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Act One

SCENE: Washington DC condo. Two young professionals are packing.

HARPER (thumbing through her closet): How the hell is anyone supposed to get into the spirit of the season when it's 80 degrees outside?

ALEX: Oh, come's just Thanksgiving. We'll be back in D.C. before the frost is on the National Christmas tree.

HARPER: The secret to wintering in the south is that you have to look like you're wearing winter clothes without the weight of winter clothes. I recommend layers in very light fabrics - a silk shirt, a gauzy scarf.

ALEX (carefully folding khakis and button downs into his carryon): Silk shirt, gauzy it.

HARPER (tossing cutoffs into her suitcase): You're gonna love Poinsettia. And you're going to get to see me in shorts on Thanksgiving morning!


Music plays. Video montage of airplane flying, landing, scenes from New Orleans airport, Harper and Alex exiting airport.


SCENE: Delphine Parish, Louisiana. Harper is driving a car on a rural two-lane highway. Alex is in the passenger seat typing on his phone. Harper picks up her phone and speaks into it.

HARPER: Siri, call Will.

An extreme southern belle accent answers.

VOICE: Delahoussaye Associates

HARPER: Hi Amy Ray, it's Harper.

AMY RAY (voice): Hey Harper Lee! Are y'all here?

Harper side-eyes Alex. He's suppressing a laugh. She points at him as a warning.

HARPER: We're in the car. Are y'all closing the office early this evening?

AMY RAY (voice): Will's with a client now. We should be at your mama's within the hour.

HARPER: Great! We will see you there! (hangs up phone)

ALEX: I'm sorry...Harper Lee? Like the...

Alex makes a bird shadow puppet with his hands.

HARPER: The author, yes. Mockingbird. What'd you expect? My mama owns a bookstore for heaven's sake. She named us for southern authors.

ALEX: You never told me!

HARPER: That's not all. Our cat was named Eudora Welty and Daddy had two labs named Walker and Percy. My brother, Will?

ALEX: Don't tell me...

HARPER: Tennessee. Williams. Delahoussaye.

ALEX (laughs): Well at least she called him Will.

HARPER: Oh, no sir! He was Tennessee his whole life til he went off to college. He changed it to Will because he didn't think the Rebels fans at Ole Miss would much care for a boy named for Tennessee.

ALEX: That's an SEC football reference, isn't it?

HARPER (nodding): Indeed it is. Once he came home and opened his law practice Mama had to give in and start calling him Will. She'd probably stop calling me Harper Lee if I did the same, but there's not much call for a senator's chief of staff in Poinsettia.


SCENE: Poinsettia town square. Red brick building with white columns supporting a second story balcony. Sign reads "Sound & Fury Books"

MENETRE (running out front door): Harper Lee! Get over here and hug my neck!

HARPER (running toward her mother): Mama!

Alex stands by the car, looking unaccustomed to such displays of emotion from Harper. Or anyone.

HARPER (waving Alex over): Mama, this is Alex.

ALEX (extending his hand): Ms. Delahoussaye.

As if.

MENETRE (pulling him into an embrace): Son, that ain't how we say hello down here.

HARPER (mouthing to Alex): Sorry.

MENETRE: Well come on inside. I'm just about to close up the shop.

HARPER: Alex, can you grab the bags?

Harper and her mom walk toward the entrance and into the book store.

MENETRE (waving to a neighbor on the square): Did I tell you? Miss Melba sold her diner.

HARPER: What? No! To who??

MENETRE: Well she was ready to close it down altogether but at the last minute Joe Bell Lattimore gave his notice at the school and bought the business from her.

HARPER: I can't imagine town without Miss Melba's cheese grits. Who's the new principal then?

MENETRE: Don't know, but I know who the new football coach is: Beau Bergeron.

HARPER: Oh, my. Well if that isn't his life's dream - to live out his days in the Panther locker room.

MENETRE: Harper Lee, I won't hear an unkind word about that young man. He was so helpful to me around the shop and the house after your daddy died. I think he was sweet on you back then.

HARPER: Oh mama, Beau Bergeron didn't know I was alive in high school.

MENETRE: Well why would he? You never participated in anything - always had your nose in a book.

HARPER (gestures around the book store): And who's fault was that??!

Enter Alex, carrying bags, along with Will and Amy Ray

ALEX: Look who I ran into outside.They said they're related to you.


WILL: Hey, Sissy.

They hug.

HARPER: Mama was just getting me up to speed on the news around here.

Will side-eyes Menetre, than looks back at Harper.

WILL: Oh, yeah? What news is that?

HARPER: That Mr. Lattimore bought Miss Melba's place; Beau Bergeron is coaching the panthers.

WILL: Ahh, yes...that news. Always something big happening in Poinsettia.

AMY RAY (to Alex): Beau played for the panthers back when Harper was in high school.

ALEX (to Amy Ray): Ex-boyfriend?

AMY RAY: Oh no. Miss Menetre does adore him though.

WILL: How long are y'all staying then?

HARPER: We leave out Sunday.

WILL: Well that's not much time to...catch up.

HARPER (laughs): I think I just got all the news there is from Delphine Parish!

Will and Amy Ray exchange worried glances.

AMY RAY (to Harper): Well maybe Friday we can do some shopping around town? I mean, I realize y'all probably have all the best department stores in Washington but you know you can't beat the quality of handmade southern goods!

HARPER: Ya know what, Amy Ray? I think that's a great idea. Let's bring a little southern charm to our nation's capitol this Christmas!

Exeunt up the stairs to the home above. Fade to black.

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