A Thousand Acres (1997) Script

The land my father owned... A thousand acres, paid for, no encumbrances...

Was as flat and fertile, black and exposed as any piece of land... on the face of the earth.

Covered by a beautiful dome sky, it seemed to me that when I was a child, it was the center of the universe.

I was eight when I first saw the farm and the world this way.

I remember Sunday afternoons... and the long, leisurely drives, my sister Rose, who I adored, sitting against me in the backseat, my mother and father and baby sister, Caroline, in the front.

Their voices were unhurried and self-confident, and our lives seemed secure and good.

The next year, my mother died.

Her name was Marion...

"May," Daddy called her.

She died before she could confer on us that my father was only a man... like any other, with habits and quirks of ever-shifting moods, of good judgment and bad.

Caroline moved to Des Moines after school.

Rose and I had lived on this land all of our lives.

We never imagined living anywhere else.

There were three houses on our farm.

My father lived alone in the biggest one...

The house where he was born and where we all grew up.

Rose lived directly across the road... with her husband Pete and their two girls.

My house was a quarter of a mile up the road...

A ten-minute walk every morning... to cook breakfast for my father.

Daddy?

Daddy?

Daddy! What are you doing out here?

It's after 6:00, Daddy. You weren't in for breakfast.

Yep.

Couldn't keep that sister of yours off these grates when she was small.

No matter how much we whipped her, she was always pokin' things through the holes.

I remember.

All this land was underwater... Every last bit of it...

The first time my great-grandfather came out here, Ginny.

Took him 25 years to lay the tile... and dig the drainage wells.

No machines. He did it all by hand.

No such thing as luck. "They made their own."

They made their own.

Your mother loved every acre of it, Ginny.

Look.

That must be Harold out there on his new tractor.

No fool like an old fool.

So when's Harold's little party? Noon, and it's not going to be so little.

Probably have to bring our own liquor.

You're gonna be there, aren't you? I believe I will.

Matter of fact, I'm gonna have a little surprise for you and your sisters.

We haven't much time.

Really? Mmm.

You'd better shower.

Smells good. I'm going ahead with Ginny.

Hi, honey. Hey.

Oop. Missed one there.

Is it that ugly?

Didn't mean it like that.

I'll take the girls, okay? Okay.

Hey, Rose. Hi.

The girls are coming with Pete.

Tabouli. Hmph.

What did you make? Swiss steak, for the prodigal son.

You look pretty. Ohh!

Nothing like a scandal to make me feel better. What's more surprising...

Jess showing up out of the blue or Harold throwing a party for him?

Isn't the party for his tractor?

Hey, Harold. What you got there?

It's a 9350, top of the line.

Built by Steiger, so you know it's reliable.

Case International bought 'em out, and they turned that ugly green into this nice red.

Got a tape player up there, so I can listen to Bob Wills while I'm plowin'.

Go on, fellas. Take a look. Come on.

You'll be dead and buried by the time you get this tractor paid off.

Hi. Hey, there.

Hon, look at that.

Bet it's nice to be home again, ain't it, Jess?

He's got no plans of goin' back, neither.

Tryin' to talk me into plowin' them ten acres of my beans so he can try that...

What do you call that? Organic farming. Organic farming.

Jess Clark returned home after leaving, without a word at the age of 17.

His father, Harold, put on a big welcome for him.

I think most people turned up out of curiosity, but nobody asked him why he'd come back or even where he'd been.

What is this, Gin? I was just glad to see him.

Oh! I bet that's Marlene's ambrosia.

She likes... Oh, wow. What do we have here?

Jess! It's the Cook girls.

Hey, it's the pest. You got it.

So, where's little Caroline? "Little" Caroline?

Do you know, Jess, she's a lawyer now, down in Des Moines.

She's gonna get married this fall to another lawyer. Caroline? Married?

She's not a baby. According to Daddy, it's almost too late to breed her.

You know, sows and heifers and empty chambers.

It's a whole theoretical system.

Larry's still like that, huh? Well, shouldn't think something's changed just 'cause you haven't seen it for 13 years.

I guess you remember that Rose always says what she thinks.

And I remember you used to like your mom's Swiss steak.

I haven't eaten meat in seven years.

Oh, and you've come back? Hey, Rose!

Oh, look. It's Eileen Dahl, Ginny. I should go say hello.

You'll starve to death around here.

Let's see.

I guess I won't.

Watch your step, Daddy. Yeah.

Hey, young fella. Oh.

Here's Caroline now.

And my husband, Ty. You remember him.

Hello, Ginny. Hi.

How you doin', Jess? Good to see you, Ty.

You must be Jess. I'm Caroline Cook. Yes, I know.

You probably don't remember me. Yeah, I do.

Well, it's nice to see you again.

Are you staying the night? Mmm. At Daddy's.

I'm gonna go fix him a plate.

All right.

Hey, Ty! Give me a hand. Excuse me.

Oh, that's Rose's husband, Pete. I don't think you ever met him.

Good to see you. Hey!

And the girls. Yours?

No, Rose's.

They're home for the weekend.

They go to a boarding school in West Branch.

You were gone before Rose had them.

And your kids? No, we, uh, don't have any.

Hell, I wonder how much he paid for it.

It's a big outfit for a guy his age.

Daddy was the most respected man in the county.

No farmer within 50 miles would make a decision without consulting Larry Cook.

Caroline came home every third weekend to visit him.

They were always close. She seemed to understand him better than Rose and I.

Our farm's been in the Cook family for 100 years.

Provided us with a fine living.

In my lifetime, it's become the most valuable property in the county.

If I died tomorrow, you girls would be lumped with all those inheritance taxes... givin' the government money for nothin'.

Coffee, Daddy? There you have it.

I have a plan. What's the plan?

We're gonna form a corporation, and you girls are all gonna have shares.

You girls and, uh, Ty, Pete are gonna run the show.

You'll each have a third.

Well, what do you say?

It's a good idea, Daddy.

It's a great idea!

I don't know. I wanna think about it.

You don't want it, my girl, you're out.

Simple as that.

It was no use telling him that Caroline hadn't turned him down.

She'd just expressed a doubt.

She'd spoken as a lawyer when she should have spoken as a daughter, but my father's pride had been injured... and we all understood that something important had just happened.

Who ever thought Larry would do somethin' like this? I can't believe it.

If he doesn't change his mind, I want a hog confinement building.

And I want it air-conditioned too.

They've got automatic flush systems so one man can keep the place clean, all by himself, no trouble.

How we gonna pay for it?

Bank'll roll out the carpet for us. You mean borrow?

Sure. We got a good breeding line of our own going.

We can put those babies up for adoption.

Everybody wants one.

I'll say, "Yeah, Jake, but you gotta feed 'em with your own spoon..." and let 'em sleep on your side of the bed, " and he'll say, " Sure, Ty.

Anything. I've already started his college fund."

This is where we stop workin' for your dad and start working for ourselves.

It'll be our place, our way of doing things.


You know, sleeping here is only going to make Daddy madder.

Daddy changes his whole life overnight.

Take it while it's on offer.

He's a farmer, Rose. He doesn't know how to be anything else.

Do you remember...

I was just remembering, before Mommy died, I guess you were about five, and you said, "When I grow up, I'm not going to be a farm wife."

And she laughed, and she asked you what you were going to be, and you said, "A farmer."

I don't remember Mommy. You know that.

Anyway, I was five.

Sweet dreams. Mmm. You too.

I know it, and he knows I know it, but that's why he's so pissed off at me.

What should I give him, a pie or a cake? Hi, Sadie.

Hi, Ginny. Um, give me one of those apple cakes.

I'm gonna get this, okay? Okay.

Just come along. Come out.

Give him a hug and a kiss and say, "I'm sorry, Daddy."

Too late. I spent the night at Rose's. Just ignore that part.

Well, he won't. If he mentions it, just say, "I was afraid you were mad at me, Daddy."

I hate that little girl stuff. I know it, but...

Caroline, this is important.

He's handing over his whole life. Can't you understand that?

We have to receive it in the right spirit.

Please just do it this once. It's the last time. I promise.

I just... I don't know, Ginny.

I will try, okay?

Now don't be mad at me. Now why can't you say that to Daddy?

Here you go, Ginny. Thanks.

The third inning.

He said I could have ten acres of gladiolus... 80,000 bulbs an acre.

Linda, get me a piece of cake. Honey?

Oh, thanks. I'll pass.

You know, a thousand hogs farrow to finish would be eaten.

Eight hundred thousand gladiolus. Oh, Pete.

You should hear yourself.

' Oh! ' Ginny!

How's it goin' out there? Where did you spring from?

I just thought you might want some help. I... I was making coffee.

Oh.

Here, Jess. Let me do it.

Well, things are movin' pretty fast, huh?

Never thought of Daddy as being a creature of impulse before, but...

I don't think things will change much, really.

It's gonna be fine.

Change is good.

Yeah. I'll be watchin' other people work... while you're out there workin' on the tractor and tryin' to pay it off.

Yeah. All right, Kenny. Let's go to it.

Now is the time. Uh, just a moment, Larry.

Oh.

Okay, Ken, let's get on with it.

I couldn't believe that Daddy was actually dividing the farm in half... and signing it over to Rose and me, leaving Caroline out completely.

My first impulse was to call her, but they'd fought before...

Not spoken for days and then come back together as if nothing had happened.

The pectorals. That's right. Push against my hands.

There you go. There you go.

All right, now, the other way.

Push against my hands.

Yeah. You feel that? Yeah.

That's better. All right.

I still feel lopsided.

You will for a while, Rose. It's par for the course.

Maybe I should have the other one off for symmetry.

I wanna buy something pretty.

I wanna do stuff I've stopped myself doing.

You know, Mommy dying of exactly the same thing, didn't think I had a chance.

Rose. I thought it'd get me for sure. I know.

It's only the three-month check, and there's the six-month and the one-year, but I believe him.

I'm gonna be okay.

Whoa! Whoa! What are you doin'?

Get the ball!

Go, Pete! Get it?

Whoa! Come on!

You got it! Ginny, throw it! Throw it, Ginny!

Foul ball! You are pitiful.

So then they hold me down. They shave off my beard and all my hair.

I never figured out why they didn't turn on the lights.

I catch a lift into Spokane, and when I get out, the guy leans across to me... and whispers, "I hope the chemotherapy is a success."

Rose, I'm sorry. I forgot.

Oh, don't be. I didn't have chemo. I had it lopped off.

He doesn't want to know, Rose. No, that's okay. - I got to keep the other one.

All I have to do is wink when I look in the mirror to forget it ever happened.

Ginny, Water Works?

I used to hitch between Muscatine and Davenport, with this band I played with.

You had a band? What'd you play? Uh, guitar. Acoustic.

He was good. Well, thank you.

Anyway, I got a lift this one night with this guy and his wife.

Oh. Don't tell this story. A couple of hippies.

They were driving this VW van, right? I hate this.

Two Afghans and a cat in the back. So, they pull over to the side of the road, and we smoke a joint and the wife... Lucinda, I think...

Pete!

She takes me in the back. With the Afghans.

Ties me to the spare tire, amongst dogs in the backseat so they got a good view.

It gets worse every time he tells it.

Fucks my brains out. Oh!

I'm tellin' you. That... That woman could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.

Pete, take your turn!

Let me tell you. So you stickin' around here or what?

Harold and organic farming? Organic farming?

Have you heard from Caroline? I've gotta call her.

Dad's comin' around. I could maybe start with an acre or two.

What are you gonna plant? Wheat grass?

Oh, man.


What's the matter?

Nothing.

You drove by. Then you drove back.

I just came back to see what you were doin'.

I was reading a magazine.

Why is Ty cultivating that field?

Are they done plantin' the beans? Almost, I think.

Daddy, why don't you, um, come to the house for supper tonight, and then you can ask Ty yourself, hmm?

Do you want anything before I leave?

Well, then, um, I'm gonna be going now.

Okay?

He was there when I went to Pike for bread and there when I got back.

Thanks. Perfecting that "death's head" stare... will be his life work from now on, so we better get used to it.

Excuse me. Sorry.

What are you makin? What I?

Why is this kitchen so crowded all of a sudden?

If you're not cooking, why don't you go outside?

Where's Pammy?

Outside. C'mon. I'll show you the new building.

Rose, isn't it your turn to have Daddy for dinner? I fed him earlier.

Oh.

Pammy? Honey? Why don't you come on in the house? Hello?

Is Daddy okay? Caroline? Are you in Des Moines?

No. I'm in Pike.

Are you okay?

You never called me, Ginny. Why didn't you call?

Well, you didn't think I was mad at you, did you?

What was I supposed to think? That you just forgot about me?

It's a madhouse here. I can hardly hear you. I need to talk to you, Ginny.

Oh! Honey, we've just started supper. Why don't you come out here?

No! No, I'm not going to the house.

Oh, well, come on, sweetie. What about the river?

Uh, well... Ginny, I need 15 minutes of your time.

Oh, all right. Okay. Okay.

All right, I-I'll be right there. All right.

Do you know where Daddy was yesterday? No. Why?

He was in Des Moines. Daddy never goes to Des Moines.

Well, he did. Came to my office.

I wasn't there. I was in New York.

They said he was acting weird. Weird how?

He was gawking at everyone.

He was throwing his head around in a weird kind of way.

I don't know. Weird. Well, he'd probably been to a bar...

He was drinking and driving? Sounds like it.

Well, you can't let him do that. Well, I can't stop him.

Take away his keys!

It's not funny. Pretty funny idea taking away his keys.

Besides, he doesn't have anything to do. He's...

He likes to drive around. You said he was drinking.

Sounds like it. I don't know for sure. Well, why isn't he working?

He doesn't want to work. He's tired of farming.

He's taking the only kind of vacation he knows how to take.

You know, he did what he wanted.

So you and Rose signed the papers.

What papers? Corporation papers. Transfer papers.

Well, of course we did. I mean, we didn't have any choice.

Look. All I know is Daddy's lost everything.

He's made an error of judgment, and he's suffering, and, and maybe he's got some regrets, and it's making him act strange... but you don't care enough to do anything about it.

It's clear who's benefiting here.

What happened to you?

Caroline.

Girls! Lunch! Corning!

Happy Father's Day. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Happy Father's Day, Grandpa.

Pass the bread, please, Pete. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Thank you. Somebody pass the corn, please.

Sure. Want me to carve it, Daddy?

Could you please pass the bread?

Just go down between the bones... Well, I know that!

Well, I know you do. Well, then don't tell me what to do.

I wasn't.

Give me that.

The potatoes look great.

Daddy, did you drive all the way to Des Moines?

Caroline was wondering about it. That's... That's all.

Pass the potatoes, please.

You girls talk a lot on long distance. Ginny?

Peas?

She was worried about it, that's all.

Did I say I went to Des Moines?

No.

See what you've done.

I'll get it. I got it.

Sometimes I hate him.

I want him to go to hell and stay there forever, just roasting.

Rose!

Why do you say, "Rose!" in that shocked way?

Because you're not supposed to wish evil or because you don't really hate him?

I don't. I really don't. I mean, he's a bear...

He's not a bear. He's not innocent like that.

Rose! And sometimes, I hate you too.

Me? I hate you because you're the link between me and him.

Who? Daddy! Don't be so stupid!

You're such a good daughter, so slow to judge.

It's like stupidity. It drives me crazy.

I was thinking the same thing about Ty last night.

I mean, he never questions Daddy. He's so loyal.

It... It seems sort of dumb.

Every time I make up my mind to do something...

Get off this place, leave Pete, get a job, earn some money... you stop me.

Anyway, the point is, I've let him get away with a lot of stuff.

We all have, but... we can set rules, and I think the rules can be pretty simple.

Ginny? Hmm?

Tell me what you really think about Daddy.

I don't know.

I love Daddy, but he's so in the habit of giving orders.

"No back talk." You know.

I mean, he drinks and everything.

Probably for as long as we've known him, but...

You're making me nervous.

I don't know what you want me to say.

Mommy never told us what to think of Daddy, and...

I mean, uh, sometimes I... I wonder whether they got along together... and whether she liked him.

I think different things...

Things like that.

Shit, Ginny.

I don't hate you. You know I don't.

Oh, I think things are gonna get better now.

I... Maybe rules will do the trick.

We can try. Hey.

United front, right?

Right.


So, wanna go for a walk? Mmm!

How long have you been here? About a minute.

Whew. You do appear suddenly. I've noticed that about you.

You're just oblivious. I've noticed that about you.

You see that?

Yeah. Wild burdock.

Know what these are? Mmm-hmm. Prairie Indigo.

Very poisonous. All right.

What about these? Now, I know these.

Locoweed. Very good.

Jess laughed, and I laughed, and for a moment, everything seemed remote and not very important.

I wondered if maybe that wasn't the right way to look at things after all.

Really? Even after you've been gone all this time?

I had the strong sense that we had stumbled... into some kind of daring privacy... and that the secluded place we were walking somehow allowed it.

Well, that's new. No, that's you guys.

What do you mean?

I know you didn't initiate the transfer, but people are getting suspicious, wondering how you and Rose got Larry to give you the place... when the whole thing's obviously driving him crazy.

Shit! Harold was there!

It was at your party. He knows exactly how it happened.

Well, the talk will die down. It always does.

It's not Harold's main problem.

What is? The thing is, my dad loves me.

He wants to win me, thinks he can keep me here with the farm, even though he knows that I wouldn't farm the way he does.

Harold wants to fix me, right here in Zebulon County.

Would that be so bad?

When I think of myself ten years down the road, I wonder if it'll be Loren and me, the Clark brothers, Frick and Frack.

Well, we're here.


Oh! I saw Caroline got married.

Caroline! Yes! They had a ceremony.

A-A small one. Those are nice too.

These are sweet. I... Mom?

Oh, that's pretty. Look.

She didn't mention a word of this when she talked to you, did she?

Come on, Rose. It's your turn. Maybe we should call her.

For what? This is for us.

This is how she's letting us know.

Okay, the thing is just to take it in stride.

I'm going to send her a present... A very expensive present...

With just a little card, saying, "From Rose Lewis and family."

I just can't understand why she would do such...

If we all concentrate on playing the game, I think we'll have a better time.

Aren't you having a good time, Ty?

I just think if we're gonna play, we should... My God, Ty.

Ginny, settle down. I'm tired of this game.

Rose!

Don't!

As if I would. As if you haven't.

Hello?

Oh, my God. Where is he?

Daddy?

Dad? Larry?

Daddy? You okay?

Daddy, do you have the pills the nurse gave you?

Daddy! Ginny.

I know you're hurt, and I'm sorry you got in an accident, but now's the time to talk about it.

I mean, you've gotta take this to heart. You simply can't... drive all over creation, especially not when you're drinking.

They'll probably revoke your license, but even if they don't, I will.

If you ever do this again, I'll take away the keys to your truck, and if that doesn't do it, then I'll sell it!

You told me when I was little that one warning ought to be enough.

Well, Daddy, this is your warning.

I mean it about the driving, Daddy, and Rose'll back me up.

I got nothin'.

What time is it?

3: 15. I left the house at 1:00.

Seems a lifetime ago.

Is that true?

You've done this before.

I've slept with women before.

I haven't done this before.

I haven't slept with other men. I've only slept with Ty.

Yeah, I know, Ginny.

I know what that means. Maybe you do.

Maybe not.

Ginny, can I ask you a question?

How come you and Ty don't have kids?

Well, I've had five miscarriages. Jesus.

Ginny... Ty only knows about three of them.

He... He couldn't stand the disappointment after that, so I've kind of kept the fact that I'm still trying to myself.

It's kind of like a last chance.

What?

Didn't your doctor tell you not to drink the well water?

What?

There's been stuff written about this for years.

Ginny, the fertilizer runoff drains into the aquifer, and you drink it.

Well, Rose drinks it.

It doesn't affect everyone the same.

Daddy, don't hang up.

I'm worried about you. Why aren't you out working with Ty?

Look. I'm coming there to talk to you about the farm. I'm listening.

We're breaking into the regularly scheduled programming... to bring you this continuing weather update.

A severe thunderstorm warning has just been issued for Zebulon County.

If he wrecks my truck, I'll kill him.

As we speak, the latest look at the radar...

Daddy took Pete's truck. He did what?

He's probably been drinking. I can't believe this.

Did Grandpa steal Daddy's truck? Not exactly, honey.

He shouldn't be out in this weather.

I'm goin' into Pike, see if I can find him before this storm hits. You comin'?

One of these times, he's going to kill himself or, God forbid, somebody else.

Nothing could kill him.


Ginny? Come out here, please.

Larry has some things to say. You're damn right I have!

Daddy, it's going to storm.

Why don't I take you home, and we can talk in the morning?

I don't want to go home. You girls stick me there.

We don't stick you there!

It's the nicest house. Daddy, you've lived there your whole life.

Let me take you home. No!

Go with Rose now, and then tomorrow... Let Larry have his say...

I'd rather stay out in the storm than be stuck back there.

Well, fine. Do what you want. You will anyway.

Spoken like the bitch you are!

Daddy! You don't have to drive me around anymore... or cook the goddamn breakfast or clean the goddamn house... or tell me what I can do and what I can't do.

You're just a bitch, is all. A dried-up whore! Bitch!

Larry... Get off! - Come on.

Pete and I will take you home, and you can apologize to Ginny...

Now don't you make me out to be crazy. I know your game.

It's you girls that are driving me crazy.

I give you everything I got! And what do I get in return?

Just some orders about doin' this and doin' that!

We didn't ask for what you gave us.

Maybe it's high time we got some reward for what we gave you.

You say you know about Ginny. Well, I know all about you, and you know I know.

This is what we've got to offer... this same life... nothing more, nothing less.

You don't want it, go elsewhere. Get somebody else to take you in because I, for one, have had it.

You hear her? She talks to me almost worse than you do.

If you think this is bad, Daddy, you'd be amazed at what you really deserve.

As far as I'm concerned, you're on your own now.

Your house is down the road. You can get there. I'm going inside.

Oh, now, don't think you can treat me like this.

I'll throw you whores off the place!

I'll stop the building, and I'll get my land back.

You'll never have children. You haven't a hope.

And your children are gonna laugh when you die. Okay, that's it.

Larry, let's go home now. Come on. Come on!

Come on! Get off of me, for Christ's sake!

Larry, come on. Get off me!

Come on, Larry. Get in the car now. It's startin' to rain.

Get in, Larry.

Larry, just get into the car. I don't want to fight you now. Come on.

You gonna help me or what?

No!

Come on back now. Larry, where you going? Come on!

Larry! Larry?

What an asshole. This is it. This is really it.

You got a coat or something?

Can you take one for Ty? Oh, shit.

I hope he dies in it. Mommy!

I'm coming! Hold on! I'll be right there!

What happened to the lights?


I used to fantasize that Mommy had escaped... and taken an assumed name, and someday, she would be back for us.

Want to hear the life that I had picked for us?

Sure.

She was a waitress at the restaurant of a nice hotel, and we lived with her in a Hollywood-style apartment.

You know, with nice shag carpeting, white walls, little sounds from the neighbors on either side.

I guess I never thought of living anywhere but the farm.

Isn't that funny?

I wanted it to be different, though.

Ginny, you sound so... mild.

I mean, aren't you furious? Well, what...

What good is that? I mean, Daddy's always had rages.

You don't remember how he used to come after us, do you?

Oh! Of course I remember.

I mean, I was remembering tonight, while he was yelling at me, about that time that I lost my shoe, and I tried to hide behind the stove, but Mommy made me come out... and then Daddy beat me till I fell down.

I don't mean when we got strapped or whipped.

I mean when he went into your room at night.

I don't remember that.

You were 15. You must remember.

Well, Grandpa Cook...

used to prowl around the house at night, looking at everybody.

It was kind of like checking the hogs or something.

It wasn't like checking the hogs with Daddy.

What are you saying?

You know. What?

He was having sex with you.

Oh, Jesus, Rose!

He was not. I saw him go in.

He stayed for a long time.

He was probably closing the windows or something.

I checked my clock.

Rose!

I mean, how can I believe... that you woke up all those years ago... and saw Daddy come into my room and checked your clock, then saw him come back out and checked your clock again and that's evidence... that he was in there...

Daddy... might be a drinker and a rager, but...

I mean, he goes to church.

It's true. Well, it didn't happen.

But it did. What?

Because when he stopped going in to you, he started coming in to me, and that's what he did.

We had sex in my bed.

What, when you were 13?

And 14 and 15 and 16.

Ohh.

I don't believe...

I thought it was okay.

It must have been okay, because he said it was, and he was the rule maker.

I just ca... Can't listen to this.

He didn't rape me, Ginny.

He seduced me.

He said it was okay and that it was good to please him, that I was special...

and he loved me.

What about Caroline?

I'm not sure.

He said that if I went along with him, he wouldn't get interested in her.

Is that why you send the girls away to boarding school?

I keep my eyes peeled. So does Pete.

Pete knows?

Now they're getting to be the age we were.

Not "we"! You!

It didn't happen to me!

I don't know what to say.

This is so ridiculous.

I feel so idiotic, so... naive and foolish.

Rose, just...

I'm so sorry... that he did that to you.

Don't make me feel sorry for myself.

The more pissed off I am, the better I feel.


They threw me out.

Ginny?

You got a problem, girlie. You think so, Harold?

I know so. I'll have some of that.

Here, I'll make fresh.

Nah. Your dad don't want to come home here.

He don't want to lay eyes on any of the whole lot of you.

How long are you gonna keep him there? He's got a right to stay.

We've been friends for 60 years or more.

Fine.

Now that's a woman's word, that "fine."

Well, Harold, what would you like me to say?

I want you to say he's your dad, that even though he's a pain in the butt, you owe him.

Rose owes him too. Rose doesn't owe him anything.

Rose has always been trouble between you and me.

You shut up, Harold! You hear me?

You just shut up about Rose and Daddy!

He's a stubborn man.

It don't matter what I think or say.

He don't like bein' told he's wrong, when it ain't clear how wrong he is.

Now I'm gonna do you a favor here.

Oh, yeah? What's that?

Here's what I'm gonna do for you.

I'm gonna bring your dad to the church supper on Sunday, and you girls, you show up there and be sociable.

I think you can work this out.

Why, Larry's got his side; You've got your side. I know that.

Look at him.

It just goes to show you.

What? How much we were doing for him, namely everything.

Although you'd think Harold could lend him a comb.

Joan Stanley thinks Daddy's lost his mind.

It enrages me.

Enrages? Rose, just look at him.

Oh, Ginny. It's just a ploy for-for-for sympathy. What next?

I don't want to know what's next. What are you afraid of?

I guess I'm just afraid of anything that has to do with Daddy.

Did we treat him badly? People seem to think we did.

But did we? Do you think so? I don't think so, no.

Well, then, stick with what's true.

Okay, Rose.

Oh, uh... just family. Just family. All right.

Thank you. Beg your pardon. Thanks, Ken. Here we go. Can I sit here?

Ginny, why don't you sit here? Jess? Thank you.

Everybody.

Settle down, please. We're gonna talk to the boss.

With our heads down and our hearts upraised, we pray.

Almighty God, we thank you for these blessings, not only of food, but of family and friends.

We rededicate ourselves to your service. Amen.

Let's eat.

Hey! Hey, everybody!

Look at 'em chowing down here like they ain't done nothin'.

Threw a man off his own farm on a night he wouldn't keep a wolf out of your barn.

Pipe down, Harold Clark. You're talking through your hat, same as always.

Y'all know who I'm talking about. Ginny and Rose Cook.

Well, I got their number. Nobody has fooled me. Bitch! That's what you are!

I got your number, too, you son of a bitch.

You got your eye on my place, just like them.

You come cozying up to me like I'm gonna hand it over to ya.

Well, I'm not that goddamn dumb.

Harold, you oughta do this! Harold, you oughta do that!

Who the hell are you to tell me about anything?

You stay away from here, and then you come sashaying... What...

Come on, now, Harold! Break it up!

Come on. Come on.

Crazy bastard!

Let me alone, damn it. Godda...

Everything with Harold is a game. He plays the clown.

He gets everybody to laugh at him. Oh, no... but he's not laughing.

Everything he does is a result of some calculation.

I just can't believe how sure I was that he'd changed.

Well, Jess, Harold's always been unpredictable.

Huh... I-I hit him. You know, I hit him.

I should go talk to him. No.

He rejected you. Everybody saw him do it.

He's been after you for 13 years.

Gonna do the same thing to you that you did to him.

He set you up when you got here, and then he got his revenge.

You can't go back to Harold's now.

Why don't you stay at Daddy's? The house is just sitting there.

Of course, Jess. I mean, you wouldn't have to stay in Daddy's room.

You could... You could use my old room, and then...

I mean, after this all blows over... Then you could go back home.

Ginny is eternally hopeful.


Ty? Ginny?

Ginny?

Can I help you, Ken?

Uh, these are for you.

You and Ty and Rose and Pete.

You better tell me what they are.

Well, Ginny, your dad and Caroline are suing you to get the farm back.

You better find yourself a lawyer.

I thought you were our lawyer. Can't be. It's, uh, not ethical.

Besides, I don't want to be, either.

I don't think you treated your dad right, to be honest.

We didn't ask for the farm.

I-I can't talk about the suit, Ginny.

What else is there to talk about, Caroline?

I mean, it drives everything else out, doesn't it?

The thought of Daddy out in that storm is what drives everything else out.

You weren't there. You don't know what happened or what it was like.

Daddy was there. Ty was there.

You talked to Ty? He was there.

You know, we did everything for you, Rose and I.

We found a way to get you whatever you wanted.

We saved you from Daddy. I mean, Rose was the one... You saved me?

From my own father?

Look, at this point I don't really blame you and Rose for the way you raised me.

I really don't.

Actually, I would like to get into it someday. I think it would be healthy.

But right now I have a meeting. Good-bye, Ginny.

When did you talk to Caroline?

Ty! Why didn't you tell me you talked to Caroline?

I thought she should know about Larry.

Fine.

Look what's happened.

♪♪

Jess!

Jess!

Hey. What are you doin'?

Did you knock? I had the radio on.

I guess I haven't seen you in a while.

I missed you.

I love you, Jess.

Wait! I'll be right down.

Now, just hang on. Don't go anywhere.

Ken, don't do this to me. It's a cease and desist order, Ty.

I'm half finished. I know you are, but it's a line of credit. It's frozen.

If I don't finish it now... The weather... I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Oh, come on! How long have you known me?

I'm halfway finished. It's not doin' it to you. It's a cease and desist...

Let me finish before the weather... It's the court order.

You know... How long have you known me?

How long have I done business with this bank?

Look, if it wasn't for this lawsuit thing, you'd have been fine.

I'm sorry, Ty.

So, Marv, you're closing us down? It wasn't my call, Ginny.

I-It's... just until we get this thing sorted out.

Believe me, it's always difficult.

But once the transition's been made and the older generation's taken care of, in most cases, things go back to normal.

God forbid.

The mismanagement and abuse clause in the transfer agreement... isn't that well defined, but they'll certainly try to prove abuse... and probably mismanagement too.

So, you've gotta farm like model farmers until the hearing date.

And you ladies.

Wear dresses every day.

Keep the lawn mowed and porch swept. You're kidding.

Appearances are everything with a clause like this.

If I have to, I'll call some of your neighbors to attest to your skills.

And their lawyer'll call neighbors to attest to your mistakes.

If you look good, they won't be able to touch you.

That's ridiculous.

It's millions of dollars.

Millions of dollars is never ridiculous.

You got your list, Daddy? Yeah.

You got money?

Yes, Daddy. Huh? I-Let me see it.

Well, it's in my wallet. Oh.

This is nice. Silk.

Mm. Yeah, that could look good in court.

Or this one?

Now, let's sit down.

Come on. Sit down here.

Daddy, we should really look for these things. No. Come. Sit by me.

Okay.

'Member that brown coat you had, huh?

You were a little birdy girl, huh? Little hat too.

And that velvet stuff.

Velveteen. Yeah, you were my birdy girl.

Looked like a little house wren. Did I?

Mmm. Didn't like it, either. No sirree.

Didn't want a brown coat and a hat. Wanted pink, huh?

Candy pink. Gosh, I don't remember.

I remember something red. A red jacket with hearts.

Couldn't ever keep you away from them drainage wells.

No matter how much we'd punished you or whipped you...

Like a moth to flame.

Hmm. My little birdy girl. Hmm.

I don't remember.

Oh, Daddy.


Oh, God.

Rose, what c-color was your coat when you were about five or so?

My coat? Yeah.

Must've... Oh, it was that brown, velveteen thing.

Oh, I hated that thing. What color did you want?

Well, pink probably. I was crazy about pink for years.

What is... Did Caroline get your coat?

No, it wore out.

Mommy cut it up for polishing rags.

I was in R-Roberta's, and Caroline and Daddy came in.

You know, I can't tell you... the tone he used on her.

It was soft and affectionate.

But there was something underneath... I thought I'd faint.

Say it.

Say what?

Say it.

It happened like you said.

I remembered it.

I used to pretend to be asleep.

And how he'd say...

"Quiet."

"Quiet, girl. Don't fight me now."

Rose, I remembered the smells.

The whiskey and cigarettes and farm smells.

I remember how I'd sort of just... leave my body.

So that I wouldn't be there.

Just so that it wouldn't be me.

♪♪

♪ You know the ring will shine ♪

♪ Through the dead of night ♪

♪ We are one true love ♪ Hey. ♪ And now we see the light, baby ♪ Hey. ♪ If you call my name over hill and vale ♪

♪ They can take me down ♪

♪ And stick me in the jail, baby ♪ Wanna ride?

♪ Still the ring will work ♪ No, thanks.

♪ But through the pouring rain ♪

♪ And the way you go ♪

♪ Is the way I ride ♪

♪ And it's two feet first I hear the startin' gun ♪

♪ You wanna call my name ♪

♪ In the black of night ♪

♪ But it won't be long before the fuss and fight ♪♪

Which one was that at?

I got Pete Lewis' truck at the 15th Street bridge.

Better notify his relatives.

Roger that, Carl. I'll send a tow and an ambulance.

Rose?

Ginny, um, Pete's crashed the truck... and... drowned himself in the ditch.

The girls are still asleep. Can you go down there?

Aunt Ginny, I wish that Mom would let me baby-sit.

She said that if she had to drive me she'd charge mileage.

Oh, that sounds like a joke to me.

Where's Mom? Eh, she'll be back soon, honey.

'Kay. I'm gonna go watch TV. Okay.


Girls, I have some bad news.

It's about your father.

This past week has been hell on my kids.

I'd have come over to your place...

I'm... crazy to get out of this h-house.

But Pammy keeps waking up and... ca... calling for me.

Last night she woke up about every 45 minutes.

Well, I can't sleep anyway.

How are they? I feel so bad for them.

Yeah, well, you've seen 'em. They're shell shocked.

I hate Pete for that.

Shit!

Ginny, you don't know what it was like with Pete.

He told me when I got back from the hospital... that he'd prefer me to keep my nightgown on if he was in the room.

Rose.

I'm so tempted to just... walk over there and go in.

What on earth for?

To get into bed with Jess.

Don't look at me that way. I can't deal with it.

Ask me a question, any question. I'll tell you the truth.

Just tell me.

He has this sense of my body.

He... He looks at it a lot.

You know... touches it as if he... He loves it.

I mean, I know that stops, but while it lasts I can't...

When that stops? I can't get enough.

Doesn't everything stop? I mean, isn't that what affairs are all about?

It's not going to stop. Jess has never settled down, Rose.

He's restless.

He's had a lot of women, bet on that. I mean, unless he commits himself...

But he has. He's pushing me to-t... to just...

Just what? That's what we can't decide. What?

Where? Did you tell Pete about Jess?

Yes.

And what did he say? That he was going to kill Daddy.

Daddy?

He blamed Daddy for everything that went wrong in our lives.

When you got right down to it, he was jealous as hell.

But he was too weak.

Couldn't actually do anything up front, just threaten.

Shit, Ginny. At the core, they're all like that.

We just think that way because of Daddy.

I mean, if he...

If he hadn't...

Say the words, Ginny.

If he hadn't have beat us and fucked us, we'd think differently, right?

But he did.

And what kills me is this person who can beat... and fuck his own daughters can go into the community... and get respect and power and take it for granted... that he deserves it.

Oh, he's respected, and people say what bitches we are.

And that's that. End of history. I can't stand that.

I was thinking... leaving here... Jess and me...

Was the only alternative, but I don't want to leave here.

I want what was Daddy's. I want it.

I think I paid for it. Don't you?

You think a breast weighs a pound? That's my pound of flesh.

Okay, here's a question for you.

Did you know I'd slept with Jess?

Sure.

Had you slept with him by that time?

No. But he told you?

At... At some point.

A while ago.

I guess that means he and I don't have anything private together, huh?


Selling sows'll tide us over until after harvest.

I gotta think about the payment on that loan.

Not gonna take care of itself.

I thought we earmarked the rent from your place for that.

That's gonna get eaten up at harvest.

Lawyer isn't going to be cheap, either.

Gotta find it somewhere.

I'm lucky to get three-fourths of what these sows are worth.

They're prime breeding stock, but what choice is there?


Miss Cook, when were your suspicions aroused... about this plan going on for the division of the Cook farm?

Oh, I was suspicious from the first.

The whole project was very atypical for my father, and I made my reservations known.

And how were your reservations greeted?

My sister Ginny Smith urged me very strongly to go along with the plan.

What did you think of that?

Well, I suspected her of ulterior motives.

I know both she and Rose have wanted to get their hands on the property.

Oh, my God. Listen to this. Objection, Your Honor.

Quiet, Mrs. Lewis. The objection is sustained.

Mr. Ty Smith told you that your sisters sent your father... out into a terrible storm, did he not?

Yes, he did. He did?

It was common knowledge that my father was out in that storm. I'm not surprised.

Ms. Cook, the relationship between your father... and your sisters is irrelevant in this case.

The mismanagement or abuse clause in the pre-incorporation agreement... refers to the farm properties only.

Ms. Cook, in the past, had the Cook farm ever incurred debt?

No. Is it now burdened with debt?

Yes, it certainly is.

No further questions. No questions.

Witness is excused.

So, work crews were doing very long hours overtime?

Yes. In order to push the work past the point of no return?

Objection, Your Honor. Sustained. Rephrase, Counsel.

Everything was done in a rush, right?

Well, the sooner the work was finished, uh, the sooner we'd start earning.

Didn't you tell your husband, Ty Smith, that, uh, the big dollars being spent made you giddy?

Did you tell your husband... the big dollars being spent made you giddy?

Yes, but that wa... In other words, you and your husband were way overextended, and you both knew it.

No.

Your Honor, at this time I'd like to call Mr. Larry Cook to the stand.

He's been saving it all up for this moment.

Brace yourself.

Mr. Cook, did you in good faith form a corporation... and relinquish your farm to your two older daughters, Rose Cook Lewis and Virginia Cook Smith and their husbands, Tyler Smith and Peter Lewis?

Mr. Cook? By God, they'll starve.

Land won't produce for the likes of them.

Larry, did you sign the farm over to Ginny and Rose?

I don't care about going to jail.

Nobody's going to jail, Larry. It isn't that kind of trial.

We're talkin' about the farm. Your farm.

The one your dad and granddad built.

What happened to it?

It was all underwater. I told 'em that.

Every last bit of it underwater.

We laid the tiles. Yes, sir.

Dug the drainage wells. No machinery. We did it all by hand.

My granddad, my dad, then me.

Yes, your farm. My farm.

What'd you do with it?

I... I lost it.

How? Larry? Oh...

Larry! Listen to me. What happened to the farm?

Who'd you give it to? Them! Them bitches!

The whole lot of them. Here it comes.

Mr. Cook. Larry. She's dead, you know.

Who's dead, Mr. Cook? My daughter.

Which daughter? All of your daughters are in this courtroom, sir.

Caroline! Caroline's dead!

I think they stole the body and buried it already.

Daddy? I'm right here.

Judge, here's Exhibit "A"... The contract in question.

I'll introduce that in lieu of the witness' response.

Could be they... They-they-they killed her. Daddy!

That day after church. She didn't show up to get her share.

And then when I went down to Des Moines to find her, she wasn't there.

Daddy. Daddy. Look, you're a judge...

I'll swear that maybe they killed her and buried her. Daddy, I'm right here.

No.

You help me up, boy. Can't do like I used to.

Excuse me.

She was the sweetest, lightest, happiest little bird.

All day long she would sing some little song.

Little bitty fingers always dropping things through the well grate.

Daddy, that was Rose!

It was Rose who dropped things through the grate.

It was Rose who sang!

But it was!

I don't feel I need to take a recess to decide this matter.

The arguments are fairly clear, and the plaintiffs have failed to establish... either abuse of the property or mismanagement of its assets.

Fact is, in this state, if you legally sign over your property, it's very hard to change your mind and get it back.

I find in favor of the defendants, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Smith.

Court is adjourned.

He doesn't even know he lost the farm.

What do you want, Rose? Blood?

I want him to know.

Daddy!

You lost!

Do you hear me?

Come on.

He doesn't even know.


One thing we could get would be a new range. This thing is a menace.

I don't necessarily think this is the right time... for us to be getting a new range.

Well, maybe it'll blow up, put us out of our misery.

I'll bring the range from your father's house tomorrow. It's pretty new.

Or we could move over there. I am the oldest.

That house is too big for us.

Well, it was built to be big. It was built to show off.

Maybe I've inherited my turn to show off.

I think you've shown off plenty this summer, frankly.

I need a thousand dollars.

I asked for a thousand dollars. That's all I wanted.

A dollar an acre. I've given my life to this place.

Now, it's yours.

I didn't know where I was going.

All I knew was that I had to leave.

Going to court had divided us from each other and from our old lives.

There was nothing here for me any longer.

The hardest part was leaving Rose.

All our lives we'd looked out for each other... in that way that motherless children tend to do.

I was afraid of leaving her alone with her anger... and her hate.

Rose.

I'd always assumed we would be together forever on this thousand acres.

It took me six months to address a note to Rose telling her where I was.

When she wrote back, I was afraid to read it, so I threw it in a drawer.

A year later I still couldn't read her letters.

More coffee? No.

Coffee? Mm-hmm.

Is the breakfast okay? Mm-hmm.

Good.

Can I get you something?

Hello, Ginny.

Ty It's from the girls.

Thanks.

I'm going to Texas, Ginny.

I thought I'd get myself a job at one of those big hog places down there.

Those hog buildings killed me.

The winter after the trial was so bad... It was a hearing.

Nobody was on trial. I was.

What about Rose? Rose.

She's moved over into your father's house.

I signed everything...

The land, buildings, hogs, the equipment...

I signed the whole lot over to her.

She's sure she's gonna be some kind of land baroness.

Got it all figured out, the way she always does.

She goes around like some queen.

Frankly, she's your dad all over. Where's he now?

Caroline took him in. He's living with her.

I know what Rose says, Ginny...

About your dad?

She told me. She told everybody by now.

No one believes her.

I think people should keep private things private.

I hated all that mess. I hated the way Rose roped you in.

You took Carolina's side. You talked to Caroline about me!

I took the farm's side. That's all.

I guess we see things differently.

More than you can imagine.

I've gotta get back to work.

Gotta have the last word, huh? You have it. I don't care.

I don't remember you like this.

I wasn't like this.

No, you looked on the good side of things, and you were pretty.

And funny.

I was a ninny.

I was a simpleton.

Hello, Denny's.

Does Ginny Cook work there? Yes, she does.

Ginny?

Phone call. I'll be with you in a second.

Hello? Aunt Ginny, Mommy's in the hospital.

She wanted the whole lot, Ginny. We gave it to her.

Second radical mastectomy. All the chemo her body could take.

But it's just way too advanced.

God knows, though, she's a fighter. Yeah.

Come on. I'll take you to her.


Take the girls back with you.

You mean...

Promise me you'll take them.

Of course I'll take them.

Tomorrow we'll talk about when.

Okay.

Go home. Make them some dinner.

Make them some fried chicken.


They had no idea that their mother wasn't coming home.

And I couldn't tell them. Not yet.

I realized I'd had nothing to offer Pammy and Linda... on the occasion of their father's death, since I had learned nothing on the occasion of my mother's. Oh!

Oh, my God! Oh, Aunt Ginny!

Rose was going to die, and they would know it soon enough.

I've often thought that the death of a parent... is the one misfortune for which there is no compensation.

Oh, you've grown. Oh, look at you both. You've grown so much.

All she told me was for... me to come and make you fried chicken.

We're vegetarians.

We eat meat at school sometimes. Oh.

And we go to Kentucky Fried sometimes.

So, should I, uh, make the mashed potatoes and gravy?

Yes, please. Yes, please.

Take these, honey. Okay.

Is my apron still here?

Hey

I'm gonna bring the girls by later.

No, it's along way.

I didn't leave everything unsaid with the girls the way Mommy did with us.

I laid it out for them when I saw what was happening.

Well, I'm glad about that.

I'm impressed by the way you've tied up all the loose ends.

Bossy till the end.

Are you looking for a way to hurt my feelings?

Probably.

Still fighting over a man?

For every one thought I've had about Ty, I've had 2O about Jess.

Eventually you'd have gotten fed up. Did you?

Almost. I would've.

But, he left when I got sick.

Ginny, I wanna tell you some things, some practical things.

I'm leaving the farm to you and Caroline, not to the girls.

I want all of this to stop with our generation.

Rose, I don't want to farm. You won't have to.

Marv Carson'll make you sell to the, uh, Midwestern Corporation.

I don't know what there's going to be, above and beyond the debt and the, uh, the taxes.

No, don't do that to me.

We're not going to be sad. We're going to be angry until we die.

It's hard to bear, Rose.

Are you okay?

Oh, I'd better go before the girls get up.

What am I gonna do without you?

Exercise caution while making up your own mind, as always.

Yeah.

Ginny?

I don't have any accomplishments.

I didn't make a good life with Pete.

I didn't see the girls into adulthood. I didn't keep Jess.

I didn't work the farm successfully.

I didn't even get Daddy to know what he did or... what it means.

And all the people around town talk... about how I wrecked it all.

Three generations on the same land...

Great land.

Daddy, a marvelous farmer and a saint to boot.

So, all I have is... that I saw.

That I saw without being afraid... and without turning away.

And that I didn't forgive the unforgivable.

That's my sole, solitary and only accomplishment.

That's something, isn't it?

Caroline. Tell her about Daddy.


Rose died that afternoon.

Let us say that each... vanished person left me something, in that I feel my inheritance when I am reminded of them.

Anger itself reminds me of Rose, but so do most of the women I see on the street who wear dresses she would've liked... and carry their children on their hips with that swaying grace she had.

Rose left me a riddle I haven't solved:

Of how we judge those who have hurt us... when they have shown no remorse or even understanding.

Remorse reminds me of Daddy, who had none.

At least none for me.

I didn't tell Caroline about Daddy.

I could've told her everything.

I could've poured the truth right over her.

But it would've been Rose's truth, not mine.

Daddy died of a heart attack that next spring.

Our thousand acres were taken over by a giant agricultural corporation.

The houses were bulldozed to make room for more crops.

And although the farm and all of its gifts and burdens are scattered now, my inheritance is with me and Rose's children.

As each year goes by I watch them grow, and in them I see something new.

Something my sister and I never had.

I see hope.