by Doc Quantum, adapted from The Usual Suspects, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie
A hospital in Venice, Italy:
The door to the intensive care ward burst open, and the hallway suddenly became a flurry of activity. The Red Torpedo of the SS Ubermenschen walked with all the determination of a battalion of German infantry through the hospital corridor, flanked by two doctors, one a middle-aged female and another a young male intern.
“Is he talking?” the Red Torpedo said.
“He regained consciousness less than an hour ago,” said the young intern. “He spoke — not Italian or German — then he lapsed.”
“Hungarian?” asked the special agent of the SS.
“It was Hungarian,” stated the Torpedo matter-of-factly. “Most of them were Hungarians. Any fluent Hungarians on your staff?”
“We have a Turkish audiologist,” said the female doctor.
The intern opened a door, and the Red Torpedo barreled through. He came to an abrupt halt at the foot of a bed surrounded by a massive tangle of medical equipment. In the center of it all was a man whose body was nearly mummified in bandages and plaster from waist to chin.
“Are you the police?” the man said weakly, speaking Hungarian. “I need the police. He’ll find out I’m here, and he’ll kill me. I need the police. I will tell them anything they want to know. Please, I am going to be killed.”
“Will he die?” asked the Red Torpedo, understanding none of his words.
“There’s a chance,” said the female doctor.
The Red Torpedo walked over to the Hungarian and knelt down on the bed beside him. Looking closely at his battered and scalded face, he listened to him for a moment. The Hungarian continued speaking incessantly in his weak voice.
“Find someone who understands me, you idiot — I’m going to be killed,” he continued in Hungarian. “You’ll all be killed if he has to do it. Help me, God. They’re all stupid. Get someone who understands me, or we’re all going to die.”
The Red Torpedo pulled a cellular phone out of his jacket and dialed. “Call hospital security and put a man on the door until the police get here.”
The intern ran out of the room. The Hungarian babbled louder and louder, trying to get the Red Torpedo’s attention. The Torpedo stuck a finger in one ear in order to block him out and hear the phone.
“Is he dangerous?” asked the female doctor.
“Why are you just standing there, you idiot?” the patient said in Hungarian. “I’m not speaking German, am I? Wouldn’t it make sense to find someone who could talk to me so you could find the person that set me on fire, perhaps? He is the Marksman.”
Someone picked up on the other end of the phone. “Heinrich, it’s the Red Torpedo. I’m at the hospital. The man they pulled out of the harbor is Arkosh Kovash… Yes, I’m sure… No, he’s all battered up… What? I can’t hear you.”
“You’ve never seen anyone like Baron Povalsky in all your miserable life, you idiot,” said the Hungarian. “Baron Povalsky. Do you at least understand that?”
He gestured angrily to the Hungarian and said, “Shut up, ‘Hugo,’ I’m on the phone. Yes… No… Not until I put someone on him. Listen, I need you to send me someone who can speak Hungarian. He’s awake and talking… How should I know? Get me someone who can talk to him–”
“Baron Povalsky. The Marksman himself. Or are you Nazi police so stupid that you haven’t even heard of him? Baron Povalsky, you ridiculous man. Baron Povalsky!”
The Red Torpedo was suddenly distracted by something Kovash said. In the middle of a long string of unintelligible dialect, he spouted two words that got his attention. He turned and looked down at the tattered man in the bed. The Hungarian realized the Torpedo was listening and said the two words again.
“Baron — Povalsky.”
“What?” The special agent of the SS waved his hand, gesturing for the Hungarian to say it again.
“Baron — Povalsky,” Kovash repeated.
“Are you serious?” The Torpedo spoke into the phone, “Heinrich, call Dietrich Metzheiser at Ausland Sicherheitsdienst and find Count von Stauffen.”
Polizia de Stato headquarters, Venice, Italy:
Alexander “Mouthpiece” Koda sat in Tarantino’s office, smoking a cigarette and glancing over the cluttered billboard behind the desk as he waited. A moment later, Captain Benedict Tarantino opened the door to his office, and Count Helmut von Stauffen entered. Tarantino followed, looking up and down the hall before closing the door behind them. The two officers sat down across from him.
“Mouthpiece, this is Count von Stauffen of the SS,” said Tarantino.
“Nice to meet you,” said the crippled man.
“He wants to ask you a few questions before you go.”
“About Wolfgang Hurtz, mostly,” said the Count, taking his place in front of Mouthpiece and assuming a gentle-but-still-threatening manner. “But I’d like to start at the lineup back in Hamburg.”
“Can I get some coffee?”
“In a while. Let us talk about the lineup.”
“I’m really thirsty. I used to dehydrate as a kid. One time I got so bad, my piss came out like snot. I’m not kidding. It was all thick and–”
“We’ll get you your blasted coffee,” said Tarantino angrily and rose from his desk.
“Get me one, too, while you’re at it,” said von Stauffen as the door slammed.
“That guy is tense,” said Mouthpiece. “Tension is a killer. I used to be in a Polka band in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. The lead accordionist was this guy named Fritz Shreck — big fat guy, I mean really fat — he was so stressed in the morning, that–”
“Mouthpiece, you know we are only trying to help you,” said an exasperated von Stauffen.
“Sure. And I appreciate that. And I want to help you, Count von Stauffen. I like the SS. I would have liked to have been an SS officer myself, but I never had the body type for–”
“Mouthpiece, I know you know something. I know you’re not telling us everything.”
“I told the prosecutor everything I know.”
Tarantino entered a small room and stood over a messy looking technician at his workbench in a room full of electronic recording equipment. He adjusted several dials on a receiver until the voices of Count von Stauffen and Mouthpiece came clearly through a tinny speaker on the wall. Tarantino reached over for a nearby pot of coffee.
“I know you liked Hurtz,” the voice of von Stauffen could be heard. “I know you think he was a good man.”
“I know he was good,” the voice of Mouthpiece was heard replying.
“He was a corrupt Gestapo officer, Mouthpiece. In 1973, after the downfall of the Third Reich, he was responsible for presenting evidence at the International Court of war crimes supposedly committed by his fellow officers.”
“Sure, thirteen years ago, but he’s been a good thief since then.”
In Tarantino’s office, Mouthpiece took another sip of his coffee and said, “Anyway, the police wouldn’t leave him al–”
“Wolfgang Hurtz was a schweinhund who sold us out when he had the chance to do so!” said von Stauffen hotly.
Mouthpiece smiled knowingly. “Are you trying to get a rise out of me, Herr Count?”
“I just want to hear your story.”
“It’s right here.” Mouthpiece tapped a finger on the stack of paper that von Stauffen brought in. The Count picked it up and thumbed through it.
“According to your statement, you are a short-con operator. Run-of-the-mill scams. Everything you do, you learned from somebody else.”
“That’s been suppressed. Anything in there is inadmissible.”
“Oh, I know,” said the Black Knight. “Your deal — total immunity.”
Mouthpiece laughed. “Well, I do have the weapons charge. I’m looking at six whole months hard time.”
Count von Stauffen smiled. “Do you know a dealer named Rudolf Bauer, Mouthpiece?”
“Do you know a religious guy named John Paul?” snapped the cripple.
“You know Rudy is in prison?”
Mouthpiece shrugged. “He didn’t have my lawyer.”
“I know Rudy,” said the Black Knight. “Respect is very important to him. Likes me very much.”
Mouthpiece could see this getting to something. His smile began to fade.
“Now, I know your testimony was sealed. Rudy is well-connected. He still has people running errands for him. What do you think he’d say if he found out you dropped his name to the prosecutor?”
“There’s nothing in there about Rudy.”
The Black Knight smiled. “I’ll be sure to mention that to him.”
Mouthpiece wasn’t smiling anymore. He stared at von Stauffen with utter contempt, knowing he was being shafted.
“It was during the 1960s in the glory of the Third Reich that I joined the SS,” began the Count. “As a young man I worked back then, as I do now, with local police all over the world, ensuring the Reich’s best interests were kept in mind. We captured many criminals of all stripes, and it was a time of learning for me. But do you know what the first thing I learned in this job was? How to spot a murderer. Let’s say you arrest three men for the same killing and put them all in jail overnight. The next morning, whoever is sleeping is your man. You see, if you’re guilty, you know you’re caught and you get some rest — let your guard down, you follow?”
“I’ll get right to the point,” said von Stauffen. “I am smarter than you. I will find out what I want to know, and I will get it from you whether you like it or not.”
“I’m not a rat,” said Mouthpiece.
Von Stauffen put his hand on the transcript of Mouthpiece’s confession. Tarantino walked in with two cups of coffee, handing them to the two men. The cripple took it with his good hand and sipped it with a relish.
“Ahhh,” said Mouthpiece. “Back when I was picking beans in Guatemala, we used to make fresh coffee. Right off the trees, I mean. That was good. This is $#!^, but hey…”
“Can we get started again?” said Tarantino.
“Now what happened after the lineup?” demanded the Count.
Mouthpiece sneered at Count von Stauffen, unable to change the subject.
Hamburg, Sunday, March 16, 1986 — five weeks and five days ago:
Wolfgang Hurtz stopped at the top of the front steps of the police station he was detained in and lit a cigarette. Elsa Schneider came out behind him, fuming mad.
“–and the desk sergeant is actually trying to tell me he can’t release you? Can you believe that? You weren’t even charged. Hamburger Polizei — geez. I want to take pictures of your face to bring to the district attorney first thing in the morning.”
“Just forget about it,” said Hurtz, looking across the street to see Dickie Stanton and Red McGraw talking by a newsstand. McGraw was thumbing through magazines.
“Absolutely not,” said Elsa.
Hurtz looked to his right and saw Denny Dyce trying to hail a cab.
“I’ll have this thing in front of a tribunal by Monday.”
“Elsa, please,” said Hurtz. “I don’t want to hear this right now. What did Renault and Fortier say?”
“They want more time to think about investing,” she confessed.
“Zum donnerwetter!” he cursed.
“They just said they wanted time.”
“Time for what, Elsa? Time to look into me a little more, that’s what. No matter how well you cover my tracks now, they’ll find out who I am.”
“Give me some credit,” said said. “I got you this far. Let’s go to the tribunal. This is never going to stop if we–”
“No,” said Hurtz. “It’s never going to stop, period. It won’t take more than a week before every investor in this city is walking away from us. It’s finished. I’m finished.”
Just then, Mouthpiece bumped into him on his way out the door. He excused himself and hobbled down the steps, oblivious to who he had bumped into as he tried to navigate the stairs.
“Don’t give up on me now, Wolfie,” said Elsa.
“They’ll never stop.”
“I love you,” she told him.
“They ruined me tonight,” Hurtz muttered to himself.
“Wolfie, I love you,” Elsa repeated. “Do you hear me?”
Mouthpiece got to the sidewalk and stopped. He turned, realizing it was Hurtz on the steps.
“Let’s just go to my place,” said Elsa. “We’ll worry about this tomorrow.”
Hurtz and Mouthpiece looked at one another for a moment. Hurtz then looked over to the newsstand and saw Stanton looking at him.
“Huh?” said Hurtz, not hearing what Elsa just said.
McGraw noticed Stanton and glanced up from his magazine to see what he was looking at.
“Come home with me, please,” said Elsa pleadingly. “Wolfie?”
Hurtz looked at Dyce, who had one foot in a cab. He looked at Stanton and McGraw, who were looking at Hurtz. This made Dyce look up at Hurtz as well.
Suddenly, Elsa tuned in to what was going on as she noticed the others on the street. Reaching over and taking Hurtz by the arm, she pulled gently while glaring at the others. “Come home, Wolfgang.”
“All right,” Hurtz said distantly.
Mouthpiece looked at everyone else from where he stood on the street. Stanton, McGraw, and Dyce all looked at him and then at each other in a strange moment of unspoken understanding. All eyes finally turned to Hurtz, high on the front steps of the police station as he walked away with Elsa.