The Mechanist (Excerpt)
A stick of CHALK etches a wobbly line on concrete. We pull back to reveal…
EXT. RESIDENTIAL STREET – DAY
We are in the heart of a middle-class housing estate. Both sides of the street are lined with attached two-story homes each with a small garden in front.
Rambunctious boys play SOCCER in the middle of the street. Every now and then they have to stop their game to let a car pass by.
We zero in on a young girl as she finishes drawing a HOPSCOTCH grid on the sidewalk with chalk. This is BRIDGET McCANN, eight years old and as lively as any kid her age.
Next to Bridget is her father, early 40’s, clean cut and handsome. He works on his car, which is parked next to the sidewalk. A women emerges from a nearby house, carrying a CUP of TEA. This is Bridget’s mother, late 20’s and attractive.
She makes her over to the father, who pulls his head out of the engine when he sees her. He closes the hood and wipes his hands. She hands him the tea and they kiss. Even this brief interaction clearly demonstrates the affection they have one another.
They turn their attention to…
Bridget who has started to play her game of hopscotch. Her beaming parents watch her with pure joy in their eyes. This little girl is their world.
Bridget runs up to her mother and pulls her into the action. The mother happily hops through the squares, then grabs Bridget and wraps her in her loving arms. Bridget wiggles her way out and begins another round of hopscotch when…
She suddenly stops, lifts her hand to head and COLLAPSES. Her horrified parents rush to her aid. Bridget’s father frantically tries to revive her but to no avail…
He quickly scoops her up and places her in the backseat of the car, with the mother by her side. The father jumps in the drivers seat, starts the car and takes off. The kids, who are still playing soccer, scatter to let the car pass…
INT. DINGY APARTMENT – MORNING – PRESENT DAY – FIVE YEARS LATER
A set of eyes SNAP open. They’re cold and lifeless. We immediately identify the eyes as those of the father from the opening scene…
This is JOHN KINSELLA, late 40’s, early 50’s, but now a grizzled, weary look is draped over the once clean cut and handsome face.
The years that have past have replaced his happy, loving facade with a hardened shell, giving him an aura of man not to be fucked with.
John springs upright on an old mattress that lies on the floor. He’s sweating bullets. His eyes dart around the apartment, trying to regain his bearings…
The place is a five-star shithole. Damp spots cover the ceiling. Paint flakes off the walls. Next to his mattress are several stacks of books piled against the wall. A few pieces of shabby old furniture tie it all together.
INT. JOHN’S APARTMENT – KITCHEN – MORNING
John opens the stained REFRIGERATOR, removes a carton of orange juice and takes a swig. It’s empty! He tosses it in the garbage. He sticks his head in again hoping to find something to get him going but it’s no use…
John slams the refrigerator door shut and leaves…
EXT. STREET – BROOKLYN, NY – MORNING
Gentrification hasn’t hit this part of Brooklyn yet. Grimy looking BODEGAS, 99¢ STORES, CHECK CASHING SERVICES litter the street. A multi-ethnic group of pedestrians make their way to the closet SUBWAY STATION or BUS STOP.
John appears in the crowd, blending in, going with the flow of the traffic. He nears the end of the block, where a COFFEE CART is parked on the corner. As he passes, the Middle Eastern vendor inside spots him and calls out…
John, my friend! Come, come…
John stops and reluctantly goes over.
How are you, Mahmud?
Vedy good, vedy good! You like you usual?
(pats his pockets, embarrassed)
I’m little tight! I’ll see you next week.
And judging by John’s first few words, he’s got a hint of an accent only detectable to a well-honed ear.
John turns to go but Mahmud raises a hand.
Is okay, is okay! You pay later! I trust you. You good man.
John wants to stop him but thinks better of it. Mahmud begins making John his usual.
What you reading today?
John pulls out his book and holds it up… THE STRANGER by Albert Camus.
Ah, vedy good book. I used to make my students read! You like?
I can relate somewhat!
(re: his surroundings)
Ah yes, me too!
He hands John a brown paper bag.
I see you tomorrow?
John nods appreciatively.
INT. AUTO SHOP – MORNING
John arrives at a small auto shop in an industrial section of Brooklyn. A car sits up on one of the two lifts in the place. John goes to his toolbox, sets down his breakfast and begins changing into his overalls.
In the b.g., an older Afican-American man emerges from the back office with a clipboard in hand…
This is EARL WILLIAMS, 60’s and looks every part of it. He’s the owner of the shop. Earl approaches John.
John nods “morning.”
(re: the car on the rack)
How are we doing here?
Be done by lunchtime.
Damn… I know it’s only been a couple of months but you’re fastest mechanic I seen in thirty years in this business! Wish I had the work to keep up with you! Pop in and see Sharon before you get started, she has a question about a job last week.
Earl is ready to head back off into his office when…
Say Earl, are you gonna be able to pay me this week, the whole thing?
John is clearly uncomfortable asking the question. Earl hesitates.
Otherwise, I’m gonna have to find something else. I gotta eat!
I know, and I appreciate you working with me. I’ll get your money.
That’s good enough for John. Earl returns to his office. John finishes buttoning up his overalls as he walks off towards the front office…
INT. AUTO SHOP – FRONT OFFICE – CONTINUOUS
An African-American woman sits behind the counter busily sorting invoices…
This is SHARON WILLIAMS, mid-30’s, attractive but frazzled looking, giving her the impression of having lived through a lifetime of disappointment.
John enters. Sharon looks up and smiles, happy to see him.
Good morning, John!
John returns a friendly smile but avoids direct eye contact.
Sharon grabs a small bag of donuts.
Here, you want one?
He waves her off but Sharon insists.
Go on, I got too many and can’t eat them in front of Michelle, she can’t have any…
I think the guy at the donut place likes me, he always gives me a few extra. If I eat anymore than one it goes straight to my thighs.
John relents and takes one. Sharon smiles at her little conquest.
Earl said you wanted to see me?
Sharon glances down at her disorganized desk. She rifles though the myriad invoices that litter the desk, finds the correct one and hands it to John.
What does this mean? Lock replaced on boot?!
John glances at it.
Oh, I meant the trunk. That’s what we call it back home…
John quickly catches himself. Sharon smiles.
Really? So, where’s home?
Nowhere, this is home now. I should be getting to work.
John abruptly leaves. Sharon looks a little disappointed.
EXT. STREET – LATER THAT DAY
We’re in the ghetto. Abandoned buildings, dealers, junkies, whores and more all call this place home…
A shitty OLD MINIVAN with three black men inside is parked on the street, looking right at home…
INT. MINIVAN – CONTINUOUS
In the driver’s seat is ELVIS, 30’s, cool, confident and calculated. He’s decked out in designer HIP HOP gear. Subtle, nothing flashy.
The other two are TRE and BONES, tough looking, dressed more like GANGSTA’S. All three are staring at…
A DERELICT apartment building across the street. A skanky looking CRACK WHORE sits on the stoop while a few JUNKIE’S mill around the front, waiting for their next score.
This bitch be talking a whole lotta shit! Where this muthafucka be at?
Relax, yo, her word be good. He gonna be here…
A BLACK LINCOLN TOWNCAR pulls up in front of the derelict building…
A young Italian MOBSTER gets out. Expensive suit. Shirt open. GOLD CHAIN dangling from his neck. All attitude. He flashes a GUN tucked down the front of his pants at the junkies.
Then for good measure, he shoves one of junkie’s out of his way as he walks over to greet the crack whore on the stoop. She looks startled to see him. He signals for her to get up…
As she does, she throws a panicked look in Elvis’s direction, then they both enter the building…
What I tell ya? In a black Lincoln, just like she said!
Elvis gives Tre and Bones a nod. They hop out of the minivan, rush over to the Towncar. Tre and Bones both whip out SLIM JIM’S and begin to pop the doors.
One of the junkie’s hustles over, clearly recognizing Tre. But Tre is all business and shoves the junkie away. The junkie flips him off and returns to waiting for his next score.
They finally pop the doors open and hop in. They start the car and take off. Elvis follows in the minivan…
Moments later, another BLACK LINCOLN TOWNCAR pulls into the exact same spot…