The crew gathers in the waiting area around the coffee machine. A fresh pot brews. Sturgill takes out a few of the small cardboard cups from the packaging. They each have their own eccentricities about how their coffee should be prepared.
Hank says, do you know how long we’ve been doing this job?
Sturgill puts an ice cube in his coffee so he can drink it right away.
He says, I’ve got an idea.
Hank says, I thought we were going to be on our fourth major motion picture by now.
Sturgill says the incubation process has taken longer than I anticipated, but I think it’s all to happen soon. This latest draft of the script might be the final draft. You’ve really out done yourself with this one.
Hank says, it’s all right but there are still some nagging potholes that I can’t figure out.
Struggle says, Did you hear back from that agent?
Hank says, if I did don’t you think I would have mentioned it.
With the way you writer I question your memory. This one was good, but you left out some of my favorite scenes. And we still don’t really have a bullet proof ending.
Hank says, you didn’t like the ending? I though that was the only part worth keeping.
It’s just for the kind of movie we are trying to make it’s a big open ended. Which is fine, but not exactly true to the genre.
Hank says, I thought we were trying to break genre conventions.
Sturgill says, what would possibly give you that idea? I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I’m trying to make the nicest wheel ever.
Hank says, you’re right. I’ll go back to the drawing board. Did you watch any good movies over the weekend?
Sturgill says, I watched Good Fellas again. I never noticed how funny of a movie it was. Me and the wife were falling off the couch. There are jokes you can’t even notice until you watched it at least ten times. Like that scene where Joe Pesci shoots the kid’s foot, and he says look it’s just like the movies. And Deniro says what movie? Shane? And Pesci is horrified at Deniro’s lack of cinematic knowledge. And is like, Shane, how the fuck could that happen in Shane? Like, have you not seen Shane? Or did you see and misinterpreted it so bad that you thought Shane could actually shoot a kid in the foot? Shane? I mean, that’s all he says. But the rest is all implied by the tone.
Hank is howling. Shit I never saw that. Hilarious man! I’m crying over here.
And then Walter and Dead Head enter the room.
Walter says what are you two ladies giggling about this time?
Sturgill says, I was just telling Hank how Good Fellas is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.
Dead Head says you’re right about that. I saw it the first day it came out. I laughed my ass off. I thought I was the only one.
Walter says I never saw it.
Hank says, you never saw it? It’s 1995! How the fuck have you never seen Good Fellas?
Walter says you trying seeing movies when you got a wife and six mother fucking kids, work three jobs a day, the last one being cleaning a god damn car dealership on the east, when you live way on the mother fucking west side of Detroit!
Hank says, that’s true Walter. I forgot. How do you even have time to sleep?
Walter says, sleep? What’s that?
And Walter leaves the question hanging there. Like he really has forgotten about the concept of sleep entirely.
Lafonda and Dead Head have danced around a mutual crush since the first time they met. She arrives in a beat down old yellow cab. Much later than the rest of the crew. She arrived wearing yoga pants and a Champion t-shirt and a shower cap. Dead Head switches his charm on.
He says, that is some nice perfume you’re wearing.
She says, what you mean the blunt I smoked in the cab on the way here?
Did you have a good weekend?
Hell no. I made so many bad decisions I’m going to be stuck working this job forever.
Hank said, foreverrrrr! In a reference to the sand lot.
What did you do Dead Head?
Man I got some weed so strong I was just talking to my cat all weekend.
You should have called me.
Sure. Right. Did you bring me anything to listen to?
You got to hear this.
She hands him Wu-Tang’s Enter the 36th chamber. This is the going to be the one.
I liked the deep mobb one or whatever it was called. Here is a classic.
He gives her one of the tapes of the ALlman brother’s greatest hits.
More hillbilly shit. Thanks a lot.
I will be expecting an in depth review at the end of the shift.
You better listen to that shit.
All right well we better get started or we’re going to be here until Memorial Day.
Dead Head readies the mop bucket. He is getting the mop bucket ready. He assembles the pieces. He lifts it out of the cabinet. He gets the stick and the mop together. Fill it with hot water then dumps the purple liquid that comes in a large glass bottle and has a bunch of skulls with X’s on their eyes and a letter from upper management that says to be careful. This stuff is highly unstable.
Thompson is making the left from the middle of Woodward into the dealership’s parking lot. He sings along to a tape of “Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.”
He exhales when he parks. He is halfway through a double shift. He likes to take breaks at the dealership if he is in the area. Jimmy makes sure there are some coffee and donuts from over at Detroit Donuts. Thompson did not want to take the extra shift but the year’s big hunting trip was going to be on the weekend. He wanted to off set the cost with a little overtime. The wife was not pleased.
Thompson sings, sooooomwhere over the rainbow, bluebirds will fly—
Then he turns his car off.
Jimmy is leaning on the wall next to the door, gazing at a woman walking by.
He says, hey baby where you walking so fast? I don’t want you to hurt those pretty little feet of your’s.
Thompson laughs. He tips his cap.
Jimmy says, oh hello I did not notice your approach, detective Thompson. As I am sure you can deduce, I was, distracted.
Thompson says, never change, Jimmy, never change.
Jimmy says, I intend to do no such thing. As a matter of fact, I intend to do, quite the opposite. I was hoping you would grace us with your presence. The mechanics assistant just returned with donuts, pardon me, RICKY! I SAID, RICKY!
A Renfield like character appears holding a box of Detroit donuts.
Ricky says, you don’t have yell. I was—
Jimmy grabs the box.
Jimmy says, get the Hell on out of here!
Ricky says, you got it boss. Save some for me.
The door closes.
Jimmy opens the box. He says, we ain’t going to save nothing.
Thompson takes a donut.
He says, don’t mind if I do.
Jimmy says take two. How is everything going with your preparations for the big hunting extravaganza?
Thompson says, locked and loaded. Can’t wait to get back out there on the small island. Those Axis deer are already giving me nightmares. If I don’t get one this year I think I’m going to give up. A man can only take so much failure, before he has to take his goals into reconsideration. But! I do have this new salt lick that is supposed to be able to coax even the cagiest of critters out of it’s hidey hole. So we’ll see. I have yet to find the crystal ball in the evidence locker.
Jimmy says, I couldn’t agree more. You should forget chasing after that fancy wild game and visit your boy Jimmy in his homeland of Decatur Georgia. We will catch us some of the Kangfish. We got the biggest kingfish in Decatur Georgia. Kangfish like you’ve never seen. Like you’ve never imagined. Like you wouldn’t believe, even when you see it with your own, two, eyes.
Jimmy starts laughing so hard he has to take off his glasses and wipe tears from his eyes.
Thompson doesn’t get it. But this happens a lot. So he just shakes his head and takes a bite from a sugary jelly donut.
Thompson says, you mean catfish.
Jimmy says, I mean, the king of the catfish.
Thompson says, I just might take you up on that offer. I just might.
Then there is some squawking on the radio.
Thompson says, thanks for the fuel. I better get to it.
Jimmy says, good luck out there and happy hunting.
Thompson says, same to you old buddy. Same to you.
Jimmy holds out the box.
He says, why don’t you take the whole box?
Thompson says, uh sure.
He takes the box. He waves to the old ladies in the accounting office. They swoon.
When the undercover police car pulls away, Jimmy says, enjoy the donut you dumb shit.
Art appears at his side. I was hoping he wasn’t going to stop by tonight.
Jimmy says, he stops by damn near every night. You don’t have to worry about nothing.
Art says, but he’s a detective. Detectives are smart.
He’s a fool. And his daddy was before him. And he grand daddy was before him. And on down through the ages.
The Smashing Pumpkins are playing, “Muzzle.” On the all encompassing overhead speakers of a supply closet. Hank uses his knife to cut open some fresh boxes of the little bags, and the large garage bags. He then puts one roll each into the little bag holder contraption they custom made for the side of the big garbage can. They put it on the custom set of wheels Sturgill designed for it.
Hank says I am hoping. Hoping to get out early, because I want to go see Heat again. Why? Because it might be the perfect LA crime story! Who knows how it will stand up against the test of time. But right now it looks pretty damn good.
You already saw it six times. And it just came out. Have you ever heard of Blockbuster?
Hank says, are you disrespecting Heat?
Sturgill says, Well they did take the title from that great Burt Reynolds movie that isn’t even ten years old. And that had a dynamite in the pants of a script. He talked the bad guy into killing himself. I mean, I know Robert Deniro did weapons training with professionals for the big street shoot-out. And did I read the interview in American Cinematographer where Michael Mann said the actors became so proficient that they are using footage from the movie to now train new recruits? Yes. And did I also read that, that drill sargents have been known to say I doubt you will able to get as technically skilled at aiming and reloading this weapon as the great Val Kilmer? Yes. What I am saying is you don’t take a title from Burt Reynolds. But that’s not even what I’m saying. What I’m really saying is, that I’m jealous of you bro. I would like to go see Heat again after work as well. But I have my big boy pants on, and hhhwwwife awaiting, with options on wallpaper design.
Hank says, but she is probably the coolest wife ever. You’ve got it all figured out. The only reason I”m going to see Heat for the sixth time is to try and escape my inescapable sense of dread. You know that, dude.
Sturgill says, you got it all wrong. Is my wife cool? Yes. Do we support each other through thick and thin and treat each other like royalty? Yes. Like king and queen of the court? Yes. Am I never ever ever alone? Yes. But there are pressures man. Pressures like you wouldn’t believe.
Hank says, pressures? I am trying to break through the door from Detroit to Hollywood, by writing, screenplays. Listen to that word. Screenplays. I”ll say it one more time. Screenplays. I can’t even think it, without wanting to punch myself in the face. Do you know what that’s like? To walk around all day, every day, wanting to punch yourself in the face. And even worse, not even knowing why.
Sturgill says, okay, all right, step back from the ledge. Look dude. Listen man. You could have been married like ten times by now if you wanted to. But first of all despite your best efforts, you’re smart. You’re too young for that shit. First, reach your chosen destiny. I’m going to direct major motion pictures. Hopefully one based on a Michael Crichton Novel. And you, the writer of major motion pictures. Possibly adapting one of your own novels. Oh. Yeah. I forgot. Finish. Your. Fucking. Book.
Hank says, real supportive my guy. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Sturgill says, anyway you’re not going to see Heat tonight because you’re not going to get out of here early.
Hank says, why?
Because it’s the longest night of the year.
Hank says, why?
Because out of all the nights of the year, tonight has the most time in it. And just finish you're book dude. I know you think it won't get published. But when you finally get it done it's going to fuck up every other writer up like it's Pete Sampras in the fucking US OPEN dude.
Thompson throws the full box of donuts out the window while speeding down Mack Ave. There is some kind of homemade book with a lot of page markers, on his passenger seat. Hawaiin music plays.
He parks in the back of the precinct.
On the walk from his car to the door he laughs to himself.
He says, you’re not from Decatur Georgia. We both know that.
The police chief is already on his way out the door. Thompson blocks his path.
Thompson says, chief Prezooto, going home so soon? If I could just have a few seconds of your time? I was running over here to talk to you. If you could leave some extra bodies on call tonight I would really appreciate it. I’m about to break this case.
Prezooto says, this better not be about the case I think it’s about.
Thompson says, I don’t know what case you’re thinking about. But this is about the possibly the biggest missing person’s case in the history of the country, possibly the world. I’ll have to research that one and get back to you. I just proved it to myself. And by the end of the night I’ll prove it to everyone. And you will get most of the credit. It’s a good deal all around coach.
Prezooto says, you used to be such a sane man, Thompson. But you have gone over the deep end with this one. You’re running around looking for mostly unreported missing mop swingers. I keep getting calls from cemeteries, saying you’re making their poor secretaries dig through records in dusty basements.
Walter strolls into the Zamboni charge area. He unplugs the cord. He pushes it away. He turns the dials. But the brush won’t go all the way down. He it gets half way, then stops, and goes back up. Walter kicks the machine.
He says, you’re trying to hang out all night. Not the time. Oh hell no.
Dead Head is passing by.
He says, Sir Walter Raleigh, did you break the Zamboni again?
This thing breaks on it’s own damn self. I do everything by the book, and it’s still stuck!
Dead Head says, chill out man. If I could fix helicopters back in 69, I can probably fix this hunk of junk.
Walter says, is that how you lost your finger?
Dead Head says, that’s a whole other story. I’ll spare you the gruesome details.
Walter says, I’m sorry I asked.
Don’t mention it Walter! Now lets see here.
Dead Head taps the Zamboni on it’s sides. Like he is calming a wild horse. He opens the hood. He looks into the darkness of the water chamber. He rotates the brush. There are cold dark clouds rolling in from up north. He squints.
Sounds like there is an obstruction.
He puts a rubber glove over his four fingered hand.
Walter can’t help but make the face of someone very grossed out.
Dead Head says, who do have in the game tonight?
I don’t know.
Speaking of games, what do you think is the odds of that film making duo of our’s making it?
He says, what do you think are the chances of the Lions winning the super bowl?
Dead Head says, Slim to none. And Slim just went to Texas. Let me tell ya, I used to be a big fan. But they have been so bad for so long I couldn’t take the heart break—oh wait, I see what you did there.
Walter says, that being said, I’m still a Lions fan. They do worse every year. But then when it’s coming up on a new season, I always get the feeling, this might be their year. But they get another holding penalty. And by game three the whole season is over. But this year, I think it might be different. Hope so anyway. What else can you do?
Walter kicks the Zamboni a few more times.
A man can even clean. A. Floor. Around here without all sorts of contraptions breaking down.
Dead Head reaches further into the machine.
Dead Head says, I hope they do.
His hand doesn’t catch something, but a thing catches his hand.
Dead Head spits out his cigarette.
We got a live one!
Sturgill sneaks off to a phone in one of the empty offices. He dials his 313-885-1435 home phone number. His wife Julie answers the phone. Dinosaur Jr’s, “Feel The Pain,” is playing on the record player. She has to cradle it with her shoulder because she was in the process of pouring some food out of a huge, “Alpo,” dog food. Their dog’s name is Steve Yzerman.
Before saying, hello, Sturgill says, you made Steve Yzerman wait this long to get his dinner?
Julie says, he is a tough old guy. He’ll be fine. And hello to you to by the way.
Sturgill smacks himself in the face. I’m sorry honey bear, did you hear that, I just smacked myself in the face for being so callous with even the most basic of social graces. Hello and how is your night going?
Me and Steve Yzerman had to run around all over town. It was quite an adventure. But we made it home alive. Didn’t we Steve Yzerman.
Julie wiggles the dog’s ears.
Sturgill says, that sounds like fun. I wish I could have been there.
She says, we wish you could have been there to. What time do you think you will make it out there tonight?
Sturgill says, I hope by the time I get out of here, the sun hasn’t come up yet. This place looks like it could have took a hit from hurricane Erin.
Julie laughs. Wow that sounds like a big hit. You didn’t forget what you promised did you?
Sturgill did forget what he promised.
He says, uh, that I will love you forever?
Julie flips through a People magazine with princess Dianna on the cover.
She says, no, but nice try. We were supposed to watch a double-feature tonight.
Sturgill says, I said that? That doesn’t sound like something I would say. Have you gone to the video store yet?
Did you check the mail?
No, I forgot.
Oh well, no big deal. But if you are going to head back out, I can’t stop thinking about that letter.
Oh my god. You’re still going on about the Sundance.
Sturgill says, you know what, forget about—
She says, ahh, I got you. I’m just kidding. Look how fired up you got.
Sturgill says, I’m sorry, I know it’s stupid. I know there is no chance. This is why I don’t play the lotto. Even though I know the odds are astronomically stacked against me, I can’t help but think I might have a chance. And then I start thinking about all the things I would do with the money and—
She says, you don’t have to apologize. I think your ambition is one of your most attractive traits.
Sturgill says, thanks honey bear. You have a lot of attractive traits—
Sturgill hears the boss yelling.
He says, sorry but I have to go. I will call you back later.
Julie says, bye bye.
Then she hangs up and looks at Yzerman.
She says, you look like you want to go outside.
The dog starts jumping around and barking.
Hank takes his new headphones out of his pocket. Then he takes them out of the box. He connects them to his Walkman. He puts in his tape of Pulp’s, “Different Class.” It starts playing on, “Common People.” He then bravely pushes a mop bucket with his mop, into what looks like a set from Friday The 13th, but is really just a giant dealership garage in Detroit, which is of course a far worse place to be than the set of, “Friday The 13th.” Hank is not grooving very far when the wheel dips into a sewer grate in the floor. The chemicals go flying. Some of the liquid gets in Hank’s eyes. It burns. It burns bad. He cries out in pain. He tries to wring them out with his hands. The headphones fall. He runs around in circles, screaming. That does not do any good. He flees to the hose. After a lot of water, he recovers. He finds his headphones. He gets his head back in the game. He shakes it off. He has to get the mop bucket, and take it all the way back to the hose. He re-fills the bucket. He dumps a new combination of chemicals inside. He stirs it all together with the mop. Some kind of steam oozes into the air. Hank tries not to breathe it in. He breathes it in. Oh well. Just more permanent damage. He hits play. He is about to start again when the headphone cord snags on the hose holder, flinging them off his ears, and against the wall with a sound like a skull fracturing. The horrible sounds of the garage his ears. What is making the sounds cannot be scene. There is only the darkness and the faint moonlight barely making it through the small windows along the ceiling.
Hank says to no one, only a little bit longer, and I’ll be out of here forever.
A camera on the ceiling turns toward the sound of Hank’s voice. A red light seems to blink with laughter. When he gets his headphones back on, the right ear is no longer working. Hank tapes it and turns it in a effort to get it back to work. Nothing happens.
Hank says, oh c’mon, I just bought these.
But he there is no where to get a new pair of headphones. He accepts the loss. At least the left side still works. He pushes the mop bucket. He reaches his destination at the far corner. He takes out the mop. He jams the bristles in the ringer. He grabs the handle. He squeezes it hard three times. That’s how you get mop swinger muscles. He spins the mop. He squeezes it three more times. Now it’s ready to go. He hits the play button again. He turns the volume knob until it’s on as high as it can go. He takes the stick out in the same smooth, practiced motion as his long ago ancestors unsheathed their swords for the glory of the old kingdoms now long lost to the ages. He doesn’t make three swishes before the headphones cord gets wrapped around the stick, and the Walkman is torn from his pocket. It passes through Hank’s outstretched hands into the water. He knows there is no point in trying to get it out. The terrible, awful sounds of being inside that place return, only much louder now, than before. And years of that catch up to Hank, and his knees seem to stop working. And it’s a good thing there is no one else around, because puts his head in his hands, and sobs like the most forlorn creature on two legs to have ever walked the Earth.
But there was someone there. Up in accounting office, Yolanda is going through the cleaning desks routine. She is singing along to the Allman Brother’s, “Midnight Rider.”
She half sings and half hums, “And I don't own the clothes I'm wearing
And the road goes on forever
And I've got one more silver dollar
But I'm not gon' let 'em catch me, no
Not gonna let 'em catch the midnight rider—“
She goes from being amused at Hank’s plight to genuine concern for his mental health. She sprays the screen with alcohol. She wipes off a wall of finger prints. Why they touch the screen so much, she will never figure out.
She says, c’mon Hank, get your shit together.
But he cannot.
She says, okay, don’t worry, here I come.
She takes a joint from under her showers cap. She puts the rag and alcohol back in the bucket. She heads for the garage.
TITLE CARD: 13th Earl of Stair.
John Dalrymple, steps out of the door wearing a tuxedo made of cut velvet, having the pile cut so as to form patterns, one trimmed with silver, and another with gold, two frocks, one of green drab, with large plate buttons. His butler slips on his rings so as to complete the formal dress of the royal court since way back in pre-modern times.
John Dalrymple says, do not delay my darling, for we shall miss the curtain call.
He reaches back to take the hand of—
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. She wears a waistcoat of gold lace; red satin, embroidered with bronze; green silk, trimmed with broad figured gold lace, and purple silk.
She says, I have been awaiting this performance for far too long to miss a moment.
(TO BE CONTINUED)