An EMS “bus” careens around a corner, tires squealing, lights
flashing, siren whoop-whooping, swooping through Stygian
canyons of New York.
FRANK PIERCE, 28, drives. He wears dark cargo pants, black
boots, a white shirt with the paramedic badge, “EMS” gold
logo on one collar, “OLM” on the other. “Our Lady of Mercy
Paramedic” is inscribed in white across the back of his
navy jacket. On his belt: two-way radio, leather gloves,
beeper, drug kit, multi-purpose tool kit, mini-flashlight,
LARRY, 35, overweight, his partner for the night, rides techie
(shotgun), both hands clutching the dash.
Frank scans the blurring cityscape for hidden danger. He is
a young man of slight frame and open face–his life, his
possible futures, still before him: behind those open eyes,
beneath those dark shadows: hollowness beckons.
Dispatcher’s voice crackles through the cab static: “Ladder
4, respond to a 10-22, four flight residential, 417 East 32.
13 Boy, men’s room Grand Central, man set his pants on fire.
Bad burns. 17 David, at 177 East 24, there’s a
woman who says a roach crawled in her ear. Can’t get it out,
says she’s going into cardiac arrest …”
Frank’s detached voice speaks over the urban landscape:
Thursday started out with a bang: a
gunshot to the chest on a drug deal
gone bad. Heat, humidity, moonlight–
all the elements in place for a long
weekend. I was good at my job: there
were periods when my hands moved
with a speed and skill beyond me and
my mind worked with a cool authority
I had never known. But in the last
year I had started to lose that
control. Things had turned bad. I
hadn’t saved anyone for months. I
just needed a few slow nights, a
week without tragedy followed by a
couple of days off.
The radio continues: “Zebra, 13Z, 524 East 17–“
The ambulance breaks to a halt in front of a row of vintage
walk-ups. Frank and Larry jump out: Frank lugs the EKG monitor
and airway bag, Larry the drug box, yellow oxygen
pack slung over his shoulder. Neighbors crowd around.
Which apartment? Which apartment?
Move back. Where’s the stairs? 5A.
Oh Jesus, it’s Mr. Burke.
The front door opens, a young boy holding it.
Author’s note: in emergency situations, either on the street
or in the hospital, it is assumed there is continual
background noise–voices, sirens, cries, questions, etc.
INT. TENEMENT STAIRWELL–NIGHT
Four flights up: Frank and Larry climbing rotting steps,
gray-yellow painted walls, red doors with three locks each,
Larry, out of breath, his stomach rolling around like a
bowling ball in a bag.
INT. BURKE APARTMENT–NIGHT
They enter 5A. MRS. BURKE, 55, her eyes run dry, standing in
the center of the room, surrounded by neighbors. Someone
leads them to the BEDROOM where Mr. Burke, 60, lies unmoving,
stretched on the bed. A young woman, MARY BURKE, 24, kneels
over the old man, pressing her lips to his flaccid mouth.
JOHN BURKE, 30, grabs Franks arm:
We were just watching TV and Dad
yelled out and started punching his
chest, next thing he locked himself
in the bathroom. I said we were gonna
call you guys and he said not to.
He was crying, I never heard him
crying before, then he sorta stopped.
We pulled him out and put him on the
Frank and Larry moving the body to the floor:
How long ago did he stop breathing?
Maybe ten minutes. Woman on the phone
tried to tell us how to do CPR.
Please, you gotta do something.
We’ll do all we can.
Larry ripping open Mr. Burke’s shirt, prepping electrode
patches, hooking wires, Frank opening Burke’s mouth, feeling
a puff of gas escape; Larry calling for backup. Burke’s EKG
rhythm on the monitor a flat green line.
Frank’s training takes over: he injects the long steel
laryngoscope down Burke’s throat, he finds a vein, injects
epinephrine, followed by atrophine, followed by another epi:
no response on the monitor. Larry pulls out the paddles:
Larry activates defibrillator, shock–Burke’s body heaves.
Sweat drips from Larry’s nose onto Burke’s chest.
No more, please don’t!
They shock him again. This time the body moves less. Frank
glances up: Mr. and Mrs. Burke’s wedding photo sits on the
nightstand. Other pictures: a day at the beach, a young
serviceman, happy parents. Frank’s mind drifts:
In the last year I had come to believe
in such things as spirits leaving
the body and not wanting to be put
back, spirits angry at the awkward
places death had left them. I
understood how crazy it was to think
this way, but I was convinced if I
turned around, I’d see Old Man Burke
standing at the window, watching,
waiting for us to finish.
Frank feels Burke’s heart beneath cracked ribs. The EEG
remains flat. He’s dead. It’s time to quit.
I’ll take over. Call ER and ask for
(to Mrs. Burke)
Larry stands, breathing heavy, looks for a phone. Frank turns
to notice relatives and neighbors standing around.
Do you have any music?
Music. I think it helps if you play
something he liked.
John, play the Sinatra.
John enters crying. Mary repeats softly:
Play the Sinatra.
John exits. Frank notices Mary for the first time: blond
hair dyed black, cut short, loose fitting tank dress, black
makeup running down her cheeks. He notices her prom picture,
glances back to Mary: it seems she hasn’t smiled since that
day eight years before. Something special about her, that
something that hits you right away.
“September of My Years” plays from the other room. Frank
continues massaging Mr. Burke’s chest (now to Sinatra beat),
even though it’s hopeless. Larry returns:
It’s OK, Frank. We can call it. Eighty-
Frank feels something strange, looks into Burke’s pupils,
checks his neck pulse, wrist pulse. His eyes go to Larry:
No we can’t. He’s got a pulse.
Larry checks the monitor: the green line up and down. Mary
senses a change in status:
Is he going to be alright?
His heart’s beating.
A distant siren signals the arrival of backup. Frank turns
Have ‘em bring up a stretcher.
He looks from Mary back to Mr. Burke–breathing but comatose.
Larry climbing through the back doors, sitting in the jumpseat
at the stretcher’s head as Frank hangs IV bags, replugs EKG
wires that have come loose.
Frank looks up, sees Mary entering; he takes her arm, turns
her toward the rear doors:
Help your family. Ride with your
mother and brother.
Help your family. They need you more.
Mary steps out, stands in the red flashing light as Larry
closes the door, Frank climbs in the driver’s seat.
EXT. SECOND AVENUE–NIGHT
The EMS bus cruises up Second. Frank checks the side mirror:
John, Mary and Mrs. Burke pull behind in a black Ford. Seeing
their faces, Frank flips the lights and siren on. It’s too
late to help Mr. Burke, but it’s important to the family
that it look urgent. Frank watches passing lights, cars,
I needed to concentrate because my
mind tended to wander on these short
trips. It was the neighborhood I
grew up in and where I had worked
most as a paramedic, and it held
more ghosts per square foot than any
EXT. OUR LADY OF MERCY–NIGHT
Larry and Frank’s 13 Zebra ambulance lined up beside two
others outside a blazing “Emergency” sign on the crowded
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
Every large city has a hospital Emergency Room so replete
with trauma, violence and suffering it picks up the sobriquet
“Knife and Gun Club.” On Manhattan’s Lower East Side it’s
our Lady Of Mercy, aka, Our Lady of Misery.
ER: a white-lit cement box painted yellow and decorated with
old framed Playbills. Four rows of six plastic chairs face a
TV bolted and chained to the ceiling. The seats are filled
with backed-up drunks, assault victims and “regulars,”
bleeding and spilling over against the walls and the floor,
getting up to ask their status or going out to throw up and
have a smoke.
Larry and Frank wheeling Burke in, two IV lines, each
connected to an elbow, tangled in EKG cables. Two LACERATED
RUSSIANS scramble out of their way as they approach GRISS,
the large black sunglassed security guard. He looks up from
his television guide:
Hey partner. Your man does not look
well. They’re not gonna appreciate
Griss, let us in.
Things are backing up.
Griss pushes a button, activating the automatic door, striking
the bandaged leg of a man lying down on a stretcher in the
hall. Larry and Frank wheel Burke inside. A pleading family
tries to follow. Griss stretches out his hand:
You can’t go in there, folks.
Mary, John and Mrs. Burke rush in from the street, hoping
some miracle has occurred during the drive to the hospital,
approach the sign-in desk.
Frank and Larry pass four stretchers lined against the wall–
a passage nicknamed “Skid Row” leading past triage NURSE
Just keep moving. Don’t even slow
Nurse Constance turns back to the nervous man seated beside
NURSE CONSTANCE (CONT’D)
Sir, you say you’ve been snorting
cocaine for three days and now you
feel your heart is beating too fast
and you would like us to help you.
To tell the truth, I don’t see why I
should. If I’m mistaken, correct me.
Did we sell you the cocaine? Did we
push it up your nose?
Larry and Frank slow at the last Skid Row stretchers. On
one, NOEL, a young dark-skinned man with chaotic mess of
dreadlocks, pulls feverishly at his restraints:
For God’s sake, give me some water.
From the next stretcher a man with feet swollen purple like
prize eggplants replies:
Shut up! Goddamn civilians.
Give me some water!
NURSE CRUPP stops Frank and Larry as they approach the
Critical care room. inside, the staff appears as if under
siege by a battalion of shriveled men and women lying on a
field of white sheets.
Don’t take another step. We’re on
diversion. Can’t accept any more
patients. Your dispatcher should
have told you.
We got him at Eighteen and Second.
Where will I put him, Frank? Look.
He wanted to come here. Said the
nurses at Misery were the best.
All right, give me a minute. I’ll
kick someone out of slot three.
Larry unravels himself from the IV lines as nurse walks over,
takes Burke’s pulse.
Excuse me. You are a very kind man.
I can see that. A man like you could
not refuse a poor sick dying helpless
man a small cup of water.
I can’t. I have to stay with my
Shut the fuck up! If it wasn’t for
these dun feet I’d get up and kick
DR. HAZMAT, 30, steps over.
Godammit, guys, what are you doing
to me? We’re all backed up in here.
Christ, would you look at him? He’s
gonna need the works. What’s wrong
You should know. You pronounced him.
You told me he was dead. Flatline.
He got better.
I hate pronouncing people dead over
(flashes light in
Better, huh? They’re fixed and
dilated. He’s plant food.
We stole a stretcher from X-ray. No
pad on it, but I don’t think he’ll
mind. Put him in three, next to the
He’s our lowest priority now. He
shouldn’t even be here. All this
technology. What a waste.
Back at SECURITY, the Burkes confront Griss.
Please folks, step back.
Don’t make me take off my sunglasses.
In CRITICAL CARE, Larry wheels Burke into unit three as Dr.
Hazmat turns Frank to face the room, explaining:
First-time heart attack, age 45.
Should have gone to the CCU ten hours
ago. There’s three bodies up there
Mike the one you just brought in.
over there, two AIDS patients, one
in twelve filling up with liquid.
I’m gonna hafta intubate because the
kid’s mother won’t sign the Do Not
Resuscitate. Mercy killing doesn’t
translate well in Spanish. It’s a
sin to tube this kid. Three more ODs
from some new killer junk. They call
it Red Death.
Hazmat pulls out a vial marked with a red skull and
crossbones, shows it to Frank.
Water, water, water, doctor man,
A mix of heroin and I don’t know
what else, some kind of amino acid
maybe. Stuff so strong they’re
drinking it with grain alcohol. You
have to use ten times the usual amount
of Narcan and watch out when they
wake up, liable to go nuts on you.
He one of them?
No, that’s Noel. Used to be a regular
off and on, hasn’t been in in a while.
He seized and almost coded–I gave
him a hypertonic solution. He drank
so much the kidneys were taking out
salt. One for the textbooks.
Oh doctor, you are the greatest. You
must help me.
For God’s sake, give him a drink of
I am helping you, Noel. You could
die if you drink more water.
Nurse Crupp pulls on Hazmat’s arm.
What is it?
She points to Burke. His monitor is ringing like a fire alarm.
Hazmat and Crupp rush over, wave to others:
Crupp, start CPR. Milagros, get me
an epi. Odette wake up Dr. Stark.
Tell him I need a blood gas, stat.
As the staff crowds around Burke, pulling the paddles from
off the monitor, Frank, pushing his stretcher away, notices
Big Feet climb onto his infected feet, hobble over, work to
Bless you sir, bless you.
Frank heads down Skid Row pushing the stretcher, passing
Nurse Constance speaking with a man with a gash over his
… so you get drunk every day and
you fall down. Tell me why we should
help you when you’re going to get
drunk tomorrow and fall down again?
Frank pushes the automatic door button–and is suddenly hit
from behind by Noel. The stretcher spins sideways. Noel
dives out the doors for the water fountain, snorting up water
like a bull. Mary Burke, standing with her family, looks at
He’s very very sick.
I know him. That’s Noel.
We’d better go outside. Quickly.
Frank and Mary step out into the humid night.
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
Checking behind then, Frank stops. Mary pauses before she
Is there any chance?
I guess there’s always a chance.
The doors break open. Noel comes flying out, bounces on the
sidewalk. Griss, in the doorway, closes the doors.
Mary goes over to Noel:
Noel, Noel, it’s me, Mary. From 17th
Mary, Mary, Mary. I’m so thirsty.
They won’t give me anything to drink.
I’ll get you some.
Frank watches: Mary returns with a cup of water, gives it to
a grateful Noel.
I wouldn’t do that.
The doctor seems to think he’s
suffering from some rare disorder.
It’s not so rare. He grew up on our
street. He’s had a rough life and
he’s a little crazy from it, but
that’s no excuse for not giving
someone a lousy cup of water.
Mary starts to cry. Frank fumbles in his pocket, finds a
tissue, gives it to her.
My father’s dying, Noel.
Oh Mary, Mary, Mary.
Noel hugs her clumsily, his shoulders bobbing. Frank watches,
realizing this is what he should have done for her.
EXT. EAST SIDE STREETS–NIGHT
13 Zebra cruising down Avenue C, Frank at the wheel, Larry
The Chinese close in five minutes.
Beef lo mein. It’s been on my
mind since I woke. Whatjathink?
I think the moment that food hits
your mouth we’ll get a job.
Turn here. You missed it. The Chink
is on 3rd.
Franks turns, gets jammed up behind a pimp car at Second and
Avenue B, a corner populated by pushers and hookers. TWO
WHORES stand in front of an abandoned building. Frank turns
Hey ambulance man. What you looking
The second whore, wearing a yellow vinyl coat, turns. She
has a face that instantly freezes Frank: the Rose face.
Pregnant, she gestures to her belly:
Pretty soon you’ll be coming for me.
Some partner you are Frank. I coulda
walked there faster. I’m starving
and you stop to talk to hookers.
You’re making me nuts. Is that what
you’re trying to do, drag me down
with you to nutsville?
Frank hits the whoop-whoop siren. The pimps in the black BMW
jump, look back, realize its only an ambulance, and pull
Oh no!–I just remembered.
I’m so stupid. I had beef lo mein
last night. I can’t eat the same
thing two nights in a row. It’s almost
two o’clock, what the hell am I gonna
do? What you getting?
I’m not hungry.
Oh yeah, you don’t eat food.
I eat. I just haven’t had coffee
Coffee and whiskey, lucky you ain’t
dead with that diet. Wait, I’ve got
it. Half fried chicken with fries.
Let’s go, hurry up. Come on.
Frank speeds up Avenue B. Noel, wearing generic homeless
combat fatigues, muttering to his friends in Hell, passes on
the sidewalk. Frank notices another hooker, catches her face:
the same face as the pregnant Whore #2. The Rose face. His
Rose was getting closer. Ever since
the call a month before, when I’d
lost her, she seemed like all the
girls in the neighborhood. One of
the first things you learn is to
avoid bad memories. I used to be an
expert, but lately I’d found some
holes. Anything could trigger it.
The last month belonged to Rose, but
there were a hundred more ready to
EXT. CHICKEN TAKE-OUT–NIGHT
The EMS vehicle is stopped at a fast food joint. Larry orders,
These spirits were part of the job.
It was impossible to pass a building
that didn’t bold the spirit of
something: the eyes of a corpse, the
screams of a loved one. All bodies
leave their mark. You cannot be near
the new dead without feeling it.
Larry gets his chicken, chats with counter clerk, returns.
FRANK (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I could handle that. What haunted me
now was more savage: spirits born
half-finished, homicides, suicides,
overdoses, innocent or not, accusing
me of being there, witnessing a
humiliation which they could never
Larry climbs in, sets his take-out on the dash, hands Frank
a coffee. A police walkie-talkie is in the front tray.
Turn it off.
You know what. The radio.
Ladder Four, respond to a 10-22 four
flight residential, 317 East 32nd.
Let’s do it. It might be a good one.
You wanted it turned off. There’s no
such thing as a good fire. People
get burned up. They can’t breathe.
That’s what we’re here for. Come on,
Don’t push it, Larry.
You’re burned out.
One-three Zebra. Zebra three, I need
You see, he’s giving it to us anyway.
Zebra, are you there? I’m holding an
unconscious at First and St. Marks.
No! It’s three o’clock. That can
only mean one thing.
It’s Mr. Oh. I’m not answering it.
Answer the radio Zebra. You know
it’s that time.
Four times this week I’ve had him.
Aren’t there any other units out
there? Don’t answer the radio.
They’ll give it to someone else.
Thirteen Zebra. One-Three Zebra.
You’re going out of service in two
Pause. Neither moves.
Look, Frank, when I say don’t answer
it, that means answer it.
(picks up the mike)
You can do that for me at least.
Yes, Zebra. You’ll be driving to the
man who needs no introduction, chronic
caller of the year three straight
and shooting for number four. The
duke of drunk, the king of stink,
our most frequent flier, Mr. Oh.
(Frank starts the
Don’t go. Not this time.
Relax, it’s a street job, easy except
for the smell. We’ll just throw him
in back and zip over to Mercy–no
blood, no dying, that’s how I look
at it. He’s just a drunk.
It’s not our job to taxi drunks
They’ll just keep calling.
Someone’s gonna die someday causa
that bum, going to have a cardiac
and the only medics will be taking
care of Mr. Oh.
EXT. FIRST & ST. MARKS–NIGHT
Frank and Larry standing over Mr. Oh, 40, surrounded by street
people. Oh lays curled up beside his wheelchair, wearing a
black garbage bag with holes cut out for his arms, his pants
around his knees.
MALE STREET PERSON #1
He’s bad mister. He ain’t eaten nuthin
all day, he’s seizing and throwing
(hand over nose)
So what’s different?
MALE STREET PERSON #1
He says his feet hurt.
Well why didn’t you say so?
MALE STREET PERSON #2
He’s sick. You gotta help him.
He’s fine. He can walk to the
FEMALE STREET PERSON
Walk? You crazy? He’s in a wheelchair.
Don’t start that. I’ve seen him walk.
He walks better than me.
Frank crouches over Oh, tries to pull Oh’s pants over his
white, dirt-stained ass. Oh moans:
Oh, oh, oh.
That’s him, Mr. Oh.
(pulls at his arm)
Larry and Frank get Oh to his feet only to have him stumble
over his lowered trousers. This time Frank lifts him, sets
his white ass cheeks into the wheelchair. They push him toward
Good luck! Get better!
EXT. FIRST AVE–NIGHT
13 Zebra heads up First, double Caduceus symbols shining
from the back of the van.
Inside the cab, Larry and Frank lean out the front windows
to avoid the king of stink:
(flips on top lights)
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
Griss holding up his hand:
Get that stinky-assed motherfucking
bug-ridden skell out of my face.
Frank and Larry stand beside Oh slumped in his wheelchair.
Fellow drunks welcome their comrade from plastic chairs.
Nurse Constance escorts a young man from the triage area:
I would have to register you to give
you something to eat and my conscience
just will not allow that. Griss,
the gentleman wants to leave.
(looks at Oh)
He looks pale. You’re not eating
enough. You need more fiber.
Griss shows young man the door.
(holds up his report)
He’s wasted. That’s my diagnosis:
He just needs a bath and some food.
Take him in back and see if you can
find a stretcher.
She’s nuts. That’s why he comes here.
She encourages him.
Griss returns as Crupp calls from critical care area:
Don’t you dare! That’s my last
stretcher. This is not a homeless
shelter. He’ll have to wait in the
No way man. Not even in the corner.
Griss cannot abide the funk tonight.
Larry and Frank turn, secretly pleased, and wheel Mr. Oh
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
Larry setting Oh outside the entrance, heading towards the
all night deli. Frank takes out a cigarette.
Mary Burke walks up the drive opening a pack of cigs. Frank
offers her a light. She inhales, exhales:
It’s my first cigarette in over a
The first is always the best.
It’s the waiting that’s killing me,
not knowing, you know? It’s really
hard on my mother. The doctor doesn’t
think my father’ll make it. He says
he was dead too long, after six
minutes the brain starts to die and
once that goes, close the door.
You never know.
I mean if he was dead, I could handle
At least he’s got people around him.
I’m not so sure. My father and I
haven’t spoken in three years. When
my brother called to say my father
was having a heart attack, that he’d
locked himself in the bathroom, all
the way going over I was thinking
how I was gonna tell him what a
bastard he was. Then when I got up
the stairs and we moved him onto the
bed, I thought of all these other
things I wanted to say.
Even when you say the things, there’s
always more things.
Right now, I’m more worried about my
mother than anything. They won’t let
her see my father.
Go home. Take her home. Get some
rest. Not going to find anything out
That’s what I told her. If she could
just see him a second, then I could
take her home.
Larry walks back with a coffee for himself and a brown bag
beer for Frank.
Time to switch. I wheel, you heal.
EXT. LOWER EAST SIDE–NIGHT
4:00am. The EMS vehicle drives downtown. The city has
transformed: a deserted city, inhabited by the hardcore:
hardcore night-shift employees, hardcore party-goers, hardcore
druggies, hardcore homeless, people with something special
to do or nowhere to go.
12 David on the corner of Thirty-
eight and Two you’ll find a three-
car accident, two taxis and a taxi.
One-two Henry, 427 East Two-two,
report of a very bad smell. No further
Larry driving at a good clip, riding both the gas and the
break pedals, enjoying the newfound freedom of movement.
Larry, swing over on Eighth. We’re
gonna hafta run one of these calls.
Relax, will you.
Frank places both hands on the dash as Larry squeals around
The biggest problem with not driving
is that whenever there’s a patient
in back you’re also in the back.
The doors close, you’re trapped.
Four in the morning is always the
worst time for me, just before dawn,
just when you’ve been lulled into
thinking it might be safe to close
your eyes for one minute. That’s
when I first found Rose …
Larry slows down on a side street. Frank turns to watch a
homeless man. The man looks back: it’s Rose. The Rose face.
FRANK (V.O.) (CONT’D)
She was on the sidewalk, not
Frank turns to Larry:
I’m not feeling very well, Larry. I
say we go back to the hospital and
call it a night.
You have no sick time, Frank. No
time of any kind. Everyone knows
Take me back, put me to bed; I
surrender. We’ve done enough damage
You take things too seriously. Look
at us, we’re cruising around, talking,
taking some quiet time, getting paid
for it. We’ve got a good job here.
Yeah, you’re right.
Larry pulls into the Jacob Riis projects by the river, slows
to a stop. Larry cuts the lights, not bothering to inform
his partner what his partner already knows: they’re taking
EXT. RIIS PROJECTS–NIGHT
13 Zebra sits in the quiet dark. Larry puffs a cigarette.
Tell me, you ever think of doing
Sure, I’m taking the captain’s exam
next year. After the kids are in
school, Louise can go back to the
post office and, I thought, what the
hell, I’ll start my own medic service.
Out on the Island the volunteers are
becoming salaried municipal. It’s
just a matter of time and who you
know. Someday it’s going to be Chief
Larry calling the shots.
Larry tosses the cigarette out the window, leans against the
door jab, closes his eyes. In a second he’s asleep.
Frank turns down the radio volume: the calls are fewer and
further between now. Frank leans back, tries to rest:
I’d always had nightmares, but now
the ghosts didn’t wait for me to
sleep. I drank every day. Help others
and you help yourself, that was my
motto, but I hadn’t saved anyone in
months. It seemed all my patients
were dying. I’d waited, sure the
sickness would break, tomorrow night,
the next call, the feeling would
drop away. More than anything else I
wanted to sleep like that, close my
eyes and drift away …
TIMECUT: radio wakes Frank from his reverie.
Zebra. One-three Zebra.
(Frank opens eyes)
Zebra, answer the radio. Come on,
I’ve got one for you. Pick up the
radio and push the button on the
side and speak into the front.
Male bleeding, corner of Houston and
One. No further information.
Frank hangs up, bangs Larry’s steering wheel:
We have a call Chief. Somebody’s
bleeding, Houston and First.
Larry instinctively reaches for the ignition key, starts the
engine, drops the ambulance into gear, hits lights, jerks
the EMS bus away, still half asleep.
EXT. HOUSTON & FIRST–NIGHT
13 Zebra coming to a bone jarring stop at the corner. Getting
out of the techie seat, Frank sees Noel, his face bloody,
charging at him.
Noel has sliced up a tire and fastened the pieces with string
over his shoulders. Tin cans circle his wrists and ankles.
One hand carries a broken bottle, the other a stringless
Frank jumps back inside as Noel rams the window, leaving
stains from his blood-matted dreadlocks. Larry calls for
backup: medics, police, firemen, anybody.
The side window glass bends as Noel rams his head against
it. Frank reaches for the short club between the seats; Noel
holds the jagged bottle to his neck.
Noel drops the bottle. Frank rolls down the window.
You really think so?
See, I can’t do it. I came out of
You came out of the hospital. You
were tied down and hallucinating.
You got some bad chemicals in your
head, Noel. There’s some medicine at
the hospital that will fix that.
No, no medicine!
Noel swings his bloody dreadlocks: Frank ducking, getting
splattered anyway, rolling up the window.
He got you.
A BLACK PUNK calls from the crowd:
Do it! Man wants to die. Take him
out! I know how to kill that mother.
(points a finger)
Noel, spraying blood, chases the Punk. The crowd scatters.
Noel trips, falls to the sidewalk. Frank, carrying the short
bat, gets out, walks over, hunches beside Noel:
Noel, you didn’t let me finish. We
have rules against killing people on
the street. Looks bad, but there’s a
special room at the hospital for
terminating. A nice quiet room with
a big bed.
Oh man, do you mean that?
Thank you man, thank you. How?
Well, you have your choice: pills,
A siren draws closer, Noel gets to his feet as Larry opens
the rear doors.
I think pills. Yes, pills, definitely.
A second ambulance skids to a stop. TOM WALLS, 35, a 220
pound bald-headed bruiser, gets out.
Jesus, Tom Walls, that crazy
Used to be my partner.
Frank, this the guy you called about?
I know him.
You give my friend here any trouble
and I’ll kill you.
Yes, at the hospital.
This looks like a very bad man I
took in a couple weeks ago, a man
who’d been holding two priests hostage
with a screwdriver. I told him if I
ever caught him making trouble again
I’d kick the murdering life outta
It’s not worth it, Tom. He’s
No prisoners. Don’t worry, Frank,
just a little psychological first
Walls hauls back, swings at Noel; Noel ducks.
Stay still, dammit!
Walls throws Noel against the bus, knocks him down, sets to
Don’t do it, Tom!
Noel moans. Larry sticks his head out the back of the bus:
There’s a double shooting three blocks-
up. First and Third. confirmed.
We’ll do it.
Walls releasing Noel as Noel scrambles into the bus, Frank
stepping over him, Larry climbing into the driver’s seat,
Frank closing the doors. Noel trembles:
At the hospital. You told me at the
Larry squeals off full gun, all sirens blaring: the Wah, the
Yelp, the Super Yelp. Strobe bar, side strobes, quarter panel
strobes. Rock n’ roll.
EXT. FIRST & THIRD–NIGHT
Both EMS buses breaking to a stop at the crime scene, cops
holding the crowd back; Walls, Frank, Larry, Walls’ partner
moving through the crowd.
FRANK & WALLS
EMS. Move it!
Man just walked up and shot ‘em. Not
a word. Man, that was cold.
Two boys, DRUG DEALERS, lie bleeding on the sidewalk. Frank
drops to his knees beside one, Walls the other. Larry wheels
out the stretcher.
(to Drug Dealer)
Where you hit?
VOICE IN CROWD
Outlaw did this. He works for Cy.
Two white vials roll out of the Drug Dealer’s shirt: marked
with red skull and crossbones. Frank looks over–they’re
gone, swiped by eager hands.
Listening for a heartbeat, Frank calls to Walls:
Major Tom, I’m going to Misery. You
take yours to Bellvue.
INT. 13 ZEBRA EMS VEHICLE–NIGHT
Larry charging through the night while, in back, Frank,
stethoscope in his ears, wrapping a tourniquet around the
Drug Dealer’s arm: he’s dying fast.
You’re gonna feel a stick in your
arm. Don’t move.
I don’t want to die.
I want to die. I’m the one.
Oh Jesus, I don’t want to die.
You’re not going to die.
What did you say?
Shut up. You’re going to die and
he’s not. Got it.
Hold my hand.
I can’t. I got to do the other arm.
Hold this–right there. If you let
go, I swear, I won’t kill you.
Noel holds IV bag as Frank searches for a vein, inserts second
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
Larry pulls into Our Lady of Mercy Emergency. Frank says to
It’s all right. We’re here.
No answer. Frank feels for a pulse, listens with the
stethoscope: nothing. Larry opens the doors.
Noel, let’s go.
Frank turns to his partner:
He’s not breathing. Call a code.
Larry and Frank pull the dead boy out of the bus.
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
Frank finishes his report, hands a copy to the clerk, looks
around the now almost empty waiting area. John Burke sleeps
slumped in one of the chairs. Griss stands at his post.
Pulling out a pack of cigarettes, Frank steps outside.
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
Frank exits, lights up. The sky is going blue. Inside the
open rear doors of 13 Zebra, Larry mops up bloody floor.
Mary Burke, weary, steps beside Frank.
He offers a cigarette. She accepts:
You shouldn’t smoke.
It’s okay. They’re prescription.
Works better with a little whiskey.
That’s my brother’s problem. He’s
passed out inside.
Larry jumps theatrically out of the ambulance, swings the
mop wildly over his head:
That’s it! I can’t do it anymore!
Mary laughs once, less than a second. She notices blood stains
on Frank’s shirt:
That boy you brought in, he was shot,
He’s dead, huh?
I think this place stinks.
Our Lady of Misery.
Did you see my father?
It’s crazy in there. What’s wrong
with that doctor? He keeps mumbling,
poking himself in the eye when he
talks to me.
He’s working a double shift.
Thing is, I’m supposed to be the
fuckup. The one on the stretcher in
there–that’s supposed to be me.
With my parents crying out here. I
got a lot of guilt, you know what I
My father’s in a coma, now my mother’s
going crazy. It’s like she’s in a
She should go home.
I’d take her, but then who would
Frank looks at her, trying to say the right thing. He notices
Mrs. Burke coming from inside.
Here she is.
Mrs. Burke, dazed, steps out. They join her.
It wasn’t him.
You saw him?
They showed me someone. It wasn’t
him. It wasn’t my husband.
Mrs. Burke, please, they’ll take
care of him. You should go home now.
I should know my own husband. They
wouldn’t let me see him.
She drifts away. Frank speaks to Mary:
Larry and I’ll drop her back home.
Help me get her to the ambulance.
You want some coffee? I have some
apple sauce cake too.
They walk Mrs. Burke to 13 Zebra.
Mary watches as Larry backs up the EMS vehicle, Frank sitting
in the back with her mother, pulls into first light.
EXT. 12TH STREET–EARLY MORNING
Larry dropping Frank off at the corner of First and Sixteenth,
It is as if the sun has risen on a different city, different
from the one which Frank drove through the night before: a
city of crumbling neighborhoods laid bare by sunlight; a
city of day people, getting up, having breakfast, going to
INT. FRANK’S APARTMENT–DAY
Frank’s studio apartment betrays a minimal existence: single
bed, table, fridge and stove, loveseat, bookshelf, television.
The bookshelf contains a CD player, medical texts, old
schoolbooks (“Romantic Poetry”), paperback novels and,
incongruously, a picture book of women’s fashion.
A framed commendation from the New York Fire Department hangs
beside and open closet of work clothes, corduroy jacket, two
ties on a hook. Remnants of a fast food breakfast on the
table. Aluminum foil covers the windows, blocking out the
Frank stands bareback at the single open window, smoking,
drinking from a glass of whiskey, looking across the gray
cityscape of high rises and water tanks: winding down from
the night’s work:
Saving someone’s life is like falling
in love, the best drug in the world.
For days, sometimes weeks afterwards,
you walk the street making infinite
whatever you see. Once, for weeks I
couldn’t feel the earth. Everything
I touched became light. Horns played
in my shoes; flowers fell from my
TIME DISSOLVES: Frank paces the room. Pours himself another
FRANK (V.O.) (CONT’D)
You wonder if you’ve become immortal,
as if you saved your own life as
well. What was once criminal and
happenstance suddenly makes sense.
God has passed through you, why deny
it, that for a moment there, God was
TIME DISSOLVE: window is closed. Frank tosses in his sleep.
Nightstand alarm buzzes. Frank sits up, looks at the clock.
Stretching his neck, he walks over to the sink, runs water
on his hands and face.
EXT. EMS GARAGE–NIGHT
The maintenance garage and dispatch office adjacent to our
Lady of Mercy.
INT. EMS GARAGE OFFICE–NIGHT
Frank standing on one foot before the desk of CAPTAIN BARNEY,
50, ex-paramedic and lifetime civil servant.
Good morning, Captain.
Capt. Barney looks over to MISS WILLIAMS, his secretary,
seated at a desk perpendicular to his:
What am I going to to do with this
Pierce, I was just on the phone with
Borough Command. Out of twelve shifts
this month, you’ve been late for
nine, sick four and that includes
the shift where you came late and
went home early.
I’m sick. That’s what I’ve been
You’re killing me, you know that?
You got no sick time according to
Command. I’ve been told to terminate.
It’s okay. I’ll just get my things
out of the locker.
I’ve never fired anyone in my life.
I’m sorry Captain. Don’t take it too
Nobody tells me to fire anyone. I
told them: shove it up the big one.
(looks at Miss Williams)
(back to Frank)
I said, you want to fire him, come
over and do it yourself.
You know they won’t do it. It’s up
to you. You gotta be strong.
I feel for you, but we got an
emergency here. It’s a weekend of
full moons. Everyone’s called in
sick. Larry, Veeber, Stanley too.
We need bodies out there. I had to
put Marcus on Twelve Young. You know
he’s not supposed to work two nights
in a row.
You swore you’d fire me if I came in
I’ll fire you tomorrow. Hell, better
than that, I’ll forward you some
sick time. A week, two weeks off–
how about that?
I don’t think a week’s gonna do it.
I’m sorry, Pierce.
(hands Frank keys)
You’re going out with Marcus. Duty
calls. The City needs you.
EXT. SECOND AVENUE–NIGHT
12 Young heading downtown, lights off, slowing down for cross
streets. At the wheel: MARCUS, 45, black, reserved, chin
erect, seeming too old for the job. Frank rides techie.
My Lord mother man, you look like
hell. What were you drinking?
The captain almost fired me tonight.
I’m on my way out. Anytime now.
Nobody gets fired. Look at me. Only
thing they might do is transfer you
to the Bronx. You look like you aged
ten years since I rode with you last.
You ever notice people who see shit
always, are crazy?
I think the worst is over.
It can always get worse. You can’t
change what’s out there, only where
you’re coming from. You got to let
the Lord take over, in here.
(points to Frank’s
LOVE, a black, tough-talking female dispatcher, comes on the
Let’s go, Twelve Young. Answer the
Hey, Marcus, it’s Love. I haven’t
heard her in months.
She only works when I’m on. I make
her wait and it drives her crazy.
Is it true that you and Love went on
a blind date?
(Marcus looks away)
She hit you with a bottle?
She loves me the way no woman ever
Twelve Young, I don’t have time for
your games. Now answer me or do I
have to come out there myself?
I usually don’t do calls before
coffee. But I think it might do you
(picks up mike)
Twelve Young is here and I’m gonna
take care of you, baby. Don’t you
worry about a thing, yahear, cause
Marcus is alive and on arrival.
I’m not your baby, Young, I’m not
your mother either. You’re going to
a cardiac arrest, Avenue C and Ninth,
northeast corner. It’s a club. Take
the side entrance.
This is for you.
Marcus flips on the lights and siren.
EXT. NINTH & AVENUE C–NIGHT
Marcus grabs the yellow airway bag, leaving Frank to lug the
three heavier pieces as they push their way through the crowd
toward a black jacketed DOORMAN holding a walkie-talkie:
I hope we’re not late from you guys
holding us up here.
INT. CLUB BACKSTAGE–NIGHT
The Doorman leads Frank and Marcus through the smoky graffiti-
covered backstage ante-rooms to a cubicle where a knot of
club types and band members hover around IB BANGIN, 18 year-
old white rapper, face up, blank-eyed and breathless on dirt-
impacted carpet. Hip-hop music echoes from the club PA.
Frank kneels beside IB Bangin, taking a pulse, realizing
it’s the gray and black stage makeup making him seem DOA. He
pulls up IB Bangin’s eyelid, shines a light into the pupil.
Okay, what happened?
He’s going to be all right, right?
No. He’s dead.
No way, man.
He’s dead and there’s nothing we can
do. Come on, Frank, that’s it.
He’s not dead. It’s a heroin overdose.
Break out the Narcon.
He’s dead unless you folks want to
stop bullshitting me and tell it
straight. Then, Lord willing, we’ll
try to bring him back.
He broke up with his old lady.
We didn’t break up. We were just
seeing other people.
I’m still waiting and this young man
is still dead.
She broke his heart.
The Girlfriend shoots a look at the Bystander. Marcus just
stands, hands on hips, silent. Frank opens the drug box.
The Drummer relents:
All right, all right, he’s been
snorting that Red Death stuff. Been
going for four days.
(brings hands together)
What’s his name?
What’d you mean IB Bangin? What kind
of name is IB Bangin?
It’s Frederick. Frederick Smith.
Okay, IB Bangin, we’re gonna bring
you back. Every person here grab the
hand of the person next to you.
Marcus assists them as Frank breaks the cellophane off a
syringe, locates a vial of Narcon. Frank gives Marcus the
high sign–Marcus raises his hands:
Oh Lord, here I am again to ask one
more chance for a sinner. Bring back
IB Bangin, Lord. You have the power,
the might, the super light, to spare
this worthless man.
Frank injects IB Bangin: he responds to the Narcon with a
jolt, opening his eyes, raising his hands.
Oh wow, man. Oh wow.
You died, you stupid bastard. I warned
You guys are awesome.
(to IB Bangin)
Frank and the Girlfriend guide IB Bangin to the door as Marcus
collects the gear.
Not us. The first step is Love. The
second is Mercy.
He follows Frank, IB Bangin and Girlfriend out, calling for
the crowd to clear.
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
IB Bangin sitting with Nurse Constance in triage. Past Griss,
Frank talks with Dr. Hazmat:
That guy I brought in yesterday,
post-cardiac arrest. He’s gone.
Burke. You won’t believe it. He’s
showing cognitive signs. He started
with spontaneous respiration, now
he’s fighting to pull out the tube.
Had to sedate him. He’s in a CAT
scan. I’m giving him every test I
can: thromboytics, steroids,
What do you think?
Who knows? It’s all lower-brain-stem-
activity. The heart refuses to
stabilize–he’s coded eleven times
since he got here. This guy’s a
fighter. Every time the Valium wears
off he starts yanking those
The family know?
I wanted to bring them in, to see if
he’d respond to voices, but they
weren’t in the waiting room. The
guy’s daughter was in my face all
last night and when I finally have
something positive to tell her, she’s
Frank nods, walks down Skid Row, passing Nurse Constance
lecturing IB Bangin:
… you put poison in your veins and
now that you’re breathing again you
can’t wait to say thank you and go
back to poison shopping. Well, since
we saved your life, maybe you could
do us a favor and stop breathing in
another city next time …
EXT. FIRST AVE–NIGHT
12 Young heading up the avenue.
I ever tell you about the time years
ago I was on this ledge uptown, trying
to talk this psycho inside?
Where the guy jumped and you almost
fell. No, you never told me that
No, you never listened. I was going,
man, if someone on high hadn’t pulled
me in. I had put all I had into saving
this dumbass lowlife suicidal that
when he went down, there was a part
of me that wanted to go with him.
Make a left here. I want to stop.
EXT. BURKE APT. BUILDING–NIGHT
Marcus stops the ambulance on 17th Street.
I’ll be right back.
Frank gets out, walks over to the intercom, pushes the button
for 5A. Mary answers:
Hello, I’m Frank Pierce, from the
ambulance last night. I brought your
father into the hospital and I just
learned some news.
I’ll be right down.
Mary appears in a white sweater and simple gray skirt like
schoolgirls wear. The dark makeup is gone. She looks happy.
He’s better, isn’t he?
Well, the doctor says he’s showing
some movement. It’s still early, it
might mean nothing, but I thought
you’d want to know.
I knew. I sensed it when I heard
You look so different.
I know. It’s awful, isn’t it? Night
of the Living Cheerleaders.
I think it looks good.
I was going nuts in that waiting
room so I came back to check on my
How is she?
I was just going to get some food.
Pizza. Maybe we could.
You can’t kill my father that easy.
He’ll fight forever. Like with me:
hasn’t talked to me in three years.
But it’s okay. Sometimes you have to
put things behind you.
Mary steps to the curb, raises her hand for a taxi. None in
Be tough to get a taxi here. We can
give you a ride if you like.
(looks at him)
Frank opens the back doors of the bus, climbs in behind Mary.
They sit on the bench opposite the stretcher.
She’s the daughter of a cardiac arrest
I brought in last night. I told her
we’d give her a ride back to Misery.
Her father’s showing signs of
Oh, Frank, you’ve got it bad, so
much worse than I thought.
I’m hungry too. We gotta get some
food after this.
God help us, he’s hungry too.
Marcus turns on the radio, an old song from the sixties, as
they head uptown.
INT. MERCY CRITICAL CARE–NIGHT
Frank and Mary walking past the triage station toward the
curtained corner where her father lies. Next to Burke, Dr.
Hazmat assists an AIDS patient amid a forest of IV tubing.
Mr. Burke lies prone, two IV lines hung from poles, intubated
by a hose running to the ventilator, a NG tube covering his
nose. His eyes are permanently half open. Burke’s hands and
feet are tied by white nylon restraints. Mary takes her
father’s hand as Frank pulls the curtain.
Dad, can you hear me?
Open your eyes if you can hear me.
A nearby patient SCREAMS. Mary Burke SCREAMS too:
He squeezed my hand!
Dr. Hazmat and MILAGROS, an intern, walk over.
He’s moving, Doctor. He grabbed my
hand. Move your hand, Dad, one more
(Burke’s hand twitches))
I’ll be damned.
(check’s Burke’s pupils)
It’s movement, but I’m not sure how
He hears me. Open your eyes, Dad.
Burke’s eyes fully open. His cheeks ripple and his lips smack
against the tube between them. His back arches, his body
shakes, his arms yank at their restraints as if reaching to
pull out the wires and tubes. Green lights dance across the
EKG screen, ALARMS sound: first the cardiac monitor, next
Nurse Crupp, I need ten milligrams
Hazmat and Milagros hold down Burke’s arms as Crupp prepares
the Valium. Mary backs away.
Why don’t we go outside for a little
while, wait until this passes.
They step away.
INT. LOCKER ROOM–NIGHT
Passing Griss (reading anti-white agitprop) and waiting room
regulars, Frank leads Mary to a small rectangular paramedic
locker area: sofa, desk, two banks of gray lockers, walls
decorated with hospital rules and regulations.
He wants to pull that tube out. It’s
pretty painful–that’s why they keep
him sedated–but it’s a good sign.
You sure? I know my father would
hate to be tied down. He wouldn’t
even go to the dentist.
He sits across from her, wishing he could be in three seats
at once, each to watch her from a different angle.
That’s how it’s done. You have to
keep the body going until the brain
and heart recover enough to go on
He’s better, though, right?
Look, I’m sorry, but it’s important
to me. I mean, a week ago I was
wishing he was dead. And now I want
hear his voice again, just once more–
you know what I mean?
Marcus enters with a small pizza and two cokes.
Went over to Sal’s got this. There
must be some place in Hell for a guy
who sells a dollar-fifty a slice. I
call you if anything comes up.
I’m not really hungry.
She says as she picks up a slice of cheese pizza.
My father was a great man, you know.
There was nobody he wouldn’t help.
You know that crazy guy Noel who I
gave water to last night? He lived
in our house for almost a year. A
total stranger he’d do anything for,
his own family though …
It’s best not to …
(off her look)
It’s good pizza, huh?
Not as good as Nino’s.
You remember that pizza place, Joe’s
on Tenth Street maybe fifteen years
ago? When you ordered a pie it came
with a little plastic madonna in the
Yeah, or Saint Anthony. You from the
I grew up on Elizabeth. I went to
On yeah? I went to Holy Name. Where’d
you go to high school?
We moved out after that. Upstate.
Like everybody else–except us. Always
standing on the sidewalk waving
goodbye to moving trucks. Your parents
They’re fine. My old man was a bus
driver, mom a nurse–I was sort of
born to it, I guess.
Ah, no. I was.
It’s hard to explain. She had a hard
time adjusting to, well, maybe it
was my fault too.
Pause. This thought hangs in the air. From outside: a
BELLICOSE DRUNK is escorted into the ER.
White cocksuckers! Get your–Ow!
Is it always this bad in here? I
mean, how does anyone survive?
It’s been bad lately, but it’s always
How long you been doing this?
Wow, you musta seen some things,
huh? What’s the worst thing you ever
You learn to sort of block it out,
you know, like cops fence off a crime
scene. But then something good will
happen and everything will just glow.
You must get a lot of overdoses. I
bet you picked me up a couple of
I think I’d remember that.
Maybe not. I was a different person
then. Does everybody you meet spill
their problems on you like this?
Mostly. It must be my face. My mother
always said I looked like a priest.
(wipes her mouth)
I better go check on my father. Thanks
for the pizza. I owe you one. Maybe
when he gets better, you know, when
we’re done with all this.
Frank puts his hand out but she’s already on her feet. He
grabs the last slice of pizza, hands it to Griss as she heads
back to Critical Care.
Look after her, Griss, okay?
EXT. CANAL STREET–NIGHT
12 Young back on the job, moving with traffic.
Rule number one: Don’t get involved
with patients. Rule number two: Don’t
get involved with patient’s daughters.
What about rule number three: Don’t
get involved with dispatchers named
You don’t know the first thing about
rule number three, cannot begin to
understand the complexities of that
rule. Come on, let’s go look at some
hookers. The Kit Kat will be letting
(relevant to nothing)
Don’t ever call a junkie whore a
crackhead. They get real mad.
Marcus swings up First Ave:
Look at these women. You can’t even
tell who’s a hooker anymore. Whatever
happened to go-go boots and hot pants?
They wear anything now, walk outta
the house with whatever they got
Frank watches night tableaus (police cars flashing, lovers
kissing, woman crying hysterically, drunken slugfest) as his
The street is so much more
unpredictable than the ER and to
prepare for the unexpected I was
taught to act without thinking, like
an army private who can take apart
and reassemble a gun blindfolded …
Frank notices another EMS bus: Tom Walls wheeling a stretcher–
Noel, face bloodied, lies restrained as Walls’ partner opens
the rear doors.
FRANK (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I realized that my training was useful
in less than ten percent of the calls
and saving someone’s life was rarer
than that. As the years went by I
grew to understand that my role was
less about saving lives than about
bearing witness. I was a grief mop
and much of my job was to remove, if
even for a short time, the grief
starter or the grief product. It was
enough I simply showed up.
Marcus continues as if uninterrupted:
… look at her. Leaves you no idea
what’s underneath, not even a
suggestion. Could be a skeleton for
all you know.
They pass a working girl in a rain slicker who pulls off her
hood to look at them: a familiar face.
Nice though, pulling back her hood
as we drive by. There’s a mystery to
it, then she shows you.
She’s no whore, Marcus.
We’re all whores, Frank. You know
what I’m talking about, the way she
looked at me.
She wasn’t looking at you, man, she
was looking at me.
Frank, looking back at the Rose face, hears her faintly say:
Why did you kill me, Frank?
I didn’t kill you.
Marcus, not hearing “Rose’s” voice, replies:
No, you didn’t, Frank, thank you.
But there’s still a couple hours
left on the shift.
I need a drink, that’s all.
Dispatcher Love’s voice cuts through:
Twelve Young, answer the radio. I
have a call for you.
She said to me, I love the way you
talk on the radio.
I can’t wait all night, Young. I’m
holding a priority and if you don’t
answer I’m going to knock you out of
Don’t worry, hon. Young is here and
he’s gonna help out–just remember,
you owe me.
You’re going to three-four Avenue C,
17 year-old female cardiac arrest,
no further information.
Marcus hits the siren.
INT. RUNDOWN TENEMENT–NIGHT
Frank and Marcus standing in a no-income apartment with their
cardiac equipment. MARIA, a 17 year-old Hispanic girl, lies
moaning and breathing shallow on a ratty sofa. CARLOS, her
equally young boyfriend, watches anxiously, holding a candle
Look at that. A fat junkie. That’s a
Carlos speaks broken English:
No English. She has terrible pain in
(hands on stomach)
No, no, that’s impossible.
Are you pregnant? Estas embarazada?
Maria shakes her head, looks away.
Can you walk? Puedes caminar?
She say she in great pain.
Thanks for the translation.
What’s your name? Nombre?
Let’s have a look.
You know each other a long time?
Two years. Ever since we left island.
In that time, you ever have sex?
Never. No cigarettes, no drugs, no
We are virgins.
Oh Jesus, we’d better go. Call for
Marcus radioing for assistance.
Hold her down.
What’s that, Frank?
That’s too many.
Is she dying?
She’s having a baby. Twins.
You can trust me on this one.
It’s a miracle.
Maria SCREAMS. Marcus kneels beside Frank as a distant EMS
siren grows louder.
You take the first one.
Frank looks up at the screaming mother: it’s not her face.
It’s Rose. The Rose face.
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
Frank rushing past Nurse Constance, carrying a newborn in
thermal wrap, passing Noel restrained on a gurney:
She had a pulse.
Code! Code Blue!
Hazmat rushing over:
Oh Jesus, put her on the monitor.
Where’s the pediatric code cart?
(Odette arriving with
Odette give me that tube. All right,
flatline–let’s do CPR. step back,
Frank. How many months?
Can’t tell. It was a breech, twins.
The other one seems okay, though.
Marcus is taking him and the mother
Across the room an obscenity-spouting FEMALE CRACKHEAD being
restrained by a patrolman and hospital security–adding to
the sense of emergency and chaos. DR. MISHRA, 50, Pediatric
MD, and nurses squeeze toward newborn edging Frank back.
Mishra takes an osteocatheter out of the cart, forces it
into the now obscured baby as Nurse Constance massages the
Hazmat steps over to the now restrained Crackhead.
I’m a mother! I got a daughter! I
10 mil Valium, stat.
Mishra, worried, checks with Nurse Constance–they’re losing
I think there’s a pulse. I think.
Frank looking at the EKG monitor–a green flatline–backs
Frank walking away, not looking where he’s going, backs into
Excuse me, sir, excuse me, I would
please trouble you for one cup of
water. The smallest thing in the
world to ask for, water. A man is
dying and that is me.
Noel, his face battered from his encounter with Walls, pulls
at his restraints, howls:
For days I’ve eaten nothing but sand,
O Lord, I waited so long.
Hazmat looks over:
Christ. Who the hell woke him up?
EXT. CANAL STREET–NIGHT
12 Young on the road again, sky turning blue.
Don’t give me that look.
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s all over your face. That I-just-
We just saved a little baby boy.
Think of it that way.
I don’t want to hear about it, okay?
That’s three jobs for the night.
It’s over. Three jobs and time for a
drink. Six am, the cocktail hour.
Pass the bottle; I know you’re
Marcus reaches under the seat, pulls a pint of vodka, a quart
of orange juice and two cups out of an old gym bag, passes
them to Frank.
The bar is now open.
Frank mixes a screwdriver for Marcus, straight vodka for
I hate vodka.
Please, a little decorum if you will.
What I was going to say is, is that
holding that baby in my arms, I felt
like I was twenty-one again. A call
like that makes me think of going
back to three nights a week, not
two, start running again, cut down
on the drinking.
I’ll drink to that.
Here’s to the greatest job in the
(knocks vodka back)
Greatest job in the world.
Twelve Young, I have priorities
holding. Pick up the radio.
Don’t do it, Marcus. Tell her the
bus died, our radio’s not working,
our backs are out. Tell her we’re
too drunk to take any more calls.
Let’s do it!
It’s Marcus, Love, only for you.
Male diff breather, approximately
30, Houston and A.
Marcus hits the sirens and lights, accelerates to full speed.
The vodka spills; Frank grabs the dash.
I’m coming, Love! I’m coming!
Marcus swings the bus wildly to avoid a cab, SKIDS into a
turn–and smack toward a parked truck. Frank covers his face
CRASH! The back of the ambulance rams into the truck, the
rear windows shatter.
Frank looks around, realizes no one is hurt. He climbs out:
Where you going?
I quit! I’m through!
You can’t leave me now.
Frank walks up Avenue A, leaving Marcus and the disabled
vehicle. The first rays of sun strike the buildings ahead.
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–DAYBREAK
Frank turning the corner, checking his watch, about to enter
the Dark Bar across the corner from the hospital, watching
Noel run past him and away, skipping from one foot to the
So long, Noel.
The Emergency doors open: Mary Burke, head down, looking
neither direction, walks away from Frank. Griss steps out
after her. Frank joins him:
What’s going on, Griss?
Your friend there just untied the
water beggar. Griss was coming out
to thank her. Probably saved Griss a
Having a tough time of it.
Mary starts to run. Frank follows. She pushes her way through
a group of high schoolers; Frank does likewise, keeping his
Five blocks later, Mary hesitates at a plaza outside the
Stuyvesant Town projects,
EXT. STUYVESANT TOWN–MORNING
Frank stops a few steps away from Mary; Mary turns.
Excuse me. You seemed like you were
I’m all right. I just can’t stand to
see people tied up. I’m in the
waiting room for hours, listening to
Noel screaming. The only reason he’s
screaming is ‘cause he’s tied up.
Don’t seem so bad to me.
Don’t say that. I wanted to cut my
father loose too. They told me he
almost died and five minutes later
they say he’s better and I go in.
It’s killing me seeing him fighting
(gazes up building)
Look, since you’re here, maybe you
could do me a favor. I need you to
wait for me outside this building,
okay? I have to visit a friend who’s
Mary takes a few steps, turns back.
I’m only asking because it’s a
dangerous building. There’s been
some robberies, a woman was raped
not long ago. This woman I’m seeing,
she’ll want to talk to me all day,
but if I can point to you out the
window and say you’re waiting, I can
be out quick. if anything happens,
I’ll be in apartment 16M.
Maybe I should come up with you.
If I’m not back in fifteen minutes,
hit the buzzer. That way she’ll let
Nothing’s going to happen. I’ll come
No, I’ll be fine. I’m just visiting
a sick friend.
She walks into the building. He follows.
The dinged metal doors shudder shut as Frank follows Mary
into the graffittied elevator. It jumps three feet upwards,
stops, then continues, metal scraping concrete at each passing
I shouldn’t have asked you to come.
You asked me not to come.
Promise you won’t go inside.
I just have to relax a little. Not
feel so guilty all the time.
We can still go back. I’ll walk you
home. You sleep a couple of hours,
watch some TV, take a bath.
Don’t be a cop. If you have any doubts
about this, it’s my fault.
The elevator jerks to a stop; the doors open.
INT. SIXTEENTH FLOOR–MORNING
Mary turns to Frank:
You go on home, okay. I’m fine,
really. I don’t need you. Thanks.
Mary pushes the bell at 16M. KANITA, 25, wearing a paisley
robe, opens the doors and says:
Hey Cy, guess who’s here?
The elevator doors close on Frank.
Frank paces past the sleeping security guard, checks his
He presses the elevator button.
INT. THE OASIS–MORNING
The door to 16M opens:
Can I help you?
Mary Burke. She’s a friend.
She’s not here.
Frank pushes past her.
Wait a minute. You can’t go in.
CY COATES, 45, light-skinned black, stands in the smoky room.
Dark curtained windows block the sunlight; a dirty fish tank
casts a green glow across the beat-up furniture.
A large framed photo of a volcano hangs over the couch.
It’s okay, Kanita. Come on in.
He looks like a cop.
He’s not a cop, he’s a medic.
I’m CY Coates.
Mary said you might be coming.
Where is she?
Sleeping in the back.
She asked me to pick her up.
I know, but she told me to tell you
she wants to crash here a few hours.
Terrible about her father, isn’t it?
I better just go in and see her.
Kanita sits on the sofa next to an unshaven sleeping man.
I call this the Oasis. Refuge from
the world out there. Did you know
two people were shot in this building
Frank heads down the hall toward the rear of the apartment;
Coates follows. They pass an open door where inside TIGER, a
fat man with dried blood running down the corner of his mouth,
sits punching computer keys at a desk.
Careful. That’s the Tiger. The lady’s
down the hall. Welcome to Sunrise
Enterprises, Frank, the stress-free
In the NEXT ROOM Mary lies on a mattress on the floor, yellow
sheet pulled up to her neck. Frank leans over her:
Mary. Mary, we’ve got to get going.
She wanted something to help her
Mary, we really have to go.
Mary blindly swings her fist at him, collapses unconscious
back to the mattress.
Frank, she’s suffered enough. She’s
okay, I promise.
(puts hand on Frank’s
Coates escorts Frank back to the LIVING ROOM.
I’m always interested in people in
stressful occupations and being a
paramedic is about as stressful as I
can imagine. Here, sit down. What’s
it like? Tell me some war stories.
Got a beer?
Cy sits across from him, pulls out a pin-sized joint, lights
That shit is poison, Frank. We don’t
drink alcohol here. What you need is
one of these.
Did you give Mary something called
(passes joint to Kanita)
Tell me something, Frank–does killing
your clients make good business sense
to you? The kids selling that shit
have no sense. They’ll be taken care
of, don’t worry about that.
I should be going. I just quit.
Sleep is all stress reduction. Here.
(offers white pill)
You take one of these, sleep two
hours, that’s all you need.
Why do you think I’m telling you
this, Frank–for my health? You
ought to look at yourself in the
mirror, man. Kanita, get him a glass
Frank watches as Kanita gets up, walks to the kitchen. Coates
places the pill in his hand.
Is this what you gave Mary?
That’s the stuff. I call it the Red
Lion. Very king-of-the-jungle.
No language, only brute power. You can’t believe how relaxing
Kanita returns with a glass of water, gives it to Frank;
Coates stands, feeds the fish.
Frank, I’m trying to help you. Drink
Frank swallows the white pill, drinks the water. He places
his arms on the chair:
I guess I’ll be going.
Just take it easy.
Frank looks around the smoke-filled room. Kanita walks over,
extends her hand.
Take my pulse.
It’s good, isn’t it?
I knew it. I was wrong about you.
You’re not so bad.
Kanita runs her hand across his shoulders. Frank starts to
nod. The room getting warm and dark. His eyelids lower: sleep,
FRANK’S ROSE DREAM
Voices and sounds echo through the purple haze as Frank’s
mind drifts in time and space. Action and sounds slow, speed
up, distort–intermix with the Oasis–as Frank goes back:
This is how it begins: the last time, the first time …
Larry exits 13 Zebra as Rose, 18, wearing a yellow rain
slicker, falls to her knees in the miasmic dream stank, onto
the sidewalk, then onto her back. From forty feet away Frank,
seeing her reach for a parking meter, grabbing the tube kit,
Rose gasping for breath, Frank falling to his knees, lifting
her tongue, prying her teeth apart, slipping the blade between
her lips–Rose not breathing: waiting for her to inhale,
shooting the tube down her vocal cords. Larry listening to
lung sounds, belly sounds:
You’re in the stomach!
My name. Rose.
You’re in the stomach, man.
Frank pulling the tube out, trying again.
Somewhere: CY Coates laughs.
You’re in the stomach! Let me try.
One more time!
Rose going blue, pulse rate dropping, EKG Slowing: Jim
Larry ripping the tube from Frank’s hands, taking over,
pushing Frank aside, trying CPR, intubating Rose, air moving
into her lungs–it doesn’t matter. Rose is gone.
Frank hears a SCREAM: it’s his own voice.
INT. THE OASIS–DAY
Frank standing screaming in the living room. CY walking over,
Kanita standing, the sleeping man awaking.
Frank, take it easy. what happened?
He flipped out.
Frank bends over in pain.
Be cool, man. You’re having a
paradoxical reaction. It can happen.
Didn’t I tell you this guy was
Stressed? He’s psycho.
Frank heads to where Mary sleeps.
Frank, where you going?
In the BACK BEDROOM, Frank picks up Mary, hoists her over
his shoulder fireman-style and heads out.
You’re making a mistake. Sit down
and relax a minute.
Frank opens the front door–no one stops him–exits.
She’ll be back. And, by the way, you
owe me ten bucks.
INT. STUYVESANT LOBBY–DAY
The elevator doors open. Frank sets Mary on her feet.
I can walk.
She says weaving out of the front doors.
EXT. STUYVESANT TOWN–DAY
Mary walks a Few steps into the plaza, stumbles; Frank catches
Let go of me.
You shouldn’t have come up. I told
you not to. You could have gotten us
Mary heads up the avenue: past baby strollers, postal workers,
You and CY have a nice talk? He tell
you about Sunrise Enterprises, helping
people? Well, I’ve seen him hurt
people. Why are you following me?
Because you can barely walk.
Frank walking slightly beside and behind, lights a cigarette.
You remember Noel, from the other
night, how Noel is now? He wasn’t
always like that. He was my brother’s
best friend. Cy or Tiger or one of
those other goons put a bullet in
Noel’s head. He was in a coma three
months. Crazy ever since.
They stop at a three-story brick apartment building.
This is my place.
She unlocks the door. He follows her in.
INT. MARY’S APT. BUILDING–DAY
Mary grabs the railing, heads up the stairs.
What is it? You want to help me, you
feel sorry for me? Keep it to
I need to sit down a minute.
Or maybe you wanna fuck me? Everyone
Mary opens the door to her first floor apartment; Frank
follows. The room is clean and feminine. Unframed water colors
stacked against the wall atop a desk. A black lab greets
Mary, she pets him. Frank slumps on the sofa.
I’ve been clean two years now. I got
a job. I paint when I’m home. Don’t
bother anybody. Then all this shit
Frank keels over onto his side, his head hitting a cushion,
eyes closed, dog licking his cheek.
Oh no you don’t. You can’t stay here.
He’s asleep, the sound of her crying fading in his head.
INT. MARY’S APT.–NIGHT
FADE IN: a passing siren wakes Frank. He thinks back, looking
around the darkened room, realizes where he is. The dog comes
over, licks his hand.
Hello, I’m Frank. Mary’s friend. A
very close friend who loves animals.
He removes the blanket Mary has laid over him, stands:
Frank walks cautiously through the dark, finds a bathroom
lit by a glowing Mickey Mouse switch. He flips on the switch:
a string of green and red Christmas lights glow. Three types
of soap sit on the sink. He turns on the faucet:
FRANK (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I washed my face with three kinds of
soap, each smelling like a different
season. It felt good to be in a
woman’s room again, especially a
woman who wasn’t comatose or severely
disabled. I felt that perhaps I had
turned a corner, like I saved someone,
though I didn’t know who.
INT. EMS GARAGE OFFICE–NIGHT
Frank standing at Captain Barney’s desk.
You’re late, Pierce. I know, but I
can’t fire you. I’ve got nobody to
work sixteen XRay with Walls.
I got some forms here to fill out
about that accident when you get the
(hands him keys)
I’ll fire you tomorrow. I promise.
What if there is no tomorrow?
Go on, get outta here, Pierce, before
I give you a big hug.
(to Miss Williams)
I love this guy.
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
Frank walks toward Sixteen XRay as Walls gets out of the
front seat. The EMS vehicle is dented and rusted, a relic of
wars and a hodgepodge of parts.
Frank, what do you know. It’s you
and me again tonight, the Rough
Riders, tearing up the streets just
like old times.
(kicks the front tire)
This old bus is a warrior, Frank,
just like us. I have tried to kill
him and he will not die. I have a
great respect for that.
Frank makes a “be right back” gesture, walks into ER.
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
Saturday night at the Knife and Gun Club: the joint is
hopping, the sound system blaring.
Frank passing Griss holding back an angry Hispanic man with
a bleeding arm:
Don’t make me take off my sunglasses.
We’re full up tonight, Frank.
Frank walks over to unit three, Mr. Burke’s cubicle, pulls
back the curtain. Burke lies sedated, wired and tubed. Frank
leans over, feels Burke’s pulse.
Frank’s expression changes–he looks at the EKG monitor:
green lines seem to be at war, normal beats marching in
formation against wild-looking rhythms, the heart working
hard and not getting much done.
Burke’s face twitches. Burke’s voice speaks in Frank’s head:
Go to the bank, boy, take out
everything you can.
Frank turns up the EKG amplitude:
I’m going. I’ve had enough.
The alarms start to ring: EKG first, followed by the bells
off the oxygen saturation monitor and low drone of ventilator.
Intern Milagros pulling open the curtain behind Frank, shaking
her head, reaching for the defribilator paddles, handing
them to Frank. He steps back:
You do it.
Can’t reach. You’re taller.
Don’t do it.
I thought he was getting better.
Technically, yeah. I suppose. It
Tha family wants us to do everything
to save him–so, that’s it. They
want to keep him alive, they want to
believe in miracles, we keep him
alive. Shock him, Frank. He’ll come
back. He always comes back.
Frank shocks Burke: his body convulses.
The heartbeats on monitor return to regular formation.
BURKE’S VOICE (CONT’D)
You son of a bitch.
Should I increase the lidocaine?
Frank, despondent, not listening, walks away.
EXT. AVENUE A–NIGHT
16 XRay driving past a strip of night clubs and restaurants:
the sidewalks full of young people laughing, jostling,
Walls driving. In addition to the EMS two-way and AM radio,
Walls keeps a police band walkie-talkie open. He looks into
the back of the bus:
Frank, what you doing back there?
Frank places an open drug box on the stretcher, pulls out an
IV set, wraps a tourniquet around his left bicep.
I’m sick, Tom. I need a cure.
Vitamin B cocktail, followed by an
amp of glucose and a drop of
adrenaline. Not as good as beer, but
all I got.
Come on, Frank. There’s blood spilling
in the streets.
Frank crawls back in front carrying the IV bag, puts on the
oxygen mask, turns on the main tanks, takes a deep hit.
(pulls off mask)
These are hard times, Tom.
Yeah. Great, isn’t it?
Great to be drunk. Sobriety’s killing
Look up, Frank. Full moon. The blood’s
gonna run tonight. I can feel it.
Our mission: to save lives.
Our mission is coffee, Tom. A shot
of the bull, Puerto Rican espresso.
Ten-four. El Toro de Oro. Blast off.
Walls hits the sirens, accelerates.
The cure’s not working, Tom. Maybe
we should go back to the hospital.
Don’t worry, kid. Tom’ll take care
of you. Put your head out the window,
get some of that summer air. Listen
to the music. El Toro de Oro. Andale.
Walls turns up the radio, drums his hands against the wheel.
Okay, units, it’s suicide hour.
Fourteen Boy, I show you in the
hospital sixty minutes but I know
you’re in the diner on 14th. Put
down the burger, I got a call for
you around the corner, 14 and 3rd, a
man with a noose around his neck and
nothing to hang it on. Sixteen XRay,
don’t even think about getting coffee,
I have a call for you too.
Sixteen XTerminator here. We like
our coffee bloody. Make it good–my
partner’s dying to help someone.
You’re in luck, X: your patient awaits
you with bleeding wrists on Avenue C
Frank pulls the IV needle out of his arm, searches the glove
Tom, where are the Band-aids? This
is an ambulance, isn’t it?
(hitting the gas)
16 XRay lurches forward.
EXT. AVENUE C AND 4TH–NIGHT
16 XRay brakes to a stop before a duster of derelicts, junkies
and night people. Two DRUNKS are trying to help a friend
with CUT WRISTS.
What the hell’s going on?
You’ve gotta take him to the hospital.
He tried to kill himself. Show him
your wrist. Show A.
Cut Wrists gets up, leans against the ambulance, shaking.
DRUNK #1 (CONT’D)
See, he ain’t right.
Hold it. I will not take anyone
anywhere against his will. This is
America. People have rights.
He was bleeding before. He kept
spilling his beer. I gave him mouth-
You’re lucky you didn’t kill him.
(to Cut Wrists)
We’re going to hear it straight from
the loony’s mouth. Are you crazy?
Did you try to bump yourself off?
Why didn’t you say so.
Walls escorts Cut Wrists into the back of the bus, pulls a
plastic electric patch off the EKG monitor. Frank joins them.
Sir, I am going to give you some
medicine that is still very
experimental. It’s from NASA, and
although the astronauts have been
using it for years, we are the first
service to try it. I will put this
patch on your forehead like this,
and in about a minute you will have
You will forget all your suicidal
feelings. It’s very important that
you wear this for a least twenty-
four hours and keep checking the
mirror. If the patch turns green you
have to see the doctor immediately.
The side effects could be fatal.
Cut Wrists nods.
This is the worst suicide attempt
I’ve ever seen. You feel the pulse?
Here. That’s where you cut, and it’s
not across, it’s down like so.
(takes out his knife)
Here take it.
With all the poor people of this
city who wanted only to live and
were viciously murdered, you have
the nerve to sit here waiting to die
and not go through with it. You make
me sick. Take it.
Cut Wrists bolts out of the back of the bus, trips as he
hits the ground, runs down the street, turning the corner
still holding the patch to his forehead.
We cured him, Frank. When we work
together there’s nothing we can’t
EXT. EL TORO DE ORO–NIGHT
16 XRay parked outside a fluorescent chrome and plastic coffee
INT. EL TORO DE ORO–NIGHT
Frank smoking at a formica table, his walkie-talkie upright
next to an ashtray. Walls returns with two espressos as the
Dispatcher rattles on.
Sounds like they’re trying to clean
up the bus terminal tonight,
Frank doesn’t answer. Tom shines his mini-flashlight in
Hello, hello. Major Tom to Frank,
time to come home.
Frank watches a hooker on the sidewalk. Two street punks
dripping gold and attitude head the opposite direction: one
turns his head, looks at Frank–it’s Rose. The Rose face.
Frank getting up, grabbing his walkie and coffee, heading
Where you going?
C’mon, Tom. The city’s burning.
Frank at the wheel, driving high speed: radio full volume.
I feel the need, the need for speed.
I’m driving out of myself.
The brakes are shot.
I’ve taken that into consideration.
I never felt better in my life.
Sixteen XRay, XRay.
First of all, I want you to know how
sorry I am about this. I’ve always
liked you two. A unit above none, a
legend in its own lunchtime, so it
hurts me deeply to do this but I
have no choice. You must go to Second
and St. Marks. In front of a liquor
store you’ll find a forty year-old
male, unconscious, lying next to his
wheelchair. Do I have to say more?
You’ve said too much already.
It’s early for him.
That’s all right, we’re not meant to
do Oh tonight. Something is going to
happen. I can feel it.
Tom hears something on the police band: a call for units to
(keys police walkie)
EMS to Central. What was that call?
A jumper. Stuyvesant Town.
Ten-four. One minute out.
Sixteen, Sixteen XRay. Level One
But they’re not listening–Frank’s off to Stuyvesant Town.
EXT. STUYVESANT TOWN–NIGHT
Police cars, fire engines, a massive Emergency Service rescue
truck all flashing dome lights on the street, on the plaza
surrounding Cy Coates’ building: cops, Swat team, spotlights,
Frank and Tom, getting out, looking up: the spotlit figure
of Cy Coates, thirteen floors above, suspended on a railing,
Whadda we bring?
Better bring it all.
Frank and Tom, lugging their equipment, meet up with cops,
firemen and their rescue equipment.
The elevator’s fucked. We’d never
all fit anyway. Let’s go.
That’s thirteen flights.
The news guys just pulled up.
The stairs, men, the stairs.
The Sergeant leads a half dozen cops and firemen up the stairs
as the elevator doors open. Tom, Frank and two COPS squeeze
This guy a jumper?
We got a call for shots fired on
the sixteenth floor. The jumper
called right after.
I’m going to sixteen.
As the elevator doors close.
INT. THE OASIS–NIGHT
Frank steps out with the officers. The door to 16M is open:
Kanita lies half in, half out the door, a perfectly round
hole above her eye, splinters of bone and blood down the
side of her nose.
The carpet is soaked with water; shards of glass lie amid
dying fish. A cop returns from the rear hall of the apartment,
stands before photo of volcano:
That’s it, nobody else home.
Frank, looking over the balcony, sees Cy three floors below.
I’m going to thirteen.
Frank heads clown the stairs.
INT. THIRTEENTH FLOOR–NIGHT
Frank emerges on thirteen: Walls, the panting Police Sergeant
and team have overturned the furniture in 13M: the absent
owners would have trouble recognizing it. The floor is covered
with gas-powered metal cutters, acetylene torches, ropes,
A trail of blood leads to where Walls stands, Tiger’s prone
body behind him:
Get this, Frank–we got two patients.
Number one, the scarecrow outside.
Number two misses the railing but
breaks both legs on the balcony,
then throws himself through a glass
window, heads to the bedroom, where
he’s now passed out.
Well, he’s the steakhead of the night,
I don’t think the fire people can
touch him out there.
How’s he doing?
I haven’t had a chance to see him
yet. I’m going to take care of
Frank goes over to Coates as two cops strap on harnesses. CY
hangs impaled on the railing, a steel spike passing through
his hip. Glowing in spotlights from thirteen floors below,
Frank takes Coates’ vital signs, gently presses his abdomen:
Does that hurt?
Frank, IV bag in his teeth, putting an oxygen mask on Coates:
I don’t think you’ve hurt any major
(sets IV line)
We got to get you off this thing
without setting off bleeding.
Cops behind click on harnesses (“You in?” “Yeah” “You in?”)
attach straps to pitons they’ve hammered into the brick wall,
bring out metal cutters and torches.
They’re gonna torch the fence. You’re
gonna feel the metal getting warm,
maybe very warm.
I can’t hold up my head anymore.
Frank passes the IV bag to one of the cops, holds Coates,
head. CY relaxes his neck as SPARKS splay like fireworks
beneath him, fall to the concrete.
So, Frank, am I going to live?
You’re going to live.
I’ve been thinking about things.
Meditating on my financial future.
You guys gave me plenty of time to
meditate on the future. Whatja do,
stop for Chinese on the way over?
There’s plenty of food in my place.
I was tired. I needed a coffee.
What about Kanita?
That’s too bad. Get some money, a
nice looking girl on your arm, and
everyone wants to take a piece. Some
kid I wouldn’t let wash my Mercedes
is in my house, shooting at me. Damn,
I thought I could make it onto the
balcony like Tiger. He’s fat, that’s
why, falls faster. I’m trying to
watch my weight, and look what
happens. Am I shot, Frank?
Boy can’t shoot for shit, either.
Goddamn that’s hot.
Frank looks: the spike in Coates’ hip starting to glow red.
CY stretches his hand toward the skyline, his face backlit
by raining acetylene sparks:
Isn’t it beautiful? When the fires
start to fall, then the strongest
rule it all. I love this city.
The torch breaks the spike free: Frank and Coates FREE FALL
three feet, jerk to a stop. Cy yelps. The crowd cheers from
Frank now grabbing, holding Coates tightly–Frank’s hands
the only thing keeping Coates from falling–as the cops hoist
Good thing we buckled you in, huh?
What about me? Who’s supposed to
(to 2nd cop)
I thought you did.
I thought you did.
I’m so sorry, sir.
The cops lift Frank and Coates onto the balcony.
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
16 XRay parked in front.
INT. MERCY CRITICAL CARE–NIGHT
Frank walking out of the restroom wiping water off his face,
looking at the gurney where Coates lies on his side, metal
spike still sticking through his hip, IV line running to his
arm, eyes closed. Nurses walk past Coates: he’s stabilized,
waiting his turn. CY, take a number.
Frank spots Hazmat at Burke’s cubicle, walks over.
Nurse Crupp, we’re going to need
some Valium here. He’s waking up
The ventilator alarm goes off as Burke pulls at his
Where’s that Valium?
Nurse Crupp walks briskly over, injects needle into one of
Burke’s IV bags.
Burke’s voice speaks in Frank’s head:
Don’t. Don’t do it.
Give me a hand, Frank. I’ve got to
get something between those teeth.
Frank helps Hazmat force in a bite stick. The monitor alarm
cuts off, the ventilator starts up again, pumping air in,
pulling air out.
You can’t believe how much he’s
How many times have you shocked him
Fourteen. We finally got him a room
upstairs. Should be up there in a
couple of hours.
What do you do, just have someone
follow him around with a defribilator?
That’s good, Frank. No, but they
might surgically implant one, about
the size of my thumb. It goes near
the shoulder here, with two electrodes
connected to the heart. It sends a
shock whenever it senses a drop in
blood flow. Amazing, isn’t it?
A medical miracle.
INT. MERCY WAITING ROOM–NIGHT
Frank notices Mary Burke in waiting area with her brother,
mother and several others. Gone is the lost daughter, the
scared junkie. Tonight she’s dressed for strength: leather
jacket, blue jeans, black work boots.
Everyone, this is the medic who
brought my father in. Frank, these
are some of my father’s friends.
Frank greets them.
We live out an the Island now, but
we used to live right down the block
from Pat. He was like a saint to us.
Came as soon as we heard.
I’m going out for a smoke.
Mary whispers something to her mother, joins him.
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
Frank offers her a cigarette. Walls waits in 16 XRay, now
parked at the curb.
I heard CY Coates was brought in. He
looked pretty bad.
He’ll be all right.
Too bad. He called me up today, can
you believe that? I don’t know how
he got my number. He asks me do I
want to come over and see him, I
tell him I’d rather go to a leper
colony. He says there’s a new gang
that wants to kill him, take over
the business. I told him I hope he’s
right. That they kill him. That’s
what I told him.
It’ll be a while before he’s up and
OK, last night I was weak. it won’t
happen again. And all that shit I
said–it was just because I was
stoned. Forget it.
No problem. Thanks for letting me
crash. It was the best sleep I’ve
had in months. I used some of your
I wish these people would leave
already. I can’t listen to another
story. Did you see him?
(Frank doesn’t answer)
That doctor says the brain is coming
around. They’re waiting for the heart
to stabilize. I don’t know who to
believe. He says they still have to
keep him tied up.
Can I bring you something back to
eat–a falafal, some pizza?
No, we just ate. I only remember how
tough my father was. Now I know he
had to be like that, to make us tough.
This city’ll kill you if you aren’t
No, the city doesn’t discriminate.
It gets everybody.
Walls flashes 16 XRay’s headlights, hits the horns.
I gotta go. Another call.
Frank, his heart pounding, steps closer to her.
We’re all dying, Mary Burke.
He leans as if to kiss her.
This is not a good time.
There’s no time.
He places his hand on her shoulder, kisses her lightly, walks
toward Walls and the waiting ambulance.
EXT. FIRST AVE–NIGHT
16 XRay is cooking now–Walls at the wheel, Frank shotgun,
passing a pint of whiskey back and forth: radio blasting–
INXS: “The Devil Inside.”
Get ready, Frank. Missed a drug
shooting while you were dicking around
in there. There’s gonna be trauma
As long as we keep moving. No standing
C’mon, look at your screen. Give up
Sixteen XRay, a man at the bus
terminal shot three years ago says
his arm hurts.
Frank looks at a group of girls exiting an after-hours club:
every one a Rose. Rose faces.
C’mon, Tom, pick up a job.
You want some bum in the bus terminal?
We’ll wait for a real call.
Let’s get in a fight, then.
That’s your job. Just keep driving,
keep moving. No stopping. We’re
sharks. We stop too long, we die.
Walls hits the accelerator: the old bus jerks forward:
Let’s break something, Tom. Let’s
bust something, bomb something.
What do you want to break?
(taking a drink)
I don’t know–let’s break some
Destruction, distraction. I feel the
You need a reason, Frank. You don’t
just go around breaking people’s
windows. That’s anarchy.
What’s the reason? Give me a reason,
Let me think.
Tom hits the siren as he swings wildly around a stopped cab
and its turban-headed driver:
Classic cabbie move.
Hey, swammy, that’s called a
crosswalk. You stop before it, not
Walls turns onto a cross street, spots Noel standing by a
Mustang, baseball bat on his shoulder. He wears yesterday’s
blood-stained clothes, cut tires tied to his shoulders and
elbows, chest and belly wrapped with steel wire.
I know who to work over. Him.
Walls slows as Noel lifts the bat, swings it into the
Mustang’s front window, shattering it, puts the bat down,
using it like a cane as he walks to the next parked car.
This guy’s been terrorizing the
neighborhood for weeks, ever since
he got outta jail, wreaking general
havoc, contributing to the bad name
of the place. The term “menace to
society” was made up for him.
He’s crazy. He can’t help it.
Well, why don’t they put him away?
Prisons don’t want him. I took him
to the hospital yesterday and here
he is again.
Noel reaches the next car, a Bronco, carefully hefts the
bat, smashes it through the windshield.
Look at that. Tell me that’s a crazy
person. Every move is calculated. He
knows exactly what he’s doing. This
is the guy. I’ve been after him for
weeks. He’s quick, runs like a rat,
tough for one person, but with two
Okay, whatta I do?
If he sees me, he’ll run, so I’ll
get out here. You start talking to
him about baseball or something while
I sneak around behind and get down
and you push him. When he falls we
Believe me, it always works. The
simpler, the better.
You learn that in the army?
Walls slips out, crouches beside the bus. Frank, stepping
out, walks over to Noel as he whacks the bat through the
hatch of a Pinto.
That’s a hell of a swing you got
there, Noel. I’m thinking Strawberry
in his prime.
Strawberry ain’t shit. Drug pussy.
(heads for the next
Me. I swing like Reggie. Mr.
October. Number three, game six,
Noel hauls back, lays into a Volvo: glass shatters. Noel
holds the bat out, extends handle towards Frank:
Here, you try.
No, I’d better not.
Sure, sure, give go.
Frank, intrigued by Noel’s suggestion, has forgotten Walls’
plan. He takes the bat as Tom sneaks behind Noel, crouching.
What the hell.
(spits into hands)
The next year, tiebreaker for the
division, in Boston, Yanks down two
to nothing, Bucky Dent steps to the
Oh man, Bucky.
The pitch, high heater. Bucky knows
what’s coming. He steps in, smash,
over the green monster.
Frank cocks the baseball bat, relishing every moment, swings
into the Volvo’s side window. Shattered glass flies on his
hands and clothes.
Walls, fed up with this, stands:
Frank, what the hell are you doing?
Noel, seeing Walls, grabs the bat, flees down an alley.
You go down those stairs there. Meet
me back here if you can’t find him
in ten minutes. Call out if you see
him. Get with the program, Frank.
Walls takes off after Noel. Frank, taking out his flashlight,
enters second alley, walks down dark stairs which hopefully
circle around to Noel.
Mini-flashlight leading the way, Frank steps gingerly down
the refuse-strewn alley. Ahead: footsteps.
He kicks something, thinking it’s trash, looks down; a body
rustles, pair of sleeping eyes look up.
Suddenly everything seems silent. He passes a row of glowing
red doors. Shadows flash in the distance. He hears a woman
crying, shoots his flashlight her direction: nothing.
Frank hears the voice again: Rose’s voice:
Why did you kill me, Frank?
I didn’t mean to.
You should have helped me.
I tried to help. I wanted to.
Shadows like hands extend against the wall ahead.
Don’t you love me?
Frank moves toward the reaching arms. The shadows swing like
baseball bats. Noel SCREAMS.
Suddenly, before him, a blurry mass of bloody dreadlocks–
Noel goes flying to the ground, Walls standing over him
swinging the bat, hitting him, killing him.
I got him, Frank!
Frank stands back, watching Walls and Noel like some static
black and white TV screen from his childhood. Noel, trying
to protect himself, cries out.
To the moon, Alice! You little
Frank charges forward into Walls, sending Tom, the baseball
bat flying. Walls on the ground. Frank bends over Noel: Noel’s
face covered with blood, gasping for air, blowing red bubbles,
Get the kit! We’re gonna tube him!
We’re gonna save you, Noel. You’re
gonna be all right.
Do it, Tom! I’ll call for fucking
backup, I swear!
Noel unconscious: Tom hurries down the alley toward the
ambulance as Frank opens Noel’s mouth.
You’re going to make it! You’re going
to make it!
Pressing Noel’s chest, Frank lowers his mouth, starts CPR.
His mouth to Noel’s. In the distance: Walls’ footsteps
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–NIGHT
16 XRay parked out front: the sky is going blue.
INT. MERCY ER–NIGHT
Frank and Tom, their shirts blood-stained, pushing Noel down
Skid Row, past Griss, past Nurse Constance. Tom wheels, Frank
carries the IV bag.
Take him straight through.
Who got that funky motherfucker this
(to Nurse Constance)
Last show of the night.
Jesus Christ. Nurse Crupp!
Anybody else hurt?
Walls pushes Noel into unit one. Frank looks over to unit
three–Burke’s cubicle is empty.
Upstairs. 212. Had to shock him twice
Frank nods, walks out. Behind, Walls helps Hazmat and Crupp
place Noel on a bed.
INT. ROOM 212–NIGHT
Frank Pierce walks down the hospital corridor, steps into
Burke lies, tubed, wired and tied to life support. Blue light
comes through the window. On the EKG monitor: a slow steady
green endless line: up, down.
Frank takes a moment, exhales.
One by one, Frank flips off the machines. The clanging EKG
ALARM is followed by the bass honking of the respirator alarm
and two tweetering IV-drip alarms.
Frank, holding Burke’s pulse, watches the life go out of
him. Hearing commotion outside, Frank flips the machines
back on: the EKG monitor is flatline.
A FLOOR NURSE rushes in, feels for Burke’s pulse.
Frank steps back as the Nurse hits the emergency switch.
FLOOR NURSE (CONT’D)
Are we doing CPR?
Dr. Hazmat, out of breath, enters:
FLOOR NURSE (CONT’D)
Christ, what a way to start the day.
He’s in V-fib. Shock him.
Frank pulls out the paddles, applies them to Burke’s chest:
Frank, knowing it’s futile, shocks Burke: no result.
Zap him again.
Frank goes through the motions, pretending to shock Burke.
The flatline doesn’t waver.
Nothing. Get the cart, start
compressions, get an epinephrine in.
Frank backs out the door as a nurse and intern enter.
In the corridor Frank listens as the activity becomes less
Hazmat steps out:
That’s enough. I called it. Let’s
get some coffee.
You gonna tell the family?
EXT. MERCY EMERGENCY–DAYBREAK
Frank walks out of Our Lady of Mercy, heads down the side
street. He passes Tom Walls wielding a giant flashlight,
smashing Sixteen XRay’s headlights, denting the hood and
EXT. MARY’S APT. BUILDING–DAY
Frank rings the buzzer. Mary, sleepy-voiced, answers:
Who is it?
Come on up.
INT. FIRST FLOOR–DAY
Mary, wearing a burgundy robe, opens the door. Frank says
nothing. Her expression darkens.
Frank looks at her again: it’s not Mary, it’s Rose. Mary has
He’s dead, Rose. Your father passed.
How can that be? He was getting
He coded. They shocked him one too
many times. I’m sorry.
He was tough. You did all you could.
You have to keep the body going until
the brain and heart recover enough
to go on their own.
Would you like to come in?
Rose/Mary opens the door wider, closes it behind Frank.
INT. MARY’S BEDROOM–DAY
Rose is Mary again: she and Frank lie clothed on her bed. He
leans his head against her breast as she holds him. His eyes
THE END[amazonjs asin=”B0009Q0K28″ locale=”JP” title=”救命士 DVD”]