This is an excerpt (first 20 pages) of a completed screenplay.
"Taste Of Evil" - screenplay by Derek Paterson. FADE IN: INT. LOUIS' BEDROOM - NIGHT Moonlight shines through open windows, curtains stir in the night breeze. LOUIS, 20, Black, lies asleep in bed. A tattoo appears to decorate his neck and continue over his shoulder. As moonlight plays over his skin the "tattoo" is revealed to be ridged scars, forming a swirling whirlpool pattern. INT. HALLWAY - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY Two BOYS, one African-American, the other Italian-American, both 8 years old, run laughing along the hallway, playing tag. A door up ahead opens and they skid to a stop just in time to avoid colliding with an Italian-American man whom we will know later as FORTUNA, 50. The boys solemnly look up at at Fortuna. He smiles at them. FORTUNA You better go play outside, boys. Your dad's taking care of some business here. The boys turn and head back the way they came. The African- American boy looks back over his shoulder. Fortuna grins at him. The boy grins back. INT. LOUIS' BEDROOM - NIGHT Louis turns over, still asleep. An ethereal figure floats across the bedroom toward Louis. She's an Italian-American beauty with streaked blonde hair. MARIA, 20, sits on the bed and reaches out to touch Louis' forearm. He awakens instantly and pushes himself up onto one elbow, staring at Maria in disbelief. Maria smiles and gently strokes his face. Louis takes her hand, kisses it, presses it against his cheek. LOUIS You're cold. MARIA Shhh. It doesn't matter. Listen to me. Don't go back. Promise me you won't go back. LOUIS Go back where? She shakes her head. LOUIS Go back where? She frowns and draws back from him. He reaches for her but can't touch her. She pushes at the air around her as if unseen walls are closing in. Her breathing becomes harsh and she chokes, splutters, gasps. The telephone RINGS and Louis turns his head to look at it. When he turns back Maria is gone. Louis sits up, looks around the room in panic. He leaps out of bed and runs to the door, wrenches it open, looks up and down the hallway. His shoulders slump. Maria's not there. The telephone continues to RING. Louis picks up the receiver and listens. A man's deep voice MUTTERS, we don't hear what's said but Louis shows surprise, then shocked realization. EXT. NEW YORK SKYLINE - DAY Skies the color of molten lead. Shadows lengthen menacingly as the dimly perceived sun drops toward the horizon. INT. FRANKIE'S SEDAN (MOVING) - DAY Driven by FRANKIE RIZZO, 50s, a granite-faced enforcer for the Five Families. Lips that rarely smile, eyes like black marbles. A bulge under his left armpit. The further Frankie drives the more empty and darker the streets become. There's less traffic -- less people -- more shadows. Frankie glances to his left. An old BLACK WOMAN wearing a coat and shawl hunches over as she hurries into a doorway and disappears. Frankie glances to his right. A group of young Black GANG MEMBERS stand on a street corner. They stare at Frankie's car, their heads turn as it goes by. Frankie blinks. The world turns B/W with a fuzzy electric edge. One of the Gang Members now has a grinning skull face, stripped of flesh. Frankie blinks again. The world returns to normal. The Gang Member glares back at Frankie. Frankie looks in his rearview. The street corner is empty, no one's there. EXT. NEW YORK SKYLINE - DAY/NIGHT A bloody sunset wanes. Night falls over the city. INT. FRANKIE'S SEDAN (MOVING) - NIGHT New Jersey road signs flash by. Most street lamps are out. Most of the buildings he passes are boarded up. There are no other cars on the road. Frankie blinks. The street turns B/W with that same electic fuzz. Frankie blinks again. Color and focus are restored. He drives past a street lamp that has something tied to it, dangling. It's a headless black rooster, wings spread wide. Frankie blinks. The street lamp is just an ordinary street lamp, without the dangling rooster. EXT. VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT A three-story brownstone. An ocean of light in an otherwise dark and ominous street. EXT. ELECTRIC GATES - NIGHT Frankie's sedan stops. Two WISEGUYS examine him through the gates. Their hands are inside their coats, ready to draw. One talks into his cellphone, and waves to the other guy who operates the gate controls. The gates swing open. EXT. VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Frankie pauses on the front steps and looks around, examining the garden. Hiding in the bushes, behind trees, are more WISEGUYS with machine pistols and rifles slung over their shoulders. They watch him, alert and afraid. INT. ENTRANCE HALL - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Tasteful wood panelling, paintings, antique furniture, a grandfather clock in the corner. A house servant, DE VERE, opens the door to admit Frankie. At that moment Fortuna, now 60s, hurries downstairs. FORTUNA Hey, Frankie. Frankie Two Bullets. He greets Frankie with hugs and back pats, they're old friends. Frankie almost smiles. Then Fortuna steps back and loses his good humor. FORTUNA He's waiting for you. INT. STUDY - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY DON VAZZINI, 70s, sits in a wheelchair by the fire looking old and feeble, but only at first glance. His eyes say there's still strength in this dangerous old man. His manservant PIETRO stands behind his chair, a living statue of unknown age. Fortuna leads Frankie inside. Frankie steps up to Vazzini and kisses his hand. FRANKIE Don Vazzini, I bring greetings and best wishes from your old friends. VAZZINI I didn't know I still had any old friends. Someone I don't know, calls me and tells me someone I don't know is sending you to talk to me. I ask why. They say they don't know. Vazzini indicates chairs. Frankie and Fortuna sit. Pietro fetches a tray of drinks. FRANKIE Your health, Don Vazzini. FORTUNA I second that. They drink. VAZZINI So tell me, what's this all about, Frankie Two Bullets? FRANKIE Our friends in New York say they're seeing too much blood. It's on the TV, it's in the papers. That's a valid concern, Don Vazzini, not a criticism. VAZZINI Tell them to come on over here. See what's on the streets. Bad enough we got the Jamaican boys after you kicked them out of N.Y.C. Now we got those guys from Haiti, making all kinds of trouble. FORTUNA Haitians. VAZZINI Whatever. You tell them to talk to these boys, Frankie, and see what it gets them. We're not talking a bullet in the face. We're talking your guts slit open and pulled out. We're talking chickens and crazy men and white girls snatched off the street and never seen again. You pick up that phone, Frankie Two Bullets, and you tell our friends in New York it's a killing ground over here. FRANKIE What are the cops doing? VAZZINI The cops, they're sucking their thumbs. They don't do anything and you know why? You want to know why? They can't tell the spades apart! You tell them go arrest a spade and they'll bring in a dozen, two dozen, more. None of them's the one you want. FORTUNA The ethnic community is growing. VAZZINI Damn right it's growing, it's out of control. The politicians let them into the country so they can get their votes and then they step back, they step back and let the problem explode because it's not on their doorstep, it's not on their streets. The spades ain't up in New England. They're down here, crowding us. FRANKIE You can't talk to them? Work something out? VAZZINI Tell him, Max. You tell him and maybe he'll believe you. FORTUNA They're not hot on diplomacy, Frankie. Sending someone to talk to them is a suicide mission. FRANKIE You tried? FORTUNA I assure you, we tried. The bodies turned up two days later. We got this guy, this undertaker, he's an artist, he can make anyone look so good their own mothers wouldn't know how they died. He couldn't do a thing with these bodies. They were hardly recognizable as humans any more. The things the Hiatians did to them, I can't tell you. The result being, we couldn't let the spades get away with it. So, we retaliated. VAZZINI Screw the cops, we washed our own dirty laundry. FORTUNA Then they retaliated. No surprise there. We ordered our friends in the press to put a lid on the story but it leaked out anyway. Someone couldn't keep their big trap shut. VAZZINI We should'a made an example. Sewed somebody's lips together. FORTUNA That would just have made things worse. Frankie, the spades are on every street corner selling crack to kids. Go outside and walk two blocks over. Their whores are crowding our whores out of business -- those that haven't already jumped on a bus and skipped town. And who can blame them? Not me, that's for sure. FRANKIE You could have asked for help. FORTUNA From who, Frankie? Who can we trust? To a lot of guys we're just another territory waiting to be diced up once Don Vazzini pops his clogs, God forbid that should ever happen. VAZZINI They've already made their agreements. They're just waiting for me to die. Well, you know what? I'm not gonna die. Not until I'm good and ready. FRANKIE That's not true, Don Vazzini. Nobody's waiting for you to die. VAZZINI Maybe that's why you're here. To speed up the process. Huh? FRANKIE Don Vazzini, I swear to you on the sacred blood of my father, who you and me both loved, I don't have any orders about that. VAZZINI But if you did, you'd put two bullets into my brain out without a second thought, wouldn't you Frankie? FRANKIE Let's not discuss such unpleasant things, especially when there is no need. I'm here to ask you, politely and with all respect due, if there's any way you can keep everything quiet for a while. Until things blow over. VAZZINI Until things blow over. You hear that, Max? FORTUNA Under other circumstances I'd regard it as a very reasonable request... FRANKIE This isn't me asking. It's the Families. It's La Commissione. FORTUNA Don Vazzini appreciates this. What the Families must appreciate is that we're fighting for survival. VAZZINI Tell him how many men we lost. Fortuna takes a deep breath, reluctant... FORTUNA We've lost ten soldiers to the Haitians. We don't dare leave the house without protection. I don't just mean a couple of guns. We're driving around in armed convoys now. We've pulled guys back in from the neighboring districts. We know it leaves them vulnerable, but that can't be helped. We need them here. FRANKIE What about the Santinis? FORTUNA Don Santini sent a couple of his guys over. FRANKIE Is that all? VAZZINI They're his best men. He didn't just pick them out a hat. FORTUNA He'll send more when he can. He has his own problems with the Jamaicans. VAZZINI A true friend. And he understands only too well what's going on here. FRANKIE Then what answer can I take back to La Commissione? FORTUNA Of course we will do everything we can to keep this under wraps. But you have to explain to the old men, Frankie, you gotta tell them our backs are to the wall and it's partly their doing. They dumped their rotten garbage on us. FRANKIE Then let them try to make amends. Let them send you the extra muscle you need. FORTUNA Won't that stir up exactly the kind of trouble La Commissione wants us to avoid? FRANKIE We're talking specialists. They'll do things real quiet and clean up the mess. Nobody has to know they're here. VAZZINI You think I want crews from N.Y.C. tramping all over my territory? FRANKIE It would be handled with delicacy, Don Vazzini. No New York crews. We'll pull in boys from Philly and Boston. Neutral crews. As soon as the job's done, they go back home. They'll have no connection whatsoever with your family. You'll be able to deny everything. VAZZINI How does that make us look, huh? Like we can't take care of our own business. FRANKIE Nobody's saying that, Don Vazzini. Nobody would even think such a thing. You have a problem. Let's not deny this. I'm offering you the only possible solution. FORTUNA It's an elegant solution. Will you allow us time to discuss it? FRANKIE I told them you'd need to think it over. I'll come back tomorrow. You can give me your answer then. VAZZINI You're going nowhere. You're my guest. FORTUNA Give me a minute, I'll have someone prepare a room. Fortuna exits. FRANKIE I'm thankful for your hospitality, Don Vazzini. VAZZINI You do look tired, Frankie, no offense. FRANKIE The drive over here was kinda weird. VAZZINI What's weird about it? FRANKIE I think maybe I was falling asleep at the wheel. Things didn't look right. When I looked again, everything was okay. VAZZINI You been hitting the sauce? FRANKIE This is the first drink I've had since I don't know when. VAZZINI What happened, you get religion? FRANKIE Something like that. VAZZINI Fatigue, that's what it is. You been working too hard. Now they got you driving all over the country. A KNOCK at the door. De Vere sticks his head in. DE VERE (upper class English accent) Dreadfully sorry to interrupt, sir. Mr. Rizzo's room is ready. Vazzini acknowledges with a wave, De Vere exits. FRANKIE He works fast. DE VERE Nah, we keep plenty of guest rooms ready, all he had to do was turn down the sheets. Go get some rest, Frankie. We'll talk in the morning. You'll feel better then. Frankie kisses Don Vazzini's hand, and exits. INT. ENTRANCE HALL - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY Frankie follows De Vere upstairs. Fortuna stands at the bottom of the stairs watching Frankie, his expression unreadable. INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT De Vere leads Frankie along a straight hallway with doors along either side. The hallway goes on for quite a distance... more than it should. Frankie looks back and ahead, trying to figure the hallway's length. De Vere stops at a door, opens it to reveal a bedroom. DE VERE I've taken the liberty of estimating your size, sir. I believe the house coat and the new underwear I've laid out should fit you nicely. You'll find fresh towels and a toothbrush in the bathroom. FRANKIE What did they do, fly you over from England? DE VERE I served the British ambassador in Washington for a number of years, sir. Mr. Vazzini was kind enough to offer me a position in his household when the ambassador retired. FRANKIE I can never figure you English out. The real guys talk like faggots and the faggots talk like real guys. Which are you? DE VERE I dare say I've never really thought about it, sir. Somewhere in the middle, I expect, like most Englishmen. Will you be needing anything else, sir? A nightcap, perhaps? FRANKIE I'll be okay. DE VERE Breakfast is usually served at eight. Would you like a wake-up call at seven-thirty? FRANKIE Yeah, that would be good. He enters the bedroom and shuts the door. INT. FRANKIE'S BEDROOM - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Frankie locks the door. INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT De Vere hears the CLICK. He shrugs and walks away. EXT. VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Searchlights stab through pitch darkness. Wiseguys on guard duty stamp their feet and rub their hands. It's gonna be a long night. INT. FRANKIE'S BEDROOM - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Frankie sits up in bed, wearing glasses and reading a book. INT. ENTRANCE HALL - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT The grandfather clock CHIMES twelve times. INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Starting at the far end, lights in the hallway dim and then go out one by one. Darkness spreads up the hallway. INT. FRANKIE'S BEDROOM - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT A sliver of light from the hallway is visible under the door. The light vanishes. Frankie doesn't seem to notice, he turns another page. The key, in the lock, works itself loose and falls onto the carpet without a sound. The door silently swings open revealing an utterly dark hallway. Light around the doorway is blotted out by a shadow that slowly spreads across the floor, walls and ceiling like an oil spill moving in three dimensions. Frankie puts down his book and peers curiously over the top of his spectacles. The shadow spreads further into the room. Something moves within its depths, oil within oil, taking form, becoming a grinning alligator face with huge black teeth and glowing yellow eye slits. Frankie throws the blankets aside, he's still wearing his pants and shoes. He hops out of bed with a gun in each hand and LETS RIP with everything he's got, pouring bullets into the shadow. Frankie's guns click empty. He stares in disbelief. The shadow reaches him, wraps itself around him, crushes him. Frankie arches his back and SCREAMS. His back SNAPS and he relaxes, dead. The shadow throws Frankie onto the bed. Frankie stares up at the ceiling with unseeing eyes. The shadow forms a clawed hand that draws back, then thrusts deep into Frankie's chest with a horrible wet sound. BLACKNESS. FADE IN: EXT. CEMETERY - DAY An overcast sky. Leaves drift from tree branches. Headstones sprout from beneath a thick carpet of leaves. In a private plot surrounded by iron railings, Louis kneels down beside a stone, wearing black coat and leather gloves. He brushes leaves away to reveal the name on the stone: MARIA BARBARA VAZZINI. He bows his head in silent tribute, closes his eyes, and sighs deeply. Several pairs of feet move rapidly through the leaves. Louis opens his eyes, aware. His hand slips inside his coat but it's too late -- a gun is pressed against the back of his head. CLICK, the hammer is thumbed back. STEFANO Get up, you son of a bitch. Louis slowly stands up. Four WISEGUYS surround him. The man pressing the gun against his head is STEFANO, 40, a ruthless crew boss. STEFANO How'd you get in here? Gate's locked. LOUIS I opened it. Stefano hits Louis on the head. Louis staggers and Stefano reaches inside his coat, snatches Louis' gun. STEFANO Let's go. He pushes Louis through the open gate. The other Wiseguys form up around Louis. Stefano waves -- a black hearse moves out from behind some trees and heads their way. LOUIS There's something you should know. STEFANO Yeah? WHAM! Stefano hits him and Louis collapses. The hearse rolls up and stops beside Louis. Stefano opens the rear door. The Wiseguys lift Louis, slide him inside. Stefano slams the door and the hearse moves off. INT. COFFIN - DAY BLACKNESS. Rapid breathing. Frantic movement, as the coffin's occupant seeks a way out. Punching, kicking, knees, elbows. Muffled by the coffin's soft interior. The upper half of the coffin lid abruptly opens. Louis shields his eyes against harsh lights. Fortuna leans over and looks down at Louis. FORTUNA We could have avoided this if you'd simply called ahead. INT. FURNACE ROOM - FUNERAL HOME - DAY Louis climbs out of the coffin which lies on a conveyor belt that leads into a furnace. Louis touches the furnace door and frowns at Fortuna. FORTUNA It's not working. The engineer says he's waiting for a new part to arrive. That's the only reason you're still alive. Of course, you would have suffocated inside the coffin. LOUIS Of course. FORTUNA Mind telling me what you were doing? Louis rubs the back of his head and winces. LOUIS How's the old man? FORTUNA Old, and tired, and unforgiving. Will you answer my question? LOUIS I had to pay my respects. FORTUNA One of us is nuts. I don't think it's me. Come on. He exits, Louis follows him. EXT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY A black sedan sits waiting, Fortuna and Louis climb in back. INT. FORTUNA'S SEDAN (MOVING) - DAY FORTUNA Tell me one thing. Did you volunteer for this, or were you sent? LOUIS Does it matter? FORTUNA Maybe not. Either way, he's gonna be pissed as hell when you walk in. LOUIS Good. FORTUNA I might not be able to stop him from killing you. LOUIS Don't even try. Fortuna puts his hand over Louis's. FORTUNA You're talking as if this is all a game to you. It isn't. Louis looks out the window. He blinks. The world outside turns fuzzy electric B/W. He blinks again. It returns to normal. LOUIS I know. INT. HALLWAY - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY De Vere opens the door to admit Fortuna and Louis. FORTUNA This is Mr. Rolande. Please prepare one of the guest rooms for him. DE VERE Does Mr. Rolande have any luggage? LOUIS It's in my car at the cemetery. DE VERE If you would be so kind as to give me your keys, sir, I'll have your car brought here and your luggage taken to your room. Louis fishes into his coat pocket, gives De Vere the keys. DE VERE Thank you, sir. Fortuna leads Louis along the hallway. De Vere closes and locks the door. He suddenly turns and looks upstairs at the landing above. There's no one there. Yet De Vere continues to stare for long seconds, before he hurries through another doorway. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE STUDY - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY Fortuna knocks on the door. FORTUNA Wait here. Louis shrugs. INT. STUDY - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY Fortuna enters. Vazzini sits gazing out a window that overlooks a garden, Pietro stands beside him. Fortuna gestures for Pietro to leave, and he does. FORTUNA They sent another guy. VAZZINI Anyone we know? FORTUNA Unfortunately, yes. Vazzini turns his chair round. VAZZINI I'm in no mood for clever talk, Max. Let's have it straight. Has he come to whack me, or not? FORTUNA I don't think so. VAZZINI You fill me with confidence. FORTUNA Take a deep breath. Fortuna opens the door wide to reveal Louis. A spectrum of emotions wracks Vazzini -- confusion, shock, anger. Louis's expression is flat and unreadable. VAZZINI What the fuck is he doing in my house! Get him out of here, Max! FORTUNA Don Vazzini-- VAZZINI Get me a gun. Get me a gun. FORTUNA I can't, Don Vazzini. La Commissione sent him. He's the guy. Vazzini breathes hard and clutches his chest. VAZZINI When did the Families ever send a spade to do their dirty work? Huh? When did they ever send a spade? LOUIS I'm not here to kill you. Though God knows, the very thought gives me pleasure. Vazzini rolls himself over to a desk and opens a drawer. Louis quickly crosses the room and grabs his hand, stopping Vazzini from pulling out a gun. Louis slams the drawer shut. LOUIS I said I'm not here to kill you. VAZZINI Why should I believe you? You already murdered my Maria. Louis recoils as if he's been struck. LOUIS You twisted old son of a bitch. VAZZINI If you said that to me before I lost the use of my legs, I'd kill you myself. You'd scream for mercy. You'd beg for death. LOUIS I'd bite my own tongue off before I asked you for anything. FORTUNA Louis, this isn't helping things. Don Vazzini, I implore you to calm down. This man cannot be harmed. Not here. Not by you. You know the consequences. Having one of them die on the premises is bad enough. But two... VAZZINI Am I being punished? Frankie Two Bullets goes and gets himself whacked in my house, so they send this? Vazzini rolls himself back to the window. VAZZINI Call these guys, Max. Call them and tell them to send someone else. FORTUNA I don't think they'll listen to me. I don't think we have choices any more. LOUIS What did you do with his body? FORTUNA It's on ice at the funeral home. We figured whoever La Commissione sent, would want to see it. To corroborate our story. LOUIS Why didn't you show me when we were there? FORTUNA I didn't think you'd want to stick around. Seeing as how you were nearly a stiff yourself. VAZZINI Take him, Max. Take him and show him what we're up against. Let him see for himself. And then let's see what he thinks he can do. Louis stares at Vazzini's back for long seconds, then follows Fortuna out. EXT. FUNERAL HOME - DAY Fortuna's sedan sits outside. INT. COLD ROOM - FUNERAL HOME - DAY Louis and Fortuna watch as an Undertaker opens a hatch and slides out a shelf containing a body under a white sheet. Fortuna nods and the Undertaker pulls back the sheet to reveal Frankie's very pale face. LOUIS How'd he die? FORTUNA It's possible he bled to death. LOUIS Was he shot? FORTUNA No, he wasn't shot. Louis pulls the sheet down further revealing Frankie's torso, ripped to pieces as if he was attacked by a wild animal. Louis sucks in a deep breath. Fortuna closes his eyes and turns away. FORTUNA It's typically Haitian. We've found several... victims in the same condition. Sometimes symbols are carved into the flesh. Sometimes the eyes and tongue are removed. There's no predicting what these sick fuckers will do. LOUIS How could they get past your security and into the house? FORTUNA I don't know, and that's the truth. Louis covers the body, leaving the head exposed. LOUIS I'd like to request a few moments with Frankie. Just, you know, so I can say goodbye. FORTUNA Certainly. Fortuna and the Undertaker exit. The door swings shut. Louis bends over Frankie and pulls his eyelids open. Louis tugs at a chain he wears around his neck until a silver amulet attached to the chain is revealed. The amulet is a roughcut skull with black stone eyes. LOUIS You remember when you gave me this? The first time you showed me how to use it? Louis takes off a glove and uses the amulet to slash a red line across his own palm. Blood wells and drips. LOUIS Never thought I'd have to use it on you. Forgive me. He grips Frankie's face, opens his mouth and lets blood from his hand run into Frankie's mouth. Louis leans forward so they're eye to eye. LOUIS Tell me what happened, old friend. INT. FRANKIE'S BEDROOM - VAZZINI HOUSE - NIGHT Frankie's POV in fuzzy electric B/W. The door opens and the shadow enters the room, spreading toward POV, blacking out POV. Out of the blackness comes the grinning alligator face with glowing slit eyes. INT. COLD ROOM - FUNERAL HOME - DAY Louis reels away from Frankie and has to steady himself against a wall. He sucks in deep breaths until he recovers some of his strength. He staggers back to Frankie and pulls the sheet down, revealing Frankie's torso. Louis extends his hands and moves them in slow circles above Frankie's chest, like some faith healer at work. VOICES from outside. Louis pulls the sheet back up covering Frankie's body and head. He pulls on his glove. He tucks his amulet back down inside his shirt. Fortuna opens the door, peeks in. LOUIS It's okay. Fortuna enters. FORTUNA Are you done? Something's come up. LOUIS I'm done. Louis exits. Fortuna waits a second and stares suspiciously at Frankie's body. Then he follows Louis out. INT. ENTRANCE HALL - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY De Vere opens the door for Louis and Fortuna. DE VERE Mr. Vazzini is waiting for you in his study. INT. STUDY - VAZZINI HOUSE - DAY Vazzini holds council with PANELLI, 40, and DELLTORO, 25, who both look round as Fortuna and Louis enter. Panelli is curious about Louis. Delltoro is downright hostile and doesn't stop glaring at Louis. VAZZINI Don't bring him in here. FORTUNA I thought he might be able to help us, Don Vazzini. VAZZINI Help, how? He's here to bury me. Louis goes to the drinks cabinet, pours himself a bourbon and throws it back. VAZZINI Like he owns the place. LOUIS One word from me and your family is fucked. I don't report in, your family is fucked. If that's too complicated for you, tell me and I'll draw you pictures. He pours a second drink, swallows it in one. VAZZINI I curse the day I took you in and treated you like my own blood. LOUIS And I curse the day my father took a bullet for you, you wop son of a bitch. VAZZINI Goddamn spade motherfucker. FORTUNA Everyone, stop. Stop. Don Vazzini, Marco is missing. At this moment, nothing else is important. Louis reacts with surprise. Fortuna turns to Panelli. PANELLI We were just telling Don Vazzini. He paid a visit to the Laguna last night. Nobody knows where he went after that. FORTUNA You checked the place out? DELLTORO From top to bottom. LOUIS With everything that's going on, you let him go to a whorehouse? FORTUNA There's collections to be made. We still have a business to run. LOUIS That's what he was doing, making a collection? Nobody answers. VAZZINI Well? What was he doing? Fortuna and Panelli stare at the floor. VAZZINI I told him not to get involved with no whore. LOUIS Let's go talk to the whore. VAZZINI This is none of your business. Louis takes out his wallet, casually flips it opens like a cop's ID badge. It's the Ace of Spades, a special kind of badge. Panelli whistles softly in appreciation. LOUIS This says otherwise. VAZZINI The ace of spades, for a spade! FORTUNA Don Vazzini, please-- PANELLI We'll take him there, Don Vazzini. VAZZINI Never mind him. You got to find Marco. You got to bring him back here to me. PANELLI We will, Don Vazzini. Panelli heads for the door, opens it and invites Louis to go ahead. Louis bangs his glass down and exits. Panelli and Delltoro follow him out and close the door. FORTUNA That went surprisingly well. VAZZINI You really think he can find Marco? FORTUNA I wouldn't have suggested this otherwise. VAZZINI If those Haitian fucks have harmed one hair on Marco's head, I swear, this town will run red with their blood. Fortuna pours himself a drink and throws it back. FORTUNA We'll know soon enough. VAZZINI That's all you got to say? "We'll know soon enough"? FORTUNA Waiting is the hardest part. INT. PANELLI'S SEDAN (MOVING) - DAY Louis and Panelli sit in back. The DRIVER and the front seat PASSENGER are grim-looking Wiseguys. The streets flash by. Panelli glances curiously at Louis. LOUIS You got something to say, say it. PANELLI You're the guy. LOUIS Yeah, I'm the Black wop. I guess maybe they got a few other names for me, too. Panelli chuckles. PANELLI Nobody's going to say them to your face, that's for sure. Not with that Ace of Spaces in your pocket. How many guys you got to knock off before they give you one of those? LOUIS Too many. So what about you? Pistol Pete Panelli. Don Santini's right- hand man. PANELLI Jesus, that's not good. LOUIS Relax. They briefed me before I left N.Y.C. Told me I'm gonna rub shoulders with some Santini guys. PANELLI For a second there you had me pissing my pants. LOUIS I said relax. The Laguna used to be a pretty classy place. PANELLI Times change. LOUIS Tell me about it. EXT. LAGUNA NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT A trashy neon lap dancing joint, and more. INT. ENTRANCE HALL - LAGUNA NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT Dark and claustrophobic. Dance music POUNDS. Panelli's men enter first, pushing GIRLS out of the way. Louis and Panelli follow them inside. INT. OFFICE - LAGUNA NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT JANICE, 30s, a tired, once-beautiful blonde, opens the door for Panelli. She stares at Louis -- then turns her back on him. She lights a cigarette, blows smoke at the ceiling. Panelli closes the door, lowering the music volume. PANELLI Has he shown up? JANICE Who's your friend? PANELLI Has Marco shown up. JANICE Of course he hasn't. I would've called. LOUIS Did he come here on his own? Janice glances uncertainly at Panelli. PANELLI Answer him. JANICE He had his guys with him. The Happy Brothers. Louis looks at Panelli for confirmation. PANELLI His bodyguards are missing, too. LOUIS When did they get here? JANICE Look, you guys already asked me... Panelli's stare makes her nervous. JANICE Maybe around eleven. He went right up to Alice's room. PANELLI (to Louis) The girl said Marco was with her for an hour. JANICE They weren't just sitting around and talking, either. Alice can't walk after he pays her a visit. He's a stallion. PANELLI Cut it out. LOUIS Where's Alice? JANICE She's resting. She's upset. You guys shout at her and slap her around like it's her fault. She doesn't know anything. Panelli snatches her cigarette and grinds it out. He opens the door admitting pulsing music. Janice exits, they follow her out. INT. STAIRWAY - LAGUNA NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT MALE CUSTOMERS and GIRLS talk and socialize on the stairs. Panelli's men push them roughly aside. No one complains. Louis attracts more than a few curious glances. INT. ALICE'S ROOM - LAGUNA NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT Louis opens the door admitting light and noise. ALICE, 19, Black, is a pathetic bundle curled in fetal position on her bed. Her eyes are open but unfocused. A syringe sticks out of her arm. Janice cries out and pushes past Louis. She pulls the syringe out and throws it across the room. She kneels beside Alice and cradles her head, but Alice is beyond help. PANELLI Jesus H. Christ. LOUIS Who talked to her last? PANELLI I'll find out. LOUIS Did they scare her? I'm looking for a reason. PANELLI Everybody knows she's Marco's girl. They wouldn't have touched her. LOUIS Delltoro said you checked this place from top to bottom. PANELLI That's right. LOUIS Rooms, halls, cupboards, attic, cellar. You checked everywhere. PANELLI We checked everywhere. LOUIS What about next door? PANELLI Rented storage. Delltoro said it's empty. Janice cradles Alice and sobs. PANELLI Come on. Nothing we can do here. Louis touches Janice's shoulder, she jerks in shock. LOUIS "Alice"? JANICE What? What? She's dead, isn't that enough for you? LOUIS That's her name? Janice blinks, confused and tortured. JANICE Her name's... Aleeza, I don't know, maybe Aliza, we called her Alice... LOUIS Where's she from? (beat) I said where's she from? JANICE She said Jamaica. She told me she's from Jamaica. End of excerpt.
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