Penance

by Mauricio Arnaud


INT. JOHN'S KITCHEN - DAY
INEZ(30's) washes dishes when JOHN (40's carpenter) walks
in the kitchen and pours a cup of coffee. He kisses his wife
and sits at the table.

INEZ
I made french toast.

JOHN
That sucks, I got new work
today...I got to go.

INEZ
Are we on for on Saturday?

JOHN
Let's see: Six pack, Doritos and
Dancing With the Stars. No! Oh,
and then they'll ask me for money.
Again!

INEZ
Come on!

JOHN
I'd rather do my taxes!

INEZ
He's your brother!

JOHN
I'm seriously considering a DNA
test.

INEZ
If you would only put yourself in
his shoes, then maybe you wouldn't
judge him so hard.

Inez brushes frenetically banging plates on the sink.
John rolls his eyes up, and takes a big bite.

JOHN
Alright! Alright!...It's just that,
they're very ugly shoes.

John kisses Inez before leaving.


2.

INT. CHURCH - DAY
John walks inside a church, a PRIEST (60's FATHER VINCENT)
greets him.
They both walk and examine the condition of the benches and
the confessional. The priest runs his hand on the distressed
wood.

FATHER VINCENT
They look tired and worn out. Many
years of use.

JOHN
And many layers of cheap varnish,
Father. They look pretty bad.

FATHER VINCENT
Well now you can restore them,
bring them back to life, like they
were when they were new.

JOHN
I'll get to it, Father.

JOHN nods, he grabs his toolbox and heads to work.

INT. CHURCH DAY - MONTAGE
He works on the benches. He sands the confessional. He
works inside the confessional.

INT. CONFESSIONAL - DAY
John fixes the window in the confessional.
He hears the door, he opens the shade, an old lady,
HELEN(70's), kneels across the window.

HELEN
Forgive me, Father, for I have
sinned.

John surprised doesn't know what to do.

HELEN
It's been 2 months since my last
confession.
(CONTINUED)



CONTINUED: 3.

JOHN
You made a mistake...

HELEN
Yes Father...I've
lied...I've...been disloyal...

JOHN
...no I mean...

HELEN
Father I've been unfaithful to my
husband.

JOHN surprised but amused hides his laugh.

HELEN
Father?

BEAT

JOHN
...say an Our Father.

HELEN
I'M CHEATING ON MY HUSBAND!

BEAT

JOHN
...and a Hail Marry?

The old lady murmurs her constriction prayer.

HELEN
"O my God, I am sorry for my sins
because I have offended You. I know
I should love You above all things.
Help me to do penance, to do
better, and to avoid anything that
might lead me to sin.
Amen"

JOHN laughs covering his face trying not to be heard. Before
he realizes what has just happened he sees someone else go
in.

LISA
Bless me Father for I have sinned.

John peeks and sees the beautiful young woman, he hides
back.
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)




CONTINUED: 4.

LISA (cont'd)
Yee..es?

LISA
It's been 3 months since my last
confession.

JOHN
Yes.

LISA
I've been with my boyfriend.

JOHN
Go on.

LISA
We are not married father!

She starts crying as John stalls for a second.

JOHN
How old are you?

LISA
17, Father.

BEAT

JOHN
Do you...wear protection?

Lisa cries.

LISA
Wha...what?

JOHN
Do you know when you'll recover
from a pregnancy? IN 18 YEARS AND
9 MONTHS!

LISA
...What?

Lisa leaves crying.


5.

INT. CHURCH - EVENING
John peeks out, sees that the coast is clear, comes out of
the confessional and leaves the church.

JOHN
All in a day's work.

EXT. CHURCH PARKING LOT INSIDE JOHN'S TRUCK - EVENING
He get's in his truck, his phone RIIINGS! It's DAVID (40's
Johns best friend).

DAVID (O.S)
Hey buddy, I'm heading to the
"Cha-Cha". Wanna grab a beer?

JOHN
Amen!

DAVID (O.S)
So, I'll see you there?

JOHN
Hell yes!
John drives away.

INT. BAR - NIGHT
David sits at the bar having a beer, John joins him at the
bar.

DAVID
Hey bro!

JOHN
Hey man. How long since your last
confession?

DAVID
I'm Jewish.

JOHN
Right...I had the weirdest day?

DAVID
Why?
(CONTINUED)



CONTINUED: 6.

JOHN
You ever had complete strangers
telling you their problems.

VICKY (30's cute bartender) across the bar.

VICKY
All the time! Hey John what can I
get you?

JOHN
Hi Vicky, Corona please.

DAVID
Vicky, I'll take another one of
those.

JOHN
Well I'm doing some work at the
church the one on 3rd by my shop
right, and I'm working in the
confessional, when this sweet
little old lady comes in...

TRANSITION
Vicky brings the drinks.

JOHN
It's too much, man...Cheating
grannys, clueless kids. These
people are so fucked up!

David and Vicky stare at John in disbelieve.

DAVID
Really? These people? Next time I
need some empathy and forgiveness,
I'll know where to go.

JOHN
Oh, fuck off!

JOHN (TO VICKY)
What are you looking at, you
hear that shit everyday. You said
so!

VICKY
Yeah but, I don't judge them,
that's why I get tips.
(CONTINUED)




CONTINUED: 7.

JOHN
You wanna tip? Don't drink and
drive!

John grabs his keys and leaves.

 

INT. JOHN'S KITCHEN - DAY
Inez sits alone in the kitchen having coffee, John enters in
a hurry.

INEZ
So, how was it?

JOHN
It's hard work, I'll tell you all
about it later. Sorry babe, I have
to hurry, I hear the calling!

INEZ
John!

JOHN
Babe!

John walks back standing in the doorway, Inez throws him his
Lunch, he leaves.

JOHN
Thank you Lord for our daily bread.


INT. CHURCH - DAY
John walks inside the church, he looks up at the tinted
window, something in the air is different.
John stands outside of the confessional. There is no one in
the church. He looks around and goes inside again.

INT. CONFESSIONAL - DAY
John waits in the confessional when SEAN (young man in his
20's) enters agitated.

SEAN
Father...Father...

John sits and answers with a cynical smile.
(CONTINUED)


CONTINUED: 8.

JOHN
How long since your last
confession?

SEAN
I'm afraid, Father...

JOHN
Why what's wrong?

SEAN
I've been having...these awful
thoughts, Father.

JOHN
What?

SEAN
I'm afraid of what I might do.

The young man starts to cry, John gets nervous.

JOHN
It might be better if you come back
later...you see...I...

The kid starts to cry harder.

SEAN
WHY WON'T ANYONE LISTEN?!

JOHN
No you see it's just that... I'm
not really a priest...I was just
fixing this thing and...



INT. CHURCH - DAY
He comes out to explain but the kid is gone.

INT. CONFESSIONAL - DAY
John stands halfway outside the confessional looking
worried.
He's about to leave the confessional when he sees someone
enter the church. It's Inez, he hides behind the curtain.



9.

INT. CHURCH - DAY
Inez walks down the hallway to the confessional.

INT. CONFESSIONAL - DAY
He hears her footsteps. John nervously hides back, he half
closes the window. He hears her go inside the other side.

INEZ
Bless me, Father, for I have
sinned.

John tries not to laugh. He can barely see her, he grins
amused as he sits back hiding. He grabs his old rag and puts
it over his mouth and fakes his voice.

JOHN
Mh humm?

INEZ
It's been a while since I've been
to confession, Father.

Inez voice starts to break.

INEZ
Father...it's my husband...

John listens attentively.

INEZ
I don't think I can take it any
more...

He sits closer looking troubled.

INEZ
All he does is complain.
John sits with watery eyes.

INEZ
He changed into this cynical,
cruel, man, judging anyone at the
slightest thing, as if he's
perfect. I can't go on like this.
Father...I met another man...

John is at the brink of crying.
(CONTINUED)



CONTINUED: 10.

INEZ
...a caring, supportive
man, someone that accepts people
for who they are.

John muffles his cry.

INEZ
I met him 10 years ago, and I
married him, I also promised to
love him for better or worse...



INT. CHURCH - DAY
The priest opens the door to the confessional.

INEZ
SO JOHN, STOP MAKING IT WORSE!

John comes out surprised with tears in his eyes. There
stands: the priest, David, Vicky, Sean and Inez all looking
at him.

The priest goes inside his space as Inez holds the door open
for John, he goes inside and closes the curtain.

FADE TO BLACK
BLACK OUT

JOHN (V.O.)
Oh God, where should I begin?

THE END

 

Mauricio Arnaud was born in Mexico City in 1966. He has lived in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. In Mexico City he studied design, and created a furniture design and manufacturing studio, Sant Anooka. This took him into designing and developing architectural projects. He is also an artist and has just recently finished a directing program at UCLA.

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