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 excerpt

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