>>/ Cellular

/ Cellular. .

: / Cellular.

/ Cellular

FADE IN:

EXT. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AERIAL SHOT - DAY

Flying low over the massive sprawl of the city.

NARRATOR There are 2,762,500 cellular phones currently operating in the county of Los Angeles.

QUICK CUTS

Local citizens on their cellulars.

A BUSINESSMAN IN A CROWDED RESTAURANT - simultaneously devouring his lunch and conducting a heated negotiation over his cellular.

CAMERA PANS THE RESTAURANT

A pretty woman at the next table also on her cell phone. And beyond two more on theirs. Half the restaurant seems to be talking and eating at the same time.

Even the waiter is in the corner anxiously taking a call from his agent.

NARRATOR Forty percent of all households in the city utilize one or more cellular devices.

EXT. DOWNTOWN L.A. STREET

A teenager on a skateboard weaves through traffic while chattering on the phone.

He whips past numerous motorists at the light who are likewise engaged in conversation.

OVER THIS: OPENING CREDITS APPEAR

EXT. THE BALL PARK - DAY

The crowd cheers as the Dodgers score a base hit -- except for those who are too busy on the phone to notice.

INT. DARKENED MOVIE THEATE

Packed with customers. At the crucial dramatic moment someone's cell phone goes off. The audience voices its disapproval, hooting as the owner of the offending device dashes up the aisle to the lobby.

EXT. THE BEACH - DAY

Gorgeous sun worshippers -- and many of them glued to their telephones.

One couple mouth to mouth in an embrace, oblivious to all around them -- until a cell phone rings. They immediately terminate their lovemaking -- both of them reaching for their cellular at the same moment. Nobody can afford to miss a call.

NARRATOR An estimated 200 new units are being added each day.

CREDITS CONTINUE

INT. MEN'S ROOM

A long line of gentlemen at the urinals. And one of them using his free hand to punch up a number.

EXT. BEVERLY HILLS - HIGH SCHOOL - DAY

As the students swarm out, immediately switch on their cell phones and launch into an update of the day's events.

INT. A LAP DANCING CLUB

As a frustrated young lady vainly tries to attract the attention of her middle aged client by giving it her all -- only to find him oblivious to her charms and entirely focused on his cellular call.

Despite the proximity of her bare breasts and the thrashing of her long auburn hair across his face there is no response. It's as if she's not even there.

HIGH ANGLE - ABOVE THE CANYONS

Perched here amidst the wilderness one of the giant dishes that relay thousands of calls to a satellite station in the sky.

ON THE SOUND TRACK we HEAR a cacophony of overlapping voices -- idle babble -- crucial information -- and just plain talk, totally unintelligible -- which quickly begins to take on the quality of chirping insects -- as still more voices join in and the volume rises to virtually engulf us.

CUT TO BLACK:

SILENCE ON SOUND TRACK

NARRATOR This is the story of 90 minutes in the life of one cellular phone.

FADE IN:

EXT. CULVER CITY - DAY

A convertible moves through afternoon traffic with its top down. It's a 1995 Chrysler Sebring, colored maroon.

INT. THE CAR

MUSIC is BLARING. It's vintage Tito Puente; "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White."

THEO NOVAK is alone at the wheel. He's handsome, a sharp dresser in his Imperio Armani suit and cashmere turtleneck. He seems to be enjoying the ride until the cell phone lying on the seat intrudes upon his privacy.

THEO What now?

The caller I.D. on the cell phone reads "ANONYMOUS."

THEO Yeah, hello?

There's a woman's voice on the line -- a voice choked with fear. Not any voice he expected to hear.

LENORE'S VOICE Thank God -- thank God I've got you.

THEO Who is this?

LENORE'S VOICE You mustn't hang up.

PRODUCTION NOTE: WE NEVER CUT TO THE OTHER END OF THE LINE. WE REMAIN WITH THEO AT ALL TIMES.

THEO Do I know you?

LENORE I've been trying to get someone -- anyone. For hours ...

THEO If this is some sales pitch I'm not buying --

LENORE You don't understand.

THEO No. You don't understand! You caught me on my cellular on the way to pick up some business associates. And I've got no time to screw around.

LENORE Will you let me explain!

THEO And what're you whispering for?

LENORE I can't talk any louder. They might hear.

Theo switches off the Latin CD so he can hear more clearly.

THEO Lady, try making some sense.

LENORE You may be our only chance. I don't know if I can do this again.

THEO What'd you do! Just pick my number out of the air?

LENORE They smashed the phone. I've been clicking the loose wires together hoping it'd make a connection.

THEO Who smashed the phone?

LENORE They're holding my husband downstairs.

THEO Sure. And they left you upstairs to make phone calls?

LENORE They gave me pills to make me sleep. They didn't realize how much Seconal I'm used to -- that I'd have so much tolerance --

THEO Well I'm not tolerant of being bothered with this bullshit story when I'm about to make the most important score of my life. This has gotta be some "put-on," right?

LENORE I'm sorry. I'm so sorry to do this to you.

THEO You're not doing anything to me -- because -- listen to this carefully -- I do not care.

LENORE I don't believe you.

THEO (laughs) You're the one who's not to be believed.

LENORE My name is --

THEO I don't want to know --

LENORE (persists) My name is Lenore Oberfeld.

THEO Don't expect me to tell you who I am.

LENORE I realize you don't want to be involved.

THEO I am not involved. Keep clicking your little wires. You'll get someone else. Good luck.

LENORE You won't disconnect.

THEO Oh won't I?

LENORE Because you know you'll be killing us.

THEO Don't lay this on me!

LENORE Then hang up! Do it!

It's the total despair of these words that finally hooks Theo Novak. He can't hang up.

THEO Why would anybody want to hurt you?

LENORE They tortured my husband. Made him give them the pin numbers of our accounts. Once they get what's in the safe deposit box they'll kill us.

THEO Where'd they take you to?

LENORE I have no idea. They put us in the back of a van with blacked out windows. The shutters up here are nailed shut.

THEO Well isn't there a number on the goddam phone?

LENORE No -- nothing.

Theo is so shaken by the call he runs a stop sign. Other cars honk furiously. He ignores them.

THEO Okay. The police are gonna need your full name and address.

LENORE No! No police. They'll know right away the authorities are looking for us. They'll kill us. We've seen their faces.

THEO The cops could trace this call back to you.

LENORE One of them is a cop.

THEO What makes you say that?

LENORE He pulled us over as we left the Riviera Tennis Club. Claimed we'd run a stop sign. And when Elliot was reaching for his license --

THEO Who?

LENORE Elliot -- our driver. The officer put his gun to the back of Elliot's head and -- fired. It was so quick.

THEO Oh man. These people mean business.

LENORE Then they took the Mercedes away -- with his body in it.

THEO Listen, there's an overpass coming up. I may lose you for a minute.

We see a freeway overpass up ahead clogged with congested traffic. Theo could get stuck under it for awhile.

LENORE No don't. You could lose me for good. Don't go through that tunnel.

THEO I'm in traffic. There's no place to turn.

LENORE Please.

THEO Shit!

Theo Novak throws on the brakes. The car behind him screeches to a stop nearly rearending him.

DRIVER Are you nuts?

THEO Back up. I've got to pull out of this lane.

DRIVER Fucking idiot!

THEO I acknowledge that! Just back up!

The cars behind are beginning to honk horns.

Theo is waving at the driver in the next lane.

THEO Hey Buddy! Can you let me pull over? Give me some space to pull over.

2ND DRIVER Where do you think you're going?

THEO Any place.

2ND DRIVER This is one way.

THEO I know. But it's an emergency. Somebody dying. Okay?

2ND DRIVER I don't see anybody in there but you.

THEO I would appreciate a little space. Thank you.

The driver in the next lane backs up. Now Theo can squeeze his Chrysler through. By jumping the curb he can drive across the sidewalk and into the parking lot of a small corner mall with its donut shop and Chinese laundry. He takes the exit which leads onto a residential side street.

THEO (into phone) Fine, no tunnel. Are you still with me? Hello?

LENORE I hear them coming upstairs. I won't be able to talk for awhile. I have to lay the phone down and pretend to be asleep. So don't talk. Don't say a word or they'll hear it.

THEO I can't stay on this line. I'm picking people up. I'm already overdue. (no response) Hello? (no answer but the line remains open; Theo listens)

Theo quickly puts the convertible top up and rolls up the windows so he can hear more clearly.

There are indeterminate sounds coming over the open phone line. It could be someone walking on a wood floor. Theo keeps listening as he drives. He's not paying a lot of attention to the road. A large trailer truck honks at him nearly blowing him out of his seat. He quickly covers the earpiece of the phone. But the kidnappers may have already heard the sound and have been alerted by it. He waves at the truck driver to hold it down. The truck driver laughs at him. Honks again.

Theo pulls around onto the main boulevard again. He's bypassed the overpass but not the traffic. He keeps driving and listening. Maybe she's gone. Gone for good.

Minutes ago he wanted her gone. Now he's oddly concerned. He listens harder. Still nothing. Alongside him a black kid in a Honda has his rap music blaring. Theo continues to keep the mouthpiece of the cellular pressed tightly to his chest to muffle all noise. But he has to lift the receiver to his ear now and then to listen. Still nothing.

THEO'S POV - THE INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES on the corner ahead. His two partners are waiting to climb in when Theo pulls up.

KLINGER is about sixty. Once a ladies' man he has watched his looks fade. He tries to hide his years with the aid of Clairol, badly applied and a few shades too dark.

CAITLIN CARUSO has the look of a young woman who works out five or six times a week. She's completely buffed. She compensates by dressing in ultra-feminine attire -- pinks with lace cuffs and an abundance of makeup.

KLINGER You took your sweet time.

Theo still keeps the phone buried in his chest.

THEO Just get in and keep still.

Klinger climbs in the back seat. Caitlin piles in beside Theo and gives him a fleeting kiss.

CAITLIN Who's on the phone?

THEO I'll explain later. I'm sort of on hold.

Theo pulls away into traffic.

KLINGER You switched license plates?

THEO It's taken care of.

KLINGER We have never worked a gig together but I am a firm believer in preparation. So let's go over this again step by step.

THEO Not this minute.

CAITLIN He's screwing with us. There's nobody on that phone.

Caitlin tries to take the phone. Theo slaps her hand away hard -- and keeps the mouthpiece tightly covered.

CAITLIN What was that for?

THEO You could've made me lose my call.

CAITLIN So what? What could be important enough to put your hands on me?

THEO I didn't hurt you.

CAITLIN You couldn't hurt me. But it's the principle.

KLINGER That was definitely out of line and totally unprovoked. I heard you were a hitter.

THEO Bullshit.

KLINGER That's your "rep."

THEO Wait! I hear her breathing now. There, she just picked it up again.

CAITLIN It's some chick you've got on there? With heavy breathing, for Christ sake?

He listens anxiously as he drives.

THEO Say something ...

CAITLIN Me, he won't stay on the phone with for five fucking minutes without bitching.

THEO I'm trying to help somebody. Okay?

CAITLIN He's at it again. Like that night at the Emerald. This piece of Euro-trash is slapping shit out of his little wife in a back booth -- so Mr. Good Deed here has got to step in and pound the fucker's head into the wall. Meantime "Wifey" recovers enough to pull off her high heel and nearly take our hero's eye out. It took six stitches.

THEO How was I in the wrong?

Some pedestrians crossing the street shout obscenities at Theo as they jump back on the curb.

CAITLIN Be careful. There were people in that crosswalk.

KLINGER That's all we need. Better let me drive.

THEO I'm fine. She's back on. Hello? (uncovers mouthpiece) I'm here.

LENORE (in pain) They just walked out. The smaller man -- he must be Dominican or Haitian -- he kicked me so hard. I felt a rib crack but I never made a sound. It's starting to hurt now -- real bad. A throbbing. I can't even take a deep breath.

THEO Don't move around. You don't want to puncture a lung.

CAITLIN Was someone in an accident?

LENORE Do I hear a woman's voice?

THEO I'm with two friends now.

LENORE Rachel! They're going after Rachel now -- and I can't stop them.

THEO Stop throwing names at me.

LENORE Rachel, my daughter. She's an honor student at Parker. My God, she's only nine.

THEO What do they need her for?

LENORE They know Jack will give them what they want once they have her.

THEO Bottom line! There's nothing I can do for you but tip the cops.

KLINGER What do you mean tip the cops? (to Caitlin) Is the man a lunatic or what?

THEO Will you relax? This in no way affects our business. (into phone) Go on.

LENORE The bigger man is driving our Mercedes to the school. Rachel will recognize the car. She'll get right in.

THEO Let me call the school -- tell them not to let her go.

LENORE They don't know you. They won't listen.

KLINGER (grabs Theo from behind) Hear this, Novak! Loud and clear. No cops! Who did I get mixed up with here? Has he got a fucking suicide wish?

Lenore has overheard Klinger's outburst.

LENORE He's right. You'll get my whole family killed.

THEO He's right? Look, don't try to put blood on my hands. You've got one hell of a nerve siding with him!

KLINGER Just hand up on the bitch! (yells) Fuck you, madam. And goodbye!

THEO That's what I deserve for listening in the first place.

He glares at the cellular that got him into this.

THEO And I thought the worst this thing could do was give me brain cancer.

But he still can't bring himself to hang up.

CAITLIN Wait. Let me talk.

Theo gives up the phone. Caitlin speaks.

CAITLIN I'm sorry for whatever's happened to you but we're definitely not the right people to do you any good.

LENORE Don't you have children?

CAITLIN Matter of fact I did have a kid once. But he's a lot better off with his father in Milwaukee.

KLINGER Have you got to tell her your life story?

CAITLIN This is my conversation. I'll say what I fucking please.

KLINGER (directing Theo) Wake up. Make a right at Ocean Avenue. The hotel's a few blocks up on the left.

THEO I know where it is. (to Caitlin) Give me that phone back.

CAITLIN I'm not finished. (into phone) Under other circumstances I'd gladly go out of my way. I don't understand why you just don't phone some other person.

THEO She can't! It's busted. Now hand that on back!

CAITLIN Theo wants to talk again.

THEO Did you have to tell her my name?

She returns the phone to him.

LENORE "Theo?"

THEO Forget who I am. Where's this school located?

LENORE 26th off Wilshire.

THEO Even if I got there first she wouldn't go with me.

LENORE She would if she heard my voice on the phone.

KLINGER Enough! You're not going anywhere!

Klinger makes a wild grab for the phone. Theo reaches back and whacks him across the face. Hard.

THEO I don't like anybody laying their hands on me.

KLINGER Just like they say; no fucking self control.

THEO If you know that just back off.

KLINGER Shit. There's the hotel. You overshot the driveway.

THEO And stop with the directions.

KLINGER Make a "U" and go back.

THEO That's illegal. You want us pulled over? I'll turn around at the corner if you'll shut the fuck up.

KLINGER You're doing all the talk.

CAITLIN Will you two cut it out?

THEO (into cellular) This Mercedes of yours, what's it look like?

LENORE A 600S black. I feel like such a fool. I don't even know the license number. We have four cars.

Klinger is talking while Lenore is speaking. They overlap.

KLINGER We still gotta run the drill before we walk in that lobby.

THEO Go ahead then. I'm covering the receiver. She can't hear.

KLINGER First off, this Mr. Chow Yen doesn't speak a lot of English. The girl with him will interpret. There will be a third person to accompany you into the men's room where you can take count. I hope you know Krugerands better than they know a Hockney.

THEO I improved on the fucking original.

KLINGER Let's hope so. Once you come out and okay everything I'll give Caitlin the sign that she can bring the painting on over.

THEO It's rolled up in the tube on the floor back there.

They have turned around and pulled into the hotel's circular driveway.

LENORE Why isn't anyone answering me?

THEO Just hang on. I've got a life of my own.

CAITLIN What if they do question the authenticity?

KLINGER Oh. Seems yours girlfriend is casting doubts on your expertise.

CAITLIN I am not! Fuck you! Theo's a genius.

KLINGER Any trouble, we whip out our Treasury Department badges -- show them the wire I'm wearing and read them their rights. Theo seizes the Krugerands as evidence. Naturally they start negotiating. Offer to give us up somebody else. And we listen. Take notes on who bought what stolen art and tell them we have to clear it with our superiors at Justice. We pick up their passports -- escort them to their room and leave them all in the bathroom handcuffed to the plumbing.

LENORE (V.O.) Will you please speak to me! Theo?

THEO Another minute.

KLINGER Got your badge?

THEO (pulling out folder with fake Treasury Dept. badge) Satisfied, Wiseass?

KLINGER In any event, whatever occurs you do not belt anybody.

THEO What do you keep making me out to be?

Theo spots a pay phone kiosk near the hotel.

THEO (into phone) Okay, okay, Lenore, calm down. Either let me call the school or better yet, the F.B.I.

KLINGER Sure -- and they record your voice. And later on we all get slammed for kidnap and murder. That's out!

A parking valet rushes up.

VALET Checking in?

KLINGER Here for lunch. (hands over a five dollar bill) Leave it close by.

VALET No problem. It'll be in that loading zone.

KLINGER Step out of the car, Theo.

CAITLIN He's right, Theo. She might not be around to back up your story. You could end up in the middle of this.

THEO Look -- I've got the lives of maybe three innocent people hanging on the end of this line.

KLINGER Well, I don't know any innocent people and I don't give a shit.

VALET Excuse me but you're blocking our driveway. I've got to move the vehicle.

Several cars are backed up trying to depart the hotel.

Klinger jumps out of the back seat opening the passenger side for Caitlin who takes along the tube with the fake "Hockney" inside.

CAITLIN I know you feel awful but it's not your responsibility.

THEO Then whose is it?

CAITLIN You gotta just look the other way.

THEO I'm sorry. You'll do all right without me. Keep my share.

VALET (insistent) Sir?

THEO I'm moving the car. See! I'm moving it!

The passenger door is still open as Theo steps on the gas. The Chrysler careens down the circular driveway into traffic on Ocean Avenue and makes a sharp left.

Caitlin and Klinger stare after it in apparent disbelief.

KLINGER I knew it the minute I laid eyes on him. A fucking flake!

He looks over at the parking valet who now has no car to park.

KLINGER Give me back that five.

INT. THEO'S CAR - DAY

Speeding now -- and talking into the cellular.

THEO Hello? It's just me and you again.

LENORE What about the others?

THEO I kind of dropped them off. They were getting on my nerves.

LENORE What are you doing now?

THEO What do you think I'm doing? I'm on my way to the school like you wanted.

LENORE Forget about us. Just save Rachel.

THEO Tell me what she looks like.

LENORE They say she resembles me -- dark hair, ponytail, very dark eyes. They all wear the same uniform. (a beat) Please. Be careful. The man driving the car must have a gun.

THEO I'm not looking to get myself killed. I just hope the battery on this phone holds out.

He flips open the glove compartment and searches around inside. Jammed with nothing but CDs.

THEO Where's the fucking recharger cord? Must be in her car, dammit.

LENORE How much time do you have left on it?

THEO I don't know. 80 or 90 minutes, tops.

LENORE Why didn't you do what your friends wanted and just -- get rid of me?

THEO I don't know. (a beat) I hung up on somebody else a long time ago, and later on I wished I hadn't of.

LENORE A woman?

THEO Hey drop it, okay?

LENORE I didn't mean to open up any old wounds.

THEO It never healed. I called her a lying bitch and everything else and I hung up on her. "Click." You don't exist.

LENORE And that was the end of it?

THEO (laughs) I sure as hell got my wish. She doesn't exist. (a beat) So maybe you reached the appropriate person after all.

LENORE I'm sorry if I caused you to lose your business deal.

THEO Well you did.

He feels like hurling the damn cellular out the car window.

THEO Now I know why I never wanted one of these. I should've made her take it back.

He makes a screeching left against oncoming traffic.

LENORE What do you do for a living?

THEO Sometimes I paint.

LENORE Our house always needs touching up.

THEO Pictures.

LENORE I didn't mean to insult you. You're an artist.

THEO They say my work is somewhat derivative.

He takes a shortcut, racing down a narrow alley behind a line of shops, knocking a few plastic trash bins over.

LENORE I suppose if you're a struggling artist you need a patron.

THEO Lady, you don't have to keep up a running commentary.

LENORE I'm afraid if I stop talking I'll lose you. (a beat) Just name any reasonable amount and it's yours.

THEO Shit, stop with the money! I never asked for a nickel. I was just doing this. And you have to fuck it up with a price tag.

LENORE I didn't mean to. It's just the way I am.

THEO A price on everything.

LENORE I wasn't always like that. I don't think I was.

THEO I'm about ten blocks from the school.

LENORE I have no right to ask for help. I've never thought of anybody but myself.

THEO That makes two of us.

LENORE (suddenly) You're breaking up. I can't hear you. Theo?

There's heavy static on the line.

THEO There are cables overhead. Hang on. It'll clear up.

LENORE I've lost you. You're gone. I can't hear anything.

Suddenly another voice comes on. As often happens, the cellular has picked up another call in progress.

CALLER Somebody's on our fucking line!

FEMALE CALLER How long have they been listening?

THEO Lenore, hang on.

CALLER Mister, get off of our call!

THEO This is an emergency so you get off!

FEMALE CALLER Don't tell us what to do. You've got some nerve! Dickhead!

THEO Lenore, are you still there? Is it a right or left off Wilshire?

LENORE Make a right. You can't miss it.

THEO I'm making my turn. I see the school up ahead.

THEO'S POV - THE PARKER SCHOOL - its yard now full of students.

The voices on the crossed line still remain, giving Theo a hard time.

CALLER This shit happens all the time. I'm switching to Air Touch!

THEO Good idea. Get lost!

FEMALE CALLER Rude asshole.

She hangs up. The line is clear again.

There are school buses already loading up. The day's session has ended.

CAMERA WHIP PANS AROUND - car doors slamming, buses pulling out. Mothers are car-pooling, picking up groups of kids, all of whom are in uniform. Vehicles are departing, none of them a black Mercedes.

THEO Lenore, I'm here. I'm getting out.

LENORE I can hear you again, clearly.

THEO Great. Stay with me. There must be a hundred kids out here.

Theo is out of the car which he leaves double parked.

Camera races with Theo as he enters the school yard.

THEO I don't see any Mercedes.

He looks around, trying to find any dark girl with a ponytail. He sees one and catches up with her.

THEO Are you Rachel?

The girl looks at him suspiciously and keeps walking. She's obviously been trained not to talk to strangers.

THEO Does she have a red ribbon on that ponytail?

LENORE That's not her.

Whip pan to another prospect.

THEO Does she wear glasses?

LENORE No.

THEO I've got to ask somebody.

Theo approaches a group of boys.

THEO Anybody see Rachel Oberfeld?

2ND BOY She always gets picked up by her driver. For dance class. Stuck-up little bitch.

THEO Is she gone?

Then Theo realizes a female teacher has come up behind him.

TEACHER May I help you?

THEO Did Rachel Oberfeld leave?

TEACHER Of course she did. What business is that of yours?

A uniformed security guard is approaching. This schoolyard is well patrolled.

SECURITY GUARD Any trouble?

TEACHER He's asking about the Oberfeld girl.

LENORE (on cellular) What's happening?

THEO (into phone) She's gone --

LENORE Don't say anything. Don't alarm them. Just go!

THEO I'm trying to.

SECURITY GUARD Is that your Chrysler double parked out there?

THEO Yeah. I'll move it.

LENORE (over cellular) They've got her. There's nothing you can do but go.

Theo is already exiting the school yard. The teacher stares after him suspiciously. The security guard follows him to the curb, watches him get in.

INT. THEO'S CAR - DAY

Theo pounds his fist on the dashboard in total frustration.

THEO I fucking blew it!

He sees the guard copying down his license plate.

THEO He's copying down my license -- for all the good it'll do him.

LENORE It's not your fault, Theo. You tried.

THEO I should've put them out of the car and come sooner!

LENORE When Jack sees they've got Rachel HE'LL tell them what they want to know.

Theo starts the engine and pulls away from the school. He rounds the corner onto quiet side streets.

THEO You said they wanted to get into some particular safety deposit box?

LENORE The one in Brentwood.

THEO What bank?

LENORE The City National on San Vincente.

Theo sees something up ahead. He grins.

THEO Wait just a minute. Our luck has changed.

LENORE What do you mean?

THEO Black Mercedes, 600S.

He steps on the gas.

VARIOUS SHOTS

Theo pursues the Mercedes, catches up with it and forces the driver over to the curb. The back windows are tinted.

He leaves the cell phone on the seat as he gets out and hurries over to the Mercedes just as the chauffeur jumps out.

Before the driver can say a word Theo decks him. He goes down hard.

Theo pulls open the back door expecting to see a nine year old girl.

Instead he's looking at an elegant eighty year old woman who tosses her beaded handbag into his arms.

OLD WOMAN There -- take it and leave us alone!

Theo stares at her moment. Then at the handbag he's caught. He hands it back.

THEO Excuse the misunderstanding. (to driver) Don't get up!

The driver is sensible enough not to rise until Theo has pulled off.

INT. THEO'S CAR

Moving fast to get out of the neighborhood.

He picks up the cell phone.

THEO I'm not doing too well. (a beat) What's the matter?

LENORE I heard someone pulling in behind the house. I heard Rachel screaming and then she stopped all of a sudden. I don't know what they did to her.

THEO Which means you can't be more than five or ten minutes from here.

LENORE Even if you found us -- what then?

THEO I'm cutting across to Bundy to Brentwood. That bank is our best bet. If anybody shows up I could follow them.

LENORE Jack will negotiate with them. He'll identify the right key and give them the information they need to gain access and they'll let Rachel go.

THEO Not a chance.

LENORE Don't say that.

THEO Do you know what's in that box?

LENORE I'm not supposed to -- but I do. Millions in cash and bearer bonds.

Theo swallows hard. That's enough to put him into mild shock. After all Theo Novak is not known for his honesty.

THEO They'll recognize it's not your husband.

LENORE Jack was only at that branch once when he took the box years ago.

THEO They've still got to be able to sign his name.

LENORE It's not hard to do. I do it all the time.

THEO I'm pretty good at signatures myself.

LENORE (suddenly) Oh my God. I heard her scream again. What are they doing to her? Why can't I do anything to stop them?

THEO You're doing what you can. Why's all this money stashed?

LENORE To hide it from the I.R.S.

THEO How come everybody turns out to be a crook?

LENORE Don't talk. Don't talk!

THEO What's going on?

LENORE The front door slammed. Someone went out. There's a different car starting.

THEO I might still get there first. The lights are with me. (a beat) How would I identify the guy who shows up at the bank?

LENORE If it's the tall man -- he had one of those hair transplants. Tufts, you know. It still hasn't grown fully in. The other one is from the islands. Braided hair -- very dark.

THEO It won't be him.

LENORE Theo, I want you to know, you're probably the most decent man I've ever met.

THEO Yeah, sure that's me. Ask anybody.

LENORE But I guess we haven't really met -- have we?

THEO I've got a lot of respect for you too. For the way you feel about your family.

LENORE Jack hasn't loved me for years. And now I'm afraid she's turning out to be like him. So cold and distant. I've let him make her like that.

THEO Why tell me this?

LENORE Because you're probably the last person I'll ever talk to.

THEO You can't give up.

LENORE When they first started questioning Jack -- he answered them in that tone he usually reserves for me. And they began beating him. And I watched. And I didn't feel anything ... What kind of a person am I?

Theo is now on San Vincente approaching the Brentwood community -- the shops, malls and restaurants.

THEO The bank should be -- there it is. I'm looking for a place to park. Pray for a miracle. I don't believe it. Somebody's pulling out of a meter. Just across from your bank. Better yet. There's 40 minutes left on the meter. Maybe this is my day.

There's a click on the line.

THEO Did you jiggle the phone?

LENORE No.

THEO Did you hear that click?

LENORE Yes -- I think so. Another crossed line?

THEO Or somebody else there is listening in --

LENORE Downstairs. There must be an extension. Oh my God --

THEO Don't panic. I might be wrong. (beat) Hello? (beat) I guess I was wrong.

Another rude motorist tries to steal Theo's precious space before he can pull in. Theo honks at him.

THEO Don't even think about it!

The other driver won't budge until Theo threatens to get out. Finally frustrated, the other driver surrenders the space. Theo backs in -- just as Lenore comes back on in a panic.

LENORE No. I hear them. They're coming upstairs. They know!

THEO Try what you did before. It worked before. I won't talk anymore.

He gets out carrying the cellular phone which he continues to listen to -- even as he crosses the street to the bank.

There's silence on the other end of the line.

And Theo makes no attempt at further conversation lest he alert Lenore's captors that the phone is open.

All at once he draws up short. He sees something across the street.

HIS POV - A POLICE CAR - visible at the mouth of an alley -- Someone inside. Is he watching the bank? The windows are pulled up. All Theo can see is a silhouette inside.

BACK TO THEO

Focused on that police car.

BACK TO LONG SHOT - POLICE CAR - BACKING UP

It slowly vanishes back into the alley.

TRUCKING SHOT

Theo quickly crossing the street. He peers through the glass into the bank.

HIS POV - INT. THE BANK

There's plenty of activity. Customers on line. Half a dozen tellers in action.

BACK TO THEO

He decides to go inside for a closer look.

CAMERA FOLLOWS THEO INTO THE BANK

He carries the cellular with him -- still listening.

INT. THE BANK

Theo looks around for some sign of the man Lenore described with such clarity. There's nobody like that. He'll wait.

There are video cameras mounted -- surveying the bank from all angles.

Theo can't just stand idly around. He'd attract attention. He gets on the long line where he won't seem conspicuous.

He keeps the cell phone to his ear and his hand cupped over the speaker portion to muffle even the sound of his breathing. And he listens hard.

There are male voices distant and unintelligible.

Then the sound of some furniture being turned over.

Then A WOMAN'S SCREAM!

Finally there's a rumble as if the receiver on the other end was being roughly dropped and picked up again.

Theo reacts to what he hears while standing in the midst of the crowded bank. He struggles to control his emotions.

A deep voice is suddenly heard on the line.

MALE VOICE Is somebody there? Answer me.

Theo doesn't know whether to reply.

In the background Lenore is heard screaming again.

VOICE You shut up!

There's the sound of violent activity. At that moment someone taps Theo's shoulder.

WOMAN CUSTOMER Next.

Theo looks back at the woman behind him -- blankly.

WOMAN CUSTOMER Will you kindly pay attention. You're next.

Theo covering the mouthpiece tightly.

THEO Get ahead of me.

He walks off the line -- still riveted to the phone.

MALE VOICE Whoever you are -- the girl's gonna suffer for this. You got them all killed.

Theo can't hold back anymore.

THEO (into phone) Don't hurt her -- you bastards --

That's all he gets to say before the phone goes dead.

THEO Don't hang up --

But they have. The line is dead. He has finally lost all contact with Lenore. He's numb with anger.

CAMERA SWIVELS 180 DEGREES around Theo as he experiences a sudden dizziness. Total isolation sets in. He just stares at the dead phone in his hand -- which is trembling now.

CAMERA CONTINUES ANOTHER 180 DEGREE SWEEP around him to reveal a very tall man coming out of the vault area and crossing the bank toward the exit. HIS UPPER FOREHEAD IS COVERED WITH MINUSCULE TUFTS OF IMPLANTED HAIR. His eyes are deeply set and close together. He carries a large leather attache case.

Theo focuses on the man -- just as he reaches the automatic doors which swing open wide. In an instant he's out on the street.

Theo hurries after him. CAMERA FOLLOWS.

EXT. BRENTWOOD STREET - DAY

The tall man is moving swiftly along the sidewalk.

Theo is directly behind him. The dead phone is still in his hand. He realizes this and stuffs it in his jacket pocket.

TRUCKING SHOT - The tall man walks to the corner with Theo behind him. The light is red. Traffic thick.

Suddenly the man abruptly turns looking face to face at Theo.

TALL MAN Tell me what you want.

Theo struggles to control himself and put on an act.

THEO My brother's considering one of those transplants and I wondered -- is it painful?

TALL MAN You were watching me in the bank.

Theo grabs the wrist of the hand that holds the attache case, twists it hard.

THEO That looks heavy. Let me help you with it.

THE MAN YOU'RE fucking with the wrong people, Mister.

Theo's instinct is always to hit first. He throws a jarring left that takes the bigger man by surprise.

His adversary is stunned but pulls free and uses his thick attache case as a weapon swinging it hard.

Theo staggers then lurches forward to avoid a second blow tackling the six footer low and propelling him off the sidewalk and into the path of oncoming traffic. WHAM!!!

A Chevy Blazer slams into Theo's adversary knocking him off his feet.

The car behind the Blazer rearends it as other vehicles slam into each other.

The tall man has struck his head on the sidewalk after bouncing off the hood. He's lying quite still and he's bleeding.

Around him a crowd is forming and traffic is at a standstill. Theo takes a step forward and trips over something. It's the leather attache case at his feet. He stoops and picks it up.

It's chaos as the drivers of the stopped vehicles jump out shouting at each other.

MOTORIST He jumped in front of me.

2ND MOTORIST Look what you fucking did to my car!

MOTORIST All of a sudden he was there. Nobody could've stopped.

2ND MOTORIST Tell it to the cop! Why isn't there ever a cop?

THEO I'll go look for one.

He walks casually through the mob that's forming -- in the direction of his Chrysler.

Behind him, the crowd around the accident victim grows. And still no police in sight.

A uniformed guard from the supermarket kneels over the body.

SUPERMARKET GUARD He's hurt bad.

An eyewitness rushes over, shouting.

EYEWITNESS I saw the whole thing. He was pushed! I was sitting at the Starbuck's over there and I saw it all!

ANGLE ON THEO

he's heard the eyewitness -- any moment he could be pointed out.

CAMERA FOLLOWS THEO TO HIS CHRYSLER

He gets in and lowers the sun visor to partially obscure his face as he turns the ignition key and pulls out of the parking space. He makes a quick right into the Ralph's Market lot and heads out the far exit which will bring him onto an entirely different street.

He pulls over and turns his attention to the briefcase. He fishes in his pocket and finds a small Swiss army knife. He uses one of the blades on the lock -- finally breaking it. The briefcase snaps open. It's stuffed full of loose money, fifties and hundreds -- plus a stack of negotiable bonds bound together in wrappers. An impressive haul. Theo tries to count it but his head is swimming.

THEO Some fucking jackpot.

He closes the briefcase but now that the lock's broken it won't stay shut. It springs back open. He can barely keep the money inside it.

He looks around, notices an indoor parking facility across the street.

He drives over, takes an automated ticket -- then pulls up the ramp.

He drives all the way up to the rooftop parking zone. Few cars are up here. He's alone.

He pulls into a space.

INT. THEO'S CAR - ROOFTOP PARKING AREA - DAY

He reaches into his glove compartment which is crammed full of CDs and pushes a button which pops the trunk.

EXT. ROOFTOP PARKING AREA - DAY

Theo gets out holding the attache case tightly shut.

TIGHT SHOT - INSIDE THE TRUNK. Theo wedges the attache case in next to the spare which manages to hold it in place.

We take casual note of an alternate set of license plates lying in the trunk -- before Theo slams the lid shut.

ANGLE ON THEO

Looking out from the vantage point of the rooftop at all the many homes and residences in the distance. And in one of them Lenore and her family are being held captive.

THEO Where the hell are you, Mrs. Oberfeld? And why should I give a fuck? Especially now.

He tries to figure out what to do. Should he just keep what he's got and take off? He reaches into the car for his cellular.

CLOSE UP - CELL PHONE - as Theo dials: STAR 69.

He's ringing back the last number that called him. Finally the call is picked up. But nobody speaks.

THEO Don't be afraid to say hello. Your friend with the recent transplant is in no condition to deliver that briefcase. So I've taken on the task.

VOICE Who are you?

THEO Let me talk to the lady again.

VOICE There's no lady here.

THEO If you've already killed her that's fine. I'll keep the bonds and the cash. We got nothing to discuss.

VOICE Hold on.

THEO If her kid or her old man have been harmed we've also got nothing to talk about.

VOICE Let her tell you.

After a pause a familiar feminine voice is heard.

LENORE Yes? Yes?

THEO Hi Lenore. It's me. I got you back. Courtesy of Star 69. Are you hurt?

LENORE They dragged me downstairs. I thought they were going to kill me.

THEO Lucky for them they didn't.

LENORE What did you do?

THEO I had a little encounter at the bank and our Mr. Transplant ended up under the wheels of a Chevy.

LENORE God, if he doesn't come back --

THEO I'm in possession of the bag he was carrying. And I'm in a position to negotiate. What about your husband and your child?

LENORE They're tied with duct tape so they can't speak -- but they seem to be --

The phone is grabbed away from her.

MALE VOICE (to Theo) Who are you working for?

THEO I'm self employed. What kind of cut did the hairy one have?

MALE VOICE Twenty percent.

THEO Fine. I want half. Plus the release of the family.

MALE VOICE Whatever you say.

Theo looks over the side of the rooftop -- at the street directly below.

THEO'S POV - AN L.A.P.D. CAR parked there. CAMERA WHIP PANS to the concrete stairs which lead up to the rooftop ... Heavy racing footsteps can be heard. Someone's coming!

BACK TO THEO - hurrying back to his car -- while the conversation continues.

THEO You're making it too easy.

MALE VOICE You got time on your side. Pretty soon they'll be missed and we'll have the law up our ass.

THEO They saw you kill the driver.

INT. THEO'S CAR - ALREADY MOVING

MALE VOICE You're up on your details, aren't you?

THEO You can rely on them to keep quiet because this is undeclared money that could land Jack there in federal prison. He can't afford for you to get caught and have this briefcase appear as evidence.

MALE VOICE Keep talking.

Theo is already careening down the twisting ramp as he speaks.

THEO You're walking away with a clear fifty percent and a guarantee nobody can afford to I.D. you.

MALE VOICE There are no guarantees in this life.

THEO Granted. But I don't believe they're grieving enough for their chauffeur to piss away their own futures.

Theo pauses to pay the cashier before exiting.

PARKING CASHIER That's four fifty.

THEO For ten minutes? Fucking thieves everywhere.

He pays and pulls off onto San Vincente heading west, checking the rearview to be certain he's not being followed.

MALE VOICE Where do we meet?

THEO It's a nice day. How about the beach?

MALE VOICE Pass.

THEO A large stretch of empty space with no place to hide. Temescal Canyon parking lot.

MALE VOICE What time frame have you got in mind?

THEO It should take me twenty minutes. Where are you coming from?

MALE VOICE We can be there.

EXT. WIDE SHOT - THEO'S CAR - DAY

Weaving through traffic --

THEO I want you all in one vehicle. Your van. If I see anybody else cruising around I'll keep going. No second chances. You can kill them and I'll keep what I've got.

MALE VOICE Some loyalty.

THEO There's no loyalty at the expense of my own ass.

BACK INSIDE THEO'S SPEEDING CAR

THEO Tell the lady to relax. Tell her I can't wait to meet her in person.

MALE VOICE She's somewhat damaged in the shipping. But nothing makeup won't cover.

THEO Got a phone in that van?

MALE VOICE Sure.

THEO Take my number. When you see me -- call me and I'll walk you through the exchange. It's 308-9962 -- Repeat it back.

MALE VOICE 308-9962.

THEO Beats yelling our brains out across some parking lot.

MALE VOICE You're getting a lot of mileage out of that cellular.

THEO I wish it had never been invented.

HIGH ANGLE - 7TH STREET OFF SAN VINCENTE - DAY

Theo rounding hairpin turns which carry him closer to the Pacific Coast Highway and the beach.

EXT. PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY - DAY

As Theo turns and heads up the coast. Camera follows --

A few hundred yards ahead a boarded up fruit and produce stand is closed for the season.

Theo pulls off the highway and parks behind the stand. He again pops the trunk using the release button in the glove box.

He gets out and proceeds to the open trunk.

TIGHTER ANGLE - Theo again examines the overstuffed attache case that will no longer lock. He flips it wide open, looks over the loose money spilled out and the bonds secured with rubber bands. He begins tying the money up with the rubber bands -- stacking it. Diving it into portions.

He doesn't see or hear the highway patrol car that's quietly pulling up behind him -- out of focus.

The whoosh of passing cars hides the sound of the prowl car's arrival.

STILL IN SOFT FOCUS

We see the uniformed officer getting out and approaching.

Then Theo senses he's not alone. He hears the jingle of keys and handcuffs on the officer's belt.

He turns halfway and the cop is there. The approaching cop is about thirty and his nametag identifies him as "Grillo."

OFFICER GRILLO Saw you pull over. Thought you might have a flat.

The lid of the trunk is still up. Theo casually lowers it.

OFFICER GRILLO Leave it open.

Theo leaves the lid three quarters of the way shut as he turns to face the cop.

THEO Since when did you guys start changing tires?

OFFICER GRILLO Only you don't have a flat.

THEO Seems not.

OFFICER GRILLO If you weren't going for a spare what were you doing?

THEO Something was rattling around. Some loose tools.

OFFICER GRILLO Mind if I have a look?

The cop's hand is resting on his revolver.

THEO Why are you picking on me for?

OFFICER GRILLO Was I picking on you? How come you pulled in back of this fruitstand?

THEO Tell the truth, I was going to take a much needed leak.

GRILLO Now that'd be a misdemeanor.

THEO I got to get going. An agent is showing me a house up on Broad Beach in ten minutes.

GRILLO They'll wait. Meantime, raise the lid.

Theo is thinking how Lenore described the murderer of her driver as a uniformed cop who pulled her over.

Then he sees the cop's police car is identical to the one he saw opposite the bank and near the parking garage.

THEO What'd you do? Tail me from Brentwood?

GRILLO Why would I do that?

Theo lifts the lid to the trunk all the way up and steps aside. The cop leans forward for a look.

He sees the attache case jammed shut against the tire. He also can't miss the extra license plates that lie in plain view.

GRILLO Let's have your license, mister.

THEO I'm going to level with you officer.

Theo flashes the folder with the phony Treasury Dept. I.D. which was to be used in the scam.

GRILLO What's this?

THEO See for yourself, federal agent, U.S. Treasury. On the job.

As the confused cop studies the impressive I.D. Theo moves into action, grabbing Grillo's gun hand so he can't draw the weapon -- then throwing all his weight against the cop forcing him close enough to the lid of the trunk to be struck hard as Theo smashes it down on his shoulder.

Grillo is momentarily stunned and can't recover in time to avoid the impact of the trunk smashing down again. This time on the back of his neck.

THEO Does that answer your question?

He finishes Grillo with two brutal jabs to the jaw. The cop goes limp.

Theo is alarmed as a car zips by on the highway and the driver leans on its horn. He fears he's been seen. There's no time to delay. He lifts the officer's legs and dumps Grillo in the trunk.

THEO Seems I've got me a hostage.

He removes the cop's .38 calibre sidearm from its holster.

He grabs the attache case before shutting the trunk and making sure it's secure.

Some fifty dollar bills fall loosely to the ground as Theo hurries back to the driver's seat. He doesn't waste time scooping more than one or two of them up.

He starts the ignition and steps on the gas. He pulls away leaving the police cruiser parked where it stands behind the fruitstand.

INT. THEO'S CAR - DAY

He's sweating now. The attache case lies half open across the seat next to him. The windows are down and the loose money starts blowing all over the inside of the vehicle.

THEO Shit!

Theo quickly puts the windows up but the damage is done. There are loose bills everywhere.

THEO'S POV - THE HIGHWAY

As he passes a mobile home park, he sees the carload that may have spotted him assault the cop. They're at a pay phone -- excitedly reporting it. One of them recognizes Theo's vehicle going by and points.

ANGLE ON THEO

Speeding up.

VIEW THRU WINDSHIELD - TEMESCAL CANYON BEACH TURNOFF

The huge parking lot is coming up on the left. It seems totally vacant. Not another car in sight all the way up the beach. No attendant is on duty so Theo simply pulls in and keeps driving.

There's still no sign of the van.

Theo looks back toward the main highway half expecting to see a squadron of police cars -- but traffic remains normal.

He sees a wooden shack -- a fast food outlet with large colorful signs proclaiming "Fried Clams - Fried Chicken - Ice Cream." It's off season and closed. Only the diehard surfers can be seen far off shore.

He pulls up behind the concession stand so that his car is hidden from the highway. He's only visible from the ocean side.

>>>

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