1. Opening Scene
Despite the fact I was dying, I knew that, without a doubt, I would never be allowed to see her again.
[Scene up – B&W – man’s arm and hand leaning on the edge of a chair holding a lit cigarette. The man doesn’t move nor smokes the cigarette, but the action is still real time as the cigarette continues to burn slowly]
I knew it was my fault that things progressed the way they did. It was, as Meg always believed it to be, destiny … destiny.
[Scene to black]
Like the hot wax of a burning candle, floating at the bottom of its jar, unmoving and still; I waited for something that would never be.
[Scene up – B&W – Man’s mouth which doesn‘t move until cigarette finally is placed between his lips. He inhales, cigarette is lowered]
As long as that flame was burning, always burning, I, like the very still and unmoving wax, would never be able to become whole again.
[Scene fades slower]
2. Bathroom – <day>
[Sink dripping slowly as titles and music begin – music continues to play but shower, which is on, is still heard underneath the music. Scene cuts to the black and white checkered floor of the bathroom where puddles of water cover the floor. Scene cuts to the open door where, at the end of the long hallway, a woman in a towel is sprawled on the floor]
[Scene Blacks out, music begins]
TITLE: earth is not a cold dead place
3. Car – <sunset> [rest of beginning credits]
[A man in his early 30’s is driving in a messy, beat up truck. He is smoking and drinking a can of beer in a brown paper bag. Views of other cars zoom by. He reaches down and turns the music up as he continues down the highway. He passes by seedy hotels and cornfields as the music begins to fade. He pulls up into an apartment complex where a woman is sunbathing on a lawn chair and a man is watering the bushes outside of his apartment. Their looks are stoic and emotionless, as if their days are always spent with little purpose. Another man is pacing back and forth, anxiously waiting for something, mumbling to himself]
What is? Ugh. This can’t. Why is this …
[The man pulls his truck into a weedy parking spot near Charlie and turns the truck off, grabs a duffel bag from the seat next to him and steps out]
What are you doing here Charlie?
Hey Dan, was wondering –
Um .. well.
[cuts him off]
Just take it and go.
[Dan reaches into his pocket and pulls out a fifty dollar bill and hands it to Charlie, which Charlie grabs and starts to walk away]
Thanks man. I’ll pay you back.
No you won’t.
[Dan fumbles with his keys and opens the door to his dark apartment. Newspapers cover the dining room table and beer cans overflow the trashcan by the fridge. Dan flicks on the light and it flickers on while he throws his duffel bag onto the beaten up couch. The light blinks on the answering machine showing 3 missed calls. Dan walks to the fridge, opens it, rummages for a beer and then walks back and hits the button on the machine]
Dan, it’s your sister … we really need to talk about this.
[Dan hits the erase button]
Hi, this is Kristi calling from Progressive Care. This message is for Daniel Spooner. Your test results have come in and Dr. Patel would like schedule an appointment …
[Dan his the erase button]
Hey Dan, it’s me Charlie. I don’t know if you are home yet, but I was wondering if we could talk …
[Dan hits the erase button. He takes a deep breath and takes a sip of his beer. He walks to the bathroom and turns the shower on. He undresses while whistling and steps into the shower. The water is hot and he yelps, quickly turning the hot water down. The phone rings]
[Phone continues to ring. Daniel lets the water run over his face, ignoring the ringing. After the phone stops ringing, the answer machine turns on.]
Hello, this message is for Daniel Spooner. This is Sarah White calling from Think Mutual Bank, we have yet to receive payments for the last two months from you. Please call me at 1-888-555-3546 ext. 124 to discuss this matter further. Thank you.
[During this message, Daniel reaches out of the shower and to his pants pocket and pulls out a lighter and a blunt. He leans in the shower and lights the blunt.]
Shit, shit, shit …
[He puts the blunt in the ashtray on the toilet and runs his head under the water and begins washing his hair, vigorously. The phone rings again.]
COME … ON!
[He bangs his head against the shower wall, but continues to shower, ignoring the machine.]
Hello Daniel Spooner. This is Eckstein Medical Hospital …
[Daniel turns the shower off to listen.]
We have some bad news.
[Daniel pushes the curtain aside and jumps out of the tub, almost tripping, but catches himself. He runs to the phone and picks it up.]
Hello, hello? This is Daniel.
[The other side of the line is not heard as Daniel listens and the scene fades to black.]
[Daniel is standing at the service counter, waiting to be helped. Everyone seems to be really busy. He tries to get their attention with no avail, finally a lady sits down and grabs a clipboard and hands it to him.]
I’m going to need you to fill this out.
No. I’m not here for me.
Oh a visitor!
No. Not that either.
Well, then what can I do for you then?
Well, I got a phone call today about my sister, Meg Spooner. Or they think it’s my sister. I don’t know. They just told me to come down here.
Well just hold on one minute.
[She reaches for the phone and dials]
[He looks around at other patients. The nurse’s voice is inaudible as she agrees with the person on the other end. Daniel smoothes his jacket and runs his hand through his hair.]
So, Daniel Spooner …
Yeah. That’s me.
They need you down in the morgue.
[She points to the empty hallway to her left]
[He looks down the hallway]
[He nods and walks away, down the long corridor. Music begins to play as scene cuts to black.]
5. Church – <outside, overcast, windy>
[Daniel is seen standing outside the church smoking a cigarette. A few people walk up the stairs, shake his hand, say inaudible condolences, and then go inside. He looks stoic and without emotion as he leans against the doorframe. Charlie walks up the stairs and doesn’t say a word to Daniel but walks inside. Daniel closes his eyes.]
Thank you for coming down here, Mr. Spooner.
I’m very sorry for your loss and I know this must be hard.
[Daniel opens his eyes and takes one last drag of his cigarette.]
Well, it’s okay.
I’m just curious as to why you need me.
You know it’s my sister.
[Daniel blows the smoke out of his nose and throws the cigarette to the ground.]
Yes. It is your sister. Do you know the cause of her death?
[Daniel opens his eyes and looks straight into the camera and speaks.]
Burns and head trauma. A freakish accident.
This was no accident.
[He closes his eyes and when he opens them, the scene has shifted to a dark room of the hospital. The camera slowly zooms out and a policemen is seen facing Daniel.]
What are you talking about?
Well, her burns aren’t … normal for this type of thing.
I don’t understand.
[A church bell tolls]
[Camera zooms back slowly onto Daniel’s face.]
We think she was murdered.
[Daniel blinks and when he opens his eyes, he is back at the church. The church bell is slowly tolling and the priest is standing next to him.]
It’s time to begin.
Right, of course.
[The priest and Daniel walk into the darkness of the church as the camera follows them. Choir music slowly replaces the church bells, Amazing Grace is heard.]
6. Inside of church – Funeral
[Daniel and the Priest are standing on the platform at the front of the church at a podium next to a closed casket and a picture of his sister. Daniel looks out at the audience, there are maybe twenty people present. Daniel is the only family member.]
Thank you all for coming today, Meg would be pleased
to know that you all came, if she could know … um …
[There is awkward silence. Daniel clears his throat and looks out at the sparse audience. He spots Charlie in the back, mouthing inaudible words. Daniel looks back at the Priest, back to the audience, and blinks. He is once again seated with the Policemen in the hospital.]
I’m afraid so.
But how – ?
[cuts him off]
She wasn’t accidently burned by the water from her shower.
Then how – ?
They were Sodium Hydroxide burns.
[cuts him off]
It’s a chemical found in Lye.
It burns through skin very quickly.
Horrible way to die.
And we have come to believe that someone might have messed with her
hot water heater.
[The Policeman pulls out a manila folder. Daniel is quiet and takes a sip of water from the cup next to him.]
Your sister was a chemist at BioTech, Inc correct?
So she had access to this and other types of chemicals?
Do you know of anyone else that would have access to this?
[Daniel is silent.]
[Daniel blinks and is standing at the podium sweating.]
Daniel? You okay?
[clears his throat]
You can … um … take it from here?
[He steps away from the podium and walks off the platform.]
Let us pray.
[Daniel walks down the center aisle of the church as the Priest begins the Lord’s prayer. He walks by Charlie and catches his eyes for a second before walking past him. Charlie turns in his seat and watches him leave as the scene fades as the priest says, “but deliver us from evil.”]
7. Bathroom of church
[Daniel is at the sink and puts cold water on his face. He looks in the mirror and closes his eyes, once again transporting himself to the hospital room.]
[looks at his folder]
Yes. They used to be together, Meg and Charlie, when he
worked at the lab.
Used to be together?
I’m sure the file explains it all.
[Scene changes to Meg and Charlie working together in the lab. They are happy.]
They became really close about three years ago
When they were working a new project.
A new drug?
Right, a narcotic.
[Charlie walks by Meg, kissing her cheek as she continues to look through a microscope.]
They were really happy together.
Well, Charlie began to test it, himself.
[Scene shifts to Charlie putting powder into small empty pill canisters and then proceeds to take a pill, then another, then another, while Meg looks on un-noticed, when he finishes and turns around, he sees her. She smiles and gives her a big hug. She looks worried as she hugs him.]
My sister was worried. Very worried. She got scared when
Charlie begin … changing.
[looks through file and reads aloud]
“He became erratic, forgetful, and violent.”
Effects of the drug.
They had to let him go.
And Meg made sure that the drug wasn’t manufactured.
[takes a deep breath]
What happened between the two?
She got a restraining order put against him.
Does that explain what happened?
So this Charlie Swain might have had a motive?
I guess so. I’m not sure.
But Meg didn’t have a lot of close friends
And I’m all the family she’s got.
[He runs his hand through his hair]
Well thank you Daniel. You’ve been helpful.
[Daniel stands up and shakes the officer’s hand.]
No problem. Let me know if you need anything else.
I’ll look into Charlie, you take it easy.
Losing the last bit of your family isn’t easy.
[He pats Charlie on the shoulder.]
Yeah, don’t remind me.
[Daniel nods and heads for the door.]
Oh and one more thing.
[freezes with his hand on the doorknob]
She was three months pregnant.
[takes a quick breath, turns around]
I didn’t know. She didn’t tell me.
[he is in shock]
Don’t worry, Daniel.
[He picks up the folder]
If it is this Charlie guy, we’ll put him away for good.
Well, I sure hope so.
[He turns for the doors and closes his eyes.]
[He opens them and he’s back in the bathroom. He shakes his head and turns around. Charlie is leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom, he looks agitated.]
Charlie, what are you doing here?
[slowly walks closer]
Am I not allowed to use the bathroom?
Thought we lived in a free country, Dan.
[grabs a paper towel]
No. I mean here. You shouldn’t be here.
[dries his hands]
I think the restraining order is kaput.
Wouldn’t you agree?
[Daniel tries to walk around Charlie, but Charlie steps in his way]
[his eyes widen]
Why were there cops at my place?
Asking for me?
I don’t know Charlie.
[Daniel tries to push past Charlie, Charlie pushes him back]
You don’t know?!
What do you mean don’t know?!
Don’t do this.
It will make everything worse.
[He pushes Daniel harder, up against the bathroom counter. Daniel straightens up]
Don’t do that again.
[Charlie rushes him and attempts to punch him in the face, Daniel moves out of the way and punches him in the stomach and then punches him in the face. Charlie falls to the ground]
What the fuck Daniel?
Just stay the hell away from me.
[Daniel steps over him and walks out of the bathroom. The bathroom door shuts as Charlie is still lying on the ground].
8. Cemetery – Raining
[Aerial view of a coffin being lowered into the ground. Only a select few are gathered around the coffin. Light piano music is heard. Camera focuses on Daniel’s hands in his pockets, then moves up to his face. His face is emotionless. Camera zooms out to a wider angle of The Priest who closes his bible and pats Daniel on the back and walks out of the shot. Everyone else leaves the gravesite and Daniel is left alone, staring into his sister’s grave. He pulls a key out of his pocket and throws it into the grave.]
[He begins to walk away when he hears a buzzing in his pocket. He digs out a pager and read the number, 555-4334. He doesn’t recognize the number. He makes it to his car, starts it, and drives away].
9. Outside of Gas Station, Payphone
[Daniel places a quarter into the payphone and punches the phone number from his pager into the phone. It rings once.]
VOICE ON PHONE
Chicago Police Department.
Um, hello. Someone called my pager from this number
VOICE ON PHONE
What’s your name?
Daniel. Daniel Spooner.
VOICE ON PHONE
[looks at watch, five seconds pass]
VOICE ON PHONE
Thanks for holding.
The person who called you is Charlie Swain.
We have him here in custody.
VOICE ON PHONE
Please come down to the station on State Street.
If you have any more questions or wish to post bail.
VOICE ON PHONE
What did he do?
VOICE ON PHONE
He set an apartment building on fire.
On North and Clybourn.
Which apartment building?
VOICE ON PHONE
The Lakeside Apartments.
Look sir, we’re very busy.
Please come in if you have any more questions
[hangs up the phone]
[Daniel stands there for a minute listening to the dial tone and then angrily hangs up the phone. He gets in his car and drives away].
10. Lakeside Apartments – Overcast, Rain has stopped
[Daniel gets out of his car to see the charred and black remains of his apartment. Lots of people are walking around the apartment building as well as news reporters and firefighters. He just stands there and watches. A older man smoking a cigarette approaches him]
Fucked up isn’t it?
[holds out cigarette box]
[grabs a cigarette out of the box]
What exactly happened?
[lights cigarette with lighter]
Well, Mary ran into my room screaming something about a fire
I ran to the door and see this guy standing outside your burning apartment.
Laughing and dancing.
[shakes his head]
I think he was really doped on something.
I watched him stop dancing; lay on the ground, and just laugh.
He stayed there until the police came.
I can’t believe it.
What am I going to do?
4B moved out two weeks ago and I haven’t found someone
to fill it yet.
You sure Steve?
[takes a drag on his cigarette]
No problem Dan.
[pats him on the back and begins to walk away]
Oh, I didn’t get a chance to deliver your mail.
It’s in my office if you want it.
[He throws his cigarette to the ground and follows Steve. Camera stays on his burned apartment].
11. Inside – Daniel’s Apartment, Everything looks different, new. Time has passed.
[Door opens and Daniel walks in. He looks different, shaved and cleaner. He places mail on the coffee table and crosses to his refrigerator and takes out a bottle of beer and opens it. He walks to his couch and turns the television on, the news plays while he opens his mail]
Thank you Donald.
It’s going to get a little colder next week.
Time to bring out the gloves and hats.
Hopefully we’ll see some snow in the next couple of weeks.
We can only hope.
Well, in other news, the case against Charlie Swain has finally ended today
Local arsonist, Charlie Swain was convicted today, by jury, of the Double Homicide of Meg Spooner and her unborn child.
[turns the volume up]
Although Mr. Swain pleaded not guilty,
He was sentenced to a life sentence at Cook County Jail.
[He smirks and takes a drink of his beer]
What I find so interesting about this whole thing is if he
was guilty of murder, why would he let himself get arrested for arson so quickly?
I don’t Susanna.
The mind of a criminal is a strange thing.
That it is.
[He mutes the television and closes his eyes as music begins to play]
12. Replay of shower scene
[Sink dripping slowly as titles and shower, which is on, is still heard underneath the music. Scene cuts to the black and white checkered floor of the bathroom where puddles of water cover the floor. Scene cuts to the open door where, at the end of the long hallway, camera zooms to a woman in a towel is sprawled on the floor. Scene hovers a while longer as two feet appear in the frame. You don’t see a face as a gloved man kneels down and feels her pulse. He then stands up. Camera zooms slowly up his body as the music builds. The man is Daniel. He smiles big as the scene slowly fades to black. Music continues as “earth is not a cold dead place” appeared on the screen and blacks out]