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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

unproduced screenplay: ‘Cat & Mouse’ Part 4

(Cat & Mouse begins here)

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INT. POLICE STATION – CONTINUED

The Agent watches as the Police Chief hands the baby back to his wife, kisses them both, and escorts them to the door, then turns at last to the Agent and the Journalist.

  • POLICE CHIEF
  • Now, what can I do for you gentlemen?

The Agent flashes his ID.

  • THE AGENT
  • I’m with the FBI.

INT. DRUGSTORE – LATER

The Agent peruses the newsstand, picks up the tiny local weekly newspaper, the dailies from Lincoln and Omaha, and the weekly national newsmagazines. All blare the strangler story with lurid headlines like KILLER STALKS MIDWEST and STRANGLER AMONG US.

The Agent carries the periodicals to the checkout counter.

The TEENAGE CHECKER gawks at him in awe.

  • TEEN
  • You’re that FBI agent. I saw you on TV.

The Agent pushes the magazines and papers toward the teen.

  • THE AGENT
  • How much?
  • TEEN
  • You’re like “Silence of the Lambs.” That was a cool movie.

The Agent slaps a $10 bill on the counter, gathers up his reading material, and stalks away.

  • TEEN
  • Hey, man, can I have your autograph?

EXT. MAIN STREET

The Agent stands on the sidewalk outside the drugstore, takes in the laid-back ambience of the town.

A dog lazes on the sidewalk outside a shop, yawns in the sun.

A single stoplight flashes yellow in one direction, red in the other, at the town’s only intersection.

The Fan’s beat-up Ford rolls by.

The Agent, alert and expectant, strolls slowly toward his car, still parked down the street near the police station.

The Ford rolls by him again, moving in the other direction, more slowly this time.

The Agent locks glances with the Fan, who looks away nonchalantly and casually picks up speed.

The Agent considers this for a moment, then dismisses it.

DOWN THE STREET – MINUTES LATER

The Agent approaches his car. A tow truck towing the green Beetle stops nearby.

The Journalist climbs down from the cab. He waves to the driver as the truck continues on its way.

The Agent watches the Beetle as the Journalist approaches.

  • THE AGENT
  • You know, for a while the Beetle was the serial killer’s car of choice.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • You’re kidding?
  • THE AGENT
  • No. Ted Bundy’s was tan.

The Journalist laughs uncomfortably.

The Police Chief’s car stops behind the two men, and the chief, in the driver’s seat, beckons them.

  • POLICE CHIEF
  • We’ve got something.
  • THE AGENT
  • Already?

INT./EXT. THE POLICE CHIEF’S CAR/RURAL ROAD

The car speeds along the road past the abandoned farmhouse, where the Beetle had broken down earlier.

The Agent, in the front passenger seat, watches the house zoom by, exchanges a glance with the Journalist in the backseat.

  • THE AGENT
  • Where are we going?
  • POLICE CHIEF
  • Hospital.
  • THE AGENT
  • She’s alive?

INT. HOSPITAL – PRIVATE ROOM

The Agent, tense and nervous, rushes into the room. He sees:

A BLOND WOMAN

The woman (white, 18-22) lies in the bed, unconscious. Her face is badly beaten.

He relaxes, lets out a sigh.

The Journalist and the Police Chief enter behind him.

  • THE AGENT
  • She’s not one of his.

The Police Chief is taken aback by this abrupt pronouncement.

The Journalist is ready with his tape recorder.

  • POLICE CHIEF
  • How can you tell?
  • THE AGENT
  • She doesn’t fit the victim profile, for one thing.
  • POLICE CHIEF
  • Maybe he’s not so picky as you think he is.
  • THE AGENT
  • No. Look.

The Agent steps up to the bed, lowers his voice, indicates the ligature mark around her neck.

  • THE AGENT
  • Our guy uses his hands, not a wire or a rope or anything. And apart from the cause of death, they’re not injured. He’s charming, attractive — he gets real close to his victims without raising any suspicion. Whoever attacked this girl came from behind — that’s how you strangle with wire — because he knew talking to her would do no good. Our strangler is confident — this guy isn’t. He’s got some kind of deformity or a stutter that turns women off. But look at this–

The Agent indicates the girl’s hands, which are scratched and bruised.

  • THE AGENT
  • She was able to fight back, so this guy’s not real big or strong. Chief, look for a skinny guy, 20s, not very attractive, whom she recently rebuffed. He’s your man.

The Police Chief is dumbfounded. The Journalist grins.

  • THE AGENT
  • This is just a coincidence. But he’s here, our man. I feel it.

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR

The Agent strolls purposefully along a corridor near the children’s ward.

Children LAUGH in a room he passes. He stops to watch:

TWO KIDS

chatter happily to each other from their beds.

INT. THE AGENT’S HOUSE – FLASHBACK – MORNING

As before: In the kitchen, the Agent picks up the RINGING phone.

  • THE AGENT
  • Hello?
  • VOICE
  • We’ve got a bad one.
  • THE AGENT
  • How bad?
  • VOICE
  • The worst. Can you come down to the scene?
  • THE AGENT
  • It’s here?
  • VOICE
  • In DC.

EXT. PLAYGROUND – FLASHBACK – LATER

Intense police activity: many cops, uniformed and plainclothes, stand around. Flashing lights of police cars everywhere. Eager TV cameras hover at the edges of the scene.

The thickest cluster of cops and FBI agents stand around a child-sized form, covered with a sheet, on the ground near the swingset.

The Agent approaches the body.

  • THE AGENT
  • What have we got?

A forensics agent bends down to uncover the child.

The Agent’s face contorts in horror.

  • THE AGENT
  • Jesus God.

He can say nothing else for a long moment.

  • THE AGENT
  • Was she raped?
  • FORENSICS AGENT
  • Looks like every orifice. Including a couple he made himself.
  • THE AGENT
  • Christ almighty.

Again, a long, horrified silence.

  • THE AGENT
  • A guy who gets off on something like this isn’t going to stop at one.

END FLASHBACK

EXT. MAIN STREET – THAT EVENING

The Journalist leans against the Agent’s car, still parked near the police station, talks on his cell phone.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • –this guy is great. Save the cover — this is gonna be huge. MIND OF A CRIMINAL, MIND OF A COP. Hello, Pulitzer number 2… Don’t worry, I’ll get him to talk…

He sees the Agent exit the police station and head for the car.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • –naw, we’re talking movie rights for this one, it’s that hot…

The Agent is close now, within earshot.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Right. So. Thanks. Gotta go.

He hangs up the phone and grins at the Agent.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Sticking around?
  • THE AGENT
  • He’s here.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Gimme a lift to the motel?

The Agent considers him for a long moment.

  • THE AGENT
  • I just want to make one thing clear: We’re not going to be friends. We’re not going to be pals. Got it?
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Look, I know you got fucked by the media in DC. I don’t care about sensationalism. I just want to tell your story.
  • THE AGENT
  • I don’t have a story.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • How you do this. Why you do this. How it affects you. Don’t you think the public has a right to understand this?
  • THE AGENT
  • Nobody else has to understand me.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • You enjoy what happened with those vultures back in DC?

The Agent opens the driver’s side door of the car.

  • THE AGENT
  • Get in.

INT./EXT. THE AGENT’S CAR/RURAL ROAD – DUSK

The car zips along the darkening road.

The Journalist holds his tape recorder while the Agent talks.

  • THE AGENT
  • You know how athletes talk about being in the zone, and artists talk about following their bliss?
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Yeah.
  • THE AGENT
  • Well, this was my bliss, thinking like serial killers. Sick, huh? It was like a game. It never used to bother me. I just got in the zone, got into the minds of madmen, and then went home for dinner.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • So what happened?
  • THE AGENT
  • DC happened. I’d seen horrible things before, but those kids…
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • That was a bad one.
  • THE AGENT
  • You don’t know the half of it. The worst details were never released publicly. He tortured those kids…

A long, uncomfortable, silent moment passes.

  • THE AGENT
  • No more now.

INT. THE AGENT’S OFFICE – FLASHBACK – NITE

Files and papers overflow from chairs, the desk, the windowsill.

Crime-scene photos of dead children, victims of the DC Child Killer, are arrayed on a bulletin board on one wall.

Series of shots:

A) the Agent half-leans, half-sits on his desk, considers the photos

B) the Agent stands before the bulletin board, peers closely at one photo, then another

C) the Agent sits in a chair near the board, head in his hands

LATER

The Assistant Director sticks his head into the Agent’s office.

  • ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
  • Go home, would ya? Remind your wife what you look like.

The Agent stands near the board again, sighs.

INT. THE AGENT’S HOUSE – FLASHBACK

The Agent closes the front door in the foyer. The living room beyond is lit.

His wife stands across the room near a window, looks out into the darkness beyond.

IN THE LIVING ROOM

The Agent comes up behind his wife.

A half-empty glass of wine dangles from her hand.

Weary, he wraps his arms around her from behind and lays his head on her shoulder. She smiles.

They both stare out into the wooded yard, just visible in the night.

ON THE COUCH – LATER

The Agent’s head rests in his wife’s lap. He dozes fitfully, mutters unintelligibly in his sleep.

His wife sips from her freshened glass of wine, strokes his hair, shushes him gently.

He calms into a peaceful sleep.

END FLASHBACK

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