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       Remembrance Photo: The Screenplay, p.1

           Michael Hoffman
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Remembrance Photo: The Screenplay
REMEMBRANCE PHOTO:

  The Screenplay

  By Michael R. Hoffman

  Copyright 2007 Michael R. Hoffman

  #############

  FADE IN

  EXT. BOOKSTORE, WEST HOLLYWOOD - DAY

  A line of ANXIOUS CUSTOMERS winds its way along the sidewalk and into the store's front entrance.

  A sign in the window:

  FRIDAY FEBRUARY 9

  1 P.M - 3 P.M.

  ATTORNEY AND AUTHOR

  RICHARD HAGGERTY

  SIGNING COPIES OF HIS NEW BOOK

  "BLOOD EVIDENCE: THE PORTLAND SERIAL KILLER"

  INSIDE THE BOOKSTORE

  The line terminates at a large folding table where author RICHARD HAGGERTY autographs another book. Richard is 37, rangy and athletic. Burned out from a long book tour, he's cordial to his fans but anxious to keep the line moving.

  FAN

  It's an honor to meet you. I'm a huge fan of your writing. Huge. Read all your books.

  RICHARD

  Thank you.

  Richard scribbles in his signature, hands the book over.

  FAN

  The best was the first. You mind?

  The fan shoves a copy of "THE CRESCENT CITY MURDERS" under Richard's nose.

  RICHARD

  (forces)

  Of course not.

  He opens the book to the first page, autographs it above the epigraph. A passage from the bible. Deut. 24:16.

  FAN

  So, they're finally gonna fry the kid. Next Friday. Right?

  Richard's put off.

  RICHARD

  Lethal injection is the method of execution in Louisiana.

  Richard closes the book hard, pushes it to the front of the table. It almost drops off.

  FAN

  Oh, right. Anyway, I read somewhere that you're gonna be there. Right?

  INT. BOOKSTORE BATHROOM - DAY

  Richard splashes water on his face, stares into the mirror. Wishes the day was over.

  INT. BOOKSTORE - DAY

  Richard walks back toward his table. A YOUNG WOMAN, maybe 21 and scary pretty, stops him.

  YOUNG WOMAN

  Excuse me, Mr. Haggerty. I just wanted to tell you, I'm a huge fan.

  Richard puts out his hand. She gently squeezes it and smiles.

  YOUNG WOMAN

  Huge.

  INT. LUXURY SUITE, BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL - NIGHT

  Richard's naked on the edge of the bed, talking into his cell phone.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  I'm meeting with a producer in the morning and then I'm flying home after that.

  The woman from the bookstore steps out of the bathroom, lays down on the bed next to Richard. She's naked, too.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Of course I'll be home for your party. Maybe I got you something, maybe I didn't. OK, buddy. Be good tonight. Now put your aunt back on.

  The woman stretches for the nightstand, grabs Richard's wallet, finds a picture inside. An attractive woman and a young boy.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Alright, sis. I'll see you tomorrow.

  Richard hangs up. The woman presses up behind Richard, kisses the side of his neck, throws her arm over his shoulder, holds the wallet photo in front of his face.

  YOUNG WOMAN

  Who's this?

  RICHARD

  My wife... late wife. And my son.

  INT. HAGGERTY HOME, MARIN COUNTY- DAY

  STEVEN HAGGERTY, Richard's son, ten-years-old today, stands in the middle of a very large, Spanish-style living room decorated with bunches of multi-colored balloons and a banner overhead that reads:

  "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVEN!"

  He's surrounded by dozens of KIDS. Richard stands directly behind him, his hands covering Steven's eyes.

  BIRTHDAY CROWD

  (in unison)

  One... two... three. Happy Birthday!

  Richard removes his hands, revealing to Steven his cache of gifts including a prominently displayed shiny new bicycle. Steven bounds for the bike.

  STEVEN

  Oh, wow!

  RICHARD

  It's the one you wanted, right?

  Steven grabs the handle bars. One clean movement, he jumps aboard and he's gone.

  RICHARD

  Whoa, Steven! Not in the house!

  Steven pedals up to the front door, pulls it open and rides out.

  EXT. HAGGERTY HOME - LATER

  Richard sees off the party guests at the front door. MIA, Richard's sister, is with him. Steven's riding around the front drive.

  RICHARD

  Still on the bike.

  MIA

  Congratulations. You scored big with him today.

  RICHARD

  Thanks again for all your help with Steven, sis. And for agreeing to put him up while I'm out of town.

  Mia puts her arm around her brother.

  MIA

  Anytime.

  RICHARD

  (calling out)

  Steven!

  Steven pedals over, hops off, hugs his father.

  STEVEN

  I love my bike, Dad. Thanks.

  RICHARD

  Think about what you want to do in the city next weekend, OK?

  STEVEN

  Exploratorium!

  RICHARD

  Exploratorium it is.

  STEVEN

  Promise?

  RICHARD

  Promise.

  INT. AIRLINER - DAY

  Richard's asleep in First Class.

  PILOT (V.O.)

  Ladies and gentlemen, we're beginning our final approach into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport...

  A FLIGHT ATTENDANT taps Richard on the shoulder. Richard wakes, glances out the window.

  RICHARD'S POV

  The plane passes over the expansive swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin.

  INT. AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY

  The terminal's decked out floor to ceiling for Mardi Gras.

  ALBERT COLLIER, 56, waits at Richard's gate. Hair a little too black for his age, he's clearly enjoyed too much rich New Orleans food. He's wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt.

  ALBERT

  Richard! Over here!

  RICHARD

  Albert!

  ALBERT

  Welcome back. Let me take that.

  Albert grabs one of Richard's bags. They hoof it together through the terminal building.

  RICHARD

  How's the law school business?

  ALBERT

  Beats the DA's office. No elections, no deputies to coddle. Nobody's ass to kiss but mine. What more could I ask for?

  RICHARD

  Looks like no dress code, either.

  ALBERT

  Hey, it's Mardi Gras! Gotta let your hair down a little, counselor. What hotel you at?

  RICHARD

  The Dauphine.

  ALBERT

  Nice. Right in the Quarter. We have just enough time to get you checked in and then out to Tulane.

  INT. LECTURE HALL, TULANE UNIVERSITY - DAY

  The room's dark, packed with law students. All eyes on a large projection screen hanging in the front of the hall. Richard sits in the front row, scribbles notes on a legal pad. Albert's at a podium below the projection screen.

  ALBERT

  On August 1, 1999, at 4:10 p.m., New Orleans Emergency Services received the following call.

  ON THE SCREEN

  -- The emergency call, subtitled as the recording plays.

  EMERGENCY OPERATOR (V.O.)

  911. What is your emergency?

  -- In the background, a woman screams.

  LITTLE GIR
L (V.O.)

  (crying hysterically)

  He's hitting my mommy!

  EMERGENCY OPERATOR (V.O.)

  Calm down. Who's hitting your mommy?

  -- The screaming stops. Silence for a moment, then:

  LITTLE GIRL (V.O.)

  (muffled, unclear)

  Danny, no! Danny, no!

  -- Shuffling, screaming. A thud. Then silence.

  EMERGENCY OPERATOR (V.O.)

  Little girl? Little girl? Hello?

  AT THE PODIUM

  ALBERT

  That girl, of course, was Macy Broussard, daughter of then Mayor and now Governor, Edwin Broussard.

  ON THE SCREEN

  -- A photo of a smiling Macy and her parents at Macy's tenth birthday party.

  AT THE PODIUM

  ALBERT

  Those were the last words she ever spoke. The last thing she saw before she died was the bludgeon murder of her mother, Sophia.

  ON THE SCREEN

  -- A brutal crime scene photograph. The blood-soaked bodies of a woman and young girl sprawled on a bedroom floor.

  AT THE PODIUM

  ALBERT

  And this is the man who did it.

  ON THE SCREEN

  -- The mug shot of a teenage black kid.

  AT THE PODIUM

  ALBERT

  Danny Wells, son of the Broussards' housekeeper, Shirley Wells.

  ON THE SCREEN

  -- Shirley Wells on the steps of a courthouse. She's holding the hand of her eight-year-old daughter.

  AT THE PODIUM

  ALBERT

  And tonight, that young man is sitting in a holding cell at Angola State Penitentiary, six hours away from his execution.

  The projection screen goes black, the hall lights raised.

  ALBERT

  I think it's time to bring up the man who prosecuted the case. Let's welcome him back to New Orleans... Richard Haggerty!

  The students APPLAUD as Richard rises from his seat, replaces Albert at the podium.

  RICHARD

  Thank you, Albert. I think I'll just open things up for questions.

  LAW STUDENT

  Could you comment on Theron Wells and his impact on your prosecution?

  RICHARD

  Theron Wells is Danny Wells's father. He was arrested in the mid-eighties and charged in a series of rapes. The charges were eventually dropped. It had no effect on the prosecution.

  LAW STUDENT

  The charges were dropped because the Sheriff and D.A. tampered with the evidence. Isn't that correct?

  RICHARD

  They were accused of that. The issue was never really resolved. Albert, do you have a comment?

  LAW STUDENT

  (pressing)

  You wrote about it extensively in your book, sir. About how leaders in the black community accused the D.A. of prosecuting Danny Wells as payback for his father.

  STALEY (O.S.)

  I have a comment.

  DARRELL STALEY, 60, emerges from the back of the hall. He's razor thin with a tight crew cut. A bundle of angles. Richard's not happy to see him.

  RICHARD

  You all know Sheriff Staley.

  Staley takes the podium.

  STALEY

  I was a deputy at the time Theron Wells raped five women. I worked that investigation. Nobody tampered with any evidence.

  LAW STUDENT

  Then why did the judge drop the charges?

  STALEY

  Judge Bruce Anderson? "Turn 'em loose Bruce?" I think we all understand where his loyalties were placed.

  LAW STUDENT

  Are you accusing Judge Anderson of racism?

  STALEY

  Me? Oh, no. I'd never do that. But twenty-five years ago, things were a whole lot different. Now, of course, we all just...

  (smiles)

  get along.

  The students HISS as Staley steps away from the podium.

  RICHARD

  What are you doing here, Staley?

  STALEY

  I'm your ride.

  EXT./INT. PATROL CAR - DUSK

  The sun sets as the car speeds through the Louisiana countryside. Richard and Staley ride in back. The car passes a large billboard:

  "RE-ELECT EDWIN BROUSSARD

  GOVERNOR"

  The DRIVER's on the two-way radio.

  DRIVER

  We're about five minutes out.

  DISPATCHER (V.O.)

  (on radio)

  You're gonna hit some protesters up ahead. A hundred maybe. T.V., too.

  DRIVER

  Shit. See if you can get us in an alternate gate.

  STALEY

  We'll go through the front. Let 'em see us.

  (to Richard)

  It's an election year for me, too.

  Richard stares out the window.

  STALEY

  Distasteful.

  RICHARD

  What?

  STALEY

  Albert showing that crime scene photo like that. Blood everywhere. Dead mother. Little girl with her head bashed in. Unnecessary. Disrespectful to the victims.

  RICHARD

  Law students should see the dirty business they're getting into.

  STALEY

  Life's a dirty business. What's wrong, counselor? Execution got you bugged? Come on, this is a good thing. Victims' family gets to put it behind them. Everyone moves on. Good for us, too.

  RICHARD

  A young man's about to die. There's nothing good about that.

  STALEY

  (quietly)

  A little late for regrets. The Wells case got me elected Sheriff, Broussard Governor. Made you rich, got you the hell out of Louisiana.

  (leaning in)

  You always thought this state was a shit hole, didn't you?

  DRIVER

  Here they are, Sheriff.

  Outside, SATELLITE TRUCKS and PROTESTERS with picket signs line both sides of the road. Staley rolls down the window, sticks his head out.

  STALEY

  (calling out)

  Where's the welfare office?!

  (to Richard)

  Sure hope the cameras got that.

  The patrol car passes through the prison's front gate.

  INT. EXECUTION BUILDING - NIGHT

  Richard, Staley and the others file silently into the viewing chamber. A large black curtain bisects the room.

  STALEY

  What's the curtain for?

  PRISON GUARD

  Separate the condemned man's family from you all.

  The prison guard shuts the door, steps in front of the witnesses.

  He pulls back a curtain, reveals the execution chamber.

  INSIDE THE CHAMBER

  DANNY WELLS, now 28, lies strapped to a gurney, an I.V. connected to his arm. The EXECUTIONER waits next to the lethal injection machine. The WARDEN nods. The executioner presses the first button, administers the sedative.

  DANNY WELLS

  Mama? Where are you?

  SHIRLEY WELLS (O.S.)

  (sobbing)

  I'm here, son.

  DANNY WELLS

  I'm scared, mama.

  SHIRLEY WELLS (O.S.)

  Be brave. God is with you.

  The Warden picks up a telephone receiver, listens a moment.

  WARDEN

  Jesus Christ!

  He rips the I.V. tube from Wells's arm.

  WARDEN

  (to the guard, pointing to the witnesses)

  Get them out of here!

  EXT. EXECUTION BUILDING - NIGHT

  Richard and Staley wait by the patrol car. The guard approaches.

  PRISON GUARD

  There's been a stay of execution. The court's hearing it now.

  STALEY

  Goddamn.

  PRISON GUARD

  I've seen this before. They'll reject the appeal and we'll all be back here Monday night. Guaranteed.

  IN
T. HOTEL ROOM - DAY

  The curtains are shut. The room is dark. The PHONE rings. Richard, in bed, reaches for the receiver.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  (groggy)

  Hello?

  MIA (V.O.)

  (on phone)

  Richard?

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Yeah.

  MIA (V.O.)

  What are you doing there?

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Mia? What time is it?

  Richard grabs his watch from the nightstand. It's 10:30.

  MIA (V.O.)

  Looks like you missed your flight.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  No, no, I didn't miss it.

  MIA (V.O.)

  You're supposed to pick up Steven.

  Richard draws a deep breath.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Listen, Mia, I have to ask you a big favor. The execution's been postponed. I have to stay here until Monday. Can you keep Steven for a few more days?

  MIA (V.O.)

  Of course. It's just... Steven thinks you're picking him up.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Let me talk to him.

  STEVEN (V.O.)

  Dad?

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  I'm sorry, buddy. I'm not going to be back today. Next weekend, we'll go into the city. Anywhere you want. The Exploratorium.

  Silence.

  RICHARD

  Steven?

  MIA (V.O.)

  Richard? Don't worry. I'll talk to him. Just get done what you need to there and get home as soon as you can.

  RICHARD

  Thanks, Mia.

  Richard hangs up, climbs out of bed. He steps to the window, opens the curtain. The room's immediately awash in blinding sunlight. A beautiful, crisp February morning in the French Quarter. The PHONE again. Richard picks up.

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  Hello?

  ALBERT (V.O.)

  (on phone)

  It's Albert, Richard. What are you doing?

  RICHARD (ON PHONE)

  I just woke up.

  ALBERT (V.O.)

  How'd you like to get out of that hotel room this weekend? Beth and I are going up to the lake. We'd love to have you join us.

  RICHARD

  Thanks Al, but I think I'll kill some time here today. Get reacquainted with the Quarter.

  INT. CAFE, FRENCH QUARTER - DAY

  Richard sips coffee and chicory, reads a copy of the Times-Picayune.

  EXT. STREET, FRENCH QUARTER - DAY

  Richard exits the cafe. MUSIC in the distance, Dixieland, drifts through the air. It grows louder as Richard makes his way down a narrow street filled with rubbish from the previous night's Mardi Gras celebration. He turns a corner.

  EXT. CABILDO - DAY

  STREET MUSICIANS and TOURISTS fill the courtyard in front of the Cabildo (an historic building, now a museum). Richard joins the crowd, listens to the Dixieland jazz for a moment, then crosses the courtyard and enters Jackson Square.

  EXT. JACKSON SQUARE - DAY

  Richard exits the square by the Mississippi Riverbank. A STEAM WHISTLE blows from a large paddlewheel. Richard spots the Grey Line Tour terminal.

  EXT. GREY LINE TERMINAL - DAY

  Richard purchases a ticket.

  INT. TOUR BUS - DAY

  Richard boards, takes a seat in the last row. WILLIE WILLIAMS, 38, black, boards the bus, picks up a microphone, begins his routine. Like he's done a thousand times before.

  WILLIE

  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Willie Williams. I'll be your guide today. Your driver is David Boyce, but we all call him Drivin' Dave and you can, too.

  Willie surveys the busload of HUNGOVER TOURISTS, searching for a response. Nothing. He tries the next line.

  WILLIE

  We're going to spend the next few hours together exploring the beautiful and historic city of New Orleans, Louisiana. So sit back, sip a cocktail if you have one, and enjoy the tour.

  A few LAUGHS.

  WILLIE

  Who can tell me the name of the official cocktail of the French Quarter?

  TOURIST

  Hurricane!

  WILLIE

  That's right! And you know why it's called a hurricane? I'm gonna tell you! You drink one, you'll feel fine. You drink two, you'll be dancin' down Canal Street. You drink three, your head will start spinning like it's gonna spin right off, just like a hurricane in your brain!

  More LAUGHS. He's rolling now. DRIVIN' DAVE starts the engine.

  EXT. SUBURBAN STREET - DAY

  The bus pulls to a stop in front of a tiny, very old cemetary. The tourists pour out. Willie herds them together.

  WILLIE

  Alright folks, as we go along, keep in mind that I was born and raised in New Orleans. I'm currently working on my Master's in Louisiana History at Tulane. I rarely get a question I can't answer, so please don't hesitate to ask me anything.

  EXT. CEMETARY - DAY

  Willie leads the group onto the cemetary grounds. He stops in front of a large, decaying crypt. Richard stands in back.

  WILLIE

  New Orleans lies below sea level and so we cannot bury our dead. That's why all of our cemeteries consist entirely of these above ground crypts.

  Richard spots a very beautiful young BLACK WOMAN, 25 maybe, at a distance, wandering the grounds.

  WILLIE

  Now, by law, once a body is placed inside, the crypt must remain sealed for at least one year and one day. However, it doesn't take nearly that long for the body to turn to ash. In fact, during the summer, the temperature inside a crypt can get as hot as an oven and cremate an entire body within days.

  Richard's eyes follow the young woman. She looks directly at him for a moment before disappearing behind a crypt. Richard steps away from the tour group, starts after her.

  TOURIST

  (pointing)

  What's with the bell on top?

  WILLIE

  The reason for that is in case someone is accidentally interred while they're still alive. Now, I don't know if it's ever actually happened, but if it does, the unlucky soul who finds himself in such a predicament simply pulls the rope that runs from the bell into the crypt and rings it. And then pray someone's around to hear.

  Richard steps behind the crypt. The woman is gone.

  WILLIE

  Alright, y'all! Back on the bus!

  EXT. GREY LINE TERMINAL - DAY

  Willie stands at the bus door, hands out cards to the exiting tourists.

  WILLIE

  Thank you for coming. This is a customer survey form. If you had a good time, please fill it out and give it to the woman in the ticket booth. If you didn't, please fill it out and put it in that trash can over there.

  Richard steps off, takes the card from Willie, slips it into his coat pocket.

  EXT. CABILDO - LATE AFTERNOON

  Richard returns to the courtyard in front of the Cabildo. A few remaining tourists purchase CDs from the last street musicians as they pack up their instruments. Richard climbs the Cabildo's front steps.

  INT. CABILDO FOYER - LATE AFTERNOON

  Richard purchases a ticket, enters the nearly empty museum.

  DISPLAY ROOM

  Richard shuffles past a display entitled "Plagues of the Antebellum Era." He glances at the exhibits:

  -- a child's cast iron coffin;

  -- a newspaper ad for medicinal leeches.

  He stops dead in his tracks, his eyes transfixed on a large sepia-toned photograph:

  -- a young, frail white boy lies bare-chested under thick bedcovers. He stares out as if looking directly at Richard.

  CHAN (O.S.)

  Haunting, isn't it?

  Richard turns. CHAN moves in. The woman from the cemetery.

  CHAN

  Do you know what it is?

  RICHARD

  No.

 
; CHAN

  It's a remembrance photo. In the mid-1800's, thousands of people in this part of the country perished from disease. Cholera, small pox, yellow fever. When someone was about to die, especially a child, the family would commission a photograph. Something to remember them by.

  Chan stops next to the photo.

  CHAN

  When this was taken, he knew what was happening. Look into his eyes. Fear, sadness. Resignation.

  She runs the tips of her fingers over the boy's face.

  CHAN

  He knew... his fate.

  She looks into Richard's eyes.

  CHAN

  Can you imagine the pain of his parents? Losing their precious son like that?

  EXT. CABILDO - NIGHT

  Chan descends the front steps. Richard goes after her.

  RICHARD

  Excuse me. I think I saw you earlier today. I'm sorry, I'm Richard --

  CHAN

  -- Haggerty. I've seen you on TV.

  RICHARD

  And you?

  CHAN

  Call me Chan. You're here for that boy's execution.

  RICHARD

  He's not a boy anymore.

  A look shoots between them.

  CHAN

  Are you hungry?

  INT./EXT. CAFE - NIGHT

  Richard pays the bill. He and Chan exit the cafe.

  CHAN

  I live around the corner. Two blocks.

  They press their way down the street through the swelling Mardi Gras CROWD.

  EXT. CHAN'S APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT

  Chan and Richard enter a tiny, moonlit courtyard through a wrought iron gate.

  RICHARD

  It's pitch black in here.

  CHAN

  New Orleans is a dark city.

  INT. LIVING ROOM, CHAN'S A
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