Put The Gun Down

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

A police officer confronts a murder suspect, a fellow ex-Army, and must decide between his oath to uphold the law and loyalty to his brother-in-arms.

FADE IN:

INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM - MORNING

Sunshine streams through windows. Casts long shadows.

A shapely woman (33) slumps against the living room wall. Blood from a gunshot wound to her upper abdomen coagulates on both sides of her belly. It stains her lace babydoll and the carpeting.

Her head pitches forward, her chin rests on her chest. Her long black hair falls across her face and drapes across her breasts.

Sergeant Chip Reed (52), bulbous frame, graying, short, glasses. Waddles over to the body. Checks his watch.

CHIP: Where the hell is he?

Officer Billy Nelson (31), tall, weight-lifter physique, sandy blonde.  Kneels beside the woman’s body. Looks closely at the wound site.

BILLY: Who, Sarge?

CHIP: Always got time to show off his fancy-schmancy new camera.

Billy watches Chip mimic taking photos.

CHIP (CONT’D): But he ain’t got no time to work a crime scene.

BILLY: Some guys are into photography, Sarge.

CHIP: Well, la-di-da, who gives a crap? He can stick his camera where the sun don’t--

BILLY: Come on, Sarge!

CHIP: We need him here... Now! (beat) You bring a dusting kit?

BILLY: No. I thought only Jack--

CHIP: Nothing but schlubs. That’s what Lord Jack thinks of us.

Billy shrugs. Resumes examining the body.

Chip pivots on his doughboy legs. Glances around the room.

CHIP (CONT’D): And look at this place, Billy. It’s a dump.

Chip bends. Runs his finger across a lamp table’s top. His ill-fitting suit coat and shirt buttons strain to pop.

CHIP (CONT’D): Got to be a month’s worth of dust here.

Billy cocks his head toward Chip.

BILLY: Classic displaced aggression.

CHIP: Say what?

BILLY: You’re angry at Jack, and he’s not here, so you--

Billy glances at Chip’s blank facial expression. Drops the explanation.

CHIP: That a-hole better get here soon.

Chip shuffles around the room. Notes the placement of the body and the room’s furnishings: a sofa, a mismatched chair, side and coffee tables, a bookcase, and a fireplace with a mantel.

Several framed photos are positioned on the mantel and in the bookcase, and discount-store reproductions hung randomly around the room.

 

INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY - SAME

Chip meanders toward the powder room. Two shoulder-high, fist-sized holes puncture the wall near the door frame. Notes their size and location.

Opens the powder room door. Flips on the light. Looks in.

CHIP: Ain’t much better in here.

BILLY (O.S.): What?

CHIP: Skip it.

 

INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM - SAME

Billy leans closer to the body. Shines his flashlight around the wound.

BILLY: Hey, Sarge. Something doesn’t add up.

CHIP (O.S.): Like what?

Chip returns to the living room.

BILLY: Don’t powder burns suggest suicide?

CHIP: Jack’s late, Billy, but that don’t mean you can drive in his lane.

BILLY: But, Sarge.

CHIP: You’re the new kid on the block, Billy, still wet behind the ears, and a dozen other clichés. But you’ll learn soon enough that everybody’s staked out a kingdom in our quaint little metropolis, so don’t get off on the wrong foot by laying siege to someone else’s castle.

BILLY: It still doesn’t add up.

CHIP: I won’t tell you again, Billy. Don’t do anything to muck up my pension.

BILLY: Okay, Sarge.

Billy jots a few notes. Gathers. Tags some specimens.

Chip resumes surveying the first floor.

Billy’s head jerks toward the window at the sound of a vehicle screeching to a stop at the curb. Stands. Glances out the window.

BILLY: Hey, Sarge. You won’t believe who just arrived.

CHIP (O.S.): Better be Jack.

Chip lumbers to a window for a look.

CHIP (CONT’D): Son of a bitch!

 

EXT. APARTMENT PARKING LOT - SAME

A police cruiser screeches to a stop at the curb.

Chief Raymond Duggan (46) is tall with a receding hairline, V-shaped torso, bulging biceps, and uniform creases sharp enough to slice bread. 

Exits the vehicle. Quickly scans the area. Glances at his reflection in the side window. Adjusts his uniform. Squares his hat on his head. Turns. Marches to the front door.

 

INT. APARTMENT LIVING ROOM - SAME

Chip’s whole body stiffens.

CHIP: What the hell?

Chip pokes his finger in Billy’s face.

CHIP (CONT’D): Look sharp, Billy, and don’t speak unless he asks you directly. Got that?

Billy nods.

BILLY: Sure, Sarge. Whatever you say.

Moments later, Chief Duggan fills the living room doorway like a WWF wrestler ready to rumble. Removes his aviator-style sunglasses. His piercing, cobalt-blue eyes announce that he is taking charge.

CHIP: Always a pleasure, Chief.

Chip nods. Purses his lips.

CHIP (CONT’D): Why the interest?

CHIEF DUGGAN: None in particular.

Chief Duggan glances at the body.

CHIEF DUGGAN (CONT’D): So what we got?

CHIP: Not much. Marsha Winston. Mid-thirties. Shot once, close range, upper abdomen, under her big--

CHIEF DUGGAN: When it happen?

Billy chimes in.

BILLY: Last night or early this morning. Since she’s wearing... (gulps) She’s wearing a nighty.

CHIP: A nighty? (chuckles) That’s not what I’d call it. Barely covers her--

Chief Duggan clears his throat.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Those sensitivity classes didn’t help you one bit, did they, Chip?

BILLY: Blood’s already dried, so I’m guessing last night.

CHIP: M.E.’s on her way. She’ll nail it down.

CHIEF DUGGAN: What’s keeping her?

Chip shakes his head.

CHIP: Dunno. Usually, Johnny-on-the-spot.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Weapon?

CHIP: No. Teams are looking in the usual dump sites.

Chip points to the wall behind the body.

CHIP (CONT’D): No bullet holes neither, so they’re still in her. M.E. will have to dig ‘em out.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Jeez, Chip.

Chip raises his eyebrows.

CHIP: Huh? What’d I say?

Chief Duggan twirls his sunglasses in his hand. Notices the streak Chip’s finger left in the dust on the tabletop.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Any shell casings?

CHIP: Nope. Not unusual, though. Depends on the weapon.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Right.

Chief Duggan turns on his heel. Glances around the room.

CHIEF DUGGAN (CONT’D): She leave a note?

CHIP: Didn’t find one.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Rules-out suicide, then.

CHIP: Husband’s the likely suspect in my book.

Billy steps forward.

BILLY: I’m not convinced.

Chip elbows Billy in his ribs. Whispers.

CHIP: I told you not to--

CHIEF DUGGAN: What’s that...ah...Nelson, isn’t it? The new man on the Force?

Billy grins from ear to ear.

BILLY: Yes, Chief. Billy Nelson. (beat) Don’t powder burns suggest a self-inflicted wound?

CHIP: I told him not to--

CHIEF DUGGAN: That’s what we need, Chip.

Chief Duggan’s face beams. Extends his hand to shake Billy’s hand. Clamps it like a vise.

Billy winces.

CHIEF DUGGAN (CONT’D): New, young blood.

Chief Duggan pumps Billy’s hand in a hearty handshake.

CHIEF DUGGAN (CONT’D): You work out, Nelson? Lift weights?

Chief Duggan releases Billy’s hand.

BILLY: Some.

Billy steps backward. Flexes his hand.

Chief Duggan gestures toward Billy.

CHIEF DUGGAN: A physique like that is something worth aiming for, wouldn’t you say so, Chip?

Chip’s nostrils flare. Ears turns red-hot color. Jaw clenches.

CHIP: He was sayin’ something about powder burns... Maybe, a self-inflicted wound, Chief.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Yes, he was, but without a weapon, it’s unlikely, wouldn’t you say, Chip?

Chip hesitates. Tries to relax.

CHIP: I-I guess so, Chief.

Chief Duggan gives the room another quick look-see. Starts toward the fireplace mantel.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Where are the lab boys?

Chip glances at his watch.

CHIP: Should’ve been here already.

Chief Duggan spins around.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Still celebrating the holiday?

Chip tries to suppress a sneer. Corners of his mouth turn up. Cheeks bulge.

CHIP: Jack’s not a morning person.

Chief Duggan bares his teeth. Clenches his eyebrows.

CHIEF DUGGAN: He’ll be if Sergeant Martian wants to keep his cushy job.

Chip looks at Billy. Corners of his lips curl up into a full smile.

Chief Duggan folds his sunglasses. Puts them in his breast pocket. Pivots. Stomps to the mantel. Studies each photo.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Did the neighbors hear anything?

CHIP: It was the 4th, Chief.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Still...a gunshot. Someone should’ve--

CHIP: Officers are going door-to-door, but I’m not too hopeful.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Any prior calls to this address?

Chip checks an app on his smartphone.

CHIP: We got three calls in the last four months...two-seventy-three Ds.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Who called?

CHIP: Neighbors thought George was beating his wife. ‘Winston’s were going at it, tooth and claw,’ they said.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Any arrests?

CHIP: None. Peaceful as lovebird when we arrived.

Chief Duggan leans closer to a photo.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Take a look at this one, Chip.

Chip comes over. Lifts his glasses. Leans closer.

CHIP: Army?

Billy’s head jerks around.

BILLY: Lemme see.

Billy hurries to examine the photo. Leans in.

BILLY (CONT’D): Not regular, a special unit of some kind. Don’t recognize the insignias, though.

CHIEF DUGGAN: You were Army. That right?

BILLY: A lifetime ago.

Chip spies another photo on the bookcase.

CHIP: He’s big as an ox, too. George E. Winston. Corporal, U.S. Army. (chuckles) Georgie.

BILLY: I’ve heard of him.

Chip’s head spins around.

CHIP: How?

BILLY: VFW.

Billy glances at the bookcase photo.

BILLY: I’d never call him Georgie, Sarge.

CHIEF DUGGAN: What we got so far, Chip? Perp shoots the wife, probably the husband. Close range. How quickly can we find Mr. Winston?

BILLY: Got a contact who might know.

Chip turns up the corner of his upper lip.

CHIP: Billy’s tripping all over this one, Chief.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Okay... You need to teach him the ropes anyway before you retire, Chip. When is that?

Chip clenches his jaw. His fist.

CHIP: I’ll announce it when I’m ready, Chief.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Well, then...right...be sure to take Chip as a backup.

Billy shakes his head.

BILLY: He’ll skedaddle if any strangers show.

CHIP: Billy needs to get his feet wet, Chief. Once he locates George, we’ll send a team and pick him up.

Chief Duggan ponders for a moment. Nods approval.

CHIEF DUGGAN: Okay, Chip. It’s against my better judgment, but either way, this is on you.

 

EXT. ABE’S WAREHOUSE - THAT SAME NIGHT

The moon and stars shine in a black, cloudless sky. A light southwest breeze stirs the warm, humid air.

Dimly lighted street leads to the warehouse. Seedy, graffiti-covered buildings, trash bins, and debris flank the approach.

Abe’s warehouse is a tall, rundown, one-story brick structure with a loading dock and shutter door. A single high-intensity security lamp lights the front.

Billy parks near the loading dock. Gets out of his car. Listens.

All is quiet.

Billy stretches his arms and takes a deep breath.

BILLY: (to himself) Ain’t no camels around here, Billy Boy. Stay calm.

Billy quickly scans the area. Hesitates. Closes the car door. Walks to the side door of Abe’s. Goes inside.

 

INT. ABE’S WAREHOUSE - SAME

Minimal overhead lighting creates deep shadows between the high rows of neatly stacked pallets of goods and supplies. A forklift parks to one side. Ropes, boxes, and debris clutter the floor. Odors from pallets, equipment, dust, debris, and the musty, oldness of the building permeate the hot, humid, still air.

Billy clears his throat. Walks to the middle of the staging area. Yells.

BILLY: Kyle. Kyle, it’s Billy. Billy Nelson.

George Winston (38) steps from the shadows. The light shines on a bearded, balding, six-foot-six hulk of a man. His right arm hangs by his side. A gun dangles in his hand. His finger is on its trigger.

Billy recoils when he approaches. 

George wipes the sweat off his brow with the back of his left hand.

GEORGE: Kyle said you’d be comin’. You alone?

Billy puts his hand on his weapon. Steps backward.

BILLY: Winston? George Winston?

George nods.

GEORGE: Yeah, that’s me, all right.

BILLY: Where...? (swallows) Where’s Kyle?

George gestures with his left thumb.

GEORGE: In the back.

Billy takes a step toward George.

GEORGE (CONT’D): He’s drunk as a skunk. (chuckles) As usual... Whatcha want with me anyhow?

Billy extends his left upturned hand toward George.

BILLY: Got some bad news, George.

George takes a deep breath. Lets it out slowly. Nods.

GEORGE: Yeah...I already know.

Billy takes another step toward George. Stops.

BILLY: You don’t seem all that put out.

George shrugs his shoulders.

GEORGE: I ain’t.

George glances to the side of the room. Avoids eye-contact.

GEORGE (CONT’D): Kyle said you wanted to see me. What for?

BILLY: Some questions.

Billy gestures with his left thumb toward the door.

BILLY (CONT’D): Down at the station.

George raises his left palm toward Billy. Shakes it.

GEORGE: No way, man.

George steps backward.

Billy curls his left fingers in the shape of a gun. Points to his belly.

BILLY: Shot. Close range. We just wanna talk.

George shakes his head.

GEORGE: Can’t do it...

Without warning, the color drains from George’s face. His body trembles. Staggers left. Slowly shuffles in a circle. Rubs his head. Then extends both arms to steady himself.

The episode passes. Both arms hang at his side.

GEORGE (CONT’D): It don’t never let go of you, man.

BILLY: We’ll talk at the station.

Billy motions with his palm pointing toward the floor.

BILLY (CONT’D): Put the gun down, George. Drop it on the floor.

George hits the side of his head with his left fist.

GEORGE: It’s always in here, don’t let you have no peace.

BILLY: Come with me, George. First, you gotta--

GEORGE: Rico, Tony, Joey, Sal, Carlos. (beat) They’re all gone.

George staggers backward.

GEORGE (CONT’D): Dead, every one of ‘em. But their faces, their voices.

He pounds his head with his left fist.

GEORGE (CONT’D): Still up here.

George presses his left palm against his eye socket. Massages his brow.

GEORGE (CONT’D): All the time, man. I can’t sleep, hold a job. I’m at fault, always to blame. Her nagging never ends.

George swishes his head from side to side.

GEORGE (CONT’D): She don’t understand.

BILLY: We can get you help, George.

George waves off Billy’s offer.

GEORGE: Tried that. Didn’t work none.

BILLY: Put--

Billy takes another step toward George.

BILLY: Put the gun on the floor, George, and come with me.

George looks up. His eyes wander from one overhead light to the other.

Sweat runs down Billy’s temples and his neck. Patches of moisture darken his uniform’s collar, armpits, the small of his back, and its front, over his pecs.

He watches George’s every move. Billy clenches his jaw. Closes his fingers around the grip of his weapon. Muscles in his forearm tighten.

George fixes his eyes on the light high above Billy’s head. Takes a deep breath. Exhales. Cocks his head to one side.

GEORGE: You married?

Billy scrunches his face, puzzled.

George tilts his head toward Billy. His brow furls.

GEORGE (CONT’D): Your hearing bad or something? I asked if you was married?

Billy relaxes his fingers. Shakes his head.

BILLY: No.

GEORGE: Ever been?

Billy nods.

BILLY: Yeah. (beat) Once.

GEORGE: She leave you?

Billy shakes his head again.

BILLY: No.

His fingers tighten on his weapon again as the memories come flooding back.

BILLY (CONT’D): Before I did something I’d regret, I left her.

GEORGE: Then you understand, man.

Billy lowers his left arm to his side.

GEORGE (CONT’D): Marsha kept hounding me. Night and day. Wouldn’t never stop. I guess she had enough of me punching them holes in them walls, screaming, and waking up at night. (beat) ‘Get help,’ she kept yelling. But there ain’t no help for what’s in my head. It don’t never stop messing with me, man. It never stops.

George wipes the tears from his eyes.

GEORGE (CONT’D): I couldn’t take her no more. So... So I shot her dead.

Billy steps backward. Eyebrows rise. Eyes open wide.

BILLY: What?

George’s head jerks toward Billy.

GEORGE: Get your freaking ears checked, dude! I shot her! Shot her dead, man.

Billy unholsters his weapon. Levels it on George.

BILLY: Gotta take you in, George.

George yanks his gun halfway up toward Billy.

Billy and George circle left then right. Jockey for position. A standoff.

BILLY (CONT’D): Don’t make it any worse, George. Put down your gun.

George shakes his gun. Shakes his upturned hand. Protests.

GEORGE: No way, man.

BILLY: Take it easy, George.

Billy white-knuckles the grip on his weapon with his right hand. Motions palm-down with his left.

BILLY: I can get you help, but you have to--

George shouts.

GEORGE: I ain’t going to no jail.

BILLY: Come on, George. Lower your gun and drop it on the floor.

George plants both feet. Crouches toward Billy.

GEORGE: I’ll shoot you before I--

BILLY: (soothing tone) I just wanna talk, George. Can we talk? Comrade to comrade?

George relaxes his stance. Lowers his arm and gun toward the floor.

Billy relaxes his grip. Still aims at George’s chest.

GEORGE: How’s about you radioing and sending your cop-buddies in the other direction while I go east. Brothers-in-arms have to stick together.

Billy waves him off.

BILLY: Can’t do that, George. I swore to uphold--

George backs toward the shadows.

GEORGE: Go f**k yourself, man.

George raises his gun again.

Billy grips his weapon with both hands. Steadies his aim.

BILLY: George! Don’t!

Billy fires twice.

Two bullets puncture George’s chest. The impact forces George backward. He falls. Sprawls on the floor. Hand still clutches his gun. Blood oozes from the chest wound. Soaks his shirt. A pool of blood spreads on the concrete floor.

Billy stands over George’s body.

BILLY: S**t!

Kyle Morgan (39), a short man wearing wrinkled and soiled shirt and pants, unzipped, shirttail flapping, and blurry-eyed, stumbles out of the shadows. Rubs his eyes with the heels of his palms.

KYLE: What the hell’s all the racket?

Billy glances toward Kyle. Steps backward. Weapon hangs in his hand.

BILLY: George was going to shoot me.

Kyle squints at the gun. At Billy.

KYLE: Doubt it.

Billy pants. Waves his weapon toward George’s body.

BILLY: Was him or me, Kyle. Me or him.

Billy staggers backward. Wipes the sweat off his brow. Wipes it out of his eyes.

Kyle pries the Pinovk toy pistol from George’s hand. Holds it for Billy to see. Gestures with his thumb over his shoulder.

KYLE: Got a whole pallet of these in back. Like the real thing. Kids love ‘em.

Billy’s face scrunches in disbelief. Protests.

BILLY: Said he killed his wife.

Kyle laughs.

KYLE: Marsha? No way, Billy. Ole Georgie was so far round the bend he’d confess to offing Jimmy Hoffa if you’d ask him.

Kyle shoves the toy gun in his belt.

KYLE (CONT’D): Marsha shot herself. An accident.

The muscles in Billy’s face sag. Jaw drops. Cheeks droop. Mouth opens. Body trembles. Knees buckle. He catches himself. Stands erect.

KYLE (CONT’D): They were fighting again... She got out the gun Georgie gave her for protection. One thing led to another; they struggled, and the gun went off. Well, you know the rest.

Billy leans toward Kyle. Arms spread wide. Shouts.

BILLY: And you believed him?

Kyle cocks his head.

KYLE: First month on the job, Billy.

Billy back-peddles. He raises his hand. Shakes his head.

BILLY: No. No. Nooo. He did it, I tell you.

KYLE: And already a black spot.

Billy looks away for a moment. Faces Kyle.

BILLY: He confessed!

Kyle points toward the back office.

KYLE: Wanna see Marsha’s gun?

Billy turns away.

BILLY: No need.

KYLE: It’s on my desk, Billy.

Kyle shuffles toward the back office.

Billy pivots. Shouts.

BILLY: Stop.

Kyle stops.

BILLY (CONT’D): Gotta think this through. Gotta put two and two together.

Billy stumbles backward. Feet entangle in a pile of rope. Falls back.

BILLY (CONT’D): What the--

He hits the nape of his neck on the tapered prong of the nearby forklift. Impales himself on it.

Kyle recoils at the sound of metal crunching bone. Rushes to check Billy. Kneels. Feels for a pulse -- nothing.

Stands. Looks at George. At Billy.

Hurries to the back room. Returns with the gun. Puts on a pair of gloves. Wipes his prints off the gun. Puts it in George’s hand. Fires two shots toward the forklift.

Kyle cleans his gloves. Removes them. Hides them.

Takes out his phone and walks over to Billy’s body. Presses 9-1-1.

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): Clearfield Police. What is your emergency?

Kyle screams into his phone.

KYLE: Send cops! Two dead!

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): Calm down, sir. Say again.

In a calmer voice.

KYLE: Officer Nelson shot it out with George Winston. Both dead.

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): What’s your name?

KYLE: Kyle Morgan

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): Okay. What’s your location?

KYLE: Abe’s Imports, 288 Harvard.

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): When did this happen?

KYLE: Just now.

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): You injured?

KYLE: No. I’m fine. Just send help.

911 OPERATOR (V.O.): Officers and EMS are on their way. Should arrive in a few minutes. I can stay on the line until they--

KYLE: Thanks. I’ll be okay.

Kyle ends the call. Looks down at Billy’s body.

KYLE: Brothers-in-arms gotta stick together, Billy.

Kyle walks to an open bin of toy guns. Takes the toy gun from his belt. Pitches it onto the pile.

Returns to the staging area. Leans against a pallet of supplies. Slides to the floor.

Rehearses aloud his version of how Billy and George died.

The wail of sirens grows louder by the moment.

The End:


Submitted: September 15, 2021

© Copyright 2021 DRayVan. All rights reserved.

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