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Nightingale

Peter Snowden, an army vet who works at a supermarket and lives with his mother in a ranch house, uses a laptop to record his escalating frustrations with his life. In what he calls “a moment of clarity,” Peter admits “I snapped” after his latest altercation with his mom, who told him he couldn’t entertain a guest at home. Her body now lies on the floor of her bedroom; while Peter procrastinates on what to do with it, stuffing a towel under the door to keep the stench confined. W hen a three-way vanity mirror ordered by his mother is delivered, Peter feels vindicated in eliminating such a vain old nuisance. Liberated, Peter celebrates by drinking and smoking – vices his mother would not have condoned.

For some time, Peter has been wanting to have his army buddy Edward over for dinner. Since his mother no longer has a say in the matter, Peter begins a long-overdue renovation of the house while obsessing over what will be a joyful reunion with his dearest friend. The only problem is Edward’s wife Gloria, who refuses to let Peter talk to her husband, despite repeated, well-rehearsed phone calls. The effort frays Peter’s nerves, and he grows frustrated with unwanted callers, all of whom ask to talk to his mother. It’s bad enough that it’s not Edward on the line – Peter has to lie about his mother’s whereabouts to a series of annoying people. These include a woman from her church, a bridge partner, and an old friend from Mobile. Last but not least, there’s Peter’s sister Vicki, who lives in another town and whom he dismisses by arguing that he, Peter, is the caregiver in this home, and that their mom wants nothing to do with Vicki.

Having convinced himself that Edward will be coming to dinner a week from Friday (it’s not clear if the two actually spoke), an ecstatic Peter weighs his menu choices. But he soon realizes he needs to take care of one inconvenience: disposing of his mother’s body. With some effort, he wraps her up in a quilt, dumps her in the trunk of his car, and heads off to bury her. Returning to clean up the blood and freshen the rooms, Peter continues his plans, angry with his mother for hiding an espresso machine and unable to get a replacement over the phone (his credit card maxed out). He also fends off more calls, including one from a parishioner who wants to drop by. No way – mom’s running a fever!

The day of the big dinner arrives. Newly coiffed, Peter tries on numerous outfits (including his old Army uniform) before settling on his father’s vintage suit. Everything is perfect – except that Edward never shows up. Peter finally calls Gloria, who tells him Edward isn’t coming, and never will. A shocked Peter screams “You’re going to hell!” before hanging up and trashing the house. Later, Peter gets a call from Vicki and turns on the TV: authorities have discovered the body of an elderly African American woman! With his world collapsing, Peter contemplates leaving town, and calls Gloria to apologize for his outbursts. When Edward calls back, Peter urges his friend to join him on a cross-country, Thelma-and-Louise-style adventure. But it’s not to be; rebuffed again, Peter decides to commit suicide by overdosing on pills and asphyxiating himself in the car. Ultimately he can’t go through with it, and he returns to the house.

After thwarting an 11th-hour attempted intrusion by Robert Beasley, the son of one his mother’s church friends, Peter shaves his head and reveals how, in 1981, his older brother died in a car accident when Peter was 6. Now, with both his brother and mother gone, Peter makes a final stand. He gets an unloaded rifle from the garage, postures menacingly at the window, waits for the SWAT team to storm the bedroom ... and turns off his laptop.