Wednesday, April 7, 2010

East Coast - 2

John McFetridge

Here is part two of my pilot for a proposed TV series, East Coast. For part one please go here.

Last week was the teaser, the little bit before the opening credits, and now we’re back from the commercial break with Act I. (Anyone remember those old Quinn Martin Productions like FBI that introduced each section by Act number?)

Moncton, New Brunswick

Sgt. Jerry Northup was standing in font of the dresser in his bedroom putting on his funeral tie. He’d worn it less than a month ago but that funeral was for the eighty-seven year old father of a friend, next door neighbour really, Ray, nice enough guy he barely knew. When Jerry and his wife bought the house in the sub-division five years ago, Jerry told Isobel it would be nice and anonymous, now that he was a detective and didn’t wear a uniform none of the neighbours would ever have to know he was a cop and she’d rolled her eyes at him and he’d said, what? But while they were unloading the truck Ray comes over with a beer in each hand and says, so, can you fix speeding tickets?

Now it was Henry Bergeron’s funeral and Isobel was coming out of the shower wrapped in a towel saying, “His blood alcohol was three times the limit,” and Jerry said he’d be shocked if it was any less than that.

She said, “Kovalchuck said he won’t put that in his report.”

“The least he can do after all those times Henry took care of him.”

Isobel said, “Will it make any difference if he puts it down as ‘Fell asleep while driving,’ as if anyone will think he was sober.”

“He was sober, he had a couple of beers, that’s all.”

“He had a bottle of scotch in his lap.”

Jerry pulled his tie tight, perfect knot, and said, hey, “We’re lucky he didn’t have a cheerleader in his lap.”

Isobel came over to the dresser wearing a nice black dress and looked at Jerry in the mirror and said, “He was a good guy wasn’t he,” and Jerry said, yeah, he was, “Taught me everything I know.”

“Honey, you passed him by years ago, you’ve been teaching him, carrying him. He was the boss in name only and now I guess you’ll really be the boss.”

That surprised him and he said, run the whole narcoics division, “Not at my rank, they’ll bring someone in from out of province,” and Isobel said, you sure, and Jerry said, yeah, “They’ll have to, unless they promote me,” and she stared right at him and he said, “Not gonna happen.”

She said she didn’t care one way or the other, but, “You deserve it,” and Jerry said, “What did Clint Eastwood say? Deserve’s got nothing to do with it,” and she said, “Now do we have to watch Unforgiven again,” and he said, “Have to?”

He was pulling on his suit jacket then, his funeral suit jacket, and Isobel said, “Did you at least get something at your big cross-border drunk,” and Jerry said, yeah, “Edwards got something from a DEA guy.”

“Tell her we can treat it anonymously at the clinic.”

“Nurse Isobel, thanks. Did I ever mention a guy, Mickey Goodwin, busted him selling pot in the playground?”

“He have an older sister Melody, I went to high school with her.”

“I think that’s his mother, was she pregnant then?”

“She dropped out, junior year, could’ve been.”

“Mickey’s trying to move up. We knew he was moving a little coke and some meth but we thought he was buying it from the bikers in Montreal.”

“And he’s not?”

“Well, he is, but here’s the thing, this DEA guy tells Edwards he’s seen little Mickey Goodwin down in Maine, buying from some guys they’re watching but he wasn’t buying enough to make it worthwhile for them to go after him.”

“So now you’re little information exchange is working and you can pick him up.”

“Better than that, we can threaten to tell the Saints in Montreal what he’s doing, scare the shit out of him, get him to work for us and go after bigger fish.”

Isobel looked at her husband and said, wow, “I don’t know if that’s clever or slimy,” and Jerry said, hey, “Always remember, we’re the good guys.”

And walking out of the bedroom Isobel said, “You’ll have to remind me once in a while.”


Portland, Maine

They watched the guy park his beat up minivan in the lot of the Union Station mall and Michaels took a picture of the license plate and said, “Canada’s Ocean Playground, that’s your boy all right,” and Dawson didn’t say anything, watching the guy walk away from the Dollar Store and out through the lot towards the street.

Michaels put the camera down and drove slow, a row over, saying, “This must be some hot cop, got you all the way out here on your day off,” watching the guy walk out to St. John Street and Dawson picked up the camera saying, “This is international relations, we’re talking about co-operating with law enforcement over the world’s longest unprotected border.”

Michaels said, sure we are, “I just hope this one’s not married,” and Dawson said, “I had no idea that chick was married,” and they both watched the guy cross St. John Street and go into Spot Shot Billiards, between a Thai restaurant and the Al-Amin Halaal Market and Dawson said, “Okay, that’s all we need.”

“You don’t want to get him coming out, you’ve got nothing? You can’t get a warrant with that, it’s not even enough to get a wire tap approved.”

“No, I don’t want to spook the local boys, we’re still looking at following them up the chain to Boston, this isn’t really for anything official.”

“Is it for something could come back and bite us in the ass?”

Dawson said, “Don’t you worry about it, you were never here,” and Michaels said, you got that right.


Moncton, New Brunswick

The Loose Moose was packed, every cop in the city, even the ones on duty, and a lot of their friends.

Alphonse Turcotte was standing on the little stage bythe karaoke machine with the microphone in his hand, saying, he was the boss, sure, “But he knew every single man and woman who worked for him, knew every one of them like a friend,” and people murmered agreement and nodded and Alphonse said, “because each and every one of you bailed him out of some kind of trouble,” and every body laughed.

Jerry and Isobel were sitting at a table by off to the side by themselves. It’d been a good funeral, but everybody was anxious to get here, the place where Henry spent so much time and where they could say what they really felt about him, how much they liked him, warts and all.

Alphonse was looking around the room saying, “Who wasn’t working an overnight, didn’t get a call from some woman, come and get your boss?”

Everybody laughed and Alphonse pointed at Jerry and said, “Remember Northup over there, drove around this whole province, an entire eight hour shift looking for the rest stop Henry called him from, some chick kicked him out of the car? Oh yeah, we all went through that shit with Henry.”

Oh yeah, everybody in the bar with their own memories.

“And the truth is,” Alphonse said, “we’ll never get that lucky again. The next boss we get will expect us to do some work,” and the place filled with people saying, no way, and, work, what’s that, and I’d like to see him try.

And Isobel looked at Jerry and said, “Are you going to be a tough boss,” and Jerry said, “I told you, I’m only going to be the boss until they send in someone else,” but he could see Isobel didn’t believe him and he wasn’t sure how she felt about that, maybe she wanted him to be a little more ambitious.

He said, anyway, “Come on, let’s hope not. Imagine if we both have to work overtime? All that pressure, the kids and everything. No, I like it where I am,” and she said, “Where you were, and there’s no going back.”

Jerry looked at her, thinking about it for the first time, that he might actually get the promotion and not knowing how he’d really feel about it. Could be good, but it would be a big change.

And then before he could say anything, Evelyn Edwards was at their table saying, “Sgt. Northup, Mrs. Northup,” and Isobel said, “Doesn’t everyone call you Jerry,” and he said, “See, I’ll never be a real boss.”

Then he looked at Edwards and she said, “So, um, yeah, I heard from Agent Dawson, the DEA guy, and I guess our guy’s on his way, he should be at the border in a few hours.”

“Then I guess you better get down there and meet him.”


“Yeah, you and Leonetti, go tell him.”

Edwards said, yes, sir and rushed off looking very happy about it and Isobel looked at Jerrry and said, “You’re going to like being the boss,” and he said, “I’m not going to be the boss.”

And they looked at each other and neither one was sure.


Calais, Maine – St. Stephen, New Brunswick Border Crossing

Leonetti was sitting behind the wheel of the unmarked car, an Impala of all things, watching a line of cars making their way across the Milltown International Bridge over the St. Croix river.

In the passenger seat Edwards was talking quietly on the phone, saying, “Bangor’s not half way, it’s not even halfway to the border and then I have to drive all the way from Moncton.”

The Impala was parked across the street from the customs offices in the parking lot of a Tim Hortons and, of course, Leonetti and Edwards were drining coffee and eating Timbits.

Leonetti said, “Is that him,” and Edwards looked up at the line of cars and then said into phone, “Dodge Caravan, sort of brown?” Then she looked at Leonetti and said, “Yeah, that’s him.”

“Looks like he’s getting into the longest line.”

Edwards was still one the phone with the DEA agent who’d put the GPS on the minivan in Portland, making her date to get together with him.

Leonetti said, “I wonder if he has a favourite customs agent these days,” and looked sideways at Edwards who was turned away from him now and cupping the phone by her ear, whispering, and he leaned close to her and said, “He’s got some money these days.”

She glanced at him and then whispered into the phone and then ended the call.

“Okay, here he comes, that was quick.”

Leonetti said, yeah, “We’ll look into the customs officer later,” and then followed Mickey Goodwin in his sort of brown Dodge Caravan through St. Stephens and onto Highway One towards Saint John and about fifteen minutes later pulled up beside him and Edwards showed him her badge.

Mickey pulled off on the shoulder of the two lane highway and said, “I wasn’t speeding,” and Edwards said, “I don’t care, pull into that motel right there,” and Mickey said, “What for,” and she said, “Just do it.”

Then she said to Leonetti, “What a moron,” and he said, “Who did you expect to be trying to pull an end run around the Saints, bringing dope into their territory.”

Forty-five minutes later Leonetti opened the door of room #7 and let Sgt. Northup in, saying, “Hey boss.”

Jerry looked at him sideways and then saw Edwards whisper into her phone an dend the call.

Mickey was sitting on the end of the bed watching TV and Jerry walked over saying, “Look at you, you’re all grown up,” and turned it off.

Mickey said, hey, “I was watching that,” and Jerry punched him in the face, knocking him off the bed, blood pouring out of his mouth. Then while Mickey was rolling around on the floor, Jerry walked to the bathroom and came back with a towel and dropped it on him.

Edwards hadn’t moved, sitting there with her mouth open, shocked, looking from Leonetti to Jerry and back.

Then Jerry said, “So, Mickey, on your way back from Portland with a kilo of coke you bought off a guy named Glen in a pool hall. Did you know he bought it off a guy named Hector in Malden, Massachusetts?”

Mickey was still on the floor, holding the blood-soaked towel to his face and Jerry kicked him in the stomach and said, “Well, did you?”

Mickey moved further away, a few inches anywhere, there wan’t much room in the motel room and Jerry said, “No you don’t know shit, do you. Maybe we should rip your van apart, that might be fun. You didn’t just leave the coke on the seat, did you?”

Mickey said, no, but he didn’t say where it was.

Jerry said, So, “We could pick you up for that,” and he looked at Edwards and said, “What would he get for that?”

“Posession with intent to traffic, looking at five to ten at least.”

“Ten years, wow, punk like you, Mickey, you’ll come out wearing a dress, thinking you are a chick you’ll have been screwed so many times. I wonder how long it’ll take you to like it?”

Mickey said, screw you, but his heart really wasn’t in it.

Jerry said, “Some of those guys, those lifers, they might knock your crooked teeth out, make it easier for you to go down on them,” and Mickey just sat on the floor, leaning back against the bed holding the towel to his face.

“Or, you know what,” Jerry said, looking at Edwards and Leonetti and then back at Mickey, “maybe we’ll wait till you drive back up to Montreal and buy another kilo there, bust you with that one.” Then Jerry looked at Edwards and said, “Would he get any more time for that one,” and she said, maybe, “If he still had them both.”

“Or, if we didn’t want to waste time on a trial, maybe we could just tell the guys in Montreal that they aren’t your only supplier. They don’t care about that, do they, they aren’t territorial, are they? They don’t think they’re exclusive, do they?”

Mickey said, “You got nothing, you got no proof,” and Jerry crouched low and looked him right in the eye and said, “Mickey, we’ve got video, we could put it on YouTube.”

“Screw you.”

“There’s no way out for you.”

“Screw you, I’ll do the five.”

“Yeah, it’ll feel like fifty, getting your ass pounded everyday. You get out, you won’t have anything, you’ll be broke, what’ll you do? No one’ll sell you anything, you tried to double-cross the Saints and you got caught way too easy.”

“So why don’t you just bust me?”

“Not good enough, you got yourself in too deep. There’s only one way out now.”

“What’s that?”

“Somebody bigger than you.”

Mickey looked around the room, saw Edwards and Leonetti looking at him like they felt sorry for him and he said, “No way.”

“We'll even front you a little money. Tell the boys in Montreal you can buy four, five kilos a month. Hell, you’ve been moving two, it’s not such a big stretch.”

“I’m not a rat.”

“You get a little higher up in the organization, you feed us enough info and you’ll walk. You might even get enough money to go out to Alberta, get yourself set up with a real job.”

Mickey looked interested, probably more about going to Alberta than a real job and Jerry said, “Or you could head out west and try dealing coke there, we don’t care.”

Mickey said, “No way, there’s no way,” and Jerry said, yeah there is, “It’s the only way.”

Then Jerry stood up and looked at Edwards and then Leonetti and said, “I don’t know, he’s probably too stupid to pull this off, let’s just let the boys in Montreal know what he’s doing, let them take care of him.”

Leonetti said, “Cheaper for us,” and Edwards said, “Would get rid of a dealer in our territory.”

Jerry looked at Mickey and said, “You think you could pull this off?”

“I set these guys up, you’re just going to screw it up anyway.”

“Then what do you care? You’re just going to try and double-cross us, aren’t you?”

Mickey said, no way, and Jerry started walking to towards the door, saying, “Oh yeah, this has success written all over it.” He stopped and looked back at the motel room, Leonetti and Edwards looking so young and eager and Mickey Goodwin sitting on the floor holding the bloody towel to his face and Jerry said, “Okay, set him up, you two are going to run him,” and walked out the door.

(Commercial break)


Dana King said...

Yeah. The characters read like real people, even in such a short excerpt. I get the feeling this is going to end up being too "real" for the big four American networks, but FX might love it, based on what I've seen of "Justified" so far.

Is Canadian TV less puritanical than American television?

John McFetridge said...

We can swear on Canadian TV and even show a little nudity but the good guys are usually earnest to a fault.

We love a shows like The Sopranos and showed it uncut on our biggest network, CTV, but we'd never make a show ourselves with a criminal as a sympathetic character.

Keith Logan said...

I would definitely watch this show! And I think that Canadian tv could do it; CBC did INTELLIGENCE, which certainly had drug dealers as sympathetic main characters.

Since I live in eastern Quebec I dig the down east vibe, and have visited all the locations mentioned so far, which just helps me visual things fairly easily (and accurately). I really hope this show gets a shot somewhere, and stays set in NB and Maine.

John McFetridge said...

Thanks. Yeah, INTELLIGENCE had Ian Tracy as a sympathetic drug dealer. The rest of the cast was very good, too.

You get all kinds of reasons for rejections (though, oddly, almost never is it simply, "I don't like this,") and one of the main ones for this was that CBC already has REPUBLIC OF DOYLE and so people didn't want another maritime show. No matter how many times Newfoundlanders tell you they aren't a maritime province they're an "Atlantic" province ;)

Still, you never know, anything can happen down the road.