EXT. NEW YORK CITY SKYLINE (CIRCA 1920)We start out by seeing a radiant sunset on a fairly newStatue of Liberty circa 1920. JOHN (V.O.) You know, New York’s not the worst place to grow up.John swings a wooden baseball bat swiftly at a man tied upin a chair. JOHN (V.O.) (CONT’D) It has its ups and downs just like any other city on Earth.The man in the chair is wearing a white dress shirt andbrown slacks, accompanied by brown suspenders. The man’sinjured and bloody face raises up and stares at the camera JOHN (V.O.) (CONT’D) Just... In Brooklyn... There are more downs.The baseball bat quickly connects with the tied up man’stemple. The force of the swing knocks the chair over, alongwith the man bound to it.EXT. ELLIS ISLAND - MID DAY (1905)A large ship is docked at Ellis Island. Thousands ofimmigrants of all cultures are being checked in by uniformedpolice officers. (cut to) A family steps off of the boat.The FATHER is tall, bearded, and holding a medium sized bagfilled with most of the family’s belongings. The son isaround the age of six and holding a suit case next to theshort, frail MOTHER. Next to the side of the boy is hisSISTER of the same age.INT. SMALL TENEMENT ROOMThe two bedroom apartment is borderline filthy, yet quaint,as if the Mother had tried her hardest at making squalor aparadise. The children are in the lukewarm bathtub listeningto the ferocious arguing of a frightened Mother and adrunken Father. MOTHER We can’t raise two children on a railroad workers salary when it’s being spent on whiskey every night.
2.The drunken Father slaps the sturdy, yet scared, mother.Stumbling out the door, the father takes a shot of whiskeyout of the bottle and then slams the door. The mother checkson the children in the rickety bathtub. The children areun-phased by the incident.EXT. BROOKLYN STREETS (1915)A man is shouting in Yiddish as he chases FOUR TEENAGE BOYSgrinning teenage boys out of his store. The boys are runningas if they were being chased by rabid wolves. JOHN (V.O.) Eddie, Richard, Will, and me were always getting into shit. Partially because we had to, but mostly because we liked to. If you’re going to steal five dollars worth of merchandise, you might as well take the money out of the drawer, too.The four boys are seen smoking cigarettes in a dirty, dampalley in mid-day, admiring the twenty five dollars theyrobbed the immigrant shop keeper for. JOHN (V.O.) (CONT’D) We all grew up with the same upbringing really. Eddie never knew who his dad was and his mother was a whore just trying to support her four kids. Richard’s father was always a good guy. Just a modest tailor trying to make a living. His wife ended up cheating on him when Richard was eight, so it’s always been just him and his dad. Will is a run-of-the-mill Brooklyn hoodlum wanting to raise hell. I’ve just kind of... Well... just been here I guess.The four boys start moderatley strolling down the alley. Theboy on the left flicks his cigarette into a puddle as theyall continue walking. EDDIE So, what are gonna do today? RICHARD I haven’t the slightest idea. I’m tired of stealing cigarettes and soda from every vendor in town. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 3. WILL But... Since that’s all there is to do...The four boys take off sprinting down the road.INT. BUTCHER SHOP IN BROOKLYNAs the four boys approach the Jewish-owned butcher, theyglare at the deli-cuts and fresh cut steaks presentingthemselves in the storefront, up for grabs. The boys walkinto the store to act as if they are browsing. While theyscan the aisles and walls, they catch a glimpse of three menin the back; the portly, balding store owner, a stocky manin a dark blue suit and tie, and a man with a black trenchcoat and a black bowler hat on. The stocky man approachesthe seated store owner. JOHN What do you think is going on back there? EDDIE A pair of guys in suits is never a good thing... WILL I’m going to try to get closer!Will starts to creep through the aisles, as if he were alion stalking prey. As he approaches the doorway into theback room where the men are speaking, a THUD permeates fromthe back. RICHARD Shit!The four boys bolt from the butcher shop with nothing inhand. While sprinting out of the store, John catches aglimpse of the store owner who is now a corpse lying faredown on a table. A bloody ice pick protrudes from the top ofhis skull.EXT. BROOKLYN STREETSThe Four Boys are winded with their hearts racing attemptingto catch their breaths a few blocks from the butcher shop. WILL What the fuck just happened back there? (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 4. EDDIE I don’t know and I really don’t want to know. They had fucking suits on! JOHN Maybe we should just leave it be...The Four Boys continue to walk down the alley smokingcigarettes, trying to grasp what they had just seen.INT. JOHN AND HIS SISTERS BEDROOM - NIGHTJohn tosses and turns as he listens to the muffled sounds ofarguing coming from the kitchen. JOHN (V.O.) That never bothered me... My Father hitting my Mother like that. I guess because I was used to it. I know he loved her, we all have problems though. After I saw that dead guy, I started to get used to that too.EXT. BROOKLYN STREETS - WINTERThe unfinished New York streets are covered in a freshblanket of snow as John treks down the road in little morethan a pair of slacks, a brown button up shirt, a pair ofsuspenders, and a brown tweed cap. As John walks down theroad, a black Rolls Royce steadily creeps by his side with asharp-looking older man in the back seat, clad in all black.The man speaks with an odd dialect, but he speaks Englishwell nonetheless. Z’EV Going anywhere in particular?John hesitantly raises his head to examine theunrecognizable figure in the back seat. As his head raises,he instantly makes out the figure in the back seat of thecar. It is the man, who months prior, ordered the killing ofthe butcher shop owner. JOHN I’m not really certain, sir. Just walking aimlessly I suppose. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 5. Z’EV You can get in the car, that is, if you feel so inclined.Remembering the atrocity the man had committed monthsearlier, John feels hesitant to enter the car. As Johnstares at the man for a few seconds, he feels drawn in tothe car and acts on his impulse.INT. Z’EV’S ROLLS ROYCEAs John enters the car, he’s greeted by an eerie presence.The driver of the automobile is dressed in a black suit witha white dress shirt and black tie, accompanied by a blackdriver’s cap and black driving gloves. The driver gentlysteps on the gas peddle and smoothly accelerates down thestreet. Z’EV Have you lived in Brooklyn your whole life, son? JOHN Well, sir, since as long as I can remember. My family moved here from Poland when I was young. New York is the only place I’ve ever recalled living. Z’EV Do you enjoy this bustling city? JOHN For the most part... Z’EV Even in the company of a pathetic mother, an alcoholic father?John gives a puzzled, yet threatening, glance at Z’EV as theolder man takes a drag from a freshly lit cigarette. Z’EVcalmly gazes out out of the window while smoking hiscigarette. Z’EV You are wondering why I know you and you do not know me. How you saw my associate here (points to the driver) have complete disregard for another man’s life.Z’EV slowly takes a drag from his cigarette. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 6. Z’EV (CONT’D) You are probably also wondering who I am and why I am talking to you, yes? JOHN I suppose. Z’EV John, I am the oil that makes this machine known as Brooklyn operate smoothly. I make it possible for you and your friends to parade around these streets without getting your fucking balls smashed by every WOP and drunken Irishman this city. What you saw at that butcher shop was not a vulgar display of power, it was business. That is how a Jew has to run his business, for if he doesn’t, he’ll be seen as just another number stepping off of a boat. Do you understand? JOHN I believe so, sir. Z’EV Much like any other expanding venture, a savvy business owner must be able to trust his management. If need be, he must be able to trust his management with not only the company itself, but the integrity of that company. Do you understand? JOHN Yes, sir. But, what are you getting at? Z’EV Honestly, John, I’ve been waiting to have my accomplice here take a hatchet and butcher you and your family much like that dead butcher’s line of work. Fortunately, you or your friends said nothing to the police, therefore, your father lives to drink another pint and your mother lives to make another meal, and I have a potential employee. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 7.John starts to grow more frightened as the automobilesteadily moves through the snowy streets of Brooklyn. JOHN I don’t know if I can help you, sir... Z’EV You really don’t have a choice, John. What are you and your friends going to do? Go home every night to your dysfunctional parents who have already failed at chasing the American Dream? Or would you prefer to stop chasing the dream and start living the dream?The Rolls Royce glides to the front of John’s small tenementwhere his family resides. Z’ev is still smoking a cigaretteas John exits the car. As the Rolls Royce drives off, Johnis standing outside of his tenement building, contemplatinghis new business proposition.EXT. BROOKLYN STREETS - DAYS LATER (NIGHT)The Four Boys are seen walking down a snow-covered alleysmoking cigarettes. All of the boys are wearing minimal,tattered winter clothing, almost forcing themselves tobecome warm. Will finds a worn down metal trash can in thealley and swiftly throws a sparked match in it. The trashcan bursts into flames, creating an makeshift fireplace. RICHARD We need some money. WILL No shit we need some money. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be using a trash can as a fireplace! EDDIE A trash can that smells like shit anyway.Eddie peers down into the trash can. Amongst the burningembers of old newspapers and a week’s worth of trashaccumulation is a thick black mass. While still peering intothe trash can, Eddie grabs a nearby metal pole and begins toturn the fire. The black mass that Eddie saw previously isfinally turned to the top of the fire, revealing the remainsof a decaying feline. The boys continue to stay huddled nextto the fire, ignoring the animal that was rotated to thetop. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 8. RICHARD Why don’t we just get jobs? Lenny Wozniak is hiring shoe shiners at his tailor shop. Maybe he could find something for us to do. WILL Do you really think Mr. Wozniak is going to hire us to do anything? Ever since Eddie pulled that stunt at St. Michael’s, we won’t be able to get jobs until we either move or everybody that knows who we are dies. JOHN (V.O.) Last summer, Eddie told father O’Malley that he was converting and becoming Catholic, but he wanted to become an altar boy just to be sure. O’Malley should have known better. About two weeks after Eddie was enrolled, he left during the middle of Sunday mass with about fifteen dollars in donation money and a new lease on life... Until the fifteen dollars were gone. EDDIE Yeah, yeah. At least I got away with more than a pair of handcuffs or a pack of Lucky Strikes. WILL Well, Fu... JOHN How bad do you fellas want to get paid? RICHARD I’m confident that if I don’t get a new pair of shoes, my goddamn toe might fall off.Richard points down to his hole-ridden boots. There is atorn space between the soles and tops of his shoes,revealing the black and decaying reminance of what used tobe Richard’s pinky toe. JOHN I’m not really sure what we have to do, but I’m certain we’ll get a (MORE) (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 9. JOHN (cont’d) good chunk of change. Just depends on if you guys are willing. WILL You mean desperate enough. JOHN Same thing I guess.Huddled around the fire, the Four Boys look at each other incontemplation as they internally debate their next, andpossibly last, "business venture". EDDIE Fuck it!Eddie gives the trash can a firm kick, and the barrel BANGSto the ground, releasing an onslaught of hot coals into thesea of snow onto the ground. The Four Boys give each other amenacing glare and walk down the alley back to their homes,taking Eddie’s actions as confirmation of their next unknownendeavor.INT. BROOKLYN PUB - THE NEXT DAYJohn hesitantly walks into the local pub where most of thetown’s WORKERS migrate after endless hours of low paying,grueling labor. As music emits from a record player in thecorner of the pub, John is welcomed by depressed, melancholyglares from the WORKERS. As John scans the bar, he lockseyes with the man he met days ago in the black Rolls Royce.Z’ev, dressed in all black and accompanied by his driver,motions John over to a table in the corner of the room. Johnawkwardly makes his way to the table and is welcomed by aneerie, yet calm, presence. Z’EV Sit down, John. Would you like a drink? JOHN Please.Z’ev grabs the BARTENDER’S attention and points to hissipping glass of whiskey. The BARTENDER brings John asipping glass half full of whiskey and then silently leavesthe table’s presence. Z’ev pulls a pack of cigarettes fromhis jacket pocket and slowly lights one. He then offers acigarette to John, which he accepts. Z’ev’s associateremoves a golden lighter from his jacket pocket and calmlylights John’s cigarette. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 10. Z’EV I’m assuming that you are here to accept the offer that I proposed to you a few days ago? JOHN Yes sir. Just... I was curious about the details of this endeavor sir... Z’EV Endeavors. JOHN Pardon? Z’EV Endeavors, John. I can’t just hire for one job and then let you be on your way. I’m going to need your full cooperation on multiple inquiries.John nervously takes a sip from his drinking glass, steadilyshaking as he handles the glass. Z’EV (CONT’D) When you promise to fulfill the jobs I ask of you, you make a promise to not only me and my family, but to everybody that lives in this shit hole. JOHN I know sir. I was just curious to if my friends could help is all...Z’ev takes a sip of his whiskey, pondering if he shouldallow the four teenagers into his tight-knit circle offugitives and felons. JOHN (V.O.) Everybody in Brooklyn at the time knew who Z’ev was and what he did, any immigrant from eastern Europe anyway. If you wanted to make a quick dollar, and didn’t mind doing it illegally, you worked for Z’ev. Everybody wanted what he had, and what he could offer.After a moment of thought, Z’ev pulls another cigarette outof the pack in his jacket. his accomplice reveals the goldlighter again and lights his boss’s cigarette. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 11. Z’EV Alright. However, John, you and I both know I’m not a fan of being fucked with. We also both know what will happen if you and your friends were to devulge any information to the police. In case you don’t know, you and your families will be eloquently introduced to my business partners. Remember, these are men with nothing to lose. JOHN I understand sir. I appreciate the opportunity. Z’EV I remain completely anonymous though. Your friends will have no idea that I am the channel through which you are receiving this money.Z’ev motions to his accomplice for a black leather billfoldtucked neatly away in the driver’s jacket pocket. Z’evcalmly extracts four twenty dollar bills from the wallet andsets them on the table in front of John. Z’EV I appreciate the help, John.EXT. HARBOR - THE NEXT DAY (MID-DAY)The four teenagers are seen sitting on the docks at thefreight-covered harbor. Will is impatiently pacing back andforth, trying not to let stress or boredom influence him.Richard and Eddie are sitting near the water with their feethanging over the edge of the dock, skipping rocks as theyfall further into boredom. John is gazing upon the Statue ofLiberty, reminiscing on what he can remember of themonumental day his family moved from Eastern Europe toAmerica, what then seemed like a land of opportunity andenjoyment, but now is evidently the opposite. JOHN I found us some jobs.Will stops pacing as a glimmer of hope starts to irradiatefrom his vissage. Richard and Eddie instantly stop skippingrocks and glance over at John. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 12. WILL If you’re fuckin’ with me I’m gonna drown you...John slowly removes the four twenty dollar bills he receivedfrom Z’ev out of his pocket. RICHARD Where the hell did you get that!John walks over to his three companions and hands them eacha twenty dollar bill. All four of the boys glow withexcitement, until Will’s happiness suddenly turns todisdain. WILL Uh, where did you get this much money? EDDIE And how the hell did you get it? RICHARD And where can we get more? JOHN What is this? Some sort of fucking police interrigation? Do you want to know what hand I use to jerk off with too? WILL We appreciate it John, really, but where did this come from? JOHN Alright.John nervously rubs the back of his neck. Three friends areanxious to hear John’s response, but repress the urge topressure him. After a few seconds of silence, John finallygains the courage to inform his friends of the fiasco theyhave entered. JOHN (CONT’D) I can’t tell you who its from, but I can tell you that whatever we have to do, its not legal. RICHARD No shit. Shoe shiners don’t get paid in twenty dollar bills. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 13. JOHN With that being said, I need to know if you guys want to be involved, and most importantly, want to get some more of this money. EDDIE I’m in. No question. RICHARD Yeah.John, Richard, and Eddie all glance at Will, who possesses alook of worry and uncertainty on his face. WILL I have to think about it... JOHN There is no thinking about it, Will. Either you’re in or out. Rich or back to being fucking broke again. That twenty dollars won’t last you but two weeks.Will continues to ponder his situation. After a minute ofthought, Will expells a SIGH. WILL Alright. I’ll do it, I guess. This better not be fucked up John...INT. JOHN AND HIS SISTERS BEDROOM - NIGHTLying in his bed, with a streak of moonlight penetrating hiswindow onto his face, John contemplates the situation himand his friends have just come upon. He glances over at hissister, who is soundly sleeping in the bed next to him. Thecommotion from his parents’ arguing just recently died down,and he can hear the sound of his mother cleaning up brokenglass. John looks around his room, contemplating if he wouldeven miss his family and the way he was living. After thesound of his mother’s cleaning has subsided, John slowlygets to his feet, trying not to wake his sister. JOHN’S SISTER John? JOHN Its just me. Go back to bed. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 14. JOHNS SISTER What are you doing? JOHN Nothing. I’m getting up to get some water.With no questions of his integrity, John’s sister closes hereyes, silently going back to bed. John then quietly puts histrousers and jacket on. Looking at his sister with one lastsilent goodbye, he hastily makes his way out of the tenemantbuilding.