EXT – DAY. HOBOKEN, NJ. – 1975. BROWNSTONE BLDGS ON BOTH SIDES OF NARROW STREET – VERY WARM WEATHER MICHAEL DORAN sits on his porch reading the paper, drinking coffee. He’s young, clean-cut. His eight-year old daughter, JENNY, comes onto the porch in her pajamas.
Michael strokes Jenny’s hair. She falls into his arms to hug him.
How about a doughnut?
Yeah! Did you get jelly?
Michael hands the bag to Jenny. She rummages through and finds a jelly doughnut.
And here’s an orange juice and a milk. Try and finish these, OK? (Michael emphasizes the OJ and milk)
She nods her head. Jenny adores her dad. She does not want the juice and milk, but she wants to please her dad. From the next house, JOSEPH MESSINA comes out and stands in the doorway. He’s late-fifties, casually but sharply dressed.
‘Mornin’, Michael. Mornin’, Jenny. Beautiful day, ain’t it?
That it is, Joseph…
Good morning, Joe.
(gently to Jenny)
Jenny looks confused.
I’m sorry, Mike. I told her to call me Joe.
Oh…OK. I’m sorry.
He smiles at Jenny, who smiles back with a funny face. She sits and eats the doughnut, plays with the jelly, licking it oddly like children do. Joe and Michael are small talking off camera.
Now, go get dressed. (He gently grabs her nose and holds it) Tell your sister to come out for a doughnut.
They stand looking lovingly at each other for a beat, then Jenny wiggles free and walks inside.
I bought her and Nina ice cream last night, Michael. I hope you don’t mind. Nina had been keeping an eye on my grandkids all day. When the truck came, yours and mine were all sitting here together.
Oh, no, Joseph, please! That was thoughtful of you.
CUT TO A CADILLAC PULLING UP TO THE HOUSE – CONTINUOUS The MAN on the passenger side gets out. He’s wearing a NICELY CUT SUIT, NO TIE, SUNGLASSES, WELL-GROOMED.
Have a good time in the park.
Messina walks down the steps to the car. Michael tries not to notice the car (he’s minding his own business) Messina gets into the front seat. The other guy gets into the back seat. As car pulls away, Michael looks up at it.
Michael, hey! How are you, kid? When you gonna come work for us, uh?
Michael looks down, crosses STREET, hunches into the cold, and walks up the street away from the waterfront. Joe and Frank watch him walk away
CUT TO MESSINA’S YARD, ONE HOUSE OVER FROM JENNY’S – DAY Many CHILDREN play in the yard, including Jenny. The boys are playing roughly, and Jenny gets knocked down. PAUL MESSINA, TEN-YEARS OLD, stops to help Jenny up. Jenny has a crush on the older boy. She stands, embarrassed, but liking Paul’s attention. Then Jenny turns and walks to the Messina BACK DOOR.
TO KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS – JENNY’S
POV WALKING INTO KITCHEN
THERESA MESSINA, mid 30’S, tends to a CRYING ONE-YEAR OLD. She looks up to Jenny
Jenny looks sad.
Can I help you for awhile?
Theresa smiles warmly at Jenny.
Of course! Here - you undo this knot in MICHAEL’S shoe, and I’ll finish the pink lemonade I was making for you guys.
Jenny begins helping Michael. Michael likes Jenny, and soon stops crying as she plays with him. She’s ducking under the table and popping up, making Michael laugh. Jenny gets the knot undone, then ties his shoe. Jenny hugs Michael off the table.
OK, I’m gonna chase you. You’d better run!
Michael moves his feet confusedly, beside himself with excitement. Theresa is smiling, but then looks at Jenny intently.
(smiling at Jenny, says very softly)
Thank you, honey.
NEIGHBORHOOD BAR – DAY Michael walks into the bar. There’s six or seven people sitting. He walks up to the bar. The bartender greets him.
Michael. What can I get you?
How are you, Mark? Six Guinness.
The bartender walks to a COOLER, pulls out a SIX-PACK OF GUINESS, and puts it in a PAPER BAG. He walks back to Michael. Michael lays some money on the bar.
Have a drink, Michael?
No, thanks, Errol. My girls have dinner waitin’ for me
Don’t you be givin’ those young ones beer with dinner, Michael.
Oh, no, James. I don’t want them drinking until they’re driving.
Now that’s not funny, dick head. Hey, can I talk to you for a second? (They move to a part of the bar where no one sits). This is none of my business, and I’ll only say it to you this one time. But the heat is really coming down on your neighbors. Tommy Richards was in here last night, and he was saying the Feds are fully in control. State RICO is not calling the shots anymore.
Michael is listening, head down, poised to leave. When the bartender finishes, Michael waits a beat.
Mark, you can’t believe everything you hear.
Mark looks angrily at Michael. Then he puts out his hand to shake. He’s PASSING A PIECE OF PAPER to Michael that he wants no one else to see. Michael palms it, then shoves his hand in his pocket.
Thanks, Mark. I’ll see you.
CUT TO STREET OUTSIDE BAR – DAY – CONTINUOUS Michael gets outside and doesn’t look at the note. He walks down the street.
CUT TO DORAN KITCHEN – DAY – MINUTES LATER - Michael closes the door of the apartment and puts the bag down. He immediately reads what Mark gave him. It’s a BUSINESS CARD. On the BACK, it says, IN HANDWRITING, “THIS GUY’S BEEN SNOOPING AROUND.” On the OTHER SIDE, the card reads, “ROBERT BACHELOR – FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS – RACKETEER INFLUENCED CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS (RICO) UNIT – FEDERAL BUILDING - NEW YORK, NY
TO INT. – DAY - MESSINA DINING ROOM – LATER, SAME DAY
FRANK MESSINA sips espresso at head of dining room TABLE. Theresa sits at other end. Paul, and another child, SEVEN-year old Anthony, sit on one side. Jenny and TWO OTHER GIRLS (FOUR- and SIX-YEARS OLD), sit on the other, finishing dinner. Michael is in a HIGH CHAIR at the corner of the table, BETWEEN Theresa and Jenny
PAULINA (SIX years old)
Mom, can Jenny stay tonight?
No, honey, Mr. Doran is coming home early to take Jenny and Nina to a movie.
(excited – to Jenny)
Can I go, too?
No, Paulina! Mr. Doran hasn’t seen much of Jenny and Nina, so let them spend some time together. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll see Jenny at the parade.
Paulina harumphs, folds her arms, makes a face, and sits back hard in her chair.
Paulina! Knock it off. Jenny sleeps here whenever you want. (softly) Mr. Doran needs her, too, just like I need you.
Paulina’s frown slowly unwinds.
(trying to talk like an adult to the slightly younger Paulina)
My dad needs me now. Tomorrow is one year since my mom died.
Theresa, starting to stand, looks at Jenny, then sadly at Frank. The two older boys, who had been immersed in their own RAUCOUS CONVERSATION, stop for a second and look at Jenny
TO DORAN LIVING ROOM – 1 HOUR LATER.
Michael is having tea with his two daughters, Jenny and NINA, TEN-years old. He’s allowing them to be very formal. His hair is WET, and he’s in stocking feet. He wears a TEE-SHIRT that reads “BHM – 175 YEARS – 1800-1975”
One lump or two?
Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. One lump.
Nina SPOONS a CUBE OF SUGAR into Michael’s tea. Jenny places a TRAY of COOKIES next to him.
(to Nina) Thank you, Ms. Doran. (to Jenny) Thank you, Ms. Doran. Now (opening the newspaper), I’d like to see this Italian film. (Talking mock maturely to the girls) It has subtitles, and it’s about…(Reading the paper) “…post-war monetary policy in Europe and its effects on the working class”
Or …how about…Benji!
TO STREET IN FRONT OF HOUSE – NEXT DAY
Michael is sitting on the porch with newspaper and coffee. He’s wearing St. Pat’s Day green.
TO JENNY’S ROOM – INT – DAY – CONTINUOUS.
Jenny waking up – stretching. She jumps out of bed and looks OUT THE WINDOW down to the porch expectantly, to see if her dad is outside. FROM HER POV on THIRD FLOOR, we see Michael, sitting as before. Joe Messina is talking to him now, across the RAIL between the two porches. She excitedly puts on her SLIPPERS ROBE, and KNIT HAT, and runs out of the room, THROUGH THE APARTMENT, out the apartment door, and down the STAIRS. She almost runs into the OLD NEIGHBOR from the floor below as the neighbor comes around the LANDING with TWO BAGS OF GROCERIES.
You’d better hurry! Your dad’s been down there a long time. I think all those doughnuts are gone.
Jenny looks at the neighbor, a concerned look on Jenny’s face. She keeps running. She’s slipping and sliding in her slippers. She gets to the bottom landing.
– INT – HALLWAY OF APARTMENT BLDG - POV LOOKING AT JENNY
TIRES SCREECH, and a CAR ENGINE REVS LOUDLY. Then, MULTIPLE SHOTS are fired. Jenny jumps with the sound of the shots. She stops. The SCREECHING TIRES and REVVING ENGINE PICK UP AGAIN, then RECEDE as the car gets further away. Jenny slowly walks to the porch.
– EXT – PORCH – JENNY’S POV
Michael is sprawled face down where he sat, BULLET HOLES IN HIS BACK. The lettering on his coat reads IRELAND 32. Joe is also shot. He’s lying on his porch.
– EXT – PORCH AND STREET
Jenny looks wide-eyed and blankly at the scene, as PEOPLE come out from UNDER AND BEHIND CARS. People are running to and from the scene. WINDOWS OPEN in all the brownstones up and down the street – people look out. Some screams and shouts. The neighbor from upstairs comes out, sees what has happened.
Oh my God! Oh God.
She sees Jenny, staring in shock at her father. She’s looks worriedly for more danger, then grabs the child.
Come here, honey. Come inside.
At that moment, Theresa comes running out. She runs down the few stairs to the middle of the porch where he lays
Oh no! Papa!
She bends way over, then lies down and puts her face next to Joe’s. She’s checking to see if he’s alive. She sees Jenny and the neighbor. Jenny is looking blankly over her shoulder at Theresa. Theresa looks at Michael’s body, then looks back at Jenny – anguished.
Next -> Benefactor Part 2