FACULTY OF REASON
A dialogue by Alex Backstrom, 2011
INT. MOVIE THEATRE - AFTERNOON
Three people all mid 30, still in their winter jackets, two men and one woman, sit divided in two rows in the otherwise nearly empty theatre. They are HOPE and FRANK in the front row, GUSTO sits behind them. The lights are dimming and the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs fades in onto the big screen.
INT. UNCLE BOB'S PANCAKE HOUSE – MORNING
Eight men dressed in BLACK SUITS, sit around a table at a breakfast cafe. They are MR. WHITE, MR. PINK, MR. BLUE, MR. BLONDE, MR. ORANGE, MR. BROWN, NICE GUY EDDIE CABOT, and the big boss, JOE CABOT. Most are finished eating and are enjoying coffee and conversation. Joe flips through a small address book. Mr. Pink is telling a long and involved story about Madonna.
INT. MOVIE THEATRE - AFTERNOON
Gusto leans forward and rests both arms on top of the seats in front of him.
Gusto: (whispers) You know, the funniest thing happened to me this morning?
Hope: Oh yeah, what?
Gusto: I remember waking up… only then I suddenly found myself in the kitchen talking to someone who wasn’t there.
Hope: Is that a riddle?
Frank: What did he tell you?
Gusto: That I killed a man last night.
Frank: So? It's a war. People die in wars.
Gusto: We don’t know that yet.
Frank: There are soldiers.
Gusto: It doesn’t have to be a war for soldiers to exist. It doesn’t seem to be any countries fighting, more like people. Don’t think anyone knows anymore, or cares for that matter, all you can do is pick a side and stick with it.
Gusto: War or not, I tortured a guy to death last night. Just thought you should know. Not feeling too excited about it, didn’t know I had it in me… but anything for you guys.
Hope: Was he a bad guy?
Gusto: How the fuck should I know?
Frank: We haven’t established which side is the good or the bad yet. Doesn’t matter. We have orders-
Hope: Orders? We’re doing some pretty awful things over there.
Gusto: If it’s real?
Frank: It’s as real as anything in this place.
Gusto: (smiles) That makes me a murderer.
Frank: Not necessarily, so wipe of that grin will you.
Gusto: (leans back) Okay, I can do serious. How about, have you ever felt like you remember a place but your not sure if it’s your memory or not?
Hope: You mean, like you were someone else?
Gusto: Like a childhood memory, which of them are actually my own, and which of them is only created after someone else had told me about it enough of times, until it started to feel as if it actually happened to me.
Frank: Nothing strange with calling the dream a memory. You remember it, right? So what happened to the guy you killed?
Gusto: We strapped him to a chair. You see we had a plan… it would have been perfect.
Hope: What are you talking about?
Gusto: The machine. Not like anything you’ve ever seen. I designed it, came up with the whole thing. He was the first one to try it out.
Frank: Se he was like your test pilot, and he died?
Gusto: Yes, and we kind of knew he would. I mean it wasn’t intentional but most likely to happen.
Hope: What was your plan?
Gusto: I told the others, how great wouldn’t it be if we could snag one from the other side and take a peek inside.
Hope: You mean, see inside his head? His secrets.
Gusto: Well, that could have been one approach but I had another idea. I literally wanted to see his inside, and for that to be possible I had constructed this machine that would open up his chest with minimum damage and blood-loss.
Hope: Did it work?
Gusto: Depends on how you look at the situation. We did get to see his inside, he even got himself a peek, and it was quite fascinating.
Frank: So the machine didn't kill him?
Frank: So what happened?
Gusto: What do you mean? I told you.
Frank: Well, you said the man died.
Gusto: Yes, of course he did. I mean he got to see his inside. Would you like to go on living after seeing something like that?
Hope: Are we talking metaphors again?
Frank: We never talk metaphors.
Hope: I’m just saying, it seems more like this one tells us more about him (points at Gusto) than about that place.
Frank: Have you ever seen a machine like it before?
Gusto: Not that I know of. It was like a claw, strapped to his chest.
Hope: How come he didn’t bleed to death?
Gusto: Well, the chest wasn’t actually opened, more like skin peeled off and replaced by a sort of window.
Frank: Would you call what you did evil?
Gusto: No, I guess I wouldn’t.
Frank: That’s all I need to know.
Hope: You mean that makes us the good guys?
Gusto: Hey, that only proves that even good guys can do bad things. I don’t need to know which side I’m on I just want to win this thing. What about you Hope?
Hope: Very funny.
Gusto: No really, tell us one of yours. Any new missions lately? Something fun, crazy, unbelievable that happened to you? Like… let’s say, an alien, ever seen one there?
Hope: Once, but it turned out to be my mother.
Frank: (whispers) Give it a rest you two. Been thinking. This machine you built.
Frank: It sounds a lot like the ones at the factory, except there were no replacement parts there.
Hope: What factory?
Frank: You know, the dream I had about the factory where a line of gripping arms grabbed the prisoners and let a polisher peel off their skin, muscles, everything until nothing but the bones was left. I told you that.
Hope: That’s awful. They stripped them of everything? Why?
Frank: I don’t know. Perhaps they need the bones for something.
Hope: Are they working for the other side, the enemy?
Frank: What? No, they’re working for us.
Gusto: My machine was smaller, and it was my design not theirs.
Hope: Of course it was.
Gusto: What is that suppose to mean?
Gusto: (whispers) What is that suppose to mean?
Hope: Just saying, it’s your dream so of course you designed it.
Gusto: What are you talking about? I designed an interrogation machine, that’s it, I didn’t build the whole fucking world. Frank saw the factory, right, the same kind of machines?
Hope: Not the same, but yeah and that was his design.
Frank: We keep seeing the same things, returning to the same places so we’ve already established that we share that place, we need new facts.
Hope: Well, I still haven’t met you there.
Frank: Well it’s not exactly like we run into each other over here either. Let’s say that everything is parallel and we all design a small part.
Gusto: Contributing to the big picture?
Frank: Yes, like here.
Hope: But here we don’t have a General touring the countryside recruiting rookies, training them not only to be the best kind of soldiers-
Gusto: -But the worst kind of humans. Yes, we’ve heard that part. So what do you think about the machine Frank, neat huh?
Frank: Well, the interrogation part was interesting. If they can age like us, have the ability to remember us and have memories of their own, guess they can be killed too.
Gusto: Kind of proved that, didn’t I?
Hope: Sometimes I just wish it all would end.
Gusto: There is no end, no beginning, not there. All you have is your mission.
Hope: Maybe that’s why we keep going back even if a war is going on, maybe we never allow it to end in the first place.
Gusto: So we don’t even want it to end, that’s silly.
Hope: Can’t you see, there we are free to do whatever we want. Perhaps that’s the reason for the war itself, have you ever thought of that?
Frank: What do you mean?
Hope: That there are no other reason for the war than that it gives us the freedom to do whatever we desire, even the reason and opportunity to kill a man. The General did say that becoming the worst kind of human, is freedom.
Frank: Doubt it. We need more details, facts, not ideas. We need to stay for longer sessions. How long do you think you can stretch it? (looks at Hope)
Hope: Fifteen, maybe more. I’ve done eighteen hours once.
Gusto: Tonight? Seven tops, I have work tomorrow.
Frank: You’re working tomorrow?
Gusto: It’s fucking Wednesday, some of us need to survive this place as well. Now let’s shut up and watch this thing before the whole movie is over. The ear scene is coming up.
Hope: Don’t tell us, you favourite?
INT. WAREHOUSE - DAY
...carrying the can of gas. Mr. Blonde POURS the gasoline all over the cop, who's BEGGING him not to do this. Mr. Blonde just sings along with Stealer's Wheel. Mr. Blonde LIGHTS up a match and, while mouthing:
MR. BLONDE "Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you."
He moves the match up to the cop, when a bullet EXPLODES in Mr. Blonde's chest. The HANDHELD camera WHIPS to the right and we see the bloody Mr. Orange FIRING his gun.
We cut back and forth between Mr. Blonde taking BULLET HITS and Mr. Orange emptying his weapon. Mr. Blonde FALLS down dead. Mr. Orange crawls to where the cop is, leaving a bloody trail behind him. When he reaches the cop's feet he looks up at him.
MR. ORANGE (feebly) What's your name?