Terminal Love

Terminal Love
A Romantic Drama and Love Story

LOGLINE

A bitter sweet and tragic love story between two terminally ill cancer patients who meet and fall in love at their clinic.

PITCH PARAGRAPH

SONNY PULLMAN was an orphan and has lived a hard life on the streets. ALLARA WILLOUGHBY is an unfulfilled, wealthy, high society heiress with no friends. What these two battered souls from opposite sides of the tracks have in common, is the absence of true love and incurable brain tumors. After meeting in a clinic, they finally discover the true meaning of life and love, all the while doomed to certain death, until an experimental medicine appears to work wonders but only for one of them.

TREATMENT

ACT ONE

Scene opens on a beautifully painted wall of a dingy building on an industrial city street corner near an airport. The intersection is bustling with hookers, junkies and the faded neon glare of liquor stores and porn shops. In front of the mural, a petty drug deal is underway between the grungy, late-thirties graffiti artist SONNY PULLMAN and what appears to be college students. Just as money changes hands a big black car races up screeching to a halt meters away from the deal. SONNY and the college students freak, as two big GANGSTERS spring from the car shouting and waving their arms in the air.

SONNY barrels down the street and around a corner with the GANGSTERS in tow. Clearly in bad physical condition, the GANGSTERS are well behind in the chase. Once out of their sights SONNY attempts to open car doors frantically searching for a place to hide. He eventually finds an unlocked, old beater and ducks inside. Moments later, one GANGSTER insists that he can’t go on, so they stop to take a break and to have a cigarette. As chance would have it they stop and lean against the same car that SONNY is hiding in.

While listening to the GANGSTERS conversation we learn that SONNY is in deep trouble with their boss THE LORD, who wants him taken ‘out of the picture’ permanently. Upon hearing this and without warning, SONNY is struck by an extremely violent seizure of some kind causing great pain in his head. Struggling to open a container of pills, SONNY drops what appears to be the very last one as it bounces away into the darkness. Uncontrollably, SONNY vomits and coughs. Having heard a faint sound, one of the GANGSTERS snaps to attention. At that moment a low flying plane roars overhead with a deafening sound. SONNY takes the opportunity to scour the area eventually finding and eating the mysterious pill which calms him almost instantly.

After the plane passes, the GANGSTERS contemplate what they thought they heard, only to be interrupted by a cell phone call from THE LORD, ordering them to get back to business. The GANGSTERS leave and SONNY is safe for the moment.

The next morning, SONNY is awakened in his bed at Mission Institute Of Medical Research by his nosey and mischievous roommate OLIVER HARDING, a heavy-set young twenties. Oliver says he knows SONNY was once again out after curfew. He threatens to tell the good DR. BURKE of SONNY’S late night exploits. SONNY, in turn threatens to kill OLIVER, however OLIVER quickly points out that he’s dying of cancer anyway and SONNY would likely be doing him a big favor.

Just then, voice on a loud speaker summons SONNY to DR. BURKE’S office. While waiting for the doctor SONNY takes a look in the doctors desk drawers. Finding a beautiful lighter, he puts it in his pocket. Hearing the sounds of someone coming in, SONNY jumps over to the window pretending to study something outside keeping his back to DR. BURKE who enters with a charming, well groomed young woman named ALLARA WILLOUGHBY. When DR. BURKE offers ALLARA a seat, she shyly nods then quietly sits on one of the chairs opposite the doctors desk. SONNY assumes the doctor is talking to him, so he rudely refuses the offer to sit and instead continues looking out the window, while rambling on loudly about how he knows the doctor wants to see him because he broke the rules again last night, sneaking out after curfew. DR. BURKE and ALLARA are completely confused by SONNY’S mellow dramatic confessions and at one point ALLARA bursts out laughing. Shocked, surprised and embarrassed, SONNY cautiously turns around to see the beautiful ALLARA, trying hard to contain her laughter and an angry DR. BURKE before him.

Dr. Burke excuses SONNY’S actions and instead introduces ALLARA as his new Support & Healing partner. Completely against the idea of having any sort of partner for any sort of reason whatsoever, SONNY greets ALLARA by calling her Al and then rudely stomps out of the office altogether.

Some days later, SONNY and ALLARA are in the recreation room. SONNY plays video games and ALLARA is knitting. SONNY tries to beat his high score and ALLARA attempts to make a sweater. At the peak of irritating each other, the motherly and overweight NURSE THOMPSON, late forties, brings a special delivery for ALLARA as well as chastising SONNY for smoking where it’s prohibited. Pretending not to care, SONNY can’t help but notice that the expensive looking flowers and gifts aren’t making ALLARA happy at all. While she reads the card it’s apparent that the sender, her Fiance CLARENCE, won’t make it to visiting day again. ALLARA clearly becomes angrier and angrier with each word she reads. At one point she completely explodes ripping the expensive orchids to bits, smashing the framed photo and tearing up the card, all the while shouting some nonsense about Clarence’s lack of adoration for her and his even deeper love for her family’s money.

Unable to do anything, NURSE THOMPSON lets ALLARA get it out of her system particularly as it’s common behavior for many terminal patients under mental, physical and emotional strain. Once calming down, SONNY is requested to escort his Support & Healing partner back to her room. Along the way, the two seem to bond and an honest friendship and open interest in one another begins.

ACT TWO

The scene opens during a typical group session. It is here that all of the patients interact and the motley crew of terminally ill characters is seen. There’s KARL JUBY, the most sick of the group. He’s hairless, extremely pale and frail, needing a wheelchair to get around. KARL has a wife and kids. Then, there’s SISSY EVANS, an attractive 17 year old tomboy with multicolored, patchwork hair. SISSY comes from a single parent household, has been sick for years and has never been kissed. SONNY’S roommate OLIVER HARDING is an overweight, greasy haired science geek with broken glasses. He dreams of finding the cures for Cancer and Aids. The 41 year old, religious fanatic MONA SHARI was a Nun before developing brain damage from her tumor. She connects everything to Jesus or the Devil. ALLARA WILLOUGHBY is a rich and upwardly mobile society type. Raised by her Grandfather, she’s never had any problems excluding the brain tumor she now has. She’s never had a real friend. And street thug SONNY PULLMAN never knew his mother or father. Growing up in orphanages, he’s led a hard and desperate life. He volunteered for the clinics experimental drug testing program in order to get away from gangster boss, THE LORD and has nothing to live nor die for. He sells his medical marijuana rations for money and likes to paint and gamble.

During today’s group DR. BURKE poses the question of Morality. MONA then contributes the idea of the Afterlife. It’s clearly a hot topic and everyone disagrees with her view that there is indeed a heaven and a hell. A particularly interesting viewpoint is that of scientist-wannabee, OLIVER. He views the body as a purely organic machine and claims everyone in the group is the owner of a malfunctioning device or organism. He’s devoting himself to repairing those machines. SONNY on the other hand, considers these treatments a complete waste of time and energy since they’re all dying anyway and they all know it. During group, it’s apparent how much DR. BURKE and SONNY don’t see eye to eye on anything at all.

Group comes to an end with NURSE THOMPSON’S sharing the blood cell count reports. A statistic which determines how each patient is responding to their medications and also how much supervision and freedom they are entitled to having during their treatment. ALLARA’S blood cell count figures are disappointing and DR. BURKE decides she’s not permitted to join the others on the weekend outing. This creates tension with SONNY and DR. BURKE, such that SONNY refuses to take part as well.

Instead, SONNY convinces ALLARA into sneaking out and ignoring her curfew. She agrees and they both set out to explore the world around them. SONNY decides to take ALLARA into the city where he’s from. ALLARA’S never seen this side of the inner city and is amazed at all the cultural differences and activity. Along the way SONNY shows her where he first kissed a girl, where his first fight took place, where he got caught cheating at poker and the location of his first arrest. He ends the journey showing ALLARA his favorite original graffiti murals. ALLARA impressed, captures each with her cell phone’s camera.

ALLARA admits never having done anything bad or illegal before. She says she’s always wanted to steal something. SONNY offers to teach her how to make a 5 Finger Discount. They go into 3 different shops and SONNY steals something each time effortlessly. ALLARA is charmed and swayed and begins to open up to him. Entering the forth shop, SONNY tells ALLARA it’s now her turn. I need a razor, he says. ALLARA is completely nervous when attempting to steal one. She’s learned from SONNY to take two packages at one time, walk around the store and remove the razors from one box only, and return the other box as if you changed your mind about buying it. Though extremely tense and nervous when walking past the cash register, ALLARA successfully executes her 5 Finger Discount. The two celebrate in the middle of the street by high-fiving and an awkward embrace occurs. Later, SONNY takes the razors and sells them to a street merchant for five dollars. He explains to ALLARA they cost fourteen dollars in the store and about eight or nine bucks on the street. ALLARA comments on SONNY’S entrepreneurial spirit.

All the fun is unexpectedly interrupted by the GANGSTERS spotting SONNY. The chase is on. SONNY leads ALLARA through a virtual inner city maze of shortcuts, alleyways, and nooks and crannies momentarily losing the GANGSTERS. ALLARA spots the GANGSTERS and surprises SONNY by removing her hat and jacket ,letting her hair down and wrapping her bare arms around SONNY’S neck. She kisses him deeply and passionately as the GANGSTERS run by and out of sight. The kiss continues on well beyond necessary.

Later the two appear to be uptown. ALLARA’S world. When asked about the GANGSTERS, SONNY explains that he not only owes THE LORD $5000, he’s also been selling pot on THE LORDS turf, which is not allowed. He says that since he knew he was going to die anyway, he went to Downy Street and sold his soul to the devil, never intending to pay back THE LORD. But somehow things are different now, he says. Sonny admits to having aspirations of being a successful artist with his own gallery someday. He’s never been in a gallery before. ALLARA decides to make it happen but knowing they’ll never get past any respectable gallery’s doorman looking like they do, she takes SONNY shopping. Reluctantly, SONNY agrees.

Looking and feeling quite dapper in their new partner-style fashion, ALLARA and SONNY arrive at an exclusive art opening in a private car with driver. Entering the event they are met by dozens of envious eyes. SONNY gets uncomfortable but ALLARA explains to him that they are obviously the most interesting couple in the whole place. As they walk around SONNY is amazed at the art and even more impressed with ALLARA’S knowledge of every piece and the artist that made it. ALLARA introduces SONNY to a curator as one of the big pop-art talents to watch out for. The curator is very pleased to see ALLARA WILLOUGHBY, whose family contributes a lot of money to the art society and thus pays exceptional attention to SONNY. ALLARA sends the pictures she’s taken from her cell phone to the curators computer. The curator is genuinely impressed and coins the name for SONNY’S personal style, “3Drafitti” due to his graffiti art’s depth of field. SONNY pretends to understand the curator’s bloated and over complicated descriptions of his work which later, ALLARA tries to explain.

One evening ALLARA and SONNY go to her Grandfathers dinner party at ALLARA’S home. WARNER and GERTY WILLOUGHBY, his third wife in her late thirties, are the epitome of rich and refined. SONNY and WARNER clash immediately as SONNY attempts to shake hands in a very ‘pedestrian’ fashion. Confused even as to how the handshake is executed, WARNER retreats and searches for something to wipe his hands with. ALLARA jumps in with some snappy comment discharging the awkward moment.

During dinner, not only is SONNY confused about how to use the silverware, he is clearly not the least bit aware of his obvious displacement. Eating as if being at McDonalds, SONNY attracts the attention of everyone at the long, rectangular table. GERTY engages in light conversation with the two asking how they know each other. SONNY replies that they met at the hospital. Oh, you mean at the Resort, GERTY quickly counters in a tone loud enough for any listening guests. ALLARA plays along. Yes, at the Resort, she confidently says. SONNY, about to comment in contrary, gets a kick under the table from ALLARA. SONNY’S an artist, belts ALLARA to change the subject. Well then that explains everything, scours WARNER. At this point WARNER talks in high praise about CLARENCE. It’s clear that he’s the perfect man for his Granddaughter and the future of Willoughby Enterprises, the company that ALLARA will inherit. SONNY sarcastically comments that he can’t be so great if he’s not here now nor ever visits ALLARA at the Resort. And so goes the rest of the dinner.

After dinner ALLARA wants to dance. SONNY admits he’s never tried it before but he’s seen enough movies. The two dance wildly when compared to the reserved and boring dancers around them. A slow love song suddenly plays and the two get close and begin dancing arm in arm. SONNY comments sarcastically about the Resort lie, prompting ALLARA to explain that no one in the society knows she’s sick, as that could negatively influence the company’s stock values and would of course make the Willoughby’s far less than perfect, wouldn’t it? Besides, she’s quite sure they’ll find a cure before it’s too late. Money can buy everything.

They both appear to be glowing and happy. ALLARA tells SONNY she thinks she is falling in love with him. I hope so because I am falling in love with you too, says SONNY. Neither has been in love before, so they are not sure. They look as though they want to passionately kiss. SONNY makes his move but ALLARA subtly stops him. I want to but not here. Not now, she says. SONNY looks as though he’s going to cry and without warning, he starts trembling viciously and looks like his head is going to explode. He coughs and vomits on ALLARA’S beautiful dress and shrieks in great pain while slowly falling to his knees. The snobby onlookers do nothing to help. Someone comments that SONNY must be drunk. The majority of the guests ignore the entire scene altogether. Panicking, ALLARA knows she must find SONNY’S pills. She takes them from his jacket and gives him one. She waves a servant over with some water and helps SONNY to drink. She helps SONNY get on his feet to leave as step Grandmother GERTY approaches them. ALLARA glaring at GERTY says sarcastically thanks for your help Grandmother, as ALLARA stands there in anger and disgust at her so called High Society. In that moment realizing that she’s not at all like them, she is reborn. She removes the beautiful blonde wig and throws it at GERTY hitting her in the face, revealing short, dry and patchy mousy brown hair.

Later in the car, SONNY is sleeping on ALLARA’S lap. She appears to be in deep thought. Snapping out of it, she instructs her driver to go to the infamous Downey Street.

ACT THREE

Scene opens at the clinic. ALLARA and SONNY are having an intense meeting with DR. BURKE. They both look extremely unhealthy. He expresses his disappointment in their constant reckless behavior yet praises their lust for life and offers them an opportunity to test a brand new drug. He warns them both of the dangers involved. They agree to do it together. Later in private, as a declaration of their love, SONNY and ALLARA promise to live or die together. No compromises.

At Family Day, having no visitors of their own, ALLARA and SONNY sit high above watching the event below. ALLARA explains that her Grandfather is away on business with CLARENCE and how much she hates her step Grandmother GERTY, who isn’t much older than she is. SONNY argues that nothing should be more important than ALLARA to them. Meanwhile, they notice KARL and his beautiful family. KARL appears to be barely holding on and both ALLARA and SONNY agree that he probably won’t see his family many more times.

Weeks later, the first reports from the new drug’s testing shows a slight improvement with SONNY’S white blood cells. SONNY admits he’s been having fewer seizures lately. ALLARA however, has no positive change.

SISSY and ALLARA have become very good friends during the treatment. ALLARA is like a big sister. The two of them are talking about boys and trying to find the right one for SISSY’S first kiss. They discuss what it would be like kissing girls as well. SISSY’S not sure if she’s a lesbian, bisexual or straight. ALLARA says there is only one way to find out and suddenly gives SISSY a big kiss. SISSY decides she likes boys and they both laugh.

Weeks later, the next reports from the new drug’s progress is somewhat remarkable, yet again, only for SONNY. ALLARA’S blood cell count has actually gotten worse and DR. BURKE is concerned. SONNY can see the disappointed and fear in the eyes of his new girl friend. Later, SONNY privately talks to DR. BURKE in a very respectful way never seen. He asks that the future progress reports remain private and explains why with great emotion. Reluctantly yet very moved by SONNY’S reasoning, DR. BURKE agrees.

At a secret Group meeting everyone is present except DR. BURKE and NURSE THOMPSON. KARL is explaining to the group that he plans to kill himself. Not surprisingly, everyone is on his side including MONA. She just thinks someone else should give him the drugs so he’ll not burn in hell for all eternity. Of course, SONNY volunteers for the job. KARL wants to have a farewell party the actual night he chooses to die.

SONNY is having a very difficult time dealing with his new healthiness. He admits to DR. BURKE that he’s been faking to be sick to make ALLARA feel better. DR. BURKE says the secret will remain with him and explains that he only expected to extend their lives at best but it now appears that SONNY will actually recover from his illness and it’s nothing short of a miracle. ALLARA remains terminal, he says. She will appear to get better and then she’ll get worse and worse until the end he warns. SONNY asks how long she has left. DR. BURKE does not want to say for ethical reasons but he’s aware how much the two patients love each other. He tells SONNY at the current growth rate of her tumor, she could die in 18 months give or take. It pains the doctor to also inform SONNY that he has to leave the clinic soon due to his good health.

Later, ALLARA’S condition seems to have improved greatly and SONNY continues pretending to be ill, going as far as keeping his hair short, wearing makeup and even forcing himself to vomit on occasion. Believing that she is recovering, she’s more worried about SONNY than ever. She brings up the day they made their pact to die together. She admits to now having the lust for life for the first time in her life. SONNY knows she’s going to die and doesn’t know how to respond. ALLARA asks that they cancel the pact. She wants to have SONNY’S baby and live on to raise their child. She says she can’t imagine living without SONNY but having their child would be the best thing she could ever do if SONNY does not survive his medical treatment. SONNY agrees to end the pact. He desperately wants to tell ALLARA the truth and even tries but she insists upon making love at that moment for their first time. SONNY tells her the next day and ALLARA leaves him feeling manipulated and betrayed.

Soon after, ALLARA’S Grandfather dies unexpectedly and ALLARA is the Heir of their family fortune. Accepting her fate, she decides to leave the clinic to deal with the funeral and business proceedings. ALLARA officially breaks up with CLARENCE yet offers him an important position with the company as her Grandfather would have wished. GERTY tries to fight the ruling since having received very little from WARNER’S will, claiming that ALLARA’S not fit mentally nor otherwise and will die soon anyway.

Meanwhile, it’s time that SONNY has to leave the clinic. He says goodbye to his friends, some of whom will likely pass in the next year or sooner. He visits DR. BURKE and it’s clear how the two of them have become friends over the course of the treatment. Before leaving, SONNY returns the infamous lighter he once stole. I wondered when you were going to give that back, jests DR. BURKE.

While on the street looking for a job one afternoon SONNY unexpectedly comes face to face with the GANGSTERS. Before he can run, one of the GANGSTERS holding a wrapped painting says, Hey kid, THE LORD sends his regards. They get in their car and drive away. SONNY stands there completely baffled. In front of him is a small art gallery and a help wanted sign in the window. SONNY gets his first job.

One evening SONNY is in the gallery apparently preparing for his very own exhibition when ALLARA walks through the door. She looks quite okay but they both know that she’s not. SONNY’S art series is a tribute to their love as he shows her some finished pieces. Both of them clearly want to make up. ALLARA also explains that KARL’S party is the following night and she knows everyone would like to see SONNY again.

The party is an extreme combination of sadness and joy. SONNY is particularly moved by the bad physical condition of the others. KARL is unable to breathe completely for himself and talks and jokes around between oxygen doses. It doesn’t take long for everyone to bond again like they used to. SISSY is there with a date who kisses her often. SONNY has a gift for everyone. It’s a mural of the clique at their best. DR. BURKE, NURSE THOMPSON and Karl’s family leave at one point and the mood quickly changes. KARL says, it’s time. SONNY reacts strangely actually having forgotten the true meaning of the party. What’s worse, that he promised to help KARL do it. Having a new respect and perspective on life, he has a difficult time with this responsibility. In the end, he does it and KARL dies a peaceful death having spent his final moments with friends and family, exactly how he wanted to.

Following KARL’S death ALLARA and SONNY have a deep and emotional heart to heart filled with many tears. They know they have no future together yet SONNY wants to be there for her until the very end. ALLARA wishes for the same. ALLARA reveals that she’s pregnant with SONNY’S child and won’t abort it. She says if it’s not meant to be she and the baby will die anyway.

The following year SONNY is painting a wall. He looks inspired and happy in his work. A moment later SISSY and her boyfriend approach. Mr. Pullman, your lunch date has arrived she says cheerfully. SISSY is pushing a baby buggy. SONNY, happy to see them, looks into the buggy. How’s this little girl today, he asks humorously. SISSY, replies that she had a very good morning. Just then OLIVER walks by. He’s wearing a white medical jacket and carrying a pizza. He appears to have gained more weight. He stops and says hello to everyone. When you gonna make one of your own, he asks SISSY. Being Nanny to this one is enough thank you, she counters. OLIVER asks SONNY, we still on for poker tonight? SONNY reaches in the buggy and pulls out a beautiful and cheerful 1 1/2 year old baby girl. Looking at the baby he says, no because tonight it’s just me and LITTLE ALLARA here. Besides, you don’t need to lose any more of your money.

As the shot expands we can see that SONNY’S latest mural, a collage of scenes from the last 2 years, is part of a large, stately looking building with a hefty sign that reads The Allara Willoughby Disease Intervention Center.

THE END.

(Screenplay available upon request.)

C. Phillips – WGA ©2002-2014
325 Maria Court, Wilmington NC 28412
910.777.5055  Contact@PhillipsMediaGroup.net

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Stories by Bugsy Jones aka Kamary Phillips