Printable version of Blurred

Blurred
presented by Suburban Films
written by Chris Shue

1.         EXT. BOSTON CITY STREET - DAY 

TITLE CARD: April, 1994

A tall man in his early twenties walks down a city street with a slight grin on his face. MICHAEL STEVENS (Vince Vaughn) moves with the purpose of someone who is late for an appointment. He stops at an intersection, waits for the light to change and crosses the street.  It is a warm spring day. Suddenly, there is a deafening explosion about two buildings down from Stevens. The force of the blast knocks Stevens on his ass, and bits of concrete and glass rain down on the street around him. Suddenly aware, he screams out: 

MICHAEL STEVENS

ALLISON!

He tries to get up, but has trouble standing on his own. As he begins to lose consciousness, he can hear people screaming around him, while the faint sound of sirens draw closer. 

FADE OUT:

2.         INT. BOSTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Stevens sits inside a charmless hospital waiting room, covered in a head bandage and matching sling. Beside him is JANICE (Emily Watson), Allison’s best friend. They watch news about the bombing on the lounge television, but we only get bits and pieces from the news anchor. 

NEWS ANCHOR

Bombing this afternoon…abortion clinic…seven dead…thirteen injured…no leads…

Janice looks at Michael as tears begin to well up in her eyes again. Michael hands her a handkerchief just as the doctor, a forty-ish black female, walks into the room. Her expression betrays what she is about to say. 

DOCTOR

Mr. Stevens?

MICHAEL

Yes?

DOCTOR

I’m sorry, Mr. Stevens, but your fiancée suffered severe internal bleeding, as well as major trauma to the head and neck. Despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to save her.

Stevens just looks at her blankly until his bottom lip, then his whole face, begins to quiver. He collapses to the floor, sobbing deeply, shaking violently, screaming, cursing. Janice covers him – she is also sobbing. The Doctor looks at the two of them, collapsed on the floor, and we notice that, silently, she too has begun to cry.

FADE OUT:

Title and credits roll over a montage of the next nine years of Stevens’ life. We see him doing a number of things. Attending Allison’s funeral. Alone in his room, crying. Crying in the arms of Janice. Fitfully sleeping. Attending the FBI Training Academy. Reading newspaper accounts of the bombing that killed Allison. Graduating from the FBI Academy. Marrying Janice. Doing deskwork at FBI headquarters. Sitting alone in the dark of his new home. Holding his newborn baby while his toddler son crawls into his lap. Crying in the arms of his wife. This montage lasts approximately five minutes, giving us insight into the trajectory of his life over the past nine years.

FADE IN:

3.         EXT. motel 50 – day

TITLE CARD: June, 2003

Michael Stevens pulls into the parking lot of a particularly shitty looking motel. He isn’t surprised to see a fat balding businessman exiting one of the rooms with a particularly used looking bimbette. Stevens checks his watch and follows the exterior stairs up to room 235. He enters without knocking.

4.         INT. motel 50 hotel room – day

Michael closes the door behind him and is greeted by a sixty-ish man named CLIFF HOWARD (Phillip Baker Hall). Howard’s face is deeply lined, but his eyes belie a frightening toughness. He smiles warmly at Michael.

CLIFF HOWARD

Michael, how are ya’?

He shakes Michael’s hand.

MICHAEL

To tell you the truth, Mr. Howard, I’d be better if I knew why I was asked to meet one-on-one with my Unit Commander in the middle of the day at Motel Fifty.

Howard motions to a chair.

HOWARD

Have a seat, Michael.

MICHAEL

Ok, Mr. Howard.

He goes to sit down. Howard sits in a seat beside him.

HOWARD

First things first, Michael – it’s Cliff.

MICHAEL

Alright.

HOWARD

Michael, I am going to be blunt with you. Our Unit has been given a directive to take aggressive action against known terrorists in this country. We have been given wide latitude to end domestic terrorist threats, up to and including selective termination.

At the risk of being clichéd here, Michael, this directive is of Level 7 security, meaning you, myself, and one other have knowledge of it. As the operation continues, more agents may become involved, but I have chosen you as the beginning point. Of course, I have no knowledge of you exact orders.  They are given to me sealed and I am to pass them on to you. Then we go from there.

Howard gets up from the chair, goes across the room, and pulls a large, white plastic envelope from his briefcase. He hands it to Michael.

HOWARD

Here is your first assignment.

MICHAEL

I’m sorry, but before I open this, I have several questions for you.

HOWARD

Well, I don’t know that I can answer them, but you can go ahead and ask.

MICHAEL
(visibly agitated)

What I am being asked to do is, I am sure, outside the bounds of US Federal law. Who initiated this directive? Who is making the decisions on which terrorists should be targeted? Am I acting alone here? Am I getting adequate intelligence? Will I get hung out to dry if things go wrong and you get hauled in front of a Senate Investigation? And…and…why in God’s NAME did you have to pick me? I applied to be part of the Domestic Anti-Terrorism Unit to work against terrorism, not to BECOME a terrorist. With all due respect, Cliff…WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?

HOWARD

Now, now…take it easy son. You haven’t opened that envelope yet. Of course I can’t reveal where these directives are coming from, but I will tell you that we are not operating outside of the structure of the Bureau.

(beat)

And remember one thing. These…people…this…garbage that you are being directed to dispose of – they are most likely guilty of killing and maiming dozens of women and children for some bullshit “cause”.

(getting angrier)

If our justice system was worth a shit, they would be fucking frying and we wouldn’t have to think TWICE about them!

(catches breath)

And don’t forget about the hundreds of cells out there that are plotting and waiting…plotting and waiting…planning on committing these evil, despicable acts and nary a goddamn thing we can do about it.

Michael carefully listens, inevitably thinking back to the bombing. A quick flashback of the explosion keys us into this fact. A news report related to the unsolved bombing also weaves into the flashback.

HOWARD

Michael.

Michael snaps out of this thought. He looks at Howard.

 HOWARD

Son, I am not going to leave you out to dry.  I’m an ex-marine for chrissakes.

(smiles)

Now open the envelope and let’s get it started.

Michael begins opening the envelope and is not as visibly tense. He pulls out the contents of the envelope as we

FADE OUT:

5.         INT. HOME OF MAX DAVIS - NIGHT

 

Four adults, 3 men and one woman, sit around a kitchen table drinking Pabst and talking in a most animated fashion. They are all pretty drunk and the volume of their voices keeps getting louder. They look like your garden variety rednecks. They have Big ZZ Top beards and/or long hair, missing teeth, a big plug of chaw in their gum. The woman wears a tight lace fringed Harley-Davidson shirt and sucks on Virginia Slims. MAX DAVIS (Ted Levine) is the leader of this crew, as he is the only one with an ounce of brains. JETHRO DAVIS, DARLENE SNELLINGS, and JOHNNY FRANK KNAPP round out this chapter of the “Texas Freedom Party”.

JETHRO
(slurring in a big way)

…no worse than when that pussshy Clinton was up there in Warshington..

DARLENE

Jethro…you are a DUMBSHIT. Clinton was the Vice President! Shit for brains third grade education. Heeeheeeheee.

Max

Sweet Jesus! Would you two cut it out! We have to get this down right…plain and simple.

(looks around the table)

One more time.

Max commences to explain how they are going to knockoff a convenience store twenty miles outside of town. The job will be done after midnight, when the proprietor is asleep. Johhny Frank will drive the truck, Darlene will be on lookout and Max and Jethro will slip into the store and steal the safe. Darlene has it on good authority that the safe is in the back behind the meat slicer.

 MAX

And once we get our haul…where does the money go?

 EVERYONE
(making a Pabst toast)

The Texas Freedom Party! WeeeeeHaaaaa!

6.         INT. STEVENS HOME – NIGHT

The Stevens home is nice but not too nice. Janice tucks the kids into bed, then walks into her bedroom and lets her hair down. The ringing phone startles her.

JANICE

Hello?

(beat)

Michael!

(beat)

How are you, honey?

(beat)

I’m sorry. If it make you feel any better, we miss you very much. I miss you the most. When are you coming home?

(beat)

I know, I know. I won’t ask anymore questions. Michael? Is everything ok? You sound really distant.

7.         INT. MOTEL 8 – NIGHT

 

We now see Michael’s side of the conversation from this point on. He is sitting on his bed in his boxers. He stares blankly at his toes.

MICHAEL

Everything is fine. Quit asking me that.

(beat)

Well I don’t know what to tell you.  I don’t really have a choice.

(beat)

Yes, yes…I know. Listen I have to go.

(beat)

I’m sorry I have to…I have to get some rest.

(beat)

Ok. Yes…of course…me too. Bye.

Michael hangs up and closes his eyes.

8.         INT. STEVENS HOME - NIGHT

Janice hangs up the phone and slumps on the bed. Her eyes begin watering and her body language screams “lonely and depressed”. She rolls over onto her back, grabs the remote control and turns on the television. Some generic interview show is on and the blow-dryed host is interviewing BUXTON SWAIN (Jon Voight). Janice watches with detached interest. The camera zooms slowly into the television picture until we switch scenes to the set of the show.

9.         INT. TELEVISION STUDIO - NIGHT

Buxton Swain is a tall, charismatic, ex-evangelist type. He jabs his finger in the air when making a point and makes his opinions known with a Southern drawl.

INTERVIEWER

So, Mr. Swain, you feel like the present administration is doing a poor job of leading this country at the beginning of the Twentieth Century?

SWAIN

Why yes, John, I do. Look at history.  The decline and fall of civilizations can be traced directly to a “moral malaise” if you will, that sets in after a tremendous run of prosperity.

INTERVIEWER

Give me examples, if you will, of what this administration is doing poorly.

SWAIN

That’s easy.  The entertainment industry is destroying our children. But the current administration embraces that Godless industry by refusing to enforce limits on prurient material.

(beat)

And their abortion record is abysmal. Allowing a woman to abort in any case is against God’s will, yet they are publicly supportive of late-term abortions.

INTERVIEWER
(Looking at his notes)

Now you have come out against abortion rights in any case.  Does that include rape and incest?

SWAIN

That’s right.  A child is a child is a child, regardless of how it got here. Maybe the mother would want to keep that child more once it was born.

 INTERVIEWER

You’ve been tabbed by some as the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination next year. Any plans to declare?

The interview continues on like this as we

FADE OUT:

10.    EXT. THICK WOODS SOMEWHERE IN EAST CENTRAL TEXAS - MORNING

 

Max Davis is out hunting by himself again. He has been tracking something for hours, and the camera follows him for a bit. He stops, leans up against a tree, pulls out a bowl, and has a smoke. He stands relaxed for a bit, taking in his surroundings. Something cracks behind him and hearing this he swings around. The barrel of Stevens gun presses firmly against his forehead.

MAX

WHAT THE FUCK!

MICHAEL

I’m sorry, but your plot has been uncovered. If you had been successful you would have been responsible for the deaths of dozens of women and children. Therefore I have been sent here to terminate you.

MAX

What are you talking about? What plo…<<CRACK>>>.

With a single shot, Stevens puts Davis down, turns and walks away, disappearing in the thicket of woods.

11.    INT. UNKOWN OFFICE - NIGHT

The camera shows two mouths and two phones and two men, in separate rooms, cast in dark shadows. They are discussing something related to the directive, but it doesn’t seem exactly right – not exactly as described by Cliff Howard.

MALE VOICE #1

It’s done. I just received word. What is the next target?

 MALE VOICE #2

Good. I am getting nervous about this whole affair.

(beat)

Who would his profile tell him to go for next?

MALE VOICE #1

Well, that seems obvious then.

MALE VOICE #2

Send him to Boston. I will have a name for you by Thursday. Time is growing short, you know. Swain’s star is rising fast. 

MALE VOICE #1

You know that we haven’t made a firm decision on how we’re terminating Stevens, correct?

MALE VOICE #2

Yes, well then…I think that I will leave that up to you. Goodbye.

12.    INT. AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT #347 DFW TO DULLES - NIGHT

Stevens is asleep in his first class seatt, sleeping fitfully, like a man who has just killed someone. In his dream he is running to meet Allison for lunch, but his legs are heavy and he knows he is going to be a split second too late. He will always be a split second too late.  He watches the abortion clinic where she worked explode into millions of tiny little bits, which float around him in the air, like fairy dust. He grabs the dust from the air and rubs it against his skin, smells it. Suddenly he is covered in blood, standing in front of Max Davis.  He has a gun pointed at Davis’ head.

MICHAEL

You! You fucking killed her! <<CRACK>>

With the gunshot, Davis’ head snaps back, but then snaps forward, revealing the head of Allison. Michael drops to his knees weeping.

ATTENDANT

Sir? Sir? Are you o.k.? Sir?

(Michael wakes with a start)

You were yelling in your sleep…scaring the other passengers…

MICHAEL

(rubs his face)

I’m really sorry. Honestly. Jesus...

13.    INT. STEVENS BEDROOM - NIGHT

Michael and Janice make love in the shadows, but it is very quiet and emotionless, particularly from Michael’s end. A CU of his face shows a complete blank. Relaxed moans come from Janice’s throat, but as she is near climax, Michael roles off and turns away from her.

JANICE

Honey, are you ok?

(beat)

Michael? Honey?

She rubs his shoulder and back.

MICHAEL

It’s nothing…I…I just have a lot on my mind.

 JANICE

I haven’t seen you like this since Allison died.

MICHAEL

Please don’t bring that up, I am depressed enough as it is.

JANICE

Well what should I do, Michael? You have been practically dead the past month. I am your wife, for godsakes! You are treating your family like a band of fucking strangers. I am trying hard to make this marriage work, but you aren’t even trying!

(long silence)

Fine. Why did you even marry me? Your still in love with my dead best friend. I swear to God, Michael, if I hadn’t practically been your servant for the two years after Allison died, I doubt you would have married me.

(crying)

Damnit, Michael, I love you so much, what is going on?

Michael rolls over and faces Janice.

MICHAEL

I’m sorry honey. I love you too.  Work has just been bad lately – the kind of stuff I don’t want to talk about. I guess I have been having more nightmares about the bombing lately, too. I guess I’ll never have any sense of closure with that. I am just getting more and more bitter about the whole thing.

JANICE

Michael, the case is long closed. They will never find the bomber. Try and understand that so that you can put it behind you.

MICHAEL

(Quietly)

I know. I know. I’m sorry.

14.         EXT. MOTEL 50 – DAY

Michael returns to the same Motel to meet again with Cliff Howard. Michael walks up the stairs to the same room and opens the door. Cliff is in the room with another man – Michael is about to meet DAVID ARNOLD (Nick Nolte).

CLIFF

Michael, come in. This is Agent David Arnold. He’s been with the Bureau almost as long as I have.

David Arnold grabs Michael’s hand and shakes it firmly.

DAVID ARNOLD

Hey Michael, how the hell are ya’? This is something else, eh?

Michael is a bit taken aback as Cliff had not mentioned a third person being at their next meeting. And his body language betrays an immediate wariness of Arnold.

MICHAEL
(distracted)

Nice…Nice to meet you. What’s going on, Cliff?

HOWARD

Nothing Michael. Nothing at all. It‘s just that our scope is increasing and we need an additional man - as I mentioned during our first meeting. David is going to help with some of the advance work and join you if needed in certain situations. 

However, if they all go as smoothly as last week did, a second man might not be necessary. They found that scumbag’s body four days ago. He had a lot of enemies and the local cops just have to take their pick.

ARNOLD

Fucking redneck prick. You know probably saved fifty lives right there, Mike. I wish to God I had been there with you. 

CLIFF

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I asked you to come here because a new directive has been received. David will be traveling with you, but will not otherwise be involved in this operation.

Howard hands Michael the envelope. As Michael opens it a smile crosses his face.

HOWARD

So I take it you don’t mind going to Boston? 

15.  INT. USAIR FLIGHT #388 – DAY

Michael and David Arnold sit side by side in first class. David, while not as tall as Michael, is thick and looks like he could break someone’s neck without really trying. At present, he is snoring along peacefully, a half-empty Jack and Coke sitting on the tray table in front of him. Michael looks over at him several times, but mostly stares straight ahead. We flashback to last scene and find out the details of this mission through a montage of dialogue between David, Michael, and Cliff. Michael is going to Boston to kill a known anti abortion “soldier” named James Faldo. According to the directive, Faldo is involved in a new mission called Operation Holy Right.  The mission’s objective is to kill five abortion clinic doctors within the space of two days. Faldo, a pipe-fitter from South Boston, was arrested for an abortion clinic bombing four years ago, but released because of lack of evidence. Arnold finished the briefing by telling Stevens that there was evidence that Faldo was involved in the abortion clinic bombing that killed Allison.

Michael pushes his seat back and closes his eyes. He dreams about killing Davis, and he dreams of killing Faldo, and he sleeps peacefully until the plane lands.

16.  INT. CAR – NIGHT

Arnold and Michael drive up to a neighborhood-ish bar called McGovern’s, right outside of downtown Boston.

ARNOLD

I’m just going to park right across the street in that parking lot over there and wait. See it there?

MICHAEL

Yep. I might see you in five minutes.  Or I might see you in five hours. Sleep tight.

Michael gets out of the car. He walks into McGovern’s.

17.         INT. MGOVERN’S PUB – NIGHT

McGovern’s is one of your basic neighborhood Irish bars.  A couple of men in tam-o-shanter caps play darts and watch European League soccer from a video feed on the tube. The bar is moderately full and pretty loud. A strange mix of Irish ballads and 80’s dance tunes emanates from the jukebox. Stevens scans the bar, but doesn’t see Faldo. He walks over to the bathroom and as he walks in, he runs into a slight-looking man in jeans, a flannel, and work boots. PAUL FALDO (Lucian) looks up at Michael and scowls.

PAUL FALDO
(a little drunk)

Watch where the fuck you’re going there, stretch.

MICHAEL

Oh…hey…my fault. Need to look where I’m going. Tell you what…let me make it up to you…lemme buy you a drink.

FALDO

That’s ok. Just watch where you’re going.

MICHAEL

Alright, well at least let me buy you a drink.

FALDO

You aren’t some type of fag are you?

(Looks Michael up and down)

Ahhh…what the hell. I guess I’ll take a free drink.

Michael and Faldo go to the bar and order a round of Irish Whiskey. Faldo gets drunker, but more comfortable with Michael as the evening wears on. We see them talking seriously, then Faldo becomes animated and Michael listens intently. Several hours of intense conversation have gone by and it is now near closing time. Faldo is completely shit-faced by this point, while Michael has done his best to stay sober, but is still pretty buzzed.

FALDO

…and that is what I am fucking saying. These pansy ass liberals are trying to take everything we got! Goddamn taxes are higher than ever. A man can barely make ends meet. Hell, you know…how much of your cab driver salary do you get to keep each month?

MICHAEL

Not too damn much, that’s for sure.

FALDO

Yup. Well one thing at a time, right? If we can get those liberal puppets off the Supreme Court, then we can restore some fucking order in this country. And don’t get me started on Roe again.

Michael laughs. He gets up off his stool.

MICHAEL

Well, it looks like they are about to close up shop for the night. You need a ride home?

FALDO

Hell, I drive better drunk than I do sober. You’re the one who needs a ride, you drunk bastard.

MICHAEL
(laughing)

Yeah, I am fucked up. Do you mind?

FALDO

Not at all. Besides, I like the way you think. I got some friends that I want you to meet – maybe we can swing by there on the way home.

Michael and Faldo get up, pay their tab and leave.

18.         INT. FALDO’S CAR – NIGHT

Faldo fumbles for his keys as Michael pulls a syringe out of his pocket.

FALDO
(yelling)

Oh, no you fucking junkie. Not in my car. Get the fuck out of my car. Get out!

MICHAEL

Hey…hey! Take it easy. I’m diabetic.

FALDO

Oh, my mistake. I’m sorry, George.

MICHAEL

Hey…you didn’t know.

And with that Michael jams the syringe into Faldo’s neck, pressing the plunger all the way down. A shrill gurgling noise comes out of Faldo’s throat as he convulses, then lays still with his eyes wide open.

MICHAEL
(to Faldo)

You piece of shit. You miserable piece of shit. That’s for Allison you son of a bitch. YOU SON OF A BITCH.

Michael punches Faldo’s body, rambling about Allison, about Faldo, about killing innocent people. He is sobbing. Sobbing and rambling and punching. He goes on for several minutes but eventually gets a hold of himself. Then he stops, composes himself and cleans up. He wipes the interior of the car down and gets out. He walks out of the parking lot and crosses the street, where Arnold waits.

19.         INT. UNKNOWN OFFICE – NIGHT

The same two voices that were speaking on the phone in an earlier scene are speaking again. As before, we can see their bodies in dark shadows, making it impossible to determine their identities. The camera focuses on the dark outlines of their heads as they talk. Camera cuts away to different objects in both offices as the two speak. A burning cigarette, a half-empty highball glass.

VOICE #1

It’s done.

VOICE #2

Good. We need to get moving. The polls show him moving up. Quickly.

VOICE #1

Just one more, then we can execute the final phase.

VOICE #2

Forget that. We need to move this along faster.

VOICE #1

We have a perfect directive, though. Getting Stevens to carry it out will make it easier to accomplish the final task.

VOICE #2

That is true. Fine…have him kill Rogers. But do it this week. I want this thing done before the polls come out at the end of the month. What is his general mental state?

VOICE #1

Stevens? Strange, really. I think he is almost beginning to enjoy it. During our debriefing he was damn near energetic about Boston. That poor S.O.B. he killed didn’t have a chance. I think we made the right choice. Stevens has some deep-seated hatreds resulting from that clinic bombing that killed his fiancée.

VOICE #2

That’s why we chose him. Listen, don’t contact me again until this is done. We have been speaking too often recently.

VOICE #1

Yes, we have. OK, I will…

(Click)

Hello?

We see the phone being hung up as the individual takes the highball glass from his desk and brings it to his lips. He drains the glass and puts it down He picks up the phone and dials.

VOICE #1

David? This is Cliff. We need to speed this thing up.

FADE OUT:

20.         INT. STEVENS HOUSE – MORNING

Stevens sits in his family room with his feet up on the coffee table, reading the paper. Cartoons play on the television as both of his children (boys aged 3 and 5) watch with rapt attention. Stevens keeps flashing back to the look on Faldo’s face when he died and the look on Davis’ face right before being killed. The faces begin blending together and Stevens has to close his eyes hard to make them go away.

Janice walks into the room and sees Michael.

JANICE

Michael? Honey? Are you alright?

Michael opens his eyes and looks up at her.

MICHAEL

Yeah…I’m fine. I just have a headache. Do we have any Excedrin around?

JANICE

Yeah, sweetie. I’ll go get some for you. Oh…I forgot to tell you. Guess who called while you were in Detroit?

MICHAEL

Who?

JANICE

Steven.

MICHAEL

Wow, really? I haven’t talked to him in a year. What did he have to say?

JANICE

He’s here in DC for some Bureau training program. He’ll be here for two weeks. In fact, I invited him over for dinner tonight.

MICHAEL

Cool. I haven’t seen him since he was transferred to the Biloxi field office.

21.         INT. FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, GREENVILLE, SC – DAY

Buxton Swain sits in the front pew with his wife as the preacher finishes his sermon. Once he is done, he introduces Swain to the congregation and there is hearty applause. Swain talks about the moral decay of the country, the godlessness that has been promoted by its current leaders. He bows his head and leads the assembly in prayer, asking for forgiveness for the President and Congress, asking God to help save the greatest Country in the world. He gets a standing ovation when he is finished and strolls triumphantly down the aisle, outside the church to the front steps where a press conference is about to be held.

22.         EXT. FRONT STEPS, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, GREENVILLE

Swain strides to the podium, and there is a throng of reporters and cameramen waiting for him. An entourage seemingly appears out of nowhere, flanking Swain. Churchgoers poor out of the chapel and down the steps, beaming. They take their places behind the media, making for a good sized group of people. At least eight hundred people now stand in front of the church, waiting to hear Swain speak.

SWAIN
(into the microphone)

Thank you all for coming here today. This is where I started my religious career, thirty years ago, as an assistant pastor at this very church. So much has changed in those thirty years. Christianity in America is under attack more than at any time in the history of this country. Woman are allowed to take their baby’s lives and the government is doing everything it can to help them.

Our children can’t pray in their own schools. They are taught a secularist view of history that urges them to turn away from the Lord our Savior. Homosexuals are allowed, even encouraged, to marry and adopt our children. Sin is rampant in this country, my friends, and our current administration is fiddling as this great country burns to the ground. Well, I for one can no longer take it. That’s why, today, I am announcing my intent to run as the Republican Candidate for President of the United States.

There are deafening cheers and applause, and Swain puts both arms in the air, in a triumphant pose. A high school band plays off to the side of the steps. Swain takes questions from the media, which asks him how he feels about being the automatic frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The press conference lasts for about thirty minutes. Once it is over, Swain is ushered into a limousine that is waiting for him in front of the church.

23.         INT. LIMOUSINE – DAY

Swain and his wife get into the limousine and find another person waiting for them in the backseat.  This is ROY HUFFINS (Joe Don Baker), a reclusive Atlanta Billionaire that is known for supporting a variety of right-wing causes. A big man, he nearly takes up the whole back seat.

ROY HUFFINS

Nice job, Buxton. You’ve got those Dems running scared now. You just shoved a big fucking grenade up Harrison’s ass. I’ll bet the Vice President just pissed his pants.

SWAIN

Jesus Chirst, watch your mouth in front of my wife, Roy. Nice fucking language.

They both laugh as Swain’s wife gets a sour look on her wrinkly face.

HUFFINS

Listen, I talked to Greene and he seems to think that the voters are ready for a militant stand on abortion. I think you should go great guns on it for the next month. Really make yourself stand out.

SWAIN

No way. I can’t be perceived as too far right. I’m no Buchanan, or at least I don’t want the public thinking that. Which leads me to another point, Roy. This has to be our last meeting for a while. I can’t have any ties to you if I am going to have a chance at this thing. No hard feelings, but all of your connections will do nothing but get me beaten.

HUFFINS

I had a feeling this was coming. Look, we still need to get together once and a while and kick around strategy. We can do it at night, at my house. That way no one will know where you are or that we are meeting. The press is so goddman stupid they’ll follow any decoy car you send out ahead of you. Face it, you need me. You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me.

SWAIN

All right, you are right. Let’s get together in a week or two. How about next Sunday?

HUFFINS

Great.

24.         INT. STEVENS HOUSE – NIGHT

We see Stevens and his family having dinner with Michael’s longtime friend STEPHEN JACKSON (Don Cheadle). From the conversation, we learn that Jackson and Stevens were together at the Academy in Quantico. We also learn that they worked together for several years before Jackson got married and moved back to his wife’s hometown in Mississippi. Jackson now works in the Biloxi field office. He is a textbook great guy. Funny, intelligent, respectful, loyal. Everyone is laughing and having a good time at dinner. The camera shows Janice looking at Michael and she is obviously happy that he is happy – for the first time, it seems, in months.

25.         INT. STEVENS HOUSE LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

It’s late and Janice and the children have gone to bed. Michael and Stephen sit up in the living room talking. Michael, who has not been able to completely resolve what he is so deeply involved with, talks in general terms with Stephen about the Domestic Anti-Terrorism Unit and what they have been involved in. They talk about Cliff Howard and Michael brings up David Arnold’s name.

STEPHEN JACKSON

David Arnold? You’re kidding.

MICHAEL

No. We just started working together two weeks ago.

STEPHEN

Michael, that guy is infamous. He’s been suspended at least twice. He beat up one of his partners and put him in the hospital. He “accidently” shot another one during a drug bust. That’s the stuff that’s on his official record. The other stuff is rumored and much worse.

MICHAEL

Like what?

STEPHEN

Like he’s completely corrupt. Like he has shaken down hundreds of people. Like he has killed several crooks when they’re business dealings got out of hand. Of course, it's all rumor, but he is supposed to be on administrative duty until his retirement. There is no way they would let him work with your Unit. No freakin’ way.

(He looks squarely at Michael).

What kind of shit are you involved with Michael? You are talking in general terms about all of these “directives”, but it doesn’t sound like the kind of procedures the Bureau follows. I don’t know that much about Cliff Howard, but I know that Arnold is no good. Michael, tell me you aren’t breaking the law.

Michael looks away from Stephen. He is heavily conflicted, his face looks pained. The number of questions racing in his head are making him dizzy.

MICHAEL

Stephen…I…I can’t. I can’t tell you anything. It’s high-level stuff. I am not even sure what is going on. I don’t know anymore. The whole operation is completely insulated. Nobody knows what is going on. We meet away from the office and don’t file reports and…

Michael trails off.

STEPHEN

Look, it’s ok. Let me make some phone calls at least. Just poke around a little.

MICHAEL

OK. That would probably help. I don’t know what is going on with me lately. I have just been consumed with thoughts of Allison and the bombing. I think work is taking a toll on me. Janice has got to be sick of me. I am just not the same person anymore. I don’t know who the hell I am. I am just becoming this detached, soulless thing. All I can think about is revenge and justice and…shit I don’t know. The anger and regret is paralyzing sometimes. I’m a goddamn stranger to myself and my family.

Michael continues this stream-of-consciousness semi-confession to Stephen. Stephen looks at him warily. Michael begins crying and buries his hands in his face.

STEPHEN
(patting him on the back)

Jesus, Michael, it’s ok. It’s ok. I’ll make some calls. Se what I can find out. You take it easy. Go upstairs and tell your wife you love her. Take a couple of days off work. We’ll get you straightened out.

FADE OUT:

26.         EXT. MONTAGE OF SCENES – DAY AND NIGHT

The following scenes are played as another montage against slow, deliberate music. We sense the struggle in Michael during these scenes, as he realizes he is going over the edge. There are numerous close-ups of his face as we move through three separate scenes: the first is Cliff, David and he discussing another objective.  The music fades in and out as we catch sections of the objective. We hear “separatist” “Franklin Garrett” “destroy a federal building” and “secluded in the mountains”.

The second is David and Michael scoping out a small run down house in a clearing. They see trucks come and go. The same man keeps coming outside to relieve himself.

The last scene is during the night and David and Michael standing up against what appears to be the same house. When the same man from the previous scene, presumably Franklin Garrett, David grabs him while Michael moves to strangle him. Another man comes out of the house and surprises them. David turns and in one move, knocks him down and pulls a knife out, slitting the man’s neck. Michael is struggling to strangle Garrett, but when he sees David slit the other man’s throat, all of the strength goes out of him and Garrett struggles free. Garrett gets up and start to run, when he suddenly collapses from a gunshot to the back of the head from David’s gun. The camera ends on Michael’s face. He looks like he’s in shock. David pulls him up on his feet and they move quickly into the woods.

FADE OUT:

27.         INT. FBI BUILDING WASHINGTON, DC – DAY

Michael sits at his desk, staring at the wall. He sees something in his periphery and turns to see Max Davis running toward him. He visibly recoils and shakes his head and Davis is gone. His phone rings and he jumps.

MICHAEL

Michael Stevens.

STEPHEN

Michael, it’s Stephen. You got a second? Yeah, I definitely need to talk to you. You aren’t going to believe what I found out.

MICHAEL

I should probably go to a pay phone. Are you still at the Marriott?

STEPHEN

Yeah, call me back.

Michael gets up from his desk and quickly heads to the elevator.

28.    EXT. ACROSS THE STREET FROM FBI HEADQUARTERS – DAY

Michael has the phone cradled in the crook of his neck as he dials the number.

STEPHEN

Michael?

MICHAEL

Yeah, Stephen, it’s me. Look, things are getting out of hand here.

STEPHEN

They must be, because guess what.

MICHAEL

What?

STEPHEN

David Arnold got kicked out the Bureau last year. He hasn’t been an agent for over nine months. He got caught in a random drug sting at a massage parlor in San Diego. That was kind of the last straw, but rather than bringing bad p.r. to the Bureau, they let him leave quietly.

MICHAEL

Jesus.

STEPHEN

That’s nothing, my friend. Cliff Howard is under investigation with internal affairs. I can’t find out what it is they are investigating, though…I just know that they are keeping it completely quiet.

MICHAEL

Then how did you find out?

STEPHEN

You remember Laura Murdock, right? She was in our class at the Academy. Anyway, she’s in internal affairs now and we swap info every now and then. She owed me one.

(beat)

Look, Michael these are BAD guys. Whatever you are doing with them or whatever they have you involved in…get out. Get out now. Now listen, I <<click>>…hello? Michael?

MICHAEL

I’m still here Stephen. It sounded like your line was…I don’t know. It sounded like a clicking sound. There’s no way they can tap this line. Are you still there? Stephen?

The line suddenly goes dead. Michael drops the phone and sprints up the street towards the Marriot, which is about eight blocks away.

29.    INT. MARRIOTT HOTEL LOBBY – DAY

Michael bursts into the hotel lobby, dripping sweat, panting. He runs to the reception desk, running into a dolly, knocking over a stack of luggage. He makes it to the desk, out of breath.

MICHAEL

Stephen Jackson’s room please. Now…I need to know what room he’s in.

HOTEL CLERK

I’m sorry sir, but I am not allowed to give out that information. Can I help you with something else?

By this time Michael has the attention of the hundred or so patrons milling around in the lobby.

MICHAEL

Look, I have to see him, he might be in some serious danger. PLEASE.

HOTEL CLERK

Sir, I can patch you through to his room and he can give you his room number. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to give out that information.

MICHAEL
(Still agitated)

Fine, fine…hurry up! His name is Stephen Jackson.

The hotel clerk types the name into her computer. A frown passes over her face.

HOTEL CLERK

I’m sorry sir, but there is no one registered here by that name.

MICHAEL
(incredulous)

That CAN’T be. I just talked to him. Look again. Please.

HOTEL CLERK

But sir, I…

MICHAEL
(screaming)

LOOK AGAIN!

HOTEL CLERK

I am looking again. No one registered under the name Jackson. No one registered here in the past 10 days with that last name, in fact.

MICHAEL

You don’t understand…I JUST talked to him.

Out of the corner of his eye, Michael sees two security guards moving toward him. He pulls his badge and screams at the woman.

MICHAEL (cont’d)

Look, I am an agent with Federal Bureau of Investigation. Tell me RIGHT NOW what room Stephen Jackson is in or I am placing you under arrest.

HOTEL CLERK
(crying)

Sir, I’m sorry, but he is not registered. You can come around the desk and look for yourself. Please…I’m sorry…there must be some misunderstanding.

Michael backs away from the desk, suddenly aware of all the eyes on him. He runs out the front door and hails a taxi.

30.    EXT. STEVENS HOUSE – DAY

Michael gets out of the can and runs up to the front door of his house, as he enters he can see through the front window that Janice is in the living room talking to someone. He glances to his left and sees a dark blue sedan parked in the driveway. He opens the front door.

31.    INT. STEVENS HOUSE – DAY

He walks through the front door and sees David Arnold sitting in his living room having a cup of coffee and a chat with his wife. They both look up at him, smiling, as if they were old friends.

MICHAEL

What the fuck are you doing here, David?

JANICE

Michael! What in God’s name is wrong with you?

MICHAEL
(to david)

Get the fuck out of here, Arnold. GET OUT!

ARNOLD

David, David…take it easy. What’s going on? You look like shit, my friend.

(to Janice)

Would it be rude if Michael and I went on the back porch and had a chat?

JANICE

Of course not, David. You aren’t the one who is being rude here.

She gives Michael a disgusted look.

ARNOLD

Come on Michael. I came over to spill the beans to you anyway. Come on.

Michael follows Arnold to the back porch. David closes the sliding glass door behind them.

MICHAEL

What did you do to Stephen. I want to know right now.

ARNOLD

Don’t you worry what happened to that rat bastard. Worry about what is going to happen to your lovely family if you don’t keep your fucking mouth shut.

Michael lunges at Arnold, knocking him through the porch screen. They wrestle around on the grass in the backyard until Arnold gets the upper hand and pokes a gun in Michael’s face. Luckily, the Stevens have a big backyard fence, secluding this scene from Michael's neighbors. Janice is in the family room reading.

ARNOLD (CONT’D)

Are you willing to die right now you little prick? You little prick murderer. I’ll kill you right now if I have to. RIGHT NOW. I could give a shit what Cliff says about the operation. You will die RIGHT NOW if you don’t get your ass together.

Michael semi-relaxes and Arnold gets off of him and sits down beside him.

MICHAEL

What the hell is going on here? What have I gotten myself into? What has Cliff gotten me into? Jesus Christ. What have I done? I have killed two men that I don’t even KNOW. Just because some piece of paper in some freakin’ envelope told me to. For all I know those guys and the two you killed did NOTHING wrong.

ARNOLD

Bingo.

Michael has a look of genuine surprise on his face.

MICHAEL

What? WHAT?! What are you saying?

ARNOLD

I am saying that you killed two innocent men in cold blood. They never did anything wrong ‘cept hate their government. You were supposed to kill Garrett too, remember…but you pussied out so I had to finish the job for you. Look, the world isn’t going to miss three or four lowlife fucks. They were just appetizers before the big meal. 

See, it doesn’t matter who they are, Michael. It matters who YOU are. Do you know who you are? Can you honestly say that you know who you are? Because I know who you are. You’re some sad-sack survivor that lost his girlfriend and is flailing in a sinking marriage. Not a day goes by that you don’t want to save Allison, but you’ll never get that chance. And you know it. It makes it worse that they never found the dumb bastard that killed her. You’ve got just enough blind anger and vengeance in you to make you stupid, Michael. You were an obvious target. We had you chosen from day one.

Michael is having trouble breathing now and the world starts spinning around him. The camera view is from his perspective as things become increasingly skewed. We cut to a view of the two of them, sitting on the back lawn, just as Michael throws up.

32.    EXT. MOTEL 50 – DAY 

Michael pulls up to the same motel where they have met before and after each of the killings. It is the day after Michael’s run in with Arnold in his backyard. He has a cut over his eye and is wearing sunglasses. He walks slowly up the steps to the second floor rooms and goes to the room where Howard and Arnold are waiting for him.

33.    INT. MOTEL 50 – DAY

HOWARD

Have a seat Michael. I am going to make this fast and you’re going to listen.

Michael sits down. Arnold offers him some coffee but he shakes his head “no”.

HOWARD (CONT’D)

There’s one more directive, Michael, and then its over. You have an easy choice. Complete the operation I am about to give you or David puts a bullet in your head and then goes and kills your wife.

MICHAEL

Start talking.

HOWARD

Buxton Swain and Roy Huffins are meeting at Huffins' estate in Atlanta tomorrow night to discuss Swain’s candidacy. You and David are to go down there and kill them both, making it look like a murder-suicide by Huffins.

MICHAEL

Why? What did they do or what didn’t they do?

HOWARD

Oh no, this one’s for real Michael. The others were just to get you thinking and in practice. These two are responsible for half…probably more than half of the right-wing terrorist shit that goes on this country. Huffins bankrolls it, Swain organizes it.

MICHAEL

Bullshit.

HOWARD

Believe what you want Michael, but you are going to kill them. That will set back about a hundred right-wing terrorist groups in this country and we can destroy them from there.

(beat)

You see, David and I are sick of seeing these bastards skate free with little more than a slap on the wrist. Think of it as a modern day Star Chamber. We know these guys are guilty and we are dispensing with a seriously flawed judicial system. Michael, the only way to defeat terrorists is to cut out their root. These two are holding up a huge fucking tree. But not after tomorrow.

MICHAEL

And this is it? After tomorrow I can quit the Bureau and go away…far away?

HOWARD

Of course, Michael. We would prefer that, in fact.

FADE OUT:

34.    INT. ROY HUFFINS BEDROOM – EVENING

A completely bizarre scene as Buxton Swain is having sex with a young woman obviously not his wife, while Roy Huffins sits on a couch about 10 feet away from them, doing coke in the nude. The phone rings and Huffins gets up and goes into the other room to answer it.

HUFFINS
(irritated)

Hello?

MALE VOICE

We’re here. We’re at the airport. We’ll be there in about two hours.

HUFFINS

OK. No one is here except us. We should be in the study. Come in the back entrance. I won’t even know you’re here till I see you.

MALE VOICE

OK, see if you can get him loaded or something.

HUFFINS

I’m working on it. David?

ARNOLD

What?

HUFFINS

Do you have my money?

ARNOLD

Of course I do. Now hang up.

35.    INT. STEVENS HOUSE - NIGHT

Janice is cleaning up the dinner dishes when the phone rings.

JANICE

Hello?

MICHAEL

Hey, its me!

JANICE

Michael! Where are you? Are you at the office? I called but they said you had left this afternoon.

MICHAEL

Honey, don’t worry about where I am. I just wanted to tell you that when I come home, you are getting your husband back. I know I have been preoccupied and distant lately, but I think I am over that.

Seriously. I am going to start treating you like the incredible woman you are. You deserve so much better and when I get back tomorrow I am going to start treating you like that. Janice, I love you SOOOO MUCH. Please forgive me.

JANICE

Baby, yes of course! I love you too! I will always love you. I know how tough you have had it lately and I just want you to know that I will always be there for you, no matter what. No. Matter. What.

MICHAEL

OK, Honey, I have to go, but I will call you later tonight. I wanna move…get the hell out off the East Coast…go be a farmer in Iowa or something…whaddya think?

JANICE

Michael, of course! Whatever you want! I just want you to be happy…I’m just glad you’re happy again. We can talk about all of this when you come home. Come home quick!

MICHAEL

All right honey, I love you. I’ll talk to you later tonight. Bye.

JANICE
(smiling from ear to ear)

Bye. I love you too!

36.    EXT. ROY HUFFIN’S ESTATE – NIGHT

 

Michael and Arnold park about a block up the street and walk slowly up to Huffins’ mansion. They walk through the front yard and go around the back. David tries the handle to the sliding glass door and quietly slides it open.

37.    INT. ROY HUFFINS STUDY – NIGHT

 

Huffins and Swain sip brandy and talk about his campaign. Huffins lights a victory cigar and lights one for Swain as well. They make a toast to the election. Huffins tells some off-color jokes, sending Swain into spasms of laughter.

38.    INT. HALLWAY TO ROY HUFFINS’ STUDY – NIGHT

Michael and Arnold move slowly down the hallway. Both have their guns drawn. They can hear laughter coming from the study. Arnold gives Michael the look and mouths “follow me” as they stride toward and into the study.

39.    INT. ROY HUFFINS STUDY – NIGHT

Swain and even Huffins are completely startled by the appearance of Michael and David Arnold.

HUFFINS

Who the fuck are you? What are you doing in my house? You come to rob me you pansy asses?

MICHAEL

Shut up! Just shut up, please. Get up and turn off that music.

Huffins gets up, walks over and turns off the music. The room is now eerily silent.

 ARNOLD

Which one of you is Buxton Swain.

SWAIN
(terrified)

I…I…he’s me. I mean that’s me. I’m Buxton Swain.

Arnold lifts his gun leveling it at Swain’s forehead. About five feet of carpet separates them.

ARNOLD

Say your prayers, Reverend Swain.

MICHAEL

David, WAIT. <<BANG>>

A flash of fire and Swain’s head snaps back. Blood trickles down his forehead. Michael stands in shock, his gun dangling by his side.

ARNOLD

Come on, Michael…we don’t have all night. Kill Huffins and let’s go.

Huffins is sitting there impassively, staring at Michael. Michael, shaking now, lifts his gun and aims it at Huffins.

HUFFINS

DAVID! <<BANG>>

There is a crashing sound and the camera pans back to reveal Michael lying facedown on the floor, blood pouring from his head. Arnold stands with his arm extended, smoke wafting from his gun, right next to where Michael had been standing. We focus on Michael’s face for several seconds, then cut to Huffins.

HUFFINS

Jesus Christ…you scared the shit out of me! What if he had shot me? Dammit I want two million now, you son of a …<<BANG>>.

Arnold turns and shoots Huffins in the chest, driving him back onto the couch. Arnold pauses for a second and surveys the damage, then works quickly. He takes the gun from Michael’s hand and puts it in his own pocket. He places his gun in Michael’s hand and arranges his body as if Michael had shot himself. He does a fast scan of the study and the hall, then is gone.

40.    INT. DARK OFFICES – NIGHT

The same two men who have been speaking throughout the film are again talking. We can make out the shadow of one man as Cliff Howard, but still don’t recognize the second man.  Cliff is standing looking out his office window – we can see the Washington Monument in the distance.

HOWARD

It’s done. He’s gone and Michael has been taken care of as we discussed.

MALE VOICE #2

Thank God. This has gone on for a seeming eternity. This is going to hit the press like a fireball. Thank you, Cliff. We will talk again in a couple of months.

HOWARD

Your welcome, Mr. Vice- President. It looks like your path is now clear. Godspeed.

41.    INT. CHANNEL 4 NEWS STUDIO – NIGHT

The two news anchors, a man and a woman, are opening their broadcast.

MALE ANCHOR

A shocking discovery this afternoon, as the bodies of Buxton Swain and two other men were found in the study of Atlanta billionaire Roy Huffins. There is no confirmation on the identities of the other two bodies, but reports at this time indicate some type of murder-suicide, although we are still getting details.

FEMALE ANCHOR

Joyce LaRoche from Atlanta Station  WWRG-TV is on the scene at the Huffins’ mansion. Joyce can you hear me…

FADE OUT:

42.    INT. STEVENS FAMILY ROOM – NIGHT

 

Janice sits alone on the couch watching the news about a murder-suicide in Atlanta that claimed the life of Buxton Swain, the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination.

FADE OUT:

THE END.

To all of the VP players that took the time to read this: Thank you. It means a lot to me.