Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blood or Taxes


Blood or Taxes


[CAMERA… While the credits are rolling, the camera pans across a desk. The desk is messy. On it as permanent features are: a half empty cup of black coffee, an ashtray with cigarette butts spilling over onto the desk, a baseball, a paper mache vase made by a child with plastic flowers in it, several framed pictures containing members of a family, a computer, a monitor running a screen saver, a Save the Seals button, a couple of pens, a laundry receipt, and a clear plastic candy wrapper. Photographs of the main characters of our drama are paper-clipped to folders scattered across the desk. One folder is open. The main character David Faster smiles at the camera. The page opposite is marked up in red ink.

[MUSIC… a harmonica piece in the vein of the Rockford Files plays in the background. Overheard is a taped audio message from the School Board describing Mr. Faster’s supply teaching assignment for that day.

“Mr. Faster. Today you have been assigned to St.Mare, an alternative school. You take the number 7 bus to Brink Street, transfer to the number 5A and take that to Main. Look for a number 123 and take that to Shaw Avenue. When you get off the bus walk up Shaw Avenue two blocks, make a right, walk 1 block, turn right, walk half a block, pass through McGregors Park until you get to Bell Street. Walk down Bell Street three blocks until you get to Bush Boulevaard. Turn right. You should be able to see the school from there. Or take a cab.”
[CAMERA… After the credits have appeared the screen cuts to white and then slowly copy begins to roll up the screen:
“Government has too long been left
the sole responsibility for the education
of the young people of our province.
The private sector has a role to play
in the future of our nation.
Where better to mould the minds, skills and souls
of our children than in the market place.
The future is too precious to do any less.”
Assistant to the Deputy
Minister of Education
Province of Ontario, 1995


[CAMERA… LONG SHOT… Dark wet morning just before dawn in the rolling countryside. In the valleys there are pockets of mist. The odd chirping of birds can be heard. In the distance, cattle are bawling. From the distance there is a faint sound of automobile engines. A line of cars and vans move along a curling country road. There is the sound of tires moving through mud.

CLOSE UPS of car tires wading and sliding through the muddy country road.

LONG SHOT… a startled flock of birds rise out of long grass along side the road.

MEDIUM SHOT… line of motor vehicles turns into a driveway. Cars stop at gate. Light rain. An elderly gentleman in a raincoat with a pronounced limp opens the gate. Cars move through the gate.

PAN from cars moving through gate to a large five story building in the distance.

CUT…LONG SHOT… a large dining hall where a camera crew are busy setting up their equipment. A number of nuns in habits are surveying the proceedings. A wooden chair is set up in the middle of the stark empty hall. From a side entrance, Ellen Ellery steps into the hall. She is dressed in a very dull gray dress and white blouse. She walks passed a table where she is offered a cup of coffee. She shakes her head.

CUT to title

CUT to CLOSE UP… Ellen’s face. She has no makeup on.

LONG SHOT… Ellen sitting in the wooden chair in the middle of the hall. Members of the camera crew are running around making last minute changes.

CLOSE UP… A nervous smile flickers across Ellen’s face. A few beads of sweat form on her forehead.

ELLEN: “Sometimes I have black outs. Times, places, things, people seem to disappear into a black hole inside me, lost forever. The doctors say that my amnesia is a result of my drinking, and the need to repress painful experiences. Father Mackenzie attributes my memory loss to God’s mercy.”
[CAMERA… Sudden jerk with camera so that it appears as if there has been a rough cut in the film.

ELLEN: “I remember nothing before my twenty first birthday. I know who I am. It’s down there on my library card. To me, it’s just another name out of the telephone directory. I know what high school I went to, but I don’t remember one day spent there. In my purse are pictures of my parents and my brothers and sisters. They are strangers to me. My past is everything I can collect on paper. I am the offspring of red tape. The clearest early memory I have is of staring into the deep blue eyes of David Faster and thinking how terribly ugly he is… I remember how impressed he was by my credentials. I was rather impressed myself. It was the first time either of us had heard them.”
[CAMERA… There is a break. One of the nuns has come up to whisper something in Ellen’s ear.

ELLEN: “I know that Mother Superior has volunteered my full cooperation. It is difficult for me. Since I joined the Order as a novitiate, I have had to struggle with my emotions. The whirlwind is in the thorn trees. Please forgive me. Does anyone have an aspirin?”
[CAMERA… There is an other break. During the next section there is a series of short clips to illustrate Ellen’s recollections. CUT to a CLOSE –UP of Ellen.

ELLEN: “David and I went out to dinner. I remember David making a remark about being followed. It was an odd introduction to each other.”
[CAMERA… Faster and Ellen are in a restaurant. Occasionally men pass by their table carrying briefcases. Ellen turns from Faster to the camera. Faster looks confused.

ELLEN: “Who could believe a story about being followed by men in plaid suits. That’s what he told me. Plaid suits? Where did that come from? It’s not easy eating with a paranoiac. You never know what they’re going to do with their knife. I realize now how important it is in life to pay attention to details. That’s how I found Jesus. I ran into a church to get out of a downpour.”
[CAMERA… LONG SHOT… Inside a church Ellen is wandering up the aisle.

CUT to shot of Christ on his cross.

CUT to Ellen looking up at cross.

CUT to Christ’s forehead. Dripping from the crown of thorns are beads of eyes, all looking down at Ellen.

CUT to Ellen’s forehead where a crown of thorns have been laid. Blood dips down her forehead.

CUT back to hall with Ellen sitting on her chair.

ELLEN: “What I learned was that we are all being watched. There is not a single thought, no matter how trivial, which God is not aware. We are being watched, and judged, by Him. God is the original version of Big Brother.”
[CAMERA… Ellen wipes tears from her eyes. She looks up to the ceiling.

CUT to Ellen in restaurant again. Her mouth is full. She looks down at the camera, which is shooting up at her from the floor.

ELLEN: “I’m sorry. I’m meandering. Sometimes my mind takes strolls and gets lost. We went up to David’s motel room. We talked. We smoked. We sat in these two chairs in David’s room and looked out the window.”
[CAMERA… CUT to shot from behind Faster and Ellery. Across the way from their room in another motel room, two people, still on their feet, are making love. Their curtains have not been drawn. The woman climbs up the man still standing and mounts him.

ELLEN: “David took my hand in his and squeezed it. He placed it in his lap.”
[CAMERA… CUT to Ellen composing herself in her chair. A nun has stepped in front of the camera and whispers in Ellen’s ear.

CUT to Ellen in her chair alone again.

ELLEN: “I was holding a cigarette at the time. David jumped out of his chair, dancing around and cursing. He rushed into the washroom. I passed out. The next few days are a blur. David took me out to dinner again. In his own way, David was quite kind to me. But he got on my nerves. Somehow he got it into his head that we were having a torrid affair. He was so intense and needy. After I met David, I began to have these horrible nightmares about going to the dentist. There is a blank in my memory. I recall waking up on an airplane. I saw David stepping out of the airplane and I followed him. Another blank. Next I recall being introduced to the most incredibly beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on.”
[CAMERA… CUT to a scene in a bar where Ellen is being introduced to Roberto Lancherz by David Faster. In Ellen’s eyes David has suddenly shrunk to the size of a small child.

CUT to a CLOSE UP of Lancherz. He is smiling. His teeth sparkle. This shot goes on for some time.

CUT to a scene in a restaurant where Ellen, Faster, Lancherz and his wife Maria are seated at a table. Ellen sticks her head under the table where the camera is located.

ELLEN: “My heart melted. That evening David and I, Roberto and his wife Maria went out to dinner. Maria was a tyrant. I couldn’t believe the way she talked to her husband. Later that evening I heard a knock at my hotel door.”
[CAMERA… CUT to Ellen opening her hotel door.

ELLEN: “I was exhausted and asked David to go away.”
[CAMERA… Roberto Lancherz steps inside, closing the door behind him. The two embrace. Lancherz picks up Ellen and throws her on the bed. He begins to loosen his tie.

CUT to Ellen in her chair in the hall.

ELLEN: “Roberto had an erectile dysfunction. Every evening it was the same. Each of us ripping off our clothes and Roberto unable to produce. I was so frustrated. Roberto began to use fruit from the courtesy fruit basket. I got tired of copulating with bananas and pears. It made me feel like an electric blender. I began to despise Roberto and to verbally abuse him in the same manner as I had witnessed his wife Maria abuse him. How could someone so perfect be so flawed?”
[CAMERA… CUT to scene in hotel room. Lancherz is sitting on the edge of the bed, his back to Ellen. He is crying. Ellen is sitting behind him. She is flicking the channels on the television with a remote and eating an apple. She looks at camera.

ELLEN: “I received a telegram from Paul Man. I instinctively knew he was my employer. Call it woman’s intuition. Paul said his mother was having a birthday party and I had been ordered to attend. It was a good excuse to get away from Roberto and David and Hamilton. All three were becoming dreadful bores.”


Shot of opening title:


FADE to white. CUT to the inside of an airplane. Ellen is departing. The camera follows her as if it were another passenger. She exits the plane and walks down a long hallway. The hallways exits into a large room where her bags wait at a carousel. Ellen picks up her bag and exits through a door. She notices that there are no passengers in front of her. She tries to return through the door but it is locked. She continues down the hall. She moves from hall to hall, all of which are empty. She puts her bag down and looks around. She chooses a door and opens it. She steps into a room where passengers from a flight from Amsterdam have assembled. She follows this crowd of people down another hall. The passengers line up to pass through customs.

CUT to Ellen handing an official her passport.

ELLEN: “Is there something wrong?”
1ST OFFICIAL: “Wrong, madam?”
ELLEN: “You had me worried.”
1ST OFFICIAL: “And why is that madam?”
ELLEN: “You know. Like when a cop stops your car. You automatically feel as if you’ve done something wrong even though you are quite innocent.”
1ST OFFICIAL: “Could you be more specific, madam?”
ELLEN: “It was just the tone of your voice. I got lost and…”
1ST OFFICIAL: “The tone of my voice?”
ELLEN: “I’m a little confused.”
1ST OFFICIAL: “Would madam have a driver’s license?”
ELLEN: “I don’t drive. I just never got around to it. My friends always had wheels so there didn’t seem to be any… Why are you asking me for my driver’s license? Everyone else is only being asked for their passport. I’m lucky I’ve got that on me.”
[CAMERA… The 1st Official calls a second official over to his table. They whisper something to each other. The 1st Official’s eyes keep darting over to Ellen. The 2nd Official glances Ellen’s way and shakes his head.

1ST OFFICIAL: “Madam would please follow Mr. Wallace into the next room.”
ELLEN: “Is something wrong?”
1ST OFFICIAL: “Madam would please take her suitcase into the other room with Mr. Wallace.”
[CAMERA… The camera follows Ellen who follows the 2nd Official into another room. He points to a table where Ellen puts her bag. The 2nd Official examines Ellen’s passport once again.

ELLEN: “Is there something wrong?”
2ND OFFICIAL: “Nothing to worry about, madam.”
ELLEN: “There must be something wrong or you wouldn’t have dragged me in here. Is there something wrong with my passport?”
2ND OFFICIAL: “Please open up your suitcase, madam.”
ELLEN: “I don’t see why this is necessary.”
2ND OFFICIAL: “Madam!”
[CAMERA… The 2nd Official browses through Ellen’s clothes, his fingers moving through her lingerie. He points to a package.

ELLEN: “It’s a gift. I’m going to a birthday part. It’s a plant. An African Violet. I wasn’t going to wrap it but then that would take away the element of surprise. You see I put a little hole in the wrapping paper so that I could water it.”
[CAMERA… the 2nd Official puts the package on a second table. He continues to browse through her bag.

ELLEN: “You can’t take that package. It’s a present. I can’t go to a party without…”
2ND OFFICIAL: “Madam does not appreciate the gravity of the present situation.”
ELLEN: “Situation? What situation? You said there was nothing to worry about.”
2ND OFFICIAL: “Madam, your passport has not been stamped. There is no record that you ever left the country. And you are carrying contraband across an international border.”
ELLEN: “Oh, that! You won’t believe what happened to me. You see, I never actually left Canada. This is all a terrible mistake.”
[CAMERA… The 2nd Official picks up a phone and talks to someone. Ellen reaches into her purse and takes out a package of cigarettes and begins to light one up.

2ND OFFICIAL: “Madam will extinguish the cigarette.”
[CAMERA… The 2nd Official points to a sign on the wall forbidding smoking. Ellen looks for a place to put out her cigarette and finding nothing drops the cigarette on the floor and grinds it out with her shoe. The floor is carpeted and begins to smoke. Ellen starts stamping the floor. When she has succeeded putting out the smoking carpet, a great black hole has been left in the rug. She looks apprehensively at the official who has his back turned to her. He hasn’t noticed the smoking carpet. When the official puts down the phone he smiles at Ellen but says nothing. A few moments later a 3rd Official, a large matronly woman, steps into the room.

2ND OFFICIAL: “Madam will please follow Miss Schmidt.”
ELLEN: “Have I done something wrong? I can explain everything. I can. Really.”
2ND OFFICIAL: “Madam can pick up her bags later.”
[CAMERA… Reluctantly Ellen follows the matronly Miss Schmidt into a third room. In the middle of the room is a long bench with stirrups on either side. Miss Schmidt hands Ellen a robe made out of paper.

MISS SCHMIDT: “Madam will please remove her clothes.”
ELLEN: “I will not! This is outrageous! Why on earth would I want to remove my clothes?”
MISS SCHMIDT: “If madam has nothing to hide then madam shouldn’t mind removing her clothes.”
ELLEN: “And if I refuse.”
MISS SCHMIDT: “Would madam prefer that we bring two male officials in to assist the disrobing.”
ELLEN: “But why? There has been a terrible mistake. I just arrived from Hamilton and took the wrong exit ending up with these people from Amsterdam. I had my passport with me so I thought that I would just go through customs. Just tell me how to get back to the hall for the flight from Hamilton and everything will be back…”
ELLEN: “Could you at least turn around?”
MISS SCHMIDT: “We don’t have all day, madam”
[CAMERA… Ellen begins to disrobe.

CUT to face of Miss Schmidt. She smiles for several minutes. It is obvious that she is enjoying Ellen disrobing though the camera only sees Miss Schmidt’s reaction..

CUT to shot of Ellen standing with the paper robe on.

CUT to Miss Schmidt who takes out a rubber glove and snaps it on.

MISS SCHMIDT: “Now, if madam will please lie across the table, stomach down.”
ELLEN: “You are going to do an internal examination!”
MISS SCHMIDT: “Yes. Don’t worry madam. I have small hands.”
ELLEN: “Please.”
MISS SCHMIDT: “Over the bench, madam! And spread them!”


Shot of opening title:


FADE to white. CUT to Ellen Ellery departing from a hotel. She moves quickly through the streets until she enters a post office. There are a couple of persons ahead of her in the cue. After a brief wait Ellen steps up to the wicket. The attending clerk is Lewis in disguise. His hair is dyed jet black and slicked flat on his head to one side. He has a thin pencil moustache put on with a black ink marker. Lewis has a strong accent that slips back and forth between Irish and French.

ELLEN: “Good afternoon.”
LEWIS: “And a fine afternoon it is Miss. A fine afternoon indeed. Sparkling one might say. You can almost feel the carbonation in the air.”
ELLEN: “I’d like to send this letter to someone in Hamilton. Could I send it registered mail?”
LEWIS: “Important, madam?”
ELLEN: “I would like to get it there as soon as possible.”
LEWIS: “I can see by the flush in your cheeks that a mystery lurks beneath the white satin sheets of your envelope. Ah, the sweet smell of romance. Would that I were in the full bloom of my youth once again. I suppose that madam has seasoned the letter with an exotic bouquet…”
ELLEN: “No.”
LEWIS: “Anglais! Blood does not course through the veins of the Teutonic races. No, course isn’t the word. What is the word? Bustle? No. Imbecile! Bustle sounds like the rush hour. Love making must never be rushed. It must be savored like a good cigar… no. Not like a cigar. Cigar is the wrong image. So vulgar. Love must never be vulgar. It must linger...”
ELLEN: “I’m not English.”
LEWIS: “How can a nation that has produced a Byron, a Shelley, Keats, Donne produce such sobriety in their love making? As you have no doubts guessed, lassie, I’m something of a poet myself. No Rod McKuen mind you, but I can turn a naughty phrase to my advantage. No doubt, you have heard of me - James Acorn, Milton’s smarter brother.”
ELLEN: “I’m sorry.”
LEWIS: “I’ve had over a hundred poems published. You must have read one of them.”
ELLEN: “I don’t read much poetry.”
LEWIS: “Well, that explains it. You cannot be held accountable for the state of education in this country. At any rate you must add a little perfume to the letter. It’s the details that mean so much in such matters. I have a bottle of roll-on deodorant here that works in a pinch.”
ELLEN: “It’s not a love letter.”
LEWIS: “Not a love letter! What’s the rush then? It’s not political, is it? We cannot allow the mails to be used to disseminate ideological tracts. The world needs to listen to the wisdom of the bards not the bark of guns.”
ELLEN: “It’s not political.”
LEWIS: “Please accept my dearest condolences. A dear one has passed beyond this wretched sphere. Do not despair, my dear. The cold of the grave cannot steal the glimmer… No, that’s not the word. Imbecile! The light that is inserted? Injected? Imbued? No, no, no! God, it’s so frustrating since they banned my thesaurus from the work place. Jack over there is allowed to leaf through his little red book of postal regulations but I am not allowed my Roget!”
ELLEN: “No one has died.”
LEWIS: “A child is born. In the end, they break your heart…”
ELLEN: “No child.”
LEWIS: “No child?”
ELLEN: “Nope.”
LEWIS: “Pornography? Five years…”
ELLEN: “It is not pornography.”
LEWIS: “Madam, you are playing with me. What is in this envelope?”
ELLEN: “It’s a change of address card.”
LEWIS: “Madam! You take me for a fool. I have worked in her Majesty’s service for twenty five years and in all that time no has ever sent a change of address card by Registered Mail.”
ELLEN: “Nevertheless…”
LEWIS: “I won’t send it.”
ELLEN: “You must.”
LEWIS: “I will not!”
ELLEN: “Okay, if you insist, it’s a love letter.”
LEWIS: “Ah… Thought you could pull a fast one over on James Acorn. Now let’s get that roll-on deodorant out and we’ll…”


Shot of opening title:


FADE to white. CUT to a birthday party in a large stately home. There is a large crowd of people in a large hall. In the middle of the room, Ellen Ellery looks quite distressed. She is making her way across the room toward a tall man, Paul Man, standing by a window.

CUT to bathroom where Paul Man and Ellen are talking. The door is open. The camera attempts to peak into the bathroom. Paul Man closes the door in the face of the camera.

CUT to shot of bathroom from outside through the bathroom window. Although nothing can be heard, Paul Man and Ellen Ellery are quite animated.

CUT to shot of bathroom from inside the toilet. The seat is up.

PAUL MAN: “We can’t talk long. Mother will start looking for us and I don’t want her to find us in here together. She’ll start asking questions.”
ELLEN: “How could you do it?”
PAUL MAN: “Do what, Ellen?”
ELLEN: “Don’t give me that shit!”
PAUL MAN: “What!”
ELLEN: “Please!”
PAUL MAN: “Are we going to play charades? What are you talking about?”
ELLEN: “When I first got involved in this business, I was told that no one would get hurt. Now, I find I’m involved in murder.”
PAUL MAN: “Ellen, could you keep your voice down. I told you before, father never allows business to be discussed at home.”
ELLEN: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. This is not business! Do you read me, Paul? This is murder! How could I have gotten myself mixed up in this?”
PAUL MAN: “Ellen. Calm down. There’s no reason to be hysterical.”
ELLEN: “You murdered Roberto and Maria Lancherz!”
PAUL MAN: “The papers described their deaths as a murder – suicide.”
ELLEN: “Don’t insult my intelligence! Did Roberto drive over Maria three times then turn the car on himself?”
PAUL MAN: “Suddenly you get upset by the death of a couple of sleaze bags. I don’t see you leading parades protesting all those deaths in…”
ELLEN: “They were friends of mine!”
PAUL MAN: “You slept with them?”
ELLEN: “I won’t honour that remark with…”
PAUL MAN: “You’re supposed to be my fiancĂ©. Play the part!”
ELLEN: “I feel like I hardly know you. Did you…?”
ELLEN: “Was it your father?”
[CAMERA…. Paul Man flushes the toilet. His response cannot be heard. The picture gets blurry before it clears.

PAUL MAN: “Will you never understand business? The Lancherzs were skimming money off the top. We’ve known about it for some time. Perhaps if we weren’t so strapped for cash, we might have continued to look the other way. Interest rates have been climbing and the dollar took a one cent plunge last week. We’re stretched to the limits.”
ELLEN: “And so you murdered them!”
PAUL MAN: “It was a purely business decision.”
ELLEN: “I’m sure that will make the Lancherzs rest easy.”
PAUL MAN: “Tell me about David Faster.”
ELLEN: “You leave David alone! He’s got nothing to do with this.”
PAUL MAN: “He was a friend of the Lancherzs. They talked to him. How much does he know?”
ELLEN: “Don’t!”
PAUL MAN: “What is your relationship with Faster?”
ELLEN: “That’s what this is all about. It’s not business at all. It’s all about you, Paul.”
[CAMERA… Paul Man flushes the toilet. The picture blurs once again. There is a knock at the door. It is Paul Man’s mother on the other side of the door.

PAUL’S MOTHER: “Is that you in there, Paul? Please hurry! Mommy has to go number one.”

Shot of opening title:


FADE to white. CUT to a parking lot in an industrial area. LONG SHOT of area from a helicopter. Cop cars and an ambulance are huddled together. Barricades have been set up with yellow police lines encircling the lot. There are no civilian onlookers.

CUT to MEDIUM SHOT from ground of photographer taking pictures of Lancherzs on the ground. A uniformed cop and two detectives are standing nearby looking at the bodies.

CUT to CLOSE UPS of the cops talking.

UNIFORM COP: “The ambulance attendants want to know if they can take away the bodies.”
1ST DETECTIVE: “What’s the rush?”
UNIFORM COP: “They want to get back to the station to watch the Raptor game.”
2ND DETECTIVE: “None of us want to be out here, tonight. Especially these two on the ground.”
[CAMERA… Uniformed policeman moves away. 1st Detective crouches and looks at Roberto Lancherz.

1ST DETECTIVE: “A handsome man. What was he doing here with this broad?”
2ND DETECTIVE: “Murder-suicide?”
1ST DETECTIVE: “It’ll do for now.”
[CAMERA… 1st Detective lifts a package of cigarettes out of Lancherz’s pocket. He stands up and offers one of the cigarettes to the other detective. The 2nd Detective shakes his head.

2ND DETECTIVE: “Trying to quit.”
[CAMERA… 1st Detective lights up. Lewis walks up behind the two detectives and stands over the bodies.

LEWIS: “Can I bum one of those off you?”
1ST DETECTIVE: “Who the hell are you?”
LEWIS: “Teacher’s union.”
[CAMERA… Lewis shows some identification. 1st Detective offers a cigarette and a light to Lewis.
LEWIS: “What’s it look like?”
2ND DETECTIVE: “Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make this look like a murder-suicide.”
LEWIS: “You’re not buying it?”
1ST DETECTIVE: “It would make our paper work easier.”
LEWIS: “Something to feed the media.”
1ST DETECTIVE: “You fellas know anything?”
LEWIS: “We’ve been watching these two. They’re married.”
LEWIS: “In the high schools.”
2ND DETECTIVE: “Bastards!”
1ST DETECTIVE: “Makes sense.”
2ND DETECTIVE: “Professional hit.”
LEWIS: “Ya. Any ideas, who?”
1ST DETECTIVE: “We were hoping you could tell us that.”
LEWIS: “Nothing concrete.”
1ST DETECTIVE: “Keep in touch.”
2ND DETECTIVE: “Funny thing.”
LEWIS: “Funny?”
2ND DETECTIVE: “For a married couple…”
LEWIS: “Ya.”
1ST DETECTIVE: “He’s prettier than she is.”
LEWIS: “Not for long.”



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