BACK

BUMZ     60' Alternate pilot episode: bums do good in secret

CHARACTER AGE RELATIONSHIP DISTINCTIVES
Patricia f 40 Mom, manager Smart Insider
Steve    m 40 Dad, cop     Smart Insider
Punky    f 12 Daughter     Cub Reporter
Alyssa   f 13 Daughter     Editor, Insider
Yolanda  f 40 Housekeeper  Smart Insider
Bitzy    f 12 Friend       Cub Reporter
Valerie  f 35 Steve's sis  Faculty

Summary: a high school newspaper uncovers secret society of bums

INT NIGHT CLOSE-UP: SEWER

(Bitsy and Punky, dressed in there pajamas, bathrobes and rubber
boots, climb down the ladder, they whisper)

                             BITSY

It smells like a sewer down here!

                             PUNKY

Maybe that's because it IS a sewer. Keep going.

                             BITSY

Why do I have to go first?

                             PUNKY

Because you're soft and tender. The monster will think you're
delicious.

                             BITSY

I wish you wouldn't talk like that. It's scarey down here. This
was a really bad idea.

                             PUNKY

How else will you get the scoop for the newspaper?

                             BITSY

Big scoop. We're the only newspaper in school.

                             PUNKY

Our readers deserve to know the truth about the monster.

                             BITSY

(turns on tiny flashlight, begins walking)

I wish you wouldn't talk like that! As reporters we must keep an
open mind about our subject. There have been no confirmed
sightings of monsters.

                             PUNKY

(turns on tiny flashlight, begins walking)

How else do you explain the disappearance of all those orphans?

                             BITSY

There is another explanation, you know.

                             PUNKY

Yes, the owner of the orphanage cooked them and ate them!

                             BITSY

I wish you wouldn't talk like that!

(turns, hides behind Punky)

You go first!

                             PUNKY

(turns, faces Bitsy)

You are such a baby! You know all of those stories were just
made up to cover up what's really going on down here!

                             BITSY

What's really going on down here?

                             PUNKY

Well, one thing I'm sure of, it's not a little old lady who eats
children and it's not a monster.

                             BITSY

Maybe it's one of the baby alligators that someone brought back
from Florida and when it got too big, they flushed it down the
toilet.

                             PUNKY

That's just an urban legend, just like the...

(turns, gasps, she's nose to nose with a slimy monster)

                            MONSTER

(deep deep electronically modified voice)

What are you doing down here?! Get out!

BITSY & PUNKY

(scream)


EXT NIGHT WIDE: ABOVE SEWER

(Bitsy and Punky scramble out of storm drain)

                             BITSY

Are you okay?!

                             PUNKY

That was a close one!

                             BITSY

I lost my flash light.

                             PUNKY

Me too. Let's go back down.

                             BITSY

Are you crazy?! Didn't you see that thing?! It was huge!

                             PUNKY

I don't think that thing was real.

                             BITSY

It looked real to me.

                             PUNKY

Come on, let's go.

                             BITSY

No way. I've got to go home. If my mom does a bed check, I'm
grounded for life.

(turns)

                             PUNKY

A good reporter has to take risks.

                             BITSY

(turns)

I've taken all the risks I'm going to take. No thank you.

                             PUNKY

But we don't have our scoop yet.

                             BITSY

How about this headline, "We saw a monster in the sewer."

                             PUNKY

We saw an unconfirmed monster in the sewer. For all we know,
that thing was just a Halloween prop to keep us from discovering
what was REALLY going on down there. Come on. We'll catch them
off guard. They won't expect us to come back after they scared
us away.

                             BITSY

(exiting)

No way. I'm going back to bed before I get grounded.

                             PUNKY

(stoops, looks into drain, exits)

No way I'm going down there alone.


INT MORNING WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER OFFICE

(All girls are dressed in green plaid pleated skirts and white
blouses, some with green blazers. Camera sweeps room and ends up
in front of a desk topped with a sign that says EDITOR. Alyssa
is busy marking up a page with her red pencil. Bitsy and Punky
approach carrying a printed page in eager expectation.)

                             BITSY

We've got a scoop for you, chief!

                             PUNKY

Hot off the presses!

(drops page on top of Alyssa's work)

                            ALYSSA

(deep breath)

I'm sure. Let's have a look.

(picks up page, read briefly)

What's with the by-line? By Lois Lane and Kit Kitridge?!

                             PUNKY

It's a nom de plume.

                             BITSY

That means we're using pen names.

                            ALYSSA

I know what it means. I've taken two years of French. "Monsters
in the Sewer"?! No wonder you don't want anyone to know your
real names!

                             BITSY

(to Punky)

I told you she wouldn't like it.

                             PUNKY

She's just saying that to keep me in my place. She doesn't want
her little sister to outshine her.

                            ALYSSA

Wrong.

(holds up paper)

I'm saying that because this paper is only suitable for the
bottom of a bird cage.

                             PUNKY

How can you say that?! This is a real scoop!

                            ALYSSA

What five questions should every newspaper article answer?

                             BITSY

(pauses)

Wait a minute. I know this one.

                            ALYSSA

I'll save you the trouble: who, what, where, when, and why.

                             PUNKY

I knew that.

                            ALYSSA

And how many of these questions did you answer in this article?

(Bitsy and Punky bend and peruse the paper)

Who? Answer: Two unnamed witnesses.

What? Answer: some kind of monster.

Where? Answer: in the sewer somewhere under the streets of the
city.

Why? Answer: to cover up some undisclosed illegal activity.

When? Answer: none.

                             PUNKY

I wouldn't say none.

                            ALYSSA

Did you notice how many of these sentences end with question
marks and how many end with periods?

                             BITSY

How many?

                            ALYSSA

More than half. That means you're asking more questions than
you're answering. Do you know what kind of reporter asks more
questions than he answers?

                             BITSY

What kind?

                            ALYSSA

An unemployed reporter.

(hands paper back)

                             PUNKY

But this is a scoop! You won't see this story in city newspapers
today!

                            ALYSSA

And you won't see it in mine either. Bring a news report that
answers all five questions with facts instead of conjectures and
I MIGHT print it.


INT MORNING WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASSROOM

(dark except for a headband light on Deeanne, who is soldering
wires inside of a small black box)

                             PUNKY

(enters, approaches)

Deeanne? Oh, there you are. I've been looking all over the
school for you. You know, you're not supposed to be in here
without a teacher.

                            DEEANNE

(while soldering)

That would mean that YOU are not supposed to be in here either.
What do you want?

                             PUNKY

How would I set up a camera to take a picture automatically?

                            DEEANNE

You would set the camera on automatic.

                             PUNKY

You're not being very helpful.

                            DEEANNE

And you're interrupting my work.

                             PUNKY

Listen, I just want to set up a camera and leave it there and
have it take a picture when someone or something goes by.

                            DEEANNE

You need a motion detector.

                             PUNKY

How do I get a camera like that?

                            DEEANNE

You can't.

                             PUNKY

But you could. You're a technogeek. You can do anything.

                            DEEANNE

Remind me again why I would even WANT to do anything like that.

                             PUNKY

Because you're a friend of my sister.

                            DEEANNE

Then have your sister ask me.

                             PUNKY

Come on! This is important. I've got a potential front page
headline story for the school newspaper. It would probably be
picked up by the wire services.

                            DEEANNE

Well, if it was that important, your sister would have already
asked me to do it. And since she hasn't asked me, I figure your
story was already rejected and you're trying to put lipstick on
a pig.

                             PUNKY

No! I'm not. This is a real scoop! You've got to help me!

                            DEEANNE

Alright, tell me what you want to take a picture of, then MAYBE
I'll hook you up.

                             PUNKY

Well, ah, uh... It's something down in the sewer.

                            DEEANNE

(looks up, alarmed)

How do you know there's something down in the sewer?!

                             PUNKY

If I tell you, you've got to promise not to tell my sister.
She'll tell my parents.

                            DEEANNE

(resumes soldering)

In other words, you've already been down in the sewer yourself
and you think you saw something.

                             PUNKY

Saw and heard. And I wasn't the only one. I had another reporter
with me.

                            DEEANNE

What you probably ran into was a drug dealer or a smuggler who
uses something scarey to scare away people from their illegal
activity.

                             PUNKY

I thought of that too, but I think it has to do with that old
lady from the orphanage who disappeared with the orphans.

                            DEEANNE

You could get yourself killed by going back down there. And I
don't want that on my conscience. Find someone else to help you.
Now get lost. I've got to finish this before the science teacher
gets back.


INT MORNING WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER OFFICE

(Alyssa hands a page to another student)

                            ALYSSA

Just make those changes and we'll run it.

                            DEEANNE

(enters frame, puts black box on desk, looks both ways)

It was your sister and her little friend who were down in the
sewer last night.

                            ALYSSA

Why, that little stinker! That explains why her article about
monsters in the sewer was so vague!

(points to black box)

What's this?

                            DEEANNE

It's the amplifier from the monster puppet. The bums burned it
out by cranking up the volume to loud. I fixed it. But tell them
that, in an enclosed space like a sewer, they don't have to turn
up the volume all the way to scare off people.

                            VALERIE

(enter opposite)

You need to keep that thing out of sight.

(opens drawer while looking both ways)

The fewer questions you have to answer the better. Huh?

(puts black box into drawer, closes it)

                            ALYSSA

Sorry, Aunt Valerie.

                            VALERIE

Is it fixed?

                            DEEANNE

All fixed.

                            ALYSSA

But we've got a problem.

                            VALERIE

How so?

                            ALYSSA

(looks both ways)

The two cub reporters went down into the sewer last night.

                            VALERIE

That was them?!

(both nod)

                            ALYSSA

According to the news story they submitted, they think the
monster was there to protect Mrs Albright.

                            VALERIE

Your sister is smarter than I thought.

                            DEEANNE

Maybe we should make her a member?

                            ALYSSA

Definitely not.

                            DEEANNE

Why not?

                            ALYSSA

Her ego is bigger than all outdoors. Two hours after she finds
out about Mrs Albright and the orphans, the entire school will
know about them.

                            VALERIE

She's right. Until she matures, we'll just have to keep a step
ahead of her.

Oh, speaking of the orphans. One of them has a dental
appointment this afternoon. Who's available sixth period?

                            ALYSSA

(opens middle desk drawer, reads, closes drawer)

Brittany. I'll make sure she takes the amplifier.

                            VALERIE

Good. And when you get home, make sure your parents put the
kibosh on your sister's adventures in the sewer.

(Alyssa nods)


EXT AFTERNOON WIDE: CITY STREETS

(Brittany walks along sidewalk, then stops at alley entrance,
looks in all directions, looks up to second floor across the
street, tugs her right ear lobe. A bum on the second floor
balcony tugs his right ear lobe, turns, and nods at the window,
then turns to Brittany. Brittany looks into alley, tugs right
ear lobe. A bum sitting near a door tugs his right ear lobe,
then knocks three times, then two times on the door, then nods
to Brittany. She turns toward the corner, tugs her right ear
lobe. A bum standing next to a trash can, tugs his ear lobe,
then pulls a newspaper from the trash and holds it in front of
his face. Brittany turns and walks into the alley and stands
near the top of a stair well that leads to the basement. She
tugs her right ear lobe. A van drives into the alley and stops
next to Brittany. The side door of the van opens. Brittany looks
toward the bottom of the stairs. A door opens and a boy in a
baseball uniform and sun glasses hurries up the stairs. A bum
pokes his head out the door and nods to Brittany, who nods back.
The door closes. Brittany and the boy climb into the back of the
van and the van drives off.)

(A short time later, the van comes to a stop near another alley.
A bum comes out of the alley, looks all around, then tugs his
right ear lobe. The van drives into the alley as the back door
of an office building opens wide. A bum steps out and nods as
the van comes to a stop. The van door opens and Brittany and the
boy climb out and hurry through the door. The bum at the door
holds up four fingers to the driver then steps in and closes the
door.)

(A short time later, a bell rings and the elevator doors open
into the hallway of the building. Brittany steps out, looks both
ways, then guides the boy down the hall to a door. She knocks
twice. A woman in a white lab coat opens the door. Brittany and
the boy step in and close the door behind them. Brittany removes
the baseball hat revealing the long hair of a little girl.)

                             NURSE

Hello, Mary Margaret, how are you?

                         MARY MARGARET

Fine, thank you.

                             NURSE

We just have one little filling to do and then we'll just clean
your teeth for a beautiful smile!

(to Brittany as she takes Mary Margaret's hand)

We'll be just under an hour.

(points)

You can sit there and do your homework while you're waiting.


INT EVENING WIDE: ALYSSA'S DINING ROOM

(Alyssa and Steve are seated at the table. Yolanda places two
bowls in the center of the table)

                            YOLANDA

Would you like me to call Mrs Williams, sir?

(exits)

                             STEVE

No, thank you, Yolanda. She already called. She's on her way.

                           PATRICIA

(enters)

Sorry I'm late. The mayor has my whole department in a tizzy
over the orphanage thing.

(kisses Steve, sits)

                             STEVE

It's okay, you're not the last one here.

                           PATRICIA

Where is our little cub reporter?

                            ALYSSA

She's doing research on the internet. She's working a her big
scoop.

                             PUNKY

(enters)

Daddy, tell me all you know about the embezzling and tax fraud
at the orphanage.

(all others exchange amused looks)

                             STEVE

You're asking the wrong policeman, Punky. I work for robbery
homicide division.

                           PATRICIA

Why are you interested in embezzlement and tax fraud?

                             PUNKY

I'm working on a scoop.

(all others exchange amused looks)

Speaking of robbery homicide division, have there been any
murders in the sewers?

(all others exchange amused looks)

                           PATRICIA

Is this another SCOOP you're working on?

                             PUNKY

Actually, I think all these cases are somehow related.

                             STEVE

I'm just dying to hear how embezzlement and tax evasion and
murder in the sewers are connected.

                             PUNKY

Well, you know that woman, Mrs Albright, who owns that
orphanage?

                           PATRICIA

Funny you should say that! I was just complaining about that!

                             PUNKY

About Mrs Albright?

                           PATRICIA

Yes, the mayor interrupted the routine of the entire Hall of
Records trying to dig up dirt on the orphanage.

                             STEVE

Well, that should be easy. The fraud division has already
uncovered an embezzlement charge and a tax fraud charge against
Mrs Albright.

                             PUNKY

That's my scoop!

                            ALYSSA

It's a little late for a scoop, sis. The Tribune already had
those stories on the front page.

                             PUNKY

What I mean is, Mrs Albright went into hiding to avoid
prosecution.

                            ALYSSA

That was in the Tribune too.

                             PUNKY

But "I" know where she's hiding!

(all others exchange amused looks)

                            ALYSSA

How could YOU know where she's hiding, when the police don't
even know?

                             PUNKY

Because I am an ace reporter!

                            ALYSSA

(smiles)

She signs her column LOIS LANE.

                             PUNKY

It's a nom de plume. All the good writers use a nom de plume.

                             STEVE

And where do you think Mrs Albright is hiding?

(all eyes turn to Punky and pause)

                             PUNKY

In the sewer.

(all others exchange amused looks, pause)

She's hiding out in the sewer! Don't you get it?!

                           PATRICIA

Actually, no.

                             STEVE

Me either. Why would you think an old lady would be hiding in
the sewer?

                            ALYSSA

(to Patricia and Steve)

I rejected her story about the sewer this morning.

(to Punky)

Is that where you're going with this?

                           PATRICIA

Why did you reject her story?

                            ALYSSA

She asked more questions than she answered. That makes a
conspiracy theory, not a news story.

                             STEVE

Where did you get the notion that Mrs Albright was hiding in the
sewer?

                             PUNKY

I had witnesses.

                            ALYSSA

Unnamed witnesses.

(looks out of the corner of her eye toward Yolanda who is hiding
in the shadows, tugs her right ear lobe)

Gee, I wonder who her witnesses were.

(looks obviously at Yolanda, who is holding up Punky's bathrobe
and pajama bottoms, which are stained with mud)

                           PATRICIA

(looks where Alyssa is looking)

What's that stuff on Punky's robe and pajamas?

                             PUNKY

Where did you find those?! I hid them under my bed.

                             STEVE

What IS that stuff on Punky's robe and pajamas?

                            ALYSSA

Why, it looks like mud to me. What does it look like to you,
Yolanda?

                            YOLANDA

It looks like mud but it smells like sewage.

(exits)

                           PATRICIA

Punky?! You went down into the sewer... in your pajamas?!

                             PUNKY

Well, I...

                             STEVE

I have an even better question. Why were you talking about
MURDER in the sewer? Did you see a dead body in the sewer?

                           PATRICIA

You didn't see Mrs Albright's body down there did you?

                             PUNKY

No!

                             STEVE

Who's body was it?!

                             PUNKY

I didn't see ANY bodies down there. I was just... I just...

                            ALYSSA

I think what LOIS LANE is trying to say is that what she and her
friend, KIT KITRIDGE, saw in the sewer was a monster.

                             STEVE

A what?!

                            ALYSSA

That was my reaction too. Now you know why I rejected her...

(makes quotes with her fingers)

"scoop" this morning.

                             PUNKY

You're just jealous because it was my scoop and not yours!

                           PATRICIA

Tell us about the monster. I heard that people flushed baby
alligators down their toilets and they grow into monsters.

                             PUNKY

That's what I thought.

                             STEVE

That's an urban myth.

(to Punky)

What exactly did you see down there?

                             PUNKY

It has these big eyes that glowed in the dark and big fangs. And
it had this big deep voice...

                           PATRICIA

Wait a minute. You mean this monster spoke to you?!

                             PUNKY

Yes!

                            ALYSSA

(smiles)

In Spanish, French or English?

                             PUNKY

In English. That's how I know it wasn't really a monster.
Whoever was down there wanted to scare us away.

                           PATRICIA

So, there was no monster.

                             PUNKY

Not really.

                             STEVE

What about the dead body?!

                             PUNKY

I didn't see a dead body. But I was wondering what Mrs Albright
did with those kids.

                           PATRICIA

You're grounded.

                             PUNKY

Mother!

                           PATRICIA

You're grounded for a month. No phone, no internet...

                             PUNKY

Mother, I need the internet for my research!

                            ALYSSA

She has a conspiracy theory to finish.

                             PUNKY

If you weren't my editor, I would bop you in the nose!

                           PATRICIA

Punky!

                             PUNKY

This is a real story, Mother! Mrs Albright is hiding in the
sewer to avoid prosecution. I can prove it!

                           PATRICIA

No more trips to the sewer. If I hear even a hint that you went
near the sewer, you'll be grounded until school is out!

                             PUNKY

Daddy!

                             STEVE

Don't DADDY me! I've heard of drug dealers and smugglers using
the sewers to hide their stashes. You could get yourself killed
by going down there! And if "I" catch you going down there, I'll
take you over my knee! Understood?!

                             PUNKY

Understood.


INT MORNING WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER OFFICE

(Alyssa is busy marking up a page with her red pencil as Punky
walks by)

                             PUNKY

I hope you're happy.

                            ALYSSA

Huh?

                             PUNKY

You ruined the biggest scoop of the year, maybe of this decade.

                            ALYSSA

You're not thinking about dropping the story, are you?

                             PUNKY

Ha ha. Very Funny.

                            ALYSSA

I'm serious. You're onto a big story. It's just not what you
think.

                             PUNKY

What do you mean?

                            ALYSSA

I mean, the story is not in the sewer. The story is in City
Hall.

                             PUNKY

City Hall? What do you mean?

                            ALYSSA

I think that Mrs Albright was railroaded.

                             PUNKY

What does that mean?

                            ALYSSA

She was framed. The charges against her were trumped up.

                             PUNKY

Really?!

                            ALYSSA

Really.

(offers a small slip of paper)

Start here.

                             PUNKY

What's this? "Symphony Hall"? What does that mean?

                            ALYSSA

That's where you start your search on the internet.

                             PUNKY

What's this other thing? It's just alphabet soup.

                            ALYSSA

That's Mom's password on the computer network in the Hall of
Records.

                             PUNKY

Alyssa! I could get it trouble for using this!

                            ALYSSA

Do you want a Pulitzer Prize or not?

                             PUNKY

(exiting)

This could be my big break!

                            VALERIE

(enters opposite, speaks low)

Did you get you-know-who off the trail of Mrs Albright?

                            ALYSSA

(nods)

She's grounded for a month.

                            VALERIE

Good. That will keep her out of trouble.

                            ALYSSA

Even better than that, I've got her working on the story that
will clear Mrs Albright's name.

                            VALERIE

But we're already working on that.

                            ALYSSA

Yes, but when the story breaks, our names will never be
mentioned.

                            VALERIE

Clever girl! That's why I nominated you for membership! Speaking
of Mrs Albright, she wants the orphans to go to the public
library this afternoon. Can you work out the details?

                            ALYSSA

Sure.


EXT AFTERNOON WIDE: CITY STREETS

(Christin walks along sidewalk, then stops at alley entrance,
looks in all directions, looks up to second floor across the
street, tugs her right ear lobe. A bum on the second floor
balcony tugs his right ear lobe, turns, and nods at the window,
then turns to Christin. Christin looks into alley, tugs right
ear lobe. A bum sitting near a door tugs his right ear lobe,
then knocks three times, then two times on the door, then nods
to Christin. She turns toward the corner, tugs her right ear
lobe. A bum standing next to a trash can, tugs his ear lobe,
then pulls a newspaper from the trash and holds it in front of
his face. Christin turns and walks into the alley and stands
near the top of a stair well that leads to the basement. She
tugs her right ear lobe. A van drives into the alley and stops
next to Christin. The side door of the van opens. Christin looks
toward the bottom of the stairs. A door opens and six boys in
baseball uniforms and sun glasses hurry up the stairs. A bum
pokes his head out the door and nods to Christin, who nods back.
Then goes back in and the door closes. Christin and the boys
climb into the back of the van and the van drives off.)

(A short time later, the van comes to a stop near another alley.
A bum comes out of the alley, looks all around, then tugs his
right ear lobe. The van drives into the alley as the back door
of an office building opens wide. A bum steps out and nods as
the van comes to a stop. The van door opens and Christin and the
boys climb out and hurry through the door. The bum at the door
holds up four fingers to the driver then closes the door.)

(Inside, two bums dressed in hard hats and tool belts place
barricades in front of the entrance to the library section
labeled "Children's Books". They nod to each other, then one of
them looks toward the ajar door at the end of the hall and tugs
his right ear lobe. The door opens and Christin escorts the boys
behind the barricades and out of sight into the stacks of books.
Several of the boys remove their hats and sunglasses. Long hair
falls down their backs as they disappear. The bums begin
pounding aimlessly on the floor with their hammers as a woman
and her son approach, see the signs, then turn and walk away.)


INT MORNING WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER OFFICE

(Punky and Bitsy flank a movie screen as the other student
reporters and Aunt Valerie are sitting on desks and chairs
watching the presentation. Whenever Punky clicks her cricket
noise-maker, something is added to the picture on the screen)

                             BITSY

Good morning.

(points to Punky)

This is my partner Lois Lane.

                             PUNKY

And this is my partner Kit Kitridge.

                             BITSY

We'd like to share with you what we have learned about the
scandal surrounding the orphanage.

                             PUNKY

We would first like to thank Deeanne for her excellent computer
generated diagrams.

(click: lights dim, a diagram of what looks like the top view of
a beverage six-pack appears)

A smaller version of these diagrams will appear with this story
when the story is picked up by the Tribune and the other news
media.

(Aunt Valerie and Alyssa exchange smiles)

                             BITSY

Here's what we know so far.

(points to diagram)

This is 2nd Avenue between 22nd Street and 23rd Street. This
site was secretly chosen by the mayor as the site for the city's
new concert hall.

                             PUNKY

Starting a year and a half ago, a company known as

(click: "A & A" appears on the upper left compartment)

A & A Properties bought this piece of land from the owner.

                             BITSY

Then another company known as

(click: "B & B" appears on the lower left compartment)

B & B Development bought this piece of land.

                             PUNKY

Then another company known as

(click: "C & C" appears on the upper right compartment)

C & C Construction bought this piece of land.

                             BITSY

Then another company known as

(click: "D & D" appears on the lower right compartment)

D & D Holdings bought this piece of land.

                             PUNKY

Then another company known as

(click: "E & E" appears on the middle right compartment)

E & E Limited bought this piece of land.

                             BITSY

Then finally, another company known as

(click: "F & F" appears on the middle left compartment)

F & F Investments offered to buy this last piece of land.

                             PUNKY

Can everybody see the pattern here?

                             BITSY

All of these companies are called shell companies.

                             PUNKY

These companies were created ONLY for the purpose of buying up
the land in this block for the new concert hall.

                             BITSY

But the concert hall project came to a screeching halt when

(click: ORPHANAGE overwrites in the middle left compartment)

the owner of the orphanage wouldn't sell this piece of land.

                             PUNKY

Now, I'm sure that everybody in this room knows that the mayor
is

(points to Christin)

Christin's dad.

                             BITSY

Christin, tell everybody what the concert hall means to the
mayor.

                           CHRISTIN

My dad made a campaign promise to bring a world class symphony
orchestra to this city. If Mrs Albright doesn't sell the
orphanage, there won't be a concert hall. Without a concert hall
there won't be a world class symphony orchestra in the city. My
dad is already embarrassed that people found out that this was
where the concert hall was being built BEFORE all the land was
all bought up. And he's even more embarrassed that the deal
might never happen.

                           BRITANNY

Why won't Mrs Albright sell the orphanage?

                             PUNKY

Two reasons:

                             BITSY

First of all, the orphanage was originally a mansion where the
Albright family has lived since the late 1800's. Stanley
Albright died leaving his wife Vera Albright without any
children. All she has to remember him by is the mansion which is
still as beautiful as the day it was built.

                             PUNKY

Second, Mrs Albright turned the mansion into an orphanage after
Mr Albright died. And for some of the kids living there, it was
the only home they've ever known.

                           BRITANNY

Why doesn't the city just sell off these other five lots and
build the concert hall somewhere else?

                             BITSY

None of this land is owned by the city.

                           BRITANNY

It isn't?

                             PUNKY

All six of these companies are owned by a private company.

                             BITSY

And since all the buildings surrounding the orphanage were empty
and broken down, the company bought them cheap.

                             BOTH

Real cheap.

                             PUNKY

And, because the mansion was a hundred years old, they thought
they could buy it as cheaply as all the other buildings, then
sell the whole block of land to the city for a huge profit.

                             BITSY

But without the orphanage, the concert hall project is dead.

                             PUNKY

And the company gets nothing.

                             BITSY

And neither does the city.

                           CHRISTIN

No wonder my dad was so upset.

                           BRITANNY

What does this all have to do with the scandal?

                            DEEANNE

Yeah, what about the embezzlement and the tax fraud?

                             PUNKY

We haven't been able to prove it yet, but we think the records
at the Hall of Records were faked to make Mrs Albright look like
a crook.

                             BITSY

After Stanley Albright died in 1981, Mrs Albright inherited all
of the Albright companies.

(click: A diagram of eight buildings inside circles appear on
the screen with arrows pointing down to a picture of Mrs
Albright.)

                             PUNKY

But she turned over the running of the companies to a management
company...

(click: a picture of an office tower replaces Mrs Albright's
picture. An arrow points down to Mrs Albright's picture below.)

                             BITSY

so she could start her new orphanage. She set up as a non-profit
organization to run the orphanage.

(click: a picture of the mansion replaces the picture of Mrs
Albright. Arrows point away from the mansion to pictures of Mrs
Albright and five other people who appeared below the mansion.)

                             PUNKY

And so, Mrs Albright became just one of six employees working
for the orphanage.

                             BITSY

Things went on like this for almost thirty years, then suddenly,
just after Mrs Albright refused to sell the mansion to F & F
Investments, the scandal started.

                             PUNKY

We still don't know how they pulled it off, but first someone
hacked into the bank's computer system and transferred a million
dollars...

(click: a red arrow extends from the picture of the office tower
to Mrs Albright's picture. Then a picture of a cloth bag with
dollar signs on it appears next to the arrow.)

...from the bank into Mrs Albright's personal bank account.

                             BITSY

Making Mrs Albright look like a thief.

                             PUNKY

The next day, a guy from F & F Investments tells Mrs Albright
that he'll make things right if she'll sell the mansion to him.

                             BITSY

Of course, Mrs Albright refused. She thought he was bluffing.

                             PUNKY

The next day somebody hacked into the state tax database and
deleted the non-profit tax exemption of the orphanage.

                             BITSY

The day after that the guy from F & F Investments returned to
tell Mrs Albright that she owed millions of dollars in back
taxes on the mansion.

                             PUNKY

But... he could make all her problems go away IF she would
merely sell him the mansion.

                             BITSY

Mrs Albright told him to take a hike.

                             PUNKY

The next day, the state cops showed up at the mansion to collect
the back taxes. The city cops showed up at the same time to
arrest Mrs Albright for theft. And Children's Services showed up
to haul away the orphans.

                             BITSY

But Mrs Albright and the orphans had mysteriously disappeared!

(click: lights up)

                             PUNKY

(pauses)

None of you look surprised.

                           MICHAELA

How did you know all that stuff about the computers?

                             BITSY

We were surprised that Mrs Albright is actually innocent. Aren't
any of you surprised?

                           MICHAELA

In order to find out about that computer stuff you would either
have to be a cop or you would have had to hack into those
computers yourself.

                             PUNKY

Oh, ah, I, ah...

(looks toward Deeanne)

                           MICHAELA

Deeanne?

(Deeanne forces a smile)

                            ALYSSA

My mom is the director of the Hall of Records.

                           MICHAELA

Oh. Alright.

                            ALYSSA

Okay, listen up. The reason for this meeting is to get you all
up to date on this situation. Lois Lane and Kit Kitridge, here,
have a real scoop, but we can't print it until we find out who's
behind these six companies that bought all this land. If we find
who's behind these companies, then we find who's framing Mrs
Albright.

                           MICHAELA

What does this have to do with me? I write the fashion news and
the gossip column.

                           BRITANNY

Yeah, this doesn't really concern me either. I write the sports
news.

                            ALYSSA

The girls who go to this school come from the elite families
from all over the city. All I'm asking for you to do is to keep
your ears open. Listen to what your families are saying and
listen to what the other girls are saying. If you hear something
-- anything -- about land or deals or fraud or anything like
that, tell these two girls and they'll follow it up.

                           CHRISTIN

Do you think this scoop will get my dad in trouble?

                            ALYSSA

(pauses)

I doubt it. It sounds like the mayor just put his trust in
someone who isn't trustworthy. Snoop around. See if you can find
out who he was talking to around the time those companies
started buying up those buildings around the orphanage.


INT AFTERNOON WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER OFFICE

(The office is empty except for Alyssa and Punky. They have
their backs to each other. Both are working on computers. Alyssa
pushes away from her desk, turns to pickup a soft drink)

                            ALYSSA

You're still here.

                             PUNKY

(continues to poke keyboard and mouse)

Such a brilliant deduction. You could be the editor of the
school newspaper some day.

                            ALYSSA

I always work late. What are you doing here?

                             PUNKY

Thanks to you and Yolanda, I now have no access to the internet
at home.

                            ALYSSA

You don't know that I had anything to do with that.

                             PUNKY

I saw that thing you did with your ear lobe. You and Yolanda
have been plotting against me for years.

                            ALYSSA

Just because your paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get
you.

(turns, resumes work)

                             PUNKY

Oh, this can't be good!

                            ALYSSA

What's that?

                             PUNKY

I'm looking through the recent records at the hall of records
and I found this application for a demolition permit.

                            ALYSSA

And why should I care about that?

                             PUNKY

The application was dated yesterday and the permit was issued
today.

                            ALYSSA

I still don't see the problem.

                             PUNKY

All these other permits took weeks or months to approve and
issue the permit. This is the only demolition permit this month
that was approved in one day.

                            ALYSSA

So, maybe it was a friend of the mayor. Mom says the mayor has
been pressuring the hall of records lately. Maybe that's what
she was talking about. Anyway, why should anyone care about how
long it takes to tear down a building?

                             PUNKY

The address is 2252 2nd Avenue. Does that sound familiar?

                            ALYSSA

(straightens)

2252 2nd Avenue?

                             PUNKY

Yes.

                            ALYSSA

(turns)

That's the address of the orphanage!

                             PUNKY

That's what I thought.

                            ALYSSA

Mrs Albright hasn't sold the mansion! They can't tear it down if
they don't own it!

(stands, approaches, bend)

Who does it say requested the permit?

                             PUNKY

(points to screen)

Vera Albright.

                            ALYSSA

That can't be right!

                             PUNKY

That's what I thought.

                            ALYSSA

First of all, she's in hiding. How could she apply for any kind
of permit if she's in hiding?

                             PUNKY

And she would never tear down her own mansion. She wouldn't even
sell it.

                            ALYSSA

(grabs her back pack, exits)

Tell Mom and Dad I might be home a little late for dinner.


EXT EVENING OVER THE SHOULDER: CITY STREETS

(Camera follows Punky as she stealthily trails Alyssa through
the city streets, occasionally ducking into doorways to avoid
discovery. Alyssa is observed from afar approaching and talking
to a bum sitting on the sidewalk against a light pole. The bum,
who wears a distinctive red plaid jacket and green baseball hat,
nods, jumps to his feet, says something, Alyssa nods, both turn
in opposite directions. Punky ducks into a doorway until Alyssa
passes by, then follows until she goes into a television
station. Punky follows her in, but loses the trail, making just
two wrong turns before she sees Alyssa returning. She ducks into
a bathroom until Alyssa passes by. Deep breath.)


EXT EVENING WIDE: ALYSSA'S DINING ROOM

(All but Alyssa are seated. Alyssa enters whispering to Yolanda,
then Yolanda exits)

                            ALYSSA

Sorry I'm late. I had some... newspaper business to do.

                             PUNKY

Mom, how long does it take to get a demolition permit approved?

                           PATRICIA

Why on earth would you care about such a thing?

                            ALYSSA

(stern look)

Punky, let's talk about something else, okay?

                             STEVE

Actually, I'm kind of intrigued about why a school girl would
even know that a demolition permit is even required to tear down
a building. Punky?

                             PUNKY

(eyes as big as saucers)

Oh, um, ah, Alyssa, maybe you could tell them.

                            ALYSSA

(eyes as big as saucers)

Me?!

(takes a large bite of food, chews slowly, holding up a finger)

                           PATRICIA

Alright, you two. What are you up to?

                            ALYSSA

(chews, points to mouth, smiles)

                           PATRICIA

Punky, you were the one who brought up the topic of demolition
permits, why don't you enlighten us?

(jabs a fork full of food, attempts to stuff it in her mouth)

                             STEVE

(grabs Punky's wrist, restrains her)

Tell us NOW!

                             PUNKY

Alyssa, you are so busted.

                            ALYSSA

(full mouth)

Me?!

                             STEVE

Now!

                             PUNKY

Mrs Albright got a demolition permit to tear down the orphanage.

                           PATRICIA

No she didn't. If she had, I would have seen it. The mayor
ordered us to flag any transaction with Mrs Albright's name on
it. It's part of the investigation. Wait a minute. How would you
even know about a demolition permit -- ANY demolition permit?!

                             PUNKY

(points to Alyssa)

She made me do it.

                            ALYSSA

(chokes, swallows, drinks)

Mother, that is just not true.

                            YOLANDA

(enters, tugs ear, smiles, exits)

                             PUNKY

(points toward Yolanda)

There it is again. That's the signal. I told you!

                             STEVE

Signal? What signal? If I didn't know better, I would think our
children are on drugs. What is going on here?!

                            YOLANDA

(reenters)

I'm sorry to disrupt your dinner. But I think the answers to
your questions are on the television.

(exits)

(The family follows Yolanda to the television, the television
picture expands to full size of screen, the picture shows the
bum with the red plaid jacket and green baseball hat in
handcuffs being seated in the back seat of a squad car. Then the
camera turns to the reporter)

                           REPORTER

According to police, this homeless man was arrested after he
disabled all of the demolition vehicles that were scheduled to
tear down the palatial home of Vera Albright, the controversial
philanthropist who was recently accused of embezzlement and tax
fraud. According to the homeless man, who refused to give his
name, the demolition permit was illegally obtained. He claims
that he was merely delaying the start of demolition which was
schedule to begin early tomorrow morning.

                           PATRICIA

Punky Williams! How did you know about this demolition permit
when I didn't even know about it?

                             PUNKY

(opens mouth to speak, but is interrupted by the ringing of the
phone)

                            YOLANDA

(picks up phone)

Williams' residence.

(to Patricia)

It's for you.

(mouths the word mayor)

                           PATRICIA

(deep breath)

It's going to be a long night.

(takes phone)

Yes, Mr Mayor.

(pause)

I knew you would call because I just saw the incident on the
news, same as you.

(pause, rolls eyes)

No, I don't know how a woman who is in hiding could request a
demolition permit. But I'm quite sure the permit was a fake.

(pause)

No, I'm not trying to make you look bad, Mr Mayor. I voted for
you.

(pause)

The important thing is that this poor widow's orphanage WASN'T
demolished...

(looks to Punky)

though I'm not sure who blew the whistle or how they found out.

(pauses, looks to Punky)

My suspicion is that at least two people hacked into the
computers at the hall of records and at least one of those
people faked or changed one of the demolition permits.

(pause)

I'm on my way there right now. I'll work all night on this if I
have to.

(pause)

I'll have a full report on your desk first thing in the morning,
Mr Mayor.

(holds phone away from ear, hangs up, points finger at Punky's
nose, then at Alyssa's nose, then turns to Yolanda, opens mouth,
then turns to Steve)

You're an investigator. Investigate!

(grabs purse, stomps out, slams door)

                             PUNKY

We are so busted!

                            ALYSSA

We?! If you hadn't opened your big mouth....

                             STEVE

Hey!

                            ALYSSA

Sorry, Daddy.

                             PUNKY

Sorry, Daddy.

                             STEVE

I don't want to hear another word out of either one of you for
the rest of the night. Not one word. Now you go finish your
dinner and then go straight to your rooms. I will talk to each
of you individually when I get back.

                             PUNKY

Where are you going?

                            ALYSSA

Didn't he just tell you "Not one more word"?

                             STEVE

Hey!

                            ALYSSA

Sorry, Daddy.

                             PUNKY

Sorry, Daddy.

                             STEVE

I have to go down to the precinct for a while. But I want
answers when I get back.

(points to girls)

Until then, what are your orders?

(both girls pantamime zipping their lips)


INT NIGHT WIDE: ALYSSA'S ROOM

(Alyssa is lying face down on the bed, reading. Steve enters,
closes the door)

                            ALYSSA

I didn't say another word, Daddy, I swear.

                             STEVE

(sits)

How much do you know about the bums?

                            ALYSSA

(sits up, eyes as wide as saucers)

What do you mean?

                             STEVE

Do you know any bums besides Yolanda and my sister?

                            ALYSSA

I... I... I'm not supposed to... How did you know?

                             STEVE

I'm a bum.

                            ALYSSA

You are?!

                             STEVE

Yes. I trust that you will keep it to yourself.

                            ALYSSA

I... I had no idea!

                             STEVE

That's the way it was designed. Everything on a need to know
basis.

                            ALYSSA

How did you... When did you...

                            ALYSSA

I nominated Yolanda and Aunt Valerie to help me meet the needs
of Mrs Albright and the orphans. Aunt Valerie nominated you and
your friends at the newspaper.

                            ALYSSA

What about Mom?

                             STEVE

I'm going to have to nominate her. She is now in a position to
be a big help to the bums. You know that bum with the green hat
and the red jacket?

                            ALYSSA

The one who was just arrested?

                             STEVE

He was the one who nominated me. So, how much do you know about
the bums?

                            ALYSSA

Just that we do good deeds without getting any of the credit for
them. You know, like the motto says, "Don't let the right
hand..."

                             BOTH

"know what the left hand is doing."

                            ALYSSA

Yes. It's from the Bible. It's the way Jesus said to do good
deeds. But other than that, I don't know much about the bums,
because we're not supposed to ask questions or give anybody else
a reason to ask questions. I assume the bums were started by
bums.

                             STEVE

(laughs)

Actually, the very first bum was Stanley Albright.

                            ALYSSA

Mrs Albright's husband?!

(Steve nods, looks toward door, holds finger to lips)

                            ALYSSA

(whispers)

But he was a millionaire!

(dissolves to flashbacks)


EXT DAYTIME WIDE: BROWN-TONE TENT CITY

(Many people sitting around Tents and makeshift shelters, as
young Stanley, formally attired, approaches with an armful of
unwrapped loaves of bread)

                             STEVE

(voiceover)

Stanley Albright started the bums during the great depression,
in the days before welfare and public assistance. In those days,
men would rather go hungry than take charity from another man.

(Stanley offers a loaf of bread to a dejected looking, shabbily
dress man. At first, he smiles, and reaches, but pulls back,
drops his head and flicks the back of his hand at Stanley. Same
scene repeats twice more. Dissolves.)

So, Stanley decided it would be better for him to become a bum
in order to help the bums.

(A shabbily dress Stanley slides a rack of bread loaves from the
back of a bakery truck, then signals the driver to drive off,
then he shakes the rack to randomize the loaves, runs down the
row of tents)

                            STANLEY

Hey, look what fell off the back of a truck!

(Stanley is soon surrounded by people who each take a loaf)

                             STEVE

(voiceover)

As the great depression grew worse and worse, Stanley cut back
his business hours so he could spend more time helping the
homeless. He soon recruited other millionaires to do the same.

(A shabbily dress Stanley slides a rack of bread loaves from the
back of a bakery truck, then he shakes the rack to randomize the
loaves, then he hands the rack to another bum who runs down the
row of tents, repeating the scene for several bums, before he
signals the driver to drive off. Dissolves.)


INT NIGHT WIDE: ALYSSA'S ROOM

(scene resumes in bedroom)

                             STEVE

The rule for each new bum was the same then as it is for you
today.

                             BOTH

(voiceover)

"Don't let the right hand know what the left hand is doing."

                            ALYSSA

Daddy, are you saying that some of those bums on the street
might be millionaires?

                             STEVE

The other rule is...

                             BOTH

"Don't ask questions."

                            ALYSSA

Sorry, Daddy.

                             STEVE

It's okay, sweety. The reason we don't ask questions is real
clear after a night like tonight. If someone found out that the
bum who was arrested tonight was a millionaire, his company's
reputation would be ruined and so would be his ability to do
good deeds.

                            ALYSSA

You mean that bum was a millionaire?

(Steve smiles and raises his eye brows)

Don't ask questions. Okay. By the way, when you just went down
to the precinct did you get him out of jail?

(Steve smiles and raises his eye brows)

Don't ask questions. Okay.

                             STEVE

There's a reason why we don't ask questions: The less you know,
the less you have to lie about.

                            ALYSSA

I understand. But how did the bums end up living down in the
sewers? I know. Don't ask questions.

                             STEVE

Actually, I need to answer that. You'll need to know that sooner
or later. Stanley albright needed to keep his identity and his
home a secret. So, he used the sewers to get to and from his
mansion. He hired some trusted friends to build hidden doors in
the basements of several buildings throughout the city leading
to the sewers. Those entrances are how Mrs Albright and the
orphans escaped when the cops went to arrest her.

                            ALYSSA

But why did she take the orphans with her?

                             STEVE

Mrs Albright is the closest thing to a mother those little girls
have ever known. She's also their teacher. She continued to
teach them after they went into hiding.

                            ALYSSA

Am I allowed to ask if they live in the sewer?

                             STEVE

Nobody actually lives down there. They just use the sewer to
hide their comings and goings. Next time you see the bum with
the green hat and the red jacket, ask him where the entrances
are.

(stands)

By the way, you and Punky are doing an excellent job of
investigating the orphanage scandal. If it wasn't for you two,
the Albright mansion would have been a pile of rubble tomorrow
morning.

                            ALYSSA

Are we busted?

                             STEVE

(sighs)

I'll talk it over with your mother. On the one hand, your
intensions were pure. On the other hand, using your mother's
password to access the computers could have gotten her fired.
So, I wouldn't make any social plans for this weekend.

(turns)

                            ALYSSA

Daddy?

                             STEVE

(turns)

Huh?

                            ALYSSA

What about Punky?

                             STEVE

Same thing.

                            ALYSSA

No. I mean, are you going to... nominate her?

                             STEVE

You are about as young as we can go. Punky is too young to keep
a secret. But you need to keep an eye on her. She's suspicious.

(tugs on own ear lobe)

And you and Yolanda need to be a little more subtle.


INT AFTERNOON WIDE: PRIVATE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER OFFICE

(Alyssa is alone, working at her computer)

                            VALERIE

(enters, crosses to Alyssa's desk, looks both ways)

Sorry to bother you so late, but Mrs Albright has a rather
unusual request. Can you handle it?

                            ALYSSA

Sure. What's up?

                            VALERIE

The weatherman forecasted a cold front moving through the area
tonight and Mrs Albright and the orphans are worried about the
homeless people in Riverside Park. I've already arranged to have
a bunch of blankets picked up from the Salvation Army.

                            ALYSSA

You want me to deliver the blankets to the park?

                            VALERIE

I wish it was that simple. Mrs Albright wants to teach the
orphans about Christian charity. She wants the orphans
themselves to hand out the blankets to the homeless people.

                            ALYSSA

Their faces are on wanted posters! What if someone sees them?

                            VALERIE

You'll have to wait until after dark. The bums tell me that the
cops don't patrol that park after dark.

                            ALYSSA

Well, if you think it's alright.

                            VALERIE

You don't have to worry about your safety. The bums will be at
the park to protect you and the orphans.

                            ALYSSA

The driver knows where to take us?

                            VALERIE

(nods)

Just be careful coming and going. That incident with the
demolition equipment shows that the enemy is getting desperate.


EXT NIGHT WIDE: CITY STREETS

(Alyssa walks along sidewalk, then stops at alley entrance,
looks in all directions, looks up to second floor across the
street, tugs her right ear lobe. A bum on the second floor
balcony tugs his right ear lobe, turns, and nods at the window,
then turns to Alyssa. Alyssa looks into alley, tugs right ear
lobe. A bum sitting near a door tugs his right ear lobe, then
knocks three times, then two times on the door, then nods to
Alyssa. She turns toward the corner, tugs her right ear lobe. A
bum standing next to a trash can, tugs his ear lobe, then pulls
a newspaper from the trash and holds it in front of his face.
Alyssa turns and walks into the alley and stands near the top of
a stair well that leads to the basement. She tugs her right ear
lobe. A van drives into the alley and stops next to Alyssa. The
side door of the van opens. Alyssa looks toward the bottom of
the stairs. A door opens and six boys in baseball hats, sun
glasses and overcoats hurry up the stairs. A bum pokes his head
out the door and nods to Alyssa, who nods back. The door closes.
Alyssa and the boys climb into the back of the van and the van
drives off.)


EXT NIGHT WIDE: RIVERSIDE PARK

(The van drives by the sign marked "Riverside Park", then comes
to a stop. Alyssa and six girls without hats hop out. Alyssa
gives each one two blankets as the bums come out of the shadows.
Each girl, accompanied by a bum, heads off in all directions to
distribute the blankets. In twelve camera shots, the girls
either give a blanket to a shivering man, woman or child, or
they cover a sleeping person. Then all the girls converge on the
van from all directions. They hop into the van and the van exits
the park)


EXT NIGHT WIDE: CITY STREETS

(The van drives into the alley and stops next to the stair well.
The side door of the van opens. Alyssa steps out and looks
toward the bottom of the stairs, then both ways up and down the
alley. She nods at the van and puts her fingers to her lips. The
girls, now wearing baseball hats and sun glasses, exit the van.
The van drives off as Alyssa leads the girls down the stairs.
She knocks three times on the door. Then two more times. The
door opens and the boys walk through. The door slams shut and
two girls inside scream. Alyssa pulls at the door knob and
knocks but the door is locked. She pounds the door.)

                            ALYSSA

(loud whisper)

What's going on in there?!

(she listens at the door. Hearing nothing, she digs in her
pocket for a flashlight. She shines it at the door knob again.
Still locked. She looks on the ground around the door for a key.
She raises her fist to pound again, but the flashlight reveals
an envelope with the words: "SELL THE MANSION OR THE KIDS DIE".)

                            ALYSSA

Sell the mansion or the kids die!

(gasps)


INT EVENING WIDE: ALYSSA'S DINING ROOM

(Steve and Patricia sit at the table examining the envelope and
the note inside. Alyssa paces the floor sobbing and wringing her
hands)

                            ALYSSA

I'm sorry, Daddy. I tried to be careful. I thought I was
careful. This is all my fault.

                             STEVE

Lissy, you need to keep your voice down. Punky will hear you.

                             PUNKY

(enters)

What am I not supposed to hear?

(heads tilt, eyes avoid each other, long pause)

Well?

                             STEVE

The orphans were kidnapped.

                             PUNKY

Really?! Did they leave a ransom note?

(heads tilt, eyes avoid each other, long pause)

This has to do with the orphanage, doesn't it. This jerk wants
Mrs Albright to sell the mansion, huh.

(heads tilt, eyes avoid each other, long pause)

                           PATRICIA

Um, yeah. That's it exactly. How does she know so much?

                             PUNKY

I'm an investigative reporter. I'm about to print my scoop! So,
when do we close in for the big arrest?!

(heads tilt, eyes avoid each other, long pause)

                             STEVE

We don't know who this guy is. There's probably more than one.

                             PUNKY

Say, wait a minute. You work for robbery-homicide. Why are you
handling a case of kidnap and ransom? And where are the rest of
the cops?

(heads tilt, eyes avoid each other, long pause)

                             STEVE

We just got the ransom note. We haven't notified the police yet.

                             PUNKY

Why not?

                             STEVE

The ransom note tells us not to.

                             PUNKY

It's probably a good idea not to.

                           PATRICIA

Why do you say that?

                             PUNKY

If these guys are smart enough to hack into the Hall of Records
and the state tax records, they might have somebody on the
inside at the police department.

                           PATRICIA

How does she know so much about this case?

                            ALYSSA

I assigned her and Bitsy Jacobson to the story of the orphanage
scandal.

                             PUNKY

I say "Find the computer hacker and you'll find the kidnapper".

                           PATRICIA

I just found out about the hacking of the state tax records this
afternoon. How...

                             PUNKY

(fakes a yawn, exiting)

I'm a little tired. I think I'll go to bed early.

                           PATRICIA

Punky, you get your butt over here.

                             PUNKY

(reverses course)

Please don't be mad. Daddy already grounded me.

                            ALYSSA

Yeah, Daddy already told you that punky used your password.

                           PATRICIA

Yes, but my password only gets her into the CITY records. How
did she....

(to Punky)

How did you hack into the STATE records?

                             PUNKY

I promised I wouldn't tell.

                           PATRICIA

Let's say that you're grounded until the day you graduate.

                             PUNKY

(quickly)

It was Deeanne!

                             STEVE

That was easy.

                            ALYSSA

See why we don't trust her?

                             PUNKY

Trust her... with what?

                            ALYSSA

(crosses to phone)

Nevermind.

                           PATRICIA

Who are you calling?

                            ALYSSA

(poking keypad)

Deeanne. She's a technogeek. But she's not good enough to break
into the state computers by herself.

(to phone)

Hi. This is Alyssa. May I speak to Deeanne.

(Door Bell rings, Punky runs to door)

She is? That must be her now. Thanks.

(hangs up. Deeanne enters)

                            DEEANNE

I think someone at my dad's company may have had something to do
with the orphanage scandal.

                             STEVE

Why do you say that?

                            DEEANNE

My dad's company does data encryption and computer security.

                           PATRICIA

Say that in English.

                            DEEANNE

He knows how to hack computer networks.

                             STEVE

So, you know about the kidnapping?

                            DEEANNE

Someone was kidnapped?!

                            ALYSSA

The...

                             STEVE

(holds hand in front of Alyssa)

If you didn't know about the kidnapping, why did you come over
here tonight?

                            DEEANNE

I got to thinking about the news story that Lois Lane and Kit
Kitridge are working on.

                             PUNKY

That's me and Bitsy.

                             STEVE

(holds hand in front of Punky)

Continue.

                            DEEANNE

There's only a handful of companies in the whole country that
have the software to hack a government computer network. And
Daddy's is one of them. So, I looked at the phone and email
records in and out of Daddy's business.

                           PATRICIA

What did you find?

                            DEEANNE

Nothing.

                             STEVE

Can you just get to the bottom line?!

                            DEEANNE

My dad fired one of his engineers a few weeks ago.

                           PATRICIA

So you think this engineer did all this?

                             STEVE

Not possible.

                           PATRICIA

Why not?

                             STEVE

These land deals for the property around the orphanage cost
millions of dollars. An engineer doesn't have that much money.
An engineer without a job has no money.

(to Deeanne)

Keep going.

                            DEEANNE

After this guy was fired, his phone records showed several phone
calls to the Albright Foundation.

                             PUNKY

That's the foundation that runs the orphanage. I had that in my
presentation.

                            ALYSSA

So, the foundation supplies the money and the engineer engineers
a way to force Mrs Albright out of the orphanage.

                           PATRICIA

That doesn't sound right. Why would the Albright Foundation sell
the orphanage to themselves?

                             STEVE

Maybe they didn't. Maybe someone inside the foundation is using
the money from the trust to make a huge personal profit from the
land deal.

                            ALYSSA

They borrow the money from the trust company, they buy up the
land for the concert hall, they sell the land to the city at a
big profit, then they put the borrowed money back into the trust
company.

                             PUNKY

And they walk away with millions of dollars in profits in their
pockets! What a scoop! I'll be famous!

                           PATRICIA

Punky!

                             PUNKY

Okay, Lois Lane AND Kit Kitridge will be famous.

                           PATRICIA

Punky!

                             PUNKY

Oh.

(pantamimes the zipping of her lips)

                            DEEANNE

You said somebody got kidnapped. Who got kidnapped?!

                             STEVE

All of the orphans.

                            DEEANNE

All of them?

                            ALYSSA

It was my fault. I...

                             STEVE

Lissy, now is not the time to point fingers.

                           PATRICIA

We only have until midnight tonight to have Mrs Albright sign
over the deed to the orphanage and exchange it for the orphans.

                             STEVE

Problem is, we don't know which members of the trust company are
involved in this. If we turn over the deed to the mansion, the
perp could complete the deal with the city. Then, after he puts
the money back into the trust, the deal looks perfectly legal.

                            ALYSSA

(goes to the phone)

We need to have an emergency meeting of the...

(looks to Punky, then to Steve, then to Deeanne, tilts head)

...of the school newspaper staff.

                             PUNKY

(exiting)

I'll get my coat.

(all the others look at each other's eyes, shake heads)

                           PATRICIA

Where do you think you're going, young lady?

                             PUNKY

(turns)

To the newspaper staff meeting.

                           PATRICIA

You're grounded. Indefinitely.

                             PUNKY

But, Mom! This is my big scoop!

(Patricia tilts head, sends eye messages to Alyssa)

                            ALYSSA

I tell you what, Punky. I'll give you the by-line no matter who
writes the end of the story. How's that?

                             PUNKY

Cool!

(exits)


EXT NIGHT OVER-THE-SHOULDER: CITY STREETS

(Camera follows Alyssa down the street until she sees a bum
sitting on the sidewalk near a bus bench. He nods. She sits
briefly, then slides a small slip of paper toward the bum. Then
she stands and walks away. The bum looks both ways, then takes
and reads the paper. It reads, "RANSOM: ALLEY #A2 MIDNIGHT".
Alyssa stops at the corner and looks back. The bum tugs his
right ear lobe. Alyssa tugs her right ear lobe as she disappears
around the corner)

(Camera follows Deeanne down the street until she sees a bum
sitting in a doorway. He nods. She drops a small slip of paper
as she walks by. The bum looks both ways before he picks up and
reads the paper. It reads, "RANSOM: ALLEY #A2 MIDNIGHT". Deeanne
stops and looks into a store window, then looks back. The bum
tugs his right ear lobe. Deeanne tugs her right ear lobe then
continues down the street.)

(Camera follows Christin down the street until she sees a bum
leaning against a building. He nods. She nods.)

                              BUM

(holds out hand)

Hey, I haven't eaten in two days. You got any loose change?

                           CHRISTIN

Sure. Here.

(Christin presses the note in his hand)

(Camera follows Britanny as she gets on a bus. She sits across
the aisle from a bum. When she leaves one block later, there's a
note on her seat. She tugs her ear lobe as she exits the bus)

(Camera follows Michaela as she walks by a bum and enters a
store, asks for change for a dollar, exits the store. On her way
out, the bum holds up the note with his left hand, tugs his ear
lobe with his right.)

EXT NIGHT WIDE: THE ALLEY

(Camera follows a van as it turns into the alley. Camera
redirects toward a bum coming out of the shadows of a doorway
nearby.)

                              BUM

(opens cell phone, puts it to ear)

The eagle has landed. The eagle has landed.

(He opens the door. Mrs Albright steps out, takes a deep breath)

You alright, Mrs Albright? Do you need more time?

                             VERA

No, I'll be fine.

                              BUM

You know what to do?

                             VERA

Let's do this.

                              BUM

(to Phone)

Ransom is a go. Ransom is a go.

(nods to Mrs Albright, disappears into the building)

                             VERA

(Steps into the alley, shouts)

I'm here. Where are the children?

                            TRUSTEE

(steps out from behind van into the light, shouts)

Did you talk to the cops?

                             VERA

No. You said no cops. So, I kept them out of it.

                            TRUSTEE

Did you bring the deed to the mansion?

                             VERA

(holds paper high)

Yes. Here it is. Show me the children.

                            TRUSTEE

Did you sign the deed?

                             VERA

Yes. But you don't get the deed until I get the children.

                            TRUSTEE

(opens the door of the van)

Alright, you little rug rats, out.

(Children exit, some sniveling, followed by Engineer. They line
up the kids in front of the van, flank them.)

(shouts)

There. You see the children. Now I see the deed.

                             VERA

(approaches slowly with paper extended)

Children, are you alright?

                           CHILDREN

(in unison)

Yes, Mrs Albright.

                             VERA

Children, this will all be over in just a minute.

(points to her signature, louder)

I signed the deed. It's free and clear.

(When Mrs Albright draws near to Trustee, he reaches out his
hand. A bum on the roof above, jerks a rod and reel. The paper
in Mrs Albright's hand mysteriously floats up and out of reach.
At the same time several bums and students on the roofs above
drop hundreds of identical documents into the alley below. The
affect looks like snow from the alley below)

                            TRUSTEE

(reaching)

What the....

(jumps)

What in the world is going on here?!

(picks up one of the copies)

I got it!

(carries it over to the light source)

No signature! So that's the game you're playing, huh, lady? Just
remember you're not getting your kids back until I get the deed
with the signature.

(scoops up more copies, holds them up to the light)

No signature. Albert, help me find the deed with the signature!

                           ENGINEER

(scoops up copies)

We agreed not to use our real names, remember? I'm Mr Green and
your Mr Blue, remember?

(brings them under the light)

                            TRUSTEE

(scoops up more copies)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, just find the deed with the signature.

(holds them up to the light one at a time)

No signature, no signature, no signature. Just remember, Mrs
Albright, you don't get the kids back until I find the deed with
the signature. No signature. No signature, no signature, no
signature.

(scoops up more copies)

Did you hear me, Mrs Albright? I said you don't get the kids
back until....

(looks up, Mrs Albright has disappeared)

Albert, where did she go?!

                           ENGINEER

No signature.

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

Mr Blue, did you have a question for Mr Green?

                            TRUSTEE

You idiot, I asked you where she went!

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

                           ENGINEER

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

You don't have to get offensive, Mr Blue. I don't know where Mrs
Albright went. I'm not in charge of Mrs Albright. We agreed that
I'm in charge of the rug rats, remember?

                            TRUSTEE

(drops copies, gasps)

The rug rats!

(turns and sees that the kids are gone too)

You idiot! They're gone! The kids are gone!

                           ENGINEER

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

Good riddance! I hate kids anyway. You don't have to get
offensive, Mr Blue.

                            TRUSTEE

You idiot! Mrs Albright got the kids back and we got nothing!

                           ENGINEER

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

I'm not even going to talk to you if you use that tone of voice
with me.

                            TRUSTEE

Did you hear what I said?! I said Mrs Albright got the kids back
and we got nothing!

                           ENGINEER

(looks both ways, shrugs shoulders, drops copies, scoops up more
copies)

Well, we know the deed with the signature is here somewhere.

                            TRUSTEE

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

Yes, but it could take us all night to find it.

                           ENGINEER

(drops copies, scoops up more copies)

Yeah, well, I've got plenty of time. I got fired, remember?

                            TRUSTEE

(examining papers)

Now I know why.

                           ENGINEER

(examining papers)

Was that a wise crack?!

                            TRUSTEE

I'm just saying, now that Mrs Albright got the kids back, she
might call the pol....

(red and blue lights flash and headlights flood their faces)

                             BOTH

Oh oh!


INT MORNING WIDE: ALYSSA'S DINING ROOM

(All but Punky are seated at the table, Punky enters)

                             PUNKY

Good morning, everybody. How did it go last night?

                            ALYSSA

(pushes a newspaper toward Punky)

It's in the morning paper. Read for yourself.

                             PUNKY

(reads)

"Local Orphanage owner cleared of all charges."

What happened to the kidnappers?

                            ALYSSA

It's on page two.

(Punky unfolds paper)

Wait. Read the by-line first.

                             PUNKY

(gasps)

By Lois Lane and Kit Kitridge! You mean the Tribune ran our
story?!

                            ALYSSA

I added a couple paragraphs on the end about what happened last
night. But, yeah, the rest of it is YOUR scoop.

                             PUNKY

(stands, raises hands)

My big scoop!

(sits, reads)

Wait a minute. I don't see YOUR name in the by-line. Why didn't
you put your name there too?

                            ALYSSA

I'm just the editor. You're the reporter. Besides, if I put my
name on it, people will ask me questions.

(smiles at Mom and Dad)


EXT MORNING WIDE: SIDEWALK OUTSIDE ALYSSA'S HOUSE

(Alyssa and Punky come out of front door and down the stairs.
Bitsy enters frame as Punky reaches sidewalk, they continue down
the sidewalk. Alyssa turns the opposite way.)

                             BITSY

(broad smile)

Good Morning, Lois Lane.

                             PUNKY

(broad smile)

Good Morning, Kit Kitridge.

                            ALYSSA

(Stops, turns, points over shoulder)

School is this direction. Where are you going?

(Bitsy and Punky stop and turn)

                             PUNKY

We're going after our next big scoop.

                             BITSY

And this one could win us a Pulitzer Prize.

                            ALYSSA

What big scoop?

                             PUNKY

We're going to cover the story that nobody is talking about.

                            ALYSSA

And just what is the story that nobody is talking about?

                             PUNKY

Who was protecting Mrs Albright and the orphans while she was in
hiding?

                             BITSY

We think it was the homeless guys.

                            ALYSSA

The homeless guys? Good luck with that.

(turns, walks, eyes widen)

                            DEEANNE

(enters frame, walks along side)

Good morning, chief.

                            ALYSSA

We've got problems.

                            DEEANNE

What do you mean?

                            ALYSSA

Lois Lane and Kit Kitridge are investigating the bums.

                            DEEANNE

They are?! Why?

                            ALYSSA

They think the bums were protecting Mrs Albright and the orphans
while they were in hiding.

(Camera zooms out and elevates, as the girls pass beneath)

                            DEEANNE

Wow! How are we going to cover this up?

                            ALYSSA

You round up the newspaper staff. I'll warn the other bums.


2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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