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QUANTUM LEAP: "Rule of Thumb"

written by Neale Sourna


"Quantum Leap" (1989-1993), "Dr. Sam Beckett", "Al 'The Observer' Calavicci", "Tina", "Gooshie", "Ziggy", and other concept elements the property of Belisarius Productions and Universal Studies.

This story precedes the TRILOGY of Fifth Season.*

"Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better.

His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping, each time, that his next leap will be ... the leap home."*


Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Teaser & Act One
Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Act Two
Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Act Three

Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Act Four

TEASER

FADE IN

INT. UPPER MIDDLE CLASS SUBURBAN HOUSE - EVENING

SCREAMS, SOBS, AND A DULL, DISTANT BANGING, as Dr. SAM BECKETT QUANTUM LEAPS into view.

Sam is body on body with LADONNA BECKSTON (36, gentle). Her bloody nose is pasted against the wall,
his puzzled face thrust hard against her tortured visage.

				LADONNA
Yes! Yes! All right! I'll get it back.

Sam stumbles, stepping aside and letting go of her arm, which he'd held twisted behind her. She slides
along the wall away from him, as he reaches out to her, the knuckles of his outstretched hands covered
with her blood.

				SAM
Oh, boy.

FADE OUT

END OF TEASER


ACT ONE

FADE IN

MONTAGE - NETWORK NEWS FOOTAGE

Houston, Texas, 1987: Oil derricks grind to a halt; businesses with CLOSED signs; FOR SALE sign in broken window of barren house; FORECLOSURE and AUCTION notices; a former luxury car heavily laden for moving.

INT. BECKSTON HOUSE, HALLWAY - EVENING

SAM rubs his bloody hands self-consciously, then puts them down...then behind...then hides them in his pockets.

LADONNA wipes her nose with the side of her hand then rotates her throbbing shoulder back into use. Sobs rack LUZ'S (8, depressed, watchful) little body as she picks up a STORE RECEIPT. Her mother takes it; crumpling and sticking it deep into her pocket.

The DULL BANGING continues as Sam looks from "his" wife to "his" daughter.

				SAM
Shsh.

Luz's breaths come in small gasps as she tries vainly to contain herself.

				SAM (continues)
It's okay...(to Luz) don't cry. It'll be fi--.

The INCESSANT DULL BANGING BUILDS to such an annoying level, that Sam jerks around to face it. He reacts to RINK (17, hostile, physical) methodically banging his head backward against the wall.

				SAM (continues)
Stop that!

The REVERB OF HIS VOICE IN THE SUDDEN STILLNESS shocks him as he tenderly reaches for the injured woman.

				SAM (continues)
Let me hel--.
				RINK
(with contempt)
YOU? HELP?
LaDonna takes Sam's hand as Rink turns away. Breathing hard, Luz stares at her parents.

LADONNA
I'm fine. You and Rink go on now.

The little girl looks tentatively at Sam then back to her mother.

				LADONNA (continues)
I told ya' I'm fine, baby, now go on. No
TV, Rink. Homework.
She gives the boy a gentle little push as he tersely shrugs it off. He stalks by Sam, snatching up his sister. She looks back over his shoulder as THEY EXIT. When they're out of sight, LaDonna slumps a tiny bit. With a big sniff she tilts her head back slightly to slow the blood flow and walks away as Sam follows.

 

INT. MASTER BATHROOM - EVENING

LADONNA runs cold water over a face cloth then drapes it over her face. She lets it refresh her as she massages her sore shoulder.

SAM stays at a respectful distance, looking around at the clean but worn towels, the dripping pipe under the sink with a bowl to catch water, a container with old soap bits. Everything gets used here to the last bit, and not because "it's good for the environment".

				SAM
It was an accident, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.
She takes a ragged, deep breath while removing the wet cloth. She looks straight ahead into the mirror.

SAM (continues)
I didn't.

Her head bobs a quick, jerky "yes". She pulls the medicine chest mirror open, takes an ointment tube from the cabinet, and faces him but doesn't meet his eye.

				LADONNA
I'll go back tomorrow, but the store might not
take Luz's shoes back, she's had them for--.

Sam reacts.

				SAM
"Shoes"? The child's shoes? That's okay. Forget it.
				LADONNA
But, you said you wanted--.
				SAM
Whatever I said, forget it.

He fidgets with his stained hands as she looks at them. She watches him closely as she steps away from the sink, permitting him to hesitantly step forward. Sam washes his hands vigorously but grimaces; they're sore. He reacts when LaDonna opens the tube and gently rubs ointment onto his scraped knuckles.

The DOORBELL RINGS and DISTANT RUNNING FOOTSTEPS give him relief from this intense situation. He gratefully leaves to answer the bell.

 

INT. FRONT ENTRANCE, BECKSTON HOUSE - EVENING

RINK RUNS AND THROWS THE DOOR OPEN for KASIMIR KACZMAREK (40, frustrated, energetic). Rink practically collides into the frenetic Kaz.

				KAZ
Whoa, tryin' to escape or what?
				RINK
Sounds good to me.
				KAZ
(conspiratorially)
If you pull a disappearing act, I won't be able
to get us out on the fishing trip, or have you
changed your mind?
The boy slightly shakes his head to say "no" as SAM APPROACHES slowly, trying to assess yet another new face with no name.

LADONNA (O.S.)
Who is it, Rink?
				RINK
Kaz!
				LADONNA (O.S.)
Say "hi" for me and add no Kaz to no TV.
				KAZ
Now, that's a wise woman and I bet you
have a ton of wonderful homework.
The boy playfully shrugs his shoulders.


SAM
You better get back to it like she says.

Rink looks out the door but reluctantly closes it. He gives Kaz a quick, sad glance before passing Sam with more hostile distance than required.


INT. LIVING ROOM - EVENING

KAZ makes himself at home.
				KAZ
(humorously wistful)
For a while, this place sounded like Stan and
Patty's Polish Pierogi Parlor back home on
tournament night.

Sam shuts his eyes to this news but it doesn't help.

KAZ (continues)
Reminded me of Trina, too.
(doesn't believe it)
Geez, I'm homesick.
				SAM
Kaz, I don't remember why you're here.
				KAZ
"Don't remember"? With all the project
coverage we're behind in? When you lose
your job, you'll remember.
				SAM
(to himself but overheard)
Problems at home AND the job, so much for
what's new.

Kaz gives him a "get serious" look.

KAZ
Berger's "what's new". At close tonight, Alvarez
"restructured" his entire team with the big axe.
				SAM
I'm sure he had his reasons.
Kaz is slightly perplexed at this, then chuckles with some inside joke.

KAZ
"HE" hasn't called yet?
				SAM
(not sure)
I don't think so. Why?
				KAZ
Alvarez' group gets half of Berger's funds.
(beat)
And us.
				SAM
Well, I'm sure it's for the best.
Kaz's eyes pop, totally dumbfounded.

KAZ
Are you possessed?
(ticks off on fingers)
It's "Reaganomics". It's cutbacks. It's no
markets of any kind. And Alvarez still floats
to the top.
			SAM
You say that like Alvarez is responsible for
everything.
				KAZ
The Cold Hard A remains while the rest of
us go on and off the dole. It makes a man think.
(with scorn)
I'm HERE, with a Carnegie Mel DEGREE, a
WHITE collar, and NO union. Don't lose as
much as I did, Deuce, before you get wise.
PHONE RINGS, RUNNING FOOTSTEPS.

RINK (O.S.)
Hello? Hey! Que pasa?
				KAZ
Well, it's MIZ Alvarez.
Sam rolls his eyes at this clarification of her gender as the restless Kaz's full attention is suddenly so focused on the boy's conversation that he is physically slowly drawn from Sam to it.

RINK (O.S.)
School's fine, Aunt Deb. Football's great.
(to be overheard)
"HOME"? IT STINKS.
(beat)
Yeah, he's here so I can't--. I can?! Sure,
I'll see ya' then. I'll get her.
(beat)
Mama, it's for you!
				KAZ
(looking VERY morose)
I need a beer.

KAZ DRAGS SAM OUT OF THE HOUSE, AND--.


INT. OLD PHONE SETTEE - SAME TIME

--LADONNA HEARS the DOOR SLAM as she takes the PHONE.
		LADONNA
Hi. What?
(beat)
Well, congrat--!
(beat, beat)
Oh, no. That'll be hard on them and their families.
No money at all is bad enough, but, last year, going
through that cattle call to file for his unemployment
checks and the food stamps broke Deuce's spirit.
I'm so truly thankful you got his team back on.
(beat)
NO! I HAVEN'T told him.
(beat)
D.A., since third grade, have I EVER broken
an oath to you?
RINK walks by with a HUGE sandwich. LaDonna gestures him to take it back. He takes a cocky, demonstratively big bite and leaves. She shakes her head. A CAR DOOR'S SLAM makes her totally alert.
		LADONNA (continues)
Can we talk later, Deuce is back--.
(beat)
No. He doesn't tell me who I can talk to.
It's late, that's all. Really.
(beat)
Yeah, Mamie Lee's Ice House--. Oh! And,
Luzzie says, "kisses".
(beat)
I'll tell her. Goodnight.

INT. FRONT ENTRANCE, BECKSTON HOUSE - NIGHT

A CAR DRIVES OFF as, alone, SAM REENTERS the quiet dark house. He walks slowly about the sparse carcass of a home. On its walls are clean, fluted squares no longer covered by framed pictures. He sighs.


INT. MASTER BEDROOM, BECKSTON HOUSE - NIGHT

LADONNA prepares herself for bed. SAM'S EYES seem hurt to view the BRUISES ON HER BACK AND ARMS. He clears his throat barely able to speak.

SAM
I'm really sorry about earlier. It WON'T
happen again. NEVER.
				LADONNA
Yes, I know.
				SAM
NO. I REALLY MEAN IT. It won't happen
again, as long as I'M here.

She smiles weakly as sleepy LUZ ENTERS timidly and looks up at Sam. Her mother deftly covers herself with a robe.
				LUZ
Feel better, Daddy?
				SAM
"Better"?
				LUZ
You had a bad headache before, didn't you?
				SAM
Huh? Ah, yes, right. It's gone now.
				LADONNA
Luz, bedtime.
				SAM
Yeah. It's bedtime, honey.
She hugs and kisses her mother then takes her father's hand, looks up into his face. She leads him out. LaDonna watches them go, then redrops the robe. Looking over her shoulder, she sighs at her mirrored image.


INT. LUZ'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

A GERBIL IN ITS CAGE peeks out at SAM who playfully puts LUZ to bed. She clutches a little, worn out stuffed dog whose head pokes out from under the covers.

LUZ
(very serious)
Daddy? Remember, you said a long time ago
that you only get angry because your head
hurts you?
			SAM
Well, I don't think I'll be having any more
headaches for a while.
				RINK
Humph.

Sam looks around into RINK'S SCOWLING FACE at the doorway. RINK EXITS. Sam's attention returns to Luz and he finds her staring hard into his face.

SAM
Things'll be different. I'll fix everything. Now go to sleep.

He playfully kisses her over and over until she smiles...a little and closes her eyes. He TURNS OUT THE LIGHT.


INT. KAZ'S ROOM - SAME TIME

KAZ writes out a CHECK to "TRINA KACZMAREK" whose name also appears with a line drawn through it in the upper left hand corner below "KASIMIR KACZMAREK". In the memo section, it says "CHILD SUPPORT". He rips it out of the book, stuffs it in an envelope that's stamped and addressed. Licking it shut, he slowly crosses the room and rams the envelope into his jacket pocket.

His KITCHENETTE APARTMENT IS CRAMPED WITH MORE BOXES THAN FURNITURE. Turning, he bumps his leg on a low jutting TABLE below TWO FRAMED PICTURES on the wall: one of him and his family, all smiles, except the woman whose face is scribbled over; the other is a slightly yellowed company newsletter with a photo of a young woman headlined -- "DEBORAH ALVAREZ JUSTICE SAVES THE DAY".
He stares at each one. Both hang a little crooked on the wall. He straightens the newsletter.


INT. MASTER BEDROOM, BECKSTON HOUSE - SAME TIME

LADONNA calmly waits and just beams with life and love when SAM approaches, catching him off guard, when she attempts to kiss him. He turns away embarrassed, ashamed. Hurt, she slowly lies down, turning away from him. Sam's pajama bottoms lay carefully placed out on the bed for him. He quickly changes while LaDonna pulls the covers up to her nose, her eyes squeezed tight, as a big tear rolls down.


INT. BECKSTON KITCHEN - NEXT MORNING

SAM ENTERS and all eyes lock onto his every move.

SAM
Good...morning, all.

Returning their gaze, everyone hurries back to their meals. Sam surprises LADONNA with a gentle kiss and rubs LUZ'S cheek until he coaxes a shy smile out of her. RINK stabs his food.

SAM (continues)
I believe that's already dead.

No reaction from Rink.

SAM (continues)
How's school?

Without looking up, Rink answers through clenched teeth.

RINK
Fine.
				SAM
Look at me.
Sam searches Rink's face, as the boy's eyes alternately glare at him then avoid contact.

SAM (continues)
Any problems I can help you with?
				RINK
(snide)
At school? Or at home?
LaDonna breaks the tension by suddenly shoving the sugar bowl to Sam.

LADONNA
Your son's as quick as a whip, like you, Deuce.

She prompts the boy.

LADONNA (continues)
Straight...?
				RINK
A's. Big deal, now I can work for Aunt Deb an--.
				LUZ
"A"...for Alison.
Rink makes a face at Luz who sticks her tongue out in return.

SAM
"Alison"?
				LADONNA
You remember. The Donovan girl.
(smiles at her son)
It's gettin' serious, I think.
				RINK
We just go to the movies, that's all.
Expectantly, he appears to brace himself as he scrutinizes his father closely. Sam feels the weight of their guarded anticipation, until he finally nods.

SAM
Your mother and I've been to a few movies, too.

Everyone exhales simultaneously and jump when LaDonna claps her hands.

LADONNA
School.
(to Sam)
Kaz'll be here soon.

The KIDS EXIT. Sam hurries from the table, but stops to help clear the table.

LADONNA (continues)
(shocked)
You haven't helped me in a long time.
				SAM
I'm overdue then.
They laugh, but deeply fascinated by her face, Sam clears his throat and backs clumsily for the door.

SAM (continues)
I better...I haven't shaved yet.


INT. MASTER BATH MIRROR & BATH - MORNING

SAM's nearly finished shaving. The ALTERED VERSION OF HIS OWN FACE looking back goes unnoticed. Also, unnoticed, is the SOUND OF THE IMAGING DOOR OPENING AND CLOSING. AL, THE OBSERVER, ENTERS.

OBSERVER
There you are!

Sam starts.
OBSERVER (continues)
You cut yourself.
(beat)
Ziggy and Gooshie had a heck of a time getting
a fix on your location. I was afraid we'd lost you
for good with these similarities and systems' deviatio--!
(beat)
What?

Sam's staring hard at him. The Observer looks around.

OBSERVER
What?!
				SAM
(amazed)
You're Al!
				OBSERVER
And always will be.
				SAM
What're you doing here?
				OBSERVER
You mean, what're YOU doing here?
				SAM
I live here.
The Observer chuckles momentarily, until Sam's casual gaze into the MIRROR brings no reaction. Sam stares in horror at his hands.

				SAM (continues)
Last night, I washed her blood off my hands
and I don't even remember hitting her.
				OBSERVER
That's because YOU didn't.
				SAM
(sarcastic)
Yeah, of course.
				OBSERVER
It happened BEFORE you arrived.
Sam mournfully shakes his head.

SAM
How could I hurt her, like that?

OBSERVER
That wasn't you. You didn't do that.
				SAM
I practically twisted her arm out of its socket.
				OBSERVER
Look in the mirror. Just look.

MIRROR ANGLE

Sam looks at himself. At his unnoticed altered visage.

SAM
Yeah. So?

The Observer points to Sam and then to the mirror.

OBSERVER
YOU are Sam Beckett. And THAT schlemiel is
Deuce Beckston.

The Observer stares at him...and it's not sinking in.

OBSERVER (continues)
Maybe you're mind's Swiss cheesed on the matter.
(patiently, watchfully)
Normally, eventhough I see you...as you, everyone,
including you, should see the outward appearance of
the person whose life you've Leaped into.

Sam's jaw drops in realization, as his eyes search the reflected face.

OBSERVER (continues)
They say we all got a double somewhere, personally,
I think I'm one of a kind.
				SAM
(automatic)
Thank god.
The Observer feigns offense.

SAM (continues)
I don't like this.

OBSERVER
That's what I've been saying every second for ten days
while Ziggy searched for you.
(beat)
It's kinda eerie. Spooky. Freaky deeky.
				SAM
Al, until you got here, I didn't remember leap....
I KNOW there's two of us; but, I don't FEEL
any difference between me...and him.
The Observer seems VERY disturbed by this.

OBSERVER
That's not good, Sam. You're not supposed to feel or
think or even act like him. You should just be yourself
...as always.
(beat)
You do have a thing or two in common, though, that's
for sure. You're both scientists, look alike...in fact--.

Sam organizes his thoughts and feelings, clarifying more for himself than Al.

SAM
I'm not a wife beater. I don't have a son who hates
me or a little daughter, who's frightened to tears.
My job. Al, everything needs fixing. Where do I start?
				OBSERVER
With La...LaDonna.
(to self)
Another coincidence? Still can't get over that one.
				SAM
What?
				OBSERVER
Nevermind. Sometime in the next two days Deuce
puts her in the hospital.
				SAM
How badly did I hurt her?
				OBSERVER
Did "he" hurt her. She'll need plastic surgery.
Sam shudders like he's freezing and quickly looks to see if the Observer saw it. He didn't.

OBSERVER (continues)
The police pull him in but he's released.
				SAM
Released?! How?!
				OBSERVER
Problems with how he's processed, then when she
wakes...she doesn't press charges.
				SAM
That's ridiculous! He--. Wait!
				OBSERVER
What?
				SAM
I'm here now and I won't touch her, so...?
				OBSERVER
(checks Handlink, surprised)
Good Choice. Not beating. No hospital. She's fine.
(beat)
There's still a long financial struggle; but...can it
be that easy?
				SAM
It CAN be that easy.
Both wait in vain for the Leap.
				OBSERVER (continues)
Well, that just never works when you want it to.
Sam picks up then absentmindedly fingers LaDonna's pantyhose, that'd been hanging to dry.
				SAM
(emphatically measured)
Al, I can't stay here. I can't.... Luz said I
have headaches.
The Observer fiddles with the Handlink.
				OBSERVER
No medical documentation on that, Sam. Ziggy
suggests it's a standing alibi.
				SAM
What else?
				OBSERVER
Not much. These sort of families usually try
very hard to stay out of police and hospital reports--.
The Observer sees something in the Handlink but holds out.

SAM
What?
				OBSERVER
I'm not sure--.
				SAM
Ziggy's "not sure" and you're "not sure"--.
(beat)
Check the kids.
				OBSERVER
I am. It's taking a while. Oh. The boy...Rink, has
"run-ins with the law, which escalate". Not good
there. And in a few years...Luz...
(reacts)
...Luz "disappears on her way home from school";
but...but....
He bangs the side of the Handlink.

SAM
But what?!
				OBSERVER
..."about the head."
				SAM
What?!
				OBSERVER
Gooshie!!
Listens to offscreen presence.

OBSERVER (continues)
Gooshie says some of Ziggy's systems are crashing.
He's afraid that running into another you is straining--.
				SAM
"Strain"?! Tell Ziggy to get her primadonna systems
up and figure something. NOW.
The Observer remains calm, taking careful notice of his friend.

OBSERVER
She's working on it. We're all working on it.
Sam is startled by a CAR HORN. He looks out the window.

SAM
It's Kaz. Gotta go.
He stops but doesn't look at Al. He takes a deep breath to speak but can't form the words.

OBSERVER
You're here to make it better for them, Sam,
and I'm here to help you. Now THAT I'm sure of.
Unconvinced, Sam leaves.

 

FADE OUT

END OF ACT ONE

"Rule of Thumb", Act Two


Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Teaser & Act One
Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Act Two
Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Act Three

Quantum Leap: "Rule of Thumb", Act Four
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