ブラック・ダリア(2006年)

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[amazonjs asin=”B000J6HYLS” locale=”JP” title=”ブラック・ダリア コレクターズ・エディション 2枚組 DVD”]CREDITS ROLL OVER

Black and white newsreel footage from the 1930s. Clips from
prize fights featuring two different boxers against various
opponents. One a light heavyweight–pure finesse, a
counterpunches; the other, stouter and stronger, a
headhunting puncher.

The intercutting of the two fighters suggests a possible
showdown at the end of the newsreel. No such luck.

END CREDITS

CLOSE UP ON:

A TRIPLE CARBON LAPD “INCIDENT REPORT” FORM trapped in an old
Corona typewriter. The keys pound letters into the blank
spaces.

INCIDENT: THE ZOOT SUIT RIOTS…JUNE 10, 1943…
REPORTING OFFICER…DWIGHT “BUCKY” BLEICHERT

EXT. BOYLE HEIGHTS – EVERGREEN AND WABASH – DUSK

A WORLD WAR II ERA PERSONNEL CARRIER transports twenty silent
LAPD officers into the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The
sounds of glass breaking and men screaming serves as backdrop
for their arrival.

We focus in on BUCKY BLEICHERT, 26, (The counterpuncher from
the newsreels) as he jumps from the carrier.

Bucky’s minus his gun but plus a WWI tin helmet and a three
pound truncheon.

BUCKY’S POV:

Hundreds of in-uniform GI’s use baseball bats and two-by-
fours to beat the shit out of Zoot Suit-wearing Mexicans.

Most of the cops wander to the edge of the race riot and
hobnob with the pockets of MPs and Shore Patrol who’ve chosen
to “restore order” by cheering on their countrymen against
the outnumbered but equally fierce zooters.

Sailors shatter streetlights and shop windows. Darkness falls
quickly on what Bucky rightly realizes is chaos.

Suddenly Bucky’s RUNNING–

away from the action…

down a side street and onto a

QUIET RESIDENTIAL BLOCK.

He slows to a jog, trying to gather his thoughts. And then a
voice:

VOICE
Bleichert! Bleichert!

EXT. A BUNGALOW COURTYARD – SAME

A POLICE OFFICER has THREE MARINES IN DRESS BLUES and ONE
ZOOT SUITER cornered in a center walkway.

The marines swipe clumsily at the officer with their two-by-
fours as he bobs back and forth on the balls of his feet,
dodging the blows like the ex-fighter he is.

VOICE OVER
I already knew him by reputation, had our
respective records down pat: Lee
Blanchard, 43-4-2 as a heavyweight,
formerly a regular attraction at the
Hollywood Legion Stadium.

The terrified Mexican stands frozen on one side of Blanchard,
trying to avoid the entire mess as the policeman parries the
marines’ blows with his own truncheon.

LEE BLANCHARD
Code three, Bleichert!

Bucky runs into the courtyard and immediately wades in,
fending off the marines’ blows to jab at them with his stick.

VOICE OVER
And he knew me, Bucky Bleichert, light-
heavy, 36-0-0, ranked tenth by Ring
magazine in 1937 fighting no-name
opponents in no-man’s-land division.

On instinct, Bucky drops his baton and begins wailing on the
marines with his fists, connecting hard punches with soft
midsections.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
In our first year at Central we’d never
spoke–but people spoke of us. Opinions
about a fantasy Bleichert-Blanchard
fight, and who would win.

And now Blanchard moves in, lashing vicious truncheon blows
to the shoulders of the marines, sending them one by one into
a heap.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
I’d heard almost all of ‘em: Blanchard by
early KO; Bleichert by decision;
Blanchard stopped on cuts–everything but
Bleichert by knockout.

The marines reduced to rubble, Lee Blanchard turns his
attention to the Zooter: he slaps handcuffs on him and leads
him away. He motions for Bucky to follow.

Lee turns back to the marines:

LEE
To the halls of Tripoli, shitbirds.

One of them flips Lee off. The Zooter kicks him in the chest
as Lee pulls him away from them, laughing.

The three men start back toward the riots. Gunshots can be
heard. Palm trees blaze up into the night.

LEE (cont’d)
(re the Zooter)
Bucky Bleichert, meet Senor Tomas Dos
Santos, subject of an all-points fugitive
warrant for manslaughter committed during
the commission of a Class B Felony.
Snatched a purse off a hairbag and she
keeled of a heart attack.

BUCKY
You come all the way down here to roust–

LEE
(smiling)
I came all the way down here same as you
did.
(jerks a finger to the riots)
Keep from gettin’ killed. Happened to see
those jarheads beatin’ on a good collar–
(nudging Dos Santos)
Habla Ingles, Tomas?

The man shakes his head “no”.

LEE (cont’d)
He’s dead meat. Manslaughter Two’s a gas
chamber jolt for spics. Hepcat here’s
about six weeks away from the Big Adios.
Been better off getting a couple cracked
ribs from our Privates First Class back
there.

Blanchard spies a home with newspapers stacked on the front
porch.

LEE (cont’d)
We’ll never get him booked tonight.

CUT TO:

LEE JIMMYING THE FRONT DOOR…

INT. THE KITCHEN – LATER

Tomas Dos Santos cuffed by his ankles to a radiator. The
three men are on their second fifth of Cutty Sark swiped from
the kitchen cupboard.

Dos Santos sings a drunken Spanish version of “The
Chattanooga Choo Choo” before slumping to his side and
passing out.

Bucky covers him with a blanket.

LEE
Tom here’s my ninth hard felon of the
month. Six weeks he’ll be sucking gas. In
three years I’ll be working Central
Warrants. Jewboy Deputy D.A. over there
wets his pants for fighters. Promised me
the next spot he can wangle.

BUCKY
(not impressed)
Impressive.

LEE
(not impressed either)
Wanna hear something more impressive? My
first twenty fights were stumblebums
handpicked by my manager. My girlfriend
saw you fight a couple times over at the
Olympic. Says maybe you could take me.

Lee gets up and wanders into the living room. From the
kitchen Bucky watches Lee stare out at the flames.

BUCKY
Whatta we do about the Mex?

LEE
We’ll take ‘em in the morning.

BUCKY
You’ll take him.

LEE
He’s half yours, partner.

BUCKY
He’s all yours. And I’m not your partner.

LEE
(without turning)
Someday.

DISSOLVE TO:

A CLOSE UP OF TOMAS DOS SANTOS’ FACE

screaming in silence.

AS WE PULL BACK TO REVEAL

Tomas Dos Santos dying in a large Plexiglas GAS CHAMBER.
Bucky stands in the back of the room, forcing himself to
watch. He can’t stand it and leaves.

IN THE FRONT ROW

Lee also watches, elbows on knees and chin in hands. He can’t
stand it, either. He stays.

IN THE HALLWAY AFTERWARDS

Bucky watches from afar as men in suits shake Lee’s hand and
brush imaginary lint off of his BRAND NEW SERGEANT’S STRIPES.
Their eyes meet briefly as Bucky retreats to daylight.

Another TRIPLE CARBON FORM FILLED OUT ON THE CORONA…

Transfer and Promotion…Sergeant Lee Blanchard…
Highland Park Vice to Central Warrants…Effective
10/14/46

EXT. 2ND AND BEAUDRY – DAY

An extremely bored Bucky Bleichert gives a man a speeding
ticket and sends him on his way.

EXT./INT. RADIO PATROL CAR – MOVING

Bucky drives as a ROOKIE COP chatters in the seat next to
him.

ROOKIE
Yep, three years in the Canal Zone.
Nothin’ but skeeter bites and drunk
fights over three-dollar skank tail…

INT. THE CENTRAL MUSTER ROOM – DAY

Bucky sits at his desk filling out a form as the rookie cop
prattles on in the background.

ROOKIE
…fights over three-dollar skank tail…

AN OLDER OFFICER

walks by the rookie and rolls his eyes. Catching Bucky’s
look, the cop throws him a shadow punching one-two. Bucky
smiles thinly. Returns to his paperwork. Then another cop
passes by and breaks into a bob-and-weave. Bucky looks
puzzled and annoyed.

He grabs a third cop walking by (TOM JOSLIN).

BUCKY
Somethin’ up, Tommy?

TOM
You, that’s what.
(off Bucky’s look)
You know Lee Blanchard over at Central
Warrants?

Bucky nods.

TOM
His partner’s toppin’ his twenty and
goin’ for early retirement. Word is the
felony D.A.’s lookin’ for a bright boy to
fill the spot. Christ knows why but it’s
down to you and Johnny Vogel for the
spot.

Bucky takes a surreptitious peek across the room at JOHNNY
VOGEL, fat, slick-hair and bad skin.

BUCKY
His old man Fritzie’s a Central Dick.

TOM
(chucking Bucky on the chin)
But who’d look better when they bring back
the boxing team, eh Buckaroo?

Bucky shakes his head, dismissing the whole thing.

INT. THE RADIO PATROL CAR – ANOTHER DAY

Bucky drives on as the rookie talks and talks…

VOICE OVER
Warrants was local celebrity as a cop.
Warrants was plainclothes without a coat
and tie, romance and a mileage per diem
on your civilian car. Warrants was going
after the real bad guys and not rousting
winos and wienie waggers in front of the
Midnight Mission.

INT. BUCKY’S GARAGE – NIGHT

Bucky hits a speed-bag, building up a sweat.

VOICE OVER
I told myself I didn’t care.

He hits the bag faster and faster.

INT. THE CENTRAL MUSTER ROOM – DAY

A desk officer hands Bucky a note.

CUT TO:

INT. CITY HALL – CHIEF OF DETECTIVES OFFICE – LATER

A secretary leads Bucky into an office with CHIEF OF
DETECTIVES THAD GREEN etched on the pebble glass door.

Inside the office: Lee Blanchard, ASST. D.A. ELLIS LOEW, and
CHIEF THAD GREEN. They all sit in matched leather chairs.

SECRETARY
Officer Bleichert.

She exits. An awkward silence.

LEE
(getting to his feet)
Gentlemen, Bucky Bleichert. Bucky, Chief
Thad Green, Deputy DA Ellis Loew.

Bucky shakes their hands, nodding to each. Chief Green
gestures for him to sit.

CHIEF GREEN
Read this aloud, Officer. It’s running in
Sunday’s Times.

BUCKY
“Before the war, the City of the Angels
was graced with two local fighters, born
and raised a scant five miles apart,
pugilists with styles as different as
fire and ice. Lee Blanchard was a
bowlegged windmill of a leather slinger–

CHIEF GREEN
Skip down to the fire and ice part.

BUCKY
(searching, finding)
“Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice never fought each
other, but a sense of duty brought them
together in spirit, and both joined the
Los Angeles Police Department.” Blanchard
cracked the baffling Boulevard-Citizens
bank robbery case in 1939 and captured
thrill-killer Tomas Dos Santos; Bleichert
served with distinction during the ’43
Zoot Suit Wars–“

A glance to Lee…

CHIEF GREEN
Skip to the end.

BUCKY
“Both men made great sacrifices to serve
their city, and on Election Day, voters
are going to be asked to do the same
thing–vote on a five million dollar bond
proposal to upgrade the LAPD’s equipment
and provide for an eight percent pay
raise for all personnel. Keep in mind the
examples of Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice. Vote
“Yes” on Proposition B.”

CHIEF GREEN
Whattya think?

BUCKY
Subtle.

Blanchard and Green smile; Loew frowns.

ELLIS LOEW
Prop. B’s looking like a loser right now.
But if we can drum up some publicity we
may he able to get it passed in the ’47
Special. We need to build up morale in
the department.
Impress voters with the quality of our
men. Wholesome white boxers are a big
draw, Bleichert. You know that.

Bucky looks to Lee.

LEE
Fire and Ice.

LOEW
Ten rounds. The Academy Gym. Three weeks
from now. Right before the election. All
the gate to charity. After that, we bring
back the interdivisional boxing team.
Wholesome fighters.

LEE
Wholesome.

CHIEF GREEN
Are you in, Bucky?

LEE
It’s not like you’ll last the ten rounds
anyway.

Bucky eyes Lee quickly, assessing his larger but slightly
softer physique.

All the remaining eyes are on him.

BUCKY
I’m in.

Back slaps and congratulations all around.

LOEW
I’m betting on great things from you,
Bleichert. And if I don’t miss my bet we
may be colleagues soon.

BUCKY
Uh, yes sir.

EXT. THE CITY HALL PARKING LOT – MINUTES LATEER

Bucky exits and sees Lee leaning against an unmarked car
talking with a striking woman in an auburn pageboy cut.

Lee waves Bucky over.

LEE
Bucky I’d like you to meet Kay Lake.

BUCKY
Hello.

FAY
I saw you fight a couple times. You won.

BUCKY
I always won. You a fight fan?

KAY
Lee used to drag me. I was taking somme
art classes so I’d sketch the boxers.

Lee puts his arm around her.

LEE
Made me quit fighting the smokers. Didn’t
want me doin’ the “vegetable shuffle.”

He staggers around like a punch-drunk fighter.

BUCKY
I’ll try not to hurt you.

A flicker of anger in her eyes.

LEE
Sure make Loew happy.

BUCKY
He’s got money on me, I gather?

LEE
Seems that way.

BUCKY
And if I win I get Warrants?

LEE
Seems that way.

Bucky shakes his head. Turns to Kay.

BUCKY
What do you think of all this, Miss Lake?

KAY
For moral reasons I hope the LAPD gets
ridiculed for perpetrating this farce.
For financial reasons I hope Lee wins.
And for aesthetic reasons I hope you both
look good with your shirts off.

Bucky and Lee break into laughter. Bucky sticks out his hand.
Lee takes it.

BUCKY
Luck short of winning.

LEE
You, too.

Bucky tips his hat to Kay and turns to go.

KAY
Luck, Dwight.

He stops at hearing his real name. But he knows she’s waiting
to see his reaction so he keeps walking…

BUCKY’S BOXING MONTAGE

–Bucky hits the heavy bag in the police gym while Lee spars
in the background

VOICE OVER
The 77th Street lieutenant tapped as
official LAPD bookmaker had Lee as an
early 3 to 1 favorite…

–Bucky runs through Elysian Park with two pound weights on
his ankles.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
…while the real bookie line had Mr.
Fire favored by knockout at 2 1/2 to 1,
and decision by 5 to 3.

–Bucky spars with a fighter, peppering him with jab after
jab.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Even the dicks in Ad Vice had suspended
bookie shakedowns because Mickey Cohen
was raking ten grand a day and kickin’
back five percent to the advertising
agency promoting the bond issue.

–Cops exchange betting markers during roll call…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
I was a local celebrity again.

EXT./INT. BUCKY’S CAR – LINCOLN HEIGHTS – DAY

Bucky pulls up in front of a small ugly house in a tired
neighborhood. He exits the car carrying a cardboard box full
of canned goods and old girlie magazines.

ON THE PORCH OF THE HOUSE

a bony old man sits in a broken chair, aiming a BB pistol at
some balsa wood airplanes scattered in the yard.

ON BUCKY’S FACE

disgust and sadness.

This is DOLPH BLEICHERT, Bucky’s father. Bucky approaches,
pulling a chair up next to his father. Up close it’s even
worse: white skin stretched tight over blue veins, yellow
rimming his rheumy eyes. Flecks of dirt and vomit on a filthy
shirt.

BUCKY
Papa?

DOLPH
Guten tag, Dwight.

BUCKY
Speak English, papa.

DOLPH
Englisch Schiesser! Amerikan Schiesser!

He aims the BB gun and fires at an airplane: the gun’s empty.

Bucky enters the house. Half-eaten cans of beans on the
dining room table, an entire legion of broken balsa wood
airplane kits. Alley cats wander in and out of the kitchen,
nosing their faces into open tuna fish cans…

BACK ON THE PORCH

Dolph leans on the porch rail. Bucky returns.

BUCKY
Say something, Papa. Get me mad. Tell me
how you can fuck this place up so bad in
one month.

DOLPH
Du, Dwight? Du?

BUCKY
Speak…English. Papa, please.

He searches his father’s eyes for a response and gets none.

He surveys the house again. Somewhere in the corner of his
eye we see the glint of an idea…

INSIDE THE HOUSE

Bucky on the phone.

BUCKY
…He’s had another stroke. If you could
just come by and clean the place up and
keep an eye on him for week or so…a
hundred dollars is fine. No more than ten
days. I promise. I do. Thank you.

INT. THE POLICE BOXING GYM

Bucky leans against a wall watching Lee spar. Studying him.
Mentally fighting the sparring partner’s fight.

VOICE OVER
He was better than I thought. It made
what came next easier.

INT. A BANK – DAY

Bucky sits at a desk with an assistant manager and fills out
forms. The manager counts out approximately $4,500 in cash.
Bucky slides him the forms. The manager slides him the cash.

INT. THE GOOD LUCK BAR – NIGHT

Bucky slides into a booth across from PETE LUKINS.

PETE
So…I’m surprised but I’m not so
surprised. I hear you been lookin’ good.
Better’n people think.

Bucky pushes an envelope across to Pete. He looks in it.

PETE (cont’d)
I guess what I hear is correct. Then
you’ll be wantin’ to place this with
Mickey Cohen’s indie. He’s got Blanchard
2 to 1–

BUCKY
I’m not bettin’ on me, Pete.

PETE
(a beat)
Oh.
(another beat)
Then as a friend I feel it’s my duty to
tell you this: you better make it look
good.

BUCKY
Knockout between rounds eight and ten.

Pete nods his head, thinking.

PETE
Dragna’s got a guy really sold on you.
Even money. Best you’re gonna get.

BUCKY
Thanks, Pete.

Pete sticks out his hand.

PETE
Luck.

BUCKY
Short of winning?

PETE
Luck.

Bucky takes his hand.

INT. THE BOXING GYM – DAY

Bucky takes apart his sparring partner with a series of
lightning quick counterpunches.

VOICE OVER
I’d almost finished the Police Academy
when the background check turned up my
father’s German-American Bund membership.
Pressured by the FBI goons to confirm my
patriotism, I gave the Alien Squad Sam
Murakawa, a guy I’d grown up with, in
order to secure my LAPD appointment.

EXT. DOLPH BLEICHERT’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Bucky watches from across the street as AN OFF-DUTY NURSE
tries to get Papa Bleichert to eat a sandwich.

VOICE OVER
The old fuck never knew any better. Never
knew what he cost me. Or Sammy, who’d
died at Manzanar. I was a good fit in the
snitch’s jacket and with a little
alteration I slipped easily into the
whole suit.

INT. THE BOXING GYM – DAY

Bucky watches Lee spar. His quick eyes spying:

–scar tissue over Lee’s right eye

–Lee dropping his left when throwing the right hook

–Lee tucking his elbows too tight and opening up his ribcage

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
I had traded Warrants for a close-out on
bad old debts, the eight grand I was
gonna clear enough to maintain the old
man in a good clean rest home for three
years; the late round tank job enough to
convince myself I wasn’t a complete
coward.

INT. THE BOXING GYM – DAY

Kay approaches Bucky as he studies Lee.

KAY
At least he looks good with his shirt
off.

She waves to Lee between rounds. He blows a kiss back.

BUCKY
Where’s your sketch pad?

KAY
I was never very good. Ended up with a
degree in History. Masters. Lee’s fight
money paid for it.

BUCKY
Education’s an expensive habit to kick.
(beat)
He shouldn’t have quit fighting.

KAY
I asked him to. Besides, catching
animals gave him a sense of order. You
have a girlfriend, Dwight?

BUCKY
Saving myself for Rita Hayworth.

A roar from the gym onlookers. Lee’s sparring partner hits
the deck, blood spraying from his mouth.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Quits fighting for you. Puts you through
school. Quite a guy. Quite a pair.

KAY
(flirting)
We’re not getting married if that’s what
you’re wondering.

BUCKY
Why not? Shacking’s against the regs.
Probably cost him a stripe.

KAY
I have to go, Dwight. Good luck tomorrow
night.

BUCKY
You didn’t answer my question–

KAY
(a throwaway)
Lee and I don’t sleep together, Dwight.

She keeps walking. He just stares…

INT. BUCKY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

A half-eaten steak and two beers gone. It’s six hours later
and Bucky’s still thinking about Kay’s exit line. Restless.
He grabs his jacket.

INT. HEARST BUILDING – HERALD-EXAMINER MORGUE – NIGHT

Bucky flashes his badge to a late-night clerk who escorts him
into the newspaper’s morgue. Pulls a bound stack of newspaper
clippings and gives them to Bucky. He begins poring through
them…

A newspaper photo of a BANK shifts into live action:

A GRAINY NEWSREEL-TYPE FLASHBACK (SLO-MO)

An armored truck idles in front of the Boulevard-Citizens
Bank. Three men dressed in guard uniforms run out of the
front of the bank, an alarm keening in the background.

Three police cars converge on the scene and a gun battle
ensues… Two of the bank robbers are shot as the third man
(the one carrying the money) jumps into the truck. The truck
takes off, able to escape when someone from inside the truck
throws open the doors and pushes the naked and bound
legitimate guards out the back and into the line of
pursuit…

VOICE OVER
With no lead on the two escaped men, the
heist quickly went from page one to page
five. Two weeks later…

A newspaper clipping headline: “Tip from Ex-boxer cop
breaks B-C Bank Job”

A still photo of Lee which becomes live action as…

INT. A SMALL VENICE BEACH APARTMENT – DAY (FLASHBACK)

A younger Lee and four other cops tear apart a small flat. In
a closet they find BANK GUARD UNIFORMS, BANK BAGS, and a
small stash of MARIJUANA.

VOICE OVER
One of Lee’s snitches fingered Bobby
DeWitt, a greasy little pimp with a yard
long rap, as the brains behind the bank
job.

CUT TO:

FLASHBACK: A HATCHET FACED MAN (DEWITT) LED BY HANDCUFFS
THROUGH A GIANT CROWD…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
DeWitt howled frame-up the entire trial,
never ID’ing the driver or coughing up
the dough, even after damning character
testimony from some of his employees,
including one Katherine Lake, formerly of
Sioux Falls, South Dakota and looking to
go straight.

FLASHBACK: LEE LEADING KAY FROM THE COURTROOM, HAND ON HER
ELBOW…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
DeWitt got ten to life at San Quentin;
Lee got Kay, or maybe the other way
around.

BACK TO PRESENT: Bucky walks through downtown L.A., hands
stuffed in his pockets like James Dean…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
They both got a few weeks in the gossip
pages before Kay dove into her college
education and Lee down the hero’s road
ending in Warrants and a shack job with a
woman he loved but wouldn’t touch…

Bucky passes A WHORE on the corner, their eyes meet for a
moment and he walks on.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
You come off a winning fight. Sweat-
drenched, tasting blood, still wanting to
go. The handbooks who made money on you
bring you a girl. A pro, a semi-pro. You
do it in the dressing room, or a hallway.
The eleventh round of a ten round fight.
And when you go back to an ordinary life,
it’s just weakness, a loss.

Bucky turns back to give the whore a second look but she’s gone.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
To a fighter, sex tastes like blood and
resin and suture scrub. I wondered if
some day that would ever be different.

CUT TO:

A HAMMER HITTING A BELL

and the fight is on.

INSIDE THE PACKED ACADEMY GYM

Cops and mobsters sit shoulder to shoulder, cigar smoke like
L.A. haze as

LEE CHARGES BUCKY, the big man trying to cut of the ring.
Bucky engages, dodging Lee’s thundering blows and peppering
back with counterpunches…

**The general fight storyline is this: a very even and brutal
match see-sawing back and forth, Bucky doing all he can to
make it into the middle rounds. Somewhere around the fourth
or fifth round his competitive juices take over and he begins
trying to win at all costs. The two men hurt each other
badly, and in the eighth round it’s anybody’s fight.
Bucky punches toe-to-toe with Lee, abandoning his strategy.
Lee knocks Bucky out.

INT. BUCKY’S BEDROOM – DAY

Bucky lies in bed, radio playing jazz. He looks horrible–
face swollen, lip split, stitches across his nose. He sips
whiskey from a bottle through a straw.

The phone rings and rings. He refuses to answer it…

INT. A REST HOME – ANOTHER DAY

Bucky, bruised but somewhat better, stands in the hallway of
a very nice rest home. He surreptitiously watches his father
as the old man tries to grab at a nurse.

EXT. THE REST HOME – MINUTES LATER

Pete Lukins waits outside on the porch for Bucky.

PETE
Well?

BUCKY
He’ll catch on soon enough.

The scene widens behind the two men and we see the sign on
the facility:

KING DAVID VILLA

Jewish stars adorn the sign.

INT. BUCKY’S APARTMENT – DAY

Bucky stands in front of his mirror clipping at his stitches
with scissors. He hears a voice outside his window.

VOICE OVER
Hey. Canvasback!

Bucky recognizes the voice and goes to the window.

EXT. THE COURTYARD – SAME

Lee Blanchard, his own bruises fading, stands in the yard.

LEE
You gonna hide in there another week?
Ain’t you bored yet?

BUCKY
Gettin’ there.

LEE
Wanna work Warrants with me?

BUCKY
What?

LEE
Harrell’s been callin’ to tell you. You
been hibernating–

BUCKY
But I lost. Loew’s deal–

LEE
Don’t you read the papers? The bond issue
passed yesterday. Want the job, partner?

Off Lee’s devilish grin:

VOICE OVER
Mister Fire. Mister Ice. The hero and the
snitch.

CUT TO:

INT. CENTRAL WARRANTS – MORNING

A door marked “DETECTIVE’S MUSTER ROOM”. Bucky, wearing his
best SPORTS COAT AND SLACKS, pushes through the door.

INSIDE THE MUSTER ROOM

Full of the LAPD’s plainclothes hotshots. All stand and give
Bucky a standing ovation. Lee’s there, too, playing to the
crowd.

On the blackboard at the front of the room: 8%!!!

CAPTAIN JACK TIERNEY is at the podium.

TIERNEY
(as introduction)
Officer Bleichert, the men of Central
Dicks, Homicide, Ad Vice, Bunco, et
cetera. I’m Captain Jack Tierney. You and
Lee are the white men of the hour, so I
hope you enjoyed your ovation. You won’t
get another one until you retire.

Everyone laughs. Tierney raps the podium and speaks again.

TIERNEY (cont’d)
Enough horseshit. This is the felony
summary for the week ending November 14,
1946. First, three liquor store
stickups…

Tierney begins the summary as Bucky’s eyes wander around the
room, taking in his new surroundings… Older men, coats and
ties… He tunes back in…

TIERNEY (cont’d)
And here’s a collar’d please Cap’n Jack
to no end. Sergeants Vogel, Koenig, have
you read the SID memos on the Bunker Hill
burglaries?

FRITZ VOGEL AND BILL KOENIG, both hulking and unpleasant-
looking (Fritzie being the elder version of his son Johnny).
The two men shake their heads “no”. Tierney disapproves.

TIERNEY (cont’d)
Set of latents at the last break-in ID’s
one Maynard Coleman, two sodomy priors. A
surefire baby raper. Highland Park’s got
four child sodomy unsolveds. Maybe he’s
our boy, maybe not. But between that and
the B&E’s I’d put Maynard as a high
priority lamster right now. There’s a
list of his known associates on the
bulletin board. Let’s all take a look…

INT. THE MUSTER ROOM – LATER

The meeting’s breaking up. A tall, elegant man (RUSS MILLARD)
and a squat disheveled man (HARRY SEARS) approach Bucky.

RUSS MILLARD
(introducing himself)
Russ Millard, homicides. Wife and kids
thank you for the raise, Officer.

Bucky smiles a dumb smile, not knowing what to say.

RUSS MILLARD (cont’d)
(re the other man)
My partner, Harry Sears.

HARRY
(stuttering)
Y-y-y-yes. Th-th-thanks Officer B-B-
Bleichert.

Before Bucky can answer ELLIS LOEW grabs him by the elbow and
leads him away.

ELLIS LOEW
Officer Bleichert. Welcome to Central
Warrants–

When he gets him out of ear shot:

ELLIS LOEW (cont’d)
You shouldn’t have slugged with him. You
were ahead on all three cards.

BUCKY
The proposition passed, sir.

ELLIS LOEW
Yes but some of your patron’s lost money.
Play things smarter here. Don’t blow this
like you blew the fight.

Bucky’s about to respond when Lee saves him–

LEE
Ready to roll, canvasback?

He grabs Bucky and they head out the door.

INT. LEE’S CAR – LATER

Lee cruises them through downtown, rambling about the job
description.

BUCKY
Why’d you really quit fighting?

He pulls the car into a parking lot of a Mexican restaurant.

LEE
(matter of fact)
Benny Siegel bought out my contract,
scared off my manager. Said he’d get me a
shot at Joe Louis if I’d take two dives
for him. I said no, joined the Department
‘cuz Jew syndicate boys won’t kill cops.
Anything else?

BUCKY
(as they exit the car)
One more. What are we doin’ here?

LEE
While you were dancing with Ellis at
muster I checked Maynard Coleman’s KA’s
on the bulletin and recognized the name
of a fence. Think he tends bar here…

INSIDE THE RESTAURANT

Lee and Bucky slide into a booth on either side of BRUNO
ALBANESE, halfway through plate of huevos rancheros.

LEE
Bruno Albanese?

BRUNO
Who wants to know?

LEE
Police officers, Bruno. Let’s make this
fast so I don’t have to watch you eat.

Lee slides the Maynard Coleman mug shot to Albanese.

LEE (cont’d)
We know he sells to you and we don’t
care. Where is he?

Albanese burps.

BRUNO
Never seen ‘em before.

Lee sighs. And then grabs Bruno by the back of the neck and
jams his face into the hot cheese and goo of his food.
Bruno’s arms flap back and forth as Lee drowns him in his
food.

Finally Lee shrugs and pulls Bruno’s face out of his food,
blood from his nose mixing with the grease of the enchiladas.

BRUNO
Versailles apartments. Sixth and St.
Andrews.

EXT. THE VERSAILLES APARTMENTS – MINUTES LATER

Lee and Bucky pull up and look for a parking spot just as
MAYNARD COLEMAN trots down the front stairs and gets into a
car.

BUCKY
Right there!

They ease the car back into traffic and follow Coleman’s car
from a safe distance. Bucky picks up the two-way radio. Lee
gestures for him to put it back:

Coleman’s pulling into the parking lot of THE POLAR PALACE,
an ICE SKATING RINK. They follow.

Coleman exits his car, eyeing a group of kids carrying ice
skates and heading into the Polar Palace. He follows them
inside…

The two men follow…

INSIDE THE POLAR PALACE

Children skate around on the ice with a giant polar bear
suit. Lee and Bucky scan the area–not an adult in sight. Lee
spots some stairs leading to the restrooms and gestures to
Bucky, who hustles down them.

ON THE STAIRCASE

Maynard Coleman, carrying a stuffed bunny rabbit, walks up
the stairs toward Bucky. Just as the two men pass Bucky PULLS
HIS GUN and puts it to Coleman’s head.

BUCKY
Police officer. You’re under arrest.

Coleman throws his hands in the air; the bunny drops to the
ground. Bucky cuffs Coleman and leads him up the stairs as
Lee comes down from above.

A small voice from below Bucky:

VOICE OVER
Let go of him! Let go of him!

Bucky looks down to see A SMALL BOY pounding on his leg. The
kid’s hysterical.

BOY
Let go a my daddy! Daddy!

The resemblance is unmistakable. Two generations of Okie
white trash. Bucky continues marching Coleman the elder up
the stairs as Lee snags the kid, both the father and the son
crying like babies.

INT. THE HALL OF JUSTICE JAIL – LATER

Lee and Bucky fill out a release form for the desk officer.

Bucky looks up to see BILL KOENIG and FRITZ VOGEL march by
with barely a nod.

LEE
They got here fast.
(off Bucky’s look)
The confession.

INT. CENTRAL WARRANTS – LATER

Lee finishes typing up a report on a manual typewriter while
Bucky talks on the phone. He hangs up as Fritz Vogel and Bill
Koenig return.

LEE (cont’d)
(re the two meatheads)
Play nice. They’ve got juice with Loew.

KOENIG
(stupid and proud)
He confessed. Kiddie porks and the
burglaries. Fritzie says we’re all
getting commendations.

Bucky’s POV: both Koenig and Vogel have small bits of
blood spattered on their white dress shirts.

VOGEL
Ellis loves the kid angle.

LEE
You talk to Ellis?

VOGEL
He’s only “Ellis” to lieutenants on up,
Blanchard.

LEE
Least I don’t call him “kike”.

VOGEL
(flushing)
C’mon, Billy.

The two men push by with barely a nod in Bucky’s direction.
BUCKY
Play nice. Hm.

LEE
Shitbirds.

HARRY SEARS approaches their cubicle. He looks a little
drunk. (And when you get to know him you’ll realize that when
he’s drunk he doesn’t stutter.)

HARRY
Russ says good collar today.

The men nod thanks. Bucky notes the lack of stutter and the
presence of a liquor smell.

HARRY (cont’d)
And Lee–I heard something you oughta
know–I was over at County Parole–Bobby
DeWitt got an “A” number. He’ll be
released to LA around mid-January.

Lee bobs his head slightly as Harry moves off. He’s disturbed
but covers quickly–

LEE
You like pot roast?

EXT. A BEAUTIFUL DECO HOME – NIGHT

Lee leads Bucky up the walk. Bucky’s impressed with the house.

LEE
Don’t say anything to Kay about DeWitt.
It’ll upset her.

INT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

A doll’s house of Danish Modern furniture, fresh flowers and
polished mahogany wainscoting.

BUCKY
You takin’ bribes, partner?

LEE
Fight stash.

Kay arrives from the kitchen, smiling broadly at Bucky. She
takes his hand.

KAY
Hello, Dwight. Glad you could make it.

And holds his hand about two beats than usual…

INT. THE DINING ROOM – LATER

Kay brings in the food. Bucky walks around the room, checking
things out.

FAY
Fairy tale come true, isn’t it?

BUCKY
Hm?

FAY
The house. You and Lee partners. Fairy
tale.

BUCKY
Can’t say I believe in fairy tales.

KAY
Then you’ve never really had to. Lucky
man. (beat) Lee! Dinner!

INT. THE DINING ROOM – LATER

The food is finished. So is a bottle of champagne. Kay pops
another one, hitting Lee in the chest with the cork. Everyone
laughs hysterically. They fill the glasses again.

LEE
A toast…To Proposition B!

BUCKY
To the Bleichert/Blanchard rematch!
Bigger than Louis/Schmeling!

KAY
To fairy tales!

BUCKY
(abruptly, drunk)
To…us!

He’s referring to all three of them–something which doesn’t
escape or displease anyone. They clink glasses and drink.

ANOTHER LAPD TRIPLE CARBON INCIDENT REPORT:

JANUARY 10, 1947…Raymond “Junior” Nash…

INT. ELLIS LOEW’S OFFICE – MORNING

Lee and Bucky enter the Loew’s inner sanctum where they are
joined by Russ Millard and Harry Sears. A stack of L.A.

Heralds sit on the desk, the top one folded to the headline:
“Criminal Division’s DA to try for Boss’s Job in ’48
Primary?”

Bucky’s look of disgust says it all just as Loew walks into
the room–

LEE
Goin’ into politics, Ellis? Give us a
quote. (as FDR) “The only thing to fear
is fear itself.”

Loew smiles thinly and hands over a photo and a rap sheet.

ELLIS LOEW
Here’s the man to fear.

ANGLE ON THE MUG SHOT AND RAP SHEET:

RAYMOND “JUNIOR” NASH: Statutory raps, armed robbery,
felony mayhem…Texas State Prison…Alcatraz…

The cops are impressed.

BUCKY
Give us the good news. He’s in LA and
actin’ uppity?

ELLIS LOEW
Witnesses made him at a stickup near
Leimert Park over the weekend. Pistol-
whipped an old lady. She died about an
hour ago.

RUSS MILLARD
Anything common in the sex beefs?

ELLIS LOEW
Negro girls. Young ones. All the
complainants have been colored.

LEE
Seeya in Leimert Park.

As they walk out…

ELLIS LOEW
Sergeant Blanchard? Try not to kill the
man. I’d like to do it in court.

Lee flashes a demon smile.

EXT. CRENSHAW BOULEVARD – DAY – LATER

A montage of shots as Lee and Bucky cruise south on Crenshaw
Boulevard. The beginning of the post-war boom.

VOICE OVER
From November through the New Year, Lee
and I captured a total of eleven hard
felons, eighteen traffic warrantees and
three parole and probation absconders…

On Crenshaw’s northern end, once grand and now dilapidated
houses in the process of demolition, their faces replaced by
giant billboards advertising department stores, jumbo
shopping centers and movie theaters.

VOICE OVER
After tours of duty, Lee and I would go
to the house and find Kay. Sometimes she
made dinner for us, other times the three
of us would go dancing, or see a flick.

Southbound, older wooden structures looking more and more
unkempt. Empty lots…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Always she’d be there, never in between
us, but always in the middle. It was the
best time of my life.

EXT./INT. THE CAR – A FILLING STATION – CONTINUOUS

Lee pulls the car into the parking lot. Jumping out of the
car–

LEE
This grand tour stuff’s for shit. I’m
callin’ in some favors.

He heads to a payphone and beings pumping coins into it.

BACK IN THE CAR – MINUTES LATER

Lee gets back in the car. He’s pale, sweating.

LEE
Got a tip. Snitch a mine says he’s
shacking with some poon in a crib near
Slauson and Hoover.

BUCKY
It’s all colored down there–

LEE
We fuckin’ roll.

He pulls out.

CUT TO:

EXT./INT. THE CAR – HOOVER AVE – MINUTES LATER

Lee and Bucky roll up on four men loitering on a corner.
Three are black and one is white.

LEE
Hopheads. Let’s shake ‘em for an address
or a name.

As Lee and Bucky exit the car, the four men immediately start
the slow walk to the wall, arms over their heads. The white
guy glances at Lee:

WHITE HOPHEAD
What the—Blanchard?

LEE
Shut up, shitbird.

Lee pushes him closer to the wall and starts frisking him.
Bucky starts with one of the other men, pulling out some
marijuana cigarettes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Bucky sees the black man
closest to Lee reaches for something shiny in his belt–

BUCKY
Partner!

Bucky pulls his .38…

THE WHITE GUY swings around and LEE SHOOTS HIM twice in the
face–

THE FIRST BLACK MAN pulls a SHIV free and BUCKY SHOOTS HIM in
the neck–

ANOTHER OF THE MEN goes for his trousers, fumbling for
something as BUCKY SHOOTS HIM THREE TIMES.

LEE
Bucky duck!

Bucky hits the cement and gets an upside down view of Lee and
the last man drawing guns on each other–Lee’s three shots
cutting down the man before he can fire his tiny derringer.

Bucky pulls himself to his feet, stumbling past the blood-
covered sidewalk and vomits in the gutter.

FROM THE DISTANCE: THE SOUND OF SIRENS.

Bucky pulls out his badge and pins it to his jacket pocket.
Behind him, Lee is busy turning the dead men’s pockets inside
out–scattering shivs and reefers onto the sidewalk away from
the blood.

All the while Lee cries like a baby.

INT. THE 77TH ST. DETECTIVES’ STATION – LATER

Bucky and a Detective exit a de-briefing room. Bucky looks
worn but composed.

DETECTIVE
Thank you for your time, Officer. And
your police work, as well.

They pass another de-briefing area where Lee sits with
another Detective. Lee looks terrible, muttering and
shivering.

DETECTIVE (cont’d)
Your partner’s taking this hard.

BUCKY
He knew one of the guys. Baxter Fitch.
Busted him once for loitering. Sort of
liked the guy.

The detective nods sympathetically.

EXT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Lee and Bucky walk up the front steps where they’re met by
Kay. She runs to Lee and embraces him.

KAY
Oh baby. Oh babe.

She escorts him into the house. Bucky sees a newspaper on the
front porch railing. The evening edition of The Mirror.

“Boxer Cops in Gun Battle. Four Crooks Dead.”

Publicity boxing photos accompany a full-page article. Bucky
begins to read it when he hears from inside:

LEE
Leave me alone! You’ll never fucking
understand–

A door slam. Soon after the sound of Lee’s motorcycle roaring
off… After a beat Kay comes outside and sits down next to
Bucky.

BUCKY
He knew one of the guys.

She nods.

BUCKY (cont’d)
It was them or us.

She nods again.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Tomorrow’s off-duty so treat him nice–

KAY
Bobby DeWitt gets out in a week, Dwight.
We’re on edge. He swore at the trial he
was going to kill Lee.

BUCKY
We can take care of Bobby DeWitt.

KAY
Lee’s scared. You don’t know Bobby.

BUCKY
I know as much as I need to know.

Kay gives him a look: that’s what you think. She gets up and
goes inside. Not knowing what to do, Bucky continues reading
the paper.

INT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – LATER

Bucky wanders inside, obviously fidgety and not wanting to go
home. He putters around their living room. From the back of
the house Bucky hears the sound of A SHOWER RUNNING.

Bucky walks back to the bathroom, drawn there by the sound of
the drumming water. The bathroom door is open, an invitation.

He stops at the threshold of the bathroom. His POV:

Kay stands in the shower, curtain open for Bucky’s benefit.
She faces him and he takes in the view of her nakedness.

Her attitude is not one of seduction, however, her expression
passive and fixed even when their eyes meet. She pirouettes
for him, showing:

A SERIES OF OLD KNIFE SCARS CRISS-CROSSING HER BACK FROM
THIGH TO SPINE.

The history of Bobby DeWitt.

Bucky backs away, retreating as he chokes back tears.

INT. BUCKY’S APARTMENT – MORNING

Bucky’s awakened by the phone ringing. He pulls the receiver
off the cradle but leaves it on the nightstand. From the
receiver he barely hears:

LEE
Rise and shine partner!

Bucky grabs the phone.

BUCKY
Lee? You okay?

LEE
Sure. Ran Mulholland at a hundred and
ten. Played house with Kay all day
yesterday. Feel like doing some police
work?

BUCKY
Keep going.

LEE
Junior Nash’s got a fuck pad on Norton
and Coliseum.

EXT. THE CORNER OF COLISEUM AND NORTON – SOON AFTER

Bucky and Lee pull up to a mangy apartment building.

INT. RAYMOND NASH’S ROOM – SOON AFTER

They push the door open to reveal a filthy little flop
littered with muscatel short dogs and used rubbers.

LEE
Okie trash.

They poke around for a minute, finding nothing. The smell is
awful. Bucky goes to a window and pulls it open.

HIS POV OUT THE WINDOW:

IN A VACANT LOT ACROSS THE WAY

A cluster of uniformed cops and men in civilian clothes stare
at something in the weeds. A CORONER’S VAN parks next to
three black and whites and two detectives’ sedans.

BUCKY
Lee.

Lee goes to the window.

LEE
Is that Millard and Sears?

An LAPD PHOTO VAN pulls up next.

Lee and Bucky sprint out of the room.

EXT. THE VACANT LOT – 39TH AND NORTON – SECONDS LATER

Photo men have already begun fanning out and taking photos.
Bucky sees Harry Sears take a shot from a hip flask in full
view of other officers. Lee and Bucky elbow their way to the
front and see:

The nude, mutilated body of a young woman, cut in half at the
waist. Another wide cut down her center reveal an empty
cavity–her organs have been removed.

Her face has been bashed in and her mouth cut ear to ear in a
leering smile.

Even the experienced cops are rattled by the scene. They
point and whisper and generally begin to fall into disbelief
and disorder when

RUSS MILLARD

whistles harshly with his fingers in his mouth.

RUSS MILLARD
Before this gets out of hand let’s put
the kibosh on something. If this gets a
lot of publicity we’re going to get a lot
of confessions. So we keep some things
quiet. This girl was disemboweled. You
keep this information to yourselves. Not
your wives, not your girlfriends, no
other officers.

The men all nod, coming together as Millard takes control.

RUSS MILLARD (cont’d)
No reporters view the body. You photo
men, take your pictures now. Coroner’s
men, you put a sheet on the body as soon
as they’re done. Set up a perimeter six
feet back. Any reporter crosses it,
arrest him.
(noticing Bucky)
Bleichert. What are you doing here?
Where’s Blanchard?

Bucky indicates Lee, crouched down by the body taking notes.

BUCKY
Nash is renting a room in that building
over there.

RUSS MILLARD
Blood on the premises?

BUCKY
No. This isn’t him.

RUSS MILLARD
The lab’ll be the judge of that.

Millard and Bucky look dawn the street to see cars swinging
onto Norton, beelining for the commotion. Reporters and
photographers begin pouring out of their cars, quickly coming
up against a line of cops keeping them from the body.

Bucky makes his way over to Lee, unable to stop staring at
the body.

BUCKY
Hey. Junior Nash, remember?

LEE
He didn’t do this.

BUCKY
No. He beat an old woman to death. That’s
why he’s our priority warrantee.

LEE
Not anymore.

BUCKY
This ain’t ours, partner–

LEE
(on edge)
It is now, partner.

EXT. THE CRIME SCENE – LATER

Too sheet-covered stretchers are shoved into the coroner’s
wagon. The doors slam shut and the car pulls away.

CUT TO:

RUSS MILLARD DIVIDING A STREET ATLAS INTO FOOTBEATS

as fifteen officers (including Lee and Bucky) wait for their
assignment.

A MONTAGE OF QUESTIONING

Cops ring doorbells throughout Leimert Park:

OFFICER
(to an old woman)
Have you heard female screams…

BUCKY
(to an off-duty serviceman)
…anyone discarding women’s clothing?

LEE
(to a little kid)
…seen anyone in the lot on 39th…

BUCKY
(to a housewife)
…and what about this man?
(holds out a photo of Junior
Nash)

To all of these questions a big fat “no”.

INT. THE OLYMPIC BOXING ARENA – NIGHHT

Bucky watches two Mexican bantamweights beat each other
bloody. An EMPTY SEAT next to him. Irritated, he gets up and
leaves.

ENT. 39TH AND NORTON – NIGHT – LATER

Bucky gets out of his car and finds Lee standing inside the
crime scene rope watching lab techs poke around in the weeds.
The entire area is lit up by arclights, illuminating the two
quicklime outlines of the body parts.

BUCKY
You were supposed to meet me at the
fights tonight, remember?

LEE
Priority. Remember.

BUCKY
Priority for the Bureau. Not for us.

LEE
Nice white girl gets snuffed. Gotta show
the voters they did the right thing
passing the bond issue. It’s a showcase.
It’s A-plus, Buck. We don’t miss this.

BUCKY
We’ve had enough headlines for the week.

Lee points to the body outline. His hand shakes a bit and
maybe for the first time we sense he’s wired on something.

LEE
With or without you, partner.

Bucky shakes his head and begins walking away.

LEE (cont’d)
With or without you.

BUCKY
I heard you.

INT. THE SQUAD ROOM – NEXT DAY

Bucky enters a mob scene. One cop holds up a front page
headline: “Hunt Werewolf’s Den in Torture Slaying”

Along a bench, five derelict-looking men are manacled to a
bench. A cop walks by, notes Bucky’s confusion:

OFFICER
Confessors.

Just then the interrogation room door opens and Bill Koenig
leads a doubled-over fat man out of the door.

KOENIG
He didn’t do it.

A couple officers clap satirically at their desks.

BUCKY
(to another cop)
Blanchard?

OFFICER
In with Loew.(beat) And reporters.

Off Bucky’s concerned look we

CUT TO:

INT. ELLIS LOEW’S OFFICE – MORNING

Bucky walks in to see Loew holding a press conference, Lee
dressed in a suit and sitting at his side.

ELLIS LOEW
…and the heinous nature of this killing
makes it imperative to catch this fiend
as soon as possible. A number of
specially trained officers, including Mr.
Fire and his partner Mr. Ice…

ON BUCKY’S FACE

Disbelief. Disgust.

BACK IN THE WARRANTS CUBICLE – LATER

Lee catches up with a pissed off Bucky.

BUCKY
You got us detached?

LEE
Slow and easy, Bucky. First I gave Loew a
memo saying Nash blew our jurisdiction–

BUCKY
You did what?

LEE
It’s all right. The APB still stands.
We’ve got the pad staked. He’s covered.

Bucky’s face says he’s not sold on Lee’s reasoning.

LEE (cont’d)
One week. Just one week. After that, it’s
back to Junior. I promise.

Bucky studies Lee’s resolve; he relents.

LEE (cont’d)
Copacetic.

CUT TO:

INT. PATHOLOGY ROOM – LATER

Antiseptic white with metallic slab tables. Two objects
covered in sheets lay on the table.

Bucky, Lee, Russ Millard and Harry Sears sit on benches
facing the table. THE CORONER and a STENOGRAPHER NUN stand
over the body. The coroner pulls the sheets off.

LEE
Jesus, Bucky.

CORONER
On gross pathology, we have a female
Caucasian between sixteen and thirty.
Cadaver is presented in two halves with
bisection level with the umbilicus.

The nun scribbles furiously to keep up. The officers are torn
between staring at their shoes and at the body.

CORONER (cont’d)
…Through-and through laceration from
both mouth corners…no visible signs of
neck bruises…massive depressed skull
fractures…Inspection of upper half
abdominal cavity reveals no free-flowing
blood. Intestines, stomach, liver and
spleen removed.

The doctor stops to allow the nun time to catch up. Russ
Millard clears his throat.

RUSS MILLARD
Is it…all right to smoke, doctor?

CORONER
She’s not going to mind.

Both Russ and Harry light up.

CORONER (cont’d)
Lower half of the cadaver reveals removal
of reproductive organs…Both legs broken
at the knee, and healing, light lash
marks on the upper back and shoulders…

The door opens and a police officer enters, handing a sheet
of paper to Millard and speaking to him briefly. Millard
reads the sheet and hands it to Harry, who then hands it to
Lee.

LEE
(reading)
Bingo.

He hands it to Bucky.

The note: “Girl ID’d as Elizabeth Ann Short, DOB
7/29/24, Medford, Mass.”

The coroner steps back from the table.

CORONER
Questions?

RUSS MILLARD
What’s your best guess?

CORONER
Here’s what she wasn’t. She wasn’t raped,
she wasn’t pregnant, dried semen
indicates voluntary intercourse within
the last week…She took what I’d call a
gentle whipping in the last ten days…In
terms of the nitty-gritty…She was
probably tortured with a knife for thirty-
six to forty-eight hours before death.
The cause of which is either the mouth
wound or more likely she was beaten to
death with something like a baseball bat.

LEE
What about her insides?

CORONER
They came out after death. Then I’d say
he drained the blood from the body and
washed it clean, probably in a bathtub.

LEE
Did the guy know anything about medicine
or anatomy?

CORONER
Maybe. Probably not a surgeon type–but
that doesn’t rule out veterinary
training, biological training, or my
Pathology for Beginners class at UCLA.
Has she got a name yet?

The cops look to each other, hesitant to speak her name.

RUSS MILLARD
Elizabeth Short.

CORONER
(saluting heaven)
God love you, Elizabeth.
(to Millard)
Russell, when you get the son of a bitch
who did this to her, give him a kick in
the balls and tell him it’s from
Frederick D. Newbarr, M.D. Now all of you
get out of here, I’ve got a date with a
jumper suicide in ten minutes.

INT. CENTRAL DIVISION BULLPEN – LATER

Jack Tierney posts mug shots of Elizabeth Short as Russ,
Harry, Lee and Bucky look over his shoulder. (In the
background we can hear the by-now constant droning of Ellis
Loew to reporters, both in person and over the phone)

CAPTAIN JACK
Cops popped her in ’43. Santa Barbara.
Underage drinking. Other than that she’s
clean. Four sisters. Parents divorced.
Father’s here in LA. Hear he sold some
old portrait photos of her to the Herald.

Russ makes a noise of disgust.

RUSS MILLARD
How many confessions so far?

CAPTAIN JACK
Eighteen.

RUSS MILLARD
Double that by morning. More if Loew got
the press excited with his purple prose.

LOEW
(he’s been eavesdropping)
I’d say my prose fits the crime,
Lieutenant.

Reveal Loew with Koenig and Fritz Vogel behind him.

RUSS MILLARD
Too much publicity is a hindrance, Ellis.
If you were a policeman you’d know that.

Loew flushes and gives Millard a dark look.

ELLIS LOEW
(to Tierney)
Captain have you sent men to talk to the
victim’s father?

CAPTAIN JACK
Not yet, Ellis.

ELLIS LOEW
How about Vogel and Koenig?

Tierney looks to Millard. The second in command shakes his
head ever so slightly. We understand that even though he’s
second in command to Jack he’s in charge.

CAPTAIN JACK
Aaah, Russ, who do you think we should
send?

CUT TO:

EXT. WILSHIRE DISTRICT – DUSK

A garage apartment at the rear of a big Victorian house. Lee
and Bucky amble up and ring the buzzer.

A skinny man (CLEO SHORT) in his fifties opens the door,
eyeing them narrowly.

CLEO SHORT
Cops, huh?

He leads them inside. The apartment resembles its resident,
soiled, worn and ugly.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
I’ve got an alibi, just in case you think
I did it. Tighter than a crab’s ass, and
that is air tight.

The two cops sit down, sizing up his hostility.

BUCKY
I’m Detective Bleichert, Mr. Short. This
is Sergeant Blanchard. We’d like to
express our condolences for the loss of
your daughter.

CLEO SHORT
I know who you are. Neither of you’da
lasted a round with Gentleman Jim
Jeffries.
(beat) As for Betty, c’est la vie. She
called the tune, she paid the piper.
(beat) You wanna hear my alibi?

LEE
Since you’re so anxious to tell it.

CLEO SHORT
Johnny on the spot at my job. Twenty-
seven straight hours. Refrigerator
repairman. Twenty-seven straight and the
last seventeen overtime. Call my boss.
He’ll alibi me up tighter than a popcorn
fart, and that’s air tight.

BUCKY
When was the last time you saw your
daughter?

CLEO SHORT
Betty came west in ’43 with stars in her
eyes. I promised her three squares and a
five-spot if she kept the house tidy.

The cops look around at the squalor.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
Gave her the boot in July. She moved to
Santa Barbara. Sent me a postcard couple
weeks later. Some soldier beat her up
bad. Last I heard from her.

BUCKY
Was that soldier her boyfriend?

The old man lets out a hoot.

CLEO SHORT
They were all her boyfriends! Not so ugly
and wearing a uniform, can’t go wrong
there. Betty believed in quantity before
quality.

LEE
You calling your own daughter a tramp?

CLEO SHORT
Got five daughters. One bad apple ain’t
so bad.

Lee’s about to burst. Bucky motions for him to take a walk.
Lee goes through the den into the bathroom. From his view
Bucky can see Lee chase a couple pills with a glass of
water…

BUCKY
Any names, Mr. Short?

CLEO SHORT
Tom, Dick, Harry. Don’t matter.
(he drifts for a moment)
Said she was looking for movie work
but…just paraded the Boulevard in those
black get-ups of hers.

Lee returns to the room.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
Who wouldn’t get herself killed doin’
that? Who? Who wouldn’t?

EXT. CLEO SHORT’S APARTMENT – MINUTES LATER

The two men walk out, disgusted.

LEE
Jesus fuck. We just got handed the entire
U.S. Armed forces as suspects.

BUCKY
Flip to see who writes it up?

LEE
I’m staking Nash’s pad for the night. See
if we get any strange drive-bys at the
murder sight. Do me a favor and drop in
on Kay. She’s worried about me.

BUCKY
She’s a smart woman.

INT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Bucky opens the front door to find Kay reading a book on the
couch. She doesn’t even look up.

KAY
Hi, Dwight.

BUCKY
How’d you know it was me?

KAY
Lee stomps, you tread lightly.

Bucky appreciates her subtext.

BUCKY
Lee’s–

KAY
Let me guess…Lee’s up all night–
probably on Benzedrine again–working
that poor girl’s murder–

She says this as fact, not judgement. She knows him.

KAY
You’re worried about him. And he’s
worried about me.
(beat)
But who’s worried about you? Is that left
for me?

BUCKY
No need for that.

KAY
For such a cautious man you’re quite a
hardcase.

BUCKY
It’s just…He’s done a lot for me.

Kay smiles, sweeps her arms around the perfect living room as
if to reinforce to Bucky all Lee’s done for her.

The point is not lost on him.

She crosses to him and kisses him softly on the cheek.

KAY (cont’d)
Good night.

INT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Bucky sits at their kitchen table, eating a ham sandwich with
a glass of milk and filling out the police reports.

INT. THE HOMICIDE BULLPEN – MORNING

Bucky walks in reading the Herald front page: A picture of
Elizabeth Short in a striking black dress. Underneath:”The
Black Dahlia”.

He stops at a room where two detectives are sorting through
a steamer trunk full of letters and assorted personal effects.

RUSS MILLARD (O.S.)
(re trunk)
Found it in storage down at the railway.
Carbons of mash notes to sailors.
Hundreds of ‘em.

Bucky shows him the newspaper.

RUSS MILLARD
Thank our friend Bevo Means at the
Herald. Bevo’s painting Betty and her
black dress like some actress in that
Alan Ladd movie, The Blue Dahlia. Should
triple our confessions.

BUCKY
Great.

RUSS MILLARD (cont’d)
Hollywood will fuck you when no else
will. What do you think?

BUCKY
I think I want to go back to Warrants.

RUSS MILLARD
No dice. You’re a bright penny and I want
you here.
(hands him a piece of paper)
Betty’s last known residences and KA’s.
Go to University Station and pick up Bill
Koenig. Fritzie’s sick. Keep Bill on a
tight leash, and you write the report
because Billy’s practically illiterate.

BUCKY
Lieutenant–

RUSS MILLARD
Call me Russ and get out of here.

Millard gestures for him to leave.

EXT. AN APARTMENT HOUSE – LATER

Bucky and Koenig walk up to the steps of an apartment house.

BUCKY
How do you want to play this, Sarge?

KOENIG
Fritzie usually does the talking and I
stand back up.
(re a leather sap in his belt)
Muscle job?

BUCKY
Let’s try talk job.

Bucky checks names on the doorbells against a couple names on
his piece of paper. He stops at “S. Saddon”.

INT. THE HALLWAY UPSTAIRS – LATER

Bucky knocks on the door.

BUCKY
Miss Saddon?

A young woman dressed in a metallic Egyptian costume opens
the door.

SHERYL
You the driver from RKO?

BUCKY
Police.

The woman shuts the door. Seconds later the TOILET FLUSHES.
She returns and opens it again.

SHERYL
If this is about those jaywalking–

BUCKY
It’s about Elizabeth Short.

SHERYL
I did all this on the phone this morning.
Nine thousand questions about Betty’s
nine thousand boyfriends and I don’t
remember any of the names. Can I go now?
The extras truck is due any minute.

BUCKY
How about you sit dawn and answer my
questions or I bust you for the reefer
you flushed.

She lets him in and sits defiantly.

BUCKY (cont’d)
First question. Does a…
(re to his paper)
Linda Martin or a Marjorie Graham live
here?

SHERYL
That’s Betty’s other place. DeLongpre and
Orange.

BUCKY
She moved around quite a bit. You know
why? Was somebody threatening her?

SHERYL
Betty’s problem wasn’t enemies. It was
too many friends.

BUCKY
I’ve gathered that. Let’s change the
subject.

SHERYL
How ‘bout “the world of high finance”?

BUCKY (cont’d)
How about movies? You girls are all
tryin’ to break in, right?

SHERYL
(re her extras costume)
I’m in mister.

BUCKY
Congratulations. What about Betty?

SHERYL
Maybe once. Maybe not. ‘Round
Thanksgiving she showed up bragging about
gettin’ her big break…Had one of those
viewfinders around her neck? But who
knows where she really got it. Betty had
a tendency to–

BUCKY
…stretch the truth?

SHERYL
Lie.

A CAR HORN HONKS. Bucky walks to the window and looks
outside: A FLATBED TRUCK FULL OF CLEOPATRAS waits.

BUCKY
Your ride’s here–

But she’s already gone.

INT. THE CAR – MOVING – HOLLYWOOD – CONTINUOUS

They cruise to the next address.

KOENIG
What’d the cooze say ‘bout me?

Bucky just stares at him; the guy’s an idiot.

EXT./INT. DELONGPRE APARTMENT BUILDING – LATER

Two men lounge on the stoop. Koenig gives them the eye as he
passes.

Bucky checks his piece of paper against the doorbells again.
Finds “M. Graham” but no Linda Martin.

KOENIG
I’m bored.

BUCKY
This’ll just take a minute.

KOENIG
I’m gonna take those two guys outside.
Maybe they knew the cooze–

BUCKY
I’ll handle ‘em Sarge–

KOENIG
No! I’m gonna do it! (beat) Now what do I
roust ‘em about?

BUCKY
I dunno. Ask ‘em anything. Alibis. See if
Betty ever engaged in prostitution…

Koenig goes running outside. Bucky shakes his head.

INT. A COMMUNAL SITTING ROOM – LATER

Marjorie Graham sits on a couch with a dog-eared back issue
of Photoplay in her hands. She’s mild but well-traveled.

MARJORIE
…Betty had this gift, you see. She was
so sweet and eager to please…a bit
dumb, maybe. But she’d do anything to be
liked, become whatever you wanted her to
be. She’d walk like you, or talk like
you…but she wasn’t…she was still her.

BUCKY
Did she ever tell you she was in a movie?
Sometime around November?

MARJORIE
Sure. She had this viewfinder and showed
it around to all the guys. Said it was
from the director. A co-starring role.

BUCKY
Did she say what it was?

MARJORIE
Once she said it was for Fox. Another
time Paramount. I think she was just
fibbing. You know, for the boys.

BUCKY
Do you remember the names of any of the
guys?

MARJORIE
Don and Harold–sitting outside. She
dated both of ‘em once or twice. Other
than that…I just…didn’t really pay
attention to who she was with.

Marjorie looks down, fidgeting.

BUCKY
What is it? You can tell me.

MARJORIE
Well…Right before she moved out…l saw
her and Linda…

BUCKY
Linda Martin?

MARJORIE
Yeah. Her and Linda Martin–talking to
this older woman up on the Boulevard. She
had a man’s suit and short hair like a
man…Only that one time…

BUCKY
Are you saying the woman was a lesbian?

Marjorie nods yes.

Bucky’s about to press her for more when Bill Koenig barges
in, all sweaty.

KOENIG
Them guys talked. Said the stiff peddled
her twat when she got strapped bad. I
called it in. Mr. Loew said to keep it
zipped cuz it don’t look as good.

Bucky looks at Marjorie. Back to Koenig.

BUCKY
Take their statements, Bill. I’ve got a
little more here.

Bill disappears back to the porch.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Linda Martin’s room?

INT. LINDA MARTIN’S ROOM – LATER

Bucky pushes open the room and finds it empty. He checks the
closet. Empty.

Bucky runs his hand under the bed. Finds something and pulls
it out. A small red vinyl purse. He opens the purse. Inside
is an ID. He shows it to Marjorie.

MARJORIE
That’s her. God…She’s only fifteen.

BUCKY
(re card)
Lorna Martikova. Omaha, Nebraska.
Runaway. When’d you see her last?

MARJORIE
This morning. I told her I’d called the
police to come talk to us about Betty.
Was that the wrong thing to do?

BUCKY
You couldn’t have known.

EXT. THE APARTMENT COMPLEX – LATER

Bucky emerges. Koenig stands on the stoop with the two men,
both of whom look like they might have seen the wrong end of
Koenig’s less-than-subtle interrogation style.

KOENIG
(re the men)
They didn’t do it.

BUCKY
No shit Sherlock.

INT. AN ANONYMOUS CASTING OFFICE – DAY

Clapsticks come down in front of the camera: “Elizabeth
Short…Screen Test #1.”

Elizabeth Short sits on a tiny chair in a cheap office. She’s
dressed for an audition, overly made up and nervous.

MAN (O.S.)
Your name please?

ELIZABETH SHORT
Elizabeth Short. Betty. Beth…Elizabeth.

MAN (O.S)
Relax, Elizabeth.

She nods, can’t relax.

ELIZABETH SHORT
Sorry. Can we try it again?

MAN (O.S.)
We haven’t even started yet.

ELIZABETH SHORT
Oh.

FADE OUT.

INT. HOLLYWOOD STATION – LATER

Bucky fills out forms.

VOICE OVER
I used a Warrant cops special prerogative
and issued an APB on Lorna Martikova aka
Linda Martin. I wrote up my day’s report,
omitting Marjorie Graham’s lead on the
old dyke. I didn’t need Ellis Loew
quashing it along with the skinny on
Betty as the part-time prostie.

EXT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Bucky pulls up in front of the house. Heads inside…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
To be honest, I’d pretty much overdosed
on Betty Short’s low-rent last months on
earth and decided to kiss off the rest of
the day and head to Lee and Kay’s for a
sandwich.

CUT TO:

CLOSE-UPS OF BLACK DAHLIA CRIME SCENE PHOTOS

spread out on Lee and Kay’s dining room table.

Bucky stands just inside the door watching Lee study the
photos, Kay a pace or two back, smoking nervously. Neither of
them seem to notice him. Finally Kay sees him:

KAY
Hi, Dwight.

LEE
(wired)
It ain’t a random job. Horseshit. Guy who
did this…hated her. Bad. Wanted the
whole goddamn world to know. Babe, you
took pre-Med, whattya think? Mad doctor?

KAY
Lee, Dwight’s here.

LEE
Oh, hey partner. Bucky listen to Kay.
Babe’s got ideas. Good stuff–

KAY
This kind of theorizing’s nonsense, but
I’ll give you a theory if you’ll eat
something to calm yourself down.

LEE
Theory on, teach.

KAY
Well. Just a guess. But maybe there were
two killers. Because the torture cuts are
crude, while the bisection and the cut on
the abdomen are neat and clean…

CLOSE ON: Lee’s face, somehow both intense and unfocused…

VOICE OVER
Three days ‘til Bobby De Witt hit LA.
Three days since we killed four men.

BACK ON: BUCKY, who turns on his heels and exits, catching
Kay’s eye as he goes.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Maybe nobody cared. Maybe they cared too
much.

EXT. 39TH AND NORTON – DUSK – LATER

Bucky cruises by the crime scene. Rubberneckers gawk around
the vacant lot while vendors peddle greasy food and cheap
portrait glossies of the Dahlia in a black dress.

INT. CENTRAL DIVISION BULLPEN – BUCKY’S DESK – NIGHT

Bucky sits at his desk staring at RAYMOND NASH’S MUGSHOT.

HIS EYES DRIFT TO:

A WAGER POOL SIGN-UP LIST POSTED ON THE WALL: a crude felt
craps table with various betting spaces: “Solved–2 to 1”,
“Random Sex Job–4 to 1”, “Uhsolved–Even Money”,
“Boyfriend(s)–l to 4″…

Next to it are TWO HALVES OF A BLACK DRESS on separate
hangers…a crude joke.

Bucky opens up his desk drawer and drops the Nash mugshot
inside. He dials the phone:

BUCKY
Administrative Vice Squad?

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE SWANK SPOT LOUNGE – THE VALLEY – NIGHT

Bucky pulls his car up to a low-slung building with a log-
cabin facade and swinging Western doors. He enters.

INT. THE SWANK SPOT LOUNGE – CONTINUOUS

A dimly lit LESBIAN BAR. Butch women in GI khakis mix with
soft girls in cashmere skirt suits.

Bucky approaches a bartender. The woman sizes him up and
slides him a whiskey.

BARTENDER
Beverage Control?

BUCKY
(downing the whiskey)
LAPD Homicide.

BARTENDER
Who got snuffed?

Bucky slides her a photo of the Dahlia and Linda Martin’s ID.

BUCKY
Seen either of ‘em?

BARTENDER
Huh. The Dahlia’s a sister?

BUCKY
You tell me.

BARTENDER
Never seen her ‘cept in the papers. And
the little schoolgirl twist I’ve never
seen. We don’t truck with underaged
stuff. Capice?

BUCKY
Capice when your girls tell me that.

CUT TO:

INT. THE BAR – SOON AFTER

as the photos are passed from patron to patron. Aside from a
few raised eyebrows over the Dahlia, nothing to indicate
anyone knows anything.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. A DIFFERENT LESBIAN BAR – LATER

This time an Olde English motif. Bucky sips another free
whiskey as a dozen more women pass the photos around. Bucky
watches their reactions closely but doesn’t see anything out
of the ordinary.

He takes another shot of whiskey and heads out the door.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LAVERNE’S HIDEWAY – LATER

A tropical motif. Faux bamboo wrap-around booths shield women
snuggled deep into the dark corners.

A bit buzzed and embarrassed to have to go booth to booth and
break up couples, Bucky slowly makes his way around the bar
with the two photos. More of the same…

He approaches a woman polishing glasses at the bar. Slides
over the photos.

BUCKY
Black Dahlia.

BARTENDER
No shit.

He taps a finger onto Linda Martin’s ID.

BUCKY
What about this girl?

The bartender picks up the card and squints at it. Bucky sees
a flicker of recognition in her eyes. She hesitates–

BARTENDER
Never seen her.

He leans over the counter.

BUCKY
Don’t you fuckin’ lie to me. She’s
fifteen fucking years old. So you come
clean or I slap a contributing beef on
you, and you spend the next five years
servin’ raisinjack to bulldykes in
Tehachapi.

The bartender looks again at the ID card.

BARTENDER
A couple times. Two, three months ago.
Just to cadge drinks off the sisters,
though. She liked boys, I’m sure. And not
the Dahlia. Never.

Out of his peripheral vision Bucky sees another woman just
starting to sit down on a bar stool but at the last minute,
change her mind and make for the door.

A baby spotlight catches her face; a fleeting resemblance to
Elizabeth Short.

Bucky takes a deep breath, counts to ten and then goes out
after the woman.

EXT. THE PARKING LOT – CONTINUOUS

The woman gets into a beautiful snow-white Packard.

CUT TO:

SHOTS OF VARIOUS STREETS – NIGHT – CONTINUOUS

as Bucky tails the white Packard from three car-lengths back.
He follows her all the way from the Valley to Hancock Park.

CUT TO:

EXT. MUIRFIELD ROAD – HANCOCK PARK – NIGHT

As the woman parks her car in front of A HUGE TUDOR MANSION,

Bucky cruises by, catching her license plate and writing it
on a pack of matches from LaVerne’s.

In his rear view mirror he sees her exit the car, a striking
figure in a sharkskin suit. He watches her walk up the
enormous lawn and into the home.

EXT. A PAY PHONE – MINUTES LATER

Bucky reads the license plate into the phone. He receives
information back and writes it onto the matchbook, as well.

INT. BUCKY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Bucky lies in his bed, staring at the ceiling. His bedside
light reveals a still life: Elizabeth Short’s mug shot photo
tucked underneath the matchbook. The cover is flipped open
and we can see written: “Madeleine Cathcart Sprague”.

INT. BUCKY’S CAR – MORNING

Bucky’s listening to The Dexter Gordon quartet on the radio
when the tune is interrupted by a feverish voice:

ANNOUNCER
We interrupt our regular broadcast to
bring you a bulletin. A major suspect in
the investigation of Elizabeth Short, the
raven-haired beauty known as the Black
Dahlia, has been captured! Red Manley, a
Huntington Park hardware salesman and one
of the last men to be seen with the
Dahlia, was captured early this morning.
Currently being held at Hollenback
Station–

Bucky takes a quick left down another street.

CUT TO:

INT. HOLLENBACK STATION JAIL – LATER

Bucky runs into Lee as he enters the station.

LEE
Dahlia left San Diego six days before we
found her. Dago cops got a witness puts
her in a tan Dodge with a partial plate
ident. Finally got a cross-check that
matched on Red here.

INT. OUTSIDE THE INTERROGATION ROOM – CONT.

Seems like every cop in town has jammed themselves into a
small corridor, watching Russ Millard interrogate RED MANLEY
through a one way mirror. Manley is carrot-topped, 25, and
scared shitless.

Millard’s soothing voice can be heard through speakers.

MILLARD
Like I said, Robert. We’re doing this
because you didn’t come forward.

RED MANLEY
I’ve told it three times now. I didn’t
want my wife to know I was chipping her.

MILLARD
But you said you didn’t chip on her.
Betty wouldn’t put out. That’s no reason
to hide from the police.

RED MANLEY
I dated her down in Dago. I slow-danced
with her. It’s the same thing as
chipping.

MILLARD
And you wanted to fuck her, didn’t you?

RED MANLEY
I wanted…to test my loyalty to my wife.

MILLARD
Come on, son!

RED MANLEY
I wanted to fuck her. Yes.

MILLARD
But she cock-teased you.

RED MANLEY
She said she had her period–

All of the cops outside laugh.

RED MANLEY
Said the father of her child would be a
combat veteran–

MILLARD
And you were in the Army band. You get
angry?

RED MANLEY
I told you. I didn’t kill her.

MILLARD
You drove her back to LA with you
on…December tenth? And dropped her at
the Biltmore Hotel?

RED MANLEY
I’ve told it how many ways? How many more
ways do you went to hear it?

Millard straightens up and turns to the one-way mirror. He
tugs at the knot of his tie. Soon after he slips out of the
room and Harry Sears slips in.

Bucky turns to Lee.

BUCKY
Welcome back to earth, partner.

LEE
Your fault, really. After you left Kay
slipped me a Mickey. Slept for seventeen
hours.

BUCKY
Your fault for buying her all those
chemistry classes.

LEE
Learn anything interesting?

BUCKY
No.

LEE
(re the interrogation)
Now you’ll see why Russ keeps Harry
around.

INT. THE INTERROGATION ROOM – SAME

Harry circles Red Manley, lightly tapping a metal-studded sap
in his hand.

LEE
(re the sap)
Russ’s only rule. No actual hitting.

BACK INSIDE THE INTERROGATION ROOM – SAME

Harry leans close to Red, tapping the sap on the table. His
stutter completely gone.

HARRY SEARS
You wanted some fresh gash, and you
thought Betty was easy. You came on
strong and that didn’t work. You offered
her money. She told you she was on the
rag, and that was the final straw. You
wanted to make her bleed for real–

RED MANLEY
No no no. Not Betty–

Harry SMASHES the sap onto a glass ashtray, shattering it.
Red bites down on his lip, cutting it.

HARRY SEARS
You plied Betty with drinks, got her to
talk about her old boyfriends and came on
like a pal, like the nice little corporal
willing to leave Betty to the real men,
the men who saw combat–

RED MANLEY
No–

Harry SMASHES the table again.

HARRY SEARS
You took her to a toolshed, maybe one of
those abandoned warehouses out by the old
Ford plant in Pico-Rivera. There was some
twine and lots of cutting tools lying
around, and you got a hard-on…

RED MANLEY
No no no–

Again Harry smashes the table. Red almost topples his chair
backwards out of fear, only Harry’s hand an the back slats
keeping it from going over…

HARRY SEARS
Yes, Reddy, yes. You thought of every
girl who said “I don’t suck”, every time
your mommy spanked you, every evil eye
you got from real soldiers when you
played your trombone in the army band.

RED MANLEY
No–

HARRY SEARS (cont’d)
Goldbrick, needle-nick, pussy-whipped–

RED MANLEY
No–

HARRY SEARS
That’s what Betty had to pay for wasn’t
it?

RED MANLEY
No, please! God as my witness!

HARRY SEARS
God hates liars!

Smash!

HARRY SEARS (cont’d)
Tell me, Red! Tell Betty! Tell God!

RED MANLEY
I didn’t hurt her–

HARRY SEARS
Tell God!

Harry smashes the sap down the table once more and then hurls
the whole thing over onto its side.

Red fumbles out of the chair onto his knees. He clasps his
hands together–

RED MANLEY
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not
want…

He begins to weep. Completely broken.

Harry turns to the one way mirror, looking straight out at
his audience: self-loathing etched into his flabby,
juicehound face.

He gives the thumbs-down sign and walks out of the room.

OUTSIDE IN THE HALLWAY

Russ Millard meets him at the door and leads him away from
the general crowd of officers.

BACK IN THE INTERROGATION ROOM

Bucky watches as Lee and another officer handcuff Red and
take him outside. Lee has his hand on Red’s shoulder like a
kindly uncle.

OUTSIDE THE STATION

Bucky stands on the steps, taking fresh air. Russ steps out.

RUSS MILLARD
Good report yesterday, Bleichert.

BUCKY
Thanks.

RUSS MILLARD
What next?

BUCKY
You send me back to Warrants?

RUSS MILLARD
Wrong again. But keep going.

BUCKY
Canvass around the Biltmore. If Red
dropped her off there on the tenth maybe
we can start reconstructing the last days
before she got snatched.

RUSS MILLARD
Bright penny. You’re doing well, Bucky.
Run with the ball.

BUCKY
All I know is you should keep an eye on
Loew and his boys.
I didn’t put it in my report, but Betty
sold it outright when she needed money
bad enough, and Loew’s been trying to
keep it kiboshed so it’ll look better if
he ever takes it to trial.

RUSS MILLARD
(smiles)
You calling your boss an evidence
suppressor?

BUCKY
And a grandstanding son of a bitch.

RUSS MILLARD
You’re a brighter penny than I thought.
(hands him a sheet of paper)
Betty sightings. Wilshire Division. I
need smart pennies to eliminate the
phonies from the tip sheet.

BUCKY
What are you gonna do?

MILLARD
Keep an eye on the evidence suppressor
son of a bitch and his minions to make
sure they don’t try to coerce a
confession out of that innocent man in
the holding tank.

He pats Bucky on the shoulder and walks inside.

CUT TO:

BUCKY CANVASSING THE WILSHIRE DISTRICT

Restaurants, bars, juke joints. Bucky interviews every drunk
on Western and Normandie…

VOICE OVER
Barflies. Daytime juicers…The longer I
listened the more they talked about
themselves, interweaving their sad tales
with the Black Dahlia, who they actually
believed to be a glamorous siren headed
for Hollywood stardom…

Bucky cruises in his car into Lee and Kay’s neighborhood.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
It was as if they would have traded their
own lives for a juicy front-page death.
I decided my report would consist of two
words: “All bullshit”.

IN FRONT OF LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Bucky pulls up just as Kay storms out the door and down the
steps, hurling an armful of paper onto the lawn. Lee storms
beside her, shouting and waving his arms as they go back
inside.

Bucky walks over and kneels down besides the papers: carbons
of LAPD report forms, tip sheets, evidence tickets, the
autopsy…all with “E. Short” typed at the top.

BUCKY
Oh Jesus.

Kay and Lee come back out again, Kay tossing out more files.

KAY
It’s sick and it’s insane! After
everything…And all that might happen–

LEE
I need this, babe. You know it. I’ll rent
a room for the stuff but–
(noticing Bucky)
You tell her Bucky. Reason with her.

BUCKY
She’s right, Lee. You’ve pulled at least
three misdemeanors here. It’s out of
control–

Bucky stops himself short, studying Lee’s strained face.

BUCKY (cont’d)
(to Kay)
I promised him a week on it. Four more
days and it’s over.

KAY
Dwight, you can be so gutless sometimes.

She turns on them both and goes back inside. Before Lee can
make a wisecrack Bucky kicks his way through the LAPD papers
back to his car…

INT. LAVERNE’S HIDEAWAY – NIGHT

Bucky sits low in his car, watching THE WHITE PACKARD parked
near the front of LaVerne’s. He’s been there awhile…

Finally the woman from the night before exits and heads for
her car. He jumps out and walks quickly to intercept her
while she’s fumbling for her keys.

BUCKY
Slumming, Miss Sprague?

She sighs, exasperated.

MADELEINE
I am now. Daddy spying on me again?

She pulls a wad of cash out of her purse. Switching to a very
deft imitation of a Scotchman’s burr:

MADELEINE (cont’d)
Maddy, girl, ye shouldn’t be congregatin’
in such unsuitable places–

BUCKY
I’m a policeman.

MADELEINE
Well that’s a new one–

She peels off another bill. Hands it to Bucky. He counts it
out. Over a hundred dollars.

BUCKY
Homicide.

He hands the money back.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Let’s try Elizabeth Short. Linda Martin.

All of her bravado drops. Bucky sees it immediately. He grabs
her purse and keys and tosses them on the hood of her car.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Here or downtown? I know you knew her so
don’t jerk me off on that or it’s
downtown and a whole lot of publicity.

She opens the door to her car and slides in. Bucky gets in
next to her. By the roof light he can see that her similarity
to the Dahlia is more in her clothes and hair, but the
resemblance is still there nonetheless.

MADELEINE
(gathering herself)
This is all a fluke. I met them at
LaVerne’s last fall.
Betty maybe one time. Linda a couple.
She’d come in to cadge a drink or a meal
off a sister.

BUCKY
You sleep with either of them?

MADELEINE
No. Just cocktail lounge chitchat.

BUCKY
Are you lez?

MADELEINE
(Scotchman’s burr)
Ye might say I take it where I can find
it, laddie.

Bucky’s charmed by her, but stays focused.

BUCKY
Why’d you rabbit last night?

MADELEINE
(exasperated)
Mister, my father is Emmett Sprague. The
Emmett Sprague. He built half of
Hollywood and Long Beach, and what he
didn’t build he bought. Imagine the
headlines. “Tycoon’s Daughter Questioned
in Black Dahlia Case–Played Footsie with
Dead Girl at Lesbian Nightclub”. Get the
picture?

BUCKY
In Technicolor. (beat) What did you talk
about?

MADELEINE
Linda talked about her boring boy back in
Hicktown, Nebraska, or wherever. Betty
talked about the latest issue of Screen
World. Hollywood dreams, the sad nine
yards.

BUCKY
Betty ever tell you about a movie she
did? Show you a viewfinder? Anything
specific?

MADELEINE
On a conversational level they were right
down there with you, only they were
better looking.

BUCKY
You’re cute.

MADELEINE
You’re not. Look, I’m tired. You want to
hear my alibi so I can end this farce and
go home?

BUCKY
That’s all anyone ever wants to
volunteer: the alibi. Go ahead.

MADELEINE
My family and I were at our house in
Laguna from Sunday through Thursday along
with our live-in servants. If you want
verification, call Daddy. But be discreet
about where we met.

She turns in the seat to face him directly.

MADELEINE (cont’d)
Don’t suppose I can convince you to keep
my name out of the papers?

BUCKY
I don’t need your cash if that’s what
you’re saying.

She touches his leg.

MADELEINE
Ah, Laddie…’S not what I’m saying…

He knows exactly what she’s saying.

BUCKY
Convince me.

MADELEINE
Tomorrow night. Eight o’clock. My address
is 482 So. Muirfield.

BUCKY
I know the address.

MADELEINE
Not surprised. Pick me up. Like a
gentleman.

He starts to get out of the car.

MADELEINE (cont’d)
One more thing–What’s your name?

BUCKY
Bucky Bleichert.

MADELEINE
I’ll try to remember.

He pulls the purse off the hood and tosses her the keys. As
he walks away he lets out a deep breath, as if he’d been
holding it the whole time…

INT. THE SQUAD ROOM – NEXT DAY

Bucky enters and finds Lee at a desk, manning the tip phones.

LEE
Yes, ma’am. I understand. A werewolf and
Red Manley. Oh no. The werewolf is Red
Manley. Yes that would be more
efficient…

Lee dutifully writes down the crank on a routing slip. Bucky
slides into a chair across from him, brushing imaginary dust
off of the phone in front of him.

Lee rings off. Smiles at Bucky.

LEE (cont’d)
I love tip duty.

BUCKY
So…You smooth things with Kay?

LEE
Yeah. I rented a room for the stuff at
the El Nido Motel. Nine scoots a week.
Chump change if it makes her feel good.

BUCKY
De Witt gets out tomorrow, Lee. I was
thinking maybe I should lean on him. Get
Fritz Vogel and Koenig to do it–

Lee swings away in his rotating chair, knocking over a
wastepaper basket.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Lee–

The phone in front of Lee rings. He snatches it–

LEE
Blanchard. Homicide.

Lee listens to the call, not saying anything. It goes on for
some time. Finally Bucky catches Lee’s eye. Lee makes the
“looney” sign with his finger.

Bucky’s phone rings. He picks it up.

BUCKY
Bleichert. Homicide.

The person on the other line starts rambling on. Bucky takes
notes diligently as we

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. THE SQUAD ROOM – LATER

Bucky’s on another call. His pile of tip sheets and routing
slips have grown. Behind him Lee pulls on his jacket and
gives Bucky a two-fingered salute as he saunters out.

VOICE OVER
I logged forty-six phone tips, about half
of which were reasonably coherent. Lee
left early, dodging any talk about De
Witt. Ellis Loew stuck me with writing up
the summary report, most of which
concerned the numerous dead end leads,
bogus confessions and three hundred new
Dahlia sightings per day. It left me gut
certain of one thing:

CUT TO:

A CLOSE UP OF THE BETTING POOL TABLE

as Bucky drops twenty dollars on “Unsolved – pay 2 to 1”.

INT. ANOTHER CASTING OFFICE – DAY

Elizabeth Short in another dress, her hair fixed differently.
Clapsticks come in again: “Elizabeth Short…Screen Test
#2″

MAN #2 (O.S.)
Where are you from?

ELIZABETH SHORT
Boston. Massachusetts.

MAN #2
How long have you lived here?

ELIZABETH SHORT
Two years.

MAN #2
You’ve lost your accent.

ELIZABETH SHORT
Well, you know, when in Rome…
(looks nervously into camera)
Why? Do you want a girl with an accent?

FADE OUT

EXT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – NIGHT

Bucky rings the bell dressed in his Sunday best blazer.
Madeleine answers, a knockout in a skirt and cashmere sweater.

MADELEINE
Look. I hate to pull this, but Daddy has
heard about you. He insisted you stay for
dinner. I told him we met at that art
exhibit at Stanley Rose’s Bookshop, so if
you have to pump everybody for my alibi,
be subtle. All right?

BUCKY
Sure.

She leads him inside.

INT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – CONTINUOUS

Thick Persian carpets, tapestries, giant rooms with a men’s
club atmosphere.

Next to the fireplace Bucky notices A STUFFED SPANIEL with a
yellowed newspaper rolled into its mouth.

MADELEINE
(re the dog)
That’s Balto. The paper is the LA Times
for August 1, 1926. Balto was bringing in
the paper when Daddy’s accountant told
him he’d made his first million. Daddy
wanted to consecrate the moment so he
shot him. Here we go–

INT. A SMALL SITTING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

The Sprague family sits in matching easy chairs. No one
stands up.

MADELEINE
Bucky Bleichert. May I present my family.
My mother, Ramona Cathcart Sprague. My
father, Emmett Sprague. My sister, Martha
McConville Sprague.

Emmett Sprague jumps to his feet, pumping Bucky’s hand.

BUCKY
A pleasure, Mr. Sprague.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Saw you fight Mondo Sanchez. Boxed the
pants off him. Another Billy Conn you
were.

BUCKY
Thanks.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Mondo gave a good show. What ever
happened to him?

BUCKY
Died of a heroin overdose.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Too bad. Shamed his family. (beat)
Speaking of families–

Both Martha and Ramona stand up. Martha is 19, plain and
serious, with a tenacious resemblance to Emmett. (Neither of
whom look much like Madeleine.)

Ramona, on the other hand, possesses a pushing-fifty
resemblance to Madeleine combined with the flaccid face and
unfocused features of a booze or drug addict.

RAMONA
(trace of a slur)
Madeleine says nice things about you.

MADELEINE
Daddy can we eat? Bucky and I want to
catch a nine-thirty show.

INT. THE DINING ROOOM – LATER

A black maid serves large portions of corned beef and cabbage.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Dig in, lad. Hearty fare breeds hearty
people. Haute cuisine breeds degenerates.

Bucky smiles politely and begins eating.

MARTHA
I want to draw Mr. Bleichert, Daddy.

On Emmett’s nod Martha pulls out a small sketch pad.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
You’re in for a cruel caricaturing,
Bucky. Maddy’s my pretty one, but
Martha’s my certified genius.

A wince from Martha.

EMMETT SPRAGUE (cont’d)
What kind of name is Bleichert? Dutch?

BUCKY
German.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
A great people, the Germans. Hitler was a
bit excessive, but mark my words that
someday we’ll regret not joining forces
with him to fight the Reds. I killed a
lot of your countrymen during the war.

MARTHA
Did you meet Balto out in the hallway?

BUCKY
Very realistic.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
An old friend stuffed him. We were in the
Scots regiment together. Georgie Tilden.
He wanted to work in the flickers.

BUCKY
So when did you come here?

EMMETT SPRAGUE
1920. Hollywood was a cow pasture, but
the silent flickers was booming. Georgie
got work as a lighting man, and me
building houses.
Georgie got me introduced to Mack Sennett
and I helped him build that housing
project he was putting up–Hollywoodland–
underneath that godawful sign.

BUCKY
I always loved the Keystone Kops.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Old Mack knew how to squeeze a dollar
dry, he did. He had extras moonlighting
as laborers and vice versa. I used to
drive ‘em over to Hollywoodland after
twelve hours on a Keystone Cops flicker
and put in another six hours by
torchlight. Even gave me as assistant
director credit a couple times, so
grateful he was for the way I squeezed
his slaves–

A SCREECH interrupts Emmett’s monologue. Bucky looks across
the table to see Ramona trying to corral a potato with her
fork (the source of the sound).

EMMETT SPRAGUE (cont’d)
Mother? Are you feeling well? Would you
like to contribute to the conversation?

Ramona forks a small bit of food and chews it daintily.

RAMONA
Did you know, Mr. Bleichert, that Ramona
Boulevard was named after me?

BUCKY
No Mrs. Sprague, I didn’t.

RAMONA
When Emmett married me for my father’s
money he promised my family that he would
use his influence with the City Zoning
Board to have a street named after me.
But all he could manage was a dead-end
block in a red light district in Lincoln
Heights. Are you familiar with the
neighborhood, Mr. Bleichert?

BUCKY
I grew up there.

RAMONA
Then you know that the Mexican
prostitutes expose themselves out of
windows to attract customers. I hear many
of them know Mr. Sprague by name–

Emmett Sprague SLAMS the table. Plates rattle. Silence. Bucky
stares into his lap as Madeleine grabs his knee tightly.

RAMONA (cont’d)
I’ll sing for my supper when Mayor Bowron
comes to dinner, but not for Madeleine’s
male whores. A common policeman. My God,
Emmett. How little you think of me.

She struggles to her feet and leaves the room. Her husband
follows.

MADELEINE
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

MARTHA
(cheery)
Mr. Bleichert?

Martha tears a piece of paper out of her sketch pad. Bucky
takes it as she walks away.

ANGLE ON THE SKETCH:

A caricature of a naked Bucky having sex with Madeleine.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE RED ARROW INN – LATER

A cinderblock auto court filled with pre-war jalopies. The
camera closes on a dingy door. Room 11.

INT. THE RED ARROW INN – ROOM 11 – SAME

A single yellow light illuminates the dreary flop as Bucky
and Madeleine fuck on the bed.

MADELEINE
I’m so…sorry. Don’t hate my family–
don’t–they’re not so bad–

Bucky grabs her hair–

BUCKY
Not them, me. Do me. Be with me.

Focusing, Madeleine pins Bucky with her knees and pulls him
deep into her until they’re no longer common policeman and
rich girl slut. They’re one.

INT. THE RED ARROW INN – ROOM 11 – SAME

They hold each other, sweaty and spent.

BUCKY
Well. I think you kept your name out of
the papers.

MADELEINE
Until we announce the wedding?

BUCKY
Your mother would love that.

MADELEINE
She’s a hypocrite. She takes pills the
doctor gives her, so she’s not a hophead.
You know how Daddy really made his money?

BUCKY
How?

MADELEINE
He bought rotten lumber and abandoned
movie facades from Mack Sennett and built
houses out of them. He’s got firetraps
all over LA registered to phony
corporations…His “good friend” George?
Disfigured in a car crash while running
Daddy some errands. Daddy throws him
scraps now–odd jobs tending some rental
property–

BUCKY
You don’t have to tell me this–

MADELEINE
I want to. I like you Bucky.

BUCKY
I like you, too.

She looks at him earnestly.

MADELEINE
Bucky, I didn’t tell you all about Betty
Short.

BUCKY
Jesus–

MADELEINE
Don’t be mad at me. It’s nothing. I just
don’t want to lie to you.

BUCKY
What is it?

MADELEINE
Last summer I was bar-hopping a lot.
Straight bars. I heard about a girl who
looked like me. I got curious and left
notes at a couple places: “Your lookalike
wants to meet you”, things like that. I
left my number. She called. That’s how I
met her at LaVerne’s with Linda.

BUCKY
And that’s all of it?

MADELEINE
Yes. That’s all of it.

BUCKY
Then be prepared, babe. There’s fifty
cops out there combing every bar in town
looking for Dahlia info. You could be
headed for the papers no matter what.

MADELEINE
Serve my family right.

BUCKY
You don’t mean that.

MADELEINE
No. I don’t.

He strokes her dark hair.

BUCKY
Tell me something. Why’d you want to meet
Betty Short?

MADELEINE
I’ve worked pretty hard to be loose and
free. But the way people described Betty.
It sounded like she was a natural.

BUCKY
How do you mean?

MADELEINE
Hmmm…She was this poor girl…Came from
nothing…But then she carried nothing
with her, either. I don’t know…when
you’re rich sometimes you romanticize the
poor…

BUCKY
I wouldn’t know.

An awkward silence as she considers her foot in her mouth. He
studies her for a moment. Pulls her close, kisses her
mouth…the arch of her neck…They begin to move together
again…

Another LAPD FORM: “Witness Report: Lorna
Martikova…aka Linda Martin…”

EXT./INT. BUCKY’S CAR – MOVING

Bucky weaves fast through traffic. He whips a right turn…

EXT. THE CALEDONIA LOUNGE – CONTINUOUS

Bucky’s car screeches into the parking lot just as LINDA
MARTIN bursts through the doors and takes off running.

Bucky jumps from the car and sprints after her, the girl
clutching an oversized purse to her chest as she dashes in
and out of busy traffic.

The girl runs like a fucking antelope as Bucky barely misses
being hit by a large BEER TRUCK and gets to the other side of
the street just as Linda stumbles over a curb–sending her
sprawling on the sidewalk.

Bucky jumps on her, grabbing her tiny fists as she kicks and
screams like a hell cat.

He cuffs her and pulls her up, dragging her to where she
spilled her purse.

LINDA MARTIN
I’m an emancipated minor and if you touch
me without a matron present I’ll sue you!

He picks it up her purse. Surprised by the heft, he opens it
and pulls out A METAL FILM CAN.

Her demeanor changes instantly to fear:

LINDA MARTIN
(near tears)
Please, mister…My…my parents.

INT. JUVENILE DETENTION HALL – INTERROGATION ROOM – LATER

Russ, Harry and Bucky sit opposite Linda Martin. She’s pretty
and small, and about to get smaller…

RUSS MILLARD
…and you don’t recall any of the names
Betty went out with last fall?

LINDA MARTIN
They were just pickups.

RUSS MILLARD
No one who would do her harm?

The girl thinks hard, shakes her head “no”.

BUCKY
You made the casting rounds together.
Ever get any movie work?

LINDA MARTIN
No.

BUCKY
So what about the film can?

Her eyes go to the floor, tears begin to drop.

LINDA MARTIN
It’s…a movie.

BUCKY
A dirty movie?

She nods her head silently.

RUSS MILLARD
You have to tell us the whole thing,
sweetheart. So think it through.

Harry pours her a paper cup of water. She takes a sip.

LINDA MARTIN
I was…cadging at a bar in Gardena. This
Mexican man – Raoul or Jorge or something
– starting talking to me.
I thought I was pregnant, and I was
desperate wicked bad for money. He said
he’d give me two hundred dollars to act
in a nudie film.

She takes a large gulp of water.

LINDA MARTIN (cont’d)
He said he needed another girl so I asked
Betty. The three of us drove down to
Tijuana and we made the movie at this big
house outside of town. (beat) Then he
drove us back to LA.

Her head bowed. Russ and Harry stare at her impassively.

BUCKY
Was this around Thanksgiving?

She nods yes.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Did the Mex give Betty a viewfinder?

She raises her head in recognition and nods yes.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Did he seem particularly interested in
Betty? Did she see him again?

She shakes her head “no”.

BUCKY (cont’d)
But you saw him again, didn’t you? How
else could you have gotten a copy?

Linda looks sadly at Bucky.

LINDA MARTIN
After Betty…After I read about
Betty…I went looking for him in
Gardena. He was about to go back to
Mexico and I conned him out of a print.

RUSS MILLARD
Where was that?

LINDA MARTIN
I don’t remember. On Aviation somewhere.

RUSS MILLARD
Why would you do that?

LINDA MARTIN
A Black Dahlia stag film? I thought…I
could sell it if I had to. (ashamed) It
was…a collector’s item.

RUSS MILLARD
And he willingly gave you a copy of the
film? For nothing?

LINDA MARTIN
No. Not for nothing.

She looks down again. The cops look at each other. Linda’s
harder and more desperate than they imagined.

LINDA MARTIN (cont’d)
You’ll let me have it back, won’t you?
You won’t let people look at it?

Now its the cops turn to look away.

EXT. THE HALLWAY – AFTER

Russ and Bucky.

RUSS MILLARD
Whattya think?

BUCKY
I think she’s covering on the Mex angle.
Maybe she knows him and doesn’t want him
taking a smut rap. Maybe he’s white. The
TJ stuff is sound, though. I’d detach Meg
Caulfield from Wilshire Clerical to play
cellmate for a day.

RUSS MILLARD
Bleichert you are a very bright penny
today. (beat) Well. Looks like it’s blue
movie night at City Hall.

INT. THE MUSTER ROOM – LATER

A projector and screen has been set up. All the big-wigs are
present: Ellis Loew, Jack Tierney, Thad Green and Chief of
Police C.B. Horrall. Millard, Harry and Lee.

A clerical assistant threads the projector as Bucky settles
into a seat next to Lee. On Lee’s lap is a newspaper with the
headline: “Boulevard-Citizen’s Mastermind to be Released
–LA Bound after 8 years of Custody”

LEE
(raggedy)
Gettin’ any?

Bucky’s about to respond when the lights dim and a blurred
image hits the screen. It begins to focus.

A title: “Slave Girls From Hell”

The movie: A big high-ceiling room with Egyptian
hieroglyphics on the walls. Pillars shaped like coiled
serpents are stationed throughout the room; the camera zooms
in for a close-up of two inset plaster snakes swallowing each
other’s tails. The snakes dissolve into Betty Short, wearing
only stockings and doing an inept hoochie koochie dance…

An audible breath in the muster room.

A hand reaches into frame, passing Betty a large cylindrical
object: a dildo, scales covering the shaft, fangs extending
from the circumcised head. Betty puts it in her mouth, sucks
it, eyes wide open and glassy.

An abrupt cut: Linda Martin, naked, lying on a divan. Betty
enters the frame with the dildo; she puts it between Linda’s
legs, pushing it inside her. Linda rotates her hips, trying
her best to fake ecstasy instead of pain and sadness.

Another cut: Betty mouthing the words “No, please” to the
camera. A hand pushing her head down towards Linda’s crotch.
Betty tonguing next to the dildo…

BACK ON THE MUSTER ROOM

The atmosphere is somber, but calm. The film continues…

CHIEF HORRALL
Whattya think, Russ? This got anything to
do with the girl’s murder–

RUSS MILLARD
Long shot, Chief. Harry and I are headed
down to TJ tonight. The Mex doesn’t play
as the killer. But maybe he showed it to
someone–

Suddenly Lee jumps up, standing in front of the screen.

LEE
Who gives a fuck if he didn’t kill her!
I’ve sent Boy Scouts to the green room
for less than this!

He yanks down the screen with a crash and storms out of the
room. The movie continues on the chalked up blackboard.

INT. THE LOCKER ROOM – LATER

Lee sits on the ground, head in his hands. Bucky enters and
sits on a bench next to him.

LEE
Did you see her face, Bucky? Did you see?

BUCKY
Yeah. I did, partner. I did.

Bucky notices Lee’s still clutching the De Witt article in
his fist. He pries it loose.

Ellis Loew and Russ Millard enter.

ELLIS LOEW
Goddammit, Blanchard! I got you Warrants.
You’re my man, and you made me look like
a fool in front of the two most powerful
men in the Department. If you weren’t
Mr. Fire you’d be suspended from duty
already. You’ve gotten personally
involved in the Short case–

BUCKY
(holding up the newspaper)
Mr. Loew, it’s not just Betty Short–

ELLIS LOEW
Shut up, Bleichert.
(back to Lee)
You’re back on Warrants as of tomorrow.
Report to me at 0800 with letters of
apology for Green and Horrall. For the
sake of your pension I’d suggest you
grovel.

LEE
I want to go to TJ–

ELLIS LOEW
Blanchard!

Poison hangs in the air. Ellis turns on his heels.

INT. THE SQUADRON – DAY

Bucky sits in his cubicle searching the Dahlia files. The
clock behind him reads “12:30”. Loew approaches.

ELLIS LOEW
You’ve been skating around all morning,
Bleichert. Vogel and Koenig went to
Tijuana an hour ago so I need you to
check out a radio car and get out there.

BUCKY
Yes, sir.

ELLIS LOEW
And if you see that phantom partner of
yours, tell him this no-show’s gonna cost
him three days pay.

Loew walks off. Bucky dials the phone.

MADELEINE (VO)
Hello.

BUCKY
It’s me. You want to get together?

MADELEINE (VO)
When?

BUCKY
I’ll pick you up in forty-five minutes.

MADELEINE (VO)
Not at the house. Daddy’s having a
business soiree. The Red Arrow.

BUCKY
I have an apartment, you know.

MADELEINE (VO)
Room 11. Forty-five minutes.

She hangs up.

INT. RED ARROW MOTEL – ROOM 11 – LATER

They lie naked in the bed. Bucky’s lost in thought.

MADELEINE
Smile at me. Look soft and sweet.

He looks anything but.

BUCK
They picked up Linda Martin yesterday.
She had a stag film of her and Betty
Short playing lez. Spooky stuff.

Madeleine sits up.

MADELEINE
Did she mention me?

BUCKY
No. And I checked through the case file.
There’s no mention of that note-leaving
number you pulled. (beat) Babe, I’m
withholding evidence for you. It’s a fair
trade for what I’m getting, but it still
shakes me. Is there anything you haven’t
told me about Betty and Linda?

She runs her fingers down his ribcage, teasing his boxing
scars.

MADELEINE
Sugar, Betty and I made love once, that
one time we met last summer. I just did
it to see what it would be like to do it
with someone who looked like me and–

BUCKY
Jesus Christ.

He jumps from the bed and pulls on his pants.

MADELEINE
Bucky that’s it, I swear. Please stay–

He pulls on his shirt, his handcuffs and his .38. Grabs his
jacket–

MADELEINE (cont’d)
Stay sugar stay–

–and slams the door on the way out.

INT. THE POLICE CRUISER – LATER

Bucky steamed in the car. He flips on the police radio,
looking for distraction. Instead he gets:

RADIO DISPATCHER
Code four all units at Crenshaw and
Stocker. Two dead, suspect dead, Raymond
Douglas Nash, warrant number–

EXT. A KOREAN GROCERY – MINUTES LATER

RAYMOND NASH lies dead on the sidewalk. Off to one side, a
short and wiry cop is describing for detectives how it all
went down, pantomiming how he shot an escaping Raymond Nash.

Bucky stands over Nash, staring at his dead features. He
walks inside.

INT. A KOREAN GROCERY – CONTINUOUS

Bucky’s POV:

A robbery gone bad. A sixty-year old Korean shopowner lies
dead behind the counter and his teenaged son lies dead in an
aisle. Blood and green linoleum.

INT. THE SQUAD ROOM – SOON AFTER

Bucky bursts into the squad room, seeing red.

BUCKY
Blanchard!

A cop walking through the bullpen points to the bathroom.

INT. THE BATHROOM – CONTINUOUS

Bucky kicks in the door, finding Lee washing his hands in the
sink. He holds his hands up to Bucky, blood oozes from Lee’s
knuckles.

LEE
I beat up a wall. Penance for Nash.

BUCKY
Not good enough.

Bucky steps into Lee with fists flying, a mad demon. He
smashes him again and again, beating his only friend until
Lee slides senseless to the floor…

INT. BUCKY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Bucky drinks bourbon straight, his wrist heavily bandaged.

VOICE OVER
Losing the first Bleichert-Blanchard
fight got me local celebrity, Warrants,
and close to nine grand in cash;
winning the rematch got me a sprained
wrist, two dislocated knuckles and the
rest of the day off. Whoever said winning
isn’t everything got that part right.

EXT. LEE AND KAY’S HOUSE – NEXT DAY

Bucky walks into the house and finds Kay there. She holds up
a newspaper: The front page includes The Black Dahlia, Junior
Nash, and Bobby De Witt.

KAY
(eyes red from crying)
We’re famous, Dwight.

BUCKY
Notorious, maybe. Where’s Lee?

KAY
I haven’t seen him since you beat him up.

Bucky looks ashamed.

KAY (cont’d)
I don’t blame you.

He walks to her and she holds him.

BUCKY
He’s in trouble, you know.

She nods. He strokes her hair.

BUCKY (cont’d)
De Witt’s probably in LA by now. If Lee
doesn’t show up by tonight I’ll come over
to stay with you.

KAY
I don’t want you coming over here just to
sleep an the couch again.

BUCKY
Kay. Lee–

She holds up a hand, waving him off. She knows all this.

KAY
You know Dwight? Fighting, cops, guns. To
most people–that’s the scary stuff. Not
everything else.

She knows him to the core. She steps back, holding his hands.

KAY (cont’d)
Luck.

BUCKY
Short of winning?

KAY
Luck.

INT. POLICE STATION – BUCKY’S CUBICLE – LATER

Bucky’s on the phone.

BUCKY
Thank you very much.

He rings off looking very disturbed as Russ and Harry arrive.

BUCKY (cont’d)
What happened in TJ?

HARRY SEARS
Checked for the smut pad. Goose egg.
Peddlers–double goose egg–

RUSS MILLARD
Bucky. Blanchard’s in Tijuana. A border
cop spotted him hobnobbing with a bunch
of rough-looking Rurales last night.

Bucky exhales hard.

RUSS MILLARD (cont’d)
What is it?

BUCKY
(re his phone call)
That was County Parole. Bobby DeWitt
bought a bus ticket at the Santa Rosa
depot this morning. San Diego. Transfer
Tijuana.

EXT. TIJUANA – VARIOUS SHOTS – DAWN

Bucky cruises the Tijuana streets: child beggars dig for
breakfast in trash cans, taco venders stir pots of dog-meat
stew, sailors and marines stumble out of whorehouses. Rurales
drive prewar Chevys wearing black uniforms…

VOICE OVER
Back in LA, Linda Short let slip that her
“Mex” was actually a local named Walter
Wellington, who copped to making the film
but quickly provided the cops his alibi
for the Dahlia’s missing days.

Bucky parks at a big pink Art Deco hotel (The Divisidero).

INT. THE DIVISIDERO – CONTINUOUS

Bucky badges the desk clerk and gets a room number. He heads
upstairs.

VOICE OVER
Not that this stopped Loew and his boys
from rousting spics all over town for a
possible Dahlia frame-up. The circus was
becoming a farce.

INT. A DIVISIDERO HOTEL ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Ellis Loew, Fritz Vogel, and Bill Koenig arguing.

ELLIS LOEW
We can’t do that! Wellington told Tierney
he made the pic–

Bucky opens the door and the room falls quiet.

ELLIS LOEW (cont’d)
Bleichert.

BUCKY
Lee’s down here and so is Bobby De Witt.

ELLIS LOEW
Fuck Blanchard. He’s suspended.

Bucky charges the DA but Vogel and Koenig intercept him,
pushing him roughly back out in the hall. Loew retreats to
the other side of the room.

VOGEL
You know what, kid? I got a soft spot in
my heart for light heavyweights.
(chucks his chin)
You promise not to hit Billy and I’ll
help you look for your partner.
(re Bucky’s ragged appearance)
I’ll drive. You look like shit.

EXT. THE TIJUANA STREETS – VARIOUS SHOTS

Bucky and Fritz Vogel drive past beggars swarming tourists,
hookers dispensing front seat blow jobs, zoot suit youths
prowling for drunks to roll…

EXT. THE TIJUANA STREETS – VARIOUS SHOTS

The two men park the car in the middle of a car-choked street
and decide to try walking. They’re immediately swallowed up
by kid beggars shoving crucifixes in their faces.

Bucky tosses handfuls of coins into the gutters and the
children scatter, squabbling over the coins.

IN THE BACKGROUND

Fritz Vogel approaches a Rurale and talks to him. The Rurale
nods yes, gesturing down an alley to a squat cinderblock
building.

CUT TO:

INT. A FILTHY MEXICAN JAIL – SOON AFTER

Vogel and Bucky walk quickly down a corridor lined with empty
cells. A Mexican jailer unlocks the last cell and the two
cops walk in to face

BOBBY DEWITT

the hatchet-faced tough of 1939 now a grizzled and bloated
well-used piece of work. He stands up, full of con bravado.

DEWITT
Cops, huh? Well at least you’re American.
Never thought I’l be glad to see you
guys.

VOGEL
Why start now?

Vogel kicks in the balls, dropping him to his knees. Vogel
smashes him with a thick backhand across the face.

CUT TO:

BUCKY HANDCUFFING BOBBY DEWITT TO A CHAIR

Vogel stands over him.

VOGEL
Lee Blanchard’s here in TJ, and you came
here flush out of Big Q. That’s a
goddamned strange coincidence and I don’t
like it. I don’t like you and I don’t
like being down in this rat-infested
country when I could be home with my
family.

DeWitt pisses his pants.

VOGEL (cont’d)
Did you know Blanchard was in TJ?

DEWITT
Ain’t seen Blanchard since my fuckin’
trial.

Vogel smashes him across the face.

VOGEL
Do not use profanity with me, and address
me as sir.

DeWitt’s head bobs up and down.

VOGEL (cont’d)
Now Blanchard’s scared of you. Why?

DEWITT
Man o Manieschewitz, what a laugh. Lee
beauty gotta be scared of me ‘cause of
how I flapped my trap at trial, but all I
know is what I read in the papers. Maybe
I was thinkin’ revenge, maybe talkin’
trash to my cellies, but when Lee beauty
killed them niggers–

Vogel topples DeWitt with a right hook and then picks him
back up by the neck, squeezing the life out of him.

VOGEL
Bobby boy I do not like Sergeant
Blanchard but he is a fellow officer and
I will not have syphilitic scum like you
defaming him. Now you risked a parole
violation for a trip down here.

He lets go of his neck, the color returning to DeWitt’s face.

VOGEL (cont’d)
Why are you here, Bobby. You tell me.

DEWITT
(a beaten dog)
I came down to cop some heroin and move
it back to LA. I’m meeting a guy, Felix
Casco, at the Gardena Motel. Please.
Don’t hurt me no more. Please.

Vogel claps his hands together, gleeful with this bonus bust.

VOGEL
(heading out of the cell)
I’m gonna call Ellis.

Bucky turns back to De Witt, who’s much more relaxed now that
Vogel’s left the cell.

BUCKY
Finish up with you and Blanchard.

DEWITT
Sir, all that’s between me and Blanchard
is that I fucked this cunt Kay Lake–

IN SLOW MOTION–

Bucky leaps on De Witt, grabbing him around the neck and
choking him. De Witt turns blue, his eyes bulging out–

BEHIND BUCKY, VOICES IN SPANISH

and then hands on his shoulders as Ducky is hurled backwards
into the cell bars. And then

BLACKNESS

which slowly becomes grey, and then back to normal as Bucky
finds himself awakening on the floor of the cell.

Refocusing on the scene:

Two Rurales in jodhpur boots pick their teeth with
matchsticks as Fritz Vogel pulls Bucky to his feet.

BUCKY
How long–

VOGEL
I let Bobby boy go so we could tail him
to his pal. But he blew his tail while
you were catching up on your beauty
sleep, which is too bad for him.

CUT TO:

A STUDEBAKER PATROL CAR WITH LIGHTS FLASHING

INSIDE THE STUDEBAKER

Vogel, Koenig, a Rurale, and Bucky (holding a piece of ice to
the back of his head).

The car arrives at a horseshoe-shaped auto court. Two Mexican
policeman stand guard outside one of its rooms.

INT. THE MOTEL ROOM – SECONDS LATER

As the American cops walk in on a cordite-reeking
slaughterhouse. Bobby De Witt and a Mexican man lay dead on
the floor, bullet holes oozing blood all over them.

Bucky notes the bruises on De Witt’s neck from where he
choked him. Bucky squints at the men, still a little
disoriented…

VOGEL
The spic’s Felix Casco, a known dope
trafficker. Maybe it was other dope scum,
maybe Lee, maybe it was God. I say let
our Mexican colleagues handle their own
dirty laundry and we go back to LA and
find the son of a bitch who sliced the
Dahlia.

INT. KAY AND LEE’S HOUSE – DAY

Kay sits curled into a corner of the couch, defensively.
Bucky sits on a small chair next to Lee’s large easy chair.

KAY
I spent the morning with Internal
Affairs. I told them…everything I knew.
I gave them so much…and in the end it
didn’t seem like anything at all.

BUCKY
He’ll came back, Kay. I’m sure of it.

KAY
You don’t know anything, Dwight. But
that’s what I like about you.

BUCKY
Kay–

KAY
I’ve been offered a job. Teaching sixth
grade at Fairfax Primary. With Lee gone
now–

BUCKY
He’s coming back.

She nods, mollifying him.

CUT TO:

A NEON SIGN: THE EL NIDO MOTEL

CLOSE ON: ROOM 204

as Bucky jimmies the lock and pushes open the door.

INSIDE ROOM 204

Boxes of police falls scattered on the bed and desk. Photos
of Elizabeth Short pinned up all over the walls: glamour
glossies, newspaper photos, enlarged crime scene
grotesquerie.

The amount of manpower represented here is staggering; so
much work over one girl.

Bucky sits down at the desk and buries his head in his hands.

BUCKY
Lee.

CLOSE ON: A PORTRAIT PHOTO OF ELIZABETH SHORT

DISSOLVE TO:

FRITZ VOGEL AND BUCKY

interviewing a fortysomething TALENT AGENT in a slick suit.
He sits at a desk with yellowed starlets’ headshots behind
him. Vogel leans on the desk, intimidating the man.

AGENT
…okay, yeah. So I got her name from a
producer friend of mine. Met her in a
bar…

ROOM 204 — THE EL NIDO

Russ Millard and Harry Sears stand goggle-eyed as Bucky shows
them Lee’s back-up files…

VOICE OVER
I wanted to believe it was all about Lee.
Tracking Lee through her…through the
files he had collected.

DISSOLVE TO:

RUSS MILLARD

meticulously sifting through the material along with Bucky.

DISSOLVE TO:

A PHOTO OF ELIZABETH SHORT DRESSED IN BLACK
VOICE OVER
Strangers’ recollections of a girl’s last
days leading me to a partner…

DISSOLVE TO:

FRITZ VOGEL AND BUCKY interviewing a HOOKER in a hotel
lobby…

HOOKER
…the other girls and me, we helped her
out once in a while. Throw her a trick if
she needed dough…But she was no pro.

DISSOLVE TO:

KAY AND LEE’S LIVING ROOM

where Bucky watches Kay grade papers, a gulf between them.

DISSOLVE TO:

AN AUTOPSY PHOTO OF ELIZABETH SHORT

VOICE OVER
But the deeper into her I got, the more I
understood the detective’s old saw: any
dick worth his suit always takes a side:
the perp or the vic.

DISSOLVE TO:

39TH ANMD NORTON – THE MURDER SCENE

where Bucky stands in the empty lot, alone.

VOICE OVER
Most cops’ll tell ya…one day you wake
up and you’re in the head of the
killer…Angry. Powerful. In control.
You’re the perp.

DISSOLVE TO:

FOOTAGE FROM BETTY AND LINDA’S PORN FILM

as the camera dances across Betty Short’s naked body. WE
CLOSE IN on her, the 16mm film becoming finer and finer as
the sex scene transforms into

A LIVE SHOT OF BETTY SHORT, writhing in ecstasy underneath a
man. She and the man fuck harder and harder, faster and
faster.

BETTY SHORT
No…Please…

CUT TO:

BUCKY’S FACE

groaning with the ecstasy of ejaculation–

BACK ON BETTY SHORT BENEATH HIM-

but it’s not Betty Short. It’s Madeleine Sprague, staring up
at Bucky as the two of them come simultaneously.

As soon as it’s over, she looks for his eyes. He won’t look
at her. She grabs his chin and turns him face to face.

VOICE OVER
Few cops’ll admit to walking the harder
path…fear…pain…loss…Few will
admit to waking up in the head of the
vic.

He lower his face to the pillow…

INT. ANOTHER CASTING SESSION – DAY

Another clapstick: “Elizabeth Short…Screen test #3”

Elizabeth Short, looking a bit more worn down, holds a script
up to her face.

ELIZABETH SHORT
(reading stiffly)
Don’t just walk out on me, Richard. Say
something. Say you care say you–

MAN #3 (O.S.)
I’m sorry. There’s a pause there.

She stops, frustrated.

MAN #3 (cont’d)
Maybe with a little more sadness. Can you
give me a little more sadness?

FADE OUT

CLOSE ON:

the “UNSOLVED” sheet at the LAPD betting pool. Handwritten
on the sheet are the constantly dropping odds: “2 to 1”
replaced by “3 to 2” which has been replaced by “Even
Money”.

THE CAMERA PANS UP FROM THE BETTING SHEETS:

“TRANSFER NOTICE…As of 2/6/47 these officers
currently assigned to the Elizabeth Short
investigation will return to their regular duties…

WIDE ON THE SCENE

as Bucky reads the list. Unfortunately his name is not on it.

He beelines straight to

RUSS MILLARD’S OFFICE

the quiet man looks up from his desk.

BUCKY
I wasn’t on the transfer list.

RUSS MILLARD
I asked Jack to keep you on.

BUCKY
Why?

RUSS MILLARD
Because you’re getting to be a damn good
Detective, Bleichert. And Harry’s
retiring in two years. Need I spell it
out?

BUCKY
No.

RUSS MILLARD
You been working this case pretty hard.
Or is it the other way around?

Bucky smiles weakly; Russ knows him.

RUSS MILLARD
It’s not as much fun once it moves to the
back pages, is it? (changing subjects) I
hear they arrested two Mexicans in Juarez
for the Bobby De Witt murder.

BUCKY
I heard that, too.

RUSS MILLARD
You must be relieved.

BUCKY
They’ve rescinded the APB on Lee. If he
doesn’t show up in thirty days he’s out.

RUSS MILLARD
He’ll be found if he wants to be found.

BUCKY
Like the guy who killed the Dahlia?

Russ smiles grimly.

EXT. FRITZ VOGEL’S HOUSE – EVENING

Bucky rings the doorbell. Fritz Vogel answers.

VOGEL
Boyo! Glad you could make it.

He claps Bucky on the shoulder and leads him into the house.

INT. FRITZ VOGEL’S LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

The interior decorating equivalent of highballs and pretzels,
which is exactly what Vogel, Bucky and Ellis Loew are
consuming. Bucky drinks with the trepidation of the King’s
food taster.

ELLIS LOEW
I called this little meeting for a couple
reasons, Bucky.
We’d both like to see the Short case
closed out and get back to normal
business.

Bucky looks impatient and Ellis senses this.

ELLIS LOEW (cont’d)
We’re both comers, Bucky. Fritzie wants
you for his partner when he gets his
lieutenancy, and–

BUCKY
Russ Millard wants me when Harry retires.

VOGEL
You’re too raw for him, boyo. Old Russ is
a sob sister, and I’m much more your type.

Bucky considers the truth in this. To Loew:

BUCKY
What do you want, Ellis?

ELLIS LOEW
Very well, Dwight. I’ll tell you. There
are four confessors still being held at
City Jail. They’ve got no alibis, weren’t
coherent when they were first questioned,
and they’re all violent, frothing-at-the-
mouth lunatics. I want them reintegrated.
It’s a muscle job.

VOGEL
I wanted Bill Koenig–

ELLIS LOEW
But Bill’s a bit too enamored with
violence. So it’s you, Dwight. Yes or no?
Because if it’s yes, I’ll make sure
you’re back on Warrants tomorrow with an
inside track to some stripes. If not,
it’s Homicide shitwork until Russ Millard
gets tired of you. We both know that Russ
is a patient, forbearing man, Dwight.
That could be a long time. Yes or no?

CUT TO:

EXT. THE CITY JAIL PARKING LOT – NIGHT

as four manacled men are being loaded into a drunk wagon
while Bucky flips through their rap sheets and mug shots.

INSIDE THE DRUNK WAGON

the four men sit in the back as Bucky drives the truck. The
camera pans their faces. The first, LOREN BIDWELL, pale, old
and palsied.

VOICE OVER
On my way over I played out their rap
sheets in my head, trying to work up a
head of hate…Loren Bidwell, three time
Atascadero loser, falls for aggravated
sexual assault on minors. Between prison
jolts he confessed to all the big sex
crimes.

EXT. AN OLD WAREHOUSE BUILDING

Bucky pulls the drunk wagon up to a building, its street
facade illuminated: “KOUNTY KING LUNCH MEAT–SERVING L.A.
COUNTY WITH INSTITUTIONAL FOOD SINCE 1923″…

THE CAMERA finds the second man, CECIL DURKIN.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Cecil Durkin–hophead, knife fighter and
a jailhouse rape-o who played jazz drums
with some good combos. He took two
Quentin jolts for Arson and was caught
masturbating at the scene of his last
torch.

AT THE FRONT OF THE WAREHOUSE BUILDING

Fritz Vogel opens the door and leads the men inside.

INT. THE WAREHOUSE BUILDING – CONTINUOUS

A huge sawdust-covered roam, meathooks dangling from the
ceiling. Beef dangles over half the hooks. The four men look
terrified.

The camera finds the third man, CHARLIE ISSLER:

VOICE OVER
Charlie Issler was a pimp and a career
confessor specializing in copping to
hooker homicides. His three procuring
beefs had netted him a year county jail
time, his phony confessions two ninety
day observation stints at the Camarillo
nut farm.

And the fourth man, PAUL ORCHARD:

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
And finally Paul Orchard. Jack roller,
male prostitute, and a former San
Bernardino County deputy sheriff.

The group reaches a back wall of the warehouse where FOUR
UNUSED MEATHOOKS DANGLE OVER FOUR CHAIRS.

Bucky studies the men’s apprehensive faces as Vogel stands
each one on a chair with their manacled hands hooked over
their respective meathooks.

Bucky’s gaze drifts back behind a large box where he sees A
SHEET-COVERED TABLE sticking out. Before his curiosity draws
him over Vogel addresses the prisoners.

VOGEL
You all confessed to killing the Dahlia.
We can’t prove you did, so you’re gonna
have to convince us… Query on, Bucko.

Bucky takes a deep breath and heads first to old man Bidwell.
The man’s palsy has him shaking and Bucky grabs the meathook
above him to steady him.

BUCKY
Tell me about Betty Short, pops. Why’d
you kill her?

Bidwell looks at him with beseeching eyes.

VOGEL
Don’t be timid, boyo. That bird made
little boys suck his hog.

Bucky’s hand twitches on the meathook.

BUCKY
Come clean, pop.

BIDWELL
I didn’t kill her mister. I just wanted a
ticket to the honor farm. Three hots and
a cot, that’s all. Please, mister.

The man’s weakened state makes his argument for him. Bucky
moves on to Cecil Durkin.

BUCKY
Tell me about it, Cecil.

DURKIN
(laughing)
You get that line from Dick Tracy or
Gangbusters?

Bucky catches Vogel out of the corner of his eye. Measuring…

BUCKY
One more time, shitbird. Tell me about
you and Betty Short.

DURKIN
I fucked Betty Short and I fucked your
mama! I’m your fucking daddy!

Bucky one-two’s him in the solar plexus. His legs buckle, but
he keeps his feet on the chair.

DURKIN (cont’d)
You think you clever, don’t you. You the
bad guy, your buddy the nice guy. Older
than vaudeville.

BUCKY
I’m the nice guy, Cecil. Keep that in
mind.

This shuts Durkin up. Bucky moves to Charlie Issler.

ISSLER
(sincere)
Please. I didn’t kill Liz. I don’t know
why I do these things, and I apologize.
So please don’t let that man hurt me.

BUCKY
Convince me.

ISSLER
I…can’t. I just can’t.

BUCKY
You’re a pimp. You know Betty Short?

ISSLER
No.

BUCKY
Why’d you confess to her murder?

ISSLER
She looked so…sweet and pretty and I
felt so bad. I always confess to the
pretty ones.

BUCKY
You feel guilty Charlie? You hit your
girls, get ‘em high on hop?

ISSLER
I do such nasty things I don’t know why–

Vogel struts over, putting on brass knuckles.

VOGEL
This kid glove routine’s gettin’ old–

He kicks Issler’s chair out from under him, the pimp
screaming as his wrists snap. Vogel kicks the remaining three
chairs out, punctuating each with a declaration:

VOGEL (cont’d)
Jack roller! Nigger! Baby fucker!

The men scream like dying animals as Fritzie zeroes in on
Charlie Issler. He begins punching him in the gut with the
brass knuckles.

VOGEL (cont’d)
Tell me about the Dahlia’s missing days
you whoremonger! Tell me!

ISSLER
I…don’t…know…anything!

VOGEL
Tell me what you know!

He punches him in the crotch.

ISSLER
I knew you at Ad Vice!

Vogel ignores him, rabbit punching him, cracking one rib and
then another–

ON BUCKY’S FACE

knowing this is getting out of control. He’s mesmerized by A
FIRE ALARM on the wall behind the men…

VOGEL
Tell me what your girls tell you!

Issler retches, coughing up blood. Bucky stares at the fire
alarm as Fritz runs through his field of vision, cackling.

Bucky refocuses on the scene as Fritzie returns, wheeling the
sheet-covered table Bucky’d seen before. He whips off the
sheet revealing:

A NAKED FEMALE CORPSE, CUT IN TWO AND MADE UP TO LOOK LIKE
THE DAHLIA.

Vogel grabs Issler by the scruff of the neck and jerks him
down off of the meathook.

VOGEL (cont’d)
For your cutting pleasure, Jane Doe
number forty-three. You’re all going to
slice her, and the best slicer buys the
ticket!

Issler bites through his lip as Fritzie pulls out a
switchblade and pops it open.

Bucky takes in the nightmare scene all in slow-motion, the
men with their broken wrists, the pudgy naked corpse, Fritzie
with the knife…

He runs for the fire alarm and pulls the lever, a piercing
bell ringing out as Bucky runs out of the warehouse and jumps
into the drunk wagon, tearing off into the night.

INT. KAY AND LEE’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Kay answers the door and finds Bucky sitting on the front
porch, sobbing.

She moves to him, touching him on the back of the neck, the
stroke of her finger enough to make him stand and face her.

INT. THE BEDROOM – LATER

Bucky tries to talk but she puts fingers to his mouth. Mouth
to his fingers. She undresses him. Slowly she touches him,
easing him, bringing him back to earth, back to humanity. To
her.

And finally they are joined.

CUT TO:

ANOTHER TYPEWRITTEN SHEET: “LAPD Transfer orders: Officer
Dwight Bleichert…From: Central Warrants…To: Foot
Patrol, Swingwatch. Central Station…”

EXT. SKID ROW – EVENING

Bucky picks his way through passed-out drunks and bums. He’s
back in uniform.

VOICE OVER
East 5th Street from Main to Stanford.
Blood banks, liquor stores selling half
pints and short dogs exclusively, fifty-
cent-a-night flophouses and derelict
missions…

DOWN THE STREET

two officers brutally herd winos into a drunk wagon. Bucky
turns and walks the other direction, refusing to help. They
see him and sneer.

VOICE OVER
Banished by Ellis Loew, who dared me to
try my word against a twenty-two year man
and the city’s future District Attorney.
I confined the truth to Russ and Kay, and
determined to spend my shifts trying to
be the worst foot hack in history.

He hands a quarter to a drunk as he passes, urging him with
his nightstick to crawl back into a bar.

INT. EL NIDO – ROOM 204 – NIGHT

Russ Millard pores over a file in their private collection.
Bucky sits with his feet up on the bed, flipping through a
folder…

VOICE OVER
A month passed. The Dahlia leads dwindled
to zero and every officer except Russ and
Harry were returned to their regular
assignments. As for me, I’d been able to
contain my Dahlia interests within the
walls of the El Nido.

Bucky eyes a Dahlia photo pinned to the wall.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Still, I remembered what Madeleine said
when I told her we were through…

INT. THE RED ARROW MOTEL – NIGHT

Madeleine sits on the bed fully dressed. Bucky stands in the
doorway.

MADELEINE
You’ll be back. (beat) I look like her.

Bucky turns and leaves as we

CUT TO:

INT. KAY’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

where Kay and Bucky sleep in bed, locked as spoons. Safe.

VOICE OVER
But sometimes Betty came to me…

INT. THE MEAT WAREHOUSE – NIGHT – A DREAM

Bucky watches Fritz Vogel beats the hell out of Charles
Issler as he hangs off the meathook. In the background, Betty
Short stands and screams:

BETTY SHORT
Bucky! No! Stop him!
(crying)
I’ll do whatever you want…

ISSLER
I’ll be okay….Liz…

Bucky turns and stares at her.

CLOSE ON BUCKY’S BLAZING EYES

MILLARD (VO)
Bucky. What is it?

INT. THE EL NIDO – SAME

as Bucky stares across the room at a picture of the Dahlia.
Millard sits at the small desk, waiting for him to come back.

RUSS MILLARD
Bucky.

Bucky finally sees Russ again.

BUCKY
You ever hear anyone refer to Betty as
Liz? Anyone at all?

RUSS MILLARD
Nope.

BUCKY
Issler did.

RUSS MILLARD
The pimp? I thought he said he’d never
heard of her.

BUCKY
You know what else he said?

A FLASHBACK – THE WAREHOUSE

As Vogel cracks Issler’s ribs.

VOGEL
What did you know about the Dahlia’s
missing days?

ISSLER
I knew you at Ad Vice–

INT. THE POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Harry Sears cradles the phone in his ear as he flips through
a large metal file cabinet. Behind him the glass door reads
in reverse: “ADMINISTRATIVE VICE’.

HARRY SEARS (INTO PHONE)
N-n-no, Russ. No file on Issler. Gone.

BACK AT THE EL NIDO – SAME

Bucky and Russ sit in silence, thinking. They know they’re
onto something…

BUCKY
Fritzie didn’t give a damn about those
other three. It was all about Issler.
Never occurred to me before.

Bucky gets to his feet.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Meet me back here. Late.

RUSS MILLARD
Bright penny–

But Bucky’s already out the door.

EXT. FRITZ VOGEL’S HOUSE – NIGHT

Bucky stakes out the dark house.

EXT. VOGEL’S SERVICE PORCH – LATER

Bucky slips an oil dipstick into the narrow crack of the back
door and flips the simple hook and eyehole lock. He slides
into the house…

INT. FRITZ VOGEL’S HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

as Bucky creeps through the house until he gets to a closed
door. He opens it, entering

FRITZIE’S STUDY

He stumbles along the wall until he finds a standing
gooseneck lamp and turns it on. The walls are covered with
pictures of Fritzie in uniform, dating back twenty-five
years.

Bucky bends down in front of the small mahogany desk and
begins rifling through its file drawers. What he finds
surprises him:

–carbons of official LAPD intelligence reports, lists of
account balances, financial dealings, payments made–all
cross-referenced to each individual being investigated.

A veritable how-to primer on how to extort from criminals..

Bucky digs deeper into the files and pulls out:

ISSLER’S AD VICE FILE complete with mug shots.

BUCKY
Hello, Charlie. Get lost?

Bucky scans the file, running his finger down the list of
names, looking for something familiar. He stops at one:
“SALLY STINSON”. Beside her name a handwritten note:
“Biltmore Hotel”.

He writes it down and moves to another list of names: “Known
Associates, no Prostitution Record”.

And there it is: “Betty Short”.

INT. BUCKY’S CAR – LATER

Bucky bops to jazz on his radio, pumped with adrenaline.

INT. THE EL NIDO – NIGHT

Bucky tears through a file as Russ watches.

RUSS MILLARD
So good ol’ Fritzie’s shaking down
crooks, maybe sellin’ ‘em tip-offs before
a roust.

BUCKY
I want him nailed.

RUSS MILLARD
Easy, penny. They’d have to testify
against him first. And that’s not likely
after he burns those carbons. But this
Issler business–why hide the Issler-
Betty connection?

BUCKY
(finding a file)
Maybe Charlie pimped her out…to
somebody Fritzie doesn’t want us to know
about…

A FLASHBACK – THE WAREHOUSE

as Fritz beats on Charlie–

FRITZIE
Tell me what you know about the Dahlia’s
missing days–

BACK TO THE EL NIDO

Bucky reads through a letter.

BUCKY
I knew it. Here. Betty writes to one of
her phantom servicemen boyfriends:
(reading aloud)
“…had drinks with a great girl, Sally
Stinson, who thinks she way be able to
help me get a job cocktailing…”

RUSS MILLARD
Cocktailing.

BUCKY
Yeah, I know. That’s what made it stick
with me…What next, padre?

RUSS MILLARD
You sit tight. Go hack to swingwatch. Me
and Harry’ll poke around.

BUCKY
(displeased)
I want him.

RUSS MILLARD
You’ll get him, too. But you’ve got to
cool your temper. It’s all patience with
the big fish or they wriggle off.

INT. KAY’S BEDROOM – LATE NIGHT

Bucky lies awake while Kay sleeps.

VOICE OVER
What kept me up that night wasn’t the
idea of Fritz Vogel extorting criminals,
or Fritz Vogel bracing Charlie the pimp
to see if Betty had told him something
about one of her johns…maybe even
Vogel, himself…No…

A FLASHBACK – FRITZ VOGEL’S HOUSE

Ellis Loew, Fritz Vogel and Bucky drink cocktails and eat
pretzels…

VOICE OVER
…what kept me up was this thought: if
Issler blabbed about Liz and her tricks I
would have overheard. Fritz was confident
he could keep me quiet.

Ellis and Fritz clink glasses…Smile at Bucky.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
And that was an underestimation I would
bleed him for.

BACK IN KAY’S BED

Her hand brushes against his cheek. He reaches for it.

OVER THIS SCENE WE HEAR A PHONE RING AND THE FOLLOWING
EXCHANGE.

BUCKY (VO)
Hello?

RUSS MILLARD
We’ve found her. Meet me at 1546 North
Havenhurst in half an hour.

INT. THE POLICE STATION – SAME

As Bucky hangs up the phone. Trying to look casual he sidles
over to a desk with FRITZ VOGEL on the name plate and snags a
photo of Fritz and Johnny off the desk…

INT. SALLY STINSON’S APARTMENT – DAY

A worn woman in her early thirties (SALLY STINSON) sits on a
stack of luggage, Russ and Bucky in chairs. She wears a cheap
kimono and too much makeup for the middle of the day.

She holds the photo of the Vogels. Shakes out her hair and
closes her kimono a little.

SALLY
I do a lot a cops, you know. Comes with
the territory. Charlie used to say it was
my union dues. Keep my operator’s license.

She laughs a little, trying to loosen herself up.

BUCK
Ma’am. Please get to it.

SALLY
Anyway. It was a full-day job. C-Note and
a half. Kept talkin’ about givin’ me “The
Big Schnitzel”…more like a cocktail
frank once we got down to it…Well, we
screw the whole afternoon…Go down to
the lobby for some dinner and there’s
Liz, sittin’ by herself.

BUCKY
You’d hooked with her before?

SALLY
Three or four times. Conventioneers. And
lemme tell you something, I’m pretty good
at faking it. But Liz, she was good. A
virtuoso, Academy Award kind of stuff–

BUCKY
–She do dyke?

RUSS MILLARD
Bucky–

SALLY
No. Nothing like that.

BUCKY
Any porn?

SALLY
No. But I bet she’d be gooood…

RUSS MILLARD
Ma’am.

SALLY (cont’d)
Anyway, we all get to talking…Schnitzel
takes a liking to her and Liz tells me
she needs the dough. So I set up a trick
within a trick…I take a breather and
they go at it in the bedroom. A couple
hours later Liz left.

BUCKY
Did anything unusual happen?

Sally thinks…

SALLY
I think it got a little kinky. He’d
brought a couple toys…He may
have…whipped her a bit.

Russ and Bucky glance at each other, remembering lashmarks at
the autopsy.

BUCKY
Did Vogel say anything about Liz? Was he
gonna see her again? Anything?

SALLY
He said…she liked the Big Schnitzel.

RUSS MILLARD
Anything else, Miss Stinson?

Her face clouds over.

SALLY
Two days…after…Liz got in all the
papers…

She has a hard time going on.

BUCKY
(helping her out)
Is this when your pimp Charlie confesses?

SALLY
(composing herself)
Yeah. Bad habit. Anyways, Fritzie V.
shows up and shakes me hard about
Charlie, whether he’d say anything about
Liz to the caps. Beat me bad. Real bad.

She lifts her head. Taps her nails on the suitcases
underneath her.

BUCKY
One last time to be sure.
(pointing to Fritzie’s picture)
You are sure this is the man that you
tricked with? And tricked with Liz Short?

A puzzled look covers her face.

SALLY
No mister you got it all wrong.

BUCKY
But you said–

SALLY
Fritz just beat me. It was Sonny me and
Liz did. Sonny.

She taps her finger on John Vogel’s face.

SALLY (cont’d)
I’d recognize that lousy fuck anywhere.

Off Bucky and Russ’ shock we

CUT TO:

EXT./INT. RUSS MILLARD’S CAR – LATER

as they cruise the streets of skid row. While Russ talks
Bucky fills a HYPODERMIC NEEDLE with an amber liquid…

RUSS MILLARD
I’ll be a chimp’s priest, Buck. A chimp’s
priest–watch the air bubbles–I shoulda
known that Johnny I d need a pro to lose
his cherry…Never had ‘em for a kink and
a cherry, though…

Bucky points out the window.

BUCKY
There.

OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK

Johnny Vogel wrestles with two drunks, kicking at them as
they scamper into some trash.

BUCKY
(exiting the car)
Johnny–

Johnny ambles over to Bucky.

JOHNNY VOGEL
Whatcha doin’ in civvies, Bleichert?

Bucky drills him in the solar plexus, doubling him over. He
grabs Vogel by the hair and slams his head into the roof of
the car as Johnny’s lights dIm…

CUT TO:

THE BACKSEAT OF THE CAR – SECONDS LATER

as Russ Millard injects the needle into Johnny’s arm.

CUT TO:

INT. THE EL NIDO – DAY

Johnny Vogel handcuffed to a radiator, his head bobbing back
and forth. His eyes trying to focus on Russ and Bucky.

RUSS MILLARD
Pentothal’s good for another couple
hours. No way he can lie.

Johnny’s eyes drift to the pictures on the walls.

BUCKY
Elizabeth Short, shitbird. Elizabeth
fucking Short!

Russ touches Bucky’s arm, urging him to sit back.

RUSS MILLARD
There’s a method to this, Bucky.
(focusing on Johnny)
What’s your name, son?

JOHNNY
(slurring)
You know me, loot.

RUSS MILLARD
Answer me anyway.

JOHNNY
Vogel, John G.

RUSS MILLARD
What’s sixteen and fifty-two?

JOHNNY
Uhmmm. Sixty-eight. Why’d you hit me
Bleichert? I didn’t do you no dirt.

RUSS MILLARD
Focus on January, Johnny. Your father–

JOHNNY
Friedrich Vogel. Fritzie.

RUSS MILLARD
Yes. Fritzie. He wanted you to lose your
cherry. He bought you a woman for two
days. Is that right?

JOHNNY
Not a woman. Not a real one. A hoooer.

Johnny turns the syllable into a long laugh.

RUSS MILLARD
This was at the Biltmore?

JOHNNY
Daddy got a good rate on the room. He
knew the house dick…This ain’t right…

RUSS MILLARD
We’ll be done soon, Johnny. You met Liz
Short at the Biltmore, too?

JOHNNY
What’s her name introduced me…the
hooer.

RUSS MILLARD
And what did you and Liz do?

JOHNNY
We…played horse and rider. Gave her the
Big Schnitz.

RUSS MILLARD
Did you whip her?

Johnny thinks back, his head lolling to and fro…

JOHNNY
Softly. So so softly. Horse and Rider.

RUSS MILLARD
Johnny. Did you kill Liz Short?

Johnny jerks back spasmodically.

JOHNNY
No no no no! I didn’t kill her!

RUSS MILLARD
Easy son–

JOHNNY
I didn’t slice her!

RUSS MILLARD
It’s all right…Do you know who did?
JOHNNY
No! No!

Johnny’s starting to sweat. Russ and Bucky lean in…

RUSS MILLARD
When your Daddy found out you’d been with
her, he tried to fix things didn’t he?

Johnny nods yes.

RUSS MILLARD (cont’d)
He found out Charlie Issler had been
picked up and he knew Charlie had this
confessing problem, right?

JOHNNY
Daddy…went to Ellis…to the Jewboy.
Wanted to get Charlie released…but the
Jewboy said no…Daddy had a morgue
friend owed him a favor and got this DOA
cooze…Daddy wanted Uncle Bill but Ellis
Jewboy said take Bleichert.
(looking right at Bucky)
Daddy said you’d do it cuz without
Blanchard you were jelly. Said you were a
sob sister, weak sister…

Johnny starts laughing hysterically, shaking his chained hands
like a zoo animal trying to get loose. Russ steps in front of
a red-hot Bucky–

RUSS MILLARD
(to Bucky)
I think you should go outside.

EXT. THE FIRE ESCAPE – LATER

Bucky sits out on the fire escape watching cars drive by.
Russ leans out the window and hands Bucky the statement.

RUSS MILLARD
His statement. Signed.

Bucky reads it and slips it into his pocket.

RUSS MILLARD
We should sit on this for a little bit.
Until I can talk to a legal officer.

Bucky shakes his head no, climbs back inside the window.

INT. THE HOTEL ROOM – DAY

Bucky handcuffs Johnny’s hands behind his back as the big man
cries…

JOHNNY
Daddy…

RUSS MILLARD
(to Bucky)
It’s the shithouse until you retire, you
know that.

BUCKY
I owe her this one.

He squeezes Johnny’s handcuffs tighter.

INT. HOLLYWOOD STATION – BOOKING – NIGHT

Reporters follow Bucky and Johnny inside, piqued by the sight
of a plainclothes officer escorting a cuffed uniform inside.

BUCKY
No comment…No comment…
(whispering in Johnny’s ear)
Tell your Daddy I know everything.
Including his extortion deal. Tell him
I’m goin’ to the papers tomorrow.

He approaches the desk sergeant.

DESK SERGEANT
What the hell is this?

A flashbulb goes off in their faces. Johnny sobs.

BUCKY
I’m Officer Dwight Bleichert and this is
Officer John Vogel.

He hands over Johnny’s signed statement.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Book him.

Another flashbulb.

EXT. CENTRAL STATION – LATER

Bucky jogs up the steps inside.

INT. THE LOCKER ROOM – LATER

He dresses in his blue uniform, preparing to go back to work.

INTERCOM
Officer Bleichert, go to the watch
commander’s office immediately.

Bucky brushes imaginary dust off his shirt and grabs his hat.

INT. LIEUTENANT JASTROW’S OFFICE – SOON AFTER

Bucky walks in, saluting like an idealistic rookie. Jastrow
stands, ignoring the salute.

JASTROW
You’re on two weeks vacation leave as of
now. When you return to duty, report to
Chief Green. He’ll reassign you to
another division.

BUCKY
Why?

JASTROW
Fritz Vogel just blew his brains out.
That’s why.

All Bucky can think to do is salute again, rock firm. He
walks outside and crosses into

INT. THE MUSTER ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Crammed with blues awaiting roll call. They all stare at
Bucky; he meets the eyes that seek his, making them look
down. Defiant.

As he passes he can hear the hisses: “Traitor”. “Bolshevik”.
He continues towards the door, almost out when suddenly he
hears applause.

Bucky turns to see,Russ Millard, Harry Sears and Thad Green
clapping good-bye…

INT. THE CASTING OFFICE – DAY

Clapstick: “Elizabeth Short Screen Test #4”

She sits on an ugly brown sofa, sides in her hands. Silence.

MAN #4 (O.S.)
Are you all right, Miss Short?

She looks up, seeing the camera as if for the first time.

MAN #4 (cont’d)
Why don’t you just…talk.

ELIZABETH SHORT
What do you mean?

MAN #4
Put the sides down. Just…talk to me.

ELIZABETH SHORT
What would you like to talk about?

MAN #4
I don’t know…Anything…Do you have a
boyfriend?

FADE OUT

EXT. THE SANTA MONICA PIER – NIGHT

Kay and Bucky sit on a bench, looking out at the water.

KAY
I could take sick days. Maybe a trip to
Santa Barbara, or even a drive to San
Francisco…

BUCKY
Kay.

FAY
You don’t owe him a thing, Bucky. I know
you won’t believe me. But you’ve more
than repaid him already.

He looks at her and she knows it’s useless.

KAY (cont’d)
When?

BUCKY
First thing.

She takes his hand.

KAY
You’re a fool, Dwight.

EXT. THE SAN DIEGO FREEWAY – LATE MORNING

as Bucky crosses the border into Mexico.

VOICE OVER
I closed out my glory days the only way I
knew how–I chased the gone man.

EXT. TIJUANA STREETS – VARIOUS SHOTS – DAY

Bucky hands out pennies and nickels to locals, flashing both
his badge and snapshots of Lee.

CUT TO:

BUCKY AND AN ENTOURAGE OF TRAILING LOCALS

as Bucky tries to shake them, pulling out his pockets to show
them he has no more coins.

CUT TO:

BUCKY QUESTIONING TIJUANA COPS

graduating from small change to one dollar bills. Same of
them seem to have stories to tell.

VOICE OVER
I got headshakes, bullshit broadsides and
a strange series of tales that rang true.
One had “el blanco explosivo” beating the
shit out of three jack rollers, then
buying off the cops with double-saws
peeled from a large roll.
Another had Lee donating 200 scoots to a
leper ministry priest and then driving to
Ensenada.

EXT – THE COASTAL ROAD – LATE AFTERNOON

as Bucky drives South, passing a sign which says “ENSENADA
60 MI.”

He passes a cluster of families walking on the side of the
road. They carry suitcases and head North.

EXT. THE COAST ROAD – NEAR ENSENADA

Bucky approaches Ensenada. The trickle of families headed
north has now becoming a roadside migration march. Every
fifth of sixth marcher carries a torch or lantern.

EXT. THE CITY LIMITS OF ENSENADA – NIGHT

Bucky cruises slowly into town and the most blatant shakedown
he’s ever seen:

Rurales in brownshirts walk from peasant to peasant in the
northbound migration line, taking money and attaching tags to
their shoulders with staple guns; plainclothes cops sell bags
of beef jerky and dried fruit, putting coins into dispensers
attached to their belts.

Two Rurales pull a man out of line and beat him senseless
with the butts of their sawed-off shotguns.

VOICE OVER
I decided it would be wise to check in
with the law before going out to question
the Ensenada citizenry.

EXT. THE ENSENADA POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Bucky stands outside a converted church with the word POLICIA
painted in black over religious scenes.

INT. THE POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Velvet wall hangings depicting Jesus decorate the entrance
hall. Blackshirts lounge on converted pews, a huge carved
cross on the front desk betrays its altar origins.

Bucky slides the Rurale at the desk his badge and a dollar.
The man saunters off down the hall.

INT. THE POLICE CHIEF’S OFFICE – MINUTES LATER

as Bucky is escorted in. The man sitting behind the desk
looks up. In flawless English:

CAPTAIN VASQUEZ
Officer Bleichert. Come in, please. I’m
Captain Vasquez. How can I help you?

Bucky exchanges his badge for a photo of Lee.

BUCKY
This man’s LAPD. He’s been missing in
Mexico since January. He was last seen
headed here.

Vasquez studies the photo. Bucky senses a twitch…

CAPTAIN VASQUEZ
No. I’m afraid not. I’ll ask my men,
however. Staying the night?

BUCKY
At least.

VASQUEZ
Are you here alone?

BUCKY
I have two partners waiting for me in
Tijuana.

Vasquez nods, hard to know if he believes Bucky any more than
Bucky believes him.

BUCKY (cont’d)
If you don’t mind I’ll check back in the
morning.

CAPTAIN VASQUEZ
Please.

CUT TO:

INT. A FLEABAG MOTEL ROOM – LATER

Bucky squeezes a bit of brown water onto a handkerchief and
wipes his brow off. He kicks his travel bag underneath the
bed and heads out.

EXT. THE HALLWAY – CONTINUOUS

as Bucky pulls two hairs from his head and spit-glues them to
the door jamb.

EXT. THE ENSENADA STREETS – NIGHT

Garish neon, military personnel. Brownshirts packing serious
weapons keeping the mostly white street crowd in order.

HIS POV: An adobe streetfront with a neon sign: “CLUB BOXEO”.
Bucky goes inside.

INT. THE CLUB BOXEO – CONTINUOUS

Bucky finds a brightly lit room filled with sailors and half-
dressed Mexican strippers. He stands on his tip-toes trying
to see over the crowd to find somebody with the air of
proprietor.

Cn a far wall: boxing publicity stills. He wanders over.

CLOSE ON THE WALL OF STILLS:

A row of light-heavies: Gus Lesnevich, Billy Conn, and Bucky.
Three stills over, next to Joe Louis, is Lee’s photo. They
all look so young…So good…

An old voice in English breaks his reverie:

OLD MAN
Bleichert? Jesus. First Blanchard, then
you. Who’s next? Willie Pep?

Bucky wheels and finds himself face to face with an old man.

BUCKY
Blanchard? You’ve seen him? When?

OLD MAN
Couple months ago. Heavy rains in
February. Musta talked fights for ten
hours straight. You know Blanchard thinks
the feathers are the best division? me,
it’s the middies for sure. La Motta,
Graziano–

BUCKY
Is he still in town?

OLD MAN
Don’t think so. I own this place. He
ain’t been back. You lookin’ for a
rematch?

BUCKY
I’m looking to get him out of a shitload
of trouble.

The old pug looks him up and down.

OLD MAN
Well. I’ll tell ya the little I know.
Heard he caused a ruckus over at the Club
Satan, had to bribe his way out big with
Captain Vasquez. Talk to Ernie the cook.
Tell him I said to be kosher with you.

BUCKY
Thank you.

OLD MAN
You ain’t been in there.

INT. CLUB SATAN – LATER

Bucky walks into the biggest sewer you have ever seen. The
bar is a urinal trough where marines and sailors masturbate
while going down on nude women squatting on the bartop. Blow
jobs are being dispensed underneath tables facing the
bandstand.

Up on the stage a man in a Satan costume is fucking a woman
on a mattress. Next to him, a donkey with red velvet horns
pinned to his head eats hay out of a bowl while drunken
servicemen shout “Donkey! Donkey!”

Bucky is accosted by a disgusting old woman.

OLD WOMAN
You wan’ the bar, handsome? Breakfast of
champions, one dollar. Round the world,
two dollars.

BUCKY
Ernie. I need to see Ernie.

OLD WOMAN
Vamanos!

And grabs him by the arm…

INT. THE KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS

ERNIE, a half-Mexican half-Chinese man, stands next to a huge
vat of stew. Bucky flashes Lee’s photo.

BUCKY
I heard this man gave you some trouble a
while back.

ERNIE
Who wants to know?

Bucky flashes his badge, giving him a glimpse of his gun.

ERNIE
You his friend?

BUCKY
He’s my best friend.

The chef tucks his hands into his aprons, fidgeting.

ERNIE
Your friend drink fourteen shots of my
best Mescal, a house record. That I like.
He make toasts to dead women. That I don’t
mind. But he try to fuck with my donkey
show, and that I don’t take.

BUCKY
What happened?

ERNIE
Four of my guys he take, the fifth he
don’t. Rurales take him home to sleep it
off.

BUCKY
That’s it?

Ernie casually pulls a switchblade out of his apron and
scratches the back of his neck with it.

ERNIE
Finito.

EXT. THE CLUB SATAN – LATER

Bucky walks outside and begins weaving his way back through
the crowds. Out of the corner of his eye he catches a couple
Rurales who seem to have taken an interest in him.

He dodges down an alley and cuts down another street,
breaking into a slow jog.

EXT. ANOTHER STREET – SECONDS LATER

Bucky walks backwards, checking the crowd. He’s lost them.

INT. THE FLEABAG MOTEL – LATER

Bucky stands in front of his door. He runs his finger up and
down the door jamb. The hairs are gone.

With one swift kick he breaks down the door.

INT. THE MOTEL ROOM – SECONDS LATER

A white man stands with his hands raised.

MAN
Whoa, Bleichert. I’m a friend–

Bucky gestures with his gun for the man to hit the wall. He
frisks him, pulling out a wallet and tossing on the bed.

MAN (cont’d)
Milton Dolphine, citizen of San Diego and
a licensed private dick. I got seventy
bucks in there but that money’s jackshit
compared to what Blanchard was holding.
You go partners with me and it’s easy
street–

Bucky kicks the man’s legs out and pushes his to the floor.

BUCKY
You tell me all of it and you watch what
you say about my partner, or it’s a B&E
roust and the Ensenada jail.

Dolphine pulls himself up.

DOLPHINE
You mean Vasquez? How do you think I knew
to follow you? He’s got a vested interest
in you not finding out about Blanchard.

Bucky eyes the door.

BUCKY
Does he know I’m staying here?

DOLPHINE
No.

Bucky steps back from Dolphine.

BUCKY
So. Let’s hear it.

DOLPHINE
About a month ago this Mexican woman
shows up at my office in Dago. Chubby,
ten tons a makeup, but dressed to the
nines. Offers me five hundred to find
Blanchard. Just like you I track him here
where he’s playing the rich gringo–

A FLASHBACK – LEE TEARING UP AN ENSENADA BAR

DOLPHINE
I even see him beat up two spics who
insult this Senorita–Rurales stand by
and do nothing. So I know he’s paying
protection dough. A lot of it. Then I
hear he paid off two plainclothes Rurale
to snuff a coupla guys in TJ–

A FLASHBACK – BOBBY DE WITT AND FELIX CASCO BLOWN AWAY…

DOLPHINE
I leave a message in Dago for the woman
tellin’ her what I know…

BUCKY
What’s her name?

DOLPHINE
Delores Garcia. But it was obviously a
phony. Casco ran with some rich bimbos
and I’m betting she’s one of his. Revenge
on Blanchard for offin’ Felix.

Bucky tightens his grip on the slats of a wooden chair. This
is hitting him hard.

BUCKY
Go on.

DOLPHINE
I come back to Ensenada on my own,
thinking about all that cash he was
flashing.

Bucky’s jaw clenches.

DOLPHINE (cont’d)
You wanna hear this?

BUCKY
Go on.

DOLPHINE
Blanchard’s dead. Bullet in the cabeza.
(beat) Rumor is they never found any
money.

Bucky’s head begins to reel…

DOLPHINE (cont’d)
Maybe the Rurales. Maybe that woman or
friends of hers. Who knows? I figured
Blanchard was rogue, figured someone like
you’d come lookin’ for him. Maybe have a
line on where the cash was. You knew
Blanchard, maybe we can–

Bucky backhands Dolphine hard, knocking him off the chair.

DOLPHINE (cont’d)
Look I didn’t know it was personal! Don’t
hit me again–

Bucky has his gun out, leveled at Dolphine.

BUCKY
Prove it to me. Prove it!

EXT. THE BACKROADS OF ENSENADA – NIGHT

Dolphine drives his car while Bucky trains his gun on him.

They come over a ridge and find themselves on a big bluff
overlooking the ocean. A HUGE WOODEN BURNING CROSS marks the
spot.

DOLPHINE
The locals keep the damn thing lit up.
They got a lotta missing relatives.

BUCKY
You got a shovel?

DOLPHINE
Gardening tools–

BUCKY
Good enough.

EXT. THE BLUFF – LATER

Bucky scavenges a spare piece of picket fence, wraps it in a
rag and lights a torch off of the cross. Dolphine kicks at a
filthy American flag in the sand.

DOLPHINE
Here. Supposed to be near el bannero.

CUT TO:

A SMALL SHOVEL PUSHING INTO THE GROUND

as Dolphine digs at gun point. After a few strokes the crunch
of the shovel hitting bone.

Bucky terrified to look but has to know–

–a white jumper–

DOLPHINE
Sailor’s uniform. It’s a sailor…

Bucky breathes out hard. Unbearable. Dolphine digs on,
pushing the corpse out of the way and digging further into he
sand.

Bucky can’t stand the suspense. He tucks his gun into his
waistband and grabs the shovel. After a few more strokes the
thump of something solid.

And suddenly it’s there–sunburned pink skin, blond hair and
stitch scars on the eyebrows.

Lee Blanchard. Lee Blanchard. Lee Blanchard.

And Bucky’s in Dolphine’s truck while Dolphine’s screaming
for him to wait and Bucky slams the truck in reverse,
knocking the burning cross to the ground and grinding out out
of the sand onto the road, heading north and leaving Dolphine
and Lee alone at the grave…Heading north like a refugee…

EXT. KAY’S HOUSE – DAWN

Bucky’s car rolls up slowly as he kills the engine, trying
not to make any noise.

The sun comes up, illuminating Bucky’s filthy face as he
watches the picture-perfect house, wishing time would stand
still. Or better yet, wishing it would go back…

Finally he gets out of the car and begins a long walk into
the house.

DISSOLVE TO:

A LAPD CHAPLAIN READING SOLEMNLY FROM A BIBLE

But as the camera PULLS BACK we see Bucky in his dress blues
standing next to Kay in a wedding dress.

EXT. THE BACKYARD OF KAY’S HOUSE

Russ Millard and Harry Sears stand by as the only two guests.

VOICE OVER
Lee and Kay had lived in sin; not because
their shack job was against department
regs, but because the ghosts of their
past had forced them to choose between
love and passion, the veneer of a “fairy
tale” only a band-aid for a fractured
life.

DISSOLVE TO:

LEE AND KAY DANCING TOGETHER

as Harry and Russ drink from a punch bowl…

VOICE OVER
Our true vows were made in private; bury
the past, bury our ghosts, and as Kay
said, “bury that fucking girl”…

ANOTHER LAPD TRANSFER FORM: “Officer Dwight
Bleichert…Reassigned to: Scientific investigation
Detail”

INT. THE LAPD SCIENCE LAB – DAY

Bucky with plastic gloves on typing blood with an eye dropper
and a test tube. Meticulous and boring.

News radio plays in the background…

A Detective pokes his head in:

DETECTIVE
Bleichert? You got those prints for me?

Bucky pulls a file out of a stack and gives it to him. The
nonchalance of a man whose job has become routine.

DETECTIVE (cont’d)
Thanks. We gotta hot one I think.

Bucky smiles politely and returns to his desk. The radio:

ANNOUNCER
…results in the 1948 Republican primary
are final…John Dougdale trouncing D.A.
Ellis Loew 64% to 36%…In county
primaries…

This gets a smile from Bucky as he returns to his test tubes
and beakers.

INT. AN APARTMENT – CRIME SCENE – DAY

Detectives comb through a murder scene as Bucky collects
latent fingerprints off doorknobs. No one pays him any
attention. He’s been relegated to the worst kind of
purgatory.

INT. THE KITCHEN – MORNING

Bucky and Kay drink coffee and read the morning paper. She
absently strokes his free hand.

Bucky intently reads the front page.

The headline reads: “CITY COUNCIL INVESTIGATES ’20s BOOM
BARONS FOR SHODDY HOME CONSTRUCTION”.

Underneath, a picture of Sprague and Mack Sennett posing in
front of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign.

He’s startled by Kay tapping her finger on the photo.

KAY
That reminds me of something, Dwight.

Bucky tries to hide his panic.

BUCKY
What?

KAY
Floorboard’s loose near the closet. Think
you could fix it?

BUCKY
(relieved)
Sure, babe.

The phone rings. Bucky answers it.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Hello…Hey Vic…

Bucky writes something on a piece of paper. Hangs up.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Gotta go. Work-up on a probable gunshot
suicide.

KAY
Sounds lovely. Where is it?

BUCKY
Hancock Park.

EXT. A COLONIAL MANSION – JUNE STREET – MORNING

Bucky rings the bell. He’s dressed plainclothes and carries a
technician’s canvas bag.

An attractive woman in her early fifties opens the door.

WOMAN
Yes?

BUCKY
I’m Officer Bleichert. LAPD. My I express
my condolences, Mrs.–

WOMAN
Jane Chambers. Condolences accepted.
You’re the lab man?

He nods yes. She lets him in and he follows.

JANE CHAMBERS
It’s the study in back of the dining
room. You’ll see the police rope. If
you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my garden.

He notices for the first time she’s dressed for gardening.

INT. THE STUDY – MORNING

Bucky steps over the police rope and into the study. A large
desk chair lies overturned an the ground next to A TAPE
OUTLINE OF A BODY. Three feet away lies A SHOTGUN.

Behind the chair the brown spattering of blood and brains
decorates the white wall and crown mouldings.

CUT TO:

A SERIES OF SHOTS

as Bucky measures the splatter marks on the walls, scrapes
tissue from the muzzle of the gun, dusts it for latent
prints, etc. At the end he wraps the gun in a plastic bag.

INT. THE HALLWAY – CONTINUOUS

as Bucky steps over the police rope and walks back towards
the main foyer. He stops short.

ON THE OPPOSING WALL

hangs a disturbing PAINTING: the portrait of a clown, a young
boy done up in court jester’s garb. His body is gnarled and
hunched. He wears a stuporous ear-to-ear smile that looks
like one continuous deep scar.

It is eerily reminiscent of Elizabeth Short’s death wound.

Spooked, Bucky pulls his eyes away and settles them on nearby
family photos–two young women linked arm in arm.

JANE CHAMBERS
The other survivors. Pretty aren’t they?

She arrives next to him, dusty with soil.

BUCKY
Like their mother. How old are they?

JANE CHAMBERS
Twenty-one and twenty-three. Are you
finished in the study?

BUCKY
Yes. Tell whoever cleans it up to use
pure ammonia…
(looking at the two girls)
Mrs. Chambers–

JANE CHAMBERS
Jane.

BUCKY
Jane, do you know Madeleine and Martha
Sprague? The next block over?

JANE CHAMBERS
(snorts)
Those girls and that family. How do you
know them?

BUCKY
I did a little work for them once.

JANE CHAMBERS
Consider it lucky if it was a brief
encounter.

BUCKY
How do you mean?

The hallway phone rings. Jane moves to answer it.

JANE CHAMBERS
Back to condolences. Thank you for being
so nice, Mr.–

BUCKY
Bucky. Good-bye, Jane.

JANE CHAMBERS
Good-bye.

INT. THE CRIME LAB – LATER

Bucky writes up a report. VIC pokes his head in.

VIC
You finish working up the suicide, Bucky?

BUCKY
Yeah. Pretty routine. Whattya know about
the husband?

VIC
Eldridge Chambers? Widow said he was
depressed, failing health. The terrible
burden of all that money’ll get you every
time.

BUCKY
Wonder how he made it?

VIC
No mystery there. Real estate.

BUCKY
Oh really?

INT. THE GARAGE – EVENING

The garage door is open to the evening air. Bucky’s heavy bag
and speed bag hang on hooks. Bucky leans against a stool, a
large box open on the work bench.

INSIDE THE BOX

Bucky brushes aside a clutter of junk and pulls out A PHOTO
ALBUM. He opens it and begins flipping through: articles and
photos concerning Elizabeth Short. MOSTLY PHOTOS.

It’s like a man in a mid-life crisis fantasizing about his
high school sweetheart.

OFF ONE OF THE PHOTOS WE DISSOLVE TO:

ANOTHER ELIZABETH SHORT CASTING SESSION

“Elizabeth Short…Screen Test #5”

She rambles on, almost oblivious of the camera.

ELIZABETH SHORT
…I had a fiance, Captain Matt Durand.
He was in a tank battalion. A Commander.
He had…the fiercest blue eyes. Like the
deep water you see from a fishing boat…

She’s lost in thought…we’re not sure whether this is a
scene, her real life, or just a sad lie…

THE NOISE OF A CAR APPROACHING

BACK TO SCENE

Bucky drops the album back in the box as Kay’s car pulls into
the driveway. He covers it back up.

KAY
(getting out)
What’re you doing?

BUCKY
I’m…looking for the hammer.

She points over his shoulder to the hammer hanging in plain
view.

INT. THE BEDROOM – LATER

Bucky kneels on the ground near the closet, toolbox next to
him. He pulls on the floorboard, it flexes and squeaks.

He uses the hammer to pull the board completely off. He
squeezes wood glue around the edges and is about to replace
the board when something under the floor catches his eye.

He reaches into the hole, pulling out STACKS OF HUNDRED
DOLLAR BILLS BOUND WITH RUBBER BANDS.

He spies another scrap of paper in the hole…

INT. THE KITCHEN – SAME

Kay pours two scotches.

KAY
Dwight?

She carries the scotches into the bedroom and finds Dwight
sitting on the floor, staring at thousands of dollars in
cash.

He holds a paper money band inscribed: “$100…Boulevard-
Citizens Bank…”

KAY (cont’d)
Oh. I…always wondered where he kept it.

THE BOULEVARD-CITIZENS BANK HEIST – A FLASHBACK

A SHOTGUN BLAST shatters the back window of the armored
truck. In the front seat, LEE BLANCHARD ducks down as the
driver hits the gas…

BACK ON THE SCENE

as Bucky leans back against the bed.

BUCKY
Were you ever going to tell me?

KAY
He’d given all his money to Ben Siegel.
(beat) He wanted to give me a home.

A FLASHBACK – LEE’S CAR

Lee and Bucky, their first day as partners…

LEE
…said I’d get a shot at Joe Louis if
I’d take two dives for him. I said no…

BACK ON THE SCENE

as Bucky looks straight up into the ceiling light…

BUCKY
Were you ever going to tell me?

KAY
He knew what Bobby was doing to me…How
he’d used a razor on me…pimped me to
his friends…

INT. DEWITT’S APARTMENT – A FLASHBACK

as Lee plants the incriminating bank bags in DeWitt’s closet…

BACK ON THE SCENE

Bucky staring back into the hole in the floor…

KAY
…Bobby know nothing about the bank job.
He and Lee, they never even met. After
Lee and his driver got away, Lee figured
framing Bobby’d give me a way out…

EXT. DEWITT’S TRIAL – FLASHBACK

Lee leads Kay out of the courtroom.

BACK ON THE SCENE

as Kay leans down next to Bucky, gently putting her hand on
his shoulder…

KAY
Then last year…the fourth man–the
driver–he heard Bobby was getting
paroled. He threatened to tell DeWitt
that Lee framed him. He wanted money we
didn’t have. Ten thousand dollars.

BUCKY
Ever. Were you ever…?

KAY
Promise me this: Forgive him for DeWitt.
Forgive him for the bank. It doesn’t
matter anymore. Not to us.

BUCKY
Who was the driver, Kay? Tell me. Tell
me!

He’s in her face now. Okay, pal, you asked for it.

KAY
Baxter Fitch.

EXT. THE STREET – A FLASHBACK

Three black man and a white man get rousted by Lee and Bucky.

BAXTER FITCH
Blanchard?

Chaos erupts as Lee executes Baxter Fitch and Bucky kills two
others…

BACK TO THE SCENE

on Bucky’s anguished face:

KAY (cont’d)
He used you, Dwight. He did. Forgive him
everything else. But don’t forgive him
for that. Ever.

She reaches for his face and he pulls away.

SLO-MO CLOSE-UP…

as the crumpled money drops down into the hole in the floor,
into the blackness…

WE FADE UP TO:

INT. THE GARAGE – NIGHT

Bucky, stripped to bare chest, attacks the heavy beg.

VOICE OVER
Fire and Ice. The hero and the snitch.
Bank robber and his best friend the
bumfuck detective. Triggerman. Stooge.
Weak point in a fairy tale triangle.

He lashes into the heavy bag with a series of brutal left
hooks. Kay stands in the door, watching him. Her eyes red
from crying.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
I would forgive Lee the bank job. And I
thought I’d forgive Kay her role in
keeping it from me. But the basic rule of
Homicide applied: Nothing stays buried
forever. Corpses. Ghosts. Nothing stays
buried forever. Nothing.

Kay turns around and shuts the door behind her.

EXT. JANE CHAMBER’S GARDEN – DAY

Bucky and Jane drink iced tea. A glorious garden behind them.

JANE CHAMBERS
So. What brings you around again?
Considering a courtin’ the old rich
widow?

BUCKY
You’re not that old. And you’re not very
widowed.

JANE CHAMBERS
You either are or you aren’t.

BUCKY
You seem to be doing all right.

JANE CHAMBERS
Eldridge had cancer. I half expected it.
We weren’t that close anymore…You married?

BUCKY
Little over a year.

JANE CHAMBERS
God. Newlyweds. Nothing better, is there?

Bucky’s face betrays his difficulties.

JANE CHAMBERS (cont’d)
Sorry.

BUCKY
So how well do you know the Spragues?

JANE CHAMBERS
Eldridge and Emmett went way back. They
served on the California real estate
board together. But Emmett was a bit of a
crook. My husband got him kicked off the
board for building dangerous buildings
under phony corporations.

BUCKY
Your husband sounds like a good man.

JANE CHAMBERS
He had his moments. Most of it was out of
guilt. He owned slum blocks in San Pedro.
When he learned he had cancer, he really
started feeling guilty. He voted
Democratic last year. Even went in and
had meetings with the City Council. I’m
sure he gave them dirt on Emmett.

BUCKY
I read an article in the paper.

JANE CHAMBERS
Same day Eldridge killed himself.
Apropos, I guess.

BUCKY
Maybe your husband–

JANE CHAMBERS
My husband was rich and did a mean
Charleston. I loved him until I found out
he was cheating on me. Now I’m starting
to love him again. How strange.

BUCKY
It’s not so strange.

They watch each other, enjoying each other’s company. A
strange emotional peace.

JANE CHAMBERS
You’re very accepting of other people’s
frailties. You’re young. You should have
illusions.

BUCKY
I’m a cop. Illusions aren’t standard
issue.

JANE CHAMBERS
So how’d a cop get mixed up with
Madeleine Sprague? It was Madeleine, I
assume?

Bucky’s gut clenches.

BUCKY
I stopped her at a red light. One thing
led to another. Why do you assume it was
Madeleine?

JANE CHAMBERS
Don’t play dumb, Bucky. The girl’s a
roundheels. Always has been.

BUCKY
Jane. Don’t be catty.

JANE CHAMBERS
I’m sorry. She can’t help it I’m sure.
She probably inherited it from her
mother.

Before Bucky can press Jane stands up with the tray of iced
tea. The visit is over.

JANE CHAMBERS
You figure out the rest, officer.

He follows her back inside.

INT. THE HALLWAY – SAME

As they stop momentarily in front of the scary clown painting.

BUCKY
God that is spooky.

JANE CHAMBERS
Valuable, too. Eldridge bought it for my
birthday a couple years ago. I hate it.
Want to take it with you?

BUCKY
No thanks.

JANE CHAMBERS
Thank you, then. You were my best
condoler.

BUCKY
And you mine.

Jane gives Bucky a warm handshake.

EXT. THE STREET – HANCOCK PARK – SOON AFTER

Bucky pulls out of June Street, and passes Muirfield. He
slows for a moment, squinting down the street, trying to
discern the Sprague mansion. He drives on.

We hang on the sign for Muirfield Avenue as the day turns to
night…

And down Muirfield Road, we see Bucky’s car parked in the
shadows. Watching the Sprague house. A voyeur.

INT. KAY AND BUCKY’S BEDROOM – MORNING

Bucky sleeps soundly as Kay readies herself for work. She
watches him for a moment, considering whether to wake him.
She decides not to and leaves.

The minute she goes, Bucky opens his eyes…

EXT. MUIRFIELD ROAD – HANCOCK PARK – EVENING

Bucky spies on the Spragues. He digs back into his seat as
Madeleine comes down the walk and puts mail in the mail box.
Just for a second it looks like she sees him…maybe not…

INT. CRIME LAB – DAY

Bucky dozes, his tie almost catching on fire in a Bunsen
burner.

EXT. THE MUIRFIELD ROAD STAKEOUT – EVENING

Bucky leans against the window, propping himself up.

ACROSS THE STREET

Madeleine’s Packard pulls out and roars up the street. Bucky
guns his car to follow…

EXT. THE ZIMBA ROOM – NIGHT

Bucky follows the Packard into a crowded GI bar parking lot.
He parks a distance away. But as he watches Madeleine get out
of her car he is staggered:

It’s ELIZABETH SHORT.

Or, more accurately, it’s Madeleine dressed up exactly like
the Dahlia in one of her famous portrait photos. Slinky black
dress, upswept hair, down to the yellow barrette. She strides
into the bar…

INT. THE ZIMBA ROOM – NIGHT

Bucky ducks into a smoke-filled GI bar where a commotion is
already taking place.

Madeleine is surrounded by soldiers fawning all over her.
Other men simply point and whisper–her Dahlia act isn’t lost
on anybody.
Bucky slides into a booth in the corner to watch. He signals
for a drink.

INT. THE ZIMBA ROOM – NIGHT – LATER

Four bourbons later. Bucky watches as Madeleine settles into
a more intimate conversation with one soldier. Bucky downs
his drink as Madeleine grabs the GI’s elbow and escorts him
out of the bar.

EXT. THE RED ARROW INN – LATER

Bucky sits in his car in the parking lot watching the soldier
loiter outside of A motel room. Madeleine returns from the
office with the key and lets the two of them in.

He watches as the light goes on; and then off.

INT. KAY AND BUCKY’S BEDROOM – LATER

Bucky comes into the bedroom to find Kay waiting up for him.

KAY
Dwight–

He moves to her, pulling off his clothes as quickly as he
can.

KAY (cont’d)
Dwight–

He’s on top of her, his bourbon stained kisses go and down
her neck and her breasts.

She responds, but not quickly enough for him. He rushes into
her before she’s ready. Still, she tries to be there for him,
hoping to catch up with his lust.

She doesn’t. And they both know it. They embrace, trying to
cover up the hollow awkwardness with familiar affection.

It doesn’t work…

INT. THAD GREEN’S OFFICE – DAY

Bucky sits at Thad Green’s desk, penitent.

THAD GREEN
SID’s not a bad beat, Bucky. At the time
it was better than you deserved.

Bucky nods.

THAD GREEN (cont’d)
The blues hate you, Bucky. Vogel was
their pal. I do this for you, you better
be fucking supercop.

Bucky just sits silent.

ANOTHER LAPD TRANSFER ORDER: “Transfer order…Officer
Bleichert…From SID…to Newton Street Division,
Nightwatch.

EXT. NEWTON STREET – MIDNIGHT

Bucky back in uniform again. This time, the black slums.
Heroin hookers, hard-core dealers, gangs.

VOICE OVER
Newton Street Division. Footbeat hacks
carried metal-studded saps; squadroom
dicks packed .45 automatics loaded with
unregulation dum-dums.

INT. A LIQUOR STORE DOORWAY – NIGHT

Bucky and a large black man come tumbling out of the liquor
store throwing vicious punches at each other.

Bucky takes three to land six, eventually knocking the guy
out. He looks across the street to see to cops watching him,
measuring him.

INT. AN ALLEY – NIGHT

As Bucky chases two men towards a chain link fence at the end
of the alley. One of them gets to the fence and scrambles up
it. Bucky yanks the other one off the fence, slamming him to
the ground.

VOICE OVER
Kay. Lee. Madeleine. Betty Short. For one
month I escaped them all.

INT. KAY AND BUCKY’S HOUSE – NIGHT

As Kay sleeps alone in the bed.

VOICE OVER
A fucking supercop.

INT. A JAZZ BAR – EARLY MORNING

Bucky sits in his uniform listening to a jazz quartet.

INT. KAY AND BUCKY’S LIVING ROOM – MORNING

Bucky sleeps on the couch as Kay leaves for work.

VOICE OVER
I escaped them all. Almost.

EXT. A STREET CORNER – NIGHT

Bucky in his patrol car. The night a hot sweat. He listens to
music on his radio and watches two hookers dance on the
corner, waving at cars.

A SCRAGGLY OLD WINO staggers up to the women, stumbling
around them, dancing with them. They sneer at him, tell him
to beat it.

INSIDE THE PATROL CAR

Bucky flashes his headlights at the bum. The bum ignores him.
Bucky flashes them again, annoyed.

The bum looks into the glare and flips Bucky off.

And suddenly Bucky snaps, jumping from his car. In three big
strides he’s on the bum, clobbering him with roundhouse lefts
and rights.

The women are screaming. The drunk is screaming.

OLD DRUNK
Pleease!

Bucky drops him, staggering into a phone booth. He drops a
nickel in the phone. Dials a number. Ring. Ring. Ring…

He hangs up. Dials another. A woman’s voice answers.

BUCKY
It’s me.

EXT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – NIGHT

Bucky’s just onto the porch steps when Madeleine answers the
door. She’s dressed like the Dahlia.

He pushes her inside.

VOICE OVER
It was a reunion of avowed tramps, old
rutters who knew they’d never have it as
good with anyone else…
Afterwards we’d talk through the night.
The Spragues…Crazy Papa Bleichert…

INT. AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM – DAY

Sixth graders write in silence. Kay sits at her desk, sadness
in her eyes as she watches the children.

VOICE OVER
Mostly, though we’d talk about Betty. Her
utter malleability, a chameleon eager to
please anybody…and the disrupter of
every life close to me…It would last a
month.

INT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – MORNING

Bucky stands in the living room, examining family photos. A
photo of two young, proud WWI vets: George Tilden and Emmett
Sprague…A photo of the dark-haired Ramona and the ruddy and
fair-haired Emmett…Photos of Madeleine and Martha, the
brunette and the ruddy blond…Back to the first photo:
George Tilden’s dark hair.

Madeleine wanders in, Bucky smiles at her.

MADELEINE
What?

BUCKY
Nothing.

She runs her hands over his shoulders.

BUCKY (cont’d)
I thought the family came back from
Laguna this week.

MADELEINE
(her Scottish brogue)
You miss ‘em, laddie? Mother’s insults?
Martha’s pornography…

BUCKY
Your father’s Georgie Tilden war stories?

He scans her for a reaction. If she has one it ripples
through her almost undetectable. Almost.

EXT. JANE CHAMBER’S HOUSE – LATER

As Bucky cruises by, grinning. He salutes the house.

VOICE OVER
In the scheme of things it wasn’t much.
Rich old lady gossip, as Jane put it.

CUT TO:

EXT. BUCKY’S NEIGHBORHOOD – DAY

as he drives onto his own modest street.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
But combine it with banging Madeleine in
all twenty-two rooms of their mansion, it
was good enough for me.

EXT. KAY AND BUCKY’S HOUSE – DAY

A moving van in the driveway and Kay’s Plymouth stuffed with
boxes. Bucky double-parks and bolts up the steps.

The van pulls away behind him.

BUCKY
(to the van driver)
Hey! Goddammit! Get back here!

The van driver ignores him; Bucky turns as Kay walks out onto
the porch.

KAY
I didn’t touch your things. You can have
the furniture.

BUCKY
Babe–

KAY
Did you think I’d let my husband
disappear for three weeks and do nothing
about it? I’ve had detectives following
you, Dwight. Detectives. She looks like
that fucking dead girl, so you can have
her–not me.

BUCKY
Babe. Goddammit.

He reaches for her and she backs out of grabbing range.

KAY
Whoremonger. Coward. Necrophile.

She spins out of his grasp and makes for her car. She guns
the engine and disappears.

INT. THE HOUSE – SECONDS LATER

Bucky stands in the middle of the living room, cataloguing
the little things. No periodicals on the coffee table, half
the record collection gone, no candlesticks.

He picks up the largest chair (Lee’s favorite) and throws it
at the wall. Next, Kay’s rocking chair shatters the glass
cabinets. The coffee table goes through the front window.

IN THE BEDROOM

Bucky yanks out all the drawers, turns over the bed.

IN THE BATHROOM

he takes a pipe wrench to the sink, crushes the mirror with
one blow…

In a terrible ten rounder with the ghosts of his past Bucky
demolishes the dream house, pulls his uniforms out of the
closet and bolts out of the house, leaving the door open so
scavengers can pick the place clean…

INT. THE EL NIDO – NIGHT

Bucky sits on the bed, his back pushed up against the wall.
Eyeball to eyeball with Elizabeth Short, Betty, Liz, the
Black Dahlia.

A collage of photos and file folders…

VOICE OVER
It came on then, big and ugly: bye-bye
Bleichert at the bus stop, adios
shitbird, has-been, never-was, stool
pigeon harness bull.

EXT. THE SLUMS – LATE NIGHT

Bucky stands in the worst of slums, his blue uniform a beacon
to anyone who would do him harm.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
You traded a good woman for skunk pussy,
you’ve turned everything that’s been
handed you to pure, undiluted shit, your
“I will’s” amount to the eighth round at
the Academy gym when you stepped into a
Blanchard right hand–pratfalling into
clover that you turned into horse dung.

ANOTHER ELIZABETH SHORT CASTING SESSION

No clapsticks this time. Just Betty Short sitting an the
couch. She reaches down and pulls off her pumps. Now she
reaches under her dress and begins unrolling her stockings.
Not sexy. Empty and resigned.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Bye-bye Betty, Beth, Betsy, Liz, we were
a couple of tramps, too bad we didn’t
meet before 39th and Norton, it just
might have worked. Maybe us would’ve been
the one thing we wouldn’t have fucked up
past redemption…

EXT. 39TH AND NORTON – NIGHT – LATER

An apartment complex has been erected at the murder site.

EXT. AN AERIAL VIEW OF LOS ANGELES – DAY

ANGLE ON: THE HOLLYWOODLAND SIGN. As we watch the sign
changes, the “D” dropping off the end. It now reads
“HOLLYWOODLAN”.

EXT. WILSHIRE DISTRICT – DAY

Bucky, unshaven and out of uniform, leans against his car on
a working class residential street. He stares across at a
modest Victorian house and the garage behind it. We recognize
it hopefully; we’ve been here before.

EXT. A GARAGE APARTMENT – CONTINUOUS

It’s Cleo Short’s apartment. Or at least it used to be. Bucky
peers in a window and sees it’s filled with junk.

He walks back towards the street, intent on heading back to
his car. on a hunch, he walks up onto the porch of the
Victorian house and rings the bell.

EXT. THE PORCH – SAME

Footsteps at the door. It opens to reveal another identical
twin to Elizabeth Short.

Bucky is stunned and can’t find his tongue.

GIRL
(Boston accent)
Can I help you? (no response). Great.
Take a hike you big sicko–

BUCKY
Wait–

She begins to shut the door but someone behind her pulls it
back open.

Cleo Short, Elizabeth’s father.

CLEO SHORT
It’s all right, dear. I know this pug.

INT. THE SITTING ROOM – LATER

The two men arrange themselves in chairs while the Betty look-
a-alike makes herself busy in the kitchen behind Cleo.

Bucky tries not to stare. He forces himself to focus on Cleo,
who, while five years older, looks much better than last time
Bucky saw him.

CLEO SHORT
Came into a little change a while back,
managed to trade in that shit shack out
back for these digs. (beat) And I don’t
give a fuck what you think, you and your
partner ain’t much to look at now. I read
the papers.

Bucky can’t deny that.

The young woman brings in two beers for Bucky and Cleo. Bucky
checks her out again. Cleo knows why.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
My youngest, Christine.

He squeezes her hand affectionately.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
Best housekeeper of the bunch. Can’t cook
a damn, though.
Got her sister’s star-eyes for the
pictures, damn straight. Thinks she’s
gonna be another goddamn Jayne Mansfield.
Get out of here, Chrissie…

She rolls her eyes, picks up a newspaper and heads out on the
porch.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
Used to be dozens’d stop by, you know.
Drive up from Dago or San Berdoo just to
snap a shot of the goddamn garage back
there. Thought maybe they’d find one of
Betty’s dresses in the garbage. Jackals.

BUCKY
You didn’t move far.

CLEO SHORT
Wouldn’t a mattered if I did. (beat)
Whatcha here for, mug? I know you ain’t
smart enough to solve the case, and you
ain’t dumb enough to still think I did
it…I had an alibi.

BUCKY
Tighter’n a popcorn fart.

CLEO SHORT
And that’s air tight, mug. Air tight.

Bucky takes a swig of his beer. Cleo’s eyes scour Bucky.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
You’re hooked on her still, ain’t ya? Ha.
That’s a plug nickel you can’t spend,
ain’t it, mug? Ha. Yea. Betty’ll do that
to a fella. Especially someone like you.
(off Bucky’s look)
Like I said, I know you mug.

BUCKY
I just thought…Maybe after all this
time…There’s something you might have
forgot…Anything she might have said…

Cleo studies him, knows Bucky’s a lost soul. He softens for
the first time. Leans forward, elbows on knees. Almost
looking like a father who’d lost a daughter.

CLEO SHORT
She was a terrible actress. I’m sure
folks’ve told you that. She’d practice in
front of the john mirror.
Once or twice she got me in on
it…Reading parts with her for some
audition. She stunk. Even a parent could
tell. What Beth was good at was writing.
All her teachers used to say that. Not
that a grease like me’d know the
difference. Maybe she coulda written for
the pictures. But she wanted to be an
actress like every other silly girl.

His gaze drifts outside to his youngest daughter.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
Your folks still alive?

BUCKY
My father.

CLEO SHORT
(poking)
He proud of his son, the ace copper? Or
maybe he thought you’d end up champ?

Bucky shrugs off any talk of his father. Cleo gets it.

CLEO SHORT
Your momma?

BUCKY
She killed herself a long time ago.

Cleo takes a swig of his beer.

CLEO SHORT
Probably better off then.

INT./EXT. THE LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Cleo follows Bucky out onto the porch. Christine reads a copy
of Photoplay. The cover touts the current Mack Sennett
Revival in honor of the revised Hollywoodland sign…

BUCKY
Thank you for your time, Mr. Short. if–

CLEO SHORT
Get a life, Bleichert. Don’t dream it all
away. Dreamin’ll kill ya.
(to Christine)
You, too. Get me a sandwich.

He snatches away the Photoplay and slaps it into Bucky’s
hands.

CLEO SHORT (cont’d)
Clean up some dog shit with this for me,
willya?

The man winks. Bucky takes the magazine and salutes him with
it. He heads back down the walk. Behind him Cleo Short
watches him go.

EXT./INT. BUCKY’S CAR – HOLLYWOOD – DUSK

Bucky sits at a light, staring north. Scaffolding drapes the
Hollywoodland sign. Movie lights have been set up, capturing
the event on film.

His attention turns to Christine’s Photoplay on the seat next
to him; the weekly rag is open to an ad for the Mack Sennett
revival:

A reproduction of the Hollywoodland sign across the top of
the page, and below it the words “Keystone Kops at the
Admiral Theater–Air conditioned!”

Below that a still from a Keystone Kops movie, registering
huge and loud and wrong: Three Keystone Kops standing between
pillars shaped like snakes swallowing their own tails; a wall
inset with Egyptian hieroglyphics was behind them.

Unmistakably the background that appeared in the Linda
Martin/Betty Short porn film.

Cars honking behind him. Bucky’s transfixed by the image. The
light is green.

He jerks upright and squeals out of the intersection.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE ADMIRAL THEATER – SOON AFTER

Bucky buys a ticket underneath a marquee which reads MACK
SENNETT REVIVAL”.

INT. THE THEATER – CONTINUOUS

A Keystone Kop short in progress. Bucky can barely sit down
to watch…

VOICE OVER
I tried to keep calm. I told myself that
just because Emmett Sprague helped Mack
Sennett build sets in the twenties didn’t
mean he had anything to do with a smut
film twenty-five years later.

And there’s a shot of the porn set–the Keystone Kops running
around in it like they’re solving at crime back in ancient
Egypt.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Duke Wellington had admitted making it.
Linda Martin had said it was shot in
Mexico.

The short ends with a large pie throwing scene on the porn
set. The credits begin to roll: “Director–Mack Sennett.
Scenarist–Mack Sennett. Assistant Director–Emmett
Sprague”

On Bucky’s face as one last piece of information hits him:
“Filmed in Hollywood, USA.”

EXT. THE MOVIE THEATER

as Bucky bursts out into the evening, the lights on the
Hollywood hill catching his attention.

INT. A FLASHBACK – THE SPRAGUE HOUSE

Bucky at dinner with the Spragues.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Mack Sennett? Helped him build that
housing project he was putting up–
Hollywoodland–

BACK TO THE SCENE

as Bucky stares up at the sign.

INT. EL NIDO – ROOM 204 – NIGHT

Bucky tears through it, pulling out files. The door opens –
it’s Russ Millard.

RUSS MILLARD
I got your message, Bucky.

BUCKY
Look, Russ…I think…I may have it. I–

RUSS MILLARD
It?

Bucky whirls around, gesturing to the room–

BUCKY
Her! Her! I’ve got a hot one, padre. It’s
just…

Bucky flops onto the bed, almost frantic.

RUSS MILLARD
Calm down, son. Tell me.

Bucky meets his eyes: forgive me my sins.

INT. BUCKY’S CAR – NIGHT

Bucky drives with Russ in the car next to him.

VOICE OVER
I told him everything. Me and Madeleine,
the Spragues. Withholding evidence for
her. Everything. Even Lee. After all of
it he only had one thing to say:

INT. THE EL NIDO – NIGHT – FLASHBACK

On Russ:

RUSS MILLARD
All right, then. It’s your ball. What do
you wanna do?

BUCKY
I want to search every fucking inch of
every goddamn acre of Emmett Sprague
property if it takes the rest of my
shitty career. And I know exactly where
we start.

INT. BUCKY’S CAR – BEACHWOOD CANYON – NIGHT

as they inch their way up into a huge traffic snarl in
Beachwood Canyon. The sign looms high above them as the “A”
is taken dawn.

VOICE OVER
Between my time with Madeleine and the
local boom baron expose in the papers, I
was practically an expert on Emmett
Sprague’s land deals…

EXT. A PARK AREA AT THE NORTH END OF BEACHWOOD DRIVE

A huge area is cordoned off as people watch the sign being
torn down.

Bucky and Russ leave the car there, badge the local blue
doing crowd control, and split off down a dirt side road into
the woods.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
For the first time since the beginning of
the whole fiasco, I stopped trying to
figure out who killed Elizabeth Short.
Instead, I focused on where.

EXT. A WOODED AREA – NIGHT

Bucky and Russ play a flashlight over a piece of paper, like
two men consulting a treasure map in the woods.

In the background is a tiny bungalow with the windows blown
out and the door hanging off its hinges.

VOICE OVER
And if my hunch was right, we wouldn’t
have to look any further than one of
Emmett Sprague’s condemned bungalows. One
that was isolated…abandoned…

They walk on, leaving this particular bungalow behind.

EXT. A STREAM – WOODS – LATER

Bucky shines the light in a running stream as they follow it
deeper into the night…

VOICE OVER
…and most importantly, close to a water
source…where one could drain a body of
its blood.

Bucky and Russ round a bend in the stream and see

THE SKELETON OF A BUNGALOW

teetering on the edge of the stream. Empty window and doors
hover over a rotting porch like skull sockets over a death
leer.

Bucky and Russ feel it, tensing up as they approach. They
pick their footsteps carefully through the broken porch and
step into the abandoned house.

INT. THE BUNGALOW – SAME

A scattering of trash in the front room, animal shit, a
bicycle tire, rags.

They move through the house, each roam, each closet and
corner creeps with potential violence. Still, nothing.

From the kitchen:

RUSS MILLARD
Bucky.

Bucky joins Russ at the back door, the screen rotted off.
Through the empty window they see:

AN ALUMINUM GARDENING SHED, the door wide open.

You know it before they even get there. But as soon as they
step inside…

INT. THE GARDENING SHED – CONTINUOUS

They know something bad happened here…

Half the room is taken up by a mattress, its blue ticking
stained dark brown with blood. A gas lantern sits in the
corner, leaning against a stack of blood-spattered books,
including a copy of Gray’s Anatomy and Victor Hugo’s The Man
Who Laughs along with a clutch of pornographic pictures.

RUSS MILLARD
God help her.

Bucky’s already pulling on a pair of rubber gloves from his
SID days. For the first time we notice he’s carrying his
forensic kit.

He opens it, revealing the test tubes, fingerprint powder,
tweezers, etc.

BUCKY
(throwing Russ gloves)
Box up the books and papers. Maybe light
that lantern.

Russ grants Bucky his take-charge attitude. He snaps on a
pair of gloves.

A GRUESOME MONTAGE

1. Bucky scrapes blood off a wall and into a test tube.

2. Russ flips through the pornographic material–some of it
very intense.

3. Bucky fills up another test tube with dark hair tweezed
from the caked blood on the mattress.

4. Underneath the mattress, Bucky finds small pieces of
rope…

5. Bucky measures a bloody sole print and traces it onto a
piece of paper.

6. Bucky finger prints the whole fucking place, pulling good
prints from the door jamb, the door, and the wall near the
head of the mattress.

OUTSIDE THE GARDENING SHED

Russ fiddles with the books, making himself busy. Finally he
walks back inside.

INT. THE GARDENING SHED – CONTINUOUS

Bucky sits on the floor, his hands shaking as he holds a
fingerprint plate in one hand and a piece of paper in the
other.

RUSS MILLARD
You all right?

Bucky hands him the fresh plate. Russ studies it. Bucky hands
him the piece of paper with a blown-up set of prints on it.
The two sets of prints are identical. Russ sees the name at
the top of the paper: ELIZABETH SHORT.

He exhales deeply.

BUCKY
Thing is, Russ. Thing is…There’s
another set of latents up there on the
doorjamb…And my hands’re shaking so bad
I can’t transfer ‘em.

CUT TO:

RUSS MILLARD HACKING A FOUR INCH SECTION OF THE DOOR JAMB OFF
WITH HIS KNIFE AND SLIPPING IT INTO A PLASTIC BAG.

Bucky sits on the ground outside.

EXT. UNDERNEATH THE HOLLYWOODLAND SIGN – LATER

The last of the “LAND” letters has come down and a party has
ensued. A marching band plays “There’s No Business Like Show
Business”.

Bucky and Russ stumble out of the woods, carrying the
evidence of Betty Short’s death in their hands.

INT. THE EL NIDO – NIGHT

Bucky sits on the bed, the evidence spread out around him.
Russ stands in the doorway.

BUCKY
We finally have it, Russ. All of it. All
of her.
(gesturing around the room)
All right here.

RUSS MILLARD
Are you sure you don’t want to came home?
Mrs. Millard’ll fix up the couch.

BUCKY
No. Thanks. I’ll stay here.
(re the doorjamb piece)
I want to get up early and confirm these
prints.

Russ nods.

RUSS MILLARD
You’re a very very bright penny, Officer.

He closes the door, leaving Bucky alone with Elizabeth.

INT. EL NIDO – ROOM 204 – NIGHT

Bucky lies on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

BUCKY (cont’d)
That night I pictured myself the way I
wanted Elizabeth to picture me–her
knight in shining armor, a reborn two-bit
harness bull who cracked the biggest
unsolved homicide in California history.
A war hero, a heavyweight champion.

INT. EL NIDO – ROOM 204 – DAWN

Bucky flips through Gray’s Anatomy, killing time.

BUCKY (cont’d)
I stayed with her that night and dreamed
of all the bullshit that would never
happen. Not if I wanted to keep my job at
all. Because there was no way for me to
make the arrest without admitting that
I’d suppressed evidence years ago. The
case would always be open.
And so while it killed me to wait ‘til
morning, in some ways…this was our last
night together.

INT. THE CRIME LAB – MORNING

Bucky transfers the killer’s prints from the doorjamb to a
plate.

INT. A LARGE ROOM WITH FILE CABINETS

Bucky pulls a fingerprint card from a cabinet. He shuts the
cabinet. The tab on the outside reads: “City Employees”.

EXT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – MORNING

Bucky edges his way along the side of the house. A side
window is open and he pulls himself inside.

INT. THE MANSION – CONTINUOUS

Moving boxes fill the front hallway. Bucky hears voices
coming from the main hall. Madeleine and Emmett.

Bucky unholsters his gun; from his pocket he pulls out a
SILENCER and screws it on the muzzle.

EMMETT SPRAGUE (O.S.)
…besides, one of my foremen said the
goddamn pipes are spewing gas…There’ll
be hell to pay. It’s about time I showed
the three of you good ol’ Scotland.

MADELEINE
I don’t wanna go to Europe, Daddy. You’re
always talking about how dreadful and
provincial it is.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
…they’ve got what you need, lassie.

Bucky steps into the main room, gun prominent at his side.

BUCKY
And what is that, Emmett? Saps like me?
Direct line to the straight dope? Or is
that what you needed?

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Aaah, laddie.

He eyes the gun.

BUCKY
George Tilden killed Elizabeth Short and
the two of you covered it up.

On the Spragues, trying to maintain their upper-class cool.

BUCKY (cont’d)
(to Madeleine)
You helped Linda Martin and Betty make
that stag film. Where was the set? In one
of Daddy’s old buildings?

He levels the gun at Madeleine. Rock steady. Madeleine sits
on a divan.

MADELEINE
Georgie was always…sneaking around
Daddy’s properties. He saw them make
it…He…got crazy about Betty.

BUCKY
Of course. She looked like his daughter.

Off Emmett’s shocked look:

BUCKY (cont’d)
He fucked your wife. But I don’t think
you cared about that. But he’s her daddy.
And that must have made you crazy. He was
a handsome bastard, too. Somehow I don’t
think he was disfigured in a car wreck.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
In the Argonne, Georgie used to bayonet
the dead Gerries. I saw it. Thrilled him,
it did. He was…hmm…disturbed. I think
Ramona found him…a good way to strike
back at me.

Bucky points the gun at Madeleine again.

BUCKY
How’d it all go down?

She hesitates. He shoots a MING VASE next to her. She jumps.

BUCKY (cont’d)
So many pretty things here…

MADELEINE
It was Sunday I remember…Betty
called…short of cash as usual.
I put Daddy on, and he offered Betty
money to date a nice man he knew.
Georgie’d been driving Daddy crazy,
wanting to get with Betty ever since the
movie. Threatening to tell people he was
my father. But we thought Georgie just
wanted her for sex.

Bucky blows away another objet d’art. The two Spragues huddle
on the couch.

BUCKY
He was a sick fuck and you knew it!

Emmett gestures vainly towards the stuffed dog Balto.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
He was passive. He liked to touch dead
things. His father was a surgeon, did you
know that? Famous in Scotland.

BUCKY
What did you tell Betty? What did you
tell her?

MADELEINE
We said he was a war hero. Because we
didn’t want her to feel like a whore.

BUCKY
Then?

MADELEINE
You know the rest.

BUCKY
Pretend I’m stupid. For old time’s sake.

Madeleine exhales hate.

MADELEINE
I went looking for Linda Martin, and I
found her at a motel in the Valley. I
gave her money and told her to say the
stag was filmed in Tijuana with a Mexican
crew.

BUCKY
And then what? I come along? Daddy tell
you to fuck me or was that your idea?

MADELEINE
Bucky–

Two more shots from the gun destroy another fifty grand worth
of art. Bucky reloads.

BUCKY (cont’d)
The whole family have a good laugh at
dinner that night? Pumping me for info
about the case? Throwing me Georgie
stories to see if I’d bite? A little
hospitality and some cunt so I wouldn’t
check out your alibi–

MADELEINE
Bucky–

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Ramona didn’t know a thing. Martha–

BUCKY
What about sweet little Martha?

MADELEINE
Martha knew I’d been with Betty. But that
was all. But she’s a demon, you know. She
even called the cops with a tip on La
Verne’s–just hoping I’d get smeared in
the papers. I scratched her good for
that.

BUCKY
Martha tell you this?

She nods yes.

BUCKY
Then she lied to get your goat, ‘cuz no
one ever called in a tip on LaVerne’s.

MADELEINE
Figures.

Emmett clears his throat.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
What are you gonna do?

BUCKY
Passports. All four.

Emmett walks to a small desk. He reaches into the drawer–
Bucky puts his gun to Emmett’s head–

EMMETT SPRAGUE
Don’t insult me, lad.

He pulls out the four passports (not a gun). Bucky takes
them.

MADELEINE
We’ll ruin you in court, you know. If you
go after us, we’ll ruin you. Over what?
Some little slut–

Bucky blows a hole in a vase some six inches from her. He
cocks his head at her, as if to say: the next one will be
closer.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
You know, laddie. The rich don’t
necessarily own art just for themselves;
we safekeep it for future generations.

The dig crosses through Bucky’s mind for a moment before he
shooes it away. To Emmett:

BUCKY
I need to see it.
EMMETT SPRAGUE
It?

BUCKY
Just to be sure. I need to see it.

EMMETT SPRAGUE
I’m not sure I know…

Bucky puts the silenced muzzled half an inch from Sprague’s
brain.

BUCKY
I need to see his grave, you tightass
kiltwearing motherfucker. Where’d you
bury George Tilden?

EXT. A PAUPER’S CEMETERY – DAY

Bucky stands in front of a plain grave marker: “George
Tilden. 1906 – 1948. War Hero and Loyal Friend”

VOICE OVER
When I’d pulled George’s print card that
morning, I’d already laid fifty down with
Russ that he was our guy. Amateur
taxidermist, transient. If he was a cop
39th and Norton woulda been right in the
middle of his beat…

INT. THE ROOM WITH THE FILE CABINETS – FLASHBACK

Bucky pulls Tilden’s card and we see the close-up: “George
Tilden”. Added by hand: “Deceased”

VOICE OVER
But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t
wanted to nail the sicko myself, giving
him ten rounds of Bleichert rage.

EXT./INT. THE ALUMINUM GARDEN SHED – DAY

Bucky watches as Russ tips the gas lantern over on its side,
the gas leaking out into the tin shed.

VOICE OVER
Maybe he’d have gone for a gun or
probably a knife, and the Bleichert fists
would’ve given way to a full load of .45
in the chest.

Bucky and Russ step outside. Russ lights a match and tosses
it inside. Flames begin to eat away the bloody mattress…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Sprague said they found him croaked in a
parking lot downtown, just twelve blocks
from where he’d dumped Betty Short. Just
croaked. Natural causes, if anything
about crazy Georgie was natural. I hoped
the evil ate him from the inside out,
filling him with blackness like the
sawdust in Sprague’s goddamn dog. (beat)

Bucky kicks the tin door shut, sealing the fire inside
Elizabeth Short’s private hell.

INT. JANE CHAMBERS HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY

Bucky and Jane Chambers drink some iced tea.

JANE CHAMBERS
…and then Eldridge said: I’m sure
that’s the case Mr. Mayor, but that’s not
my dog and those sure as hell aren’t my
shoes!

They laugh, Jane a bit more than Bucky. She narrows in on him.

JANE CHAMBERS (cont’d)
It’s so nice of you to stop by again. Of
course you’ve been staking out the
Sprague house. Four nights in a row.
(off his surprise)
I walk my dog every night. And I’m almost
as nosy as you.

BUCKY
(covering)
Yeah, well. Old habits die hard.

He gets up from the table.

INT. JANE CHAMBER’S HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Bucky wanders over and stares at the slash-mouthed clown
painting, always transfixed by it.

JANE CHAMBERS
(re the painting)
I’d been thinking about giving it to
charity, but it’s too valuable. I found
Eldridge’s receipt…

She wanders into the study and fishes out some papers from
her late husbands desk while Bucky continues to stare at the
clown. She returns, reading from the sale slip.

JANE CHAMBERS (cont’d)
It’s a Frederick Yannantuono original,
inspired by an old classic novel–The
Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo.

A FLASHBACK – THE GARDENING SHED

A blood-spattered copy of The Man Who Laughs on the pile of
pornography–

BACK TO SCENE

As the slash-mouthed clown towers over Bucky, his head
buzzing…

JANE CHAMBERS (cont’d)
The clown in the painting is the book’s
main character, Gwynplain. When he was a
child he had his mouth slashed ear to ear
and then sold to the 16th century Spanish
aristocracy to be used as a court jester.

Bucky steps back.

JANE CHAMBERS (cont’d)
Are you all right, Bucky?

BUCKY
Yes, I’m fine.

He focuses on her.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Where’d Eldridge get the painting?

JANE CHAMBERS
You’ll appreciate the coincidence–

She hands him the receipt.

ANGLE ON THE RECEIPT:

“Received from Eldridge Chambers, $3500 for the sale
of the F. Yannantuono painting. Ramona Cathcart
Sprague, January 15, 1947.”

Speechless.

JANE CHAMBERS
What is it–

He’s out the door.

EXT. JANE CHAMBER’S HOUSE – SAME

Bucky runs to his car, pulls out his gun. He sprints off down
the street…

EXT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – SAME

Bucky waits outside, watching from behind a tree. He watches
as the last of the cars, Madeleine’s, pulls out of the
driveway.

He crosses the street. He tries the front door, surprised to
find it unlocked. He goes inside.

INT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – CONTINUOUS

Gun drawn, Bucky cases the downstairs. He hears a noise.

RAMONA
I’m in here, officer.

A red wave of sweat washes over him. He walks carefully into

RAMONA’S SITTING ROOM

where the matriarch sits on a tiny sofa, her arms lost in a
silk dressing gown. Her face puffy and her eyes dark, her
gray hair frizzy.

Bucky trains a gun on her.

BUCKY
I know what you did, Ramona. You and
Georgia. I’ve seen the painting. You sold
it the day of the murder. You know I’ve
got the book. And now I’ve got you.

She smiles. Very slowly she withdraws one of her hands from
the folds of her dressing gown. She holds a tiny ladylike
revolver in her fingers and drops it at her feet. When she
speaks, it’s with complete control.

RAMONA
We see you out there, you know. Every
night. We see you. You don’t fool us. You
didn’t hurt Georgie. You didn’t hurt
Madeleine. And as much as I wish you
would, you didn’t hurt Emmett. You’re a
voyeur. That’s all the lesser classes
have. Pressing their nose up against the
glass.

BUCKY
So tell me. Let me see.

She smiles at him again, loving his need.

RAMONA
Emmett slashed his face, I’m sure you
know. Madeleine was eleven and she looked
just like Georgie. When he got out of the
hospital I gave him the Hugo book as a
present. My Gwynplain. But he was afraid
of Emmett’s rage…After that…we rarely
spoke.

Bucky eases himself into a chair opposite her.

BUCKY
Tell me about Betty Short.

Her face hardens.

RAMONA (cont’d)
(with venom)
It was the cruelest of jokes. He’d become
obsessed with her…That filthy film.

BUCKY
Your husband bought her for George.

RAMONA
Emmett never stopped hating me.

BUCKY
For George–

RAMONA
For being richer than he was.

She looks over her nose at him.

RAMONA (cont’d)
I followed them to the bungalow. There
was a baseball bat under…under a
tree…She tried to run from me…but she
was drunk. The first swing knocked her
out. I made Georgie tie her to the
mattress….The second swing woke her up.

BUCKY
You tortured her.

She seems to drift.

RAMONA (cont’d)
She looked so much like my Maddy. It
was…the cruelest of jokes.

Her thousand yard stare gradually returns to Bucky.

RAMONA (cont’d)
Martha mustn’t know. She’s all that’s
left of this family that isn’t dying. You
consider her when you decide whether
we’re worth it.

Bucky’s not sure what to say next. She fills the space quite
well.

RAMONA (cont’d)
Honestly, though. Sometimes I thought
Martha was going to bring the whole
family down around her by chance. Her
little stunt about tipping the police to
LaVerne’s–

BUCKY
She lied about that. To get Madeleine’s
goat.

Ramona’s eyes brighten up.

RAMONA
Oh is that so? You poor boy. Your life is
worse than mine. Maybe the cruel joke is
on you.

She speaks with such an insanity and calm it frightens him.
And on Bucky’s hungry eyes we

CUT TO:

BUCKY’S CAR peeling out of Hancock Park.

CUT TO:

INT. THE FAIRFAX PRIMARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM – DAY

Kay sits at her desk, grading papers. Bucky bursts in.

KAY
Dwight?

BUCKY
How much of the hundred grand did Lee let
you keep?

INT. THE TIP DESK – POLICE DEPARTMENT – FLASHBACK

Bucky and Lee sit at the tip desk while Lee listens to a very
long call, saying nothing…

BACK TO SCENE

Kay and Bucky stare each other down.

BUCKY
He knew about Madeleine Sprague. He knew
about Laverne’s Hideaway.

INT. THE SPRAGUE MANSION – NIGHT – A FLASHBACK

Lee Blanchard beats the hell out of Emmett Sprague while
Madeleine’s looks on.

BUCKY (VO)
He blackmailed Sprague–

MADELEINE (VO)
–Don’t come over. Daddy’s having a
business soiree–

INT. THE BATHROOM OF THE POLICE STATION – A FLASHBACK

Bucky bursts in on Lee washing his bloody fists.

LEE
–Penance for Junior Nash–

BACK TO SCENE

Bucky’s leaning on the desk…

BUCKY
And you knew it, Kay! You knew it all! He
took that hundred thousand and split to
Mexico and you let him go!

Kay fingers the edges of an exam. She looks him in the eye.

KAY
You are so, so good at some things.

He absorbs the blow and waits for her to continue.

KAY
He was going to leave no matter what. I
didn’t know if I was ever going to see
him again, and I wanted him to be
comfortable if such a thing was possible.
Dwight, he knew I was in love with you,
and he wanted us to be together.

BUCKY
He didn’t leave, he ran. He ran from the
bank job, ran from the frame on DeWitt.
He knew who killed Elizabeth Short and
fucking ran away! This whole time. You
both knew everything–

Kay slams down a book.

KAY
Goddammit, Dwight! That girl–that girl!
I don’t give a damn about that girl. She
ruined our lives!

The room grinds to a halt.

KAY (cont’d)
He loved us. Don’t take that away from
him. And I love you. And if you hadn’t
seen so much of yourself in her you’d
realize how much you loved me. (beat) So
if you’re aware of something more
important than that…I’d like to hear
what it is.

Bucky looks like he’s about to burst. He wants to go to her,
lock her in his arms and forgive. instead, he just backs up
three steps, slowly turns on his heels, and walks out.

INT. A BAR – NIGHT

Bucky sits in the back of the bar, shrouded in smoke and loud
music. He drinks bourbon and watches Madeleine over at the
bar. She’s got her hand on a soldier’s knee.

EXT. THE RED ARROW INN – NIGHT

Madeleine Sprague and the soldier boy walk from the office
over to the now familiar Room 11. They enter, shutting the
door and flicking on the light to reveal

BUCKY

sitting on the back of a chair with his feet on the seat. He
trains his silenced pistol on them. Flashing his badge, he
points the soldier to the door:

BUCKY
(quoting Lee)
Adios yourself back to the Halls of
Tripoli, shitbird. I’ve got business
with the lady.

You don’t have to tell the soldier twice. He backs out and
shuts the door.

BUCKY
I’ve been pointing my gun at a lot of
people this week. But I haven’t had much
of a chance to shoot anybody. Whattya
think?

MADELEINE
I think you’d rather fuck me than kill
me. But you don’t have the guts to do
either. You’re a boxer. Not a puncher.

Bucky smiles.

BUCKY
(Scotchman’s burr)
Aaaah, lassie. You wanna sell me short
to the very end, eh?

Now she’s curious.

BUCKY (cont’d)
It’s not as good as yours, I’ll admit.
But then again you’ve got an ear for
accents. Accents, dressing up in
costumes…

Maybe a trace of fear in her eyes…

BUCKY (cont’d)
Do another one for me. Play someone else.
Rich little slut…Lez…Daddy’s
girl…Dahlia…Play someone else. Do
another.

MADELEINE
I don’t know what you’re talking about–

He cocks the gun.

BUCKY
How ‘bout the Mexican accent you used
when you hired the private dick to track
down Lee. Let’s see the make-up job.
Let’s see the fucking dress, mamacita,
that you wore when you chased after poor
daddy’s money. Tell me something–you
shoot Lee yourself?

She steps back against the door as he advances.

BUCKY (cont’d)
Did you at least have the guts to shoot
him yourself?

He puts the gun to her forehead.

MADELEINE
You’ll never do it. Never. Remember…I
look like her.

She grins wickedly.

He pulls the gun from her head and shoots her in the kneecap.

EXT. THE RED ARROW INN – LATER

Cap cars, flashing lights, an ambulance.

VOICE OVER
We took the fall together.

INT. A HOSPITAL ROOM – LATER

Madeleine is interrogated by Homicide dicks.

VOICE OVER
Ever the consummate actor, Madeleine
Sprague confessed to killing Lee by
concocting a love triangle from the three
of us…The Bleichert/Blanchard rematch
fought over her hand, with Lee beating
Emmett and demanding he “hand over” his
daughter when she preferred me.

EXT. THE ENSENADA STREETS – NIGHT – FLASHBACK

As Madeleine, dressed as a Mexican woman in heavy makeup and
a large hat, tails Lee back to his motel…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Madeleine stalking Lee…Revenge-killing
him in Ensenada to avenge the Sprague
honor…No mention of the Black Dahlia
murder case at all.

EXT. THE COURTHOUSE – DAY

Madeleine led away amongst a flock of photographers. Her
family linked arm-and-arm in the background, crying, only
Martha looking like she might survive…

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Her story’s enough to get her a psych tag
as a delusional schizophrenic and ten
years at Atascadero State Hospital.

INT. THE POLICE INTERROGATION ROOM – DAY

Bucky sits at a table, staring into the one-way mirror.

VOICE OVER
So the brass girl took the fall for the
whole family. And I took the fall for me.
IAD cleared me on the motel shooting–a
cop’s code make-good for Blanchard’s
snuff.
WE PULL OUT and see Bucky’s cuffs, badge and gun sitting on
the table in front of him.

VOICE OVER (cont’d)
Afterwards I was fired from the Los
Angeles Police Department on grounds of
moral turpitude and conduct unbecoming an
officer. I thought of turning over Ramona
in hopes of pulling a grandstander’s
turnabout…

THE CAMERA DRIFTS THROUGH THE ONE-WAY MIRROR revealing RUSS
MILLARD standing on the other side.

VOICE OVER
…but I had people to protect…People
who already knew that, for the briefest
of times, and in the darkest of places, I
had been so, so, good at some things.

INT. THE EL NIDO – NIGHT

Bucky standing amongst the Dahlia files. He begins pulling
photos off the walls…

INT. BUCKY AND KAY’S HOUSE – NIGHT

The destroyed fairy tale house is in mid-repair. Kay is in
work clothes, painting a new trim in the living room.

The front door opens. Bucky stands in the doorway, carrying a
box of Dahlia files. Kay watches as he crosses the room
without a word and dumps the box of files into the fireplace.
He tosses on a match and the box goes up in flames.

She moves to him.

INT. A CASTING OFFICE – DAY

We arrive just as she exits, the outline of her body quickly
disappearing into the blackness beyond the office door…

VOICE OVER
Thank you Elizabeth.

FADE TO BLACK[amazonjs asin=”B000J6HYLS” locale=”JP” title=”ブラック・ダリア コレクターズ・エディション 2枚組 DVD”]




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