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The Calm Before

I wrote this for Joel's short film project. Hopefully we'll see it soon as a short.

EXT. CITY STREET - NIGHT - THE FORTIES (BLACK AND WHITE)

A crowded main-street. The ground is shimmering, wet with a recent rain.

It’s crowded. A handful of people are leaving a movie theatre.

Beyond the crowd, briskly moving toward them, through them, is a middle-aged fellow in a trench coat. His name is JOHNNY and he has the defined and chiseled features of an everyman in 1945.

As he moves through the people, he’s constantly looking over his shoulder.

JOHNNY (V.O.)
As soon as I arrived in town I
knew they meant to kill me.

Indeed there are two burly men in suits and derby hats trailing him, fifteen feet behind.
He pulls both sides of his collar together and walks on, turning a corner to an:

EXT. ALLEY WAY - CONTINUOUS

It’s deserted except for the rats and the trash.

The thugs get twice as menacing now that they don’t have anyone watching them.

One brandishes a knife...

JOHNNY (V.O.)
These bruisers are the sort of guys that
have cinder-bricks for fists and
murder on their tiny little minds.

The other rolls his sleeve as they barrel in on Johnny.

Johnny dumps over a garbage can, hoping to slow them down...

THUG #1
Hey!

Hoping he’ll lose them, Johnny picks up his pace and rounds the corner to:

EXT. PUBLIC PARK - CONTINUOUS

No such luck. Within moments the burly gents have rounded the corner, becoming much more inconspicuous now that they have prying eyes upon them in the public park.

Johnny slips by a pair of people...

The goons are getting closer.

JOHNNY (V.O.)
Anyone else and none of this would
have been a discussion, but not Lonnegan.
Lonnegan doesn’t take no for an answer
and neither do his men. And if you
say words like, “sorry” and “simple mistake”
you may as well be speaking Swahili.

Stepping closer and closer to Johnny, Lonnegan’s men weave through couple strolling through the park, careful never to lose him from their sight.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Gotta think, Johnny. Gotta
think fast. You need a witness...

As he walks, Johnny scans the people around, hoping to find what he’s looking for...

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
An innocent. That’s what I need.
Someone to go home with.

He quickens his pace, as he spots a young, attractive blonde sitting alone on a park bench, clearly waiting for someone. She’s a pin-up dropped into the world of black film.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Love at first sight.

The goons try to grab him before he sits down next to the girl, but they’re too late. They hang back, watching him, cracking their knuckles in the shadowed background.

JOHNNY (CONT’D)
(nervously)
Howdy do, miss?

YOUNG GIRL
Hmmm...

She turns away from him, looking the opposite direction.

JOHNNY
(eyeing the thugs)
Come on, don’t be like that. What’s your name?

She turns, trying to look at him through the corner of her eye.

Sweat drips from his brow...

YOUNG GIRL
Not that it’s any of your business, but it’s Maddie.

JOHNNY
Maddie?

YOUNG GIRL
That’s what I said.

JOHNNY
Well, Maddie, what’s a pretty girl like
you doing out all by yourself on a night like this?

YOUNG GIRL
(disinterested)
I’m waiting for someone.

Johnny slides a little closer to her...

She says nothing.

JOHNNY (V.O.)
If only I could get her to talk to me, to
take me home. I might be able to buy
enough time to get Abbott and Costello
over there off my hard-luck case.

JOHNNY (CONT’D)
You know, I could be that someone.

Still she doesn’t respond.

Slowly, the features of his face wilt.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
They’re going to kill me.
And she’s going to let them.

He looks over to them, making eye contact.

JOHNNY (CONT’D)
Would you like to go out for a drink?

YOUNG GIRL
With you?
(She looks him up and down)
Not likely.

JOHNNY
One drink and I’m buying.
You can’t get a better offer than that.

YOUNG GIRL
I’ve had better offers from better men than you.

He squirms, forming his thoughts, wondering what to say...

JOHNNY (V.O.)
She’s probably right. I’m of the
lowest order. I’m “wrong-side-of-the-tracks”
all the way. She’s not going to leave
with me like this...
I’ve got to think of something...

It strikes him:

JOHNNY (CONT’D)
(getting desperate)
Dinner. I could stand some food.

She doesn’t respond.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
That’s good. Ask her to the Last Supper.

He tries again:

JOHNNY (CONT’D)
I’ll take you to the Derby.

She smirks.

YOUNG GIRL
I’m not that kind of girl, mister.

Johnny glances toward his future murderers, accidentally making eye contact with them.

JOHNNY
Listen, peach, I know you’re not that
kind of girl. It’s not like that at all.

YOUNG GIRL
Is that so? What’s it like then.

JOHNNY
Let me tell you all about it over dinner.

YOUNG GIRL
Nice try.

JOHNNY
Listen. It’s a matter of life and death.

YOUNG GIRL
I’ve never heard that one before.

He leans over to her ear and whispers.

JOHNNY
My life is in danger. Those men over
there--no... don’t look--they’re
going to kill me. But if they’ll
let me alone if you come with me.

She turns her voice down as well.

YOUNG GIRL
I’ve never heard that one before.

He pulls back, away from her.

JOHNNY
Well, it’s the truth.

YOUNG GIRL
Sure it is.

She stands from the bench. The blood has rushed from his face. It reads despair.

JOHNNY (V.O.)
She looked down at me, into my eyes.
For a second I thought she might have
seen it, the truth of it. The truth
behind it. But like that...

She walks away, coolly, casually, disappearing into the dark.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
...she was gone, all hope of respite along with her.

He levels his gaze over to Lonnegan’s men, still watching him with hate from a distance.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I shouldn’t have come back.
That’s what people do, I suppose,
for love and broken-hearts that’ll
never heal. It’s human nature.

The thugs slowly approach Johnny, who hasn’t moved a muscle.

JOHNNY (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I shouldn’t have come back.

He hangs his head.

The thugs fill the frame more and more on their way to Johnny until the frame is nothing but black.
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