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Sunday Matinee – Double Down (Part 1)

A Film Noir

by

A. Jay Adler

DOUBLE DOWN

Part One

(In which a rock & roll roadie comes home. He meets old friends and encounters a detective. She is beautiful. She tells him to spread ’em.)

EXT. A Dry Valley – DAY/Night

A panoramic view of Caifornia’s Central Valley. Bright, washed out sunlight. Slowly, the day turns to night. Superimposed at the end:

EXT. HIGHWAY – Night

The sign says, “Welcome to Heaven”; in smaller print below, “California. Population 53,259.”

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

Dimly lit. A commercial strip in Heaven, California, a small city in the Valley.

JACK MILES, late 30’s, an ex rock & roll roadie who’s knocked around life and been knocked around by it. With no guiding light, he’s got a gambling spirit and a losing soul. He crosses the street in the direction of an old bar. It’s broken neon lights read only “Bar. Pool.”

MAN’S VOICE (V.O.)

A guy walks into a bar, looking for someone.

Jack enters the bar.

INT. BAR

A little seedy, but dangerous only to the faint of heart. Jack’s seen plenty of them.

He walks to the half-filled bar.

JACK

(to the bartender)

Bourbon up.

The BARTENDER, born 50’s and behind a bar, pours the drink indifferently.

JACK (CONT’D)

I’m looking for Ray Hansen. Is he here?

The Bartender stares at him.

BARTENDER

And whom shall I say is calling?

JACK

Jack Miles.

The Bartender takes a moment. He heads to one of several pool tables in the back, where two men play beneath a low hanging light. The Bartender speaks to one of the men. He looks up.

RAY HANSEN is Jack’s age, looks older. Not a bad guy, he can’t imagine life with any opportunities bigger than a small-timer’s vision of big. He walks to Jack.

RAY

Jack fuckin’ Miles.

JACK

(shrugs)

Too many miles.

He shakes Ray’s hand.

JACK (CONT’D)

How you doing, Ray?

RAY

When’d you get back into town?

JACK

Few weeks ago.

RAY

How’s rock n’ roll?

JACK

Dead. Haven’t you heard? Rap’s the thing.

RAY

All I know about raps is trying not to take one. You home now?

Jack shrugs.

JACK

I’m looking for a job. Someone told me you drive trucks now. I can drive them, any size.

KYLE CORBETT, Ray’s pool mate, also Jack’s age, also looking older, approaches. A hard ass, he’ good enough to love his brother, bad enough to like no one else.

KYLE

Is that Jack Miles, high school guitar star?

They shake hands.

KYLE (CONT’D)

You home to lick your wounds?

JACK

Nice to see you, too, Kyle.

KYLE

It’s always good to see old high school buddies. How’s your brother?

Jack turns away to the bar and his drink.

Kyle and Ray glance at one another.

KYLE

You’re not still nursin’ a grudge, are you?

RAY

Carrie left him a long time ago.

KYLE

(to Ray)

He’s still nursin’ a grudge.

(to Jack)

That’s too bad. Cause your brother  just came into a lot of money.

Jack shows no interest.

KYLE (CONT’D)

I figured that’s why you came home.

Jack is expressionless.

RAY

Didn’t you know?

Jack didn’t know. He doesn’t care.

KYLE

He married Mirabella Kort. You know, that olive grower up by Los Carneros.

RAY

She died six months ago.

KYLE

Poor rich bitch. Heart disease or some such shit.

RAY

(to Kyle)

He didn’t know.

KYLE

I thought identical twins were supposed to be close. I know I love my brother.

(beat)

So what did you come home for?

JACK

I wanted to go to Heaven.

(to Ray)

Like I said, I’m looking for a job.

Suddenly two women appear behind the men, one a cop, the other plain clothes, flashing a detective’s shield.

The cop, PATTI HALE, 30’s, broad and sturdy, pushes Kyle against the bar. The detective, EVELYN “SONNY” MORALES, also 30’s, a tough beauty with the lid on, does the same with Jack and Ray.

SONNY

Hands in front fellas. Let us see ’em.

The men are startled, Kyle and Ray momentarily nervous.

PATTI

They look like trouble. Should we spread ’em?

SONNY

Just the one in the middle. Spread him wide.

Jack smiles. The men relax.

KYLE

Shit.

RAY

Fuck, Kyle, that’s Sonny Morales.

SONNY

Evelyn Morales, if you’re not my friend. Detective Morales to you.

KYLE

It’s a fucking high school reunion.

SONNY

I don’t seem to recall that you graduated from high school, Kyle.

KYLE

If you’re a detective Sonny, I know I’m on the right side of the law.

Sonny edges up close to Jack.

SONNY

I thought I told you to spread ’em.

Jack stares at her.

JACK

I will.

Kyle and Ray take this in, look at each other.

RAY

You didn’t waste any time, Jack. Didn’t know you liked ’em south of the border.

SONNY

I was north of the border when you were still traveling steerage.

KYLE

How’s your father, Sonny? He outta Soledad yet?

Sonny walks into his face.

SONNY

Nah, he’s gonna wait for you, Kyle. You know, break you in.

PATTI

I thought we were here for a friendly drink.

SONNY

We are. With friends.

Ray and Kyle get the message.

RAY

Catch you around, Jack. I’ll see what I can find out.

JACK

Thanks Ray.

Ray and Kyle go back to the pool table. Sonny and Patti sit.

SONNY

(to Jack)

You stayed carefully out of things.

(to the Bartender)

Bourbon.

JACK

You didn’t need any help from me.

PATTI

(to the Bartender)

Club soda.

SONNY

Jack Miles, Patti Hale, my best friend.

Jack and Patti reach across Sonny to shake hands.

JACK

Hello, best friend.

PATTI

Hello, Jack Miles. So you all go back a ways.

SONNY

We went to high school together. That’s all. They were ass holes then, too, especially Kyle.

(to Jack)

They your new old friends?

JACK

Just looking for a job.

PATTI

And so you two knew each other in high school.

SONNY

Only a little. Jack was a few years ahead of me. I had a crush on him, though he didn’t know it. He was one of the few Anglos didn’t call me wetback while trying to get into my pants.

JACK

I didn’t call her wetback, anyway.

SONNY

He even fought a guy once in the cafeteria when the guy got all touchy.

JACK

(facetious)

Was that you?

PATTI

He’s a gentleman, too. And now, after all these years —

Patti lifts her glass.

PATTI (CONT’D)

To new old friends.

EXT. BAR

Jack, Sonny, and Patti exit happy.

PATTI

My car’s this way. Nice to meet you, Jack Miles.

JACK

(nods)

Best friend.

Jack and Sonny head in the other direction, arm in arm. Sonny glances back over her shoulder.

Patti doesn’t look back, but her arm is extended with a thumbs up.

EXT. JACK’S BUNGALOW

A small rental in a rundown part of town, most of the lots empty. Jack and Sonny’s cars are parked in the back. A light is on. Slow R&B PLAYS on the RADIO.

INT. JACK’S BUNGALOW

Sonny is seated, feet up, at one end of an old sofa by the window.

Jack carries a fresh bottle of bourbon from the kitchenette, refills their glasses. He leaves the bottle on the coffee table in front of them, beside a bowl of pistachio nuts. He sits at the other end of the sofa.

SONNY

So it just never happened.

JACK

I was okay for a piss hole like this. I got my gigs in local bars. But I didn’t have the talent. I met people, though, and the roadie thing was fun. Close to the action. Money was good.

SONNY

So?

JACK

Got tired. It can be rough. The work and the play. I’m too old.

SONNY

Give me a break. Mick Jagger’s sixty what?

JACK

Jagger’s got two hundred and fifty million dollars. For that money I could put up a few more stages, sleep in a few more hotel rooms.

SONNY

(coy)

You don’t seem out of energy to me.

Jack finishes his drink. Pours another for both of them.

JACK

It’s a cold, lonely life, you know.

SONNY

Tell me about it.

JACK

I mean the road. It’s not much about getting close to other people. That’s not the nature of it. I mean it happens, but — Everybody’s after something. One way or another you’ve always got a small part of what they want, or you can get them close to it.

SONNY

You mean the groupies? No real love for Jack Miles?

JACK

Oh, I had plenty of women.

SONNY

I’m sure you did. Thanks for sharing.

Jack reaches for a handful of pistachio nuts, dumps it in Sonny’s lap. He takes another for himself.

JACK

There might have been a couple who said they loved me. Maybe even meant it. In the end they were like the others — star fucked me with their eyes closed, dreaming of fame and fortune. Shit, even I was always wondering what that entrance into the bright lights on stage was like.

They both crack shells with their fingers or teeth.

SONNY

It’s been different for me. The same. Men suck, you know?

JACK

I should know, right?

SONNY

I’d like to hear the groupies’ side. Anyway, there’s not many good ones around, at least not in the world I see.

JACK

Why did you become a cop?

SONNY

Maybe because of my father. I don’t know. Wanted to do good. Wanted to help. Most of the time you can’t do good, no matter what you do. You sure can’t help. I live in central California, land of sunshine — the Golden West, right? — but I don’t see the sun, Jack. I never see the sun.

Sonny finds a nut she can’t crack with her teeth. She tries again. Jack reaches over, takes it from her, cracks it in his own teeth. He puts it in her mouth.

JACK

And no good men.

SONNY

You think a male civilian can take being involved with a female detective?  I haven’t found any with balls that big. The other cops, detectives — soon as they think you’re theirs, you’re not really on the job for them anymore. You’re just some girl who got her Shield by mistake. It’s dangerous out there, honey. Why don’t you just stay here in my pocket.

Jack reaches over with a nut for Sonny to crack with her teeth as he holds it.

JACK

You blame them.

Sonny cracks the shell. Jack takes the nut out. She eats it from his fingers.

SONNY

I blame them.

When Jack sits back, Sonny leans forward with her own nut. She holds it to his mouth.

SONNY (CONT’D)

I’m nobody’s girl —

Jack cracks the shell. Sonny feeds him the nut.

SONNY (CONT’D)

Not to be fucked around with or fucked around on.

Sonny sits back. They stare at one another.

SONNY (CONT’D)

I won’t let a man do that to me again, Jack. I won’t.

Jack leans forward with another nut. Sonny cracks the nut in his fingers. He feeds it to her, remains hovering over her.

JACK

But you are somebody’s girl.

Sonny opens her lips to reveal the nut still between her teeth. Jack leans down to take it from her mouth with his mouth. The exchange becomes a long, slow, passionate kiss.

INT. BEDROOM

They enter the room kissing, and the love they make, undressing themselves and each other, on the bed and pressed against the wall — her back to his front — pausing to wonder at the sight of each other, is a tender and frightening fall.

AJA

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