Feb. 13, 1999
Juan Carlos Coto
IN A CENTRE JET, SOMEWHERE NEAR BLUE COVE, DELAWARE we see Sydney, Miss Parker and Broots flying back from Hawaii. Outside, a storm is blowing. Sydney finds it strange that Jarod has left none of his usual clues at his last lair. Miss Parker wants Broots to find out why they haven't landed yet. It seems she is anxious to get back home, but certainly not for professional reasons, since they have temporarily lost Jarod's track. Sydney suspects she has personal reasons, also because he has overheard a phone call she made from Jarod's last lair. He asks who "he" is. Somewhat reluctantly, Miss P. tells Sydney that his name is Thomas and that he's doing some work on her house. When Broots comes back from the cockpit, he tells them they can't land because of the storm, so they have to circle for at least an hour. Miss P. blames Jarod for their situation and is angry when she pictures him down there in the sun.
IN ATLANTIC CITY, AT A PIER somebody splashes a cup of water into Jarod's face. Our hero is not enjoying the sun, but sitting on the edge of the pier, tied up in heavy chains. "Wake up, wise ass" the man's voice says to him "I wouldn't want you to sleep through this. Cause you're going in for a dip". With these words, the man picks up the anchor that is attached to Jarod's chains and throws it into the water. A screaming Jarod is pulled down along with it and quickly sinks to the ground. We hear Jarod's voice commenting the scene [all through the rest of the front-story, Jarod keeps filling in comments, which will be displayed here in italics]
Ever since I was a boy, people have been telling me that I'm special,
that I have a gift, that I could be anything I want to be.
I never guessed I would end up here, in the Atlantic Ocean, as a human anchor.
[The scene changes, showing us a street somewhere in Atlantic City]
But maybe I should start at the beginning.
[The image freezes and the title "The Beginning" appears]
IN THE COMEDY SLOT CASINO IN ATLANTIC CITY, TWO DAYS BEFORE Jarod comes in [still commenting the scene, but I won't write it all down]. He's looking at his red notebook, which contains newspaper articles with several ads saying "Jarod. Meet me at the Comedy Slot Casino Atlantic City. 2/13/99 -8 am". For weeks, Jarod had been trying to track the person who was placing them. It couldn't have been The Centre, that would have been too obvious, but Jarod needed to be careful (that's why he didn't leave any leads in Hawaii). He then spots the source of the ads, it's someone he knows well: Argyle, the man who saved his life in "Amnesia", but then tried to sell him to The Centre. When he walks over to him, Argyle flings his arms around him saying "Jay-Rod", that's what he calls him, "I knew you'd get my message". "What do you want?" Jarod asks unpleasantly. "I want everybody to be happy" Argyle replies. Jarod notices his broken finger and asks about it. "Job hazard" Argyle says. "That would require a job" Jarod replies. Argyle tells him he's in trouble. He owes 5000$ to a loan shark called Sonny Faddis, who will kill him if he doesn't pay him back. "Besides, what's five large between friends?" he says. "You tried to sell me for ten" Jarod reminds him. But Argyle thinks the two of them have a lot in common. They both know what it's like to be alone and what it's like to have nobody to turn to. "You're all I got, Jarod" Argyle says. That seems to weaken Jarod's heart and he decides to help Argyle after all.
I was suddenly face to face with my toughest pretend: Becoming Argyle's friend.
I didn't need forged papers or a fake ID.
Just a lot of patience.
And no common sense.
IN THE JET, Sydney again picks up the conversation about Thomas, while Broots is asleep. Miss Parker tells him that they met a couple of weeks ago and spent some hours together one night, just talking (their "date" in the woods, see "The Assassin"). Miss P. needed to get some work done at her house because of water damage. But there was more...
We see Miss Parker and Thomas in her house, talking about how she got it and that it used to be like a hideaway for her parents. In her closet, where Thomas can't see it, Miss P. takes off her gun and hides it under some sheets. She also tells him that her mother died when she was little. When Thomas suggests changing the color of the wall, making it more bright and cheerful, Miss P. refuses and says she wants it just the way it is now. Her determination makes Thomas smile. He tells her he used to work construction to pay for college and he encountered to kinds of housewives: The "fiddlers", who kept changing their minds and made you replace cabinets after they were already built in, and the "doers" who always made the call, once. Miss Parker is definitely a doer. "I always get what I want" she says smiling.
IN ATLANTIC CITY Jarod has gotten the $5000 from Centre funds, but before paying off the loan shark, Argyle wants to make a stop first. They go into an apartment, which turns out to be his father's place. Thinking he is a burglar, Argyle's father Benny threatens Jarod with a gun until he finds out about the misunderstanding. We learn that Benny believes his son is an architect. We also find out that Benny is a great fan of the Pope and has at least five video tapes of him that he keeps watching. But it seems he has a brain condition and has to take a lot of medication. Jarod now figures out that Argyle borrowed the money from Faddis so he could send his father to Vatican City to see "the big guy". It turns out Benny believes that, thanks to the Pope, his wife lived three years longer than doctors predicted. But Argyle wanted it to be a first class trip, so he gambled with the money and lost it all.
Argyle's heart was in the right place. But as usual, his brain wasn't.
I insisted that we go straight to pay off Faddis.
He insisted on going in alone.
A little quick homework told me that Argyle's loan shark was a man eater,
a short-tempered violent killer, Sonny Faddis. [...]
We see Argyle giving Faddis the money, but then being brought out by his guys (aka "The Africans"), who slam him against the wall and break him another finger, before Jarod comes to the rescue. When Jarod takes care of Argyle's finger, he tells him that he still owes Faddis one last favor, but that he can do it alone. He thanks Jarod for everything he's done and assures him that he will give him the money back as soon as possible. Jarod wants to give him two first class tickets to Vatican City, but Argyle refuses the gift, walks away and sits down on the pier. But when Jarod sees him like this, he feels sorry for him.
Second thoughts can be dangerous.
But it quickly dawned on me that leaving Argyle and "dog" would be like...
well, it would be like leaving two wounded animals in a trap.
It just wasn't in me...
When Argyle gets back into Jarod's car, he shows him a laminated image of the Pope and says he just wants his father to see the "popester" before it's too late...he's dying.
[We flash back, or forward, to Jarod in the water, still struggling to get the chains off]
On my end, things were going...pretty smoothly.
But how was I to know that the middle part of this story would get so messy?
[Back to the story: Jarod and Argyle in the car, the image freezes showing the title "The Middle"]
Faddis had a simple job for Argyle:
Pick up a bag of skimmed casino money from a dumpster.
But something about this was nagging me. Why would Faddis trust Argyle to pick up his money?
After all, Argyle's a guy who named his dog...well..."dog".
No worries, just like Argyle said.
For a second, I believed him.
We see Argyle almost crawling into the dumpster, before Jarod pulls him out and reaches in to get the bag out himself.
A split second.
A man comes up, knocks Argyle down and threatens Jarod with a gun.
I turns out the money didn't belong to Faddis, it belonged to this guy,
who called himself a "Cuban" and called me....something else.
"Little Joe, from Chicago", the Irish looking Cuban says with a very Irish accent, "what makes you think you can come to my town and kill two of my couriers and steal my money?". The "Cuban" obviously wants that money back, but "dog" comes in for help and bites into his foot, which gives Jarod the opportunity to knock the guy out. Argyle grabs dog and they rush to the car, but Argyle goes back to get the bag and is thus shot in the leg by the Cuban.
IN THE CENTRE JET Broots is still sleeping. Sydney asks Miss Parker if Thomas knows where she works.
[Flashback] We see Miss Parker and Thomas enjoying some Asian food. "Corporate Risk Assessment", says Thomas as they end their meal, "sounds like a fancy name for insurance". "Fancy name for stress", she replies and tells him she "assaults problems" for her company. Then she goes into the closet again to take off her gun, but this time Thomas sees it when he cleans up the dishes. He pauses for a second, but then goes on talking as if nothing had happened. He tells her that he thinks there may be another room behind the wall she wants him to fix. But Miss Parker tells him to just cover the wall as they had planned. Then she explains to him that her "company" makes her wear the gun. "Hey, uh, work is work" Thomas simply says and tells her he'll be finished by Saturday. [Back to the present]
"It's a part of me I wish he hadn't seen" Miss P. tells Sydney. "The gun is something you carry, Parker, it's not what you are" Sydney replies.
IN ATLANTIC CITY Jarod examines Argyle's wound, which turns out to be not that bad. They also have to find out that the bag is not filled with money, but scraps of newspaper.
BACK AT BENNY'S APARTMENT Benny is giving his son an injection of some sedative, when the latter finds a key in his pocket that doesn't belong there. While Argyle is sleeping (too much sedative), Jarod tries to find out where it belongs, but can't find anything. Instead, he finds out that "The Cuban", aka Dennis O'Quinn, is the second biggest loan shark in Atlantic City (after Sonny Faddis). Jarod believes Faddis set Argyle up and must have planted the key on him as well. But why?
When Jarod talks to Argyle's father, he finds out that Benny knows that his son is just pretending to be an architect. It seems that they have a big communication problem.
Jarod then decides to pay a visit to Faddis.
Something told me that I was in the middle of a turf war.
So I put on my best wise guy duds and paid a visit to the clam king.
Mr. Faddis, call me "The Pope".
Jarod asks Faddis why he lent Argyle the 5000$ in the first place, although he knew what kind of person he is, and why he told him to make a pick-up for him. Faddis wants to know where "that little weasel" is. Jarod makes a deal with him to bring Argyle in for 20'000$. Before Jarod leaves, one of Faddis' guys brings him a cigar box that he has just gotten from "Orlani". It's the same name that is printed on the key they found in Argyle's pocket. Orlani turns out to be an Italian restaurant where Faddis keeps a humidor.
I had a feeling that the key - no pun- to this mystery was locked inside a humidor there.
In the meantime, however, Benny has taken the key and gone to Orlani himself. He must have known about it all along. Of course, Benny is caught by "The Africans" when he opens the humidor, but Jarod gets there just in time to stop them from cutting off one of his fingers.
[The image freezes]
I was unarmed. But Sydney always taught me that my brain is my most powerful weapon.
With these words, Jarod grabs the first guy's shoulders and knocks him out using his head. Then he knocks the second guy out and gets Benny out of there, along with the cigar box he found in the humidor.
IN THE JET Miss Parker gets mad because they are still circling. When Sydney asks if she will make it in time to see Thomas, she replies "It probably doesn't matter. Not after the last time".
[Flashback] Miss Parker enters the house and sees Thomas working. Against her will, he has broken a hole into the wall and discovered that there is indeed another room behind it. He pulls out a painting that he found in it. Miss Parker is not pleased at all, she tells Thomas she has to catch a flight to Hawaii in an hour and that she wants the wall back where it was. It turns out she knew about the other room all along, she was the one who put the wall there in the first place. It had been her mother's favorite room, where she used to read to her, tell her stories and braid her hair. Thomas wants to know why she didn't tell him before. "Is that what I'm supposed to do? Just bear my soul to a stranger?" she asks. "Oh...so I'm a stranger, I...figured at least an...acquaintance" Thomas says. "Well, you figured wrong" Miss Parker replies. "Is that what the gun's for, hmm?", he says, "to keep strangers away? I'm guessing your life's filled with' em, starting with her". He points to a picture of her mother. "Put the wall back while I'm gone", is all Miss P. says, "I'll be back Saturday. To give you the check".
[Back to the present]
"I let him go" she tells Sydney in a regretful voice. "Your fix-it man is right, Parker", he replies, "why is everyone a stranger?".
IN ATLANTIC CITY Jarod intervenes an argument between Argyle and his father and tells them both the truth: That Benny went to Orlani because he was trying to help his son, and that Argyle just needed the money to surprise Benny with a trip to the Vatican. And there is something Benny needs to tell Argyle, Jarod says. It turns out, as Jarod had suspected all along, that Benny isn't really dying and that his medication consists merely of sugar pills.
It was the first time both of them had shut up since I'd gotten there.
And I knew where this silence came from.
There was a time when it would have been filled with another voice.
Jarod is talking about Argyle's mother. He tells them that she's gone and can't be replaced, but if they go on like this, they'll lose each other. Father and son hug.
Somewhat later, Jarod takes a look at the cigar box they'd gotten from Orlani. While Jarod thus finds out what Faddis' plan was, Argyle tries to explain his own theory to him (which is of course as far from the truth as it could be). It turns out Faddis had killed two of The Cuban's couriers and stolen his money. Then he framed Argyle for it, claiming he was a criminal called "Little Joe" from Chicago. In the cigar box, he had planted all the clues to indicate that. The Cuban was supposed to find Argyle at the dumpster, kill him, find the key and thus the evidence, so that Faddis would get off scot-free. Jarod also finds The Cuban's couriers: Faddis had chained them up and tossed them into the ocean.
I was planning a similar fate for Faddis.
It kind of became my MO since I escaped The Centre.
Payback. Against the people who think they can step on the little guy.
In this case, one of the littlest guys on the planet.
After Jarod has dived into the ocean and found the couriers, he gets an anchor and chain to start executing his plan. When he comes back to the car, he sees Argyle fumbling around in his Halliburton case. "What are you doing with my case?" Jarod wants to know. It turns out Argyle had borrowed Jarod's picture of his mother to make a laminated copy of it (like his picture of the Pope). "This way she'll always be protected from the elements" he says, "and always close".
Nicest thing anybody ever did for me.
My pretend started out pretending to be Argyle's friend.
I wasn't pretending anymore.
Jarod's plan of getting back at Faddis is then kind of screwed up because Faddis' guys have followed Argyle to the pier.
But Faddis' *goon* had other ideas. Make that goons, plural.
Faddis' guys knock Jarod out, while Argyle escapes.
Unlike his brain, Argyle's feet were working just fine.
As for the goons, well I think you know what they had in mind for me...
IN THE JET Sydney tells Miss Parker not to worry, that things with Thomas will certainly turn out for the best. They finally land, but before Miss Parker gets off the plane, Broots tells her to "go for it". He had been listening to her story the whole time, pretending to be asleep. He tells her to think about the flight they just took. Any second, they could have been a statistic. We shouldn't ever pass up an opportunity, he says.
"Thanks for the tip" Miss Parker replies.
IN ATLANTIC CITY:
Which brings us to the end.
[The image freezes, title "The End" appears]
And with any luck, not my own.
We see the same scene as we have seen at the beginning: Sonny Faddis tosses Jarod into the water.
Faddis had sunk another victim. But that's exactly how I planned it.
From the Africans following Argyle to the camera we had set up to capture the whole thing.
Losing a lock pick, however, wasn't part of the plan.
[Jarod drops the lock pick into the sand at the ground of the ocean]
Thank goodness for my four-legged back up.
[Dog, wearing a read jumper, brings a key that is attached to a small flashlight and Argyle drops it into the water. Jarod frees himself and swims back to the surface]
Faddis had invited the Cuban to celebrate my "long walk off a short pier". [...]
The Cuban wasn't too happy when I told him what Faddis had done.
Neither were the police.
I told them where they could find Faddis, the Cuban's dead couriers, and our video tape.
Jarod locks Faddis into the trunk of his own car and puts the tape on top of it.
AT MISS PARKER'S HOUSE: "Thomas?" Miss Parker says as she enters. She lifts up the plastic sheet that has been covering the part of the room he has worked on. When he answers from behind her "Are you always this punctual?", she turns around and therefore doesn't see that there is a door in the wall that wasn't there before. "The storm. We had to circle" she replies. Then she turns around to take a look at the wall. She pauses in shock when she spots the door Thomas has put in it. "I know you didn't ask for a door", he says, "If you want I could put the wall back up". Miss P. doesn't reply and instead takes out her check book and asks for the price. He says there's no extra charge.
"It's locked now" Thomas then tells her, "but if you wanna open it, you got the option". Miss Parker gives him the check. He's about to leave when she calls him back, whispering "Tommy..." and then in a louder, but broken voice "I shouldn't have lied, it's just......I was...very young when my mother died. And after it happened I just....I, I...I just couldn't bring myself to go into that room. She had a very...painful life and that room was her sanctuary". "No, Parker", Thomas replies, "you were. But you can't remember that. When you closed off that room, you closed off a part of your soul. The part that came from her. Get it back". Miss Parker picks up the key. "I can't do it alone" she says. Thomas offers her his hand. When she grabs it, he kisses hers and they enter the room together.
IN VATICAN CITY Benny and Argyle are talking to the Pope. In Italian, the Pope tells Argyle that "Monsignor Jarod" has told him about him. "Argyle will never forget this, baby" Argyle replies, not understanding a word he said. Then he starts talking to the Pope about the gift shop downstairs, after giving one last thankful look to Jarod, who leaves in a black and red priest robe.