America has produced only three classic writers, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, and me.
I'm Jonathan Flynn.
Everything I write is a masterpiece.
And soon, very soon, I shall be known.
At this point of the story, let's call it the present, I am an upstanding citizen of these United States.
I have a job, a roof over my head. I have sustenance.
Perhaps I'll let you read my masterpiece someday.
The Button Man, also known as The Confessions of Christopher Cobb.
This isn't his story.
Well, it is, but he is not telling it, I am.
I'm Nick Flynn, his son, and I am sort of trying to be a writer.
I mean, not at this very moment.
At this moment I'm trying to...
Hey, wake up.
All my life, my father has been manifest as an absence.
A non-presence. A name without a body.
What if he doesn't show up?
He's gonna show up.
How do you know?
Because if he doesn't show up this time, I'm going to kill him.
How will you find him to kill him?
I have ways.
Can we get ice cream if he doesn't show up?
Here is the bus. Here he is.
No, that is not him.
He must be in the back.
What kind of ice cream do you want to get?
Some part of me knew he would show up someday.
If I stayed in one place long enough, he would find me, like you are taught to do when you are lost.
But what do you do if both of you are lost and you both end up in the same place, waiting?
How was your flight?
Nick, what is the ashtray doing by the bed?
You are a fucking asshole.
Look, you are the one who said you didn't see a future for us.
I wonder why? This is yours!
This is yours.
And this is yours! All right.
And this is yours. All right.
My book. And Yates.
Oh, more Yates. All right.
Wow! You are so well-read.
All right. All right!
I'll pay for the mirror.
As soon as I get a job.
For what, your complete inadequacy as a human being?
Well, you warned me.
Don't worry, you're back.
Back in the hands of a master storyteller.
Yeah, yeah, go fuck yourself.
I like kids and small animals.
What I don't like is queers and blacks who try and fuck you up the ass all day and all night.
But more on that later.
What I am, always have been, is an artist.
Shut the fuck up.
Shut up. Shut up.
Shut the fuck up! Shut up!
A friend of a friend knew a couple of guys who were renting an entire building, a former strip joint called "Good Times."
Unfortunately, the good times were not had by all, like that Harvard student who was found stabbed to death in the doorway three years before.
I don't know what to tell you.
That's something you got to figure out, man.
So, what appeals to you about living here?
Low rent. Yeah, hold on one second.
Do you have a job?
Uh, no. I have some money saved up.
I was working as an electrician, but now I'm looking for a new line of work.
Can you wire this place up to look like a spaceship?
And what field of employment are you interested in?
Something different, something more meaningful.
"More meaningful," what does that mean?
I don't know.
Are those, like, the names of strippers?
Yeah. The landlord's Mafia, so he just left all this shit the way it was when the FBI shut him down.
Stop interrogating the guy.
I'm sorry, Ivan, but my last roommate had his entire family from Cambodia sleeping in the living room.
No, my mom's dead, and my dad, I haven't heard from in 18 years, so...
So, are you guys like...
No. No. Okay.
So, Denise, didn't you say they were hiring people at your work?
They usually are.
Good. 'Cause I think Nick here is looking for a job.
Give him a break, man. Where do you work?
Harbor Street Inn. You heard of it?
No. It's a homeless shelter.
That sounds intense. So are you like a do-gooder?
No, I'm a do-badder, but I work at Harbor Street.
What makes you a do-badder?
I bet you would like to know.
Upon occasion, rare occasion, but still, I'll pick up a female fare and we will strike up a conversation.
Let's be a little realistic here.
Still, we are having fun, aren't we, Buttercup?
Who is this?
That is my wife and kid.
Will you listen to this shit.
You are married?
Divorced, a long time ago.
Well, I had better get you home.
I left the meter running. That'll be $240.
I can't even think anymore!
I was hoping you'd be here.
Why is that?
Well, so I know somebody.
We don't exactly know each other, do we?
I guess not.
I'm not interested in a relationship.
I'm not interested in a relationship.
Okay, I can cope.
Who is it?
Your father, who you supposedly hadn't seen in 18 years.
This is Nick.
Is this Nicholas Flynn?
Nicholas, this is your father, Jonathan Flynn.
It is. I have a question for you.
Do you have a truck? A pickup truck?
Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.
I heard as much.
Your grandmother, she mentioned it a few years ago.
You do remember your grandmother, don't you?
I do. Good.
Now I want you to get in your truck and drive over here.
I'm sorry, you say you are my father?
That is correct.
I was evicted and I need you to get over here and help me move my stuff, Nicholas.
How did you get this number?
Information. Now listen to me carefully.
I am sitting behind a door with a shotgun.
I'm waiting for the knob to turn.
Get over here right now.
That is an appealing offer.
You are damn right it is.
It's all yours. You are my sole heir, Nicholas.
I want you to have everything.
You have a pen or a pencil?
Because I want you to write this address down.
What am I doing here?
What are you doing here? What are we doing here?
Thanks for coming.
Sure. Should we just wait here? Or do you want us...
Who is it?
It's Nick. Nicholas.
Come on in, the door is open. Come in.
I'll be with you in a minute.
I appreciate you coming over, Nicholas.
We're put on this Earth to help other people.
We were put on this Earth to help other people, Nicholas.
I regret our mutual loss.
I am a born writer, so are you.
Get this in your head at once. I am a classic storyteller. A great writer.
I think I want to be a writer.
Dad is a writer, right?
What makes you think that?
It says right here. It says, "Work on my novel is going well.
"I shall soon win the Nobel Prize
"for both storytelling and poetry.
You know where that letter was written from?
Why is he in prison again?
Interstate transportation of stolen securities.
What is that?
He cashed forged checks.
He stole thousands and thousands of dollars.
Do you know how much of that we have seen?
Have you seen my baseball glove?
If it were up your ass, you would know where it was.
Well? Gonna come in?
Pleasure to see you, Nicholas, aside from the circumstances.
What are the circumstances?
The circumstances are that I had a disagreement with my scum-sucking landlord.
I don't know why.
And so he decided to bring the police into the discussion.
So now I'm forced to move.
I'm considering my options. I'm a sought-after house guest.
You know why?
Because I'm an excellent raconteur.
But until I find a new place, I have to put all my things in storage.
Hey. So I'm not bringing the gun in my truck.
What? The shotgun.
Uh, yeah. You said you had a shotgun.
A shotgun? Who said that? I abhor firearms.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I can defend myself.
Let me just...
You see this? Yes.
Anyone messes with me when I'm driving or walking down the street, whatever.
Bamo! Right in the head. It sends a little message, let me tell you.
I'd like to take that scumbag landlord, and I'd like to ram it right up his ass.
This landlord, this merchant, this fucking user...
Hey, that is great. Would you mind putting that away?
I'd like to take this and...
Please? ...ram it up his fucking ass, twist it around, pull it down, rip out his innards and fucking pull them out.
You get the fucking picture.
That was my first wife, Jody.
I know who it is. She was my mother.
I know she was your mother.
She was the most beautiful woman in the world.
She was the love of my life.
She was the light of my love.
I know if she was still alive today, we'd be together.
Such a tragic accident.
The accident that cut her life short.
It wasn't an accident. She left a note.
Did it mention me?
Not much of a letter writer, your mother.
All right, Nicholas. Why don't we get started.
You can just take all this stuff and throw it in a box.
The paintings be careful of.
Especially this one and that one, and that one on the wall.
Be careful of all this stuff. It's all valuable.
Nicholas, I want you to have this.
This is an original Jackson Pollock.
He was a friend.
Oh, no. I couldn't.
No, I want you to have it.
Are you going to help move this stuff, since it's yours?
I wish I could, but I suffer from lethal phlebitis in both legs.
You be careful with those boxes. There's manuscripts.
Those are your friends?
I guess. Yeah.
A homosexual and a black pothead?
Well, good luck to you.
Well, I have to get to work now.
Do you mind just locking the padlock when you're finished?
Yeah. Wait. So you drive a taxi?
Well, it's an excellent way of learning about all different kinds of people.
And what is your vocation?
My vocation? Uh...
I've done lots of different jobs.
I always thought you'd end up a writer, like your old man.
Actually, I do write. You know, sometimes. I try.
Well, there is no such thing as trying to write.
One writes, or one doesn't.
You have to take every opportunity to practice your craft.
Anyway, I know you have inherited some writing talent from me, because I am a truly great writer.
I'm going to show you something.
I have a letter from Viking Press.
You've heard of Viking Press, haven't you?
Look at this. Look at that phrase there.
"Your book is a virtuoso display of personality.
"Unfortunately, its dosage would kill hardier readers than we have here."
"Virtuoso display," Viking Press.
Well, it's been a great pleasure, Nicholas.
Well, hey, uh...
You need anything? Aside from the Pollock?
All right. Well, au revoir, then.
Don't mention it.
Your father's a nightmare.
It's a fucking Jackson Pollock painting.
Jackson Pollock? Jesus!
Pollock spelled his name wrong when he signed it.
So then he gives me a gift, a Jackson Pollock painting.
Which, like an asshole, I think is real.
So after 18 years of wondering, here's what I learned about my father.
He's a racist, he's a homophobe, and he's fucking crazy.
Can you reach him? I mean, if you wanted to?
I don't know that I ever want to see him again. Really.
I don't know how I feel about it.
I can't really locate what I feel.
Is that why you called me?
To help you locate your feelings?
Do you want to get out of here? You look beautiful.
None of that. We're friends now.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed sleeping with you, but...
I told you I didn't want a relationship.
So, now we're friends.
Okay. Well, thanks for letting me know.
You should think about working at Harbor Street.
Well, I was in kind of a fucked state, mentally, when I started there.
Um, yeah, just, I like working there.
Tell me about your fucked state.
Do you want another one of these?
Hey, how are you? How's it going?
How did you hear about this job?
A friend of mine, Denise, works here.
So what makes you want to work with the homeless?
I don't know. Uh...
I mean, we are put on this Earth to help other people, right?
Someone I knew told me that.
Who? No one. Uh...
Look, I guess I just see homeless people everywhere.
It seems like there is more and more.
Seems like it.
I guess I just want a job that, you know, means something.
Something where I don't despise myself when I come home from work.
So you despise yourself?
I don't know. Uh, sure. Doesn't everyone?
I don't despise myself.
I used to be a guest here.
Then I worked here. I had a permanent bed.
And then I moved out.
I got a job in construction, became the foreman.
Then one day I came back here to give something back.
So I've come a long way up, but it's a quick fall down.
So I really can't afford to hate myself.
You know what I'm talking about?
You don't know what I'm talking about.
But that's okay.
Tell you what. I can put you on the fill-in list.
If we need somebody to fill in, we'll call.
Hey, so why do they call you Captain?
Because I'm the Captain.
Just bring it by right now.
Hey, they called from Harbor Street Inn.
They want you to fill in tonight.
There were different types of people who worked there.
There were the religious types.
I want to live my life the way Christ does.
Also, I hate my rich parents.
Hey, guys, can you bring those over here?
There were the punks.
Check in, sir, and we are gonna get you to the clinic.
This place is hardcore.
Plus, the pay is not bad. Next.
There were the ex-cons.
All right, next. So this dude was gonna shoot me, right?
So, I turned sideways, 'cause that is what you do.
You turn sideways, you take it in the arm.
I flex my bicep, I take the bullet.
And then I grabbed the gun from this guy, and I'm like bam-bam-bam-bam.
Right in his fucking head, then it's like click-click-click.
Let me tell you, I had to disappear for a while after that.
All right, put your arms up.
Joy was an ex-cokehead and a prostitute.
There you go, honey.
Now, she's like a mother to the guys.
Unfortunately, in a couple of years, she will be sitting in a room with a shotgun across her lap, back to dealing and smoking crack 24/7.
It's hard to stay changed.
I start out working inside the cage handing out bed tickets, collecting people's valuables and locking them up overnight.
It's Friday, payday. A lot of the guests have jobs.
There is more money to slip into the envelopes.
Let's go. Hey!
The air is thick, stale, smells like sweat.
Friday, the drunks are more boisterous.
Move up, old man! Why you always got to be touching me?
Because you are standing still, that's why.
Every single day, I get in line, and you're right up my ass.
Maybe I should help.
Yeah, maybe not. Not yet.
There is a balance between escalating and defusing.
Knowing when to step in, and when to back off.
Hey, buddy, calm down!
I don't know that balance yet.
Well? Are you able to locate your feelings now?
Yeah, this fucking hurts.
You are going to have a good shiner.
You didn't tell me this place was such a rush.
It's addictive. Watch out, or you will never leave.
So, how many of these people get back on their feet?
I couldn't tell you.
But what I do know is a year from now, 100-150 of the guys who come through here will be dead.
We catch them on the way down. Next stop, the morgue.
Hey. Steady Ray, as ever.
Jonathan, how are you?
So, I thought I might stay over tonight.
I find myself momentarily between places.
The thing is, Claire's mom is here. She's staying with us.
That is okay. I'll sleep on the couch.
No, that is where she's staying.
We are renovating the guest room.
Tell her to get the fuck off and let me sleep with her.
Is she nice?
Yeah. You met her?
Mother-in-law, mother-in-law Mother-in-law Hey, honey!
I mean, this wasn't because of the old burning-of-the-Christmas-tree thing, was it?
No. That's ancient history.
Exactly, because it was really funny. You got to admit, it was.
Yeah. That was a lot of fun.
Sure, all right. Well, okay, give Claire de Lune my love.
And I'm going to try Dugan.
He is always begging me to come over and provide some free entertainment for him and his miserable missus.
Dugan moved to Florida.
He did? Moved to Florida? Why the hell would he do that?
I don't know, the weather.
Oh, the weather.
Okay, looks like I'm going to head to my suite at the Ritz.
I'm sorry. Okay, Ray.
Good night. All right. Good night.
Take care. Give the lovely missus my love.
Don't forget to write.
Yeah, I'll write. In jail.
For the next few weeks I lived out of my cab.
Renting it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It's a wonderful life.
You shit at the bus station, you shower at the Y.
But it's not all fun and games.
Cabbies get shot in the head every night.
Bamo! Right in the jugular. Right in the fucking jugular.
I'll ram it down their throat and rip their insides right out.
The police said I hit someone, or some fucking thing.
What can I say to that?
Now, I have no license, no cab, no place to sleep.
Perhaps I'll start a new book, Memoirs of a Moron!
Memoirs of a fucking moron.
After the cage, I work housing.
It's more intense. You are not protected behind steel mesh.
Okay, grab a cup, have a good shower.
Hey, I'll meet you in the hot room in 10 minutes.
Okay. If I'm not there, just take your clothes off and start without me.
The hot room smells of superheated sweat, quick fermented.
I need a new pair of pants.
No problem. I'll be right back.
Hey, how do I know what size he wears?
You ask him.
At Harbor Street you write up every day's events in the log, and you read off your entry that night.
He's not gonna bite.
I take that opportunity to practice.
"9: 10, Isaac Clegg fell out of bed, and the bed fell on him.
"The skin of a drunk splits open easily, "their blood flows more freely, thinned out by the booze.
"The nurse is gone for the evening
"and Isaac is loath to go to the hospital.
"I make an attempt to bandage him."
I'm just gonna wrap this around you. You okay?
"9:30, I was able to convince George D.
"To sit still for his monthly de-lousing."
My beloved family, they beheaded me, their beloved Queen.
I loved them. They were my friends.
"Lice thrive so well on George's body
"that they can be seen crawling over him at 20 paces."
I would never hurt them.
I would never kill them.
Hey, it's okay, man. I understand, George.
But, I mean, they beheaded you, didn't they? So why not?
This is the right decision, George.
"Nothing in the shelter makes me understand my purpose more
"than to kill bugs off of a homeless man's flesh..."
Okay. All right.
Let's get you cleaned up.
"...to dress him well in donated, cast-off clothes, "and to see him the next day laughing beside a burning barrel."
Okay, Nick. Very expressive.
I like the stuff about Isaac being loath to go to the hospital.
How about we let the next person read their entry?
"10:00 p.m., fight broke out in reading area.
"10:30, Wally G. Caught smoking in bed."
Which I confiscated, by the way.
Lucky number 41.
Hey, what are you up to after work?
I thought we were just friends.
What's all this?
Just old letters.
Is this from your father?
He was in jail?
He passed forged checks in between writing the great American novel.
Are these all from your dad?
There's like a hundred letters in here.
Don't read that.
"Loaded, I say.
"Wasted, looped, lit, off my ass, befuddled, reeling, tanked, "punch-drunk, mean drunk, maintenance drunk, "sloppy drunk, happy drunk, weepy drunk, blind drunk, dead drunk, "serious drinker, hard drinker."
What is this?
Nothing. Some poetry. It's shit.
"Polluted, blitzed, shattered, zonked, "ossified, annihilated, fossilized, "stinko, blotto, legless, smashed, soaked, "screwed, blasted, "hammered, tore up, ripped up, ripped, destroyed."
No one will ever read it.
I just did.
Come back to bed.
What will you give me if I do?
Dear Mr. President.
The proper study of mankind is man.
Ortega y Gasset defined genius as the ability to invent one's occupation.
I am a writer, a poet, a storyteller.
The library will be closing in 10 minutes.
The library will be closing in 10 minutes.
If the present holds any promise of the years ahead, the United States can look forward to many generations of executives unable to spell their names correctly.
Yours, as ever, Jonathan R. Flynn.
Give me that. That's my personal property, you ape.
Tonight, I'm doing a little after-hours banking.
I'm depositing a check for $750,000, an advance for my novel The Button Man.
They're making a movie, a movie of my life.
They're making a movie.
Someone, behind the wall.
Who in living hell would want to make a movie about your life?
That would be one boring, redundant, piece of shit movie.
Here you go.
You have to take it outside, Eric.
Oh, what a pleasant surprise. Thank you.
Dawn of a new day.
I like that.
I'm going to write a poem about you, Dawn.
You are too sweet.
He's seen this before. Bums sprawled out from drinking.
But he has never actually stood over the blowers, let the hot air seep into his clothes.
The air is sucked out of the library.
Even on the coldest nights there is too much heat inside.
It's another prison, these blowers.
Because once you have landed, you can't leave.
Because one step off the blower is cold, hypothermia cold, now that you are sodden with steam.
The blower is a room of heat with no walls.
My father is an invisible man, in an invisible room, in the invisible city.
I really appreciate the help, sir.
Call me Carlos. Okay. Carlos.
So, Jerry, how many nights have you been homeless?
Just one night. One bad night with the wife, boy.
That is all it takes, one bad night.
You got that right.
What is up, Nick?
For the new guys, no bottles or weapons, okay?
All right, you're good.
Stretch your arms out for me, sir. Please? Thank you.
All right. Step up.
I'd like a room for the evening.
You want a bed?
That'll do for now.
Well, this is a pleasant surprise.
So, you're employed here now?
Yes, I'm employed here.
Well, I approve. We are put on this Earth to help other people.
You must be gathering some excellent material.
Hey. You giving out tickets, or what?
And if a private room does open up, I'd be grateful.
Hey, what's up?
My father is here.
What? My father, he's here.
He's staying here, he is a guest tonight.
Your dad is sleeping here. Your own father.
Nick, man, you are the unluckiest guy I know.
Thanks, Carlos. Just keep it to yourself, man. Please?
Hey, Nick. You feel like going home tonight?
Because your father is here.
So you heard about that.
Who else knows?
We are with you, man.
Maybe you could take the night off. You know, I can get a fill-in.
It's my job. I work here.
Come with me.
I thought you were staying at a friend's place?
A couple of things fell through.
I was bunking in my cab for a while, but that is no longer possible.
So I have been sleeping alfresco.
Alfresco? You mean outside? For how long?
Three weeks or so.
Don't look so grave. This is a great opportunity for me.
The opportunity to freeze to death?
The opportunity to see how the other half lives.
The poor, the downtrodden.
I'm doing the same thing here as you are, gathering material.
No, I'm not gathering material. This is my life.
Life is gathering material.
I like that. Help me remember that.
They won't even let me bring a goddamned pen up here.
Can't you do anything about that?
No. Don't you have any clout around here?
Well, anyway, my writing is going extremely well, by the by.
I'm already almost done with my revisions to Chapter 37.
Perhaps I'll let you read it someday. It's classic.
Okay, look, you can't stay here. Why not?
Because I work here.
Well, don't worry. This is only a very temporary situation.
I don't want to disrupt your life in the least.
I have a friend of mine who's begging me to move down to Florida.
He has a guest house and a job there for me.
Okay. Florida, that sounds great.
In the meantime, this is an excellent opportunity for you and I to make up for lost time.
Destiny has brought us together for one fleeting moment.
Let us not spit in its eye.
Thank you again, man.
And you know, let me know if that shit don't work out.
Let me know, all right?
Okay. We'll see you.
I mean, you could ask him to stay here for a few days.
No, he can't.
I don't even know if the Florida thing is real.
I hope so, for your sake.
Just weed, right?
You're only selling weed, right?
Yeah, just weed.
I'm just saying, he's your father.
I've had father figures.
All right, Nick! Keep your eye on the ball.
They were all burned up.
It's amazing what can happen to the human body, Nick.
Hey! What the hell are you showing him?
Hey, sweetie. What the fuck, Travis?
Pick that up! Come on, I want to talk to you.
I thought he was a little young to be driving a car.
You could have killed yourself. Get inside!
Thank you very much.
Have a good day. You, too.
My mom had a lot of different boyfriends, growing up.
Come on, buddy. Good job.
But I never had a father.
Luckily, I had a mother.
Hey, who you playing ball with?
Get your mitt.
Honey, I'm exhausted.
Let me get my mitt. Heads up!
Good one. Thanks.
I'll be right back. Okay.
You are not listening to me. I'm listening.
He stole $30 from me!
I understand that. Hey, Nick!
Jonathan asked me to give this letter to you, man.
So he's some kind of famous writer?
Yeah, that's why he's staying at Harbor Street.
Dear Nick, many deep thanks for your warm welcome.
I must say you seemed anxious.
Of course, writers, especially poets, are particularly prone to madness.
There exists a striking association between creativity and manic depression.
The only important thing, though, is to simply do the work.
It's not a sharp pain, it's a dull pain. I haven't eaten in two days.
Hey, straight through the back, down the stairs.
Most of these guys here are a bunch of fucking deadbeat panhandlers and pederasts.
These perverts, they wouldn't last a second in federal prison.
They are all homosexuals. I despise homosexuals, and they despise me.
I know what I'm talking about. I talk the straight talk.
I wasn't locked up in federal prison with choirboys, that's for sure. Next, please.
See this? Uh-huh.
Don't ever become a writer.
Just around the corner to the right, follow the hallway.
You know where to go.
Jesus. Hey, what happened to you?
You're fine? You should get to the clinic.
You should see the other cocksuckers. This is nothing.
By the way, I have a little gift for you.
From one writer to another.
Is there a tailor here?
I'm going to need a new coat.
All right, so I won't be there.
But I'll get there next time, okay?
You are not just selling weed, right?
Watch your hands. Watch your hands.
Why should a truly great writer be subjected to these fucking indignities?
There we go.
What are you doing? That's my property.
Come on, get out of here.
That's my property. That's my property.
Calm down. Calm down, now.
I'm going to transform this cesspool of a world.
I'm going to transform it with a fucking word!
You know, he is not going anywhere.
It's been weeks.
What do you suggest I do about it?
Get a job somewhere else?
Hey, you want to do some blow?
I despise blow.
Turns people into fucking scumbags.
But you go ahead if you want to.
12:30, Floyd Perkins reports physical altercation.
2:00 a.m., shift change. Brian gets permission to sign out.
7:00 p.m., Jon Flynn was caught trying to smuggle a bottle in tonight.
At first he was abusive, but he calmed down and was given a warning.
He wasn't put out for the night?
It's cold out there, man.
He asked me to give a letter to you.
Nick, I thought last evening at Harbor Street, waiting for 8:00 p.m. To come...
I thought if your very beautiful mother were alive, and if she could somehow see this scene, her son at work and his father a resident at Harbor Street shelter for the homeless.
The beaten, the sad, the losers in life's great game.
Jody would have laughed loudly at the entire macabre scene.
She was the most beautiful woman in the world.
She was the love of my life.
The light of my love.
If she were here today, she would be with me now.
to my face?
I'm only 28 years old.
Why do I look like this?
Excuse me? What happened to me?
What happened! What have you done to me?
What have you done to me?
He kept shouting at me that he was 28 years old, and it just... It kind of freaked me out, and I just...
What are you looking at?
Don't be sorry. Sorry for what?
That it freaked you out?
Wait until you have been here a few months.
Easy, Nick. Take it easy.
I am taking it easy.
This isn't me we are talking about.
No, it's not.
15, tables and chairs put away in the gym from overflow.
Did you read my last letter?
Beautifully written, wasn't it?
Don't write to me about my fucking mother.
Your fucking mother?
Your fucking mother? How dare you refer to her that way.
How dare you say, "How dare you," to me.
Well, let me rephrase it. Don't fucking write to me about my mother.
It only makes you sound childish using profanity like that.
Sorry, you don't get to patronize me. Okay?
You don't get to pretend to be my father and you don't get to write about my mother.
In fact, stop writing me at all.
Stop writing me letters.
You should save them.
They'll be worth money someday.
I have saved them, actually.
I have over 100. That's enough.
You saved them. Good.
You bring liquor in here again, you are barred. End of story.
Eano the Beano tells me you are into drugs.
Who the fuck is Eano the Beano? How would he know that?
Everybody knows, the word is out.
You know, if so, good luck to you.
But don't waste your talent.
I don't have any talent.
I find that hard to believe.
Why? Because you're so incredibly talented?
Okay, so where is it?
Where are you hiding it?
Can I read it? Does it even exist?
Do you exist, Nicholas Flynn?
Do you even know?
I, Jonathan Flynn, exist! I know that much.
Jonathan Flynn exists!
Shut the fuck up!
You shut the fuck up, or my son will evict you!
I want you to leave here.
Find some fucking place, some old drinking buddy who is suicidal enough to take you in.
I'm a sought-after house guest.
Yeah, because you're an excellent raconteur. Right?
Yes! Good night!
Remember something, Nicholas.
You are me!
You are me! I made you!
You are me!
I am not you! I am not you!
Yes, you are! Go to Florida!
You are me!
Shut the fuck up! Everybody, shut the fuck up!
I asked to fill in on the outreach van.
I can't stand to be in the shelter where my drunken jack-in-the-box can appear at any moment.
Hey, you are the guy whose father is a guest here, aren't you?
No. That guy is just a drunk.
A con man, he has nothing to do with me.
Yeah. No, of course not.
Okay, we're ready.
The hours are 9:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning.
Hi, I got a sandwich for you.
Hey, excuse me, sir, sorry to wake you.
I got a sandwich here.
You want to get inside?
"Jonathan Flynn responded to a guest's request that he share a can of deodorant
"with an intense verbal assault towards
"the other guest on racial and sexual themes.
"Mr. Flynn would not respond to intervention.
"In fact, he accelerated his verbal assault."
Are you okay?
Jonathan's a little out of control tonight.
"The SPO, Chris, Gabriel, and Brian, "escorted Mr. Flynn to the brown lobby wrapped in a sheet, "as he had refused to dress himself."
...my vision, The Confessions of Christopher Cobb.
My father rants... "In the beginning was the Word."
...piss on the floor unnoticed. ...Jonathan Robinson Flynn.
I was brought into this world to help other people.
I was brought into this world to write my masterpiece, and it's written!
We all need to create the story that will make sense of our lives.
I stood behind the priest and held his robe...
Make sense of our daily tasks.
...as he put the host on each tongue.
All the little girls lined up. Their tongues out.
Yet each night, the doubts return, howling through him.
Suck-o my cock-o!
You! You! Where is your faith?
Where is your faith? Without faith you are nothing!
You are nothing!
You are nothing!
I'm heading out.
Because you are drunk and I have to work tomorrow.
So do you.
I'm not drunk.
You're not going to stay over?
I'm going home.
I think, after what happened today, maybe you shouldn't be drinking.
What happened today?
Jon has created problems in housing.
He is not getting any better.
He is only getting worse.
I think it's time that we vote on whether to bar him.
I'm sorry, I don't think we should bar Jonathan.
We will vote on it.
Well, what day isn't fucked up?
Do you want to get out of here?
Sleep at my place?
You go ahead. I will see you tomorrow.
Okay? All right.
Who votes to let Jonathan continue to stay here?
It's freezing outside. We can't just put him out there.
I think you need to get some help.
You need some help.
What? Need help?
Nah, it wasn't your friends who trashed the place.
Have you seen my notebook?
I got to hand in an assignment.
Will you let me know if you find it?
If it were up your ass...
I'd know where it was.
Can I have a hit?
Smoke crack before? No.
Don't. I haven't left the pipe for three days.
Nick, I read your short story.
I'm sorry I read it, I don't mean to intrude on your privacy.
I have to tell you, you have always been so perceptive,
since you were a child.
Do you miss him? What?
No. Of course not.
The only person I give a damn about is sitting right here.
So then why are you crying?
I'm not crying.
Are you going to finish that?
This ice cream?
Am I going to eat it?
I went to the beach,
but I was unable to throw myself in the ocean.
I did the best I could.
I tried to hold it all together.
I love you and I love my dad.
Come on, you're good.
Right up the steps.
All right, Jonathan, you can't come in here. You have been banned.
I've been banned? Yes, for two months.
Who banned me?
It doesn't matter, you have been banned.
I have been banned?
Yes, you have been banned.
Does my son know about this?
Yes, he knows about it.
Where is he? It doesn't matter, you have to go.
Father murderer, where are you? I need you to leave.
Nicholas! Where are you? Come on.
Father murderer! Where are you?
Come on, guys, clear out. Come out!
Come out and face me!
What are you doing? What are you doing? Father murderer!
Jonathan. Come out! Come out!
Where are you hiding? In some little closet, sucking your mama's tit, father murderer?
I could have jerked... I could have jerked off and flushed you down the toilet.
Father murderer, come out and face me!
Face me, you father murderer!
Out the door, man!
Excuse me? We're done.
You look really fucked up, by the way.
I wouldn't let Captain see you like that.
Wait. Wait a minute.
Wait, don't just say that and walk away.
Talk to me.
I had a brother who was an addict,
my baby brother.
You never told me that.
So, I can't be around it.
Look, I'm not...
You're not what?
Not my father.
Do you think I'm my father?
I don't care.
I have to go to work.
Hey, so is your brother okay now?
If there is one thing I can't stomach, it's self-pity.
You, and you over there.
I work for the slave traders.
Get your rapid refund.
I'm a human billboard.
Get your fucking rapid refund.
I sell my blood, type O.
I haven't eaten in three days.
And so it goes.
It's frostbite fucking cold out here.
I'm losing my left toes due to not taking my shoes off at night.
It's all going in the book.
My masterpiece, Memoirs of a Moron.
Are we inside now, or out?
There is no inside, no outside.
I have to go to the bathroom.
No container, no contained.
What's up, old man?
What you drinking, anything good?
Got anything for me?
You think you are so fucking tough, huh? Come here!
It's a frigging riddle.
Hey, welcome. My name is Joey, and I'm an addict.
Hi, there. Hey, Joey.
It's good to see everybody here today.
And it's really good I'm seeing a number of new faces.
Actually about four or five of you.
It's always good to see new people coming into the room.
At this time, I'd like to let you know that we do have free coffee and cookies over there.
And I can testify about the goodness of the cookies.
I baked them myself, they are fantastic.
At this time, if you have something maybe that you want to talk about, something you want to get off your chest, go ahead and raise your hand. We would love to hear from you.
I was 11 when I got high for the first time, and it felt like I was home.
Well, I woke up one morning in Paris.
It took me a while to figure out that I was in Paris.
And I had completely forgotten that I had flown a 747 full of people the night before.
I was out of the hospital no more than three weeks.
And I stayed over my mother's house.
I couldn't take it anymore.
I doused my hand with lighter fluid and lit it on fire just to get the morphine.
I saw your father the other day.
He didn't look so good.
You know my father?
He is a hard guy not to know.
Your old man doesn't look good.
Someone should get him inside.
Well, you should get inside.
We can get you in somewhere.
He sleeps in the parking garage, right?
The other day Barlow and Ron were giving him a hard time.
Barlow killed a guy, 16 years in Walpole.
They shouldn't have let him out.
A guy like that.
Barlow and Ron lure your old man upstairs...
Hey, buddy. ...to the top floor.
Let's have a drink.
You want to have a drink with us?
Said they have a bottle.
When they get to the top, they grab him and hold him over the edge, upside down.
I told you not to come around here no more. This is Barlow's garage.
This is my garage, bitch!
He didn't drop him?
Said next time he'll drop him.
He's a freaking psycho, Barlow.
The manager kicks you out of this place 15.
The sign on the door says it doesn't close until 9:30.
How can he do that?
Is that legal?
You might want to close that window.
Last week a rat jumped into the van.
Hi, Moses. It's okay.
It's Nick, from Harbor Street.
You need anything?
You want to get in out of the cold?
Hey, you haven't seen Jonathan, have you?
No, not for weeks. Thank God.
You have to take it outside.
Hey, welcome. My name is Joey, and I'm an addict.
What the fuck are you doing here? Standing like some ghoul.
You're lucky I realized it was you. Otherwise, bamo!
Are you here in your professional capacity?
Scooping up bodies from the filthy streets to carry them to the Harbor Street palace?
A haven for homos?
I'm working tonight, yes.
Come on, what?
Come on, it's freezing out here tonight.
Freezing? I don't feel it.
So, they have come to me with their tails between their legs, huh?
You know what I say?
Up yours, Harbor Street.
You are still barred from Harbor Street.
I think I have been here before.
Yeah, I was mugged here once by a bunch of mother-raping drug addicts.
Christ, don't tell me you live here.
A fucking hellhole.
I'll have a vodka screwdriver, please.
There is no liquor here.
No vodka? No vodka.
Fine, it's evil shit anyway.
You know, I'm putting some money aside.
I'm going to get my life back together.
I got a friend in Florida.
He's got a job and an apartment, they're waiting for me in St. Petersburg.
You don't believe me, do you?
That's a terrible thing to say, you don't believe your own father.
I'm going upstairs, go to bed.
My roommates are away for the weekend.
You will be unbarred in a few days, so you can stay here for a bit.
Until you go back to Harbor Street...
Oh, no, I'm never going back to that fucking place.
Hey, don't drink in here.
You know, I have been thinking about your beautiful mother and her non-accident.
And I have been thinking, why would she do something like that?
Do you want a drink? No.
Oh, right. You prefer the other stuff.
I think I have a problem with both.
Oh, I feel for you.
It must be problematic.
The night she did it, she read something I wrote.
A story, she thought it was about her.
It was about a woman who works two jobs and tries to fit in a couple of hours between each to be with her kid.
She works as a bank teller.
She works as a waitress.
She comes home and waits on the kid.
I wasn't finished with the story.
I was going to write how the kid appreciated it, whatever time she had for him.
He didn't think she was a bad mother.
And he loved her.
She was all he had.
I didn't write that part.
I didn't get that far.
So that's the story you tell of why your mother killed herself.
I haven't told it to anyone.
You tell it to yourself. Those are the best stories.
It's a good yarn.
There is only one part that's horseshit.
No one kills themselves because they read a story.
I don't care how good a writer you are, you can't kill someone with words.
I have a theory.
The reason people commit suicide is because they don't like themselves.
I think it's a very reasonable explanation. Don't you?
You're familiar with the concept?
Of course, maybe the question isn't why she killed herself when she did, but why she chose to stick around as long as she did.
Anyway, my writing is going extremely well.
The book's classic.
And to answer your previous question, it does exist.
As do you.
Because of me. Because I made you.
I'm going to go to sleep.
The blanket's on the couch.
Hey! Hold on!
What are you doing? Where you going?
Where am I going? I'm going to my suite at The Ritz.
They are holding one for me just in case I ever want to drop by and use it.
I gotta get going. I'll be late for the slave traders, all the jobs will be taken.
Well, are you coming back?
Coming back where? Here.
Out of curiosity, why have you not ever asked me to stay with you before?
I thought if you try and save a drowning man you might go down, too.
A drowning man?
I'm not a drowning man.
I'm a survivor! An artist!
I'm not going to die out here!
I'm not your poor sensitive mother! I'm a survivor!
And you know what?
Luckily for you, you are my son, so you are one, too!
You are not your mother and you are not me, Nicholas Flynn!
I absolve you!
You are not me. I made you, but you are not me!
I'll see you again.
A few months after that I left Harbor Street.
Yo, it's the man.
I'll see you later, man.
All right. Be good.
I'm taking off.
Yeah, I heard.
Thanks. For what?
For the swift kick in the ass.
No more Harbor Street, huh?
I guess not.
What about you, you gonna stay here for a while?
Yeah. I'm not done yet.
I just wanted to say I'm sorry.
About your brother.
Take care of yourself.
I go back to school, finish my undergraduate degree, get my diploma.
I take a poetry workshop.
I work in Harlem and Crown Heights and the South Bronx, teaching.
In some schools, half the kids I work with live in shelters.
So, when Lucille Clifton says, "Her eyes are animals," what is that?
An image. An image.
Good, but what kind of image?
And what do you think she is trying to say about her eyes?
My father's letters follow me.
Nicky Nu-nu, you will be happy to know my writing is doing extraordinarily well.
Soon, very soon, I shall be known.
Within a year, Jonathan qualifies for an apartment, Section 8, subsidized.
Unbeknownst to me, some strings have been pulled by people I once worked with.
Just want to make sure it's you.
You never know what lurks in this neighborhood.
How are you?
Shake my hand properly. Give me a firm handshake.
Don't break it.
You're dressed, that's good.
Well, the place is nice.
This is my little paradise.
My little oasis.
My little home away from my little home.
Well, I'm impressed.
I'm very tranquil, I'm peaceful...
Pretty soon he launches into a familiar flurry of hate speech.
...young girls being raped, day and night, by these bastards, these pederasts, these fucking priests, these cretins, these homos.
Believe me, I know all about it.
I wasn't locked up in federal prison with choirboys, kiddo.
Interstate transportation of stolen securities, that was the charge.
The checking business brought to you by the great Dippity-Do Doyle.
If I didn't do what he said, he would have killed you and your mother.
Believe me, kiddo.
I have trouble focusing, I consider leaving quickly, but I will myself to stay.
My job was to enter the banks and open an account.
I was the only one able to finesse my way in.
The secret? The secret?
Always go to a female teller.
A black? Forget about the fucking blacks. Low fucking morale.
Go to them? I couldn't get on fucking first base with a black teller.
It's early in the month, so he hasn't gone through his disability check yet.
This means he has been drinking.
...good Russian vodka. Not that rotgut crap.
Uh, no thanks.
You got some new teeth. Yep.
Courtesy of Uncle Sam. Best dentist in the world.
Here, I brought you something.
What the hell is this?
It's a book of poems.
I wrote it.
Actually, it's getting an award.
An award, from whom?
From Penn. Penn.
Are they giving you a pen?
Is it dedicated to me?
Am I in it?
There are some poems that refer to you.
Oh. Let's see.
"I'll bend each finger back Until the bottle falls
"Until the bone snaps
"Save him by destroying his hands"
Do I detect a touch of hostility?
I'm doing a reading of it tonight at a book store.
You can come, if you would like to.
All right, all right.
I'm going to let you read it.
Your book? Yeah, The Button Man, also known as The Confessions of Christopher Cobb.
You mean it actually exists?
Of course it exists.
Where the fuck is it?
It's somewhere here.
Give me a hand here, look in these boxes. Look for a blue folder.
I think I may have it here.
Yeah. This is it.
Here it is, part one.
This is part one? How many parts are there?
12. Eight are in existence.
"Clink, clank, clunk. I think that I am drunk."
Don't read it here, for Christ's sake. That part's a musical.
I will read it right away and get it back to you.
Don't steal anything.
I read his book in one afternoon.
It's a masterpiece.
I read your poems.
That one about the gun is heavy.
Of course it's an inherited quality.
If you didn't write well, I would be surprised.
For 30 pages it shows promise.
Then like his life, it soon falls apart and dissipates into incoherence.
His manuscript is incomplete.
As far as I can tell, the only completed book about my father would be the book that fell to me to write.
Me, my father's un-credited, uncompliant ghost writer.
I've been in touch with Little, Brown.
They are doing my book. Four million dollars in advance.
Little, Brown said my book's a masterpiece.
Everything I write is a masterpiece.
"The eyes of the action hero cut from the poster
"All that concrete pressing down
"A fine edge gleams around your body
"As if it could be contained
"The way each finger is licked, dipped in and rubbed across the gums
"Until the teeth go away
"Even my hands kiss you
"A night broken down into grains
"If you find yourself lost, dig
"A cave in the snow, quickly
"You need shelter against the night
"A candle could keep you alive
"The engine of your lungs will heat the air around you
"Someone will miss you
"They will send out dogs
"You must be somewhere, right?"
There you go.
Thanks. Thanks for coming.
Uh, he's here.
Jonathan, this is Inez. Inez, this is Jonathan.
A very great pleasure.
It's good to meet you.
And this is Maeve, your granddaughter.
Would you like to hold her?
Uh, that's okay.
No, he can hold her.
I have held babies before, Nicholas.
Yeah, I see.
All right, Nicholas, you can have it.
I bequeath it to you.
You have the last word.