Into the Arms of Angels, Part 11 of 14

Desk

Today, for your enjoyment – the eleventh installment of my feature-length screenplay,”Into the Arms of Angels” (© 2005, 2016).

For Part 10, please click here.

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

Each installment concludes with a link to its successor.

 

INT. A HOSPITAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT – MONDAY NIGHT – 2006

Sound: The “TWEETS” become the periodic BEEPS of ICU monitors.

Joe lies on his back in the bed in a single room in a large intensive care unit. His eyes are closed. Otto sits in a chair on Joe’s left, facing the bed.

Joe is attached to a BEEPING monitor that reads several vital signs and to an IV hung from a pole. The IV tube runs through a computerized flow controller.

For several seconds, Joe is unconscious, and Otto is silent.

Joe opens his eyes. He looks around the room, at the monitor screens, at Otto, and toward the door at the foot of his bed.

Joe studies the IV port in his right arm, lifts the arm, and gently puts it down. He then rolls his head to look at Otto.

OTTO

Hey.

 

JOE

We’re here.

 

OTTO

Yes.

 

JOE

So where is here?

 

OTTO

St. Vincent’s Hospital.

 

JOE

Oh. What happened?

 

OTTO

You don’t remember?

 

JOE

Not much.

 

OTTO

You had a seizure.

 

JOE

Really? Who’d a thunk that? Never had one of those before.

 

OTTO

Didn’t look too good for a few minutes there. You passed out, and you choked. You even stopped breathing for a bit.

 

JOE

Whoa. Geez. I owe somebody a thank-you.

 

OTTO

The doc says no harm’s done; you’re OK now. But they want to keep you here a couple of days to be sure.

 

JOE

OK.

 

OTTO

So you don’t remember?

 

JOE

No, I do. I remember the work we did, and what that Bongo girl said.

 

OTTO

Remember what-all you said?

 

JOE

Some of it.

 

OTTO

About Gabriel?

 

JOE

Yes…Sometimes I think I remember too much about Gabriel.

 

OTTO

That’s not possible, Joe.

 

JOE

You know, one of the last times I spoke to him, Gabe was mad.

 

OTTO

At you?

 

JOE

At me. I’d let him down.

 

OTTO

You never told me about that.

 

JOE

No? I guess it got lost.

 

OTTO

Was he mad when you dropped him at the airport?

 

JOE

No. No, not there. I walked him all the way to his gate. (Remember when we could do that?) I can still see his face. He was so jazzed to be going. Don’t know when I’d seen him so excited; though that might be hindsight speaking.

 

OVERHEAD PA (O.S.)

Code Blue, 325A. Code Blue 325A.

 

OTTO

Did you wish you were going too?

 

JOE

No, I didn’t.

 

OTTO

Was Gabriel mad about that?

 

JOE

Nah, he was cool. Said he’d miss seeing New York with me, but he understood.

 

OTTO

So what was the problem?

 

JOE

I’d said I’d help him prepare for the trip, which I did. His talk was fantastic – it was going to blow Bongo away. All he needed was some Q3 numbers that I said I’d bring him on a disk.

 

OTTO

And did you?

 

JOE

Yes.

 

OTTO

And?

 

Joe stays silent. After a while, Otto tries again.

OTTO (CONT’D)

Joe, I’m still not getting it.

 

JOE

I forgot.

 

OTTO

Forgot what?

 

JOE

To give it to him. Somehow, I don’t know how. It was just the darnedest thing. That last minute at the airport, giving Gabriel the disk just slipped clean out of my mind. OK?

 

OTTO

Right.

 

JOE

I have no idea how it happened.

 

OTTO

Hmmm.

 

JOE

So Gabe leaves. I can still see him walking to the plane; at the last second he turns and flashes that cocky grin of his. Ten minutes later I’m paying for parking, and I find the disk in my pocket. His plane is already gone. And I’m frantic. Actually I’ve been stressed all day, with a knot in my stomach. And finding the disk sends me into a sweat. I pull over and call his cell phone, and leave a message, apologizing all over. Then I offer to email him the files.

 

OTTO

Did you do that?

 

JOE

Yeah.

 

OTTO

But Gabriel was mad?

 

JOE

You know how he could be. He never did learn to suffer a fool.

 

OTTO

Too bad.

 

JOE

He didn’t stay mad. We spoke that night after he got in, and he was cooled down. Mostly.

 

OTTO

Joe, it’s not your fault he blew his stack over a simple mistake.

 

JOE

But I shouldn’t have made that mistake. I don’t do things like that.

 

OTTO

C’mon, Joe – It’s over.

 

JOE

If it were truly over he’d be back…

 

OTTO

I mean about the disk –

 

JOE

And those huge towers. I liked them. And the airplanes. And all those people.

 

Both men are silent for a few seconds.

JOE (CONT’D)

God, how I miss him, Otto!

 

OTTO

I know. I do too.

 

JOE

I really wish he’d called me that morning.

 

OTTO

Maybe he tried.

 

JOE

Yeah. Lucy said she called back again and again, and the lines were jammed. Then after a while, it was like someone had turned off his phone.

 

OTTO

I know.

 

JOE

They say there’s no way he could’ve gotten out, up as high as he was.

 

OTTO

Yes, I know.

 

JOE

D’you ever think about what Gabriel went through that morning?

 

OTTO

Sure. When I’m not working.

 

JOE

Sometimes I can’t stop myself. I can’t get it out of my mind. What scares me most, even now, is that when those fires were closing in, and they were running out of air – with nowhere else to go – Gabriel might’ve been one of the people who had to –

 

Joe begins to weep.

JOE (CONT’D)

Oh, Jesus. Why did all of those people have to jump?

 

Joe sobs. The monitor’s BEEP RATE increases.

Otto makes several gestures toward Joe, and then finally takes Joe’s left hand. Joe squeezes hard.

JOE (CONT’D)

God, how I miss him. Oh, God – Gabriel, I’m so sorry you had to die – so sorry you had to die like that.

 

A NURSE peers into the room. Seeing Joe, she becomes alarmed. Otto raises his hand to wave her away. The nurse pauses and then enters the room.

NURSE

Mr. Kleinschmidt, the doctor’s ordered you a sedative. You should be getting some sleep.

 

Joe releases Otto’s hand, wipes his face, takes the pill and a water cup from the nurse, swallows the pill, and thanks the nurse. He lies back and rolls onto his side away from Otto.

The nurse leaves the room.

JOE

Even now there are days when I wish I could go back and warn everyone, so the buildings would still be here, and no one would have to die.

 

Otto leans forward to watch Joe. His eyes fill with tears.

OTTO

Joe, I miss him too, you know. He was a good boy, and then a good man. He made me laugh. You both did. You boys were such a scream. I got a kick out of watching you, and then seeing you grow up. I know he meant a lot to you, like the best kind of a brother. Well, you and he both meant the world to me, and now only you are left. Please, Joe, it’s hard to see you hurting this way. I wish that I could just –

 

Otto reaches toward the bed, presses on it with his finger tips, and quickly pulls his hand back. He then stands and crosses the room with his hands in his pockets.

OTTO (CONT’D)

I guess I should go. They moved me to an early flight out tomorrow, 7 a.m. And what with airport security I need to get there even earlier.

 

Otto winces. Joe does not move. Otto tries again.

OTTO (CONT’D)

Before you woke up, when they were checking you out, I went and watched a little TV. Monday Night Football. In the lounge. The Pack was up by 5 in the third. Rodgers’s driving down the field. They’re doing OK, but the Metrodome’s so darn loud. Then right before I turn it off Rodgers launches this Hail Mary, way downfield, and it’s picked off. Driver had no chance, really – Vikings on both sides of him. Nothing he could do. Guy on his left just reached up his hand, and – well that was that.

 

Tears run down Otto’s cheeks. He wipes them and watches Joe’s immobile frame. He turns to leave.

JOE

That guy must think he’s Favre.

 

Otto freezes, listening.

JOE (CONT’D)

I mean, throwing deep, into double-coverage. What a dimwit.

 

Otto smiles. Joe rolls onto his back and looks at Otto.

JOE (CONT’D)

He’d better keep channeling Favre. He’ll need it for the 2-minute offense.

 

Otto chuckles and turns to leave.

JOE (CONT’D)

You’re leaving tomorrow?

 

OTTO

Yes. Early.

 

JOE

I’ll be home when I can. Right now I think I need to sleep.

Joe closes his eyes. Otto watches for a few more seconds. He then turns and leaves the room.

 

INT. THE NURSING STATION OUTSIDE JOE’S ROOM – MONDAY NIGHT

Otto stops outside Joe’s room, looks around, and walks to a nursing station, where a SECOND NURSE works on papers.

OTTO

Excuse me, ma’am. Oh, excuse me – yes, well may I ask you a question? Good, thanks. Uh, Joe Kleinschmidt, in the room there. I’m his uncle, see, and his, um, business partner, and I, um, well, I need to fly back home to Wisconsin, see, and I was wondering, if you knew, well, how long he’ll be in here for.

 

SECOND NURSE

Sir, I’m not at liberty to discuss the patient’s condition; but I can ask his doctor to call you. Are you listed as his emergency contact?

 

OTTO

No, that’s his wife, Chris, but that’ll be fine.  You see, I’m leaving tomorrow.  Joe was supposed to leave too, and I have to change his flight, and then tell Chris when he’ll be home.  I need to warn Chris what to expect, too.  In fact, I’ll suggest she call him herself.  That would be best.  Do you have calling hours here?  I mean, hours when a person can call someone who’s here?  No?  Good, then I’ll tell Chris to call whenever she feels ready and that anytime is OK, unless Joe’s with the doctor or one of you.  Would even then be OK?  Well, that’s good to know.  It’s nice you can be so accommodating.  Thank you.  Thanks for all you’re doing.  Joe’s my nephew, you see, my brother’s son, and he’s the company’s Vice President of Operations, at least he is for now.  In any case, we love him, and we hope he comes home soon.  He may seem a bit on edge today, because he’s been through a lot; but he’s a really good man.  I hope you get a chance to see that.

 

Otto begins to walk away but turns back to address the nurse.

OTTO (CONT’D)

You take care now, ma’am; and thanks a bunch.

 

Please click here to read Part 12.

 

 

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