This is an excerpt from a completed screenplay.
"Dead Line" - screenplay by Derek Paterson. FADE IN: EXT. LOST HIGHWAY MOTEL - NIGHT Torrential rain bounces off the ground. Anybody with any brains would be inside, huddled round a warm fire. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT JOHNNY KRUGER sits in the dark, smoking. He's around 30s, handsome in a beat-up kind of way. His eyes are fixed on a particular motel room. The light's on inside, curtains are shut. The light goes out. Johnny ditches his cigarette out the window. He picks up a camera with a big flashbulb. EXT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Johnny sneaks up to the door, camera in hand. A shadow moves up ahead. Johnny freezes. The shadow resolves into a fat mustached man, DUKAYNE, carrying a camera just like Johnny's. Dukayne and Johnny stare at each other for a stunned moment. Suddenly it's a mad race to the door. INT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Dukayne kicks the door open! FLASH! A naked MAN and WOMAN caught in the act. The Woman SCREAMS and covers herself with sheets. Naked Guy gets tangled in the sheets, falls out of bed, pulls them off the Woman. She squeals and grabs a pillow instead. DUKAYNE Enjoy your night, folks! Dukayne leaps outside, shouldering Johnny out his way. JOHNNY Dukayne, you son of a bitch! Johnny takes his photo opportunity. FLASH! Naked Guy comes up off the floor holding a HUGE REVOLVER. Johnny's eyes widen! He leaps for the door. BLAM! The wood splinters inches from his head. Johnny runs outside as fast as his legs will carry him. EXT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Johnny runs to his car. Another car roars past, Dukayne at the wheel. Dukayne grins and flips Johnny an ironic salute. Johnny swings a kick at Dukayne's car but misses. EXT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny skids to a stop, wrenches the door open, throws the camera inside, climbs behind the wheel. EXT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Naked Guy's at the door, trying to see Johnny in the rain. NAKED WOMAN (O.S.) Shoot him, Harvey! Shoot him! INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny turns the key -- the damp engine COUGHS and RASPS. EXT. MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Naked Guy grins. He takes aim. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT BLAM! Glass shatters! Johnny ducks! The engine finally starts! He slams 'er into gear and stamps on the gas. EXT. LOST HIGHWAY MOTEL - NIGHT Johnny peels out of there and onto the road. Naked Guy takes aim again. But the car lights disappear in the curtain of rain. Naked Guy lowers his revolver. NAKED WOMAN (O.S.) Did ya get him, Harvey? Did ya? NAKED GUY Nah. He got away. Naked Guy turns and discovers a BUSTY BLONDE in a flimsy robe, watching him from next door. She looks admiringly at his crotch, and smiles. Naked Guy grins. NAKED WOMAN (O.S.) Harvey? Harvey? NAKED GUY Just coming! He shrugs at Busty Blonde and goes inside, closes the door. EXT. CITY STREET - NIGHT Johnny's car pulls up outside a Gothic office building. A car sits parked across the street with its lights out. EXT. BUILDING ENTRANCE - NIGHT Tarnished business plates alongside intercom buttons: SILVER DOLLAR LOAN COMPANY PHOENIX TALENT AGENCY KRUGER INVESTIGATIONS INT. STAIRWAY - NIGHT Johnny climbs upstairs with his camera. MYRTLE an attractive office girl skips downstairs, buttoning her coat and carrying an umbrella. She brightens when she sees him. MYRTLE Hi Johnny. JOHNNY Hey Myrtle. MYRTLE Me and the girls are gonna go out to dinner, then catch a show. You wanna tag along? JOHNNY Thanks, I got some typing to do. Maybe next time. MYRTLE Don't chip a nail. She goes downstairs. Johnny watches her with interest. INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT Block letters on a frosted glass door panel: J. KRUGER PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS DISCREET - PERSONAL Footsteps on the stairway. Johnny climbs into view, wet and weary. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT Where a secretary would sit, if Johnny could afford one. An inner door leads to Johnny's private office. Johnny enters, turns on the light. He takes off his hat and throws it, it misses the hat stand by a mile. He shrugs off his coat, hangs it up. The secretary's phone and the phone in Johnny's office both RING at the same time. Johnny picks up his hat, hangs it up. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Both phones continue to RING as Johnny opens a file cabinet, takes out a bottle, pours himself a glass of whiskey. He sits down, takes a drink, and answers the phone. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Kruger Investigations. You lost it, we'll find it. CLICK. Dead line. He stares at the receiver. Hangs up. Empties his glass. Smacks his lips. INT. PHONE BOOTH - NIGHT A big gloved hand hangs up the receiver. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny opens a desk drawer. Inside, a revolver. He cracks the gun open, checks it's loaded, snaps it shut again. He places it in the open drawer, ready if he needs it. He picks up his phone and dials a number. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Hey Danny, it's me. I got a little job for you. I'll bring it over first thing in the morning. Nothing fancy, just a couple of prints and the negative. See you then. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Footsteps and a big shadow come up the stairway. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny pours himself another drink. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT The big shadow falls across the frosted glass panel with Johnny's name. A big gloved hand pushes the door open. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT The big shadow falls across the door to Johnny's office. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny swallows his drink. He looks at the door. JOHNNY It's open. The door opens and the BIGGEST GUY we've ever seen fills the doorway. His face is chiseled from granite. His eyes take in the shabby office, then fix on Johnny. Water drips from his outsized raincoat, forming a puddle. JOHNNY Nice weather we're having, huh? What can I do for you? The Biggest Guy slips his hand inside his raincoat. Johnny snatches up his gun and LETS HIM HAVE IT. Six sizzlers in the chest! The Biggest Guy grimaces and clutches his blood-spattered coat. He staggers, groans, timbers back into the outer office, leaving his feet in Johnny's office. Johnny cracks his smoking revolver open and reloads from a box of bullets in the drawer. When he's finished he ambles over to the Biggest Guy. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny steps over the body and goes to the outer door. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny peers out into the hallway. Empty. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny sits down on the edge of the secretary's desk, picks up the phone, dials a number. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Sergeant Novello, please. Mr. Johnny Kruger calling. Sure I'll hold, but I got a dead man here in my office. Johnny looks down at the Biggest Guy, whose gloved hand is halfway inside his coat and appears to be clutching... an envelope? Johnny frowns. He gingerly takes the envelope from the dead man's hand, turns it over. A single line of neat writing: "Personal - Mr. J. Kruger." An ANGRY MALE VOICE buzzes from the receiver, Johnny snatches it up. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Hey Tony, it's me. So guess what? I'm looking at a three-hundred pound lump of muscle lying dead on my carpet. Johnny opens the envelope with one hand while the angry voice buzzes in his ear. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Never saw him before. He just walked in and drew his rod. Well what do you think happened? You think I'm gonna sit there and let some big ape shoot at me? Inside the envelope, a single sheet and a paper-clipped 50 dollar bill. Johnny unfolds and reads the letter while the angry voice buzzes in his ear. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Nah, he's not the jealous husband type. Looks more like a professional fighter. Heavyweight class. Am I glad he didn't use me as a punchbag. More angry buzzing. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Sure, I'm not going anywhere. Thanks, Tony. And wear a coat. It's coming down. Johnny hangs up and goes back into his office, stepping over the body. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny pushes the filing cabinet over to one side to reveal a damp patch of wall. Buried in the wall, A BULLET in a cracked hole. He takes a smaller .38 from the filing cabinet's top drawer and cracks it open. Five bullets. Sixth chamber is empty. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny puts the .38 in the Biggest Guy's gloved hand, closing the fingers around the butt. He searches the body and pulls out the Biggest Guy's wallet. It contains a driver's license in the name of JOEY VREES, and a wad of green. Johnny takes 10 dollars, leaving the other money in the wallet, and puts the wallet back. JOHNNY That's for the bullets, you dumb schmuck. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny sits down, pours himself another drink, throws it back. He sighs. He picks up the letter and reads it again. (We'll meet LILY soon, she sounds young and attractive.) LILY (V.O.) Dear Mr. Kruger. You were recommended to me by a friend. Desperate circumstances force me to seek your advice in a matter of some delicacy. The bearer of this letter, Mr. Vrees, will bring you to me if you are willing to accept my employ. If not, I trust that the enclosed fifty dollar retainer will purchase your silence. Sincerely, Miss Lily Chapel. Johnny holds the 50 dollar bill up to the light. JOHNNY I'm very pleased to meet you, Miss Chapel. EXT. CITY STREET - NIGHT Still pouring o' rain. A squad car pulls up behind Johnny's car. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Three pairs of feet pound up the stairway. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT SERGEANT TONY NOVELLO, 35, a weary plainclothes 'tec, enters followed by TWO UNIFORM COPS. They study the Biggest Guy's corpse with interest. Novello steps into Johnny's office, noting the .38 in the Biggest Guy's hand. INT. JOHNNY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny salutes Novello with his glass. JOHNNY Join me in a toast, Sarge? NOVELLO Knock it off, ace. Who is he? JOHNNY Driver's licence says Joey Vrees. NOVELLO What's he to you? JOHNNY I told you, I never saw him before. Novello picks up the almost empty whiskey bottle. NOVELLO Been hitting it pretty hard, ace. JOHNNY It isn't every night I kill a man. Novello notices the bullet hole in the wall. NOVELLO Guess he shouldn't have tried to plug you. Couple inches to the left, he would've blown your brains out. JOHNNY Lucky for me, huh? Cop #1 brings the Biggest Guy's .38 and wallet to Novello, who opens the wallet and reads the Driver's Licence. NOVELLO Joey Vrees. Got a feeling I should know that name. He counts the money in the wallet. NOVELLO Over seventy bucks here. Wonder what Mr. Vrees did for a living? JOHNNY You know, if some of that dough was to find its way into the Police Benevolent Fund, I wouldn't say anything. What with the swell job you guys do. With a cynical smile Novello drops 20 bucks onto Johnny's desk. He slips a 10 to each of the Cops, takes 20 for himself, puts the remaining 10 back in the wallet. He gives the wallet to Cop #1 who returns it to the corpse. JOHNNY You always play square, Tony. I like that about you. Some guys-- NOVELLO You remember Mack Eastman? Best damn detective I ever knew. Mack once told me about this dirty cop, he always carried two guns. One for himself, the other to put into the hand of anyone who crossed him. He'd blast a couple bullets from the backup gun into the wall, then claim the guy he just shot tried to ventilate him. Me, I don't see anything wrong with that. He greased a lot of bad guys who deserved it. But this one time he made a mistake. The guy he shot, his hand was like a store dummy's, you know? Made out of wood. Only he wore gloves, so the cop didn't know. Johnny looks at the Biggest Guy's gloved hand. Cop #2 peels the glove off. The hand underneath is real. Johnny starts breathing again. JOHNNY So what happened to the cop? NOVELLO He rode the lightning. Mack said lights went out all over the county. They didn't restore power till next morning. JOHNNY Hell of a story. Sure you don't want a drink? NOVELLO So this guy Vrees. He decides to climb three flights of stairs so he can shoot a complete stranger. How do you figure that? JOHNNY Maybe he was a hit man. There's plenty of people in this city don't like me. NOVELLO I don't like you, ace. You're a thorn in my ass. Johnny reaches for the bottle, Novello snatches it away. JOHNNY You arresting me for drinking? NOVELLO How does withholding evidence sound? JOHNNY I wouldn't hold out on you, Tony. Not for all the pasta in Little Italy. Novello sighs with frustration and gives Johnny his bottle. NOVELLO The meat wagon's on its way. You gotta help them carry your three- hundred pound friend downstairs. JOHNNY My pleasure. On the way out Novello pauses to talk to Cop #1. He jerks his thumb at Johnny. Cop #1 nods understanding. Novella exits taking Cop #2 with him. Cop #1 takes off his hat and sits down. He looks pointedly at the bottle. Johnny finds another glass and pours three fingers. Cop #1 grins his appreciation and knocks it back. JOHNNY I gotta go take a leak. Don't go away. Johnny exits. Cop #1 helps himself to another drink. INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT Johnny grabs his hat and coat and exits into the hallway. EXT. BUILDING ENTRANCE - NIGHT Rain lashes the street. The cop car is gone. Johnny stands in the doorway and looks up and down the street, searching. EXT. CITY STREET - NIGHT He sees the car across the street, near a phone booth. Johnny hurries across the street. He peers into the car, it's empty. He looks around, then slips a jimmy out of his pocket. He pops the driver's door in a second. INT. CAR - NIGHT Johnny climbs in. He rummages in the glovebox, checks out the back seat, finds a folded newspaper. There's a B/W picture of a smiling man (AVONDALE, 30s) in a sharp suit, and a girl (LILY, 25), very pretty and smartly dressed. Avondale directs Lily to cut a ribbon using scissors. The headline says, GENEROUS BUSINESSMAN OPENS NEW ORPHANAGE. Under this, "Mr. Beauregard Avondale And Fianceé Miss Lily Chapel Do The Honors. City's Children Will Benefit From His Benevolence." JOHNNY We meet again, Miss Chapel. INT. PHONE BOOTH - NIGHT Johnny shuts the door against the rain. He has the newspaper tucked under his arm. He dials a number. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Operator, I'm looking for the number of a Miss Lily Chapel. The buzzing voice of the female OPERATOR. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) No I don't, but maybe you can help me out here. This is Detective Sergeant Anthony Novello, I'm working out of the Thirteenth Precinct, we're very concerned about Miss Chapel and I really need her phone number. The buzzing voice takes on a note of excitement. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Yes I'll hold, thank you. He stares at the photograph. Becoming mesmerized by Lily Chapel's smile. The buzzing voice makes a report. Johnny finds a pencil and scribbles on the newspaper. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Thank you Operator. The Detective Bureau greatly appreciates your help. Yes put me through please. RINGING TONE... Johnny draws a comic mustache and beard on Avondale's face. LILY (V.O.) Scottsdale Five-Six-Oh-Three. JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) I'd like to talk to Miss Lily Chapel. LILY (V.O.) May I ask who is calling? JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) My name is Kruger. I'm a private-- LILY (V.O.) I'm afraid you have the wrong number. There's no one of that name here. Johnny gets wise... JOHNNY (INTO PHONE) Look, Miss Chapel, there's been an accident. Something happened to Joey Vrees. I've got your address. Can I come over and talk to you? CLICK. Dead line. Johnny hangs up. EXT. CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT A well-to-do house in an expensive area. Lights are on downstairs. Two big cars sit in the driveway. Johnny's car draws up across the street. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny lights a cigarette and studies the house. EXT. CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT Johnny arrives at the front door and rings the bell. INT. HALLWAY - CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT ROSE, 17, a stunning but vacuous blonde, answers the door. She leans against the frame and smiles seductively. ROSE Well hi there. JOHNNY Good evening. My name is Kruger. I'm here to see Miss Chapel. I believe she's expecting me. ROSE I'm Miss Chapel. Won't I do? Lily arrives. She stares at Johnny, surprised. He stares back. Mutual attraction crackles between them. Rose sees this and her smile vanishes. LILY Rose, why don't you ask Beau if he wants another drink? ROSE Well gee, if you want rid of me so you can talk to your gentleman caller, you only got to say. Rose gives Johnny a disappointed look and exits into the living room. JOHNNY Sorry if I'm busting up a party. We got cut off, Miss Chapel. LILY You shouldn't have come here. Avondale comes bustling toward the front door. He takes a neat photo, but in the flesh he's physically powerful and he doesn't suffer fools. LILY You're lost, you're asking for directions. Please, Mr. Kruger. Her eyes beg Johnny. Avondale arrives and looks Johnny up and down with disdain. AVONDALE Is there a problem? LILY This gentleman is looking for an address on Eugenie Street. AVONDALE What's your name? JOHNNY Roger, sir, Roger Wilkes. I'm really sorry to cause any inconvenience. I've been driving around in circles for hours, I think I've passed your house three times, at least. AVONDALE That your car? JOHNNY Yeah. AVONDALE Continue on, Eugenie's third on your right. JOHNNY Well thank you very much, I really do appreciate it. AVONDALE On your way, Mr. Wilkes. JOHNNY I will, and sorry again for intruding-- Avondale closes the door on Johnny. EXT. CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT Johnny walks back to his car, hands thrust into his coat pockets. A smile tugs at his lips. INT. HALLWAY - CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT Lily opens a silver cigarette case and taps a cigarette against the back of her hand. LILY That wasn't very polite, Beau. AVONDALE I have little time for someone who can't read street signs. You've no time for smoking. We're going to be late for dinner. You better get your coat on. Lily returns the cigarette to its silver case. Avondale brings Lily her coat and helps her into it. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny puts a cigarette to his lips. But stops as-- EXT. CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT Avondale, Lily and a huge uniformed chauffeur, LARS, exit the house. Lars holds an umbrella over Lily. He opens a car door for her, she climbs in. Lars hurries round to the other side and opens Avondale's door. Lars pauses, looks across the street. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny slides low down so he can't be seen. EXT. CHAPEL RESIDENCE - NIGHT Lars climbs into the car, starts the engine, turns on the lights, reverses out of the driveway. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny watches as Avondale's car drives past him. He catches a glimpse of Lily in the back seat. Johnny starts his engine. EXT. CITY STREETS - NIGHT Avondale's car speeds through the city. Johnny's car follows at a discreet distance. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR (MOVING) - NIGHT Johnny lights his cigarette. EXT. GORILLA CLUB - NIGHT A flashing neon pink gorilla sign smiles, scowls, smiles. Avondale's car draws up. The DOORMAN hurries forward with an umbrella and opens the car's rear door. EXT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Pulls in further along the street. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - NIGHT Johnny straightens his tie and checks himself out in the rearview mirror. INT. GORILLA CLUB LOBBY - NIGHT A ferocious stuffed King Kong wannabe "greets" guests. INT. GORILLA CLUB RESTAURANT - NIGHT The MAITRE'D seats Avondale and Lily at the best table in the house, fawning over them. DRAY, a Black piano player, entertains the CUSTOMERS. He's handsome and he has talent. INT. GORILLA CLUB LOBBY - NIGHT Johnny checks in his coat and hat. The HAT GIRL smiles at him. Johnny approaches the Maitre'D and whispers into his ear. Some green exchanges hands. The Maitre'D snaps his fingers and a WAITER comes running. INT. GORILLA CLUB RESTAURANT - NIGHT Johnny sits at a small table behind a pillar, all alone. But he can see the stage, and wall mirrors allow him to watch Avondale and Lily. A WAITRESS brings him a cocktail. Johnny sips it and admires the Waitress as she walks away. She notices, and likes it. Dray finishes his set, Customers applaud. Dray is joined by VONDA, a well-stacked Black woman in a shimmering dress, plus a DRUMMER and DOUBLE BASE PLAYER. The band kicks up with a jazz number. Vonda SINGS, and Johnny is mesmerized. Dray watches Vonda as he plays, a little smile on his lips. A MAN IN A TUXEDO bends down to say something to Avondale, who nods. Avondale says something to Lily, excusing himself. He follows the Tuxedo and disappears. Lily takes her purse and heads for the little girls room. Dray's eyes follow her, his smile takes on a new meaning. Johnny notices, and wonders. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE LADIES REST ROOM - NIGHT Lily steps out, Johnny's waiting for her. LILY What the hell are you doing here? JOHNNY I can walk away right now. A WOMAN squeezes past them and enters the rest room. Johnny leads Lily down the hallway to a quieter spot. LILY What happened to Mr. Vrees? JOHNNY He got into an argument with some friends of mine. LILY Mr. Vrees doesn't usually lose arguments. JOHNNY My friends were forty-five caliber bullets. LILY Do you shoot people often? JOHNNY Only when they annoy me. LILY Mr. Vrees was an associate of my fiancé's. He won't be pleased. JOHNNY I won't tell him if you won't. She opens her purse, pulls out a cigarette. Johnny strikes a match and lights it for her. They stare into each other's eyes. The match burns down. Lily blows the flame out. LILY I'm being blackmailed, Mr. Kruger. JOHNNY Blackmail. The act of gaining money through threat or intimidation. LILY I received a letter. Typed, and unsigned. The author demanded ten thousand dollars. Otherwise they would inform my fiancé of... an indiscretion. JOHNNY And was there... an indiscretion? LILY Yes. JOHNNY How many people know about it? LILY Only myself and the other person involved. JOHNNY That kinda points to the guilty party. LILY No. JOHNNY You sound pretty sure. LILY I'm afraid you'll have to take my word for it. Lars appears. He towers over Johnny, ready to pound him. LARS (Swedish accent) Is this man bothering you, Miss Chapel? LILY No, Lars, he's a family friend. Thank you. Lars glares at Johnny, and exits. Lily sighs with relief. JOHNNY I'm touched by your concern. LILY I didn't want Lars to get into an argument with those friends of yours. JOHNNY Can I see the letter? LILY I burned it. It was hand-delivered. No postmark, no return address. JOHNNY I'm just wondering if I should take notes here. LILY There was also a photograph. It came with the letter. JOHNNY Family snapshot? LILY No... JOHNNY Listen, I'm a big boy, I once kissed a girl on the lips. If you were caught with your panties down-- She slaps him. He grins. JOHNNY I apologize if my kissing remark offended you. Let me guess. You burned the photo along with the letter, right? Lily closes her eyes and looks away, ashamed. LILY I had to. JOHNNY That bad? No letter, no photograph, no evidence. LILY You think I'm making this up? JOHNNY Maybe you're one of those spoiled little rich girls who like attention? She slaps him again. JOHNNY Hey, I think I hit a nerve. He takes out the fifty dollar note, slaps it into her hand. JOHNNY It's been nice meeting you, Miss Chapel. He turns and walks away... LILY Where are you going? JOHNNY Find yourself some other chump. LILY Now you have power over me, Mr. Kruger. This was supposed to purchase your silence. JOHNNY Lucky for you I'm not the blabby type. Goodnight, Miss Chapel. He exits. Lily throws down her cigarette and violently grinds it into the floor. INT. HALLWAY - GORILLA CLUB - NIGHT Johnny's stopped by two TOUGH GUYS in Tuxedos. JOHNNY You're in my way. TUXEDO #1 The boss wants to see you. JOHNNY Maybe I don't want to see him. They slam him against the wall and frisk him. JOHNNY Then again, I wouldn't want to appear antisocial. INT. LOCANZA'S OFFICE - NIGHT LOCANZA, an even bigger, tougher guy than the Tuxedos, talks baby talk to fish in a tank as he feeds them. The Tuxedos bring Johnny in and close the door. TUXEDO #1 He was packing. LOCANZA You know who I am? JOHNNY Sure I do. Lucky Locanza, the D.A.'s number one fan. Locanza punches Johnny in the guts, doubling him over. The Tuxedos push Johnny into a chair, he gasps for breath. Locanza goes back to feeding his fish. LOCANZA Play games with me, I'll have my boys take you outside, give you some more of that. Let's start with your name. JOHNNY My name's Kruger. I'm a private investigator. LOCANZA What are you doing in my club? JOHNNY I came to talk to Miss Lily Chapel. She's here with Mr. Beauregard Avondale. He doesn't know me. LOCANZA So what did you talk about? JOHNNY Miss Chapel wanted to hire me. I said no. Avondale enters through another door. Lars is in the next room, watching. AVONDALE You told me your name was Wilkes. JOHNNY I wasn't sure if Miss Chapel wanted you to know what she was up to. AVONDALE Why would my fiancée want to keep anything from me? JOHNNY I don't know. I felt obliged to give her the option. AVONDALE What did she want to hire you for? JOHNNY I'm afraid that's confidential. Avondale takes out a checkbook, writes an amount, signs it, tears it off, gives it to Johnny. Johnny whistles. He folds the check, slips it inside his jacket. AVONDALE Regard it as a retainer. You're working for me now. I'll ask again, why did she want to hire you? JOHNNY I'm afraid that's confidential. LOCANZA Can you believe this guy? He takes your check then he clams up! Locanza signals to the Tuxedos who grab Johnny. Locanza pulls back his fist but Avondale touches his arm, stopping him. Locanza lowers his fist and steps back. AVONDALE What's your angle, Mr. Kruger? JOHNNY You could be testing me. To see if I can keep my trap shut. AVONDALE It's not a test. JOHNNY All right. She wanted me to check out a guy called Joey Vrees. She said he's an associate of yours. Avondale and Locanza lock eyes for an instant. JOHNNY You're a respected man, Mr. Avondale. The guys you hang out with are the same guys who can take away my license. I turned Miss Chapel down. I also returned her fifty dollar advance. AVONDALE Perhaps you said that to impress me. I never trust a man who wants to appear honest. Usually he's anything but. Did she say why she wanted you to "check out" Mr. Vrees? JOHNNY She said there was something about him she didn't like. She didn't trust him. That's all I got. AVONDALE You won't discuss this with Miss Chapel, or anyone else. Is that understood? Johnny pats the check in his pocket. JOHNNY You're the boss. Locanza gestures. The Tuxedos lift Johnny out of his chair and escort him to the door. AVONDALE I'll be in touch, Mr. Kruger. Don't take any wooden nickels. EXT. ALLEY BEHIND GORILLA CLUB - NIGHT The Tuxedos throw Johnny out, he slams into trash cans. JOHNNY What gives? I came in through the front door. TUXEDO #1 Employees got to use the back door. He tosses Johnny's gun into the garbage, and lets loose bullets spill from his hand. The Tuxedos go back inside, chuckling. Johnny brushes himself down. He fishes among the garbage for his gun, and picks up the bullets. EXT. JOHNNY'S CAR (MOVING) - NIGHT Johnny's eyes narrow in deep thought as he drives through the rainwashed streets. EXT. PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO - DAY A sunny morning. Johnny's car sits outside. INT. PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO - DAY Johnny examines a wall display of family portraits, pets, places. DANNY enters from a back room, stained by chemicals and life. He hands Johnny an envelope, Johnny pulls out a photograph. It's a B/W of Naked Guy and Woman in the motel room, like startled deer caught in car headlights. JOHNNY Just beautiful. DANNY The negative's there too. Johnny peels notes from his wallet. Danny kisses the money and stuffs it into his pocket. DANNY Come to Papa! Hey, don't go away, I got something to show you. Danny locks the front door and turns the "Closed" sign over. He leads Johnny through the back, into-- INT. DEVELOPING ROOM - DAY Dozens of photographs hang from drip-lines. DANNY Take a look at this. He shows Johnny a glamor shot of a KNOCKOUT BLONDE in a swimsuit, holding her hair up and smiling. JOHNNY Wowsers. You got her phone number? DANNY (O.S.) I got more than that. He shows Johnny another photo. It's the same blonde but without the swimsuit, showing off her nude assets. JOHNNY What would her mother say if she knew? DANNY "I wish I'd thought'a that before I married your dad." Five bucks and she's yours forever. JOHNNY For five bucks I can cruise the strip and get the real thing. DANNY Suit yourself. I know this guy, he's selling 'em as fast as I can print 'em. JOHNNY I know another guy who'll lock you up and throw away the key. DANNY For bringing art to the masses? What's this world coming to. JOHNNY You do business with Dukayne? DANNY Nah. He set up his own dark room, he doesn't need me any more. Everybody's doing their own thing these days. JOHNNY Who's "Everybody"? Snappers? DANNY Couple of guys used to bring their film to me. Real sleazeballs. Wasn't just titties, you know? Hard stuff. They like to call themselves glamor photographers. JOHNNY Got any names? DANNY It'll cost ya. Danny grins and fans himself with the naked blonde's photo. Johnny sighs and pulls out his wallet. JOHNNY Everything costs something. DANNY You just figured that out? Danny reaches for the money but Johnny pulls it away. JOHNNY And I get to keep the photo. Danny hands him the blonde's photo. Johnny gives him the money. Johnny puts the photograph into the envelope. DANNY Pleasure doing business with ya. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - DAY Johnny climbs in behind the wheel. Tosses the envelope onto the passenger seat. Something across the street attracts his attention. EXT. CITY STREET - DAY A cream colored car, parked in shadow. Can't see who's inside. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR - DAY Johnny starts his engine. EXT. CITY STREET - DAY Johnny's car cruises by. INT. JOHNNY'S CAR (MOVING) - DAY Johnny glances in his rearview. Nothing there. EXT. CONDO BUILDING - DAY Johnny's car sits parked out front. INT. CONDO HALLWAY - DAY Johnny walks along the hallway checking apartment numbers. He finds the door he's looking for. He knocks. No answer. AN ATTRACTIVE REDHEAD comes along the hallway, carrying groceries. She unlocks the apartment next door. ATTRACTIVE REDHEAD Bobby's downstairs by the pool. JOHNNY Thanks. ATTRACTIVE REDHEAD Any time. She smiles, enters her apartment, closes the door. Johnny digs out a pen-knife and has Bobby's door open in the blink of an eye. INT. BOBBY'S APARTMENT - DAY Johnny silently closes the door. He listens. He peeks in all the rooms. No one home. He searches the place, fast and efficient. Drawers. Shelves. Closets. He opens a blind, looks out the window. Parked across the street, that same cream colored car. INT. CONDO HALLWAY - DAY BOBBY, 30s, suntan, Hawaiian shirt, not a care in the world, whistles on his way back to his apartment. He unlocks the door, enters. INT. BOBBY'S APARTMENT - DAY Bobby whistles his way into the living room. His whistle dies on a long note as he sees a bunch of photos laid out on the coffee table. They're all "voyeur" shots of men and women taken with a zoom lens, through house windows, inside cars. The men are giving it and the woman are gladly taking it. JOHNNY Got quite a business going, Bobby. Johnny leans against a wall, cigarette in his mouth. He strikes a match, lights it. BOBBY I'm calling the cops, you don't get out of here right now. JOHNNY Go ahead. BOBBY What do you want? JOHNNY The negatives and all the prints. Bobby sits down, fumbles for a cigarette, lights it. The coffee table is between him and Johnny. BOBBY Which ones? JOHNNY The ones you hid so nobody could find them. BOBBY You're crazy. JOHNNY Not yet. Give me time. The door opens and a TEEN GIRL in a bikini flounces in. TEEN GIRL Know what, you're just like my dad, always telling me what to-- (seeing Johnny) Hell are you? Bobby kicks his legs straight, the coffee table shoots into Johnny's shins, THUD! Johnny winces in pain, suddenly Bobby's all over him, punching him in the gut, the head. Teen Girl runs into the kitchen. Johnny pulls out his gun but Bobby grabs his wrist, slams his hand against the wall. The gun goes flying. Johnny BUTTS Bobby who stumbles back and falls on his ass, holding his face. Teen Girl runs in swinging the biggest knife she could find! She slashes, Johnny dodges, she follows him around the room, her eyes crazy. Johnny takes "defensive cuts" on his hand. Teen Girl lunges, Johnny grabs her arm, spins her round and runs her face-first into the wall, WHAM! She bounces off and sprawls on the floor, out cold. Bobby tries to push himself up. Johnny flips the coffee table away and kicks Bobby in the face. Bobby goes down. Johnny goes into the kitchen nursing his bleeding hand. A FLOWER VASE empties over Bobby's bloody face, water and flowers wake him up. Johnny puts the vase down on the coffee table. His cut hand is wrapped in a dish towel. JOHNNY That wasn't very nice, Bobby. BOBBY You broke by dose, you creep! Johnny opens his wallet, unfolds a newspaper clipping. It's Lily Chapel's orphanage opening photo, with Avondale torn out. JOHNNY You give me what I want, I'm outta here. BOBBY I never seen her before. Johnny slaps him hard. BOBBY Hey! JOHNNY Look again. Bobby's eyes flick past Johnny, at someone behind him. Johnny turns just as the flower vase SMASHES over his head! He collapses. Bobby scrambles to his feet and fearfully backs away-- BOBBY No, no, no! SIX SHOTS ring out, punching Bobby back onto a chair. He twitches with every bullet. Then relaxes. Dead. Lying on the floor, Johnny stares at Bobby in disbelief. He closes his eyes. BLACKNESS. End of excerpt.
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