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Movies You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 11

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder”, “Fort Apache, The Bronx”, “Boys From Brazil” and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT FOUR (CONT)

A FOOTBALL

flies across the field. Burke runs under it and sprints for the goal line, but Billy Lyons comes out of nowhere, knocks him down and grabs his flag.It’s the big game, NYPD versus NYFD and the field is packed. On the Fireman side the crowd cheers wildly.

ON THE POLICE SIDELINE

Putts screams for a penalty.

        PUTTS
Personal foul. This is flag
football, you can’t grab the
man.

        BILLY
Next thing you’re gonna be
sayin’ we gotta wear leotards.

The fire rooters screams derisively. Putts calls a time-out.

IN A RICKETY GRANDSTAND

Keats and Nieves are watching.

        NIEVES
Good job holding onto the
ball.

        KEATS
I told you, Jerry’s a tough
kid. He stepped up big time
on that cocaine bust.

        NIEVES
That was bizarre. Precinct
cops nail a guy the feds
couldn’t get. Did you guys
get somethin’ off an
informant?

        KEATS
No, it was an accident. They
were in there on that assault
case. Zazulich, the Russian
girl, sussed it out and played
it by ear. Unbelievable, huh?

        NIEVES
Unbelievable as in I don’t
believe it.

ON THE SIDELINE

Lena and Olga watch the game and gossip about the cops.

        OLGA
Jerry’s waiting for his
divorce to be final, then
we’re gonna move in.

        LENA
Derek is very graceful.

        OLGA
He’s a sweetie. I think he
likes you.

        LENA
And Third doesn’t socialize?

        OLGA
Third is very married. Three
kids and wife who watches
him like a hawk.

        LENA
(casual)
And the Lieutenant.

        OLGA
Keats? Sad story. His wife
died a coupla years ago. The
kids blamed him for not
retiring and taking her away
somewhere. They don’t talk to
him. He’s alone.

Lena looks at Keats with great sympathy

        LENA
He has a beautiful expression.
Full of suffering, but very
beautiful.

ON THE FIELD

Bagels repels the pass rush again as Derek completes a pass to Third. Then he turns and pleads to Putts.

        BAGELS
I’m dyin’ here. Give me a
blow.

        PUTTS
You’re stayin’ in until we
score

.
Putts turns to Vulvani who hasn’t clue what he’s talking about.

        PUTTS (cont’d)
Y’see that’s what I mean by
evaluating talent. This man
never lifted anything heavier
than a knish in his life, but
I spotted him right away.

Vulvani has a handful of BLUE JERSEYS with CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH emblazoned on the back and a large BLUE FISH fish with shark like teeth on the front. He approaches Daniella and Josephine, who are cheering “Go Dad. Go Bluefish..”

        VULVANI
Here girls, take. Don’t worry
I’m the sponsor. I am the
best booster. Next week…
caps.

IN THE HUDDLE

Bagels is throwing up. The men push him out of the huddle.

        CONTI
Gimme the ball, Lemme do
somethin’ heroic for my
girls.

        DEREK
Alright, let’s run the hook
and ladder.

        SLOAN
He can’t run, he took a
bullet in his leg.

        CONTI
Just clear these smoke eaters
out, I’ll make it.

ON THE SIDELINE

Olga teaches Lena and the Conti girls a quick cheer.

        OLGA
Hit ‘em high/Hit ‘em low/
Rock ‘em Bluefish/ Go go
go…

THE HUDDLE

breaks. Sloan and Conti bicker as they line up.

        SLOAN
Why does everything have to
revolve around you?

        CONTI
I’m goin’ through a difficult
divorce. I have self esteem
issues, loyalty, commitment.
You think my best friend
would want to help…

        SLOAN
Of course, somehow this
becomes my fault.

        DEREK
Hike!

A charging FIREMAN knocks Sloan down, but he gets up and sprints downfield, Conti laboring behind him.

        DEREK (cont’d)
Donnie!

Sloan turns just in time for the ball to thump into his chest. A FIREMAN comes in hot pursuit, but Third levels him with a vicious block. Then Conti, runs up.

        CONTI
Donnie, here!

Sloan laterals the ball to Conti and is knocked face first into the mud by Billy Lyons, who then takes off after Conti. Everybody stands and urges Conti on as Billy gains on him. Sloan staggers downfield, screaming:

        SLOAN
Run…

Conti’s knee buckles, but he makes it into the end zone with a broad smile as Sloan comes up behind him, shouting

        SLOAN (cont’d)
Touchdown!

The two hi five, victoriously.

FREEZE ON SLOAN AND CONTI

THE END

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movies You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 10

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder”, “Fort Apache, The Bronx”, “Boys From Brazil” and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT FOUR (CONT)

INT. SILHOUETTE CLUB. NIGHT. (CROSSCUT TO DETECTIVE CAR)

Burke is in a dark corner on a cell phone. Across the room he can see Lupo and PATRICK, his partner, talking to Lena. He waves to Lupo. Lupo waves back.

        BURKE
He’s got this guy Patrick
with him. Coupla other guys.

AT THE BAR

Lupo is flirting with Lena, while Patrick and other HOODS loom behind.

        LUPO
How do you know Sammy?

        LENA
My husband is on the same
cell block. They play soccer
football every day.

        LUPO
Sammy loves to play soccer.
What’s his name your husband,
Misha?

        LENA
Marty. He’s American.

        LUPO
Sammy never talked about a
Marty. I’ll have to talk to
Sammy first, you know,
before we do business. You
understand?

        LENA
Sure, but I have to score
tonight, so I’ll go to
someone else. Catch you
next time.

        LUPO
You’re in a big hurry, huh?

        LENA
I have to take care of people
upstate. Nobody wants to wait,
you know how it is.

        LUPO
Got the money?

        LENA
I brought for two keys.
Twenty eight Sammy said.

        LUPO
Twenty eight’s for steady
customers. Forty for new
business.

        LENA
I can do that.

Opens her bag. Shows him the money.

INT. DETECTIVE CAR. NIGHT.

Sloan and Conti are putting on KEVLAR BULLETPROOF VESTS. Sloan is on the cell phone on a conference call.

        SLOAN
Jerry says he’s got a
little office. Probably
take her in there.

INT. VAN. NIGHT.(CROSS CUT DETECTIVE CAR)

Derek and Third are checking their “nines…”

        DEREK
Once she gets out of our
sight we give it five
minutes and then go in.

        SLOAN
We don’t know what’s goin’
on behind closed doors.
Maybe he’s just talkin’.

        DEREK
Maybe he’s killin’ her.

        SLOAN
Only takes a second to kill
somebody, Derek, We gotta
trust her like she said.

INT. DETECTIVE CAR.(CROSS CUT INT. SILHOUETTE AND OTHER CARS)

Conti’s cell rings. It’s Burke.

        BURKE
They’re movin’. He took her
out the back way. He’s got a
black Range Rover.

        CONTI
Derek, go down Aveue X.
We’ll slide over and drive
past him and tell you which
way he’s headin’. Then you
pick up the tail.

        PUTTS
Hang with him awhile, then
hand him off to us.

THE DETECTIVE CAR

makes a sharp left onto a narrow street.

IN THE CAR

Conti spots them.

        CONTI
There they are.

The RANGE ROVER pulls out of an alley in front of them. Their headlights pick up Lena in the front seat. Sloan cuts his lights and pulls to the curb, as if parking. Conti talks into his phone.

        CONTI (CONT’D)
They’re headin’ west onto
Avenue X.

EXT. VAN. NIGHT.

Third sees the Rover pulling out ahead.

        THIRD
We got ‘em.

IN THE SEDAN

Bagels turns onto a broad thoroughfare.

        PUTTS
We’re goin’ west on Avenue
V.

EXT. STREET. NIGHT.

The Rover turns onto a narrow side street.

IN THE VAN (CROSSCUT WITH OTHER CARS)
Derek gets on the phone.

        DEREK
They’re goin’ up West Fourth,
toward the ocean.

        SLOAN
We’ll get them on Neptune.

EXT. NEPTUNE AVE. NIGHT.

The Detective Car drives up just as the Range Rover turns onto the street.

IN THE DETECTIVE CAR

        SLOAN
Got ‘em…

EXT. TWO FAMILY HOUSE. NIGHT.

The Rover parks in front. Lena, Kenny, Patrick and another HOOD get out. The Detective Car drives past.

IN THE DETECTIVE CAR

        CONTI
We all on the same page?

        DEREK
Here.

        PUTTS
I see ‘em.

        CONTI
Jerry, can you cover the
back?

INT. BURKE’S CAR. NIGHT.(CROSSCUT WITH OTHER CARS)

Olga slips into jeans and sneakers as she drives. Burke is on the cell phone.

        BURKE
Got it.

LIGHTS go on in the second floor of the house.

EXT. BACK YARD. NIGHT.

Burke and Olga climb over a wall.They drop into a pool of light from the second story window, then dart quickly into the shadows. Olga checks her WATCH. It’s 10:51.

IN BLACK…11;42;06..

Conti whispering…”No, baby, I did not push you into the closet…

INT. DETECTIVE CAR. NIGHT.

Conti on the cell phone.

        CONTI
I asked you to step in as a
personal favor to me.

        SLOAN
Doin’ it in the closet now?

        CONTI
I’m on the job right now.
You don’t believe me, ask
Donnie. Tell her.

And hands Sloan the phone.

        SLOAN
Boy, could I screw you up…
(into the phone)
Hi, Betty, Donnie. We are on
a stakeout. We’re lookin’ to
lock somebody up. No, nobody
you know… Thanks, you’re
sweet.
(disconnects)
She says you can call her
until one. She also says how
come all the good guys are
married.

Conti’s PHONE BEEPS.

        CONTI
Maybe this is Sandra…Oh,
Derek…

INT. VAN. NIGHT.(CROSSCUT WITH OTHER CARS)

        DEREK
It’s been a half hour. What
do we do?

        CONTI
We wait. Can’t break down
the door. We’ll just be
endangering her.

        DEREK
I suppose she’s not in
danger now.

        PUTTS
You guys wanna take your
heads outta your butts and
look outside the house…

LENA AND LUPO

are walking out of the house, laughing.

IN THE DETECTIVE CAR

Sloan grabs Conti, gleefully.

        SLOAN
She did it! Let’s get him.

Sloan starts the car and they drive up as Lupo is opening his door. Conti rolls down the window.

        CONTI
Hey Kenny…
(shows him the gun)
See this?
(and the badge)
And this?

        LUPO
What’s this all about?

        CONTI
Put your hands on top of the
car.

Sloan hustles out.

        SLOAN
Hiya doin’ Kenny. Wanna
spread your legs a little
bit for me?

        LUPO
You guys are embarrassing me
in front of my girlfriend.

        LENA
(holds up a shopping bag)
Don’t worry about me. Kenny.
The cocaine will console me.

        LUPO
(understands and snarls at
Lena)
Are you a cop you scurvy
little bitch?

Sloan slams his head against the door.

        SLOAN
Hey, watch your language, I
got a picture of my mother
in my pocket.

Lupo is subdued; a crafty look comes into his eye as the other cops run up.

        LUPO
I got good friends in this
precinct, you know what I
mean. Ask Jerry Burke, he’ll
vouch for me…

Sloan slams Lupo’s head into the car again.

        SLOAN
This is fun. One of you guys
wanna take a turn?

Conti tightens the cuffs on Lupo. And drags him up the walk to the house.

        CONTI
You wanna do yourself some
good, Kenny? Walk us into
the house, nice and easy,
so we can meet your friends.

        LUPO
Okay, I can do that. It’s
their stash, you know. I’m
just along for the ride.

        CONTI
Yeah I know, you thought you
were sellin’ grated cheese.
You got a secret code or
knock that gets you in?

        LUPO
Nah, I just ring the bell.

Derek rings the bell. A VOICE GROWLS over the SPEAKER.

        LUPO (cont’d)
It’s me Kenny. Let me in…

The cops hear a curse on the SPEAKER. Suddenly, the lights go out. Conti smacks Lupo.

        CONTI
Cute Kenny. Just bought
yourself five more years.
(shoves him at Lena)
Watch him…Call Emergency
Service to help us bust
into the house.

Third runs at the door, kicking it in. The cops step over the shattered frame into a two family house. They rush up the narrow stairs. Putts bangs on the door.

        PUTTS
Police! Open up!

IN THE BACK YARD

CELLOPHANE PACKAGES sail out of the second floor window. Olga runs to catch them as a MAN jumps out, followed by another. Burke kicks one man’s legs out from under him and slams the other with the butt of his gun.

INT. STAIRWAY. NIGHT.

The cops stand, impatiently outside the door.

        CONTI
Can’t wait, they’re flushin’
the evidence.

Derek throws a kick at the door. Then, Bagels lowers his shoulder and breaks it in. Conti and Sloan rush into the LIVING ROOM where a WOMAN and TWO MEN rise hands up, shouting “Don’t shoot, we give up.” Derek and Third run into a BATHROOM where Patrick is flushing cellophane bags of white powder down the toilet. They pull him up by the collar and drag him into the living room where Conti is cuffing the others and Sloan is looking into two SUITCASES full of cellophane bags.

        SLOAN
We got a major cocaine
seizure here.

EXT. HOUSE. NIGHT.

Lupo is lying face down, hands cuffed. Lena stands over him.

        LUPO
Sammy Capelli gave me up,
didn’t he? The one guy in
the world I trusted.

        LENA
Oh Kenny, darling, what a
pretty boy. All the girls
are going to miss you. But
you just wear that nice
cologne you’ll make a lot
of new friends in jail…


ACT FOUR (CONT)

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movies You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 9

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder,”Fort Apache, The Bronx,”Boys From Brazil”and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT FOUR


IN BLACK…10;16.O8…HITLER’S VOICE declaiming…A hundred thousand people at Nuremberg cry “Sig Heil…”

INT. BRIAN’S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

Brian is hunched ecstatically in front of the computer. On screen, an AV biography of Hitler. Sloan and Corinne sit on the bed, watching in astonishment.

        SLOAN
Is this why I traipsed
around Brooklyn on my
lunch hour? So you can
watch Nazi propaganda?

        BRIAN
This site gives you
information the Government
doesn’t want you to have..

        CORINNE
Like what?

        BRIAN
Like in twenty years the
white race is going to be in
the minority in this country.

        SLOAN
I don’t know if that’s true,
but even if it is it’s not
the end of the world.

        BRIAN
C’mon Dad, you’re a cop. You
know what happens when the
criminal element is in the
majority. The influx of
illegal aliens has raises
the crime rate, increases
the welfare rolls…

        CORINNE
I wouldn’t call them a
criminal element.

        BRIAN
Undesirable then? You’re
selling real estate up here,
Mom. We know you have code
words for minorities…

        SLOAN
Who’s we, Brian?

        ASHLEY
( mockingly,in the doorway)
We is his nerdy Nazi friends.

        BRIAN
Better than your phony Goths
with their stick on tattoos
and clip on nose rings.

        CORINNE
Ashley come in and sit down.

        BRIAN
Not here. This room’s off
limits for her.

        ASHLEY
I don’t want come into this
pimple palace anyway. Don’t
worry about Adolph, dad. You
guys aren’t around a lot and
it’s just his way of getting
your attention.

        BRIAN
Yeah and what’s your way?
Givin’ head to to your
boarder boyfriend?

        ASHLEY
You little bitch!

She jumps at him, nails out. He swings wild, hitting Sloan. The two fight fiercely as their parents try to break them up.

IN BLACK…DINER SOUNDS..WEDNESDAY, 7:01:49.

INT. VICTOR’S. DAY.

RADIOS squawking calls on the counter and on the tables as COPS take their meal periods. Putts sits at a table, surrounded by COPS, diagramming plays on graph paper.

        PUTTS
This team is media ready,
baby. We win the city and
the state. We get write ups.
The PD’s gotta fly us to
New Orleans for the
nationals. We win those,
baby, we’re doin’ Letterman.
We get an agent. We’re up
for commercials…We just
gotta get by them firemen…

AT THE REGISTER
Conti and Sloan pay their checks.

        SLOAN
It seems like yesterday he
was a little kid cryin’
because the Little League
Coach kept putting him in
right field.

        CONTI
And now he’s gonna take over
the world and put all them
jocks against the wall.

        SLOAN
(defensive)
Wait a minute. It’s not that
bad.

They walk out and head for their cars.

        CONTI
Admit it, you’re in suburban
hell. You got a house you
can’t afford. Your son’s a
loose cannon. Your daughter’s
into sexual experimentation.

        SLOAN
Excuse me. I suppose there’s
no sexual experimentation
goin’ on in Brooklyn. I
suppose your little Josephine
isn’t doing a little lap
work…

        CONTI
Excuse me, but would you like
to get your ass kicked?

        SLOAN
(opens his door)
I deserve it for confiding
in you.

        CONTI
(opens his door)
I could blow you off with
some feelgood line of crap.
But because I’m your friend,
I hit you between the eyes
with the unvarnished truth…

        SLOAN
(getting into his car)
At least I’m tryin’ to do the
best for my family. Not like
Mr. Unvarnished Truth over
here, who cuts everybody
loose so he can chase women…

        CONTI
(getting into his car)
I got a problem, alright. If
it was drinking or gambling
or even drugs everybody would
feel sorry for me…

They slam their doors and gun their motors. Then jam on the brakes to avoid a collision.

INT. KEATS’S OFFICE. DAY.

Keats stares at Sloan in disbelief, a coffee cup poised in his hand. A moment of strained silence. Sloan fidgets.

        KEATS
This is a scam, right?

        SLOAN
I would call it innovative
police work.

        KEATS
You’re gonna send this
Russian girl into the bar
to get him on a cocaine
sale.

        SLOAN
That’s the plan.

        KEATS
DEA and FBI struck out with
this guy. What makes you
think you can get him?

        SLOAN
We’ve got an ice breaker, a
name we can use to get his
trust. Look, if we arrest
Lupo for rape, she won’t
testify against him anyway.
And if her brothers find out,
she’ll be punished, beaten,
maybe worse, and we’ll have
another crime to investigate.
We got a special situation in
this precinct. We do things a
little differently, but we
get the bad guys.

        KEATS
Multicultural policing.

        SLOAN
Beg your pardon…

        KEATS
You promise this won’t blow
up in my face.

        SLOAN
Operationally and
procedurally we’ve got all
our bases covered.

        KEATS
I think I’ll go home early
tonight.

        SLOAN
Good idea. You look a little
tired.

        KEATS
You know that Russian girl
gave me some good exercises
for my back.

        SLOAN
Don’t worry. We’ll take care
of her.

INT.SQUAD.NIGHT.

The cops discuss the “move.” with Lena.

        SLOAN
Order a drink and wait until
he hits on you.

        LENA
No, I ask for him right away.
I am there to buy drugs. Why
would I wait?

        SLOAN
Because he’ll get suspicious
if you come on strong…

        LENA
He’ll get suspicious if I
don’t. I’ve done many times
this before. If you don’t
trust me to do it right call
it off.

        PUTTS
Anybody know this Silhouette
Club?

        DEREK
I took a guy outta there when
I was in uniform…

        BURKE
(blurts)
I been in there a coupla
times. I know Kenny Lupo.

They look at him. This is a damaging admission.

        CONTI
You could go in and spot
him for us.

        SLOAN
If Lupo sees a cop he might
freeze up.

        CONTI
He might also relax and think
nothin’ was up.

        OLGA
I’ll go in with you. Make it
look more natural.

        THIRD
Do we have back up? What if
Lupo’s got ten guys in there?
Do we have a Plan B?

        CONTI
You know what makes most plans
fail? Too much planning.

        SLOAN
Thank you, partner. That
about sums it up.

IN BLACK…10:15;57. STREET SOUNDS. RADIO CALLS

        DEREK
God, did you ever see
anything like this in your
life?

EXT. SILHOUETTE CLUB. NIGHT.

Lena chic in a short skirt and spiked heels walk past a CHUNKY BOUNCER under a NEON SILHOUETTE of a COUPLE embracing.

PAN TO a VAN across the street where Derek and Third are watching. Third grabs the radio.

        THIRD
She’s in.

His CELL PHONE chirps.

A FEW BLOCKS AWAY

Sloan and Conti sit in a DETECTIVE CAR, the Silhouette sign blinking in the distance. Sloan talks on his cell phone.

        SLOAN
Jerry says turn off the
radios, they got a satellite
scanner in the bar.

INT SILHOUETTE CLUB. NIGHT.

Dark, DISCO blasting. JUNIOR WISEGUYS in knock off Armanis, bragging and flashing jewelry..
Olga, in short skirt and low cut top walks through the smoke, drawing looks and propositions. She passes the bar where Lena, holding a shot of vodka, is talking to the BARTENDER.

        LENA
Tell Kenny Sammy Capelli
told me to come.

At the end of the bar Burke is nursing a beer.

        BURKE
You made a lot of friends.

        OLGA
Yeah. If I ever want to be
fed cheap booze and raped
under the boardwalk, I know
where to go.

INT. SEDAN. NIGHT.

The radio is on to a sports talk show. Putts and Bagels cruise past a sedan where Conti and Sloan are on cell phones.

INT. DETECTIVE CAR. NIGHT.

Sloan is talking to his wife. Conti to the Golden Gate. Both have changed out of their suits into windbreakers and slacks.

        CONTI
She’s a brunette, nice body,
on the zaftig side.

        SLOAN
I’ll talk to Brian tomorrow
morning. I won’t get home in
time, Corinne, I’m on a
stakeout.

        CONTI
Did anybody leave a message
for me?

        SLOAN
Hold on a second…
(to Conti)
Face facts, the lady’s got
too much class to hang around
that dump waitin’for you.

        CONTI
(grabs Sloan’s phone)\
Corinne, how do you put up
with this guy?… A drink?
Any time. I’ve been secretly
in love with you for years…

        SLOAN
(shoves him)
Turn off the charm…

Conti’s phone beeps. He answers…

        CONTI
Yeah, Jerry.
(to Sloan)
Lupo showed. Is he alone,
Jerry?


END ACT THREE

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movies You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 8

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder,”Fort Apache, The Bronx,”Boys From Brazil”and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT THREE

 

IN BLACK… SQUAD ROOM…ANGRY VOICES. RADIO CALLS.

IN THE SQUAD ROOM

The radio is on Bagel’s desk next to the spreads. Putts is typing a report. TWO COPS are trying to get a PRISONER down the stairs, but he is resisting, holding onto a bannister. Bagels lifts the Prisoner high over his head, holding him over the landing. Across the room: Conti is crooning into the phone, while Sloan watches in disgust.

        CONTI
I gotta see you right away.
Make sure it wasn’t all a
dream.

INT. DENTIST’S OFFICE. DAY. (CROSS CUT)

Sandra, in her uniform, is on the phone.

        SANDRA
I can’t, I’m at work.

        CONTI
So I’ll come in for a
cleaning. I need one after
last night.

        SLOAN
You are truly a disgusting
human being.

        CONTI
(bangs the phone against the
desk)
Hear that? That’s the sound
of me knockin’one of my teeth
out. Now you’ll have to see
me.

        SANDRA
(laughing)
I don’t know if I can make
it.

        CONTI
Okay, no pressure. I’ll drop
into the Golden Gate tomorrow
about eight. If you’re there,
you’re there. If not I drown
myself. Bye, Sandra.

Hangs up with a dreamy look.

        SLOAN
You are a degenerate bastard.

        CONTI
I’m a Romantic. A hundred
years ago I woulda been a Don
Juan, a Casanova. They woulda
written poems about me.
Instead, I gotta put up with
mutts like you callin’ me
names.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM. DAY

Lena and Olga are trying to coax a story out of Ismailia.

        OLGA
You don’t remember anything
that happened after you left
your house.

        ISMAILIA
I remember nothing. I told
you…

Lena turns to Ismailia and whispers urgently in Russian. Ismailia is surprised at first, but then replies in a tearful outburst. Lena translates.

        LENA
She’s afraid of the dishonor
to her family.

        OLGA
Look, I’m a cop. But I’m also
a woman and I know what
you’ve been through. I swear
on my mother’s grave I’m not
gonna make it worse for you.

        ISMAILIA
My brothers could not marry
if their sister was known as
a whore. They would have to
send me away, maybe kill me,
to save the family reputation.
This is the way in our
country.

        OLGA
Here, too Ismailia, I hate to
tell you. A woman gets raped
people say she asked for it.
You wear a nice dress, maybe
you smile at a guy, that’s
askin’ for it. Your family,
even other women who oughta
know better, they think it.

        ISMAILIA
You know.

        OLGA
Yeah, I know. But you gotta
be brave. ‘Cause it’s not
just for you. It’s for some
girl who might take a walk on
the boardwalk with this guy
and never come back. If that
happens you’ll never forgive
yourself.

        ISMAILIA
(thinks it over)
If I tell you who it was,
will you promise, will you
swear to keep me out?

        OLGA
I don’t know how we could do
that. This crime was committed
against you.

        ISMAILIA
If you don’t promise, I
can’t tell.

Olga and Lena look at each other, doubtfully.

        LENA
At least we’ll know who it
was.

        OLGA
Okay, I promise.

Ismailia looks hard at the two of them. Then, satisfied, she turns the pages of the mug book.

        ISMAILIA
It is him.

INSERT..A MUG SHOT…The man on the beach.

        OLGA
Kenneth Lupo. Where’d you meet
him?

        ISMAILIA
At the Silhouette Club. My
friends from work, Sonia and
Naomi. All the time they go
there. Dancing, handsome men,
they said. Get out in the
world. So I went. And I met
him, this Kenny. He is
Russian, too, but here for a
long time. He was beautiful.
Silk shirts, gold chain, eyes
shining. Always laughing,
white teeth. The cologne, the
beautiful smell.

        OLGA
I know that smell.

        ISMAILIA
He knows my brothers from
some football club. He laughs.
Oh they’ll kill you if they
know you’re here. Later, a few
drinks and he says ‘come I’ll
take you home before it gets
too late…’
(bitter)
Then…You know. He knows I
can’t tell. He knows what
will happen.

INT. VICTOR’S. DAY.

A strategy session. Over coffee, Sloan reads from Lupo’s rap sheet.

        SLOAN
Kenny Lupo, a.k.a. Arkady
Lupovich. Born Odessa, 1967.
Known coke dealer. One
possession with intent. One
assault with a deadly weapon.
One rape. Pleaded to assault.
Did a deuce at Greenhaven…

        CONTI
Anybody workin’ on him?

        SLOAN
He’s on the DEA computer.
They had a tap on him. He
don’t talk on the phone. FBI
tried to put undercovers in.
No luck.

        CONTI
We can make a collar based on
the victim’s ID.

        LENA
The girl will never testify.

        CONTI
We may not need her to if we
have you ladies corroborating
her ID.

        LENA
I won’t testify. I gave my
word.

        OLGA
Me too.

        SLOAN
Where you workin’ next week?

        OLGA
I was an exotic dancer for
three years. I can go back to
that.

        CONTI
I’m sure you can. Where’d you
work?

        SLOAN
Don’t get him started.

        OLGA
Look Bobby, I didn’t come on
this job to ruin people’s
lives. If I give this girl up
her family will excommunicate
her.

        CONTI
If you don’t a mutt gets away
with rape. I don’t go for
that. I got two daughters
living in this neighborhood.

There is a strained, stubborn silence. No one will give in.

        SLOAN
Why don’t we buy cocaine off
this guy? It’s a bigger
collar. He’ll get twenty
years.

        LENA
You get me a name to open the
door. I’ll get him to sell me
the cocaine…

        SLOAN
Bobby…

Conti glares at Sloan, but then looks through the office window into the squad room where Ismailia is coming out to meet her father. Shamil rises wearily from his chair and hugs her. Her shoulders shake as if she is crying. He pats her gently on the back with his work gnarled hand.

Conti turns back to Sloan.

        CONTI
I’ll get you a name.

EXT.SCAROLA’S.DAY.

An Italian restaurant on a quiet side street. A BURLY LOOKOUT steps aside, as Conti enters, asking for “Mr. Varese…”

INT. SCAROLA’S. DAY.

Empty accept for a boisterous round table at the back where EDDIE VARESE, mid sixties, flushed with wine is holding court with his “crew,” seven or eight thick, prosperous middle aged men. Someone spots him and they all quiet down. With a few “hi Bobby’s,” they rise and melt away.

        CONTI
What do I got, the plague?

        VARESE
It’s the badge. Gives ‘em
agita.
(they hug)
You never come see me no
more.

        CONTI
I don’t want my picture taken
by every federal agency in
the country

        VARESE
Ah, who cares about a small
time bookie like me? Sit down.
You want a coffee?

        CONTI
(looking at the dirty dishes)
Now I know why I never went
into the rackets. I could
never eat like you guys.Too
bad about Barry Weiner, huh.

        VARESE
This man booked bets for
thirty years in the
neighborhood. Always paid off
to the penny. Always carried
the losers. This man was
loved.

         CONTI
How about Peter Cortina?

         VARESE
Everybody knows that guy was
a funeral waitin’ to happen.
Nobody cares.

         CONTI
My boss does. You start
toastin’ wiseguys next thing
you know you got TV crews and
Task Forces. Most guys like
publicity, but he don’t, he’s
funny that way. Now he’s
tellin’ me he wants to close
you down. The card room on
the Boardwalk and the numbers
drops and the after hours.

        VARESE
Why’s he mad at me?

        CONTI
Barry gets clipped. Coupla
hours later they find Cortina.
Everybody knows he’s been
tryin’ to move in on Coney
Island. Everybody knows that
you and Tony Scaduto in
Bensonhurst don’t see eye to
eye.

        VARESE
What everybody knows won’t
stand up in court.

        CONTI
We’re not talkin’ court,
Uncle Eddie. We’re talkin’
givin’ you grief. My boss
don’t like mob guys, he’s
funny that way, too. He plugs
you in as a suspect you’re
in a fishbowl. You’re a
headline waitin’ to happen.

        VARESE
(beginning to understand)
This a shakedown, Bobby?

        CONTI
You know a guy named Kenny
Lupo?

        VARESE
Yeah, he’s a piece of garbage.
Got nothin’ to do with me.

        CONTI
I need a magic name to drop
with this guy. So I get his
confidence in a hurry.

        VARESE
I don’t like the guy, but I
don’t give people up.

        CONTI
Kenny Lupo raped a little
Russian girl, and beat her up
pretty bad. He’s goin’ down
whether you chip in or not.

        VARESE
(thinks it over)
Sammy Capelli, Him and
Kenny were partners in the
dope business. He went away
for killin’ a guy. Kenny
sends him money, takes care
of his mother, so you know
Sammy’s got a hammer on him.

        CONTI
Sammy Capelli. Got a nice
ring to it. Oh yeah, one
more thing, I’m gonna need a
little interest free loan…
Forty grand,

        VARESE
Forty G’s, what do I look
like?

        CONTI
It’s coffee and cake money
for you.

        VARESE
(pinches Conti’s cheek)
My baby sister’s favorite
son, I can’t say no to you.
Gimme a hug.

As they hug, Varese feels around his back. Conti pulls away.

        CONTI
Don’t worry, your baby
sister’s favorite son
ain’t wearin’ a wire.


END ACT THREE

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movies You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 7

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder,”Fort Apache, The Bronx,”Boys From Brazil”and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT THREE

IN BLACK…BEDROOM SOUNDS…Tuesday 6:23 :02

        CONTI
My father owned a restaurant
in Bath Beach. My Uncle Eddie,
the hood, was the silent
partner. His boys ate there…

INT. CONTI’S BEDROOM.DAY

Conti and Sandra are in an afterglow embrace.

        CONTI
And so did the cops from the
local precinct. Even as a kid
I noticed the wiseguys were
always mad or worried about
something, but the cops were
always laughin’ and havin’ a
good time. So when my uncle
told me to drive a truck full
of stolen suits to Newark, I
said ‘ no thanks,’ and took
the Police Exam instead.

        SANDRA
No regrets.

        CONTI
I like the job. I feel I’m
makin’ up for some of my
reprehensible habits.

        SANDRA
Well, a guilty cheater. Don’t
feel too bad. Can’t cheat by
yourself.

        CONTI
Don’t I know it. But then you
meet somebody and you wish
they would take you seriously.

        SANDRA
(rolling out of bed)
This is where I came in.

        CONTI
Am I makin’ you nervous?

        SANDRA
It’s not you. The Velvet
Hammers just wore off and all
of a sudden I can smell some
other woman’s perfume. And
I’m feeling just a little
cheap.

        CONTI
You did all this to get back
at your husband, didn’t you?

        SANDRA
Not really. My husband’s at
his new girlfriend’s house.
He’ll never know.

        CONTI
So maybe it had a little
something to do with me.

        SANDRA
Fishing for compliments? You
weren’t that great.

        CONTI
C’mere. Give me another
chance.

Sandra gets back into bed with Conti. As they kiss the PHONE RINGS.

        CONTI (CONT’D)
It’s just my partner stuck in
traffic.

They kiss as the VOICE MAIL comes on and:

        SLOAN
Pick up, you rat bastard, I
know you’re there.

IN BLACK…PRECINCT SOUNDS. 9:15:04

        RADIO
…Pick up Ismailia Akmhatov
from Coney Island General…

INT.SQUAD.DAY.

Hectic. PRISONERS, FEDS. Lena who is briefing some FEDS. watches Sloan and Conti escort Ismailia into an office

        LENA
My act was so good he thought
I was a thief. He thought he
could kill me.

She looks across the aisle in amusement at:

BAGELS

who is plying Vulvani, the Indian appliance store owner with bagels, while Putts hovers over him, putter in hand.

        VULVANI
You don’t believe I was
robbed?

        PUTTS
The insurance company
requires us to check the ID
numbers against recorded
purchases. If one matches
they got you on insurance
fraud, tax evasion…

        VULVANI
But they broke down my wall.

        PUTTS
We saw your wall. We’re gonna
have to say that the plaster
was on the outside like the
wall had been busted in from
the inside. When you make a
cop do his job you always
have a problem.

        BAGELS
Have a nice, hot poppyseed
bagel, fresh from the oven.
We got hazelnut coffee…

        PUTTS
You guys play field hockey,
don’t you? That’s a girl’s
game in America.

SLOAN walks by carrying a mug book.

        BASHIR
Detective Sloan.

Bashir and Adan cross the room to him. Shamil hangs back, intimidated by the official bustle.

        BASHIR (cont’d)
We went to the hospital to
pick my sister up and they
said you brought her here.
What’s up with that?

Shamil nods, meekly as Sloan speaks to him. .

        SLOAN
We’d just like her to check
some photos. In a few days,
when she feels better, we
would like to talk to her
again.

        ADAN
There’s nothing to talk about.

        SHAMIL
(halting)
She said she didn’t see the
man. She was walking on the
boardwalk and he came behind
her. Then, when the people
shouted, he ran away.

        SLOAN
Maybe she’ll remember a
little detail.

        SHAMIL
Why make her remember? Let
her forget.

        SLOAN
We need her to help us catch
this man. To stop him from
hurting another woman.

        SHAMIL
I understand…

INT INTERROGATION ROOM. DAY

Ismailia is shaking her head vehemently under Conti’s gentle questioning as Sloan enters.

        CONTI
Do you remember seeing maybe
a ring or a watch? A bracelet…?

        ISMAILIA
I don’t…Nothing.

        CONTI
When he put his hand over
your mouth did you smell any
kind of cologne? Did he have
an accent? Did he say anything?

        ISMAILIA
(shaking her head)
No.

        SLOAN
Don’t be frightened, Miss
Akmhatov, we’ll protect you….

        ISMAILIA
(tearfully vehement)
I told you: He said nothing,
I saw nothing. Why do you
question me?

IN THE SQUAD ROOM

Lena is filling out a form for the feds. She eavesdrops as Shamil and his sons have an animated conversation in Uzbek a few desks away. Then watches as Sloan whispers to Olga and leads her into the interrogation room. Then sees Keats trying to do stretching exercises in his office. She rises and crosses the room to Keats’ office, smiling at Derek, who watches her, smitten. Keats has his leg up on the desk as she enters.

        LENA
This stretch is not good for
a bad back.

        KEATS
The doctor says it strengthens
the hamstrings.

        LENA
Only if you can do it like
this.

She puts her leg up on the desk and stretches all the way until her forehead touches her ankle.

        LENA (cont’d)
First thing for you is
flexibility of the spine. Get
on the floor. On your back.

Astonished, Keats obeys, lying down in front of his desk.

        LENA (cont’d)
Raise your knees.

Again, Keats obeys. Lena stands over him, bends his legs and pushes his knees into his chest. He groans…in pleasure.

        KEATS
Oh, that’s good.

        LENA
That Uzbek girl won’t tell
you anything.

        KEATS
Afraid of the man who did it?

        LENA
Afraid of her own family, I
heard her brothers talking.
In their culture the woman’s
chastity must be protected.
If she has sex before
marriage she is considered a
whore.

        KEATS
Even if she’s raped?

        LENA
They’ll say she provoked it.
Why wasn’t her face covered?
Why did she go out alone?
They can drive her away. Or
kill her.

        KEATS
Maybe in their country.

        LENA
These are immigrants,
Lieutenant. They bring their
country with them.
(moves around behind him)
Sit up. Put your hands behind
your head…

She pushes his head down into his chest.

        KEATS
(gasping)
What’s your name, Officer?

        LENA
Lena Zazulich.

        KEATS
How do you know so much about
stretching, Miss Zazulich?

        LENA
I was a little ballerina in
Russia. Kirov ballet, you’ve
heard of it?

        KEATS
No.

        LENA
Good. I’m in the right place.
They take you away from your
family when you’re five years.
Train you, slave drive you
seven days a week so you can
go on tour and earn foreign
currency.

        KEATS
How’d you become a cop?

        LENA
We were privileged little
girls. They let us watch
American TV. I watched
Cagney and Lacey, you know
this show?

        KEATS
Yeah, sure.

        LENA
Strong, independent women,
not little dancing puppets.
So when I came here and they
said go to City Ballet, I
said no I’m going to the
Police Academy.

        KEATS
Ever hear of multicultural
police work?

        LENA
No.

        KEATS
You’re in the right place.
Get that girl to give you a
name, a description.

        LENA
She’ll never tell.

        KEATS
She’ll have to. If not, we’ll
force her to have an
examination and we’ll reveal
the results to the family.

Lena drops Keats’s head and steps away.

        LENA
This is cruel. It’s a betrayal.

        KEATS
(rises slowly)
People don’t get away with
rape in my precinct, Officer
Zazulich. Cagney and Lacey
would agree, don’t you think?
(stretches)
Ooh…A little sore, but I
feel a lot looser already.

END: ACT THREE (CONT)

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movies You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 6

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder,”Fort Apache, The Bronx,”Boys From Brazil”and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT TWO

IN BLACK…11:21:54…JETS LANDING…PA ANNOUNCEMENTS.

        RADIO
Anti crime units 1 and 2
respond to La Guardia,
Terminal 7…

INT.AIRPORT TERMINAL.NIGHT.

SURVEILLANCE PHOTO. A YOUNG BLONDE WOMAN standing by a car.

        OLGA
(o.s.)
This is the undercover.

TILT UP to a bench where Olga and Burke dressed as tourists with backpacks and boomboxes are looking at the photo.

        BURKE
Cute…

        OLGA
(with a little slap)
Keep your mind on the job.

She snuggles up, but Burke slides away.

        BURKE
Cool it. Everybody’s lookin’…

He points across at Third and Derek, business suits, laptops, sitting across from them, smirking.

        OLGA
So what? We’re playin’ young
lovers on a world tour.

        BURKE
Let’s play lovers havin’ a
fight

ACROSS THE AISLE

Third and Derek check out the FBI contingent.

        DEREK
We’re just around in case of
World War III, right?

        THIRD
Plan is she’s takes ‘the guy
into the bar. She passes the
money, he gives her the
diamonds. Then, the FBI moves
in…

WEARY PASSENGERS trickle out of the gate. Then comes LENA, a tall, striking blonde in a black dress carrying an attache case.

        DEREK
Oh, this is a star.

        THIRD
Don’t get drippy on me again.
Don’t burn where you earn.

Lena is met by a HEAVYSET MAN in a black suit.They shake hands and she turns toward the bar. But the Heavyset man takes her arm again and pulls her in the opposite direction.

        DEREK
Change of plans.

THREE MEN and a WOMAN emerge from the bar and surround her. They walk her toward the exit. Third puts headphones in his ears and walks by the group..There is a TINY MICROPHONE on his laptop case. As they pass he hears:

        HEAVYSET MAN
(thick accent in headphones)
Too many people here, too
crowded. We have a quiet
place in the parking lot.

        LENA
(Russian accent)
I have to catch a plane back
to Phoenix.

        HEAVYSET MAN
We always change the routine.
Don’t worry…But don’t make
a problem.

Following the group Third sees the Heavyset Man produce a GUN. Signaling to Derek, he makes the shape of a gun with his hand. Then he turns his hands as if on a steering wheel. Derek jumps up, and heads for the exit.

OLGA AND BURKE

walk parallel to the group, while Third follows them out, signaling to the FBI men to keep their distance.

EXT. PARKING LOT, NIGHT.

Derek peels off into the darkness as the group goes to a quiet corner where the SMUGGLER, a sour middle aged man in a leather jacket waits by a car.

OLGA AND BURKE

cross the street and move down a row of cars.

THIRD

drops down under a car, points his laptop and turns up the gain as Lena faces the Smuggler. He hears:

        SMUGGLER
Give me your shoes.

        LENA
(slipping out of her shoes)
This is not the deal we made.

        SMUGGLER
(looking in the shoes)
We have to be careful.
(to the Woman)
Search her.

        LENA
But this was all arranged in
Phoenix.

        WOMAN
Pull up your skirt.

Lena complies. The Woman checks her for a mike.

        WOMAN (cont’d)
Your bra.

        LENA
No bra.

        WOMAN
She’s clean.

        SMUGGLER
So you are not police.

        LENA
I told you.

        SMUGGLER
Just a thief. No one will
miss you.

Points the remote toward a SEVILLE. The trunk pops open. The Heavyset Man grabs Lena. She jabs him in the eye, tries to run, but the Smuggler steps out and punches her in the face.

THIRD

turns on his radio and waves to Olga and Third.

        THIRD
I’m goin’…

He jumps up, gun out and runs toward the group.

                     THIRD (CONT’D)
Freeze! Police!

THE SMUGGLER

looks up and sees Third running toward him. Olga and Burke weaving through cars. He jams the gun against Lena’s head. She talks fast.

        LENA
Shoot me. They’ll shoot you…
Give up now, a good lawyer
gets you five years. Think
fast.

The Smuggler thinks fast. Sees the cops running towards him. The feds rushing out of the terminal. Drops his gun.

THE HEAVYSET MAN

tries to slip away in the confusion. Weaving through the cars into the darkness he is suddenly confronted by Derek moves in.

        DEREK
No exit, pal.

The Heavyset Man reaches into his belt, but Derek grabs his wrist and smacks him hard on the side of a head with a “slapper” (blackjack). Then throws him over the hood.

AT THE SCENE

Confusion. LIGHTS and SIRENS. Third, Olga and Jerry are holding the PRISONERS as the feds run up. Lena has her head tilted back to stop the bleeding from her nose. She turns as

Derek hustles the handcuffed Heavyset Man back to the scene. Takes the blackjack out of his hand.

        LENA
May I?

        DEREK
Be my guest.

Lena walks over to where the Feds are searching the Smuggler. Without warning she smacks him in the face with the “slapper.” The Smuggler’s knees buckle and the feds jump at Lena in alarm. “What do you think you’re doing…?” Lena hands the “slapper” back to Derek.

        LENA
Thank you…

And walks away. Derek watches her go, then turns to Third.

        DEREK
I think I’m falling in love.

END ACT TWO

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movies You Will Never See/ Coney Island Bluefish/Part 5

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder,”Fort Apache, The Bronx,”Boys From Brazil”and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT TWO

IN BLACK…5;50.13 SHOUTS, CURSES, FLOPS.

        RADIO
Units AC 1 and AC 2 report to
squad at 19:30 for special
assignment.

EXT. PLAYING FIELD. DAY.

Twilight on the muddy, rutted field. RADIOS squawk in jacket pockets and backpacks on the sideline. Cops run back and forth, checking the calls then running back onto the field where Putts is trying to get a practice in before nightfall. Third and Derek and other burly COPS practice patterns. Sloan, huffing and puffing, tries to keep up as Derek runs out of the back field. He staggers off the field, gasping toward Putts, who is yelling instructions to BAGELS on the line.

        PUTTS
Gotta get off the line faster
than that, big guy.
(sees Sloan)
Gimme twenty for comin’ off
the field without permission.

        SLOAN
Wait up, Jeff I just wanted
to ask you: Still runnin’
that T group for hate crime
kids?.

        PUTTS
Every Sunday at Clearview
Baptist. It’s the kids who
vandalized cemeteries or
attacked minorities. It’s
part of their probation. You
got somebody you wanna put in?

        SLOAN
My son.

        PUTTS
It’s mostly black and
Hispanic. I don’t know how
a white kid would go in that
mix. What’d he do?

        SLOAN
Nothin’ yet. He’s subscribing
to all these hate groups on
the Internet. Chat rooms,
weird ideas…

        PUTTS
Does he have any contact with
minority kids?

        SLOAN
There might be thirty or
forty in his school. But
they’re mostly on the teams
and they hang together. It’s
that Internet…

        PUTTS
Internet’s just a tool. I’ll
go online tonight and find
you a great counseling group
right in your neck of the
woods. But I gotta tell you,
Donnie, it comes from you.

        SLOAN
How can you say that?

        PUTTS
Not every one of those thirty
or forty minority kids is on
the basketball team. And they
don’t all stick together. But
that’s your assumption and
that’s what he picks up.

        SLOAN
You know me, Jim…

        PUTTS
And I love you like a brother.
But it’s comin’ off you just
like them cigarettes you try
to hide. Kids smell it on you.
And then they run with it.
Take it places you don’t want
it to go.

        SLOAN
So what do I do?

        PUTTS
You gotta spend some quality
time with this boy. Let him
know the way you and Corinne
really feel about things.
Then, we’ll find him a group…
Now give me forty you racist
pig…

Sloan starts to protest, but sees Putts’s point. He drops in the mud and starts doing push ups…

INT.KEAT’S OFFICE.NIGHT

Keats is hanging upside down from a gravity belt. Conti enters.

        CONTI
Made some calls. Looks like
Barry Weiner got caught in a
little mob war.

        KEATS
Wiseguys! They can’t go a
month without killin’ each
other.

        CONTI
This morning they found a
Bensonhurst shy named Peter
Cortina in a burning Catera
upstate in Brewster. The
whisper was that he was part
of the Scaduto crew tryin’
to move in on Coney Island.

        KEATS
So Cortina killed Weiner and
Varese got him back right
away. Eddie Varese got this
neighborhood from Gambino
himself. He’ll dump bodies
all over before he gives it
up.

        CONTI
So they wipe each other out?
Who cares?

        KEATS
Me. For one thing I got a
bunch of homicides I can’t
clear. Screws up my stats.
And another: some little kids
on their way to school see a
stiff in a burning car? Not
in my precinct.

        CONTI
(helping him down)
You wanna fix your back up?
Get yourself a nice lady.
Nice massage. Nice…

        KEATS
Hey Doctor Feelgood. you’re
wanted in the diarrhea ward…
I feel like bustin’ chops on
this Weiner thing.

        CONTI
Let’s bust ‘em.

INT.LOCKER ROOM. NIGHT.

Burke comes out of the shower wrapped in a towel. Sloan is getting dressed. He speaks in a casual undertone.

        SLOAN
A word to the not so wise,
Jerry. IAD’S got film on you
and a fellow officer. And
there’s some talk about some
other extra curricular
activities…

        BURKE
(stunned but controlled)
How do you know about it?

        SLOAN
A friend of mine who’s also a
friend of your’s asked me to
pass it on.

        BURKE
You ain’t spyin’ on me,
Donnie.

        SLOAN
Yeah. And then tellin’ you all
about it. With all due respect,
you’re not too cool. But
you’re a tough kid and people
like you. You’re gettin’ a
play this time. Next time
you’re on your own. Say a
hundred Hail Marys and sin
no more.

Slams his locker shut and moves away.

INT.GOLDEN GATE LOUNGE. NIGHT.

SALSA blasts and COUPLES WHIRL on a strobed dance floor. The rest of the joint is dark as a cave. Conti finds his way to the bar where Sandra is waiting. He notices the low cut cocktail dress.

        CONTI
Didn’t think you’d make it.

        SANDRA
My friend Mimi brought me.
She’s a regular.

        CONTI
You changed into something
less comfortable.

        SANDRA
I got a closet full of
dresses I haven’t worn in
years.

        CONTI
Where’s your friend?

Sandra points to a WOMAN in jeans and a halter top doing a wicked mambo on the dance floor.

        SANDRA
She’s in a bad marriage. Her
husband beats her up.

        CONTI
Maybe he’s pissed because she
hangs out here. In this joint
people meet to cheat.

        SANDRA
And you wear your ring so
they’ll think you’re still
married.

        CONTI
Some people only get off when
they’re gettin’ over. Why
spoil their fun? Not a
drinker, huh?

        SANDRA
Hate the taste.

        CONTI
Have a Velvet Hammer. Creme
de cocoa, Cointreau and heavy
cream, tastes like a smoothie.

        SANDRA
God,the drinks, the line.
You’ve got this down to a
science.

        CONTI
More like a ritual. But with
you it’s a little different.

        SANDRA
Yeah, right

        CONTI
Really. There’s this paradox.
I was happy to see you, but
surprised you came. I want to
seduce you, but I want it to
mean something. Don’t believe
me, do you?

        SANDRA
Does it matter?
(to the bartender)
I’ll have a Velvet Hammer.

Next: Act 2 Con’t

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

Movie You Will Never See/Coney Island Bluefish/Part 4

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to April 4.

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder,”Fort Apache, The Bronx,”Boys From Brazil”and “Cocktail.”

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH

By Heywood Gould

ACT TWO

IN BLACK..9:12:43…SIRENS, VOICES…

RADIO

Paramedics on the scene, Victim will be D.O.A. at Coney Island General…

EXT.PROJECTS.DAY.

PARAMEDICS wheel a body bag on a gurney past Sloan and Conti. Another PARAMEDIC hands them the victim’s personal effects. First, a gold chain which Sloan, wearing latex gloves, drops into a ZIPLOC BAG. Then, a wallet containing FAMILY PHOTOS.

        SLOAN
This is Barry’s. Remember he
showed us the pictures of his
grandkids when we locked him
up?

The Paramedic hands Conti a GOLD MONEY CLIP jammed with charred bills.

        CONTI
It wasn’t robbery. Got a
cause of death?

The Paramedic drops two NINE MILLIMETER SHELLS into his hand.

        SLOAN
We gotta tell his wife.

        CONTI
(walking away)
You gotta tell her. You
bucked for this.

        SLOAN
I said I knew the guy…

Arguing, they walk past FIREMEN hosing down the burnt hulk of the car. Past Putts and Bagels canvassing the neighborhood PEOPLE. Putts sees a young, muscular fireman, winding a hose.

        PUTTS
You’re Billy Lyons, Gene’s
boy.

        BILLY
That’s me.

        PUTTS
Hey Donnie… Remember Gene
Lyons?

        SLOAN
(with an awkward look)
Sure…Yeah…

        PUTTS
We worked with your dad in
Brooklyn Vice, You played for
Christ the King, right?

        BILLY
Yeah.

        PUTTS
All City tailback. Scholar-
ship to Notre Dame. Then your
ACL blew out.

        BILLY
How do you know all this?

        PUTTS
I remember everything. I’m a
walkin’ sports computer.
Still ballin’?

        BILLY
For fun. We got a pretty good
team at the firehouse..

        PUTTS
You wanna talk football, we
got it working at the
precinct. Coney Island
Bluefish.

        BILLY
We’re playin’ you next week.

        PUTTS
Yeah, we’ll go half speed on
you. You know Derek Lawkes?

        BILLY
I’ve heard of him.

        PUTTS
Ninety five plus on the
cutter. Made it to Pawtucket,
but threw his arm out. He’s
our quarterback. Third Markham?

        BILLY
He played for Xavier.

        PUTTS
He’s our linebacker. Ain’t
nobody runnin’ by him. Or
over him. Donnie here’s the
safety. Fastest white man in
captivity.

        SLOAN
Can I talk to you for a
second, Putts.

        PUTTS
I’m coachin’ and I gotta say,
in all modesty, I can prepare
this team to play against
anybody. Now if we had a
runner like you we could go
to the nationals. .

        BILLY
You gotta be a cop, right?
I’m a fireman.

        PUTTS
That’s what I don’t
understand. I mean why you
doin’ this sissy gig?.

        BILLY
I’m not into gunplay and
beatin’ on people.

        PUTTS
Ninety five per cent of this
job is community relations,
right Donnie?

        SLOAN
It can get hairy now and then.

        PUTTS
I ain’t pulled my gun in such
a long time I got spider webs
in my holster. Anyway, I would
think you’d wanna be a cop.
Follow the family tradition…

        BILLY
What tradition? My old man
got kicked off the job for
shakin’ down hookers.
(walks away)
Input that into your computer…
Coach.

 Putts watches thunderstruck as Sloan shakes his head.

        SLOAN
That’s what I wanted to tell
you.

IN BLACK…10:58:02

        RADIO
…Pick up Sandra Lightner,
Barry Weiner’s niece at 1600
Seagate Avenue and bring her
to Coney Island General for
a positive identification.

 INT. HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM. DAY.

An overworked, overcrowded city hospital. Conti and Sloan sip institutional coffee. Sloan looks over a crumpled list.

        SLOAN
My family gives me a shopping
list every morning before I
leave. Mozzarella from
Fanelli’s Salumeria because
Corinne won’t make eggplant
parmigian’ with the
supermarket cheese.

        CONTI
You can take the girl outta
Brooklyn.

        SLOAN
But you can’t take the
Brooklyn outta the girl, I
know. I gotta go to
Beckstein’s Hardware because
no store in Tarrytown has a
number eleven gill nut.
Ashley needs a blouse, they
call a hoochie top. Brian
wants a Hamsen high speed
modem. Don’t have it in the
mall, so I gotta go to
Bazarov the computer maven

        CONTI
All his stuff is swag.

        SLOAN
At least he knows what to
steal. Why’d I move to the
suburbs in the first place?

        CONTI
Fresh air, green grass and
good schools you said. But
you know why you really did
it? You got a martyr complex.
You’re not happy unless
you’re miserable.

        SLOAN
Please. I don’t need the king
of the psychos, analyzing me.

        CONTI
Hey I may be dysfunctional
but I walk to work. And I got
the best mozarell’ in the
world right around the
corner… This Ms. Lightner?

SANDRA LIGHTNER

early thirties, a voluptuous, vulnerable brunette is walking in with two PATROLMEN.

CONTI jumps up.

        CONTI (cont’d)
I’ll take her. You deal with
the Uzbekis.

        SLOAN
Thanks, pal..

        CONTI
It’s your geographical
specialty.

And approaches Sandra, waving the cops away.

        CONTI (cont’d)
Ms. Lightner? I’m Detective
Conti. You don’t have to put
yourself through this. Your
aunt has already identified
Mr. Weiner’s effects.

        SANDRA
I can handle it, I’m a dental
hygienist.

        CONTI
With all due respect, you
won’t see this in a dentist’s
chair. This way.

He walks her across the room past:

SLOAN who is consulting with a DOCTOR.

        DOCTOR
She’s got a pretty bad
concussion. Broken nose,
bruises on upper torso and
legs. Ring marks…She’s
under sedation…

        SLOAN
Was she raped?

        DOCTOR
She wouldn’t let us examine
her. Her father and brothers
are goin’ crazy like we’re
performing experiments on
her.

        SLOAN
I’ll talk to them.

He walks across the room toward Shamil who is sitting head in hands, while his sons ADAN and BASHIR pace impatiently.

        SLOAN (CONT’D)
Mr.Akhmadov, I’m Detective
Sloan…

        ADAN
(jumps at him)
Why won’t they tell us about
my sister?

        BASHIR
We have to know what
happened.

        SLOAN
We have no medical
information.

        BASHIR
You are police. Find out.

        SLOAN
We will. Right now I need you
to sit down, calm down and
answer some questions.

The boys glare. Shamil mutters a command. They sit.

INT. MORGUE.DAY.

SHROUDED BODIES on stretchers. Sandra shivers. Conti looks over appreciatively.

        CONTI
Separated, huh?

        SANDRA
Why do you say that?

        CONTI
Your ring finger. Got a
little white spot where the
wedding band was.

        SANDRA
Good deduction. But wrong. I
threw the ring in my
husband’s face last night.
(points to his finger)
You’re still married.

        CONTI
Separated.

        SANDRA
Why do you wear the ring, to
keep the women away?

        CONTI
The opposite. Something about
married men. Forbidden fruit.
Attracts women.

        SANDRA
Only sluts and homewreckers.

        CONTI
Well, there’s plenty of them
around to keep me occupied.
Although I do like nice,
normal women. Wanna go for a
drink tonight?

The Attendant enters wheeling a stretcher.

        SANDRA
You’re flirting in a morgue?

        CONTI
Just tryin’ to connect. Here
we are.

Conti removes the white sheet. Sandra recoils at the sight.

        SANDRA
My Uncle Barry, the bookie.
I guess if you break the law
you have to expect this.

        CONTI
Happens to honest people,
too. Can happen to anybody.

        SANDRA
That’s a comforting thought.

Next: Act 2 Con’t

CONEY ISLAND BLUEFISH By Heywood Gould

I pitched a show about how cops deal with the new ethnically diverse New York.

The executives looked up from their blackberries…

Thought Coney Island–home to refugees from the former Soviet Empire a burgeoning Mexican population, Indians, Pakistanis, Hasidim, not to mention retired garment workers, Mafia holdouts, yuppies, hipsters and health nuts who want to be by the sea–would be a good arena.

The executives leaned forward in their chairs—a good sign.

Police precincts field sports teams that play other city departments and go to a state championship every year.

The executives had never heard of that.
“Great hook,” someone said.

I wrote the script. Joy was unconfined. We were on our way.

Then it was bounced down from the “upstairs.”

The verdict:
“Is he kidding?”

Enjoy
Best,
Heywood

Our first script was EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development was a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

Click on EMPRIES OF CRIME link below for the entire script.

EMPIRES OF CRIME

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

DRAFTED/Part Two Con’t

I AM HELD HOSTAGE BY THE MOB
Part Two
ARTIE’S AMAZING STORY

One shiny suit takes my car keys. The other pokes me with a hairy finger.

“Go.”

They walk me down a dark, narrow ramp, bumping me back and forth between them. My legs buckle, my mouth goes dry. They breathe hard like they’re angry. I am sickened by the sour combo of coffee, cigarettes and Bay Rhum. Are they taking me somewhere for a beating? Or will I just get the hard smack to the back of the head I’ve seen shiny suits give guys outside Tony’s candy store on Tenth Avenue?

They knock on a steel door under a naked bulb.

“Artie, you in there…?”

From inside comes a hoarse grumble. “No, I’m ringside at the Copa.”

Another poke. “Get in there…” And they take a few steps back to make sure I enter.

It’s the embalming room. Only one table, we have four at Riverside. Our embalmers work with white coats, which are left unlaundered until they look like butchers’ aprons. The man I see squinting over a body, cigarette dangling between his lips, is wearing a frayed, gray sleeveless undershirt. He’s wiry and darkly tanned. Blood under his manicured fingernails, a gold watch rolled halfway up his tendoned arm over a tattoo of snakes and eagles and blurry letters…A pencil thin mustache, a pile of black hair, combed into a glistening pompadour.

The body has had a full autopsy –scalp peeled off to reveal the brain; skin parted along the chest cavity, from the stomach to the clavicle. He points derisively at the door. “Tough guys” he says. “They’ll split your skull with a two-by-four and eat a bowl of macaroni, but they won’t go near a deceased…”

There’s a body on a gurney in a corner. The toe tag says. “Gendelmen.”

“That must be yours,” Artie says. “We don’t get Jewish jobs.” He brushes his finger across his nose. ” Only the nice people get buried here, know what I mean?” And points to the body on the table. “Almost every job we get the cops order a full post mortem to make sure it wasn’t a homicide.”

He flips me a crumpled pack of Camels with traces of dried blood around the edges.

“Relax, you might be here for awhile. You got in the middle of a bad beef. Red Hook versus Bensonhurst.”

“But it’s only about fifteen bucks,” I say.

“Jurisdictional dispute,” he says. “Mangelli’s like a housefly on a pile of shit. He don’t know where to go first, you know what I mean?”

I don’t, but I nod anyway.

“He might be a big shot on President Street, but he’s nothin’ here, know what I mean? So now he gets caught with his hand in the wrong cookie jar. And now you’re the pawn in the game. Jungle drums are bangin’ as we speak. Everybody in Brooklyn knows what’s goin’ on and they’re watchin’ to see what he does. If he sends the fifteen bucks to bail you out it means he backed down. So now he’s callin’ people, you know important people, so they’ll call other important people to make Big John let you go.”

I light a Camel and try not to cough. Artie blows smoke through his nose without taking the cigarette out of his mouth. A long ash drops into the chest cavity of the body on the table.

“The big shots live for this kinda shit,” he says. “They got nothin’ better to do, but sit around watchin’ the money roll in. So now they’ll get all jazzed up talkin’ back and forth. They might even have a special sit down about it. Give ‘em an excuse to go eat spaghetti. Get treated like big shots at some joint downtown. This could take all night. “

Once, on my first day in a new school, three kids pushed me into a clothes closet, laughing as I thrashed desperately in the darkness. I have that same feeling now.

“How old are you kid?” Artie asks.

“Nineteen.”

“Get your draft notice?”

“I gotta go for my physical.”

Artie scoops up a handful of viscera and drops it in a cellophane bag. “Don’t tell ‘em you worked in the business. They’ll put you in Graves Registration and you’ll never get out.”

A phone rings. He jabs an extension button and answers. Looks at me.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says.

He hangs up. “What was I talkin’ about?”

“Graves registration,” I say.

“Oh yeah, you wanna hear what happened to me?” He continues before I can answer. “It’s ’41, I’m lookin’ for pussy. I’m a smart guy, don’t shit where I eat. So I go to a dance outta the neighborhood in Prospect Hall. Pick up a little guinea broad, Caroline…Hot to trot, you can tell by the way they sock it into you when you’re dancin’. Coupla slow Foxtrots and we’re in the back seat of my brother’s Plymouth. Coupla months later three guys show up at my uncle’s place where I’m serving my apprenticeship—Sabbatino and Sons, ten funerals a year, he’s gonna make me a partner, I’m set for life…Caroline’s knocked up, they tell me. Not by me I say, I used a bag. Bang! they smack me. You callin’ my sister a hooer?”

Artie is talking fast in a whisper, as if he wants to get the story told before someone catches him.

“So my uncle brings me here to Big John— not this one, his father. Don’t worry, I know the family, he tells me. It’ll cost you a coupla dollars. And you oughta get outta the neighborhood for a while. Join the Army. By the time you come back everything will be blown over.

“You gotta do what these guys tellya so I enlist. They send me to Governor’s Island. I set up a morgue. It’s a picnic. I don’t even embalm, just ship bodies back to their home states. I’m home for Sunday dinner every week…

“Then guess what happens?” He smacks himself in the forehead. “Pearl Harbor. The war, you believe this? So guess what: they got plenty of guys to shoot rifles, plenty to type orders or drive trucks. But what they don’t have is enough undertakers to take care of the bodies that are pilin’ up all over the place.

“See, these generals, they’re like the big shots around here. They sit around drinkin’ highballs in the Officer’s Club for twenty years and all of a sudden there’s a war and they come up with ideas. Like now they gotta have a clean battlefield. It’s bad for morale to see bodies lyin’ around. And that means work for me…”

The phone rings again. Artie picks it up. “Yeah, yeah, okay.” He hangs up and lights a another Camel.

“I was in every theater, kid. Startin’ in Morocco where we had to dig bodies outta the sand…In combat you gotta bury guys where they fall…We’re duckin’ ordnance in the desert Messerschmitts doublin’ back to strafe the field…Then we went across to Sicily. General Bradley used to check to make sure the battlefield was clean, you believe that. We had to bury the Krauts, too…Some days we had to duck into the graves with the bodies when they counter-attacked…Gotta pick up the guy’s tags, plus any personal items he might have. Make a note of tattoos or scars or any identifying marks…That’s where I got the tattoo…See this? AFGRREG. Know what it stands for? Artie Fiore Graves Registration. So just in case they blew my head off they would know who I was and could send my wallet home to my mother…

“They sent us into England and we thought our war was over, see, after all that time in combat. Instead, we go over on D-day and hit the beach a few hours after the landing. Corpses floatin’ in the water—everywhere. We take fire but we get the beach cleaned hours after we hit. Did we get a medal, did we even get a commendation? Nothin’…See, they didn’t want to remind the homefront that people were dyin’ over there. They made these little films they showed in the theaters about every thing the Army did. But nothin’ about Graves Reg…”

The phone rings again.

“Yeah, yeah,” Artie says. “C’mon kid, that little prick Mangelli folded and sent the money.”

Artie puts a sheet over the body. He slips into a white-on-white shirt hanging over the door. Ties a fat Windsor knot in a shiny silver and green tie. “Take your body, kid.”

He guides me through a dark maze to the garage, lighting one Camel off another, talking even faster.

“’45, VE Day. War’s over right? But not for me. They keep us in to set up morgues in Japan for the Occupation. Then, in ’46 when I think I’m finally gonna get my discharge they come in with this shit detail: MacArthur wants to find the remains of the guys who died on the Bataan Death march. We been handpicked because we got so much experience. So we get rewarded with flies, and crud and fireshits for another three months. That’s what they do. They take the best guys and they run ‘em ragged. Like recyclin’ guys back to the front to break the rookies in. See, you can’t let ‘em know you’re good at anything…”

He watches as I horse the body bag into the back seat of station wagon.

“October ’46, I’m out. I had more than five years in. I come back here and they do me a big favor. Gimme a job in this joint. Same thing. They know I’m good so they abuse me. Let’s get your keys…”

In the office the big guy with glasses on his bald, yellow head, hands me an envelope.

“Give this invoice to Mr. Mangelli…”

A silver suit flips me the car keys. Another needles Artie.

“Hey fruitcake, where you goin’ all dressed up?”

Artie winks at me like he knew this was coming. “I’m goin’ to your mother’s house for dinner…” He waves the cellophane bag of guts in the guy’s face. “I’m bringin’ the tripa…”

The silver suit recoils. “You sick bastard. Get back in your hole…”

Artie laughs. “Everybody’s a tough guy…”

He turns to me.

“Remember what I tole you, kid. Don’t tell ‘em nothin. Don’t tell nobody nothin’.”

NEXT: MY FIRST PHYSICAL

 

DRAFTED/Part Two

I AM HELD HOSTAGE BY THE MOB

 

It’s 1962. Uncle Sam has been threatening me with fines and imprisonment if I don’t report for my Army physical. Now he suddenly grants me a reprieve. I get a letter from the Selective Service Agency postponing my examination for sixty days.

“The System rules by caprice,” explains Morris Krieger, the Anarchist sage of Union Square Park. “It maintains power by keeping the people in a constant state of anxious uncertainty…”

Willie Mangelli, night manager at Riverside Memorial Chapel on Park Circle in Brooklyn, has a different take.

“You moved to Little Italy, right? All them big shots down there are bribin’ the Draft Board to keep their kids outta the Army. They gotta juggle the exams to make sure they got enough people comin’ in so it won’t look suspicious.”

Willie is a big shot himself. He has a “Hialeah tan,” wears a silver suit that almost glows in the dark and lights his cigars with a gold Dunhill. He’s not a licensed funeral director, but he’s the business agent of the limo driver’s local and the rumor is the owners gave him the job to avoid a strike.

“He’s gotta have some income to show the Government,” a driver tells me proudly. “He’ll be outta here as soon as his accountant tells him the coast is clear.”

Morris is a retired baker, whose union pension after thirty-seven years is $42 a month. He’s saving up from his Social Security to get his hernia fixed. “The Revolution is only a lifetime away,” he tells me and proudly quotes Emma Goldman:

“Anarchism stands for direct action, open defiance of and resistance to all laws and restrictions, economic, social and moral.”

Willie turns the chapel into his private criminal enterprise. In the morgue he buys “swag” watches and jewelry from furtive men in windbreakers. Out in the parking lot he sells the swag to men in Cadillacs who squint at his “goods” through jewelers glasses, pass him envelopes and drive away.

Willie runs a “Bankers and Brokers” card game in the garage. The “broker,” the player, has to beat the “banker’s” card–ties go to the banker. It’s quick and simple and fifty-one people can play. The deck is reshuffled and recut after every hand. Spiro, the “banker” crimps the deck so he can always cut himself a high card and raise Willie’s winning percentage.

Morris claims he takes his credo from “the great theorist Max Stirner” who wrote:

Whoever knows how to take and defend the thing, to him belongs the property.

He sells Anarchist books from a bridge table in Union Square. “Two dollars,” he says, but quickly adds, “or anything you can contribute.” And gives half his inventory free to people who plead poverty.

Morris and Mildred, mother of his two children lived for thirty years in “natural law,” he says. But they had to get married in order to make Mildred his beneficiary. “The state made sinners out of us,” Morris says and quotes “the great thinker” Prince Peter Kropotkin.

“Why should I follow the principles of this hypocritical morality?”

One night we are shorthanded and Willie has to come out on a “removal” with me. He throws me the keys–”you drive”–and grumbles “I can’t believe they got me workin’.”

We go to a tenement on Blake Avenue in Brownsville and walk up four steep flights of creaking steps. In a fetid bedroom an obese young woman is sprawled face down on the floor, her nightdress hiked up over huge, mottled thighs.

“She’s a fuckin’ whale,” Willie mutters.

“Why couldn’t it have been me?” her mother cries.

Willie puffs furiously on his cigar. “Stinks in here. Open a windah.”

He curses as we wrestle the corpse into a body bag.

“You take the head,” he tells me as we steer the gurney through the narrow doorway onto the landing.

“Drop your end, we’ll catch the express,” he says.

He kicks the gurney down the steps. It bounces and rattles and tips over. A swollen purplish, foot flops out of the body bag. A man pops out of his doorway.

“Have you no respect for the dead?”

“You wanna give us a hand, Rabbi?” Willie says.

The man steps back into his apartment.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Willie says.

Morris has scars where he was beaten by gangsters and cops. He quotes Max Stirner: “One goes further with a handful of might than with a bag full of right.”

It’s a busy week. A mysterious blight is killing the chickens in Connecticut and New Jersey. The chicken farmers are killing themselves in Brooklyn.

A fifteen year old boy is found hanging in his shower, girlie magazines strewn on the floor. It’s called a suicide, but the Medical Examiner says the kid was probably choking himself to enlarge his erection.

We can’t leave bodies laying in their homes so we hire other undertakers to move them for us and then we pick them up at their parlors. Willie pays fifteen dollars for a “pick up” and takes a three dollar kickback for himself.

I hear him on the phone.

“I get the three beans from you or I get it from somebody else.”

Willie likes to pay with exact change, but he only has a twenty. “Be sure you get eight bucks back,” he tells me. “Five bucks change and three commission.”

I go to the T……….a Funeral Parlor on Avenue U. Two men in the same shiny suits that Willie wears are sitting in the lobby.

“I’m here to pick up a body,” I say.

They take me to a tiny, windowless office where a large, man with horn-rimmed glasses perched on a jaundice-yellow scalp, gives me a baleful look.

“It’s been two hours. What took you?”

“We’re busy,” I say. “Seventeen funerals…”

“Seventeen? You givin’ away toasters down there?”

I hand him a twenty.

“You’re short,” he says.

“It’s fifteen dollars for a pick up,” I say and invoke the magic name. “Mr. Mangelli arranged it.”

“Mr. Mangelli gave the wrong price to my night man,” the large bald man says.

The two men in the silver suits push into the room behind me and close the door.

The large bald man shoves the phone at me. “Get Mr. Mangelli on the phone.”

They find Willie at the bar of the bowling alley across the street.

He answers gruffly: “Whaddya want?”

The bald man snaps the phone out of my hand. “Gimme that…” And growls: “Know who this is jerkoff? Think I don’t know what you’re doin’? You’re payin’ fifteen and puttin’ in a thirty-five dollars expense chit. You think you’re gonna make twenty bucks off me, you fuckin’ little chiseler?”

I am shocked to hear someone call Willie Mangelli a “fuckin’ little chiseler.”

There is a muffled tirade at the other end.

“I’m holdin’ your body, your wagon and your guy,” the large bald man says. “Send the fifteen bucks up here and I’ll let ‘em go.”

Another tirade.

“Call anybody you want,” the large bald man says. “Call the fuckin’ pope…”

I feel a hard hand on my arm.

“Take him downstairs,” the large bald man says.”Let Artie the fruitcake babysit him.”

NEXT: ARTIE’S AMAZING STORY

DRAFTED/Part One

I AM STALKED BY UNCLE SAM

It’s 1962 and the State is closing in on me.

A few months after my eighteenth birthday I get a letter from the Selective Service Agency, enclosing a draft card, registering me for military service, with the command: “You must carry this on your person at all times.”

To me it’s just a drinking license. I don’t need phony “proof ” anymore. I can walk into any saloon head held high.

A month later I get an ” Order to Report for Armed Services Physical Examination” where “it will be determined if you qualify for military service.”

I’m a student and get an automatic “2-S” deferment.

Six months into my freshman year at Brooklyn College I drop out and go to Paris to write the Great American Novel. When I return, having barely managed to write a few postcards begging my parents for money, there is another “Order to Report.”

I complain to my mother. “They didn’t tell me they were canceling my deferment.”

“What did you expect, a personal letter from the President?” she says.

There is also a notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles, stating that I owe $300 in outstanding parking tickets.

And a letter from the State Board of Regents demanding that I repay my $800 scholarship because I didn’t complete a year in college.

“If you don’t pay they’ll hound you for the rest of your life,” my mother warns. “You can’t get away from them.”

But I’m convinced they will never find me. My sub basement on Barrow Street in Greenwich Village is an illegal residence so I have no lease. I pay the super $53 cash a month and $15 extra to use his phone and hook up to his electricity. I’m making $90 a week, $110 with overtime so I’m rich. I have no bank account. Willie, the shylock at the Park Circle Lanes bowling alley cashes my paychecks from the Riverside Memorial ChapeI. My chauffeur’s license has my old home address and a teenage photo of me, but I look completely different now–long hair, Fu Manchu mustache…

“There is no record of me anywhere,” I brag to Naomi Krieger as I follow her around Union Square Park. ” I don ‘t exist.”

“That’s very existential,” she says.

Union Square is a meeting place for radicals of every stripe and Naomi is its temptress. While orators mount benches and makeshift podia to harangue passersby with predictions of doom, indictments of America and fervent espousals of their one true cause, she glides through the crowd, handing out Anarchist leaflets. She has a mountain of brown hair, rimless glasses, fierce black eyes and moves with lissome grace. “Revolution is accelerated evolution,” she chants. “Force is the weapon of the weak…”

I join the ranks of the smitten, who follow Naomi on her rounds, hoping to get her attention. Some try to show their erudition, but she knows more about Marx and Engels and the Second International and the flaws in Dialectical Materialism than any of them.

Others try flattery. “You are the avatar of Vera Figner,” a bearded East European gushes, invoking the Russian who helped assassinate Tsar Alexander II.

She laughs. “Do you mean I’m the mythic device of an oppressive religion? The incarnation of a woman who devoted herself to a corrupt ideology which she repudiated later in life…? Thanks a lot…”

She is airy, unapproachable. Trotsky’s implacable intellect on Audrey Hepburn’s body. I’m humbled and exhilarated just to be in her presence.

Then, one afternoon, she walks across the park to the bench where I am eating a Sabrett’s hot dog with “the works.”

“Have you ever read any anarchist texts?”

I am caught in mid bite and spray mustard, ketchup and onions on my Dickey carpenter pants.

“No…”

“Here…” She hands me a pile of mimeographed leaflets–ABOLISH THE WAGE SYSTEM, THE BETRAYAL OF SACCO AND VANZETTI, THE MYTH OF THE DEMOCRATIC STATE, all written by Morris Krieger.

That night I try to plow through the dense, smudgy single-spaced pages of anarchist theory. The next day she is on me like a teacher checking homework.

“Did you read the material?”

“Oh yeah…Interesting…I was always taught that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent…”

“Because you came from a Communist household, am I right? Liberals made them innocent to hide the fact they had committed the robbery as a propaganda by deed to inspire others to attack the Employer Class and overthrow the wage system…Come meet the author…” She takes my hand and leads me to a bridge table where a bald, old man with a battered fighter’s face and sleeves rolled up over brawny forearms is hectoring the crowd.

“Who protects you in this wonderful Democracy? Your government which taxes you and forces you to fight wars to enrich its oligarchs? Your boss who exploits you? Your landlord who raises your rent and cuts off your heat? Your family that extorts money and guilt with emotional blackmail…?”

The crowd enjoys baiting him. “Are you a Communist or Capitalist, Morris?” someone shouts.

Morris scoffs. “Communism, Capitalism. What does it matter who coerces you, the state or the Corporation? Krushchev and JFK are merely cult totems for the ruling class.”

“But they are enemies.”

“They are collaborators,” Morris corrects. “The Cold War is window dressing. Authoritarian systems secretly cooperate to oppress their subjects. The Hungarian Revolt, the Bay of Pigs were planned to fail. The CIA conceived them, funded them and then aborted them…”

“Our Lord Jesus will judge us,” a wild-eyed man shouts.

“Your Lord Jesus said ‘render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,’ Morris says. “He was just the first Capitalist propagandist.”

The crowd laughs and wanders away to seek amusement at another bench.

Naomi smiles proudly. “He’s brilliant. Makes you see things in a new way.”

“Morris Krieger,” I say. ‘Is he your grandfather?”

“He’s the father of my mother, according to Mildred, her mother,” Naomi says. “But since bourgeois morality forces women to lie about their sensuality who can really say and does it matter?”

“It doesn’t matter at all,” I say, eager to agree with anything.

Morris calls us over. “Naomi, bring your friend…So young man, is your father a party member?”

“Democratic party.” I say.

“FDR was an admirer of Mussolini, did you know that? Joe Kennedy, the President’s dad, loved Hitler.” He points to a livid scar above his eyebrow. “Lepke’s goons gave me this, the day the gangsters took over Local One of the Bakery Workers. The same day Hitler was selling out to Krupp and Stalin was starving the Ukrainians. And that Democratic Party stooge Sidney Hillman was having tea with Eleanor Roosevelt…”

I turn to Naomi. “Who’s Sidney Hillman?”

Morris shoves a pile of books in my chest. “We strive for the administration of things, not people. Educate yourself. Free your mind…”

“They’re heavy,” Naomi says. “I’ll help you carry them.”

I fly the two city miles to Barrow Street, borne by Naomi’s relentless rhetoric. The wind is on my face. The world races by as if seen from a passing train.

Naomi feels her way down the metal stairs to my pitch black sub basement.

“This is a magic place,” she says. “You could plot great deeds here…”

She brushes my hand away from her shoulder.

” Do you have to play the chivalrous rapist?”

She pushes me down on my unmade bed and presses her cool, dry lips against my neck.

“Can you imagine yourself a female?” she whispers in my ear. “Welcoming…? Receiving…?”

I can. No problem.

In the morning Naomi scours the food-crusted pots on my stove, washes my underwear in the shower and makes me get out of bed so she can soak my sheets in the super’s work sink.

“Don’t confuse this with an atavistic domestic tendency,” she says, merrily. “I clean because it gives me pleasure. I am not a slave of a peer-controlled feminist ideology.”

In the afternoon I plow through the Anarchist texts, scribbling statements I’ll be able to quote to Naomi.

Bakunin: “I am truly free only when all men and women are equally free.”

Stirner: “Society is a chimera. Individuals are the only reality.”

Kropotkin: “America shows how all the written guarantees for freedom are no protection against tyranny and oppression. In America the politician has come to be looked on as the very scum of society.”

True enough, but I’ll be able to tell her what I’ve observed on the streets of Brooklyn: Only the thieves and hustlers who live outside the law are truly free. I will impress her with my knowledge of the real world.

I run to Union Square. Morris is at his bridge table, offering the same books, the same replies to the same jibes.

“Naomi’s back at school,” he tells me.

“School?”

“Sarah Lawrence. She was just here for her vacation. She’s leaving next week for Paris for her junior year abroad to study French Literature.” Morris smiles proudly and I see the family resemblance. “She’s got a full scholarship.”

I go to Whitey’s Bar on Sixth Avenue. Nobody asks me for “proof.”

Next morning there are four envelopes on the steps outside my door.

One from the Division of Motor Vehicles stating that a warrant will be issued for my arrest if I do not pay what has now grown to $425 in parking tickets.

Another from the Board of Regents that “Collection Procedures will be initiated” if I don’t repay my $800.

Something from the NY State Department of Taxation that I am “delinquent” in submitting my return.

And a notice of “Failure to Report…” from Selective Service, warning that I face “imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of $10,000″ if I do not appear for a physical on the specified date.

My cover is blown. Someone has informed on me.

I call home and my mother confesses:

“I gave them your new address.”

“You?”

“The letters were piling up,” she says. “All these official envelopes. You could get into trouble.”

“But I am in trouble now that they found me,” I say.

“What are you going to do, hide like a mole in that cave?”

“At least I’d be free,” I say.

“Free? Who’s free? Free to be what? A bum?”

“You betrayed me…My own mother betrayed me…”

I hear my father’s voice. “What’s he yelling about?”

And my mother’s muffled reply. “He’s very upset…Sounds like he’s crying.”

NEXT: I AM HELD HOSTAGE BY THE MOB

MY CAREER AS A PETTY THIEF/PART NINE/Part Two

It’s 1961 and I’m living in a theocracy that brutally stifles dissent–Greenwich Village.

In Brooklyn, the backwater of my birth, people disagree violently– and coexist grudgingly. But across the Brooklyn Bridge the local Bohos enforce a rigid cultic orthodoxy.

The politics are easy enough to master. You’re safe anywhere from JFK to Joe Stalin with side trips to Trotsky and the brand new hero of the world revolution, Che Guevara. A Republican can’t even get in as comic relief.

The culture is more complicated. The Pantheon changes daily, new names added and subtracted. The criteria are what you read, wear, watch and listen to, who you know, what you’ve done or what you will do. In all of these I am judged and found wanting.

One night everyone is rushing to the NYU Student Center. I trail along, trying to impress Amelia, a poet with long, tawny hair–tall, broad-shouldered, wearing nothing under her granny dress. “You remind me of a lioness on the prowl,” I say, trying to be poetic. She gives me the arched eyebrow of disdain. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

A skinny kid with frizzy hair and an annoying nasal voice is singing Corinna Corinna.

I like Joe Turner’s version better,” I say, playing the purist card.

“Dylan is singing it the way it was originally written,” says a kid who’s famous for his collection of .45′s. “Joe Turner was just doing a Rhythm and Blues cover.”

A week or two later I’m in a crowd in the Art Theatre on Eighth Street watching Godard’s latest, A Woman Is A Woman.

It looks like they’re trying to do a Gene Kelly movie, but they can’t sing or dance,” I say loudly to impress the lioness.

“It’s not a conventional musical,” a fat kid corrects. “It’s an interrogation of the musical form.”

“It’s neo realism set to music,” someone else says.

This is the year of Kahlil Gibran, of smoking pot and trancing out to Wanda Landowska playing Bach on the harpsichord. Everybody’s carrying Franny and Zooey. I brandish Sons and Lovers. In secret I read best sellers, The Carpetbaggers, The Agony and the Ecstasy.

I try for the right note, but keep hitting clinkers.

Dave Brubeck?

Wrong…” Miles Davis says he doesn’t swing…”

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers?

Clunk. “Cold War propaganda, designed to cause an anti-communist panic.”

Old Man And the Sea?

Clang..”Patronizing, stilted…Hemingway blaming the world for his flagging powers…”

I walk the streets looking for celebrities. Here’s a face I think I’ve seen on a jacket cover. Wasn’t that guy in West Side Story? That little bald guy could be e.e. cummings. Or Yul Brynner. A couple on Sixth Avenue–tall, hunched guy with a tiny chattering lady. “That’s Edward Hopper,” somebody says.

I stand outside the San Remo Bar on MacDougall and Bleecker, watching the Boho nobility, the men laughing and waving drinks, the women intense and attentive.

Sports give me partial cachet. On weekends handball is the hot item at the playground on Waverly Place. Played at top speed with a hard black ball, it’s my game. In Coney Island the old pros ran me ragged, but in the Village I’m a star. I hook up with a Puerto Rican kid named Benny and we hold the court as a doubles team for hours. On the hot days we roll our pants up over our knees and take our shirts off. The other guys have tapered waists, tendoned biceps and muscles rippling on their backs. I’m stoop-shouldered and you can count my ribs, but I play with vengeful arrogance and no one can beat me. The “parkies” hook up a hose and we run cold water over our heads. The lioness and her friends walk by swinging their shopping bags and stop to watch us through the fence. We shout and play harder. Lust swirls like summer dust.

On my way home from work one night I pass Benny and the lioness, making out on a bench in a dark park off Sixth Avenue. He jumps up. “Hey, man, wanna go to a party? Where’s the party at Ammie?”

She glares. “It’s at James Baldwin’s. For his new book.”

Baldwin is an angry, eloquent black writer, author of The Fire Next Time. I’ve been reading his essays. I’ve taped one of his quotes to my typewriter. “I am what time and circumstance and history have made me, but I am also more than that. So are we all.” I want to tell him how much that means to me.

” I don’t want to bring a lot of strange people,” Amelia says.

“He’s my boy,” Benny says and grabs my arm. “C’mon, man, it’s cool,”

Benny has to reach up to get his arm around Amelia’s shoulders. He ignores her and talks to me about the handball players and do I want to play in the money games on Essex Street on the Lower East Side? She is docile and quiet, a far cry from the oracle whose poetry intimidates and whose pronouncements settle all disputes.

“Why are you wearing that suit?” Amelia asks me.

“I work in a funeral parlor,” I say and– anticipating her scornful disbelief–”I really do…”

On Horatio Street the party crowd has spilled onto the street. James Baldwin lives up a narrow flight of rickety stairs. We squeeze past the people coming downstairs and push through the crowd in the hallway into a cramped apartment . There are more black faces than usual, but otherwise it’s the same people, nose to nose, shouting in each other’s faces. A Charley Parker record is tinkling somewhere. The walls are lined with bookshelves.

“Look at all the books he has,” I say.

“Makes sense, he’s a writer,” Amelia sniffs.

She puts a jug of Almaden Red on a bridge table. I try to follow her and Benny, but the crowd keeps closing around them.

A kinky-haired man with curling nose hairs and thick moist lips puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Just coming from a wake?”

“I work in a funeral parlor,” I say.

“Really…” He clutches my sleeve. “There’s something I’ve always wanted to know. What do they so with all the blood they pump out of the people?”

“Nothing,” I say.

In a corner James Baldwin is trying to pour vodka into a dixie cup and hold a cigarette at the same time. He’s a small man with a large head and bulging eyes.

Benny turns and giggles. “Cat looks like a fly, man…”

Benny’s eyes are red. He’s stoned. So is Amelia, but the weed has just made her obsessive. She towers over Baldwin. “Congratulations on the book, Mr. Baldwin…”

“Thanks, uh…”

“Amelia, from the Hudson Church Poetry Project? We met at the benefit?”

“Oh yes…” He gives me a quick look, dismisses me, and turns to Benny. “Are you a poet, too?”

Amelia slides over between us with a don’t try to talk to him look. I step away, starting to sweat in my woolen suit. I see a thick hardcover book–The Most of S.J. Perelman. I’ve seen that name as a screenwriter on a Marx Brothers movie. I read the inscription: “To Jimmy/Humbly/ Sid…” In a minute I’m shaking with repressed hilarity. This is a revelation. The way Perelman uses language, the mixture of puns, Yiddishisms and esoteric references. I had no idea that prose on a page could be so funny. I have to have this book. I jam it down the back of my pants.

Nose Hair heads me off at the door. “Can I ply you with alcohol? In vino veritas?

He gives me a Dixie Cup full of sour white wine. “Seriously,” he says. “What do they do with the blood?”

I try to slide by him, anxious to get home and continue reading. “They let it drain out into the sewers.”

“Blood in the sewers,” he says. “The blood of the city’s dead…”

“And shit and piss, too,” I say.

“You’re a hardboiled realist, I see…” He puts his arm around me and feels the book.

“Is this a gun?”

” What do you think i?”

Now he’s intrigued. “I knew you weren’t an undertaker… You’re a cop, aren’t you?”

I give him the Bogey hard look. “What do you think…?”

He steps back, hands in the air. “Don’t shoot I’ll come quietly…” And shouts: “Everybody hide your drugs. the cruise is canceled. The polizei have landed…”

All eyes are on me. Astonished looks. The crowd parts to let me through.

“A cop…”

Across the room I see Amelia’s startled face.

Behind me, somebody giggles.

“You believe Amelia brought a cop to Jimmy’s party…?”

NEXT: I BURGLE BOOKS ON PARK AVENUE

 

MY CAREER AS A PETTY THIEF/PART EIGHT/Part Two

I GET AN EDGE
PART TWO
MY “INVISIBLE ANGEL.”

 

It’s 1961. I’m 18 and I’ve peaked. Playing on the freshman basketball team I try everything to increase my vertical leap. Deep knee bends, stairway sprints, hops and skips, leg presses–nothing works. I still can’t get more than three fingers over the rim from a standing jump.

We fool around in bio lab, flicking the organs of a dissected fetal pig at the girls, who squeal obligingly. This enrages the professor. “Laugh while you can, boys,” he says, “because after the age of seventeen the male goes into rapid sexual decline. In her early thirties when the female has reached the height of her estral excitability you will be unable to satisfy her. You will be like the impotent chimps banished into the jungle by the younger males.” I bluster out of class, but am secretly haunted by the vision of females poised on their haunches while I scuttle, hunched, hairy and flaccid into Prospect Park, pursued by screeching studs.

And there is now a new frustration in my life: I cannot get better at chess. After a few months of rapid improvement I’ve hit the wall. Every night I challenge the players one or two levels above me and am humiliated.

Chess players browbeat and insult their opponents. It’s part of the game and anything goes. “You’re not even mediocre,” a bald DA named Jack shouts at me, slamming down the winning move.

An intern named Serge who comes up from Beekman Hospital in surgical blues screams in mock pain: “You are torturing me with your ignorance.” And traps my Queen.

Joe the Russian sticks a stubby yellowed finger in my face. “Don’t you see the train speeding down on you, patzer? You have no hope…”

I can think of nothing but chess. I buy more books, study more games. Each of my opponents has a favorite opening and defense. I spend hours preparing all possible responses. But still I lose.

In those pre steroid days I try caffeine and nicotine. A beatnik bongo player sells me a benzedrine inhaler for a dollar. He breaks it open and rolls the drug-soaked paper into a ball. “Eat it, man, you’ll rule the world.”

I sit at the table, a subway roaring in my brain. The drug fractures my focus. I hear every conversation around me. I look into the faces in the crowd and sense their contempt. Going home at dawn I replay the games I lost and cringe at the blunders I made. I’m so crazed I go four stations past my stop.

I am losing eight to ten dollars a night. With a net of $72 a week after taxes I’ll have to hit my secret stash. I’ve been saving that money to make my escape to Paris and literary eminence. I should stop now. Give up…But I can’t.

One night I am playing Ronald, a fat, smelly teenager who eats gooey baloney sandwiches, belches root beer and grabs the pieces with mayo-slicked fingers. Ronald is an Asberger’s hustler; I see him playing scrabble with the NYU kids at Washington Square fountain and Go with the old Asian guys from the restaurants. In a hurry to take my two dollars he plays the Queens Gambit, an opening which confounds weaker players. He moves quickly, egging me on. “C’mon, don’t prolong the misery…” After the opening moves he attacks my center. I panic. I’ve seen this variation in Alekhine vs. Capobianco, but I can’t remember the response. I decide to retreat. As I touch my Knight someone sneezes. A lanky guy with greasy shoulder length hair is standing behind Ronald. He’s a serious player. I’ve seen him at the big tables, leaning back to blow smoke rings while his opponent agonizes over a move. I’ve passed him looking away with a distracted air as an astonishing blonde in a cashmere coat clutches his sleeve, whispering urgently. He covers his mouth and shakes his head slightly.

Is it a signal? I touch another piece. He purses his lips and blinks , which I take for a “no.” There are a few more possible moves. I touch the pieces until he lowers his head, which I read as “yes.” I make the move.

Ronald jerks and scowls. I’ve stymied his plan. People mutter in admiration, a new sound to me. He makes a move. I touch a piece. My benefactor brushes his hair away from his face, which I take for a “what else?” I make the move and initiate a furious exchange which results in an even position.

Ronald does a quick calculation. It will take him another half hour to beat me,if he can, and that will cost him money. He wants to trap the other fish before they wander away.

“Okay, you got lucky,” he says. “It’s a draw…”

“That’ll be two dollars,” I say.

“It’s a push,” he says.

“A push is no gain, but a draw is a half point,” I say. The spectators, happy to take Ronald down a peg, back me up. “C’mon, a draw wins…” “Pay the man…”

There’s nothing a hustler hates more than to lose money. Ronald digs into his pocket and comes out with a crumpled dollar bill, which he throws at me. “Here’s a buck. That’s all you get.” And sneers up at the crowd of eager losers. “Next fish…”

I step away from the table. The guy turns away, which I take for a “don’t talk to me.”

At dawn he is sitting on a rail as I leave the park. He’s skinny. Blue veins run up his wrists to his shoulders. Sniffly with a big nose and bulging bloodshot eyes. He points to the book I’m carrying. “Myth of Sisyphus,” he says. “Is that for reading or impressing girls?”

“A little of both, “I say.

“How come you wear black?”

“I work at a funeral parlor in Brooklyn.”

“Only the dead know Brooklyn,” he says.

I have a feeling he’s testing me.

“Thomas Wolfe,” I say.

“I hate a hustler who can’t play,” he says. “Ronald picks on weak players. Next time we’ll clean him out.”

“Next time?”

He turns quickly down the block. “Let’s go, I don’t want anyone to see us.” As we walk he explains: “Look, you’re a B player. You’ll never get better…”

“Why not?”

“Chess is a prodigy’s game,” he says. “By the time I was five I was beating grown ups. Were you? From twenty to death there are no big jumps in skill. You just try to conserve…”

“If I’m just a B player why do you want me?” I ask.

“A B is better than 90% of the population.” He offers me a Gauloise, a noisome French cigarette that Belmondo smoked in Breathless. ” Nobody here will play me anymore so I’ll play through you. You’re good enough to win an occasional game without causing suspicion. I can get action on you in the crowd. We’ll split fifty fifty…”

“How do you know I’ll win?” I ask.

“Signals,” he says. “It’s a simple system. You can learn it in ten minutes…”

“You mean cheating?”

“What are you, a naive moralist?” he says.” Every competitive athlete, game player, politician is looking for an edge…”

“Within the rules,” I say.

“Nobody obeys the rules willingly. That’s why there are referees. Part of the skill in winning is hiding your edge.”

“I want to beat these guys on my ability,” I say.

“You’re not good enough,” he says. “At least you can get the money and the prestige…”

He senses me faltering. “Look, what if God sent an invisible angel that only you could see to stand over your shoulder and give you the moves? That would be okay wouldn’t it?”

It’s like a forced move in chess. There’s only one answer.

“I guess so.”

“Well he sent me” he says. “I am your invisible angel.”

NEXT: I STEAL SOME GLORY

 

MY CAREER AS A PETTY THIEF/PART SEVEN

I STEAL A MATCHBOOK FROM MARILYN MONROE
PART SIX
THE SECRET OF THE CRYPTIC MATCHBOOK

 

Chapels are filling. Mourners are milling. Rabbis are chafing. Patience is waning. Thoughts turn to the lox and bagels, the chopped liver and pickled herring–the rugelach and Russian coffee cake that await the bereaved at the end of this long day. But the caskets stay in the service elevator. The lockstep march of funerals has abruptly halted. Every employee of Riverside Memorial Chapels is jammed in the back room watching my interrogation.

I’m downplaying the incident, but they’ll have none of it.

“Did she scratch your wrist with her nail?” Aiello/Shmattner asks.

“Maybe accidentally,” I say. “She didn’t want to fall on the ramp…”

DeSousa/Strauss grabs my hand. “Did she gently rub your palm with her fingertip, like this? That’s the universal fuck me signal.”

I hesitate…

“He don’t remember,” says Cesario, the mobbed up chauffeur, full of contempt. “You were scared, weren’t you kid?”

“Did she ask your name first or did you tell her?” someone asks.

“She asked me first, I think,” I say.

You think?”

Albino pushes his way in, flushed and indignant. “You didn’t do what I tolya, didja?”

“I made conversation,” I say.

“Didja look in her eye and imagine her takin’ her clothes off like I tolya? Didja imagine her pullin’ that dress over head…?” He shakes his head, mourning my lost opportunity. “While you were makin’ small talk didja imagine that soft white skin, those boobs swayin’ to and fro. ‘Cause that’s part of it. You hafta send a signal. I told you that…” He addresses the crowd. “I tole him to do that…” He waves an accusing finger. “Didja leave an opening where you had a good excuse to call her? You didn’t, didja?”

My voice cracks. “It all happened so fast..”.

“Was she lookin’ at your crotch when she talked to you?” DeSousa/Strauss asks.

“I couldn’t see her eyes, she was wearing dark glasses.”

“When she bumped you in the elevator, did she rub against your pants ?” someone asks.

“I’m not sure. You know how that elevator kinda jerks when its starts…”

“Like you’re gonna be jerkin’ for the rest of your life,” Cesario says and turns on Sconzo. “See, that’s what you get for sendin’ a boy on a man’s job.”

“He won the lottery,” Sconzo says. “Besides, what makes you think she’d fall for you? She’s already had one guinea in her life–Joe Dimaggio– and kicked him out.”

I have been shunted to a corner of the back office, dismissed as the the least reliable witness to my own encounter.

Arguments break out all over the room.

First the coat:

“Dyed mink,” Albino says.

“Dyed mink is what a Jew dentist buys his wife when he’s caught cheatin’,” Rizzo says. “This is Marilyn Monroe. They give her the coat just to wear it around. It’s a ten thousand dollar sable.”

Every moment of the experience is deconstructed.

“She likes the kid,” Albino says. “I seen her lean over the balcony and take her coat off to show him her ass.”

“She was waving to the old man,” I correct timidly from exile.

“This is Marilyn fuckin’ Monroe,” Albino cries out on agony. “You think she don’t know what she’s doin’ with her ass?”

Rizzo snaps his fingers as he remembers. “Yeah! She took her coat off when she got into the car. And shook it right in his face…” He shoves me. “She likes you, whaddya arguin’?”

They grab the matchbook out of my hand.

“She dropped this for him,” Albino says.

“It fell out of her pocket,” I say.

“She dropped it on on purpose, you little putz!”

They examine it like archaeologists with a puzzling find.

“Danny’s Hideaway,” Cesario says. “That’s Dimaggio’s favorite hangout.”

“Maybe they’re gettin’ back together.”

Cesario offers more inside information. “Danny’s is a protected joint. Frank Costello said they didn’t hafta have the union…”

“Betcha she’s bangin’ Costello,” Rizzo says. “These movie stars love the tough guys. Bugsy Siegel banged Lana Turner…”

“Longie Zwillman banged Jean Harlow,” says Cesario.

“Look at this!” Rizzo says. And turns to me with a smile. “You’re in, you lucky bastard.”

It’s a phone number behind a row of unused matches. An “M” has been hastily scrawled over a number that is smudged and hard to read.

This is 1961 and all phone numbers start with letters which give an idea of the part of the city where the phone is located. This number begins with MU…

Rizzo snaps his finger again. “Murray Hill. Midtown, East Side. She lives there, right by the river…My brother-in-law dropped her off in his cab…”

Cesario grabs the matchbook. “The numbers are blurry. Like she wrote it at the bar and it dropped in a puddle or somethin’…”

Rizzo grabs it back. “If it fell in a bar puddle how come the matches are dry? She wrote it in a hurry with a ballpoint pen is what happened.” He squints hard at the number. “Can’t make out the last two digits…” He hands the book back to me. “You gotta dial every combination…You’ll get it.”

“Call her,” someone urges. It swells to a chorus.

“Call her!”

“Can’t do it cold.” Albino says. “Too obvious. It’ll put her off.”

Voices are raised in protest. “But she wants him to call,” Rizzo says.

Albino, raises a silencing hand. “I know how this is done, alright?” He’s a dwarf with a comb over and a hairy wart on his beak, but everyone accepts his authority. “You don’t wanna spook her by bein’ too anxious. You gotta have an excuse…” He leans back, eyes closed… “Go into the lost and found. Pick up somethin’ she mighta dropped like a glove. You call her. This is Heywood, from Riverside, Miss Monroe. Did you by any chance leave a glove?”

His voice gets breathy. “I think I did, she says. Then you say I can bring it over if you wish…She says, sure, why don’t you come by tomorrow afternoon?”

He’s lost in a reverie.

“Matinees are the best times,” he says. “Don’t worry about bein’ a superman. She’ll do everything…Then one day you say I need a suit for my cousin’s wedding. She slips you the cash…” He opens his eyes with a beatific smile…”You’re set…”

Rizzo pinches my cheek. “Look at the fatchim on this kid. Cheer up, you’re set.”

They were romantics with an unshakable faith in male power. But I was a timorous boy, convinced nothing momentous could ever happen to me. I never called.

When they asked I said a man kept answering.

“Some wise guy got there first, and he’s keepin’ her out of circulation,” Albino said.

I carried the matchbook around with me for a few years. I would take it out and say: “Marilyn Monroe gave this to me.”

 

MY CAREER AS A PETTY THIEF/PART SEVEN

I STEAL A MATCHBOOK FROM MARILYN MONROE
PART FIVE
I TAKE MARILYN TO THE SECRET PLACE

She’s Marilyn Monroe. But she has to go.

We have twenty funerals today. The Miller mourners have departed, leaving wisps of smoke, gum wrappers and crushed dixie cups. Now the reposing room has to be turned over. Porters are poised in the doorway with dustpans, vacuum cleaners and air fresheners. Behind them Shmattner/Aiello and Plotzstein/Celiberti have wheeled out another casket containing another freshly embalmed, cosmetized and dressed decedent. In the lobby a new bereaved family is waiting to enter the room and receive visitors.

I take a baby step toward Marilyn.

“Uh…The service is about to begin…”

She has been standing under light in the casket alcove like an actress on stage. She blinks and stares at me in utter disbelief.

“Excuse me…?”

In a life to come I will realize how presumptuous I must have seemed. Nobody tells Marilyn Monroe what to do. She is famously late and everyone waits. Directors, movie stars, studio heads, columnists–she even showed up late to sing “Happy Birthday ” to JFK.

“The service is in the main chapel,” I say. Another non-sequitur, but Marilyn understands.

“Look…I don’t want to draw attention to myself. Is there a private room or something?”

There is a small two-seat opera box overlooking the chapel. No one ever sits there. It’s used as a make out spot with the girls picked up in the bowling alley across the street.

“We have a special reserved balcony area for private viewing,” I say. “Mr. Shmattner, would you tell Mr. Squires I’m taking Miss Monroe to the special balcony,” I say.

The room is on the other side of the building, which means another trip down the service elevator through the basement. We pass the tohora room where the watcher stands over the shrouded body chanting in fervent prayer.

“Does he do this all day long?” Marilyn asks.

“He’s supposed to,” I say.

In the embalming room Krieger/Carraciola and Strauss/De Sousa are eating huge hero sandwiches, tomato sauce dripping. Behind them two cadavers raised up on the tables, seem to be staring covetously at their lunch.

A small elevator takes us to a dark vestibule on the second floor. There’s the distinct odor of stale beer and drugstore perfume. I open the door. Heads turn in the chapel below; it’s amazing how Marilyn broadcasts her presence. Everybody looks up at her, but Arthur, who stares straight ahead. I open a folding chair. Marilyn slips her coat over her shoulders. The rabbi waits until she is settled before he begins.

“I’ll be outside,” I whisper.

She doesn’t seem to hear me.

In the vestibule, Albino’s cigarette is glowing.

“She likes you,” he whispers. “See how she put her hand on your wrist? Didja make small talk like I told you?”

“I told her I was working my way through college…”

“Keep it up. Give her an opening to make a date…”

“But what can I say?”

“Tell her you wanna be an actor and can she recommend a class,” he says. “She’ll say the Actors Studio where she goes and maybe she can put in a word. Get your foot in the door. Make your breaks…Don’t be a schmuck all your life.”

The rabbi is a pro, no long eulogies. Soon, I hear the announcement: “The funeral cortege will be leaving from the back parking lot.” Marilyn is leaning over the balcony, waving to Mr. Miller. He beckons. She shakes her head and blows him a kiss. In a moment the chapel is empty. The casket is moved behind a curtain to a covered driveway where it will be loaded into the hearse. Another casket is wheeled in from behind another curtain. Flower pieces are arrayed. Shmattner/Aiello steps back to make sure the arrangement is perfect. The chapel door is opened and a new group of mourners ushered in.

“It’s like a funeral factory in here,” Marilyn says.

Is she giving me an opening?

“Twenty funerals,” is all I can reply..

She shrugs back into her coat. Does she want me to help? What if I try and she brushes me off like she did to Albino?

“Can you take me back to my car?” she asks.

“Certainly…”

We go back down in the elevator. She bumps against me? Is she making a move? Could be the air. People get woozy in funeral parlors. We get a lot of fainters.

In the basement the porters are washing an old Packard hearse. Marilyn steps gingerly through the soapy puddles and takes my wrist between her thumb and forefinger, grazing me with her nail. A little electric chill shoots through me. Did she do it on purpose? I don’t know, but she just made it onto my fantasy team.

The cortege rides alongside of us as we walk to her car. Every face in every window is turned to Marilyn. She puts on her dark glasses and speeds up, her heels clacking on the sidewalk. The chauffeur jumps out to open the door.

Some guys ride by in an Impala convertible. “We love you Marilyn,” they shout. She waves, absently in their general direction. Then turns to me.

“You’ve been very patient with me, Mr…What’s your name, anyway?”

“Heywood,” I say.

“Heywood,” she says. “Is that your mother’s maiden name or something?”

“My father named me after a famous newspaper writer, Heywood Broun,” I say.

“Well, what do they call you for short?”

I can’t believe I’ve hit a bonanza of small talk over my name.

“Woody,” I say. “I get made fun of a lot. You know Woody the Woodpecker or Hey-is-for horses…Heystacks Calhoun–he’s a wrestler. Stuff like that…”

“You poor baby,” she says. “Well, at least, no one will ever forget your name…”

The chauffeur has been holding the door during this exchange. Big guy with a booze dark face, he’d just love to step between us and give me a shove. “Is this guy botherin’ you, Miss Monroe? Take a walk, pal…” Instead, we’re having a pleasant conversation. And now he gapes as she reaches up and strokes my face. “Goodbye Heywood…”

Her fingers are warm and moist. “Goodbye, ” I say.

She shrugs out of the coat and throws it in the back seat. Her butt bobbles as she climbs into the car. In another life I’ll become an expert at spotting panty lines, but for now I’m convinced she is naked under that dress.

Something has dropped out of her coat pocket. A matchbook. I retrieve it as the car pulls away. I can call out to her, stop the car and return it. Instead, I put it in my pocket and saunter back to the chapel where everybody is clustered at the door eager to hear my story.

NEXT: THE MYSTERY OF THE CRYPTIC MATCHBOOK