Claiming Lives

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Genre: crime thriller

Logline:

A crime thriller about a homicide inspector who suffers nightmares from when his teenage girlfriend was abducted, and now must face reality in a brutal cat and mouse game when the kidnapper reemerges with a vicious vendetta by leaving dead women as clues. When he manages to save a victim, his partner, and adolescent daughter, become targets, while he’s inexplicably drawn into the overpowering orbit of the mysterious woman he saved.

Theme: Vengeance knows no bounds. Guilt is a cruel master

**********






FADE IN:

EXT.  SAN FRANCISCO – SOMA STREET – NIGHT

Adolescent couple (13, 15), dressed fashionably grunge, lean against grimy wall mid-block, making out.  Fog makes colorful haze of CROWD gathered in front of nightclub at end of street.

KATH

(lips pressed to boy’s)

I thought you knew somebody, Jake.

JAKE

I know lots of somebodys, Kath.

KATH

Then, why’re we out here in the fog makin‘ out instead of inside with the music and pot smoke, makin‘ out?

JAKE

How was I supposed to know all my somebodys got the same night off.

KATH

I’m so sure…

JAKE

Look, girl, it’s all just to win your heart.

KATH

As long as my pussy’s attached, right, lover?

JAKE

Natch.

Their heads turn to sharp TAPPING on sidewalk.  A MAN in antique suit and hat strides by, his cane clicking in sync with his gait.  Backlit, his face is obscured, setting Gothic tone.

They watch him pass, then smile wickedly at each other.  Kath taps Jake’s lips with index finger that sports a beautiful custom-made ring.

KATH

(whispers)

Let’s do it, lover.

The man turns down alley.  They follow the clicking cane in.  Catching up, Jake pulls a switchblade from his leather jacket.

JAKE

Hey mister, ya feel like making a donation to abandoned youth?

The man stops short, causing Jake to stop and Kath to run into him. The man turns slowly.  Light from a single bulb up high cuts across his face, showing only his grim smile.

Jake grimaces, raises his knife into the light.

JAKE (CONT’D)

Better dig deep, mister, we’ve a lot of hungry mouths to feed.

GRIM MAN

My, but this is a surprise.

KATH

(laughs)

It usually is.

GRIM MAN

First time the tables have been turned, so to speak.

The man pulls off his hat as he bows, then replaces it as he comes up, keeping his face in shadow.

GRIM MAN (CONT’D)

Happy to make your acquaintance.

Jake prods air with his knife.

JAKE

What the fuck, mister!  Hand over your wallet before I nip you.

KATH

Better do it quick, mister, before my lover-boy scars ya.

The man’s smile evaporates.  Instantly, a silver flash leaves his cane and slashes across Jake’s forearm.

Jake screams, lurching back.  His knife skitters into the darkness, and Kath is knocked on her ass. Like a fencing master, the man skips two quick steps forward, lunging out, piercing Jake’s chest with the sword tip.

His forward foot comes to rest on Kath’s rib cage, pinning her to the ground.  She whimpers, reaching out to Jake, her hand with the ring all that he sees.

The man circles his sword tip in the air.

GRIM MAN

Go on boy, scat.  She’s mine, now.

In agonizing slowness, Kath’s terror-filled eyes come up to meet Jake’s.

 

INT.  SAN FRANCISCO – COURTHOUSE CELL BLOCK – DAY

JAKE SMITHSON’S eyes pop open from DREAM.  He’s now 30, wearing jeans and tee shirt, curled on his side facing a cinder block wall.  He rubs his forearm.

GUARD (O.S.)

Open up cell 12.

As door slides open, Jake rolls upright, rubs his face.

JAKE

(foreboding)

Is it that time?

GUARD

That’s right, now get your ass on up out of there.

Jake lumbers up.  He’s tall, well-built.  He grabs his brown leather bomber jacket off empty bunk, exits cell.  He shuffles slowly ahead of the guard.

GUARD (CONT’D)

I want to thank you for those Warriors tickets last night.

JAKE

Least I could do since you forewent the cavity search.

GUARD

Hey, we don’t do that shit in here!

JAKE

How’d your son like the game?

GUARD

Yeah, he liked it a lot.  He says thanks, too.

At guard station, Jake goes through exit door, guard enters booth. They face each other through glass bank-style window.

GUARD (CONT’D)

Do you think you can stay out of here for a few weeks, at least?

JAKE

(smiles)

Not making any promises.

Guard shakes head, slides manilla envelope through slot.  Jake dumps out wallet, keys, SFPD BADGE, and Glock 9mm.

GUARD

Inspector, you take care of yourself, Okay?

JAKE

Not as good as you take care of me, Franklin.

GUARD

(laughs)

Go on and get your punk ass out of here.  People’ll get the wrong idea.

Jake turns to see his partner, BRADLEY PIERCE (early 30s), arms crossed, scowling at him.  He looks like an ad from GQ, impeccably dressed in a tailor-made suit, hair fashionably short, clean-shaven, gleam in his eye.

BRADLEY

How many years have I been telling you that you have to be more Zen, to take the softer approach?

JAKE

Too many.

BRADLEY

Exactly, and you haven’t taken the hint.

Jake throws an arm over Bradley’s shoulders.  They couldn’t be more opposite in appearance, rough and tough vs highly refined.

JAKE

Likewise.  You’d think you would’ve stopped about four-and-a-half-years ago.

BRADLEY

Look, all I’m saying is you can’t question a judge’s heredity in his own courtroom, for Christ’s sake.  How many times do you think you can get away with this?

JAKE

(chuckles)

They love me down here.

 

EXT.  SAN FRANCISCO – MARKET STREET – DAY

1968 MUSTANG GT FASTBACK laces through moderate traffic.

 

INT.  MUSTANG – CONTINUOUS

POLICE RADIO under dash CHATTERS low.  Jake wears headphones, taps steering wheel to unheard beat. Bradley dozes.

BRADLEY

Let’s get some chow.

JAKE

What?

BRADLEY

I said, I’m hungry.  Let’s get some breakfast.

JAKE

Yeah, Okay.  I know a great burger joint near here.

BRADLEY

It’s 7 AM.

JAKE

Yeah, you’re right.  How about Mexican food?  We can cut over to that place in the Mission where the girls dress like torch song singers–

BRADLEY

Hold it!

Bradley turns up police radio.

POLICE RADIO

Multiple shots fired, 6th and Folsom.  Any car respond.

Bradley grabs mic.

BRADLEY

Hey, hang a left!  This is Inspector Pierce.  We’re a minute away, over.

POLICE RADIO

Acknowledged inspector, proceed with extreme caution.

(different voices cut in, singing)

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, what’cha gonna do when they come for you… Hey, make sure ya don’t kill em all before the rest of us get there.

Jake grabs mic from Bradley.

JAKE

That’s a big 10-no-can-do, because lord knows you piss ants can’t shoot any better than you can sing.

 

EXT.  SAN FRANCISCO – 6TH AND FOLSOM – DAY

Mustang comes down 6th, crosses Folsom, slows.

 

INT. MUSTANG – CONTINUOUS

The inspector’s eyeballs roam the street and buildings.  Jake grits his teeth as he glances down a passing alley.  Bradley leans out window.

BRADLEY

Don’t hear anything.  Swing back and go down the alley.

JAKE

(under breath)

Ah, shit.

Sweat breaks out on his forehead as he u-turns into alley.  He stares straight ahead, unconsciously rubbing his forearm.

BRADLEY

See anything?

Jake snaps out of reverie.

JAKE

No, ah, must’ve been a–

Suddenly, a BIG MAN (20’s) bolts from a doorway. He wears expensive clothes with no fashion sense.  Jake slams the brakes just as the man whips around with a gun aimed directly at him. The front bumper taps the man’s leg, misdirecting the shot.  He staggers back, aims again, pulls trigger.  He’s out of ammo.

The inspectors spring out as man leaps onto fire escape ladder.

JAKE (CONT’D)

(yells)

Take the inside route in case he comes down.

Jake follows man up ladder as Bradley enters basement door.

 

INT.  WAREHOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Bradley races through basement, up stairs, comes out on roof.

 

EXT. WAREHOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Gun out, he cautiously rounds the stairwell enclosure.  He stops, straightens up and rolls eyes in exasperation.

Jake is on tippy-toes, the big man behind him, firmly grasping Jake’s forehead, pulling his head back, exposing his throat to the business edge of a wicked-looking commando knife.

BRADLEY

Ya know, I’ve been wanting to do that for weeks, now, but you know how fantasies go.

BAD GUY

You stop right there or this guy’s gonna be a few pints short real quick.

BRADLEY

That’s what I’m talking about.  That’s a great fantasy.

Bradley holsters his gun as he moves slowly forward.

BAD GUY

What the fuck are you talking about?

JAKE

Yeah, what the fuck, man.  Just go for a walk or somethin‘ while me and him finish our dance.

BRADLEY

See what I mean?  He’s just a prissy little bitch.

Bradley steps closer.

BAD GUY

I’m warning you…

BRADLEY

Do you have to be such a chatterbox?  Go ahead and stick him already.  I can’t do it because I’m his partner.

Bradley steps within range.  Bad guy reflexively brings knife away from Jake’s throat to point at Bradley.

BAD GUY

Back up, motherfu

In that split second, Bradley does a spinning hooked back kick high over Jake’s shoulder, cracking his heel into bad guy’s head, staggering him away from Jake.

Reversing direction, Bradley’s foot hits bad guy on opposite side of his head, flipping him onto his back, out cold.

Jake jumps away clutching his neck, but sees there’s no blood.

JAKE

What the fuck was that?!  He coulda decapitated me!

BRADLEY

What a whiner.  The knife was a good three inches from a major artery.

The prone man comes to, pulls gun, groggily waving it in their general direction.

BAD MAN

Suck this, faggot!

BRADLEY

Jake!

Bradley leaps, presumably to shield Jake, but instead, goes behind him as gun fires two shots into Jake’s chest.  Jake falls backwards, pinning Bradley under him. Jake wheezes as bad man staggers over and shakily points gun at his head.

BAD MAN

Never bring chop socky to a gun fight, fucker.

Like a third arm, a hand with gun slides up from Jake’s armpit.

BRADLEY

(muffled)

Good advice.

Gun fires and bad man drops, surprise on his face.

BRADLEY (CONT’D)

(muffled and pained)

You can roll off me, now.

Jake rolls
sideways still coughing for breath.

JAKE

You’re supposed to jump in front of me to block the bullet, dipshit.

BRADLEY

(gulping air)

You’re the one wearing the vest.

JAKE

It’s always technicalities with you.

BRADLEY

I probably wouldn’t have shot the fucker if he hadn’t called me a faggot.  How’d he know I was a faggot, anyway?

JAKE

Ah, I might of let it slip.

 

 
 

end of sample CLAIMING LIVES

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