The Stolen Heart of Charles Fontaine

22 Jan

bubblegum

This was a fun one. I’m taking part in the NYC Midnight Shorts competition, and the way they set it up is pretty cool. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to head-to-head screenwriting. All the entrants are split into smaller groups, and then everyone in the group is given three criteria (a location, an object and a genre) they have to use to generate a five page script within forty eight hours. The scripts are scored, and the five people with the most points get to advance to the next round. For this one, the three criteria were:

Location: Interrogation Room

Object: Bubblegum

Genre: Romantic Comedy

My group’s results for the first two challenges are posted here. This one scored pretty good, but it’s the only time I’ve ever had someone call my writing “precious” as a compliment. 

NYC challenge scripts two and three are set to be the next entries in my ongoing “Throw Things Into the Internet Abyss Rather Than Letting Them Rot in Your C-Drive Dungeon” project, which probably needs a punchier title. If it turns out script three was good enough to advance me to the next round, then the fourth is a likely future entry as well. The first part of that project was this thing, which wasn’t written for any particular reason at all, except for the fact that I like things that are snowy and have guns in them. The Stolen Heart of Charles Fontaine contains neither, but I like it anyway.

 I hope that next week I get around to writing an actual bloggy-type-thing, but in the meantime I hope you like these scripty-type-things. Thanks for reading. You’re the coolest. 

INT. POLICE STATION – EARLY MORNING
A dozen VERY SERIOUS MEN march down a long hallway. Some wear police uniforms. Some wear dark suits and earpieces. None of them smile. Perhaps ever.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL:

Their prisoner. MARIE-LOUISE LUIPIN (12). She’s half the height and a third the age of the men, but she’s handcuffed. And from her fearless expression, that suits her just fine.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM ONE
Marie-Louise is sat down and locked to the cold, steel table. A PACK OF BUBBLE GUM is slammed down before her by…

INSPECTOR RIEU (50s). He wears a fussy three piece and a fussier moustache. He takes the girl in with his chessmaster’s eyes as he settles into the chair opposite her and lights a cigarette.

RIEU
Can I get you anything? Tea? Milk?
(beat)
Bubblegum?

MARIE-LOUISE
An attorney.

RIEU
One has been contacted. As have your foster parents. But I’m afraid they’ll be of little use. You were caught red-handed.
(beat)
Do you understand the trouble you’re in?

MARIE-LOUISE
It was bubblegum.

RIEU
It was the King’s bubblegum.

MARIE-LOUISE
How was I supposed to know that?

RIEU
Oh.. The fact it was in the palace…

INT. PALACE – HALLWAY
Two men in the regal uniform of the ROYALE GUARD stand on either side of a wide, ornate door.

RIEU (V.O.)
…under armed guard…

INT. PALACE – KING’S BEDROOM
A KEYPAD on the wall. Someone’s finger presses the ARM key.

RIEU (V.O.)
…behind a state-of-the-art security system…

The bedroom — all darkwood furniture, Persian rugs and golden filigrees — is suddenly alight with RED LASER BEAMS.

THE KING’S BEDSIDE TABLE houses a smooth black LOCKBOX.

RIEU (V.O.)
…in the King’s bedside table.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM ONE
Back with Rieu and Marie-Louise. She shrugs. A beat. He sighs, then stands to leave.

RIEU
Well, I can see that I’ve met my match. Perhaps your accomplice will be easier to defeat.

MARIE-LOUISE
You have Charles?

Damn. A slip. She clams up.

RIEU
Is that his name? We caught him at the train station, just as he was about to make good his escape.

Rieu smiles, bows, and leaves.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM TWO
CHARLES (12), a chubby, moony kid fidgets in his chair, nervously blowing bubbles with his gum. He isn’t handcuffed.

POP. The door opens. Rieu enters, sits, and lights a new cigarette with the butt of the old one.

RIEU
Charles.

Charles coughs his gum onto the table.

RIEU
Your friend told me everything. I’m afraid you’re both going to jail for a very long time.

CHARLES
Very well. Will I be allowed to see my love before my trial?

Weird. Not the reaction Rieu expected.

RIEU
(beat)
And we’ve told your father.

CHARLES
No!

INT. CHARLES’ HOUSE – FLASHBACK
A gross, sticky HAIRBALL sits in the centre of the carpet. CHARLES’ FATHER’S FACE glows a bright, angry red.

INT. LIVING ROOM – FLASHBACK
Charles cuddles a gray, SCOTTISH FOLD KITTEN. His father SNATCHES it away and GROWLS AT IT. He rips off its RATTY CORD COLLAR and throws it in Charles’ face.

EXT. BACK ALLEY – NIGHT – FLASHBACK
Charles’ Father exchanges the kitten with a SHADOWY FIGURE for a huge wad of cash.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM TWO
Back in the present. Rieu glares at Charles.

RIEU
Of course… I could be persuaded to delay him if you were to assist with the investigation. You see, we already know why you stole it…

CHARLES
(reverie)
Yes. An engagement gift. My love knew how I adored bubblegum, and insisted on getting me “the thing I most desired” before we ran away…

RIEU
Naturally. But what we have not determined is how. It seems exceedingly unlikely that a child could break such sophisticated security.

CHARLES
Hah! My love is more sophisticated than any security!
(beat)
You see, the palace is easy enough to enter with a tour group…

INT. PALACE – HALLWAY – FLASHBACK
Marie-Louise STRIKES a match and throws it behind her. The hallway ERUPTS into flames. She instantly begins to cry and run down the hall. The ROYALE GUARD ignore her for the fire.

CHARLES (V.O.)
…any guard is easy enough to elude with a little misdirection…

INT. PALACE – KING’S BEDROOM – FLASHBACK
A KEYPAD on the wall. Marie-Louise dusts it with talc and takes an impression with a small sheet of plastic. She sees which keys have prints on them.

CHARLES (V.O.)
…the security itself is easy enough to defeat, given some foreknowledge of what is important to the King. In this case, the birthday of his beloved cat…

THE ROYAL CAT’S VELVET PILLOW
A chubby, gray, almost-earless cat sits on the pillow with a tiny crown on its head.

CHARLES (V.O.)
…was the only date in his biography that shared the same numbers as the most-used keys on the security pad…

Marie-Louise deactivates the security system. She goes to the bedside LOCKBOX and produces a set of PROFESSIONAL LOCKPICKS.

CHARLES (V.O.)
A simple tumbler lock to pick, and the gum was ours.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM TWO – DAY
Back to present. The old inspector is grinning sarcastically.

RIEU
Of course, she didn’t count on the building going into lockdown on account of the fire.

CHARLES
Didn’t she? I have to say I’m a little disappointed you haven’t recognized the most important detail of the story, Inspector.

RIEU
Humour me.

Charles leans in.

CHARLES
Inspector… My love can pick locks.

All the colour DRAINS from Rieu’s face. He JUMPS to his feet and charges out the door…

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM ONE
Rieu bursts in and finds only empty handcuffs where Marie-Louise once was. Handcuffs and the KING’S BUBBLEGUM.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM TWO
The door yawns aside, revealing a smiling Marie Louise standing behind the door. Charles runs over to embrace her.

INT. TRAIN STATION – LOCKERS – LATER
Charles opens a locker, freeing the KING’S CAT — a Scottish Fold. The same cat his father stole from him. They leave the crown behind.

INT. TRAIN – LATER
Marie-Lousie sit side-by-side on the train, holding hands. She’s reading a newspaper with her free one. Charles absentmindedly scratches the cat on the head.

One thing is different about the cat since we saw it in the castle: the collar. It’s a RATTY, CORDED COLLAR — the one Charles’ father ripped away. And what does the name on it read?

“Bubblegum.”

FADE OUT.

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