Justice Delayed Episode 10

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Vince and Meixiang are forced by Randall to do a series of humiliating chores for him and conspires to escape Randall’s grasp. Detectives Jones and Penniman search for Vince, Ashton, Randall and Meixiang. Ashton is tasked with expanding business in Dallas but has trouble initially.

JUSTICE DELAYED

 

“AUTONOMY”

 

TV-MA DL

 

“It’s a thing that’s worth having, yes I would. Buys you your life, sir, if it could. I, I want you, autonomy”

  • Steve Diggle

 

(We open on Vince and Meixiang sitting in a sedan one cold morning outside the Dallas Food Mart. They are staring blankly ahead, horrors dancing through their eyes as the radio plays)

 

RADIO DJ: Morning, Dallas, it’s Friday, 19th of February 2016, DFW is a chilly 52 degrees. Here at the station, we’re getting excited for the UIL Boys’ Basketball season, I got a kid on the team, so excuse the shameless plug. But forget my kid, I’m looking at Marques Bolden, the center from DeSoto, this kid stands at almost seven feet tall, and not only is he an expert player, he’s not bad looking either. I’m pretty sure he’s 18, so I’ll just say for the record that I would smash. (DJ clears his throat) Traffic is looking okay-

 

(Vince turns off the radio and looks over at Meixiang)

 

VINCE: Are you ready?

 

MEIXIANG: Nope.

 

VINCE: …I know, but. Are you ready enough?

 

MEIXIANG: …Yeah…

 

(Vince and Meixiang get out of the car and walk toward Food Mart. At the edge of the lot, there’s a lanky man in a green jacket leaning against a Camaro, smoking a cigarette and keeping an eye on Vince and Meixiang. Vince gives him a stink eye as the walk into Food Mart. Randall is behind the counter, reading the Dallas Morning News. The headline reads “MARQUES BOLDEN: PERHAPS HOTTER THAN HELL??” and the side story reads “Poll Shows Trump up 16 points in Nevada”. Randall looks up)

 

RANDALL: Right on time, good.

 

(Randall puts the newspaper down as Vince and Meixiang take their places right before the counter, lined up like army privates)

 

VINCE: Meixiang and I were talking, we thought maybe I should taste test all the expired items today instead of her.

 

RANDALL: Nah, I ain’t having you guys do that shit anymore, I already know the expired shit is good for another few weeks.

 

MEIXIANG: Oh, good.

 

RANDALL: Y’all gonna do real gangsta shit today. (Randall stands up) When I moved to Denver, I lost a bit of my foothold here in the Big D. I’ve been tryin’ to get it back. Y’all need to go out there and drum my protection racket back up.

 

VINCE: Randall, with all due respect, and- and I mean that, um, for all we know Denver PD has put the pieces together and they’ve alerted other major departments to be on the look-out for us.

 

MEIXIANG: Yeah, I’m amazed they haven’t found you, considering you own two Food Marts-

 

RANDALL: I don’t own this shit. I mean. I don’t own it on paper, that is. Look, y’all are safe here. I’m not a dummy, I been ducking cops my whole life. And I keep track of the news, and y’all aren’t a national story yet, so buck up and go out to these places and twist some arms. Here. (Randall throws Vince a list) Remember to drop my name, ‘cause they’ll know it.

 

(Vince and Meixiang lean into read the list)

 

MEIXIANG: Oh, shit.

 

VINCE: No fucking way.

 

(Cut to Vince driving Meixiang in the Sedan. They both look petrified and miserable as “Hello” by Adele quietly plays over the radio. Bryan is following their car in his Camaro)

 

MEIXIANG: …It’s bad enough that we’re shaking down small businesses for protection money, but a fucking funeral home?!

 

VINCE: And that’s not even the worst one on there.

 

MEIXIANG: Wasn’t killing Huang Ping punishment enough!?

 

VINCE: Not for him. We tried to abandon him up in the mountains, and you’ve seen what this guy does to people who do things behind his back.

 

MEIXIANG: It’s only been a week, and I’m not sure how much more I can take.

 

VINCE: Hey, well, you know… listen to those LGBT youth centers and just think; “it gets better”.

 

MEIXIANG: Does it?! Randall has his guys taking shifts FOLLOWING US!

 

VINCE: Admittedly, it will probably get worse before it gets better.

 

MEIXIANG: You know, I’ve kept thinking that these past six months, but I’m beginning to think it’s just going to get worse before it gets worse.

 

VINCE: …I know. (Vince puts his hand on her leg) We’ll find a way. But. Right now, we need to stay alive.

 

(Meixiang nods. Cut to Vince and Meixiang standing in front of a dead body in a casket, in the middle of a casket store)

 

MEIXIANG: Unlike this guy, huh?

 

(Vince furrows his brow)

 

VINCE: What?

 

MEIXIANG: What?

 

VINCE: I said, “I wonder where the owner is” and you said “unlike this guy, huh”?

 

MEIXIANG: Oh. Sorry, I was thinking about something you said earlier.

 

(The proprietor of the funeral home, a slender black man with a wispy mustache and wearing a full, dusty suit, is standing on the other side of funeral home, comforting a grieving family. He pats their backs and wanders over to Vince and Meixiang)

 

PROPRIETOR: Daedalus Ferngully, pleasure to meet you two.

 

VINCE: Your name is Daedalus, like the character in Greek mythology?

 

DAEDALUS: Yes, that’s right, it’s a family name. Can I help you?

 

(Meixiang and Vince look at one another and then look back at Daedalus)

 

MEIXIANG: We represent a security contractor called “Fight Mart”.

 

VINCE: We understand this is a rough area of Dallas, and I would assume you handle a lot of gang funerals and such, so we thought maybe you could use some muscle to keep yourself and your merchandise safe.

 

DAEDALUS: Do you find, in your line of work, that criminals often pilfer caskets and flower arrangements? Is this a common occurrence?

 

(Meixiang sighs)

 

MEIXIANG: There is a dead guy right here…

 

VINCE: Listen, I hear you, but what if, for the sake of argument, somebody tried to set this place on fire?

 

DAEDALUS: Well, then whatever organized crime syndicate you represent wouldn’t have a funeral home to extort for protection money.

 

(Vince and Meixiang look stunned)

 

MEIXIANG: …Dude, just give us money or we’ll hurt you, fuck!

 

(Cut to Vince and Meixiang talking to a heavyset, middle-aged woman with a curly, short haircut, rosy cheeks and a white polo shirt with an insignia reading “Children’s Courtyard, Fort Worth” and a nametag reading ‘Shelby”. She’s standing in the middle of a play room full of children aged 6-12, playing with blocks and toy cars. The woman has a child gripping her leg. Meixiang is covering her face with her hands, enveloped in shame. Vince looks very uncomfortable)

 

VINCE: I’m just saying, you’ve read the news, you’ve gotten the Amber alerts, you could use some around-the-clock security here.

 

SHELBY: Oh, we’re good, I have my hands a little full, you guys-

 

CHILD: Ms. Shelby, take the fish outta the fish tank, I wanna play with ‘em!!!

 

SHELBY: So, if you could see yourselves out-

 

VINCE: Real quick, I’ve heard, there’s, uh- (Vince looks down in shame) been… a lotta… child-gobbling monsters lurking around town…

 

(Shelby’s mouth goes agape. Children start crying in fear as Meixiang rubs her eyes furiously)

 

CHILD ON LEG: WHAT?!

 

CHILD PLAYING WITH BLOCKS: MS. SHELBY!!!

 

LITTLE GIRL: PAY HIM WHAT HE WANTS, MS. SHELBY!!!

 

(Shelby narrows her eyes at Vince as he looks down with shame. Cut to Vince and Meixiang speaking with a nurse in the common room of a nursing home. They’re surrounded by sad, sick and despondent elderly people)

 

MEIXIANG: So, the fee is $700 a month-

 

NURSE DARLA: $700, my God. (Darla turns to the residents) We’re gonna have to cancel the party for Georgina’s 90th, you guys.

 

(Groans fill the room as Darla turns back to them. Meixiang clutches her hair, as if trying not to pull it out. Vince gulps deeply. Cut to Vince and Meixiang standing at the bar of a place called  “Dallas Comedy House”. Vince is trying to hail a bartender. Finally, a woman named Sallie in a red DCH shirt, sporting  glasses and curly hair, swings over)

 

SALLIE: Hi, what can I get you?

 

VINCE: We were wondering if you needed some security detail, given how rough this area is. We can provide that for you.

 

SALLIE: You wanna talk to my boss, Amanda. (Sallie turns toward the kitchen) Amanda?

 

(Amanda emerges. She’s a built brunette with medium-length hair, a serious demeanor and is around mid to late 30s)

 

AMANDA: What is it? (Sallie points to Vince and Meixiang) Hi, can I help you?

 

MEIXIANG: No, and neither can anyone else.

 

VINCE: Meixiang means, yes we can! There’s  been a ton of crime around here, vagrants knifing old ladies, ladies kicking your kids in the face-

 

AMANDA: My kids?

 

VINCE: Could be! One day!

 

AMANDA: I don’t have kids. Let’s talk over here.

 

(Vince and Meixiang walk over to a doorway to a back office. Amanda goes through the kitchen and meets them at that entrance)

 

VINCE: We can provide you around-the-clock security to protect you from the child-gobblers-

 

AMANDA: I’m not interested, thank you. (Amanda starts to walk away, but Vince grabs her shoulder.  She throws his hand off and turns to him with fury in his eyes) Don’t you fucking dare.

 

(Vince holds his hands up)

 

VINCE: Hey, I’m not trying to ruffle feathers-

 

MEIXIANG: Vince, let’s go.

 

AMANDA: Yes, you should go.

 

(Meixiang pulls Vince away)

 

VINCE: Alright, alright, well, contact me if you change your mind.

 

(Meixiang drags Vince away)

 

AMANDA: Oh yeah, I’ll  just call your name  in the wind, asshole!

 

(Cut to a close-up of a pinboard. A high school yearbook photo of Ashton Delay is pinned up on it. A piece of tape reading “LAST SEEN: 2/11/16” is placed under it. Then a faculty photo of Vince Hall is placed right beside Ashton’s, with the same piece of tape reading the same thing placed under it. Then an old mugshot of Randall Stewart placed right beside that with the same piece of tape. A workplace and a black-and-white photo of Meixiang Zhou from ChemChina right next to that. Punch out to see Detectives Penniman, Jones and Tiller in a conference room at the police station. Cups of coffee and half-finished pastries litter the table as they stare at the pinboard. Tiller still has a large “pregnant” belly, though it seems to be a pregnancy prosthetic rather than a watermelon now. Tiller takes a sip of coffee as he looks at the board)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: …Isn’t coffee bad for the baby?

 

(Penniman stifles a laugh as Tiller puts his coffee down)

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: I’m sorry to hear that female solidarity is funny to you.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: I guess on some level, I respect your intentions, but my God, man. What if you need to run in the field?

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: Pregnant women are the strongest people you’ll ever meet, so trust me I’ll be fine.

 

(Penniman rolls his eyes)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: So, all we know is as soon as we round up those Crips, Ashton Delay and Randall Stewart both disappear into thin air. And so do these two CU Denver Professors, both of which were arrested while associating with Ashton Delay.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: And we’re still trying to get a search warrant for his house, what the hell is the hold-up there!?

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: The evidence against Vince is circumstantial. And we still don’t know where Randall’s hideout is, thanks to NSM killing all those Crips.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: At least we were able to get info out of a few of them before they got whacked.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Those NSM bastards ought to be shot, execution-style, by their families. Degenerates.

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: Ah. (Tiller clutches his belly) I don’t want him to hear such negative language, he needs some Mozart to nourish his mind.

 

(Tiller takes out his phone and plays “Piano Sonata No. 11” to his belly. A middle-aged Latina Police Captain named Ramirez pokes her head in)

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: Guys, we think we may have found Randall’s hideout. Let’s go.

 

(Jones, Penniman and Tiller follow Ramirez out of the room. Tiller looks nervous. Cut to Ramirez, Tiller, Penniman and Jones, guns drawn, bulletproof vests on, stealthing up to the mountaintop cabin where Randall and his associates hid out. Penniman and Jones flank the door as Tiller and a uniformed cop bring a battering ram to the door. Ramirez stands behind them. Jones counts down from five with his fingers, and then the battering ram destroys the door and allows Penniman, Jones, Tiller and Ramirez to bust in with their guns pointed. Penniman goes to the living room)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: POLICE!

 

(Jones runs into the living room and sees no one)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP, COCKSUCKER!

 

(Tiller and a couple of uniforms rush upstairs, and Ramirez runs into the ground floor bedroom. Everyone returns to the living room, except for Penniman, who’s in the dining room still)

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: It’s clear.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Goddamnit.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: (OS) Guys, come in here.

 

(They all move to the dining room, where Penniman is standing over a tape recorder that’s sitting on the table. Penniman picks it up and plays it back)

 

VINCE: (On tape, affecting a deep voice) Listen, you punks. Don’t even think about retaliating. We’re bad MOFOS and we’ll go after your kids, man-

 

RANDALL: (On tape) Stop.

 

VINCE: (On tape, regular voice) What?!

 

(The recording stops)

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: Holy shit, are those Vince and Randall’s voices?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Sounds like it, Captain.

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: Come on, we don’t know for sure-

 

DETECTIVE JONES: I do. And I think even a Marxist Judge liked Judge Marx will agree.  (Detective Tiller gulps deeply. Cut to Detectives Penniman, Jones and Tiller busting into Vince’s apartment) POLICE!

 

(Tiller, Jones and Penniman inspect the rooms and then gather in the living room, putting their guns away)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: It’s clear.

 

(Captain Ramirez enters with some uniformed cops.

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: Tear the place apart.

 

DETECTIVE TILLER: Yes, Captain.

 

(Tiller goes to look. But Ramirez grabs his shoulder)

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: Actually, Tiller, I’m thinking I need to put you on maternity leave.

 

(Tiller looks scared as he looks at the other Detectives, who both smirk. Cut to Jones placing a cup in an evidence bag with a fingerprint adorning the lip onto Captain Ramirez’s desk, with Penniman flanking him)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Fingerprint matches Federico Kopp’s.

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: Who?

 

(Penniman throws down a picture of Federico Kopp’s body)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Federico Kopp, a member of the administration at CU Denver, who died last week of ricin poisoning. Apparently, he was tasked with investigating Vince and Meixiang before he was canned for becoming obsessive. Shortly before becoming fatally ill.

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: Why would Hall poison him if the investigation was dropped?

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Who the hell knows with these crazy dagos?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Dagos- Vince is only half-Italian, do you really have a prejudice against Italians, what is it, the 19th century?!

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: What do we know about Randall’s hideout?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Last owner was a woman named Barbara Perry, the Great Aunt of a young man that Ashton Delay attended high school with. She died about nine months ago from cancer, but you won’t believe this next part.

 

(Detective Jones throws down a picture of Henry Tessman)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Henry Tessman was the goddamn real estate agent in charge of selling the house.

 

(Ramirez’s eyes widen)

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: That cannot be a coincidence.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN:  You think maybe he was letting them use it and they decided he knew too much?

 

CAPTAIN RAMIREZ: I don’t know but get all the notes and records seized from Tessman’s office and go over them with a fine-toothed comb. If there’s so  much as misplaced comma, let me know.

 

(Penniman and Jones nod and leave Ramirez’s office. They head for the stairs)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: You get those Tessman records, I’m gonna ask CU Denver if we can search Hall’s office.

 

(They head down the stairs)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Good call. (They arrive at the ground floor of the police station) Stay away from the college girls, okay? I always hate when we’re forced to investigate on college campuses.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: My wife and I are on a break.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Yeah, well, you’re 50 and these girls are twenty, so, keep that in mind.

 

DETECTIVE JONES:  She’s threatening to take primary custody of the kids, yeah-

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: I’ll see you over there, man.

 

(Penniman runs to the evidence locker)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Yeah, cool, I’ll see ya.

 

(Jones rubs his neck and calmy walks away. Cut to Jones and several uniformed officers rifling through Vince Hall’s office. Dean Solomon Houghton is standing in the doorway with his arms crossed)

 

SOLOMON: I don’t know what this is about, Professor Hall seemed like a fine educator.

 

(Jones turns toward Solomon)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Did you know he consorted with known criminals?

 

SOLOMON: …I mean, I knew he had a gambling problem, maybe that’s what this is about.

 

(Jones approaches Solomon)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Oh, it’s not. (Jones snaps off his gloves) Sometimes you think you know someone, and ba-boom. They’re unrecognizable. (Jones gulps a bit) Kind of like my wife. (Jones turns to his men) There’s nothing here fellas, take the boxes and let’s go.

 

(Jones and the cops exit with boxes full of documents as Solomon looks on, mystified. Cut to the hallway outside his office. Josh comes over wearing a backpack as cops funnel out of the room and Solomon stands there)

 

JOSH: Whoa, what’s with the pig parade?

 

SOLOMON: Bite your tongue, young man, those men are just doing their jobs, and history will bear that out in the long-term, you’ll see.

 

JOSH: They raided Professor Hall’s office?

 

SOLOMON: He’s been missing for a week, and apparently, he had some, uh, unsavory characters in his inner circle.

 

JOSH: Unsavory?

 

SOLOMON: Yeah, like, bad.

 

JOSH: I wouldn’t know anything about that.

 

SOLOMON: …Yeah, I didn’t…ask-

 

(Josh speeds off. Cut to Ashton lighting up a cigarette outside Food Mart in Dallas. He exhales the smoke with ease, as Randall joins him outside)

 

RANDALL: So, you probably know I got Vince and Meixiang on protection.

 

ASHTON: Why would I know that?

 

RANDALL: …Well, anyway, Vince and Meixiang are on protection. I want you to be a sales rep for MDMA.

 

ASHTON: Huh?

 

RANDALL: I haven’t lived in Dallas for a while, gotta get my foothold back. But kingpins don’t sell this shit direct. That’s where you come in.

 

ASHTON: Fine, what neighborhood you want me to hit? I can do schools, if necessary.

 

RANDALL:  Nah, you’re good, just go hit up Deep Ellum, they got a lot of bars and clubs over there. Try to give your number to some people, I want regulars.

 

ASHTON: I’ll employ some of my magic. (Ashton smiles) It’s SHOW TIME-ah.

 

(Ashton runs over to his new truck. Cut to Ashton parking his truck in a Deep Ellum parking lot. This looks like a somewhat run-down arts-and-entertainment district in Dallas. Ashton walks over to a board labeled “PARKING” on a stand.  It’s filled with slots, representing parking spots where cash is supposed to be placed. Ashton reaches into the slots and starts taking cash. He scurries away. Cut to a bar called Green Room. A group of two men and two women in their early twenties sit at a table, laughing and drinking. Ashton leans against the bar, with a sly smile hidden from them. A bartender walks up)

 

BARTENDER: What can I get you?

 

ASHTON: …What’s a good local?

 

BARTENDER:  Well, a local favorite is the Dallas Blondes, and then even more local are Deep Ellum IPAs, and even more local than that, there’s the Green Room Green Beer.  Basically, leftover green beer from St. Patrick’s Day.

 

ASHTON: St. Patrick’s  Day, eleven months ago?

 

BARTENDER: Yeah, it’s super flat.

 

ASHTON: Give me a Dallas Blonde and a Deep Ellum IPA.

 

BARTENDER: One of each, I like it, I’ll throw in a Green Room Green Bar for free-

 

ASHTON: No. Don’t.

 

(Bartender nods)

 

BARTENDER: Yes, sir.

 

(Bartender grabs two beers from the fridge as Ashton turns to the table full of young people. One of the women, a young woman with dirty blonde hair and thick, translucent glasses, waves at him. Ashton waves back. The bartender hands him the beers and Ashton puts ten bucks on the counter)

 

ASHTON: Keep the change.

 

BARTENDER: Thanks, man.

 

(Ashton walks over and takes a seat at the table, next to the blonde woman. He hands her a Dallas Blonde and cracks open a Deep Ellum IPA for himself)

 

ASHTON: Sorry to interrupt guys, I just know a chill group of people when I see one.

 

BLONDE WOMAN: No problem at all.

 

SHORT-HAIRED DUDE: I kind of have a problem with it-

 

BLONDE WOMAN: Mark, shut up.

 

ASHTON: What’s your name?

 

BLONDE WOMAN: I’m Hannah, my friends are Blake, Mark and Shane.

 

ASHTON: Nice to meet you guys, what brings you to town?

 

(Mark shrugs)

 

MARK: Just wanted a night out with friends, uninterrupted by creeps.

 

HANNAH: Jesus, Mark!

 

MARK: What?!  What do you see in this guy?!

 

HANNAH: See in this- I’m not dating him, what is wrong with you!?

 

ASHTON: Listen, I’m not here to hook up. Though I could easily do that. But Mark, that’s not bro code.

 

HANNAH: It wouldn’t violate bro code, we’ve never been a thing before! Plus, you guys just met!

 

ASHTON: I just want to help you guys have a better time tonight. (Ashton takes out a baggie of ecstasy tablets and slides it to the middle of the table) You heard of these?

 

BLAKE: Oh. So you’re just a drug dealer?

 

ASHTON: What? No, I’m just a new friend who happens to have some shit he needs to get rid of-

 

(A heavily tattooed, muscular bouncer walks over and puts his hand on Ashton’s shoulder)

 

BOUNCER: I think you’re the shit that we need to get rid of.

 

MARK: OOOOH! BUSTED!

 

(Ashton stands up and grabs his baggie)

 

ASHTON: Hey man, I’m sure we can work this out- (Cut to Ashton being pushed out the door of Green Room and onto the street. Night has fully fallen over Deep Ellum. “Autonomy” by Buzzcocks plays as we see Ashton whipping out a bag of MDMA in front of a group of girls at a craft beer place called Brain Dead, only to be mand-handled by bouncers. Cut to Ashton jumping up on stage at a small music venue called Club Dada while a band sets up for their set. He offers the lead singer drugs, and the singer shrugs and takes out his wallet, but not before some bouncers swarm and drag Ashton away. Cut to Ashton being thrown out of three clubs/bars in rapid succession. The song fades out as Ashton walks down the sidewalk, dejected. He then hears the cacophony of laughter. He looks up and sees several men wearing plaid, smoking cigarettes and speaking outside of a place called Dallas Comedy House. Ashton smirks and approaches it. Two of the men move out of the way for him) Could I bum from someone, I’m out.

 

BLACK GUY WITH BEARD: Sure, man.

 

(He hands a cigarette to Ashton, who then lights it)

 

ASHTON: Thanks, dude.

 

BLACK GUY WITH BEARD: I’m Paulos.

 

(Ashton smiles and bumps his fist)

 

ASHTON: Asht-olah. Ashtolah’s  the name.

 

(A balding white guy with a belly stifles a laugh)

 

TYLER: Ashtolah, huh?

 

ASHTON: Chris Ashtolah, yeah. I’m new in town, and all the clubs kicked me out. What’s going on here?

 

TYLER: It’s a comedy club. A lot of improv, stand-up too, bust mostly improv.

 

ASHTON: …Okay, I like a good challenge.

 

(Ashton brushes past all of them and climbs the stairs, opens the door and enters the comedy club. All the guys look at each other, on the verge of laughter)

 

PAULOS: How many warrants does that guy have out, ballpark?

 

(They all laugh. Cut to Vince and Meixiang sitting in their car in the parking lot of their apartment. Meixiang is crying.  Vince is rubbing her back)

 

VINCE: Shhh…it’ll be alright, Meixiang…

 

(Meixiang perks up)

 

MEIXIANG: NO IT FUCKING WON’T!

 

(Meixiang goes back to crying. Vince shrugs)

 

VINCE: …Fair point.

 

(Meixiang wipes the tears away and composes herself)

 

MEIXIANG: Let’s take a walk. (Vince nods. Cut to Meixiang and Vince taking a walk around the apartment complex. A van is slowly creeping forward in the distance) We have to assume that Randall is bugging our apartments, so we have to discuss things outside, okay?

 

VINCE: Good call.

 

MEIXIANG: So, let’s talk about escaping this psychopath.

 

VINCE: So, I’ve thought a lot about this, I was thinking, if we somehow managed to get his head stuck in a beehive-

 

(Bryan’s van speeds up and pulls up right beside them)

 

BRYAN: Hey guys, what are you talking about?

 

VINCE: Excuse me?

 

MEIXIANG: We’re talking about the X-Files revival.

 

BRYAN: Yeah, I watched a little of it, it’s  just really unnecessary.

 

VINCE:  Agreed. Anyway, we’ll see you, man-

 

(They try to walk ahead, and Bryan pulls up again)

 

BRYAN: Here’s the thing, this part of Dallas is not super safe, partially because of you know, people like us.

 

MEIXIANG: And you guys, specifically.

 

BRYAN: Yes! Good point. So why don’t you guys go the fuck back inside, huh?

 

(Vince and Meixiang look at each other and look back at Bryan)

 

VINCE:  …Sure. (Bryan nods. Bryan pulls ahead, and Vince and Meixiang reluctantly start walking back toward Meixiang’s apartment) What now?

 

MEIXIANG: I have an idea.

 

VINCE: What is it?

 

MEIXIANG: I saw it in a movie, once. Follow my lead. (They turn into the apartment building. Cut to Vince and Meixiang sitting in Meixiang’s barren apartment. There’s a few IKEA couches and a sound system on a table) So, hey,  do you want some wine?

 

(Meixiang nods her head. Vince shrugs)

 

VINCE: Sure, I’ll  have some.

 

(Meixiang walks over to a cupboard and grabs two wine glasses. She opens her fridge and sees almost nothing except a gallon of milk. She grabs a gallon of milk and brings it over to the coffee table. She pours the milk into the wine glass and hands the glass to Vince, then pours one for himself)

 

MEIXIANG: Smell it.

 

(Vince smirks and smells the milk)

 

VINCE: Is that a Reisling?

 

(Cut to Bryan in his van, outside the complex with a headset on, listening to this conversation)

 

MEIXIANG: (OS) It’s a 2002.

 

(We hear him sip it)

 

VINCE: (OS) It’s good.  Surprisingly thick.

 

(Bryan furrows his brow. Cut back to Meixiang’s apartment. Meixiang puts the glass down)

 

MEIXIANG: Listen, I’ve been processing what happened to Huang Ping, and…I loved him. I truly did. (Vince looks concerned and starts shaking his head “no”. Meixiang holds up her hand) But it was no longer romantic love. (Cut to Bryan in his van, listening intently. Cut back) I love you. (Meixiang gulps and tears up) Huang Ping would want me to be happy. 

 

(Vince nods)

 

VINCE: …You’re right. What happened was a tragedy. But he was a reckless dude. He chose to come over here and he nearly got himself killed the first time. (Meixiang shakes her head. Cut to Bryan listening. He looks suspicious) What happened to him was horrible, though. I’m just saying I wish it never came to that.

 

(Cut back)

 

MEIXIANG: …Me too. (Beat) I’m gonna put on some music. (Meixiang stands up and picks a Buzzcocks CD-the 1977 album “Another Music in a Different Kitchen”.  She puts it in the CD player and turns the volume up loud, skipping past a few tracks) This track is my favorite. (“Autonomy” by Buzzcocks starts playing loudly in the room. Cut to Bryan in the van, throwing off the headset and getting out of the car. Meixiang sits down next to Vince) Okay, we need to come up with something quick.

 

VINCE: The best thing we can do is shake one of these tails-

 

(Bryan busts in the front door, and they turn around, shocked. Bryan walks over to the stereo and turns the music all the way down)

 

BRYAN: Wouldn’t want you guys getting a noise complaint.

 

(Bryan stares at them intensely)

 

MEIXIANG: You’re bugging me?

 

BRYAN: Let’s go to Randall. Huh? Let’s go.

 

(Bryan takes out his piece and holds it by his side. They both stand up)

 

VINCE: We were just listening to music.

 

BRYAN: Tell it to Randall, four-eyes.

 

VINCE: Four-eyes, how old are you?

 

(Bryan grabs Vince by the shoulder and pushes him toward the door)

 

BRYAN: Thirty-eight tomorrow, wasn’t expecting you two to give a shit.

 

(Cut to the freezer at Food Mart, Dallas. Bryan pushes Vince and Meixiang into two fold-out chairs, right in front of Randall, who looms over them)

 

RANDALL: Heard y’all are music fans, now.

 

BRYAN: Buzzcocks.

 

RANDALL:  They popular in China?

 

MEIXIANG: No, I just…read about them on a music blog, I was trying to get into punk rock.

 

VINCE: Why?

 

MEIXIANG: Because the radio sucks here.

 

VINCE: It’s not THAT bad-

 

RANDALL: Shut the fuck up. You guys KNEW we were bugging you and you wanted to drown out your conversation, yes or fucking no?

 

MEIXIANG: No! It wasn’t like that, I wanted to put on music. That’s it!

 

RANDALL: A’ight, why don’t we put on some music, then? Bryan?

 

BRYAN: Yeah?

 

RANDALL: Put on that new Travis Scott.

 

(Bryan nods, walks over to a stereo and turns it all the way up- blasting “Oh My Dis Side” by Travis Scott. Randall takes out his gun and presses it directly against Meixiang’s head)

 

VINCE: OH FUCK!

 

RANDALL: DO YOU SWEAR BY ALMIGHTY GOD, THAT YOU DID NOT TURN UP THAT MUSIC TO TALK BEHIND OUR BACKS?!

 

MEIXIANG: YES! YES, I SWEAR! (Meixiang tears up) PLEASE! DON’T HURT ME!
 

VINCE: Randall, we didn’t do anything, leave her alone! Come on!

 

(Randall blinks. He lowers the gun. Cross his neck with his fingers, so Bryan turns the music off)

 

RANDALL: Good. Sorry, I overreacted, but… I killed your friend, Meixiang. (Meixiang looks down) I had no choice, but. I don’t expect you to just be over it. That’s why I gotta put you through your paces. Make sure you stay loyal.

 

(Meixiang nods)

 

MEIXIANG: Huang Ping got into this knowing he might not get out alive. We’ve all made choices.

 

RANDALL: Yeah, we have. And there’s always more coming. (Randall takes out a list and throws it to them) Those are some collections y’all need to make. Get to it.

 

(Meixiang and Vince nod, stand up and leave. Randall glare at one another. Cut to Meixiang and Vince in Vince’s car, staring out the front window. Bryan gets in his truck in the background. Meixiang turns to Vince, pulls his head close and kisses him, desperately. Cut to Bryan watching this in his truck. He reaches into his pocket and adjusts his boner. Cut to Vince driving them down the highway, with Bryan’s green truck in pursuit)

 

MEIXIANG: …Can we visit him?

 

VINCE: …Again?

 

MEIXIANG: Yes. Please.

 

(Vince sighs and nods. He takes an exit. Cut to Bryan in his truck. He looks confused, but he follows them. Cut to a wide-open field in a sparsely populated area. Vince’s sedan pulls up.  Vince and Meixiang get out of the sedan and walk toward the middle of the field. They arrive at a small rock. Meixiang gets on her knees, kneels down and kisses the rock. Vince puts his hand on her shoulder. Bryan’s truck pulls up in the background. Tears stream down Meixiang’s face)

 

VINCE: They’re gonna lose their patience, babe.

 

MEIXIANG: Babe? What are we, sixteen?

 

VINCE: What are we, anyway? I know it’s  a weird time to ask, but are we a thing?

 

MEIXIANG: Yes! You know that.

 

VINCE: Okay, I just wanted to make sure you were a girlfriend, and not just my friend who is a girl.

 

BRYAN: (OS) Guys. (Vince and Meixiang turn around to see Bryan standing there) We’ve been patient about this. We’ve given you time to grieve. But the more often you go here, the more we’re gonna suspect that you’re leading the Feds to his body. So, say goodbye, because this is the last time.

 

(Fury fills Meixiang’s eyes. Vince’s mouth becomes a snarl. They both brush past Bryan, back towards their car. He looks behind his shoulder with apprehension. Cut back to Denver. We see Josh driving Francesca in his car.  He looks panicked)

 

JOSH: If they’re onto Vince, we cannot be that far behind.

 

FRANCESCA: Fuck- I’ll lose my scholarship.

 

JOSH: Fran.

 

FRANCESCA: Coach will definitely bench me for the rest of the reason.

 

JOSH: And you’ll go to FUCKING jail, Francesca! We need to warn the family!
 

(Josh pulls up to This Arcade of Ours and parks. They get out and go toward the door, but suddenly, John emerges in handcuffs, followed by Goon, Carmine and Dean Musumeci. They’re guided by uniformed cops, but Jones walks out too)

 

FRANCESCA: Oh, fuck.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Wow, how considerate of you to join the party.

 

JOHN: You cocksuckers would go after my nephew?!

 

(A cop sticks him in the back of a police car, along with Dean. Goon and Carmine are stuffed into a separate cab. Jones walks over and puts Josh in handcuffs)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: You’re under arrest for racketeering.  Anything you say or do can be used against you-

 

JOSH: WHAT PROOF DO YOU HAVE?!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: We asked some local business owners, they all confirmed that you were the perp. 

 

JOSH: THEY’RE LYING! THEY ALL HATE ME BECAUSE WHAT I DID ON ELLEN!!!
 

(Jones hauls Josh away)

 

FRANCESCA: But I’m free and clear?

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Why wouldn’t you be?

 

FRANCESCA: N-no reason.

 

(Francesca quickly walks away)

 

JOSH: FRAN! COME ON! BAIL ME OUT!
 

(They stuff Josh into the back of another squad car and it pulls away. Cut to John in an interrogation room. His hand is cuffed to a bar on the table. Detectives Penniman and Jones enter the room.  John stands up)

 

JOHN: Before you even get started, I’m not sayin’ nothin’, you understand?!

 

(Jones slams John back into his chair)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: We’re willing to be lenient if you give us some bigger fish. Believe it or not, the Italian Mafia is not the most powerful organized crime outfit in Colorado in the year 2016.

 

JOHN: (Offended) Oh! You bubatz!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Cut the machismo already, you know I’m right. This is your only chance to potentially see the light of day again.

 

JOHN: Who do you want? Vince?! I’ll tell you a fuck-load about Vince-

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: We’ll get to Vince. First- (Penniman and Jones sit down. So does John) We want to know where Randall has fled.

 

JOHN: Randall?! Come on, guys, I barely knew Randall. He was a good guy, sure, and it was nice having a black friend, but he screwed me over in the end!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Do I need to remind you that we found a ledger with your name on it in Vince’s home, showing that you get a cut of Vince’s MDMA business?!

 

JOHN: It didn’t say my name it said Jot Van Zenith!

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Which is an anagram of your name, there’s nobody named Jot Van Zenith in the world, dude.

 

JOHN: That’s bullshit!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: It was enough for the Judge, we’re executing warrants on your home and your businesses as we speak.

 

JOHN: Fuck.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: That’s why you gotta tell us, did Randall ever mention a safe house, or any place that he might be from!?

 

JOHN: Yeah, he said he was from the fuckin’ North Pole- no! We barely ever spoke, come on!

 

(Jones and Penniman look at each other, and join each other in the hallway)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: I think he’s telling the truth, Randall wouldn’t trust John with information like that.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: I agree. Let’s at least ask about Ashton, though.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Okay. For fun, can we talk in British accents?

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Uh, nope.

 

(Penniman sighs)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Another time, then.

 

(Penniman and Jones go back into the interrogation room)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Fine, we believe you about Randall. But what about Ashton? That guy’s more talkative, right?

 

JOHN: I just know what you guys know, he’s from Vermont! That’s all I know!

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: (Bad cockney accent) Tell us the truth, Gover-nah!

 

(Jones glares at Penniman)

 

JOHN: I’m telling the truth- what the fuck was that, man?

 

(Jones takes Penniman outside again, as John throws his hands up in the air)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: This guy’s useless.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Get some dirt on Vince, but I’m gonna call Ashton’s mom and see if he’s contacted her or if she’s seen him around.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Alright. He better give us something, or I’m gonna suggest the death penalty by drowning in a vat or Ragu.

 

(Penniman nods)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Nice. Alright, see you soon.

 

(Penniman and Jones go their separate ways. We cut to a 44-year old woman with olive skin and a prominent mole on her cheek, scanning the contents of her fridge in an expansive, upper middle-class kitchen. An 11-year old girl with brunette hair sits at the counter with a bowl of dry corn flakes, wearing a pink beanie and a backpack)

 

MAGGIE: …What kind of milk do you want, honey?

 

EMMA: Two percent is fine, mom.

 

MAGGIE: We don’t have milk, honey, do you want water instead?

 

EMMA: Um, no, mom, I’ll just, skip breakfast.

 

(Maggie sighs and closes the fridge. She walks over and sits down, closing her eyes)

 

MAGGIE: I’m sorry, honey. I’m all out of sorts.

 

EMMA: Because of Ashton?

 

MAGGIE: And your father. I swear, the men in this family. Don’t ever become like either of them, you listening, baby?

 

EMMA: Yes, mommy.

 

(Maggie gets a cell phone call. She picks up)

 

MAGGIE: If this is a telemarketer, burn in Hell.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: (On the phone) No, ma’am, I’m Detective Mel Penniman, Denver police.

 

MAGGIE: Oh, sweet lord, does this have anything to do with Ashton?

 

(Cut to Penniman making this phone call at his desk. Intercut between them)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Yes, it does. Have you seen him around? Heard from him recently?

 

MAGGIE: Why?! Why do you ask!?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: We need him for questioning, it’s no big deal.

 

MAGGIE: No, he hasn’t spoken to me, or his sister in months- and forget about his father!

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: And you don’t know of anyone else who’s heard from him?

 

MAGGIE: No! What is this really about?!  What did he do!?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: He was sentenced to community service for a few scant charges, and now he’s disappeared. We just need to find him, make sure he’s okay.

 

MAGGIE: Oh, good God! He’s always been trouble, such an exhausting young man. You know, it took me 30 hours to give birth to him.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Is that so.

 

MAGGIE: It’s like he was having a tantrum in there, throwing elbows, biting, slapping the doctor’s hands away, my vagina was destroyed, that’s why it took me so long to have another child.

 

EMMA: Mom!

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Thank you for, that. I may be out there, soon, so perhaps we’ll speak again.

 

MAGGIE: Please, keep me updated.

 

(Penniman hangs up. Jones bursts in)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Vanzetti’s not giving me anything. He wants a plea deal in writing before he gives us anything.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: How do we know he has anything?! (Jones shrugs) The prosecutor won’t agree to shit, unless he’s already given us something big. Put him in county, and maybe he’ll have some time to think about what he thinks he’s entitled to.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Damn straight.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: We need to fly to Vermont, by the way.

 

(Penniman walks past him)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: What!? But that state sucks!

 

(Cut to Ashton walking inside Dallas Comedy House. He walks up to the bar and takes a seat. Standing next to him is a group of about five people- a 20-year old redhead man, a 24-year old redhead woman, a 31-year old redhead man, a 41-year old bald man and a 19-year old heavyset blonde woman. To his left is a skinny bald man with glasses in his mid-20s. Ashton flags the bartender Sallie over)

 

SALLIE: Hi, welcome to DCH, can I help you?

 

ASHTON: I’ll have a whiskey on the rocks in a bowl, please.

 

SALLIE: A bowl?

 

ASHTON: Yeah, and give me a straw with it, too, I’m trying to get fucked up.

 

(Ashton smiles)

 

SALLIE: You’re gonna have to settle for a glass, sorry.

 

(Ashton shrugs)

 

ASHTON: Rules are rules, I guess. Though it’s fun to break ‘em.

 

(Ashton smiles. Sallie smirks and starts making a drink. The skinny bald man turns to him)

 

HOUSTON: Sorry, did you just order a bowl of whiskey?

 

ASHTON: Yeah, dude, I wanna get fucked up right.

 

(Houston stifles a laugh)

 

HOUSTON: That’s amazing, I don’t blame you.

 

ASHTON: Name’s Ashton. I mean. It’s- yeah, it’s Ashton.

 

(Ashton holds out his fist. Houston bumps it)

 

HOUSTON: Nice to meet you, dude. You take classes here?

 

ASHTON: Nah, all my education was on the streets.

 

(Houston tries to suppress laughter)

 

HOUSTON: What streets?

 

ASHTON: These streets, dude.

 

HOUSTON: Did you go to college?

 

ASHTON: Nah, I left high school and went straight to the streets. What about you, did you take classes here?

 

HOUSTON: Yeah, I take classes here. Improv classes. You should try, it’s a blast.

 

ASHTON: I like improv, it’s like, Whose Line-type shit, right?

 

HOUSTON: A little bit, yeah.

 

ASHTON: That’s so cool, I love that tall dude.

 

HOUSTON: He’s…he sure is funny. Why do you find yourself in Deep Ellum?

 

ASHTON: …Music. I saw a band.

 

HOUSTON: Cool, what band?

 

ASHTON: It was like, an EDM show, I don’t remember the name of the DJ. Maybe like… Avicii?

 

HOUSTON: Avicii? He’s really famous, are you sure it was him-

 

ASHTON: Nah, actually it was like Avico, or some shit.

 

HOUSTON: Avico.

 

ASHTON: Honestly, I had to be on a certain substance to enjoy it…

 

HOUSTON: Oh, really? What was it?

 

(Ashton takes out a baggie of MDMA)

 

ASHTON: We have them in Simpsons, South Park or Flintstone shapes.

 

HOUSTON: Dude, put that away, you’re gonna get in trouble- you have Flintstones shapes?! (Amanda smacks her hand upon the baggie and they look over at her. Houston puts his hands up) I’m just standing here!

 

AMANDA: I know. Come with me, man.

 

ASHTON: Ooh, I love older women, wish me luck.

 

(Ashton and Amanda walk toward the back office)

 

HOUSTON: That’s not cool, man.

 

(Cut to Ashton and Amanda in her cramped, back office. Amanda points a lamp at Ashton)

 

ASHTON: Wow, that kinda hurts my eyes.

 

AMANDA: Do you have anything to do with those thugs that came here tonight, trying to extort protection money?

 

ASHTON: Was it a skinny-ass nerd and a sexy Chinese chick?

 

AMANDA: Crass, but, yes, it was.

 

ASHTON: Yeah, we work for the same dude.

 

AMANDA: And who’s that “dude”? So, I can report him?

 

ASHTON: It’s Randall Stewart.

 

(Amanda tenses up. Her eyes widen a bit)

 

AMANDA: …Oh. Randall Stewart. Not sure I wanna mess with him. (Amanda sits down) Didn’t realize he was back in town.

 

ASHTON: He is.

 

AMANDA: …How about this? We’ll pay your protection fee, but one of you has got to take a class or something.

 

ASHTON: I’ll do it, how much are they?

 

AMANDA: $200 bucks a pop.

 

ASHTON: Deal. I’m gonna be so funny.

 

AMANDA: The goal is not to try to be funny, but to- oh, fucking never mind.

 

(Ashton and Amanda shake on it. Cut to Vince and Meixiang sitting in Vince’s apartment, at the dinner table. Each of them staring at one another. A stack of papers and two pens on the table. Meixiang takes a paper and writes down a note and slips it to Vince. He opens it- it says “Should we kill Randall?” Vince shakes his head and writes “No! Adding another murder wrap could get me and possibly you, the Death Penalty. We’re in Texas for Christ’s sakes, they execute people for bad checks”. Vince slips it to Meixiang. Meixiang writes “okay, we’re passing notes, be more concise”. She just holds it up to him. Vince shrugs and nods in agreement. Meixiang writes down “Let’s turn ourselves in! We can give up Randall for Huang Ping’s murder and maybe get a reduced sentence!” Vince writes down “Speaking of ‘reduced sentences’, you’re not being exactly succinct either, Ms. Zhou”. He holds that up to her. Meixiang just throws up her hands in bewilderment. Vince then throws that paper aside and writes “Colorado still has death penalty; I’ve looked this up and since I was involved in a conspiracy to commit murder with another person, I’m eligible for it!! We are NOT risking that!” Meixiang buries her head in her hands. Vince takes a beat. Vince takes another piece of paper and writes down, slowly and carefully “The only way to get away is to shake the tail. Get away from Bryan. Go to Mexico. I’ve seen some movies of my own. Namely, “Drive”. You in?” He slips it over to Meixiang. Meixiang looks at it. She looks up at him, and nods affirmatively. Cut to Vince and Meixiang getting in Vince’s car. He starts the car, backs out and goes toward the automated fence. Bryan’s truck starts up and pursues. Vince pulls out of the complex, cuts across a few lanes of traffic and runs a red light, toward the highway. Bryan accelerates quick, cuts across traffic, to a chorus of honks and runs the red, barely avoiding an intersecting SUV. Bryan follows Vince and Meixiang onto the highway. Vince cuts across several lanes again, barely avoiding some accidents. Cut to Vince’s sedan)

 

MEIXIANG: Vince, we can’t make it to Mexico if we’re dead!

 

VINCE: Either we die on the road, or we die by Randall’s hands, I know what my choice is.

 

(Bryan speeds across the intersections too, but gets cut off by an eighteen-wheeler. Cut to Bryan’s truck)

 

BRYAN: FUCK.

 

(Cut to the sedan)

 

VINCE: He can’t see us.

 

(Vince weaves between cars. Bryan speeds up but has to swerve to avoid running into the back of Lexus. He pulls ahead in a sparser lane, past the eighteen-wheeler and spots Vince’s sedan. Cut to the sedan)

 

MEIXIANG: Nope, there he is!

 

VINCE: Dead-eyed shit stain. He won’t expect this.

 

(Vince speeds up, cuts across a few lanes and goes for an exit. The truck has to abruptly slow, so as not to pass the exit. Vince zooms past the truck and takes the exit, but then a cop car blares its sirens and pursues Vince’s sedan. Cut to Bryan)

 

BRYAN: Dumbfuck.

 

(Bryan backs up and follows the police car. Cut to Vince and Meixiang in the sedan)

 

MEIXIANG: Pull over!!

 

VINCE: But what if he recognizes us?!

 

MEIXIANG: He has our plate number, he’ll have an APB for us, just pull over!!

 

(Vince growls and pulls to the side of the road. The police car pulls up behind them, and a white cop gets out of the car. Bryan pulls up right behind the cop. Bryan gets out of the car, and Officer Nutley takes out his gun and points it at Bryan)

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: HEY! Back the fuck up!

 

BRYAN: Whoa! I’m a cop! I’m a cop!

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: Show me your badge, then.

 

(Bryan takes out an official-looking Forth Worth police badge)

 

BRYAN: Detective Art Vandelay, Fort Worth police.

 

(Nutley lowers his gun)

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: Well, that does sound familiar. What are you doing here?

 

BRYAN: You just pulled over two of my CIs.

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: These are your informants?

 

BRYAN: Yes, we were on our way to an undercover sting.

 

(Nutley turns to the car window)

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: Get out of the car, please. (Vince and Meixiang both get out and walk over to Nutley) Is this true? You’re this man’s informants.

 

VINCE: Yes, officer.

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: You don’t look like hoodlums, what’s the sting for, breaking up an illegal book club?

 

(Nutley laughs)

 

BRYAN: We’re trying to shut down Herbalife, actually.

 

OFFICER NUTLEY: Oh, please do! My wife loves that crap. Alright, sorry for the misunderstanding, officer. I apologize on behalf of the DPD. You have a good one.

 

(Nutley walks over, pats Bryan on the back, gets in his car and speeds away. Bryan walks up to them and presses a gun into Vince’s chest)

 

BRYAN: You’re lucky I had this- (Bryan holds up his fake badge) made so people wouldn’t think I was stalking them. (Beat) If Randall doesn’t kill you, I am frightened to find out what he’ll do instead.

 

(Vince and Meixiang stare at him, consumed with fear. Cut to a shot of a plane landing at Burlington International Airport. Cut to Penniman and Jones deplaning, walking down a mobile stair leading to the tarmac)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: If he’s not here, I don’t know where he is.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Can we get a Cinnabon before we leave? I regret not getting one in DFW.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Yeah, okay, sure.

 

(Cut to an establishing shot of the Delay household with a rental car out front. Cut to inside the Delay living room. Penniman and Jones are sitting across from Maggie and Emma)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: So, Ashton has never mentioned any potential safe houses that he might flee to?

 

MAGGIE: No! When he was in High School, he would stay out all night, doing God knows what, he would always skip classes and get in trouble at school. He didn’t tell me anything.

 

EMMA: He strangled a snake once.

 

MAGGIE: What?!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: What’s that, honey?

 

EMMA: It’s just that… he told me that he strangled a snake in Animal Science. Back in middle school. Apparently, it bit him, though.

 

(Penniman and Jones shift in their seats uncomfortably. Cut to Penniman and Jones walking toward City Hall)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: All they told us was, he’s a sociopath. Didn’t exactly need their help for that information.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: I don’t know about “sociopath”. I beat the shit out of a dog that bit me once.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: What?!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Yeah, I was a kid and my mom said it needed to be put down!

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Let’s stop talking, I don’t wanna hear more.

 

(They walk into City Hall, and greet Evan Alexander, standing in the lobby)

 

MAYOR ALEXANDER: Hello! Evan Alexander, Mayor of Hansbay, how the hell are ya?

 

(Alexander shakes hands with Penniman and Jones)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: I’m Earl Jones, this is my partner, Mel Penniman.

 

MAYOR ALEXANDER: I heard some big-city detectives were coming to town, thought I should say hello and assure you, we’re a crime-free city. We haven’t had a homicide in, probably, three years.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Who did the deed?

 

MAYOR ALEXANDER: Our former Mayor, Brian Sarandon. It was self-defense though, I assure you. Some IRA extremists.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Well, thank you, but we’ve got it from here.

 

(Jones and Penniman brush past Evan. He sneers with disgust)

 

MAYOR ALEXANDER: Pricks.

 

(Cut to Jones and Penniman exiting City Hall later that night)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: This kid had virtually no criminal record, he’s smooth as a blowjob from a toothless whore!
 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Please warn me when you’re about to say something like that. (Cut to Penniman and Jones driving on the big main road through Hansbay) It doesn’t add up. He wouldn’t come here, it’s too obvious.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Yeah, we’re wasting our time. Hey, pull into this convenience store, I want me a Slim Jim.

 

(Penniman rolls his eyes and pulls into the parking lot of Hansbay’s Food Mart. They park, and both get out, looking at the “Food Mart” sign in shock)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: There’s no way, right?

 

(Penniman and Jones walk into the Food Mart, and the layout and design is nearly identical. Jones flashes his badge at the skinny, light-skin black cashier)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: Who owns this place?!

 

(The man raises his hands)

 

CASHIER: What?!

 

DETECTIVE JONES: We’re cops! Who owns this store?!

 

CASHIER: He doesn’t tell me his name. I mean- (Cashier takes out some documents and points at them) the guy who owns them is named Hank Willard. But he’s not the guy who runs them, for real.

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Then who is, asshole?!

 

CASHIER: He doesn’t tell me anything! He keeps all of us in the dark! It’s how he operates!

 

(Penniman sighs)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Gotta admit, Jones, that sounds like him.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: …Yeah, it does. (Beat) Where does Hank Willard live?

 

CASHIER: I don’t know! I think maybe North America?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: Helpful! Thanks. (Penniman takes the documents) We’re taking these.

 

(Penniman and Jones go for the door)

 

CASHIER: Hey! (The door closes behind them) YOU CAN’T DO THAT! Maaaaan, my boss is gonna kill me! Like, for real, potentially!

 

(Cut to Bryan bringing Vince and Meixiang before Randall once again, in the large freezer room. They look terrified. Randall looks furious)

 

BRYAN: If that cop had run his license, we’d all have been fucked.

 

RANDALL: You almost got us all thrown in the fucking clink. And we’d be there, if it wasn’t for Bryan here.

 

VINCE: Randall, kill me. Don’t hurt Meixiang, just kill me.

 

RANDALL: Why would I do that?! Why do good guys think that’ll work, there’s no reason for me to listen to you when I could just kill both of you!

 

VINCE: Because, if she goes, then I go.

 

(Randall gets up close to Vince)

 

RANDALL: You. Have. No. Control. Over. This. Situation. (Beat) Dumb. Ass. (Randall backs away. Vince and Meixiang look at each other and then back at Randall) But don’t worry, I’m not gonna kill you. (Vince and Meixiang look confused) The cops could’ve recognized you today. In fact, anybody could’ve. We can’t take that risk anymore. That’s why- (Jackson wheels in a pile of clothes in a hamper and some make-up and wig selections) Jackson gonna give y’all a new look.

 

MEIXIANG: …That’s your punishment? A makeover?

 

RANDALL: No, no. Not just any makeover. Jackson?

 

JACKSON: Dr. Pruitt, get your ass out here.

 

(Dr. Pruitt, a haggard, creepy, balding black man wearing a raggedy-ass lab coat, walks in, holding grimy medical instruments)

 

DR. PRUITT: (Gravelly voice) Oh, these are beautiful specimens.

 

VINCE: …What the fuck?

 

RANDALL: Pruitt’s the least-esteemed plastic surgeon in the country. He’ll fix you right up.

 

DR. PRUITT: I can work with them, definitely.

 

(Pruitt licks his filthy, chapped lips with his disgusting tongue. Vince and Meixiang stare at him with a rising terror. Cut to Penniman and Jones in a hotel room at the Sullivan Hotel, late at night. Jones is studying the papers he got from Food Mart while leaning against the headboard. But Penniman is sitting on his stomach, studying Tessman’s papers, with his legs up in the air at the edge of the bed)

 

DETECTIVE JONES: …You’re not looking over the Food Mart papers anymore?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: No, I’m looking over Tessman’s stuff again. Something’s bothering me. (Beat. He flips through a small notepad and then his eyes land on something- “XCADET”. Penniman furrows his brow and shows the words to Jones) What could that be?

 

DETECTIVE JONES: …Looks like a…code?

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: It’s written sideways on this page full of nude woman sketches. Almost like it was written in a hurry.

 

DETECTIVE JONES: …So maybe it’s a vanity plate.

 

(Penniman and Jones lock eyes)

 

DETECTIVE PENNIMAN: I’ll check the database.

 

(Cut to credits, as “Autonomy” by Buzzcocks plays)

 

THE END


Submitted: June 17, 2020

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