Like I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’m converting my “Not For Long” story back into a screen play. I just finished fixing the format. Currently it sits at about 30-31 pages. Check out what I have so far:
(Note: The formatting is going to mess up in the paste)
INT. PRESS CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
The COMMISSIONER of the American Football Federation stands in front of a podium about to address a rowdy group of press members. Lights beam off of his face and the sound of camera shutters fill the pauses of the room.
Today I have some deeply unsettling news for fans of professional football.
A bead of sweat runs down his neck on to his light blue collar. His fingers trembled and he becomes visibly nauseous. He strains for each of the following words.
Because of Congress’ historic mandates in the recent class action chronic traumatic encephalopathy lawsuit, brought about by former players of our league, we no longer possess the ability to provide a safe working environment for the athletes that play our sport.
The commissioner pauses for a moment and looks into the crowd, the sound of cameras becomes louder and reporters begin to shout increasingly inaudible questions.
These new, federally mandated, laws require a level of protection inside of a helmet that will not be available anywhere in the near future, if ever.
The commissioner sighs and continues to struggle with each of the following words on his page.
Due to these implementations, effective immediately, all football-related
activities on the league schedule have been canceled. I have no further comment on this story. God bless the sport of football.
The room erupts in noise. The COMISSIONER, with visible remorse, walks away from the podium and out of the room. An assistant takes over, climbing up to the center of the stage, and attempts to manage the now frenzied press core, now screaming questions.
Eight Years Later
INT. PRISON CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
The double doors to the conference room click behind TREVOR and his assistant, EMILY, pokes her head through the window inconspicuously. The room is a modernly decorated cement conference center. A breeze runs through the room, almost strong enough to distract TREVOR from JAMES sitting at the table in the center of the room.
As TREVOR approaches the table, JAMES dark eyes attach to him with more intensity. JAMES’ body dwarfs the chains attached to his legs.
Hi James, I’m Trevor. The reporter.
TREVOR reaches out his hand but JAMES doesn’t budge. TREVOR stands for a moment more but eventually pulls out the chair from his side of the table. He sets his briefcase down beside him and orders his things.
(Ordering his things)
You know, it took me months to set this up.
TREVOR remains silent, observes JAMES. JAMES notices TREVOR watching his movements.
I begged the District Attorney for just the shot to talk to you. For a while he stopped taking my calls, so I had to wait by her car every day she got out of work. There were the bribes to congressmen, which was fun. But the thing that got me in here…
TREVOR pauses, laughs.
I showed up at the warden’s daughter’s dance recital. After explaining to his wife my eighth bullet point regarding why I should to you, he finally caved.
You know why I’m here, right?
James shifts in his seat once more.
I do. He wants to talk about what landed me in this cell. How everything fell apart.
The clicking of the clock on the wall catches JAMES’ attention.
How I spend the days watching the time waste away. He wanted to know about them. He wanted to know about the helmet.
Trevor could feel the apprehension growing within James.
I’m sure they’ve told you what I can do for your case.
I believe in your story.
A shrinking pause overtakes the room. The silence seems suffocating. It recedes to a point in which James could no longer take it.
Does it matter?
Trevor’s eyes widen once James finally speaks.
Will the league reform? Will the perception of football players change? Will…”
I believe it does. I believe your story, your discovery, can change everything.
James stopped. He was intrigued.
How could he know? I was brandished by the media, ridiculed in trial, and laughed out of the room by every last credible friend I had. No one wanted to be associated with me. Not after that. This guy is my last shot
What would you like to know?
Trevor leaned in. He clutched his pen and pulled his notepad closer.
I want to know it all. From start to finish.
James pauses and takes a breath. He looked at the bars on the windows and the chain around his arms. The cold metal chaffed his wrists. He wanted them off. James exhaled.
As James speaks, images of what he talks about appear.
The world died a little when they took football away from us. There were the countless rounds of
litigation regarding the decision but, without a helmet that would stop the concussions, the feds didn’t budge. People tried playing flag football in 7-on-7 leagues but it could never develop the same interest, the same intensity, the same passion we all once felt. Society mourned and lamented the sport everyway they could. Instead of traveling to Europe to see the vast ruins of forgotten societies, people began to make pilgrimages to old, decaying stadiums. The coliseum, in Rome, was said to hold between 50,000 and 80,000 men. With the death of football, every state in America had their own coliseum. 32 Professional teams and hundreds of collegiate stadiums became remnants of a not too distant past.
James stopped. His throat was dry and he realized that he was going to be there for a while.
Can I get a Pepsi? I haven’t had one in, well, a long time.
Anything. Is that all?
I’ll have my assistant bring it in.
Trevor picked up his phone, switched the settings, and messaged Emily, who was peering through the window of the special containment conference room.
Where did I leave off?
Images of what James speaks about display as he describes them.
But, eventually, most people forgot about it. The others turned to different, socially acceptable, sports. Soccer, golf – baseball got really big. Some people, though, some people took to the darker corners of cities and formed underground football leagues full of greed, corruption and every other malfeasance imaginable. The game became something it never was. Or, maybe, what it always was. Even the people who played to keep a grasp on the one thing they loved eventually drowned in the insanity going on around them. Law enforcement initially tried to dismantle the leagues, but they lost themselves amidst the money, guns, drugs and sex.
The conference room doors clicked, Emily raced in with the soda and promptly leaves.
James starts again.
My story – excuse me – our story is about many things. Some people will point to the drugs, sex, violence and manipulation and argue that everything that happens to us was well deserved. Others will look at the course of events and say the world was better off
had it not happened. What I hope they learn – What I hope you learn – is everything that could have happened. That’s the story I’ve never been able to tell. I could have reopened professional football.
Trevor’s eyes arose from his paper and widened, seemingly confirming everything he thought he knew prior to walking into the room.
James stopped, assuming there might be a question. But the two of them blankly stared at each other, sharing a dumbfounded silence of disbelief.
Where should I begin?
Trevor flipped to his notes.
Start with when you realized things were going downhill.
Two years earlier
EXT. INDUSTRIAL AREA – NIGHT
The dashboard clock shows 10:00 p.m. and James’ hands grip the steering wheel tightly. He pulls the car into a relative ghost town of a parking lot. Dust flies up from the wheels. The cars that were there were pushed close to the fence surrounding the perimeter of a in the distance abandoned factory.
James jumps out of the car. And sprints towards the fence.
Just like back in D-1
James searches for the right hole and slides through. He looked down at his watch.
Damn. They’ve started.
James runs through the dark recesses of the lot towards the building. A lone spotlight marked the entrance for employees.
We called where we played “The Grind House” because it was in the middle of an old industrial district. The last business moved out two years ago and no one came around much anymore. Except at night.
James got to the employee entrance at the back of the building. He flashed his badge to the two mammoth security guards standing outside of the door.
INT. GRINDHOUSE ENTRANCE SECURITY CHECKPOINT – NIGHT
James walked into a hallway with military grade security precautions. Armed guards lined the walls. Once he reached the end, James placed his hand on a biometric scanner and entered the next room.
INT. GRINDHOUSE QUAD – NIGHT
After passing through security James entered the quad. Staff offices were positioned to his left and right, with another set of scanners. Directly in front of James stood the field gate, where players enter and exit the playing field.
James walked over to a monitor showing an in-house feed of the game. They were in the middle of the third quarter.
Later than I thought. I’ll go in the back way. I hat entering from the gate. It was on display. And everyone does not need to know I am late. Especially those in charge.
James stood in front of the retinal canner to the right of the quad. Once he cleared the security he ran into the offices.
INT. GRINDHOUSE OFFICES – NIGHT
James ran through the offices. At the end of the open hallway there was a staff elevator to the crowd level.
Some might think of the security measures to be excessive, but they didn’t want just anyone to be able to come in this way. Even though deals were cut with local police agencies and state personnel, the feds still wanted to crack down on the underground leagues. They had to after the rulings. But, three years into the illegal leagues, why hadn’t they yet?
James reached the elevator, slammed the buttons and got inside.
INT. GRINDHOUSE STADIUM – NIGHT
The elevator bell rang and the doors parted to an explosion of activity. Spotlights permeated from behind the bleachers, the music blared and people are yelling – most, drunkenly – and screaming at the action on (and off) the field. James hopped out of the elevator and bumped into a bald OLD MAN with less teeth than hair and a bottle in his hand.
I’m a veteran!
James held his laughter and stared at the man.
People keep demanding respect on what they have done and nobody cares what happens next. When did we stop working for what we wanted next?
As James turned the corner from behind the bleachers he could see the game was packed. But only about half the people in the storehouse were giving all of their attention to the game on the field. Some hovered by the cages of “cheerleaders” who made out with their squad as currency and blow was thrown at their feet. They were spread out throughout the makeshift stadium, much in the way video boards used to be. The girls grinded and twerked and made the onlookers crave for more. The game, to them, was an afterthought. Nobody cares if your team is losing if you get to see tits.
As James walked towards the sunken field he noticed the pushers were out in full force. With every turn of the head people used, sold, and resold anything that could be ingested. The real addicts lined the walls, strung out and barely functioning.
Remember how stadiums used to sell hot dogs and slices of pizza? The new world had makeshift stands with 40’s and dime bags of assorted narcotics. Where old venues used to sell hot dogs and slices of pizza, the new world People from all walks of life: doctors, cops, business professionals, and even select elected officials lined up with everyone else – there was no discrimination in the search of the high. Whether it was to see the game or put stuff in your veins, it didn’t matter. It was built, so they came. Maybe not everything had changed post fall. The hunger was there and we kept consuming.
James reaches the barrier and looks down to see the playing field. A big sign inscribed with “Grind House Ghosts” overlooks the field. James proceeds to the sideline.
When they decided to use an abandoned warehouse for an underground location they built a pit for the field, 90 feet below the surface. The top level, or the
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street level, featured the
concourse. It was the way the
public came in. Then there were multiple platforms that were used as stands, kind of like the way some old basketball stadiums used to be made, but on a much bigger scale. Some people called the field the ninth layer of hell as the platforms overlooked what went on. There were probably other ways that the stadium could have been built, other cities tried different plans and locations for games. Our team said it was made this way so they could pack in as many people as possible to watch the games. But what they didn’t tell people was that the field had a cover in the event the facility got raided by the good cops or even the feds. Each level could seal itself off, with a retractable floor, at the press of a button. In the case of a raid people would be escorted out of the team entrance. Every precaution to hide what this was had been taken.
James reaches field level and looks to the players on the field.
Making the descent to the field always comes with a pit in my stomach. Fifty of what used to be the greatest athletes in the world were reduced to playing in a converted warehouse on poorly installed turf built by profits from drug money, extortion and prostitution. Every game was like watching the final scenes of a Greek tragedy. Old gladiators are forced to battle at the whims of a petty, unconcerned public.
RACHEL, James’ assistant, rushed over to meet him.
Where have you been?
There was traffic.
There never is traffic.
Well, tonight there was.
James looked around the trainer’s area on the sideline. No players were up on tables or getting any sort of treatment.
Have there been any injuries tonight?
“No, but their guys have been dropping like flies. I think they’ve lost like ten dudes. Aren’t you supposed to be here for kickoff? You are the head trainer, James.”]
I told you, there was traffic.
You were working on it, weren’t you?
James ignores her question and looked to the field.
The team brought me on as a trainer shortly after I finished my Masters in Kinesiology. When the league fell I decided to stay in school and continue my education. I had been a wide
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receiver in the Big Ten and
probably would have went in the
fifth or sixth round had there been a draft to be drafted in. Like everyone, I was distraught when professional football died. But I figured if I went into athletic training I could stay around sports in general. Major baseball and soccer leagues offered me when I graduated, but when football came calling it was hard to ignore.
Rachel nudged James’ shoulder and pointed to the scoreboard.
Your brother is lighting it up tonight.
James watched his brother on the field.
My brother, Mike, is the quarterback for the Ghosts. He was the main draw in coming here for me. I know I probably could a job at a legitimate place, but I wanted to watch him. We played together in college. He was a star on our team. Really, he was the star on our team. He got the national covers, he got the awards, and he was projected to go number one overall had the league not crumbled – well, that’s until the week before our bowl game. Mike missed bed check. No one knew where he was. Eventually he was found in a vacant building across the street. With a needle in his arm and a girl passed out on his lap. He was suspended for our last game and entered into rehab by the school. But that didn’t matter.
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When his draft stock fell and the
league crumbled, the school
stopped caring about him. He hit the H hard and moved to Canada, searching for a league that didn’t have to follow U.S. regulations. But, when Canada caved, he eventually came back to the states and found the league. And, after a little while, he became a star in it.
Sitting on the 35, going out, the Ghosts hold a 14-point lead, beating the Scions from Second City 21-7. Second and Seven, they broke the huddle and came out in doubles from gun. Mike calls for the snap and they run a read play with the halfback. Mike pulls, weaves his way through defenders – the crowd screams more and more the further he progresses down the field, jumping over tacklers and diving into the end zone to get the score.
Ghosts 28-7. Mike leaps up from the tackle and starts to show off to the fans. He dances and points to the glass box, situated at the lip of the field level, overlooking the field. A figure appears from witin. The owner of the underground Ground House Ghosts, area drug queen-pen and girlfriend to Mike, Brianna Claymore
Flashbacks of Brianna appear as James talks.
Brianna Claymore is a true embodiment of everything that ever was wrong with the game. Pre and post fall. A Scottish immigrant, her father moved her to the states when she was a kid to escape some type of organized crime syndicate that was going to kill him and his family. When her family eventually got iced, the wealth of the family – which was substantial – went to Brianna. At the age of sixteen she was the richest, and wildest, teenager in the Midwest. With a penchant for science, and an
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interest in reviving the family
name in the states, she realized she had to create a way to sustain and income. So she, and her well-connected lackeys, developed a strain of designer drugs and flooded them into the underground market place. During the course of the next ten years her empire would become one of the most feared drug cartels that the United States would ever see. When the league fell she saw an opportunity. The public needed a new drug: football.
After celebrating with his teammates Mike rushes up to James and wraps him in a hug.
James! You’re late!
There was traffic!
Before James could finish Mike was already flirting with women in the crowd. Everyone’s attention directed towards Mike when he was on the sideline. Women threw their underwear, guys threw drugs, and all of that was amid screams of loving declarations. He was a rock star. He was king. He knew it.
Mike, she’s watching.
James pointed to the box. Brianna stalked the glass window with the lethal intent of a jungle cat. But he didn’t seem to care.
She likes to watch.
Mike maintained his focus on his fans. He ignored the coaches, clamoring for a moment of his time. His only concern was to appease his adoring, addicted, public.
At least care about the game…
Mike put his hand on James’ throat and pulls him closer and looks stares him in the face.
I always care about the game, Motherfucker. Don’t you fucking forget it.
Mike’s pupils grew wide. He was high.
On the field, the defense lined up against Second City’s offense. The Scions come out in a basic I-formation – tight-end to the defensive right and receivers split on either side of the numbers. The defense pressed the line of scrimmage, their aggression was their hallmark. The ball was snapped and the quarterback dropped back, faked to the running back and looked down the field. He was down and needed to take a chance, so he threw it to the right split end, streaking down the sideline. Ball in the air, the wide receiver’s eyes looked at the incoming target. Seeing this, the cornerback on that side turned around and plucked the ball out of the air and ran out of bounds.
James pushed Mike off of him and pointed to the field.
Go, you’re on offense.
Mike sprang away and smiled with all the jubilant ferocity of a kid touching the ball for the first time. He grabbed his helmet and made his way towards the coaches, almost skipping.
Even when his personal life was in decaying shambles, he did whatever he could to get back onto the field. The field let him be the person he knew he was, even if that person had long since passed him by off of it.
The scoreboard showed six minutes left in the fourth. James and Rachel started cleaning up the sideline.
It sucks cleaning up the field at the end of the game. It’s like being at the front of an arroyo when a hurricane starts. All the rain has to go somewhere. But in this case the rain are prostitutes, pimps, junkies, dealers, and a bunch of people who want to screw you any way they can. And they get as close as they can to the gate, wanting a piece of the players – or the people who could get them close to the lime light.
Cleaning the field went quick. James and Rachel watch the field. Three minutes left. The offense still has the ball and is grinding out the clock. Three yards, four yards. Second City wasn’t going to touch it again for the rest of the game and they knew it.
Rachel and James exit the field at one minute on the clock.
INT. GRINDHOUSE OFFICE AREA – NIGHT
Rachel and James walk the halls of the offices towards the entrance of the locker room. Rachel dips into an office as James enters the locker room.
INT. GRINDHOUSE LOCKER ROOM – NIGHT
James sets up his training table and describes the room.
I’ve been in many locker rooms in my life. High school, college. I’ve seen the good and the bad ones. This one didn’t deserve to even be called one. It was a room, or a couple of rooms with the walls removed, back in the secure area where I came in. Wires hung from the rafters, little penetrations of light pierced
through from the ceiling, and, if you didn’t turn the lights on before entering, you can hear mice scurry back towards their holes. For a place that had so much drug money running through it you’d think they’d clean the place up a little bit.
Yelling could be heard from down the hall. The game had finished. The players would be entering any second. James looked down at the cart to make sure everything was in place. Scissors, pills, needles and a bunch of little vials.
A de facto candy store for the needy masses. And I’m now open for business.
Within a moment the doors burst open. Groups of players made their way in, reeling from the high of the field, at a steady pace. The win made the team eligible for the playoffs – the Field of Eight, as it was called. A player checked of a box on a whiteboard to show it. Everyone was pretty happy about it.
The first of the players to render James’ services was JIMMY PATRICK. Flashbacks of Jimmy’s history appear as James describes them.
Jimmy was a Four-Year All-American Running Back at Stanford, graduated with a 3.96 G.P.A in communications, and led the AFF in rushing his rookie year – until the last game of the regular season when he blew out his ACL. He was one of the few guys to have a legitimate job outside of this hobby we all share. He worked for some consulting firm downtown. Somehow he managed to keep what he did here away from everyone in his professional life. Not a lot of people took to hire ex-players
when everything was said and done. By the way he was limping, it was obvious his knee was bugging him.
Hey James, got any of that Oxy left?
Jimmy hobbled over and pulled himself up on to one of the trainer’s tables. He began to take off his cleats.
James pulled a bottle from the collection and gave him a handful with a bottle of water.
How much did you run for tonight?
“65 on 14. One score. They had the box stacked a big portion of the night. We threw the ball more to…”
SAM ABBEY saunters over to where they were.
Me: The black truth. God’s chosen receiver. The man who catches everything except your girlfriend’s crabs. Sam Abbey dominated on that field tonight.
Sam took a pair of scissors off of the cart and he cut the tape wrapped on his ankles.
Sam was in the league for six years before the ruling. He was a top ten pick as a redshirt sophomore, never caught less than 1,200 yards in a season, and had his face plastered everywhere. He was on sports talk
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shows, entertainment television, and dominated every damn social media site out there – at one time he was deemed “The hands of the people.” That moment never passed in the eyes of Sam.
You only catch those balls because I do all the real work toting the rock, playboy.
Jimmy throws a ball of tape at Sam.
I’m the real G out there.
Bshh, whatever hop-along. Talk to me when the genius here makes you bionic.
Sam threw the scissors back on the table before heading back to his makeshift locker.
Is that possible?
James handed Jimmy an Icepack.
Not yet, dude.
The more people that came in the room, the louder it got. Music blared. From early nineties rap to the electronic synth. The sound set the scene for the sort of actions that regularly take place: Kyle Lennox, a safety known to most as Lennox, doing blow off of some strippers he took out of the crowd.
Every game new women lined up for him, hoping to get some of the
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party drug Obsidian that he synthesized regularly. It was this fine black powder that people snorted, or injected if they cooked it. He was the Club King. And he was also one of the people tightest with Mike.
Craig-David Vaughn hung out with a group of guys towards the back of the room.
CD served as petty muscle for the Downtown Gang – another one of Brianna’s many side ventures that everyone knew a little bit about. Rumor has it his body count recently crept into triple digits. On top of being a psychotic murderer, he also played linebacker.
The post-game festivities continue and the locker room grows rowdier. Amid the chaos the administration walked in. James describes them as they enter.
As the pre-post game festivities continued their usual course, some of the notables, the people closest to Brianna, made way into the locker room. They were the people that ran the team and turned the sport into an underground Caligula. First in was the PR Director. That was just a nickname though, no one knew much about him aside from the fact that if Brianna has a problem he takes care of it – every time. His eyes were always moving. Like a chameleon. To his right was Strap Toi, otherwise known as The Slut. She was the bosses’ confidant. Her best friend. Their relationship
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wasn’t sunshine and kisses though, The Slut was valuable to Brianna because she knew everything about everyone. And she found out things by fucking it out of people. The players didn’t mind, so long as they didn’t wake up with bugs on their dicks. There was an old rumor that she and Brianna used to fool around when Brianna first came to the states. People say when Brianna ended it Strap was heart-broken. She started fucking every dude she could to hide it. And the last person to enter was Peter Jacobson, called The Bishop by some. He ran finances for the team. Prior to this he was a one of a group of priests that were excommunicated back at the start of the century for questionable activities with parishioners. Of the group, he was the only one that didn’t see any jail time. He’s connected to some very powerful people. Many believe he is the strings that pull Brianna.
COACH walks to the center of the room and starts talking.
Alright everybody, settle down.
Alexander Dunn, normally called Coach, played in the AFF for seventeen seasons. He spent most of his career with one of the California teams, Santa Clara I think. He was the type of guy the concussion law was designed to protect. A former All-Pro Linebacker, it’s rumored he had somewhere around twelve concussions over the course of his career. No one cared though – he was getting paid and he was making
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tackles. He often drooled, stammered, and stumbled in and out of rooms. It’s a shocker he isn’t dead. He probably should be.
Tonight was a great win.
The room let out a quick cheer.
We don’t know, for sure, if we are in the Field of Eight yet, but we should learn by later tonight. We are going to need everyone for that! Now, what does that mean?
No one answered his rhetorical question.
(Walking around the room)
That means, don’t get your ass shot.
Coach pushed one of the newer players onto the ground.
Don’t get nicked.
Coach looked to the back wall and caught eyes with CD.
And don’t fucking OD.
Everyone looked back at LENNOX. He slapped the ass of one of the now relatively clothed women that was with him.
I can’t promise anything.
I’ll take it.
Coach began to survey the room again.
The next practice is on Tuesday. I expect everyone to make it. If you don’t then you’re not playing. I am not going to fuck around with that! Now get out of here.
The locker room started to disband.
Players tend not to linger around much when they get the go ahead to leave. Most want to get to the club, Down Marker, which was owned by the team. There were a couple of guys who would go hang out with their girlfriend or their wife, but most of them wanted to party. Most of them didn’t want the high to stop.
After a couple of minutes, only KENDRICK SPRINGS was left.
You alright Ken?
Kendrick looked up at James.
Kendrick Springs was more mountain than man. He was the strongest Nose Tackle I ever saw and he definitely played like it, regularly drawing triple teams. A 6’5” and 350 pounds, who wouldn’t try to triple team him?
Kendrick stood, adjusted his pants and walked over.
Do you have any more of that ointment?
You know the one, the stuff for the…
He motioned to his crotch.
Ah, the crotch rot.
“Yeah, mothafucker the crotch rot stuff.”
He took the ointment from James.
Little skinny mothafuckers always have to have jokes.
When Kendrick left, James packed up the cart and closed the training room.
INT. GRINDHOUSE OFFICES – NIGHT
Rachel met him as he walked out of the Locker Room. They proceeded to walk towards the quad.
Any new injuries?
Nothing, just the same old after game stuff: a couple of strains, some twists, migraines.
James and Rachel both tense at the word migranes.
(Slight worry, intrigue)
Did anyone exhibit any other symptoms?
No one outside of Coach, he got a little fired up in the post-game. Where were you by the way?
You know I don’t like being in there after the game. I slipped out just before they came in. I feel like everything is pointing at me when I’m in there.
We got to the end of the hallway and passed security. Barely anyone was around. The offices were a relative ghost town. Everyone clears out pretty quickly once the players leave. It was nothing like when the federation was still active. Back then people would still be in the offices and the stadium hours after the game was done. They’d be working on the last film, the next game, trying to figure out ways to reach out to the community. The only people that were there were the building’s security team. This situation just felt wrong, like a failed remnant of something reminiscent of the sport; a dark gluttonous entity that is never satisfied.
INT. GRINDHOUSE QUAD – NIGHT
Rachel and James walk towards the security checkpoint.
INT. GRINDHOUSE ENTRANCE SECURITY CHECKPOINT – NIGHT
Rachel and James nod to security and head outside.
EXT. INDUSTRIAL AREA –NIGHT
Rachel holds the door open for James. The chill of the air makes both of them shudder.
What are you doing tonight?
Nothing special, probably go home and take a bath. Wait for you to call with a breakthrough.
James purposefully ignores her question.
Hey, Mike wasn’t in the locker room.
James doesn’t answer right away. Rachel rolls her eyes.
He didn’t come in after the game?
No, I didn’t see him or hear him. He’s usually pretty loud.
James and Rachel slipped through the hole in the fence to the parking lot. Their cars are the only ones left.
Wait, I did see him. He passed by the substation with one of Brianna’s guards. I thought it was just for security purposes. Maybe he went up to her suite?
I guess that makes sense.
James opened the door to Rachel’s car and closed it as she got in. She rolled down the window.
(Plugging in phone)
Is he using again?
I don’t know.
James paused and flashed back to the field and Mike’s eyes.
He has to be. I mean, you can see it, right?
It’s pretty obvious. I thought he stopped.
A moment passes.
Alright, I gotta go. My bed’s calling me.
K, have a good night.
James stepped away from her car and watched her pull out of the parking lot. He turned and looked at his, overtaken by rust, needing engine work and air in the tires. It wasn’t going to last much longer. Opening the driver’s door, the rail guard popped out of place.
I fixed the over-priced piece of plastic, closed the car door and got the hell out of there.
INT. PRISON CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
Trevor put down his pen and took a sip of coffee. He didn’t want to interrupt James, especially since he just got into a rhythm, but felt like he had to ask.
Where was Mike?
James stopped talking, looked to the window and tried to recall the information.
Well, I wasn’t there. So I can’t give you a first-hand account. But I can tell you what I’ve pieced together by what other people have told me.
(Picking up pen)
Ok, but where was he?
James sipped his drink. Before he could utter the words a flash of memories crossed his eyes. Pictures of people raced through his mind in escalating speed until they crashed on a single picture of Mike standing before Brianna. Something that, at the time, didn’t make any sense and now seems even more confounding.
He was at the club
Trevor nodded his head.
Ok. Tell me what you know.
Eight years earlier
EXT. DOWN MARKER ENTRANCE – NIGHT
Mike looked up at the stars and took a blunt out of his pocket. He was waiting for someone. A couple of bouncers stood between him and the lined masses waiting to get inside of Down Marker. Hordes of women and men with various cameras tried to inconspicuously snap a shot of him as he lit up while they were waiting in line.
The weed relaxed him as he puffed on it. It soothed the aches that accumulate through time and third downs. He leaned against the building and looked back to the sky.
Emerging from the parking lot was Lennox and an entourage of barely clothed women along with a couple of homies he kept around to keep his ego stroked – and in one piece.
Man, we dominated those Second City cunts tonight.
Lennox preformed a slightly exaggerated handshake with Mike which ended with a hug.
Playoffs baby, playoffs!
The people in the line cheered. The two men parted and looked at each other for a moment.
You got it right? She won’t shut up about it.”
Hell yeah I got it! Tonight is the unveiling of my masterpiece. Fuck yeah I have it. The King always delivers, motherfucker. I’m like a pretty fucking mailman.
Lennox motioned to one of his boys carrying to extra-large duffle bags. He dropped a bag and opened the other so Mike could peak inside. A colorful menagerie of candy-looking drugs filled the inside.
“Yooo they look like Skittles.”
Lennox laughed, throwing his head back in an exaggerated manner.
I don’t know about that, homie. But they will make you feel the rainbow.
Lennox motioned to the guy carrying the bag to zipper it back up.
Should we go find your queen bae?
Mike took his phone out of his pocket and looked to the line of people that had grown longer and denser.
Yeah, it’s about to get packed in there. She’s going to want to unveil your latest creation.
Mike, Lennox, and the group of people head towards the entrance of the club. Mike and Lennox slap hands with the bouncers and everyone enters the building.
INT. DOWN MARKER – NIGHT