Into the Arms of Angels, Part 10 of 14

Desk

I hope you enjoy the tenth installment of my feature-length screenplay, “Into the Arms of Angels” (© 2005, 2016).

For Part 9, please click here.

For Part 1 and a glossary of screenwriting abbreviations, please click here.

Each installment concludes with a link to its successor.

 

EXT. WEST STREET, AT THE GROUND ZERO FENCE – MONDAY – 2006

The view of Ground Zero from the east side of West Street shows seeds of construction in the gaping pit.

JOY (O.S.)

Ground Zero.

 

Joe and Otto stand side by side at the fence, staring into the pit. Joy stands behind them.

JOY (CONT’D)

D’you know the media had it named almost immediately on 9/11?

 

JOE

It fits.

 

JOY

Yes, I s’pose it does.

 

Joy stares for a few more seconds and then turns to face Joe.

JOY (CONT’D)

Mr. Kleinschmidt, on behalf of Bongo Foods, I want to thank you again for your presentation this morning. As a good corporate citizen of the packaged food industry, Bongo appreciates every chance to learn about companies with whom we share markets. We wish County Dairy good fortune in the Heartland, and we look forward to following your success. When is your flight? You leave today?

 

OTTO

Yes, at 6 –

 

JOY

Good, you have some free time. Have you thought about what to do before you return to Minnesota –

 

JOE

Wisconsin.

 

JOY

Beg pardon?

 

JOE

We’re from Wisconsin.

 

JOY

Oh! I can’t keep them straight.

 

JOE

What are you saying?

 

JOY

Surely you don’t think my world revolves around cows, cheese, and beer?

 

JOE

No. No, of course not. I mean, what about the deal?

 

JOY

The deal?

 

JOE

Bongo buying County! What this trip is all about! What my best friend started five years ago –

 

JOY

Most likely it’s off.

 

OTTO

Like that?

 

JOY

Yes, like that.

 

OTTO

How, I mean, what –

 

JOE

But Bongo invited us. They almost begged us –

 

OTTO

What in the heck happened?

 

JOY

I’m not at liberty to divulge details of pending –

 

JOE

What’s pending?

 

JOY

Bongo Foods of course has many simultaneous considerations –

 

JOE

Considerations?

 

JOY

If Bongo decides its best interests lie in merger with another firm –

 

OTTO

Another?

 

JOE

With whom?

 

JOY

As I said, gentlemen, I’m not at liberty to reveal, and I’d add that your confrontational attitude could –

 

JOE

Just cut the crap, will you? I speak English, not New York.

 

JOY

Sir, I must warn you –

 

JOE

Warn me of what? That if I don’t behave I’ll have to give up sleep, endure airport hell, and completely waste my time in a room full of catatonic suits?

 

Joy looks from Joe to Otto and back.

JOY

Please don’t yell. I get enough of that in the office. Listen, I’ve felt sorry for you guys. You’ve been royally jerked around, so I’ll be straight with you now; but please don’t tell anyone. I need this job.

 

OTTO

Do you really?

 

JOY

Look – Bongo wanted another company all along. They’ve known their target for months. They only brought you in to force the other guys to lower their price. And it worked.

 

Joe steps back until he reaches the fence.

JOY (CONT’D)

It stinks, but it happens. I know it’s not my fault, but I’m sorry you guys were used. You seem to be really nice.

 

Joy glances at her watch.

JOY (CONT’D)

I have to go. Thanks again for all your work. Have a safe trip home.

 

Joy pivots and clicks away up the sidewalk. Joe presses his back against the fence. Otto faces away from him.

OTTO

So that’s it. We’re done here. Now we can go on out to –

 

JOE

No. We can’t.

 

OTTO

Joe, we have to see the writing on the wall and move on.

 

JOE

Move on?

 

OTTO

Yes, we’ve got to. You know there’s nothing more we can do –

 

JOE

OK!

 

OTTO

Really, Joe. There’s no way we could’ve seen this coming.

 

JOE

No?

 

OTTO

Well, maybe I had a feeling that –

 

JOE

A feeling?

 

OTTO

A gut feeling, a hunch. I just wasn’t sure this was meant to be.

 

JOE

Why didn’t you say something?

 

OTTO

Oh I don’t know. I guess – since Gabriel liked Bongo, and saw its potential – if Gabriel thought –

 

JOE

Gabriel thought!

 

OTTO

If Gabriel thought he’d win here, maybe you and I could too, for him.

 

JOE

So we’re out here for Gabriel?

 

OTTO

Yes, I think so. What’s more –

 

JOE

Wait! Before you go and declare us martyrs to his cause, let’s review what Gabriel has done for us.

 

OTTO

Joe, really –

 

JOE

Because of the Big G., here we are today, snubbed by a company where he saw “potential.”

 

OTTO

Joe, please –

 

JOE

“Gabriel, the interpersonal genius!” If he was so damn good with people, how the hell didn’t he see that all this Bongo stuff was a sham?

 

OTTO

Probably five years ago it wasn’t!

 

JOE

Or maybe it was, and Gabe let his ambition get the best of him.

 

OTTO

That’s not fair!

 

JOE

I’ll bet he ignored a gut feeling just like yours.

 

OTTO

You can’t say –

 

JOE

Ignored all kinds of hunches and doubts.

 

OTTO

Joe, let’s go –

 

JOE

You know, I really should’ve come out here with him.

 

OTTO

What?

 

JOE

To keep him in check. He could’ve used my counsel and advice.

 

OTTO

You can’t be saying this.

 

JOE

Why not? I’m not a total idiot.

 

OTTO

That’s not what I meant –

 

JOE

And my judgment wasn’t clouded by Gabe’s ego.

 

OTTO

You are so far off base –

 

JOE

You know I should have been here.

 

OTTO

No, I don’t!

 

JOE

I could have put off the closing and made the trip.

 

Otto grabs Joe by his upper arms.

OTTO

Get ahold of yourself! You’ve never been so wrong in all your life!

 

JOE

Let me go! Get away. Nothing you say or do can change this!

 

OTTO

You’re out of control.

 

JOE

I said back off! Your constant defense of Gabriel gets old.

 

OTTO

I’m not defending Gabriel, or attacking him –

 

JOE

Then don’t attack me. I am not out of control. I am just stating a fact that should be screamingly obvious to anyone with half a brain. Gabriel was out here on a wild goose chase, and I could’ve helped him if I’d come.

 

OTTO

Joe, stop –

 

JOE

I should have been on that trip!

 

Joe begins to stagger and sink.

JOE (CONT’D)

Can’t you see, goddammit, I should have been here with him.

 

Joe collapses. Otto rushes forward and catches his shoulders in time to break his fall. Joe’s body shudders.

A passing businesswoman and a male bicycle messenger stop to help. Otto is frantic. The businesswoman calls 911.

Additional pairs of hands appear, adjusting Joe’s clothes, checking his pulse, and preparing to move him onto a stretcher.

Paramedics CALL TO EACH OTHER as they check Joe’s vital signs.

An ambulance leaves, SIREN BLARING, with Otto and Joe inside.

 

INT. WINDOWS ON THE WORLD RESTAURANT – 8:55 AM, 11 SEPTEMBER 2001

Sound: Paramedics’ VOICES and SIRENS from the 2006 scene are replaced by SHOUTS recorded on 9/11.

 

Gabriel’s face is covered with sweat and soot. His eyes are reddened by exposure to smoke. He moves in a crowd of people, all of whom are out of focus. Gabriel looks terrified.

Smoke hangs in the air. A red-gray glow sits over Gabriel’s left shoulder.

Gabriel takes three or four steps forward, moving rapidly and yet stumbling over and around other fleeing figures.

He snaps his head to the left to look behind him.

He sees a confusion of fire, smoke, and people.

Gabriel stands in grayish half-light with his back to what appear to be World Trade Center windows. He labors to breathe. An out-of-focus crowd surrounds him on all sides.

Light from what might be distant flames flickers on Gabriel’s face. Tendrils of smoke waft around his shoulders.

A LOUD CRASH OF GLASS sounds. The light over Gabriel’s shoulder brightens as the glass shatters.

Gabriel, his hands shaking, reaches to the clip on his belt and, with some effort, detaches his cell phone. He presses two buttons to speed-dial his wife.

When his wife Lucy answers, Gabriel freezes, unable to speak.

LUCY (O.S.)

Hello…Hello? Gabe? Is that you?

(yelling)

Gabriel, you hit the speed-dial again. You know this won’t happen if you lock the keypad. Come on. Pick up. You know Monday’s my late night and now that you’ve awakened me –

 

A second CRASH OF GLASS sounds. A WOMAN SCREAMS.

Gabriel jerks back into the present.

GABRIEL

Lucy! Oh, God in heaven, Lucy. Please don’t hang up, and you don’t have to yell, or maybe you should, I can’t hear you too well. There’s all this noise, and a roar. Oh, God, Lucy, this roar, it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard, or ever hoped to hear, like a growl of…Oh, Jesus, Lucy, please don’t hang up.

 

LUCY (O.S.)

I’m here, Gabriel. I’m awake, and I’m on the line. What in the world…I mean, you sound like – what in the heck is happening to you?

 

GABRIEL

I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know exactly. There’s fire. And smoke, and heat, and a stench. And, dear God, it’s spreading so fast –

 

Lucy’s response sounds like a shriek of shock and confusion.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

I don’t know, I don’t know. The whole building shook, it swayed, it felt like it was gonna tip over, and then the flames – they just shot everywhere; and all I saw was stuff falling, and rocking, and burning, and everyone trying, trying to run when – Oh God, how can anyone run when you can’t even stand up?

 

Lucy sounds calmer. She speaks for several seconds.

The flickering light on Gabriel’s face brightens. The smoke in the air becomes thicker.

Gabriel steps back, closer to the window. He calms himself.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

Lucy – Lucy, listen. This is bad. Something’s happened, an explosion or something. And there’s a fire. We’re at the windows to get more air, but there’s not much, and I think the fire’s getting closer…Well the elevators, the stairs, that’s where the fire is, so we can’t get out that way. I see waiters, and cooks, and – they all know this place. If there were a way out, they’d take it.

 

A third CRASH OF GLASS sounds.

A MAN’S VOICE

Oh, dear God!

 

Lucy’s voice registers alarm. Gabriel calms down further.

GABRIEL

Lucy, listen. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It looks really bad. Look, please know that I love you from the bottom of my heart. I always have, and I always will.

 

Lucy’s voice is pleading.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

Listen, you take good care of yourself. Be happy. Enjoy your life. Have fun whenever you can; and always know that I love you.

 

LUCY (O.S.)

Gabe, wait, please! What are you saying? Oh, my God – Gabriel, I love you too. Please –

 

The telephone connection breaks.

GABRIEL

Lucy?…Lucy!

 

Gabriel lifts the phone to look at its screen and then drops his hand to his side.

A fourth CRASH OF GLASS sounds. The background ROAR from the fires becomes louder. The din of VOICES rises in pitch.

Gabriel backs up another few inches and turns to press his right side against the wall of windows.

Gabriel looks over his left shoulder, toward the fires, for a few seconds and then stares hard over his right shoulder.

Behind Gabriel to his right is a wall of windows.

Sound: Rescuers’, reporters’, and passers’-by VOICES recorded on 9/11. Over the din of VOICES appears the eerie CHORUS OF “TWEETS” of firefighters’ alarm whistles on 9/11.

 

Please click here to read Part 11.

 

 

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