by Doc Quantum, adapted from The Usual Suspects, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie
Verona, Italy, Tuesday, April 1, 1986 — three weeks and three days ago:
In a parking garage late at night, Red McGraw walked along a line of cars. He came across a black Maserati luxury car and stopped. He briefly checked the license plate, then walked over to the next car, a green Volkswagen. He pulled a slim-jim out of his jacket and popped the lock on the Volkswagen. Reaching in, he pulled the lever that popped the hood, walked around to open the hood, and stuck his head in the engine.
Alex ‘Mouthpiece’ Koda sat behind the wheel of a van, Wolfgang Hurtz beside him. Denny Dyce and Dickie Stanton were in the back. They all watched McGraw from where they were parked a few dozen yards away.
The elevator bell sounded at the far end of the garage, and the doors soon opened. Two men in ill-fitting suits got out and looked around cautiously. The first was Tucci, a big-bellied, white-haired menace. The other was Lombardo, lean and bad-skinned. They were bodyguards, and every move they made was careful. They turned back to the elevator and motioned to someone inside.
Out walked Conrad Schumacher, a slightly overweight man in his forties with an open collar silk shirt and a thick gold chain on his hairy chest who carried a large aluminum briefcase. He let his guards do the worrying and walked straight to his car. Passing McGraw — still under the hood of the Volkswagen — Conrad took out his keys and pushed a button on his key chain. The Maserati beeped three times, telling him his alarm was off. Tucci kept an eye on McGraw, while Lombardo watched Conrad.
McGraw pretended to tinker with the car’s engine, but he had placed a pistol just inside the grill and kept it within reach. The van on the other side of the garage then started up its engine and pulled out of the spot. It cruised over toward the Maserati.
Tucci saw the van. He and Lombardo were suddenly busy trying to keep track of everything. They heard laughing behind them and turned around.
Stanton and Dyce walked toward them sporting mustaches and sunglasses in addition to matching suits, each with loud plaid sport coats decades out of style. Conrad glanced at Tucci and Lombardo.
“Just get in the car, Conrad,” said Lombardo.
Under the hood of the Volkswagen and out of sight, McGraw pulled on a black ski mask. The van got closer.
“I get out of the car,” Dyce joked to Stanton, “and man, if the thing wasn’t wrecked. And I see this broad in the back seat with nothing on.” Conrad got in the car quickly but calmly as Stanton and Dyce laughed and talked loudly. They looked drunk, which was the desired effect. “I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe–” continued Dyce.
Tucci and Lombardo tried to take it all in stride as the reverse lights of Conrad’s Maserati came on, and he began to back out of the spot.
Dyce continued, “And the fat guy comes out of the car with his pants on backwards and says–”
Suddenly, the van revved and screeched to a halt behind Conrad’s Maserati, blocking him in. Dyce and Stanton quickly dropped the drunk act and snapped to, both pulling out guns and starting to scream.
“Don’t move, you #^@%ers!” Dyce shouted.
“Right there — freeze!” commanded Stanton.
McGraw came up from under the hood and said, “April Fool’s!”
Tucci and Lombardo threw their hands in the air. Dyce and Stanton grabbed them and reached into their belts to get their guns.
Hurtz jumped out of the van and ran up to Conrad’s car, his face covered in a ski mask. He yanked on the door handle, but it was locked. Inside, Conrad sat in terror behind the wheel until Hurtz pulled out a pistol and smashed the window with it. “Give me the case,” Hurtz demanded.
Conrad reached over for the case, with Hurtz training the gun on him. Suddenly, Conrad came up with a pistol and pointed it at Hurtz, who sidestepped and grabbed his wrist. The gun went off into the fender of the Volkswagen.
Dyce and Stanton both looked over at the sound of the gun, and the bodyguards seized the opportunity. Tucci grabbed Dyce, while Lombardo grabbed Stanton, and the four men grappled for the guns.
Stanton’s gun fell to the floor, and McGraw picked it up, training a pistol on each bodyguard as he took a breath. They were some ten feet apart and moving erratically, with Dyce and Stanton constantly falling in the line of fire.
McGraw walked around the four men, keeping a pistol trained on each of the guards. Finally, he came to an angle where they were all in front of him. One guard was a few feet away, while the other was ten feet past him. The closer of the two moved in, and out of the sights of the pistol in McGraw’s right hand, the one farther away did the same with the left.
Mouthpiece got out of the van and moved toward them to help.
Both of McGraw’s guns went off like one shot. Tucci and Lombardo collapsed, each with a bullet in his head.
The only sound that could be heard now was Conrad grappling with Hurtz for the gun. His arm was halfway out the window, while his elbow rested in the door frame.
Hurtz could not get the gun out of his hand and finally pushed down with all his weight. Conrad’s elbow broke backward on the door frame, and he screamed in agony. The gun fell from his hand.
All five of the men looked at each other for an impossibly long moment. Hurtz raised his pistol and aimed it at Conrad. “Just hand over the case. Hand over the #^@%ing case!”
Still clutching the case, Conrad stared directly at him in terror, yet still unwilling to believe that he would shoot him.
Long, tense moments passed by as Hurtz’s hand trembled, and his eyes squinted to near slits. His finger tensed and slacked off over and over again on the trigger, until finally…
Conrad was shot in the head.
Hurtz spun around to see who had shot him. He looked at Mouthpiece in surprise, while the cripple was trembling even more than he was, still holding his smoking gun in front of him. The garage was completely silent.
“What the hell?” said Dyce.
“Bad day,” said McGraw. “#^@% it.”
All five men looked for the source of the sound and saw the elevator light come on.
“Move,” said Hurtz, reaching into the car to grab Conrad’s case. Everyone else piled into the van, and Hurtz got in as Mouthpiece was driving for the exit.
The mood in the van was grim, and everyone was silent. Hurtz popped the clasps on the case and opened it. “Son of a–!,” said Hurtz.
Everyone looked in the case. It was filled with cash on one side, while the other side was filled with bags of heroin.
Back at the outdoor theatre just outside of Verona, Wolfgang Hurtz and the others stood in silhouette in front of the lights of an oncoming car in the distance. Red McGraw began loading a gun.
“What are you doing?” asked Hurtz.
“What does it look like?” replied McGraw. “I’m going to kill him.”
Hurtz shook his head. “We did it your way. Now I’ll deal with him.”
“You gonna kill him?” asked McGraw.
“I’m going to deal with him.”
The car, Petulengro’s escort Mercedes-Benz, was now in front of them, and its horn let out three short blasts. The Gypsy himself came around from behind the car on his Harley-Davidson, then got off the bike, trying to hide a faint smile. McGraw threw Conrad’s case on the ground in front of him.
“What the #^@% is this, Petulengro?” he shouted. “Some kind of April Fool’s prank?”
“Get a grip — I didn’t know,” the Gypsy fence said calmly.
“You didn’t know,” repeated Hurtz, just as calmly.
Petulengro said, “The job got thrown to me by this lawyer.”
“Who is he?” demanded Hurtz.
“Some Englishman,” explained the Gypsy. “He’s a middle-man for somebody. He doesn’t say, and I don’t ask.”
“We want to meet him,” said Hurtz.
“That’s funny,” Petulengro said. “He wants to meet you. He called last night and asked me to set it up. What do I tell him?”
“OK,” said Hurtz. “Tell him we’ll meet.”
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it,” said McGraw as Hurtz held him back. “One more thing, tough guy. Any more surprises, and I’m gonna kill you.”
“You’re such a bad-@$$, McGraw,” said the Gypsy. “But do me a favor, all right? Get the #^@% off my tip.”
McGraw lunged for Petulengro. The Mercedes-Benz doors instantly popped open, and several rifle barrels came into view from within. Dickie Stanton and Denny Dyce drew guns, aiming at the Mercedes-Benz, while Hurtz and Mouthpiece grabbed McGraw and held him back.
The Gypsy got on his Harley-Davidson, smiling defiantly. “Real shame about Conrad getting whacked,” he said, looking back. “Lots of cops looking for the guys that did it. I’m sure they’ll get around to asking me.” He started his bike. “You have a sweet night, ladies.”
“#^@% you!” McGraw shouted.
Petulengro drove off. The Mercedes-Benz waited until he was completely out of sight before following.
Polizia de Stato headquarters, Venice, Italy, Friday, April 25, 1986 — present day:
Count Helmut von Stauffen, the Black Knight of the SS, stopped and considered Mouthpiece’s account of the events. “So this lawyer…”
“Shillington,” said Mouthpiece.
“Came from Petulengro.”
“And why leave this out when you talked to the prosecutor?” asked von Stauffen.
There was a knock at the door, and Captain Benedict Tarantino stuck his head into his office. “Someone to see you, Herr Count.”
Von Stauffen stepped out into the hall, shutting the door behind him. He smiled instantly, recognizing the man standing with Tarantino. “Torpedo. What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” said the Red Torpedo to his sponsor in the SS. “Are you still after the opium that disappeared from that blood bath in the harbor?”
“Well, you can stop looking,” said the Torpedo. “There was no opium. I’ve been at the hospital with a man they pulled out of a drainpipe in Venice yesterday after the shoot-out. He awoke this morning and began talking. He was part of a Hungarian mob there to do a deal with several men from Afghanistan. He says it was definitely not a drug deal.”
“There was ninety-one million–” began von Stauffen.
“We know, but our man insists there were no drugs,” interrupted the Torpedo. “This Hungarian tells me the whole group was going home to Afghanistan the next day. They had no time to negotiate that kind of product and no means to move it.”
“What was the money for?” asked the Count.
“He didn’t know. No one doing the deal knew except a few key people. This guy says they were real hush about it. Whatever it was, it was highly sensitive.”
“I don’t understand,” said von Stauffen.
“They tell me you have the cripple from Hamburg in there,” said the Red Torpedo. “Has he mentioned Baron Povalsky?”
The Red Torpedo grinned. “Just bear with me here…”
Moments, later, the door to Tarantino’s office burst open, and Count von Stauffen shouted, “Who is Baron Povalsky?”
Mouthpiece looked up in shock, dropping his cigarette and trembling at the mere mention of the name. “Aw, #^@%!”