Showcase: Stretch O’Brien: Earth-Two Romance, Chapter 7: The Sting

by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from True Romance, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

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Stretch O’Brien, hearing gunshots, burst through the door, his gun drawn, only to see Maggie O’Brien hitting a dead guy on the head with a shotgun. “Honey?” Stretch said.

She continued pounding away, seemingly oblivious to his presence. Stretch put his gun away and ran to her side, taking her by the shoulders.

“Sweetheart? Cops are gonna be here any minute.” She continued flailing wildly. He took the gun away from her, and she fell to the ground. She lay on the floor trembling, continuing with the downward swing of her arms. Stretch grabbed the shotgun and the cocaine, and tossed Maggie over his shoulder.

Everyone at the Hollywood Holiday Inn stood outside their rooms, watching as Stretch walked through the pool area with his bundle. Sirens could be heard approaching from a distance.

Stretch hopped in his Mustang and drove like mad. Maggie was passed out in the passenger seat, muttering to herself. He had one hand on the steering wheel as the other stroked her hair. “Sleep, baby. Don’t dream. Don’t worry. Just sleep. You deserve better than this. I’m so sorry. Sleep, my angel.”


Later, inside their room at the Motel 6, Stretch watched Maggie as she slept. Standing next to his reflection in the mirror was the image of Elvis. “I feel so horrible about what she went through,” he said to Elvis. “That psycho really beat the hell out of her. She never told him where I was. It’s like I always felt that the way she felt about me was a mistake. She couldn’t really care that much. I always felt in the back of my mind, I don’t know, she was jokin’. But to go through that and remain loyal… to remain loyal when it’s easier, even excusable, not to… that’s the real test. That’s a true romance. I swear to God, I’ll cut off my hands and gouge out my own eyes before I’ll ever let anything happen to her again.”


The silver Porsche drove at a breakneck pace, taking quick corners, pushing it to the edge through the Hollywood hills. Elliot Blitzer was the driver. A glitzy blonde was sitting next to him. They were having a ball. Then, suddenly, a red and blue light flashing light appeared in the rearview window. It was the cops.

“I knew it! I knew it! I should have my head examined, driving like this!” Elliot said, pulling over. “Kandi, you gotta help me.”

“What can I do?”

He pulled out the sample bag of cocaine that Stretch had given him earlier. “You gotta hold this for me.”

“You must be high. Uh-huh. No way,” she said.

“Just put it in your purse!” Elliot said frantically.

“I’m not gonna put that stuff in my purse.”

“They won’t search you. I promise,” Elliot said. “You haven’t done anything.”

“No way, José,” she said, shaking her head.

“Please — they’ll be here any minute. Just put it in your bra,” he pleaded.

“I’m not wearing a bra.”

“Put it in your pants!” he wailed.


“You’re the one who wanted to drive fast,” he snapped.

“Read my lips.” She mouthed the word no.

“After all I’ve done for you, you whore!” Elliot shouted.

She went to slap him, but hit the bag of cocaine instead. It ripped open. Cocaine completely covered his blue suit and sprinkled on his face. At that moment, Elliot turned to face a flashing beam. Tears filled his eyes.


Inside the police interrogation room, Elliot Blitzer sat in a chair at the table. Two young, good-looking, casually dressed, Starsky and Hutch-type police detectives were questioning him. They were known in the department as Nicholson and Dimes. The dark-haired one was Cody Nicholson, and the blond was Nicky Dimes.

“Look, Sunshine, we found a sandwich bag of uncut cocaine,” Nicholson said.

“Not a tiny little vial…” Dimes said.

“But a freakin’ baggie,” Nicholson said.

“No, don’t sit here and feed us some bull,” Dimes said.

“You got caught. It’s all fun and games till you get caught,” Nicholson said. “But now we gotcha. OK, Mr. Elliot actor, you’ve just made the big time.”

“You’re no longer an extra,” Dimes said.

Nicholson added, “Or a bit player.”

“Or a supporting actor,” Dime added.

“You’re a star!” said Nicholson. “And you’re gonna be playin’ your little one-man show nightly for the next two years for a captive audience.”

“But there is a bright side, though. When you get out in a few years, you’ll meet some girl, get married, and you’ll be so understanding to your wife’s needs, because you’ll know what it’s like to be a woman.”

Elliot started crying. Nicholson and Dimes exchanged looks and smiled. Mission accomplished.


Captain Krinkle sat behind his desk, where he spent about seventy-five percent of his day. “Nicholson! Dimes! Get in here!” he shouted.

The two casually dressed, sneaker-wearing cops rushed in.

“We have it, and I’m referring to the whole department,” Nicholson said. “Haven’t had a decent bust this whole month. Well, we might’a come in like a lamb, but we’re goin’ out like a lion.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s like this,” Dimes said. “A patrol car stops this dork for speeding, they walk up, and the guy’s covered in coke. So they bring him in, and me an’ Nicholson go to work on him. This guy had a big bag, uncut, so we’re sweatin’ him to find out where he got it. Scarin’ the hell outta him.”

“Which wasn’t too hard; the guy was a real squid,” Nicholson said.

“So he starts talkin’. And, Krinkle, you ain’t gonna believe it,” said Dimes. “It seems a cop from some department stole a half a million dollars of coke from the property cage, and he’s been sittin’ on it for a year and a half.”

“Now the cop’s got this kid to front for him,” Nicholson said. “So Elliot is workin’ out the deal between them and his boss, a big movie producer named Lee Donowitz.”

“He produced Coming Home in a Body Bag,” Dimes said.

“That Vietnam movie?” Krinkle said, impressed.

“Uh-huh,” Dimes answered.

“That was a damn good movie.”

“Sure was,” Dimes agreed.

“Do you believe him?” Krinkle asked.

“I believe he believes him,” Dimes said. “This rabbit’ll do anything not to do time, including wearing a wire.”

“Dirty cops. We’ll have to bring in Internal Affairs on this,” Krinkle said.

“Cocaine. Dirty cops. Hollywood. This is Crocket and Tubbs all the way. And we found it, so we want the collar,” Nicholson said excitedly.

Captain Krinkle said, “You got it.”


At a very fancy Italian bistro, Ape-Face sat with four of his men. Of the five of him, he was the only one eating a vegetarian dish. He had his father’s constitution.

“And so, tomorrow morning comes, and no Virgil,” Ape-Face said. “I check with Nick Cardella in Gotham City. He never showed.”

“You think Virgil started gettin’ big ideas?” Frankie asked.

“Anybody can be carried away with delusions of grandeur. But after that incident in Bludhaven, I trust Virgil,” Ape-face said.

“What happened?” the younger wise guy Dario asked.

“Virgil got picked up in a warehouse shakedown. He got five years at Blackgate; he served three,” said Lenny, the older wise guy.

“Anybody who clams up and does his time, I don’t care how I feel about him personally — he’s OK,” Ape-Face said.

“Maybe Virgil dropped it off at Cardella’s. Cardella turns Virgil’s switch off, and Cardella decides to open up his own fruit stand,” Marvin said.

“Excuse me, boss,” Lenny said. He turned to Marvin. “Do you know Nick Cardella?”

“No,” Marvin said.

“Then where the hell do you get off talkin’ that kind of talk?”

“I didn’t mean–” Marvin stammered.

“Shut your mouth,” Lenny said indignantly. “Nick Cardella was provin’ what his words was worth before you were a gleam in your daddy’s eye. What sun do you walk under you can throw a shadow on Nick Cardella? Nick Cardella’s a stand-up guy.”

“We’re digressing,” Ape-Face said. “Another possibility is that rat-whore and her wack-a-doo cowboy boyfriend did Virgil. Knowing Virgil, I find that hard to believe. But they sent Drexel to hell, and Drexel was no pushover. So you see, children, I got a lot of questions and no answers. Find out who this wing-and-a-prayer artist is and take him off at the neck.”


Stretch’s red Mustang was parked on top of a hill just off of Imperial Highway. As luck would have it, somebody had abandoned a ratty old sofa on the side of the road. Stretch and Maggie sat on the sofa, sharing a jumbo java, and enjoying the sunrise and wonderful view of the LAX Airport runways, where planes were taking off and landing. A plane took off, and they stopped and watched.

“Ya know, I used to hate airports,” Stretch said.

“Really?” Maggie asked.

“With a vengeance, I hated them,” he said.

“How come?”

“It was my time on the streets. I hated anything that reminded me of what I didn’t have. That’s probably why I tried to cut out Faust and Savant back in Keystone — being surrounded by all that nice stuff in that penthouse, an’ none of it mine,” Stretch said. “And that’s why I hated airports. Seein’ people doing what I wanted to be doin’.”

“What’s that?” Maggie asked.

“Goin’ off on vacations, startin’ new lives,” Stretch said.

“But knowin’ me and you’s gonna be rich for a while gives me a whole new outlook,” Stretch said. “I love airports now. Me ‘n’ you can get on any one of those planes out there, and go anywhere we want.”

“You ain’t kiddin’, ” Maggie said. “We got lives to start over. We should go somewhere where we can really start from scratch.”

“I been in America all my life,” Stretch said. “I’m due for a change. I wanna see what TV’s like in other countries. Besides, it’s more dramatic. Where should we fly off to, my little turtledove?”

“Cancun,” Maggie said dreamily.

“Why Cancun?”

“It’s got a nice ring to it. It sounds like a movie,” Maggie said. “Stretch and Maggie Go to Cancun. Don’tcha think?

“But in my movie, baby, you get the top billing,” Stretch said, leaning down to kiss her. “Don’t you worry ’bout anything. It’s all gonna work out for us. We deserve it.”


Later that day, Dick Ritchie, Stretch, and Maggie were getting ready to leave for the drug deal. Floyd, stoned again, lay on the couch watching TV. Maggie wore dark glasses because of the black eye she had.

“You sure that’s how you get to the Beverly Wilshire?” Stretch asked Floyd.

“I’ve partied there twice. Yeah, I’m sure,” Floyd said, lifting the bong he’d made out of a honey-bear squeeze bottle.

“Yeah, well, if we got lost, it’s your ass,” Dick said. “Come on, Stretch, let’s go. Elliot’s going to meet us in the lobby.”

“I’m just makin’ sure we got everything,” Stretch said. He pointed to Maggie. “You got yours?” She held up the suitcase, and the three piled out the door.


Inside their room at the LAX Airport Hotel, the four soldiers of the Gorilla Mob were preparing for the coming skirmish. Lenny sat on the bed putting together a shotgun. Dario walked over with his own shotgun cradled in his arm and handed Lenny some shells. Marvin walked through the frame cocking his own shotgun. The bathroom door opened behind Lenny and Frankie, who walked out twirling a couple of .45 automatics in his hands.


In the Beverly Wilshire hotel, Nicholson and Dimes and four detectives from Internal Affairs were in a room on the same floor as Lee Donowitz. They had just put a wire on Elliot Blitzer.

“OK, say something,” Dimes commanded.

“Hello! Hello! Hello! How now, brown cow?” Elliot said loudly.

“Just talk regular,” Nicholson grimaced.

“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief…” Elliot quoted in a normal tone.

“Are you gettin’ this $3&@?” Dimes asked.

“Clear as a bell,” the detective by the tape machine said.

Nicholson, Dime, and the head I.A. officer, Wurlitzer, huddled by Elliot. “Now, remember, we’ll be monitoring just down the hall,” Dimes said.

“And if there’s any sign of trouble, you’ll come in?” Elliot said nervously.

“Like gangbusters,” Nicholson said reassuringly. “Now, remember, if you don’t want to go to jail, we gotta put your boss in jail.”

“We have to show in court that, without a doubt, a successful man, an important figure in the Hollywood community, is also dealing cocaine,” Dimes said.

“So you gotta get him to admit on tape that he’s buying this coke,” Nicholson added.

“And this fellow Stretch?” added Wurlitzer, the Internal Affairs officer.

“Yeah, Stretch,” Elliot said.

“You gotta get him to name the police officer behind all this,” Wurlitzer said.

“I’ll try,” Elliot said.

“You do more than try,” Dimes said.

“You do,” Nicholson said.

“Hope you’re a good actor, Elliot,” Dimes said.


Stretch, Dick, and Maggie were en route to the meeting at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “You got that playing basketball?” Dick asked Maggie, gesturing to her black eye and split lip.

“Yeah. I got elbowed right in the eye,” Maggie laughed. “And if that wasn’t enough, I got hurled the ball when I’m not looking. Wam! Right in my face.”

They stopped at a red light, and Stretch looked at Maggie. “Red light means love, baby.” He and Maggie started kissing, and Dick rolled his eyes.

Outside the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the trio pulled up in Stretch’s red Mustang. Stretch parked, and Dick started to lift the suitcase as they got out.

I’ll take that,” Stretch said.

“What?” Dick said defensively. “I can hold it.

“Like when I let you hold that weapon I lifted from that egghead from STAR Labs?”

“I held on to it!”

“Floyd turned it into a bong,” Stretch said. “Not a whole lotta call for hollowed-out secret weapons filled with pot residue. Now, remember, both of you, let me do the talking.” He took out his .38.

“What the hell did you bring that for?!” Dick exclaimed.

“In case,” Stretch said.

“In case of what?”

“In case they try to kill us,” Stretch said. “I don’t know, what do you want me to say?”

“Look, Dillinger, Lee Donowitz is not a pimp…” Dick said.

“I know that. I don’t think I’ll need it. But something this last week has taught me, it’s better to have a gun and not to need it than to need a gun and not to have it.”


Inside the Beverly Wilshire hotel, Elliot Blitzer walked nervously around the lobby, singing to himself.

“There’s a man who leads a life of danger,
To everyone he meets
He stays a stranger.
Be careful what you say,
You’ll give yourself away…”

Upstairs, Nicholson, Dimes, Wurlitzer, and the three other detectives surrounded the tape machine. Coming from the machine was Elliot’s voice.

“…Odds are you won’t live
To see tomorrow,
Secret agent man,
Secret agent man…”

Nicholson looked at Dimes and said, “Why, all of a sudden, have I got a bad feeling?”

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