James K. Shaffer
WINK & NOD PRODUCTIONS
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Urban Pirates- WORKING DRAFT
EXT. THE DAWN, MOVING THROUGH THE HARBOR
Ken hurriedly pulls up the anchor and signals silently to Mike. Mike starts the engine and they bolt. They race down the East River and out into the harbor. The fog follows them and begins to steal the light. They look at each other with terror. Mike musters up some courage and put on a brave face. It grows darker. Suddenly, The Dawn’s lights flicker, falter and the engine fails. Mike turns the key and it misses. They begin to drift out of the channel. SCREECH!
What the hell is going on, Mike?
I dunno. Keep your eyes to the right.
There should be a marker coming up. Stay cool, kid.
I do not like this shit, Mike. Get us out of here.
No worries. I’m on it.
Mike looks to the sky, mouths a quick prayer and turns the key. The drifting Dawn sputters and then ROARS to life. Mike winks. Ken shakes his head, relieved.
CLOSEUP- The GPS system comes to life and shows the boat moving toward the channel, true and straight. The radio comes alive with static and then voices over a clear signal “Coast Guard Warning…Sudden fog has moved in…a small craft advisory in effect for all local waters…”
About 100 yards to the east. We’re almost there. Listen.
Mike steers the boat. What seems like an eternity passes in a few seconds. The buoy CHIMES. A lonely lighted channel marker blinks. A foghorn BLASTS through the pea soup fog.
Mike brushes off his shoulder and steers to port. Ken rolls his eyes and exhales. The huge black bird SCREETCHES across the dimming sun.
EXT. UNCLE PAT’S BAR, FOGGY NIGHT- LATER
Mike and Ken pull up in the Jeep in front of an old school, green neon lit Brooklyn Irish bar & grill. They get out of the Jeep, look around suspiciously and walk towards the bar door, Mike carrying the goods in a new Mets sports bag.
INT. UNCLE PAT’S BAR
The bar is a little old fashioned, but neat and clean. The wood is polished and the brass glows. Irish road signs decorate the wall. Neon beer signs shine red, green and blue. Baseball games play on the TV’s. There are a few old timers at one end of the bar. The jukebox rocks low. In the booths along the walls, a few couples laugh and joke. A sexy Brooklyn girl gets up and walks struts toward the bathroom.
Mike and Ken walk towards the far end of the bar where UNCLE PAT (60’s, PAT has a full head of silver hair slicked back, square-jawed and solid) stands behind the bar reviewing a folder of invoices, a large checkbook next to him. As the two men approach, Pat looks up with a wide smile. KEN and MIKE sit on stools in front of PAT.
Well, lads, did ya’ catch dinner? A striper, perhaps?
No, Uncle Pat. Not quite. We did catch something really strange, though.
Mike opens the bag on the bar and shows Pat the sparkling necklace. The deep greens and rich reds shimmer richly. Pat quickly closes the bag and ushers them over to a private table.
INT. UNCLE PAT’S BAR- PRIVATE BOOTH IN BACK
Away from any possibly curious eyes, Mike opens the bag and PLUNKS the necklace onto the rich mahogany table. The dazzling jewels glow in the green & red neon lights. The men’s eyes glow, too.
Strange indeed! Jaysus! Look at those rocks!
Ken’s cell phone RINGS. Ken knocks his beer over. The men exhale with relief.
CLOSEUP- The ring tone is “My Boo” by Usher & Alicia Keys.
Pat throws Ken a bar towel and frowns. Ken looks around, embarrassed and a little wet. He answers and continues drying himself.
Hey, baby. Yeah. We’re up at PAT’s …
I’ll be home in an hour. Something came up…
Ken shrugs and walks towards the door for privacy. Mike turns to Pat.
What do ya’ think it’s worth?
I’ve never seen the likes of it. It has got to be a million dollar bauble, I reckon’. Where did you say…?
KEN returns with his phone out of sight.
What do you think, Uncle Pat?
PAT thinks it could be worth a couple million!
I didn’t say…I just dunno’. It sure looks real enough, like it was made for a king or a queen.
Oh. I understand. You didn’t tell PAT the WHERE part yet, Mike?
(Clearing his throat)
No. I have not. Not yet. Not at this particular time.
Not at this particular time??? Ha! I knew you didn’t tell him yet.
We found this in Hell’s Gate, Pat.
Everything gets very quiet and serious. Pat is fuming with a building with rage. Mike looks away, Ken looks down
(Furious. He glances at an embarrassed Ken and then he directs his full glare to Mike)
Are you out of your feckin’ minds? Don’t you remember anything I taught you about these waters? Or even the first thing?!
Yes, I do. “Stay away from Hell’s Gate”. But, Pat…
Stay away from Hell’s Gate. Period.
I know, but it was slack high tide, the current wasn’t bad.
We were going for the fish.
Slack tide? Fish?
Listen to you what you are saying, man. Hell’s Gate is an evil place. This is a fact.
Bullshit. That crap does not spook me.
Well it should. People have died chasing this “treasure”. It is a curse.
Come on. What do you know?
I worked on a case in the ‘80’s with my old partner Tim Brennan. They found six dead bodies all with the blood drained from them. Legend says the ghost of a murderous English Captain watches over Hell’ Gate. Stories of treasure were all over the waterfront. Some local guys started poking around. Found a little gold. All dead now.
Oh this is some creepy shit. Mike, you have to admit, that fog bank came out of nowhere.
Fog happens all the time. We gotta’ find out what is really going on here. It was like this thing wanted to be found. There could be more down there.
More? You should throw this back tonight. Mike, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Pat’s right. It ain’t ours, Mike. It is probably stolen.
Possession in nine tenths of the law, right? Come on. What’s so wrong with couple Brooklyn pirates scoring some sunken treasure?
It is wrong because you could be dead before you can spend your found fortune. This is Hell’s Gate, lads. It is no joke. You are messing with things you don’t understand.
I’m not hearing this shit. This is my chance, men. There is a million dollar bauble sitting on the bar is talking to me loud and clear.
We don’t say no to destiny. Not on my watch.
INT. BASEMENT OF PAT’S BAR
Mike, Ken and Pat place the necklace in the big, old iron safe in the basement of the bar. Pat slams it shut. They shake hands, silent. Mike and Ken leave. Pat is left at the bar, alone, shaking his head.
INT. KEN & MAYA- HOME
Ken enters the kitchen where his wife waits, steaming mad. MAYA (30ish, mad curvy, bathrobe) is is sitting at the kitchen table, pissed. Ken enters with a big White Castle bag and a wave. Maya is not amused.
What the… Kenny, don’t come in here with some sack of White Castles thinking everything is cool.
Come on, baby. We found something. This could be big, Maya. Listen to me.
MAYA tilts her head.
INT. KITCHEN TABLE
A few minutes later, several burger wrappers have piled up on the table between them.
Pat is right. You guys shouldn’t be messing around with Hell’s Gate!
I know. But I gotta’ help Mike. He’ll do something crazy if I’m not there.
That doesn’t mean you need to risk your ass.
I promised his wife, our friend, on her deathbed I would watch out for him.
It’s important to me.
Come on, Maya.
He is at the end of his rope. This is about my responsibility.
Your responsibility is to your family. I love Mike, but you are getting in over your heads.
Mike is family. Come on, baby. You know me, Mr. Careful. I’ll be safe.
Shoot. We might even be rich.
(Up an octave)
Huh, baby? What do you mean RICH?
KEN smiles and takes his wife’s hand.
INT. MIKE’S APARTMENT- LATE NIGHT, QUIET
Treasure Wrecks of the North Atlantic is the name of the book opened on the desk. Mike’s eyes are alive with the hope of treasure. He sips a glass of whiskey.He types notes. He opens his browser and Google’s the words “Hell’s Gate Treasure”. As he reads, his face begins unlocking the mystery.
EXT. NYC WATERFRONT, SUNNY DAY
It is a brilliant, sunny afternoon with a few high, white clouds float high above the busy harbor. Old barges are tied up alongside the piers, bouncing in the swells. The water is alive with baitfish.
Two teenage boys, run along the docks playing around. The NYC skyline glistens in the distance. The two boys stop dead in their tracks. One boy points toward the water, eyes wide with horror.
EXT. WATER, FIFTEEN FEET FROM DOCK
A man’s gray, mangled body bobs in the water between two old barges. He is floating on his back and he has been gutted, There is not much of a face left. A bright blue crab is digging greedily at his right eye.
CLOSEUP- The boys are wide-eyed, too stunned to scream.
A startling foghorn BLASTS and they do SCREAM. They continue to scream as they run towards a guardhouse.
EXT. THE PIER- MINUTES LATER
Emergency vehicles file down the side streets towards the docks. Police cars, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
A brown Dodge Charger SKIDS to a stop. Detective Tim Brennan (early 50’s, facial hair, strong, a bit run down) cuts the engine. He pops a couple of chewable Tums and hoists himself from the car.
CLOSE-UP- The crying boys are talking to patient detectives kneeling before them. A crowd gathers in front of the CRIME SCENE tape as rookies keep them at bay.
BRENNAN marches to the front and politely moves through the crowd, his badge on a chain around his neck.
A police tug maneuvers below him. A white haired older cop struggles to reach the body with a pole.
(Smiling and falsely cheery)
Hey, Mulligan old pal, do you need a hand over there fishing that out?
(Too old and out of shape for this shit.)
Yeah Brennan, you Irish fuck. I am too old for this shit. Get down here and give me a hand dragging this in, ya’ prick.
Brennan chuckles and climbs down to the tug. Mulligan snags the corpse and pulls it close.
CLOSEUP- There is a huge gash down the center of a waterlogged body. The blue crab crawls out and flees.
Does this remind you of something else, Detective Brennan?
Yes. Sure does, you elephant memory prick.
Ha. Let’s reel this shit in.
They pull the body aboard. Mulligan throws a black plastic tarp over the gory remains. Brennan jumps onto the dock, takes out a pad and begins to write. The big diesel engine of the Police boat ROARS to life. The boat pulls away, lights flashing, no siren.
Brennan waves. Mulligan throws him the bird.
INT. THE KEEPER’S CABIN
The room is dark and luxurious with ornate wood furniture and plush cushions. Soothing classical music plays low.
The Keeper is seated at a workbench. He sharpens his sword on a stone with long deliberate strokes. He is whistling a jolly tune in the shadows.
Fausto is ironing a dress military uniform.
Fausto, I am feeling like my old self!
Oh, dear Keeper. That worries me deeply.
We get a brief glimpse of the horror of The Keeper, bones stick out of his nightshirt at sharp angles. The black bird perches in the corner.
INT. BRENNAN ENTERS THE MORGUE
This is not a glistening, CSI, state-of-the-art crime lab. It is a dump. Only the bare necessities seem to be in clean, working order.
Mozart places softly. A lone light focuses on a table. A tall doctor works on a corpse. He looks up, removes his mask and smiles warmly as he waves Brennan closer.
Brennan walks slow and carefully around the cramped, dank, gray and barely functional, full of broken and out-dated equipment.
Bechler looks up from the operating table.
(A hairy, competent, sweaty doctor/madman)
Well, if it is not the Commissioner’s best lad! Detective third grade Brennan, how did you catch this piece of shit case?
Karma, I guess, Bechler. A fine fucking how-do-you-do to start the summer, huh? What can you tell me about this mess?
(Professional and direct)
Detective, this is your worst nightmare. Savage. There is a huge gash through the head and face.
There is massive tissue and organ displacement in the upper torso.
Possible lifestyle related bruises on the hips and thighs.
Damn. What else?
The killer did a little shopping. He took stuff with him, teeth, and the heart. You…
(Pausing as Brennan rubs his head)
Man. You look like you could use a little drink, Detective Brennan?
(waving the idea away)
Ah, I shouldn’t.
You sure? ‘Cause I’ve got a whopper for you.
Maybe I should.
You pour. I’ve got my hands full. Body freezer
Brennan walks over and pours two sturdy shots of pure vodka from a freezing Grey Goose bottle into chunky, beautifully frosted rocks glasses.
Get ready to shoot it back.
This body has been drained of all its blood. Not a drop left.
I surely did not want to hear that.
Brennan and the doctor throw back the vodka and slam down the glasses. Bechler, refreshed, smiles and throws BRENNAN a pair of surgical gloves. Brennan, cringing and wiping his mouth, he pulls the gloves on like he has done this before.
INT. MORGUE- LATER
Brennan pulls back from the autopsy and exhales. Bechler is sweating something terrible.
I think this is those same sick fuckin’ blood sucking bastards from the 80’s! This is big problems, Brennan!
This is the same fucker from 20 years ago who hacked up those people. The same M.O. This is trouble coming. I feel it in my bones.
Well, if history is repeating itself, business should be picking up around here. Let’s drink to that at least. Ha!