The Soloist (2009) - full transcript

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez more than his face from a recent bike accident was his pressing need for story ideas. That is when he discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill, homeless street musician who possesses extraordinary talent, even through his half-broken instruments. Inspired by his story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about Ayers and attempts to do more to help both him and the rest of the underclass of LA have a better life. However, Lopez's good intentions run headlong in the hard realities of the strength of Ayers' personal demons and the larger social injustices facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Ayers must find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations to hope for a brighter future for both of them.



STEVE: "Points West"
by Steve Lopez.

A construction foreman
in Griffith Park
heard the crash.

Hey! Whoa!

STEVE: He saw a cyclist
cartwheel off his bike

and slam face-first
into the unforgiving
asphalt of Riverside Drive.


Good morning,
ladies and gentlemen.

As we begin our descent
into Los Angeles,

we ask that you please
be sure that your
seatbelts are fastened...

STEVE: A 911 call
brought out the troops
from Fire Station 76.

What happened?

You had an accident.

Do you know
what happened?

No shit,
I had an accident. What?

STEVE: I don't remember
any of this, nor do I recall
the cause of the spill.

Our batteries are off.

I've been in here
six hours now, and...

Listen to me.
Wait a minute.

We're ready to go...Hypochondriac.

OR 2.

was the closest emergency room,

and I quickly realized

that if you find yourself
there with nothing more
than a bump on the head,

you are one lucky Angeleno.


Oh! Wow.


I'm not entirely
comfortable with this.

Thank you.


You have no new messages.

You have no new messages.


STEVE: Okay.



STEVE: Doctors told me
to expect up to four weeks
of disorientation.

Ouch! Ooh!

Christ. All right.

STEVE: I'm not
asking for sympathy.

I just want you
to know, I just...


I'm not asking
for sympathy.

I just want you to understand
what's going on

if I start writing about
what a bang-up job Governor
Schwarzenegger's doing.

Scratch that.

Passe. Lacks context.


STEVE: Right.
So the question is...

Hey, Tommy.
Theoretically could I,

seeing as how the Governor
has retired

his position
at the muscle magazine,
could I interview him?

And will my non-Teutonic
lineage be an issue?

See, no, that's... That's...
It gets to be funny.
It's just an article.

Do I need to have
been on steroids
for a long time to even apply?


Gail, I like the "attention
must be paid" reference.

I might move it down
a paragraph, though.

Thanks. I'm getting
you a new desk.

Good morning, gentlemen.


Hey, guys. Check it out.

I got a study here
that says the number
of Americans under 35

who read a newspaper is
now down to 40 percent.


BERNIE: And the group
we're losing mostly

are college-educated women.Pull my finger.

CURT: Jesus Christ.Hey, honey.

"Welcome back, Steve."
That would have been nice.

Thank you. You know,
when Lopez and I
started out together...

You had to walk 20 miles to
school in the snow with no

...people cared about
what went on in the world.

Am I right, Steve?
I mean, Christ.

Back when people cared.

We're at war, and the only
thing that sells papers

is a Lindsay Lohan cooch shot.

Jesus, did someone actually
run that in print?

I thought that was
just on the Web.
CURT: All right, all right.

All I am saying is...I didn't see that.

...that if you run
an excellent,
if I do say so myself,

front-page piece about
how corporate America is
profiting from this war,

and the only reader response
you get is on two hands...

That was a good piece,
by the way.

Fine. Thanks.
You read it?
I read that.

Did you really?
I didn't read it,
but I loved it, Curt.

Meanwhile, Lopez here
scrapes his forehead,

and gets, what,
I'm guessing about 75 e-mails

from readers worried
about his safety?

I chased this piece.

Then I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.

There is something
very wrong in this world.

Newsflash, something
wrong with the world.

LESLIE: Yeah. Your face hurts
my feelings, Steve.

STEVE: That's harassment.

Mary?MARY: An environmental
group studying...

Please....chemical contaminants

in people's bodies.I literally... No.

Give some blood
and write about it.

Let me check my e-mails.

I think it would be
a good idea for you.

I'm glad you feel that way.
I just did that.

What do you think?

The thought in my mind is,
"No, thank you."

It was funny.
People love it when you bleed.

Ooh! Busted.

What is that? What do you call
that, what you just did?

Freud. Thank you. No.

MARY: Sorry about the face.

I hate needles.

So use it.


Originally used
as a camp by settlers

outside of what was then
the village of Los Angeles,

it was called La Plaza Abaja,
or the Lower Plaza.



Stevie Wonder fan?

NATHANIEL: My Cherie Amour
is the song of my life.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

But you really shouldn't write
on a violin like that

because you have to treat
a violin like a child,

you have to protect it.You only got two strings.


All I want to do
is play music,

and here's the problem
that I'm having right here.

This one's gone,
this one's gone,

this little one's
out of commission.

But you get that
in Cleveland public schools.

A lot of military
statues in Cleveland.

You're not gonna get
musicians on parade there.

You got Severance Hall there.

You have
The Music Settlement.

Ohio State University.

Whereas in Los Angeles,
you have Los Angeles PD,

you have LA Times,
you have Los Angeles Lakers.

Those are armies, too.
Military regimentation,

Roman gable, Roman Catholicism,
Colonel Sanders,

but this guy right here is...Colonel Sanders.

...the quarterback
with the orchestra.

Now the cello could back
this guy with the same moves,

but the cello can't
be concert master.

No. He leads out, this was
Itzhak Perlman, Jascha Heifetz.

You can't play music
in the winter in Cleveland

because of the ice
and the snow.

That's why I prefer
Los Angeles to Beethoven City,

because it never rains
in Southern California,

and if it does, all I have
to do is just go in the tunnel,

I could play
to my heart's content.

I'm flabbergasted
about the statue.

Aren't you flabbergasted
about this?

Anyway, nice to meet you.

Do you have any idea
how it got here?

Maybe they dropped
it off late at night.

'Cause it's just astonishing
to sit here for hours

and just... Just gaze at it.

It really blows me away

that someone as great
as Beethoven

was the leader
of Los Angeles.


I'm Steve Lopez, LA Times.

Lopez, L-O-P-E-Z?Yeah.

Lopez, Los Angeles Times.
Mr. Lopez.

What's your name?Lopez.

Nathaniel Anthony
Ayers Junior.


A-Y-E-R-S J-U-N-I-O-R.

Or J-R-period.

I apologize
for my appearance.

I've had a few setbacks.

Me, too.

Who are Nancy,
Paul, and Craig?

Those were my classmates
at Juilliard.

Good afternoon,
Juilliard School.

Registrar's office, please.

What's up?

It's highly classified.
I can't tell you.

How many?

More than we can
afford to lose.

it goes like this.

Stock price sinks,
we lose reporters.

Stock price sinks more,
we lose more reporters.

That won't produce
more or less...

Hi, this is Steve Lopez
from the LA Times.

I'm calling to enquire
as to whether

a Nathaniel Anthony Ayers
attended your school.

A-Y-E-R-S. I'm sorry.

Ugh! Freaking child lock.

How is our son,
by the way?

Oh! He's good.

He likes his classes.

He likes his
pre-gay roommate.

You should call him.

I call him.
Is a lie.

I call him.
He doesn't call me back.

He calls me back.Mary...

Just try again.

Yes, Mary.

Yes, Mary.Yes. Yes, Steve.

I gotta take this call.Great.

Because I don't
have a story. Hello?

Call him.

I'm sorry, we have no record

of a Nathaniel Anthony Ayers
ever attending Juilliard.


But then I don't
have a story.


Thanks for checking.


I'm not doing
the blood thing.

I got too many
other good ideas.

My dad is gonna freak
when he finds out I met you.

He loves your column.

What about you?

Well, I don't really
read the newspaper.


But when I do...

Hey! Those aren't
all for me, are they?

I'm also going to need
a clump of hair
and some urine.

That's easy.

All right.

Make a fist for me.




Come on.

Oh! Crap.



Lopez.WOMAN ON PHONE: Mr. Lopez?

Yeah, can you just
hold on one second?

I'm having a little technical
difficulty here.

This is Rosie Delgado
from the Juilliard School.

Mr. Lopez?

Yes. Please continue.

After we spoke yesterday,

I realized I only
checked our graduates.

So I looked in our matriculates,
and there he was.

Nathaniel Anthony Ayers
enrolled in 1970

and he dropped out toward
the end of his second year.

Thank you.

STEVE: "Points West"
by Steve Lopez.

Nathaniel was shy
in our first encounter.

He stepped back...
He backed away.

He... Nathaniel is...
Is what?

Nathaniel is... A great
column is what Nathaniel is.

Nathaniel is missing.


Oh! Son of a bitch.


Oh, yeah?

That's the culprit.

Oh, boy.

What are they doing?
They eat the grass?

No, they eat the worms
in the grass.

They eat the worms
in the grass?

Yeah, we had them.
It's a God-awful mess.

Wanna know how
I got rid of them?

Coyote urine.

Wow. Coyote urine?

In powdered form.


It's a whole industry,
you know.


Hey, I'm Neil,
by the way.


Silver hair, a ragged shirt
and baggy pants

The old soft shoe

He jumped so high

He jumped so high

Then he'd lightly touch down

I met him in a cell
in New Orleans, I was

Down and out

He looked to me
to be the eyes of age

As he spoke right out

He talked of life

He talked of life

He laughed,
slapped his leg and stepped

WOMAN 1: Anxiety,
restlessness, euphoria.

If you're experiencing...

WOMAN 2: I would spend every
night tossing and turning...

Okay, and what is the proper
method of application?

Should I sprinkle
it in the yard?

First, you wanna dilute
the urine powder in water.

STEVE: Wait, I want to?

Well, maybe I should say
"have to."

And then you're gonna
have to hang the liquid

from trees in plastic bags.

STEVE: So, people are doing this
all over Southern California?

Oh, yes, sir. Last month,
I sold some to Paula Abdul.

But no Simon Cowell?
'Cause that would
be exciting. Figure?


I'm gonna call you back
a little later.



Hey, Nathaniel.

Remember me?


Maybe have a minute
when you're done?

Let me know.


I just saw you, so I...



Mr. Steve Lopez,
Los Angeles Times,
Los Angeles, California.

Hey, Nathaniel.

I've been searching
for Mr. Beethoven,

but he's slipping
away like a dream.

I'm trying to get back
into shape, but I don't
have any sheet music.

Beethoven's String Quartet,
Opus 59, Number 1,

Violin Concerto,
Opus 61 in D,

Fifth Concerto,
Opus 73 in E Flat,

red car, green car,
there goes a police car,

and God is right on the other
side of that wall.

I had to dig a hole
to bury some human defecation.

But they didn't have
the human decency...

I was looking for you. use the proper facilities.I noticed that you've moved.

Well, it's beautiful here,
because you can play music

and have pigeons clapping
as they take off,

and right there is The Los
Angeles Times Building.

New York, Cleveland,
it doesn't matter.

All I have to do
is look up at that building

and I know
exactly where I am.

I was thinking about...

I'm in Los Angeles,
Los Angeles, California,

Los Angeles Lakers.writing about you for the paper.

Magic Johnson,
Magic Johnson Theaters.

Magic Johnson is
a basketball player,

but he's also a big, black man.

What if I were to wanna
write a story about you
for the newspaper?

Los Angeles Times,
Los Angeles newspaper.

Staff writer,
Mr. Steve Lopez.

Yeah. Yeah, that's me.

Do you mind
if I record this?

And I wanna write
a story about you.

A column
about how a guy like you
winds up on the street.

What do you think of that?
Mr. Lopez needs to do

what Mr. Lopez needs to do.

No one could ever stop
Mr. Lopez from doing
what he wants to do.

Are you flying that plane?

No. No, I'm right here.

I don't know
how God works.

I called Juilliard,

and they said you went there,
but you didn't finish.

I bombed right out of there.
I bombed out of Juilliard.

Yeah, what happened?I just... It didn't happen.

I don't know. I don't know
what happened.

Anyone I could contact?

Miss Floria Ayers, my mom.

She's a beautician.
Beauty is art.
Music is beauty.

I don't do hair.
I do my own hair,

but obviously,
my mom does everybody's
hair in the community.

They would come for her.
She's quite a woman.

But I don't know how
you're gonna talk to her,
though, because she passed.

Okay. Sorry to hear that.

Who could I call?


Whose number's that?

You know, it's a dream
out here, Mr. Lopez.

The sun is shining.
The nights are
cool and serene,

and I notice that
everyone is smiling.

Delivered just hours before...

Americans are asking...

STEVE: Hi, I'm calling
for Jennifer Ayers-Moore.

BUSH: How will we
finally win this war?


Hi, this is Steve Lopez
from the LA Times.

ON PHONE: I spoke
with your aunt,
I believe, earlier.

She suggested
I give you a call.

About what?

About your brother,

Is he dead?

What? No, no, no,
he's alive.

JENNIFER: Is he all right?

He's... Yeah.
He's homeless.

I don't know
if you're aware of that.

But he seems
very bright, and...
May I record this?

And talented, obviously.
Juilliard and all.

I'm, I'm... I'm sorry.

Your name again, please?

Steve Lopez.

Mr. Lopez,
why are you calling?

I'm gonna write
a column about Nathaniel.



Because that's what I do.
Everyone has a story,
and it's interesting,

you know,
that a Juilliard alum
is now homeless.

But he seems smart
and kind, and... And...

And spends his days
filling the city air with
violin music, and I just...

He plays the violin now?

He's... Yeah. Why?
He used to play something else?

Bye, Mama.


Good morning,

Miss Little John.


So, what do you
want to play for me?

I'm going to play
some Beethoven, sir.

I'm crazy about Beethoven.

He was younger than me when
he started playing piano,

and I wanted to play
the piano, but so
many kids played it,

and there's only one
at school, so it's hard
to get practice time in.

So, I chose the cello.
Hardly anyone at school
wanted to play the cello.

And Beethoven was composing
when he was only 11,

and I'm already
older than that,

so I figure I got a lot
of catching up to do.

Let's hear you play.



He had the talent,
that's for sure.

I called his mother
that night.

I told her that I thought
he was the most gifted
kid I've ever met.

I said that if he made
a full commitment to music,

if he really, really gave it
all he had, the whole world
would open up to him.

And he did.
He really did.

Go see if Martha's
rollers are ready.

They should be
on the kitchen table.

Okay, Mama.



Miss Florence,
I'll be back in 10.

He ain't gonna
get no sleep.

He gonna kill that little girl
before he kills everybody...

$10,000! I told him he gotta
buy me something real pretty.
Real pretty.


JENNIFER: Before long,
it got so that was all he did.

No more football,
no more baseball.
Just music.

Day in and day out.

The whole world was
changing around him.

And that was all he did.





FLORIA: Hey, you awake?


You know what I hear
when you play your music?

I hear the voice
of God coming...


I'm serious.

You got something
special here, baby.

A way out.

There is a whole
world waiting for you.


STEVE: "Points West"
by Steve Lopez.

Nathaniel was shy
in our first encounter.


He took a step back when
I approached him to say

I liked the way
his violin music

drowned out the jackhammers
on Grand Street. Period.

Nathaniel's first instrument
was the cello.

he has never had any training
on the violin instrument.

He has never had...

He has never had any
training on the violin.

He switched to the latter after
winding up on the streets.

One day, I asked him
about his hopes and dreams.

"That's easy," he said.
"I'd like to get
these other two strings."

WOMAN: Dear Mr. Lopez,

this morning I read
your article about
the street musician

and was deeply moved.

This cello is one
I used for 50 years,

until arthritis
got the better of me.

Please pass it along
to Mr. Ayers

with my prayers
for his health and safety.



Nathaniel!All I'm trying to do

is work as hard as I can
to clean up the tunnel.

Hey! Nathaniel!
But they don't
want me to help them.

I won't have it, you know.

Don't want to have
this degradation...

Are you out of your mind?

...because they just won't
respect that Beethoven...

What are you doing?

...and I try to tell
every one of them,

I won't have
this nastiness...


...this degradation,
I won't have it.


Don't! Don't!


I'm not going to have this
nastiness in this tunnel.
This degradation.


STEVE: Remember when
I said I was gonna
write about you?

Well, I did.

When people heard that
you were just playing
with two strings,

some of them thought
you might want something
better to work with.

No. I can't cover that.

You don't have to pay for it.
It's a gift.

I'm sure it's a very
beautiful instrument.
Free and clear.

People are very,
very generous.

But, look, here's the deal.

It's not safe for you
to have something this
valuable on the streets...

You don't have to worry
about that, Mr. Lopez.

I've been mugged 14 times.

I will fight to the death
to protect this instrument.

Right, that's
my point exactly.

So apparently there's a place

that's a couple of blocks down
that's called Lamp.

I can't go. No, can't go there.And I... Hold on.

I can't go...
No, I can't go there.

They smoke cigarettes.I talked to the guy.

He says you can keep it there.

They drop butts on the ground.

They just...
They do it to torment me.

That's the deal.
You wanna play this,
you gotta do it there.

I can't do that.

Oh, yeah.

Except for this one time.
Take it out and give
it a test drive or whatever.

So I can play it here?For a couple minutes,

and then we're gonna
bring it to Lamp.


Laying in there
like a pig in a blanket.

Only... Only the greats.
Really, only the greats.

Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pre,

and the coolest
cucumber of them all is

Janos Starker.

Gotta put rosin
on your bow.

It's just like
feeding a parakeet.

A bow needs rosin just like
a police car needs prisoners.



So pack it up.
We'll bring it to Lamp,
you can get back at it.

I haven't really gotten a chance
to know her yet.

So...I'm not saying you can't play.

You can. Just not here.
This is the perfect
music environment

for playing music.This? No.


This is a sidewalk, okay?

That's the deal.
We made a deal.

No, no, no.
You'll break the bridge.

You'll put water in it,
you'll drown her.

That's what I'll do?

It will be ruined.Why would I damage it?

I gave you the damn thing.It won't play right ever,

because, Mr. Lopez,
you'll ruin it.

I'm not going to...

I'm not gonna see you
get killed over this.

You don't know
what you're doing.

Let me put it away myself.

Then put it away.

Thank you.

Because when you start
a relationship with somebody...

Don't make a big
deal of it, okay?
It is a big deal.

In a minute, you'll have it
set up down at Lamp

and be playing like
you never stopped.

It's brand-new,
this relationship.

I don't want this
relationship to end.
Do you know where it is?

No, I can't do that.

Just leave that there.
I'll drive you.

I have my cart there.
I could get it in my cart.

What are you doing?
You're gonna let go.

Just let your fingers go.

Does anyone see what
he's doing right here?

He's stealing it.

I'll meet you there.

San Julian and 6th.

All right?

I'll drive. You walk.

I know where it is...

See you in a half hour?



For cash money
I got speed, man.

I'm good.


STEVE: Jesus.


MAN: Tennis shoes.

Oh, boy.


One at a time.
One at a time.

WOMAN: The pusher.
Ten cents.

Say, hey, is David here?


I'm here for David.


David? I can go get him.


MAN: David!



Hi. You a volunteer?

Steve Lopez,
Los Angeles Times.

Don't be scared.
Come in.


Every staff has a key,

so if he does come by
and I'm not here,

then anybody can
get it for him.

Well, he'll be here.Okay.

He said he was coming.

Can you sign in for me?


Afternoon.Hi. How are you?

I mean, it's tired.
It's like they can't
find the medication

that's right for me,
you know?

You know what
I'm trying to say?

When they put me
on lithium,

it was like
a portion of my brain

was fully functional.

You know what I mean?

Because it's like when I take
the lithium and everything,

it totally eliminates
the voices in my mind

when they first
start rising up,

you know,
and it stops them, right there.

I don't like that,
because they just stop them.

Because, see, sometimes
those voices comfort me.

And when they comfort me,
if they give me
all this lithium,

then I no longer
have the voices to comfort me.

You understand
what I'm saying?

Do you feel what
I'm saying to you?


You mind if I sit here?Not at all.

All right.

I'm Steve.I'm Steve, too.

Oh, boy. Hi.

I knew I picked
the right spot.

Yeah, you're good.

So are you a new
Lamp staff, or...

No. I'm just
waiting for somebody.


I just try to
keep Leeann happy.

He is a bright
spot in my life.

We value the same things.

And we're
comfortable together.

KK: Thank you, Leeann. That's so
nice to hear you say that.

I call him Piggy Boy
and stuff like that,

but I shouldn't,
because he's in a bad shape.

We thought his
problem was cocaine.

But it was pancreatic cancer.Yeah?

KK's French, Egyptian,
and African-American,

and I am a quarter French.

I know about disease.
I know how to treat it.

Now I understand people.

I can help
so many people fast,

and I can comfort them.

They've got Italian nurses,
6'4", in the county hospital.

And one of them talked
to me like I was trash.

Now, this is probably
that the hour of power
that the Bible speaks of,

somebody who speaks a harsh
language, will have what the

The computer is
probably the beast.

My aunt ended up
with 16 shock treatments

because she didn't
want to go to bed

with her sex-crazed husband.

He was paying call
girls $100 apiece,

going to bed with them
and coming home

and giving my aunt
all kinds of diseases.

I got sick.
I was working over there.

And I got sicker
than a dog one day.

I got an infection
in my esophagus.

The neighbor's dog
was sick one day

and the only thing
I had on hand

was a packet of tetracycline
for my chickens.

So they wouldn't...
They were too busy
to treat her at the moment.

You're fantastic.They'd already given her...


Ice cold. Ice cold.

STEVE: "Points West"
by Steve Lopez.

I put Nathaniel's
new instruments
in safekeeping and waited.

Fifteen minutes.
Thirty minutes.
An hour.

Too long, in fact,
'cause guess what, schmuck,

you got a deadline tomorrow.

And the story of a guy
not showing up

is not a story.






So, you guys are basically
united by non-belief.

That's right.Yeah.

So, do you non-gather?

And non-worship?

We tried, but...

Not a lot to talk about.


Now we have a website.


Anything else
you don't believe in?


Yeah, actually...



Can you hear this?

Sorry, can't hear you.

I said,
can you hear this?


This family thinks it can have
this conversation at every step.


This is my apartment.
This is my apartment.

This is my apartment.

Nathaniel Anthony
Ayers Junior. N-A-T-H-A...


I need Charles
for the practice.

you're so good.

I am so good, but I still have
to tweak things so I can win.

There's a fine line
in performances.

I mean, I can't
let her beat me.

I really have to practice.

GIRL: Half an hour is
all it takes for me.

Half an hour.


MAN 2: Nathaniel.

MAN 3: Nathaniel.

GIRL: Nathaniel?

MAN 4: Nathaniel.MAN 5: Nathaniel.

Nathaniel Ayers.WOMAN 1: Nathaniel.

MAN 6: Nathaniel Ayers.

[WHISPERING] Nathaniel.

WOMAN 2: Nathaniel. Nathaniel.WOMAN 3: Nathaniel.

PEOPLE: [SHOUTING] Ayers!WOMAN 4: Nathaniel!

Ma, I'm good, honestly,
it's just that...

FLORIA: I'm real proud of you,
baby. Thank you.

It's just that I'm not
always so sure I know
what's going on, and...

You are gonna be fine.

It's so frightening, and...

And I'm having trouble
differentiating certain things.

Keeping things separated.


If you'd like to make a call,
please hang up and try again.

If you need help...

That's where your pain
is stored.

MAN: Nathaniel.

Nathaniel. Nathaniel.

Paint your chest white.

Protect her from the pain.


I'll be here to protect
you from the pain.

I'll protect you
from the pain.

I'll protect you
from the pain.

I'll protect you
from the pain.

I'll protect you
from their eyes and ears.

CONDUCTOR: Nathaniel.

Are you finding this piece
to be beyond your abilities?

They're listening to you,

They can hear your thoughts,

I can hear your thoughts,

CONDUCTOR: Well, then
I suggest you do better.

They can hear your thoughts,

Don't think, Nathaniel.Bar 179, ladies and gentlemen.


WOMAN 1: Run away, Nathaniel.WOMAN 2: Run away, Nathaniel.

Run away, Nathaniel.

MAN 1: Come on. Run.

You should run.

You'll have to hide, Nathaniel.MAN 2: Run!

You'll never
get out of there.

You'll never
get out of there.

Run! Run! Run!

You'll never get out.

Quick, like a jackrabbit.


BOY: They're white,
heartless, aren't they?

WOMAN 1: Heartless.Hide.

Hide for me here,

We see you, Nathaniel.

They'll see you,

There's no hiding,

You'll never
hide well enough.

...turn you white...Whiteness!

No hiding for you,

Whiteness. Whiteness.



You'll take it,
because I want my out.

Detroit? Anger management.

It's amazing, right?

Does it look
like I need some anger
management to you?

Yeah.Man, I'll take him any day.

He quiets everybody down.

What does he have,

I don't know.

Well, we should hook him
up with psychiatric services
and find out, right?

Yeah, I don't get
too hung up on diagnosis.

What do you mean?

What do I mean?

But how do you help
somebody if you don't
know what they have?

Look at these people.

Every one of them's
been diagnosed more
than you can imagine.

And as far as I can tell,
it hasn't done them any good.

But he needs medication, right?

I'll tell you one thing
he doesn't need.

One more person telling
him he needs medication.

Son of a bitch.

Where'd he go?


Don't ask me, dude.

Thanks, Steve.You're welcome, Steve.

WOMAN: Keep walking.
Keep walking!

MAN: There's
a cop over there.

He'll shoot
a nigga with a pop.

You got that cheese, huh?

You're right
about that cheese.

Hold on, hold on.
Hold up.

Hey, wait!

WOMAN: Want to buy some candy?


Five-o. Five-o.

MAN 1: No way
this is gonna be...

MAN 2: That boy's not
the real police.

Oh, man. Hell, man.
Where's my piece at,

MAN: Back up.

I went over to the library.

I thought I might pick up
some sheet music.

Sonata Number 1,
F Major, Opus 5,

Sonata Number 2 in A Major,
Opus 69 for String Quartet.

What happened?
Somebody get beat up?

STEVE: Overdose, I think.

The other night, someone...

There was a beating
over here.

Someone got bones
rearranged in their face.
It was just crazy.

I don't understand
why anybody would do
something like that.

This where you sleep?

I used to sleep
on Wall Street,

but it's too dirty.


You know, Mr. Lopez,
my vision...

I hate to admit it,
but I'm gonna have
to be like Beethoven.

Just do what he
did and just die.
Thank you, Mr. Lopez.

My vision is not
far-off stuff,

just basically getting
across the street safely.

Honor thy father and mother,
and then, hopefully,

the music will
take care of itself.

That's really
all you can do.

I mean,
when you think about it,

there's not much that
you can do other than that.

Would you care
for a drink?

I'm fine.


Gotta tuck this guy
in here, nice and safe.

Put that down there.
Make sure this corner...

You can rest on this.

Do you think of writers
often, Mr. Lopez?

Do you think of writers
the way I think
about musicians?

I write for a living,

and it's not like
it used to be.

I love thinking
about musicians.

I imagine Beethoven and
Mozart in that window
where the light is,

and they just hunger
and they thirst like we do.

It's angelic.

I believe these children of God
are gonna be okay tonight.

They're gonna sleep
and dream as humans do.


Our Father,

who art in Heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day
our daily bread...

Just keep it coming.
There's plenty.

NATHANIEL: And forgive us
our trespasses,

as we forgive those
who trespass against us.

STEVE: I knew only
part of his story.

I knew him playing the violin
on a dairy crate
in the morning sun,

suspended somewhere between
boy genius and lost traveler.

Every night, my friend
Nathaniel tucks
his instruments away

and lays his head among
the predators and hustlers,

among fallen drunks
sprawled in the streets,

as rats the size of meatloaves
dart out of the drains
to feed off the squalor.

...lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,


Forever and ever.

STEVE: I tell him this
is no place for him.

He says he wants to be here.

He says this is his choice.

Should I take him
at his word,

or should I try
to force him inside?

Wouldn't a little
arm-twisting be more humane

than leaving him
here on the streets

in this lost colony of broken,
helpless souls?

I hope you sleep well,
Mr. Lopez.

I hope the whole
world sleeps well.

He wants to meet you.


The guy from the Los Angeles
Philharmonic, Adam Crane.

Wondering if you wanna
come hear a concert

at Disney Hall
some time as his guest.

They're doing Beethoven.

Ludwig van?

Beethoven, all season long.

They got one coming up.
The Third.

Well, what's the date today?

No, the Third Symphony.

I'll cause a scene.
I don't wanna cause a scene.

I don't wanna stick out
or anything like that.

So it's just...
It's impossible.
It can't happen.

What if I could get us
in for a rehearsal?



STEVE: Nathaniel, let's go.

with the keys right here...

Come on.
Lock up the cart.

No. You know what,
Mr. Lopez?

Come on, we gotta go.

I can't leave my stuff
here with these rascals.

They can't be trusted.

Oh, no. We have an entire
orchestra waiting.

They have drug addicts
and cigarette smokers here,

and they will steal
all of what I have.

No one is going
to steal your shit.
I can't leave it.

No, no. We have to get
in touch with the mayor...

Nathaniel, it's garbage....Antonio Villaraigosa...

...or the president.

No one is gonna
steal this garbage.

In the corner...No, no, no, Mr. Lopez,

I'm not gonna be able
to make it up there.

Okay. Oh, boy.

Fantasia. Walt Disney Hall.
Donald Duck.

I have to deal
with things here

because I wouldn't leave a dog
with these people here.

Right. Okay. Fine.

A cockroach does not tell
a greyhound what to do.

It's fine! Do you understand?
It's fine.

I do not give a smooth
fart if we go or not.
Do you understand?

There are a million other things
I could be doing right now.

Obligations, things
that people pay me to do.

I have a job.
I'm a professional person.

All right.


Still not gonna
leave my cart here.


Pick a side.

MAN 1: The company
is offering you a very
generous exit package.

MAN 2: Yeah.

I understand how difficult
this is. Wait!


this is the reality
of our business.

Nathaniel, hard left
coming up right here.

Mr. Lopez, are you okay?

How long has it been since
you've been in a concert hall?

This is great.

There's the conductor.

Just us.

Yeah, just us.

It's the way it should be.


NATHANIEL: He's in the room.

STEVE: Who is?



Sing the hate out!


MARY: All right.

STEVE: Strong finish!

Get up there.

I'm telling you, it was such
an unbelievable experience,

the whole thing,
the whole day.

And if you had seen him,
if you could have felt him...

I mean, it's the same hall.

We're listening to the same
goddamn music, but... But no.

You see him, it's one thing,
but you feel him...

I'm watching him.
He's watching the music.

And while they're
playing, I say,

"My God, there is something
higher out there.

"Something higher out there,
and he lives in it,
and he's with it."

I've never even
experienced it,
but I can tell...

I don't even know
what you fucking call it.


What? What is it?


All right. That's grace?


Thank you. Yeah.

To be there
with him like that

and see the way
that he is transported.
He surrenders.

Damn it, honey.

I mean, I've never
loved anything the way
that he loves music.


Hey, come on.
I'm thinking about my day.

I'm thinking about my day.
I wasn't thinking about you.

That I believe, honey.

Call the mayor.
He's been trying to reach you.

Which mayor?The mayor!



Call the mayor.

Thank you.

STEVE: "Points West"
by Frank Sinatra.

Every now and then,
in this city
of innumerable wrongs,

the powers that be
get things right.

Los Angeles has
the ignominious distinction

of being the homeless
capital of the nation,

and skid row is ground zero
of the crisis.

So, I am pleased
to announce

that I am increasing
the city's financial
commitment to this area

by $50 million.

STEVE: Every now and then,
the words I write

do not leap straight
from this page to the ether.

Instead, every now and then,

they reach the right reader
at the right time.

Every now and then,
the hearts, minds and wallets

of the city's officials
open simultaneously.

And when that happens,
every now and then,

the city is a better
place for it.



Your boyfriend
is downstairs.

Thank you.

That's funny.


You all right?

I'm good.


You need something?

A man only needs what
he can carry, Mr. Lopez,

and I have all
I can carry right here.

I have my bedding.
I have my drums.

I have my flower.Yeah. Okay.

I have my water bottle.
I have it all.

Hey, listen, listen.

You can't hang out here.

I can't?

You can't hang out here.

You can't. Sorry.

I don't mind that at all,
Mr. Lopez. Not at all.

You understand, right?
It's a...
It's a thing. Policy.

I'll be over here
if you need me.

Over there?

Okay. You all right?

Yeah, I just...
You know, I... Yeah.

Sorry. I gotta...

All right, Mr. Lopez,
I completely understand
that you're working.

You're working.
You have to work.
People have to work.

All right, get out of the way
when people are working,

because you don't
wanna stand out there
in front of people,

especially not Mr. Lopez.

You stand in front
of Mr. Lopez, he's gonna
tell you to get out of here.

So, it's a lot of work.

I think he's good.
You know, I really do.

I'm sure...

I mean, I just...
This is great. I think...
I think it'll really help.

I feel like you are
exactly what he needs.

Well, thank you.

Does that make sense?

Yes, it does.


Graham Claydon.
Thank you.

At your service.

All we need is a place
for them to meet and rehearse,

like an apartment.

You're asking for an apartment
for Nathaniel?


Does he want an apartment?


And he told you this?


You're so full
of shit, Lopez.

I don't want an apartment.

Good, 'cause it's not.

It's actually
a music studio

for Mr. Claydon to give
you the cello lessons.

Well, why don't we have
Mr. Claydon come down here?

This is a perfect place
to play in, the tunnel.

No, Mr. Claydon
doesn't like tunnels.

He says it has to be quiet.Well...

It has to be quiet
for the cello lessons,
so your apartment...

It's not my apartment.

I know. I know.
The apartment that
belongs to no one.

I don't have an apartment.
I don't wanna be
in an apartment.

I don't need
an apartment.

Beethoven lives out in the
freshness of the air.

He's the leader
of Los Angeles.

It's an opportunity."Angeles" means "angels."

You can't clip angels.Stop.

Do you want
an opportunity or not?

Do you have an apartment?

No. I have a house.

So angry. Yelling.

It doesn't make sense.


Do you have a family?


Are you a married man?

Is there a Mrs. Steve Lopez?


I did. Mary.
But we split up.

We have a son, Thomas.
He's in college now.

Mr. Steve Lopez,
Mr. Thomas Steve Lopez,
Mrs. Mary Steve Lopez.

Not Mrs. Lopez.
Mary Weston.

Mrs. Mary Weston Steve Lopez.

No. Just Mary Weston. Period.

We were married.
We're not anymore,
so now she's just Mary.

You were married to Mary,
but you're not married
to Mary anymore.

Don't ask me how.

Mrs. Floria Ayers,
Miss Jennifer Ayers.

And then there was
Mr. Nathaniel
Anthony Ayers Sr.

He was a big man.
He had big hands.

I have very small hands.

Fit around a violin,
a cello.

Mr. Ayers was a big man,
but he wasn't a god.

I have my god.

Mr. Steve Lopez.

Oh, boy.

Yeah, you're my god.
Flying around high.

You're my god.
I'm not comfortable
being your god.

Mr. Steve Lopez,
staff writer, you are my god.

That it? I'm your god?

Yes, you are.
You're my god.

All right.
I am your god.

And as your god,
I command you to be

at Lamp, 2:00 p.m.,
one week from today

for a cello lesson.
Done deal.

And it's a really
sweet deal, too.

'Cause if you show up,
I will grant you eternal life.

Hell, I might even
make you a disciple.

If you don't,
you're on your own.


This is my apartment.
This is my apartment.

This is my apartment.

This is my apartment.
This is my apartment.

This is my apartment.

Always number one.
Always number two.

MAN: Nathaniel.

WOMAN 1: We've always been
here, Nathaniel Ayers.

I've always been
with you, Nathaniel.

I'll never leave you,
I love you, Nathaniel.

NATHANIEL: I love you.
No one else loves you,

But I love you, Nathaniel.
I'll protect you, Nathaniel.

WOMAN 2: When you fell
from Heaven, they laughed
at you, Nathaniel.

You're my heart, Nathaniel.
I do love you, Nathaniel.


We'll be together
forever, Nathaniel.

MAN 1: I'll protect you.

WOMAN 1: Look, I'll be
here to protect you from
the pain.

I'll be here to protect
you from the pain.

Fibber. You fibber. You fib.

I'll protect you
from the noise.

Fear for you.
Fear for you.

I'll protect you
from their beady eyes.

I'll be here to obey.
MAN 2: I'll protect you
from their eyes.


Step right, Nathaniel.
No one else loves you,

FLORIA: You're my boy,

Take off the shoes.

MAN 1: I'll protect you.
I'll protect you.

No one can kill the child.
That's what the child is about.

Forget you. Jump off!


Come on.

Hey. Look at that.

Don't see those
on the street.
Quick right.

And then, and then...
And then right again,
right here.

Come on down.

What are you...
Come on. We go down here
and then to the end and left.

I think we should do
the lesson out here.

No, no, no.
It's just this way.
Come on.

Mr. Lopez...
Mr. Lopez.

Mr. Lopez, I really think
we should do it out here.

No, come on.
Let's have a look.
It's right down here.

Mr. Lopez.

Nathaniel, come on.

It's really clean.

STEVE: Come check it out.

We should do it out here.
It's better.

I'm more
comfortable out here.

Looks nice.

Looks nice.

It's nice.



Come on. You can do it.


I can't live here.

I'll give you
a hand with that.

Got it.

Oh, boy.
Let's get this in nice.


It's great, right?

I mean, I like it.
What do you think?

It's nice. It's clean.
The bathroom's better than...

Except for him.

I don't wanna die in here.


Somebody could just come
in here and kill me...

You'll be fine. Nathaniel?...take all of my belongings.

Nathaniel, the door locks.A fly only lives 12 days.

What if in 12 days,
someone walks through
that door and murders me?

And I don't care about
this Claydon thing, either.

Walt Disney Hall.
Disney Duck.

Doesn't make a difference.
I don't need any of that.

If I'm gonna take a lesson,
I should take the lesson
in the tunnel

where I can hear the city
sounds and not be locked
off from life,

locked off from the world.
In the tunnel I can hear

the music the way
it's supposed to be played.

Not in this place,
there's no city sounds,

there's no Beethoven,
there's no Los Angeles,

I don't belong here.

I'm never coming here again.



that's Graham Claydon.

Pleased to meet you,

I always love meeting
a fellow musician.

I brought you something.

I know you're partial
to Beethoven,

so I thought
you'd enjoy this,

because, you know,
without Johann Sebastian

there would be
no Ludwig van.


GRAHAM: The A, the D,
the A, the D, the A, the D.

Don't rush it.
Don't rush it.


for someone who hasn't had
a lesson in three decades,

you play quite beautifully.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Work on a smoother rhythm
with the right hand.

And don't stop-start.

Carry a phrase
all the way through.

GRAHAM: Great.STEVE: Give you a ride uptown?


Do you think
I could be good again?

Yes, I do.

I like your apartment,
by the way.

It's not my apartment.
It's not. It's just a...

I don't live here.

Well, you should.

God has blessed you
with a gift, Nathaniel.

Nothing pains God
more than when we squander
his blessings.

You owe it to him
to care for this...

I don't owe God.

Mr. Steve Lopez is my god.

What?Star writer for Los Angeles.

Higher power flying around
with wings like an angel.

Mr. Steve Lopez is my...

He doesn't know
what he's saying.

Mr. Graham Claydon is going
to tell me who my god is?

Down by the car?

Do you know who my god is,
Mr. Claydon?

I know who my god is!

He's a good teacher.I know who my god is.

You should accept
his help gracefully.

Graceful is the ballerinas
at Juilliard.

Those girls were graceful.

Tiny ballerinas
just twirling round.

There's other
people in this...

Twirling round. Angels.

All right, graceful
as little ballerinas.

I love them flying around

like I love Mr. Steve Lopez
flying around.

I love God.
I love you!

I love you.

I don't want him to love me.

Well, it looks like you might
have to get over that.

It's a bad idea.

"I love you, Steve," turns into,
"You failed me, Steve,"

turns into very bad things.

That's my limited

I don't want to be
on the other side
of that with him. Would you?

He doesn't know
if I'm a ballerina,

if I'm God,
if I'm an airplane pilot.

He has no idea
what he's saying.

Is there something
you want from me, Lopez?

Or did you just come to show me
your prom dress? You look nice.

I want you to help him

because he's sick
and he needs medication

and you have
a team of doctors here.

Tell them to sit
down with him.

Isn't that what
you're supposed to do?

Nathaniel's made it quite clear

he's not ready to speak
to a psychiatrist.

Force him.

Force him?Tell him to do it.

Tell him he can't
play his instruments

until he sits
down with a shrink.

That's not what we do here.

What you do here is fucked.


It is.

Look, even if I did wanna

cohorse Nathaniel
into psychiatry...

Coerce....which... Whatever.

If I wanted
to do that, which I don't,

I couldn't force him
to take medication.

The law is the law.
Unless he's an imminent danger

to himself or someone else...

Are you gonna
answer that, or what?

I'm in the car.
What if he was a danger
to someone else?

But he's not.

Mary, I'm on the way. Relax.

What if someone
said he was?

What if someone dialed 911
and said Nathaniel
had attacked him?

They'd put him
in psychiatric hospital.

I know you're not thinking
of lying on him, Lopez.

And then he would be
in a 14-day psychiatric hold,

they'd put him on
meds straight away.

What if that's all it took
for him to be well?

What if two weeks of meds,

a two-week window
into what his life could be,

changed his life?
Saved his life?

Why wouldn't you want
to be part of that?

Steve, Nathaniel has one thing
going for him right now.

A friend.
If you betray that friendship,

you destroy the only thing
he has in this world.

I don't want
to be his only thing.

Didn't you just tell somebody
you was in your car?


Mary, relax.
What table are we at?

This is Nathaniel
Anthony Ayers, Jr., Mr. Lopez.

I was calling
because you promised me

a hard case for my cello
and I haven't received it yet.

And also I need sheet music

for Beethoven's
Second Sonata.

And also Opus 131 and Septet
for strings and woodwinds,
and Opus 20...

Can you just... One sec.

...and also my
A string is missing...

So, we're talking about...

I need my A string replaced.

Nathaniel, you know,
this is not...

...his series in the Times

on the struggles
and the triumphs

of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers

has brought crucial attention

to one of the most pressing
issues in our city.

you should make good
on those promises...

Get off the phone.

MAYOR: address this
problem with compassion
and commitment.


And in honor of this,

it is my pleasure
to present this year's
Media Award to Steve Lopez.

Thank you.

NATHANIEL: know that I
can't leave my cart anywhere.

It houses my violin,
my cello, and my weapons
of mass destruction.

A child needs protection.
You don't want to put a baby
in the trunk of a car

and have it get bashed up
against the wall.

[ECHOING] Bashed up
against the wall.

Bashed up against the wall.


MARY: I got a phone call
from Mark Rosenthal today,
remember him?

Book editor?

Bob Geldof with a crew cut.

He's been reading
your Nathaniel stuff,

thinks it's genius, whatever.

Whatever.Anyway. He said it's a book.

What did he say exactly?

"It's personal,
it's political, it's timely.

"I can sell
the shit out of it."

STEVE: Oh, boy.

His words,
excuse me, not mine.

Well, it's complicated.
Nathaniel's complicated.

Well, yeah,
he's mentally ill, I mean.

Right. But beyond that,
it's endless.

I just...
I don't want to take
full responsibility.

By all means,
avoid full responsibility.

Just, you know,
keep going with
the partial responsibility

and exploiting him
like you are now.

You should stop.

'Cause that's a slippery slope
right there, Lopez.

Stop. Stop.One day, you're getting a book.

Please stop....from the guy. And the next,

he's expecting,
I don't know, some sort of...

Mary, stop.

in the relationship.

Screw that, man.

Who needs that shit, right?
My words.

You driving?No, I have a car.

STEVE: And a driver?


WOMAN: Oh, my God!

Oh, shit.

It's Nathaniel for you.

NATHANIEL: a youngster
labeled mentally ill

because of the underlying
cigarette habit,

constant disturbance,
constant disturbance.

You know, bigots
have children, too.

Pens from Steve Lopez.
Many thanks.

Constant disturbance,
constant disturbance.

Bigots have children.
Bigots have children, too.

Pens... Paper... Pens from
Steve Lopez. Many thanks.


And a cello from Steve Lopez.
Steve Lopez...

Many thanks to that.

Without Steve Lopez,
I wouldn't have any of that...

Constant disturbance.

Constant disturbance.
Constant disturbances.

GRAHAM ON PHONE: I've had what
I think is a beautiful idea.

I think Nathaniel
should give a recital.

I don't know if
I can make that call.

He hasn't been
very lucid lately.

GRAHAM: Right.
When is he clearest?
I don't...

When is he most able
to focus his thoughts?

When he's playing.STEVE: Right.

This could increase
his confidence
a thousand fold.

It could be

How can we not give
him that, Steve?

God bless you, Steve.

Sure he does.

My first concert,
I was so nervous,

I vomited all
down my tuxedo.

It was so embarrassing.

Want to know how I got over
those jitters, Nathaniel?

I prayed.

Shall we pray
together, you and I?

Heavenly Father,

shine your light
on brother Nathaniel,

that he may speak
with your voice tonight.





WOMAN: Nathaniel, you never
have been here, Nathaniel.
I'm here, Nathaniel.

You're not there.GIRL: Nathaniel.

You never have been here.

You never will be here.


My voice is all there is.

STEVE: Everything's fine.

Follow my voice, Nathaniel.STEVE: Tune up and play.

Run away from these people,

You're nothing.MAN: Nathaniel Ayers.


I got some soup
here for you.


You think I'm stupid.
Is that what you think?

You want to kill them,

They'll kill you first,


They'll string you up,

No. You think I can't
see everything.
I see everything.

I know who you are.
I know what you're doing.

Dogs, biting at your feet.GIRL: Nathaniel.

I thought you
might be hungry.
Nathaniel, over there.

The dusty open manual.
Nathaniel, come here.

The manual.

That's hydrochloric acid.

If I eat that,
it'll burn me up inside
and kill me like a dog.

Oh, no.

I wouldn't do that.


MAN: Nathaniel.


WOMAN: You'll eat it,
dust and all.


It's good, see.



Don't put your hands on me!

Nathaniel!Back the hell off!

Don't you ever touch me!
Don't ever put
your hands on me!

Please, don't.Nathaniel.


Don't you ever touch me.



What am I supposed to do?
I should have support.

JENNIFER: Hi, Nathaniel.

It's freezing out here.
Don't you wanna come home?

I can't go back there.
It's not safe.

Come on, home, Nathaniel.


Where are you gonna sleep?

David, sorry, it's Steve.

Can you call me back
when you have a second?

There was an incident
with Nathaniel tonight.
I'm a little worried.

Anyway, call back
when you have a sec.

All right, let's go.

It's my thing!

I claim my right
to those possessions!

Show me your stuff!

LINDA: What?

Hey, where's Nathaniel?

I don't know.
I haven't seen him.

I haven't seen him.

Hey! Hey!

Is it Darryl?

Hey, stay back.
Who the hell are you?

LA Times. That's the last guy
you should be arresting.

Come on, man! Come on.
Skid row cleanup, sir.

Steve! Steve!

This man is in illegal
possession of a shopping
cart and a milk crate.

Are you gonna arrest
him for possession
of a milk crate?

DARRYL: Steve! Steve!

That's correct, sir.

Take it easy.

Help! Help!


Officer, what happened?

OFFICER: A couple of kids came
out here with some baseball bats

and beat the shit
out of this poor guy.

Get a name?Negative, sir.

Sorry, excuse me.
I'm sorry.

Is this Admits?
May I make an enquiry
about a... Excuse me.

This way?What?

Yeah, down here.

It's usually on the...
I'm sorry.

It's usually on the screen.

Excuse me, ma'am.
Recent ER admits
named Ayers, A-Y-E-R-S.

Thank you, by the way.


Hi. Thank you.

I'm looking
for a recent admission.

I'm hoping you have a recent
admission with a man
named Ayers, A-Y-E-R-S.

I know. Contreras was
the reporting officer.
He was the officer on site.

It's not the...
It's not the...


Mr. Ayers. A-Y-E-R-S.

Nathaniel Anthony Ayers.
5'10'' African-American.

Hi. It's me again.

It's gonna be a long shift.
What's your name?

N-A-T-H-A-N-I-E-L A...

I do words for a living.
It doesn't matter.

Whoever has two stripes
on their arm or more.

Ayers! A-Y-E-R-S.

A-N-T-H-O-N-Y A-Y-E-R-S.

No! Do not put
me on hold again!





Steve, David.

I got your message,
what's up?

There was a beating
of a homeless man
on Winston Street,

it was right
in Nathaniel's spot.

It wasn't him.

What? How do you know?

'Cause he's here,
eating a crazy-big breakfast.

I guess sleeping inside
can give a man an appetite.


He spent last night
in the apartment.

He came inside.


Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you so much.

I thought I lost it forever.


You good?

I literally
looked everywhere else
in Los Angeles but here.

Not that I was worried.

What happened?
What made you decide
to sleep in here?

Oh, well, a body can only
take so much, Mr. Lopez.

I'm not young anymore,
I'm a middle-aged man.

You know how it is.


I mean, a body gets weary,
a body...

Housewarming gift.


Thank you, Mr. Lopez.

Thank you, Mr. Lopez.
Thank you.


I've done good by you,
haven't I?

I mean, things
aren't so bad, right?

Say, things are set for Jennifer
to become your executor.

I can't believe
Beethoven himself is
in my own apartment.

Are you still okay with that?
Having Jennifer handle
things for you?

It's all right with me
if it's all right
with Beethoven.

Well, you guys
let me know.

'Cause there's
papers you gotta sign.
They just got back from...

You should read them
so you know what
you're signing.

All right, yeah,
I'll just sign them
Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, Jr.,

apartment B-116,
and the B stands for Beethoven.

Read them and sign them.All right.

All right.

What do you...
You got anything to drink?

Yes, sir, Mr. Lopez.
Absolutely, Mr. Lopez,

help yourself to some water,
it's where the dripping
sound is coming from.

At your leisure.

All right.



Is there a...

What's with Neil Diamond?

I thought that was you.


Well, I'm flattered.
He's a good-looking guy.

What's wrong?

What's this business about me

having a schizophrenic mind?

It's, it's...
It's legal jargon.

It says that I have
a schizophrenic mind.
I do not.

It doesn't mean anything.

I have a schizophrenic mind.

That's not what I think.

Nathaniel, they try
to put people in a...

I'm not going anywhere.And the good news is that

it has nothing
to do with you.

I don't go where you say to go.
I go where I want to go.

You don't put me away,
Mr. Lopez.

You don't put me away.

Okay. Okay.You don't put me away.

I'm not gonna... I don't...
No, no, you don't have to go...

Yes, you are. Yes, you are. court.
You don't have to go anywhere.

Jennifer will
take care of you.

My sister's not coming near me.
She is not coming near me.

She's not coming near me.Okay, remember when you said...

If I say she's not coming
then she's not coming.

You said...
Nathaniel, you said...

Listen, I'm not
going to have anymore...

I'm not going
to have anymore...

I will tell you.
I will tell you.

I'm sick of being Nathaniel
and you Mr. Lopez.

Okay. I'm not just...

Wait. I'm not your boy.

I am not Mr. Colonel
Sanders's boy.

You know,
I'm sorry I was wrong.
I'm sorry I was wrong.

I can take care of myself.
I can take care of myself,
Mr. Lopez.

I don't need you.
I don't need this city.

I despise this city
and I despise you.

And if I ever
see you again,

I'll cut you open

and gut you like a fish.

Because I'm Nathaniel
Anthony Ayers Jr.

Mr. Ayers.

I'm Nathaniel
Anthony Ayers Jr.



You're of no consequence.




STEVE: So, that was
my first mistake.

The Northridge Quake,
'94, remember?

I smelled the toast.

We'd been here two days.

All our crap still in boxes.

And at 4:00 a.m. it hit.

God, that terror.


You, me and Thomas.
What was he, nine?


All huddled under
that bedroom door frame.

I told him
it was a good omen.


Welcoming us
to our new life.

Better life.

In LA.

I should have had us on the
first flight back to Philly.

I thought I was
helping someone.

And it was a guy
who's got a gift.

He's lost his way.
I'm gonna...

Inevitably backfired.

He's backlashed to the...

And the very person I was
trying to be of some redeeming
service to turns on me.

[LAUGHS] I'm the enemy.
You know?

A stranger.


I don't know who to fault.

I can't see any
outcome to support.

Can't believe in
anything worthwhile.

Done trying.
I resign. I resign.

From everything.

It's... It's official.


MARY: You couldn't
stop that earthquake.

You can't fix
LA in just...

And you're never
gonna cure Nathaniel.

Just be his friend
and show up.

Good? I'll be right
here if you need me.

...go, next to the gold store.

You know what I mean.
He wanted to drink
and everything.

Okay, okay, okay.
Bitch, slow down.

Do you still love me?
Like you did at the start?

WOMAN: I ain't
playing with you.

DARRYL: I'm saying I do.

It means you and me
together forever.

So that's why
I'm saying I do.

I love you, Lois.

LOIS: I love you, too, Darryl.

himself now as...

They disguise themselves...
Where is Los Angeles?




We had some life,
didn't we?



Beethoven's Triple
Concerto, right?

It's a good one.

I liked it.
Mr. Ayers,

I'm gonna give your sister
a ride to the hotel.

You don't have
to call me that, Mr. Lopez.

I know. I want to.

I should have been
calling you that all along.

I said such terrible things
to you, Mr. Lopez.

I... I hate myself
for saying those things.

Sometimes friends piss
each other off, right?

It's part of the deal.

I can't imagine that you would
want to be my friend after
I said all those things.

Mr. Ayers,

I'm honored
to be your friend.

STEVE: "Points West"
by Steve Lopez.

A year ago, I met a man
who was down on his luck

and thought I might
be able to help him.

I don't know that I have.

Yes, my friend Mr. Ayers
now sleeps inside.

He has a key.
He has a bed.

But his mental state,
and his well-being,

are as precarious now
as they were the day we met.

There are people who tell me
I've helped him.

Mental health experts who say

that the simple act of being
someone's friend can change
his brain chemistry,

improve his functioning
in the world.

I can't speak for Mr. Ayers
in that regard.

Maybe our friendship
has helped him. But maybe not.

I can, however,
speak for myself.

I can tell you that by
witnessing Mr. Ayers's courage,

his humility, his faith
in the power of his art,

I've learned the dignity
of being loyal to something
you believe in.

Of holding onto it,
above all else.

Of believing,
without question,

that it will carry you home.