The Promise of Rest

Institute History

  • 1997 June Screenwriters Lab


Hutchins Mayfield, 62, stalled poet and teacher of poetry at Duke University, has come to a serious juncture in his life. Recently estranged from Ann, his wife of 40 years, he is made aware of his only son's imminent death from AIDS. He has not seen nor heard from his son Wade for three years. Upon a visit to his old cousin Grainger Walters, 101, who is cared for by Hutch's life-long best friend, Strawson Stuart, he is prompted to rescue his fading son from a solitary existence in New York City.

Arriving in New York, Hutch meets Wade's caretaker, Ivory Bondurant, who is the sister of Wade's deceased black lover, Wyatt. It becomes apparent that the reason for Wade's avoidance of Hutch has stemmed from Wyatt's perception of Hutch as a racist and homophobe. However, the weak Wade concedes to be moved to Hutch's North Carolina house.

Hutch, riddled with fear and guilt, dedicates himself to the care of his ailing son. However, in this endeavor he wants to exclude all else from his life, specifically Ann, who he does not want to face since she left. Naturally Ann cannot comply with Hutch's selfish desire. After all, she is the boy's mother.

We learn of Hutch's intimate relationship to Straw, who has loved Hutch deeply since they were both young men. This is yet another relationship around which Hutch has built a wall of denial. Wade, facing death head-on, has no time for anything but pure truth, something Hutch could not be further from. Wade's desire for honesty and resolve forces Hutch to confront personal issues long repressed, namely his relationship to Wade, Ann and Straw and most of all to himself. In the wake of this realization of his years of denial, Hutch takes the halting and difficult steps towards resolution. Hutch's empty life takes on a richness which has long eluded him. But not without the great effort and pain of change.

Upon the passing of Wade, Hutch is left with the gift of self-love and truth. Wade has left another surprise, a new life in the form of a son which he fathered with Ivory. Hutch scatters Wade's ashes with his new found grandchild, sowing the seed of a hopeful future. Young child and grown man take the tentative steps towards growth.


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