Avenue C, Alphabet City, New York
A woman, accompanied by two children is pushing a double baby stroller down the street. It is clear she is the mother of all the children. The boy is older and taller than the little girl. The woman instructs the little girl to tell Daddy that she wants to go to the park. The woman explains, that even though she doesn’t want to go to the park, that Kiden (the little girl’s name) can be a big help to her mom. While Kiden and her Dad are at the park, Mom and the rest of the kids will buy a birthday cake and meet them both back at home. The mother refers to the older boy as Ty and says he is going to carry the cake.
The woman and the children walk across the street and enter the police station. She asks Pat, the man behind the desk, to phone her husband and let him know his family is here.
A policeman appears and Kiden runs to him calling him “Daddy”. The father greets his family with hugs for all of them. The woman asks if he can watch Kiden while they make a quick trip to the store. He tells her that he only has three more minutes before he is off shift and they can go to the store as a family. Ty starts to tell his Dad that he can’t go to the store with them but Kiden interrupts and asks to be taken to the park. Before he can reply to his beloved little girl, Mom tells him that she is very active today and she just needs a break for a few minutes. After all, they will all meet back home very soon. The frustrated mother and the rest of the children leave the police department and head for the store.
The confused father looks down at his little girl and tells her that he will punch out and then they will go to the park and get ice cream also. Kiden rewards her Dad with one of those big smiles only little girls can give their Dads. Father and daughter leave the police station happy to be in each other’s company. Its plain to the other people on the street that she is definitely Daddy’s little girl. He takes to her the local ice cream stand, where they thank Nino for the wonderful treat they get.
Daddy is in the middle of explaining to Kiden that he knows all about the cake and asks if she wants the slide or the swings first. They can both here a car screeching around the corner. The devoted father is the first to spot the gun and he quickly shoves his precious little girl roughly to the ground; inadvertantly making her drop her ice cream treat. The car pulls up on the street in front of them and the passenger of the car takes aim with the gun. He fires twice and strikes the cop once in each kneecap causing him to fall. While he is falling the shooter files again into the right wall of the chest. The young Kiden is sitting on her rump, legs stretched straight out in front of her. She sees the whole scene.
The two things that she remembers the most are the sound of the gunshots and seeing her father lying in the street covered in his own blood. She hears a voice calling her name from somewhere far off, as if she is in a dream, asking if she is ok.
The present time
Flash forward to a young looking teenager sitting on a commode in the ladies room. She has short stringy blond hair, is wearing a pink tube top (shoulders and arms bare), and in her right hand she is holding a small blue pill. Around her neck is along metal chain with a baby pacifier on it for decoration. Her friend outside the stall calls to her to hurry. She wants Kiden to come dance with her before her last hit wears off. She also wants to know if Kiden is going to take her hit or just look at it. It is very evident that both scantily dressed teenagers are stoned on drugs.
Kiden takes the pill. As she exists the stall she tells her friend Kara to “shut up”. Then she grabs her friend’s hand and drags her back to the dance floor. The club is crowded, the music is loud, flashing lights are everywhere, and all the clubbers are having the time of their lives. Most are stoned on more than one drug, all are scantily clad, and most have a tattoo, a piercing, or both.
45 Essex Street
A teenage girl is sprawled across her bed tangled in the sheets and blankets. The alarm rings loudly, time is 7 am; her fist comes off the bed to turn it off. Her mom opens the door to her room to tell her that she is not staying home sick from school. The girl starts to get sleepily to her feet. Mom tells her that she needs to stay home and get the room clean and organized and then asks why her daughter is so sleepy. The girl claims that she has spent most of the night studying with Kara, her friend. Mom doesn’t buy it and proceeds to tell the girl what her father would do if her were still alive, the girl interrupts by muttering something about divorce. The upset mother repeatedly asks her daughter to repeat the sentence. Kiden only gets dressed and finishes the conversation by screaming, leave me alone, repeatedly at her mom.
Two twin boys, half Kiden‘s age, walk by repeating the phrase don’t touch me, as they get ready for school. One of the twins stops long enough to tell Kiden that he heard from another young friend that she is a “slut”. Kiden turns from the kitchen to tell her little brother off when Ty makes his presence in the kitchen known by asking her how Kara liked the drugs he gave them. Kiden tells Ty it was da bomb. He asks Kiden to remind her friend that he is giving them the drugs at the discount rate. Kiden tells him that she knows what he is saying and she wanders on into the kitchen for breakfast.
As she enters the kitchen she sees her mom’s car keys next to her purse on the counter above the dishwasher. She strides quickly across the room and starts to go through the purse. She doesn’t hear her mom approach until her mom speaks to apologize. Kiden hides whatever she has in her hands behind her back as she turns to face her mother. Kiden tells her mom that she was in the wrong and everything is “ok”. Her mom wants to know if they can just sit and talk, at least once, without fighting. Kiden puts her mom off till she gets back from school. Her mom agrees that today after school will be fine. They both tell the other they love each other, Kiden with head hung low; to avoid looking her mom the eyes or getting a parental kiss.
After Kiden sees that her mom has left the kitchen with no intention to return; she takes a look at the pack of cigarettes she has taken from her moms purse. Kiden smacks the pack against her hand several times in desperation, but the pack is empty.
Kiden heads out the door, down her steps, and into the street. A drug dealer not more than 10 feet outside the door hits on her. She tells Eugene to causally to “get a life” as she walks on by him.
Kiden strides across the street and into the local convenient store. The owner is the same man who sold Kiden and her father ice cream on that fateful day in the distant past. She begs a lighter off of him and thanks him. He says things for her are always “on the house” as her father was like a member of his own family. Nino sees a young man reading a magazine and shouts past Kiden at him. Kiden tells him that a different young man has just shoplifted a magazine he is not old enough to buy while he was paying attention to the other young man.
Nino comes out from behind the counter to confront the would-be shoplifter. This gives Kiden the opening she was looking for; she reaches for the nearest cigarette pack. He tells her to put it back and the returns speaking to the young man. She tells Nino she will see him later as she lights up a cigarette and heads out the front door of the store to school.
Avenue D and East End, 8:45 A.M.
Kids can be seen playing handball on a city court behind a tall chain link fence. There is graffiti on the two cement wall sides of the court. Four street tough kids are playing handball. One calls another by the name “Gordo” and says he wants him to play better.
Gordo turns and tells Hector that he won’t mess up anymore. Hector agrees and launches a small blue ball at Gordo‘s head scoring a direct hit. All the kids send the victim on his way with jeers.
Kiden finds her friend Kara sitting on the cement, back against the fence, watching the game. Kara tells Kiden that last night, she thought she would not be able to get out of bed this morning. Kara tells Kiden that when she returned home, her Mom was “passed out” and she, herself, cried herself to sleep in front of the TV as she came down from last nights high. Kiden jokingly tells Kara that her emotional state form the night before is probably a “sign of brain damage”. Kiden then proceeds to share with her friend her secret desire that she wishes her mom would just “pass out”. Kiden further shares that she believes her mom is trying to hard at the “super mom” thing and has “the talk” planned for later this afternoon. Kara asks Kiden if she ever wishes that her teacher could write an excuse so she wouldn’t have to listen to it. Both girls laugh at the thought, but Kiden tells her friend the idea is “stupid”.
Kara repeats the saying “stupid is as stupid does” only have Kiden ask if she got it from her mom or a one of the “hippie” boyfriends that are hanging around her house. Kara tells Kiden that she is just jealous because she wishes she had her life. Kiden says the only thing she wishes is that her mom had a boyfriend to concentrate the misery on instead of her. Kara chimes in that this method works for her.
A small blue ball that has bounced over and onto Kiden’s bare midriff interrupts the girl’s conversation. Kara looks surprised as the gang wannabe approaches to retrieve his ball. He tells Kiden that her catch was good and then calls her “Morticia”. Kiden smartly replies to Kara the at least Hector does have one. Hector tells her to show a little “respect” and give him the ball. She takes this as the perfect moment to confront Hector. She quips, you gonna bust some caps cause you think your in a gang? He tells her that she has the right idea. She tells him to get lost. He then asks if she realizes that smoking is bad for her health. The two teenagers give each other the gang territorial stare in silence. Hector suddenly slaps Kiden on the right cheek, open handed but very hard and calls her a bitch. He also grabs the ball from the stunned Kiden.
Hector turns his back, problem solved, and begins walking away. Kiden, stunned, caresses her reddened cheek. She looks more angry than embarrassed. Suddenly, she strikes, by grabbing Hectors golden earring in his left ear. She quickly yanks, ripping the ring from the ear. Kara, surprised, gets up and runs to Kiden to see if she has really lost her mind this time. Hector grabs for his ear in pain and asks his buddy, Paolo, for a shank (razor blade type knife that folds to fit in a pocket). Paolo is already getting the shank for his friend without hesitation.
A teacher, Ms. Palmer, calls to the inner city playground for the kids to settle down as she makes her way over to the incident. She demands to know what is going on. Hector and his friends just look tough and say nothing. Kiden does the same. The teacher grabs Kiden by the collar with one hand and Hector by the collar with the other. Ms. Palmer tells Hector he is going to the nurse despite his protests. The teacher tells Kiden she is going to the guidance counselor. They are the talk of the playground even after they are removed.
Hector tells Kiden that she has just ruined his new jacket and he threatens her life. As Ms. Palmer drops him off at the Nurses office and takes Kiden away, she blows him a kiss.
Mrs. Palmer is in the middle of discussing Martin Luther King when Kiden strides in as if she owns the world. Kiden answers her question by stating, We are all doomed. Ms. Palmer asks for the counselor‘s note and Kiden nonchalantly tosses it at her teacher as she goes to find her seat. Ms. Palmer reinforces her teaching by telling the class that Kiden not completely wrong in her answer. A classmate says teasingly that this is the first for the semester. Kiden stands up and takes a bow from her assigned seat. Kara, who sits behind Kiden, whispers that they really are in trouble with Hector and his gang.
Kiden reminds her what reputation the boys will have if they beat up on a couple of girls.
Kara, however, goes on about how the gang will rip their eyes out. Kiden tells her to go ahead and leave. The bell rings and class is dismissed. Kara says she is way to scared to walk home by herself, kiden turns to her friend and sees the fear in her friend‘s eyes.
Kiden agrees to walk home with Kara and they leave the classroom together.
Hectore sees them walks toward them from behind. As he approaches, he calls to them as Mortician and cousin it. He then shoves Kara away from Kiden. Kiden turns and goes after him. Hector proceeds to wrap his hand around Kiden‘s throat. Kara gets up from the floor and asks Hector to stop and then tries to break up the fight. Hector tells some of the nearby girls to get Kara. The girls pull Kara away and push her to the ground while they kick and hit her. Kara begs for them to stop but the beating continues. Finally, Kiden is so angry she cannot hold her temper back anymore; she struggles free from Hector and attempts to reach Kara. Hector and his friends once again grab her and punch and kick her to the floor. Kiden screams Stop it at the top of her lungs”.
Sunddenly, the beatings and noises cease. Kiden opens here eyes only to behold a dreamscape. She is the only real person and the others are all frozen statues. Kiden stands and takes in the surreal sight around her. She walks over to where Ms. Palmer is frozen in panic. Then she walks over to where Kara is frozen in the midst of a beating. She talks to Kara but her friend remains frozen in place. She then walks toward Hector, realizing that this is real and it is very cool. She places a finger on Hector‘s arm to let him know he is not very tough. To her surprise a loud snapping sound is heard as his arm breaks.
Kiden finds herself once more surrounded by unruly teenagers as Hector grabs his arm and screams like he is being killed. One of Hectors friends screams for someone to call an ambulance. All Kiden can do is stand there, hands over her face in shock. She has no idea what happened, let alone how it happened.