by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from True Romance, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino
The red Mustang with Stretch and Maggie O’Brien pulled up to the hotel. Maggie hopped out, and Stretch stayed in.
“You did it, quickdraw. I’m so proud of you,” Maggie said. “You were like a ninja. Did I do my part OK?”
“Baba Louey, you were perfect,” Stretch said. “I could hardly keep from busting up.”
“I felt so stupid just blowing those bubbles,” Maggie said.
“You were chillin’, kind of creepy, even. You totally messed with his head,” Stretch said. “I’m gonna go grab dinner.”
“I’m gonna hop in the tub. Then I’m gonna lie in the waterbed, not even bother to dry off, and wait ’til you get back to my lovin’ arms.” They kissed.
Stretch slammed the Mustang in reverse and peeled out of the hotel. Maggie walked her little walk from the parking lot to the pool area. Somebody whistled at her, and she turned to them. “Thank you.”
She got to her door, took out the key, and opened the door. When Maggie stepped inside, she stepped in, only to find Virgil sitting on a chair placed in front of the door with a sawed-off shotgun aimed right at her.
“Step inside and shut the door,” Virgil said calmly.
Maggie didn’t move. She was frozen. Virgil leaned forward. “Lady, I’m gonna shoot you in the face.”
This time, Maggie did exactly as he said. Virgil rose, still aiming the sawed-off shotgun. “Step away from the door. Move into the bathroom.”
Maggie obeyed. Virgil put the shotgun down on the chair, then stepped closer to her. “OK, Maggie, where’s our coke, where’s Stretch, and when’s he coming back?”
“I think you got the wrong room. My name is Sadie. I don’t have any Coke, but there’s a Pepsi machine downstairs. I don’t know any Stretch, but maybe my husband does. You might have heard of him; he plays football — Al Lylezado. He’ll be home any minute; you can ask him.”
Virgil couldn’t help but smile. “You’re cute.”
He then jumped up and did a midair kung-fu kick that caught Maggie square in the face, lifting her off the ground and dropping her flat on her back.
Maggie lay flat on her back. She actually blacked out for a moment, but the salty taste of the blood in her mouth woke her up. She opened her eyes and saw Virgil standing there smiling. She closed them, hoping it was a dream. They opened again to the same sight. She had never felt more helpless in her life.
“Hurts, don’t it?” Virgil asked. “It better. Took me a long time to kick like that. I’m third-degree blackbelt, you know? At home I got trophies. Tournaments I was in. Kicked all kinds of ass. I got great technique. You ain’t hurt that bad. Get on your feet, fruit loop.”
Maggie wobbily complied. Anything to keep him from hitting her again.
“Where’s our coke? Where’s Stretch? And when’s he comin’ back?”
Maggie looked in Virgil’s eyes and knew without a doubt she was going to die, because this man was going to kill her. “Go take a flying %^&$ and a rolling doughnut,” she spat.
Virgil gave her a side kick straight to the stomach. The air was sucked out of her lungs. She fell to her knees. She was on all fours gasping for air that was just not there. Virgil whipped out a pack of Lucky Strikes. He lit one up with a Zippo lighter. He took a long, deep drag. “Whatsamatta? Can’t breathe? Get used to it.”
Stretch walked through the door of the Big Belly Burger. “Whoa! Smells like hamburgers in here! What’s the biggest, fattest hamburger you guys got?”
The Iranian guy at the counter said, “That would be Steve’s double chili cheeseburger.”
“Well, I want two of them bad boys,” Stretch said, staring at the menu on the wall. “Two large orders of chili fries, two large Diet Cokes, and I’ll tell you what, why don’t you give me a combination burrito as well?”
Maggie was violently thrown into a corner of the room. She braced herself against the wall. Virgil stepped in front of her. “You think your boyfriend would go through this for you? Dream on. You’re nothin’ but a fool. And your pretty face is gonna turn awful ugly in about two seconds. Now, where’s my coke?”
She didn’t answer. He delivered a spinning roundhouse kick to her head. Her head slammed into the left side of the wall.
“Where’s Stretch?!” he asked.
Nothing. He gave her another kick to the head, this time from the other side. Her legs started to give way. He caught her and threw her back. He slapped her lightly in the face to revive her, and she looked at him.
“When’s Stretch getting back?” he asked.
She could barely raise her arm, but she somehow managed, and she gave him the middle finger. Virgil couldn’t help but smile.
“You gotta lot of heart, kid,” he said, giving her a spinning roundhouse kick to the head that sent her to the floor.
Inside the Big Belly Burger, Stretch waited for his order. He noticed a young guy reading a copy of Newsweek with Elvis on the cover.
“That’s a great issue,” Stretch said. “Have you read the story on Elvis?” Stretch asked.
“No. Not yet.”
“You know, I saw it on the stands, my first inclination was to buy it. But I looked at the price and said forget it, it’s just gonna be the same ol’, same ol’. I ended up breaking down and buying it a few days later. Man, was I ever wrong.”
“That good, huh?”
Stretch took the magazine from the customer’s hands and started flipping to the Elvis article.
“It covers the whole spectrum of fans,” Stretch said, “the people who love his music, the people who grew up with him, the artists he inspired — Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen — and the fanatics, like these guys. I don’t know about you, but they give me the creeps.”
“I can see what you mean,” the young guy said, looking up at Stretch.
“Like, look at her,” Stretch said, pointing to a picture. “She looks like she fell off an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!” Stretch and the young guy laughed.
Back at Stretch and Maggie’s room at the Hollywood Holiday Inn, Maggie was pretty beat up. She had a fat lip, and her face was black and blue. She crawled around on the floor in a daze.
Virgil tore the place apart looking for the cocaine, carrying on a running commentary. “Now, the first guy you kill is always the hardest. I don’t care if you’re the Boston Strangler or Wyatt Earp. You can bet that Texas boy, Charles Whitman — the fella who shot all them guys from that tower — I’ll bet you green money that that first little black dot that he took a bead on, was the bitch of the bunch. No foolin’ the first one’s a tough row to hoe. Now, the second one, while it ain’t no Mardi Gras, it ain’t half as tough row to hoe. You still feel somethin’, but it’s just so diluted this time around. Then you completely level off on the third one. The third one’s easy. It’s gotten to the point now I’ll do it just to watch their expressions change.”
Virgil tore the motel room up as he spoke. Then he flipped the mattress up off the bed, revealing the black suitcase. Virgil flipped open the black case and almost went snow blind.
“Well, well, well, looky here. I guess I just reached journey’s end,” Virgil grinned. “Great. One less thing I gotta worry about. He closed the case.
Maggie crawled unnoticed to where her purse lay. She sifted through her purse, pulled out her Swiss army knife, and opened it up.
Virgil turned toward her. “OK, sugar pop, we’ve come to what I like to call the moment of truth.”
Maggie slowly rose clutching the thrust-out knife in both hands. Virgil smiled. “Kid, you got a lotta heart.” He moved toward her. Maggie’s hands were shaking.
“Tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna give you a free swing. Now, I only do that for people I like.”
Virgil moved close. Maggie’s eyes studied him. He grabbed the front of his shirt and ripped it open. Buttons flew everywhere. “Go ahead, girl — take a stab at it,” he giggled. “You don’t have anything to lose.”
He was right. She didn’t have anything to lose. Virgil was also right about it being the moment of truth. The absolute feeling of helplessness she felt only a moment ago took a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn into an I’ll take this SOB with me if it’s the last thing I do kind of seething hatred. Letting out a bloodcurdling yell, she raised the knife high above her head, then dropped to her knees and plunged it deep into Virgil’s right foot.
Virgil let out an equally chilling cry and bent down and carefully pulled the knife from his foot, tears running down his face.
As Virgil bent down, Maggie smashed an Elvis Presley whiskey decanter that Stretch had bought her over his head. It was only made of plaster, so it didn’t kill him. Virgil moved toward her, limping on his bad foot. “OK, no more mister nice guy.”
Maggie picked up the hotel TV and tossed it to him. He instinctively caught it and, with his arms full of television, Maggie cold-cocked him with her fist in the nose, breaking it.
Her eyes went straight to the door, then to the sawed-off shotgun by it. She ran to it and bent over the chair for the gun. Virgil’s left foot kicked her in the back, sending her flying over the chair and smashing into the door.
Virgil furiously threw the chair out of the way and stood over Maggie. She was lying on the ground, laughing. Virgil had killed a lot of people, but not one of them had ever laughed before he did it.
“What’s so damn funny?!” he shouted.
“You look so ridiculous,” Maggie laughed.
She laughed louder. Virgil was insane with fury. He picked her off the floor, then lifted her off the ground and threw her through the glass shower door in the bathroom.
“Laugh it up,” he said. “You were in hysterics a minute ago. Why ain’t you laughing now?”
Maggie, lying in the bathtub, grabbed a small bottle of hotel shampoo and squeezed it out in her hand. Virgil reached in the shower and grabbed hold of her hair. Maggie rubbed the shampoo in his face. He let go of her, and his hands went to his eyes.
She grabbed ahold of a hefty piece of broken glass and plunged it into his face.
“Oh, Mary, help me!” Virgil cried.
The battered, bruised, and bloody Maggie emerged from the shower. Clutching a big, bloody piece of broken glass, she looked vaguely reminiscent of a Tasmanian devil. Virgil couldn’t see very well, but he saw her figure coming toward him. He let out a wild haymaker that caught her in the jaw and knocked her into the toilet.
Maggie recovered almost immediately and took the porcelain lid off the back of the toilet tank. Virgil whipped out a .45 automatic from his shoulder holster, just as Maggie brought the lid down on his head. Pressed up against the wall with the toilet lid hitting him, he couldn’t get a good shot in such a tight environment, but he fired anyway, hitting the floor, the wall, the toilet, and the sink.
The toilet lid finally shattered against Virgil’s head, and he fell to the ground. Maggie went to the medicine cabinet and whipped out a big can of Final Net hairspray. She pulled a Bic lighter out of her pocket, and, just as Virgil raised his gun at her, she flicked the Bic and sent a stream of hairspray through the flame, which resulted in a big ball of fire that hit Virgil right in the face.
He fired off two shots. One hit the wall, and another hit the sink pipe, sending water spraying. Upon getting his face fried, Virgil screamed and jumped up, knocking Maggie down, and ran out of the bathroom.
Virgil collapsed on the floor of the living room. Then he saw the sawed-off shotgun laying on the ground. He crawled toward it.
Maggie, in the bathroom, saw where he was heading. She picked up the .45 automatic and fired at him. But it was empty. She was on her feet and into the room.
Virgil reached the shotgun, and his hands grasped it. Maggie spotted him and picked up the bloody Swiss army knife. She took a knife-first-running-dive at Virgil’s back, and she hit him. He arched up, firing the sawed-off into the ceiling, dropping the gun, and sent a cloud of plaster and stucco all over the room.
Maggie snatched the shotgun. Arched over on his back, Virgil and Maggie made eye contact. The first blast hit him in the shoulder, almost tearing his arm off. The second hit him in the knee. The third played hell with his chest.
She then ran at him, hitting him in the head with the butt of the shotgun. From the moment she began firing, it was as if some other part of her brain had been functioning independently. She had been absentmindedly saying the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.