by Doc Quantum, adapted from The Usual Suspects, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie
A beach near Venice, Wednesday, April 16, 1986 — nine days ago:
The four men stood at a certain deserted spot at the beach at night. Wolfgang Hurtz looked out over the ocean, smoking a cigarette. “What do you want to do with him?”
Red McGraw was kneeling in the sand. Denny Dyce and Alexander “Mouthpiece” Koda stood behind him, staring at something in front of them. It was the body of Dickie Stanton, literally peppered with bullet holes. McGraw seemed to stare through the body, fighting any flicker of emotion.
“I worked five years with Stanton,” said McGraw. “More jobs, more money than I can count.”
“I’m sorry, McGraw,” said Hurtz.
McGraw muttered, “I want to bury him.”
“No time,” Hurtz insisted.
McGraw sprung to his feet, pointing a pistol at Hurtz, who turned to face him, his head raised. He might as well have been pointing a feather-duster. “You will find time,” growled McGraw. “You’re not the only one with debts, man.”
“We don’t have a shovel,” said Hurtz.
“With our hands,” said McGraw.
Everyone then dug into the sand on the deserted beach with their hands, and they were soon up to their waists in the hole they had scooped out. Stanton’s body was a few feet away.
“This is nuts,” said Dyce.
“Dig,” said McGraw.
“This is #^@%ing dry sand, man,” complained Dyce. “When he rots, the fishermen’ll smell him from a hundred yards out.”
“Dig, you #^@%er!”
Dyce could see that McGraw had truly gone over the edge for now. Hurtz gave him a look that said don’t argue.
“Hurtz, we gotta go,” said Dyce. “They’re gonna find him.”
“Dig,” said Hurtz.
“What are we gonna do?” asked Mouthpiece.
“I can run,” said Dyce. “I got no problem with that.”
Hurtz laughed humorlessly. “Shillington doesn’t seem to have a problem with it either.”
“You run,” said McGraw, “and we’re gonna be digging a hole for you, you got that?”
“This ain’t my boy we’re burying,” said Dyce. “I don’t owe anybody. So #^@% you!”
“He was my partner for five years,” McGraw said, his voice raised even louder. “We did more jobs, and I saw more money, than you can ever count, so “#^@% you! ‘Cause now it’s payback!”
“It’s not payback!” shouted Hurtz. “It’s precaution. You want payback? You want to run? I don’t care. I’m going to finish this thing. Not for Stanton, not for anybody else, but for me. This Shillington &@$*#^*$#@ isn’t going to stand over me.” A pause. “All of you can go to hell.”
Wolfgang Hurtz turned and dug furiously in the sand with both hands. Taking a moment, Dyce slowly started to do the same. The four men dug for Stanton, the first one of them to find some rest from this life.
Tarantino’s office, Friday, April 25, 1986 — present day:
Mouthpiece was smoking a cigarette, his good hand shaking badly.
“And after they killed Stanton, nobody would run?” asked Count von Stauffen.
“I wanted to,” said Mouthpiece. “I thought we could make it.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I tried, believe me, but Hurtz wouldn’t have it. It was too far-fetched for him. Hurtz was a grounded guy, ex-police. To the police, the explanation is never that complicated. It’s always simple. There’s no mystery on the street, no arch-criminal behind it all. If you have a dead man and you think his brother did it, you’re going to find out you’re right. Nobody argued with Hurtz. They just set their minds on whacking Shillington.”
A parking lot at night in Verona, Italy, Thursday, April 17, 1986 — eight days ago:
Petulengro’s Harley-Davidson rested on the roof of the Mercedes-Benz in a mangled heap, while the car itself was riddled with bullet holes.
The Gypsy’s dead body had been shoved head-first through a hole in the windshield up to his waist, and he was recognizable only by his trademark boot.
Later that day, in an office building in Verona:
Shillington walked through the front door of a plush office tower, followed by two bodyguards. He headed toward the elevator, failing to notice Denny Dyce a few feet away, reading a newspaper. A wire ran from his ear to his collar.
“He’s coming up,” Dyce said quietly in his microphone.
Red McGraw, Wolfgang Hurtz, and Mouthpiece heard Dyce’s warning on the radio as they stood by the six elevators on the twentieth floor. They looked like servicemen, wearing khaki overalls and tool belts with walkie-talkies. All of the elevators had been propped open and stranded. McGraw moved into one of the elevators, and as the doors closed behind him, he scrambled for the ceiling hatch.
The elevator opened in the lobby. Shillington and his bodyguards got into the elevator, which was empty except for the three men. McGraw had vanished. The lawyer pressed a button, and they were on the way.
Suddenly, the ceiling hatch opened, and McGraw’s arm came out. With two shots from a suppressed pistol, the guards dropped to the floor, dead. Shillington looked up with surprising calm into the barrel.
“Press twenty,” said McGraw, “and do it now.”
The elevator opened on the twentieth floor, and the lawyer was greeted by Hurtz and Mouthpiece. McGraw dropped from the ceiling hatch and pushed him out. Mouthpiece and McGraw grabbed the dead bodies, dragging them out of the elevator and to the next elevator, which had been forced open, revealing an empty shaft.
Hurtz pulled Shillington alongside him and said, “The answer is no.”
“The Baron will be most–”
“Listen to me, &@$*#^*$#@. There is no Baron Povalsky. If you say his name again, I’ll kill you right here.”
“A strange threat, Herr Hurtz. I can only assume that you’ve come here to kill me anyway. Pity about Herr Petulengro.”
“Fair trade for Stanton,” said McGraw. The elevator opened, and Dyce stepped out.
“Ahh, Herr Dyce,” said the lawyer. “Do join us.”
“We know you can get to us, and now you know we can get to you,” said Hurtz. “I’m offering you the chance to call this off.”
“Baron Pov — My employer has made up his mind,” said Shillington. “He does not change it.”
“Neither do we,” said Hurtz.
“You got Stanton,” said McGraw. “You may get more, but you won’t get us all. Not before one of us gets to you.”
“I believe you, Herr McGraw,” replied the lawyer. “I quite sincerely do. You would not have been chosen if you were not so capable, but I cannot make this decision. Whatever you can threaten me with is… ludicrous in comparison to what will be done to me if I do not carry out my orders in full.”
McGraw held his gun to Shillington’s head and whispered in his ear, “Just so you know, I’m the guy. I’m the one that’s gonna get through to you.”
“I am sorry, Herr McGraw.” The lawyer turned back to the other man. “I implore you to believe me, Herr Hurtz. The Baron is very real and very determined.”
“We’ll see,” said Hurtz.
McGraw held his pistol to Shillington’s chin, but the lawyer’s cool eyes never faltered. “Before you do me in,” he said, “you will let me finish my business with Ms. Schneider first, won’t you?”
Hurtz quickly grabbed McGraw’s hand, pulling the gun away before he could shoot. “What did you say?”
“Elsa Schneider,” said Shillington. “She is upstairs in my office for an extradition deposition. I requested she be put on the case personally. She flew out yesterday.” Everyone looked at Hurtz for direction. “No matter. Kill away, Herr McGraw.”
“You’re lying,” said Hurtz.
The men followed Shillington quietly down a dimly lit, oak-lined hallway on the twenty-second floor. Mouthpiece held a small pistol discreetly in the small of Shillington’s back. They came to a glass office foyer, where the English lawyer gestured to a scene through the glass. The men looked into the lobby beyond, where they saw Elsa Schneider talking casually with the receptionist.
As Elsa glanced toward the men in the hall, Hurtz turned quickly on his heels, his back to her as he faced the others. From where she stood, it looked as though Shillington was talking to a group of harmless maintenance men.
They saw a large man dressed very much like the two dead bodyguards they’d left in the hall downstairs. The man noticed Shillington and the others and stood, staring menacingly.
“Ms. Schneider’s escort in Verona,” explained the lawyer. “Never leaves her side for a moment. I thought you’d like to know she was in good hands.”
Hurtz’s mind raced for an alternative, but he could find none. Mouthpiece lowered his gun without being told.
“Get your rest, gentlemen,” said Shillington. “The boat will be ready for you on Friday evening. If I see you or your friends before then, or fail to check in every half hour with that unpleasant-looking man in there, Ms. Schneider will find herself the victim of a gruesome violation before she dies. As indeed will your mother, Herr Dyce. And your Uncle Rolf in Dresden, Herr Koda. I may merely castrate Herr McGraw’s nephew and namesake, Red. Do I make myself clear?”
All of the men surrounded the lawyer, aching to kill him but unable to do anything about it.
“I’ll take care of the dead men downstairs. We’ll add them to the cost of Herr Stanton. Now, if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen.” Shillington walked into the office.
Elsa turned to greet him, and Hurtz slowly turned and watched as they shook hands and began to talk. Shillington said something they could not hear, and Elsa laughed, her back to the window. The lawyer glared over her shoulder at Hurtz, and all the while, the bodyguard watched him. Shillington nodded politely before Hurtz and the others left. Mouthpiece watched for a moment more before following them.
A few hours later, Hurtz, Mouthpiece, Dyce, and McGraw sat in a rented sedan on a road overlooking the harbor in Venice, Italy. Another file from Shillington’s briefcase was laid out on the dashboard. This had a map and a good fifty pages of information in it.
“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Hurtz. “Close quarters, no advance layout, ten men, maybe twenty.”
“Can we stealth these guys?” Dyce asked.
“Doubtful,” replied Hurtz. “With all that opium, they’ll be ready — which brings me to sunny spot number two. Even if one of us gets through and hijacks the boat, we get nothing.”
“And if we wait for the money?” asked McGraw.
“Ten more men at least,” Hurtz replied. “In my opinion, it can’t be done. Anyone who walks into this won’t come out alive.”
“I’m for waiting for the money,” said McGraw.
“Me too,” added Dyce.
“Did you hear what he just said?!” Mouthpiece exclaimed.
“If I’m going in, I want a stake,” said Dyce.
“So do I,” added McGraw. “There’s nothing that can’t be done.”
Mouthpiece was shocked by what he was hearing and looked at Hurtz as if to ask him for his decision. The ex-policeman’s cold stare was all the answer the crippled man needed. He slumped in his seat, resigned to the others. “I just can’t believe we’re just gonna walk into certain death.”
They all suddenly realized the weight of their situation. After a long pause, McGraw finally broke the silence. “News said it’s raining in Hamburg.”
No one knew quite how to respond.