A Tear Drawn Red
Note: Due to the nature of a web page some of the standard screenplay formatting is lost.
To the blur of an object spinning too fast to be seen. Like a roulette wheel, the dizzying pace slows until it's seen to be an empty bourbon bottle.
As the bottle comes to rest, focus draws inside it to,
INT. A CHILD'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
A GIRL, 10, lies feverish in bed, tended to by a MAN, 40. He places a wet cloth on her forehead with parental concern. Her pain brings tears as she clutches him. He dabs the tears as if to carry the pain away.
Her agony brings a moistness to his own eyes.
He smiles and strokes her temples as he wipes his own tears.
He looks to her. She snuggles against her pillow, content.
She closes her eyes fitfully. He pulls tissue from the box.
INT. A BATHROOM - NIGHT
Fifty-eight year old HANDS, leathery and shaking, pull toilet paper from a roll hung on a wire coat hanger. Thread-bare bath slippers shuffle over equally bare carpet to an overstuffed chair long shorn of its cheap velour.
THE LIVING ROOM
On an end table scarred with cigarette burns, Camels snuggle against a fifth of bourbon. A cup holds a few amber ounces. A tuna fish can finds afterlife as an ashtray.
The hands click a remote several times before the TV works.
INT. A JACUZZI - NIGHT
A MALE, 30's, reclines in bubbling water, looking more relaxed than one would expect.
It's then a head emerges from the water between his legs. A WOMAN, dressed in skin-tight vinyl and mask works her way up to his lips, planting kisses along the way.
INT. A BEDROOM - NIGHT
The woman in vinyl reclines on a bed as the unclothed male unzips her, leaving just her mask in place. Only shadowed glimpses of their bodies as they make love. The view recedes to reveal it's really a movie on,
BACK TO THE LIVING ROOM, THE CHAIR
CAL GARDNER'S TV. Cal puffs a Camel. The ashes drop onto the flimsy bathrobe doing little to cover his nakedness.
Eyes glued to the TV, he drops the Camel which fortunately falls into the cup, to drown in the bourbon.
One hand clutches the toilet paper, the other elsewhere. No moans from Cal, just a worn look waiting to be done.
Cal's rhythm matches the male on TV and they finish together as the male slides the woman's mask off.
It's a jaded ecstasy in his eyes that fades as quick as a heroin rush. He notes the woman's face as her mask slides off. His eyes narrow, then widen in panic.
He snatches the video case which lists each star's name beside their photo. The actress is Coco Garnett, late 20's.
He tosses the case at the TV, then stares up at the ceiling fan leisurely chopping the light into shadow, like an axe.
His left hand falls away, dropping the toilet paper to the floor. His right bangs around, seeking the bottle.
Cal slumps unconsciousness in the chair. The empty fifth thuds to the floor beside the toilet paper.
With a rhythmic click the fan draws long, prison bar shadows over his body as the rain paints the night black outside the dingy window pane.
MORNING (STILL IN THE CHAIR)
Cal awakes. His hand wavers between a smoke and the cup. He downs the cup, then spews out the ash-laden bourbon.
He puffs a Camel, his eyes distant, then grinds it out on the end table, adding another decorative mark.
The rain streaks languid down the glass of his pane.
INT. CAL'S KITCHEN - DAY
Cal opens the fridge which contains only an empty bourbon bottle and a dried-out hamburger. He peers at the bottle, then tips it overhead coaxing a few drops onto his lips.
He tosses it in the fridge and slams the door. He stands a moment looking about, then opens the freezer compartment.
He grunts approval at the full bottle of frosted bourbon.
LATER AT THE KITCHEN TABLE
Cal jots into a tablet, the half-empty fifth beside him. He stares vacant at the video case before noting the blood dripping from his nostril, as it splats onto the tablet.
INT. A BANK LOBBY TELLER WINDOW - DAY
From behind a teller cage, a TELLER counts twenties for Cal.
The teller stamps his savings book as he scoops up the cash.
INT. CAL'S ROOM - DAY
Cal packs a suitcase. He studies a 'Home Sweet Home' sign, then tosses it in. He adds a carton of Camels and a fifth, which fill the suitcase, then glances to the closet shelf.
He pulls down an inch thick manuscript and flips through a few pages. He looks to the suitcase, but finds no room.
He removes the Camels, then puts them back. He removes the fifth, but only for a moment.
He holds the manuscript over the trash can, wavering, then looks to the suitcase. He drops it into the empty trash can.
EXT. THE BUS DEPOT, BESIDE A BUS - DAY
A DRIVER throws Cal's single suitcase in the compartment.
INT. THE TRASH CAN IN CAL'S OLD ROOM - DAY
The trash can holds a pair of shoes, but no manuscript.
INT. ONBOARD THE BUS - NIGHT
Cal's the only passenger awake, as the bus barrels through a rain-sodden night. He studies an old photo of himself kneeling beside a young girl displaying her fish catch.
His hands shake, he makes a fist, then succumbs to the flask he pulls from his pocket.
INT. A ROADSIDE DINER - DAY
At the counter, Cal munches only toast for breakfast. He sweetens his black coffee with the flask.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE ROADSIDE DINER - DAY
Cal re-boards the bus under an overcast sky as earthworms stretch through dirty puddles.
EXT. LOS ANGELES BUS TERMINAL - DAY
Cal stumbles from the bus and squints at the bright LA sun.
INT. A FLOPHOUSE HOTEL ROOM - DAY
Cal sets his suitcase down and unpacks the fifth.
LATER, ON THE BED
Cal lies unconscious, the 'Home Sweet Home' sign beside him.
EXT. AN OCEAN PIER - DAY
Cal leans on the rail gazing into a blood-red California sunset. An old MAN fishes beside him. Gulls wheel overhead.
INT. SKINTRADE FILM PRODUCTIONS OFFICE - DAY
Cal speaks with a RECEPTIONIST.
The receptionist smiles knowingly.
Cal scowls and declines. He looks about, then leaves.
OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
A woman, looks like an ACTRESS, watches Cal shuffle away.
He turns a bit toward her. She looks him up and down.
Cal pulls up his shirt sleeve to reveal bone white arms. He raises an eyebrow. She inhales a cigarette as she measures him with her eyes.
He walks away as she blows a contemplative cloud of smoke in his wake.
INT. HOUSE OF ILL REPUTE - DAY
Cal speaks with the MADAM of the house.
He nods and turns away.
EXT. THE SAME OCEAN PIER - DAY
Cal gazes onto a spectacular sunset, nursing a bottle in a brown paper bag. The same old fisherman casts nearby.
Cal notes his empty bucket.
The old fisherman responds with a sober glance.
INT. A STRIP CLUB - NIGHT
Cal sips a drink as he studies the various dancers. He downs the drink and heads toward the exit when he encounters the actress, working as a waitress.
He shakes his head.
He turns away, then turns back.
They stand eye to eye before she takes an order from a table, the male customer's hands more familiar with her backside than they ought to be.
She casts Cal a last glance as he leaves.
INT. CAL'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT
Cal sits on the mattress edge jotting in his tablet between gulps of bourbon and Camel puffs.
Cal lies unconscious, a Camel smoldering between his fingers atop the mattress. The empty fifth lies sideways.
The mattress burns while Cal lies oblivious. Sprinklers burst open showering water as a fire alarm blares.
Cal rouses and stumbles toward the window, but finds exit blocked by iron bars. He turns and staggers to the door.
INT. THE FLOPHOUSE HALLWAY - NIGHT
Firefighters push past Cal, into his room, and extinguish the blaze, limiting the damage to a ruined mattress.
The hotel MANAGER walks up to Cal.
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE THE FLOPHOUSE - DAY
Cal hefts his suitcase and struggles down the street.
EXT. THE OCEAN PIER - DAY
Suitcase beside him, an unsteady Cal, head bobbing, gazes onto the sunset. The old fisherman casts his line nearby.
Cal raises the brown paper bag to his lips.
Cal ignores the comment to take another sip, but the bottle slips from his hand sinking beneath the waves. He cocks his head, eyes on the water. He puts a foot to the railing.
Cal glances to him sideways. The old man's pole bends.
Cal steps down to watch him reel in the line.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE STRIP CLUB - NIGHT
Cigarette smoke wafts from the shadows at the side door.
Cal walks past, eyeing a run-down hotel across the street.
Cal peers into the shadows. The actress steps forward.
He shakes his head. She scribbles onto a cocktail napkin.
EXT. AN ALLEYWAY - NIGHT
With Camels and bourbon for company, Cal waits in the shadows. Men come and go from a building across the way.
A nondescript neon sign, says OPEN, hangs in the window. The O blinks off and on, alternating between OPEN and PEN.
The cigarette butts pile up at Cal's feet.
A mid-30's MALE, forearms littered with tattoos of naked women, sidles up several feet away and eyes Cal.
Cal says nothing and avoids the man's piercing stare. The man checks his watch.
A police car idles past and the man slips into the shadows.
The neon sign goes dark and one last man exits, soon followed by the women. Cabs, as if on queue, pull up for the women. Cal lingers on one woman as she enters a cab.
The neon sign flickers PEN one last time.
EXT. LAST NIGHT'S BUILDING - DAY
Cal eyes the nondescript neon sign flashing PEN.
INT. INSIDE THE BUILDING ENTRANCE - DAY
Cal hands several bills to the OWNER. She eyes Cal.
INT. A MASSAGE ROOM - DAY
Cal paces. With a trembling hand he reaches for a cigarette then stops. He pulls the flask and downs a swig. The door creaks. Cal turns away hiding the flask.
The door opens. COCO GARNETT, 28, wearing frilly lingerie, enters to find Cal facing away. She eyes him a moment.
Cal turns toward her in profile. She slips the gown from her shoulders. He raises a hand.
Coco strikes a pose.
Cal hesitates. Coco frowns.
Cal has trouble meeting her eyes. She cocks her head.
She steps close to help with his shirt. He steps back.
The word, as if a customer's angry fist to her gut, forces a gasp.
He brings his eyes to hers as her surprise becomes shock, disbelief and finally fury.
Coco steps back, forgetting her gown, still low on her shoulders. Her mouth readies to speak, but can't.
Cal extends a shaking hand then draws it back. Neither can speak in the pounding silence of their breathing. Finally,
Coco pulls her lingerie trying to cover what it wasn't meant to. She rubs her head. Cal stands helpless, arms at his side, his shoulders sagging.
He extends a shaking hand.
Cal shuffles out the door as Coco slams it hard enough to topple the glass light fixture which shatters to the floor.
Head against the door, she trembles, her body heaving.
OUTSIDE THE DOOR
Cal stands, back to the door. He turns to extend his hand as if to reach through the door and stroke her temples.
He eyes the door, listening to the sobs, then lowers his head to shuffle away.
AT THE ENTRANCE
The owner, arms crossed, watches Cal reach for the door.
The door closes behind him. The neon sign flashes in the background.
BACK IN THE ROOM
Coco cuts her fingers as she places the glass shards onto a towel. The red on white soaks the towel replacing the tears she refuses to shed.
The owner peeks in.
Coco covers her face and shakes her head.
Coco looks up, a rouge of blood smears her cheek.
The owner studies her a moment, then closes the door.
The pain too strong, the dam bursts and tears streak her face. Like rain on a window pane, they create a rivulet through the blood rouge and soak the towel, tears drawn red.
OUTSIDE THE MASSAGE ROOM DOOR
The owner listens to Coco's agony with a frown.
INT. A HOTEL ROOM - DAY
Cal lies passed out on his bed. Through the vertical blinds the sun cuts long swaths of shadow and light over his body.
LATER - NIGHT
Cal's eyes open to the unbalanced, circular click of the ceiling fan, missing one blade. Cal watches a spider sneak down the long light chain.
He glances to the empty bottle, then lights a Camel. He notes the night and, with suitcase, stumbles for the door.
EXT. THE ALLEYWAY - NIGHT
Only the cigarette ember reveals Cal's presence. The tattooed male appears several feet away. He nods at Cal.
As before the men come and go until finally the neon sign no longer says OPEN or PEN. The male leans forward, his face eager.
Cal glances at him and moves away. The male lifts a gaudy video case.
With all the girls in cabs, Cal runs to flag the last one.
INT. COCO'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Coco paces, staccato-puffing a cigarette. Tears carve channels through her make-up. The sobs come from gut deep.
She glances to a knock at her door. She checks the time, sighs and wipes the tears clean. She checks her hair and dabs a bit of perfume. She walks composed to the door.
She frowns at the peephole, looks up, steps back to think.
OUTSIDE COCO'S DOOR
The door opens to Coco's snarling face.
Cal, humble, weary, has no answer. She eyes his suitcase.
She slams the door.
INSIDE THE DOOR
Her eyes widen.
For the first time, humor, even if gallows, as she laughs. She whips the door open.
Coco contemplates her dilemma.
She looks to his single bag and shakes her head, but steps back as a gesture to enter. Cal hesitates and steps in.
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