Holiday Matinee – Double Down (Part 6)

A Film Noir

by

A. Jay Adler

DOUBLE DOWN

Part Five

The Story So Far

Jack Miles, rock n’ roll roadie, has returned home looking for a job. He encounters old friends and begins a new love with Evelyn “Sonny” Morales, a detective. Old friends, Kyle and Ray, propose to Jack that he help them rob his wealthy, but estranged, identical twin, Joseph. Jack turns them down, and instead goes to see Joseph to ask for a job. But Joseph humiliates Jack and they nearly come to blows. Enraged, Jack lures Joseph to him and kills him, making the murder appear his own accidental death, then assumes Joseph’s identity. Sonny starts an investigation of Jack’s death.

Now, Part 6:

Jack faces the challenges of assuming Joseph’s private and social life. He makes a disconcerting discovery about the private life.
——–
EXT. THE KORT MANSION – REAR TERRACE – AFTERNOON

Jack strolls comfortably along the wide terrace, appointed with UMBRELLAED TABLES and LOUNGE CHAIRS. He looks out over the olive orchards below.

Manuel opens the door from the living room.

MANUEL

Excuse me, Mr. Joseph. Would you like your dinner on the terrace again this evening?

JACK

(beat)

No. I don’t think so, tonight, Manuel. I think I’ll order in.

MANUEL

Order in, Mr. Joseph?

JACK

Yeah. You know, Chinese, something like that. You don’t cook Chinese, do you?

MANUEL

No, sir.

Jack smiles.

MANUEL (CONT’D)

But no one delivers this far, sir.

JACK

They will if I pay them enough, don’t you think?

Jack comes up close, friendly.

JACK (CONT’D)

And if they won’t, I’ll fix myself something in the kitchen. You don’t get off enough. You should take at least another night.

MANUEL

Two nights a week, sir?

JACK

Sure. Even three. I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself sometimes. You work hard. Why don’t you go ahead now. I’ll see you in the morning.

MANUEL

Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Joseph.

Manuel reenters the house. Jack looks after him benignly.

INT. STUDY – NIGHT

Jack rummages around in the drawers of the desk. He finds a set of KEYS, looks over at a couple of bureaus, takes the keys with him.

Jack opens a bureau with a key, shuffles through some books and papers, including a couple of CONTRACTS WITH JOSEPH’S SIGNATURE ON THEM. He finds nothing.

Jack goes to the book shelves, checks the books for fakes, looks behind them.

Then he stumbles upon his HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK, “THE  GOLDEN WEST. 1980.” He’s curious.

He sits at the desk and opens it, going quickly to the PHOTOS in the back. He finds himself and Joseph, beside each other, stares at the photos.

Then he flips through the pages. He passes then returns to a GROUP SHOT, part of a TWO PAGE PHOTO MONTAGE.

Six longhaired teens — an apparent rock band — mug for the camera in front of their instruments, their arms around each other. In the center are Jack and Joseph.

As Jack stares at the photo, his attention is drawn to some young girls in the background. One of them is Sonny.

Jack rips the page from the book. He carefully tears the page in half, splitting himself from Joseph. Sonny remains in the background with him.

Jack folds the half of the photo of him and Sonny and places it in his pocket. He crumples the other half up and throws it away.

The phone rings.

Jack stares at it. Then he punches the speaker phone button.

JACK

Hello?

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

Joseph?

JACK

(beat)

Yes.

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

It’s Arthur Perry.

JACK

(tentative)

Hello, Arthur.

Jack waits a long moment.

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

I’m fine, thank you. Kind of you to ask. If you’re free tomorrow morning, I’d like to stop by.

JACK

Really? What about?

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

Oh, I don’t know. Discuss this year’s crop, who you like in the World Series.

Jack is speechless.

MAN’S VOICE (CONT’D)

(on the telephone)

The probate, Joseph. I told you last week I’d have some papers for you to sign. Their ready.

JACK

Of course. Sorry, Arthur. I’m a little out of it this week.

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

I imagine so. I read about it in the paper. I’m very sorry. You weren’t close, though.

JACK

No. We weren’t close.

Silence.

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

How’s ten o’clock.

JACK

Ten’s fine.

MAN’S VOICE

(on the telephone)

See you then.

Perry hangs up the phone. Then Jack does, concerned.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Jack sits at a small writing desk against the wall. On the desk are two of the CONTRACTS with Joseph’s signature on them.

Jack practices writing Joseph’s signature, smokes fiercely, the ASHTRAY full of cigarettes, the desk littered with CRUMPLED SHEETS OF PAPER.

But Jack’s attempts are nowhere close.

He squashes his cigarette out and sits back in frustration.

He notices the cloud of smoke about him.

Jack glances at one of the two large windows on either side of the bed and goes to the nearest one.

He lifts the window easily, turns back to the desk.

The window SLAMS back down, hard.

Jack turns back and lifts the window again. It falls again, instantly.

Jack plays with the window, sliding it up and down, testing it. He lifts it all the way. It drops hard.

Jack sits on the bed. He glances at the writing table, then at the window.

He thinks.

He goes to the table and places the contracts in a drawer. He gathers up the scratch paper, throws it all into the bedroom fireplace.

Next Jack returns to the window. He raises the window as far as it will go and holds it there with his left hand. Then he places his right index finger on the window sill.

He braces himself.

Lets the window drop.

Jack bites his lip as he chokes back a groan of pain.

EXT. A NEIGHBORING MANSION – NIGHT

Expensive cars parked before the house, along the grounds. VALETS greet arriving cars.

EXT. MANSION TERRACE

Casually but expensively dressed MEN AND WOMEN mingle and talk. WAITERS wend their way among them with drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Jack enters on the arm of PAULINE SCHEER, 50’s, beautiful and glittering, the hostess. Jack’s right index finger is in a SPLINT. They pass a small group of men and women.

Pauline holds out Jack’s hand to NICOLE, 40’s, one of the group.

PAULINE

Nicole, look at this poor broken man.

NICOLE

A battle scar from fighting off the fairer sex, Joseph?

JACK

(smiles)

Hello, Nicole.

PAULINE

Only you, dear.

They head past a COUPLE, 40’s.

PAULINE (CONT’D)

(whispers to Jack)

Word is Gordon’s thinking of selling to a conglomerate. Cynthia’s furious.

GORDON

Good to see you out and about, Joe.

JACK

Thanks, Gordon. You’re looking lovely, Cynthia.

PAULINE

(to Jack)

My, haven’t we become the gallant.

Next they approach a foursome, ARTHUR PERRY, 40’s, Joseph’s blunt, brash attorney, and his wife, CAROLYN, and GREG and his wife, TERRY, 30’s.

PAULINE (CONT’D)

A wounded male for anyone who cares to nurse him.

TERRY

You seem to be tending to him just fine, Pauline.

PAULINE

Don’t be sly, Terry. The man’s still in mourning.

CAROLYN

Arthur told me about your encounter with the window, Joseph. You should be more careful climbing in and out.

Everyone chuckles.

GREG

Shit, that must have hurt.

ARTHUR

Not too much pain to sign a few documents, ay, Jack?

JACK

Someone had to do it, Arthur.

ARTHUR

And Carolyn says you were just the one.

Jack looks at Carolyn.

JACK

Carolyn’s as perceptive as Terry. I need a refill already. Anyone?

No one.

JACK (CONT’D)

(to Pauline)

Nothing fun without me.

Jack heads off for a drink, squeezing Greg’s arm familiarly as he leaves.

He nods to a few others on the way to lifting a drink from a waiter’s tray. He glances around and explores around the corner of the terrace.

The blinds are drawn behind a sliding glass door. He tries the door and slips in.

INT. INFORMAL LIVING ROOM

Jack is relieved to have gotten away. He looks around, sipping his drink. He takes a seat by the fireplace.

CRANK (O.S.)

You thought you got away with it, huh?

Jack freezes, then turns around.

Crank has just slipped in behind him.

Jack is speechless.

CRANK (CONT’D)

He stares. Long time no see, precious.

Jack nervously tries to form a question.

CRANK (CONT’D)

Sneaking in here without saying hello. You could hurt Augie’s feelings that way.

JACK

I needed to get away by myself.

Crank approaches him.

CRANK

Such a private person we’ve become. It’s been months. Didn’t you miss me a little?

Crank takes hold of Jack, tries to kiss him.

Startled, Jack pushes him away.

JACK

Hey! Hey! What’s up?

CRANK

I’m up sweetheart. What about you?

Jack tries to remain composed while his mind does a million calculations.

JACK

Well, actually, I’m kind of down. You know, Jack’s death and all.

CRANK

Yeah, I know. You’re all broken up. Boo hoo.

Crank moves toward him again. Jack carefully moves away.

JACK

Augie, somebody could walk in any second.

CRANK

Let ’em. I’m gonna out you to the olive growing world. Being in the closet’s the pits.

JACK

Funny Augie. But not smart.

Crank stops at this.

CRANK

What can I say. It’s been awhile. I’m frisky.

JACK

So find some catnip. Be cool.

CRANK

(re: Jack’s broken finger)

That the boo boo Pauline’s cooing about?

(beat)

You sign the papers?

JACK

(a calculating beat)

Yesterday.

CRANK

Then you’re almost there, baby. Five years of watching a slow death — hers or ours, I wasn’t sure for awhile — it’s about to pay off. Soon we really start to live. No more hiding.

JACK

Well, let’s not rush it.

CRANK

You’ve been saying that for six months. Don’t rush it. Be cool. Let’s keep our distance.

JACK

It’s still true.

CRANK

A technicality.

JACK

Technicalities count.

CRANK

Fine.

(beat)

Did you hear? They got Kyle and Ray.

JACK

When?

CRANK

This morning. Found ’em in Guadalupe of all the fucking places. What a couple of morons.

JACK

Yeah. Weren’t they.

CRANK

I told you the fridge wasn’t such a clever idea. They really get away with some cash? Police didn’t find any.

Jack doesn’t answer.

CRANK (CONT’D)

Then I take it back. You are a clever prick.

Crank acts out an interrogation.

CRANK (CONT’D)

“Where’s the money, Kyle. Give it up, it’ll go easier on you.”

Now he plays Kyle.

CRANK (CONT’D)

“I don’t know, I’m tellin’ you. I don’t know. We didn’t get any money.” Eight to fifteen, easy. Keep ’em out of our hair longer. Beautiful, Joe.

Jack heads for the sliding door.

JACK

We better get out of here. I want to go home, anyway.

Crank follows him.

CRANK

I could meet you there.

Jack gives him a look.

CRANK (CONT’D)

Thursday, then. Manuel’s night off. I’m free. No reason a man can’t visit his grieving friend.

Feeling pressured, Jack nods. He slips out the door.

EXT. TERRACE

Jack stands outside the sliding door. He sighs.

AJA

———

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