If you really want something in this life, you gotta build it a bedroom, put out the milk and cookies every night, and hope that it comes.
(Judee gestures to the mural)
That’s what this is. Building the bedroom. Setting out the milk and cookies.
Their eyes are locked. Judee’s eyelids lower. They kiss and begin to sink into bed, out of frame. FOCUS PULL on the mural.
That day made a lot of difference. I kind of sensed right then that romance wasn’t gonna be the answer for me...that maybe I had other things in store.
CUT TO: Bass Player pulls up his jeans and makes his way towards the kitchen. Judee’s bare back is to the camera as she begins getting dressed as well.
All of this talk about milk and cookies has me craving something sweet. You want anything?
(Judee looks over her shoulder)
Yeah sure, I’ll be right there.
Judee makes sure he’s out of sight before turning back around towards
the bird. Judee takes a long beat, taking in the bird’s majesty. She
places her hand on its beak and leans in, pressing her cheek against
the bird’s chest. She whispers a secret.