Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rough Script for Harlem Shadow

The harlem shadow

Oh Harlem.

Sweet and scintillating, black pearl in the white city.

Our refuge from the terrors of the deep,dark south…

I have become taken with you.

Mystified. Infatuated. Seduced.

To you, I swear eternal love.

And I vow to protect you and your citizens from injustice

And the evil that men do…for I am your shadow.

When night falls, I will be there to watch over you and guide your way.

Action * Soul * Mystery

Two love birds make there way home from a speakeasy.

Their clothing, although trendy and fashionable, is tainted with sweat and alcohol.

The dame has got the looks a guy would kill for. This fella is in seventh heaven for sure.

Her name is Sirena and she’s a gun moll. He’s a reporter for the Sentinel…forgot his name. It’s not relevant at this juncture.

I am the Harlem Shadow, and as I watch my city squirm and writhe throughout the night…these two catch my eye.

This guy is out of his league. She’s spoken for…see? Most underworld figures know that Sirena is Boss Man’s main squeeze.

Who’s Boss Man, you say? Don’t worry about it. He’s a story for another time. Let’s just say he would not appreciate all the public affection his paramour is showing for this square writer from the local rag.

I wait perched in the shadows like a human sized raven…they pass beneath not ever realizing I’m there. This is good. I don’t want to be seen until the last possible moment.

What’s Sirena’s angle? Does the reporter know that she’s nothing but trouble or is he intoxicated and just not care?

“ Nigel…kiss me!” Sirena moans.

“You don’t have to ask me twice, sweetheart.” Nigel pulls her aggressively towards him and plants a rough yet passionate kiss on her full, crimson lips.

Harlem Shadow continues to listen, his tie blowing soundlessly in the wind.

Sirena pulls away for breath…but she still looks delighted like a kid in an amusement park. Feeding the mark’s ego. Fattening him up for the kill.

“What do you say we take this back to my place?” Nigel says with reckless abandon.

Sirena licks her lips slowly…enticingly. Hiking her skirt ever so subtly.

Sirena: No. I can’t wait for that. I want you now.

And then…Nigel allows himself to be lead into a narrow alleyway…by the hand like a child…hypnotized by the sight of a little leg. Plenty of fire escapes though…that will work to my advantage.

Nigel: Sweet Mary mother of Jesus.

Sirena raises her skirt again flashing some dainty camisole that would make most men buckle…but I see for the first time a small gun holster on her saffron thigh. Her intent is clear.

Nigel clumsily allows himself to be wooed by the promise of her mystery and sex appeal. He’s a writer for Harlem’s top newspaper, he knows the deal with this broad…or he should. But like all men, once he starts thinking with the wrong head…he’s caught with his pants down.

Sirena concludes her act by revealing her effeminate yet deadly 38 caliber.

Sirena: Slow down, big boy. You are kind of cute and I don’t want to have to spill your good brains all over the street…it’s been a lot of fun tonight…you and me. But I’ve got business to attend to. Who’s your informant for the stories you’ve been writing about the Harlem Underworld?

Nigel goes limp in more ways than one. He’s been had. He can finally see through the haze. I pull both of my rapid fire revolvers, three meatheads are circling the building headed for the alley. They’ve got rods too. This could get bloody.

Nigel: Awwww. You bitch? I know you’re not that stupid. You kill me and this town goes up in flames. And you and Mister Boss Man…up the river for at least twenty. So pull the trigger…I dare ya? Harlem needs some excitement anyway and if I gotta go I’d rather go out with a bang. But there’s no way in hell I’m giving up my informant.

Sirena smiles and puts the cold steel against the stalwart reporter’s forehead, he loses some of his bravado when he glimpses the twinkle of insanity in her eyes.

Sirena: I’ve put better men in their graves and won’t hesitate after I ask you the second time. Who’s been giving you the dish, Nigel?!

I begin my descent. My suit coat flapping and billowing, I feel powerful and primal…a night creature in pursuit of the oblivious prey. The trio of thugs have arrived in the alley…Nigel still at gunpoint.

Nigel: Squeeze off, ya lousy dame or let me go. Time is wasting. You’re boring me.

One of the three guys is an oversized lummox. His fists are the size of a Christmas Ham but his brain is probably pea sized. I alight quietly on a fire escape ladder just above the fray.

Sirena: Very well then. Let me introduce you to your pall bearers then. The big guy is named Muscle. He’s going to smash your face into hamburger and then break your legs. The handsome one in the middle is Pretty Boy…he’s a doctor of sorts…the kind that specializes in torture. Last but not least…the quiet one, Gravedigger. He’ll be handling your final arrangements. We coulda been friends, Nigel. It’s a shame. I actually liked you.

Sirena fixes her hair and conceals her weapon. A wolf dressed in an angel’s clothing.

She walks off into the night, leaving Nigel with his pants down and in the company of the three hoodlums.

Sirena: Take it from here fellas. I gotta go freshen up for Boss Man.

Muscle smirks, his humor being that of maybe a ten year old, the thought of beating a man in his underwear to a bloody pulp probably amuses him.

Muscle: So you think you’re a tough guy…is that it?

I speak.

HS: Gentlemen. Back away from the square with his pants down and you’ll have no trouble with me…but if any of you so much as lay a hand on him there will be severe repercussions.

The Muscle looks up at me…I can see fear and anger in his beady eyes.

Muscle: Who is this guy? Hey…what are you doing here? Can’t you see we’re conducting business? Pretty Boy…light him up…no witnesses.

The so-called Pretty Boy swings around in my direction with a tommy gun and the rata-tat-tat sound punctuates the night. I leap towards him, taking on a shower of bullets, some of them missing, others shredding my fine suit, but none of them hitting their mark.

When I land, I use a combination of American Boxing Techniques and Judo. I kick Pretty Boy with such force in his chest that he drops his smoking gun and gasps for breath on top of a fetid heap of garbage.

I pounce on him, reverting to street fighting style, my gloved fists are a blur as I deliver a flurry of solid punches to his face and stomach. He’s done for the night.

I turn and Gravedigger has not moved an inch…he stands just out of the reach of the street light…inert…waiting to complete his task. Muscle has Nigel in a chokehold, but he’s terrified. I can smell his fear. His indecision.

Muscle: Wha…What are you? We didn’t do anything to you!

I stand triumphantly over the wilted body of Pretty Boy…I pull my guns out again. One pointed at Gravedigger the other at Muscle.

HS: I am justice dressed in black. You can call me a Prince of Shadows. The patron saint of negroes. I’ll be the bane of the underworld. I will not sleep until Harlem sleeps. You got that? Now let Nigel go. Run and tell your boss the night belongs to me!

Muscle’s childlike face quivers, he pushes Nigel forward, with his rod drawn…pointed at me in a purely defensive manner. He begins to run from the alley but not before he says… “This is war, Mr. Harlem Shadow. Boss Man aint scared of you…he ain’t scared of anybody.”

I look back to see if Gravedigger has anything to say but he’s mysteriously vanished.

It’s just me and the reporter named Nigel.

HS: What’s your last name?

Nigel: Pierce. Its Nigel Pierce. Lead reporter for the Harlem Sentinel. That was amazing. I…thank you. I thought I was a dead man.

I looked deeply into his eyes. My instincts tell me he’s got what it takes. I decide at that moment he will be my partner.

HS: You are a dead man if you continue to let people like this run Harlem. That’s why I’m here. I’m going to take down the Underworld. Make this a safe neighborhood for honest Americans. I need your help. Pull up your pants.

Nigel hastily reaches for his pants…he’s in a state of shock.

Nigel: Why sure…I’ll help in anyway possible.

HS: I need you to continue writing the stories about the crime lords of Harlem. I also need you to report about me. I want you to paint a picture of me that’s frightening, intimidating…I want people to be unsure as to whether I am the hero or the villain.

Nigel wrinkles his brow at this statement. Our first argument.

Nigel: I can do that. But are you sure that’s what you want? What do you have some kinda death wish or something? Harlem needs a hero. Black folks need a hero. You never see those fancy white capes fly through our neighborhoods…and why should they if we’re not ambitious enough to have our own masked vigilantes. I say it’s about time and I say let everyone know you’re a good guy!

HS: Listen to me. I’ve thought this out many times before putting on these duds tonight…trust me. Do what I ask you to do. In return I will protect you from harm and give you the exclusive stories for the paper regarding my exploits and investigations. Do we have a deal?

We shook hands. It was 1930. The next two years would be the wildest years of our lives. Nigel and I would become great friends and men of distinction in the history of Harlem. That night was when the magic began.

I ran off into the shadows…leaping, swinging, climbing up towards the rooftops.

I looked back down and Nigel was still standing there like a bewildered kid.

Nigel: What about this guy?

HS: Let him sleep it off. You never know…tomorrow he may be a changed man.

Nigel: What should I call you…I mean…in the paper? You got a name?

I looked back down at him…for the first time smiling…letting him know that I did have a sense of humor. I was human after all.

HS: You’re the writer…come up with something clever.

He stood there for a few more seconds…but I had to go…I had to work the next day and it was already 3am. In my hasty flight I thought I heard him say… “ The Harlem Shadow.”




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