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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

unproduced screenplay: ‘Cat & Mouse’ Part 5

(Cat & Mouse begins here)

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INT. MOTEL #3 ROOM – NITE

The room is dimly lit. The Agent, still fully clothed, lies in bed on his side in the same pose he took with his wife on the couch. His cell phone is at his ear.

  • THE AGENT
  • Talk to me. Just… talk to me…

EXT. WOODS – DREAM SEQUENCE – DAY

As before: The POV of the Agent as he stumbles through the woods. Look down: branches and dried leaves CRACKLE underfoot.

HEAVY BREATHING as he comes upon the fully clothed body of a woman.

She lies on her side in the leaves and dirt, her back to the man — she might almost be asleep.

Half her mane of long brown hair lies along her arm, the other half flows down her back — it has been particularly arranged.

His hand reaches to turn her over, look at her face. He begins to roll her body over–

END DREAM SEQUENCE

INT. MOTEL #3 ROOM – MORNING

The Agent, asleep in his clothes on the bed, awakes with a start to a POUNDING on the door.

  • THE AGENT
  • What?
  • POLICE CHIEF
  • (through the door)
  • Agent? We really need you, I’m afraid…
  • THE AGENT
  • (to himself)
  • Christ.

EXT. THE ABANDONED FARMHOUSE – DAY

Police cars, lights flashing, huddle near the house. The Police Chief’s car and the Agent’s car are parked nearby.

The Police Chief, the Agent, and the Journalist approach a taped-off area in front of the house, near a stand of trees. Local deputies hover in the background.

  • POLICE CHIEF
  • A real estate agent showing the property to some prospective buyers found the body about an hour ago. They turned her over, I’m afraid, thinking she might still be alive.

A woman — the jogger — lies face-up in the dirt, her face blue, her neck bruised, her long dark hair undone from her ponytail.

The Agent, distraught, cannot speak for a moment.

  • THE AGENT
  • No one reported her missing?
  • POLICE CHIEF
  • I know her. Her husband is in the Navy — when he’s at sea, she’s on her own. No one would have missed her for days, probably.
  • THE AGENT
  • You called the Field Office in Omaha?
  • POLICE CHIEF
  • They’re sending your team.

MINUTES LATER

The Agent stands to the side, unable to take his eyes off the dead woman.

The Journalist approaches him, tape recorder at the ready.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • So do what you did in the hospital yesterday. Tell me about this guy.
  • THE AGENT
  • He’d never killed before Milwaukee, but he’s been building to it.

The Agent folds his arms, stares at the dead woman for a long moment.

  • THE AGENT
  • It takes time to get comfortable with the idea of killing someone. So he’s probably early to mid 30s. He’s white, because serial killers rarely kill outside their race. He’s intelligent, charming, operates well in society. He has a responsible job, he could be married or in a relationship. He’d be the last person his neighbors would suspect of murder. Of serial murder.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Do you know that for sure?
  • THE AGENT
  • Not with 100 percent certainty, but–
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • How accurate are your profiles?
  • THE AGENT
  • They’re usually dead on. I’d be surprised if he deviated much from this description.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Thirty-ish, smart, blends in. You just described both of us.
  • THE AGENT
  • I didn’t say he’d be easy to find.

The Agent approaches the dead woman, bends down, and just barely touches her hair, almost stroking it.

  • THE AGENT
  • The weird thing is, he doesn’t take souvenirs.

The Journalist comes up behind him.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Is that unusual?
  • THE AGENT
  • Yeah, really unusual. They typically take something — a lock of hair, a piece of clothing or jewelry — something as a memento of the encounter.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Why? Why do they take it?
  • THE AGENT
  • They’ll use it to masturbate–
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Masturbate?
  • THE AGENT
  • Yeah, that’s pretty common, actually. They just want a reminder of the satisfaction they got from committing the crime itself.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • So why wouldn’t this guy take a souvenir?
  • THE AGENT
  • I dunno. Maybe he’s not getting the satisfaction he’s looking for.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Maybe his souvenirs just aren’t obvious.
  • THE AGENT
  • Could be. Maybe it’s something he brings with him to the scene, uses somehow in the murder, and takes away again.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Maybe he takes photographs.

LATER

The Agent and the Journalist walk toward the Agent’s car.

Several black FBI cars and the forensics van pull into the yard.

  • THE AGENT
  • They’ll be here a while. We can set up shop in the police station.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • You’re staying here in town? Two bodies back you were gone before your people even arrived.

The Agent turns his head this way and that, as if listening to something only he can hear.

  • THE AGENT
  • He’s still here.

INT./EXT. THE AGENT’S CAR/RURAL ROAD

The car heads back to town, the Agent at the wheel and the Journalist in the passenger seat.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • How do you know he’s still here?
  • THE AGENT
  • I don’t know. Maybe he’s moving with me. Maybe if I stay in one place for a bit he’ll show his hand. I don’t know. I just know I need to get him out of my head soon.

The Journalist taps the photo of the Agent’s wife taped to the dashboard.

  • THE JOURNALIST
  • She’s not one of the victims.
  • THE AGENT
  • My wife.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Ah. Is she why you’re so obsessed with this case?
  • THE AGENT
  • Obsessed?
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • You don’t look like you’ve slept in a month.
  • THE AGENT
  • I sleep okay.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • So it’s just a coincidence that your wife fits the victim profile to a T?
  • THE AGENT
  • I guess it is.
  • (beat)
  • When I saw that woman dead in the park, back in Milwaukee–
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • That was the second victim, right?
  • THE AGENT
  • Right. The first was in the alley, the second in the park.
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Right.
  • THE AGENT
  • Anyway, when I saw her, all I saw was long brown hair. She was just… there, you know, like she was sleeping, and all I saw was my wife lying there. That doesn’t sound very professional, does it?
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • It sounds human.
  • THE AGENT
  • So why are you obsessed with it?
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • Obsessed?
  • THE AGENT
  • Or are you just chasing another Pulitzer?
  • THE JOURNALIST
  • That’s my job.

INT./EXT. AGENT’S CAR/MAIN STREET

The Agent’s car pulls onto Main Street near the police station.

  • THE AGENT
  • Shit.

The police station is surrounded by news vans and satellite trucks.

  • THE AGENT
  • The circus has arrived.

TV NEWS CLIP

INT. NEWS STUDIO

TV footage of a newscast:

  • NEWS ANCHOR
  • –as DC continues to reel from the horrifying rape-murders of its youngest, most vulnerable citizens. Meanwhile, a shocking development today as one of the FBI’s lead investigators in the case was caught on tape joking about the perpetrator while other agents laughed.

Report cuts to bouncing, jostling video footage — from a camera held to disguise the fact that it’s running:

A group of oblivious FBI agents stand around another playground crime scene, small, white-draped, child-shaped lump on the ground nearby.

  • THE AGENT
  • Can you imagine the kind of sad, sick –BEEP– we’ve got here? Maybe if Disney made porn these –BEEP–ers could get off at home.

The gathered agents laugh.

Back to studio:

  • NEWS ANCHOR
  • Outraged parents’ organizations demanded that the agent, one of the FBI’s top profilers, be removed from the case immediately.

Video clips:

  • ANXIOUS PARENT #1
  • This is outrageous! Has he ever lost a child? Does he realize the pain that his thoughtlessness inflicts?
  • ANXIOUS PARENT #2
  • I think we deserve to have someone with a little more sensitivity to the situation heading up the investigation.

Back to studio:

  • NEWS ANCHOR
  • We caught up with the agent in question outside his Quantico office.

Video clip:

The Agent surrounded by a bouquet of microphones.

  • THE AGENT
  • I’m sincerely sorry for any pain I’ve caused the families of the victims in this case. I’d never have said such a thing if I’d known the camera was on. We are not insensitive to the magnitude of the crimes we investigate. But the fact is that black humor is what allows us to keep the distance and objectivity we need in order to deal with horrors like this day after day, and to eventually catch this killer.

Back to studio:

  • NEWS ANCHOR
  • The FBI issued a statement echoing the agent’s apology but stating unconditional support for, quote, “one of our best.”

End video clip.

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