by Evelyn Lorn
An unfinished short screenplay done in a Film Noir style
|Intro Scene – The Alleyway
[Shots in colour but heavily shadowed, neo noir. Scene opens in a dark, deserted alleyway with soft jazz in the background and the camera falls upon a pair of high heeled feet, one cocked back against the wall. Close up on the lips as they exhale smoke. Narration begins whilst girl is smoking]
Narration: A business like mine, a mighty stressful job, so I hope you don’t mind if I smoke. I see nothin’ but murder, jealousy and betrayal but hey, I chose this right? Set up my own agency despite those chumps tellin’ me no girl ever solved no mystery. I tell ‘em straight, men are weak for women. You flash a bit of skin and suddenly they shop their best friend in, so’s I always get my job done [laughs].
[Woman is wearing a hat, hiding her face in shadow, she slowly lifts her head up and sighs]
Narration: The name’s Jessica, Jessica Chase. Ironic, I know, but it pulls in the customers and a gal like me needs the dough. So when he came along, I was glad of the work. A little too glad. [Looks directly into the camera and winks then looks down again]
[Slow footsteps are heard down the alleyway and Jessica turns nonchalantly to its direction and flicks the cigarette butt to the ground. Cut camera to top of alley. A tall dark figure approaches from the shadows and stops just short of the light]
Figure: [gruffly] Your office assistant told me I might find you here.
Jessica: Oh yeah? Well you found me then, I guess, what can I do for ya, pal?
Figure: Well, I been thinking about callin’ those guys, ya know, Moon and Bell to help me out with a tragedy but I heard there was a good lookin’ dame who do just as good. I don’t know, but I don’t trust male detectives as far as I can throw ‘em. You are Miss Chase, right?
Jessica: Sure I am. Just havin’ a stroll to take my mind offa things. You came to the right place Mr-?
[Figure steps forward, a man with a tired expression but a hint of cheek and charm about him. He wears a worn but respectable coat which is wrapped tight against the chill. He takes his hat off and inclines it politely]
Jessica: Got a first name or is that strictly for business?
Abruzzi: [chuckling and scuffing his foot on the floor] Eric, though I don’t use it much. Anyway, doll, you gonna help me or what? I can always go back to the guys if you’d rather make pleasantries.
Jessica: [straightening up at his arrogance] Tell me the case and I’ll consider it.
Abruzzi: [walks towards her a bit more so she can catch the full effect of his word] Some poor kid got whacked last night. Barely twenty years old too. Out near the canals, so a pretty secluded job done.
Jessica: And what does that have to do with you, Mr Abruzzi?
Abruzzi: I’ve known the kid’s family for years and watched him grow up. Heck, it tore me up to see him like that. [Looks down to hide his face] I’d just be so grateful if you’d help me.
Jessica: No problem. You just gotta take me to the crime scene and I’ll work my way from there.
Abruzzi: [quite close to her now, giving her a long glance then taking her hand and kissing the back of it] I can’t thank you enough, Miss Chase. I wish I didn’t have to meet you in such unfortunate circumstances. Normally, I’d be plucking up the courage to ask a gal like you to dinner.
Jessica: [smiling but waves her hand dismissively] You, Mr. Abruzzi, seem anything but shy. Now come on and show me this scene ‘fore the cops open it back up to the public.
Abruzzi: Sure thing [Extends his arm for her and she takes it]
[They both walk up the alleyway and slowly disappear into the shadow. Camera shot taken from ground level and lingering. Blackout]
Cutscene Flashback – Canalside
[Use brighter colours to suggest difference in time. Less shadowed to show exactly what’s going on. Close up of the kid’s face as he watches the water and is seemingly waiting for someone. He looks at his watch and sighs impatiently then nervously glances all around]
[He waits another thirty seconds or he spots something and turns. Different camera angle, behind the kid in first person perspective. He looks startled and jumps but soon recovers]
Kid: Where the hell have you been?! There’s feds everywhere and you wanna shady meetin’ at the canal edge? What are you thinkin’? [His expression soon changes as he sees something being presented] Easy now! That’s no way to treat your ol’ buddy! Just put that thing down, ok? We’ll talk it through. You know we can! Just put it away and don’t do anythin’ stupid.
[A shot is fired and the kid falls backwards. Camera angle now at ground level with his face to watch his final moments. He seems to be trying to say something but never manages to]
[Whiteout. The shot fades into the darker tones of the present day where the body has disappeared and Jessica and Abruzzi now stand looking at the spot]
Scene – Canalside
[Jessica stoops low to look at the spot and the spatter of blood on the ground. She stares at it for a moment then looks behind her thinking furiously. Abruzzi squats also trying to understand]
Jessica: [noticing his puzzled look] He was lying face up, right? [Abruzzi nods] Well I guess he wasn’t shot in the back since the water is that way so he had to be facing his attacker. No struggle, so he knew the guy. Did he have any enemies or had he been doing anything unlawful before he got shot?
Abruzzi: [reluctantly] Yeah, he was a loudmouth and involved in some dirty work.
Jessica: [sighing] What’s new in this town? Kids get whacked for less.
Abruzzi: Especially ones caught up in body disposal for crime rings. That’s the worst, cleaning up the mob’s mess and being the fall guy if the cops show up.
Jessica: [rolls her eyes] Shoulda seen that one coming. Poor guy was probably was too naive to realise what a mess he’d got himself in.
[Jessica and Abruzzi continue to look round as narration sets in]
Narration: It seemed so obvious to me this was an inside job. Asked to come out to a secluded area then shot ‘fore he knew what’d hit him. Loudmouth indeed, or maybe he got scared and tried to get out. This is what I was going to discover. Maybe I’m getting too cynical in this job but when you seen one whackjob, ya seen ‘em all. Stupid kids and their ambitions. Some guy just walks off the street towards ya and goes, “Hey there boy, fancy makin’ some dough?” ‘Fore you know it, you’re up to your eyeballs in deep crime and the only escape is with a bullet to your gut [Jessica roots around further from the main path, stop, then looks puzzled. She goes over to a bush and pulls part of a scarf off the branches, she smells it then widens her eyes] Maybe I was wrong after all. This was a girl’s. It was drowned in cheap perfume and held a smudge of violently red lipstick. A crime o’ passion perhaps? Or was this just circumstantial? Some other crime o’ passion and hasty redressing? Hmmm, I’d say the first, this looks torn, ripped as they ran away.
Jessica: [turning to Abruzzi] Did this kid have a ladyfriend?
Abruzzi: [turns and sees the scarf] Sure, some broad called Lydia. She works the tables at some café but is very high maintenance. You know, as most women are [Sees Jessica’s look] Now come on dollface, I said most women. You look like you can take care of yaself. She lives on Ludluth Avenue. I’m guessing you wanna question her about that? Shall I get the car started? [Jessica nods, Abruzzi walks off]
Jessica: [sighs] Jesus, kid, what did you get yourself into?
Narration: [As Jessica looks around for a final time] Well this was a real mess. A high maintenance woman, a kid doing body dumps for crime rings and a torn scarf. It didn’t fit somehow. There was a dirty great secret being kept hidden from me that somehow connected all these clues together. Did she shoot her guy for getting involved in all of this? Was it a simple assassination? Anyway, all of it lead to death. Here we go again, I guess. Jessica Chase back on the case [Jessica laughs then walks away].
[Close up of the blood spatter as you hear her footsteps grow fainter, fade to black]
Scene – Lydia and The Kid’s House
[Jessica and Abruzzi walk up to the door of a house and Abruzzi smooths his hair and straightens his lapel before he knocks on the door. They wait a while before a girl in a silk nightdress and gown answers the door. She initially gives a mischievous grin when seeing Abruzzi but quickly catches herself when seeing Jessica and gives him a glaring look]
Lydia: Hey there Abruzzi, who’s this gal ya brought? It better not be another one of Mike’s weekend floozies.
Abruzzi: [cutting in quickly before Jessica has time to react] This is Detective Chase, so be nice, sweetcheeks.
[Lydia pouts before turning sideways to let them in. Cut shot to in her lounge and on the sofa. Abruzzi makes himself at home whilst Jessica waits to be invited to sit. Lydia gestures for her to do so but stands up herself and pours herself a glass of wine, taking a nervous gulp and then lights a cigarette]
Lydia: So whaddya want, honey? Information about my dear deceased? Or just here to gloat that someone else has done ya job?
Narration: [whilst Lydia smokes and takes sips of wine] This dame as a vicious as a viper. There was no doubt in my mind this gal was capable of murder. She didn’t look like no grieving lover I’d ever seen. She looked ready for new meat, possibly in Abruzzi. There was no mistaking that look when she opened the door.
Jessica: I take it from your reaction to me that your man was foolin’ around?
Lydia: He’s a guy, it’s what they do, ya know? They do business away from home and need a lil’ somethin’ so they pick up a bit o’ skirt on the way.
Jessica: Were you mad at him?
Lydia: Doll, I didn’t bump him off for having itchy fingers if that’s what ya wanna accuse me of. Sure it annoyed me, how couldn’t it, but he came home to me at the end of the day which meant he loved me.
Jessica: Well that wasn’t my main question but thanks for answering it all the same. I really wanted to ask you about this [holds up the scarf piece].
Lydia: What about it?
Jessica: Is it yours?
Lydia: I ain’t seen it before..
Narration: That was a lie. I could smell the same perfume and she was even wearing the same lipstick colour. She had something to hide.
Jessica: Ok then. I just thought since this [points to the lipstick stain] was your colour, you might know somethin’.
[Lydia double takes]
Lydia: [flustered] Oh, oh, that. Yeah that’s mine. I didn’t recognise it for a second. It tore when I went for a stroll, y’know how it is. The wind gets it and flicks it into branches.
Jessica: How interesting that it ended up in the crime scene then.
Lydia: What? Oh...er....um, well that’s just awful! I was walkin’ by the canal earlier on. If only I’d know, my poor baby was going to- [cries and pulls a handkerchief from a drawer and dabs her eyes dramatically for her guests’ sake] Gosh, I mean, it’s so ironic.
Jessica: Sweetie, murder is to be called anythin’ but ironic. This was your man.
Lydia: [scowling] I know that, I loved the guy not you, let me deal with the loss in my own way.
Abruzzi: [cutting in] We shouldn’t press this lady any harder, she’s had a stressful time as it is [Lydia nods appreciatively]
Narration: Stressful time my ass. There was no doubt in my mind she had somethin’ to do with it but a girl can’t just out someone ‘cause they act guilty. I needed more evidence but Abruzzi was obviously was nervous about upsettin’ her in case she called in any help from The Kid’s little crime ring. I needed to catch her out with something, but what? [Jessica looks around quickly, hoping to find something before she’s outstayed her welcome. Close up shot focusing on the dresser behind Lydia. There is a small vial with a violent coloured liquid in it.] Ah ha. That looked sufficiently suspicious. I was betting she’d have some quick fire excuse for it too.
Jessica: What is that? [points at the vial]
Lydia: [looking around startled and picks up the vial, chewing her lip] Medicine. Black market stuff ‘cause I can’t afford private doctors. You’re not going to shop me in are you?
Jessica: [looking thoughtful] No. Thank you for your time Miss Belle [stands and begins to walk out]
[Abruzzi utters a simple “Thanks” and gives Lydia a quick once over with his eyes before following Jessica out of the door. Shot stays with Lydia who holds the vial up to the light and gazes somewhat irritatedly at the contents before muttering, “Jumped up little floozy.” Fade out.]
Scene – Jessica’s Office
[Scene opens on Abruzzi lounging in Jessica’s chair as if he were the detective and Jessica sitting on a desk, writing her clues so far down in a report. The office is fairly basic with a desk, chairs, a filing cabinet and no picture frame it’s hardly used for its function. The window blinds cast slatted shadows on them both as they ponder the encounter with Lydia.]
Abruzzi: [looking around her office deep in thought] I take it ya got no loved ones sweetcheeks.
Jessica: No man but family yeah, they’re far away though.
Abruzzi: [muttering but loud enough for her to hear] No man huh? [Jessica blushes]
Jessica: [coughing, slightly embarrassed] Anyway, I’m sure I ain’t seen no medicine that’s bright green. So what is it? Poison or just some strange drink? I don’t think it’d be drink, it looked too thick, that’s why she said medicine. It must be something bad for her to get freaked at when I asked.
Abruzzi: The Kid was shot not poisoned.
Jessica: Then why would she lie about it and jump a mile?
Abruzzi: [thinks for a second then sighs] I don’t know dollface.
[There is a long pause whilst both try to explain the vial]
Jessica: [suddenly sitting upright] Did you see The Kid in the days prior? Y’know just before his murder
Abruzzi: Sure, I invited him round for a drink and smoke on Tuesday, why?
Jessica: How did he appear to you? Maybe ill?
Abruzzi: Ah, in pretty bad shape, couldn’t hold his drink and ruined my rug, hacked his guts up when he tried a cigar. That ain’t like him. He can drink me under the table at the best of times. What are you thinking, Miss Chase?
Jessica: Maybe she did try to poison him but it didn’t work. Poison’s slow and hard to trace but it can fail to work. Maybe she got mad and impatient and blew him away.
Abruzzi: That’s certainly a theory. Maybe it’s something the coroner can tell us?
Jessica: Worth a shot
Abruzzi: Good work, Miss Chase [he winks at her]
Jessica: [ignoring it] Get your coat, Mister Abruzzi, we’ve got a body to see.
[Cut as both put their coats on and walk towards the door]
Scene – Mortuary
[Scene opens upon The Kid’s body on the table and the coroner peering over him with his spectacles ridiculously low on his nose. He utters a disapproving, ‘Hmmm’. Camera lowers to show The Kid’s skin which is an acrid purple.]
Coroner: [after a long pause] Well here’s the stiff.
Jessica: I noticed, Doc, but was he poisoned?
Coroner: I would’ve thought that was fairly obvious. He’s purple.
Jessica: [sarcastically]Always a great help, Doc. What kind of poison is it?
Coroner: Well I’d say from the colour and the cracked skin that it was copper arsenite. It’d be violent green in its normal state, a bit like yoghurt in consistency when mixed. [Abruzzi and Jessica look at each other] Looks like that ain’t news to youse?
Abruzzi: No Doc, it ain’t. Now here’s the rub, was the cause o’ death shootin’ or poisonin’?
Coroner: This kid was most definitely shot but he did have poison in his system. It was a pretty thorough method to make sure he died.