A Film Noir
A. Jay Adler
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.
Sonny stands before the barred gate to the infirmary. It opens. She walks down the corridor.
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.
Poppy focuses on her.
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.
Full of hot air. Can’t spit it out like I used to.
Didn’t think anything would ever keep you quiet.
I have my days.
I’ll bet you do.
Poppy presses a BUTTON CONTROL to raise the back of the bed.
Time for a visit.
You were here just a few weeks ago.
Time for another.
They stare at each other.
They’re moving me to Corcoran.
Acute care facility. I guess they are not expecting Poppy to improve.
No, you don’t, hija. We’ve talked. No pretending. Soon you will be on your own.
I’ve been on my own a long time, Poppy.
Si. You hate me for it?
Everybody hates you, Poppy. You know that. Big mouth.
Tough talking detective.
He reaches for the oxygen mask, breathes in.
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.
I have a question for you.
Ah. Why you came.
Sonny shakes her head no.
Why did you call me Sonny?
Now you ask me this?
It wasn’t me. It was the others. The way I treated you. Like a son.
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.
Tu madre learned that.
But she stood by you, Poppy. That’s what I want to ask you.
Why you really came?
Why did you she stand by you?
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.
Why do you ask me all these questions?
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.
You think you found Heaven in his arms, mijita?
His eyes search hers.
Heaven is for when you die.
Poppy starts to cough again, badly. The Nurse comes again. Sonny rises.
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
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.
How’s your father?
We got one already dead.
Slocum heads for the door.
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
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.
The head teller says he left at ten o’clock. Wilson was still here.
Sonny and Slocum look at the Medical Examiner.
Yeah. I’d say ten, twelve hours. Maybe midnight.
Hard working fuck.
Slocum looks through desk drawers.
Yeah, who’s working at that hour?
Slocum sorts through some papers in a drawer. Sonny surveys the front of the office.
There’s always been talk on the street.
About him and El Puño? You figure them for this?
That’s one possibility.
I don’t know.
Slocum holds up a slip of paper.
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.
A swatch of cloth.
She bags it.
So the struggle started on that side of the desk.
He let whoever it was in and never sat down again.
Not a friendly meeting.
Someone he wanted to talk to but didn’t necessarily trust.
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.
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.
What is it?
Register receipt. Looks like books, maybe.
Name of the store?
Slocum shakes his head.
Looks like we get to be detectives.
He heads for the door.
Time to round up the usual suspects.
You see too many movies.
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