1 int. Lan's apartment – day
PAN FROM ENTRY HALL TO LIVING ROOM:
PUSH IN TO SOLITARY FIGURE:
In a small, one bedroom apartment, LAN, a half-Vietnamese, half-American man in his 30s sits in the middle of a three-seat couch, his head down, long black hair obscuring his face.
Cicadas BUZZ outside, signaling the heat of summer, but there is no trace of that in this spartan apartment.
SLOW ZOOM TO LAN'S LEFT SIDE:
He sits, unmoving, seemingly staring at the floor as we hear keys JANGLE, a door SHUT, and bare feet THUMP from the apartment next door.
A JUBILANT VOICE is heard through the thin wall, female, young, intermittent LAUGHTER can be heard.
I know my neighbor. But she doesn't know me.
PAUSE ON LAN'S PROFILE:
She seems nice enough. Loud, young, twenties? Thirties? There is that college nearby. Does she go there? Does she work? I wonder what that's like.
We are given a short tour of the apartment, white tile, white carpet, white counters, white appliances. Spotless. Spotless and unused, as if this were a demo apartment for potential renters. Very few pictures. An older woman smiling, a family, a YOUNGER LAN between a taller GIRL, and an impeccably dressed MAN and WOMAN. The muffled conversation beyond the wall continues, but LAN doesn't move, only slow, measured breathing.
Who is she talking to? It can't be family, you don't talk to family like that. A friend? Maybe making plans for the weekend. What day is it, it's Thursday, right? Thursday the..
LAN struggles with the next words, as if he were a man out of time, stuttering even in his own monologue.
The.. twentieth. The twentieth? Three
months since then, that was a Tuesday,
May, June, July.. Wednesday?. It's a
fucking Wednesday, you moron, plans for the
We settle on a digital clock, 3pm, the LCD display blinks with each second as we notice that today is the July 23rd – a MONDAY.
EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING 2nd floor BALCONY VIEW – day
SLOW PAN FROM LAN'S DARKENED WINDOWS TO NEXT DOOR:
A new apartment next door, the sliding glass door wide open as a breeze wafts through the curtains. A slim, ponytailed girl goes about shedding shoes, socks, a jacket, seemingly wherever they land. This is SAYA, talking loudly on her cell phone to someone, smiling from ear to ear.
--I know, I'm SO happy to be back in my apartment. The summer break was so utterly BORING back home. My parents wouldn't let me do ANYTHING, not that I could either way with the part-time job, and don't get me started on my BROTHER. Ugh.
She falls backwards on her twin bed, bumping the frame against the wall loudly – against the wall between apartments. She winces and pauses her conversation for a moment to look at the poster-covered space.
Masc. Voice (v.o)
What was that noise?
My bed. It hit the wall. I hope I didn't
wake up the guy next door. Not that I
ever see him..
SAYA turns and lays back on the bed, even as a twin it leaves her with ample space. A shroud of doubt briefly crosses her face.
Hey, you were the one that helped me find
this apartment, right? Do you know
anything about the guy next door? 2D?
MASC. VOICE (v.o.)
Him? I don't know. The super mentioned he
had been there for six months or so,
but never saw him come or go, gets
deliveries, pays the rent on time.
Why, is he bothering you or something?
Mm-mm. I just.. I don't see lights on
under the door when I go past, or in
passing. What do they call them?
Hoarders? Hermits? Hermits.
Her gaze looks back at the wall, her brow visibly creased at the mystery of her neighbor.
MASC. Voice (v.o.)
Hermit. You think he's one of those?
Do you ever hear anything from his side--
The voice fades as everything is quiet except the BUZZ of the cicadas outside, droning on and on in gaining intensity..
SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. apartment building – door side – DAY, Raining
Torrential rain pours between us and the view of both of their apartment doors. Light spills from her frosted glass window, LAN'S is dark.
The TV murmurs in low tones as the couch is empty, an anchorman droning on about local news, and the storm above. Lan is stood in front of his freezer, looking at the packaged meals, pizza, ice cream, ready-to-heat, but not very healthy. Time passes, as it always does, he seems more gaunt, hair stringier than it was before. Lan closes the freezer, opening the fridge. It seems brand new, except for condiments on the door, and one or two takeout boxes. A tupperware with feminine writing on it sits unopened with home-cooked food – obviously not from here, or by him.
Some memory, not from recent times, comes flooding back to him and Lan's eyes start to well with tears. He shuts the fridge quickly and clasps both hands over his mouth, his gaze hardening against whatever feeling he's remembering, but it doesn't stop the tears. Rolling down his face and over his hands, he sniffs, but only briefly, any other air would have to come out and he was very, very afraid of the sound he would make should it escape. He tries desperately to rid himself of the memory, think in tech, think of news. It's going to get colder, you should look into getting a new graphics card. She's dead and gone and you are the reason why. When is the rent due? What has Travis been doing lately? How much sodium is in that frozen pizza? You could have done something, you piece of shit. I NEED TO ORDER GROCERIES, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME I CHECKED OUT NEW MUSIC STOP THINKING STOP THINKING PLEASE JUST STOP THINKING.
His eyes squint shut, hard, as if fighting the urge to vomit, nothing can escape. If you breathe you sob. If you sniff, you sob. Hold your shit in, you pathetic fuck. Stop. Thinking. Stop.
After a few minutes, his trembling hands release his own face as blood flows back into his cheeks and through his fingers, his jaw sore from gritting his teeth. Calmly, swallowing, he pulls off a piece of paper towel and rubs his eyes, finally okay with a slow inhale, shaky exhale. He blows his nose, turns away from the fridge and tosses it in the trash. He was safe for now. Safe. It crawls in slowly in the back of his mind, 'Safe, hah.'
Shoulders slumped, he makes his way back to the couch, sitting in front of the TV as the anchorman has moved onto presenting a shelter dog for the adoption of the week. In one ear, out the other, day by day.