(SCREENPLAY) Absolution: The Ted Roth Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

ABSOLUTION is a dark, raw, and uncensored page-turner screenplay chronicling the growth of a psychopathic killer from his first shocking, childhood mutilation.

 

Absolution

The Ted Roth Story

 

screenplay based on the novel by Edmund Hulton

 

OVER BLACK, FADE IN:

 

“... no pleasure because he had no illusions left... no pains because he no longer knew what pleasure meant.”

- Balzac

 

FADE OUT

 

INT. BANQUET HALL - EVENING

 

We are in a resplendent banquet hall. Several hundred elite WEALTHY GUESTS sit at elegant tables arranged throughout the room. Men in tuxedoes, women in gowns.

 

Hushed anticipatory chatter permeates the hall.

 

TED ROTH, late middle-aged, sits at one of the tables near the center of the room.

 

His eyes are tightly fixed on the front of the room where, forty feet away, we see men who look like SECRET SERVICE standing, facing the audience, evenly spaced across the front of a dais.

 

Ted is expressionless.

 

All eyes stare at the front of the room as a door opens and we glimpse a MAN entering, accompanied by more SECRET SERVICE.

 

ANOTHER ANGLE. The room goes respectfully silent and we see the man’s back as he ascends the speaking platform and steps up to the dais.

 

Beat.

 

MAN

(tapping microphone) Can everyone hear m-

 

A MASSIVE EXPLOSION obliterates the speaking platform!

 

A SPLASH hits the wall behind the dais like a piece of Abstract Expressionist art. At the center of the BLOODY mess, sticking in the glut of brains and flesh, is a shock of hair.

 

SCREAMS and panic. It’s bedlam. The guests flee for the exits. Slower ones are trampled.

 

Through dust and debris we FOCUS CLOSE ON...

 

A chunk of the blood-splattered dais that has survived the devastation. The blood drips onto the PRESIDENTIAL SEAL.

 

CUT TO:

 

SOLEMN ORGAN MUSIC plays...

 

 

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - YEAR 1955 - MORNING

 

A white-haired priest, FATHER ANDRE, stands facing the altar, arms outstretched in silent prayer. A MASSIVE OAKEN CROSS hangs suspended from the ceiling before him.

 

At either end of the altar steps, two altar boys kneel piously, hands pressed together in prayer.

 

TEDDY ROTH is a strikingly pure, freckled 10-year-old with sparkling blue innocent eyes. He looks over and sneaks a disingenuous smile at his friend CHARLIE GARNER.

 

TED (O.S.)

My name is Ted Roth. Speaking these words is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

 

SOLARIZATION

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - NIGHT

We’re in a small, stark white bedroom.

 

On the bed, late middle-aged Ted Roth lies dying. Bare-chested, a BLOOD-SOAKED DRESSING covers a disgorging wound in his abdomen. Blood seeps to the clean white sheet covering his lower body.

 

Weakly he holds a miniature TAPE RECORDER to his mouth.

TED

I killed Charlie Garner with a knife. He was eleven years old. I was ten.

 

EXT. STASIA STREET - TEANECK, NEW JERSEY - 1949 - DAY

Establishing. A quiet, well-kept suburban neighborhood.

 

All the houses look the same. Middle-class, two stories, a garage. Monopoly houses.

 

We see ELDERLY COUPLES relaxing on porches. No kids. EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - SAME

A MOVING VAN is parked in the driveway. MOVERS carry in furniture.

 

ED and EILEEN ROTH, an attractive, conservative young couple, stand admiring their very first home. 4-YEAR-OLD TEDDY holds his mother’s hand.

 

EILEEN

I’m so glad to get out of that apartment. Leonia was no place to raise a child.

 

 

 

ED

Teaneck’s the place to be. People don’t even have to lock their doors. Did you know Pat Boone lives here?

 

EILEEN

Really!

She takes his hand and squeezes it.

EILEEN (CONT'D)

I love you, Ed.

 

4-year-old Teddy suddenly breaks free of his mother, dashes up the driveway and playfully dives into a recliner chair the movers have left there. Ed and Eileen laugh.

 

ED

I think he’s more excited than we are.

EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - FOUR YEARS LATER - MORNING

 

Summer morning. Pretty flowers have been planted in the trim front yard.

 

8-YEAR-OLD TEDDY sits out on the curb in t-shirt, dungarees and Keds, chin propped in his hands, staring blankly down the street. No children are playing anywhere.

 

EILEEN (O.S.)

We need to do something about this.

Ed and Eileen look out the screen door at their son.

ED

What? We can’t buy him a friend.

EILEEN

It’s been four years, Ed. Eight-year-old boys need friends.

 

ED

Look, there’s nothing I can do. If there was a Little League or something, he could join, but there isn’t.

(pecks her cheek) See you tonight.

 

Ed walks out and gets in his ‘46 Ford in the driveway.

ED (CONT’D)

See you tonight, sport.

Teddy barely nods.

 

 

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - EVENING

 

Teddy and his parents sit at their small kitchen table. Ed says a perfunctory grace and they start to eat supper. No one talks.

 

TED (O.S.)

Hard as it is to believe, it wasn’t until I was eight that another kid moved into my neighborhood.

 

CUT TO:

The SPINNING BLADES of a manual mower jerking through grass... EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - MORNING

Under the hot sun, Teddy struggles to push the hand mower, finishing the last row of uncut grass. When he’s done, he simply leaves the mower where it stands and trudges aimlessly away.

 

That’s when he hears a truck approaching. INSERT TITLE CARD: “MY BEST FRIEND”

EXT. CHARLIE’S HOUSE - SAME

 

Two doors away, a MOVING VAN pulls into a driveway followed by a family sedan.

 

EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - CONT’D

Teddy’s eyes come alive with hope. He walks toward the street. EXT. CHARLIE’S HOUSE - CONT’D

Two MOVERS jump out of the cab. A couple about the same age as Teddy’s parents, MR. AND MRS. GARNER, get out of the car. 11- year-old Charlie Garner crawls out the back.

 

They all look up as Teddy hesitantly walks toward them. He stops a few yards away and peers at Charlie.

 

Charlie looks back. The two boys size each other up. Both wear dungarees and t-shirts. Charlie is a little taller.

 

MRS. GARNER

(smiles at Teddy) What’s your name?

 

TEDDY

Teddy Roth, ma’am.

 

 

 

MRS. GARNER

Well aren’t you the polite one. My name is Mrs. Garner, this is Mr. Garner, and this here‘s Charlie.

(beat)

Say hello to Teddy, Charlie.

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

 

Eileen Roth cleans carrots in the kitchen sink. We hear the screen door slam shut.

 

TEDDY (O.S.)

Mom! Mom!

Eileen turns to see a very excited, out of breath Teddy race in.

TEDDY (CONT’D)

A boy moved in the Jenkins’ place! He’s really neat. His name’s Charlie. We’re gonna play in the woods. Can I?

 

Wiping her hands on her apron, Eileen bends and hugs Teddy, gushing with relief.

 

EILEEN

That’s wonderful, Teddy! Just wonderful.

EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - DAY

 

At the end of Teddy’s quiet street a rusty “DEAD END” SIGN sits at the edge of woods.

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

Teddy and Charlie play in the woods.

TED (O.S.)

Charlie and I immediately became best friends. We did everything together.

 

They make bows and arrows from the abundant saplings. They play cowboys and Indians.

 

TED (O.S.) (CONT'D)

For the first time in my life I had someone to play with, someone to talk to...

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

 

Eileen brings sandwiches to Teddy and Charlie. They wolf them down and run out.

 

 

 

EXT. WOODS - SERIES OF SHOTS - DAY

 

The two boys build a secret fort amidst a cluster of trees, using boards, scrap metal, tarpaper, etc.

 

TED (O.S.)

Someone who thought like I did. Someone who liked me.

 

They dig a ‘foxhole’ in the middle.

 

They meticulously conceal their shelter with surrounding brush, making it virtually unnoticeable.

 

TED (O.S.) (CONT'D)

Someone to trust.

 

Kneeling in their foxhole, under a mound of excavated dirt, Teddy uses the thorn of a rose stem to carefully prick his thumb, then Charlie’s. The two boys press their thumbs together.

 

TEDDY

I, Ted Roth--

CHARLIE

I, Charlie Garner--

TEDDY AND CHARLIE

-- solemnly swear I’ll never reveal Fort Garner-Roth to anyone, ever.

 

They cross their hearts.

TEDDY AND CHARLIE (CONT’D)

Cross my heart and hope to die.

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

 

Rain pelts the windows. Teddy and Charlie are mesmerized by a MONSTER MOVIE on black & white TV. Comic books litter the floor.

 

TED (O.S.)

For the next two years, I had a reason to get up in the morning.

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

 

A narrow path runs through the woods. From their secret foxhole shelter Teddy and Charlie spy on unsuspecting FOLK strolling by.

 

EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - BACKYARD - NIGHT

 

An overnight tent is set up. Teddy and Charlie creep out onto the lawn with flashlights, and dig for nightcrawlers.

 

 

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL - CORRIDOR - DAY

 

CATHOLIC SCHOOLBOYS in uniforms hurry to class. Teddy and Charlie goof around, making faces behind passing NUNS. They notice one particularly young and attractive nun (SISTER KAY). The two boys mock being in love with her.

 

TED (O.S.)

In retrospect, I loved Charlie. It was just Charlie and me.

 

INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

In his pajamas, Teddy crawls snugly into bed. His mother kisses him goodnight and starts to leave.

 

TEDDY

Mom?

She turns. Teddy pauses, embarrassed.

TEDDY (CONT'D)

I’m glad I have a best friend... I thought something was wrong with me.

 

Eileen rushes to him, kneels and grabs his arms, appalled.

EILEEN

Oh honey, of course there’s nothing wrong with you.

 

TEDDY

(smiles, beaming)

We’re blood brothers. To the end.

EXT. STASIA STREET - MORNING

 

Over the past two years the quiet suburban neighborhood has remained virtually unchanged. Same Monopoly houses. Same elderly couples on porches.

 

Except now the air is buoyant with BOYS’ LAUGHTER... EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - SAME

Teddy and Charlie toss a football back and forth on the front lawn. Teddy makes a ‘spectacular’ catch and runs ‘in slow motion’ for a touchdown, making a ‘roaring crowd’ sound.

 

Suddenly both boys hear something and look up.

A MOVING VAN pulls into a driveway several doors down.

 

 

 

TED (O.S.)

Then the Hendersons, from Cleveland, Ohio, moved into the old Moore place.

 

Both boys look at each other, then back at the moving van. EXT. JOHNNY’S HOUSE - DAY

Teddy follows Charlie up the Henderson’s front drive. Charlie RINGS the bell. Through the screen door, they hear a TV.

 

11-year-old JOHNNY HENDERSON comes to the door. Tall and skinny, with black curly hair and a dark complexion. He gazes out at them for a moment.

 

JOHNNY

Hey.

 

Teddy peers sideways at Charlie. INT. A&P SUPERMARKET - DAY

Teddy helps his mother shop for groceries. He picks up two Chunky bars and asks if she’ll buy them. She nods.

 

TED (O.S.)

Johnny seemed a pretty nice guy. I think someone told me later he was Armenian.

His mother gave us milk and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

 

EXT. A&P SUPERMARKET - PARKING LOT - DAY

Teddy helps his mother load the groceries into their Ford.

TED (O.S.)

All in all, it was a pretty good start. But that would soon end.

 

EXT. CHARLIE’S HOUSE - DAY

 

With two Chunky bars clutched in his hand, Teddy eagerly raps on the door. Mrs. Garner opens it.

 

TEDDY

(excited)

Where’s Charlie? I got him a Chunky bar.

MRS. GARNER

Why, he left with Johnny. About two hours ago. I’m surprised you’re not with them.

 

The excitement drains from Teddy’s freckled face.

 

 

 

MRS. GARNER (CONT’D)

Don’t worry, dear. I’m sure they’re around somewhere.

 

EXT. JOHNNY’S HOUSE - DAY

Hopefully, Teddy peers in Johnny’s one-car garage. It’s empty. He runs around the house and checks the backyard. Empty.

EXT. STASIA STREET - DAY

Teddy dashes through backyards, looking around, shouting.

TEDDY

Charlie?

EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - DAY

 

Teddy, gripping the melting candy bars, approaches the dead end sign at the edge of the woods. He stops there, confused.

 

EXT. WOODS - DAY

He walks down the winding path. Silent trees.

TEDDY

Charlie?

 

He proceeds deeper into the woods. After a moment he stops. Up ahead are the brush and trees that conceal the secret fort.

 

TEDDY (CONT’D)

(quietly) Charlie?

 

With apprehension he approaches the secret place. Reaching it, he hesitates. Then he pulls aside branches and looks down.

 

IN THE FOXHOLE

 

Charlie and Johnny lie opposite each other on their backs, pants pulled down around their knees, masturbating.

 

Teddy stares, horrified.

 

Without stopping Charlie looks up but before he can say anything Johnny moans-- and ejaculates.

 

TEDDY (CONT’D)

(shocked) Are you alright?!

 

Charlie laughs loudly.

 

 

 

CHARLIE

You look like you’re gonna cry.

TEDDY

(suddenly enraged) You TOLD!

 

He hurls the Chunky bars at Charlie and runs off. INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - DAY

Teddy runs into his room and collapses on his bed. Sobbing hysterically into his pillow, he squeezes his head tightly in his hands. With unbearable, helpless pain, he pummels his fists against his skull in increasing monstrous rage.

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - EVENING

The Roths eat supper at the kitchen table.

EILEEN

Teddy? Are you alright?

 

Teddy, pale and sick, hasn’t touched his food. He nods, forces a smile, eats a mouthful of peas.

 

INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Middle of the night. Teddy lies wide awake, severe and resolute.

TEDDY

You’re not my friend... I hate you...

EXT. STASIA STREET - PRE-DAWN

The neighborhood sleeps. INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - SAME

Careful not to make a sound, Teddy slides open his dresser drawer, which we see is neatly stacked with pairs of identical dungarees and t-shirts.

 

He quickly dresses in the dark, grabbing his Roy Rogers wristwatch from atop the dresser.

 

EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - TOOL SHED - PRE-DAWN

 

Glancing back at the house to make sure no one’s watching, Teddy enters the tool shed at the back of the property.

 

 

 

INT. TOOL SHED - CONTINUOUS

 

He quietly shuts the door. He pulls the light cord and, from his father’s workbench, carefully selects four long wooden garden STAKES, a hammer, a roll of twine, and a hunting KNIFE, putting everything in a bucket.

 

He turns to leave, then remembers something. He plucks a SHOVEL from the wall.

EXT. WOODS - PRE-DAWN

Stillness. Dark woods anticipate the dawn. IN THE FOXHOLE

Teddy lays on his back in exactly the same position Charlie was the day before.

 

He fans his legs open and carefully sits up. Without moving, he places a wooden stake by his ankle, and starts pounding it in the ground.

 

EXT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - MORNING

Sun shines on a traditional stone church, convent, and school. CHURCHGOERS dressed in their Sunday best enter the church.

INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - BACK ROOM - SAME

 

In a corner, Teddy and Charlie pull on black gowns. Teddy looks like he hasn’t slept, but is pumped with adrenaline.

 

CHARLIE

(awkwardly)

Hey. Sorry about yesterday. (pause)

Johnny’s a pretty cool guy.

Teddy burns inside.

 

TEDDY

What are you doin’ after Mass?

CHARLIE

Why?

TEDDY

I got something to show you.

CHARLIE

(eager) What?

 

 

 

Teddy glances around. CHOIR MEMBERS chat and button their robes.

TEDDY

You can’t tell anyone. Promise?

CHARLIE

Promise.

TEDDY

(whispers)

I found my father’s German Lugar hidden in the garage.

 

CHARLIE

Cool! Can we shoot it?

TEDDY

Shhh. Meet me at twelve. (beat)

At our secret place.

CHARLIE

Okay.

TEDDY

Tell your folks you’re going to Johnny’s.

CHARLIE

But his family goes to church at twelve.

TEDDY

Tell them he’s sick and stayed home.

CHARLIE

Good idea. He fakes sick a lot.

 

Father Andre, the white-haired priest from the beginning, walks by and smiles.

 

FATHER ANDRE

My altar boys ready?

TEDDY AND CHARLIE

Yes, Father.

They follow him. Teddy whispers.

TEDDY

Make sure you don’t tell anyone.

CHARLIE

I swear. Cross my heart and hope to die. (pause)

So we still friends?

 

 

 

They walk out into the chapel.

TEDDY

To the end, Charlie.

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING

After Mass, Teddy and his parents eat breakfast.

EILEEN

Remember, your father and I are going to the Sunday Matinee today.

 

TEDDY

Yeah, Mom.

EILEEN

Don’t get in any trouble.

TEDDY

Why do you always say that? I never do.

Eileen wipes a bit of egg from the corner of his mouth.

EILEEN

I know, honey.

EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - MORNING

Their car pulls out of the driveway.

 

ANGLE. Teddy peers around the back of the house. When they’re gone he quickly hurries away.

 

EXT. JOHNNY’S HOUSE - BACK - MORNING

 

He stands nervously at the back door of Johnny’s house, making sure no one’s around. He knocks. No answer. Knocks again to be safe. Then he enters and shuts the door.

 

INT. JOHNNY’S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

 

Teddy listens, heart racing. The eerie silence of Johnny’s empty house is stifling. The curtains are closed. The room is frozen in muted shadows.

 

He’s suddenly overwhelmed with confusion. What is he doing here? He stands motionless for what seems like an eternity.

 

He jumps and nearly screams when someone BANGS on the door behind him.

 

CHARLIE (O.S.)

Hey, Johnny! You home?

 

 

 

BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG!

CHARLIE (O.S.) (CONT'D)

It’s me, Charlie! I’m goin’ to the woods to meet that jerk Teddy. You wanna come?

 

Teddy goes pale. Then his eyes shoot to the door. He realizes it’s unlocked. Very slowly, he reaches out to turn the bolt.

 

As he does the DOORKNOB TURNS.

 

Frantically Teddy grabs the bolt and pushes his body against the door just in time as it RATTLES back and forth against his hand. Paralyzed with fear, he grips the half-inserted bolt, white- knuckled, praying it will hold. THUMP-THUMP-THUMP on the door.

 

Finally, Charlie gives up. We hear him bound away. Teddy lets go of the bolt. He breathes again.

Then his face hardens with rage.

INT. JOHNNY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING

 

Teddy opens kitchen drawers. He pulls out a small, razor-sharp paring knife with a white handle. He wraps it in a napkin, slips it in his back pocket.

 

INT. JOHNNY’S BEDROOM - MORNING

 

Standing in the doorway, Teddy surveys Johnny’s messy room in disgust. He spots a black wallet on the dresser.

 

He hurriedly flips through it. It contains a library card with JOHNNY’S NAME AND ADDRESS. Perfect. Teddy puts the wallet in his pocket, then hastily starts opening dresser drawers.

 

He finds handkerchiefs monogrammed with Johnny’s initials, JH. EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - MORNING

Making sure no one is watching, Teddy walks past the dead end sign and enters the woods.

 

EXT. WOODS - MORNING

 

Teddy slows as he walks right up to the thick trees and brush concealing the foxhole. He checks his wristwatch then stuffs it safely back in his dungaree pocket. Taking a calming breath, he parts the branches.

 

 

 

IN THE FOXHOLE

 

Charlie lies spread-eagle on his back. His hands and feet are aligned with four garden stakes that have been driven into the dirt. Pieces of twine are attached. He sits up as Teddy enters.

 

CHARLIE

You’re late. What’s all this for?

TEDDY

Cowboys and Indians. You be the cowboy, I’m the Indian. I captured you and took your gun.

 

CHARLIE

Where’s the gun?

TEDDY

I hid it over there. Let me tie you up, then I’ll get it and pretend I’m torturing you.

 

Charlie looks dubious.

CHARLIE

Can I be the Indian later and hold the gun?

 

TEDDY

Sure.

 

Teddy hops over the mound of dirt into the pit. He ties Charlie’s ankles to the stakes.

 

CHARLIE

Ow, that’s too tight.

TEDDY

Quiet, white man.

Teddy binds one wrist, then the other.

CHARLIE

Not funny. That hurts!

TEDDY

Shut up.

Completely bound, Charlie tries to move, but can’t.

CHARLIE

Get the gun, you stupid redskin.

TEDDY

You’re going to die.

 

 

 

Teddy pulls one of Johnny’s initialed handkerchiefs from his pocket and balls it up.

 

CHARLIE

Where’s the gun? What are-

 

Teddy shoves the handkerchief deep into Charlie’s mouth. Stunned, Charlie strains against the twine, grunting and twisting, but the stakes don’t move.

 

TEDDY

You’re a traitor, Charlie. You made best friends with Johnny. You lied to me.

 

Teddy takes the knife from his back pocket and unwraps it. Charlie’s eyes go wide.

 

TEDDY (CONT’D)

You went to get him this morning when I told you not to tell anyone. Didn’t you. Didn’t you!

 

Charlie shakes his head violently and cries out muffled denials. Teddy raises the razor-sharp knife.

 

TEDDY (CONT'D)

You’re not my friend Charlie. I hate you!

He PLUNGES it down into Charlie’s stomach.

Charlie’s eyes bulge and he emits a MUFFLED SCREAM of agony.

 

Teddy yanks the knife out and Charlie lurches frantically, throwing his body in all directions, but the stakes refuse to budge. The handkerchief muffles his wild screams. Tears flow down his cheeks.

 

TEDDY (CONT’D)

Does that hurt Charlie? Not as much as you hurt me. I HATE YOU!

 

Straddling Charlie’s chest, like he’s riding a bucking bronco, Teddy raises the knife and STABS him again.

 

Charlie goes crazy, thrashing, retching, bleeding and screaming muffled screams, tossing his head violently. Horrifically, Teddy keeps STABBING, again and again, like he’s ripping apart a pillow. Charlie chokes on blood trapped in his gagged mouth.

 

Finally Teddy stops. Charlie is limp. His eyes are rolled up.

TEDDY (CONT'D)

How do you like it now, Charlie?

 

 

 

He thrusts Charlie’s chin back, presses the knife against his throat and slashes it. As a final torrent of BLOOD gushes, Teddy leaps back and drops the knife.

 

Taking Johnny’s wallet from his pocket, he wipes it with the remaining handkerchief and flings it in the puddle of blood rapidly pooling in the pit. Then he dips the clean monogrammed handkerchief in the blood. He crawls out of the foxhole.

 

Teddy stands there, covered in blood, looking faint. As he picks up the shovel, he starts to vomit. He clamps his mouth, holding it in. Steadies himself against a tree. The dizziness passes.

 

He begins shoveling dirt into the hole. EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - MORNING

Teddy peers from behind a tree.

 

TEDDY’S POV. Down the block two ELDERLY MEN chat in a driveway. Otherwise the Sunday morning street is barren. The men walk off.

 

Teddy darts out with the shovel, his t-shirt and dungarees blood- soaked like he‘s come from a slaughterhouse.

 

EXT. JOHNNY’S HOUSE - BACK - MORNING

 

Looking around fearfully, Teddy drops the shovel and enters the back door.

 

INT. JOHNNY’S BEDROOM - MORNING

Teddy tosses the bloodied handkerchief under Johnny’s bed. EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - MORNING

Teddy uses his backyard hose to wash off the shovel. INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - MORNING

Teddy rockets into his room, peels off his bloody clothes, throwing them in a grocery bag.

 

INT. BATHROOM - MORNING

Teddy frantically washes in the tub.

EXT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - BACK - MORNING

 

In clean t-shirt and dungarees, Teddy glances around furtively, flings the grocery bag in a large trash bin behind the church.

 

INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - MORNING

Teddy collapses on his bed. Lies on his back. His heart races.

 

 

 

With concentrated effort, he takes long, deep breaths to calm himself.

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

 

Sunday dinner. Teddy and his parents eat steak, baked potatoes, and string beans at the kitchen table. The telephone RINGS.

 

Teddy stops chewing. Eileen gets up to answer.

TED (O.S.)

I knew Charlie got what he deserved. But no one else would understand. Because no one else knew how bad he betrayed me.

 

Eileen turns from the kitchen wallphone.

EILEEN

Teddy, do you know where Charlie is?

Teddy shakes his head.

INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

Teddy lays on his bed, unable to concentrate on a Sunday night RADIO BROADCAST. The window is open, the curtains flutter. It’s a hot night.

 

TED (O.S.)

I hated liars. And I hated that Charlie made me one.

 

Suddenly SIRENS scream by outside. EXT. STASIA STREET - NIGHT

All the NEIGHBORS are out. They walk in small groups down the middle of the street, whispering and pointing toward the woods...

 

Numerous POLICE CARS are parked at crazy angles, LIGHTS FLASHING, flashlight beams bouncing off trees deep into the woods. Charlie’s parents stand beyond a wooden-horse barricade. COPS are speaking with them. Mrs. Garner is crying hysterically.

 

EXT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - SAME

Teddy and his parents watch from the end of their driveway. An AMBULANCE comes down the street, with no siren.

 

 

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

 

After midnight, but Ed and Eileen Roth and Teddy are still up, pacing, peering out the windows. Activity can still be heard outside.

 

They’re startled by a KNOCK on the door. LATER...

Eileen sits stiffly with a solemn-faced Teddy on the couch. Ed sits in his recliner. They face a middle-aged man in a drab suit holding a pad and pen, DETECTIVE BAXTER. Everyone’s in shock.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I’m told your son was close friends with him. Is that correct?

 

EILEEN

(stunned)

They were best friends.

 

Detective Baxter looks at Teddy and adopts a kind, sympathetic expression.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

What’s your name, son?

Teddy is pale. His voice weak.

TEDDY

Teddy.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

When was the last time you saw Charlie?

TEDDY

This morning.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Where was that?

TEDDY

We had nine o’clock Mass.

Baxter scrawls notes as they speak.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Where did he go after that?

TEDDY

I don’t know. He said he was meeting Johnny in the woods.

 

 

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Johnny Henderson?

TEDDY

Yes, sir.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

How come you didn’t go with them?

Teddy shuffles his feet and looks down. He seems about to cry.

DETECTIVE BAXTER (CONT’D)

Son, how come you didn’t go with them?

TEDDY

(softly)

‘Cause they were doing bad things.

The adults share a look.

EILEEN

What bad things, Teddy?

Teddy keeps looking at the floor.

ED

Answer your mother.

TEDDY

I can’t!

Teddy leaps off the couch and runs up the stairs. INT. UPSTAIRS - MOMENTS LATER

Crouching near the railing, Teddy listens, out of view.

DETECTIVE BAXTER (O.S.)

Don’t press him any more tonight. I’d like to come back first thing in the morning and question him again. I’d like you both present. Is that all right?

 

A surge of real panic washes over Teddy. This is no game. EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - MORNING

Two police cars remain parked by the dead end sign. A roadblock and roped barricades mark the crime scene. DETECTIVES search the woods.

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - SAME

 

Sitting at the kitchen table, Teddy wears a fixed expression. His mother sets a cup of coffee before Detective Baxter.

 

 

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I wish Teddy’s father could’ve joined us, Mrs. Roth.

 

EILEEN

Yes, well. He had to work.

She joins them at the table. Baxter nods, toying with his pen.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Teddy, you mentioned last night that Charlie and Johnny were doing bad things. Can you tell me what you meant by that?

 

Teddy looks down at the table.

EILEEN

Teddy, it’s all right to tell Detective Baxter. He’s just trying to help.

 

CLOSE ON TEDDY. Head bowed, he stares intensely without blinking. We realize he’s forcing his eyes to water.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

(gently)

Son, I’m very sorry about Charlie. But I need your help to find out... who did it.

 

TEDDY

(a whisper) Johnny did it.

 

Baxter nearly spits up his coffee.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

What did you say?

TEDDY

(looks up, eyes wet) Johnny did it.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Did you see Johnny kill Charlie?

TEDDY

No, but I know he did it.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

How do you know, Teddy? (hard)

Son?

Teddy turns beet red.

 

 

 

TEDDY

I saw Johnny and Charlie make their... jiggers get big.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Jiggers, what’s that?

Teddy points down at his crotch. Eileen stiffens.

DETECTIVE BAXTER (CONT'D)

What were they doing?

TEDDY

(humiliated)

They were... pulling on their jiggers. Then... white stuff came out of Johnny’s jigger. I thought he was hurt but then he grabbed Charlie’s jigger and Charlie yelled and tried to stop him. Johnny had a scary look on his face and kept grabbing Charlie then he started punching him.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Then what happened?

TEDDY

I yanked Johnny away. He pulled up his pants and ran. Then he turned around and hollered he’d get both of us.

 

The detective scribbles in his pad.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Go on.

TEDDY

I asked Charlie if he was okay. He said yes but he was crying. I didn’t know what to do. So I came home.

 

EILEEN

I knew something was wrong.

Baxter looks at her for an explanation.

EILEEN (CONT'D)

Teddy came home early Saturday and spent the rest of the day in his room. Why, goodness, he and Charlie usually spend-- spent-- every waking moment together.

 

Baxter peers back at Teddy.

 

 

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Son, you ever see Johnny with a knife?

TEDDY

Sometimes. He called it a special weapon knife. Charlie and I knew it was just a kitchen knife but we never told him.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Why not?

TEDDY

‘Cause. Sometimes he acted weird.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Weird how?

TEDDY

Sometimes he’d say if we didn’t do what he wanted, he’d cut us.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Did he ever cut you?

TEDDY

No, mostly we just agreed with him.

Baxter pauses, flips through his pages.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

You said the last time you saw Charlie was nine’o’clock yesterday morning.

 

TEDDY

Yes, sir.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

You said he told you he was going to play with Johnny.

 

TEDDY

Yes, sir.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

(leans toward Teddy)

Tell me, Teddy. After what Johnny did, why would Charlie want to play with him the next day?

 

Beat. Teddy’s mind races.

TEDDY

He told me Johnny called and said he was sorry.

(MORE)

 

TEDDY (CONT'D)

He still thought Johnny was pretty neat. I guess he decided to forget what happened.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Why didn’t you go with them?

TEDDY

(beat)

I didn’t forget what happened.

Baxter pauses. He stands.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I think that’s all for now... by the way, Mrs. Roth, while we’re waiting for prints, we may need to fingerprint your son.

 

Teddy goes ashen. Eileen flies to her feet outraged.

EILEEN

You’re not suggesting Teddy is a-

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Of course not. We merely need his prints for an elimination set.

(reassuringly)

To eliminate them from the evidence.

Teddy peers at Baxter and knows he’s lying.

DETECTIVE BAXTER (CONT'D)

Have a good day.

EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - EVENING

 

A single PATROL CAR is now parked by the roadblock and roped barricades. No activity.

 

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - SAME

Teddy eats dinner with his parents. They eat silently.

 

ANGLE. On the kitchen counter the local newspaper proclaims “ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY SLAIN IN TEANECK”.

 

INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

 

Teddy lies wide awake. Brow furrowed, chewing his lip, replaying everything in his head.

 

EXT. STASIA STREET - MORNING

A POLICE CAR is parked in Johnny’s driveway.

 

 

 

INT. JOHNNY’S BEDROOM - SAME

 

Two COPS look on as, with the tip of a pen, Baxter lifts the blood-soaked monogrammed handkerchief out from under the bed.

 

In the doorway, MR. AND MRS. HENDERSON are speechless. Johnny starts to protest vehemently.

 

INT. POLICE STATION - DAY

 

It’s 1955 so we see typewriters, cigarette smoke. Teddy sits at a table with Baxter and the two cops looking at photographs. A STENOGRAPHER types their conversation. Nearby his mother watches, nervous and embarrassed.

 

CLOSE ON PHOTOS. Close-ups of the monogram on Johnny’s handkerchief. Photos of various knives. One is a kitchen knife with the same white handle as the one he used, obviously from the Henderson’s matching set. Teddy touches it.

 

TEDDY

Johnny’s had a handle like this.

Baxter and the cops share a look.

INT. TEDDY’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

 

Teddy sits between his parents on the couch, illuminated in the glow of their black & white TV. A stereotypical ‘50s family. A long moment passes.

 

TEDDY

(hesitates)

Did they think it was Johnny?

EILEEN

(sighs)

It looks that way.

Ed frowns and opens a newspaper.

ED

Better get up to bed now.

TEDDY

I hate him!

INT. TEDDY’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

Laying in bed, Teddy can hear his parents talking downstairs. He can hear his mother sobbing. Solemnly, he crosses his heart.

 

 

 

 

TEDDY

I’ll never have a best friend. Ever.

 

 

EXT. STASIA STREET / JOHNNY’S HOUSE - DAY

 

 

 

DISSOLVE TO:

 

 

Johnny’s house now has a FOR SALE sign in the front yard.

SOLARIZATION

 

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - CONT’D

 

We’re back in the white bedroom. Ted Roth, coated in sweat, speaks hoarsely into his tape recorder.

 

TED

Sometimes, I feel bad how Charlie’s parents must have suffered for how their son betrayed me.

(bile rising in anger)

But it’s their own fault for raising such a rotten fuck.

 

His body convulses, then shivers. The sheets are now completely blood-soaked from his bandaged abdominal wound. His life ebbing, Ted weakly rests the tape recorder on his chest and continues.

 

EXT. WOODS - 1956 - DAY

Teddy walks through the woods.

TED (O.S.)

They say the first cut is the deepest. All I know is... I’ve never shed a tear since. Not once. Ever.

 

He stops at the site of the former secret place and gazes at it, reflecting. Charlie’s deathbed is completely grown over.

 

DISSOLVE TO:

 

EXT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - 1960 - MORNING

 

STUDENTS group in cliques on the front steps of a mid-sized suburban high school. Jocks, cheerleaders. Toughs, easy girls.

 

TED, now an average-looking TEENAGER, approaches the entrance alone. He ignores everyone. Everyone ignores him.

 

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - CLASSROOM - MORNING

Ted listens attentively in class.

 

SOLARIZATION

 

 

 

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - CONT’D

Ted continues without expression.

TED

Several years passed before I killed again. She was sixteen, and she got what she deserved.

 

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - GYM - 1960 - NIGHT An excited CROWD CHEERS a BASKETBALL GAME.

ANGLE ON SCOREBOARD: TEANECK: 86; HACKENSACK: 87. The clock is

running down with only :07 left... :06... :05...

 

A TEANECK PLAYER takes a desperate outside shot. The ball bounces off the backboard and careens toward the foul line.

 

BOOS and shouts of anger from the bleachers.

 

Suddenly in SLOW-MOTION a tall, blond player flies in midair toward the basket, legs split wide, right arm raised skyward. He palms the ricocheting ball and in one sweeping motion SLAMS it through the hoop in a perfect slam-dunk straight out of the NBA.

 

The crowd explodes out of their seats CHEERING and SCREAMING wildly!

 

The extremely handsome hero, FRANKIE BATES, is hoisted on the shoulders of his ecstatic teammates.

 

The crowd runs down and Frankie is literally besieged by MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

 

ANGLE. Ted claps alone, surrounded by strangers. INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - HALL - MORNING

GIRLS crowd around Frankie at his locker. INT. BOY’S LOCKER ROOM - MORNING

GUYS mob Frankie, smacking him on the back, clowning around, pushing, shoving, reenacting his shot like they had slam-dunked the ball themselves. Frankie quietly smiles as they chatter.

 

FRANKIE

(finally)

Listen. I gotta get dressed. See you guys in the gym.

 

The guys get the message and file back to their lockers, giving Frankie a final slap on the back or punch in the arm.

 

 

 

Frankie notices Ted sitting alone on the other end of the bench. Ted gives a shy thumbs up.

 

TED

Nice game.

Frankie starts to change into his gym clothes.

FRANKIE

Thanks. Haven’t seen you around. You new?

TED

Nah. I just changed schedule.

FRANKIE

What’s your name?

TED

Ted. Uh, Roth.

FRANKIE

(looks at him)

You’re the only guy didn’t mob me, Roth.

TED

Sorry. I didn’t want to-

FRANKIE

You kidding? I should thank you.

Frankie smiles, nods, and continues getting ready for class. INT. HIGH SCHOOL GYM - MORNING

The BOY’S GYM CLASS is assembled around COACH PORTER who has posed Frankie beside him, lauding his heroic achievement.

 

COACH PORTER

... not only demonstrates the value of sports, but he’s a prime example of exemplary citizenship in our crime-ridden society. Congratulations, Bates.

 

The boys applaud, CHEER and WHISTLE.

COACH PORTER (CONT'D)

Okay, settle down. It’s raining, so we’ll have indoor touch football today. Woods, get up here, you and Bates are captains.

 

A large boy, WOODS, runs up and joins Frankie. ANGLE ON the outer fringes, where Ted stands, humiliated by this popularity contest. He’s always the last picked.

 

 

 

COACH PORTER (CONT'D)

Pick teams. Bates, you first.

FRANKIE

(looks around) Roth.

 

Beat. Everyone turns and looks at Ted, who doesn’t move.

FRANKIE (CONT’D)

Ted, you’re on my team.

 

LATER...

 

Sneakers pound the gym floor as they play touch football. Ted follows along awkwardly, ignored. Frankie, nudging his fellow teammates, suddenly throws the ball at him.

 

It hits Ted in the face.

 

Everyone turns and laughs, high-fiving Frankie. Coach Porter guffaws.

 

Ted stands there holding his bleeding nose, betrayed...

FRANKIE (O.S.)

Roth... Roth!

BACK TO REALITY:

 

Ted, his face dark, snaps out of his fearful fantasy. He looks at Frankie in the center of the huddle.

 

FRANKIE (CONT’D)

Listen up. You cut to center court, then go long.

 

 

 

Okay.

 

On three.

 

TED FRANKIE

 

The boys break huddle and take their positions. Ted moves wide to the right, assumes his starting pose. He braces himself, trying to look confident. Fear and mistrust shadow his face. A HUSKY BOY is right on top of him.

 

FRANKIE (CONT’D) HUT, HUT, HUT!

 

On the third “Hut!” Ted stutter steps to the right. The husky boy takes the fake and Ted sprints forward, tearing straight toward center court.

 

 

 

Immediately another BOY is on him, matching him stride for stride.

 

Ted is fast and nimble. Suddenly he plants his left foot hard on the gym floor and changes direction, tearing straight for the backboard at the far end of the court. Now he’s wide open.

 

Ten feet from the hoop, Ted turns and his eyes go wide-- the spiraling FOOTBALL torpedoes straight at him, about two feet higher than he can possibly leap.

 

Still running, Ted launches himself into the air. Eyes focused, arms outstretched, he snatches the ball out of the air--

 

And falls hard to the gym floor. Beat.

Curled in a fetal position, cradling the ball to his chest, Ted looks up to see his teammates gathered around making a ruckus. Frankie extends his hand and pulls him up.

 

FRANKIE (CONT’D)

Nice catch, Roth. Where you been all my life?

 

Awestruck, Ted grins.

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - HALL - DAY

 

As Ted takes books from his locker, someone slaps his shoulder and he turns. It’s Frankie and his JOCK BUDDIES.

 

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - CAFETERIA - DAY

 

Ted, a little overwhelmed, sits with Frankie and the jocks at the lunch table. KIDS at other tables are impressed.

 

INT. A JOCK’S HOUSE - NIGHT

A happening TEENAGE party. MUSIC. Beer. Popular kids.

 

Ted hangs out with Frankie. Pretty GIRLS approach them. Ted’s awkwardness lends him a certain charm.

 

EXT. BASKETBALL COURT - DAY

 

Frankie practices with Ted. Just the two of them. Frankie demonstrates a dribble and pass, throws the ball to Ted. Ted duplicates the move, whirls, shoots. The ball whooshes through.

 

FRANKIE

(catching the rebound)

Nice. You gotta try out next year.

 

 

 

TED

I don’t know.

FRANKIE

What d’you mean you don’t know! You make the rest of the team look like girls.

 

Frankie hotshot dribbles between his legs, shoots a basket.

FRANKIE (CONT'D)

By the way. I set us up. Tomorrow afternoon.

 

He catches the rebound, throws it at Ted.

FRANKIE (CONT’D)

These chicks definitely put out.

Ted gapes, misses the ball. INT. MOVIE THEATER - DAY

In a dark back row, Frankie and Ted sit with two not particularly pretty dates, PAMELA and MARGIE. The movie theater is half empty, no one is near them. Frankie’s arm is around Pamela. His hand squeezes her breast.

 

Ted looks away, embarrassed. After a moment he awkwardly puts his arm around Margie, imitating Frankie. She immediately snuggles into him. Uncertainly, Ted glances back at Frankie.

 

Frankie slips his hand under Pamela’s sweater. Her hand crawls down inside his pants.

 

Ted sits back, terrified. Margie looks at him with mock sad eyes, like she isn’t getting her fair share.

 

Ted clumsily leans over and kisses her on the lips. Kissing him back aggressively, she places his hand over her boob. She reaches down into his lap. Instinctively, Ted pulls away.

 

MARGIE

(whispers)

Whatsa matter, you never done this before?

 

TED

Sure I have.

 

Ted hesitates, then begins fondling her breast. Margie unbuckles his belt, unzips his pants. Ted, in disbelief and growing ecstasy, looks nervously around to see if anyone can see.

 

 

 

INT. FRANKIE’S THUNDERBIRD - LATER

Frankie and Ted get in Frankie’s four-seat Ford T-Bird.

FRANKIE

Well, how was she?

Frankie starts the motor.

TED

(dazed)

Man, she... really likes me.

Frankie bursts out laughing.

TED (CONT’D)

What?

FRANKIE

You’re kidding, right? You know they’re sluts.

 

At a loss, Ted shrugs and forces a laugh. EXT. BASKETBALL COURT - DAY

Frankie and Ted shoot hoops. Ted appears to have acquired as much skill as Frankie. They both make every basket.

 

TOUGH #1 (O.S.)

Hear you Jersey dudes think you’re badass.

 

Ted and Frankie look up. Two older TOUGHS lean against the chain fence.

 

FRANKIE

We’re okay.

Tough #2 displays a twenty dollar bill.

TOUGH #2

Can you babies afford it?

Frankie and Ted look at each other. LATER...

The TWENTY and TWO TENS lay on the pavement. Frankie and Ted play the toughs two-on-two.

 

 

 

The toughs are good. They play rough. But Frankie and Ted are a tight team, blocking almost every shot, passing the ball to each other and sinking hoops. Frankie and Ted are just a little better.

 

LATER...

 

Out of breath, Frankie and Ted high-five in victory. They face their opponents to shake hands but the toughs refuse, pissed. Tough #2 snatches his twenty, puts it in his pocket.

 

FRANKIE

What are you doin’?

The toughs start to walk off.

FRANKIE (CONT’D)

Come on. Pay up.

TOUGH #1

Fuck off.

FRANKIE

Hey. Asshole.

(irked)

Who’s the baby now?

 

Without warning Tough #1 spins around and punches Frankie in the face, knocking him hard to the pavement.

 

Tough #2 blindly rushes Ted. Ted darts aside and, in a burst of fierce anger SLAMS his fist up into the guy’s face. The guy falls to the ground.

 

Ted looks astonished. He turns to see Tough #1 kicking the shit out of Frankie laying on the pavement.

 

CLOSE ON TED’S FACE as dark anger spreads. He runs like a bull and TACKLES the guy hard, knocking the wind out of him. The guy falls to the pavement gasping.

 

Ted kneels over Frankie, who is moaning.

TED

Frankie, are you--

FRANKIE

Look out!

 

Ted whirls. Right behind him Tough #2 is back on his feet, mouth bleeding. He snaps open a SWITCHBLADE. Heedless with fury, Ted leaps on him, catching him by surprise. They wrestle for the switchblade and fall hard to the pavement.

 

 

 

Straddling him, Ted wrenches the knife from his hand and, maddened with animal rage, tries to stab him in the face but the guy defensively throws his hand up and the knife glances off and plunges deep into his shoulder. He CRIES OUT in pain.

 

Tough #1, seeing this, gets up and flees.

 

Ted brutally twists the knife from the guy’s shoulder, making him SCREAM in agony. Ted glares down at him.

 

TED

You want more, fucker?

 

The guy scrambles out from under Ted and, clutching his bleeding shoulder, takes off after his buddy.

 

LOCALS, who have gathered at the fence, stare in amazement. INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - HALL - DAY

Down the hall, Ted walks beside a bruised and battered Frankie. CLASSMATES nearly bow with respect.

EXT. PARKING LOT HANGOUT - NIGHT

 

Establishing. A parking lot behind a row of stores serves as a local high school hangout. Dozens of HIGH SCHOOL KIDS congregate in groups around their cars. Drinking, smoking, horsing around to 1960 ROCK’N’ROLL.

 

TED (O.S.)

It was at the end of my junior year when I met Jamie Carver.

 

An empty parking space is reserved by the jocks. Frankie’s T- bird pulls in.

 

INSERT TITLE CARD: “MY GIRLFRIEND” INT. FRANKIE’S THUNDERBIRD - SAME

Frankie turns the engine off and looks over at Ted. Ted is gaping out the window...

 

TED’S POV... at JAMIE CARVER, the most achingly beautiful girl in school. She has a flawless complexion, and perfect curves. In SLOW MOTION Jamie turns and gazes softly right into our eyes, and melts us with an unimaginably warm inviting smile.

 

FRANKIE (O.S.)

Down, boy. Strictly untouchable.

 

 

 

EXT. PARKING LOT HANGOUT - MOMENTS LATER

 

Frankie and Ted drink beer with their jock friends. Ted keeps glancing in Jamie’s direction.

 

JACK

Give my left nut just to bang her once.

They laugh.

 

TONY

You’d have to cut off both, and your dick for that pussy.

 

FRANKIE

You nosebleeds are wastin’ your breath. She hasn’t gone out with anyone since she moved here.

 

TONY

(grabs his crotch)

‘Cause she needs a real man, not you candyasses.

 

They punch and shove each other, as they laugh and ogle Jamie nearby. Ted is disgusted, but hides it.

 

KEVIN

Maybe she’s a lezbo.

TONY

No way. God don’t make lezbos that look like that.

 

JACK

Please God, let me fuck her just once.

KEVIN

Then you’d have to kill yourself. ‘Cause it‘d all be downhill from there.

 

JACK

It’d be worth it, though.

FRANKIE

(suddenly hisses) Shut up.

 

One of Jamie’s girlfriends, ROSE, is walking towards them. She paces straight up to Frankie.

 

ROSE

Can I see you a sec?

The guys share a look.

 

 

 

INT. FRANKIE’S THUNDERBIRD - MOVING - NIGHT

Frankie is subdued as he drives Ted home.

FRANKIE

 

Ted. What?

 

TED FRANKIE

 

(pause)

She didn’t really wanna know if we‘d help decorate the gym for the dance next week.

 

Ted looks at him.

 

FRANKIE (CONT'D)

She wants to go out with you.

TED

 

Rose? Jamie. Ha ha.

 

FRANKIE TED FRANKIE

 

I’m not kidding. Rose wanted to see if you’d ask Jamie to the dance.

Ted stares blankly.

 

FRANKIE (CONT'D)

You son of a bitch. I can’t believe it. Of all the guys in school, she picks you. I even told Rose you had a little dick.

 

TED

(turns away) Right.

 

FRANKIE

Ted, she wants to go out with you. No shit.

 

TED

You didn’t really say that.

FRANKIE

‘Course I did.

Frankie grins. But Ted doesn’t hear. He stares, overwhelmed.

 

 

 

TED

Why would Jamie Carver want to...

FRANKIE

How the hell should I know? You can’t explain chicks. All I know is you’re one lucky stiff. And that’s what it’s gonna be, stiff. So you gonna ask her to the dance?

 

Ted looks out the window.

TED

I don’t know.

FRANKIE

What the hell d’you mean you don’t know?

TED

I don’t have a car.

FRANKIE

Ride with me and Joan.

TED

You’re still seeing her?

FRANKIE

No, but I’ll make a sacrifice for your sorry ass. Jesus, Ted, what the hell’s wrong with you?

 

INT. TED’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

 

Ed and Eileen Roth, four years older, sit on the couch bathed in the glow of the same black & white TV.

 

INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - SAME

Ted sits at the kitchen table staring at the wallphone. LATER...

Ted still stares at the wallphone, now with an open telephone directory and a page of scrawled notes before him. His notes say “Be polite” “Speak with confidence” “Make her laugh” etc.

 

He stands abruptly. He goes to the phone, picks up the receiver and slowly rotary dials. The phone rings. Ted hangs up.

 

TED

Idiot.

He takes a breath. Dials again. It rings again.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello?

 

JAMIE (O.S.)

 

TED

 

(knowing it’s her) Hello, is Jamie there?

 

He hits his forehead. What a dope.

JAMIE (O.S.)

Speaking.

TED

Hi Jamie, this is, uh, Ted, Ted Roth.

JAMIE (O.S.)

Oh, hi.

TED

Ah, how are you?

JAMIE (O.S.)

I’m fine.

Beads of sweat appear on Ted’s forehead. His mouth is parched.

TED

(blushing)

Ah... was wondering if you’d like to go, um, Saturday... To-to the dance. I mean, next week--

 

JAMIE

Sure, Ted. I’d love to.

TED

You would?

JAMIE (O.S.)

Yes. What time do you want to pick me up?

TED

What time does it start?

He cringes.

 

JAMIE (O.S.)

Eight o’clock.

TED

How about, um, seven-thirty? I mean, if that’s alright.

 

JAMIE (O.S.)

That would be fine.

 

 

 

TED

Okay, see you then.

 

Ted promptly replaces the receiver. With a painful grimace he realizes he’s just hung up on her.

 

Then, taking a big glorious breath, his face lights with joy. INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - BOYS’ LOCKER ROOM - DAY

Guys get dressed for gym class. Ted is the center of attention.

JACK

Grab a feel for me!

Jack raucously grabs his ass. Tony snaps him with his towel.

TONY

You’re too ugly to be so lucky.

Frankie watches, shakes his head.

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - CLASSROOM - DAY

 

Ted takes an exam. Glancing up he sees Jamie across the room. She smiles.

 

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - CAFETERIA - DAY

 

At the jock table Ted eats spaghetti, trying to ignore the continued merciless ribbing.

 

JACK

(lovestruck falsetto)

Oh Ted, bang me, bang me now.

KEVIN

I bet she Frenchs.

JACK

No way. Two bucks.

Beat. Ted realizes they’ve gone abruptly silent.

JAMIE (O.S.)

Ted?

 

He looks up, spaghetti hanging from his mouth, to see Jamie standing there like a goddess, her powder blue sweater accentuating magnificent breasts. He quickly averts his eyes, wipes his face.

 

TED

Hi.

 

 

 

JAMIE

Are we all set for tomorrow night?

TED

Yeah. Sure. Uh, Frankie’s driving. You know. We’ll pick you up around seven- thirty.

 

JAMIE

Great, see you then.

 

She smiles and walks away, leaving a table of spellbound raging hormones staring at her gyrating skirt all the way to the door.

 

FRANKIE

God damn, Ted.

 

Instantly, balled up napkins, butter paddies, straws and other harmless debris are launched at Ted. He jumps back to avoid the flurry of objects.

 

He doesn’t mind. He’s on top of the world.

TED (O.S.)

If I had only been smart enough to see the signs.

 

SOLARIZATION

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - CONT’D

 

Ted Roth’s trembling hand gently presses the tepid, soggy bandage covering the wound that’s absorbing his life.

 

TED

After seven years, it finally started to happen. I finally fit in. What was normal for everyone else, was heaven for me.

 

He coughs, wincing in pain. Blood flecks the tape recorder.

TED (CONT'D)

But what Jamie Carver did to me, ruthlessly short-circuited everything.

 

EXT. TED’S HOUSE - 1960 - NIGHT

 

Ted, awkward in a suit, carrying flowers, hurries down his driveway.

 

TED (O.S.)

I didn’t plan what happened. But Jamie did. And because of that she deserved every bit of what she got.

 

 

 

He jumps in the backseat of Frankie’s waiting car. Frankie and his date JOAN sit in front.

 

TED (O.S.) (CONT'D)

All I was guilty of was being a fool.

EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - NIGHT

 

Ted hastily approaches Jamie’s front door, wiping perspiration from his face. He smooths his hair, brushes off his jacket and arranges his flowers. As he reaches for the bell the door opens.

 

Jamie stands there. She is stunning. Her soft pink gown reveals a hint of perfect, delicious cleavage. She smiles demurely, her lips sensuous, her eyes deep liquid pools.

 

Ted is speechless.

INT. HIGH SCHOOL GYM - NIGHT

A HIGH SCHOOL DANCE. A ROCK’N’ROLL BAND croons a SLOW SONG as

dozens of COUPLES sway romantically to it. The gym is decorated with crepe paper and banners.

 

Ted, in bliss, slow dances with Jamie. He holds her not too tight, a perfect gentleman. They smile shyly at each other. GUYS watch enviously over their girls’ shoulders.

 

Frankie and Joan dance nearby. Frankie winks. EXT. BURGER JOINT PARKING LOT - NIGHT

After the dance, kids hang out. Frankie’s car is parked here. INT. FRANKIE’S THUNDERBIRD - SAME

Frankie and Joan are in the front seat, Ted and Jamie in the back, eating ice cream sundaes, drinking cokes. Ted is starting to relax. Jamie sticks a cherry on his nose, laughs at his expression. This is a perfect date.

 

EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - NIGHT

Ted walks Jamie slowly up her driveway. It’s quiet. Crickets.

JAMIE

(hushed)

Let’s go around back. I don’t want to wake my parents.

 

Ted nods, and they drift in the dark around to the back porch. Jamie turns to him.

 

JAMIE (CONT’D)

I had a great time tonight.

 

 

 

TED

(lovestruck) I did too.

 

Jamie gazes into his eyes. In the moonlight her eyes sparkle and her hair shimmers. She waits.

 

JAMIE

Well.

 

Ted hesitates. He swallows, licks his lips. Awkwardly, he reaches out and shakes her hand.

 

TED

Goodnight.

 

He holds her hand for an extra moment, then spins away and retreats down the driveway.

 

EXT. STASIA STREET / TED’S HOUSE - NEXT MORNING

Sunny blue sky. BIRDS sing. INT. TED’S BEDROOM - SAME

Ted wakes up and stretches. He thinks about Jamie and smiles dreamily. He’s in love.

 

INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING

Still in his pajamas, Ted dials the rotary phone.

TED

Hello, Jamie?

EXT. TED’S HOUSE - NIGHT

 

Ted waits eagerly at the end of his driveway as Frankie pulls up. Ted looks in the car, confused.

 

TED

Where’s Joan?

FRANKIE

(shrugs)

I’ve had enough of her.

TED

I thought we were doubledating.

FRANKIE

The three of us can hang out. I was only seeing Joan for your sake, you know. You don’t mind, do you?

 

 

 

TED

I guess not.

INT. BURGER JOINT - NIGHT

 

Ted, Jamie and Frankie sit in a booth drinking root beer, talking amiably together, having a great time. After a moment Jamie excuses herself and walks to the ladies’ room.

 

FRANKIE

(to Ted)

So... you get a little yet?

TED

(offended)

Cool it. She’s not like that.

 

Frankie laughs. Nearby, a boothful of horny GUYS ogle Jamie’s curves as she goes.

 

FRANKIE

You got the hottest chick in school. How does it feel?

 

TED

It feels great.

FRANKIE

(grins) Asshole.

 

Frankie glances over at the guys in the booth and gives them the finger, without Ted seeing.

 

EXT. GARDEN STATE PARKWAY - DAY

A caravan of TEENAGER-FILLED CARS zooms down the highway.

GROUP OF TEENAGERS (O.S.)

(scream)

SUMMER VACATION! Whooooo!

EXT. BEACH - DAY

 

A summer vacation BEACH PARTY. Along a secluded beach kids in bathing suits swim, play badminton, drink beer. Tending the barbecue, Frankie (and his latest GIRL) chat with Ted and Jamie.

 

FRANKIE

Two months of freedom!

 

He high-fives Ted, then Jamie, who’s an incredible knockout in a coral white one-piece bathing suit. Other guys can’t keep their eyes off her. Their girls are jealous. Ted stays close by her side.

 

 

 

LATER...

 

The sun is low. Ted and Jamie lie together on a blanket. Jamie leans up on her elbows and reaches for suntan lotion.

 

JAMIE

Would you mind?

 

TED’S POV. Her elbows are close together and the gaping front of her swimsuit reveals her breasts. He can see her nipples.

 

Their eyes meet.

INT. FRANKIE’S THUNDERBIRD - MOVING - NIGHT

 

The RADIO PLAYS as Frankie drives home, his date snoozing beside him. He opens the window to stay awake.

 

IN THE BACK SEAT

 

Jamie shivers in her bathing suit. Ted wraps a blanket around her. They look at each other. Jamie slowly grins... then lifts the blanket and playfully covers their heads.

 

UNDER THE BLANKET

Their faces are inches apart in the cozy dark. Beat.

Then Jamie kisses Ted with sudden passion. Ted, stunned, wraps his arms around her and kisses her back. And floodgates burst.

 

Pressing their mouths together, concealed beneath the blanket, Jamie slides the straps off her shoulders and pulls her suit down revealing her breasts.

 

Ted stares. Elated, he cups her breasts like precious jewels.

 

Jamie bites her lip as he leans forward and gradually circles his tongue around her nipples. Unable to hold back he kisses and sucks them hungrily. The RADIO drowns any sound.

 

Reckless with desire, Jamie reaches into the waistband of his swimming trunks. Ted yanks them down while Jamie frantically peels her own suit down as she strokes him. Ted’s hand moves between her legs. Jamie gasps.

 

Breathlessly they stroke and rub each other as... EXT. GARDEN STATE PARKWAY - SAME

... Frankie’s car zooms past, RADIO PLAYING. His red TAILLIGHTS disappear down the highway.

 

 

 

EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - BACK - NIGHT

 

Later, in the silent darkness by the back steps, Ted and Jamie passionately kiss goodnight.

 

TED

(finally)

I better go. Frankie’s waiting. Today was...

(searches for the words)

... the best day of my life.

JAMIE

Oh Ted...

Ted takes her face in his hands and kisses her sweetly.

TED

I’ll call tomorrow.

He starts walking away. Stops. Turns back.

TED (CONT'D)

(whispers) Jamie... I love you.

 

 

Pause.

 

 

JAMIE

(whispers) I love you, too.

 

 

She runs up the stairs and disappears into the house.

 

Ted stands in awe. Frankie’s CAR HORN breaks the moment, and Ted rushes away.

 

EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - DAY

It’s now the middle of summer. INT. JAMIE’S BEDROOM - SAME

Ted and Jamie lie naked on her four-poster bed amid her girlish stuffed animals, kissing, groping, writhing with heated passion.

 

Unable to control his hormones, Ted climbs on top of her. Jamie gently pushes him back.

 

JAMIE

You agreed. Not ’til our honeymoon.

TED

I know. I’m sorry.

 

 

 

He picks up a teddy bear and makes it ‘kiss’ her apologetically. Instead, Jamie takes his hand and presses it between her legs.

 

TED (CONT'D)

We can get married soon as we graduate.

JAMIE

(arousing herself) Yes...

 

TED

I’ll work nights and go to Fairleigh Dickinson during the day. Soon as you become a stewardess we’ll be able to afford an apartment.

 

Rubbing herself with his hand, Jamie moans hungrily, torrid with stimulation. Ted gushes with heartfelt emotion.

 

TED (CONT'D)

Oh, I love you so much, Jamie. I never thought this would happen to me.

 

JAMIE

(breathless)

Love you too. Want to be together always.

TED

When should we tell our folks? When do your parents get back from vacation?

 

JAMIE

(lustily)

I don’t know. Don’t stop.

EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - BACK - EVENING

 

Later, lingering at the back door, Ted holds Jamie tight and gives her a long, passionate goodbye kiss. Jamie breaks it.

 

JAMIE

I forgot. My aunt Harriet’s coming tomorrow to check up while my parents are away. She might stay overnight... I’m not sure I’ll be able to see you.

 

Ted’s face drops, dejected. EXT. STREET - EVENING

Ted walks home, trying not to be depressed.

JAMIE (O.S.)

I’m sorry. I’ll call you.

 

 

 

INT. TED’S BEDROOM - NEXT MORNING

Ted lies awake, not wanting to get out of bed. INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

Ted sits at the kitchen table staring at the wallphone. INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

Ted turns on the TV and plops on the couch listlessly. INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Ted starts to dial the phone, frowns, hangs up. INT. KITCHEN - EVENING

Ted eats dinner with his parents, keeping one eye on the phone. INT. TED’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Ted lies in bed. Sweating, it’s hot. He listens for the phone. Only CRICKETS outside his open window.

 

INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

 

He can’t stand it anymore. Careful not to wake his parents, Ted dials the phone. It rings. Rings again. Again. Ted looks worried.

 

EXT. TED’S HOUSE - NIGHT

Anxious, he creeps out the front door. EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - NIGHT

It’s a dark night with no moon. A milky-white glow comes from Jamie’s BEDROOM WINDOW. Her white curtains are drawn and billow slightly in the breeze.

 

Ted, propped against a tree, stares up. He can hear a RADIO playing in her room. He smiles with relief. That’s why she didn’t hear the phone.

 

He starts to walks around the side of the house. But he sees a car parked in the blackness by the back steps.

 

TED

Shit. Aunt Harriet.

Ted starts to turn around. Beat. He looks back.

 

 

 

It’s Frankie’s Thunderbird.

INT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - DOWNSTAIRS - SAME

 

From upstairs the RADIO plays “SWING ON A STAR”... “Would you like to swing on a star? Carry moonbeams home in a jar?”...

 

Ted bursts in.

INT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - STAIRS/UPSTAIRS - CONTINUOUS

 

He bounds up the stairs. He turns the corner at the top landing and slows.

 

Jamie’s bedroom door is cracked open. Mixed with the song (“... or would you rather be a pig?”) are familiar MOANS of pleasure. Coming from Jamie.

 

Ted stands there. Silently he creeps forward. Looking sick, he peers through the partially open door.

 

TED’S POV. Frankie and Jamie are having wild, sweaty sex on her four-poster bed. Jamie’s hips are propped up on pillows, her legs draped over Frankie’s sweat-soaked shoulders as he stands at the foot of the bed clenching the posts on either side.

 

He thrusts into her over and over. Her stuffed animals have been knocked to the floor.

 

JAMIE

Oh Frankie, Frankie! Don’t stop!

 

Jamie screams in voracious ecstasy at each powerful thrust. She twists and squirms in sheer rapture, her toes clenched like fists. She’s a lustful animal. They are both drenched.

 

Ted reels back, weak and dizzy. He stumbles to the far wall, and slides to the floor. (”... carry moonbeams home in a jar?”)

 

JAMIE (O.S.) (CONT'D)

Faster Frankie, fuck me, fuck me!

Ted sits there. His face darkens.

JAMIE (O.S.) (CONT'D)

Ohhh, that’s it. Don’t stop! Harder. You’re so big, Frankie. I love you.

 

Ted leaps to his feet. EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - NIGHT

He races outside to Frankie’s car.

 

 

 

TED (O.S.)

I never regretted what I did. Jamie deserved what she got and so did her ‘friend’.

 

He yanks open the driver’s door, pulls a BASEBALL BAT from beneath the seat.

 

INT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - CONT’D

He runs in and hastily tears off his clothes.

TED (O.S.)

It was her own cruel, premeditative heartlessness that caused her existence to cease. I trusted her.

 

INT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - STAIRS/UPSTAIRS - CONTINUOUS

Completely naked, Ted bolts up the stairs, bat in hand. INT. JAMIE’S BEDROOM - CONT’D

The RADIO blasts ”You could be better than you are... You could be swingin’ on a star...” as Jamie weeps breathless groans, her outstretched arms viciously clutching the sheets. Frankie moans louder as his paces escalates.

 

JAMIE

Oooh yeah, right there, that’s it. Oh, I love you. You’re right there, baby...

 

Ted CRASHES through the door and in one motion swings the bat with all his strength

 

SMASHING IT ACROSS the back of Frankie’s neck.

 

We hear BONES SPLINTER as Frankie collapses onto Jamie then slides to the floor with a sickening empty THUD, dead.

 

Ted stares into Jamie’s horrified eyes. She starts to scream but with all his strength he

 

DRIVES THE BAT INTO HER FACE, shattering her nose, spraying blood.

 

TED

FUCK YOU! You LOVE him?

With both hands he raises the bat and hammers it down again.

TED (CONT'D)

Do you know what you did to me!

He pounds her face again and again, pulverizing it.

 

 

 

ANGLE. Blood splatters the stuffed animals on the floor.

 

Chest heaving, Ted finally stops. Jamie’s face is a grisly, bloody pulp, unrecognizable. Her bed is covered in blood. She’s motionless.

 

Suddenly she GASPS.

 

Ted watches as an explosion of blood, bone and tissue regurgitates from her shapeless mouth. She chokes violently and goes into involuntary spasms. Gurgling blood, she writhes, gulps and suffocates in the last awful seconds of death.

 

Then she goes limp and her head falls to the side. It’s over. Ted sways, dizzy, nauseous. He holds the bedpost for support. MOMENTS LATER

Ted reenters the room with a package of clothesline he’s found. Using a kitchen knife he cuts off a length. He lifts Jamie’s limp hand. He starts tying her wrist to the headpost.

 

MOMENTS LATER

 

Jamie’s naked body is now suspended, spread-eagle, in all her exposed glory, three feet in the air, hands and feet tied to the bedposts.

 

Ted, empty, disconnected, stands and stares at her. He picks up the bat. And something unendurable rips his face apart.

 

He RAMS THE BAT deep into her vagina.

TED

Happy honeymoon.

INT. JAMIE’S BATHROOM - SHOWER - MOMENTS LATER

 

In the shower, Ted lets a deluge of cool water pour over his face. He looks down at the blood swirling around the drain. He holds the bloody bat in his hand. He is calm. Someone else.

 

INT. JAMIE’S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER

 

Still naked, Ted carefully avoids the blood on the floor as he opens a dresser drawer. He finds two pairs of large wool socks. He slips one pair on his feet, the other on his hands like gloves.

 

He searches Frankie’s pants, gets his wallet. He removes Frankie’s school ID and tosses it in Jamie’s dresser drawer. Closes the drawer, wipes the handle. Tosses the wallet back with Frankie’s clothes.

 

 

 

He picks up the bat. Grimly, he rolls it in Jamie’s blood, tissue and brain matter. Then he carefully folds Frankie’s hands around the handle, squeezing his palms and fingers against it.

 

EXT. JAMIE’S HOUSE - BACK - NIGHT

 

Dead quiet night. Ted, struggling, carries Frankie’s body wrapped in a white bedsheet to the Thunderbird.

 

EXT. PALISADES INTERSTATE PARKWAY - NIGHT

 

Frankie’s Thunderbird drives along the highway. Almost no traffic at this hour. It pulls off onto a tree-lined road.

 

LONG SHOT

The Palisades Cliffs rise 800 feet above the Hudson River. EXT. PALISADES CLIFFS - SCENIC LOOKOUT - NIGHT

Concealed behind trees in darkness, Ted positions Frankie’s limp body, clothed, in the driver’s seat of his idling car. Using the dead weight of his body he wedges Frankie’s foot against the accelerator pedal. The engine roars.

 

Ted closes the door, reaches in, drops the gearshift into drive and leaps back.

 

TED

Fuck you Frankie.

The rear wheels spin wildly. The car doesn’t move.

 

Ted looks around and sees HEADLIGHTS on the nearby parkway. Panicky, he reaches in to shut off the ignition. But just as his hands touch the keys the car TAKES OFF like a rifle shot. The window post slams Ted’s arm as he yanks it out.

 

Frankie’s car disappears over the cliff into inky darkness. Beat. A ROARING SPLASH below.

EXT. PALISADES INTERSTATE PARKWAY - NIGHT

Ted hitchhikes. No cars. He desperately checks his watch. EXT. STASIA STREET - DAWN

Grey dawn lights the suburban neighborhood. INT. TED’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - SAME

Yawning, Ed trudges down the stairs in his bathrobe and disappears in the kitchen.

 

 

 

EILEEN (O.S.)

(sleepily) Morning. Eggs today?

 

Instantly Ted darts from behind the couch and slips noiselessly up the stairs in the nick of time.

 

INT. TED’S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER

 

Breathing an enormous sigh of relief, Ted falls on his bed and closes his eyes.

 

SOLARIZATION

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - NIGHT

 

Ted’s fingers, sticky with blood, lightly graze his chest on which the tape recorder rests. With effort, he speaks softly.

 

TED

Sometimes I miss the touch of her body. Her voice. Her warm promise of shared joy and love for the rest of our lives.

 

His eyelids crush tight in a spasm of pain. Then they reopen.

TED (CONT’D)

But if I’m not mourning my own death, I’m certainly not wasting any emotion on the likes of her.

 

MATCH CUT:

CLOSE ON closed eyelids fluttering with nightmare.

EILEEN (O.S.)

Teddy, wake up!

INT. TED’S BEDROOM - 1960 - MORNING

 

Ted jolts awake, disoriented. His mother stands by his bed.

EILEEN

Didn’t you hear me knock? Frankie's mother called. He didn't come home last night and she's worried sick. You need to call her.

 

Ted rubs his bleary eyes.

TED

Okay.

 

 

 

EXT. TED’S HOUSE - DAY

Later, Ted mows the lawn using a new gas-powered pushmower. INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

Wiping sweat, he pours himself a glass of iced tea. He pauses, clutches his head. Pressing hard, he squeezes his eyes shut.

 

TED

(beseeching)

Jamie... why... why’d you do it...?

He is startled by the DOORBELL. INT. LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Ted opens the front door, and hides his shock.

 

Detective Baxter holds up his badge and ID. Four years have made him craggier.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Hello son. You certainly have changed since last time I saw you.

 

MOMENTS LATER

Ted and his mother sit in the living room with Detective Baxter.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I assume you’re aware that he’s been missing since last Thursday?

 

EILEEN

Of course we are.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I understand that Frankie and Ted are...

TED

We’re best friends.

Baxter peers at him, furrowing his brow.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

How old are you now, son?

TED

Sixteen.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

When was the last time you saw Frankie?

 

 

 

TED

(thinks) Saturday before last.

 

Baxter scribbles in his pad.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

That’s over a week ago. Seems like an awful long time for best friends not to see each other during summer vacation.

 

Ted looks down.

 

TED

I’ve been seeing a girl, pretty steady.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

(off his notes) Is that Jamie Carver?

 

TED

Yes.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

You and Frankie don’t doubledate?

TED

Not anymore.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Why not?

TED

Frankie goes with lots of different girls. Jamie didn’t like hanging out with some new ditz every time.

 

His mother frowns.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I see. You said Jamie didn’t.

TED

What?

DETECTIVE BAXTER

You said “Jamie didn’t like hanging out”. Has she recently changed her mind?

 

TED

I meant doesn’t.

Ted is sweating.

 

 

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

When’s the last time you spoke with Frankie?

 

TED

Wednesday, I guess. I asked if he wanted to play ball but he said he was taking a date to the shore and wouldn’t be home until late.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Who was he taking to the shore?

TED

He didn’t say.

Baxter writes in his pad.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

And where were you Wednesday night?

TED

 

Home.

 

All night? Yes.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER TED

DETECTIVE BAXTER

 

Are you sure you didn’t go out?

EILEEN

(defiantly)

He was here all night, Detective.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Mrs. Roth, I’m just trying to get all the facts. A young man has been missing since last Thursday.

 

Ted, pale, wipes his forehead.

TED

Would you mind if I used the bathroom?

INT. BATHROOM - MOMENTS LATER

 

Overwhelmed by sudden panic, holed up like a trapped animal, Ted grips the handle of the bathroom window. He wants to run. Beat.

 

Forcing calmness, he takes a slow breath. Turns to the sink. Throws cold water on his face. Stares at himself in the mirror.

 

 

 

INT. LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER

 

Back in his chair, Ted is composed. Baxter clears his throat and immediately slaps him with:

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

When was the last time you saw Jamie?

Ted doesn’t flinch.

 

TED

Last Tuesday.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I thought you said you were going steady?

TED

We are-- well, we were.

Ted gazes down at the floor.

TED (CONT'D)

Jamie told me she wanted to date other guys. We had a fight and I went home. I was pretty upset.

 

Woefully, Eileen reaches out and clasps his hand.

EILEEN

Oh, Teddy... Why didn’t you tell me?

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Have you spoken with her since?

TED

I called the next night... But I heard a voice in the background that sounded like Frankie, so I asked if he was there and she said none of my business. She said I didn’t own her and hung up... I don’t know. Could’ve been the radio.

 

Eileen sadly squeezes his hand.

TED (CONT'D)

Then I called again next day and no one answered. But her parents are on vacation and she told me she might visit her aunt while they’re gone. So I figured she did.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Do you have any reason to believe Frankie was there?

 

Ted looks up and meets his gaze.

 

 

 

TED

Now that I think about it, it’s odd he didn’t tell me who he was going to the shore with.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Why?

TED

He always brags about his latest conquest.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Did you ever think that Jamie and Frankie were seeing each other, Ted?

 

TED

No. I never did.

Baxter peers at him.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Do you have anything else you want to tell me, Ted?

 

TED

No.

Baxter’s gaze lingers. He stares directly into Ted’s eyes.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I’ll let myself out.

INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

 

Eileen scoops a thick piece of apple pie onto a plate. She turns around and sets it before Ted at the kitchen table.

 

EILEEN

You’ll find someone much better than her. You’ll see. She didn’t deserve you.

 

Ted picks up his fork. Stares at it.

TED

I want to be alone the rest of my life.

EILEEN

(dismayed)

Oh honey. You don’t mean that.

She touches his hand. Ted gently pulls away.

TED

It’s best for everyone.

 

 

 

INT. TED’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

 

Ted sits on the couch trying to read a book. He can’t concentrate, and puts it aside. He stares into space.

 

INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

Ted speaks listlessly into the phone.

TED

I haven’t heard anything. Thanks, Kevin. No, I’m staying in. Tell the guys I said hey.

 

He hangs up. He rubs his eyes.

The phone RINGS again. He just walks away. INT. TED’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Ted lays awake in bed with his clothes on. EXT. STASIA STREET - MORNING

A PAPER BOY pedals down the sunny street, tossing newspapers. ELDERLY NEIGHBORS in bathrobes appear at their doors.

 

EILEEN (O.S.)

Oh my God!... Oh my God!

INT. TED’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - SAME

 

Ted walks downstairs to see his mother, her back turned, staring at the newspaper. Ted, knowing, takes a deep breath.

 

TED

What’s the matter?

 

She turns, tears pouring down her face. The paper headline is “TEANECK GIRL FOUND BLUDGEONED TO DEATH” with Jamie’s YEARBOOK

PHOTO underneath.

 

EILEEN

Someone killed her. Her parents came home and found her. She was dead...

(sobbing)

... for days.

 

She runs and embraces Ted. CLOSE ON TED staring unblinking over her shoulder. He tries to bring tears to his eyes.

 

He can’t do it.

 

 

 

EXT. STASIA STREET / WOODS - DAY

 

The neighborhood is silent as a morgue. At the end of the street a NEW “DEAD END” SIGN has replaced the old.

 

EXT. WOODS - SAME

 

Ted paces along the path. He glances toward the overgrown foxhole, but doesn’t stop walking.

 

EXT. TED’S HOUSE - DAY

Later, Ted trudges up his front steps. He opens the front door. Inside, we see Baxter and another man waiting on the couch.

INT. TED’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

 

Baxter and SENIOR DETECTIVE STONE wear nearly identical drab suits. Stone’s snub-nosed .38 is visible in a brown leather hip holster.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Ted, this is Senior Detective Stone.

Ted sits in the same chair as before. Eileen watches anxiously.

DETECTIVE STONE

Ted, are you aware Jamie Carver was found murdered in her home last evening?

 

Eileen buries her face and bursts out SOBBING.

TED

Mom...

(to detectives) Of course we are.

 

DETECTIVE STONE

I’d like to review some information you told Detective Baxter the other day.

(looks at notes) By the way...

 

Very casual, he glances up.

DETECTIVE STONE (CONT'D)

Weren’t you friends with Charlie Garner?

Ted looks back coolly. Expecting this.

EILEEN

(shocked outrage) Now wait a minute--

 

 

 

TED

Yes, I was.

DETECTIVE STONE

Terrible thing that happened to him.

TED

Yes.

DETECTIVE STONE

Think there may be any connection?

TED

That was... six years ago. Johnny Henderson killed Charlie. He’s in jail, isn’t he?

 

DETECTIVE STONE

You were very close to Charlie, weren’t you?

 

 

 

Yes.

 

TED

 

DETECTIVE STONE

 

And you were very close to Jamie.

TED

What does that have to do with Charlie?

DETECTIVE STONE

You were also best friends with Frankie?

EILEEN

(leaps up)

How dare you come into our home and imply my son had anything to do with this! The nerve of you two. I think you should leave NOW! I MEAN, RIGHT NOW!

 

DETECTIVE STONE

Ma’am, this is a difficult time for us all. But if you prefer, we can do this down at the police station.

 

Eileen stares at him. She sits down stiffly.

DETECTIVE STONE (CONT’D)

Thank you, Mrs. Roth. (sympathetic)

Must be especially difficult for you, Ted. Losing three of your closest friends like that.

 

 

 

TED

(quick)

Frankie isn’t dead. Is he?

DETECTIVE STONE

(unflinching)

I meant two of your closest friends. We’re still looking for Frankie.

 

TED

Is he a suspect?

DETECTIVE STONE

Why would you say that?

TED

(carefully)

I don’t know. He’s kind of a hothead. Especially when he doesn’t get what he wants.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Sounds kind of like your description of Johnny Henderson.

 

Ted looks at Baxter.

 

TED

Yeah, now that you mention it, a lot like Johnny.

 

DETECTIVE STONE

Would Frankie have been angry about anything to do with you or Jamie?

 

TED

I don’t know. He may have been jealous. You know. I wasn’t hanging out with him much. Jamie didn’t want to doubledate.

 

DETECTIVE STONE

Did he ever say anything?

TED

Not to me. Stone stares at him.

DETECTIVE STONE

Son, I can’t think of anyone in my entire twenty-five year career been hit with so much personal tragedy as you.

 

Ted stares back.

 

 

 

DETECTIVE STONE (CONT’D)

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell me, Ted?

 

TED

No.

DETECTIVE STONE

Are you sure?

TED

Yes.

Stone looks at Baxter. They rise.

DETECTIVE STONE

I think we’re finished for now.

 

There’s an awkward silence, then Eileen leaps to her feet and curses for probably the first time in her life.

 

EILEEN

You find the bastard who did this!

EXT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - MORNING

September. Early fall morning.

 

STUDENTS cluster around the front steps. Just another day at school, summer vacation gone.

 

INT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - HALL - MORNING

 

Ted grabs books from his locker, walks alone to class, head down.

 

TED (O.S.)

Frankie’s body was never found. As far as I know, he’s still communing with the fish in the Hudson River.

 

EXT. TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL - DAY

A GRADUATION CEREMONY in progress.

TED (O.S.)

Jamie’s mother lost her mind and was institutionalized somewhere in upstate New York. Jamie’s father committed suicide. Betrayal has a ripple effect.

 

Ted steps up to the podium and receives his diploma from the PRINCIPAL.

 

 

 

TED (O.S.) (CONT'D)

I graduated top of my class. Hell, why not. I had nothing to do but study.

 

ANGLE on the crowd, his parents applaud. EXT. COLLEGE CAMPUS - MORNING

Ted walks alone midst throngs of COLLEGE STUDENTS on a small green-grass college campus. Tree leaves are changing color.

 

TED (O.S.)

I attended Fairleigh Dickinson, just like I said I would, with a major in Business.

 

INT. COLLEGE LIBRARY - DAY

Ted studies at a table alone.

TED (O.S.)

I was brought up to believe business was hard and complicated. But it’s not.

 

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - DAY

 

Standing before the class, Ted makes a presentation with fellow student JOHN LAMBERT.

 

TED (O.S.)

It’s like playing Follow the Leader as a kid. All you have to do is be the one to say I’m the Leader. People want to be told what to do.

 

INT. TED’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

Ted’s room has become sparse and monk-like. No posters, no decor. Just books and a bed.

 

At his desk, Ted closes a textbook and rubs his eyes. He’s been studying for hours, needs a break.

 

INT. LOCAL TAVERN - NIGHT

 

At a dimly lit, anonymous watering hole, Ted sits alone at the bar finishing a glass of beer. A SEXY WOMAN tries to flirt, but he’s uninterested. With a polite goodnight he rises and leaves.

 

He squeezes through a dozen or so PATRONS toward the door. Someone bumps his shoulder.

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Ted Roth.

Ted is face to face with Baxter. Off duty, drunk.

 

 

 

TED

Detective Baxter.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

Fancy meeting you. Still livin’ with your folks?

 

TED

I’m in school.

DETECTIVE BAXTER

What you majorin’ in. Criminal arts?

Ted looks at him.

 

TED

Is that a joke, detective?

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I’m not laughin’.

TED

Excuse me.

 

Ted turns to go, but Baxter grabs him and SLAMS him against a wall. People watch.

 

 

DETECTIVE BAXTER

(forcing restraint)

I think you killed Charlie Garner. I think you killed Jamie Carver. And I think you killed Frankie Bates. For no good reason. That would make you scum.

 

Ted’s eyes start to smolder.

TED

Detective Baxter?

DETECTIVE BAXTER

I’m listenin’.

Ted jerks free of his grasp. Baxter glares.

TED

You know nothing about me. For that I envy you.

 

 

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - NIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOLARIZATION

 

 

Ted speaks quietly into the recorder on his chest.

 

 

 

TED

I never heard from Baxter or Stone again. I can only speculate they retired, frustrated with at least three unsolved murders under their belt.

 

He suddenly erupts in a coughing spell, spitting up blood, in severe pain. After a moment, with barely enough strength to wipe his mouth, Ted continues.

 

TED (CONT’D)

It wasn’t long after... wrath again bubbled to the surface.

 

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - 1961 - DAY

 

A PROFESSOR lectures before a blackboard on which “ABSTRACT ECONOMICS” is written. While the CLASS takes notes.

 

Except Ted, who gazes at...

 

TED’S POV. A woman in the next row, KAYLEY O’BRIAN, several years older and angelic in her beauty. She has porcelain skin and the most pure eyes we’ve ever seen.

 

INSERT TITLE CARD: “JUSTICE” INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - LATER

Class over, students file out. Kayley organizes her books. Ted hangs back, gathering his nerve to speak to her. Finally, Kayley rises and he rushes after her...

 

... and clumsily TRIPS in the doorway, landing flat on his face, his books flying. STUDENTS stare.

 

KAYLEY

Are you all right?

 

Kayley looks down at him with her soft, sympathetic eyes. Gently she takes his arm and helps him to his feet.

 

KAYLEY (CONT'D)

You’re bleeding.

 

She pulls a handkerchief from her purse and dabs at his bloody nose. Humiliated, Ted takes it. He shivers as their hands touch.

 

KAYLEY (CONT'D)

Are you sure you’re okay?

Ted nods, pressing her handkerchief to his nose.

 

 

 

KAYLEY (CONT'D)

(glances at her watch)

I’m sorry. I need to get to class.

She smiles apologetically, starts to leave. Ted blurts out:

TED

Would you like to go out Saturday?

Kayley hesitates, then turns.

TED (CONT’D)

(blushing)

For dinner... or a movie?

KAYLEY

Thank you. For asking. But... I’m sorry, I don’t date.

 

Ted, awkwardly clutching her now blood-spotted handkerchief, gapes at her with a curious, enamored recognition.

 

TED

Do I...

But she disappears amid the rush of STUDENTS and is gone.

TED (CONT’D)

... know you?

INT. COLLEGE LIBRARY - DAY

 

Ted sits at a cubicle trying to type a paper, surrounded by open texts.

 

He can’t concentrate, something gnaws at him. INT. TED’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Ted enters and goes to his dresser. He rummages through a drawer until he finds a SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL YEARBOOK. He opens it, flips through. He stops at a certain page. He peers closely.

 

FLASHBACK: INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL - 1955 - DAY

 

As boys, Teddy and Charlie goof around, secretly making faces at passing NUNS. They notice a particularly young and attractive nun (SISTER KAY) and mock being in love with her.

 

CLOSE ON SISTER KAY. It’s Kayley eight years ago. INT. COLLEGE CORRIDOR - DAY

Kayley approaches a classroom, carting an armload of books.

 

 

 

TED (O.S.)

Kayley?

 

She spins around, guarded and defensive. Ted smiles gently. He leans close.

 

TED (CONT'D)

Sister Kay?

Kayley turns pale.

INT. COLLEGE STUDENT HALL - DAY

 

In the crowded Student Hall, they sit across from each other at an isolated table.

 

KAYLEY

Teddy Roth. You’ve lost the freckles but I knew it was you.

 

TED

(smiles) It’s me.

 

KAYLEY

I was praying you wouldn’t recognize me. But I don’t think God listens to me anymore.

 

TED

(surprised) What do you mean?

 

Kayley looks down.

 

KAYLEY

I think this was a bad idea.

She gets up to leave.

TED

(gently)

No, no, wait. Please.

Kayley pauses, seeing the compassion and concern on Ted’s face. INT. ITALIAN RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Warm candlelight glows over Kayley’s face and sparkles in her eyes as she sits across from Ted in a quiet booth over wine and dinner. Ted’s gentleness has eased her discomfort a little.

 

TED

So, have you missed the convent?

 

 

 

Kayley looks away.

KAYLEY

I don’t want to talk about that.

 

Kayley sips her wine, and her eyes fill with tears. Ted gazes at her, deeply affected, like she’s an angel. Gently he reaches for her hand. She reflexively pulls it away.

 

KAYLEY (CONT'D)

(embarrassed)

I’m sorry... I don’t...

TED

It’s okay.

Kayley looks at him, sad and pleading, wanting to talk. INT. KAYLEY’S APARTMENT - NIGHT

They sit chastely on her stuffed couch, sipping tea, in her warm, cozy apartment. Books, some artwork on the walls.

 

KAYLEY

Thank you... for putting up with me, Ted. I want to tell you but...

 

TED

You don’t have to thank me. We don’t have to talk. I love just being with you.

 

Their eyes meet. Ted‘s sincerity is tender.

KAYLEY

(softly) Thank you.

 

Kayley looks down, tormented by this wedge between them.

KAYLEY (CONT'D)

I’ve never told anyone.

Her eyes flick up briefly, then back down.

KAYLEY (CONT’D)

(a whisper)

You’ll think I’m dirty.

TED

(stunned) What?

 

KAYLEY

Something bad happened. And you’ll think I’m disgusting.

 

 

 

TED

(intently)

That’s impossible. No matter what you’ve done, I could never feel that way.

 

He wants to touch her, but restrains himself.

TED (CONT’D)

I know it’s crazy. We just met. I mean, I hardly know you. But I do. I do know you. You feel like home. I think you’re the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.

 

Wary, frightened, confused, Kayley manages a smile and her radiance shines through her tear-glistened eyes. Suddenly she throws her arms around him. They silently hold each other.

 

Then Kayley lets go, and moves away, so they aren’t touching. She looks down at her knees, and, slowly, begins speaking.

 

KAYLEY

It was almost five years ago. I was happy and fulfilled, serving God...

 

FLASHBACK: INT. SAINT ANN’S RECTORY - 1956 - NIGHT

Sister Kay (Kayley), in a nun’s habit, walks down the hall.

KAYLEY (O.S.)

On the last Sunday of every month Father Andre went home to visit his family.

Father Harold was alone in the rectory.

She stops and knocks on a door.

KAYLEY (O.S.) (CONT'D)

(with difficulty)

He asked me to see him. He said he had a... special project for me.

 

The door opens and FATHER HAROLD, obese and obviously very drunk, grabs her arm and pulls her in.

 

INT. FATHER HAROLD’S QUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

He locks the door behind her.

SISTER KAY

(confused) Father?

 

FATHER HAROLD

Hush, child.

She tries to wrench away.

 

 

 

SISTER KAY

Father, you’re hurting me--

 

He SLAPS her hard across the face. Stunned, shocked tears form in her eyes. Father Harold throws her onto his bed.

 

FATHER HAROLD

Take off your clothes.

MOMENTS LATER

 

Father Harold lies on top of her, both of them naked, his obese, sweaty body thrusting against her. Sister Kay SCREAMS in pain as he penetrates her.

 

SISTER KAY

It hurts! Stop-- please stop--

He clamps his large hand over her mouth. He thrusts harder.

FATHER HAROLD

(urgently)

Oh, God-- oh, Jesus--

 

He BELLOWS in climax, then rolls off. Sister Kay just lies there, weeping. Blood trickles down her thighs.

 

Suddenly she leaps out of bed, clutching a sheet to cover herself, and runs to the door.

 

As she fumbles with the lock, Father Harold spins her around, slaps her face, then DRIVES HIS FIST into her abdomen. She falls to her knees, clutching her stomach, dry heaving.

 

LATER - MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

 

Bloody and bruised, half conscious, Sister Kay is now tied to the bed and gagged.

 

Father Harold, sweating, ranting, masturbates over her.

FATHER HAROLD (CONT'D)

You are nothing more than the Devil’s offspring, bred from the seed of vile fornicators. Do you hear me!

 

Kayley SCREAMS through her gag, crying stinging tears, as he drops the full weight of his body on top of her and frantically begins raping her again.

 

INT. KAYLEY’S APARTMENT - CONT’D

Ted listens in disbelief. Beside him Kayley stares vacantly.

 

 

 

KAYLEY

It went on all night. The pain, the stench of his body, the taste of blood in my mouth. Each time he woke, he would do it again. When he couldn’t get hard, he used his fingers.

 

Kayley takes a deep breath. Continues.

FLASHBACK: INT. FATHER HAROLD’S QUARTERS - 1956 - DAWN

 

Next morning. Father Harold, sober, showered and dressed, unties Sister Kay and removes her gag. Her face is bruised, her lips swollen. Dried blood is smeared all over her thighs.

 

FATHER HAROLD

Child, you are an orphan. The result of an unholy union of Satan’s disciples. You are nothing more than the wicked product of the Devil’s loins. God has instructed me to punish you and thus, your Father, Lucifer. If you ever speak of this past evening, I will smite you to your rightful and fiery destiny. So child, when I beckon, you will come to receive your punishment. And you will rejoice in the pain, and repent for your sins, asking God for forgiveness. Do you understand?

 

SISTER KAY

(dazed) Yes, Father.

 

EXT. SAINT ANN’S RECTORY - BACK - MORNING

 

Sister Kay peers out a back door, her nun’s habit only partially covering her battered face. Seeing no one in sight, she runs out and flees, ashamed, toward the adjacent convent.

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CONVENT - SISTER KAY’S ROOM - DAY

Sister Kay eats from a meal tray in her small room.

KAYLEY (O.S.)

For the next five days, I stayed in my room, telling everyone I had stomach flu.

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CONVENT - DAY

 

Sister Kay treads down a corridor, eyes on the floor. The elderly MOTHER SUPERIOR approaches her.

 

 

 

MOTHER SUPERIOR

(kindly)

Sister Kay, how are you feeling?

SISTER KAY

Better, thank you, Mother Superior.

MOTHER SUPERIOR

Good. Father Harold has asked to see you about a special project.

 

The blood drains from Sister Kay’s face.

MOTHER SUPERIOR (CONT’D)

Are you sure you’re feeling alright?

SISTER KAY

(conflicted)

Well... I must tell you... I... (pause)

I feel sick.

The older nun looks at her with a trace of suspicion.

MOTHER SUPERIOR

I shall tell him you’re ill.

SISTER KAY

Thank you. Thank you.

EXT. SAINT ANN’S RECTORY - DAY

 

Father Andre, the white-haired priest, carries boxes of prayer books from the rectory to the church. Sister Kay, helping him, picks up a box and starts to follow. She stops in her tracks.

 

Father Harold approaches. He smiles.

FATHER HAROLD

Good afternoon, Father Andre. I wonder if you could spare Sister Kay for a project.

 

Sister Kay drops the box. She looks flustered.

FATHER ANDRE

Be careful, Sister Kay. (to Father Harold)

Of course, Father. I’m sure I can finish up before I have to leave to see my folks. Last Sunday of the month, you know. Sister Kay, you may go help Father Harold.

 

 

 

Sister Kay begins trembling as Father Andre walks off. Father Harold lays a hand on her shoulder. She lets out an involuntary, startled yelp.

 

Father Andre turns. Sees the terrified look on her face.

FATHER ANDRE (CONT’D)

Sister Kay. Are you all right?

Father Harold squeezes her shoulder.

FATHER HAROLD

She’s fine. Just fine.

 

Father Andre glances at his fellow priest, than back at Sister Kay. A momentary look of puzzled alarm crosses his face.

 

FATHER ANDRE

You know, I don’t think I’ll have time to get these boxes to the church after all. If you would, Sister Kay.

 

Eagerly Sister Kay pulls away from Father Harold, who reluctantly releases her, and grabs the box.

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CONVENT - MORNING

 

The SISTERS are engaged in serene morning prayers. CLOSE ON SISTER KAY. She looks ill. Suddenly she clasps her hand over her mouth and starts to run off, but she can’t help herself and VOMITS on the floor. She begins sobbing.

 

INT. MOTHER SUPERIOR’S OFFICE - MORNING

 

Mother Superior looks solemnly at Sister Kay, who cannot make eye contact.

 

MOTHER SUPERIOR

Do you know who the father is?

Heart pounding, Sister Kay can hardly breathe.

SISTER KAY

(fearful)

No.

INT. SAINT ANN’S CONVENT - DAY

Sister Kay walks alone. NUNS cast disdainful looks at her. INT. SISTER KAY’S ROOM - DAY

Sister Kay, visibly pregnant now and sequestered, picks up a meal tray left outside her door.

 

 

 

Overlap the sound of her SCREAMING IN PAIN... INT. SISTER KAY’S ROOM - NIGHT

She’s in labor. A group of SISTERS supervised by Mother Superior conduct the delivery. Sister Kay gives a final screaming thrust and a MIDWIFE NUN receives the infant from the womb.

 

There is no cry. The nun looks up and shakes her head sadly. END FLASHBACK

INT. KAYLEY’S APARTMENT - CONT’D

Tears streaming down her cheeks, Kayley slowly meets Ted’s eyes.

KAYLEY

Mother Superior suggested I pursue ‘other interests’. But I had no other interests. No family. I was raised at the convent. I wanted nothing but to serve God.

 

Ted gently squeezes her hand.

KAYLEY (CONT’D)

I know it’s wrong to hate. But he’s not a man. Man is not capable of such evil.

 

Silently Ted ponders that, as he contemplates his hand on hers.

TED

He’s a sick bastard. He doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as you.

 

Delicately he embraces her. She begins to cry, with a great weight finally lifted. For a moment they just hold each other, both lost in their thoughts. Finally Kayley looks at him.

 

KAYLEY

I hope we can stay friends.

TED

Kayley, I...

Gazing at her, Ted is hit with a momentous realization.

TED (CONT’D)

(simply) I love you.

 

Kayley stares at him.

KAYLEY

Ted... I can’t...

 

 

 

TED

(gently)

I know. One day at a time. I promise.

 

Very slowly, Kayley leans forward and touches her lips to Ted’s. She holds the kiss for a long, tender moment.

 

EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

Ted drives home in his old FORD. INT. TED’S FORD - MOVING - SAME

His face is a mask of seething, overwhelming fury. White- knuckled, his fist pounds the steering wheel.

 

INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - DAY

 

Ted sits in class, staring into the distance. Lost in fiery thought, his jaw grinds. His eyes blaze.

 

TEACHER (O.S.)

Ted?... Ted Roth.

He snaps to, embarrassed. Tries to pay attention. INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - EVENING

He eats dinner with his parents. He doesn’t touch his food.

EILEEN

Ted, are you alright?

 

Ted nods, forces a smile, eats a mouthful of mashed potatoes. He glances toward a calendar taped to the refrigerator door.

 

CLOSE-UP. The last Sunday of the month. EXT. SAINT ANN’S RECTORY - DAY

Carrying an old suitcase, Father Andre walks to his car in the parking lot. He gets in, starts the engine, and drives away.

 

EXT. DOWN THE STREET - SAME

Ted sits in his Ford, watching.

INT. TED’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

 

Eileen and Ed sit on the couch in the glow of their old black & white TV. On his way out, Ted kisses his mother on the cheek.

 

TED

Be home late. Don’t wait up.

 

 

 

EILEEN

(worried)

Oh, it’s raining, honey. Where’s your umbrella?

 

EXT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - PARKING LOT - NIGHT

A RAINY night. Thick FOG shrouds the church.

 

Headlights go black and Ted’s car coasts into the parking lot behind the church.

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - BACK ROOM - NIGHT

 

An unlit back room. We hear the door being jimmied, then Ted enters, wearing work gloves, carrying a large canvas bag.

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - CHAPEL - NIGHT

 

The MASSIVE OAKEN CROSS (seen in our opening shot) hangs suspended above the altar. With a noisy CLANG...

 

... Ted dumps the contents of the bag on top of the altar. Tools, a coil of rope, rubber boots.

 

He climbs onto the altar and picks up a pair of long-handled bolt cutters. Standing on his toes, he holds them over his head and positions the blades against one of the two hefty chains supporting the cross. Using all his strength, he squeezes.

 

INT. SAINT ANN’S RECTORY - NIGHT

 

The rectory is quiet and deserted. Ted knocks on a door. Father Harold opens it, plainly drunk. He glances at the gloves on Ted’s hands.

 

FATHER HAROLD

May I help you?

Ted SLAMS HIS FIST into his face.

INT. SAINT ANN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH - CHAPEL - NIGHT

 

The large wooden cross now lies on the floor at the foot of the altar. Several pieces of twine lay beside it.

 

Father Harold stands bound and gagged with black electrical tape. His eyes are wide and he mumbles frantically.

 

Ted holds up a hunting knife. He presses the tip under Father Harold’s jaw, until a bead of blood appears. Father Harold tries to scream and looks at Ted as if he’s crazy.

 

TED

This is for Sister Kay.

 

 

 

Ted spits in his face.

 

Then he DRIVES HIS FIST into his abdomen and Father Harold collapses to his knees.

 

LATER...

 

Father Harold lies bound to the cross, naked. His face bruised, he is half-conscious, just coming to.

 

Ted wears the rubber boots. From the altar, he picks up THREE SPIKES and a handheld SLEDGEHAMMER.

 

When Father Harold sees, he squirms wildly, screaming under his gag.

 

Ted approaches. He kicks him in the face.

 

He kneels on his left forearm. He raises the sledgehammer... and POUNDS the spike into his wrist, deep into the oak. Father Harold SCREAMS and passes out. Blood flows.

 

Breathing heavily, Ted moves to the other side. POUNDS another spike into the other wrist.

 

Then he turns to his feet... and SLAMS the longest spike through his ankles. Bones CRACK. Blood runs out.

 

Panting now like a wild animal, Ted lifts the base of the cross and, using all his strength, HAULS it over his back. Struggling, dragging, he manages to prop it up against the top of the altar.

 

Father Harold hangs there, upside down on his inverted cross in all his obese, unclothed splendor. Blood runs from his wounds.

 

Ted reaches between his naked legs and pulls taut. He positions the hunting knife and, with a look of primal, intense hatred, he slices down, castrating him. BLOOD SPURTS on Ted’s face.

 

With a gloved hand he wipes his eyes, then grabs a two-foot piece of galvanized PIPE from the altar. He picks up the sledgehammer.

 

He turns and slams the pipe against Father Harold’s rectum.

TED (CONT'D)

Is this virgin, Father?

Mad with frenzy, he starts POUNDING.

TED (CONT'D)

(enraged) How does it feel!

 

 

 

Insanely, Ted POUNDS the pipe until it’s wedged upright. Blood gushes out.

 

Chest heaving, Ted stumbles back. He turns and switches on the altar SPOTLIGHTS...

 

... BRIGHTLY ILLUMINATING the gruesome spectacle of the deceased Father Harold, BLOOD pouring from the hole in his groin and rectum, running down his upturned naked body, dripping to the church floor.

 

Ted stares intense and fervent.

TED (CONT’D)

Your rightful and fiery destiny.

EXT. HACKENSACK BRIDGE - NIGHT

 

Very late. Traffic is light. The old Ford slows to a stop in the middle of the bridge.

 

When no cars are in sight, Ted gets out, wearing a fresh change of clothes, and hurls the canvas bag over the rail into the river.

 

INT. TED’S HOUSE - STAIRS - NIGHT

 

Silently, careful not to wake his parents, Ted steals up the stairs in the dark to his room.

 

INT. TED’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Ted lies awake. He stares in the dark.

Finally, after a moment, he turns over to sleep. INT. TED’S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

Ted finishes making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He sits down at the kitchen table. Quiet, thinking. He takes a bite, munches slowly. The phone RINGS.

 

TED

(grabs it) Hello?

 

KAYLEY (O.S.)

Ted? Did you hear?

INT. KAYLEY’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

Ted and Kayley lie tenderly on her bed, fully dressed, in each other’s arms.

 

 

 

KAYLEY

I spoke with a Sister I used to know. The church won’t release any details. They’re afraid of an investigation. She doesn’t even know what happened.

 

TED

(quietly)

You know what’s important.

KAYLEY

Ted... it’s awful... but I feel like such a weight has been lifted.

 

TED

It has.

KAYLEY

(alive)

I feel like a new person.

She wipes tears of happiness from her cheeks.

KAYLEY (CONT’D)

I’m happy with you, Ted. Really happy.

 

They caress each other. Then, looking at Ted, Kayley makes a momentous decision. She slowly begins to undress.

 

KAYLEY (CONT’D)

I haven’t... since...

TED

I know. We’ll be so gentle.

KAYLEY

I’m scared.

Ted softly kisses her forehead.

TED

It’s okay now.

 

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SMALL CHURCH - 1970 - MORNING

 

Ted and Kayley, bride and groom, run out through a shower of rice.

 

TED (O.S.)

We were married in June of nineteen- seventy.

 

 

 

EXT. SUNNY BEACH - DAY

They run happily into the water, splash and frolic together.

TED (O.S.)

We honeymooned in Kauai for two beautiful weeks.

 

INT. SMALL OFFICE - DAY

 

Former college classmate John Lambert helps Ted set up a small office. Both sport ties, their sleeves rolled up.

 

TED (O.S.)

I started R&L Consulting on a shoestring with good old John Lambert from college.

 

INT. HOSPITAL MATERNITY WARD - 1972 - NIGHT

In a hospital gown, Ted cradles a NEWBORN at Kayley’s bedside.

TED (O.S)

In nineteen seventy-two, Jennifer Elizabeth Roth, the joy of our lives, was born.

 

INT. MODEST APARTMENT - MORNING

Ted and Kayley watch TODDLER JENNIFER take her first steps.

TED (O.S.)

It was the early days of the computer revolution and R&L expanded rapidly. Within six years we went public and quickly became the darlings of Wall Street.

 

EXT. R&L CONSULTING FACILITY - DAY

 

A prominent R&L CONSULTING sign sits on the landscaped lawn of a LARGE BRAND NEW FACILITY.

 

TED (O.S.)

Our stock grew almost exponentially, making John and I very rich. Seemed everything we did made us money.

 

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS - DAY

 

A huge contemporary Colonial home sits on a cliff overlooking the Hudson River.

 

 

 

TED (O.S.)

Kayley and I built our house on six acres overlooking the Hudson River in the most prestigious Englewood Cliffs.

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - MORNING

 

Ted and Kayley celebrate Christmas in their luxurious home. Little Jennifer tears open presents.

 

TED (O.S.)

Our lives couldn’t have been better. I was living the American Dream.

 

EXT. CEMETARY - 1990 - MORNING

 

Cold grey March morning. A burial ceremony. Ted, Kayley and TEENAGE JENNIFER are dressed in black. Ted watches somberly.

 

TED (O.S.)

In nineteen-ninety my parents were killed in a car accident on the Jersey Turnpike. I loved my parents. But I didn’t cry. I couldn’t.

 

EXT. PRIVATE GOLF COURSE - MORNING

Now MIDDLE-AGED, Ted has an early morning jog on a golf course.

TED (O.S.)

But the years slid by, business boomed, Jennifer went to college and all was right with the world.

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - NIGHT

 

Ted and Kayley sit by the fire, cuddling, looking at a family photo album. Proud, happy parents.

 

TED (O.S.)

My past deeds were no more than a remote shadow, buried and forgotten. Kayley and I were happy. I was normal. I was home.

 

SOLARIZATION

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - NIGHT

 

Ted’s eyes are closed, he has momentarily lost consciousness. After a silence, he stirs and, with an effort, quietly resumes speaking into the bloodstained recorder.

 

 

 

TED

I all but retired from business. Having money and connections, I found myself welcomed by local politics and social circles. Wasn’t long before...

(bitterly)

... I found myself fundraising for the Republican National Committee.

 

INT. FORMAL FUNDRAISING DINNER - EVENING

 

Ted and John Lambert, in tuxedoes, chat amiably at a lavish thousand-dollar a plate fundraising dinner.

 

TED (O.S.)

I ran into John at a fundraiser in Bergenfield. Hadn’t seen him in years. Turned out he was even more politically connected than I, and had anonymously contributed over one million dollars to the last Presidential campaign.

 

INT. IRISH PUB - NIGHT

 

After, Ted and John sit in a booth over a pitcher of beer. Another pitcher is emptied. Both are feeling no pain.

 

JOHN

Thousand bucks a plate and I still prefer three-dollar onion rings.

 

Ted laughs heartily and we realize he’s much drunker than John.

TED

(slurring)

Here’s to R&L Consulting. We created it.

They toast, Ted spilling.

TED (CONT’D)

Gimme the inside scoop, John. When Manley and Forrester left, I read about it in the Wall Street Journal but...

 

JOHN

What’s to tell? They jumped ship. Took three of our highest revenue clients. Betrayal. Plain and simple.

 

Ted nods. His face clouds.

TED

Yeah. I know about betrayal.

He finishes his beer and pours another, spilling more.

 

 

 

TED (CONT'D)

Lowest crime in the book.

John nods. Beat.

 

JOHN

Ted, you alright? Slow down, you’re not a drinker.

 

Ted, his eyes dark, shakes his head. However unwise and uncharacteristic, the alcohol gets the better of him. He’s needed to let this out for years.

 

TED

(hushed)

Gonna tell you something, John. I never told anyone. Not even Kayley. About when I was a kid. Gotta give me your vow of secrecy.

 

JOHN

Sure, buddy.

TED

I’m serious.

John looks at him, surprised.

TED (CONT’D)

Promise you’ll never tell. Anyone.

JOHN

I promise.

 

Ted looks around. Then the CAMERA PULLS BACK as he leans close and begins confiding drunkenly to his former partner.

 

John, listening, apparently sobers up very quickly. INT. COLONIAL HOME - MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT

Later. Kayley sleeps soundly in the dark.

 

PAN UP to see Ted gazing down at her, still drunk, consumed by turmoil, realizing what he’s done. He kisses her on the forehead and staggers out, careful not to wake her.

 

INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Ted emerges and falls against the wall. He clutches his head.

TED

Oh my god what’ve you done...

 

 

 

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - PATIO - NEXT MORNING

 

Ted and Kayley have breakfast on their patio. It’s a scenic view.

 

KAYLEY

Sweetheart, you okay? You’re not eating.

 

Ted looks sick. He gazes into her loving eyes, confession ready on his lips. Beat.

 

 

TED

I’ll never drink Irish beer again.

Kayley laughs and kisses him.

 

 

FADE IN:

EXT. PRIVATE GOLF COURSE - DAY

WEALTHY MEN enjoy leisurely golf in the sun.

 

 

 

 

FADE OUT

 

 

Ted, strolling beside a CADDY, plays alone. His cell RINGS.

TED

(into phone) Hello?

 

JOHN (O.S.)

Ted? This is John.

TED

(awkward beat)

John. Don’t hear from you in two years, now twice in two months. Took me three days to get over my hangover. How about you?

 

JOHN (O.S.)

(laughs)

I think I still have it.

TED

I’m on the green. What’s up?

 

The caddy stops at the teeing ground of the next hole. Ted selects his iron.

 

JOHN (O.S.)

I’ll make it fast. I’d like you to meet some friends of mine on Friday night if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Who?

 

TED

 

JOHN (O.S.)

 

Just some friends. Maybe a business deal.

TED

Look John, I’m retired. Jennifer just got home from school. All I’m interested in right now is spending time with my family. And finishing eighteen holes.

 

JOHN (O.S.)

(chuckles)

It’s not that kind of business. I think you‘ll be very interested.

 

Starting to tee up, Ted pauses.

TED

What’s this all about?

JOHN (O.S.)

We’ve known each other for years, Ted. Trust me.

 

TED

(hesitates) What time?

 

JOHN (O.S.)

Meet me at Sam Baker’s house in Tenafly, at nine p.m. You know where he lives?

 

TED

Sure. How does the Chairman of the RNC figure into this?

 

JOHN (O.S.)

Ted, I have to run.

TED

All right, John. Listen... (hesitates)

All that stuff I told you. I was just shooting my mouth off, you know that, right? I wasn’t sober. It wasn’t true.

 

JOHN (O.S.)

Never gave it a second thought. Don’t sweat it. See you Friday at nine.

 

He hangs up. Ted looks at the phone.

 

 

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - DINING ROOM - EVENING

 

Ted, Kayley and JENNIFER, now a pretty college student, enjoy dinner together.

 

KAYLEY

I wonder why Sam Baker would be involved? Maybe they really do want you for office.

 

JENNIFER

Senator Roth. Better take the limo, dad.

Ted laughs, cutting into his steak.

TED

That’s okay. I’ll slum it.

Kayley leans over and kisses him.

KAYLEY

Whatever they want, I’m so proud of you.

EXT. SAM BAKER’S MANSION - NIGHT

 

Friday night. A huge English Tudor mansion sits on five acres of secluded grounds. A half dozen BLACK CARS line the driveway with a CHAUFFEUR standing ready by each.

 

AT THE FRONT GATE

 

Two SECRET SERVICE TYPES approach Ted’s CADILLAC as he drives up. Ted powers down his window, looking over the scene with curiosity.

 

SECRET SERVICE TYPE #1

Are you Ted Roth?

TED

I am.

SECRET SERVICE TYPE #1

May I see your ID please.

TED

(surprised) What’s going on here?

 

MOMENTS LATER

 

Ted drives to the front entrance, past the black cars and chauffeurs who don’t make eye contact. When he stops and emerges from his car four more SECRET SERVICE TYPES are there to meet him.

 

 

 

SECRET SERVICE TYPE #2

Mr. Roth, for security reasons I’m afraid we must ask you to turn around, raise your arms and spread your legs, please.

 

TED

(stunned) Are you serious?

 

They wait expressionless.

INT. SAM BAKER’S MANSION - HALL - MOMENTS LATER

 

Ted follows the four agents down a rich mahogany hall. They stop at an open door. Ted peers inside.

 

INT. LIBRARY - CONTINUOUS

 

A large, dimly lit library. Eight TOP-LEVEL POLITICIANS sit on ornate high-back chairs around a handsome conference table. All heads turn to face Ted standing in the doorway. John Lambert is among them, sitting by a lone vacant seat.

 

Ted recognizes the faces. A cold chill ripples through him.

 

The door is softly closed behind him. The agents escort him into the room and surround the table.

 

SECRET SERVICE TYPE #2

Mr. Roth, the Vice President of the United States.

 

The VICE PRESIDENT of the United States rises from the head of the table and nods at Ted. Ted is speechless.

 

VICE PRESIDENT

Welcome, Mr. Roth. It appears you recognize the men here tonight.

 

Ted peers at the men in stunned silence. He glares at his former partner John Lambert. If looks could kill.

 

TED

Gentlemen.

VICE PRESIDENT

Please take a seat.

 

Ted sits in the vacant chair beside Lambert. On the lacquered table in front of him are two plain folders. One is labelled “TED ROTH”. The other “PRESIDENT’S ITINERARY - AUGUST”.

 

The Vice President resumes his seat at the head of the table.

 

 

 

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT’D)

I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here. Why the Vice President of the United States, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Director of Homeland Security, Director of the FBI, Director of the CIA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Chairman of the Republican National Committee are all seated comfortably in Mr. Baker’s private library, which he has so generously provided for this meeting.

 

RNC CHAIRMAN SAM BAKER nods humbly. Ted looks at him.

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT'D)

Such a secret top-level gathering is unbelievable, right? Well, we’re here because seeing is believing. So you, Mr. Roth, can see us with your own eyes. So you know we aren’t fucking around.

 

Ted stares at him, at everyone, in utter astonishment. No one says a word. Is he being toyed with?

 

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT'D)

We’re here because it has become obvious that the President is slowly abandoning his party in favor of a catastrophically liberal approach to government.

 

Ted fixes his eyes on the table as he listens.

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT’D)

Because the President wants to drastically reduce military and defense spending in favor of “ameliorating social conditions” to create “a more equitable society”. Close nearly half our federal prisons. Furlough tens of thousands of hardened criminals. Can you imagine that, Mr. Roth?

 

TED

(hoarse, in disbelief) No, sir.

 

VICE PRESIDENT

Because he continues to pander to minorities, illegal aliens, the unemployed, and those unwilling to help themselves, focusing on social injustice rather than individual duty. As we speak, we are knee-deep in proposed legislation to create nothing more than what could best be described as a welfare state.

 

 

 

Ted is speechless.

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT’D)

Because he’s proposed a moratorium on offshore oil drilling in Alaska. An energy policy that would leave us almost entirely dependent on foreign oil, our economy in the hands of the cartels.

(angry)

We’re here because this country was founded by God-fearing Americans. But if the President has his way, we will remove God not only from our Constitution but from our very social vocabulary. What do you think of that, Mr. Roth?

 

Ted looks up. The Vice President peers at him.

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT'D)

Are you aware Chief Justice Johnson has announced his retirement in June?

 

TED

I am.

VICE PRESIDENT

Well, the man you voted for President is crusading to appoint Linda Odslow as his replacement. A move that would swing the Supreme Court securely to the Left, a shift we cannot and will not allow.

 

The men at the table all gaze at Ted.

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT’D)

The election is in less than two years. The Democrats don’t have a viable candidate. It is our belief that the President is moving toward switching parties and declaring himself a Democratic candidate. That’s right. It would be an unprecedented move causing irreparable damage to the Republican Party and everything we stand for. It would take decades to overcome the fallout. The son of a bitch could very well precipitate the collapse of the United States as we know it.

 

A solemn, surreal air permeates on the room.

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT’D)

This group represents The Assembly.

 

 

 

TED

(pause) The Assembly?

 

The Vice President nods to the FBI DIRECTOR, who continues.

FBI DIRECTOR

Our goal is simple. We must purge the political landscape of those influences which undermine the philosophic course we have mapped for America. That means anything-- or anyone. As Director of the FBI I assure you we’ll stop at nothing to achieve our objective.

 

Ted stares, pale, astonished.

TED

Why are you telling me this? What does this have to do with me?

 

VICE PRESIDENT

We want you to kill the President.

 

 

Beat.

 

 

TED

This is a joke?

VICE PRESIDENT

 

(cold)

This is no joke, Mr. Roth.

TED

(starts to rise)

I think it’s time for me to take my leave, gentlemen.

 

Two agents immediately block his way.

VICE PRESIDENT

Sit down, and open the top folder.

Ted hesitates. He sits. He opens the folder.

 

It contains a complete dossier on his past. We see dozens of NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS about Charlie, Jamie, Frankie, Father Harold. We see POLICE REPORTS. Notes from Detective Baxter and Stone, analyses of the crimes. DNA comparison reports from the FBI’s forensic laboratory. Page upon page, years of material.

 

Ted’s head is swimming. He looks dizzy. His eyes move darkly to Lambert on his left, who stares stone-faced straight ahead.

 

 

 

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT'D)

Your considerable pernicious talents, Mr. Roth, coupled with your sociopolitical reputation, make you the perfect assassin for our needs.

 

TED

This is insane. This can’t be happening.

The Vice President folds his hands.

VICE PRESIDENT

I assure you it is.

TED

What’s to stop me going to the police?

The CIA DIRECTOR chuckles.

CIA DIRECTOR

Really, Mr. Roth. Take another look at your dossier. Besides, think of your wife. Your daughter. As Director of the CIA, I believe you would be putting them in harm’s way. Do you understand what I’m saying?

 

Ted sits there, stunned, powerless.

TED

I need a few days to think.

VICE PRESIDENT

There’s nothing to think about, Mr. Roth.

 

A long moment passes. Ted quietly closes the folder. He glares at Lambert with hard, cold rage.

 

TED

How do we proceed?

The SECRETARY OF DEFENSE takes over.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

The second folder contains the President’s August itinerary.

 

Ted hesitates, opens it.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (CONT'D)

You will formulate your plan using that schedule. Each event is randomly numbered. Once you have selected, you will call the phone number on the inside jacket.

(MORE)

 

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (CONT'D)

A prerecorded message will speak the phrase ‘American Freedom’. You will identify the number of the event and hang up. The line will be disconnected and no further contact will be made. We will expect you to carry out the operation as indicated. Is that clear?

 

Ted nods, dully.

 

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (CONT'D)

If for any reason the event is cancelled we will reestablish contact and provide further instruction. Any deviation, any mention of this meeting or your assignment, will result in the immediate release of your dossier to appropriate authorities. Do you understand?

 

TED

(quiet)

Yes.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

Please try to limit collateral damage.

Ted looks around the table. The men no longer meet his gaze.

VICE PRESIDENT

When you have successfully completed your mission, your files and all records will be destroyed. You have my word.

 

Ted stares at him.

 

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT’D)

These gentlemen will see you out.

Two agents step forward. Beat.

 

Ted stands slowly. He turns from the conference table, taking his car keys from his pocket. He walks behind Lambert and suddenly in a flash he--

 

-- grabs his former partner’s forehead, jerks it back-- and BURIES A KEY deep into the side of his neck, ripping a violent gash in his flesh.

 

Ted leaps back as a torrent of BLOOD SPRAYS across the table, a fountainhead of the severed carotid artery, while the dying man jerks about violently. There’s a unified gasp as the politicians closest are hit by the squirting RED GEYSER.

 

The agents start for Ted but are halted in their tracks by:

 

 

 

VICE PRESIDENT (CONT'D)

Leave him!

 

The Vice President, understanding, slowly shakes his head. There’s nothing they can do.

 

Lambert’s head slumps, his chest drenched in blood, dead eyes open and staring.

 

The well-heeled politicians gape at each other’s blood- splattered faces and five-thousand dollar suits in sickened horror. The FBI Director wipes his dripping glasses. Blood runs down the CIA Director’s bald pate.

 

In the corner, Sam Baker and the Secretary of Defense vomit on the parquet floor.

 

Ted retrieves the itinerary, and wipes his bloody keys on Lambert’s back.

 

TED

If there’s nothing else, gentlemen...

He leaves the room. A stunned bloodbath. INT. TED’S CADILLAC - MOVING - NIGHT

Ted drives home, thinking intently.

TED (O.S.)

It didn’t take a genius to figure it out. Even if that speech about the President was true, Congress would never allow it. Our V.P. definitely had other motives.

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - NIGHT

Ted walks in. Kayley greets him with a kiss.

KAYLEY

Well? Am I looking at the next Governor?

TED

I’m afraid not. Excuse me a minute.

KAYLEY

Ted, are you okay?

TED

(hurrying away) I’m fine.

 

 

 

INT. BATHROOM - MOMENTS LATER

 

Ted hastily removes his suit jacket, shirt and tie, with their telltale speckles of blood.

 

TED (O.S.)

After the assassination he’d be sworn in, and be a virtual shoe-in next election.

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - NIGHT

Ted sits by the fire, exhausted. Kayley rubs his shoulders.

TED (O.S.)

He was a despicable lying hypocrite, the lowest human sewage. The rest of them, power hungry heedless parasites desperate to hold their jobs for another term.

 

Ted takes Kayley’s hands and kisses them, trying to hide his anger and fear.

 

INT. TED’S STUDY - DAY

Alone, Ted pores over the itinerary.

TED (O.S.)

For the next week, I tried to figure a way out.

 

INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT

Ted lies awake in the middle of the night.

TED (O.S.)

But the truth is, I knew all along what I had to do.

 

INSERT TITLE CARD: “ABSOLUTION”

CLOSE ON A COMPUTER SCREEN... it displays a MERCENARY WEBPAGE

with detailed schematic information on what appear to be do-it- yourself explosives...

 

INT. INTERNET CAFÉ - DAY

 

Ted clicks open another window concealing it as someone passes by. He’s sitting at an isolated terminal in an uncrowded internet café, using one of the anonymous computers.

 

In a small notebook on his lap he takes copious notes. He is carefully sketching a diagram of a long, thin, cylindrical device.

 

 

 

INT. TOY & HOBBY SHOP - DAY

 

Ted looks over an exhaustive selection of remote control TOY CARS on the shelf, carefully reading the boxes. He picks up one of the tiny REMOTE CONTROL units. Turns it over in his hand. It looks just like a black car door opener.

 

A CLERK asks if he needs help. Ted says no. INT. PHARMACY - DAY

Ted purchases watch batteries. He pays with cash. INT. GUN STORE - DAY

Ted purchases a can of black gunpowder. Pays cash. INT. TED’S STUDY - DAY

An open package of ribbed PLASTIC DRINKING STRAWS sits before Ted on his desk. A small tube of epoxy resin. A tuft of steel wool. A coil of small insulated wire. The gunpowder.

 

Ted, peering through reading glasses, carefully inserts a watch battery into a straw, the bottom hole having been sealed.

 

EXT. PRIVATE GOLF COURSE - MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

 

The golf course is dark and silent. A distant figure kneels at a remote sand trap.

 

CLOSE ON TED, burying the straw-bomb under the sand. MOMENTS LATER

Standing sixty feet away, Ted takes a tiny toy car REMOTE CONTROL unit from his pocket. He looks around, aims it toward the sand trap, and presses the ‘GO’ button.

 

The sand trap erupts in an ENORMOUS EXPLOSION. Ted watches expressionless.

INT. PARKING GARAGE - NIGHT

 

Ted returns to his car. The parking garage seems deserted. Ted unlocks his car with a blip, then something touches his leg and he whirls around.

 

LADY

Sorry.

 

A LADY’s German Shepherd sniffs aggressively at Ted’s leg. They came from out of nowhere. The lady pulls the dog away.

 

 

 

LADY (CONT'D)

C’mon, Raj.

 

Heart pounding, Ted watches them go. His hand moves to his pants pocket.

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT

 

Back home, in the dark, Ted removes from his pants pocket a plastic freezer bag containing several straw-bombs. He empties them on the kitchen counter. He sniffs them. Shakes each one vigorously, testing the epoxy sealed ends.

 

Silent as possible, Ted opens the dishwasher. Awkwardly, feeling very uncomfortable, he places the straw-bombs inside.

 

He closes the door, hesitates, then turns on the dishwasher. It runs quietly. He stands there looking pale and guilty.

 

EXT. MIDTOWN MANHATTAN - DAY

Establishing. Heavy TRAFFIC. Rushing city streets.

 

Ted strolls in a three-piece suit, carrying a briefcase. He turns into the entrance of a luxury hotel.

 

INT. MAJESTIC HOTEL - LOBBY - DAY

 

In the chandeliered lobby, Ted, every bit the confident business executive, shakes hands with an attractive young woman, the hotel’s BUSINESS EVENTS COORDINATOR.

 

TED

I’m Aaron Paterson, I called.

BUSINESS EVENTS COORDINATOR

Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Paterson. So you’re researching hotels for a CEO conference?

 

INT. MAJESTIC HOTEL - BANQUET HALL - DAY

 

The hotel’s spacious, magnificent ballroom is perfect for a formal speaking engagement. A storage door in back is open...

 

INT. STORAGE ROOM - CONTINUOUS

 

While the young woman watches, Ted inspects the audio visual equipment that fills the large storage room. He looks over two stand-up daises stored at the back.

 

TED

Do you use any other speaker stands?

 

 

 

BUSINESS EVENTS COORDINATOR

No, these are the only ones we use.

 

Casually Ted examines the adjustable metal gooseneck microphones.

 

TED

Say, if I wanted to bring my own microphones...

 

BUSINESS EVENTS COORDINATOR

I’m afraid they wouldn’t interface with our system. The hotel uses a custom designed, self-contained Liberty sound system, the best on the market. You’d have to use our mics.

 

Ted smiles acknowledgment and walks out, casually noting the interior lock on the storage room door.

 

TED

Thank you.

INT. BANQUET HALL - NIGHT

 

Later. The cavernous banquet hall is dark. A patrolling SECURITY GUARD peers in, walks off.

 

INT. STORAGE ROOM - SAME

 

A FLASHLIGHT goes on. Ted, crouching hidden behind the daises, stands, wincing at his cramped muscles.

 

He shines the light on his briefcase as he opens it, illuminating a variety of tools, and the freezer bag of straw- bombs.

 

Wearing rubber gloves, Ted takes out a small cordless drill. He starts to disassemble the gooseneck microphones.

 

INT. MAJESTIC HOTEL - LOBBY - LATER

 

Ted in his three-piece suit and briefcase exits calmly through the lobby, concealing his nervousness.

 

EXT. MANHATTAN - PUBLIC PAYPHONE - NIGHT

At a payphone with no one near, Ted dials.

 

He holds the itinerary before him. CLOSE-UP. His finger rests on Number 103. The Majestic Hotel.

 

PRERECORDED VOICE (O.S.)

American freedom.

 

 

 

TED

One hundred and three.

Ted hangs up.

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - NIGHT

The cliffside home is a tranquil haven in the silver moonlight. INT. COLONIAL HOME - MASTER BEDROOM - SAME

In the silky darkness, Ted slides in beside his wife in their safe warm bed. Kayley is fast asleep.

 

Ted, somber, just lies there and gazes at her beautiful, angelic face, absorbing every detail.

 

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - PATIO - DAY

 

The peaceful afternoon sound of BIRDS SINGING fills the air on the sunny patio.

 

At a table in the shade, Ted plays chess with Jennifer.

TED

Jenny. You know I’m going to this Presidential fundraiser next Saturday--

 

JENNIFER

Yeah. Twenty-five hundred bucks a plate. And people are starving in China.

 

She moves a chess piece.

TED

I know. Anyway, you know how much your mother hates those things--

 

JENNIFER

Can’t imagine why.

TED

-- so, if you don’t have plans, I thought it’d be a nice idea for you and her to go out together.

 

JENNIFER

Ladies’ night out?

Ted, staring down at the chessboard, seems distracted.

 

 

 

TED

I’ll get tickets for the Philharmonic and make reservations for Tavern on the Green. You’ll have a limo so you can go out after. How does that sound?

 

JENNIFER

Dad, the limo isn’t necessary.

TED

I don’t want to worry about you driving after a few glasses of wine, honey.

 

JENNIFER

You still treat me like I’m twelve.

Ted moves a chess piece.

TED

That’s a father’s prerogative.

Jennifer counter moves.

JENNIFER

Check. I love you.

 

Ted doesn’t even look at the chessboard. He just gazes at his daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

He smiles.

 

JENNIFER (CONT’D)

Dad? You okay?

 

 

TED

I love you so much.

 

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT

 

Bathed in soft light, Ted and Kayley lie in each other’s arms in their bed. It’s quiet and serene.

 

KAYLEY

It was so sweet of you to arrange that for me and Jenny.

(wistful)

I remember when she took her first steps.

Ted glances away, his emotions churning.

TED

Like it was yesterday.

Kayley gently caresses his cheek, bringing his face close.

 

 

 

KAYLEY

Thank you for marrying me, Ted. I do believe you saved my life.

 

Ted looks at her and swallows.

TED

God, I love you.

 

He kisses her, deeply, and holds her tight. With tenderness, they begin to make love.

 

EXT. MAJESTIC HOTEL - MANHATTAN - DAY

Terse activity.

 

It’s a humid August day, and dark-suited SECRET SERVICE AGENTS swarm the streets around the hotel. They glance furtively from behind black shades, talking via earpieces, preparing for the evening’s event. BLACK VEHICLES are everywhere.

 

There are POLICE with BOMB-SNIFFING DOGS. EXT. GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE - EVENING

An orange sunset glows. A LIMOUSINE moves through TRAFFIC over the massive suspension bridge into Manhattan.

 

INT. LIMOUSINE - MOVING - SAME

 

Ted rides alone in back. He wears a tuxedo. His DRIVER glances amiably in the rearview mirror.

 

DRIVER

Big night, Mr. Roth.

EXT. MAJESTIC HOTEL - EVENING

 

At the hotel, FORMAL GUESTS begin arriving in limos. Men in tuxedoes, women in gowns and diamonds. The area is crawling with SECRET SERVICE.

 

INT. MAJESTIC HOTEL - OUTSIDE BANQUET HALL - EVENING

 

More SECRET SERVICE are stationed outside the banquet hall, checking IDs and invitations, as the well-dressed GUESTS proceed through metal detectors. There are more POLICE with BOMB- SNIFFING DOGS.

 

Ted, passing through one of the metal detectors, retrieves his coins and keys from a bowl along the side beltway.

 

CLOSE ON HIS KEYRING, which contains an innocent black car door opener.

 

 

 

INT. BANQUET HALL - CONTINUOUS

 

The hall is resplendent. An arrangement of several dozen tables with white silk tablecloths and elegant silver and crystal place settings. CEOS and DIGNITARIES are taking assigned seats.

 

An ATTENDANT escorts Ted to his reserved table in the center of the immense room.

 

Ted glances toward the front of the room. The speaking platform is about forty feet away. The dais with the black gooseneck microphone now sports the PRESIDENTIAL SEAL.

 

Ted reaches his table. Guests greet him, the men standing. LATER...

SEVERAL HUNDRED GUESTS now fill the banquet hall. FORMAL WAITERS move among the tables serving the $2,500 dinner.

 

Ted dines on prime rib, with the wealthy guests at his table, including a CEO, his jeweled WIFE, a FOREIGN DIGNITARY.

 

CEO

I wonder how late this shindig’s gonna last tonight.

 

FOREIGN DIGNITARY

Get comfortable. Your VP is not a man of brevity.

 

CEO

Especially with the cash flow in this room. Then we’ll wait half an hour for the President to come wake us up.

 

WIFE

Why?

FOREIGN DIGNITARY

Obviously both men can’t be here at the same time. God forbid something happened.

 

The wife shudders. Ted brings a cloth napkin to his mouth. Lightly dabs perspiration from his forehead.

 

LATER...

The waiters are gone. The tables are cleared. A buzz in the room rises in anticipation.

ANGLE. Ted watches without expression.

 

 

 

From a back door, the Vice President enters, accompanied by SECRET SERVICE.

 

The room goes respectfully silent as he ascends the speaking platform and steps up to the dais.

 

Beat.

 

The Vice President leans forward, his mouth only inches from the microphone, and taps it with his finger.

 

VICE PRESIDENT

Can everyone hear m-

The microphone EXPLODES MASSIVELY.

 

The BLAST is devastating! Ceiling lights and tiles collapse in a ROAR of debris.

 

Instant panic ensues. Women SCREAM.

More Secret Service agents pour through the back door.

 

The front of the room instantly congeals in a CLOUD OF SMOKE. Guests in the first row of tables are on the floor covered in rubble.

 

People run for the exits, trampling anyone in their way.

 

ANGLE ON a huge splash of BLOOD that covers the wall behind the dais like a piece of Abstract Expressionist art. At the center of the bloody mess, sticking in the glut of blood, brains and flesh, is a shock of hair, the Vice President’s toupee.

 

SIRENS begin to wail. INT. LIMOUSINE - NIGHT

Ted climbs in the back of his limousine. It’s a confused melee outside.

 

DRIVER

(alarmed)

Mr. Roth-- what’s happened?

TED

The Vice President’s been killed. Take me home.

 

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - NIGHT

 

The windows in Ted’s immense house are dark. Moonlight and shadows cover the landscaped lawn.

 

 

 

The limo quietly departs down the long driveway and disappears out the security gate.

 

Ted stands before his house. He breathes deeply of the night air.

 

He listens to the silence.

Then he approaches his front door.

MAN (O.S.)

Is that you, Teddy?

 

Ted spins around and a GUN barrel presses to his forehead. He’s slammed against the wall.

 

MAN (CONT'D)

Move and I blow your head off.

 

The voice is familiar but Ted can’t quite see the face. Holding the gun to Ted’s head the MAN frisks him with his other hand. He finds an automatic in Ted’s breast pocket.

 

MAN (CONT’D)

Expecting trouble tonight?

He pockets Ted’s gun.

TED

What do you want? How did you get in here?

 

MAN

You think you’re such a big deal, with your fucking security gate? Let’s just say I know the right people.

 

Roughly he yanks Ted around and jams the gun between his shoulder blades.

 

MAN (CONT'D)

Let’s take a walk ‘round back. I’m gonna torture you while we stroll down memory lane.

 

TED

Who are you?

MAN

Don’t you know, Teddy?... (hard)

Turn around.

Slowly, hands up, Ted turns. He stares with lead in his stomach.

 

 

 

TED

Johnny Henderson.

JOHNNY HENDERSON, middle-aged, hardened, glares at Ted.

JOHNNY

Can you even comprehend how bad you fucked me over? You fucked me, and you fucked my family! You killed Charlie Garner and blamed it on me. You worthless piece of shit. I’ve been waiting my whole miserable life for this day.

 

TED

Johnny... you got it all wrong.

JOHNNY

No, I got it all right. And the Assembly gave me proof.

 

TED

(astounded)

What do you know about the Assembly?

JOHNNY

I work for them, asshole. They found me. But I begged for this assignment.

 

Ted’s face darkens with understanding.

TED

They set me up. They were never gonna let me go.

 

Johnny gestures toward the back of the house with the gun.

JOHNNY

(sadistic)

Move. This is gonna take awhile.

TED

(quickly)

Johnny, listen to me. They’ll kill you too.

 

JOHNNY

Shut up and move.

TED

They’re smart, that’s how they operate. They hire killers to kill killers until it’s so deep there are no fingers left to point back at them.

 

 

 

JOHNNY

Move!

 

He again gestures angrily with the gun-- and in this split second Ted seizes his hand.

 

They wrestle for the gun. Ted has a death grip on it and desperately tries to move it away when suddenly it FIRES.

 

Ted jerks in pain and clutches his abdomen. Johnny SHOOTS again but this time--

Ted has ducked and with all his strength he drives his body into Johnny’s legs, tackling Johnny to the ground.

 

Ted wrenches the gun from his hand-- and SHOOTS him in the chest.

 

Johnny convulses violently and writhes on the pavement. Ted leans down over him.

TED

(hisses)

You caused it. Everything.

JOHNNY

(gasps) You’re insane.

 

Ted shakes his head, almost in resignation.

TED

The hell of it is... I’m not.

 

He puts the barrel between Johnny’s eyes and BLOWS OUT the back of his head.

 

INT. GARAGE - MOMENTS LATER

 

In his spacious two-car garage, Ted, bare chested, stuffs his tuxedo jacket, shirt and bowtie in a plastic trash bag. Under the bright fluorescent garage lights the hole in his abdomen oozes dark crimson.

 

Fighting severe pain and loss of blood, Ted grabs an old t-shirt off a work bench, folds and presses it against his wound. He wraps duct tape around his body.

 

He pulls a work shirt off a hook and slips it on, concealing the dressed wound.

 

Then he opens the trunk of his Cadillac. Hastily he begins lining the inside with plastic trash bags.

 

 

 

EXT. PALISADES CLIFFS - NIGHT

LONG SHOT. The cliffs loom high above the Hudson River. EXT. PALISADES CLIFFS - SCENIC LOOKOUT - SAME

Breathing heavily, in agony, Ted drags Johnny’s body to the edge of the cliff.

 

Then, standing on the cliff’s edge, Ted suddenly doubles over in pain.

 

He moans, dizzy, quivering precariously above an 800-foot drop, nearly losing consciousness.

 

After a heartstopping moment, the pain subsides and he regains his balance.

 

Grunting, he manages to lift Johnny up by an arm and a leg. He swings the body for momentum, and hurls it out into the inky blackness.

 

INT. GARAGE - NIGHT

 

Back in his garage, stripped naked, Ted stuffs the rest of his soiled clothes into a trash bag.

 

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - DRIVEWAY - NIGHT

 

With the garden hose, Ted hoses down the trunk of his car, then the driveway, washing blood and other bits and pieces into the grass.

 

EXT. COLONIAL HOME - FRONT GATE - NIGHT

 

Still naked, Ted creeps out in the dark and drops the trash bag with the rest of the garbage awaiting pickup.

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - BATHROOM - NIGHT

 

Ted stands under the shower, weak. The water spray cleanses him. He painfully removes the makeshift dressing. Blood washes down his legs. It’s amazing he’s still standing.

 

TED (O.S.)

I’ve never regretted what I’ve done.

MOMENTS LATER

 

Clutching the sink for support, he finds clean gauze in the medicine cabinet. He begins taping a fresh dressing neatly over the wound.

 

 

 

INT. TED’S STUDY - NIGHT

 

Leaning against his desk, Ted opens a drawer and takes out a handheld tape recorder.

 

TED (O.S.)

No matter how we judge our sins... the fact remains...

 

INT. COLONIAL HOME - HALLWAY - NIGHT

 

Ted, wobbly, pauses at the open doorway of his and Kayley’s bedroom. He looks inside, emotions, memories, tormenting his face.

 

TED (O.S.)

One inhuman act... equals one inhuman act.

 

He continues down the hall. Enters a small, white guest bedroom instead.

 

INT. BEDROOM - THE PRESENT - NIGHT

In the small, stark white bedroom, Ted lies dying.

 

His breathing is slow, almost nonexistent. The tape recorder rests on his barely moving chest.

 

TED

This is my absolution.

Slowly, he moves his hand to the tape recorder. He presses STOP.

 

CLOSE on his blood-sticky finger. It drags to the REWIND button. Presses it. The recorder whirs as the tape rewinds back to the beginning.

 

FADE TO:

CLICK.

 

Ted opens his eyes, having lost consciousness for a moment. The recorder has stopped, rewound.

 

Beat.

His expression is unreadable.

 

Then, with all his strength, he brings the tape recorder to his face and squints at the buttons, his vision failing... and he presses...

 

RECORD. The machine hums quietly back to life.

 

 

 

He speaks into the recorder.

TED (CONT'D)

I love you, Kayley. I love you, Jennifer. (pause)

I’m so sorry...

His voice trails off as he drops the unit back on his chest.

 

Ted lies motionless, glassy-eyed. For the first time in his adult life, TEARS trickle down his cheeks.

 

His eyes close.

The tape recorder continues to record nothing but silence.

FADE OUT

 

THE END


Submitted: May 04, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Edmund. All rights reserved.

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