Henry Fool (1997) Script

Here, you want some?

You're dead, motherfucker!

Where the hell have you been?

Mom! Come on and eat!

I'm not hungry. Then why'd I cook?

I don't know why you cooked.

I don't know why you bother.

Eat, Simon.

Come on over here, before I blast ya!

God, I wanna get fucked.

You okay?

See ya.

Get up off your knees.

Where do you have to go to get a six-pack of beer around here?

Say something.

She's mute.


Kiss my ass.


Fuck! Asshole!

Centuries ago, it had an "E" at the end.

Where do you come from?

Nowhere in particular.

I go where I will and I do what I can.

That's why I'm in trouble.

I'm sort of what you might call... in exile.

Why are you in trouble?

An honest man is always in trouble, Simon.

Remember that.

How do you know my name?

I am not retarded.

Yeah, well I'll take your word for that.


I mean...

They think...

You know.


I see.

Here... take this.

And, uh... this.

Keep them with you at all times.

You ever feel like you got something to say and you can't get it out, stop and write it down, okay?

What are these?

My life's work.

My memoirs.

My confession.

What have you done?

I've been bad.


But why brag?

The details of my exploits are only a pretext for a far more expansive consideration of general truths.

What is this?

It's a philosophy.

A poetics.

A politics, if you will.

A literature of protest.

A novel of ideas.

A pornographic magazine of truly comic book proportions.

It is, in the end, whatever the hell I want it to be, and when I'm through with it, it's gonna blow a hole this wide straight through the world's own idea of itself.

They're throwing bottles at your house.

Come on, lets go break their arms.


I don't want trouble.

Once, I forget where I was...

Central America maybe, somewhere hot.

Stupid job, bad pay.

Dangerous location, and water so foul the natives wouldn't even piss in it.

This crowd of drunken motherfuckers, hired by the local drug cartel, shows up at my hotel room and threatens to tear me limb from limb.

And I say...

Listen, hombres.

Okay, you got me outnumbered here four to one, and you're gonna kill me here tonight, and not a soul in this dimly lit world is gonna notice I'm gone.

But one of you, one of you... one of you is gonna have his eye torn out.



I repeat myself.

One of you poor, underpaid jerks is gonna have an eye ripped out of its socket.

I promise.

It's a small thing, perhaps, all things considered.

But I will succeed.

Because it's the only thing I have left to do in this world.

So, why don't you just take a good look at one another one last time... and think it over a few minutes more.

And then what happened?


...here I am.


After all.

Did you throw up all over some girl?

They were throwing bottles at the house, you know.

She's got some ex-con in there she met at the bar.

Tattoos all over himself and a big, red, bloated nose.

Did you take your pills?

You want me to tell her to be quiet?

What's the use?

She might as well get it while she can.

She's not always gonna have the ass she has now, you know.

That's just how life is.

Good morning, Simon.

Glorious day, huh?

Here, have a donut.

Can you lend me $20?


Where's the library in this scruffy little burgh?

Down the highway about a mile and a half.

Then make a left.


I'm polishing up the final chapters of my confession.

And I need a reasonably well stocked...

...reference section.

I thought, um...

I was...

I wanted to...


Can I take this?

I'll correct the spelling.


Simon, who did this to you?

I was gonna tear out their eyes, and I knew I could do it.

Whose eyes? I told them.

I told them, like you said, and I knew I could do it.

You should take him home. He smells like a toilet.

Mr. Fool... what is this?

It's poetry.

Are you sure?

Of course I'm sure.

I corrected the spelling myself.

It made my daughter sing.

Keep still. Let me do it!

Fine, you do it, Simon, I don't care.

Mom! Simon's got a broken rib, a dislocated shoulder or something, and he won't let me disinfect the gash in his head!

Fay, just take him to the hospital, will you?

But he won't go!

Simon Grim, you go to the hospital with Fay right now, you hear me?

We gotta talk.

What the hell were you trying to do when you wrote this thing?


Well, you know you wrote it in a kind of iambic pentameter.

Iambic what?


Look, in my opinion, this is pretty powerful stuff.

Though your spelling is Neanderthal and your reasoning a little naïve, your instincts are profound.

But the whole thing needs to be given a more cohesive shape.

It can be expanded, followed through, unified.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Are you willing to commit yourself to this?

To really work on it?

To give it its due in the face of adversity and discouragement?

To rise to the challenge you yourself have set?

And don't give me that wonderstruck

"I'm only a humble garbage man" bullshit, either.

It hurts to breathe.

Of course it does.

Have a drink.

Do you find me attractive?


I look young for my age, don't I?

How old are you?

How old do you think I am?

You look young.

How young?

I don't know.


But how? I mean, do I look more like 20 or, you know, 30?


Listen, you geek, after a couple of drinks, plenty of people mistake me for 18.

Hey, Warren, are you a registered voter?

Bug off, Vicky.

"Saving America From Itself."

What the fuck is this?

It's everything you need to know about the upcoming elections and Congressman Owen Feer, and all the really good things he's going to do for our country.

Oh, yeah, like what?

He wants to win back this country for us Americans, Warren, and restore some kind of cultural moral standard to our way of life.

What time does your kid go off to school?


How about I come over to your house later?


I don't know Warren, I mean...

Come on.

Come on, I mean it.

I'm trying to change.

How dare you put something like this up where just anyone can see it?

It's poetry.

It's pornography!

The product of a diseased mind!

You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Deng.

You see, Simon... there are three kinds of there.

There's "there."


"There are the donuts."

Then there's "their."

T-H-E-I-R... which is the possessive.

"It is their donut."

Then finally... there's "they're."

T-H-E-Y apostrophe R-E.

A contraction...

...meaning "they're."

"They're the donut people."

Got it?


And, look, if you're gonna read Wordsworth, you gotta get a more up-to-date edition.

This odoriferous tome you're so attached to doesn't even have all 14 books of the prelude.

And you need notes, commentary.

I'll go to the library, and I'll get you the best edition they have.

Thank you, but that's okay.

I'll stop there on my way back from work.

From work? You can't go to work.

Well, yeah, maybe not today.

But, you know, tomorrow probably.





You need time to write, Simon, to study, to reflect.

But I like myjob.

A vocation like ours, Simon, is not a nine-to-five thing.

You can't put a fence around a man's soul.

We think and feel where and when we can think and feel.

We are the servants of our muse, and we toil where she commands.

Can I read your confession?

No... not yet.

Soon... we'll see.

Is it almost finished?

Well, you know, Simon, a piece of work like this, it's...

A vocation like ours, it's...

You can't put a fence around a man's soul.

What I'm trying to achieve, it... takes a lifetime, really.

It's a life's work.

But soon.

Don't worry. I'd appreciate your feedback.

I gotta go.

See ya.

What are you doing there, Simon?

I'm writing a poem.

So what? It's not so great.

That him?


Pardon me, Simon.

Look, uh...

I'm the editor of the high school newspaper now--

One of the editors.

One of the editors, and we--


I... wanted to know if we could print your poem in this month's issue.


Because I think it's great.

I don't. Who cares what you think?

Shut up. Jesus, you're a drag.

A well-known drag.


Ma, you take your medication?

Guess so.

Good evening, Fay.

What do you want?

I've got these library books for Simon.

Leave 'em there on the counter then.

Where is he?



Simon, you a registered voter?

This year, when you go to the polls, I want you to consider Congressman Owen Feer, he's...

He wants to restore America to its position of unmatched wealth, power, and opportunity, to, you know, revitalize American civilization and lead the human race to even greater levels of freedom, prosperity, and security.

He's a good man.



I know a man.

His name is Angus James, and he's a big shot in the publishing business.

Smart, adventurous, tons of integrity.

When the time is right, I'll recommend he read this poem of yours.

He'll respect my opinion.

That man was here again today looking for you.

A man? What man?

You know, that guy.

Why do they torment me like this?


They're like a bunch of fuckin' mosquitoes.

What do they want from you?

They want to suffocate me, Simon.

They want to extinguish me like a flame.


They're afraid, that's why.

They're afraid of what I might do.

What I might say, think.

They're afraid of my ideas.

You and I are alike in this way, Simon.

We are?

We're outsiders.

We think and feel too much and too deeply, and the world can't handle that.

Our mere existence is a threat to its illusion of security.

Sure, they'll name a wing of a new library after us when we're dead.

But now? Now, while we're alive?

Now, they wanna burn us at the stake.

Look, Simon...

I made love to your mother about half an hour ago, and now I'm beginning to think that maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

I mean to say that I think Fay may be jealous.

I don't want to think about this.

Bad move Simon.

A poet's got to be able to contemplate anything.

Am I really a poet?

Of course you are.

A great poet.

But you need experience.

You need to do something to be ashamed of every once in a while, for crying out loud.

Come on, let's go out.

Have you got any money?

That man's a bad influence.

On who?


Hey, Simon, wake up.

What's that? It's a computer.

You write on it.

Here's the manual.

Where'd you get it? I stole it.

Now listen, remember how yesterday we discussed the relative desirability of cadence in relation to the readability of form?

Oh, shit! Not you again.

Simon, I cannot work under these conditions.

Yeah! Get out of here, you freak!

Get a life! Eat shit and die, Henry!

Beast! Fiend!


Oh, shut up, Mom.

I am not a rapist.

Shit, come on, this way.

Keep a look out.

What's going on? Shh...

What's wrong?

I doubt.

So, you're an honest man.

Why beat yourself up about it?

I don't know if there are grounds for faith.

Is my vocation relevant?

Does it make a difference?

A difference in what?

The world, the way it is.

Is this a way to help relieve suffering?

Your vocation makes a difference.

How can you be so sure?

Because vocation is the difference.

Only someone who really cares, doubts.

Listen, Father.

Have you got any money?

Let's go have a drink.

Excuse me, miss, are you a registered voter?

I really don't know.

Well, I'd like to give you some information about Congressman Owen Feer.

This man is gonna make a big difference in the lives of every American in the coming years.

Pardon me, sir.

Fuck off! Right.

What time's your mother get off work?

Fay... are you a registered voter?

Don't you dare talk to me that way.

And keep your hands off my brother.

Pearl, what are you doing here?

I'm watching her.

You and Vicky get back together?

I got a regular job now and everything.

I saw this retard on TV this morning.

He's gonna be the next President of the United States of America, Fay.

Keep dreaming, Warren, the guy's a Nazi.

I like him.

Give me a light.

He's a decent man.

He takes complicated issues and he totally simplifies them, and I appreciate that.

You still sell dope?


You know what the problem with this country is, Fay?

Me, I'm the problem.

We live in a culture of poverty and crime, where the work ethic is undermined.

And male responsibility is made irrelevant.

Come on, Pearl.

Let's go play at my house.

If she gives you any trouble, just let me know, Fay.

What do you mean you quit?

I quit myjob.

Why? There are things I want to do.

Like what?

Opportunity will step out of the way to let a man pass it by.

Are you drunk?

Now you have to go out and get a job.

I'm not getting a job.

Who's gonna look after Mom?

I will.

If you treat Mom like a sick person, she's gonna stay like, you know, a sick person.

Mom can't be left alone with no one to keep an eye on her.

Well, who's been keeping an eye on her while you've been out getting fucked by every OTB winner in town?

Simon... what are you doing here?

Henry, your parole officer came by again today.

He told me to tell you that if you don't call him they're gonna put you back in jail.

Simon-- He wants you to call him.


He was talking to Mr. Deng, too.

And, well, you know, I was thinking...

Simon, just shut the fuck up!

Forgive me.

Forgive me, Simon.

Look, do me a favor.

Do you have a library card? Yes.

Check this out for me.

Milton, 17th century, English.

You see, Simon, it's important my confession dig up the past.

Comb previous evidence and help chart the historic, even the aesthetic inevitability of my ideas.

This place is crawling with chicks, Simon.

Wander around, leer a little.

Cop a feel. Impose yourself on them.

Now, listen, I gotta go.


What did you do?

I got caught.

How are you, Henry?

Peachy. Gimme a light?

Have you found a job?

How about those Alcoholics Anonymous meetings?

Have you gone over to visit them yet?

Whatever happened to that assistant librarian position you were supposed to set me up with?

I tried, Henry... I really did.

So what happened?

Henry, with your background, well...

I mean, your record... they didn't think it would be right to have you at the neighborhood library.

Why not?

They thought you'd be a bad influence on the kids.

Or worse.

So, my word is not enough.

My promise worthless.

The fact that I have served my time, nothing but the emblem of my continuing guilt.


What's up? Nothing.

I'm creating my resume.

This computer's got a program especially for it.

I bought some special stationary, too.

It's scented.


It's roses.

Can you... type my poem into that thing?

That's your poem?


Simon, Mom's right about you.

A poem is supposed to be a kind of small, delicate kind of thing.

Kind of feminine, gentle.

Look at this, you made a fucking telephone book.

I was caught.

Yes, I was caught, once.

I was caught in flagrante delicto, screwing a 13-year-old girl named Susan.

She was an ugly and mean-spirited kid, but she knew how to play upon my weaknesses.

Which I admit...

...are deep and many.

You appear shocked.

It was a pathetic little conspiracy.

A transparently desperate attempt to discredit me and my ideas... to label me a mere pedophile.

As if I'd be ashamed of such a thing.

As if Socrates himself hadn't been taken out of circulation for corrupting the youth of Athens.

Seven years.

Seven years for one afternoon of blissful transgression.

But then what of it?

Who cares?

Prison's not so bad.

Particularly if one's a sex offender, free from the popular and conventional horror of sodomy.

They were not lost years.

I put them to good use.

I began my major work, my opus.

Believe me, Simon.

This incident with the girl, prison... pales to insignificance in the wider context of my career.

Nothing in comparison to the day my confession is unleashed.

We are told not to judge, but to forgive.

Not to look into our neighbors' eye to find the bad, but to find the good.

Now this is difficult, I admit.

But having a good friend isn't always easy.

Yes, I... see.


I mean...

Do you ever think that... that Henry is... dangerous?

He needs help.

Our help.

Yours especially.

The best parts of himself come to the surface when he's helping others learn.

I've seen this.

Let yourself be taught.

Show your appreciation for his guidance.

In this way, you know, perhaps, well...

There's hope for everyone.

Even... even Henry.

The greats all say the same thing.


And what little there is to be said is immense.

Or, in other words, follow your own genius to where it leads without regard for the apparent needs of the world at large.

Which, in fact, has no needs, as such, but reallyjust moments of exhaustion in which it is incapable of prejudice.

We can only hope to collide with these moments of unselfconsciousness.

This divine fatigue, this...

Push over!

As I tried to make plain in Paris, Nous savons que nous avons chute, parce que nous savons qui nous sommes.

"We know we have fallen because we know who we are."

When were you in Paris?

That's beside the point.

But did they listen to me, of course not.

You okay, Fay?

No, I'm not okay.

Your poem brought my period on a week and a half early.

So just shut up! Everybody, just shut up!

Simon, can I have your autograph?

Go ahead. But never let yourself be flattered.

So what about this friend of yours, hot shot?

The publisher. Who?

Angus James. Yeah, Angus James.

How about sending this poem to him?

Because it's not done yet.

When's it gonna be done, Simon?

I don't know.

Well, you ought to be home writing instead of hanging out over here with all your groupies.

Hey, I'm not a groupie.

Pardon me, swivel hips. Is this your laptop?

The thing to do is to send parts of it to different magazines and literary journals first.

That kind of thing. You know, substantiate it.

What's "scatological" mean?

Filth, child. A preoccupation with excrement. Why?

That's what the Board of Education called Simon's poem yesterday.


Hello? Yeah, I'm listening.

My name is Edna Rodriguez, and I write the human interest column for "The Queens County Examiner," and I was just wondering if I could have a word with Simon Grim?


You can't talk to him, you know, too long or anything

'cause he's gotta, you know...

He writes all day.

That's all he does. Can you believe that?

Simon! Get down here!

Simon, Edna.

She's from the newspaper.

Simon, the Parents Association at the local high school is calling your poem pornography.

The teachers are defending the students' rights to exercise their critical tastes and sensibilities.

The county agrees with the church and considers the poem emblematic of modern society's moral disintegration.

How do you feel about these controversial reactions to your poem?

Simon, answer the woman.

I need my prescription filled.

Mom, Edna. Edna, Mom.

Mrs. Grim, what was Simon like as a child?

We all thought he was retarded. Everyone did.

Never said a word. Masturbated constantly.

Had no friends. Till he met Henry.

"Dear Mr. Grim...

"We here at the magazine consider ourselves

"and the publication open-minded and cutting edge

"and have consistently printed the work of the most brilliant

"and far-seeing young talent of the day.

"Every week we are forced to return writing

"which we cannot for one reason or another publish

"and include a brief but polite refusal.

"But this tract you've sent us demands a response as violent as the effect your words have had upon us."

"Drop dead.

"Keep your dayjob.

Sincerely, The Editors."

De gustibus non disputandum est.

"You can't argue with taste"?

About taste. You can't argue about taste.

God, Simon.

The other 25 are almost as bad.

I don't know why I bother.

What do you mean, you don't know why you bother?

You bother because you know the poem is excellent.

Do I?

Of course you do.

I'm not so sure sometimes.

Can you sit there, look me straight in the eye, and tell me that you don't think this poem is great?

That it is not at once a work of great lyrical beauty and ethical depth?

That it is not a genuine, highly individual, and profound meditation on the miracle of existence?

I... Can you?

No... I can't.

So, you see, you have no choice.

Can you recommend it to your friend the publisher, Henry?

Can you recommend the poem to him?

Uh, that might not be as easy as it seems.


Well, it's been a long time.

My name might not carry as much weight as it once did with Angus.

But, he's your friend, right? We were close at one time.

You said he respected your opinion.

Look, Simon...

Opinions come and go.

To be honest... my ideas, my writing... they have not always been received well, or even calmly.

They're upsetting. I'm a... controversial man.

You see, what I'm doing is too radical.

Too uncompromising.

It'll take time for people to see its value.

It's ahead of its time, perhaps.

Or maybe just...

A recommendation from me might do you as much harm as it does good.

Henry, why can't I read the confession?

Because certain work needs to be experienced all at once in order for one to appreciate the full force of its character.

Simon, wake up. The guy's in a dream world.

He's afraid that his reputation will prevent people from giving my work an honest chance.

His reputation as what?

As a writer. Gimme a break.

He's kind of like an exile, marginalized on account of his ideas.

If he's such a great, big, fat genius, why doesn't he write books, like you do?

He has. He's written a book. It's nearly completed.

He's been working on it for years. It's just not published.

Yeah, I bet.

It's probably disgusting.

It's a quite serious and difficult piece of work, apparently.

Have you read it?

No, not yet. Soon.

Certain work needs to be experienced all at once in order for one to appreciate the full force of its character.

Yeah, well, whatever.

Listen, Simon, forget Henry.

Go straight up to this Angus James character yourself and make him read your poem.

I'm gonna apply for a job at the One Hour Photo joint, then go over to the mall and see about a job at the bank.

Make sure Mom takes her pills.

See ya.

Please... don't stop.

That was nice.

Yes, it was nice.

But it was unremarkable.

Does that matter?


It does.

I'm here to see Mr. Angus James.

Hi, I'll take that.

Aren't you the messenger?


Well, then you must be here to fix the plumbing.

I'm here to see Mr. Angus James.

Are you?

The book as we know it, Angus, will be a thing of the past within the next few years.

Novels, articles, newspapers will all be downloaded onto our personal computers anyway.

So, you're telling me to get out of the publishing business?

No, but we've got to reinvent the publishing business for the electronic age.

I'm sorry to disturb you gentlemen, but, Angus, there's a particularly wound-up young garbage man out there who seems to have written a poem, a long poem, and I recall how at last months' meeting you stressed the need for us to be on the lookout for more marginalized verse from unestablished quarters of the American scene.

Did I say that? Yeah, you did.


Well, okay Laura, make an appointment, for sometime next month.


So anyway, how is the digital revolution going to help me sell books?

Why can't I see him now?

Because, he's a very important man, and, well... you're not.

Be reasonable.


I don't think people are going to prefer reading books on television, Steve.

It's not television.

It's interactive.

Angus, look we have a number of charts here.

In every home in America, the PC is gonna be where the TV used to be.

And it'll be a direct connection to all forms of media.

An unprecedented transformation in American social life.

We'll all become better informed, more literate, increasingly productive and, uh, well, like I said, we have a number of charts.

I'm sorry to disturb you again, gentlemen, but, Angus, I'd like to call security for this one.

Though, before I do, I wanted to ask you just how marginal the as yet undiscovered voice of American poetry should be?

Pretty damn marginal, I'd think.

Downright controversial, probably.

How's he strike you?

He's been denounced by his local board of education.

Oh, I read about him in the paper.

He hangs out in a delicatessen somewhere and writes pornography.

Hello, and why do you think I should take valuable time out of my busy schedule to read this?

Because it's a masterpiece.

Really? Yes.

Are you hearing this? He's adorable.

I wouldn't want to waste your time. No, I'm sure you wouldn't, and I appreciate your being so straightforward.

Thank you.

I assume you can take straightforward criticism?

Just say yes.


Get him a coffee, Laura.

Have a seat, Mr. Grim.

Hold my calls for the next half hour.

What about Steve? He doesn't drink coffee.

Steve, do you drink coffee? Angus, listen to me...

Henry, put those magazines back.

I'm just looking at the pictures.

It's not good for you.

I learn so much from these magazines, Mr. Deng, and I refuse to discriminate between modes of knowing.

And you can't smoke in here anymore.

Why not?

It's the law.

This place is losing all its charm, Mr. Deng.

Business is good.

The kids, they hang out all day, drink coffee, talk about art, and read poetry.

It's just a fad.

These kids today, they're just slaves to fashion.

This is really quite unbelievably bad, my friend.

I mean, I'm all for experimentation, and I've made a career out of a healthy disregard for convention, but... look, this is profoundly irrelevant material.

Now, this is only my opinion, but it's one I value highly.

Good night, Laura. Call Norton Press so that we're still on for tomorrow.

Now, I may have been wrong before as a publisher, but I refuse to admit that I've ever been wrong as a reader.

Now, you have talent, I admit.

You have a certain innate sense of the musicality of language.

A good ear, maybe.

But you do nothing significant with it.

And this twisted reasoning that poses as conviction or insight... it's... well, it's embarrassing.

Why did you bring this thing to me, anyway?

A friend of mine spoke of you.

He said you had a lot of integrity.

Yes, well, of course I do.

But I'm not crazy, am I?

Who is this person?

Do I know him?

His name is Henry Fool.

Never heard of him.

I remember Henry.

He used to be the janitor here.


Come on, Mr. Deng, how much do I owe you?


That can't be right. And so what? My credit's good.

Hey, Warren!

You got a couple of bucks I can borrow?

Listen, Henry, I want to remind you to vote this Tuesday.

Ah, yes, of course.

When noble minds shrink from the task of leadership, scoundrels will rush in to fill the void.


It's every American's right.

A blessing.

Yet another opportunity to save America from itself.

Anybody home?



Got any cigarettes?

Let us pray.

Lord, grant that peace be within reach for our friend Mary.

May the pain and confusion she endured on Earth be fought through in the afterlife so that she may enter the Kingdom of Heaven and live in the light of God.


So I was a janitor, so what?

But Angus James said he didn't even know you.

Well, I mean we weren't like bosom buddies or anything.

We used to talk sometimes.

In the elevator, in the mornings.

He said he liked my ideas.

Being a janitor is a good job if you're a writer.

Especially the night shift.

All that time to think and develop your ideas.

Do it.

Anyway, he hated my poem.

What the hell does he know?

He wouldn't know a vital piece of literary art if it came up and bit him in the leg.

To hell with him!

He's not the only publisher in the world, you know.

But nobody likes it.

It's true, a prophet is seldom heeded in his own land.

Remember that.

Do it.

Hey, look... treasure.

What is this?

Brass maybe, some kind of copper.

It's a ring... jewelry.

I think it's a gasket.

A fitting from that old 'frigerator over there.

Hey, Warren, I found Pearl wandering around by the garbage dump.

We lost.

Who lost?

Congressman Feer.

Oh, well, you know somebody's gotta lose.

What's the fuckin' use?

You make sacrifices.

You try to be a decent human being.

You try to contribute something meaningful to society.

And they lose to a bunch of cultural elite liberal fuck-ups.

I don't give a shit anymore.

People deserve what they get.


What happened to you?

He's a good man, Henry.

Nobody's perfect.

I guess not.

He's terribly disappointed.

Thanks, she gets scared.

And you don't?

I love him.

Where's the beer?

No more beer.

Coffee, espresso, cappuccino, café au lait.

Carrot juice, herbal tea.

Give me a double espresso and a jelly donut, Gnoc.

Do you mind paying?

My credit's no good here anymore.

Did you go to the employment agency today, Henry?

No, I didn't, but it's okay.

Simon's gonna get me a job on the garbage truck.

Listen, I'm a little concerned about your friend.


Yeah, it seems he gave an obscene note to a girl in the library.

Get out of here. When?

I'm not sure.

Bunuel, this is obviously a love letter.

We've had complaints.

Where'd you get it?

She posted it on the Internet.

Oh, the slut.

She was trying to warn other girls about a potential rapist.

Is all this true about the Internet?

About how you can get pornography on it?

Yeah, sure, it's a serious problem.

You can send dirty pictures and everything.

On the Internet?

Yeah. No kidding?

I'll see you on Thursday, Henry.

Gnoc, gimme another one of these double espressos to go, will ya?

Hello, Fay.

Go away.

You gotta get out of the house, Fay.

You can't blame yourself for not being here.

You did all you could for her.

Is there something you want?

Have you got the Internet on that contraption?

Yeah, so what?

Look, Fay... about, you know, between us, what happened...

I don't want to talk about it, Henry.

Type a part of Simon's poem onto the Internet.


Go ahead.


Why not?


Come on, Fay, it's a great idea.

I don't know if Simon would want us to do that.

Sure, he would.

Just the first ten verses.

I don't know...

He'll thank you for it later.


Did you see him?

He came by this afternoon.

Did you talk?


You've gotta tell him, Fay.

He thinks I'm a slut.

Simon, I don't feel so good.

What's wrong?

I feel all kinda clammy and damp.

How many of these did you have?


Henry, we have to talk.

Can I use your toilet?

Fay's taking a shower.

How much do you think I can get for this?

Henry, Fay's pregnant.

Fay's pregnant with your child.



Oh, Henry.

Oh, Henry.

I, Henry, take you, Fay, to be my wife.

I, Henry, take you, Fay, to be my wife.

And do promise before God and these witnesses...

And do promise before God and these witnesses...

To be a loving and faithful husband.

To be a loving and faithful husband.

In plenty and in want.

In plenty and in want.

In joy and in sorrow.

In joy and in sorrow.

In sickness and in health.

In sickness and in health.

For as long as we both shall live.

For as long as we both shall live.

Bless, O Lord, this ring, that he who gives it and she who wears it may abide in your peace and continue in your favor until their life's end.

Whom God has joined, let no man separate.

Where'd you get this?

It's all over the Internet.

They're even talking about it on the TV news.

There's a man from the radio station over at the World of Donuts and a story in the newspaper about some kids burning down a school near Boston.

It all started right here in Queens, Jim, at the World of Donuts, about one year ago today, when local garbage man Simon Grim put pencil to paper and began to compose what many have come to regard as vicious, antisocial, and pornographic poetry.

This is outrageous!

Now, measures must be taken!

Have we debased our culture to such an extent that a garbage man with a head full of sick ideas is legitimately referred to as a poet?

And where the filth he spews can be accessed by any child old enough to turn on a computer?

Is this what we have come to?

Not the transmission of our highest ideals, but a cynical, atheistic delirium?

In the past three days, we have been treated to the usual parade of Philistines.

The posturing, the preening, the pomposity of the residual Puritan element in the American culture that rears its ugly head every time an authentic artistic voice comes onto the cultural scene.

I'm very attracted to what I feel is a authentically pungent and squalid element in it that I think is the authentic trashy voice of American Culture.

And moreover, I find the kind of imagery of rotten decay that is always symptomatic of any fin de siècle.

Meanwhile, in Rome today, the Pope issued a message of hope for believers in their fight against what he termed the godless and lost.

He did not mention Simon Grim by name, but offered a prayer for the young whom he described as sadly in need of faith and not the illusion of conviction offered by rock music, drugs, and contemporary poetry.

Also in the news today, the United Nations General Assembly vote--

God, Simon, you're like a total fuckin' rock star.

I'm willing to negotiate, Simon.

I know, it's just...

What? You've had other offers?

Well, yeah.

But... What?

Why have you reconsidered?

Because I think your writing will be tremendously successful.

But you don't like it.

It's growing on me.

What were the terms?

$100,000 in cash, up front.


70/30 split.

Well, that could be better.

But it is $100,000 up front.

Guaranteed money.

You could use that.

So, it's a good deal?

Of course it's a good deal.

So I should take it?


Try to get him up to 150,000.

I've let myself down, Simon.

I've let myself be caught in the bloody maw of banal necessity.

How did I get here?

How did this happen to me?

I'm going to be somebody's father.

I need time to think.

To write.

Time to finish my confession.

I can't work for a living.

Simon, it's impossible.

I tried once.

My genius will be wasted trying to make ends meet.

This is how great men topple, Simon.

Their hearts are in the right place too much of the time.

They get sidetracked, distracted.

How could I have been so careless?

Henry, please let me read the confession.

Angus James is convinced my poem is going to make him incredibly wealthy.

He'll read your book and seriously consider publishing it if I ask him to.

I'm certain.


I'll insist he publish the confession... or I won't let him publish my poem.

You'd do that?

You'd do that for me?

You saved my life.

Do you realize what you're saying?

I owe you everything.

Is it really that bad?


Maybe your expectations were too high.

Are you sure you're being objective?

You've read this?


And you want me to consider publishing it?

Yes. As part of our deal?



This book is... is really quite bad.

That's what you said about my poem.

I'm offering you a very real expression of my faith in your writing.

$200,000 and a 60/40 split.

But just exactly what is the nature of your faith in my writing?

Simon... you don't require my admiration.

You require my experience as a publisher.

And that experience leads me to believe that-- that your poem will make more money than any book of poetry ever published.

You'll never have to work again on a garbage truck, I assure you, or do anything else for that matter.

Whereas this...

The most I can say about this is...

The man is a scoundrel.

He taught me everything I know.


He encouraged all that was expressive in you to become manifest.

He inspired you to act.

He influenced your perception.

How about if my advance is only 100,000?

It isn't about money, Simon.

We could split the royalties, 70/30.

I will not publish Henry Fool's confession.

Now, will you sign the contact?

I'm gonna go get your coat.

Where is your coat?

I don't need a coat.

I'm gonna go get Mr. Deng's van.

Get in the car!

I want the front!

You gotta lie down! Get in the car!

When did her water break?

I'm gonna need a sonogram right away.

Get the fetal monitor on.

We're losing the heartbeat.

Sonogram, now!

Give her oxygen. Breathe.

What happened?

It's a...

It's a boy.

So, how did it go with Angus James?

Listen, Henry, Angus didn't like your confession.

Ah, I see.

Well, what now?

What do you mean?

Did he suggest changes?

No, he didn't.

I mean, after all, there are things I can do to make it more accessible.


I can soften up some of the language and make it read easier.

Take out some of the more intratextual references and popularize the underlying Sturm und Drang, so to speak.

I can change its mode.

Make it more of a conventional novel instead.

No, don't.

I appreciate your protectiveness Simon, but the integrity of the work gives it a durability that can sustain such things.

No, really, Henry, don't.

What are you saying?

That it doesn't merit revision?

I'm saying Angus James didn't like it.

Well, did you tell him what you think?

What I think doesn't matter.

Yes, it does.

You've got to use your influence with him.

I gave it to him to read, and he hated it.

What more can I do?

You can refuse to let him publish your poem.

I can't do that.

You said you would.

That was before I read your book.


I signed the contract.

Look, Henry, what did you expect?


I don't know.

Look, if I told you when at first I'd read it I thought it was no good, what would you have done?

I would have respected your opinion.

And insisted there's no accounting for taste.

Well, is there?

I don't know.

I didn't bring it to Angus because I thought it was good.

I brought it to Angus because you're my friend.

Oh, how perfectly enormous of you, Simon.

Look, Henry, I did it. I wrote.

I wrote poetry because you told me to.

I worked.

I worked while you just sat around and comfortably dismissed the outside world as too stupid, shallow, and mean to appreciate your ideas.

Is that such a priority?

Is that some sort of measure of a man's worth?

To drag what's best in him out into the street so that every average slob with some pretense to taste can poke it with a stick?


Maybe it is.

You must be pretty impressed with yourself, huh?

The all too obviously talented new man.

The important new voice.

You'd be nowhere without me, and you know it.

I'm leaving.

I saw you for what you were in the beginning, Simon.

I hold no grudge, and I'm certain you will, in time, leave some serious and small dent in this world.

The world is full of shit.

The world is full of shit.

It's true.

And you have to walk through it.

That's your part.

I'm sorry, but you're good at it.

Perhaps I'm not.

Perhaps I wasn't made to walk through shit.

Go on now... leave.

Do what you're good at.


What are you doing?


About what?



Henry, what did I tell you about bringing the kid in here?

Say hello to Patty, Ned.


How you doing sweetie? You want a Coke?

So, what'd you learn in school today, Ned?


Here, I'll teach you something.

How's that?

It burns. Oh, of course it does.

Now, see, that'll teach ya. Here, sip this.


I'm warning you.

That's it.


Hey, Fool, it's about your friend, what's-his-name.

Your brother-in-law.

What about him?

"The controversial and reclusive American poet Simon Grim

"has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

"The Swedish Academy, who will confer the award late next week, "praised Mr. Grim for works of great and difficult striving, "for the rendering of the desperate, the ugly, and the mundane, in a language packed with our shared human frailties."

God, they must be hard-up for geniuses to pin medals on because, listen, I gotta to tell you, when I first met that guy, he didn't even know what iambic pentameter was.

He's a fraud.

Keep a lid on it, Bill, you're out of your league.

Stir things up, so as to get in the newspapers.

That's his racket.

He's a great American poet, you dumb fuck!

Poet, my ass.

I could... puke all over a piece of loose leaf and be more profound than he is.

Come over here and say that, and I'll cripple you in three different ways, you boozed-up Philistine!


Listen, you degenerate, I've had about enough of this.

Ned, have you been drinking?

His throat hurt from smoking.

Henry, don't come home tonight. I'm warning you.

Don't come home at all, ever.

Marion fighting for a shot, instead gives it to Mack, who tomahawks it home.

Who's winning?


What's going on in there?

We gotta have rock and roll shows these days, Henry.

Poetry readings just don't pay the bills no more.

What did I tell you?

It was just a fad.

I told you that.

I told everybody.

Did you hear about Simon?

It was on the news today.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So what?

Nobel Prize.

Anybody can get one of them these days.

That's the problem with this world, Mr. Deng.

Nobody's got any standards anymore.

You seen Fay?

You better sleep in my office tonight, Henry.

She's very angry. You gotta let her cool off.

I can't sleep in there with all that racket.

Suit yourself.

What are you doing here, Pearl?

You want some?

Some what?


That's what my stepfather always says.


"You want some?"

People say you were once in jail for having sex with a girl my age.

You want some?

You ought to get outta here, Pearl.

I was here first.

Go home.

I can't go home.

Why not?

He beat her up again.

Is she all right?

Do you think I'm pretty?

Does your mom need help?

I'll suck your cock if you kill him for me.



What do you think you're doing, you idiot?


What are you doing in my house?

It's about Pearl.

Mind your own business, Henry.

Yeah, who the hell do you think you are anyway?

It is true your husband served seven years in prison for statutory rape?

Yes, it is.

And when was that?

That was, uh...

I don't know, 15, 16 years ago.

And when were you married?

We were married seven years ago.

Were you aware at all of the victim's relationship with his stepdaughter?

Pardon me?

The girl.

The daughter, Pearl.

She had been having sexual relations with her stepfather.

I didn't know that, no.

I'm just repeating what she said, Fay.

I know this isn't easy, but we need your help here.

The girl claims she asked your husband to kill her stepfather in exchange for...

Well, I guess the promise of sexual relations with her.



Where's Dad?

I don't know, honey.

Leave me alone a minute, I gotta think.



Is Dad in trouble?

Yes, Ned, he is.

He's in big trouble.

Now can you just be quiet for two minutes?


What do you want?

My uncle.

What's his name?

Simon Grim.

There ain't nobody here by that name.

Room 423.

Wait, this is postmarked five years ago.

What's he look like?

I'm sorry, kid.

I can't help you.

Promise me you'll be on that plane at 4:00, Simon.

I'll see you in Stockholm.

Look, Simon.

The world's a scary place.

I admit it.

But it's not my fault, I swear.

Come on, let's go!

You got a light?

I love you, Fay.

Yeah, well... tough.

Passport and ticket, please.

Thank you.

It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Grim.

Really, I mean, God.

Congratulations on the Nobel Prize.


I know all your work by heart.

It changed my life.

Yeah, well, look, thanks, but, um...

Oh, yes, of course.

You'll have to hurry, sir.

They're holding the plane for you on the runway.

This way, Mr. Grim! This way.

Please... we have to hurry.

Hurry, please, Mr. Grim!