Authors: Dani Amore
Rocky, sitting on his couch in his grungy apartment, takes off the headset and says in a southern drawl, “No problem, sir, as an officer of the law I am here for you.”
He tosses the headset onto the coffee table and looks at his laptop screen, where he sees Tom in his office, shot from a surveillance camera Rocky secretly installed.
“So that’s how it’s going to be, huh? After all I’ve done for you!”
Rocky slams the laptop shut.
Tom and his family are eating dinner at the kitchen table.
“Now, you are not leaving the table until you eat your broccoli, young lady,” Michelle says to Lisa.
The doorbell rings. Tom gets up and answers the door.
A man and a woman are standing on the step, looking intensely at Tom. He recognizes them from Lisa’s school. They are the parents of Molly.
“What is it? What do you know?” the woman says, without preamble.
Michelle comes out from the kitchen.
“What’s going on?” Michelle says.
Tom looks at Mrs. Fisher, “Yeah, what is going on?” he says.
“Someone called and said you had information about Java. About the kidnappers.”
Tom feels an inkling of dread. “I don’t know anything about that,” Tom says.
Molly steps through the door. There are tears in her eyes.
“Please, Mr. Goddard. Please if you know anything...”
Suddenly, from the basement comes a large woof.
Tom and Michelle look at each other with shock in their eyes.
“What the hell was that?” Michelle says.
Molly Fisher dashes into the house, and runs down the basement stairs. The sound of more barking and a girl squealing with happiness reaches the adults still standing at the front door.
The parents move as a group and go down to the basement. Lisa is standing by a half-door in the basement.
“Oh, there’s nothing in there,” Tom says. “It’s too damp, we closed it off-“
From behind the door a big dog barks.
Mr. Fisher grabs Tom by the shirt front and jacks him up against the wall.
“Listen, you sicko,” Mr. Fisher says.
“Hey!” Michelle says, trying to wedge herself between Tom and the bigger man.
“Shut up, Michelle,” Mrs. Fisher says.
“...open the gosh darn door!” her husband says.
“We’re coming Java!” Molly shouts.
Tom pushes Mr. Fisher away and keys the lock. The door swings open and Java jumps out, happily licking his family.
Inside the room, a bed has been made up for a dog. There are also blankets, bowls, lots of dog crap and piss, and a typewriter with sheets of paper next to it -the same kind used for the ransom note Molly found.
“What the hell?” Tom says just as Mr. Fisher punches him in the back of the head. Tom drops to the floor.
Mrs. Fisher gets in Michelle’s face. “And don’t think we don’t know why! So your daughter could play Tinkerbell! That’s so psychotic!”
“That’s crazy! We had nothing to do with this!” She kneels down next to Tom.
“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer,” Mr. Fisher says, as the three of them leave the basement. They pass Lisa who is standing on the stairs watching, a look of sheer horror on her face. She starts to cry.
Michelle looks helpless, then the confusion turns to anger and she looks down at Tom.
“What have you done?”
Tom arrives at his office holding a small icepack to the back of his head.
He passes his secretary and is about to step into his office when she speaks to him.
“Mr. Straun wants to see you.”
Tom stops. “Now?”
“Right now,” she says.
“No cup of coffee first?”
His secretary shakes her head.
Tom looks for a moment at his office, then turns around and heads back toward the elevator. He goes up one floor to Conrad Straun’s office. Straun is sitting at his desk, leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head, contemplating Tom.
Tom becomes extremely uncomfortable.
The pauses lingers.
Finally, Straun speaks.
“I’m conflicted,” Straun says.
Straun sighs. “On the one hand, I can’t help but admire it all. The depth of planning. The eye for detail. The sheer...balls...of the whole thing. Amazing!”
“You mean, the idea for Dr. Slick?” Tom asks.
Straun shakes his head.
“No, no, no. Ideas like that, good as it was, are a dime a dozen. I’m talking about all the bullshit you pulled to get that corner office.”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” Tom says, but he has a pretty bad feeling that he knows exactly what’s coming.
“Ha! You can’t fool me. You played the part of the innocent, naive, hard working drone to the hilt. But you can’t pull it off now! What do you think I’m a total fucking idiot?”
Straun holds out surveillance photos of Tom re-doing the wiring around the office.
“That’s you putting wiretaps on everyone’s phones in the building.”
Straun holds out more paper.
“These are phone records. The call Kelly got from the fake publisher? The one that made her quit her job and made a straight shot for you to move up? Traced to your cell phone.”
“This is all wrong,” Tom says.
Straun punches a button on his phone.
“I got this message from our IT guy this morning.”
“Yeah, Mr. Straun. I did what you asked and you were right - the pornography on Dylan Sharpe’s computer was sent directly from the office next to his. Tom Goddard’s office. It looked like someone, Goddard, I assume, had overridden Dylan’s computer and had the stuff streaming right on to Dylan’s hard drive. Pretty ingenious actually. Wouldn’t have figured it out if you hadn’t told me where to look.”
Jack hits another button and the message ends.
Tom doesn’t know where to begin, so he sits there, dumbfounded and silent.
“So like I said, I’m conflicted,” Straun continues. “A part of me is impressed. Another part of me is pretty disgusted. I mean I’m all for breaking the rules - but you broke all the rules. Too many for my tastes. You can’t be trusted. So you’re fired. Get out. Immediately.”
A security guard opens the door.
“Come with me, sir,” he says.
Tom stands to leave.
“But I didn’t do it! I was set up!” Tom finally manages to say.
Straun points to the door. “Out!”
The security guard leads Tom out of the elevator into the building’s lobby.
A woman jumps out and before Tom can react, Kelly slaps him across the face.
She slaps him again.
“How could you?”
“Kelly, stop, I didn’t–“
Suddenly, Morgan Wolcott appears behind Kelly. He is dirty and what’s left of his clothes are hanging on him as if they were put on by someone else. His face is slack and his eyes glazed over. He is in total shock. He just looks at Tom, uncomprehending.
“Whipple...Whipple...don’t squeeze...stop squeezing...”
There is silence as everyone tries to understand what Morgan is saying, but then Dylan walks into the group and passes Morgan.
“Whoa, take it easy,” Dylan says to Wolcott and then he sucker punches Tom. Tom falls to the floor, unable to breathe.
Dylan turns to Kelly. “Sorry, but you hit like a girl.”
The security guard steps in and helps Tom to his feet.
“That’s enough! Let this man leave,” the guard says.
“Yeah, get that trash out of here,” Kelly says.
Tom can barely stand as the guard helps him to the door. He looks back. Kelly and Dylan are all looking at him with obvious disgust and hatred.
The guard pushes Tom out the door and shuts the door behind him. Tom is dizzy and feels sick. He walks to his car, feeling like he is completely detached from his body.
He fumbles with his keys and they drop onto the pavement. He bends down to pick them up and feels a knee driven into his back.
A man pulls Tom’s arms behind him and slaps a set of cuffs on him. Tom sees that the man is Chicago cop.
“You’re under arrest.”
“For what?” Tom gasps.
“I haven’t got time to list them all, ass clown. Fraud. Illegal wiretaps. Invasion of privacy. Conspiracy.”
Tom can’t help it. He starts crying like a baby.
“Yeah,” the cop says. “Party’s over, big man.”
Still handcuffed, Tom is slumped at a table in a police interrogation room. There is one light, the table, two chairs, and a mirror.
The cop who arrested Tom is leaning against the wall, smoking.
“My life is over,” Tom says.
The cop exhales a cloud of smoke then pushes off from the wall and sits down across from Tom.
“Listen, you’re definitely lookin’ at some time away. Fraud and conspiracy.
“How long? And where’s my lawyer?”
“A few years and who the fuck knows?”
Tom sits there while the cop fires up another smoke.
“So tell me about Rocky Sutton,” the cop says.
“I already told you. He’s fucking nuts! He’s a success coach I hired-“
“Why’d you hire him?”
“Because I felt like I needed help.”
“What kind of help?”
“I needed an objective third party.”
“Sounds like bullshit psychobabble,” the cop says.
“All right! Christ! I’m not a confident guy! I needed someone smarter and stronger and more assertive to help me.”
“So you hired this whacko.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know he was a whacko.”
“Well, I’ve heard of him,” the cop says, but doesn’t elaborate. “Wait here, I got an idea.”
Tom slumps over on the table.
Tom is standing with his shirt off and a microphone with wire and recorder is duct taped to his chest. The cop is giving him instructions as Tom puts his shirt on.
“You just have to get him to admit anything at all and we got him. Even if he admits to planting the bugs in your office, or even just taking the damn dog.”
“Oh, boy,” Tom says. He is nearly shaking with anxiety.
“Are you up to this?”
“I don’t know,” Tom admits.
“You’re looking at jail if you can’t pin this on Sutton. You realize that, right?”
“You can do it. It’s time you started believing in yourself, anyway, for God’s sake. Who the hell needs a success coach anyway? Just do what you gotta do.”
“You’re probably right,” Tom says.
“That’s the problem today. Too many people look to someone else to solve their problems when all they really need to do is dig down deep and do it themselves.”
“Right,” Tom says. “Dig down deep.”
“Be strong. Be confident. And nail this fucker,” the cop says.
“Nail him,” Tom says, without much confidence.
Tom is sitting at a martini bar with a view of the Chicago River. It’s the dark, moody kind of place where Sinatra can regularly be heard through the sound system.
Tom barely sips from the martini in front of him.
Rocky appears next to him.
He sits down and the bartender immediately sets up a martini in front of him.
“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” Rocky says to Tom.
“We have to talk about what’s happened. I’m in big trouble.”
“You fucked it up, my man. You fucked it ALL up.”
“I did not. It was your–“
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who’s the fuck-up here? Who’s the loser who came crying to me because he couldn’t figure out how to win on his own?”
“You’re a loser, Tom. Always have been, always will be. Big...fucking...loser.”
“Look, you were the one who–“
“Hey, hey, hey! Not here. You wanna really talk, let’s go.”
He guzzles his martini, gets off the bar stool, throws a bill on the bar and leaves.
Tom tosses back the rest of his martini for courage, and then grudgingly follows.
They both get into Rocky’s car.
“So what did you want to say, Tom?”
“It’s your fault. You did all this shit. Bugged the offices, put the porn on Dylan’s computer. And I don’t even want to know what you did to Morgan. You even kidnapped a dog for Christ’s sake! What kind of freak of nature are you?”
“Oh, like you could’ve pulled it off.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You haven’t got the balls.”
“Yeah, right,” Tom says. “Real ballsy what you did.”
“Hey, one of us had to step up to the plate. It sure as hell wasn’t going to be you.”
“So you admit it. You did all that stuff for me.”
“Of course I did. You couldn’t. That’s why you were never going to be a success. You weren’t going anywhere. You didn’t have the nuts to get the job done.”
“No, I wasn’t getting it done because I have a little something called ethics. Unlike you.”
“That’s your fucking problem, Tom. You’ve got such a twisted sense of the way the world works. I’m surprised you even had the balls to come and see me. That’s what guys like you do. You act high and mighty, but when it comes to getting the job done, you call guys like me. Guys with cojones.”
“You’re nothing special. You just do things most people wouldn’t do, because they have morals. It’s easy to be a cheat. It takes guts to be honest.”
“Besides, I know the truth. You’re a loser. I saw where you live. Your whole act is nothing but a sham. A fraud.”
“You followed me?” Rocky asks. For the first time, his voice seems to lack conviction.
“You goddamned right I did! Your fancy office with the golf clubs! It’s all vacant - you never even worked there did you?”
Rocky looks caught off guard for a moment.
“And you don’t have any other clients do you - they all realized you’re a fucking psycho!”
“I know how to win,” Rocky says quietly.
“The fuck you do. You know how to lose. Period.”
In Tom’s excitement and wild gesturing, his shirt has come untucked. Rocky notices it and looks closer. Suddenly he reaches over and rips open Tom’s shirt, revealing the wire.