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Powerful Play Present Iraq in a Family's Story


Yearning to Breathe Free
by Ken Molloy

FADE IN:

SUPER- Mosul, Iraq, May 2004

EXT. SAINT THOMAS CHURCH – DAY

A small ancient Byzantine style church with a cross high atop its dome broils in the blaring sun.

INT. SAINT THOMAS CHURCH – DAY

FATHER KASSAB (60s) stands at the altar dressed in the traditional robes of a Chaldean Christian priest. The Mass ends. He turns to the congregation, raises his hands and gives the benediction.

FATHER KASSAB
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that ye may abound in hope through…

MASKED GUNMEN storm into the church and gun down Father Kassab. PEOPLE jump out of their pews and are mowed down. Others cower.

The gunmen systematically walk over to the statues of saints and blow off their faces. Without saying a word, they leave.

Screaming. Crying. Hysteria. People rush over to the dead and wounded. Medics come and carry out the dead and wounded. The church becomes eerily quiet.

INT. CHURCH - LATER

A lone arthritic woman who witnessed the carnage, MIRIAM (60s), sits praying. She laboriously gets up, picks up her cane and hobbles out of the church. The sound of her cane tapping the mosaic floor echoes to the top of the dome.

SUPER- Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., May 2004

EXT. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY CAMPUS - DAY

GEORGE NADHIR (25) stands in his graduation gown with the imposing Flemish Romanesque Building, Healy Hall, in the background. His wife, FARRAH NADHIR (23), a beautiful woman with dark, almond-shaped eyes and olive skin holds a camera.

FARRAH
Put your hat on.

GEORGE
They call it a mortarboard. Like plasterers in Mosul.

George puts the mortarboard on.

FARRAH
Smile. It’s a happy day.

GEORGE
People don’t walk down the street grinning.

FARRAH
Don’t think. Just smile.

GEORGE
I miss you already.

FARRAH
We’ve got two more days.

Farrah snaps a few pictures.

FARRAH
I wish Anthony were here to see you. Dr. George Nadhir.

GEORGE
These robes--he’d probably think I became a priest.

FARRAH
He’d want to put them on—-he loves to copy you.

GEORGE
That picture--he’s already up to your mother’s shoulder.

FARRAH
She’s shrinking.

GEORGE
Two years now. I hope he remembers me.

Farrah circles to the left to get the right background for another shot.

FARRAH
Every day when he wakes up--is Daddy here yet?

GEORGE
Every day?

FARRAH
Every day.

George takes off the mortarboard, runs his hand through his hair and moustache and forces a weak smile. Farrah snaps more pictures.

GEORGE
I’ll send six toys for his birthday. One for each year.

FARRAH
Then he’ll get angrier with me.

GEORGE
Why?

FARRAH
You’re like the American Santa Claus. I’m just the one who makes him take a bath.

GEORGE
Nobody ever sees Santa Claus.

Sadness darkens George’s face.

FARRAH
But if the gifts keep coming…

Farrah sees her joke didn’t brighten George’s spirit.

FARRAH
He’d rather see you than have all the gifts in Washington.

GEORGE
Christmas is not that sacred here. They should put Santa Claus in the manger. The money--

FARRAH
--Now in front of that cherry tree.

George and Farrah walk over to the tree. More pictures.

GEORGE
I could do my residency at Al Jamhuri Hospital.

FARRAH
(laughs)
You stay right here.

GEORGE
I want to help build the new Iraq.

FARRAH
After your internship—-maybe.

GEORGE
At least I get paid now.

FARRAH
Finally.

INT. A RESTAURANT IN GEORGETOWN – LATE NIGHT

George and Farrah sit at a small candle-lit table. The restaurant has emptied. Two glasses of red wine remain after the meal. They hold hands across the table as the light plays on their faces.

GEORGE
My beautiful Farrah.

FARRAH
If mother weren’t so weak…

GEORGE
What?

FARRAH
Maybe we could all live here.

GEORGE
But I love Mosul. And no more Saddam.

FARRAH
First he gets millions. Now they’re going to hang him. I don’t trust the Americans.

GEORGE
The Christians of Iraq will benefit. President Bush will help us.

A disbelieving smile flickers on Farrah’s face.

FARRAH
It’s easy to break a country. Hard to fix one.

GEORGE
Every year you get more beautiful.

George lifts up Farrah’s hand and kisses it.

GEORGE
And when I haven’t seen you for a while—-it’s like the first time. I’m helplessly in love again.

INT. GEORGE’S APARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C. - NIGHT

George and Farrah lie in a twin bed in a sparsely appointed room. A dresser, a desk, a book shelf filled with medical tomes. On the night table, George and Farrah’s wedding picture. They’re standing on the steps of St. Thomas Church.

GEORGE
Why don’t you want to have another child?

FARRAH
Things have to settle down.

GEORGE
A sweet little girl. Soon she and Anthony will be too far apart to play together.

FARRAH
He’ll be a big brother. That’s nice.

GEORGE
Your mother’s a burden--but if she happens to fail…

FARRAH
George!

GEORGE
I’m sorry. When you see people die every day…

FARRAH
George!

GEORGE
Sorry.

George puts a pillow over his face.

FARRAH
Mother doesn’t even want to go outside anymore. To Mass on Sunday and once to the market.

GEORGE
It’s nice for Anthony to have a grandmother.

FARRAH
She’s too cranky.

GEORGE
I don’t know why the American embassy wouldn’t let you bring him.

FARRAH
You are the most ignorant doctor I know.

GEORGE
What?

FARRAH
Terrorism.

GEORGE
A six year old is going to blow something up?

FARRAH
They wanted to make sure I went back. They don’t want any of us here.

GEORGE
Mosul’s better than here anyway.

Farrah sighs and turns out the light.

EXT. QUEEN ALIA AIRPORT, AMMAN, JORDAN - DAY

ABDUL (25), George’s long-time friend, meets Farrah outside the terminal in a beat up pumpkin-orange Toyota with no air conditioning. He jumps out of the car and puts Farrah’s suitcase in the trunk.

ABDUL
Welcome home, Farrah.

FARRAH
How is Anthony?

ABDUL
Fine.

FARRAH
And my mother?

ABDUL
As good as can be expected.

Farrah and Abdul jump in the car and Abdul drives off.

INT. THE TOYOTA – DAY

FARRAH
Maybe it’s good Anthony gets her blood circulating.

ABDUL
Boiling. How was your time with George?

FARRAH
Wonderful. I am so proud. He’s a doctor now.

Farrah primps her hair in the sunshade mirror.

ABDUL
Dr. Nadhir. Sounds good. He should stay in America and make a fortune.

FARRAH
And what about us?
ABDUL
Go there too. There are ways. What is America like?

FARRAH
Washington is very beautiful. White stone buildings and many monuments to their wars. There’s a great obelisk that you can climb up and see the whole city.

ABDUL
What’s an obelisk?

FARRAH
A fifty story stone pencil. They were here, in Assyria, but the British stole them.

ABDUL
Are the people nice?

FARRAH
Nice, yes. Maybe they send their mean people over here.

ABDUL
To hide behind barricades and watch us kill each other.

Farrah laughs.

FARRAH
George calls it freedom.

Farrah looks out the window at the flood of refugees heading in the opposite direction. Abdul wipes the sweat from his brow and flings it out the window.

FARRAH
We are going the wrong way.

ABDUL
A flood. Millions.

FARRAH
Will you leave?

ABDUL
I have no place to go.

FARRAH
You’re the only man we have.

ABDUL
(soberly)
These people have nowhere to go either.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE - DAY

A single-level masonry house on a narrow street. Sunlight filtered by taller buildings casts trapezoidal patterns on a terra cotta floor.

Farrah arrives home dusty and tired.

Miriam, Farrah’s mother, sits in a chair with one leg elevated on an Ottoman.

Farrah drops her suitcase. ANTHONY(6) runs over and hugs her.

ANTHONY
Mother, Mother.

MIRIAM
I would have died if you were gone one more day.

ANTHONY
Grandmother could have died?

FARRAH
She says things she doesn’t mean.

ANTHONY
She threw shoes at me.

Miriam holds up a shoe placed next to her on the chair. She gives Anthony a stern look.

MIRIAM
I can’t catch him anymore.

Anthony smirks and runs over to the suitcase.

ANTHONY
What did Father get me?

MIRIAM
Always thinking of himself.

FARRAH
Father said they’re for your birthday.

ANTHONY
But I want them now.

Anthony paws the suitcase. He looks plaintively at Farrah.

FARRAH
All right.

Anthony opens Farrah’s suitcase. Clothes spill out. Anthony grabs the toys. A plastic boomerang, a pen with a picture of the Capitol, a set of zoo animals, a soccer ball, a miniature bronze Washington Monument and a set of Legos. Anthony is intrigued by the Legos.

FARRAH
You can make a castle or a boat—anything you want.

Anthony runs off to another room with the Legos and leaves the other toys behind.

MIRIAM
How was America?

FARRAH
Beautiful. Peaceful. I have pictures. Everyone is rich. The streets are wide and clean. Big white buildings everywhere.

MIRIAM
They always start a war somewhere else. How was the food?

FARRAH
They don’t know spices. Was everything all right here?

MIRIAM
They killed Father Kassab.

FARRAH
What?

MIRIAM
At the end of Mass. I saw everything. And then they shot the saints and anyone else who...

FARRAH
Who?

MIRIAM
Nobody. It’s always nobody. I go for a walk and people—even the Assafs—don’t want to talk to me.

FARRAH
He was the kindest, gentlest man.

MIRIAM
Killed in front of everyone and there’s no one to prevent it. And the Sharifs--how long have we known them?

Miriam uses her arm to lower one leg to the floor and to raise the other onto the Ottoman.

FARRAH
Grandfather played dominoes with old Mr. Sharif since they were boys.
MIRIAM
They turned away when I greeted them in the market. I wish Saddam Hussein never left.

FARRAH
Mother!

A mouse scurries across the floor.

FARRAH
Have you been feeding it?

MIRIAM
It took your place while you were in America.

FARRAH
And soon he’ll whistle for his friends.

MIRIAM
It kept Anthony busy. Trying to find his hiding place. Trying to catch him. I’d give my last crumb to keep that boy occupied.

FARRAH
When you can’t play outside...

MIRIAM
Everyone’s afraid.

FARRAH
It will get better.

Miriam laughs.

MIRIAM
So you lied to George.

FARRAH
Of course.

MIRIAM
He is our hope. But one day--

FARRAH
--He’ll realize that this country is ruined.

MIRIAM
And then?

FARRAH
He has to be at the hospital sometimes twenty-four hours straight. I don’t want him worrying about this place.

MIRIAM
Better to keep his head buried in his books.

EXT. A STREET IN MOSUL – DAY

Farrah walks a shadowed, winding street to the Sharif’s house.

She raises her arm to knock on the door then hesitates for a moment. She looks up and down the street, then knocks. LAILA SHARIF(23) opens the thick wood door and closes it to a crack when she sees it’s Farrah.

FARRAH
Well, Laila, aren’t you going to open your door to a guest?

LAILA
Farouk is very sick. It’s contagious.

FARRAH
Then come out and we’ll get some tea.

LAILA
I may be contagious too.

FARRAH
I’ll tell you all about America.

LAILA
The streets are too dangerous for women alone.

FARRAH
Open the door so I can see if there’s a lie on your face.

Laila opens the door and hustles Farrah inside.

INT. LAILA’S HOUSE – DAY

Laila takes only a few steps away from the door and does not allow Farrah to go farther into the house.

LAILA
We can’t be friends anymore. It’s dangerous for both of us.

FARRAH
We’re generations of friends.

LAILA
Act like a friend and go away.

FARRAH
You don’t look sick.

Laila flashes a worried smile and opens her arms. Farrah falls into them and they hug.

LAILA
I love you. We will always be like sisters but--

FARRAH
--Why? What happened?

LAILA
If gunmen catch us with infidels they’ll kill us. Until this terrible time is over—-

FARRAH
We have lived peacefully with Muslims-- everyone--for a thousand years.

LAILA
They say Christians are spies for the Americans. You will betray us. Please go now. May Allah protect you.

Farrah is stunned. Laila hugs her again and drops a tear.

FARRAH
Friends forever?

Laila chokes up and nods.

FARRAH
I guess no one should see me leave?

Laila peers out the window.

LAILA
Go. Quickly. There are a thousand eyes. Someday you’ll tell me about America. What was it like?

FARRAH
Wonderful.

Farrah slips out and walks away quickly.

EXT. OUTSIDE FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAY

GHAZI (30s), a man with an orange complexion, as if tar and nicotine have leaked through his pores, watches from an alley across the street.

He sucks on a cigarette until it almost burns his lips and lets it drop to the ground. Slowly the smoke rises out of his nostrils.

Farrah opens her door and stares suspiciously at him before going in. Ghazi grins back.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAY

Miriam sleeps in her chair. Anthony constructs a building with Legos.

FARRAH
(whispers)
You’re being a good boy for grandmother?

Anthony is so absorbed in what he’s making that he doesn’t answer. Farrah walks closer.

ANTHONY
I’m making the building behind Daddy in the picture.

FARRAH
At Georgetown.

ANTHONY
When he had those girl robes on.

FARRAH
That’s a graduation gown.

ANTHONY
Is that how you learn to be a doctor?

FARRAH
What do you mean, Son?

ANTHONY
You put a book on your head and the words go inside?

FARRAH
It’s called a mortarboard. I know, it looks funny.

Miriam starts and opens her eyes.

FARRAH
There was this man outside, looking at our house--

MIRIAM
--I’ve seen him before. Just staring. Coveting. What are we? Two women and a small child.

FARRAH
We’ll pay Abdul to protect us. He’ll sleep in the back room.

EXT. SAINT THOMAS CHURCH – DAY

A BOMB blows up and collapses the right portal of the church.

Ghazi and another MAN grin in the shadow of a doorway.

PEOPLE gather outside the church to see what happened.

Farrah observes from a distance and then hurries away.

INT. ABDUL’S CAR REPAIR - DAY

Farrah flings open the door to Abdul’s shop.

FARRAH
Someone blew up Saint Thomas. Someone blew up our church. And they shot Father Kassab. You have to help us. There’s this man…

Abdul holds Farrah by the shoulders and looks into her eyes. Fear. He shakes her.

ABDUL
Farrah. Calm down. Listen to me.

FARRAH
You have to help us.

ABDUL
What do you want me to do?

FARRAH
Come stay with us. Protect us. I’ll pay you.

ABDUL
Calm down. I’ll make you some tea.

FARRAH
Father Kassab cared for the sick and poor. Why would they kill him?

Farrah paces and twists her hair with her index finger and paces.

ABDUL
Sit. Just sit there.

Farrah sits on a stool in front of a work bench covered with tools. She rocks nervously. Abdul keeps an eye on her as he boils some water with a cutting torch.

FARRAH
What are we going to do?

ABDUL
It’s time to go for a ride.

FARRAH
What do you mean?

ABDUL
Say good-bye to Mosul.

FARRAH
Good-bye?

ABDUL
You could pay the jizyah but that’s death by a thousand cuts.

FARRAH
What?
ABDUL
Protection money. Tribute. These are not good Muslims. Then the next gang comes along and you pay double. Soon you’ll have nothing.

FARRAH
Just take our things and go? My mother--where?

ABDUL
George and I were smaller than Anthony when we met. Soccer mates. Did he ever tell you about the time we made a boat out of reeds and sailed down the Tigris?

FARRAH
No but—-

ABDUL
--We were twelve. It leaked. We went ten kilometers down river and left it to sink.

Abdul laughs and hands Farrah a cup of tea.

ABDUL
You must leave.

FARRAH
But the house.

ABDUL
Is it worth your lives?

FARRAH
You could sell everything for us?

ABDUL
Not for much these days. But enough to get you to America. I’ll make a deal with the smugglers.

FARRAH
I have gold jewelry. And a sapphire ring.

ABDUL
Good.

FARRAH
The smugglers--are they trustworthy?

Abdul snickers.

ABDUL
No, but I know them.

FARRAH
I’m only gone for three weeks and now…

ABDUL
It’s getting worse.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Miriam sits in the front room. Farrah packs. She takes down her mother and father’s wedding picture and puts it in one of the suitcases.

MIRIAM
Put that back.

FARRAH
Don’t you want to remember Father?

MIRIAM
I said I’m not going.

FARRAH
You have no choice.

MIRIAM
They won’t hurt an old lady.

FARRAH
(laughs)
I’m not leaving without you.

MIRIAM
Then you’re a bad mother. I will only be a burden.

FARRAH
You have tonight to convince yourself.

MIRIAM
If Jesus won’t protect me they can martyr me right here. I’ll see Father Kassab in heaven.

FARRAH
Mother, stop. I’ll tie you up and put you in the back seat if I have to.

MIRIAM
What kind of life will we have in Jordan?

FARRAH
America. Abdul knows how to get us to America.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE – BEFORE SUNRISE

A knock on the door. Farrah opens it a crack, sees it’s Abdul, and lets him in. Three suitcases and three boxes wait by the door.

FARRAH
Mother refuses to go.

ABDUL
Leave her. They didn’t even want a young boy.

FARRAH
What if I never see her again?

ABDUL
I’ll look out for her.

Farrah hands the gold and the sapphire ring to Abdul.

FARRAH
George’s mother’s ring. Some day we will come back to thank you.

ABDUL
As Allah wills.

FARRAH
And get my Mother.

ABDUL
As Allah wills.

ANTHONY
Why are we leaving in such a hurry, Mother?

FARRAH
Because of the bad people out there. Don’t you want to be able to play outside again?

ANTHONY
Why can’t I bring my soccer ball?

ABDUL
(to Anthony)
Your father was a very good player.

FARRAH
Father will get you a better one.

ANTHONY
Yeah, I am going to see Father.

INT. – MIRIAM’S BEDROOM - DAWN

Farrah walks into Miriam’s bedroom and kisses her on the forehead. Miriam opens her eyes.

FARRAH
Mother, I love you. I hope this is not the last--

MIRIAM
--Of course not. Go. I’ll write to you.

FARRAH
We’ll send you money. To Abdul’s shop. I’ll miss you so much.

MIRIAM
You have a son to worry about. Sit.

Farrah sits on the edge of the bed. Miriam painstakingly reaches behind her neck and unclasps a chain with a gold cross. It catches the moonlight through the window. She gives it to Farrah.

FARRAH
Great-grandmother’s.

MIRIAM
May Jesus watch over you.

Farrah hugs Miriam.

Farrah sees Anthony in the doorway. She gets up and hurries him into the front room.

ANTHONY
Is this like when Jesus’ mother took him to Egypt?

FARRAH
Yes. Very good. And when the Hebrews ran from the Pharaoh. We’re running to safety.

ANTHONY
What about Grandmother?

FARRRAH
She’ll be safe.

ABDUL
Come. His name is Nidal. He is waiting on Rassam Street.

FARRAH
You’ve been a great friend.

ABDUL
Soccer mates never let each other down.

Abdul kicks an imaginary ball.

FARRAH
(to Anthony)
Wait right here. We’ll be right back.

EXT. RASSAM STREET - DAWN

Daylight sneaks down the serpentine street. Farrah and Abdul drop the suitcases and boxes next to an old Honda with tinted windows. The driver doesn’t get out. Abdul and Farrah walk back to the house.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAWN

Farrah and Abdul grab the remaining boxes and suitcases. Abdul picks up the last box.

FARRAH
That’s Mother’s.

Abdul grins and puts it down.

Farrah grabs Anthony’s hand.

FARRAH
We have to hurry.

INT. A HONDA ON THE ROAD TO JORDAN – DAY

Anthony and Farrah ride in the back of the beat-up green 1990 Honda Civic. Two boxes on the front seat. Suitcases in the trunk, which is tied down with rope. Farrah wears a headscarf.

The road is crowded with refugees.

The driver, NIDAL (40s), crooked, stained teeth, an ear partially torn and bloodshot eyes, continually honks and swerves around pedestrians. He smokes a drooping, hand-rolled cigarette. The ashes fall on his shirt.

Nidal turns onto a road with no pedestrians.

FARRAH
Where are we going?

NIDAL
To Jordan.

FARRAH
No one’s traveling this road.

NIDAL
Do you know the best way?

FARRAH
No.

NIDAL
I do.

ANTHONY
Mother, the smoke is blowing in my eyes.

Farrah waves the smoke away from Anthony’s face.

The driver throws the butt out the window.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAY

Miriam sits alone. There is a knock on the door.

Miriam opens the door a crack. Ghazi forces his way in.

MIRIAM
What do you want?

GHAZI
(slaps Miriam)
This is my house. Get out.

MIRIAM
This is my house.

Ghazi pushes Miriam on the floor and handles a beautiful brass urn.

GHAZI
Where’s the money?

MIRIAM
I have no money.

GHAZI
So you eat dirt for dinner?

Ghazi smashes the urn against the wall.

GHAZI
Where’s the money?

Ghazi kicks Miriam.

GHAZI
Get out. I’ll find it myself.

Ghazi picks up Miriam and throws her at the door.

GHAZI
Get out.

MIRIAM
You have no right…

GHAZI
Infidels have no rights--unless you pay me the jizyah…

MIRIAM
Jizyah?

GHAZI
One half ounce of gold a month and you can stay in a Muslim land.

Ghazi pulls out a pistol.

MIRIAM
God will punish you for doing this to an old woman.

Ghazi looks at the crucifix on the wall.

GHAZI
Your God is dead. You have one minute to get me my gold.

Miriam walks into the bedroom and uncovers her hidden cache of money and valuables.

Ghazi follows at a distance so he can see where Miriam is looking.

Miriam returns to the front room with a silver necklace.

GHAZI
Death to the infidels.

Ghazi shoots Miriam. Her blood spills on the floor.

He steps over her body and walks to the back to see what else is in her cache.

INT. A HONDA ON THE ROAD TO JORDAN – DAY

Farrah and Anthony sleep in the back seat.

As Nidal swerves to miss potholes the car fishtails from side to side.

The blacktop broils. The heat coming off the road blurs the horizon.

A small ROADSIDE BOMB explodes and blows out the front of the car.

Farrah, Anthony and Nidal jump out of the car and run away.

EXT. THE ROAD TO JORDAN - AFTERNOON

Farrah, Anthony and Nidal stare at the Honda as flames spread. The gas tank EXPLODES and a fireball envelops the car.

FARRAH
What do we do now?

ANTHONY
Mother, are we lost?

FARRAH
How are you going to get us to Jordan?

NIDAL
My car. I love that car.

Nidal fumbles in his pocket for a scrap of paper.
He hands it to Farrah.

NIDAL
Here.

Farrah reads the paper.

FARRAH
What is this?

NIDAL
My beautiful car. I can’t help you. That’s the address. In Amman.

FARRAH
You can’t leave us here.
Nidal walks away.

Farrah takes Anthony’s hand and starts following. They can’t keep up. Nidal vanishes over a hill.

ANTHONY
Isn’t there anyone to help us?

FARRAH
Soon. Soon we’ll find someone.

EXT. A HOLLOW NEAR THE ROAD - NIGHT

Farrah and Anthony huddle together against the cold.

They hear men’s voices—MILITIA MAN #1, the leader, MILITIA MAN #2, a burly, boorish brute, and MILITIA MAN #3 a young dolt. Guns at the ready, they walk cautiously.

MILITIA MAN #1
This looks like a good spot. When the Americans come down the road-- bang.

FARRAH
Shhhh.

ANTHONY
Who is it?

Farrah cover’s Anthony’s mouth.

FARRAH
Shhhh.

MILITIA MAN #1
I heard someone.

Militia Man #1 signals for two other men to move in the direction of the noise.

They find Farrah and Anthony.

MILITIA MAN #2
What do we have here? Get up.

Farrah and Anthony stand up.

FARRAH
Please, we are trying to get to Jordan. The man who was escorting us deserted us.

Militia Man #2 rips open Farrah’s blouse. She has the gold cross around her neck.

MILITIA MAN #1
An infidel! And gold for bullets to tear out the chests of the Americans.

Militia Man #1 holds out his hand. Farrah takes off the gold cross and hands it to him.

FARRAH
Please don’t hurt us.

MILITIA MAN #1
(to Militia Man #3)
I think she’s hiding money. Hold the boy and we will find out.

Militia Man #2 throws a knowing smile back to Militia Man #1.

ANTHONY
(screams)
Leave my mother alone.

Anthony clings to Farrah. Militia Man #3 rips him off her. Anthony kicks him.

MILITIA MAN #1
Tell him to behave or he’ll have to watch. And then…

Militia Man #1 slides his index finger across his neck.

FARRAH
Please, no, anything…

MILITIA MAN #1
Tell him to be a good boy then.

FARRAH
Anthony, they’re not going to hurt me. Just be a good boy until I get back.

The men walk Farrah into the night and rape her. She is submissive for fear of them killing Anthony.

MILITIA MAN #1
You should at least moan a little. So we don’t cut your throat.

They laugh boisterously.

MILITIA MAN #2
(to Militia Man #1)
She should pretend you know how to please a woman?

MILITIA MAN #1
Maybe we take her at the same time so she doesn’t notice how tiny you are.

MILITIA MAN #2
Make some noise. You like it don’t you?

FARRAH
My son.

MILITIA MAN #1
He’ll just think it’s a wild dog.

They laugh.

MILITIA MAN #2
A Christian dog.

Militia Man #1 nods back toward where Militia Man #3 is holding Anthony.

MILITIA MAN #1
Shouldn’t he get a chance?

MILITIA MAN #2
At the boy?

They guffaw and pull up their pants.

Farrah lies frozen with fear.

Militia Man #3 sees something under Anthony’s shirt.

MILITIA MAN #3
What’s under your shirt?

ANTHONY
You can’t have them.

Militia Man #3 takes the box of Legos from Anthony. Anthony starts to cry. Militia Man #3 checks inside the box and then tosses it aside. The Legos scatter. Anthony runs over, puts them back in their box and hides them under his shirt.

ANTHONY
You’re a mean man.

MILITIA MAN #3
Just ask your mother.

Militia Man #1 and Militia Man #2 walk back and leave Farrah on the ground.

At first Farrah is afraid to get up. Then panic crosses her face. She stumbles to her feet and runs over to Anthony. Anthony runs over and hugs Farrah then turns to the Militia Men and spreads his arms in a protective gesture.

Militia Man #2 aims at Farrah and Anthony.

MILITIA MAN #2
One bullet. Both.

FARRAH
(screams)
Please!

Machine gun fire erupts not far away. The men spook and pick up their guns.

MILITIA MAN #1
Shhhh. Let’s go.

The men slip away into the night. Farrah straightens out her dress and hair. She cries to herself as she hugs Anthony.

ANTHONY
Did they hurt you, mother?

FARRAH
No, son.

ANTHONY
What were they laughing at?

FARRAH
They made me dance. I’m a very bad dancer.

ANTHONY
Your dress is torn.

Farrah shows Anthony some dinar and U.S. dollars.

FARRAH
They never found our money.

EXT. THE ROAD TO JORDAN – THE NEXT AFTERNOON

Farrah and Anthony continue back-tracking to meet up with the crowd of refugees. Safety in numbers.

ANTHONY
(whining)
Why is it so hard to get there? How much farther?

FARRAH
Remember all those people on the road? We’re going to meet them. Let’s sing some songs.

Farrah sings one of Anthony’s favorite songs.

FARRAH
Don’t you want to help me sing?

Farrah starts another song and Anthony joins in.

They come across an American army patrol.

FARRAH
Americans. They’ll help us. We’ll tell them Father is a doctor in Washington.

ANTHONY
Will they take us to Father?

FARRAH
Yes. Yes, we are safe.

Farrah and Anthony run toward the two soldiers, a SERGEANT (21) and a PRIVATE (18). The Private sees the outline of the Legos under Anthony’s shirt.

PRIVATE
Suicide bomb!

The Private opens fire, hitting Anthony. Farrah dives on the ground and covers Anthony with her body. She remains still as the Americans train their guns on her and walk over. Farrah raises her head and looks at the soldiers. She knows Anthony is dead. She cries bitterly.

They see the Legos scattered on the ground.

PRIVATE
Shit, Legos.

SERGEANT
Let’s get out of here.

The Private stares remorsefully at Anthony’s body.

PRIVATE
Shouldn’t we say something?

SERGEANT
You don’t know Arabic.

Farrah gets up and gathers the Legos, puts them in their box, looks down at her dead son then hurls the box at the soldiers. The box breaks and the Legos scatter at the soldiers’ feet.

FARRAH
(screams)
Murderers.

PRIVATE
She speaks English.
(to Farrah)
I’m sorry.

The Sergeant pulls some money out of his pocket and offers it to Farrah. The Private copies him.

SERGEANT
To bury him.

Farrah drops to her knees in the dust, holds Anthony’s head on her lap and wails inconsolably. She kisses him and brushes his hair in place.

The soldiers drop the money on the ground.

SERGEANT
If suicide bombers wore uniforms--this fucking war—-let’s get the hell out of here.

PRIVATE
Is there something else we should do?

SERGEANT
Feel too sorry for these dust bunnies and you’ll never get back to The States.

PRIVATE
They’re just people like us.

SERGEANT
So is every enemy.

The soldiers move on, leaving Farrah to grieve.

EXT. ROADSIDE - MORNING

Farrah carries her dead son to the side of the road.

A car approaches. Farrah waves desperately. The car honks three times and races by without stopping.

Farrah sees a second car in the distance. She waves. The car whizzes by.

Farrah sees a third car approaching. She holds Anthony in her arms and looks plaintively at the driver, MAHMOUD (40s) stops.

MAHMOUD
Does he need a doctor?

FARRAH
Help me bury my son. American soldiers shot him. Please.

MAHMOUD
God willing, they will pay for their crimes. Get in.

Farrah carries Anthony in her arms and gets in the car.

INT. CAR – DAY

Mahmoud drives off.

MAHMOUD
Where is your husband? It’s not safe for a woman.

FARRAH
We were going to meet him. There, under that palm tree.

Mahmoud stops.

EXT. ROADSIDE – DAY

Mahmoud opens his trunk and pulls out a tire iron to dig with.

MAHMOUD
Do you want me to carry him?

FARRAH
How do I let him go?

EXT. UNDER A PALM TREE - DAY

Mahmoud and Farrah walk over to the tree. Farrah sits in the shade and strokes Anthony’s hair. Mahmoud looks at Farrah. She nods. Mahmoud starts digging. Farah puts Anthony down, takes some palm fronds and weaves them into a small cross. Mahmoud stops digging and watches.

FARRAH
Have you never seen a Christian?

MAHMOUD
No.

FARRAH
We were many in Mosul. But now-

MAHMOUD
--The war has brought suffering to all Iraqis. Do you want to lay the boy down?

FARRAH
May he wake up with the angels around the throne of God and look down on his mother and say “someday we will see each other again.”

MAHMOUD
As Allah wills.

Farrah lays Anthony in the grave and turns away and sobs. Mahmoud covers him with dirt. Farrah places the cross at the head. She and Mahmoud walk away.

MAHMOUD
You are welcome to stay in my home tonight but then where will you go?

FARRAH
Back to Mosul. To see my mother.

MAHMOUD
May Allah, The Compassionate One, give you strength.

FARRAH
I don’t care anymore.

MAHMOUD
But your husband cares. He wants to see his beautiful wife again. He wants to have more beautiful children with you. Be brave.

FARRAH
Brave. That’s easy. I don’t care if I live. I can’t leave my son.

Mahmoud leaves, turning around a few times to make sure Farrah doesn’t do anything drastic. Farrah walks back and forth beside Anthony’s grave. She then sits against the palm tree, sobbing.

EXT. OUTSIDE FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAY

Farrah looks worn down. She tries the door but it’s locked. She knocks.
FARRAH
Mother. Mother, it’s me, Farrah. I’m back.

A WOMAN (30s) opens the door.

INT. FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAY

Farrah surveys the room. All the furniture is still in place but the crucifix on the wall and pictures of the family have been removed.

FARRAH
Who are you? Where’s my mother?

Farrah pushes past the Woman.

FARRAH
Where is she?

Farrah sees Ghazi sitting in a chair.

FARRAH
What did you do to her?

GHAZI
Get out of my house. Now.

FARRAH
This is my house.

A two year old CHILD starts crying.

GHAZI
You are scaring the child. Do you want to see your mother?

Ghazi’s eyes move to a blood stain on the floor. Ghazi grins. Farrah runs over to hit Ghazi. He pulls out a knife.

FARRAH
You filthy pig.

GHAZI
I will give you ten seconds to get out of my house.

Farrah hesitates. Ghazi pulls a knife and cuts Farrah across the cheek. She backs up slowly to leave the house.

FARRAH
Someday you will find out whose house you stole.

Ghazi laughs.

EXT. STREET OUTSIDE FARRAH’S HOUSE – DAY

Farrah watches the door close behind her.

She uses the hem of her dress to staunch the bleeding.
She reaches in her pocket and pulls out the piece of paper with the name and address of the smuggler in Amman, Jordan.

She hurries down the street.

INT. ABDUL’S CAR REPAIR – DAY

Abdul works underneath a car. His legs are all that Farrah can see.

FARRAH
Abdul.

ABDUL
Farrah?

Abdul climbs out from under the car.

ABDUL
What—

FARRAH
--Mother’s dead, Anthony’s dead.

ABDUL
What? I checked on her a few days ago.

Abdul hugs Farrah. She breaks down. Abdul holds her up and walks her over to a stool. He stands over her, making sure she’s stable.

ABDUL
Your cheek.

FARRAH
He cut me.

Abdul runs to get a cloth and dips it in water.

Farrah cleans her wound and presses the cloth against her cheek.

ABDUL
Who?

FARRAH
The man with the terrible grin. He killed mother and stole our house.

ABDUL
That dog. When the time is right, I won’t forget. What happened to Anthony?

FARRAH
Soldiers shot him. They thought he had a bomb.

ABDUL
They should get the hell out of our country.

FARRAH
--On the road to Amman.

Farrah folds her arms tightly around her body and casts her eyes to the floor.

FARRAH
And…

ABDUL
What else could have happened?

FARRAH
That night--we had nowhere to stay. That man—-Nidal--his car blew up. We slept under the stars and a bright crescent moon. And…

Abdul sees the pain etched on Farrah’s face.

ABDUL
You don’t have to tell me.

FARRAH
They raped me.

Abdul hugs her.

ABDUL
The Americans?

FARRAH
No. Militants. Jihadists.

Farrah breaks down.

ABDUL
Please. Listen, Farrah. George. He loves you so much. I’ll drive you to Amman. You’ll be safe from now on. I never--

FARRAH
(weakly)
--I have the name and address of the smuggler.

ABDUL
I’ll take you there myself. I’ll make sure you’re safe. I’m so sorry.

EXT. A STREET IN EAST AMMAN, JORDAN – DAY

The poor quarter of the city. Beggars, refugees and invalids crouch against the walls of run-down tenements. Laundry hangs out of windows. Crowds mill around a square. Fruit and spice sellers. Sellers of outdated Western brand sportswear and sneakers. Farrah shows the piece of paper with the address to a PASSERBY.

FARRAH
Do you know where Madabah Street is?

PASSERBY
Across the square. On the right, near the tobacco seller.

FARRAH
Thank you.

EXT. OUTSIDE A HOUSE – DAY

Abdul knocks on the door. No answer. He knocks again. The door squeaks open and KAREEM (30s), a portly, jovial man appears.

ABDUL
Good morning. Is Kareem here?

KAREEM
There is no Kareem here. Who are you?

ABDUL
My name is Abdul. This is Farrah. She paid Jawad a lot of money to take her to America. I want to see Kareem.

KAREEM
How much did you pay?

ABDUL
I am a friend of Jawad.

A broad smile lights up Kareem’s face.

KAREEM
I am Kareem. Come in. You are the woman from Mosul. Where’s the boy?

Farrah starts to cry. Abdul puts his arm around her.

ABDUL
There was a tragedy. I have to get back to my business in Mosul. She will be safe now?

KAREEM
You have my word.

ABDUL
Will you be all right?

Farrah nods.
KAREEM
She is my guest.

Abdul hugs Farrah.

ABDUL
May Allah keep you safe. Call the hotel if anything goes wrong. They will tell me and I will come.

KAREEM
She is in good hands.

ABDUL
Or Jawad will hear from me. Peace be upon you.

INT. KAREEM’S HOUSE - EVENING

KAREEM
Please sit down. You were expected a week ago. What happened?

Farrah sits. Kareem brings tea.

FARRAH
The Americans. They shot my son. Then they walked away.

KAREEM
They are the terrorists. Amman cannot take in all these refugees. They won’t let us go to America. What are we, dogs?

FARRAH
My husband is a doctor in America. When he finds out about my son…

Farrah feels her cheek. The clean cut has scabbed over. A tear falls.

KAREEM
I will get you to America.

FARRAH
Please. They’re killing us because we have the Americans’ religion.

KAREEM
Allah, The All Compassionate, will punish them someday. Don’t worry. There’s a man in Mexico City called Zapatas. He never fails.

FARRAH
Mexico?

KAREEM
You will go to Russia. Then to Mexico. It is very safe. You’ll have papers.

FARRAH
My husband is in Washington. Should I call him?

KAREEM
When you get to America. What good would it do? He’s there, you’re here.

FARRAH
If I stay with my husband and I am caught—will they make us both leave America?

KAREEM
They will never catch you.

Farrah feels her cheek and casts her eyes to the ground.

KAREEM
You don’t believe me. It sounds like your husband is an esteemed man. If they find you…they will never find you. But if they do, embarrass them. Americans do terrible things and then find a way to justify them. We’re all terrorists—don’t you know?

Kareem shapes his moustache with his fingers.

KAREEM
In Jordan, if you kill you’re a killer.

FARRAH
They are killers.

KAREEM
If they find you go to the newspapers and tell them you are an Iraqi Christian and you want asylum. Maybe because they think of themselves as Christians they will let you slip out the back door. Do you know English?

FARRAH
I studied it in school. I listened to British and American singers. How do I get from Mexico to America?

KAREEM
Zapatas, has many ways. Then Jawad will give me the rest of my money. I’m sorry for the terrible things that have happened to you…but we do provide a service.

FARRAH
I’m so tired.

KAREEM
If you have heard stories—stories of women traveling alone—none of that will happen to you. Go inside and sleep. I will take care of everything.

INT. KAREEM’S HOUSE – THE NEXT DAY

Farrah walks into the main room, just waking up from a long sleep. Kareem and his father ALI (60s) play dominos at a table.

KAREEM
Some food for our guest.

Kareem pushes all the dominos to one side of the table.

KAREEM
We will start over later.

ALI
But I was winning.

KAREEM
He’s always winning but then he loses. Father, this is Farrah. I will get her to her husband in the United States. Did you have a good sleep?
ALI
Peace be upon you.

FARRAH
Good morning.

ALI
Sit. Sit.

Both Ali and Kareem rise. Ali sits in an armchair and Kareem goes over to a stove in the corner of the room.

KAREEM
Barnia. Do you smell it?

FARRAH
My stomach ached for it but I was too tired to lift my head.

Kareem fixes two bowls and sits down to eat with Farrah.

KAREEM
We believe Jesus was a prophet. No more.

Farrah just keeps eating voraciously.

KAREEM
We’ll talk when you are done.
Do you like the stew?

She nods.

They both finish the Barnia. Kareem clears the table and brings over a bowl of dates.

KAREEM
And dates. Don’t think you will eat so well every day on your journey.

FARRAH
I don’t think about tomorrow.

KAREEM
You must be a strong believer to not question.

FARRAH
It’s what we were taught. Chaldeans have been Christian since the apostle Thomas--long before Islam.

KAREEM
Islam is the last revelation. Maybe you could have converted and avoided all this trouble? Did you pray for your family’s safety?

FARRAH
Yes.

KAREEM
Why don’t you blame God then? You have the same God as the Americans and look.

FARRAH
They are not true Christians.

KAREEM
They are bloodthirsty Crusaders who are drunk on oil. You know what I think?

FARRAH
What?

KAREEM
People become one religion when they are too afraid to be anything else. God--we say Allah--looks down from heaven and cringes at what we do in His name.

INT. QUEEN ALIA AIRPORT WAITING AREA – NIGHT

Farrah and Kareem wait for Farrah’s flight to be announced.

KAREEM
When you get to Mexico City there will be someone waiting at arrivals with a sign that says “Farrah.” They will escort you.

FARRAH
But if no one is waiting?

KAREEM
They will be waiting.

Farrah’s flight to Moscow is announced over the loudspeaker. Farrah and Kareem get up.

FARRAH
Good-bye and thank you.

KAREEM
Have a safe journey. Here. Take two hundred dollars. And my phone number.

Kareem flashes his cell phone and a broad smile.

KAREEM
And if something happens in Mexico call your husband. I know you don’t want to disturb him but if he is a man--

FARRAH
--He will help me.

INT. ARRIVALS IN MEXICO CITY – DAY

ZAPATAS (30s) holds a sign that says “Farrah.” Farrah walks over to him.

FARRAH
I am Farrah.

ZAPATAS
Come. I am Zapatas. Jawad is my friend.

Zapatas leads her to a Mercedes. He and Farrah sit in the back. The driver speeds off.

INT. ZAPATAS’ MERCEDES – DAY

They drive through the streets of Mexico City. Zapatas speaks to Farrah in English.

ZAPATAS
I have a special way for you to get to America. Do you understand?

FARRAH
Yes.

ZAPATAS
Most of the people pile like sardines in the back of a truck or swim the Rio Grande that’s not so grande anymore. You, you will fly into America.

FARRAH
In a plane?

ZAPATAS
You must be brave. You will hold on to a parachute man and float down into America and live there forever. You know what forever means?

FARRAH
Forever.

ZAPATAS
You will never have to go back to the trouble again. America keeps the wars out. Are you happy now?

FARRAH
Could I get caught?

ZAPATAS
We fly over the border, nice and low, any time we want. They can’t find our little plane.

EXT. A RUNWAY IN THE MEXICAN COUNTRYSIDE – AFTERNOON

MULES (20s), men who smuggle drugs on their bodies, load a small plane with parachutes and with vests containing bundles of cocaine. Zapatas supervises. A PILOT (40s) stands nearby.

ZAPATAS
(Sharply)
Hurry up. You have to reach the drop zone before dark.

PILOT
How many passengers?

ZAPATAS
One woman. Make sure you hide the drugs until it’s time.

PILOT
Amilcar and two mules?

ZAPATAS
Yes.

Farrah walks from a small tin building over to the plane.

ZAPATAS
Hasta la vista.

Farrah sees the two mules ready to board the plane.

FARRAH
They are refugees too?

ZAPATAS
Yes. You will jump with Amilcar. He jumps many, many times. You are safe.

Farrah, AMILCAR (20s) and the Mules board the plane. The prop blades spin. The plane taxis down the runway and becomes airborne.

INT. THE PLANE – DUSK

Farrah looks out at the darkening landscape below. The huge deep-orange sun sinks over the western horizon.

PILOT (V.O.)
We are approaching the drop zone. Twenty miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. From there you can travel to your final destination. Do you have relatives in America? Friends?

FARRAH
My husband is in Washington D.C.

PILOT (V.O.)
Good. A big city. You will stay lost there. Prepare to jump.

The two mules pull out the cocaine belts and strap them on. Then they put on their parachutes. Amilcar waves Farrah closer.

PILOT (V.O.)
He speaks no English. He will strap you into the harness and you will jump together. Do not be afraid. He knows how to jump.

The plane door opens and the two mules jump. Amilcar and Farrah tumble out of the plane and plummet to earth. Their parachute opens and they float to the desert floor.

EXT. THE NEW MEXICO DESERT – EVENING

Jagged rocks. Limp grasses. Cacti pointing in every direction. Amilcar gathers in the parachute and hides it behind some rocks.

AMILCAR
Vamos.

Amilcar waves Farrah on and she follows. The desert turns dark and cold. They walk a trail toward Las Cruces. Suddenly, headlights from two Land Rovers pierce the night. Border patrol AGENT DUFFY (40s) and AGENT VELEZ (20s) point their guns at Amilcar and Farrah.

AGENT DUFFY
Hands up.

Amilcar and Farrah put their hands up. The agents walk over and handcuff both of them. They pat them down.

AGENT VELEZ
(in Spanish)
Do you have any drugs?

AMILCAR
No drugs, Senor.

AGENT VELEZ
Why have you come to America?

AMILCAR
To work.

AGENT VELEZ
(to Farrah in Spanish)
You?

AMILCAR
(in Spanish)
She no speak Spanish. Maybe English.

AGENT VELEZ
(to Agent One)
He says she speaks English. No Spanish.

AGENT DUFFY
What the hell is she?

AGENT VELEZ
(To Farrah)
What country are you from?

Farrah cowers, not lifting her head.
FARRAH
I am an Iraqi Christian and I want asylum.

AGENT VELEZ
(whispers to Agent Duffy)
You thinking what I’m thinking?

AGENT DUFFY
Terrorist?

AGENT VELEZ
This could be a lot more serious than a drug bust.

AGENT DUFFY
(to Farrah)
Do you have a passport? Papers?

FARRAH
Yes. I am no terrorist.

Farrah shows her fake passport.

AGENT DUFFY
Farrah Nadhir.

AGENT VELEZ
Arab.

FARRAH
No Chaldean.

AGENT DUFFY
What the hell is that? This is a pretty good fake.

AGENT VELEZ
Got her this far.

AGENT DUFFY
Damn good. Look at the hologram. We’ll call it in.

The agents walk Amilcar and Farrah back to one of their trucks. One of the mules is handcuffed inside a truck.

AGENT VELEZ
Do you know this man?

AMILCAR
No.

AGENT VELEZ
(to the mule)
Do you know him?

MULE
No.

AGENT DUFFY
Everyone’s going back to headquarters.

INT. THE BORDER PATROL STATION - NIGHT

Farrah sits in a stark interrogation room. Agent Duffy
sits across the table from her.

AGENT DUFFY
You were traveling with a Mexican man named Amilcar. When did you meet him?

FARRAH
Today.

AGENT DUFFY
How did you get to America?

FARRAH
I fly a plane.

AGENT ONE
How did you get to Mexico?

FARRAH
I fly a plane.

AGENT DUFFY
Who sent you to America?

FARRAH
I wanted to escape the war in Iraq.

AGENT DUFFY
Women over there don’t mind blowing themselves up. Guess the seventy-two virgins wouldn’t do you much good?

FARRAH
I love America.

AGENT DUFFY
The FBI wants to ask you questions. You are a person of interest. Do you understand?

FARAH
I can go back to Mexico.

AGENT ONE
Maybe. The FBI will be here in the morning.

INT. THE BORDER PATROL STATION – DAY

Agent Velez opens the door to the holding cell where Farrah sleeps.

AGENT VELEZ
Rise and shine, dear. You have a visitor who is very anxious to talk to you. Step right this way and after we’ll feed you breakfast.

Agent Velez handcuffs Farrah and escorts her to the interrogation room. FBI AGENT DAVIS (40s), in a business suit, with a paunch and a Texas accent sits at a table.

AGENT DAVIS
Good morning. I’m Agent Davis, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FARRAH
Good morning.

AGENT DAVIS
Why did you come to The United States?

FARRAH
I was afraid for my life.

AGENT DAVIS
Do you have family in America?

FARRAH
No. My son…

Farrah bites her lip and turns her head away. Her eyes tear and turn red.

AGENT DAVIS
I’m sorry. Did you travel with anyone else?

FARRAH
No. And my mother…

Farrah puts her head in her hands. Agent Davis pulls out a tissue and gives it to Farrah.

AGENT DAVIS
Who cut your cheek?

FARRAH
Jihadists.

AGENT DAVIS
Border Patrol said you paid money to come to America. Must have cost a few thousand. Sounds like you were well off in Iraq.

FARRAH
Well off?

AGENT DAVIS
Rich.

FARRAH
Better than most. My father had an import business—nuts, apricots, peaches, spices.

AGENT DAVIS
Sounds like you ended up with a coyote. It’s a sneaky animal, like a fox. A coyote takes people from Mexico to America illegally. So you are not allowed to stay in this country. Do you understand?

FARRAH
Yes. I will go.

AGENT DAVIS
You had fake papers. Real good ones. Where were you going to go?

FARRAH
Maybe to Detroit. There are Chaldeans there.

AGENT DAVIS
Who are they?

FARRAH
The ancient people of Iraq.

AGENT DAVIS
Do you blame America for what happened to your son and mother?

FARRAH
I love America. Jihadist dogs killed my son and mother.

FBI AGENT DAVIS
Your date of birth is September 28th, 1982?

Farrah is stunned.

FARRAH
How do you know?

AGENT DAVIS
You had a visa issued last May. You flew to Washington to see your husband. Why did you say you had no one here?

FARRAH
(panic-stricken)
Please, I did not want him to get pushed out of America. He is a doctor at George Washington University Hospital.

AGENT DAVIS
We need all the facts first. The truth.

FARRAH
(nervously, plaintively)
My visa ended and I had to go back to Iraq. It is a broken country. Terror is everywhere. Because I am a Christian, if I stayed I’d be killed.

AGENT DAVIS
If Homeland Security clears you—Iraqis are on the watch list for terrorists—then an immigration judge will decide. Your husband’s here on a work visa?

FARRAH
Yes. Thanks to God that he was here before the tragedy.

AGENT DAVIS
The World Trade Center attack.

FARRAH
He wants to go back, but he doesn’t know.

AGENT DAVIS
How bad it is?

FARRAH
Yes. And about our son. Please tell him nothing.

AGENT DAVIS
Do you want to contact your husband?

FARRAH
Can I telephone him?

AGENT DAVIS
I’ll have to monitor the conversation.

FARRAH
Monitor?

AGENT DAVIS
Listen to what you say. Speak English only.

Farrah nods. Agent Davis walks out of the room and comes back with a phone. He plugs it into a wall jack. Farrah dials.

FARRAH
Is Dr. George Nadhir there?

Farrah panics and hangs up the phone.

AGENT DAVIS
What’s wrong?

FARRAH
I can’t. I can’t talk to him. My son…what will happen to me?

AGENT DAVIS
If your background check is clean you could apply for political asylum and be held at a detention center until a determination is made.

FARRAH
You will leave my husband alone?

AGENT DAVIS
Don’t know what will turn up. You’ll stay here until Homeland Security figures out what to do with you.

FARRAH
Please help me.

AGENT DAVIS
I’d love to but this is a country of laws.

INT. BORDER PATROL STATION – DAY

Farrah talks to a Border Patrol OFFICER SCHMIDT (60s) through the jail bars. He has a heavy Texas accent.

OFFICER SCHMIDT
You’ve been cleared by Homeland Security. Heard about your family. I’m sorry.

FARRAH
I can stay in America?

OFFICER SCHMIDT
No.

FARRAH
What do I have to do?

OFFICER SCHMIDT
Try for asylum or remove yourself from the country. Their bullshit terminology. Like you’re a stain. My advice—-

FARRAH
--Yes?

The officer looks around to make sure everyone is out of earshot and whispers.

OFFICER SCHMIDT
Go back to Juarez and try again. Same shit went on in Vietnam. There’s people who get rich off these wars. Your family gets killed and they grill you about being a terrorist? Believe me, Americans aren’t like America.

FARRAH
Can you help me?

OFFICER SCHMIDT
Can’t put my job on the line. Gooks all over the country—and they won’t let an Iraqi in? These damned politicians are clueless.

FARRAH
What can I do?

OFFICER SCHMIDT
Grainy pictures of WMD wagons. Looked like the circus came to town. I knew Powell threw the UN a curveball.

FARRAH
You don’t like what America did?

OFFICER SCHMIDT
Shit. Excuse the language. That’s what we got for billions of dollars?

FARRAH
Will you help me?

OFFICER SCHMIDT
I will take you back to the border and you try again. Cross over ten miles west of Juarez between two and three in the morning on Tuesday. We’ll have other business to attend to.

FARRAH
Thank you.

EXT. JUAREZ, MEXICO – DAY

A busy street where coyotes look for immigrants who want to cross the border. A COYOTE (40s) approaches Farrah.

COYOTE
Buenos Dias, Senorita.

Farrah doesn’t respond. Coyote switches to English.

COYOTE
Good morning, Miss. Are you looking to cross the border? I know a very safe way and I never fail.

FARRAH
Yes.

COYOTE
Only three hundred dollars.

FARRAH
I have only one hundred and twenty dollars.

COYOTE
Why would you want to be in America all alone?

FARRAH
My husband is there.

COYOTE
Are you Brazilian?

FARRAH
Iraqi.

The Coyote is taken aback.

COYOTE
I have helped thousands of people from all over the world. But no Iraqis. Where is your husband waiting for you?

FARRAH
He’s a doctor in Washington D.C.

A devious smile lights up The Coyote’s face.

COYOTE
The home of the Casa Blanca. The White House.

FARRAH
I’ve been there.

COYOTE
One hundred and twenty is good.

FARRAH
How do I know you won’t run away with my money?

COYOTE
You pay me when we get to America. Come. We all meet at a house before we make the crossing.

FARRAH
The Border Patrol told me to cross at ten miles west of Juarez.

COYOTE
They are not to be trusted.

INT. THE COYOTE’S HOUSE – DAY

The Coyote leads Farrah into a room and bars the door.

COYOTE
I am sorry, Senora, but I will need two thousand dollars because the way I take you is guaranteed to work.

FARRAH
I don’t have two thousand dollars.

COYOTE
Call your husband.

FARRAH
I’ll go another way.

COYOTE
No. In the time I wasted on you I could have made ten more sales. Two thousand dollars or you work for the money.

Farrah starts for the door. The Coyote steps in front of her.

COYOTE
I want my money. Tell your husband to wire the money or you can service men until you earn it.

FARRAH
I am not a servant.

COYOTE
Sex. You can give sex. A beauty like you can make money fast.

Farrah cowers.

The Coyote hands his cell phone to Farrah and pulls a slip of paper out of his pocket.

COYOTE
Here is the bank and the account number. Have it there today and you’ll be in America tonight.

The Coyote hands Farrah the paper.

COYOTE
Push zero and zero and one first.

Farrah dials the hospital.

FARRAH
Is Doctor George Nadhir there?

Farrah waits.

FARRAH
George, it’s Farrah.
(pause)
Yes, I’m okay. We had to leave Iraq.
(pause)
In Mexico. Abdul helped us.
(pause)
Yes, he’s fine. We’re coming to see you but we need money to cross the border. Two thousand dollars for someone to help us.
(pause)
I’ll tell you everything when we get there.
(pause)
(MORE)

FARRAH (CONT’D)
No. She wouldn’t leave. Just Anthony and me.
(pause)
Send the money to Banamex account number 163745662.
(pause)
(MORE)

FARRAH (CONT’D)
No, you can’t reach me. We’ll see you soon. I’ll call when we get to America.
(pause)
Not now. We’re in a stranger’s house. Anthony is in the bathroom. Please send the money quickly. I have to go.
(pause)
Good-bye. I love you too.

Farrah hands The Coyote the cell phone. He saves George’s number and puts it back in his pocket.

FARRAH
You will have the money soon.

COYOTE
Are you hungry?

FARRAH
Yes.

COYOTE
Give me fifty dollars and I will get you food.

FARRAH
Fifty dollars?

COYOTE
You are not so hungry yet.

FARRAH
You are a thief.

COYOTE
You must not talk like this to a man who will take you to freedom.

FARRAH
Why should I believe you?

COYOTE
I am not a cruel man but I have five children to feed. I did not ask for your last peso. I will come back when it is dark and we will go.

Farrah hands over fifty dollars.

COYOTE
A boy will bring you food and drink. Call your husband when you get to Las Cruces.

INT. THE COYOTE’S HOUSE – EVENING

Farrah hears the sound of violence and crying through the walls. The Coyote is screaming at someone. The sound of banging is heard and then it is quiet.

The Coyote opens the door to the room where Farrah is. He straightens out his clothes.

COYOTE
I am sorry for the noise. They lied to me so now they will suffer. Let’s go.

FARRAH
Am I the only one crossing?

COYOTE
You are one of ten. The border patrol will be very un-vigilant tonight. They are my friends. Once you are inside America my job is finished.

FARRAH
But what if I get lost?

COYOTE
Then I will see you here next week.

The Coyote flashes a toothy grin.

COYOTE
No, Senora, I will tell you where to go. Then you get a bus to Washington. You tell President Bush “Don’t let anyone cross.” So I can continue to feed my children.

EXT. THE NEW MEXICO DESERT – NIGHT

The group is huddled around The Coyote. The Coyote speaks first in Spanish and then in English.

COYOTE
This is America. It doesn’t look so good yet but you will see. Do you see that star? Just follow it. Keep walking. Not together. Many little
shadows. By morning you will be near Las Cruces. And I hope to never see you again. Go.

The Coyote walks away. Farrah and the other immigrants walk into the night.

INT. A COFFEE SHOP IN LAS CRUCES- DAY

Farrah calls George on a pay phone.

FARRAH
Dr. Nadhir, please. This is his wife.
(pause)
George, it’s Farrah. We are in America.
(MORE)

FARRAH (CONT’D)
(pause)
He’s fine. It was hard to cross the border, but we are in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
(pause)
Are you allowed to leave so fast?
(pause)
Tonight?
(pause)

I, er, we are near the bus station. There’s a Holiday Inn and Taco Bell here. We will hide near the Taco Bell and when we see you we will come out.
(pause)
No. No airline tickets. I have no papers. They don’t check buses. We’ll take a bus.
(pause)
I love you too.

Farrah hangs up the phone. She closes her eyes and sighs deeply.

EXT. ACROSS FROM TACO BELL – LATE NIGHT

Farrah hides behind some bushes on the side of a building. She sees George get out of a car and enter the Taco Bell. A tear glistens on her cheek. She hesitates, then haltingly makes her way over.

INT. TACO BELL – NIGHT

Farrah walks in and stops. George doesn’t see her yet. She closes her eyes, gathers herself and walks over to where he’s sitting.

FARRAH
George.

Farrah is paralyzed with fear and exhaustion. George runs over and hugs and kisses her.

GEORGE
Where’s Anthony?

Farrah faints. George catches her and sits her down on a bench.

GEORGE
Farrah, Farrah.

Farah opens her eyes. Tears roll down her cheeks. She can’t bear to look at George.
FARRAH
He’s gone. He was killed.

George is stunned. He shakes his head over and over in disbelief.

GEORGE
How? What happened?

FARRAH
American soldiers.

GEORGE
My son. My little boy. How could it happen?

FARRAH
It was terrible. I tried--

GEORGE
--I should have come home. I should never—

FARRAH
--You didn’t know. It’s terrible in Mosul.

GEORGE
But you knew.

FARRAH
That’s why we left. But I never…

GEORGE
My dear, dear Anthony.
FARRAH
Why couldn’t it have been me?

Farrah sobs uncontrollably.

FARRAH
Why couldn’t it have been me?

Suddenly Farrah looks around the room--fear and paranoia.

FARRAH
They’ll find me.

GEORGE
Who?

FARRAH
They’ll take me away.

GEORGE
Farrah. I love you. Whatever happened I love you. Why did they shoot him? How--

FARRAH
--I’m not safe here. I’ll tell you everything. Please. They’ll send me back.

GEORGE
A hotel. I’ll find a hotel.

George helps Farrah up. Her body is limp with sadness.

INT. THE RENTAL CAR – NIGHT

George casts worried looks at Farrah. She sits expressionless.

GEORGE
You are safe now. No one is going to hurt you. Why would they kill a young boy?

FARRAH
Everyone is killing everyone. Americans, jihadists, Al Qaida, Sunnis, Shiites, people you thought were friends-- everyone.

Farrah covers her face with her hands and leans on the dashboard. Tears trickle down George’s face. He is too distracted to drive. He pulls off to the side of the road.

FARRAH
(a paranoid glance)
Not here. They’ll see us.

George gathers himself and tears out. They pull into a motel. George leans over and holds Farrah’s hand.

GEORGE
Stay right here. You okay? I’ll get a room.

Farrah nods slightly and slides low in her seat. Her eyes dart side-to-side. She rubs her cheek.

INT. THE HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT

George closes the front door behind him and pulls the drapes shut. He walks Farrah over to the side of the bed and hugs her.

FARRAH
I didn’t want you to change.

GEORGE
Change what?

FARRAH
Your hope.

GEORGE
Our future together was my hope. A happy family. That’s all.

FARRAH
They would have killed you too.

GEORGE
Who?

FARRAH
Evil Muslims. They killed mother and took our house.

GEORGE
Anthony, my son…

George breaks down.

GEORGE
Why would they kill a young boy?

FARRAH
The Americans thought he had a bomb.

GEORGE
A six year old?

FARRAH
He ran towards them. We were alone. We saw the Americans and I thought we were finally safe.

George slams his fist on the night table and sweeps the lamp off. It smashes on the floor.

GEORGE
This is their Iraqi Freedom?

They sit in silence for a while. Farrah rocks back and forth.

GEORGE
I brought you some nice pajamas.

George gets up and opens his suitcase. He shields Farrah from the toys inside. He gets the pajamas.
GEORGE
Here. Take a bath. I’ll stay right here.
FARRAH
(weakly)
Thank you.

Farrah goes into the bathroom to bathe and change. She leaves the door open a little. George hides the toys he bought for Anthony under the bed. There is a box of Legos among them. He gets under the blankets. Farrah climbs into bed. George turns out the light.

GEORGE
Just one more question. I’m sorry.
FARRAH
What?

GEORGE
Did you bury him in a nice place? A place we can visit some day?

FARRAH
(as if in a trance)
Under a beautiful palm tree. He looked like an angel sleeping. I put a cross over him.

Farrrah tears up. She takes the bed sheet and wipes her face.

FARRAH
Why couldn’t we both have died? What happens to people who kill themselves? Hell?

GEORGE
Don’t talk like that.

FARRAH
What if Anthony’s in heaven and I went to hell--I kept asking myself.

GEORGE
I love you. I need you. Please, Farrah.

FARRAH
I’m so tired.

George hears only the sound of Farrah breathing.

INT. BUS STATION – DAY

Farrah sits with George, waiting. She jumps up, panic-stricken.
FARRAH
Take the plane back and I will meet you.

GEORGE
Why?

FARRAH
They know about me.

GEORGE
I’m not leaving you.

EXT. A BUS – DAY

A shot of a bus rolling across the American plains.

INT. A RESTAURANT IN THE MEMPHIS BUS DEPOT – DAY

Farrah and George eat at a table, waiting to transfer to a bus to Washington, D.C. FBI AGENT SHAW (50s) walks up and shows his badge.

AGENT SHAW
Please come with me.

GEORGE
We’ve done nothing wrong.

AGENT SHAW
Your wife has entered the country illegally and you may be charged with aiding her.

GEORGE
I am a doctor in Washington, D.C. I graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine and am an inter—-

AGENT SHAW
--And you flew to Albuquerque, drove a rental car to Las Cruces and used your credit card to purchase bus tickets.

GEORGE
I have friends in high places in Washington and I suggest you stop harassing us.

AGENT SHAW
Hands behind your backs.

GEORGE
You are insulting my wife and me.

AGENT SHAW
Let’s not make a scene—your choice.

Farrah and George are cuffed and led out of the restaurant.

GEORGE
You cannot treat us like dogs.

FARRAH
(In Arabic)
Don’t fight.

AGENT SHAW
No talking to each other. Not in English or in any other language.

GEORGE
I will embarrass all of America in the newspapers, on the TV and in the courts. The Chaldean community will fight with me.

AGENT SHAW
I’ve got nothing against you or any Cauldron community. I hope you get to stay, but citizenship is a privilege.

FARRAH
You ruined our homeland. We long for the days of Saddam.

AGENT SHAW
That’ll get you real far in this country.

GEORGE
We’ll see.

Farrah and George get in a car and are driven off.

INT. IMMIGRATION HEARING ROOM IN VIRGINIA – ONE MONTH
LATER - DAY

Farrah sits next to EMMANUEL MERAM (50s), an American-Chaldean lawyer. George is in attendance. An ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE (60s) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services presides.

EMMANUEL
Your Honor, my client would like to say something before your verdict.

The judge nods toward Farrah.

JUDGE
Mrs. Nadhir.

FARRAH
I only ask for mercy. The Bible says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels.” Please, have mercy on a stranger.

JUDGE
Farrah Nadhir, your petition for a visa has been denied. You are ordered to remove yourself from the United States within sixty days.

EMMANUEL
Your Honor, I am filing an immediate appeal. Only last spring she was granted a visa. This is how you treat a woman who has lost a mother and a son to the ravages of America’s crusade on her country.

JUDGE.
Counselor, I do not make the laws. I only apply them to the cases that come before me.

EMMANUEL
You can wash your hands like Pontius Pilate but they remain filthy.

JUDGE
I’m warning you…

The Judge stares at Emmanuel and waits for dead silence in the courtroom.

JUDGE
If your client posts bond and agrees to wear an electronic tracking device she will be allowed to leave the detention center and reside with her husband until her appeal is exhausted.

EMMANUEL
This is homeland security-- sending an innocent back to certain death?

JUDGE
I sympathize with her plight, but the law—

EMMANUEL
(in a drone)
--Is the law. You cannot set a precedent. Precious America’s safety fetish. Code red, code orange, code yellow. Disclaimer, disclaimer. All the bullshit.

JUDGE
(raises his voice)
Counselor, before we get into contempt areas. Petition denied.

The judge bangs his gavel.

INT. THE HALL OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM - DAY

GEORGE
Now what do we do?

EMMANUEL
It’s not over. Farrah can live with you while we appeal.

FARRAH
I’ll stay at the detention center.
GEORGE
Did I do something… the electronic leash?

FARRAH
No.

Farrah gives Emmanuel a knowing glance.

EMMANUEL
She’s fighting for all of us.

GEORGE
What do you mean?

EMMANUEL
They want us to just go away. There are no martyrs. There are no refugees. There are no problems a few lies to the world can’t fix. She’ll be exhibit one.

GEORGE
Farrah?

FARRAH
Yes.

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE – DAY

People, mostly Iraqi Americans, march with signs. George and Emmanuel are in the crowd.

CROWD
(chanting)
Freedom for Farrah,
Freedom from fear,
You ruined our homeland.
We want to stay here.

Posters read: “You won but we lost everything.” Four-thousand Americans, forty-thousand Iraqis—Do the Math.” “Remember the Christian martyrs.” “America got it OIL wrong.” A television REPORTER (20s), interviews George. Emmanuel stands next to him.

REPORTER
Iraqi Americans have come from as far away as San Diego and Detroit to protest the detention and scheduled deportation of Farrah Nadhir. This is Farrah’s husband, George, a doctor at George Washington University Hospital.
Tell us where your wife is now.

GEORGE
In a detention center at the Arlington County jail.

REPORTER
Being held because she entered the country illegally?

GEORGE
Yes. Her mother and son were killed in the war. She fears for her life.

EMMANUEL
Why is there no political asylum for this poor woman?

REPORTER
That’s why you have this great show of support?

The camera pans the crowd.

EMMANUEL
They are afraid that if they let one Iraqi stay the floodgates will open. Many Iraqi refugees used to have good businesses and jobs. Now they are living in the slums of Syria and Jordan.

REPORTER
So what’s next for your wife?

GEORGE
We have filed an appeal. Let Iraqis come to America. Don’t pretend everything is better since America came to Iraq. That is a lie.

REPORTER
When we see a demonstration like this and listen to the words of Iraqis torn by war we begin to appreciate the peace and freedom we have in this country. For ABC 7 News, I’m Susan Fredricksen. Back to you Lloyd.

EXT. U.S. CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS OFFICE – DAY

Protesters march outside the court. George, Farrah and the Emmanuel walk into the court.

INT. USCIS ADMINISTRATION APPEALS OFFICE – DAY

A USCIS LAWYER (60s) approaches George, Farrah and Emmanuel in the hall.

USCIS LAWYER
Please come with me for a moment.

The USIC Lawyer leads them into an anteroom.

USCIS LAWYER
Please sit down. The protests--brilliant tactic, Counselor Meram.

EMMANUEL
We’ll see.

USCIS LAWYER
The Nadhirs can no longer stay in the country. That will be the judge’s decision.

EMMANUEL
So why are we talking?
USCIS LAWYER
I’ve been directed to offer you a settlement.

EMMANUEL
By whom?

USCIS LAWYER
My office.

EMMANUEL
That’s not a person.

USCIS LAWYER
And I’m not Sherlock Holmes.

EMMANUEL
Go ahead.

USCIS LAWYER
We’ve made arrangements with officials from the Netherlands to let The Nadhirs live and work there and eventually become citizens. The path will be very easy. Of course all their travel expenses, legal fees, etc. will be paid for. Well?

EMMANUEL
I can’t ask them to fight anymore. Farrah? George?

USCIS LAWYER
If your clients decide to accept the offer they and you must sign an agreement to not disclose the terms. The court will deny their petition and Mr. and Mrs. Nadhir will have decided that the Netherlands is a great place to live and raise a family. Many people speak English there. Well?

EMMANUEL
You’ve done enough. Others will take up the fight.

FARRAH
I’m so tired.

EMMANUEL
The Netherlands is a great country. They’ll be happy to have a doctor with George’s capabilities.

GEORGE
And our American Dream is over.

EMMANUEL
Draft the papers.

The USCIS lawyer shakes George’s and Farrah’s hands.

USCIS LAWYER
Best of luck to both of you.

He pulls Emmanuel aside.

USCIS LAWYER
You know if they hadn’t raised such a ruckus--

EMMANUEL
--They know.

INT. THE WASHINGTON GRAND HYATT - DAY

An FBI AGENT (20s) stands his shift in the hotel hallway, ordered to make sure George and Farrah do not disappear before they are deported.

Farrah takes a bath.

George opens the door and sees the FBI Agent.

GEORGE
(whispers)
Would you ask the house to get us breakfast? I’d call but I want to surprise my wife.

FBI AGENT
(points to a phone)
There’s the house phone. By the elevator.

George hands the FBI Agent the menu.

GEORGE
I’ve circled what we want. French toast, sausage—oh yes, and a bottle of their best champagne.

FBI AGENT
You’re celebrating—

GEORGE
--The end of a grueling struggle. We lost.

FBI AGENT
I know.

GEORGE
Bet you guys were videotaping all my friends outside the White House.

FBI AGENT
Little paranoid?

GEORGE
You are.

INT. A ROOM AT THE HYATT-DAY

George sits on the bed wearing a bathrobe and nothing else. Farrah has just finished her make-up. She walks out of the bathroom in her bathrobe. There’s a knock on the door. It’s a WAITER with breakfast.

GEORGE
Right there is fine.

George tips the Waiter and pulls the cart over to the bed.

FARRAH
What’s this?

GEORGE
A romantic breakfast in bed. Their best champagne. Jump in and I’ll serve.

George places the tray in front of Farrah, who has propped herself up with pillows. He leans over and kisses her on the cheek.

FARRAH
This is wonderful.

GEORGE
On the Washington gravy train. You don’t know how I’ve ached for you.

Farrah places her hand on her heart.

FARRAH
Here?

Farrah nods toward the bulge under George’s robe.

FARRAH
Or there?

GEORGE
You look more beautiful than ever.

FARRAH
(laughs)
This scar.

GEORGE
To me.

FARRAH
I know you’ve had it hard—with a man’s urges.

GEORGE
I know how to put him in his place.

FARRAH
Cold shower?

GEORGE
Let’s not get too clinical. Champagne?

FARRAH
George.

GEORGE
Yes.

FARRAH
I was raped.

George drops the champagne bottle he was about to open. The cork pops and the champagne spills on the floor. George picks up the bottle and places it carefully on the night table.

FARRAH
I’m sorry.

GEORGE
Who--why didn’t you tell me?

FARRAH
With Anthony, your residency ruined, you had enough--

GEORGE
--And I thought—-

FARRAH
I’m sorry.

GEORGE
If I ever find him—-
FARRAH
--It’s over. Past.

Farrah puts a pillow over her head for a moment and slowly takes it away.

FARRAH
You’ll have to help me through. Do you still love me?

GEORGE
Why didn’t you tell me? Of course I love you. It’s just…

Farrah reaches her arms out. George takes her tray out of the way and they hug each other for a long time.

FARRAH
We’ll have a family again.

GEORGE
We are a family now. Your French toast is getting cold.

FARRAH
French toast?

GEORGE
I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. Sometimes I’m just a--the Americans have a word for it—-a medical geek. Renal failure, spots on your lungs—I’m good at that but…

FARRAH
I love you just the way you are.

GEORGE
After someone has suffered a psychological or physical trauma we’re supposed to restore a sense of normalcy.

George starts tearing.

FARRAH
The French toast? George.

GEORGE
Yes.

FARRAH
What’s the matter?

GEORGE
I’m the stupidest doctor I know. All this is my fault.

FARRAH
No it’s not.

GEORGE
I believed what Bush and his Rasputin said.

FARRAH
Rasputin?

GEORGE
That war profiteer and fraud Dick Cheney. A new Iraq--my dream—your nightmare. I’m so sorry.

SUPER – Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2008

EXT. A BRIDGE OVER A CANAL - DAY

It’s spring. Tulips. Colors. Farrah and George hold hands and look down into the water. George has KRISTEL (2), their daughter, on his shoulders.

FARRAH
Life is so wonderful here.

GEORGE
Once the winter leaves. We are very lucky. But maybe we deserve this.

FARRAH
Why?

GEORGE
Because you suffered so much.

FARRAH
And gave you Kristel.

GEORGE
(looks up at Kristel)
You are a miracle baby.

George leans over the railing with Kristel still on his shoulders.

GEORGE
See the water? Who is that in the water?

KRISTEL
Kristel.

FARRAH
Don’t lean her over so far.

GEORGE
I’d never let her fall. Sometimes I dream of that reed boat Abdul and I made. Floating down the river. You know, this canal is connected to the Tigris.

FARRAH
The Tigris is a muddy river. You can’t see your reflection.

GEORGE
You could sail all the way from here to there without ever touching land.

FARRAH
Never.

GEORGE
Maybe someday.

FARRAH
Never.

GEORGE
Our image in the water--so serene.

FARRAH
So fragile.

GEORGE
What if we suddenly saw Anthony’s face and he was surrounded by angels? Kristel, you had a brother.

FARRAH
Shhh, you’ll just confuse her.

GEORGE
Let’s have a boy.

FARRAH
Let’s all look into the water and smile. Kristel, put on your happiest face.

George, Farrah and Kristel look at their smiling faces in the water. George takes an Iraqi coin out of his pocket and throws it at the reflection.

FARRAH
What did you do that for?

GEORGE
Had that lucky dinar since I was seven. Useless.

FARRAH
Ruined our smiles.

GEORGE
There, they’re back again. Where’s Rembrandt to paint us? Smile Kristel.

KRISTEL
I want ice cream, Mommy.

GEORGE
One scoop.

FARRAH
The second one never tastes as good anyway.

GEORGE
How much time has to pass before another tastes as good as the first? Kristel, do you want one or two scoops?

KRISTEL
Three.

George and Farrah laugh.

FARRAH
Not worth the stomach ache. But to live in the present like a little child…

Farrah, George and Kristel walk across the bridge and down the street.

FARRAH
I’ll have one scoop of Dutch chocolate.

GEORGE
And I’ll have pralines and cream. What kind of ice cream do you want Kristel?

KRISTEL
Strawberry. Three scoops, Daddy.

George and Farrah laugh. Their images get smaller as they walk along the side of the canal toward the ice cream shop.

FADE OUT

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