Sunday Matinee – Double Down (Part 10)

A Film Noir

by

A. Jay Adler

DOUBLE DOWN

Part Ten

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. He then assumes Joseph’s identity and sets Kyle and Ray up in a botched attempt at the robbery. While Sonny investigates Jack’s death, Jack, as Joseph, discovers that Joseph and Crank Wilson were closeted lovers. As Sonny’s investigation continues to bring her and Jack together, Jack tries to adjust to the circumstances of his new life. Soon enough, Crank is on to Jack and tries to blackmail him, but Jack figures a way to accommodate and control Crank. Then, one night, Jack and Sonny give in and make love.

Now, Part 10:

Sonny visits her father, Arturo “Poppy” Morales in the state prison. Then, another murder. Sonny and her partner, Gene Slocum, investigate.

———–

EXT. HIGHWAY 101 – SONNY’S CAR – MOVING – DAY

Sonny approaches the State Prison at Soledad.

EXT. PARKING LOT

Sonny drives into a parking lot, gets out of the car.

INT. SALINAS VALLEY STATE PRISON

Sonny checks in at the visitor’s entrance.

CORRIDOR

Sonny stands before the barred gate to the infirmary. It opens. She walks down the corridor.

PRISON INFIRMARY

A NURSE escorts Sonny to the bed of ARTURO “POPPY” MORALES, late 50’s, a handsome, once vital man now grossly debilitated by advanced emphysema.

The Nurse goes to wake the sleeping Poppy, but Sonny waves her off. She pulls a chair up beside the bed and sits.

In a moment Poppy’s eyes open.

SONNY

Hola, Poppy.

Poppy focuses on her.

POPPY

Sonny.

SONNY

(smiles)

How are you?

A little excited at the sight of her, Poppy can’t breathe. He reaches for the MASK at his side, attached to an OXYGEN tank beside the bed. He inhales.

POPPY

Full of hot air. Can’t spit it out like I used to.

SONNY

Didn’t think anything would ever keep you quiet.

POPPY

I have my days.

SONNY

I’ll bet you do.

Poppy presses a BUTTON CONTROL to raise the back of the bed.

POPPY

Qué pasa?

SONNY

Time for a visit.

POPPY

You were here just a few weeks ago.

SONNY

Time for another.

They stare at each other.

POPPY

They’re moving me to Corcoran.

SONNY

Por qué?

POPPY

Acute care facility. I guess they are not expecting Poppy to improve.

SONNY

Don’t.

POPPY

No, you don’t, hija. We’ve talked. No pretending. Soon you will be on your own.

SONNY

I’ve been on my own a long time, Poppy.

POPPY

Si. You hate me for it?

SONNY

Everybody hates you, Poppy. You know that. Big mouth.

POPPY

(laughs)

Tough talking detective.

He reaches for the oxygen mask, breathes in.

POPPY (CONT’D)

Cesar loved my big mouth. You couldn’t fight the growers — I couldn’t fight for mi gente — without one. I told you that, Sonny. Now you have one.

SONNY

(smiles)

I have a question for you.

POPPY

Ah. Why you came.

Sonny shakes her head no.

SONNY

Why did you call me Sonny?

POPPY

Now you ask me this?

(beat)

It wasn’t me. It was the others. The way I treated you. Like a son.

SONNY

Why?

POPPY

Do you think I wanted a daughter of mine to grow up in the fields? Do you think I wanted you to be like shit to the fucking gringo? You don’t want to be shit, you don’t let people treat you like shit. I treated you like a male because I wanted you to be tough like the male. The world is like that. At the center of the olive there is a pit.

He labors to breathe, but doesn’t reach for the mask.

POPPY (CONT’D)

Tu madre learned that.

SONNY

But she stood by you, Poppy. That’s what I want to ask you.

POPPY

Why you really came?

SONNY

Why did you she stand by you?

POPPY

Because she was soft, like a woman. She loved like a woman. She was an angel. But she should not have been. She should not have stood by me. When I killed that guard, I put a bullet in her heart, too. She should not have stood by me.

Poppy begins to cough. More loudly. More roughly.

The Nurse comes to the bed. Poppy waves her away as he reaches for the mask, but the Nurse checks the oxygen flow on the tank anyway. Then she looks at Sonny and points to her watch. Sonny nods.

Poppy withdraws the mask, tries to breathe normally, calm down.

POPPY (CONT’D)

Why do you ask me all these questions?

SONNY

No reason.

POPPY

You will be all alone.

(beat, eyeing her)

No. You have met someone. I see. He is wonderful. And you love him. But there is a problem. You think —

Poppy reaches for her hand. She gives it to him.

POPPY (CONT’D)

You think you found Heaven in his arms, mijita?

His eyes search hers.

POPPY (CONT’D)

Heaven is for when you die.

Poppy starts to cough again, badly. The Nurse comes again. Sonny rises.

PRISON CORRIDORS

Sonny walks from the infirmary, through various barred doors and gates. Whatever turmoil she felt in coming to see Poppy is only greater now.

EXT. SALINAS VALLEY STATE PRISON

Sonny exits the prison on the way to the parking lot.

EXT. PARKING LOT

Sonny gets into her car. She stares ahead at the prison.

EXT. HIGHWAY 101 – SONNY’S CAR – MOVING

Sonny, deep in thought

On straightaways.

Curving up into the mountains.

Heading up, we leave her, lose her in a wide vista of California’s great central valley and mountains.

EXT. MOUNTAIN LOOKOUT – LATER

We find Sonny again, pulled over below, in the distance, next to Patti’s black and white.

The two lean against Sonny’s car together, their back’s to us. Patti’s hand is on Sonny’s shoulder.

As we descend to them, come around, Sonny’s head is hanging. She sobs.

INT. POLICE STATION – DAY

Slocum turns from talking with the Lieutenant. He grabs his coat from the back of his chair and starts to leave. On the way to the door Sonny enters. Slocum stops her.

SLOCUM

How’s your father?

SONNY

Dying.

SLOCUM

(nods)

We got one already dead.

Slocum heads for the door.

SONNY

Where?

SLOCUM

Central Valley Bank. Vice president. Augustus Wilson. In his office.

INT. CENTRAL VALLEY BANK – DAY

UNIFORMS interview BANK WORKERS while other workers stand around talking to each other, waiting.

One Uniform ends an interview, walks into

CRANK’S OFFICE

where Sonny, Slocum, TWO CRIMINALISTS, and the MEDICAL EXAMINER are at work. Crank’s body lies shot behind his desk, his chair overturned, baskets and papers on the floor around him.

UNIFORM

The head teller says he left at ten o’clock. Wilson was still here.

Sonny and Slocum look at the Medical Examiner.

MEDICAL EXAMINER

Yeah. I’d say ten, twelve hours. Maybe midnight.

SLOCUM

Hard working fuck.

Slocum looks through desk drawers.

SONNY

Yeah, who’s working at that hour?

Slocum sorts through some papers in a drawer. Sonny surveys the front of the office.

SLOCUM

Meaning?

SONNY

There’s always been talk on the street.

SLOCUM

About him and El Puño? You figure them for this?

SONNY

That’s one possibility.

SLOCUM

And another?

SONNY

I don’t know.

Slocum holds up a slip of paper.

SLOCUM

Well, whoever he was working for, it made him enough to have something in Pismo Beach worth cleaning. A bill from a cleaning service.

Sonny leans in close to a file cabinet. She removes a tweezers from a small pocket case and carefully removes something wedged into the handle of a drawer. Slocum watches.

SONNY

A swatch of cloth.

She bags it.

SLOCUM

So the struggle started on that side of the desk.

SONNY

He let whoever it was in and never sat down again.

SLOCUM

Not a friendly meeting.

SONNY

Someone he wanted to talk to but didn’t necessarily trust.

MEDICAL EXAMINER

They bumped into the cabinet, fell back along the desk —

The Medical Examiner points out the papers on the floor.

MEDICAL EXAMINER (CONT’D)

Which means the shooter was the aggressor.

SLOCUM

Or stronger.

SONNY

Or angrier.

MEDICAL EXAMINER

And then they fell to the floor.

He squats beside the body, points to the stomach wound, then rolls the body up away from the floor.

MEDICAL EXAMINER (CONT’D)

Burn marks and the bullet hole in the floor – the shooter fell on top of him.

The Medical Examiner lets the body down. His eye is caught by a slip of paper under the desk. He retrieves it, glances at it, hands it over to Slocum.

SONNY

What is it?

SLOCUM

Register receipt. Looks like books, maybe.

SONNY

Name of the store?

Slocum shakes his head.

SLOCUM

Looks like we get to be detectives.

He heads for the door.

SLOCUM (CONT’D)

Time to round up the usual suspects.

Sonny follows.

SONNY

You see too many movies.

SLOCUM

I wish.

AJA

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