A Film Noir
A. Jay Adler
The Story So Far
Jack Miles, rock n’ roll roadie, has returned home looking for a job. He encounters some old friends and begins new love with Evelyn “Sonny” Morales, a detective. The old friends, Kyle and Ray, propose to Jack that he help them rob his estranged, identical twin, Joseph, who is about to be rich. Jack turns them down. He then meets another old friend in on the robbery plan, Augustus “Crank” Wilson, against whom he plays a risky double down at a game of black jack. After, Jack and Sonny, at a table in the bar, publically seal their love.
Now, Part 4: In love with Sonny, Jack goes to see Joseph hoping for help with a job. The meeting does not go well. Enraged by his brother’s humiliation of him, Jack takes his revenge and hatches a plan to give everyone what they want.
EXT. THE KORT MANSION – NIGHT
Jack’s beat up junker turns into the long driveway, travels the distance to the circle before the entrance.
INT. JACK’S CONVERTIBLE
Jack sits a moment, prepares himself. He lightly taps his forehead against the steering wheel, half in anger at having to do what he’s about to do, half like a football player pumping himself up. He gets out.
INT. THE KORT MANSION
MANUEL, 50’s, the Kort manservant, short and trim, mildly proper and contained, opens the door to Jack. Manuel is dressed to go out, an overnight bag by the door.
He’s startled at the sight of Jack.
Jack Miles. I’m here to see Joe. If he’s in.
Yes. Yes, of course. I’ll go get Mr. Joseph.
Manuel steps back to admit Jack.
No need, Manuel. Mr. Joseph is already here.
Joseph stands at the entrance to the foyer.
I was just about to leave. If there’s nothing else you need.
Nothing else, Manuel. Enjoy your evening off. I’ll see you in the morning.
Thank you, sir.
Manuel nods to Jack and leaves.
Jack and Joseph stare at one another a moment.
I heard you were back. It was hard to believe.
How are you?
Joseph offers the barest acknowledgment of the space around him.
How could I be?
Jack nods at the smug message.
Glad you found the time to stop by. Let’s go into my study. It’s comfortable.
Joseph leads the way.
Well appointed. Old California wealth. Joseph walks to a bar table.
What are you drinking these days?
Nothing right now.
No shit. So that’s the rock and roll life. I’ll have a gin and soda.
Joseph pours his drink.
So what’s it been? Fifteen years?
Jack shakes his head.
I was back about ten years ago.
Oh, yeah. Not for long. Not much reason either one of us would want to remember that.
The proverbial hat in hand, looking for a job. Of course I wasn’t in much of a position to help out then. You’re in better shape now, I imagine.
This all makes it as hard as possible for Jack.
Joseph mildly feigns surprise.
That’s too bad.
Look I just came by to visit. Can’t –
No you didn’t. If you were “just coming by to visit,” you would have come a month ago. No, that would have been too obvious. I would have known you were looking for a job. The better strategy was to wait a month. Of course, I still know.
Jack is exasperated enough to leave.
Insult the hand that could feed you. Not smart, Jack.
Coming here was not smart.
Why did you?
Because I hoped ….
Jack swallows his pride.
I met someone. Someone I care about.
You did it for love. I guess I should be touched. I’m not. What about brotherly love, Jack?
What about it?
Well, there’s my answer.
Come on, Joe.
Come on, what? Am I supposed to believe you give a flying fuck about me? So you met someone. And even though you hate my guts, I’m supposed to give you a job?
It works both ways.
It only worked one way as far as I could tell. Still does. Gimme. Gimme.
Jack is ready to bolt.
What an asshole I am. You were never a brother to me. What the hell made me think you’d know how to be one now.
Joseph slowly advances on Jack in his growing rage and venom.
Oh yeah, be there for me, whenever I need you. Identical twins, right? Close as that.
Joseph holds up two fingers together.
Close as that.
Joseph crosses the fingers.
From the moment you knew I existed you tried to take everything that was mine. You came out of the fucking womb after me, and from that day on you tried to copy me, tried to be me. You sucked the fucking air right out of my lungs. You didn’t have an original thought in your stupid head. You even took up the goddamned guitar after I did.
Joseph is in his face now.
I, at least, wanted to be my own person. But you — you were never good at anything unless you were imitating me, and even then you were a poor reflection. You’re a born loser, Jack, a dust eating Okie just like your parents, and the only trouble with your being a twin is that you’re always thinking you’re you.
Jack is mad with rage at the onslaught. He grabs Joseph by the shirt collar and pulls so hard he’s choking him.
Joseph grips Jack’s arms, tries unsuccessfully to pry them away — but stares Jack angrily, defiantly in the face.
At last Jack releases his grip and storms from the room.
EXT. THE KORT MANSION
Jack races in a fury to his car and tears down the driveway.
Jack speeds down the road.
INT. JACK’S CONVERTIBLE
Jack grips the wheel hard, stares ahead with wide, wild eyes.
EXT. A DOWNTOWN STREET
Jack turns onto a main drag. In a little bit of traffic now, he drives slowly. But the mad intensity of his thoughts is written all over his face.
Jack cruises by bars and restaurants, a movie theater. These could be scenes of his youth.
Abstractedly he watches people come and go, stroll the street. But he is not himself.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET – WORKING CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD
Jack passes small, inexpensive houses, gazes at them. He slows in front of one.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET
Jack passes by a high school, maybe the one he went to.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET – OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN
Jack suddenly pulls over to the curb. He nearly explodes from the car, as if he’d been trapped.
He stands a moment, the madness, the anguish of his thoughts imploding on him.
And then he runs.
Like a fast jogger at first, he quickly picks up speed.
EXT. AN OPEN FIELD
Jack races across the field toward a wooded area, running as if pursued.
Jack weaves his way among the trees, dodges low hanging branches, skirts around boulders, jumps over fallen trunks.
Quickly the woods become thicker. Branches begin to swipe at him. But he doesn’t relax his pace.
Soon Jack is headed down hill, then STEEPLY down hill
— until he is in an almost headlong descent
— down ever further — into what kind of hell?
— the twigs and branches battering him as he goes, whipping him, lashing at his face.
But still he runs.
EXT. AN OPEN FIELD
Jack emerges from the woods. He runs further still, and a little bit further, as if racing for a finish line with his last breath.
And then he stops, winded and crazed, off balance.
Dizzy, he falls to the ground, on his back, staring up at the sky, the world spinning around him, without center.
INT. JACK’S BUNGALOW
Jack enters with purpose. He goes to a closet in
Jack pulls one SUITCASE out of the way to get to ANOTHER. He digs around at the bottom among several VIALS OF PILLS until he finds the one he wants.
Jack goes to the kitchenette counter with the pills and pulls from the cabinet a BOTTLE OF BOURBON and one of GIN.
Then he calls Joseph on the phone.
Yeah, I know. I am an asshole.
I’ll tell you what I want. I want to make you a proposition. Coming back was a mistake, obviously. I’m going to correct that. I’m going to leave, for good.
You should give a shit, because if you help me leave, I’ll tell you about some people who are looking to hurt you.
It’s not bullshit.
I didn’t know before. I stopped in a bar on the way home. These people talked to me.
So? You got a safe Mirabella didn’t know about?
Now you believe me.
I’ll tell you the rest when you get here.
Because I already came to you. And what I know is worth more to you than what I’m asking for.
When you get here. That’s the deal.
Right. I live — You do? Really? Good. See you.
Jack hangs up.
He opens the bottle of gin. He gets to work emptying the contents of the pills into the bottle.
INT. JACK’S BUNGALOW – LATER
Jack sits on the sofa drinking a bourbon.
The PURR of a car engine. The HEADLIGHTS sweep the window. The engine cuts off.
Jack goes to the door. When he opens it, Joseph is there. Jack lets him in.
All right, so tell me.
You want a drink?
No, I don’t want a fucking drink. I want to know what bullshit you dragged me out here for.
Is there any way I could know about the safe, if I’m not telling the truth?
Joseph can’t answer.
Good. We understand each other. We’re on my clock. First I tell you what I want.
He holds up his glass.
I’m having bourbon. Gin?
Joseph thinks. He gestures okay.
Jack goes to the kitchenette counter to pour Joseph a stiff gin and soda.
I want to tell you about this woman I met.
INT. JACK’S BUNGALOW – LATER
Jack is on the sofa, Joseph on the chair opposite. The coffee table is between them with the bottles on it. They’ve already had plenty to drink.
Jack studies Joseph.
That’s the plan. I go, but I go with her. That takes money. Twenty thousand dollars of money.
You got a lot of fucking balls.
No. I’ve got information worth much more than that. You get it if I get the money.
Joseph laughs in his growing stupor.
You’re still trying to be me, Jack. Let me hear the fucking information. Then we talk about your ten thousand dollars.
Joseph tries to rise.
Jack gets up and easily pushes Joseph back into his seat. He stands over him.
How do you know they’re not robbing the safe now? How do you know that’s not why you’re here?
I took the money out.
You’re a clever man, Joe. I’m more clever. I think I want thirty.
You having trouble talking?
Joseph barely manages a glance up at Jack.
Having trouble moving?
The glass slips from Joseph’s hand. He’s out.
Jack stares at him.
He slaps Joseph’s face.
Jack goes to the kitchenette cabinet, gets the rest of the pills.
He returns to Joseph, pries open his mouth, slips some pills in. He pours in a little gin.
Jack massages Joseph’s throat, so the pills go down. He repeats this all two more times. He leaves the bottle of pills, not quite empty, on the table, along with the bottle of bourbon.
He goes to the kitchenette and empties the gin bottle and Joseph’s glass, along with a bottle of scotch, into the sink. He rinses them all out and tosses the bottles into the trash.
Jack returns to Joseph. He begins to undress him.
INT. BATHROOM – LATER
Jack finishes dressing in Joseph’s clothes. He looks in the mirror and notices the scratches on his face from his run.
He pauses and thinks.
Jack walks past Joseph, still in the chair, now in Jack’s clothes, and dials the phone.
Kyle? Jack. I know it’s short notice. I’m sorry. I had to work myself up to it. But Joseph’s out for the night. So’s Manuel, his man. If you still want to do it — if you can — tonight’s the night.
I paid him a visit earlier.
Good. Talk to you.
Jack hangs up. He stares at Joseph.
Now let’s see if I really can be you, brother.
He heads for the door.
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