The twelfth installment of my feature-length screenplay, ”Into the Arms of Angels” (© 2005, 2016) —
For Part 11, please click here.
For Part 1 and a glossary of screenwriting abbreviations, please click here.
Each installment concludes with a link to its successor.
N.B. The story recounted by the cab driver is true.
INT./EXT. ST. VINCENT’S HOSPITAL AND OTHER LOCATIONS – 2006
Joe asleep in the ICU bed.
Gabriel’s face in the smoky room, framed by broken windows.
Otto speaks energetically with a clerk at La Guardia airport.
A nurse makes notes on a portable computer as Joe is moved, on a bed, into a new room.
Otto walks through the main entrance of St. Mary’s Hospital.
A physician types on a portable computer as Joe lies on a bed in the background. The IV is still attached to Joe’s arm.
Otto and Chris meet in the St. Mary’s lobby. After a few stoic seconds, Chris collapses into Otto’s arms.
At the Madison airport on September 10th, Gabriel and Joe embrace. Gabriel then grabs Joe’s right arm and says something serious.
Chris, at home, places a call to the hospital in New York.
Lying in bed, Joe speaks on the phone, smiling nervously.
Chris speaks rapidly on the phone and gesticulates.
Joe holds the phone away from his ear and fidgets.
Chris holds the phone, not speaking, awaiting a response.
Joe also waits, fidgeting, and finally speaks.
Chris glances at her watch and quickly gets off the phone.
Joe signs off the call.
A phone is hung up by an unidentified hand.
Joe sits up in bed as a nurse removes IV tape from his arm.
Chris walks into the break room at St. Mary’s. Suzette sits at a table making notes. Suzette stops writing and looks up. Chris sits at the table. Suzette squeezes Chris’ hand.
Joe stands outside St. Vincent’s Hospital, hailing a cab.
INT. A CAB IN NEW YORK CITY – THURSDAY
Joe is in a taxi from the hospital to La Guardia Airport. The CABBIE is Italian and in his sixties.
You from out of town?
Where you from?
Wisconsin – I forget, was that a red state?
Almost. It’s blue, but it was the closest in the country.
Mmm. How about that. This your first trip to New York?
The first since September 11th.
That so? Some say the city’s recovered from 9/11 – that we’re moving on, and we’ve put that terrible episode in its place. I’m not so sure.
Joe does not respond.
My nephew Joey worked at Ground Zero. He’s in Local 40 – cutting steel – and he worked 163 days on the pile. He said in one stretch he did five days out of eight. That’s 24-hour shifts, five in eight days.
Those steel workers, they were heroes too. I mean, everyone knows about the firefighters and cops and EMTs, and the court officers, and all they risked that awful day and afterward; this is to take nothing away from them; but at least they’re trained to handle, you know, bodies and death, and remains. The steel workers, they face cranes and heights and beams and tons of risk every day that they work; but only in a blue moon do they ever have to see a dead body. Except at Ground Zero, where they’d grab up a load, and then wonder what in the heck was under a beam, and – oof! It got pretty hard sometimes.
The cabbie checks his mirror. Joe stares out the window.
Joey said he toughened a little; but it was horrible every time. He said what scared him really the most, what haunted him a lot, was the thought of all of those poor people who jumped.
Joe closes his eyes.
Every time Joey was about to fall asleep, he’d see people jumping from the North Tower. It was really bad, I mean, so that he couldn’t sleep, even when he was totally wiped out. So I told him, Joey, you should talk to someone. There’s no shame in that. Really – lots of guys, they’ve been through it, and some of the guys find it helpful to, you know, talk to someone. I told him, look, you need your sleep. If you work on the pile you need your wits about you. For the sake of all the other guys. For the sake of the people you’re trying to find. And for the sake of your family, you oughta see someone. So Joey agreed, yeah, he’d speak to somebody. In fact there were counselors at the site just to talk to guys like him…The next time I saw Joey, I asked him, how you feeling, and he stopped, and he grinned, and he said, really good. Better than he’d felt in months. And you know why? Because of something a counselor he saw said to him. When he told her he couldn’t sleep for the visions of falling bodies, she said, “Every time you see someone jumping from the tower, imagine an angel swooping out of the sky, catching the person, and gently carrying them back up to heaven.” That’s what she suggested, and that’s what he did. Every time he saw a jumper in his mind’s eye he also saw an angel there to catch them, and cradle them, and gracefully fly back up to heaven. Then Joey could sleep, and be happy again…or at least sane, you know.
The cabbie again checks his rear-view mirror. Joe is watching him. Joe nods and responds.
Yes, I can see that.
The cab arrives at La Guardia. The cabbie steps out and opens the trunk. Joe joins him at the back of the car.
Joe hands the cabbie a stack of bills and looks him in the eye.
Joe grabs his roller-bag. The cabbie smiles.
Have a safe trip home.
Will do. Thanks.
Joe glances back at the cabbie and then walks into the airport.
INT. A GIFT SHOP IN LA GUARDIA – THE SAME DAY (THURSDAY)
Fifteen feet from the entrance to a gift shop, Joe pauses and pulls his roller-bag to rest at his feet. He checks his watch, then walks into the shop.
Joe browses through magazines and regional knick-knacks.
Joe flicks the head of a Derek Jeter bobblehead doll.
Joe spots a small shelf in the corner on which sit 8 – 10 Twin Towers figurines. He maneuvers around several shelves and into the tight corner.
The metal figurines are arrayed in crooked rows. Each is about nine inches high.
Joe picks up a figurine, examines it, and decides to buy it.
Joe steps up to the cashier’s desk.
The cashier begins to ring up the sale. Joe looks at a display of impulse-buys, grabs an item, and hands it to the cashier.
The cashier rings up both items and quotes Joe a price.
Joe pulls out his wallet, pays with cash, takes his change, and drops a few coins into a cup next to the register.
The cashier hands Joe a small brown sack. He thanks the cashier, who is already helping the next customer, and leaves the store.
OVERHEAD PA ANNOUNCEMENT
…Advantage Gold and Platinum passengers for Flight 599 to Chicago may board now or at their leisure.
INT. ONBOARD A BOEING 757 AT O’HARE AIRPORT – THE SAME DAY
The main cabin seats six across. Joe sits at a window on the right.
A FLIGHT ATTENDANT in the forward galley picks up a microphone.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Chicago. Thank you for flying with us today. We understand that you have a choice when you travel, and we appreciate your including us in your travel plans. We wish you a very pleasant stay in Chicago or wherever your final destination may be. For now, please sit back and relax until we have come to a full and complete stop at the terminal and the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. For your reference, our arrival gate will be H, as in Hotel, 15.
Joe looks up from a magazine, glances out the window, and does a double-take.
He watches as the H concourse passes rapidly by. It is raining.
Joe returns to his magazine, grins, and shakes his head.