The Marksman: Unusual Suspects, Chapter 2: The Job

by Doc Quantum, adapted from The Usual Suspects, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie

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Wolfgang Hurtz was brought into a holding cell, where he joined Dickie Stanton, Denny Dyce, Alexander “Mouthpiece” Koda, and Red McGraw. He sat in a corner and kept to himself. McGraw silently stared at Hurtz, who sat on a bench, looking away. Stanton, meanwhile, was in mid-tirade.

“Somebody should do something. What is this $#!^ — getting hauled in every five minutes? OK, so I did a little time — does that mean I get railed every time a truck finds its way off the planet? These guys got no reasonable suspicion.”

Dyce spoke up, “These aren’t the local Hamburger Polizei we’re dealing with here. They’ve got to be Nazis. Gestapo or SS, or both. They don’t give a $#!^ about reasonable suspicion.”

“Not right,” continued Stanton. “Not damn right. You do some time, they never let you go. Treat me like a criminal, I’ll end up a criminal.”

“You are a criminal,” growled Dyce.

“Why you gotta go and do that?” whined Stanton. “I’m trying to make a point.”

“Then make it,” spoke up Hurtz. “Sheesh, you’re making me tired all over.”

McGraw looked at him and said, “Heard you were dead, Hurtz.”

“You heard right.”

“The word I got is you hung up your spurs, man,” said Dyce. “What’s that all about?”

“What’s this?” asked McGraw, interested.

“Rumor has it Hurtz’s gone straight — cleaning house,” explained Dyce. “I hear he’s tapping Elsa Schneider.”

“Who?” said McGraw.

“She’s a heavyweight criminal lawyer from uptown. Big-time connected. She could have erased Patton‘s record if she tried. I hear she’s Hurtz’s meal ticket.” Dyce turned to him and asked, “Is it true?”

“What about it, Hurtz?” said McGraw, clearly the leader of the group for now. “You a lawyer’s wife? What sort of ‘retainer’ you giving her?” Hurtz glared back at him.

“I’d say you’ve gotten on his main and central nerve, McGraw,” taunted Stanton.

“Do your friend a favor, Stanton — keep him quiet,” said Hurtz.

“You’re clean, Hurtz?” said McGraw. “Say it ain’t so. Was it you that hit that truck?”

“Forget him,” said Stanton. “It’s not important. I was trying to make a point.”

Hurtz ignored McGraw as he said to the others, “This whole thing was a shakedown.”

“What makes you say that?” said McGraw.

“How many times have you been in a lineup? It’s always you and four dummies. The police pays homeless guys ten bucks a head half the time. No way they’d line five felons in the same row. No way. And what the hell is a voice lineup? Any lawyer could get you off of that.”

“So why the hell was I hauled in and cavity searched tonight?” said Stanton.

“It was the SS,” said Hurtz. “A truckload of guns headed for the Eastern Front gets snagged and sent to the Resistance in England, they come down on the Hamburg Police for some answers — they come up with us. They’re grabbing at straws. It’s politics — nothing you can do.”

“So who did it?” Stanton asked the others. “Own up.”

“I don’t want to know,” sighed Hurtz.

“Nobody asked you, working-man,” said McGraw.

“%^@& who did it,” said Dyce. “What I want to know is, who’s the gimp?

All of them turned to look at Mouthpiece. He’d been quietly listening the whole time without uttering a word.

He’s all right,” said Hurtz.

“How do I know that?” said Dyce. “How about it, strudel-boy? What’s your story?”

“His name is ‘Mouthpiece’ Koda,” said Hurtz. “I thought you guys knew him.”

“‘Mouthpiece’?” questioned McGraw.

“Alexander, really,” Mouthpiece said. “People say I talk too much.”

“Yeah, I was about to tell you to shut up,” Dyce drawled sarcastically. The cripple hadn’t said a word until now.

“We’ve met once or twice,” said Hurtz. “Last time was in…”

“Rostock. I was in prison for fraud.”

“You were waiting for a lineup then, too,” said Hurtz. “What happened with that?”

“I walked,” said Mouthpiece. “Ninety days, suspended.”

“So you did it?” said Dyce.

“To your mother’s @$$,” said Mouthpiece, looking away from him and awaiting a violent response. Everyone slowly started to laugh. Dyce, meanwhile, looked as if he was about to boil in his own skin.

“Let it go,” said Hurtz, and Mouthpiece smiled at him appreciatively.

McGraw stood and walked to the corner of the cell. “Look, we’ve all been put out by this. I figure we owe it to ourselves to salvage a little dignity. Now, Stanton and I got wind of a possible job–”

“Why don’t you just calm down?” interrupted Hurtz sternly.

“What do you care what he says?” said Dyce, angrily.

“Yeah, I’m just talking here, and Dyce seems to want to hear me out. I know Stanton is with me.” He turned to Mouthpiece. “How about you, guy?”

“I’m interested, sure,” Mouthpiece said.

“There, so you see, I’m going to exercise my right to free assembly, even if the damned Nazis have taken that right away from us.” McGraw tapped the bars of the cell, and the others laughed.

“I’m not kidding,” said Hurtz, seriously. “Shut your mouth.”

“You’re missing the point,” said McGraw.

“No, you’re missing the point,” said Hurtz. “Shut up. I don’t want to hear anything you have to say. I don’t want to know about your ‘job.’ Just don’t let me hear you. I want nothing to do with any of you. I beg your pardon, but all of you can go to hell.”

“Wolfgang Hurtz, gone the high road,” said McGraw. “What is the world coming to?” McGraw and Hurtz glared at one another for a long and tense moment. Finally, McGraw turned to the others. “Forget him, then. Now, I can’t talk about this here in any detail, but listen up…”

Everyone but Hurtz gravitated toward him as he began to speak in low, hushed tones.

“And that was how it began. The five of us brought in on a trumped-up charge to be leaned on by half-wits. What the police never figured out, and what I know now, was that these men would never break, never lie down, never bend over for anybody… anybody.”

***

Venice, Italy, Friday, April 26, 1986 — present day:

A line of body bags gleamed in the morning sunlight on the dock by the pier at Venezia Porto Marghera. The area was swarmed by police, as well as photographers taking pictures of the scene, while a team of men in rolled-up sleeves and plastic gloves picked at the remains. Two men on a fire boat, meanwhile, were still dousing the smoldering remains of a burned-out ship’s hull with a water cannon. Nearby, a strange-looking red submarine was docked.

Watching this from the edge of the pier was a man in a dark suit. He was the super-agent of the SS known as the Red Torpedo, who had traveled there in the red submarine. A tall, fit man in his thirties, he was actually the son of the Black Shark, the onetime arch-nemesis of the original Red Torpedo. The original Torpedo, unlike the current Nazi version, was an American hero and a charter member of the original Allied Forces team called the Freedom Fighters, who died on their first mission in 1941. The Japanese learned of his advanced submarine, also called the Red Torpedo, and this information eventually fell into the hands of Nazi scientists, who were able to recover a blueprint of this submarine. They adapted its advanced engineering for many things, not the least of which was the so-called War Wheel, which terrorized many a town during the decades-long World War II. The Nazi-built Red Torpedo submarine itself fell into the hands of the Black Shark and his son, who was trained as a special agent of the SS, and the boy became a special operative of the SS, eventually taking on the name of the Red Torpedo for propaganda purposes when the SS Ubermenschen were created.

The special agent of the SS gazed out over the water thoughtfully, and a uniformed officer of the Polizia de Stato of Venice walked up to him. “Who are you?”

“The Red Torpedo, SS Ubermenschen,” the man replied without looking at him. “How many dead?” Before the policeman could answer, Red Torpedo turned and walked along the line of body bags.

“Fifteen so far. We’re still pulling some bodies out of the water.”

The Torpedo eyed the corpses on the dock, burned beyond recognition.

“Looking for anyone in particular?” the policeman asked.

The SS agent looked at the policeman for the first time, unamused. “I don’t want any of the bodies taken away until I’ve had a chance to go over this, understood?”

“I have to clear the scene,” the policeman replied. “I’ve got the word directly from the Chief.”

The Torpedo lit a cigarette, only half-listening and unimpressed. “Yes, the Chief. Spooky stuff. Any survivors?”

“Two. There’s one in the hospital, but he’s in a coma. The prosecutor has the other guy — a Czech cripple — from Hamburg, I think. Listen, the Chief said–”

“Excuse me,” the Red Torpedo murmured, walking away from the policeman and ignoring him completely. He wandered through the carnage on the pier.

***

Polizia de Stato headquarters, Venice, Italy:

Count Helmut von Stauffen walked quickly beside Captain Benedict Tarantino, a dark and weathered Italian man in his late forties. They walked up the staircase into the heart of police headquarters as they talked. Although the famous city of Venice was known for its waterways, this building was located on car-accessible land not far from Venezia Porto Marghera in the greater district of Venice.

“What do you mean I cannot see him?” said the irate von Stauffen. “I’m Hitler’s Black Knight!”

Tarantino sighed, secretly wishing for the thousandth time this year that he didn’t have to work with Nazis again. There was just no pleasing them. “The prosecutor came down here last night ready to arraign before they even moved him to jail. Koda’s lawyer came in and, five minutes later, the prosecutor came out looking like he’d just met Frankenstein’s monster. They took his statement and gave him a deal.”

“Did they charge him with anything?” asked the Count.

“Only for possession of an illegal weapon.”

“Ridiculous!” cried the Black Knight angrily.

Tarantino motioned for von Stauffen to lower his voice, pointing out that they were walking through a bullpen filled with desks where a number of ordinary police officers were working within earshot.

“I give the prosecutor credit for getting that much to stick,” said Tarantino. “This whole thing has turned political. The Mayor was here — the Chief — even the new Nazi Governor called this morning. This Czech cripple is protected — from up on high by the prince of darkness.”

“Ridiculous! I’ll talk to Hitler himself–”

“I wouldn’t do that, Herr Count,” Tarantino said, giving the Black Knight a serious look.

Von Stauffen frowned, unused to being denied his will. “When will he be out on bail?”

“Two hours.”

“I want to see him.”

“No, Herr Count.”

“I’ve got to see him, Captain,” demanded the Black Knight.

“Herr Count, no — I cannot do this for you,” said Tarantino.

“I came all the way from Berlin for this.”

Tarantino came to an office door with his name on it. He opened it and let von Stauffen in before following. “No, Herr Count, please. I beg you.”

The Italian police captain’s office was a disaster area. The desk was cluttered with weeks, perhaps months or even years of paperwork that could never conceivably be sorted out. Above his desk was a bulletin board, a breathtaking catastrophe of papers, wanted posters, rap sheets, memos, and notes that must have taken decades to create. Tarantino was a man with a system so cryptic, so far beyond the comprehension of others, he himself was most likely baffled by it.

Tarantino sat down and looked at the SS officer he’d known since the 1960s. “Even if I were to let you talk to him, he won’t talk to you. He’s paranoid about being recorded, and he knows the interrogation rooms are wired.”

“This won’t be an interrogation, just a–” von Stauffen grinned, “–friendly chat to kill time.”

“He won’t go into the interrogation room.”

“Someplace else, then.”

“Where?”

Von Stauffen looked around Tarantino’s messy office, motioning around him.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Tarantino said immediately.

“If it was a drug deal, where are the drugs?” von Stauffen reasoned. “If it was a murder, who called it in?”

“And I am sure you have a host of wild theories to answer these questions.”

“You know damn well what I think.”

“That’s crazy, Herr Count, and it doesn’t matter,” protested Tarantino. “He has total immunity, and his story checks out. He doesn’t know what you want to know.”

“I don’t think he does,” said the Black Knight. “Not exactly, but there’s a lot more to his story, believe me. Captain, look — I want to know why twenty-seven men were massacred on that pier for what looks to be ninety-one million dollars worth of drugs that weren’t there. Above all, I want to be sure that Wolfgang Hurtz is really dead this time.”

“He’s dead,” Tarantino stated flatly.

“Two hours. Just until he posts bail.”

“They’re all dead. No matter how tough you say this Hurtz was, no one on that boat could’ve made it out alive.”

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