About The Author
Email & Postal
& Short Stories
Opinion & Analysis
- BLACK SCREEN
The credits are typed on the screen, accompanied by the sound of a manual typewriter and
muffled unintelligible conversation, footsteps, movements, as if heard through a wall.
INT. FBI HEADQUARTERS - DARKROOM - DAY
An image emerges in a tray of photo chemicals. It is a desert highway, barren and
borderless. A figure begins to resolve. A uniquely beautiful, glamorous young woman with a
slightly vulnerable edge, MADGE (19), is shown glancing over her shoulder at something off
AGENT RAMIEL, late thirties, Northern, arctic eyed and serious, pokes at the image with
tongs as it becomes clear. Then he pulls it out, washes it and hangs it on a line amongst
other photos that are not so pretty.
PICTURE ONE features a nude young woman floating face down in a motel pool.
PICTURE TWO shows an incinerator with a partly burned body lodged headfirst in it, only
the legs still intact.
PICTURE THREE is a side-angle shot of a taxi cab, the cabbie in the front seat, bullet
hole between the eyes.
PICTURE FOUR depicts a card table scattered with playing cards, poker chips, empty
bottles, cigarette butts and spent cartridges. Three bodies are seated around it, one
leaning back with a gory wound in the throat and chest, two others laying face down, the
backs of their heads gone.
PICTURE FIVE looks down on a burly Mexican man in boxing trunks laying dead on concrete
floor, his face a ruined pulp.
PICTURE SIX is of a once beautiful woman dressed as a starlet, her mouth a bloody mess and
her eyes torn out.
PICTURE SEVEN is close in on a man in Marine field dress, blown clean in half by a shotgun
on a motel-room floor. At the right corner of the photo a man and woman lay on the ground,
trussed, their heads not visible in the frame.
PICTURE EIGHT depicts a group of blurry crazy-eyed people hunkered over a partially
devoured body in a motel room.
He stares sympathetically at Madge's photo for a moment.
How did you end up in that place?
He turns his attention to the negatives, which he
places into an FBI envelope, labels and seals. With the envelope in his hand, he steps to
the door, opens it and exits.
INT. PRIVATE DETECTIVE OFFICE - DAY
Dreamlike - Ramiel finds himself in a medium sized office, dimly lit, shadowy, furnished
in a dark, oddly Gothic version of a nineteen forties Private Detective Office. Ramiel
looks around as if confused by his surroundings.
The photos he was just developing, as well as dozens of other sets, create a strange
chart-like collage on one wall. Cut out newspaper headlines about mob related activities,
slayings and arrests are pasted throughout the photos. There is an obsessive, convoluted
order to the arrangement.
Included in the arrangement is a photo that looks like the exact same pose as the previous
shot of Madge, except it's a different woman, EVE (30), tawny with alarmingly pale green
He notices the photo and a headline near it that reads: FBI Agent Found...
SFX male voices (Romeo and Slappy) in conversation outside.
Ramiel is distracted by the sound and turns away, moving to a window in the opposite wall.
He peeks through blinds out of the window.
EXT. BELLA VISTA MOTEL PARKING SPACE - AFTERNOON
ROMEO (20), a young, smooth, darkly handsome Italian man, and SLAPPY (18), a very Italian
looking, but not exactly handsome young man, load something heavy and awkward into the
trunk of a car.
It's not clear what's being said, but from their postures Romeo seems to be giving
instructions to Slappy.
INT. PRIVATE DETECTIVE OFFICE - DAY
Ramiel looks down at the FBI envelope in his hand and glances back at the darkroom door.
A sign on the door reads: DARKROOM. DO NOT ENTER.
There are two other doors, one that seems to lead out where the two men were, the other in
the opposite wall, solid and dark, gives no indication of what lies beyond it.
He stares at the dark door for a moment. He goes back to the DARKROOM door, opens it and