This is an excerpt (first 20 pages) of a completed screenplay.
"Freezing Point" - screenplay by Derek Paterson. FADE IN: EXT. SEEDY HOTEL - NIGHT Two STREET PUNKS stop to admire a convertible parked in front of the hotel. A STREET HOOKER notices their interest. STREET HOOKER Trust me honey, you don't wanna go messing with that car. She makes the SIGN OF THE HORNED DEVIL with her hand, pinky and forefinger raised. The Street Punks exit fast. INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT A no-frills room with neon light shining through the blinds. LUIS PENNA, 20s, humps a beautiful Latina HOOKER. It's tough to tell where Penna's scars end and his tattoos begin. A grinning red horned devil's head decorates his left forearm. The Hooker gives an Oscar-winning performance. Penna grunts and dismounts. He sits up and sucks in air. HOOKER You got a lot of inner tension, baby. You wanna go again? INT. HOTEL RECEPTION DESK - NIGHT Detectives CARLOS SMITH and FRANK SHERMAN talk to the CLERK. Sherman has age and experience on his side but the younger, smarter Smith has hair-trigger reactions. Sherman grabs the Clerk, pulls him over the desk. The Clerk waves toward the stairs. Sherman lets him go and they head for the stairs. INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Penna sits on the edge of the bed, his eyes closed. HOOKER Any time you're ready, baby. Penna spins and claps his hand over her mouth. His other hand closes about her throat. Her surprise turns to fear, he's choking her to death! INT. HOTEL LANDING - NIGHT Smith and Sherman silently climb the stairs and reach the landing. They draw their guns. INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Penna's eyes flick to the door. He leaps to the chair, pulls a gun from a holster, aims at the door while he pulls on his clothes, swapping his gun from one hand to the other. The Hooker whimpers, clutching her throat. Penna drags her off the bed and over to the door. Whispers into her ear-- PENNA One last thing you do for me, bitch. He pulls out a smaller .32, removes the bullets and forces the empty gun into the Hooker's shaking hands. Penna grins and holds his loaded gun against her head. The Hooker whimpers in fear. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Smith and Sherman stand on either side of the door. Sherman signals, "Let's go!" Smith steps back, lines up on the door and kicks it open! INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT The door bursts open! The Hooker stands naked, in marksman's stance, pointing the empty gun. Her eyes are wide and her teeth are bared. Her terror makes her look crazy. BLAM! Smith shoots the Hooker! And instantly realizes his mistake. Penna is behind her, crouching low and SHOOTING. BLAM! BLAM! Two bullets rip into Sherman who collapses, sliding down the wall. BLAM! Smith staggers, shot in the guts. Penna shoves the dying Hooker, she slams into Smith, the tangled collision takes them both down. Penna kicks Smith's gun away, slams his gun against Smith's head as he tries to get up, knocking him unconscious. Penna swings his gun back and forth between Smith and Sherman. He grins hugely, enjoying the moment. Distant VOICES from downstairs. Penna sticks his gun into his waistband, gathers up the rest of his clothes and heads for the door. But wait... he's got one last thing to do. He dips his finger into the Hooker's blood... and uses the wet finger to draw on her belly... a circle with horns. A crude Devil's head, matching the tattoo on his forearm. EXT. SEEDY HOTEL - NIGHT Penna jumps into his convertible and zooms out of there. FADE OUT: Title: THREE MONTHS LATER. DESK SERGEANT (V.O.) Get this punk out of my face. FADE IN: INT. FRONT DESK, BUSY POLICE STATION - DAY The PUNK who annoyed the veteran DESK SERGEANT is taken away by two COPS, revealing Smith waiting his turn. Smith shows his shield. SMITH Where can I find Captain Randall? DESK SERGEANT Upstairs, end of the hall. Smith heads for the stairs. INT. CAPTAIN RANDALL'S OFFICE - DAY A broom cupboard of a room. CAPTAIN RANDALL, 50s, is jammed behind his desk, immersed in paperwork. Smith knocks on the door, Randall gestures, "Come in." SMITH 'Morning, Captain. Detective Carlos Smith. Reporting for duty. RANDALL Come in and close the door. Smith does as he's told. Randall gets up, squeezes around the desk and shakes Smith's hand. RANDALL Take a seat. Smith sits. Randall perches on the edge of his desk. RANDALL Frank Sherman and me go 'way back. SMITH He told me you were at the Academy together. RANDALL That's right. It breaks me up to see him in a wheelchair. Smith's hurt expression says "Me, too." RANDALL He speaks highly of you. Says you're the best detective he's ever worked with. You're smart. You're clean. I guess you know the Chief wanted you busted all the way down to civilian. Frank vetoed that idea. He said what happened could have happened to anyone. SMITH I know, and I appreciate it. RANDALL You're starting here with a clean sheet. That doesn't mean I won't be watching everything you do, because other people will be watching. You get what I'm saying? Smith nods, "Yes." Randall picks up a report from his desk. RANDALL Luis Penna. (reads report) Disappeared off the face of the Earth. We think he's flown south for the winter. Organized Crime Task Force is working with Mexican authorities, trying to pin him down. Smith listens to every word. RANDALL If and when he shows up again, you'll run the other way. O.C.T.F. wants to talk to our friend Luis. They don't want to lose him to some crazy cop out for a vengeance killing. Naked anger shreds Smith's self-control-- SMITH What does Organized Crime think they're doing, making deals with freaks like Penna? He's a goddamn psychopath. RANDALL That's the kind of reaction I didn't want to see. Randall gets up, circles his desk and sits in his chair. RANDALL I'm pairing you with Ed Wagner. Ed's a grade two with ten years in plainclothes. Take it easy and listen to what he has to say. That's all you have to do. Clear? SMITH Clear. RANDALL You been to see Frank lately? Smith looks away, he can't meet Randall's gaze. SMITH No. RANDALL I guess you got your reasons. I guess you're the one who has to live with them. EXT. CITY - DAY The bustling city gets through another day. INT./EXT. WAGNER'S CAR (MOVING) - DAY ED WAGNER, 30s, at the wheel, gives Smith a tour of his new neighborhood. Old ladies walk in broad daylight, unafraid. Not a dealer or a crackhead in sight. A whole new world. SMITH Nice place. WAGNER There hasn't been a murder or a major robbery here in over a week. SMITH You sound disappointed. WAGNER I heard you got a rough deal. Smith considers Wagner for a moment. SMITH My ex-partner got a rougher deal. Wagner gives Smith a thoughtful look. WAGNER I heard that, too. The tour continues. They pass by a church. WAGNER You a religious man, Carlos? SMITH Do I have to be? WAGNER A little prayer never hurt anyone. You'd be welcome to come with us anytime. SMITH Thanks. They pass a substantial house with high walls and electric gates. It has the grim air of a well-protected fortress. WAGNER Every neighborhood has its rotten egg. That's Joey Santini's place. You name it, Santini owns it or has a piece of it. We had eyes and ears on him for six months before Organized Crime Task Force took over without so much as a do-you-mind? Everyone misses the overtime. SMITH Joey Santini. I heard that name before. WAGNER They call him Joey the Undertaker because he's buried so many people. If you thought mobsters were going out of fashion, think again. Santini's too young to be a godfather but he's made his mark. They might lower the age limit just for him. RADIO DISPATCH (V.O.) Nine David Zero, receiving. WAGNER That's us. (into radio) Nine David Zero, go ahead. RADIO DISPATCH (V.O.) 1-8-7 reported at 1-3-9-7 Bay View, unit Five Charlie Six called in a 9-1-4. WAGNER (into radio) Nine David Zero responding. Over. The radio call ends. WAGNER Hot damn. We got a body. Your first day, too. Talk about good omens. Grinning with boyish delight Wagner clamps a flashing bubble onto the car roof and switches on the siren. Smith smiles. EXT. MORALES HOUSE - DAY A rich man's house with a garden that could double as a golf course. A cop car sits in the driveway. INT. MORALES HOUSE - HALLWAY - DAY Smith and Wagner enter. Wagner talks to a female cop, GILLESPIE, 20s. WAGNER What've you got, Gillespie? (making intro) Detective Carlos Smith. He just transferred in from Central. GILLESPIE Howdy, Detective. SMITH 'Morning, Officer Gillespie. GILLESPIE Aspen is talking to the wife, a Mrs. Marie Morales. The husband is Michael Morales. His body is upstairs in the master bedroom. WAGNER Did the wife confess? GILLESPIE Wasn't down to her. The maid confirms. The suspect walked in, murdered the husband, then walked out again. They didn't try to stop him. Can't say I blame them. WAGNER You believe that? GILLESPIE No reason not to. I gotta go hold Aspen's hand. He has a thing about older women, 'specially when they're packaged like Mrs. Morales. Gillespie exits to the living room. Smith and Wagner head upstairs. INT. MORALES HOUSE - BEDROOM - DAY MICHAEL MORALES, 50s, tanned and handsome, lies halfway between the bed and the adjoining bathroom. He's wearing a dressing gown and one slipper. The other slipper is on the bathroom floor. Wagner pulls on a glove and goes down on one knee beside the body. Morales' head lies at an unnatural angle, dark bruising visible around the neck. WAGNER Cause of death, strangulation. Smith looks around the room, spots the slipper in the bathroom. A drawer on the table beside the bed lies open. Smith takes a look, there's a gun in the drawer. SMITH Looks like he might have tried to reach a gun in the bedside drawer. Wagner gets up, tries to figure it out. WAGNER Whoever did the job came in. The victim sees him and goes for his gun. The assailant grabs him before he gets to it, throws him off the bed. The slipper goes flying. The assailant sits on his chest and squeezes the life out of him. SMITH Just one more thing. He wasn't just strangled. His neck's broken. WAGNER That's what I call angry. INT. MORALES HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY MARIE MORALES, 40s, sizzlingly attractive, an ideal model for the designer clothes and jewelry she wears, sits on the couch facing ASPEN, a young male cop. Gillespie stands by the door. Smith and Wagner enter. Marie studies them while talking to Aspen. Aspen takes notes. ASPEN When was the last time you saw Mr. Pierce? Before today, that is. MARIE That would be... last Wednesday night. We had dinner with the Pierces at their house. The lobster was overdone but it was a pleasant enough evening. Wagner, Smith and Gillespie have their own private exchange. GILLESPIE She's fingered a guy named Pierce for the murder. Says he's a business associate of her husband's. He rang the doorbell, the maid opened the door, he pushed his way inside. He ignored Mrs. Morales, went upstairs and did a number on the husband. Then he walked out again without saying a word. WAGNER Where's the maid? GILLESPIE In the kitchen. WAGNER You want to talk to her? SMITH Sure. INT. MORALES HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY The maid, KAREN DARROW, 20s, sits at the table staring into an untouched cup of coffee. Smith and Gillespie enter. GILLESPIE Miss Darrow, this is Detective Smith. He'd like to ask you a couple of questions. SMITH If that's okay. KAREN Sure. Smith sits down and takes out his notebook. SMITH Can you tell me what happened? Karen looks bewildered, as if she doesn't know where to start. SMITH The doorbell rang...? KAREN The doorbell rang. I could see Mr. Pierce through the glass. SMITH You know Mr. Pierce? KAREN He comes over maybe once a week. Him and Mr. Morales do business together. Did business. They did business. SMITH That's the thing when someone dies, people get confused with tenses. Don't worry about it. Just take your time and tell me what happened next. KAREN Mr. Pierce pushed the door open and came in. He wasn't rough or anything. He just kind of swept me aside. SMITH What did you do? KAREN I called after him. He didn't stop. He looked in the living room, then the kitchen, then he went upstairs. I told Mrs. Morales that Mr. Pierce was here, she said show him in. I told her he'd already shown himself in. Then we heard shouting and banging noises from upstairs. SMITH You both heard this? KAREN Mrs. Morales said, "What the fuck are they doing?" She doesn't swear. SMITH Did either of you go upstairs? KAREN Not right away. Mrs. Morales told me to stay with her. She called the police. SMITH What did you think the banging and shouting was about? KAREN They were fighting. Mr. Morales and Mr. Pierce were fighting. That was pretty obvious. SMITH Okay. Mrs. Morales called the police. Then what? KAREN Mr. Pierce came downstairs and left the house. He got into his car and headed back down the driveway. I guess that was when I started breathing again. Mrs. Morales asked me if he was gone. I said yes. SMITH Where was Mrs. Morales? KAREN Still in the living room, sitting by the telephone. I think she was frightened. I know I was. SMITH How long before the cops arrived? Karen glances at Gillespie. KAREN Not long. A couple of minutes. SMITH That's a good response time. KAREN I thought so. SMITH Did you know he was dead? KAREN Mrs. Morales went upstairs. When she came back down, she told me. The doorbell RINGS. GILLESPIE That's probably Crime Scenes. I'll point them upstairs. Gillespie exits. SMITH Do you have any idea why Mr. Pierce would want to kill Mr. Morales? KAREN I wouldn't know. Smith flips his notebook shut. INT. MORALES HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY Aspen stands by the door, Wagner sits facing Marie Morales. Smith enters. MARIE I hope I don't have to repeat everything I've said all over again. Smith stays by the door. Nods hello to Aspen. WAGNER I'll exchange notes with Detective Smith later. Is there anyone you can call? A close friend or a relative, maybe. You might want to ask them to come over. MARIE That's very thoughtful of you, but I'll be fine. WAGNER In that case... thank you, Mrs. Morales. We'll be in touch if we need anything else. Wagner gets up and exits. Smith follows him outside. EXT. MORALES HOUSE - HALLWAY - DAY Smith and Wagner confer. WAGNER What did you get? SMITH A guy called Pierce pushed his way in, went upstairs and had a big fight with Morales. Then he left. No interaction with the wife or the maid. The wife called the cops. WAGNER That's what I got, too. Alexander Pierce. He's an exporter, Morales owns a shipping company, they do business with each other. From what the wife said there's social interaction, too. Dinner once a month, that sort of thing. SMITH Do we have an address for Pierce? WAGNER Washington Heights. That's where we're going now. SMITH She's taking it well. WAGNER I wouldn't want to be here when it sinks in. Maybe we should tell the maid to hide the plates and saucers. Gillespie comes downstairs and joins them. GILLESPIE They're bagging and tagging Morales. I got a good look at his thing when they opened his dressing gown. The guy's inhuman. WAGNER My wife says size doesn't matter. GILLESPIE It matters when you're hung like this guy. Last time I saw anything that big, two guys with nets were wrestling it out of a river. Wagner winces. Smith grins. WAGNER Anyone ever told you, you have an inappropriate sense of humor? GILLESPIE It's been said. Are you done here? WAGNER We're going after this guy Pierce. GILLESPIE A patrol car's already on its way to Pierce's house. If he shows up there, they'll grab him. WAGNER (to Smith) Come on, let's switch on the siren and pretend we're important. GILLESPIE Nice meeting you, Detective Smith. SMITH Same here, Officer Gillespie. GILLESPIE Samantha. My name's Samantha. They exit. INT./EXT. WAGNER'S CAR (MOVING) - DAY WAGNER I've known Gillespie two years, she's never told me her first name. SMITH Special forces are taught how to kill with their bare hands. Pierce either has training... or he's damn strong. WAGNER Why'd he do it? SMITH Who knows? If he doesn't give himself up peacefully, I vote we call in a SWAT team and blow him away. WAGNER You make him sound like the Frankenstein monster. SMITH Until proven otherwise, that's exactly what he is. EXT. PIERCE HOUSE - DAY No less impressive than the Morales house. A patrol car sits out in the street, watching the house, male officers HARVEY and RIVERA sit inside. Smith and Wagner walk up to the patrol car. WAGNER I take it Pierce hasn't shown up? HARVEY We knocked on the door. The maid said Pierce wasn't in. The wife confirmed. WAGNER (to Smith) They have a maid too. I think I'd like one of those. (to Harvey & Rivera) This is Detective Carlos Smith, just transferred in from Central. Everyone nods hello and makes friendly noises. HARVEY You want us to bug out in case we frighten him away? WAGNER Yeah, we'll watch house until someone tells us otherwise. HARVEY Yell if you need help, we'll be listening. WAGNER Sure thing. Harvey and Rivera drive away, leaving Smith and Wagner looking at the house. SMITH Maybe we should wait inside. WAGNER Yeah, why not? I'll let Dispatch know what's happening. EXT. PIERCE HOUSE - HALLWAY - DAY Smith and Wagner step inside. The maid, ROSA, 50s, closes the door. ROSA If you'll wait here, I'll tell Mrs. Pierce. WAGNER Thanks. Rosa exits. Smith and Wagner admire the expensive decor. WAGNER I don't know how much an exporter makes, but I'd like to divert some of it into my bank account. CORINNA PIERCE arrives. 30s, "attractive" would be an understatement. The song "Take My Breath Away" could have been written about her. CORINNA Hello, I'm Corinna Pierce. I understand you're looking for my husband. WAGNER That's right. I'm Detective Wagner. This is Detective Smith. When did you last see your husband? CORINNA As I told the officers who already asked me that question... about nine- thirty this morning. WAGNER Did your husband say where he was going when he left the house? CORINNA No. I didn't know he'd gone out. WAGNER How so? CORINNA I thought Alex was in the gymnasium. When the police arrived I asked Rosa where he was. She didn't know either. He left without telling us. WAGNER So he just jumped in his car and drove away? CORINNA Why don't you come in and tell me what this is all about? INT. PIERCE HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY Corinna sits in a chair facing Smith and Wagner, who sit together on a wide couch. WAGNER Nice place you got here, Mrs. Pierce. CORINNA I like to think so. (to Smith) Are you the silent partner? SMITH My mother always told me I should only speak when I'm spoken to. Corinna's smile comes slowly, like all good things. Only one sentence, and she likes him. WAGNER Your husband, Mrs. Pierce... CORINNA The police officers wouldn't tell me anything. Alex isn't answering his cell phone. Has he been involved in an accident? WAGNER I couldn't really call it an accident. Do you know Michael Morales? CORINNA Of course I do. WAGNER Mr. Morales was murdered this morning. They watch Corinna's uncertainty grow. CORINNA Where is my husband? WAGNER We don't know, Mrs. Pierce. We were hoping he'd be on his way back here. CORINNA Why do you want to talk to him? WAGNER We have witnesses who put him in the Morales house at the time Mr. Morales was killed. CORINNA That's the craziest thing I ever heard. Are you accusing Alex of murdering Michael? WAGNER We're not here to throw unfounded accusations around, Mrs. Pierce. We just want to talk to your husband. CORINNA So do I. SMITH Can you give us his cell phone number? CORINNA It's set up as a speed dial. Help yourself. Smith goes to the phone, picks up the receiver. CORINNA Press the second button. Smith presses the second button and makes note of the number. He listens... Wagner and Corinna wait expectantly. Smith hangs up. SMITH No answer. CORINNA I couldn't get an answer either. SMITH Who's on the first button? CORINNA My mother. She died last year. I still can't bring myself to erase her number. SMITH I'm sorry, Mrs. Pierce. Corinna holds on him a moment. Smith sits down again. CORINNA Are you going to look for him? WAGNER That's very likely. Do you have any idea where your husband might be? CORINNA I really don't know. SMITH Anything at all, Mrs. Pierce. We want to clear up any misunderstanding as quickly as possible. Corinna stands up. CORINNA Would you excuse me for just one moment? My husband keeps an appointments diary in his study. It's possible he's seeing a client. WAGNER Detective Smith can get it for you. CORINNA It's kept in a locked drawer. The spare key is hidden. You'd need to be clairvoyant to find it. Wagner holds up both hands, surrendering. WAGNER By all means, Mrs. Pierce. Corinna exits. WAGNER How'd you like to come home to her every night? SMITH I'd never leave the bedroom. Paramedics would have to hook me up to a drip and give me oxygen every hour. Wagner chuckles. Just when we're wondering how long she's going to be, Corinna enters. CORINNA I'd like to make a telephone call, if you don't mind? WAGNER Can we ask who you're calling? CORINNA I'll tell you in a moment. Trust me. Wagner opens his mouth to object-- SMITH Go ahead. Do you want us to leave the room? CORINNA No, that's okay. She picks up the phone, punches in the number and waits. Smith drinks in every line and curve of her face and body, can't take his eyes away. Wagner notices, and smiles. CORINNA (into phone) Hello, this is Mrs. Corinna Pierce. I'd like to speak to Doctor Lofgren please, if he's available? (she listens) Thank you. (she listens) Hello, Doctor Lofgren? I apologize for disturbing you. My name is Corinna Pierce. I'm looking for my husband, Alexander Pierce. I wondered whether you might know where he is? He has your name and number listed in his appointments diary... Corinna listens. She becomes very puzzled. Smith and Wagner exchange looks. CORINNA (into phone) Doctor Lofgren, let me see if I'm understanding this. My husband... my husband arranged this with you, when? (she listens) I don't quite know what to say, Doctor Lofgren. It's just too much to take in all at once. Probably the best thing I could do right now is hang up and think about it. I'll be in touch with you later. Goodbye. She hangs up, and closes her eyes. WAGNER You okay, Mrs. Pierce? Corinna sways... and begins to fall. Smith leaps off the couch and catches her. He carries her over to the couch. Corinna gasps for breath, her eyelids flicker like she's having a fit. Smith exits, running. DISSOLVE TO: Corinna slowly comes out of it. Smith, down on one knee beside her, offers her a glass of orange juice. Rosa stands behind him, worried. SMITH Take a sip. Corinna takes a sip, swallows, takes another sip. Realizes Smith, Wagner and Rosa are staring at her. CORINNA It's been a while since I felt so stupid. SMITH You've nothing to feel stupid about. WAGNER Bad news? Corinna looks at him. WAGNER On the phone, I mean. CORINNA You might say that. WAGNER Who did you call? CORINNA Doctor Lofgren. He runs the Latona Institute. WAGNER I never heard of it. CORINNA It's a private clinic. SMITH Does he know where your husband is? CORINNA Oh he knows, all right. WAGNER You going to tell us, or do we have to guess? CORINNA I think you should maybe pay Doctor Lofgren a visit and ask him yourself. The clinic is on Maybury. ROSA Mrs. Pierce is very tired. Wagner's about to argue-- SMITH Will you be at home if we need to speak to you again? CORINNA I have no plans to go anywhere. Wagner heads for the door. Smith follows him. CORINNA Can I ask a question, Detective? SMITH Sure. CORINNA Do you think my husband murdered Michael Morales? Smith hesitates. Wagner stands by the door, waiting. CORINNA I've learned to take my medicine straight, Detective. SMITH It's not looking good for your husband, Mrs. Pierce. CORINNA Thank you for being honest with me. Smith wants to say something else... but exits with Wagner instead. Rosa follows them out. INT./EXT. WAGNER'S CAR (MOVING) - DAY WAGNER What do you suppose all that was about? With the fainting and stuff. SMITH She's diabetic. Shock affects blood sugar levels. WAGNER It could have been an act. SMITH Her maid was worried. That wasn't an act. WAGNER I guess so. I like your style. Smooth. Another five minutes, she would have given you access to her Swiss bank account. Smith stares out the window, uncomfortable with that. EXT. LATONA INSTITUTE - DAY An impressive glass-fronted edifice. INT. LATONA INSTITUTE - RECEPTION AREA - DAY Chrome chairs and potted plants. DOCTOR LOFGREN, 50s, tweed suit, distinguished, shakes hands with Smith and Wagner. WAGNER Thanks for seeing us without an appointment, Doctor Lofgren. LOFGREN Mrs. Pierce's telephone call warned me that something wasn't quite right. Please, sit down. They sit. WAGNER Let's talk about Alexander Pierce. LOFGREN Under other circumstances I'd have to deny you information that might infringe my patient's privacy, of course. But since Mr. Pierce has passed over... Smith and Wagner exchange a "Say what?" Look. WAGNER When you say he's passed over, does that mean passed over for promotion, or for some kind of medical procedure, or what? LOFGREN How much do you know about what we do here at the Latona Institute? WAGNER Very little, I'm afraid. Lofgren picks up a couple of brochures and gives them to Smith and Wagner. The cover shows the Latona Institute building underneath the bold title, "IMMORTALITY IS NOW POSSIBLE THROUGH CRYOGENICS." SMITH Cryogenics. Deep-freezing, right? LOFGREN Our clients are laid to rest in baths of liquid nitrogen. They'll remain in a frozen state until they're awakened at some specified time in the future. SMITH Define "specified time." LOFGREN For example... when a cure for whatever terminal disease afflicts them is available. Payment for our services isn't just a one-off fee. A fund is set up to cover the cost of the patient's resurrection. The fund grows year by year to keep pace with inflation. WAGNER Are you trying to tell me...? LOFGREN Mr. Alexander Pierce is one of our clients. I have documentation that will confirm this. His lawyer has duplicate copies. In accordance with Mr. Pierce's legal instructions he has been placed in cryogenic suspension. WAGNER Where is he? LOFGREN In a cryogenic crypt, in our underground storage vault. INSERT - a gleaming steel hatch, like a bank vault. WAGNER Then let's wake him up and tell him he's under arrest. LOFGREN I don't understand. WAGNER I don't care if Pierce is blue with cold and his teeth are chattering so hard they break off. We're taking him with us. LOFGREN That's just not possible. SMITH Do you have the means to revive him? LOFGREN No. WAGNER "No"? LOFGREN At the very instant of immersion into liquid nitrogen, Mr. Pierce became a solid block of frozen organic material. Removing him from the bath will result in his eventual thaw, but... If you're expecting him to open his eyes and say hello, that's just not going to happen. WAGNER You're telling us he's dead. LOFGREN That's not a word we like to use at the Latona Institute. With cryogenic suspension, death is postponed. Perhaps forever. SMITH Was Pierce dead when you lowered him into the liquid nitrogen bath? LOFGREN I have signed confirmation of his death from three qualified medical doctors, one of whom was selected by Mr. Pierce's lawyer. SMITH How did he die? LOFGREN He told me he took poison. I had no reason not to believe him, especially as he expired five minutes later. INSERT - closer on the hatch, covered with frost. WAGNER Where did this happen? LOFGREN In my office. WAGNER A man commits suicide in your office and you don't call the police? LOFGREN Written notification of Mr. Pierce's death has been sent to the District Attorney's office. You understand that the Latona Institute played no part in his suicide. That was his own doing. We did not advise or encourage him to take his own life. I can't stress how strongly we would refute any such allegation. If the slightest suggestion were ever made, either verbally or in print, the Institute would aggressively pursue the offending party through the court system until they were made destitute. We take what we do here very seriously. SMITH Save the speeches, Doctor. What kind of poison did he take? LOFGREN He left a sample. I believe it's known as a "heart stopper." He selected it very carefully. It is not a neurotoxin, therefore Mr. Pierce's brain function remains unimpaired. SMITH Assuming they can defrost him in the future and bring him back to life with brain function intact. LOFGREN Exactly. Then again, the revival procedure may be entirely different by then. Our best projections foresee creation of a new body by cloning, followed by block copying of the neural pathways. The subject's personality and memories will be transferred to the clone's brain, and the old body will be discarded. INSERT - inside the crypt hatch - a bathtub filled with silver liquid. A human HAND, frozen and motionless, protrudes from the liquid. WAGNER This is science fiction. LOFGREN I beg to differ. The cloning part is relatively easy and can be done now. We estimate we're ten, perhaps fifteen years away from perfecting a transfer process. Our Russian colleagues have already claimed some success in this field using laboratory animals. SMITH How much does all this cost? LOFGREN I'm afraid I can't divulge personal-- SMITH Ballpark figure. I'm dying, I want to freeze my body until they find a cure. How rich do I have to be? LOFGREN For the extensive services we offer here at the Latona Institute, I'm afraid that if you have less than 20 million dollars in your bank account you'll have to shop elsewhere. SMITH I've heard of places that only freeze the skull. It costs a lot less than 20 million. LOFGREN You should feel free to try it and let me know how you get on. Perhaps we can compare notes hundreds of years from now -- you floating in your glass jar wired up to a voice box, and me in my healthy new cloned body. WAGNER I guess that's medical humor. Did Mr. Pierce say anything before he died? LOFGREN Aside from asking whether everything was in order, no. SMITH Do you know Michael Morales? LOFGREN I haven't met him personally. SMITH He was murdered this morning. The way things are looking, Pierce is the killer. Lofgren takes this in. He's surprised... but not shocked. LOFGREN If you're asking whether Mr. Pierce confessed his crime, or confided in me his reasons for murdering Mr. Morales, the answer's no. I'm afraid I can't help you there. WAGNER I want to see those documents. LOFGREN Certainly. WAGNER And you'd better have videotape evidence of Pierce being put into his coffin, because if you don't, we're going to thaw him out and take DNA samples. LOFGREN We have cameras in every room. They're used for procedural checks. I can prove that Mr. Pierce currently resides in cryogenic suspension. WAGNER Glad to hear it. After you, Doctor. INT./EXT. WAGNER'S CAR (MOVING) - DAY WAGNER What d'you think about Pierce? He sets everything up... then murders Morales... then drives straight to that place and signs himself into cold storage. Jesus, he wrote it in his appointments diary. SMITH Takes a special kind of mind to plan and execute something like that. WAGNER Captain Randall isn't going to believe a word of it. SMITH Why not? Pierce killed Morales. Now he's dead too. The case is closed... unless Randall orders us to go into deep freeze so we can arrest Pierce when he wakes up 500 years from now. WAGNER You think he might do that? Pierce, I mean. Wake up again. SMITH Anything's possible. But I wouldn't bet 20 million dollars on it. WAGNER Where'd Pierce get 20 million anyway? Maybe his lawyer knows. We should talk to him. SMITH After lunch? WAGNER Sitting on your butt looking out the window is giving you an appetite, huh? We're not too far from my place. We can pick something up there. SMITH I was thinking maybe a burger. WAGNER My wife makes a good burger. SMITH I wouldn't want to impose. WAGNER She has a thing about cops. She'll want to meet you. But you have to impress her right off with your honesty and integrity. I go for a beer after work and she calls to ask where I am, she has to believe every word you say. SMITH You expect me to lie to your wife for you? WAGNER That's what partners are for. EXT. WAGNER'S HOUSE - DAY A pleasant little place in suburbia. INT. WAGNER'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY LOUISE WAGNER, late 30s, girl-next-door type, sits at the table with Smith and her husband. Louise and Wagner eat healthy salads while watching Smith attack an impressive looking burger. LOUISE How is it? SMITH Delicious, Mrs. Wagner, delicious. LOUISE You call me Mrs. Wagner again, I'm going to have to shoot you. WAGNER She means in the shoulder. LOUISE Maybe. SMITH I'll try not to make that mistake again... Louise. LOUISE So how come you're paired with Ed? Did you draw the short straw? WAGNER Louise. Must you embarrass me? LOUISE The last three partners Ed was assigned all died in tragic circumstances. He says it wasn't his fault, and God knows I believe my husband, but sometimes I can't help but think-- WAGNER Dammit, Louise, I told you never to talk about that! Absolute silence at the table. LOUISE Oh, gosh, I'm sorry. I thought everyone knew, what with the publicity and all. The awkward moment goes on forever... then Smith realizes. SMITH Funny. Very funny. He resumes eating. Wagner chuckles and Louise smiles sweetly. LOUISE More juice, Carlos? EXT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY A glass and chrome obelisk. INT. LAWYER'S OFFICE - DAY Smith and Wagner sit opposite HOBARTS, 40s, a shark wearing a business suit. HOBARTS I don't know what I can tell you that Doctor Lofgren didn't already tell you. WAGNER Did you know Mr. Pierce intended to kill himself? HOBARTS Absolutely not. WAGNER That came as a surprise to you? HOBARTS When Mr. Pierce asked me to draft the instructions Doctor Lofgren acted upon, he intimated that he suffered from a terminal illness. WAGNER Did he? HOBARTS Suffer from a terminal illness? That's between Mr. Pierce and his doctor. I dealt with the legal side of things. WAGNER Do you have any idea where Mr. Pierce obtained the poison he took in Doctor Lofgren's office? HOBARTS No. I also had no idea he took the poison there. I wasn't present. WAGNER If you had been, would you have tried to stop him? HOBARTS Assuming I knew he intended to commit suicide... I think I would have tried to talk him out of it, at the very least. That's all hypothetical, of course. WAGNER Do you also represent Mrs. Pierce? HOBARTS I'm her legal adviser, yes. WAGNER Do you think Mrs. Pierce knew what her husband was planning? HOBARTS I can't answer that question. WAGNER Because you're her lawyer? HOBARTS Because I don't know the answer. We never discussed it at any time. If Corinna did know something she never confided in me. SMITH What was he like? HOBARTS I only knew him in a professional capacity. Perhaps you should be asking Mrs. Pierce. SMITH Professionally, what was he like? HOBARTS Clear-thinking. Very decisive. SMITH Was Michael Morales the same? HOBARTS Given the fact of Mr. Morales' death, there's no harm in my expressing an opinion. Mr. Pierce was by far the more aggressive and talented of the two. That's not to say Mr. Morales didn't bring his own strengths to their partnership. SMITH Pierce was an exporter. Any idea what it was he exported? HOBARTS Mining machinery and equipment. Most of it bound for the South American market, I believe. SMITH And Morales owned a shipping company. His ships carried Pierce's machinery? HOBARTS I'm afraid you've reached the extent of my knowledge. WAGNER And we've wasted enough of your time, Mr. Hobarts. Thanks for seeing us without an appointment. Wagner and Smith get up. Hobarts presses the intercom button. HOBARTS Given the circumstances, asking you to make an appointment would have been inexcusable. His SECRETARY opens the office door and looks in. HOBARTS Susan will see you out. Good day. INT. OFFICE BUILDING ELEVATOR - DAY Smith and Wagner watch the numbers change. WAGNER You got any other ideas? SMITH No. WAGNER Louise wondered if you're married, engaged, girlfriend, or what? SMITH Your wife is very nosy. WAGNER Oh God, yes. SMITH Tell her I'm gay. WAGNER Won't work. She'll just want to invite you and your bodybuilder boyfriend over for dinner. Smith sighs, defeated. SMITH Currently unattached. Soon as I'm attached, she'll be the second to know. WAGNER Guess that'll have to do. SMITH What makes you think he'd be a bodybuilder? WAGNER I just think you'd go for that type. SMITH That's encouraging. BING! The elevator journey ends. INT. LATONA INSTITUTE - DARK CORRIDOR - NIGHT Moving toward the vault... INT. LATONA INSTITUTE - OUTSIDE VAULT DOOR - NIGHT Moving toward the door... INT. LATONA INSTITUTE - VAULT - NIGHT Moving toward the steel crypt hatch... INT. LATONA INSTITUTE - CRYPT - NIGHT Silver liquid fills the bathtub, calm, ummoving... A HUMAN SHAPE slowly rises out of the liquid, head and shoulders taking form, mouth wide open-- EXT. SMITH'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - NIGHT Smith awakens out of a nightmare, sweating. He punches his pillows into shape and tries to get to sleep again. 02/05
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