Bingtown

By R. Earle Harris
All rights reserved (c) 2015 (rearleharris@tuxfamily.org)


FADE IN:

EXT. BOEING 757 - NIGHT

Bing Crosby's Swinging on a Star is playing softly (through the credits and) as the jet approaches a large, nondescript (St. Louis) airport in the Midwest.

INT. BOEING 757 CABIN - NIGHT

The sleepy passengers of a darkened, red-eye flight are waking up and doing the seat-backs and tray-tables thing as the lights come on. Crosby is still singing.

INT. BOEING 757 AISLE - NIGHT

STEWARDESS moves down the aisle as Bing sings the last verse.

BING CROSBY (V.O.)
''And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo.
Every day you meet quite a few.
So you see it's all up to you.
You can be better than you are.
You could be swingin' on a star.''

Song ends as Stewardess reaches BOB who is still asleep in his aisle seat. Bob is a good-looking young guy, early-thirties, a Brad Pitt-Mark Wahlberg-type, in a slightly too-California business suit. Stewardess shakes him awake.

STEWARDESS
You'll need to put your seat all the way up, sir.

Bob is half-asleep.

BOB
Are we there?

STEWARDESS
Yes, sir. We're landing.

EXT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

Boeing 757 lands at the (now Cleveland) large, nondescript airport in the Midwest.

INT. JETWAY - NIGHT

Bob sleepily walks through the jetway with the other passengers.

INT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

Wee hours of the morning in the (now Indianapolis) airport. Terminal almost empty. Bob makes his way to baggage claim.

INT. BAGGAGE CLAIM - NIGHT

Bob stands with the few other passengers waiting for the luggage. Behind Bob is a shoeshine stand with an OLD BLACK MAN. Standing next to Bob is a MAN, looking like a Midwestern car salesman. Bob meets Man's eye.

BOB
(Friendly.)         
Morning.

Man looks at Bob as if Bob has just broken a local taboo and moves to the far corner of the carousel.

INT. BAGGAGE CLAIM - NIGHT

Bob is the last man at the carousel and still has no luggage. The carousel stops. Bob tries to make sense of things. He looks around, finally coming out of his sleepy daze.

BOB
This isn't New York!

OLD BLACK MAN
You got that right. This ain't no Big Apple. More like Big Cream of Wheat.

Bob puts on his best savvy-urbanite facade and walks away from the smiling Old Black Man.

INT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

Bob passes the security stations and heads for the main exit where he is quietly accosted by a Franciscan FRIAR soliciting for charity. The Friar, dressed in a traditional habit, is a spare, thin man in his fifties, with a dignified face and grey hair. Bob tries, weakly, to go around him. The Friar, crossing his hands upon his breast, gently intercepts him.

FRIAR
Sir, I am a poor brother of the Order--

BOB
I don't--

FRIAR
--of Saint Francis. And we poor monks--

BOB
I'm not--

FRIAR
--look to you for your loving gift--

BOB
I really can't--

FRIAR
--that will help us in our holy efforts.

Bob gives in.

BOB
Oh, I guess I can.

Bob hauls out his wallet to find it almost empty.

BOB (CONT'D)
What?

INT. BOB'S WALLET - NIGHT

Close-up of Bob's wallet. There are only four twenties and no credit cards.

INT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

Continuous. Bob notices his credit cards are gone.

BOB
My cards!

Friar is still as sweet as can be.

FRIAR
Is something the matter?

Friar makes a pious, heavenward gesture. Bob pulls his savvy self back together, pocketing his wallet.

BOB
No...and...heaven help you if you're looking for charity in this world. There's not enough to meet the big demands--

The Friar interrupts with a gesture at his humble habit.

BOB (CONT'D)
I know; plain clothes and vegetarian diet are no big deal. And it's a shame, because you wouldn't have to work hard to earn enough for that. And then you could use rest of the money you worked for to help old people and the poor and...and...poor kids.

The Friar seems chastised. Bob warms to the attack.

BOB (CONT'D)
That's right. If you'd come asking for real charity, I'd have...have opened my wallet to you. But as it is I think it's important to distinguish between those who really need help and those who just want to get by in life through laziness and ignorance, for the love of God.

The Friar blushes and walks away. Bob looks around, still trying to figure out what city he is in. Another Man is walking past him.

BOB
(To Man.)         
What city is this?

MAN
(Without stopping.)         
What?

Man continues out the main doors of the airport. Bob follows him out.

EXT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

Bob comes out onto the sidewalk in front of the (now St. Louis) airport. Bing is singing In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening over the airport speakers.

EXT. TAXI STAND - NIGHT

Continuous. Hardly anyone in sight. A couple of scruffy looking taxis wait nearby. Bob starts toward one of the taxis.

BOB
Hey! Do you know--?

The cabbie rolls his window up. Bob retreats, looks around again. He sees the Friar walking away and Bob looks like he's sorry he treated the monk so poorly. The taxis are gone. Standing with his hand on his wallet, Bob looks out across the parking lot at Hertz, then at Avis, then, out beyond those, at Pedro's Alquiler de Carros. Bob heads for Pedro's.

EXT. PEDRO'S - NIGHT

Bob walks in through the gate. There is a hard-looking, old PEDRO in a booth by the gate and a hard-looking CHICANA inside at the counter.

BOB
(Awkwardly.)         
I was going to rent a car.

The old man barely nods toward the office window.

PEDRO
Adentro.

BOB
What?

PEDRO
Allá. Over there.

He points at the Chicana inside. Bob nods broadly to show he understands.

INT. PEDRO'S - NIGHT

In the glare of too many fluorescents, Bob stands at the counter before the grim Chicana.

CHICANA
...and the Taurus, it will be seventy-five dollars a day.

INT. AIRPORT - NIGHT

Flashback to close-up of the four twenties in Bob's wallet.

INT. PEDRO'S - NIGHT

Chicana is waiting.

BOB
That's too much.

Chicana looks down her pretty nose at him. She looks at the monitor.

CHICANA
There's the LTD. It's older.

BOB
How much is that?

CHICANA
Eighty-five dollars a day.

Bob looks for a response to that. He ends up just shaking his head at her.

CHICANA
Está bien. Why don't you go take a look around? See if you can find something inexpensive enough for you. Okaaay?

EXT. PEDRO'S - NIGHT

Bing is still singing In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening , now through Pedro's speakers. Bob comes out of the office. Beyond the gate he sees the Friar speaking with a lovely, young MARIA who is dressed in black. They both stop and look at Bob. Bob gives them a self-conscious wave.

BOB
Morning.

Pedro comes out of the booth and looks at Bob suspiciously; Bob waves at Pedro.

BOB
Hi!

Pedro waves Bob away impatiently. Bob turns and walks among the cars in the little parking lot. They all look more or less the same--plain and ratty. Finally, he comes to a beat-up, two-tone Pinto in the back of the lot.

BOB
I can probably afford this.

Bob walks around the car and opens the driver's door.

INT. PINTO - NIGHT

Bob, in the driver's seat, closes the door. The floorboards are covered with trash and the ashtray is full.

BOB
You'd think they'd clean this out.

Bob rolls down the window and then looks out the windshield at the (now Kansas City) skyline. Bing is still at it.

BOB
Maybe this is New York.

INT. BMW 740 - DAY

Yesterday. L.A. Freeway. Bob is in the car with BOB'S DAD, a too-short, too-loud, too-pushy, Danny DeVito kind of man.

Title Over:
               Yesterday.

BOB
I've never been to New York.

Title Over:
               Bob's Dad.

BOB'S DAD
You've never been anywhere, son.

EXT. FREEWAY - DAY

The crowded L.A. Freeway.

INT. BMW 740 - DAY

Continuous. Bob's Dad is impatient with Bob.

BOB'S DAD
And not only have you never been to New York, son, you don't even know anyone in New York.

BOB
That's exactly why I'm going, Dad.

BOB'S DAD
What? Are you stupid?

BOB
I'm tired of working in Hollywood where I know everyone because I know you!

BOB'S DAD
And I'm supposed to be ashamed of having gotten my son a job? What's wrong with working for Columbia-Tristar (substitute company that produces this script)?

BOB
Because the only thing that matters out here is who you know. Do you think I could have gotten the job I have if you weren't my father?

BOB'S DAD
You could have been some other studio vice-president's son.

Bob doesn't respond.

BOB'S DAD (CONT'D)
You think it's any different in New York?

BOB
I'm going to New York.

They pass a freeway sign that shows they are heading for the airport.

BOB'S DAD
There are only three kinds of people that end up in New York, son: imbeciles, New Yorkers, and moribunds.

BOB
Moribunds?

BOB'S DAD
People too weak to leave. What did you do with all my money at UCLA, anyway?

BOB
I studied film.

BOB'S DAD
And Columbia Pictures doesn't make enough films for you?

BOB
I'm going to New York.

EXT. L.A. AIRPORT - DAY

The BMW pulls up in front of the passenger drop-off. Bob gets out, hauls out his suitcase.

BOB'S DAD (O.S.)
Bob!

INT. BMW 740 - DAY

Bob sticks his head back into the car. Bob's Dad pokes his finger at Bob.

BOB'S DAD
You'll never make it.

INT. PINTO - NIGHT

Back at Pedro's.

BOB
And I will make it to New York.

Screenplay truncated at 500 lines.