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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2193216
by Waters
Rated: 13+ · Script/Play · Drama · #2193216
A short script based on a short story.




Death of A Prizefighter




INT. DRESSING ROOM - EVENING (1949)

A crowd of men, including a DOCTOR, boxing manager BILLY MURDOCH, as well as several boxers and reporters stand around a deceased young pugilist, TONY CASINO, whose body lies on a rubbing table. A dangling ceiling light illuminates a dark bruise on the boxer's left temple. The tension in the room is palpable.

The DOCTOR lifts stethoscope from CASINO'S chest.

DOCTOR
He's dead. Cerebral hemorrhage, probably.

BILLY MURDOCH
This is terrible. He had a solid record, a promising career.

A dark skinned lightweight, FIGHTER # 1, who knew CASINO speaks.

FIGHTER # 1
He was too tall for a welter.

REPORTER # 1
He should have been a middle with that height, only his bones weren't big enough.

FIGHTER # 2
You gotta have that bone, bone soaks it up.

REPORTER # 1
He was knocked out in Philly last month. He went down like he'd been shot.

DOCTOR
(sharply to Murdoch)
Was he unconscious long? Last month, I mean.

BILLY MURDOCH
No, I've seen them out longer. It happens a lot more than you'd think.

A man with the bearing of a police officer, tall with a military style haircut, gets involved.

OFF-DUTY COP
How long was he out?

BILLY MURDOCH
Not very long.

OFF-DUTY COP
About how long?

BILLY MURDOCH
It was only a few minutes.

OFF-DUTY COP
(scowling)
How long is a few minutes?

BILLY MURDOCH
I don't remember exactly, but he was in great shape for the fight.

The room goes silent for a minute.

FIGHTER # 1
I was there. Tony was out at least ten minutes, maybe fifteen.

BILLY MURDOCH
So what? I'd like to have a nickel for every guy that's been out ten minutes.

FIGHTER # 1
He looked awful pale when he came out of it. Said he was feeling dizzy. I sat with him for a while after Mr.
Murdoch left. He was sick too, but he couldn't throw up anything. Just some of that green stuff that burns.

OFF-DUTY COP
(to Murdoch)
Hmm. Did you ever see him dizzy?

BILLY MURDOCH
No. Not on my watch.

REPORTER # 2
I saw him fight in Cleveland about six months ago. He took one of the worst beatings I've ever seen. It was enough to finish any fighter.

DOCTOR
Did he lose often?

REPORTER # 2
No. He had a whole lot of guts and was usually a safe bet.

Murdoch slowly edges away from the rubbing table.

REPORTER # 1
How was he between rounds tonight?

BILLY MURDOCH
I asked him how he was. He said he was all right.

REPORTER # 1
They're always all right. How did he look?

BILLY MURDOCH
He didn't look perfect, but he was alert.

OFF-DUTY COP
Where's the handler.

The HANDLER steps forward.

HANDLER
Right here.

OFF-DUTY COP
How did he look?

HANDLER
He looked bad. I don't think he could see.

OFF-DUTY COP
(to Murdoch)
And you let him continue?

BILLY MURDOCH
You're trying to blame me? That's enough of that. I don't have to take this.

MURDOCH walks to the door.

OFF-DUTY COP
You greedy son of a bitch!

MURDOCH freezes.

OFF-DUTY COP
I wish I could figure out a way to get you bastards!

MURDOCH hurriedly exits the room.



INT. BOXING ARENA TUNNEL - EVENING

MURDOCH is moving quickly through the tunnel when a sleazy looking, disheveled FAT BOXING PROMOTER catches up to him.

FAT BOXING PROMOTER
Billy, you leaving town?

BILLY MURDOCH
I'm flying out first thing in the morning. A couple of my boys are on the undercard in Detroit tomorrow night.

FAT BOXING PROMOTER
If I was you, I'd hop on the next plane outta Logan. Word's out. The papers are gonna have a field day with this. It'll be better if you're not around.

BILLY MURDOCH
I can handle them.

FAT BOXING PROMOTER
I'm tellin' ya, no one's gonna come up to bat for you on this one.

BILLY MURDOCH
Maybe I will head out tonight.

FAT BOXING PROMOTER
About the kid, who do we contact?

BILLY MURDOCH
I don't know. I think his folks are in Brooklyn.

FAT BOXING PROMOTER
Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it.

FAT BOXING PROMOTER waves then departs.

BILLY MURDOCH
(mumbles as he walks away)
Guess you're keeping the purse, you bighearted rat.



INT. AN AIRPORT - NIGHTTIME

MURDOCH, looking pale and stressed out, is walking towards the waiting area with a small suitcase in hand when a reporter approaches him to get a statement.

REPORTER # 3
I heard your fighter died tonight. Can I get a statement about what happened?

BILLY MURDOCH
Tony was hit harder than any of us realized.

REPORTER # 3
Did you consider stopping the fight?

BILLY MURDOCH
He seemed normal. You can't stop the fight every time your boy gets hit. What would happen to the sport if you stopped a fight every time somebody got hit?

REPORTER # 3
How long were you his manager for?

BILLY MURDOCH
About a year and half.

REPORTER # 3
How do you feel about him?

BILLY MURDOCH
How do you think I feel?

REPORTER # 3
(insincerely)
He was like a son to you.

BILLY MURDOCH
What's wrong with you? This isn't a joke.

MURDOCH walks away from reporter and continues to the waiting area.



INT. INSIDE OF AN AIRPLANE IN FLIGHT - NIGHTTIME

MURDOCH is sitting in the rear of the plane. He closes his eyes and replays the fatal fight in his mind.



INT. A SMALL ARENA - EVENING - FLASHBACK

A boxing match is taking place between TONY CASINO and another WELTERWEIGHT (140-147 lbs.). In CASINO'S corner there's BILLY MURDOCH and the HANDLER. In the WELTERWEIGHT'S corner there's a short stocky TRAINER and an older grey- haired SECOND. The crowd is cheering and jeering. Both fighters' corners are yelling out instructions to their respective fighters.

BILLY MURDOCH
Watch the hook! Stay off the ropes!

TRAINER
That's it! Keep working the body!

SECOND
Quit dropping your head!

In the last seconds of the round CASINO suffers a heavy blow to the left temple. The bell rings and he stands dazed.
MURDOCH and the HANDLER get inside the ring and walk him over to his corner. The HANDLER treats CASINO'S cuts and bruises as MURDOCH throws water on his face to snap him back into alertness.

BILLY MURDOCH
How you feeling?

TONY CASINO
I'm all right.

BILLY MURDOCH
Good. Good. Now listen. Stay away from him. Just keep away from him this round.

TONY CASINO
Okay.

The bell rings. CASINO goes in and moves around trying to avoid getting hit. He is unable to maintain a proper defense and is struck with a left jab, followed by a right cross. He falls to the canvas unconscious.



INT. A CORRIDOR - EVENING - FLASHBACK (CONT'D)

MURDOCH, the HANDLER, FIGHTER # 1, and FIGHTER # 2 are
rushing down the corridor carrying TONY CASINO on a stretcher to the dressing room. Several other fighters as well as reporters are following closely behind.

FIGHTER # 2
He's barely breathing.

BILLY MURDOCH
C'mon, stay with me kid.

FADE OUT.

SOUND OF AN AIRLINER LANDING ON A RUNWAY.



INT. A HOTEL ROOM THE NEXT DAY - EARLY AFTERNOON - BACK TO PRESENT

MURDOCH is sitting beside a desk drinking coffee and reading the Detroit Free Press. He puts the paper down, stares at the
back page with the large bold headline, "25-YEAR-OLD BOXER KILLED IN RING. WHO'S TO BLAME?" then shakes his head in frustration. He puts his coat and hat on, grabs his small suitcase, and leaves the hotel room.



EXT. OUTSIDE OF THE TULLER HOTEL -EARLY AFTERNOON

MURDOCH, with hat brim lowered to conceal his face, gets inside a taxi.



INT. INSIDE TAXI - EARLY AFTERNOON

The CAB DRIVER, a man in his late 40s, and MURDOCH have a brief conversation.

CAB DRIVER
Where you going?

BILLY MURDOCH
Drop me off at the Motor City Gym.

CAB DRIVER
You got it.

BILLY MURDOCH
Thanks.

CAB DRIVER
You in the fight game?

BILLY MURDOCH
Small venues here and there, nothing big.

CAB DRIVER
That's a tough racket. A young fella just got killed. It's all over the news. They're talkin' about shutting the whole thing down. It'll never happen. People need champions. (looks at Murdoch in rear-view mirror) You know what I mean?

BILLY MURDOCH
Yeah, and they're willing to ignore the brutality of boxing to get those champions.

CAB DRIVER
Ain't dat the truth.



EXT. THE TAXI TAKES OFF AS MURDOCH STANDS FACING THE MOTOR CITY GYM - EARLY AFTERNOON



INT. INSIDE THE MOTOR CITY GYM - EARLY AFTERNOON

Promoter MAX GREEN is standing near the ring watching a sparring match. On the other side of the ring there's a coach also observing the match. Several men are training at one end of the gym. One man's hitting a heavy bag, another is rapidly striking a speed bag, while a third jumps rope. As MURDOCH walks over to talk to GREEN he looks up and is startled when he sees a pallid TONY CASINO in the ring, a large black bruise on his left temple, bobbing and weaving trying to land punches. MURDOCH looks away disturbed by the apparition, gaining GREEN'S attention.

MAX GREEN
I heard you were in town. Your name's getting dragged through the mud.

GREEN points to a metal folding chair near the ring which has a newspaper on it. MURDOCH glances over and sees a headline
on the back page of the Detroit Times. It reads, "MANAGER
ACCUSED OF PRIZEFIGHTER'S DEATH."

BILLY MURDOCH
I can't do anything about that. I'll be there with my boys tonight. I'm not letting a bunch of rabble-rousers stop me from doing my job.

MAX GREEN
Lyle and Ramirez are still on, but I don't want you here. There might be trouble. It's one of those messes and I don't want any part of it.

BILLY MURDOCH
I'll go to a movie, grab something to eat.

MAX GREEN
I wouldn't do that either. My advice is you head back to New York and dig in there for a while. A man's better off at home in these kinds of situations.

BILLY MURDOCH
I'm not gonna be run out of every city.

MAX GREEN
So stay. Stay and get your skull bashed in by some asshole. They'll find you; it'll keep them excited.

BILLY MURDOCH
When do I receive my cut of the bouts?

MAX GREEN
(annoyed)
You'll get paid. When have I ever stiffed you?

BILLY MURDOCH
I didn't mean nothing by it. (sighs) This is getting out of control. The minute something goes wrong you're treated like a leper.

MAX GREEN
Can't argue you with you there.

BILLY MURDOCH
(walking away)
We'll talk soon.

MAX GREEN
Take care, Murdoch.

MURDOCH leaves the gym through the same door he came in.



EXT.MIDTOWN MANHATTAN - EVENING

MURDOCH is standing on the corner of 9th Ave. & W 56th St. He looks across the street where two men, who have been following him, are approaching. He reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out brass knuckles, which he's slipped onto his left hand, and positions himself in a southpaw stance. Both men slow down as they get closer. They look at him then at each other and continue walking without looking back.
Murdoch holds his ground until the two men are out of sight. He walks down 56th St. towards 10th Ave. then goes inside The Garrison Hotel.



INT. A HALLWAY INSIDE A HOTEL - EVENING

MURDOCH stands in front of the door of room # 688. He's hesitating. He composes himself, takes a deep breath and knocks a couple of times. The door opens and he walks in.



INT. A SMOKY HOTEL ROOM - EVENING

There are three boxing managers, in the room. They're playing poker around a table littered with clay chips, ash trays, and beer bottles. JACK LATIMER is holding the door open and is the first one to greet MURDOCH.

JACK LATIMER
Look who's back. Good to see you. Come on in.

BILLY MURDOCH
(shaking his hand)
I was expecting to get thrown out of here too.

JACK LATIMER
If You keep giving us a bad name we might have to.

MURDOCH sets his suitcase, coat, and hat down. The other two managers, PETE TORELLI and MANNY GOLD, remain seated. They also greet him amicably.

PETE TORELLI
Hey, how you doing? You got a tough break. Don't let it get to you.

BILLY MURDOCH
I appreciate that, Pete.

MANNY GOLD
You know the drill. They need a scapegoat. Every so often they gotta yell. They'll yell for maybe two more days and then they'll forget about it. Sit down and play a hand. It'll take your mind off things.

BILLY MURDOCH
Sure, why not?

MURDOCH
sits down at the table. JACK LATIMER is across the room pouring a drink for himself. He calls to MURDOCH.

JACK LATIMER
What do you like in your Scotch, Billy?

BILLY MURDOCH
Water, just plain water. Thanks.

A while later, a slightly inebriated MURDOCH stands up to speak. He is holding a glass with some whiskey in it.

BILLY MURDOCH
I'd like to say a few words. We've lost a good man. He was honest and hard working. Maybe I shouldn't have pushed him so hard.

PETE TORELLI
Don't beat yourself up, Billy.

BILLY MURDOCH
No, I gotta say this. I been in this business a long time and I haven't always made the best decisions, but I won't apologize for wanting my boys to be top contenders.

MANNY GOLD
That's right.

BILLY MURDOCH
I'll have to live with Tony's death on my conscience. We all know the risks. He knew the risks. This is what we do. This is what we choose to do. (raises his glass) To Tony Casino. May his soul rest in peace.

JACK/PETE/MANNY
(Raising their glasses)
To Tony!

The four boxing managers resume their poker game.

THE END
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2193216