“Sleep, Angel”

I wrote this 5-page scene for the Creative Screenwriting 2009 Cyberspace Open. It was a time-based writing competition in which contestants had 48 hours to write a 5-page scene based on a premise offered by the judges.

I worked pretty hard on the entry, but scored only an 89; a score of 91 or higher was required to move on to the next round. Looking back, this was an okay piece, but it’s not my best work. I’m posting it more so that any interest readers can see the change between this and successive scenes.

Here’s the entry I received for the Fall 2009 Contest:

Your PROTAGONIST’S allies have turned on him (or her.) His reputation is now in tatters, largely due to his own screw-up — which has been magnified and broadcast by the ANTAGONIST. Write the scene in which the protagonist tries to win the allies back. The scene should include a heartfelt mea culpa. You may use any setting, era or characters in addition to the ones indicated, as needed.

Here’s the scene:

FADE IN:

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION ROOM – NIGHT

TED WARMS (43,) slumps in a chair. His left wrist is shackled to a thick plate bolted to the dented table top. In bare feet, he wears a bathrobe, pajama bottoms and a T-shirt with the Dalai Lama’s serene face. His right hand fiddles with a salt-and-pepper ponytail.

He sits up straight when the door opens to admit ERNIE ASTORIA (56,) a burly man who clearly loves to smile, and PATTY CAIN (35,) a curvy, petite woman who does not. Astoria carries a large brown bag, they both wear detectives’ badges. Astoria sits as Patty observes her reflection in the two-way glass.

TED
Thanks for kicking in my door and dragging me out of bed naked. Should make a great lead for tomorrow’s column.

PATTY
We could have brought you in wearing just your yoga shoes, but we see enough ugliness on the job.

Ted glares at Patty.

ASTORIA
Tomorrow’s column? I guess your office didn’t — Your publisher, Mr. Ballantine. He’s dead.

Ted rises in shock, but Patty shoves him down hard. When he looks up, she’s pacing with her back to him.

ASTORIA (CONT’D)
Task force investigation into online child porn. We went to arrest him, but he, ah. Hell, who keeps a gun in their desk?

Ted’s head whips around at the news.

PATTY
They’re like terrorists, these monsters. They operate in cells. Share and share alike, you know?

Astoria reaches into his bag and produces a laptop with evidence tags. It has a large “Om” sticker on the front.

TED
(his voice rising)
Now, wait a minute! I don’t download child porn! I’ve never even —

Patty grabs a hank of Ted’s hair with her left hand and uses her right to yank the robe off his shoulder, revealing an “Om” tattoo. She releases him and wipes her hands on her pants.

TED (CONT’D)
I’m not — I could never —

ASTORIA
File names and dates match up to what we found on Ballantine’s computer.

TED
Not mine! No fucking —

PATTY
(seething)
Facebook and Twitter in the browser history, a whole lot of Bollywood soundtracks, cat photos. And mucho Satanic stroke material.

ASTORIA
God only knows what else Ballantine was into. His safe was cleaner than a nun’s panties when we got there.

Ted gives a sudden start, runs his hand over his forehead.

PATTY
A little hot for you, Mr. Warms.

ASTORIA
Ho, ho.

Ted touches his forehead again, his hand comes away sweaty. Patty stands behind Ted’s chair and yanks him by the hair again, pulling his head back.

PATTY
God, what is that stink?

She sniffs the air. Ted pulls away, but she yanks his head back and moves in closer for a long, noisy inhale.

PATTY (CONT’D)
I smell pussy.

She releases him.

ASTORIA
(chuckles)
Poor baby’s shaking like a leaf.

PATTY
No, he smells like sex. Unbelievable. Do you believe? I wouldn’t bang him with your wife’s–

ASTORIA
She must have been desperate, like maybe she’s an amputee.

PATTY
How about that, loverboy. Is your honey a cripple?

TED
(dejected)
Emotionally, maybe.

PATTY
So on a one to ten scale?

Ted looks at her with incredulity, confusion. Rolls with it.

TED
Uh, she’s hot? But she doesn’t know it. Insecure. Body image stuff.

ASTORIA
That’s the best; you run the show, not the other way ’round.

TED
That’s not my experience.

PATTY
Ernie. I need coffee. Having a caffeine withdrawal headache.

Astoria’s surprised. Ted looks back and forth between them.

ASTORIA
And you want me to go fetch?

PATTY
Ern. My eyes are gonna pop out of my head. Mr. Warms and me are going to chat a little bit. You don’t need to be here for this, I’ve done solo interrogations. And I think it’s time for me to step up. I don’t want to see something good undone by a needledick journalist.

Astoria regards her for a few beats, then stands.

PATTY (CONT’D)
Cream, two sugars.

Astoria lets himself out. When he closes the door, Patty unlocks Ted’s wrist. He’s rubbing his hand when she clouts him above an ear, sending him to the floor. Ted scuttles to the other side of the room.

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION OBSERVATION ROOM – SAME

Astoria sips a Frappucino with Dets. QUINN (34,) and CROSSMAN (41.) Although Quinn is black and Crossman’s Irish, they’re disturbingly similar.

CROSSMAN
(cocking his head)
The yoga’s really starting to pay off.

ASTORIA
Hey, now. That’s a colleague.

Through the glass, only Ted’s legs and Patty’s backside are visible when she bends over him. Quinn and Crossman trade looks and glance at the door.

ASTORIA (CONT’D)
Settle down.

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION ROOM – SAME
On the floor, Ted shields his face to protect himself. Patty grabs him by the throat and leans in.

PATTY
We got it all. You don’t have any more secrets, Ted.

Ted’s eyes widen as she lifts his ass off the floor and knees him in the balls. He slouches but remains upright.

PATTY (CONT’D)
They got your notes, everything Ballantine had. Hope you had backups.

TED
In my car —

PATTY
Dumbass son of a bitch!

She punches him in the solar plexus, and he falls to his knees.

PATTY (CONT’D)
We’re tearing that eco-wagon of yours apart right now!
(barely audible)
You need to swing at me. Please.

TED
(shouting)
What? Are you out of your mind?

Her back to the two-way glass, Patty grunts and snaps her head back as if she received an uppercut.

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION OBSERVATION ROOM – SAME

QUINN
Oh, it’s on.

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION ROOM – SAME

Patty swings a chair at Ted, who ducks. The chair connects with a small black box on the wall.

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION OBSERVATION ROOM – SAME

Feedback wails through the speakers, then static. Crossman flicks the toggle on a wall-mounted intercom. No sound.

INT. NORTHPORT PD INTERROGATION ROOM – SAME

Patty hits Ted with the chair on the second try. He lands on the linoleum and slides a few feet, clutching his side.

PATTY
No fear, lover man. I want many more replays of this afternoon. I’m not going let anything bad happen to you, better believe.

She steps toward him, but he scoots back.

PATTY (CONT’D)
Baby, on the way to your cell, you’re gonna break away and pull a Brodie from the ninth floor.

TED
(clicking into gear)
No one’s — no one’s gonna buy that story if I took a beating.

With this newfound clarity, Ted stands and puts up his dukes.

PATTY
That’s my man.

Bouncing on the balls of her feet, Patty floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Much to their mutual surprise, Ted lands a punch, loops the next one. She pirouettes behind him and puts him in a full nelson.

Closeup on Ted and Patty’s faces as she shifts her arms into a sleeper hold. Her body shakes with effort as perspiration rolls down her face.

Closeup on Patty’s trembling lips as she whispers:

PATTY (CONT’D)
Sleep now. Sleep, angel.

Ted half-smiles and struggles until his eyes roll back like a doll’s. Like a sack of laundry, Patty lets him fall to the floor when Astoria, Quinn and Crossman enter. Astoria hands her a large coffee and surveys the trashed room. Crossman and Quinn golf-clap a few times and nod approval.

ASTORIA
Detective Cain! It’s always the quiet ones, innit? Okay, Plan B.

PATTY
He’s got a boat at the Marina. And a slight drinking problem.

She nods at a “boating under the influence” poster in the hallway. Astoria smiles.

FADE OUT.

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